Cliffhangers

On the Trail of Nebraska Dave's Treasure

April 1928

The entrepid adventurers exit the plane, weary from a long journey, and squint as they shield their eyes from the blazing sun bearing down on Lindbergh Field – as the airstrip in San Diego is soon to be named. How did it all start?

A cold and foggy day in London as many others have been, the cast sit in their offices with little to do. In the absence of Lord Winterbottom the daring expeditions are further apart these days. Could he really voluntarily be traveling the world trying to rekindle the flame with the lady Winterbottom? The radio is quietly humming today’s popular tunes and the kettle is whistling. The front office as always is empty since there is no receptionist hired and none of the menfolk dare suggest this would be a job easily handled by Susan with her abilities.

Tex recieves a letter from a place called Imperial, California. Inside is another letter, also adresses to Tex in London but it has been opened. There is a note attached. The innermost letter is from Tex’s old comrade-in-adventures – the treasure seeking Nebraska Dave. He writes that he finally did it, found the Big Score, well before Tex found anything worthwhile he wryly adds, and is now looking to buy land and retire as was always his dream. The second note is from Dr. Connor in Imperial relating that Nebraska was assaulted, beat up, and lies in a (plot related) coma. The only means of contacting next of kin was by opening the unsent letter to Tex. Tex knew Nebraska was an orphan and doubted there was anyone else. Well, time to pack the bags and haul theur collective backsides transatlantic-wise!

As the bags were off-loaded the cast were approached by a large, young man with a mustache introducing himself as Ron, sent by the doctor in Imperial to offer a ride in his truck. Well, it’s a mustache kind of morning and such people are trustworthy! Khamill as always called shotgun and the rest sat in the canvas covered back. Funny, Tex remembered he had not replied with an arrival time, so how did the clinic know to send Ron and when to?…
As time went by the driver was sweating and nervous, all of which Khamill failed to notice. As the truck took a detour to the old quarry (yep, just a stone’s throw away, you know), he told Khamill it was a stop for lunch. Suddenly he slammed the brakes and bolted out the door! Emerging from the back Tex and Susan were puzzled and intended to drive on. When surprisingly they found themselves under fire from riflemen perched at the top of the ridges. Unable to return fire with merely a pistol Susan took the footboard on the passenger side while Tex gunned the truck and gave chase to Ron. As the hood was riddled with bullets one was bound to hit something important, and right as you are the engine started venting steam. Great! Stuck in the desert, in an ambush, with a broken radiator! Even with every possible effort given the truck did not manage to run down Ron before he scrambled up the steep side of the path. Susan was at first sure she managed to nail him with a shot, but later realized she had hit a boulder instead.

Once out of the firng line they pulled over and as the opposition did not pursue they made makeshift repairs to the truck. Khamill found the map and considered his options: He was stuck in Prohibition USA with his single remaining bottle of booze. Even with minimal skills his assesment of their location was failry close to what Tex gleaned. Yet another thing Khamill was not caught be inept at, so the cast thinks he can read maps. Just like they in Congo thought he could track in the jungle. There was less than an hour to Imperial and the truck drove leasurely on. Soon after a dustcloud approaching from behind revealed the Sheriff’s car. Good, now the ambush could be reported! Khamill was by now drunk as a poet on payday and also somewhat queasy. He wisely chose to keep quiet and still as the archetypical, fat Sheriff came round. He asked their business, they told him they were lookin into Nebraska Dave’s situation. He was not at all amused and wanted no trouble. Instead of accepting a report of an ambush he instead wanted to press charges for stealing the truck. He said the cast could stay a few days and then leave. If they stepped out of line he’d be on them like a ton of bricks. Great! The cast were bound to get in trouble – real or imagined – whatever they did. Correctly guessed the county judge turned out to be the Sheriff’s cousin

Arriving in Imperial the small town was taken in. There was a service station, a tavern, a church, a general store, a diner, an infirmery, and the Sheriff’s office with the courthouse on the top floor. First stop was Dr Hudson at the infirmery. Elizabeth could only confirm what Doc Hudson said – there was no way of knowing when Nebraska would wake up. He had many broken bones as well as head trauma. He had been found beat up behind the tavern. The important thing to notice was the absence of his good luck gold dubloon he always carried around and flicked with his thumb. So whoever had assaulted him were bound to have this!

