Baccano! 1934 Alice in Jails - Streets Episode - Chapter 1, Part 2 of 3 (10/29)
Gonensei Chapter 1 (10/37)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baccano! 1933 - THE SLASH - Bloody to Fair: Epilogue & Remnants

The Epilogue is the end of The Slash storyline, but there is actually more to the book itself. Like the name implies, the "Remnants, or New Prologues" more or less lead into the 1934 Alice in Jails/Peter Pan in Chains arc (volumes 8~10). This book also includes the second author's midword I've ever read. Enjoy.

PDF here.


Cloudy to Rainy
Color Pages and Prologues
Chapter 0
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Connecting Chapter



Bloody to Fair
Color Pages and Connecting Chapter
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Final Chapter
Epilogue & Remnants



---



Little Italy
The Alveare


"I'm telling you, it was amazing! Astounding! The Mexican magician actually cut through the clouds with her sword!"

"The sun shone through them and everything!"

Isaac and Miria waxed lyrical about the magic show they'd seen that morning, regaling the members of the Martillo Family with their story as they dug into a late lunch. Sadly, though, most of the camorristas seemed inclined to dismiss them out of hand.

"Sounds t'me like you're making it all up!"

"You guys fell asleep somewhere and dreamed it all up, didn't ya?"

"These magicians musta pulled a disappearing act on your brains, you numbskulls!"

 Isaac turned to his partner, aghast.

"Look at these poor souls, Miria! They don't know the power of magic!"

"Someday a magician will make the Statue of Liberty disappear, and then you'll all be sorry!"

"Hahaha! Yeah, the day that happens'll be the day I swim a lap around Manhattan!"

A few decades later, David Copperfield would make Pecho dearly regret his thoughtless words, but that is another story, for another time.

Maiza leaned over to Ronnie and whispered, "It was you, wasn't it?"

"Mmm?" Ronnie replied, keeping his eyes fixed on his chicken sandwich. "What're you talking about?"

"I did think it was a bit strange how that downpour suddenly stopped, you know."

"...There must have been some pretty amazing magicians up there, then."

Maiza sighed, rubbing his forehead.

"I thought the crafty cat was supposed to hide its claws."

"Hide them too much, and you'll forget how to bare them. Better to keep your touch, I'd think."

"I've never heard of a demon using its powers so frivolously."

"I enjoy breaking the mold."

Just then, Firo and Ennis walked into the restaurant, interrupting their idle conversation.

"Ah, if it isn't Mr. Prochainezo, the man who didn't spare me a glance when a bomb exploded not ten feet away from where I was sitting."

"Aww, Ronnie, don't be like that. I'm sorry, okay?! I... Err. Uhh, anyway! How did things go with those kids from Chicago?"

"Oh, them. They don't want to work for us, but they agreed to give us a cut in exchange for working on our turf."

"Huh, really? Didn't they work together with Dallas to kidnap you and Ennis, though?"

The Martillo members eavesdropping on the conversation turned to each other and sniggered.

"Hey, I think Firo still doesn't know that Isaac wrote that letter."


"Haha, yeah, looks like it."


"Man, it's gonna be hilarious when he finds out..."


"Huh?" Firo looked around at the chuckling audience, confused. At length he shrugged it off and went over to the counter, ordering a sandwich for himself and another for Ennis.

Ennis took her seat beside him and whispered, "Firo... I don't think we need to tell Mister Maiza about the Lamia, or what Nebula did..."

"...Yeah, let's keep it to ourselves for now. Szilard's mess is ours to clean up."

"Right..."

"Dammit, twelve hundred of 'em, huh.... This is gonna be a pain..."

Isaac and Miria suddenly butted in on the conversation, banishing the somewhat despondent atmosphere in an instant.

"Twelve hundred what, Firo? Twelve hundred enemies waiting in ambush?!"

"Or maybe twelve hundred servants, waiting to serve him!"

"No, perhaps he means he has that many relatives."

"Or lovers! Eeek! Firo, you playboy!"

Firo smiled awkwardly, unsure of how to approach the slightly unhinged couple.

"Heya, you two. Today was kinda rough, wasn't it? Err... Oh, yeah. I'm. Umm. Sorry about the dominoes."

"Dominoes? What dominoes?"

"Oh, you want to play dominoes, Firo?"

"Christ, you both forgot all about it?!"

Firo blushed beet red, wishing he could crawl into a hole somewhere and disappear.

"Oh, that's right," Isaac said, snapping his fingers. "Firo! We've got something to ask of you."

"Huh?"

Isaac pointed dramatically at the youngest Martillo capo.

"Say uncle!"

"That's right, say uncle!"

"...Uncle?" Firo asked, wondering what was going on, but Isaac and Miria were already far too busy celebrating their success to explain.

"We did it, Miria! We really did it!"

"Mission complete, Isaac!"

"...Y'know, talking to you two's given me a lot of resistance to weirdoes," Firo commented, thinking of Christopher as he took a bite out of the sandwich that had just arrived.

"Firo, we heard the news. You ran around in that pouring rain without even an umbrella when you heard Ennis was missing, didn't you?"

"We heard you were even calling her name as you ran! 'Ennis! Ennis!'"

Assorted bits of sandwich forcefully exited Firo's mouth.

Isaac and Miria, merciless and cunning, took up positions on either side of Firo and began to poke him slyly with their elbows, eyebrows fiercely waggling.

Firo ignored the two for a moment and chanced a peek at Ennis, and saw that she looked utterly surprised at the news.

...Shit.


"Who told you that?"

"Tsk, tsk, Firo. We promised Czes very solemnly that we wouldn't tell!"

"It was a very manly oath!"

"...Czeeeeeeees!"


Firo dashed out of the restaurant in search of his diminutive flat mate, his sandwich forgotten.

Watching him go, Sena the store owner simply shook her head in disbelief and said, "Honestly. The two of you're peas in a pod. Didn't you go running out into the rain calling his name, too?"

"P-please stop..."

"Actually, now that we're on the topic. Just what does Firo mean to you anyway?"

