Bullets continued to fly – mostly spraying out from the passenger car, but some finding their way in from the horse-mounted bandits. It quickly became apparent that the raiders had something on their mind other than the resistant bunch of defenders in the passenger section – their steeds continuing to gallop onwards, towards the engine!
Ignoring the passengers completely was a mistake however, and the blazing guns of William D’Alembord, John Shepherd, Sam Barnes and Quique Quineros claimed numerous riders, seriously reducing their numbers. Quique and Sam in particular were deadly – the Mexican’s trusty rifle claiming more victims, and Sam’s pistol making headshots as if they were going out of fashion. Satisfied the women were safe, Ebeneezer Hogan produced a wicked looking shotgun to add to the general artillery available.
As the remaining riders urged their horses forward they started to fade from view. The posse were not prepared to leave it there however, and the front door of the passenger car was flung open only to reveal two raiders stood on the roof of the mail car, pointing guns right at the door! A deadly short-ranged firefight ensued. Inexplicably out in front at this stage, William turned to one side, presenting a reduced profile, and after ducking and diving like a man possessed he somehow managing to avoid a hail of bullets bar a fleshwound to his hip. At the end of it, the two raiders retreated back down the roof of the mail car, nursing severe wounds from pistol bullet, rifle bullet and shot.
As the posse started to chase after them, the train suddenly ground to a halt without warning, throwing William and John, now both clambering up various ladders, forward. John managed to hold onto the ladder, but William was cast forward, rolling the length of the mail car and nearly tumbling off the side. As he brushed himself off and stood up he found himself face to face with the remaining bandit, the other now laying in a bloody heap some ton of yards behind the train. A short fist fight ensued, but without his trusty hiking cane William knew he was outmatched and took the first opportunity to jump down to the relative safety of the ground. The wounded bandit retreated, and disappeared from view.
John ran to the front of the train, intent of getting to the bottom of it all, and espied two more bandits now tending the engine. William reloaded and waited for the others to catch up. By this point both Sam and Quique had caught up with John. Sam in particular was in no mood for talking by now , and rounded the corner to the cab, blazing away and ending one of the engine bandits there and then with a vicious flurry of hot lead. Quique advanced from the otherside, a gut shot from him ending any resistance from the other.
With that, quietness descended on the desert. There was only one place left to look for the bandit who had mysteriously disappeared and that was the mail car. Finding the “front” door now wide open John took the lead, taking an initial peek before leaping in and finishing off the injured bandit at close range. Suddenly, what had been a battle turned into a hostage situation. With all of the group at the front door, and only William at the rear, John and Ebeneezer tried their own very different ways of talking down the two remaining raiders, who now held the mail car guard they hadn’t already killed at gunpoint. Ebeneezer, seeing that his wise words delivered on behalf of the almighty were getting through to one, waded in to confront him, and the man broke down, releasing the guard. The other bandit, “Bobby”, decided to flee, flinging open the back door only to have it slammed back in his face by William. That gave John, Quique and Sam the opportunity to take their lined up shots, and he fell, his legs almost blown off.
The hi-jack now thwarted, the group quickly organised the remaining train staff and the 08:54 from Sweetwater was on its way again, this time with additional baggage – the lucky raiders who lived in ropes, the unlucky ones wrapped in blankets, their faces covered and their souls delivered up to the mercy of the almighty, or so Ebeneezer said.
“I didn’t shoot no body…. I didn’t shoot no body!” sobbed the remaining hostage taker, all the way to Odessa.