The Black Hats

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The Black Hats

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The Black Hats are a group of notorious mercenaries that operates in the Four Corners. They are bounty hunters and guns for hire, tracking and fighting outlaw killers and cattle rustlers, Chucree scalphunters, Shaheen raiders, train robbers and Caliora soldiers, often skirting the laws of the Union and racking up an impressive death list in the process. They are shunned and despised by polite society because their motivation are based more on greed than an actual love for justice: the Black Hats are just as likely to be employed by innocent homesteaders as by ruthless railroad tycoons, and whoever pays their bills gets to set their rules -- because they have preciously few of their own.

Atherton Parker
A corrupt agent of the Holifyre Detective Agency from distant Madison, Parker is a vain and egotistical man with delusions of sophistication and a liking of silken clothes, fine wine and card games. He is rarely called on these negative character traits because of his reputation as one of the Corners' most dangerous gunslingers. Atherton Parker is not the fastest draw nor the most accurate shot but he has an extremely steady hand and was once aptly described as being "dumb enough to be fearless, but smart enough to be dangerous". Nevertheless he is a decently competent investigator, and usually acts as the point of contact for potential employers, who can find him in the finer saloons and gambling houses of Nowhere Gulch. Like most Holifyre agents Parker wields a pair of Pacifier handguns, rare weapons on the frontiers of the Union.

Scotch McKenna
A longtime tracker, trapper and estwhile scout for the 69th Regiment until he was thrown out of the Union army for drunk and disorderly behavior, desertion, mutiny and assaulting his superior officer. He is a small and wiry but surprisingly strong man, with a weather-beaten face and an unruly silvertip beard, dressed usually in leather hunter's clothes of his own making and native mocassins. McKenna is an anti-social loner, overly fond of the bottle and a mean, violent drunk much like his father was before him. Nevertheless he is also a supremely skilled pathfinder, capable of tracking even Shaheen through the desert or Chucree through the badlands at several day's distance, and a crack shot with a longrifle. McKenna carries a Hawke long-barreled rifle with a hand-engraved stock and several large hunting knives.

Otis Freeman
A one-time slave, Freeman escaped from a plantation in the southern territories in the confusion of the Emancipation Wars. A lynching mob chased him through the swamps and primeval wilds, but in a series of traps and ambushes Freeman whittled down their numbers one by one until finally, after the man remained as the last of his mob, he killed his brutal master with his bare hands. He keeps the plantation owner's thumbs in a pouch that he carries around his neck. Otis Freeman is a massive, muscular man whose arms, back and chest are marked with the white scars of the slave-whip. The whip also deeply scarred his psyche, leaving him with a deep and lasting hatred of the kind of privileged white men that before the Wars dominated the southern territories, and responding with instant violence to those he perceives as discriminating against him. Freeman can usually be seen carrying a stocky street-sweeper shotgun, but is just as dangerous when fighting with his bare fists.

The Lamar Brothers
Identical twins possessed of devilish cunning, Dixie and Haywood Lamar used to run their own bootlegger gang during the Wars. The law got wind of them and after a series of increasingly desperate chases and shoot-outs with southern constables they legged it for the border and defected. For a while they acted as spies for Rikers Washington's Union troops and ran a smuggling ring as a side-job, but after the Wars they found the Marshals hot on their tail and eventually decided that the semi-legit company of the Black Hats was their best bet at avoiding the gallows. Sly, energetic and quick-witted, the twins are very nearly impossible to tell apart and amongst the most conscientious of the group's members - to the point where they are often found at Ministry services on Sundays - and usually function as the Black Hats' fast-talking spies. They are not completely averse to violence however, breaking out a pair of Joynson repeating rifles whenever dirty deeds need doing.

Maybelle Leduc
The only woman amongst the Black Hats, Maybelle Leduc could be a classic southern belle. She has the lazy Beauregard drawl and the haunting good looks, the razor smile and the fashion sense... But she also has taken to wearing men's clothing and is the Hats' best shot with a revolver as well as its best card cheat, traits she owes to a childhood travelling with her mother Lilly Leduc, the notorious coquette and conwoman known as Diamond Lilly. Brassy, bold and bright, Maybelle is still in her early twenties and possesses the youthful sense of invincibility common to that age. Maybelle's preferred weapon is a long-barrel Sterling revolver with ivory grips, an expensive custom job that was a gift from her mother, who owns its identical twin. The weapon typically hangs lewdly in a white leather revolver holster on the left hip of her stylish seersucker suit. This sometimes leads duelling opponents to believe her to be left-handed, but this is not the case: rather, Maybelle prefers the LeMoyne crossdraw style that allows the long revolver to clear its holster more quickly.

Colchuck Sam Parson
Straight as a gun barrel, powerfully built with strong sloping shoulders and ochre skin, Colchuck Sam was born an Arahanee tribesman but was captured by Chucree indians as a boy, and after being freed by the Union army, he became a street orphan in army camps before at age sixteen he enrolled as a cavalryman. In this capacity he fought during the closing stages of the Emancipation Wars as part of Col. Horne's 'Thunderbolt Brigade', a group of elite cavalrymen equipped with repeating carbines and pistols. Horrified Caliora commanders allegedly said that Horne's men could "load on Sunday and fire all week". After the Wars Parson, who adopted a Union name during his time in the service, made his way to the frontiers of the Four Corners where he eventually joined the Black Hats as a ranger. Colchuck Sam Parson is highly skilled at fighting on horseback, a dead shot even at full gallop, and carries a cavalry saber and a Sheridan repeating carbine the barrel of which is threaded with esoteric patterns of silver, the only visible hint of his Arahanee heritage.

King of Clubs
The leader of the Black Hats is a man known only by his moniker: the 'King of Clubs'. His real identity is not known outside of the Black Hats: whenever he rides into Nowhere Gulch the King of Clubs wears an elaborately embroidered face-mask that obscures his face from his bright green eyes down. Rumours about his identity range from a disgraced Caliora hidalgo to an apostate Ministry preacher. Certain is that he is a learned man of supreme intelligence, with an intimate knowledge of battle tactics and possessive of at least some skill in witchcraft. He has a rich and deep voice, and by all accounts can be very charming when he desires to be so. The King of Clubs is typically well-dressed in black or deep blue velvets, rides a thoroughbred Caliora horse and is known to carry and favour a Dahlgren Trinity rotating rifle, a heavy and notoriously fussy but also powerful and very accurate weapon.
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For, now De Ruyter's topsails
Off naked Chatham show,
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