The Escape 2010 – A Collaboration of Lancer Writers

The ScottettesCoop, Charity, Ronnie, and BeckyW

With a supporting cast of: Judi, Suz, Mary Ann, Theresa, Lacy

Word Count – 19,295

Chapter 1 By Coop

Teresa O’Brien entered the Great room and sighed. Scott was still pouring over the ledger; in the same place she had left him when she had retired for the night three hours earlier. Unable to sleep, and having not heard her ‘brothers’ soft pad on the stairs to signal that he had finally retired for the night, she had donned her robe and ventured back downstairs to check on him.

Even though Scott and Johnny Lancer were not her brothers by blood, still she loved them as fiercely as if they were. Having grown up with no siblings of her own, since Murdoch Lancer’s sons had arrived at the hacienda six months before, she had relished having two protective older brothers to look out for her. But now the roles were reversed. With Murdoch and Johnny away for the past few days, Scott had been working long hours to keep things going. He had been missing out on meals and, in Teresa’s humble opinion he needed feeding up. And so, she had prepared a late-night repast for him.

“Coffee’s brewing. It’ll be ready in a minute.”

“What time is it?”

“Well, you can consider that your breakfast,” she rebuked, jokingly as she handed him his sandwich.

“That late, huh?”

“Uh huh.”

“Alright, Alright” Scott laughed. “I’m gonna knock off in a few minutes.”

“Oh, I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of bawling you out again. I’m gonna let your father do it when he gets back tomorrow with Johnny. But I should tell you…”

“No, no,” Scott interrupted good-naturedly. “You’ve already told me. I’m working too hard.” He smiled at her winningly. 

Teresa shook her head at him, and smiled as she headed towards the stairs. That brother of hers could charm the birds out of the skies. 

“Teresa.” He called after her.  “Don’t worry about the coffee. If I still want it, I’ll get it myself. Now you go to bed. I’m gonna turn in, in a few minutes. I promise.”

Smiling to himself as she headed up the stairs, Scott picked up his ledger and the plate and made his way over to the more comfortable armchair on the other side of the room, and settled back to once more go over the figures that try as he might, he just couldn’t get to balance. 

He was suddenly aware of a strange swishing sound behind him.

Leaping to his feet he turned to look in the direction of the sound and was met with the strangest sight he had ever seen. There just inside the front door were two women dressed unlike anyone he had ever seen. One was wearing pants and a baggy v necked buttonless over shirt, of a greenish material. The pants were tucked into a pair of brown leather riding boots and her shoulder length, ash colored, hair was covered by a straw hat. The other, a strawberry blonde, was dressed in a pair of dark jeans with a pair of chaps over the top made of some shiny material that Scott could not readily identify. It was clearly those that had made the strange swishing sound he had heard.  In addition, she was adorned with a waistcoat of similar material with a bright red and white checked shirt underneath finished off with a bright red bandana tied around her neck. On her head she wore a cowboy hat that looked several sizes too big for her. In fact, she had to stand with her head held back at a 45-degree angle just to be able to see beyond the brim. Finally, she had a holster at her side that didn’t seem to be well secured; with the strangest looking weapon he had ever seen jammed into it.

Lost for words at the odd sight the duo made, Scott stared until, after what seemed an age, one of them; the one dressed in green, spoke up.  

 “Er……Hi…,”  was all she could come up with. They were the intruders but they seemed as shocked to see him as he did them.

“Who are you?” Scott demanded, trying to assure himself that this was not some bizarre dream. Perhaps Teresa had been right; maybe he had been working too hard.

“Wow…he’s even better in the flesh….,” The strawberry blonde uttered. She had the strangest accent he had ever heard. 

He watched as the one in green nudged her partner in the ribs and, getting no response from the blonde, who appeared to have lapsed into a trance like state, proceeded to retrieve something from her pocket and wafted it under her catatonic friend’s nose. “Get a hold of yourself. We’ve got a job to do remember? Here….”

The blonde recoiled suddenly, jerked out of her reverie by the powerful smelling salts. “Whoa…..Yeah, sorry….it’s just those eyes of his……Ok..Ok, I’m fine…I can do this.”

“You sure…?”  The one in green cautioned, all the while not taking her eyes off of Scott.

“Yeah…. His allure…it doesn’t affect you too?”

“I’m better at hiding it…besides, I had a sniff before we came in. C’mon.”

“Who are you ladies?” They didn’t dress like ladies but he could think of no other fitting, or polite, way to address them.    “What are you doing here…?” Scott finally found his voice, realizing that the hallucination was going on for far too long to be..well..an hallucination.   He was disturbed by what these two strange women could be doing at Lancer at this hour of the night. 

“Never mind that…. now, stick ‘em up,” the one with the strange accent suddenly asserted, reaching for her unusual looking side arm, and making a complete hash of it.

Scott noted wryly, that it took two attempts before she finally averted her gaze from him and focused on getting the weapon out of its holster, and then it needed both hands to prise it loose.  It didn’t escape his notice, either, that her colleague rolled her eyes up in disgust at her partner’s apparent ineptitude.

“I got it…I got it.” The blonde asserted, to no one in particular, as she pointed the weapon at him, both hands gripped on it, legs askew.   “Now stick ‘em up!”

 Scott just looked at her bemused, not knowing what to think. Was this one of Johnny’s bizarre pranks? Oh, he’d pay if it was….

Her colleague turned to her, exasperation written all over her face.  “Stick ‘em up.  That the best you can come up with? It’s a bit cliché don’t you think?”

“Maybe,” the blonde grinned, “but I always wanted to say that. Humour me. Well, it always seems to work in the movies.”

The one in green just shook her head, despairingly.

“Err…stick what up, may I ask…?” Despite his measured tone, Scott was beginning to lose patience. These women were clearly no threat to him but it was late, he was tired and he we wanted to know what the hell they were doing here.

“C’mon gorgeous one.” The blonde seemed to be enjoying herself now, getting into her stride “You know the score, when someone points a gun at you, you put your hands up. So c’mon, get ‘em up.” 

Folding his arms across his chest deliberately, he replied, “Well, that doesn’t look like any side arm I have ever seen…and it’s…err… pink…”

He watched as the one in green leaned in towards her partner, although he couldn’t quite catch what she said. However, she did have the good grace to look embarrassed.

“Errr…, Coop, he has a point you know.  That looks suspiciously like a water pistol to me…please tell me I’m wrong?”

“Yeah, well, have you seen how strict US customs are?” Coop complained bitterly.  “I couldn’t bring a real one….I would have been detained…indefinitely.. and subjected to nasty searches. .you know…the ones they get the rubber gloves out for.” She shuddered at the thought.  “And I thought we agreed not to use real names in front of him. We agreed to go by aliases remember? And NOT Smith and Jones…I think someone did that already…”

“Not until 1971….”

“Oh really? It was that late?”

“Yeah. Didn’t come on until after Lancer finished.”

“Well, alright, but you get my point”

“Right…yeah…sorry…aliases from now on. Got it.”

Bemused by the whispered exchanges as they still hovered by the door, Scott tried once more to engage the women who seemed strangely reluctant to come any further into the great room.  He addressed the blonde one with the unusual chaps.

“Your accent……where are you from? It’s a little…..” Hee searched for the right word. “Unusual.”

It was clearly a touchy subject. “Don’t push it gorgeous one, it’s not unusual where I come from….”

Scott could feel the color rising on his face. Gorgeous? He wasn’t used to women being so forward in their entreaties towards him and especially when holding a weapon on him. If indeed that was what it was the blonde was pointing at him. He didn’t get the impression that either of them wanted to hurt him but still, he couldn’t take any chances. He tried again to get some more information from her.  “Which is where?” he spluttered; his curiosity aroused.

“Forget it…I doubt you’ll have even heard of it….”

It was clear she didn’t want to discuss it so he decided on another tact.  “Alright. Well then, may I ask where it is you are you planning on taking me?”

 The blonde finally moved into the room and headed for the glass door that led outside to the front of the hacienda, her chaps making an odd swishing sound as she moved. She peered out of the door, giving Scott the distinct impression that she was expecting someone.  Surely there couldn’t be any more of these strange individuals lurking around?

“Somewhere safe, secure….away from danger,” She asserted, not bothering to look at him.

“What makes you think I am in danger?” Scott persisted.

“Because a couple of nasty characters from your past are gonna show up and kidnap you,” the one in green blurted out as she too stepped further into the room, but still ensuring that she had blocked off any escape route he might have thought of taking to the front door.  This outburst was met by a prickly look from her colleague.

Scott regarded her closely, but could see from her earnest expression that she sincerely believed what she was saying, as strange as it sounded.  “How do you know this?”

Her confidence clearly knocked by her colleague’s non-verbal warning, the one in green turned to the blonde seeking clarity.  “You don’t think we should tell him? It might be easier to get him to come with us?”

“Nah.”  The blonde shook her head vehemently. “The psychological trauma might be too much… You’ve seen the Truman show right?”

Scott was confused? Trauma?  Too much for what?  “What’s Truman show?”  He addressed the blonde.  Perhaps it was some kind of travelling carnival? But what did that have to do with him and what was happening now?

“Be quiet and eat your sandwich,” she snapped at him, pushing her hat off her head impatiently, revealing even more thick curly blonde hair that tumbled out all over the place. “Teresa went to a lot of trouble to make that….”

Scott looked at the uneaten contents of his plate in bemusement. ‘How did she know that?’ he mused to himself. How long had these women been watching him? It unnerved him. He watched as the one in green considered what the blonde had said and then moved over to her colleague where again, they started to speak in hushed tones so that he couldn’t hear them.

“Yeah, you’re right, Coop,” Judi whispered, “to find out he’s living his life through a TV show….and that Lancer is really just a big Hollywood backlot, well it could be very damaging to him. He might never recover….”

Coop nodded. “Alright, well, that’s agreed then.  No more slip-ups. K? C’mon, we’d better get going…that fella from MASH and the other guy who you never saw in anything else ever again will be here soon.”

Judi waited for Coop to do something but suddenly all the confidence seemed to drain from her little kiwi friend. “Err.. Ok, so what are we waiting for….?”

Coop beckoned Judi to accompany her over towards the door, a pained expression on her face.  “Well, I have a confession to make….I kinda haven’t thought much beyond this point….….” she admitted, sheepishly, as she regarded the tall blond standing by the chair he had jumped up from when they had first entered. Heck he was gorgeous……

“How d’ya mean?” enquired Judi, suddenly concerned by the doughy-eyed look that had settled on her friend’s face. Heck, they had talked about this hadn’t they? Had prepared; had gone through all the mental exercises of training their minds to think of something else when faced with the blond Adonis. But she had to admit, it was ok in theory, but those blue eyes…. that well defined jaw…the tousled way he wore his hair that just made you want to run your fingers through it…. so mesmerizing.  It was a tough mission they had embarked on, that was for sure.

Coop forced herself to look away from him. They needed to keep an eye on him; make sure he didn’t run but it was hard to think straight when those eyes bored right into you. “You stay there, you hear.” She growled at him. “We’ve got Teresa She’s out back, with some friends of ours, and if you try to run, I won’t be responsible for what they might do to her.”  The wary expression on his face gave her the confidence that he would stay put.  She turned her back to him and beckoned Judi to do the same.

“That true Coop? I didn’t know that was part of the plan?”

Coop shook her head exasperated “Course not, but he doesn’t know that. I just need a few minutes of NOT looking at him. Think things through.”

“So, what’s up?” 

“Well, South Dakota’s a heckuva long way…..once we get beyond Burbank…well. He’s gonna get a shock when he sees the modern world.”  The enormity of the task they had set themselves had hit Coop like a ton of bricks. Could Scott really cope with the modern world outside of the 1870’s bubble he had been existing in? Were they rescuing him from one bad situation just to create even more?

Judi suddenly remembered something.  “Oh wait, I almost forgot, …. here.” Fishing in her pocket she retrieved a syringe full of a pale looking liquid. “There’s enough knock out juice in here to fell a rhino…”

Coop looked at her incredulously.  “You always carry hard drugs around in your pocket?”

