A/N: Hello there, fine readers! Here is the chapter as promised (actually a few hours ahead of schedule, I was planning to finish the chapter this morning and upload it once I got back from work later tonight. But since I have the time right now, I see no reason to hold it back any longer!).
Again, you've had to wait for quite a while for the continuation, my deepest apologies. My new job and other factors previously explained on my profile have kept me from completing this update sooner. Anyway, I'll explain everything at the author's note at the bottom. For the meantime, enjoy the wrap-up of the role reversal!
I haven't proof-read this chapter just yet, so my advanced apologies for any spelling or grammar issues that I didn't find during the writing process.
'The Diary of an Ex Businessman'
A Black Lagoon Fan Fiction
Chapter 10 – 'Role Reversal (Part Two)'
'Understatement of the Day' award goes to…'
It should be noted that in the face of a worthy adversary, even a man's best laid plans can be burnt to ashes through a turn of [bad] luck, a momentary tactic of pure genius, a bit of both…or just the fact you're completely outgunned in every possible manner.
That was the situation aboard a gunmetal grey Elco-type PT boat sat idling in the presence of a calmly cascading waterfall. The river had led them this far before the water chose to travel vertically instead of horizontally, the ultimate [and most blatantly obvious] getaway killer for a boat. But it wasn't like they chose that route; their technologically superior opponents had teased them like the proverbial cat and mouse and bottlenecked their retreat through the delta. The only way out was the direction from which they had come but along that path, steadily hovering above the earth as if the air itself was solid, was a Mil Mi-24A attack helicopter.
As the Russian's answer to the riddle of an infantry-carrying aerial tank, something the Americans had not yet devised in the late 60s/early 70s, the Hind-A was a sleek and hulking monolith of aluminium, titanium and bulletproof glass, a behemoth whose shadow was the last thing to embrace its victims. At least the waterborne pirates had a legitimate reason to be worried.
"Now what gave you that idea? Was it the rocket pods, the missiles or the dead end that turned on that light bulb upstairs?" Through a haze of cigarette smoke she saw Dutch staring motionlessly at the world beaming in through the windshield while his sarcastic retort canned off the dented and scorched walls. She heard Rock scoff beside her.
"Are we playing the 'last word' game now? 'Cause I'm not going out before I get to call you an asshole."
Dutch's low chortle was lost against her clambering brain. Within the space of almost eight hours her situation had gone from shit, to shittier, to shittiest. Time had already started to sew into a seamless tapestry of despair and violence with no downtime, all she could remember was the gunfight at the bar and smelling death for the first time; and immediately after being told that she would be abandoned near what Dutch described as a 'not-so-scummy' port town as they made their escape out to sea.
She now knew to savour moments of peace and quiet like they were the last Ferrero Roche in the box, their new quarry had sprung up on them like a typical safari predator and given them new wounds to lick after hiding, but it wasn't like they'd ever heal once the ordeal would soon come to its denouement. Extra Order, according to Dutch, was a mercenary organisation filled with egotistical war junkies. They savoured the fight, the rush of combat, the kind of people who considered the thrill greater than sex, drugs - possibly rock 'n' roll - and alcohol combined. Unfortunately, the death of the four wayward souls inside the floating to-be sarcophagus was to become their next fix.
Rock had proposed waiting them out, but their hiding place provided no cover. The rock faces around the waterfall were sturdy granite and the surrounding forest, even for all its lusciousness, gave no sympathy by allowing the position an open view from the air. On top of that, it would have been no hassle for the flying obelisk to simply follow the river to their location and snuff them out if they felt the standoff had become too tedious.
But that's what confused her: the standoff. Why were they waiting? Unlike a boat, a helicopter was built with the purpose of defeating that small little thing called 'gravity'. The Lagoon was magnetised to the water's surface, while the Hind had all kinds of ease in simply changing the angle of the main rotor blades and hopping over obstacles such as buildings, trees in the jungle…and even that random grounded, overturned and rusty shipwreck to grab the kill.
So she wondered again: why sit idle when the fruit of the effort is ripe for picking?
Being of a business background, experience had given her an innate ability to sensually multitask. She could easily scribble coffee requests on a notepad in shorthand whilst mentally logging a list of errands set down by her boss as both were being nonchalantly thrown in her direction. Having such talent was a sure-fire advantage in all areas of life, and it was shining through as she stayed her tongue to sit back and take in the situation whilst listening to Dutch lament about the onboard Mark 13 torpedoes, how he naively believed that jettisoning them would somehow prove beneficial.
But there had been two small turns of phrase that had her attention. The torpedoes, should their Torpex warheads become ruptured by loose rounds, were sure to blow them to kingdom come, and the basic profile of the EO pilot that the bulky captain had provided was just another piece to add to the puzzle swimming through her synapses.
She had felt the speed of this boat first hand, it was capable of 35 knots and upwards, which was nippy to say the least. That was factor number one.
While an anti-materiel rifle, Remington 700 sniper rifle and a flare gun would be like throwing marshmallows at a tank, the boat possessed 4 torpedoes packing high-explosives. One was often enough to take out an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate. Factor two.
She had watched from the cabin as the Hind shrank away in the distance following their initial escape, and she didn't miss the pilot's habit of low-level manoeuvring. Factor three.
And then add to that factor four: The overturned ship they had passed to get to their current location, whose sloped hull was prostrate, bare and at the behest of the elements.
Everything was just…right.
Dutch had voiced his observation of how they were blatantly being toyed with, and it made sense to her. The Hind had first fired upon them to startle them, and after that it had only used indirect fire to block their escape and force their hand; the boat could only go where the pilot would let them. Just as Dutch said, it was all a game to them.
So who was saying that they weren't allowed to play right back?
She had become acutely aware that something upstairs had snapped after the less pressing revelation of her possible death. Barely five minutes before the helicopter had come to ruin her day, her new entourage managed to get in touch with her boss. And for all her trauma and tribulations he was holding her out like a carrot on a stick. The disc she once carried had been compromised, and now she was to become collateral in her own company's attempts to destroy it. To put it lightly, it pissed her off, being considered such an expendable waste. She was naturally within her rights to be more than angry, this was her life he was trying to bury, after all.
It could have been borne of desperation, impending madness or just a ridiculous amount of self-confidence, but she knew she wasn't going to bite the bullet without first baring her teeth in rabid defiance.
That was the first time she had regarded him by his name, and it made his head turn toward her. For the first time since the entire ordeal began, Dutch felt nervous; that smirk on her face was not befitting a sane figure.
"Are you fly for a game of chicken?"
