In today's session, we started out with Dodge city being under threat from a Cheyenne uprising. The breakout from the reservation was so dangerous that the US Army sent a large shipment of rifles to arm every male citizen of Dodge. Ultimately the Cheyenne would never attack Dodge, rather raiding through rural Kansas en route to the north. But at the moment, the entire city was in a panic.
In the midst of this, Billy Houston rode into town on his mule, alerting the lawmen that some farmers fround a group of men massacred. He couldn't be sure if the culprits were Cheyenne or someone else, since many of the Cheyenne were now using guns and rifles rather than their traditional weapons. Jeff Young and Bill Tilghman went with Billy to investigate the scene, accompanied by Bill Miller (who was coming to be known as "Other Miller", since his boss the rich entrepreneur John Miller was much better known in town).
What they found was what they deduced to be two groups of men: a group of cowboys and a group of comancheros (a southern gang of sorts, composed of traders/thieves/rustlers of mixed heritage: Mexican, southern Indians, and some whites; who rarely went up this far north).
It seemed at first as though both sides had managed to murder each other. However, on closer inspection it seemed that at least one person had gotten away. Following his trail, they found he seemed to be headed back toward Dodge.
At the same time, Kid Taylor was patrolling just outside Dodge, keeping an eye out for Indians, when he spotted a large group of riders, about 40 horses, heading in the direction of town. At first, it was feared to be an Indian band, but they turned out to be white men. That proved to be no cause for relief, however, when it turned out to be the bulk of the Cimmaron Gang. Including their leader, Clay Allison.
Allison is not very well known today, but in 1878 he was thought to be the deadliest gun in the entire west (a title he would hold for a relatively brief period between the death of Wild Bill Hickok and the rise to fame of Doc Holliday). He was at this time older and more famous than Wyatt Earp; which was unfortunate for Earp since Allison had come to Dodge to kill him. Wyatt had, a few months back, shot and killed one of Allison's most trusted men, George Hoyt. Now he'd decided to ride to Dodge with most of his gang to seek revenge.
Over in the Beattie Hotel, the Mormon Gambler (now working as the manager) had taken note of an unusual looking bedraggled man renting a room. Unlike the typical clientele coming off the train, this man was dirty and bedraggled, seemed to have been in a recent brawl of some kind, and paid for his room out of a carpetbag full of bills.
When Young, Tilghman and Other-Miller got back to town, they split up: Young went to alert the other lawmen to what they'd seen, Tilghman to try to keep an eye on all the town's recently-armed yahoos, and Other-Miller to check the various hotels and boarding houses of Dodge to look for any sign of the survivor of the cowboy-comanchero massacre. Young found his way to Kid Taylor and Wyatt Earp, who was considering whether to go confront Allison (who was still outside of town with his 38 men).
Meanwhile, Other-Miller found his way to the Beattie Hotel, where the Mormon Gambler told him about the curious character who'd checked in. Figuring him to be the survivor, Other-Miller asked the Mormon to send word for a lawman to come help, and then for the Gambler to watch the hallway to the room while Other-Miller would watch the window of the man's room from the back-lot.
Unfortunately, almost all the Lawmen were caught up in other things. The only one the messengers could find was Jim Masterson (his brother Bat was out of town on a trip to Texas). Masterson was on his way to the hotel when he ran into Kid Taylor. Kid told him about Clay Allison, and Masterson figured it was way more important for him to go to what he hoped would be an epic shoot-out at Wyatt Earp's side, so he had Kid Taylor go to the hotel instead.
Other-Miller was watching the hotel room from the outside, when suddenly he spotted something odd; he wasn't the only one scoping out the place. Hiding behind some trees was a somewhat creepy looking Mexican, which he assumed to be a second survivor, a Comanchero. Kid showed up just then, and in the instant Other-Miller was talking to him, the Mexican vanished. Kid had heard something about how in the red light district last night, a white man had checked into a flophouse, only to have fled out a window when a Mexican burst in and stabbed one of the employees with a huge knife (a machete). The woman who ran the flophouse said he was terrifying, comparing him to town psychopath John Joshua Webb.