“Well, no, course not, but I thought we might have a bit of trouble persuading him to come along….and he’s bigger than we are…”

Coop looked back towards him, standing there, larger than life. She still wanted to pinch herself, to reassure herself it wasn’t all a bizarre dream.  But suddenly she let her overactive imagination take over and an impish grin started to spread across her face. 

“Ok then,” she agreed “So, where are we gonna stick him?”

Judi grinned back. She knew what Coop was thinking. “Butt’s the best place, he won’t know what’s hit him…by the time he does…” 

“Hmmmm….,” murmured Coop, a wistful expression on her face. “Butt …Butterfly.”

“What?” Judi looked at her enquiringly

“Sorry,” grinned Coop.  “Got sidetracked…ask Ronnie….Err… Perhaps I should do it…..? In case you don’t think you can handle it? Your hand looks a little shaky there pard?”

Judi shook her head firmly. Oh no, Coop wasn’t pulling that one on her. “Nope, I’m the clinician here; you might give him too much…or not enough…”

“And talking about being a clinician, is that why you’re still in your scrubs?’ demanded Coop. “I mean talk about inconspicuous….and with riding boots…could you stand out any MORE?”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t get time to go home from work and change first,” retorted Judi petulantly, “And at least I don’t look like Calamity Jane…Sheez Coop…where d’ya get that get up? A fancy dress store?”

“Yeah, well, there ain’t exactly an abundance of western clothing stores in NZ,” groused Coop “I had to improvise.”

“Well, that’s an understatement,” muttered Judi under her breath.

“Alright, alright, enough already” asserted Coop, looking back at the tall blond still regarding them both incredulously.     “Back to the Adonis over there…… OK. So we can drug him…we’ve established that.   What happens AFTER he’s out for the count though?  I don’t ‘spose you’ve noticed lately but you and I are kinda…. well small….we’re not gonna be able to lift him on our own.?”

“Well, that’s why we brought Suz and Ronnie along, remember?” Judi asserted.    As soon as he passes out…..we give them the signal… and they come running.” She looked pleased with herself.

“Ah,” mused Coop, “I wondered why you invited them along, I thought it was just to keep them sweet because they are the WM site mods and all.”

“Well, that too…,” Judi agreed, “But they will come in kinda useful along the way.”

“Cool,” agreed Coop. “So, what’s the signal…?”

No sooner had it arrived, the triumphant expression left Judi’s face. “Darn. Knew there was something I’d forgotten… …”

Coop shook her head disparagingly.  “Great, so there is no signal?”

“Look, I can’t remember everything,” snapped Judi. “I brought the sedative, didn’t I? Anyway, I am sure an owl sound or something will work just fine. That’s what they seem to do in the movies.”

“An owl….great…that’s original,” Coop groused, sarcastically.

“Oh quit it…. Annie Oakley,” snapped Judi.   “Look, we’d best get a move on. Where did you leave Ronnie and Suz anyway?” 

“They’re out with by the horses,’ confirmed Coop. “I told them to give a signal if Trapper John and his buddy shows up”

“Which is?” Judi regarded her ridiculously garbed blonde friend expectantly.

“Err….”

 “Oh, never mind……,” muttered Judi. This wasn’t working out to be the best planned ‘rescue’ operation that had ever been mounted.

“Look, I hate to interrupt but just WHO are you ladies…what do you want with me. And where’s Teresa? Is she alright?”  Scott had been incredibly restrained until now; his curiosity about his two would be kidnappers outweighing his concern for his own safety. But at the mention of Teresa, he was getting more than a little concerned about her welfare.

 “Oh, don’t worry, she’s fine. I think she’s off set…ouch… I mean upstairs…”   The strangely dressed blonde corrected herself courtesy of the swift kick to the shins she received from her equally strangely attired colleague. “I just said that to get you to stay put.  Now, you’re coming with us.  We are just about to save you from having a very bad day.”

Scott regarded her quizzically. “Why, what’s going to happen to me?”

“Trust us, you don’t wanna know.”  Asserted the one dressed in green.

“I’m not going anywhere until I know what’s going on. At least tell me who you are. What are your names?” he demanded.

Heck he was sexy when he got masterful.

The two women looked from one to the other, as if the one was awaiting permission from the other to respond. It was the blonde with the strange accent who spoke first.

“Oh for f.…..Alright…the name’s…err…” she seemed to deliberate for a moment, “Zee….Zee Mangram…”

Scott raised his eyebrow. It had to be an alias. No one would have such a ridiculous sounding name as that. Alright, if they didn’t want to tell him their real names, he could bide his time.

 Judi looked at her kiwi friend shaking her head in incredulity.

“Well, we agreed we had to use aliases, didn’t we?”  Coop whispered defensively.

“Yeah, but Zee?!” hissed Judi, “You can’t use that!! Couldn’t you think of anything more original?”

“Well, he put me on the spot and I didn’t hear you volunteering any names,” hissed Coop back. “And besides, that’s not until season 2 anyway…we’re only in early season 1…it won’t matter.”

Judi looked at her doubtfully but didn’t argue the point any further.

“Look, ladies, again, I hate to interrupt but….” Scott was pretty much at the end of his tolerance threshold. As curious as he was about these unusual (but strangely attractive) ladies, he needed to know what the heck was going on. Johnny would have long since run out of patience, he mused wryly to himself. He would have shot one or both of them by now.

“Oh, be quiet and eat your sandwich,” snapped Judi as she rounded on him “it’s a long way to go on an empty stomach.”

Coop regarded her friend with admiration. She hadn’t known Judi had it in her to be so forceful with the object of both of their ardent affections. It was clear from his expression that he hadn’t been expecting such an acidic response either.

The tension was broken by a strangulated sound that was part warble/part croak and which eerily permeated the still night.

“What’s that noise?” Scott had never heard anything like it in his life.  It sent chills down his spine.

Coop made her way to the glass door and opened it. In the gloom she could just make out a shadowed form frantically waving at her. She rolled her eyes up in disgust.” I think it’s supposed to be an owl.”

“See I told you,” asserted Judi triumphantly

“Doesn’t sound like any owl I ever heard.”   Scott was genuinely concerned that there might be some kind of predator out there after the livestock.

“Maybe that’s what they sound like in Minnesota,” muttered Coop under her breath.  She turned back to Judi, “Must be …err… …Minnie and Dakota….” She looked sharply at her partner as Judi tried, unsuccessfully to suppress a guffaw at the aliases she had plucked out of the air for the two others waiting outside for them. “Trapper John and the other guy must be coming…Alright Blondie, turn around”

 “Blondie?”  Scott was getting more and more bemused by the unfamiliar way these women addressed him, as if they knew him intimately. It was beginning to really disturb him. And Minnie?  Dakota? Two more people in this increasingly bizarre abduction plot?”

“C’mon, we don’t got all day,” asserted the one who called herself ‘Zee’, gesturing at him with the strange pink appendage that she had earlier taken out of her holster “Now turn around. Nice and slow…no, err..check that….quickly, we don’t have much time.”

Scott just regarded her incredulously, determined to stand his ground.  He watched as the one in green leaned in to her partner.

“Err…Coop, I mean ‘Zee’…sorry… I don’t think he is finding the water pistol threatening enough to warrant his compliance.”

Coop sighed, tiredly. This really wasn’t going how she had expected it would. Heck, didn’t he know they were trying to HELP him?  “Alright, alright,’ she grumbled “Just stick him then will ya, we gotta get going.”

Judi looked at him standing there, expectantly, his eyes wide as he noted, for the first time, the syringe in her hand, and realized what they meant to do to him. It unnerved her to see the fear in his eyes, to have to be the one to stick the needle in him when all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him and hold him tight. She looked at Coop imploringly.  “What, just like that, while he’s looking at me….with those eyes….that you could drown in.”

“Oh good grief…get a grip Judi…” sniped Coop. But looking into those iridescent eyes, that seemed to draw you right in, she, too, could feel her resolve beginning to crumble. She shook her head vigorously, calling on her last reserves of strength.  She leaned into Judi, and whispered “Alright, I’ll distract him, I’ll squirt him with the water pistol and while he is trying to protect himself, run up and stick him. ANYWHERE. Don’t look in his eyes……whatever you do….look anywhere but the eyes…be strong….remember, it’s for his own good.” She gave her friend a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder.

Judi nodded her acquiescence, empowered by her friend’s support. If Coop could be strong, then so could she.

“Alright,” breathed Coop  “On my signal……which will NOT be the sound of an Owl….stick it to him.” She lifted up her pistol, and took aim….and squeezed the trigger. 

Scott Lancer watched as the one who called herself ‘Zee’ aimed her weapon directly at him. The range was point blank, there was nowhere to hide. But he was confused. If they couldn’t take him alive by drugging him, did they really mean to kill him? But if he did allow them to drug him, to take him, what then? Where were they going to take him? Was there any guarantee they weren’t going to kill him once they reached their destination? Wherever that might be?  His sense of confusion only increased as a surprisingly high-powered jet of freezing water suddenly hit him square in the face. As he tried to put his hands up to protect his skin, he was aware of a flash of green coming towards him and felt a sharp prick in the top of his thigh, but the water kept coming and he was powerless to do anything about it.

Judi withdrew as quickly as she had moved in for the attack and returned to Coop’s side, her legs shaking, her breath coming in uneven gasps. 

Out of ‘ammunition’, Coop finally ceased firing.  “Well, now what?” she enquired, regarding the bedraggled looking blond in front of her. Heck, even with his hair plastered to his head, water dripping down his face, he still managed to look darned sexy… “How long does it take?”

As if on cue, Scott started to waiver as the drug began to course through his veins and he struggled, in vain, to maintain a desperate grip on consciousness.    His eyes rolled up in his head and he crumpled silently to the ground.

“Oh, ok…that quick…neat,”  quirked Coop. She watched as Judi headed over to check him, silently cursing that she hadn’t got there first. He suddenly looked so helpless, so vulnerable lying there prone on the ground, the blonde lashes brushing his perfect skin…. Coop was suddenly assaulted by a powerful maternal need to take care of him. She knew, then, unequivocally, that they were doing the right thing.     “Aww… doesn’t he look kinda vulnerable…like he needs taking care of…. he alright?”

Judi looked up and nodded, recognizing the doughy eyed look that Coop wore once more.  She wasn’t surprised. She had held strong for so long….but this was Scott Lancer, the most gorgeous…adorable…noble..handsome….she shook her head vigorously, desperately resisting the urge to smooth his matted bangs away from his forehead. If she did, it would be all over. The man was like a drug and the addiction so hard to resist…

“He’s fine. C’mon, snap out of it Coop. We gotta get him out of here.”

To reiterate the sense of urgency, Ronnie and Suz suddenly entered via the glass door, both looking flushed.

“Quick, Trapper John just rode up,” gasped Suz, “We’ve gotta go…now….” She suddenly caught sight of the prone form on the floor. “Aaww….bless him….. doesn’t he look gorgeous  when he’s..”

“Not now Suz,” sniped Judi, “C’mon, help me with him.”

Prompted by the urgency of the situation, Coop snapped out of her reverie, suddenly taking charge once more. “Yes, Judi’s right. C’mon gals, let’s get him outta here. Ronnie, you grab his legs, Suz, you and Judi take an arm each and I’ll… err…support him…. underneath.”  

As they lifted him, it didn’t escape Ronnie’s notice just where Coop had strategically placed her hands. “Figures,” she snorted. “How come you get all the best jobs Coop?”

“Perks of being the brains behind the operation…. Now quit bitching and grab his legs …we’ll take him through the kitchen and out the back. That where the horses are?”

Ronnie nodded as the four of them manhandled the dead weight of Scott Lancer towards the kitchen of the hacienda, musing to herself that there might just have to be a coup to overthrow the current leadership regime before this little mission was over.

As they staggered outside towards the horses, they were greeted by a middle-aged woman who was just finishing hitching up a travois to Coop’s handsome bay.

“Hey Coop, I brung it along fer ya just as y’asked.  Who’s the young fella ya got there?” she gestured to the unresponsive form they had unceremoniously deposited on the newly hitched travois.

