Disclaimer: I do not own anything Tinman.
"Cain, you go around the back. Madison, I want you to take the left side. Jacobs, you take the right. I'll go through the front door. Wait for my signal." Officer Hancock looked around at the fresh-faced recruits. Young, eager eyes stared back at him. Hancock internally sighed. They kept getting younger and younger. Madison was the oldest at twenty, while Cain was the youngest at seventeen.
Cain peered into the darkness surrounding the lone building. "We should get going, sir." He stated.
The four men were attempting to capture a dangerous gang of thieves known for their less-than-careful methods. Already three people had died during one of their robberies. It was assumed that these robbers were armed and dangerous.
Hancock waved Madison and Jacobs to move out. Cain started moving, but Hancock's hand on his arm stopped him. "Cain, this is not like training. When we hit, we hit them hard. You aren't going to have a chance to think. You need to be prepared to do what it takes."
Cain eyed Hancock angrily before stating, "I know that I'm the youngest out here, and you're a friend of Dad's, but I was the best shot at the Academy, and I got the highest scores during training."
Hancock grimaced. "Your scores are one reason you are out here with me tonight. Everyone thinks you are ready, but there is a world of difference between training and the real deal. I just wanted you to be ready."
"I am ready. So can I go now? Madison and Jacobs are almost in position."
Hancock waved Cain to move out. Hancock's white hair shone briefly in the faint gleam of moonlight. He was worried about tonight. He had tried to convince the brass that three rookies and a old coot like himself were no match for these criminals, but with most of the Tin Men working in Central City, they had decided that Hancock and his new recruits could handle it.
Checking his gun one more time, Hancock crept toward the front of the building.
Cain passed by Madison's position on his way to the back of the building. Briefly, Madison waved him over. "What'd old Hancock want?"
Cain rolled his blue eyes. "Just giving me the "be prepared" speech. Like I didn't get it enough in boot camp. I just wish everyone would lighten up. I can handle this."
Madison grinned. "Yeah, those instructors sure went out of their way to make life hard on you. I thought for sure you would quit after the second week."
Cain began moving off, speaking over his shoulder, "After this, how about you, Jackie, and I meet at the tavern? I hear they got dancin' girls there now. I ain't had my arms wrapped around anything pretty in forever."
Madison responded before slinking back into the shadows, "Only if you're buying."
Cain moved quickly into position at the back of the dark building. As he neared the door, he could make out the rustlings of movement from inside. He pulled his weapon and cocked back the hammer. He breathed slowly and quietly through his nose. After several tense minutes, he heard Hancock's voice call out toward the building.
"Open up in the name of the Law! You are surrounded! Throw out your weapons and come out with your hands up!"
Cain heard chairs scraping across the floor and bodies running into things. He could hear voices, but could not make out what they were saying. A voice called out to the Tin Men, "Don't shoot. I'm throwing out my weapon."
Cain heard the front door open and a quiet thud as something, a weapon he supposed, hit the ground. He heard the voice then say, "We're coming out. Hold your fire."
Cain sighed internally. 'This was going much better than he had thought it would.'
Hancock's voice rang out. "Madison, Jacobs. Come and put cuffs on them. I've got them covered."
Cain waited for Hancock to call for him, but Hancock remained silent about Cain's whereabouts. Suddenly, two shots rang out. A harsh grunt of pain came from the front of the building. Not waiting for Hancock's call, Cain sprang into action.
With his weapon at the ready, he kicked open the door. Deftly, he swept into the room, looking for potential targets. It appeared empty. He moved further into the room, his eyes scanning constantly for trouble. He wanted to rush to the front to check on his friends, but his training stayed the impulse. A flash of darkness in the corner of his eye had Cain whirling to the left and rolling across the floor. He was sure he felt the concussive force of the air as a bullet passed through the space that only an instant before had been occupied by his head.
Without thinking, Cain fired into the black inkiness. Even with his ears ringing, he could still hear the impact of a body hitting the floor. Moving more slowly, Cain worked closer to the front door. Since the initial shots, Cain had heard little from outside. But he wasn't sure if that was because there was no noise or he had just been so consumed by his own battle, he hadn't paid attention.
As he neared the front door, Cain saw a body lying just outside the doorjamb. An unknown man's head was thrown back in its final death throes, blood seeping from the single hole in his forehead. That meant at least two assailants were dead. According to Hancock, there were four members of the gang. That left two more unaccounted for.
Quickly reloading, Cain crept toward the open front door. Cautiously, he peered around into the yard. Two dead bodies lay on the ground. Cain could not see who they were. It could be the robbers, or it could be his fellow TinMen. Panic seeped into his body. He froze, unable to move forward or backward. Fear flashed in his normally placid, cold-blue eyes.
Two figures unexpectedly came into view. The larger man pulled a struggling smaller man in front of him like a shield. His large, beefy arm wrapped around the smaller man's neck, choking him. A gun gleamed in the moonlight as it lay against the victim's head. It was Madison. He was trying to gain the upper hand against the assailant, but the choke hold was too much.