She had to give herself credit for thinking of such a fucking insane plan, but she had to give Dutch even more credit for damn well going along with it. Benny was apprehensive, as was common with computer geeks, while Rock almost whooped in joy at the prospect like a kid being told they were going to Disneyland. The adrenaline coursing through her like electricity was playing havoc on her brain, and even as the Hind sat low in the air along the only alley of water they could travel down, staring straight at them over the shipwreck, her face was split with the most inappropriate smile.
Regrets? Pah! If this was her time, then she'd prefer to do it in as flamboyant a fashion as possible; and what better way than going head-to-head with a helicopter using a PT boat?
She ambled in a comforting weightlessness every time the hull bounded off the crests, and every hard impact as it fell back into the water felt like the boat taking another step in a long and fateful run up. She had already sampled her first experience of pulling a trigger by now, having fired a flare gun to distract the two IR-seeking missiles the Hind had sent to try and quickly finish the job. And now they were heading straight for the downed ship that sat withering on the riverbank, its rusty hull exposed and, thanks to Dutch's approach bearing, perfectly in line with their chicken counterpart.
The sun gleamed; the water shimmered and dazzled, the boat's engine roared in its rebellious charge, the helicopter hummed and dithered with renewed anticipation of the coming contact, twitching in readiness of the pilot's next control input.
But most importantly, the torpedoes were primed.
"I'd prefer to make it through this, but if not I just want it on the record that you picked up one hell of a haywire bitch, Rock." Dutch's voice carried over the muffled sounds of sea splash and engine revs, but the thought of what was about to come simply widened the grin on both her and Rock's faces.
"Just drive the fucking boat, I wanna watch the show!" Rock replied as he braced himself against the wall of the cabin in eagerness. Benny, meanwhile, had taken to hiding in the confinement of his 'tech area', hoping that the lesser the space there was to move around, the more cushioning he'd have from what was to come. But it was then that the same two words from the bar fell forth from his lips upon realising that none of his equipment was either tied secure or effectively nailed down.
But it was sure as hell too late to do anything about it; their point of safe return was all the way back-
Actually, the point of safe return never existed when they thought about it. If they had stayed in Roanapur, they'd be dead. If they kept moving, they'd probably be dead. Though right now, it was 50/50 on the advancement front; do or die, a precipice leaning over a bottomless pit lined with razor wire and spikes. They could jump and make it through, or they could jump and just get plain skewered, punctured and all other kinds of synonyms that reflected a painful demise.
Without any word of warning the vessel violently juddered as hull ground against hull, she protested in a screeching whine as momentum forced her up and out of the water, laying the whirring propellers naked to the air, the excess dripping from the blades acting like tears of temporary pain.
And then it all stopped.
Their ramp had transformed into nothingness, and gravity's reclaiming grasp was already preparing to bring her back down. The Hind had moved in for the close-quarter kill, only thirty-or-so metres of clearance between boat and helicopter as they floated face to face above the earth.
"One and two away!"
She heard Dutch shout something, but the boat had started to sink faster than her lighter body, and so she hovered in near zero-G captivated by the weightless cans and cigarette butts that danced in an improvised ballet across her jade eyes. But beyond her near sight, right through the windshield, was the goliath-like menace that was intent on their death. The silhouettes of the pilot and gunner were entrenched in a malicious darkness that allowed them to be seen even through the sun glare reflecting off the bullet-proof glass of the canopy.
But as quickly as she had caught it, the boat was finally ensnared and began to plummet. Even as the bow tipped to the blue river surface, giving them an idea of a time of impact, she used her purchase on one of the cabin handles to turn and stare with maniacal anticipation out of the open hatch above her. With all of the objects and people rattling inside, she knew she wasn't going to able to hear whether her plan was a success or not. Even so, her waiting paid off as their pursuer passed over…
…with a massive grey-bodied cylinder wedged right in the cockpit as it fell in a fatal descent.
As if in a rodeo, she screamed at the top her lungs with a grin on her face as her 'steed' rocked and jolted.
"Ha-ha! I fucked you, you son of a bitch!"
She caught the signs of the early birthing of a fireball, but the rapid deceleration of the boat finally kicked in as it landed back on terra firma. Her unharnessed body was caught by inertia and flung backwards toward the front of the cabin.
Once again, darkness reigned.
This was starting to disorientate her…
When her vision had faded out from black and into normalcy, a heavy wind was blasting right into her face, forcing her eyes to unwillingly weep. She wiped a hand across her face and scanned the surroundings to find herself still on the boat and observing from the crow's nest above the cabin, only instead of a river they were gliding along the open sea with two small land masses in their wake.
But they weren't the only ones.
With three to both port and starboard and one far aft, the larger PT boat was surrounded by a miniature armada of Vietnam war-era river boats. The imagery mimicked a pack of starving hyenas teasing a lone water buffalo.
"Rock…this one's all yours." A canny interpretation of Dutch's murmur bled into her ear through the radio headset sat there. His tone was almost devoid of emotion, a harsh drone expelled with dire earnest and a vehement order of non-negotiation.
'So I guess as a child you and your friends had some spud guns in the playground and got in little arguments about who shot who first?' She had asked.
His eyes hollowed.
"Rock…what are you-", she began to regard the man stood at the bow, armed with a long and tubular projectile weapon. A smaller weapon was lashed to his left hip; it was pistol-shaped but possessed a longer and bulkier barrel.
"Rev, you're a part of our world now. You can shut up, keep the channel clear, and just watch. Benny, which one's closest?" His voice was flat and unemotional, even though his back was to her she could imagine his gaze locked in a thousand-yard stare despite the heavy wind.
"Immediate left; nine o'clock."
"Then that's first." He was already walking to the port side.
The first green hyena listed to the right, the goons aboard brandishing their firearms much like 18th Century pirates would their swords and muskets as they readied a boarding party.
After all: To the victor the spoils.
Rock just stared down the approaching vessel, scanning it and those aboard in an assessment and comparison of power. In his eyes, the odds looked bad.
Bad for them.
No further thought went into his actions, the large weapon in his hand was levelled at the boat and the trigger was pulled. The large barrel spat a rotund shell that whistled through the smoke of its ignited gunpowder and laid all guidance to its master's aim. The free-travelling shell soon burst against the boat's starboard panelling, triggering a large explosion that shook the vehicle and forcibly ejected some of its passengers into the azure tides.
'No one ever shoots before me.' He flatly responded, a calculated gaze adorning his features as his eyes sought the horizon.