It was a blunt question, but Ennis only smiled softly and answered with the truth.


"Firo is very precious to me. He's... family."

---

The Manor




It's like I'm dreaming.

Like I'm floating in the clouds.

Where am I now?

Back in the water?

Or did I fall from somewhere again?

Dammit, all these memories're fucking terrible.

But I remember this feeling.

I remember it, but I don't remember what it is.

Funny, how that works. I could never forget what the inside of that barrel was like, or the feeling of free falling from a skyscraper. But this, I can't remember.

Well. I guess anybody'd remember falling from the top floor of a fucking skyscraper if they lived to tell about it, especially since it was only a day ago.

It was him.

That squinty-eyed bastard.

Yeah, you.

Don't even think of laying a hand on Eve!

Dammit, who is it? Who's the asshole who made you cry, Eve?!

Tell me who the bastard was who made you look so worried!

C'mon, Eve. Tell me. Who is it? Who made you cry?

I promised you, didn't I? I promised you I'd keep you safe.

Tell me who did this to you.

Tell me who made you cry!

"Dallas!"

I only realize I'm not dreaming when Eve buries her face in my chest, throwing her arms around me.

I'm in a fancy bed. Man, how many years has it been since I slept in a bed this soft?

Hey, look. This sort of bed ain't for people like me.

Look at you, Eve. You look like you haven't slept a wink for days. Shove me out and get some sleep. God knows I don't deserve this kind of luxury.

"Did... did you know how worried I was?!"

Ah... So it was me. I was the one who made you cry.

"Dallas... I'm... I'm so glad!"

I really am a terrible human being.

"Ah..."

Good. I can talk.

"Yes, Dallas?"

"Sorry. I broke the promise I made with you. I got into another fight."

She doesn't say a word.

"But look, I kept the other promise. I kept you safe, didn't I, Eve?"

Don't cry, you dummy.

...Don't cry.


If you start crying because of me...

That means I'll have to go and beat myself up.

So don't cry.

Stop crying, dammit.

It makes me wanna cry myself...

---

Somewhere in the Dead of Night




"What did Master Huey say?"

"We're safe for now. Tim's taking all the responsibility for what happened."

"Mmm. Remind me to thank him next time I see him."

"Did you get any news on Adelle?"

"We didn't want to leave a paper trail, so we moved her to a small hospital in New York. It was a funny little place, run by a funny little man wrapped from head to toe in grey cloth. Just the right sort of place for strange ones like us, I'd say."

"I see... Do you think she'll be back anytime soon?"

"I think she remembered a little too much of her past. Tim said he'd take care of her, so she's more or less in his hands now."

"Hmm... I can see how that might break her. Our time in the laboratory was hell on Earth. Mmm. What are you going to do now? I've already got a mark to take care of while I wait for orders. Do you want to come along?"

"I'll... Well, I'll think about it."

"...You were just outmatched back in New York. This is the second time you've lost, right?"

"Mhmm... The first black mark on my record in four decades. The only one before that was the one who broke all my teeth. What was his name again? It was the name of some river..."

"Hmph. Don't let it get to you too much. It's not even your first defeat. Bounce back."

"Right, of course... I think I'll go out for a walk, try and touch nature a little..."


"Ah, what a beautiful flower," Christopher murmured. He was back among the warehouses of Chicago, squatting again in front of the small but hardy flower that had sprouted from a crack in the concrete.

"I didn't expect you to still be here. I thought you'd have dried up and rotted away a long time ago."

It had been a week since he'd visited, stumbling upon the flower by chance during a side job, and the sight of it still clinging gamely to life was a pleasant surprise.

"Haha, look. You can still see the bloodstains here.

"Beautiful..."

So entranced was Christopher that even when something slammed into his back with enough force to make him rock forward, he didn't immediately realize what was going on.

"Oh?"

He felt intense heat spreading across his spine and reached back, trying to make sense of the situation. Something wet touched his fingertips, but before he could tell what it was, a second shock ran through his body.

The heat finally turned into pain, and Christopher sprang to his feet and spun to face his assailant.

"Ack!"

He knew that face, staring back at him in a mixture of hatred and surprised fear.

"Oh, it's you. You're the fellow who looked so good kneeling next to this flower, aren't you?"

It was the undercover agent who'd called on the Lamia to cover his tracks, and had in the end been double-crossed and ruined by Christopher's whims.

"Y-you bastard..."

"Were you hiding from the police? Fancy meeting you here."

The former officer was breathing hard, his knees knocking together, and he held out his bloody knife with shaking hands as though to ward Christopher away.

Christopher stared thoughtfully at the blood--his blood--staining the dirty blade and said, "You know, the color's exactly the same, isn't it."

"Die, you fucking monster!"

Christopher casually sidestepped the desperate stab and grabbed the druggie's wrist. He twisted hard, once, and the man's arm snapped backward at an unnatural angle to drive the knife straight into his own throat.

"Guh... Guhkkk..."

Christopher glanced at the blood on his hands and then back at the scarlet liquid gushing from the dying man's throat. "See? It's the same color. What's so different about us?"

He snatched the knife from the other man's numb hands and plunged it into his heart. His expression as he stared at the blood staining the druggie's chest was somehow sad.

"I can't see any difference, but everyone tells me there is. Isn't that strange, how simple superstition can influence people so much?"

He stabbed the man again, and again, and again.

"We're the same." 

"We're the same."

"We're the same."

Christopher came to and realized that somewhere along the way, the blade of the knife had broken off in the man's chest.

"Oh, sorry. I think we might actually be different after all."

He tossed the broken hilt into the lake and turned away from the already cooling corpse.

"I'm not as frail as you are."


He didn't know how long he'd been walking, aimlessly wandering among the empty warehouses. He reached behind himself absently and touched a hand to his back.

"Oww."

There was a wet squelch, and a fresh coat of crimson joined the crust of drying brown on his hand.

"Hmm... This really hurts. What should I do?"

