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Blood Drive

Episode 3 Range Wars


Based the Deadlands campaign by John Goff. Adapted by Andrew Roberts. Characters and
Setting by Pinnacle Entertainment and Great White Games.
The Story So Far
Bill Sutter, the owner of the Lazy S Ranch in South-western Texas, was unable to get a
fair price for his herd due to the Bayou Vermilion Railroad Companys monopoly on the
local cattle trade. In response, he set out to drive his Longhorns north to Denver, believing
he could turn a better profit than in Dodge City. On his journey, he hired the services of
five drifters who had arrived in the town of Sutters Flats. Following them all the way
was an old enemy of Sutters, a Comanche shaman known as Black Dog.
After arriving in Denver, rather than sell his herd and return to Texas, Sutter took a
gamble on a land grant in the Wyoming Territory. He gathered more cattle and set out
north with his crew and the drifters, now part time owners. The Lazy S crew soon learned
that things werent easier north of the Mason-Dixon Line, as they faced an attack by
Wasatch forces who believed they possessed information on some of Professor Darius
Hellstrommes most closely held secrets.
Defeating the Wasatch rail gang with assistance from Union Blue, the herders pushed on
into the Sioux Nations. There, they were captured by an army of Sioux warriors under
Black Dogs influence, and trapped with a band of pioneers who had been followed by a
plague which turned out to be the work of a vampire.
The crew defeated the vampire and were released by the Sioux. From there, they took the
herd through the narrows of Wind River Canyon. Beset by monsters nesting in the cliffs
and facing a rail battle fought by ghosts, the Lazy S Crew managed to lead the herd to
their central goal: the high plains of Central Wyoming.

Chapter 1 A New Start
Johnson County, Wyoming Territory, August 1879
This looks like the spot. Sutter remarked proudly. The Lazy S Crew was staring over a
great stretch of Wyoming grassland. He had acquired a deed for the land from another
rancher in Denver. The deed was one of many granted by the Union Government as part
of a scheme to promote expansion west and develop the cattle trade after the
development of the Sioux Nations resulted in a rise in property prices out west.
Sutter had not been alone in his venture from Texas. Five drifters had been with him since
he left Texas in March. In the months of travel, they had gone from simple gunhands to
part-time owners of Sutters herd. Also accompanying him was his niece, Abby Morton.
The Lazy S Crew was now 20 cowhands strong, a combination of those who had been
with Sutter since Texas, additions he had hired in Denver, and some new additions from
the nearby town of Dirtwater. Most of the ranch hands were dispersed far and wide,
looking for any suitable trees to fell. Those who werent were either riding the edges of the
herd or beginning construction work on a bunkhouse and other important structures.
I want the lodgings to be laid in as soon as possible. Sutter instructed, I know its still
August, but those of you from around here have told me that the winter sets in quickly in
these parts.
Father Sam Johnson and Dr Lightning were helping with the construction work. Father
Sam was a travelling preacher from Kansas. He had initially been a tinkerer at the
Hellstromme Industries manufacturing plants in Salt Lake City, but a vision led him to
abandon factory work and take up preaching. He was a kind man, but he had a price on
his head after he had stolen a Gatling shotgun from his former employers.
Dr Lightning was an eccentric scientist and inventor. He was originally a student of physics
and chemistry in New York, when his name was Harvey Edward Millstone, but he later
went to researching the aetheric effects of the weird but wonderful ghost rock. After being
dismissed, he went west to see the various monsters roaming around so he could test
experimental weaponry on them. He was mumbling to himself about his inventions while
he worked.
Dr Millstone, Father Sam commented, I must say that you need to stop with the
mumbling. Youll scare the other trail hands.
Are you suggesting something about stopping my experiments? Dr Lightning replied.
No. I am just concerned about your well-being.
If you forgive me, I dont think that the men of the cloth understand what is behind this
ghost rock. I have encountered others in my travels who ramble about it containing the
souls of the damned.
I admit that many have attributed the howl produced by burning ghost rock to that.
The rock is porous. The howl comes from the trapped air pockets released when the
mineral is burned.
Harvey, there was a time when I would agree with you. But the ghost rock has a profound
effect on those who work with it for too long.

As they were discussing the matter, Gabriella Vasquez was riding the edges of the herd
with the other trail hands.
You said something about working for the railroads. One of the trail hands commented.
Thats right. I worked for Black River for a time. She replied, My father taught me how to
use a shooting iron back in Tennessee. Black River was recruiting and I signed up.
What made you leave?
Things happened that I couldnt stomach. I was being made to shoot the rail crews. I
didnt want to do it, so I split.
What do you mean that you didnt want to shoot the rail crews? Do you mean you werent
up for a fight?
I mean, I wasnt up for a fight with people who didnt fight back. They were just earning
their keep by laying rails. You can smash their tracks, you can steal their food, and you
can insult their families, but I draw the line at shooting them in cold blood.
She didnt want to say any more than that.

Meanwhile, Plays with Fire had joined the group looking for trees. As an Arapaho, Plays
found himself being shunned by most of the new hands, primarily because of the threat
posed by the nearby Sioux Nations. However, most of the hands from Texas respected
him for his horse breaking skills. From Texas, he had ridden a mare deemed by many to
be unbreakable, known by the crew as Devil Eyes.
Accompanying the lumbering party was Shady Doug Liveaux. He had requisitioned Father
Sams chuck wagon while the preacher was helping with construction work, so he could
transport the wood they found back to the site of the new ranch. He stuck out like a sore
thumb amongst the other cowboys, as he still wore a fancy suit instead of trail clothes,
along with the fact that he spoke with a distinct Cajun accent. Nonetheless, he was very
popular with the crew, as he had broken the ice with little more than a deck of cards and
some fancy rules from Hoyles Book of Games to mix things up with the more traditional
poker nights. What many didnt know was that he had deciphered the true purpose of
Edmond Hoyles tome: It was a book of spells.

Near the end of the day, Sutter had assembled everybody near the partially completed
bunkhouse. In a day, the crew had managed to build a rough wooden frame with a
tarpaulin stretched over the top.
Not a bad effort today fellas. Sutter remarked, We can make do with it for the moment,
so we can get started on a barn and a corral. Now, I need two volunteers to ride the limits
of my land grant tomorrow.
Two of the trail hands stepped forward. Sutter nodded. Im gonna head out tomorrow
morning, and will be gone for two days at most. Until then, Abbys gonna be callin the
shots here. He continued, Thats it for today.
With that, the trail crew dispersed. Some went to the bunkhouse. Others went to ride the
edges of the herd. Sutter went over to Gabriella and the other drifters.
As the part time owners, Im allowing you to take charge of the ranch alongside Abby. He
said, But you have to understand that she will be speaking for my interests.
The drifters nodded in agreement.

That evening, as they were in the bunkhouse, many of the cowhands were prying into the
drifters stories.
How did a girl like you end up workin with Black River? one of the new hands asked.
They were based locally, Gabriella replied, Plus its easier for women to sign on with
them.
Why is that? It sounds like some kind of discrimination.
Mina Devlin wants to win the Rail Wars in an attempt to show that a woman can be just as
ruthless as a man. The company was run by her equally dark-hearted husband Miles, but
she took over after he was assassinated. As for talks about discrimination, thats not really
true. Minas still a pragmatist who would hire a male gunslinger over a schoolmarm, but
she prefers to hire women.
You said that Black River have put a price on your head. Another trail hand stated, Do
you think theyll come after you again?
I hope not. We had a lucky break when we encountered them in Colorado.


