Hollow Threats - part 3

Now that the hired goons in Grunting Hollow are posing no immediate further threat, the marshals decide to administer some more considered medical aid to Nelli’s burnt foot. Marshul McTeef puts on his doctorin’ hat and determines that the foot is not going to heal on it’s own; this injury is going to require surgery. Given the mangled state of the foot, Nelli and McTeef agree the best course of action at this point is to remove what remains of the foot, leaving a clean cut, and deal with limb replacement at River Junction if possible.

The marshals first speak to Barber/Mayor Chapman, and learn that he does indeed have some dusty antibiotics in his shop. They are an older variety, no longer in common use, but all present put their heads together and work out the correct dosage; it should do the trick for warding off infection until they reach a hospital. Chapman offers them the first dose for free as a “thank you” for running off Hunt and his cronies, but regretfully informs them that he can’t afford to give away enough doses to get them all the way to River Junction. Nelli is more than willing to hand over the $150 that Chapman asks for a further six doses.

With antibiotics and a near-limitless supply of the hotel’s finest whiskey in hand, McTeef and Bob prep Nelli for surgery in the hotel’s dining room as Eliza keeps watch on the apprehended thugs below the barber shop. An idea suddenly dawns on McTeef: “why just remove the damaged foot, when I can attach a replacement? All we need is a transplant donor, and some of the guards were killed in the tunnels!” He excitedly relays the good news to Nelli, but to his astonishment, Nelli is not so keen to have a size 13 human male foot attached to her felinoid leg. She also shoots down the idea of attaching a foot from the giant robot they defeated outside down. After much debate, Marshul McTeef agrees to merely proceed with the amputation, and obtain a more suitable replacement foot once they reach River Junction. Nellie and McTeef measure out their best reckoning of the maximum amount of whiskey Nelli can drink without causing liver damage, and she drinks until she finally passes out.

McTeef now turns to Apache Bob, and suggests that once Nelli awakens, she will need a crutch so she can walk around. He asks Bob to search the blacksmith shop, general store, or anywhere else he thinks he can find something appropriate. Bob can take his time, McTeef advises, because the surgery will take a while and Nelli won’t be awake until morning. McTeef nonchalantly arranges his surgery implements, peeking over his shoulder occasionally until he is sure Bob is out of sight. The moment he’s alone with Nelli, McTeef springs into action; he grabs his doctor’s bag, races back into the hotel’s kitchen, and disappears down the floor hatch into the tunnels below town. Minutes later, the hatch opens again, and McTeef re-appears. He walks back over to Nelli (who is still laying unconscious on the dining room table), and carefully draws a small bundle from his doctor’s bag. McTeef un-folds the bloody wrappings to expose a scavenged foot. Forgetting completely about the matter of matching blood types, let alone the problems with attaching a human body part to a meta-human recipient, McTeef proceeds with his Frankensteinian operation.

Some time later, Bob returns as McTeef is rinsing his surgical implements and placing them back in his bag. Noticing the probably unwanted newly-attached foot, Bob expresses some misgivings. Unfortunately, McTeef is adamant that the foot stays on, and Bob’s protestations fall on deaf ears. Bob decides to relieve Eliza from guard duty, so Eliza can find a bed in the hotel and get some shut-eye. McTeef, as his reward for what he views as a job well done, takes the large bed in the upstairs suite. Nelli, as her reward for having her foot shot off and replaced with another of questionable appropriateness, is left on the dining room table.

The night passes uneventfully until Nelli wakes up with the morning sun, empties her stomach, screams in pain, and notices a serious problem with her foot: that there IS a foot. Potential complications with tissue rejection occur to Eliza, and she informs her colleagues, but no one seems qualified to deal with the issue. A brief argument passes between Nelli and McTeef, but eventually they both agree there is nothing that can be done about it now; the issue will have to wait until proper medical expertise is available.

The last order of business is to discuss the situation in town with the remaining townsfolk. The consensus amongst the residents is that they certainly fear the possible return of Jerome Hunt and Joker, but they are also not equipped to incarcerate or otherwise deal with the quantity of hired goons remaining in the town. If Hunt and Joker DO return, the townsfolk don’t want to risk the goons being present to assist their antagonists. The marshals decide, then, that they will just have to take the goons with them to be dealt with somewhere else.

Pillaging (with permission) the hotel’s food stores from the tunnels under the hotel, the marshals load up with enough travel provisions for themselves and the prisoners, loading the latter like pack mules for the journey. McTeef insists on examining the large robot on the way out of town. Approaching their camp from the previous evening, they are also suddenly reminded of something they forgot: Sal Early and his remaining gang members are still at the camp, hogtied, sore, cold, thirsty, hungry, and not-too-happy. Regardless, Sal and his gang are given marching orders along with the rest of the prisoners. McTeef eyes over the large robot, which appears to have had its processing centres and gyroscopic stabilizers severely damaged. It twitches faintly, but apparently without any real intelligence or purpose. McTeef grabs his tools, and removes the robot’s industrial flamethrower (and fuel) to take with them.

The marshals, horde of bound hooligans in tow, begin the march back to Fair Play.


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