Angel of Mercy
|TIME:||Saturday – August 02, 1879 – 08:00 AM|
|LOCATION:||Grand Junction, CO [MAP]|
|POSSE ROLE-CALL:||Allen Jabour with his flock (Anne Wilmarth, Bernard Ackeley, Ed Green, Henry Noyes, Nathan Green)|
Sadly, the player of Jonah Westin moved away so Jonah had to leave the posse as well. However, the player of Tobias Rogers was able to rejoin the group! Additionally, the train adventure described in this log used the great train maps available for free from Pinnacle Entertainment Group (publisher of Deadlands).
On Saturday morning, the posse made their way to the Denver-Pacific station and everyone but Jonah purchased a ticket on the noon train to Denver. Jonah had decided to take his leave of the others now that Missouri was far behind. Denver did not offer him the same opportunities as the small towns to sell his custom-made remedies. In fact, he tended to be escorted out of larger cities where he plied his wares, and not always in the most courteous fashion. Instead of heading to Denver, Jonah bought a ticket north to Cheyenne.
When the train arrived, the posse (minus Jonah) had their horses and gear loaded and then boarded the last passenger car. There was a sprinkling of passengers to the front of the car so the posse sat in the rear, near an older gentleman in a nice, but old, suit. The group was surprised when, as the train pulled out of the station, none other than Tobias Rogers exited the car’s restroom. The posse greeted each other warmly and were happy to be reunited. The group exchanged stories with Tobias and learned that a day after Yang Li had left for medical help, his fever had broken. He and Seamus tried to find Yang Li but eventually had to give up the search. They continued in a round-about way to Kansas City where they hoped to meet the others. Once reaching Kansas City, he and Seamus found no trace of the other members of the posse. They stayed in the town several days, trying to avoid the attention of any government authorities; however, they soon found numerous copies of the following notice posted throughout town (one of which Tobias kept and showed to the posse)…Fearing for their freedom, Tobias and Seamus thought they should leave the Confederacy behind them – and quickly! They decided to travel to Coffin Rock, a destination commonly mentioned by several in the posse. However, they were concerned that if they travelled together, they might be identified easier so they split up. Tobias joined a group of pioneers heading west along the Oregon Trail, claiming that he was heading to the West to start a saloon. Seamus bought a train ticket out of town and that was the last Tobias saw of him. Tobias rode with the pioneers until reaching Cheyenne, where he bought a train ticket to Denver.
Understandably, the posse grew very concerned after hearing Tobias’ story and reading the wanted poster. Both the Confederacy and the Union laid claim to Colorado so it was possible that news of the reward for the group had reached the state. Hoping to avoid being recognized, Sterling decided to once again go by his old alias, David Davidson.
As the train continued its journey, Yang Li and Brother Allen both showed an interest in the older gentleman seated behind the group. He was rather short and surly, but did reveal that he was a retired surgeon named Dr. Ezra Whitehall. He once had an office in Denver but was now living in Cheyenne. He was travelling to Salt Lake City to present an invention to Smith & Robards. He believed it would revolutionize surgical procedures, but would provide little detail about the device.
Only a short time later, with the screech of brakes, the train came to a sudden halt. After a few moments, the conductor came from the front of the train and informed the passengers that a rockslide had fallen unto the tracks. Although uncommon, it was not rare for a rockslide to occur on this particular stretch of track. However, to insure the safety of the passengers, the conductor asked that everyone remain seated until the track could be cleared by the crew. He then pushed down a lever at the front of the car that caused armor plates to slide down over the passenger car windows. He also opened a concealed compartment and retrieved a gun belt containing a Gatling pistol, which he then put on. Dr. Whitehall attempted to convince the conductor to allow him to check his cargo in the freight car, but the conductor told him in no uncertain terms that passengers were not allowed in the freight car. The doctor could check the contents of his cargo when it was unloaded in Denver. The conductor then left the passenger car in order to assist in clearing the rails.
The conductor had only been gone for seconds when Tobias and Brother Allen stood up and walked to the front of the car. Tobias asked Brother Allen to lead the passengers in an impromptu prayer meeting while he examined the secret compartment revealed by the conductor. Although the other passengers were not that interested, they did not prevent Brother Allen from leading the group in prayer and song. From their seats toward the back of the car, his flock enthusiastically supported his preaching.
