Opportunity Knocks

The Sword of Laban

In the aftermath of the Battle of New Opportunity, our Posse split up. Cho and Zane ran to the schoolhouse to see what the Unions Flying 51st had taken. Viktor and Percival rushed to help the wounded.

The schoolhouse was a mess. Papers and books were strewn all over. In a mirror behind the schoolmasters desk, Zane and Cho saw the image of Icie pounding on the mirror. Cho reached in and pulled her out. Icie, who had been in the mirror when the 51st attacked, had seen the schoolmaster, Barnabus Quint, try to fend the Union soldiers off before they shot him. Our heroes found him, but he was too far gone. Quint was coughing up blood, muttering about how they stole his discovery. Cho asked if it was the location of El Dorado, and what little life in Quints form was shocked. Quint demanded a map, and his dying act was to smear a bloody finger on a location in Southern California called the Devils Postpiles.

Viktor and Percival attended to the wounded in the City Hall. It was a horrible scene as the citizens of New Opportunity that they had come to love and protect were triaged. Some of them would not survive, others would surely lose limbs. Doc Podicker was doing his best to deal with the lack of opium when treating amputees.

It was in that chaos that Viktor saw the pale woman from his past again, the same ghostly woman who he had seen on the bridge of the Grand Majestic. She was also helping the wounded, bringing peace to some of those who were surely not going to survive. Others were not comforted, and began asking for Father Santos – who was nowhere to be seen, having been sent to the town of Harmony before the battle began.

The pale woman asked to speak with the posse in private, so they retired to the Sheriff’s office. The pale woman again called Viktor by the name “Ga’ul”, but when Viktor corrected her she changed into a younger woman who said the name Viktor was appropriate for what he had to do now. Then the woman changed again into a middle-aged woman. She explained that Viktor bore the mark of Cain. That he was himself Cain. That he had created the Fourth Nail almost two thousand years ago to kill Christ and have revenge upon God. But that he traded it away to protect the Gypsies. The nail was reforged into a sword: The Sword of Laban. It is a weapon, forged from the blood of Cain and capable of killing a God. Custer is now a God, fueled by the greedy sins of a thousand mortals, and the Sword of Laban is the only thing which can kill him. The three women, also known as the Three Nephites, urged Viktor to find the sword and kill Custer, and thus finding peace and God’s forgiveness.

The Posse rode out as soon as they could cross the surging waters of the Eel River. Along the way they encountered wounded Union soldiers who Cho was able to intimidate into telling them where Custer was going. All they knew was that Custer was headed South to Fort Lincoln.

When they reached the next town of Harmony, they saw a torn banner across the cities red gate which read, “Welcome Union Heroes”. With a bit of investigation they found that Father Santos had been arrested and met him in the jail. Santos told the Posse that he was arrested for treason. The city and church leaders want the Union to take over Northern California, so they did nothing to help New Opportunity when attacked. The Union army, however, did not stay long when they passed through town. They only stopped to send a telegraph and didn’t even greet the city leaders.

With a bit of persuasion Viktor was able to convince Father Santos that they needed the Cross of Ezrah, which was secretly the Sword of Laban, in order to defeat Custer. Santos revealed that the Cross of Ezrah was in the bank vault. But that it was a fake. The real Cross of Ezrah was concealed in a second vault under the main vault. It was secured with four keys, one held by each of the Church leaders, and the fourth by the Bank Manager.

Santos’ key was held right there in the jail, along with his other personal belongings. Father Chu’an kept his key on a pocket watch chain, which he did not wear during religious services. Chu’an was a prideful man who wanted to adopt Western Culture. Father Whitetail also kept his key with him at all times. Whitetail was a puritanical type, often speaking of sin, fire and brimstone. Rumor had it that he was actually a frequent visitor to the local brothel. Santos did not know where the Bank Manager kept his key, but that he was a gluttonous man who enjoyed only the finest food and wine.