Slowly, he knelt, and then slumped on his side. He chuckled then, a little ashamed of himself.

"What should I do? I really am in dire straits right now. Hahaha."


"Ah... What do I do? I don't want to die. Here lies Christopher Shouldered, stabbed while looking at a flower. How embarrassing."


"I wonder who's more unnatural... Me, or the twelve hundred immortals working for Nebula..."

The light slowly faded from Christopher's red eyes.

"What's so different about me? I just wanted to live a normal life... And just like everyone else, I don't want to die. Someone, tell me... Tell me what's so different..."

Christopher tried his best to stave off his fear of death, muttering aimless nothings to himself.

Then someone came to a stop beside him.

Christopher looked up at the silhouette, and smiled gently.


"Hello. Would you like to be friends?"

---

Somewhere in the Darkness




"...'and I know better than anyone that your track record up till this point has been flawless. There is also my fault to consider, for I did not tell you of this possibility, and instead left everything up to the Lamia. Your disposal is deferred, for now.' ...is what he says."

"Sham... Tell Master Huey there's something I want to ask him."

"...'Oh?' ...is what he says."

"Huey... Huey Laforet. Were you the one who killed Jimmy?"

"...'Whatever could you mean?' ...is what he says."

"The only people who knew about Jimmy were my stepfather, Tick, and.... and you. The clockmaker would never have the guts to kill a living thing, and Tick told me he didn't do it. That leaves..."

"...'If that is what you believe, then that is your world. Think what you will.' ...is what he says."

"I see..."

"...'Even though you suspect me, you are still unwavering in your loyalty. I believe that this event was a truly important learning experience for you, and that makes me happy as well.' ...is what he says."

"Just remember this, Huey Laforet. The world that I wish for no longer has any room in it for you."

"...'Haha, that doesn't matter to me.' ...is what he says."


Sham took his leave, and Tim began to walk.

I will not be a butterfly. I will not be a spider.


I refuse to be the puppet, or the puppeteer.


I just... I want a sword that will slash through the spider's web. I don't want to become that blade myself...


But I want a world where such a blade exists.


And to get that world, I'll do anything.


Anything.


---


The Gandor Family




"So I told her right then and there, amigos! I've got two swords, so that makes me four times as strong as you!"

"Whoa!"

"What an idiot!"

"Awesome!"

"I'd never be able to say something that dumb with a straight face!"

"You really told her, didn't ya!"

"Amigo!"

Buoyed by the cheers of the Family's more fun-loving members, Maria gestured flamboyantly as she told them what had happened the past two days. She had just jumped up onto a table, her hands grasping an imaginary sword as she prepared to reenact the events of her final climactic battle, when someone noisily cleared his throat and everyone fell silent.

"Miss Maria," Luck said, smiling, "a moment of your time, please."

Maria followed the Gandor boss into his office and found Tick already there, sitting at one of the chairs in front of Luck's desk.

"Wow, what's the occasion? You want to congratulate me over my victory too, Luck? Thanks so much, amigo!"

The smile on Luck's face stayed fixed there like a mask. "Mister Tick tells me that the two of you went through quite a lot these past two days. It must have been very demanding."

"Nope! It was a piece of cake, amigo!" Maria replied, grinning rakishly back. She was so excited that she didn't notice how Tick's ever-present smile looked a tad strained.

"No, no. It must have been very demanding."

"I'm telling you, it was easy, amigo."

"Oh, yes, of course. Very easy, Miss Maria," Luck said, and only then did Maria see the vein pulsing on his temple. "Very easy indeed, compared to the job I entrusted to you..."

"...Huh?"

"I just got off the phone with Ronnie Schiatto, the Martillo Family's chiamatore. We hammered out everything regarding Mr. Splot's gang and their business on our turf. We, as in Mr. Schiatto and I, from the ground up."

Maria opened her mouth to try and get a word in edgewise, but Luck ignored her and just kept on talking.

"The revelation that they were on close terms with Claire also caught me completely by surprise. I am told that he, too, will be representing their interests in their dealings with us and the Martillos. In fact, I received a call from him as well, telling me as much."

Luck Gandor paused.

"Strange, isn't it, how I had to get all this information about the matter from other sources, instead of from the very people I sent out to take care of it."

Maria finally realized what was going on, pouted, and looked away.

"Hmph..."

"What do you mean, hmph?!"




An hour and a very long lecture later, Luck finally dismissed Maria and Tick with an exasperated, "If you're expecting to get paid for this, then you're sadly mistaken. If you need money, go sell some information to the Daily Days."


"Hey, Maria."

"Hmm? What is it, Tick?"

"I think I can understand how you feel right now."

"You're probably thinking right, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't say it, amigo. You'll just depress me more."

The rain had stopped, and Tick happily snapped his scissors together as they walked, but Maria only sighed and looked down at her feet.

"Aaah... You know, I really thought I'd done well this time around."

"Well, we did mess up, so we don't have room to complain."

They kept going for a while, until Maria looked to her partner.

"Are you okay, Tick? You didn't really even get to say goodbye to your brother, did you?"

"It's okay."

Tick realized suddenly that his heart was surprisingly barren. He'd sent off his brother without a single moment's hesitation.

I didn't even cry, after all these years without having seen him at all.


Tick revealed none of what was going on inside on his face, his smile the same as ever.

"Tack looked like he was doing just fine. He's a lot smarter than I am. He can see all the things I can't."

"But I think he made a lot of enemies too, amigo. There's that Dallas guy, for one."

"He can look after himself. I think Mr. Genoard is going to go after me now, anyway."

"And I'll keep you safe, so you can rest easy!" Maria said, the smile finally returning to her features.

"I've broken the relationships of dozens, even hundreds of people, so being hated is nothing new for me," Tick said. "I've had people curse me more times than I can remember. Maybe I'm already cursed. Maybe that's why I'll never be able to form ties with other people..."

"...What're you talking about?" Maria asked, and Tick stopped, looking curiously to her. He seemed surprised, but Maria paid it no heed, bulling ahead with a peculiar sort of confession.