Chapter 2 Unfriendly Neighbours
Work continued on the ranch the following day. Sutter had left at the crack of dawn with
the two volunteers. Father Sam and Dr Lightning continued to lead the construction work.
Gabriella was leading the herd out to pasture with Abby.
It was early afternoon when some visitors came to the ranch site. A band of four riders
came in. Judging from their appearance, they looked like trail hands from another ranch.
Father Sam was the first to try and greet them.
Good afternoon gentlemen, He said calmly, Can we help you?
What are you folks doing here? The leader asked with a snarl, This is private property!
Excuse me? Gabriella asked as she approached. Her right hand was in the pocket of her
duster, resting by her Colt Peacemaker in its holster. She was hoping they wouldnt try and
force them away, but if push came to shove, she could draw and fan enough shots to
dispatch them.
You are squatting on the Northern Star Ranch territory! You cant set up here!
Bullshit. Gabriella replied, We have a land grant from the government. We only just got
here.
As they spoke, the other riders were examining the Longhorns that were grazing nearby,
predominately at the S-shaped brands.
Theres none of our beeves here boss! One of them called. The leader was still trying to
intimidate Gabriella, a losing factor considering that the other Lazy S hands were gathering
at the scene. He reached for his revolver. Gabriella immediately drew first and moved her
left hand into a position to fan the hammer.
Dont try me. She warned, You and your friends will be on your way to Perdition in less
than six seconds.
The riders were outnumbered. The leader moved his hand away from his holster and back
onto his reins.
You aint heard the last of this! He growled as he led his friends away.

Gabriella watched them leave. One of the locally-hired hands, Rowdy Yeats, walked up to
her.
Those guys were Logans boys. Theyre guaranteed to give us trouble in the future. He
explained.
They mentioned a Northern Star. Abby stated.
Yeah, Northern Star is the largest ranch in Johnson County, if not the whole territory. The
owners name is Randolph Logan. Hes one the ornery types. He came here a few years
back from Montana, and considers the land his own by squatters rights. He bullied
everyone else off the land.
How come nobody stood up to him? Shady Doug asked.
Hes too well-connected. Yeats replied, Hes carrying cards with the Wyoming Stock
Growers Association.
Ive heard of them. Abby stated.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association, or the WSGA for short, was an alliance of
influential cattle barons operating out of Laramie. In the past, they held a great amount of
say over what went on in the region, but their power had waned ever since the Sioux
Nations were formed.
Our main concern is to get everything set up on the ranch. Abby instructed, But if
Northern Star tries anything, well be ready for them. I want a double watch tonight.

The following day was uneventful. Work continued, with the bunkhouse now looking more
like a simple clapboard building than an elaborate tent. It wasnt until the morning after that
Abby was calling for Gabriella.
Uncle Bill was meant to be back yesterday, but he hasnt arrived. She stated, I want you
to ride out and make sure hes okay. Im not taking any chances after that parting threat
from Northern Star.
Gabriella patted Abby on the shoulder.
Its good to be cautious about something like that. She said, Mr Sutter will make a great
rancher out of you. Im sure hell be fine.
As she was giving the encouraging words, Abby was marking some lines in the grass with
her spur.
This is a rough sketch of Sutters route. She explained, You should look there for his
tracks.
Thanks, but I know to track. Gabriella replied before saddling Mina, her trusty black
mare. She rode to find Plays with Fire and Shady Doug. She found them playing poker
with Yeats and a few other trail hands.
Abbys sending us to find Sutter. She told them, I need you both to come along with me.
They said nothing, simply mounting their horses.
Do you need me to come with you? Yeats offered.
Sure, Gabriella replied, Since youre more familiar with the area than we are, we could
use your help.

It didnt take long to find the trail around the boundaries of the ranch. Plays had found
Sutters tracks and they could simply follow it. As the sun went in, they had not found any
sign of their boss or his companions.
Where do you think theyll be? Plays asked.
There are some real stiff winds that blow across the basin. Yeats replied, Its most likely
that theyll be trying to protect their camp in a depression somewhere.
Were losing visibility. Shady Doug warned, Do you think hes far?
I dont know. Gabriella replied, But well stay out here until we find him.
Chapter 3 A Pox upon You
Gabriella led the other drifters back on the trail early in the morning. They were riding as
daylight broke, when they came across the remains of a campsite set up in a slight
depression. The two men who had volunteered to accompany Sutter were there. Both
were dead.
Theyve been bushwhacked! Gabriella cried out in shock and anger, Im prepared to
march down to Northern Star and lynch the bastard responsible.
I dont think the Northern Star people are the bastards responsible. Shady Doug replied.
He and Plays were examining the two bodies. One of the men was lying on his back with
an arrow lodged in his chest. He had obviously been on watch. The other cowboy was still
in his bedroll. His throat had been slit.
It was probably a war party. Yeats suggested, Them Injuns are often coming down
here.
Do they use biological warfare? Shady Doug returned. He was looking at the body of the
cowboy on watch. The arrow was covered with a variety of noxious substances. The other
body was also covered with slime. Gabriella was looking over the camp. Sutters bedroll
lay empty by the ashes of the fire.
The fires a day old. She stated.
Over here! Plays called. He had seen a pair of booted footprints heading off into the short
grass. The drifters followed the tracks and were led to a small hillock where Sutter was
lying in a small clump of brush. Gabriella kneeled down close to him. She reached out to
touch him, but stopped when she noticed a few small blisters forming on his neck and
hands. She moved away, but had already felt his breath on her arm.
Yeats, go back to the ranch and find Father Sam. She ordered, Tell him to bring the
wagon.
Yeats nodded and rode back while Gabriella tried to wake Sutter.
Mr Sutter! She called. There was no response. She yelled louder.
Bill!
The rancher grunted and slowly opened his eyes.
Is that you, Abby? He asked groggily.
No. Its Gabriella.
Sutter tried to get up. He started coughing, but managed to sit up.
Gabriella He mumbled.
What happened to you? Shady Doug inquired.
We was attacked the night before last. Sutter explained, The damn Injun got Rusty with
an arrow before he could warn us. I was just lucky he went after poor old Lancaster next.
He cut the mans throat before he could open his eyes. His gurgling woke me up.
What Injun was it? Gabriella asked.
Id swear it that old Comanche, Black Dog but he looked real sick. He was covered in
sores and looked closer to death than an undertakers boots. I pulled my hogleg, but the
sneaky bastard jumped me before I could draw a bead on him. When I caught wind of him,
it was like breathin in rot and corruption. He lit out while I was still gaggin. I followed him
here, but I ran out of steam.
Jesus Gabriella stammered, Hes still after us.
He must have been in contact with one of those plague vampires. Doug suggested.
Or he might have become a Pox Walker. Plays added. Gabriella looked at him with
concern.
Ive heard tales that when an angry brave or shaman is killed by a white mans disease,
he comes back to spread his pox elsewhere.
Well, thats one of many strange things Ive seen out west. Shady Doug replied, We
need to get Sutter back to the ranch.
Dont you worry about me, Sutter argued, Im just tuckered out.
The drifters refused to believe him; Being tuckered out did not involve a persistent cough
and blisters dotting the flesh.

It didnt take long for Yeats and Father Sam to return with a wagon, and the trip back to the
ranch was uneventful. Abby raced out to see the returning group when she saw her uncle
coughing and bearing blisters.
Get him into the farmhouse! She cried, her tone indicating a mix of urgency and grief.
The drifters werent arguing. They helped Sutter to his feet and walked him to the
completed farmhouse. As they lay him down, Abby placed a wet cloth on Sutters
forehead.
Do you need me to take a look? Shady Doug asked, I have some medical training.
Abby shook her head. Thanks, She replied, But Ill stay with him. Hes family after all.


Chapter 4 Peace Talks
None of the drifters slept well that night. Sutter was a man who had been on the trails for a
long time. He was their employer, and now they were seeing him as a friend. They may
have to take him back to Texas. If they did, would he survive the journey?
It was late the next morning when Abby came to find them.
How is he? Shady Doug asked.
Hes awake and talking. Abby replied, He wants to see you all.
The drifters were breathing heavily as they entered Sutters bedroom. Sutter was still bed-
ridden, but he looked better than he did yesterday.
Abby told me bout those folks from Northern Star. He said hoarsely, It sounds like they
were looking for their own stragglers, but smoke-wagons were skinned and pointed.
They were acting in a hostile manner. Gabriella replied.
That dont matter. Frankly, its just a misunderstanding to me. I want you to go to Northern
Star and try and meet this Logan fella. Im sure hell take kindly to a little parley.
I can do that. Father Sam offered, Maybe hell listen to a man of faith.
Ill go with him. Gabriella added.
Much appreciated, Sutter returned, Take Yeats with you as well. He knows the way.
Ill stay with Abby. Shady Doug reported, Im sure she wont be able to nurse you all
day.
I think it would be better that I stay too. Plays added, If these people are excitable, I
doubt they would take kindly to the likes of me. Besides, I need to go with Dr Lightning
while he tests something he made to help find more wood.

