So, every time I say "hopefully this next chapter will come faster," it doesn't. Exercising some genre savvy, I will make no promises. On the plus side, though, the chapters are much shorter this time around, so there's that.
I'm aware that this particular volume has already been translated by someone else, but for reasons I'm hoping will become readily apparent upon reading, I'm just going to continue going in order right from the end of The Slash.
Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Color Pages & Epilogue I
Chapter 1 Front
Chapter 1 Back
Chapter 2 Front
Chapter 2 Back
Chapter 3 Front
Chapter 3 Back
Chapter 4 Front
Chapter 4 Back
Chapter 5 Front & Back, Connecting Chapter, Remaining Chapter
Alice in Jails - Streets Episode
Peter Pan in Chains
Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Written by Narita Ryohgo
Illustrated by Enami Katsumi
Regarding Firo Prochainezo
The Gandor Brothers Make a Frank Assessment
"Firo? Firo Prochainezo? What's he like? A strange question to ask out of the blue, isn't it. He's a childhood friend. We grew up together in the same run-down apartment. That's about all there is to it."
"Mmm. Can't say he's that smart."
"I wonder what Firo would have to say about that, coming from you of all people, Berga. I think it'd be better to say he's simply brash, not stupid."
"Yeah, yeah, guess you're right. What else? Oh, right. Come to think of it, he's been shacked up with that girl for four years now, ain't he? What was her name again? Alice?"
"Ennis, Berga. And yes, it's quite obvious that he's fallen head over heels for her. But seeing as how they have yet to even hold hands, I sometimes find myself wondering if he's even human. Granted, I wonder that about Claire as well, but in a different way."
"Hah! Betcha it'll be another fifty years 'till they marry. Bahahaha!"
"But let me make this clear. Though at times, he comes across as embarrassingly naive, I must make it clear that he's no fool."
"I'd say he's like a kid. A kid with a temper."
"He doesn't quite know how to deal with people. He's naive in that sense. But that very naivety means that Firo is loyal to those he holds dear, that he can cry for his friends, be sad for them, laugh with them, that he can become cold for the sake of his Family, and that he would give his life for them. He's something of a logical contradiction; someone who is perfectly suited to being a camorrista, and incredibly unsuited to being a criminal."
"Just say that he's a dreamer."
"Oh, Keith. Say something too, will you?"
"What the hell, Keith. You were here all along? Bahahaha!"
"That's what we just sai-"
"...He's so naive he can't even lie to himself. With him, what you see is what you get. It's pointless for us to try and explain him."
"You broke your silence just to refute everything we just said?"
"Keith, are you mad that we went on talking without asking for your... err... I mean, sorry! C'mon, don't be like that! Don't glare at us like that aww crap Keith you're bein' scary again-"
(An awkward silence falls over the brothers)
Regarding Ladd Russo
Graham Specter Waxes Lyrical
...Lemme tell you a sad, sad story.
Ain't a sadder one in the world, no joke.
It was a starless night, black as ink, the night I met Boss Ladd. Wait, hold up. No stars? At night? Now that's sad. This yarn's already too sad for me to bear. I mean, think about it! No stars! No stars at all! Can you think of a sadder thing in all this wide world than a night with no stars? We're done for. We're finished. Kaput. I'm so sad I can't even speak anymore. That's how sad it was, the night I met Boss Ladd. No, I can't go on. I don't have the will to keep on living anymore. Kill me! Give me stars, or give me death! How could there be no stars on a night when I met someone as awesome, as incredible, as astounding, as ab! so! lute! ly! out of this world as Boss Laaaaaaaa.... La? Laaa... Yes! Yes, that's right!
Yeah, that's it! Ladd Russo's an awesome incredible astounding absolutely out of this world guy! Make no mistake! I dare you to come up with a happier story'n this one!