"You and I have been together for a while already, right? And we'll keep being together in the future... though it's entirely up to you whether you'll stay my amigo or become my novio(1)!"

"Huh...?"

Uncharacteristically serious, Maria turned to face Tick, looking him square in the eyes.

"You still can't believe it because you can't see it?"

"Well..."

Maria grinned.

"Then let's make it so that you can see!"

"What?"

Before Tick could react, Maria reached out and grabbed his hand with her own, then turned and dashed headlong toward their destination.

"Wait, Maria! You're going too fast!"

"C'mon, don't fall behind! If you can't keep up then this connection between us might just break, amigo!"

Tick blushed beet red, but pumped his legs furiously to keep pace, as though determined to keep hold of the bond he'd managed to form.

Maria drew her sword and held it high. This time, it really was coincidence, but the clouds split where she pointed her blade, revealing cerulean behind white.


The autumn sky peeked out from behind the clouds, deep and blue.

Oh so blue...


---

---

Author's Midword


There, the second half. The end of Tick and Maria's story.

It ended up pretty long, but thankfully I was able to wrap up Tick and Maria's story with this book.

So, umm, those of you who sort of peek ahead at the afterword might be sort of confused, so... Umm. Well, things just sort of ended up like this. Anyway, Baccano! is heading into a long storyline now. Here's what happened.


One day back during spring...

My editor: I think it's about time we wrapped up the 1930s.

Me: Whaat?! It's being canceled?!

Editor: No, no, I just mean, why don't we do some more stuff like that 2001 book you did? I just think it'd be easier to expand your horizons if you finished the 1930s arc.

Me: Whaat?! So you're just saying it's being canceled in a roundabout way?!

Editor: I told you, no. But there's a limit to what you can do with the 1930s, isn't there?

Me: Oh, I see what you mean. But I've actually still got a ton of stuff I want to do with that time period.

Editor: How many arcs?

Me: Oh, about ten... Ack?! I don't have enough years!!

...and therefore (?) we're heading into the heart of the 1930s, Huey Laforet's story. Well, actually, we're already there. Chi and Liza and Beriam, who you've already met, will have big roles in the upcoming story. Well, no, they might not.

In the future, I'm thinking that I might want to have self-contained episodes like this mixed in together with a longer overarching arc for the rest of the 1930s. You'll see a lot of new faces along with the old, so I hope you'll stay with me for the ride.

And if you're reading my other projects--Durarara!!, Vamp!, the Etsusa Bridge Series, or anything else--thank you so much for following them! Yup!


Anyway, my editor had the idea that this volume's afterword could stand to be in a very strange location, so here we are. Somehow, though, I don't think this is going to catch on.

So I asked this person, a known master of afterwords, for his opinion!

---

Hello, everyone. My name is Shigusawa Keiichi (仕草沸けいい血). Actually, I'm Shigusawa Keiichi (時雨沢恵), but this computer refuses to give me the right characters, so what can you do?

First off, I want to express my undying rage at having the prestigious title of "First Midword Ever Published in Dengeki Bunko" stolen from me.

I'm going to challenge Mr. Narita to a duel now, and maybe if I beat him hard enough this book won't be published.

Root for me, everyone. En garde, Narita!


Huh?


Thank you. This is Shigusawa Keiichi, signing off.

---

Wha?


Well, that was a little awkward, but anyway. What is a midword? Who knows! It's a mystery. A mystery that you, dear readers, will have to solve!

You might be wondering just what in the world I'm thinking, writing an afterword-cum-midword like this, but, uhh, well. Please keep reading. The book's not over yet!

And thank you very much, Mr. Shigusawa Keiichi!


Oh, and as for the author's picture this volume, I must thank Mr. Mizuki Shoutarou of Fujimi Mystery Bunko for taking a picture with me. Mr. Mizuki's newest work is going on sale on the same date as this volume: November 10th! This is the first author's afterword collaboration (what?) between Dengeki and Fujimi Mystery! Thank you very much to everyone involved! Our objective? Increased sales, of course! So anyway, please buy Fujimi Mystery Bunko's In Search of the Half Dollar  as well.... Wait, am I allowed to do this?

Of course, the most heartfelt thanks to my editor and the rest of the staff at Dengeki Bunko; everyone who lives in the city of S; all of my friends and acquaintances; Mr. Enami Katsumi, who has produced excellent illustrations for me despite a grueling schedule; and of course, everyone who's reading this at this very moment. Thank you very much!

September 2004 
Suspiciously looking at suspicious pictures of suspicious movies and suspicious anime while chuckling suspiciously,
Narita Ryohgo

---

---

There was a tiny island off the coast of San Francisco Bay, made up mostly of foreboding boulders and sheer cliffs, topped by a small cluster of inelegant concrete buildings.

Unlike its namesake, the pelican, Alcatraz(2) Island was a grim and dreary place.

Originally uninhabited, the island had been converted into a fort to protect San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. Its formidable defenses were then bolstered even more during the Civil War, and when all was said and done the naval fortress boasted an impressive battery of one hundred and five long-range iron cannons as well as four fearsome Rodman guns, at the time the pinnacle of military firepower.

The island became a prison for military criminals, holding them during the Civil War and continuing to do so even after its role as a fort became obsolete. The fortress that had been made to keep people away became a jail to hold them inside, housing prisoners from the war, Confederate sympathizers, and even some Native Americans. By the turn of the twentieth century, few remembered that it had once been a fortress.

In the year 1933, Alcatraz was deactivated as a military prison and then reborn as the most formidable federal prison in the United States.


The prison building boasted a long hallway that would later come to be known as Broadway, one of Alcatraz's most famous tourist attractions. Deep below that hall was a former storage basement that had been modified to serve as a solitary confinement area. And deeper, yet deeper still, in the very bowels of the prison, there was a small room that had never been drawn on the building's blueprints.

He existed there.

It was a special cell, made specifically to house one person. Him.

Actually, it seemed a trifle large, considering it was a prison cell. It was wide enough that it would not have looked too out of place as a hotel suite.

