Chapter 57:

Chapter 57 - The Puzzling Power of Lady Luck


“Hi Berry! C’mon in!”

Roulette straightened up and hugged her knees to her chest to make room for Beretta, who immediately rushed in to seat herself on the edge of the cot. The little girl’s eyes were sparkling, but the fragility of her smile gave the game away: she was starved for attention. Thankfully, after a long spell of self-reflection, Roulette found that she had plenty to spare.

“What’s up? Enjoyin’ your first airship ride?”

Beretta didn’t respond right away. She toyed with the hem of her shirt, looking everywhere but directly at Roulette. “It is very interesting. I like looking down at the jungle… But there is not much to do.”

Roulette gave an empathetic nod. “Long trips can be tough on a kid. I was in your shoes not too long ago, y’know–the voyage from Wesson to Truvelo felt like it’d never end,” she recalled, leaning her head back against the wall. “I felt just like you do now. But I’ve grown a lot since then, and now I have the opposite problem: my head’s so full of thoughts that I can’t enjoy the ride for what it is.”

Beretta perked up a little at that, shooting a curious glance her way. “What thoughts?”

Now it was Roulette’s turn to pause. “Did you see what happened during my fight with Livingston? The tall man with the mustache and all those seagulls?”

“Of course! You were so good!” Beretta replied, rising from her place on the cot with her little fists clenched. “They were pooping all over you! I would have given up, but you ran and ran… And then you jumped in the hole, and BOOM, you surprised him! You should have won, I think.”

Roulette cringed at the memory. “Ugh… I nearly forgot about the bird poop. It took so long to get it all out of my hair.”

“Is that why your head is full of thoughts?” the little girl asked. “The poop?”

Roulette couldn’t help but laugh. “No, no. It’s not about the poop. That was pretty awful, though,” she admitted. “It’s about what came after–that thing I did when I was in the hole.”

Beretta swayed gently in place with a finger to her chin. “When you made the big bandage and wrapped him up?”

Roulette nodded.

“I did not really understand what was happening,” the little girl continued, “but I thought it was amazing! I had no idea you could do things like that.”

“Neither did I. I still don’t know what I did to make it happen.”

Roulette turned her eyes to the window, drinking in the sight of that clear, blue sky. “It bothers me. I want so badly to be strong for everyone, but how can I do that if I still don’t understand what I’m capable of?” She went quiet for a moment before giving her head a shake.

Sadly, the gesture did nothing to dispel her feelings of uncertainty.

“Sometimes it feels like Lady Luck’s toying with me. Powerful one minute, useless the next.” She paused to rattle off a humorless laugh. “Kind of like me, I guess.”

“You are not useless!” Beretta assured her. She stomped her little foot for emphasis, fists clenching–again–at her sides. “You saved Father and I back at the villa, and you helped get Morgan back after he went to jail!”

Roulette furnished the defiant little girl with a small smile. It was good of her to try and cheer her up.

“I want to be just like you when I grow up,” she continued, relocating her balled-up hands to her hips, “so stop sulking! Father hates it when I sulk!”

“She is right–I do.”

Beretta whipped her head around to find Marka standing just outside the door. He had smudges and smears of soot all over his face and clothes, and beads of sweat stood out on his brow, but he was smiling good-naturedly and seemed no worse for the wear. His daughter zoomed across the tiny room to hug him, and he was quick to squat down and reciprocate.

“I overheard your concerns, Roulette, and I remembered that I had something to tell you,” he said. “It came to me during the arena fight when I saw you produce that bandage. Back in the scion’s tomb, as I was coming to investigate the trap room, I heard something: singing. You were bound up at the time, so you may not have heard clearly, but it sounded… Drunken.”

Roulette felt her eyebrows lift. “Drunken singin’? But he’d been asleep for a century! How could the wizardling have found the time to get into the sauce?”

Marka shrugged his shoulders. “It seemed odd to me, and I could think of no reason for it. But, if Lady Luck can create bandages unexpectedly…”

“...Then maybe it could cause drunkenness unexpectedly too!” she finished, shooting up straight in her cot. “Is that even possible, though? A gun with two abilities?”

