Deadlands Reloaded: The Righteous, The Rough, and The Clever
Clover Mesa is a mesa that has been broken into four parts (in a vaguely clover shape). Before the quake that broke it apart, it had a town named Manitou Bluff.
For most of 1876–’79, Manitou Bluff enjoyed a universally foul reputation. “The Bluff,” as some folks called it, got its proper name from Indian legends claiming the area was haunted. The majority of residents were just common thieves, outlaws, murderers, and the sorts of people referred to as “lowdown varmints” in polite company. But persistent rumors insinuated there was a reason Manitou Bluff’s populace was so notably ornery—some of them were dead.
No one could say how many residents were actually dead—or rather, undead—but judging by pure meanness witnesses swore at least half of them were. This reporter visited Manitou Bluff only once, in late 1878, and I can report that the rumors are at least partly true. Yes, Reader, I saw with my own eyes dead men who walked, talked, and ate copious amounts of meat—mostly beef. While not the most terrifying experience I’ve endured, it ranked among the worst in recent memory, and thus was not repeated since. Either the living inhabitants of Manitou Bluff were just as bloodthirsty and depraved as their unholy drinking companions, or they got that way over time.
The town’s population, unlike its notoriety, only grew in fits and starts. Several reputable businesses opened their doors, including a livery, gun shop, variety theater, and so forth, and they even built a church as well as a clock tower with public funds. There was a lot of high-minded talk about bringing the light of knowledge to darkness.
But tensions—along with sporadic, bloody violence—between the new arrivals and the ruffians remained constant. The office of marshal was rarely filled, and even when it was, the law was relatively powerless to bring reform. This was pretty much the state of things until late 1879, when Hellstromme’s bombs went off at Lost Angels and everything changed.
Bluff No More
By all accounts, the town of Manitou Bluff was ravaged by earth tremors during the Battle of Lost Angels in September, 1879. As all the Rail Barons’ forces battled for the privilege of marching into the city to make a deal with Reverend Grimme—and secure at least one national ghost rock exporting contract—black airships appeared against the eastern sky, buzzing like hornets. Their deadly payload consisted of three “ghostfire bombs,” which struck the battlefield with unholy Hell-fire.
Only moments after the billowing, skull-shaped clouds rose up on the eastern horizon, a sudden quake hit the mesa on which Manitou Bluff perched. The ocean churned, a great spasm shook the earth, and the mesa tore into four parts, swallowing up people and buildings alike with a mighty roar. Walls of seawater rushed in to fill the new channels, and the shattered ruins of Manitou Bluff were consigned to a watery grave.
Most folks considered it good riddance to evil trash.
A Cloven, Clover Mesa
Life didn’t flag in its hectic pace after the earthquake. More to the point, neither did commerce. It wasn’t long before Manitou Bluff began to garner interest from a variety of powerful factions. Unsurprisingly, that interest was due to the usual reason why a particular mesa gets recognized in the Maze—ghost rock. Heaps and heaps of ghost rock.
Mere weeks after the quake split it open, curious prospectors landed on the newly shattered mesa to find whatever they could salvage for a profit. As the popular tale goes, a tinhorn from Back East took one look at the four regions of the mesa and exclaimed, “Well, I’ll be! It’s like a cloven mesa—cloven into four parts!” To which a salty West Coast miner replied, “The hell it is, mister! It’s a clover mesa—a four-leafed, lucky
A spirited yet brief fistfight ensued, leaving the miner victorious. Thus the name of Clover Mesa was ensconced in popular lore, while that of “Cloven Mesa” was sent Back East on the Plutonian Express along with its disgraced, bruised originator.
Soon it was widely known that the middle of Clover Mesa consisted of an enormous lode of ghost rock, lying at the bottom of the flooded crater left by Manitou Bluff’s destruction. Though the precious ore lay under 30 feet of shark-infested Maze waters, few factions were deterred from what they viewed as enough raw wealth to rule the Great Maze.