Thursday, August 31, 2017

Deadlands: Cold Hard Crash

The paladin was approached by a member of the Texas Rangers, a fellow named Ketchum. Who's name should sound familiar - he was the guy that the Butcher stole an eye from. He congratulated the paladin on taking down the creature, but added, "We need you to keep an eye on this train. Sign up, get paid, but if anything strange happens... let us know." He provided two addresses, one in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the other in Salt Lake City.

Another member joined the posse - a young Apache woman named Kiri Haere. She speaks broken English, but enough to get by, at least.

The train ride was quite uneventful for the next two days; it trekked through Kansas, then eastern Colorado, before finally heading up the mountains. The posse got the know each other, as well as a dapper card player named Reginald Willis, a reporter named Sally Sawyer, who worked for the Tombstone Epitaph, and a rotund fellow named Jim Lunk. Hector grew fond of sharing his stories with Sally, who wrote down every word.

On Friday, early evening, there was a sudden crash, and the occupants of the train were tossed around like rag-dolls! Most of the posse managed to keep from sustaining any injury, but the rest of the passengers were not so fortunate. Wilhelm quickly began healing those he could, while Hector ran for the front of the train. At the end of the hallway, he opened the door - and ran smack into a solid wall of ice! The access to the next car was completely blocked! He chipped at the ice with his knife, but realized it was a good three inches thick - too thick to get through quickly. Running back for the side door, he jumped out and headed to the engine. The engineer was laying on the floor, bleeding badly from a headwound; his assistant was trying to stabilize him, but seemed to be suffering from a broken arm. Hector called Abigail, who grabbed her bag and began tending the engineer. Hector asked how he could help, and the assistant started pointing at knobs and levers - "Turn that - pull that and hold it ten seconds - crank that hard left!" The built up steam began releasing, and the groaning of the wheels stopped.

Meanwhile, Kiri pulled out her pick, and started chopping away at the iced-over door. After a few minutes of work, she managed to get enough cracked open to start prying it off. The paladin assisted, and together they opened the door.

When Hector dashed outside, he realized the air was bone-chillingly cold. As Kiri and the paladin opened the train car, they could feel the same cold radiating out of the room beyond, even though the air actually rushed past them, and into the frozen tomb. For tomb it was - the head porter was frozen solid. Well, the bits that remained. His body was cracked in half, part frozen to the wall, and part smashed against the front of the train car. The four other occupants were similarly frozen - absolutely solid, as if simply stopped in time. As Kiri searched the forward compartments, the paladin searched the first two rooms. One was empty, while the other was occupied by two frozen corpses. A quick search revealed the two were likely visiting their relative in the City of Lost Angels - as well as some loose jewels. The paladin accepted the jewels as payment for telling the dead woman's sister of her untimely demise.

Kiri, meanwhile, discovered a hollow bottom on a case, and found inside a letter, signed by Ulysses S. Grant himself - the man, it seems, was a Pinkerton! She also found some Union and Confederate money, as well as some gold coins.

Hector, finishing up with the knobs and dials, stepped back outside to see there were people beginning to mill about. A woman grabbed her husband's arm, pleading with him to go back into the warmth of the train, but he merely stood in place, staring blankly ahead. Hector tried to push him away, then tried hitting him, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, Hector convinced the woman to return to the train, and met up with the others. No one seemed to know what to do... until they heard a footstep on the roof of the train car. Hector pulled out his gun and stepped outside.

And came face-to-face with a terrible grin. The man staring down at him was missing a chunk of his side, exposed ribs white in the dim light of the train. Hector leaped back into the train and slammed the door. "There's no way I'm going back out there - it's that monster again!"

The paladin, hoping to break up whatever ritual was happening, shoved over one of the men, but he just stood back up again and returned to his place. Seeing the strange monster was weaving a track on the ground, the paladin braced himself. Hector poked his gun out, drawing a bead on the creature. Wilhelm, too, pulled out his gun and cracked a window. The three attacked together - Hector blew off the creature's head, Wilhelm nearly severed its leg, and the paladin finished the job... and the monster merely grinned at them.

Together, they kept fighting. It seemed the paladin's blade was about the only thing that could harm the creature; it slammed into the paladin, wounding him, but the paladin was better armored.

Finally, with a scream of frustration, the monster turned and ran. A final bullet stopped him in his tracks; a column of ice slammed into the ceiling, marking where the monster last stood.

Together, the posse gathered what tools they could, and set about chipping away at the ice locking the carriage to the ground. Hours later, the freed train began to move away from that dark place...

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