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DL | Cmdr Archer | "Expecto Patronum"

Posted on 241709.03 @ 07:07 by Commander James Archer

Mission: Ballynamony

Before the war had begun, no one would said that Jonathan Lundes was a man likely to ever see a turn in his fortune. After all, years of prosperity had done absolutely nothing for him, and he had been a man who had plenty of opportunities. The second son of a barrister with a natural penchant for the arts, and in spite of his parents’ fondly exasperated attempts to steer him towards a more profitable trade, he’d left them in order to follow his muse.

His muse, however, had lead him to scandal. Scandal had lead him further away from family. When he had money, it was squandered away at the bottom of a bottle of cheap gin or in the tight pocket of a loose woman. When the money ran out, he’d pick up pencil or pen and add to the press or draw amusing satires and obscene caricatures of politicians for one pamphlet or another. It was an easy-come, easy go sort of life.

Now that the war had come, so too had his desire for something more. His parents had cut him off without hope of return, the gravy train had stopped. It had left him with little choice but to forget the arts and start doing something a bit more useful. He’d become a horse trader. With little knowledge or little care for the big animals, he’d done his fair share of wheeling and dealing to make a quick sack of coins. He’d lie, he’d cheat, he’d beg, he’d steal, the ends justified the means. There were more women and more bottles to buy. Soldiers on either side of the equation cared little so long as an animal was relatively fit and would pull a cart or carry a rider. Most of the idiots were dead within a couple days anyway and the animals held back by the by the armies were often slaughtered to feed the troops if they came up lame. The circle was open, never broken, and no one ever came back to point fingers for selling them a bad horse. That wasn’t to say that all of them were bad, just that he didn’t know the difference or care much for it. It was beyond his scope of problems.

That was until a dark-haired stranger wandered up to his property on a particularly cold day. He was dressed in a fine leather coat, his hair pulled back, but beard scruffy. His eyes shone like ice, filled with intelligence and mischief. “Salutations my fine friend!” John greeted the stranger as he came off his porch, “Find yourself needing a horse?”

“Six, actually.” James nodded with a small smile.

“Six? That’s a lot of horse flesh. Broke to saddle or broke to cart?” John was immediately leery of such an order, and the man’s smile didn’t make it any easier to take with anything more or less than a grain of salt.

“At least two need to be broke to cart and I’d be interested in purchasing a cart too, and tack. Major Gates has had a bad run in with horse thieves sent by the damned Tories.” The explanation made sense in James’ mind and even more so as he spoke it while drifting towards the dry lot where several horses were making short work of a pile of hay. “The gray broke to saddle?”

“Oh. I see.” Major was synonymous with money and John lit up with a nod as he gestured towards the gray, “She’s broke. Good horse, good ride. Well bred. The two black drafts are a good driving team and I have cart and harness for them. It’s a fine cart, belonged to General Rutherford before he was hung by the Tories.”

“Pity about Rutherford.” James replied, sliding between fence rails and approaching horses for a better look at their legs and feet. The gray was well conditioned, happy enough, though her eye rolled at him at his first approach. A more difficult horse, but perfect for a rider like Rochelle. He nodded his appreciation and moved on to the two tall black horses. One had a small crack in his left front hoof, but the gelding seemed sound enough and it wasn’t something a decent blacksmith wouldn’t be able to fix, at least to keep the creature comfortable for the duration of their short stay. Appearances were everything, they needed decent looking horses… Or at least the Major and his wife did.

“His misfortune is your favor. His entire stock wound up here. The chestnut with the white face was his personal charger. Be a good match for your Major if he’s looking for something with courage and style.” John nodded, pointing at the horse in question.

James took the bait and made his way over to the grazing beast. He was a fine looking animal indeed, even in spite of a healing wound to his flank. A musketball had grazed him, no doubt. It wasn’t deep and it wouldn’t affect the way he traveled. New skin had already started to form over it. “Those four and the bay, the piebald gelding, tack, the harness set, and cart… How much?”

“You’re looking at a hefty sum. You’re taking my best horses and finest saddlery.”

“I’m not looking to play and haggle, I’m looking to get a price and get on my way. The Major is a busy man.” Archer’s eyes rolled as he reached to grab hold of the piebald’s halter and lead him back towards the gate. The horse came willingly, almost happy to be rid of his drab surroundings. With any luck the remaining five would be the same.

“Ten pounds for the Piebald, Twenty for the chestnut, fifteen for the gray, and… I don’t know… Thirty for the team and cart. I’ll throw in the saddles.” John couldn’t help but smile.

