Monday, 16 April 2018

Black Lagoon Book 7

"A bullet is always waiting to go off. And the only thing that can fire a bullet is a gun" - Rock

 Back with the Black Lagoon company as we continue with the epic storyline "El Baile de la Muerte" [aka The Dance of Death]. The Lagoon company are couriers who operate out of Roanapur, a fictional Thai city full of various mafia,s triads and cartels. Set in the mid-1990's we have Dutch, an African-American Vietnam Vet, as the leader.  Benny, a white American on the run from the FBI is the tech support.  Revy "Two Hand" is a Chinese-American with a shady past who acts as the teams main muscle and finally we have Rock, a Japanese ex-salaryman who provides a more everyman viewpoint on the things they get involved with.  In book one of this series they tangled with Roberta, a Venezuelan guerrilla and terrorist who became a maid to the Lovelace family and retrieved Diego Lovelace's son Garcia when he was kidnapped.  Her sheer strength and firepower made her a force to be reckoned with and in the first part of this story Diego Lovelace was killed by a bomb at a left-wing political rally, seemingly planted by men related to the Venzuelan and US militaries.  Now Roberta is back in Roanapur and everyone wants to know why. The last book ended with another maid called Fabiola coming to the bar Revy and Rock were drinking at and she proved as much of a gun woman (well more of a gun girl) as Roberta.  And now the continuation.

[Note:  This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]

We begin with Dutch and Benny in a car speeding their way to the Yellow Flag where Fabiola is having a shoot-out with a cartel group led by the second-in-command Gustavo.  Revy and Rock are hiding behind the bar with Bao as he laments his bar being shot up again.  They recap what happened to Diego Lovelace and the bombing of the leftist political party that was being launched which he supported.  Unlike the other South American cartel leaders he was a liberal and was willing to show support to a people's party which put him in danger.   No one has taken responsibility for the crime, it's obvious Roberta wants revenge, but why is she in Roanapur.  Then a car with gunmen screams past.  Dutch loads his revolver and tells Benny to step on it.

Inside, Gustavo and Bao fight over the phone.  Bao doesn't want Gustavo ordering more men to come and shoot the place up.  But Gustavo manages to get hold of it and tells the men who drove past Dutch and Benny to fire their roof mounted minigun into the bar.  They unload it and half destroy the bar in the process. As Revy and Rock wait it out, Revy asks if "that little bitch get blown to bits yet?!"  Fabiola is still alive and shooting.
Savour this action because it's all you'll be getting this volume.
There is a lull in the action and she yells to the men that they have no reason to be loyal to their boss, "take the injured... and go back while you still can."  Revy grins saying that's "refreshing.  But she won't live long like that."  Fabiola then produces a huge double-barrelled, pump action shotgun from who-knows-where and starts firing again.  She faces the car mounted gun head on and pumps enough lead into the car to make it explode. The men retreat, while Gustavo screams at them to "come back, you cowards!"  The men here him and are suprised having thought him dead.  Meanwhile Fabiola stands in the wreckage and declares "this place is absolutely wretched."

She then calls out Rock's name, asking if he is still alive.   She says with Rock and Revy still alive it will be easier to find Roberta.  Bao meanwhile tells Gustavo to "get the fuck out" saying he'd like to see his face mangled by Fabiola's gun.  Gustavo then pops up and points a gun at Fabiola, but Revy puts a gun to his head.

Revy: "It's over, Gustavo. That little girl fucked you in the ass... and you wanna embarress yourself even more on top of that?"

She tells him when Roanapur starts treating you like a bitch you're out of business.  He backs off now and he has a chance tp get back on his feet, and he won't be known as the guy who shot a kid in the back.  Gustavo puts his gun down.  Fabiola tells him his men are "slimey and stupid.  And they stink like a stable".  This riles Gustavo but Revy cocks her gun and he backs off again and leaves saying next time they will be going down.

Dutch and Benny arrive just in time to see the cartel members who are still alive making their getaway.  They behold the mess the Yellow Flag bar is saying it's the worst they've seen it.  Dutch says he doubts Bao and Revy are among the corpses and they'll get the full story of what happened from them.

