Deadlands Reloaded: Lost in the Maze
The War to End All Rail Wars
Every clang of hammer upon spike and every rail fastened to the earth takes us one step closer to all-out war. The armies of the rail barons are converging on Lost Angels, and who’s going to win the race is still anyone’s guess. Bayou Vermilion and Dixie Rails forge across the treacherous Mojave Desert, , while Iron Dragon lays track from the Pacific Northwest. Union Blue and Black River, operating on Denver-Pacific lines, are also moving troops into place.
Only Wasatch seems destined to fall short of a transcontinental line. We last saw Dr. Darius Hellstromme’s operation in 1877, just before their crews vanished into the great morass of the Rocky Mountains, laboring to blast their way through—-some say excavate under—-that most formidable barrier. Trouble is no one has seen them since. Most are in consensus that Wasatch has all but conceded its defeat, as we at the Epitaph have reported since last year.
No matter which rail baron reaches Lost Angels first, the others won’t be pleased. As the so-called “Great Rail Wars” come to a head, the West Coast will see total war, the ferocity of which not even our recent War Between the States can equal. When the rail barons attempt to push into Lost Angels, and Reverend Grimme endeavors to hold back the tide and enforce his Edict of ’77, history will be written in letters of fire and blood.
The Confederacy and Union maintain significant military presences in the Maze, but neither has the resources to get involved in a fight for Lost Angels. After years of logistical adjustment and personnel transfers, their chains of command are in disarray. During a drawn-out conflict, expect them to hunker down and let their proxies—Union Blue and Dixie Rails—do the fighting.
Santa Anna’s Revenge
None of this even begins to account for the single greatest military threat facing the Great Maze—the long-anticipated invasion by Santa Anna. Mexico’s got a fleet superior to that of the bluebellies or the rebs, and an army ten times the size of anything the North or South could assemble on short notice. Most importantly, Santa Anna’s been quietly moving that army into position for the past two years, eliminating California’s isolated points of resistance with devastating night raids.
It’s the Emperor Maximillian, through Santa Anna, who wields the power to utterly change the face of the Maze. He’s still smarting over the loss of Texas, and eager for payback. With starvation and malnutrition as rampant in Mexico as they are in the Maze, pressure mounts on Santa Anna to invade.
Ominous tales persist that Santa Anna’s army isn’t composed exclusively of old-fashioned conscripts. Refugees fleeing Mexicali report that in addition to his conventional troops, Santa Anna commands a terrible “Army of the Night” that attacks with peerless savagery and can never be defeated. Only time will tell, but it won’t be long now given recent reports of Mexican troop movements.