Once the noise had diminished and nothing more seemed to be falling on him, Hans Octavius Wilhem stood up and avalanches of plaster dust fell off him in a fog. Wiping the powder from his helmet, the Iron Marshal peered through the clouds to survey the damage.
Fortunately the Mansion of Samuel Colt had been sturdily built. Thick walls of brick had cushioned the building from the explosion in Tesla’s lab. Aside from the coating of white dust and destruction to the fragile and expensive decorations, it seemed that it wouldn’t take much to restore the building.
Its owner, however, may well be a different story.
Pushing through the dust, Wilhem stomped toward the last place he’d seen Colt and Jack Lightning– tumbling down the hallway a second before the lab behind them errupted. The hallway outside the lab was scorched and fire still raged within, but there didn’t seem to be immediate danger.
There was a rattling cough beneath him.
Dust spilled off the tangled bodies as Marshal Lightning – having shielded the elderly Colt with her body – stood up and appeared none the worse for wear. In fact, the dust all but jumped off her and she was practically pristine by the time Colt stumbled to his feet. In the time Wilhem had partnered with Lightning, he’d never seen anything up to, and including, horse manure stick to her and the fastidious German was eager to replicate the ability. But right now, grooming was far from his mind.
“Iz anyvone hurt?” Wilhem’s voice rattled from behind the mask.
“Fine here,” Jack replied and Colt nodded though he did so through a racking fit of coughing. Both marshals were already helping him to the door.
Outside, the men of Camp Colt were running to and fro, getting any watertight container they could and ferrying water over the fire. Wendel Kane, despite nearly falling victim to the conflaguration, put two water barrels over each his shoulders and emptied them in a torrent through the blazing window. Wilhem, no stranger to the pyrotechnic hazards of lab work, directed the Mountain Marshal and anyone in earshot to start scooping up sand, salt or anything else that might smother the fire. With all the marshals pitching in, the lab was extinguished and no one the worse for it, save the Indian who had ignited the blaze, and Tesla who wailed in despair into the hours over the loss of his work.
Categorizing his mansion as uninhabitable, Samuel Colt hitched a ride with the Marshals back to Ascension to take up a room at the luxurious Etheric Delights. Along the way, the full tale of the tribe’s revenge was recounted.
“Those miserable Ithacan bastards are going to pay for this!” He swore.
“Ithaca lost out on this too, Mr Colt,” Lightning said, warning the old gunsmith away from any thoughts of retribution.
Returning to Ascension, everyone aboard gratefully left Wilhem’s Iron Tank, having spent entirely too much time onboard and took to their beds with zeal outmatched only by weariness.
Having rested until near midday, the marshals decided that it would be best to familiarise themselves with the town and its people properly, seeing as how introductions had been brief and tense since their stay. Wilhem learnt that Dr Richard Gasket had his hands full treating the now recovering blacksmith, Max Volker. Dr Gasket had also been tasked with tending to the injuries sustained to the horses beserk stampede. Not willing to get press-ganged into play vet, Wilhem left.
Jack Lightning introduced herself to the General Store’s owner, Fannie-May Garrett. Business-woman, widow and part-time teacher to the town’s nine children, Fannie was only too happy to recount her experiences in Ascension to the marshal. That is until Jack asked how a woman had fared in a town made up of two camps of miners and engineers. Busying herself with her counter and deflecting the conversation, Jack decided not to push it, instead saving the questions for Cole ‘Buckshot’ Buchannen when she went back to the Ignit-Inn for lunch.
“Mrs Garrett’s a fine and capable woman, Marshal Lightning,” Buckshot said while pouring her a scotch. “But with only one lawman in town and her being on her own, she needed to look for other protection.
“Spokey Sampson, the crime boss?” Jack said though she and Wilhem – who had joined her for lunch and was already nodding sagely – knew the answer.
“Yes, ma’am,” Buckshot whispered. “With Harry Winsom as her security, ain’t no one willing to try anything funny with her.”
Jack tasted something sour and it wasn’t the whiskey. Harry Winsom was definitely going to be a problem best left to her lightning coil guns.
It was a thought that would have to keep though as the sound of an automobile, much less noisy than Wilhem’s contraption, drove through the main street and pulled up alongside Etheric Delights. Out of the automobile stepped Leroy Smith and William Henry Baker, Ithaca’s management and, no doubt, here to speak with Colt.
Deciding to introduce Jack Lightning and Wendel Kane to Etheric Delights, the three marshals stepped quickly to follow the two men from Ithaca inside.
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF THE COLT APOLLO: SIXTH SALVO