Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 16: Bounty Bar

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I was in Josie’s Cantina in Los Alamos New Texas when I first hooked up with the McGuinness twins. They were ostensibly Independent Marshals working for the Alliance – or as it was called at that time the Empire. Independent marshals were really nothing more than bounty hunters. Although the Empire claimed sovereignty over the Independent Colonies, in reality it had little control over them. They paid the salaries of the local sheriffs – occasionally – in reality the sheriffs were a law unto themselves. The peculiar status of the Independent Colonies made them attractive to fugitives from Imperial Law. That the colonies still used the title Independent after the Alliance victory shows how little sway the Alliance, then the Empire, held over them.

Sheriff Sung had a drawer full of reward posters, he rarely acted on any of them. Sung kept the law his way and as long as someone caused no trouble he left them alone regardless of the rewards. Sung made a few exceptions foremost among them being child abusers, but for the most part that the Empire wanted someone locked up was enough to let them live free. This meant Los Alamos was a good place to find fugitives, however Sam Sung didn’t like trouble and he was as likely to shoot a bounty hunter as a fugitive, even licensed marshals became a legitimate target the moment they pulled their guns.

Sung had fought for the Independents in the Rebellion as it was called in official circles. However he kept order in his corner of the universe so the Empire left him alone. Given the Sheriff’s war record it was easier and more expedient to pay his wages and keep out of his way. The only Imperial law officers who ever landed on Los Alamos were the marshals, the official services had been advised to avoid New Texas as far as possible and Los Alamos in particular. So Sung was technically an Imperial Sheriff and effectively independent of any authority, that’s the way Sam sung liked it. His reputation was well known in law enforcement circles and Marshals only went to Los Alamos if they could see no alternative.

In law enforcement circles the only people with as deadly a reputation as Sung were the McGuinness twins. Like him they had fought on the ‘wrong side’. Like Sung the Empire ignored their past because they were too useful to interfere with, besides interference was too costly…it had been tried.

They had landed their ship “The Sword of Dumgoyach” in the hills outside town and rode into Los Alamos on horseback. Unusually for bounty hunters they tied up at the Sheriff’s office and went in. Sam rose as they entered and directed Brianna McGuinness to a chair, her brother Brian pulled up another and sat.

“I heard you’d become bounty hunters.” Said Sam without expression.

The girl smiled as she spoke, “Nice to see you too, Sam.”

“This is a quiet town and I like to keep it that way. What do you want here?”

Brian passed over a bundle of posters. Sung looked through them and asked,

“Again, what do you want?” Asked Sam.

“Just for you to keep out of the way, Sir.” Replied Brian.

The sheriff pulled half a dozen posters from the pile and said,” These you can’t have. As for as I’m concerned they are model citizens and family men.”

He pulled out several more, “As for as I’m aware none of these are in Los Alamos county.”

He indicated the remainder and demanded, “Tell me why I should let you have any of these.”

Brianna spoke first, “Walford Enders was a sergeant in the Imperial Rangers, he and these three deserted their posts in the Coelix Line. They joined up with the Cornet Gang and raided the Convent of the Holy Mother looking for loot. They spent three days raping the nuns then locked then in their cells before torching the convent and absconding with the altar vessels and several valuable pieces, some irreplaceable.”

“If you can take them without collateral damage, go ahead. If you can’t, don’t try.”

“We don’t expect to take them anywhere,” said Brian, “I doubt they’ll let us.

When Brian McGuinness walked into Josie’s Cantina he walked to the far end of the bar so that the clientelle were all between him and the main door. I was leaning on the bar talking to someone I had served with during the Rebellion. We both noticed the long brown coat the young man wore and turned to observe events. When he opened his coat the Marshal’s badge on his shirt was clearly visible. Slowly he surveyed the room and the room watched him as he pulled a bundle of Wanted Posters from his pocket. My companion slipped the loop from the hammer of his gun with one hand, the other went to hilt of his knife.

Six men at one of the tabled near the door stood up it looked as if they might start something, but it was a given that you didn’t disturb Tweed – my companion – when he was drinking so they backed out of the door. McGuinness followed them.

“If you go out there they’ll be waiting for you, son.” Warned Tweed, but Brian just smiled.

The shooting started before Brian had even reached the door so he leapt out through the window drawing two army Blasters as he went. He turned in the air and fired twice, missed once, hit the ground, rolled and as he came back to his feet in one seamless movement fired again, without missing.

Tweed and I walked slowly through the door. All six men were down, four dead and two who looked about ready to join them. The Sheriff was standing outside his office watching, he nodded to Tweed and went back into the office. The men had backed into the street where Brianna McGuinness had been waiting for them. Now she knelt beside one of the wounded men. I couldn’t see what she did, but he began to scream and then fell silent.

She looked at her brother and the two walked towards the hotel and House of Comfort. In front of the hotel Brian turned and cupped his hands in front of him. Brianna stepped into his hands and with a quick boost she landed silently on the first floor balcony drawing her sword as she landed. Brian drew his blasters again and went in the front door.

“After that racket they won’t be taking anyone by surprise!” Said Tweed.

As he spoke Brianna moved swiftly to one corner of the building as a large man dressed all in black leather carrying a hand cannon tiptoed round it only to find the girl’s sword point at his throat.

“I do wish they wouldn’t do that!” Tweed complained.

“Do what?”

“Stereotype themselves,” Tweed replied, “A guy robs a bank or two, kills a few people; next you know he’s dressed up in black leather and making a nuisance of himself,”

Enders suddenly swung his cannon towards the girl only to find his wrist held in a grip of iron as she pushed her sword through his throat and with a quick twist severed his head from his body. It rolled to the balcony rail and stared out into the street with an expression of such terror on its face that even I found it upsetting. From inside the hotel came a scream. Moments later a man naked except for his socks came out of the front door prodded forward by one of Brian’s blasters.

Brianna picked up Ender’s headless body with one hand and threw it into the street quickly followed by his head. Joey Cornet fell to his knees and vomited as he simultaneously lost control of his bowels.

Sam Sung’s voice came across from the Sheriff’s office. “If you’re thinking of bringing him in here, you can damn well hose him down first!”

Brianna wiped her sword and sheathed it as Brian pushed the sobbing Cornet towards the pump.

“Stop whining” Brian snapped, “If you hadn’t surrendered you wouldn’t be going though this!”

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