“Thanks Cora. I owe you. He’s just…err… a friend. I’ll fill you in later. Thanks heaps. I’ll bring it back to the shack when we’re all done.”

“Well see that ya do girly, I got bears to trap. And if I don’t get me enough skins by the time Eli comes…”

“Sure thing Cora.” Coop interrupted, keen to get moving before they were discovered “Be seeing you.”

Cora took the hint and mounted her aged looking mule and headed off again.

Judi looked at Coop quizzically as she finished securing the angelic looking blond to his ‘carriage’ for the long journey ahead.

“Coop, if that was Cora, surely she knows who Scott is?”

Coop shook her head “Nope Judi, remember, Cora gets to know Scott AFTER the events of ‘The Escape.’ Now if we stop that happening, then all that changes….right now, Cora still lives  in the trappers hut in the Yosemite. You see?”

Judi looked confused. “Well, ok, but I thought in the story, she had never left Bootjack?” 

“Look, she’s my character and I can write what I like, alright – call it an alternate reality – you just stick to Laura MacNeill, and leave Cora to me, K?”  Coop groused, sulkily.

Judi tried to suppress a smirk. She had caught Coop out and they both knew it but she’d leave that one for now……but there was still one thing she wanted to know.  “How’d you know you’d need the travois though?”

“Well, lets just say I figured he wouldn’t come quietly and that we’d need to restrain him for a while, until  he realized we meant him no harm.”

“So he could be tied to that travois for the entire trip then?” sniffed Suz sarcastically as she mounted up. “I mean if you had to resort to drugging him?”

“And I suppose you would have charmed him with your feminine wiles, would you?” sniped back Judi as she adjusted her mounts cinch.

“I’d have given it a go,”  Suz grinned wolfishly. 

“And you’d have failed,” fired back Ronnie. “Ladies, please, have you forgotten the nature of our Mission? It’s to PROTECT our dear Scott from harm, including but not limited to, the unwarranted attentions of predatory females. We Scottette’s took the pledge. Or have you all forgotten that? Now c’mon, we have a long journey ahead and a great number of our group to rendezvous with. Mary Ann, Theresa and Becky are located at strategic points en route with fresh horses and supplies. Lacy is at the shack getting things ready.     Now lets not let them down with our sniping at each other. But above all, let’s not let our beautiful man down.” She looked down at his sleeping face, how the moonlight caught on those golden lashes…..the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he slumbered…….. “Oh heck Judi, you got those smelling salts?”  

************

Jed Lewis slowly took hold of the handle and turned. The door opened silently and, with his weapon drawn, he crept in. 

The satisfied grin that had spread across his face at how easy he had gained access to the hacienda suddenly disappeared as he looked towards the chair where the script said Scott Lancer should have been sitting. He frowned and after making a cursory check around the room to satisfy himself there was no one there, he headed over to the glass door.

 As if on cue, Rick Hardy appeared, looking quizzically at his partner in crime. Where the heck was Lancer? Wasn’t he supposed to be right there when he came into the room? Lewis shrugged his shoulders in resignation. He grabbed the uneaten sandwich still sitting on the plate and took a bite before gesturing to Hardy to follow him back outside. Maybe there had been yet another rewrite and they hadn’t been told? Bloody scriptwriters…He pulled the door grumpily as he exited but it banged open again.  

A few moments later, Teresa O’Brien re-entered the Great room with the coffee pot. Even though Scott had said he would see to it himself she knew him better than that. If she wanted to ensure he ate and drank, she would practically have to stand over him. However, there was no sign of him and she smiled in satisfaction at the empty plate he had left behind. Good, he had gone to bed and at least would have some food inside him. Even though it wasn’t nearly enough.  Still, she would ensure he had a good breakfast in the morning before commencing his chores.  She closed the door that had been left ajar, and finally made her way off to bed.

What trials and tribulations will befall our blond Adonis on the long trip to the secret hiding place? Will there be in-fighting in the ranks of the Scottettes?  Will this result in a bloody coup in the battle for leadership?

Chapter 2 by Charity

Along the trail, not too far behind the Scottettes, Charity was trying to catch up to them. She wanted to be a Scottette too, but was nervous about asking to join.  Charity thought if she could hang out with them and, of course be around Scott, she might be inspired to try writing some stories.

Charity was not used to riding horses, so she was hanging on for dear life, afraid of falling.  Suddenly her horse started running very fast and she couldn’t control the horse. She started screaming.  “Slow down horse” she yelled. 

Coop, Judi, Suz and Ronnie heard the commotion and turned and saw a very amusing scene. A woman with a frightened look on her face was yelling and screaming at her horse. Although they were in a hurry to meet up with the rest of the Scottettes and get to the shack,  Coop said “Maybe we should give her a hand?”  Judi replied “I don’t know, maybe she is one of those predatory females we are trying to protect Scott from.”  “Well, she looks like she’s about to fall off of her horse any minute. Obviously she hasn’t ridden a horse before” replied Ronnie.

Charity’s horse finally caught up with the group. “Whoa, whoa horse” she yelled.  Her horse came to a sudden stop and reared up and Charity lost her grip on the saddle horn and fell right next to the travois that Scott was on. She lay there, dazed for a minute, staring up at the sky. She turned her head to the left and saw Scott; she couldn’t believe she was lying next to Scott Lancer!  Judi got off her horse and walked over to Charity and knelt down beside her, to make sure she hadn’t injured herself from the fall. Judi recognized Charity from the picture she recently posted on the group site. “Charity, are you okay?” Judi asked.  Charity, still in shock at realizing she was next to Scott, just kept staring at him and didn’t reply. Suz, seeing the dreamy look in Charity’s eyes, suggested that Judi use the smelling salts. Judi got out the smelling salts and put it under Charity’s nose, that got her attention and she looked up to see Judi kneeling beside her. She looked at the rest of the ladies and saw the amused look on their faces. Judi asked again if Charity was okay. “Just got the wind knocked out of me” Charity replied and started getting up. Her entire body was sore, especially her back and behind, more so from riding the horse than the fall. She decided to lie still a little longer.

“What are you doing out here? Were you following us!?” Coop demanded. The rest of the ladies looked at Charity with suspicion, wondering if she was trying to snatch Scott from them and if there were any others around. Judi took out a syringe from her pocket ready to use if necessary. Charity noticed the look on their faces and knew she had some fast explaining to do. “Yes, I was following you” she saw Judi move and noticed the syringe in her hand, she sat up quickly her entire body protesting,“wait, hold on a minute! It’s not what you think. I just wanted to ask if I could join up with you. I won’t get in the way, I promise!” Charity looked down at Scott,” I just thought if I could spend some time with Scott” she glanced up and saw Coop narrow her eyes at her, “oh, and of course with you ladies as well, that I could be inspired to write some fan fiction, especially about Scott.”

“I don’t know, I think we have enough in our group already” Ronnie said.  “Seven too many if you ask me” Suz mumbled.  “What was that Suz? I didn’t hear you.” Coop said.  “Oh, uh just agreeing with Ronnie.”   “Please, let me join your group.  I can do chores at the shack. I’m not a very good cook but I can keep the shack nice and tidy for Scott. I mean for the group.” “We’re wasting time, we have to meet the rest of the ladies and get to the shack.  I say we bring Charity along. We can’t leave her alone out here. I want to keep an eye on her to make sure she is okay from the fall.” Judi replied. Coop agreed “You’re right we have to get a move on.  Okay Judi, you are in charge of watching her to make sure she doesn’t try any funny business.”  Ronnie and Suz finally agreed too.  Charity was excited they were bringing her along with them.  She got up and walked stiffly to her horse, holding her back.  Judi was observing her and asked if she was sure she wasn’t hurt. Charity wasn’t looking forward to getting back up on the horse and said, “I don’t know, my back is killing me ‘as well as my behind’ she thought.  Maybe there is room on the travois with Scott?”  Charity noticed the glares from the others and sheepishly replied, “Uh, maybe not. Can you help me get on my horse Judi? Oh and I know we are in a hurry, but can we not make the horses run so fast?”   Judi shook her head in amusement and helped Charity onto her horse and wondered how she even managed to get this far by herself.  Once Judy was on her horse, Coop looked back at Scott, making sure he was still asleep. “Okay, everyone ready?” Everyone nodded and started on their way to meet with the rest of the Scottettes.  Charity, still hanging on for dear life to the saddle horn trying to keep up with them.

Chapter 3 by Ronnie

A few hours later Suz abruptly halted her horse on the hillside.   “We need a wagon,” she declared.

The others stopped – well, most of them.  Charity’s horse continued up the hill until Ronnie caught up with it and grabbed the reins.  Charity’s fingers were white in the moonlight as they gripped the saddle horn.

“Oh, my butt hurts,” Charity whispered through clenched teeth, lifting her seat up from the saddle as she bent over the neck of her horse.

“Charity, I haven’t ridden a horse in years, so you’re not alone.  It’ll be worse tomorrow,” Ronnie replied.

“For some reason that doesn’t give me comfort.”  Charity patted her behind.

“Just let the horse know who’s boss,” Judi said as they joined the others.

“And how do I do that?  Tell him?  Sorry, but I don’t speak horse,” Charity snapped and rubbed her butt again.

“It’s all attitude, Charity,” Judi relayed.

“Ladies, this is not the time for a horse riding lesson.  We need a wagon,” Suz reiterated.

“Suz is right.  With this travois, it will take us too long to get to Burbank.”  Coop paused and looked a bit perplexed. “Does Burbank even exist now?”

“It’s our story.   We’ll figure it out,” Ronnie quipped, stretched her back and looked at Coop.  “Where the hell did you get that outfit Coop?  At a costume store?”

“I was in a hurry, okay, and I wanted to look authentic.”  Coop sounded very edgy.

“Oh,” Ronnie said, and dropped it.  “Nice scrubs, Judi.  You just come from work?”

“Yeah.  But they’re sliding too much on this saddle.”  Judi hitched herself back to the middle of the saddle and gazed at the figure on the travois.  “So, where do we get a wagon?”

“There’s a line shack just ahead.  Maybe there’s one there.”

“Suz, how do you know that?” Charity asked.

“Like Ronnie said, this is our story and I just wrote it in.  Come on.”

They took off following Suz and within a few minutes they were in sight of a small building that peaked now and then in the moonlight through the overhead clouds.  As they approached, a wagon could be seen on the side of the cabin.

“Nice Suz.  I see you wrote the wagon in as well,” Coop replied admiringly.

“Nope, that was just luck.”

The five ladies quickly set to work and found the tack for the wagon. 

“So, what do we do with this stuff?” Ronnie asked.  “Anyone ever hook up a horse to a wagon before?”

“How difficult can it be?” Coop asked.

“Probably not difficult at all if you know what you’re doing,” Judi stated.  Scott moaned and started moving on the travois.  All five of the Scottettes gathered around and watched him settle.

“Isn’t he just about the prettiest thing you ever saw?” Charity whispered.

“The prettiest,” Ronnie agreed, ‘just like a prince.”

“Look at those long lashes,” Coop swooned.  “Those cheekbones.”

“Yeah,” Charity concurred dreamily.

“Yeah,” Suz softly reiterated.

“Judi, I need the smelling salts,” Coop hollered.

Judi threw them to her and she took a deep whiff before passing them on to the others.

Scott was moving more on the travois, and seemed to be starting to come off of the effects of the drugs.

“Come on, gals.  He’s waking up so we’d better figure out how to get a horse into these traces,” Suz remarked.

“Wow, Suz.  I’m impressed.  You seem to know what they’re called,” Judi said.

“Oh, this is Ronnie’s chapter and she just remembered what they were called.”  Suz shrugged.  “So, let’s give this a try.”   

After several attempts to harness a horse, there was one animal that seemed to know what it was for and stood placidly in front of the wagon.   It took a while, but they figured out what went where and it looked pretty good.

“Okay, so let’s get him loaded,” Coop said.

They untied the ropes that had kept Scott on the travois and each took a limb except for Charity.  Everyone felt sorry for her because she was having a hard time walking, so they agreed that she could take the honors and hold Scott in the middle.  She grinned all the way to the wagon.

