The posse heads up toward Devils Tower, looking for the location described by Blount in his journal. It is a three-day trip, with the group passing a few groups of Indian scouts on the way, each suspicious of their presence. Upon learning their proposed destination however, they seriously doubt they will see the posse returning.
During the journey the posse happens upon a small native village where the inhabitants are all lying around in the open, not moving. Fearing plague, Steele covers his mouth with a cloth and leads an expedition to investigate, leaving McLean and John to cover the group.
Charles and Law hear a noise from within one of the teepees, and duck inside to investigate. They find a native boy, and while Law can speak his language he can't do much to convince the kid that they're not there to kill him. Charles throws the protesting boy over one shoulder to take him to safety.
Outside, Nathaniel and Steele are finding fly-bothered bodies everywhere. The mountie checks inside teepees, finding more dead inside, but no sign of any of the missionary blankets that he feels must be responsible for the outbreak.
Nathaniel notices one poor unfortunate raising a hand, and runs over to offer water. As he places his waterskin within reach, the man lurches at him, revealing milky, dead eyes and an underside running with burst pustules.
Steele places several bullets into the corpse, but it still manages to draw a knife and slash at Nathaniel, who luckily comes away with only torn clothing. Law rushes in and impales the thing on his spear, but all that does it tether it to him, the pox walker dragging itself down the length of the weapon to embrace him, opening its mouth to exhale whatever foulness dwells in its lungs...
McLean and John, alerted by the gunfire, ride in and put the creature down. Steele feels vindicated in noticing the blanket in which its wrapped, and orders the village torched.
The smoke attracts more Indians, a group of several dozen this time. They demand to know what is going on. Charles gives an impassioned speech about disposing of plague victims, and returns the child to their care. The group's leader, Laughing Bear, swears that he will repay them for such asistance.
Then Steele interjects, mentioning the blanket found in the village, and Laughing Bear swears that he will have revenge on the missionaries responsible as he and his war party ride off.
Once within view of Devils Tower, the posse has to cross the Bell Fourche River finding themselves ona trail that crosses through a prairie dog town. The animals watch them curiously from all around as they pass, but once the humans reach the centre of their territory, the creatures swarm out in two packs, gaining rapidly on the riders. Steele and John waste bullets picking off lone dogs, but McLean comes to a halt to light up a few sticks of dynamite.
Closer up, he sees that the dogs are far from normal, mouths filled with piranha-like teeth. They start ripping into the legs of his horse and pack mule before he properly kicks away from them, gaining enough ground to toss dynamite into their midst, scattering those that survive and gaining enough time for the posse to get away.
They find the twisted clump of pines that Blount mentioned, and a cursory examination reveals some smoked cigarillos and a raven image carved into one of the trunks. They decide to camp for the night and explore further come morning.
John Texas has a dream, where an Indian shaman speaks to him, asking to be freed from the Tower, saying that there were three ways to enter, via the door, the chimney or the river...
The rest of the posse laughs off his story, as he has suffered from bad dreams as long as they've known him. But when he starts to experience similar visions while awake, they decide to see if there is some truth to the story.
Checking out the river, they find an underwater tunnel pumping pollutants into it, and decide against swimming up it. Instead, riding around the piranha dog town, they head for the Tower itself, and see a group of heavily armed men guarding a large doorway, complete with sleeping tents, horses and a steam wagon.
Leaving Charles to provide covering fire with his elephant gun, the others approach, finding themselves facing off against four of Kang's rail warriors armed with flamethrowers, a martial artist, one of the ronin samurai and a man and woman clearly in charge. Joe Lin introduces himself and Minnie Chung, and asks the posse the familiar questin of what exaxtly they think they're doing there.
It seems for a while that he believes their cover story of being sent by Kang, until they mention being sent to relieve him and his crew; no one ever gets released from the punishment duty of ensuring that the Tower's devils don't get free. However, he does offer to leave the posse unmolested if they let him go free, perhaps killing a few of his associates - the flamethrower men not speaking English - to cover his escape story.
The posse is not cool with this. Even less cool with this is the samurai, who finds such talk dishonourable. Voices are raised, and a gun is drawn, and Joe shoots the ronin.