Cho, Percival and Zane were able to distract the bored deputy long enough to steal Santos key from the evidence locker, while Icie and Viktor went to the telegraph office to find out what message was sent by the Union army. A loosely coded message was sent to Fort Lincoln asking for transportation, apparently a train, to be waiting for them when they arrived.

Viktor began constructing a device to duplicate keys while the rest of the Posse went about investigating the three other keys. Icie found that the local brothel was closed for a special VIP guest with unique tastes. She persuaded her way in and found that Father Whitetail was the VIP, and that he enjoyed the feeling of danger. Cho staked out the church and found the room where Father Chu’an likely changed into his robes. Percival found that the Bank Manager had a personal chef and only dined at home.

Sunday services were the next day. The Posse came up with a plan where three members would attend services, while another was a lookout. Viktor would use his weird science devices to teleport into the changing room once he was given the signal that Father Chu’an was out. What he didn’t know was that there was a woman in the room he was teleporting into. Her scream drew some attention from the congregation, but not nearly as much as the distraction Cho made when he accused Father Chu’an of abandoning his Chinese heritage. Cho was removed from the Church, and Viktor knocked the girl unconscious. He was able to locate the key and make a copy using his device. But the device broke as it finished, and he’d need a day to repair it.

The following night, Icie and her “manager” Cho went to the local brothel for their appointment with Father Whitetail. Icie impressed Father Whitetail with her knife throwing skills and enticed him to be blindfolded as the knives were thrown at him. Icie was able to locate his key, but was unable to get the window open in order to toss the key to Viktor who was waiting outside. Cho burst in with his normal accusations, and snuck the key outside. It was never revealed what happened to Father Whitetail, or if he was happy with his treatment or not.

Viktor and Percival made an appointment with the Bank Manager to open a new account. They were impressed that the bank had electric lights and that the teller could signal the managers office with an electric bell. Percival was able to impress the Manager with his knowledge of fine cognac enough to gain an invitation to the Managers dinner table that evening for Christmas Eve. Before they left they were able to ascertain that the Bank Manager kept his key on his keychain.

Earlier in the day, Percival had used his knowledge of local mycology to find a poisonous mushroom which would cause intestinal distress. Zane and Icie spread rumors of how tasty these local mushrooms were at the market where the Managers chef shopped. And Percival had made sure to buy out all other mushrooms so that the chef had no choice but to use them. The meal was a success, and the Manager excused himself for a while. Viktor and Percival were able to overcome obstacles, including seeing that the maid of the house was the same woman who Viktor had knocked out in the Church earlier in the week.

Now that the Posse had four keys they began their heist on Christmas night. Viktor and Icie teleported into the bank vault and began moving the gold bars which hid the secret stairwell going down. Noticing the electric lights and fearing some kind of alarm, Viktor shorted out all of the electricity in the building. They went down the stairs, unlocked the vault door and were jumped by two, apparently completely inept, guards. Icie and Viktor knocked out the guards and stole the Sword of Laban, replacing it with the replica copy from New Opportunity.

Not wanting to draw too much suspicion, the Posse waited until morning to leave town and follow the Union Army to Fort Lincoln.

The Invasion of New Opportunity

The waters of Lake Bigler didn’t even begin to calm down before another tragedy befell the Grand Majestic. The ship had lost a paddle wheel and was beginning to take on water. The reflections in the mirrors, which had shown people to be confident and happy, turned angry. Icie’s reflection reached out of the mirror, and pulled her in. And then Icie, and her reflection, were gone.

Zane Sharkey awoke from his delirium in the town of Lake Bigler with a ringing in his head. But it wasn’t in his head, it was the church bell. It was ringing like a fire alarm, and people in the streets were screaming. As with Icie, images of people were reaching out of any reflective surface and pulling in their victims. Zane took aim at one reflective window and shattered it with a shot from his rifle. The reflection faded away. Zane tried to tell the townsfolk to break the windows, but his pleas were lost in the noise.

Meanwhile on the Grand Majestic, Smokin’ Cho made a raft out of a door and began paddling for the shore to get rescue boats. Viktor went to the engine room to try and assess the damage, and Percival battled it out with three of his own reflections.

