Part IV - Chapter 18 - Chuck Finley

1913 - Miami

Pete had traveled to 1912 as planned and between the letter of reference and Pete's conman skills, he was able to convince Weston and his team that Pete was a down and out spy and they adopted him like a stray dog. However, to ensure that Pete remained invisible to the future, he used a fake name that Ellie had created and included in the reference letter. That name being James Kendrick, Kendrick for short.

"Kendrick" had managed to ingratiate himself into the small spy ring which might have been difficult without Brisco's unwitting recommendation. Weston seemed to be exceedingly untrusting of people and preferred to do missions alone or with his girlfriend, Fiona. If times were desperate, they might loop in Weston's mother, Madeline. Kendrick's arrival had turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Pete's underworld knowledge and previous connections with Irish mob enabled him to become a mole for Weston, providing additional intel that proved vital to Weston's mission. Pete got what we wanted, a front row seat to Weston's operation. Not only did Weston have experience in covert missions and becoming invisible, but he had extensive training in utilizing targeted munitions and explosives to even a playing field. If anyone was a one-man army, it was Weston.

Over the course of the year, Pete was able to better understand the small team. Weston worked hard to be a closed book to everyone around him but Pete was able to glean that Weston was wholly devoted to serving his country, beyond any logical thought for himself. It was such a deep-rooted belief in Weston's self that caused both admiration and a sense that burn out was not far away. Pete observed that if it wasn't for Fiona and Madeline, Weston would be a much darker and lost soul. Weston's savior, Fiona, was the individual that Pete most related to. Almost immediately, Pete and Fiona bonded over their mutual affection for guns and their ties to the Irish mob. Both of them preferred to handle a mission with guns blazing or through other means of force. Instead, Weston was willing to occasionally take a punch if it meant retaining a cover, rather than utilize violence. Weston used violence as more of a last resort which was an adjustment for both Pete and Fiona.

Of course, it wasn't the only adjustment that Pete had to face but the lack of traveling through time and space on a regular basis. A routine 24 hours a day made the world feel as if it was moving at a snail's pace compared to the time hopping that he had enjoyed. However, Pete was determined to learn all he could from Weston and Pete had a lot more patience than anyone gave him credit for. It was a skill that he developed in waiting to rob trains, to stop stagecoaches, or to play dead in order to kidnap high value targets.

After spending a year with the Weston crew and knowing that the final objection was in sight, Pete started to worry about how he might leave the group without suspicion. He had hoped that the group could simply go their separate ways upon completing the mission but something about this spy bureaucracy told Pete that Weston was probably in for a series of "one last mission" lifestyle. Additionally, the timeline had caught back up with Pete's time of departure. Pete had contacted Ellie so she knew where to reach him and she had immediately responded with a new concern. Apparently, Socrates was asking around town after a man who had gone on a crime spree and kept appearing and disappearing from San Francisco. Socrates had stopped by the bar to show newspaper clippings to Ellie and to the bar frequenters to find out the identity of the thief. While Socrates never told Ellie why he was hunting for the man, Ellie was concerned that Brisco might have actually left the bars in Los Angeles and had started to hunt down the thief. Additionally, she recommended that he return to review all that she had uncovered about the bracelet.

The biggest complication to ending the mission was that they still had not been allowed to meet the man pulling the strings of the Irish mob in the United States. Despite Pete's connections, Fiona's Irish heritage, and Weston's charm, the highest that they were able to reach was O'Banion. Finally, Weston had been able to come up with a plan that would draw the mastermind out. However, it required an added person, someone to pose as a weapons dealer. Weston had asked Jesse, his commanding officer, for an additional man stating that they would need the individual for 48 hours at the most. Unfortunately, Jesse had stated that the nearest agents were already assigned to Europe and Mexico to monitor rumors of rising world tensions. Jesse had explained that while the United States was determined to stay isolated from any potential conflicts, there was a growing national anxiousness and key decision makers were dependent on spies to stay fully informed. However, a European war seemed too distant to affect Pete or his agenda. Pete had his own future war to win.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

“We finally got our man!” exclaimed Weston in his most charming smile.