He spun on his toes and sprinted for the starboard side. She stood bedazzled as he leapt across the watery crevice splitting him from his target. Two men on the river boat marking his landing spot were dead before their attacker had gotten his feet on the deck.
'Anyone who's tried doesn't exist anymore. There's no arguing in shooting first, you just do it. You learn things quicker when you're a starving ten-year-old taking lives just to get another bowl of rice.' The misanthropy in his tone had her leaning back in unease. She watched his face, wrapped in sceptical disbelief at his claims.
But when he turned his head to her, glazed eyes boring straight into her retinas, she somehow knew. It was something that left a twinge deep inside her chest. No, deeper than that, it didn't even feel physical, maybe even ethereal, as if she knew about this ungodly truth in some other life…
Even through the restricted sight of her binoculars, she watched as he ducked, weaved, punched, butted and downright annihilated the crew aboard the second of seven boats. The PM-63 RAK in his left hand expelled bright orange flashes with every pull of the trigger. High speed lead punctured flesh and spattered red into the air like a gore-oriented Pollock painting.
'Have you ever put a bullet in an old guy's skull just for a meal ticket?'
The fools in their little green boats were dumb enough to stay close to one another. Rock had line of sight on all of them, and an apparent jumping distance on two. Something in her head latched on; but it wasn't just a hint of common logic, it was more a deep seated feeling of belonging. She didn't believe out of assumption, she knew it was a grenade launcher. An M79, commonly nicknamed a 'Thumper' amongst others, fired 40mm rounds of various types including high explosives and flechettes. It was a lethal anti-infantry weapon. And, given the ammunition type Rock was using, it was handling the aluminium adversaries with ease.
'Of course not', she had replied.
It wasn't long before one boat remained and turned tail to retreat. The Lagoon had already picked up Rock from the final corpse-riddled vessel that writ the tale of his close-quarters prowess.
She had counted the time of the entire engagement on her dirtied watch. Three minutes and forty-two seconds. That was how long it took Rock to single-handedly take out six boats. It happened too fast for her to count every single individual, but if she were to average it based on the first boat, the kill count was looking to be about 36.
'Then don't fucking joke.' His flat tone contrasted the way he seemed to snap at her.
The final enemy vessel had attempted to turn tail in the face of its friends' annihilation. It was all for nought, however, as Rock launched a well-aimed shot as he stood at the stern with a look of indignant concentration. The boat in the distance at first appeared safe, but only seconds later it was erupting in a twisted fireworks display of sparks and beautifully blooming fireballs.
"Who's up for pulling some fingernails? I feel that a visit to Chin is on the cards." Dutch's question crackled over the hard breeze from the headset into her ear.
"I'm not one for constant violence, but they always say that revenge is sweet." At Benny's response, Rock was breaking the launcher and throwing the last spent grenade casing into the Lagoon's white-washing wake. He turned on his heel and headed back to the cabin, most likely for a beer. But as he trundled back in what she believed to be a disturbing ease, he had caught her bewildered gaze.
And then he winked at her.
As the boat levelled out from its swift bank to head back to Roanapur, the environment began to deform in a manner not dissimilar from a sci-fi hyperdrive sequence. The boat and everything else in front of her started to stretch towards a singularity on the horizon in a nauseating interpretation of spaghettification. The image of seagulls hovering nearby smeared over and transformed into plain white streaks that mimicked shooting stars, and the waving ocean beneath them smudged into a single matte block of two-dimensional colour in an optical illusion of astounding speed. The horizon grew bright and brighter, almost blinding her.
At last, a powerful burst of pure white light consumed her.
She heard the voice, clear as day. Even so, the light continued to fill her sight, and she was forced to shield her eyes and squint. The flashlight was redirected to her stomach, but provided her retinas only a small amount of relief. Her readjusting eyes could barely discern his silhouette from the black fog that consumed the world behind him. His hair was almost completely camouflaged, and his motionless posture of judgemental curiosity giving him the look of a nightmarish department store mannequin.
"The fuck's up with you?"
'I went scuba diving once…'
'I always thought about doing it again…'
The claustrophobic nature of her surroundings finally caught on. The apparent nothingness behind Rock was at first unnerving, but she glanced around to take it all in. Rust-peppered metal covered everything the walls to the floor, ceiling…even the frames of the bunk beds around her. But that paled in comparison to the three barely-preserved remains strewn around her feet, their weapons spent and discarded, left to gather dust and kill no more.
Submarine…Nazis…World War II…Painting…
'Take Revy, she'll help you out.'
Fucking Dutch…fucking big mouth…fucking…
"I…nothing." She replied in a settling daze.
"Uh huh. Is that it?" He highlighted the framed canvas sat beside her with the flashlight.
'You stay here and search around. I'm gonna take a walk and see if there's anything that can line our pockets at the market.'
"It's fucking tiny! Looks even more like crap up close and in person. Wish I had fifty grand to randomly blow on a piece of shit."
SS officer…Painting…'Twelve Knights Led By Brunhilda'…Führer…
"Anyway, check this out; managed to pull it from the safe in the Captain's quarters. I bet this'd go for a few Ben." He had plodded to the other side of the room across from her and parked himself on the lower bunk. With a self-complimentary grin, he held a ribbon-hung medal up for her eyes to regard. It was a pretty and decorative four-pronged piece which, unlike the corpses, had somehow remained quite well-preserved, and it showed as its surfaces glimmered even in the low light.
The right thing…
"Rock…" A hand rose to pull back a wet and matted bang behind her ear, all while she voiced his name inside a despondent sigh.
"Just look…look at all this." She waved her hand across the floor, clearly pointing out the bodies around them.
"Can't you imagine how bad it must have been for them? The despair they must have had as they knew they would eventually die? How do you think they felt when they thought of their loved ones, and how they were completely hopeless to do anything about seeing them again, or even just saying their final goodbyes? " The hand Rock was keeping up to present the medal fell back down to his bent knee. Even so, his eyes remained on her in a still stare.
"These men…all of them had families; parents, wives and kids who were waiting for them. Even now, to this day, they don't have answers to their relatives' fate, just the blind assumption that they died fighting for something they believed in. These people deserve closure and respect, given what they did." Rocks stare remained focussed solely on her eyes, not even a single flick of a saccade to hint at any deviation of attention…and it unnerved her.
"This…" she held up and shook a photo at him, it displayed a Navy officer surrounded by his family: a wife and two children, "…and that…" she pointed at the medal in his hand, "…are mementos of their life, they are items of closure. The families deserve these things the most, you…we have no right to be taking that. To do otherwise is just…inhumane."
