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By Steve Crow A tale of Deadlands Weird West

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"Get out there and find Rachel, Vic. We've got to stop her before it's too late."

As if it were that easy, Victor thought to himself, as he remembered Black Jack's words.

He had been over most of Gomorra by now, and hit many of the remaining outlying strikes as well. Wherever Sumner had gone to ground, she had gone deep.

Vic's contacts among the docks had given him one last sign of hope. Sheila Mirabella had been making deliveries out of town, including a few items that you wouldn't normally expect miners (living or dead) to have use of. So Victor had come down to what was left of the docks area, what with Big Jake and Scooter having registered their displeasure with Sweetrock's business practices and all, to see if anyone had seen hide or hair of her.

Vic stepped to the edge of the dock, and shielded his eyes against the setting sun. Damn! He could just make out Mirabella's maze runner moving off into the canyons of the Maze.

But then he turned, his keen ears picking up a noise of leather on wood. He caught a glimpse of someone moving in the shadows off to his left. Drawing his revolver, he advanced carefully.

And then stopped, at the click of a hammer being drawn back. Then a woman's voice called out, "Navarro...?"

Victor sighed, relieved, and lowered his gun. "Yep, it's me, Rach. Welcome back."

The attractive bandit moved out of the shadows. She hadn't changed much from when Vic had last seen her, during the shootout with the Law Dogs. The ever-present cigar in her mouth was unlit, a concession to her attempts at stealth. Her clothes were maybe a little dirtier, but her gun was still spotless.

"What's it to you?" Sumner snarled. Rather nervously, Victor noticed that her own gun was still up and ready to fill the air with lead.

"Blackjack sent me to find you."

Rachel snorted. "Hell with that. You and Mirabella sound about the same. She claimed Jackie had survived the shootout, too. I saw him go down. Truth to tell, you hadn't looked too good last time I saw you."

Victor shrugged. "Blackjack pulled through, thanks to my brother. Myself as well. Flint, Eddie, Twitch, and Cletus didn't pull through..."

"Yeah, I heard. So how am I supposed to know that Jackie didn't really die. You too, for that matter." As if reminded, Rachel shifted her gun's aim from Victor's chest to his head.

Wherever she had been, the weeks of solitude hadn't done the girl much good. Rachel had never been particularly stable, Victor thought. Now she was full-blown paranoid. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing to be in Gomorra. Vic reminded himself. He remembered what Blackjack and Juan had told him about Spike Dougan's..."return." He was an inquisitive man by nature, but that one was one thing he had no desire to see.

Vic was tempted to try out his charms with Rachel. Though Juan had been quite the lady's man before taking up the cloth, Vic had eventually surpassed him. Or so his many ex-lovers could testify.

But Rachel had never been the kind to be impressed by any man. If she wasn't ready to shoot him on the spot, trying to seduce would probably earn him a bullet for sure. Although it might be worth it, Vic thought, eyeing the Ace of Spades tattoo exposed by Sumner's partially unbuttoned shirt.

But this wasn't the time. Vic shrugged, and tried a more reasonable line. "Do I _look_ dead? We're heading for the mission house, so you can check with Juan about me, Blackjack, and anything else you're curious about. Yeah, there's a bunch of the walkin' undead, what my brother calls "harrowed," walking around Gomorra. And that's why the boss me to find you. We're aimin' to take them out."

"I only see you, doing the talking. Who's 'we"?"

"Me, Blackjack, Horowitz, Juan as much as he can. Flint's relatives are in town, and the boss has convinced them to come along with him. Don't know if they're too reliable - looks like they'll shoot anything that moves, but Blackjack'll point them in the right direction. Some old friend of the boss's called Wendigo is heading in, too."

Rachel shrugged, and lowered her gun slightly. "Well, maybe that'll be enough. As long as there's some money in it at the end of the day. We'll have to take care of Hunter and his surviving buddies first, though."

"Ummm, that's the other thing, Rach..."

The revolver came up again. "What other thing?"

"Well, the long and short of it is...we're working with Hunter and his deputies."

"What?!?"

Victor sighed. "It wasn't my idea. But the boss has been talking with that Stoker fella, and it sounds like whatever's threatenin' Gomorra, it's going to take everyone we can round up to finish it off."

"Hell with that! First Jackie guns down Spike, then we lose half our number to the Law Dogs, and now you're claimin' he's going to make some deal with Hunter's thugs? You expect me to believe any of that?"

Rachel began to pace back and forth, never taking her eyes or her gun off of Victor. "Maybe you and your brother are tryin' to take over the gang, Vic? Using the boss' name and rep to build up your own? I never did trust Juan - who ever heard of an outlaw priest?"

Vic was getting irritated. For all he cared, Rachel could climb back into whatever hole she had come from. But she had already gunned down two Dogs, and if left to run amuck, she'd undoubtedly kill more. He didn't know if he believed everything Blackjack had told him, but Juan did. And that was enough for him. Without the Law Dogs helping them, they were dead meat. And if Rachel gunned more of them down, there was no chance for any kind of alliance. And for the party the boss was planning, Vic wanted as many guns at his back as possible.

"You can probably take me, Rach. You might even be able to take the boss..."

"If he's still alive."

"...if he's still alive. Whatever. But you willing to take that chance? Blackjack's never steered us wrong yet. Neither's my brother, when you think about it. If both of them say that heavy shit's comin' down and we need the Law Dogs, I'm inclined to believe them."

"Besides...you can always shoot your share of Law Dogs later. If they're signed on with us now, I just figure there's more of them that'll take some bullets before they get to us."

Rachel eyed him cautiously. Then nodded. "That sounds more like the Victor Navarro I fought beside. The only one in the gang beside Jackie, Spike, and Eddie that were worth more than a bucket of spit."

"Not that I'm sure I totally believe you, but if you want to show me Blackjack, I reckon I'll take a look and see what he has to say. Or put a bullet through his head, if he's walkin' dead. Either way's fine with me."

Relived, Victor sighed. "He's supposed to be at Hunter's office in a half-hour. Take the back route and meet him there. I'll meet you later - I've got to check on a few other folks."

Rachel nodded once in acknowledgment, then turned and moved off into the dusk.

This had better damned well be worth it, Victor thought. I don't want to go through that again.

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