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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Baccano! 1934 Alice in Jails - Prison Episode - Chapter 4 Front

Well, that was faster than the last chapter, eh. Enjoy.

Alice in Jails - Prison Episode
Color Pages & Epilogue I
Prologue I
Prologue II
Prologue III
Prologue IV
Chapter 1 Front
Chapter 1 Back
Chapter 2 Front
Chapter 2 Back
Interlude I
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



Alcatraz Island

"Hey. Hey, neighbor. Psst! Over here. You awake?"

Ladd Russo had bought himself a ticket to solitary, but that didn't mean that time stopped for the rest of the prisoners. Eventually night fell, and the prisoners were locked in their cells to wait for lights out once more.

The sound of someone's voice prompted Firo to open his eyes.

It wasn't as though he had anything better to do, so he'd switched off the light inside his cell himself before the guards turned it off from outside. He'd actually been dozing fitfully when an excited voice had called him from the next cell over.


"That's what they call me. But hey, never mind that. I wanna talk about that guy! You know! The one from this morning!"

"Huh? Oh, uh. You mean Ladd?"

"Of course I mean Ladd! Damn, man, that had to be the strongest punch I've ever seen!"

"Aahh..." Firo yawned, not sharing his neighbor's enthusiasm. "Betcha Jack Dempsey'd hit harder."

He couldn't say he was altogether interested in the conversation at hand, though it did serve to remind him that the events of that morning hadn't been caused by a dream. He wished halfheartedly that his entire sentencing to Alcatraz had been a dream, actually, but unfortunately reality was a harsh mistress.

"But yeah," he mused, rubbing at his eyes and sitting up. "He surprised me, too. Not his punches. I just didn't think he'd be so crazy."

Dragon seemed to pay his blasé comments no mind, still chattering excitedly from the other side of the wall.

"He was amazing! Hey, did you see how his left hand was a prosthetic? How do you suppose he lost it? You think maybe he lost it to a man-eating bear before he put it down for good? Or maybe a crocodile over in Neverland ate it... Hahaha. Must've tasted good, I bet you that. I'm a little jealous, actually."

Firo frowned, imagining Dragon licking his lips with relish, but said, "So who's the Peter Pan who cut it off then?"

Even as he said it he knew that it was a lame joke, and Firo grit his teeth irritably. Perhaps in an attempt to deflect attention from his sense of humor, he tossed a question over the wall.

"Gotta say, I didn't think you'd know what Peter Pan is."

The English novel Peter and Wendy had been a great hit in its home country, and once it crossed the ocean to the United States it proved to be a similar success there as well. Firo had read Claire's old copy when he was a kid, but he didn't think Dragon would have had a similar opportunity.

An eternal child, huh... Yeah, come to think of it, Claire said that Peter was his role model.

Firo himself, on the other hand, had wanted only to grow up as soon as he could and gain some respect. He smirked slightly as he thought back on his past.

Never thought I'd be the one being an eternal... well, young man, I guess.

Maybe next time he saw Czes he'd tease him and call him Peter Pan. His thoughts drifted in that vein for a moment before he started, realizing that Dragon hadn't replied for a while.

"Hey, something wrong?"

"Oh. Uhh... Well, you know." Dragon sounded uncharacteristically unsure, though Firo couldn't see his face to be sure. "I used it to practice reading and writing English, yeah?"

"Huh. Hey, speaking of which, you're actually really good at English, you know that."

"I guess. It's not like I grew up with other Japanese people or anything."

Huh, interesting... Strange, though. It sure looked like he was talking to those Asians he always eats with just fine.

Firo frowned, opening his mouth to question Dragon's denial...

But crisp footfalls suddenly echoed down the hall of Broadway. The sound of it coming through the iron bars lingered in the prisoners’ ears like the scythe of Death itself.

Firo shut his mouth and laid back, throwing his blanket up over his head, quietly waiting for the footsteps to pass him by.

