Badasses Of the Multiverse: Book 6: Volume 1: Chapter 03

Badasses Of the Multiverse: Book 6: “The Mexican, The Lawyer, And The Mechanic.”

Volume 1: “The Heroes.”

Chapter 03: “The Mechanic.”

By Paul Cousins.

Copyright Disclaimer: All copyrighted places, characters, items, and events, within the story, are held by their current owners. No profit is being made on this work of fiction.

(_)

Reality, Hernan, Pedro, and Lee's Home Reality. Date, a Few Years ago. Location, De La Plata Podrido, Mexico, in the front yard of the home of Police Chief Pedro Del Soto. Time, in the evening, before sunset.

Hernan Pena had just gotten out and locked his car. He had parked along the curb of the street, next to a couple of police cars. With his right passenger door facing the front yard.

Now, Hernan walked around the front of his car, and made his way up to the front door to the home of his friend, Police Chief Pedro Del Soto.

Hernan was wearing some casual clothing, including blue jeans, a black t-shirt, black leather belt, and some decent black boots.

As he made his way to the small awning that covered the front door, he scratched his full, well groomed beard for a seconds.

When he reached the door, he came to a stop, and casually knocked on the door.

A second later, Pedro opened the door with his left hand, while having an open bottle of beer in his right hand. He greeted Hernan in spanish, “Hi Hernan. I am glad you came.”

Hernan replied, in spanish, “I always try to accept an invitation from a good friend.”

Pedro responded, “I appreciate it. Come in, and have a beer. We were just about to start.”

Hernan walked into the home, and Pedro shut the door behind them.

A few seconds later, the two men walked through a hallway that quickly lead into Pedro's living room.

When they reached the living room, Hernan saw, to his left side, an open ice chest, full of ice and bottles of beer, near the wall mounted, wide screen TV, with a selection of entertainment systems that were played under the TV, and were connected to the TV.

Hernan also noticed, from the LED readout on the blu-ray player, under the TV, that the blu-ray player was turned on. And on top of the blu-ray player, Hernan saw a universal remote to Pedro's entertainment system, along with blu-ray disc box with a familiar title on top of the blu-ray player.

Though, Hernan noted that subtitle, below the title on the box was not season one, nor two, of what he knew of the series.

Across the room, from the TV and entertainment system, to Hernan's right side, Hernan saw Melvin, and a couple of the police officers he knew, in their civilian clothing. Melvin was sitting at in a reclining chair, set upright, nearest to Hernan, while the two officers were sitting on the couch.

Melvin was a lean, physically fit man in his early sixties. He head was shaved bald, and he had dyed blond goatee, mustache, and eyebrows.

Melvin wore a blue t-shirt, brown pants, brown leather pants, black dress shoes, and a red newsboy cap on his head.

All of three of them had turned to look at Hernan, with each of them either had a bottle of beer in hand, or on the rectangular coffee table by them.

Hernan walked over and reached ice and pulled out a cold bottle of beer. He then open the bottle of beer, tossed the cap into a nearby small trash can, and took a swallow. Next, he lower his bottle, as he turned to the men that were sitting in the room. He said, “Hi guys... Hey, Melvin. I am glad you could make it.”

Melvin stated, in spanish, “I would not miss this for the world.”

Hernan sat by on the end of the couch near Melvin, to Melvin's right side, with the other two office taking up the two other spaces on the couch, to Hernan's left side.

Hernan then set his bottle of beer on the coffee table in front of him, as turned to Pedro. He inquired, “So, from your phone call, you said you got a video you ordered, in the mail, today?”

Pedro, walked over to the TV, as he answered, “Yes. I just got it in the mail, a few hours ago. Paciano got his copy in the mail, yesterday. He told me this mini-series rocked. It was the best so far of the series. Given the manga version was good, I am willing to believe him. Still, I wanted to wait until they finally dubbed it in the North American english cast, before I watched it. I think the North American cast did a better job than the Japanese dub cast.”

Melvin asked, “The same North American cast? It has been a few years since season one and two were released in North America.”

Pedro answered, “Yes. The same cast.”

Melvin responded, “That's nice. They did an okay job.” He mentally added, 'Next to the real voices, from the real people, themselves.'

Pedro set his bottle of beer down onto top of the blu-ray player, beside the blu-ray disc box, and remote. He then picked up and opened a slim blu-ray case. Next, while holding the back with his left hand, he used his right hand to eject button on his blu-ray player.

After the blu-ray play disc tray opened his blu-ray player, he pulled out the blu-ray version of the mini-series, while making sure he pulled out the blu-ray disc copy in the box, which was chrome colored on top. Compared to the black colored DVD copy, that was on the other interior side of the disc box.

Pedro set the disc into the open disc tray, and he made sure the disc was properly in the tray. He pushed the eject button to the player to close tray.

Pedro picked set down the open disc box onto the top of the blu-ray player.

Pedro picked up his bottle of beer with his left hand, and his universal remote with his left hand.

Pedro turned and walked over to the recliner chair, set upright, opposite to the coffee table, from the chair Melvin sat in. He set his bottle of beer on the coffee table, in front of him. And Pedro sat down in the chair.

Hernan inquired, “Anyone else find it odd that as latin american men, except for Melvin, we are about to watch a japanese anime, dubbed in North American english?”

As Pedro got comfortable in his chair, he turned to Hernan. He agreed, “Yea. It is interesting. Still, I prefer to talk after we finish watching this mini-series. Though, this is nearly three hours long We will have a bathroom break in an hour and half, for a few minutes, then we will go back to watching this rest of the series.”

The player then automatically started up, showed the previews. After the previews, the player bought up the disc menu. Pedro used his remote to start playing the Black Lagoon, Roberta's Blood Trail anime mini-series, from the beginning, with him selecting the english dialogue.

(_)

Almost three hours later, the mini-series ended, with the scene between Rock and Revy, after the credits just finishing, with single title picture then showing right after the scene.

Pedro used his remote to stop the disc from playing. He leaned forward. He set his remote down on the coffee table. And Pedro leaned back in his chair.

Among the men, Hernan was the first to speak, as he said, “That was... Interesting...”

Pedro chuckled a little.

Melvin commented, “That was an experience I won't forget.” He thought, 'In several ways.'

One of the police officers said, in spanish, “Those women, especially Roberta, are terrifying when they really get going in their bloodlust.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, as the second office stated, in spanish, “You got that right.”

The first police officer commented, “The green haired girl fights as dirty as her teacher.”

The second officer responded, “I do not know which was the worse. The groin attack. Fabiola's boot knife attack. Or, Roberta’s buckle gun attack, and then what she did afterward to that guys head. Ouch, on both counts.”

The first officer replied, “That is debatable. And those maids like to use really big guns.”

Hernan stated, “I could see the attraction to using such big guns.”

The second officer turned to Hernan, as he stated, “I can see why you would, considering your past. So, after seeing that, what does our resident former FARC member have to say about Roberta actions, and skills?”

The others in the room turned to look at Hernan, as well. The first officer said, “He's right. It is not like you haven't pulled serious shit in this town that could rival some of her actions. Because of that, I would like your input on her. Do you know anyone as badass as she is, in real life.”

Hernan groaned, as he looked around the room. He answered, in an annoyed tone of voice, “You cut loose one time in this town, and you never live it down.”

Everyone else in the room started laughing for a few seconds, due to Hernan's reaction, and comment.

As they quieted down, Hernan decided to continue speaking, “To answer your question. No. No one I know of could be as crazy as her. I admit, a few of the FARC members I knew could come close. But, not that close to her. And not just her level of violence and combat skills. The other actions she takes are incredible. For example, in the first episode of the mini-series, Roberta does that incredible rifle exhibition drill with that musket. I must give the animation crew props. That was a very well made scene, and very well choreographed. I only know a few people in real life that could that.”

Pedro asked, with curiosity in his tone of voice, “Yourself included?”

Hernan turned to Pedro. He shrugged, as he said, “On a good day. It has been a long time since I have practiced drills with a rifle.”

Pedro replied, “That is nice to know.” Pedro then turned to Melvin, as he commented, “Why are you so quiet, Melvin?”

Melvin turned to Pedro, as he answered, “Until now, I have never seen this series all the way through. Nor, have I read the manga in its entirety... I found the Vampire Twins and Tokyo arcs to painful to read. And I barely made it through watching them in the anime format. And I did not know that Revy got wrongfully arrested, and then raped by a cop, when she a teenager. Along with her being heavily abused by her drunken father. Though, it does explain a lot about her personality.”

The first officer commented, “Sucks to be her. But, such actions do reflect badly on the rest of us fine police officers.”

The second officer agreed, “That is true. Though, she is still a bitch.”

Melvin commented, “I agree. But, she is an equal opportunity bitch. I mean, she is generally a bitch towards everyone. And though she is insulting, she is never violent with someone, unless she was paid to be, or that person crossed her. I admired her for that. And that is one of the few redeeming things about her.”

The first officer stated, “No arguments there. Though, it sounds like you know her.”

Melvin let out a laugh. He then stated, “Trust me. After seeing this mini-series, I can safely say that likely no one knows what is going on inside Revy's head. Maybe not even Revy, herself.”

The first officer responded, “Interesting. But, lets get back to Roberta. She is the top, alpha bitch, badass of that series. Roberta, in Bloodhound mode is something else. She faced three small, badass armies. One she just ignored. One she she into. And the third she just plainly destroyed with that big rifle, with the grenade launcher attached under the barrel.”

Melvin spoke up, “Four armies. Don't forget the Golden Triangle army she took out, off screen. With only her muskets, flints, and her pistols. I am so happy, for so many reasons, that the Bloodhound chose to ignore Balalaika and Hotel Moscow.”

Pedro inquired, “So, you are a Hotel Moscow fan?”

Melvin shrugged, as he coyly replied, “You could say that.”

The first officer said, “Anyway. Along with those four armies, she faced Revy, the knife nut, and the cleaner. And she kicked their asses, and scared the hell out of the last two.”

Melvin stated, “Yes. Though, the ending is quite sad. Roberta is left crippled, in so many ways.” He mentally added, 'Though, I didn't know that Roberta was left that crippled.'

Hernan commented, “Actually, I found the ending to be uplifting, and hopeful. First, was the contrast. It began by showing the world of night, in Roanapur, then it screen literally pans to the other side of the world, showing the world of day in Venezuela. And while Roberta was shown physically crippled, maimed, and in a wheelchair. At the end, she is shown being able to get up from the wheelchair, with help from Garcia.”

“And by that happening, it shows that she is not alone. And the scene shows that she was able to stand and start walking towards the family of the man she killed. The one that haunted her in the mini-series.”

“With it being show that Shane was there with the family. Meaning he was the one that brought them there, to help make up for his actions towards the Lovelace family.”

“This means that both Roberta and Shane were able to confront their past actions, and bring closure to their past sins.”

“So, while Roberta's body was crippled, her soul was shown to be walking towards redemption.”

“That entire ending was about one thing. Hope. For Rock, it was the hope of living to see an other day, and marching towards the future. For Shane, it is about hope and redemption. And for Roberta, it was the hope of being able to live with her past actions, while walking towards the future.”

Hernan's voice took a hard edge to it, as he continued, “Still, the worst part of the tragedy, was this whole mess was started because the U.S. government got sloppy, and made assumptions. They thought the Lovelace senior was just a communist sympathizer. If they had done a background check on him, they would have realized they could have turned him into an agent for them.”

“This is because the two most important people in the world to him were his son Garcia, and Roberta. Garcia was already kidnapped once by a local drug cartel. And Roberta was wanted by the same said drug cartel. If the U.S. government had offered to help protect Garcia and Roberta, chances are that Diego Lovelace would have gladly become a spy for the U.S. government.”

“Due to this, he could have influenced that political party from the inside for the U.S. government. Like good old fashioned cold war style spying and espionage. Old school cold war tactics. The type that puts an agent into an inner circle of one enemies, with that person not just being a spy, but offering effect policy of that enemy.”

“Without firing a shot.”

“But, that seems to have become a lost art.”

“And that is not even taking into account Roberta. On paper, they would have just seen a FARC terrorist, whom went AWOL. Until they dug deeper and found that she deserted from the FARC over their connections to the drug cartels. She would have been a gold mine of information for the U.S. on both the FARC organization and the drug cartels. And she would have probably given the information freely, in exchange for the U.S. government helping to protect the Lovelace family.”

“If the U.S. had played their cards right. On one front, they could have arranged Diego Lovelace to replace Hugo as dictator of Venezuela, after Hugo died of cancer. In which case the U.S. would have controlled the entire nation, without anyone else knowing.”

“And one the other front, with Roberta's knowledgeable, they could have further gutted FARC and the drug cartels.”

“But, the U.S. was just too wasteful, and shortsighted, to take the long term approaches.”

“In the end, I guess the lesson from the mini-series is that shooting first and asking questions later is an unwise strategy.”

Silence reigned for a few seconds, as the other four men in the room were mildly shocked at how profound and retrospective Hernan had been in the way he presented is statements.

Melvin then commented, “That is deep.” He mentally reflected, 'His comments on this are something that Balalaika, or Chang, might have come up with.'

Pedro agreed, “Yes. It is. Hernan seems to be full of surprises. And good ones, at that.”

Hernan said, in a grateful tone of voice, “Thank you.”

Melvin stated “I never would have thought of it that way, Hernan.”

Pedro pointed out, “Few people think the way Hernan does.” He turned to Hernan, as he continued, “Still Hernan, you were in a similar situation as Roberta, for a while there. Would you have taken up such an offer? If it was presented to you, and your loved ones?”

Hernan turned to Pedro, as he though about Pedro's question for a few seconds. Hernan then plainly answered, “I honestly don't know.”

Pedro responded, “That is a fair enough answer. Still, let us be happy that these characters do not exist in real life. Because, I have no idea how I would handle them if they came to my city.”

Melvin uncomfortably laughed. He then looked away from them, and towards the TV, which had nothing on it, as he replied, in a slightly shaken tone of voice, “Yea. Let us be happy about that.” He then turned back to look at his friends.

Hernan looked around the room, at his friends. He smiled, as he happily stated, “Fortunately, there are some things we do not have to worry about. And those women are one of those things.” He then picked up his latest bottle of beer, and he took a swallow from the bottle.

Hernan then set his bottle of beer back on the coffee table, as the five men continue their pleasant conversation for another hour, before they called it a night.

(_)

Reality, Hernan, Pedro, and Lee's Home Reality. Date, a few years later. Four days after Pedro and Matthew left Pedro's home reality. Location, De La Plata Podrido, inside the Rats Nest bar. Time, eight PM, at twilight, right before dark.

Revy, Rock, and their friends were inside, Rats Nest bar, and their party there was in full swing. Everyone in the bar was wearing casual clothing.

On the right side of the room, behind the part of the bar counter which faced the left side of the room, where the tables were, Bao looked at those around the room and for brief moment she felt a touch of nostalgia. She then cursed her fate, as she thought, 'Why do I always have to be the one on the outside?'

Due to the vat process, years ago, Bao was a woman whom looked in her mid-twenties. She had tanned skin, with slender athletic build. And her black hair was cut short, to her neckline. Among other things, she wore a white t-shirt, blue jeans, a brown leather belt, and dark blue tennis shoes.

Bao looked over to her left, at Melanie, whom was standing right beside her.

Melanie had use to be Melvin, before the vat process. And she was now a healthy, fair skin woman in her mid-twenties. She had a slender, athletic physical build, with brown hair, which was cut in short, boyish hair style. Right now, she was wearing casual clothing of a shirt, pants, and shoes, among other clothing items.

Melanie had taken the night off at her job bartending job at the Devil's Hotel, to help Bao with chaos the parties usual cause.

Bao smiled, as she thought, 'At least I am not alone. And I did try damn hard to get away from these bitches. And they just keep following me wherever I go. I thought if I just didn't state my name, nor an alias, that would work, but that damn Rock for being so smart.'

'Though, at least now, I have a nice girlfriend to help me out. Her boss at the hotel lets her help me out here on the busy nights. In exchange, I help her out on the busy nights that the hotel bar. It works out well. Considering we serve different groups of people, for the most part. With different off nights for us. Or, in some cases, what Revy's group is going to do, decides which of us is helping which. At least Dutch let's us know a day in advance as to when her crew here throws these parties. So, Melanie and I can plan ahead.'

'And with both of us superhuman, after closing, we have enough stamina to enjoy several more hours after work, before we have to get some rest for the night.'

'And unlike the past, no one has tried to extort money from us, nor pressure us into doing anything we do not want to do. And these are positive signs that our lives are looking up.'

Bao turned to look at the dark skinned woman sitting on a stool, near her, across the bar counter. The woman was Dutch, whom was enjoying a bottle of rum with a small glass. She was wearing clothing in the same style and colors as what she use to wear as a man.

Though, Dutch's clothing was tailored to fit her body. Along with other clothing items, underneath, the clothing consisted of a light green sleeveless shirt, dark green pants, black leather belt, open green flack jacket, and black boots. Though, she did not have on her green tinted sunglasses, with allowed Bao to see her eyes. And Dutch had her brown hair in dreadlocks, with her hair going down, just below her neckline.

Bao thought, 'And tonight, Dutch has been a good conservationist with Melanie and I. Her small talk is pretty good. And we can quietly listen to her, when we are not serving the others, and working behind the counter.'

'Also, it is good that this party is not as wild a usual. Considering some our regulars are not here. Such as those eight young adult girls, that are Lagoon and Akira's sets of kids. Dutch even mentioned those girls were getting something to eat at a restaurant across town.'

Bao looked over at Yolanda, Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin, whom were sitting at a table near the bar counter. Yolanda was drinking a bottle of water. Roberta was drinking a bottle of tequila with a small glass. Aeryn and Violin were each having a cold bottle of beer to drink.

Bao thought, 'At least some of the people here can like mature adults most of the time. Such as Yolanda, and Aeryn. Even Violin is mature most of the time. And surprising, when she is not on a rampage, Roberta can be a very good customer.'

'And thinking of the maids, I have no seen Fabiola in the last few days. I wonder what happened to her? But, I am not going to ask about her, because I know she can take care of herself.'

'Though, I am never going to try to collect on Roberta, and Fabiola, destroying my bars three times over. Including, them wrecking this bar once. Pissing off those women would be bad for both one's health, and one's insurance rates.'

'Besides, given the gold that Dutch, Benny, and Janet, regularly pay me. I have long since made up for what money I lost due to the damage to my bar.'

Bao turned to look at a two seat table by the back wall of the bar. At that table sat Janet and Benny. They two of them were sharing a bottle of rum with each having a small glass, while they were enjoying each others company, as they had quiet conversation with each other.

Bao thought, 'Still, others are in their own little world.'

Bao looked at another nearby table, between Benny and Janet's table, and the table that Yolanda, Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin's table, sat Balalaika and B. Both russian women were sharing a bottle of vodka, with each of them using a small glass. The two women we talking, as they watched the rest of their group's activities.

Bao thought, 'And I am not sure what they are doing. Maybe they are not even sure, right now.'

'And on another matter, even though they very nice women, I am glad that Akira, and her two girlfriends, Natsuru, and Ranma, are not here. Because, while they rarely start any problems. They can easily add to the situation.'

'Dutch mentioned that those three wanted to take a break tonight, from the party, and they agreed to babysit Violin and Aeryn's daughter, along with Shenhua, Sawyer, and Lotton's three kids, and Balalaika and B's two kids. On those last two, I pity those rugrats when they are potty trained.'

Bao looked over at large round table, in the upper left corner of the bar, where River, as Sam, and Lee use to sit at. At that table, sat Eda, Revy, Rock, Sawyer, Shenhua, and Lotton, with Eda and Revy sitting across from each other.

Currently, Eda and Revy were in a drinking contest. They were downing shots of hundred and eight proof whiskey like it was water. The other four at women at their table were drinking cold bottles of a quality asian brand of beer, while they cheered on Eda and Revy.

And Revy her on her semi-automatic pistols, in their shoulder holsters.

Bao mentally reflected, 'It seems that Revy and Eda are never going to change. I mean Revy is a mother, for crying out loud. And when the situation does not involve her kids, she still act like a teenager most of the time.'

'Though, even with them drinking so much. the one good think about being superhuman, while we can get drunk, it takes more alcohol, we can also sober up fast. All that is required is for our metabolism to kick in. Such as getting a burst of adrenalin going. This is good for when we want to have some sex, even while being a little too drunk to enjoy it. Five minutes worth of exercise and we are stone cold sober.'

'The one down side is that if we consume that much alcohol, that fast, our bodies will filter through our kidneys to quickly, that we will need to take a large piss within a few minutes of starting such a drinking binge. Though, that is better than liver poisoning. Which we none of us, whom undergone the vat process, have to worry about now.'

'And due to this, they are less likely to cause trouble. Unless they piss their pants and get pissed off. I will talk to Dutch about this. And I know just the way to do it.'

Bao turned to Dutch, as she lightly complained, in english, “Dutch, if those two keep this up, I won't have any drinks left by the end of the night.”

