Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speechless: The Way Part 4

The Price of Redemption

Angela dabbed the blood from my ears as I lay whimpering. We were still in the safe house, hiding in their secret room. Every safe house had at least one room with secure blast doors designed to look just like normal walls. Most people considered them pretty much impregnable and thoroughly soundproof. Sound proof they weren’t. Not by a long shot. Not to my ears. I winced as Angela wiped away the blood pooling in my right. The freedom fighters had called it their safety deposit box. I wondered when the postman would be by to pick us up.



“Did anyone survive?”

I shook my head. I had heard everyone’s heartbeat stop right about the time the explosion had rocked the room outside. Even with the blood dripping through my ears, I could hear Nagumo’s interrogation and execution of the safe house leader. I hadn’t even gotten his name yet. Nagumo had sat down in the middle of the floor while the other one with him had gone to find a way to get in touch with The Tribunal. He had found the resistance radio operator and put a harpoon through her chest. While he was calling back to home base, Nagumo had stayed sitting in the middle of the floor. The fish had sliced open his arm and let the blood drip down into the sewer water below.

Someone had whispered a “Thank you.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know whom.

Angela was shaking, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“I can’t believe it. They took us in. We hid while they died. We could’ve done something. You could’ve beaten them Jack. I know you could’ve.”

I struggled and rolled off of her lap and sat up. I put a slowly hand on hers so she could hear me, not even wanting to touch her at the moment.

“I’m not a fighter. Yes, I’ve killed a lot of them. That’s only because I’m sneaky. Nagumo knew we were here and had help. Somebody down there was manipulating the water for him so the guards couldn’t hit him. Their bullets were smashed apart by a wave. Waves don’t happen in the sewers. The piranha with him is just as fanatical as he is, and is a damn good shot. As for Nagumo himself…”

I trailed off and let my hand drop. Angela nodded, wiping the tears away.

“The Consulars are afraid of him to some extent. Magistrate Nagumo is one of their most talented Magistrates. He’s been asked to do demonstrations and workshops to train entire Courts of Judges. With a pair of wooden training swords, he challenged three Arbiters to a mock battle. They never touched him.”

I shook my head sadly and stood. I picked up a pipe lying on the ground and chuckled. A fanatical master swordsman after my head and the best I could do was a pipe and bombs. Angela got to her feet and touched my shoulder.

“I know head to head fighting isn’t your thing. I’m just so sick of letting people die. I’ve had to watch execution after execution without being able to change anything for so long.”

I nodded.

“Right now, we have to get to Pier 451. Nagumo appears at least to be taking a route above ground. He knows where we’re going and thinks we’re already on our way. Either the sewers were getting too rank for him or something down here told him we weren’t down there.”

“That Sleeper you talked to?”

“Doubtful. Rancid hates The Judges more than we do. He’d detonate his entire stock first. No, I think whoever helped him with that wall of water is watching the sewers for him. If we’re being watched, it doesn’t make any sense to travel that way.”

“If we don’t take the sewers, how will we go? Judge patrols aren’t going to let us just pass by freely.”

“You wanted us to go help break up the siege they’ve got the place under, right?”


I winked.

“Then follow my lead. We’ve got to get there first and I think I know how. I heard one of the guys talking about his motorcycle. It should be at ground level in their garage. I have just one question; How well do you shoot?”


I massaged my temples, sitting in the chair opposite Arbiter Sturm. The lionfish was sipping from a glass of iced tea, leaning back in his chair.

“You have to hand it to him Magistrate, he is obviously quite clever.”

“I don’t feel I have to hand him anything Arbiter. He is the lowest, most foul of these humans I have yet had the displeasure of pursuing.”

Sturm shrugged and downed the rest of his tea.

“I suppose. But really Nagy, whether you care to admit it or not, you’ve got yourself quite a rival this time. Think about the numbers of dead he’s responsible for. Yet, we’ve never caught him. In fact, we don’t even really know what he looks like. Only one Judge has ever seen his face and lived, and he was wearing face paint at the time.”

“He’s a murderer, a kidnapper, and a rapist Arbiter. I will not give him even faint praise.”

Sturm shrugged again and stood, his coral armor glowing in the setting sun.

“Well, regardless, if he’s heading here like you claim, he’ll be dead soon regardless.”

There was chatter at Sturm’s comm piece and his eyes lit up.

