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THE DENVER DEFENCE BRIGADE

A dime novel by Andrew Roberts


Based on characters and settings by Pinnacle Entertainment and Great White Games

The year is 1879, and the history is not our own. After almost two decades of bitter fighting, the American Civil War has ground to a standstill. The Confederate States are still free. California has fallen into the Pacific Ocean. Rail Barons fight bloody battles to decide whom the victor will be in the race for a transcontinental railroad, while a super-fuel called ghost rock advances technology by unpredictable leaps and sometimes dangerous bounds. The Sioux have retaken the Dakotas and the Coyote Confederation dances the Ghost Dance on the High Plains. Some even say the dead walk among us. In the Disputed Territory of Colorado, an unknown party is spreading discord amongst the Cheyenne people, their eyes set on the gold convoys that travel from the Rockies to Denver

Keep moving! The coachman hissed as the stagecoach raced through the path that weaved through the Rocky Mountains, I dont like this place. Frank, stop getting paranoid. The driver replied with his hands firmly on the reins, Its a scenic route and were not far from Idaho Springs. We can change horses there. Franks hands were gripped tightly on his shotgun. I dont care if its scenic. He said with increasing agitation, I dont like it. It makes me nervous Whats the matter? Are you afraid that a Catamounts gonna get yer? No, I dont believe that hocus-pocus shit. Im worried cause the last two shipments never made it to Denver, now that the Great Spirit is spooking them Cheyenne folks. Inside the coach, four men were seated in the cabin, nervously watching the two boxes of gold underneath the seats. Hearing the discussions, they attempted to load the revolvers and repeaters balanced on their laps, hands trembling like leaves.

As the stagecoach continued along the road, Frank was becoming almost hysterical as he noticed a set of falling rocks. He kept the shotgun prepared. At that moment, an arrow pierced the side of the coach. He turned and fired both barrels in the direction it came from. War cries echoed through the mountains as Cheyenne riders emerged from behind the rocks and pursued the wagon. Its the Injuns! One of the men inside shouted. He leaned out of the window with his revolver and fired wildly at their pursuers. It was no use. His hands were shaking so rapidly that his bullets simply flew into the distance. An arrow stuck him in the chest and he fell out of the stagecoach. At the same time, the driver lashed the horses to run faster, only to be hit by another arrow. Frank cowered in fear and broke open the shotgun. Another Cheyenne brave rode parallel to the coach, tomahawk in hand. Seeing him, Frank accidentally dropped the two shells he was trying to load into the gun. In desperation, he threw the gun in the direction of the brave before jumping onto the horses and detaching the yoke from the coach. While he fumbled with the yoke, the brave threw the tomahawk into his back. While the mortally wounded Frank escaped on one of the horses, the out of control stagecoach ploughed into the mountainside. One of the other guards tried to fire on the Cheyenne braves as they dismounted, but was immediately killed by another arrow. The two remaining men threw their weapons out of the stagecoach and left with their hands raised. Two of the braves advanced, striking them down with their tomahawks and scalping them while the others recovered the gold boxes from the coach. The Great Spirit will be pleased. One of the men said as they examined the contents of the chests, And thanks to his guidance, we can drive the pale-faced ones from Colorado.

Frank had not been pursued as he rode away from the scene of the robbery. As his vision was becoming more clouded, he atempted to spur his horse towards Idaho Springs. It was relatively quiet in the small town, but residents were still wandering in the streets. All eyes turned to face Frank as the horse carried him to the square. He slumped and fell from the saddle. Several passersby ran towards him, including the town marshall. The gold. Frank struggled to say as his breathing became heavier, They took The marshall checked the newcomers heartbeat. Hes dead. He announced solemnly before removing the tomahawk from the mans back. Two of the marshalls deputies ran over to the scene. He turned and nodded at them. They immediately ran back to the marshalls office and prepared the horses. The marshall led them down the path back to the scene of the attack. The posse arrived to a sorrowful sight. All that remained was the wrecked stagecoach. The other horses had not been spotted on the trail, the gold chests had been taken, and all that remained were the bodies of the men in the coach. Find anything? The marshall asked. Aint no survivors here marshall! One of the deputies called, Theres been three scalpings though! It looks like they came from mines! The second deputy added. Then it was an Indian attack. The marshall stated bluntly, They probably took the horses. But why do they want gold? The Cheyenne round these parts havent been so interested in it before. The two deputies shrugged as they rode back to town. What happens now Marshal? they asked. The marshall sighed. This is outside my jurisdiction. He explained, All I can do is write to the County Sheriff in Denver and report. Other than that, we just sit on our asses until they threaten the town.

The trio returned to Idaho Springs. As the marshall prepared to write his letter, the deputies strolled off to the saloon. Although political concerns and devoted patriotism were relatively low in Idaho Springs and Colorado in general, cynicism and defeatism were high. The deputies knew that whatever got sent to Denver wouldnt have any effect. After all, there werent enough people in Idaho Springs willing to join a posse, and there was certainly not going to be any military intervention from the respective governments in the United States or the Confederate States due to the ters of the ceasefire. Not even the authorities in Denver would intervene, as they would be tending to the Loyalty Rallies and Freedom Marches conducted by the slightly more patriotic residents. Even then, it wasnt likely that theyd be killing each other, but they didnt want to take any chances, especially when they were hearing about the partisan violence in Kansas.

