Note: The characters of this story are not the wild west Rangers. This is what might have happened, if the Rangers we all know and love had been a part of the wild west, instead of their ancestors. But, instead of space aliens to fight, they have to contend with the possibility of attacks by hostile bands of Indians and racial prejudice, including the KKK. It's kind of a Power Rangers/Lonesome Dove mixture. Also, instead of Angel Grove, they live in a small, practically unknown and nameless town in Texas.
Timeline: Sometime back in the old west.
Tommy wiped his forehead with one sleeve. It was a hot Texas morning, and he could really go for something to drink. He saw that the men he had hired for his ranch was about half finished anyway. He was usually out there helping him, but he had pulled his back a few days prior and was still recovering from it.
"Hey, guys," he yelled, "Break time. I'm thirsty, and I bet you are too. Kim is likely to have some food fixed as well, seeing how it's about dinner time." Kimberly Hart was his fiancee. They had planned to get married after the cattle drive, so Tommy honestly couldn't wait to get on the road. He had barely been able to get her a ring, just before his ranch ran into some financial trouble.
"The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get back," he told the ranch hands at the last meeting.
Jason, his ranch foreman, had grinned as he nodded. "Yeah, and the sooner you can finally marry Kim," he had replied. Tommy had playfully swatted him.
As they walked to the house, Tommy didn't have a hard time picking out Justin from the crowd. Justin was a young orphan boy that was living on the rance. Tommy and Kim were planning to adopt after they were married. Although he was just almost 13, Justin insisted on helping.
"If I'm going to inherit all of this one day, I have to earn it," he had said, in one of their many arguments.
"Hey, Justin," he called, "Hold up a second."
With a slight groan, Justin turned from his friend Billy. Together, they were the two smartest people on the ranch, or in the entire state of Texas, for all Tommy knew.
"What's wrong?" Justin asked, as he jogged up to Tommy.
"I just want you to go to the bath house and clean up, that's all," Tommy said, "Kim would skin me alive if she saw you like this."
Justin grinned sheepishly. He had taken a tumble into some mud, after some of the older ranch hands decided to play a prank on him. Tommy had given them a severe tongue lashing, but the damage had been done.
As Justin headed to the bath house, Tommy was reminded of the day he had found Justin, four years ago. Justin had only been nine years old, but could remember it with surprising clarity. Well, he couldn't remember anything of what happened to make him an orphan, but he could remember what happened.
Tommy and Kimberly had been returning to the ranch after a play, and had found him unconscious in an overturned wagon. From the arrows, it had been obvious that it had been an Indian attack, which were rare but did happen. They had killed Justin's father, who had been an old friend of Tommy's, taken Justin's mother with them, and had left Justin for dead.
And the young boy would have died, too, if not for the young couple happening upon the overturned wagon. Using adrenaline to give him surprising amounts of strength, Tommy lifted the wagon and set it upright. Kim scrambled inside, and checked poor little Justin out. Satisfied that Justin didn't have a back or neck injury, Kim had gently pulled him out of the wagon. They then rushed him back to town and to the clinic there.
A few days later, Justin was awarded to Tommy, who was an upstanding citizen of the county. The depending factor had been Justin, who had been grateful to Tommy and Kimberly. Since he didn't have any family that he knew of, Justin wanted to live with them on the ranch, and was allowed to do so.
After two years of adjusting to his new life, Justin started calling Tommy and Kimberly dad and mom, respectively. Even though they technically weren't his parents, they never corrected Justin.
The three of them were the only permenant residents of the ranch. Jason, Zack, Rocky, and Adam all lived nearby and didn't stay on the ranch. That way, there was no need for barracks so that Tommy could save money.
Tommy frowned as he thought of Zack. Zachary Taylor was often the victim of hate groups, mostly the KKK. Zack and his wife, Aisha, were always living in fear, fear that their house might be burned down one night as they slept. Tommy and Kim often had to hide them.
Tommy shook those thoughts from his head. "It won't matter in a few days," he muttered. Zack and Aisha were planning on staying up North after the cattle drive, just to be on the safe side. Therefore, obviously, Aisha was coming with them.
Tommy hated to lose his two oldest ranch hands, oldest being in terms of how long they had worked for him, and two good friends, but he knew that it was for the best. He had a moral obligation to look after them, and didn't back down from that.