A third form came into Cain's view. Hancock was limping with his gun pointed at the pair. Blood seeped from his shoulder and thigh. Cain heard his voice ring out with authority, but he could hear the pain behind in the words.
"Let him go! You are already in enough trouble as it is. You don't need to add the murder of a Tin Man to the charges. Put down your weapon, now!"
The large man laughed manically as he tightened his hold on Madison. "I don't think so, Old Man. Unless you want to see this boy's brains splattered across this yard, then I suggest you just put your gun down, and walk away." To emphasize his point, the man dug the gun deeper into Madison's temple, whose face revealed the unbridled fear within him.
Cain stood frozen. What should he do? He thought he could probably make the shot and kill the man before he could pull the trigger, but he wasn't sure. Madison's head and the gunman's were practically jammed right up against each other. One tiny slip and Cain could kill Madison with the bullet meant to save him. Is this what he was supposed to do? Shoot the man and save Madison? Let Hancock handle the situation? He was more experienced than Cain. So many options ran through Cain's head.
Hancock knew that Cain was standing in the door, unnoticed by the assailant. However, he had no way of telling Cain what to do without giving away his position. The man was going to kill Madison. He had already killed Jacobs, snapped his neck like a twig before Madison or Hancock could blink. Hancock knew that this man would not surrender; he wanted to push the confrontation as far as he could, and hopefully take out a few Tin Men with him.
Hancock looked into the frightened eyes of Madison. He saw himself so many years ago in the young man's eyes. Madison had so much to live for, a young girl he was thinking about marrying, parents who loved him. Hancock weighed his own life against Madison's. He had lived a good life. He didn't have any family, except his old dog Jeb. Hancock uncocked his gun and raised his hands.
"All right. I'll put the gun down. Just let him go." Hancock placed the gun on the ground and then stood before Madison and the robber, defenseless.
The robber smirked. "I just love stupid Tin Men." He tightened his hold on Madison, and aimed his gun at Hancock. A hoarse shout of "No" was lost in the roar of two gunshots.
Madison fell to the ground, gasping for breath. Blood and gore from the robber covered the right half of his face. Cain's shot had entered the man's temple and blown away the other side of his skull. Cain rushed out toward his friend. He grasped Madison around the shoulders and pulled him upright in a fierce hug.
Cain held Madison's head in his hands, speaking to him. "Maddy, are you alright? Are you hit?"
Madison clung to his friend and shook his head. He rasped, "I'm okay. Throat hurts though. Where's Hancock?"
Cain and Madison turned toward their mentor. Hancock was standing upright a few feet from them. He was staring at them with a faint smile on his face. Wrapping his arm around Madison's back, Cain made his way over to Hancock.
As they neared, Hancock slightly smiled at them. "Good shot Cain. Knew you could make it. Madison, you okay?"
Madison nodded. Cain replied for his friend. "He's okay. Just a bruised throat. Two other assailants are in the building, dead. Third is out front." He paused for a moment and bowed his head. "Jacobs is dead. I don't know how."
Hancock coughed slightly before falling to his knees. Cain and Madison immediately knelt by his side. Blood dribbled from a corner of Hancock's mouth. Cain grasped his mentor's shoulder and laid him back in the dirt. He ripped open the shirt to expose a gaping, bleeding hole.
"Hancock, you're hurt. Just hold on. Madison, go and get the med kit! And get help!" Cain struggled to pull a scarf from around his neck to press on the wound. Madison scampered off to get the med kit.
Hancock wrapped his hand around Cain's tightly. "Ain't no use, son. Knew I was done the minute I put down the gun. Couldn't see any other way to save Madison. Knew you could kill him before he could kill Madison, so I weighed the consequences, and, well…." Hancock coughed deeply, his breathing more labored than before. More blood poured from the wound. Hancock took another halting breath.
Tears shone in Cain's eyes as he struggled to understand. "No, wait Hancock. You'll be okay. Just hang on. You're too damn tough and ornery to die." A sob escaped him. "Please, not because of me. Not because of me."
Hancock shook his head. "I didn't do it because of you. I did it for Madison. He's got so much going, it seemed a shame to see it all go to waste." With great effort, he pulled in one last breath and then lay still.
Cain bowed his head in pain. Madison came running up with the med kit. "Here it is….Is he?"
Cain shook his head and replied, "Yeah. It was just too much damage. He didn't make it."
Madison stumbled to the ground and lowered his head. "Damn. He was a good man."
"Yeah. We better get things cleaned up around here and contact headquarters. There's going to be an investigation. Hey," Cain questioned his friend, "did you kill the other perpetrator, you know the one inside the door?"
Madison sheepishly cocked one blond eyebrow up. "No. Jacobs got that one, and Hancock got the one outside." He shrugged one shoulder. "I kinda lost my gun when I fell."
In spite of the gravity of the situation, Cain couldn't help but grin at his friend's misfortune. "So, you mean to tell me it's Hancock – one, Jacobs –one, Cain – two, and Madison– Zero? I can't wait for the guys at headquarters to hear about this."
Cain rose up and held out his hand to his chagrined friend. "We better get going. Come on, Zero."