Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Alice in Jails - Streets Episode
Color Pages & Epilogue II
Chapter 1 (1/3)
Chapter 1 (2/3)
Chapter 1 (3/3)
Connecting Chapter & Remaining Chapter
Peter Pan in Chains
Alice in Jails - Streets Episode
Written by Narita Ryohgo
Illustrated by Enami Katsumi
Regarding the Lamia
Adelle Explains Hesitantly to Tim
The... The Lamia?
Umm... Well, all of them are like me... That is, we're a little, umm, different from normal humans... And, umm, most of us don't age past a certain point... Oh, err, not that we all don't, it's different for everyone. Well, yes, since most of us are homunculi...
But no. It's not really about... about that.
If all that was different about us, then we'd probably be a lot like normal human beings. After all, we'd still die if someone stabbed us in the heart... or if someone shot us in the head... or if someone strangled us until we stopped breathing...
But we're still... different.
I think that, most probably, we'll never be able to live... normal lives. We never were, not since the moment we were born in... in... in Master Huey's laboratory...
Well, umm, we were... just objects. Tools. So no matter what they did to our bodies... no matter how much they hurt us... It felt to us like it was all so meaningless, so senseless. At least, if there was some meaning in what we went through, he never told us what it was...
We were... broken. All of us. Some of us were driven insane. Others... Most of us... We chose to break ourselves, instead.
Everyone... Every one of us... We try to twist ourselves into things... things that are different from normal people. Because if we ever acknowledged that we were just like them, that we could have been normal... Then... Then I don't think any of us could bear the situation we're in...
Christopher... Chi... Liza... Sham... Hilton... And, umm, you probably don't know them, but Rail, and Frank, and the Poet, and Sickle... And me. That's all of us. All the Lamia who survived. But we are all of us broken somewhere. Whether we chose to become that way, or whether we were driven to madness...
I don't think any of us remember for sure, anymore.
...But... I still cherish them, though we are all so shattered.
They are the only ones who... who know what this life is like. The only ones who are like me. The only ones who know.
...Maybe, maybe even these bonds we hold so dear... maybe even they are part of Master Huey's plans...
But if so, then I, at least, am thankful for those calculating thoughts.
Because we ourselves don't know, anymore, whether those bonds are real... or fake.
A Certain Man Holds a One-Sided Conversation
Who am I? It doesn't matter. Anyway, you want hear about the incomplete homunculus Huey Laforet made, don't you? Don't you? Don't forget to thank me, too, because I'm about to tell you.
It's Huey's greatest success, granted, but it's also his worst failure. It's an unbelievably unnatural being, but despite that it respects and admires nature.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that it walks around in the nude, like a caveman. Quite the opposite. Maybe it purposely chooses to live a life so far from nature because it sees itself as the product of something unnatural. Interesting. Very interesting. It is crazy to the core, yet it has unshakable pride in its own madness. It moves not according to logic or faith, but its own madness, and of that it is inordinately proud. Maybe it believes that such irrationality gives meaning to unnatural beings. And maybe that is why it can look so objectively at nature and admire it so purely, more so than any human being possibly could. But he's scared. He's scared, and that's why he can't set foot into the nature he loves so much. He's terrified that nature will overpower him, poison him, strip him of all the walls he's built up around himself. He admires humans, but in the end he's too scared to try and be one himself! That's why he longs for friendship, but he can't believe that he'll ever truly experience it, and that terrifies him!
Preposterous! Hilarious! Ridiculous!
He is strong, but so weak, so soft! And therefore so lovable!
Huey! That thrice-damned bastard! How how how how how how in the world did he ever create such a sublime, such an adorable, abnormal being?!
Did he base him on Elmer? On the brothers Zankuro and Denkuro?
Oh, never mind, that's not important, is it? And you're going to pay me for all that information, right? How about we start with your wallet.
Come on, give it here.
Now look what you made me do. You took so long that I ended up stabbing you with this knife. It's all your fault.
Ah, right. You know, if you compared Christopher to the other Lamia, he might actually turn out to be the closest one to human out of the whole lot. But he's still so afraid to draw near to humans that he takes on that inhuman appearance. Hah.
Oh? You're already dead? You should have hung on for just a little bit longer. You're human, aren't you? Try and show some of that greatness Christopher admires!
Ladd Russo, From a Conversation with a White-Clothed Friend
If you had to sum him up in a sentence, I guess you'd say he's funny in the head. There's nothing in that brain of his but the thought of taking things apart.
Most kids his age are always thinking of girls--preferably naked--but Graham's head is filled day and night, twenty-four seven, probably until the day he dies, with the thought of breaking things. Just like how it is with me and killing people.
