Jesse approached the Captain on the journey back from Lullabelle, and asked for a quiet word. He was worried that things weren’t right at Newhouse, and that he felt that they, as a crew were partly responsible as they had transported Pearson to Frisco. He told a story of him and his older brother climbing, and how Jesse had dislodged some rocks injuring his brother.
“My Brother once told me always be careful how you tread, because you need to leave the path behind you clear, because someday it may be you that’s following.”
Johan looked thoughtful, before answering carefully. “I sympathise with what you’re saying Jesse, and I’m not saying that we don’t get involved, just we need to find the lay of the land before we act. Best that we know what’s going on before we do anything to change it…”
“If you say so Captain!” Jesse still looked uncomfortable.
“Look Jesse, I appreciate that you felt that you could come and talk to me about this, and I don’t disagree with you, we just need to be careful…”
Jesse seemed to brighten at this.
As the Persephone arrived back at Newhouse the crew were surprised to find that the gunships blockading the moon had gone. In their place was a recording, repeating the message; “Frisco is under quarantine, please contact this station for more information…” followed by frequency details.
Johan cursed. “I don’t think so…” He guided the ship towards the surface around thirty klicks from the town and then flying nap-of-the-earth to within a couple of kilometres from the town. They approached from the North, and climbed the Frisco Summit and spent time observing the town. There was little sign of the inhabitants, only a few lights on in some buildings.
The group looped round the Summit, and entered the town from the East, and inspected the school house, it appeared to have not been used for twenty four to forty eight hours. The pushed on further into the town, stealthily heading towards the Judge Dean’s house. They arrived without incident and then Gracie sneaked up to a window and carefully peered in to get an idea of who was inside.
The Judge was in his kitchen, enjoying a quiet drink, so Johan crept to the door, and knocked gently. After a few seconds the nervous looking Judge answered, and ushered him in. Johan checked the house before speaking, and once the Judge had agreed, he beckoned the rest of the crew in.
It seemed that Sherriff Pearson had been using any excuse to kill people, and the whole town was living in fear. He was writing new ordinances and then shooting people as criminals when they broke them.
Gracie asked why they hadn’t fired Pearson, and the Judge explained that they’d tried, but he’d just said “Job ain’t finished yet…”
She pointed out that if he’d been sacked, then he was a criminal, and if the Judge had a warrant to this effect then the crew would be willing to execute it. Everyone agreed.
The crew headed to the Saloon, and scaring the few people that were there half to death. Johan asked the few people who were there to leave, as they were planning to set up an ambush in the Saloon for ex-Sherriff Pearson. The people there explained that Pearson, Miss Bridgit and a group of the local Tong had headed up to the mine a few hours previously. The crew made some Molotov cocktails, borrowed the barman’s truck, and headed up to the mine. As the crew left the saloon, the townspeople had begun to drift onto the street, and began to applaud them.
Jesse and Minnie split off to find vantage points to snipe from, and Grace and Johan made for the mine head buildings, which was where the tracks led.
They forced their way into the only building with a light on, and found a terrified worker in the control room. The man explained that he was doing his best to keep his head down and get on with his job, but he had noticed that the lifts doing down into the mine had been used twice, once down to level one, once to level two.
Johan sighed, and turned to Gracie, “We’re going to have to go down there, aren’t we?”
She sighed and nodded.
Johan stepped outside and waved for Minnie and Jesse to come in, and as they did so the man gave Johan a copy of the mine plan, and also explained some of the quirks of the lift and other mine equipment. Johan thanked him for his time and shook his hand, and asked if there were any working comms in the mine. The man nodded, and handed a set of ear-buds to each of the crew and Johan asked that he’d give them a warning if any more people turned up, or anyone left the mine.
The crew headed underground, Jesse leading the way. They decided to search the first level of the mine, and were thankful of the helmet mounted torches that the man in the control room had insisted they wear as the emergency lighting was off and the mine dark.
There were strange noises echoing through the dark, and Minnie, who had spent some time underground before spoke up. “This mine aint sitting right. It shouldn’t be making these noises…”
“Best be about it then.” Johan grunted, and they continued on their way.
Quite quickly came the echoing report of a gunshot, and although Jesses had been alert, and had started to evade, he didn’t quite get clear, and was clipped in the arm. The rest of the crew ducked into cover, and followed Johan’s example by clicking their head torches off.
