"The August 7"
Amadeus Arkham has taken to an opium den while he waits for his hosts Nighthawk and Cinnamon rough up local gangs in search of those responsible for supplying a terrorist group known as the August 7 with explosives. His companion Jonah Hex, meanwhile, is investigating an illegal pugilism ring using a barge in the harbour as its venue.
In fact, Jonah's search has got him hired as a gladiator, fighting against the current champion - a woman named Z.C. Branke. Despite the woman's superior fighting skills, Hex can hold his own, and as they fight, Branke comments that she like's him, and she stops his retort with a kiss. This weird turn of events causes the spectators to start throwing junk at the pair, and Branke's financier, a Mr. Hiram Coy gives her a whistle, and delivers a clandestine message via a playing card showing the 7 of Diamonds.
Arkham, meanwhile, finds himself under arrest, as a raid by Captain A. Monton Eider of the Opium Squad infringes upon his attempts to flirt with the bevvy of young oriental women. Feebly, Arkham tries to explain that he is merely doing criminal research on the effects of opiates. As he is thrown in jail, he muses that Hex will not be pleased with him.
Later, Branke bathes Hex in a tub, commenting that she finds his many scars attractive. She and her employers have fallen for his claims to share their views on the plague of immigrants in the United States, and they want to offer him a job. As a test of his trustworthiness, they want him to find a ship called the Sea Queen in the harbour, and sink it and everyone on board. She suggests that if he refuses, someone from their organization will kill him. There are even some law officials involved. She explains that the sinking ship is merely the start of a movement; the first step in solidifying a hold over other port cities in the country. She warns that the mission will have to happen tonight. Jonah states that he will need some explosives, and with his apparent assent to the initiation, Branke removes her robe, and joins him in the tub.
After returning to Hawkes and Manser's home, Jonah wonders grumpily where Doctor Arkham has gone. He shares his information with his companions, revealing his mission to murder the immigrant passengers of the Sea Queen. His intention is to go through with the plan, regardless of the loss of life, because the only way to get closer to the August 7 is to be accepted into their ranks. This does not sit well with Nighthawk or Cinnamon. They try to stop him, but he warns that they shouldn't have called him if they hadn't wanted him to follow his instincts, training his weapon on Cinnamon's head, and yanking Nighthawk's enchanted talisman from 'round his neck.
In jail, Arkham manages to use psychology to convince a criminal to try to get a legitimate job on the docks. He is interrupted by Captain Eider, who has since checked with the Gotham City Police Department to determine whether Arkham's story checks out. Eider demands a description of the bounty hunter whom Arkham had accompanied to New Orleans, and Arkham cannot fail to miss the Captain's suspicious tone. Turning, he finds a gun to his head, once again.
That night, Hex attends his rendezvous with the man meant to give him the explosives for the job. However, the man reveals that he has captured Amadeus Arkham in a crate, and comments that he dislikes deceptions. A well-off looking man named David S. Winter introduces himself and explains that Arkham was quite talkative about Hex's plans to infiltrate the August 7. Now, Davis points to the ship in the harbour and announces that Hex will drown with the other 'rats' on the ship, and Arkham shall go with him.
Not long after, Hex and Arkham find themselves bound and on a rowboat headed for the Sea Queen, alongside the explosives that will sink it and its inhabitants.
"Dark as the Dungeon"
Nighthawk and Cinnamon have just been shoved down deep into a mine shaft, with the entrance collapsed behind them. As they venture deeper into the darkness, Cinnamon remembers her past.
She had witnessed the murder of her father, a sheriff, by a man named Robertson - the same man who has just thrown them into the mine. With her mother dead some months previously, Katherine Manser was placed into an orphanage. The other girls there had bullied her and called her Cinnamon in light of her red hair and freckles. One day, she had stopped taking it, and beat the girls up with a broom. The nuns, who had never liked her, placed her in seclusion, away from other children. They hoped they could cure her of her wicked behaviour.
One night, she stole a horse from the stable and rode away. Unfortunately, she was lacking in both plan and food, and when her horse died after two weeks, she didn't get much further before collapsing herself. Fortunately, a Japanese man named Ichi discovered her and saved her live. Ichi not only nursed her back to health, but he taught her the ways of the samurai - something no one else could have taught her. Ichi tried to dissuade Kate from giving in to her desire for revenge, but her hunger for justice was strong. After three years of training with Ichi, she woke one morning to find that he had gone as if he were never there.
With their lantern light dwindling, Cinnamon and Nighthawk come to a fork in the road. Fortunately, Cinnamon hears wind and smells something unusual. She leads Nighthawk down a passage until they come to a soft wall of earth. Breaking it down, the pair find a strange cavern with two plinths on which two strangely well preserved bodies have been laid to rest. The walls are adorned with symbols that Nighthawk seems to recognize from his days as a sailor. He believes that they are Mayan.
They find golden pendants around the necks of the corpses, and Nighthawk decides to take them, in hopes that they are blessed with the magic of an ancient people. Skeptical, Cinnamon puts aside her feelings of guilt at desecrating the grave, and they begin digging their way up through the weak walls.
After getting outside and into the fresh air, they realize that they are somehow stronger. Across the desert, they spy Robertson and his men returning to New Orleans, and plan to give him a surprise.
"The August 7"
- Jonah Hex
- Amadeus Arkham
- August 7
- New Orleans
"Dark as the Dungeon"
- New Orleans