2 January 1932 Noon The underground bar, the ‘Alveare’
The bar operated by the Martillo Family.
During daytime this was also the place where members of the organizations had their meals. Today, many members of the organization, high-ranked and low, were gathered here.
Firo, the manager in charge of the underground casino, had originally come to the shop for something to eat. But when he opened the door and walked in, he noticed something different from usual. The large, round table that should be at the centre had been moved to one side, leaving behind a very large space in the middle.
“…What’re you doing?”
There, a couple in evening dress were diligently placing down some things.
“Shhh! Quiet, quiet! We’re about to knock it down!”
“Gonna knock it down!”
Lined up on the floor were thin, rectangular objects, and like mahjong tiles were marked with patterns not unlike numbers on dies. He finally understood, remembering that this was bought a few days ago at the ‘general shop’, and were towed back using Ennis’s car.
“What, aren’t these dominos? What’re you thinking of doing, putting these things on the floor?”
In contrast to the dumbfounded Firo, the couple, Isaac and Miria, continued carefully putting down the dominos. These two people were Firo’s friend, and had only come here a few days ago.
“To knock it down?”
“To knock it down!”
Firo totally didn’t comprehend.
“If you’re going to knock it down, why spend so much effort putting them in place? Is there any meaning to it?”
“That’s a really tricky question. If we had to say it, it’d be because they’re dominos!”
“Domineers, right?! Dominists, right?!”
“Don’t talk like you’re some mountaineer.* Just what on earth are they up to?”
- Thanks to e_dimension/Janice for clearing up the meaning! To quote her:
- “Firo means exactly what he means here, as ancients who lived in the mountains sometimes referred to themselves as "dominer/dominists of the world's height" or simply "one who's able to conquer it all". Very obscure reference to old historical writings that prob'ly doesn't make any sense to most D:”
At Firo’s question, the bespectacled man sitting at the bar counter answered,
“It’s a very popular game among the children. The children, who don’t generally know the rules of dominos, all play it like this!”
“I see…… Speaking of which, you guys are blocking the way.”
Firo, who only wanted to have a little something before leaving, didn’t think this was fun at all. But all the surrounding seats in the bar were full, so he had no choice but to walk further in. But--
“What the? There are even dominos placed inside.”
More people were gathered inside the bar.
“Mr. Pezzo and Mr. Randy, why’re you here too?”
“Oh! We’re waiting t’ see the last instant when it all falls! It’s very interesting.”
“I played it a lot when I was kid too!”
Behind the two seniors*, two girls were currently lining up dominos very seriously.
- seniors as in higher ranking than him rather than elderly…
“Even Lia and Ennis are playing!”
“Veli interesting! Dis.”
“Yes! Firo, why not play together?”
Many dominos were already placed inside, forming a geometric shape.
“I just wanted to have a little something to eat!”
“Firo, you’re blocking the way!”
“If you’re not going to help, then get out of the way!”
Looking to one side, he saw that two seniors who were higher ranked than him had also joined in the game.
“Mr. Ronnie and Mr. Yagulma…”
“Ah, when I was young, I used to play this kind of game with chess. It raises your powers of concentration- you should try too!”
“No way I’m playing! If people from other organizations see is, we’re going to be the laughing stock!”
Firo watched, stunned, as he waved his hands in refusal. While rapidly setting down dominos, Ronnie remarked,
“That’s not a problem! At that time I’ll dispose of all those people!”
“Please don’t say such terrifying things so seriously!”
He didn’t know whether to approve of this or to feel happy at this kind of peaceful scene. Firo’s head started hurting and he just waited by the bar for a seat to be vacated.
“But come to think of it, who designed this impressive pattern? It can’t be Isaac and Miria, can it?”
Suddenly, everyone in the shop cast their eyes at one man.
“……I like these kinds of things.”
At the same time.
“You’re absolutely sure!”
Hearing his men’s report, Gustavo verified expressionlessly.
“Yes! There’s absolutely no mistaking it: it was the case from earlier on. I saw it very clearly- even the location of the marking was the same.”
Gustavo sat back in his chair, drawing in a deep breath.
Last night, after discovering Roy’s movements, he had sent one of his men to investigate the house Roy was watching as a precaution, but ended up discovering an Asian and a Caucasian entering that villa, that black bag in hand. For further confirmation, they continued monitoring that place.
Then they saw a fat, black woman and the two people from just now walking out, that case in the woman’s right hand. What was stranger was the place those folk headed to.
Their destination was--- the The Informer, DD Newspaper Agency. After they went in, they never saw them come out.
“Just what the hell’s going on?”
The placed Roy was watching was actually the villa of Eve Genoard’s family. Furthermore, he had come into contact with Eve from the Genoard family. Since it was not by coincidence, they had to continue monitering the situation.
Roy had targeted this daughter of the Genoard family. In that case, that girl should already know the Genoard family’s ‘underground business’, and would use this to negotiate with us. But Roy shouldn’t know about the Genoard family! He was just a druggie hooligan- how could he know something like this.
The original matter should have ended here at this point, but when he thought about everything that happened afterwards he found everything was linked.
That black woman from the Genoard family taking that black case to the information shop. After meeting up, Eve and Roy headed to the Gandor Family’s underground office.
--What, this isn’t so simple anymore. This definitely isn’t a simple matter.
Gustavo picked up the ashtray again and snapped it with his bare hands. Then, holding the broken ashtray, he said calmly,
“Gandor, information shop, Roy, Genoard.”
He, a savage who lusted for fights, returned to top form and slowly stood up from his chair.
“These people, could they be in together on this?”
“Then, have you found them? Those ‘freelance killers’.”
“Y-, yes, they’re all waiting in a room.”
Hearing Gustavo’s question, the lone underling answered nervously. It was obvious the Gustavo today was completely different yesterday- he had already regained his usual bearing, as though if someone dared to look down on him they’d be instantly beheaded.
“In the same room? Can they be of any use when they've seen each other's faces?”
“That's one thing I can be sure of. They don’t talk among themselves, and our men are also ready.”
Without any special feelings, Gustavo opened the door to that room.
“Hello! You must be the boss, right? Amigo*.”
- amigo: Spanish for ‘friend’
As the room door opened, a sunny voice of a young girl came through.
At the side of the table at the centre of the room, a dark-skinned girl was smiling faintly. She still wore an innocent smile; she should be younger than twenty. This woman wore the traditional Mexican costume; she should be a Mexican. Tucked at her waist were two katanas*, which she had somehow brought into the hotel.
- Katana: single-bladed, Japanese sword.
Beside the woman was a man slumped in a chair, holding a whiskey bottle. He didn’t even need to use a glass and just drunk directly from the bottom, a brilliant contrast with that girl. He had no expression on his face, and had to be upward of fifty-years of age.
Standing opposite the old man was a young man with his arms folded. An unusual long coat was draped around him and he wore a very wide-brimmed hat, revealing a pair of very sharp eyes.
Then there were no more new faces to be seen; they were all his own underlings.
Gustavo grabbed the throat of one underling at the side, and lifted him to the wall with just one hand. That poor underling’s feel dangled off the ground, thrashing and unable to speak.
“What I wanted you to find were 'assassins', not to scout street performers from Central Park. If you've got anything to say, you better explain yourself.”
“Mffffaaa, eh, t-t-there's, n-n-n-no way, there'd be so many ff-f-free-fo-for-hire assassins at a time like this!”
“I don’t want to hear excuses.”
At that moment, the girl sitting by the table acted. In the blink of the eye, the girl disappeared.
In the instant it took for Gustavo to turn his head, there was a flash of silver light under the table and that Mexican girl had already emerged from the underneath, drawing that long sword and pressing it against his throat- Gustavo didn’t even have time to prepare himself.
“Stop quarreling, amigo. Once you see our strength you won’t chatter so much, amigo!”
“Do you have a habit of pointing your blades at your '[i]amigos[/i]'?”
Muttered Gustavo sarcastically and coolly as he flung the underling forcefully onto the floor.
“This isn’t the same, amigo. I just acted when I felt my partner, Murasamia, move by itself. My pal's real bad at keeping quiet.”
‘Muarasamia’ was probably the name of the sword. The girl drew back her sword and slowly sheathed it.
“…You've massive problems as a person, but seems like it's not all talk and no show.”
“Are you praising me? Thanks, amigo!”
“I'm not the slightest interested in being friends with you, so don’t you me ‘amigo’ again.”
None of the others even so much blinked at the girl’s inhuman actions.
“Hmph, can't you guys show a little more spine?”
“W-wait, there’s still one more coming.”
The underling, who had been coughing non-stop, finally regained his voice and reported to Gustavo that one person hadn’t come yet.
“Who? I’m not interested in small fry.”
Just as that underling was about to tell him the name, the room door opened and a man appeared in the doorway, wearing what looked to be glasses with a very strong prescription. Although his face looked youthful, he kept a beard, making his age unguessable. This man didn’t care about the strange atmosphere in the room and said tonelessly,
“I’m very honoured that you’ve gone to such lengths to call me.”
That man looked at Gustavo’s underling and dipped his head.
“But due to a prior contract, I can’t accept your request for killing.”
No one in the room understood the sudden words coming from this man.
“Pl-, please wait a moment! Mr. Felix!”
Felix. When this name was heard, the mood in the room immediately changed. The assassins’ eyes bulged, Gustavo’s men became a little disorderly and the man who had been drinking all along capped the bottle. Gustavo too frowned a little, standing there and not moving a muscle.
Felix? Equally famous as ‘Vino’, the Felix nicknamed ‘Freelancer’? I had heard he was living somewhere in Manhattan, but did he really manage to find this person?
“I'm up for anything once the previous job's over, but I don't accept duplicate requests. I'll take on as many jobs as you want other than that. Anything goes, from moving house to kidnapping.”
With that, he turned to leave. Watching his back, Gustavo felt this person commanded a very imposing aura.
“Wait a moment. You, don’t you want test your strength against ‘Vino’? If you can kill him, then it'll be clear for all just which of you are stronger!”