He waited for Justin, who finally came running out of the bath house. They went to the house and let themselves in. Kim was waiting for them inside, hands on her hips and glaring.
"Where have you two been?" she demanded, "Your dinner is getting cold."
"Sorry, beautiful," Tommy said, giving her a kiss. "Justin took forever cleaning up." Justin stuck his tongue out at Tommy, who replied in kind.
"What's for dinner?" Justin asked, as the three of them joined the other ranch hands, who were scarfing down their food already.
"Chili and cornbread."
Justin licked his lips. That was his favorite meal. The three of them sat down, with Justin sitting beside Billy and Tommy and Kimberly next to him.
"Hey, Justin," Rocky said, "I'm sorry about the prank earlier. I hope you didn't get hurt."
"Nah, just my ego was hurt," Justin said, grinning.
Adam, Rocky's mute friend, nodded. "I'm glad," he signed. Justin had learned sign language from Adam, Rocky, and Billy. While the others knew some basic sign language, Billy, Justin, and Rocky often had to translate what Adam signed.
"So, Jason," Tommy said, "What time do you think we'll be ready to leave for the cattle drive?"
"I'd say that we'll be ready by midnight," Jason replied, "The cows are almost all ready to go. Only a few of us will be needed to round up the rest. The rest should round up the horses and the wagons."
"Sounds good to me," Tommy said, "You, Rocky, Adam, and I will get that finished. Billy, Justin, and Zack should get the horses." The others nodded and finished up dinner.
Afterwards, they set to their jobs. It was roughly about midnight when they were finished. The ranch hands left to get the stuff loaded onto the multiple wagons they were taking with them.
Tommy and Justin, however, were saying good bye to Kim. She was going to stay and wait for them. Justin was first, giving her a fierce hug. "Bye, mama," he said, "I love you."
"I love you too, Justin," Kim said, returning the hug. After a few minutes, Justin broke away and went to help the others, waving over his shoulder. "He sure is growing up, isn't he?"
"Yeah, he is," Tommy said. He looked down. He wasn't too good at saying goodbye. "Well, I guess this is it."
"Yeah, I guess so," Kim murmured softly.
Tommy gently tugged her to him and gave her a passionate kiss. "The day I come back is the day we're getting married," he said, "Don't you worry about that."
"I won't," Kim said, "Be careful out there. And stay away from the savage tribes that are said to be between here and the North. I don't want any of the gang, Justin, or you to get hurt and/or killed, you hear me?"
"Yes, ma'am," Tommy said politely. He broke away from her embrace after another kiss, grabbed his cowboy hat, and headed out, with Kim right behind him. Kim said good bye to the others and then stood in the doorway of the house, so that she didn't get dust all over her as they left.
She had a sudden, horrible feeling that was the last time she would ever see Tommy again. Shaking that feeling as best as she could, Kim turned and headed into the house. She had the whole ranch to herself for the next several months, and she was determined to make the best of it.
Tommy led the wagon train on until early into the morning of the next day. In the wagon behind him, Justin was getting some sleep. Tommy envied Justin, who seemed to have energy to spare.
They stopped that night for dinner and also got some sleep. They had made good time, and were a few hundred miles away from the ranch. "Come and get it," Rocky yelled. He was the best cook of the bunch. They hoped that they had enough firewood to last them for a while.
The next morning, they headed out again.
A few days later, they came to a town and made camp.
Billy and Justin took a couple of the horses into town, with a little bit of money that Tommy had given them. They headed into a bar/motel. Billy was just barely 18, so they were both allowed in as long as they didn't ask for alcohol.
As they sat down, a girl caught Billy's eye. She was a beautiful woman who looked to be Chinese and was serving drinks. She caught him staring and their eyes met, and sparks almost literally flew. They both looked away, slightly embarassed.
She eventually made her way over to Billy and Justin's table. "Hi, I'm Trini," she said, "What would you like to drink?"
"Just some water, thanks," Justin said. Billy nodded, to enchanted by Trini to be able to say anything. Trini wrote something on a small pad of paper and then, glancing at Billy again, left.
