The Weird West

Hellstromme's Hellhole

The lion's den turns out to be more of a pit trap

Lodge takes the heroes and Allan Pinkerton to a secure rail car for an interrogation. Pinkerton takes full responsibility for his agency’s actions and then demands a full pardon in exchange for his cooperation. Not satisfied with a presidential pardon, he also demands a pardon from Lodge’s boss.

Once this is granted, Pinkerton explains that he fell into the Wizard’s orbit slowly, providing security or procuring rare items, until the Pinkertons were the Wizard’s number one go-fers. Jack asks whether it’s unusual for Pinkertons clients to have names like “the Wizard” and “the Dark Woman.” Pinkerton says it’s quite common, a trend he blames on the penny dreadfuls, but in most cases he can see right through the disguise.

In the case of the Wizard, Pinkerton lacks absolute proof but feels all signs point to Darius Hellstromme. The inventor’s devices have played a key role in the Wizard’s plans and Hellstromme’s mansion has served as the closest thing the Dark Woman has to a home. Pinkerton scoffs at Maria’s suggestion that the Dark Woman might be the Wizard, but admits he knows little about her. He does supply the party with a name, “Mina.”

Lodge agrees that the heroes should investigate Hellstromme’s compound outside of town. Whatever his role, the man was central to the Wizard’s plans. Moreover, Lodge expects the Mormons to move quickly to protect Hellstromme, as his devices are what has guaranteed Deseret’s autonomy. With all most all of his forces thrown at the Junkyard, the mansion is likely to be lightly guarded.

Pinkerton warns that there are other dangers. The facility, built on the edge of the salt flats, is surrounded by an electric fence whose true purpose is to give off a hum that wards away Rattlers. The area around the mansion is also littered with mines that periodically move about, making mapping a safe route impossible. Hellstromme’s automatons emit a signal that the mines recognize as friendly, but due to the self destruct button, no one else has been able to copy it.

After considering several unorthodox approaches, the heroes decide to access the mansion by air. Vincent hooks a line between the autogyro and the hot air balloon, while the rest of the party climbs into the latter. With Jolene as his co-pilot, Vincent takes off and tugs the balloon towards the mansion. As they approach, the party notes with concern that several of the outlying building in the compound are on fire. As they pass over the electrified gate, the heroes drop a stick of dynamite down to disable it.

When the balloon nears the main building, Vincent releases the line and then teleports onto the roof. Jolene pilots the autogyro away while the rest of the party disembarks from the balloon. Much like Greta von Breuner’s place, the mansion’s curtains are all drawn. Hightower smashes in a window and ducks inside, nearly plunging two dozen feet. The mansion is an empty shell.

Inside, a huge hole has been cut in the dirt floor. At the very bottom is what looks like a lab, though a large portion of it is taken up by a crackling dome of electricity. The party descends by rope and then takes an elevator down to the bottom. There are several passages leading off from the hole, but most of them look like they’ve been recently torched.

The heroes can make out the silhouette of a man inside the dome of energy. When he’s satisfied they don’t work for the Wizard, the man asks the heroes to shut down the generator down the hall and free him. Unfortunately, it’s guarded by an automaton named Mr. Shunt.

The party attempts to ambush Mr. Shunt, but Vincent accidentally gives them away. Fortunately, the machine’s Gatling gun arm soon malfunctions, forcing it to try to lumber into melee range while the heroes struggle penetrate it’s heavily armored frame. Finally, Argent New Haven stabs it through both glowing bring eyes, piercing the brain within. This causes Mr. Shunt to explode, although fortunately the party escapes the blast relatively unscathed.

Vincent shuts down the power, allowing the man inside the electric dome to get free. It is none other than Darius Hellstromme—though he is quick to insist that he is not the first Hellstromme. A former con man, he was brought in to impersonate Hellstromme after his predecessor, another fake, died abruptly. He has represented Hellstromme Ironworks in public while spending the rest of his time a virtual prisoner of the Dark Woman. The inventions are largely the responsibility of a young Hungarian man, Nicky, who was kept chained up in the lab.

The day before, the Dark Woman had stormed into the building and caused quite a stir. The Wizard’s people began burning documents and destroying equipment, while the automatons began marching out. Amid the chaos, Hellstromme managed to save a few scraps from the flames and then snuck down to the lab to free Nicky, whose help he needed to cross the minefield safely. Unfortunately, at that point, the automatons became hostile to them and Nicky had to activate the lightning shield to protect them. When the machines had departed, Nicky was able to walk safely through the electrical barrier but couldn’t shut it down without getting past Mr. Shunt. Hellstromme was left in the lurch until the heroes arrived.

The document he salvaged provided a number of clues about the Wizards operations:

  • A recent telegram from San Francisco warns that cargo from India was lost due to a pirate submersible targeting British shipping. The message suggests that the “Emperor” may have been involved and warns that “Paladin” is on their trail.
  • A newspaper clipping about a failed search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, along with a treasure map by someone named Peralta and the note “they’re looking in the wrong place.”
  • A letter from “Sam Colt” to his wife indicating that he was on a quest to stop an evil that threatened the world. The letter said that someone called the Pale Horseman was with him and that Colt did not expect to return.
  • A personal note about the “Tombstone project” indicating that someone called “Ike” is concerned that “Holiday” is getting suspicious. The note recommends sending in “Ringo” to fix things, but worries about open violence, given the presence of “the Earps.”
  • Another note complaining that the Boss of Carson City is difficult to work with, particularly given his opposition to extending the Golden State Railway.


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