“That's pointless. I'm not some kid who gets all worked up about being 'the best'. A title like that's nothing worth getting excited about.”
“So that’s to say, you don’t want to fight it out with him?”
“Outside of work, I only kill the fellows who want to kill me. Is that all?”
It was futile pressing the issue. Musing over what he just said, Gustavo suddenly thought of something.
“Wait, didn’t you say you’d also do kidnapping? Then, there shouldn’t be a problem if I hired you right now?”
The man turned this over his mind for a while, then turned around and said,
“I don't mind.”
“You can name your price. Your task is to 'haul over two people here from Hell's Kitchen - one man, one woman- without letting the other territories catch wind of it'. Because it’s other organization’s territory, we can’t act directly.”
This man nicknamed ‘Freelancer’ simply didn’t question about he details, and said outright,
“Then why don't we discuss the price.”
After the ‘Freelancer’ left, Gustavo started relegating tasks to these people
“Hm, we now have twenty people. None of you professional killers move first- wait until ‘Vino’ appears before acting. Since he hasn’t appeared at the locations we’ve attacked, we only have to seize those Gandor Family folk to find out where he’s hiding. If he escapes, you can add another note to your resume, saying ‘Vino’ ran away when he saw you. In other words, I don't give a rat's ass if he gets away. I’ll pay you the reward after it’s all over, since it's always possible someone might backstab us.”
From the sarcasm used when referring to the 'professionals', it was clear Gustavo didn’t fully trust them.
Then, he issued orders to his own underlings.
“We’ve always been taken for fools by others. But this will end.”
Gustavo placed his personal shotgun into an instrument case and slammed his hands on the table.
“We’ll take care of those guys today. Let those who exclusively write articles for the Gandor Family, the shitty reporters of the DD Newspaper Agency, draw the curtains on opening act to this bloodbath! Pump their blood into the DD's printing press, and dye tomorrow’s papers with news in the most brilliant shade of red! Leave no one alive!”
Standing there before the crowd awaiting orders was a man.
“Where? Where, are you, plan, ning, to go?”
Confronting Begg, who was looking at him with astonishment, Gustavo just smiled as he said viciously,
“Let’s see you stop this!”
Seeing Begg frown slightly, he felt for the first time that he was above this man. But to the Gustavo of now, that was no longer significant!
“Yes, understood! ……Yes. Good, we’ll act immediately too.”
In the basement under the jazz bar, Luck was listening to someone on the phone.
“? A girl around 15 years old? No, she never came by!”
After Luck hung up, he turned to Keith and Berga with a troubled expression.
“A day earlier than expected- our friends at DD Newspaper Agency are about to be attacked.”
“Ha! Isn’t that great? Those guys’ lives are cut short by another day.”
“Let’s go! Let’s go, quick! If all goes well it should all end by tomorrow!”
A smile immediately appeared on Luck’s somewhat weary face, and he gave a soft laugh of excitement.
“Yeah, we’ll put aside the matter about drugs for now. It’s reckoning time for the race course, casino, bar, and my assassination- let’s give them a good taste our power!”
The three brothers stowed guns and knives in their breastpockets and pulled on their coats. Finally, Luck picked up the phone again, called some unknown place and just said ‘the health check starts at two’ before hanging up.
“Mr. Tick, you’re in charge of guarding this place! If Claire comes back, tell him ‘the party at DD Newspaper Agency has already started’.”
“Yes! I understand! Please take care too!”
After clasping hands with the somewhat worried Tick, the three headed up from the office.
“But where on earth could that Claire be?”
“Can’t be helped! Even if we told Claire it was tomorrow and told him to play a waiting game, this guy won’t wait.”
“Never mind! If he doesn’t come… Then we’ll just have to work as one!”
--There was a slight feeling of anxiety.
In Keith’s home, after Eve had helped clear up lunch, she sat beside Roy.
“What should we do next?”
Hearing Roy’s question, Eve shook an ‘I-don’t-know’ with her head.
“I’ve been thinking all night- there isn’t much point in you staying here, so go back first! No, even if you said I brought you here, you can see Kate anytime, so it’s still better to go back first!”
--Perhaps you were right- when I saw Kate, I felt that Mr. Keith wasn’t as bad as we thought. Perhaps the information shop people had made a mistake. If that were the case, Brother Dallas was probably alive. In that case, I shouldn’t add to your troubles, and maybe I should return to Benjamin and Samasa.
“Just say you were taken away by me- since I’m escaping anyway, it doesn’t matter if we add a kidnapping to the list of crimes!”
“That’s not it!”
--Ah, don’t talk anymore, hurry up and go back! Hurry back to Benjamin, then see Mrs. Kate afterwards and let her take you to Keith.
--Then, find your brother, Dallas, and have a family union!
Having also settled on doing this, Eve stood up in preparation of telling this to Kate. But at this moment, the front door suddenly opened and in came someone neither of them knew.
“Um, it's Miss Eve and Mr. Roy, right?”
The man slowly walked over to the two dazed people.
“Please come with me.”
“Eh, hey, who’re you? Mrs. Kate… what'd you do to Mrs. Kate?!”
Ignoring his question, that person closed the gap between them in an instant and gave a quick jab at his solar plexus.
“Sorry, I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
Eve flusteredly ran to Roy’s side, and that man--- ‘Freelancer’ said with a bland smile,
“You rushed over without even thinking of running. What a good girl!”
As he remarked on her behaviour, the man slung the unconscious Roy over his shoulder.
“You can think of yourselves as kidnapees. Don’t worry, I didn't do anything to Mrs. Kate. She’s just out buying something.”
The man helped Eve stand up, piggybacked Roy and walked out of the house openly and unashamed.
“Our destination is the Daily Days Newspaper Agency- we best hurry.”
The DD Newspaper Agency, the place where all the powers were coming to fight the decisive death match.
There was not a single bit of the usual noise to be heard in the editorial department today; everyone worked silently.
In the Director’s Suite, high-level members of the agency were all gathered here, as well as the Benjamin and the others who were planning to spend the night at the agency, Edith who had just returned from her search for Eve and the director, who had been browsing through documents all along. The main and supporting characters of this incident and related people were all together.
After learning of the entire situation, Benjamin rushed forward and started beating up Henry; Jon and Fan immediately came over and pulled him away. At that moment, Samasa went to continue punching and kicking Henry.
After this little episode, someone came to report some troublesome news.
“Our insider reports that, today at two, that is, an hour from now, Gustavo will be attacking us.”
Facing the director, who was in a little bit of a quandary, Nicholas said happily,
“And our response?”
“Those kinds of things, we'll leave it to the Gandors this time.”
Hearing such a response from the director, Nicholas showed obvious disappointment.
“This was Keith’s request. Normally, we'd destroy them with our own hands to protect our position as the neutral party, but this time, we , The Informer, have also been pulled in as part of the incident.”
To suppress Nicholas’s discontent, the director raised his voice this time,
“As one of the involved, we have no way of viewing such an incident objectively. Which is why we have to carefully consider our course of action. Then again, this is just my personal opinion, but-----”
After a moment's silence, the director articulated his own views clearly and frankly.
“—'I want to wipe Gustavo's offensive mug from this city.' ---What does everyone think about this?”
There was not a single protest; only Benjamin gave an uncharacteristic cheer.
“Just like the incident caused by the wine of immortality a year ago, the ones who have become the fuse are us, which is also this place. The conditions have already been prepared, no, it’s precisely because we’ve made these preparations that Gustavo and his cohorts dare to come here! All the information has already collected, and what’s next is to wait for the instant when the overlapping information to crumble and dissolve. Before this moment comes, let us do what we can!”
Finishing his passionate speech, the director picked up the phone to give a call to the Gandor Family office.
“Then, I hope that everyone would hide in the sewers in the intervening period. This sewer under us leads straight to the police station- if anything happens, escape from there.”
Before speaking to Luck over the phone, the director assigned Nicholas and Elean their duties.
“Please tell everyone to take the information and go into hiding. The Daily Days has never skipped an issue, and tomorrow’s circulation needs to be the same as usual.”
“We're finally done!”
Just past noon, in the Alveare, people had finally constructed a geometric shape.
After Isaac placed the last domino in place, everyone in the store applauded and cheered.
The two placed their hands by their mouths, and everyone stopped cheering.
“The most exciting moment…”
“…Is about to begin…”
The room became absolutely silent, and Isaac and Miria carefully clasped their hands together and---
Lightly, slowly, pushed down the first domino.
At Gustavo's forceful kick, the double doors swayed ponderously before falling over.
The hinges of the door sprang out, and the fortified glass shattered and rained down on the floor with a deafening sound.
If they immediately used guns, the cops would come over very quickly. First, send in a few people to suppress the receptionist, take that Nicholas guy hostage, take control of the lobby and then launch the attack from both the inside and out. Gustavo had come up with such a battle plan.
But this failed at the very start. The entrance was locked, and they simply couldn’t enter as usual.
“Out of the way!”
Gustavo shoved aside the bemused underlings and stood before the door. Then, he lifted his leg and delivered a kick at the door, the hinges flew and the heavy front door fell straight down.
According to the reports, the workers here, regardless of whether they were reporters or editors, all had guns on them. Gustavo immediately hide behind a pillar by the door, but there wasn’t any response from within. A few underlings searched the room holding guns, but in the end didn’t see a single person.
There was no sound in the editorial department; on the tables, everywhere, was a chaotic mess of information, it was just the people who had disappeared.
Gustavo called for the underling who had been monitoring this place in secret and seized him by his collar.
“I- I don’t know! I’ve been watching from outside all the time- no one’s come out! I’ve also sent people to watch the back door and they didn’t see anyone come out either!”
“Not a single person has come out?”
Gustavo unhanded his underling, pondering this carefully.
“You said even those reporters in the agency didn’t come out?”
This obviously didn’t make sense. The front door was locked, as though anticipating that we’d come—- no, they probably knew. If that were the case, had they all escaped?
