Clockwerk Calamity: PreludebyTom_Richter©
He rolled a cigarette while he waited.
He sat atop a small rise in the surrounding prairie that stretched as far as can be seen in every direction. Behind him to the North, just at the edge of vision, lay the town of Blackwater. He found a match in his vest pocket and struck it against the cold iron of his left arm. The flame danced in the breeze as it licked at the tip of the cigarette. He took a long drag, filling his mouth with the sweet flavor of tobacco before snuffing the match out beneath his heel. The sound of horseshoes crunching their way up the trail to the overlook set him on edge. Slowly, three men creeped over the rise on horseback, with an Indian woman trailing behind them on foot. Her hands were bound by coarse hemp rope which was in turn tied to the horn of one man's saddle. He pulled another mouthful of smoke, exhaled it slowly from his nostrils, and stood to greet them. "Harvey Hughes and the Mesa Devils. I ain't seen you boys this far North in a spell."
The lead man, older than his twin companions by near on a decade, dismounted and gave him a quick nod of acknowledgment. "Kincade," he said with a smile.
"What brings you big bad lawbreakers out of your stompin' grounds down in the desert?" Kincade asked, greeting the man as one would an old friend.
"Things got a little too hot for us down South after we robbed the bank in Franklin. Thought we'd ride for cooler climes till the weather clears."
"I can appreciate that," Kincade replied, hefting his large black trunk with his clockwork arm and depressing the button on its side. It caused four mechanically-assisted legs to unfold from its bottom, creating a waist-high bench at his side. "Your letter said you wanted to do some business. What can I do for you and your boys?"
"Always business, Kincade. Don't you ever have no fun?"
"Our ideas of fun ain't exactly in alignment," Kincade answered, nodding toward the captive woman at the back of the group.
"Lighten up, Kincade. You take life too seriously. Always have. Maybe you should run with me and the crew for a while. See if we can't loosen them nuts and bolts some."
"I walk on the right side of the law, Harvey, you know that. I can't go tarnishing my sterling reputation by pullin' bank jobs and robbin' coaches."
"Don't stop you from profiting from it none, does it?"
"We got business to transact or not? I didn't meet you up on this rock to trade barbs."
"Fine, fine. Have it your way. Mostly what we need is powder and shot. Burned through most of what we had robbin' that bank and ain't been able to resupply since."
"Easy enough." Kincade produced a small silver key from his pocket and unlocked the trunk. "What else you need?"
"Need you to take a look at the pepperbox you outfitted Tommy with last we crossed paths. Damn thing developed a nasty habit of firing off all four barrels at once. It ain't much use in a shoot out."
"Let me see it." Kincade reached inside his trunk and produced a bag of shot and another of powder while Hughes retrieved the rifle from his companion.
"Never should have bought this Russian junk in the first place," Hughes said, more to himself than anyone else, as he turned the quad-barreled weapon over for inspection.
"What's with the native girl?" Kincade asked after taking the weapon, laid it on his makeshift desk, and retrieved some tools from inside its depths.
"Caught her and a few of her savage friends trying to steal from our camp one night. Violent sons of whores they was, but we put an end to that. Tex thought she'd be fun to keep around for recreation." Harvey chuckled. "Ain't that right, Tex?"
Tex nodded, maintaining his grim silence.
"How long you had her?"
"Just about a fortnight, I reckon."
"Here's your problem," Kincade said, holding up the weapon for Harvey to see the exposed mechanism. "You're not cleaning this beauty like I told you. The thing was made for brass cartridges, not paper. Paper's got the whole thing all fouled up. If you want to keep using paper, you need to keep it properly maintained."
"Brass is too expensive. 'Sides, you show me proof they ain't nothing but a gimmick to earn you more profits," Harvey replied.
Kincade shrugged. "Suit yourself, but it means twice as much work keeping a piece like this in working order." Kincade began reassembling the weapon. "This enough supplies to get you by, or you reckon you need more?"
"Depends on how much trouble there is to get into up in Blackwater," Harvey replied with a smile.
"Ain't much trouble in Blackwater unless you mean to make it," Kincade answered, snapping the final pieces of the weapon back into place and tightening the screws.
"I aims to lay low, but trouble tends to follow me like a cloud, if you take my meaning. How much do I owe you?"
"I'll take the squaw and we can call it even." Kincade tilted his head toward the woman.
"I don't know. My boy Tex is awfully partial to her. What do you think, Tex?"
The young man shook his head silently.
"Listen, Tex, them folks in Blackwater ain't going to take kindly to you ridin' into town draggin' a slave behind you. If you aim to lie low, you're going to need to cut her loose. Might as well let me take her off your hands and save you some hassle."
Tex ran his grimy index finger in a line across his throat.
"Looks like Tex has other plans," Harvey added.
"Then we have a problem," Kincade said, unsnapping the loop on his holster. "I'm taking the squaw. The how of it I leave up to you."
Harvey turned long enough to toss Tommy his weapon, then smiled. "You know what your problem is, Kincade? Once you get a fool idea into your head, there's no shakin' it loose. Tex ain't givin' up his native, and I ain't 'bout to let you take her. Best pack up that fancy box of yours and take a walk before I decide to take your threat personal-like."