Gracie climbed onto the mesh above the supports and began to edge stealthily forwards, as Minnie and Jesse returned fire. Minnie aimed at the muzzle flash of the other shooter, clipping him with accurate fire. Johan attempted to move forwards, attempting to draw the shooters attention, distracting him from his crew mates.
As they advanced, exchanging fire, Gracie launched her attack from the shadows, swinging from the supports and aiming to boot the shooter, who she could identify as the ex-Sherriff, in the face. Pearson ducked back and fired at Gracie, clipping her.
He swung a light onto Gracie, and spoke in shock; “Evelyn? My Evelyn?”
The light now identifying the target, Johan and Jesse worked their way forwards as Minnie continued to put fire down onto Pearson.
Gracie answered Pearson’s question. “No. She left you, you lunatic!”
He gasped in shock, and stepped towards Gracie, his eyes dead, and Minnie’s shot hit home, shattering his shoulder. Gracie continued a tirade of abuse, and slashed at Pearson’s ankles with her machete, and the ex-Sherriff staggered and fell to the floor, sprawling towards Johan and Jesse.
Jessie reached over to Johan to stop him. “She needs to do this herself…”
But Pearson rolled and rapid fired three rounds from a hidden pistol at Gracie, so Johan shrugged him off and opened fire. Jessie followed his lead and he shot Pearson too, and the mans body was shattered. With his last strength, he reached up with a hand; “Evel… Evelyn!”
Gracie stepped forwards and hacked his hand off and Pearson died as the echoes of the gunfire faded away.
Ahead of them the crew could see a figure working in about a foot of water, intent on what was ahead of her. It was Bridgit.
She attempted to persuade the crew that Pearson had forced her down the mine, but no-one believed her. She then started to speak of the treasure of the “Lucius Newberry”, but Johan interrupted telling her he probably knew that story better than she did.
“It’s here, I tell you!” Brigit protested. “Fifty-fifty split? Look!” She flipped a disc to him. It was engraved with an image and a series of numbers.
Minnie swore, and Johan nodded. “What she said!”
Brigit turned her charms on Jesses, who began to weaken, until Grace stepped forward and knocked Brigit out with a single punch.
“Men! Always wanting to talk!” she huffed.
Sheepishly Johan protested. “I can’t hit her, she’s as woman!”
Suddenly from up the corridor came the sound of a tunnel collapse. With this added incentive, Johan stepped forward to inspect the panel that appeared out of the rock in front of him; it appeared to contain a lock, and he heard the sound of the first part of the lock disengaging. After a period of trial and error, they realised that they needed to move a certain number of mine frames in the directions given on the disc. The lock disengaged, and the door opened into a chamber that had all the appearance of the interior of a ship. All the time the ship was filling with flood water that had been seeping in from the mine.
Inside there were three sarcophagi, covered with warning text and containing lead boxes that were emblazoned with skulls. Distinctly uneasy they decided to leave these and get clear, which seemed to be the best choice, given that the mine continued to collapse. Johan put a call up to the mine head, and was given an alternate way out. Jesse was the last out of the chamber, and was nearly trapped by the closing hatch but Johan pulled him clear, and the two men ran for the alternate exit, but Johan was caught by a collapsing frame, and the others returned to free him. They reached the old mine shaft, and were forced to freedom by the rapidly rising flood waters, which pushed them clear under pressure.
They were received is heroes by the towns folk, but they were taken to one side by the Judge who they warned about the discovery of the lead boxes. He blanched, and told them they’d been right to leave the boxes. They were boxes of coins that had been infected with a lethal bio-weapon. He promised that the top level of the mine would remain closed.
Further loose ends were tied up when it was discovered that Bridgit had been behind the blockade and quarantine warning, as she had links with a rival cartel, and had been arranged so she could have time to uncover the coin stash. She was arrested, and identified as Elizabeth, the woman who had been involved with Colonel Beauford Maddock, who had commandeered the Lucius Newberry at the end of the war. She was locked up in town jail, however this imprisonment only lasted three days; she escaped with one of her guards.
The crew enjoyed the hero status they’d earned, but after a week in Newhouse the attention grated a little, so they boarded the Persephone, and headed into the black once again.