This was a story Challenge that moved on nicely...creating another tale of the DHG, the challenge word was Pole Axed
Wrapping his arms about his self, he struggled for air, his world shut down to the bright sun blinding him and the pain wracking through his body until a shadow at least blocked the sun. Opening his watering blue eyes, he could see a worried look creasing Heyes' face and a hand hovering over him unsure if it should touch him or not. "Can't get me breath."
"Your ribs broke."
"No, just winded."
Rocking back on his heels, Heyes exhaled heavily, pulling his hat, he swiped an arm across his brow wiping sweat away, tugging his hat back on, he looked at the blonde-haired man curled up in a ball before him. "Had me worried."
Flashing a weak smile, Kyle struggled to sit up, Heyes moved in to assist and the little outlaw gasped, "Strawberry?"
"She's over yonder. Now I need you on your feet. We both know that posse is still back there and getting closer by the minute." Heyes said slipping under Kyle's arm and standing he brought the man up with him.
Leaning heavily against his leader, Kyle took a shuddering breath and then placing his hands on his knees stood shakily on his own.
"Got it?" Heyes asked
"Good." Shifting his attention to the other Devil's Hole members descending the rocky cliff, albeit much more carefully, then Kyle and even himself had just done, he still held up a hand telling them to halt as his dark eyes took in the small, rocky bowl he stood in, 'This is a perfect place for a blood bath.' He thought, 'I need to get us out of here.' Walking over to check on Kyle's horse, he heard hooves clopping across the hard ground of the bowl, "Kid I said for you to wait up above."
"And, I said for you to let me come down in the first place."
Turning about, Heyes found both Kid and Wheat sitting on their horses behind him and frowned shaking his head. "Sometimes I think you two have to be the hardest headed men I know."
They both grinned, stepping out of their saddles.
"Rest of ya stay on up there like Heyes done said." Wheat hollered up with an air of authority.
"Maybe a bit louder Wheat, not sure the posse heard you." Kid said with an icy look.
Heyes shook his head again and seeing Kyle was slowly beginning to pace back and forth, he returned his attention to the horse and moving around her, his shoulders slumped.
"Saw it from above." Kid said laying a hand on Heyes' shoulder. "Reason Wheat came down was so Kyle could double up with him."
Heyes rubbed a hand down his face, turning to the rocky cliffs, they needed to surmount in order to escape the posse, "You and I both know there isn't a horse, which could make that climb doubled up. If any of us try it, were going to wind up right back down here and maybe not as lucky as Kyle."
"Well what do you want to do?"
Heyes turned away from his partner's searching, trusting look. He did have a plan and he knew the Kid was not going to like it. "Let Kyle say goodbye to his mare then I will get us all out of here."
Kid arched an eyebrow but before he could raise a question, Kyle saw his mare's shattered leg and with a low cry let go of Wheat limping faster to his horse.
Seeing the other men look shamefacedly away, Kyle brushed at his tears, "I know she be only a horse. But she's a good one." He said wrapping himself about the mare's muzzle. "Strawberry, I'm sorry, so sorry girl. You been the best horse, I ever had." Taking a long look at the white, bloody, bone erupting from her leg, Kyle's face crumpled even more and he tearfully warbled. "Kid. KID."
"I'll take care of her." Kid said nodding for Wheat to move Kyle along before he pulled out his Schofield.
Wheat grabbed hold of Kyle, steering his pal away from what needed to happen. "Come on now, ya can rides with me."
"You know this shot is going to bring the posse right to us." Kid said rubbing a hand down the horses' neck.
"I know, can't be helped. I ain't about to leave an animal in pain especially one of our own mounts"
"Oh, I have every intention of putting her out of her misery. But, I need to know if'n you have a plan to keep us from facin' misery of our own?" Kid asked.
"I do." Heyes said walking away and as he heard the reverberating crack of the Schofield followed by the crashing thump of the horse, he mumbled to himself. "You just aren't going to like it is all."
"I am done discussing this." Heyes said waving his arms at his gang members. "That posse will be here before we know it and then my plan ain't going to work."
From the ridge, Hank called, "Well I think Kyle should do it. Not you Heyes. If'n anything goes wrong – well I think Kyle should do it."
"No, I'm the leader and I ain't asking any of you to do, what I won't do myself." Heyes said firmly. "Now get."
Kyle spun Hannibal Heyes' black gelding about, "Ya sure Heyes."
"I am." He said slapping his own horse on the rump. "Now like I keep saying. Get!"
"And you say I'm stubborn." Kid growled bumping Heyes with his horse as he rode by.
"You take care of your end and it will all work out fine." Heyes grinned up, squinting into the sunshine. "Besides, what could go wrong?"
"Ah damnation, why'd ya have to go and say that?" Kid sighed kicking his horse up the rocky incline.
