Death by Gold
BACKGROUND: A mean old bastard of a miner has discovered that the mother lode he's been secretly mining for the last year or so is radioactive...worthless. What's more, his body is now riddled with cancer and displaying all the most horrific effects of radiation sickness. Without hope of affording the kind of medical help that might save his life he's decided to take as many folks out with him as he can, in as sadistic a manner as possible. What better way than a deadly competition to win a gold mine only he knows is worthless?
The PC's have recently discovered that their uncle, on whose ranch they been living off and on since the Unification War, has died in the night. Initial suspicions concerning foul play have proven groundless and the PC's have turned their attentions to their inheritance...equal shares in a Hornet class fast courier.
The only problem is that someone else owns a controlling share in the vessal, a man named Gabriel Watterson. Tracking him down isn't at all difficult, as it turns out. A simple cortex search reveals that he's been an indentured man to the ruthless land baron Patience for the last two years. Where the ship is now is unknown, but considering Red Rock (Patience Payne's hometown) is just up the road a ways...
The episode starts with the PC's having just arrived in town and settled in at the local saloon to get the lay of the land.
Lily tries to find out what she can concerning Patience and Watterson. Marlin quietly nurses a drink in the corner and Betty tries to stay out of trouble. Lily finds out that Watterson more or less runs the Whitehall scrapyard for Patience outside of town and has quite a long time to go before he can hope to pay off his debt. No one knows anything about a Hornet he might own.
After about an hour of hob-nobbing, in staggers the Mean Old Bastard miner. None of the PC's recognize him, though it's immediately clear that most of the saloon patrons do considering how tense the atmosphere suddenly becomes.
MOBM hops up on the bar, gives his speech and offers the gold mine to whomever can get to it first. He starts pulling his gold disks from his satchel and spinning them into the crowd.
MOBM surprise round: Throws and hits both Young'un 2 and Farmer's drinkin' buddy.
Marlin uses his Fightin' type action to toss over their table and take over 50% cover. He draws his pistol.
Betty draws her pistol, having left her shotgun in the mule, and takes over 50% cover behind the table.
The young'uns dive under their table and cower. Young'un 2 yanks out his disk and howls a bit.
Dance hall girl is frozen for this and next turn (due to combat paralysis).
The Darby gang all step back out of close range, but otherwise laugh it up and cheer the crazy old man on.
MOBM throws a disk at Darby gangster 3 and hits. Throws at drinkin' buddy again, hitting hard.
Lone gunman steps back out of close range and draws his pistol, but spends the turn eyeing the bloody gold disk young'un 2 is holding.
Daring couple toss up their table and take near complete cover.
Farmer yanks the gold disks out of his badly wounded drinkin' buddy and they both turn over their table to take near complete cover.
Lily draws her pistol and takes over 50% cover behind the table.
Bartender drops prone behind the bar, taking near complete cover, and snatches up his double-barrel shotgun concealed there.
Marlin and Betty hold their fire, declaring three dodges (one free for Marlin) for the turn, hoping for some gold to come their way.
The young'uns hussle out the door of the saloon with their disk.
Dance hall girl is still paralyzed.
The Darby gang toss up a nearby table and take over 50% cover. They each take a shot at the MOBM, four hitting. MOBM is nearly unconscious from stun.
MOBM drops down behind bar to take 50% cover. He draws his SMG and throws disks at Betty, missing, and dance girl, hitting with a graze.
Lone gunman turns over his table and takes over 50% cover. He fires twice at MOBM. Both miss.
Daring couple 1 snatches up the disk that missed Betty and the two of them hussle out the door of the bar.
Farmer and drinkin' buddy draw their pistols and each fire once at MOBM. Farmer botches and grazes dance hall girl. Drinkin' buddy misses.
Lily hold her fire, declaring two dodges for next turn.
Bartender fires one shot from a prone position once at MOBM. He botches (turns out his shotgun isn't loaded).
Marlin and Betty hold their fire, declaring three dodges (one free for Marlin) for the turn.
The young'uns (outside) examine their gold disk.
Dance hall girl snaps out of her combat paralysis and hussles out the door, leaving her disk on the floor behind her.
The Darby gang each fire two shots at MOBM, declaring one dodge for the turn. The shoot badly and only land two hits, both light hits. MOBM falls uncon by 4 points.
MOBM takes his second wind for the day, but it's only enough to get him one stun point on the positive side. He sits up, taking over 50% cover from the bar. He fires a burst at bartender at close range, hitting twice and knocking him out.
Lone gunman hussles to the door of the saloon, snatching up the disk that missed dance hall girl.
Daring couple (outside) examine their gold disk.
