Chapter 129:

Chapter 129 - Broken Things


Gio sank to the ground, a sensation of mingled warmth and pain radiating all across his back. He was no doctor, but he could tell that the blade had clipped something vital. What else could explain the sharp, searing pain? The tingling in his fingers? The racing of his mind as it dredged up long-neglected memories?

He wasn’t the sentimental type, nor the kind of man who tended to dwell on the past. Though, in his heart of hearts, he harbored a special kind of respect for those who’d treated him well. Maybe that was why he’d stuck with the Guardians for so long? Even after years of chaos, hardship, and countless atrocities, Gio had stayed loyal. For all his faults, Montrevi had been good to him, and he’d felt a desperate need to repay that kindness.

If things had kept on as they were, Gio had no doubt that he’d still be dancing to his tune. But there was someone he owed an even greater debt of gratitude to–someone who’d impacted his life more dramatically than anyone else before or since. And when that person started having second thoughts, he was honor-bound to go along for the ride.

“What’re you doin’ out here so late? Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s dangerous to hang out around the docks at night?”

Gio slumped onto his side, lacking the strength to stay on his knees any longer.

“Why? ‘Cuz of people like me, kid!”

Between flashes of memories long past, he saw feet shuffling. He looked up to find Diallo there, his hand spattered with blood.

His blood.

“Whoa! WHOA! I didn’t know you were packin’ heat! Uncle! I’m not goin’ to hurt you, I swear!”

Diallo and Mimi were screaming at eachother, now, but Gio couldn’t make out the words. It was hard to hear with so much blood rushing in his ears… Hard to see with so much darkness closing in.

“Let’s start over. Name’s Morgan. Morgan Sarada.”

Gio felt tiny hands on his shoulder, trying their best to roll him over, but Diallo caught on right away. He shouted, eyes bulging, and the hands left him. A little girl–the girl from the train–ran into view and clung to Mimi’s side, but she was looking straight at him.

“Nice to meet you, Gio.”

She had tears in her eyes.

“How’d you like a job?”

Diallo pulled a knife from his vest.

“Heh, oh yeah. The pay’s good, I can promise you that.”

Mimi ran her hand over her arm. It came away orange, like a Trigger City traffic cone. Like the sun setting on Receiver Wharf.

Like a pepper.

“Come with me.”

She smeared it on his face.

“Let’s get you somethin’ to eat.”

He looked like he was screaming.

“You’re all skin and bones.”

They ran.

“Skin and bones…”

…And Gio smiled.


Roulette wasn’t cut out for this.

She had no talent for comedy–no patience for sleight of hand. She was loud, brash, and moody, and she frequently got herself into more hot water than she could handle.

Now she could add a complete inability to buoy along injured people to her resume.

“Come on, Morgan,” she grunted, still depressingly distant from the crimson-colored train ahead of them. “Work with me, here! I can’t do this alone!”

His head lolled in time with each of her staggering movements, bumping erratically (and annoyingly) against her cheek. He hadn’t talked in awhile, so she paused to adjust her grip on his arm as roughly as she could.

He groaned. That was something, at least.

“Oh, don’t be a baby,” she hissed. “It’s just a gunshot wound to the gut. You’ve been through worse, I assume.”

The sting of his betrayal was still fresh. She was mad as hell, and she didn’t care if he knew it. After all, she didn’t know a thing about him! Not really. She’d been fool enough to believe him when he’d told her his past was a mystery, so blinded by the dream of a future together that she’d overlooked the little inconsistencies: the assassins, the brushes with the law… His knowledge of Gunn’s operations in Ballistona.

Things had been coming back to him. He’d admitted it himself. And it turned out that one of those things was the memory of his long, storied career as the top lieutenant of the very organization that had destroyed her life! She’d seen the shame on his face plain as day when Viper brought up his involvement. He knew. He’d probably known for some time. Maybe the whole time.

And as a result, things had gotten even worse. Her mother was dead. Luca was a traitor. Marka was missing, and Beretta was lost in a crumbling city. How much of it could’ve been prevented if he’d only spoken up? How much hurt could’ve been avoided?