Unable to spot the Comanchero, Other-Miller had Kid Taylor wait there while he went into the hotel. Other-Miller's plan was now to just go into the cowboy's room and confront him. He got the Mormon Gambler/concierge to give him the key, and both of them headed up there. They opened the door and found a terrified looking man set up behind an overturned bed, who immediately drew on Other-Miller. Luckily Other-Miller was lightning fast in his reactions, rushing across the room and pistol-whipping the cowboy's gun out of his hand.
The cowboy gave in, but refused to detail anything about who he was or what had happened. While they were talking, Kid Taylor was outside, thinking he was keeping an eye on things. Suddenly he saw the Mexican had come out of nowhere to stand right beside him, Kid tried to draw but the Mexican sliced him right in the head with his machete.
Upstairs, Other-Miller looked out the window and saw Kid Taylor lying on the ground bleeding out of his head, possibly dead. He realized all hell might be about to break loose. He broke out into the hall and shouted as loudly as he could that a Mexican had just killed Kid Taylor.
As it happened, the 'real' Miller, John, had just gotten back to town and was in the hotel lobby, right behind a Mexican who was casually heading up the stairs to the rooms. The Mexican started to sprint up, and real-Miller followed him. Spotting Other-Miller at the end of the hall, and with Real-Miller following him from behind, the Mexican kicked down the door to another room and climbed out the window to escape. Real-Miller was right behind him but by the time he got to the window, the Mexican had athletically jumped down and was running, hugging the wall, to make good his escape.
Meanwhile, Wyatt Earp had decided to walk right out and face Clay Allison man-to-man.
He marched up to the entire Cimmaron gang, with Jeff Young and Jim Masterson backing him up. Allison stared him down, and asked him why he'd killed his man. Earp in essence made it clear that it was because he needed killing. There was a tense moment, but in the end, Allison reasoned that a man who would walk up to the firing like like Earp just did wouldn't have been the type of man to have killed George Hoyt in a needless or cheap sort of way. They agreed that Earp would stay out of Cimmaron, and Allison would stay out of Dodge.
One of the players noted that Earp's attitude was that Allison was just the head of a rival gang, like Earp was the boss of the "dodge lawman gang". That's pretty accurate.
Kid Taylor was still alive, as it turns out, and got rushed to the doctor's office. He ended up fully recovering, albeit with a nasty scar on his forehead, and a permanent -1 to Dexterity.
When Marshall Bassett finally made it to the hotel, the mystery man was still refusing to admit anything. But he pointed out that he had over $5000 in the carpetbag, and tried to bribe the Marshall with $500 if he'd keep him safe and get him onto the eastbound morning train. Unfortunately, Bassett was the one lawman who was pretty much bribe-proof. The man pointed out that Bassett had no proof he'd done anything wrong at all and he couldn't arrest him. Bassett agreed; but he pointed out he did have the power, under the town ordinance, to immediately kick anyone out of town. He threatened to do so to the mystery man, asking him how long he think he'd last outside of Dodge with rogue Cheyenne, the Cimmaron gang, and the machete-wielding Mexican psychopath all in the vicinity.
The mystery man realized when he was beat, eventually, and confessed that he was part of a group of hired guns. His boss stole the money in the carpetbag from the Bar-T ranch, claiming that the Bar-T's owner (Buck, who the Players know is a major cattle-rustler, but most of the PCs don't know that in-character) owed his boss that money. The cowboys had met with the Comancheros as a deal to get them past any Cheyenne raiders, but when the Comancheros realized how much money the cowboys had on them, they turned on their partners and there was a huge short-range firefight. When the dust settled, the mystery man thought he was the only survivor, so he took the carpetbag and headed off, only to realize he was being trailed by the Mexican. The last 24 hours had been a desperate race for survival for him.
Marshall Bassett arrested the man, but once he had his money back, Buck decided not to press charges against the lone survivor. Bassett saw him off on that eastbound train after all. Not that it did him much good; the PCs read in the next week's paper that a man matching his description had been found dismembered with a machete in a Topeka hotel room.
Let me tell ya, none of the PCs are hoping to run into The Mexican again anytime soon.
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