“…Give the second and third floords another thorough search. If there’s not a single person around, then burn down this place for me and go straight to the Gandor Family nest.”
Gustavo lit a cigarette and ordered his underlings.
--They’ve probably escaped. From the rumours I’d thought these guys who only knew how to fight, but I never thought they were smart. Definitely can’t let these guys go.
“Doesn’t matter, these guys won’t leave just like that- it’s not too late to round them all up in one fell swoop when the time comes.”
As Gustavo cracked his knuckles, he climbed up to the second floor.
At the same time, the front and back doors of the newspaper agency were respectively guarded by a single person. The fellow guarding the back door was looking around aimlessly when, suddenly, the assassin in the long coat spoke.
“Your boss’s is serious, innit he?”
That Mexican girl and the drunkard had just entered with Gustavo, leaving him alone to wait outside.
“Even if it’s the outskirts of Chinatown, you’re really planning to have a gunfight on this street under broad daylight?”
“That’s right, he’s that kinda guy. But hey, you sure you don't wanna head in?”
“If we were caught by the police, then I won’t be able to explain myself!”
With that, he parted his coat a little. Just one glance was enough to make the gossiping guy gulp. Inside the coat, just the places that could be seen, there were at least ten handguns and rifles.
“This coat alone weighs 30kg. Truth be told, I came today with the aim of approaching ‘Vino’. And I only really need just three minutes to escape before the police come.”
“You're real serious about this too!”
“All assassins have their sights set on that guy’s place.”
At the same time, those at the backdoor noticed a few silhouettes coming over.
“Thanks for your work!”
‘Freelancer’ said cheerily and used his handgun to coerce Roy and Eve into walking through the door.
“Hey, don’t you think so too? Mr. Felix. We weren’t normal from the very beginning, right? And we don’t know when it starts, when our minds become filled with those crazy thoughts, and we can’t take it anymore if we don’t do a little something, so we do these kinds of jobs, don’t you think?”
At his words, ‘Freelancer’ replied carelessly,
“Rather than mouthing off about how 'serious' or 'crazy' you are, it's best to keep it to yourself.”
“As for why, well, because it's lame.”
The long coat who was struck dumb in an instant watched the ‘Freelancer’ walk off, before heading into the building himself.
“Eh? So he still ended up going on.”
“Actually, my marksmanship isn’t very good. That's why, my success depends on how many bullets I have.”
While he spoke, he drew out a gun from under his coat, a muscle twitching on his forehead, and gave a bone-chilling smile.
“So, if there’s a gun fight today, just my bullets alone are enough to kill off those pretensious posers. Hahaha!”
Seeing the long-coat assassin about to lose himself to madness, the gossiping underling could only silently watch as he left. After the door closed, he remarked,
“I don't care if you're serious or crazy. What's clear is that you're both a fool and an idiot.”
“Oh, oh, oh?!”
After the retreat from the sewers was complete, Elean used binoculars to survey the situation at the DD Newspaper Agency on the roof of a building adjacent to the newspaper agency. The present scene unfolding before him made him suddenly widen his eyes.
“This is bad!”
Sweating, he turned to tell Benjamin and the others what he saw.
“Miss Eve and another young man I don’t know have been taken into the news agency.”
He hadn’t finished his sentence and the old steward gave a loud cry. Samasa snatched away the binoculars to attempt to verify this herself.
“Izzit true? Miz an’ a young ’un!”
“P-please lend me those for a sec.”
Then, Edith too held up the binioculars, and in the lens she saw a familiar set of clothing.
Before those around her could stop her in time, Edith had ran off to the long flight of stairs that led upwards.
“Wow, it’s beautiul...”
Ennis couldn’t help but exclaim as she watched the dominos falling one by one.
As the dominos with colour on only one side successively fell, the colour kept changing- a truly beautiful sight.
“The changing dominos. It's exhilarating to watch them change colour in an instant.”
There was no sign of people on the second floor too, and without noticing it Gustavo and his cohorts had reached a big room on the third floor. This place looked just like a warehouse- a few tables and chairs were placed haphazardly in the room.
“Shit! They fuckin' got away!”
Gustavo roared with fury. At this moment, there was a sound of the door being shut from behind, and all the people looked back at the same time to see a man with fox-like eyes standing there, waving both hands as he said,
“Good day, and thanks for your hard work.”
When they clearly saw this person, some members of Gustavo’s underlings looked noticeably shaken.
“The hell're you?”
Hearing this, it was the fox-eyed man's turn to be surprised.
“Good grief, how can you not even have a clue what your opponent today looks like! ……Which means, even such incompetent people are picking fights with us now. How pathetic of us.”
Before he could even get angry, the meaning of the man's words were lost on Gustavo.
Throwing a wide-eyed look at his underlings, Gustavo gave a questioning look of 'who the fuck is he?'.
“C- can’t be! This guy should already be dead! For sure back then, at the entrance of the old bookstore, his neck, was…”
“Was slit. That’s certainly the case. Aye, but that’s not important- we’ve come here today to negotiate, and we three even specially came here ourselves. We’re looking forward to a favourable answer, Mr. Gustavo.”
By the time he finished speaking, the number of presences in the room had increased by two. One person was a shadow by the curtains, while the other stood in the shade of the mountains of paper heaped up on the tables, having made their entrances at some unknown point in time. It was as though they had been there from the very beginning.
“You… can’t be the three brothers of the Gandor Family?”
While the audience watched them like looking at martians, Gustavo drew out his shotgun from his jacket.
“What d'ya mean, negotiate?”
“No no, it’s nothing complicated. And this doesn't concern you, Mr. Gustavo.”
Luck simply didn’t pay any attention to that block-headed Gustavo, and called loudly to the ten odd men behind him.
“It's a simple question. Do you want to switch to our side? That’s all.”
At the extremely shocking question, all the people present, except for the three Gandors, were struck dumb.
“You just have to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Very simple, no?”
As they gradually regained their composure, the men started chuckling among themselves.
“Are you an idiot? Something like this…”
Gustavo cut the laughter, and Luck once again opened his mouth to speak.
“We’ve already had a little chat with Mr. Bartolo.”
Hearing this, their gazes were once again drawn to Luck.
“What... what’d you say?”
“Mr. Gustavo, I must say, you have done many a thing behind your boss’s back.”
“Well, though they're mostly just trivial matters. Selling drugs on our territory, pretending to play the role of the middleman, and also collecting protection money from places that haven’t reported to Mr. Bartolo. Am I right?”
Everytime Gustavo sold drugs to his trusted customers, the price was always higher than what he reported to Bartolo. The drugs wouldn’t be directly sold to the junkies, but distributed to lower-ranked people who sold drugs. After filtering down a few times, the price of drugs would multiply several times over, yielding many times more profit than originally obtained. This was how Gustavo secretly amassed wealth without informing Bartolo.
With this all out in the open, Gustavo and a few other underlings who knew about this became a little irate. Watching all this provoked an uproar from the surrounding people.
“Calm down! You have no evidence! This guy’s just trying to confuse us all!”
“Evidence? We currently have people in custody.”
“We were waiting for all of you to gather here. At this very moment, our men are already on the way to all your drug ‘exchanges’. Ah, what a crushing battle!”
The chatter of voices immediately became louder. As though pressing his advantage, Luck continued. They had purposely spread rumours a few days earlier for this very day.
“Those who submit to us now will be free to go after this is over. Those who want to follow us are very welcome, those who want to return to the organization, Mr. Bartolo too won’t make things difficult for you. But, if you become enemies with us here---”
Luck paused here, narrowing those fox-like eyes and smiling faintly.
“—If you continue being enemies with us, then you’ll become ‘Vino’’s target.”
The clamour died down in that instant, and Gustavo’s underlings exchanged looks, obviously unsettled. Seeing such a situation, Gustavo impassively grabbed one of the underlings by his side.
“What’s there to think about?”
Gustavo seized the man by his head using just one hand and slammed it face-down on the floor.
A sickening sound. Even a layman could tell the man’s skull had shattered.
“Just whether you want to wipe out all the 'witnesses' today, or if you want to be killed by me right here, right now. Yeah?!”
“How brutal. Your men will hate you, you know.”
Gustavo disregarded his provocation, and just glared savagely at the surrounding underlings.
“Whatever, I’ll just kill yah three first.”
Gustavo declared as he stepped towards Luck.
“All this, even though we clearly said we were here to negotiate. We even made the point not to bring our guns.”
“If you used guns, the cops would come immediately. This goes both ways.”
“Yes, that's a way of putting it.”
“Yes, then that’s settled!”
With a laugh, Gustavo gave a bright, masochistic smile as he announced,
“Then I’m the loser.”
A roar. A tremundous shock reverbrated in the room, and blood sprayed before Gustavo’s eyes.
Luck's head was blown away, and his body lost its balance and crashed against the wall.
“The next ones will be you. Draw your guns! I'll give you that much.”
As Gustavo sprouted old-fashioned lines from several eras ago, he pointed the muzzle at Keith.
Berga walked to Luck’s side with a bland expression, and watched his younger brother’s severed neck as though waiting for something.
“Ha, though you could take your time saying your farewells to your younger brother too.”
Gustavo snorted his laughter as he bore down on Keith, but his footsteps came to a halt at the sound of his underling’s startled voice.
“M-Mr. Gustavo, w-wait!
“What, do you really have a death wish?”
“No! Look! Look!”
Gustavo looked back at panic-striken voice, and there, the 'sight' greeted him.
It was an extremely eerie scene.
That strange feeling was just like watching a trip to the moon in movies.
It was the sight of something carried out in complete silence, beginning to gather at the place where Luck’s head should have been.
Red flesh, white bone, and the pinkish-white brain matter- as if they were food carried back to the ants’ colony, they gathered at one point. Bone and flesh fitted together into teeth and eyes like a jigsaw puzzle.
“What... the fuck?”
Gustavo felt his throat constrict and desperately swallowed his saliva, but it had no use whatsoever.
“Hey, get up!”
Seeing the fully recovered Luck, Berga lightly prodded his head with a finger.