Dutch responded, in english, “Don't worry. I took care of it. I got them to agree that if the contest ends when one collapses from being drunk, which is not likely, one of them has to go pee, or one of them vomits.”

Bao pointed out, “I would think, given how long you have been female that you would know that a woman can be like a camel in such situations. Until they wait too long. Or, they vomit. Either way, they will embarrass themselves, and they will get angry.”

Dutch smirked, “It doesn't matter, as long as I am regularly paying you with these.”

Dutch pulled out a small bar of gold, from her flack jacket. She set it onto the bar counter, and she tapped the gold bar on the top of the bar.

Bao picked up the gold bar, and put it under the bar counter, as she replied, “That we agree on. Still, there are concerns I have about all of us.”

Dutch responded, “I am all ears.”

Bao stated, “Revy, still comes in with her guns.”

Dutch conceded, “Okay. You may have a point there. And between you and me, I think she prefers to have them on as a mental crutch, due events that happened to her in her youth.”

Bao commented, “Yea. I know what happened. Though, given how many times she had shot up my preview bars. And the few times she has done so here. Her being armed, and drinking, is a concern.”

Dutch said, “Okay. Point taken. I will speak to her, again, about it.”

Bao replied, “Thank you.”

The women at the bar heard a familiar female voice come close, from behind Dutch, to Dutch's right, as she calmly addressed them, in english, “I would not worry too much. Women such as Revy sometimes have to learn their lessons that hard ways.”

Both Dutch and Bao turned towards the voice, to see Yolanda, whom had gotten up from the table she was sitting at, and she was casually walking towards them.

Yolanda was dress in a yellow blouse, with a yellow long skirt, with yellow slippers. Her clothing matched her short blond hair, and looked good on her.

At the moment, Yolanda was about six feet from the bar counter, as she casually approached them.

Bao commented, “I am more concerned with someone getting hurt.”

Yolanda came to a stop, in front of the bar counter, beside Dutch, to Dutch's right side, as she said, “Then, we will just have to make sure that does not happen.”

Dutch turned to Bao, as she stated, “Speaking of which. I am surprised you are showing so much of a backbone, Bao.”

Bao responded, “Well, I am in better health now. And I have a girlfriend to worry about.”

Melanie, whom had been quietly listening to the conversation, chirped, in english, “Thanks.”

Bao looked over at Melanie, and she gave her a smile.

Melanie saw Bao's smile, and returned Bao's smile with her own smile.

Boa and Melanie then turned to look at Yolanda and Dutch, from across the counter. Which Dutch sitting in a stole, and Yolanda standing there, and facing them at an angle that allow her to look at Dutch, as well.

Dutch commented, “Those are all valid points.”

Bao said, “I am glad you see my reasoning.” She turned to Yolanda, as she asked, “What can I do for you, Yolanda?”

Yolanda calmly inquired, “I was wondering if any of you have seen Pedro, or Matthew, around?”

Bao answered, “No. I have not seen them.”

Dutch commented, “I was wondering that myself. They make such good designated drivers.”

Yolanda turned to Dutch, as she agreed, “That they do.” She looked over at Melanie, as she questioned, “Have you seen them?”

Melanie answered, “No. I haven't see them in that last few days.”

Dutch commented, “I thought you were good friends with Pedro?”

Melanie turned to Dutch, as she responded, “I am. But, with the whole gender bending thing, we drifted apart, a bit. Though, we are still good friends, but we don't do guys night out anymore, for obvious reasons.”

Dutch replied, “That's understandable.”

Bao stated, “I hope Revy and the others are not too upset at losing their usual designated drivers.”

Yolanda kindly said, “Fortunately, I am willing to fill in for Pedro and Matthew. Having a large food truck can come in handy. I can fit half of them into the truck at one time. So, I only need to make two trips. And as long as I drive slow, we should be fine.”

Dutch commented, “Yea. We are fine, since Yolanda is willing to stepping up to the plate for us.”

Bao asked, “So, that is why you are ordering bottles of water for yourself?”

Yolanda replied, “Yes.”

Bao complimented, “That is very kind of you.”

Yolanda responded, “Well, someone has to be the adult in this situation.”

Bao let out a small laugh. She then said, “Honesty, I think we might be the four most mature people in the room.”

Yolanda calmly stated, “I would have to agree with that assessment.”

Dutch said, “Hey. You're preaching to the choir. The stories I could tell you about, not only Revy, but Benny and Janet. Even Rock had his, and later her, moments.”

Dutch then looked back her at Revy and the others. And she saw what they busy, as she mentally reflected, 'I am just so happy they are so wrapped up in what they are doing, they are not noticing us talking about them.' She turned back to look back over at Bao, Melanie, and Yolanda, as she continued her thoughts, 'But, it is nice to talk to people about this, whom understand where I am coming from.'

Bao replied, “I bet.”

Yolanda stated, in a pleasant tone of voice, “I highly doubt those stories could hold a candle to some of the things that Eda, and even Rico, have pulled. And that is not even counting some of the other people I have worked with.”

Dutch suggested, “You and me really need to have a long talk, in private, over a few beers, about the subject of maturity, or lack there of, about our friends.”

Yolanda gave Dutch a humorous smile, as she said, “I fully agree.”

Bao offered, “Well, you both are more than welcome to come in on the off hours. Late mornings, and earlier afternoons are not that busy.”

Yolanda complimented, “Good idea.”

Dutch said, “Yes. We will work out the exact date, later.”

Bao stated, “Just let me know when.”

Dutch replied, “We will.” She then turned to Melanie, as she casually asked, “And what is your opinion on the what Bao said about the maturity of those in the bar?”

Melanie looked at Dutch. She then turned to Bao, as she smiled at her girlfriend. She said, “I am more than willing to agree with anything my girlfriend has to say.”

Bao looked at Melanie, as she returned Melanie's smile. She then turned back to look at Yolanda and Dutch, as she commented, “And people wonder why I am in a relationship with her.”

In response, Yolanda and Dutch lightly laughed, for a few seconds.

A few seconds after the two women calmed down, Melanie turned to look at Dutch and Yolanda, as she commented, “I wonder if Pedro and Matthew didn't run off, together.”

Yolanda said, “That is possible. Though, if they did, I hope they are far away. Because nothing less that would be a challenge to placate the appetites of those that would go after them.”

Dutch commented, “Yes. Those that would go after them do not like easy prey. They would consider it insulting, if they immediately found them, without any effort. Especially, Revy and Roberta.”

Yolanda shrugged towards Dutch, as she said, in a disappointed tone of voice, “True.”

Melanie replied, “I agree with both of you.”

Yolanda stated, “Still, I have faith that everything will turn out fine. With Pedro and Matthew returning here, safe and sound.” Yolanda turned to Bao, as she requested, “By the way, could I trouble you for another bottle of water?”

Bao replied, “Sure.” She then reached down below the bar counter, and opened the near by small refrigerator. She pulled out a cold bottle of water. Next, she leaned back up and set the bottle of water, on the bar counter between her, and Yolanda. After which, she commented, “And I hope you're right.”

Yolanda used her right hand to pick up the bottle of water, as she looked at Bao. She warmly smile at Bao, as she said, “Thank you.”

Bao returned Yolanda's smile, as she replied, “You're welcome.”

Yolanda looked around at Melanie, Bao, and Dutch, as she kindly said, “I will talk to you ladies, later.”

Dutch said, “We always enjoy your company.”

Yolanda replied, “I feel the same way.”

Yolanda then turned around, and she casually walked away from Bao, Melanie, and Dutch, as she headed for the table she shared with Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin.

Dutch, Bao, and Melanie watched Yolanda as she casually walked away from them.

Melanie asked, “Bao, have you ever figured out, Yolanda?”

Bao replied, “No. You?”

Melanie said, “No. How about you, Dutch?”

Dutch commented, “I learned a long time ago that Yolanda is just one of those people that I am never going to figure out. So, I stopped trying. And though, she is nice. Anyone who has known her for a while starts to realize that she is clearly thinking several steps ahead of everyone around her.”

Bao stated, “Yes. Let us just be happy that she prefers to be nice.”

Melanie replied, “Agreed.”

Dutch said, “No arguments here.”

Dutch turned around to face Bao and Melanie, as Bao and Melanie looked over at Dutch.

Dutch stated, “I also learned a long time ago to stay on that woman's good side.”

Melanie commented, “We all realized that, long ago.”

Bao said, “You are preaching to the choir.”

Dutch, Bao, and Melanie, continued their conversation, as Bao and Melanie did their jobs, as the bartenders for the room.

(_)

Nearby, with Yolanda's back turned to them, as she made her way to the table she sat at, Yolanda crack a grin as she overheard what Dutch, Bao, and Melanie said about her. She thought, 'I am glad that at least some people know their manners. And that, while it is impolite to talk about someone behind there back. I guess it is acceptable when such discussions are meant to be complimentary.”

Seconds later, Yolanda reached the table she shared with Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin.

Before Yolanda sat down, she set her bottle of water on the table, in front of her chair.

Her chair had her facing the windows on the left side of the bar, with her back to the bar counter.

The other three women looked up at her, before they turned their attention back to talking amongst each other.

As Yolanda sat down in her chair, looked around the table. Across from her, Roberta had already polished off half of the large bottle of quality tequila she was drinking. To her right Aeryn was almost finished with her bottle of beer. While to her left, Violin was not even half way finished with her beer.

While Yolanda got conformable, she thought, 'It seems Violin has not had much to drink tonight. And with her being half super-soldier alien, she is still likely more than sober enough to drive, if I need back up. And having secondary plans is always a good idea.'

Yolanda opened her bottle of water, dropped the cap on the table, and took a swallow. She then set the bottle onto the table. She turned to look at the back corner table, which was to her right, where Eda and Revy sitting down, and conducting a drinking contest, where they were matching shot for shot of alcohol.

Yolanda thought, 'Sometimes I wonder if those two will ever grow up. Still, there is another matter I need to ask about, with someone at this table.'

Yolanda looked across the table at Roberta, as she asked, “So Roberta, have you seen Fabiola? I haven't see her around in the last few days. Has she gone back home to visit Garcia, and her family?”

Roberta looked over at Yolanda, as she took a sip of tequila, from her small glass. She set her glass down on the table, as she swallowed the alcohol. She then answered, “Sadly, no. She has gone off on an errand for Annie.”

Roberta thought, 'Fabiola told me that she was going after Pedro, Matthew, Chang, River, and Lee. It seems this is when Pedro and Matthew finally bolted from here, and into the multiverse. Not that I blame them. Now, that I think about it, it was quite hilarious in how we met their future selves. And I wish Fabiola luck. Also, I told her if she was gone to long, from my point of view, I would be coming after her, which she said she was fine with.'

Violin commented, “If Annie is asking her to do something, it must be important.”

Yolanda looked over at Violin, as she said, “I agree.” She then looked back at Roberta, as she questioned, “Still, onto another matter. Roberta. I have been wondering. And not to sound like a gossip. But, what is the group dynamic between you three?” She mentally reflected, 'I have never been sure about the relationships between you, Fabiola, and Garcia. And I haven't gotten around to asking any of them, until now.'

Roberta was silent, for a few seconds. She then answered, in a sober tone of voice, “It is a little complicated. We are not really a threesome. Fabiola and I love Garcia. But, Fabiola understands that the love Garcia and I share is much deeper than the connection she has with Garcia. While, her relationship with Garcia is more of a friendship.”

Aeryn and Violin could not help but overhear Roberta's comments.

Violin asked, “Like friends with benefits?”

Roberta replied, “Yes.”

Aeryn questioned, with curiosity in her tone of voice, “And you don't mind?”

Roberta looked down at the table, as she said, in a sad, low tone of voice, “While, I loath to admit it, Fabiola can show Garcia a softer, more feminine side, that I long ago lost the ability to show. And because of that, I don't mind her sharing a bed with Garcia.”

Violin commented, “Well, you make up for it in other ways.”

Roberta looked over at Violin, as she shrugged. She said, “True.”

Yolanda pointed out, “Still, I thought you and Fabiola have made love before?”

Roberta stated, “We did. And we tried to make it work, as a threesome. But, it just didn't come about.”

Yolanda replied, “I am sorry to hear that.”

Roberta responded, “Don't be. We may not be lovers. But, we are good friends.”

Yolanda commented, “Well, at least there is that.”

Aeryn teased, “So, what about Garcia's feminine side?”

Roberta answered, “For Garcia, his female form is more like a shadow, than a side. I know, the only times most of you see Garcia in his female form, at those bikini parties.”

“Though, in his mind, Garcia is still almost all male. And Garcia has grown to be a fine, handsome man that I know his parents would be proud of. To that end, he rarely shows his female form, except for in the bedroom, during those parties, or when it is biologically necessary.”

Yolanda shrugged, as she commented, “Ah, the price of femininity.”

Roberta replied, “Yes.”

Yolanda asked, “So, what is Garcia up to these days?”

Roberta said, “Same as always. Garcia has grown up to be a very responsible adult. As such, it is his responsibility to oversee his family businesses, and holdings. That is why he is not with us here, right now.”

Violin commented, “I was wondering about that.”

Aeryn stated, “Still, responsibility is a good reason to stay. And I must admit that it sounds like you have found a good catch with Garcia.”

Roberta said, “More like he found me.” Roberta continued, in a more solemn tone of voice, As you all know, Garcia has seen me at my absolute worst, and even then, he showed me that loves me. That is a man I never want to give up on.”

Roberta thought, 'I am so happy that he fully recover from the wounds, where I had shot him, while I was deranged, in the jungle. It took him a couple of months. But, he fully healed, while taking care of me. When I was crippled and maimed. And I will never forget that generosity by him. Where he took care of me, while he was still healing, and in pain, himself.'

Violin held up her bottle of beer, as she replied, “Amen to that sister.” She took a swallow of her beer. She then set her bottle back down on the table.

Roberta just warmly smiled towards Violin, in agreement.

The four women then continued their conversation, on more casual, and relaxing, topics.

(_)

Across the room, in the left back corner of the bar, Revy, Eda, Rock, Lotton, Shenhua, and Sawyer sat at the rounded table.

Revy had her back to the windows, on the left side of the bar. The seating order, clockwise, was Revy, Shenhua, Sawyer, Lotton, Eda, and Rock.

There were several bottles of whiskey, with dozens of small shot glasses on the table. Most of the bottles of whiskey and shot glasses were empty.

Along with this, there were a bottles of a quality asian brand of beer, that that Rock, Sawyer, Shenhua, and Lotton were each having a bottle of, to drink.

Revy and Eda continued their drink game, in that each would pick up a full shot glass of whiskey, and they would down their swallow of alcohol at the same time.

As this went on, Rock refilled the shot glasses by Revy, while Lotton refilled the shot glassed by Eda.

Rock, Lotton, Sawyer, and Shenhua cheered Revy and Eda on, as they continued their contest. All the while, Eda and Revy traded friendly insults between gulps.

Rock said, “Come on, Revy. You can do it.”

Lotton stated, “Eda, don't give up. Don't give in.”

Shenhua said, “Revy, don't make our race look bad.”

Swayer looked over at Shenhua, as she commented, “Speak for yourself, Shenhua. With that red hair, she is only half chinese.” She turned to Eda, as she stated, “Go Eda.”

After Eda and Revy both took another gulp of whiskey. As they sat down their shot glasses, Eda said, “Given it up, Revy. I don't want you to piss your pants, or throw up.”

Just as Eda and Revy set their shot glasses down, on the table, they immediately picked up two full small shot glasses, which had been refilled by Lotton and Rock, with their right hands.

They then both took another swallow of whiskey.

As they set those two shot glasses down onto the table, Revy used her free, left forearm to wipe off the alcohol from her lips. She then responded, “Dream on, Eda. I can do this all day long.”

And their drinking contest continued.

(_)

Meanwhile, outside, a few buildings away, the Pena family entered a nice Italian, family oriented restaurant.

An hour ago, Hernan Pena had gotten off of work as an auto-mechanic, at the business he ran and owned. And that day, he wanted to treat his family to a nice dinner, out of the kindness of his own heart.

Hernan was a black haired, hispanic man in his forties. Even given his age, he was very physically fit. He wore a dark blue button up, long sleeved shirt, with some dark jeans, black leather belt, and black boots. Even though it was nearly dark, he was wearing his sunglasses.

Hernan's much younger wife, by at least fifteen years, was named Maria. She had fair skinned woman with long blond hair. She was quite beautiful, with a slender frame. She wore a green filly blouse, and a long green skirt, with green slippers. She had a green purse, that fit the color of her dress.

Hernan and Maria were both happily married to each other.

With them, were their three children. The ages of their three children span between ages six to ten. Two boys and a girl.

All three children were casually dressed.

The oldest was a boy, ten, he looked more more like his mother. The middle child was a girl, eight, and she looked somewhat like her father. The youngest child, a boy, six had his father's hair, but his mother's looks.

After Hernan parked the their car near in the nearby restaurant parking lot, the Pena family got out of the car, and they headed for the front entrance to the restaurant.

When the reached the front entrance, Hernan opened the front door to the restaurant for his wife, and three young children.

After his family went inside, Hernan entered the building himself, with him letting the door slowly close behind him.

With all five family members inside, they then walked to a six chair table, near one of the walls of the restaurant. Maria sat down first. Then, children found their own seats around a table. With Hernan being the last to seat himself into a chair.

A few seconds later, a waitress came by, carrying menus. She was middle-aged, of average height, and physically fit. Though, her body was on the slender side. Her skin tone and facial features showed she was from India.

She looked down at this, as she spoke in spanish, with a Hindi accent, “Hello Maria, and Hernan.”

Hernan said, in spanish, “Hi Grace.”

Maria inquired, in spanish, “Hello Grace. How are you and Isandro doing?”

Grace answered, “We are doing fine. I hope you five can say the same.”

Maria happily replied, “We can.”

Grace said, “Good. Here are your menus. I will be back in a few minutes to get your orders.”

Maria replied, “Thank you.”

Grace then handed Maria and Hernan, each a menu, for their family to order from. Grace then walked away, so she could attend to her other customers.

The husband and wife looked at their menus, to decide what they wanted to get for themselves, and their children.

(_)

At that moment inside the Rats Nest bar, Bao and Melanie, stood behind the bar counter, with Dutch sitting in a stool across from them.

Bao stated, “Dutch, I am still concerned with these drinking games by Revy and Eda. Just because we have superhuman levels of tolerance to alcohol, among other things, does not mean we should be abusing our bodies.”

Dutch commented, “You are the bartender of this place. Why don't you just cut them off.”

Bao deadpanned, “Because I don't want to die.”

Dutch conceded, “Fair enough.”

Bao said, “Listen Dutch, even we need down time. For that matter, this neighborhood needs down time from these women.”

“This neighborhood use to be very nice. To be honest, I like some of the nearby restaurants. The owners and I had an understanding. I keep the craziness off the street and they let Melanie and I eat at their places, without them asking questions about us, on so many topics. But, that was then. Now, they won't even talk to us. Nor, let me eat at their establishments. And I liked their food.”

Melanie commented, “Yea. We had some great dates at those places.”

Bao looked over at Melanie, as she agreed, “Yes. They did.” She turned back to Dutch, as she continued, “I am genuinely worried. If this wildness by the girls continues, they might do something stupid one of these days. Like torch the bar while it is closed.”

Dutch smirked, “I won't worry. Nobody would crazy enough to mess with us. A bar full of superhuman badasses from other realities. Along with a few of us being armed.”

Bao replied, “I hope you are right.” She mentally added, 'And that you didn't just jinx us.'

(_)

Meanwhile, at the left back, corner table, Revy suddenly dropped the shot glass she was about to drink, onto the table, as she bolted for the women's restroom.

While Eda held her full, small shot glass, she watched Revy entered the women's restroom. She stated, “Finally...” She then turned to the others at her table, as she calmly set her shot glass back onto the table. She asked, “Would you say I am now the winner?”

Lotton answered, “Yes.”

Eda replied, “Good.” She then bolted for the women's restroom, as well.

At the table all for women still sitting at the table watched this. As Sawyer and Shenhua giggled, Rock said, “Given how much the two of them drunk, I am surprised they could run that fast, let alone hold it in for this long.”

Lotton commented, “Let us hope they did.”

Rock turned to Lotton, as she agreed, “Yes. Let's hope so.”

(_)

A few minutes later, both Revy and Eda came out of the women's restroom, while the argued.

Revy was first out of the restroom, with Eda right behind her, with the women's restroom door closing behind Eda.

Revy warned, “Eda, I am buzzed, and pissed that I lost to you. Don't rub it in.”

Eda teased, “Oh, but what is the fun in that.”

Revy growled, “Fine! You asked for it.”

Revy pulled out both her pistols. Pulled back the slides on them, loading a bullet into the chamber of each pistol, and she then fired a couple of shots towards Eda.