That's right. Back then I was nothing but a common mechanic, just a run-of-the-mill Joe Schmoe who made a living taking things apart. But that's when it happened! It was a night without a single star in sight, a thrilling, dangerous, spectacular starless night! There I was, down on my luck, surrounded on all sides, taking the beating of a lifetime from a buncha has-been boxers turned gangsters!
But then, bam! Outta nowhere appears Boss Ladd, and you know what he says? I'll tell you what he says. He says, "It's pretty sad, a night with no stars. Kill me."
Then the thugs turn and look at each other like they don't know what's going on and before you know it bam, again! There's a crack and a tinkle, and the boss's fist dismantles the goons' teeth. And then y'know what he says next?
"...They say it's self-defense if someone kills you while you're trying to kill them."
And then y'know what he says?
"In other words, when I tell you to kill me, then sure, you've got the right to kill me. But at the same time, it means I've got the right to kill you, too. Makes sense, doesn't it?"
Does it ever! Philosophy 101, taught by none other than Professor Russo himself! Ain't he the best happiest awesomest most dangerous idiotic dumbass ever? Ain't he the greatest?
I was so happy that I took my wrench and took apart the rest of those goons' joints while they were still trying to make sense of what Boss Ladd'd said, those maroons. Then I made friends with Boss Ladd.
I'm just an average Joe, an idiot whose only claim to fame is being good with his hands, but Boss Ladd! He's a genius! A clumsy genius! You know why he's so awkward when he's so smart? It's because he took all his talent and poured it into places that have nothing to do with living a normal life!
And that's exactly why Ladd is the best.
He's broken to pieces--he's been like that right from the start--but even then he shines so brightly! Don't you agree?
Regarding Huey Laforet
Elmer C. Albatross Explains With a Smile
Mmm. Yes, that's right. I think I was about fifteen, the first time I met Huey.
He had a look in his eyes that told you he hated the whole world, and the way he looked at you made you feel like there was a wall between you and him, like one those one-way mirrors that don't let you see what's behind them.
At first, he gave me the cold shoulder, but we talked, and I joked, and eventually he started to smile for me.
That's why Huey is a good man. Everyone else avoided him, and the only people he ever really talked to were me and our alchemy teachers, but still. I just know that Huey Laforet is a good man. Even today, I count him as my best friend.
Normally he fixed a mask on his face that just looked like a smile, but... from time to time, he'd let a real one slip.
That's the only time he ever lets his true self show, you know.
"I want to destroy this whole world. You, and me, and our professors. Everything and everyone, without exception."
That's the first time I ever heard him speak what was really on his mind. He went through a lot of misfortune before we met, so I suppose it's understandable. Mind, I can't explain too much. Not my place to spill his secrets, what.
Anyway, I told him, "That'd be bad.
"Because if that wish came true, I wouldn't be around to see your face, your satisfied smile as you said, 'My wish came true'. I'd never be able to see your happy ending."
That's what I want to see most. His happy end.
Well. I suppose it's a bit rude to say I want to see his end, happy or otherwise, but the truth's the truth, eh?
But then we met Maiza and his lot, and we had a bit of an adventure together, and I think that's around when he said to me, "Yes, I still want to destroy this world."
But do you know what? It was a fake smile he showed me then! I say, I can't tell you what a relief that was.
I think he's still got that nasty habit of experimenting on people and treating them like animals, though. I suppose that's just his way of living.
He has trouble getting along with others, you see.
But I'd still like to see him happy. No, that's exactly why I'd like to see him happy.
Surely, you know, there's a way that even the most naive person can find happiness with other people.
Regarding Victor Talbot
In the 21st Century, Nile Rants
I say this.
I have nothing to say about him, save the most vehement complaints.
He was always one who had to see rules carried out to the letter, even back then. So strict that he placed the rules and regulations before his own feelings.
But I say this.
That does not mean that he clung to the rules as his only truth, or that he was a dictator who enjoyed trapping people in a web of laws.
I say that he most probably thought that law was the only way that things would be fair, the only way everyone would be happy.
