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A Job in Dawson


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The train slowly pulled away from the station, gaining speed beneath a sea of steam.

James watched the station slowly disappear from sight, and came to the realization that it would be the last Earth-side structure he may see. He laughed at the thought. The man tilted his head and eyes inward to the cabin. There were the standard fare; new workers, sent in by the Guild to work in Malifaux; Guild Guards, sent to watch over the new recruits (or victims, James thought, which would be much more likely); and a single man who sat in the seat opposite of James.

There was something different about him, as James looked him over. Sure, the mechanical arm and leg marked him out, but James had seen enough in his days to dismiss such superficial details. No, there was something about this man, an aura perhaps, that seemed to cling like him like death does to a corpse. James shuddered, and was about to turn away when the man himself turned and said, “May I help you?”

James shook his head. “No, sir. Just taking in my last few minutes Earth-side.”

The man nodded. “Yes, yes. But you won’t be missing it for long. Not when we get through the Breach.”

James nodded to the man. He had long wondered what the Breach looked like. He had heard stories, of course – that the Breach was in the shape of a demon’s laughing visage, or that it was a golden gate surrounded by angels and cherubs. James had scoffed at such stories. It was Guild owned, after all. More than likely whatever held the Breach open did its job, and didn’t cost any more then necessary. His silent reverie was broken by the man sitting next to him.

“I don’t think I asked for you name, did I?”

“James. James Halloway,” was the reply.

The man looked out onto the open desert outside the moving cabin. “Tell me, Halloway. Have you ever been to Malifaux before?”

Shaking his head, James replied, “No, sir. This is my first time through the Breach for me.”

The man leaned back in. James caught a scent of something rank – fetid, with a hint of the mechanical. Resisting the urge to pull away, James listened to the stranger’s next question. “And what, if you’ll pardon my curiosity, will you be doing there?”

James pulled the duster away from his thigh and patted the holster sitting there. Its twin sat on the opposite thigh, and both looked to be well worn from usage. Even the jeans James wore were white where the holsters had rubbed against them. Each of the holsters contained a Colt Peacemaker – surely an inferior model to the Guild’s Peacebringer, but the .45 caliber bullet still did well on flesh and bone. “Someone’s looking to hire some muscle for a mining operation out on the Wastes, near a town called Dawson. I’m taking the train to Fidelity, which should mean a half day’s hard ride.”

The stranger chuckled. “And I suppose you’re that muscle?”

The gunslinger – for there was no other name for his kind, Earth- or Breach-side – shrugged. “I’ll see what I have to do. If the pays good, I’m in. If not… well, there are plenty of ventures Breach-side. I’ll find something.

The man opposite of James became serious, his face a hard mask of unfathomable knowledge. “I’m very sure there will be.”

James was about to question the man on his statement when he was interrupted by an announcement over the cabin’s small speakers.

“Prepare for transit to Breach-side. I repeat, Breach-side in 30 seconds.

Edited by infinite_array
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My muse decided to grace me with her presence, so here is some more of 'A Job In Dawson'.


About to speak, James was again interrupted, this time by his companion in conversation. “You had best prepare yourself. Traveling through the Breach is not always a… pleasant experience.”

Frustrated, James merely threw his hands into the air and slipped back in the seat. There was a rising tension in the cabin. The workers looked nervous – surely the stories of life in Malifaux were resurfacing, tales of monsters and the undead quietly stalking through darkened streets and stagnant sewers. Even the guards looked nervous, but for them it was merely a routine transit. Sure, a prisoner or two would attempt to escape, maybe. But any hope of escape from the hell on the other side of the Breach was soon cut down by hot lead.

“Transit imminent,” reported the speakers.

James’s tangent of thought was lost as the cabin was suddenly drowned in an eerie electric-blue glow. James looked down at his own hands, and realized that the veins there were flooded with light. He looked around, and noticed that every other person in the cabin was the same; except for, not surprisingly now, for the man opposite of James. He was dark, not pitch black, but midnight green – black with the slightest taint of decay and death.

James opened his mouth the yell out a warning, but no sound would come.

The next moment saw reality restored.

“Transit complete. Welcome to Breach-side.”

James looked around the cabin. Several of the workers sobbed uncontrollably, and one simply stared straight ahead, his hair as white as fallen snow. James raised his hands. No longer did light flow through them, but as he watched, James saw a single blue spark jump from finger to finger.

When the old man sighed, James quickly brought his hands down. “It’s never the same thing twice,” stated the man. “Although, I suppose that is the effect of such powerful arcane doings.” James kept his peace, and the stranger was silent until they reached the train’s first stop.


James was held in wonder. Since the switch to Breach-side, the only terrain had been dark wastes with sand and boulder. But Malifaux was something completely different. He could tell where the Guild had set up. Those areas were well lit, and bustled with activity. The architecture reminded James of pictures he had seen in the newspaper, those that ran stories on European affairs. But every so often, the train would head into darkened areas. The guards would visibly tense, and James would have sworn to have seen the shadows themselves creep alongside the train. What little of the buildings that James could see here were unlike any he had seen before. There was something subtly wrong about them – as if the builders had worked in a different frame of mind then humans.

Eventually the train came to the proper station, and the speakers announced it to be so. The guards began to arose the new batch of workers, giving the ones who wouldn’t move a small beating, and carrying out those who refused in spite. The old man himself stood and looked down to James.

“Too often,” he started, “I forget that each and every man and women does have their own story to tell. Ambition,” he said, looking out into the station, “does have a way of clouding the mind.” He reached into a pocket on the inside of his coat, and produced a small stone. Even though it was the size of a man’s thumbnail, James could feel energy radiating from it. The stone seemed to pulse with a blue light. The man inquired, “Do you know what this is?”

Nodding, James replied, “Soulstone.” The word carried an unexpected weight, and James forced back the urge to choke. Even he knew of these mythical stones, the true currency of the world. Whoever held a Soulstone was someone to be reckoned, to be feared.

But the man did something James never would have guessed him to do. Slowly, grandly, the man reached out and took hold of James’s right hand. Lifting it, the stranger then placed the stone into James’s outstretched palm, and slowly curled back the obedient fingers. The man let go, and James’s hand dropped to his lap.

“Now, Mr. Halloway, your story has a chance,” the man exhaled.

The man turned and began to walk towards the door. A whistle sounded – the train was preparing to leave. A sudden surge of energy ran through James. It was almost as if the small rock in his hand was revitalizing him, giving him energy he had never known to have lost. James leapt to his feet, his mouth forming a question he hadn’t meant to ask, his voice giving life to something that shouldn’t have been.

“Who are you?”

The old man paused at the door, and half-turned his head. James shouldn’t have been able to hear the answer over the din of the station, but it rang clear in his ears.

“Leveticus.” And with that, the man stepped away into the crowd and was whisked away. The door closed, and the train slowly began to pull forward. James simply stood as another announcement sounded.

“Next stop, Fidelity station.”

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