Viktor went to the wheelhouse to try and signal the shore. Reaching his hands through a maze of reflective gauges and instruments, he saw his own reflection and that of a woman standing behind him. He recognized it as the face of a woman he saw when he was a small child. He turned, and she smiled. She said, “It’s time for you to wake up Ga’ul.” and she walked out into the darkness.

Cho and Zane managed to get the boats to return to the Grand Majestic, but it became clear that there wouldn’t be enough time to get everyone off the floating casino before it sank. Viktor made some modifications to the engine to give it one last burst of power. It would destroy the engine, but it would do the trick. The Grand Majestic roared to life, and sped to the shore faster than it had ever moved. The speed rocketed the Grand Majestic into the air, and it crashed in the middle of main street. The Church bells ceased their ringing, and for a moment everything was quiet.

Percival found Madame Legato was still alive, but barely. He questioned her about their plans. She told him that Tezcatilpoca would return, that the Ixiptatli had found the map to Tezcatilpoca’s City of Gold in New Opportunity. Then her body turned into a pile of snakes, and they slithered away.

The Posse tried to settle up with Marshall Bryce, but found him to be stubborn and greedy. Cho decided to retaliate by telling the miners in town that the mine was safe to use. Marshall Bryce and two of his deputies attempted to arrest the Posse. A gunfight broke out, and the Marshall and one of his deputies were left dead. The Posse did their best to appoint a new Marshall before running out of town.

Viktor unlocked some new mysteries of his book. One is that the family tree did not appear to be a family tree at all. There were no parents listed, no siblings, just a trail of man to man starting with Cain and ending with Viktor. The other revelation was that the Fourth Nail had been reforged into the Sword of Laban, the mother of all swords. The Sword of Laban was sent across a large sea to a new colony shortly after the resurrection of Christ. A drawing of the Sword of Laban resembled the holy artifact that Tobias Ezrah found in New Opportunity decades earlier.

As the Posse returned to New Opportunity they encountered J Merryweather. He told them that New Opportunity was under siege by the Union Army. The Posse remembered the old tunnel that lead out of the papermill and tried to use that to bypass the Union blockade. However with the snow, they were unable to find it. Instead they went up the dry riverbed of the Eel River into town.

Sheriff Redwood brought the Posse up to speed on current events in the town. The town was under siege and running out of food. The Union army had dammed the river, cut the telegraph lines, and completely isolated the town. Union reinforcements were arriving daily, and it was only a matter of time before they attacked.

The Posse took action to help out the town. They tried to steal food from the Union army, and provide weapons for the surviving Wiyot. They sent Reverend Santos south to Harmony to find help. Viktor and Doc Podicker whipped up some explosive defenses. The Union Army received it’s reinforcements and the battle began near dawn.

First the Wiyot Warriors attacked the southern front. Union cannons on the north side attacked the Church first. The Posse took actions leading defenses and sniping canon crews. These actions helped Percival Fords leadership to overcome the greater odds of the Union Army. Just when the defenders of New Opportunity thought they were gaining the upper hand, the drumming sound of the winged Flying 51st came over the northern ridge and attacked the school house. But cunning strategies from the defenders routed them, and the Flying 51st fled with books and papers. The Union Army was being defeated, and in their final act they broke the dam holding back the Eel river, and used it as cover to retreat.

Attack on the Grand Majestic

I wish I had remembered to take a picture of our final battle on the Grand Majestic. This re-creation will have to do.Grand_Majestic_Battle_sm.png

The Creature of Lake Bigler

Our adventure opened with Icie telling the posse the tale of how she ended up at Lake Bigler ahead of them. She had been shanghai’d by one of Judge Iroh’s boys right before Lin Zexu ambushed the posse. She awoke atop the clock tower at St. Mary’s Cathedral in time to see a giant bat beat up her friends. She blacked out again and next found herself above a large body of water being carried by the bat. She drew her gun and fired, falling into the lake. She then had a vision of her former lover, Johnny. Johnny spoke of something the Chinese gangs wanted, something she didn’t have. Then he handed her his pocket watch. Icie awoke again, being pulled into a rowboat. In her hand was Johnny’s pocket watch.

