CATEGORY: Challenge - OW
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ezra, Nathan and Stella of The Midnight Star
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, TNN, The Hallmark Station, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended.  Neither do I intend to infringe on anything belonging to Columbia-TriStar Home Video
NOTE: July 2004 Challenge, offered by Katy:  Write a crossover  with another western series.   For example or you could bring the cross over show characters into an existing M7 AU or make a whole new AU.
SUMMARY:  Ezra and Nathan arrive in a town to offer their assistance in an upcoming fight.  This is my first try at a crossover.  The story occurs shortly after the main action of the movie “Silverado”
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments  are greatly appreciated.
SPOILERS:  Big spoilers to the wonderful movie, "Silverado" -- if you haven't seen it, do it... do it now.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:  Ezra's horse got his name from Kristen.  I created Nathan's
DATE: July 31, 2004

The Midnight Star
By NotTasha...shine on

They approached the town slowly, the gambler and the healer, watching for trouble – for they’d been assured that trouble was coming.  They’d been in Turley when the message came – crying about an approaching danger – asking for medical help – asking for brave men to come fight.  The Sheriff of Turley, a misplaced Englishman, had seen the message, too, but had felt he’d best protect his own town.  The two lawmen from Four Corners, in town for only the day, had to ride off on their own.

So Nathan and Ezra went to Silverado – because help was needed – and no one else would go.

They’d hurried, aware that a town was in danger, aware that they might be the only men capable of protecting that place.  They came to help, riding through part of the night, guided by the stars.

In the morning, they approached the town.  Watching it from a distance, Silverado hardly seemed to be a village under siege.  It appeared to be a nice little place, full of possibilities.  But the small city was quiet – completely quiet and devoid of life.  They hurried their horses.

Standish narrowed his eyes, scanning the hushed street as they entered the town.  Not a soul stirred.  Jackson pursed his lips, feeling keen and edgy.  The air had a charge to it – as if lightning had recently struck.

“What do you make of it?” Nathan asked.

Ezra shook his head.  “Nothing good.”

They continued, side-by-side, watching, twisting about, looking for threats, but the town remained still and serene, if you ignored the shot-out windows, the broken porch railings, the busted benches, and the ominous dark stains that marked the dirt and boardwalks.  Ezra pulled his Remington from his holster, and Nathan retrieved one of his knives from its scabbard to rest it on his thigh.

Above the boardwalk, a sign swung on its chains.  The bottom half had been shot off – but the top part of the placard still declared “Silverado Guns and …” It didn’t matter what else was sold at that establishment – it was obvious that this town had known firepower.

“Lordy,” Nathan quietly exclaimed, “Looks like one hell of a fight.”

Ezra dipped his head.  “Hard to say if anyone survived it,” he commented.  “The town might be vacant.”

“There’s folks here,” Nathan assured, as somewhere above them, a curtain lifted and dropped, so that one of the citizens might glance at them.  Elsewhere a squeak and a creak of floorboards let them know that a townsperson was restless in his hiding.

“I don’t like this,” Nathan breathed.  “Feels like a whole lotta death went on here.”  He glanced at a dark patch outside of the livery.  Further up the street, at the far end of town, another stain marred the middle of the street.   Whispering voices floated down on them, as people secreted themselves from the strangers to the town.

“Well,” Ezra commented.  “The telegram stated that there’d be trouble.  Looks like it got here well before we did.”  

"We come too late," Nathan stated sadly.  

"A shame... a terrible shame," Ezra responded as he glanced about at the destruction, feeling a tightness in his chest.  "We couldn't help them."

"We did the best we could," Nathan countered.  "We couldn't have come any faster."

"Let's hope the outcome might have been...agreeable."  With a sigh, Ezra drew Chaucer to a stop.  “I believe we should seek out a witness who might explain what’s occurred.”  He shook his head and muttered, “And we should also get off of this oppressive street.”