But instead of continuing on, they came to a stop in front of his cell.

"Hey, you. Did you try to hide something from me just now?"


He wasn't hearing things. The guard was speaking to him.

Still, it wasn't like he had a clue what the guard was talking about. He kept quiet under the covers, waiting to see what would happen next.

There was a moment of silence, and then Firo heard the sound of his cell door sliding open.

The soft scraping of metal finally prompted Firo to poke his head out from under the covers. He looked up to see a young guard stepping into his cell, and before he could even utter a word of protest the other man strode up to him and ripped away his blanket.

"What the hell? What's going on?"

Firo bolted upright, surprised, but the guard cut him off coldly.

"What’s going on? I don't know. You’re the one who should be telling me."

There was a knife on the guard's upturned palm. It was a small shining thing about the size of Firo's palm, and from the silver sheen of it Firo could tell that it was probably brand new.


Firo, of course, had never seen the knife before. Before he could explain, though, the guard smirked nastily and seized his arm.

"Think you’re so clever, huh."

Firo stumbled after the guard as he was dragged outside, still half asleep and groggy. He shook his head, half-expecting to wake up and find out it was all a dream, but the click of cuffs closing around his wrists dispelled that notion soon enough.

It wasn't yet time for lights out, and he looked around and saw that everyone in the nearby cells come to their doors, staring at him. Dragon in particular grinned back at Firo from his cell, and only then did Firo truly realize his plight.

He sighed, accepting what he was in for, and as though to drive it home the guard shook the "confiscated" knife threateningly at him.

"I don't know how you managed to smuggle this thing in," he said.

"...But don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to explain during your stay in solitary."


"So you're working for Misery, huh."

Several guards had surrounded Firo as he was led down the stairs and past a heavily guarded door, but they left as he passed through into a long hallway, leaving only the guard who'd first "found" the knife in Firo's cell.

Firo waited until he heard the door close behind him and began with a leading question.

The guard didn't flinch or even turn around as he led the way down the hall.

"Glad to see you're sharp on the uptake."

"Have to say, I didn't think he'd call me up just two days after I got here."

"There's been a bit of an emergency."

Firo frowned at the guard's flat explanation. "An emergency?"

"Prisoners don't need to know about the outside world."

Then why the hell did you even mention it, asshole?

Firo opened his mouth to give the complaint voice, then closed it with a scowl as he decided to just ignore the guard's obvious baiting.

"So what's this all got to do with me?"

"You realize Huey Laforet knows about you already, right? There's no use pussyfooting around the matter anymore. We've decided to let you just talk to him personally. You can ask him whatever you want, and in turn he'll probably ask you some things as well."

"...Sounds kinda reckless to me. You're sure these're Misery's orders? He didn't come off to me like someone to be that impulsive," Firo commented offhand, but frowned a moment later as the guard's shoulders shook with silent laughter.

"Of course they're not."

Just four words, but they stopped Firo dead in his tracks.


"I am working for Misery, and I did receive orders to take you down to solitary tonight and see what you would do."


A chill ran down Firo's spine.

He felt the contents of his stomach churning uneasily, a definite feeling of foreboding overtaking and surrounding him. Unwillingly he cast his thoughts back to his time on the boat that had brought him to the island, and despite himself he opened his mouth. He had to see if his hunch was right.

"So... you're working for Misery, and also working for Huey," Firo sighed, half resigned already, and the guard grinned and nodded.

"Glad to see you're sharp on the uptake."


The guard led Firo into the depths of the underground prison.

Past a secret door, down flights of stairs walled with bricks and mortar, deeper and deeper, farther and farther...

There was a room.

As he descended the stairs, Firo had felt like he was being transported into the island's past, going back in time as he walked down, but as he finally reached the bottom he found that feeling shattered into a million pieces.

