Legal: I do not own Red Dead Redemption or the associated names, places, characters, events etc. All of those are owned by Rockstar Games. Anything not covered by the above rights should be presumed to be purely the creation of the author.
Rating: T – Adult themes, including violence and language.
A/N: Playing, and loving Red Dead Redemption 2, it truly is amazing. Still, out of all the larger-than-life characters, it has to be said my favourite has to be Sadie Adler, and while I'd love to see a future game with her as the protagonist, in the meantime I've got kind of a speculative idea for a storyline, following Sadie's journey through and into the after-events of the game. Let me know what you think, want me to continue? Let me know.
The sun had set a couple of hours back over Lemoyne, and the hot, still air was silent and still. So much so that the sound of the camp deep in the woods carried almost as far as the nearby town of Rhodes. Whooping laughter, singing, bawdy, drunken voices rang out from a campfire surrounded by covered wagons.
Jugs of potent moonshine were passed around, carelessly slopping onto the ground as they rested up after a long and busy day. One of the men stood up, holding up his hands to gesture for the party to quieten down. He was a portly man, wearing ragged, hard-wearing clothes as befitted the climate of the region. He had long, matted, filthy greying hair and a beard that looked like it contained almost a weeks' worth of dinners in it. The only thing about him that was kept in any kind of care was his gun-belt, which was made of black leather, and imprinted with intricate patterns. It held an old, though expertly maintained custom Cattleman revolver, which had served his father in the Civil War. While there were more modern firearms available in Rhodes, he had always figured why discard what had always worked? It had certainly seen a lot of use in his hands, and there was a graveyard nearby that could attest to the fact it was no less effective now than it was when his dad rode across Boulder Blade.
"My good men, today, we have once again struck a strong blow against the Federal Government that will remind them what happens when they try to encroach on our blessed Free State!" He called out drunkenly as his compatriots nodded in approval. He gestured to the wagons. "These stolen goods have been confiscated, taken to be given to those who earned them. We are not like those cowards and overdressed fops in San Denis. We are the last line of defence, the men who are willing to stand up and say 'No more! This is OUR land, and if you want it, you are welcome to try and take it!"
There was a lot of whooping and celebratory gunfire as he said this. The Lemoyne Raiders talked a lot about noble causes like taking back what was owed to them and defending their Free State. Mostly this meant "taxing" things like tax collectors and postal workers. The Federal Government generally just saw them as little more than bandits, thieves, murderers and most importantly, a major obstacle in their advancing plan to bring the country to a civilised united states. While the Raiders had started out as mainly Civil War veterans, the fact that the war had been over for well over three decades and there were hardly any of them who were even born while the conflict so central to their personal identity took place did little to dull their enthusiasm or make them think all they really wanted was an excuse to justify their crimes.
"Serge! You…you…you know what would make this night even more of a celebration?" One of them stammered as they started passing out cigars from one of the boxes taken from the wagons. 'Serge' was no more a sergeant than he was the President. He was given the honorific title by the Raiders, but his own military service amounted to a matter of days when he was a boy before his unit was disbanded due to lack of funding. He knew damn fine what the man was going to say next. "How's about we go into town and get us some ladies?"
"The one thing you will not find in Rhodes is ladies!" Serge told him. "Besides, we can't just wander into town yet. You know the plan. We need to wait until people stop looking for these wagons."
"But I was just thinking…"
"You don't think! That's what I'm for!" Serge told him. "There ain't nothin' we need that we ain't got right here. We've got food, we've got tobacco, we've got drink…and in a few days we'll have plenty of money for the Free State of Lemoyne."
"Oh shut up Pete!" One of the others piped up. "You heard Serge. A couple of days and we'll go offload these wagons up in Emerald Ranch. Then when we've returned what belongs to the people, you can do what you damn well like with your share! Now just take this and shut up!"
Pete had a jug thrust into his hands, and opted to take the advice despite his disappointment. The Raiders continued to drink until one of them held up a hand.
"Hold up, I hear something." He said, silencing them all. He picked up his rifle and popped his cap onto his head. "I heard you! Whoever you are, come out where I can see you and make yourself known to the Free Militia of the State of Lemoyne!"