We cut to Triad leader Chang being informed of the cartel's movement down to the Yellow Flag.  Chang ponders what to do thinking it'll be too late to go to the Yellow Flag themselves now.  Chang is troubled by the presence of Roberta in Roanapur especially if she is who Balalaika says she is. They know she is here for revenge but the identity of her enemy still isn't clear.  He says he doesn't mind a crazy maid on a revenge spree as long as she doesn't harm them, "but what is really bothering me... someone is hiding out here that even I can't identify".
Chang.
That someone did the bombing with surgical precision, someone with that skill whose purpose they don't know is hiding out in Roanapur.  That rubs him up the wrong way.   His second-in-command, Biu says that they know the backgrounds of everyone in the city.  Chang says if these people have no need to buy guns, with power and skill, no greed and no need for money what would they want in this town?  Chang decides the Colombians are closest to the truth right now and they need to organise a visit without disrespecting them.  While he thinks about how to do that he puts his coat on and tells Biu it's time to take a walk and get introductions out of the way over a drink.

We then cut to the inside of Dutch's car. Benny is driving and Rock and Revy are in the back with Fabiola.  There is some banter between her and Revy then she tells them that Roberta is the "head matron" of all the maids at the Lovelace mansion.  But only Roberta and Fabiola are trained in ordinance, the others are just normal maids.  When asked if she knew about Roberta's background she shuts that line of questioning down.  Benny says not to push her and Dutch directs them to the Sung Kung Palace.

It is a luxury hotel, Fabiola asks for Revy's help getting out of the car.  They grasp hands and there is an... odd reaction from Revy.  Who then says to forget it and Fabiola leads them to meet Garcia Lovelace, a boy and now leader of the Lovelace family.  They enter his room and Chang is sitting there and he tells them they are late, he has some business with Garcia as well.

Fabiola rushes him in a rage telling him to "get away from the young master."  Chang keeps his cool and grabs her gun hand telling her he's not here for a shoot-out.  He says he is not here with "threats or ridicule" he just wants to speak to Garcia, nothing more or less.  Garcia tells Fabiola that he's telling the truth, so Fabiola backs off but tells him not to let his guard down.  She says "the people of this town are all scum!"
Meeting with Chang and Garcia.
Revy grins and says that's a way to talk about them.  Chang agrees that the city is a "cesspit filled with scum."  They should be suspicious of everything there.  One should remain observant until all the cards are dealt which is another way to find the truth. Dutch then asks if they can all come in, and Garcia invites them to come and sit dowm. Revy lights a cigarette but is scolded and told to ask permission from Garcia who says she should refrain, there are no ashtrays in the room.

Chang gives his condolence to Garcia and says "this isn't over.  Neither for you nor for us." Garcia agrees, they are here to resolve the Roberta issue but haven't been able to take the next step.  Rock asks Garcia if he can tell them what happened from the very beginning, they might see something that he couldn't.  Garcia thanks Rock for his concern and agrees to tell them.

He says that soon after the attack the police and military began treating it as a terrorist attack, the paramilitary group "Pueblo Alliance emerged as a suspect".  They were detained after the attack, one was released for lack of the evidence the rest deny the charges. Dutch says that it's too obvious a suspect, a right-wing group targeting a left-wing party.  Chang agrees, saying it's "suspicious."

Garcia continues saying Roberta had the same doubts, "that it made too much sense".   She said they had neither the skills nor the reason to carry out the attack. But the police are acting as if the case is solved and haven't spoken to them since the arrests.  Garcia says that they had almost given up and accepted the official position when "a certain person paid a visit".  This person was an officer of a paratroop unit aligned with the MVR.  They also had started their own investigation.

The MVR was started by General of the Venezuelan paratroopers interjects Benny, he had a lot of fanatical sympathisers within that unit.  Garcia agrees and goes on to say that he had strong ties to the department of defence.  He gave them all the information they had on backgrounds of all the staff present at the ceremony. They ran a search on those who disappeared a few days after the bombings with suspicious personal records.

They had identified six men with forged names who had been present at the ceremony and then disappeared.  They had been members of the Intelligence Bureau and left two months before the ceremony but they had turned up doing security for the ceremony.  Revy says that those men are nothing, they should leave it to Roberta to deal with them and go home.