It wasn’t easy getting him up into the wagon.  None of the gals were that big, and they weren’t built to handle over 6 feet of man, even if it was split between the five of them.  Still, they managed to get him to the bed of the straw covered wagon and plopped him into it.

“We need to tie him up,” Judi announced.  “Let’s get some rope.”

“Why not just give him some more drugs?” Coop asked.

“I don’t want to if we don’t have to.  I don’t have that much left and we may need it at some point.”

“Judi’s right.  We may have to take the train out of Cross Creek to Burbank and we’ll need him quiet then,” Suz said.

“Any ideas how we’re gonna get him on the train without drawing attention?” Charity asked.  She bit at her lip absently and watched the others tie Scott up.  She had seemed rather mesmerized ever since she’d help carry Scott to the wagon.

“We’ll tell them he’s our sick brother,” Coop stated, taking her too large kerchief from around her necking and binding his hands.

All of the faces turned to her with looks on their faces as if she were crazy.

“We don’t look alike and he doesn’t look like any of us,” Judi protested.

“Do you have a better idea?”

“You know what?  We won’t have to worry about getting him on the train at Cross Creek if we don’t get going,” Ronnie pronounced.  “It’s almost dawn and Murdoch and Johnny are gonna come looking for him.”

“That’s right,” Coop agreed.  “They did in the episode.”

“We’re hours ahead of them,” Charity reasoned.

“Yes, but not miles.  It was slow going with the travois,” Suz stated.

“Great.  I didn’t figure that into the mix,” Coop said with frustration.

“We could get the Johnny gals to help us.  We’ve got several on this board.  If we tell them what’s going on, they can come and get Johnny.”  Ronnie seemed to have solved the problem and she had a smug, satisfied grin on her face.

“Oh, is that right?  Well what about Murdoch?”  Suz inquired.

“Well, they’ll just have to take Murdoch too,” Ronnie countered, dismissing the question with a wave of her hand.  “They can get other Johnny girls to help.  There are more of them than there are of us, and Murdoch has to be part of the deal.  They have to take Murdoch or no Johnny,” she stated emphatically.

“I’m not so sure they’ll agree to that?” Judi said.

“They’ll agree to it,” Suz stated.  “I don’t know how or what they’ll do with Murdoch, but that’s their story and their problem.  They’ll figure something out.”

“Okay then, let’s get going.  We have to get to Cross Creek by noon to catch the train.”  Coop’s fingers lingered over Scott’s long hand.

“How do you know when the train leaves, Coop?” Judi inquired cryptically, skepticism all over her face.  “Do you carry the train schedule for an 1870’s train leaving a fictitious town in California?”

“Because,” Coop replied confidently, “all trains leave at noon in the west.”

“What about the 3:10 to Yuma?” Charity asked.

“Well, that’s something entirely different.  It’s a movie, not a television show.”  Coop seemed to set aside the question, but her grip was slipping a bit.  Even though it had been her idea to write the story, Ronnie had come up with the idea of the kidnapping.  Suz had the foresight to write in the line shack, Judi thought ahead to bring the drugs, and somehow Charity had made it all by herself to Lancer more than one hundred years back in time on a horse she couldn’t ride.

“Ladies,” Judi stated, giving voice to what all were thinking.  “We are in this together.  Whoever is writing the next chapter will make sure we get to where we need to be.  They want Scott as much as we do.”

“You’re right, Judi,” Suz agreed.  “Becky, MaryAnn, and Theresa are waiting for us along the way with supplies and ways of transportation.    Maybe we can send Lacy a telegram and let her know where we are so she’ll know when to expect us in Custer.”

“You mean we won’t have to ride horses all the way?” Charity quickly perked, obviously elated by that fact.

“It will take too long on horses, and once we get back to our time, it’ll be too conspicuous.”  Ronnie paused in thought.  “However, horses wouldn’t seem strange when we reach South Dakota.  I think Scott will actually feel right at home.”

By this time they had started on their way, making much better time now that they no longer had to drag the travois.

“So, we’ll rest for a few months in Custer, getting Scott settled down and everything, you know, broken into the modern world.   Maybe we can even get him to Memphis just in time for the GOG,” Judi said hopefully.

“Who’s the leader here,” Coop gripped.

“No one.  It’s a scientific fact that women tend to work together to solve a problem or attain a goal whereas men appoint leaders, the others follow and all that other silly stuff.”

Coop eyed Ronnie with an arched brow.  “How do you know that?”

“I googled it.  I’m always trying to figure people out.  I’ll google it again if you want to read it.”

“We don’t have a computer, Ronnie,” Suz reminded her.  “In fact, we don’t have electricity yet.  Remember where we are?”

“Oh yeah.  I forgot.”  Ronnie looked back at Coop.  “You’ll just have to take my word for it.”

“Hmpf,” Coop snorted.  She didn’t look convinced, but Ronnie only smiled sweetly back at her.

*****

Scott felt a tickle in his nose and went to scratch it, but couldn’t move his arms.  He felt the sway of the wagon, and became aware that the irritation was a piece of straw up his nose.  He was lying on a bed of straw in the back of a wagon.  He realized that his hands were tied behind his back and his legs were tied as well.  He blew air out his nose softly to dislodge the straw, trying not to move.

He recalled that there had been two crazy women in the Great Room, but he could definitely hear more than two voices.    The voices were obviously all female, so he was being kidnapped by a bunch of women?  But why?  They didn’t seem panicky or all that dangerous; focused, that was the word he was looking for.

He listened covertly to their conversation and wondered what scientific fact confirmed that women cooperated to attain a goal.  That scared him.
 
Scott heard them say that the Johnny gals on the board could have his brother, but they’d have to take Murdoch as part of the deal.  What were these women doing on a board?  Scott wasn’t sure if that meant that Johnny’s past was somehow coming back to haunt him…again.  This time in the form of women with boards and not gunfighters out to prove they were faster than Johnny Madrid.  Scott had an uneasy feeling that the gunmen would probably be easier to deal with than these women.

What was a movie?  What did a train leaving from Yuma have to do with him?  Was the railroad even in Yuma?  The more he listened, the more confused he became.   Why did they want him in a custer?  He wasn’t sure he heard that correctly.  Custer was with the Seventh Calvary somewhere in the northern plains.  How could there be a cabin in Colonel Custer?  It just didn’t make sense.   And what the hell was a google?

One of them spoke about sharing, and the others were silent for a few moments.  A different voice said they were all in this together, united, for the yahoo group and if they didn’t stay together, they wouldn’t be able to pull this off.   He was chilled when he heard there were others in the group and wondered if the rest of them were as crazy as these ladies seemed to be.  What were they planning to do with him?  And why did they say they were a yahoo group?  Were they going to some sort of rodeo?

He slit his eyes to determine how many there were.  He recognized the curly haired blond with the accent.  Other than the fact that she had shot him with a cold stream of unrelenting water, she seemed taken with him.  Wasn’t she the one who called him gorgeous?  Indeed, very forward, but the west and its women were always surprising him. 

The one who stabbed him in the leg with the needle was sitting in the wagon driving the horses.  Granted, she was dressed in strange green clothes and pants to boot, but her face seemed one of comfort.  There was another woman sitting next to her who kept rubbing her back.  She was obviously in discomfort.  She turned her head and Scott saw her profile.  It was pleasant and refined; not one you would be in fear of.  He wondered if she were Minnie or Dakota?

It took a while before he was able to pick out two more.  There was a dark haired woman with a kind face but with a hair style he’d never seen before.  It was straight, but curled under at the ends.  In fact, the hair styles on most of them were strange.  Still, it was attractive.  The last one he spied also had dark hair, to her shoulders and curly.  She had a sweet smile and not the face of a kidnapper.

Well, one thing was for sure.  He’d have to try to get away as soon as the opportunity presented itself.  He didn’t want to hurt these women, and he’d try not to.  None of them were very big, so even if there were five, he should be able to handle them.  He’d have to keep his eye on the one with the needle, though.  She’d poked him in the leg so quickly that it seemed she’d done it before.  Well, he’d keep his eye on all of them and hope in the meantime that someone would notice five women with a man tied up in the back of a wagon.  If nothing else, he knew Johnny and Murdoch would be looking for him.

Chapter 4 by Becky

It’s important for me to tell those who don’t know me:

Mistakes in this chapter are made unconsciously (heck, I don’t even know where they are, LOL), I just don’t know better.   Consciously, together with my beta Ronnie, I decided to offer this piece without corrections.  Because:  Becky is German and this is her voice.

Normally, I would never post a story without Ronnie’s corrections.

Thank you.

Becky

.

While the group moved slowly but steadily forward, Scott’s felt himself drifting back to sleep again. He knew he should stay awake, think about freeing himself and how to warn his family. Try to listen to the plans of the ladies. But he couldn’t.  The rocking movements of the wagon and the permanent chatter of the ladies made it very strainous to stay alert. ‘Only a minute’, he thought, closing his eyes.  Just as he was about to fall asleep, the wagon came to a halt.

***

When the group rounded a corner of the street, Coop, who had taken the lead, suddenly halted her horse.

“Stop!” she whispered over her shoulder, raising her left hand while her right reached for the pink pistol. The others reined in their horses, too, at the sight in front of them.

On a boulder near the street stood a single figure, dark against the dim light of the already rising sun. Around its head was a wild mass of something, glimmering in the first sunrays. In her right hand it held a longish item.

“What’s that?”  Suz asked.

“Who’s that?”  Coop and Judi demanded.

“Oh my God,” Charity gasped, crossing herself.  An apparition…it has to be an apparition, may be an epiphany – do you see the halo…or an archangel – it has a sword ….Oh my God…“

But Ronnie wasn’t impressed one bit. Reassuringly she patted Charity on the back.

“Calm down, dear. This is not an apparition or something. It’s Becky, and it’s no halo. It’s her hair.”  She knew the halo had been damaged a couple of days ago while arguing about who would have Scott.

Ronnie waved with her hand.  “You can come down now and stop that show, Becky. We’re not falling for it.”

“And you can put that down,”  Becky motioned at Coop’s pink pistol and jumped down the rock.

Now everyone could see the apparition was human and very strangely dressed. She wore brand new Western clothes. An overly ruffled shirt, very tight pants, neatly ironed.  Boots up to the knees. And gloves, yellow gloves. There was not a hint of dust on that clothing. The long item in her hand turned out to be a rifle.  A big hat hung down her neck.

 “Ronnie’s right. I’m Becky from Germany. Don’t you know me? I know you all from the photos in the photo section of the board. Do you never have a look there? You better should have, and you ought to know who you are dealing with.” 

She stepped closer… “and ‘sides, I know this is empty.”  She pointed at the pistol.  “You have drowned our poor boy with all that water. By the way – how is he?” She bowed down and looked closely at the pale face with the still closed eyes.  “He doesn’t look too good, does he?” she asked anxiously. “Judi, perhaps you gave him too much?”  Reaching out, she touched Scott’s face, tenderly stroking bangs from his forehead.  “Poor boy…”  

Judi turned to Coop.  “What did she say about me?”  she whispered.  “I can’t understand her. She really has an awful accent.” 

But Coop stood open mouthed and for a moment, she didn’t know what to say.  This didn’t happen often.

“Becky?”  she finally managed. “We… we haven’t expected you to be here that quick.” 

“Well,”  Becky grinned self-confidently.  “I’m a force to be reckoned with.  And I knew you would need my help with him. I’m not at all satisfied with how things went thus far. You scared him, you drugged him, nearly dropped him, even tied him up …”  Her voice broke with emotion as she looked back into the wagon.

Judi frowned. “What did she say?”

“Something about we didn’t handle him carefully enough,”  Coop hissed. “What would you have done? We had to get him out quickly! We have planned our actions thoroughly and we needed him to stay calm. What else should we have done? We didn’t do him any harm. You know, Dan Cassidy is on his heels, do you?”  Coop was really agitated now.

Becky looked confused. “Could you speak slowlier, please.  I cannot understand you.”

“What – else – should – we – have – done -?”  Coop emphasized each word, rolling her eyes, unnerved. 

