The Trains We Rob

Monotony and Alpha 1 « The Trains We Rob » Machines With No Purpose

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Infobox
Canon: none
Series: LAPITH
Canon: none Series: LAPITH

THE PLAN

Late 19th century. Rural Arizona. Nightime. Bright campfire. 3 individuals sitting around it.

The first one is tall, grey-haired, and grim-faced, but with a strange light behind the eyes. They're cleaning their gun: a revolver with a make-and-model unidentifiable to anyone else. When questioned, he'll say something along the lines of "custom-made", before putting it away with the other two identical weapons stored in the depths of his heavy coat, loaded with bullets of the arcane variety. He'd mutter "Obadiah" when asked about his name, and not much else.

The second is a bit shorter and somewhat lanky, but their clothes fit them perfectly. Their face is almost uncanny in how uniform it is, the sort of person you catch a glimpse of while walking and never see again. Their body is thin, but with a strange sort of strength within, which probably helps them wield the revolving shotgun set on their lap. Their eyes change colors when you're not looking. A name written on their vest reads "Montgomery", which is, supposedly, their name as well.

The third is sitting off to the side, blindfold wrapped around their eyes, thick black hair set into a ponytail. She's staring into the distance with a stopwatch in her hand, but it looks strange considering the fact they're completely blind. Rather, what she's looking through are the two (assumedly) metallic orbs orbiting her, with strange symbols glowing in stranger patterns scanning the environment in their bizarre dance around Moonwalker's head.

Three strangers, sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere. What they are planning is, to the surprise of no one, a crime.

"So we're heading to this train station, we kill everyone, get on board the train when it stops by, fight our way to this one car, grab this artifact, and then what?"

The click of a stopwatch. Moonwalker turned her head to Montgomery. "We get off."

Monty bit his lip. "How do you want to do that?"

Obadiah, not taking his eyes from his gun, shrugged and said, "I was thinking of just leaning over the side, and shooting the wheels so it'll stop."

Monty was more confused than shocked. "Are you stupid? That's an awful idea! Do you think it'll just magically go still?"

Obadiah looked up. "Well, they're magic bullets, so-"

"It's not a magic train, though!"

"Good! If it was, that'd be even worse!"

Montgomery put his head in his hands. "This is gonna be a disaster."

Obadiah furrowed his brow. "Can't you heal from anything? What do you care if the train crashes?"

"If you two die- and you will die in a train crash- not only will the Egregorian likely be destroyed, I'll be digging myself out of a pile of train cars for days. Forget what I can do, that hurts. And even then, it'll take weeks for me to fully recover from that."

Obadiah shrugged. "How do you know?"

He sputtered. "You- I- Wh… The faculties of my mind have assuredly concluded, Mr. Obadiah, that being the victim of a devastating train accident is most certainly painful, if not lethal!"

Moonwalker set a hand to her chin. "Lethal? You said you could regenerate from anything."

Montgomery stood up with a huff. "The Malthusiae haven't tested my abilities to that degree- and I am not keen to either, Ms. Walker."

She raised an eyebrow. "Alright, we won't try to shoot the train to stop it. And Moonwalker is a fine name to use, Monty."

"Doesn't sound like a real one."

She leaned back on the log. "Well, it's not mine, so."

Montgomery paced around in a circle. "That's a can of worms I am not keen on opening."

Moonwalker sighed. "Whatever."

He stopped and turned to face the other members of the trio. "The position as I see it, then."

Obadiah put his hand over his eyes. "Oh yes, we certainly needed another refresher."

"We- that is, Montgomery, Mister Obadiah and Miss Walker are a posse of individuals of unique skills and abilities, who seek to…"

"Appropriate."

"…appropriate an object of peculiar interest to ourselves and our benefactors from the hands of the ah…Axson-Hosby Expropriation Society, who themselves-"

"It's 'Axton-Hornsby Exploration Society.'"

"-are benefitted by a group who is similarly anomalous as our own respective factions and likely better funded and armed in every capacity, and by some strange whim or fancy we believe or have chosen to believe that we can successfully extract such an object from the train on which it is being transported. Good. We're on top of it now."