Asked inside by Elizabeth Burns, the posse takes tea and biscuits while the woman heads off to get her father. While not outright accusing him of murder, their line of questioning regarding Squires' death does startle Elizabeth enough to drop her tea. While she goes to clean the mess, Burns Sr. acquiesces to the posse's proposal to see his steam wagon, to check if it is the one they're looking for. He leads them through the kitchen, and after humbly offering 'after you', locks them all in a windowless room with a rapidly dropping temperature...
They fuss around trying to find a way out, with no door handle, the grilles draining the heat too small and a bullet ricochet a very real possibility. Even more worrying are the dried stains indicating that the chamber used to hold a large quantity of blood...
Eventually, Law smashes the door down and the posse splits up to try and find Burns. John pops out back, to be mystified by the diabolical contraption that is the mad scientist's outhouse. Steele, Law and Nathaniel head upstairs, and after opening doors to the abandoned room of Burns and a neat little guest room they find Elizabeth packing a suitcase. Despite her protests, Steele announces her arrest and handcuffs her.
Charles and McLean go out the front door to have a look at the stables/garage, finding the doors open and the sound of an active steam wagon issuing forth. They split up around either side of it, finding Burns hunched over his own packing case. Their demand that he surrender prompts him to smash a button on the apparatus he has buckled around his chest, and they both shoot him.
At the sound of gunfire, Law and Nathaniel dash to investigate, leaving Steele to watch the captive. The mountie, being far from at his best after his recent injuries, is taken unawares as Elizabeth shoves him toward the stairs and leaps through a window, although he does give chase and catches up to her outside. Her aspersions regarding his honour startle him, however.
Burns has activated a gadget that grants some small amount of protection against the bullets whizzing his way, and hefts a flamethrower up from his case while demanding to know where his daughter is. While he doesn't catch either of his assailants, he does set the wall of the building on fire and leaps onto his steam wagon, powering it forward.
John joins the others in blasting away at the scientist and dodging his fiery returns. Eventually Burns slumps unconscious, his weapon arm caught in the gears of the steering mechanism and wrenching the wagon out of control.
Law heads back inside to see what's keeping Steele, and jumps to his rescue, overtaking the shaken mountie and takling the woman, who finally agrees to come quietly.
McLean jumps aboard the steam wagon and manages to drag it back under control. Nathaniel - sure that he learned enough about the Aetheric Votex Generator from observing it in action - drags Burns' invention from inside the vehicle and uses it to douse the flame. Further investigation yields refridgerated tanks of blood inside the vehicles, and Burns' journal.
There is no sign of the servant Needham, and Elizabeth says that he disappeared the day before. A search of his room yields no clues and nothing missing, save for a single straight razor.
Law and McLean stay at the Burns residence in case Needham returns for some reason, and alternately put to rest passing townsfolk's fears and stir up their paranoia, depending on which one was doing the talking.
The two scientists are dropped off in town with Marshal Bullock, who is most appreciative of the posse's assistance. Burns' journal describes in some detail how the human blood is needed to extinguish the phlogiston fumes that are given off after a ghost rock fire goes out, and how Needham was but the latest of his servants, but the first to fully agree to aid him. Later entries state that the man is beginning to scare even him...
Putting out a sketch of the fugitive on a wanted poster - Needham being a tall, thin feller in a suit with glasses - the Marshal keeps the other two in the jail for the time being. The posse in unconvinced that Elizabeth has anything to do with the murders, and certainly both she and her father - once the later has regained consciousness - back up this theory.
Charles informs the miners of the results of the investiagtion, and the posse joins them for a wake in honour of those that have been killed, as well as burials. Expeditions out to strikes to see if anyone else went missing finds five more exsanguinated bodies, and one more recent, missing hands and feet, with 'OnE fOr ThE rOaD' written in blood nearby...
Nathaniel's stories of the capture of the slaughter-happy scientist and the extinction of the terrible fire lizards ar both published, doing much to cheer a town despondent over so much recent tragedy. His ideas for continuing to use Burns' methods to fully purify Satan's Garden do meet some moral objection, though.
