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Express2

Previous Chapter - Prologue VIII: The Rail Tracer

Next Chapter - Epilogue II: Epilogue - The Woman In Coveralls

SynopsisEdit

Czeslaw Meyer and Mary Beriam bump into Jacuzzi Splot in the dining car, and apologize for the trouble. Natalie Beriam joins them, and the three newcomers sit at the bar with Jacuzzi, Nice Holystone, and Isaac and Miria and make conversation.

Isaac recounts the story of the Rail Tracer, but unfortunately cannot remember how it ends. Jon Panel suggests that the Young Conductor might know the ending, prompting Jacuzzi to hastily leave the dining car in search of him. Nice takes chase, and soon afterwards the dining car is held up by three independent parties: several Lemures, Vicky the White Suit, and Nick from Jacuzzi's Gang.

Realizing that he is heavily outgunned, Nick makes a prompt exit from the scene while the Lemures and Vicky have a shootout. Vicky manages to kill one of the Lemures and injure another before he dies. Rachel surreptitiously escapes through a window during the commotion.

The narrative cuts back to the dining car, where Natalie tells Czes to take Mary and hide. Czes agrees, and exits the dining car hand-in-hand with Mary. He muses that while he has no problems with killing children and deceiving adults, he is uncomfortable about deceiving a child. He also considers that the White Suits may prove useful to him.

Czes leads Mary to a closet, and tells her to hide there while he checks things out elsewhere.

Over in the freight room, three Lemures guard the Lemures' weapons and argue over guard duty. Their job has become more complicated now that they have four recently captured prisoners (Nick, Jack, Lua Klein, and Who) stewing in another freight room to worry about. Two of the Lemures end up heading out into the corridor, while the bespectacled one remains behind intending to wire Goose Perkins.

He grows worried when the two men don't answer him, and exits into the corridor to find one of the men trembling violently by an open window. The Lemur asks where their comrade George went, and is confused when his friends says that George just 'disappeared.' And then - in the span of a few seconds - a 'red shadow' appears through the open window, grabs the terrified Lemure, and drags him outside. Stunned, the bespectacled Lemur watches the 'red shadow' pass by the window, and screams.

(He uses his transmitter to contact Goose, but Claire - the red shadow - grabs him and drags him out of the train and kills him).

Crawling under the cars, Rachel reaches the area under the freight room and watches a red something open its side door from the outside. Dumbfounded, she watches the red creature enter the freight room, where a man screams bloody murder. Before Rachel can make a getaway, the red shadow drops down from the freight hold, and the two of them make eye contact.

After spotting her, Claire takes the bespectacled Lemur's corpse - now missing its legs - and tosses it back into the freight hold before asking Rachel if he can see her ticket. She screeches and flees from him under the train.
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Meanwhile, Ladd Russo and the recently rescued Lua and Who investigate the conductors' compartment, where Ladd works himself up into a brief frenzy upon spotting Dune's corpse. Calming down, he warns Lua to be careful and asks her and Who to go hide while he leaves to kill the Black Suits and the monster responsible for this mess.

Now on his own, Czes enters the first freight room and finds the legless corpse that Claire had dispatched earlier. Slightly perturbed (and wondering how the man died), Czes leaves the room and heads for the conductors' compartment, intending to find the White Suit's leader. He ends up running into Ladd in the second freight car, and - speaking like a child - leads Ladd, Lua, and Who into the car's freight room. There, he asks Ladd to kill all the people in the dining car for him.

Czes drops his 'kid' act once Ladd realizes that he is certainly not a child, and the two begin negotiations that eventually fall through once Czes manages to thoroughly irritate Ladd. Who asks Ladd why he didn't take Czes' deal as they leave, and Ladd grumbles that Czes was so sure that Ladd wouldn't kill him. He adds that something was off about the way Czes looked completely calm even when Ladd blew his head off.

Back in the freight hold, Czes quickly regenerates and opens his eyes. He is about to leave the freight hold when he hears Isaac and Miria wailing over Jacuzzi in the corridor. They enter the freight hold right as Czes hides behind some crates, and he listens to them remark on how from the way "they" were talking, it sounded as if someone had been shot inside this room. Czes escapes the room while they're busy investigating the cargo.

Unbeknownst to Czes, Claire had been eavesdropping on the entire conversation between him and Ladd - though he hadn't realized that Czes had regenerated. Having concluded that Czes is no child, Claire exits the freight hold the way he entered it - through the trapdoor in the floor - as Isaac and Miria are talking. Prior to that point, he'd disposed of two White Suits in a third class compartment and tossed them out of the train along with the three Lemur corpses that had already been there. Claire makes his way back to the conductor's compartment to make the scheduled light signal.