Upon opening the compartment, Tobias was confronted with a combination lock. With no way to bypass the lock, Tobias chose to exit the car and climb up to the roof. Once there, he spied the train crew working on moving the boulders on the track with some sort of wheeled steam lift. He saw no threats in the area. His curiosity satisfied, Tobias returned to his seat in the passenger car and waited through Brother Allen’s service.
After a short time, the train’s whistle blew and started moving forward again. The conductor entered the passenger car, switched up the car’s armor plating, and explained that the tracks had been cleared. He believed they would be able to make up for lost time and still reach Denver on schedule. He then started walking down the row, counting passengers. When he reached the back of the car, he asked if anyone knew where Dr. Whitehall had gone. He was no longer sitting in his seat. Yang Li explained that the doctor had gone to the restroom during Brother Allen’s sermon, but Yang Li had not watched him after that.
Somewhat angered and muttering that the doctor had better not entered the freight car, the conductor stomped toward the back restroom. It was at this moment that the missing doctor stumbled through the passenger car’s back door. He held a hand up against his neck, but it did not stop a fountain of blood from cascading over his fingers and down his suit. He whispered, “Not my angel,” before collapsing to the floor.
A prayer was on Brother Allen’s lips before Dr. Whitehall had completed his fall. He raced to the injured man and prayed for the Lord’s mercy. His prayer was answered and the cut on Dr. Whitehall’s neck healed to a scar, although the doctor did not regain consciousness. The conductor drew his Gatling pistol and asked Brother Allen to watch over the doctor before heading toward the back of the train.
Fifteen minutes passed without the conductor’s return. The posse watched the car’s door with guns drawn, but no threat presented itself. Sterling was sent to the front of the train to find help. He passed through two passenger cars before reaching the engine. Nothing seemed out of place.
He found the train’s engineer and fireman (technically, a firewoman in this case) inside the engine compartment. Both of them were surprised by Sterling’s presence and demanded to know what was going on. Sterling introduced himself as David Davidson and explained (in his own quirky way) what had transpired in the passenger car. Noting the firewoman’s red hair, he threw a dash of salt into her face to verify she was not one of the Fire People. Although it did not seem to cause her any undue pain, she did not like having salt thrown in her eyes and soundly bashed Sterling across the head with her shovel. Following the suggestion of the engineer, she drew her Gatling pistol and escorted Sterling back to his passenger car, hoping someone other than this strange lunatic would explain to her what the devil was going on.
Once back in the coach passenger car, the rest of the posse and the few other passengers confirmed Sterling’s story about the conductor. Noticing how the posse was handling the situation (guarding the rear door) and they were well armed, the firewoman (who introduced herself as Kim Moore) asked them to investigate the rest of the train. She really needed to assist the engineer at the front of the train. She felt certain that the Denver-Pacific Rail Co. would reward the men for their help. The group agreed and she explained that no other passengers should be in the rear of the train. Only the rear brakeman, Andrew Little, and the conductor, Adam Davis, should be encountered. She then hurried back to the engine.
The posse carefully moved into the next car, following the blood trail left by Dr. Whitehall. It was a stock car holding the group’s horses as well as the horses of other travelers. All the horses seemed very skittish and the blood trail continued through to the next car.
The next car was a freight car. The blood trail led to a large wooden crate roughly 3-feet-square. The crate was marked fragile and burned into the side was the following label:
|DR. EZRA WHITEHALL|
ANGEL OF MERCY
The bloody drag marks lead the posse to the last car: the caboose. The confines of the train forced the group to travel in single file. Yang Li was at the front of the line and it was he who opened the door to the caboose. The armored shutters had been activated and no lanterns were burning so much of the car was in shadows. The stench of blood and the buzz of flies greeted Yang Li as the door was opened. Based on the glimpses shown by random rays of light that made it inside, the car was covered in blood.
As Yang Li peered into the darkness, he managed to see the outline of a figure swaying drunkenly in the middle of the room. He heard the conductor call out, “Who’s there? I am armed…” Yang Li responded with his name and asked what had happened, but his response seemed to anger the conductor as he lunged forward in an obvious attack. From behind Yang Li, Brother Allen fired a blast with his shotgun, momentarily illuminating the bloody figure attacking as well as the ligaments that seemed to connect him to the rest of the caboose. His shot hit the conductor and caused him to drop his arm, but he continued forward… straight into a solid roundhouse kick by Yang Li. The kick sent the figure crashing into the side of the caboose. At the same time, Yang Li heard scuttling from the back of the car and had a quick glimpse of a small creature exiting through the back door. He saw little, but had a definite impression of white, feathered wings.