Law does some more snooping through Chinatown, and as well as discovering that a large number of blood-drained bodies had been discovered - and privately dealt with - amongst its population, he finally gets some hints of Kang's dealings with the Ravenites, trading them guns. There's supposedly someone called Fong-Bei - AKA the Deadly Cobra-Handed Assassin - involved with the deals.
Burns is kept alive for questioning, Bullock determined to find out how many deaths he's responsible for exactly before he hangs him. Elizabeth is released, and the posse is worried about sending her to live alone at her father's place. She rebuffs the suggestion of her - a single woman! - sharing a roof with a man, and so the posse puts out some adverts in the paper, hiring a maid - Dorothy Ingrams - to serve and look after her. Dorothy's brother Percival signs on as Charles' manservant.
With Steele mostly recovered from his injuries after another couple of weeks, the posse contemplates looking into Kang's dealings with the Ravenites...
Burns and his daughter fit their goggles and protective suits as they wheel the Aetheric Vortex Generator from the back of the wagon, and the posse takes up watch posts at regular intervals around the mine entrance. With the suction nozzle fitted securely over the cave, the screams of the roarting fire are drowned by the cacophony of the machine sucking the phlogiston from the ghost rock within.
There is soon a clunk, and Elizabeth goes to pry loose whatever got stuck in the machine with a long stick. With the generator off, she pries the corpse of a fire lizard from within the nozzle, but then more come swarming up from the depths, igniting as they reach the surface.
The lizards are over the posse before they can manage to gun them all down in the driving ash storm, and more scalding wounds are dealt out. While still tussling with the monsters, a larger specimen drags itself forth, one proudly dangling the snapping heads of its litter from orifices in its underbelly.
Steele drags himself from out the jaws of a lizard, warns off one about to devour Elizabeth with a wild shot and gets the posse in enough order to fight back, Charles being the one to finally bag the brood mother as it chased Jim McClean around a little.
Burns is all for proceeding, since no one died, but with Steele severely mauled and Jim and John none too fit either a group decision is made to head back for a little recuperation. His device needs refueling anyway, Burns concedes.
There are no attacks on the way out of Satan's Garden, and the posse finds Needham having kept a tidy and safe camp in their absence. Together they set off back to Deadwood, where Charles finds somewhere to store the carcass of the beast to await shipping, and Burns pays them another helping of their wages.
The next few days pass with the majority of the posse recuperating. Law takes time to explore Chinatown, but finds himself shunned whenever he tries to ask any questions.
Charles buys a few drinks as thanks for the miner, Scott, that gave him the heads-up for the fire lizards - even if it was meant as warning - and gets to know him and his buddies Phillip Squires and Virgil. Thus, he's the first guy that Scott turns to when Phillip goes missing.
A little investigation learns that other than shooting the breeze with his buddies in the saloon, Phillip spent his time away from the mine - and the money he earned from the mine - with soiled doves.
And thus, Charles gathers the posse to head off to the whore house.
The Mint Gambling Saloon is run by a German and his trick-shooting wife Kitty. The posse gets themselves a table, some drinks, some food and some ladies. Phillips'a favourite is otherwise occupied, so they enjoy themselves.
Charles politely rebuffs the attention of the ladies, enjoying the company but not taking it beyond drinking company. John Texas finds that his disfiguring scar keeps them from getting too close. McClean gets his money's worth. Steele and Law find their foreign accents get them some attention, but when the mountie discovers that Herr Mint is keeping them from having any drinks while working for him, he reprimands the man and gets the whole table riotously jolly.
When Kitty eventually brings Heidi over, things become serious and they question her about when she saw Phillip last. She remembers that when he came in a couple of nights ago he was full of the usual stories of ghost miners and fire lizards, but also the fear that he was being followed. Law thanks her with some money, splashing enough of it around to get Heidi and the woman he had already been talking with to both join him that night. Jim also decides to stay for a little while, as the others leave to sleep off their hangovers.
In the morning they head off to Phillip's mine, and find his body in the shaft, a rock fallen on its head. More investigation finds that there are no signs of a cave-in, and the man's throat has been slit. Footprints dragged him into the mine, and left on some form of wagon without horses.
The posse mounts up and heads off to ask Burns a few questions...