Just like waking up from slumber, Luck stretched. Keith and Berga watched Luck as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
“I’ve really become retarded- I couldn’t even dodge this!”
Luck stood up as though nothing had happened and continued lecturing the audience in the room, who were all too scared out of the wits to speak.
“Hm, what’re you going to do? Come to our side now or stay here and die?”
Confronted with this monster that should only exist in movies, Gustavo’s underlings couldn’t even articulate their words- their wits were completely shattered, and they simply couldn’t fight anymore. Suddenly, a figure flew out from the crowds and, in an instant, came to Luck’s side. A silver arc glided over his wrist.
The sleeve of Luck’s suit fell, then, a red line spurted out from his wrist. He hastily clamped it with his other hand- if he had been a little later, the hand would have fallen to the floor.
Seeing the flow of blood stopping immediately, the Mexican girl whistled in admiration.
“What an interesting body, amigo!”
Luck didn’t even have time to evade the earlier attack, and he wasn’t sure he could see it clearly again the next time it came.
Narrowing his eyes at this unexpected ambush, Luck remained calm as he asked,
“If you want to become friends, shouldn’t you be standing on our side, Miss?”
Hearing Luck’s words, the girl shook her head as she gave a sweet, innocent smile.
“Can’t do that, amigo. If I did then wouldn’t I be unable to see ‘Vino’? But if I continued killing you here, I should be able to meet him.”
So that was how it was. Luck understood.
Although he knew that she had been hired to help, he never thought there’d be assassins like this other than Claire. Now that he looked closer, there was still one person among the crowd who kept his cool, a man holding a little flask of liquor, but it was possible that he was just drunk.
As though intent on barging in on his thought processes, another person came through the door.
“Excuse me, sorry for interrupting!”
It was a bearded man wearing glasses with a man and woman in tow.
The two were unfamiliar faces to Luck and Keith. One was a young lady who was young enough to still be described as a girl, while the other was a rather unhealthy-looking young man.
Behind them, a fellow wearing a long coat entered the room hot on their heels. The man's eyes were filled with hatred, and for some reason his ferocious gaze was directed at the bearded, bespectacled man.
“These two are Eve Genoard and Roy Maddock.”
Certain that the appearance of ‘Freelancer’ would turn the tables, Gustavo regained his composure.
“You're a lifesaver, Freelancer!”
“Then, my work is done.”
“Wait! I still have another task for you… it’s not killing. Making those guys unable to move should still be within the scope of your work, right?!”
Hearing Gustavo’s question, the man gave a little shrug of his shoulders.
“Of course, I most certainly can?”
When he heard that, Gustavo gave a triumphant smile. On the other hand, Luck and his brothers were staring at this person in utter disbelief.
“Then I’ll leave it to you, Mr. Felix Walken! Name your price!”
“3 trillion US dollars!”
It was a unit he had never heard of before. Had he heard wrongly?
“Of course it’ll cost this much when facing these three people. Haha!”
As ‘Freelancer’ spoke, he ushered Eve and Roy out to the corridor, telling them, go hide, go on'.
“Hey! What'd ya think you’re doing?!”
“Well, I only promised to bring them here.”
Having watched up to here, Berga, who had not uttered a word, said bewilderedly,
“What the hell’re you up to, dressed in that get-up?”
Ignoring Gustavo, whose thoughts were in utter chaos, the Mexican girl spun her sword as she asked Luck,
“Hey, where’s ‘Vino’? Call him out quickly, amigo!”
In response, the bearded, bespectacled man raised his hand.
The room froze over.
The ‘Freelancer’ plucked off his glasses and ripped off the fake beard stuck to his mouth.
Revealing a very youthful face of a young man as he massaged his cheeks.
He spread out both hands as he gave the surrounding people a simple greeting.
“Hello everyone, I’m Felix Walken--- and also ‘Vino’. Though it's also okay if you call me ‘Rail Tracer’.”
While speaking, his tone of voice and mannerisms changed, heralding the descent of the greatest villain onto the negotiation grounds.
Gustavo instantly became flustered and his face drained of colour. After slowly coming to terms with what had happened, his face once again turned from white to red.
“Then, wait a minute, wait! Dammit, Gandor! Was this all part of your strategies?”
Luck and the others too exchanged looks between themselves as Gustavo hollered.
“Claire, who’s this Felix?”
“I said before, Claire’s already dead. I’m now called Felix Walken. To be precise, it’s the newly registered name bought from the original Mr. Felix.”
“I totally don’t get what you’re saying!”
Berga didn’t bother disguising his confusion when onfronted with the nonchalently speaking Claire, who claimed he was Felix.
“Didn’t Luck say so a few days ago? I can’t marry without official registration! I felt he was correct.”
Not a single person watching ‘Vino’ chatter nonstop understood what he was saying.
“Yup, yesterday, I received two pieces of information from here- one regarding the woman I was searching for and the other was about a ‘guy who wanted to forget his past’. I went to negotiate with that guy. He was a good fellow, the original Mr. Felix. Then, those guys there came to find Felix, saying they wanted him to kill someone. I too wanted to see what kind of ill-natured opponents there were this time, so…”
As he finished his monologue, ‘Vino’’s right hand made a sudden movement.
A small handgun appeared in his hand at the same time as two crisp sounds rang out.
The bullets sped through the gaps in the crowd, racing straight towards one man.
Sounding at the same time as the gunshots was the liquor bottle in the old man’s hand. In the blink of the eye, the old man's body toppled to the ground.
Gripped in his right hand still holding onto a smoking handgun.
Fresh bullet holes had made their mark on the wall behind Claire, narrowly missing the point between his eyes.
Could it be, this ‘Vino’ man was the same kind of monster as Luck and his brothers?
Or maybe this man was the real leader of the monsters!
Gustavo’s underlings were long stupefied by the shock and didn’t react at all to the sound of gunshots. Facing the crowd who had already become like an audience, ‘Vino’, just like that actor, said a classic line from the movie dialogue ,
“You ain’t heard nothing yet!”* <--!Removed this note since it's pretty clearly spelled out in the last chapter.-->
The guard at the back door saw a woman run over and quickly stopped barred her way.
“What’re you saying, you old hag!”
He pulled out his gun, intending to intimidate Edith, when suddenly, someone behind him patted his shoulder.
“Ah, who? M- Mr. Begg!”
Begg regarded Edith with a strange expression, and said with his hoarse voice,
“You, must, be, Roy’s friend!”
Although nothing could be read from that person’s eyes, Edith refused to be beaten and continued staring back at him, nodding. Then, Begg ordered that underling,
“Let, her, in!”
The one to break the silence was the katana-wielding Mexican girl.
“Hahahahahaha! Interesting, really interesting, amigo! Are you ‘Vino’ or Felix? That’s to say, if I kill you, then I can surpass the ranks of two assassins in one shot.”
“Ah, that’s how it is!”
‘Vino’ scratched his head as he glanced sideways at Luck, asking,
“Eh, who should I kill?”
It was just like a line out of a movie. But when one examined the surroundings, there wasn’t any will to fight left. Only Gustavo had his gun pointed at them, hesitating over whether to attack or not. It was possible that he just had to depress the trigger slightly to become the target of ‘Vino’’s bullets. Being able to pull of something like that despite having so many openings earlier, if he were to act carelessly, he feared he would only be killed. Gustavo’s instincts keenly sensed this.
“I think the police are coming soon, so if possible I’d like to solve this manner in a more conservative fashion. ---Didn’t I say so before?”
“So troublesome! …Ah yes, the two people I brought in just now- I’m not too clear who they are, but they seem to be Kate’s guests.”
“I think it’s best to ensure their safety.”
Hearing this, Luck hastily walked towards the corridor. As he left, he glared at Claire, protesting,
“Why didn’t you say so earlier! Honestly!”
Keith darted a quick look to the side after hearing Kate’s name, and frowned a little. The next instant, when he saw Luck leaving the room, Gustavo immediately ran towards the opposite door.
‘Vino’ lifted his handgun, about to aim, when a silver light flashed and the handgun hit the ground. During this interval, Gustavo had escaped through the door. The Mexican girl, flourishing the katana, gave a whistle with a little surprise.
“Nicely done, amigo! I had wanted to cut your wrist.”
“You’d even cut your 'amigo's?
“Sorry, this sword moved by itself!”
The Mexican girl said the excuse she’s made quite a few times, and slashed at him when she judged the time was right.
“If possible, I hope you’ll surrender! I'm not the type who likes killing their own 'amigo's.”
“Ah~~! Don’t treat me like an idiot just because I’m a woman! I’ll get angry, amigo.”
She had just finished speaking when the blade sketched out a beautiful curve of silver light, swinging towards him.
With the sound of metal scraping on metal, the girl’s katana stopped right before ‘Vino’’s face.
“Huh? This is strange...”
In the Gandor Family office, Tick shook his head in disbelief, saying
“I seem to be missing a few pairs of my new scissors!”
---What happened? Why did it stop!?
Gazing at the girl with wide eyes, ‘Vino’’s eyes gradually sharpened, and he replied blandly,
“I didn’t look down on you because you’re a girl. There are skilled experts among women, and I also respect those women greatly.”
‘Vino’ remarked as though nothing special was happening, all the while using the scissors in his hand to parry the Mexican girl’s sword and stop the sword’s movements.
“I treated you like an idiot because you were too weak!”
The girl’s sword was locked in the vice-like grip of the scissors. Impossible, this was impossible! She was a little panicky, but she didn’t lose any faith in herself. She immediately released her right hand so she held the clamped sword in her left, and drew out another sword with her right hand and sliced at ‘Vino’’s waist.
‘Vino’ also used his left hand to take out another pair of scissors, and clamped this sword too.
“I see, this sword really isn’t much!”
As the four- no, six to be precise- blades clashed together, one figure locked onto the two of them as targets.
The assassin in the long coat drew out two shotguns from within his coat and aimed at ‘Vino’. At this moment, the Mexican girl was also within the target range, but he pulled hard on the triggers as though he didn’t see her.