She pulled his arm taut around her shoulders again, resisting the urge to break it. He was lucky she saw fit to offer him a shoulder–much less both–after all he’d done. But despite everything, she still cared about what happened to him, so on she went, dragging him along and wondering if she was doing it out of weakness or genuine empathy.

“Hope that old friend of yours knows what he’s doin’,” she grumbled, staggering stubbornly toward the door of the nearest passenger car. “We’re leavin’ a lot in his hands. I hope you know that, if anything happens to Marka, Berry, or Mimi, I’m holdin’ him–and you–one hundred percent responsible!”

Finally, something more than a groan escape Morgan’s mouth:

“...I’m sorry…”

Roulette nearly froze in place, but the thought of stopping now, with less than ten feet to go until she reached her goal, was simply too anxiety-inducing to entertain. “...Yeah, well, you’d better be,” she grunted, hefting him into place on the lone metal step beneath the door of the passenger car. “Once we get you sorted, I’m goin’ back in for ‘em. Don’t suppose you remember where the medical supplies are kept on this oversized jalopy, do you?”

He gave a slow shake of his head. “Of course not. That’d be too convenient, wouldn’t it?” she quipped with a roll of her eyes. “Let’s get you inside, then. We’ll figure it out after I’ve laid you down.”

With that, she pushed open the door and stood just inside the threshold, leaning down to gather him up by his armpits. It was slow, sweaty work, but little by little, she managed to lift him up until his rump was level with her feet. In the process, she got a good look at just how injured he was: from the waist down, all his clothes were positively caked in blood, and every move she made caused his wound to weep anew. The scrap of fabric she’d ripped from her already-tattered skirt to dress the bullet hole had done little to staunch the bleeding.

She was beginning to think that he wasn’t going to make it.

“Hang in there, Morgan,” she coaxed, moving to drag him across the passenger car’s plush rug. “I can’t lose anyone else today, okay? Even if you are a damn, dirty lia–”

“Stop where you are.”

Roulette complied right away, her eyes widening in fear. Someone’s here? Did that Gio guy double-cross us? She didn’t want to believe it, but after the day she’d had, it seemed unsettlingly likely. “Hold your horses, now,” she replied, pausing to wet her lips. “I’ve got an injured man here. I’m just looking to get him patched up, then we’ll be on our way.”

She turned her head slowly, taking in the sight of the white-haired boy standing behind her. He looked to be around twelve years old, and he stood there unsteadily, as if he were injured himself. As they locked eyes, a look of recognition dawned on his face.

“You… You’re one of the rebels,” he accused, jabbing a finger Morgan’s way. “And so is he!”

At that, her eyes narrowed. “I don’t know who you are, but we don’t–”


Roulette looked down to find that Morgan had twisted around to catch a glimpse himself. He looked as rattled as she’d ever seen him. “...Connor, it’s me…!”

“Connor? What the hell are you talking about?” The kid brandished his gun threateningly–a big, glittering weapon as white as snow–and pointed it their way. “My name is Stanley. I have no idea who you are, old man… Except what my father has told me.”

“Wha–B-But Connor, you don’t understand,” Morgan babbled. “Me… I’m your father…!”

The boy looked taken aback. Rather than offering an immediate denial, he seemed to search Morgan’s face for the truth. A long, uncomfortable moment passed between them, and then:

“No. No, you’re not. You can’t be,” the boy decided. “My father found me in Larsen as a child. He brought me back to Wesson and raised me as his own. You’re a rebel and a liar, and you’re trying to trick me, but I won’t fall for it.

“…And when I present you to him, frozen in Neverthaw’s ice, he will reward me.”

Roulette’s eyes snapped open in alarm. She reached out toward the boy, her lips forming the beginnings of a plea that would never come. Because a split second later, a gout of ice poured forth from his gun tip, subsuming she and Morgan both in a block of ice: eternal, unbreakable…


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