They stood there and grimaced as dust blew in their faces from the broken windows. The heat was going through them like a bubbling geyser as the glimmering sun scorched their skin. Clenched fists and frown lines on their foreheads didn’t make the situation any better, along with the drenching sweat that followed it. Where was that new Marshall anyways? First week on the job and already missed a big breakthrough? The young lad had missed what was one of the biggest break-ins in history. Was there some way he had not heard the news, or was he just ignorant of it?
Tomoha was a big town. With over one thousand inhabitants, it was growing faster than flowers during the springtime. Once the land was taken by the Indians, it was a popular place to start a life. There were pleasing mountains, fresh water, fresh food, and most of all: mining. Mining was booming the Industrialism in the city, yet it still had a touch of Western cowboy to it. Coal, bits of silver, and rarely gold made this town all too popular. Every major breakthrough maybe added a hundred more a month to the growing town. Within a mile from the town lived the villages for the more common farmer folk, a mile from that was the forest that supplied the wood, food, and living for all the citizens that came (at least until the train was capable of delivering goods there).
The town was a good place. It just had a few little problems. The criminal rate was one they avoided in the public paper. Sure, everyone knew about the crimes, but nobody dared talk about it with anyone outside of town; the Mayor would forbid that. It wasn’t as if the town was overrun by criminals…just one criminal. More people would rather have the town booming with several, rowdy criminals than this singular one.
They looked up at the sound of clicking boots, and a fast horse approaching. The owner gripped his shiny shotgun while his apprentice went to greet the Marshall. The dirt had vanished with the wind, the horse hurried to the stop as the Marshall got off his horse. The several men in the room glared at each other, then back at the man in charge, seemingly disappointed.
He was handsome and young. At twenty-five’s age, he was the youngest Marshall in the history of the States. Marshall Dylan Jones, with his curly black wiry hair and slight stubble, smiled as he got off his golden stallion. He was quite charming, a ladies' man no doubt due to such youth and promised ability. His jaw seemed strong and protruded enough to block a man’s punch. A flex of his strong muscles would be enough to make a lady faint. His age was absolutely important to the men in town. They considered him to be too young, too inexperienced, despite his skill with a weapon. This wasn’t a Wild West game out here. This criminal caused a lot of trouble, and obviously a lot of money.
Was he a Marshall though? Could he survive the torments of daily cowboy life, the temptations of brothels, or even the simplest gun fights the town provided? Behind his polite and irresistible cowboy, however, was experience and strength. His muscles were about as big as they could ever get, his body well-toned as if it was as strong as titanium. Of course, all metals had their weakness, they all had a melting point. Just what was this new Marshal's Achilles Heel? The men knew he had one, and they hoped to find out soon.
“You better smack that smile of your face Marshall, this is serious,” the owner, Mr. Edmund, sneered as he could see their new man in charge was not taking this as seriously as he should. He seemed cocky, as if even though he seemed well-fit for the job, he was better than any man at it. It fit well for him alright, but every single person in town knew how Dylan got the job.
You weren’t supposed to talk to a Marshall like that. Any talk with disrespect can cause a swift beheading from a rifle if need be. Dylan looked a little shocked at the man's tone, but kept cool, knowing that he would need to be open minded in investigations. This probably would not be the first time he would encounter a furious victim; it was just the first one he would receive. So he had to treat this right, and prove that he could get down to the bottom of this.
“Everything seems fine except for shattered glass and a few angry men. What happened? I suppose you must know?” He still smiled and placed his hat on the only stable furniture in the whole building, running his thick hands through the maze of his hair. The entire place looked as if buffalo rampaged in it, yet most of the items were broken not by bullets but by the chaos of men. This was just the first floor, yet there were no glass shattering pieces coming from the upper floors. This was stranger than it seemed. No criminal would just walk in through the front door and escape the same way without being caught.
“Five dead, my workers! But, that not even the worst part. Ten thousand dollars stolen! Out of the bank it went! Mr. Maroni will not be pleased!” Mr. Edmund didn’t seem happy that this could make him lose his job too. Of course the security would have the worst of the punishment. How could ten thousand dollars just go missing and nobody notice? Ten thousand was nothing to be laughing about. Most people in this town would never even make a sum of that in their lifetime.