The exclamation had caught Pete off guard as he had been lost in thought and staring at the breakfast and coffee Madeline had made. In Pete’s experience all that one needs to get things done is right plan, right people, and a good cup of coffee. By zeroing in on the coffee, he hadn’t even noticed the excitement in Weston’s demeanor when the group had sat down at the table.

Weston continued, “I know that it’s been a long road but we are finally near the end. Additionally, I just got our authorization from Washington to take the son of a bitch into custody before we can pull up stakes and move to Washington D.C.”

A sigh of relief came from Madelyn as Fiona spouted, “About bloody time.”

“What time can we expect the man Jesse’s sending?” asked Pete who was already calculating how much time it would take to prepare the agent on the plan that Weston had created months ago, to go through the motions of capturing the head of the local insurgents, and finally, to leave without any kind of notoriety.

"It's actually not one of Jesse's agents but an old colleague with spy experience and he should be here late tonight. He is going to be registering at the hotel under the name 'Charles Finley.'"

"If he arrives too late, how are we going to be able to get him up to speed?" asked a concerned Madeline as she ladled more eggs onto Pete's untouched plate.

"Luckily, he's got enough experience that he'll be able to roll with the punches," explained Weston as he finished off a yogurt.

"You mean you hope he can roll with the punches," corrected Pete. He felt a worry rise inside of him, not about the mission's success but what if it failed and he would be ordered to stay until it's completion. Pete was unconcerned about disobeying an order as he did not have the same national pride that Weston carried. However, Pete was concerned that disappearing in the night might cause a paper trail that the future Charles could track. Pete needed to remain a ghost.

"The meeting with O'Banion and Snake is set for tonight, it's too late to back out," explained Fiona in an effort to defend Weston.

"I know him," began Weston, "and honestly, there is no one that I trust more. We just need to work on getting everything else in place as best we can."

"Will he be staying here?" asked Madeline.

"He'll need to keep up appearances so he'll be registered at the hotel. Hopefully, I can sneak him out at night so that I can bring him by the cabin to do a more detailed mission briefing. Kendrick, can you run interference after the meeting to ensure that no one discovers that we're meeting?"

"I'm guessing you'll want me to move into the hotel as well?" asked Pete, knowing the answer.

"I'd suggest bringing a good book and finding a comfy chair to move into for today and tomorrow."

"We're running the operation tomorrow?" Fiona asked hopefully. She had bolted up right in her chair, suddenly enthusiastic about the day's events.

"Tonight is the meeting and tomorrow will be the sale to draw out the mastermind," confirmed Weston. Fiona and Madeline began to hug each other in excitement before Weston regained control of the room issuing orders to each member as there was still a lot to do before Chuck Finley's evening arrival.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete had been at the hotel since the late afternoon. It was unlikely that the train would arrive that early but Pete wanted to position himself at the hotel bar so that he could watch the front door for Finley's arrival. For the first few hours, it was just the hotel and bar regulars, even low members of the Irish gang whom Pete knew giving him a better reason for hanging out while not renting a room.

The first stranger to arrive through the door was a tall and wirey man with blonde hair which seemed to point in every direction. The skeleton of a man was hunched over and covered his face as he coughed. There was something familiar about the man but Pete didn't get a good look at the guy and obviously, he was not an agent. Just behind the skinny stranger was a young woman who walked in as though she owned every room she entered. Her looks and confidence caused several of the men at the bar to stop drinking or pause conversations just to watch her pass. However, Pete didn't get a good look at her as the final member of the trio was none other but Brisco County Jr.!

Pete slid into the shadows to watch the group. Brisco signed the small group in before each collected a key and moved upstairs. Is Brisco playing Chuck Finley? And if so, why didn't Weston just tell me that it was Brisco? More than that, why did Brisco bring a young woman and scrawny man with him? They certainly weren't part of the mission which meant that Brisco was placing civilians in harm's way which seemed out of character for Brisco.