The moment she had uttered that final word, Rock was responding.
"Heh…" His low and utterly mirthless scoff was a complete display of defiant remorselessness.
"What the fuck do you know about inhumanity?" He goaded, causing her to glare back at him in a flash of minuscule anger.
"Do you even know what it is? Inhumanity is just a scarier word for something else. Do you know what that 'something else' is? Nonconformity. If you rebel in any way, you're made out as sub-human scum. It's just as disgusting as religious doctrine. But here's the thing, Revy, nonconformity is expression, it is freedom, freedom to think and do without a single fucking tether to connect you to authority. Rapists, murderers, frauds, thieves…pirates. They break the mould and actually live life, as fucked up as some of them may be."
Her brow contorted in disbelief as he lectured her in his supposed ways.
"Ever listened to Metallica? Eye of the Beholder? 'You can do it your own way if it's done just how I say', 'independence limited; freedom of choice is made for you; freedom of speech is words that they will bend; freedom with their exception'. Laws and scripture restrain, laws and scripture corrupt, laws and scripture turn a free person into a dumb sheep. Laws are made to be broken, and rights are nothing but petty states of self-entitlement made by those who believe they're in some kind of position of power."
"You see this?" He held up the medal once again. "You're using moral bullshit because it belonged to this guy." His head nodded at the body closest to her feet, whom he had earlier identified as the late captain of the vessel. "Who owned it, who presented it, who gets it in the reading of the goddamn will; none of that shit matters. The 'who' part of it means fuck all. Sentimental value means no value except to the people who actually knew him. What does matter is the 'what': what it's made of, what era it's from, what condition it's in, how rare it is. Hard and solid facts of a physical object are what get you more of that stuff that makes the world go 'round. A buyer doesn't fork out at the prospect that some sailor's brat is mourning his daddy and wants a small piece of a fading memory." His voice had become more gruff and grainy as he had progressed. Ironically, anger was seeping its way into each word.
Her eyes were narrowed and mouth agape in shock. How could someone have such a skewed and hateful view of the world?
"And as for all these guys, I've got a big news flash for you, Revy: They're fucking dead. Everyone who was on this thing died almost sixty fucking years ago. They're just corpses now; rotting sacks of flesh, emotions can't exist around something that can't feel. You're feeling pity for the dead, which is disrespectful and pathetic enough as it is." He punctuated his speech by smacking his foot into a dew-covered skull on his side of the room. The skull left the ground and torpedoed out of the doorway and into the darkness beyond, a hollow clattering echoing back to their ears.
"I…I can't believe you think like that." She found the detailed answer unbelievably deplorable and borderline nihilistic, and it showed in her body language as her head sunk into a propped hand. There was a short pause in which she heard his breath immediately cease.
"Go fuck yourself, you hypocritical whore."
Only for it to shoot back up at his response.
"You talk of morality and 'the right thing' when you're in a rotting Nazi sub about to steal a painting, and if I remember correctly, you didn't say a single word in objection while we were still topside. You'd better think about your situation the next time you open your fucking mouth. I said it once already, you're in our world now, and you are an insignificant nothing."
Her throat seized up as his hollow, near-dead gaze pinned her to the bunk and froze her limbs. For a moment, she felt like she had forgotten how to breathe.
"You made the choice to remain here and that means you've freely thrown away whatever 'rights' you thought you had back in the land of lies, hypocrisy and sycophancy. I bet you've never truly lost anything before, but now you're all the way back at the bottom of a blood-coated ladder with nothing but a name and the body you were born with." He had started to speak much slower, doing his best to ensure that every single letter that left his lips was permanently ingrained in her head.
"I will give you one warning, Revy. Morality does not exist here. And believe me, the next time you even think of trying to lecture me like you're somehow superior in something you haven't experienced, I will make it my personal mission to end you like they do a fallen racehorse. You are in no position to command or guilt trip me like some desperate humanitarian, and I don't want to see any of your first world pomposity either. The next time you do it will be your last, I can promise you that."
She just stared back at him, pinned by his onyx glare and mentally racked by his threat. A mixture of feelings swelled in her chest, colliding in a train wreck of uncertainty and an ironic sense of humility. While he was right about her not knowing the world, it was still an abundant shock to see how people could so easily disregard common human decency. But from how he was putting it, 'human' was starting to look like too much of a compliment when referring to Rock; it was a lot more understandable to say that he was reverting back to basic animal instincts sans the financial greed that he possessed.
"We got what we came for." He dully droned, voice betraying a tiny strain as he shifted his weight forward onto his feet and stood up. Without wasting any more looks at her, he moved off to the bulkhead and towards the black veil beyond. "We're out of here."
With his first pace out of the room and makeshift Second World War execution stand, the darkness swarmed around him like water around a sinking stone, greedily welcoming him into an embrace of nothingness. His footfalls continued to broadcast from 'the outside', each patter against the bronzed iron floor getting lamer and lamer with distance…until there was nothing but her.
Sounds that would usually pass like ants walking on cotton wool were suddenly as deafening as a V12 engine revving in an empty tunnel. The thump of her heartbeat, the flow of her breath as it was sucked down her windpipe, the wet and slippery sound of her throat as she swallowed.
With the sudden loss of her company, it felt like a support in the metal structure had been yanked away and it was all beginning to shrink and constrict around her. A sense of claustrophobia started growing inside her in the form of a ball that swelled and tightened her chest. The remains littered around her certainly weren't helping, either, their hollow eye sockets preserved in a piercing post-mortem stare and jaws agape as if locked in a permanent scream.
But it was as Rock had said, their job was done, she had no reason to be there anymore. As horror-filled as the images of the long-deceased sailors was, they were completely dwarfed by the dead black glare, soul-rotting words and very real threats from her counterpart. She at least knew now that she was working with a complete head case, but it wasn't as if she hadn't figured that out from the way he acted on a day-to-day basis.
With no other reason to stay she scurried to her feet, briefly turning to pick up the objective of the commissioned job, and cautiously stepped to the bulkhead and the dark mist beyond. Her feet quickly glued themselves to the floor in temporary hesitation, but she knew that now of all times was not a good one to freeze up. Huffing out through her nose with conviction, she grasped the frame of the painting like she would a life ring and took the first step into the void.
She looked up; she looked down…left and right.
Nothing, total darkness. Her eyes were completely useless.
The regret of moving washed over her, making her spin on her heel to face in the direction from which she believed she had come. Even if she had got her bearings correct, the bulkhead that used to be behind her was no longer there; it, too, had succumbed to the eternal dark.