Icie finally awoke again inside a doctors office. She was told that a local boy, Clay Nagle, had rescued her from the waters of Lake Bigler. The locals assumed she had tried to swim home from the floating casino. She left the doctor’s office and walked straight into her friends.

As she was wrapping up her story, an explosion of flash powder introduced Lacy O’Malley, reporter for The Epitaph. He took some time to explain the current happenings in the town of Lake Bigler, formerly known as Green Rock. He told them that the local hotel, the Crystal River, was full-up, but that some locals have been renting out rooms and posting notices up at the Marshal’s Office.

Zane Sharkey came down with an awful case of dysentery and went off to suffer in an alleyway somewhere.

The posse made their way to the Marshal’s office. Some of the posse saw disturbing reflections in the windows, what looked like red welts along their necks. More disturbing were the wanted posters. Not only was their one for Zane Sharkey, but the “or Alive” part of “Wanted Dead or Alive” had been scratched out. Both Cho and Icie thought they saw wanted posters for themselves, for the murder of Frank Granger and Johnny respectively. But upon closer inspection, it was for someone else.

A Christian woman, Mrs. Conway, posted a room for rent and the posse took her up on the offer. She was initially concerned about the motley crew, but Percival managed to convince her that they were God-fearing people. The posse escorted her back to her house so they could stow their horses. They met her son, Jamie, and were told the rules of the house. The posse was welcome to stay in the barn. Some things were broken, and Jamie assured them that his Pa would fix them when he got back. Any discussion of Mr. Conway made Mrs. Conway uncomfortable.

The posse went back into town and were assaulted by frightening reflections everywhere. They bought new supplies and began their investigations into the poker tournament. Firstly they found that they needed about $1,000 to enter. Secondly the casino was a steam paddleboat located in the middle of the lake, a good mile or more off shore. Thirdly, the casino was owned by a mysterious woman named Madame Legato.

The town itself was full of gamblers from all of the USA and CSA. Most of them were punchy, complaining about the entrance fee, the lack of rooms, the worn out doves, or just each other. More than a few duels occurred. The local law, Marshal Bryce, didn’t seem overly concerned.

The posse checked out the casino, the Grand Majestic. They found that hiring a rowboat required getting a hand stamp. The stamp was the familiar Aztec symbol for gold that they had seen used by the cult in Weaverville and the Scalper. Wisely the Posse decided to deface the symbol when put on their own hands. While rowing out to the casino, some of the Posse thought they saw something moving in the water.

The casino was indeed Majestic. Free food and drink for all patrons. Unlike in town, reflections on the Grand Majestic made the posse feel confident and happy with themselves. The primary game being played was Faro. Percival tried out his new eye in an attempt to raise some of the $1,000 needed to enter the contest.

That night, the posse heard Jamie Conway speaking to someone in the workshop adjoining the barn. The posse tried to investigate but could find no one. In the morning a group of bounty hunters showed up looking for property stolen from the Wasatch Railroad. They had a warrant and demanded the return of the property. The standoff went awry and guns were fired. Mrs. Conway screamed, and a mechanical beast burst out of the workshop. The three legged machine attacked the bounty hunters. Smokin’ Cho grabbed Mrs. Conway and pulled her into the house. The machine thought Cho was going to harm her, so he gave chase. Percival Ford rightly deduced that this machine was actually Mr. Conway and began soothing the man in the machine.

Drawn by the firefight, Marshal Bryce showed up. He took a look at the warrant and when he couldn’t find any missing machinery, told the Posse to bury the bodies and go into town to make a statement at the Marshals Office.

Viktor tried to see what he could do to repair Mr. Conway, but it became clear that Mr. Conway wanted to end his misery. Viktor shut down the machine and told Mrs. Conway that there was nothing he could do.