Pete had remained at the bar and watched the minutes ticked by. After about twenty minutes or so, Brisco left the hotel, alone. Pete took note of the time and noticed that if he was the buyer, he'd arrive a few minutes before the meeting and might be able to catch up with Weston. However, a few moments later, the woman snuck out after Brisco. Maybe Brisco was not Finley, if that girl is following him out. Pete waited until the appointed time of the meeting and noticed that only those three individuals had registered this evening. Pete was now almost certain that Brisco was playing Finley but he wanted one last confirmation, just in case the agent didn't arrive and the operation was now going to be pushed back, again.

Pete approached the hotel manager who was managing the check-in desk. Of all of the members of the Irish gang, the hotel manager annoyed Pete the most. Pete had found that people who irritate him, or seem to offer nothing to further Pete's interests, seemed to all have forgettable names. The hotel manager had given Pete his name on numerous occasions but Pete had always forgotten it within seconds; there just seemed to be no reason to remember the man. Until now, grimaced Pete. How am I going to read the register list without tipping off that I know Brisco if he's not Chuck Finley? If he is Chuck Finley, I'm supposed to know him and wouldn't need to find out his name.

Pete took a deep breath before giving his most charming smile to the hotel manager before saying, "I would like to register a complaint."

The hotel manager frowned before stating, "Mr. Hutter, I don't believe that you are a guest and therefore, any complaints will have to be ignored."

"Ignored? Ignored?" Pete began. He lowered his voice as though the offense was so great that it would take all of his strength to contain it. "That's ridiculous!" exclaimed Pete throwing his arm down to feign his anger.

"Mr. Hutter, it's not that we don't appreciate your utilization of our bar this evening or that we don't appreciate the growing relations between your colleagues and mine, but at the moment, there are far more pressing matters for both of our groups than to handle a mere complaint."

"That's just want I wanted to complain about," Pete quickly replied, in an effort to change avenues of attack. "With so much occurring tomorrow, specifically here at the hotel, I should have a room."

"And who will be paying for the room?" asked the hotel manager with a dark grin.

"Obviously, my room should be on the house," Pete stated, knowing full well that the room would not be comped by the hotel but also noting that to make the "complaint" believable, he'd need to be demanding.

"My, how surprising," commented the hotel manager. "You wanting something from me without any cost to yourself, how American of you."

"For the sake of our growing alliance, can't you make an exception?" asked Pete who planned to acquiesce momentarily in order to sign in and gain access to the registry.

"Fine," commented the hotel manager, "I have other things to attend do. Would you mind staying upstairs with the rest of your group?"

The hotel manager agreeing to give Pete a free room caught Pete by surprise. Not that the rooms were anything extravagant, in fact they were about as plain and basic as they could be. But Pete was used to working with people who charged for everything and the word "favor" did not exist.

Pete collected himself before saying, "That should be fine."

The hotel manager handed Pete a key and then turned to go back to his office.

"Wait, don't I need to register or something?"

"Why? We're all friends here."

"True," Pete stated with a forced smile. He started again, "Would you mind if I borrowed your pen?"

"My pen?" asked the hotel manager who seemed to be watching something occurring behind Pete now with great interest.

"I need to write myself a note before heading back to the bar," explained Pete desperate now to see the register book.

"Take it," stated the hotel manager as he handed the pen over to Pete before leaving the front desk area. Pete took the opportunity to quickly turn the registration book around and finally confirmed that Brisco had signed in as "Chuck Finley."

Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. Pete turned to see what had pulled the hotel manager away and he noticed that the hotel manager had joined a couple of the Irishmen that Pete had seen in the past, Playfair and Lonergan. The hotel manager was talking quickly to the Irishmen and pointing upstairs before the two men began hurrying up towards Brisco's rooms. It wouldn't be long until they barged in on the 3rd man in Brisco's small party and who knew what the civilian might say. Pete quickly passed the hotel manager and moved out the front door of the hotel. In the alley beside the bar across the street, Pete could make out the shadow of Weston with two other figures, presumably Fiona and Brisco. Pete gave a loud whistle and when the shadow of Weston turned towards the hotel, Pete waved to signal the need to return to the hotel immediately. Pete then moved out of the light as he knew that it would be best to meet Brisco under the cover of darkness before going inside.