But any illusion that it was a place of luxury would be swiftly dashed upon taking a look around. The room boasted no decorations, only the barest of necessities. A small, threadbare bed, a naked sink. A single bar of soap and an aluminum cup. The size of the cell actually made it seem even more desolate, not less.

The prisoner held inside the cell spent his time there quietly, his very existence going unnoticed by all but a select few of the prison guards. He sat wordlessly on the edge of his bed, gazing at walls that had never been touched by the sun's rays.

It was not a blank gaze, the look in the man's eyes. He stared purposefully at one spot, looking at something that only he could see.

"I've been keeping a journal inside my head," the man suddenly said.

His gaze did not waver, and it seemed like he was talking to nothing. Perhaps to the room itself.

There was no guard standing outside his cell.

Nor was there anyone in the cell with him.

"I used to bribe the guards to bring me books and newspapers to read... But recently, the rules were revised--quite strictly, may I add--and they were all taken away."

He kept talking, the purpose in his voice making it clear that he was directing his words at someone or something, obviously expecting an answer from the empty room.

"The new warden who came after the federal government got hold of this island, James Johnston, is a talented man. He goes to great lengths to make sure the inmates are clothed and fed well, but in exchange he is fearfully strict when it comes to keeping them in line. If I were a betting man, I would bet that this island will go down in history as inescapable."

"I didn't come here to listen to you whine," a voice said from where no voice should have been, the very air wavering and warping.

"...But no matter."

The formless presence that had filled the room began to come together, gathering in one spot before the man on the bed.

The man blinked, once, and when his eyes opened again there was a sharp-eyed man in a business suit where no man had been there before... Ronnie Schiatto.

"...It's certainly been a while, Huey Laforet. If I'm not mistaken, we haven't seen each other face to face since our first meeting back on the boat."

Huey looked up at the mention of his name, looking the tall man in the eyes with a sincere smile.

"Ah. So you remembered my name, though I do not recall ever telling it to you."

"Maiza told me all about his friends, of course. Seeing as how you aren't surprised at seeing me, I'm guessing that you've been keeping track of me, as I've been of you."

"At first, I had only planned on observing Maiza. It is purely coincidence that I happened to stumble upon you as well, demon... Or do you prefer Ronnie Schiatto? Is that your true name? Immortals cannot use false names when talking to one another, but I would have only your word that the same law applies to demons as well," Huey said lightly, though his voice held a tone of respect now that he was face to face with the demon.

Ronnie only stared back at him, then said, slowly and deliberately, "My name is Elmer C. Albatross."

For the first time, the smile on Huey's face faltered. The name was one he knew well, for it was the name of his only friend in all the world, but he knew for a fact that the being he currently faced was not that man.

A smirk crept onto Ronnie's features, as though to replace the one that Huey had lost.

"...There's your answer."

"Ah."

"If you want my word, I will tell you this: Ronnie Schiatto is my true name, in a way. It's one that I gave myself. Assuming that you believe me, of course."

Huey offered Ronnie an amused smile, as though to say that he understood, but the cold light of animosity in his eyes lingered nonetheless.

"...I would very much appreciate it if you refrained from using Elmer in your experiments like that, even if it was only his name."

"A strange request, coming from someone who doesn't hesitate to use up the lives of others for his own tests."

Huey ignored the other man and instead asked, "Setting that matter aside, may I know why you decided to visit today? I'm afraid that conversation in the cells is strictly forbidden. If one of the guards happened to see us right now..."

"Nothing would happen, because those rules don't apply to you. And even if they did, I would take care of it."

"I see. Omnipotence is truly a grand thing. Though I must say that all things considered, you are surprisingly human," Huey said jestingly, the last of the anger draining from his body.

Ronnie, too, accepted the peace offering for what it was, and moved on to the real reason why he'd come.

"I'll cut to the chase. Huey Laforet... what is your ultimate goal?"

"...My goal?"

"What are you thinking, setting yourself against Nebula, gathering up the incomplete elixir of immortality?"

Huey cocked his head curiously, as though it puzzled him to be questioned by a being he had called omnipotent.

"Why do you ask? It would be the work of a moment for you to read my mind, would it not?"

"Hmph. Where's the fun in that? Do you want me to die of boredom?"

For once, Huey was struck silent as he reminded himself he was facing a demon.

I see now why he offered us immortality for no cost.

"And it is fun," he said, letting none of his thoughts show on his face, "to appear out of thin air in the cell of a maximum security prison on the other side of the continent, to ask me yourself?"

"Certainly. There's a lot of fun to be had in talking with someone as unique as you, and I didn't have the time to take the train. Visiting hours are probably over, anyway."

"How terrible. You're simply bending the rules to suit your whims," Huey said, and though he shook his head in mock despair, his voice was bright with excitement. "Your very existence is... cheating. Yes, that is the word. Simply by walking this earth, by living and breathing and acting, you warp the rules of the universe and bring them to their knees. The laws of physics do not apply to you; you break them so easily that to you, it is second nature."

Huey's breathing quickened with excitement and he leaned forward, lowering his voice as he answered Ronnie's question.

"My objective is to find out what exactly immortals are capable of. And as for the final result, I want you." He paused. "Not you, yourself. But I want to create a demon with power such as yours with my own hands... or, perhaps, become such a being, myself."

"...Jealous of my good looks?" Ronnie said teasingly, but Huey paid it no heed. The corners of Ronnie's lips rose in an amused smile and he said, "Well then. How goes the scientific process?"

"I... I have a theory about your true nature."

"...Didn't I tell you that myself? I'm not actually a demon. I'm simply an alchemist, just like you... One who's lived for far too long."

"That is the truth, but not the whole truth. Am I not right?"

Ronnie replied with silence.

"You are not a demon, and not a god. But you are not a simple alchemist, either... Ah, but I must finish my tests before I give you my conclusion."


Silence fell over the room for a few minutes.

"You know," Huey said, breaking the ice, "I was actually very surprised. I did not truly believe that Nebula would do something so brash..."

