John Mitchel was a U.S. Marshal - a man of action. He had tracked murderers across two states and recovered thousands of dollars in stolen goods and not even broke a sweat. Despite this, he has been assigned to be an escort. Not a political figure or a member of society's elite, but a little boy. The kid's name was Anthony Jennick and his parents died of fever a few weeks back. His only known relative is an uncle out west, a prospector out in California looking to strike it rich. A message was sent to the man via Pony Express, which would have normally taken weeks, if not months to make it there and back with a reply, but the brains up in New York have toyed with what they call cybernetics and turned a fleet of Pony Express horses into machines. After the discovery of ghost rock, many strange and wondrous advances had been made in the scientific field.
He wondered why the U.S. Marshals were involved in this, but he took orders, not question them. They would be departing by train in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and then traveling across the expanse of the nation to reach his new home in New Opportunity, California. It was going to be a very long trip, too long for his liking. The rails, while the safest way to travel, was also the biggest targets for bandits. John was hoping for a long, boring trip, but was prepared if things got more interesting.
John stood outside the train station, looking at the large clock perched on the courthouse. It was well after noon and there was no sign of the boy. So now, not only was he escorting this kid, but he's standing around waiting on him too. The sun was exceptionally hot today, without a cloud in sight. He tipped his black Stetson hat to shade his green eyes from the sun's brightness. His short, brown hair glistened with sweat from the heat coming off the ground. Being mid-day with all these people around didn't help either, he thought to himself.
His thoughts were broken when he felt something hit his leg. It was today's issue of the Johnstown Tribune, dated August 26, 1885. The headline read "Kidnappings continue to plague Johnstown". This was the first he had heard about this, and it seemed like a big deal. He could only guess the local sheriff feels he can handle it without government interference.
"I see you've read today's headline," came a gruff voice from behind him. It was the sheriff, and just as John had suspected, he looked to be a stubborn fool. An older man with a thick, well kept white beard with hair to match, and a stern look that seemed to be his normal expression. He wasn't as tall as John, but was of an almost equal build.
"It's quite a story, how long has it been happening?" John asked with concern in his voice.
"For over a month now. You're one of those U.S. Marshals aren't you? John Mitchel?"
"Yes, that's me. I was supposed to escort a boy out west to New Opportunity."
"Well, your job has gotten a bit more detailed than that. It seems that boy was kidnapped a couple of nights ago, several people disappeared that night actually. I've been trying to handle things myself, but it's getting to be more than I can manage alone and people are starting to panic, and I can't have that."
"Agreed," John stated as he took in all the information. "Any leads?"
"Not much to go on, but someone said they spotted a group riding out over the hills south of here the night of the last kidnappings."
"That's a little at least, I'll get myself set up in town and then I will head out and see if I can find more information."