Garcia says he wishes it was that easy but the story doesn't end there.  Fabiola shows them a photograph the general passed on to them, it was taken six months before the bombing by a military police officer investigating a different corruption case.  It shows Major Marcos of the Intelligence Bureau and five men.  They only know the name of one... and we get a flashback to Garcia speaking to Roberta who is extremely pensive. A concerned Garcia asks if she is OK and she says she is fine.
Garcia's last look at Roberta.
He tells her he is worried, she says that everything is being managed and he has plenty of help, so he mustn't worry. But Garcia says he is worried about her.  He says that since his father's funeral she has stopped talking.  She asks him if he remembers what happened "that night in Roanapur?"  He says he remembers.  She says that his father had been against her going and Garcia says he would have said the same in his position.  Roberta says "you really are his son". Garcia asks if she is going anywhere as they hold hands.  Roberta says that "Roberta... will always be near you."  But when they receieved that report, she disappeared says present day Garcia.

We then flashback to see Roberta at a market, she drops an orange and a man with a moustache goes to help her pick it up and offers her a lift.  But she tells him she recognises his face, and he stammers that she must be drunk this early in the day. He runs, saying no one should know he is here.  He tries to call someone saying his name is "Luciendez" in the process. But suddenly Roberta is in front of him in the alleyway.  She twirls her parasol saying he is "Major Marcos Jose Luciendez".

She whips the phone out of his hand at incredible speed then kicks him hard in the chest.  She says that she has met all his men but, "in the end... it seems only you have the information I am seeking."  Luciendez saying they were all to avoid each other until the mission was officially over "you tracked everyone down... and you killed them?!"  She grins a sinister grin and says if he spills his guts to her now, she will be "perfectly satisfied."

Then we return to the present and Garcia says that the General informed him that Luciendez's body was found on the outskirts of Carabono, "he was found with severe wounds below his knees".  Revy says he was tortured.  Chang ponders how she managed to track down all the men from a single photo, and hunted them "like the bloodhound she truly is."
Ooooh, all of the sitting down.
Garcia slams his hands down on the table saying she is not a bloodhound, "she is a member of my family".  He tells them not to use words like that about her again.  Chang apologises then says they should go back to the story, they don't know why she has come to Roanapur yet.

He tells them to look again, the men with Luciendez are caucasian, the second man on the right was tracked down after his death.  We cut to Roberta in a flashback.  The man tells her he is with the NSA, he is American.  "Special Office of Central American Policy Analyses and Special Programs, Officer in charge" she tells him.  He has been beaten and is tied to an iron stove.

She demands to know where his "dogs" are after telling him the Major gave him up and said they planned and executed the terrorist bombing that killed Diego Lovelace.  She picks up a hot coal and uses it to start heating the stove up.  The man screams threats as her as the stove gets hotter and hotter saying she'll be taking on all of America, that the President himself will blow her away. She grins her scary grin again and says "I'm looking forward to it."

Back with Garcia in the present, he confirms that a body was found outside of Caracus, it was "Colonel Simon Dickens" he was an active officer in the United States Army.  According to the paratroop officer who brought it to his attention the suspect was a woman who was seen fleeing the scene just before he was discovered.  She bought a ticket to Thailand via Miami and had reserved a long distance bus ticket to Roanapur.

Chang asks if they are certain the US officer was active.  Apparently he was one of the military attaches.  Revy says she doesn't like where this is headed, and what does he want with them anyway?  The Lovelace family are concerned for Roberta as she is one of the family, they want her home as soon as possible.  But they need assistance to find her.  And they want Rock especially.  They'll pay appropriate compensation for the use of him.  Rock looks at Dutch, and Dutch turns the offer down flat saying "we don't want any part of this." Fabiola asks why.

Revy: "Why?  Your head matron's planning on taking on everybody's friend Uncle Sam with her bare hands.  It's absolutely crazy. Who'd want any part of that madness?"

Chang agrees, saying the USA's it's unconventional forces, maybe something more than that.  Garcia says that knowing she is killing people pains him as much as losing his father.
Revy gives no shit for your childish tears.
He starts to cry saying that he is the only person in the world who can save her, and that she had told him they would always be together. Revy isn't sympathetic, "you came halfway around the world to start bawling."  She says maybe a hero will pop out of a Marvel comic.  Fabiola starts to yell at her but Garcia tells her to stop and that she is right.  He stops crying then apologises to them saying they will look for help elsewhere. Rock says he's changed quite a bit since he last saw him, he's "almost like an adult."