“Unnerving, isn’t it?”

“Deeply,” Ezra answered truthfully.  He threw Nathan a disquieted look.  “I’d like to get to the bottom of this.”

"Me, too."  Nathan jerked his head toward the sheriff’s office at the far end of town.  “Seems like that would be a good place to start.”

Ezra shook his head.  “I think we should try elsewhere.”  He dismounted, tossing the reins over the closest hitching post.  Nathan followed, tying up Badger beside Chaucer – the only two horses on the street.

“Saloon?”  Nathan queried as Ezra stepped toward the corner business.

“Best place to find out anything,” Ezra returned.  “And where I feel most at ease.” He gestured, inviting Nathan to his side, and they strode together to “The Midnight Star”

Ezra pressed back one of the batwing doors as Nathan came in beside him.  The gambler breathed in deeply, smiling as he took in the atmosphere of the saloon – The Midnight Star was large, with a fair assembly of tables to suit large numbers.  A big fireplace stood against one wall, and the bar was against another – and a formidable staircase led to the upper level.  The scent and ambiance of a saloon instantly calmed the gambler’s jangled nerves, made him feel at home, and almost happy.  He exhaled slowly.  “Ah,” he stated.  “The Midnight Star… a glorious locale.”

Nathan, still tense, eyed the room, looking for anyone whom they might talk to.  The place appeared empty.  “Looks like their ain’t no one here,” he said softly.

To contradict his statement, a woman’s voice responded with, “What can I help you gentlemen with?”

She came out from behind the bar and walked toward them – a well-dressed woman, with a sharp eye and carefully coifed hair, yet she stood no taller than a child – maybe four-and-a-half feet tall.  She eyed them critically, holding her hands clasped before her, and looking formidable in spite of her stature.

“My good woman,” Ezra said, grinning from ear-to-ear.  “Might you be the owner of this fair establishment?”

“Might?”  She smiled slightly.  “That would be the proper word to use.  Hard to say how that issue stands at the moment.  Might be all mine now, indeed.” And her smile grew.

“We heard there was trouble,” Nathan stated, stepping forward.  “Heard from your doc that ya'all needed some help.  We came.”

“We seem to have things well in hand, now,” the woman returned.

“Good,” Jackson said with a nod, but looked confused.  “Sure looked like one hell of a gunfight out there though.”

“Oh, there was a fight,” the woman responded, turning nimbly and heading back to the bar.  “One hell of a fight, but we managed.”  She continued on her way, apparently stepping onto some sort of platform as she walked behind the bar – it raised her almost to ‘normal’ level.  She fished a couple of glasses out from beneath the bar and set them down with an appealing 'clink'.

Ezra and Nathan approached the bar and rested their arms on it.  “So,” Nathan responded.  “The trouble is over.”

“Over,” the woman repeated. She looked upward, as if sending up a quick prayer of thanks.  “Yes.  Over for good, I would hope.  Now, is there anything I can get for you?  Whiskey?”  She pulled a bottle of the amber liquid from behind the bar.

Nathan reached for it, but Ezra countered by pulling a large coin from his pocket and setting it on the bar.  “The good stuff,” Ezra stated.

The barkeeper eyed the coin, smiled, and pulled a new bottle from beneath the counter.  “My name’s Stella, by the way,” she stated.  “If I’m serving the good stuff, I’d like to know who I’m drinking with.”  And she set one more glass on the counter – lining the three of them up in a neat row.

“Nathan Jackson,” the healer quickly responded.  “And this here, is Ezra Standish.”

“Ezra?”  Stella responded, giving the gambler a curious glance.  “Ah, just like Mal’s father.  Ezra Johnson, an upright man, honorable and brave, well-loved by all who knew him, God rest his soul.”

Ezra raised his glass once Stella had poured.  “To the upright Ezra, honorable and brave,” the conman stated.  “God help him.” And they toasted the man.