Next stop was the tavern. First Khamill argued futilely with the barkeep about booze until he realized he needed a permit from the Sheriff and pastor to buy alcohol for medicinal or religious purposes. The mustachioed hoodlum Ron was the youngest Pantone lad it turned out, and everybody fell out with them! Nebraska Dave had also spoken with “the Mexicans”. Tex rented the house Nebraska has stayed in, to ensure any leade of piece of in formation he’d had (and was not already lost) would be found. Slippery Pete as the service station was mentioned as being to go-to guy. As the truck was sent to repair by the mechanic Pete told he had procured things for Nebraska Dave, and could for us as well. He would not way what in detail, but it had been maps as well as books. He also said that Nebraska had a falling out with the Mexicans – father and son Joaquin and Ramon de la Cardena. Khamill tried a scam claiming his alcohol permit was accidentally sent to LA instead. This failed but pete promised to get him a fake permit. At the general store Khamill was goaded into buying a shotgun to replace the ones he was always losing, and fresh food was stocked up on. Finally, notes had been hung up all over town about the imminent flooding – due to the building of a dam of – certain areas north of town in 3 days…and it was already afternoon on the first day! So for plot related reasons it was obvious that the treasure was in the areas to be flooded.

At the rented house the door had been kicked in and the place ransacked. Maps were found but there were too many marks too insignificant to deduce anything from. The set of books on ships in Pacific USA from mid 1500s up until 1890 was missing the book covering M-N. A pair of stinking wellies were found, which Khamill with his extensive farming knowledge identified as having visited a pig sty. Between two floor boards the calling card of a “Jeweler Schwarz” in San Diego was located. Nothing untoward happened during the evening or night, except that Slippery Pete snuck ineptly round the trashcans during Elizabeth’s watch, bringing in Khamill’s permit which she did not give him until the next morning. He also told that Ramon played poker at the tavern each evening, that would have to be looked into the next evening.

In conclusion Nebraska Dave was looking for a treasure ship, most likely Spanish bearing Aztec gold and jewels, which had somehow sailed inland on a river and run aground. All low-lying places not currently covered in water were possible sites for this. He had also been round a pig farm, and had been looking into – or even actually had been – selling gold and jewels. Back in town to collect the truck Tex asked Pete about pig farmers. There were three: Ed Swanson at Thanksgiving Farms, who also raised turkeys. The Pantones as Happy Snout Farm, perhaps the largest. And finally little Patrick Peterson at Wandering Turtle Farm.

Khamill went to the tavern and used his fake permit to get booze from the barman’s wife. He was only allowed to drink while at the tavern, removing any alcohol was tantamount to smuggling and thus a Federal offense. He snuck the water out of his canteen and replaced it with booze. Later be bought a second canteen at the store to actually bring water, Tex commended him on his desert survival skills.

First stop was the Pantone farm, the truck was parked down the road and the cast snuck up to the barn/garage. Khamill and Susan stayed back to keep watch while Tex and Elizabeth snuck up to the main house. Inside the living room there were some maps and Tex went inside to pilfer them. Caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar Papa Pantone suddenly appeared with a double barrel shotgun. He angrily demanded to know what Tex wanted and who he was. Tex continued the angry line and said they had a bone to pick with Ron and his ambush at the quarry. Papa called in the hulking big Jim-Bob to cover Tex with the gun while he went to signal the rest of his brood with the triangle at the porch. In the meantime Khamill had snuck down to the pig pens to scout. as he heard the signal he saw two men haste to the house. He opened the gates and tossed inside a tear gas grenade hoping the pigs would stampede. it was not quite as dramatic but they did leave the pen. In the living room Tex momentarily confused Jim-Bob with a “look out” ruse and leapt over the coffee table – which collapsed – to punch out the hick. First jaw-ringing upeprcut failed to take out the big lad, but now the fight was too close to use the gun. One hard body punch richer Tex repeated his uppercut with better effect – Jim-Bob went out cold. Before leaving Tex went into the next room – Papa Pantone’s den – and found large wads of cash in the cupboard. Because it is dumb to become a criminal for peanuts he stuffed his pockets with the greenbacks, left through the window before any more pantones arrived. He haded for the truck with Susan and Elizabeth. The pilfered maps showed nothing but unimportant tool sheds, and Khamill was picked up on the way to the next farm.