Gabriella went to find Yeats while Father Sam was saddling his horse, a stubborn
Appaloosa named Charity. As they set out, Gabriella was feeling uneasy. After the
previous encounter, she was worried that the Northern Star cowboys may not hesitate to
shoot them.
The route Yeats led them on took roughly half a day. A large herd of cattle was grazing
near the path they were on. As they observed them, they noticed four riders approaching
them on the path. They all carried Winchester rifles, and one of them was gesturing for
them to halt. Gabriella looked at them as she brought her horse to a stop. The riders came
closer. She looked again. They werent the same riders who had visited the ranch, but she
wasnt breathing a sigh of relief just yet.
What do you folks want? The leader of the group demanded.
Were here to see Mr Logan! Father Sam called to them. The riders said nothing as they
closed the distance.
Whats the purpose of your visit? The leader asked.
We just want to have a talk. Father Sam replied calmly.
The leader said nothing, but simply gestured for them to follow him. The other three
cowboys took up a position behind them. Gabriella looked at them again. They didnt have
their weapons trained on them, but were holding them a way that would change that in due
time.
You just look where youre headed. One of them said.

The riders escorted the trio towards a large farmhouse at the centre of the ranch. They
dismounted and hitched their horses on the nearby post before being led to the porch. One
of the cowboys went inside the farmhouse while the other three stayed with the trio.
Youre not to roam the grounds under any circumstances. One of the cowboys stated,
spitting out a wad of tobacco into the nearby spittoon.
Gabriella watched the three men guarding them. They carried rifles while she had a pistol.
She knew shed be able to draw and shoot all three with a fanning manoeuvre, but there
was a whole ranch full of them.
Act natural. Yeats whispered, We dont want you looking for payback because one of
these folks said something nasty.
Gabriella nodded. Yeats pulled a cigar from his shirt pocket, offering one to the others.
Everyone shook their heads. The sentinels watched Yeats strike a match from his boot
and light the cigar. They paid no heed to him shaking the match out and tossing it aside.

After an uncomfortable, five minutes, the farmhouse began to give signs of life. A man with
a grizzled face and a mean expression left the house with the other cowboy. They were
followed by a man in his late forties with a closely shaved head and a cloth breathing
mask.
Howdy. The new man grunted, Names Randolph Logan. I hear you wanted to speak to
me bout something.
Thats right. Im Father Sam Johnson. My companions are Gabriella Vasquez and Rowdy
Yeats. Were here from the Lazy S Ranch.
The Lazy S Ranch? Logan pondered, Never heard of it.
Weve set up recently, Father Sam explained, We came to clear up a misunderstanding
between us and some of your boys who visited a couple of days ago.
Whatever degree of homeliness was on Logans face instantly faded the moment the
incident was mentioned.
As far as Im concerned, youre all nothing but a flea-bitten bunch of Southern squatters!
He snarled, You and your mangy beasts have three days to get off my range!
Gabriella interjected quickly.
Mister, I dont mind telling you this, but were holding a government-granted deed. She
informed him, So we have the legal right to set up on the land.
I dont care dog spit about no stinkin piece of paper! Logan screamed, I tamed this land
and there aint nobody tellin me who owns it! Me and my boys will grind that deed into the
dirt just as quick as we do you if youre still there when we come a-knocking! Now get
outta my ranch!
You heard him! One of the sentries barked, Move it!
They had their rifles trained on the group now. The trio from Lazy S were mounting their
horses and riding out before any of Logans hands got itchy trigger fingers.

Who was the masked man with Logan? Gabriella asked Yeats as they rode back.
Hes supposed to be an expert Logan brought in to help with his herd. Yeats explained,
Logan has lost a lot of cattle over the last couple years. Apparently, hed bought some
fancy European cows and they werent up to the Wyoming winters. He may have been
some fancy officer back in the War, but that dont mean he can raise cattle.
So where does this expert fit in? Father Sam asked.
The experts name is Barnabas Morley. Hes supposed to be helpin Logan out with his
herd, but dont how hes doing this. He looks like some city slicker from Back East, and I
dont know if that feller knows a heifer from a bull.

It was getting dark by the time the trio arrived back at the ranch. Abby was sitting on the
steps to the farmhouse watching them return.
How did it go? She asked.
Not well. Gabriella replied, Is Bill awake?
Abby nodded. Doug is with him at the moment. She said.

When they entered the farmhouse, Shady Doug was sitting outside the door to Sutters
bedroom.
Can we go in? Father Sam asked. Shady Doug said nothing, simply opening the door.
Sutter was lying in bed when the drifters entered. He looked up and tried to force a weak
smile.
Is everything sorted? He asked.
Gabriella shook her head.
What did Logan say?
We have three days to pack up and leave before he sends his boys over. She told him.
Sutter immediately sprang upwards as he went into a coughing fit. The drifters watched
him in silence. Shady Doug poured him a whisky.
This should soothe the throat. He said.
As the coughing fit resolved, Sutter took a swig from the glass and lay back down.
Lets get somethin clear. He said calmly, Im not gonna be going anywhere. We arrived
here from the far end of another country, and were here to stay. I didnt run away from
Bayou Vermilion just to get muscled by some ornery land baron. Things are gonna get
nasty. I have some errands for you lot.
Go on. Father Sam commented.
Tomorrow I want you to ride into Dirtwater and order as much barbed wire as you can get
your hands on. Sutter instructed, I want to fence off my property before Logan drives his
herd through here.
The drifters nodded.
While youre there, I want you to take our deed to the land office and get it recorded.
That doesnt sound too hard. Gabriella remarked.
Sutter grinned as he nodded. Thats the spirit. He said, Just make sure the deed is filed,
so everything is nice and legal when we kick Logans ass back to Montana!

Chapter 5 A Trip to Dirtwater
The drifters rode out early next morning with Yeats in tow, following the Buffalo River to a
well-travelled dirt road used by stagecoaches and cattle drives. Next to the path was a
freshly-laid stretch of track. After following them both for a couple of hours, the group
arrived at a sleepy-looking frontier town.
Welcome to Dirtwater. Yeats proclaimed, The largest town in Johnson County.
The drifters looked at him in disbelief, and back at the town on the horizon. The Largest
Town in Johnson County didnt look like it housed a population of triple figures. On the
other hand, there probably werent many towns in the county which covered most of the
Wyoming Territory, so the proclamation wasnt entirely sarcastic.
Whats with the name? Shady Doug inquired.
They say that when Northern Stars herd cross the Bighorn River downstream, a man can
walk across the dirt in the water. Yeats explained.
I get the feeling that Logan plays a large hand here. Gabriella muttered.
Thats not too far from the truth. Yeats replied, Most of the businesses are behind him
because most of their customers are his crew. Tates in his pocket too.
Tate?
Rory Tate. Hes a cheap gunslinger who used to latch on to some road agents down in
Arkansas. Now hes been hired as a marshal.

