Moses once again rode out ahead of the pitifully small rescue party. His eyes ever on the alert for sign, he found something he wasn't expecting. Riding up the sandy sides of a shallow draw, the old scout was careful not to skyline himself on the rim. He reined in the blue roan mustang. It didn't need the rest, being desert born and bred, but Moses did. Taking off his hat, he sighed with weariness.

Wiping the sweat from his brow with the fringed sleeve of his beaded buckskin shirt, he saw the horse suddenly raise its head and curl its upper lip. Pricking its ears back, the horse gave a mistrustful snort and stamped a hoof in agitation. That's when Moses smelled the smoke.

He looked around him. There, about a half mile off to the right, was a thin trail of black smoke. As the old scout watched with narrowed eyes, the smoke swiftly became thicker and blacker by the minute. Moses frowned. That was far too much smoke to be an Indian signal, and the color was wrong, as well. Something was burning. Something that was far bigger than a pile of dry wood or brush. Then, on the wind, he faintly heard the distinct pop-pop sound of heavy gunfire.

Hearing several horses coming up the draw, Moses turned in his saddle. It was Drayden, accompanied by Privates Featherly and Johnstone.

"You heard the shots too, I reckon." Was all Moses said in a quiet, even tone.

"Thought I did. Wasn't sure." Drayden replied softly. "Decided I'd better ride ahead and see for myself."

Instructing the two privates to keep silent and stay where they were, the colonel spurred his horse up the side of the draw. He saw the smoke, heavier now, billowing up towards the sky. The distant gunfire was becoming more sporadic. Someone was either running low on ammunition, or their numbers were dwindling.

"Could be a trap." The colonel muttered, eyeing the smoke as mistrustfully as Moses' mustang had.

"Uh-huh. Reckon maybe so." Moses answered dryly. Abruptly spurring his horse up over the lip of the ravine, he said over his shoulder, "Only one way to find out, colonel."

Setting his mustang into a high lope, the old scout made for the smoke, riding in at an angle to it. He hoped to work his way around to the side of the attackers. The idea being to surprise them. If an Indian attack it was. Should it be a trap, he might be the one who was in for a surprise, lying there dead in the sand before the sun set today.

Heaving a sigh, Drayden watched his scout ride off. He turned to Johnstone and ordered him to ride back and tell Sergeant Striker what was happening. Striker's orders were to keep the troop moving forward towards the beleaguered supply train, while the colonel went off with the scout to see if they could help.

Orders given, Colonel Drayden and Private Featherly quickly spurred their horses after Moses Trey. The colonel thought to himself that if those were movers out there with a wagon and team—and by now he was certain that it was a wagon that was on fire, then they were in terrible trouble. Especially if there were women and kids along. Even at a flat out gallop, it would take the three of them at least twenty minutes to reach the place, due to the rough terrain.

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