Brothers In Arms
by Karen

Chavez was up to his shins in the hard packed soil of the small fenced in stockade. He didn't mind because he was absorbed in his task, refurbishing and mending the leather harness and saddles of the former Regulators' mounts. His horse, a piebald cow pony grazed at the far end, would occasionally pick up its feet, amble over and nose his shoulder, forcing Chavez to gently encourage the horse to move away.

In the distance, he could see the rancher's main house. The wind shifted direction and was gusted directly into his face, ruffling his hair and the leather hides of his leggings. The oil can dropped to the ground, unnoticed as Josiah "Doc" Scurlock emerged from the interior of the house, and stood shilloueted half in and half out of the doorway. From the _expression on his face, he had something on his mind, his dish water blond hair wet from a recent washing.

Chavez, stood up, shoved all his belongings and those of his companions into the saddlebags, and hurried over to join the other members of their band, in his rush to the front door; the wind continually whipped his long mane of black hair around his face. Doc looked up from contemplating the cracks in the wooden floorboards of the front stoop, and looked him in the eye. "Trouble in paradise, Chavez. We've been made. It seems that the authorities have found us and they're sending the new sheriff after us."

"I know we could not hide out forever." Chavez nodded, resigned to whatever eventuality that they found themselves in and to deal with it as it came. "What does Billy plan to do?" he asked.

"You know him as well as I do," Doc grinned, a narrowing of his lips, "It's all or nothing. Fight or flee, and for right now. We've agreed it's best to make a run for it." Doc added, reaching to his left and strapping the long-handled Colt flintlock rifle to its holding place in the leather case strapped to his back. "You got the gear ready?" he asked.

"Of course."


The heat of the day set in, and Chavez handed out clothes to his friends, to protect their mouths and noses from the sand and grit stirred up by the hot wind. For the first few hours they made good time, travelling at a rapid pace, but not one that would exhaust their horses. Billy picked a direction that would throw their pursuers off their trail. It would be obvious for them to head north, Dave kept insisting on heading for Silver Springs however Billy appeared unwilling to take the suggestion, having another destination in mind.

They stopped for a brief rest in dried up arroyo where a river had flowed but not had carved out a serpentine crevice in the sand and stone. The trail underneath was criss crossed with the tracks of other travelers that had come this way before them. It proved to be a costly delay. The youngest member toppled from his saddle as a lead shot whizzed through air, and tore right into his side. Doc didn't want to leave the boy, on the off chance that he might still be alive, but the shooter did not give him the opportunity, setting off a volley of gunfire. The first shot seemed to have been a lucky one, for them, not his friends, because the others continued to miss and richoet off the ground and rock formations.

Chavez leapt into his own saddle, his cow pony swaying precariously beneath him, and scanned the surrounding countryside in a quick search for the who fired the shot. What he saw directly to the northeast, the direction they had come from, was a band of men on horseback, all armed, making. They had drawn up in a straight line, rifles raised.

Billy shouted directions, and they divided up their forces, slapping the flanks of their mounts, and drawing their own weapons. Chavez split off, tugging on the reins. In a detached part of his mind, he was only peripherally aware when the bit tore in the pony's mouth, he muttered a brief apology in the pony's ear, and gave in to its demand to be given its head. The pony and ran full tilt for the spot Chavez had chosen to make his stand. The loose soil gave way beneath, sending rock and debris skittering down the ravine wall. He could hear the curses and shouts of the sheriff's posse below. And it occurred to him, when the man who led the group removed his cap, that he knew the man. It was their old friend, Pat Garrett. He exchanged a knowing glance with Doc. Billy would be incensed, but that was neither here nor there. They were too busy trying to stay alive.

He reached his position, checked the ammunition in his rifle and began returning fire, with far more accuracy than the posse conscripts. He shouted a war cry and gave his attention over to the task at hand.

Doc's eyes narrowed to a deeper icy blue, in the clear light, one that matched the sharpness of his mind, one removed for the classroom. Chavez, knew that if he should fail, Doc would be there to help him out trouble. In the back of his mind, he recalled an old saying that he had learned from his mother's people: "'When troubles come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions.'" "Look out!" Doc yelled to Billy, who jogged his horse down the ravine steep slope and was engaged in dealing blows with one of the mounted pursuers in a hand to hand to fight. "Disengage!" Doc yelled. Dave plunged his horse into the melee and immediately disappeared in the cloud of rising dust.

In the confusion of the fight, no one took notice of a small, small- boned, wearing glasses that in a panic, grabbed the reins, and made a bolt for somewhere were the rules made sense.

Finally, it was over, and they regrouped and headed out.


"I think we've lost'em!" Billy shouted, laughing like a maniac, and racing ahead of the others, circling around like a timber wolf Chavez had once tracked for days, and cornered at its lair, and brought back home. It had been a cub, but all the same it could be dangerous.

"I cannot believe we just did that!" Dave exclaimed breathlessly. "Man, what a rush!"

"Only you would get off on near death experiences, Dave," Doc rattled on him. If he could make jokes after everything they had just been through, then he would be all right.

"What now, Billy?"

"We must finish the game, Doc. I will finish the game."


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