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Sunday 1 July 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Return of Drey!

In our latest session we started out with national and local elections. James Garfield won the presidency, as a strongly progressive and anti-corruption candidate of the Republican Party. His victory meant that by 1884 there would have been 24 years without a single electoral victory by the Democrats.

Meanwhile, in Pima County, the corrupt machinations of the Democrats (in Tombstone engineered by Johnny Behan with the help of the Cowboy gang) made sure that it was a Democrat sweep. They gave out free drinks at the bars in exchange for votes. According to the (Republican) Tombstone Epitaph, they "brought in children and Chinamen, pigs and chickens, all to vote Democrat".

 After that, the PCs got to meet a newcomer to Tombstone who had a historical connection to them. A man named Luke Short came to see Crazy Miller, bringing with him a referral from none less than Charlie Bassett.  Luke was a famous person (barely out of his teens) in Dodge City during the 'buffalo hunter' era, before any of the PCs had come to Dodge. He was Bassett's friend and assistant before Bassett became a famous lawman, and he'd met up with Bassett and Mysterious Dave Mather again down in San Antonio. When Luke decided to come to Dodge to work with his friend Will Harris (owner of the Oriental Saloon), Bassett told him to meet up with Crazy Miller.

Short spent a great deal of time with Miller, especially taking advantage of Miller's offer of free use of the services in the Den of Sin (his brothel). Then they went together (along with Jim Jackson) to The Oriental, where Will Harris was glad to see him. Harris had been under the impression that Short was going to buy a part ownership in the saloon, but it turned out that Short didn't have the money on hand just now; Miller offered to give him a loan, but Short refused saying he didn't incur debt. He promised Harris he'd be able to pay him soon, but for now Harris offered him work as a security man (which seemed kind of pointless, since Wyatt Earp himself ran the Faro game there).  Short also met Wyatt, and Doc Holliday, and everyone had a great old time staying up till around 11pm (except for Doc, who stayed up much later gambling).

The next morning Kid Taylor was sitting sulking in the town marshall's office. He had become defacto town marshall after the tragic death of Fred White a month earlier, but he wasn't very happy about it, feeling overwhelmed with the job. That's when someone came over and said they found a body in the alley behind the Eagle Brewery.

The body had been shot in the back, and he was identified as a prospector named Bill Stanley. There was little evidence about, and it didn't look like there would be any answer as to who did it, until a local drunk named Hanrahan came to Marshal Taylor and told him that he'd seen the killer... and that it was Jim Jackson.

This was hard to believe, but also hard to disprove. Hanrahan was a drunk but he was consistent. He had nothing against Jackson that anyone knew of, nor against his race as such, and no reason to lie. In Tombstone it would be hard to mistake Jackson (a relatively well-dressed young black man) for anyone else, except maybe some other black man just passing through. But Taylor couldn't find any.
However, when interviewing Hanrahan he did find some evidence that the drunk had in fact misidentified Jackson: he'd said he saw Jackson running off with his gun in his left hand, but Jackson was right-handed.

He arrested Jackson, and questioned him, but the questioning just convinced Taylor even more that Jackson was innocent, so he let him go again. That was something of a mistake. It would have been one thing not to arrest him; or to arrest him and keep him in prison during the investigation. But arresting him and then letting him go just made everyone think Jackson was guilty but that Taylor had been bribed or intimidated by Crazy Miller (Jackson's boss) into letting him go free. Now Jackson had half the town wanting him dead, and everyone was suspecting both Taylor and the Millers of corruption.

Having had no luck, Taylor went off with Morgan Earp to the Tombstone Mines, in the hopes of finding some proof of someone there who knew the dead prospector and could shed light into his murder, on the vain hope that it wasn't just a random killing.

Meanwhile, Luke Short suggested to the Millers that they get Wyatt Earp involved. Jackson worked at the Millers' Argent Saloon, but his evenings were spent hanging out with Wyatt at the Oriental, and by now Wyatt Earp considered Jackson a friend.  It turned out that months and months of purely social RP on Jackson's player's part were about to pay off big time with one of the meanest toughest (ex-)lawmen in the west jumping in to help his friend.

First, Wyatt took Jackson with him down the street, making it very clear to anyone that if they were to try to take the law into their own hands, they'd have to go through him.

Second, assuming there was another black man who did the shooting, they started to check out some of the places that a black newcomer to Tombstone might be more comfortable going if he didn't want to attract too much attention: the Mexican quarter, the Chinatown, and the lower-class brothels.

In the Fan-Tan House, they found the lead they needed. There was a black man, who had come there the night before with some Irish travelers, and his name was Drey.

Now, for those of you who had been reading this campaign report for a while, you might remember that back when Kid Taylor and Jackson were the Sheriff and Deputy of East Vegas, they confronted three backshooting murdering brothers. They killed one, and another was hung, but the third (Drey) escaped.

Now, it looks like he'd come back for revenge. When Virgil Earp questioned Hanrahan, the drunk remembered that he'd thought of Jackson because he had heard the name Jackson spoken just before the shot rang out. It looked like Drey was intentionally trying to have Jackson framed for murder, to die the same hanging death Jackson had led his brother to.

Jackson and Wyatt Earp headed over to the Irish camp, accompanied by Smiley (Jackson's Scottish friend), Luke Short, and Doc Holliday (who figured this was dangerous enough that it might be good to come along).

The Irishmen were eager to explain they'd just taken Drey's money to let him stay with them, not knowing his plans went against Jackson (who they had good relations with). But Drey hadn't run off as they'd claimed; he'd stayed waiting in ambush. If he couldn't frame Jackson, he'd settle for just killing him.

Fortunately, Luke Short and Wyatt Earp spotted Drey at the last minute. They drew and Luke shot first, but missed. Drey shot at Jackson, from behind, but only grazed him. Earp hit Drey for a flesh wound, and then Drey shot again, this time missing. By then Doc Holliday had drawn, and he shot Drey right through the chest. Smiley came over and decapitated the backshooter with his sword.
Jackson himself never fired a shot, but that's what friends are for, after all.

The discovery and killing of Backshooting Drey was enough to mollify anyone in town who had chosen to suspect Jackson of the crime, and for now things in Tombstone went back to normal. Both Wyatt and Luke refused any offer of taking up jobs as lawmen, though Other Miller pointed out that Wyatt seemed happier when he was doing this job than he'd looked all year.


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