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Thread: Last Stand of the Ironclads

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses

    Default Last Stand of the Ironclads

    Every party is different. Some parties would have their mood dampened by somebody picking up the fish fork instead of the salad fork. Others would be ruined by somebody vomiting brandy and whiskey all over the floor. It stands to reason then, that what is capable of ruining the party can define the nature of the party. And when the Kelly Gang dragged a kidnapped policeman into the Glenrowan Hotel, the revelry was slightly muted.

    After shoving Constable Bracken to the floor, Ned sensed the disquiet in the pub. The crowd was drunk, and well-fed, but had finally seen their futures. The police would arrive, with rifle and shotguns, and the rebels would face them, with rifle and shotguns, and many people would die between them. For the unarmed civilian, there was little hope not to be caught between the two forces. Those sympathetic to the Kelly Gang finally realised that this was no longer the part-time outlet for striking out at the British rule they had once been so proud of, now their very lives were at stake. The police would arrive, and they would not care in the slightest for the "hostages" within the pub ; they would riddle the place with balls and shot until even the horses stabled at the back were torn into mince.

    For those unsympathetic, the fear was doubled. They knew as well as any rebel that the police were brutal, ruthless, uncaring of the innocent lives that may be lost in the battle. They had also heard of the ruthless and murderous Kelly Gang, and feared a summary execution on the unsanded floorboards of the Glenrowan Hotel at any moment.

    Ned turned to his Lieutenant, and dearest friend, Joe Byrne, to see he had already been pushed onto a barstool and was being voluntarily mauled by the publican's daughter, Jane Jones.

    "Jenny, m'dear, would ye sing us a song?"

    Jane withdrew her tongue from Joe's mouth, blushing, and shook her head coyly.

    "Nay sir, I've not the voice for it. But me brother can shame a nightingale, he can."

    Jack Jones was a sickly child, thirteen years of age now, but still looking no more than ten and yet to reach puberty. In the harsh environment of Greta and Glenrowan, he was teased and bullied mercilessly for his physical shortcomings, but he had one talent that put the hamlet to shame, and that was his angelic voice. Trying to hide the smile that rushed to his lips at the prospect of performing in front of such a crowd as the Kelly Gang and their 'hostages', he stood and began one of the rebel songs of the Irish-Australian bushrangers.

    "There was a wild colonial boy,
    Jack Doolan was his name,
    Of poor but honest parents,
    He was born in Castlemaine"

    Ned couldn't help but notice the layer of sweat coating Joe, and worried for a minute that his orders had been ignored.

    "Y've got the guns and ammo?"
    "The chinese rockets?"

    "They put him in an iron gang
    In the government's employ
    But nary an iron on earth could hold
    The wild colonial boy"

    "The men are ready to take up arms?"
    "You took care of... that informant, didn't ye?"
    "THAT informant was one of me dearest friends, and ye'll have the good grace to refer to him by the name his mother gave him!"

    "So come ye now me hearties,
    We'll roam the mountains high
    Together we will plunder,
    And together we will die"

    "Aye... Aaron Sherritt... did ye...?"
    "Aye, he's a dingo's dinner now"
    "And the railway tracks?"
    "They're torn up good and proper. The special convoy o' police'll be gettin quite the nasty surprise."

    "Three mounted troopers came along
    Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy
    With a warrent for the capture of
    The wild colonial boy"

    "Ye've... ye've not been drinkin', have ye Joe?"
    "Do ye not see the fucking film of sweat on me fucking face? Of course I've not been drinking"

    "Surrender now, Jack Doolan,
    You see it's three to one,
    Surrender in the Queen's own name
    For the plunderin' deeds you've done"

    Ned was offended by the gross profanties Joe had uttered, and in front of women (women!), but he could see the pain and fear in Joe's eyes and knew not to complicate it.

    "Jack drew his pistol from his belt,
    And waved it like a toy,
    I'll fight but not surrender,
    Cried the wild colonial boy"

    "I told ye this would be the death of us"
    muttered Joe
    "Aye, and can ye wait till death for your next drink and willing woman?"

    Joe shot Ned an evil glare, while Jane glared protectively.

