secret_history: (Beyond the Pale)
[personal profile] secret_history
Hola, faithful readers!

I am posting tomorrow's installment early. Aren't you thrilled? It's a nice change of pace from my constant apologizing for being late. :D

*****


It took a while longer and the threat of the train’s imminent departure to convince Monroe that it wasn’t worth going after the Widow O’Brien. It was one of Monroe’s more endearing qualities, that he was unwilling to leave behind a lady in distress, or at least a lady that he perceived to be in distress, but right now it made Victoria want to throttle him. Eventually, however, she and Stone between them managed to convince him to leave well enough alone.

She collapsed back in her seat just moments after the whistle blew, with an exhausted sigh. This whole trip had been one nerve-wracking experience after another, and it seemed like an eternity since she’d last had a full night’s sleep. When they got to Salt Lake City, she vowed to herself, she was going to use some of the money they had left over from the sale of the horses to get herself a hotel room with a bath, and sleep for a whole day at the very least. Monroe was looking tired and drawn too, with deep circles under his eyes. If last night was any indication, he’d been sleeping just as poorly as she, which was unusual: as far as she knew, Monroe was like all old soldiers, capable of falling asleep just about anywhere.

“You look terrible,” she told him. “You ought to get some more sleep.”

“Very funny,” he made a face at her. “You’re enjoying turning the tables on me, aren’t you?”

She grinned unrepentantly. “Turnabout is fair play. I spent nearly eight years having people tell me how terrible I looked. I figure it’s about time I got to return the favour.”

He shook his head, but returned her grin. “Just because you’re all pretty now, you think you can get away with anything.”

She flushed at the unexpected compliment, and looked down, unsure how to respond. “Well,” was all she managed. She turned to look out the window, feeling her cheeks still burning.

“You got a minute?” he asked after a moment, nodding in the direction of the baggage cars.

“Uh, sure. Excuse us a minute,” she said to the other two, and followed Monroe’s lead. “What’s going on?” she asked, once they were in the baggage car, the train lurching along as it began the last stretch of the route to Salt Lake City.

Monroe looked uncomfortable. “Look, I’m not sure I did the right thing, here. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did the exact opposite of the right thing.”

She rolled her eyes. “We’ve been through this. The woman’s a two-timing snake, and that’s all there is to it.”

“No, that’s not it,” he shook his head. “I mean... While you and Stone were busy, I searched the caboose on my own, before.” He reddened, obviously embarrassed. “I found some things, and I didn’t tell you about them, because I couldn’t get you alone. Stone was always hanging around, and, to tell you the truth, I don’t trust him farther than I can throw him.”

“I know what you mean. I’m surprised you managed to lie, though. You’re rotten at it, usually.” She grinned, and saw that he was relieved that she wasn’t upset that he’d kept secrets from her. At least, she wasn’t upset yet. She’d wait to hear what it was first, she told herself. “What did you find?”

“A couple of things. The first was this,” he pulled a small wrinkled paper out of his pocket and handed it to her. It was a scrap of good quality letterhead paper, printed black on off-white in evenly-spaced capital letters.

Professor Thaddeus Allman, Deseret College of Engineering

“That’s the guy Courvoisier told us to look out for,” she said, frowning. “What would Abelard be doing with that?”

“I don’t know. I just thought it was a hell of an odd coincidence, don’t you think?”

She nodded. “Okay, so what else was there?”

This time he looked really embarrassed. “I don’t know what to do with this one. I don’t even know to whom it really belongs. There’s nothing to indicate ownership.” He reached over behind their small pile of belongings and pulled out a leather satchel, which he opened, presenting her with the contents.

Vicky whistled quietly. The bag was filled with gold eagles, which glinted in the small beams of sunlight that were filtering through the gaps in the plans of the wagon. “There must be nearly a thousand dollars in there,” she said, keeping her voice low.

“I wasn’t sure if I should turn it in. I decided not to, just because it would have meant more delays, and we have to be in Salt Lake City before the thirteenth, or else that Sheriff is probably going to die. I don’t know.” Monroe all but wrung his hands.

She grinned at his discomfiture. “We’ll make a dishonest man of you yet, Monroe. You mean you kept the spoils of a fair fight and didn’t feel compelled to turn them over to local law enforcement?”

“Oh, God. I knew I should’ve turned it in!”

“Don’t be stupid. You were right. We couldn’t afford the delay, and there’s no way of telling who it really belongs to. All you would have done was give the Marshall of Cedar City a whole bunch of money. Has it occurred to you that neither you nor I has had any kind of steady work since December? Not to mention that we got all our money confiscated back in Carver’s Landing. So apart from what little money we got from selling those horses, we’re flat broke. Did you have any thoughts about how to fix that?”

