Chapter 123:

Chapter 123 - Fastest Gun in the West


Roulette strode through the mouth of the enclave's gate with an air of grim determination. Back when she’d first set out from Trigger City, the girl had never imagined that her ambitions would lead her down such a dark road. Yet here she was: fragile, orphaned.


She found herself questioning her own judgment. Half of those she’d chosen to trust had ended up spitting on her face, and a good chunk of the other half were either dead or missing. Marka was gone. Luca had gunned down her own mother in cold blood. And Morgan–the man she’d crossed an ocean to find–had played an instrumental part in building up the very organization she’d set out to destroy.

Losing her mother had been gut-wrenching, but at least she was used to loss. She knew from experience that those wounds would scar over with time. Being lied to by her closest friends, however, was another thing entirely. How long has he been playing me for a fool? she wondered. Was the amnesia just a lie? A way of getting me to hold off on the tough questions and lower my guard?

Roulette kept her gaze forward, determined to avoid looking his way. She didn’t want to give away how anxious she felt–how concerned she was about their prospects of victory now that Morgan’s loyalties had been thrown into question. For all she knew, he still had ties to the Czars and their leader.

For all she knew, he’d been waiting for a chance to shoot her in the back all this time.

All of a sudden, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She spun to face its owner, eyes wide with alarm, only to find that all was well; nobody was coming for her.

It was just Mimi.

“Wow. Twitchy,” the girl remarked, smiling uneasily. “Should I start announcing myself from now on?”

“Sorry, Mimi,” Roulette sighed. She exhaled softly and unclenched her fists, trying to will herself to relax. “It’s been a rough mornin’.”

To her surprise, Mimi gave a solemn nod. “I know,” she said. “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now. But maybe this will help?”

With that, she reached for something colorful dangling from her belt. Roulette couldn’t quite see what it was in the sparse light of the enclave’s entryway, but whatever it was, Mimi seemed to be handling it with care.

“This is what I made at the Gunsmithy in Trigger City,” she explained, pressing the object into her waiting hands. “It’s an attachment–a stock for Lady Luck.”

Roulette couldn’t make out too many details, but the vibrant hues of the wheel set into its side came through even in the dim. “An attachment? What does it do?”

“It’ll steady your aim at the very least, as all stocks do. As for how it will enhance your abilities, though, I really couldn’t say. I guess you’ll just have to try it and see?”

Wracked as she was by feelings of doubt and paranoia, the unexpected gift did much to lift Roulette’s spirits. Grateful beyond words, she stopped mid-stride and threw her arms around her unsuspecting friend, who stiffened up in surprise at the sudden display of affection.

“Aheh… Yes, yes. You’re very welcome,” Mimi said drily, giving her an awkward pat on the back. “Make it up to me by testing it out on Gunn, hmm? With any luck, you’ll blow his head off right away and we can all retire to the local watering hole for brunch.”

Roulette broke off the hug, blinking in confusion. “...Brunch?”

Mimi winced and clucked her tongue. “Rou, dear, after this we really must take some time to focus on your cultural education. Thankfully, I happen to know a lovely little patisserie just off Colt Street…”

The details died on her lips as they emerged into the city proper. The shoddy state of the enclave’s walls had prepared them all to expect a certain amount of austerity from the city itself, but the reality was so much worse than anyone could have expected: cracked earthen streets riddled with potholes and puddles of oil; run-down buildings that looked to be leaning on each other for support; stray animals peering out at them from alleyways, desperate for their next meal.

Taken together, those sorry sights told a tale of longstanding neglect. Everything here–whether animal, vegetable, or otherwise–existed in service to Gunn’s operation. All roads led to the arms factory, and every other structure for blocks around appeared as little more than a piece of detritus caught in its overpowering orbit.

To Roulette, it was like seeing her father’s worst nightmares made manifest. Just as he’d predicted, the arms trade had made slaves of his countrymen, and nobody had ever mustered the gumption to put a stop to it…

Until now.

