Deadlands: Riders on the Storm

Intelligence Report: Subject 2783

June 20, 1876

Department of War

Bureau of Military Information

Intelligence Report


Date: June 20, 1876

To: Brig.Gen. George H. Sharpe, US Army HQ, City Point, Virginia, USA

From: Capt. Lucius Dalworthington, CIO, Fort 51, Nevada, USA

Subject: Subject 2783 (TS)


The science team at Fort 51 took possession of Subject 2783, formerly classified as "JD-76," on March 17, 1876.

Previous to its possession by friendly forces, the device was in the possession of Miss Geraldine Marie Keeler of Paiute Springs, Nevada [reference report of April 15, 1876]. The device crashed into her backyard during an electrical storm on March 3, 1876. Miss Keeler, being an experienced scientist with at least one patent to her name, made a diagnostic analysis of scene and determined that the device was a self-propelled ornithopter of some type. The core cylinder of the device was the only component ot survive intact, and it seemed to be connected to a faulty self-destruct mechanism involving three sticks of military-grade dynamite.

Over the course of a few days, Miss Keeler managed to defuse the device and opened the core cylinder. There she discovered the secret of Subject 2783: that it was "powered" by a preserved human brain. Once again, Miss Keeler proved her ingenuity and managed to communicate with the "entity" inside the canister. It identified itself as JD-76 or "JD" and conducted conversations with Miss Keeler. It was, however, prevented from revealing its purpose or its mission by a series of electrodes connected to key nerve centers on the surface of the organ [reference Notes: Stranghoener April 1876].

Meanwhile, Fort 51 was contacted and I was dispatched to investigate.

In the intervening time, a squad of Confederate troops led by Captain Harland Desdemona (under the alias "Max Tucci") and Confederate agent MIss Josephine Devereaux (under the alias "Miss Lavern Stefano") entered Nevada by way of Arizona, marched to Paiute Springs, and attempted to retrieve their wayward prototype. Fortunately, with the help of Miss Keeler, I was able to apprehend Miss Deveraux and Captain Desdemona [reference report of March 18, 1876]. It was then that I acquired Subject 2783 and brought it back to Fort 51.

Preliminary Findings

After his briefing on the acquisition and preliminary study of the subject by Miss Geraldine Keeler of Paiute Springs, Nevada, Mr. Eddington assigned the device to the care of Dr. Theodore Stranghoener. Dr. Stranghoener was between projects and is a capable chemist and engineer with a solid record of work.

During this period, Mr. Eddington received frequent reports on the progress of Dr. Stranghoener with Subject 2783. Mr. Eddington, in turn, would report to myself and Lt. Colonel Kyle on the project. As the days passed, Eddington expressed his dismay at the lack of progress Stranghoener was having on the project. According to the project notes, the subject was increasingly uncooperative and unresponsive and, quite possibly, psychotic.

At this point I hit upon the idea of bringing in Miss Keeler. Perhaps her rapport with the subject would bring it around. Further, she had scientific experience—she had, after all, been the only one to make progress thus far.

Eddington encouraged me to move forward. He removed Stranghoener from the project. I sought the proper clearances for Miss Keeler. Once attained, I rode to Paiute Springs to retrieve Miss Keeler.

Miss Keeler was apprehensive at first but readily agreed to help if it meant that "JD" was in some kind of distress. She had the curious habit of treating the device as if it were a person [more on that further in the report].

We rode out from Paiute Springs and arrived back at Fort 51 on May 4, 1876.

Miss Keeler began her work on May 5, 1876.


I ordered Dr. Stranghoener to provide Miss Keeler with his work notes and Miss Keeler commandeered one of the chemistry labs within Laboratory C, the Special Weapons Division of the facility (Subject 2783 defies traditional classification). There she began her work in earnest and reported regularly to Mr. Eddington.

According to the reports I received from Eddington, Miss Keeler started seeing progress within just a few days. She managed to calm "JD" down and bring him out of his shell. She brought in books and pictures from the library to stimulate him. Within a week, she had a major breakthrough.

"JD" began to remember his previous identity, who "he" was before falling into his current state. His name was Virgil Caine, and he was apparently a Confederate soldier from Tennessee who fought against General Stoneman's raid on the railyards at Danville, Virginia in 1865. He was an ornithopter pilot who, it is believed, went down during the fight. He is survived by a wife, Iris Caine and a nephew, Paul [see report May 31, 1876]. He has few memories past 1865. He remembers a great fire, pain, ice, a man with wild hair and insane eyes, the smell of salt, and Miss Josephine Devereaux.

Since the "awakening" of Virgil Caine, it appears that Subject 2783 suffers from a strange condition of the mind in which half the time, one is speaking to Virgil—a distinct person from JD. The other half of the time, one is speaking with JD, a distinct person from Virgil.

According to Eddington, the JD personality is solicitous and helpful—willing to provide the information we require were it not for the pain of the electrodes. The other personality, Virgil, is a staunch Confederate and will not cooperate regardless. It posed an interesting dilemma at the time.

Meanwhile, Miss Keeler continued researching the feasibility of removing the electrodes from the brain without causing the organ more harm. She finally hit upon the the approach she felt would be the most viable, though it would not be without risk. According to Eddington, she discussed the procedure with the dual natures of the device as if they were a patient and she were a physician. They both felt that the benefits were worth the risk.

On May 11, 1876, Miss Keeler attempted the procedure. According to Mr. Eddington, she accomplished the task admirably. In only two hours, she managed to perform the delicate operation with no loss of cognition to the subject.