Wandering Turtle farm was smaller but with a freshly painted house and new pig pens. Noone answered the door, because inside little Patrick Peterson was found dead – having been so for a week, tied to a chair, tortured, beated and kneecapped. To set a timeline Nebraska Dave was beaten 4 weeks to the day, so way before Peterson. His ledgers showed no special income but a sudden spending spree with a new batch of pigs and a new truck. The pigs were there all right, but starving and having succumbed to canibalism. The truck was nowhere to be seen. His plot of land bordered the places to be flooded so his farm would become more fertile with easier access to irrigation. The pig pens were being built with old, sturdy timber. very old, having been in a pile for quite some time. And it looked as if it could have been pieces of a ship at one time…So Peterson was in on the treasure, but how? He had found the ship pieces long ago, but only recently seen money. Did Nebraska see the timber and buy information from him? Were they partners? Did Peterson find the treasure himself? In that case, why did he act as if only finding a small sum and not just move away and start over a better place? And why then would Nebraska write he had found treasue? In any case it was likely this was the place Nebraska had visited in his wellies. And the money found at Pantone’s could have been what Peterson had left, stolen by them after killing him. But the Mexicans had to be involved as well. On to the last farm.

At Thanksgiving Farm the nice Ed Swanson told he’d never actually seen Nebraska Dave only heard of him, and that four months earlier Peterson’s pigs had died from a disease. He was surprised to see him actually have enough money to buy a new batch. Dr Hudson was also the local vet and as he had examined the pigs he was the next person to visit. There was some debate as whether to tell the Sheriff that Peterson had bought the farm.

In town the cast first visited Doc Hudson, who told that Peterson’s pigs had died from a virus brought in by a few pigs he added to his stock, from San Diego. Khamill became increasingly anxious since he had been poking around the pigs, and tried to entice the Doc to visit Wandering Turtle Farm. The Doc did not want to go unless summoned, and Khamill all but admitted to having been there. All the while Tex tried his best to make it sound as if they had not been there, refering to them having heard things from Swanson, because when the body was found it would be better to be less involved. In the end Doc Hudson was all but intimidated by Khamill into going.

Subsquently Khamill went to drink. Tex went to the general store to call Jeweller Schwarz in San Diego. Elizabeth went to the courthouse to see if anyone had made recent purchaces of land to be flooded, or if there had been any expropriation. Meanwhile Susan decied the conversation with the Doc had been so insinuating that she went to the Sheriff to fess up that Peterson had been found dead! Thanks a lot, now the cast were bound to get in trouble with conflicting stories. The Sheriff took a report and locked Susan up – as witness or suspect – until the judge came back from his hunting trip. Elizabeth found nothing seriously suspicious with land sales or purchaces, only that a few people – Including Judge Porter – obviously with insider knowledge made a wad from buying worthlesss land ahead of time and selling at a premium once the news of the plans to flood got out. Plus she got some juicy local gossip from the nice lady at the office, primarily about who was cheating on who. Tex called Jeweler Schwarz and was sufficiently vague and claimed to be Nebraska Dave “calling to check up on the status of the case”. Schwarz said there had been no other black pearls sold than the ones Peterson sold recently, and the the Mexicans had also checked up on this. Aha, so the treaure was pearls! And the wetbacks knew about it.

Meeting up outside the tavern – except Susan who was waiting for her phone call to get her fathers’s mob lawyer in NY on the horn – the cast saw Ramon de la Cardena on the upper floor balcony flipping a gold dubloon nonchalantly and asking for new money…err…faces…at the poker table this evening, as most locals had already lost their money.

CLIFFHANGER!!!

By now Maxi and Olaf emerged from their deep sleep in “The Ol’ Steamer Trunk”. A plan was brewing to bust Susan out of the slammer and foil the opposition. In such a small town it was almost mandatory to use horsepower to yank the bars out of the window (and possibly rip out the entire wall…). In the roaring 20s this should b a truck rather than horses, and Olaf remembered the bit about the Pantones having a truck in their barn. And then clobber Ron pantone as revenge for his earlier ambush, put him in the truck and crash if following the bust – in order to frame the sucker. In retrospect actually doing this would have done wonder for the finding of clues and the investigation but without doubt fouled up a lot of things.