He levelled his rifle out into the gloom. They could see something coming towards them, something that quickly took on a vaguely human form. The figure held up their hands to indicate they were not holding any weapons. The other started to shift around, all preparing themselves in case they needed to act, readying their hands on their side-arms. The rifleman tightened up his grip, preparing for a warning shot. The figure finally stepped in far enough from the gloom to be seen.
"There's no need for that. I ain't here to cause trouble." A thickly accented voice stated.
"Uncover your face!" Serge ordered. The figure pulled off her hat. The men all relaxed a little seeing that it was a woman approaching, putting away their side-arms. The rifleman raised his weapon to a safe direction.
She was dressed in a very masculine way, with hard-wearing travelling clothes. She was armed, but that was just a sensible precaution for anyone travelling, especially alone. She had sandy-blonde hair, and a very pronounced scar over her brow. It looked like it had been a very deep injury, possibly almost to the bone given the depth of the scar. She gave them a smile. "My idiot horse got startled by a rattlesnake and bucked me. Damned if I can find her at this time. Mind if I rest up here until first light?"
The men looked around each other, murmuring as they considered her. The woman just smiled and headed for the fire.
"I'll take that as a 'yes' then." She stated, crouching down by the fire. She took off her gloves, warming her hands by the fire.
"It's a long way from the road." Serge said as he offered her a jug. The stranger took it, taking a little sip, before passing it back. "What brings you all the way out here?"
"You never know who you'll run into on the roads at this hour." She told him. "My horse is pretty good in the woods if I need to lose people. Unfortunately a little too good as it happens. Dumb mare, no doubt I'll find her by the river in the morning, sunning herself like nothin' happened."
"Ain't that the way." Serge replied, looking her up and down. She was an attractive woman, all things considered, something it seemed hadn't been lost on the rest of his unit. He didn't have to try hard to imagine what they were whispering about as they watched her make herself at home by the fire.
"So, have you come a long way?" He asked her.
"A very long way." She told him.
"Where are you headed?" He asked her.
"San Denis." She informed him.
"Really?" He asked her. "So, what business do you have there? You one of them rabble-rousers heading there to bang on about suffrage?"
"You ask a lot of questions." She responded.
"Like you said, you don't know who you'll meet on the roads at this hour." He commented.
"No, you really don't. Do you Emmanuel?" She asked. The murmuring stopped, and the men all stared at her. Serge took the cigar from his mouth.
"What did you just call me?" He asked her.
"Emmanuel, Emmanuel Edward Lee?" She asked him. She didn't really need him to answer, the reaction she got from the camp was all the confirmation she needed. She pulled out a piece of paper, putting it down on the ground. It was a wanted poster. "It's been a while since that was drawn, but I figure a few weeks without a wash or a shave, sitting around a camp stuffin' yourself so add a few pounds…that could definitely be you."
"It's a set-up!" Serge yelled, leaping to his feet and pulling out his revolver. The others all grabbed their weapons, quickly taking up a perimeter for the ambush. They didn't know if it was Pinkertons, bounty hunters or the law but clearly they had sent her in to distract them while they surrounded them. Serge and his unit started to scan the woods looking for any signs of movement, to see the posse coming for them. The first shot rang out, not from the woods, but from inside the camp. Serge snapped around in time to see one of his Raiders fall, a gaping wound in his head. It was then that he saw the stranger with a revolver in her hand.
With a savage yell, she ran for one of the others, burying a hunting knife in his gut and pulling upwards, opening him up as she swung around and took out a third before he could realise what was going on. She moved as quick as a cougar and just as lethal, she tore through his men, most of them only dimly aware that the ambush they were looking for was right in the middle of their own camp before she blew them away. Serge turned his gun for her, but as he opened fire she spun one of his own men between them, taking the round in her stead.
She threw herself to the ground, firing from her revolver. The round obliterated his kneecap, causing him to fall to the ground. She came over to him, picking up his fallen revolver and putting it in her belt.
"God damn you! ALL OF YOU!" He screamed out. "I am Sergeant Emmanuel Lee of the Lemoyne Militia, and I do not recognise the authority of…"
"Who in the hell are you screaming at?" The stranger asked him.
"The Pinkertons, the law, whoever you've got out there…"
"There ain't no one here but us pal." She assured him, before noticing one of the Raiders crawling away. She levelled her pistol, putting a round through the back of his head. "Well, now there ain't."
