Chapter 20

Isabella Morningstar arrived at Riggs station by train alongside Doctor Micheal Derulo. It was a beautiful spring day, and the two of them were a short ride from Blackwater. They headed for the nearby stable, but the good doctor looked worried.

"I still think it's too early to go back. The plate only went in a week ago." Micheal protested as Izzy marched ahead.

"No time to wait, Hudson said my brain is fine, and The Van Der Linde gang doesn't sit still for long," Isabella said.

"I knew you were going to say that, so I went ahead and sent a few letters. I'm sure Rosalyn has had plenty of time to keep them distracted. She's a sly girl. We should be meeting the detective at the stable, along with a few surprises for you." Doctor Micheal said and pulled out a few papers for her.

"Surprise?" Izzy asked and looked to the paper. "These are my registration papers for Aristotle."

"Yup." The Doctor said with a grin.

"How sweet," Isabella said with no ounce of emotion to her voice. Making Micheal's face sink to worry.

"Does that make you feel… excited?" He asked.

"Sure," Isabella said in the same monotone.

"Listen, Izzy, I don't think we should go through with this plan. It's a cock and bull scheme that relies on Rosalyn knowing exactly what they are going to do. Sure she's spent the past month with them, but does she know them?" Doctor Michela ran in front of Isabella and stopped her, ahead was the stable. Standing out front was a man in a very nice suit smoking a cigar. Surrounding him, a slew of heavily armed men ready to ride. Isabella looked to them, then back to the Doctor.

"Go now, go find your family. I thank you for everything you have done, but I don't plan on coming back." Izzy said sternly.

"Why!?" The Doctor shouted. "After everything I did to save you! You go throw it away! There's something wrong Izzy! You're not right! If you get as much as thrown from a horse.

"What's the point of being here if it's a shit hole where murdering thieves can steal everything from you? Your life, your love, yourself, your family? I run no more from a fight. Dutch Van Der Linde, Colm O'Driscoll and Arthur Morgan deserve to hang for their crimes, and I plan to drag each of their sorry asses to the rope if my name isn't Isabella Morningstar. I am the devil in red, I am hell's spawn to suffer in the fires of pain and misery for all my days and may those demons who parade the lord's name burn with me." Isabella said with dark emptiness. Doctor Micheal swallowed hard and stepped back from her as the gentlemen waiting at the stable closed the gap.

"My my, Don't mind me interrupting, but my name is Detective Andrew Milton of the Pinkerton agency. Are you by chance the Lady in Red Ms Beans wrote to me about? Rather silly the lady insists on the code names when they are so obvious right boys?" He asked his crew who chuckled and glared down at the Doctor who nervously was being inspected.

"I don't care what you call me, here," Izzy said and handed Arthur Morgan's Journal over to the Detective.

"What's this?" He asked.

"The personal memoirs of Arthur Morgan, Dutch's best gun and longtime companion. He's like a son of the Dutch." Izzy said and took off her hat. A few of the boys hollered at the sight of her stitched up face.

"Holy cow! Looks like Frankensteins Monster."

"More like Frankenstein's Bride, she's still a looker." Two of the boys started to banter.

"Hey now! Where are your manners, the lady has just given us a gift? We should repay her. You all know of the famed Bounty Hunter the Devil in Red. This wonderful lady is the one and the same. Ain't that right sweetheart?" Milton said and walked up to her. "She's going to tell us all about this Dutch Van Der Linde The Lady of Blackwater has paid us so much to catch. We should pay attention, every advantage counts." Milton spoke loudly for all of them to hear. Before turning back to Izzy to look her in the eye. A smile on his face as he blew a cloud of smoke away from her.

"Got an extra one of those?" Izzy asked.

"Anything the lady wants, she gets." He said and whistled. The rider behind him tosses a pristine cigar her way. Izzy tried to catch it but missed. Then stared at her hand as it had betrayed her.

