Goldrun, Revisited: Part Six
Goldrun sat on the horizon, blurry in the desert heat. Ellie carefully examined the town with a spyglass before handing it back to Pete.
“There’re a lot of ‘em,” she announced to the others. “They’re all heavily armed. It won’t be easy, and riding in there as we are wouldn’t be wise.”
“What’s your plan then?” Pete asked.
She looked around the gathered group. She had the native braves, they would be useful... but the rest of her gathered force consisted of a general store manager, an old man who had lived in the mountains for years, a Neovian clerk, and a convict.
“I don’t know yet,” she sighed.
In the distance, a small underground explosion rocked the town.
“Looks like they’re already starting to expand the mine,” Pete observed.
“I’m going to talk to Jonas,” Ellie said as last, before walking off towards the back of the wagon.
Victor joined her a moment later.
“I appreciate your offer to help, Victor, but ya really don’t have to,” Ellie told him. “Ya have a life in Neovia to go back to if you like; this is very dangerous.”
“I don’t,” Victor said suddenly. “Have a life to go back to, that is.”
“Remember I said I worked as a low level clerk in the town hall?” Victor asked. “Well, I was so low level that after the election they got rid of me. I was sacked, and then because I couldn’t pay the bills I got evicted. When I was going through my stuff I found your note, and just hoped I wasn’t too late to start again here. I don’t have anything to go back to; I came to start a new life in Goldrun.”
Ellie nodded, and patted him on the shoulder gently.
“Besides, you said I have good aim. Maybe you’ll need me,” he said, brightening slightly.
“Maybe.” Ellie smiled.
She turned and lifted the canvas flap of the wagon, revealing the caged Jonas within.
“Hello, Jonas,” Ellie greeted him.
“Clickerty-Clack,” the Techo replied.
“Clickerty-Clack to you too,” Ellie said, almost playfully. “I’m here to ask ya for some help, Jonas.”
“Clickerty... Clack?” he seemed to ask, putting his head on one side.
“See, the thing I’ve always said about you, Jonas, is that you’re insane, not stupid,” Ellie continued. “There’s a difference. No stupid man would be able to escape from my cells a total of seven times. But now... I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong, maybe you’re not insane either.”
“See last night you looked into my eyes and I saw something in them, and it wasn’t a crazed killer...” Ellie added. “It was a cold one. Calculating.”
“Clickerty-Clack!” Jonas shouted.
“There are a lot of liars in Goldrun, that’s certainly truer than ever,” Ellie explained. “Jason Farley lied about his father’s disappearance, Pete Farley lied about his memory, Victor here lied about his reasons for coming to our fair town, even old Doc Brown lies about his secret stash of Kraku Berry Juice he thinks I don’t know about. Then we come to you.”
“Jonas Hemmity,” Ellie cut across him. “The Clickerty-Clack Killer. There are entire families no longer living in Goldrun thanks to ya. How did folks explain it? Oh, he’s crazy. Must be. Just listen to him talk. But it’s a lie, isn’t it...? Constructed to make people accept what you’ve done. It’s a lie so great that you’d go down in history as Goldrun’s worst even criminal. I know you can talk, Jonas.”
“Fine,” the Techo growled.
“Now I’m not offering you a pardon,” Ellie continued. “You’ve done some horrible things in your time, and you need to be behind bars. But I’m offering you the chance to keep what you’ve made for yourself.”
“What do you mean?” Jonas asked.
“Seems to me that if we fail, Jason Farley will be the one who’s remembered in years to come,” Ellie told him. “They’ll sing songs about how he managed to outwit Sheriff Ellie, and the Clickerty-Clack Killer will be a forgotten page in history. Help us, and you’ll still be Goldrun’s Most Wanted.”
Jonas seemed to consider this.
“Fine,” he agreed. “Never did like him anyway.”
Ellie smiled half to herself, before leaving the Techo to his own devices.
“So, do you have a plan?” Victor asked as they rejoined the others.
“Yes, but it involves us all splitting up,” Ellie began to explain. “Surprise is the key element.”
Victor pressed himself against the roof of the building as flatly as he could. In one hand he held a special hunting rifle that Pete had lent him. He only had one cork for it, though, so he would need to make sure his shot was a good one.
He peered over the rooftop down at the street below. Men in black coats were milling around, all armed.
From across the street, he caught movement atop another of the houses. Flagrant Dohicky gave him a reluctant thumbs up as he got into position.
In the alleyways between the buildings, Victor thought he could see shadows moving; undoubtedly the braves were also getting ready.
Down the street, Sheriff Ellie passed under the town sign. Victor could see as the hired gunmen in the street tensed.
The door to the Sheriff’s office opened with force, and Jason Farley strode out like he owned the place. Victor could see even from his distant perch the gleam from the shadow Lupe’s teeth as he grinned widely.
“Ellie!” he called. “We were wondering when you’d get back.”