Within minutes, Brisco crossed the street and arrived at the lobby door. Despite the possible unraveling Weston's carefully calculated plan, Pete couldn't help himself and allowed "Brisco County Jr." to come rushing out in his favorite sing song tone. Brisco turned and stared at Pete, his face frozen between shock and confusion. Before Brisco could blow anyone's cover, Pete quickly put out his hand to shake Brisco's.

"Chuck Finley, I presume. I'm Kendrick," Pete began before turning his attention upstairs to the Irishmen. "While I would love get to know you better and to pontificate the meaning of life. I believe there is a matter upstairs that demands our immediate attention."

The two men quickly moved up the stairs and down the hallway towards the rented rooms but Pete could tell that Brisco was spiraling with the information. About all that Pete could glean is that a scientist was upstairs. It looked like the Irishmen had already ransacked the girl's room as her clothes littered the hallway floor. Pete ignored whatever motions Brisco doled out and silently moved into position behind one of the Irishmen before hearing the man in front of Brisco shout, "Where are the weapons?"

Clearly, we did too good of a job setting Brisco up as an elite gun runner. This could blow up in our faces if we're not careful.

Trying to decide how to save the situation without blowing the mission, Pete failed to time his sneak attack on Playfair as Brisco knocked out Lonergan. In that time, Playfair had managed to punch the young blonde man in Brisco's party and knocked the kid out. Pete looked over at the scientist but all he could see was a mess of tangled blonde hair. Pete honed in on Playfair rather than the knocked out kid. Pete grabbed the gun from the passed out Lonergan and pointed it at the co-conspirator, Playfair who was now standing in the middle of the scientist's room with big fearful eyes.

"Now that wasn't real smart of you to break into a scientist's room and knock him out," Pete said in a mocking tone. "You just lost your only leverage. Obviously, you don't play chess. Maybe you should stick to checkers because you are all offense but no strategy."

Pete did not get a good look at the young man in a crumpled heap on the floor but based on his clothing and scribbled paper everywhere, he certainly seemed to have the "genius" trait of disorganized chaos. Looking around at the belonging of Brisco's two companions, Pete realized that his suspicions that the two strangers were just civilians had been correct. Unfortunately, whether Brisco wanted his civilians involved in Weston's operation or not, both individuals were now dragged into the operation.

"How dare you Yanks try to profit instead of support our cause! You have no honor! There is a fight coming and you dare to-"

"How dare you break into my employees' rooms!" The rage in Brisco's voice shook Pete to the present as he realized how protective Brisco truly felt about this young man. Brisco continued to rant, "Do you think that I would be stupid enough to bring the weapons anywhere near town before I got paid? Kendrick was right you are stupid!"

As much as Pete enjoyed Brisco agreeing with him, truth be told, Pete was more enchanted by the gun that he was holding rather than whatever Playfair was yelling about. Clearly, the Irishman had some kind of martyr complex and Pete had little patience for any further tyrannical behavior.

The Irishman seemed determined to justify the ran sackers' actions and continued, "At least we believe in a higher calling - like freedom and-"

"I believe in nothing but the almighty dollar. And I don't need you or your cause! In fact, I am about to call this deal off!"

Despite how precarious their safety was in this moment, Pete couldn't help but smile. This was the Brisco that Pete remembered, not the hopeless shell hiding from widows and living for his next drink. It looked like Brisco had caught enough of the plan and had enough skill to improvise and to save Weston's all important and final Miami mission.

Unfortunately, Brisco caught the smile and turned on Pete by demanding, "Anything you want to add?"

Pete raised his hands in mock surrender in an attempt to abet Brisco's ire. "Nossir! Looks like you've managed to say everything needed."

It seemed enough for Brisco to turn back on the intruder and Pete watched as Brisco picked the man up and threw him out of the room. "In fact, deal's off! That's the message you can tell your employers!"