Three massive doors made of reinforced concrete and steel blocked his way, opening one after another as the guard led him through. There was about a yard of space between each door, and all three had sturdy looking locks holding them closed.

The guard unlocked the last door and revealed a long hallway, at the end of which waited yet another sturdily constructed door.

Unlike the three Firo had just passed through, however, this one had a window, and a small slot at the bottom that looked like it was used for passing food trays in and out.

...So that's why it's got so many doors blocking the way, huh.

He didn't think anyone could possibly grind themselves into something that could pass through that small slot, but perhaps, if an immortal were to put their very life on the line, then escape might be possible. Maybe there were even similar gates blocking the air vents, to prevent that sort of thing from happening.

It occurred to him that they could've just cut off the air entirely and left Huey eternally suffocating, but he soon realized that that would be no different from just dropping Huey into a river somewhere, perhaps in a barrel filled with concrete. Firo thought to himself that Victor was an unexpectedly humane individual, compared to the company he himself kept.

Heh. Still, all that security doesn't mean a thing when there are traitors among the guys posted here.

Firo smirked, and as though his thoughts had been broadcast for all to hear, the guard turned and smiled at him.

"The guard who talked to you on the boat was transferred to the mainland. He didn't answer any questions, of course, and it wasn't like they could torture him for information. I hear they have him under surveillance right now. Quite strict."

"I see... So what you're saying is, if I squealed on you, then you'd be out of a job too, eh?"

If the guard felt threatened, he didn't show it at all.

"Of course. But someone else would take my place soon enough."

"...You know, if you just told me how you'd do that, I could be on the streets a free man by this time tomorrow."

"Well then. Perhaps Master Huey will deign to tell you if you ask nicely," the guard said, chuckling lightly as he led Firo down the hallway.

"Even with the help of turncoats like me, escaping this island is far from easy. You saw the security standing at the entrance to this place, right?"

"...Yeah. Yeah, I did."

Even if Huey somehow made it past the three reinforced doors, there were probably only a few paths leading to the surface and freedom. He'd heard that the warden was a smart and resourceful man, so unless Huey somehow managed to get over half the guards on his side, he would be hard pressed to escape.

"Still. It seems he's planning on leaving soon."

"...Leaving? You mean he's gonna escape?"

"For Master Huey, nothing is impossible."

Whoa, whoa. Hold on a second.

Firo had only been a prisoner at Alcatraz for two days, but even that short amount of time had been more than enough to impress upon him the extremes the staff went to when it came to security. Even if Huey did somehow get past security, and even if he was immortal, would he be able to swim across the sea, through rough currents and past the hungry sharks that patrolled the bay? No, escape would surely be nearly impossible.

But that wasn't the reason for Firo's alarm.

After all, it didn't matter how he did it. If Huey Laforet really did manage to escape...

...Then what happens to me?

He'd entered Alcatraz to find out the mystery behind Huey's information network, but if Huey up and vanished from the island before Firo managed to find out...

They wouldn't lock me up in this place instead of him, would they?!

The thought flitted through his mind and he felt his stomach lurch uneasily.

He was so wrapped up in that unwelcome thought that he didn't even notice that they'd reached the end of the hall, the guard raising his keys.

The man unlocked the complicated series of locks on the door and took one step back, gesturing toward Firo and urging him to enter.

"...I don't suppose someone's right hand might come shooting out right as I open this door to land on my head, would it?" Firo asked, raising an eyebrow.

"If that had been Master Huey's intent, I would have waited until you were all chained up and slipped some drugs into your next meal," the guard shot back at him, and Firo could only glare at him and carefully ease the door open himself.

Once the door was open just a crack he peeked inside. He saw someone sitting on a chair a distance away from the door and relaxed, swinging it open fully.

But then...

"Why, Firo! What brings you here? Did you get an invitation too?"

"What the..."


Firo took a step back despite himself as he realized the person sitting on the chair was none other than Isaac Dian.