In that instant, a tall, large shadow pounced in from the side
His hands were squeezed down and forced the muzzles of the two guns downwards.
The room resounded with the sound of gunfire, and the cement floor became peppered with holes.
Some pellets from the buckshots rebounded, piercing the feet of the two men.
The long-coat assassin gave a long wail, but the man forcing the handguns down— Berga merely clenched his teeth as he kept his ground.
“Guaah! ---Can’t you feel the pain? You crazy bastard!”
At Berga’s illogical shout, the long-coat assassin cried out with tears in his eyes,
“Aaaaaaaaaah! Just what are you, aaaah!”
The man writhing on the ground once again drew out guns from within his coat and continued shooting at Berga. Berga’s body became ridden with quite a few holes and blood spurted out. The blood that fell onto the floor immediately returned to Berga’s body, but long-coat didn’t notice this at all. He emptied one gun and immediately took out another, continuing to fire at Berga. Even so, Berga didn’t fall but welcomed the bullets, and swung his fist forcefully.
With the cry, the fists were hit by the bullets. He watched as flesh was blown off, revealing the bone within. But even so, the fists never stopped. Berga used all the strength in his body to punch down viciously on the long-coat’s face.
This was long-coat’s last thought before he lost consciousness.
“Ha, these are clearly scissors!”
In the endless ringing of metal meeting metal, the victory had already decided.
Then, the blades briefly met, then the four weapons entwined again, and once again were anchored in the blink of an eye. The instant the girl shifted her weight backwards to gain some distance, ‘Vino’ lifted his foot and kicked the girl’s wrist.
The katana fell from her hand. ‘Vino’ continued and kicked his foot at the other hand.
Claire didn’t use a lot of force, and it shouldn’t be enough to kick down the sword, but because the girl had been swinging the swords around for a long time, her hands no longer had the strength to keep a hold on them.
“So this is it!”
As though merely ending a game, ‘Vino’ held the scissors against the girl’s exposed, chestnut-coloured neck.
When he was sure the Mexican girl no longer had any intention to fight any further, Claire turned his head to say to Gustavo’s unmoving underlings in the room,
“Hey, what’re you guys planning to do?”
Hearing this, a few people in the crowd stood up and said to Keith,
“Then, we’ll be taking our leave!”
Faced with such a wholly unexpected answer, ‘Vino’ made a rare, nonplussed sound. Keith silently nodded and these people left the room. Among the crowd, there were some fellows who simply didn’t understand what had happened. Those were the few people who, when Luck pointed out Gustavo’s betrayal, created the commotion.
Watching this group of people leave the room, whether it was ‘Vino’ or the Mexican girl, all revealed looks of suspicion and scepticism.
“What’s this about?”
At ‘Vino’’s question, Keith still didn’t say a single word. Berga, who had watched everything, replied impatiently,
“Didn’t we tell you? Among them, half are ‘undercover agents' arranged in our negotiation with Bartolo.”
“Isn't that a bit too many?”
“Just goes to show how unpopular he was.”
‘Vino’ suddenly put emphasis on his last words. He dodged beautiful to one side, simultaneously hurling the scissors in his hands. The girl’s body stiffened at the sight of the scissors racing straight towards her. At the same time, the gunshots picked up again. Bullets from the other side of the room closed in on the person facing the girl who had thrown the scissors-‘Vino’. The bullets passed through the spot ‘Vino’ had been standing at all along, whizzing through the Mexican girl’s hair and punched straight into the wall. The scissors, spinning parallel to the floor, pierced the shoulder of the long-coat man. A man had grabbed the long-coat assassin’s clothes and used the already unconscious man as a shield.
That was the person who had initially been thought to be shot down, the old drunkard. His short frame hid behind long-coat, still surrounded by the white smoke of gunpowder.
‘Vino’ laughed lightly, throwing his scissors to seal his opponent’s movements while rolling on the ground to retrieve the handgun that had been struck down earlier. The instant he stopped rolling, gunshots once again sounded ceaselessly in the room, filling the place with the smell of gunpowder. The paths of the bullets forced straight lines, traversing endlessly between the two.
‘Vino’ twisted his body to evade the bullets, while bullets fired at the old man all hit long-coat’s body. Because there were many guns stored within the coat, it had become the best shield- the long-coat assassin himself hadn’t been hurt at all. When the two had both run out of bullets, ‘Vino’ said happily,
“As I thought. I was thinking it was strange that your reactions were so normal, gramps. When we met at the hotel just now, I felt you were the strongest of the three.”
At ‘Vino’’s words, the old drunk replied with a low laugh,
“You really do live up to your reputation. Now I can feel at ease- if I killed you, then I can become famous.”
“Ah, wait a minute, gramps! Isn’t your owner finished? And he’s been chased out of the organization, so I’m afraid he won’t be able to pay your reward. You’re still going to keep fighting despite that?”
“Personally, I’m just interested in your head!”
‘Vino’ shook his head, and with a snicker-snack, drew out another pair of scissors.
“Then, you’re not planning to betray your employer, who can be said to no longer exist?”
Having obtained the old man’s definitely answer, ‘Vino’ stared at the old man with a look of incomprehension.
This time, even ‘Vino’ seemed at a loss. The old man gazed at the the young man standing on the other side of the room.
“Isn’t running away or giving up better? Because you aren’t as strong as me. Because you’re weak, so even betrayal’s not something you can help but do. Isn’t that the natural course of things?”
“Young man…… don’t you understand? As an assassin, what we’re proudest of—”
Hearing this, ‘Vino’ exploded with laughter.
“Hahahahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahaha! It’s, it’s too funny, really interesting, you’re a real interesting gramps!”
“What’re you laughing about?”
There was discontent on the old man’s face, and he plucked a knife from his breastpocket. Even when he saw that ‘Vino’ didn’t stop laughing, twisting his face as he continued,
“What pride? What dignity? For assassins like you and I to actually talk about these things, it’s hilarious, really hilarious!”
‘Vino’ glanced at the old man and the Mexican girl, and snorted disdainfully. Pinned with such a manner by ‘Vino’, the Mexican girl hastily ducked out of his sight.
‘Vino’'s eyes became stranger still, completely different from when he was fighting earlier. The gaze projected by the two black holes on his face seemed to want to drink up all the darkness, as though wanting to suck in human souls, just like a demon revealing its evil nature.
“From the very day you regarded killing as a kind of profession, things like pride are no longer an issue for us! Wake up! The very moment you kill a person, you'll become less than the scum of human society! Is this a battlefield? Will you get medals for killing people? Yes, I am the strongest. You think you'll raise your fame if you killed me, ‘Vino’? But, isn’t it just that? You think that, if you betray others, then it'll lower your trustworthiness? This kind of stuff never existed from the very start. Assassins are assassins-- just where in the world do you think people who trust in social rejects like us exist?”
The denial of assassins came from the assassin said to be the strongest. The old man and the Mexican girl naturally couldn’t even come up with a single retort.
“If you think what I’m saying is trash, or you don’t want to believe it, then fine, we’re enemies. If you think I’m wrong, then use your strength to prove your pride! Since failures are failures anyway, so think carefully!”
The provocation suddenly came to an unexpected stop.
Pressed against the back of ‘Vino’’s head was a gleaming, black handgun. Feeling the muzzle touching his hair, ‘Vino’ said without any trace of surprise or fear,
From behind came a brotherly answer.
“Don’t mock the living.”
At Keith’s words, the world’s most terrifying assassin merely closed his eyes and sighed his reply,
“But they're fundamentally different from you……”
“Doesn’t change a thing.”
He chose the bare minimum of words, not giving ‘Vino’ any chance to counter.
“We’re all the same—- we're villains.”
‘Vino’ didn’t care the slightest about the gun aimed at his head, scratching his head as he turned around and looked into Keith’s eyes, the murderous intent from earlier no longer present.
“I understand, sorry. You too are someone beset by honour and pride.”
Whether deep in his heart, or in ‘Vino’’s— Claire’s tone of voice, there wasn’t the slightest trace of mockery.
Suddenly, Keith’s eyes flared with killing intent and he charged straight at Claire’s side.
With a heavy thud, Claire sensed something behind him.
Without any unease or questions, he turned around and saw the scene he had expected to see.
Taking advantage while Claire and Keith weren’t paying him attention, the old man who had attacked from the back had already been forcefully kicked to the ground by Keith. Then, Keith relentlessly stomped down on his chest. The old man let out a weak moan, sprawled on the floor and unable to move.
“Have some pity for the poor old man!”
Staring at Claire, who laughed as he spoke, Keith said expressionlessly,
“……Enemies are enemies!”
Hearing Keith’s response, Claire gave a satisfied smile.
“You're probably the only one who's anything like the Mafia.”
“Right! What’re you planning to do, missy?”
Berga, who had been watching all this happen, asked the Mexican girl who had retrieved her katanas.
Ignoring the frowning Berga, the Mexican girl transfer her gaze to Keith.
“Hey, amigo, does what fox-eyes said just now still count?”
What to do? Mr. Roy disappeared.
Just now, that bearded, bespectacled man bade them to hide, so Eve went to the first floor reception room to hide. But when she turned back to look, she discovered Roy had disappeared. If she went out to look for him now, then she would definitely run into difficulties. The gunshots on the third floor could still be heard from here, as though she had become lost in an action movie. But she couldn’t escape without doing anything. Roy had become involved because she stubbornly insisted that ‘I want to meet the Gandor people’, so she couldn’t just hide here by herself.
If I can’t find him...
Eve had just opened the reception room door by a tiny fraction when a silhouette appeared on the window of the door. At first she thought it was Roy, but the head was too big. The moment she sensed danger and wanted to move away from the doorway, the door was kicked in.
Eve let out a piercing scream and fell to the floor with fright.
The heavy door had slammed straight into where she had been standing. The inlaid glass on the door shattered, sending shards flying everywhere, and even the handle broke into many pieces and rolled around on the ground.
