Eight of Clubs: 'The Cannon'

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The Eight of Clubs.

Some of the more scholarly types dubbed it Mjöllnir, after the Norse God of Thunder's hammer, but the West never had need for such fancy names. Any man that has seen it and lived to breathe about it just calls it The Cannon.

It takes a monster of a man to wield - by all right it ought to be mounted to wheels and manned by a crew of three - and it fires just a single shot at a time, but needs no more than one. One round from its massive black-iron bore flipped the eastbound Western Union engine off the tracks, killed near two-dozen men, and liberated half a million dollars headed towards Savannah.

Last seen in the hands of a negro, an escaped slave who goes by the name Solemn John. Damn near seven feet, and with The Cannon in his hands he's all but an implacable, dark-skinned God. Lord help the men who thought they could keep a yoke on him.


Solemn John crouched in the dust alongside the railroad tracks. He glistened with sweat, his upper half bare save for the Gun, swaddled in cloth and slung over his shoulder. The noon sun was harsh and the desert had a way of sucking the life out of a man through his skin. He never moved unless he had to, and there on the hardpan he looked for all the world like God had reached down and formed a man out of fertile soil and left him in the most unforgiving country possible.

Solemn John was going to bring life to the desert. That was his promise to all of us.

"It's comin'," he said, rising up, on those pillars of legs. I had to peer up at him, he towered so far over me, and found myself in his shadow. Sure enough, he was right. The rest of the men, maybe a dozen of us in all, were pointing to the hills where you see the coal-black plume of smoke rising from the engine as the train rounded the bend.

"I don't get it," I said, "A train carryin' half a million in gold with enough men guarding it to start an army, and you expect thirteen souls to stop it in the middle of the day, with no cover."

"No," he intoned, voice as deep as an iron bell. "Just need thirteen souls to rob it. I gon' stop it myself."

He moved to the middle of the tracks and slung the Gun from his shoulder. Instinctively, I held my breath as he removed the swaddling and dropped the canvas to ground.

Huge. A rifle, if you can call it that, big as a full grown man. Matte black iron down to a polished stock made from some wood I'd never seen, dark brown, made me think of steaming jungles I'd only ever heard about in stories. The bore was big enough to fit my fist into, and the gun wasn't sighted at all. This Gun wasn't meant to be aimed. All you had to do was point.

The Eight of Clubs. The Cannon.

Solemn John brought The Cannon up to his waist and opened the chamber. With his other hand, he opened the pouch he kept about his waist and drew out a single bullet. A single bullet as big as my hand.

The shriek of the train whistle pierced the air and we all snapped to attention. They'd spotted him. A thousand tons of steel and iron were bearing down on Solemn John and he stood there, silent and impassive as the train thundered closer.

We all scattered away from the tracks. Sure, we'd heard the tales of the Cards, but no one believed everything they'd heard. Most of us, I reckon, figured Solemn John was about to be a bloody stain on the hardpan for the next 100 yards or so. But he just raised The Cannon. And I swear...

I swear I saw him smile just before he pulled the trigger.

The shot...it wasn't no clap of thunder. That was the voice of God Himself. Knocked three men flat on their asses and the air out of my lungs. But even with my ears ringin' and my head spinnin', I saw everything clear as day.

First the train was racin' towards Solemn John, and then the boiler just seemed to crumple inwards, spittin' steam as the seams popped and rivets scattered. The whole engine buckled and lifted, jumping the tracks.

The air filled with the sound of squealing metal as the train crashed and skidded to halt, some fifty feet from Solemn John. And never bat an eye. He just turned to us, some of the men still cowering in the dust, and said, "Come on. There's still work to be done."


Wild Cards
Spades: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Hearts: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Clubs: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Diamonds: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Jokers: Red Joker - Black Joker
Introduction - The World - Gameplay - Stories of the world
On the Attainment, Ownership and Passing of The Cards
Variant Rule: Hands