"I got it," Milton said and bent down and picked it up. "Still dry, no harm I hope?" He said and did the courtesy to light it for her. Izzy taking it regardless and having a puff.

"I heard what happened, and I'm so glad that not even a bullet got in the way of me meeting you."

~ Blackwater ~

Dutch was sitting at the poker table with Mrs Grimshaw in the middle of their camp. A tidy table draped in leather with a few empty bottles scattered about. They were dressed comfortably, Dutch sitting in his finely tailored red and black paisley vest with matching fancy pants to go with it. The two of them counting their pennies as Pearson and uncle complained loudly. As they stormed off the proof of their loss was a large stack of coins sitting in front of Dutch.

"Good game my friend, glad to have come to a fair and equal standstill on that one," Dutch said with a laugh.

"Well, you know what they say. Better leave the table a little richer then broke. Or dead. Hahaha," She laughed along with Dutch as he slapped his knee in delight.

"You are always a delight." Dutch laughed.

"Well, It's high time to see if those lazy girls finished their chores," she said and stood up dusting off her skirt.

"Nah, I told them to go to town for a bit. I got a special ferry boat ride at the weeks end and we'll be heading west after that. Best they get to enjoy some civilization before we move on." Dutch said as he put his feet up on the table to count his winnings.

"What! Dutch why you, what are we going to wear tomorrow if the laundry isn't done!" She fumed and pushed Dutch lightly on the shoulder.

"Now now! I got plenty to wear, relax my friend. This time next week you will be richer than a queen. Now go help Pearson get dinner going. Arthur and Hosea are due to be back soon." Dutch explained.

"Yeah and then you can tell them all the details of your new little plan. Foolish I think. Do you honestly think Rosalyn is going to let you into her private boat party? I don't see no invitation." Mrs Grimshaw said and slapped his feet off the table.

"I don't need one, Micah found us away on board through the bartender. She won't know I'm there until all her pennies are mine." Dutch said and stacked his coins on the table making them sing against one another.

"A foolproof plan then if Micah is leading the charge then?" Mrs Grimshaw asked.

"You doubt him I understand, but little Jenny is honestly the mastermind. You see she has an invitation. As Sheriff Candy's date." Dutch said with a snicker.

"How did she do that?" Mrs Grimshaw asked.

"You'll have to ask her, apparently she had to take it off another woman. Not too sure what happened other than that. She was a bit vague on the details." Dutch said and pulled out a cigar. He started pawing his vest, flipping through pockets and finding them empty. "Have you seen my lighter?" he asked.

"Here, I got you." Someone new said as they approached the table. A red gloved hand holding out a silver lighter out to Dutch.

"Thank you-..." Dutch said looked to see the light had a red bullet on it. Not recognizing it turned over his shoulder to see who handed him the lighter.

"Who the hell are you!?" Mrs Grimshaw shouted. Once Dutch saw the face of the intruder he jumped up from the table, spilling the stack of pennies onto the ground along with his cigar. "What the hell is this?" He asked. Isabella Morningstar standing behind him.

"Good afternoon Dutch," Izzy said and bent down to pick up the lost cigar. She stuck it between her lips and lit it taking a very long drag from it too.

"I took you for a man of better taste, Dutch," Izzy said as she took another deep slow drag and filled the air with smoke as Mrs Grimshaw investigated her face.

"Who the hell are you? And how did you get into camp." She said sternly and turned to Dutch who looked like he had seen a ghost.

"Nice to see you too. My god, you look old." Izzy said and sat at the table. She put her boots up and smoked the cigar calmly as the old lady fumed.

"Why you little."

"You're dead," Dutch said with a shaky voice. A few others in camp approached the poker table now that Dutch was alarmed.

"You know what's funny. I always thought a bullet would kill me." Izzy said and took off her hat and set it on the table showing off her disfigured face. "I've taken two back to back and yet, I'm still fucking here. Strange, it's like bullets can't kill me or something." Izzy absently mindedly said and pursed her lips.