"I can't wait to get started on the cattle drive again," Justin said, "What about you, Billy? Billy?" When Billy didn't answer, Justin gently poked him in the ribs.
"Oh, sorry, Justin," Billy said, "What did you say?"
"Boy, when a girl catches your eye, she really catches your eye," Justin teased. Billy blushed. "Hey, I don't blame you. Trini's beautiful."
"Yeah, she is," Billy said absent mindedly, as he watched Trini get their drinks and bring them back over. Justin shook his head, as she walked off, and Billy's eyes still followed her as she went.
At the ranch encampment, Tommy was getting a bit edgy. He had been into town, and word had it that there was a tribe of hostile Indians camped somewhere not too far off. And he knew how bad some could get. While he never knew who was his father exactly, whoever it was had been a part of one.
Trisha Samuels was Tommy's birth mother. A beautiful woman, from the sole picture that was made of her before her death. During a raid into the city she had been living in, she was taken, along with most of the women, while all of the men and children were murdered in cold blood.
The tribe that had raided the town took the women back to their camp. Tommy occasionally read his mothers journal, and it fully described how it was awful there. The women had been raped daily by almost every man in the tribe.
After determining that she was pregnant after morning sickness and no periods, Samantha had been able to escape one night, thanks to the sacrifice of most of the women that the tribe had kidnapped. She ran and ran, until she finally found herself at the nearest town.
Nine months later, she had a baby, whom she named Thomas Samuels, after her the man who should have been the baby's father, instead of one of numerous possibilities. Tommy was half Cherokee, which was what he was told his father had been. Samantha had died shortly after Tommy had been born, and Tommy was adopted by the Oliver's, who raised him as one of their own. Out of respect for his mother, they had made his last name his middle name. And that's how Thomas Samuel Oliver was born.
Not too long after he turned eighteen, the Olivers, an old couple by then, died, both from old age. Tommy had buried them both in the small garden his adopted mother had dug in the back of numerous acres of the ranch. He went into town to legalize his inheriting the ranch, and that's where he ran into Kimberly Ann Hart, and fell in love with her in an instant.
Kim was the daughter of the wealthiest man in town, and was more than a bit of a snob when Tommy had first met her. Tommy had worked hard to get on her good side, trying to chisel off some of the granite like exterior of hers. It eventually worked, and the two became the best of friends. And then, something terrible happened.
Kim's father had died, and it turned out that the money he had was embezzeled, and that he left Kim with absolutely nothing. Kim had been broken hearted. Not over the money. She could care less about that. But now, she was an orphan. Her mother had died shortly after Kim's death.
Kim was only 16 at the time, so Tommy agreed to become her official "ward" and took her in. At the time, they had been the only ones living and working on the ranch, since it had been long before Tommy had met Jason and the others. Working hard together to keep the ranch in somewhat good shape, Tommy and Kim found that the steady friendship they had, both before and after the death of Kim's father, had grown into passionate love.
And when she became eighteen, Kim refused to leave Tommy's side at the ranch they had worked so hard to keep running for two and a half years all by themselves. Not too long after Tommy had turned twenty-one and Kim turned 19, they ran across a scared married black couple, who later introduced themselves as Zack and Aisha Taylor.
They had been on the run from the KKK, who had burnt down their original house after Zack refused to not run in for town council. Tommy and Kim housed them for a few years, while the two helped out around the ranch. Tommy and Zack worked together and slowly built a small house for the Taylors to live in, in the back of a small, unowned plot of land right next to the ranch.
Not too long after that, three travellers came into town, that went by the names Billy, Rocky, and Adam. They, too, eventually settled down in a house near the ranch and helped Tommy, Kim, and the Taylors' out. The only payment they ever asked was for Kim to feed them, which she did happily. Surprisingly, Kim loved to cook for big crowds. And boy, it was a big crowd, especially after Jason Lee Scott moved in nearby, and started helping out. But Kim never complained.
Everybody but Tommy and Kim were illiterate at first, and the two of them taught their volunteer ranch hands to read and write. Actually, before Kim had come along, Tommy hadn't even known how to read and write. She taught him, and that's had to be the main reason their relationship grew.
Tommy smiled as he remembered that. He noticed that the sun was going down, and decided to go look and see if Justin and Billy had come back yet. It didn't take him too long to find Jason. "Hey, Jase," Tommy said, "Has Justin and Billy checked back in yet?"
