"Well then," Small Bloke blew his cheeks out, "What now?"
The Bolter pursed his lips and bent over the post, pulling it smartly out of the ground. "Go get that one over there, just give it a twist."
The Big Bugger twisted it and it fell to the ground, the wire fence creaking in protest.
"No I meant, what are we going to do about your... associates?"
"Well, the way it looks to me," The Bolter said pulling his rifle down and motioned for the two men to follow him, "We can kill them, or tie them all up. ‘M none too fussed. Do you have any preference?"
"You're a cold bastard aren't you?" Big Bugger said under his breath.
"I'm done with this fucking place," he replied not looking at either of them. "Pardon my language."
"If we kill them all they'll know you got away," Small Bloke said slowly. "They'll suspect you did it." The wheels in his mind were working quickly, this jackaroo was giving them a beautiful path to get away scot free.
"Well that could be useful for you lot, I suppose." The Bolter said flatly. The unemotional tone in his voice made Big Bugger's hair stand on the back of his neck. "Or I could dress another bloke in my clobber and nick his gear. Have him wear it?"
"That works as well," Small Bloke nodded, happy they wouldn't have to tangle too early with this cold blooded bastard. Something about the Bolter unnerved him, not an easily accomplished feat.
"Where are your mates?" The Bolter asked stopping at the top of the hill from the jackaroos camp.
"They'll be along in a minute. How many other hands you have on deck down there?" Small Bloke said, crouching down.
"Just five, including I," The Bolter said, joining the small fella. Big Bugger kept standing until Small Bloke grabbed his hand and yanked him to the ground.
The three men waited around for another half an hour waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive. In that time the jackaroos killed the camp fire and hit their swags hard. It had been a long day, The Bolter was beginning to regret not just shooting these two jokers on sight and getting some sleep.
"Not much gold to be found down around Ballarat these days," Small Bloke said.
"What do you mean?" The Bolter wanted to know.
"Well most of the fair dinkum has been pulled up. The bloody nuggets are all owned these days, big mining companies paying blokes peanuts to yank it for them."
The Bolter hadn't considered there wouldn't be much opportunity, the gold rush he'd heard of and dreamed of were from his younger days. Hearing the old mates at the station speaking fondly, longingly about going there.
"So much for the land of plenty," he said under his breath.
"You could ride with us for a while," Small Bloke said, unenthusiastically.
"My band of merry travellers, larrikins all. We ride out of Blackstump. Heard of us?"
The Bolter had, but had never thought much of them. Not because of their reputation for murdering, but because of their reputation for being a bunch of mongrel bastards who rape women and kill children. The Bolter might not blink at the idea of killing some jackaroos and skipping town for greener pastures, but women and children were another matter unto themselves.
"No ta." He said tersely, thinking of watching his back a bit closer now that he knew who these blokes were.
"Somehow I didn't think so."
The Bolter stood up suddenly, pulling a large knife out of his belt and started down the hill.
"Oi! Where are you going?!" Big Bugger whispered frantically.
"I'm jack of this mate, go find your lads and get them down here. We can't hang around like bats all night."
Small Bloke and Big Bugger looked at each other and shrugged, deciding to just let him do all the heavy lifting. They went off to find their crew.
They'd been held up at a creek. One of their horses had cracked it's fetlock going over some pebbles, and they were trying to figure out if it was worth riding it or putting it down. When the two men came upon them, they told them of The Bolter and their new plan. The infamous Blackstump Bushrangers were pleased to hear they wouldn't need to worry about being a horse down, so they put some lead into the equine's long face and set off to meet this interesting sounding Bolter.
When they found him, he was wearing a beautiful long-sleeved all-weather duster, black rabbit fur and calfskin gloves, neat looking riding boots and a very fine looking wide brimmed hat. On his shoulder he carried a polished new rifle. A single action six shooter rested in a holster on his hip, bandoliers shining gaudily in the moonlight. There was only a little bit of blood on his new found gear.
"What happened to the poor bastard who owned all that finery then, eh?" Small Bloke asked him.
"Had to wake him up from his beauty sleep, get him to undress, stick my gear on, then I had to mess up his face so they'd think he was me. He was a prick, if that makes you feel better. You blokes ready? I want to be well shot of this place before sparrows fart." He sounded impatient.
The two bushrangers he'd met earlier that night eyed him warily, frightened. The other members of the Blackstump Bushrangers looked impressed as they went through the camp. All the other jackaroos had had their throats slit or had been shot in the face, so they couldn't be recognised.
"Take whatever you lot want. It'll all just go to waste otherwise," The Bolter said.
"Why's that?" asked one of the bushies.
"I'm going to torch their clobber."
After they'd picked out any useful items worthy of the moniker, the bushies went off to get new, fresh, watered and fed horses that waited around a ways from the camp. Soon the air was rife with the sound of un-happy cattle being driven up the hill.
The Bolter smiled to himself as he doused the place with kero from their lamps and dashed one on the ground, sparking and catching fire quickly.
He was finally free of his shackles, and the world awaited his grand entrance.