Eda ducked and the shots, but the bullets went through the side wall, and continued traveling through the next few buildings. Eda thought, 'Damn it. I hate it when she gets like that.”

Nearby, Rock yelled at Revy, “Revy, cut it out, before you hurt someone!”

Revy continued holding her semi-automatic pistols, but they were not pointed at anyone. She turned to Rock, as she said, “Fine, Rock. Be a pussy. I am going to the counter, and talk to Dutch, Bao, and Melanie.” She then turned and headed for the bar counter, where Dutch was sitting.

Meanwhile, Eda got up, and walked over to the left counter table, to where she was sitting.

As Eda sat down in her chair, Shenhua turned to Eda, she commented, “Ex-nun should know better than to treat Revy like that. Especially, after so many drinks. Unless she wants to meet god, personally.”

Eda turned Shenhua, as she flatly replied, “No shit, Shenhua.”

Shenhua, Sawyer, Lotton, and Rock, burst out laughing at Eda's response to Shenhua's comment.

(_)

Less than half a minute ago, in Italian family restaurant, a few buildings away, the Pena family were sitting at their table, and they had just decided what they would eat and were waiting for someone to take their order, when a couple of bullets came thought the wall, on the right side of the building, from the front. With the bullets nearly the members of the Pena.

Hernan immediate realized what was happening, as he yelled, in spanish, “Down!”

Hernan's family quickly did as he had trained them to do, as they ducked under the table they were at.

A few seconds later, Hernan noted that no more bullets were coming in.

Hernan looked up, above the table and saw that everyone else appeared to be fine, thought they seemed to have not reacted the bullets had come through the building.

Hernan thought, 'Amateurs.' He turned to his family, as he asked in spanish, with concern in his tone of voice, “Everyone get up from the under the table.”

As they all stood up, he asked his family, “Is everyone fine?”

Maria said, in spanish, “I think I was hit.”

Hernan's heart skipped a beat in fear, as he asked, “Where?”

Maria answered, “My right shoulder.”

Hernan rushed over to Maria, as he requested, “Let me see.”

When Hernan reached Maria, she showed him her right upper arm, by her shoulder.

Hernan looked at Maria's right shoulder. He saw that the clothing was torn, with the skin underneath being exposed.

Hernan breathed a sigh of relief, as he thought, 'It looks like the wound is very superficial. It is not even bleeding.... Good.'

Maria said, in spanish, “It is just a minor scratch. It does not even hurt much. It is not even bleeding.”

Hernan stood up straight, as he looked over at Maria. He requested, “Good. But, get a little antiseptic on it when you have the chance.”

Maria looked over at Hernan, as she said, “I will.”

Hernan then looked at the bullet holes in the wall, as he coldly thought, 'From the angles, I know where the shots came from. This will not happen again.'

Maria noticed that her husband's body language completely changed from relax to ridged.

Hernan looked at Maria, as he calmly said, “Stay here with the children. I will be back in a little while.”

Just then, Grace rushed out of the kitchen, as she stated, in spanish, “Someone said there were gun shots. It anyone hurt.”

Hernan turned to Grace, as her stated, “Maria was the only one hit. And it is just a scratch. But, get her some alcohol and clean napkins.”

Grace looked over at Hernan, as she replied, “I'm on it.”

Grace then ducked back into the kitchen, as Hernan turned, and head for the front door to the restaurant.

As Hernan walked up to the front door, opened it, and exited the building, he let the door close, be itself, behind him.

As Hernan and Maria's children watched their father leave the restaurant they were in, daughter asked, in spanish, “Is daddy going to go kick someone's ass?”

The eldest son replied, in spanish, “Yep.”

The younger son and daughter replied, in unison, in spanish, “Cool!”

(_)

A few minutes later, inside Rats Nest bar, Revy had her cutlasses on the bar counter, in front of her, as she stood beside Dutch, to Dutch's left side.

Across from them was Bao and Melanie.

For the last few minutes, Revy had whined to Dutch, Bao, and Melanie about losing her drinking contest to Eda. The other three women knew better than to say anything about Revy's loss, to her.

Revy continued to complain, “I cannot believe I lost that way. But, I was about to piss my pants. Though, so was she.”

Bao commented, “Consider it the lesser of two embarrassments.”

Revy turned Bao, as she nodded once to the bartender. She replied, “Good point.”

Bao thought, 'At least, I got her to agree with me on that point. And it looks like she is not going to do anything else tonight, that is stupid.'

Suddenly, everyone heard the door of the front entrance to the bar, the entrance open. Everyone went quiet, as they turned to the door, to see bearded man walk into the bar.

All eyes turned on the man, whom had black haired, with a groomed full beard, dark blue long sleeved button up shirt, and dark jeans, black leather belt, and black boots. He was also wearing sunglasses.

Melanie's eyes went wide at who she saw. She thought, with concern, 'That is Hernan. What is he doing here? He should know better than to come here.'

Lotton stated, to Hernan, “This is a private party. Please leave.”

Hernan ignored Lotton, as he looked around. His attention was then drawn to Revy, and the two pistols that were on the bar counter, by Revy.

Revy noticed the man looking at her, but she did nothing to respond to the man's attention towards her.

Hernan left the door open, as he calmly walked towards Revy.

Looked at Hernan, walking towards her, Melanie, Revy, and Dutch. She thought, 'Damn it. I have seen this dance enough times to know where it is going to end... Looks like Dutch jinxed us.'

Bao immediately, but calmly, reached, under the bar counter, for her loaded semi-automatic pistol, which was holstered under the bar counter, near where she and Melanie were standing.

But, just as Bao was able to pull her pistol, out of its holster, from under the bar counter, with her right hand, Melanie calmly placed her right hand on Bao's right forearm.

Bao looked at Melanie, and she saw her girlfriend was giving her a serious expression on her face.

Melanie shook her head once for Bao not to pull out her pistol.

Bao thought, 'I trust Melanie. So, I won't do anything for the moment. Still, I want to know why Melanie stopped me?' She let go of her pistol, as she stood up straight.

As Melanie let go of Bao's right forearm, she thought, 'Good. I didn't want Bao to get us both killed. Especially, since I don't know what is going.'

Bao then leaned over and whispered something into Melanie's ear.

The room continued to remain quiet, except for Bao and Melanie whispering to each other, which Hernan ignored.

Hernan soon reached Revy, with Dutch sitting in her stool, right beside Hernan, to his right side.

Hernan looked down at the woman. It was then that his attention turned to Revy's two semi-automatic pistols on the bar counter next to Revy. He then turned his attention back to Revy.

Revy realized, in thought, 'This man is looking for a fight. Well, I will give him a funeral.' She then quickly grabbed her pistols.

But, before Revy could take aim, Hernan used his right fist to do an uppercut to her stomach that knocked the wind out of her, while raising her three feet in the air backward, and forcing her to let go of her pistols.

As Revy fell backward onto the floor, the man use each of his hands to skillfully catch one of Revy's pistols by their grips.

Afterward, Hernan quickly turned the pistols on the crowd.

As Hernan fired the bullets of over their heads, the women all swiftly ducked under their tables.

Though, Hernan was careful to angle the bullets so they would hit the empty parking spaces outside, and not go through the buildings, or vehicles, outside.

As the pistols ran out of ammo, he dropped them to the floor. Hernan looked over at the women cowering under their tables, as he coldly warned them, in english, “Stay out of this.”

Suddenly, with Hernan's back to her, Dutch threw a punch, with her right hand, towards the back of Hernan's head.

Hernan sidestepped the blow, to his left, as he also crouched down. This allowed Dutch's strike to go over Hernan's right shoulder. Hernan then grabbed Dutch right forearm arm, with his hands. Next, Hernan used Dutch's right forearm arm as leverage to pull Dutch from her stool, and flip her body onto her back, on the table in front of them.

Dutch came too with just enough time to see the incoming left elbow heading towards her face, She swiftly rolled out of the way, to her left, and onto the floor beside her, with her feet and hands hitting the floor. This put Dutch in a crotch position.

Hernan's blow, with his shattered the wood of the table, where her head has just been.

As Dutch looked up at the man, Hernan looked down at her, as he stood straight up.

Hernan coldly said, in english, “Stay out of this, if you want to live.”

By then, Revy was able to stand up, and she had recovered enough to rushed at Hernan.

Two seconds later, Revy was thrown through a bar window, over the walkway, in front of the bar, and onto the street, itself.

Inside the bar, Hernan calmly walked towards the entrance of the bar, to meet back with his prey.

(_)

Twenty seconds ago, inside the Rats Nest.

Hernan had just shot at the women at the tables, with the women immediately ducking under those same tables.

As the gun shots ending, and Hernan dropped the Revy's pistols onto the floor, Lotton commented, “Revy's going to be pissed. Not only did that man punch Revy out, but he used her pistols.”

Sawyer asked, “Who is this lunatic?”

Shenhua stated, “The better question would be, how long is that man going to live? And which one of us kills him?”

Under nearby table, B stated, “Since Revy does not have her guns, I would guess that man will be dead within ten minutes.

While crouching beside B, Balalaika said, “You are being generous, love. I would say five minutes. But, we will do need to know who this man is. If, for any other reason, than to notify his next of kin, and present the repair bills to them.”

As Sawyer heard what Balalaika said, she looked over at Balalaika. Sawyer commented, “Do not take this the wrong way, but you have mellowed a bit, Balalaika.”

Balalaika turned to Sawyer, as she stated, “My priorities have changed a bit. And my blood thirst has taken a backseat to other matters.”

Rock thought, 'Like one's children. Still, I know who this is. And I need to let the others know.' She said, “I recognize that black, well groomed, full beard anywhere. That is Hernan Pena, a local mechanic.”

A few feet from them, under their own table, Benny and Janet were sharing, Benny overheard Rock, as she asked, “Who does this guy think he is, Charles Bronson?”

Janet commented, “Whoever he is, he is going to be dead, soon as Revy gets up off that floor.”

Rock inquired, “What I want to know is what is he doing here?”

Lotton deadpanned, “Clearly, he is no mood to talk, right now.”

Under another table, Yolanda commented, “I remember him. He worked on our burger van a few of times. Nice guy. But, there was something about him...”

Rock finished for Yolanda, “Like there is similar about him? Like you should know him, but you cannot place where?”

Yolanda responded, “Exactly. And that he was pretended to be nicer than he really was.”

Suddenly, they saw Hernan duck Dutch's blow, from behind. With Hernan then catching Dutch's arm, and using her arm to flip her onto the table in front of them. Though, Dutch was able to roll out of the way of the incoming elbow that destroyed part of the table.

Roberta said, “Those are not bad moves. And to be honest, he had us dead to rights with Revy's cutlasses. He just choose to shoot over our heads, and not at us.”

Balalaika commented, “True. And given moves like that, if I didn't know better, I would say he was from Roanapur. I want to know who he really is, and why he is doing this, before we decide what to do with him.” She mentally reflected, 'I should have known something was up about him, with those eyes of his. When I took my car over to him, to be worked on. Still, it looks like we will have answers to our questions, soon enough.'

B looked over at Balalaika, as she commented, “At least he did a good job on your car.”

Balalaika turned to B, as she shrugged. She replied, “True.”

They then saw Revy back on her feet, and rush toward Hernan, only to have Hernan use the momentum of Revy's rush towards him, to throw her so far, and so hard, that she went through one of the front windows, with her landing in the street, outside.

Eda commented, “Even Revy is going to feel that one.”

Rock winched her face for a second, as she agreed, “You got that right.”

(_)

A minute ago, in the Rats Nest, beside the bar counter, Melanie just stopped Bao from pulled out her semi-automatic pistol, from its holster, under the back of the bar counter.

As Bao stood up straight, she leaned over to Melanie, as she whisper into her girlfriends ear, “Why did you stop me?”

Melanie quietly answered, “Because it will only make things worse. That is Hernan Pena. You might have never met him.”

Bao quietly commented, “No. I don't recall meeting him.”

Melanie whispered, “Well, Pedro and I know who he is. He a friend. And he also is a family man, and a local auto-mechanic. He rarely drinks, which is why you have never run into him. He only drinks a few beers per week.”

Bao softly replied, “Okay. That puts him in a better bracket of people than most of my customers. So, what else can you tell me about him?”

Melanie quietly responded, “He has a wife, Maria, and three young kids. And normally, Hernan is one of the sweetest, nicest person you will ever meet. If he wasn't married. And now that I am a woman. I might take a shot at dating him.”

Bao softly replied, “Really?”

Melanie quietly stated, “Yes. Really. So, as I am sure you already guessed, if he is like this, we are in trouble. The only reason he would be like this is if one of Revy's shots hurt his family. I wish the Pedro was here. Only he, or Maria, have ever been able to talk Hernan down.”

Bao softly pointed out, “Of course, Pedro and Matthew are missing. As we just talked with Yolanda and Dutch here. And they left due to the girls treating them like crap. Also, the Pedro is smart enough to see the writing on the wall. He has lost the city and soon Chang, or Balalaika, would have had him taken care of. Actually, Chang or Balalaika might have eventually tried to brainwash and change him. Like what was done to us. From what I understand, Pedro knows all about us, he could guess what was coming, for him.”

Melanie whispered, “Yes. He is the sharpest person I know. Including, Lee, River, and Chang.”

Bao softly replied, “I agree.”

Bao thought, 'I even slept with him, and his brother, before everyone else, but you, showed up. And Pedro seemed to taken finding out who I am, in stride. So, he is a much better person than most. Still...' Bao whispered, “I don't know how, but I got a feeling they stole a reality traveling device and ran. Though, we did the same thing, and didn't do us any damn good. I ran. You ran. And I doubt it will do them any good in the long run, either. But, at least we all tried.”

“So, what is the story behind Hernan? Why are you so scared of him?”

Melanie quietly responded, “I admit that Hernan can sometimes scare me. You were not here a several years ago, when it happened. But, don't feel bad, I didn't get here when it happened, either.”

“Though, Pedro told me this tale over some beers at the hotel bar, one night, a few years ago. And this was because we were both friends with Hernan. Pedro invited us both to his house, for his movie nights, and we met each other, their.”

“Still, I didn't get the full story, but I do know Hernan is a former FARC member, and he had some serious combat training, from his to days in FARC...”

Bao softly asked, “Like Roberta here?”

Melanie quietly answered, “Yes. And someone wanted Hernan dead, real badly. They sent a small army after him. Here to Plata Podrido. They attacked a police cookout, which Pedro oversaw, that Hernan and his family were at.”

“The good news was that the attackers didn't kill anyone, while those that returned fire did kill the attackers. Of those injured was Hernan's wife, Maria. In the aftermath, Pedro could tell that Hernan recognized them.”

“Hernan had his kids stay with some family friends, while he was in the waiting room at the hospital, as the doctors did surgery on Maria. Fortunately, the bullets missed her organs and did not do any serious damage to her body. As such, she fully recovered.”

“Pedro was also there, checking on his own men that had been injured. He saw that after Hernan got the news that Maria would be fine, that he eyes got even harder. Pedro could tell that Hernan was about to tear apart the city to get to the rest of those that had threatened his family.”

“But, Pedro wanted answers, first. And he knew that Hernan had many of those answers. And Pedro didn't want Hernan to go on his revenge spree, until he had those answers. So, Pedro used a tranquilizer dart to knock him out. When Hernan awoke, he was literally chained to a hospital bed. And Pedro was there to talk to him.”

“Pedro cut deal with Hernan. He would help Hernan with his revenge, while having his brother, Paciano, the mob boss controlling the city at that time, help make sure it did not happen again. In exchange for answers about who Hernan really was.”

“Hernan answered Pedro's questions. I don't know what was said, but it impressed Pedro, a lot. And Pedro released Hernan from that bed. They then went to the police station weapon's locker to get some weapons.”

“Soon after, he and Pedro got a tip where the local headquarters for behind the attack were. They were all out of towners that were staying at building on the outskirts of town.”

“Pedro armed himself, and he armed Hernan. And this is where it gets really interesting. Pedro said is they cleaned house. And it was mostly Hernan who did it. Pedro just protected Hernan's back.”

“Hernan used two semi-automatic pistols, and he killed around fifty armed men. Most of whom had combat training, as well.”

“Afterward, Pedro called Hernan the Piacasso of Pain. And after the massacre, Paciano was able to cut a deal with those after Hernan, and they left the Pena family alone after that.”

“Hernan now owes Pedro a favor. And Pedro considers Hernan his ace in the hole. His one man army. And from the sound of it, Hernan really is that dangerous.”

“In the aftermath of that whole incident, there is an unspoken rule in the city. Nobody threatens the mechanic, or his family.”

Bao softly said, “You make it sound like he is another Bloodhound.”

A few seconds later, as Bao's comment sunk in, Melanie paled, as several pieces fell into place about the Pena family.

Melanie whisper something to Bao, and Bao's eyes widen for a seconds, before Bao forced herself to calm down, and return her eyes to normal

By then, Hernan had thrown Revy through the window, and he had followed her outside.

Melanie softly said, “I am going to find Maria and their kids. I know which nearby restaurant they likely went too. It is a starting point. If something did happen to them, I will get them help, if they need it. If not, I will bring Maria here, to calm Hernan down.”

Bao quietly asked, “And if one of them has been killed?”

Melanie softly answered, “Then, we both leave this reality, as soon as possible. Just try to keep the others from interfering in his fight with Revy. That will only make things worse.”

Bao quietly replied, “I will.”

Melanie then rushed toward the back exit of the building.

Bao looked over the other women in the room. As the women were coming out from under their tables, and standing up, Bao stated, “Everyone. Melanie just told me who this guy is. Take my word on this, please, don't interfere in this fight unless Revy is about to be crippled, or killed.”

The other women in the room turned to Bao, as Sawyer asked, “How do you know that it is Revy that will be on the losing side?”

Bao said, “If what I heard from my girlfriend is true, then Revy is about to get her ass kicked. Hard.”

By then, Dutch stood up straight. She stated, “Well, whatever we do, I suggest we don't attack him from behind. That little move he did to me, hurt.”

Benny asked, “Are you okay, Dutch?”

Dutch turned to Benny, as she answered, “Yea. I am okay, Benny.”

Balalaika suggested, “Then, it might be best to watch, for right now. Until we figure out a better plan to deal with him.”

B agreed, “Good idea.”

The women, including Bao, then made their way outside, so they could watch the fight.

As Boa walked around the counter, from the bar, and then down the outside of the counter, towards the door, with the rest of the women, she thought, 'At least, except for my customers, it is rare for cars to drive by this street, and people to walk on the sidewalks, here, at this time in the evening. So, this fight likely won't have strangers coming by to interrupt what is happening.'

(_)

Meanwhile, outside, there was still enough daylight from the sun, as it was still setting, for people to see.

As Revy stood up, she noticed that, while she only had a few scrapes, and bruises from going through the window, and her landing, that she was also sobering up, as well.

As she saw Hernan calmly approach her, she angrily stated, “Okay bastard. I had a nice buzz going. But, you caused me to sober up. Now, I am going to kick your ass.”

Revy rushed at Hernan, as she threw a punch him.

Hernan easily avoided the blow. He then used his longer reach to his advantage, as he punched Revy in the face.

From there, the battle went down hill for Revy.

Even with her enhanced strength and reflexes, Revy was clearly no match this Hernan's better training and experience in hand to hand combat.

While both of them dodged or blocked a number of blows, for every blow Revy landed on Hernan, Hernan landed three on Revy. Due to this pounding, Revy's tougher body was the only reason she was still standing.

And to her concern, Revy found that none of her blows seem to effect Hernan at all.

Revy began backing up across the street from the Rats Nest, with Hernan following her, step for step.

As Revy took another step backwards, she thought, with worry, 'This guy is like a machine. He takes a pounding like it is nothing, and he dishes it with equal force... There are only a few people I know that fight like this, and all of them are dangerous... I think I am trouble.”

Revy then stood her ground for a moment, as they began trading blows once more.

Revy then got a lucky shot in that broke the man's glasses.

As Hernan's broken glasses fell from his face and to the ground, Revy saw the cold killing intent in Hernan's blue eyes.

Seeing the coldness in Hernan's eyes, slightly startled Revy, and caused her to take a step back. But, as Revy backed up another step, only to find that she had back up to the right side of the front hood of a red painted, four door, parked car, on the opposite side of the street from the Rats Nest. The car was parked on the road, beside the curb to the sidewalk on the side of the street. The car the left side of the Rats Nest bar.

Revy did not expect the vehicle to be there, and the car provided enough of distraction for the man to land a powerful upper cut to her jaw that lifted her up, onto the car front windshield.

Revy's landed on her back, and she cracked the windshield, but did not break it. Her body then slowly slid down to the hood of the car. As she came to a stop on the hood of the red car, her legs were hanging off the side of the hood.

(_)

By then, the rest of the group of women had made it outside of the Rats Nest.

The women stood in front of the entrance to the Rats Nest, as they watched in surprise, as the fight took a grim turn for Revy.