He shook his head, looking a bit sheepish. “I figured it would sort itself out.”

She beamed at him, as though he’d just won a prize. “And now it has!”

“I still don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to like it. Just live with it as best you can, and we’ll make up for it later, if you want. I’m sure there’s plenty of people deserving of help, and how can we help them if we’re starving?”

“I really wish I could point out what’s wrong with what you’re saying. It sounds reasonable, but I know it’s not.”

She put her arm around his shoulders in a gesture of mock-camaraderie. “Don’t argue with me, Monroe, you know it’s useless.”

“There’s something else.”

She dropped her arm. “You’re kidding me. After that, there’s more? Have you been drinking?”

“No.” He scowled at her. “Stop talking, and maybe I’ll show you. It’s for you, after all.”

“For me?” Vicky was perplexed, but pleased nonetheless. “What is it?”

He pointed behind her, and when she looked she caught sight of Rufus Abelard’s Bullard Express rifle propped up in the corner, looking as though it had been recently cleaned and oiled. Her eyes lit up, and Monroe chuckled.

“I figured you could use a better rifle than that old single-shot Remington you were so fond of. Abelard isn’t going to be needing it anymore, and it seemed a shame to leave it to that Marshall in Cedar City. He would have just locked it up somewhere, by the looks of it. So I –hey!”

Vicky had jumped up and hugged him. “You’re wonderful, did you know that?”

He looked abashed. “Well, shucks. It’s nothing, really.”

She grinned. “Come on. Unless you’ve got other surprises up your sleeve, I think we should go back before the others get suspicious. We’ll figure all this out once we’re in Salt Lake City.”

Stone gave them an odd look when they returned, but she paid him very little mind. She sat gazing out the window, feeling torn between doubt and relief about the money Monroe had secured, in spite of her confident assertions to the contrary. At least, she told, herself, it meant that they weren’t going to want for anything for a very long time. She’d never seen that much money in her entire life, and the prospect frightened her a little. Eventually as morning drew into the afternoon, and the afternoon drew into evening, she stopped worrying. These things had a way of working out, she told herself, none too confidently. Resolving not to give it any more thought, she curled up in her seat and slept.

The wind whirled around her, bending the tall grass almost flat with its force. She stood atop a grassy knoll, and below her the prairie spread as far as the eye could see. The clouds swirling above her head were black and menacing, and the plain was plunged into darkness save for the occasional fork of lightning that split the sky and filled the air with the tang of ozone.

She stood with her face turned toward the sky, the sweet scent of the grass mingled with lightning all around her. Her heart hammered painfully against her ribs, fear rising like an ocean tide in her. In the distance she thought she caught sight of Monroe, also standing in the path of the oncoming stampede.

“Monroe!”

Her words were whipped away on the wind. There was no way to call to him. As she tried again to be heard over the howling gale, the air was filled with the rolling thunder of thousands upon thousands of galloping hooves. The ground trembled and shook, and suddenly swelled beneath her feet like a tidal wave, and the terrifying whisper of voices all but drowned out the wind.

“The hour of the Four draws nigh! We pave the way for the Four, salting the earth so that they might walk abroad. We are the harbingers of the great Ending to come. Look upon us, and despair! Somos Los Diablos!”


She was awoken by the train jerking to a halt in the station, the cattle in the next wagon over bellowing in rage at the sudden stop. Blanton was looking at her, his face screwed up with worry, but in the end all he said was:

“We’re here.”

*****

Date: 2009-01-13 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elanya.livejournal.com
Both "Yay Monroe!" And "D: Monroe!"

Stupid horsemen of the apocalypse always gotta be messin' around, don't they :V

Date: 2009-01-13 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] secret-history.livejournal.com
They're annoying that way, aren't they?

This was a really fun game session, actually. We had a blast. This was when the Deadlands game started getting into full swing, if you'll credit it. Everything up to and including the Great Maze was a few sporadic sessions throughout 1999-2000. After that we started playing every single Saturday, for marathon sessions that often lasted twelve hours.

The part titled Devils in the Gloom in my write-ups is actually our fourth session of the official game.

We had thirty-seven games in all after that, plus four "bonus" stories at the end. So let's just say there is plenty of story ahead of us. Some of those games involved different characters, so I'm likely going to have to do some major tweaking by the time I get there (or else figure out how to make it all work anyway). However, that's going to be much further down the line.

The adventures of Vicky and her posse are really just beginning.

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