Garcia responds by saying his father is dead and Roberta has disappeared.  All the people he'd come to rely on are all gone.  That's why he's had to grow up faster than he should have.  Rock says to Dutch that he doesn't think it is a smart idea to let two kids run around in a town like Roanapur.  Chang says he'd love to see them leave the matter to him and return to Venezuela.  Rock says he doesn't mean that and Chang agrees saying his lie is that obvious.

He muses that the Colombians are also after Roberta.  They'll clash with Garcia sooner or later, "that's not good for this town or for us."  He says everyone is nervous of her because they know Balalaika moblised her commandos last time she was here.   Dutch says it has nothing to do with them again, it's up to the likes of Chang to run this town.  Chang say they are too big to move easily around town, but the Black Lagooners are familiar with the place and have a neutral stance on the matter, "and you're harmless."

Chang continues saying he can't force them to help him, if they stay out of it the Triad will search in their own way as will Garcia. If a problem does occur they can't have anything to do with it, they can't agitate the cartel without a reason.  Rock says slowly that the town wants Roberta out of the way as soon as possible and Garcia wants her back as soon as possible.

Rock: "If we can catch up to her before she reaches those soldiers... we'll have everything wrapped up nice and neat.  Isn't that right, Mr. Chang?"

Dutch says there is still the problem of the US soldiers.  Revy agrees saying they don't want to walk into a pile of shit, they can't take Roberta on with "a smile on your face."  She says she'll shoot them full of holes before they can even speak.
Benny speaks up.
Benny interrupts saying they don't have to decide now.  He asks if they can come back later once they make their descision because arguing about it now is troubling Garcia. Chang agrees and tells them to think it over.  He tells Garcia and Fabiola that if they don't secure the help of the Black Lagooners, they should get out of town because the Colombians will be there sooner rather than later.  As he leaves he whispers to Rock, "that boy'll have gray hairs before he turns twenty.  Think hard about it will you."  And he exits the room bidding everyone farewell.  Outside he tells Biu that Rock will do it, because that's the kind of compassionate guy Rock is.  Then he walks himself back saying "no that's not him.." but their ghosts finally have a name, they are soldiers and they need to fight them with soldiers, "we have to move the pieces on the board carefully" Chang says as they drive off.

We rejoin the Black Lagooners also driving.  They discuss taking the job on, that it's like finding a cat only this cat is a Siberian Tiger. Revy says that this means the moment you open the closet you get bitten clean in half.  They haven't forgotten the matter of the soldiers have they?  Dutch says if they reach her before he does, "walk away."  He says as Rock's boss and there is no arguing, it's a delicate matter that concerns all of them. 

Dutch: "Rock.  There's a flow to things just like water.  If you dig a channel to try and change the flow... if can change dramatically eve if that channel's as shallow a gutter... it'll become an unpredictable current that could come back to haunt you."

Whatever happens to Garcia or Fabiola, they have to look out for themselves.  If he can't understand that, he wants him off the boat for good.  That's all he has to say, "the rest is up to you."

Back at the hotel Garcia keeps asking Fabiola to check if Rock has arrived or left any messages. She says that people like them are all lying cowards and he shouldn't be so trusting.  Garcia says they can't be sat here doing nothing, Fabiola says she'll make another trip through town, maybe she'll find a clue.  She opens the door.... and there are Rock and Benny.  Rock says he thought he may as well come in person, "so here we are!  Is something wrong?"

We begin the next chapter with the Major, the leader of the US soldiers having a nightmare.  Back in 'Nam two soldiers, Caxton and Larkin are fighting over the committing of a war crime against a Vietnamese village.  Caxton wants to stop Larkin killing everyone, they clash and the Major wakes up.  As he is only referred to as Major I don't know which one he was yet, but he wakes in a cold sweat and grips his gun for comfort.
Bad dreams for the US major.
Another soldier comes in called Ray and offers him coffee. They are stuck in Roanapur due to border tensions which is holding up their mission.  As they discuss previous missions, the Major looks out of the window and says the city feels like Saigon back during the Vietnam War. He says the only thing that is different is the language and no police directing traffic, "it's repulsive.. sickening."

We then cut to Rock who asks Fabiola why she is staring at him.  The four of them are walking out to the car and she admits she didn't expect him to come.  Rock says "I just thought... it might be fun."  They head for Bao's place, the bar The Yellow Flag to ask him about Roberta's visit there.