She was alone.
At least…that would have been the case had a tiny speck of white not punctured the veil like a needle directly in front of her. So her eyes were still working, that was a good sign. But before she could comprehend and analyse any further, the light overpowered the dark at an unfathomable speed, and just as the border between the warring forces passed over her she was forced to close her eyes. It was almost like a wave of energy; she felt it swarm over her, around her, in her, sending tingles through her skin, this time minutely pleasurable. Even without there being a wind to catch her, her balance seemed overwhelmed, rocking her back onto her heels and forcing her to take a step back.
Only once she had secured her footing once more did she open her eyes. It took her by surprise again.
She was in a crowded public square; chock full of chatting patrons, cigarette smoke and the fake laughter of concubines on a nearby street corner. The sun was mid-distance in the sky, a dulled orange luminescence bounding between the buildings and ground indicating a pre-dusk time stamp. A wide path was opened length-ways down the square, carving a path through a widened grid system of seated eating benches.
She spun around once more, finding not a single trace of the enveloping black curtain or its white extinguisher. Every single one of the people around her were acting with ignorance, though to use such a term would imply that she was not the one acting strangely and having these drug-like moments of ethereal transition between random events.
Still, though, her mind was being painlessly drilled with new memories that she was sure she had not experienced.
The peaceful scenery of blue skies and emerald rice fields was doing nothing to alleviate the tension inside the car as it trundled along the main road heading into the main city district. Her eyes were nervously scanning the surroundings except for the road ahead of them and the impassive but nevertheless unnerving presence of the man beside her.
'That fucking cunt!' Rock suddenly exploded as he sucked on a cigarette from his seat. 'Why am I always the one backing your sorry hiney up? Oh, that's right, you still need a fucking babysitter, apparently. Fucking Dutch…'
But immediately after hearing Rock's outburst in the car, something seemed to echo after it; somewhat of a whisper hidden amongst the wind thundering past the open window beside her.
'This sucks! This really fucking sucks! Why am I stuck here playing fuckin' errand boy with you? That's what I really wanna know. That lousy prick Dutch, I hope he dies!'
As ghostly as it seemed, she heard enough to discern that the voice was definitely not male. It sounded oddly like…like her. Her voice had taken quite the grained and less-than-classy tone when she had one of her rare outbursts, such as during the helicopter fiasco.
Like a life ring on the ocean surface, a familiar voice reached her ears through the throngs of ambient chatter. She turned about again, seeing the enigmatic Japanese gunman sat by a bench but a few metres from her. She said nothing as she took in his slackened posture, one elbow resting on the table and a balled fist supporting his listed head. Although appearing lazy, his stern and calculating gaze upon her told of his constant awareness.
"You keep spacing out like fucking Rain Man."
"Er…yeah, I was just thinking." She shook her head in dismissal, acting as if to pass it off as a fleeting daydream. Moving to take a seat across from him, she noted the large bowls stocked with noodle broth and assorted regional vegetables. In spite of all the misgivings surrounding her relocation to the city of Roanapur, she felt nostalgic warmth at sampling such food in its region of origin; it was almost like returning to her mother's homemade dishes in the latter's vehement attempts to keep the Asian side of their heritage alive.
It definitely had a certain panache to it, almost similar to a long business trip. She could stay in all the hotel rooms in the world for the sake of business, but in the end they held but a matchstick to the comfort and familiarity of her own apartment. Multiple bedrooms, but only one would sate the heart. Subjectivity and personal materialism could be both a gift and a curse…
'Sentimental value means no value…'
His words rang through her once more, causing the noodle-laden chopsticks to freeze before touching her waiting and parted lips. At that moment she swivelled her eyes upward to her company, and her utensil-wielding hand drooped as she spoke upon seeing his posture.
"Aren't you going to eat? It's been a while since we left the office."
Rock had maintained his slackened position, eyes boring a hole into the bench next to his dish, untouched and breathing wisps of steam into the air. Only after she had gained his attention did he regard her with a tiny movement of the head. He looked down at the bowl, scoffed derogatorily and looked away into the crowds ignorantly surrounding them.
"Lost my appetite." He mumbled disparagingly, like a grumpy child bereft of the treat it had demanded from its unwilling parents.
Savouring the seasoning in the vegetable broth that swam over her tongue, she herself felt a pang of impatience at his response. He had agreed to stopping for a meal before heading back following their little spat at the nearby de facto church, and now he was blowing it off.
Despite the fact that her business academia was supposed to come in handy for the ragtag crew that had informally adopted her, Rock had no issues with snatching the reins from her hands to negotiate arrears for their delivery services to a local strip joint – something that, while in a cringe worthy environment, she could have easily done herself. Though following that, his knowledge was much appreciated, since they had met with the Russian Mafia queen that had supported them during an earlier fiasco. It wouldn't have done her well to interact with such a high-placed and intimidating figure without the lingo or know-how.
By that point she had been barraged with a myriad of conflicting opinions. She could see Rock as both a shield to her novice form, but also a retarding harness that halted her possible growth and progression of a new reputation.
However, it had all taken a turn at the most recent deal: what was meant to be a simple changing of weapons and cash between retailer and consumer.
It could have been so different…
"Go on, have some", she urged whilst maintaining a gentle tone, "It's good. Besides, we'd rather not let that money go down the drain."
"I said…I'm not hungry." He said with full degrees of untethered frustration. His reaction was enough to have her halting mid-dine, the impatience having become contagious. Sighing in an attempt to passively vent, she noted the lack of change in his body language ever since she had phased into the scene.
No words were spoken between them for at least twenty seconds, the chatter of the patrons around them doing enough to hold off what would have otherwise become a veil of horrifically uncomfortable tension.
On one side, a black, square-edged slide with a stout barrel, uniform geometric body and noticeable jut of a magazine base from the underside of the grip; iron sights trained between two dark, furrowed eyebrows. On the other, a chrome and ivory structure of curved, erratic edges, planes and switches. A lethal tongue of a lengthened barrel pointing at the location of its next round: through a dark pink sunglasses lens, that would surely send shards – and, obviously, a bullet - into the eye behind it.
It had escalated once their order was revealed to have not been completed before the planned pickup. Someone else 'had a more urgent use' for one of the items.
Even she knew it was bullshit, first come first serve is the order of retail. Urgency cannot…should not…breed sympathy from the supplier.
It's just common business acumen.
But then Rock had foolishly pulled his gun after a mere verbal provocation, an action mimicked by the so-called 'nun' across from him.