Speaking of which, he's a bit different from me. He doesn't like killing people. I think he said something about lives having no form to take apart, so he couldn't feel it in his heart. Something about no pleasure, only guilt. What a dumbass, eh?
The kid's so obsessed with taking things apart--it doesn't matter what it is; human or machine, it's all the same to him--that he can't feel the weight of a life. He can't feel that heat.
Not like I can. I can feel the heat and the weight and the dignity of a human life just fine. I acknowledge it. I understand it. That's what makes it so great to ignore it all and stamp it out by killing someone.
Strange, isn't it? A little funny, even. In a way, Graham's moral compass is just as busted as mine, but I'm telling you, he won't kill.
You know, some of the Russos used to make fun of him for that, back in the day. Can you believe it? What kind of idiot believes that courage is defined by being able to kill people or not?
I guess they learned their lesson, though, since Graham took his wrench and dismantled all their joints, one by one. You should've seen the look on his face. It looked like... yeah, I think you could've called that expression on his face "rapture."
Then I overheard those goons whispering something about ambushing him to get their revenge, so I took the liberty of just killing them all. Haha!
Nebula Corporation President Mr. Cal Muybridge Speaks Off the Record
Huh? Renée? Renée who?
Oooh, that Renée. Pretty little thing, works over in Pharmaceuticals, sixth research division? Yup, 'course I know her. Sure I do.
Her full name? Now why d'ya wanna know something like that? Well, if you have to know, it's Renée Palamedes Brinvilliers or summat, and I'll be darned if that ain't a right proper mouthful, and a headache to memorize, I tell you what.
But whoa, that body of hers. She's got the face of an angel, but the devil himself'd stop and take a second look at her body. Yessir, speaking as a red-blooded man, I reckon that body of hers is just fine with me.
...What? Oh, oh, right, right. Didn't come to hear me run my gob about that, didja? Shucks, son, I thought you were askin' to try and maybe start a Miss Nebula contest or something. 'Course, as president I'd just have to be there to judge, know what I'm saying?
Huh? What? You still here?
Plenty curious but not too bright, ain'tcha? What I've been trying to say to you, my friend, is that if that ain't what you're interested in, it's best not to get involved with her, and that's the honest truth. She's busy researching something, I dunno, I think she said it was some elixir of immortality or summat. Now there's one woman who don't feel a lick of shame for what she does. D'you have any idea how much of a headache it is with all them rumors flying around 'bout her kidnapping folks and cuttin' 'em open like pigs? Don't have no evidence so my hands're tied, donchaknow. 'Sides, she's right popular with the menfolk around here so it ain't like I could fire her just like that.
Or have her killed, for that matter.
What? 'Course I know what she's been up to, pretty much. I know all about them thousand an' two-hunnerd folks up in New York.
Well, we're using her, she's using us, you know the drill. All comes down to who's on top when the dust settles, ya follow? Say, wanna bet on it, son? Whether she'll get the better of me and send me an' this whole company straight to Hell, or whether I'll manage to keep her under control and maybe dredge something outta this whole mess?
We've got a betting pool running with all the board members, and do you know what? God's honest truth, it's ninety-nine to one odds against me. Ninety-nine percent of the board thinks I'm gonna lose this, can you believe that? Guess I just ain't the man I used to be, to them.
Still, guess that just means they think she's that good, too.
A homunculus Huey brought up from infancy. Red eyes, sharp teeth. Walks like a vampire.
Grandson of the Russo Family's don, Placido Russo. Worried about his feminine looks.
Member of the Lamia, one of Huey's organizations. Crazy about bombs. Has stitches all over his face. Admires Nice.
Member of the Lamia. Rail's partner. A, well, huge child.
Member of the Lamia. The root of all evil when it comes to Christopher's flowery speech.
Member of the Lamia. A beautiful woman who's deadly with her legs. Strangely emotionless considering she practices Capoeira.
Member of the Lamia. In charge of intelligence and communications. Mysterious.
Member of the Lamia. In charge of intelligence and communications. Like Sham, also mysterious.
Member of the Lamia. An Asian man who always looks unhappy. Uses steel claws. One of Christopher's few friends.
Member of the Lamia... technically. But for some reason she tends to keep to herself. Huey's daughter.
An immortal and Chane's father. Currently imprisoned in Alcatraz, but...
Renée Palamedes Brinvilliers
Nebula Corporation executive. Looks like nothing more than a scatterbrained young woman, and actually is quite scatterbrained, but will happily do terrible things with a smile on her face.