The drifters continued along into the town. Five clapboard residences were appearing on
the road which became the Dirtwater high street. A small church sat alone behind the
houses. Continuing onwards, they passed a small single-storey house marked with the red
and white stripy pole which signified a barbers. Just next to it was a larger building
signposted Glausers Dry Goods, while the Territorial Bank of Wyoming lay across the
street. Father Sam brought his wagon to a halt near the dry goods store. As everybody
hitched their mounts, Gabriella wandered down the street with the land grant in her pocket.
She turned to the corner of the bank to a side-street which housed the Government Land
Office along with the Marshals office and jail. The tracks leading into the town finished at
the far end of the street, where a station was being built up. Gabriella viewed the
construction while sighting a tent village nearby, a short walk out of town.
The land office was cramped and stuffy, with most of the floor space taken up by a single
desk and a row of filing cabinets. The sole occupant was small, bespectacled man with a
red suit and tie. As Gabriella entered the office, he had his shoes on the desk and was
reading a three-week old newspaper. He wasnt paying much attention to his new
customer.
Well, its not like this stuff is happening here. He muttered as the floorboards creaked
under Gabriellas boots. How can I be of assistance?
Id like to register this deed for the Lazy S Ranch. Gabriella said.
The clerk put down his paper and stood up. While he didnt really show it, Gabriella could
sense that he was admiring her beauty.
Howdy maam. He said, Ive not seen you here before.
Were new in town. Gabriella replied bluntly.
Ive not been here very long either. The clerk stated, My name is Milton Fisher. I oversee
the administration and sale of public lands here in the Wyoming Territory.
Fascinating. Gabriella mumbled, Speaking of which, what do you know about Randolph
Logan?
Mr Logan is one of the most respected figures in town. Milton stated proudly.
I mean, has he filed his deeds?
Of course he has.
May I see them?
Im sorry, but thats out of the question. Our files are confidential.
Gabriella felt herself in a hole. Her most common response to those kinds of answers was
the coercion route. She doubted that would work though, as Milton looked like someone
who would run for the marshal. She decided she would drop it. Most of the people in this
town would be likely to take up arms against strangers who threaten them. After seeing the
deed filed away, she turned and left, walking back to the dry goods store. As she left, she
noticed an odd-looking man in a weathered top hat and threadbare tailcoat walking into the
nearby building signposted as The Watering Hole. Following behind were five pale-faced
individuals carrying Winchesters. Judging from the name, and the bat-wing doors,
Gabriella figured that the Watering Hole was the local saloon. She looked at the stranger
again, catching a glimpse of several unusual rings and talismans, before walking into
Glausers Dry Goods.
Inside, Glausers was just like any other general store. All kinds of trail gear and farm tools
were on sale, along with cheap trail clothes and hats.
Twenty five hundred yards of barbed wire will be $250.
The other drifters were conversing with the stores owner, Thomas Glauser. He was a
somewhat podgy-looking but kind man.
Are you with Lazy S too? he asked Gabriella as she entered. She smiled and nodded.
Well, I have to say that youre ranch is good in my books at the moment. Ive been
running this joint for two years and my main customers have been Northern Star.
Well, things will change. Chances are that well be getting into fights with Logans boys
any time soon. Shady Doug commented.
Well, as long as I still have customers, Im not gonna take sides. Glauser replied,
Besides, Iron Dragon is laying tracks through here. Hopefully theyll bring more people
into town.
Im sure of it. Gabriella remarked, I saw some other new faces in town. One of them had
a strange get-up indeed.
So you heard about them strange southern fellas too. Glauser said.
Southern fellas? Shady Doug asked, Im intrigued.
They rode into town last night. The shopkeeper explained, They visited me earlier,
asking about anyone who has recently arrived from the CSA.
Gabriella felt nervous by the explanation. Who are they? She probed.
I dont know. Glauser answered, But I heard that theyre connected with some
Confederate railroad, Bayou something-or-other.
Bayou Vermilion. Father Sam muttered, We should get out of here.
In that case, Shady Doug added, Do you sell any weapons here, Monsieur Glauser?
Glauser made a waving gesture with his hand. There was a glass counter with five Colt
Navy revolvers, along with a rack housing two shotguns and an old Henry Repeating Rifle.
What you see is what you get. He said, These Navy sixes are $15 apiece, but theyre
cap and ball. I can order some cartridge revolvers, but it will cost a pretty penny.
Well, I want to be prepared so Ill take a Navy.
While Doug had been making use of bizarre hexes to deal with threats, he felt it was time
to start using something bigger than a derringer. Besides, as impressive as the hexes
were, they could be incredibly dangerous if they backfired, not to mention that he was
likely to get hanged for witchcraft if he kept it up.



Chapter 6 Wolves in the Fold
The journey back to the new ranch was thankfully uneventful. As the drifters were
approaching the main farmhouse, they caught notice of a large white tent that had been
set up. Abby was waiting for them.
A couple of the hands have got the pox. She explained, Im having them quarantined.
Were they trying to talk to Sutter? Shady Doug asked.
No. Abby replied as she shook her head, They were on night watch and said they got
jumped by some plague-ridden Injun.
Black Dog. Gabriella whispered.
Im glad you came back when you did. Abby continued, The ranch hands are getting
jumpy. Everyones reluctant to ride night watch.
Im gonna stop you there. Gabriella replied, I know what youre gonna say, but thats no
problem. I gotta earn my keep after all.
Abby clapped loudly to get the attention of the nearby trail hands.
Okay folks! She commanded, I want several able-bodied hands laying out our
boundaries! Logan has given us three days to light out, but that aint gonna happen!
The hands immediately ran to the wagon to unload the wire.
Youll do your uncle proud. Gabriella commented admirably as she and Father Sam
followed the other ranch hands out.

As the day went by, the crew had been able to lay the barbed wire out with minimal issues.
You sound like youve been with these folks for a while. Yeats said to Gabriella, Whats
Abbys story?
Abby is Sutters niece from Back East. Gabriella explained, She went to live with her
uncle after her parents died in a cholera outbreak. Im impressed that she has been able to
manage the drive from Texas.
Who else did you befriend on the trail?
We had a cook called Ortega. Father Sam told him, He was a former Mexican soldier.
There was also Canton, the trail boss.
I guess they didnt make it.
No. Gabriella lamented, Ortega was killed by partisans in Colorado. Canton was killed in
a shootout we had with Wasatch.
You got too close to Camp Hades? Yeats queried.
Father Sam was about to reply when Gabriella interjected.
Thats about right. She said, reluctant to talk about the whole incident with stolen plans.

As time passed, more trail hands were carrying the pox, leaving no more than a dozen to
work on the ranch. The drifters now found themselves with an increased workload,
whether it was with the day-to-day work with the herd, riding the range, or just simple
chores. Regardless of the work, the drifters were spending many a day feeling constantly
fatigued from the prior exertions.

A day after the drifters took on their new duties, Shady Doug was bedding down for the
night when Gabriella was waiting for him in the bunkhouse.
Plays and I drew night watch but Yeats is reluctant. Are you up for that? She said.
Sure, if I must. Doug replied groggily.
Abby said that something was spooking the herd. We need to try and find out what before
they stampede.
As they mounted up, they were feeling tired, having had little time to properly rest and
recover from the fatigue of the day.
Riding around the herd was more worthwhile than anticipated: In the poor light they could
make out what looked like an unfortunate bull which had been downed by a pack of wolves
that were tearing it limb from limb. Gabriella was carrying a Winchester loaned to her by
Yeats. She figured that shooting one of the wolves would cause them to scatter and run.
Raising the rifle, she fired and hit one of the wolves in the head. The creature dropped
down with a whimper, prompting the others to growl fiercely before running towards the
drifters.
Thats not normal. Plays remarked drawing his tomahawk and hacking at the next wolf
after Shady Doug fired a wild shot at the advancing pack. The shots were hitting their
marks, but the wolves were not even going down.
These wolves look rabid! Gabriella yelled, Watch out!
Before she could get a clear shot at another wolf, it leapt and knocked her off her mare.
Thinking quickly, she held the rifle in front of her in an attempt to keep the wolf from biting.
Once she could keep the wolf still, she reached for her Bowie knife and thrust it into the
beasts neck. The blade went in, but there was more resistance than normal. After giving it
a sharp twist, the wolf dropped dead.
All through the battle, the wolves did not run away. After the last wolf was killed, the trio
were catching a breather. Gabriella and Shady Doug were inquisitively examining one of
the carcasses. The wolves had scaly hides under their fur.
I figured something was wrong with those things. Doug pondered.
Do you think Black Dog has something to do with it? Gabriella asked.
Its possible. However, I havent found any signs of any pox. If its not Black Dog, what
else is out there which could taint them like that?
Well, lets get back and tell Abby. Gabriella replied, Well check the herd again in the
morning.
Agreed. Doug commented. If I stay out here any longer Ill be sleeping in my saddle.

Chapter 7 The Hunt for Black Dog
When the sun rose over the plains the following morning, the drifters were joining the other
trail hands for breakfast. Abby was waiting sombrely for everybody.
Everybody, Im afraid to inform you that Sutter is gone. She said, trying to hold off her
tears, He died in bed this morning.
Nobody said anything. Gabriella and Father Sam approached Abby and held her in
comfort.
He succumbed to his illness. I thought he was going to make it. She said softly as she
began to weep.
If you want, Ill conduct a sermon for him. Father Sam offered, Its the least we can do.