"You…you came here alone?" He asked. "There's no way anyone would…"
"I don't need no damn posse getting in the way and then taking a piece of the bounty!" She told him. "Not for a joker like you. That hundred and twenty bucks on your head? That's all going right to me once I drop you off in Saint Denis."
She kicked him over, grabbing his hands and wrestling them behind his back, trussing him up tightly. She slapped his cheek a couple of times. "Now, you don't go anywhere, I just have a few little things to do here."
She started going around the camp, finding whatever could be of use to her, other items she just tossed back to the ground or the wagons. It was when she pulled out her knife and went to one of his boys that he became enraged, watching as she started cutting.
"You God Damned witch!" He screamed at her. "Does dignity mean nothing to you?"
"For people, yeah, but around these parts it seems you boys are a lot like rats. As far as the authorities are concerned the more of you dead the better. All they need is enough to prove that they're dead and they'll pay. It's not much, but it buys dinner. You though, they want you for a hangin'. That's why you get special treatment. They wanted you in one piece to hang. Good thing they never said what condition that one piece had to be in, that knee does not look good."
She took a belt from one of the fallen Raiders and started to fashion a tourniquet. Emmanuel realised she was serious. She didn't care that he would almost certainly lose the leg, she only cared that he was alive when she took him to the police station to collect the bounty. They were only going to hang him anyway; gangrene was the least of her concerns. As she finished up her work, she whistled. A few moments later, a jet black Arabian trotted into the camp.
He just stared at her.
"You…you were telling the truth. You really are alone." He stated.
"Well, not quite. I've got her." She said, flicking a thumb in the direction of her horse as she helped herself to one of the cigars from the camp. "She did buck me because of a rattlesnake, she always was skittish around those, but she never goes too far."
"You're her aren't you?" He asked. "I…I heard stories but, I always thought…"
"Thing about stories is, usually at least parts of 'em are true." She responded, shoving a rag into his mouth. "Now pipe down, because I really like to concentrate on the ride to San Denis. Those gators can be hard to spot."
Some time later in San Denis police station, the chief was busy with his paperwork, signing transfer orders to Sisika, execution orders and suchlike, when he became aware of a commotion out front. He got up from his desk, just as the front door was kicked in. A woman was carrying a large man across her shoulders as she made her way through, before dumping him right on his desk.
"Here you go, I believe you've been looking for this feller, Emmanuel Lee." She declared. The chief just stared at her. "Well, come on, what are you waiting for? Do you have any idea how much that son of a bitch weighs?"
"You brought in Emmanuel Lee?" He asked.
"Trust me, that's him alright." She told him. "Got eight of his boys as well."
"With all due respect ma'am, it's easy to just say you've killed eight…"
The woman pulled out a bag and dumped its contents, eight human ears, onto the desk. The Captain just stared at the scene.
"Alright, so Emmanuel Lee is a hundred and twenty, and I believe the going rate is two dollars a go for Raiders so I make that a hundred and thirty six dollars." She told him, holding out her hand. The chief just crossed his arms. "What? Do you doubt my counting?"
The chief just sighed and went into a drawer in the desk, opening a locked box. She watched as he started to count, before handing her a couple of notes. She just blinked and held up the money.
"Is this a joke?" She asked him. "I brought that son of a bitch in alive, that's a hundred and twenty dollars!"
"Barely!" He snapped at her. "He's bleeding all over the desk!"
"But he's on your desk ain't he?" She asked. "Last count I did he and his boys had killed about eight of the other jokers you'd sent after him, and you're going to try and short me?"
"Have you seen his leg?" He asked. "He's probably going to lose it!"
"Two legs, one leg, eight legs what the hell's the difference? You're just going to hang 'im!" She protested. "Hell, if you do it quick enough he won't need to lose the leg."
"I hired you to bring him in, and to do it in one piece." He told her.
"He is in one piece, he ain't lost the leg yet." She reminded him. "And last I checked, the bounty just called for him ALIVE. It didn't say nothin' about being done up in his Sunday best, clean-shaven and with a smile on his face!"
"You bring in part of the man, we pay you part of the bounty." He told her. "Fifty dollars, take it or leave it."
"We both know what this is really about." She stated, taking a step forward, right into his face. "You sent a bunch of guys that couldn't get the job done. Then a woman comes along and does in three days what all of them failed to do for months. Now, you're trying to cheat me out of what I earned fair and square."