"No need to cancel the deal or to pass on a message," came the cheerful voice of O'Banion. He had silently moved up the stairs and was standing next to Snake and the hotel manager. "Message received. It's like you said, had to try. Come Playfair, we'll attend to Lonergan."

Pete casually watched the martyr move toward O'Banion while Snake and the hotel manager carried the unconscious man away. Most of Pete's attention was directed towards admiring the captured weapon. The spell was only momentarily broken when the hotel manager had interjected with "That's my friend's gun."

"And?" Pete asked as though the fact had no bearing on the conversation at hand.

"Well, it's his," came the weak response from the hotel manager, a little less confident as he looked into Pete's eyes.

"It's a Beautiful Colt 45. Almost as beautiful as my piece." At that Pete retrieved his piece and pointed both guns at Playfair. "Pete's piece is what I call it and it's about time, it had a mate. So, I would say, it was his. Past tense is key."

Pete knew that he did not necessarily need another gun but it was too beautiful of a weapon to surrender. Since both guns were pointed at the hotel manager, the hotel manager surrendered the question of the gun's ownership and he joined the Irishmen as they slowly left the hallway. O'Banion was the last to leave the hallway but just before he turned to leave, he gave a mock apologetic smile. "Our apologies for the confusion. Let's all get a good night's rest before deciding if we want to call off the deal."

At that Brisco and Pete were left alone in the hallway. Pete holstered his piece and tucked the second gun behind his back. In that moment, Pete was relieved that he had booked a room at the hotel as opposed to trying to find a way to guard the rooms surreptitiously. By now the hotel manager had surely explained to the rest of the Irish gang that Pete was staying at the hotel and that their movements could damage their deal for the next day. He began by tossing any item on the floor into the girl's room. He wasn't exactly sure if they were all hers but it seemed a good deduction based on the items he threw. After the hallway was clear, Pete went downstairs to the bar and picked up the book he brought to keep awake and ordered coffee from the hotel manager to be delivered to his room. It looked like it was going to be an all-night event, guarding the hallways from any further intrusions.

After a few instructions to the hotel manager, Pete noticed that Brisco had finally come downstairs, carrying the scrawny man over his shoulder, as the young man was still out cold. Pete could tell that this lightweight had clearly not worked in any hard labor environment as he looked too weak to carry a satchel of books much less anything with real weight. Before Brisco left, Pete discreetly motioned to Brisco that he would keep guard over the rooms while Brisco and his unconscious friend met up with Michael. Unfortunately, Brisco was never the best at nonverbal communication so Pete had to trust that Brisco understood how to get out of town and into the direction of the cabin. Worst case, Pete knew that Weston was somewhere tailing Brisco and would meet up with the duo after they left the town.

Either way, it was out of Pete's hands when Brisco rode off into the night. With a sigh, Pete went back into the hotel and moved a chair from his room into the middle of the hallway so that he could watch over the hotel rooms. Once he felt settled and guns within reach, Pete picked up his coffee and copy of Sun Tsu's "Art of War" and settled in for a long night of guard duty.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

At about 7 am, the previously agreed upon time by Weston and O'Banion, Pete joined the Irishmen to help seal in the sound around the bar. A small group would practice talking in various volumes inside the dining room while the rest worked on insulating the sound. Pete had been volunteered to be part of the insulators working to ensure that it was sealed for sound which gave him the opportunity to surreptitiously ensure that the gas would not escape or dissipate once pumped into the dining hall. Since it was tedious work, it took much longer than anticipated. But finally, the task was completed and the men went their separate ways, to work on other projects, to go to sleep, or to change for the day.

