An Incentive

by Twyla Jane and Quizegan

DISCLAIMERS: This is fan fiction.  No profit involved. It is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended. Just a bit of silliness on our part. Started oh so long ago and dusted off as an answer to Ang’s January Challenge where’s my horse my kingdom for a horse. 3/30/03




“What the heck do ya think yer doing?”

JD popped his head out of the sheriff’s office looking for the source of the noise and saw Vin perched precariously atop a high back wooden chair hanging up a hand painted sign.

“I’m putting up a sign.”

The tracker smirked a little as he reached up and straightened the crudely made notice.

“I can see that….” JD stretched and covered a yawn.

“Then why’d ya ask?” Vin replied as if hanging signs at this hour was the natural thing to do.

“Why ya doing at five in the morning?”

The young man squinted at the sign as the early morning hues colored the sky unable to read the words. The lanterns that were lit down the street cast a shadow over the sign’s wording. Dunne took a few steps closer slowly moving down the boardwalk to read what it said. Snorting loudly as he tried to contain his laughter.

“I shouldn’t ta asked…you an’ Ez ain’t gonna let them live this down.”


Vin straightened the sign before he hopped down and surveyed his work before disappearing into the early morning shadows.

The day before…

“Do I need to remind you to take care Mr. Tanner?” Ezra smiled as he squinted up into the sunlight watching Vin vainly tried to gain a tenuous grasp on the steep crevasse wall only to slide ineffectually back to the rocky ground landing abruptly on his rump. 

“Nope…” Vin replied with a lopsided smile of his own while wiping the sweat off his face.

“Then by all means continue… it seems you are making more progress than my last attempt…” Ezra arched a brow deciding it would be unwise to shrug at that moment and did his best to divert the tracker’s attention with a long-winded explanation.

“Ya sure yer just not saying that ‘cause you don’t want to get dirty…” Vin grunted out as he pushed himself back to his feet. The gambler’s recent attempt at scaling the rock face had ended with the same as his had only Ezra had fallen farther and landed face first in the dirt. Despite his assurances, Vin was entirely sure Ezra had escaped completely unscathed.

“Not at all my friend … not at all… if you haven’t noticed my attire is already in a unholy state of disrepair… ” Ezra sang out waving a hand at his disheveled garments while resisting the urge to display a more elaborate gesture, pain reinforcing his sensibilities.

“Jist git yer ass over here and gimme a leg up.” Vin drawled out egging Ezra on in his own game.

“Aw hell…” The gambler paled slightly and wavered where he stood under the steady gaze of the tracker.

“Come on Ez…” Tanner prodded in.

“Perhaps our compatriots have noticed our absence and are presently on their way to liberate us… it would be foolish to expend the energy…” Standish flailed as he did his best to explain away his sudden reluctance to assist Tanner but the loud buzzing in his ears wasn’t helping him think.

“Something ya ain’t tellin’ me?” Vin took a step closer and looked straight into gambler’s green eyes as they rapidly blinked back at him.

“Nothing is amiss I assure you…” Ezra might have sounded if his legs hadn’t picked that particular moment to buckle. He would have ended up nose down into the dirt again if the lanky Texan hadn’t caught him and slowly eased his limp body against the crevasse wall.

“Uh huh… everythin’s jist dandy…”

His eyes opened to a shadowy world and Ezra blinked several times trying to get his vision cleared. His nose wrinkled when a lock of long brown hair brushed across his face. After several bewildering seconds he realized what blocked his view was Vin.

 “Mr. Tanner?”

“Ya had me worried fer a moment… ya alright? Vin huffed out as he bodily shuffled Ezra farther into the shade.

“A bit dizzy…” The southerner breathed out not having the energy at the moment to shrug off the tracker’s assistance as the scruffy man gingerly felt along his aching skull cause him to wince more than once.

“Reckon we won’t be leaving the way we came…” The Texan’s quiet drawl seemed unusually loud even considering the man close proximity.

“You’re a bit too close…” Ezra tiredly complained while Vin leaned in closely inspected a bloody gouge behind his left ear.

“Better?” Vin sat back satisfied that the wily man wasn’t badly injured.

“Much…” Ezra sighed closing his eyes before pulling his legs up close to his chest willing the world to stop the unnerving jerking spiral it was currently in. 

“What do ya suppose that critter was?” Vin lightly tapped the gambler’s cheek trying to keep the woozy man focused on their conversation.

“No earthly idea since I was otherwise occupied…” Eyes blinked slowly as he answered Vin’s question. Ezra was not entirely sure what had happened during those frantic moments prior to their rapid descent within the tight crevasse. If fact he was having a little trouble following what Tanner was saying now and had only caught the last part of what the man had said.

