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The Dilemma

by Aeneas Feggans

Manny burst up to the top of the Lighthouse. “Lola?”

He heard a weak groan. “Careful Manny, you may not want to see me like this.”

Lola was in a bad state. The poison had nearly finished its work. As she spoke, a new flower burst to life on her chest.

“Lola,” Manny was horrified. He’d heard of sproutings, he’d even seen a few flower beds at Membrillo’s place, but it had never been anyone he knew or cared about, and he’d never seen it happening right before his eyes. He didn’t want to think about how long she’d been painfully dying up here, “did Nick do this to you?

Lola chuckled dryly. “Yeah. He wanted that picture real bad, but he's never going to find it, that fink!”

“I'll get him, Lola,” promised Manny, “I'll show Max that picture for you and fix Nick for good. Just tell me where you hid it.”

“Oh Manny. It's all my fault, always falling for the wrong guys.” She laughed, “You know, I even had a thing for you once. But you were so hung up on that Meche woman, I figured I didn't have a chance.”

Manny had a feeling where she was going with this. He tried to distract her, “Lola,” he insisted, “where's the picture?”

“Tell me Manny,” she asked, “would I have had a chance?”

Manny cursed inwardly. How to answer that? He didn’t know the answer, but that wasn’t the only problem. If he said ‘yes’, then Lola could have been happy, and instead she’d wasted her life on men who didn’t deserve her. But if he said ‘no’…

Lola seemed to realise this as well. “Never mind. Just warn Olivia for me. Tell her to improve her taste in men. Or she'll end up just like me. Tell her to get a nice guy Manny,” her last words were barely a whisper, “like you.” With that, she disappeared completely beneath the deadly foliage.

“Lola!.” Manny stepped forward, but just then a gust of wind took hold of her remains. Manny ran forward and grasped futilely at the scattering flowers. “LO-LA!” he cried, as if he could somehow bring her back by force of will. But there was nothing he could do but stand there and watch her disappear forever.

“Oh, Lola...” he said. Then he noticed something where she had been lying. It was a card. He picked it up. It was a picture of a tongue, and on it, someone had written, ‘#22 – Lengua’.

He couldn’t help feeling he’d seen something like this somewhere before. He slipped it into his jacket pocket. Whatever it was, it was a lead, and it would show him the wayto that photograph.

Standing in the cat races, Manny stared at the seemingly insignificant piece of paper in his hand. This photo was the reason Lola was sprouted, and the reason Nick Virago deserved to die, again. All he had to do was show this to Maximino, and Virago would get everything that was coming to him.

Of course, said a voice, from somewhere within by doing that you’d be effectively killing any chance of finding Meche. You need to get out of here to find her, you need the Limbo to set sail tomorrow to get out of here, the Limbo needs Glottis on board to set sail, Glottis needs tools to work on the Limbo, you can get tools from the Sea Bees, but not while Terry is in jail and you need Nick’s help to get him out. And he’d do anything you ask him to if you’d give him that photograph.

Manny thought, I can’t forsake my friend just to suit my own purposes.

Terry’s your friend too, isn’t he? And I know you care for Meche. Can you forsake them just to silence your conscience?

Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be freeing him out of the goodness of the space where my heart used to be. You said so yourself, I’d be doing it because I need to find Meche, and I only want to find her so I can get my job back.

OK, you’re right, you’d only be getting Terry out for your own sake, but Lola is gone, she’s beyond any help now. If you show this to Max, you could avenge her, but you would still be stuck here and no one would be any better off. Not you or Meche or Terry or Max, not even Lola! Trust me, this is the best course of action.

You know what? Enough of this!

He produced a coin.

Heads or tails?


Manny tossed. He held out his hand to catch it on the way down, but he fumbled it. It hit the wall and skittered across the floor, past the staircase and came to rest by the opposite wall.

Manny stared at it for a few seconds, before accepting what fate had decided.

Nick folded the incriminating photo and put it in his pocket. “I guess our business is settled.”
<p>Manny clenched a fist. “Almost.” He struck. The rat bastard met the pavement with a very satisfying crash.

“What?” Nick said confusedly. “Was that for the photo girl?”

“No. That was just for being you.” replied Manny, “I don't have time to get you for Lola, but I'm sure somebody will.”

Nick pulled himself up, dusted himself off and started to leave. “You didn't have time to save her either.” he said, over his shoulder, “But don't feel too bad about that Manny. I hear saving women really isn't your forte.”

Alone now, Manny smiled nastily to himself. “Laugh it up, lawyer boy.” He said quietly, “Enjoy it while you can. You’ll get yours sooner than you think. I’m only sorry I can’t be there to watch.”

Nick returned to the Players Lounge and his table. A while later, that pathetic demon was finally forcibly ejected from the building. Nick breathed a sigh of relief, and returned to his work. He didn’t notice when Calavera was quietly brought in to Max’s office by some heavies, or when he was just as quietly escorted out.
<p>Some time after that, someone coughed politely. He looked up to see one of Max’s messengers.


“He wants you in his office, Mr Virago.”

“I see, I’ll be right there.”

The man nodded and went on his way.

Nick got up and made his way over. He wasn’t concerned; a man like Max frequently had new reasons to call his lawyer.