"No, I don't think so, bro," Jason said, "Why?"
"I want to put as much distance between us and this area as we can," Tommy said, "A tribe of hostiles are said to be camped around here somewhere." He sighed and looked out towards town. It was a good ten minute ride there. "I'm going into town to look for them. Care to come with me?"
Jason shook his head. "Nah, I think I'd better stick around," he said, "That tribe might attack at any minute of they knew we were here."
Tommy nodded. "Good point," he replied, "Well, I'll be back as soon as I can. Hold down the fort while I'm gone, and don't let Rocky out of your sight. You know how he can get when he's drunk."
Jason nodded. "I know," he said, as he followed Tommy to their horses, which were tied up to some cacti. "You be careful, bro. I wouldn't want to take any bad news back to Kim."
"You've got it, bro," Tommy said, as he hopped up and onto his horse Riviera. He gently spurred the horse, and it took off, with Tommy waving at Jason over his shoulder as it went.
Tommy just barely got into town by sundown. It didn't take him too long to find Justin and Billy's horses. He tied his horse up next to theirs, took out and strapped on the duel pistols that were hidden inside the saddle bag, and started into the saloon.
Tommy found Billy and Justin ogling some dancing girls, all of which looked to be his age, and old enough to be Justin's mother. He slapped a hand on each's shoulder, and they spun around.
"Hi, dad," Justin said, giving him a sheepish grin.
"Hi, Mr. Oliver," Billy said.
"I told you two to be back at camp by sundown," Tommy said, "Come on. We've got a lot of miles to burn, and we might as well get started."
"Hey, Injun. What's your hurry?"
Tommy glanced over in the direction the booming voice came from. A man who looked to be the bartender was the one who had said that.
"Excuse me, sir," Tommy said politely, "I just came to gather up my two young friends here."
"Your kind ain't welcome here," the bartender said, as he walked out from behind the bar and advanced on Tommy.
"Sir, I don't want any trouble," Tommy said, "I'll be leaving your establishment soon, with my friends." He was starting to get annoyed, but tried to keep the annoyance from his voice.
"No, you'll leave now." With that, the bartender lunged at Tommy, who somersaulted up, over his head, and out of his way. Billy and Justin barely had time to abandon their table before the big bartender went crashing through it.
"Get him," the bartender bellowed, "Get that lousy Injun."
A man came running up to Tommy, winding up for a punch. Tommy side stepped the punch and landed a knee to the ribs. The man went down, his breath apparently knocked out of him with that one kick.
Another came running, but Justin tripped him up. Grinning at his "son", Tommy swiftly kicked the man in the head, knocking him out.
Another man came up from behind Tommy and caught him around the throat, trying to strangle him. Tommy kicked back, hitting the man between the legs, and then did a simple flip. The man crumpled on the floor.
Another man nearby brought up his shotgun and was trying to reload it. Spinning around, Tommy quickly pulled one of his pistols and put it right in the man's face. "Draw that, and it will get ugly," he warned. The man wisely dropped the shotgun on the floor, and the shell on the table.
Tommy kicked the shotgun to an empty corner and re-holstered his pistol. "Now," he said, turning to Billy and Justin. "Shall we get back to camp?"
"Wait a moment, young man." Tommy sighed and turned. A man wearing a sheriff's badge was just entering the saloon. "I believe that you're under arrest, for public disturbance."
Tommy and the combatants were taken and put into jail. Justin, being a minor, was sent to the cattle drive's camp. The same with Billy, since he didn't take part in the fight.
"Now," the sheriff said, "What happened?"
"That Injun started a fight with me and my boys, your honor," the bartender said.
"Is that correct, young man?" the sheriff asked.
"No, sir," Tommy said, "I'm the leader of a cattle drive that's passing by, and I came into town to collect a couple of my men that didn't show up by at our camp by sundown. I found them at the saloon, and was reminding them when they were supposed to report back to camp, when he..." He pointed to the bartender. "Yelled something about my kind not being welcomed there."
"He's an Injun," the bartender said, "A lousy, stinking Injun. Whose word are you going to take? An Injun's, or ours?"