With no threats immediately apparent, Yang Li entered the caboose and felt around for the lever that would retract the armor plating covering the windows. His hand finally found the sticky lever and light entered the caboose. It had been turned into an abattoir.
As hinted previously, blood coated the inside of the caboose. Entrails and muscle ligaments were connected and strung around the room as ropes. These ropes had apparently allowed the now obvious corpse to be moved by a hidden controller earlier. Although severely sliced and dissected, the corpse still had a remnant of a beard on its face. The conductor did not have a beard so presumably this was the body of the brakeman, Andrew Little.
Yang Li headed for the back door as Brother Allen and the rest waited at the car junction. They scanned the roof of the caboose with their weapons, ready to fire at a moment’s notice. When Yang Li opened the door, he found no one waiting for him; the car’s rear covered walkway and stairs were empty. No other cars were attached to the caboose. He did notice more ligament/intestine rope tied around the rear handrail. The rope fell down to the tracks, where it left a bloody trail behind the train. (Unknown to the posse, this was where the creature had tied the conductor and threw him over the rails to be dragged by the train. No free Gatling pistol for them! – Ed.)
It was at this point that a small metal arm wielding a scalpel lashed up from underneath the caboose at Brother Allen’s leg. Fortunately, the scalpel missed the preacher’s tendon and only succeeded in cutting the leather of his boot. The arm was quickly followed by the rest of the creature, revealing a clockwork cherub that climbed up to the front walkway of the caboose.
Brother Allen fired at the cherub, but the automation managed to dodge the attack. However, a bolt from Sterling’s pistol, Hildegarde, quickly followed the preacher’s attack and smashed into the small machine, severely damaging it. Unfortunately, Tobias, being behind both Brother Allen and Sterling, did not have a clear line of sight to the clockwork menace and could not assist his friends. The cherub struck out again at Brother Allen, but the attack was even less successful than before. A second bolt from Hildegarde ended the threat of the automation just as Yang Li reached the battle.
The group paused for a breath as black oily smoke billowed from the clockwork’s remains. Unexpectedly, two small, scaley, demon-like creatures materialized from the smoke. The preacher quickly snapped a shot with his pistol at one of the critters, hitting it in the forehead. The body was still collapsing to the floor as Yang Li kicked its companion. Everyone heard the crack of its spine as the little beast was sent careening off the train.
After double-checking to insure no other threats lurked amongst the rear cars, the posse returned to coach. Tobias went forward and reported their success to the engineer and firewoman (leaving out any mention of the disappearing “demons”). Without trained brakemen aboard, the engineer was forced to slow the speed of the train, but other than reaching Denver behind schedule, the train suffered no further problems.
As soon as the train reached the Denver station, the remaining crew summoned the law. The chief deputy, Treyburne Hayes, soon arrived with a contingent of deputies. They interviewed the witnesses, including the posse and the now conscious, Dr. Whitehall, and eventually led Dr. Whitehall away in shackles. They also took the posse’s guns, explaining that firearms were not permitted within the city limits and that the weapons would be safely locked up in the marshal’s office. One of the deputies noted the names of the posse and made a veiled reference to the Simms Gang. Tobias quickly hushed him with a $60 bribe (supposedly good for one week of silence), paying him $10 more than he asked in an effort to doubly insure the deputy’s silence.
After speaking with the deputies, the posse met with a representative of the Denver-Pacific Rail Co. As payment for their help, the group received a reward of $200. Additionally, Brother Allen was able to convince the Denver-Pacific man to grant them free passage along the line toward Coffin Rock. However, they would have to act as guards for the railroad and they would have to pay for the transport of any livestock or freight.
Much of the night was gone by the time the group was able to grab a bite to eat and rooms for the night. Tobias and Sterling (as David Davidson) found rooms at a reasonably priced hotel while the preacher and his flock sought out a boarding house. As the others went to sleep, Tobias went in search of a card game. He found one at Gahan’s Saloon. Although the other players were obviously experienced hands, Tobias came out on top, winning $60.
|EXPERIENCE AWARD: 2|