By the time William and Rosie Butcher returned into town, they were in high spirits. They rolled in on their steam-bikes, and they cheered to the townsfolk as they rolled on up to the jailhouse.
Tied to the back of each steambike was the last two bounties of the Wesson Boys. A small payout for them, specifically, but combined with the others they had fought earlier that day the payout was going to be big. They had to take off after the two who got away on a steambike, hiding out in a cave outside of town.
Now they pulled up to the house, drawing a small crowd as they kicked out support stands on either side and powered down their bikes with a hiss of steam.
The doors to the jailhouse opened and the old constable came out. His beard was getting long and white and he needed glasses in his old age. He glowered at the two as they dismounted, and began waving to the crowd with massive grins on their faces as if they were stage performers.
William Butcher was a muscular, athletic man in his twenties. He liked wearing nicer clothes and a top hat. His dark skin glistened with sweat and could be seen clearly with his rolled up sleeves and opened top button. His goggles had their own magnifiers attached to aid with his marksmanship. His boots were thick and had multiple buckles right up to his knee.
His wife, Rosie Butcher, was also a sight to be seen. An expensive dress with an elaborate decorative corset on the outside. A paid of red-tinted glasses. Her air done up in two, blonde, tails down past her shoulders. She hat a wide-brimmed hat with a large, fake, star on it that appeared to parody a policeman's badge. Her dress was hiked up in the front to allow her more movement, and she also wore a pair of large boots strapped up to her knees.
Even as they cheered for themselves, the town looked on, quietly. A few smirked or hid their smiles, but others just watched dryly. William held his elaborate steam-rifle over his head in victory. Following his lead, Rosie drew her two revolvers and spun them around in a choreographed fashion.
"The heroes have returned!" announced Williams, "Never fear, citizens. The Wesson Boys are through. May justice be served."
"Aw, Bill," said the constable, "You've gone and done it, now."
William and Rosie turned, their smiles not quite hiding their confusion.
Behind the constable the doors opened, and out walked several men. Three Bobbies clad in their dark uniform, black custodial helmets, and menacing black respirators appeared, holding rifles. They spread out from the doors, fanning out.
However, all attention was on their leader. An older man wearing a wide brimmed saturno hat. He wore a black suite and vest. At his side, two silver revolvers stood out against the dark fabric. His eyes were furrowed, and it appeared he glared down at the two Bounty Hunters.
"Good day," said the man.
"Well, Howdy," said William, placing the butt of his rifle on the ground and holding it one-handed like a staff, "You interested in these men?"
"Are you two the ones who... did all this?" asked the man, "to bring down the Wesson Boys?"
Williams looked around, surveying the town. The old saloon was still smoldering. The front was blown out and the roof appeared to have caved in. However the fire brigade appeared to have mostly saved the establishment with buckets of sand smothering the flames. Across the street, the Gunsmith shop still had all the window shields drawn. Bullet holes and scorch marks marred the wooden exterior, chipping away to show metal plating underneath. A farmer's small vendor cart was shattered in the street.
Williams looked back, nodding his head, "Oh, sir. It was a wild ride, indeed. I would be happy to tell you all about it."
"Is that a yes?" asked the man.
"You see, them Wesson Boys were holed up here in town. We got word they ways a-fixing to rob the local bank."
"So we tore down here ready to take them down!" chimed in Rosie.
"Indeed we did," said William, "First off was those two men playing lookout."
"Easily down with a right hook!"
"That alerted the boys inside, so we called them out. Told them we were aiming to kill them if they didn't come quietly."
"Which only angered them!" Rosie clapped and began to do several small jumps, "So they shot first!"
"And what a fire fight it was!" said William, "My trusty gun, here, allowed me to expertly pick them off as they appeared in the windows."
"And they couldn't outrun a grenade!" smiled Rosie.
"Grenade is a loose term. It was an old mortar shell we'd found weeks prior and drilled in a fuse!"
"It was quite big."
William pointed beyond the man into the jailhouse, "When all was said and done, a few of them died but we were able to get the rest."
"Minus the runners, of course," said Rosie, gesturing to the two tied up, "But I wouldn't worry about them. We're the best Bounty Hunters around for a reason!"
"Finest work this side of Astam Junction," smiled William, "If I do say so myself."
"You don't have to," said Rosie, "I say so! Will and Rosie Butcher!"
The man crossed his arms, "So it was your explosive device that you tossed into the saloon?"
"YEHP!" said Rosie.
"Starting the fire."
"Yes, it had a negative effect on the alcohol stored within," said Rosie, "But that ensured they couldn't keep hiding behind the upturned tables."
"One was a pool table," said William, "Very expensive and sturdy."
A man with a large mustache couldn't help it any longer, and he broke down crying. He threw his head into his hands and fell to his knees. The others around him comforted him.