"I'm only half Cherokee, mister," Tommy said, "And not by choice. My mother was kidnapped by a Cherokee tribe and raped daily. I don't even know who my father is, because so many members of the tribe had raped her."
"That still makes you a lousy Injun in my eyes," the bartender said.
"Enough," the sheriff roared. Tommy and the bartender shut up. "We'll hold you all over for trial, and see what the judge says about it. He's scheduled in day after tomorrow."
Tommy sighed. `There goes the cattle drive schedule,' he thought, `We'll be lucky to get there by winter at this rate.'
"He'll be lucky to live that long," the bartender said, "The guys that didn't get involved at the bar will get the Klan, and we'll have that Injun strung up by sunrise."
With those simple words, Tommy started feeling real fear, for the first time in his twenty-six years of life. The sheriff seemed to sense that. "Don't worry, son," the sheriff whispered to Tommy, "I won't let them do anything to you." That calmed Tommy down considerably.
"Thanks, sir," he said, "I have a fiancee at home that I promised to marry when I get back from this cattle drive, and I don't want to break my promise."
"Like I said, don't worry," the sheriff whispered. Out loud, he said, "You know, I should try to get you processed faster. Maybe even transfer you over to Bigerston." He winked at Tommy.
"You can't do that," the bartender said, "That Injun has to hang."
"I'm the sheriff of this town, and what I say goes," the sheriff roared, "If any of your Klansmen tries to kill this young man during the transfer... well, I won't be responsible for my actions, his actions, or my deputies' actions."
The bartender grumbled but didn't say anything else.
Late that night, or early in the morning actually, some deputies came by to transfer Tommy to Bigerston. A wagon was out front. The sheriff put a deputy in to watch the bartender and his gang, and rode with Tommy and the other deputies. The bartender and his friends were asleep, and that helped Tommy calm down.
When they were out of town, the sheriff asked, "Where's your cattle drive's camp at, young man?"
Tommy looked at him incredulously. "Umm, in the small valley ten minutes from here," he said.
"I know where that's at," the sheriff said. Ten minutes later, they were at the camp, where the ranch hands all were amazed to see Tommy being driven up by the sheriff.
"I'm letting you go, since it was your first offense," the sheriff said, taking the handcuffs off of Tommy. They were only for show going through town anyway. "You should put as much distance between you and the town as you can. I can only hold off the Klan for so long." He paused. "What's your fiancee's name?"
"Kimberly, sir," Tommy replied, "Kimberly Hart."
"Well, when you get home, tell little miss Kimberly that Sheriff Jacob Goompset said hi," the sheriff said, "And that I wish you both well in your marriage. Can you do that, young man?"
"Sure thing, sir," Tommy said, "And the name's Tommy. Tommy Oliver."
"It was nice meeting you, Tommy Oliver," Sheriff Goompset replied, "If we ever meet again, you can call me Jacob." He extended his hand.
"Thank you, Jacob," Tommy said, shaking the sheriff's hand. "I'll never forget you, or what you did. If our first born is a son, I can promise you that he'll be named after you."
"That's all the thanks I'll ever need," the sheriff said, "Well, we'd better get back and head off Marq's bunch. I'll be seeing you around, Tommy."
"Bye, Jacob," Tommy said. The sheriff jumped into the wagon, and him and his deputies were off. Tommy turned to his ranch hands and Justin. "Well, you heard the man. I know it's early, but we need to break camp and get out of here."
And that's what they did. They were on the trail in an hour, trying to move along as fast as they could, which wasn't very, since the cattle were so slow. But they did seem to be making pretty good time.
They were almost almost two states away, a couple of days later, when they decided to make camp again. "Oh man, Tommy," Jason said, "When Justin and Billy came back to camp and told us what was happening, I was really worried for you, bro."
"For a while, Jase, so was I," Tommy said, "The guy that I got thrown into jail with was planning on his buddies in the Klan to come and hang me."
"Oh, man," Zack said, "That's intense. Why would they do that?"
"Just for the fact that I'm half-Cherokee," Tommy said, "I know how you feel now, Zack and Aisha."
"Tommy, don't worry," Aisha said, "Once we finish the cattle drive, and you head back to marry Kim, you more than likely won't have to worry about the KKK."