A mere moment later, a hand flashed out from the shadows and passed through the air where he'd been just been standing.

He gasped, then forced his breathing to even out and tensed his body, ready for action. Everyone was an enemy. He couldn't let his guard down for a second.

But his cold assessment of the situation paused for a second, and then he relaxed minutely, the air of hostility radiating from him receding just a little.

He'd realized that the hand from the shadows was someone's left hand.

There was a pause, and then a right hand joined the left, and they began to clap.

"Excellent speed, I must say. Your reflexes and situational awareness are also commendable.  Hmm... Perhaps even on par with the likes of Nile and Denkuro."

The first half had been lavish praise.

The second half, however, had been absent appraisal, like the unseen man was talking to himself. He walked out from the shadows a moment later, still musing to himself.

Unlike the dark blue clothes that Firo and Isaac had been given, the man was wearing a strange, ivory white prisoner's uniform.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Firo Prochainezo. I believe this is the first time we've met... Or, perhaps, if we were to count the memories in your head, this would be a reunion many, many years overdue," the man said, his calm tone markedly strange considering he was a prisoner as well. He offered Firo a smile that revealed absolutely nothing of what he was thinking.

Firo kept up his guard as he matched the man's face to one held in the memories of the many alchemists inside him.

"Hope you don't mind if I don't share your enthusiasm... Huey Laforet."


"Hmm... You look like you're quite curious about something."

Just thirty seconds had passed since Firo's first meeting with Huey.

Huey had walked back into his room and invited Firo inside, and the young camorrista had cautiously entered, looking around. Once inside, though, he found that aside from the size of the room, there was little to distinguish it from his own cell.

Huey remained standing against the far wall, and Firo took up a spot opposite to him with Isaac in the middle. He didn't bother to hide his anxiety, glaring at the older immortal.

"You look like the kinda guy who thinks he knows everything, who likes playing God. So yeah, I'm curious about why you'd want to talk to someone like me. I'm curious about what you think I'm gonna ask you."

"Ah, I see. I think that you would first ask why exactly Mr. Dian is here together with us," Huey replied amicably, offering Firo another enigmatic smile.

Firo's senses told him that Huey meant him no harm. They told him that Huey was no liar.

And yet, Firo couldn't bring himself to like the man standing on the far side of the room. As for why he didn't like him, however? He couldn't say for certain. There was the sudden attack that had marked their first interaction, of course, but that wasn't it. It was his instincts, the experience of all the years he'd spent as part of the underbelly of society, that rejected the man before his eyes.

A strange, tense silence stretched between him and Huey.

The guard who'd led Firo to the cell was still standing outside, so only Isaac bore witness to the strained atmosphere. Predictably, he didn't seem to notice it at all, only perking up at the mention of his name.

"What? What's that? Was it something I did?"

"No. Yeah. Wait, well... Ahh, never mind. What're you doing here, Isaac?" Perhaps wishing to gather his wits instead of dueling verbally with Huey, Firo deliberately turned to Isaac and asked him directly.

"Oh, me? A guard called me a while earlier, so I was talking with this monster man when you came in."


Firo couldn't deny that Huey wasn't exactly human, but still. He didn't exactly look the part.

Isaac smiled knowingly at Firo's puzzled expression and puffed out his chest, launching into a fundamentally flawed explanation.

"Listen closely, Firo. In the Orient, they call men who live in secret rooms like this 'the shikiwarashis.' If you chase them out, bad luck falls upon you, and then when you meet them in the street you have to put your shoes on your head and prostrate yourself on the ground before them! That'll turn all the bad luck into good fortune, so be sure to practice your bowing!"(1)

"...Right. You know, it's actually a nice change of pace not to have Miria egging you on, but for some reason it just makes me wanna beat you up even more."

Perhaps sensing Firo's frustration, Huey stepped forward to defuse the situation.