"Take it or leave it." The captain reiterated arrogantly. The woman smiled, before pulling out her revolver, placing it on Emmanuel's skull. "HEY!"
"Seems to me the only way he's any good to you is if you have him here for a hangin', make it look like you and your boys are doing their job." She said, cocking the hammer. "I pull this trigger and he's worthless…and you'll need to mop his brains off the floor to boot!"
The captain thought about it for a moment, before going back to the lock box and getting the rest of the money out. She snatched it off him.
"Thank you for your services Ms…"
"Adler." She answered, putting her revolver away. "Mrs. Sadie Adler."
With that, she turned and trudged out of the police station. She had faced situations like this before. Even though her reputation was starting to spread, there were still those that believed she would accept whatever they were willing to pay for her services. She risked her life every bit as much as any male bounty hunter did. If she was going to do the work, she was going to get the pay. It was that simple.
Sadie got to Doyle's Tavern, eager for a drink and a meal. The Raiders had plenty of moonshine, but that never did sit well with her, and having just been paid, she was eager to get a good meal before heading back out into the wilderness for the next bounty. She tapped the bar twice, at which the barman slid her a whisky, her usual order. She was a regular whenever her business took her out to Saint Denis. There were better taverns, but most of them looked down on a female patron. Since this place had to regularly close down while someone shot all the rats they only cared that the patrons were able to pay. She tossed the money onto the bar, way more than was needed for the drink, but then both she and the barman knew she'd have more than one. She finished her first quickly, banging it on the counter for a second. After pouring it, she let the barman go to see someone else. She let out a sigh as she realised someone was staring at her.
"Unless you're buyin', I'd appreciate it if you'd stare someplace else." She told him.
"It's…it's you, it's really you isn't it?" The stranger asked.
"Well, that's pretty obvious." She answered snidely. "So how about you tell me who you think I am?"
"You're Sadie Adler, the bounty hunter aren't you?" He asked.
"Clearly you know I am." She remarked. "So, do you have a bounty or you just like staring at strangers?"
"My name is Theodore Levin." He said, sitting next to her, offering her a hand. She just looked at it, before shaking her head and looking away.
"You're the one that wrote that book about Calloway aren't you?" She asked him.
"Why, yes! Yes I did!" He stated. "As a matter of fact, my publisher has just ordered a fourth printing run! It's a huge success!"
"Well, good for you." Sadie replied. "I guess people like fiction."
"People like great stories. Unique, fascinating tales!" He declared excitedly. "Unfortunately tales only stay that way for a little while, then people want another story."
"So go write one then." She told him.
"That's exactly what I wanted to do. It's why I've been searching for you the length and breadth of this land." He told her. This made Sadie pause. She turned to him slowly, her hand straying to her holster.
"Now, saying things like that can get dangerous." She warned him. "I don't much like people following me."
"Please, I mean you no harm, quite the opposite in fact!" He assured her. "The woman that became the most feared and successful bounty hunter in all of West Elizabeth! What could be a greater story than that?"
"No thank you." She replied. "I heard how your story ended for Boy Calloway. I don't much feel like ending up the same way. Now, if you'll excuse me…"
"But…buy…please, hear me out!" He begged her.
"Now listen, I'm starting to lose my patience here, and when I lose my patience, bad things happen to people!" She snapped. "Now leave me al…"
"We had a mutual friend!" He rushed out, trying to think of something to say to convince her.
"Well, it's a small world that may just be the case." She told him. He pulled in really close to whisper to her.
"You called my book about Calloway fiction. There's only one person that knew that was the case." He said, being mindful of the fact his best-seller would become worthless if anyone ever realised it was complete fabrication. "My collaborator was Tacitus Kilgore."
Sadie paused as she heard the name. It was a name that she hadn't heard in a long time, but one that still resounded with her to this day. She gestured to Levin to sit.
"You're paying." She told him. "Barkeep! Let's see some beans over here!"
"Tacitus did speak of you in the short time we knew each other. It was how I knew you'd be a wonderful follow-up to Calloway…"
"Just…don't do me any favours like you did Calloway." She responded. "So, what do you want?"
He pulled out a pad and some pens.
"I just need to ask you some questions." He responded. "The first is, how exactly does one go from a rancher to being one of the most feared people in all of the State?"
"Now that…that is a mighty big question." She told him, gesturing to a bottle behind the bar. "At least a three dollar bottle question."