Obadiah sighed. "You're under no obligation to do this. You can leave, you know."

"Well, I would, but Mo-"

Moonwalker interrupted. "I promised him the Egregorian once we remove it from the train to take back to the Malthusians."

Obadiah raised his voice and stood up. "You told me I would be allowed to study it! What the hell am I here for, then?"

Moon raised a hand. "Calm down, alchemist. You'll have your chance to study it before Monty takes it to the Malthusians."

Montgomery frowned. "Malthusiae."

"I don't care."

Obadiah leaned forward. "I was under the impression I would be keeping that object. Do you really trust the Malthusians with that thing? This shapeshifting snake?" He gestured towards an offended Monty. "They might use it for… I don't even know, that's why I wanted to study it!"

"For evil?"

Obadiah grunted. "Well, my intentions aren't exactly pure either, miss."

"I know. That's why I'll let you study it with the Malthusians."

Obadiah raised an eyebrow. "That won't be enough. I'll need something more than a… a cooperative study group with the damn Brits."

One of Moonwalker's spheres floated over to Obadiah. "You can dissect this Eye all you want once you help us secure the Egregorian."

Obadiah stroked his beard. "This seems like a reparation."

"Oh no, it was the plan from the start. Do you or do you not want it?"

Obadiah reached a hand for the orb before it quickly flew back to its usual orbit around Moon's head.

"Ah- not yet. After. I need them to see, remember?"

Obadiah pouted. "Fine then. But I would like to know how exactly we plan on getting through the train. There's an awful lot of guards who'll be on board, and my guns aren't that powerful."

Moon smiled. "That's why we're talking now. Plan away."

"Hey, maybe Monty could shapeshift into a pretty lady and try-"

"No, no, it wouldn't work. Even if that wasn't a stupid idea, it'd take an awfully long time for me to make that change and I didn't bring an outfit for that."

"Damn. How do you want to sneak in, then?"

Montgomery sighed. "I could just replace a guard, it'd be way easier than… that."

Moonwalker pulled out a sheet of paper. On it was a drawing of a young man with long, wiry hair.

Monty took it. "Who's this?"

"Elliot Wood. Your disguise."

Montgomery scratched his head. "Er, it's a nice drawing, but it doesn't look so accurate."

Moon shrugged. "Just get as close as you can so when we see the real thing, it won't take too long for you to change. They're supposed to hop onto the train once it reaches the station, and they'll help us get in."

Monty stared at the drawing intensely. "Right, right. I'll get started, then."

"Look, only one of us being disguised won't get us past everyone there."

Moon nodded. "Maybe. Those on the train will just need to see Elliot's face and his uniform. They're not so thorough, so long as the station's intact."

"That's the worst plan I've ever heard."

"Oh, you haven't heard the worst part." She pulled a pair of handcuffs from her pack. "I'm your captured prisoner."

Obadiah's eyes widened. "You're an idiot."

"Not my plan. You and Elliot are transferring me from the station to Tombstone to be interrogated, on the train."

"And who am I?"

Moon smiled. "A hired gun."

Montgomery was still staring intensely at the drawing of Elliot. "What color are his eyes?"

"Go with green."

"Alrighty."

Obadiah frowned. "I'm starting to share Monty's pessimism."

"It'll be worth it. You'll get to study two Nihil artifacts, Monty gets to repair his terrible reputation with the cult, so everybody wins."

Obadiah squinted. "What do you get?"

Moon folded her arms over her chest and scooted forward to lie her head against the log. "For now, some sleep."

Obadiah sat down. "Is that all I'm going to hear from you on that subject?"

"You're in no position to question a lady's intentions."

He pulled out his bandolier and began examining his ammunition with a frustrated face. "Fine then. Goodnight."

But Moon was already asleep.

Obadiah sighed. Monty, whose face had already begun to partially resemble the character on the paper, moved closer to the fire.

"She's something strange, huh?"

Obadiah gave a halfhearted shrug. "I've worked with stranger."

"What are you doing?"

He turned to face Monty, with a single bullet in his hand. "Making sure I got the names right so they'll strike true. See here?" His finger pointed to the word 'Peter' engraved on the bullet, alongside runes Monty could not identify.