"Mr. Dian. Thank you for your time today. I very much enjoyed all the stories you had to tell me, but now I am afraid we must part ways once more. I have to discuss very sensitive secrets with Mr. Prochainezo, you see. I hope you understand."

For just a moment, a regretful look crossed Isaac's face, but it was there and gone in an instant, the smile soon returning to his face.

"Oh ho! Secrets, eh! I understand. Alright then, I'll be leaving. But before I go, could you do a favor for me and make the people here happy? I noticed that they all look sad for some reason. I bet they all have tragic pasts!"

"Oh, yes. Their happiness is indeed important, is it not. And remember, Mr. Dian, everything we talked about must remain a secret. It would not do for our good fortune to run away, you know."

"Of course! Your secrets are safe with me! I might not look like it, but I've got a knack for keeping secrets!"

If that was true then you wouldn't be here in the first place, Isaac.

Firo kept the thought to himself; voicing it would have no effect on the former thief.

Blissfully unaware of Firo's musings, Isaac jumped to his feet and followed the guard outside. Huey watched him go, a gentle smile fixed on his face. More than likely, Isaac would spend the night in solitary and then be ushered back to his cell the next morning, joining the rest of the prisoners once again as though nothing had ever happened.

Firo kept his own gaze fixed on Huey as he heard the sound of the door shutting behind him.

He couldn't be sure, but the smile Huey presented to him seemed a tad colder than the one he'd shown to Isaac. The older immortal gestured to the now empty chair.

"Please, sit."

"You sit."

"Very well."

Firo paused, nonplussed, as Huey simply nodded and did just that. The feeling of unease that had pestered him since he entered the room only got stronger.

He exhaled deeply, trying to push down his irritation, but his efforts were for naught as Huey chose that moment to start talking.

"My apologies for earlier. Sometimes the urge to play childish pranks overtakes me. I do hope you understand."

"Huh? Oh, that."

Apparently to Huey, pretending to make an attempt on Firo's life counted as a "childish prank." Firo frowned and set his jaw, assuming a façade of cool composure.

"...It's nothing. Victor did the same thing when we first met."

"Ah, yes, that does seem like something he would do. Strange, though. You seem a trifle irritated considering that it was 'nothing.'"

"...I thought you called me because you wanted to talk. If you're just gonna be an asshole, I'm leaving."

To be honest, Firo would lose out on far more than Huey if the conversation ended there, but still he found himself hoping that Huey would call his bluff.

He knew that he was just playing into the older immortal's hands by talking with him, but it wasn't like he really had much of a choice.

"So," Firo said, "why'd you call Isaac here?"

"Mmm. I had heard that he was an immortal as well. I merely wanted to talk to him. He was quite amusing. Interesting, in fact."

"...And you 'merely wanted to talk' to me, too?"

"Well, I cannot say that that is not part of it, but..."

Huey crossed his legs and appeared to think the matter over for a moment.

"But there is something I am slightly curious about. And you, too, must have things that you wish to know from me as well, do you not? Things besides what Victor has tasked you to find."

"...Can't deny that, I guess. But I don't really want to ask you anything. Just wanted to tell you something."

Firo leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, glaring at the man sitting before him.

"Don't mess with Ennis... or my friends and family," Firo said flatly, thinking back to the Mist Wall incident of a year ago.

"Look. It's none of my business what you do, and it's not like I want to eat you or something, either. I don't think Maiza's holding a grudge against you, so you don't need to worry about that. Honestly? I don't care whether you become Public Enemy Number One, or you decide to try and take over the world, or whatever, as long as you leave us alone. Don't try and drag us into your shit, is what I'm saying. Don't try and test me. I'm already pissed enough as it is 'cause I got dumped on this godforsaken island."

"Aha, I see. So you are fond of Miss Ennis."

"...What's it to you?" Firo asked, looking away.

"I have heard, last year, that individuals in my employ made untoward advances toward you and Miss Ennis. Christopher and the others must have strong feelings regarding her."