The Posse then headed out to investigate the local mine which they had heard about in their investigations. The town itself had very few miners. The mine had encountered problems a few months back when gas filled the mine. Everyone talked about how the gas stank, which confused Viktor. Normally underground gasses didn’t stink, which is why miners carried canaries. Not having a canary, Viktor came up with the idea to use one of the Conway chickens. He also whipped up a phosphorous device which would give light but not ignite gas.

Following their noses the Posse found the mine. Cho and Icie led the way trying to sneak in. The stink was pretty bad, but the chicken didn’t seem affected. Unfortunately Cho took a bad step and dropped the chicken. The chicken, with a glowing rod attached, ran off down the mine shaft. Out of the darkness appeared a man wearing a diving helmet. He looked for a second, and then disappeared into the darkness. The posse ran out of the mine. Cho stayed behind while the rest returned to the Conway farm to get another chicken. Meanwhile Cho nearly got attacked by shambling men in torn rags. He found a hiding spot on a nearby ridge and waited.

Cho saw two men leave the mine, Marshal Bryce and his Deputy. They walked their horses out of the mine and hung up their diving bell helmets. They road off and Cho followed. Coming up the road were the rest of the Posse with a new chicken in a sack. Some awkward conversations followed, and the Posse made some amazingly convincing arguments to justify why they were on that road with a chicken. Marshal Bryce was somehow satisfied with their answers and took them back to his office to give their statements.

Percival got the feeling that the Marshall might have the cash to bankroll their entrance fee. Working out a deal to split the winnings, and giving up the Shan Fan property as collateral, the posse had enough money to enter the Poker tournament.

Percival advanced easily through the first rounds of the tournament and advanced to the final table. The posse saw, and managed to avoid, Lin Chi Ling wandering through the casino with Madame Legato. The boat was rocked by a rogue wave, and the posse took that as an opportunity to bust open a locked door leading to Madame Legato’s office. The boat continued to rock while Percival remained at the poker table playing.

Cho, Icie and Viktor interrupted a ritual being performed by Madame Legato and Lin Chi Ling. Lin Chi Ling transformed into a Bat, and Madame Legato transformed into a snake woman. Four giant tentacles emerged from the lake and began attacking the boat. Walls smashed open, and people screamed. Meanwhile, Percival Ford remained at the poker table intent on completing the tournament.

Both of the witches fell quickly to the onslaught of firepower. Cho, Icie and Viktor began attacking the tentacles, when a monstrous eye emerged behind the boat. Viktor engaged the engine on the boat and tried to get away, but the monster lashed on. Cho took aim at the eye and got off an amazing shot which sent the creature down to the murky depths of Lake Bigler. But the damage had been done, and the Grand Majestic was beginning to sink.

Meanwhile, back at the poker table, Percival Ford lost the tournament on the final hand.

The Bells of St Mary's / Guess Who's Coming to Donner

Our heroes left the Cherub Glassworks and returned to the boat which had brought them there. As they approached the boat, Mr. Lee did not respond. He remained sitting in the boat, facing the water, with his fishing pole in hand. Percival Ford walked up to him and shook him to get his attention. Mr. Lee’s body fell forward, and his head rolled back into Percivals hands.

Lin Zexu and his Kang triad goons surrounded the Posse with guns drawn. Zexu demanded the deed, which he assumed the Posse now held after the battle at the Glassworks. Some taunting went back and forth, and Zexu ordered his men to search the Posse for the deed. It was at this point that the Posse realized that Icie was no longer with them.

A lone gunshot rang out and one of Zexu’s men fell dead, as Thin Noodles Ma and his Shan Fan triad goons arrived. Ma also demanded the deed. Zexu said he’d rather die than be robbed by the Shan Fan triad again. Ma replied that Zexu must still be sore for losing his woman to Big Ears Tam. This enraged Zexu, and he ordered his men to fight. The Posse was caught in the middle of a gang war.