Montgomery frowned. "What did Pete ever do to you?"

A chuckle. "Nothing. I just put names you hear often onto my bullets in the hopes that whoever I'm shooting didn't have creative parents. Pete's just unlucky. See here? I've got Jack, Jerry, Paul, Mark, er- Paul, Terry, Mike, and Paul."

"Paul?"

Obadiah's face grew serious. "Too many Pauls in this world. Need to thin them out."

Monty muttered something about his tendency to work with crazy people before turning back to study the face of Elliot.

"Goodnight."

Obadiah focused on his bullets. "Yeah, yeah."


THE STATION

Late 19th century.

Rural Arizona.

Early in the morning.

Three people, sitting atop two horses, which themselves are atop a cliff, looking towards a distant railroad.

One of them sits idly behind Obadiah on his horse, as two orbs fly from below the cliffside and then into her pack.

"Clear. We've got thirty minutes. Let's go." She clicked her stopwatch. Obadiah turned to put the cuffs on her hands before grabbing the reigns. "Did you load the right bullets?"

Obadiah smiled. "Oh, I checked."

And the three rode off, down towards the station, dust trailing close behind them.

As they approached, two guards stepped forward. One raised a hand and with that motion, the horses stopped.

Obadiah moved a bit closer before he stepped down from his horse. With a friendly face and his hands on his side, he said, "Hey there! I'm here to bring this Malthusian over to Tombstone."

One guard looked to the other. A scowl.

"Who's your friend back there?" A finger pointed to Monty, too far away for his face to be seen. "Why doesn't he come a bit closer so we can see 'im?"

Obadiah laughed. "Oh, he's just shy. Say, you wouldn't happen to know an Elliot Wood, would you?"

The younger man nodded, much to the chagrin of the other guard. "That'd be me. What is it?"

"Oh, just checking. Would you like to see my papers?"

The older guard stepped forward. "I'd quite like to."

Obadiah turned towards him and nodded. "My identification's right 'ere, sir."

And to prove it, he pulled out a small leather wallet to withdraw a small white sheet, and as the sheet slid out, the small piece of flint in the wallet's slot struck against the alchemical paper and caused a massive flash of light and sparks to go directly into the eyes of the officer, which was then followed by Obadiah's foot going directly into his chest causing him to keel over with a huff, burn marks on his face and hands over his eyes, groaning in pain.

Before Elliot could even say a word, Obadiah had tackled him to the ground.

"That was something," Monty said with a somewhat shocked face as he slit the older guard's throat. "What was that in your wallet?"

Obadiah shrugged as he wrestled Elliot to unconsciousness. "Magic."

Monty looked towards the station. "Who else is there?"

Moon, still atop the horse and handcuffed, said, "Should be 2 in the office. They haven't seen us. Arguing over something, maybe. Can't really see, my Eyes are closed in the bag."

Obadiah walked over to her and helped Moon off the horse. "We'll just walk in and y-" she slipped a little as she was dismounting and almost hit the ground before Obadiah caught her. She stood back up and almost stumbled. "…ah, just- just walk in there and shoot them, please."

Monty walked over to the office. Monty opened the door, the men inside said a few words, before two buckshot rounds from the shotgun silenced them both.

Monty walked back outside, reloading the revolving chambers. "Alright. How much time left?"

"Obadiah? The cuffs?"

After the cuffs were undone, Moon retrieved the stopwatch from her pocket. "Fifteen minutes. Hide those bodies and finish up your disguise, Monty."


GETTING ON

"Monty? You got it?"

Montgomery was staring intensely at the unconscious guard, holding an eyelid open. "Hold on, I got the eye color wrong and I missed a mole."

"Hurry up, we don't have all day."

Moonwalker nodded. "We have about a minute until the train arrives. You can see it there in the distance."

Obadiah raised a finger. "Speaking of seeing, you may want to hide those."

"Oh- right, right." The spheres settled into her satchel. She fumbled with the bag a little as she set it on her back. "Cuffs."

Obadiah set the cuffs on her wrists as Montgomery set Elliot into a closet before locking it.