By mid-afternoon, most of the trail hands were gathered on the Wyoming plains. A grave
had been dug, and an impromptu coffin had been built out of the spare wood from the
barn. As Sutter was lowered in, Father Sam was watching over the gathering with a bible
clutched to his chest. He cleared his throat.
Bill Sutter was a good man, as rugged as the land he made his home. Father Sam
proclaimed, He died following his dreams, leading us to a promised land where our cattle
can be raised and our livelihoods can be built. As a man of the range, he lived in fear. The
same fear we all live with. With his passing, he has lost that fear, and the Lord shall lead
him to the Promised Land. As a token of our appreciation, we commit his body to the land
which made him the man he was, and the land which made us. Earth to Earth, ashes to
ashes, dust to dust.
The trail hands hung their heads in sorrow and held their hats to their chests. Father Sam
made the sign of the cross as the grave was filled. Gabriella turned to face everybody.
The Comanche known as Black Dog was an old enemy of Sutters. She told them, He
raided settlements in Texas until he was brought in by a posse in which Sutter was a part
of. It is likely that Black Dog had used his agreement with Bayou Vermilion to hunt down
the members of this posse. He will be revelling in victory and will continue to threaten us. I
say we find this evil shaman, and we kill him. For I will strike down upon thee with great
vengeance and furious anger, those who try to destroy and poison my brothers. And he
will know my name is the Lord when I lay may vengeance upon thee.
The ranch hands cheered at Gabriellas fervour, but Father Sam was not too convinced.
Gabriella, are you sure about this? He asked, A crusade will only get you killed, not to
mention those around you.
You remember what Sutter described when he was bushwhacked. She retorted, He said
he was at Deaths Door, if he hasnt walked through already. Plays mentioned something
about a transformation that occurs in his peoples tall yarns.
Shes right. Plays agreed, If Black Dog has become one of those Pox Walkers my
shaman told me about, he will continue to threaten us.
Hes become something from another world. Shady Doug added, Pere, if were being
threatened by an unholy being, we have to work together against it.
You appeal to me to fight a devil, when you associate with devils yourself? Father Sam
asked.
Hypocrisy has nothing to do with it. You have to help us fight.
Father Sam pondered the appeal, remembering the vow he made long ago.
Very well, he said, I will help you in your hunt. But you must remember; I am not fighting
to avenge Sutter, I am fighting to protect the ranch and those who work it.
Keep your eyes open! Abby ordered, We have a revenant to stamp out!

Over the next few days, the drifters and whatever ranch hands were still fit for duty were
patrolling the range in search of any sign of Black Dog. It was early on the third day when
a development occurred.
The night riders were due back an hour ago. Abby told the drifters just before breakfast,
I want a search party mounted.
Gabriella primed a Winchester and mounted her black mare, spurring her forwards. The
other drifters mounted their horses and followed her. Riding a few miles away, they found
them, or what remained of them. One of the riders was lying on the ground with a slit
throat. The other had been staked out and savagely mutilated. Both were crudely scalped
and bearing pox sores.
Looks like Black Dog is upping his game. Gabriella remarked as she staved off the
nausea brought on by witnessing the gruesome scene.
And he was getting carried away. Plays added, examining the ground. The blood is still
wet. He's still around.
He led his horse to follow the trail of blood. There were no other tracks.
Lets get him. Gabriella said enthusiastically, But keep your distance.
The drifters followed the blood trail five miles across the Wyoming grasslands. Three miles
in, they began to pick up footprints.
He must be using some kind of tribal medicine to cover his tracks. Shady Doug
remarked, Evidently it has worn off.
The tracks led to a very crude lair on the prairie; no campfires or bedding, but the plant life
had wilted and from Black Dogs constant presence and sickening aura, while the ground
was littered with gnawed bones and the rotting carcasses of half-chewed gophers and
rabbits, along with other small animals.
Yeats rode with the group, spotting movement in the undergrowth. He aimed his
Winchester and fired, hitting a wolf. Before he could examine it, four more wolves
emerged. Father Sam raised his Gatling shotgun and fired, tearing two of them up, while
Plays hit the final one with a well-placed arrow. Immediately afterwards, a human figure
emerged. It was Black Dog, covered from head to toe in pox sores. He lurched towards the
drifters. Gabriella and Yeats fired at him, but he shrugged off the bullets. He was only
interested in trying to infect the drifters. They opened fire on him with everything they had.
The hail of fire sent Black Dog reeling backwards. Dr Lightning rode forwards with a new
contraption. The shaman grabbed him and exhaled. The scientist choked as he inhaled
the creatures virulent breath. As he was pulled to the ground, he swung his wrench.
Catching Black Dog in the face, the strike burst several of his sores, showering Dr
Lightning with pus. He pushed the shaman off and raised the contraption. A burst of flame
engulfed the creature, setting him alight.
As the dust cleared, the drifters were catching their breath. Black Dogs remains lay where
they were. Dr Lightning turned his flamethrower on the other carcasses.
Harvey, where did you get that device? Plays asked.
Why should I elaborate? the inventor retorted.
It doesnt matter. Yeats interrupted, Weve taken care of that abomination. Can we go
home now?

The ride back was uneventful. Upon returning to the ranch, they were greeted by Abby
Morton, holding several bottles of booze.
It looks like you got into a skirmish. She said, handing them over. Dr Lightning had been
coughing a lot, and downed the bottle as he was handed one. Gabriella took hers and
sipped it with more moderation.
I figured you would all want a drink. Abby told them, But Im also here to tell you about
what will happen now that Sutters gone.
She handed them a will bearing her uncles signature. Father Sam read it with interest.
Sutter has been very pleased with your support. Abby explained, He has decided that
once the herd is sold, he wishes for you all to give me your shares of the profits, and in
return, I will sign the ownership of the ranch over to you.
That gives me a chance to settle down. Gabriella remarked, However, there is still more
to do.
Chapter 8 The Common Threats
A few days passed. Significant portions of the range had been fenced off. Logan hadnt
tried anything yet, but the Lazy S crew were still anxious about what could happen. It
wasnt until the trail hands were drawing line riding duty that they found it.
Gabriella and Father Sam were patrolling the perimeter where the barbed wire was laid.
Someone had cut the wire, requiring them to make repairs.
What do you think? Gabriella asked.
Its probably rustlers. Father Sam replied as he nursed the fresh blisters on his hands.
Maybe Northern Star has something to do with it. Youre thinking it too. They must be
doing it at night after the watch has gone.
We dont have proof of that. Gabriella, I dont like where this is going. We dont have
enough people to camp out.
Youre right. Wed better check on the herd. Some could be missing.

The following morning, the ranch was visited by a group of riders. Gabriella recognised a
few of them as ranch hands from Northern Star. She reached for her Colt Peacemaker,
only for Yeats to stop her.
Thats Marshal Tate leading them. He warned, This might not be a raid.
And next to him is the foreman who threatened us when we arrived here. Gabriella
reminded him.
As the riders came to a halt, all the Lazy S ranch hands gathered to meet them.
These are the degenerates, Marshal! The foreman growled, Not only are these bastards
squatting on our land, now theyre rustling our cattle!
Is this another ploy to drive us off? Gabriella asked.
Marshal Tate rode forwards.
Frankly, these gentlemen at Northern Star have some pretty serious accusations. Id like
to examine your herd you know, to make sure theres been no accidental mingling of
cattle.
Go ahead. Gabriella huffed. She knew that Logan was taking the opportunity to cause
trouble for them.
What do you think? Yeats whispered.
If there are some rustlers, we wont be able to track them very far. Gabriella deduced,
Well have to catch them in the act. Well stakeout tonight when we make repairs.
That evening, the drifters were camped out near one of the cut sections of fence. The only
light came from the stars, as Gabriella had ordered against having a fire. While they
couldnt see anything, they were a lot more alert to the sounds around them. Shady Doug
was shuffling a deck of cards when he heard the sound of spurs. Gabriella picked up the
sound as well. They were coming, and there were at least ten of them. In time, she made
out their silhouettes in the moonlight. As they approached the herd, she drew her
Peacemaker and fanned all the rounds. Three of the silhouetted figures dropped dead,
while others drew their weapons and scattered. Shady Doug drew his Navy and fired at
the first muzzle flash he saw. Another man went down. Plays followed suit, readying his
bow and firing at the next man.
Eventually, the shots died down. Dr Lightning had switched on his equipment, using the
light it generated to perceive their foes. They were dropping down their guns and walking
towards them with their hands raised.
Dont shoot! One of the rustlers yelled, We surrender!