Thin Noodles Ma shot fire from his fingertips. Lin Zexu showed no interest in the lives of his own men as he opened fire with a shotgun, killing his own in attempts to hit Thin Noodles Ma. A lucky shot from a Shan Fan triad goon hit Zexu in the head and he went down. Wounded as well, Thin Noodles Ma ordered his men to retreat.

A quick search for Icie found an empty bottle of ether, and signs that she had been dragged away. Thanks to the quick thinking of Percival Ford, the Posse managed to secure one of the boats the Kang triad had used. The Posse rowed towards the ruins of St. Mary’s Cathedral, where Judge Iroh had crashed.

The crash site showed nothing of interest, but it there were signs that someone might have already searched the body and taken something into the church. The front doors were not opening, and it looked like someone was using a broken window as an entrance. Cho led the party in, where the saw two effigies – very much like the one they encountered in Weaverville. The two straw men began to move and came at the Posse. Remembering that fire was the only thing to stop these creatures before, the Posse grabbed burning candle holders and used them as improvised weapons. Meanwhile Guardian Angels shot at the Posse from the balconies above.

Following the cries of Icie, the Posse raced up the clock tower dodging falling gears. At the top, a lone woman held Icie as a human shield. She revealed herself to be Lin Chi Ling, former lover of Zane Sharkey, former wife of Lin Zexu and current lover of Big Ears Tam. She attempted to sway Zane’s allegiance, but he wasn’t interested. Then Lin Chi Ling transformed herself into a giant Bat-Woman, and swatted the party with a sonic blast. The transformation shook Zane Sharkey and left him with a minor phobia of bats. The Posse returned fire, but every shot that came close was deflected by a swarm of bats which surrounded her. Another blast of her magic scream laid waste to the party, and Lin Chi Ling grabbed Icie and flew away to the North East.

After some creative healing efforts, the party recovered from their ass-wuppin and began searching for the deed. In a small lock box they found both the deed and a letter from Lin Chi Ling’s sister at Lake Bigler. Zane heard a whispering voice that called out to him. He moved some rags and found the head of Lin Chi Ling in a jar. A mechanical device under the jar made the sound of Lin Chi Ling’s voice. She spoke to Zane, saying it was dark and she was cold and how she wished to be in his strong arms again. Zane tried to console his past lover. She said she wished she could see the sun rise one last time. Zane took her outside and described the sunrise to her, and then ended her misery.

Some discussion was held over what to do with the deed. The decision was made to keep it so that no one could profit from it. Some scouting was done to make sure the the doppelganger of Lin Chi Ling was not still in town before following the evidence and leaving for Lake Bigler.

The fastest and most direct way to Lake Bigler was through Truckee Pass. The Posse knew they had some time to spare before the Poker Tournament, and they needed an easy ride to lick their wounds. One night, Percival Ford was examining the mysterious fake eye they had found in DeDelaro’s lock box. When he held it up to his own eye, six insectoid-like legs sprouted out and grabbed his head. It pulled itself closer to Percivals own eye. Fang-like appendages opened up and began shredding his own left eye. Percival screamed as the alien-like eye replaced his original eye with itself. Percival was shocked, and despite missing his own eye was able to see things plainly. Later he discovered that his new guest allowed him to sometimes see the values of playing cards held by other people.

The party arrived at the base of Truckee Pass. Snow had been falling for the day, and darkness was approaching. A friendly Trading Post owner greeted them and offered up some squirrel stew. He also sold cold weather gear and could lead the Posse to the trailhead. That night he told ghost stories about the Donner party who had been trapped in Truckee Pass almost thirty years ago. He said their ghosts still haunted these woods, and that he used his decorative glass bottles to keep them away. He also said that no one traveled the pass this time of year, but that a group of four Pinkertons had come through a couple days earlier. They had bought up all his dynamite and said they were working for the Wasatch Railroad.

The Posse set out in the morning but quickly lost sight of the trail in the snow. They failed to reach Truckee Lake as the Trading Post owner had suggested, and they realized they were lost. They found shelter for the night and tried to start out again in the morning.