A day later, Denver was business as usual. Caleb Hornsby, the Mayor of Denver and de facto territorial governor of Colorado, was entering the council chamber to discuss the letter he had received from Idaho Springs. Seated around the conference table were the other members of the city council: Sitting closest to the head of the table was the Denver County Sheriff Bob Wells. He was a rugged fellow, once a rough and ready lawman, but he was ready to give up his post and collect his pension. Seated opposite to Wells was a balding, slightly obese man wearing a black suit. This was Philip Shaw, the circuit judge with jurisdiction over all the towns in Denver County. While he had a reputation for upholding the law fairly and honestly, he seemed to be more ruthless since the Cheyenne crisis had began. Facing each other on the next seats down were Everett Wright and Chester Morgan, the provisional Union and Confederate territorial governors respectively. Although Mayor Hornsby ostensibly answered to their authority, they were repeatedly cancelling each others efforts out, and that left Hornsby in charge. Finally, at the foot of the table was a slick looking man in a suit, along with an elegantly dressed woman. The man was Thomas Barker, the proprietor of Barker Minerals and Excavations, the company which ran the mines the Cheyenne were interested in. The woman was Sylvia Reed, an executive for the Denver Pacific railroad company who had also styled herself as a public relations officer for the council. Good afternoon everybody. Hornsby said as he sat down, As you are aware, the city is on the verge of an economic crisis due to growing issue with gold transportation. In the past two weeks, three gold shipments from Barkers mine in the Rockies have been ambushed by Cheyenne braves. We have reason to believe that an unknown individual is impersonating a Cheyenne deity and inciting them into an uprising. I keep telling you Barker! Wells interrupted, You need more men to ride with the shipments! I dont have the men to spare! Barker replied, Anyone with grit stays at the mine in case the Cheyenne stage an attack there. And theyre hard to come by in these parts. Now the tenderfoots are giving me their notice. Im running out of men and those who remain are wanting more pay. If those folks back East werent discussing the Mason Dixon lines place in the world, I could get some military support! As you may or may not know, Morgan stated, President Eric Michele is still carrying out diplomatic negotiations with Grant in Washington. Due to the terms of the truce, the Confederate Government will not deploy any troops in Colorado. Youre just worried that Santa Anna will try and stage some futile invasion again! Barker snapped. Well let that crazy old man invade! Wright shouted as he banged his fist on the table, After all, you deserve it after Jefferson Davis got the British to invade Detroit! Davis is dead now and Michele is trying to talk them down! Morgan shouted back.

Oh yeah? And why is a War Secretary doing peace talks? Enough! Hornsby shouted, If you aint gonna deploy troops in Colorado, what can I do to resolve the Cheyenne crisis? I have an idea. Wells said calmly, We could set up our own legion, independant from the Confederate and Union armies. They will be able to patrol the mountain roads between the mine and Idaho Springs, and keep an eye out for this deity. Other than that, there will not be any reprisals against the Cheyenne. We dont want an all-out war. Once this deity shows his sacred face, Ill give him a hemp necktie. Shaw promised. I can try and spread the word along my railroad. Sylvia added. So its settled then. Hornsby proclaimed, Miss Reed; you start sending out adverts as far as you can and bring people in. Mr Wells; you start assessing suitability. In a few days time, Ill want a Denver Defence Brigade up and running. This meeting is adjourned.

Three days later, Wells had travelled to Idaho Springs where he had set up a crude recruitment office in the saloon. Gunslingers had come to Denver from all around to join the Brigade, and had been directed to Idaho Springs. Most of these people were seasoned folks from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, even California and Deseret, but they only really cared about money, rather than politics. To Wells, that was almost perfect. He didnt want anybody with political concerns in the Brigade out of fear of infighting. Not to mention that he didnt want people connected with partisans from Kansas. As for the Agency or the Texas Rangers; forget it. Even if they came in with burn notices, he wouldnt recruit them. There wouldnt be any uniforms for the Legion, and no service weapons. If the provisional governments decided to class the Brigade as a military unit, it could be disbanded. If the members wore plain clothes and carried anything they were comfortable with for killing, the Brigade was more or less a posse. One evening, Wells had been handling recruitments and was preparing to retire for the day. The saloon was empty and he was gathering his papers when he noticed a large shadow at the entrance. Four men entered the saloon: A serious-looking man with a walking stick dressed in a fancy suit and bowler hat; A second well-dressed man with a black duster coat and Stetson over his suit; A ratty Chinese thug; and an obese, mean Mexican. Both the Mexican and the man in the duster had scary-looking Gatling rifles slung over their shoulders. Good evening Sheriff. The man in the bowler hat said menacingly. Sorry folks, Wells replied, If you want to join the Brigade, come back tomorrow. Im not applying. Im bringing you a message: The Brigade is to be disbanded. If youre bringing that message, I have to know who you sent it for.

Im afraid youre not entitled to that information. Ill tell you again: Disband the Brigade. Wells stood up to face the man. His hand was itching for his Colt Peacemaker. That order should come from Hornsby and no-one else! he shouted, Who the Hell are you supposed to be? My name is Charles Fordham. The man in bowler said, And Ill have to resort to the consequence of non-compliance. The Mexican and the Chinese man grabbed Wells and pinned him to the floor. Fordham stood over him and raised the walking stick, bringing it down on his head. Wells continued to struggle as he was struck again repeatedly while the two thugs looked in with devilish glee. His sight was growing darker. Fordham raised the stick again, ready to deliver the finishing blow. There was a sudden crack as a bullwhip snatched the stick out of his hand. All heads turned to the entrance. A woman, also wearing a black duster and Stetson, had entered the saloon, her face concealed by a bandana. She was aiming a Colt Peacemaker at the group. What sick mind would strike an ailin, defenceless old man? She asked. The man in black raised his Gatling rifle. The masked woman turned and fired a shot with her Peacemaker. The man fell back as the bullet entered his shoulder, firing his gun into the air. The Mexican dived behind the bar while the Chinese man flipped the table and crouched behind it. Fordham drew a Webley Bulldog and fired two shots in rapid succession, taking advantage of the revolvers stopping power. The masked woman dived out of the way as the man in black recovered and fired at her with the Gatling rifle. At the same time, the Mexican tossed his own Gatling rifle to the Chinese man, drawing his own Colt Peacemaker. As the masked woman crawled up towards the mezzanine hall to avoid the wild shooting, she noticed a hanging light above the Chinese man. She fired another shot, sending the fixture crashing down on the thugs head. Fordham and the man in black pursued her up the stairs. The woman fired another shot, hitting the man in black in the chest and sending him tumbling back down. As she pulled back the hammer on her Peacemaker to ready another round, Fordham swung at her with the cane. She dodged it and tacked him, sending them both through the railing and back to the ground floor. Fordham managed to break free and fled from the saloon while the Mexican raised his Peacemaker at the woman. He pulled the trigger, but the chamber was empty. Wells raised his own Peacemaker and fired a single shot through his head. The Mexican slumped down behind the bar. The masked woman ran over to the sheriff. Thank you, Wells said weakly, Who are you? The woman removed her bandana to reveal the face of the sheriffs beautiful daughter, Adeline Wells. Are you all right father? she asked.