Farmer and drinkin' buddy hussle out the door with their two disks.
Lily holds her fire, declaring two dodges for next turn.
Bartender is uncon.
Marlin and Betty hussle forward to take near complete cover on their side of the bar (Marlin uses free action), on opposites sides of the MOBM's position. They both pop up to shoot. Marlin tries for a head shot at close range, MOBM declares a dodge. He misses. Betty fires twice at close range, MOBM declares a dodge but botches. He's hit twice and is out.
Lily dashes around the bar to try and rouse the bartender. Marlin and Betty vault over the bar and examine MOBM, finding him still alive and take note of his mesh armor. Marlin snatches the MOBM's SMG and Betty grabs his satchel. The Darby gang steps forward raising hell and laughing it up.
[lily makes an average Int/Medical expertise to rouse the bartender]
Betty finds one last gold disk in the MOBM's satchel. The PC's take a moment to examine it, noting the map. The Darby gang, pistols still drawn, offer the opinion that maybe they oughta have it seeing as how their boy got hit. Betty offers that maybe they should be happy with the one they've got or, perhaps, nee yow wuo kai chiung?
Things get tense in a hurry, then two shots ring out from outside the saloon (lone gunman shoots and kills drinkin' buddy and demands farmer turn over his two disks). The PC's see this bit of action from their position behind the bar. The Darby gang loses interest in the PC's and watch to see what happens, chuckling. Lily moves outside the try and reason with lone gunman.
Farmer tosses his disks at lone gunman's feet and puts his hands up. Lily tries to talk lone gunman down, but fails. He dashes off for his horse across the street. None of the PC's notice the three young'uns and dance hall girl making off down the street with a mid-sized cargo hauler, it's apparent owner chasing after them on foot. Nor the daring couple riding off on their horses.
The PC's stand together outside the saloon and decide to make themselves scarce before the law shows up. The Darby gang, finally realizing the disk they have is a map like the MOBM said, shoulder past them and make for their horses and wheeled mule. Seeing them hussle away, the PC look around for the other saloon patrons and find them all gone. Even vengeful farmer is climbing quickly into his wagon across the street. Realizing that most or all of the saloon patrons are probably heading for the gold mine already, they dash for Marlin's hover mule and take off after them.
Ahead of the PC's the three young'uns and dance hall girl have struck the MOBM's makeshift landmine on the trail to checkpoint one. They're cargo hauler is totalled, but they are uninjured. Lone gunman rides up on horseback and the young'uns grab their rifles, taking cover behind the wreckage with dance hall girl. They try to shoot him off his horse but he manages to evade and escape through the woods without being hit.
Daring duo hear the fight up ahead and approach with pistols drawn, attempting to pass by in the woods out of sight. The young'uns spot them and shots are exchanged. Young'un one is badly wounded. The daring duo escape unharmed and continue on.
Vengeful farmer doesn't fare as well with his horse-drawn wagon. He is hit twice and killed. The very nervous dance hall girl manages to take his wagon right out from under the young'uns and hits the trail a full minute ahead of the Darby gang, who bypass the wreckage unhindered. Young'uns all fire after her but, remarkably, they all miss. She round the bend in the trail and is gone.
The PC's bring up the rear and come up on the wreckage and see the dead farmer. Marlin is driving and easily avoids the hazard caused by the wreck. Young'uns turn and fire on the PC's, hitting Marlin. The PC's, in turn, run them down in the mule.
Lone gunman arrives at checkpoint one and plows right into MOBM's spikes. His horse goes down and is lame. Daring duo arrive in time to see the bloodied horse and avoid the trap. They dismount at the signpost with pistols at the ready, covering lone gunman. The three face off until the dance hall girl arrives, when they turn and open fire on the poor girl. Everyone is hit at least once but no one is down. Dance hall girl throws down her unfired derringer and surrenders but lone gunman shoots her down anyway.
Lone gunman and daring duo again square off, but the Darby gang arrives only moments later. The horseriders avoid the spikes, but the mule driver rolls right into them and his tires blow. Lone gunman and daring duo again team up out of necessity to face the Darby gang, who are already taking cover and demanding surrender.
The PC's arrive in the middle of gunfight between the two groups, but hear the gunfire far enough back to avoid driving right into it. They approach cautiously to spy it out and see daring duo (having already seen the map on the signpost) take to their horses and make off. Daring duo one is hit by a Darby and falls from his horse, dying. Daring duo two stops and spends her turn checking on her dead mate.
