I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all of the difference

rating: +17+x

April 29, '86

Finally put a few states between me and Riddle. Unfortunately, the Consortium don't have limited jurisdiction, as far as I know, they actually have unlimited.

Haven't seen them sense though, but I am not taking any chances. They wanted to know about Yello some business I had a few years ago, some nasty business, so I wasn't in the mood the chat. I mean, I wasn't from the gec-co, but still.

About to leave camp right now. I knew that homestead didn't have that many cans of beans, but it's only been three days, guess I'm hungrier then I realize. I think I might go to an actual town, I saw one near by. I reckon it safe enough, as long as I won't get trigger happy again.

Rivers hadn't seen civilization in months. Now he's entering a new town, in the middle of nowhere, with barely any supplies, and fleeing from a dangerous situation. This is the second time he's done this this year.

He passed over the red clay roads and past a waning, wooden sign that barely read "Welcome to Bandana, Texas."

It was a typical town of the west. Main street had the only real buildings in town, and houses dotted the surrounding area. A few large ranches, most of which seemed empty, could also be seen.

Rivers trotted up to the general store and hitched his horse by it. He didn't have a lot of money, but hopefully enough to buy some food. As he was about to enter, he heard a man yell at him.

"Hey you! You going into Huntson's store!" Nathan froze, and turned to the voice. He saw two grimy looking men with beards that were starting to turn gray.

Not sure what else to do, he calmly placed his hand on his holster. "Yes?"

"You seen a darkie around here?" One of the men said.


"You know! A blackie."

"You mean a black man?"

"That's what I said. Anyway have ya?"

"No, not recently. Why do you ask?"

"No reason." Both men chuckled. "But if you do, please let us know, we'll be resting just here, so holler if you see one." They both sat down on the porch and began smoking cigarettes. Nathan just shoke his head in disapproval and went into the store.

"Hello there, good sir." Said the clerk, who had a New Englander accent. "How can I help you today?"

"Um, how much food could you get me with this?" Nathan opened up his hand revealing three bucks.

"Well sir, I'd say about two cans or beef or so."

"Two cans?! That better be the best beef in the world or something."

"Sorry sir, we only really sell beef here food wise, and there's been a shortage recently."

"Yeah, I noticed the field's been empty. Are you sure you can't get me anything else?"

"I'm sorry sir, but I got mouths to feed myself, I can give you three cans, but that's the best deal you're gonna get."

Nathan walked out of the store a few minutes later cleaning out one of the cans, the other two in his satchel. He needed money, and soon. He turned to the two older men, still smoking their cigarettes. He figured they'd likely swindled in some criminal activity before (or at least hoped so). He took a few deep breathes, said a Hail Mary under his breath, sat down, and began smoking a cigarette next to them. They both just slowly turned and stared at him.

"Hey fellas." Nathan said. "You wouldn't happen to know of any tips would ya?"

"Tips? You mean tips about the whereabouts of a darkie, cause we was asking you that."

"No." He began to whisper. "I mean tips about making good money hard and fast, outside the law."

The two men stared at each for a second before whispering to one another. After they were done, they smiled, and turned to Rivers.

"As a matter a fact, we do got something planned that you can help us out on."

All men looked around cautiously before continuing.

"There's a stagecoach passing by, the person riding it is rich, but isn't the real score. Some proper gang is planning on robbing it, a gang that makes a lot of money, and carries a lot of money. So we planning on robbing the robbers and the stagecoach all at once. I suppose we can split the money three ways."

Nathan got excited at the idea of a good fight and a good score. "Alright, I like it." He extended his arm out. "Nathan Rivers."

The men took their turns shaking it. "I'm Colonel Howard Monroe, the silent one behind me is Private Archibald Sanders."

"Wait, yaw apart of the military?"

"Oh no, not anymore." Said Monroe. "Back during the War of Northern Aggression we was, but now we just part-time ranchers, part-time crooks." Both men began to laugh.

"Well, alright. When is the stage coming by?"

"Right now, we was actually about to leave, so you ready?"

"Oh right now?"


"Alright, let's do this."

It was about noon when they arrived at the ambush spot. The Rebs explained the plan along the way (interlaced with comments of their disliking of African-Americans and the owner of the general store, who was a yankee). It wasn't complicated: They'd wait up here for the stagecoach to pass by, who by this point should be pursued by the other gang, then they'd come up from behind both parties and take them all out.

"So where'd you get this tip?" Rivers asked.

"I got it from a friendly fella, let's just call him an anomalous source." Said Monroe.

Rivers asked if he meant "anonymous." Monroe just said "Nope." Rivers immediately got nervous.

Eventually, a large dustcloud could be seen, moving faster in the men's direction. The three men all put on their bandanas and got their revolvers out. Leading the cloud was the stage coach, going top speed. After a few minutes, it slowed down to normal speed, the dust cloud disappearing behind it. No other horses could be seen on the road.

"Where's the other gang?" Rivers asked.

"Probably lost the coach or got cold feet, I dunno. It don't matter, we should at least get some money now, let's ride!" The Rebs started hollering and charging down the hill, with Rivers quickly following. When they got close to the couch, the driver turned to them.

"Seriously!? Again!?"

"This is a robbery!" Said Monroe, "Put your hands up."

"Okay, okay!" The driver said with his hands in the air. "I'm done fighting you booters." Rivers had no idea what that meant, but he didn't care. He got off his horse and checked the back. Inside was a quivering, old man in a very nice suit. He barely opened the door for three seconds when he was hit in the face with a pile of money, and the passenger yelling "Go!" And just like that, the coach was gone.

"Welp, that was easy." Rivers said. They began to divvy the score up, the Rebs expressed satisfaction (and even asked Rivers with help on another job), when they heard the clip-clops of a pack of horses. They turned down the road from were the coach originally came from and saw about fifteen horses sprinting their way. They all suddenly stopped about a hundred yards out or so and dismounted.

"I reckon," Monroe said, "That'd be the Snake Boot Gang."

The three men quickly drew their guns and cocked them. "It would've been nice to know, Monroe, that the gang we was planning on robbing would be the Snake Boot Gang."

"I thought we would be able to take em." Monroe shrugged.

Rivers just sighed. Out of the fifteen men, a single man stepped forward, wielding a highly decorated revolver. While all of the "Booters" (as they were occasionally called) wore bandanas or such, this man wore a strange, white mask to cover his face.

The masked man stopped about fifty yards or so away. "That was awfully impressive of you three." He began to speak in warm voice. "I mean we, a group of fifteen or so gunman, couldn't catch a single unarmed stagecoach, but you three could! Mighty impressive."

Monroe was flattered. "Why thank y-"

The masked man interrupted him, "Yes yes, but as you might know, we Booters have a reputation to keep. So we're just gonna shoot you and take any and all money you got from the old man." He said that so warmly that the three men were in shock. Well two, because Sanders immediately got on his horse and rode away.

Monroe leaned over to Rivers and whispered, "Let's follow Archie's lead." Rivers and Monroe then ran onto their horses and began to ride away as fast as they could. They were puzzled why the Gang hadn't began shooting at them yet. It's because the Masked Man reasoned it would be more fun to chase and shoot. But they didn't know that yet.

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