Its too late for me. Wells replied, My time is almost up. Listen, I want you take charge of the Denver Defence Brigade. You must stop the Cheyenne raids, but dont be brutal. We want to find this Great Spirit whos rilin them. Goodbye my sweetheart. Adeline watched as her father drew his last breath. She felt great sadness, but she kept the pain inside. She simply closed his eyes, secured her bandana, picked up one of the Gatling rifles and left, completely emotionless.

One day later, Adeline was meeting with the Brigade at an abandoned mission in the Rockies, accompanied by Ace, her black stallion. At least thirty people were present, and were a colourful variety of folks. Each person was wearing an armband with the seal of Colorado. As she dismounted, she felt a hand being placed on her shoulder. She turned to see a grizzled man in his fifties smiling gently. She immediately recognised him as Hutch Scanlon, a legendary gunslinger who educated her in the ways of the West. If it aint the famous Black Panther. He said jokingly, Its good to see you again. I never knew you were back in town Scanlon. Adeline replied, Are you joining the Brigade too? You know it. Im sorry about what happened to your father. But you must be strong. Avenging his death wont bring him back. Im not seeking any kind of vendetta while Im in charge of the Denver Defence Brigade. Good. I taught you well. Im here now, and will willingly lead the public side of the Brigade. Thanks Hutch. If Black River know Im in Colorado, theyll probably send the Wichita Witches after me. Scanlon escorted Adeline into the mission. I have set up a special command squad to coordinate the Brigade throughout the county. He explained, indicating to a Chinese man wearing a traditional martial arts uniform, who stood up and shook hands with Adeline. My name is Yun Pan. Im a master of the Wing Chun school. He said. What kind of attacks does that specialise in? Adeline queried. It focuses on flurries of powerful blows. It can be effective in both offence and defence. Excellent. A martial artist like you will be a valuable asset. Especially when we check in our guns. Behind Yun Pan was a man dressed in furs carrying a long-barreled rifle, along with a somewhat unstable-looking individual dressed in a typical blacksmiths attire and carrying a large backpack.

Rounding out our notables we have Emmett Best and Dr Ulysses Gadget Floyd. Scanlon explained. Adeline nodded as she shook their hands. She viewed Emmetts rifle. Its a Springfield. Emmett told her before she could ask about it. You still use a cap and ball gun? She inquired. Sure. He replied, It takes longer to reload and it needs powder, but it never let me down yet. Besides, Im more inclined to preserve my shots with a cap and ball shootin iron. Not to mention that it can even make one of those Mojave Rattlers run for its mama. Adeline turned to Floyd, handing him the Gatling rifle. What can you tell me about this beast? she asked. Floyd looked at the gun with awe. Well, its a Smith and Robards .45 Gatling rifle. He identified professionally without hesitation, These beauties are only available on special order from their factory in Salt Lake City, and they cost $1200 a piece. Personally, I tend to stick with the pistol models or the flamethrower of my own design. He indicated to his backpack and the Gatling pistol in his holster. Hell, the Agency up North buys hundreds of these as service weapons. Well, the people who killed my father were carrying two of the big guns. Adeline replied, And they tried to have the Brigade disbanded. Thats probably where the stolen gold is going. Scanlon commented. Adeline nodded. When does the next shipment head out? she asked. Tomorrow. Adeline stood at the podium while her new inner circle beckoned the other member of the Brigade to enter. OK people, she addressed, The next gold caravan is making its way to Denver tomorrow. I want people on interchangable shifts patrolling the mountains. You have all been provided with whistles. Use them if you sight any Cheyenne riders. Try to use minimum force as possible: we want this Great Spirit alive. Is everyone ready? The recruits cheered. Now, head out and be prepared! If you need anything to do, talk to me or one of the other bosses. I want regular reports.

The following morning, another stagecoach was racing down the mountain road from the gold mine. Once again, the occupants were fearing another Cheyenne attack. Adeline and Emmett were viewing the path from behind a set of rocks. Is everyone in position? She asked. Emmett nodded. He was already kneeling with his Springfield at the ready. As the stagecoach rolled down the path, the sound of Cheyenne war cries echoed through the mountains. Cheyenne braves emerged from their hiding places and began to pursue the coach. Adeline blew her whistle and ran down to the path. The other members of the Brigade emerged and opened fire in the braves. They dismounted and attempted to engage their new attackers with clubs and tomahawks. Adeline drew her Peacemaker and fanned the hammer, dispatching three of the braves. At the same time, Yun Pan was running into a group of five, putting them out of action with rapid punches and kicks. The rest of the war party had started to flee, mounting their horses and riding back to their hideout. Theyre getting away! one of the Brigade members yelled. Emmett fired a round at one of them, hitting his horse and sending him to the ground. Adeline ran over to the brave and helped him to his feet. Who is coordinating the raids? She demanded. Our chieftan. The brave said frantically, But he answers to His words were suddenly cut off. A large arrow was embedded in his back. Adeline noticed a small group of Cheyenne riding away in the distance. She whistled for Ace, leaping into the saddle as he galloped over to her. Get those five to the jail in Idaho Springs! she ordered, Ill meet up with you later. She spurred Ace on, pursuing the retreating Cheyenne. The paths became rougher and windier, almost like a labyrinth. The retreating braves were nowhere in sight. She dismounted and inspected the area. Several shots rang out. Adeline dived behind the rocks while Ace bolted away, as he had been trained to do so. Drawing her Peacemaker, she peered over the rocks, only for more shots to keep her pinned. Trying to spot the muzzle flashes, she fired in their general direction. There was a sudden explosion from above. Rocks began tumbling down the slope at an increasing rate. It was a landslide! Thinking quickly, Adeline spotted a hanging tree branch jutting out over the cliff. As the rocks continued to fall, she grabbed her bullwhip and lashed onto the hanging branch, swinging away before the landslide completely enveloped the area. Ace had already managed to escape the area, and was waiting for her. She mounted him and rode off.