“Thanks, Coop,” Becky smiled politely. “You could have talked to him, convince him. You know him, he is a reasonable man,  he would listen to reasonable kind words.”

“What did she say?”  This time Judi and Charity spoke unison.

Before Coop could answer, all of a sudden Ronnie moved her horse forward.

“Stop this. It’s no use. Becky is here now and we can need her help, you all know that. Let’s get going, ladies!”

“What did you say, Ronnie? Your’e speaking too fast.  I’m sorry. I cannot understand you.”

Becky had a large question mark written all over her face.

“Suz, please! You are the boss of the board. Do something!” Ronnie demanded in a desperate voice. “We have to move on!”

“This whole thing was my idea!”  Coop bristled.  “And mine!” Judi chimed in.

“That’s right! But Suz is the boss of the yahoogroup. Don’t you forget that!”

Ronnie was about to lose her temper.  

No one could answer back to that, and all heads turned and the gazes shifted to Suz, realizing that Suz had been unnaturally quiet throughout the discussion.

The reason why was plain obvious.

Judi snorted with disgust. Suz had taken the chance while the ladies were arguing to climb into the wagon and take Judi’s monitoring place. Moonily she watched the sleeping man, touched his silky fair hair, mumbled soothing words into his ear.

Judi’s arms went to her hips. Vehemently she cleared her throat.

“Suz?!”

Suz started, her head came up.

“Huh?” The dreamful expression left her face as she looked at her companions.  “Errr … yes?”  While Ronnie’s last words settled in her mind she pulled herself together and stood.

“I’m sorry, but someone had to sit with the boy.”  She stretched her body and stood even straighter as she remembered her position in the group.

 “ Hello Becky. What do you want here?”

Realizing she stood in front of the Big Boss of the waynemaunderfans group Becky remembered her high education and good manners. Flashing her most charming smile she answered:”Good morning, Suz. I’m glad to meet you. How are you? I’m here because I want to be a member of the Scottettes. Let me help, please.”

“Coop, what….?”

“Shut up, Judi!”

Becky looked at Suz, her heart beating wildly. Would Big Suz allow her to stay?

Suz frowned.  Allowing Becky to stay meant allowing another rival to come with them. On the other hand, they needed any help they could get.

“Errrr …okay. I think we can use your help, considering the task on hand. But…”  scrutinizing Becky very closely she shook her head.  “We’ll have to buy you some new clothes.”  

Becky looked down at herself, surprised.

“What’s wrong with my clothes?” she asked, looking at Ronnie.

“They  – are –  not –  the –  style –  out –  here,” Ronnie declared mildly,  speaking very slowly in order to give Becky the chance to understand.

“Not the style?  But I thought they just were the style out here in the West! I always wanted to wear such things. I just bought them, they are new!”

“I can see that, Becky.”

“So, why…”

“Ladies, let’s talk about this later. We have to move on.”  Suz climbet back on the wagon seat and took the reins.

“Wait – I brought a Pick Up.” Becky said. “I parked it around the next corner.”

The ladies gasped with astonishment.

“A Pick Up?”  Charity asked. “But there’s no Pick Up in 1871!”

“This is my chapter, Charity,”  Becky declared. “And I thought we needed a Pick Up. We would outspeed Cassidy, and traveling with it would be more comfortable. We have to think of Scott! Of his comfort and safety. And you, Charity, think of your sore backside and all!”

No need to tell everybody that her own riding capabilities were more than sparse, Becky thought. 

Absent mindedly Charity’s hands went to the small of her back.

“Yeah… you might …”

“No, that’s not possible …”

“What are we to do with the horses?”

“… and the wagon?”

“A Pick Up is not according to the rules!”

“Are there rules? I never heard of rules before in this story ….”

“STOP IT. NOW. WILL YOU?”  

This came out of the wagon, in a very angry voice.

The ladies looked at each other, then hurried to the wagon to peer into it. 

***

Scott had been awake along the whole ordeal. He had been listening with increasing disbelief and anger. He was sore, his tied limbs hurt and he was very thirsty. His patience was running out.

These strange ladies weren’t dangerous, that was for sure. One of them had even touched him and talked to him softly. He had enjoyed that inspite of the situation he was in.

But it was obvious that they didn’t know what exactly they wanted.

Hadn’t one of them said that women tended to work together to solve a problem or attain a goal while men needed a leader?  She had sounded very arrogant while saying so.

Well.  He grinned inwardly. These women didn’t even seem to know what goal they wanted to attain.  They seemed confused and not at all organized. If it had been men kidnapping him they would have killed him right away or he would already have been at the place where ever the men would’ve wanted him to be.

They wouldn’t have talked the sense out of each other first.

Scott sighed.

Ah, they wanted to move on. Finally.

“Okay, move on, ladies. The sooner we will reach whatever goal you have in mind.”

Relieved, Scott closed his eyes.

But what was that?

Now the crazy women started arguing about a Pick Up – whatever that was – in 1871?

Instead of moving on, what they initially wanted.

He couldn’t stand it any longer.  Enough was enough.

“STOP IT. NOW. WILL YOU?”  he barked, exasperated.

Silence.

Then a rushing noise, the next he saw was six pairs of concerned eyes looking down at him.

Chapter 5 By Charity

Scott mentally kicked himself for losing his temper and letting the ladies know that he was awake. Normally he remains calm and keeps a cool head while under stressful situations.  But he could no longer stand all of the arguing.  He gets enough of that at home between Johnny and Murdoch.  He was starting to get a headache.  Scott noticed the ladies looks of concern turned into more of a dazed look.  “Ladies, would one of you mind giving me some water?” he replied hoarsely.  He looked at Coop and said “Maybe you have some water left in that strange looking pink gun of yours, Zee.”

Coop gazed down at the water pistol and shook it to see if there was any water left.  Unfortunately, she used all of the water to distract Scott at the hacienda.  “Sorry, it’s empty” she replied dreamily.

 Fortunately, Charity had brought along a canteen of water.  She retrieved the canteen from the saddle of her horse and slowly got into the back of the wagon with Scott.  Charity opened the canteen and shakily brought it up to Scott’s lips for him to take a drink.  Her hands were shaking so badly, some of the water spilled down Scott’s chin.  Charity took the bandana she had around her neck and gently wiped the water away.  “Thank you” Scott gratefully replied.  His thirst was quenched but his limbs were aching from being tied up.  He noticed Charity staring dreamily into his eyes.  In fact, all the ladies were staring at him dreamily.  Scott decided to use this to his advantage.  Softly he said “Sorry ma’am, I didn’t catch your name.”  He wondered if she was Dakota or Minnie.  “Uh it’s it’s uh….Charity” she finally got out.  Moving his face closer to hers, he said “What a lovely name.  Well, Charity, I would be a little more comfortable if my arms and legs weren’t tied.  They are aching very badly.”  Charity was under Scott’s spell.  She kissed him tenderly on the lips and then started untying his arms.

Judi came to her senses and realized what Charity was doing.  She shouted “Stop her! She’s untying Scott!”  The other ladies came out of their daze and Coop and Ronnie jumped into the wagon and dragged Charity away from Scott.  Judi got the smelling salts out and put it under Charity’s nose.  Becky and Suz was in the wagon to make sure that Scott’s arms were still secure.  Satisfied that Charity was out from under Scott’s spell, Coop and Ronnie let her go.

  “Sorry, I was just trying to make him a little more comfortable” she sheepishly replied.

  “Oh yeah, by kissing him?! And you gave him your real name. You’re supposed to use an alias! ” Coop said angrily.  Charity just blushed and shrugged her shoulders.

   “Well, we obviously can’t leave Charity alone with him. In fact, maybe no one should be left alone with him. He can use our weakness for him to his advantage.” Ronnie replied.

The ladies turned to look at Scott.  He just grinned and said “You can’t blame me for trying, can you?  Ladies, please tell me what you want with me.  Where are you taking me? Are we going to some rodeo?”  He noticed their puzzled expressions when asking about the rodeo. “I thought I heard someone mention a Yahoo Group.” The Scottettes looked at one another and burst out laughing.

“Okay, I guess it has nothing to do with a rodeo. I do not find this very amusing at all! I’m hot and tired and very uncomfortable being tied up like this.  If you ladies would just work together, like you claim women are good at to solve a problem; and make up your minds and decide on how we’re going to get to where you want to go, the sooner we can get there!  We are apparently trying to stay ahead of somebody named Cassidy.  What is this Pick Up that can get us there faster than a wagon?”

The ladies stopped laughing.  They didn’t want to make Scott any angrier than he already was.

“Just how long have you been awake?”  Suz asked, wondering how much of their conversation he heard.

“Now calm down Scott.  We are only trying to protect you.” Becky said in a soothing voice.

“Protect me from what?  If I need protecting from anyone it’s you crazy ladies!” He then motions, with his head, to Coop and Judi’s direction and says,  “Those two come into to my home and the one with the pink gun, Zee I think she said her name was, starts shooting me with water and the other one with the strange looking green clothes stabs me with a syringe full of drugs.  I wake up tied in the back of a wagon….”  Scott just kept rambling on.  He was beyond calming down.  He didn’t notice that Judi had gotten the syringe out again.   She very slowly and casually walks over to the wagon and jabs him on the arm with the needle.

“Ouch!!  Gee, lady not again!” Scott yelled.  He was mad at himself for not remembering to watch out for Judi and her syringe.  Though there was no way he could have avoided it, since he was tied up and had no chance to get away from her.

“Sorry, Scott.  It’s for your own good.  You need to calm down.  We also are wasting time, we need to move on.”  Judi replied.

It didn’t take long for the drug to take effect.  As Scott was drifting off to sleep again, he was mumbling about ladies with pink guns at a rodeo, shooting at George Custer.

“Oh, Judi did you have to drug him again?  If you gave me a few more minutes, I would have calmed him down.” Becky sadly replied.

“Yeah, I could see you were doing such a good job. You just got him even more riled up.”  Coop smirked.

“Now that he’s sleeping again, can’t we try to make him more comfortable?   Maybe tie his arms in the front.  It would help take some of the pressure off of his shoulders and maybe he will be less grumpy when he wakes up.” Charity meekly asked.  She knew that they were probably still upset with her for almost untying him earlier.  She brought her hand up to her lips, remembering the kiss she gave him, and sighed.  She still had the bandana she used to wipe his chin with, in her other hand, vowing to never wash it again and not to lose it.

“Well, I guess that would make him more comfortable than kissing him would,” Coop said sarcastically.

“Now hold on Coop.  Charity couldn’t help herself.  She just stared into those eyes of his and got taken in by his charm. Heck, we all did. We were just fortunate enough that Judi came to her senses first, and shouted to let us know what Charity was doing.  Otherwise he may have gotten away.” Ronnie said in Charity’s defense.

“Thanks Ronnie.  I really am sorry about that.  I promise to stay away from him, unless someone is with me.  I can’t promise that I won’t fall under his spell again. Maybe you better let me carry some of those smelling salts, Judi.”

“Okay, ladies let’s get going.  Are we going to take the pick-up or not?” Suz asked in frustration.

“I say we stick with the wagon, since we are still in 1871.” Coop said.

“I say we would get back to our time faster, if we took the pickup” Becky argued.

“I don’t care which we take, as long as I don’t have to ride on a horse” chimed in Charity, rubbing her backside.

“Why don’t we go take a look at the pick up and see how big it is and then we can decide” suggested Ronnie.

“That’s a good idea, Ronnie.  Also Charity’s right. Let’s tie Scott’s arms in the front to make him more comfortable.” Judi replied. 

Charity started to get into the back of the wagon to do just that, when she was pulled back by Coop.

“I don’t think so Charity.  I’ll do it. I still don’t trust you yet.  Judi remember, we agreed that you would keep an eye on her, when we let her come along with us.” Coop stated as she got into the wagon and tied Scott’s hands to the front.

“Okay Coop, I will. Hurry up will you.  We got to go now!  Charity, get up front with me and behave yourself. And no looking back at him in case he wakes up.  You are just too weak to resist his charms once you look into his eyes.” Judi admonished.

Once everyone was settled, they started on their way to where Becky had the pickup. Everyone thinking that they may have to take the pick up because of all the time that was wasted, arguing.