Ladd, having heard about the roof from The Gray Magician, climbs atop it along with Lua and Who (who are both having significantly more trouble moving than he is) to check things out. Spotting human figures several cars ahead, he tells Lua and Who that he's going to check out the first-class cars. In the meantime, he suggests that they go back to their second class compartment and rest up. Lua and Who climb down at the next coupling while Ladd runs off.

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Several cars away, Chané Laforet stands on top of a first-class car, which she'd climbed on top of after killing a White Suit to keep an eye on things. She suspects that the White Suits might be planning on carrying out a surprise attack by traveling via the roof, and intends on taking care of them all without the help of the other Lemures - whom she knows intend to betray both her and her father Huey Laforet.

Chané spots two human figures crawling over the dining car, and some distance behind them a man in a blood-dappled White Suit - Ladd. She instinctively knows that he's the one responsible for killing two of the Lemures in the dining car. Over on the tail end of the dining car, Ladd - who'd followed the crawling individuals - admires the intensity of Chané's eyes and asks if she isn't cold.

Back in the conductor's compartment, Isaac and Miria's presence bodes ill for Claire - but thanks to Jacuzzi and Donny finding them and leading them to a freight hold he is able to make his scheduled light signal on time.

The real trouble comes after Claire clambers under the cars and reaches the second class cars, where he peeks into the White Suits' room and finds two third-class passengers instead. One of them is Doctor Fred (the Gray Magician), and the other (Jack) is bloodied and injured. Claire is puzzled as to why Fred is attempting to treat Jack's wounds in a second-class compartment - and why the White Suits' one?

The compartment door opens, and Lua and Who enter the room. Fred explains to Who that Ladd gave him permission to be here, and asks if they could help him move Jack to the bed. Lua makes eye contact with Claire through the window, and - much to his surprise - she only watches him quietly, without any hint of fear. At the sound of footsteps on the roof, Claire moves upward and spots Chané chasing after Ladd. He descends under the car and moves to the third-class car - where he catches sight of Czes through the door's window. Czes, whom Claire thought dead.

Claire enters the third class car and opens the door to the compartment Czes had entered. There, he proceeds to torture Czes after learning that he is immortal. When he is unable to stand the torture any longer, Czes tries to escape by shattering the window and throwing himself off the train - but Claire grabs him and holds his right arm and legs against the ground, obliterating them. Rachel watches on in muted horror, and when Claire notices her she screams and flees toward the front of the train.

Claire ties Czes to the space between the wheels and leaves to take care of the rest of the Lemures and White Suits. Before leaving, he notes to Czes that he plans on coming back and picking up from where he left off. After Claire departs, two Lemures poke their heads out of the window above Czes.

Three Lemures investigate the freight hold with the legless corpse of their comrade, and contact Goose over the wireless. Switching the wireless off, the leader informs the others that Code Beta is in effect - it is implied that Code Beta is the plan that involves killing Chané. Ladd drops down from the ceiling and uses one of Chané's throwing knife to slash the throat of the Lemur next to the leader, and then holds it to the leader's neck. Holding the leader hostage, he orders both the leader and the Lemur by the door to drop their guns.

Rachel Rescue

The timid Lemur by the door drops his gun and flees the scene. Entertained, Ladd forces the leader to explain why exactly the Lemures want their own comrade dead.

Under a first-class car, Rachel thinks about the Rail Tracer and shivers before climbing upward to peek through one of the car's windows. She spots Natalie and Mary bound with ropes and immediately regrets looking, desperately trying to talk herself out of risking her life. Instead, she climbs upward and kicks the window, causing the Lemur standing guard to poke his head out. Rachel manages to knock the Lemur out of the window and off the train, and she enters the room and frees Natalie and Mary.

Outside the dining car, Claire observes two Lemures standing guard inside and crawls under the car, where he turns off the car's electricity. Upon climbing back up, he enters the car via a rear window and drags one of the men off the train. Then, he runs alongside the outside ornamentation to the front of the car, opens a window, and does the same with the other Lemur.

After switching the car's electricity back on, he is a little irritated to find two more Lemures inside the car and dispatches one of them by the couplings. The other one spies him and makes a break for the first-class compartments. Claire lets him go and makes his way back to the conductors' compartment for the scheduled light signal.

Ladd finds Chané on the roof of the conductors' compartment and rattles off everything he learned about her from the Lemur in the freight hold as the too fight. At one point he knocks her off the train, but she survives by stabbing her knife into the side of the conductors' compartment and climbing back up. The fight resumes, and Ladd breaks out into a cold sweat when Chané nicks his right ear. Ladd eventually provokes Chané by announcing his intent to kill Huey, but Claire grabs her knives by their tips and prevents her from charging at him.