Anyway there was a poker game, which Tex and maxi went to, using the stolen pile of Pantone money (which originated from Patrick Peterson’s sale of the black pearls). The game was joined by Judge Porter and a very nervous Ron Pantone! Only the dealer was allowed inside the private saloon with the gamers. Khamill and Elizabeth stayed on the adjacent balcony. Both father and son Cardena played, and Tex came off to a good start. Ron was playing very defensively and was obviously both working for Ramon Cardena as well as being forced to play for borrowed money. Judge Porter was the first to be cleaned out, but Maxi sportsmanlike loaned him his own winnings and he continued. The innkeeper came in and whispered something to Joaquin Cardena and he excused himself for important business.
Outside Oloaf had arranged himself a balloon for the next day at noon, to fly oevr the desert and try to find the treasureship. A lot of people were apparently coming to town to see the flash flood, among others a balloon guy from San Diego. Suddenly three cars arrived and out of each three big guys in the same sorts of suits got out. Slippery Pete found out they were Pinkertons – private detectives and enforcers, known for their violent to the point of lethal response to strikes and demonstrations. Six of them went into the inn, the other three drove away in the cars.
In time most players got cleaned out. First off Ron who went all in for the big risk-big gain but lost big time. Two Pinkertons intercepted Ron and took hi to a room, he was obviosuly shaken. By now things went the wrong way for Tex, Ramon shoveled one big pile after another to his side, and eventually Maxi was cleaned out too, and was told to leave. Tex was sure Ramon was cheating, he only had to spot it. Judge Porter opted out as Ramon indicated he needed to speak with Tex alone. He wanted to ow what their business was, and Tex told him it was about Nebraska Dave. Ramon merely mentioned it was a pity but he had it coming. Finally Tex had a good hand but even that was not enough and Ramon grabbed the pot. Unfortunately he now had the upper hand, and started playing with Nebraska’s gold dubloon to make matters worse. He offered a game where the stakes were answers to the Nebraska case versus tex leaving town. Tex lost that as well. FInally Ramon offered the ‘Tijuana Takeoff’ where Tex stood to loose the clothes on his back versus 2 questiosns answered. Bring none too attached to material things Tex took the bait but concentrated on spotting the cheat. As the dealer finished the two piles of cards Tex toomk Ramon’s cards instead and this was accepted. As the dealer nervously went to put on a record Tex heard the tell-tale metallic sound of a gun! Ramon was also known as a master gunfighter in Tijuana, so Tex went for the old Flippin’ Table tactic. As he got to his feet Ramon was only momentarily hampered by the table, not knocked over, but it was enough to delay the shot. Tex whipped out his own piece and the classic Mexican Standoff occurred. Not for long tough because Ramon was twitchy and Tew made a shot for his arm. Ramon opted to twist into cover of the upended table. Tew not followed through with a slam to the table and half-way pinned Ramon beneath it.

At this time the shot alerted Maxi adn he ran in Luger at the ready. Khamill also made for the room but two Pinkertons followed on Maxi’s heels. Tex lowered his gun and he and Maxi were shown the door by the Pinkertons who needed a serious word with Ramon. Regrouping outside Tex was tossed the gold dubloon by the Pinkerton’s leader Rutherford up from the balcony. Khamill tried to get in but was told to get lost, and eventually got the message after four Pinkertons came to flex their muscles. Olaf found a ladder and crept up int he darkness to the upepr story windows to peek inside, avoiding the sporadic Pinkerton guards. as Ron had not left he inn he must still be inside. As he was alone in a room and not under guard Olaf sprung him and the cast regrouped in the rented house.

Ron was by now willing to tell the story, although he was downplaying his own part in it obviously. Nebraska Dave had arrived first and started to poke around, and not until Patrick Peterson had sold the two pearls did the Cardenas get wind of the treasure. It was normal for ousiders and townies to come looking for the big score, but this was more serious. The Mexicans came to town alone and hired the Pantones as muscle. Yes, they beat Nebraska but there was no motives of getting information. Ron also admitted they went to ‘prepare’ Peterson but he was alive when they left, it was the Mexicans who interrogated, tortured, and killed him. The Cardenas were angry the Pantones took the cash and the new truck from Peterson’s farm. Ron hoped to go to Papa Pantone and borrow this money to pay his bedt to Ramon, but sadly this was impossible as Tex and Maxi had lost it all in poker. Ron went to hide with Betty, because her husband was away. This also answered the question of who Betty was canoodling with, a conundrum Elizabeth was introduced to whiel speaking with the Judge’s secretary.

