Deadlands Classic : The Adventure Party

Deadlands Dime Novel 2: Breakdown Blues
Basements and bananas...


When we last left off, our posse of rough and tumble adventurers had finished off a gang of outlaws who had attempted to highjack their train.  In taking account of the carnage, they found the baggage car and caboose had vanished.   Laura Giles was rather insistent that someone find the baggage car.  So Dr. Etienne Vendretti, Raul Blackthorne, Ernestine Smith, Tanya McDaniels, and Tobias Allen accompanied Laura searching down the tracks for the missing cars.  Tala, the wise comanchee medicine man, stayed behind to comfort and protect the rest of the passengers.

A quarter mile down the track, the posse found the baggage car  and caboose overturned on the side of the track, with some luggage strewn around. Laura pulled open a door on the baggage car and stepped in, followed shortly by Ernestine, with Etienne keeping watch outside, chuckling ruefully to himself.

It was dark inside the windowless car, so Laura lit a match – in the small sphere of light she saw red streaks on the roof underneath her feet- Ernestine quickly spotted a lantern out of the scattered mess  and lit it – the lantern was covered with gore, and so was the rest of the cabin.   Both women took a moment to recover their nerves as they took in the nightmarish scene. The crate – which Laura had been particularly interested in, seem to have been shattered apart, from the inside. Tobias looked in the car, took in the carnage and set to gathering the belongings of the other passengers, finding the reporter Denise Merritt's belongings in decent condition.  

While digging up luggage, Tobias found the damaged remains of some sort of elaborate pistol, along with spent shells on the floor.  Laura further identified it as a gatling pistol that belonged to her partner, Alan Seyberth.  Ernestine looked more closely at the gun and found that it had not been damaged due to a misfire, but it had been bent by some outside force.

Inside the caboose, more carnage was uncovered, with gore from what must have been the remaining two employees.  Someone found a scattergun among the scattered gear.  Ernestine found some emergency signs and set them out near the track, to warn any future trains of the wreck ahead.

Meanwhile, Etienne noticed some odd tracks leading from the car and in to the woods beyond; , it wasn't like any animal or man he had trailed before.  Etienne felt something truly disturbing had made these, something weaved out of supernatural influences – He consulted with Raul about his sense, and Laura injected herself into the discussion.

The party was starting to grow suspicious of Laura's agenda, but she assured the party that she was just a humble school teacher looking to establish a new school with her missing associate, and it was not uncommon that privileged men back east arm them selves with gatling pistols before heading west.  The rest of the gang was more than satisfied with this completely reasonable explanation.

Tanya was eager to follow the tracks, in spite of the sun getting lower in the sky.  Raul tried to dissuade her but she snapped back at him. The two argued until Laura shut them both down in her best school-mistress fashion. 

The posse made a plan for the rest of the passengers.  They would bring them back to camp near the  baggage car and set them following the tracks back to the nearest town of Nero in the morning, while they hunted down whatever had killed the poor folks in the caboose.

Etienne delivered the bad news, the plan and the scattergun to Harold the cook. The young boys in the wreck tried to see what had happened inside the baggage car, but Laura school-marmed them into place.  Tobias dutifully delivered luggage to the other passengers, sparing them from viewing it first hand.  Everyone was fed with what was salvaged from the dining car and camp was struck as the sun went down.

Raul and Tanya took first watch. Raul took the opportunity to explain to Tanya that he had been hired to look after her on account of her father, Hell McDaniels  – furthermore, she was being considered for a place within the Texas Rangers – the Confederacy's special organization of law enforcement and protection.  Tanya shrugged this off and explained to Raul that her only goal was to reunite with her mother.  Raul reluctantly agreed to help her.

Second watch was handled by Etienne and Ernestine, and she failed to make amends for her earlier offenses towards him. During third watch Laura gave Tobias a copy of the Tempest and some instruction on the works  of Shakespeare.

When morning came, the posse set to follow the trail while the passengers and Tala headed back down the track.  Ms. Merrit pulled her camera from her bag and offered to take a "final" photograph of the posse before they set off, as well as offering to send last words to next of kin.  The posse politely declined.