"You set your guinea pigs on that building just to make sure?"

"I was almost certain even before I sent Christopher, I assure you. The Twins' reports are almost always accurate."

Huey chuckled.

"I wonder. Will Nebula be able to keep them in check? Those people have not learned of immortality as a concept--no, instead they have experienced it themselves, felt the life come back to their bodies. And not just one or two. Nearly half their employees tasted that forbidden fruit in one fell swoop. And besides, it wasn't a failed endeavor, despite the fact that Tim failed to retrieve the elixir. I was able to amuse myself a little, observe Dallas Genoard--fascinating specimen, might I add--and more than anything, Tim has matured greatly through this series of events. Enough to make his latent animosity toward me come to the surface."

"You planned everything?" Ronnie asked, for once sounding genuinely surprised. Huey nodded.

"Naturally. Most of the events unfolded according to either my plans or Nebula's, but there were a few random factors that neither of us could account for. For example, there was Claire Stanfield, the former Felix Walken's faction, and... and, you, of course."

"The only thing I've done recently was frighten a few restaurant patrons by putting on a little show for a Mexican girl."

"Omnipotence certainly has its benefits, does it not," Huey said teasingly, seeming to enjoy the situation.

"I took a look at Christopher Shouldered and his friends," Ronnie said, abruptly changing the subject. "At those Twins of yours, too. Looks like you put Szilard's research to good use."

They both knew what Ronnie meant by that.

Huey smiled. "Are you going to turn me in for corporate espionage?"

"I wouldn't be able to wring much money out of a broke man in prison."

"Prison... Ah, yes. I have been locked in a prison for centuries now."

Huey rose and turned to stare at the stark walls, his eyes losing focus as he looked at something only he could see.

"Back then, on the boat... You placed us all in the prison known as time. Ah... There is no past in this place, no present and no future. Just a swirling maelstrom of time."

Ronnie kept his silence and waited.

"What can immortals achieve? What is the limit of our capability, our true potential? That has been the thought that has held me in its thrall all these years. You see, no amount of wisdom or compassion can make a mortal man the God who will cure the world of its pains. Countless sacrifices are necessary to save even one person. That is the limit of humanity."

"You're underestimating what humans can do."

"My, my... I can't say I ever expected to hear that from a demon..."


At length, Ronnie decided to give Huey one last piece of information before he left.

"Wouldn't be fair of me to take without giving, would it. I'll tell you something I'm pretty sure you don't know."

"What is that?"

"Do you know of a man named Ladd Russo?"

"Ah, yes, of course. He was one of the... random factors, during the Flying Pussyfoot experiment."

Huey pursed his lips with disdain as he said the words, as though he found the idea of anything that could potentially throw a wrench in his experiments to be distasteful.

"He declared he was going to kill you someday, and now I hear he's being transferred to this island. A stroke of good luck, wouldn't you say?"

"Not at all. What's fortunate about a man coming to kill me?"

"Because at least you won't be bored any more."

By the time Huey opened his mouth in protest it was too late. The heavy air in the room returned to normal, the small cell once against empty of anyone save the inmate who lived there.

---

An hour had passed since Ronnie's sudden visit and equally sudden departure, and now another being shared the cell with Huey. It was not, of course, Ronnie Schiatto.

"Aren't you bored because they took all your books, Daddy?" it asked, its high, childish voice sounding distinctly out of place in a prison cell.

"No, dear. I even get visitors from time to time to keep me company," Huey replied, stroking the figure's hair softly.

Just like Huey himself, the figure--the girl--had black hair, and bright golden eyes peeked out from behind her raven bangs. She was about as tall as Huey was, though Huey was still seated on his bed, and that coupled with the sound of her voice made it clear that she was just a young girl.

No amount of bribing would have gotten a child into any cell in Alcatraz.

In other words, the situation in Huey's cell was taking place unbeknownst to the island's staff.

"Daddy, Daddy! Guess what! I went and saw Chane!"

"That's nice, Liza," Huey said, and the girl's eyes lit up with childish joy as her biological father called her by name.

"And you know what, Daddy?" she chattered, her voice completely different from the one that she'd used with Christopher and his companions. "I'm a lot stronger than she is! I'm really really strong! If that Vino guy hadn't been there then I'd've killed her for sure!"

Huey smiled awkwardly and tapped Liza lightly on the nose with one finger.

"Didn't I tell you not to kill your sister yet, dear?"

His voice stayed completely calm and even, but the girl immediately bowed her head, tears welling up in her eyes.

"I-I'm sorry, Daddy! I won't do it again, promise! Are you mad at me, Daddy? I didn't mean it!"

"Haha, of course I'm not angry, Liza."

"Really?"

Liza looked up hopefully, and her father smiled and softly stroked her cheek with one hand.

"Really. Don't worry."

"You don't hate me, right?"

"How could I hate my own daughter?" Huey said. The smile on his face died far before reaching his eyes, and he sounded like he was reading from a script, but Liza noticed none of that. She blushed and smiled, looking shyly up at her father.

"Daddy? Who's more important to you, me or Chane?"

Huey's smile grew even gentler as he heard the note of uncertainty in the girl's voice.

"You, of course, Liza."

Liza cheered and jumped into her father's waiting arms.

Such was her joy that she didn't even notice that Huey hadn't even been looking at her when he spoke. 

He stared instead at a single point in the air, gazing at something that only he could see...


The immortal deceived everything around him.

He lied to his guinea pigs. He lied to the world around him. He even lied to himself.


An old memory came to life in his heart.

---

"Huey, there's nothing in this world but love and justice. And that includes the love people have for themselves, and the justice they uphold in the name of their own desires. So what to do, to make everyone in the world smile? I've got an idea, myself, but while it's easy enough to say, the doing would be a different matter."

"Interesting."

"...You have to become a villain."

"A villain?"

"If everything in this world is just a conflict of people's individual justices, and it's impossible for everyone to be saved... Then you can become the only evil in the world. Show them something that goes against all their rules, something that goes beyond all their justices."

