Vision Quests are never 20/20

[[dfrpg|Joseph Cochise|Joseph]] decides that it is time to revisit one of the most ugly points of his past, something that he has actively been avoiding for most of his life. Nobody else is quite sure what to make of Joseph’s lack of explanation, but enough physical evidence points to somewhere West of [[wiki|Fort Laramie National Historic Site|Fort Laramie]]. Bryan, remembering [[dfrpg|Heinrich|Heinrich’s]] last airplane trip, wisely decides to get the agency to arrange for transportation on a military transport flight to [[wiki|Warren AFB|Warren AFB]] just west of [[wiki|Cheyenne, Wyoming|Cheyenne]].

The flight is mostly uneventful as is the short car ride to an abandoned ranch house just a few miles west of the original Fort Laramie. They read over the preliminary analysis from both the FBI’s drug lab and the [[dfrpg|Midnighter’s Club|Midnighter’s Club]]. The FBI’s chemical breakdown shows much the same ingredients as used in making meth, along with traces of LSD. Their conclusion is that this allows the user to be seemingly indestructible, when in fact they have taken mortal damage to their body. [[dfrpg|Randal Palmer|Randal’s]] own conclusion draws upon his personal insight and resources. He says that the drug contains part of a enraged warrior spirit, powerful enough to take over the mind and drive the body to kill and destroy.

The scene of the Crime

Although the land looks long abandoned, there is a sense of a malevolent watchful presence. Joseph stands facing the ranch house, while Heinrich and [[dfrgp|BryanMcDowell|Bryan]] search the rest of the outbuildings. Bryan discovers evidence of a 3/4 ton truck that has been here several times over the last months while Heinrich discovers a rope swing. Bryan then finds the remains of a relatively recent campsite just to the north of the house made by several horseback riders. Heinrich finds a red flower, a really big bug, a shiny yellow rock, and a little girl in a small nightdress standing in the doorway of the ranch house. Nobody else saw the little girl or is impressed with her rock.

Joseph finds himself walking towards the house knowing the terrors he will face, but finally ready to face them. His friends are concerned about his behavior and follow him inside. Once they pass through the threshold the house changes in appearance to what it must have looked like on that fateful day. A house that was once clean-scrubbed and well-maintained now is painted in blood. In the main room is the body of a young girl, still wearing her nightdress, her body hacked several times by a hatchet. Inside the read bedroom is an older man who shows all of the signs of dying hard to protect someone. There are over two dozen wounds all over his body from a hatchet as he stood his ground in the doorway. In the bedroom beyond is a young woman, just showing the early signs of pregnancy, her body hacked apart without mercy.

The sound of hundreds of crows cawing and taking flight draws everyone’s attention outside. It is deep night outside and there is a large bonfire outside casting a harsh light. Standing in front of the fire is a young man in a wolf’s mask yelling out a challenge to Joseph in [[wiki|Shoshoni Language|Shoshoni]]. Squatting down beside the fire is an older man in a chief’s headdress and a large bear claw tattoo. Joseph turns his back on the scene outside and instead squats down beside the mangled child and apologizes. He turn gets up and apologizes in turn to the man and young mother. When he lays his hand upon the mother’s belly he can feel a dark and malevolent spirit abiding within.

There is nothing he can do to sooth the spirit, so he asks Bryan to preform a baptism upon the unborn life. Bryan is not the staunchest Catholic, but with the help of some water Heinrich brought with her, is able to muddle through enough to ease the spirit’s passage. Joseph begins the [[wiki|Choctaw|Choctaw]] rite of death, but is interrupted by a peal of laughter from the main room. Everyone turns to see a auburn pelted [[wiki|Coyote (mythology)|coyote]] laughing with a human voice.

“You have to right to ease another’s suffering, your sins are too great and your attempts are cheapened by your own desire for forgiveness,” it speaks to Jospeh.

“I do what I can each day of my life to live as the great spirit intended,” responds Joseph.

“So he intended you to kill the defenseless and destroy your brother?”

“No man lives a life without shame and I am no different”

“I can take you to your brother. I can guide you on this path you have chosen.”

“How?”

“Join your friends as blood brothers and we shall go.”

Where it all went Wrong

Joseph, Heinrich, and Bryan each cut themselves and joined together. The coyote opens his mouth and Joseph puts his hand inside, just as the coyote bites down he remembers coyote is a trickster and never tells a straight truth.

When they next open their eyes everyone is standing in a field of tall prairie grass wearing clothes resembling the late 1800s. In the distance is a large Indian encampment surrounded by several dozen US Cavalrymen. Joseph recognizes this as the ghost dance where him and his brother were brought into this world. As they near the encampment they see a young man with auburn hair and yellow eyes sitting beside a fire attended to by four young women.

The Coyote told Joseph that he could stop the dance if he wanted, it would put an end of all of the pain and suffering he caused and both he and his brother could return to the hunting grounds. Joseph declines the offer, so Coyote has the women bring a horse for everyone so that the journey can continue.