"So what?"

"I merely wish to make it clear that I myself have no intention of harming or otherwise approaching her."

The smile on Huey's face seemed to grow colder as he leaned back in his chair, the rickety wood creaking just a little.

"...No intention, that is, as long as you cooperate with me."


"You, and also the memories of Szilard Quates, are most precious to me."

Firo frowned openly, his brow creasing with consternation.

He'd half expected it, to be honest, but Huey's words more or less confirmed that he knew--or at the very least had enough evidence to assume--that Firo had devoured Szilard Quates.

"Dunno what you're talking about... Besides. I don't see what's so precious about that at all."

"No, no. To me, you see, the memories of Szilard Quates--the information he held regarding the creation of Miss Ennis and the incomplete Grand Panacea--are quite invaluable."

Firo's frown deepened, but he didn't comment.

"And furthermore, you yourself are also most intriguing to me. You see, I myself have yet to actually devour another immortal. But Szilard Quates feasted upon dozens of people, and the opportunity to observe what effect devouring such a man may or may not have had upon your psyche is... Well. Simply put, your experiences, both of the past and of the future, are of great interest to me."

Firo grimaced and snapped, "What, are you flirting with me or something? Shut the hell up. There's nothing interesting about it, because nothing happened. I'm myself, end of story."

"...But there was a time when you could not have said that so confidently, was there not?"

Firo opened his mouth to voice a denial but stopped, suddenly speechless.

He couldn't actually say that there wasn't. Huey chuckled softly and continued to lay out his theories.

"The memories you gained from Szilard were not just knowledge, I think. I don't know if you have ever tested it, but I am almost certain that if you were to try to, for instance, drive an automobile, you would find your body rising to the task quite readily even if you did not deliberately reach for the information.

"So tell me. Can you say for certain that these memories and experiences of the past--these things that are not of you--slowly but surely mixing with your self have not influenced you whatsoever? That you are still yourself? Have you not wondered, even for just a second, whether you are truly the same person you were before you took his knowledge?"

Huey wasn't saying these things to threaten Firo, nor to make him doubt himself. He just asked question after question, his eyes cool and calm. They weren't meant to railroad him, these questions. They were truly nothing more than pure expressions of curiosity, neutral requests that demanded neutral answers.

Yet Firo shivered, feeling a deep chilly abyss yawning endlessly within that icy gaze. A cold sweat broke out across his forehead?

"What do you want?" he blurted.

Huey thought it over for a moment before replying.

"What do I want? My ultimate goal is to create a demon, I suppose, but... Hmm. Perhaps that is merely my objective as of present. No... However..."

He trailed off, sounding more like he was just talking thoughtfully to himself. At length he looked once again to Firo and opened his mouth again, though even then he didn't sound entirely sure.

"I think... I think that I wish to know of the end."

"The end...?"

"I merely wish to know."

Firo frowned, unsure what was being said.

"Know what?"

"Something. Anything. It does not matter what."

Huey uncrossed his legs, then crossed them again, launching into a thoughtful reflection that was meant for himself as much as it was meant for Firo.

"Why was I born? What is the meaning of life? Why is it wrong to kill people? You know of people who ask such questions, matters that have nothing to do whatsoever with the natural course of life. When I was young, like a philosopher I too asked such questions, but at length I tired of them. It was not that the answers eluded me. It was that I found too many answers. Even without consulting others, I found that I could produce any number of conclusions to each question, twisting words and meanings to arrive at any answer, and this could not hold my interest. The answers were in my heart, yet I could not derive from them any revelation, any catharsis. But instead, I found that I enjoyed learning the conclusions reached by others, the act itself of extracting the thoughts of others than myself. From innocent children, from old men, from the cruel, from the kind, from the twisted and the foolish and the wise... It is nothing less than natural that everyone finds their own separate meaning from life, their own truth of the world, but yet... I wish to know. All of those things. I wish to know everything."