They arrive and find him soaking in an inflatable tub with several young women of ill repute.  He says there is nothing left to break because of Fabiola so he's cooling off with with some ladies from the upstairs brothel.  Garcia questions Fabiola who admits that there was some "collateral damage."   Garcia says he asked her to be discreet.

Then the brothel Madam, Flora, appears and squeezes Rock in a big hug. Bao tells them who he is, and she says he should come and meet her after they are done with the repairs.  Rock extricates himself and they start questioning Bao.  He gets out of the tub saying he doesn't want to talk about it.  Rock says it's a personal request from Mr. Chang so Bao relents and tells his story.

Roberta asks him "all the places I need to visit to start a war".  He tells her that no one will sell her an armory without an introduction.  So she says he can provide her with one.   But when he denies, she shatters the bottle in her fist saying "perhaps you think... this is a joke or a whim?"  He tells Rock and the others that as he rang round making the calls for her, she was chomping down pills like they were Doritos.  He tells them where he called including the underground doctor for more pills.  That's all he has left to say.  Then he asks where Revy is, saying they'll need her if they have to fight.
Eda teases Revy over cards.
She is playing cards with Eda, nun in the Rip-Off Church (the main gunrunners in Roanapur) and undercover CIA agent.  Revy loses to her again and grumbles a lot.  Eda then asks Revy why she won't have sex with Rock?  Revy aggressively dodges the question.   Eda says Rock could make his name on this, but Revy says if he pokes around the wrong way they all go down in flames.

Eda asks if she is scared of Roberta?  Revy says it's not her who bothers her, it's the men she is chasing. "The United States Military?" says Eda thoughtfully.  She wants to know what those soldiers are doing in Roanapur.  Revy says she doesn't know but Chang is worried and "nothing ever good ever comes out of the government getting involved."

Eda asks if Revy will help him, "considering what he's up against." Revy says he needs to get his ass kicked once in a while.  He'll get an important lesson in crisis management says Eda but up against the US Military he's in real trouble.

Eda: "If sparks are gonna fly at least let him know which way the wind's blowing.  I'm pretty sure Mr. Chang asked to expect that."

She says he can't do it alone dragging two kids around town with him.  Revy says when he comes back with his tail between his legs "then... maybe... I'll think about it." Eda says she'll "pray that's what happens."  And Revy loses to her again.

Rock is sitting eating with Benny, Garcia and Fabiola.  She is mad because all the places Bao had directed them to were pretending to be closed.  Benny says they really need someone like Revy or Dutch with them, no one is taking them seriously.  Rock asks why Roanapur doesn't faze Fabiola, "where does that nerve come from?"  She says she is used to towns full of scum and idiots.

Garcia says she is from the barrio, an imporverished area in the suburbs of Caracus.   She joined the help after the Lovelace's mining operations.  Fabiola says her family is dirt poor and there were eleven of them.  If she went to work she be less of a burden on her family.  She is grateful to the young master for the opportunity to climb out of poverty.

Rock asks if that is where she learned her "fancy kicks" and gun skills?   This nets him a shin kick from her, then they finish up their food as she explains she is doing Capoeira.  She picked it up watching a man who was attending a nearby school.  Garcia says that is so cool and she should show him sometime.  She blushes saying she is self taught so she is nothing special. She says that someone who knows it should moderate it, which is why she thought it was worth learning.

Benny says you can't apply that logic in Roanapur, in this town you need to be ready to pull the trigger.  Garcia says acting on instinct allows for brutality and that's a bad thing.  Roberta couldn't resist that, but he doesn't want it to happen to him and Fabiola.  Benny insists "in terms of right and wrong, this town is all wrong."  Their views are unrealistic, if there is a goal they need to achieve they need to deal with it appropriately.   They make a move and Rock tells Benny he is surprised to hear him say that.  Benny says it doesn't feel so great when children die.   They are doing what they can for them.

Benny: "How much do you have to steel your soul. To get over a stranger's death? That's why I don't intend to test myself in this town either.  Or get too deeply involved like you Rock."

We then cut to Balalaika's office. She is the scarred, hard bitten leader of the Russian mafia in Roanapur called "Hotel Moscow."  Chang has called her for a meeting, he apparently wants to share his information on Roberta with them.

