Prologue Charleston, South Carolina April 1, 1934 It was a Sunday today. Clarence Potter had grown used to days like this; he would wake late, read the Friday papers he’d picked up from the café he frequented on Saturday afternoons, listen to the news on the wireless, and ponder the cases his private investigation outfit had going at that particular point in time, as he drank cheap coffee in his cheap boarding-house room and listened to the church bells as the faithful went to prayer. Today was not one of those days. Gunfire rattled in the streets, which lay empty save for the occasional townsperson scurrying to and fro with provisions or a bawling child or a Tredegar. Here and there, a house would fly the Freedom Party rag or the Rad Libs’ yellow banner. And on the gentle spring air, rich with the smells of azalea and jasmine, the acrid stink of smoke sliced through and stung the nose. And Clarence Potter was not taking the liberty of sleeping late or drinking coffee or listening to some inane radio play today. Instead, he was counting his cartridges and checking the safety on his service pistol, and wondering how the hell he was meant to make his way to the other side of the front line – which, unless he missed his guess, was now somewhere around the old Roper Hospital. If he could make it to the Citadel, Potter thought, it might be possible that the Whigs runing things there had managed to maintain some island of order amongst the chaos. Considering, however, that he himself was on Warren, this task would be neither simple nor pleasant. “Oh, well,” he murmured as he donned the heavy coat he’d taken to wearing in his fun little second life as a hired detective, “it was fun while it lasted.” And with that he walked downstairs, into the war. Manassas, Virginia September 9, 1916 A green-grey horde was on the move on the north bank of the Bull Run, visible in the crisp, clean Saturday morning sunlight. Jake Featherston had all the targets in the world to shoot at, right there over open sights. Under ordinary circumstances, this would have been any artilleryman’s dream. These were not, however, ordinary circumstances. Jake’s boots were as worn out as they had been at any time since the retreat from Baltimore, his stomach growled as loudly as it had at Goose Creek, and his fury towards the damnyankees and the Red niggers was if anything more acute than it had been at any other time in the last two years. What was different now was that the guns had, as of 9:09 Eastern War Time, stopped firing. From the mountains of Sonora to the plains of west Texas to the spilled-out and torn-up guts of Tennessee to the hell on earth which had visited the Army of Northern Virginia’s home turf, the third war in sixty years between north and south had ended. Which was where another difference had made itself apparent; for the first time, the Confederate States of America were on the losing side. Featherston cursed all of these facts, loudly and ad nauseam, to anyone within range of hearing (and, considering his volume, possibly within range of the First Richmond’s guns). “We woulda had the fuckers licked,” he roared for the umpteenth time since nine a.m., “if the nigger-lovin’ old cocksuckers in Richmond hadn’t’a hung us out to dry!” As his comrades-in-arms shrugged or talked amongst themselves or shrugged off their sergeant, Jake kept fuming. He’d have his revenge. Not just on the damnyankees and the Negroes, no – that day would come sure as sunup, what with a million and change other good Southern men out for revenge as well – but on the deadwood within the CSA who needed pruning. Sooner or later.