Lone gunman is pinned down daring duo two, now outraged, shoots her dead partner's horse and takes cover behind it. Her fire at the Darby gang distracts them enough that he is able to get a glimpse of the map and hoof it over to her. Marlin uses the remaining ammo from the MOBM's SMG for autofire and they manage to hit three of the Darby boys, one of them twice and killing him. Return fire badly wounds daring duo two, however.
The PC's decide to even the odds all around and break out the rifles. They take the Darby's by surprise from behind and without cover, killing two outright and slightly wounding another. Lone gunman breaks away and steals daring duo two's horse, fleeing. Daring duo stands and stalks up to the Darby's blazing away. A single shot from one of the Darby's drops her.
The three remaining Darby's scramble over the scrapheap and take cover from the PC's. With the Darby's behind good cover, several shots are exchanged to no effect. Betty and Lily are both hit, however, and badly stunned. The PC's briefly consider negotiating with (and double crossing) the remaining Darby's, but decide against it. They scramble into the hover mule and flee under fire to the cover of the long scrapheap to the west. They escape down the trail, pursuing long gunman (they never got a chance to examine the signpost.)
Up ahead, lone gunman gets lucky and misses the landmine on the trail. Shortly thereafter the PC's glide right over it in their mule without triggering it. Along the way Marlin attempts a stunt to shorten the distance between them and lone gunman, but fails. A minute later the three Darby boys become two when one of their horses gets itself turned inside out by the mine.
Lone gunman arrives at checkpoint two. He notices the pilings "trap" and avoids it, but loses his horse to the homemade landmine (the real trap). As the PC's come into view he staggers over and examines the signpost. Before the PC's can reach him, he makes off on foot for checkpoint three. The PC's notice the pilings "trap" and avoid it as well and reach the signpost. Marlin and Betty both attempt an aimed shot at the fleeing lone gunman while Lily deciphers the map. Marlin misses but Betty hits. Lone gunman is still on his feet, though barely. As soon as Lily gets her bearings, they hop on the mule and take off after him.
The Darby's, after a short delay, arrive. They examine the signpost and make off for checkpoint three, a good ways behind the PC's.
The PC's lose track of lone gunman but decide to barrel on ahead to checkpoint three. They pass another horsemine without triggering it and arrive at checkpoint three unopposed. Lily attempts to decipher the map while Marlin and Betty cover their rear. She fails her first attempt and is unable to make head or tails of it. She tries again but this gives the Darby's time to show up. The PC's take cover behind the hover mule. The Darby's drop and take cover behind the laying pilings. Several rounds of shots are fired but the PC's can't land a hit on the Darby's. Betty and Lily are both hit and ko'd.
Marlin notices the Darby's are directly under the fake pilings trap and tries for a shot at the rope holding it up. He makes an extraordinary success (with a heaping helping of plot points). Bad guy pizza.
Betty and Lily take their Second Wind for the day. Betty is able to come around but Lily is still out. Betty and Marlin load her into the mule. Betty spends a plot point to suss out the map on the signpost and figures out the location of the mine. They glide off for the mine.
The PC's arrive without any difficulty on the road. Betty and Marlin dismount a ways from the mine entrance and go forward on foot, keeping close to the cliff to avoid line of fire from the mine. Marlin hears the sound of a rifle being cocked and the two of them rush forward. Shots ring out from the mine and Betty is hit twice. She goes down hard. Lone gunman got there before them, it seems.
Marlin attempts to drag Betty to safety but is struck as well. He goes prone and returns fire blindly, hitting nothing. Several more shots ring out from the mine but Marlin and Betty aren't making such good targets at the moment. Marlin drags himself and Betty to the small boulder for cover and scrunches down as best he can.
A posse of townsfolk, led by the local sheriff, arrives on horseback. Lone gunman opens fire on them, hitting one of them. They drop and take cover and a long gunfights insues. Marlin decides to take the opportunity to drag Betty back to the mule where it's safe. He waits for the resolution of the fight.
After a short time no more shots come from the mine and loud rumbling is heard from within. After a moment's hesitation, the sheriff sprints forward to the edge of the mine entrance. He peers in, enters and returns after nearly a minute. The mine, he says, has collapsed and there's no sign of lone gunman.
Marlin is taken into custody. Betty and Lily are transported back to town for medical treatment.
The PC's go on trial for several counts of manslaughter once the girls are on their feet. They forgoe legal council and Lily manages to get them off with a heavy fine stern warning by the judge. With so much lead exchanged and the entire trail from town the MOBM's irradiated gold littered with corpses, the township isn't all that interested in sussin' it all out. They'd rather the PC's just go away and save them the expense of an investigation.
The MOBM survived his bloody tirade at the local saloon, however. Unfortunately, he apparently hung himself in his jail cell while awaiting trail for battery and conspiracy to homicide.
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