Pete made a lot of commotion about getting coffee at the bar across the street to ensure that anyone watching would take notice that he had left the hotel. Once the breakfast and coffee order was placed at the bar, Pete snuck out the back of the bar and into to the dining room of the hotel. Once he was sure that no one had seen him, he pulled out a map that Weston and Pete had drawn up in preparation for this deal. He found the agreed upon location and cut a small hole in the wall. Pete then set up gas tank next to the room before placing a small card table over the gas canister. He then found a long tablecloth and used it to hide the underside of the table. Pete had barely laid the tablecloth down before he heard Snake's voice nearing Pete and his work. Pete had just enough time to dive under the tablecloth before Snake came into the hallway. O'Banion's number two seemed to be surveying the work of insulation by the morning crew and he was running his hand over the wall. Pete held his breath, wondering if he would feel the need to move the table or inspect it. After a few minutes, Pete heard Snake pass by, taking no notice of the table or Pete. Pete peaked around the corner of the tablecloth and watched as Snake turned around the corner, still studying the walls. Pete carefully got out from under the table but as he looked up and down the hallway, Pete began to second guess how this table would look next to the dining room wall. After a few moments of consideration, he grabbed a pitcher of water and several glasses and placed it on the table.

Before anyone noticed, he snuck back to the bar and made a loud commotion ensuring that all would assume that he had not gone anywhere near the hotel lobby since the insulation tests of the morning. At that, Pete began chugging as much coffee as he could find. It was going to be a long day.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete watched as Brisco and the young man arrived early to set up. Since Pete was supposed to be more of a grunt man and part of the escape plan, he started walking towards the building after he was sure that all of the weapons, drawings, and "inventions" were loaded into the building so he could be a guard before the Irishmen decided to join the meeting. It appeared that Pete was none too soon as the Irishmen began to walk into the hotel dining room before Pete was even in place. Pete took his position but managed to find a way to catch Brisco's eye and give him a wink to assure Brisco that he was not alone. Unfortunately, Pete was joined by Playfair, the thief from the night before, and the hotel manager.

"Haven't you ever heard that three's a crowd?"

"How's that?" inquired the hotel manager.

"We got one of each party represented here, we don't need another body crowding this door. Don't you have some hospitality management to work on?"

The hotel manager's only response was a series of mutters under his breath as he stormed back to the front desk. "And then there was one," thought Pete. From the other side of the door, he could hear an added two voices in the room, when Pete peaked inside and caught a glimpse of the young man from the night before and an unfamiliar individual. Clearly, they had entered through the back entrance. The door closed again limiting Pete's look to that momentary glance. With the door shut, all Pete could do was listen to Brisco's tap dancing routine in an attempt to stall until Weston's arrival.

As if on cue, Michael arrived and pressed a note into Pete's hand as they shook hands before Michael entered the room to join Brisco. In order to read the note in private, Pete told Playfair about the water and glasses around the corner and suggested that he bring back a couple glasses of water. As soon as the man turned the corner, Pete read the note:

Doc will gas. Fi & Ma around corner as plan "B."

Pete released a breath and leaned against the door. It looked like Brisco and Michael had the tough job of entertaining the group, this "Doc" guy will gas the room, and Pete just needed to wait for the signal to take out any stragglers or to help load up the target and O'Banion. However, just as Pete started to review the next steps of his plan, he noticed two figures hurry upstairs. To Pete's surprise, it was the girl who had snuck out after Brisco the night before. The young man was familiar but Pete couldn't place him.

Within a few moments the young couple rushed back downstairs and started moving towards him. Pete tipped his hat and with a large smile stated, "The dining area is closed for a private event. We recommend visiting any other restaurant in town but I thank you to vacate the premises immediately."

Pete continued to study the young man. He almost looked like Bowler. Could this be little James all grown up? Just as the thought crossed his mind, the young man turned as though about to leave before quickly turning back and slamming Pete in the gut. Pete felt his body double over in pain but before he could register a sound, he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head. And then the room went dark.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete forced himself to push through the darkness. He couldn't tell how long he had been out but could only register a pain in his head and ringing in his ears. Suddenly, there was a gunshot, a woman's scream, and then the familiar sound and flash of light from outside. Pete, panicked, checked his wrist but was able to confirm that his was still on him. Were there two bracelets? Who had the other one? Was it Charles coming to bring him back to the future? Or was it a new prisoner out to capture Pete and other 'important people?'

