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Peso was still moving when Vin hit the ground running, rifle in hand; and without looking behind him he knew Ezra would follow. They quickly made it up the side of the cliff and into a position where they could see the entire river basin and not be seen themselves.

Vin squinted into the scope of the assassin's rifle targeting the men that held his friends. The original owner of the rifle had used it to kill for money, he used it to protect the town he now called home and the people he called family. He relaxed his muscles, letting his instinct ride on full. Or was trying too. "Sit your cranky black clad ass down and stop provoking the damn rustlers," he said under his breath, as he had to shift the rifle to avoid Chris.

"Mr. Tanner?" He should have known Ezra would hear that. "I will pretend to have been deaf for that moment if you will impart the plan that has been formulating in that clever mind of yours."

Vin paused, deciphering Ezra-speak for normal person speak. "Shoot'em."

Ezra rolled his eyes. "Yes, that was a given. I was hoping you had more as you have so kindly pointed out that Mr. Larabee is currently not playing the correct role for that aspect of the plan to work."

The tracker shifted his position slightly, allowing Vin to split his attention between the scene below and the man next to him. "Ain't really got anything past that. You?"

"Now that you have had a moment," Ezra stopped as if knowing now was not the time to embellish his speech. "Yes, Vin, I think I do."

"Am listening."

Ezra grinned and Vin thought this was either going to be very sneaky or very loud. He shrugged, he didn't have anything else and Ezra was right, Chris wasn't playing his part.

"This is what we're going to do," Ezra began.


Vin watched Ezra move stealthily through the shadows of the wooded area behind the rustlers leaving three ignited sticks of dynamite in his wake. He panned the rifle a little to the left for another look at JD and Buck making sure they were still clear of blast area. Buck had not moved in the last few minutes and JD was still keeping pressure on what Vin was guessing was a gunshot wound to the older man's shoulder.

He scanned back to the right, checking on the fuses attached to the dynamite. The first one would go up within the next minute. By then, Ezra would be in place and out of the line of fire. Vin continued to move the scoped-rifle to the right until he reached Chris who had now been forced to his knees by a gun to the head. The dark glare the gunslinger gave the rustler promised a very painful death. Chris just didn't know it wouldn't be at his own hand. Vin smirked, Chris would be pissed about that; but Vin would worry about that later. For now, he took a deep breath, readying himself to fire.

When the first stick of dynamite went off, the rustlers turned to the right and looked past Chris and their leader to see the smoking remains of a fallen tree rain back to earth in a cloud of dust and debris. The second explosion tumbled a tree which fell against part of the makeshift corral and allowed the stolen cattle an exit to escape. The final blast was off to the left causing all the rustlers to spin around and look to where their other two prisoners had been. The area was now empty but for the depression left in the ground by the thrown explosion.

Vin would never understand how or why Ezra liked to carry that stuff. Or, even throw it once lit, but he figured to each their own.

Between the second and third explosions Chris rolled to his feet only to come face-to-face with the leader of the rustlers who held Chris' gun. The sound of the report from the rifle through the basin reached the two men just seconds after the bullet found its mark and sent the rustler flying backwards while Chris' gun dropped to the ground in front of him. Two more shots brought another two rustlers down.

Picking up his gun, Chris looked in the direction he thought the shot had come from and Vin would give him credit. Chris had been close.

"This is over!" Chris called, loud enough for all to hear. "Drop'em and live or the next shots will end your lives!"

Several of the man dropped their guns, but some never learned. Vin fired a shot that took the hat off another man which thankfully caused the rest to toss their weapons to the ground. Vin scanned the area, with all the rustlers and peacekeepers accounted for he moved from his position and headed toward the basin floor.

"Everyone on the ground," Chris ordered, with a sweep of his gun. "Now!"

"Really, Mr. Larabee," Ezra said, walking out of the woods with Buck supported between himself and JD, "I think some of us would prefer not to roll around on the ground like pigs."

Chris grunted. "How is he?"

"I'll live," Buck answered for himself. "Though wouldn't mind sitting for a spell."

JD took Buck's weight from Ezra and helped the older man to one of the rock outcroppings where Buck could sit and it left Ezra able to shoot should the need become necessary.

Chris scanned the area before turning back to the youngest peacekeeper. "JD, as soon as you get him settled, start tying up our prisoners."

"Sure thing, Chris."

Now Chris turned to the Southerner. "Thought we'd agreed you'd stop carrying that stuff in your saddle bags."

"Seems to me it came in handy there, Cowboy." Chris glared at Vin. Vin just smirked and raised an eyebrow in return. He knew they all hated it when he just appeared as if from thin air. Vin noticed that Ezra's reaction wasn't much better,.

"The plan worked, didn't it?"

"I'm serious about the dynamite," Chris stated, glared at both he and Ezra again, but gave up arguing. "Whose idea was this?"

"Oh I do believe, Mr. Larabee, that this was all Mr. Tanner's idea. After all, his plan was to shoot'em."

He turned to look at Ezra, not liking the fact that the gambler was giving him all the credit and about to speak up when Chris interrupted. "It was a good plan, Ez," he said, grasping Ezra's shoulder before walking away. "Now let's go home."

Vin chuckled at the look on Ezra's face. "Was a good plan," he agreed.

Ezra snorted. "So was yours."

Vin nodded. "Chris buys us drinks then."

"That's an even better plan, Mr. Tanner."

Vin followed Ezra back to their horses. "Thought you'd like that one."

~ end ~