Of course, in the time between the defeat of the kidnappers and meeting up with Charley Bull, Steele takes the time to interrogate one of the fools who'd tried to carry him off. The man identifies himself as Mu Kwan, and admits he and his comrades had been sent to silence those who had been to Dusky Jewel, the man in red and the blind shaman being those that stand out of the crowd.
From the captor turned captive, they learn that the Iron Dragon railroad has a number of mines scattered around the Black Hills area, operating while bending - if not outright breaking - the Deadwood Treaty. Mu Kwan explains this freely, knowing that his life is now forfeit once his bosses discover his failure. More will come as well, so the posse should not rest easy.
Steele offers the man a signed letter offering safety should he get to Canada. It's a slim hope, but still enough to earn Mu Kwan's gratitude as he high-tails it out of town.
After that, the posse meets with Charley Bull, and signs on with Burns' expedition. The following morning, they meet with the scientist and are introduced to his daughter Elizabeth and manservant Needham. They mount up and ride alongside the stream wagon that contains the Aetheric Vortex Generator, Nathaniel interviewing the genius on the trip up to Satan's Garden.
As they reach the outskirts of the area, signs of plantlife diminishing, Burns suggests they set up camp and the party scout the area. From atop a hill they spot an incoming group of a dozen or so Indians, and form up some defences at the camp to prepare themselves.
When they arrive, instead of attacking the war party offers a warning against going into the wasteland, for fear of meeting the fire lizards that lurk within. Burns laughs off the warnings and the Indians ride off. The posse raises a collective eyebrow at the scientist's urging that they should follow the visitors and kill them before they came back in greater numbers, and refused to do so.
Leaving Needham to watch the camp, the posse walks into the Garden as Burns trundles his steam wagon through. Soon they're tramping through deep drifts of ash, and the air becomes thick with more of it. A trio of lizards burst from beneath the surface, catching fire upon contact with the air and savaging Charles, Steele and John. Steele is horribly burned in the struggle, but the frightneing appearance of the beasts drives John slightly crazy, and he guns them down with a vengeance.
Wary now, they press further into the scorching landscape, noticing another ten lizards skittering through the ash toward them. They open fire through the haze and bag a few, but still they close, leap up and bite, cathcing fire once again. Steele again suffers at their jaws, as does McClean, and this time John is slower to react, and is almost torn apart.
He is saved as Nathaniel, normally a pacifist, charges in with a knife and hacks the lizard apart. Seeing others of his friends in danger, he dashes off to do the same for Steele, and the mionsters are once again dispatched. The wagon rolls on to the entrance to the mine itself, the billowing smoke of the everburning ghost rock fires taunting Burns and his device. Now comes the time for him to prove his genius.
The posse heads back to Deadwood, triumphant yet in mourning. Howls at the Moon heads back to his spot in the tent city while the rest get back to the second best hotel in town, Charles renting himself a room.
Their well-earned rest is disturbed by a fracas, with John's door actually being smashed open by a body falling inward. A martial artist and a gunman are fighting a group of Iron Dragon rail warriors, and shout about the group already having made off with Steele. John runs off with the two strangers, Nathaniel leaves to try and find an office rof the law, and Charles spends some time getting ready to be presentable.
Some cavalrymen agree to aid Nathaniel once he brings up the facts that he is a reporter and that it wouldn't look good if people were shot in the street on their watch.
Further up that main street, a trio of kidnappers make off with Steele over one shoulder in the direction of the rail line dividing Deadwood proper from Chinatown, and the gunman running alongside John shoots one of them dead. Another turns to face the martial artist, and as the two duel with fists John sneaks around to pistol-whip the kidnapper severely.
The last remaining kidnapper puts a pistol to Steele's head, all threat, only to have his head explode as Charles catches up and shoots him with an elephant gun.
Seeing the matter resolved, the soldiers get back to their picket, leaving the posse and the two strangers to return to the hotel for a little napping and an early breakfast.
The two are Jim McClean and the martial artist known as Law, partners in crime-fighting. They had been tracking Kang's bully boys - Law having personal business with 'em - and upon seeing the kidnapping in progress sprang into action.
