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Sunday 27 January 2019

Wild West Campaign: The Death of Jeff Young

In today's session a couple of critical events took place.

First, Bat Masterson found himself obliged from lack of funds to sell his share of the Oriental Saloon to Milt Joyce. He'd have sold to Wyatt Earp, but Wyatt was even more broke than Bat, between the expenses required to keep the family safe and a large investment in one of the only lots in the Tombstone mines that failed to dig a damn penny of silver.

With Milt Joyce now owning the majority of the Oriental, Wyatt was left with no choice but to sell his share as well. Now the Oriental, which had been Wyatt's home base since arriving in Tombstone, was in the hands of a former business-partner who had soured to the Earps, to Doc Holliday and to everything to do with them. Joyce had turned to the side of the Cowboys.

Worse still, no sooner had Joyce taken over the Oriental that he sold half of it (at a profit) to Johnny Behan, the political tool of the Cowboys and corrupt Cochise County Sheriff.

Wyatt wasn't going to stand for that. So he went into the Oriental and started playing Faro. And he kept right on playing for a day and a half, walking away with $10000, effectively bankrupting the Oriental and their owners.

Crazy Miller went to offer Joyce the chance to sell the Oriental; but Joyce, knowing Crazy's allegiance to the Earps, told him to his face that he'd rather see the Oriental burnt to the ground than sell it to Miller. Miller responded that this just might be arranged.

Meanwhile, the Earp's trusted jailer and master coffee-maker Cooter had been on a routine trip to the Tombstone mines for the Marshal's office. He'd done the route because nowhere outside of Tombstone was safe from the Cowboys. In the town, the Cowboys were mostly behaving themselves - excepting Johnny Ringo who got drunk and shouted at Wyatt and Morgan that he wanted them dead, in broad daylight. It looked like something might happen but then Doc Holliday showed up and said "Why Johnny Ringo, all I want from you is ten paces out in the street". Ringo and Holliday were about to face off, but Behan and Jeff Young stopped the duel by each threatening to arrest their own man. Neither the Cowboys nor the Earp gang were quite ready for open combat in the streets just yet.

But beyond the town, the Cowboys ruled. And after Mayor Clum was attacked on the road last month, the Earps figured that any of them would be in danger if they tried to go out there themselves; but they sent Cooter figuring he was innocuous enough that the Cowboys wouldn't bother with him.

Only Cooter never made it to the mines. He'd disappeared along the way. With Virgil still recovering from his assault (and unlikely to ever be able to use his left arm again), and Wyatt distracted with his vendetta faro-game against Milt Joyce and Behan, Deputy Marshal Morgan Earp found himself in a quandry. He finally decided to send out Deputy Charlie Bassett along with Deputy Jeff Young, Kid Taylor and Sherman McMaster to find out what had happened to Cooter. Of course, the Cowboys were prime suspects.

They found the Tombstone Mining Corp wagon off the road from the mines; it had been attacked and the driver slain. Cooter, the horses and the cargo of the wagon were all missing. Bassett easily found a trail leading toward the Dragoon Hills. They  had crossed paths along the way with a troop of a dozen US Cavalrymen, who were looking for some stolen horses. They suspected either Mexican Banditos or Commancheros, leading the posse to think that maybe it wasn't the Cowboys who had taken Cooter. They kept following the trail.

By the next morning, the PCs on the streets of Tombstone were surprised to see a horse approaching carrying a Mexican girl and Cooter.  Cooter had been taken by Commancheros, managed to fast talk his way out of being slaughtered, and then the Mexican girl helped him escape; she was a prisoner of the Commancheros and figured Cooter and Tombstone were her best shot at getting away. According to Cooter there were 13 Commancheros in the horse-rustling gang, and the PCs realized that the posse they sent out were potentially headed into serious trouble, while looking for a man who had already gotten away.

Left without  much choice, Morgan Earp decided to go out with another posse to try to rescue the first. He took Other Miller, Crazy Miller, Buckskin Frank Leslie, and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson with him. Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday stayed behind to watch Wyatt's back while he played his epic faro game in the Oriental.

