Chapter 111:

Chapter 111 - Pity Party


It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

For years Roulette had allowed the dream of vengeance to sustain her. That rage had taken her far; pushed her to carve out a place for herself in Trigger City. Each night, she had soothed herself to sleep with dreams of effortless victory. She’d seen visions of herself, boot pressed to Gunn’s head as he bled out in the dust, and spent each day working toward that golden goal.

It was after she met Luca and learned of her potential as a Gunslinger that those dreams became more than flights of fancy. All of a sudden, she actually had power. She was one of those special few deserving of a destined weapon! Now she’d be able to challenge Gunn as an equal this time, instead of a scared little girl toting her daddy’s pellet gun.

Soon enough, she got to thinking she might be capable of even more. Luca spoke vaguely of a secretive group behind the scenes–a shadowy cabal that backed all the Gun Czars across Cal Vontra. To hear him tell it, Wesson’s problems were global problems, and Gunn was just the tip of the iceberg.

That had sounded like a challenge to her. Rather than getting discouraged, she’d pressed him for more details, eager for a chance to prove herself. She could fix it. She could honor her father’s memory. She could unlock Lady Luck’s potential. She could make sure nobody else had to hurt the way she did.

She could let go of her grief.

She could save the world.

…I’m such an idiot.

Tears leaked from the corners of swollen eyelids as long-buried feelings of shame and helplessness took hold. How could I have thought I was something special?

I hadn’t even done anything yet…

It was all so clear to her now. It had taken countless setbacks and a chance reunion with her mother to bring the truth into focus, but now, finally, she could see her journey for what it was:

A vanity project. A grand, ambitious outlet for her anger and sorrow. When she’d set out in search of Morgan, she had believed–really believed–that she could take whatever came her way. She’d thought that feeling invincible was the same as being invincible, and that making her dreams come true was as simple as ignoring the hateful little voices in her head.

…But that was only the first step. And since she’d taken it, she’d been doing nothing but stumbling.

The girl rested her head on the roof of her kidnappers’ car, staring blankly up at the stars. The tears kept coming, stinging at the freshest of her many wounds. It seemed that Tamale, seeking payback for her own beating, hadn’t had the decency to wait for Roulette to be conscious before getting her revenge.

“...didn’t think we’d pick up their trail back in Segue. Hah! The way that clunker of CJ’s belches smoke, we’d have to be blind to have missed ‘em!”

There she was now, cackling like a dune witch. Roulette stayed quiet and gritted her teeth, anxious to hear more.

“It’s like she thought she and Teresla would be the only Niners to answer Copperlock’s summons,” the driver replied. “She must’ve been too busy planning her little mutiny to realize that Gunn put a price on the prisoner’s head.”

“Exactly! Like, why wouldn’t we show if there’re slugs on the line? Honestly, Ahab never should’ve asked for our help. Didn’t he know we’d come around to try and take Sarada for ourselves?”

Roulette frowned. They were after Morgan? Just what was it about that guy that made him so popular?

“Evidently not,” the male Niner scoffed. “He should have, though. The boss has only ever encouraged us to take what we want from each other… Provided we remember our place, of course.”

“That’s what I hate about that CJ bitch,” Tamale spat. “I knew she’d turn traitor from the start. It was so obvious! Like, you expect me to believe that you’re loyal when you spent your whole life putting people like us in the ground? Please.”

“I agree. Not very convincing. She never came to any of our functions, either.”

“I know! Not even that smash-up derby you put together–which was lit, by the way.”

At that, the driver chuckled. “C’mon, Tamale. You’re making me blush.”

“I’m serious! It was a good time. And I’m not just saying that ‘cuz I won.”

Roulette couldn’t help but tune out of the discussion. It was getting a little too mundane–and a little too human–for her tastes. Instead she thought about Lady Luck, and how disturbing it was to be lying on her back without its chunky frame digging in between her shoulder blades. She’d grown used to wearing her gunstrap at all times, so to suddenly be without it felt… Odd.

