Part I: Appalachian Moonshine
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1927.

Somewhere south of Virginia.


When Harold "Mad-Man" Angelo caught wind of three tax-men on his tail, he knew the sensible move was to dump the tank full of spirits and run. But Harry didn't get his nickname on account of letting things like good sense get in the way of making a dime.

The customized Studebaker whined with anticipation. Mercy's front was loaded with a modified Straight-6 that guzzled torment and belched pure power; her tank was loaded with enough damnation to drown every preacher's pulpit from Meat Camp, North Carolina on up to Chicago, Illinois. The G-men were puttering after him in their pretty little tin lizzies — they might as well have brought horse-drawn buggies.

He pumped the gas. Mercy roared in triumph; her engine slaked its thirst on the souls of the damned. She shrieked down the mountainside, transforming a scenic woodland trail into a blazing streak of trees, smoke, and hellfire.

The revenuers didn't concern Harry. Mercy could spin circles around them all day. But G-men never came alone — especially not these days.

The road flattened out into a curve up ahead. Harry lifted his foot off the gas and eased into it, leaning against the pull of centrifugal force as it yanked him toward the door. The tank of spirits sloshed to the right; he could hear their voices wailing and moaning. "Quit your belly-aching," he growled back. "Y'all were goin' to Hell anyway. Chicago's a step up."

The curve leveled out. No sign of the revenuers behind him. But ahead? The G-men had themselves a little roadblock. Wasn't that cute? Nothing he couldn't deal with; Mercy would slice through those cheap flivvers like a hot knife through —

— oh.

Oh.

Oh.

Those weren't G-men up ahead. Those were F-men.

Foundies.

Harry slammed into second gear and threw the wheel to the left. Mercy squealed; metal screeched across metal. Rubber snarled through gravel as she spun around and kicked up a twenty foot cloud of dust. By the time she settled down, Harry was pointed back the way he came.

That's when he saw the revenuers bringing up the rear. And they brought friends — five or six of them. All bright and shiny, sirens out and howling.

"Applesauce."

Mercy rumbled with hunger. Harry gave the old girl's steering wheel a pat, then turned to the tank full of gnashing, weeping ectoplasm. "Whelp, gave it my best shot. Maybe next time, yeah?"

He reached under the seat and twisted open the valve. What was previously a trickle became a surge, a gush — a tidal wave of damnation.

"Any of y'all see my ma