Okay, so we got this big fort that no one wants anymore. It's left there to rot in the Sun and the locals aren't helping matters much, but our boys on this side of things aren't going anywhere.

See, by this time the foundry's been in operation for three years, every reaper caravan that's headed up or down the trail stops there, and there's never any shortage of Quick heading either way who'll stop at Las Vegas to get some water and catch up on some sleep. So there's a job to be done and Juice to be collected and, permanent settlement or no, the Las Vegas Citadel is in business.

Back then it wasn't much to look at, from what I'm told. Some of the real old-timers say it was this great tent city flapping in the breeze, with a huge, relic brick foundry in the center. Yeah, no soulsteel forts - the Hierarchy was trying to be "cost effective" back then, and it's better to Moliate some poor wraith into a few yards of canvas than it is to turn him into a single plate of armor, or a brick.

Of course, they way they say it you'd think they were doing so much business that they could afford it. The foundry was running night and day, going so hot that it made you sweat plasm from a half mile away and standing so large that you could see it for miles... at least that's what they say. I've seen what's left of it, and it's hard to imagine it ever being that big.

What happened? Ah, I'll get to that. Hang loose, kid. Have another drink.

So we've got Las Vegas for dead folks. The Skeletal Legion had dominion over it just because they had the most personnel there. Yeah, that's right, believe it or not there was a time in the American West when more people croaked from taking sick or starving to death than from getting an arrow in their neck. The Grims had a good, solid hold on second place, though.

And everyone else was in this murky middle ground. They'd started out with three Regents, and after that another five had come along or been picked for the job in LA and sent here. The Citadel was getting its orders from LA anyway, since it was the closest Necropolis, you see.

Where was I? Oh, yeah... the Emeralds were duking it out with the Silents and the Iron boys for third banana status, and the other three were lucky to have a tent to themselves if you get my drift. Every time a new caravan would come in and drop off Thralls the Skeletal legion would pick up the skinny ones, the Grims would pick up the buckshot ones, the Iron Legion would get the old ones, and then there'd be this fight like you would not believe for what was left.

Pretty pathetic - the only ones with any class were the Doomed. Yeah, the Legion of Fate. See, they all get this mark, and if anyone sees it they're supposed to just lay off and hand the enfant over, no questions asked. You don't want Fate on your ass over a thrall. It's never worth it.

Speaking of Fate, right about then's when some more twists of it increased Quick traffic through the area. Gold - and I mean a lot of it - was discovered at the Comstock Lode at Virginia City. Everyone on the West coast started to get a real hard on for mining again, which brought attention back to the Potosi mine right around 1860. A bunch of guys form this outfit called the Colorado Mining Company, and they reopen the Potosi mine.

For a while at least, it was really booming. It got the point where some bean-counter figured there were about thirty-five new guys showing up every damn day in 1861. Of course, that's 27 miles SouthWest of Las Vegas, but some guys get the good idea that they ought to drop by and try to get some farming going, or at least set up shop by the trail and the springs. So that's steady Juice for some of us without a hefty walk in the bargain, but, wouldn't you know it, these idiots can't keep a farm going to save their lives.

Okay, now, you're keeping the dates in mind, right? Good. See, around this time there's something else that happened that is the sort of thing that we, as ghosts, should always remember. And Jimmy's scowling like a sonofabitch because he knows this story I'm going to tell you. Now don't you ruin it, Jimmy. If you want to do something useful how about setting us up another double, here?

1861 is when the Southern States decided they liked having cheap labor more than they liked being part of the Union. We call it the Civil War, and damn was it a real bonanza for the Hierarchy. You had people dying like never before all over the damn place. Mostly violently, of course, and wouldn't you know that's what really shifted the power from the Skeletals to the Grims for once and for all for the whole damn country? Down the hatch.

But, see, this is the funny part. Yeah, death's got a funny part if you know where to look. Trust me, I used to tell stupid jokes for a living.

See, a lot of people when they think about the Civil War just concentrate on the East Coast and all the shit that went down the toilet over there. And good reason, too. Most of the fighting and decisions went down right there because that's where most of the problems that led to 'em were. But they forget that there were states and territories out West, too, and while a lot of the fighting wasn't going on over here there wasn't a lack of armies, or supporters of either side.

Anyway, there's Confederate-held territory in New Mexico, and there's this Colonel in LA, James Carleton, who's got to sneak his folks across the desert to go face these guys. Turns out the newspapers in the area are real pro-Southern blabbermouths who can't keep their mouths shut. So he turns the coin on its side: he comes up with some fake plans and has 'em conveniently leaked to the reporters, who in turn take 'em to their editors and then the scoop's all over the front page. A major part of that scoop was the establishment of a fort, right here in Las Vegas, which was going to use the remnants of the old Mormon fort as a base and go from there. So everyone's looking there thinking that's where he's going to go, right?

Wrong: turns out the whole thing's a trick. California's got really lousy storms that year, 1862, and Colonel Carleton sneaks his guys out of town one column at a time. They all meet up at the Gila River and start heading off to New Mexico by way of Southern Arizona. The Rebels find out Carlton's coming and they run like hell for Dixie, and that's that. Neat trick if I do say so myself. He got in there, held the line, and was later promoted to General for his troubles.

Of course, there was no such thing as Fort Baker. There could have been, though. It would have made a perfect spot for an Army fort. There's the springs, the military road, the mail route, everything you'd want nearby... but it was all a trick to keep the Confederates looking the wrong way.

But see, the ordinary folks, the Quick, believed in it. The newspaper reporters believed it and they told their editors, and the editors believed it and they told their readers, and the readers, who lived and made their decisions based on what they read in the papers, believed it like you would believe. War's on and the newspapers are all you've got to tie you back to the East coast except for that occasional letter from mom and pop back in New York, after all. If it's in the paper it's gotta be true: the alternative's too scary to think about, at least to folks back then. Now we're used to being bullshitted to. Back then, not so.

So one day, while unlife as usual is going on in wartime Shadowlands Las Vegas, someone looks out of their tent flap and sees that there's this large, log cabin done up like a US Army base, sitting right on top of the Mormon Fort. "Where did that come from?" they wonder, and come running. See, they know that there's no trees for miles around that could make those kinds of logs, and they know there's no way it could have just appeared overnight... but there it is.

And, on the front, written in whitewash, are the words "Fort Baker."

Oh, hush up, Jimmy. If it wasn't for all those gullible people you'd be out of a job, now, wouldn't you? There you go - speaking of which?

Ah..., thank you.

Yeah, that's the real amusing part of that story. After they realized it wasn't a mirage and it wasn't going anywhere the Hierarchy picked up the log cabin and somehow got it off of the Mormon Fort, and then they stuck it right next to the foundry as their new headquarters. The Skeletal Legion had it for a few years, and then, after the Grim dead really started pouring in, the boneboys got to go skulking back to a tent and the Grim Legion moved into Fort Baker, pretty much for good. They moved it up here a lot later, for reasons that I'll get to later.

Yeah, hang on... we'll get to that. Hey, Jimmy? See these empty glasses, here? Do your duty, General Jim.

Ah... here's to you, both of you.