.

Will the Scottettes ever make it to their destination?  What other distractions will delay them? Does Judi have enough drugs left?  Find out in the next exciting chapter of The Escape 2010.


Chapter 6 by Ronnie

The going was slow.  The bickering had settled down to almost nothing.  Charity, appearing dazed from her experience with Scott, would peek at him once in a while.  A poke in the ribs from Judi and she’d turn quickly to the view ahead.

Coop’s water gun slapped in slow rhythm against the saddle to the step of the horse.  The neon pink, so 2010, looked garish and almost insulting to the unspoiled land they were traveling in.  Becky’s halo burned brighter now that the sun was highlighting it.  In fact, she looked angelic, and certainly not kidnapper material.  Suz was quiet but seemed focused on the hills in front of her.  Once in a while she’d gaze at Becky riding beside her, almost appear to say something, but then turn away.  Ronnie lagged behind the wagon watching the small parade plod along.  Scott’s head lolled to the side, showing his fine profile, sharp and sculpted.  She smiled as he moved.

The atmosphere had changed, however, and even the horses seemed to pick up on the disheartened spirit.  Their tails flipped lazy circles at the flies, but didn’t put much effort into it.  Once in a while they’d lower their heads to snip some wet grass.  Coop’s horse lurched suddenly to munch, and it almost sent her over the head of the animal, but she caught herself.  She scolded the horse without much heart, and held the reins tighter.  But it wasn’t long before they were drooping along the strong neck.

Becky was the one who stopped and glanced back at the others; they all came to a halt as if on signal.  She didn’t say anything, just looked from one lady to the next and then at the figure in the wagon. 

“How close are we to the pickup?” Judi asked, but seemed more to be making conversation than really caring how close they were.

Becky shrugged, looked around, and pointed to the east.  “Just a bit that way.”  She said it slowly so her accent was easier to understand.

A light groan from the wagon caused them all to gather round it.  He was unconscious yet and very still.

“The movement of the wagon stopped.  Maybe, somehow, he felt it and moaned,” Judi explained, or tried to.  It seemed to satisfy the others and the concern on their faces faded.  But, they didn’t move.  Several minutes later, they were still in the same place, watching him, not looking at one another.

The horses were tired; they’d been ridden most of the night, and nibbled while they had a chance.  A small flying bug got too close to a sensitive nostril and the horse snorted and shook its head; then went back to grazing.  A couple of the animals rested with a back leg bent at the ankle, their eyes sleepy, and heads low.

Charity got down from the wagon, rubbing her butt as she walked to the wagon’s side.  Judi opened her mouth to say something, but there was nothing voiced.  She looked at Coop and hitched her shoulders as if to say it didn’t matter.  No one said anything when Charity reached out and swept bangs back from his forehead.  She blotted some sweat with her bandana and then put it in her pocket.

Ronnie cleared her throat, looked down at Scott and said, “We have to take him back.”

Coop looked sharply at her like she was crazy, but her reply didn’t have much energy behind it.  “What do you mean, we have to take him back?”

“She’s right,” Suz interrupted.  “Without Scott Lancer, there is no Lancer.”

“But this is just a story.  It isn’t real.  It’s more like a dream. … He is, isn’t he?  A dream, I mean,” Charity whispered.

“Yeah, Charity, he is a dream.  And a prince with a noble heart.  But he’s not ours.  We have to take him back,” Judi agreed and leaned down to bat a fly away from his face.

“What about Cassidy?” Charity asked.

“Scott was good in that episode.  We found out what kind of person he really was; forgiving, enduring, determined, compassionate.”  Suz scanned the faces of her partners.  “He proved Cassidy wrong and he can do it again.”

“I guess you’re all right.  Besides, Johnny and Murdoch will miss him and he has a lot more episodes to star in.”  Coop’s smile was sparkling when she added, “But it was fun, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was fun.”  Judi grinned at her friend and winked.   “So, do we just drop the story here?” she asked, her manner perkier than before, as if returning something stolen was alleviating her conscience.

Everyone seemed to think on that.  It was Becky who suggested that they write taking him back.  “It won’t take that long.  Now that we know we can’t keep him, there won’t be any fighting or jealousy over who sits with him.”

“We weren’t fighting!”  Judi chewed on her lip with that statement and reddened.  “Well, not very much anyway.”

“Yes, we were and we should be ashamed of ourselves.  He’s just one man.”

“Yeah, Suz.  But what a man.”  It seemed Charity was hopelessly ensnared as long as Scott was present.

“We need to break his hold on her anyway,” Judi stated, eyeing the smitten woman with more than a little concern.

“He’s got a hold on all of us.  Admit it,” Coop snorted.  “But, we might as well head back.”

The ladies reversed direction and road towards the hacienda.  The Lancer horse perked up, sensing the path towards home.  The other horses picked up on its energy and stepped higher.

“You know, I feel bad injecting him with those drugs.  Do you think he’ll hate me?”

“I don’t think so, Judi,” Suz replied.  “Look how quickly he forgave Cassidy, and he wanted to kill Scott.”

“Yes, but Cassidy and Scott were like brothers before.  They had a history.”

“You and Scott have a history.  You’re writing him with a beautiful wife, probably going to give him some great kids; he’ll be grateful to you.  And you didn’t try to kill him!”  Again, Suz was being reasonable; something the ladies really needed now as they contemplated giving up their treasure.

“No, but I did poke him a couple of times,” Judi muttered.  Then she straightened her shoulders and nodded.  “But you’re right.  He is a very forgiving man.  Thanks Suz,” and clicked to the horse for a faster pace.

“That’s a good point.  We’ve all written him with happy endings to our stories,” Becky remarked.

“Yup, but probably not good some of the things we’ve done to the poor man along the way,” Suz added.

Charity giggled.  “Yes, especially the exposed butterfly.”

“But it was so much fun to write.  You’ve no idea how I envisioned that bug on his perfect bottom,” Ronnie chuckled.

“Me too,” Coop said gleefully.  “Ah, I don’t suppose we could check and see if it’s really there.”

“Coop!”   Judi objected, but then added, “Can we?”

“We shouldn’t.”  Becky looked at the others, a quiver playing across her mouth.  “Should we?”

“No.  It just wouldn’t be right,” Suz put in.  “But then, how would he know?”

“Well, I’m a nurse and it would be more professional if I checked,” Judi stated.

“Pft, like hell it would!  You’d just ogle him like every other warm blooded woman.”  Ronnie was obviously having none of the nurse business.   “Besides, it was my story so I should be the one checking.”

“Oh, and are you going to do the unveiling?” Suz inquired innocently.

Ronnie actually blushed and blustered, “I can….if I push myself.”

“You can’t!”

“How do you know Suz?  You don’t know me that well.”

“I know that no one here could do it, including you.”  Suz scrutinized Ronnie.  “Could you?”

“Humph, well, no.”  Ronnie seemed to puzzle over something and exclaimed, “Maybe we can ask him to show us!”

“Yeah, right.  He’s going to show six strange women his behind because you happened to write a fic that had a birthmark on his tush!”  Coop scoffed at the idea.  “And never mind that we’ve drugged and kidnapped him.”

“Coop, didn’t you write him with that lady, what’s her name, Cora, taking his clothes off?  Maybe we can ask her if he’s got a butterfly birthmark.”  Charity clearly thought it a great idea.

“Ladies, you seem to forget that none of those stories are real.  They’re just figments of our imagination.”

“That could be, Suz.  But we’re here aren’t we?  Besides, you’ve written him with Jelly betraying him, so a butterfly is much more…” Becky was looking for the right word.  “Pretty.  Yes, pleasant and pretty,” and she smiled as if picturing the ‘cute little smudge’ as Mrs. Jenkins had put it.

“I’m not done with the story.  You don’t know for sure Jelly’s motives,” Suz defended.

“You know, I love that story Acceptance, Suz.  I’ve read it several times and really like how Murdoch seems to take control.”

“Thanks, Judi,” Suz brightened.  “I think Murdoch is a good father, although many write him a tad on the overbearing side.”

“I agree.  The way Becky wrote him watching Scott sleep and the thoughts going through his mind…very well done.  I think he’s a pussycat when it comes to his children.”  They all nodded their heads, concurring with Judi’s statement.

“Speaking of Murdoch, I hope we don’t run into him when we take Scott back.  He’s one man I wouldn’t like to see angry.”

Coop’s remark silenced the conversation as the others contemplated the possibility of facing Murdoch.  Johnny may be angry, but he was a push over if they shed a few tears and said they were sorry.  Murdoch was another matter entirely.

“They hang horse thieves, don’t they?”  A tremulous Charity asked.

The others glanced her way, their faces wondering.

“Why do you ask that?”  Becky questioned.

“Cuz, the horse I was riding is a Lancer horse.  I took it from a pasture close to the house.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, Charity.  I think kidnapping is more of a problem than stealing a horse.”  Ronnie tried to instill comfort, but the idea of getting caught and facing kidnapping charges was a definite possibility.

“Good point. … So, how are we going to get him back to the ranch without anyone seeing us?” Coop asked.

“No one saw the Strykers and they came in broad daylight.  In Splinter Group no one saw Scott until he was at the house and I’m sure everyone heard he was missing.  In Buscadaroes they just waltzed in.  And look at what started this whole thing…Escape.  Both Trapper John and that short little guy strolled into the house and no one noticed,” Charity explained, seeming to come out of her haze.

“But it was at night with Trapper John.   And you got something against short?” Coop huffed.

“No, Coop.  It was the only way I could describe him.  Anyone else remember his name?” Charity asked.

“Okay,” Coop calmed.  “I guess I’m just a bit touchy on the short comment.  Sorry.”

“I would bet you were taller than that guy,” Judi chuckled softly.

“Napoleon was short.  Short people can do great things.”  It was plain that Coop was trying to defend short.

“Napoleon died disgraced, on an island, alone.  However, he did have a complex named after him.  But, I wouldn’t hold him up as a good example for short, honey.”  Judi smiled at Coop.

“Talking about dying, how are we going to get him back to the ranch without being seen?” Coop asked once more.

“Maybe one of us should ride on ahead and check it out.  See who is around.  In the episode, most of the men were out searching for Scott so there may not be many there,” Becky suggested.

“Good idea.  Who’s going?”  Suz scanned the group.

“I would, Suz, but I have no sense of direction unless the sun is rising or setting, and then I have to think about it.  Sorry,” Ronnie apologized.

“How do you find your way around South Dakota?  It’s flat country.” Suz asked.

“I have a map, or I take someone with me, or I get lost.  I usually don’t wander down unknown paths.”

“You’ve wandered clear to California!” Charity exclaimed.

“Yes, but Minnesoooooooota-Suz  here lead the way.”  Ronnie tilted her head Suz’s way.  “Besides, with fan fic, I can do anything and be anybody I want to be. … You know,” Ronnie continued wistfully.  “I always wanted to be a cowboy…not a cowgirl.  Cowgirls never had any fun, were always needing to be rescued, never being the hero.”

“It’s heroine!” Becky interrupted.

“Huh?”

“Heroine, Ronnie.  Feminine for hero is heroine.  And this isn’t even my language!”

Ronnie looked at her like it was all beside the point.  “I was going to say something really wise, and now I forget what it was.  Thanks Becky.”

“I do that all the time,” Judy said.  “I think it’s age.”

“Thanks for that too, Judi.”  Ronnie smiled broadly.  “But I’m still young enough to enjoy a nice looking tush.”

“You always get back to his tush,” Coop stated.

“Yeah, and you don’t?  Come on ladies, you can’t tell me when you’re looking at the DVD’s, whether it’s Custer or Lancer or Chase that your eyes don’t stray to that part of his anatomy,” Ronnie quipped.

“My word, you’re right.  And the 7 Minutes.  Ohh, it makes me shiver just thinking about some of those scenes.”  Charity was almost swooning again.

“Easy, girl.  You need the smelling salts?”  Judi dug in her pocket for the salts.

“No, no, I’m fine.”

