Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 20.



Episode 20 – Combine and Conquer

“You know, you really have a knack for stepping into the biggest messes,” Marshall quietly told himself as he slipped back away from view. “Now you have no less than two separate crews of criminals in town to deal with, and both of the most prominent town officials appear to be dirty to boot. Right about now would be a real great time to pull a rabbit out of your hat – if you had any tricks left that is.”

Marshall continued to distance himself from the bulk of Redemptions residents while he tried to think thing through. “Great,” he casually commented, “and now you’re talking to yourself.” Things were really off to a wonderful start. This was far from anything like the stories he loved as a child – at least in them the town didn’t turn on the hero. Or did they, he didn’t recall any like that but then again a lot had happened since he was a kid. Not to mention he’d slept since then too.

“So, what’s the plan, man,” Marshall found himself asking aloud. Oddly enough the inquiry prompted him to respond reflexively, it was important to not be rude. Even if you were the one talking – to yourself. “Good question; wish I knew.” Strategically speaking he wasn’t in the strongest of positions; he was outnumbered, public opinion wasn’t on his side and to be honest he still felt guilty about not being able to disable those explosives.

“This is where I guess I am supposed to rally myself behind the notion of divide and conquer. But right now I think it is a safe bet that getting caught in any manner of crossfire might be hazardous to my health. No, not with the way my luck keeps playing out. What I wouldn’t give to have them all in one spot just long enough…”

Something in that thought jarred his gears loose and sent his mind stampeding forward. It was the craziest thing, a potentially tactical nightmare; he was going to combine and conquer. Separately it was all too easy for one crew to catch him engaged with the other and try to off them both. He was just one man after all, how hard would it be to shoot him in the back while he was busy in a shootout with your rivals? Too easy, that was for sure.

No, if either the Bull-Boys or Dizcords Daemons didn’t put him into the ground then the Sheriff was going to have him lynched by a town mob. None of which was his idea of good time, Marshall decided. But if he could make himself into just enough of a nuisance he might be able to nudge them into grouping up to eliminate him as a common problem. And if that was the case, just maybe he could capitalize on their less than harmonious dispositions.

Perhaps it wasn’t the most brilliant plan to ever be hatched, Marshall considered. Maybe it was even just a tad bit insane – alright full-blown crazy. But right now, crazy seemed to be the best option he had, if not the only option. “Now, if I wanted to really annoy a whole mess of thieving low-lives’; what would I do?”  

And now he was back to square one; another question he wasn’t sure how to answer. “Boy, you best get in here; you have work to see to,” Grandma Grael called at him from her store front. “Don’t think for a second you’re going to keep wandering off and avoiding your jobs!” Had he really just walked back to the General Good without realizing it?

“Yes, Ma’am,” Marshall answered the agitated glare leveled his way and headed inside. “Why aren’t you gathered with everyone else,” he asked as he passed her. “For the same reason as you, I have never been a fan of empty words or pointless political performances. We both know it’s all just a song and dance show. Arbiter and Demure both are going to do whatever they want to do whether anybody approves or not. So I don’t see any sense in wasting my valuable time with their foolishness.”

As Marshall sat himself to work on his tasks Grandma Grael quietly appeared behind him. “Never you mind though; if anyone asks you’ve been hard at it in the back. I’ve had my eyes on you the whole time, not that anyone would question my word on the matter.”