The Quick and the Damned
Rayne Storm was born in 1860 in the Navajo lands in Northwestern New Mexico during a time of great turmoil. Her people, the Navajo, along with the Apache were under constant assault by Union forces. For most of Rayne’s life there was conflict with both Union and Confederate forces and the discovery of Ghost Rock only made it that much worse. The Navajo and Apache lands became critical for the flow of the precious new resource during the Civil War and Rayne’s tribe found themselves nomads as they were continuously displaced by soldiers, rail lines or banditos capitalizing on the Ghost Rock trade.
In 1875 at the peak of the Summer Rail Wars Rayne’s tribe set up camp in unsettled land about 40 miles south of Alma, New Mexico. Rayne would ride with some of the woman from the tribe to barter goods in Alma and they would often be there for days. It was during this time she met and befriended a scientist named Prof. William Fireson, a crotchety old man focused on researching ways to use ghost rock in miniaturized devices. For years Rayne would volunteer as the professors assistant helping him hunt for ghost rock and keeping his workshop straight. Occasionally he would pay her what small amounts he could but most of his money went to purchasing more Ghost Rock supplies for his experiments. Whenever Rayne was caught working with Fireson she would be disciplined by her tribe who were followers of the Old Ways. Rayne’s stubbornness and curiosity continued to propel her however and soon she was able to build devices of her own. An avid archer, Rayne focused her new knowledge in to building specialized arrows that she could use.
Early in 1880 Rayne’s tribe decided it was time to move on again. The tensions between the Navajo, Apaches and the settlers of Alma were reaching a feverish pitch and their Chief didn’t think it was safe for them there anymore. Rayne protested the move knowing it would take her from Prof. Fireson and her passion for invention. However, her protests only strengthened her Chiefs resolve as he emphasized it was important to get her away from Fireson who was corrupting her with the white man’s technology.
On the night before her tribe was to leave the area Rayne snuck away to go to Alma. Along the way she encountered a southern gentleman named Mister Styx who seemed to have a wonderful understanding of her situation. He showed compassion and had empathy and told her he too wanted to have other pursuits but was also bound by his duty. However, he had a solution for Rayne. Mister Styx could remove what he called the “cultural quicksand” that prevented her from being able to pursue her intellectual interests. He promised her if she made a deal with him nobody would ever prevent her from studying science and inventing devices again. All it would cost her was something she wasn’t using anyway, her soul. Rayne was reluctant initially but soon she gave in and she rode back to her tribe relieved knowing that she would be free to be whoever she wanted to be.
The next morning when Rayne woke she found that much of her tribe had come down with odd flu like symptoms. After a few days it was determined that Yellow Fever had taken hold of the tribe. Within the week every man, woman and child save for Rayne were at deaths door and word had spread to Alma of the outbreak. As Rayne looked upon her dying people she realized what she had done. “Nobody would ever prevent her from studying science again”. Of course not, the only people who cared enough to stop her would soon all be dead.
She didn’t even move when the soldiers rode out from Ft. Defiance wielding ghost rock flame throwers supplied to them by Prof. Fireson. The soldiers had been sent to ensure the Yellow Fever didn’t reach Alma. They found Rayne kneeling in the center of the camp with tears streaming down her face as the screams and cries of her burning tribe surrounded her. They quickly realized she didn’t have the Yellow Fever and was no danger to the town.
She didn’t even move when the Cavalry soldier ran her threw with his sword so as to not waste a bullet.
Weeks later the great “Alma Massacre” occurred when Apache and Navajo tribesmen rode in to Alma seeking vengeance for the death of Rayne’s tribe. Prof. Fireson has not been heard from since.