So in conclusion Peterson had found and sold two pearls and this alerted the Mexicans. But Nebraska Dave was also investigating this angle and had possibly not been working with Peterson. But the Mexicans did not have tresure yet, or else they’d long gone and not give a rat’s arse about the cast. So they had the same time pressure! The jailbreak was cancelled as Maxi felt he had a god change of negotiating Susan’s release by way of his friendly connections with Judge Porter. Also it could be hinted that his insider knowledge and subsequent speci├║lation in land could hurt his career. Even though the Cardenas may have had Nebraska’s clues to finding the treasure it was deemed to risky to try a break in after springing Ron. Even with the clues it would be hard to pin pioint the treasure, and following the Mexicans by way of balloon seemed the best course.

Maxi’s negotiations were only partly succesfull, as the Judge demanded 1/8 of the treasure for himself and the same for his cousin the Sheriff to let Susan go and get away clean. Otherwise he would send her to the Mexicans as a hostage for a lump sum and let treasure be treasure. Insinuating his insider deals could hurt his career was to no avail since the real culprit was the person higher up the chain who leaked the information. Coincidentally the same person who could prosecute the Judge, so this went nowhere. Maxi accepted. The conversation was not a complete loss as the Judge let slip that the Nexicans desperately needed the treasure, as their Tijuana business was failing. And how then dd they afford expensive Pinkertons? If they came to collect debt it would explain how they had acted around Ramon after the poker game/gun fight.

Afterwards the cast finaly realized the only place left with even a slight chance of a clue was Peterson’s new truck which the Pantones lifted. It had been ignored because he obviously boght it after having found and sold the pearls. And pigs. However he had been going back to salvage timber from the wreched ship to build the new pig pens after having bought the truck. The barn was easily snuck up to and a few boards removed in order to slin inside unnoticed and avoid the sentry at the farmhouse porch with ubobstructed view of the barn doors. The truck was having the engine fiddled with as was not ready to run, good thing there had not been a plan for a jail bust where this was the vital part! Under the seat Susan found a map with several notes and markings, and also noticed the truck’s trip counter had not run very far. Noting the numbers she intended to do the math after they got away. By now Khamill had wandered to a workbench and was suddenly close to the ledge of the hayloft, when suddenly a Pantone sprung up with a shotgun. Covering Khamill he called out for Papa…

CLIFFHANGER!!!

Due to logistics there was yet again a change of cast members: Olaf, Khamill, Maxi and Elizabeth all crammed into the increasingly overfilled “Ol’ Steamer Trunk”, and a slightly confused Wilfred emerged. Once filled into the deails he was fully onboard. Tex for some reason switched places with Khamill on the floor and was thus the subject of the Cliffhanger.

As Tex dove for cover back under the edge of the hayloft the as yet unnamed Pantone lad blasted his twin barrels of buckshot at Tex’s contrails. A woman’s scream was heard from the hayloft and the Pantone guy was obviously up there fooling arund with his floozey. Susan started telling him off in the hardest phrases her Italian could muster, and it threw him off for a second. Wilfred made for the hole in the wall, followed by Susan and finally Tex left as well after firing a .45 ACP up through the floorboards to send the Pantone into cover. With the limping Wilfred the flight from the farm up to the truck parked on a back road took quite a while. But since the raid had been during the daytime feeding time at the pigfarm the Pantones took a while to muster the pursuit.

Once the truck was rolling the dustcloud behind showed trouble brewing. A road among some hills was chosen for am ambush point but Tex’s bad luck betrayed his driving skills and the truck engine groaned to a halt halfway up the hill. Susan was on the canvas covered bed of the truck to get the rifles when this unscheduled stop (well before the good cover for the ambush) ruined those plans. Wilfred took cover to one side of the road, with his trusted Webley in hand and saw the Pantone truck speeding up the hill. Susan handed Tex his Winchester and went into cover herself. Tex took a short aim and sent a duo of shots at the driver. The Pantone truck failed to stop and rammed the cast’s defunct truck ruining both in the proces. And then both started rolling painfully slow back down the slope. Tex approached it and saw blood on the windscreen and a slumped over body at the wheel. One after another Pantones crawled out with revolvers in hand but dropped them at the sight of the Winchester. When suddenly autofire from inside the truck ripped the canvas cover and a single bullet nailed Tex. Susan returned fire while Tex took every effort to remain standing. Wilfred appproached from his side and seconds later saw a figure crawl off the truck, taking his time to aim a shot he took out his opponent cleanly. Once able to focus again Tex shot back through the hole int he canvas, and then everything was quite. Both he and Susan had clipped poor ol’ Jim-Bob.