"Those who live in the present, those who have lived in the past, those who will live in the future. Those who were never born, but nevertheless might have been born. I wish to know the hearts of these people, these others. And that is just one thing, one example. But there is more, yet more knowledge I wish to make my own. What exists at the end of the universe? Is the smallest form of matter the particle or the string? Is it possible to travel through time? Do parallel universes truly exist? And then there are questions about people, about human beings. What really happened in the recent robbery I saw on the news? Who was Jack the Ripper? What was the true identity of Ice Pick Thompson, the serial killer who made headlines in New York several years ago? What is the ideal amount of time to cook a whitefish? Do psychic powers exist? What lies over the rainbow? Even these things, I wish to know. Everything. Yes. Everything."

The man in white's voice waxed strong with madness as he spoke, rising with excitement.

"What will I think when I know everything? What lies at the end of that path? Ennui? Or shock? Or perhaps there will be a new riddle there, one revealed only to those who know all? I merely wish to reach that vaunted plateau myself."

"...What's the meaning in that?"

"There doesn't have to be one. Perhaps the result, the fact that I reached that ultimate resolution, will be the only meaning to derive from it. The answer to that, too, lies in the darkness. But that is why I exist, to know everything. I love knowledge, the fact of knowing, so much that sometimes I think that if this world would not allow absolute knowledge... I would rather see it destroyed."

"In other words, though, doesn't that mean you'd destroy the world for knowledge?"

"If necessary."

Firo had nothing to say to that.

He's crazy. Totally crazy.

He shifted uneasily, wondering how he'd escape the obviously insane man in front of him.


Huey looked at him and suddenly began to chuckle.

"Hahahahaha! Ahahahahaha!"

Firo took a cautious step backward.

He really lost it?!

Apparently noticing his anxiety, Huey stopped laughing just as suddenly as he'd started. The man in white offered him a childlike smile and shrugged slightly.

"...That was a joke."


Firo's jaw dropped open as the emotion vanished from Huey's voice as though it'd never been.

"Did you truly think that such pathetic thoughts were my motivation? Preposterous. I have not dreamed of bringing about the end of the world since I was a boy."

"What?" Firo managed to say, more confused than ever.

"You see, I have noticed from time to time that people tend to see me as someone with many secrets, ones I hold close to my heart, and I thought that perhaps you might be one such individual. Please, don't take me so seriously."

Only then did Firo realize that Huey had been toying with him, and he flushed with equal parts fury and embarrassment... and a little relief.

"You asshole..."

"I did tell you that sometimes I get the urge to play childish pranks, did I not?"

...If I beat the crap out of the bastard I'll only be playing into his hands!

Firo ignored the clenching of his fists and tried desperately to rein himself in and prove that he had the situation under control.

"...You weren't very popular with the other alchemists back then, were you."

"I only had one friend."

"Yeah, that one friend must be a saint, or maybe he just pretends he is. Either that or he's a goddamn idiot, or maybe just a crazy masochist."

"No. He is insane, yes, and a pretender, yes. But he does not pretend he is a saint. Quite the opposite," Huey murmured, looking away. He wasn't avoiding Firo's eyes, but instead it seemed like he was looking toward someone who wasn't there, and for a moment he even seemed lonely.

"...He is totally insane. He only thinks of how to please the entirety of the world that he beholds. He searches for a way to make every single human being in the world happy, regardless of their views, regardless of their religions, regardless of whether they are good or evil."

"...Well, he sounds pretty strange when you put it like that, but I still bet he's a lot better than you."

The face of an alchemist rose unbidden in Firo's mind, coming from Szilard's memories, but he ignored it and nudged it back down for the moment.

At length Huey slowly rose, looking for all the world as though he hadn't burst into manic laughter just a moment before.

