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MECH WARZ V: SHADOW PUNK CONFLICT
Friday, June 01, 2012
By: Michael "MRex" Zabkar
Copyright 2012 TAW SCENARIOS - All Rights Reserved
Absalom, New Mexico
April 26, 1874
Professor Hendrik Spaepen looked down on his notes in his journal and smiled to himself. He was a man of science. He believed there were no mysteries in life that could not be explained. And yet, on his table, sat an example of something that should not exist. He had come to call the element ‘Ghost Rock’, after hearing one of his lab assistants refer to it. Somehow it seemed fitting. Professor Spaepen put down his pencil and rubbed his tired eyes. As his vision returned, he read the words he had written…
“This ‘Ghost Rock’ is one of the most perplexing things I have ever held in my hands. I cannot account for its existence. For lack of better words, the element resembles simple coal in form…but that is where the similarity ends. The rock is a dirty white color and is quite flammable. A small portion, once lit, burned completely through my laboratory table, the floor, and several inches into the earth below. I’ve never seen anything like it. Coupled with a steam engine, such as found in, say, a locomotive…the possibilities are near endless. Were this the only unusual property, I would be quite satisfied to publish my journal. But, it would seem to be conducive to the transference of electricity as well…at significant amplification. The wonder! The applications of this element are near-limitless. In fact, the only detriment I’ve found is, once exposed to oxygen in our air, a heavy blow can cause an energetic explosion, as one of my clumsier lab assistants discovered quite by accident when he dropped a beaker-full onto the floor. Thankfully, the lad will survive, albeit missing a few toes…”
Professor Spaepen placed his journal in his coat pocket. On the table was his map to the Sarcophagus Mine, only known location of the mysterious Ghost Rock. He quickly folded it and placed it in the same pocked with his journal.
Prof. Spaepen grabbed his hat and eagerly made his way to the make-shift garage converted from an adjoined blacksmith shop. As he stood at the door, he could hear clanking and the sounds of his assistant, Lawrence Popton, moving about as he worked on what the Professor lovingly referred to as ‘The Contraption’.
“Is it ready, Lawrence”, the Professor asked.
“Yes sir…I’ve been able to make the adaptations you recommended and it looks as if the old girl will walk”, Lawrence said enthusiastically as he climbed down off the scaffolding surrounding what could only be described as a malformed ‘man’ resembling a locomotive fused with a human.
A firebox where a man’s heart should be, attached to a steam engine, generated pressure allowing awkward movements by the creation’s limbs. Lawrence beamed with a mechanic’s pride as he approached the Professor, when suddenly his attention shot to the doorway behind the professor. Professor Spaepen noticed his assistant suddenly blanche and turned to view the cause. As he turned, he felt, and heard the blunt object strike the base of his skull. Stars swam into his vision as he felt his legs collapse as he fell. As he lay on the ground a dark silhouette filled the doorway.
“You”, he thought as he slipped into blackness…
…Professor Spaepen’s eyes fluttered open. It was dark. It was night. He wondered how long he had been knocked out. The professor sat up and looked around. He quickly patted his pockets and was dismayed to find his coat pockets empty. Nearby the form of his assistant, Lawrence, lay crumpled in a heap. Professor Spaepen carefully stood and made his way over to his assistant. Thankfully Lawrence was breathing..
Lawrence’s eyes opened and as he focused on the professor. “Professor?”
“Quiet, son. We have a serious problem. My journal is gone...and I know who has it”, Professor Spaepen stated thoughtfully.
“You do, sir?” Lawrence asked.
“We have work to do. Go down to the Tucker ranch. Tell Artemis that I need his help, and every able bodied hand he can gather. We need to get to the mine. I’m afraid the doctor may already be there.” Professor Spaepen gingerly rubbed the lump on the back of his head.
“Will it work?” Professor Spaepen nodded towards ‘The Contraption’.
“Yes sir! She’ll walk,” Lawrence responded.
“Very good. I think we’ll need her. I only wish there was more time to test her.” Professor Spaepen dusted himself off and walked towards his laboratory as Lawrence hurried to find Artemis Tucker, local ranch owner, and friend of the professor. As he entered his laboratory, Prof. Spaepen could not stifle the sense of dread he felt if his discovery fell into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, his worst fear was soon to be realized.
Dr. Otto Blucher gleefully studied page after page of the tattered journal he held in his hands as he paced in the abandoned barn he had appropriated (rather violently) from its previous owner.
“Ghost Rock. How quaint”, Dr. Blucher thought as his eyes feasted on the pages. Dr. Blucher flipped a few gold coins into the eager hands of ‘Dirty’ Dan Hexor, one of the local bar thugs.
“Thank you, doc. Anything more I can do for ya?” Dan quickly dumped the coins into his tobacco stained vest pocket.
“Are you certain of what you overheard? There is more, no?” Dr. Blucher’s eyes bore into the young bandit as he questioned. His thick Germanic accent lending emphasis to the pointed question.
“Yes…yes, sir. There’s a whole mine full of it. I heard the old coot say it himself.”
“Good, good. I believe what is in that mine would be very beneficial to our project, and to the Fatherland.” Dr. Blucher walked over to a dusty chalkboard covered in a peculiar diagram and arcane symbols.
“What-er you goin’ to do with all that magic dirt, doc?”
Dr. Blucher angrily glared at Dan in response to his simpleton’s impudence. “You and your upstart government will know soon enough. I pay for your services, not your questions, now go! I want you to assemble your gang of ruffians and make way to the Sarcophagus mine. Secure it for me and wait for my instructions. You can do that, can you not?”
“You got it, doc.” Dan winked (which he knew always irritated the doctor), spun on his heels overdramatically and goose-stepped out.
"When this is over, I must remember to kill that dog.” Dr. Blucher muttered to himself as he stared after the young outlaw Were.
Dr. Blucher shook the thought from his head and walked around the chalkboard towards the immense, tarp covered form standing at the rear of the barn. Dr. Blucher pulled the heavy tarp off of the figure and gazed at it with pride. Large, copper colored feet stood motionless as their trunk-like legs rose up to join with hips attached to a barrel-like torso. Long motionless arms ending in claws extended from the machine’s gear-like shoulders. A panel in the chest was opened revealing a tangle of wire, tubes and diodes all connected to what could only be described as a primitive battery.
“This ‘Ghost Rock’ will provide all the power I need for an army of golems.” Dr. Blucher smiled as he thought of the possibilities. “Once I take this mine for my own, King Wilhelm will be certain to grant me a protectorate carved from these United States. Very soon, Germany will have a foothold in the U.S. And I will be a very rich man.” A smile formed across Dr. Blucher’s face as he returned to his workshop.
“A very rich man, indeed.”
Will Dr. Blucher gain control of the Ghost Rock to power his army?
WIll he use his army to march on the United States?
Can anyone stop him?
Only YOU can decide!
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