    "And shattered through the jaws he lay
    Still firing at Fitzroy
    And that's the way they murdered him
    The wild colonial boy"

    As the revellers clapped and cheered, little Jack Jones started another song, 'Colleen das cruitha na mo', the last song he'd sing in his short life.

    (to be continued, please don't comment here until it's done, I'm on a borrowed computer and can't save documents)
    Last edited by Sin Studly; 04-05-2006 at 01:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    useless information

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses


    Ned paced nervoursly as Jack sang, worrying all the while. He had never wanted this, never wanted to be the spark of revolution, the one man who others looked up to, saw as a messiah. All he wanted was a life, a family, he wasn't afraid to work hard splitting timbers, but... what life was there for an Irishman in Victoria, an Irishman from so criminal a background as he? A family that is forced to surrender one of its members to three months without bail in Beechworth whenever a head of livestock goes missing, and unweaned infants be damned. A family that sees the police bursting through their homestead regularly, the burly troopers breaking dishes and smashing the milk bottles and aiming their pistols at the womenfolk like big hulking cowards. No, decided Ned, this might not have the life he wanted for himself, but it was the uncaring government and the sadistic police who forced him into it. In a higher court, he knew, he would be aquitted of all the killings and robberies he had committed.

    But he worried too, about the crowd. Already the haunting, melancholy Gaelic song was bringing the mood down, taking away from the crowd that boisterous and cheerful readiness for blood and violence so representative of the Irish, that rough and rowdy form of merrymaking where the promise of a bursted mouth or broken jaw or even an armed insurrection against the State simmered over the proceedings. Ah, the Irish. Ned's people. Ready for anything, he mused, yet prepared for nothing. He could see the drunken wistfulness in the eyes of the hundred men and women around him, could see the centuries of British oppression was fading from their collective memories ; taken over by nothing more than a simple Irish ditty about a pretty girl milking a cow. They were not fighters. They were farmers, blacksmiths, cockies, splitters, merchants ; brawlers perhaps, some of them, but how would they react when the balls and shot were thicker inside the room than locusts in the wheatfields in mid-January? It didn't matter though, they were not to be the partisan insurrectionaries. They were there as hostages, in what might be a vain attempt to garner some form of discretion from the troopers.

    The warriors were amassed in the bush, armed, willing, and awaiting the signal ; the detonation of the two chinese rockets, a brilliant explosion of green in the night sky. They would march to the Hotel, to proudly erect the flag of the Diggers Republic, a new nation ; free of British rule. But it all hinged on the success of Ned's other plan, the darker plan, the plan he wanted them to have no part of. Soon, the special police convoy would be arriving from Benella, filled to the brim with armed troopers. And this monstrous iron machine, it would hit the ruined rails and capsize, and its human cargo would be dashed against the interior, this way and that, amidst screams and splintering of bones. And as the troopers, sickened and suffering, attempted to regain their bearings, their worlds would be shaken again in a maelstrom of fire and force and white-hot shrapnel as the fused barrels of black powder were rolled down the embarkment to rest against the ruined body of the iron beast. And for those who survived, deafened, injured, maimed, they would be picked apart by the balls and shot of the Gang as they clawed themselves free of the burning wreckage. It was more than a desperate flailing out against the police in an attempt to flee, it was a deliberate and premeditated strike against those in the government's employ, wholesale slaughter of the Knights of the Realm. It was revolution.

    "It's time," said Ned.

    The Gang walked to the storage room of the Hotel, where Ned helped Joe into his armour as Steve attended to Dan. The four pieces were painstakingly beaten togeter, scavenged from donated and stolen ploughblades. Like many rebellions throughout history, the Gang had turned the tools of farmers into weapons to use against the State, like the thousands of partisans before them who beat their hoes and ploughs into swords and axeheads. The armour was massive, weighing over a hundredweight, and built in the style of the fuedal Chinese. A huge breastplate and backplate for each, with shoulderguards and a low-hanging flap to protect the groin and thighs, with immense helmets with narrow eye-slits, in the style of the European Crusaders. Outfitted as they were, like medieval warriors, they slung their rifles and shotguns across their shoulders and walked back to the main room.

