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The Story So Far

Ares Conroy is an ex-soldier framed for a payroll robbery some time ago. While trying to clear his name, he is charged with defending a group of homesteaders from the Blacksnake Gang, only to earn himself a bullet for his trouble. Now he has been found by a mysterious drifter known only as Johnny Reb, whose motives are unclear. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Ares and possibly this Good Samaritan, two other individuals are hunting for him. First is Ruby Bennett, who had tipped the Blacksnake Gang off about his escort job, who is now embarking on a search to finish him off and recover his body. Elsewhere, a bounty hunter known as Reverend Mortimer has met with the treacherous Major Parker, and is now carrying an arrest warrant unwittingly signed by Parkers superior.

Eagles Nest
Ares woke up feeling groggy. Outside, the wanderer who had picked him up was stoking a cooking fire. Morning was breaking already. Ah, youre awake. Johnny said bluntly, You outta eat something. Ares looked at the cooking fire, but had already smelt the bacon frying along with the freshly made coffee. Dont you sleep? he asked. Never mind that now. Johnny replied, Ive just been scouting around. Theres a US Army convoy in the area. Ares tucked into the trail breakfast. Did you say you served in the Confederate Army? he queried. Thats correct. I was in the Stonewall Brigade. I saw action in Chancellorsville, and a few other places too. Were you at Gettysburg? The drifter nodded. His face bore an expression of reluctance. He wanted to change the subject of the conversation. Im currently mounting up on a treasure hunt. Are you interested? he offered. Well, Im between jobs at the moment. Ares replied. In that case, get ready to mount up. We leave immediately. Jonny led Ares to where the horses were tethered. Ares was led to one of the horses which had been pulling the farm wagon. It was wearing a blanket across its back. Do I have to ride this excuse of a horse without a saddle? He asked. Yes. Now get moving. We need to find someone in Cheyenne.

Elsewhere on the High Plains


Through his binoculars, Dr Otto Schreck viewed a US Army convoy as rode along the trail. He had often scrapped with the US army before, at least those serving in Union Blues rail gangs. Yet the rail wars were over, and Wasatch had let him go. His gang, all former Wasatch trouble-shooters, had failed to earn and opted to take. With the aid of a warmongering Sioux tribe, he had been able to lead a successful guerrilla campaign. Crouched next to him was his new ally, Chief Thunder Cloud. His war party had been exiled from the Sioux Nations, becoming fugitives in the Wyoming Territory. Theres one company escorting the wagons, Schreck observed, Support looks like two Gatling guns, one cannon, and a steam wagon. Mundy will deal with the drivers and the weapon crews while you take care of the cavalry. Ready when you are, mate. Mundy replied. He carried a high capacity repeater, which he had modified with a telescopic sight and hand-crafted precision bullets.

Captain Phillips was riding at the forefront of the convoy, anticipating their eventual arrival at Cheyenne. As they rode, the shots began to ring out. One of the teamsters slumped off the wagon. Sioux braves emerged from their hiding places and charged towards them. Defensive positions! Captain Phillips ordered. The steam wagon lurched forwards, crews firing on their assailants. One of Schrecks men primed a large blunderbuss-shaped contraption and fired back, sending a projectile arcing towards the steam wagon which exploded on the ground nearby. Mundy aimed his rifle and picked off the driver. The steam wagon careened off into the rocks, allowing the bandit with the hand mortar to send a round into the boiler to destroy it. Meanwhile, the Gatling gun crews had set up and were firing back at the Indians. Schrecks gang focussed their fire on the weapon crews with a variety of bizarre weapons. Mundy continued to pick off the soldiers, only for something to strike him on the back of the head.

Ares and his new companion were riding nearby as they heard the shots. It sounds like the convoy is being attacked by Indians. Ares commented, Do you think we should help them out? Johnny said nothing, but their conversation was interrupted by a Sioux brave charging them with a tomahawk. Panicking, Ares drew his revolver and fired a shot, hitting the brave square in the chest. Theres no turning back now. Johnny replied as he clenched the reins of his horse between his teeth and primed his dragoon revolvers. Ares watched in awe as Johnny spurred his horse and charged towards the attackers. The bandit with the hand mortar turned to face him. Johnny fired the first shot, catching the