“Let’s ask Mimi!” Beretta exclaimed, parting from her father to jump up and down. “She is a Gunsmith; she could tell us!”

“Good idea, Berry,” Roulette replied, springing from the cot and onto her feet. “Let’s head topside. I’m sure she’s either busy or mopin’, but this is important!”

Beretta took the lead, streaking past her father to take the stairs with glee. Roulette and Marka followed along behind without a word, but inside, Roulette felt no less excited than the exuberant nine-year-old. After all this time, would she finally have an answer? Would she finally get her long-awaited confirmation that Lady Luck was capable of more than it seemed?

They tromped up toward the bridge together, coming around its sturdy eastern wall to find Morgan and Mimi huddled inside. The wind was at their back, which made the doorless enclosure quite chilly–and its occupants quite irate, as it turned out.

What?” Morgan snapped, rubbing at his upper arms to generate some small measure of warmth while Mimi puzzled over the controls. “Are we all takin’ a turn at flyin’ the airship, now? Or are you just bored and lookin’ to throw off the learnin’ process?”

“‘Learning process?’ I haven’t learned a thing since you dragged me in here!” Mimi fumed. “For someone who supposedly knows what you’re doing, your instructions have been surprisingly vague.”

“I told you, I don’t strictly remember anything to do with airships! It’s in the blood–muscle memory. If my teachin’ style is too advanced for you, maybe Roulette’ll take to it better?”

He cast a hopeful look Roulette’s way, but she was quick to throw up her hands in a clear show of reluctance. “Sorry, Morgan. I’m hopeless with that kind of thing. I crashed everything I’ve ever driven.”

Morgan rolled his eyes. “And so my sufferin’ continues.”

“If none of you are here to take over, why are you here?” Mimi asked, unbending from her hunch over the control panel and cracking her back. “It’s not a good idea to distract the pilot of a vessel like this… Especially a pilot as incompetent as Morgan.”

The man turned away from the group with his arms crossed and began mumbling to himself, fully checking out of the conversation (and, apparently, the responsibility of flying the damn airship).

“We’ve been talkin’ about Lady Luck and the odd things it’s been doin’ lately. We were wonderin’ if you might have any thoughts about that,” Roulette explained.

“What, you mean like the infinitely long bandage that shot from its muzzle earlier today apropos of nothing?” the girl replied with a smirk. “You could say I have some thoughts. Gunslinger abilities are my field, after all.”

“Alright, well, spill,” she encouraged. “There was the bandage incident earlier today, and Marka just told me that the scion was singin’ drunkenly back in the tomb after we’d finished our gunfight. Is it possible that a single gun could do both–bandages and booze?”

“That bartender you fought back in Port Pistola shot alcoholic bullets,” Morgan interjected. “Wish that was my power–think of all the slugs I’d have saved!”

“Hush,” Mimi urged, returning to the topic at hand. “It is possible, though exceedingly rare, for a Gunslinger’s weapon to manifest multiple powers. It makes a lot of sense, though, given your personality.”

Roulette frowned at that. “What do you mean?”

“A Gunslinger’s ability is a reflection of their inner selves,” Mimi continued. “Take Marka, for example. He was once a very destructive man, but has since had a change of heart. Hence, Voidthrower and Lifebringer. Beretta has a playful personality and cares deeply for her loved ones, so her weapon is a water gun with the capacity to heal.”

“Its name is Drizzle!” Beretta added.

“Yes, we all know that honey,” Mimi said with a roll of her eyes. “Morgan is anything but a straight shooter, so he thrives on shooting things and people indirectly.”

“Hey!” he protested, though Mimi didn’t pause to acknowledge him–she kept right on going with her explanation.

“But you, Roulette? You’re a wildcard. An enigma. The way you express your personality changes at the drop of a hat; the only common factor is your inconsistency,” she said. “Gunslingers like that are rare. And when they do crop up, their powers are similarly inconsistent.

“Anua called them ‘Chaotic Gunslingers’. And if I had to guess, I’d say you’re one of them.”

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