Victor was a smart fool. He knew that there was no way everyone in the world could be happy. He decided that to bring their individual thoughts and values into line, in order to minimize the effect of the difference in mentalities, that a certain amount of control would have to be given over to the law.
That much, I say, is all well and good. A common school of thought.
But he placed himself in the villain's role, the great figurehead of evil, bearing alone all the scorn that detractors of those laws heaped upon them. He is a volatile one, too, hard to like at first glance, and so I say that he fit his chosen role well.
I say this. Victor Talbot was clumsy, and foolish. But I also say this. Among all the alchemists I knew, he was one of the most human.
Almost as much as Zankuro.
As for the rest... Elmer, Huey, Lavreau, Maiza, Szilard... each and every single one of them was broken, somehow. Victor is a fool, but in a way he worries most for the sake of others.
A more preposterous villain, there could not be.
He tried to bind our group of alchemists together with law in the past, and now he is doing the same with the United States of America.
I suppose that is how much he cares, both for the country and her people.
Truly. A naive fool.
Young capo of the Martillo Family. Worried about his youthful looks.
Nephew of Placido Russo, don of the Russo Family. A crazy serial killer.
Immortal, and Chane's father. Currently incarcerated, but...
Renée Palamedes Brinvilliers
A Nebula executive. *****'s ******, an ********, and a truly *** *********.
A legendary hitman, based in New York. But...?
Same as ever.
Same as ever...?
Detective Edward Noah
Representative of the Department of Justice. Dislikes Firo. A model agent.
Immortal. Edward's boss. Potty mouth.
A homunculus made from the flesh of an immortal. Immortal herself, but otherwise indistinguishable from an ordinary human.
Capo of the Martillo Family. A gentle immortal who looks like a young man, always smiling.
An immortal boy. Sly and conniving despite his looks, but easily gets caught up in the mood.
Capo of the Martillo Family. Has a gangster's stare. Demon.
A man working at Alcatraz Prison. Technically not an employee there, but instead affiliated with the Division of Investigation.
Leader of a gang of young misfits. Crybaby. Almost twenty, and finally starting to worry about his future.
Jacuzzi's girlfriend. A lover of bombs large and small. Wears glasses over an eye patch. Currently engrossed in the study of Japanese fireworks.
Huey's daughter. Deadly with a knife. Rendered mute at an early age, so she mostly communicates through writing.
Claire Stanfield. Something of a wandering hitman. Strong. Really strong. Enough said.
Visit to the Information Broker
Where should I start.
You see, it's a bit unclear where exactly the information I'm about to disclose with you begins, and ends. Technically speaking, this whole mess has been going on since before I was born, and it might still be going on as we speak.
What's that? You don't want me to taint the information with my opinions?
Just the facts? Hah! Are you serious?
Look, pal. I ain't doing this 'cause I need the money.
I just... mmm. Yes. I want to complete the information regarding this. That is all.
And gathering everything there is to know about these goings-on is outside even my admittedly prodigious ability.
See, what I think is, you've gotta gather up every scrap of info there is to know about something, every little bit scattered all over the goddamn place, and only when you put them pieces together do you get a decent idea of what's going on.
Yeah. This information is a single piece of truth, made up of a million opinions.
It is up to you to cull what is unneeded and construct an objective image, is it not? I would even go so far as to say that it is your job, as collectors and traders of information.
Yes, of course. I'll make it clear, right here and now.
What I'm sharing is entirely subjective info, gathered by me, gathered for me. Stuff that's known only to me, myself, and I!
What? Don't get so excited?
Man... You just don't get it, do you?
Ain't the fact that I'm so excited just another piece of information?
Learn to read people, geez. The way people tell you stuff tells you just as much as the words themselves.
I mean, for example. How could you imagine the scene I'm about to share with you without this excitement I'm showing to go along with it?
Eyewitness reports're always gonna be packed with emotion. It's your job to sort that shit out, not mine. Then we'll see what you've come up with and make new conclusions of our own.
...Yeah, that's it. The past is all about emotions.