Tommy shook his head. "I doubt that," he said, "I've heard of some instances where the KKK cross state lines to hang someone. I'd be endangering Kim if I went back with them on my tail. It'd be better for her if I saw the cattle drive through to the end, and just disappeared.
"No, it won't be better for her, Tommy," Jason said, "She loves you, man. She's depending on you going back and marrying her, like you promised. We'll take care of the Klan, if they stick their ugly noses anywhere near the ranch.'
"Yeah, like you've been doing for me and Aisha all these years," Zack said, "The Klan hasn't bothered us since they burned down our house six years ago, and drove us to ask for your help."
Tommy smiled. "Lot of good that did," he said, "I'm losing two good ranch hands anyway because of them."
Zack and Aisha glanced at each other. "Tommy, we talked about that last night," Aisha said, "And, since we didn't officially announce about our house being up for sale, we're going back with you guys once this is all over."
"Right," Zack said, "Up north, we might have a chance to start all over again, but we wouldn't have as good as friends as you guys."
"Thanks," Tommy said.
"Company coming in," Rocky cried, "It looks like that Sheriff Goompset guy."
"Jacob? Why would he be here?" Justin asked.
"I don't know, but we'd better go meet him," Tommy said, "Billy, Jason, you're with me."
"Can I come?" Justin asked.
"Sure, Justin," Tommy said.
The four of them met the sheriff at the entrance to the small valley they were camped in. They were using valleys with one narrow opening so that cattle didn't get the notion to run off.
"Howdy, Tommy," Jacob said, "I've been riding hard to find you."
"Hi, Jacob," Tommy said, shaking his new friends hand. "Why in the world did you follow us?"
"To warn you," Jacob said, "The Klan's coming after you, and they've got that pretty little gal your buddy William had his eye on at the saloon."
"Trini?" Billy asked.
"That's her," Jacob said, "I think they're going to want to exchange their hostage for you, Tommy. They're stubbornly intent on hanging you, that's for sure."
"@#$%," Tommy swore, "I thought this would blow over once we left town."
"That's the bad thing about this Klan, apparently," Jacob said, "Like elephants, they don't forget."
"Jase, break out the guns," Tommy said, "This might get ugly." He turned to Jacob. "How far away are they?"
"Just a couple of hours behind me, I think," Jacob said, "I'm here to help." He pulled a rifle from the saddle bag on his horse. "This baby's from my private fire arms collection."
"It's a very nice gun, but I prefer smaller, more personal fire arms," Tommy said, "Like these." Moving faster than anybody could follow, Tommy pulled out the pistols from their holsters.
"Boy, I'd sure hate to meet you in a shoot out," Jacob said, "Well, let's get ready. How many are here?"
Tommy did a quick mental count. `Me, Jason, Billy, Rocky, Adam, and Zack,' he thought. "Including me, six people that I would want to get involved," he said, "Seven, including you. Two, including Justin here and one of the five's wives, that I don't."
"Now wait a minute, Tommy," Justin interjected, "I'm just as good a marksman than anybody here, with the exception of you."
"I know, Justin," Tommy said, "But, if this gets ugly, I don't want you in the middle of it. If I don't make it, than you need to go back and take care of Kim. Got that?" Justin nodded reluctantly.
Jason came running up with a bunch of rifles and handguns, the camp's armament. "Here you go, boss," he said, dumping them unceremoniously onto the desert floor.
"Everybody but Justin grab one each," Tommy said, "One rifle, one handgun apiece. And Justin, take Rocky and Adam their share on your way back to camp, and tell them to come join us. We'll need all of the help we can get."
Nodding, Justin scooped up two rifles and two handguns and put them into his saddle bag. He hopped up onto the horse and rode towards camp. A little while later, Rocky and Adam came riding back. They hopped off their horses and huddled around Tommy with the others.
"All right," Tommy said, "Here's the plan..."
The gang got a slight advance warning about the Klan, as their horses snorts reverberated off of the cavern walls.
"Remember," Tommy said, "Do not shoot first. We want little bloodshed, no matter what." The others nodded.
The Klan bravely came walking right up to the entrance to the camp. "Looks like Injun design to me," one of them said.
"Shut up, you idiot," the "grand dragon" said, slapping the other one in the back of the head. They advanced on the camp.
