The Fifth Horseman
A Magnficent 7 - Highlander - Wild Wild West Crossover

by Terrance K. Harrington

Part VII: Some Light Breaks the Clouds

Vin moved cautiously among the wreckage, both material and human. The few left living were not long for the world... not that Vin would have offered comfort or sympathy. His "handiwork" damaged the cannons beyond repair, as well, which gave him some grim satisfaction. He did freeze when he saw one of his victims, however... an unintended one: Duncan McLeod. The man had been thrown clear of the cage he’d been trapped in. Vin turned the Scotsman over, but his quickly cooling body was fairly well shredded, and Vin felt no pulse.

"Damn," was the only eulogy Vin could think to offer the man. After checking on the rest of the camp, he’d come back to tend to the body of his fellow tracker properly... he owed an honorable man trapped among murderers at least that much. Yet, as he started to move away, the Highlander gasped, inhaling strongly. Vin fell back on his posterior in shock, as McLeod rolled over, painfully, sucking in air.

"God Almighty!" Vin whispered in wide-eyed wonder. This man should have been dead... was dead... and yet, he was not.

"Ahhhk!" the Highlander coughed, "Oh God! That hurt!"

"I imagine so," Vin said, to no one in particular.

Duncan’s eyes snapped open, and he peered around at Tanner. He stared for a moment, returning the look of blank amazement that met him.

"What are you doing here?" McLeod croaked.

"I could ask you the same thing, friend. Especially seeing how you were dead a minute ago," Vin stated.

"Dead?" McLeod lied innocently.

"Yea. Bled from about three dozen places. Cold as snow. No heartbeat. Dead."

"How about that. A miracle. And to think I didn’t believe in them," Duncan quipped, "I guess I need to get back in church, eh?"

"I was coming back in a few minutes to bury you."

"Neighborly of you," McLeod replied, sitting up.

"You care to explain this?" Vin asked, backing away a little bit.

Duncan pondered the question. "Not really," he said, as he pulled himself to his feet. He held out his right hand to Tanner. Vin took the offer, and the Scotsman helped Vin to stand.

"Kind of you to give me a hand, seeing how I killed you, and all," Vin mused.

"Don’t worry about it," McLeod said, feeling the holes ripped in his shirt. "Happens all the time..."

Sarah pulled the trigger, but not before JD yanked her arm upward, causing her shot to sail harmlessly over Ezra’s head. She fought fiercely to turn the weapon on Dunne, but he smashed a bottle of whiskey over her head, causing her to collapse to the floor.

Everyone was shocked, except for Ezra, who smiled broadly at his younger companion.

"Excellent timing, Mr. Dunne! I could not have requested a more advantageous action on your part."

"Glad to oblige," JD grinned, but then dropped his gaze to the fallen McFadden. "But I don’t like hittin’ no women."

James West stepped beside Standish. "What’s going on here?" he demanded.

"When she mentioned another man’s name earlier, she caught my attention. In another time, I have used such a name as an alias. Only a handful of people has ever connected the name to me, one of which would be Walter Drakeson. I suspect that our dear Miss Sarah was delivering a message to me, on his behalf."

"She was trying to kill you, Standish," West replied, flatly.

"I didn’t say it was a happy message."

James rolled his eyes and looked over at Gordon, who shrugged. "Did you know about this, Artie?"

Gordon nodded, lightly. "I remembered the name he was using several years ago, when we first met. It got my attention, and aroused his suspicion."

"That is correct, Mr. Gordon. Mr. Dunne was kind enough to keep a close eye upon her, when I asked him to do so. No offense intended..." he said as he smiled at Dunne, "but my youthful ally is easy to ignore, making him the perfect observer."

JD aw-shucked, "Thanks!... " Then, he frowned, as the thought occurred to him: "Wait a minute. Did you just insult me?"

He felt a brotherly hand on his right arm. He turned to look at Buck, who smiled lightly at him.

"Take off your hat, JD."

"Yessir," Dunne said, as he removed his bowler. Buck cuffed him on the back of his head.

"Ow! What didja do that for?" JD wailed.

"For hittin’ a lady! You oughta know better’n that. Folks’ll think your Momma didn’t raise you right."

Then, Ezra smacked him.

JD turned to Standish and cried out: "Hey! I saved your life! Why are you hittin’ me?"

"You wasted a full bottle of perfectly good drinking whiskey, Mr. Dunne, when you had several empty bottles at your disposal. Pray do pay more attention in the future."

Then, as JD began to protest, Josiah slapped him, as well.

"What? What?" the young man cried out. "What in Sam Hill are you hittin’ me for?"

Sanchez frowned in thought, trying to think up a suitable answer, then settled on: "It felt right."

"Ahem," came a cough. All eyes turned to James West.

"In case you’ve forgotten, we have a madman with an army out there, gentlemen. And, unless we are badly mistaken, that army is coming this way. I’d suggest we remember that, and act accordingly."

JD rubbed his sore pate, and turned to Ezra, frowning. "I thought you shot the guy. How come he’s still alive?"

"Bad aim?" Ezra replied.

"Well, I’d be a might angry if ya shot me, but it seems a bit strange that he’d send women to kill ya, and send a whole army after ya just for pluggin’ him. Ain’t like ya did permanent damage. Especially after all these years."

Gordon coughed, and Ezra’s brows raised.

JD looked back and forth between the two.

"What?" he asked, just knowing he was asking something stupid.

"If all we had done was shot Mr. Drakeson, your assessment might be entirely accurate."

"Uh huh," JD prodded.

Artemus and Ezra looked at each other, then Gordon sighed, "We dropped a mountain on him."

"Huh?" JD answered.

"Has your hearing departed you, Mr. Dunne? Mr. Gordon told you that we dropped a mountain upon Mr. Drakeson. That’s enough to ruin anyone’s day."

West covered his face with his hands. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to hear this...

Part 8

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