December 4th, 1879
After resolving the issue of the Wendigo in Donner Valley, the train reversed course east and stopped at a Denver-Pacific depot, where the retrieved rail workers disembarked. After a few days, the train was back on the trip westwards, through the alternate route that the rail line was building through the mountains.
Along the way, Bonnie had a strange run in on the train. A main, who she instinctively recognized as a fellow huckster and Whatley, introduced himself as her cousin James Whatley. He told her that the patriarch of the Whatley clan on the west coast, Nicodemeous Whatley, was aware that she was coming and that she should introduce herself to him at the family manor in Gomorra at the earliest possible convenience. He didn’t quite by Bonnie’s claims that she was just ‘passing through’.
After that, he vanished from the train, as if by magic.
It was much later that evening, when Conductor Davies entered the car, causing comments along the lines ‘it’s never good when we see you’. He produced a gatling rifle from a hidden compartment and lowered some armored shielding around the windows. Outlaws were attacking the train.
The party prepped their weapons and got ready to defend themselves, but before anything could happen, they heard the screeching of the train’s brakes and a sudden sense of vertigo. With a horrendous crash and the rending of metal, the train fell thirty feet into a pit.
The posse came to amongst the wreckage of the passenger cart to a vision out of hell itself. Outlaws on the ridge were picking off passengers with gunfire and ghost rock was burning with unearthly screams around them as the boiler melted on the wrecked car.
Stumbling out of the wreckage, the group immediately went to work. Garret and Jeremiah lay down gunfire on the sharpshooters, while Bonnie put her shotgun to work on the closest ones. Black Rabbit started hauling passengers into cover and Doc McGee began extinguishing fires to save the ghost rock!
The gun battle was short but bloody, and the party prevailed, managing to save their horses and two passengers only, however.
Studying their surroundings, they found that the train had fallen into a sink hole that had another rail line running through it. Only this one went underground! Scavenging food and supplies from the wreck, including the deceased Davies Gatling rifle, the party headed into the westward tunnel. They had to take the tunnels, as they had no real way of getting the horses out of the wreck.
A quick check on the outlaw leader’s body found a bounty notice. Someone had put a hit out on Denver-Pacific trains heading west, hired outlaws all over the Sierra Madre to wreck them and kill the passengers.
Gathering up their food and trudging into the tunnel, lit by the light from Garret’s lantern, the group advanced into the darkness, in hopes of finding an exit.
December 7th, 1879
Three days later, after being passed by a train, the party arrived at the end of the tunnel, a work site being run by Wasatch Rail Lines. The tunnel was not yet complete, it turned out. The railline was tunneling under the Sierra Madre Mountains in order to byass the treacherous routes that the other rail lines were having such trouble with.
The foreman and head of the security detail, Charley Bill Buckner, met the party and discussed the situation. He was a friendly sort, for a rail warrior. He quickly figured that they weren’t saboteurs and took them to see his boss. None other than Dr Darius Hellstromme, the most infamous mad scientist on the planet.
Dr Hellstromme had apparently designed the digging machine being used to make the tunnel, and it was a device of such complexity that only he could maintain it. Jeremiah interjected to ask if Hellstromme had heard of his son, William Church, another new scientist who had gone missing out west. Hellstromme had not, but he did direct Jeremiah towards the town of Progress near the city of Lost Angels; a place where scientists congregated to study what they could do with ghost rock. He also was interested in Doc McGee’s theories on Ghost Rock, and extended him an offer to come work for Hellstromme Industries.
Also present at the meeting was Lacy O’Malley, a reporter for the Tombstone Epitaph, a newspaper notorious for reporting on the weirder events in the west. Frequently disdained by those to the east as being ‘pure fiction’, it had a much wider circulation in the west among people who felt it was accurately reporting the darker events of the world. He was accompanying Hellstromme for an exclusive on Wasatch Rail Lines winning the Rail Wars. He seemed fascinated by the posse, and tried to get them to open up about their stories.
The discussion concluded; Hellstromme extended an invitation to the party to accompany him as they finished the tunnel; they were almost through the mountain. He predicted no more than a week until the crew surfaced in eastern California.
With nothing better to do, they agreed and left to find a place to rest, and then go check out the drill; which Doc McGee was interested in. Most of the guards were heading east in the tunnel to sort out some problem that had come up with the automaton guard. Lacy noted that throughout the journey underground, they had met all sorts of weird and hostile creatures.
An example of such was soon discovered to be attacking the drill. Some sort of enormous insects had tunneled through the mountains and were trying to break into the cockpit of the massive three drilled digging machine.
A whiff of sleeping gas and a handful of gun shots later, and the beasts were dispatched without problem. The crew of rail warriors showed up a few minutes later, and burned the bodies.
Meanwhile, the pilot of the awesome machine, Dr “Hap” Haggerty, was more than willing to expound upon the potential of the digging device. It was called the Hellbore, apparently because if you turned it downwards, it would tunnel straight to hell itself. Of course, right now, they were using it to go to California; though many people would probably find the climate in hell to be superior.
December 13th, 1879
After a week underground, the digging crews finally hit the surface. They’d come up right next to the Wasatch camp near Lost Angels, with impeccable accuracy. Hellstromme claimed it was due to good math and careful calculations, and invited the party to accompany him to the railhead where the final push to Lost Angels would be made. Unfortunately, Wasatch was going to have to fight their way in through Reverend Grimme’s Guardian Angels, as Grimme had long been decrying the sins of the rail barons. And no doubt the other Rail Barons would want to try to stop him from winning the transcontinental prize as well.
These words would prove to be a prophecy. About halfway to the railahead, Rail Warriors from the Iron Dragon Railroad ambushed Hellstromme’s train, the Good Intentions, and attempted to destroy it with attacks from maze rats and martial arts on two wagons and a gyrocopter.
A vicious gun battle erupted, and the party managed to dispatch most of the land bound pirates. The gyrocopter was still causing trouble, until Black Rabbit took up his bow, closed his eyes, and fired a shot guided by his spirit. There didn’t appear to be any effect, and then the gyrocopter went spiraling out of the sky, its ghost rock engine destroyed by a single arrow in the right spot.
After that little dust up, Charley Bill paid the group a bonus for helping out, and Dr Hellstromme gave McGee a schematic from his personal collection. And then, there was little time for conversation, because they arrived.
The group split off from Dr Hellstromme at his advice, as he had no desire to see them caught up in the violence to come. The forces of Dixie Rails and Bayou Vermillion had gathered to the south and Union Blue and Black River to the north. And Reverend Grimme was whipping his followers into a frenzy outside of Lost Angels. It seems the last miles of track would be hard won. Dr Hellstromme stood up on his train car to give an impassioned speech, requesting that the others foreswear the violence and allow history’s progress to happen peacefully.
Lacy O’Malley would later describe it as the shot heard around the world. A sharpshooter in the Dixie Rail lines took a shot at Hellstormme, and the scientist collapsed backwards into the Good Intentions. Instantly, the lines of battle erupted in this final, bloody chapter of the rail wars as six armies and four factions immediately began shooting at each other, determined to leave the field clear of their enemies.
Lacy met the posse as they left, and asked if they could help him find a friend of his who had gone missing in the City of Lost Angels. With Reverend Grimme’s army out on the field, this would be the best time to sneak into the city unnoticed.