Monty looked Obadiah over. "You may want to take off that miserable coat, they might think it's suspicious."

Obadiah shook his head. "Nah. Protects me from the heat."

As the train slowly entered the small dilapidated station, the people onboard could see Elliot and a tall, gruff looking-man restraining a woman with a blindfold and cuffs.

Monty waved as an old man with a shield badge on his chest hopped off. "Just us here, sir. Elliot Wood."

The man nodded. "Yes, yes. Who're they?"

Elliot raised an eyebrow. "Didn't they send a dispatch ahead of me? This is the mercenary I hired to help. You think I could raid a cell all by myself?"

"And the Indian woman?"

"Come on, sir, that's the prisoner!" Monty laughed, before becoming serious. "But we do have to get going- is there anything else you need from this station besides ourselves?"

The old man shook his head. "No, we just came by to pick you up- and these two as well, I suppose. Word travels slow here, I thought it'd be just you." He shrugged. "Never mind that, though."

The old man stuck out his hand.

Monty gave an awkward smile, and gave his hand a firm, normal handshake.

The old man looked aghast and quickly stepped away. "Start the train! Now!" and he got back on the train and quickly shut the door behind him.

"Wait-"

The wheels began to move.

Obadiah turned towards the locomotive. "The secret handshake- dammit- Moon! The train's leaving! Lemme see your cuffs!"

Monty began to slam his fists against the door. It opened, and a hand came out, as well as a gun. A shot rang out.

Obadiah grabbed Monty, and the door was shut and the train was off.

Monty grunted. "Ah fuck- it went through, but-"

"So you're fine?"

"Well, yes, b-"

Moon was already running off. "Onto your horses! Now!" And the two bolted towards the stables, with Monty limping close behind.


A TRAIN TO CATCH

As they rode alongside the train, the wind became deafening. Monty, with a bandage wrapped around his chest, was somewhat pale but already recovering as he sat behind Obadiah. Moon and her horse were further ahead.

A burly man exited a car with a coach gun in his hands and aimed it towards the riders. Before he could fire, an orb slammed into the side of his head, which left him on the ground and bleeding, the hot metal leaving a brand.

Moon got next to the car- or as close as she could manage, and lept off of her horse and onto the platform outside the door. She gave a thumbs-up, and her horse turned away and off into the desert.

"Now you!" and despite the sound drowning out her voice, Obadiah and Monty — much to their disappointment — knew exactly what she wanted them to do.

"No fucking way!" Monty shouted, and Obadiah nodded in kind.

Moonwalker drew her rifle and pointed it at them.

"You're not going to shoot at u-" but before Obadiah could finish, Monty had already lept across, and Moon caught him at the last second, although it was more like Monty crashed into her.

Obadiah groaned, and, after getting as close as the horse would allow, jumped-

And missed, grabbing the railing at the last second. With a little encouragement from Moon, he managed to heave himself over the top and fall flat on his back atop the platform.

Obadiah groaned as he got back on his feet, and huffed. "Alright, which way?" But Moon had already ran through the door that lead further down the train. Monty shrugged and followed her. Obadiah dragged his hand down his face before he went inside as well.

Once they entered, several guards were already on the ground dead, with Monty and Moon expectantly waiting. Monty was about to make a snide remark, but before he did, an officer came through the opposite door and before he could shoot Moon, Obadiah fired a bullet in his leg, that quickly spread a black poison through the rest of his body, leaving him on the ground and convulsing.

Monty raised an eyebrow. "Let's go, then."

As the three advanced to the next cart, Moon stopped them before they went through the door. Her Eyes were peering through the windows of the next cart, and she pointed to the inside of Obadiah's coat. He reached in and pulled out a flask of hot orange liquid, opened the door, and tossed it into the car full of waiting mercenaries, who were soon covered in boiling fluids, which burned fascinating patterns into their skin.

When the screaming stopped, the trio continued on.

"Can we try going on top of the cars?" Monty gestured to the roof of the train as they passed between carts. Moon shook her head. "Not safe and they'll just shoot up and kill us."