Charley Bull joins the posse at breakfast, having heard of the altercation in the town square. He is sad to hear of Blount and Martin's deaths, and intrigued by the journal entry. He implores the posse to investigate the night meeting between the Iron Dragon and Sioux, but admits that there is no rush. Jim and Law agree to join the group, and look into a little paying work before they head off into the wilderness.
Looking over the newspaper's classified ads, they find a man asking for protection as he seeks to explore Sioux territory.
At the saloon meeting with the client - one Hyram Burns - reveals that he plans to douse the ever-burning site known as Satan's Garden, in order to harvest the ghost rock still trapped within the mine. The details of his scientific endeavour are not for laymen, but he will need protection in case of Indian trouble.
Charles' attention is wandering, until a drunken miner at a nearby table warns them against going, for fear of being eaten by the giant, firebreathing lizards that are siad to roam Satan's Garden and devour all who go near...
After the meeting, Nathaniel does a little investigation at the Office of Indian Affairs regarding ownership of the mine under Satan's Garden, and while it is currently unclaimed, whosoever can find a way past the burning ghost rock is welcome to keep it. He puts his name in the records, just in case somehting shoiuld happen to Burns...
Getting past Custer's pickets quickly and easily, the posse heads back to find Charley Bull, Nathaniel stopping off briefly to leave his pictures to be developed by the newspaper offices.
Charley is naturally shocked to learn of such a massive Chinese operation being set up in breach of the Deadwood Treaty, but cautions against alerting the army for fear of things getting out of hand. Hating to ask more of people that had alrerady risked so much, he did wonder if it could be possible to determine Blount's ultimate fate...
The posse agrees to go back for a second look, but not before making a few preparations. A whole crate of dynamite is purchased, for a start, and Nathaniel gets himself a fancy-looking spyglass.
Danielle thinks better of sticking with the group and takes her leave to continue her own search for her missing father. Thus it is that five ride out to Dusky Jewel (a new horse being one of the minor things purchased alongside the mighty dynamite).
They stake the site out for a while first, Nathaniel and Martin venturing atop the canyon to examine the barbed wire fence and spy on the settlement below. Security has been increased since their last visit, with armed groups patrolling the fence, but they are able to sneak in and out between watches.
In Dusky Jewel there is a chaotic mess of individuals - fewer samurai than before, mind - so to find Blount they'll have to climb down.
Martin sneaks up to the drainage grille to plant a big load of dynamite, to be detonated as a distraction, should it come to that. Another pair of sticks each for everyone going down into the camp.
While he's away, a stranger saunters up to the camp, toting an elephant gun. Introducing himself as hunter Charles Harding, he asks to join their fire. While game is rather hard to come by in Sioux lands, he's still trying, but when he hears of the kidnapping that the posse are investigating, he offers to help them.
While slightly mistrusting of the man, it'll be good to have someone with a big gun watching over them as they sneak in, and someone with eyes to detonate the dynamite. Howls At The Moon is slightly less useful in those capacities, but stays behind with his wolf to keep watch over the stranger.
The other four descend at night into the canyon, Martin snatching some clothes from the miners' tents so that they can try to blend in. They saunter through the camp quietly, hidden beneath wide-brimmed hats. Steele's refusal to fully remove his mountie uniform does attract some unwanted attention though, and as they pass the general store in camp. While not speaking a word of Chinese, Nathaniel steps in to speak up for his comrade, indicating that he is drunk and nodding and complying as the two are pointed back toward the tenting area.
John and Martin carry on toward the large storage sheds, but are again discouraged by a pair of attentive guards and instead sneak around the rear, where the mountain man begins whittling away at the plank wall with his knife while the gunslinger keeps watch.
Steele decides to set fire to a few tents as a distraction. When panic breaks out, he and Nathaniel run back to the general store, circumventing the guards. They duck inside to have a look around, finding a corpse strung up at the back with a sign around its neck, clearly that of Blount. Steele finds the man's journal in a pocket and takes it with him on the way out.
The ringing bell of the store door has brought more guards running, and Steele lobs his dynamite into the locamotive tender, Nathaniel at the samurai velocipedes. As it explodes spectacularly - ghost rock will do that - the mountie shouts at the guards before making his getaway. The attentive rail warrior takes his cue and plugs Steele through the chest with a rifle round.
