Good morning, y’all. I’m currently writing this recap from my bed, in my PJs, hot chocolate in hand, which will hopefully make up for how abysmal my last few weeks have been. My personal life has been so — to put it mildly — fucked! And I’ve definitely fallen behind with my chapters, seeing as I’m writing this recap moments after finishing fourteen without even proofreading it. But I’m so close to done and so determined to finish and I promise I shall deliver a somewhat decent finale to you, my lovely readers. Let’s set aside my moaning and groaning and get into the usual warning: if you haven’t read the latest chapter be sure to do so, or you’ll be spoiled!
We’re with Cleo who is pretending to be Eyana but is also the Wicked Witch of the West. They’re nervous, given that they haven’t been useful of late (that’s truly my bad. I created our first Bad Town hacker and forgot to utilize her, whoops) and that they can’t really use the tech they normally would to help the team. Sort of like Inez, but not on the same level, they understand they’re a little bit of a control freak and it’s giving them some anxiety. Maybe it wasn’t the best move to start the chapter on a dour note, but I feel like I haven’t visited Cleo in awhile and I wanted their opinion in here.
When they approach the hotel there are Halloween revelers everywhere. I always have to make a note to write people abound in the city, since it’s, ya know, slightly crowded. It feels like they were so isolated on Staten and Long Islands and now they’re back where they belong, even if they’re on a mission completely at odds with their norm. The group is all turning into each other — I was worried it would be complicated, but reading back I don’t think it’s that difficult. And yes, Astor is named after this hotel in the story: I named her after the hotel’s namesake, the Astor family, but her parents named her after a swanky hotel they got knocked up in (Staten Islanders are all class). And then I joke that Astor’s sister isn’t named Jersey City and spend the rest of the day thinking about how I could shoehorn her into a future Bad Town. Someone would say something like codename: Jersey City is in position and three chapters later she’d make a throwaway reference to her sister, the great Astor Belladini. It’s not happening, don’t think you’re getting a sneak peek here, but I had a moment, okay?
Cleo is pretending to be Eyana for their own safety: Eyana’s intimidating enough that none of the guards will want to go near her, and some might abandon post out of fear. They really have to play the part, but Wendy’s trained the whole gang well so it comes together pretty seamlessly. In fact, as you guys see, the struggle isn’t pretending to be each other, it’s fighting Tate, and Cleo knows it. Eyana (Fake Cleo) knocks the power out to make it a little easier for them, and we switch to Wendy’s POV to move the story forward. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to write this chapter until I remembered that, oh yeah, I switch POVs mid-chapter in this Bad Town. Let’s just slap another character in here.
And yet we’re not with the Astors for long. They see the power get knocked out and run in and up many, many stairs until they start to encounter Tate’s security measures, which we see more of later. It’s really just to show what they’re up against, which is a lot, to say the least, especially since she’s gone full Home Alone. Let’s not forget this is the woman who supplied Wynn McAfee with smoke bombs, actual bombs and a speaker that deafened and nauseated people. She seems austere, but there’s some flair besides. The point to this section is to basically say oh shit, this won’t be easy, and now let’s hand things off to Brienne.
Does anyone else have a major soft-spot for Brienne? Because I do, hardcore, which somehow led to her getting pretty beat up this chapter. She has to climb the side of a skyscraper, which sucks, contemplate her difficult childhood, then hide behind a dresser while she gets shot at and hit in the ear, which is harmless but icky. It turns out Tate is the one who shot her, too — she makes a pretty convincing Wendy. And since she catches Tate abandoning the presidential suite the gang never even got to she has to let the Astors know, so she climbs the stairs and finds the remnants of their battles. I wasn’t kidding on full Home Alone (FYI I was worried I stole that from something and googled the full phrase but I didn’t manage to find it so I guess I’m in the clear? If not M Y B A D) since there’s shrapnel, fire and injured goons all over the place.
So Brienne does her duty and tells the Astors that Tate’s hit the road and is IMMEDIATELY besieged by even more guards who were just waiting for that shoe to drop. Tate’s got some tricks up her sleeve, it seems, and is determined not to get caught. An all-out brawl begins as the trio start punching dudes left and right. And we get what I really wanted from the start of writing a New York tale, a dramatic fight in a stairwell. Stairwells! Best fight location by a mile. And Wendy jumping floor to floor, banister to banister in big black death eater robes! Fuckin’ sick. And Brienne fucks up her back, which sucks for her, especially when she reunites with the Astors by way of shimmying down a rope dangling off the side of a skyscraper. The real Astor is sure to ask if she needs to back down, but Brienne refuses, which to me is a pretty sound note of where she is as a character: quiet and sweet, yes, but she still understands how competent she is and has the confidence to know they’re going to get through this, she’s going to Chicago, and she has a good chance to run it. But that’s a discussion for next chapter.
The trio blessedly reaches the ground where Eyana once stood, but given that she’s Eyana we’re not too worried about her not being there just yet. They head to the emergency exit that leads to Track 61 and find the door open, Cleo gone, and a dark abyss to step into. And we all know our team well enough by now to realize they’re going to jump right in, even when they know they won’t like what they’ll find there. And that wraps up the penultimate chapter of Bad Town: New York! There’s a lot at stake and a lot of battles to be won coming up so tune in two weeks from now to check that exciting conclusion. See you then!