As time passed, five of the captured rustlers were being led back to the ranch. Gabriella
sat them down and stood before them.
Now, who are you folks? Are you from Northern Star? She asked them.
My names Morton Walsh. The leader answered, These are my boys: Pike, Dutch, Lyle,
and Tector. As for who we work for, we work for ourselves.
Where do you come from?
We hide out in the Bighorn Mountains and steal from Logans herd. When we heard a
new ranch was started up, we decided to expand, until we came across your barbed wire.
Granted we could crawl under it, but we couldnt breach it for the horses or the cattle.
Gabriella immediately felt suspicious at Walshs story.
What do you mean you couldnt breach the wire? She asked.
We visited the place and were always stopped by the wire. Walsh explained, And then a
day ago we found a section were someone had cut the fence.

The following morning, Gabriella and Father Sam had loaded the rustlers on board the
wagon, taking them to Dirtwater. The locals were all watching as they brought the wagon
to a halt outside the jail. Gabriella primed a Winchester and gestured for them to leave,
herding them inside. Marshal Tate looked on as he opened the cell door.
Who are these folks? He asked.
These gentlemen are the surviving members of the Morton Walsh gang. Gabriella
explained, Theyre the people behind Logans missing herd. Tell Logan that theres a
rustler camp in the Bighorn Mountains. Theyll find their cattle there.
As she left, she caught notice of the building site at the end of the street the towns future
train station. To the north lay an array of tents.
Thats the Iron Dragon workers camp. Father Sam told her. Theyre laying the tracks
through here.

By the evening, Gabriella and Yeats were riding the perimeter again. The fences were still
being cut, this time at an open stretch of prairie with no real terrain features. As Yeats set
to work repairing the breach, a shot rang out. Gabriella drew her Peacemaker and dived to
the ground, trying to keep herself as low as possible. Turning her head, she saw Yeats
sprawled on the floor, a large hole between his eyes. Shady Doug and Plays ran to where
she was.
Did you see anything? She asked. They shook their heads.
Try and get to that hill over there. She ordered, Spread out and stay low.
They crawled forwards. Shady Doug was shuffling his cards again, ready to cast a hex
without anybody noticing. Another shot rang out. The bullet hit the ground next to him, as if
the bushwhacker had simply missed his shot. Gabriella couldnt see the muzzle flash, but
saw the smoke rising from the long grass. It was at least 500 yards away. They had to get
closer. Shady Doug concentrated again. A bright glow emanated from the grass. The three
stood and ran. Gabriella drew her Peacemaker and fired a shot at the glow. Due to the
distance, her chances of hitting were unlikely. As they got closer, they saw the light moving
away. They ran faster, climbing up the hill in no time at all. By then, the light had faded, but
they could see a figure standing and preparing to run. Gabriella fired another shot, hitting
the figure in the leg. He tumbled down the hill to where his horse was. Gabriella stamped
down in his wound and trained her Peacemaker at his head.
Sorry, but youre not going anywhere. She growled.
Jesus fucking Christ! The bushwhacker screeched as he felt the pain.
Shady Doug walked down to join them. In his hands was a discarded Bullard Express rifle
with a state-of-the-art telescopic sight affixed to the top.
Whats your name? Gabriella asked.
Jed Cooper! Im a buffalo hunter!
Well, that explains the high-calibre rifle. Now, what are you doing here?
I was hired by some fella in Laramie! They wanted me to put the fear of God in some
squatters!
So, youre one of Logans troublemakers? Gabriella asked.
Logan? Ive never heard of him.
Gabriella lifted her foot off his leg, at the same time searching the mans pockets. Finding
the typical spare rounds and cleaning kit, she pocketed them along with a set of wire
cutters.
Now, get outta here and report back to your bosses! She demanded.

How do you think he knew about us? Shady Doug asked.
Well, he didnt know Logan, but he said some agent in Laramie hired him. Gabriella
replied, I suppose hes using his connections with the WSGA.


Chapter 9 Im Callin You Out!
A few days passed after the drifters captured Logans bushwhacker. Gabriella and Shady
Doug were gambling in the Watering Hole Saloon in Dirtwater. Joining them was the
saloons owner, Rufus Burke, and a few other patrons. Naturally, Shady Doug was
cleaning out the house with relative ease when another player took exception.
When a man with a funny accent swindles me, I dont take kindly to it! Matt Reynolds
growled. His well-trimmed beard did nothing to hide his cold, murderous gaze. He was a
newcomer in town, but with a reputation for a short temper.
I guess some folks are sore losers. Shady Doug replied, realising he was probably being
set up.
You dont look like the duelling kind. Reynolds stated, But Ive heard about your lady
friend. Vendetta Vasquez, Im calling you out!
Very well. Gabriella mumbled, Ive folded anyway. Lets get this over with.
Everyone fell silent as Gabriella met Reynolds in the middle of the street. They said
nothing, simply trying to intimidate one another with their hard stares. The onlookers were
silent, while Shady Doug was constantly shuffling his cards again. A joker materialised in
his hands, which he quickly concealed into his deck. He prepared to speak when the
words came.
Draw. Reynolds said. They both drew simultaneously. Reynolds was able to shoot first,
hitting Gabriella in the abdomen. She dropped to the ground and winced hard. As
Reynolds began to advance, she drew her own Peacemaker and fired her shot. The surly
gunslinger fell back as the bullet entered his lung. He coughed up blood and fell still.
Shady Doug and Thomas Glauser ran towards Gabriella and lifted her up.
I need someone to help me get the bullet out! Shady Doug said with a tone of urgency.
Take her to Horatio. Glauser told him, Hell be able to help you.
He led them to the barbers next to his store. The proprietor, Horatio England was standing
outside as they approached.
I guess none of you are here for a haircut. He said, Removing a bullet will be $6, and I
only take Union bills.
Shady Doug reached into his pocket and produced a handful of silver dollars.
The currency might be mixed but the metal should be fine. He said.
Sit her down. Horatio instructed. Glauser laid Gabriella in the barbers chair as Horatio
produced a set of tools. I recommend some strong liquor.
Glauser nodded and ran back to his store, returning with an aged bottle of whiskey. He
handed the bottle to Gabriella, who drew it back with a heavy swig. Shady Doug tried to
hold her down as Horatio extracted the bullet and dressed the wound.
Do you do this a lot? Shady Doug asked.
I worked in the field hospitals during the Civil War. Horatio replied, After the ceasefire I
came up to Dirtwater to open a barbers shop, but I dont get much call for that kind of
work. If Im very lucky, I get to pull teeth.
By this point, Gabriella was in a drunken stupor.
I probably shouldnt be heading back to Lazy S. Horatio recommended, Shell need to
rest for a couple of days. Im sure that Winslow will board her. Hes three doors down.
Shady Doug nodded in acknowledgement as he and Horatio lifted Gabriella up carefully.
They had barely stepped off the porch when they ran into Marshal Tate, with his
Peacemaker trained on them.
Gabriella Vasquez, youre under arrest for the murder of Matt Reynolds. He said, You
gentlemen are required to turn her over to me before I run you in as well.
Hold on a moment. Glauser interrupted, I saw the whole thing. Reynolds shot first.
Yes, but it was in self-defence. Tate argued.
Oh yeah? Shady Doug asked, And who can attest to that?
Well, I have a statement from Rufus Burke saying that Reynolds tried to report a cheat
and Gabriella challenged him to a duel. And when the duel took place, Bertram Clark
witnessed Gabriella draw her weapon on Reynolds.

