The Coffee Nebula Board is for the discussion of Star Trek: Voyager and other sci-fi/cult shows. This is its Archive of episode discussions, top ten lists, fan fiction, and other miscellaneous musings.


The Trailboss

The Trailboss (Part 1)
Terry — 24 Sep 1998, 6:37 PM

Miss Kate paced up and down the parlor like a caged cat, slapping her thigh with her riding crop and glaring out the picture window on every pass. "Where is that man? What can keeping him?" At last, her pacing stopped. She had spotted a figure riding up to the ranchhouse. As the rider and mount smashed into the front hitching post, she nodded in satisfaction.

Kate quickly composed herself and seated herself in the master's chair. It was a large throne-like chair at the parlor's center. She faced the fireplace as if studying the large portrait of Mark Janeway above the mantelpiece. In an attempt to appear calm and collected, she casually picked up her lucky cup and slowly sipped the coffee. *Damn! It's gotten cold!*

She heard the sound of the front door opening followed by the voice of Ayala greeting the returning foreman. A moment later, Chakotay entered the parlor and strode over to where she sat in state. "Miss Kate."

Finally, she turned to gaze at him. "Mister Torres. Report!"

"The roundup of the herd is 'bout done. We bought enuff beans, flour, bacon, and coffee fer fifty men for six weeks. The supplies are packed on the new wagons 'long with the spare gear and the water barrels. An' the draft horses and spare mounts are ready too. We can move out at first light."

"Excellent. But why rations for fifty hands? I told you that we were leaving Dalby and twenty men to keep the lid on things. We can't afford to leave the Delta Q unguarded with the Kazon on the warpath and Lady Templeton still lurking about."

"Well, Miss Kate, it be like this. You know I kin ride and rope and shoot with the best of 'em." Miss Kate quickly smothered a laugh and nodded in solemn agreement. "And I got the respeck of all the men here. But driving a herd takes special skills and s'perience that me and none of the men got."

"Are you suggesting that we call the drive off? Because if you are ...."

"No, no, Miss Kate. As I were 'bout to tell you, it's just that I reckon thar's someone a mite better to boss the drive. Someone who I just found with a heap more experience than me."

"And who might that be?"

The Trailboss (Part 2)
Terry — 24 Sep 1998, 8:01 PM

(BTW, The Trailboss follows Crisis at the Delta Q)

Miss Kate and her foreman walked through the ornate entrance of Quark's Saloon. Kate disdainfully took in the sights and smells of the gaudy casino and bar with its assortment of saloon girls, saddle tramps, tinhorns, local floozies, and town drunks. But Chakotay drew her over to the far wall where Quark supplied rooms for those with need for privacy (and enough money to pay for it).

Chakotay lead Miss Kate to the second room and swept back the curtain. Barely visible through the thick haze of cigar smoke were three rough-looking cowhands, two women and a man. They were playing poker around the small room's table and apparently doing some serious drinking. None of the three even looked up but the man growled, "Get lost. This is a private game." Chakotay stepped forward and spoke to the intense woman seated on the far side of the table, "Mary, I think that we might have a job for you and your crew."

Their game and whiskey suddenly forgotten, the players stared intently at Chakotay and his companion. The second woman eagerly inquired, "What kind of job? Where --" She abruptly fell silent at a sharp look from the first woman.

Miss Kate took advantage of this lull to examine the three closely. The man was slim and friendly-looking, not much different from any other cowboy. Maybe more intelligent than most. Opposite him sat the woman just silenced. She was an attractive woman dressed all in black: black Stetson hat, black cotton shirt, black belt, black jeans, even black boots. Only a fine tracery of silver on her boots and belt lightened her dark outfit. But the woman in the center soon drew and held Kate's full attention. The one Chakotay had called 'Mary'.