Pete had barely enough time to process the questions before he heard a crash come through the wall. Fiona with Plan B, thought Pete. Pete took a quick look into the dining room and noticed that O'Banion was pinned under debris and another man was hiding behind a table. Pete couldn't see Snake and with O'Banion pinned, it meant that there was really only one threat in that room. With Michael, Fiona, Brisco, and the scientist it was four against one, which meant that Pete could investigate where he had heard the familiar noise of time travel. Pete turned around to find Playfair pointing a gun at him.

Pete raised his hands in surrender as Playfair motioned for Pete to remove his guns and to walk towards the hotel check-in counter. Pete unhooked his gun belt slowly and let it fall to the ground but did not take a step away from the door.

"Sending me to get water so you could double cross us!" scowled Playfair.

Pete could not help but give an impish grin before replying, "Don't worry. I won't tell mom and dad."

Playfair lowered his weapon as if he was debating whether to hit Pete or simply shoot him. After a few moments, the man glowered, "Move. I know that O'Banion will want to interrogate you; otherwise, you'd be dead."

Pete took two slow steps before an explosion erupted from the dining room. Playfair looked towards the dining room in concern and the momentary distraction was all the Pete needed. Pete leaned in towards Playfair before punching the man in his gut. As the man doubled over, Pete kneed the underside of the man's head and shoved him to the ground. As Playfair fell, his gun went off which caused a stray bullet to bury itself into the ground. The man tried to raise himself back up but Pete kicked him twice in the stomach as hard as he could. Pete then reached down and pried the gun out of Playfair's hand before firing a headshot in the man. "So much for diplomacy," mused Pete.

At the sound of a second explosion, Pete forgot about investigating the time traveler, picked up his gun belt, and rushed into the dining room. Just as he stepped over Snake's body, Pete had to almost immediately dive behind a table as the third man began shooting in Pete's direction. Pete unholstered his gun, ready to unload it on the man when he heard the sound of two men struggling. Pete peered around the table to see Weston wrestling with a man that Pete could only assume was Weston's prime target.

Seeing that the immediate danger was over, Pete stood to re-fasten his gun belt. Brisco and Weston carried the prime target out the hole in the wall created by Fiona. Seeing that O'Banion was still struggling under the debris, Pete began to move towards the secondary target. It seemed that without Snake and his gang to protect him, O'Banion had become a crazed man who had only now realized that he had wasted all of his bullets. As Pete continued his approach, O'Banion threw the guns in Pete's direction as a form of defense which Pete was easily able to avoid.

Within seconds Pete was standing over the pinned body of O'Banion whose eyes were now big as saucers as he realized that his fate was fully in Pete's hands. To further emphasize the helplessness of O'Banion's situation, Pete lifted his boot and gently pressed down on the concrete that was weighing O'Banion down. The Irishman stiffened not out of pain but as his level of anxiety had become almost unbearable.

"Are you going to give me any trouble?" hissed Pete looking down at the prisoner. The trapped man vehemently shook his head no and Pete lifted his boot off of the concrete debris. Satisfied that the man would not put up a fight, Pete was able to leave the trapped man momentarily to scrounge through the nearby car that Fiona had used to rescue her fiancé. Looking inside for anything useful proved lucky as there was a ribbon laying on the floor. It was probably some new fashion item that Fiona had purchased to stay in vogue but whatever its original purpose had been it was now commandeered by Pete who stuffed it into a pocket.

After returning to O'Banion, Pete quickly and easily lifted the debris off the man and gruffly picked him up. Pete then shoved the man to turn so that he could use the ribbon to bind the prisoner's hands together. Still wanting to prevent any possible means of escape, Pete pulled a bandana out of his vest pocket and stuffed it into O'Banion's mouth. Pete surveyed his work and when he felt that the ribbon and gag were secure, he dragged the secondary target through the giant hole in the wall and into the direction that Weston had just ventured.

Pete had barely caught up with the group across the street when Brisco demanded, "What the hell happened?"