As Revy laid on her back on the cracked car windshield, Shenhua mentally realized, 'That man is about to kill her. I take offense to that. If anyone is going to kill Revy in battle. It should be me. And not some nobody. Fortunately, his back was turned to us. So, this should be all too easy.'

Shenhua pulled out her right kukris long knife. The weapon was under the right interior side of her white jacket, but over her red qipao. She then quickly pulled out the end of the cord hidden under the right sleeve of her white jacket, which was attached on the other end of the cord to a cloth band on her right forearm. Next, she hooked the cord to the loop on the bottom of the hilt of her kukris.

Shenhua then threw her long knife, aiming dead center, between Hernan's shoulder blades.

But, at the last second, Hernan stepped out of the way, to his left, and he caught the knife, but its hilt, with his right hand, without looking.

The women in the crowd look at in astonishment, at what Hernan had just done.

Violin asked, in disbelief, “We didn't just see that? Did we?”

Aeryn replied, “Yes. We just did.” She thought, 'And I am not really surprised that Shenhua brought her weapons, when she went drinking. She and Revy are probably not the only one's here with their weapons. And I am not going to complain, because, unlike Revy, Shenhua has always drunk responsibly. I have never seen her go off on someone, just because she was drink. Other reasons, yes. But, not just over drinking alcohol.'

Shenhua thought, with surprised, 'Okay. I admit it. He's good.'

Hernan turned around, clockwise, to face the women. He then quickly used his left hand to pull up the slack on the cord that was attached between the knife in his hand, to the cloth band on Shenhua's right forearm.

Then, with a flick of his left wrist, he made Shenhua's cord loop and snap back on itself, as the cord immediately rapped around the throat of a very surprised Shenhua. Hernan then pulled pulled back tightly on the cord.

Shenhua thought, with worry, 'Uh oh. I think I am in trouble.' She then swiftly tried to used her fingers to free her throat from the cord, as she began to choke.

While pulling back on the cord with his left hand, Hernan let up enough slack to allow himself to plant the bottom of his left boot on the cord, against the ground, for added leverage.

This caused the cord to tighten further, as it lower to the ground, forcing Shenhua to kneel on her left knee, before Hernan.

The other women were so caught up in the moment, of what was happening, that none of them immediately leaned down to aid Shenhua.

Hernan coldly warned, “Do not interfere, again.”

Hernan then allowed his left hand to let go of the cord, creating some slack that allow him to use the knife to cut the cord between him and Shenhua. used the knife in his hand to cut the cord,

The cord instantly went loose around Shenhua's throat, allowing her to gasp for air.

Sawyer looked down at Shenhua, as she asked, “Are you all right, Shenhua?”

Shenhua sat on the ground, as she continued to breath. She looked up at Sawyer. She answered, “Yes. And I think I know who he reminds me of. But, I don't want to say who for the sake of my own sanity.”

Sawyer commented, “Okay. It can wait a few minutes, until you feel like talking.”

Shenhua replied, “Thank you.”

Janet turned to Rock, as she inquired, with concern in her tone of voice, “Who the hell is this guy? He is clearly not just a mechanic.”

Rock turned to Janet, as she stated, “I agree. But, the only other things I know about him are that he has a wife named, Maria, and three young children...”

Rock suddenly realized something, as she thought, 'Melanie did strongly warn us not to threaten him, nor his family. Wait a minute. Melanie knew who we were are at the time. She knew how dangerous we are. Yet, Melanie also knew how dangerous Hernan was, even then. She warned us not to make threats towards him Not the other way around. Oh hell, one of Revy's stray bullets must have harmed his family... And he said he used to be a member of FARC...”

B asked, “Anything else, Rock? I can clearly see by the look on your face that something occurred to you. Such as to why he is clearly a badass not to be reckoned with.”

Rock looked over at B, as she mentioned, “Hernan did say that he was a former grunt with the FARC.”

Roberta was continuing to look at Hernan, as she spoke up, “He is not a grunt. I recognize some of those moves. Those are from the advanced training courses.”

Benny stated, “I do not like where this conversation is heading.”

Balalaika suggested, “It is clear that taking any other action at the moment, against Hernan, would be unwise. So, let us see this play out a little bit.” She then noticed Revy coming to, behind Hernan, as she continued, “This fight still might turn around for Revy.”

Rock turned to look at Hernan and Revy, she sat what Balalaika was alluding too. She responded, “Agreed. Though, we need make sure Revy does not kill Hernan, until we have some answers.”

Balalaika replied, “Of course.”

The rest of the women had also turned their attention back towards the fight.

(_)

Meanwhile, Revy was able to get her second wind, as she leaned up she saw Hernan's back was turned to her.

Revy quickly pulled her leg back over the hid, as she sat up in a crouching position. She then jumped onto Hernan's back.

Revy quickly rapped her legs around his stomach, as she put him in a choker lock, with her arms.

Revy smiled wickedly, as she said, “Let's see you get out of this one, fucker.”

Hernan did not move, nor panic. He remained calm, as turned his body ninety degrees to his right, so Revy could not use the car as a back stop for her attack. Hernan then dropped his knife to the ground.

He then made two thumbs up with his hands.

Next, while having his thumbs up, Hernan rocketed back till his thumbs dug into the sides of Revy's collar bones.

While Hernan's thumbs did not break Revy's skin, the pain from the blows forced Revy to let go of Hernan's neck.

Hernan swiftly brought his arms back to his fronts, and he used his hands to quickly free himself of Revy's legs.

This caused Revy to fall to the ground on her back, behind Hernan, with the red car parked beside her, to her right side. Revy quickly started getting to her feet.

Without looking down, Hernan used the front edge of his right boot to kick up the knife on the ground, by the middle of the blade. He then caught the hilt of the blade with his right hand, with the weapon in an upright position in his hand.

Hernan then quickly turned around, counterclockwise, just as Revy was able to fully stand up.

Revy had just enough time to dodge out of the way of Hernan's first swing, which was towards her abdomen.

Revy then quickly backed away, and around the front of the car, to avoid Hernan's forceful swings.

Though, she was so focused on Hernan's attack, that she kept backing away, passed the front of the car, over the sidewalk, with tripping, until her back literally hit a concrete wall on the other side of the sidewalk, from the red car.

As Herman came to a stop, within a few feet in front of Revy, he brought down his next blow, which was towards Revy's, from above, in a downward motion.

Revy swiftly duck down and the blade hit the concrete wall with such force that the blow shattered the metal blade.

Hernan quickly discarded the useless hilt.

At the same time, Revy was crouched down, right in front of Hernan, and she saw an opening. She used the angle she was at to her advantage, as she used her right fist to quickly hit Hernan, hard, in his groin.

While, Hernan instinctively bent down a little, Revy then backed away, to her left side. This allow her to stand up.

Revy over at Hernan, as she smirked. She gloated, “That will teach you.”

(_)

Across the street, the crowd of women had just watched what happened, with a few of the women having satisfied looks on their faces.

Shenhua thought, 'I am so happy I already have spare replacements for my long knives.'

Meanwhile, Dutch was looking at Hernan, as she commented, “Bad move, Revy.”

Janet was watching Hernan, as she asked, “Shouldn't that take him down?”

Dutch shook her head, as she answered, “Not for a guy like that. Most of the time a kick the balls will take a man down, But, there are the few men that can work through the pain. Like I am sure this guy is doing, as we speak. And when that happens, when he gets his second wind, in a second, he will feel the benefits of that blow. Which dumps a load of testosterone into his system, while the pain amps up his adrenal glands. In other words, Revy just set this terminator into beserker mode.”

Janet replied, “Oh on.”

Dutch said, “Exactly.

(_)

A second later, Hernan bolted back upright, as he turned to his right, to face Revy, whom was still only about a few feet from him.

Revy saw that the coldness of Hernan's eyes had been replaced with the intense rage he had been hiding during the entire fight.

Hernan growled at Revy, as he immediately used his right hand to grab her by the throat, and lifted her up. He began repeatedly slamming Revy against the concrete wall, over and over again, like a rag doll.

This continued for ten painful seconds, until Hernan stopped, and he just held Revy up by the throat, with just his right hand.

Fortunately, Hernan's grip was loose enough to allow Revy to breath. And she was just conscious enough to hear Hernan growl at her, again.

(_)

Meanwhile, across the street, Melanie had rushed towards the group of women.

As she reached Bao, whom was on the far right side of the crown, she said, to everyone present, “Good news, his family is all fine. Maria is coming, in a few minutes.”

Dutch turn to Melanie, as she asked, “What do you mean, in a few minutes?”

Melanie turned to Dutch, as she responded, “It takes time for her to get her kids into their family car, and come here. And it is going to take a few minutes for them to get here.”

Benny stated, “Revy doesn't have a few minutes. Somebody needs to stop this, now.”

To everyone's surprised, Roberta was the one to step out, in front of the crowd.

Roberta then calmly walk towards Hernan and Revy. When she reached the middle of the street, the Bloodhound came to a stop, as she firmly ordered, in english, “Stop!”

(_)

Across the street, from the women, while continued to hold Revy, Hernan turned to face Roberta, without him showing the slightest bit of fear towards her.

Hernan coldly said, “Stay out of this, Ms Cisneros.”

This let everyone know that he knew who they were, and he still had no fear towards them.

Roberta thought, 'He is knows who I am, and he is not the slightest bit afraid of me. And given what he has done to Revy, this is a bad sign for everyone. Still, I need to defuse this situation... This is what Garcia and Fabiola would want me to do.'

Roberta smiled at Hernan, as she coyly inquired, “Do not misunderstand. I have no wish for anyone to die tonight. But, I would like to know why you feel such strong hatred towards, Revy.”

Hernan turned to look at Revy. He then looked back at Roberta, as he stated, “She hurt my wife with her stray shots.”

Roberta asked, “Was she seriously harmed?”

Hernan answered, “No, but she, or our kids, could have been...” He looked at Revy, as he held her up, while he continued, “Due to this woman's carelessness.” He then turned back to look at Roberta.

Revy heard what Hernan said.

Revy thought, 'I guess I fucked up. Though, I am glad I can still breathing. Still, with this beating, I am in no shape to fight back. Though...' Revy chocked out, “Sorry, about that.”

Hernan turned his attention back to Revy.

Roberta continued to smile, as she said, “See, even Revy is willing to admit to her mistake. Also, to hear her apologize is a very rare event.” She dropped her smile. Her voice turned more grim, as she continued, “And if you kill her, you and your loved ones will die.”

Hernan dropped Revy onto the ground.

Revy landed on her butt, with a thud. But, except for her butt slightly stringing, she was otherwise unharmed from the fall.

Hernan then turned to face the group of women.

They saw that he now had a crazy look in his blue eyes, while having a slasher smile curl on his lips. The combination of the two made the group of superhuman badasses to instinctively take a step back.

Though, Roberta remained stoic, as she stood her ground.

While maintaining that crazed look on his face, Hernan stated, with rabid glee, “Then, I will just have to kill you all.”

Hernan then began walking toward Roberta.

Behind Hernan, Revy crawled behind Hernan. She soon made it to the right side of the hood of the car, where she sat down, in an upright position, as she allowed herself to lean her back on the car. The position allowed Revy to see across the street, towards the front of the Rats Nests bar. So, she could watch both Hernan, Roberta, and her friends.

By this point Hernan had reached Roberta, in the middle of the road.

Hernan came to a stop four feet in front of Roberta, as both badasses faced each other.

Hernan had dropped his crazy look on his face. And instead, he looked down at Roberta's face with a firm look to his eyes, and his lips had gave his face a neutral expression.

At the same time, Roberta looked up at Hernan's face, with an equally firm look to her eyes, and face.

(_)

Nearby, as the Roberta and Hernan continued to quietly stare at each other, Melanie whispered to Bao, “If those two get into a fight, there likely won't be a city left.”

Bao nodded in agreement. She softly replied back, “Be ready to run for my car in the bar parking lot, at a moments notice.”

Melanie quietly said, “Ready when you are.”

Nearby, Lotton whisper, “Do you got room for a few more?”

Bao turned to Lotton, as she quietly answered, “Sure.”

Bao, Melanie, and Lotton then turned their attention, along with the rest of the crowd they were with, back to Hernan and Roberta.

(_)

Suddenly, everyone saw a nice, blue mid level car, with its front headlights on, come towards them from the left side of the street, when facing the Rats Nest bar.

A couple of seconds later, the car came to stop in about twenty feet from Hernan left side, and Roberta right side.

After the car was turned off, with the front headlights also shutting down, everyone watched as Maria got out of left drivers side of the car. She had her green purse hanging off her right shoulder.

Both Hernan and Roberta turned to look at Maria. With Hernan not being unsure how to react with Maria's sudden presence.

(_)

Among the crowd of women, Janet asked, “Who is that?”

Melanie answered, “That is Maria. Hernan's wife.”

Benny said, “That is Maria. That is something familiar about her. But, I just cannot place her.”

Dutch commented, “Yea. And that troubles me.”

Melanie requested, “Maria is a wonderfully nice woman. Please, don't take any of your problems with Hernan, out on her, nor their kids.” She mentally added, 'Whom I am sure are inside the car.'

Rock stated, “Do not worry. Roberta as bluffing. I won't allow anyone here to do that. And with luck, none else will get hurt tonight.”

Melanie replied, “I hope so, too.”

The women then turned their attention back to the scene folding out in front of them, in the middle of the street.

(_)

At that moment, Maria shut her car door, as she looked around.

Maria first saw, to her right, Revy sitting up against a car, with the redhead looking back at her with a confused expression on her face. She then notice her husband, a purple haired woman. Next, she saw a group of women across the street, to her left.

Maria turned back to face her husband, and the purple haired woman.

As she walked towards Hernan and Roberta, she said, in english, so the others could understand her, “Hernan, a nice woman explained everything to me. I believe you have made your point.”

Roberta watched the awkward moment unfold, while being amused at seeing Hernan trying to decide whether to stay in killer mode, or switch back to family man mode.

Roberta cracked a grin, as her eyes softened. She commented, “Relax. I have been in situations like this. It is best just to make your wife happy.”

Hernan looked at Roberta, then back at Maria.

Roberta saw Hernan's face expression, and his eyes, relax. She thought, 'Good. This situation might just turn out better than I had hoped.' She then looked over at Maria.

By then, Maria has come to a stop five feet in front of Hernan and Roberta.

Meanwhile, among the group of women, Rock then recalled whom Maria reminded her of, and everything fell into place for her. She immediately realized what it was about the Pena family that bothered her.

Rock turned to the crowd, as she said, “Everyone, do not attack Hernan. It would be best if we leave him alone. I will explain later.”

Eda then noticed three faces of children in the back seat window looking at them.

Eda stated, “He really does have kids.”

Everyone in the crowd, including Rock, turned to look at the children in the car.

Janet commented, “I hope they are the kinda of kids that know better than to stick their noses into trouble.”

Shenhua stood up, as she replied, “If they are anything like their father, I doubt it.”

Sawyer asked, “Why do those kids look familiar?”

Lotton looked closely that children. Then, she looked over at Hernan and Maria, whom were standing next to Roberta. A few second later, she understood what Rock wasn't saying.

Lotton turned to Rock, as she asked, “Oh god, Rock. Could it be?”

Rock looked over at Lotton, as she nodded once in confirmation. She said, “I would suggest keeping quiet on this, until later.”

Lotton stated, “I fully agree.”

Nearby, B and Balalaika were standing beside each other, as overheard Rock and Lotton's comments, and they both put the pieces together.

The two women continued to look at the spectacle in front of them, as B commented, “I just remembered when and where I have seen the look that Hernan's eyes held, before. They are the eyes of a soldier.”

Balalaika pointed out, “A certain soldier.”

B flatly replied, “Sadly, yes.”

Janet stated, “Let's see what happens next.”

The women then turned back to look at what was happening between Roberta, Hernan and Maria.

(_)

As Hernan stood by both Maria, and Roberta, he faces his wife. He calmly said, “Maria, I believe it is best if you take the kids home. Please. Trust me on this.”

Maria looked at Hernan, as she replied, “In a minute, dear.” She then took a closer look at Roberta.

Hernan could tell something had caught his wife's eye, about Roberta.

Hernan silently prayed, 'Please lord, let my family and I get out of this mess alive, and unharmed.'

Maria continued to look at Roberta, as she asked her husband, “Hernan, is this your sister?”

In response to Maria's comment, Roberta did a double-take towards Maria, as Hernan's jaw dropped.

The rest of those present went silent in surprise at Maria's question.

Maria then turned to Roberta as she compliment, “By the way, nice dye job.”

While still floored by Maria's question, Roberta could only reply, “Thank you.” To the false assumption that her natural hair color was a dyed color.

As Hernan composed himself, he asked, “What do you mean, Maria?”

Maria looked around, and she noticed the confused looked among everyone around her. She inquired, “None of you see it? Do you?.. Ah... The beard. That is what is throwing everyone.”

She reached into her purse, and she pulled out a small photo from her purse. While holding the photo, she said, “This was taken right after our wedding.”

Maria walked over to Revy, first. She then showed the picture to Revy.

Revy looked at the photo and her eyes went wide from surprise.

With Revy's eyes still slightly wide, she turned to Hernan, as she flatly stated, “You win. I am going to quit while I am still breathing. I'll leave my cutlasses at home from now on when I go drinking.”

Hernan turned to Revy, as he hesitantly said, in slightly confused tone of voice, “Okay...”

Maria then walked over to Hernan and Roberta. She showed the picture to Hernan and Roberta.

Both of Hernan and Roberta looked closely at the photo. They then looked at each other.

Roberta started laughing, while Hernan just placed his right palm on his face, as he shook his head in disbelief.

By then, Revy was stood. She requested, of Maria, “Could I have that picture?”

Maria turned to Revy, as she answered, “Sure. I have several copies at home.” She then walked over and handed her the photo to Revy. Maria then turned around and walked back to join Hernan and Roberta.

Meanwhile, Revy took the picture, and she quickly limped passed the three adults standing in the middle of the road, and towards the group women. As Revy did so, she smiled, while she stated, with excitement in her tone of voice, “Guys. You have got to see this.”

A few seconds later, when Revy reached the group, she handed Rock the picture.

Rock looked at the picture for a few seconds. Her eyes widened in confirmation at what she already thought. She then passed the photo around the group, as she stated, “Girls, we're in trouble.”

As the women of the group all got good a look at the photo, eyes widened, and jaws dropped among the group.

In the photo was Maria in her wedding dress, along with Hernan in a black tuxedo, without his beard. Except the differences in clothing, and hair style, Hernan looked almost exactly like Roberta's male counterpart, in the Boys and Girls omake.

Balalaika simply stated, “Interesting.”

B looked over at Hernan, as she pointed out, “And from the look on Hernan's face, he clearly didn't know.”

Violin commented, “Been there, done that. I hope this ends in a more uneventful way.”

Dutch stated, “Holy shit. I don't believe I threw at punch at him.”

Benny nearly screamed, “Oh god! There are two of them now! And from what he did to Revy, he is clearly just as badass as Roberta is!”

Janet asked, “What makes you say that?”

Benny commented, “He knows who, and likely what, we are. He walked into the bar, without any fear, while unarmed. Took a shot at Revy while she was armed. Stole her guns and shot at us. Then, he threw Revy out of the bar. Next, he preceded to kick her ass. He is still standing. Revy, here, has a limp. Then, to top himself, he was about to take a shot at Roberta. And it it looks like he is going to get away with what he did.”

Lotton said, “I wouldn't say he is getting away with anything. This guy is going to need some serious therapy after tonight... And that is not all. When do we tell them about her?”

Rock answered, “We will tell Hernan, after he gets over this initial shock.”

(_)

While the discussion among the women went on, in the middle of the street, Hernan used his concern for his family to anchor his sanity. He looked at Maria, as he begged his wife, “Maria, please take the car, and go home, with the kids. I will join you all later tonight...” He turned to look at Roberta, and behind her, the rest of the women, as he continued, “I am going to need to talk to these women for a little while.”

Roberta could tell that what Hernan was trying to do, as both she and Hernan then looked back at Maria.

From the look on Hernan's face, Maria could see how serious her husband was. She said, “Okay. I will see you later.”

Maria walked then turned around, and walked back to her car. When she reached the car, she opened the driver's side door, got into the car, shut the door behind her.

Though the front windshield, Hernan and Roberta could see Maria turned to look between the seats, to the backseat of the car, where her and Hernan's three children were seated.

Hernan thought, with relief and happiness, 'Good. She told them to buckle up, before starting the car. That is my girl.'

Maria then turned back to sit in her chair. Next, she buckled up, and used her car keys to start the car.

A few seconds later, the car back up, and turned around in the road. Hernan, and the others present, then watched Maria drive away, down the road, with hers and Hernan's children.

As soon as Hernan's family had turned a corner, onto another street, and they were out of sight, Hernan turned to look at the women. He had a confused, embarrassed look on his face.

Meanwhile, the women were looking back at him.