As they pass from sight of the encampment the ground suddenly rises and their clothes change again to something from the early 1900s. Joseph explains that they are now climbing [[wiki|Gannett Glacier|Mount Gannett]] where he last saw his brother. When the travel becomes too steep for horses Joseph, Heinrich, and Bryan dismount and continue on foot. At the top of the mountain they face a young Indian man nearly the twin of Joseph, except for his long headdress and simple carved staff.

Joseph faces down accusations from his brother until he cannot take it anymore and flies into a senseless rage. When Heinrich sees that Joseph is going to lose she intervenes and places her body between the two brothers, while Bryan draws his gun and fires. The brother is hit in the stomach by the bullet and proceeds to bleed profusely. Joseph drops to his knees, mimicking his brother’s pose, and in nearly as much pain. From Joseph chest bursts a raven made entirely of shadow – it flies off in the distance as the sun sets casting the mountain into darkness.

When everyone can again see they are once again riding their mounts through a forest following Coyote. The Coyote offers some rather cryptic advice leaving everyone feeling as if things have not improved for Joseph. As they exit the woods they find themselves in WWI regalia looking down upon no-mans land between the [[wiki|American Expeditionary Force|American Expeditionary Force ]] and the [[wiki|5th Army (Germany)|German 5th Army]]. Flying overhead are four impossibly large vultures. The sound of a bugle splits the morning fog as the Americans exit their trench and charge the enemy hidden in the far forest.

As machine gun and artillery destroy the American soldiers, the vultures dive to attack the group. Heinrich and Bryan fight off the vultures who seem intent on attacking Joseph. Joseph looks over to Coyote for assistance, but the guide is already gone. With his friends easily handling the vultures, Joseph looks over the battle and sees Jack charging along with the rest of the unit. He remembers his battle and knows that Jack would have been killed if he did not pull him from the battle. Not willing to lose his friend he charges down into the battle, Heinrich and Bryan drive off the buzzards enough to follow him, thereby giving the dream strength over them.

The battle is a scene from hell with men dying under a hail of gunfire, explosions, and mustard gas. As each person joins with the reality they change into appropriate appearance. Finding herself as a man and wearing captain’s bars she blows on the whistle and yell the men forward. Bryan goes down so Heinrich picks him up and charges forward with him – right into a huge explosion that consumes them both. Joeseph sees Jack charging into the woods and although wounded hobbles after him. Entering the woods he finds himself exiting immediately looking at a 50s black Cadillac ragtop. Coyote, wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses, is at the wheel, while Bryan and Heinrich are sleeping in the back seat.

Lessons Learned

Joseph gets into the front passenger seat and Coyote drives down the road. Coyote seems disappointed, but stops in front of a diner. He gets out of the car and tell Joseph that he must face his failures with all that he has learned and seen, then he opens the trunk of the car and inside is a short spear. Joseph recognizes the spear and no knows what town he is in, it is where he was hunted down by Palmer and “captured” by the Midnighter’s Club. Coyote tells Joseph one final bit of advice. The spear is the key and it can only do three things: it can save your brother, it can save yourself or it can save your friends. Coyote then gets on a motorcycle and rides out of town. Joseph explains what transpired in this town the last time he was here and that over half of the town as destroyed and many lives lost. This time he intends to surrender to Palmer and spare their lives at the expense of his freedom.

Before Palmer arrives a large biker gang rides through town and stops in int front of the diner, their colors are  blood-red vultures on their black jackets. They demand the spear or they will destroy them and everyone in the town. Together Joseph, Heinrich, and Bryan attack the gang; however each time they think that they take one down he simply gets back up. They are holding their own against the superior number until Heinrich senses the pull of the blood in this town. Abandoning the fight she runs down the street towards the source, while Joseph and Bryan fight on.

The scene shifts.

Taken straight from an old west Cowboys and Indians movie. The Indians have come across a wagon train that has circled itself for protection. Heinrich and Joseph are attacking the wagon with the Indians, while Bryan is dressed as a Union soldier on the inside firing back. Only Joseph is free to act as he watches Heinrich dismount and charge straight towards Bryan who is bringing his rifle to aim. Joseph screams, “This is over!” and plunges the spear into his own hand. Everything turns white and when Bryan and Heinrich can see again they are back and Joseph is talking to his brother. They do not understand the words, but the meaning is clear. Their is sorrow but peace upon his brother’s face, while Joseph is clutching his bloodied hand.

When the brother fades from sight they walk out of the house and find a fire with four men around them. They are the spirit guides: Raven, Bear, Wolf and Coyote. They offer a good meal and will watch over them for the night. Come morning the four men are gone and each feels well-rested, except for Joseph who still cannot get his hand to stop bleeding. The exact details of what happened during the spirit journey has already begun to fade from memory, but the sense of rightness still lingers.

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