    "It's time" Ned said again, "Doolan, O'Shaunessy, McLaughlin..." Ned picked out twenty-one of the hostages, those with families, and who were loyal to the cause and would not alert the authorities. "Ye'd best go on home now, tomorrow ye can pay your taxes directly to me". They grinned, nodded sycophanticly, some made unconvicing arguments to stay. But they were all glad to be gone from the deathtrap the Glenrowan Hotel had become. He raised his voice, speaking to both the men, women and children about to leave, and those who had to stay.

    "And if any of ye whisper but a word of this to the authorities, I'll shoot ye down like dogs, understand?"

    Ned reconsidered, glancing at Constable Bracken.

    "To be sure, I don't mind an honest policeman who's just tryin to get his job done.... so long as he isn't tryin TOO hard"

    "I'm only trying to make an honest living, how do you think ; if YOU were an honest man, you would be able to survive without the police?" spat out the glaring and defeated Bracken.

    "Oh, and I'm not an honest man then?"

    "I'll be DAMNED if you are!"

    Ned burst into laughter, followed by the rest of the crowd, while Dan and Joe stared sullenly into the dark. Into the unknown, where the dice would be thrown with their lives on the betting table. As they stepped out of the warmth of the pub and into the blackness of the bush, Ned turned to Joe, his closest friend.

    "If I didn't know better, mate, I'd think ye were a little scared"
    "A little scared? Perish the thought. It's only a few hundred policemen we're about to fight. I'm so confident I've near shit me bloody trousers"

    The four men laughed, then stopped to watch the rockets of rebellion soaring into the night sky and exploding, lighting up the bush in a luminuos and eerie shade of green. Highlighted in the desolate bush, Ned and Dan both saw it. About a dozen of them, on horseback, riding hard towards him. Desperately trying to convince himself it might be the rebels, Dan stared hopefully at Ned.

    "Fate would be a fine bugger, Dan. Nay, it's the bloody police. Somehow the bastards are already here!"

    Ned unslung his revolving rifle and fired the first shot, bringing the leading horseman to the ground, and within an instant the police opened fire in a tremendous fullisade, filling the air with lead and splintering wood and tin walls of the Hotel behind him.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    And further, please tell what was further?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses


    For hours they had fired shots into the armoured plates. The iron would buckle slightly, but not break. It was reassuring at the time, but a whole different matter when facing a full volley of shot at less than one hundred yards. Each of the men suffered in the hailstorm of lead, as the enormous force of the bullets battered and staggered them through their protective shields. But still their arms and legs were so exposed, so naked to the penetrating force of the metal ripping through the air around them.

    "Shoot! Shoot, ye bloody dogs! Ye can't hurt me!"

    But they could. Ned was hit, and hit badly. A massive .45 calibre ball struck him in his crooked left arm as he levelled his rifle at the police, ploughing a gruesome flesh tunnel through his forearm, exiting, and ripping an identical burrow through his upper arm, splintering bone and tearing veins asunder as it tumbled and spun through his body. Joe also recieved a crippling wound, the bone of his right leg shattered into pieces by the smashing force of another Martini Henry bullet.

    Only Dan and Steve escaped serious injury as they staggered back into the relative safety of the Hotel, despite being bruised and beaten from shots that bounced off their armour. And inside the pub, there was little sanctuary to offer, save that the police could not aim specifically for them. But the corrugated tin was nothing to stop a bullet, and the police had thousands to spare. Carpeting the floor were the terrified supporters of the Kellys, those who had come thinking that their presence would force the police to negotiate, those who had come hoping for the same ; but too cynical and worldweary to ever believe it. And then there were those who were simply caught at the wrong place, at the wrong time. All now lied prostate on the boards of the hotel, as hundreds of angry metal wasps filled the air above them with incessant buzzing. The tin walls yielded to each shot with the sound of corn popping, the wooden skeleton of the Hotel splintered and tore with each bullet that found it, and the smashing and scattering of glass bottles and windows never seemed to cease. A shriek of uncontrollable pain and fear added itself to the crescendo as the young singer, Jack Jones, was struck in the hip, the bullet driving itself deep into his gut. His voice, which had entertained and soothed the Glenroweners before the siege, would now nausiate and horrify them for the rest of the siege, as he struggled to cling onto life. It was a struggle he would ultimately lose.

