December 18th, 1879
After escaping the town of Progress, the posse decided to pursue their leads at the city of Shan Fan in the Northern part of the Maze, which also conveniently happened to be out of the sphere of influence of the religion they just pissed off.
William Church’s boat was a marvel of New Science. It was as fast as any other maze runner in its class, but was twice as efficient. It also had a secondary engine, though one that stubbornly refused to power itself. It had a separate power supply from the Ghost Rock boiler that was unlike anything Doc McGee had ever seen before, it looked like it required some sort of crystal or gemstone to be hooked up.
A few days later, the group put in at Lynchburg to restock on food and supplies. While stubbornly negotiating over the price of food in the maze (high, due to the extremely low quantity of arable land and difficulty of importing new food), and refusing to follow up on a bounty poster, there was a murder in the town’s local saloon!
Rushing to investigate, the parties on the spot and forward thinking attitude got them hired to look into the killing by the owner of the saloon, Mariposa Lil, the self-appointed boss of Lynchburg.
Careful investigation, interrogation and the use of magic revealed that the victim’s name was Professor Klauber, he’d been seeking additional investors to fund his desalination machine, and that he was murdered by a nun named Caroline DeCarlo from Shan Fan, who was part of the Church of Lost Angels. She used more of those bloody skeleton men that the group had fought in Lost Angels when fleeing from the Guardian Angels. DeCarlo had left town shortly before the group arrived.
The group pursued her up towards the criminal port, arriving on the 23rd of December. Along the way, they killed and skinned a giant crocodile and spotted some miners in need of assistance; but ignored them as they were in hot pursuit.
Shan Fan was a Chinese city through and through, most of the Chinese immigrant workers who had survived the Quake of ’68 wound up here, and more were arriving from China every day, in wake of the political troubles in Asia (IE, continued fallout from the Taiping Rebellion).
Investigating at Klauber’s boarding house revealed that he had fled the city after his hired bodyguards had been killed during an assassination attempt by him. Most of his records were gone, but the group figured out that he’d been meeting with a man named Rat Skinner Hou, a high ranking Lieutenant in the triad that ran Shan Fang, seeking funding for his project. He’d been meeting him at the Jade Pavalion.
So to the Jade Pavilion the group went! And who should they spy coming down the stairs at the building as they entered? None other than Caroline DeCarlo, who was apparently renting a room there; which explained how she had found out about Klauber. She, in turn, recognized the group and immediately opened fire.
A short ranged gun fight developed, which only ended when Doc McGee gassed DeCarlo unconscious. And then the police, led by Long Hair Tony, arrived… curious to find out about what was going on.