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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Crossfire

The session found some changes to Tombstone.  Jackson (and Smiley) left town in search of Aunt Henry and her magic recipe.   Meanwhile two more former-lawman exiles from Dodge City made their way into town: Jeff Young and Bat Masterson.

They were both heading to Tombstone on invitations: Masterson from Wyatt Earp who offered him a chance to buy a share in the Oriental Saloon.  And Young on the offer from Crazy Miller to come and work with him in the Millers' new gambling hall.

On the train to Tuscon, Masterson and Young ran across an old friend of Bat's, Texas Jack Vermillion.

He was heading to Tombstone as well, along with his friend Turkey Creek Jack Johnson.

Turkey Creek Jack was a Cowboy, a fact that caused Young some consternation, but from their time together it seemed that Jack was a fairly nice guy; and for whatever reason, Bat Masterson took to him right away.

On the stagecoach to Tombstone, the four men found that the Stagecoach just ahead of them on the Wells-Fargo schedule had been held up. One man was wounded, and a pair of ladies were fairly terrified. One of the ladies was Joyce Miller, Other Miller's second cousin, who was coming to Tombstone to marry him.

Virgil Earp made his way to the waystation, and escorted both stagecoaches to town. From the witnesses, he presumed the robbery was done by two Cowboys: Frank McLaury and Pony Diehl.  However, by the time he got back to town, Earp was given orders by the territorial government not to pursue the investigation.  The Cowboys had powerful influence at this point, and Virgil was very frustrated over how his hands were tied.

Meanwhile, Kid Taylor had been investigating the death of a local rancher named Deke Grisolm. The Cowboys were not likely suspects, since Grisolm had been a friend of the Clantons. The only real clue was some tracks with unusual bootprints, with a star-shaped marking on the heels.  Kid made his way to Grisolm Ranch, where he met with Janet, Deke's sister and the last surviving member of the family, and thus heiress to the Ranch. He began to suspect Bo, Janet's sweetheart, who was a common but handsome cowhand. Finding the situation at the ranch tricky to manage, and the various ranchands uncooperative, he decided to arbitrarily arrest one of them and rode him back to town.

In the meantime, Kid Taylor's deputy One-Arm Kelley had managed to find the boots.  Unfortunately, they were on the feet of a local drunk, who'd found them in an alley.  On interrogating the ranch-hand, they came to realize that it might not be Bo, but Janet herself who was behind the killing. Conferring with Morgan Earp, they speculated that Deke might not have approved of Janet's relationship with Bo, and she killed him to inherit the ranch and free herself of his control. They planned to put together a posse and use the ranch-hand's testimony to arrest Janet, but when they got back to the Marshall's office they found that the ranch-hand had been murdered, shot through the window of the cell.

The Wells-Fargo stagecoaches arrived in town.  The Millers were there to greet Joyce and Young, while Charlie Storms was there to meet his old friend Bat Masterson and get him to the Oriental. Other Miller went off to show his fiance around, while Crazy Miller and Young joined Masterson in going to the Oriental, where Wyatt Earp was glad to see them. Doc Holliday was there too, and Masterson met Luke Short for the first time. All of them decided to stay there a few hours drinking and playing poker to celebrate Masterson and Young's arrival.

In the afternoon, Curly Bill Brocius, Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo came into the Oriental, accompanied by a few other cowboys. They made some subtle threats against Earp, expressing Pa Clanton's concern about how Wyatt Earp had seemingly set himself up as the Cowboy's enemy. Johnny Ringo was particularly interested in Jeff Young, who was rumored to be nearly as fast as Doc Holliday (or, according to Young, just as fast).

After exchanging some insults with Doc Holliday, Ringo decided to show just how fast he was, by drawing his gun and twirling it with great skill.  Doc responded by mimicking his little show, but with his whiskey cup.

To calm things, Wyatt restated his oft-repeated mantra that "he was just here to make money" and that if the Cowboys didn't cause any trouble with him, he wouldn't cause any trouble for them.  Curly Bill felt satisfied with this and the Cowboys left.  After they'd gone, Bat looked at Wyatt and asked "You're going to cause trouble, aren't you?"
Wyatt answered "Yup."

Several hours later, after Crazy Miller and Jeff Young had gone home, Kid Taylor was drinking at the bar of the Crystal Palace saloon with Doctor Goodfellow, trying to figure out what would be his next move in his investigation.  Just then he saw Charlie Storms throwing Luke short out the door of the Oriental. The two man had gotten into a fight over a faro game. Luke got up and Storms started to draw on him, but Short was faster with a quick draw and shot from the hip right into Storms' heart, at such close range that Storms' shirt caught fire.  Charlie Storms was dead before he hit the ground.

Everyone agreed that Luke shot in self-defense, so Kid didn't arrest him, and Bat forgave him. But Luke Short still felt nervous about it all. He knew Charlie Storms had been a friend of Bat's, and he figured being a partner with him on the Oriental Saloon would be awkward after that. So he would decide in the next few days to sell off his share of the Oriental, to Bat. Will Harris, the other part-owner, did the same; and Luke Short and Will Harris moved to Dodge City where they would buy the famous Long Branch saloon (thus having both gone from owning Tombstone's most famous saloon to owning Dodge's most famous saloon).

Kid Taylor was heading home after a late night, when he suddenly noticed a stranger waiting for him in an alley. Then behind him, he heard a rifle cocking. He realized he was being ambushed by the men who murdered Deke Grisolm, and the ranchhand who was going to testify.  Finding himself in a cross-fire, Kid Taylor dived behind a barrel to try to cover himself from the rifleman, and started firing at the shooter ahead of him. They exchanged multiple shots, with Taylor injuring the gunman several times.  He dropped him with a serious (but non-lethal) hit but ran out of bullets. He then dashed for the corner, avoiding the rifle-fire.  At that point while reloading behind a picket fence he ran into Morgan Earp, and the two turned back to pursue the gunmen. They followed the trail of blood from the injured one to the Mexican Quarter, where they cornered and arrested both.   With their confession, they also arrested Janet Grisolm. Apparently, she was behind her brother's death, and had hired the same two gunmen to kill the witness and then to try to kill Kid Taylor. She was desperately in love with her boyfriend, and was insanely determined not to let anything get in her way; curiously, Bo didn't know anything about the killings and was horrified to discover his girl was a bloodthirsty murderess.

Incredibly, instead of being in a crossfire and outgunned, Kid Taylor didn't take a single hit.  In fact, he hasn't taken a single bullet in his entire career in spite of several major gunfights.  We've taken to calling him "wyatt earp jr.".


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