Authors: Jon Sharpe
Tags: #Fiction, #Westerns, #General
FLIGHT AND FIGHT
At first, even under a double load, the Ovaro’s superior speed and endurance opened up a slight lead. Soon, however, the attackers began to slowly gain, bullets raining in more accurately. A yellow cloud of dust boiled up behind the pursuers.
“We can’t outrun ’em!” Fargo called to his friend. “So let’s outgun ’em!”
Buckshot rallied behind him. “Put at ’em, Trailsman!”
Fargo had learned that when escape was impossible, a sudden surprise attack was often the best option. He wheeled the Ovaro and both men shucked out their short guns.
Raising war whoops, revolvers blazing, they charged into the teeth of the attack. A man twisted in his saddle, blood blossoming from his wounded arm. Fargo emptied his wheel, took the reins in his teeth, and popped in his spare cylinder. With his third shot the lead rider slumped in his saddle, his jaw blown half off, then slipped from his mount….
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First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, May 2013
The first chapter of this book previously appeared in
, the three hundred seventy-eighth volume in this series.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Beginnings…they bend the tree and they mark the man. Skye Fargo was born when he was eighteen. Terror was his midwife, vengeance his first cry. Killing spawned Skye Fargo, ruthless, cold-blooded murder. Out of the acrid smoke of gunpowder still hanging in the air, he rose, cried out a promise never forgotten.
The Trailsman they began to call him all across the West: searcher, scout, hunter, the man who could see where others only looked, his skills for hire but not his soul, the man who lived each day to the fullest, yet trailed each tomorrow. Skye Fargo, the Trailsman, the seeker who could take the wildness of a land and the wanting of a woman and make them his own.
Wyoming (Nebraska Territory), 1861—where a
dangerously beautiful woman entices Fargo into
an outlaw hellhole where honest men dance on air.
“We’re in some deep soup, Fargo,” said “Big Ed” Creighton, surveying the latest damage to his life’s dream. “Back in the rolling grass country we were making up to twelve miles a day. Between twenty-two and twenty-five poles per mile, slick as snot on a saddle horn. But I didn’t take the buffalo into account.”
Creighton cursed under his breath and knocked the dottle from his pipe on the heel of his boot.
“I’ll have to send men back to set the poles again,” he said bitterly. “They were inferior wood to begin with, but all we had. Most have been snapped—turned into scratch poles for the blasted bison!”
The tall, lean, wide-shouldered man dressed in buckskins said nothing to this tirade, merely removed his hat to shoo away flies with it. His calm, fathomless lake blue eyes stayed in constant motion, studying the surrounding slopes dotted with stands of juniper and scrub pine. From long habit as a scout, Skye Fargo watched for movement or reflection, not shapes.
“Two days before Independence Day,” Creighton mused aloud, his tone almost wistful, “me and Charlie dug the first posthole in Julesburg, Colorado. Even with the nation plunging into war, President Lincoln himself took time to wish us luck. Think of it, Fargo! For the first time telegraphic dispatches will be sent from ocean to ocean.”
Fargo did think about it and felt guilt lance into him deep. He glanced up into a storybook perfect Western sky: ragged white parcels of cloud slid across a sky the pure blue color of a gas flame. The flat, endless horizon of eastern Wyoming was behind them, and now the magnificent, ermine-capped
peaks of the Rockies—still called the Great Stony Mountains by the old trappers—surrounded them in majestic profusion.
And here’s the fiddle-footed Trailsman, Fargo told himself, helping to blight it with a transcontinental telegraph that will only draw in settlements like flies to syrup. But at the time Creighton offered him fifty dollars a month to work as a scout and hunter, Fargo was light in the pockets and out of work.
All that was bad enough. But as Fargo read the obvious signs that Big Ed had missed, the words
pile on the agony
snapped in his mind like burning twigs.
“Buffalo!” Creighton spat out the word like a bad taste. “Fargo, we’re already on a mighty tight schedule. My contract allows me a hundred and twenty days to link up with Jim Gamble’s crew in Utah. If this keeps up, and we get trapped in a Wyoming winter…”
Creighton trailed off, for both men knew damn well what that would mean. Fargo had seen snow pile up so deep, and for so long, in these parts that rabbits suffocated in their burrows. He recalled being caught in a blizzard just north of here that forced him to shelter inside a hollowed-out log for three days.