Unfortunately, even knowing exactly where the Commanchero camp was, the second posse were still at least six hours behind. They also started to be followed (from a distance) by some cowboys almost as soon as they left town. Three Cowboys turned into eight, and then thirteen, and just when it looked like the Cowboys would ride in for a fight, the PCs saw the Cavalry approaching (literally) from the other side. The Cowboys turned back, figuring that killing US Cavalry troops would not be a good career move. The Cavalry troop mentioned having seen Bassett's posse the day before, and the PCs explained that their companions were hunting the self-same Commancheros who'd stolen the US Cavalry horses. So the Cavalrymen went with the second posse.

But meanwhile, the first posse had already been spotted by a couple of Commanchero scouts in the early morning; and they saw them back. In spite of knowing that they were facing Commancheros, and that the Commancheros knew they were coming, everyone in Bassett's posse agreed to go forth, to rescue Cooter.

They spotted a trio of Commancheros, waiting to ambush them from higher ground behind some rocks. They got off their horses and behind some trees and started shooting. Unfortunately, they hadn't spotted the Indian Commanchero who was behind them with a bow and arrow. They were in a crossfire. When Jeff Young went to shoot at the archer, one of the Commancheros behind the rock got a bead on him and managed an incredibly lucky shot that went right through Young's heart.

Jeff Young was easily the best gunfighter of all the PCs. He was probably one of the three best gunfighters in the entire Wild West; only Johnny Ringo or Doc Holliday were likely to be his match. But in the west, even the very best shots can die in a fraction of a second from bad luck.   And that Commanchero had a bullet with Young's name on it.

After that, everything had gone to hell. The archer shot an arrow into Sherman McMaster's shoulder, knocking him down. Kid Taylor managed to shoot the archer, but another Commanchero got a lucky shot on Charlie Bassett; Bassett was also hit in the shoulder but worse than McMaster, the shot left him unconscious and the bullet was lodged. Kid Taylor dropped a second Commanchero while McMaster struggled to grab his rifle in spite of his vicious wound. The other two fired at kid, one of them shooting off his favorite bowler hat and slightly grazing his skull; an inch lower and Kid Taylor would have died too.

McMaster, a tough former Texas Ranger, managed to grab his rifle and fire from a prone position, killing a third Commanchero, and then as the last one was about to shoot McMaster back, Kid Taylor took him out.

The Lawmen had won this round but Young was dead, Bassett and McMaster were both seriously injured, and they all knew that there were more Commancheros likely coming, so they found themselves forced to beat a hasty retreat.

They rode toward the Tombstone Mines, which was closer than the town, but a couple of hours on the way they ran into the second posse and the Cavalrymen. Both groups were shocked, one at the death of James Young, and the other at discovering that Cooter was safe and back in Tombstone. The whole group wanted revenge against the Commancheros for the death of their comrade; but Kid Taylor had to treat Bassett and McMaster (who would've slowed down the posse anyways). So they headed toward the mines, along with Buckskin Frank for extra protection.  The rest of the party and the Cavalry unit headed toward the Commancheros.

Kid Taylor got the injured to the mining camp and managed to treat the other lawmen's injuries.

Meanwhile, the main posse got to the Commanchero camp only to find that they'd already raised stakes. They obviously realized that their location had been compromised and headed south, probably toward the Mexican border.

The posse wouldn't give up, and followed them south. A day and a half later they caught up to the Commancheros in the night, got the drop on them, and after killing a couple the rest surrendered. They were taken to the Cavalry fort to be hanged.

Jeff Young had taken over as Tombstone City Marshall from Virgil Earp, but he only lasted a month on the job, which at this point seemed to be cursed. Even so, when Mayor Clum offered Other Miller the title, he accepted it immediately. There was no way he was going to back down from the confrontation coming with the Cowboys.


Currently Smoking: Mastro de Paja Bent Apple + Dunhill Elizabethan Mixture

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