The Iron Men
Report by: Ara Vasquez
Responding to the "Iron Men" wanted poster found in Brimstone, Ranger Ara Vasquez, Deputy Jackson Tanning, Solomon Mao, Elijah Murray and Gontiel Tormenta arrive by train in Maxwell City. This is more of a transit town along the river, giving access to between New Mexico and the surrounding states. The sheriff's office is off the main street. We meet Deputy Jack, who says that he saw the Iron Men attack the local bank, and that were demon horses leading their carriage. He is pretty convinced of this and fearful.
Sheriff Daniel Henderson greets us, who is an older man with a van dyke. He explains that the Iron Men usually arrive in a steam carriage with gatling guns. He chides the deputy regarding his "demon horses" claim, saying it is just nonsense, though he hasn't seen the Iron Men himself. He continues to explain that they typically come in with a dozen men, leaving some outside, and are quite ruthless with bystanders. They use strange devices like one that leaves people blind, which is why they haven't been tracked or identified yet. The bounty on them has been increased to $500 because of how much they have stolen.
The Iron Men have been working their way through the county for the past several weeks, and the Maxwell City bank was hit a week or so ago. The only other one in Colfax County that hasn't been robbed yet is in Cimilorio, which is a half day's ride to the west and is at the foothills of the mountains along the river.
The posse questions the bankers in Maxwell City and they are cooperative. They tell us that only have a couple men came in and they seemed to be wearing some kind of strange armored vests. They forced everyone on the floor and put money in bags, then skedaddled. The staff heard a gatling gun outside but didn't see much else.
Before we move on, Mao buys a bunch of dynamite and cast iron skillets. Vasquez thinks that a tasty dinner will be coming because of the skillets.
The posse departs and we reach Cimilorio a few hours later, in the evening. Scouting the town, we see there are under a thousand people here. We speak to the bank manager, Mr. Johnson, and let him know of the threat. He definitely seems worried and says that he's hired someone to help with security. There is a man with the gun near the door that seems to be the "security" person, but we figure that just one man won't cut it against the hardware we've heard about.
We speak with the sheriff and he seems happy to have a Ranger in town. Vasquez explains that we are planning to ambush the bank robbers, and Mao details his plan to dig a hole in the middle of the street so when the carriage pulls up, he can destroy or disable it. The sheriff expresses his concern about this, and Vasquez suggests that we create a "fake" bank -- dress up another building as a bank so the money and any bank employees aren't harmed during the attack. She asks if there is a vacant building in town, and the sheriff points her toward a man named Walter Cooper who usually is at the bar next door.
Vasquez heads over to the bar and speaks with Cooper, leaving out the part about the bomb in the road. After a brief conversation he agrees to let us use his building for the ruse as long as if it gets damaged, we repair it.
We stage the building as a fake bank and Mao puts dynamite inside a cast iron skillet and buries it underneath the street. He puts another one in front of the actual bank and strings up a plunger into each nearby alley. Ara and three deputies are inside the fake bank behind overturned tables. Gontiel finds some high ground and looks out for large dust plumes approaching town. Elijah sits down in front of the nearby saloon on a rocking chair.
We are here a few days waiting things out, and Elijah sees someone come into the saloon with an armored vest on. He follows finally Gontiel sees something big coming. He rides in and warns the rest of the group and we are ready.
They buy it and pull up directly in front of the fake bank (fank). Two men emerge and an automaton steps out with a gatling gun. Mao detonates the dynamite and the steam wagon is lifted into the air and comes crashing down but it is not destroyed. The automaton is damaged as well.
The automaton attacks the bank and kills one of the deputies. Ara levels her shotgun at it and with one shot, disables it. The deputies kill two of the men who entered the fake bank. Elijah is shot and wounded.
The others are taken out one by one by the posse, except for one that is getting away on foot. Gontiel takes him out and we stop the bleeding, then question him. He says that his gang is on a nearby ranch but won't say which. He seems unwilling to answer further questions, so we leave him to the authorities. Elijah is patched up by the local doctor and we leave to follow the steam wagon tracks.
Gontiel tracks the steam wagon for several miles and we end up at a small ranch. There is a large barn with a few outbuildings, and some cattle. We see only a couple of people. We decide to split up, most of the posse heading south to a dry riverbed that provides some cover. Deputy Jackson positions himself in a tall tree just north of the compound, and Vasquez rides her horse in from the north side, screaming and yelling.
Immediately the people of the ranch respond, and Mao, Elijah and Gontiel attack those in the smaller southerly building. They do appear to be well-armed and are difficult to defeat, however many of their guns break as they are trying to use them. Mao slices several to ribbons with his hook swords, Elijah shoots several, and Gontiel attacks with his tomahawks and guns.
Suddenly a man emerges from the barn with a flamethrower and fires it at Vasquez. She narrowly gets her and her horse out of the way but is not able to shoot him. He moves up and fires at the tree that the deputy is in, setting both the tree and the man ablaze. The deputy falls out of the tree and bull rushes the flamer, appearing to have some sort of PTSD-laden breakdown as he tackles the man and screams and yells, his clothes still on fire. Vasquez captures the flamer with her lariat, attempting to pull him away from the crazed deputy.
An automaton bursts out of the same door that the flamer came through, and fires its gatling gun toward Vasquez but misses. She wraps the end of the lariat around the horn of her saddle and rides toward the automaton, dragging the flamer into it. Unfortunately the flamer's tank doesn't explode and the automaton is merely inconvenienced.
Things get worse as a mad scientist with a shock of white hair sticking straight up into a teardrop emerges from the building wearing some kind of rig. He attempts to activate it but it doesn't work. Another man steps out with a dynamite launcher and begins hurling explosives everywhere. Elijah and one of the ranchers are shooting at each other unsuccessfully. Gontiel is taking out guys and takes a couple of scalps.
Mao charges through the south end of the barn and sees the back of the automaton that is shooting at the others. There is a ton of dynamite in here as well as some unfinished automata. Mao quickly lights a stick of dynamite and runs away, taking cover as it explodes and blows apart the automaton and kills the three other mad scientists along with it.
Cleaning up and patching our wounds, we see that the automata and other equipment is not from Hellstromme industries, this scientist made them himself. After salvaging what we can, we head back to Cimilorio for the night and then assist with rebuilding the building that was partly destroyed. The locals are quite happy. We return to Maxwell City the next day and inform the sheriff, who makes sure to process our reward.