Alcazar needs a couple days to get his ducks in a row, so the plan was to to take care of that other thing first. But you know what they say about plans. Cuo told me that her pimp weighs over four hundred pounds and has trouble getting around on his own. Why is that important? Because of his size, he has to have his suits custom made. Why is that important? There are a lot of places that custom tailor suits but there aren’t many that make them that big, in fact there’s only one – and it happens to be the place that Blue gets his clothes made. Small world huh? How can he afford custom suits, that’s my question. I think he’s holding out on me.
Blue is very sensitive about his threads. He doesn’t need them obviously, and they get ripped all to shit every time we get in a fight, but they’re important to him. I think it helps him to feel like he’s still human. He puts up a brave front, being a soldier and all, that’s kind of his thing, but I think what those alien fuckers did to him really made him depressed. Sealed inside all that armor. Not feeling anything, ever. He has to feel so cut off from the world. It must be terrible for him. Especially since everyone looks at him and just sees a big dumb thug. It’s a wonder he’s not a total psycho.
A guy named Sayuri (which I was told is a girl’s name so maybe I heard it wrong) that used to make clothes for sumōtori has a little shop north of downtown where there’s a small Japanese community. Which is surprising given the general feelings around here about the Empire of Japan. We went to see him and he was only too happy to tell us where Kalenkor (that’s the pimp) lives. So if you’re depending on tailor-client confidentially, you shouldn’t. Maybe he gets a pass though, it was pretty clear that Sayuri thinks that Kalenkor is human garbage. Doesn’t stop him from taking his money of course, but he probably overcharged him which is as good as most people can do to the bad people.
Why couldn’t Cuo tell us where he lives? Because she doesn’t know, she only knows where he hangs out when he’s working the streets – at which times he’s accompanied by his bodyguard, who’s rumored to be a NBH (why would a super person be working for a street pimp?) and a retinue of other sycophantic lackeys. The idea was that by attacking him in his home, he would actually be less well defended. Not sure if that makes sense or not but it was the plan.
Our assault was derailed though, on our way we were intercepted by News Dan and his New Dan News Van. That monstrosity roared up on us like a meteoric meteorite. For a nine ton pile of scrap iron, it stops pretty well. Seconds later I was being assaulted by Hunter asking me if I had rescued Maggie yet and Dan was talking at me so fast Xu didn’t have time to translate. Eventually I was able to fend off Hunter, and Dan slowed down enough that we could talk (through Xu). New Dan told us that we shouldn’t mess with Kalenkor because he’s under the protection of the Paper Boys.
“Are you kidding me? What kind of gang is named the paper boys? Do they ride around on bikes?
Blue flicked his tongue thoughtfully “It’s probably reference to paper as slang for money, they’re boys that get paper.”
Xu, not translating, replied “That’s halfway right, it’s referring to the paper money that is burned at funerals to give the departed currency for the afterlife – it’s their way of saying they’re killers.”
Martialla made a fishy gulping noise of surprise “Really? I thought that was a Chinese custom, I didn’t know they did that at funerals here.”
Blue looked at her “How many funerals have you been to in Madripoor?”
I waved my hands annoyedly “Who cares? Why is it Dan’s business which gang we cross today? You can’t do anything around here without crossing some gang or other.”
Xu explained that the Paper Boys help Dan out by feeding him information, so he’s not keen on them getting into a fracas with us. He said that he doesn’t want part of his “truth network” disrupted, but I bet they deliver his stupid papers just like real paper boys and that’s why they’re called that.
I explained to Dan (via Xu) what we were trying to do and he acted like we were wasting our time. I wish we had a common language so I could verbally abuse him directly, yelling at Xu as an intermediary doesn’t feel good. Plus it dilutes the message. Dan said that he could call in some favors and negotiate on our behalf and get Cuo released from Kalenkor’s control if it meant that conflict could be avoided.
“What about all his other girls?”
Martialla shook her head “Jesus, Ela, this offer is the best case scenario – everything gets resolved without any risk to us, why can’t you just accept a rare piece of good luck?”
I gestured at Xu “You’re a woman, how do you feel about this?”
She thought about it for a while “It doesn’t feel great, but if you’re going to try and rescue every hooker in Madripoor, you should probably clear your calendar for the next several years. And get your affairs in order, buy a tombstone and so forth.”
Martialla grabbed my arm angrily “You’ve been here for months now, how do you not get this? This is Madripoor! People who are good have their intentions taken advantage of and end up dead. People who are evil are killed to prevent them from becoming as dangerous as they could in a position of power. If you’re dumb, you’re dead. Careless, you’re dead. If you want to survive, you’ll need to live in a comfortable moral gray. That, and actually be smart!”
I ripped my arm out of her grasp “Don’t fucking touch me. Shut up Martialla. Just shut up.”