"But setting that aside for now," he said, signaling the end of that discussion, "I wish to work together with you. Just a few questions from time to time is all I ask. If you wish to 'sell' the results of Szilard's research, then I am prepared to pay you whatever you wish, as long as it is within my power."

Firo hesitated, looking unsure.

"Think of it. With the knowledge you hold, I would have no reason to pursue Miss Ennis. And needless to say, I would make sure that Christopher never showed himself to her again, either."

It was the first concrete offer that Huey had given so far. Firo gave it some thought, but before he could arrive at a conclusion, Huey gave him a deadline.

"I will be staying here for a few more days, and before I leave I will call you here one last time. I would appreciate it if you had your answer ready by then."

He'd more or less just told Firo that he'd be escaping from Alcatraz in a few days, but Firo couldn't find it in himself to be surprised anymore.

"If you agree to cooperate with me, then as a sign of trust--an advance payment, if you will--I will tell you how I communicate with those outside these walls, and how I turn the guards to work for me. That is what Victor wishes to know, correct?"

A thousand questions rose up inside Firo, things he desperately wished to ask to this man who seemed to see everything, but in the end he only came up with one question.

"What the hell are you?"

Huey tapped his lips thoughtfully with one finger as he considered the blunt question, and finally just gave to Firo the easiest answer.

"I am nothing but a researcher," he said, simply.

"Though it seems like Victor and the senator do not like what I study."


A moment passed after Firo followed the guard out of Huey's cell, back to his own.

Then a young girl's voice came from on top of the bed.

"Good work, Daddy!"

"Ah. Thank you, Liza. How did things go on your side?"

"Umm... There's someone really really scary and he's getting in the way! He's got this wrench and it's huuuge! Big as his arm! I bet he's crazy or something! But the bad part is that he's really really strong too. Even the Lamia can't beat him... Oh! But don't worry, Daddy! I studied him so it's not going to be a problem anymore! I found a good hostage so he'll be taken care of in no time, you'll see!"

"Indeed. That is a good thing, yes," Huey murmured, smiling gently. He paused for a moment, though, realizing that the expression on his daughter's face was a little different from normal. "Is something the matter?"

Liza's voice held a mix of surprise and jealousy as she exclaimed, "I've never heard you laughing like that, Daddy. You looked like you were really happy when you were talking with that Isaac person, and even with that spy Firo!"

Huey chuckled lightly. "Hahaha. Are you jealous that I enjoyed myself with people I'd just met, Liza?"

"Uh huh! I'm super jealous! Those two can just go die for all I care! Can I kill them, Daddy? Pleaaaase?"

"No, dear. And both of them are immortal, anyway, so you could not kill them even if I gave you permission to do so."


Liza hung her head, but she couldn't keep the worried, questioning tone from her voice as she spoke.

"But you really were different from normal today, Daddy!"

"Talking with Mr. Dian just reminded me a little of the past," Huey explained quietly.

He thought of his old friend, and of himself, all those years back...

"Those two are very alike, you know... Both of them with similar personalities, and both of them not quite right in the head."


Chapter 4 Front End


(1): A play on "zashikiwarashi." The English "the" is pronounced as "za" in Japanese. Zashikiwarashi are childlike monsters in Japanese myth, said to hide in homes and bring good fortune if respected, but misfortune if chased out. Both the reference to shoes on heads and prostration are references to Buddhist stories and practices.


Chapter 4 Back


  1. Thank you for the update! Loved the interaction between Isaac and Huey. Actually, Huey was pretty great this chapter, very interesting to read his thoughts.

  2. thanks for the new chapter, only a few more left ^^

  3. I have to admit, Huey had me fooled for a moment. I was thinking, "Yes! Finally we're getting an explanation for his motivations," and then he casually says he was joking. He's the driving force behind much of Baccano, yet I can't tell if he has a goal or if it's all for the sake of fun.

  4. thank you so much for your hard work on Baccano ! I really Can't thank u enough <3