It turns out that Chané had nicked Claire's ear when she stabbed her knife into the compartment, but she cannot apologize for it since she cannot speak. Claire apologizes, and says that they should carry on fighting - he'll kill whomever survives.

The narrative returns to the moment in which Lua had spotted Claire outside the window of the White Suits' compartment. Lua realizes that there is no way Ladd could defeat such a monster, and Fred observes that there is life in her eyes now that wasn't there before. He reminiscences on his past, and concludes that there is something Lua 'must do' as Lua exits the compartment and runs through the corridors, determined to find her lover.
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Up on the roof, a very antagonized Ladd attempts to attack Claire, who has decided to help Chané out. As Claire easily evades Ladd's attacks, he casually notes that he will never die because the world revolves around him. With aggravating ease, he gets the best of Ladd and uses a pistol to blow part of Ladd's ear away before asking about Ladd's fiancée, Lua. At Ladd's clear affection for her, Claire cheerfully and viciously says that he knows exactly what Ladd's fate is to be: Ladd will voluntarily jump off this train. Back in the White Suits' compartment, Fred converses with Who about how similar Lua's eyes are to his own, revealing that she desires death as much as he does. He believes that Lua has much more value to this world than he does. Who laments the dangerous situation.
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Ladd saves Lua

On the roof, Ladd follows Claire's gaze and spots Lua clinging to the rooftop, much to his alarm. Before he can do anything, Claire snatches Lua and ties a rope around her neck (as she pleads for Ladd to run away), the other end of which he lassos onto a hook hanging from a post by the side of the train.

The rope quickly loses slack, and Ladd does exactly what Claire predicted; he grabs the rope with his right hand and Lua with his other, and the two are pulled off the train. Ladd's ring finger is quickly sawed off by the rope's friction, but he holds on anyway, determined not to let the rope strangle Lua.

He is shocked when the rope unravels, and realizes that Claire tricked him. Lua wriggles underneath him - to protect him with her body - and Ladd uses his tattered hand to punch the next oncoming post before they smash into it.

On the rooftop, Claire turns his head away from the couple and assures Chané that Lua seems to be safe and alive, and remarks that it was really something of Ladd - whom he'd thought of as scum - to have protected her until the end. He recalls his promise to kill the survivor of the duel and admits that he can't tell whether or not Ladd survived his fall, so he isn't exactly sure what he should do next.
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In the face of Chané's silence, Claire asks Chané several questions about Huey and presents her with a choice: either she hires him to protect Huey, or fights him to the death right here and now. Chané's inner conflict vanishes as soon as Claire asks if Huey is immortal or not, replaced with a murderous resolve to kill him. Claire deduces that she's scared he might threaten Huey and steal his immortality, and guesses that she doesn't trust him because he isn't family to Huey like she is.

With that, Claire comes up with a third option aside from hiring him and fighting him: that she marry him and they protect Huey together. He assures Chané that he would genuinely love her, but adds that he'd accept becoming her adoptive sister if she'd prefer. Noticing her confusion, he emphasizes that he is utterly serious, and that unlike her comrades he would never betray her. That, and he has no interest in Huey's immortality.

After all, he is a man who will never die.

At that moment, the Lemur Spike snipes Chané and shoots her through her shoulder. Claire advises Chané to jump into the upcoming river if she doesn't want to be arrested by the police, but asks that she carve her response to his proposal onto the rooftop first. He notes in nicking his ear, she left proof of her existence on him - and that's something special. With that, he takes off in the direction of the gunshots to go take care of Spike, dodging the bullets with ease.

Chané carves her response into the rooftop and jumps into the river.

At the same time, Donny is nearly done throwing the boxes of smuggled explosives out of the freight hold and into the river when he thinks he saw a black-clad woman fall past the open side door and into the river. He dismisses it as just his imagination.

Meanwhile, the train's engineers - a pair of elderly, hard-of-hearing brothers - finally notice the sounds of explosions in the distance from their station in the locomotive. (The explosions are the ones Nice and Nick are setting off in first class). The younger of the two prepares to go investigate when Claire (who'd just thrown Spike off the train) shows up and warns them to not stop the train no matter what. He explains that there is a robber posse pursuing the train on horseback, and that they're the ones responsible for the noises. The brothers fall for his story and decide to run the train at full speed.