Raul then set Roscoe, his faithful dog on the trail.  Roscoe detected the strange smell of bananas and basements, and led the posse up the forested mountainside.  Along the way, small splatters of blood were noted in the melting snow.  Etienne found the point in which he saw through the eyes of dying porter, confirming that at least one of the missing bodies would be found this way.

Roscoe led the gang to a small clearing against a cliff face.  The trees here had not yet begun to bud and they retained their skeletal wintery appearance. In the center of the clearing, a rough pile of dead leaves and wet earth had been piled, and emanated hot pungent vapors.  Laura came forward to investigate the mound more closely – then a desiccated human hand clawed out of the mound beneath her. Laura reeled back, and the posse stared in dismay as corpses of the railway men and outlaws pulled themselves from the filth.  Tobias and Ernestine nearly fainted at the sight of the walking dead.  Tanya however steeled herself and blasted away with both pistols and the former Alan Seyberth shuffling towards her.  As the bullets blasted into his midsection, flesh and bone ripped away like burnt paper, revealing 8 translucent eyes surrounding an incectoid maw where the vital organs should have been.

Though Ernestine was overwhelmed with panic, the rest of the posse recovered and took aim and these monstrosities.  The former Alan Seyberth spat a strange ichor at Tanya, but she ignored it.  Raul cast an explosive hex at another two, though he couldn;t control the hex and it burned up his insides to do so.  Laura scrambled back to her bag to pull out a LeMat carbine and finished off the thing that was her lost partner.
 Another spider-thing spat its ichor at Raul, blinding him!  Raul saw through the eyes of his canine familiar to place another shot into the head of the creature- but discovered that human heads were useless to the things that were wearing the bodies like puppets.  Yet another one of began clawing away at Ernestine, who was overcome with fear and surprise. Yet Ettiene and Tanya kept the lead flying towards these grotesque husks, felling them one by one.

Finally the last of these unholy beasts is felled by a blast of grapeshot from Laura Giles.

Tobias set to laying his hands on the injured, while Laura inspected the remains of these creatures.  They looked like juvenile spiders, only nearly the size of a man-they appear to have been imbedded in the bodies and had absorbed the bodily fluids like nutrients. These must have been hatchlings, laid in the bodies by whatever was in that crate. 

Roscoe pointed Raul towards a crack in the cliff face beyond the clearing. Whatever this thing was it was hiding within.

Will the posse stop this nightmarish beast? Will they discover its origins?  Does Laura Giles know more than she lets on?  Will the posse find their way back to civilization?  Is the gang of outlaws planning cruel revenge?  

Find out the answers to these questions and much more in next months thrilling installment of "Terrifying TRUE Tales of the West"!


-JP Malarky




Deadlands Dime Novel #1: Comin' Round the Mountain
Strangers on a Train

Welcome kind readers to a grand new tale of high adventure and gruesome horror in the latest thrilling installment of “Terrifying TRUE Tales of the West”!

These events begin early in the spring aboard the Skyline Steamer; a Denver-Pacific passenger train trekking West over Rockies.  Among the small throng of passengers sat our unlikely heroes.  Raul  Blackthorne, a weary veteran sat in the diner car.  Doctor Etienne Vendredi, a co-traveler of Raul’s for more than a few journeys loomed in the corner of the car, pulled a scarf over his scarred face. 

It wasn’t long before Raul was dragged into a card game and quickly began losing more money than he expected –and fast.  Fortunately, a new player sat down – a young greenhorn full o’ vinegar named Tanya, who faired a slight bit better at the table then old Raul.

While Etiene chuckled from his corner at the misfortune of his friend at the card table, a well dressed woman entered the dining car and immediately began gawping at his disfigurement – a hook in the place of a hand.  Etienne grumbled at her rudeness, but also noted that despite the bourgeouse appearance of the young woman-a Miss Ernestine Smith –stains of grease and ghostrock on her fingers implied that she had some interesting hobbies.  Fortunately for all embarrassed parties, Roscoe, Raul’s faithful black mutt, bounded into the center of the dining car looking for affection or a meal.

