Ireton looked around him before he chose a target. The bank was behind him. The Sheriff’s office was three doors away from the building he was at on the opposite side of the town’s main street. This was a good place to be for the fighting. When the outlaws would reach the bank though, he would need to take better cover as the rooftop was almost bare aside from a wooden sign advertising a blacksmith’s services with directions to his livery stable. This was decent concealment for the purposes of hiding a sharpshooter in a long range setting. Yet for close quarters battle it would not suffice. Bullets would rip right through the sign. For now with the enemy about a half mile away coming from the flat agricultural area past the town no one would know where his slugs were soaring from.
Ireton pressed the stock tight against his shoulder. The rifle was cocked and the safety was off. All he had to do was press the trigger. Seven pounds of pressure was what it took for pressing the trigger to release the hammer, and the hammer would strike the firing pin, touching the cartridge’s firing pin off to ignite the gunpowder to propel the bullet.
He aligned the front sight post between the v-shaped notch of his rifle and he positioned the front post at the black silhouette he saw in the distance. He could not tell if it was a man or a woman, or if he was aiming at the horse or the rider. He knew it to be the enemy though.
He waited until the horses galloped further towards him. Tarszak was smart enough not to start shooting yet. Now the enemy was five hundred yards away. The effective range of Ireton’s rifle was four hundred yards. Ireton would wait some more. Seconds passed. Ireton counted forty horsemen in the distance.
Where’s the other twenty? Their strength was estimated at sixty, not forty. This cannot be all of them.
He could think about the faulty intelligence or he could take the shot. He fired. The howling bullet of the .54 caliber rifle barked from the barrel and struck a target in the distance. Ireton worked the lever action and ejected the spent case and threw a fresh round into the bore with it. He fired again. Another rider fell dead. And now they were increasing their speed. He heard cracks from Tarszak’s rifle too.
Good! He’s starting to shoot.
Ireton fired twice and hit another two riders. The outlaws were beginning to scatter as they rode towards Novi Powzak. Ireton missed his next two shots as they were now two hundred yards away and approaching him. Ireton then loaded six fresh cartridges into his rifle from the bandolier on his chest. He took aim and fired seven more times into the approaching column that quickly fanned out into rows
Ireton aimed at the smoking guns of the horsemen. One of them had tried to hit him, he could tell who it was from their muzzle’s smoke trail. He was using the new smokeless powder. This was all the rage in Priska, and he had been told in the Intelligence Bulletin that the Knobbians and the Triverentese had adopted its use. These outlaws fired their guns and left a smoke trail similar to that of a cigarillo’s. His merely flashed orange in the cold of the winter. A pile of shell casings was falling at his feet and Ireton noticed the number of dead horsemen on the ground in the distance. He was certain at least three of their number were hit. To a military marksman his shooting would have been deemed poor. But Ireton had never been through a basic course in rifle shooting. He had never served in a military. His favorite type of firearm was the revolver. As he was adept with it, after his assisted escape from the orphanage he had to become adept with it.
Another bullet struck near him. this time in the sign that was his concealment.
My cue to go.
Ireton ran back to the stairs that allowed him to access the building’s roof. He only descended a flight down and then entered through the unlocked door. The Sheriff was present seated in a chair down the long gallery with his weapon drawn.
“We can take pot shots at them from here. I bet they’ll be coming in soon.”
Ireton shoved five fresh rounds into the magazine tube and then stopped because of the approaching hoofbeats. A outlaw entered his sight picture. He fired.
As Ireton said this he ejected his spent cases and resumed firing at his targets. The outlaws were not expecting a decentralized defense. They were riding up to the bank dismounting, and then being cut down by the Sheriff’s men and himself. Ireton would fire his weapon, drop the target, and ride the recoil to the next target while ejecting his spent casing. Ireton then shoved four more rounds into his gun. The Sheriff was reloading his revolver.
“I’M GLAD YOU’RE HERE, DETECTIVE. YOU’RE SHOWING THEM RASCALS!”
After Ireton shouted over the gunfire he reloaded his weapon and admired the gun’s cartridges as he reloaded. They were straight-walled cartridges with flat nosed bullets with holes on the top. These were nick-named hollow points or dum dum bullets. The rounds had a sharp edge at the base to cut a clean hole. These too were made by the Varmish gunsmith. And he called these Semi-wadcutting hollow points. At 265 grains they provided high velocity stopping power amongst their peers in rifle cartridges.
Ireton emptied his magazine tube once more and he heard the staccato of automatic fire.
Sounds like a Triverentese machine gun!
Ireton dropped to the floor like the Sheriff did. He then drew his .48 Sarfan revolver and looked at the Sheriff who gave a thumb’s up to say he was okay while heavy bullets broke through the thick walls of the building. This was devastating fire. Perhaps this was his quarry himself?
He pulled the hammer back of the revolver, raised himself up on his knees and observed his target. It was a stage coach with a machine gun on its rear side. The person in the shotgun position had a machine gun at his disposal as well and both guns were firing into the bank. The driver was shooting at the ground floor of Ireton and the Sheriff’s position where more deputies were stationed. Ireton aimed for the shotgun rider first. And the Sheriff’s deputies dispatched the horses that were teamed for the stage coach.
Ireton depressed the trigger and hit the machine gunner square in the chest just above the collar bone. He then pressed the trigger again, this time with a long pull and aligned the next chamber with his firing cone. the follow up shot hit the rear machine gunner in the back, and the next one did the same. He then aimed for the driver of the coach and sent his cylinder’s last remaining rounds into the driver’s chest.
The deputies below whooped and roared as Ireton finished off the stage coach crew. He emptied his revolver of spent casings and pulled a speed loader from his belt to charge a fresh half-dozen cartridges into his weapon.
He turned to the Sheriff.
“LET’S GET THOSE GUNS SECURED, AND USE THEM AGAINST THEM.”
“AGREED, DETECTIVE. LET’S GO .”
Ireton and the Sheriff descended the exterior set of stairs to arrive at Novi Powzak’s street level. At this time the whole of the outlaw gang had appeared to have entered the city and many had entered the bank building or were in the process of it. Ireton fell prone on one of the stairwell’s landings and fired his revolver in double-action mode striking three of the gangsters as they mistakenly dismounted in the open by the stage coach. They were hoping to retake the machine guns on the stage coach. Once Ireton reloaded he continued down the steps with the Sheriff.
At the foot of the steps, Ireton could see muzzle flashes from inside the bank. Rounds kicked up dirt around he and the Sheriff. Ireton emptied his revolver at the flashes and moved to his left where the Sheriff led him to fresh cover in a one story building that before this gun battle served as Novi Powzak’s general store.
“KEEP FIRING, BOYS. SMOKE ‘EM IN THE BANK, KEEP THEIR HEADS DOWN.”
Ireton dumped his cartridges on the floor and loaded a fresh six rounds in his revolver’s cylinder to replace the spent six casings.. He had forty-two rounds left for his revolver on his gunbelt in his speed loaders. Tarszak shouted to them while firing his revolver at the bank while running to Ireton and shouting at the deputies.
“YOU HEARD THE SHERIFF. KEEP SHOOTING.”
Tarszak got down on his knees by Ireton and ejected his spent cartridges. The volume of the enemy’s gunfire was dying down and they could now speak with normal voices.
“That was some good shooting, Detective. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Thanks, Chief. Glad you are here too!”
The Sheriff spoke to them both.
“Think you can make it to the stage coach fellas and use those guns. Its not going anywhere. And we can use them to keep their heads down in the bank so we can get our guys in there. How bout it?”
Ireton shook his head yes. So did Tarszak.