Rock noticed the expression on Hernan's face. She suggested, “In my experience. As long as you are not being rude. I have found if you state what is on your mind, out loud, it will make you feel better.”

Hernan looked over at Rock, as he said, with disbelief lacing his voice, “This is impossible. This is the real world. How can I be Roberta's counterpart, here? That defies all logic in existence. Hell, I have seen series. And the omakes. And to be honest, Roberta scares me.” He turned to Roberta, as he added, “No offense.”

Roberta giggled. She was having a ball with this knowledge. She thought, 'This is so damn funny. Still, I need to respond to his comment... In a peaceful way.'

Roberta forced herself to calm down, as she replied, “No offense taken. Though, I saw no fear in your eyes when you looked at me just now.”

Hernan explained, “That is because I was focused...” He looked over at the group, as he asked, with worry in his tone of voice, “Oh god. I wasn't as bad as she can be? Was I?”

The group just nodded, almost in unison, as Rock calmly answered, “Yes. You were.”

Benny commented, “Look on the bright side. You just likely hit the top ten list of badasses from this reality.”

Hernan state, in a worrisome tone of voice, “That is not something to gloat about. I have three children. I do not want them to make the same mistakes as I did.”

Aeryn complimented, “That is admirable.”

Hernan responded, “I just know, after tonight, I am going to get dragged into your insanity. I just don't want my family dragged in, as well.”

Roberta kindly said, “We will do our best to keep you and your family out of the crossfire. Besides, I like the idea of having a brother that I can relate to.”

Hernan turn to Roberta, as he said, “I guess you are my sister. And to be honest, when you are not pissed off, you are pretty nice. And the good news is that you are now also an aunt to my two sons and my daughter.”

Roberta smiled, as she replied, “Thank you.”

Janet spoke up, “So, who wants to tell him?”

Hernan overheard Janet, as he inquired, “Tell me what?”

Roberta pulled out a photo from one of her pockets. She handed the photo to Hernan, as she stated, “This is a picture of Garcia. Long after he was cursed to turn into a girl. In her adult female form.”

Hernan looked at the picture, and his jaw dropped. Barring the slight age differences, along with Garcia having shorter blond hair, Garcia's female form looked exactly like Maria.

Everyone remained silent, as they left the revelation sink in for Hernan.

A few seconds later, Hernan collected himself, as he handed the photo back to Roberta. Roberta put the photo back into one of her pockets.

Hernan then looked up at the women, as he pleaded, “Please. Let us keep this between us. Until I figure out how to tell my wife all of this, without sounding like a complete lunatic.”

Revy smirked, as she snorted, “Good luck with that.”

Roberta suggested, “Though, Garcia is in our home reality, due to having many responsibilities. I am sure he would would not mind if I bought you and your family along, to visit him. I assure you the Lovelace estate is now very safe. Also, Garcia would love to meet her new sister, brother in law, and nephews and niece. And Fabiola likes children. She will likely find this new heartening, when she gets back from an errand she is on. Which should be in a few days.”

Hernan responded, “Nice idea. We will have to plan it in a way that none of us will wind up with a heartattack...” He sighed. He then continued, “Nor, a mental breakdown. But first, we will have to figure out how to break the news to my family.”

Roberta smiled, while she commented, “I like a challenge.”

Hernan let out a deep breath. He then stated, “Okay. I got to talk to a few of you. I know that. But, I cannot talk to all of you.” He turned to Roberta, as he went onto say, Roberta, I know I must talk to you. And I want too.” Hernan looked at the crowd of women, as he continued, “Rock, if it okay, I would like to talk to you. You have always been the sane one. And Revy, since I kicked your ass. I guess you should come as well... Now, that I am thinking straight, I am surprised, I actually did that... We will go to the restaurant I was planning to take my family to, so we can talk in private.”

Roberta said, “Of course.”

Revy replied, “Lead the way.”

Rock thought, 'He is still coming to terms to what has happened. And he could clearly use our help.' She stated, “Sure. Though, I have a few questions for you, that I need answered.”

Hernan replied, “We'll see.”

Rock said, “That will be fine.”

A thought then occurred to Hernan, as he asked, “Though, before I leave, I need to know. Who do I see about paying for the damages to the bar?”

Bao walked out, to the front of the crowd, as she chuckled. As she came to a stop, she faced Hernan. She happily stated, “After decades of being a bartender, you are only the third person to take responsibility for what you broke in my bar. Fortunately, you didn't wreck anything worse than what these girls do on a regular night. I have the money to take care of it. And I am going to let one time slide because you only did it because Revy endangered your family. That is a good reason for your actions.”

Hernan gratefully replied, “Thank you.”

As Rock and Revy started walking towards Hernan, and Roberta, Hernan noticed that Revy was still slightly limping.

Hernan looked over at Revy, as he inquired, with concern in his tone of voice, “Are you going to be alright, Revy? Or, do you need me to take you to the hospital?”

By then, Rock and Revy had reached Hernan and Roberta, as they came to a stop near them.

Revy stated, in a rude tone of voice, “Damn. You kick my ass, and now you are asking if I am going to be alright. Stop being such a pussy. I will be fine in about an hour. Though, I will likely be sore for the rest of the night.”

Hernan thought, 'I find it slightly ironic that she would call me that, considering I am the only person here who is not a woman.' He turned to Roberta, as he asked, “How do you deal with such fowl language?”

Roberta let out a laugh. She then stated, “When she gets too annoying, I tell her to shut the fuck up.”

Hernan, Roberta, and Rock each let out a small laugh at Roberta's comment.

Revy felt annoyance, as she thought, 'It is so tempting to restart our fight. But, it is not worth it.'

As Roberta, Hernan, and Rock calmed down, Hernan stated, “The place I wish to go to is this way. The italian restaurant is about a block and a half from here.”

Hernan then started walking down the street, on the left side of the Rats Nest, with Roberta, Rock, and Revy walking right behind.

As they continued walking, Hernan started walking towards to the sidewalk, on the side of the street that the Rats Nest was located.

(_)

As the crowd, in front of the Rats Nest, watched the four adults leave, Benny commented, “The girls, along with Akira, Natsuru, and Ranma, are going to hate it when they hear what they missed tonight.”

Benny giggled a little. She then said, “It is going to be so much fun telling all of them. The look on their faces will be priceless.”

Dutch stated, “Yea. You got that right. But, I think they will find it interesting to learn that of all the counterparts we could meet in this reality, we met the gender flipped counterparts for Roberta and Garcia.”

Eda mentioned, “And they are married, with three children.”

B said, “Somehow, I feel that is just the natural course of their relationship.”

Yolanda stated, “I agree. I am sure Roberta and Garcia, and maybe Fabiola as well, would have had some kids by now, if Garcia was not so busy with his family interests.”

Balalaika commented, “It can be very difficult to balance work and family.”

Violin looked over at Balalaika, as she said, “You would know.”

Balalaika cracked a wicked grin, as she looked at Violin She stated, “Yes. I would.”

Violin gulped in response.

Balalaika just giggled a little at Violin's response.

Janet said, “While I find this news surprising. I find it more surprising that Hernan has seen our series, and the omakes. Yet, he did make the connections.”

Benny commented, “Janet, if you saw a walking death machine, of the opposite gender, in a work of fiction, would you make the connection that you were her gender flipped reality counterpart?”

Janet shrugged, as she replied, “No... And point taken.”

Dutch suggested, “Come on. Let's go inside, and talk about this more, over another round a drinks.”

Benny smiled over at Dutch, as a few of the women in the crowd nodded a few times in agreement.

The women then started filing back into the Rats Nest bar.

They also collected Revy's pistols, off the bar room floor, for her.

A few minutes later, the women customers were back inside the Rats Nest, at their usual tables, with each of them having drink. While, Bao and Melanie were back behind the bar counter.

(_)

Meanwhile, as Hernan, Roberta, Rock, and Revy, walked down the street. With Revy slowly recovering. Though, Revy was able to keep up at the casual pace that Hernan set, as she slightly limped.

Revy then realized that Hernan was still able to walk normally. She asked, “How can you still walk after I hit you in the nuts, like that?”

With his back turned to her, while he continued walking, Hernan answered, “I have had some very intense training regiments when I was younger.”

Revy saw Roberta turned to her, with Roberta just simply nodding a few times in confirmation. Roberta then turned her head back to face the direction they were going.

Revy replied, “Okay. Let's just get to that restaurant, so we can talk.”

Hernan said, “Trust me. I want to begin this discussion more than you do.”

The four adults then continued their way down the sidewalk.

(_)

Ten minutes later, they reached the italian restaurant.

Hernan opened the front door, and he held it open for the three women with him.

As Roberta walked inside, she said, “Thank you.”

As Rock walked inside, she said, “Thanks.”

As Revy walked inside, she said, “Don't think this means anything between us.”

Hernan not respond, as he walked inside, while he let the door gently behind them.

As Hernan joined the women, just inside the entrance, he saw that the number of people in there had thinned sense he left.

As the three women looked around, Revy said, “Not bad.”

Hernan commented, “Yes. This is a nice place to eat. And my family and I were going to have a pleasant meal here, tonight. Until, you accidentally shot my wife.”

Revy looked Hernan, as she questioned, in an annoyed tone of voice, “You're going to rag on me for that for a while? Aren't you?”

Hernan turned to Revy, as he retorted, “Well, I do concede that it was an accident on your part. Though, a foolish, unnecessary accident on your part.”

Roberta turned to Revy, as she spoke up, “You have to admit. That is an improvement.”

Revy grumbled, as she begrudgingly agreed, “Yes. It is.”

Rock asked, “So, where are we sitting?”

Hernan looked around, and he soon saw the table, by a wall, that he wanted to sit in. The customers in the room were mostly sitting in locations away from that table.

Hernan thought, 'Good. No one has taken that table, since we left. And there are not many people around it. So, we will have some '

Hernan calmly stated, “This way to the table we are sitting at.”

Hernan then lead them to a nearby table, with six chairs. He then watched for the other to seat themselves in their chairs. Hernan then sat down in a chair, as well.

Rock and Revy sat in chairs beside each other, with their backs was facing the wall.

Roberta sat beside Hernan, with her and Hernan sitting across from Rock and Revy, with the two counterparts being empty chair away from the couple.

In a clockwise fashion, sat Hernan, Roberta, Rock, and Revy.

After everyone got comfortable in their chairs, Roberta looked around the room. She saw that there were other people nearby. Though, not mention.

Roberta looked at Hernan, as she asked, “Are you sure this is private enough?”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he stated, “Everyone here knows me. Including the employes. And they all like me. And they respect my privacy.”

Roberta replied, “Okay.” She mentally added, 'I guess he would know. So, I will go along with this.'

Rock asked, “Before we get into the conversation. We might as well ask. Where are the bullet holes?

Hernan said, “Right behind you. To your left side.”

Rock and Revy then looked behind themselves. After they, and Roberta, looked at the wall for a few seconds, they noticed the bullet holes.

Revy commented, “Honestly, I am surprised that they only made holes that small.” She thought, 'But then, I guess it is because I started to use copper target ammo, instead of hollowpoint bullets. I have found that more often, I have been firing at a firing range, than actually going into combat.'

Rock whispered, in a stern tone of voice, “Now, is not the time to make such statements.”

Revy softly replied, “Okay.”

Rock and Revy then turned back to face Roberta and Hernan, while Roberta and Hernan focused on Rock and Revy.

Hernan looked Revy, as he stated, in a serious tone of voice, “I wanted you to see the damage you caused, while keeping in mind that not only my wife, and I were sitting at this table. But, also our three young children.”

Revy realized the seriousness of Hernan's statement. She said, “Okay. Okay. I learned my lesson. I won't do it again.”

Hernan firmly responded, “I will hold you to your word.”

Revy grunted, in response. She thought, 'And I doubt you will forget this anytime soon. So, I guess I better keep my word.'

Just then, Grace walked up to their table, behind one of the empty chairs, allowing her to see all four adults sitting at the table.

The four adults turned to look at Grace.

Meanwhile, Grace looked around, and she saw Hernan was sitting there, with three women she did not know.

Grace turned to Hernan, as she asked, in spanish, “Hernan. I didn't expect to see you back here. But, where is your family? Who are these women? And is Maria fine?”

Hernan answered, in english, so Revy would understand him, “Maria is fine. She took the kids back home. And... Well, these women are the ones I had a discussion, concerning them shooting off their weapons.”

Grace flatly asked, in spanish, “Which one of them did it?”

Hernan answered, “The redhead is the one that shot your wall. And she doesn't know spanish.”

Grace looked down at the redhead, as she frowned at Revy.

Rock quickly said, “We will be more than happy to pay for damages.”

Grace reached into her pocket and pulled out a business card. She handed it to Rock.

Rock gently took the card, and looked at it. She saw the card listed the name of the restaurant, the address, a phone number, and an e-mail address. She then pocket the card.

Grace looked at Rock. She switched to english, as she stated, “Since no one was serious hurt. And as long as you pay for damages, in a timely manner. We will not be pressing charges.”

Rock stated, “We will make arrangements tomorrow, for compensation.”

Grace responded, “That will be fine.” She looked at Hernan, as she continued, “Well, Hernan. After that last time, with those mafia guys, I am surprised you were clearly able to handle this problem in such a peaceful way.”

Hernan coyly replied, “Things seemed to have worked out that way.”

Grace said, “Yes... That appears to be the case.” She then pulled out a notepad and pen. She inquired, “So, what can I get for everyone?

Revy questioned, with slight disbelief, “You are still going to serve us? After all this?”

Grace looked at Revy, as she stated, “Yes. You are in here as customers. And I respect Hernan. Also, don't worry. We are not going to do anything to your drinks, nor any meals you order. We have too much self-respect than to pull such juvenile bullshit.”

Rock said, “I believe we will just be having something drink.”

Grace replied, “That will be fine. So, what will you all be having?

Hernan said, “A glass of lemonade, with ice.”

Roberta commented, “Same here.”

Rock stated, “I will take a cold cola. I don't care about the brand.”

Revy requested, “I would like a beer. If you got it?”

Grace gave Revy a stern look, as she stated, “We only serve wine. Though, you will not be getting any alcohol to those whom are armed. Nor, those whom we believe have poor judgment.”

Revy looked down at her empty holsters. She looked back at Grace, as she thought, 'I can understand why she is upset. And she clearly is not intimidated by me. Though, I am not really in the mood to find out why.” She said, “I will just have whatever cola you bring out for my friend here.”

Grace wrote down their orders on her notepad. She then looked over at them, as she said, “I will bring out your drinks, in a little while.”

Grace turned around, walked away from them, and back into the kitchen.

Revy looked over at Hernan, as she asked, “So, what was she talking about, Hernan? What did she mean by, that last time?”

Hernan looked down at the table, as he quietly said, “It is a long, painful story. I don't want to get into it.”

Revy realized she hit a nerve. She replied, in a sincere tone of voice, “I fully understand.”

Hernan looked at Revy, then Roberta, and back to Revy and Rock, as he calmly said, “Yea. Of all people. I guess you three would.”

Roberta commented, “You are correct about that.”

Rock asked, “So, where would you like us to start?”

Revy suggested, “How about we talk about your kids? I saw them through the back windows of your car. One of them looks like a child version of Roberta here. Another looks like Garcia, a few years before we met him, as a kid. And the third child looks like a cross between Roberta and Garcia.”

Hernan turned to Revy, as he lightly growled, “My kids are not a topic of discussion. And need I remind you they are mine and Maria's children. Not Roberta and Garcia’s children.”

The three women realized that Hernan had taking offense to Revy's comment.

Rock quickly said, “I am sure that Revy meant no offense with her comment.”

Revy thought, 'Rock is right. We need answers from him. As such, we don't need him pissed off, right now.' She commented, “Rock is right. I didn't mean any offense about what I said.”

Hernan forced himself to calm down, as he conceded, “I realize that. But, my family. Especially, after what just happened. Is a sensitive subject for me.”

Revy stated, “I completely agree with you. I should not have asked about your family. And I won't ask about your family, again.”

Hernan replied, “That will be fine.”

Rock mentally realized, 'Wait a minute. He may have seen our series? But, has he read the manga? Or, Lee's stories. For the matter, has he seen the entire anime series? I need to ask?'

Rock asked, “Where did you see the Black Lagoon anime series from?”

Hernan answered, “Pedro hosted movie nights. Where he invite me, and a few of his other friends, over some beers, to watch various movies and series. And he showed us that series. Among others series. And over the course of a few months, I saw the Black Lagoon anime series, save for the third season. And I watched that one, at Pedro's home, soon after it was released in North America.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he complimented, “I must say that even thought that time in your life was clearly painful for you. That exhibition drill you did with the musket, in season three, was very impressive.”

Roberta smiled at Hernan, as she replied, “Thank you.” She thought, 'It is nice for someone to acknowledge the skills I have outside of killing.'

Hernan said, “You're welcome. Though, once Pedro realizes that I am your counterpart, he may never invite me to those get-togethers, again.”

Rock stated, “I doubt that. It is clear that Pedro suspected something about you. And should he find this out about you. He will just probably shrug, and say that it explains a lot.”

Hernan turned back to looked at Rock and Revy, as he said, “I hope you are right. Though, they already know I was a member of the FARC. And I got a little ribbing from the others as we watched you series, when it dealt with Roberta here.”

Revy smiled mischievously, as replied, with amusement in her tone of voice, “Oh. That is rich.”

The three women giggled, as Hernan took their reaction in stride.

While the giggled, Roberta thought, 'That is funny and ironic. His friends teasing him, over my actions, without any of them realizing I am his counterpart.'

As they calmed down, Revy asked, “So, what other series have you seen?”

Hernan stated, “Well, first you and your friends are very beautiful and hard to miss. I am married man, but I am not blind.”

Revy replied, “Thank you.”

Hernan thought, 'I don't want to reveal exactly how much I know, just yet. So, I will keep this vague.'

Hernan commented, “And I recognize you, Rock. From the Boys and Girls omake.”

Rock stated, “Actually, we are from the anime timeline. Post series. But, I can see how you could make that mistake.”

Hernan stated, “Okay. Anyway, over the last few years, I have seen one of your groups. A trio of women. One has red hair. One has blue hair. One has blond hair. Sometimes there with your group. Or, they have younger women with them. Or, it is just the three of them.”

“Even with the slight age differences. With that red chinese clothing, it is easy to guess the redhead is Ranma Saotome, from Ranma Half. With the blue haired woman being Natsuru, from the Kampfer series. I don't know who the blond is?... Pedro has some very strange tastes in fiction.”

Revy commented, “I guess he would.”

Hernan asked, “So, who is the blond woman with Ranma and Natsuru?”

Rock answered, “Her name is, Akira. She is from the Gacha Gacha Secret manga.

Harnan commented, “I may have to look up that manga, later, on the internet.”

Rock responded, “Go ahead. I know Akira wouldn't mind. It is a lighthearted comedy. And if you don't know japanese, I checked on the matter. It has been translated in english, online here. But, it has some nudity in it. So, don't let your wife catch you reading it. And don't look at it on your family computer.”

Hernan replied, “I will keep that in mind.” He mentally added, 'I already knew who Akira was, as I read the first book to the Badasses of the Multiverse, I had to read the Gacha Gacha Secret series, online. So, I could understand the plot better. And I read the english translation, over the internet, on my computer, at my shop. And it is a very funny series. And reading those strange stories, and other series, is how I know who all of you are.'

Rock inquired, “Speaking of which. Have you read the Black Lagoon manga?

Hernan stated, “Yes. I have read all of it, in english. Pedro suggested the manga. And I admit I am a fan of your series. Also, I found the manga to be as good as the anime. Though, I am not crazy about current story arc, the Wired Red Wild Card.”

Revy deadpanned, “Neither are we.”

Hernan questioned, “You have been reading it online?”

Rock answered for Revy, “Yes. It is embarrassing to see our counterparts be so foolish, in helping someone that would have screwed them over, if the circumstances were reversed.”

Revy stated, “Though, I will give Li Xinlin credit. She did drag my counterpart's drunk ass back home, to get her Rock to help her. And I got a laugh, after my counterpart had that hacker get a makeover by those strippers.”

Hernan said, “Yes. That was a funny scene. Though, with this current revelation with my families connect to your reality. I am not so sure I am a fan anymore... No offense...”

Rock replied, “None taken.”

Roberta commented, “I am okay with people liking that series. At long as they are respectful towards what happened to us.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he stated, “I assure you. Those that have watched that series take what happened to you and the Lovelace family, very seriously.”

Roberta replied, “I realize that.”

Revy cracked a grin, as she stated, “Honestly, I am flattered that I have so many fans.”

Hernan turned to face Revy and Rock.

Rock teased, “Yea. Her ego can get really big on the subject.”

Hernan and Roberta lightly chuckled at Rock's comment.

Revy said, “What can I say? I get a kick out of people respecting my abilities to kick ass.”

Roberta made herself stop laughing, as she teased, “While showing some at that.”

