The Freedom Gang crouched around the campfire and looked deep into the coals. It was the 14th day of their historic Occupation of Dodge. They had been through some testing times but they were determined to stay together and continue to write a new, exciting chapter in the history of the Wild West.
They set up a stage for anyone who wanted to have their say.
A rancher from the south stepped on the stage, and said, "I just want to say to all you folks out there, we're just normal folks. Just normal folks takin' a stand. Just normal folks who have the courage to stand up to Governor Ardern. Just normal folks wantin' to go about our business without interference."
He folded his arms across his chest. "That's all I got to say," he said. "We're just normal folks."
He stepped off the stage to applause.
"Ain't that the truth."
A nurse from the east stepped on the stage, and said, "If you have been vaccinated you need to be aware that you may have been infected with invisible parasites called spike proteins. They come out through your breasts. They come out through your breasts, on everything you touch. It's called shedding. We had a pet lamb, and someone came to our house who had been vaccinated and she was shedding these spike proteins. She gave our pet lamb a cuddle and the next day it was so sick it couldn't stand up or anything. We put it out of its misery. Then we opened it up and its blood was black and clotted. There's been studies of people who've given blood and the people who are unvaccinated, their blood is red and flowing, but the blood of people who've been vaccinated with the bad stuff, it's black and it's clotted."
She stared out at the Freedom Gang. "Black and clotted," she said. "Black and clotted! Black and clotted! Black and clotted!"
She stepped off the stage to applause.
"Ain't that the truth."
Sheriff Coster put his boots up on his desk, and his hands behind his head. Things were going mighty fine. He had deputies undercover in the Freedom Gang, and knew their every movement. He also knew their mood had changed. It had started to fracture. Their resolve had weakened. The sheriff's tactic of roping just a few of their horses at a time, and taking back just little pieces of land while they slept, was having exactly the kind of effect he anticipated.
Hitting one or two members of the Freedom Gang over the head now and then was effective, too.
The sheriff also knew that the townsfolk had had enough of the Freedom Gang. They lacked support. They lacked credibility and his undercover agents told him the next couple of days would make them look even more ridiculous.
Old man Peters came down from the hills and wandered through the tents and latrines of the Freedom Gang.
Crazy sailor Coutts rowed in from the Island of Loathsomeness and wandered through the tents and latrines of the Freedom Gang.
Governor Ardern sat at her desk, hunched forward, with her head in her hands. The only sound was the ticking of the clock on the wall.
Vice-Governor Robertson walked in. "Hell," he said. "Are you okay? Don't let the Occupation of Dodge get you down none. Sure, a lot of it's personally directed at you, and is driven by some sort of inchoate rage at your very existence but please remember, most of them are complete morons and their protest is essentially meaningless."
The governor sighed. "It ain't the Freedom Gang," she said.
"What is it, then?"
She lifted her head, and said, "Russia."