    Ned glanced at the four ugly wounds that had been driven through him, two entry wounds, two exit wounds, all bleeding steadily. He tried to flex his arm, and found it near-totally unresponsive. He glanced around desperately, seeing a man struck down, shot in the eye (just like... but no time for that), before spotting Joe, sitting against the back wall, his face ashen and jaws clenched in pain. At a lull in the police firing, there was a mad rush for the front doors.

    "Don't shoot! We're women and children!"

    Ned swore he could have seen Joe smiling bitterly in the darkness as the hostages attempting to surrender themselves to the police were greeted with another fullisade, and echoed with more screaming.

    "That ye, Ned? Come over here"
    "Come here be damned. What are ye doing over there anywhere? Come up here and load me rifle."

    Joe grimaced and shook his head.

    "Can't do it, Ned old mate. I think me leg's broke"
    "Leg be damned, ye've still got your arms. Load me bloody rifle, I'll pink the buggers!"

    Ned crouched beside Joe and waited as he started fitting the percussion nipples to the revolving rifle for his best friend. Halfway through, Joe looked up with bitter accusation in his eyes, yet still a lighthearted tone to his voice.

    "Two cripples and two boys against the Victorian Police. We should've warned them to bring the New South Wales troopers down, to give them a sporting chance"

    Ned stared at the blood pouring from his arm, at the dead bodies on the ground and at the Jones boy screaming and writhing in agony, as Joe's sarcastic words bit deep into him. A tear welled in each eye.

    "Aye, Joe... I... I'm afraid we've really had the luck of the Irish tonight"
    "Aye. And it's your fault.

    The lightheartedness was gone now. Ned bit back the hurt as he took his rifle and walked to the back door, slipping into the night. His only chance to minimise the disaster was to intercept the approaching rebels. A lone policeman fired at him, and Ned returned the favour immediately, half-emptying his rifle. Limping now, as the blood loss began to impair his motor functions and gave him the feeling of being somewhat drunk, he staggered into the Victorian fog and out of the sight of the police.

    Finding his grey mare in the paddock he had left it in, it took a heroic effort simply to lift his iron-weighted body into the saddle, even using the paddock fence as a step-up. Ned knew what he had to do to salvage a small measure of victory from the bloodbath, and rode determinedly into the night.
    Last edited by Sin Studly; 04-09-2006 at 02:59 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses


    "Turn back, and go to your homes."
    "I... I don't understand."

    Ned, pale and sweating, stared down at the bewildered Tom Lloyd.

    "There'll be no revolution today. We've already lost. Someone must have warned the police, they were on us before the train even arrived, and no doubt the train was stopped before it reached the bend."
    "So what? There are two hundred of us, two hundred diggers and two hundred guns. We'll still be able to put up a fight"

    Could they win? It was possible. Anything was possible. But at the cost of how many more lives? Ned knew what it was like to shoot a man down, but to be responsible for carnage like he saw at the Hotel dwarfed it in comparison. To see those good men and women shot down, to hear the screams of little Jack Jones.. no, he couldn't make two hundred widows, three hundred orphans, not in one night.

    "Go back to your homes. I'll call on ye when we're ready. We'll unfurl the flag o' the Digger's Republic yet, don't ye worry. But this is a fight of me own doing, and I am prepared to die alone by me own doing. Ye've no place in this,"

    As the last of the rebels faded back into the bush, Ned turned and sighed. He could barely keep his eyes open now, and blackness was fast encroaching at the outer edges of his vision. Spurring his mare back towards the Hotel, he slid out of the saddle and collapsed in a metallic heap on the ground.

    Joe shivered in pain on the Hotel floor, staring at the shattered and decimated remains of the front bar. Dan and Steve, cowering beside the brick fireplace were truly broken. Dan was struck with terror, his jaws grinding and twitching, yet still attempting to make a show of bravery for his best friend. Steve, on the other hand, was reduced nearly to hysteria, whimpering and sobbing in terror. Joe would not have been suprised if he had fouled himself under his armour. It didn't matter, though. Not even the screaming of the Jones boy mattered. What mattered was behind the bar.

