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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Wild West Campaign: The Arabians

Dodge City was especially cold, snowy, and barren that February, with little going on.  Until two old familiar faces rode into town.

First, Mysterious Dave Mather got back from his failed gold-mining expedition.  He'd gone to Colorado with ex-lawman Charlie Bassett. They'd found nothing, and Mather came back to Dodge; but Bassett just couldn't bring himself to return to the town he'd come to feel so embittered about.

(Mysterious Dave)

At around the same time, the long-missing psychopath John Joshua Webb came back too.

Webb had last been seen helping Miller fake the death of his horse (Brimstone), and taking said horse out of Dodge, on account that it had killed Miller's wife. Miller inquired of Brimstone, and at first Webb tried a white lie, but then admitted the horse was dead, saying only that "things got complicated" and that "it was him or me".  Then Webb asked Miller for a job, and Miller hired him on as a security man, much to the chagrin of Other Miller, who was already one of Miller's security men.

The next people to ride into town were all newcomers.  One was a guy calling himself "Big Jim" Davis, owner of a large Oklahoman ranch, who rode in with a bag full of money  he intended to spend in Dodge's saloons, and two stunning Arabian horses he intended to sell a bit further east.

He promptly started buying rounds of drinks for everyone at the Long Branch, becoming a quick favorite of the regulars.

Then came along a pair of young men who accused "big Jim" of being an impostor. The real Big Jim, they said, was their uncle, and this man had murdered him, stolen his money and his horses.  Both Big Jim and the two "nephews" seemed extremely convincing. It proved very hard to tell who was lying and who was telling the truth, and there was not a shred of definitive evidence between them. Everything Big Jim had to authenticate himself by was claimed to be stolen goods by the nephews; and they in turn had nothing to prove their uncle was dead and this man was not Big Jim.

Kid Taylor was the only lawman around, and he realized the nephews were trying to goad "Big Jim" into a shootout, though he wasn't sure which side was telling the truth.  He decided to take "Big Jim" into custody for his own protection. Then Other Miller figured out that they could send a telegram to the nearest town (where the nephews claimed they had left Big Jim's corpse) to confirm their story. They acted pleased about this, but so did Big Jim, so that solved nothing in the immediate sense.

Taking Big Jim into custody to avoid a gunfight was not as such a bad call, but it turned out to be a problem, when the "nephews" tricked the Mormon ex-Gambler (I should really start calling him the Mormon Concierge) to give away the number of the room where "Big Jim" had been staying in the Beattie Hotel. They broke in and stole Big Jim's carpetbag full of cash.

Miller, meanwhile, was in the Alhambra and ended up overhearing Dirty Dave Rudabaugh planning to steal the two Arabians.

He talked Dirty Dave out of robbing the Dodge stables, but Dave and his two sidekicks only shifted plans to hijack whoever ended up with the horses on their way out of town.

They didn't need to wait long. The Mormon Concierge and Kid Taylor discovered the break-in at the hotel, and rushed to check on the horses. Kid Taylor had made the dubious decision to leave the septuagenarian stable-master and his octogenarian rifle alone in the stable as the sole guardian of the Arabians.  The Kid rushed to the stables, but actually got there third. First, the nephews had gotten there, knocked the old stabler in the head, and fled with the Arabians. Second, Dirty Dave and his men who had been tipped off by a lookout. They rushed to their horses and chased after the fleeing 'nephews'.   And right behind Kid Taylor came Miller, accompanied by his new bodyguard Webb, who had both been following Dirty Dave.  Kid Taylor immediately set to ride after them with the two others.

They didn't quite catch up in time. Dirty Dave got to them first, knowing the local terrain better than the 'nephews'.  He and his men ambushed the nephews, unhorsed and unarmed them, and left them behind in the snow.  Kid Taylor's posse went after the footsteps first, and quickly found the two men, who he tricked into admitting they were criminals. Meanwhile, Taylor had sent John Joshua Webb after the horse thieves.

Along the way back they ran into a second posse, led by Wyatt Earp and including the Mormon Concierge and Other Miller.  Earp tonguelashed Kid Taylor for heading off with out a proper posse, and sent him back to Dodge with the two prisoners, while the rest of them went after the horses.

They found their way to a killing scene.

Though they couldn't be sure what had happened, it was in fact Webb, having caught up to Dirty Dave and his gang, who offered Rudabaugh his life if he double-crossed his former partners and he and Dave split the money for the horses. Dirty Dave naturally agreed.

What then followed was a manhunt of various days; only with a twist. In the night Webb actually doubled back and spoke to his "boss" Miller, asking for Miller's blessing. Miller agreed, in his usual half-assed way, saying he couldn't interfere and if Earp kept tracking them he wouldn't be able to help.

As it turns out, Webb and Rudabaugh were quite good at hiding their tracks. Earp also wasn't wearing a US Marshal's star, plus he realized that Miller had a kind of bond with Webb that wasn't entirely different from Wyatt's own toward Doc Holliday, so he gave Miller an out. He suggested they might not keep on searching. Both Millers agreed, and the Mormon Concierge, who has terrible luck, had already been forced to abandon the posse on account of his horse suffering a fall.

So the posse headed back to town without any luck. Of course, they knew Webb was involved, even if they couldn't prove it.

Other Miller confronted Miller directly, asking if Webb had done what he did on Miller's orders, or if he'd betrayed him.  Miller, too cowardly to admit he'd given Webb carte-blanche, told Other Miller that Webb hadn't been acting on his orders, leaving Other-Miller with the idea that Webb could not be trusted.

The telegram confirmed Big Jim's identity and he was set free. He proved quite forgiving of Kid Taylor and the lawmen, since he was mainly pleased the fake "nephews" had been caught and were bound to be hung for horse-thieving.

A couple of weeks later, John Joshua Webb and Dirty Dave came back into town.  No one knew Dirty Dave had anything to do with it, and Webb didn't give the lawmen any straight answers, but when speaking privately to Kid Taylor he ended up giving away the fact of Dirty Dave's involvement.
Kid Taylor wasn't interesting in arresting Dave or Webb though, he wanted the horses back to make up for his failing to Big Jim. So he spoke in Dave's language: he offered Dave immunity if he told him where they sold the horses. And of course, Dave snitched, as was his habit.

Kid was planning on heading out with Wyatt Earp to get the horses, but Earp suggested that they just wire Big Jim with the information, and offer to leave it up to him how to settle the score. Kid agreed. A couple of weeks later, they got a very thankful telegram from Big Jim, who'd recovered his Arabians, and a reward of $500 dollars that Kid and Earp split.

In the end, Kid happily declared that he hadn't learned a thing from all this. But he was $250 richer.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + C&D's Bayou Evening

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