Balalaika says it is such a fuss over one maid.  Her second-in-command, the sergeant, tells her Roberta is here out of revenge and tells her about the bombing of the political rally.  She asks him what his interpretation of the scenarios involving her are.  He says he believes the bombing was the work of a third party political organisation.  She says if that is true, "that's good enough reason for Chang to be frightened.  Very interesting.  This should be fun, eh, sergeant?"
Instant Awesome: Just add Balalaika.
We then cut to Eda, he hair loose sitting politely in full CIA mode talking with Mother Superior Yolanda about the targets of Roberta's wrath.  She tells her that it's a definite thing they are US soldiers being tracked down.  Eda says it may becoming necessary to use the intelligence gathering resources of the church.  Yolanda says it's a "turf war between the NSA and CIA".   The bombing was done without the CIA's knowledge or consent, "makes me sick" says Eda.

She tells Yolanda she can consider that the CIA's collective opinion.   Yolanda says they'll start looking for the NSA in the city, it would be great if they could continue to share information.  Eda says her boss will contact Yolanda shortly to talk about fees.  Back to the Roberta problem and they discuss Chang taking the lead.  She'll acquire the minutes of the meeting he'll be having.  Eda says she'll get it herself so there are no leaks.  Yolanda warns about who she is dealing with, "some advice from an old lady".  But Eda confidently puts her wimple back over her head.

Rock and Benny are driving together having dropped Garcia and Fabiola somewhere safe.  Apparently Rock had a encounter trying to save a child he thought was drowning and got called a child molester for his trouble.  Suddenly the mafia go screaming past.  Benny tells Rock they are heading to a "network meeting" about dealing with Roberta and her adversaries.  Benny says the large numbers show they are nervous, the problem doesn't end with Roberta it's all part of the problem.

Benny: "Today's meeting will decide her fate... regardless of what Garcia wants or doesn't want. We don't have much time left."

Benny says the water is flowing round their feet, Garcia too.  Dutch say they had to "distinguish the divide."  Rock says what if the divide is further down abd you can only see it at the moment of impact.

Balalaika enters the meeting room with a flourish.  After a pat down and the handing over of her weapons she joins the other criminal organisation leaders.  There is some barbed banter between Balalaika and the others but she isn't intimdated. Chang gets them to focus on the matter at hand, what to do about Roberta?

He tells them that her object is revenge and the reasons why.   There is more arguments between a couple of the leaders and they start to get on Balalaika's nerves.  One of them calls her "you stinkin' Russian bitch" and this causes Chang to smash his foot on the table getting their attention again.  He says are they going to break up before they even get to the agenda?   The others fall silent.
MOAR SITTING.
He goes on to tell them who her targets are and that they are in town under orders from higher up. Why they are and what they want he doesn't know.  He asks Mr. Abrego, leader of the Colombians, what they know having been involved in the matter first.  He says that they weren't involved with the bombing, that Roberta is still FARC's no.1 most wanted terrorist and they couldn't move until she did.  The mansion was under constant surveillance, but she got out.

He goes on to say that they have orders to bring her head back to their homeland base, "as long as she's alive nobody back home can sleep in peace."  He says that no matter what happens they'll hunt the maid down, nobody better get in their way and if they do they won't hold back.  Balalaika says, "I thought they were a bunch of cowards, but actually they do have some balls."

She says they can do whatever they want to Roberta, "we don't care one bit." Abrego says as long as there is no interference.  Another leader says they should put a bounty on Roberta's head, "civilised people don't kill if it doesn't involve money".  Balalaika sneers at him.  She says her energy isn't directed at Roberta but the men she is after, "the best strategy would be to wipe them out before they can carry out their plan."

When one of the leaders calls her crazy for considering it,  she says it's a problem people with interests in this town need to deal with.  She is accused of being a commie who just has it in for America.   Abrego says he wants nothing to do with the Americans. Chang is asked what he thinks.  He just sits in thought.

Then he gives a speech, about how it's taken 35 years for Roanapur to become a den of vice.  It's managed to stay under the news radar, the motives of people who gather there is always consistant. "We make the laws" he says, "a modern day libertalia, a tainted 'elsewhere'".  Because of their tireless hardwork they have turned the city into their "hide-out".  They are more "closed off, more vulgar and more exciting" than places like El Rey, Johannasburg or Anglo-Town.

It is full of energy but it's delicate and fragile "once we allow the light to shine in, there is nobody to protect us." They should avoid a head-to-head clash with the US soldiers until the very last moment.  He says "the Triad acts with the survival of this town in mind." When it becomes apparent the soldiers are there to meddle in local affairs they should allow the Triad to deal with them.