“Who the hell can steal ten thousand dollars from the most well-known, most protected man in the state of Minnesota?” Marshal Dylan grinned, curious as to what knowledge this hotheaded man could thrust out of his brain. He was just trying to get a laugh at this. Of course this was very serious, but as of right now it seemed like a complete joke! He wasn’t told there was a mastermind criminal who could steal that much within one night. What bank was stupid enough that have that much just lying in a vault?
“Well, its obvious ain’t it?” The apprentice stood there, the last worker of the bank, Dylan supposed. It was shocking that out of the five workers dead it was this apprentice. Surely, it looked like he could defend himself with his slight build, but he did not seem like the type to just morph into a soldier. He was shorter than all the men there, his blonde hair dusty from the brown dirt but his eyes keen with anger. The apprentice seemed the most dangerous man in the room, probably because of his silence. Dylan assumed there was more to this than what he was being told.
“What Carter, ya got some evidence we don’t know?” Mr. Edmund asked. Carter looked at the Marshall interestingly, as if the answer was right in front of them, and they both were silly not to notice it. Dylan obviously didn’t see what was going on. He had only been here a week, and well, he wasn’t told much when the job was thrusted to him.
“I believe... it was Ms. Dawes,” Carted said, almost worried at his comment. Dylan heard the word ‘Ms.’ and almost choked on the dry saliva in his parched mouth. A female? Really? These men, big men with big guns, were afraid of a female?!
“Oh come on! Ms. Dawes is an outlaw! She ain’t smart enough to steal from Mr. Maroni!” Mr. Edmund shook his head violently, as if displeased to what his employee had to say.
“Well, she was smart enough to kill your brother!” Carter yelled. Mr. Edmund grew purple. He grabbed Carter by his collar and swung a fist in his face, intimidating the poor man with his rage. Dylan stood there, knowing any intervention may prevent the true story from being told. If Carter knew this was the suspect, why didn’t he say it in the first place and save all this trouble? Obviously this town was going crazy over this Miss Dawes person.
“My brother was even stupid to run away with her. She only took his money and ran, left him to die. What makes you so sure that she is the one that took the money?! Why would she want it!? Doesn't she already have enough bloody money!?" Edmund screeched and Dylan knew now was the time to interrupt. Perhaps Carter would be a valuable asset for now, seeing he knew most of the information.
“Pardon me boys, but, might I ask who Ms. Dawes is?” The Marshall interrupted the small excursion, hoping a fight would not break out between them.
“Research up Marshall, let’s say the most wanted criminal in Tomoha," Carter took a step back and adjusted his shirt collar, wanting to look presentable despite the mess they had gotten into.
“Ms. Dawes is just a woman,” Dylan chuckled and touched his facial hair interestingly, “are you telling me you’re afraid of a silly girl?”
Mr. Edmund stared at him, yet it seemed as if steam came out of his large, plump ears.
“Until I get my money back, and the place is back up and runnin’, she’s in your hands. I’m not getting’ involved with her, not again," he sighed and left the room, leaving Carter and the Marshall alone.
Carter flicked something at him and Dylan caught it with a grip with fast reflexes. He looked down at the shiny gold object, covered with a smudge of red. A bullet, not one he had ever seen before as it was tipped with thin metal. It was smaller than the average bullet, and it had engraved letters in it.
“I. D.?” The Marshall asked, looking at the curious bullet before looking up at the reasonable banker’s apprentice.
“Irene Dawes. Careful, she’s the one that killed the last Marshall, with reason too. Man pulled a bloody shotgun on her and it skimmed her foot. Even with it damaged, she decided the old fool had his time and took him down in a matter of seconds. Girl just limped off as if nothing happened. She ain’t no girl either, a good as women could get. Catch her if you can, if you can’t... this city will fall to ruin, and everyone along with it, I’m afraid,” he explained, great worry in his eyes. Dylan noticed there was something else, a grievance almost, but perhaps now wasn’t the time. He would take Carter’s advice and maybe research up a bit, see what the rest of town knew.
“Irene Dawes. So you know her name, you probably know what she looks like…and yet you have no idea where she lives, where she hangs out?” Dylan asked. This town wasn’t as big as Boston or New York, and certainly one criminal could not just hide within town. There was something off about this.