"Izzy?" Mrs Grimshaw asked as she looked at the redhead with shock. Izzy picked up the cards on the table and started to shuffle.

"Ah, you do remember me. Good. Come, play me around." Izzy said and gestured to the chairs.

"I should shoot you right now, to test that theory of yours," Dutch said.

"You could, but if I don't leave. The band of Twenty men surrounding your camp will come and kill you all. That's a really bad way for a poker game to end right Dutch? We shouldn't cause too much trouble tonight. It's a special night." Izzy said bluntly and started to deal three hands.

"Pearson, why don't you bring us some drinks," Izzy shouted to the cook.

"I don't know you," Pearson said defensively. "Ah I know, but get it for me please," Izzy said as the camp cook looked to Dutch nervously.

"Get her a drink then, and let us play cards," Dutch said and sat down.

"I won't play with this backstabber." Mrs Grimshaw said bitterly.

"Come on Mrs Grimshaw, I never could beat you before, let me try," Izzy said but the monotone of her voice scared the old woman back.

"How in the world did you survive Arthur shooting you in the face, it's impossible," Dutch said and looked wide-eyed at Izzy's scar over her left eye. Pearson finally dropping off a half-full bottle of whiskey to the table.

"Impossible, that's a funny word. I see impossible things happen every day now. Such as what I am going to say next. Dutch. I have a proposition for you. If you cooperate. I will see they treat you kindly." Isabelle said and pushed the bottle to Dutch first to take a swig. Which he did

"Why how generous and who is they," Dutch said as he grimaced from the booze, very rarely intimidated into a game of poker. The backup of the few boys left in camp showing up, made the Gangster feel more at ease.

"I have my backup, you see," Dutch said.

"Bunch of worthless children who can't see a lady in bright red sneak right past them," Izzy said and took the bottle and took a swig and slammed it into the middle of the table empty.

"Who's the freak?" Bill asked.

"I'm not too sure," John said at his side as they watched from a distance. Dutch, Mrs Grimshaw and the Lady in Red sit down to a game of Poker. The card flicked about the table as the tension started to grow.

"What the hell is wrong with her face?" Bill asked.

"Hey, she looks tougher than you lot." Micah interrupted coming up behind them with a laugh.

"Shut up," John said as the three of them waited with hands on their pistols.

"Alright, I'll start this off with 20 cents, and before you tell me this deal of yours. You tell me honestly how many men you brought with you? You might be a little more roughed up Izzy Whizzy, but you're still the same scared little girl when we first met." Dutch said and slapped down his coins and picked up his hand. Mrs Grimshaw silently playing in as well as Isabella glared at Dutch.

"I'm in. You're right Dutch, I'm such a scared little girl." Izzy said, licking her teeth as she tapped her cards on the table. Then used them to flick her coins into the centre. She then burned the top card in her hand and proceeded to show the flop. "Alright, You have three choices Dutch. You can go back to Blackwater, proceed to continue down your path of crime and meet your end tangled up in the hangman's noose. " Izzy said and revealed not a playing card, but a tarot card. Dutch saw the grim reaper in her hand and stood up suddenly only to see when he blinked the card was merely the ace of spades.

"What the hell is this?" He asked.

"Don't fall for it Dutch, she's doing something funny with those cards." Mrs Grimshaw said looking intently at Izzy's fingers. This time standing up as she revealed the next card.

"I could never fool you, Mrs Grimshaw, you always knew I was sneaky. It makes my heart warm, knowing you are caught up in this." Izzy said with a smirk placing the ace of diamonds on the table. "Your second option is to run. Run as far as you can. Leave behind your friends, your boys, your crimes. Then, after I've given you a head start. Let all these innocent folk go. I'm going to come to you. All by myself. Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a deer?" Izzy asked and revealed the final card. The ace of clubs.

"How many aces are in that deck?" Dutch asked. No one at the table was sitting now as Izzy stood up and fanned the cards in her hands.