Insults, as well as an ill-timed flirtatious line, were flung between them. But Revy had remained resolute, calm, polite, all for the sake of the elderly woman across from her. This time around she had done her homework, looked at this 'Ripoff Church' and its recent deal history to find leverage. As much as a ripoff they may have appeared in the superficial sense, they were earning far more than their takings would suggest could be made from weapons sales alone.
Add to that the blonde 'sister' and her orders to move laundered items to a location where they would be immediately dirtied, it just aroused greater suspicions.
And she had proven herself right, despite Rock's urges for her to keep her gob shut.
At that moment, she knew she could become of full use. Much like the element of surprise, her personal element of knowledge could create even larger avenues. Light extortion and blackmail were meant to be above her; but then again, she was no longer bound by any kind of 'normal' law. With a tiny threat mixed in, she had secured the deal.
Rock, meanwhile, had stormed out with no amount of pleasantries and had remained silent ever since…
"Maybe I should be asking what's wrong with you, then." Despite being a statement formed from a normal, unabated tone, the anxiety in the hidden question was also there. They had left the church with what they wanted, and now she wanted to discover her counterpart's ailment.
"Maybe I should tell you to leave it." He shot back, finally locking eyes with her.
He didn't have to say anything. She already knew what the issue was. Throughout her time with them, he had her in an iron grip. He was watching her, judging her, begging her to give him more reasons to hammer down on her. And in all honestly, he had been successful so far during that day.
And then came the church.
In what could be interpreted as hidden spite, she had chewed off her proverbial muzzle and collar and made away from his constriction. Even so, he had allowed her to continue on after she had found the gap. It was only afterward that he had reformed once more into a miserable, aloof bottle of curse words and spittle. It came down to one thing.
She proved him wrong. Proved that she didn't need a steward in such scenarios.
She had proven…that she was better.
Because of it, he had turned into what he was at this moment. Annoyed, angered…possibly jealous?
How dare he? That goddamn hypocrite! He expected her to roll over and take it like a back alley whore once he acted, while any time she did the same and proved her worth he'd become so immature?
That was it...
She could not have that treatment anymore, but to lash out would have heavy repercussions should she forget the submarine that she was sure she was aboard not seven minutes ago…
"Come on, Rock," she said in a sharp exhalation, "Please don't run circles around me. The day was going alright until the church. What happened?" She was pretty sure she knew what, but to wean it from the source of the tension would allow her to fully confirm.
As she had started to engage him again, he had slipped a cigarette into his mouth, extending a short sideways look at her before guarding his lighter from the wind with his free hand. A long, exaggerated drag from the tobacco was emphasised further by the expansion of his chest and loud breaths.
"Give it up already, for fuck's sake. I could have gotten this whole day over with twice as fast if you were somewhere else. Why waste twenty minutes playing Donald Trump when you can save fifteen by getting in their face and causing a rut? People fucking hate that, so they give you what you want, tell you to get the hell out and that's a done deal."
Her eyebrow twitched, she had him now.
"And what do you think would have happened at the church? The first thing that springs to mind is that oh, I don't know, we'd have ended up with a few corpses in the room, since you were so quick to pull your gun on them. If not that, then we would have left with our butts intact, but we wouldn't have been given the grenade launcher. That's a few grand down the drain right there!"
Her voice had steadily grown louder, fuelled by her bottled anger and building levels of stress. The moment she had started to list the other possible outcomes, Rock's head had turned steadily toward her, his eyes hardening quicker than reactive armour. A tiny raise on the outer edges of his now furrowed brow sent a clear sign: 'You're pushing it.'
And honestly, she didn't care.
"You should be thanking me you ungrateful son of a bitch! I got us out of there with everything because I was willing to talk!" She was on her feet within moments, the food she had intended to enjoy already forgotten. "If you think a bullet to the brain is the best solution, then get on that high horse of yours and give yourself a goddamn lead lobotomy!"
Some passers-by had temporarily tuned into the berating, seeing a woman suited for desk work standing over and loudly chastising a slouching gunman seemed quite the amusing sight. But in the case of those who could see Rock's eyes, they knew otherwise.
She could see it, too. He had since stopped blinking, his head inclined slightly forward so as to have it further concealed by his scowl. Just like their initial meeting aboard the Melanesia, she was once again held to her spot by two lifeless pools of black. Although her initial outbursts had instilled in her the confidence to continue, she now had worries as to what would unfold in the aftermath.
"You can glare all you want, but I'm on to you. You have done nothing but belittle me, threaten me and outright hinder my usefulness, despite the fact that you were the one who invited me to stay! You must be some kind of schizophrenic to accept help and then actively try and not use it."
Her throat almost burned from its sudden, intense use, but it was being soothed by the cooling air being forced down her neck as she tried to regain herself with harsh breaths.
"I'm not your bitch, so grow the fuck up and stop trying to put a leash on me. I am a part of this team now, whether you like it or not, and you will not stop me from doing my job."
That last line was the only time she saw a reaction throughout her outburst. It was only a small narrowing of his eyelids, but nevertheless it was a sign that he was paying very close attention to her. She remained on her feet in preparation for a Hell-on-Earth response.
Still he stared at her, but a few seconds later he was ejecting a smoke plume from between his lips, the hand lying across his lap slowly rising to reclaim the cigarette between his forefinger and thumb. With the pinkie of the same hand, he nonchalantly scratched at the side of his forehead, which coincided with the curious raising of one eyebrow.
Rock sized her up, noting how her eyes would occasionally slip down to his trunk, where the only pistol visible to her sat snugly in its holster.
The cigarette, barely halfway burned through, fell from his fingers, allowing gravity to pull it down to knock against his boot and then catch in the gravel underneath. He stamped it out without so much as a sound before looking back up at her.
He had to admit, she had balls…
The physiological effects of her confident rebuttal – and the stunned silence from both parties afterward - started to make themselves known. She was trembling slightly, as if she'd been shot with adrenaline; her heartbeat had spiked with her vigorous vocal workout and her lungs, contrarily, felt tighter.
"Alright, I get it. Fucking hell, woman, you could scream for your country."
That, she was not expecting.
"Fine, in future you can do the talking, but since you feel that strongly about it, don't expect me to come saving your ass if you screw up." He looked down at the bowl in front of him, the steaming surface now a flat plane of lukewarm stock water and cooling noodles. She was about to sit down to let her little victory sink in, but Rock was instead standing to meet her.
"What a fuckin' day…" He murmured. Their eyes met, and she could see his relaxation taking hold, his previous glare of unreserved maliciousness seemingly evaporated into the humid afternoon air. "Come on, we might as well get back to the office, we've done everything Dutch was too lazy to do himself. I know a shortcut to the car."
