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Subject: Journal of Clyde Burroughs, Part XI rss

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Adam Mitchell
United States
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Dec. 24th

This was supposed to be just a trip to gather some Dark Stone for Simeon; it turned out to be a whole lot more.

The first room we found in the mine was held not by monsters or giant critters, but by the Scafford Gang! There was four of them, led by Sgt. Bunker, one of the Colonel's lieutenants.

We took them down in a swirl of gunsmoke, but before we got Bunker he shot at Deputy Coburn twice!

I'd expected Eric or I would be the target, given that we were the ones who had bagged Scafford, but Bunker shot at Coburn twice!

I asked him about it as we searched the bodies afterward, and he said he'd run down a lot of Scafford outlaws before retiring, including one of Scafford's sons!

I was glad then that what was left of Scafford's gang was left hiding around in the region's mines. I didn't realize the truth then, but I found it out before the end of the day.

Next we came upon a nest of Scourge Rats and we made quick work of them, with Xotec bulls-eying one of the varmints.

There was a hole in the next cavern, and I reached into after rubbing my ring for good luck. You coulda knocked me over with a feather when I pulled out a cage with ANOTHER Void Canary, this one yellow instead of green! Xotec seemed just as fascinated with this one, so I let him hold it as we chose the next passage.

It was a rail tunnel, with a crack in space and a portal in time! Just looking at it was straining Eric and my's sanity, so we retreated and took the other passage opening, relying on our stubborn resolve to keep us going.

We found the area with a whole lot of Dark Stone, but waiting for us was another group of Scafford Gang members. Two of them seemed as normal as mutated outlaws can be, one had an awful stench, one seemed to phase in and out of reality, and the third was Colonel Scafford!

For a whole moment I was paralyzed; not one of the impossible monsters I'd seen had stunned me like this. I'd watched Eric gun Scafford down, I'd seen him die; yet here he was!

I think I wrote before how there were tales of holy men who'd been able to repeat the miracle of our Lord and bring the dead back to life; but I'd never for a goldarn minute thought that might happen to Scafford! Why would the good Lord want to pluck his soul back out of Hell?

Well, the ways of the Lord are not for us to understand, and all I could do was do my best to send Scafford howling back into the Infero.

Eric put several bullets into the stinking coyote, and things immediately seemed better with that smell gone. Saafford retaliated by putting a bullet or two in Eric, and I went right up next to the outlaw I shot before shooting another. Xotec took down that second one and Scafford retreated.

Then he put six bullets into Coburn, putting him down. I knew he was dead, and I did my best to avenge him, emptying my Punisher in his direction.

Scafford and his phasing buddy took a lot of lead, but it wasn't lead that took them down; it was iron.

Simeon may be quiet, but his hammer speaks for him pretty well! He caved in Scafford's skull, and then did the same to his last accomplice.

This time I made sure that the Colonel wouldn't be coming back. I won't deny it made my pretty uncomfortable, cutting apart a body like that, but I did what I had to do. Colonel Benjamin Scafford will never hurt another soul, and neither will Bunker; I made sure of that.

The trip back was almost as unsettling as what happened in the mine. Some kind of shapeshifter took the place of Eric for I don't know how many hours! I suppose we're lucky it just tied him up for a spell instead of slitting his throat.

Then we ran into a Mutant warlord who wanted a toll for us going across "his" lands. I paid up and we moved on, but afterward I did a powerful lot of thinking.

Enos had been right. Treating Mutants as outside the bounds of good Christian society would only force them into the arms of men like Scafford and this new Mutant ruffian. If something wasn't done, this whole region could find itself replaying a smaller-sized Civil War! Terrible as that would be, it would be even worse for it to happen now, with those three-eyed aliens making moves which might be practice for invading our country!

Now I know why the good Lord gave me Xotec. He hasn't spoken to me directly, I'm not worthy of that, but He doesn't have to; I got the message just fine.

Xotec and I are going to keep upholding law and order, but we're going to stand up for Mutants too! We're going to speak up about the importance of not making Mutants into second-class citizens or seeing them as evil. And we're going to try to be an example to all of the Mutants who might hear the calls of scum like Scafford, to show them that there's a better way.

Thank you, Lord. I will do my best.