Chang: "Please remember this. If we continue suspecting each other, continue pursuing our own self-interests.  Who do you think will be left standing in the ring at the end... there won't be anybody there.  Ladies and gentlemen. Not you. Not me. Not even the ring itself."

And with that we finally catch up with what Roberta has been up to.   She prays in Spanish about carrying out her "divine plan" and having the strength to continue.  A shadowy figure tells her to stop taking the pills, she's over medicating herself.  He asks her if she has any intention of returning to the mansion and Garcia.  "He loves you" says the man "and you love him.  You love each other like family.  Why don't you hold onto that?"
Roberta having a good pray.
He says is what she doing really revenge?   She says that is merely a motive, what he is looking at now is "somewhere completely different". Her sins are her own.  She stammers over saying that Garcia shouldn't have been forced into such responsibility.  What she is doing is "atonement". 

The man flatly tells her the path she is on is not atonement while she has the responsibility to Garcia.  No revenge. No prayer for forgiveness.  Not even death will bring atonement, "continue on this path... will only lead you to another hell." She tells him to shut up. He looks sad and says she is about to return to what she once was, when the fire of revolution burned inside her. A man comes in and Roberta immediately goes for him, but he is a man called Leroy who is known to her. He has brought something for her, the clothes and other things she asked for.  He asks who she was talking too, the room is empty.

Meanwhile Rock has come begging to Revy saying he needs her help.  She dangles upside down from an exercise bar as he tells her everyone he tried to talk to once they knew what he was asking about.  Revy asks him why he cares so much about Garcia. Rock says when a child is in trouble you help them, "that's the right thing to do".  Revy dismisses that as a textbook answer.  Then she asks what he hopes to gain from all this. Rock says "gain" is all this town ever cares about.  Revy says that like it or not that's how the world works. 

They talk some more then Revy asks him what his take is on the situation.  He says he'll get a reward from Garcia, pocket money from Chang and "self-satisfaction."  She says it's like when they were in Japan (see book five) and he tried to save the girl who briefly led a Yakuza family but who killed herself in front of him.  She takes her clothes off and gets into the shower still smoking, still talking with Rock.

Revy: "Do you ever consider me?  Who follows you in there?"

He says she is there for when he needs her most and he is grateful for that. She harruphs at that but he says it's true. She says that she isn't his nanny or parole officer, how is she supposed to live with what he does?  She says that when they were in Japan he called her the gun, Rock says "if you're the gun... I'm the bullet."
A sexy bullet and gun say the shippers.
She gets out of the shower while is saying that a bullet is just a piece of lead, but it has the power to blow everything away.  He says if he had never met Revy he would have just spent his life "just being a piece of lead."  It's always waiting to go off and the only thing that can fire it is a gun.

Revy says he's a silver bullet that doesn't know where it's going.  It's an expensive one that can kill invincible monsters, "but use it at the wrong moment, it's all over.  The monster's eats you."  She asks if he'll use it when it comes time to pull the trigger?  Rock says that from here on out so from now on it's her choice.  She puts her underwear on and sends him to get more water from the vending machine.  When he goes she says to herself, "that bastard... Goddammit."  She gets dressed and comes down and places a bullet in his hand saying they should get going, "let's get this over with."   

We then see Garcia sleeping on a sofa.  Fabiola check on him and seeing he's out of it and puts on a bathing suit and has a nice swim in the water by where they are staying.  She surfaces only to be confronted by a grinning Revy he says Fabiola is in a good mood.  She notes Fabiola came prepared for water.  Fabiola stammers that she bought the stuff when she was searching before.  She says it's nothing to do with Revy and Revy agrees.

After some more teasing all four of them get in the car, Rock drives with Revy next to him and Garcia and Fabiola in the   back.  Revy asks if there are pools where Fabiola comes from and Fabiola retorts that Veneuzula is not an undeveloped country.   She says the mansion has a huge fountain but she would be mad to swim in it.  Garcia asks if she thinks he wouldn't allow it? 