"Not the time," grunted Pete as he pushed a petrified O'Banion alongside his unconscious co-conspirator inside the wagon. Afterwards, Pete climbed inside and began to scan the area for any other Irishmen who might try to stop the abduction. Within a few minutes the rest of the group piled into the wagon while Madeline, cigarette hanging from her lips, hit the reigns and sped out of the city.

Pete was only mildly aware of the explosion from Fiona's dynamite before he locked eyes with Brisco's scientist whom he had not seen up close until this moment. Pete instantly recognized him as the man from the dystopian future. The man who worked as a scientist in the lab next to Charles. For all Pete knew, this man was part of the conspiracy to kidnap Pete and to murder Jane. Pete thought back to the familiar lights and sounds, he had only heard one arrival or departure but then he had been unconscious. Maybe he didn't hear the second one. Perhaps he had used the gun sale as a cover to report back to Charles of Pete's location.

Pete felt his hands shake as he tried to push down his anger. His eyes flickered to the unconscious men at his feet. How long until I am abducted back to the future? Pete weighed the risk of disappearing in front of this band of people that he had worked with for a year against the risk of waiting to be captured. As Pete recalled the futuristic world of Charles, Pete felt that it was better to take the risk of disappearing in front of the group.

Just as Pete made the decision to go back home, he looked over to find Brisco studying Pete and Doc. Pete responded by rolling up his sleeve to reveal the bracelet. At Brisco's shocked response, Pete gave Brisco a wink before pushing a few buttons to disappear.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete was surprised as he forgot the last couple jumps with the bracelet had caused a bit of pain. While it was not enough to warrant any concern, Pete took a mental note that he might be coming up on his maximum number of jumps. Despite the pain, Pete found himself laughing. It had been too perfect to not mock Brisco before leaving. The man who was too busy drinking to talk with him. The man who never took Pete seriously when Pete actually had the most powerful invention in the world. Pete laughed again.

But then his mind shifted to the young man that Brisco and Weston had called "Doc." A shiver went down Pete's back and he wondered how long he would be safe.

A knock came at the door followed by the hushed voice of Ellie. "Pete are you back?"

Pete walked to the door before slowly opening it.

"You look like shit!" exclaimed Ellie as she pushed the door open to get a good look at him.

"I try," Pete responded wryly.

"I'll kick everyone downstairs out and close up early. In the meantime, head to the bar. I've got some food and a pitcher of beer waiting for you."

Pete followed her downstairs and began to eat as Ellie quickly closed up her bar. Between mouthfuls, Pete filled her in the highlights of the past year. While Pete was still not about to tell her about his overall plan, he did share the added skillset that he received such as blending in with various people groups to gain trust and creating various identities for himself, all useful tools to enable him to stay out of Charles' reach. Pete couldn't help but notice that Ellie perked up when she heard Brisco's name.

"How does Brisco fit into all of this?" Ellie mused aloud.

"You mean why is he trusting a scientist from the future?"

"Does Brisco even know who that man is?"

The question had not crossed Pete's mind. It was clear that Pete would need to further interrogate the scientist to gain a handle on what was going on. But before he caught up with the scientist, Pete would need to take the time to learn everything that Ellie had discovered. For the destiny that Pete had picked, he would need to know everything he can about the enemies of the future and the invention Pete wore.

"Alright Professor Ellie, let's start your T.E.D. Talk."

"Ted Talk?" asked a confused Ellie.

Pete took a nearby napkin and pen before writing out, "T.E.D. Talk = Travel thru Eras and Diverse regions."

Ellie smirked as she pulled out the journal before commenting, "TED Talk, Pete? That'll never go anywhere."

Pete shrugged before crumpling up the napkin and throwing it away. As Ellie opened the journal and began to share what she had learned thus far, a sense of relief washed over Pete. He had survived a year invisible to Charles and he had an ally to fight the madmen of 28th Century. His plan had a shot at working.

Pete studied Ellie for a moment before considering, "Maybe this is what having an empathetic co-conspirator felt like."

Add comment