John and Martin come runnin' at the commotion, providing covering fire while Nathaniel drags the heavily wounded Steele back toward their escape rope. As more guards converge, Martin takes a bullet too.
Charles sets off the charges at the wall, and another distraction gives even the heavily wounded members of the posse time to vamoose. Two guards get the drop on John and Martin, but even as the latter takes down the man aiming at this comrade, he himself takes a final, fatal shot to the arm.
John Texas avenges the mountain man and stays behind to fight off further attacks while the others climb back to safety, and once he's up too Nathaniel drops his dynamite down to cut off pursuit and save Martin from the horrible display that was made of Blount.
Would the information in the journal be worth a man's life? In it, Blount describes the shadowed meeting he spied between the Sioux and the Iron Dragon ralroad folk, in the shadow of Devils Tower...
The posse heads on up to Blount's claim, the rainclouds gradually giving way to a clear, if dark, sky. The prospector's been camping in a little gully, a small shed with a few caves dug out of the cliff-faces.
Martin scouts ahead to take a closer look at things, finding a big splatter of blood across one face of the shed, but no signs of gunfire. Danielle joins him and cautiously pokes open the shed door, finding a man asleep in a hammock, with a shotgun and an empty bottle of whiskey.
Slamming the door to get his attention and making sure that he's well-covered, the posse learns from the man that he's not Blount, but one Gideon Gorrell, fellow miner looking to borrow a shovel while his friend was away. He confirms the time of Blount's departure, as well as offering up the fact that the other had shouted about heading east of the Cheslow Fork, to a town called Dusky Jewel. There's no such place, he assures them.
The blood appeared after Blount left, so it ain't his, and it disquieted Gideon enough that he thought to borrow his friend's whiskey along with his shovel. When confronted about his free ways with other's stuff, he says that he's good friends with Blount and will pay him back. The posse decides to spend the night in the camp - Gideon's stories of 'ghost miners' holding no terror - and in the morning insist that he heads on off to Deadwood while they check out Dusky Jewel.
Following the directions of the map and heading east, they come across a walled canyon, armoured in steel anf with gatling-gun mounted towers. A large door bears a Chinese dragon.
Once again Martin heads off to scout, finding a grille-covered gap in the wall where a stream trickles under it and barbed wire surrounding the canyon walls above. From a high vantage point he can however see down into the camp, and make out many chinese workers and a large steam locamotive pointed into a mine working. Howls at the Moon communes with an eagle spirit to get a sense of how old the structure is, and finds it to be less than a year, with few visitors and no attacks on it.
Steele decides upon an amicable approach to try and see Blount, if the man is indeed aside. He leads the posse to ride openly before the gate, where the men in the towers take a 'shoot first' approach to negotiation. The montie's horse is destroyed in an explosion of blood, but John Texas rides up to allow him to mount behind him as they ride off.
With pursuit sure to follow, Martin jumps up behind Nathaniel and the posee rides hell for leather for Deadwood.
Sure enough, half a dozen men soon come into view behind them. In samurai armour. Riding steam velocipedes.
A running battle takes place as the biker-ronin attempt to stop the spies from getting away, alternating firing their bows and driving in close to lash out with their katana. When one takes John's hat - very nearly his head - the gunman snaps and manages to take a couple out. With some clever riding on behalf of Nathaniel, leading the samurai into some rough terrain where their velocipedes can't qute cope, the posse isolates and takes apart the aggressors, leaving one lone biker to peel away in retreat as Deadwood comes into view, and the noble soldiers of Custer's army ride out in relief...
Wovoka and his Paiute group thank our heroes in the posse, explaining that they were ambushed on their way to meet with the Sioux to bring tidings of the coming of the White Buffalo.
Their attackers were of the Cult of the Raven, a subversive group hidden amongst the native population dedicated to overthrowing the Old Ways and spreading fear and chaos across the world. The posse listens as the shaman lays down the exposition on the nature of the Reckoning that released the manitou from the Hunting Grounds, and how the White Buffalo is a sign of hope and change.
