The glaring sun moved about as slowly as Kane did across the desert as the mountain man attemted to follow a trail some weeks old by folks practiced in the art of not being followed. Behind him, Wilhem and Jack sat in Wilhem’s Iron Horse, a flatbed truck whose tank-like tracks made for easier going over the harsh terrain. The pace quickened though as the three marshals could see a mesa in the distance and each knew that the trail would end there. Planting the accelerator, the Iron Horse lurched toward the tabled elevation and discovered that it was not only their trail that met its end here.
Ruins of an Indian camp were scattered in the shadow of the mountain. Tents, totem poles and other signs of life were blasted away. Bleached bones of the natives were strewn about and the cause of such devestation was embedded in a crater of earth, almost at the centre of the camp. It was a crumpled mass of sheet metal at the nose, but enough of the shape remained to confirm what had caused this: A bullet with the capability of holding three large men and equipment.
“Ithaca’s design,” Kane said and Jack agreed. “You can see the rifling marks on the case.”
The story became clear to the three lawmen. Whether by accident or design, Ithaca had fired its gun and the bullet had landed in the camp, killing what had to be at least half the tribe. The Indians decided to find justice or revenge by robbing the iron shipment and killing everyone thought responsible for slaughtering their friends and family. Kane, however, had a far simpler accounting of the situation.
“The Ithacans accidently shot their camp and then the Injuns got uppity.”
Wilhem, far from satisfied with Kane’s unsympathetic analysis and concerned that this would not be the end of the native’s recriminations, announced that the surviving members would have to found before white man’s justice finished off the tribe for good. Jack Lightning agreed, also adding that Ithaca might be more amenable if the iron shipment made it to Ascension and Kane commenced a search for where the Indians may have camped next. This wasn’t hard to find as, whether to shelter from further bombardment or simply because there wasn’t much choice for survival in the desert, the tribe had relocated into a cave at the foot of the mesa. Lighting his gaslamp, Wilhem, Kane and Lightning ventured into the dark tunnel.