Arriving back at the mission, Adeline was met by Scanlon and the others, who greeted her with applause. Well done Adeline. He said warmly, I just got word from Mayor Hornsby; the shipment arrived in Denver. Thanks Hutch. Adeline replied, But its far from over.

Did you catch the retreating Indians? Emmett asked. Im afraid not. There was an ambush. Some folks with rifles on the cliff. They also had dynamite, with which they tried to bury me alive in a landslide. I thought those Indians had some kind of vow about Old Ways. Floyd commented, They could be members of that Order of the Raven Ive been hearing about. So, the Indians who adopt manufactured technology are seen as rogue by the elders in the Sioux Nation. Emmett responded. I noticed some of the attackers on the cliffs. Adeline explained, They didnt look like Indians. There may be collaborators. Something tells me that Fordham is involved in this. Fordham? Scanlon asked. Before Adeline could mention anything, a noise was heard. They looked to see someone taking off on a horse. Adeline quickly pursued him on Ace, dismounting the escapee with her bullwhip. She grabbed him. Who are you working for? She asked. The deserter said nothing. Why are you trying to flee? The man prepared to speak, only to be hit in the back by another arrow. Scanlon rode over to the scene. It looks like we had a spy. She told her mentor. Wed better get everyone checked out. He replied. They slowly rode back to the mission. Why did you originally sign up with Black River anyway? Scanlon asked. It was the only work around. Besides, Mina Devlin is known for trying to hire more women. Adeline responded. Im surprised you took the job. I never trusted that woman. Shes evil to the core, just like her husband. Miles Devlin? Yeah, until Tennessee Central bumped him off. That was a mistake. Well, I also felt that Black River had an edge. Because Union Blue was laying track in Kansas, they didnt have military support. Black River had the Wichita Witches on their payroll. Youve got grit, kid, but you aint in Kansas anymore. Yes, but if we dont nail this Great Spirit, I might as well be. Black River have still got a bounty on my head.

Meanwhile, somewhere deep within the Rockies, Chief Soaring Eagle was leading his tribe to a hidden shrine in the caverns. A secret door formed in the rocks opened, filling the tunnel with smoke. The smoke enveloped a cowled figure, prompting everyone to stand to attention. This figure was regarded as the Great Spirit. Our crusade against the white man will succeed. He proclaimed with a booming voice, The Denver Defence Brigade may have protected the last gold caravan, but a willing subject had infiltrated the group. Although he was discovered and silenced, I have determined from the area he was stopped that the Brigade is operating out of an old mission in the vicinity. We plan our attack for tomorrow. He strode back into the secret chamber. A group of outlaws were waiting there, led by the feared Clifton Six-gun Walker. You will take part in the attack. Scout out the mission. Find the entrances. Try and bomb it. We can trap them in a bottleneck. He ordered. What about the braves who were captured? Walker asked. They will be killed. We dont want to risk them talking. Walker nodded and led his men out of a back entrance.

On the day that followed, Scanlon was attending the council meeting in Denver, accompanied by the new sheriff. Hornsby was awaiting his arrival with eagerness. Mr Scanlon, he said, I owe you many congratulations. Thanks to your leadership of the Denver Defence Brigade, the county is safe. Best of all, with the shipments that are coming in, we are able to fund your activities. The other council members applauded. I believe that you captured five Cheyenne yesterday. Barker commented. That is correct. Scanlon replied, But I must inform you all that there may has been a leak. We caught a spy at our outpost, but he was killed before he could be questioned. It is my firm belief that the Great Spirits associates may have infilitrated the council. This is most unsettling Scanlon. Judge Shaw remarked, How can you prove it? I can prove it with last nights incident, and the assassination of Bob Wells. Scanlon answered. Bullshit. Barker snapped, How can they be connected? I want evidence of a connection. Silence! Hornsby yelled, For now, we must assume that there is no deceit in the council until further evidence surfaces. This meeting is adjourned.

As Scanlon was leaving, he was stopped by Hornsby. Scanlon, he asked, Do you truly believe that there is a traitor in the council? The evidence Ive already acquired is circumstantial, but nonetheless compelling. Scanlon replied. I am already aware of that fact. Hornsby told him, I have been suspicious of the other council members for some time now. I have already hired Pinkertons to investigate them. Scanlon said nothing, simply tipping his hat and leaving.

Meanwhile, Walker and his gang had entered the mission. They had boarded up the doors from the outside, with the exception of the double doors at the front. Two of the outlaws had proceeded into the cellar, where they were stacking up barrels of gunpowder. One of them was making a trail to the outer entrance while the other placed a candle on the ground. Good. Walker commented, Now lets get out of here. Ive gotta set in motion a backup plan.