The two disarmed Pantones ran off and the cast let them. As Susan patched up Tex Wilfred assessed the wrecked trucks and decided that even with his low march speed it was not viable to try and fix a ride but better to trek the full hour to town. There was a still a few hours until the balloons were ready and some undefined time until the water came flooding the areas. Susan snateched Jim-Bob’s Tommy Gun, took advantage of the commonly used .45 ACP round and topped off the almost empty drum from Tex’s rapidly depleted ammo box. The maps found in Patrick Peterson’s truck and liberated from the Pantones were studied while walking. With Olaf out of the game Wilfred as aviator planned the route across three major points of interest pinpointed on the map within the small area Peterson’s new truck with the low number of miles traveled could have visited.

The balloon guy gave Wilfred instructions and Slippery Pete went along for the ride. At the first site there was a small mishap with the gas burner and one tank had to be ditched. The emergency landing was rough and Wilfred needed some time to get the balloon ready again. A quick search revealed wreckage from the treasure ship but not nearly all. Susan and Tex trekked for the second site and Wilfred was to catch up when the balloon was ready again. But even before they were out of sight Wilfred found a hollow space covered in boards and signalled by firing his revolver into the air. Below the sand was a vertical shaft covered by boards and shored up with timbers from the ship.

Tex crawled down first, the shaft was about 24 meters deep with platforms for resting at the third-way points. However care was taken to not touch these as their structural integrity was unknown. At the bottom a passage shored up with more timber led down a slight incline. After almost stepping on a tripwire set to pull out the support pillars and cause a cave-in the cast came to a few carved steps leading to the cave where the ship’s crew has stashed the cargo. The name plaque read “Montego” and the captains log told it was a Portuguese caravel. Near the fancy figurehead the treasure chest with the 100 pounds of black pearls were found, and quickly distributed into the packs of the three adventurers. Skeletons of the sailors showed them to have been shot in the chest. For further archaeological proof the log book was brought along and using the plaque as a sled the figurehead was hauled back up the passage.

Suddenly sounds were heard from up the shaft and leaving the figurehead a dozen steps down the passage Tex crawled quietly up, and stopping at the topmost platform only 8 meters from the top he heard voices in Spanish and Slippery Pete being beaten up. Ramon peeked down and a difficult negotiation began. He felt the treasure was his and he wanted it or else he’d drop down a few grenades. Tex felt there was no guarantee the cast would ever get out alive anyway and tried to appeal to his sense of pride and goad him into a fair fight. Meanwhile Wilfred climbed quietly up the supports of the shaft walls and Susan tied the packs to the rope. Ramon retreated from view and Tex begun climbing the last stage, with Wilfed about half way up. When Ramon reappeared he was angry about having his honor questioned and threw down two grenades before reterating again. Tex sped up his ascent, Wilfred warned Susan below who quickly picked up the grenades and hurled them down the passage. As she toook quite a blast anyway and was deafened the more distant Wilfred got off more easy and valiantly hung on to the wall.

Topside Tex was just clearing the lip of the shaft when the explosions sent up smoke and sand. A quick assesment showed two Pinkertons with baseball bats at the far side of the shaft, a third agent with Ramon further away beating poor Pete, and a fourth one as lookout. Two cars were parked to one side. Momentarily blinded the two closest Pinkertons were delayed in running in opposite directions around the shaft just long enough for Tex to get his M1911 ready and start the shooting. The first agent was nailed well and good, and fell down the shaft. He narrowly missed the still struggling Wilfred and surprised poor Susan by going splat at the bottom. As Tex shot the second one just as he was within striking range of the bat Susan noticed perhaps too late that the passage was caving in, and the walls of the shaft were beginning to collapse as well.