    Ned struggled to his knees, staring at the blood pouring from him. It must have been an hour since he was shot, and the blood had not stopped. He threw his rifle aside, its mechanisms completely clogged and ruined with his own spilt blood, and pulled off his helmet. Upturning the woolen cap inside, he began to let his blood pour into it. When it filled, he knew, he would be dead. A human being can only carry so much blood in his body.

    Behind the bar. Whiskey. Rum. Gin. Brandy. That was the key, the secret. A glass of whiskey, and his broken leg would stop hurting. The Jones boy would live. Dan and Steve would take up arms, and together they would shoot down every last one of the murdering police bastards like the cowardly dogs they were. But first, a drink.

    The blood had filled the cap. It had filled the cap, and he wasn't dead yet. And it was still pouring from his arm, it hadn't even begun to clot. Resigned, Ned fixed his helmet back on. If he wasn't dead, he would have to go back to the Hotel. He would have to go back and rescue the rest of the Kelly Gang.

    The pain built up in Joe for what seemed like days, but couldn't be more than two hours. The pain of his leg, throbbing worse and worse, the pain of watching the two wretches he had called brothers act like useless weeping women, the pain of seeing his hopes and dreams of riding forever with Ned, his friend, his hero, cut down in a brutal swarm of police bullets. But the worst pain was knowing that Ned had abandoned him. It had been too long already, and the rebels weren't there. Gritting himself against the pain, he struggled to his feet, and staggered to the bar, even as the bullets flew around him. A shot struck into his chest and staggered him back, forcing him awkwardly onto his broken leg, and causing the two ends of the bone to grind visciously together. Tears streaming down his face, he continued his silent struggle to reach the bar.

    Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, all the whiskey bottles were shot, and the gin wasn't worth drinking. He limped over to pluck out a glass and a bottle of Cape Brandy, pouring himself a generous slog. As he raised it to his lips, he saw a massive figure appear in the doorway. Cynical and defeated, he recognised it as Ned, but knew it couldn't be. Ned was a dozen miles away by now, riding for his life. What he saw was just a mirage, a hallucination brought on by the pain of his leg and his lack of drink. But the figure didn't disappear.

    With a start, Joe realised he had been right. The drink would save him. It would bring Ned back, and the police would be defeated. He had won, all that remained was to go about the droll and tedious labour of showing the police they had been defeated.

    "Ned!", he raised his glass "To many more years in the bush for the Kelly Gang!"

    Joe never felt the bullet that killed him, the bullet that ripped through the wall of the pub and slipped past the gap in his armour. The bullet that sunk deep into his groin, exploding the massive arteries within, and ripping a deep channel for his blood to escape in gouts of unimaginable volume. The glass of brandy, untouched by his lips, shattered against the floor, before the mighty ironclad toppled backwards to join it there. Knowing he was dying, he strained to catch a word from Ned, anything, one last word or sound or cough to sweeten his passage to Hell, the Hell he always knew he was condemned to for his life of drunkeness and debauchery. But all he ever heard was his own blood, gushing out in steaming fountains onto the sawdust and pine. He closed his eyes and let the sound of it remind him of the small creek behind his parents house, where he would escape to for hours when his father was too drunk and violent to be around, where he kissed his first pretty girl.

    But in his mind the creek was red with blood, and the pretty girl was Ned Kelly.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses


    Ned stared down at Dan and Steve, his harsh mask of contempt and disdain hidden by his crusader's helmet.

    "My best friend is dead. It's time to go"

    Without a look back, he strode to the back door, through the scullery where he entered, and walked into the mist. A few rifles shot out at him, but they missed their mark in the impregnable Victorian fog, and all it took was a few pistol shots to send the policemen back to their cover, their faces pressed against the cold dirt.

    "Come on, boys, we're almost out"

    Ned staggered the hundred metres through the forest, to the paddock where his mare, and Dan's and Steve's (and Joe's) were hobbled. He struggled to mount Music, his beloved steed, while shouting a few words of encouragement to the lagging boys ; more to keep himself from passing into unconciousness than out of any sympathy towards them. When the die were thrown, they had failed.