Monty shrugged, and as his shoulders went back down, a bullet flew right over them, and the three took cover. Guards were coming from further up the train. Obadiah drew a gun and fired. The bullet went straight between the eyes, and fire sprung out from the back of the man's head once it did.

"Shit! They got Paul!"

Obadiah chuckled to himself as he ducked behind a tipped-over cart.

A man stepped into the car, tall and fierce, wearing a buckle-set wizard hat with a wide brim. The other soldiers stepped aside as he cracked his knuckles and with a wave of his hand, flung a ball of fire towards the other side, missing Obadiah while Monty and Moon ducked.

He laughed as he drew two flaming spheres from his palms, and slowly walked over. Obadiah leaped up from his cover, and as the cowboy cast the fireball, Obadiah threw off his coat and swung it forward as if it were a red cape before a bull. The fire dissipated immediately as it made contact with the leather, and the wizard, in his confusion, failed to avoid Obadiah leaping forward and firing into his gut twice.

The bullets, once they made contact with his flesh, burst into a viscous acid that rapidly expanded, and once Obadiah fell back behind cover, it splattered across the cart, causing most of the other guards to collapse as the liquid burned through their skin.

Obadiah reloaded and spun the revolver before putting it back into his coat, and gestured for his two companions to follow him towards the car that held their prize.


THE PRIZE

Most of the guards were dispatched by now, pardon a loyal few standing before the heavily locked and sealed door, who were shred by buckshot once the three entered the cart.

Monty rapped the back of his hand against the metal. "Hope you brought enough, Obadiah."

The alchemist smiled, and drew a large satchel wrapped tight from his coat. Setting it down before the metal door, he lit the fuse and hurriedly ran back out of the cart, followed shortly by his two companions. Once outside, the alchemical mixture within the satchel exploded, sending metal and soot flying out of the door.

Now with the door out of the way, and the car mostly destroyed, the three entered to see a large cube floating above a pedestal, with strange engravings on all sides.

Monty reached towards the Egregorian. "Would you look at that-"

Moon slapped his hand. "Stop." Monty balked a little as he retreated from the object.

She frowned a little. "Sorry. It's not prepared yet. Touching it now would hurt you." And she then she laid her hand on the cube which began to lightly glow at her touch, much to Monty's chagrin, and stepped away, with the Egregorian floating close behind her, not unlike her Eyes.

Obadiah looked towards the carts behind. the corridor. "Time to go."

Moon nodded. "Shoot the connector."

Obadiah pulled out his gun, double-checked which bullet was in the chamber, and fired at the hooks connecting the car to the rest of the train, with the explosion it caused rending it asunder. The remaining officers from further along the train ran to catch the three, only to see the car they were on already left behind, further down the track.

The old man sighed, drew his gun, and fired towards them, but the bullet did not find its mark in any capacity- they were too far gone.

A younger ranger frowned. "Shit. What now?"

The old man kept staring into the distance and simply scowled. "We'll have a lot to explain to Currie, that's for sure."


EVER AFTER

"Son of a bitch, they ruined my vest! You know how much these things cost?"

Obadiah turned to Montgomery, and raised an eyebrow. "I know you didn't pay a cent for those clothes."

Monty scowled. "I paid every cent and dollar for them!" He rubbed some soot off of his face. "It's just that those dollars weren't mine, is all."

Obadiah smiled. Then that smile turned to a chuckle, and from a chuckle to a deep and uproarious laugh. Monty, initially dry, began to laugh in kind and the two eventually fell to the ground laughing, out of mild amusement but moreso immense relief at their survival. Moonwalker looked bewildered, but eventually, she started giggling too.

There they were, three individuals, sitting around a campfire, in the middle of nowhere, laughing like a bunch of lunatics, to the surprise of no one.

Once the tears were wiped from their eyes, two horses slowly made their way over- Moon's horses. "Right on time," she said, a bit of mirth in her voice still. "Worried you'd be late."

The horses, being horses, didn't say much. Obadiah and Montgomery gathered their things and as they got on, Monty turned to Moon and tilted his head a little.

"Can I keep the horse?"

"Absolutely not." Moon laughed to herself as she got onto the horse, sitting behind Monty.

And the trio rode off, off into the sunset.

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