The Weird West

Wheels Within Wheels

A lot of talking, some scheming, and a little fighting

After staggering away from the near-train crash, the party is able to avoid the attention of authorities but not of a courier who hands them a manila envelope. The messenger was hired to wait for them and deliver the package, which turns out to be a letter from their Secret Service contact instructing them to meet him at a restaurant by the train station, Gentile Ben’s.

The heroes find lodging in the nearest hotel, the Sticky Widget, which has the lowest rates in town because its customers keep disappearing in the night. The Pinkertons can’t be bothered to investigate and the local gang, the Crooked Razors, denies responsibility. The hotel owner hires the heroes to investigate, but despite keeping watch while they share the presidential suite, nothing attacks them during the night. Before going to bed, Jack, Vincent, and Maria have a lengthy discussion about guns in which Maria reveals she acquired her Peacemakers from noted gunslinger Johnny Ringo and claims to have killed him.

Come morning, the party gathers more information about the disappearances, which started happening a few months ago. The victims were lone factory workers, mostly new in town, and all of whom had been involved in brawls shortly before their disappearance—often at the Squeaky Wheel Tavern. No more than two or three are taken a week. Hightower, Maria, and Argent investigate the tavern while Jack and Vincent peruse the shops. The Squeaky Wheel, a former stables converted to a tavern, serves mostly workers from Hellstromme’s factories. Hightower forces the owner to admit that he submits a list of anyone involved in a bar fight to Greta Von Breuner, the daughter of an Austrian Count who sits on the board of Hellstromme Ironworks; she had provided a loan to the tavern keeper. Hightower acquires the most recent list of rowdy types and returns to the Sticky Widget, where he compares it with the list of missing guests and discovers that the most recent missing person, a man named Isaac who vanished a week ago, is on both lists.

The party then treks down to Gentile Ben’s to rendezvous with the Secret Service contact, a well-dressed young man with a closely-trimmed beard. He is disappointed at the ruckus the heroes caused entering the town, but is impressed that they were able to kill the Dark Woman. Upon learning of the offer from Allan Pinkerton, he suggests that the heroes bring him to the Consulate in Salt Lake. He can also set up a safe point at the train station.

The resources of the Secret Service are somewhat limited, however, as he is the only agent operating in Deseret. The last few agents they tried to infiltrate into the Junkyard turned up dead, except for the most recent one, who appears to have gone rogue. Major Joseph Hancock Taylor, nephew of the late President Zachary Taylor, entered the Junkyard posing as an inventor named Tybalt “Tinker” Taylor, but after a few weeks he stopped sending in reports. His business appears to be booming, however, and according to the paper he has even organized a scavenger hunt for rare components. The heroes decide to look into his case for possible connections to the Wizard.

The Secret Service agent informs the heroes that the Pinkertons never leave their headquarters except in groups and don’t mingle much in the city. A few are known to frequent the underground fighting pits held at places like the Charnel House, but the agent doesn’t know the password to get in.

The party then heads over to the Squeaky Wheel to chat folks up and learn about the gladiator fights. Vincent has a long talk with a man named Bob and learns the password to that night’s fight (“Old Hickory”). Several Pinkertons are likely to attend, led by a guy named Smiley who has a gold fang in place of one of his canines. The main event of the evening is a fight featuring Scar, a gladiator sponsored by Greta Von Breuner who always fights to the death and has never lost. There was some trouble a few months back finding fools to go up against Scar, but now there seems to be a steady stream of them.

That night, the party infiltrates the fights, which take place in an arena beneath the Charnel House butcher shop. Argent volunteers for a lethal gladiator fight, hoping to track down Isaac or other victims. He’s taken below to a chamber where the eager fighters are kept under guard, but after ascertaining that Scar’s opponent is likely kept in a private room, Argent sneaks away. After dodging a patrol of guards, he finds a room marked “Isaac.” After talking his way inside by posing as a chaplain/rabbi, he finds the terrified Isaac now augmented with armor bolted to his chest and a buzz saw for a right hand.

Unfortunately, Isaac is not alone and a figure in a dark coat, top hat, and scarf attacks Argent. The figure is quickly revealed as a Nosferatu. Argent fends off the creature’s attempts to tear his throat out and finally strikes it in the face with the Cross of Coronado, causing the monster to melt. He then escapes with Isaac and the two of them talk their way into the nonlethal fighters’ waiting area. Isaac explains that he was kidnapped by a pair of nosferatu and woke up in a dark room with his new augments. He didn’t see any other victims and assumes they all perished in the arena weeks ago.

Upstairs, the rest of the party spots the three Pinkertons, half-drunk and having a good time. Vincent comes up with a plan to isolate one of them. He quietly approaches Smiley, grabs the man, and teleports away to a dark corner where Hightower gives the Pinkerton a tap on the head. The party then loots his unconscious body, taking care to remove the Pinkerton card with gloves. They also pocket his cash and a disciplinary letter instructing him to spend a week helping Bentley in the archives.

Though taxed by the process of teleporting two people, Vincent returns to the two remaining Pinkertons and convinces them that Smiley needs to speak with them in a dark corner. Hightower then smacks their heads together like two drunken coconuts and the party acquires another pair of Pinkerton cards, along with some betting tickets.

Meanwhile, Argent’s ruse has been discovered as the fight clerk notices the discrepancy in the number of fighters in the room. Argent convinces the other remaining nonlethal gladiators that they are going to be led up to be slaughtered, sparking a riot. In the chaos, Argent and Isaac are able to escape. They reunite with the rest of the party and make a swift exit. On their way out, Hightower and Vincent convince the Charnel House ticket agents that they should form a union to keep from being exploited by the management.

The party returns to the Sticky Widget with Isaac. Vincent promises to build him a replacement hand and the heroes convince him to stay under their protection.

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