“Don’t scream, little missy!”
Gustavo had to bend down to slip in through the doorway, which was not at all small, his eyes vacant and giving off an animalistic aura.
“I initially thought this would be a simple matter, but it seems things have become tricky.”
As he shook his head, he slowly advanced on Eve, who was inching towards the wall.
“Should I say this is the first time we’ve met? Mistress of the Genoards, you actually dared to trick me- don’t get too full of yourself!”
I don’t understand what he’s talking about. Who on earth is this man?
Eve only knew one thing: there was nothing in this man’s eyes; only a terrifying hatred as he glared at her.
“What ever did I do to you? I just wanted to survive, that’s all. Was there really such a need to waste lives over those kinds of useless things?”
The man held a handgun in his hand, and slowly aimed at Eve’s face.
“Unless… don’t tell me you’re a monster too.”
Eve shrank fearfully into a ball- she wanted to run but her feet wouldn’t move. Seeing Eve in this state, Gustavo said with relief,
“Oh! Seems like you’re not! Now I can relax!”
Although busting your head in doesn’t seem half bad, this wouldn’t be making good use of you.
---I want to kill you in front of those Gandors. No matter what the means, I’ll just have to kill everyone to walk down this path. Running, dying; I’ve had enough- I want to kill off all those who plotted against me, and those useless underlings, that Begg guy; I won’t let even Bartolo off the hook.
To prevent her from escaping, Gustavo raised his leg high, intending to shatter the bones in her leg.
“This is for the bar!”
With this came an attack. The back of Gustavo’s head was hammered, and the enormous body shook.
“This is for the casino!”
Next, the right side of his face received the brunt of the second attack; it felt like it was inflicted by some sharp instrument. What was more intense than the pain was the feeling of being hit head-on by a red-hot metal bat. He lost his grip on the handgun, which clattered to the floor and discharged, shooting his hand. Accompanied by the biting pain was the feeling that the flesh in his hand had been exposed to air.
“This is for the race course!”
He turned his head towards the voice and was struck by the fist of the voice’s owner, just like that. The fist had just whistled past when a counter-shaped weapon came swinging back- so he was being beat up by the wooden chairs, exclusively used by the editorial department. His face was clipped by the corner of the chair, and Gustavo knew that his cheekbone had been shattered. Now, he could no longer control his torso and could only rely on the strength of his lower half of his body to keep himself on his feet. The chair once again flew at his face.
“This is for Nicola’s injuries!”
This last blow was delivered to Gustavo, who had already been beaten to the ground, by Luck. Grasping the leg of the chair in two hands and raising it over his head, he faced the almost unconscious Gustavo and mercilessly swung down with all his might.
“Go Die! This is for my head!”
This sudden unforeseen event shocked Eve to the point where she could only watch dumbly. She watched as a fox-eyed man appeared behind the tall, big man, and gave Gustavo’s face a good do-over with ruthless techniques she had never seen before.
When Gustavo was fully incapacitated, he finally seemed to notice her. His gaze shifted somewhat awkwardly, yet in the next instant he stretched out a hand towards Eve.
“Ah, I saw he was about to kill you so I acted- it counts as legitimate defense!”
Eve stared at the man, who was faintly smiling at her, unable to articulate her thanks no matter how hard she tried.
“Oh! Um, you don’t have to be so scared!”
Luck seemed to be rather perplexed as he regarded the girl before his eyes.
“How troublesome. I didn’t mean to scare you.” <--! 为难: this is so hard to find the appropriate word for… It means it’s troublesome, difficult and awkward, and Luck doesn’t know what to do… -- 'troublesome' seems to tbe the popular usage of this word, so I just went with that Starkiller4299 18:58, 24 January 2011 (UTC)-->
In any case, he had to get her to stand up before continuing. He held out a hand to help Eve up, but she didn’t take it. She may very well have placed her hand there if it was someone else, but she had no reason to do so now.
“You must be Mrs. Kate’s guest- I’m the younger brother, Luck Gandor.” <--! I know there’s a gender change… possibly referring to Keith? Unless Luck views Kate as his older sister, which is highly unlikely (seeing as they knew each other for less than 4 years) -- made it gender neutral to read more easily-->
Hearing Luck’s words, the girl before his eyes stopped trembling.
---Wonderful, Mrs. Kate’s name finally made you relax!
Although that was what Luck thought, the look in Eve’s eyes was definitely not one of relief.
“Um…… Mr. Gandor, um, is the leader of that Mafia family, right?”
“Mafia and leader, you say…? I guess that’s more or less true.”
“Please! There’s something… there’s something I have to ask you.”
With a kind of ‘apprehension’, the girl asked Luck the question the answer she most wanted to know.
“My older brother--- Brother Dallas, is he still alive?”
After hearing the details from Eve, memories of the past came rushing back.
Dallas. Luck never thought he’d hear this name at a time like this.
Because this girl wanted to look for her brother, she became involved in such a dangerous situation.
Even though she knew the dangers, she didn’t care and threw herself straight in- what courage!
This was why the fear vanished from her face. And this fact alone was proof enough that she had a certain amount of understanding of the situation.
Luck studied Eve, knowing that shoddy lies or misdirection wouldn’t work. Even if he tricked her, she would still continue the difficult life of searching for her brother.
He hardened his resolve, looked at the determined Eve, and told her part of the story.
“Whether you believe it or not, this may be an extremely brutal fact for you-- your brother is no longer an ordinary human being.”
A year ago, her older brother had become involved in some incident, and through gaining the power of incomplete ‘immortality’ he became indestructible. Then, he used that ability to kill four of Luck’s good friends. After that— as atonement, they sunk him, alive and kicking, into the icy depths of the river.
To convince Eve, who initially didn’t believe in immortal bodies, Luck took out his knife and cut off his own finger; it grew back immediately. Seeing this, even though she was a little repulsed by it, Eve had no choice but to believe him.
Eve’s emotions had become very complicated. She was extremely happy learning that her brother was alive, but she couldn’t help but hate this person before her for putting her brother through inhuman treatment. But it was also a fact that her brother killed his friends. Eve knew best the kind of man her brother was, and the helpless Eve knew that her brother did deserve his fate. Although Eve fully understood everything on a rational level, she simply couldn’t to terms with it emotionally.
“Why--- Why? Why make my brother suffer in that way? Wouldn’t it have been better to let the police deal with him? It’s- it’s, clearly more than enough, so please, my brother, please forgive my brother and the others. At least, at least use the law to sanction him. I’m begging you, begging you!”
Confronted by the somewhat incoherent girl, Luck was at a complete loss as to what to do.
In some ways what Eve had said was right, and Luck also knew this. But, just as personal feelings roiled within Eve, Luck too was just acting according to his own emotions. Because the most furious among the brothers in that incident were not his older brothers, but Luck himself.
“You can’t begin to understand our world. I was just speaking about my own feelings— a fury and rage that cannot be appeased. Firstly, even if they were to be sanctioned and punished by law, my dead friends won’t come back anymore. I simply cannot forgive this, that’s all. If you want to hate me then hate me. Just like how your brother can’t come back, the dead can no longer return. My pain will never go away.”
Luck’s emotions seem to burst from their dam as he spoke in a cool and calm tone. Even now, his rage at his friends’ murder still hadn’t eased. But he could understand what she was saying, whereas regular Mafia would have killed this girl long ago. And for this reason, Claire declared he was ‘unsuited to being Mafia’.
“Oh really? That’s just your side of things! So I don’t understand your world or your feelings. So your pain is healed. What about my feelings? I just- I just want my brother, I want you to give my brother back to me.”
Eve’s anger was normal- Luck listened quietly without answering.
“I’m begging you! Just let go of my brother- I’m willing to take on any amount of suffering, so please, listen…”
Hearing Eve’s words, Luck’s expression became very grim and he added an edge to his voice when he spoke.
“Don’t think that alone is enough to change my decision! ……Forget it. If you want revenge, I’ll take it on, any amount of it. But target me only! If you touch even a hair on the other people’s---”
He stopped halfway through his speech. What am I saying? There isn’t anything worth talking about anymore. Luck shook his head and stood up.
“If you change your mind a few years from now--- then maybe, until then…”
It appeared Eve wouldn’t give up so easily- this wasn’t something that could be helped either. If she had the least bit of common sense, she should have given up by now.
Alarm suddenly flooded Eve’s eyes. By the time he noticed the figure standing behind him, it was too late. Luck’s head was slammed by the reception room sofa, and for a moment he hovered on the edge of consciousness.
The bloody-faced Gustavo had raised an enormous sofa almost as tall as him, which must have weighed over a hundred kilograms, and flung it at him. Luck also swung a chair at about the same time, but because it was too light, it was knocked back. Luck, hit by that horizontal force, was flung back.
Luck’s back crashed against the wall, and the strong impact jostled his body. He stood up, wobbling, watching Gustavo. The bloody-faced man glared back at Luck, burning with the desire to kill.
“Beg… This, that, anything, just come and beg meeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Gustavo hurled the chair onto the floor, shouting loudly. Then he suddenly smiled, and in the most evil tone of voice he said,
“I wring your head again and again, grind it, deep fry it then lock it in a safe and throw it into the sea!”
“This is bad… Damn it, he’s clearly more Berga-bro’s kind of opponent.”
Luck wiped his sweat, and drew out a handgun from inside his jacket.
“You’re real troublesome guy- I wanted to let you live, but you keep coming and looking for death.”
“Looks like a peaceful settlement is out of question.”
Luck shook his head and pulled the trigger at Gustavo, who was lunging at him. Gunshots rang out in succession, and six holes were punched in Gustavo’s body; all the bullets pierced the chest, abdomen, and other fatal points, so he should be dead beyond any doubt. But Gustavo didn’t stop moving.
“It’s useless useless useless useless useless useless useless! Small fry like you, fuckin’ small fry don’t deserve to live! Bullets are uselessssssssssssss!” <--!Lit: live in my face-->
“How can this be?”