Only when he opened the door and noticed the distinctly frosty atmosphere did he notice there was anything wrong, but too late. He found himself pushed in by a heavy-set man he could have sworn had not been there a few seconds ago. He stumbled in, straight into someone’s right hook. Down he went.

“Search him.”

Questing fingers disarmed him and located the photo in his jacket pocket. It was brought over to Maximino, at his desk. He slowly unfolded it.

“You know, Virago, I was rather hoping that you’d be stupid enough to keep this on you, instead of destroying it.” Max said calmly. While he was speaking, Nick took the time to take stock of his surroundings. On his left was the heavy-set, on his right and slightly nearer was the slim man who’d punched him. Nick was unsurprised to notice Olivia in the far corner, sitting sullenly and avoiding anyone’s direct gaze. “Not that it would have mattered,” he continued, walking round in front of his desk, “I’d already seen it with my own eyes, but it just seems more right and proper this way, you know what I’m saying?”

He was now directly in front of Nick, he leaned forward, “Calavera was here. Before he brought this to you,” he waved the photo in Nick’s face, “he’d already brought it to me. He told me everything. How long this has been going on between you two. How sweet virtuous Lola tried to show me what a fool I was being. And what you did to the poor girl to stop her. I was ready to bring you in here and shoot you on the spot, but Manny talked me down. He asked me to hold off on doing anything until he’d done what he needed to. I agreed. Later, when his casino was raided I brought him up here to talk about the debts run up by his obese, jaundice-afflicted friend. But I still felt obligated, so I reduced the charge from cat food to all the money he still had, which was less than half.”

“So now,” here Max’s tone changed from the calm relaxed one to the dangerous one. The one that let you know there was no way you could escape from the grave you’d dug for yourself, “not only have you been messing around with my girl, but you’ve cost me money as well.” He produced a gun. “I hate losing money, Virago, you know that.” He aimed his gun and fired.

As soon as Max’s tone changed Nick was ready. In one movement he rose to his feet and grabbed the man on the right to take the bullet. He took the flowering man’s sidearm and thrust his shield at the heavy-set. Then he rushed at Max, firing twice.

Maximino had been unprepared for any counter-attack. He was half-sprouted before he realised what was happening. Nick stood over him as he collapsed, then prodded him with his foot. Satisfied, he turned.

Heavy-set was just extricating himself from his cultivated comrade. He took in the scene and said, “You want me to take care of the bodies, boss?”

Nick smiled, “Forward-thinking. I like that. What’s your name?”


“Thank you, Tomaz, that would be appreciated. Would you also alert everyone to the change in management, if you please?”

“Yes, boss. I’ll be back with some guys for the bodies, sir.”

“Very good.”

When Tomaz had left, Nick strolled over to the desk and made himself comfortable behind it.

“Mine. All mine.” he purred.

“Wow!” said a voice behind him, “You really know how to take control, don’t you?”

He felt a pair of hands begin to massage his shoulders. Olivia! He’d clean forgotten about her.

“How does it feel, babe?” he asked, “To know you messed about with the right guy at the right time?”

“Honey, it feels fabulous!” Olivia now swung around to sit on his lap. “But then I’ve always been able to pick the strong ones.”

Nick grinned, and started to caress her chin. Suddenly, he tightened his grip on her jaw. She gasped with pain.

“If I ever catch you doing to me what we were doing to Max…!” he left the rest of the sentence unspoken, and released his grip.

Olivia was shaken, but she regained her composure. “What are you going to do about Calavera?”

Nick snorted. “He’s long gone. And I’m willing to leave him be. He did a bang up job of setting me up, the clever son of a bitch, and you have to admire him for that.” He paused, “‘Course, if I ever see him in town again I’ll use his head as a rabbit at the races.”

Olivia chuckled, and met him with a kiss.</p><hr size=1 width=100% noshade>As the Limbo pulled away from the dock, Manny wondered what the odds were of a coin landing on its edge, and gave Rubacava one last glance.
<p>“So long, Nick.”

He made his way to the galley, where the captain was waiting.

“You Naranja’s replacement?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“I like to get acquainted with the crew. Welcome aboard!”

“Thank you, Captain.”

“Well, I’ll leave you to your work.” He indicated the mop in the corner, then made to leave. He paused at the door. “I tell you, we chose just the right time to leave this town.”

Manny frowned, “What do you mean, Captain?”

“You don’t know? Some big mobster in this place got sprouted by an underling, who’s now the new top man. And when someone new gets to the top, he needs to show everyone that he’s a serious businessman. Rubacava’s going to be seeing a lot more action in the next few weeks. We’re lucky to be shot of it!”

Manny suddenly felt as if the ground had disappeared from beneath him. “Do you know who it was sprouted him?”

“Yeah. Would you believe it? It was the guy’s lawyer, of all people! Hey – you OK?”

Manny had never felt so hollow than he did at that moment. “I’d…I’d better see to this floor.”

The captain raised an eyebrow, but left without pressing the matter.

Manny sighed. “I’m sorry, Lola. I tried.”

The story above roughly represents something I tried to do in the actual game. I was sure that it was just a matter of finding the photocopier. Really, it sucks that they'd let Lola die unavenged :\(

Note: The in-game dialogue in this story is taken from James Isacc's script at http/dod. If there's anything incorrect, blame him.

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