But the most disturbing aspect of the chilling scene before them wasn’t the filth, or the architecture, or the strays. It was the fact that Gunn himself had come to greet them. He stood less than a hundred feet from the southern gate with his arms crossed, observing them coolly as they trickled forth into his domain. His duster flapped in the wind, illuminated by the occasional patch of smog-filtered sunlight, and Roulette could tell that he was smiling.

“Hoo-ey, I’ve been waitin’ for this!” he crowed. “The rebels’ve finally come knockin’ on my door, ready to die for the cause!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, Gunn!” Roulette yelled back. “We’ve gotten this far, and took down half your crew on the way. What makes you think you’ll fare any better than they did?”

Gunn answered with a patronizing tip of his hat. “S’cuse me, little lady, but I was hopin’ to talk to the leader of your little outfit,” he drawled. He squinted at them for a moment, then pointed at Morgan, singling him out with a jab of his finger. “There you are! Morgan Sarada–everyone’s favorite scum-suckin’ traitor. How’ve ya been, buddy? How’s the family?”

Morgan opened his mouth to respond, but Roulette cut him off by taking an angry step forward. “If you want to talk to a leader,” she snapped, “You talk to me.”

That seemed to give him pause. Gunn straightened up and rolled his shoulders, smirking at her with unconcealed skepticism. “Okay,” he replied. “And who’re you?”

Roulette set her jaw and reached around to pull the SMG from her back. “I’m the girl you left behind at Wassinger Ranch.” With a steady hand, she slid Mimi’s stock into place at the butt of her weapon, her eyes never leaving the condescending curve of Gunn’s shit-eating grin. “...And I’m the woman who’s goin’ to bury you for good.”

Recognition dawned on his face, but it did little to counteract the disrespect dominating his demeanor. “Well, I’ll be! Little Petunia’s all grown up!” he sneered. “You’re free to take your best shot, o’ course… But we’ve got rules here in Ballistona Enclave. Here, we don’t stoop to solvin’ disputes the usual way.”

Impossibly, his grin seemed to widen even further as he spoke his next words: “We solve ‘em through organized violence. You ‘n’ me are goin’ to have us a little shootout.”

She snorted at that. If Gunn thought a few rules and formalities were going to save him from her, he had another thing coming. “Whatever you want, Gunn,” she called. “How you choose to die makes no difference to me.”

“Cocky. I like that.” With a shrill whistle, he pointed at Beretta and waved her over. “You! Little girl! You look like you wouldn’t be worth much in a fight–why don’t you make yourself useful and come over here?”

Beretta looked around nervously, no doubt wondering what she’d done to get dragged into the middle of their dispute. “Me? Why? What do you want me to do?”

“Just get over here! I ain’t askin’ again.”

With a sheepish glance toward Roulette, she scuttled off toward Gunn, coming to a stop about twenty feet short of him. “Good enough!” he barked. “Now, stand off to the side, and when the mood takes ya, yell ‘draw’.”

The girl cocked her head. “Is that all?”

Apparently tired of her questions, the man scowled and waved her aside. With that, she moved into position and caught Roulette’s eye, looking positively terrified.

It’s alright, Berry, she thought to herself, striding forward to meet Gunn’s challenge. Soon enough he’ll be dust. He won’t bother us, or anyone, ever again. With no time to figure out the function of her new gun mod, Roulette decided to stick with what she knew.

Breathe. Plant your feet. Fire.

It would have to be enough.

She held her weapon steady, muzzle pointed at the ground, as she awaited Beretta’s call. She’d never been in a shootout before, but she knew enough to know that it was all about reaction time. Whoever shot first would likely be victorious, and unlike her, Gunn was getting on in years.

How fast could he possibly be?

“Draw!” Beretta squeaked, covering her eyes with her hands.

This was it. Her moment. She moved to–


Something slammed into her chest, stealing the breath from her lungs.


She collapsed to the ground, gun slipping from her hands.

I didn’t… I didn’t even see him move…?

Warmth spread across her torso–her own blood, she realized.

Is this… It?

Then, with a shudder, she felt her whole body go cold.

Patreon iconPatreon icon