She wanted to believe that her captors had stashed it in the backseat, but she supposed she had no real way of knowing if that was true. They could just as easily have tossed it out the window, for all she knew. Even in her bound-up state, having it around would have been a comfort; as it was, the repetitive shuffle of tiny metal feet was putting her on edge.

“Do these spiders of yours go any faster, Sid?” Tamale eventually huffed. “At this rate I bet we won’t even make Calimeda by sunup.”

“Why the rush?” he snarked. “Getting homesick?”

“I just want to make sure we get these assholes to Gunn before anyone else catches on.”

“Relax. Arachnarchy’s spiders may be slow, but they’re reliable,” Sid assured her. “They can go all night. No pitstops, no drama. Once I key in a command, they’ll carry it out until I give another. We could even get some shuteye if you want.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Tamale replied. “I still think we should take it in shifts, though. What if CJ’s crew tries something?”

“Not likely. We’ve got that girl strapped to the roof, remember?”

“How could I forget,” she grumbled. “I still think you should’ve let me kill her.”

Roulette sighed softly and closed her eyes, lapsing back into despondency. She was a hostage then. Insurance. A liability yet again.

As grim as it was, she couldn’t help feeling that Tamale was right.


Beretta couldn’t sleep.

She was tired, alright. They all were. But something about the Armature Express made her restless. Whenever she drifted off, she’d wake with a start several minutes later… And on one such occasion she’d roused to find a white-haired boy peeking in at her through the crack in the door of their private compartment.

He was wearing the same uniform as the man who’d welcomed them aboard, so she didn’t react much at the time. But the cold look in his eyes stuck with her. It reminded her so much of her uncle and the way he’d often look at her and Father in the weeks leading up to his betrayal.

Staying in the compartment was becoming too unsettling. She felt like a lone Dustsnuffle the moment before an antlion attack. Exposed. Vulnerable. What if there were bad things going on just beyond that door? She’d have no way of knowing.

…Not unless she looked for herself.

Quiet as a mouse, she slid the door open and closed it behind her, leaving the din of Luca’s snoring (and Mimi’s disturbing night-murmurs) to fill the compartment in her absence. A glance to either side revealed that nobody was watching her. The entire passenger car seemed empty. She turned to the right and stepped softly toward the back of the train, determined to investigate as much as she could before the staff found her.

She reached the end of the car in short order. Through the window, she could see that the connecting car was only a few feet away…. But she’d have to step outside and bridge the gap if she wanted to explore further. The girl steeled herself and pushed the door open, squinting against the wind and the rattle of wheels on rails as she sidled out into the night. Thankfully, the train was designed for passengers to move freely between cars, and it wasn’t overly difficult to hop over the axle and get a hand on the knob of the opposite door.

Beretta progressed through that car in its entirety, and then another. Nothing suspicious stuck out to her aside from the profound emptiness of the train, but that was to be expected–it was Mr. Montrevi’s private locomotive, after all. After many minutes of skulking through the train, all she’d come across was a wealth of comfortable furniture, a few varieties of floral wallpaper, several funny-looking light fixtures, and a dozen compartments just like her own.

Nothing strange or threatening. Just car after car of boring, lavishly-decorated train.

When she reached the final window of the final passenger car, a feeling of anticlimax overtook her. All that was left was the caboose, and though it looked about as opulent from the outside as any other car, it also looked as though nobody had paid it a visit in ages. It was dark inside, and she could see moonlight reflecting off of a pile of clutter within.

…But, wait. What was that, beyond the clutter? Beyond the caboose’s far window, at the very back of the train, she could see something. Something cloudy. Something curling.


She rushed out the door and into the darkness of the caboose, slipping between boxes and miscellaneous objects alike on her way to the back of the train. When she reached the rear door, she cast it open and lunged out onto the slim walkway at the back of the caboose, hoping to catch sight of the smoke’s source before she had a chance to be caught.

What she found there was wholly unexpected: a tall, gangly man with a thin mustache and a dark suit leaning against the railing, lit cigarette in-hand. He looked taken aback for a moment, then greeted her with an easy smile.

“Hey kid,” he said. “I’m Gio.

“Now, if ya don’t mind me asking, what the hell are ya doin’ here?”

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