Hernan forced himself to stop laughing, as he suggested, “Just don't take her to any sci-fi, nor anime conventions. It would be a like rock concert. The fans would never let her leave.”

Rock said, “I wasn't planning to do so.”

Revy commented, “Hey. I'm crazy. But, not that crazy.” She thought, 'While it is tempt to go to those events. You have a point, Hernan. If my fans realize who I am. Things could turn ugly for everyone involved.'

Hernan replied, “Good.” He thought, 'It is best I try not to upset any of these three women.'

Rock asked, “So, have you read Lee's stories?”

Hernan asked, in a confused tone of voice, “Who Lee is?”

Rock mentally realized, 'Pedro may have not told him anything about Lee, nor her stories. But, at the same time, Hernan is not asking why I am now a woman. He mentioned the omakes, but if he thought that. Why he is not asking why I am a woman, while Revy and Roberta are women? Something doesn't add up. But, I am not going to let him know that, just yet.'

Though, Before Rock to could answer Hernan, Revy stated, “Lee is the one who wrote the stories, Badasses Of the Multiverse. And while I will admit that is a good name for a title. In writing those stories, Lee messed with our lives, and in many cases, the genders of many people.”

Rock asked, “Yes. And so, I have to ask. After we showed up, did Pedro suggest you check out any long fictional stories online?”

Hernan thought, 'They asked me point blank. And I am not going to lie to them. For many reasons. So, I might as well come clean.' He answered, “Oh. That story. Pedro did mention that story. And I did read it.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he continued, “That is how I know you have replaced you missing limbs with cybernetics. And I guess you upgraded to human looking ones. And you look very nice, right now.”

Roberta turned to Hernan, as she commented, “Thank you.”

Hernan replied, “You're welcome. And those were... Interesting stories.”

Roberta replied, “True.”

Hernan and Roberta then turned back to look at Rock and Revy.

Rock thought, 'That confirms what I suspected.' She guessed, “So, you were playing dumb with the question about Akira?”

Hernan admitted, “Yes. I was testing the waters on how much I wanted to let you know, that I know about you.”

Roberta complimented, “That was very insightful of you. I would have likely done the same thing in your place.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he replied, “Thank you.” He turned back to Rock and Revy.

Rock stated, “That is perfectly understandable on your part. And the person that wrote those stories is Lee, whom we mentioned.”

Hernan questioned, in a curious tone of voice, “I thought author's name was, Paul?”

Revy said, “Lee and Paul are both aliases of the same person. And he is now a she.”

Hernan flatly stated, “I don't want to know the details.”

Revy said, “I don't blame you for not wanting to know.” She mentally added, 'Because what we did to her, in our payback against her, wasn't pretty.'

Hernan inquired, “Okay. Is this why you all came to this town in the first place? You wanted revenge against Lee? With him... I mean her, coming to this town, and you following her here?”

Rock replied, “Yes.”

Hernan asked, “Did you get your revenge?”

Rock answered, “Yes.”

Hernan commented, “Given what all of you are capable of. I am surprised that this Lee is still alive.”

Revy coyly said, “That were other forms of revenge that don't involve killing.”

Hernan thought, 'My instincts tell me this is a topic of discussion that I don't want to get into.' He stated, “Okay. As I said. I don't want to know. And I am not going to ask any more on the subject.”

Rock politely said, “Thank you for your discretion.”

Roberta looked over at Hernan, as she asked, “So, how are you handling the news of us being counterparts?

Hernan looked at Roberta, as he answered, “I admit that the revelation has not fully hit me, yet.”

Roberta responded, “I have not fully come to terms with that information, either. But, I feel I am okay with the matter.”

Hernan replied, “If it was just me, I would be fine. But, I have to worry about my family, as well.”

Roberta inquired, “Speaking which. Are most people in this city blind to the situation of us being here? Because it seems that none of them have approached us. Nor, have they run away from us. They just treat us as, being here.”

Hernan thought, 'They have been here for the last few years, and none of them have figured it out, yet. I guess I better tell them.'

Hernan answered, “Not really. Many of us. Including a number of those on the police force. Realize something is going on. And while most of us don't have anywhere near the complete story. We do realize something is happening. And we all knew better than to talk about it in public.”

Rock complimented, “That is wise of all of you. And that confirms what we believed about the police. The day Roberta and Fabiola came to town, not only did Pedro leave town for a while, but half the police force in town left with them.”

Hernan looked over at Rock and Revy, as he commented, “So, that is why they left? That does explain a lot.”

Hernan then turned back to see that Roberta had a wicked grin on her lips. Next, Hernan turned back to face Rock and Revy.

Revy complimented, “I will say they are likely the most intelligent cops I know of. Most of the cops I have met would have been foolish enough to stick around.”

Hernan stated, “Yes. Pedro does not hire idiots. The police here know better than to get in over their heads. If they have a problem at that level, that defer to Pedro's leadership.”

Roberta commented, “I am starting see why everyone in this city respects Pedro, so much.”

Hernan turned to look at Roberta, as he complimented, “Pedro is very good at his job.”

Revy asked, “So, when did Pedro tell you about us being in town?”

Hernan looked over at Rock and Revy, as he answered, “Actually, years ago. When you and Rock here, came to my auto-shop, to check on your red GTO. I recognized you both, before I read the stories. You even gave me your names.”

“I mean. How many black haired japanese people answer to the name of, Rock? How many red headed chinese american woman use the name of, Revy? Between that, the way you look, and your red GTO. Even with the gender change. It was not hard to figure out who you were.”

Hernan thought, 'Along with me watching you leave, through the blinds of my office window. And me recognizing, Shenhua and Sawyer, as to of the people that picked you up. With me finding out that the third woman was Lotton. Though, I am not going to mention that to any of you.'

Revy commented, “Yea... We were kind of foolish to do that.”

Rock said, “I will give you that we kind of arrogant to use our names like that.”

Hernan stated, “Yes. It was. And I was the one that actually called Pedro. After you left, I immediately called Pedro and he confirmed what I thought. It was then he mention the title of those stories, and he told me to look up those stories online, to read them. Along with him wisely told me to keep quiet, and to avoid all of you. I hope you don't take offense at that.”

Rock stated, “No. That is perfectly understandable. And that was intelligent advice on Pedro's part.”

Hernan said, “I agree. That is why Pedro, as the chief of police, has been able to keep this city together for so long.” He mentally added, 'Though, I haven't heard from Pedro in the last few days. And this is around the time of the week he calls me to set us his nearly weekly movie nights at his home. But, I am not going to mention to these women that we are still doing that.'

Roberta thought, 'I wonder. He might have an idea of where they have gone off too.'

Roberta inquired, “Since we are talking about Pedro. This evening, at the bar, I overheard from Yolanda, that Pedro and Matthew are missing. Do you know where they are?”

Hernan thought, 'Pedro and Matthew are missing. That does explain why he has not contacted me.'

Hernan commented, “I do not have a clue. The good news is that if you don't know. Then, he and Matthew are still likely fine. If you are asking, then that means that you didn't do anything to them. Nor, did your friends.”

Roberta thought, 'I can see the logic behind your thinking. And that shows you are as sharp as I am.'

Roberta nodded once, as she stated, “True. If it was one of us did it, we would have heard about it, by now.”

Roberta then remembered, as she mentally realized, 'This supported my belief that I am right about this. That this is when those two left this reality. And with Annie being friends with Matthew, and Fabiola. It is likely that she sent Fabiola to go find them. I don't blame her. Fabiola is a good choice to do that. And she has the abilities to retrieve them quietly. I know. Because I trained her. But, I think I will keep that to myself, for now.'

Hernan stated, “I do know Matthew through Pedro. Though, you should know that both of them have been tight lipped about what was happening with all of you. And the rest of us knew better than to ask. But, it was no secret about the abuse and disrespect you have shown them. I guess they just got tired of it. But, without Pedro here, if something is not done, this city is going to fall apart without him.”

Rock stated, “I am sure someone will find them, or they will return on their own, before that happens. And I promise, when they return, we will try to be nicer to them, this time.”

Hernan turned to Rock, and Revy, as he questioned, “Good. What I don't get why you did that two them in the first place?”

Roberta answered, “It was more of a case of horseplay that got out of hand. We just wanted some designated drivers. And Pedro and Matthew were both responsible, and they knew who were. And we knew they would keep secrets to themselves.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he pointed out, “The problem is, given who you all are, that forcing people to be sober around you, when you are drunk, on a regular basis, will cause them to either runaway, or go crazy.”

Roberta agreed, “Very true. And I do not know how Bao does it.” She then looked directly at Revy, in her eyes, as she continued, “And I am sure most of us are starting to realize that now.”

Revy notice Roberta was talking about her, as she replied, “Not to worry. I don't have anything against either of them. So, I will let up on them.”

Roberta kindly smiled at Revy, as she said, “Thank you.”

Revy nodded once towards Roberta in confirmation of Roberta's comment and smile.

Hernan thought, 'What a minute, Bao?...' He asked, “You make is sound like Bao is here?”

Roberta turned back to look at Hernan. Her grin turned a little wicked, as she answered, in a mischievous tone of voice, “She is here.”

Hernan questioned, “She... Oh... Bao is the bartender at the Rats Nest?”

Roberta answered, “Yes.”

Hernan replied, “That figures.”

The three women giggled a little bit, at Hernan's comment.

As they calmed down, Revy stated, “What until you find out who her girlfriend is. But, we will let Bao's girlfriend tell you, herself.”

Hernan turned Revy and Rock, as he calmly said, “I look forward to it.” Hernan did not show it only the outside, but his soberly thought, 'And I believe I already know the answer to that question. But, let's change the topic to something more interesting.'

Hernan looked over at Roberta, as he stated, “You know. Now that I think about it. Barring the gender, physical augmentation, and hair color, it appears that there is not much difference between us. We have both done horrible things we know that we are some day are going to pay for. But, the important thing is to not drag others down with us.”

Roberta replied, “I completely agree.”

Hernan commented, “The one things I don't understand, Roberta, is we ran around the same time, in our parallel realities. When you left Columbia, you headed for Venezuela. That place is heavily populated with FARC members. While I kept running north, until I made it here. And afterward, I only had problems once with those after me. And they learned their lesson.”

Roberta admitted, “In retrospect, you are right. I should have run further. But then, I would not have met the Lovelace family, Garcia, and eventually Fabiola.”

Hernan said, “There are trade offs to everything.”

Roberta replied, “That is very true.”

Hernan commented, “Though, I met Maria in a completely different manner than you did with Garcia. Because of that, I have come to believe that we were fated to meet them. Garcia for you. Maria for me. So, even if you left, you would have still eventually met Garcia.”

Roberta kept her head turned to Hernan, but her eyes look over at Rock and Revy, as she coyly commented, “Well, I guess, I may have to agree. I did once get an offer to leave with some people. Though, they may have forgotten the offer, by now.” She thought, 'And if things has still played out with Garcia's kidnapping. I may have still been reunited with Garcia, and I would have saved him, then. In a similar manner, as before.”

Rock notice Roberta was looking at her and Revy. She mentally reflected, 'Is she talking about us? Hmm. I may have to ask her, later. But, I am more interested in Maria, right now.'

Revy had an amused look on her face, as she looked at Roberta. She stated, “Now, that you mentioned it. I remember that night in Caracas.”

Roberta and Hernan turned to look at Revy, and Rock, as Roberta teased Revy, “With your memory, I am surprised that you would remember that.”

Revy stated, “I rarely forget bar fights. And that was a big one. Arguably bigger than the one we had, at the Yellowflag, the first time you came to Roanapur.”

Roberta replied, “I have to agree with that.”

Rock turned to Revy, as she asked, “What happen Caracas? I didn't know you have even been there.”

Revy looked at Rock, as she answered, “I have been to a lot of places. But, the event we are talking about, happened before I met you. It is a long story. But, you remember on Mars, when we are having beers and talking about the Mexican and the Lawyer?”

Rock realized, as she answered, “Oh yes. Now, I remember you and the others talking about meeting those two men.”

Revy responded, “Yes. That event is what we are talking about, here. And I will tell you all about it, later tonight.”

Rock replied, “I look forward to it.” She mentally added, 'Okay. I will get my answers about that, from Revy, later.' She turned to look at Hernan, as she continued her thoughts, 'Now, I want to find out some more about, Maria.'

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he said, “You can tell me, later.”

Roberta looked Hernan, as she replied, “Yes. It is an interesting tale. On best told over some drinks. In private.”

Revy look over at Roberta and Hernan, as Revy joked, “Get a room.”

Roberta and Hernan looked over at Revy, as both of them gave Revy a stern look.

Revy saw them, and the looks on their faces caused her to involuntary gulped.

Revy's reaction caused Roberta and Hernan to lose the serious looks on their faces, as they started laughing.

Meanwhile, Rock saw all this, and she did her best not to laugh with Roberta and Hernan.

As Roberta and Hernan calmed down, Rock asked, “So, what is the story behind Maria?” She thought, 'Revy may have promised not to talk about Hernan's family, but I didn't. And I know how to be more subtle about getting what I want.'

Hernan answered, “I am not sure. Though, we love each other, neither of us has asked about the others past. And that seems to have worked well for us.”

Revy asked, “Do you think there are other gender swapped counterparts here?”

Hernan answered, “I have no idea. As you all know, I didn't know the truth until tonight. But, given your past, I doubt you would want to find out. Also, I doubt your counterpart left New York City. And, she, or he, might even be long since dead.”

Revy conceded, “Good point.”

Hernan asked, “By the way, how are you feeling? And please. No back talk.”

Revy answered, “Fine... I feel better. Those of us that underwent the vat process recover quickly. And I was wondering. Do you have any special nicknames, like Roberta has the Bloodhound title, and I have the Two-hands title.?”

Hernan stated, “No. The first thing they taught us in guerrilla warfare was not to stand out.”

Roberta let out a laugh. She then stated, “I will give you that one.”

Hernan thought, 'It is easy to figure out why Revy wants to stand out. But, Roberta?...' He turned to Roberta, as he asked, “So, why did you want to stand out?”

Roberta turned to Hernan, as she smiled wickedly. She stated, “To strike terror in the hearts of my enemies.”

Hernan commented, “You sound like Batman.”

Roberta rhetorically joked, “Where do you think I got the inspiration for all my wonderful toys?”

Hernan, Rock, and Revy, all got the reference to Roberta's joke, as all four adults started laughing, for a few seconds.

As they calmed down, Hernan questioned, “In all seriousness. You haven't met, Batman? Have you?”

Roberta answered, “No. There are some realities we try to avoid. And when we are under the command of Chang. Batman was one of the few people he did not want to confront. Even I would think twice about confronting him.”

Hernan replied, “Of course. Nobody wants to cross, Batman.”

Revy said, “You can say that, again.”

Hernan choose not to.

Roberta commented, “That is one other matter, I think you need to know.”

Hernan inquired, “That being?”

Roberta mentioned, “Hernan, is my father's name. And Maria was Garcia's mother's name.”

Hernan commented, “Well that make sense in the symmetry of this insanity.”

Roberta agreed, “I guess it would.”

Hernan said, “And it gets better. Garcia was Maria's father's name. While, Roberta was the name of my mother.”

Roberta responded, “Well, that is interesting. It seems there are more connections between the four of us than we realized.”

Hernan replied, “Agreed.”

Revy commented, “You know. It is completely suck if this was a time loop, with you two turned out to be the deceased parent of the other.”

Hernan, Roberta, and Rock, turned to Revy, as they were mild surprised by the bluntness of Revy's comment.

Hernan quickly stated, “Oh no. My mother looked completely different from Roberta.”

Roberta mentioned, “And my father looked completely different than Hernan, or myself.”

Revy responded,, “That is good to know. By the way, I find interesting that for all the similarities. You two have different hair colors.”

Hernan commented, “Well, Revy. Those people in this reality don't have such a wide variety of hair colors. Like in your reality.”

Revy replied, “Okay. Point taken.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he asked, “Roberta. That is your natural hair color? Isn't it?”

Roberta turned to Hernan, as she answered, “Yes. And if you are wondering, Fabiola...” She turned Revy, as she continued, “And Revy's hair colors, are natural colors, as well.” She looked over at Hernan, as she went onto say, “I guess that black hair is the default color for such situation.”

Hernan agreed, “I guess it is.” He thought, 'Given they have the same shade of eyebrows. That was not hard to guess. Unless they went the same route as my friend, Melvin. Though, I doubt that. And speaking of Melvin. I guess I am going to have to deal with that issue, in a little bit. I have been putting it off for way too long.'

'Well, either way, I miss being around Melvin. Melvin was a fun guy to be around. And it was not hard to figure out what happened to Melvin. I just did want confirm my suspicions.'

'But, I believe it is best that I not ask about Melvin, in front of Revy. Rock is okay. Though, Revy is now. So, I will ask Roberta my questions, later on. When we have some privacy.'

Rock thought, 'This would be a good moment to ask my next question.' She calmly asked, “So, how do you plan to explain all this to Maria?”

Roberta and Hernan turned to look at Rock, as Hernan said, “Well, I am not telling her tonight. I need time to first think first how I am going to approach her, concerning all this.”

Rock complimented, “That would be a wise course to take.”

Hernan stated, “Thank you. Still, if I end up divorced, or my family is harmed by this, I will be holding you women responsible.”

Rock said, “We will try our best to help you avoid those situations.”

Hernan replied, “Good. I will hold you to that.” Hernan turned Roberta, as he said, “Now, I have a question for you, about the revolution, Roberta?”

Roberta turned to Hernan, as she replied, “Sure. What do you want to know?”

Hernan asked, “Is the reason you stated, in your series, for joining the revolution, true? That you did it for justice?”

Roberta said, “Being my counterpart, I thought you would know that?”

Hernan responded, “No. I joined for different reasons.”

Roberta raised an eyebrow, as she questioned, with interest in her tone of voice, “You did? Well, yes. I did join the revolution for justice against the peoples' enemies. Why did you join?”

Hernan answered, “A better life for myself, my family, and my friends.”

Roberta commented, “I guess there are more differences between us, than just gender.”

Hernan agreed, “Yes. And maybe that is one of the reasons why, when you left the revolution, you stayed in South American, while I headed north.”

Roberta replied, “Perhaps.”

Revy asked, “If you were heading north, why didn't you go all the way into the U.S.?”

Roberta and Hernan turned to Revy, as Hernan answered, “Because I was considered an enemy of their country. Which was partly true. And on this island, the paper work, and regulations for running a business is very minor. And the local authorities don't ask questions, unless someone stirs up trouble.”

Revy commented, “Yes. After being here for a few years. I can see the appeal this place has. I am just liking this place more and more.”

Hernan said, “Yes. This is a nice city to live in.”

Just then, Grace walked up to them, while holding a tray in her left hand. On the tray were their drinks.

Revy looked over at Grace, as she commented, “What perfect timing.”

Grace then silently used her right hand to set their drinks down around them. She set down a glass of iced lemonade in front of Hernan, then set another glass of iced lemonade in front of Roberta. Next, she set a glass of iced cola in front of Rock, then she set another glass of iced cola in front of Revy.

As Grace then walked away with her empty tray, the four adults at the rounded table turned back to look each other. They drank their drinks, as they continued their conversation for a while longer.

(_)

An hour later, it was dark outside, as Roberta, Hernan, Rock, and Revy, returned to the Rats Nest. As they left the italian restaurant, Hernan has paid for their drinks.

The rest of the women were still in the bar, setting at their tables, or bar stool, as they were having their drinks. Except for Bao and Melanie, whom had just finished serving their customers, the other women that were there, and they were standing behind the bar counter.

Hernan opened, and held, the front door for the three women with him.

After Revy, Rock, and Roberta walked inside, Hernan did so, as well. As he walked inside, he gently shut the door behind him.

And Hernan saw that Revy, Rock, and Roberta has come to a stop just inside the bar.

Hernan calmly stood behind the three shorter women.

Everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing, and the room became quiet, as they turned to look at four adults standing at the entrance to the bar.

Dutch asked, “So, is everything settled?”

Rock turned to Dutch, as she answered, “Very much, so.”

Dutch replied, “Good.”

Everyone relaxed, as they went back to what they were doing, and talking, with each other, about.

Dutch turned Revy, as she commented, “By the way, Revy. You pistols are on the table, where you were sitting at.”

Revy looked over at the table, on the left back corner of the room, where she had been sitting at. She saw her semi-automatic pistols being set on the table, by her empty chair.

Revy turned to look at Dutch, as she happily replied, “Thanks.”

Dutch said, “No problem.”

Rock and Revy then turned, and walked over the large, round table, they had been sitting at, in the left back corner of the bar, where Lotton, Eda, Shenhua, and Sawyer were sitting.

After Revy sat down in the chair, in front of her cutlasses. She checked her pistols out. She found they were okay. And she then holstering them.

Rock at the table, beside Revy. And she was happy that Revy was happy.