Tates words were almost comedic. Everyone knew that Logan was behind Rory Tates
appointment as Marshal. Bertram Clarke, the owner of Clarks Feed Store, was also
known to be a staunch supporter of Logan, along with Rufus Burke.
I do recall seeing Reynolds shoot first as well. Horatio stated.
Regardless, I must be taking Miss Vasquez into custody. Tate informed the dissenters.
Shady Doug watched as Horatio and Tate led Gabriella to the town jail.
Is there any better law enforcement than this? he asked Glauser.
Im afraid not. Glauser replied, Granted, there is an elected sheriff in Johnson County,
but hes based in Fort McKinney. Thats on the other side of the Bighorn Mountains.

Doug was hanging his head low as he trudged to Winslows Hotel. The owner, Daniel
Winslow, looked sympathetic.
How much are rooms? Shady Doug asked.
Its $5 a night. Winslow replied bluntly.
Shady Doug handed him another bundle of coins, along with some Union scrip.
Heres $10 for two rooms, and a $15 bonus if you can provide with some insight on the
days incident. He said.
Winslow snatched up the change and pocketed it. That boorish fellow provoked your lady
friend into a duel and then shot her. Id say she killed him in self-defence.
A grin came to Shady Dougs face. It was apparent that Winslow did very little business
with Logan, hence the ease of buying his support. He ran back to the marshals office.

Tates residence and office was a single-room affair. Tates desk and a small cot lay in the
corner of the room, taking up one third of the space. A rack behind the door contained
three Winchesters and a double-barrelled shotgun. The remaining two thirds of the
building were taken up by the two cells. Morton Walsh and his gang continued to linger in
one of them, while Gabriella was lying on the cot in the other one.
What do want, French? Tate asked.
I have some more witnesses who will support your new occupant. Shady Doug replied,
Also, Ive come with her bail.
He handed Tate the rest of his money. Tate pocketed it and produced his keys.
Take her, and get the hell out. He said.

Chapter 10 Mad Cows and Dragons
After recovering from her wounds, Gabriella returned to Lazy S. The next few days went
by uneventfully. It wasnt until one afternoon when the next phase of their struggles came
to them.
It had been almost a full month since the Lazy S crew had arrived. Another group of riders
was approaching the ranch. Gabriella and Father Sam watched them closely, but they
didnt look like the Northern Star hands. The head rider was a Chinese man, dressed in
attire not suited to ranching. He had a revolver in his holster, along with a large oriental
sword. His men, most of them Asians, were taking up positions around the assembling
drifters as the leader dismounted and approached them.
They look like enforcers from the Iron Dragon camp in Dirtwater. Father Sam whispered.
Good afternoon. The leader of the group said to them, My name is Li Zhen. I have been
informed by the railroad workers that they are nearing a fenced off area. Is this by any
chance the cattle ranch known as Lazy S?
Thats right. Abby replied as she stepped out of the farmhouse to investigate the scene.
I am here to inform you that this land is the property of the Iron Dragon Railroad
Company. You are all to leave at once. Zhen ordered.
Mister, Ive told this to Logan, and Im telling you that we have a legal claim to this land.
Abby retorted.
Mister Logan has already sold this area to the company, saying it was unoccupied. Zhen
argued.
Well, I have a deed that says otherwise. Abby stated, handing over a copy of the deed.
Zhen read it carefully, swearing under his breath in Chinese.
Satisfied? Gabriella asked.
Is this genuine? Zhen queried.
If you dont believe us, I suggest you check that with Milton Fisher at the Land Office in
Dirtwater. Father Sam told him, He will be able to verify it as a government land grant.
Okay, you win. Extension of the Iron Dragon rail spur will halt until I can verify your deed
at the Land Office. Zhen stated, But you can mark my words that Ill be back.
He mounted his horse and led the other men away.

That evening, Abby was pondering the situation over the evening meal in the farmhouse.
What do you think about this matter? She asked the drifters.
It sounds like Logan was trying to sell the land to Iron Dragon in the hopes that they would
drive us away. Gabriella stated, Fortunately, Zhen seems a lot more level headed than
most Iron Dragon enforcers.
So, what will happen? Plays asked.
Zhen will see the paperwork at the land office and hell realise his mistake. Gabriella
deduced, And I imagine hell ask Logan for his money back.
Hes buying himself time. Shady Doug suggested, If we get into a fight with Iron Dragon,
Kang will find out that one of his people has fallen for a some cheap swindle
Logan wont be able to square with both Iron Dragon and us. Abby theorised, If were
lucky, our conflict may be over soon.

Late at night, Gabriella was being roused from her sleep by one of the other drovers
returning from night watch.
Gabby, theres something weird going on out there! He yelled, waking the other drifters.
Rising groggily, she grabbed the Bullard rifle she held on to and followed the others
outside. The drover led them to the far reaches of the property where a bizarre sight
greeted them: An unusually large steer was standing over the body of a cow, as if it was
protecting one that had fallen over. In the moment that followed, it stooped its head down
and took a bite from the carcass.
Thats not normal behaviour. The driver commented.
Gabriella raised the Bullard. The intimidating bull caught sight of the onlookers and emitted
an unnerving bellow before charging at them. Gabriella fired the Bullard, hitting the
creature in the side of its torso to no effect. She loaded another cartridge as Father Sam
uncovered his Gatling Shotgun and fired a burst. The buckshot was practically bouncing
off the creature. Gabriella chambered another round into the Bullard and shot the creature
in the head. It tumbled the ground. Father Sam held a lantern close to the carcass as
Shady Doug examined it.
Do you remember those wolves we encountered a while back? He asked.
Ive seen enough weirdness out here that Ive probably forgotten. Gabriella replied.
Well, look at this.
An examination revealed that the cow had scaly skin, similar to the wolves they had
encountered previously. Additionally, the bulls horns and hooves had a metallic sheen. It
took a while for the drifters to notice that the creatures wounds were oozing a thick black
fluid instead of blood, and its eyes were sunken and white with cataracts. The final feature
on the gross abomination was the large star-shaped brand on its rear.
Thats one of Logans beeves. Gabriella said, What could they be doing?
Chapter 11 The Flames of War
Two days after Iron Dragons visit, Father Sam was heading into Dirtwater with Gabriella
and Shady Doug. As they brought their wagon to a halt outside Glausers Dry Goods, the
shots rang out. A dozen masked figures were riding into town, whooping and hollering as
they fired their weapons into the air. The drifters readied their weapons and hid amongst a
building site situated between Glausers store and Winslows Hotel. From their vantage
point, they could see the group gathering outside the land office. Five of the gunmen
dismounted and entered the store. A moment later, Milton Fisher was running out of the
building, with the gunmen shooting at his heels. Gabriella raised her Peacemaker and fired
back at the men stationed outside. Doug and Sam followed suit.

The two parties exchanged shots for a while, until they caught sight of the smoke coming
out of the windows of the land office. At the same time, Marshal Tate had run to the
building site with a shotgun in his hands.
I thought I told you never to come back! He yelled at the drifters, Drop your weapons
and surrender!
His angry fluster was cut short as one of the masked gunmen began firing at him. He ran
to the building site to join the drifters.
I outta run you folks in right here and now. He told them.
You can arrest us later. Gabriella snarled, Right now, these folks are set on burning
down the place. And last time I checked, youre the marshal.
Fine. Tate said, Keep them busy, and Ill get a bucket brigade to deal with the fire.
They nodded. Father Sam emerged from cover and fired a burst. The cloud of buckshot
peppered two of the gunmen, sending their horses rearing and throwing them off. Gabriella
stepped out into the open, fanning her Peacemaker. Three more gunmen dropped dead as
her rounds hit their marks. Shady Doug continued to fire at them.

As time passed, the shots began to die down and the riders began to flee. Tates group
were able to get to the land office and put the fires out while the drifters examined the
bodies, accompanied by the other townsfolk. Lucinda Hayes, the owner of Big Lucys
Dance Hall, stooped down to remove the mask from one of the dead gunmen.
I know those guys! She exclaimed, Theyre Logans hands!
That figures. Gabriella replied, looking at another body, What about this guy here?
I dont know him. Rufus answered, The five who torched the land office look like
strangers. Theyre not from around here.
Logan must have got some reinforcements from Laramie. Father Sam deduced.
That means that Li Zhen confronted him. Gabriella replied, One of his hands survived.
She walked over to one of the men, writhing on the floor in agony.
What were you planning? She asked.
Logans in deep shit now. The rancher seethed, His friends in Laramie sent him some
gunmen. Our job was to burn the land office and destroy all the deeds. That way Logan
could refute any claims to the land. He also wanted to drive away the most persistent thorn
in his side Lazy S.
Gabriellas eyes widened.
We have to get back to the ranch! She yelled, Leave the wagon!