Standing with his hands on his hips, Heyes watched the nine men who currently followed his commands, as the leader of the Devil's Hole Gang, ride away. Then with a sigh, he began removing Kyle's gear from the dead mare. Just as he finished working the saddle free, he heard the sound of the posse's horses coming down into the bowl. "About time y'all got here." He said setting the saddle down on its horn, pushing his hat up and with a smile put his hands in the air.
"Why Heyes!" The Marshall exclaimed looking a bit pole-axed. "You were the last one I thought we would catch up with."
Heyes flashed a big smile, "Never know what you will get when you go out hunting. Don't you know that?"
The Marshall smiled even larger. "Know me and my boys just got us a sizable reward," and stepping down from his own saddle, he walked forward to stand across from the outlaw leader. "Now you just reach over with your left hand and slip that shooter out, laying it there on that boulder, next to them saddlebags."
The four deputies scanned the area and seeing Hannibal Heyes was alone, got down from their horses taking turns to stretch.
"Now get down on your knees and keep your hands above your head." The Marshall said, keeping a close eye on Heyes.
A tall, lanky Deputy spit on the ground moving closer, "You mean he's, Hannibal Heyes, the leader of the Devil's Hole Gang?"
"The one and only." Heyes said his brown eyes looking golden in the sunshine, as they danced with amusement, over the awe so evident in the young deputy's voice.
"Yup, Owen he is the leader of them worthless no-good, rotten outlaws." Said a deputy with enough deep wrinkles, to attest to his years of living under the harsh sun, "And it seems to me, what they say about outlaws is true."
"What do they say?" asked Owen and Heyes too turned an eye to the older man curious.
"That they are a shiftless, selfish lot who see to themselves before anyone else. I have heard they would cut their own brother's throat to save their own hides. Worthless scum is what they are!" He said bitterly, brushing at his thick mustache.
Heyes' good humor turned black, his dark eyes hardening and seeing the shift Owen took a step backwards.
A deputy wearing a pair of fancy high-topped boots was circling behind Heyes, when he saw Owen retreat and with a scowl, he moved in quickly kicking Heyes square between the shoulder blades. In a grunting rush, the air shot from Hannibal Heyes' lungs as he flew forward, his black leather gloves skidding along the hard rock, as he crossed his arms protecting himself from the full impact. "Outlaws is lower than a snake's belly. Don't let this one intimidate ya none Owen" The man said, kicking Heyes in the sole of the boot. "We've got'em well cornered."
The five men began laughing but it all froze over when a steely, deep voice called out, "I don't know if cornered is the way I would put it gents." However, it really was not so much his words that halted them, as the recognizable sound of hammers clicking into place, as the entire Devil's Hole Gang stood up, from behind boulders all the way around them.
Jumping from rock to rock, the Kid landed down in the bowl, "Heyes you alright?"
"I am." Heyes replied climbing stiffly to his feet and with a grimace, he rolled his shoulders, aiming a hard look at the man who had kicked him.
"Well, I do think now, might be a real good time for y'all to back up against that rock wall with your hands way, way above your heads." Kyle said and with much grumbling the six men did just that.
"Go on and line up." Heyes said walking over with the Kid and Lobo flanking him as he moved down the line removing any firearms along with their stars.
"Why you doing this?" The Marshall asked as Heyes un-pinned his large silver star.
"I find a bit of disgrace teaches a man humility." Heyes replied with a twinkling smile, "But disgrace a man too much and you're asking for remuneration." He said rearing back and punching the deputy in the high-top boots, so hard his head bounced off the wall, which he then slid dazedly down. "Now why don't you all join your friend in taking a seat!" He growled his smile having changed to a look that turned the lawmen's blood cold. "Lobo, you keep'em covered and if one of them moves." His dark eyes looked down the line of men, "Turn him into a cripple."
"Will do Heyes." Lobo said with a wide, not quite sane, looking grin.
"Kyle." Heyes called, smiling once more as he faced the friendliest member of their gang. "They got good solid mounts; you choose which one you like." Walking over and retrieving Kyle's saddle, he handed it to Douglas. "You go with him. Unsaddle all them horse and send the five un-" he turned a dimpled smile on the lawmen "unwanted horses on their way."
With his gang once more mounted and loaded down with extra firearms, Heyes rode up to the grousing lawmen to sling three of their canteens at their feet. "Now Marshall, I would think it would be more important to get out of these rocks and find water for the six of you then trailing us low-down outlaws." Heyes said with an amiable grin. "And, before we leave I would like to clear something up. We ain't ordinary outlaws; we are the Devil's Hole Gang." Heyes waved at the men lined up behind him. "Something you should know about us is-"
His own words were over ridden by the voices of the men backing him up, "We don't leave no man behind."
The lawmen leaned back into the wall, surprised by the veracity of their words.
Heyes laughed loudly flashing a dimpled smile at his cousin and partner.
The Kid replied with a smile every bit as big as he hollered, "Devil's Hole Let's RIDE!" And, with a clatter, they were up the rocky ledges, quicker than a herd of mountain goats and slipping away into the Wyoming Mountains, headed back to the hole they all called home.