The Lady from Louisiana was an Amtrak Federation wagon-train based out of Nixon/Fort Worth. It entered operation no later than 2980, making it one of the older and more distinguished wagon-trains in the Federation's fleet. It was destroyed with all hands in July 2991 at the Battle of Twin Forks. Its recognition code was 'LDY'.
The Lady from Louisiana was operational in 2980, when Deputy Wagon-Master William Eisenhower Hartmann transferred on board from Red River, where he had served as navigation officer. He became Wagon-Master in 2984.
Under Hartmann's leadership, the Lady made impressive in-roads in cutting down the Southern Mute population within the Federation and also on raids into the Southern Mute territories beyond the Federation borders. Hartmann was known for running a tight ship, but also for not being a harsh disciplinarian and for standing up for his troops when needed. This made him a respected commander and the Lady a popular posting.
The Battle of the Now and Then River
In April 2989 the Lady was chosen as the first wagon-train to make a deep penetration raid of Plainfolk territory, and was ordered due north from Colorado into the She-Kargo lands. The plan was for the train to make a fire-sweep through Plainfolk territories and gauge the numbers and savagery of the enemy encountered. Unfortunately, the plan went badly wrong from the start.
The Clan M'Call, whose turf near navref Cheyenne, Wyoming lay in their path, were forewarned of the approaching wagon-train by magic and set a trap for it. Mr Snow clouded the mind of Hartmann and had him take the Lady down a dry river bed called the Now and Then River, which restricted the wagon-train's mobility, field of view and field of fire. When he realised what was going on, Hartmann ordered the train out of the river but was unable to clear the lip of the river. With the train stuck in this position, it came under heavy attack by the M'Calls. In a furious battle lasting several hours, the Lady lost several dozen Trail-Blazer ground troops and most of its air wing, either shot down with crossbows or forced to crash or shoot one another by Mr Snow or Clearwater's use of magic. The train finally repulsed the attack through the use of its super-heated steam jets, which encouraged the Mutes to give up the attack after more than a hundred deaths.
The wagon-train beat a retreat back to Federation territory where an enquiry was held. It was decided that although the battle had been 'won' with the attacking Mute force forced to withdraw after suffering significantly higher casualties than the Trackers had suffered, a number of tactical blunders had been made. Hartmann was docked a year's seniority and the train was not commended for its actions.
In early March 2990 the wagon-train was returned to service and Hartmann offered a chance to redeem himself with a fresh fire-sweep through Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota which saw some 700 Mutes killed with minimal losses on the train. This successful patrol restored morale.
In November 2990, just as the wagon-train was expecting to be ordered home for the traditional winter refit, it was instead ordered on a secret mission towards the Great Lakes to recover several downed Federation agents. The mission was successful with the recovery of AMEXICO agent Dave Kelso and former Lady crew-member Jodi Kazan. However, unbeknown to the crew, Clearwater had tricked them into carrying explosives onto the train. In the resulting detonations, Kelso was killed and the Lady lost two of its wagons (including the medical car) which were completely destroyed. The resulting fireballs took out another three which had to be abandoned. Well over a hundred crew were killed and scores more injured.
Hartmann and the rest of the command crew were stripped of their ranks and imprisoned for gross negligence. However, this was the final straw for the other wagon-masters. Fed up with constantly facing Mute magic in battle but not being able to report it, the wagon-masters of the other nineteen trains (barring Red River) signed a petition requesting that the First Family recognise the existence of Mute magic and allow its use to be pleaded in mitigation for incidents such as that of the Lady. The Family, which had been trying to find a way around the same problem for some time, agreed. As a result of this, Hartmann's case was re-examined and he and his crew restored to operational status.
In July 2991 the Lady was ordered back into the field to support Red River's incursion against the Plainfolk as part of the effort to wipe out the M'Calls once and for all. The plan called for Red River to allow itself to be boarded by Mute forces, which would then be trapped on board and destroyed in detail. However, the Lady and Red River swapped places, so it was actually the Lady which was boarded. The crew were unable to contain the incursion and furious fighting raged on board for several hours until relief arrived in the shape of four other wagon-trains. Sensing the gig was up, Mr Snow unleashed his powers in a vast but destructive display which killed him, but completely incinerated the wagon-train and split open the earth to cause notable damage to the other four trains. None of the Lady's crew survived the incident.
Crew prior to the Battle of the Now and Then River
- Wagon-Master: Commander William Hartmann.
- Deputy Wagon-Master: Lt. Commander Jim Cooper
- Deputy Systems Engineering Officer: Captain Ford
- Trail Boss: Buck McDonnell
- Senior Field Commander: Lt. Commander Moore (call-sign ANVIL ONE)
- Junior Field Commander: Captain Virgil Clay (call-sign ANVIL TWO)
- Linemen: Ginny Green, Bad News Logan
- Chief Medical Officer: Surgeon-Captain Keever
- First Engineer: Lt. Commander Stu Barber
- Flight Operations Officer: Captain Baxter
- Crew Chief: Murray
- Flight Section Leader: Field Lieutenant Jodi Kazan
- Experienced Wingmen: Booker, Caulfield, Lou Naylor, Ryan, Yates
- Rookie Wingmen: Steve Brickman, Rick Fazetti, Webber, Gus White,