“You’re under arrest, Jason,” she replied simply, coming to a dead stop ten paces away.
Her hand paused over her holsters.
“Ya really think you’re quicker than me?” she asked.
“Do I need to be?” Jason smirked. “Look around you, Ellie; even if you hit me, ten of my men will take my place. You think you’re faster than that, Ellie?”
“That’s cheating,” Ellie told him.
“Then it appears I’m a cheat!” Jason laughed. “Is that against the law, Ellie?”
“That’s Sheriff Ellie to you,” she snapped back.
“I’m Sheriff now,” Jason sneered.
“I still have a badge that says otherwise,” Ellie countered.
She unclipped the star from her shirt and threw it to the ground. It spun as it travelled, embedding itself in the dirt exactly halfway between the two of them.
“If you want it, all you need to do is reach it in time,” Ellie threatened.
Jason smiled to himself. “Like I said, I’ve got people on my side. By the time you reload, it’ll all be over.”
Ellie seemed to twitch slightly.
Victor took his cue. He aimed the weapon, struggling to keep his hands steady with the nerves. It had been different with the tin cans; they hadn’t mattered, but this did.
He tried to remember Ellie’s advice.
Take your time...
Down on the street, Ellie smiled to herself.
“Ya know something about cheats?” she asked. “All of ‘em seem to think they are the only ones capable of it. Well let me tell ya, Jason...”
“...I can cheat too.”
What followed happened at what seemed like the speed of light. Jason’s face fell as he saw Ellie’s finger’s move for her cork gun. He moved for his own, but Ellie shot from the hip, and the cork hit Jason’s hand, causing him to drop his weapon. It fired as it hit the ground, emptying the chamber.
The two gunmen directly flanking Jason reacted, the one on the right drawing his gun. From his rooftop vantage point, Victor fired his single shot with pinpoint accuracy. The cork hit the Skeith directly in the forehead, sending him toppling backwards.
Across the street, Flagrant Dohicky dropped a plant pot from the rooftop, hitting the gunman below on the head and knocking him out.
The remaining gunmen found natives suddenly appearing out of nowhere behind them, and agreed to drop their weapons.
Meanwhile, the gunman on the left of Jason moved swiftly towards the Lupe, producing a rusty knife as he went. His hat fell to the floor, revealing a green Techo. Jonas Hemmity grabbed Jason from behind.
“Clickerty-Clack!” he proclaimed as he held the knife to his throat. “Now stay still!”
In just a few seconds, Jason’s entire posse had been completely overcome.
Apart from one...
One lone gunman stood away from the rest, gun ready and aimed beneath his wide brimmed hat.
“What are you waiting for, you idiot!?” Jason demanded. “Shoot her!”
The trigger on the weapon relaxed, and the Neopet lowered the gun. He threw his hat to the ground, revealing the face of a tired old grey Lupe.
“Not today, son,” he replied sadly.
“You!” Jason screamed. “You’re dead!”
Ellie walked closer, and whispered so only he could hear, “And as I said, you are under arrest.”
Ellie leaned back from her desk, having finished the last of her paperwork.
She glanced up from her work to the other occupants of the Sheriff’s office. Jonas was once again back in his cell, and was sat moodily in one corner, having become acutely aware that he could no longer play the insanity card and shout “Clickerty-Clack!” whenever he pleased.
The other cell had two occupants. Jacek, the mutant Mynci, had graciously agreed to share a cell with Jason.
“Jonas, Jason, and Jacek.” Ellie smirked to herself. “Would be nice to have a little variety in here.”
There was a polite knock at the door before it was pushed open. Victor peered round.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” he asked.
“No, not at all!” Ellie replied.
“It’s getting quite cramped in here,” Victor observed.
“Not for much longer,” Ellie replied. “Now that Pete’s back in control of the mine, he found the company’s bank accounts were almost overflowing with Neopoints. He’s offered to build an extension. We should have more space than we need in a few months.”
“That’s good to hear...” Victor said. “I’m planning on staying, by the way. Though, my savings are running out so I’ll have to come to some arrangement with Mrs. Makepeace. Maybe I can be a bartender!”
“About that...” Ellie considered, fishing around in one of her desk drawers. “I wouldn’t have been able to stop Jason if it wasn’t for the help y’all gave me. It seems like maybe this job’s bigger than just me.”
“What are you trying to say?” Victor asked.
“When this place gets an extension, there’ll be enough room for two desks,” Ellie said with a smile.
She threw the object she had been looking for at Victor, who caught it. It was a gold star, with the word ‘Deputy’ written across it.
“That’s if ya want to, of course,” Ellie continued. “I just thought, seeing as ya proved yourself handy with a weapon. But maybe you’ve always wanted to be a bartender, I don’t know.”
“It would be an honour,” Victor said proudly, pinning the badge to his shirt.
Ellie smiled widely, “Good. Well then, let’s get to work... partner.”