“That sure was some tumble… sorry ‘bout landing on ya…” Vin reached out and patted Ezra’s leg before he stood up and before looking for another way out.

“Mr. Tanner as if you had a choice…” Ezra quietly chuckled.

“Dang beast… what ever it was sure as hell spooked the horses.” Vin muttered ruefully as he walked a tight circuit carefully eyeing the stone surface that surrounded them 

“That it did…” The gambler added as he sank back further against the rock watching as Vin poked through some dead brush.

“Hey Ez… looks like we got us a way outta here… I kin see to the other side…be right back…” Vin disappeared from sight and re-emerged several minutes later with a grin plastered across his face. “Think ya can stand up?” He stared dubiously at the gambler as the man nodded.  “Ya ain’t gonna believe it ‘less ya see yer self…”

After being pulled to his feet the slightly unsteady gambler followed the tracker through the gap in rock face.


“Where the hell are they?” The batwing doors swung open as Chris stormed into the cool interior of the saloon. Although she didn’t speak Inez acknowledged his presence with a curt nod before gesturing towards the back of the room. The woman watched on as she toweled off the freshly washed glasses. Following that non-verbal direction Larabee caught sight of Buck.

“I take it Ez and Vin ain’t back yet…” Wilmington sat alone at a table in the near empty establishment nursing the remnants of a now tepid beer.

“No Buck and I don’t like it!” A bad feeling was gnawing at the gunslinger’s gut.

“Aw they ain’t that late…” An irritated look from his long time friend gave him pause. “Hell Chris if yer that worried we could ride out and meet the boys on the trail.”


Much to Ezra’s surprise there was an unusual looking creature waiting for them when they reached the other side. The enormous tawny hump backed beast dwarfed a fair size horse.

“BRRRAAAAWWWTTT” The loud bellow from large eyed gap toothed creature had the gambler stumbling backward ending with him roughly landing on his backside just in the opening of the crevasse cursing wildly swiping at a rather disgusting dollop of spit that now ran down the side of his head while his lanky companion did little to contain an amused chuckle. “Ya alright Ez?” Tanner squatted down next to Standish carefully studying him.

“I’m fine…just wonderful Mr. Tanner…”

“Yeah I’m sure ya are…”

Just to prove to his point Ezra stiffly rose to his feet but the trembling arm that steadied his assent revealed that all was not well Vin didn’t try to help instead stayed back far enough to give the man room to move but close enough incase the gambler should falter. 

“I’m a bit baffled though as to why this animal is so far from its natural habitat?” Although they were out of the crevasse they were still in tight quarters high rocky walls surrounded them the tawny beast blocked the only visible exit. The animal grunted extended its neck as it padding closer to the unsteady Standish who was doing his best the wipe the mess from his face and head ruefully daubing away the distasteful excretion with a folded linen handkerchief. “I wouldn’t expect to see dromedary off the African Continent unless it was within the confines of a carnival which I might add is a highly unlikely prospect in these dusty environs.”

“Hell Ez I don’t know ‘bout no Africa or carnivals, but that there critter is a camel not some drom-a-what’s it…and damn I think she likes ya…” Tanner said that as the camel snuffed the front of Standish’s jacket. Ezra held out his hand allowing it to be sniffed before he dared to caress the plush tuft atop the creature’s head. The moment was brief. The beast huffed before knocking into gambler sending the man flat to the ground once more as it lumbered away. The gambler lay with his eyelids tightly closed prompting Vin to ask again. “Ya alright Ez?”

“Dandy.” The tight response reinforced Tanner’s belief that his battered friend was hurt more than he was willing to admit.


The hump backed creature had disappeared from sight long before Standish pried open his eyes. When he finally did, something dark blocked his vision. The warmth of the day’s sun didn’t reach far enough and a chill ran through the prone man.  “You don’t look dandy ‘t all seems to me yer lookin’ more like somethin’ mucked out from yer nag’s stall.” The mere mention of his prized steed had the red-coated gambler scrambling stiffly back to his feet waving off any assistance that the tracker tried to offer.

“Mr. Tanner I beg to differ, Chaucer is extremely well trained mount…”

“That ornery piece of horse flesh left yer ass in the dirt.”

“A bellowing dromedary crossing his path caused that mishap…”

”That were a camel that sent the horses into a tizzy Ez.”

  “As you so aptly pointed out early Mr. Tanner, but a dromedary camel has a single hump there is another variety found in Asia that have two. I have acquired a few other informative tidbits on these hardy creatures that they are often referred to as ships of the desert and are able to retain water for extended period of time in hot climes unlike their equine counterparts. I have even had to opportunity for a time to work with these unusual mounts. I am however at a loss as to how you are familiar with a creature that are normally denizens in the deserts of Northern Africa.”