As much as she wanted to stand fast and complain about the waste of good food she could see that, against all possible odds, Rock had allowed a compromise. Perhaps he knew that she had a good point, that diplomacy can trump or outright prevent an onset of violence. Had she proven her worth? Not quite yet, she would naturally assume; she would just have to keep demonstrating this little quirk of hers in future endeavours.
On top of that, the whole incident could have been the turning of a new stone for the working pair. Now that they both knew the score, they could possibly work with a little more cohesion.
Rock had strode past her without any other words, and she felt naturally inclined to follow, confident that they were now in a truce. As they strode down the long avenue, she had to look up and admire the beauty of the dark yellow sky, a peaceful sight in such a chaotic town, too many clashes between beauty and beast.
"Here." Rock simply said, turning towards a small back alley between two parallel rows of stores and cheap, run-down hotels. "We can hang a left at the end and the car should be there."
That, however, got her thinking again. Why park the car so far away? She could recall that this area was mostly a pedestrian-filled set of blocks, so running a car through the middle of it wouldn't be the most constructive thing to do. Even so, as she was addled in her thoughts and miniature analytics, she didn't think to stop when Rock ushered her into the alley, 'ladies first' style like a gentleman.
Only then did she come back to the world and find that Rock was no longer in front of her, instead there was nothing but a brick wall. The alley never extended to the next street.
It was just a dead end.
She wished at that moment that she had paid attention to the little voice in the back of her head. That he had been too quick to give in, that it was uncharacteristic of him. Damn it, it was all going too well, and in a world like this she should have known that it was too good to be true. She should have paid more fucking attention!
And only then did the gravity of it hit her. Her entire body was spiked with a thousand needles as fear, like a tide of arctic water, washed through her. Her lips parted, expelling an anxious breath, and her eyes shot apart quicker than they could blink. Thinking of fight or flight, she quickly turned on her heel…
…and received the most horrific and indescribable explosion of pain across her face, knocking her off her feet and tumbling to the ground. Immediately covering the lower half of her face with a scratched hand, she pulled it away to find it covered with red, the stabbing-like pain and sheer force of the impact blurring her vision. The disgusting coppery taste in her mouth flooded her broken nose, and attempts to move her tongue to spit it out allowed her to feel a few loose teeth in her upper jaw.
She had turned just in time to see a gloved fist darting straight for her face, far too close and fast for her to do anything about it.
The pain…oh dear God, it hurt so much, she'd never been subjected to anything like this before. So racked was she with shock that she hadn't the mind to scream in agony; and even in doing so she knew it wouldn't have accomplished anything. A shadow loomed over her, like a human standing over an ant, and she forced herself to look up at him against the jolts of fire at the base of her skull. He had almost hit her hard enough to break her neck…
"You dumb little slut," his voice had a tell of restraint based on the shakiness of his words, "Were you so fucking delirious to think that I'd actually forget what I told you? I've known some dumb bitches in my time, but you're one-of-a-kind."
She said nothing, instead laying there with utter fear-induced bewilderment. Her breaths came out loud and through her mouth, her nose quickly becoming bruised and swollen after his punch had undoubtedly shattered its cartilage.
"I wasn't even planning for this, but you went and kicked the hornet's nest, you've given me a reason, Revy."
His right hand went for the pistol under his left arm in a calm and controlled motion, something that had her gritting her teeth against the biting pain in the roots of her teeth. But this time, she cared not for the gun, she kept her gaze firmly locked on his dulled eyes, emotionless and unsympathetic.
"I told you what would happen; I thought you'd taken the fucking hint. But I guess greedy first-world shitbags like you thrive on a try-hard sense of superiority no matter where you are and what station you hold. You disgust me, I should have killed you the moment you gave us that fucking disc."
"But you didn't," she tried to speak solely through her mouth; she sounded almost like she had a fever and a bunged up sinus. Her lips felt so uncomfortable with all the blood from her nose dripping over them, "You took me with you for the sake of your own greed. In the end…" She had to stop to breathe at regular intervals, having had her nasal airway blocked by blood and crushed skin, "…you're just as pathetic as that which you hate, you want capital, you want money and power."
She knew that this was her final stand, and she would be damned if she was downed without leaving her mark. Rock had already racked the slide on his Beretta, the infinite blackness of the barrel staring right at her untouched forehead.
"You're a cowardly little opportunist, you shoot people in the back and attack unarmed women to try and make something of yourself. That's why you're fucking weak, Rock."
It was clear that she hadn't just touched a nerve; she'd severed hundreds of them. It was why Rock stomped forward, lowered himself to one knee and jammed the barrel of his weapon hard against her temple. He was so consumed by fury that she could tell even through her recovering vision that a blood vessel in his eye had burst, marring his sclera with a large patch of reddened mist. Seeing him so affected by her taunting only had her smile in utmost defiance.
"Go ahead, pull the trigger. Prove me right."
He sat there for a few moments, gun still poised and finger slightly quivering over the trigger, but he retracted it and stood back up. Confusion became writ across her features, especially when he lopsidedly smirked.
"You know what's so funny about this?"
She said and did nothing as her answer, merely waited for him to continue.
"I've had people spew their little pieces of monologue like this before. It can be pleas, bribes, blackmail, some kind of intellectual crap; and I just think about it for a moment before I end them. But then I always remember one little fact."
The gun was levelled on her once more, his smirk immediately wiped from his face.
"No matter what bullshit comes from their mouth, the words of the dead hold the least significance. You can talk all you want, but it will never change the fact that I'll still be here, and you'll be in a hole. Try as you might, I will still win."
That was the clincher for the whole situation. She finally realised that he would never be open to suggestion, that he was too wound up in his own selfish philosophies to consider anything other than his own path. In a weird sense, she could feel a tiny amount of respect for his tenacity and will. Yet at the same time, she knew that any further attempts would end in vein. There was no way out.
She would die here.
Embracing that fact, she smirked up at him. One last act of defiance.
"I'll keep a seat warm for you in Hell, you psychotic wuss. I would hate to have to wait too long."
He actually humoured her with a tiny, mirthless scoff.
"Don't hold your breath, white-collar office dyke."
That was the best he could come up with? Whatever the case, she would take she could get. She kept her eyes locked on his, rather than give him the satisfaction of feeding off a supposed fear of the handgun bearing down on her.
The last thing she saw was the bright flash of igniting gunpowder spat from the barrel mouth.