“Well nobody has seen her really up close to give a description…” he mumbled. Dylan noticed something was off again, and figured it would be best to leave him. He had bothered him enough already and Carter didn’t seem to be very enthusiastic about helping the new Marshall. “Nobody knows where she lives. Old home got caught in a fiery blaze bout ten years ago. Her father was an engineer, or sumthin’ like that.”
And at that, the Marshall left to go hit the books and the records left by the previous Marshall and Mayor. Dawes had a ring to the name and Dylan was going to find out why.
10 Hours Ago
She jumbled around in the small box, careful to not make too much of a noise. It was uncomfortable for her to be in such a tiny space, she hated tiny spaces. She needed the money though, not for the reason people thought. The carriage ran over a bump and she hit the top of the box, the slight pain striking her skull. She rubbed her head carefully, careful not to let a slight groan leave her plump lips. Why on earth did she let him drive? She knew the bank was huge, magnificent in every way as it stored money. Ever since the new Marshall came, every house, business, or population tripled (or that’s just what it felt like). The bank wouldn’t be an easy breakthrough though; these buildings were now made with brick and it’s tougher than wood, but easier to climb.
“We’re in,” a voice whispered. She kicked the top off of the box and jumped out, investigating her surroundings. She landed in the shotgun seat of the carriage next to her partner, keeping her head on a swivel and her outfit on point. Think like a man, dress like a man. Her partner was young Irene guessed, and if a nine year old could drive, he could be her partner right? Not many people would shoot at a nine year-old would they? Not if they had decency and a heart, but then again, a lot of folks here didn’t.
“Your hair is a mess,” he grinned. He was right of course. Her straight black hair was a mess again, probably from when her head bashed against the top of the box. She’d usually curl it herself, but only had time to straighten, her being so desperate for this act. Once she heard of this plan, there was no stopping it.
“I know, but how much longer till we actually stop the carriage into the place?” She noticed they were just taking a slow walk with the horses around the big building. She took the small amount of time to put her hair up in a messy bun, hoping her luscious hair would stay out of the way. She wasn’t one who cared for appearances, but she did have to use it now and then. If men didn’t know who she was, why not use a little charm to get what she wanted? Her outfit, however probably could have been better than the straight on jeans, white collared shirt and vest. In the darkness, she probably had the outline of a skinny farm boy.
“Hang on, I mapped it out. Imma drop you off at the small house in the back. That’s where Mr. Edmund lives, so he’s close to the bank. All you need to do is climb up to the top window, steal the money, and find your way back to me,” he smiled, as if this was a job for him. A job for a nine year old: being the getaway during a robbery. Irene didn’t approve of it, but this kid was the only person she had who would actually listen to her.
It was easier said than done. Ms. Dawes thought this was easier done than said though.
“Jack,” there was a short pause as Ms. Dawes was listening, “Is there supposed to be a party tonight?” Something seemed wrong. There was an echo of music and laughter, which made Irene’s stomach twist with disgust. People. Sure, she didn’t mind people, but the people certainly minded her.
“I suppose not, whaddoya mean?” he titled his blonde hair out of the way of his ears to listen to the invisible sound waves of distant music.
“God dammit Jack,” she muttered and jumped out of carriage, “Get out of here, I’ll find a way to get back, and I’ll jump a horse or something.” This was no place for child. There wasn’t supposed to be anybody here. The boy could be caught in an instant if someone decided to ‘check the boxes for the wine’. That was the excuse to get inside, and certainly they weren’t smuggling expensive wine to the party tonight.
“Ms. Dawes, I can’t leave you here,” he pleaded and looked around, "it's dangerous."
“It’s too dangerous for you to stay. We didn’t know there was a party tonight. Go back home, and I’ll see you soon," she commanded harshly. The boy usually took her advice. She wasn’t responsible for his fate if he didn’t follow orders. He understood she knew what was best.
“But Miss Dawes-” too late. She smacked the horse in the rear and it ran out of the way, grabbing the small bag in the back. She wouldn’t want Jack in danger, nor herself. Okay, time to clear the mind. You don’t think of the dangers, you think about the prize. She thought that a lot when tough times seemed to approach her. Not like this was tough, anyhow, but there wasn’t much room for mistakes.
