Revenge of the Goldnapper
It had been six years since Moo and the gang had arrested Rooster Cogvell for his double crime of stealing gold from Fort Knight and smuggling it on to the wagon train going through the Valley of Darkness. As you may recall, he used his Cowgoyle act to smuggle the gold on to the train, which Moo eventually revealed after earning wings of his own (you can thank J.R. for that one). Contrary to what Cowlorado thought, it wasn't Blackjack, but he did act suspicious just to keep his lucky coin protected, and Dakota's guess, Grits, was hiding his "How to Cook" book, since he wasn't really a cook. After Moo arrested Cogvell, Grits was promoted to wagon master, and a new chef that actually knew how to cook was hired to the staff.
Having escaped jail, Cogvell had made it all the way to Elbow's Bend before the authorities even knew he was out. It just goes to show that since Moo Mesa wasn't caught up with the rest of the world, there was no intercom system. Still, you have to appreciate the fact they chose that lifestyle, even to this day.
What Cogvell wasn't aware of was that Moo Mesa got occasional visits from another famous group, the Fab 5: "Callahan Cody" Belachman (a lynx hailing from Hicksburg, Texas), Benjamin Travis (a bobcat with a slight Cuban accent, living in San Antonio, Texas), John Thane (a wildcat also from Hicksburg), David Blaze (a lion from Kansas), and "Bandit Bryce" Burton (a tiger from Arizona). Bryce, remember, was the one who had a safe dropped on his head and turned evil (until he got bonked on the head again during a bank holdup) and David was the rambling lion (willing to do so just so his family could get out debt, a noble sacrifice indeed).
Also, with Sheriff Terrorbull no longer sheriff (due to Moo unmasking him in front of the whole Cowtown population and confirming the claims of the blind town alarmist, Puma), J. Paul Bull Dog became the new sheriff, and he wasn't rouge. He was also a good friend of Cody's.
Cody Calf had awakened to a beautiful sunrise this Saturday morning and had finished breakfast, brushed his teeth, and all that jazz. Having been able to finish his chores, he set off towards town looking for adventure or a crime to report to Moo. It didn't take him a long time to notice the strange activity going on down by the cliffs that led to Elbow's Bend. For the most part, he just heard the dynamite, but did not see the consequences of each explosion. He decided to head straight for Moo's office and report the activity.
At this point, Miss Lily was more comfortable with him doing stuff like this, but she still worried ever so slightly.
"Moo! Moo!" Cody Calf called as he neared Moo's office. Moo, his posse, and J.R. had finished repainting the sign above the front door when Cody Calf arrived. The small, energetic young calf paused to catch his breath and calm down.
"Oh, howdy, calf-pint," Moo replied. "What can we do for you?"
"It's not me you have to do anything for, but I wondered if you heard it or not," Cody Calf explained. "I keep hearing explosions by the cliffs that lead to Elbow's Bend. I don't know who or what is behind it, but I felt it was my duty to tell you."
"And you did a great job doing so," said Moo. "Like the Code of the West says, 'The sooner news travels, the sooner it can be put to good use.' Come on, boys! Let's rodeo!"
Everybody saddled up and headed for the cliffs of Elbow's Bend.
Meanwhile, the Fab 5 was headed for that very same spot. "You think someone's digging for gold where they can't find it?" John asked.
"That there's a possibility," said Cody, "but I ain't betting nothing on it yet. Y'all better keep y'all's ears pointed for more."
"Anything you say," David replied. "The sooner we solve this case, the better." Then he noticed Moo and his posse approaching. "Oh, Cody," he called. "Here comes Moo and his posse. Bet they can help us out."
"I was hoping they all's was going to show up," Cody replied. "That's a relief."
The two groups met at a 90-degree angle, as Moo and his posse were traveling east, and the Fab 5 was going north. "Howdy, Moo," Cody called. "Y'all heard them explosions, too?"
"Not us, but calf-pint did," Moo replied. "Calf-pint here's doing a great job keeping up to news even if we are not. Just goes to show he definitely has what it takes to take over my job when I pass on. In the meantime, let's see what's going on here."
Our heroes adjusted themselves so that all of them were headed for the cliffs where the explosions were coming from. Naturally, when they got there, there was no trace of the culprit, but an important clue lied below. "Well, hog-tie me!" Cowlorado exclaimed in disgust. "The blower-upper's hideout and now it's prairie dust!"
"I don't think we are entirely out of luck, Cowlorado," Moo replied. "Look what I found."
"What is that?" Bryce asked.
"I remember that!" Cody Calf exclaimed after having a flash of insight.
"You do?" Benjamin, David, and John exclaimed in unison.
"Yes, when the cowgoyle had me captive, I found that in his hideout," Cody Calf replied. "Thought he could fool me and get away with it!"
"Cowgoyle? There ain't no such thing as a cowgoyle!" Cody objected.
"Oh, yes, there is," said Moo, proceeding to tell the Fab 5 everything about Cogvell's stealing of the gold, smuggling it, and acting as the cowgoyle to scare people off. When he was finished (in addition to input from Cowlorado and Dakota), Cody replied, "I apologize for being so skeptical, Moo, but there ain't no cowgoyles lurking about in Hicksburg. Guess he was the only one."
"And it was an urban legend put to rest," J.R. put in. "That was the night Moo earned his wings."
"Yup," said Dakota.
Later, the group made it to Elbow's Bend to discover Cogvell's intentions: he had caused the explosions to distract them while he made off with the gold he had secretly kept with him, having only given back 90% to Fort Knight. But to no avail; Cogvell wasn't prepared for Moo's actions.
Not realizing who it was, Cogvell shot bullets at the incoming squadron of ten when he saw them coming. Moo fired stars from his guns, which ricocheted off buildings and caused a stampede of barrels. The barrels got in Cogvell's way, and he could not maneuver his way around it. His only choice was to wait for the clear so he could start again or get arrested again. Of course, the latter was true.
"So, we meet again," Moo said in a cocky tone. "Haven't given back all the gold, have you, Cogvell?"
"Can't fool you, Marshal," Cogvell replied fretfully. "I thought it was a great idea. But crime doesn't pay, does it?" His eyes began to sting and he began shedding tears.
"Nope," said Dakota.
"It's my duty to enforce laws like this, but I'm actually impressed with a plot like this," Moo continued, calming his tone of voice and trying to calm Cogvell down. "Of all the crimes I've had to deal with, this one's the most ingenious, partially because 1) you caused a distraction that slowed us down, so it took us longer than normal to catch you, 2) nobody knew who you are except me, and 3) smuggling some of the gold is a strategy on your part."
"So you think I've got the makings of a master outlaw even though it is impossible to get around the laws of crime and punishment?"
"Yup," said Dakota.
Moo introduced Cogvell to the Fab 5 while escorting him to prison. After putting him behind bars, Cogvell handed the remaining gold pieces to Cowlorado and Bryce, who promptly headed for Fort Knight to take it back. (Cowlorado led the way so that Bryce wouldn't get lost.)
That night, at Miss Lily's Tumbleweed Saloon, everybody had dinner and a sarsaparilla.
Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa © Ryan Brown
The Fab 5 © me