Luck was punched in his abdomen and he fell to the ground, and Gustavo used the force that destroyed the door on kicking Luck’s face. He stomped on Luck’s body lying on the ground with his huge feet, over and over again.
“Vanish, vanish, vanish, vanish, vanish from my sight!”
Making strange, inhuman sounds, Gustavo shattered Luck’s ribs with his kicks- crack crick crack. When he was sure Luck could no longer move, Gustavo turned to Eve and smiled cruelly. Once again, Eve was frozen with fear. <--!Chinese gives ‘pala pala’, which sounds rather… melodious for breaking bones?-->
“It’s your turn, little missy! I’ll throw you into New York Bay to feed the fish, just like your father and brother.”
For a moment, Eve didn’t understand what he was saying.
“Why that expression? You still don’t know? If you know you’ll definitely want to kill me later!”
Seeing the girl’s slowly reddening face, Gustavo realised that she really didn’t know about the matter.
“Ha! If you don’t know then lemme tell you. Your pops and bro stopped me from producing a new drug, so I killed them both with my own hands! After drowning them I chopped them up and turned them into fish bait, then I tossed them bit by bit into the sea.”
Eve listened to Gustavo’s leering recount, the ‘meaning’ of those words slowly sinking into her mind. When the implications finally clicked into place, her mind immediately went blank.
All sorts of scenes appeared in Eve’s mind. And in that instant, a weak voice spoke up in the room.
“Don’t talk about what you don’t know.”
There, behind Gustavo, stood Luck, his ribs already restored. He didn’t seem to have fully recovered, since his breathing was a little fast, and it was obvious just standing took up a lot of effort.
“Not only do the bottom feeders of society like you break the law, you kill and even sprout nonsense with no shame at all. It’s precisely because of this that you were abandoned by Bartolo and your men.” <--!*lit: not do legal work-->
“You fucking brat…”
Angered by his words, Gustavo charged at Luck, seizing him up by his jacket and throwing him in Eve’s direction. His thin, weak body flew at Eve and his back smacked against the edge of the table next to Eve.
“So useless even though you’re armed- don’t you think I’ll win?”
Feeling that he had gained the upper hand, Gustavo slowly regained his wits.
“The girl’s useless too. Let’s kill them off together!”
He bowed his head and started looking for the gun that had fallen onto the ground. But for some unknown reason, the gun had disappeared.
At this moment, Luck murmured to Eve,
“I’ll hold him- run when you get a chance! If it’s Claire, it’s still possible to fight this monster—”
Luck turned to face Eve, enduring the pain in his back, his voice a little shaky. Then---
Gustavo also noticed at the same time.
Eve’s expression was startlingly serene. Tears streamed from her eyes as she held a gun in her hands and aimed at Gustavo’s body. Her eyes were fixed on Gustavo, and she spoke softly to Luck. That voice was extremely calm, as though she had already distanced herself from her original emotions. The tear-filled eyes were vacant, as though gazing at a faraway place.
“Mr. Luck, I’m sorry. I’m truly very sorry. Even though I said all those selfish things to you just now, even though I thought I was doing the right thing, even so, now, I actually can’t forgive this person--- I absolutely cannot forgive him.”
At this moment, Eve’s eyes held steely conviction. Absolutely devoid of fear: a pair of pitch-black eyes.
“It’s only now that I finally understand what you were just saying, so, so…”
With large drops of tears falling from her face, Eve pulled hard at the trigger.
“You little bitch! You think you can knock me down with that kinda thing? Ridiculous- shoot me, kill me, take revenge for your stupid father, you shitty brat!”
At Gustavo’s provocation, Eve pulled the trigger with no hesitation whatsoever.
With the thunder of the gunshot, blood mist sprayed into the air of the reception room.
Eve’s body jerked back from the recoil, which was much smaller than it should have been.
Eve slowly opened her eyes, but standing there was Luck, the place where his left hand should be spurting blood. His left hand had fallen onto the ground, revealing bone that had been shattered by the bullet.
Luck’s right hand was pulling at the handgun, pointing the muzzle at his own left hand.
Gazing steadily at the stunned Eve, Luck slowly stood up, sweating heavily.
“……I know your pain!”
Then, he turned to Gustavo, who was shrinking back from where he stood, scooping up his left hand as he rushed over.
“You sunnova bitch! What’re you gonna do?”
Luck thrust his broken-off left hand at the beefy man, who had bunched up fists.
Unlike those fists, the jagged bone closed those few extra millimeters and stabbed into Gustavo’s throat.
When certain that massive body wouldn’t move anymore, Luck said, his eyes cold,
“This is thanks for sending someone to slit my throat.”
Luck pressed his left hand against the ragged wound on his arm, and turned to face Eve.
“You’re not hurt--- right?”
Unable to take the pain anymore, Luck passed out after that question.
--What to do? We got separated.
When Roy, planning to hide together with Eve Genoard, darted inside, he could no longer see any sign of Eve. Had she fallen behind? Or had she escaped inside first? Once past this corner, he should be able to escape out of the door he had been taken through when entering the building. But there was still a guard with a gun there. It would be impossible for him to escape by himself. So, he couldn’t leave through there for the time being- that should be the state of things.
But he couldn’t head back to the earlier room either. Quite a few gunshots had sounded moments ago, and also there were also some unknown kachi kachi metallic sounds.
I can’t run. No matter how I look at it, she became involved in all this because of me. So all the more reason not to run.
His rational mind understood all this, but he still wanted to escape. In his heart, he felt that it couldn’t be helped if he ran.
--Ah, I can’t. How can I fall so low? Damn, damn, drugs, when I was taking drugs, you made me capable of doing anything. No matter what it was, I could do it all. Clearly, I was equal to all of them. But what is up with this drastic difference? Damn! Why can’t I do what I’m clearly capable of doing? Isn’t this too strange?
The frustrated Roy heard someone calling from somewhere.
---Damn, it’s Edith’s voice. Am I hallucinating? Don’t think any further! If, if I can’t rely on Edith then I can accomplish anything. Ah, that’s how it is. Then just what is happening? ---Damn, it’s Edith’s voice. I’m hearing things. Stop it, self! Do you think I’m someone who can’t accomplish anything without Edith’s requests? Ah, that’s how it is. Why is that?
But stop it with that, now I must do it by myself, me alone, by myself---
This time, Roy finally regained consciousness. Because he was receiving the full force of Edith’s open-handed slaps.
“Get a grip, you fool!”
Edith smacked Roy’s cheeks countless times. Every time she used the back of her hand, the bones there ached terribly from hitting his cheekbones.
“You bastard- why, why do you keep helping others even though you’re so weak? You still gonna involve people you don’t know so carelessly next time? What happened to your promise? You must keep promises you’ve made with others! Didn’t I say that I’ll help you, that I’ll protect you? So don’t run all over the place anymore!”
Edith straddled Roy’s body, speaking as she hit Roy, then finally hugged him tightly.
“It’s my fault. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry!”
--Ah, a good-for-nothing. I’m, really a good-for-nothing. If I had to say why I felt I was a good-for-nothing, it’d be because I can only think of these words at times like this.
At the same time, someone he didn’t recognise appeared behind Edith.
“You, are, Mister, Roy?”
Interrupted by a soft voice- it looked like an unhealthy-looking man was calling my name.
“Wh-What, do you want?”
“I, am, Begg. Bu-, but, I’m not, an, ordina, ry, man. It’s, possible, that it’s just, the side, effect, of those drugs. You, exhi, bited, unusually, strong, reactions.”
At first it was purely interesting. Although it was someone who had taken the new drug I had manufactured, I never thought there’d be such a daring person. In fact, this was only somewhat stronger than the ordinary banned drugs, but I never thought this man would become reckless enough to snatch these drugs from the hands of the Runorata Family. It was possible that he was originally a violent man. In that case, it would only be natural to lose himself once he took just this little bit of stimulent. So I continued finding out about you in ‘society’, and I never thought I’d become more and more interested in you.
The sedative-type new drug, which normally wore out in less than two hours, rendered this Roy fellow unable to return to reality from ‘that world’ for more than three days. Compared with other drugs, Begg found that his own concocted drugs frequently triggered much stronger reaction, though he didn’t know if it was due to psychological or physical reasons. This reaction, if it was this kind of reaction, then it should be that Roy himself didn’t want to return to the real world!
Begg drew out an elastic band and a syringe from his breastpocket and handed them to Roy.
“This, is, a drug, inject, this!”
Looking at the syringe and elastic band Begg suddenly gave him, Roy didn’t understand what this was about.
“This, is stronger, than the, usual, drug, you take, this is, a blend, of, stimu, lents, and the, drug I, made, if you, use this, you, might, no, longer, be, able, to, re, turn to the, real, world.”
At first she didn’t understand what Begg was talking about, but when she finally understood Begg’s purpose of coming, she cried out,
“Wait a minute… You, what’re you suddenly thinking of! How can…”
In front of Edith, who had stood up in outrage, was Begg’s black handgun.
“I’m, sorry, you, don’t, have any, right, to refuse.”
Facing Roy, who had hastily scrambled to his feet, Begg grabbed Edith from behind and pointed the muzzle at her temple.
“Let, me, see. The, look on, your, face, as you, die, smiling, the, world, you, exper, ience, let me, see, your joy, your, world!”
Begg placed his finger on the trigger, his tone growing ever more intense.
“The reason… I don’t understand the reason why? What’s going on, what on earth is going on? Until now, I’ve always been injecting drugs made by guys like you who don’t ask questions! Give me some sort of explanation!”
Begg totally disregarded his yelling, silently lifting the gun.
“Quick, inject it.”
Roy felt immense regret.
“I understand… I understand, please don’t hurt Edith.”
But he couldn’t do anything, but simply pick up the elastic band and tie it on his arm. His veins immediately swelled up, and a kind of pressure built up from his fingertips to his arm.
“Stop, stop it, Roy! Don’t! You’ll die!”
“Swear, you swear first! I, after I inject this, you will definitely let go of Edith, swear it!”
