By Steve Crow A tale of Deadlands Weird West

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One shot's all I need, Wendy mused as she fingered the sidearm. One shot and so many ghosts are finally put to rest...

It was easy to find Rachel Sumner. Since the alliance between Nate and Jackson's gang, the outlaw had made no attempt to hide herself. Apparently, she figured that her service to Gomorra forgave her previous sins. Wendy was going to show her the error of her ways. Hefting the Navy revolver, Wendy stepped through the doors of the saloon.

Rachel Sumner contemplatively spun the cylinder on her Peacemaker, then snapped it back into place with a flick of her wrist. Sure, it wasn't good for the revolver, but she could care less. Another couple of weeks and her new model Army revolvers would arrive. Her old Navy Dragoons had been lost during the shootout with Knicknevin's forces; well, not lost, exactly, but having the barrels bitten off had rendered them pretty much useless.

Rachel smiled at the memory. She didn't much cotton to shooting hellspawn, but the thought of cramming both her guns down a monster's mouth and blowing its brain out the back of its head gave her a warm glow.

Sumner glanced around the Green-Eye. It was quiet this time of the afternoon, and the few patrons gave her a wide berth. She had to admit that she liked it this way. Might as well take advantage of the free drinks while I can, she thought, nodding to the bartender for a refill. The townsfolk will forget how Jackie and I bailed them out soon enough.

Besides, Rachel had other things on her mind. Jackie was making noise about trying to rein her in again. Claiming that now that the gang had worked with Hunter, things should "straighten out".

But while that was Jackie's outlook, it certainly wasn't Rachel's. Sumner had no interest in becoming the sweetheart of Gomorra. She was an outlaw. She robbed banks and held up coaches... and killed people. Outlaws didn't work with the law, or hunt down walkin' dead and demons.

Besides, Rachel was getting bored with Gomorra. Even before the... ‘troubles,' Jackie just wouldn't let her have any fun. If he wanted to play Robin Hood, that was fine, but she needed a little more excitement in her life. Plus she'd already spent all the loot from their last job, and needed the money.

Then there was her little sister, Jewel. Last Rachel heard, Juliet was up to something south of the border – smuggling for the Mexican Armada, if the rumors were true. Whatever she was doing was likely to be more interesting than anything in these parts; after all, Jewel could never stay out of trouble for long. Maybe she could get the old Sumner gang back together for one more cross-country "terror-trail"...

But one memory nagged at the back of Rachel's mind, an old debt that still hadn't been paid. She couldn't shake the image of the shootout between Hunter's men and the gang – and those who'd fallen before it was over. She hadn't cared much for Cletus and Twitch, but Eddie was another matter altogether – and it was the principle that mattered. You don't just "forgive" the death of friends.

When someone crossed that line, you came down on them. Hard.

Rachel raised a hand and crooked a finger towards the bartender, who looked older than the rotgut he served. The somber fellow grabbed another bottle and scurried across the room...

...just as the saloon's swinging doors slammed open. In one fluid motion, Rachel swung on the newcomer and brought her Peacemaker to bear. The bartender dove behind the bar and everyone else ran for cover, leaving an open path for the deputy as she strode into the room, an enormous Navy revolver held level at Rachel's face.

Speak of the devil, Rachel thought, as the young Chinese woman approached her. The Peacemaker rock-steady in her left hand, she took her cigarillo from her mouth with her right and tapped the ash off on the floor.

"Something I can do for you, Deputy Cheng?" Sumner asked casually.

Wendy covered the distance between the door and Rachel's table in a few quick strides. "I'm here to deal with you once and for all, Sumner," she snarled.

Rachel raised an eyebrow. "I don't care for guns pointed in my direction, little girl. I suggest you put it down... slow and careful."

"Why?" Wendy spat. "So you can gun me down like Corky... Hector... Warwick?"

"I've got no beef with you, girl. And you're misinformed. Hendricks wasn't mine." Slowly, carefully, Rachel rose to her feet. Her gun never wavered.

"Why the hell should I believe you?" Wendy asked.

"You shouldn't." Rachel shrugged. "I'm scum. I don't pretend otherwise. But I know where every bullet I've fired has ended up. Twitch put three bullets in her, and he's gone. The fourth was Jackie's... You got a problem with that, I suggest you take it up with him."

"What about Warwick and Casparo?" Wendy asked. Rachel thought she saw a momentary flash of uncertainty in the deputy's eyes, but she wasn't going to gamble on it.

"Don't get me wrong, Cheng. When you folks wiped out half my gang, I went for everyone I thought was responsible. If that demon hadn't reared its ugly head, I would've eventually gotten ‘round to you... and your father."

Whatever uncertainty once graced Wendy's eyes burst into fury. "Don't you dare mention my father."

Rachel raised her free hand to make the point. "Hey, I didn't kill him – I was there with you and the others, remember? But I'm not going to apologize for me and my kind. We kill people. And in this world, you're either a hunter or a target. How many of my friends did you hunt down, Deputy Cheng?"

Wendy's eyes flickered. "They were criminals."

"True enough. We still are."

The deputy paused, not a little surprised by Rachel's frank reply. The outlaw took the opportunity to press her point. "We kill people. We kill lawmen. But so far, your boss seems pretty happy to leave us alone. Funny how he ignores law-breakers when it's convenient. Take Templeton for example..."

Taking quick stock of the situation, Rachel realized that her reaction might have been a little extreme. She wasn't about to back down, of course; if Cheng wanted a gunfight, she'd give her one. But at the moment, she had bigger fish to fry. Besides, killing the girl would only start another war, and Rachel wasn't sure she had the energy to muster the troops just yet.

So she decided to change the subject instead... "Where'd you get the gun, Deputy?"

"What?" Wendy snapped, drawn away from Rachel's previously biting words.

"Corky's revolver. I thought Hunter buried it with her. How'd you end up with it?"

"I... I don't... remember, exactly," Wendy whispered. Her eyes glazed over, and for the first time today Rachel saw her as something other than a target. It was also the first time the deputy's strange behavior came to the fore. Cheng wasn't one to fly off the handle. Sure, her father had been killed; Rachel could appreciate how that would tickle one's trigger-finger. But Wendy had always struck the outlaw as someone with a little more... control.

"You sure you don't want to reconsider pointing that thing at me, Deputy?"

Wendy paused, all but staring off into space. Something's wrong, Rachel thought. This ain't Wendy pointing a gun at me. This is something else...

Seconds or minutes later, Wendy backed away cautiously. Her gun hand never wavered, but doubt clouded her eyes as random thoughts flashed through her mind.

Why did she have Corky's revolver? Corky must have given it to her before the shootout... No, Corky died with it in her hands. Wendy had seen it at the funeral, seen Hunter gently place it in the coffin...

Dimly, Wendy remembered a glowing light... a figure... a woman...

"I'll... get back to you," Wendy mumbled. With every bit of concentration she could manage, she backed smoothly out the doors, holding her gun – no, Corky's gun... level at the outlaw the entire time.

Rachel waited a few more seconds, until it was clear that Wendy was gone. Then she spun her revolver around and back into its holster. Dismissing the odd sequence of events, she grabbed the hunched bartender and pointed to her empty glass.

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