(_)

Meanwhile, back at the front Roberta turned to Hernan, as she said, “We will talk, later.”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he commented, “Okay. Also, everyone knows that most of you are staying at the Devil's Hotel. I can get off at lunch, around noon. I can meet you at the Devil's Hotel restaurant, for lunch, then.”

Roberta replied, “That will do fine. And they have a nice club sandwich.”

Hernan agreed, “Yes. They do.”

Roberta then turned to look in front of her, as she walked over to the table, by the empty chair, in the middle of the room, where Yolanda, Aryrn, and Violin, were sitting.

Hernan calmly watched her walk away, as he thought, 'Now, I am going have to do something, I don't really want to do.”

Hernan looked around the room, as he asked, “As embarrassing as this is. I need a lift back home. As you know, my wife took the car home back with the kids.”

Everyone stopped talking, as they turn to look at Hernan

Dutch look at Hernan, as she complimented, “That good question.” She thought, 'There is no way I am pissing this guy off, after what he did to Revy, tonight. And if aiding him in getting home, keeps him nice, like Roberta is most of the time. Then, I am more than willing to help him.'

Aeryn calmly suggested, “Why don't you call your wife to come get you?”

Hernan looked at Aeryn, as he answered, “She has been through enough tonight.”

Aeryn rhetorically replied, “Haven't we all?”

As Rock and Revy sat down in their chairs, they turned to look at Hernan. Rock offered, “We could call you a taxi?”

Hernan looked over at Rock, as he stated, “Actually. That could be difficult. The taxi services here don't like coming around this bar. Especially, at night.”

After Roberta sat down, she turned to Hernan, as she inquired, “What happened?”

Hernan turned to Bao, as he asked, “Do you want me to tell them? Or, do you want too?”

Bao looked at Hernan, as she replied, “Go ahead.” She looked over at her customers, as she stated, “This story is why I don't call taxis to come here, for people. Most of the time.” She thought, 'Unless I like them. Like Melanie here. Lee and River.'

Hernan turned back to face the women, as he said, “Well, about three years ago, a taxi was call to this place. And some drunkards decided to steal taxi, while the driver went to take a leak. Now, they just pulled the driver out of the car, and ran off. But, what they did to that taxi, later on the night, was a crime against nature. I should know. I was the one that taxi company hired to repair and clean that vehicle.”

Sawyer asked, “How bad was it?”

Hernan looked over at Sawyer, as he answered, “Well, from what we can piece together. Those idiots decided to get a live pig. They drove to a secluded part of the beach. And they decided they would try to have their own pig roast on the beach.”

“We don't know where they got the pig from. Though, they butchered the pig in the car, and dumped it in the back seat. Next, they siphoned on the fuel from the gas tanks. And they dumb the fuel on the pig. Then, they let gas. And I guess when they realized that it was not going to work, they left the taxi on fire.”

“Fortunately, the taxi was in the middle of a sandy beach, and the fire eventually died on its own. Unfortunately, it was over two weeks before the vehicle was found. And by then, with the burnt pig carcase had completely rotted out, and melted into the back seat of the car. And that is not including the rest of the damage to the car. Which was quite extensive.”

Sawyer stated, “That would be pretty bad. I am not sure I could clean that out. And I have some pretty bad cleaning jobs in my life. And I am not talking about killing.”

Hernan looked over at Sawyer, as he thought, 'If the first part of the Wired Red Wild Card is any indication, then yes you have. And that bread and butter joke, about the corpse on the bed, by your counterpart, was disgusting. Still, this is about my story, and not your story.'

Hernan said, “I know. I eventually gave up, and told them the car was totaled.”

Eda commented, “Okay. A taxi is out of the question. And I know you are not walking home.” She looked around the room, as she asked, “Who here is sober enough to take him home?”

Melanie turned to Eda, as she spoke up, “I will take home, in my car.”

Hernan looked over at Melanie, as he soberly thought, 'It figures that it would be you, that offers to give me a lift.' He calmly said, “Thanks.”

Melanie turned to Hernan, as she replied, “You're welcome.”

Hernan asked, “Still. No to be rude. But, who are you?”

Hernan thought, 'It is clear you are likely Bao's girlfriend. Because she usually works here alone. But, I don't know anything else about you. Unless, you are who I suspect you to be. But, asking you that, and being wrong, would be very embarrassing for the both of us. Though, I believe I am not wrong. Still, I am will wait to talk to you, about this, in private.'

Hernan noticed few of the women giggled a little, while he also saw Bao and Melanie frown towards their customers.

Hernan thought, 'Well, that confirms that. And I have a ride home. And I am not going to jinx.'

As the rest of the women calmed down, Melanie thought, 'I knew I should have come clean with you, a few years ago, Hernan. Still, I can do it as I take him home, in my car.'

Melanie said, “You can call me, Melanie. And my car is out front.”

Hernan asked, in a worried tone of voice, “Out front?...” He thought, with concern, 'Oh no.'

Melanie noticed Hernan's reaction. She signed. And then she stated, “Just follow me.” She turned to Bao, as said, “I will be back in a little while.”

Bao turned to her, as she responded, “No problem. And be careful.”

Melanie smiled at Bao, as she replied, “Thanks.”

Melanie then walked passed Bao, towards the back of the room, where the exit to the bar counter was. As soon as she cleared the bar counter, and turned to her left side, back around, she began walking towards Hernan. A few seconds later, she walked passed Hernan, opened the front door, and exited the building.

Hernan follow right behind Melanie.

As they walked outside, Hernan calmly followed Melanie across the empty street. And he soon realized that they were heading for the red four door car that he and Revy had damaged in their fight.

While still walking across the middle of the street, before Hernan could comment, Melanie continued looking forward, with her back to Hernan, as she commented, in spanish, “Yes. It is my car. I didn't say anything before, to the others, because I am just happy to have it in one piece.” She thought, 'Though, some of them, especially Bao, know it is my car. But, they did not want to say anything, and risk making things worse for everyone.'

By that time they reached the car. Melanie came to a stop beside the right passenger side door. And she turned around to face Hernan, with Hernan stopping a few feet in front of her.

Hernan looked at Melanie, in her eyes, he thought, 'She is speaking spanish, for my benefit. And I might as well apologize and try to make amends.'

Hernan offered, in a sheepish tone of voice, in spanish, “If you want, bring your car by my shop, later this week, and I will not only repair, or more likely replace, the windshield, free of charge. But, I will also repair any dents, and dings that I might have caused.”

Hernan thought, 'I will put in a rush order for the windshield, tomorrow morning.'

Melanie said, “That will be fine. Now, get in.”

Melanie turned walked around the front of the car, to the left driver's side door, by the sidewalk. As she faced the left driver's side door, as she pulled out her keyring full of keys. She then used the clicker to unlock all the doors to her car.

The interior light of the car automatically came on, when she used her clicker.

Next, she opened the driver's side door, got in, and shut the door behind her.

At the same time, as Hernan heard the sound of all the door locks of the car unlocking, he walked to the right front passenger door, in front of him. When he reached the front passenger door, he opened the door, got into the car, and he shut the door behind him.

Both adults then buckled themselves into theirs seats.

After which, Melanie then inserted her car key into the ignition of her car, which both turned off the interior lights of the car, while the outside light sensors detected darkness, and automatically turned on the front headlights of the car. She then started the car, and put it into drive. Next, she looked both ways, down the street. After seeing the both ways were clear, she looking forward, as she gently pressed the gas pedal of her car.

Melanie drove across the lanes, to the right side of the street, as she continued driving forward, down the road.

While Melanie drove her car, Hernan looked towards the front of the car, as he stated, “You need to go straight for a few blocks, before you turn to the right.”

Melanie kept her eyes looking at the road in front of them, as she coyly said, “I know the way to your home, Hernan.”

Hernan turned to Melanie, as he thought, 'Now to confirm the matter.' He asked, “How do you know where I live?”

Melanie kept looking forward, as she calmly stated, “Everything will become clear in a few moments. But first, I have to ask. Who do I remind you of?”

Except for the low light on the dashboard instruments, there was no light in the car. And the light from the street lights they passed by did not provide enough light for Hernan to take a close look at Melanie.

Hernan thought, 'Let's not play this game.' He politely stated, “I am sorry. But, there is not enough light in here for me to get a good look at you.”

Melanie kept looking forward, as she drove. She cracked a grin, while she giggled a little. She then said, “I can see fine. But, that is an understandable answer. Now, I want to apologize for not telling you sooner. But, I didn't want you to get dragged into the insanity. Though, I guess that is all for not. And now that you are in the loop, I might as well tell you that it is me, Melvin.”

From the corner of her right eye, Melanie saw that the only physical response Hernan made to this revelation was that he shrugged towards her.

Hernan calmly stated, “That figures. I already suspected. And I was wondering where you went.”

Melanie commented, “Well, I did take my old job back. And I didn't really hide who I really was. I just didn't talk about about the matter, in public.”

Hernan responded, “True. And it is good to see you Melvin. Or, Melanie.” He thought, 'So, this is Melvin. And this is why Revy has such fun in mentioning Bao's girlfriend. She probably realized, due to our connects to Pedro, that Melanie, as Melvin, use to be friends with me.'

Melanie thought, 'Well, he took that news very well. Which is good.' She said, “I am glad you are taking this news, and everything else tonight, so well, Hernan. And I am fine with however you want to address me.”

Hernan thought, 'I need to find out what happen to her?' He inquired, “Melvin, I am just happy to see you alive and okay. Still... What happened? How did you end up a woman? And yes, I read Lee's stories. The women tonight gave me a brief explanation of who Lee was.”

Melanie kept her eyes on the road, as she stated, “Yes. That saves a lot of time in explanations. And when we have a chance, I will tell you all about Lee. She is a good person.”

Hernan said, “That is nice.”

Melanie thought, 'I wonder if Roberta, Revy, and Rock, mentioned anything else?' She asked, “Did those three say anything else.”

Hernan answered, “A few things. And among other thing, while they didn't tell me who you were, they mentioned that Bao was the bartender at the Rats Nest. And that you two were in a relationship.”

Melanie stated, “And it is a good, stable relationship. I even living with Bao, at her home.”

Hernan replied, “That is good. At least you are no longer just living in a suite at that hotel.”

Melanie cheerfully responded, “And I am happy about it. Anyway, to answer your question. Long story, short, how I ended up a woman was that I was originally a member of Hotel Moscow. Yes. I am from the same reality as Revy, Roberta, and the others.”

Hernan thought, with mild surprise, 'Now, that is an interesting answer. It is not often, when learning that a friend has changed gender is not the more surprising thing to learn about them, in one night. Now, to get some answers.'

Hernan asked, “How long were you with Hotel Moscow?”

As Melanie came to street light, and it was green, and she turned on her right turning lights. With the other lane empty, she turned right down another street. When she turned her wheel back straight, the turning lights automatically turned off.

Melanie continued to look forward, as she answered, “I was with them from the Afghan-Russian war. Through our time as Hotel Moscow in Roanapur and elsewhere. To our freelance, traveling adventures, that were hinted at in Lee's stories.”

Hernan thought, 'If that is the case. You are probably a bigger badass than I was in my youth. Not that I am going to tell you that to your face.'

Melanie continued, “Eventually, after a minor... Disagreement, I ran. And I ended up here for a few years. Unfortunately, Balalaika and Hotel Moscow eventually found me, ambushed me in my own bar, and captured me. Though fortunately, no one was there are the time. So no one else was involved. And I was able to cut a deal with her, that allowed me to retain my freedom. Even thought I had my gender changed, and youth restored.”

“And the way Balalaika changed me was through the use of that vat process. With the super-soldier serum, which comes with some nice benefits. Along, with some minor brainwashing, so I could be conformable with being a woman.”

Hernan thought, 'So, that is how you can see so well at night. The super-soldier serum enhanced your senses, like the rest of the people that went through the vat process.'

'And I am not surprised that Balalaika would capture you at your place of work. That would be typical of what I know about Balalaika. Though, I am happy that no one else was harmed, and that you were able to cut a deal with her.'

'Also, this explains why you had problems watching the Black Lagoon anime episodes that dealt with the deaths of Hotel Moscow members. You personally knew them. They were your friends. And I am not going to ask if you showed up on the episodes. Which you were likely shown as an extra in a few of them. Because, that would be to personal a question. Though, on you being turned into a woman...'

Hernan commented, “While, I will admit it is not all bad for you. I mean your youth has been restored. Though, turning you into a women is a harsh punishment.” He thought, 'Though, I can think of a few worse punishments.'

Melanie stated, “Well, I did run in the first place, because that is what she did to the rest of the members of Hotel Moscow. They wanted to be young again. With the price being their gender being changed. So, they underwent the vat process. Gender change. Super-solider serum. Youth restore. Injuries repaired. Minor brainwashing like I had, to handle the change. Basically, like me, they had the whole package.”

“Anyway, at the time Balalaika made this offer. We were all old, except for her and B. And the others knowingly took her up on her offer, to have their youth restored, in exchange for being turned into a woman. Balalaika was very straightforward about what the vat process would do to them.”

“Though, it was then that I realized that her offer was more of an order. And I wanted to stay a man. So, I ran, and I used a reality device, that was damaged, just as I used it to escape the rest of Hotel Moscow. With the jump sending me here, over seven ago. And since I was stranded here, I made the best of my situation.”

Hernan commented, “I am glad you ended up here. You are a good friend, and bartender.”

Melanie kept her eyes on the road in front of them, as she happily stated, “Thank you. And I have happy to have met, and befriended Bao, you, Maria, your kids, Pedro, and the others.”

Hernan inquired, “That is good. And I have to ask. Even with the minor brainwashing, are you really okay with being a woman?”

Melanie calmly answered, “To be honest, being a woman is not that bad. And if your next words are, I will take your word on that. I am going to laugh.”

Hernan admitted, “Well, my next words were going to be that.”

Melanie giggled a little. She then said, “Anyway, I find it wild that you are the gender flipped version of Roberta. And Maria is the gender flipped version of Garcia. And you two still ended up together. I guess somethings are fated.”

Hernan looked towards the front of the car, as he sadly said, “Yea. I know.”

Melanie noticed the sadness in Hernan's voice, as she though, 'He clearly is not happy about this. And he is not as, okay, as he said it was.' She asked, “So, how are handling the news about you being Roberta's counterpart?”

Hernan thought, 'Melvin is a friend. So, I might as well be honest with her.'

Hernan stated, “It is still soaking in for me. And I have no idea how I am going to break the news to Maria. Let alone, our children. Though, you don't need to worry about me going on the warpath.” He added, in a tired tone of voice, “Once is enough for me... Well, technically twice, if you count my fight with Revy, tonight.”

Melanie agreed, “Yea. And I have never seen anyone kick Revy's ass like that. And I was one of the Hotel Moscow members that watched that four hour fist fight between Revy and Roberta. Though, after Roberta returned, that second time, it was clear Roberta was vastly holding back in that fight. And Revy realizes it, because, as we both know, she called for back-up when she tried to face Roberta, again.”

Hernan said, “That does not make me feel better.”

Melanie responded, “Well... I will admit that from what I heard on the grapevine, that when Maria was shot, during that cop cookout, that I believe you would have been just as bad as Roberta, if not for Pedro reigning you in.”

Hernan admitted, in a tired tone of voice, “You are probably right. And if Maria had died, I don't know if I would had been able to come back from that.”

Melanie replied, “I firmly believe you would have come back when you realized you still had to take care of your children.”

Hernan responded, in a sober tone of voice, “I hope you are right. And that is what scares me the most about this situation. And I am more frightened for my family, and not myself, about what these revelations mean for my family.”

Melanie complimented, “That is because you are a good man, Hernan. You just have a dark side that is closer to the surface than most people.”

Hernan replied, “Thank you.”

Melanie went onto say, “Also, unlike the Roberta. By yourself, you were able to create a successful business, that allowed you to not only take care Maria, and yourself, but your three children, as well. That is something even Roberta was not able to do on her own.”

Hernan deadpanned, “Thanks. But now, you are just kissing my ass.”

Melanie kept looking forward as she drove. She happily responded, “Hey. As I said. You kicked Revy's ass. I can put on one hand how many people have done that. And she had the super-soldier serum to boot, and you still did it. I'm impressed. And I want to stay on your good side”

Hernan calmly said, “Well, I am starting to regret getting into that fight. I should have taken Maria and the kids home, and then called Pedro, to let him handle Revy and the others. But, I heard from Roberta that Pedro and Matthew have gone missing. And they likely they left, together.”

Melanie stated, “Yes. So, you know who Matthew is?”

Hernan deadpanned, “Who do you think took your place during Pedro's movie nights, at his house.”

Melanie let out a laugh. She replied, “Oh.”

Hernan stated, “Though, they kept their secrets about you all.”

Melanie said, “Of course.”

Hernan commented, “Still, it will be fun to have you come back to those movie nights.”

Melanie responded, “I thought my gender change would cause problems with such gatherings.”

Hernan shrugged, as he stated, “Nah. I am sure Pedro wouldn't mind. And he would likely be more than happy to have Bao come along, as well. Also, we both know that you and Bao are stronger than the rest of us. And both of you have shown you can take care of yourselves. Along with that, we all can find an excuse for you two being there, for those invited to those nights whom do not know what is fully going on.”

Melanie conceded, “That is a good point.” She then continued in a more joyous tone of voice, “And I have been meaning to find some more excuses for Bao to take off of her work, to allow us to spend more time together. And such an invitation would be a good excuse to take off on a nearly weekly schedule.”

Melanie thought, 'Though, the reality time dilation trick does help a lot. Or, I could just find someone to fill in for me at the hotel bar. It would be the first time I have done that, with the manager's blessing. But, I am not going tell you that Bao has a reality device, and we can do that. Because, you already have to much on your plate.'

Hernan happily replied, “That would be a good reason to do so.”

Melanie thought, 'Good. He is getting into a better mood.'

Melanie said, “I am glad you agree. Anyway, there is nothing Pedro could have done. He and Matthew have pretty much been reigned in by those girls, as their personal designated drivers. Though, Bao and I did help them when they needed it.”

Hernan thought, 'That explains whey Roberta, Revy, and Rock, acted so casual in talking about Pedro and Matthew.' He said, “I am glad you both were willing to help them.”

Melanie replied, “Thank you.”

Hernan thought, 'I wonder. It would have not been a bad event in Melvin's life. And it would not be asking her to divulge any secrets she has. So, it should be okay to ask.' He inquired, “By the way. Given the circumstances. I have to ask. What about the four hour fight between Roberta and Revy. How boring was that fight?”

Melanie looked ahead of her, as she answered, “The first hour was pretty good. We all got a good laugh when Rock tried to stop the fight, with Revy and Roberta telling him to shut the fuck up. Further into the next hour, they started fighting dirty. By the middle of the third hour, they started to tire. And by the four hour, it was a boring punch for punch, slug fest.”

Hernan commented, “I could see how that could play out. Did anyone video tape it?”

Melanie said, “Yea. Balalaika had that event video taped. But, I have no idea where she put the copy, or copies, she made. They are likely in her personal library, and wherever she keeps her backups at.”

Hernan replied, “Oh well. That is something to think about for a later date.”

Melanie stated, “Yea. And I won't worry too much about the girls. After the way things went down tonight, and the aftermath of that talk you clearly had with Roberta, Revy, and Rock, they will likely leave you alone.”

Hernan's mood dimmed, as he replied, in a slightly disappointed tone of voice, “No they won't. This is only the start of things. Not the ending.” He then muttered, under his breath, “Damn stories.”

Melanie overheard Hernan. She said, “Yea. Those stories were an interesting read.”

Hernan turned to look at Melanie, as he inquired, “You overheard me?”

Melanie stated, “Yea. I have enhanced hearing. As I said, I got the same vat process as the others. And the process has its perks.”

Hernan mentally realized, 'I was so caught of in my own thoughts, that I forgot about that. Still...' He requested, “If you don't mind. I would just like to sit here and think.”

Melanie replied, “Go ahead.”

Both adults then sat in silence, as Melanie drove her car towards Hernan's family home.

Meanwhile, Hernan turned to looked in front of them, at the dark streets ahead, with the streetlights providing most illumination, save for the outside lights of various buildings they passed by.

Hernan leaned back in his seat, while he began to recall his distant past.

(_)

Over two decades ago, in a rural area of Columbia, It was late afternoon, on a partly cloudy, hot, humid, day, as three members of a FARC intelligence unit were walking along a dirt road, on patrol. Along with having other weapons sheathed and holstered, among their clothing, they had their loaded AKS forty-seven type one automatic rifles, which were slung over their shoulders.

AKS Forty-Seven Type One rifles were a variant of the russian AK Forty-Seven weapon series. The rifle fired seven point six two by three nine ammunition. The weapon used a thirty round magazine. Which each man have spare magazines, in their ammo belts.

The AKS rifle had a selector fire switch that offered either full auto, or single fire, selections. And like the AK Forty-seven, the AKS Forty-Seven Type One had adjustable iron sights.

The AKS rifle also used a foldable stock, that folded under the barrel of the weapon. Though, to fold or unfold the stock, required removal of the ammo magazine.