As night fell, most of the Defence Brigade had returned to the mission. Adeline was travelling up the path when she noticed the shadows behind the rocks. The other commanders were riding alongside her. They checked the area, only to find nothing. The Cheyenne might know where we are. She told her companions We should hurry. Back at the mansion, Scanlon was conducting a register before hearing the days reports. Before he could begin, he heard a shout from one of the men. He turned to see two of the men drag a dead member from underneath one of the pews. Looks like hes been choked. The man observed. Search the mission. Scanlon ordered. The pair nodded and descended the steps into the basement. They discovered the powder kegs, along with the candle, which was now tilting dangerously and unable to be safely extinguished. Oh, shit One of the mercenaries said in horror. They ran back upstairs. Weve been breached! They shouted, Someones set up powder kegs in the basement! Everyone out! Scanlon bellowed. The gunslingers quickly piled towards the double doors. The Cheyenne braves watched as the double doors opened. They quickly sprang into action. Tomahawks, spears and arrows flew out from the shadows and hit several of the Brigade members. Scanlon herded them back inside, providing them with covering fire. Try the other doors! he ordered.

They wont open! One the Brigade members shouted back. Were fucked! Another one said in despair. By this time, the candle in the basement had melted, and had ignited the gunpowder trail. Adeline and her companions had made it to the mission via a back route.They noticed that the side doors were boarded up. She ran down and knocked. Scanlon! Are you in there? She asked. Adeline! Get away from here! This place is gonna blow! Scanlon replied. Adeline turned to Floyd. Gimme that! she demanded, snatching his Gatling pistol and aiming it at the door. Stand back! she ordered, pulling the trigger. The Gatling pistol sputtered to life, making short work of the planks boarding up the door. Yun Pan charged in and kicked the door down, prompting everyone trapped inside the mission to flee. The wounded troopers were hauled out of the building. Even when moving casualties, it seemed like the group were moving faster than cheetahs at full speed, escaping to a safe distance mere seconds before the powder kegs detonated and levelled the mission.

In no less than ten minutes, the Brigade had retreated into a set of caverns near the mansion. Most of the troopers were breathing heavy sighs of relief. Cigar smoke filled the cave, while many were taking large swigs from hip flasks. Adeline and Scanlon wandered through the cave, observing those wounded in the attack having their injuries treated. Yun Pan had composed a herbal salve, while Emmett was administering maggot therapy to open wounds. Ace, and the other horses were grazing outside. I want a head count of everyone here. Adeline requested. I already did that. Scanlon reported, Everyones here except Bryants squad. Theyre doing the night patrol. Well, theyd better be back by morning. Another gold shipment leaves the mine tomorrow. Scanlon pulled out his own hip flask and swigged from it. He offered to Adeline. She turned it down, laying out her bedroll and lying back, pulling the Stetson over her eyes. Scanlon watched as she descended into sleep. He knew that they could hide in the caves, as long as the Cheyenne didnt recover them. Preparing to get to sleep, he noticed Floyd leaving. Where are you going? he asked. I gotta get back to my workshop in Denver. Floyd replied, My horse needs medical care and I need to bring in a special mountain vehicle. Be careful. Scanlon warned, They might still be searching. Floyd nodded as he left, disappearing into the night.

Elsewhere, the Great Spirit was oonce again addressing the Cheyenne tribe. You have all failed me. He boomed sternly, A search of the mission has failed to unearth any bodies. This can only mean that the Brigade escaped. You promised that the back entrances would be sealed. Soaring Eagle argued, They may have escaped through the back door. You cannot justify that. The Great Spirit replied, You must know your place as chieftain. Maybe it was a decoy. Id normally receive this advice from Falling Star. Silence! I shall not tell you again! I told you to banish your shaman because she was wrong! There is another gold shipment coming out, and I want it! The door to the Spirits chamber closed. He turned to Walker and his gang. You must find a new way to stop the Brigade. He said gravely, I fear that a counterattack may be imminent. I have an idea already. Walker piped enthusiastically, This could get the shipment and discredit the Defence Brigade.

Dawn was breaking over the Rockies, and Adeline was searching for the missing patrol with Yun Pan and Emmett, along with two bloodhounds. The sound of gunfire rang out, followed by a whistling. Its the signal! Adeline yelled, spurring Ace towards the source of the sound. As the trio rode on, they spotted the stagecoach with the gold shipment. The driver and the coachmen were both wearing armbands which signified them as members of the Brigade. They brought the stage to a halt. Identify yourselves! Adeline demanded. Leon Castle and Willie Grange! The coachman responded, The Cheyenne attacked the stage up the road. We fought them off but the coach guards were killed, so we took over. Wheres Bryant? He was killed in the attack. The driver lashed the horses and moved the stage on. Adeline watched as they left. One of the bloodhounds was digging near some foliage and began barking. Adeline rode over to the area where they were. A shallow grave had been uncovered, revealing the members of the Brigade. All the bodies had slit throats. Two of them were missing their armbands. Imposters! Adeline shouted, spurring Ace after the stagecoach, Get after them!

The two bandits rolled along the mountain path at a rapid pace to a secret rendezvous point. Adeline was quickly catching up with them. The coachman raised the Winchester repeater and fired. Adeline drew her Colt Peacemaker and fired a single shot. The coachmans body fell from its seat and tumbled across the dirt. Adeline raced closer to the stage and leapt from Aces saddle onto the back of the coach, scrambling onto the top. As she climbed, Walker leaned out of the compartment with a Colt Thunderer. With her free hand, Adeline reached for her whip and lashed, snatching the gun out of Walkers hand before running to the driver. Grabbing the bandit, she delivered several punches to his stomach and face, throwing him off the coach and taking the reins. Walker attempted to shimmy to the top of the carriage, wielding a large Bowie knife. A loud shot rang out, and a musket shot flew through Walkers hand. He screamed and dropped the knife. At this time, Yun Pan had dismounted his horse and was literally running after the stage. With a mighty leap, almost flying, he landed on top of the coach and delivered a kick to Walkers torso. The cruel bandit toppled off the back of the coach. Emmett dismounted and grabbed him. More shots rang out. Adeline and Yun Pan turned to see Walkers gang chasing the stage on horseback. Take the reins! Adeline yelled, drawing her Peacemaker, If Floyd is in some Ghost Rock-induced dementia, there will be Hell to pay. As soon as the words left Adelines mouth, the devilish howl of burning Ghost Rock resonated through the mountains, accompanied by the sound of an engine. Floyd was slowly coming up behind the bandits on a two-wheeled contraption powered by steam. Overtaking them, he took a hand-held device attached to his back and aimed it at the outlaws. The device spewed a great jet of flame that sent the outlaws horses bucking. As they floundered, Yun Pan was able to drive the stage away to a safe distance.

