The good news is that my leg had gone numb so the pain was gone. That’s also the bad news because I feel that losing sensation in a limb is a bad sign. Remind me never to get shot in the bottom of the foot again. I don’t care for it. My leg wasn’t able to bear weight so I was unable to kneel with my hands behind my head like we were instructed. I was in more of a classic centerfold position with one hand on my head and the other on the ground to support me. Instead of sitting back on her heels like a normal person, Martialla was upright on her knees so she could glare down at me angrily.
Blue was up on his feet talking to the Nightwitch a little ways off. My man had a crater in his back the size of a basketball from where he had been blasted by a god damn bazooka but it didn’t seem to bother him much. He is one tough blue lizard. There was barely even any blood seeping out, I’ve seen more blood when I cut a bump on my leg shaving. His healing factor isn’t so fast that you could watch it happening, but the hole was markedly smaller than it was just fifteen minutes ago.
The freak legion had taken us through a series of hallways and down a tunnel to emerge in what looked like another soccer field. I really need to see a blueprint of this place, how can there be two fields in one stadium? Is this like a practice facility? Unlike the main arena, this was just an empty field rather than a teeming open air market of guns and drugs and super-guns and super-drugs. There was a helicopter parked there but that was the only thing not normally found on a soccer field.
We had been brought before THE FOUR, the secretive masters of the Shipyard, to answer for our crimes. Although at the moment, it was only THE THREE because the pirate guy wasn’t around. Unless he was around and he was invisible. The word on the street is that he’s a “normal” guy whose only power is having lots of guns, but that’s what I would want people to think if I could turn invisible too. I’d keep my invisibility ability on the QT.
I had assumed that chick in the white suit with the sword that Blue had knocked cold was Kezi, but that proved to be incorrect. She was just some other woman with a magic sword, because the real Kezi was there standing around looking disdainful and supervillainy with HER magic sword. She had a similar outfit to Serpentina, I wonder if there’s just the one supplier for ladies to get their form-fitting all-covering vinyl sexy villain suits. At least she hadn’t dyed her hair red.
I had also assumed that lizard guy that Blue had messed up was Yihetuan but I was wrong about that too, because the real Yihetuan was there with Kezi and the Nightwitch, looking massive and lizardy. If you had asked me before I came to Madripoor, I would have told you that all lizard guys would mostly look the same like a real lizard racist. That preMadripoor me could not have been more wrong. The lizard guy in the hallway, whoever he was, had a vibe of being an actual lizard stood upright like a man. Blue is more along the lines of a humanoid lizard. And this new guy is different again, looking like a big dude with scales more than an actual lizard. And they’re all different colors as well, Blue is the best in that regard. I’ve only seen four lizard guys and they’re all very different.
When the Nightwitch was done talking to Blue, she came over to me. Despite the rumors, she didn’t look much like a voodoo priestess to me. She didn’t have dreadlocks, there was no snake draped across her shoulders, she wasn’t wearing a top hat and carrying a lantern made from a human head, she didn’t even have a stick with an animal skull on it – she looked more like the women you’d see in a company pamphlet about how great they are at hiring people of color. She wasn’t wearing a lady business suit or anything, she just had that businessperson air about her. Like the guy in The Mattei Affair, only a lady.
I looked up at her hopefully “I can explain.”
“I’m sure you can but it doesn’t matter, this kind of thing is very bad for business. People need to feel safe here. If Lucien wasn’t a friend, you’d already be dead.”
“Uh . . . thanks?”
She smiled humorlessly “Don’t mention it. I don’t know much about you, white girl, but from what I hear, you are unpredictable, you fight when you should make deals, and even worse you run when you should fight. That kind of behavior makes people nervous. It’s hard to make money when you don’t know what to expect and there’s no other reason for anyone to be in Madripoor.”
“Are you going to be coming to a point any time soon?”
She threw her head back and laughed uproariously “Oh sorry, am I wasting your time? I can see why Lucien likes you, I’ll feel sorry for him when your smart mouth gets you killed. I would wager on that happening before the year is out. Maybe we can start a pool around the office. The point that you’re so eager for me to get to is that this is your lucky day. It turns out that you can help my partner with something she’s very keen on, so you and Lucien and your Canadian mermaid friend all get to live. Assuming you’re willing to give Kezi the aid she needs.”
“Of course, I love helping people.”
She smiled again “Yes, I can tell that about you just from the short conversation we’ve had here. I’ll leave you and Kezi to it then, and sadly I must inform you that you are no longer welcome in my fine establishment. Should you be caught inside these walls again once our business here is concluded, you will be killed on sight. You understand how it is.”
“Certainly, business is business, I wouldn’t want to interfere in the process of making money, capital and amalgamation and so forth. And may I say that I really admire what you have accomplished here, making it to the top of a criminal enterprise as a black woman can’t be easy, you have my respect.”
She chuckled “You just can’t help yourself, can you? Good luck to you, white girl, you’re going to need it.”
Before we got down to brass tacks, Kezi was nice enough to heal my leg. Remember when I said that getting shot was the worst pain I’ve felt? I now have a new benchmark. Getting shot felt like my entire leg was on fire. Whatever she did made it feel like the bullet-tunnel through my leg was filled with gunpower and then set on fire from the inside. It was the kind of thing that made me wish that I had never been born. It only lasted a few moments, but it felt like enough pain for an entire lifetime. I screamed so loudly and comprehensively that I felt something “go” in my throat. No singing for me for a while. When it was over, my leg was fine but I felt drained. Since I was given my powers I never feel tired anymore, but at that moment I felt weak like I had just run a double marathon, it was a few minutes before I could even sit up.
Martialla seemed to be taking no small amount of delight in my discomfort and even Blue didn’t seem all that sympathetic. Once I was able to gather myself, Kezi instructed me through an interpreter. All I had to do was touch her blade and say some words in what I assume was Japanese. It was just that simple.
Next thing I know, Elvis is standing there beside me. He didn’t look like Elvis though, he looked like a photo negative of Elvis – the color was all wrong. The visual was so bizarre and preposterous that it didn’t look real, it looked like a crappy effect from a movie with no budget for effects. It was hard to look at it, it hurt the eyes. Kezi gestured and negative Elvis shuffled forward and was absorbed into her blade like water soaking into a sponge. With that, she turned and walked away.
“What the fuck was that?! What did you do?!”
The interpreter, a small woman in a yellow and white dress, patted me on the shoulder “It would be a shame to let fighting ability like that go to waste, you should be happy, now your friend can serve mistress even in death.”