Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 13.



Episode 13 – The Illusion of Law

Marshall returned his revolvers back into their holsters. His empty hands echoed the hollow of his heart. Here an innocent man lay slain violently and for what? He had arrived to help, to stop such a thing from happening and somehow he hadn’t made it soon enough. It was a small consolation that he had saved the lives of the other people, or the vault itself.

His thoughts turned to the fact that he was still standing at the scene of a crime, and the Deputy had already warned him about what might await him if he was caught openly engaging anyone in public. He had to get clear from here before anyone else arrived. The thought of finding himself behind bars again was intolerable. Besides it wasn’t like this was a low profile situation, somebody would have to have reported the explosion, let alone the vehicle crashing through a wall.

“Wait a tick,” Marshall muttered to himself deep in the spinning workings of his minds mechanical motion. “Why isn’t the authorities already here,” he mused. With his thoughts tumbling away from him his feet began to move of their own accord. They started to carry him back through the ruined rubble to the streets and into a brisk paced jaunt. A phrase came back to him that one of the robbers had said.

“The badge-bearer promised no resistance,” Marshall parroted. So far he had only come across two people in this town who wore the badge, and of the two only one seemed like the kind of man who might even be capable of making such a deal. Only one such worthless weasel in Marshall’s eyes who could be content to only provide the illusion of law.

A man was dead at the bank, a man whose only job had been to keep the bank itself safe. And while Marshall had no such responsibility to act he had done so to protect others, to save lives. Even now he felt torn between tracking down the two that had escaped from him and finding where Arbiter was. Already the trail was going cold; the wind would be blowing the dust about to cover any tracks they might have left.

“What am I doing,” Marshall snapped at himself, struggling to reason out what to do. How much good had he even accomplished, how much could he if he was just one man. He could hear the voice of his old drill instructor in his head; almost taste the pounding rain that made the ground slick with mud from memory. “Just who do you think you are, boy? Huh,” the screaming superior spat.

“You think you’re some kind of playtime hero or something? Well this is your wake up call son – grow up! The time for heroes is dead and gone; nobody wants some goody-two-boots poking their nose into their business. Give it up or I’ll give you back to the gauntlet until they run you into the grave. There is no place here for little boys playing at hero!”

Those words had shaken him to the core, like now they were a notion he couldn’t quite fathom nor accept. But the memory leapfrogged into another; as such precarious thoughts of the past are often want to do. The self-same sergeant had made it a point to visit him in prison, if only to further mock him. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” he prodded. “I guess this isn’t exactly the reward you thought you’d get, ‘eh crusader? But I figure this is more than ironic, you were always trying to be the good guy and now you’re just another piece of trash in here.”

It had lit a fuse inside him back then, that notion that it satisfied men like those he served with to see someone who stood up get torn down. They relished watching someone good being pulled down to what they thought was their level. Marshall refused then and there to ever become like them, to ever let them win. If he gave up now he would be doing just that.

Had he not arrived when he did nobody would have stopped that bank robbery and who knows what might have happened. He had taken out at least three of those bandits, and while he might not have the other two in custody that would have to be enough for now. Instead he decided it was time he paid that Sheriff a visit and confront him. If Arbiter was as dirty as he expected he wanted to know for sure, and if so deal with the matter.

“Time to make an office visit,” Marshall told himself as his eyes began to scan for any sign that read ‘Sheriff.’ “Sure hope I don’t need an appointment.” It burned at him to let those two go but if Arbiter was involved at all, even by allowing it to happen in the first place then he had to be held accountable. Not even that little silver shield would save him from Gauntlet, when the armored fist of justice came knocking.