Later, the stage arrived in Denver, but Adeline had secretly slipped away. The townspeople applauded as Yun Pan drove through the streets towards the city hall. Scanlon was standing outside a saloon, smoking a cigar and smiling as the gold chest was unloaded. Adeline crept up behind him. Outlaws ambushed Bryants patrol and attempted to pass off as Brigade troopers. She reported, We captured their leader and will try and question him before we turn him over. Good strategy. Scanlon replied, I dont trust the judge. He hanged those five braves we captured without questioning them. Christ. That will anger the Cheyenne. What was he thinking? Dont worry, Im working on it. Ol Caleb is bringing in the Pinkertons. Are you crazy? Theyll shut us down! Adeline hissed. Worry about it later. Keep that bandit detained for as long as possible. Ive got a council meeting to attend.

The atmosphere was tense as Scanlon entered the council chamber. Although Hornsby was proud to see him, Baker and Shaw were highly indignant. Reed was slouching back in her chair looking oblivious, but Scanlon immediately noticed her look of indifference concealing an evil eye set on him. Scanlon! Baker snapped, What is your explanation for using the Defence Brigade to bring in the stage? What happened to my men? Members of the Council. Scanlon addressed, I have received a report from one of the Brigades field commanders that todays shipment was not attacked by a Cheyenne war party, but a gang of outlaws. The most likely suspects are Clifton Walkers gang, and could possibly be in league with the Great Spirit. They killed Bakers men while posing as members of the Brigade by wearing armbands stolen from a patrol we lost contact with. Did you take any prisoners? Shaw asked. Any prisoners who were taken will be delivered in due time. Scanlon answered. That is not your job. Shaw warned, Your duty is to protect the county. Any prisoners must be delivered to the County Sheriff immediately. They are my responsibility. Ill ask again; How do you know its Walker and do you have any prisoners? At the current moment of time, I do not possess answers to those requests. Cat got your tongue? Baker asked, If you truly dont answer these questions, then its difficult to prove your case isnt it? For all we know, it was the Brigade responsible for the attack. Mr Baker has a point. Shaw commented, If you do not answer my queries, then I have no choice but to hold the Denver Defence Brigade responsible for the incident. Scanlon felt the sweat dripping down his forehead. He knew he couldnt lie, but if he told the truth, he would lose a valuable lead. He turned to face Hornsby. He shook his head. They both knew that the mayor couldnt defend the brigade, and lying would cause a scandal. He sighed deeply. Walker was captured during the attack. He is currently being detained at our temporary headquarters. He admitted. Then you must hand him to me for a trial. Shaw demanded. And what are going to do? Hang him there and then? Scanlon replied angrily, You hanged the last group of prisoners on the spot before I could learn anything! For all I know, you could be involved in this. Id never taken you as a hanging judge. Thats not your reputation. You had better find some way to prove that or Ill hold you in contempt! Shaw bellowed. Hold it! Reed interrupted, Mr Scanlon may not be able to prove it, but I believe that one of my people witnessed him conversing with a certain Black Panther the previous day. Is that so?

Whats that got to do with anything? Scanlon asked. As you know, the Denver Pacific Line does not have anything to do with her business. Reed stated, But Im sure that Black River might be interested. After all, it was them who hired her. It was them she betrayed. It was Mina Devlin who put a price on her head. I can hand over Walker to the citys custody. Scanlon replied, Any allegations of who works for me are not true. Im glad you can be swayed. Baker added slyly. Scanlon collapsed back into his chair. He was beaten. He knew that they were all involved, but they had him on a leash now. He couldnt expose them without endangering the Brigades future. There was nothing more he could do. Everett Wright took the floor. I would like to report that a Union Blue train heading into Denver was robbed on the Colorado-Kansas border. Cifton Walkers gang took the credit for this, but we do not know their reasons, as no cargo of value was being transported. Scanlon brushed the report off and cut in again. In light of the information presented by Baker and Shaw, I would like to tender my resignation. The room fell silent as he stood up and left the chamber.

Later, Scanlon was riding to the new hideout. One of the troopers left handed him a note:

Hardwood House, Walker is there.


He nodded and pocketed the note.

Hardwood House was a small log cabin in the mountains that was used as a trading post by Ike Hardwood, a mountain man from the days when the USA was still whole. Floyd had taken it over and was using it as a workshop. On the approach to the cabin, Scanlon saw Ace grazing outside, along with Floyds mountain vehicle. The white vapour of Ghost Rock billowed from the houses chimney. Scanlon entered to see Floyd sitting in a chair with an unusual headset attached to a large steam-powered machine. An unconscious Walker was strapped down to a table with wires running from his head into the machine. Adeline was sitting there, watching. What is thatthing? Scanlon asked. Its Ulysses Floyds Marvellous Mind-Reading Machine! Floyd replied enthusiastically, It helps me interrogate this son of a bitch. What have you found out?

