Just as Vyrim had hoped, a bright burst of flame followed Calamity Djinn’s attempt to squeeze more valuables out of Muntz, with the pyromancer lashing out with a double-fisted helping of incendiary rage. The put-upon curtains enkindled again, sparks flew in every direction, and many other flammable things began to smolder.

Missiles O’Houlihan, the bandit magician with magical bullets at her fingertips, turned and pelted them at Muntz; the missiles went wild and seemed to hit everything in the car but the young man.

Passengers began to flee the scene, running through the connector to the next car. Brutus attempted to stop them with sheer bulk, but was rudely shoved aside after only half-hearted, high-pitched protests.

Perhaps realizing, sanely, that the best thing to do in the melee was to keep an eye on the only people present who had surrendered their irons, the bony maiden, Skeletonia, approached them with her long bayonet. “Don’t do anything rash now, you hear?” she said.

Crucially, she didn’t notice that Vyrim’s empty sleeve had changed sides.

“Skeletonia!” cried the elf in black, Doc Points, from the front of the car. Torn between keeping the stampeding passengers where they sat and keeping the bag of loot in his hand, he was being jostled left and right, and his whispered spells of pain and binding were misfiring, paining the floorboards and binding the curtain rods. “Help!”

The skeleton looked away for a moment, and that was all the time Vyrim needed. He cast open his long conductor’s coat, holding the coach gun at arm’s length the only way he could. When Skeletonia looked back, she stared right into the muzzle. With an audible sigh, she simply allowed herself to collapse into an inert heap of bones rather than be riddled with birdshot.

“Everybody, GET DOWN!” Vyrim shouted. As the passengers complied, he leveled the gun and pulled the trigger. It kicked like a mule, but the birdshot found its mark: Missiles O’Houlihan yelped in pain and fell the the ground, moaning, with her tattered finery in shreds. It wasn’t a fatal wound, not at this distance and with the shot Valley Union used, but she was out of the fight.

As the remaining passengers tried to flee–Muntz among them, leaving his blazes to fan unattended–Calamity Djinn and her gang took cover in their now-empty seats and began to return fire. Vyrim ducked and rolled behind a seat himself, just like he had in his old infantry days. John scooped up the derringer from the ground, while Bill took back his coach gun. The Valley Union men also pulled the alarm and kicked open their case, spilling out a great load of additional birdshot ready to deliver a stinging rebuke to the bandits.

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