“And the bay?” Archer asked having tied the piebald up and gone back to retrieve the horse in question.

“Ten.” John said, flippant as if he were asking for peanut hulls instead of good honest cash for horses he knew next to nothing about.

Archer snorted as he lead the animal back, “I’ll give you fifty pounds total for the lot.” The mud wasn’t anywhere near frozen in the pen, constantly turned over by hooves and added to with urine and fecal matter. The situation as a whole was disgusting, and he knew – just by looking – that the animals weren’t being adequately fed or housed. All the better for a trip into town under the guise of a long journey from one regiment to another.

“Three hundred pounds and I’ll throw in Rutherford’s house in Setauket. That’s where you’re headed, isn’t it?” John’s eyes glittered. He’d bought everything for a hundred pounds. No one wanted to buy or own what Rutherford had left behind. The man was a traitor to both sides of the war.

“A house?” Archer asked, this time going to grab the chestnut and the gray, “You have my attention.”

“Your Major would be well to do with a house like it. Three stories, brick, was custom built by Rutherford himself for that whore of his he never wed.” It was John’s turn to snort at the thought of the general and his brothel madam. She disappeared shortly before he was captured and had left much in the way of speculation behind. Didn’t matter. What mattered was money, and what the hell was he going to do with a house no one in town wanted? “Furnished, too. Do a little dusting, shake out the linens, good as new.”

It solved a problem. A very big problem. They needed home base and with a home to go to, one large enough to satisfy the appetites of a General, that problem would be solved well enough. Leaks, cracks, dust… That was all secondary and simple enough to ‘fix’ long enough to get the downed crew back. “Three hundred you said?”

“Three hundred.”

A heavy sigh. The exaggerated motion of fishing for money was careless, knocking a hidden tri-corder loose from its holster and sending it to the half-frozen ground with a thud and a skitter as it flipped open and began to sing. “Shit.” Archer swore, and the gray pulled back on her lead, threatening to splinter the rotting top rail she’d been tied to.

“What the hell is that?!” Johnathan’s fat finger pointed at the offending item, shaking and wide eyed. He’d never seen anything like it. It was blinking, its lights reflected against a patch of ice as they twinkled and the item continued to squeal.

“It’s nothing, just a toy for my son.” Nice cover, James, thought Archer as he bent over to grab the tri-corder and keep it from being smashed to smithereens beneath the gray’s hooves. Calming the animal became his next priority. If it was business as usual, maybe the slime ball horse trader would let it go. “I’ll give you the three hundred.”

“WITCH!” The trader screamed, “YOU’RE A WITCH! YOU TRIED TO PUT ME UNDER A SPELL! WITCH!” His eyes bugged out, straining with every word being bellowed from his throat. His chest felt tight, his arm beginning to tingle as he continued on in hopes someone would hear him and save him from the witch in front of him, “WITCH!”

“Oh for fuck’s sake. You know what? I don’t have time for this game,” Archer sighed about the same time that the trader started choking and clutching his chest. “If you weren’t such a douche I’d have helped you out, but the Prime Directive says no help for douche bags… Kind of… I’m paraphrasing.” He spoke with rancor laced in his voice, sliding between the rails to approach the trader that had now taken to the ground, gasping and sweating in spite of the frigid weather. He could see fear in his eyes, “People like you screwed a lot of young men out of their lives, selling them half-broke and lame horses. For what? Never mind. I can smell it on you. Booze hound. Classy.” He hissed with a shake of his head, “And those horses out there… You don’t even care enough to feed them right. You make my job suck. How the hell am I supposed to be compassionate when you don’t give two shits about anyone but yourself? But you’re right. I’m a witch and according to regulations, I’m supposed to be a good witch and ease suffering. So I’m going to do you a favor and hope you do the same for me when… If… You wake up.” The entire time he continued to speak, the trader fighting for breath as his clogged heart seized in his breast, Archer fiddled with his phaser, setting it to stun before holding it and aiming at the writhing man, “Expecto Patronum or whatever.”

The man lay still, stunned, and his breathing evened out. “See? Good witch.” Archer chuckled, fishing out the money they’d agreed upon, and tucking it into the man’s pocket before dragging him back to his home and setting him down just inside the cabin door. “Very good witch.” He added, patting John’s chest and straightening back up in pursuit of house keys, paperwork, tack, and his horses.

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Commander James Archer
Chief Intelligence Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

 

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