“Speak of the devil Nagy. Your boy is here. He’s on a motorcycle… and he’s got your assistant with him. The damn thing’s running silent and moving fast. My men can’t get a bead on him before he blasts past them. Those that look like they might get a clean shot are being killed before they can fire.”

“Is my assistant unhurt?”

Arbiter Sturm listened at his comm piece for a moment before speaking.

“So far. From the sounds of it, Rynth was one of the first to spot them. He’s in pursuit in an appropriated car. So far, they appear to be heading straight for the barrier between here and the Pier. Several have been shot dead. They’ll be passing our building in less than two minutes if someone can’t bring him down first.”

“That bastard. If any harm comes to Angela because of this…”

“Magistrate, it’s your assistant doing the shooting.”


The plan was going beautifully. No one would risk firing at us as we shot through The Judges lines. They were too concerned with hitting their fellow fish. Angela was a crack shot, picking off their snipers before they could get a decent bead on us. There was a single maroon car racing after us but they weren’t fast enough to catch us.

It was all going to perfection. Until the last block.

The Judges had cleared the path in that last stretch before the Pier. They hid behind whatever cover they could find. There was only one figure in our path. And that was Nagumo. Both of his blades were drawn, his gray and blue kimono fluttering wildly in the sea breeze.

“Angela, take him out.”


“Shoot him!”

“He’s crying.”

Oh Christ. I hadn’t told her he was doing this as much for her as to catch me. I hadn’t told her that every other word he breathed was in concern for her. I could hear him as he had pursued us through the sewers, praying for her safety. I knew that he risked mutiny and my escape in order to save her.

She lowered the rifle and I felt her slip the strap around my shoulder.

“Angela, don’t! Even if you don’t shoot him, we can go around him.”

“I can’t. He came for me didn’t he? All this way, all those people… He came for me. The least I can do is say hello.”

She leapt from the bike and hit the ground at a roll. She was whispering, felt like screaming.

“If you don’t make it, I’ll be thoroughly disappointed in you Jack Lorenz.”

I weaved past Nagumo and opened the throttle wide. There were fish standing guard above the gates to the Pier. Piranha with white eyes and sewn shut mouths. The gate cracked open and I shot through. I spun the bike in a circle and watched the gate close. The maroon car that had been pursuing squealed to a halt next to Nagumo and Angela. Dozens of piranha like those at the front gates shambled forward, surrounding me. They parted for a man in a pinstripe suit.

“Welcome to Pier 451 Mr. Lorenz, The Baron’s been expecting you.”

My jaw was clenched, my teeth cracking inside my mouth. Nagumo would pay for this.


She had come, of her own free will. I stood, blades to either side, kimono flapping in the breeze. I tried to blink the tears away.

Angela stood from where she had landed and staggered towards me. It was obvious her right arm and one of her legs were broken. She still staggered forwards. Rynth squealed his car to halt less than ten feet away as the gates to Pier 451 closed behind us, delivering Jack Lorenz to safety.

Her head was bowed as she made her way forward. Rynth lifted his harpoon gun but I waved him down. He watched me curiously as I stood there. Angela kept coming, wincing in pain, but still moving forward. She fell to her knees in front of me.

Her words were a whisper only for me to hear.

“You came for me didn’t you? He was only a secondary prize, wasn’t he? You came to rescue me.”

I nodded, gritting my teeth.

“I repent, Magistrate. I repent. Please, give me peace. I am beyond anything else.”


“Please… Nagumo… for me.”

I nodded, lifting my blades. She reached into her coat pocket and smiled.

“We’ll both be redeemed.”

She was holding a pin, like you would pull from a grenade.

Then Rynth was there, shoving me aside, pinning her beneath him. I watched, unseeing. There was an explosion and both of them bounced into the air. I closed my eyes and howled.

Arbiter Sturm’s hand was on my shoulder.

“That is why I give him credit Nagy. Honorable men like you do not understand the things the dishonorable can accomplish. Be proud, of yourself and of Rynth. Rise Magistrate, and come with me. Let me show you the way.”

I nodded and rose, the tears gone. I looked at their bodies and breathed slowly. All that had happened; had happened to catch Jack Lorenz. Such was the cost of pursuing virtue. Such was the cost of honor.

There was only one path to walk.

“Lead on Arbiter, that we may finish what has been started.”

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