Back in the passenger car, Tobias –  a frayed and bleary eyed farmboy – was rudely roused from his sleep by a hellish young child. The farmboy’s fixed the imp a fearsome glare of righteous anger and frightened the little hellion out of his continence. Satisfied, Tobias wandered back to the dining car.

Tala, A taciturn Comanche in native dress had entered as well; looking as rail thin and half dead-with a face etched by years of hard travel and eyes staring at something that wasn’t quite there.

The gathering crowd of eccentric and well-armed travelers drew in the attention of Denise Merritt -  a freelance journalist. She struck up a conversation with Tanya, which turned sour as Ms. Merritt began to doubt the young women’s talent and experience.  Tanya was left with a warning for caution when traveling in the West.

Unbeknownst to any of the other passengers, Raul receives a dark premonition a moment before disaster struck.

A sudden and explosive crash shook the train and turned the cars onto their side.  Tala, following his oath, lept to the aid of Ernestine and Tanya, who had received minor injuries in the wreck.  By laying his hands and muttering a chant, their cuts and sprains were removed.  Then, with a shocking spryness, Tala climbed through the shattered windowpanes of the dining car to take in the damage.

The engine had disappeared into a chasm that was spanned by a tressel, now only smoke and wreckage remained. Then Tala spotted a gang of armed bandits emerging from the woods and advancing on the overturned railcar.

Tala leapt back down and warned the others of the trouble approaching.  Tanya, Tobias, Ettiene, Raul pulled their pistols.  Ernestine to the surprise of the her fellow passangers revealed that instead of a hand she wielded a gatling pistol grafted onto her wrist – which had been cleverly hidden in the folds of her sleeves.

There was a firefight!  Ettiene and Ernestine dispatched a trio of bandits attempting to enter the rear of their car.  Tobias and Tanya took out several more coming through the front.  Raul climbed on top of the overturn car, blasting away at thugs in the woods beyond while bullets whizzed past.  Tala, meanwhile took to scrounging the food spilled from the larder admist the gunplay.

Raul jumped over to the passenger car.  Through the shattered windows he saw 3 more bandits had taken some of the passengers at gunpoint.  With a fierce and withering glare, Raul unnerves the bandits enough for Tanya and Tobias to make easy work of 2 of them, leaving the 3rd fleeing for his life.  Uttering words of biblical wrath, Tobias strikes the fleeing bandit blind.

Back in the dining car, Etienne and Ernestine had the last bandit nearly overcome. The robber chuckled ruefully, dropped something and fled.  Etienne put a final bullet in the villain. Ernestine stepped out to inspect what had been dropped. Etienne, seeing it first and reacting quickly dragged Ernestine back inside the car and underneath a table as the stick of dynamite exploded.

The posse recovered from the blast and began accounting for the other passengers and crew of the train.  Tala climbed over the ravine ledge and found the remains of the engineer and fireman.  Tobias said prayers for the slain bandits.  The passengers were minimally injured, but several crew members were missing – furthermore, so was the baggage car and the caboose. 

Tanya had restrained the last remaining bandit, suffering a gutshot and struck blind.  Tanya and Raul questioned him, only finding out that he belonged to the Clarkson gang and that the missing baggage car and caboose wasn’t part of the plan.  Once they were finished questioning him, Tala addressed the injuries of the bandit.

Etienne asked the cook -  the only remaining crew, if he had anything that belonged to the porter – one of the missing crewmembers. The cook produced a borrowed deck of cards and Etiene cast his eye to see if he could locate the owner. He had a vision of someone or something moving quickly through the forest. Etienne inspected down the rail of the track, which was on a slight grade downhill from the accident and could spy nothing.

One of the passengers, a well-dressed Yankee was particularly upset about the missing baggage car. She introduced herself as Laura Giles and offered a small reward to the posse if they were to find and recover it.  Tobias, without so much regard for her offer began walking down the rail – Ernestine rushed to join him as the sun began to set.

How will the posse survive in the harsh wilderness as darkness begins to fall?  Will they discover the fate of the missing train cars, and find out what happened to the rest of the crew? Find out in the next month’s Terrifying TRUE Tales of the West!

            J.P. Malarky.

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