“All, right, I, do, so swear.”
Having obtained a definite answer, Roy tightened the elastic band even more. Without hesitating, he picked up the syringe and stabbed it at his own arm. The drug in the syringe slowly emptied into Roy’s body, until not a single drop was left.
Edith shouted, wanting to run to Roy, but Begg didn’t let her go, seeming to have forgotten to do so in his excitement.
Begg waited for Roy’s reaction to the drug with anticipation, watching him closely.
“Sorry, Edith, I’m so sorry. I still couldn’t abide by my promise this time. So, it’s, this!”
Not knowing what he was thinking about, Roy lifted his hands high in the air.
“So, there’d no need for you to keep your promise too!”
With that, he used his raised left hand—
---And brought it down hard on the glass window inside the corridor.
A piercing sound rang out and the glass was shattered. Then, Roy used one of the remaining shards of glass on the window and sliced at his wrist; fresh blood immediately spurted out.
Edith screamed frenetically. After Begg realised his intentions, a shaken look entered his eyes.
“As, promised, I’ve already injected it. After this, I, I’m free, right, that’s how it is, right.”
Soaked in the blood pouring from himself, Roy gave a weak smile.
“That’s, no, use, you think, by just, do, ing, that, the drug, will, all, flow out, with, your blood?”
“If I don’t try, then I won’t know!”
“Fool, why? If, you, do that, then, you won’t, be able, to, enter, that, world! Since, you’re, going, to die, anyway, don’t, you want, to die, happily, don’t you, want, to, die in, that world?”
At Begg’s question, Roy gave a bloody smile,
“I know best, I know the best about the world I see. Because I’ve been to that world countless, countless, countless times. That’s a world full of joy and nothing else, so I remember it very clearly.”
“Ah, it’s because I remember it so clearly that I don’t want to go anymore!”
Roy continued staring at Begg, who still held Edith, speaking as loudly as he could. That voice was just like a cry of triumph against Begg.
“In that world, there isn’t the Edith here! I just remember this! So, so release Edith, I’m telling you to let Edith go now!”
Roy ignored his wrist which still dripped blood, advancing on Begg one step at a time.
“Don’t, don’t destroy my world!”
What Roy had once shouted at Edith, who had called him back from ‘that side’ of the world, completely destroyed Begg’s own world.
If he let Edith go just like that, this man would probably die smiling. This would then totally defeat the purpose of Begg’s drug.
If he killed Edith, this guy would die without any hope or happiness.
Either way, both ends were far from what he had hoped for.
Begg descended into self-denial. Intense anger and hatred churned within his heart. He didn’t want to forgive Roy, and yet at the same time he wanted to help him no matter what.
---Tell me, Maiza. What should I do? Ah, is this kind of feeling I’m having now the ‘impoverishment of the soul’ you mentioned to me before? What to do? Tell me, tell me---
He shoved Edith in Roy’s direction, and aimed the muzzle at his own head.
“It’s, not too, late, if you, go, to, the hos, pital now, before, I, regen, erate. Es, cape, quickly, if, this, goes on, I’ll, kill, you both.”
Then, he heard a gunshot ring out in the corridor.
With that gunshot, Roy too sank into the darkness.
In the Martillo Family-run bar, people were immersed in the feeling of success after all the dominos had fallen.
From the thousands of dominos scattered across the ground, one could clearly see a picture depicted with them.
As everyone in the shop indulged in the joy of success, the only person not to join in this ‘ceremony’ was Firo, who strangely felt left out.
Because Lia had also participated in this ceremony, she didn’t prepare him his lunch.
“S’not bad, it’s nothing much!”
Watching Isaac and Miria dancing the Flamenco* on the carpeted floor, Firo said quietly and a little regretfully,
- Spanish dance originating from Andalusia
“Who’s going to pick up this stuff!”
His gaze dropped to the floor and Firo noticed something. Originally he thought it was just a simple, geometric shape, and yet now, at the centre was a bird-like figure.
“Mr. Maiza, what’s that?”
At Firo’s query, the designer of the pattern said embarrassedly,
“Oh! It’s a phoenix.”
Phoenix. He had heard this word before, but he couldn’t recall where from.
“It’s the deity worshipped in ancient Phoenicia. At first it wasn’t a bird, but later mixed in with many other holy birds to become the way it looks today; it’s also known as the phoenix.”
Phoenixes he knew about it, the immortal bird in myths that could be reborn in fire.
“Because those two just had to add a phoenix.”
Hearing their conversation, Isaac and Miria danced as they cut in,
“Isn’t it exactly the same as dominos? No matter how many times you push them down you can stack them up again.”
“Yeah, compared to the phoenix rising from the ashes, dominos revive much more beautifully, you know!”
Firo originally didn’t intend to listen to them seriously, but then he felt a prickle of unease at those two’s words.
“Can’t be, you… still want to play again? To knock down an even larger one than this?”
“It’s only natural, ain’t it?”
“Because that’s the duty of the people who knock down dominos!”
Hearing the two’s innocent decision, Firo collapsed on top of the counter, clutching his head.
Listening to Firo and the other’s chatter, Maiza muttered to himself satirically.
---Surpassing death countless times, reviving stronger each time. Humans are like that.
Although also immortal, us ‘immortals’ are just like an unnatural existence.
---To draw a parallel to a similar myth, we just like the Tower of Babel. We reach heights even bird can’t conquer, and everything’s over when we collapse.
“Compared to us, normal humans are by far much closer to God than us. Don’t you think so, Begg?”
Swirling the wine in the glass, Maiza spoke quietly to his absent friend, Begg.
3 January 1932 DD Newspaper Agency
“First is about Gustavo’s sneak raid, which we learned from the captive of Tick of the Gandor Family. During the information exchange, I told Keith about how to contact Baltoro, although I don’t know what bargain was struck after Keith and Baltoro got in touch with each other. Then, we told Miss Edith about Keith’s battle plan, as ‘the way to save Roy’. Since we were already involved in this war, we had no choice but to do some business behind Keith and the other’s backs.”
The person sitting behind the mountain of information summed up the situation very happily. <--! speech marks disappear here…-->
Concerning the incident this time, it was “Gustavo, under the influence of drugs, went on a rampage in the news agency when he read the article on the dangers of the drugs he and his men were distributing”. This was the take on the incident forced onto the police.
There was no need to create false evidence: it was sufficient to just place that black case from before by Gustavo’s side. Once the police investigated the drugs within, they would probably make the drugs distributed by the Runoratas illegal. The violence and destruction of property did happen, so things would proceed smoothly on the legal front as well. The government too was fond of fabricating stories. So as long as it seemed to be true, there was no problem. That is how it judges the situation.
“Well, the most important thing is that everyone’s safe. Gustavo will go straight from hospital to jail, so with that, the incident will be more or less over, don’t you think?”
Nicholas and Elean exchanged looks, as though they still had some questions.
“What is it?”
“The police arrived much later than we had anticipated.”
In fact, by the time the police arrived it was already a full thirty minutes after the incident had concluded. As a result, there was enough time to carry away the injured and set up the incriminating evidence.
“Aah, that’s- yes yes, there was that too, wasn’t there.”
The person sitting behind the huge heap of information said in careless tones,
“This is classified information, however! Yesterday was the inquiry of the terrorist, Huey Laforet. Today, he was escorted away from Manhattan in highest secrecy. Anyhow, that train robbery that was aimed at rescuing this man— remember, the Flying Pussyfoot incident earlier? Some colleagues of his were plotting such things, so as preparation against attacks by the remaining terrorists, nearly all idle police officers were assigned to guard the surrounding area. It’s probably because of this that they were late.”
Elean directed another question at the blandly-speaking master of the documents he was facing.
“How to put it? See, it’s this- we’re talking about the time when we taking refuge outside. While that Gustavo guy was rampaging so very loudly and flashily and brazenly, just where on earth were you, Boss?”
A trace of laughter could be felt from the voice answering this question from behind the pile of documents.
“I was been here all along?”
“Weeell, it’s a real surprise I wasn’t discovered. Thanks to these speaking tubes, I could hear what was said in every part of this office.”
For a moment, the astonished two had the impression that they could see the delighted smile of the manager of the documents. Then, the Director brought this report meeting to a close with words that were unfitting for an information trader.
“No matter what, it’s the best being able to collect information with your own eyes and ears. There is no such thing as [demon] (T/N:(Kanji: omnipotent person)) in this world. No matter how much knowledge you possess, in the end, you can trust only your own thoughts and experiences. That’s how things are.”
A few days later
On this day, the director, Nicolas and the others were absent, leaving Henry the only person on duty in the agency.
--- I risked my life in exchange for this information, so I must be the one to report it. I can speak with more authority about it, moreso than even the Director. Because I had directly come into with many kinds of people, undergone many experiences. As a price, I had also lost many things, but this can’t be helped. Information is power, so it’s natural to have to pay a certain price in exchange for obtaining it. My thoughts about this still haven’t changed.
---But I will no longer get too full of myself.
Henry didn’t notice that the hair on his temples were greying; he kept thinking to share the ‘information’ he had paid a price for with someone, but he had never been able to.
At this moment, a client entered.
A young man with a tattoo on his face. His foot seemed to be injured; it was wrapped in bandages, and he was holding a crutch.
Crushed by the intense atmosphere of the editorial department, he didn’t do anything except cry.
“You must have come a long way. Welcome to the The Informer.”
This young man seemed a little baffled by his courteous greeting, and said something Henry had long been anticipating.
“Uh, um, I came to talk about the train robbery that happened on a train a few days ago.”
And even today, information races through the streets.
People who use information and people who manipulate information.
The tricksters and the tricked, those who prosper and those who are destroyed. They are all fighting for information.
As though mocking them, the mindless power gradually builds up, piling up higher and higher. <--! Lit: power with no intent or purpose (no will, if you will)-->
While hoping to accumulate more of it, or while planning to collapse it.
While it repeatedly evolves and devolves, as though it were able to live on forever.
Information---- it springs back to life countless times, over and over again.
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