A mechanic and dismantler who admires Ladd. Is also apparently acquainted with Jacuzzi and Chane...
One of Graham's gang. Officially in charge of keeping him in check.
Don of the Russo Family. Currently targeted by both the police and neighboring Mafia organizations alike, but...
A Russo Family capo.
Young capo of the Martillo Family. Worries about his boyish looks, especially considering he's stuck with them forever.
Placido's nephew. Absolutely crazy serial killer. Stayed relatively calm in a way befitting his age for a while, but in the end it turned out that resistance was futile.
Vice Director of the Daily Days Newspaper. A highly capable journalist with a dignified voice. Possesses an eidetic memory, though this fact is never brought up in the story.
Cameragirl working for the DD Newspaper. A young girl who by all appearances should be in grade school. Self-proclaimed courageous coward.
The Vice Director Returns, Triumphant
"Vice Director Saint-Germain! We're here! Wake up, sir! Hurry, hurry!"
"Here" was New York City's Pennsylvania Station.
Penn Station was a gate to the west, a door to the city that many considered the crown jewel of the United States, the easternmost pinnacle of the country. The crowded station was a perpetually busy jungle of trains and people, and the lovely voice that rose above the urban noise sounded almost out of place amidst the hubbub.
"Honestly! I'm going to go on ahead, sir! Imagine what'd happen if you ended up heading back west because you overslept! The Director would laugh and Mr. Nicholas would chuckle and Mr. Henry would snort and Mr. Elean would go and swing back to depressed because he's bipolar like that and Miss Rachel might even start boarding trains without paying again!"
A girl hopped out of the old train, still chirping excitedly like a small bird.
There weren't that many people around, considering the normal state of Penn Station, but that was relatively speaking--streams of passengers still filled the terminal, slipping past one another on their way to their destinations.
The girl, though, ignored the flow of humanity around her and instead twirled in place, looking for her destination. She looked to be in her early teens at most, and the aura of sprightly youth around her was almost infectious in its intensity.
The only thing that looked out of place about her was the camera hanging around her neck, the expensive sort that a newspaper reporter might use. Instead of making her look older, though, the sophisticated piece of equipment just seemed to accentuate how young she was.
It wasn't a toy, of course. The Leica camera was colored in professional blacks and silvers, giving it a dignified sort of air. Its owner gave the lie to that distinguished atmosphere, dancing impatiently in place as she hummed and waited for her companion to come out.
She was starting to get dizzy from her constant spinning by the time the man stepped out.
"Hmm. Haste makes waste, Carol," he said. At first glance the man looked quite young, but then again there were streaks of white running through his hair, making it hard to tell his exact age. He had a monocle affixed to his left eye that did nothing to hide the hawklike sharpness of his gaze, though it shone almost like a mirror rather than a lens to reflect a twisted vision of the station outside.
The rest of his outfit was quite stylish. His tailor made clothing and the expensive looking umbrella made him look like a wealthy tycoon of some sort. That impression was offset by the danger in his sharp eyes, the contrast of menace and dignity making him unforgettable to those who saw him.
"Finally! You're late, sir!" The girl with the camera smiled sunnily, paying no heed to that dangerous air. "We have to get back and write all about our long trip as fast as we can!"
"Good heavens, Carol. Assuming for the moment that every person does indeed only have a set number of heartbeats allotted to them in life, it would do you well to realize that excitement can only shorten the amount of time you have left on this Earth."
"Nobody would realize something as weird as that, sir. What I do realize is that speed is everything for a reporter! We have to get back to the office and start organizing our articles and information!"
The girl danced in place, as though eager to get moving as fast as possible.
"Hmm. Speed is everything, Carol? Unfortunately I can only give such an opinion 2,648 points."
"...Out of how many?"
The Vice Director ignored the girl's glare and instead mused aloud on the topic at hand.
"What's most important to a newspaper reporter is accuracy... is what I would like to say, but in that case, regrettably, I would be speaking a falsehood. Articles can be--and are, all too often--written on nothing but speculation and conjuncture, after all. In fact, sometimes such rumors can boost sales even more than the truth possibly could. What is important is one's instincts, one's luck, and one's fortitude. One could even say that the body and mind are one's capital, the beating of the heart and the alacrity of one's thoughts and even one's career as a newspaper reporter coming together to equal one's own life... But in that case, we cannot arrive at a clear conclusion, and so even this answer is only worth 2,649 points."
"Just one more for all that?! Wait, no. Okay, sir. Have it your way. Let's hurry back to the office so we can start beating some hearts and alacrity-ing some thoughts-"
Carol waved her hands around, looking to end the conversation quickly, but the movement of her arms slowed and then stopped as she caught sight of someone behind the Vice Director, her index finger coming up to point at the new arrival.