outlaw between the eyes. More bandits turned to face him, only to be gunned down. Ares tried to enter the fray, only for his horse to stumble. As the riding blanket dislodged, he slipped and fell. Dazed and disoriented, he tried to get up, only to feel cold metal pressed against his head. Although his vision was blurred, he could make out a figure dressed in a priests habits, pointing a revolver at his head. I never knew men of God were suddenly bounty hunters. Ares commented. And I never knew low life scoundrels played the hero, Mr Conroy. Reverend Mortimer retorted. How much am I worth? The bounty on your head currently sits at $500, preferably dead. Hey! Another voice rang out. Ares turned to see a woman approaching them, accompanied by a Mexican, whom he recognised as Joaquin from the previous day. Thats our man, padre. Joaquin said, training his sawn-off shotgun on Mortimer. Ruby Bennett was stood beside, training her revolver on Ares. Hand him over, or things might get bloody. She threatened. Mortimer immediately turned and shot Joaquin in the stomach as Ruby aimed her revolver at him. Nobody said anything as the pair aimed their revolvers at each other. Ares saw his chance and began to slip away, running towards the convoy as the Sioux began to fall back.

Elsewhere, Dr Schreck was running to Mundys position. He was greeted by the sight of an Asian woman waving a katana under his nose. You! He growled, I thought I left you for dead back in Kansas. I swore a vow to find you, Otto. The woman said. And you still carry your fathers sword. Those who live by the sword die by those with the gun. Schreck gloated, reaching for his revolver. And those who dont watch their backs get them broken. Mundy yelled, standing up and preparing to strike the woman in the back with his rifle. The woman turned to parry the swing with her sword as Otto yanked the revolver out of his holster. In a flash, the woman span round and kicked the gun out of his hand. Both Dr Schreck and Mundy scurried away. The mystery woman sheathed her katana and walked away.

At the convoy, Captain Phillips was watching as Johnny and Ares rode towards them. As they arrived, he shook both their hands.

Thank God you arrived when you did. He remarked, Weve had a few problems with the Sioux around here. Supposedly theyre exiles. Where are you folks headed? Were trying to get to Cheyenne. Ares replied. Did you lose your horse? Johnny asked. If you want, you can tag along. Captain Phillips offered, We have a couple of horses left. Ares nodded, mounting a white stallion being walked towards them by one of the other soldiers. That was Private Winslows. He explained, Im sure hed be happy to see him put to good use. Keep the rifle. Ares saluted the soldier as he mounted the stallion, taking note of the rifle in the saddle ring. Johnny prepared to lead his horse on when a sergeant handed him a shotgun from the wagon. You could make more use of it than I. he said.

May I join you? Im trying to reach Cheyenne. Ares and Johnny turned to see the Asian woman riding towards the convoy. Sure. Phillips answered, The more the merrier. Mount up, men! Were heading out!

The rest of the journey was uneventful. Eventually, the convoy arrived at a fork in the trail. Were heading on to Fort Clark. Phillips told Johnny, Take the other path to get to Cheyenne. Thanks again for your help, and I trust that you found our rewards to your liking. Goodbye Captain. Ares replied, You take care. He watched as the convoy took the path to Fort Clark, leaving him and Johnny with the Asian woman. You must be the heroes of the day. She remarked, I am Tanaka. Are you supposed to be some kind of knight? Ares queried as he glimpsed her sword. My father was a ronin. She replied, And yes, that is very much like a knight. At least, until he was killed by Dr Otto Schreck. Youre a mercenary? Johnny asked, What do you need from us?

I want Dr Schrecks head. Johnny extended his hand. That is the same man I am after, so I suggest a partnership. Now, once we arrive in Cheyenne, well be looking for a guide called James Hurst. Ive heard of him. Ares commented, They say hes the fastest gun in Wyoming. He usually goes by the name of Jimmy Lightning. I for one do not believe those tall yarns. Johnny replied, Either way, he is familiar with the area, and might know where the mine is.

Snake Pass
Jeb screamed in pain at the continued lashing. He felt blood running down his back. Where is the mine? Blacksnake demanded. Jeb didnt answer. Blacksnake swung his whip again, striking the red marks in Jebs back. Screaming aint gonna stop the pain! I dont know! Jeb replied, I dont have an exact name! Blacksnake lashed out again. Tell me! he bellowed, his shouts echoing through the canyon. Hes fainted, boss. The Rattler informed him. Take him away. Blacksnake ordered.

As the Rattler dragged the unconscious Jeb away, Blacksnake noticed something in the miners pocket. He gestured for the Rattler to stop as he examined it. Its some kind of map. He stated, Mount up boys! I think Major Parker would like this.

To be continued.