Ramon bolted for the balloon and the Pinkerton with him charged the still prone Tex, this was Rutherford their leader. As Tex missed with his last remaining shot Rutherford connected solidly with Tex’s ribcage. Wilfred finally made it up and engaged him with his cane, as his Weblet had not been reloaded after signaling with it earlier. Susan spent too much time double checing then the packs were still tied to the rope and the falling debris was accumulating faster then she could clear it! Without someone pulling the rope from topside she was certainly doomed! But Wilfred and Tex were still fighting Rutherford. Tex grappled him by the legs, and after his blow at Wilfred was deflected he dove into the dog pile while recieving a solid whach from Wilfred’s cane.

So, as Tex and Wilfred fought the Pinkerton leader right at the edge Susan was in grave peril down the collapsing shaft. The fourth Pinkerton on lookout cried out as the horizon showed an approaching storm…or perhaps a flash flood? An explosion sounded from where Ramon had run to the balloon…

CLIFFHANGER!!!

This week there were no switches, but retroactively the second balloon hovered over the pit, steered by Khamill and Elizabeth. Olaf – the Norwegian balloon skipper – still snoozed inside the Ol’ Steamer Trunk.
Wilfred let Tex fight on his own and stepped to the edhe of the pit to help Susan. He directed Khamill to drop one end of a role down from the baloon and Elizabeth dropped some altitude. Meanwhile Tex and Rutherford were still engaged in an increasingly futile wrestling match where the upper hand kept changing but nothing conclusive was ever performed by either side in order to end the fight. Susan wrapped the rope around her wrists and Wilfred directed the baloon up again, as Khamill slid down the rope to join the fight. Meanwhile the explosion heard previously was in fact the other baloon being destroyed by another grenade from the dastardly Ramon, who fled in on of the trucks he and the Pinkerton’s had arrived in. Once Khamill hit solid ground the baloon had suddenly been freed of an immensely large ballast and susan was yanked free. Wilfred had a free moment to slap Rutherford across the back with his cana once more, but to no avail. Elizabeth was aiming her large rifle at the fight, and a few seconds later severed Rutherford’s arm, giving Tex a breather.
Satisfied with the fight ended Khamill went to try and pull up the rope with the treasure filled packs tied to an end, but not even his bear-like physique could move the mound of sand pushing down on it. With no time to spare Tex and the finally rescued Susan bolted tot he other truck and gave chase to the Mexican. As the flash flood was approaching fast the balloon was once again descended to allow Wilfred and Khamill access. Luckily the wind bore them towards town.
In a daring manoeuvre Tex pushed the truck to the very limit of speed across the rutted desert floor and caught up quite well with Ramon’s truck. Soon after they realized he had the last Pinkerton driving and showed off his skills as Tijuana’s best marksman, narrowly missing Susan several times. Dust clouds sraight ahead were approaching from town, vehicles no doubt – but who was stupid enough to drive towards the flood? Just as Tex drove within pistol range and Susan nailed Ramon, but could not confirm a kill, their truck lurched to one side and suddenly Tex was playing chicken with a sedan! Both sides dodged to the same side and the crash was inevitable. The truck flipped on one side and stopped, revealing that Slippery Pete has been hiding on the bed. The sedan crashed into a sand dune and was stuck. It was the Judge coming to protect his investment – seeing as Maxi had promised a part of the treasure to ensure Susan’s freedom. Relieved of his gun by Tex he hastily agreed to a new deal: A lift in a baloon was worth a clean slate and nothing owed or remembered. Susan was quick to ask for $5.000 which he later actually had taken seriously and paid to her.
Once again the inept ballooners managed to drop altitude for just long enough to pick up the stragglers and lift off missed by the rushing waters by a hair’s breadth. As the waters covered the small mound at the treasure site the prepared barrel-on-a-rope neatly bopped to the surface, gently mocking everyone in the know that here lies a treasure which nobody can get their hands on.
Once back in town the Judge honored the deal and there was no sign of the Mexicans. Back at the clinic Nebrasks Dave had recovered fully from his plot-related coma and injuries. As Tex showed him the captain of Montego’s signet ring and seal – as the only thing recovered from the treasure site – Dave was happy to just know he had been right. A true adventurer at heart it was not about the money. He already had another good lead for a treasure in Africa.

And thus concludes the daring adventure On the Trail of Nebrasks Dave’s Treasure.

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