    He reached the meetingplace of the rebels, to see Tom Lloyd still there, standing alone. Dismounting with great difficulty, he staggered up to him.

    "We're out, we've cleared. Me arm's shot bad, it'll wither and die most likely. I think the boys are shot too. Can ye at least hide them till they recover?"

    "Aye. But where are they?"

    Ned turned, and felt as though his stomach had dropped ten feet. Dan and Steve weren't there, they hadn't cleared the police cordon. In fact, they never tried to leave the bloody pub

    Steve lay trembling, Dan's arm around his metal breast and back. He thought back to his childhood, as the small weedy boy who Dan had befriended and defended, then his early adulthood as a jockey at the Greta and Benella races, and wondered again why the hell he had gotten into this mess. It was Ned and Dan who were the outlaws, wanted by the police, and that psychopath Joe Byrne had gone along with anything they wanted, out of his mad devotion to Ned. But why had he, Steve Hart, gone along with it? Surely it wasn't out of devotion to Dan, no. It was out of something far more compelling and insidious. Guilt, and debt.

    Ned turned to Tom.

    "I'll have to go back for them, then"
    "Are ye bloody insane? Ye cleared twice, and got back in once. The police will have consolidated by now, ye have no chance"
    "It doesn't matter"
    "At least let me bring back the mob, alone you're done for, with us behind you, we can still turn this thing around"
    "No! I'll not be responsible for any more deaths, Tom. I thought ye understood that?"

    The Glenroweners had all escaped by now. In staggered groups, or one by one, they had all rushed outside to plead mercy from the police. Some were greeted by shots, others with shouts to clear the area. Even the dying carcass of the Jones' boy ; still screaming and frothing blood from the mouth ; had been dragged out. of Dan and Steve were now alone in the Glenrowan Hotel. Alone with the corpse of Joe Byrne, and men they did not recognise, who had been shot dead by the police fire.

    "Just load me guns for me, Tom"
    "You're bloody insane, Ned!"
    "Aye, and will ye argue with a crazy man?"

    Another volley ripped through the walls of the pub, and Steve lost the last vestiges of self-control. Tearing at Dan through his armour, he sobbed and screamed.

    "What are we going to do, Dan??? What the bloody hell are we going to do now?"

    What could they do? There were the equally unappealing choices of greeting the police with guns drawn, going out in a blaze of glory ; having pieces of their bodies chipped and torn ; blown and scattered into the bush, riddled until they were naught but animated gore. It would be better if they took off their armour for that. Or they could surrender, submit to a month or two (or three or four...) of police brutality and interrogation, before meeting the only fate left for them in police hands ; that greasy hempen noose. But Dan knew there was a third option. Fingering the paper envelope of strychnine in his pocket, he stared lifelessly at Steve.

    "What shall we do? I'll tell ye directly."

    Tom finished fitting the percussion nipples to the last of Ned's handguns, and pushed it into his belt. Throwing the thick oilskin coat over his armour, he stood back.

    "Are ye sure, Ned?"
    "Aye. Leave me alone now, Tom. Ye've done yer part."

    Tom crossed himself, and began the long walk home, wishing he could have done more.

    Ned took two steps towards Music, then faltered. His brain could no longer make connections, no longer think. His arms and legs refused to obey him. His face was numb, his limbs numb, and now he could even feel his heartbeat slowing. Unfeeling, he collapsed into the grass like a felled oak, his metal carapace ringing out into the unhearing bush.

    With a dose of the toxin in each of their bellies, Dan and Ned stared at each other, their armour removed. The barrel of Steve's revolver pushed hard into Dan's ribs, over his heart, and his own revolver's barrel was deep in the mouth of his best friend.


    Why did it have to end like this? How could it have come to this? Dan could think of a million things, a million things he could have done in his life to avoid this fate.


    One second. One second of life left, and Christ be damned if it wasn't his longest second ever. But no matter how long it was, it had to end. And when it ended... what then?

    Last edited by Sin Studly; 04-10-2006 at 11:35 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    Please tell further!!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    City of Corpses


    You really aren't gonna like the ending, Tanichka.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    Are they all going to die?

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