Later that day, the JD personality emerged and revealed the device's core mission, its last (and, as it happens, first) mission and its code phrases.

  1. Core Mission: Accept code-preceded instructions. Fly to target. Surveil target. Take photographs if needed. Return to base. Destroy Core if compromised.
  2. Last Mission: Fly to [coordinates matching Fort 51]. Surveil for 1 hour. Take photographs of facility. Return to [coordinates matching encampment in northern Arizona]. Destroy Core if compromised.
  3. Code Phrases: "Welcome to the cotillion" [Prepare to accept instructions]; "Your dance card is full" [Instructions complete]; "Take Sherman straight to Hell!" [Self-Destruct Core].

After completing her mission objectives, Miss Keeler stayed on at the facility, with the support of Mr. Eddington, to complete a final project on behalf of "JD."

Over the course of the next two weeks, she and Mr. Eddington worked together to design and create an apparatus by which Subject 2783—JD—may actually walk about on its own. It is essentially a clockwork base on which the armored canister sits that has articulated, spider-like legs and a "sensory rig" through which JD may experience sight and sound [reference attached blueprints and diagrams c/o Eddington].

Eddington has used his influence—and the fact that we have already gleaned much of our needed intelligence from the device—to secure permission from Washington to care personally for the subject. Subject 2783—now termed locally as "JD" resides with Eddington on the facility grounds.

Miss Keeler left the facility June 16, 1876.

Her clearances were revoked June 17, 1876.

  • Virgil Caine was likely shipped to by train in an ice car to some undisclosed location to begin the procedures that resulted in his current state. His mention of "salt" makes me think of Utah/Deseret, but this is pure speculation.
  • As it took nearly 10 years for the Confederacy to produce JD from Virgil, it stands to reason that (a) the procedure is a lengthy and arduous process, or (b) finding the right subject is a difficult proposition, or © a combination of the two. As such, it is unlikely that there are a great number of these unmanned craft being deployed.
  • The work being performed here is reminiscent of the theories presented by Dr. Leonitus Gash, formerly of Deseret University in Salt Lake. It is, however, an advanced application of his theories. Dr. Gash's current whereabouts are unknown, though we have, admittedly fewer channels available in Utah Territory.
  • Miss Keeler, though an "amateur" scientist is a formidable technician and tenacious scientist. She would be a valuable asset with which to maintain cordial relations. She impressed Eddington—and he is not easily impressed.
  • It is clear that our science teams have been remiss in regarding Subject 2783 as merely a device. Not only are there clear moral and ethical ramifications that are brought to bear, but from a practical point of view—dehumanizing JD made matters worse. The Confederacy created a monster but we treated him monstrously. If we are to maintain the moral high ground in this conflict, we should look to Miss Keeler's example. From this point forward, Subject 2783's designation has been changed to "JD/Virgil Caine" and will be referred to by his dominant personality in correspondence.   
Supplemental Report: Lt. Steven Atwell

On May 12, 1876, Miss Keeler left the facility on a social outing with Lt. Steven Atwell, aide de camp to Lt. Colonel Kyle. They took the train to Cedar City at 6:30 pm. In the returning to the fort on the 8:30 pm train, Miss Keeler found herself separated from Lt. Atwell in the crowd. While thus separated, Miss Keeler found someone pressing a gun barrel into her side and a whiskey-soaked voice telling her, "Walk with me, Miss Keeler. And quietly. Let's not have a ruckus." The man clearly had a Southern accent.

Miss Keeler attempted to push the man away and run, but he grabbed her and pulled her close, saying , "None of that, missy." She then started to scream and push her way away, banking on the belief that the man didn't want to shoot her down in front of witnesses. The man let her go and faded into the crowd.

Lt. Atwell reappeared and asked after her state, as she was clearly upset. Miss Keeler simply asked to be taken home.

What is unusual about this incident is that Miss Keeler confided in me that she got the distinct impression that Lt. Atwell lost her purposefully. Which suggests collusion with the assailant.  And a far more disturbing problem if this is the behavior of a trusted aide at a secure facility.

My agents have discovered that a Confederate information broker by the code name of "Fiddler" was seen in Cedar City at the time. If this is the man Atwell is in collusion with, then treason charges are not out of order. However, we have no evidence at this time. It simply bears further watching.

Supplemental Report: Amy Kyle

This next report is more difficult to provide. Miss Keeler reports that on the evening of May 15, 1876 she was awoken in her apartment by the touch on her hand of another. She looked up to see a gaunt, desiccated woman—clearly long dead—in a nightgown, crawling across her ceiling on all fours like a giant spider. Her decaying features could not hide the fact that she was Amy Kyle, the young bride of our CO.

Miss Keeler gave chase to the—woman—but lost her as she walked past a sentry and into the base HQ. After that night, Miss Keeler suffered from an unfortunate illness for nearly three weeks. Miss Keeler also noted that Mrs. Kyle had a habit of avoiding her reflection.

I am fully cognizant of how this report must sound. And of the importance of whom it implicates, however, in light of the increasing reports coming in from the Pinkerton Agency regarding strange events in the West and the reports I have submitted of the things I have seen in my own travels, I beg your forbearance.

I have heard of people called "harrowed" who refuse to stay dead and return to the land of the living, their bodies reanimated by a force as mysterious as it is dark. Mrs. Kyle suffered from a life-threatening fever five years ago. I hypothesize that she succumbed to that fever and returned—as something else.

But, I have no proof. Nothing actionable short of vigilance, which must suffice for now.



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