Wovoka charges Howls At The Moon with accompanying the heroes to Deadwood, to better educate them in the ways of the Ghost Dance, and meet up with Bull All The Time (AKA Charley Bull), a 'civilised' Indian living in the town.
Parting ways, the posse proceed back to the damaged coach, where the driver and shitgunner are being held up once again - this time by the fallen bandit from their earlier fight. No one had thought to check him for a pulse.
With Steele talking him down and Martin pointing a rifle at him, the bandit thinks better of pushing his luck and heads off into the hills.
The journey resumes, now with an Indian and his wolf sharing carriage-space. They aren't far from Deadwood when they notice large numbers of blue-clad Union soldiers also heading for the settlement. They arrive ahead of them, and upon disembraking learn a little of why they've come.
The expeditionary force sent to arrest the renegade Custer and his forces was in the process of doing so when they were ambushed by Indians. Losing their commander in the early stages of the battle, they fight on under Custer's command, and the lietenant-colonel delivers them victory before leading them on toward Deadwood.
The posse finds all the best rooms at the Grand Central Hotel booked up, and looks for alternate accommodation while Nathaniel manages to get a photograph of and interview with Custer himself, uncovering the mans plans to eradicate the Sioux and free Deadwood from the savage siege it supposedly suffers under. The reporter promptly takes both over to the local newspaper offices, securing himself a tidy sum for his exclusive scoop.
After gathering together again, the posse searches for Charley Bull, finding that he patronises the theater a lot. Threading their way past miners loudly enjoying the Shakespearean performances inside, they meet up with the Anglicised Indian, who is delighted that they have saved Wovoka. He mentions that a contact of his, a miner named Mister Blount, has gone missing after mentioning overseeing some dealings between the Ravenites and the employees of the Iron Dragon railroad company. That certainly bore investigating, and Charley hands over a map to Blount's mine, as well as assuring Danielle that he had seen her father around Deadwood, although he left a few days ago...
The posse buys up a selection of mighty steeds and cheap nags accorsing to their respective means - Martin opts to walk - for their trip into the Black Hills, and its not long before it starts raining, They tramp along the narrow path between the array of poles where the Sioux have strapped the corpses of miners who've broken their laws. Martin and Danielle feels hands on their shoulders...
Two of the pole men step down to grab at the posse, their rubbery limbs dripping decaying flesh. The horses panic and scatter, the posse fires wildly, Nathaniel distracts a ghoul with a well-thrown tin of beans... In moments it's as if nothing happened, save for the two corpses splattered in the mud rather than staked out to the sky...
Having finished The Flood plot point campaign for the Deadlands RPG, now comes the time to move onto The Last Sons, where a valiant posse must test themselves against the Reckoners' most favoured servant, Raven himself...
So there they are, in the Deadwood coach for various reasons. Our heroes. Sam Steele, resplendant in his red uniform, a proud representative of the nation of Canada. Beside him, Martin Toksvig seems even scruffier, the mojntain man's eyes darting back and forth across his travelling companions. Nathaniel Hayes has already exhausted most routes of inquiry, but the newspaper-man is making use of the travel time to properly compose these stories in his notebook. Danielle Douglas just shuffles her deck of cards constantly, disappointed to not get a game in. The scarred gunman John Texas rounds out the passenger list, chatting amiably enough and ignoring the fact that no one wants to meet his gaze.
The coach rocks and tilts, throwing everyone forward, and a voice demands that they show themselves. The passengers debate what to do, but when the bandits threaten to kill the coach driver and his shotgun-ridin' brother, Steele climbs out, determined to end things without bloodshed.
The mountie makes calming motions and words, as Danielle and Hayes climb out behind him. They notice that the coach has hit a trench, the horses running off into the night. John and Martin climb out the other side, the gunslinger scanning the hillside for the attackers while the mountain man takes out his rifle and hides himself behind the coach.
Six men appear over the hills, three either side. Upon seeing no resistance, they walk forward calmly, their leader introducing himself as Sam Bass. Both sides wait calmly as the distance closes, but then a shot rings out, as the shotgunner, hiding in the trench, opens fire in an effort to protect his brother. No one is hit, but Martin fires as well, dropping Sam Bass with a single bullet. John takes the wrath of the bandits as he is gunned down by the three men facing him, and as Hayes scrambles back into the coach and Steele shouts for calm, one of the bandits flanking Bass collapses under an eerie light. No eyes are on Danielle at that moment.