“Okay, so Suz, you’re going to see what’s going on ‘back at the ranch’.”  Coop snickered.  “I’ve always wanted to say that line.”  She collected herself.  “What about we give Lacy a call, ask her to pick up the truck and meet us a mile or two from the hacienda.  That way we can shorten the riding time, let the horses go, and get back home.”

“Great idea, Coop.  Only one problem.  There are no satellites for cell phones yet.”  Becky gestured at the surrounding hills.

“Oh … well, I don’t suppose a smoke signal would work.”

“No, Coop.  Unless you speak smoke signal, and Lacy can understand it.  Of course, we’re close enough that Murdoch Lancer would probably see it,” Becky reasoned.

“You know what girls, this is our story and if we want to use a cell phone, let’s do it.  Now I’m going to try to find out what’s going on at the ranch and one of you call Lacy.  Okay?”  With that, Suz galloped off in the direction of the ranch house.

Charity took her cell phone out of her pocket.  “Anyone have Lacy’s number?”

“Yes, it’s _______________,” Ronnie supplied.

Wide eyed, Charity  dialed.  “It’s ringing,” she lilted.

“Hey, Lacy.  Can you pick up the truck and meet us one mile due…” She looked at the others.  “Due north, right?”

They all nodded.

“Meet us one mile due north of the Lancer hacienda.”

There was silence as Charity listened to the telephone.

“Yes, we have him but we’re taking him back.”

Again, silence.

“It’s a long story, Lacy.  We’ll fill you in.  And if we’re not hung for stealing horses or kidnapping, we should be there in a couple hours.  Okay.”

Charity rolled her eyes as she listened to Lacy.

“I know, Lacy.  I know.”  Charity giggled.  “But guess what, I got to kiss him.”

“Cut the call, Charity,” Judi stated curtly.  “We need to get going and you’d best not bring up that kissing thing on the board or you’ll have a hundred females at your door… and let me add, a hundred jealous females.”

That seemed to bring Charity back to reality and she said, “Got to go. Bye,” and hung up.

“Lacy said she’ll be there, but wanted to know what the heck was going on.”

“We’ll talk to her later.”  Judi steered the horses to a copse of trees just off the road.  “This is a good enough hiding place to wait for Suz.  We shouldn’t be more than a couple miles from the hacienda.”

They all dismounted and stood around the wagon bed.  It seemed as if they were trying to take as much of the man in as they could before they returned him.

“He sure is pretty, isn’t he?” Coop admired.

Affirmative nods followed.  “Nice too, I bet.  I mean, he could have called us all sorts of names when he was awake, but he didn’t,” Becky said.

“But he should apologize.”

They stared at Ronnie, expressions of disbelief on their faces.

“You’ve been in the sun too long, girl.”

“No, Becky.  I mean it.  He didn’t have to shout at us.  I mean, we were only trying to protect him.”

“We’ve stolen the man, Ronnie!  And I think our intent was more than protection, don’t you?”  Becky seemed to have the gift of cutting through the malarkey.

“Yeah,” Ronnie admitted, with a naughty smile on her face.  “Can’t say my intentions were totally honorable.”

“But it would have been fun doing the intending,” Coop said, her grin just as impish as Ronnie’s.

They passed the time contemplating and after a few snickers, snorts and laughter, Suz could be heard galloping back.  Charity stepped out from the trees and waved her down.

“Okay,” Suz said breathlessly when she joined them.  “I just saw a bunch of men riding away towards the south.  I couldn’t tell who was with them, but in the show both Johnny and Murdoch took off.  There’s a grove of trees just to the east of the barn, so if we angle across this meadow, I think there’s a path that will take us to those trees.  We can sneak into the barn and leave him in the wagon, and not take the time to unhitch the horse.  Then we hightail it out of there.  How does that sound?”

“But we’ll be short one horse,” Coop pointed out.

“Charity can ride double with you.  The horse can carry your weights easily.   You’re not that heavy and it’s a good, strong mount.”

“Since when did you get to be a horse expert?” Charity asked.

“Since I started writing fan fic.  So, how about it?  Is it a plan?”  Suz waited for an answer.

“Sounds good to me,” Ronnie said.

“Me too,” Judi agreed.

“Okay, well let’s do it,” Becky said and they mounted up.

Picking up the path to the trees was easy and it wasn’t long before they found themselves in the cool shade of the shelter belt.  They hadn’t seen anyone around at all, and everything was going smoothly.  They were just to the point of coming out of the trees.  The barn was between them and the hacienda, so no one would be able to see them.  Then Scott started moving and made waking up noises.  They froze.

“Is he coming to?  The drug lasted longer before.”

“I didn’t give him as much the second time, Suz.  I thought we’d be at the truck in no time, so there wouldn’t be an issue of keeping him quiet.”  Judi stared at Scott.  “I suppose someone should crawl into the wagon with him and try to keep him still.”

“I will!” Charity volunteered.

“No,” was hissed from five different lips.

“Let’s draw straws,” Becky recommended.

Five straws were selected, four the same length, and one much shorter than the others.  It was decided that Charity would hold them as she wasn’t going to win or lose.  So, one by one the ladies selected their straw.  Disappointment for four; elation for one.  With a triumphant smile on her lips, Becky settled into the soft comfort of the hay next to Scott.

“Oh, don’t be mad now.  After all, I learned a new language for this.”

“You did not!” Coop exclaimed.  “You were writing fan fic in English before we started this story.

“No matter.”  She smiled down at Scott.  “By the way, Ronnie, exactly where was that butterfly.”

“You keep your hands off his butterfly,” they all stressed…in varying degrees of tone and verbage.  But that was the most printable one.

With Becky planted as close to Scott as she could possibly get, they started on their way to the barn.  The barn luckily had huge doors on each end.  Suz and Ronnie managed to slowly push it open without too much noise and Judi gently slapped the traces against the horse’s back.  It went in quietly and the large door was closed.

“Okay, gals.  One last look and let’s get out of here,” Coop ordered.

Becky kissed Scott on the forehead before she boosted herself out of the wagon.  Slate blue eyes groggily opened up, and it seemed he was trying to focus.

“Bye, Scott.  We love you,” Suz said softly.  “Oh, and don’t trust your grandfather,” she sternly warned.

“And don’t trust Julie, either.  She’s no good for you,” Charity advised.

“Yes, and there’s a funny little boy that you’ll have to watch out for.  His uncle anyway, so beware,” Ronnie stressed.

Becky threw in a forewarning of Drago and what he would try to do.  “But especially Chapel.  Oh yes, he is an evil man.”

“Oh, Chapel,” Judi repeated.  “He’s what you would call…”  She looked puzzled and asked, “What would he be called in 1870’s California?”

“Zee…don’t trust Zee.  She’ll just get you in trouble,” Coop informed, pushing the Chapel question out of the way.

“I thought you were Zee,” he fumbled, obviously trying to figure out where he was and what was happening.  He tried to sit up, but was struggling as the bindings didn’t allow him much movement.

“What are you doing to my son!”

The voice boomed across the barn and the six women jumped.  The largest man they had ever seen was approaching them with long strides and an angry face.  The gun in his hand seemed even larger.  Following him was a dark haired young man with the bluest eyes ever.  Murdoch Lancer came to a halt, looming down at them, as he watched his son labor against the ropes.

“Johnny, untie him,” he ordered.

The ladies stepped away from the wagon as Johnny approached and untied his brother.  He caught Scott’s arms and tried to help him stand up, but his legs buckled.  Scott held onto the side of the wagon and Johnny held on to Scott.

“Murdoch,” Scott said, his voice sounding scratchy, “put the gun away.  You’re scaring them.”

“Honey, he don’t need no gun to scare us,” Judi said, creaking her neck to look up at the mountain of the man in front of her.

Murdoch holstered the gun and went to help his son.  “Scott, what is going on?  Are you okay?  You seem drugged?”

“It’s a long story, Murdoch.  And I’m not sure myself.  Can we go into the house and try to sort it out.”

“Johnny, I’ll help Scott.  You make sure these women come along.”  With that, Murdoch wrapped a long arm around Scott and headed for the house, carrying the bulk of Scott’s weight.

Johnny watched for a few moments before turning back to the women.  “Ladies,” he drawled, “you ain’t gonna give me any trouble, are you?” and motioned them towards the house.

They looked at each other, and then at Johnny.  Well, he was good looking.  Not as handsome as Scott, but darn if he didn’t come close.  Even if they were a bit older, they weren’t dead and a good looking man was a good looking man.

Johnny seemed to pick up on their admiring glances and grinned.  “Ladies, please, to the house.”

Well, how could they ignore such a gracious request, especially with Murdoch no longer on their minds.  Becky was the first to start for the hacienda, and soon the others were following, occasionally taking a glimpse at a smiling Johnny as he brought up the rear.

The Great Room was cool when they entered and Scott was seated in a large, comfortable chair with a glass of water in his hand.  He seemed none the worse for the drugging, and other than seeming a little confused, he was alert.  He watched closely as the six women filed past and sat on the couch and loveseat that his father directed them to.

“Okay, start talking,” Murdoch demanded when they were all seated.

They stared at one another.  They really hadn’t expected to get caught and how could they explain this wild story?

“Who is the leader of this…gang, and what did you do to my son?”  Murdoch was obviously very testy.

“We have no leader,” Charity ventured, soft voiced.

“Well, I guess you’d better appoint a spokesman, and quick.”

“Person,” Ronnie stated.

“What?” Murdoch snapped his eyes to her.

“Spokesperson.   Spokesman is sexist.”  She tilted her chin a bit, but he could sure be intimidating just by being in the room.  He took a step towards her and she inched back into the cushion of the loveseat.

“Sexist!  What is that supposed to mean?  And how dare you swear in my house.”

“Ronnie, he doesn’t understand,” Suz stated matter-of-factly, but wilted a bit when Murdoch looked her way.

He scuffed a hand across his jaw and studied each woman.  “What are you wearing?” he directed at Judi.  “And what kind of costumes do you two have,” he pointed to Coop and Becky.

“I’m a nurse.  They’re scrubs,” Judi answered.  She didn’t seem ready to explain the wardrobe choices of Coop and Becky.

“I’ve never seen a nurse in clothes like that.  And scrubs!  What do you scrub?”

“Sometimes people.  But scrubs is just a term for nurses clothing.  It doesn’t really mean that you scrub…anything.”  Judi’s voice faded towards the end, especially when those light blue eyes iced over.

“Then why do you call them scrubs?” he demanded.  “And what the hell is going on with you and my son?”  Murdoch threw up his hands, obviously very frustrated.

“We didn’t mean him any harm,” Becky said.  “We were trying to protect him.”

“What kind of accent is that?  Are you German?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You came from Germany to protect my son?”

“Yes, sir.”

“From what?”

“Cassidy, sir.”

“Who is Cassidy?”

“He’s a man I served in the cavalry with, Murdoch.  But I haven’t seen him in over five years and I’m not sure how these women know him.  That one,” Scott pointed to Coop, “she called herself Zee and said the same thing; that they needed to protect me from Cassidy.  Then there was a Minnie and a Dakota, but I’m not sure who they are.  This lady, her name is Charity.  The woman who came in with Zee and kidnapped me, her name is Judi and she’s next to Charity.  But I don’t know what the name of the woman from Germany is.  I don’t know the name of the lady who called you sex…, well, who called you that word, nor do I know this woman’s name.”  He pointed to Suz.  “I’m assuming someone is Minnie and Dakota.”  Scott took another drink of water after the long speech.

Murdoch took a deep breath and headed for the liquor cabinet.  Six pairs of eyes followed him; what they wouldn’t give to have a drink right now.  But, they thought it best not to ask.  Splashing a large amount of liquor into a glass, he walked over to Scott and perched on the arm of the large chair.

“All right.  We’ll start with names.  You go first.”  He pointed to Coop.

“My name is Coop.”

“I thought your name was Zee.”

“Sorry, Scott.  It was an alias.”

“Where are you from?”

“New Zealand, sir.”

“That’s across the Pacific Ocean!”

“Yes, sir.”

Murdoch glanced back at Scott.  “You’ve never met any of these people before?”

“No Murdoch.  I have not.”

“Then how come women from across the world think they need to protect you from this Cassidy person?  And how do they know him?”