All three men had the stocks of AKS rifles folded up.

The three men had been good friends for a number of years.

All three men were in their mid to late twenties, and they each were currently wearing green combat fatigues and black army boots.

They walked in side by side, with a much younger Hernan Pena, being in the middle of the group. Hernan had a small black pony tail that went to the bottom of his neck line. Also, he, and the other two men had five o'clock beard shadows on their faces.

At that moment, Hernan walked beside his two close friends, were finishing their patrol. As they made their way along the dirt road, beside the coca fields, they approached the nearby cartel base of operations. And all three men were complaining to each other over their disgust with the assignment their superior, high-ranking officers had given them.

For their leaders have gotten in bed with the drug cartels of South America.

And instead of rewarding them for their tireless efforts, and successes, their superiors had reassigned them to guard coca fields for those cartels. And their orders, which they found disgusting, was not only to shot any trespassers, but for them to also shot any of the slaves attempting to escape.

Fortunately, as of yet, they had not be put into a position where they would have had to choose between doing what they felt was right, and following orders that were clearly evil. And it was the moral conflicts, between their loyalty to the workers revolutionary cause, and their current orders, that they were discussing in create length, and detail.

As they continued to walk down the dirt road they were on, Hernan looked to his right side, over at the fenced in coca fields, and saw he saw the peasant workers that were forced to work in the fields.

Hernan turned his eyes back to his front, as he said, in spanish, with disgust in his voice, “We joined the revolution to help these people. Not enslave them.”

One of Hernan's friends, to Hernan's right, agreed, in spanish, “Yes. We did. But, what can we do?”

Hernan stated, “We quit, Sans.”

Hernan's other friend, to Hernan's left, pointed, in spanish, “They are not just going to let us just walk away. We try to leave, and they will kill us.”

Hernan stated, “Well, Isandro. In that case, we just need to make sure we have a good head start on them, and disappear beyond their reach, before they even realize we are gone...”

There was silence for a few seconds. Hernan then stated, with encouragement in his tone of voice, “Come on guys. They trained us on how to disappear from the authorities. Same principle. Only, this time, we disappear so well that even our superiors, those that taught us how, won't know where we went.”

To Hernan's right, Sans joked, “Still Hernan, if you left the revolution, what would you do? Be a butler?”

Hernan casually responded, “Nah. I think I would likely be a mechanic. I always liked working on cars and trucks. And I seem to be pretty good at it.”

To Hernan's left, Isandro stated, “Yes. You do have a talent with fixing vehicles. And that talent has saved our hides more times than I care to admit to.”

Hernan then saw they were approaching their base of operations. And he noticed there were a few jeeps, nearby, with several people standing around, in a semi-circle, by the main building of the base.

Hernan counted fifteen men in all. And from the way they were dressed, they were all cartel members. Most of them had pistols in their side holsters, or shoulder holsters. But, a few also had automatic rifles slung onto their shoulders.

Hernan also saw that the entire group had their backs turned to himself, and his two friends, as they approached the base.

Also, Hernan noted that there are no guards in sight, around the base. Hernan thought, 'Such sloppy work. But then, I guess they think they only need their patrols to take care of security. That is someday going to cost them'

Isandro asked, “What is going on over there?”

Sans inquired, “I don't know, Isandro. Hernan, do you think we should get involved?”

Hernan stated, “Yes. At this point, I don't fucking care, what they try to do to us. If they try to hurt us, it gives us the perfect excuse to kill as these scumbags, and get the hell out of here.”

Sans replied, “Good point.”

Isandro said, “Okay. Let's hustle.”

The three men then started jogging towards the group of men.

Less then a minute later, as the three FARC members got within thirty feet of the group, they noticed a break in the crowd, and they saw a girl that had her hands tied behind her back, with rope. The girl was kneeling on both her knees, looking up at the men on the large crowd.

Even from the distance they were at, Hernan could tell that the girl was crying.

The one of the men right in front of girl, backhanded the girl, hard in right side of her face, sending her down, to the ground, on her left side.

Hernan immediately went from jogging, to full running, with his two friends quickly him join him, in their haste.

As Hernan and his two friends reached the group. Isandro and Sans came to a stop, eight feet from the group, as Hernan slowed to a brisk walked, while making his way through the fifteen person crowd of cartel men.

By then, the girl was back on her knees, and the same man looked like he was getting ready to hit her again.

Fortunately, Hernan was quick enough, that when he came up to the cartel man, the man had just reached back with his right hand, to the upper left side of his chest, to strike again, with Hernan swiftly gripping man's right wrist with Hernan's own right hand.

The man immediately turned to his left to looked at Hernan.

Hernan demanded, in an authoritarian tone of voice, “What is going on here?”

The man yanked his right hand away. He turned to Hernan, as he barked, in spanish, “This is none of your concern, guard dog. Go back to your job.”

Hernan turned to look down at the kneeing girl. And he got a good look at her. She skinny and fair skinned. She had short blond hair, and brown eyes. Her clothing looked dirty, but intact, and she had on her shoes. She appeared to be between twelve to thirteen years old, at the most.

She looked at up Hernan, as she begged, in spanish, “Please. Help me.”

Hernan turned to the man whom he just spoke to, as he strongly questioned, “Who the hell is she? And why is she here?”

The man stated, in an annoyed tone of voice, “If you must know, she is the surviving member of the Flores family.”

Hernan thought, 'The Flores family? I don't see any other prisoners here. So, they have just this one girl. And the cartels would not go to this much trouble for just one girl. Or, a family with nothing to take. So, her family must have some importance to attract their attention... What a minute. There is only one Flores family I know of that might get their attention.'

Hernan asked, with concern in his tone of voice, “Are you talking about the Flores family, whom are owners of large estate outside Carcasas, Venezuela?”

The man answered, “Yes. The owner did not want to sell their land, so they were killed them.” He turned to look at the girl, as he continued, “All, except for this little beauty. They dropped her off a few minutes ago. She is on her way to be sold, elsewhere. But, I don't think anyone would mind if we have some fun her, first.” He turned to Hernan, as he went onto say, “You can join us, in our fun, if you want.”

Hernan grimly thought, 'The Flores family were good people. They didn't deserve to be murdered by this scum.' He then turned to the girl, as he concluded his thoughts, 'She, does not deserve this.'

Hernan looked over at Sans and Isandro. He simply nodded once to them. They nodded once back to Hernan, in confirmation to his unspoken order.

Hernan then took a few steps back, away from the crowd, and to the right sides of Sans and Isandro.

A few seconds later, as Hernan came to a stop, with all three FARC members immediately drawing their AKS type one automatic rifles, and they cut down the fifteen cartel members, before the other men realized what was happening.

And all the of the FARC member were very careful not to hit the girl.

As the cartel men laid dead around the girl, Hernan slung his weapon over his right shoulder, as he walked over to stand behind of the girl.

Hernan pulled out his combat knife, as he ordered, “Do not move. I am cutting your ropes.”

A few seconds later, Hernan cut off the ropes binding the girl's wrists behind her back.

The girl immediately brought her wrists around, and rubbed them

Meanwhile, Hernan sheathed his combat knife, as he walked around to face her.

Hernan then offered her a hand up, with his right hand.

The girl took Hernan's hand. After she stood up, she look up at Hernan, in his face. She stated, in a very grateful tone of voice, “Thank you very much. They didn't rape me, yet. But, I realize they were going to.”

Hernan said, “Well, you will be safe with us. So, what is your name?”

The girl answered, “Maria Flores.”

Hernan responded, “Nice to meet you, Maria. I am Hernan Pena. And you don't have to worry, I won't let anyone else hurt you, ever again.” He turned to his two friends, as he stepped out of the way, to allow Maria to see them. He turned to his two friends, as he stated, “She is coming with us.”

Sans said, “No problem.”

Isandro replied, “The more, the merrier.”

Maria looked over at Isandro and Sans, as she said, “Thank you.”

Isandro looked at the girl, as he replied, “You're welcome.” He then looked at Hernan, as he commented, “Though, I suggest we leave this country as quickly as possible.”

Hernan stated, “Forget the country. We are leaving this continent.” He looked over at a nearby jeep, as he said, “I can hot-wire that jeep. It will just take a few minutes.”

Hernan then walked over to the jeep, with Maria, Sans, and Isandro, following right behind him.

Fortunately, the hood was down on the jeep, and he found the left side driver's side door unlocked.

As he opened the door, he unslung his rifle, and placed it in the bottom of the back seat.

Hernan then leaned down, under the steering wheel, to start to hot-wire the vehicle, as he thought, 'Now, we need to get out of here. Still, I regret not being able to help the workers here. But, we need to keep this a small group. And as we leave, we do not want to alert the other patrols and cartel men.'

A few minutes later, Hernan hot-wired the jeep. With the ignition turned on, he then got into the driver's seat, while Maria sat in the front passenger seat, to Hernan's right side.

Meanwhile, Isandro was behind Hernan, while Sans was behind Maria. Both men had their AKS rifles in hand, with fresh magazines in their weapons. Isandro pointed the barrel of his weapon to his left, out the left side of the vehicle. While Sans did the same with his weapon, by pointing the barrel out the right side of the vehicle.

Hernan put the jeep in gear, and drove them down one of the dirt roads that was by the base, and away from their old lives.

(_)

Back in the present, it was night time in De La Plata Podrido. Inside Melanie's red, four door car, Melanie was driving, as she turned down onto another street, towards Hernan's home, as Hernan sat back in the front passenger seat, to Melanie's right side.

A few seconds later, Hernan attention came back to his surrounding, as he noticed Melanie had stopped the car, by the side of a street.

Melanie put her car's transmission in park. She turned to Hernan. She said, in spanish, “Well, we are here.”

He looked out the window to his side, to see that Melanie had parked her car by family house, which was across a sidewalk and his front yard.

Hernan turned to Melanie, as he responded, in spanish, “Thank you for everything.”

Melanie offered, “And if you want to talk. I am more than open to listening.”

Hernan replied, “I just might take you up on that offer.” He thought, 'Though, the only two places I could talk to you are your place of work, at the Devil's Hotel, or your girlfriend's place of business, the Rats Nest. And both places, I would risk bumping into one of the girls. And except for Roberta, and our lunch appointment. I am not ready to deal with the rest of them yet, for an extended amount of time.'

'Also, I could not come to Bao's home to talk to you, because I still don't know her that well. And it would be imposing on the both you. And I don't want to risk your clearly good relationship with her.'

Hernan said, “Have a good night.”

Melanie responded, “You to, Hernan. And good luck with everything.”

Hernan replied, “Thank you.”

Hernan then got out of the car, and he shut the door behind him. As he walked to his house, on his concrete walkway, that led from the sidewalk to his front porch, behind him, Melanie drove her car down the street.

As Hernan walked up to the front door to his home, he noticed that the front porch light has been left on for him. He thought, 'That was nice of Maria and the children.'

'Still, after we rescued Maria, we eventually made it here. Sans and Isandro parted ways with Maria and I. Though, we do keep in touch regularly. And I soon started my autoshop business, while I helped raise Maria. And over time our relationship turned into something else. Though, we did nothing romantic until her twentieth birthday. When she felt she was ready. And I feel that it was worth the wait for both of us.'

When Hernan reached his front door, he pulled out his keys, and he unlocked the door. He then pulled his key from the lock, and pocketed his keys.

After Hernan entered home, he gently shut the door, so as to not disturb his possibly sleeping children. He locked both locks on door, and flipped the inside switch to turn off the outside porch light behind him.

As Hernan walked into his family living room, he noticed there was only one lamp light turned on. He looked around the room, to see that the TV was off, and Maria was sitting one of the cushioned reclining chairs in the room, reading a book. Maria's chair was in the upright position.

A second later, Maria looked up and she saw that her husband had returned home. She set the book she was reading on a nightstand by her chair. She then got up from her chair.

She walked towards her husband, until she was only a two feet away from him.

She looked into his face, as she said, in spanish, in a concerned, yet calm tone of voice, “I fed the kids, and they are asleep... Hernan, what happened back there?”

Hernan chose his words very carefully, as he looked down into his wife's gentle, brown eyes. He calmly requested, in spanish, “I need some time to think about how I am going to tell you all this. It is important. But, I am not sure how to state what it going, and confer the importance of the matters at hand. Though, there is not rush in doing so. But, I still need to figure out how to tell you.”

Maria replied, “I can wait, dear. And do not worry. We will get through this.”

Hernan took a step forward, as he gently hugged his wife. He kindly complimented, “Thank you, Maria. You are you the best wife, and mother, anyone could have.”

Maria returned Hernan's hug, as she responded, in a comforting tone of voice, “And you are a wonderful husband, and father, Hernan. Don't ever forget that.”

Hernan quietly said, “I wonder. Can we just stay like this for a little while?”

Maria replied, “Whatever you want, Hernan.”

The two spouses then enjoyed each others embrace for several minutes, before they let go of each other, with the both of them then retiring to their bedroom, for the night, to get some sleep.

(_)

Later that night, after everyone at the Rats Nest bar had been returned to either their home, or to the hotel suites, Revy, being Revy, had wanted some more rum. Which, she was out of in the suite she shared with Rock. Given that everyone had a general rule to not teleport and drink, let alone drink and drive, she had to walk to the bottle shop that was a block down the street, from the Devil's Hotel.

So, as all her friends, and family, including her long time lover, Rock, headed to their suites, to get some sleep, she headed outside. But, not before Rock said she would check on their adult children, in their suites, to make sure they made back to the hotel, safe and sound.

Also, Janet mentioned something about telling Ranma, Natsuru, and Akira, of the night's events. Considering, they had been babysitting some of the much young toddlers and babies of their group's children, in the Devil's Hotel, the trio of lovers would not be hard to find.

As Revy exited back out of the hotel lobby entrance, she still had on her cutlasses, with her pistols reloaded. Revy was not that worried about going out so late at night. Her enhanced senses, including her nightvision, allowed her to see better in the dark than those that would be foolish enough to try to harm her.

Those people she did encounter, in getting to the bottle shop, inside the bottle shop, and back from the bottle shop, gave her no problems. Revy calmly bought a large bottle of quality rum, at the store's price, with some pesos she had. After she received change and a receipt, she headed back for the Devil's Hotel, with her bottle of rum in hand.

Fifteen minutes later, as Revy entered the lobby of the hotel, she saw that the room was nearly empty, except for the two clerks at the check in desk. She was holding the large bottle of rum she had bought, in her right hand, while she let her arms hang down by the sides of her waist.

While Revy continued walking through the lobby, she took a right, as she began walking towards the front elevator bay, that would lead to the suite she shared with Rock, several stories up the building.

As Revy started to enter the elevator bay, her back was turned, and she did not see was someone walked up from the hallway, between the lobby and the elevator bay, and towards her, from behind.

While Revy continued walking, she saw that the elevator bay was empty. She thought, 'Everyone is probably asleep by now. Including, Rock. And given what happened tonight. I don't blame them. Though, that is not a problem. I will just sit in one of the chairs, on our balcony, overlooking the sea, as I sip from a glass I have in our suite, with this bottle of rum placed on the balcony table. I will be quiet, and I should not disturb her.'

Then, the soreness from her body reminded her of the night's events, as she continued her thoughts, ' Damn. I am still sore from that pounding I got, from Hernan. But, I have had worse. And while I may never admit it to anyone, I think I got off lightly, after what happened.'

'One thing is for sure, Hernan is as dangerous as Roberta, before she got her upgrades.'

'I am just glad Melanie and Maria... I think that is what her name is. Were able to defuse the situation. And I think Hernan was the most shocked of all of us, about learning whose counterpart he was... And I have to admit, for a guy, he has a nice bode. Not that I am ever going to make a pass at him. I am very happy with Rock. And I know she feels the same way about me.'

'Besides. There is dating crazy. There is dating dangerous. And dating both crazy and dangerous. I am both. But, I don't get in relationships with both. Though, Rock has her moments. And I would hate to ruin what we have with each other.'

As Revy came to a stop, she then turned to her right, to the elevator panel on her right side. She used her left index finger to push in the up arrow button on the panel in front of her, between two of the elevator doors. With the two other elevator doors, set behind her.

While Revy waited for one of the elevators to come down to the ground floor, and open up for her, she thought, 'Now, to head upstairs, get a drink, and then get some sleep.'

Revy then heard a female voice, that she did not recognize, to her right, say, in a casual tone of voice, in well spoken english, “Hello there, Revy.”

Revy immediately turned to see a woman standing about twenty feet from her. The first thing Revy noticed about the woman was that she was unarmed.

Revy thought, 'At least, she clearly not here to fight.'

Revy then took a more closer look at the woman. Revy saw that the woman had tan skin, and long blond hair that went down to her shoulder blades. The woman appeared to be middle-aged, and physically heavy set. The woman wore black a pantsuit. And the demeanor of her appearance gave Revy that feeling that the woman was heading to a business meeting.

The women requested, “Mind if I speak with you?”

Revy replied, in a slightly annoyed tone of voice, in english, “I am in a hurry, lady. So, make it quick. And fair warning. I am tired, I am sore, I am drunk, and I want to get a little more drunk, before I head to bed.” She then held up her bottle of rum, with her right hand. A second later, she lowered her bottle back down to her right side.

The woman pointed out, “Well, first honey, you are not drunk. You are walking to straight to be drunk. But, you look like you made a good go of it.”

Revy said, in a tired tone of voice, “It has been a long night for me. And I don't want to get into it. But, who are you?”

The woman stated, “Well Revy. Though, I am not really your enemy. You could say that I am with what you would call the opposition.”

Revy immediately looked at the woman, with a stern expressed, as she used her left hand to reach for her holstered pistol, under her right armpit. But, she left the pistol in her holster, as she inquired, in a harsh tone of voice, “And why should I not just use my cutlasses to kill you, right now?”

The woman said, in a calm tone of voice, “Because, I am being completely honest with you. I did not come here to fight. And I am her to make you an offer.”

Revy flatly asked, “What is your offer? And why would they since you to talk to me?” She mentally added, 'Whomever they are.'

The woman stated, “The reason I was picked was that I have experience in talking to less... Savory people... While getting what I want from them. Also, a few years ago, I learned that I have a talent for learning languages. And the offer is that we would like your help. Nothing too serious. And we are not asking you to betray your family and friends. The people we are after you likely have never even met before.”

Revy questioned, “And what do I get out of it?”

The woman smirked, “Well kiddo, you get the name and address of the bastard cop that raped you as a kid. We will even provide the proof, and the date, after he retired from police work. When he told everyone he was moving away from New York City. By then, there will be no one with him. So, you can deal with him, and make him disappear, without anyone coming to look for him. The perfect murder situation. We have all the information you would want... This is a chance for you to even the score, in exchange for a fair trade with us.”

Revy's eyes when wide as she thought, 'Could this be real?... Could I get that bastard back for what he did to me all those years ago?... But, what would be the real cost?...' Her eyes narrowed, as she continued her thoughts, 'Still, I might as well try my way, first...'

Revy questioned, “And why don't I just make you tell me?”

The woman responded, “Because, I have faced far worse than you, kiddo. And violence is unnecessary, in this situation. Besides, we came to you with this offer.”

Revy dropped her empty left hand back to her side, as she replied, in a defeated tone of voice, “Alright.” She mentally added, 'She has a point there.'

The woman did not show any response to Revy letting go of her pistol.

There was silence between the two of them for the next few seconds. The women then said, “We know this is a big decision. So, we will give you some time to think about it. Also, be aware there are not threats in this deal. If you same, no. We go our separate ways. And we likely will never meet, again.

Revy asked, “And what will happen to you, if you fail to get me to say, yes?”

The woman answered, “Nothing. Except I won't get pay for this job. I work for very reasonable management. It is why I stick around. Though, whatever you decide to do, we do ask you keep our offer to yourself, or the deal is off.”

Revy stated, “Okay. I will think about it.”

The woman replied, “Good.” She then used her right hand to reach into her front right pants pocket, and a moment later, she instantly disappeared.

Just then, one of the elevator doors, to Revy's left side, opened up. Revy thought, 'She probably has a reality device in her pocket. Also, I hate it when shit gets dumped on me before I head to sleep... Still, it might be worth helping these people. But, I don't know a damn thing about them. Nor, what they want from me? Nor, if they are honest? And if I agreed to help them, would it hurt my relationship with my family and friends?...'

'As that women said. I really need to think about this. And she is right. And I will have to do so, alone... Story of my life... Well, not really...'

Revy looked down at the bottle of rum, as she continued thinking, 'But, for right now, I really do need a few swallows of this rum, to help me relax, and get me in the mood to get some sleep.'

Revy looked up, as she turned to her left. She then entered the open elevator doors.

A few seconds later, after the elevator door closed, Revy pressed the interior panel button, to take her to the floor where her suite was. And she headed up to the suite that she shared with Rock, to have a few drinks on the balcony, and then get some sleep in the same, large bed she shared with Rock.

To be continued.



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