While all this is going on, Isaac and Miria putter around the third-class car and remark on the conspicuous absence of the White Suits and the Rail Tracer. They investigate each compartment as they move, releasing the bound passengers they find from their ropes. Some of the passengers inform them that they'd heard a child screaming for some time, and the sound of shattering glass. Worried, Miria thinks of Mary and Czes.

The door of one room stands ajar, and Isaac and Miria peek inside and discover two Lemures leaning outside the window and talking to each other. The duo assume that the men were the ones responsible for picking on the child the passengers had heard screaming, and they pelt the Lemures with their special lime-pepper mixture. While the men struggle to breathe, Isaac and Miria pick up the Lemures' dropped tommy guns and challenge the men to a duel at gunpoint. The Lemures quickly surrender and beg for forgiveness.

Isaac and Miria shut the Lemures into an adjacent compartment and return to the room to look for the screaming child. Looking outside the window, they are shocked to see Czes' legless corpse caught beside the wheels, missing its right arm.
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Rachel begs Claire

Sitting on the connecting platform between the second and third-class carriages, Rachel is in severe pain from the gunshot wound in her thigh and decides to go lie down somewhere. She opens the door to the third-class carriage, only for Turner to emerge from the second-class carriage and aim a rifle at her back. Rachel turns to face him.

Turner accuses her of being a White Suit, and is disconcerted when Rachel brings up a ten year old incident from his past. Unbeknownst to him, Claire is standing behind him the entire time - and Rachel begs Claire to kill her before Turner can. Claire promptly dislocates both Turner's shoulders, causing the man to pass out. Rachel picks up Turner's rifle and stops Claire from killing Turner, saying that if he's going to kill anyone it should be her. Through her tears, she explains that she is sick of seeing people's blood spilled, sullying the pride of the railroads that she loves so much.

Increasingly impressed by her, Claire calls her "amazing" and gives her a bloody, torn ticket so that the police won't arrest her when the train finally arrives at the station. He remarks that if he hadn't met Chané, he just might have fallen for Rachel instead, and as he walks down the third class car he assures her that he's only killed Black Suits and White Suits, not passengers. Rachel accuses him of lying, and Claire recalls Czes and tells her to just ask him about it in person. So saying, he opens the door of the compartment where he'd tortured Czes earlier and finds Miria leaning more than halfway out of its window.
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As it turns out, Miria is holding on to Isaac as he attempts to rescue Czes. When a few drops of blood rescind into a cut on Isaac's hand, Czeslaw panics and slaps Isaac's hand away, the momentum causing Czes to fall off the train. Isaac launches himself off the train to grab him and Miria follows. In the end, they are saved by the combined efforts of Rachel, Claire, and Donny.

On the roof, Isaac and Miria attempt to perform artificial respiration and chest compressions on Czes to no avail. They are briefly distracted by an explosion over one of the cars, where two figures are in the middle of fighting. Another explosion ensues after one of them vanishes.

A mass of meat and bloody flesh surges over the roof of their car. Mistaking the mass for the Rail Tracer, Isaac and Miria attempt to shield Czes from it with their bodies. The flesh is actually Czes' right arm and legs, and when Czes finishes regenerating he admits that he lied about going to see his family and that he is not 'a good boy.' Isaac and Miria reassure him that he really is a good boy, and Isaac announces that he'll take care of 'everything' from here.

Claire faces off against Jacuzzi, and waxes poetic over the other man's eyes as the sun rises. Jacuzzi charges forward and slams into him, and the two men roll over the side of the train. Jacuzzi pulls the pin from one of his grenades, but at Claire's urging flings it away from them. It ignites against the ground.

Claire deposits Jacuzzi in the corridor outside the conductors' compartment and advises him to get the doctor in second-class to look over his wounds. Once Jacuzzi leaves, Claire further mangle Dune's corpse so as to ensure that the police mistake it as "Claire Stanfield."

Isaac, Miria, and Czes return to the dining car and reunite with the Beriams. Czes apologizes to Mary.

Claire returns to the roof and reads Chané's message, which he is rather amused by and decides to take as a souvenir. Descending to the connecting platform, he promises that he will search for her after he does his duty by the Gandor brothers.

TriviaEdit

Cultural ReferencesEdit

Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit

Czeslaw Meyer

Mary Beriam

Jacuzzi Splot

Natalie Beriam

Nice Holystone

Isaac Dian

Miria Harvent

Rachel

The Mustached Man

Vicky

The Lemures

Nick

Claire Stanfield

Ladd Russo

Lua Klein

Chané Laforet

QuotesEdit

"May I see your ticket?" - Claire Stanfield to Rachel

"Believe that I'm a man who'll never die." - Claire Stanfield, to Chané Laforet

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