Dec. 26th

I went to Matt Coburn's funeral on Christmas, and in that church I could feels the corruption being sucked out of me! The priest even blessed me, giving me a holy aura! If anything could convince me that I was right about God's will for my life, that was it.

I'm seriously considering seeing if I can get Matt raised back to life; the only thing staying my hand is the knowledge that he must be experiencing the joy of Heaven even as we speak. I'm sure Scafford was glad to escape the eternal torment he deserves, even temporarily, but with Matt going to the other place I'm not sure it's right to bring him back here.

Eric brought Simeon a hat and now we're going into another cave, which seems to be spewing some poison gas; the townspeople say it's the work of those three-eyed aliens again! I knew they weren't finished! I KNEW it!

Dec. 27th

Now I've seen the miracle of Lazarus before my very eyes.

The mine split in two, and we went right first. We found four of those Royal Foundry troopers in the mine and took them down right quick. In the next cave, though, we were ambushed by two Dark Stone Brutes! They bruised us up a good bit, but after we got past them we found a machine putting out that poisonous green gas. It was tough to shut down, but finally the pebbles I dropped into the holes on it seemed to do the trick.

Unfortunately, there was still gas coming from the lefthand tunnel, so we went that way next. First thing we found was the gang hideout that those Dark Stone brutes must have come from. I can only guess they ran and hid when the soldiers came in and put their gas machines here.

I was feeling pretty uneasy, and only felt worse when my Green Void Canary blew apart! It made poor Xotec cry, so I gave him the new Yellow one to hold.

That was when we got ambushed by another four of those soldiers. The carbines they have are frightening weapons, and this time they were able to gun down Simeon.

No sooner had we handled them than a Night Terror jumped us! I admit, we were on our last legs when we stumbled into the final cavern. Here I saw the strangest thing I had today; people wearing weird helmets with one big viewport, with stitch marks on their limbs, were hanging from the ceiling by hooks which were around a metal bar built into their backs.

I got the shivers looking at them, feeling like they could jump down on us any moment. I rubbed my ring for luck, and they didn't stir as we went to the second generator and finally managed to shut it down.

On the way back we found an attacked wagon train and I'm proud to record that Xotec and I found and rescued a survivor, a woman named Becky Mills. Right after that I just enjoyed myself, looking at the stars. I didn't know what was to come.

We had decided to go to Fort Lopez, which had thrown off the plague from what we'd heard. On the road there we found not one, but TWO shot U.S. Marshals, Tom Hamilton and Carl Weathers. They were both on the trail of the Badger, whose gang I'd fought before, but he'd gotten the better of both. I swore to them I'd telegraph D.C. about what had happened to them and that I'd do my best to look for the Badger when we made it to Fort Lopez.

When I got there, though, I realized what a job I had ahead of me. The plague had decimated Fort Lopez's population and sent much of the rest of it fleeing. After it finally got cured, what seemed to me like half of the territory's outlaws moved in and made it their home. Fort Lopez had become a town ruled by bandits.

Of course it was hard for good people to stand for that, and they were rioting when we arrived. Eric protected Frontier Outpost, while I shielded the Church, but the townspeople weren't after those; they burned down the Smuggler's Den and the Gambling Hall. I don't believe in breaking the law; I wouldn't have this job if I did! Still, I can't help by smile at the blows struck by these good people, legal or not.

I didn't find the Badger, but we didn't stay there long, not after someone tried to back-shoot Eric! We stayed just long enough for Eric to get Simeon brought back to life!

I'll be honest, if I live to be a hundred, I don't think I'll see anything as beautiful as that miracle! And for it to happen in the den of scum and villainy Fort Lopez had become was like seeing a beautiful rose growing up in the middle of a garbage heap.

So we left, but we weren't avoiding danger; we were taking the fight to the enemy! Father Johnson told us that there was a gate in the Happy Times mine which led to Trederra, the world of those three-eyed soldiers. We're though waiting for their next attack; we're going into their world and seeing what we can learn about them, about their weaknesses. I'm sending this journal to Washington, in case we don't make it back.

Director, I know it's hard to credit a lot of what I've written here, but as God is my witness, this is the truth! Please believe me, and please send more men to the Brimstone territory, as many as you can spare! This country can't afford another war so soon, and if we're going to nip it in the bud then we'll need the best people of the U.S. Marshal service here. Good-bye, and God bless!


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