"...A laughable suggestion."

"Makes you smile, doesn't it?"


"Elmer," Huey murmured, remembering his old friend, "Do you think I am laughable right now? Would you smile, if you saw me?"

His voice was so quiet that not even his daughter heard him, though she yet clung to his waist. The words went unheard, disappearing into the darkness of his prison cell.

Quietly, and yet more quietly...

---
---



"...Who's there?" the man said, seemingly to himself. By all appearances he was alone in the large study.

Then a shadow detached itself from the darkness and walked into the light of the single lamp, as though in response to his question.

"You don't need to know," the slender silhouette said, stepping closer to his target. It was Chi. "You'll be dead soon, anyway."

"A-an assassin? Who hired you?"

The steel claws attached to Chi's arms glinted cruelly in the light, and his gaze was already fixed on the other man's throat.

"Wait! I, I'll pay you! Twice whatever you were offered! Three times! You don't have do this!"

"I've heard that spiel more times than I care to count. Maybe my partner would be swayed. He's a whimsical man. Not me."

Chi shook his head, slowly, as though pitying his mark, but he did not stop his slow advance.

"Buh, but but wait! Let's talk this over! A-arent't you interested in money at all?!" the man cried, hastily rising from his chair as though to flee, but Chi was even faster. In an instant he went from a slow walk to a blinding dash, eating up the distance between them in a flash.

"Hmph. Nothing but a slave to your wealth," Chi muttered, raising one arm in preparation to tear out the man's throat as he passed him by.

"Is that a no, then? I see."

The terrified look in the man's eyes drained away in an instant, and his voice turned cold as ice.

"Pity."

A tremor ran through Chi's body.

Just one more step would have put him within reach of his target, but Chi stopped dead in his tracks as something burst in his shoulder, fierce agony following a moment later.

"Guh..."

The force of the blow sent him reeling backward, and even as he struggled to keep his footing against the pain he saw something strange. There was a small hole in the window behind his target, a fine web of cracks spreading outward around it.

A sniper...?!
 
Before Chi could do more than take a step backward, an ebon shadow fell over him.

"What-"

Before he even saw who it was, the shadow's hand closed around his arm. He tensed, trying to shake it off, but the strength in his unknown assailant's grasp was like that of a mechanical vise.

Wha... what's wrong with my legs?
 
The hand had grabbed his arm, but the strength drained out of his legs instead. He lost his balance as his knees buckled underneath him, and before he knew it he was lying flat on his back on the floor, staring at the ceiling.

Something pressed lightly against his neck.

The sword-shaped letter opener that had been resting on the target's desk had somehow found its way to rest point first against Chi's throat, held precariously in place by the black shadow's shoe resting feather light against the handle.

So delicately was it balanced that the point didn't even dimple Chi's skin.

But Chi knew that if the man above him put even the slightest pressure on the letter opener, the dull point would slide into the soft flesh of his throat as easily as a sharpened blade. He froze, barely daring to breathe.

He was not afraid of dying, but the thing on the other side of the letter opener exuded an overwhelming sense of presence that cowed him.

A moment of silence passed, and then the man he'd come to kill, Senator Manfred Beriam, opened his mouth.

"Don't kill him, Mr. Walken."

"That's 'former', sir," the shadow replied casually. "I told you, I sold the name to someone else a long time ago."

"Then get a new name."

"I've been forsaken by God and betrayed by my country. I don't need a name."

"You need one so I have something to call you."

A light knock against the window interrupted their conversation.

Beriam looked back and saw a man holding an almost comically long rifle. A trenchcoat covered most of his body from view, and a black piece of cloth covered his eyes, decorated with the design of a rifle's reticle. What little of his skin was visible seemed to be heavily scarred.

"Well, sir? Good job, eh?"

"...Mmm. Indeed. Thank you, Mr. Spike."

"Heh, you can keep the thanks. I'll take money instead," the seemingly blind sniper said, a nasty smile stretching the scars on his face.

Beriam paid his hired hand no heed and instead walked up to Chi, looking down at him.

"What do you think? Money can't do everything, but it can certainly do quite a lot. For example, the power that my wealth gives me has allowed me to hire help such as this."

Chi kept his silence and waited for the end, but Beriam was not in the mood to grant him the death he expected.

"You are Hong Chi-Mei. A member of the Lamia, I believe?"

Chi sucked in a surprised breath despite himself as his target spoke his name, his eyes widening.  He'd known that Senator Beriam was no ordinary man--he'd had a hand in the events at the Mist Wall, after all--but he hadn't expected that Beriam would know who he was.

"I don't know whether you came here on Huey Laforet's orders, or to fulfill a contract on my head, and I don't particularly care. I want you to take a message back to your creator," Beriam said, glaring so coldly down at Chi that it almost felt like the very air was freezing.

 "Tell him this: This nation is not a playground for monsters like you."


The former Felix Walken and Spike dragged Chi out of the study, leaving Beriam alone.

"If Laforet wanted me dead," he mused aloud, "Hong wouldn't have come alone. Hmm. Perhaps it was Homer, the head of the New York branch. He's certainly enough of a coward."

Beriam sank into the expensive leather of his chair, looking up at the ceiling.

"Huey Laforet... Victor Talbot..." he murmured, and though he said the words to himself, it was as though he was talking directly to the men themselves. "How much wealth have you gained in exchange for selling your souls to the devil? How much power? None. You have gained nothing. All you have done is forsaken your own deaths."

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.

"Father? May I come in?"

"Of course, honey. But shouldn't you be in bed?"

The door swung open and a young girl hesitantly poked her head inside the study.

"I heard a crashing noise from the study that woke me up. I was worried something had happened to you."

"Haha, it was nothing. I pulled out the wrong book and brought down a few more than I'd intended, is all."

The girl smiled, relieved that her father was unharmed. She didn't even notice Chi's blood staining the black carpet as she ran across the room and into Beriam's arms.

Beriam held her lightly, but his thoughts were elsewhere.