Nathan smiled as he lowered the glass, happily eyeing the empty glass.  Ezra smacked his lips and set the glass before Stella again.  Another coin appeared on the counter, pushed beside the other, and the glasses were refilled, but the coins were returned.

“For coming,” she stated when she saw Ezra’s puzzled look.  She further explained, “Both of you came to help us.  I suppose that deserves a drink or two.”

“But we didn’t do anythin’, ma’am,” Nathan responded.  “Can’t take anything from you for nothing.”  And Ezra gave him a disgusted look.

Stella smiled, looking wiser than both of them put together.  “It’s hardly ‘nothing’.  Paden, Emmett, Jake and Mal were strangers to our town as well -- they stood up for us.  When Doc sent out that request, thinking we needed more help than those men could offer, you are all that responded.  I suppose no one else in the area wanted to go up against Mr. McKendrick or Sheriff Cobb.  I suppose any assistance was frightened off when people heard who was at the root of the evil.”

“We’re not from around here,” Ezra explained as he lifted the glass and sipped at the liquor.  “And must plead ignorance.”

“Sheriff?” Nathan responded, alarmed.  “The sheriff was involved?”

“They were powerful men who controlled a small army,” Stella went on.  “They’d killed and would kill again.  They nearly killed Emmett, shot JT, took the boy…” Stella trailed off, and waved disquietedly at that thought.  “And tried to use me to hurt good people.”  She shook her head abruptly.  “I could not abide that!” Her voice broke, still furious at something that Nathan and Ezra could only guess at.

“A small army?” Ezra repeated, trying to draw the saloonkeeper back to her story.

“Gone now.  All of them,” Stella told them, setting her face like flint as if she expect them to rebuke her for her lack of sympathy for the dead men.

Nathan let out a breath.  “Well, I’m glad to hear ya’ll were able to take care of it.  You must’ve had good men to protect the town for you.”

Stella looked proud.  “The best.  I’m sure they would’ve appreciated the help, but they managed quite handily.”

Nathan looked annoyed at having missed out at providing assistance, but Ezra smiled again, showing his teeth.  “Good!” the gambler exclaimed.  “Glad to hear it.”  He downed the rest of his glass.  “Makes things easier for the likes of me.  I prefer to stay away from trouble whenever possible.”

“Yeah, right,” Nathan replied.  “You seem to find trouble wherever you go, Ezra.”

“Thus, a happy avoidance this time,” Ezra returned.

Nathan chuckled at Ezra’s comment and savored his drink.  He lifted his gaze to meet Stella’s.  “I could get used to this 'good stuff'.”

She smiled, resting a hand on the bottle.  “I’m hoping that’s what we’ll have here in Silverado from now on. We deserve a spate of ‘good stuff’. I’m hoping we’ll have peace.”

“Hmmm,” Nathan responded, his glass still at his lips.  He lowered it to say, “But you have no sheriff.”

She smiled, her eyes sparking with a secret.  “I’m hoping that situation won’t last for long.  I have plans.”

Ezra cocked his head.  “You, perhaps, have designs on that position?”  The conman figured Stella could handle that job.  She certainly seemed in control.

“No,” Stella stated, laughing lightly.  “I have another in mind.  I think he’ll do famously and will only need a little persuasion.”  She continued gesturing to the room around her, “This is where I belong.  This is where I’m happiest.”

“I can see why,” Ezra responded.  “You have your own little world here.”

Stella nodded.  “I suppose I do.”  She glanced about her Midnight Star.  “I have always said that the world is what you make of it.”  She blinked and faced the two lawmen again.  “And I think I’ve created a fine little world here.  I plan to see it get even better.  I'd like to see Silverado get better.  It's bound to now.  We got good people.”  She winked at the two lawmen.  "And we got friends."

And she poured another round of drinks, and they toasted the town of Silverado, and its promise of things to come.  Then they toasted Stella and the Midnight Star, and strangers who respond to a call for help.


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