Okay, Mormons. After the Mexican War the church starts running mail from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, their godforsaken little capitol. I mean, you want to pick a lousy place to put a town? You fly over the city by plane and look down at the lake and I swear it looks like someone had an accident with sixty million quarts of toothpaste. That's just me at 14,000 feet with a bad case of motion sickness, though, so never mind me and my little asides.

Meanwhile, speaking of other godforsaken little capitols, the United States government decides to plunk a whole bunch of money down on a military road from Salt Lake City to the Eastern end of California, which just happens to follow the Mormon Trail like the bouncing ball in a singalong. Right about then some other schmuck whose name I can't remember comes passing through Vegas with a whole 24 wagons full of groceries for happy Mormon people, and then everyone's bringing their big freights down that way. So it's no longer twenty men with thirty mules or a bunch of people playing Little House on the Prairie, see, now it's huge wagon trains making the rounds. And when they get to this part of things, where do they stop? That's right - Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, up in Salt Lick City, Brigham Young - who more or less founded that religion so he'd never have a problem getting laid, near as I can tell - decided he wanted to colonize the center of the desert between Cedar City and San Bernardino. It was the expansion of something they called "Deseret," which is either the silliest way I've ever seen to misspell "desert" or it's something I probably don't get since I don't have 27 wives and a year's worth of food in the basement.

That was 1855. That same year a whole bunch of rough and ready latter-day-schmucks get in their wagons in Suck Lake City and head down here, led by some constipated-looking fellow named Bringhurst. And they're all ready to make the land offer up its riches and teach the injuns to pray to Jesus. They meet with the locals, make peace, and start carving up the place to meet their needs. Of course, they get the locals to come and listen to 'em preach and they do, especially when there's free food and goodies to walk away with.

But all that's kind of just funny stuff to laugh about. I mean, what do you expect from people who think the Paiutes and the Mojaves were all Jews in disguise? The important thing here is that, by hook and crook, the first ever permanent structure was built on site here. That's the Mormon Fort, of which a little bit still stands downtown if you actually know where to look. That was a definite turning point for the area, and not just for the Quick. Las Vegas' founding as a colony was very beneficial for the Hierarchy out here.

Why? Well, for starters, there's the one big problem that the Reaper caravans are running into. As the trail gets longer and longer, they pick up more and more souls and it's further and further between full-scale Necropoli to sell 'em at. As a result, they're having to press-gang people they'd just as soon smelt, and some of the cargo's getting lost anyway.

And then you got that other problem that the Quick caravans were having: robbery. Gangs of Renegades and even other Reapers would lie in wait and then swoop down and relieve 'em of their soul cargo. You get a few consignments lost that way and you'll be lucky if you don't wind up getting forged yourself!

Couple that up with Restless Natives... woah, sorry, that one oughta be banned by the Geneva Convention. The Ghost Riders can hold their own, don't get me wrong, but after a few choice run-ins with the locals you're going to be dragging native corpus a few thousand miles from wherever to LA. It gets a little tough to do that and keep an eye on your job, but they don't want to give up smelters' rights 'cause that's half their pay right there.

The last problem was one of bad timing. See, the American West is just full of little towns that no one's ever heard of. You know why? They went up overnight when some drunk 49er with a beard down to his balls came running out of the hills saying he'd struck gold, and then when the gold was all tapped out they went back down again. We got ghost towns all over this area, and just because the towns were there and then gone doesn't mean the people that croaked in 'em got to leave too. So there were dead communities all over, cut off from the Hierarchy and vulnerable to attacks from Spectres or dead Indians.

So suddenly, on this fairly well-travelled area of land out in the middle of nowhere, the Quick start putting down roots and calling it town, and it looks like they're going to be there for a while. This is because, whatever else you might say about the Mormons, those sons of bitches are stubborn to the core. You tell 'em God wants 'em to eat bread made from spit and rock dust and go carve huts from the dirt with their fingernails and they'll say "Yessir, boss" and get to work. Now I expect common sense will make its way into their brains at some point, but hopefully by then there's enough of a foundation laid for newer fellows to finish working on.

That's good enough for the Hierarchy. When the wagon train came down from Salt Lake City there was a whole cohort of Legionnaires, mostly family members of the pioneers, traveling along with 'em. They were led by 3 Regents from Salt Lake City: a Grim, a Gaunt... yeah, that's another word for Skeletal... sounds better... and an Emerald. Their orders were to secure the area and start work on a stopping point for Hierarchy-allied reaper caravans, complete with a foundry. They also have standing orders to form a line against the Indian ghosts and make sure they don't interfere with Hierarchy transportation-

What? Why the foundry? Good question. Here, have a drink.