She looked around the corner of the brick building and saw the house. All the lights were on, there was some piano music, people drinking, laughing, all having a good time. She wished she could do that once in a while, but she lacked the company and the time. Besides, no company would really desire what she had to offer. She looked up and saw the window she had to reach. She frowned and saw what looked impossible, yet she still needed to get in there. She let out a small groan, signifying her disappointment in Jack’s planning. He obviously didn’t tell her that there were no windows nearby this third story one. It just made things more difficult, not impossible. She put her hat on in determination and grabbed the water pipe, using it to escalate up the bricks.
Every climb, movement of her arms and legs had to be both quick and quiet. Her ankle had still been hurt from her last meeting with the “old” Marshall. He had shot her in the foot, and it didn’t feel so great obviously. It had taken a few weeks to get the bone back together, but she didn’t have time to take a month for a silly injury. It would heal eventually. So now she built more of her arm strength to keep her legs going, avoiding the overuse of it.
Okay, objective window... too far... she needed to find a different window. She looked to her left, a small window was open, the light was on though, which meant someone had to be in there. Either she took a chance of falling, or a chance of meeting someone. She decided quickly. She reached for the small window and leaped off the small pipe. She gripped the wooden ends of the window and pulled herself up, peeking her eyes into the illuminated room. Good, nobody in it for now. She pushed herself all the way and fell into the room doing a flip to keep her balance.
“Did ya hear that?” a voice said underneath the sounds of her silent walking, the creaks of the old wood panels giving her away slightly. Her eyes widened and she hid behind the door, getting out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. In a small crack, she saw a banker, with only a lantern walking around, probably putting the last of the investments in. He turned and walked into the room, having a tired look on his face after the long day. He looked around a little and turned, seeing a figure in his peripheral vision. She quickly used the blunt end of her revolver, bashing it to his head and grabbing him before he fell, preventing as much noise as she could. After hiding his body behind the door she once stood, she grabbed his lantern and made her way around, knowing she needed to go up to the next floor.
The party sounded loud, so hopefully nobody else was in this part of the building so they wouldn’t hear her steps. She quickly ran out of the light and into the dark hallway of the bank, hiding amongst the shadows. Running fast she reached the room where the money was. The room smelled like bad cologne and paper, exactly what she thought a filled bank would smell like. File cabinets took up most of the space in the room, a couple of small safes accompanying them. Money was in all of these, or so she hoped. This listed every family in the town, or at least the ones that put their faith in Maroni. She checked the names starting at A... she scrolled up and down the names until she found M. Maroni, M for Mayor... and M for Murderer.
She realized she needed a key, and as always, came prepared for break-ins like this. She grabbed a pin out of her hat and twisted it around the lock. The pressure opened it in an instant and with a smile, she grabbed a sack out of her shirt and started to stuff the green paper into the bag. Grabbing the other bag she had taken from the carriage, knowing there might not be enough in the other one, she took the items out of it.
A rich man wouldn’t find a loss of ten thousand dollars too big, but it meant that someone at this bank, a.k.a. the boss, would get their neck hanged in a second. Maroni probably would not care for the loss of money, only about who stole it. After shoving all of the Benjamin’s in the bag, she closed the door leading to the office and locked it. From the items she pulled from the other bag was a nice poufy pink dress, and a small pouch of makeup, for an excuse if she got caught. She stripped quickly and hopped into the dress, disliking the rough irritation it gave to her skin. Irene fitted much better in men's clothing, probably because they were more form fitting. Women’s clothing tended to actually force a female to change her form. She left her boots on, because she knew she would need it later, much better than heels. Of course she knew there was a party to happen, it was a good thing. All she had to do was get in the party, shake up a little chaos and Bing!... money was hers. There was the option to do a silent mission, but that was no fun, was it?
She looked out of the door as she creaked it open slightly, and noticed nobody was around. Shrugging, she strolled out of the room with an innocent face and headed outside towards the party and towards the stairs.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, gentle and soft.