William looked over to him, before smiling.
"Oh, hey Phil! Glad to see you're alright. Hey, don't worry, I'm sure you'll make it up tonight when we buy everyone a round of-" William's eyes went past the crying man to the Saloon, still smoking slightly, "Oh... well, tough luck. At least we caught those responsible."
"Yes, at least we did," said the man with the hat, taking a step closer to the two Bounty Hunters.
"So, whoa re you supposed to be?" asked Rosie, her demeanor changing as she shifted the weight on her foot and put one hand squarely on her hip.
"Oh, pardon me," said the man, "Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Honorable Judge Adrian Sandoval, recently reassigned to the Department Chief of the Sorditudo Police force and the wild territories."
"Ok…" said William.
"He's replaced Sheriff Carl," said the Constable from behind them, "Department Chief, ya know?"
"So I take it you'll be the one paying us," smiled William.
William looked to Rosie. He still smiled, even forcing out a laugh for the crowd, before turning back to Sandoval, "I'm unsure if you remember how this works, Judge, but when a man breaks the law and evades justice, a bounty is placed on his head so good citizens can assist the police to bring them to justice."
"The Wesson Boys? They were a dangerous group of law breakers," said Rosie, "Any one of them had a price tag."
"Besides Bobby, Harry, and Alexander," said Williams, "They had an addition for each additional member of their outfit. Those add up if one was to... present them all."
"A few were even dead or alive," smiled Rosie, holstering her revolvers, "I'm sure not everyone died of their wounds. We brought most in alive."
Sandoval nodded along with their points, "Alright, how much they worth?"
Sandoval turned to emphasize that the question was to the old Constable. He stood a little straighter, before he stepped inside the jailhouse.
Silence fell on the street. Sandoval turned back around to gaze at the two Bounty Hunters. William was beginning to feel the strain of his large smile on his cheeks. Rosie kept her hands on her hips, twitching to her pistols every so often. The motion made the Bobbies uneased. But there was silence. Sandoval eventually returned William's smile with an exaggerated pull of his cheeks back to show a line of teeth.
The old Constable burst back through the door with a noise that filled the street. He was holding the posters in his hands.
"Uh," he stammered has he flipped through, "100. 200. 200. 350 for ol' Albert Wesson himself. Oh, but he's dead. 200. 75. 100. 25." The old man looked up, "One reads plus 13 Ciam per additional outlaw however I think it's older than this one that reads 20 additional per gang member."
"What a wage!" said Sandoval, "I might turn a shade green with jealousy. Let me see now... Five... Seven, Eight... plus 60. Wow. Nine hundred and sixty ciams! What a day for you."
"Minus expenses," smiled William, his energy returning with the mention of money.
"All in a day's work," smiled Rosie, "Nothing but the best for the best!"
"Indeed," said Sandoval, "Well done. Well done, However."
William and Rosie returned their stare right at Sandoval.
"I feel the good ol' Saloon owner would feel a great deal slighted if we should leave it, so. Constable, is that man wanted for a crime?"
The constable looked at the sobbing saloon owner, "Uh, no sir. He's an honest business man."
"An honest, business man," said Sandoval, "His day was ruined."
"Yes, unfortunate," said William, "However, I believe any good folk around here would agree that it was actually the Wesson Boys fault. See, they were wanted men. Murderers. Thieves. They were racking up quite the tab at the saloon and were none too friendly around here."
"Perhaps," said Sandoval, "I still cannot help but feel some compensation is in order. You get paid for the fight while he loses his business."
The sobs of the man grew louder at mention of losing his business. Murmurs began to spread through the crowd, and William and Rosie exchanged worried glances.
"I assure you, we intend to repay our dear friend," said William, "Not only in business, but I am sure a cool one hundred ciams could go-"
"A hundred ciams? A saloon here in town? That's a night's earnings, I feel," said Sandoval, "How many nights you think he'll be out of business here? One? Two? Can one hundred ciams cover the damages, Constable?"
"No, I fear they will not," said Sandoval, "Let us assume they can live off 100 ciams a night, the damage might not be finished overnight."
William looked to Rosie, who was glaring at Sandoval.
"Well we're reasonable people," said Williams, "If the townsfolk feel Rosie and I are at fault-"
The crowd immediately murmured in the affirmative. Some shook their heads and glared. One voice from the back booed, once. Williams looked around in surprise.
"-Than, than, It is only fair," continued William, "That he should also benefit from the capture of these boys."
"Agreed," said Sandoval, "Lucky for you, there's a judge close at hand who can dole it all out."
Sandoval raised his voice to the crowd, "How about 600 ciams to the gentleman for the damages."
William lost his smile, his eyes widening. The crowd gasps, and the saloon owner's sobs fell.
