Gravity and shock from the bullet conspired to send Brendan Windlass crashing to the roof of the Ignit-Inn. Jack Lightning beat them both though as she tackeled the Colt foreman to the ground, just as a second shot rang out and a spark kicked up where they both had stood. The Lightning Marshal, distracted by the blood gurgling out of Windlass’s lungs, as well as making sure that neither of them was no longer a target, was unable to identify the position of the shooter.
Wendell Caine, however, was not so encumbered. The first shot snapped his head toward Etheric Delights and, as he charged toward the building, the second shot zeroed the location on a room on the third floor. Not one to make plans, seek cover, or even zig-zag his path, The Mountain Marshal stormed across the street in a direct line for the gunman.
Hans Octavius Wilhem had positioned himself so that he, in his 12 gauge thick iron armour, protected as many of the assembled Colt and Ithaca workers as possible. The Iron Marshal was about to follow Caine across the street until Jack Lightning appeared beside him with the still bleeding Brendan Windlass over her shoulder– the Lightning Marshal having left the roof, descended three floors and joining Wilhem before Caine had reached the shadow of Etheric Delights. Taking Windlass from her, Wilhem moved him behind the walls of the Ignit-Inn to diagnose the extent of his injuries. Concentrating soley on keeping the foreman alive, the Iron Marshal barely noticed Lightning taking off after Caine.
As the Mountain Marshal reached the foot of Etheric Delights, a hand as tough as worn stone clutching onto the railing of the first floor verandah. Hard muscle did the rest as Caine powered up the building. It may not have been as pretty as Jack Lightning, but he wasn’t leaving the gunman any time to fire a third shot either. With even less regard for style, Caine’s bear, Smokey, charged through the front door of the whorehouse and gambolled up the stairs, customers pouring out the door in his wake.
Landing on the third floor balcony, Caine saw the barrel of a rifle protruding from a window. It was partly closed and the curtains drawn, serving to mask the gunman at long range it was now to the detriment of the rifleman who was forced to employ the long-ranged weapon into close-range purpose. Caine simply wound his fist back and sent it crashing through the window, his knuckles finding the familiar feel of fragile flesh and crushing it to the ground. The rest of the Mountain Marshal followed through the window, glass shattering around him as he leapt into the room.
The gunman was laid out on the floor, the rifle poking upward like a flagpole on account of a large green-lensed telescope which was both fastened to the rifle and to the gunman’s eyesocket. The rest of the room was all shadows save for the moonlight that streamed through the broken window and reflected off the edge of razor-sharp metal. An accomplice shared the room with one other, hiding himself behind one of the scantily clad women who, no doubt, worked here. One arm was wrapped around her corsetted waist, the other holding the glinting knife to her throat. The consequences of closing the distance between marshal and outlaw were clear and Caine, knowing he couldn’t reach him quick enough to stop him, slowly moved his calloused hands toward the rifle strapped behind his shoulders instead. He didn’t have a chance.
One booted foot landed on the water trough outside Etheric Delights. The second landed on the hitching post next to it and, leaping from floor to floor, Jack Lightning dove through the broken window, rolled to her feet, drew one of her Lightning Coil Throwers, and fired, all before her duster coat brushed her spurred heels. The normally lethal electric gun would have killed both outlaw and hostage but, thanks to Wilhem’s modifications, the reduced charged simply stunned them both, sending them crashing to the floor. The worse thing the woman would feel was a pounding headache. For the outlaw, it would be the least of his troubles. Behind the collapsed pair, the door exploded inward and Smokey lumbered into the room, a third outlaw dangling by his britches between the jaws of the giant bear.
Meanwhile, Hans Octavius Wilhem bent both his skill and the four mechanical arms mounted on his armour to the task of preventing Windlass from drowning in his own blood. The Iron Marshal was the first to admit that his knowledge of the inner working of machines far outstripped his knowledge of the inner workings of men and, as he put it, his skills were limited to ‘First-Aid’. Fortunately in the wild frontier, First-Aid included a surgeon’s ability to treat bullet wounds and, having removed the bullet and suturing what he could with the resources available, he ensured that Colt would retain their foreman after a considerable amount of bedrest. Tasking two of the workers from the mob of onlookers, he ordered them to find a stretcher and get Windlass to Dr Richard Garrett. Rising to his feet, the Iron Marshal stormed toward Etheric Delights, certain that what limited skills in medicine he had would be needed within.
Despite his feet barely brushing the ground and powerful teeth and claws mere inches from rending him apart, the outlaw had one last card to play.
“You’re too late! My partner’s got Colt hostage!” the rest of the threat lost to another gunshot that echoed a floor below them. Colt’s room, Jack realised! Despite the chill that rushed down her spine, the marshal’s face was as hard and cold as granite. Her body though flowed like liquid as she sped toward the broken window, jumped over the balcony, sent one hand out to grasp onto the railing and swung herself down through the window of Samuel Colt’s room.
Inside, the eldery Colt was propped between floor and wall, blood pouring out of his shoulder. The Lightning Marshal couldn’t determine whether it had perforated the lung and, for the moment, didn’t care for the millisecond it took to deal with the outlaw with the smoking gun. Jack had only needed one hand to effect her entry to the room, the other still brandishing the Lighting Coil Thrower which discharged again into the chest of the gunman. He crashed to the floor in a convulsing heap as Octavius Wilhem stomped onto the second floor.
Upstairs, Caine detained the third outlaw captured by Smokey by punching him until he stopped moving. Downstairs the Iron Marshal was hoping that Colt would still be able to move. The elderly industrialist’s breathing was ragged and, sparing no time at all in a charge that would have made the marshal one floor above proud, plowed a straight line toward Samuel Colt, casting furniture, glassware and crockery aside with each step. Cradling Samuel Colt, Wilhem stormed out, commandeering one the rooms down the hall, evicting its occupants who had thought to keep their heads low and hide until the shooting and smashing stopped. But there was still one more outlaw left.
Strolling into the second floor room, his feet a measured pace and in stark contrast to the blur his hands made, Harry Winsome drew his guns. Each hand was filled with the elemental fury of a Hellfire pistol as it disgorged a ball of napalm. The first shot struck the still twitching criminal, consuming in a raging conflaguration that, undoubtedly, matched the deaths of the Colt engineers. The second round flew toward Jack Lightning, who was already rolling to the side as the fireball shot past her, while drawing the second Lightning Coil Thrower. Smoothly rising to her feet, reflexes for which the Lightning Clan was notorious the world over, send two bolts of electricity dead centre into Winsome’s chest.
And he stood there, still grinning as the sparks washed over him before being swallowed by a device fastened on his belt.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 4
Note: LiveJournal swallowed the first draft of this post, which I didn’t realise until I posted Part 4. I’m sad, pissed off and it’s 1:14am. Apologies to those reading it as I feel this is of poorer quality to the original draft and the rest of the entries, but it will have to do until I get the chance to edit it after some sleep.