The Crossroads of the Aether
John comes out the doorway firing; answering fire comes from the main house. John drops behind a water trough as the outlaws pour out of the bunkhouse, and more lead flies out of the main house.
Two outlaws go down to the fire from the main house, while others take defensive positions around the ranch compound and return fire. Jack and Jim jump to take cover behind a buckboard.
Now what’s our next move?
Jim fires at the house.
We shoot and move, like this.
Jim fires and takes off for some nearby hay bales. He dives in and comes up firing.
The scary thing is, it actually sounds
a good idea.
He fires and moves for the hay bales, diving in beside Jim. Shots are exchanged between the outlaws and the gunmen for a beat with neither side able to get an obvious upper hand over the other.
An owl flies behind an outlaw who’s busy shooting at the main house, and morphs into Julie. She comes up on him, and smiles, bearing her fangs. She pounces on the outlaw, sinking those fangs deep into his throat.
He falls to the ground, dead. Julie looks around for another victim. She sees John breaking cover from the water trough and heading for the stables. With a feral grin she swoops in after him.
John comes into the stables and finds a small forge in the corner. He heads for the forge and sees the goals still glowing. He pumps the bellows, until they are red hot. Julie comes in while he’s doing that.
John looks up at her.
She walks towards him with a deliberate pace, and he cautiously takes a step back.
You must be that Colonel Kenyon
I’ve heard so much about.
And you must be…
He looks over her skimpy temple maiden ensemble.
…Cold in that outfit.
He jumps behind the forge. Julie continues on her way.
Oh don’t be afraid, it will only
hurt a little bit…
She bears her fangs.
…In fact I think that I’ll make
you one of us. I’ll have to ask
Mr. Thorne, but I don’t think he’ll
mind, now that he has his Phyrissa.
He kicks over the forge and the coals fall into the straw, which ignites quickly.
Julie backs away from the fire with a scream. A lick of flame reaches her skirt, and her dress goes up like an oil rag. Julie screams and staggers blindly into the roaring fire on the stable floor.
For a beat John watches as Julie writhes and screams like a banshee while she burns. Eventually she collapses to the floor a blazing husk. John shakes his head and clicks his tongue in mock disappointment.
Little girls shouldn’t play with
John turns and heads for the stalls, where the horses are rearing in fright. He opens the stalls, and the horses fly out. John runs to the stable doors and opens them, and the terrified horses flee through them.
The horses charge out in the ranch compound. John uses them to cover his movements as he makes his way to the main house. Once there he goes around a corner and makes his way to the back.
Jack, Jim, and the other outlaws hold their fire and watch in bemusement as the horses fill up the compound rearing in fear and confusion. Jack turns to the grinning Jim with a quizzical look.
What’s going on?
I think the Colonel just bought
us some cover.
Jim swings his rifle in a “come along” gesture.
Let’s go, boys, take the house!
The outlaws advance, moving between the horses. At the rear, Sandy is finishing off one of the stragglers. She turns to see Jack leading his men onto the porch, and smiles wickedly through the bloodstains on her face.
Ferris observes the situation through a window. He turns to face Thorne.
They’re rushin’ the house, and
that fire in the stable won’t take
long to get here. So what do we
Laurie glares triumphantly at Thorne.
Your doom is approaching, Krato.
John walks up the darkened hallway, his rifle held at the ready. He hears the sound of a creaking floorboard o.s. He swings the rifle violently around in the direction of sound. He finds himself pointing his rifle at Frenchy.
John looks over Frenchy’s ensemble.
I take it Thorne likes harem girls
Please, Atlantian temple maiden.
John gives Frenchy a wry grin.
Frenchy rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
Just give me a gun, and let’s get
on with this.
John takes out his left hand revolver and hands it to Frenchy.
Here, use it in good health.
The outlaws come onto the porch, taking positions by the windows and the door. Jack turns to Jim.
You fill up to kicking in that
Just watch me.
Ferris gestures towards the back with his gun hand.
Pull back into the hall…
Frenchy appears at the top of the stairs.
…They can only come through that
door one at a time…
Frenchy looks and sees John coming up the hall.
…So we can cut ‘em down as they
Frenchy sits on the banister and slides down it towards the vestibule, fanning her revolver into the massed group of gunmen. As she does this John lifts his Henry and empties it into the gunmen.
Jim kicks in the door just as Frenchy hits the bottom of the banister and flies to the floor. John rushes in to give Frenchy cover. The outlaws stream into the room and quickly overpower Thorne’s gunnies.
Taking advantage of the chaos Thorne hauls Laurie out the door, and Subotai blocks the way firing his pistol. He sees John coming up, and takes aim, only to hear a click as the hammer falls on an empty shell. He draws his saber.
Erlik guide my arm.
He raises his saber and charges John with a Mongol battle cry. John drops him with a single shot. He goes up to the Mongol’s body and looks down upon it.
You should have asked for more
cartridges, old son.
Slinking against the wall Ferris takes his chance to bolt through the door. John snaps off a shot at him. Ferris yowls and grabs his bad leg as he staggers out.
John runs out the door followed closely by Frenchy, Jack, and Jim. John turns to them.
They go out in different directions Jack heading around the burning bunkhouse. He ends up in a copse of trees; he hears a rustling in the underbrush and turns towards it with his rifle.
With a feral scream, Sandy pounces out of the bushes and tackles Jack to the ground. Jack looks up into her face as she gives him a predatory grin with her fangs, and pins him to the ground with superhuman strength.
Sorry, Jack, but you should have
listened to your Cornish mama
when she talked of ghosts and
ghoulies and long leggedy beasties…
She gets in his face.
…And now you’re going to become
a thing that goes bump in the night,
just like me.…
She opens wide for a bite and strikes at Jack’s throat like a rattler. Just before her fangs tear into his flesh, Frenchy comes up from behind with a jaggedly broken branch and drives it deep into Sandy’s back.
Sandy cries out and collapses over Jack. Frenchy pulls her off to one side then she helps Jack back to his feet. Jack looks horrified at Sandy’s body. Frenchy gives him a very sardonic expression.
Sorry, Jack but I just don't think
she was the right girl for you.