Like throughout the west coast, the posse was burdened with hunger. But the hunger felt more intense on the mountain. Rations failed to satisfy our heroes as they craved fresh meat. When morning came they saw a pair of rabbits grazing at a bare patch of grass or some flowers. Zane took aim with his pistol and killed one of the rabbits. The other rabbit didn’t run, but instead began nuzzling it’s fallen partner. This seemed weird, but Zane was hungry, so he shot the other rabbit. When he walked up, he realized the second rabbit wasn’t nuzzling his friend, he was eating him. And it wasn’t a patch of flowers they were eating, it was another rabbit. Zane didn’t think about it too much as he dove in and started eating the rabbit.

The posse started searching for the trail again, but still couldn’t find it. Percival got the feeling they were being stalked, and the posse found large human footprints, bare footprints, that circled them. Another day went by without the trail, and the posse contemplated eating one of their horses. Zane would have none of that.

The next morning brought hope as they found the trail and made it to Truckee Lake. They found one of the cabins that surrounded the lake. It was in poor shape and stunk of human waste. A wagon outside had been salvaged for firewood, and a cooking pot inside was full of bones. Viktor identified them as human. Night was approaching and the party holed up in the cabin to get warm. As the sun fell a weathered man entered the cabin. The man was starved and crazed, talking about “the others” and “monsters”. Cho tied the man up, and the Posse tried to sleep through his occasional night terrors. When they woke up, they found their rations were gone, and the only bullets they had were whatever was in their guns.

Jim Higgins, the man who walked into their camp, was more crazed and bit his own thumb off. He seemed happier after eating it. Zane knocked him out as he displayed his bloody smile. The Posse discussed options, when Jim Higgins said “I’m feeling much better now.”

Jim said he was a Pinkerton and that he and his men were on a mission to defend the Free State of California from an invading Union Army. They were ambushed by some kind of monster. He pleaded with the Posse to help him rescue his men. Cho couldn’t ignore a plea for help. Higgins lead them to a remote cabin, where his men were chained to the outside. As they circled the cabin, a large ogre of a man walked up to the cabin. Cho snuck up to release the Pinkertons. Percival caught a glipse out of the corner of his eye just in time to see the Ogreish man standing behind Zane Sharky.

Zane got his ass handed to him as the giant man started pounding him. The brute even grabbed Zanes rifle away from him. The door to the cabin burst open and the first Ogre came out. Twins! The first ogre moved to the escaping Pinkertons and he ripped one of them apart.

Viktor and Cho were the first to notice a tree outside the cabin, decorated with bottles – just like the trading post. Percival took a shot at one of the bottles and it shattered. A ghostly spirit escaped and began swirling around the tree. Viktor shot at the giant attacking Zane and shot him through the neck. The giant fell, but didn’t look like he was out. Cho and Zane began shooting at the bottles. One by one they shattered, releasing more ghosts. Just as the last bottle broke, a wisp of a deformed woman stepped out of the cabin yelling, “Boys? What the hell is going on out here. Mama needs meat!”. The spirits of the Donner party, now free, raced out at the cannibals and attacked them. A swirling tornado of spiritual energy surrounded them and then disappeared. Only their clothing was left behind.

Cho grabbed the clothing and threw it into the cabin, then lit the cabin on fire. Jim Higgins and his surviving Pinkerton watched it burn to the ground in quiet contemplation. Viktor stumbled upon the Pinkertons dynamite, and they returned to their mission.

The Pinkertons escored the posse through Truckee Pass. Ahead of them they could see an advancing Union Army led by General George Armstrong Custer. The Pinkertons annouced to advanced scouts that they would not let the Union Army pass, and that they would destroy the pass with dynamite if they had to. The Army might be able to make it through on foot, but they wouldn’t be able to get their heavy wagons through. The Union army called their bluff and began advancing. Jim Higgins lit the fuse, and the canyon walls collapsed. Beaten, the Union Army headed north to Oregon to find another way around.