A slave to wealth? A fitting epithet, perhaps.




But I will show you, Huey Laforet.


Though money and authority are base things, the power they hold will not bend to you, a man who has forsaken his humanity.


They are the most basic, the most primordial symbols of power that man has created through civilization.


Yes, I will show you. I will show all of you, you who felt the limits of mankind and sought to throw them away.


I will show you the power of humanity.


That of mortal beings, though we may be small and frail, fated to short lives and final deaths.




Beriam reaffirmed his resolve and drew Mary closer, as though attempting to shield his beloved daughter from the storm that was to come.

Quietly, and yet more quietly...




to be continued in Baccano! 1934


---


(1): Spanish for "boyfriend."

(2): “Pelican” in Spanish around the 18th century. In modern Spanish, the meaning is different.

22 comments:

  1. As usual, good work and thank you for translating this!

    Amusing Midword. And I can't believe how adorable Maria and Tick are.

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    1. Haha, yes. Maria and Tick are the best.

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  2. thanks for completing this amazing story. You truly rock man

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  3. Thanks a lot for the conclusion of this volume !
    It's always good to read more about Ronnie and Beriam.

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    1. I did enjoy Beriam getting that sort of characterization. The anime kind of painted him to be this really stereotypical money-crazy, cold-blooded politician and this glimpse into his motivation was pretty neat. I especially like how he's determined to work with the things he has, and how that contrasts with what Huey said about regular humans being limited by their mortality. I get the feeling that Ronnie might've been talking about Beriam when he chided Huey there.

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    2. Yeah, I particularly liked including his daughter at the very end; it's a strong contrast to Huey's own role as a parent (not something common among the immortals in the first place), and sets up a possible route for Beriam's goals to be carried into the future. Though I have no idea if Mary actually makes it into later novels.

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  4. Thank you so much for the translation. Loved the interraction between Huey and Ronnie.

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    1. I particularly liked the bit where Ronnie deliberately chooses Elmer's name to say, because he knows it's the only one that'd get a rise out of Huey (except maybe Monica, but that's a different matter). Overall I got the feeling out of the conversation like Huey was gamely trying to keep up with Ronnie, but the sheer gap between them made sure that Ronnie more or less dictated the pace, though Huey did get in a few jabs here and there.

      Just like it should be.

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  5. wWell I get a lot more that I expected to see in the finals pages, good job that was really amazing. The relationship between Maria and Thick is very cute, but knowing more of Beriam and Ronnie, that was the best part. We finally see a Beriam more in character different from the anime, and Huey is going to begin to take more action in the next novels.
    Now i just have to ask, are you going to take the 1934 ark? That would be great.
    Sorry for my crappy english.

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    1. I am considering it, yes. If I do it, it will be starting from volume 8, not 9 or 10.

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  6. Kudos my friend...once again, the translations are much appreciated.

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  7. Thank you for the translation!

    Is there any chance you'd do 1932 - Man in the Killer next? I guess if you're planning to go in order it's unlikely, but that book seems awfully interesting and I cannot wait to see Graham and Elmer meet so I'm just throwing it out there as a suggestion.

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  8. So, the 30s arc is about Renee Vs Huey..
    ...and behind all arcs is Fermet?
    Can't wait to have the Street Episode translated..

    great work, Anonspore, thanks

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    1. Well I think i can answer part of that,
      Narita said in one epilogue that Fermet is behind a big part of the story, but not all of it, he is mostly behind of everything involving Huey, because according to him he is just a great toy, but he is not behind the acts of Slizard, Ladd, Claire, and Nebula. Specially since Reneé is a lot more crazy that she shows.
      30s is seems to be the arc of Huey, but in the 2000s Fermet begin to take more action (and how!). While 1700's well Fermet is still the main villain, but it's more a the background for a character in particullar.
      Ps. Fermet may be the villain but I think that Elmer is still the most creppy character in the series.

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  9. Thanks a lot for the PDF.

    Could you also post a PDF for cloudy to rainy, just like you posted a PDF for bloody to fair?

    Thanks once again!

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    1. The pdf for Cloudy to Rainy has been up since I finished it. There are links to it on both the first and last chapters.

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  10. Wow this is truly probably the most complex exciting and amazing thing i have ever red i love how everything just seems to be entangled and how eveything just comes together perfectly also of all the characters i oddly find issac and miria the most hmmmm interesting i guess is the word i cant wait to get a glimpse into their thoughts and past it promises to be quite interesting but lastly i must thank u Spore for the translations the anime wetted my appetite for baccano but the novel itself is what is satisfying me and i would have this meal if not for the one who cooked it and u would has delivered the meal to my not table but computer screen so thank u
    boy this was long winded

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  11. Just out of curiosity is Christopher's romanitcized surname really Shouldered? Just wondering because I've also seen Chateau de red running around the interwebs.

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    1. It is, to transcribe it phonetically, "Sharudorēdo." Nobody knows quite what sort of spelling was intended; your guess is as good as mine, since シャルドレード is not an actual surname. Shouldered is a bit of a stretch, honestly, but for Chareau de Red to work the name would have to be "シャル・ド・レード" and even then "de" is not normally written using the kana "do;" neither is "red" normally written as "rēdo."

      tl;dr Massive shrug, I have no idea. In this case I just went with the most commonly used romanization.

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    2. You have to love Narita's love of making names.

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    3. Noooooope. Trying to look up proper/possible/probable spellings of names like "Renée Palamedes Brinvilliers" and "Firo Prochainezo" (which in the katakana is written as "firo pro-SHEN-zzo," by the by, and would have been a monstrous headache if the anime hadn't given out official spellings) is an exercise in anxiety and frustration! Some of his names are (sometimes unintentionally) great and endearing; others were... created through dubious means, and while they may seem exotic they are borderline indecipherable and I think I will stop ranting about this now, thank you for reading.

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  12. Excuse me. I'm very late to Baccano and i would love to read the light novels but it seems like the images and the PDF links are broken. can you fix them? Thank you.

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