So far, we have confirmed that Walker is involved with this Great Spirit figure. Adeline reported, But we havent found any clues relating to his identity. Well, youll have to cut that session short. Scanlon said dejectedly, Shaw is demanding that we hand Walker over. Hell probably hang him like the others we captured. Floyd began to close the valves on his machine. It began to emit an unnerving whistle. Oh fuck! he yelled, Its malfunctioning! Everyone out! Unhook him! Adeline commanded as she fled out of the building with Scanlon. As Floyd began to pull Walker out of the machine, the valves burst and howled. Adeline and Scanlon turned to see the cabin explode violently, knocking them both off their feet and sending Ace into a frenzy. Adeline went over and grabbed his reins, attempitng to calm him down. Christ. Scanlon fumed, Hadnt he tested this thing before? No. That was a prototype. Neither Adeline nor Scanlon were emotional about Floyds death. After all, they were too seasoned to be shaken by a death. However, Scanlons heavy heart had remained from the meeting. He sat down next to Adeline and swigged from a hip flask. Adeline, we cant explain this to the Council. They know you are here. They may dismantle the Brigade. Theres something fishy about Baker and Shaw. Im getting out of town. You should too. Adeline shook her head. Not until my work is done. She vowed, Walker uncovered something else, even though hell never realise it now: the Cheyenne have exiled their shaman, a wise woman named Falling Star. If anyone knows about their business, its her. Black River havent reached Denver yet, but they will. You dont want to be there when it happens. Ill be long gone before then. Adeline promised as she mounted Ace, riding towards Denver. Scanlon watched her leave, and looked back at the remains of Hardwood House. He shook his head in despair and mounted his own horse.

Adeline rode into Denver, only to be halted by a deputy marshal. She nodded at him as she handed over her Peacemaker and Bowie knife. Riding through Denver, she brought Ace to a halt at a nearby saloon, hitching him at the post before entering. The saloon was bustling with activity. Residents of Denver, Miners, travellers and brooding cowboys filled the tables. Prostitutes and drunkards roamed around the room, while the sounds of a ragtime piano filled the air. In the darkest corner of the room, Adeline noticed a Native American woman dressed in standard trail clothing hunched over a bottle of whiskey. Im looking for Falling Star. Adeline told her, sitting down. Why would you want to find her? The Native American returned. Never mind that. Where can I find her? I am Falling Star. The woman introduced, But at least, I used to be. What do you know about spirits? Ever since the Great Spirit showed up and influenced Soaring Eagle, our chieftain, the Cheyenne banished me when I announced that the Spirit was false. Falling Star explained, My efforts to stop the Spirit failed, and the true Nature Spirits wont help me now that I have forsaken the Old Ways. Adeline turned around and noticed three of outlaws from the last raid entering the saloon. One of them was still wearing his gunbelt. I think youd better tell me more, she whispered to Falling Star, Because someone else is taking interest in your business. Adeline slipped away and stood at the bar while the trio approached the shaman. She knew that she had to take care of the leader as quickly as possible before he pulled his gun on Falling Star. Once he was taken care of, it would be a simple punch-up. How was able to get into Denver anyway? Hornsbys weapon laws would have prevented them from entering. She didnt have her own gun or her knife, but she was still able to conceal her whip behind her coat. She uncoiled it discreetly. The leader of the outlaws had reached Falling Star. The Great Spirit wants to send his regards. He said, raising the revolver. Adeline stood up and lashed out with the bull whip. With a crack, the gun was snatched out of the bandits hand and flew behind the bar. All the patrons turned to face the commotion. Its the Black Panther! One of the other thugs cried out. The leader sent the two thugs to confront Adeline, while he drew a concealed knife and confronted Falling Star as she tried to slip away. Thinking quickly, the shaman grabbed the whiskey bottle and smashed in the brutes face before throwing him into one of the other bandits who Adeline was brawling with. Adeline used the distraction to grab the third outlaw by the collar, punching him the stomach several times before sliding him across the bar. The leader grabbed the knife and brandished at her in an intimidatinge manner, only for Adeline to break a chair over him. She grabbed Falling Star and fled the saloon.

The pair fled out onto the street and mounted their respective horses, riding to the edge of town so Adeline could reclaim her weapons before riding back the the Brigades hideout. Thank you. Falling Star said as they arrived. Who are you people anyway? We are members of the Denver Defence Brigade. We were established by Caleb Hornsby to protect Denver County. Adeline explained, We are independent from the Union and the Confederacy, and our only political concern is the safety of the people. Now, what do you know? Chief Soaring Eagle is now answering to the Great Spirit. Fallin Star claimed, We have been living peacefully until the Spirit arrived on the scene. I dont think that the Spirits avatar is actually a Deity. Theyd never have a physical presence in this world. He may not even be one of us. My colleague was suspicious of the mine owner named Baker. Adeline mentioned, Im going to investigate the mine. Are you interested? I may have actually seen Soaring Eagle near the mine. That should be worth a look. Adeline loaded her Peacemaker and mounted Ace. Yun Pan and Emmett joined them.

As the posse made their way to the mine, they were greeted by an unexpected sight: The entire complex had been destroyed. Several well-dressed men and women were searching the place for anything. Amongst their number was Scanlon. What happened here? Emmett asked, Did the Indians attack? No. They didnt. Scanlon replied, Theres been no sign of their presence anywhere. Not even any bodies. This could be the Great Spirits doing. Falling Star suggested, He may not have used the Cheyenne. Maybe it was those outlaws. The Pinkertons here have discovered that all papers and records had been removed. Baker and Shaw might be clearing their tracks. Scanlon added, There is one other thing: The Union Blue train that was robbed was carrying a supply of rifles. What would Walkers gang want with rifles? Adeline pondered. Just then, the answer hit her. The Great Spirit is planning on arming the Cheyenne! Theyre gonna try and attack Denver! All faces turned at to her. Falling Star will show us to their hideout. Scanlon, you round up the Brigade and bring them back to Denver. They must prepare for battle. She ordered. Emmett and Yun Pan will come with me.

Meanwhile, the Great Spirit was once again addressing the Cheyenne. The Old Ways are false. You must give up those oaths and take up arms. He proclaimed. I have secured you with rifles. The time has come to drive the despoilers from this land! The Cheyenne cheered as they were handed out Winchester rifles. Soaring Eagle holstered a revolver as he prepared to lead his tribe towards Denver. What about Falling Star? he asked. The shaman is false. Do not be concerned about her.

