I am very happy,proud and pleased to share the first two Chapters of "The Posse".
C.Q. Scafidi and I have been working on this project for a while and I am glad we are releasing it this Tuesday,December 15th.
Who and what is "The Posse"?
Below you will find the synopsis as well Chapters 1 & 2. If you are kind enough to take the time to give it a read,please leave a comment for us.We would enjoy your feedback.
The Posse. Stealth, Swift and Sure was their motto.
Frontier justice was their mission.
Secrecy was their modus operandi.
They were Three West Point graduates with a single mission, to eliminate corruption and injustice wherever it was found, with the clandestine assistance of their handler back at West Point, General Milton Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was decorated, respected, and in charge of the most secretive law enforcement body of the time, exacting justice and dispensing punishment without court oversight, using technologies still unknown to the common man, across the entire frontier.
Near Wichita, Kansas, 1859
Colonel Aubrey Adelman just stared at Justice, glaring, hoping to bore a hole through him. Samuel Winchester's chains bound him from head to toe.
"Justice, you are a mockery to the Title! Sentencing me to "Life" at Castillo de San Marcos Prison is an abomination. You know I deserve to die! Everybody KNOWS I deserve a bullet to the head or the gallows. You are a spineless mealy worm. I knew that at The Point and know it now. You are nothing but fluff and bluster. Do the job you were sent to do boy!" He screamed at the top of his lungs at Justice. His futile efforts to commit suicide fell on deaf ears.
Justice was a stone. Standing his full height of 6 feet 5 inches without his hat, he slowly pushed his duster past the handles of his six-shooters; he was the picture of calm in the storm. One may say he was Zen looking for a gunslinger in the mid-1800's, placid, content and at peace with all that was around him.
"Colonel, you are a coward and a fraud. You are a disgrace to the uniform. You manipulated your daughter and killed innocent God-fearing men, women, and children. You have slaughtered innocent native people from many Tribal Nations, and imprisoned not just Sam, but many others wrongly. Far too many a human being has suffered and lost their lives because of you. For this, I have sentenced you to life in prison without any chance of parole. I want you to suffer as long and hard as you can to understand the depths of the misery you have heaped on others. Do you feel any remorse at all for these crimes against humanity? Have you made it right with your maker?"
There was a painful, excruciatingly long and pregnant pause between the two men. Neither men were blinking or looking away; their eyes were locked.
The Colonel broke the silence, "Justice I knew what I did when I did it. I made my choices, and I was comfortable with them. I am an educated man driven by an ambition that turned to thirst and hunger for power. As much as I had, it was never enough. So if you are asking me if I have any regrets, the answer is a quick and easy, No. God will have to understand that if he wishes to allow me past the pearly gates. If he doesn't, well then I guess I made my deal with the Devil and the lake of fire. No jail on this planet is going to beat what may await me there."
With that a whimsical smirk came over the placid face of Justice as in one smooth motion, he drew both of his pistols and fired in unison.
"Hey Justice, wake up," Shadow tried to nudge Justice awake, "we are arriving over our destination." Through sleepy eyes and the darkness of night, Justice could see the lights of post-war 1865 New Orleans in the distance. The sound of the steam engine pumping and rudders turning grew louder as the airship began to descend. The sight of the hissing and clacking contraption was ominous. The average person to catch sight of it would think it came from the planet Mars. Well before its time, this steam-powered airship was just one weapon in the arsenal of The Posse. Stealth, Swift, and Sure was their motto. Frontier justice was their mission. Secrecy was their modus operandi. They were three West Point graduates with a single mission, to eliminate corruption and injustice wherever it was found, with the clandestine assistance of their handler back at West Point, General Milton Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was decorated, respected, and in charge of the most secretive law enforcement body of the time, exacting justice and dispensing punishment without court oversight, using technologies still unknown to the ordinary man, across the entire frontier.
Justice looked over at Sam, who was staring out of a porthole at the vast Lake Pontchartrain and the flickering lights in the distant City of New Orleans. He kept his satchel close to his side, spinning the gold ring on his left hand. She had died in childbirth, and Sam was dealt yet another blow. Through all of his challenges in the past years, the one thing that had kept him going was his desire to reunite with the only woman he had ever loved. It worried Justice sometimes that Sam might not be up for what lay ahead because the grief he was enduring. Sam suddenly jerked his head around and spoke directly at Justice, "What are you staring at?" Sam growled as if attempting to provoke a heated response. Justice recognized he may have just invaded a private moment for Sam. "I'm sorry, Sam, I was just checking out the view out of your porthole window."