Mary was a very thin woman of medium height. Her wavy brown hair was long and loose. She wore the common working clothes of a simple cowhand and a pair of wire-framed glasses. But there was nothing common about the woman's brown eyes; they burned with great intensity from behind those spectacles. Miss Kate immediately knew that Chakotay's friend was a woman to be reckoned with. Just as Miss Kate decided to take charge of the situation, Mary finally spoke.

"Sit down, Chakotay and tell us all about it. And your friend, too."

"Miss Kate, this is Mary Whippen from Hollywood, California. Mary, this here is Miss Kate Janeway, owner of the Delta Q ranch."

"Miss Kate, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Of course, I've heard about you and your ranch." Miss Kate and Miss Mary shook hands. Kate and Chakotay then took seats opposite Mary at the table. "These two are friends of mine." Placing her right hand on the man's sleeve, "Stark." And nodding towards the woman on her left, "And Griff."

The Trailboss (Part 3)
Terry — 24 Sep 1998, 8:23 PM

"Miss Mary. Let's get right down to business. Mr. Torres has informed me that you and your friends are looking for work. It so happens that I am willing to hire some experienced cowhands. With the right kind of experience."

"We're no ordinary cowhands. I'm the best trailboss in the West and my crew are all top hands. We are not interested in any low-paying work riding line and mending wire."

"Come now, Miss Mary. I happen to know that you are desperate for work. You have run your bill up so high that every merchant in town has refused you any more credit." Kate deliberately brought her gaze down to the poker pot consisting of only nickels and dimes. Mary flushed with anger at this comment. But before she could retort, Miss Kate continued, "But there is no need for disagreement. The work that I offer is driving cattle. All the way to Federation City, in fact. In six weeks or less."

Mary paused to absorb the surprising offer. But only for a moment before asking, "A rush job to Federation City? My asking price for such a dangerous task as that could be no less than $5000 for me and $500 for each of my hands. Half in advance, half on delivery in Federation City."

"But -- that's an outrageous price! No one .... Miss Mary, we both know that the era of the cattle drive is nearly over. This will be the only drive in the entire territory this year. With railroad lines sprouting up like weeds, drives are fast becoming obsolete. ... 10% of the net profits for you and 1% for each of your hands. All upon delivery."

"And yet I see that you are not using the railroad, Miss Kate. Perhaps your credit rating is no better than my own?" replied Mary venomously. She then stated, "And I'm from Hollywood, the home of creative accounting. .... 10% of the gross on delivery. And 1% apiece for my crew."

Chakotay looked on in horror at the two women. He must be imagining things. He closed his eyes, counted to ten, and slowly opened them. Nothing had changed. Spouts of flames still jetted from Mary's eyes and billows of smoke still poured from Kate's ears. Offer and counter-offer flew furiously back and forth across the table.

He glanced over at Stark and then Griff. He could read the fear in their eyes. With an unspoken agreement, the three simultaneously edged their chairs back away from the conflagration centered at the table. Chakotay briefly considered leaping up and running screaming from the room. *No, no! Mustn't draw attention to myself. Must wait for a better chance to sneak out.*

Miss Kate struggled to regain her composure. Finally, she grit her teeth and barked, "8% of the gross on delivery. You pay your people out of your share. That is my final offer."

Mary smirked and replied, "Then I must accept, mustn't I? I knew that we could come to a satisfactory settlement, Miss Kate. We'll meet you in Fed City in six weeks. And now about the details of the drive --"

"You seem to misunderstand the job, Miss Mary. I'll be traveling with you and the others on the drive. You'll be trailboss but I'm the owner of the herd and the boss of the Delta Q hands," interrupted Kate haughtily.

Mary seemed to burst into flames. In a low but angry tone, she said, "There can be only one boss on the drive. And that's the trailboss. And you ..."

Chakotay listened to the two women arguing for several more minutes and then slowly shook his head. *Six weeks of pure hell. How did I ever get the idea that putting these two mule-headed woman together would be a GOOD idea?*