"That's far enough," Tommy booomed out, "We've got seven trained rifles on you, so don't try anything funny."
"Is that you, half breed?" one of the Klansmen taunted, deliberately trying to get Tommy's blood boiling. It was Marq, the bartender.
"Shut up," the "grand dragon" said, "Listen up, Injun. We don't want blood shed, except for yours, so why don't you come down here and trade yourself with this pretty young Chink?" He motioned to Trini, whose horse came riding up beside him. From his vantage point, Billy could see that she was gagged and her hands and feet were bound to the saddle.
"This is Jacob Goompset, your sheriff, fellows," Jacob said, trying one last time for diplomacy. "If you think that I'm going to let you murder an innocent young man, just because he's half-Cherokee, you've got another think coming."
"I guess the half breed is chicken," the "grand dragon" said, "Bring out the other hostage."
"Other hostage?" Tommy whispered to Jacob, who shrugged.
Tommy froze when he heard that cry. It was Kim. He had heard it so many times in the years he's known his beloved fiancee that he would recognize it anywhere. "That's Kim," he hissed.
"Are you sure?" Jacob asked.
"I'd like to think that I'd know if it was her or not," Tommy said.
"We have several guns trained on both beautiful women," the "grand dragon" said, "So, what do you say, half breed? Do we have a deal?"
"I'm coming out," Tommy said.
"Good," the "grand dragon" said. He turned to Kim, who was glaring at him evilly. "You should thank me, woman. You were going to marry a half breed, and taint your blood line."
Kim reared back and did a very un-lady like thing. She spat right into the face of the "grand dragon". "I'd rather marry a half breed Cherokee than any of you," she commented, "Talk about chickens. You're just a bunch of..." She was stopped in midsentence, as the grand dragon backhanded her right off of her horse.
"You touch her again in the slightest, I'll cut you down where you stand," Tommy threatened. For the first time in his life, he picked up a rifle, intent on blowing the "grand dragon's" head clean off his shoulders.
Jacob didn't like the look in Tommy's eyes. "Tommy, don't," he whispered, "If any of us shoots at the wrong moment, your fiancee and William's friend will be killed, do you understand?"
Tommy nodded hesitantly. He put down the rifle and started walking out of the valley they were in, towards the Klansmen.
"Walk that Chink's horse down to the camp, woman," the "grand dragon" said, "And know your place, or we'll be coming after you."
Kim glared at the "grand dragon", but did as he said reluctantly. She took Trini's horses reins and guided it towards the encampment.
When she got to Tommy, she couldn't help it. She rushed to him, giving him a big kiss. "Don't leave me," she said.
"Don't worry," Tommy said, "I'm not planning to anytime soon. Get down to the encampment, and whatever you do, don't look back."
Kim nodded and went back to the horse and guided it towards the encampment again. When she got there, she did as Tommy said, and kept walking, not looking back once.
"NOW!!!" the sheriff yelled.
Tommy, who was right in front of the Klan, drew his pistols with lightning speed and started shooting, taking out two of them before they were even able to realize what was happening. Tommy quickly ducked behind a large boulder nearby.
It didn't take them long to kill or scare off the Klan. The "grand dragon", who was still left unfortunately, pointed to Tommy. "We won't forget this, half breed," he said.
All of a sudden, a shot rang out, and the "grand dragon" slumped to the desert floor, apparently dead.
Tommy looked up to see who his savior was, and saw Kim holding the rifle that he had discarded to save her and Trini.
Kim dropped the rifle and rushed into Tommy's arms, giving him a big, passionate kiss. When the need for air won out, she was intent on snuggling up to him as much as she could.
They went back to camp, where they found Adam in bad condition. He had taken several bullets, and was dying. "Oh man," Tommy said, "I'm so sorry I dragged you into this, Adam."
Adam started signing. "You didn't drag me into it," Rocky interpreted, "I came willingly. I knew the risks when I signed on for this cattle drive. Don't blame yourself for what has happened. And don't let my..." Rocky couldn't finish, he was so choked up.
"Don't let my death slow you down," Billy said, his voice cracking. "Mourn for me, if you have to, but not for too long. And keep Kim safe, Tommy. And never make her cry. For me."