"Huh? Wait... who...?"
"What's the matter, Carol? Young girls should not point and stare," the Vice Director said, absently adjusting his monocle.
Carol looked to him quizzically. "Sir, you and I were the only ones sent to cover this story, right?"
"Hmm... Indeed, Carol, you and I were the only ones who took to the road on this long, hard journey. But seeing as how you're seemingly wasting the time you hold so dear to confirm such obvious information, I can surmise that something out of the ordinary has taken place behind me and drawn your gaze. Go on, then, say what you will."
Carol deliberated over her words for a moment, and then asked her question. Not to the Vice Director, but to the person standing behind him.
"Umm, excuse me, but, who are you?"
The Vice Director heard a giggle from just behind him.
"I wonder if I should say, 'Pleased to make your acquaintance?' Or maybe it would be better to say, 'We meet again.'"
The Vice Director glanced over his shoulder and saw a young woman standing there. She seemed to be just a normal traveler, except for the fact that she was standing so close. She smiled brightly and began a speech that seemed almost rehearsed.
"You're the Vice Director of the Daily Days, right? Or would you rather just be seen as a humble reporter, Mr. Gustav Saint-Germain? I have to admit, though, I'm not even sure whether that's your real name or not," she said, showing far too much familiarity in her approach.
Carol shivered, feeling a chill run down her spine for some unknowable reason, and took a step back as though to hide in the Vice Director's shadow. The Vice Director himself, however, seemed to take everything in stride and merely returned the woman's flamboyant inquiry with an equally flamboyant reply.
"All of the stated are equally true, miss, and you may call me by whichever moniker that you deem most appropriate. I am compelled to warn you, however, that depending on your reason for contacting us, our attitude toward you may change most alarmingly."
The Vice Director leisurely straightened his back, smoothed out an imaginary crease in his clothing, and turned in place, sketching a short but polite bow.
The woman's soft smile stayed in place as she moved on to confirm the information she had.
"I've heard that the Daily Days is interested in any and all information."
"Hmm... You have heard correctly. We use information as funds to buy money. To us, information itself is the standard by which society is judged, the one true absolute thing of value. Yet that value rises and falls more quickly than the stocks of Wall Street, the color of it changing like the shades of a rainbow depending on who sees it, and who knows it. Ours is a sad lot, doomed as we are to trade such capricious goods. We stock scandals and reputation, gospel and glory, fame and legend. If you wish, we can even provide rumors and lies, for the right price." The Vice Director paused. "May I presume, then, that you are indeed one of our most esteemed and respected customers?"
The Vice Director gave his speech so courteously that it almost seemed subservient, yet there was not even a hint of groveling in his eyes. In fact it looked almost as though he could see right into the young woman's soul.
And perhaps just like the Vice Director had expected, so did the woman act.
The gentle smile stayed on her face as she moved.
It wasn't much, just a calm, tiny twitch of her arm.
All she did was remove a small, black, shining object from her purse and rest it lightly against the Vice Director's chest.
"Again, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Or maybe, we meet again."
"Wha... Oh God!"
Carol froze, her features going ashen with horror as she saw that the thing in the young woman's hand was in fact a small pistol.
The Vice Director, on the other hand, didn't even twitch at having a deadly weapon pressed so close to his heart, and merely spoke in quiet, measured tones.
"I see. It would be the height of folly, of course, to assume that just because we deal in information and not money, that there would be none who think to take what we have by force. But since you are not in fact a customer, I suppose that we can dispense with the pleasantries and get to the heart of the matter forthwith."
"S-sir! Please, please don't provoke her!"
Carol clutched her camera tighter in her hands, trembling. The Vice Director discretely stepped to one side so that he stood between her and the woman and continued as though nothing had happened.
"Well then, Miss. Tell me, what sort of information are you after, that you are willing to risk an unpleasant encounter with the police for the sake of it? Ah, but before we begin. I don't believe you've introduced yourself," the Vice Director said. He was still polite to the woman holding him at gunpoint, granted, but there was no humor in his gaze.
In contrast, the woman smiled brightly. There was no way that the faraway train station employees could possibly spot the tiny handgun, hidden as it was both by the Vice Director's body and her clothes.
Still, when she replied, her answer was both prompt and remarkably straightforward. "My name is Hilton," she said. "I'm one side of the Twins."
"Hmm. I see. But I would much more appreciate the name of the individual, rather than the name of the whole," the Vice Director said, for once equally straightforward.