Sam, suddenly remembering himself, apologized and sat back to give Justice a better view. Sam was grateful to the two men for allowing him to join them in their work to eradicate the kind of corruption and injustice that had caused his troubles in the first place. Sure, he had dreamt of escaping to California, starting a family with Emmaline and designing bridges for the Union army. He had never expected he would be putting his engineering expertise to such a different use, but he was glad to be the newest addition to the team.
"We'll land this behemoth of an airship in Saint Bernard Parish, south of the city. We can take the route the British took into the city during the Battle of New Orleans along the Bayou Bienvenue. We will hide the "Union Flyer" in the back bayous using the camouflage and mirrors that give us invisibility made possible by Sam and his onboard team," Shadow stood up as he spoke to the two men. Justice and Sam both sat up in their seats and paid close attention as Shadow laid out the initial plans, short and long-term goals of the mission and any other information that would be necessary to ensure stealth, swift and sure. "General Cavanaugh has been in touch with the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. As you may already know, this is the first regiment of freedmen of color serving the Union Army in New Orleans. Our communiqués from General Cavanaugh indicate that there is a grave threat to the Colored infantries forming in New Orleans, and he wants to ensure they are allowed to continue enlisting new members. They are an effective fighting force and will most certainly be needed on the frontier in the coming years."
"How is he getting his intelligence?" Justice asked from his seat on the airship.
Constant communication? Sam wondered to himself. Even the Telegraph takes time to send and receive. Did Shadow have a telegraph machine that he carried with him? Sam still had much to learn.
"Who are the men that comprise these groups and where are these groups gathering? It should be easy enough to infiltrate," Sam asked as the three conferred in the darkness of the sumptuously appointed interior of this Victorian marvel of technology. The stateroom they occupied had plush red velvet seats, polished brass and bronze fixtures, tiled flooring. Various pipes for moving fresh water, steam, hydraulic fluid, and wiring ran along the sub flooring and the ceiling. The ship itself was part of an even larger cache of ultra-modern weapons, communications equipment, ground transportation, and logistical support, everything they needed to ensure success. Sam, the engineer, was to be the technology expert of the three men, Shadow, the scout, communicator, translator, decoder, diplomat, and Justice the enforcer, judge, jury, and executor.
"So these rebels like the nine pins do they?" Sam chuckled.
"Sounds more to me like they like the whiskey and the women, nine pins is just an excuse," Shadow smiled back.
"New Orleans is a good place for a man if he likes the ladies," Sam agreed. His thoughts drifted back to the kindness he had received at the hands of Madame Robicheaux and her daughter Magnolia. They were both dead now because of the deeds of men like those about whom General Cavanaugh was concerned. New Orleans for all of its alleged wicked ways was a city of good people. It was this patchwork of cultures, French, Spanish, English, Irish, German, Isleno, Colored, Native, men and women from all corners of the world, which came together to defeat the British in 1815 in what many call the last battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of New Orleans. If the future of the colored regiments were endangered by a secret group of men in New Orleans, then they were the right men to identify, occupy and dismantle this would-be lynch mob.
The hissing of the steam engines and the release of gasses from the balloon slowly brought the airship to the bayou canopy. An opening appeared below where two men were waiting with mooring poles to grab the lines that had been cast down to them. Once secured by the men the ship slowly descended to the water level where the vessel dropped anchor in Lake Borgne at the mouth of the Bayou Bienvenue. The water landing barely made a ripple on the lake and the engines had been silenced to ensure the stealth and secrecy of their mission. The ship was quickly covered in a sophisticated camouflage comprised of painted canvas, branches, Spanish Moss, and mirrors. Once the three were mounted on their horses, they took to the trail and were unable to see the Union Flyer after only a short few yards.
"Thank you, Justice," Sam replied, "I am quickly learning how General Cavanaugh and the folks back at West Point have spared no expense to ensure our missions are successful. They've got more than one trick up their sleeve to make sure the voice of dissent against the Union doesn't grow any louder. These men we are chasing have no idea what's coming their way."
Shadow interrupted the two men, "Jessup, Nathaniel Jessup. That is the man we are seeking. He is the leader of this underground group they call the Circle Clan. He was an actor friend of that John Wilkes Booth, and he comes from a wealthy Louisiana family."
The three continued in the darkness, passing the cemetery with the dead from both the War Between the States and the War of 1812. They finally made it to the old Chef Menteur Highway and just as the sun came up they could see the outline of the St. Louis Cathedral spires towering above the city in the morning light.