Bass gives the order to retreat, and the five remaining bandits vamoose, leaving Hayes to drag John inside where Danielle can tend to his wounds. Steele quickly gathers the horses back, but the coach driver announces that there'll be a few hours of repair before the wheels are ready to roll again. It'll likely be a long night...
A lonely train whistle disturbs their rest a few hours later, but it's not until Martin - on watch - spots an injured man approaching that the posse comes out to investigate. What they had assumed to be a dog at his side turns out to be a wolf, and the man a native shaman, blind and heavily wounded. Danielle gives him a shot of morphine before tending to his injuries.
Once suitably recovered, the stranger introduces himself as Howls at the Moon, and asks for more help. He is part of a delegation of Paiute travelling to meet the Sioux, and his comrades have been attacked by a rival Indian group while they camped for the night. The posse sets out to help.
En route, a screeching and giant shadow across the moon gives away a flight of savage creatures on the hunt. While the rest of the posse fends off their assailants, Steele is grasped by the talons of one of the devil bats, and wrenched painfully into the sky. Once again Martin is on target, slaying the beast in one shot and dropping the mountie to a painful landing. He's tended too and recovers quickly, yet the sound of the gunfire can't fail to have been notcied by anyone across the otherwise silent plains that night...
Coming across the location of the ambush, Steele plots out a strategy while Martin goes out scouting the area and Howls summons the spirit of one of his deceased comrades to consult over the situation. Upon learning of one of the enemy having a stock of dynamite, Steele decides to go for an approach from the opposite side, causing a distraction to catch the enemy off guard and act as cover for the trapped Paiute to make a break for it.
The plan goes off relatively hitchlessly, the posse taking out the few gun-toting braves one or two at a time, covered by Martin from a position of cover. The Paiute are alerted to the rescue by Howls' spirit, and aided by near pitch-darkness the two teams head off to escape, leaving the frustrated 'Ravenites' with little for their trouble...
So, after my post last week
, I did get around to watching all of Attack on Titan,
and potentially dumping on more popular things. And only looking back through older posts
that I made do I realise that it's been over a year and a half since I last saw new anime.
Maybe that's why I'm so impressed by Titan. The title is still silly (it doesn't make any sense, and doesn't have the excuse of being a direct translation of the Japanese, so what were they thinking?), but the other points that irked me last week have passed. It is another case of having to sit through the first few episodes of a series before realising that it is really good.
The speed-lines don't appear beyond the first few episodes, and after discovering the varying fashion styles as one goes past inner walls, even the jackets make sense. Well, except for the fact that they can't possibly button up, making them something of a liability for a military force whose members swing around like Spider-Man...
The show chalks up a fair few traditional mecha tropes, and even zombie ones, but for all that the central mysteries are still intriguing. Not all (are any?) are answered before the end of the season, but not in a frustrating manner. The plot is basically a few heavily detailed set-pieces spread out over several hours, with only a coiple of 'stnad-alone' episodes to allow for bretah-catching in-between. They're so intense (really good animation, even if the effect of the Mobility Gear doesn't quite make sense visually) that the questions that add on top rather than being distracting. And it makes me want to see what happens next. Maybe even read the original comics...
The titans themselves were a pleasant surprise. Prior to watching the series, the only images of them in promotional material seem to be of the armoured and female titans, so I had asumed they all followed that skinles bone-and-muscle aesthetic. I was pleasantly surprised and creeped out to find that they're actually much better than that: naked, sexless giants that lumber around as if not familiar with their own skin.
Massive, fixed-grin zombies fighting web-slinging heroes in the remains of a strangely medieval post-apocalyptic society. Yeah! Pretty gory in places, but it's not all senseless violence, with a nice selection of characters placed in these horrifying circumstances to cope as they will.
The highest compliment I can give is wanting to watch it again right now, to pick up on bits I may have missed first time through. I don't get what's made it especially popular, though; it's good, but hardly the best thing ever.