“Seen them a time or two when I’s littl’un in Texas and during the war. The Army was using them to bring cotton into Mexico.” Tanner shrugged, he hadn’t it given much thought and wasn’t exactly sure what had Ezra so intrigued. “Might be good if we got going that is providing yer finished with yer beauty sleep.”

The gambler gave the dusty tracker a bemused look. “For the moment so lead on.” Then followed as Vin started off in the same direction the camel trotted off in.


The midday sun had passed overhead when Larabee finally pulled his horse to a halt as he squinted at the trail ahead for anything that would reveal where his men were. Wilmington’s grey slowly plodded across the dry earthen flat as his man scanned the horizon. Spying two figures slowly walking over the crest of the hill, heading straight towards them. One of them was wearing a red jacket.

“Wonder what trouble those idiots got into this time?”

Spurring the horses forward they went out to meet their two companions.


Standish was the first to speak. A smirk played across his bruised face before widening into a full-fledged grin. “Mr. Larabee, Mr. Wilmington fancy meeting you out here. May I ask what are you gentlemen doing so far from our happy little burg?” As he spoke the southerner primped and smoothed his clothing the best he could, considering the circumstances.

“Buck and I thought we’d go fishing.” Larabee replied. Two could play at this game.

“Fishing in the desert? Hmmh Mr. Tanner I think our compatriots have been in the sun a little long today. Seems to be affecting their judgment.”

“Think you might be right about that Ez.”

“We were out here looking for you fools” Buck interrupted trying to be the voice of reason.

“Boys want to tell me what happened?” Chris glared down at the duo. Silently damning them for making him fret. The pair looked rough, sweat streaked and filthy with more than a few visible scrapes and bruises. Buck seeing that no explanation would be forth coming chimed in “ ‘Cause if you’re good and you tell us we’ll let you ride double with us on the way back to town.”

“Nope.” Tanner snorted as he responded. Nope they wouldn’t be getting any explanations from him.

“Not particularly…” Seemed the Standish was of a similar mind and Larabee was about to give them a piece of his mind when Wilmington’s incredulous voice tore his attention away. A hulking hump backed shape loped towards them.

“Chris, what in tarnation is that?” Buck strained to see what it was and managed to get a few words out before his mount got agitated.  Larabee’s black started to nervously prance sideways across the hard packed trail, while trying to get his horse to calm Chris, the odd beast headed down the trail its presence sent the horses into a panicked frenzy unseating their riders.  


The dust had barely settled before a mournful bellow filled the air. “BRRRAAAAWWWTTT”. . Off in the distance twin dust trails were all that was to be seen of the frightened horses. Both Larabee and Wilmington were on their feet with guns drawn when the beast finally lumbered to a stop in front of Standish. Nudging the southerner, who was barely containing his mirth about the turn in situation. Tanner faired little better as a wheezy giggle escaped him completely dispelling the tense scene that had only a moment ago seemed fraught with danger

“What the hell is that?” Chris growled out as he holstered his weapon stalking over to where the tawny creature stood, stopping mid stride as it snapped at him.

“This a camel Mr. Larabee, of an Arabian variety.”  Ezra gently stroked the soft furred neck. The animal seemed pleased by the attention forgot the black clad gunslinger.

“Strange looking critter…” The halting words were all Buck managed to get out as he stared at Ezra as the urbane gambler began to work some magic and got the camel to kneel down.

“Yes maybe Mr. Wilmington but she shall make for a good mount, won’t she Mr. Tanner.”

“Yep.” Vin nodded as he stood beside the large animal.

“I wouldn’t pay a penny to ride that thing Ez.”

 “Good thing too seems that there is only room for two… after you Mr. Tanner.” Vin had barely sat down atop the creature’s humped back, before Ezra had climbed on in front of him bidding him to hold on tight. The camel lurched up and began to slowly plod down the trail leaving a bewildered Buck Wilmington and Chris Larabee in their wake.

 “Tanner… Standish… Bastards… git yer scrawny asses back here!” Chris screamed after them.

“I think they’re a mite pissed Ez!” Vin chuckled into shoulder of Ezra’s jacket.

“I do believe you are correct Mr. Tanner, I suggest that we not dawdle any longer and head straight back to town.” Ezra urged the creature into a faster pace.


Early the next morning

J.D. laughed again as he turned on one heel and returned to his rounds looking back once more at the sign swinging in the wind hanging precariously on a piece of twine outside the still dormant mercantile.

~ Camels ~
A penny a ride

See Larabee or