The last thing she heard was the initial crack of the round being launched. Once the supersonic nugget of shaped lead had forced its way into her skull, through the soft tissue of her frontal lobe and liquefied her central cortex in a matter of milliseconds, all forms of stimulus were shut off.
Finally, for the last time, she was eternally reintroduced to black nothingness.
Sleep-encrusted eyes flashed apart to the sight of a gunmetal grey room bathed in the brightness of an overhead light, the thickness of her dried tears holding tight enough to pull out an eyelash or two.
She moved a hand to wipe at the obstruction to her sight, but winced with a hiss at the burning aches inside her right hand. Jesus…moving her fingers fucking hurt. She felt like she had no energy, like her torso was comatose but her mind was still turning, open to every sensation, every thought, every memory…every dream. The side of her head felt bruised from having lain on the hard metal flooring of the cabin, and the toes on her left foot seemed numb from when she'd toe punted that box the night before.
'You piece of shit.'
Christ…one little fucking book, and the Lagoon Company starts to fray at the seams from her reactions.
If only she'd never read that diary. If only Rock hadn't been injured by that explosion. If only they hadn't even gone to the Yellow Flag that night. If only-
'I should have killed you the moment you gave us that fucking disc.'
If only he was never there…
Wasn't that why she had tried to off him last night? No…it was different. She was already comfortable with him; it was his past words that kicked her off. He called her a sadist, a bitch…
The last man to call her that had been relieved of his reproductive organs before she'd put seven rounds in him.
A growl from her stomach temporarily broke the tension, a knot of hunger twisting at her core, smiting her desire to remain where she lay.
She managed to right herself with her legs still tucked underneath her, trying her best ignore the ungodly stinging from her knuckles. Thinking back to that moment, her eyes lazily traversed up the wall to her right, and there it was, a faux-Pollock painting built from splashes and flickers of her own blood as she'd pounded her fist into the wall. Where Pollock would often work whilst intoxicated by substances, she would create her pieces fuelled by unrivalled rage and a voracious desire to vent.
No doubt Dutch would make her clean that up.
That was the other catalyst for the preceding night. Her own boss was under the impression that she and her bedridden partner had shared more than a hotel room during their trip to Japan. Whether he had any money riding on it was not something of which she could be certain, but the suspicion definitely wouldn't be beyond her.
Not to mention that he had gotten in her face beforehand. But who could blame him? She was a few inches away from blowing Rock's brains out. Hell, she would have done it, too, had it not been for a small part of her that knew such an action would be a large mistake.
Amen to that.
The experiences of the newest dream shook her to the core. It was like the twilight zone, she had gone back in time and dimension jumped to a world where…where she was Rock…and Rock was her.
Anything could be conjured up in dreams, so the validity of the scenarios her mind's eye had created were heavily questionable, and yet…
Some of it seemed so real. Too real.
She could recall the fear of being at gunpoint, the thrill of a successful plan, the dread of a serious death threat at the hands of someone close, and the outright anger against someone who can be deciphered to be a lesser person than they seem.
Except this time, he'd killed her. He had created a new tangent from their encounter at the restaurant, and dealt with her when she was least expecting it.
It almost reflected the desire she had at the original time of that event. She was truly focussed on ending him where he stood, forethought be damned, she had allowed her anger to control her, and it had caused a scene. The one thing she had not anticipated was his will to live. He had stood up to her.
At the time, that royally pissed her off. But thinking back at it now…
…she was glad he had stopped her. Something her dream could not do untoward him. It was as if he was having his revenge in a world where she couldn't touch him.
But now she could have a faint understanding of his lamenting, of his complaints regarding her in the early stages of their partnership. Despite that, she would never admit she was wrong.
"We're both idiots and we've both made mistakes!"
Okay, maybe she could as long as someone jointly shared the blame.
With a groan, she urged herself to her feet, examining her ruined glove and bloodied hand before looking back at her blood on the wall. At that moment, she recoiled, mouth repeatedly opening and closing with words stuck in the back of her throat. With no warning, as if they were on fire, her hands frantically rubbed at her eyes, desperate to rid herself of any deprecating proof of what she had done before falling to sleep.
She hadn't cried in over 10 years. Crying was weakness, crying was pitiful, disgusting, abhorrent.
Without even being conscious, Rock had brought her to tears.
And now she felt dirty, used…played. It was insulting, and she would rather die than have anyone find out about something so humiliating.
If only to wash her face, she had to get out of there. The memories of just one night were already becoming a haunting reminder of the frailties she was always so good at keeping veiled behind her ironclad character.
'Damn it…damn it…'
Even after sleeping, she still felt tired and worn out; it showed as she flat-footedly stumbled to the door of the cabin. She never looked back as she locked it, naively hoping that the memories would not follow.
She reached the bulkhead leading out onto the deck and with what little energy she could spare, disengaged the latch. She took one large step to re-enter her world once more, becoming fully immersed in a warm bath of morning sunlight and cloudless skies, leaving behind the cold and dank darkness of a floating tomb.
A/N: So there we go! Revy finds herself under more strain, will she turn masochistic and continue reading the diary, or will she see avoid it altogether?
Fun fact: Believe it or not, this chapter of 11k+ was originally going to be much longer. But I DID take your feedback into account as I wrote it and shortened both the number of dream scenes and the length of the scenes that are in there. I don't ignore feedback, remember that! :)
Right, it's time for me to address the one main issue that came up from the previous chapter, and just this whole role reversal idea in general. I am incredibly grateful for your constructive feedback, and I can understand that taking the story this way was probably not one of my better ideas (it might actually be the worst XD). Yes, it has almost, almost been a rehash of the Black Lagoon story, but on the other hand, I found that it was an exciting challenge to create new interactions and dialogues from an existing template. For example, how many of you thought that I was just going to have Rock lose his shit and try to shoot her immediately? I actually had this turn of events planned out long before it came to this chapter, I wanted Revy to come to some understanding, no matter how small, of how She had looked in Rock's eyes. Whether she will take anything from it is left to be desired.
So I'll admit that I could have done these recent chapters better, but to me it just seemed right. While Fifth Horseman believes that it ruins the fic, an opinion I can respect (thanks for the review, FH!), it ultimately comes down to reader subjectivity. One man's meat is another man's poison.
Rest assured that the story will return to normalcy from now on. So while this dream stuff may not have been the most amazing thing for some of you guys to read, I would at least ask that you give it a chance to understand where I'm going with it.
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Usual SOP: Like it, give it an alert. Love it, give it a favourite. Anything you want to say about it, give it a review!