Well, you have to figure that the whole process of taking a bunch of souls anywhere is a risky venture. The reapers had chains, yes, but sometimes the chains won't work. Sometimes the little buggers just worm free or, worse, someone takes a shining to someone and lets 'em go. There's lot of Human error in the slave trade and there's a sight more when you know that cute girl you just picked up is probably going to be a moaning coin when you get to L.A. That and the robbery: if you come in with a bunch of thralls who all say they were stolen from the last band by the band who brought 'em in, who's going to listen and who's going to care? And I already told you about poor two-gun Sam, carting twenty chained-up Injuns behind his deathsteed and trying to keep up with the wagon train he's assigned to.

So the foundry alleviated those problems somewhat. It allowed for the cargo to be preprocessed, which means they smelted the poor buggers into soul-ingots which could later be reheated and fashioned into something else when they got where they're going. Ingots don't suddenly sprout legs and run away when no one's looking and it's a rare legionnaire who wants to buy a log a drink. They also make for easy-to-carry cargo: just dump 'em in the back of one of the wagons you're following and the Quick will never notice. And as for the piracy, each ingot was stamped with two pieces of information: which caravan or Ghost Rider brought it in, and which Necropolis it was intended for.

You see, like I said, history might skip by in the Skinlands but we get to live it every day over here. The Hierarchy in LA took note of the Spaniard Governors' licensing of traders and thought that it wasn't such a bad idea after all. So they started licensing their caravans! After that, if you showed up at a city with ingots that weren't yours, or ingots intended for someone else, you had a lot of explaining to do and would probably wind up as a coin yourself. That didn't stop the robberies, of course, but it made sure a lot of really dumb crooks with no contacts finally paid their debt to society. And as for the people whose ghost town haunts had gone dry, they now had someplace new to work and live where they could score Juice off of the living for a change.

Now, I'm sure you're going to ask me why this nice Mormon town down there in the Shadowlands has naked titty dancing, gambling and free booze. That's because, fortunately for the rest of the world, the Mormon social structure was no more free of stupid ambition and ego problems than any other civilization. Right from the get-go, their own started lying down on the job, or going back to Salt Lake Shitty to get a reprieve to go back to their three wives and a dog. That and they had the usual problems with the locals sneaking off with their food and just not getting with the Jesus program.

Now, from our side of things... there's been some rumor that the foundry workers were leeching energy out of the Quick to keep 'emselves going at the forges, if you catch my drift, but that's never been conclusively proven, which means it's probably true after all.

The other possibility, and this is a little more acceptable to the Hierarchy, is that the dead Indians were sneaking in under the wire and doing a lot of leeching 'emselves. The Paiutes on both sides of the Shroud were always pretty congenial and preferred to leave travelers alone and be peaceful with the settlers, at least at first. But as dead word from the East started spreading, some of their Restless tribal leaders started getting pretty antsy. Especially when they'd see entire caravans full of dead Indians go in one door at the foundry and no one come out the other side!

So, after a while, there was definite tension between the two groups. The Hierarchy started wondering when a fight was going to break out, but suddenly the dead Paiutes just vanished from day to day sight. Suspicion was they were performing acts of sabotage from this side of the Shroud, but, for then at least, they didn't get caught.

But hey, I wasn't there. Jimmy? Two more, please.

Anyway, it's 1856, and some Paiute Indians - living ones - drag some poor Mormon soul out to this place about 30 miles South West of the fort and show him some of the pretty rocks at Potosi Mountain. Turns out the rocks are lead ore, which could be of some real value to the settlers and, of course, the church. Word got back to saint central and the church sent some flat-faced church officer with a really silly haircut out to take charge of the matter. The Bringhurst guy, who was in charge of the settlement up until then, was obviously not happy about this, and wrote back to Mr. Brigham "I have 27 wives and you don't" Young for clarification on the matter. His letter's put in the mail and just then he got a letter from you-know-who telling him to bend and spread for the good of the church. This did not make him happy.

Long story short, the shit streaks the holy Mormon underwear right quick. There's a power struggle, Bringhurst gets shown up, and eventually gets told to pack up and go and even gets... ah, what's the word where they kick you out of their happy little band of latter-day-swingers? Disfellowshipped? Yeah, that sounds about right. He stormed off to California and left the settlement to its own demise, which wasn't far from coming. Turned out the mine was a bust because the ore was just full of impurities, anyway.

The church officials pulled the plug on the mission in 1857. Most of the people called it a holiday because they'd just about had enough and want to go home, which is a real slap in the face to their claims of eating rocks and digging in the dirt for God, isn't it? See, that's why I think there was some real leeching of some kind going on, but no one's going to talk about that, are they?

That wasn't the end of the matter, of course. Some more Mormons came down in 1858 and tried to get the mine going again. They also got some crops going with the locals and this time they didn't try to get 'em to convert. Smart move on their part, I figure. This time the natives waited until the crops were just about ready and then ran into the fields and carried 'em all off for themselves - I think that's how they say "screw you, paleface" in Paiute - and that was that.