In a makeshift cell, AKA just some storage closet mostly cleared of supplies, a young Morgan Harding sits there in a chair, in three pairs of handcuffs, awaiting a new kind of torture and pain devised by Ohata King and his Japanese mob enforcers.
I’ve been waiting here for a good thirty minutes, with no sign of anyone coming to inflict suffering on me. I’m really, really tempted just to bust out of all my restraints (I DO have super strength) and go nuts, but I don’t know what’s outside that door. I’d rather not take the chance of getting shot the second I make a run for it.
Plus, there’s a guy in here already, and his gun is already drawn. He’s not a talker. Trust me, I tried.
C’mon, I’m getting bored. I want to find out what I’ll be martyred for. Or, better yet, I want some valuable clue to fall on my lap to help me figure out this stupid case I’ve been trying to solve for all these weeks.
Guess the only thing I can do is sit here and space out. Oh wait, there’s keys jingling by the door already.
After a little bit longer than one might expect, the door opens.
That blue-haired woman with a malicious grin and extremely short shorts comes sashaying into the storage closet, staring right at me. She says something in Japanese, and the guy guarding me holsters his weapon and leaves the room. I don’t like where this is headed.
Nami’s here in the cell with me now, and I’m all on my lonesome.
She steps up close to me, as if to whisper in my ear…
Then simply pulls back in silence.
It’s as if she’s building up to some savory moment of justice, without letting anyone else be privy to the details.
Then, in an unexpected twist: She unties my bonds and removes everything but the handcuffs that lock my arms behind my back. I’m 90% free!
She shakes her head. “You are dead soon.”
“Yeah, of course. If they didn’t execute me, it’d be a waste of good bullets.
“You are dead soon, so I want to have fun with you,” she says.
“Fun? By that, do you mean—”
Whop! A slap in the face, and then a punch in the gut.
I got freed by Nami… only to be beaten up s’more before my inevitable violent death. Great, she’s taking out all her rage on me.
Punch after punch, some in very vulnerable parts of my body. I get the wind taken out of me and collapse onto my knees, gasping for breath. Is it truly my ultimate curse that I am to be beaten up every twelve hours for the rest of my life? Is this what I deserve for all the annoying things I’ve done?
That one time I was awful to Karina flashes through my mind, and for a second I feel like these attacks by Nami are completely warranted and I accept them with glee. But then I remember that self-pity is the tool of tyrants and I already got forgiveness for that. So, actually, I don’t accept these attacks at all.
She’s just going to keep beating me until I’m unconscious or worse. The anger flares up so bright her eyes go from black to red, it seems like. She REALLY didn’t like me winning that fight earlier.
I definitely shouldn’t let this continue, or else I’m going to end up regretting it. Or dead.
So I get a grip on myself. Hop up on my feet and begin swaying and swerving like a boxer (a handcuffed boxer). Push my foot into her knee and kick with all the force in my body.
She screams out loudly with rapid-fire curses. Then she grabs me by the head and digs her nails into my skin. All ten of them searing into me, threatening to break out in a bloody mess with just a little bit of extra force. I keep kicking her shins and her knees, hoping she will pull away, but she’s acting like a fishhook at this point.
And holy hell it hurts.
“Aaargh!” she screams unintelligibly.
I’ve got to break out of these damn handcuffs so I can just punch her in the face! This is too painful and too stupid otherwise. So I pull at the cufflink with as much brute force as possible—
I break free from Nami’s nail-powered grip, but only thanks to being shocked so hard that I fall down on the ground for a second.
Of COURSE they’re Magitech-brand electro-cuffs. Of course the Magitech Corporation makes handcuffs. Presumably they’re supposed to be for bedroom use, but the Japanese mob must have modded them for maximum voltage, because damn. That hurt about as bad as one of those knives that Jones stabbed into me way back when.
Nami, with surprising strength, picks me up by the back of the shirt and heaves me into the wall. I don’t hit it with a ton of force, but I still feel that very unpleasant bump of pain and hope my ribs are all okay.
Okay, okay, electro-cuff effect’s worn off. I get back on my feet with a cool jump and begin dancing in a tango to maneuver right around this crazy lady. Before she can do anything about it, I’m already behind her, and then I too turn around so we’re facing back-to-back.
I jump, reach out my arms, and with the least skillful and badass move I’ve done in a while, I wrap the handcuffs around Nami’s waist then pull tight to lock her in place. We’re tied together so long as the chain link doesn’t snap, which it shouldn’t.
“Truce?” I ask.
“What does truce mean?”
“Uh, peace. No more fighting.”
Her response in Japanese and presumably not very polite. Oh, whatever.
My response to her response is to try and pull the cuffs again, as hard as I can without actually breaking them. And guess what happens? Another ZAP! This time, though, it’s half absorbed by my dear friend attached to my back. It’s enough to prevent me from falling over, though… I’m really feeling the heat right now. My whole body’s getting a little wobbly from the pain. She struggles, but her screams grow weaker, and then turn into not much more than mild groans.
That’s when I stop pulling and stop yanking. I feel her slump over, either unconscious or close to it, and I could really say the same about myself. These cuffs were way more powerful than a normal consumer-grade taser.
And… now I don’t have the physical energy to jump up and somehow free the two of us from this linkage. Shit.
I’ve got to, I don’t know, wiggle free from her? I’m sure she would help if she could, but…
Ah-ha. I figured it out.
I plop my butt right on the floor and drop the handcuffs along with it. Now they’re not wrapped around Nami’s waist, but her feet, and with one new yank, I trip her and she goes tumbling down like London Bridges in that one nursery rhyme.
The crash against the floor is louder than I expected. I hope Nami’s okay. She’s not exactly unconscious, since she’s glaring at me pretty hard, but her body’s writhing in a way that tells me we won’t be fighting again soon.
Now I’m free! Aside from still being handcuffed, but I’ll take what I can get.
I kick the closet door down and see out of the hallway, where, fortunately, there aren’t a bunch of thugs with guns ready to murder me.
So if I can just figure out a way to exit this labyrinth of a building, where every single hallway basically looks like the same tacky samurai thing, I can escape. Let’s just see if I can actually manage that… Because I’m not too confident myself…
This week’s recommendation: Graven. It was one of the first web novels I read after starting ATL, and it’s honestly really good. For a story that’s not isekai fantasy or anything like that, it sure has a ton of Royal Road appeal. Read it! After this chapter, that is.
Follower progress report:
Royal Road: 989
It’s getting close! We might only be a few weeks away. I already know there’s 20 or so active ATL readers who don’t have accounts. I love y’all, but you should make an account and follow the story!