Adeline and her posse were riding up to through the mountains. They came across a large gorge spanned by a rope bridge. Well leave the horses here. Adeline commanded, Emmett, you cover us. Emmett dimounted and crouched beind a rock with his Springfield. Yun Pan, Adeline and Falling Star proceeded across the rope bridge. Shots began to ring out as Walkers bandits fired on them with rifles. Emmett fired a single shot that sent one of the outlaws plummeting down the gorge. Two of the bandits approached the bridge with knives, preparing to cut it. With astounding speed, Yun Pan sprinted across the bridge and jumped into the air, delivering a flying kick to one of the bandits and putting the other one out of ation with his rapid blows. He then leapt up to where the snipers were hiding and put them out of action. By then, Adeline and Falling Star had crossed the bridge. Emmett was lagging behind as Falling Star led them up to the caverns where the Cheyenne were assembling. The braves had heard the commotion while they were mounting, and were able to ambush the posse. As they emerged from their hiding places, they immediately noticed Falling Star and lowered their rifles. Falling Star? One of them asked, We thought you were dead. I have returned, and am here to tell you that the Great Spirit is a warmonger. The Nature Spirits may have turned their backs on us, but these people are not our enemies. The Great Spirit is a warmonger. She proclaimed, And I demand to see him. The braves marched out and escorted the group towards the caves. All the heads turned to see them. Soaring Eagle watched them and approach and drew his revolver. I thought I had banished you. He said angrily, And you had been killed in Denver. I am returning. Falling Star proclaimed, And am here to end the Great Spirits reign. He will drive the despoilers from our lands! Soaring Eagle yelled in protest. No, he is using you as means to an end. Adeline told him. Silence! the chieftain snapped, This is not your war.

Let her speak! Falling Star demanded, Your people are to stand down until this is settled. There was a series of mutterings amongst the Cheyenne braves. Soaring Eagle led everybody up the path to the cave. The hidden chamber opened up once again to reveal the Great Spirit in all his glory. Why are you here? he demanded, You are meant to be leading your crusade. Why have brought these strangers to my domain? You will suffer the penalty for your indiscretion. The Spirit drew a dagger and prepared to throw it at Soaring Eagle. Adeline quickly disarmed him with her whip, catching the dagger. Reveal yourself! She demanded. The Spirit became enveloped in smoke and disappeared. Kill them! Soaring Eagle ordered. The posse dived through the chamber doors as the braves fired on them. Soaring Eagle pursued them himself, revolver in hand.

The posse made their way through the stone tunnel, noticing the Great Spirit fleeing. They eventually came to an opening where a horse was waiting. Emmett raised his rifle and fired at the Great Spirit as he mounted, hitting the horse. At the same time, Soaring Eagle had pursued them outside and was joined by the other braves. As they caught the posse and disarmed, Adeline halted the group. Dont resist. She instructed, Ill handle this. She leapt down to the Great Spirit and grabbed him. As they wrestled, she was able to remove the cowl, revealing Bakers face. Everyone fell silent as they saw him. Soaring Eagle ran to the pair with his revolver. A gunshot from the cliff hit him straight in the heart, killing him instantly. Adeline drew her Peacemaker and fired at the rocks where the shot had emanated. Judge Shaw fell from behind them, clutching his chest and coughing up blood. Baker stood up and noticed the braves watching him. Another gunshot sent him to the ground. Adeline turned to see Scanlon approaching the scene. As he dismounted, the braves were all dropping their weapons and leaving, to Falling Stars combination of relief and happiness. How did you know? Baker asked as he coughed up blood. When you collapsed the mine. Scanlon explained, Congratulations Adeline. Weve done it. I figured it all out on the way back: Baker is a huckster. He was using his powers to manipulate the Cheyenne into attcking his shipments so he could hoard them for himself. His ultimate plan was to persuade the Cheyenne to abandon the Old Ways so they would invade Denver. That way he could drive the Union and Confederacy out of the Disputed Territories and establish his own empire. What about Shaw? Adeline queried, What was his role in this?

Shaw was killed long before the incident. The Pinkertons found his body in the mine. Scanlon continued, Baker had him replaced with a doppelganger. He knew that Hornsby would try and set up a Defence Brigade, and he wanted the doppelganger to silence anyone who was captured. As for Falling Star: Baker had tricked Soaring Eagle into thinking she was false. Soaring Eagle banished her, and told the tribe that she had been execued as a Ravenite. The Order of the Raven is a secret rebellion in the Sioux Nation who reject the Old Ways. Falling Star added, This man Baker was obviously biding his time before he ordered the Old Ways to be abandoned completely. I see. Adeline said bluntly.

A day later, Scanlon was attending a meeting in Denver between Mayor Hornsby and Falling Star, now wearing traditional buffalo hide clothing once again. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Cheyenne crisis is now over! Hornsby declared. His announcement was met by thunderous applause from the people of Denver. Falling Star handed the Mayor an ornate peace-pipe as they shook hands. This peacepipe shall be presented to you as a token of our new cooperation. She said to him. Adeline was watching the event from the shadows. As the formalities ended, she was approached by Scanlon. What are you planning now? he asked. My work here is finished, but there is still a price on my head. Emmett and Yun Pan are capable leaders, and they should be able to command the Denver Defence Brigade from now on. Adeline told him, Im taking my leave. Ace was trotting over to them as they conversed. Adeline climbed into the saddle. She shook Scanlons hand before she rode off into the sunset. Scanlon was joined by Falling Star and Mayor Hornsby as he watched her leave. Who was she? Hornsby asked. She was the daughter of Sheriff Wells. Scanlon explained, Shed been forced to remain in Witchita when her father moved to Colorado. She ended up joining a rail gang working for Black River, until she was disgusted by their atrocities. I taught her everything about the West and how to stike out on her own. Black Rivers put a price on her head, so she cant stay here. I cant oppose Black River. Hornsby stated, But if it wasnt for her, the Denver Defence Brigade would have been dismantled. Thats more right than you know. Scanlon commented, leaving for the saloon.