"You're last choice, you and me. Right now. Pistols in the field. At the strike of the town bell. We shoot, and the last man standing gets to walk away." Isabella said with a grimace. "I'm all in." She said and pulled out of her pocket a stack of cash and dropped it on the table.

Everyone in camp stopped to look at the wad.

"I can't afford that," Dutch said glowering at Izzy.

"Then put your horse in." Izzy challenged Dutch.

"Now you listen here, you don't show up after all this time and think because you played some flashy trick on me that I would be scared of you," Dutch said and walked up to face to face with Izzy. He took the cigar from her and ashed it in the palm of his gloved hand. "I'm glad you survived, but I don't believe for a second that you have any sort of backup, and I'm not going to play the quick and the dead with you," Dutch said and picked up the wad of cash on the table. "I will take this, however." He said and proceeded to pocket it.

"Good, I hope you spend it wisely. A token from me to buy the freedom of the boys who suffered being your sons. This isn't over between us Dutch. I'm coming for you." Izzy said and took out her pocket watch and checked the time. Dutch glanced down at it, and suddenly went red with rage, but bit his lip.

"This time tomorrow, if you're not gone from here. My friend Mr Andrew Milton will be dealing with your gang from now on. I have other fish to catch before I focus all my undying attention on you. See you soon daddy." Izzy said with a malicious smirk and turned to leave. Dutch grabbed her arm as she reached for her hat.

"You're not going anywhere." Dutch threatened when suddenly. A gunshot sounded in the distance and the empty whiskey bottle on the table shattered into pieces.

"Where did that come from!" Bill shouted as many others in camp ducked down behind the carts and barrels. The camp was pretty empty all except for; John, Bill, Pearson, and Micah. All of whom pulled out their repeaters and pistols and aimed who shot into camp but couldn't see anything to shoot. Reverend Swanson and Uncle there too, taking cover attempting to hide.

"Dutch! I can't see anyone!" John shouted.

"They must be in the trees!" Bill shouted.

"No on the hill!" Micah called out as they all panicked.

"Hold it! Put your guns down!" Dutch let go of Izzy and stepped back away from her as he shouted to the boys. "Everybody calm down! This is all a big misunderstanding that's all. No one is getting shot." Dutch bellowed trying to quell the panic. Izzy picked up her hat and dusted it free of the glass shards.

"As I said, Twenty men. However, there are only eight rifles. Care to find out if one of them has you in their sights?" Izzy asked as she put her hat back on.

"You're a coward," Dutch said as Mis Grimshaw knocked the table over and pulled out a pistol of her own and took cover.

"What are we doing Dutch!"

"Wait a darn minute," Dutch said and pulled at his hair in panic.

"Relax everyone, Dutch is right. No one is getting shot today. Unless you meet me in the field of course.' Izzy said calmly and started to walk out of camp. "Before I leave, Let me say this."

"You know, I read the bible once upon a time. I read it a lot, My uncle would read it to me, when he would justify what he did to me, and I remember this one part in Matthew 7 that stood out. Are you familiar with it?" Izzy asked. "Perhaps, the good reverend would know," Izzy asked as she caught a glance of his orange frizzled hair. "It says "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Izzy began to speak as she started to walk away. The further she went, the more she began to shout to everyone who in their various hiding spots looked at her confused and afraid.

"On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'" Izzy shouted and caught eyes with the Pastor shivering by the coffee pot. "And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.' Izzy said her words echoing on the air as she walked away. No one dared draw or take aim as Izzy walked away. Her dark green coat billowing behind her. She whistled loudly, and the mighty black stallion Aristotle galloped out of the darkness. She swiftly mounted the beast and looked back at the camp. Dutch frozen in place in a standstill as the buzzing of the crickets started to grow. The sun setting in the distance and the world grew dark as Izzy turned to a silhouette in the night.

Izzy kicked the horse into a jog as he let out a tough whinny before bolting away from the Van Der Linde Gang Camp. The boys, too afraid to light the lanterns that night as the Devil had found their camp.