Revy tells Garcia that while they were out running around looking for Roberta, Fabiola has been watching his every move.  He is the boss but she can't relax around him running round like he is.  But she is loyal to him, deeply.  Fabiola attacks her for her cheek towards Garcia.  Garcia says Revy is in a rush it's true, he shouldn't have worried her.   Fabiola says it's natural to feel rushed, "I've been inconsiderate of my position". Rock tells him with Revy, Roberta should be in his reach soon.  The hard part is going to be capturing her, and disentangling her from the men she is after.
Toys for the girls.
They arrive at a gunsmith store so he can take a look at one of her guns.  Fabiola is very taken with an assault rifle on the wall.  The gunsmith asks if she wants arming up too.  Rock realises this means Roberta was here.  The gunsmith confirms it was the taller, bespectacled version of Fabiola he served.  He hands back Revy's gun  and takes her other saying he served her on Bao's recommendation.  Revy asks if she wanted guns, he says already had her own piece, a eighteenth century flintlock rifle.

Garcia has a realisation that she had taken one of the guns on display in the mansion.  The gunsmith goes on to say it had been so well cared for he only had to replace the lead spring and correct the warp of the frizzen.  It needed gunpowder to charge it, but that's not his thing.  He directed her to "Blaster" Tow Chi.

Revy says she figured as much.  The gunsmith scolds Revy for banging her gun and misaligning the grip.  She says she'll have to get it fixed another time as she doesn't have a back-up piece and they are on a tight schedule.   As Revy and the others move to leave, the gunsmith asks what Roberta hopes to achieve with the antique gun.  "Payback" and "going postal" replies Revy.  And off they drive to their next contact.

They arrive a Tow Chi's place which Fabiola calls a dump.  But he's paranoid, and has wired up several explosives in the corridor to his home.  They disarm them, then Revy kicks his door down. He appears, mollified that it's Revy but then sees Fabiola and points a gun at her saying he is an advance guard of the Mars attack corps.  He is also wearing a tinfoil hat.

Revy tells him she is one of the good aliens and whispers to her to play along. Tow Chi babbles some more conspiracy theory bobbins.  Revy manages to get her and Fabiola inside by telling him he has no need to fear the illuminat or world government as they have invented a "new super space secret".

He slumps on his sofa and says that came through four days ago asking for flints and gunpowder.  Revy says doesn't he mean a woman?  But Tow Chi says it was definitely a man.   He says he can't remember the man's name, but one "fix" could help him remember.   Revy threatens him and Tow Chi quickly recalls he was called "Richie Leroy."  We finish with Leroy inspecting Roberta in her new clothes, as she snaps on a glove she says she doesn't know how she can thank him for getting all the stuff.  And that... finally brings this volume to an end.


Roberta's new look.
I have to say I found writing up this book to be a turgid experience.  There are some real pacing problems with the story-telling when there are no gunfights and action scenes to break things up a bit.  We get a lot of scenes where people explain the same thing to each other over and over and the more complex the writing the harder it obviously has been for the translators to make it flow more naturally.  Part of this is an understandable problem when a weekly or monthly manga story is compiled into book format which of course doesn't need to have the plot recapped like the original serialisation did.  There are some interesting moments,  Rock and Revy's conversation while she showered is notable for it's total lack of sexual tension.  These are comrades and they can be as relaxed around each other as anyone can.  I liked Rock thinking of him and Revy as the bullet and the gun.  They make a good team and much as Revy resists, she knows it too and wants to watch Rock's back.  There is the typical Black Lagoon craziness at the start when a teenage, gun wielding, capoeira fighting maid can take on a cartel hit squad and wina.   But she and Garcia's loyalty to Roberta, a woman so dangerous in the pursuit of the US soldiers who killed Garcia's dad that all the heads of the crime organisations actually sat down together to figure out what to do, it's sweet.  And it's interesting how much Roberta has fractured, popping pills, talking with a man in her head and finally removing her maid outfit for her revolutionary clothes as she becomes the soldier she needs to be to take the US military on.  Finally the CIA finding out about the NSA's operation adds an interesting wrinkle that might pan out into something bigger later on.  For now the Rip-Off Church will stay on the sidelines and gather info on everything that's going on.  So apologies if this is a bit of a trudge to read, even the author apologises for the lack of action in this volume, but promises more for the next one.  We shall see if he was true to his word in a few days time.

2 comments:

  1. "Revy asks if there are pools where Fabiola comes from and Fabiola retorts that Veneuzula is not an undeveloped country"

    Well, it IS now.

    Thanks, Nicolas Maduro!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This thanks is foremost to Ugo Chavez.Actually he ruled for more than Ten Years,he's the First we should blame about!

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