Jim Higgins thanked the Posse for their help and said goodbye. The Posse had the strong feeling they would never see him again. Jim said there was still evil on this mountain that needed to be stopped. As the posse descended into Nevada, they heard two gunshots ring out from behind them. Jim and his partner had tasted human flesh, and they knew their hunger would not end. They would eventually become Wendigoes like the monsters they had faced.

The Posse headed in to the town of Lake Bigler. The town was packed with gamblers from all over North America. Sitting outside a hotel was their friend Icie. She smiled at seeing her friends and said, “Boy do I have a story to tell you.”

A Change of Plans

One week ago…

War was hell, but mostly it was loud. The new canons fired loads spiked with Ghost Rock. Occasionally the canons burst, killing the artillery crew, but the added range was worth it. Union forces could remain behind the Oak Hills and shell British forces in Toledo, safely out of range from the conventional British canons.

The air was thick with the haze of Ghost Rock smoke. A foul sulfur smell that burned the lungs and eyes. It clung to fabrics even after they had been washed. If you were unfortunate enough to have a puff of it pass over your meal, it tasted of rotten meat.

The Union General sat outside his command tent, up wind from the canon fire, receiving his daily shave. He casually read through the latest edition of The Opportunist. What he read made him stand upright. His valet managed to jump out of the way before accidentally slashing the generals throat with his straight razor.

“Bring me Colonel Upton at once!”, the General ordered.

Colonel Emory Upton was young for his rank – but not nearly as much as his commanding officer. Technically Upton was his elder, but only by a few months. They had both attended West Point, graduating in the same year. He did not rise in the ranks as fast as his peer. The result of the political backlash over allegations of relationships he had with some young black women. Allegations he dueled over, a duel which left a small scar along his face.

“Sir, you called for me?”, said the Colonel.

“Look at this paper. By God, it’s there in some shit hole town called New Opportunity. We’ve had scouts all over that area, and some egg headed fool stumbles upon it. I’m taking first company there immediately.”

“But sir, you cannot abandon your post. You have been ordered to retake Detroit.”

“Once I get this”, touching his gloved finger to the newspaper article, “we won’t need to.”

An Intercepted Telegram

John Wesley Bick was just a junior member of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He had been stationed as a clerk in a remote office deep within the Great Maze of California earlier this year after scoring high marks in training. He had joined the Agency hoping to make a difference, but so far all he had managed to do was push a few papers around and deliver news to his creepy boss. A task which he was currently burdened with. He knocked on his superiors door, and a gravely voice told him to come in.

A tall figure turned to him, looking through him as if he wasn’t there. Everything about Mr. Lane unnerved him. His boss, Andrew Lane, stood over six feet tall. His thin and wiry frame made him seem frail, but Bick had seen him carry heavy loads like they were made of goose feathers. Mr. Lane grew his hair long so that it covered a ghastly scar at the back of his head. There were plenty of rumors about what had caused that wound. Personally, Bick thought it was an injun’s botched attempt at scalping him.

“Sir, our field agents have intercepted a Union telegram.”

“Very well. Give me the highlights Mr. Bick.”, said Mr. Lane. His voice sounded like the crackling spark of a lit fuse.

“It’s from Brigadier General Malcolm Gill of Fort Lincoln to President Grant. He says that a patrol has captured a Dr. Erasmus Finn. While he doesn’t seem to be a Confederate, he did have a number of unusual devices on him. Looks like they’re sending him off to Fort 51.”

“Alright. So why did you bring this to my attention?”, asked Mr. Lane with a sneer.

“Well sir, they’re sending him to Fort 51 but they’re sending his devices off to the Boy General. You said you wanted to be notified of any news about him.”

“Ah. And where does intelligence say the Boy General is now?”

“Reports say he left the Battle of Detroit and is headed south west. We believe he will cross into California through Truckee Pass.”

Mr. Lane paused and looked over a large map of the West Coast. He ran his finger over multiple dots near Truckee Pass. Finally he spoke, “Have Jim Higgins intercept him. Use the Wasatch Rail Lines cover story. That should at least buy us some time.”


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