With that, Adam did one last hand signal, let out a big sigh, and never breathed again. Tears flowed, as the members of the cattle drive, and even Jacob, mourned the loss of the young 23 year old.
A little over a month later, they rolled into their destination up north and dropped the cattle off where they were supposed to. They didn't mourn Adam, to respect his dying wish. Billy and Trini started getting really close, and were a couple by the time they got to their destination. Jacob Goompset, who had resigned as sheriff before joining them against the Klan at the gulley, went with them, determined to take Adam's place as ranch hand when they got back to Tommy and Kim's place.
After they collected their pay, they started back, intent on getting back to the ranch before winter. During the nights, the ranch hands could hear moans coming from not only Kim and Tommy's tent, but, surprisingly, from Billy and Trini's.
As they passed through the valley that they had put Adam to rest in, they stopped for the official funeral. "I'm not good at speeches," Tommy said, "But I know that Adam Park was a good man. The best in fact, even if he was a deaf-mute. He was the only one of our number that lost their life on this trip, and we will always remember you, Adam."
A few weeks later, they were back at the ranch. Tommy and Kim had a big ceremony at the local church, and everybody was there.
"And what happened then, grandma?" a child asked.
"Well, Billy and Trini were married not too long after that," an old woman said. She was a storyteller. "I haven't seen Jason, Rocky, Jacob, or the Taylors in a long time. They all moved on a long time ago. We send letters to each other, though. Or we used to anyway. Rocky's wife sent me a letter not too long ago, in fact. It told me that he died of pneumonia at the age of sixty-seven. Zack and Aisha are still alive and well. Billy and Trini, too. They live just down the road. They had many children and grandchildren.
"Jacob died of old age when I was forty-two years old, and when he was about seventy-six," the old woman, "And Jason died of an aneurism at the age of forty nine years old."
"What about Tommy, Kimberly, and Justin?" This time, it was a newspaper reporter. He was there to archive her story, which everybody knew to be true."
"Tommy died of a congenital heart failure at the age of, let's see," the old woman said, "Oh yes, 54 years old. A normal of men that grow to be that old. He left Kimberly behind with many children and nosy little grandchildren.
The boys and girls gathered all giggled.
"As for Justin, he's still alive," the old woman said, "Tommy eventually gave him the ranch, and Justin passed it on to his son. I'd guess that Justin would be about sixty nine years old, and the last time I saw him, he was every bit a cutie pie as he was when he was young. Now, is that all?"
"Just two more questions, ma'am," the reporter said, "What happened to Kimberly Ann Hart-Oliver? And how do you know all of this?"
"I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yourself, mister reporter," the old woman said, "Why, I am Kimberly Ann Oliver. I dropped the split name after my loving husband Tommy died, and changed my last name to simply Oliver in his memory."
"You couldn't be here," the reporter said, "The average life expectancy of a woman in that day and age was fifty, and that's if she was lucky. If you were Kimberly, you would be..." He tried to do the mental math.
"Eight-two years old, and proud of it," Kim said, "If I wasn't Kimberly, how would I know all of this about everybody?"
"She has a point," another reporter pointed out.
"I'm sorry for not believing you, Ms. Oliver," the reporter said.
"That's quite all right, sugar," Kim said, "Now, if you don't mind me, it's way past this old bat's bed time."
"Right," the reporter said, "Thank you for your time, Kimberly. Do you mind if I call you that?"
"Not at all, if you don't mind me calling you sugar," Kim said, smiling. "It's a habit for women that get to be as old as I do." The reporter nodded and thanked her before he left the house. Kim shooed away the kids and went to bed.
Before Kim did, she turned to a picture by her bed. It was of her and Tommy when they were young and had just fallen in love. "I told the world our story, Tommy angel," she whispered, "And now, it's time for me to join you."
She fell asleep, and never woke up again.
Note from the author: Whew, talk about a time consuming fanfic. I've
worked on this thing for the past two weeks, maybe even more. I hope
all of you readers liked it. While most of the fanfic was a Power
Ranger/Lonesome Dove mix, the ending was taken from Young Guns 2. For
those counting, I believe that it's #5 in my unofficial "What if?"
series. I know I promised a parody, but I don't do parodies. Until
next time, readers, catch ya on the flipside.