December 16th, 1879
The town of progress was infamous for being a municipality built and run by New Scientists. They also made the best boats in the Maze. It was a logical spot to visit, being only five miles from Lost Angels.
The group made good time up the coast, and ran into a group of military men, being directed by a man in an Imperial German Navy Officer’s Uniform. He introduced himself as Captain William van Schlutz. He was what passed for the law in Progress, until Reverend Grimme marched his troops in yesterday to take the place over, given the town’s defiance of the Proclamation of ‘77. Schlutz asked the party if they would help him rescue the town council and get them to safety. He didn’t have enough men to secure the town, but the least he could do was save his employers.
The party agreed, especially since Jeremiah had a personal reason for visiting progress. Schlutz couldn’t afford to pay them up front, but he would be able to provide some recompense once the town council was rescued. There were two places to hit, the town hall/library and the jail. The jail was the harder target, so Schlutz would take his men to liberate it while the party rescued anybody being held at the town hall.
The groups took separate rowboats into town, Progress was built vertically on a series of plateaus on the mouth of the river. The whole place was a jumbled mish mash of buildings in various styles. The lower sections of the plateaus were mostly docks and shipyards. The group docked at one, and split up. Garret and Jeremiah took a cargo elevator up, while the rest took some nearby stairs.
Everywhere the group looked, there were signs of violence. It looked like Grimme’s men had moved through the town, killing anybody who resisted. Most of the townsfolk who weren’t dead or captured were keeping their heads down, waiting for the violence to pass.
At the top of the plateau, a trio of Guardian Angels came to investigate the noise, but a quick bit of bluffing from Ranger Garret got them looking the other way, whereupon the group dealt some reciprocal violence on them; and looted a ghost rock powered chainsaw.
Moving up towards the city hall, the group tried and failed to do this with some attempt at stealth, and were forced to gun down another patrol of Guardian Angels in a men’s clothing store.
After that bit of excitement, the group reached city hall, just in time to witness a group of guardian angels haul a man and a woman and a bunch of books outside of the building, and start affixing them to stakes. It seems that Grimme’s followers liked the classics when it came to punishments.
The posse sprung into action immediately. Doc McGee immediately disguised himself as a member of the Church, and went forward to distract the group. With him at the center of attention; Garret, Bonnie, Black Rabbit and Jemeriah snuck around, and got into an enfilade position. When things kicked off, they poured lead into the cultists from every direction.
It was a hard fought battle, and the leader of the Guardian Angels demonstrated that he had powers of his own when he called upon heavenly fire from on high against Bonnie Clyde, though once again, the piece of black marble warmed and showed a different vision; blasts of black hellfire scorching her flesh.
The survivors tried to run, but were quickly knocked out by Black Rabbit and gunned down by one of the liberated scientists, who had taken great offense at almost being burned at the stake.
As Doc McGee treated the group’s wounds, the two captives explained who they were. The red headed woman was Doctor Alpha Copperstone, a scientist in ballistics and armor. The middle aged, doughy man in a suit was Laurence Halbert, the mayor of the town and a student of electricity. He asked the group to escort the party out of the town, promising a reward when he could get access to his money. He also was able to tell Jeremiah where William’s lab was located, a small nautical facility on the north edge of the plateau.
Checking the bodies, they found orders on the leader. He was one of several Avenging Angels, tasked with securing the town so that it could start building ships for Grimme’s navy. They were also supposed to take special care to capture William Church’s laboratory, and capture the man himself. A man named Daniel Rottenbelly was running the show for Grimme’s troops here.
On their way to investigate the lab, they ran into the badly wounded Captain Shclutz. He’d attacked the prison with his men, but they’d been slaughtered almost entirely. Daniel Rottenbelly had turn his boys to pieces with just his bare hands.
Helping Schlutz along, the group made their way down to William’s lab. The place was deserted, but they find some ghost rock and the boat he was working on. There was also a note; William had been building the boat for Grimme, but had realized something horrible about the man’s intentions; and had fled to his ‘lab in the north’ to work on a weapon against Grimme.
Leaving Alpha, Laurence and Schlutz behind to get the boat ready, the group went to the prison to confront Daniel, as the rain storm picked up around them.
The rain proved to their advantage, the guards at the prison were staying inside, letting the group slip onto the roof; where some carefully placed explosives allowed the group to lure the guards out of the building, and slip inside.
Barring the door, to keep the guards out, the group confronted Daniel Rottenbelly, one of Grimme’s Lieutenants. He was a tough fighter, but outnumbered at six to one, he went down fairly quickly, though he took an insane amount of punishment, and even lived through a point blank detonation of a stick of dynamite. A bullet from Jeremiah’s rifle right in his brain pan settled the matters, however.
The group took the keys, and Daniel’s documents and released the scientists. One of them revealed the presence of a sewer line under the prison, which was quickly accessed via a carefully placed stick of dynamite.
Talking with the liberated scientists was fruitful, but they were all a little ‘off’. None of them seem quite right in the head, and they were prone to going off on odd tangents or spouting odd words. But at least they wouldn’t be building boats for Grimme.
Back at the docks, the two groups split up. The party went to Williams Boat, where Captain Schlutz, Alpha Copperstone and the mayor were waiting for them, having gotten it prepped to go. The rest of the liberated scientist stole a small freighter out of the shipyard and headed off into the Maze.
With Schlutz piloting, the posse boarded William’s Boat and headed into the maze after them…