No Man's Land

   War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

   - Jimmy Carter
   Nobel Lecture,
   Dec 10, 2002

   The story starts out with an assassin named Snake Eye hunting down his latest contract in a small town. He catches up with the man in his own shop; in a bid to save his life, the man tells Snake Eye of a lost redoubt nearby. Snake Eye is intrigued, but kills him anyway - he always fulfills his contracts.
   Meanwhile, the companions have arrived in a redoubt near Des Moines, Iowa. After digging their way out of the collapsed entrance, they find themselves in the middle of a war. They make camp for the night in what they think is a safe area, but a cavalry patrol from the Cattleman's Protective Association (CPA) finds them and takes them prisoner.
   They're escorted back to the camp, where they meet the general, Baron Jed Kylie. He decides to induct the men into the army, while the women will serve in some other capacity. They're separated into different billets; that night, the baron's son slips into Mildred and Krysty's tent and tries to rape them, but they kill him instead. They escape with some of the army's horses and head north toward the other side (the Uplands Alliance) to join up with them.
   The opposing general, Baron Al Siebert, is more than willing to let them join up after he hears their story. Ryan gets the baron to let them operate as a separate guerilla group, whereupon they set up a plan to do some serious damage to the other side.
   Meanwhile, Snake Eye (who, as it turns out, was contracted by Baron Kylie) returns to collect his reward. Kylie immediately hires him to kill the companions. Snake Eye has been following stories of the group for some time, and has an interest in how they get around (as well as their exploits), so he eagerly accepts.
   The companions' first mission is to take out a supply caravan. They kill the guards, let the drivers go, and burn the rest. Snake Eye happens on the remains of the caravan a day or so later and tracks down the drivers in a nearby gaudy to get their story.
   A few days later, the companions hijack a wagon full of barrels of gunpowder, strap percussion caps all around them, and send the driver into a CPA supply camp. The know there's a spy in the allied HQ, however, so the plan they tell everyone is that the barrels will be empty - a Trojan horse. The opposition, acting on the false info, opens fire on the barrels and blows them (and a good chunk of their own forces) sky-high. The companions use the diversion to slip onto the base and blow up a powder warehouse, which takes out most of the rest of the place.
   The next part of the plan comes into play when they have Baron Al pretend to suffer a heart attack from celebrating too much. The spy flees to the other side and tells them what's going on - it's "total chaos" in the allied camp. Baron Jed immediately mobilizes his forces and rides north... right into a trap. Their forces are largely wiped out, but since they still outnumber the allied forces by a wide margin, Baron Al decides not to ride in and finish them off.
   This decision doesn't sit well with his wife, who's Kylie's sister in law - she and her sister are bitter enemies and would like nothing better than to see the other dead (they are, in fact, a large reason the war has been going so long). She stages a coup with the support of many of Al's staff and kills her husband, placing his second in command in charge. They promptly ride forth to search for the redoubt, as does the other side; with the goods they can (presumably) find inside, either side would have enough power to end the war once and for all.
   The companions, having fulfilled their contract, decide to take off for greener pastures before the baron decides he doesn't need them around anymore. They head off in search of the redoubt, with Snake Eye hot on their heels. With the help of an old trader, they narrow it down to a small abandoned ville, where Snake Eye has taken up residence - he's already found the redoubt and has set up a showdown with Ryan. Ryan obliges, while the others hold off probes by both sides attempting to kill them.
   Ryan kills Snake Eye, and the companions get both sides fighting each other, then use the chaos to escape to the redoubt and jump away.