Remember when I was going on and on like an idiot about how there are good people in the world and not everyone is an unrelenting asshole and there is a reason to be happy and hopeful about the future? Forget all that. Put it out of your mind. Pretend I never said that. People are monsters through and through and nothing will ever change. People are dumb, selfish, dangerous beasts and the only thing keeping them from cracking each other’s skulls open and feasting upon the goo that flows forth like mantids is the military power of authoritarian governments and the threat of worse violence to come.
Why the change of heart? Turns out that the guy driving Meylupa and her friends around, Kỳ, is Elvis’s cousin. Or something, I didn’t quite follow the thread of what he was saying about that even though he speaks English just fine. It may be that his grandfather and Elvis’s grandfather were “spiritual” brothers in some religious sense and Kỳ and Elvis aren’t blood related. Or maybe they are. There’s a lot of culture going on here you know? Don’t judge me.
This guy maybe being related to Elvis isn’t what reminded me that everyone is horrible. What did that is when Kỳ and Meylupa sold me down the god damn river. There we were, bar-hopping and drinking and maybe doing a little coke (it was some kind of powder anyway) having a gay old time and I mentioned that it was getting late (or early technically) and Blue and Martialla were waiting for me so I should probably get back to Kruszarka 495 (that’s the bar in Touristville that is totally not a front for money laundering) before they came looking for me. So we pile in the Checker Marathon and Meylupa says that there’s one more spot we need to hit before we call it a night (morning). And I’m game because everyone knows that Ela is no wet blanket.
We drive to a place and then we go down some stairs and there’s a secret knock and a whole thing and it seems like we’re going into an underground casino – in both senses of the term. There are gambling halls all over the place in Madripoor but that doesn’t stop people from setting up their own operations to avoid paying protection money to the various criminal syndicates that seem to control everything outside of the financial district. Or maybe because they are part of those syndicates. I don’t know why they’re there but they’re there.
Next thing I know, Meylupa and Kỳ are gone and men pointing guns at me.
Let me diverge from my prepared remarks for a moment. My goal is revenge on Duke Eaglevane for blowing me up. But I’m starting to think that I need to get revenge on whoever scienced me up into a super person as well. Because what the fuck? Why aren’t I bulletproof? Is this what they were going for? Why would they do that? Super strength without invulnerability? What’s the point? I have to assume these were some military assholes because they’re the only ones who make super-people, so what were they doing? A bullet-resistant soldier? Wonderful! Make me a million of those, says the general. A super-strong soldier? Who gives a shit? This isn’t the fifteenth century. No one is swinging a battle axe now. Why bother?
Super speed, now that would be something. Super vision? Sure, that could help spot the enemy and so forth. Any kind of super power that would make you shoot better would be good. Perhaps some kind of danger sense, you know like spiders have. Flying would obviously be helpful. Even Martialla’s breathing underwater bullshit is practical at least, what with your amphibious landings and underwater demolitions and shark-soldiers and all. Invisibility, internal radar, some kind of electricity control thing, weevil-agility, laser shooting nipples, all fine. But super-strength? Why? For what? For what?
Thankfully it was after midnight, so I wasn’t kidnapped twice in the same day. That happened to me once before and people still give me shit about it. I was herded through a tunnel and up some different stairs and through what looked like a cheap brothel into an office where a woman was waiting for me. Aside from the fact that she was wearing a veil, she looked pretty normal. The woman standing by her side was wearing a cheongsam even though she was just a boring white lady like me. The woman in the veil was speaking Japanese I think, and her pal was translating with a French accent. I tell you this about Madripoor, it’s multi-cultural as fuck.
“You must have many questions.”
“Yeah, I do, how do my powers work? How can I be super strong without being super tough too? I can lift a ton of weight, ergo I have the force of a ton acting on my body and that’s fine. But I hurt my shoulder jumping over a fence. There’s no way I hit the ground with two thousand pounds of force. That doesn’t make any sense. If my bones are normal, shouldn’t they snap in half when I lift a compact car over my head? And if they aren’t, why are my bones not unbreakable all the time? None of this adds up. How does the physics support what’s happening here?”
She raised a meticulously curated eyebrow “Do you really want me to translate that?”
“I guess not. Does she wear that veil to look mysterious or is her face messed up?”
“Her face is messed up.”
“Oh. Sorry I asked.”
At this point, the woman in the veil angrily said something that I assume was “You’re supposed to be translating, moron!” Getting down to brass tacks (what does that mean? Something to do with laying carpet maybe?) she told me (via translator but we already covered that) that her name was Kinuyo Yoshizumi and she’s the leader of yet another organized crime bullshit club. Her husband was a Yazuka martial arts guy who was massacred by Mr. X. She went to his Yakuza pals for revenge help and they said “gross you’re a girl get away”. So she did what any woman would do, she built her own criminal empire (using proxies because of the girl thing) to get revenge herself.
Problem is, after the first few assassins she hired to take out Mr. X turned up on her step with their arms and legs hacked off at the elbow and knee respectively, people stopped taking her calls. Somehow within hours of my skirmish with Mr. X and his S&M bondage murder posse, she found out about it and then also communicated her desire to speak to me out to her agents. Which is some pretty impressive logistical operation. People (you know the ones I mean) like to paint women as bad leaders, but when it comes to organization and planning, I think they have some real skills that could be valuable in group situations. Give women a chance will you?
When she asked me how I penetrated Mr. X’s defenses (unintentional rhyme?), I told her I was just walking around and his goons scooped me up much like her own goons just did. She didn’t find this answer very pleasing. But I explained to her that she was thinking about it all wrong. Getting to him is not the issue – I’m sure he’s going to be coming after me. All she has to do is wait around for him to show up to kill me. The trick is finding someone who can take him out.
I suggested that a sniper rifle at two hundred yards is pretty hard for anyone to defend against no matter how cool you are with a katana. She said that the reason people get into arm and leg hacking range with the guy is because he’s a psychic and he knows beforehand if the sniping is coming. He knows when people are coming into hacking range too, but he likes that so he doesn’t avoid it. I said that he didn’t seem very psychic to me when I bifurcated his nose with his own sword but the Frenchwoman didn’t translate that.
I told her I was up for acting as bait in whatever kind of trap she wanted to set up (within reason) as long as she had someone capable of doing the deed. In return, she would get me the hell out of Madripoor. She said that she had just the person in mind. But the way the translator said it sounded like she wasn’t really sure. But was that actually her or just the translator?