“Miss, are you lost? I can show you where the party is,” he said. She didn’t even look at him. Quickly, she elbowed him in the face and threw him off the top floor, hearing a thud as the body fell three stories. She then ran down the flight of stairs, holding her dress up with her hands and walked out the door, stepping over the motionless body. Good thing he didn’t have time to scream as she threw him, not like anybody would probably hear him anyways.
The mud would be great use in an escape, it was slippery and a mess. People show up to parties in heels and dress shoes... not boots. She casually walked towards the front door, but felt another hand on her shoulder. This one was tighter, obviously more aggressive. She sighed and turned around. Perhaps someone had seen what had just happened?
“Look, I’m heading to the-” she was suddenly punched right in the face. Her nose cracked and snapped in a second, blood gushing. She fell to the floor in a flash and a splash as mud splattered all over her dress, holding her nose tightly in pain. Well what a welcome she got, she had only just arrived to the party
“Ms. Dawes, what a surprise,” the man said. He was wearing a nice dress suit and pants, obviously one of the richer folk in town. You’d think he’d be more of a gentleman than a maniac, but after he took out a knife from his pants, he seemed more of a maniac.
“What?” she faked a British accent, “Who do you think you are!?” She had pulled off this stunt multiple times, and never had it failed her. Never.
“Oh come, come, give me the money,” he grinned, not buying it.
“You thief!” she yelled and began to smack the man's hands away with her make up bag. She was trying her best to look like the victim here, and by the look on his face, it was working.
“Me a thief?” he started to look quite confused, as if maybe he had made a big mistake.
“I am Elizabeth the Fourth! Don’t you dare touch a Royal English Embassy!” she shouted more.
“Oh,” his face looked quite of shock, “I’m terribly sorry mi ’lady, I just recently saw a Ms. Dawes around, and she looked a lot like you. Terribly sorry." He continued to apologize, but it was really no use.
“Oh, how do I explain my poor dear blood stained dress to poor dear Mr. Edmund?! I look like a disaster!” she pouted and attempted to clean her dress, trying to guilt the man and get him close. If he truly was a gentleman, he would most likely want to help her out of the mud. He walked over with a handkerchief and tried to wipe it off, which was better than nothing.
“There that looks a-” She grabbed his neck and snapped it instantly. It sounded less painful than it probably was, he was dead anyways. His body fell limp to the mud and Irene casually got up. A woman screamed, something most women did when they saw someone get murdered. She turned and saw a horrific woman in a really bad outfit that she should never had worn; it really accentuated her curves in a bad way. Irene had to withhold herself from actually laughing, but this probably was not the best time. If anything, her dress was more horrific than what Irene had done! The only problem was that she didn’t say anything, just kept screaming like a screeching eagle. Irene thought quickly and jumped on a horse tied up to her left. She kicked it on the thigh and it neighed, running away with a burst of speed. With one hand, she tied the sack on the side of the saddle to keep her hands free. Let’s hope this was good timing.
People would be after her in a second. Men go to tend to screaming women because that was their job wasn't it? She slowed the horse down and hid behind a gigantic bush, just near the gates, avoiding the guards. She needed the gate opened in order to get out. Pounding hoof beats were nearby, so she grinned. They passed her like lightning, the men screaming to find the “murderer”. They don’t know that she just stole thousands of dollars either. So she was both murderer and thief. And they had no idea she was actually behind them.
She sped up behind them although she wished she had a better color than the pink. It made her shine more in the dark from the moonlight. She laughed in her head, that while the men in front of her were chasing nothing but shadows, the shadow they were looking for was right behind them. Her left hand gripped the reigns as she grabbed with her right hand her gun.
It was hard to shoot with one hand while riding a horse that wasn’t trained properly. She shot one round, and it hit one in the head; not bad. The horses jumped in fear, and the men yelled to get round the horses. She motioned her horse to go faster, and grabbed a unique tool out of the saddle. A hammer works better than a gun any day according to her, close range that is. She soon reached eye to eye with the dawdler of the group. His eyes widened as she swung the hammer in his face, not giving him anytime to make a sound. She sighed as her new weapon was now dislodged in his skull, sending him into the mud. Great. Well, she had done enough damage for the night.
The chase was on. The two men managed to get behind her as she did to them. She knew these parts of the plains like the back of her hand. All she needed to do was to get them lost in her forest. If they even dared to chase her.
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