"The way I see it, other damages around town also need addressing," declared Sandoval, "Four hundred additional dollars should be paid to the town in order to properly fix up the surrounding businesses."
Rosie was staring daggers into Sandoval, her face beginning to turn red. Meanwhile William let out a groan as his face went slightly pale.
"That leaves the fines," said Sandoval.
"Fines?" barked Rosie.
"Reckless endangerment," said Sandoval, "Abuse of vehicular power. Damage to property."
"HEY!" Rosie said.
"Among a whole mess of others I could overlook," said Sandoval, "That should leave you with a reward of around... 10 Ciam."
"10!" inhaled William.
"Which, all things considered, is a lucky break," smiled Sandoval, "Because I'm feeling generous. In the name of enforcing the law, of course. For the brave Bounty Hunters who brought in the destructive criminals."
Sandoval reached out his hand to William, "That is, of course, if I can see your valid permit, if you would please."
William and Rosie shared a glance, before turning to Sandoval again.
"Of course," said Sandoval, "You are Bounty Hunters, no? Surely you are registered. Had the little special training. Served in the military? Permit? License? Registration? I hear some Hunters call them a badge. Surely you have something."
"Our... permits," said William, "Because we're Bounty Hunters."
"Who are registered," said Rosie.
"Yes. Now, if you would," said Sandoval, "The people would appreciate returning to their daily lives."
"Alright, Mr," said William, "I think I'm understanding you perfectly clear. Why don't you keep the Bounties. We'll leave and get out of everybody's business and the money-"
"Ah-ah," said Sandoval, raising a finger, "Your Bounty Hunter permits. You are Bounty Hunters, after all."
"Of course, Sheriff," said William.
"Anyone here can see that," offered Rosie, "Surely Constable-"
"Have you ever... gotten a permit?" said Sandoval, "Because if you haven't... my men-"
The Bobbies raised their rifles, pointing them squarely at William and Rosie Butcher. Rosie jerked for her pistols, but Sandoval stamped his foot, forward.
"Touch those guns, ma'am," yelled Sandoval, causing the crowd to take a step back, "And we'll drop you faster then you can draw."
Sandoval turned his pointer finger to William, "Now. Mr. Butcher. Mrs. Butcher. You will be handing over your Bounty Hunting licenses to me at this time. Otherwise, I am afraid I cannot validate your status as 'Bounty Hunters'. Should that arise, there will be no bounty paid out today. These criminals are then given to the next force with jurisdiction which, looky-here, is a Constable of the law of Antiford and my men, Officers of Antiford Law. No bounties paid out."
William clenched his jaw. Rosie snarled, barring her teeth. Slowly she raised her hands up and away from her pistols.
"And of course... if you are not Bounty Hunters," said Sandoval, "Than you are just citizens. Citizens who assaulted men and shot up a saloon, resulting in it burning to the ground. You destroyed property and, what it would appear, murdered a few folks."
"Now, listen here-"
"And if that were the case, there would need to be an investigation into what degree 'self defense' would protect you two if you were the runs who rolled up and started the confrontation."
Sandoval crossed his arms, his brow meeting in the middle of his squinted eyes.
"In the event of this, I would have no choice but arrest you two for all the crimes said above, and whatever else I can find in my investigation. Now. For the last time. Your papers, Butcher."
"Listen, sir," said William, "A-Adam? Adin?"
"William Butcher and Rosie Butcher," said Sandoval.
The words were not code, but the Bobbies stepped forward, carefully. Their rifles raised to their eyes. One Bobbie lowered his rifle and slung it to his shoulder, he produced two pairs of shackles in a routine, practiced motion and stepped forward towards the two Bounty Hunters.
"You are under arrest in the name of the law of Antiford," said Sandoval, "Pending investigation. Relinquish them of their weapons."
A groan elevated to a growl in Rosie's throat, ending in an exasperated scream of frustration into the sky as a Bobbie removed her gun belt. William's rifle was taken from him and his hands put behind his back.
A few of the onlookers began to clap, but it was bitter sweet. Murmurs had already begun to circulate if this meant there would be bounties paid to the town or not.
Sandoval turned to the old Constable, "Statements," he ordered, "Witnesses saw everything. We'll need a full account of what happened. I'll start booking the outlaws, now."
Sandoval turned and pointed to the Butchers, "Starting with those two on charges of impersonating Bounty Hunters. I'll need to send a wire to try and verify their registrations, if there are any."
Sandoval walked into the jailhouse, the old Constable and one of the Bobbies following him. After the Bounty Hunters were disarmed and shackled, they were brought into the jailhouse, and a Bobbie began to check the condition of the two men on the steambikes.
Slowly the crowd dispersed. And the saloon owner was left, his sobs returning, as the state of his business lay in the balance.