“I have no idea.  I’ve never seen any of these women before last night.”

“Wow, Scott.  Maybe your reputation with the ladies went further than Boston.”  It was obvious that Johnny was finding all of this amusing.

Murdoch didn’t.  “John, this is serious business.  Your brother was kidnapped.”

“Yeah, Murdoch, I know.  I spent most of the morning looking for him.”  Johnny’s grin waivered slightly, but didn’t fade entirely.

With a quirk of disapproval aimed at his youngest, he turned back to Coop.  “What kind of name is Coop for a woman?”

“Actually, it’s Helen, but my friends call me Coop.”

“And what should I call you.  I can’t say I’m in the friend category.”

“It would probably be easier to just call me Coop…sir.”

Murdoch cleared his throat and pointed at the next in line.  “Name!”

“Suz.”

“What?”

“Suz, short for Sue.”

“How can Suz be any shorter than Sue?”

“Because there are so many Sue’s on the board, I thought Suz would be less confusing.”

“Why would there be Sues on a board?”

“Murdoch, I heard them talk about women on boards.  They called them Johnny gals.  I thought maybe some women with boards were going to come after Johnny.”

“I don’t have females with boards after me.  What the hell you talking about Scott?” a perplexed Johnny asked.

Murdoch glared back at Suz. 

“It’s complicated,” she stated and said no more.

He took another large gulp of liquor and turned to the next woman.  “And you are Charity?”

Charity nodded.

“The scrubber is next.  Judi?”

“Yes.”

Sitting on a smaller loveseat next to the couch were the two remaining women.

“My name is Ronnie.”

Murdoch took another drink.  “Ronnie is a man’s name.”

“It’s short for Ronnette.”

“Ronnette is pretty.  Why would you want to go by a man’s name?”

“There’s nothing wrong with my name.  It’s what my mother called me.”

“It’s not any worse than Murdoch,” the lady with the German accent piped in, coming to her friend’s aid.

Johnny snickered at the comment and bowed his head.

Ignoring his son, he stepped in front of the blond haired woman.  “And how do you know my first name?”

“You’re well known in these parts.”

“But you’re not from these parts.  You’re from across the Atlantic.”

Becky didn’t say anything and scooted a bit closer to Ronnie.

“Well, since you know my first name, may I have yours?” Murdoch asked sarcastically.

“It’s Becky.”

“Good.  Introductions are out of the way.”

“But where is Minnie and Dakota?” Scott asked.

“Well, they are aliases I made up,” Coop said, appearing embarrassed.  “Minnie is actually Suz and Ronnie is Dakota cuz she’s from South Dakota.”

“There is no South Dakota.”

“Well, not yet Scott.”

“Good grief, who are you people?” Murdoch exclaimed.  He appeared to attempt to compose himself.  “No matter.  Now that all of the politeness is out of the way, what were you doing to my son?”  The vein in Murdoch’s temple was pulsing.

“Ah, Mr. Lancer, you may want to calm down a bit.  Being so angry is not good for your blood pressure.”

“I would love to calm down, Nurse Judi, but I came home this morning to find my son missing.  After hours of searching for him, I find him tied up in a wagon in my barn with six women over him.  So, I’m sure you understand if I’m a bit upset.  And what the hell is blood pressure?”  Murdoch’s voice increased with each word he said.

“You know what, sir?  Many people think you are an ogre, a man who is severe to his children, strict, and quick to anger.  Now, I can understand at this minute how you’re feeling and the frustrations you must be going through, and the fear in not knowing what happened to Scott.  And we do apologize for that.”  Suz’s speech was cut short at Murdoch’s glare.

Ronnie continued where Suz left off.  “I for one think that you are an excellent father.  I think you love your family very much and that others’ perceptions are wrong and unfair.  However, your size can be quite intimidating so may I suggest that you take that into consideration when speaking to others?”

Murdoch seemed flabbergasted.  He turned open mouthed to his sons and asked, “Who are these women?”

“We are just people who happened to care very much about your son.  Granted, we probably got a bit carried away in our enthusiasm and imagination, but you can be assured that no harm was intended.”  Coop turned for verification.  “Right ladies?”

All nodded in agreement.

“Besides,” Charity stressed, “we did bring him back.”

“Damn, Scott, how could you let these crazy women kidnap you?” Johnny chuckled.

“You know, Johnny, you should really not be so mean to your brother.  Sometimes, depending on the writer, of course, you certainly put him, and all of your family, through some very hard trials.  They do love you, you know.”  Becky’s soft spoken advice left Johnny open mouthed.

“Becky, you realize that’s not always Johnny’s fault,” Suz said.

“Yes, I know.  Still, in CAWH he could have been a bit more understanding.”

“What is CAWH?” Johnny asked, a look on his face of utter bewilderment.

“Don’t ask, Johnny,” Scott said, covetously eyeing Murdoch’s glass of liquor.

They watched Murdoch, hands on his hips, as he obviously tried to sort out what had happened and who they were.   He let out a huge breath, ran a large hand through his hair, and asked, “Why did you bring him back if you were trying to protect him?”

“He’s not ours,” Charity popped back.

“He wasn’t yours when you took him.”

“No sir, but we thought at first we were doing the right thing, but then decided it was wrong and decided to return him to his family.”  Charity looked at the others for encouragement.

“Yes,” Becky agreed.  “We didn’t think we had the right to take him away; especially by force.  Besides, we know he loves it here, and loves you and Johnny.”

“And how do you know that?  It appears that you ladies know a great deal about us.”

They looked at one another before answering.  Then Suz said, “It’s hard to explain, and you wouldn’t believe us if we told you.”

“Try me.”  Murdoch wasn’t going to back down, but then, that was Murdoch.

“Let’s just say that our motives were good and we had only his welfare in mind.” Coop’s look encompassed all of the ladies.  “We’re not from this area.

“That is very evident,” Murdoch growled and walked to his desk.  He sat back in the chair, eyeing the six in front of him.

“You do look very patriarchal sitting there,” Charity said, smiling slightly.  “It was meant as a compliment,” she hastily explained.

“I’ll take it as such,” Murdoch replied, apparently still unsure of what was going on.  “So,” he finally said, “what do we do with them.”

“I want you to let them go,” Scott stated.

“What!”

“Please, Murdoch.  Whatever their reasons, they thought what they were doing was for my own good.”  He scanned the six women.  “Besides, I get a headache just trying to figure them out.  I’m not sure, but I don’t think we want to know.”  He put his head in his hand which elicited exclamations of sympathy from the ladies.

Scott looked up at them, glancing from one to the next.

He did indeed have the most beautiful slate blue eyes; cool as river water and just as deep.  They guessed the sun didn’t shine nearly as bright as the glitter from his eyes.

“I don’t know who you are and in spite of everything you’ve done to me, I think, that somehow, and for whatever reasons, you are loyal to me.  I thank you for that.   Now, I think it best you go to wherever you came from.”  He hesitated and then smiled.  “But, why do I think you’ll never forget me.  I, for one, will not soon forget you.”

“Damn, Boston, you’ve almost got them drooling.”

Johnny’s statement seemed to shake them from whatever trance they had been in as they listened to Scott.  All, except Charity.  She was certainly undone with those words.

Suz stood up first.  “Ladies, I think we need to go.”

Judi took Charity by the arm and drew her to a standing position.  The others stood as well.

“Thank you, Mr. Lancer, for understanding,” Coop said.

“I understand nothing.  But, if my son wants to forget it, I’ll honor what he says.  And ladies,” Murdoch got up from his chair and continued.  “I don’t make it a habit of scaring women, and apologize for that.  And, I do think you care very much about what happens to my son, although I’ll be damned if I know why.”

Murdoch wasn’t so bad after all, as most of them already suspected.  “Sir,” Ronnie replied, “I think you are a wonderful father to your sons and I’m sure you would have been to a daughter, if you would have had one.”

“Young lady, if I were your father, I would have washed out your mouth with soap for that word you said.”

Seeming to contemplate on the rebuke, Ronnie replied, “I said you are a wonderful father, but not perfect by any means.”

Scott quickly followed up with a, “Good day ladies,” nervously looking at his father for a reaction to the last remark.

With that, they walked to the large front door and looked back at the family Lancer.

“Ah, sir, may I be so bold as to ask you one more question?” Coop stated with some hesitation.  The other five gaped at Coop and Becky grabbed her arm to pull her towards the door.

“You were bold enough to take my son.  Why do you need my permission to ask a question?”  It was apparent that Murdoch wasn’t entirely ‘at peace’ with their explanation for the kidnapping, or lack thereof.

“Well, it’s a question of a more…personal nature, sir.”

Murdoch pursed his lips and studied the woman intently.  “Go on.”

“Uhm, … uhm …” was all that came forth until Coop blurted out, “Does Scott have any birthmarks?”

The question was followed by total silence.  The conspirators held their breath, waiting for the explosion, wondering what in the world had compelled Coop to ask such a question.  They stole a look towards Scott who was staring wide eyed at them. 

Johnny was trying to hide a huge smile behind his fist.

“As a matter of fact, he does.”  They were surprised at the mildness of Murdoch’s tone and when they looked his way, there was actually a small grin playing across his lips and a twinkle in his eye.  “But I would suggest you don’t ask where.”  He sat back, smiled, and sipped on his drink.

“Well, thank you very much, sir,” Coop said very charmingly and curtsied.

They moved quickly through the door and stepped onto the front stoop.

“What the hell were you thinking, Coop?” Judi demanded.  “You could have blown everything!”

Coop shrugged off the question.  “We know he’s got a birthmark and it’s obvious in a most personal area or Murdoch wouldn’t have said anything about not asking.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t ask if it was shaped like a butterfly.”

“Come on, Judi.  You wanted to know, just like all of us,” Becky said, then grinned sheepishly.  “I’ll bet it is a butterfly.”

“It’s done.  Let’s just get out of here before they change their minds,” Suz stressed and they quickly made their way to their horses, snickering about the affirmation of the presence of a birthmark.  Within a short time they were making their way to the top of the rise that overlooked the valley.

“Do you think the others will be upset that we didn’t go through with it?” Coop asked.

“Maybe a little.”  Suz patted her horse’s neck.  “But, we’ll just have to explain why we thought we did the right thing.”

“We can still get together with them.   Why not just have Mary Ann, Theresa,  and anyone else for that matter who wants to, meet us in Custer?”

“Great idea Judi,” Becky said.  “No reason why we still can’t go there.  I’ve always wanted to see the Black Hills, and since I’ve come this far, why not.”

“That would be nice.  Put on some Scott DVD’s, or maybe Custer.”  The seconds ticked by and Charity’s enthusiasm increased.  “Have you noticed how his uniform fits so well in Custer; across his shoulders, down his long legs, over his cheeks?”

“He doesn’t have any clothing on his face,” Judi remarked, obviously not understanding.

Charity grinned wickedly.  “I know.”

“See, I told you.  Everyone always goes to the tush,” Ronnie stated smugly.

Suz laughed.  “I guess you’re right on that one.  Hard not to admire it.”

A few minutes later they were on the pinnacle that overlooked the valley where the Lancer compound rested.  It was like an ivory jewel on a blanket of green velvet.  They were speechless, remembering how many times they had envisioned this view.

“I suppose Lacy is waiting for us,” Becky reminded them softly.

“You know, he said we couldn’t work together, but we have.  We’ve written this story together, we’ve managed to do it without insulting anyone or hurting anyone and we had a lot of fun along the way.”  Ronnie looked around at the others.  “I would say that’s a pretty good prize.  Almost as valuable as Scott Lancer.”

They took one last look into the valley, remembering the words of Teresa O’Brien.  Lancer was indeed the most beautiful place in the world.  But the Black Hills was calling.  Laughing, jostling, teasing and just enjoying the company, they turned north towards home.

End
June 2010/ Archived July 2022

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ASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or Email Ronnie, Coop, BeckyW directly.

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3 thoughts on “The Escape 2010 – A Collaboration of Lancer Writers

  1. Hi Jill, thank you for reading and commenting. As Ronnie says, we had very much fun writing it. Becky

    Like

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