Sometime after the wagon had left the ranch, Plays caught wind of another group
approaching. Another party of masked riders was approaching. They were firing wildly in
the vicinity of the herd, sending them stampeding towards the ranch. He ran to take cover
as the herd charged through the area. He noticed Abby and Dr Lightning also trying to take
cover.
Soon, the dust was settling, only for it to start up again as the riders charged in. Plays
nocked an arrow and fired. One of the riders dropped off his horse as the arrow caught
him in the chest. Dr Lightning fired up his apparatus and delivered a burst of electrical
energy which engulfed a large portion of the raiders.
The group of marauders remained on their horses, firing wildly at anything that moved.
Plays drew his tomahawk and threw it at the closest rider. He slumped off his horse as the
axe embedded in his back. Abby fired at them with her Winchester to keep them busy as
Plays retrieved his weapon. At the same time, five Lazy S hands were returning fire, trying
to dispatch their attackers before they mounted up to retrieve the herd. The attackers had
no chance and quickly scattered. While Lazy S had lost a lot of trail hands from Black
Dogs attacks, those who remained were hardened Texans who werent ones to be trifled
with.
By the time Gabriella and the others reached the ranch, the attack had already passed.
The crew were rounding up the herd or catching a breather.

After cleaning up the damage, the drifters were celebrating their victory when more visitors
arrived. Li Zhen had arrived at the farmhouse, along with Marshal Tate.
You folks are the talk of the town now. Tate informed the drifters, And frankly, everyone
has decided that Logan is a danger. Im gonna charge you with this job now. Run him out,
and well be even.
I agree. Abby replied, The attack on the ranch was the final straw. We must retaliate.
Unfortunately, I feel that attacking a man I had been doing business with would not sit well
with my employer. Li Zhen stated, However, if you could persuade him to close up shop,
his resignation would be well-received.
Another group of five entered the farmhouse, carrying rifles and shotguns.
We used to ranch around here until Logan forced us out. The leader said, If you need
our help, youve got it. A rancher who sends outlaws to do his dirty work should be packing
his bags about now.
Gabriella stood up. She was determined to finish what they had started.
All for one and one for all. She said, priming a Winchester. It ends tonight.

Chapter 12 The Falling Star
The drifters said nothing as they made their way towards the Northern Star Ranch. Thanks
to Logans joint attack on Dirtwater and the Lazy S Ranch, they were anticipating the
chances of an easy fight. Although the remaining Lazy S hands were preoccupied with
their duties at the ranch, they still had the support of the exiled ranchers who had joined
them.
The main buildings had just come into view when the shooting started. The posse took
cover behind the numerous rocks strewn around, avoiding the hail of fire coming from the
bunkhouses. Five Northern Star ranch hands were riding to confront them, only to be
thrown back by a hail of gunfire. Those who werent hit fell back to the main building,
where Logan was taking cover.
You squatters will be in deep shit when Morleys secret weapon rolls in! He shouted.
Gabriella responded with a shot that hit one of the ranchers standing nearby.

The parties continued to exchange gunfire when Hell broke loose. First, a loud noise
emanated from the barn. In less than a second, the doors broke down as Barnabas Morley
was hurled through them. Hot on his heels was a gigantic bull with red eyes and a scaly
hide. It had gored Morley through the barn, and went on to deliver a fatal trampling. The
drifters and their allies held their breath to stop their fearful trembling.
Its a bull from the Devils Herd! One of the vigilantes yelled as he crossed himself.
The bull emitted a devilish roar and charged towards the other Northern Star buildings. It
was followed by a dozen brawny Northern Star Longhorns which were in the corral.
Those look like that mad cow from a few nights ago! Shady Doug observed.
As he made his observation, the demonic bull and the other cows were stampeding
through the bunkhouses and Logans farmhouse. The clapboard structures provided little
resistance as the herd crashed through them. The shots which emanated from inside were
accompanied by terrified screams and curses, followed by silence.

The drifters quickly opened fire on the bull, only for their bullets to bounce off. Even Dr
Lightnings experimental weaponry was unable to penetrate the creatures scales. As the
stampeding cattle turned their attention to the posse, they began to scatter. Gabriella
promptly caught notice of a black box lodged between the bulls horns. She raised her
Winchester and fired. The bullet ricocheted off the bulls head. She chambered the next
round and fired again, striking the ground underneath the creatures blackened hoof. Her
allies were already making distance. It was too late for her too follow, as the herd was
getting too close. She held her breath and fired her last round. It worked. The box
shattered, and the creature emitted an unnerving death rattle as it tumbled to the ground.
The other cattle immediately dropped down dead.
Chapter 13 A New Ranch in Town
So, Morley was experimenting with the thing you encountered at the ranch?
Abby was her usual inquisitive self that evening. The drifters and their new allies were
having their evening meal back at Lazy S, along with Marshal Tate and Li Zhen.
It sounded like he was trying to resurrect the creature. Shady Doug theorised, He was
probably transfusing the demons blood into Logans herd, which created some kind of
bond between them. That would explain why they all dropped dead the second the
creature was killed. And they certainly werent happy with Logan. There was nothing left of
him or his crew when the dust had settled.
You are forgetting something. Tate remarked, Now that Logans dead, whos gonna pay
my wages?
Now that Logans dead, more ranchers would be able to settle here in peace. Gabriella
replied. Also, once the railroad is finished, you can expect an influx of people arriving in
Dirtwater. You wont even have to make up some misdemeanours anymore.
On the subject of that, Li Zhen interrupted, I had paid Mr Logan $3000 for my railroads
right-of-way through what was supposed to be his land. However, now that he is out of the
way and I got Kangs money back, I am willing to make the same offer to you.
He placed a contract on the table, followed by another.
I would also like to express my gratitude in your work exposing Logans fraudulent deal.
This other contract is for the Iron Dragon Railroad Companys rights to purchase cattle
from the Lazy S ranch. I will offer a purchase price of $30 a head.
Abbys eyes widened at the generosity of this offer. It was better than what Bayou
Vermilion had offered back in Texas.
The five us are the current owners of this ranch. Gabriella stated, And I for one would be
delighted to sign both contracts.
The other drifters nodded in agreement, taking their turns to sign the contract before
shaking Zhens hand.
I must say, Zhen remarked, It had been a great pleasure doing business with you.


True to Zhens words, the Iron Dragon railroad reached completion, allowing Dirtwater to
grow into one of the prosperous towns in Johnson County. Lazy S became the largest ranch
in the county, and was more accepting of the new ranchers establishing themselves
following the fall of Northern Star.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association was unwilling to forgive Logans death. In 1892,
they attempted to force the other ranchers off their lands. In the ensuing conflict which
became known as the Johnson County War, Abby Morton was able to coordinate an
effective resistance which beat back the invaders and crippled the WSGAs power forever.
Gabriella remained in Johnson County, going far as to serve terms as Marshal in Dirtwater
following Tates retirement. Her influence and respect was vital in garnering the support of
Johnson Countys sheriff in their battle against Logans allies in Laramie. She died in 1901,
killed in a duel by a drifter known only as Stone.
Father Sam sold his share of the Lazy S Ranch in 1881, settling down in Dirtwater and
accepting a permanent role as a pastor. His wandering days long passed, he died
peacefully in his bed in 1910.
Plays with Fire was reluctant to remain in Wyoming after Lazy S was established. Once
the Iron Dragon line was completed, he travelled to the Sioux Nations and lived the rest of
his life with a family in the Black Hills of Dakota.
Shady Doug married Gabriella in 1885 and stayed with her on the Lazy S Ranch, but his
fascination with the supernatural remained. Following the Johnson County War, he went to
conduct a research project in Yellowstone. He never returned.
Dr Lightning continued to take his inventions throughout the West, going on to join a
scientific community in the Great Maze.

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