Slowly, Kincade folded his trunk closed, locking it with a loud click. Hefting it off the ground, he hit the control to retract the legs and stood with it between him and the others. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
Kincade lunged forward, foisting the massive box at Hughes, knocking the man over and depositing its crushing weight onto the man's chest. Leaping over the trunk, he drew his pistol with his free hand and squeezed off two shots at Tex while running for cover behind a rocky outcropping.
He peered out of cover and squeezed off two more rounds at Tex, knocking him out of the saddle as Tommy took aim with the pepper box. Training his iron on Tommy, he snapped off the final two rounds while charging at him. To Tommy's dismay, the weapon would not fire leaving him open to Kincade's rush.
Kincade unseated the younger man, pulling him to the ground and pummeling him with his iron fist. As each bone-crunching blow connected with the man's face, his eyes grew distant until he was finally out cold. Turning to Tex, he found the man struggling on the ground with a rope around his neck. He stood by and watched until the woman choked him out, but stepped in before she could finish him off entirely.
"I know he hurt you something fierce, but don't make yourself a killer on his account," he said, unsure if she would even understand English. He pulled a knife from his belt and cut the ropes binding her hands, then turned his attention to Harvey, who lay floundering on the ground, struggling with the trunk full of guns and ammunition. Taking a seat atop the trunk, he looked down at his helpless prey.
"You know what your problem is, Hughes?" he said as he pulled out his tobacco to roll another cigarette. "You think you're a big dog in this wide open world of ours. Now, I could kill you, save this world all manner of grief, but we got history and that still means something to me. I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to tie you and your boys up and put you on some horses and point them in the direction of Blackwater. Then I'm going to take the native woman and we're going to be on our way. Now, you can fight me on this, and I know you're thinkin' about it right now, but I promise you no amount of history between us is going to stop me from defending myself and that woman."
"Fine, just get this thing off of me," Harvey wheezed.
Kincade took the time to finish rolling his cigarette, lit it, then reloaded his Peacemaker before pulling the trunk off Harvey and taking his weapon away from him. He had Harvey get on his horse then bound his hands to the horn before loading the twins onto a second horse and binding them as well. Once they were all loaded, he set the horses galloping off into the distance, leaving him alone with the native woman.
"You speak English?" he asked as he took a seat on his trunk.
"Little some," she replied, sitting on the ground in front of him.
"You got a name?"
"Nittawosew," she answered.
"Well, Nittawosew, you're free now. I don't know what them boys did to you, but I can make a fair guess of it. You'll get no such treatment from me."
"You take me home?" she asked hopefully.
"I'll take you as far as I'm going. I don't know where home is for you, but I'm headed Southeast to Calamity. Once we're there, you're on your own."
He awoke feeling a tugging at his waist. Instinctively, his hand reached for the iron at his side. His eyes opened slowly as he gripped the revolver and eased it slowly from its holster. With an all-too-familiar click, his thumb pulled back the hammer. He leaned upward just enough to find Nittawosew unbuckling his belt. He relaxed the hammer back into it's resting position and pushed his weapon back snugly into the holster just as she pulled his belt free of his pants.
"What are you doing that for?" he asked quietly. "I told you, you don't owe me none for your freedom." Kincade pushed her hair back behind an ear so he could see her face more clearly.
"Make love me now," she replied hungrily.
"I hardly know you. Darling. I certainly don't know you well enough to make love to you."
Her hands lifted up his shirt and her delicate lips planted downy kisses on his abdomen. Her fingers caressed his chest, dragging smoothly downward until the reached the flies of his trousers. Pulling them free, her fingers gripped the waistband and pulled downward, her lips following the newly revealed path of skin. Kincade leaned his head back, watching the smoke from the dying fire as it trailed up toward the stars. He sighed heavily, accepting her determination.
She worked at removing his pants which he facilitated by raising his hindquarters. Once she had him stripped of his pants, she removed her clothes and knelt at his side, hands gently squeezing her breasts. He watched her for a moment before pushing himself upward and reaching out to graze her thigh with the rough tips of his fingers and as he did her lips parted, issuing a barely perceptible gasp. Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her close and began nibbling at the crook of her neck, her shoulder, her collar bone.
Reaching down, she grasped his hard cock with her smooth, cool hand and began stroking it slowly. His hand roamed the grounds of her back, fingers digging into her russet skin. She pushed him back onto the ground and shifted forward, taking him into the tight wet confines of her velvet glove. Pressing down on his chest, she rocked slowly back and forth on her knees, sliding up and down the length of his shaft. His hands gripped her hips, careful not to apply the crushing strength of his steel fingers, and punctuated her motions with sharp, hard, thrusts. Her moans echoed in the cool night air as her pace quickened and she called out to the skies in the native tongue he could not comprehend. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she began to slow with each thrust, drawing out great shuddering gasps. He gripped her tighter, forcing her to continue faster and harder until finally he exploded inside her with one last, violently deep thrust.
She lie down atop him, spreading her warm body over his as the last spasms of his quivering cock shot through her. He released her hips and folded his arms around the small of her back, the cold steel sending a shiver through her. Her hair played in the soft breeze, and once more he turned his attention to the stars. Tomorrow, they would complete their three-day journey to Calamity. Tomorrow, he would send her on her way back to her people.