Carol could do nothing but hold her camera in her hands, looking back and forth as they spoke, utterly bewildered.
There was a moment of silence, and then the woman who'd called herself Hilton shook her head quietly as the smile slipped from her face.
"...That's what's so frightening about you people."
"Information broker!" She spat the words like a curse. "Like just saying that's your job gives you the right to know anything! Like that gives you the right to look at me like you can see my soul, to walk around like you own the world! Tell me, how much do you people really know about... about us?"
The woman wasn't completely distraught yet, but it wouldn't have surprised Carol to see her pull the trigger at any moment. The gentleman, on the other hand, kept his composure and merely murmured thoughtfully in answer, as though talking to himself.
"How much do we know? A hard question, that one, one that I would be hard pressed to answer clearly. If you were to ask, on the other hand, how much do we want to know, I would be able to say, 'as much as possible.'"
The Vice Director's voice grew introspective as he continued. "But if you must persist and ask for the breadth of my knowledge, I am afraid that I lack the education to give any proper answer save one. So if you ask me, 'How much do you know?' it behooves me to reply in kind and answer, 'As much as I know,' and nothing more."
"Stop playing around."
The woman who'd called herself Hilton frowned, her voice dropping dangerously.
"We've seen your people all over Chicago. You're everywhere. Almost as much as we are!"
"Allow me to correct you, young brigand. We do not have eyes and ears all over the country like you do... but, on the other hand, we were indeed in some places that you were not," the Vice Director said, and Hilton could only grit her teeth and struggle to rein in her emotions in the face of his ambiguous comments.
"You're right," she admitted. "You're right, and that's exactly what I want to know."
It was obvious she hadn't completely recovered her cool; Hilton's voice grew hoarse and husky with anxiety as she talked.
"I don't know why Master Huey had... had his left eye taken. I don't know what happened where I wasn't! And considering that what's been happening to me in Chicago and Alcatraz, it wouldn't be strange for me to suspect that you're working together with them.... would it?"
With some effort Hilton got her breathing under control and adjusted her grip on her small pistol.
But all of her agitation thus far had been purely because of anger; the hand holding the gun didn't tremble in the slightest. The fact that she had someone at gunpoint was of no concern to her at all. The keen light in her eyes made it obvious that she was no stranger to taking lives, and even Carol could tell that Hilton would not hesitate to pull the trigger if need be.
They were in dire straits. Even if the Vice Director did indeed tell Hilton everything, it was still anyone's guess whether she'd let them go unharmed. Such thoughts flew through the young cameragirl's mind at lightning speed, but the Vice Director only released a slow breath and shook his head slowly, almost as though he was exasperated.
"Are you prepared to accept the consequences of your actions, young lady?"
"...What're you talking about?"
"An information broker who breaks in the face of intimidation will inevitably lie. Anyone who would open their mouths for the sake of their lives would not hesitate, after all, to make up any falsehood if they thought it would placate the one holding them hostage."
Hilton's face twisted in a frown, but she didn't lower her gun. Her finger didn't stray from the trigger.
And yet the Vice Director, too, did not retreat.
"We at the Daily Days would never twist the truth, nor would we ever surrender to threats. But if you are indeed a thief... then I will tell you everything I know, without resistance."
"S-sir! If you were going to tell her anyway, I-I think you could've done without the first part! Oooh, please try not to make her angry!"
Gustav Saint-Germain ignored his small assistant's cries and fixed Hilton with his sharp gaze, the eye behind his monocle flashing.
"If we stay here, the train station workers will come to investigate. I suggest we take this elsewhere."
"...That's what I was planning, anyway. Hmph. Well... it doesn't look like you're going to try and run away, and if you're planning on leading me into some trap... You know my secret, don't you? So you know how useless that would be."
"Of course. I suggest you get your thoughts in order as we go. And also that you prepare yourself."
The Vice Director continued as though she hadn't spoken.
"For when I say I will tell you everything, I mean I will tell you everything. Including that information which you do not wish to hear, information you will wish you could forget," he said, and Hilton flinched as though the words had had physical force to them. It felt to her almost like he could see everything, even the things that would happen to her in the future.
"Remember this. No matter what happens as a result of this information... We are not so strapped for business that we would offer insurance or warranties to criminals," the Vice Director said, calmly and yet gravely.
"Now, then. Allow me to briefly summarize while we walk, to help you get your thoughts in order. Even though you think you may know everything there is to be known regarding these events, perhaps it will benefit you to you to hear me review what the chess pieces known as the Lamia did, and did not do, in the city of Chicago.
"The whole truth. No secrets."
Epilogue II End