And that's exactly the sorta thing that you people feed on, ain't it?
You take other people's blood and sweat and tears and wisdom and courage and shame and dreams and strength and emotions and pasts and hopes and then you jumble 'em all up together and swallow it all up and then throw it back up, warped and changed, for all the world to see.
...Aww, don't look at me like that. I meant that as a complement, honest.
Man, you're just impossible.
Go on, get out. Scram. Bring the vice-director. Bring Gustav Saint-Germain.
Him and his boss're two of a kind. They're the only ones who laughed when I told 'em what I just told you, and told me, "Please, enough with the flattery. You're embarrassing me."
Mr. Saint-Germain's easy to talk with. The director is, too, but he's never gonna make it out from behind that pile of papers, is he?
...I'm telling you, don't look at me like that. Yeesh. You really can't take a joke, can you?
Of course I know he's not here. Mr. Saint-Germain's in Chicago right now, isn't he? He stayed the night at the Gunslack Hotel in Chicago along with that little pipsqueak of a camera girl, and for breakfast today he had ham and eggs.
...What? How do I know that?
'Cause I was there, of course.
I was the waiter who poured a mug of our hotel's special bitter black coffee for the girl as she tried to thank me through a mouthful of scrambled eggs. You shoulda seen the way her eyes snapped wide open when she took the first sip, but she still managed to finish it all. Cheeky little thing.
...Look, I know it doesn't make sense. What do I look like, a dumbass? Of course it's impossible to make it here from Chicago in just a few hours.
You really don't know a thing about me, do you?
Well, damn. What should I say to introduce myself?
I've got a few hundred names too many to give you one and have it stick, you see.
Ah, no. Don't get me wrong. They're not pseudonyms. I've got that many real names.
And real bodies to go along with 'em.
But only one mind driving them all. Just one.
...Actually. I wonder about that sometimes. Is consciousness a thing you can count?
It's a funny thing, really. I can think so clearly, I know I've got a mind, but when you try and sit down and count it, well, damn, you know? How do you count minds? Do you say that you've got zero minds left when you die, or before you were born? What about when you fall into a dreamless sleep? When you're just sitting there staring at nothing?
Well, no use philosophizing over it, is there? It's just something we have to accept.
How would we even go about proving that your consciousness and mine are alike in the first place?
...Oh. Right. Of course. I'd completely forgotten.
My name. Yeah, yeah, sorry 'bout that.
And don't let the way I keep changing the way I talk get to you.
My mind still isn't sure, you see. About how to treat you, that is.
I come from as many different walks of life as I have names and bodies.
But I still have a common name. One I share across all my bodies.
We might be seeing a lot more of each other in the future, so I'll let you in on the secret.
The name's Sham.
Ah, don't worry about remembering it. Think of it as a formality. A perfunctory introduction, if you will.
That's about all I feel like telling you in advance. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Now, then. Back to the matter at hand.
Where should I begin?
I was there for some parts of this, and absent for others.
And I must make one thing clear.
This event I'm about to describe to you is already over.
If you think of it as merely one part of a much longer, much larger story, then no, nothing is over yet... But for this particular arc, yes. It's over.
It was a single event that took place simultaneously in New York, and in Chicago, and on a small island just off the coast of San Francisco.
Again, I feel I must remind you.
I was there for some parts of this, and absent for others.
What I want in exchange for the information I am about to share with you is an account of what happened in the parts I did not see.
...Well. That can wait, can it not? Let's see. Where should I begin. From the beginning, I suppose. As good a place as any.
But which beginning, is the question...
Ah. Yes. That does mean that there are multiple beginnings to this story. Quite a few prologues, if you will.
I don't know which one is the right one to start with, but I think I'll start with the simplest one.
The story of a camorrista, locked in an interrogation room.
Not a member of a mafia, our young man.
But mafioso or camorrista, I suppose the FBI didn't care either way, once they had their hands on him. His name? His name was...
Epilogue I End