Toodle pip? :p
AN: : Last part of Changing Skies. Hope you enjoy... Sorry that i had to split this into three. It annoyed me a bit.
Oh, and while I was writing this during Nanowrimo, I ended up writing quite a few parts in the realm of 3 AM in the morning... and due to the fact I tended to get rather incoherent... things happened as I wrote that I wasn't aware of as I scribbled away, mind 95% gone. There was one spot in particular that makes me laugh every time I read it due to my dazed state. I put it in a spoiler, and I highly recommend that you not (in fact, don't) read it until you finish the chapter, then you'll get the context and stuff without spoiling the particular moment.
"otopus crowd! octopus cloud," she chants.
"No it's nooa...." Your thoughts skid to a very abrupt halt. You look up at the flyign object in the sky, its six tendrils keeping it afloat on Campus's Rocky Waters. But you can see it, the grand octopus in the clowd as it waves to ground-bound classic lines.
Kudos to Hanako for Beta'ing.
Childhood lasts only for a short time,
Little but one rung on the ladder we must climb.
Still, the memories of those days will never fade, no matter how high
you ascend deep into cloud and sky.
"I'm bored," Guy says, drawing a stick figure carrying a sword in the dirt.
"Yeah," Luke agrees. "Is this how you commoners play? It's bor-innnngg!"
"You're free to leave anytime you want, you know," Diane retorts, as you blink the sleepiness from your eyes, having only awoken about ten minutes ago to this spectacle. Ian's still perched atop your head, seemingly still snoozing, judging from the tiny, wheezing squeaks he's emitting. "Don't let us stop you."
The twins exchange fleeting glances at one another before proclaiming in perfect synchronization with one another: "It's more boring at home!"
"I know!" Stella exclaims, and Diane's face immediately switches into her "oh great" look. "Let's play tag!"
Todd is the first to respond. "Tag, eh?" He stands up. "Sounds good to me."
You know immediately what's coming, so you stand up to, black dots abounding in your vision, before fading away into a bright, crisp picture of the park before you. The sudden movement sends Ian tumbling off your back, and he lands with a surprised squeak, gazing up at you with questioning eyes. You shake your head, feeling your muscles tense up, preparing to bolt the minute Stella announces that -
Guy and Luke only take a moment to follow suit, as does everyone else, with the exception of Diane (who is resolutely sitting with her arms folded tightly across her chest with a stony glare) Lady, who has yet to move from the spot on top of the hill she has been from the time of her release, and Ian. The poor bugger just looks plain confused.
"Run!" you call out to him, slowing to a halt, though you're ready to bolt at any moment. "You're supposed to run."
"Pi?" He looks at you, tilting his head to the left in confusion. You're about to yell at him again, when Stella swoops down and bops the Caterpie on the head with such force it makes him face-plant into the grass.
She starts to run, but stops as Ian continues to look on in bewilderment.
"I said "you're it'!" Your cousin taps her foot impatiently. Ian still does not move.
(You remind yourself to teach him the rules of playing tag when you get home.)
Looking sympathetic, Uncle Todd kneels down besides the Caterpie, holding out his hand with a laugh. "Tag me."
If Ian were a Noctowl, he would've turned his head a whole one hundred and eighty degrees, but he settles for about sixty.
Todd stretches out his hand further, repeating the same words he did before. Ian, still looking rather confused by the whole thing, inches forward, before tapping him on the hand.
"That's it!" Uncle Todd yells, turning about sharply. "Got'cha!"
Stella yelps as her dad lunges for her, but he catches her firmly by the wrist and pulls her struggling form towards him. He looks pointedly at the Caterpie, keeping his hold on his struggling (and now giggling) daughter.
Your uncle then winks, pointing at Stella, loosening his hold on her pale arm ever-so-slightly. "This is the part where you run."
The light of understanding finally raining down upon him, Ian 'squees' and bolts across the turf like a green thunderbolt.
Letting go of his daughter, Todd steps back at a leisurely pace. Stella twirls around, her blonde hair flying behind her, and she leaps at her Dad, tagging him on the shoulder, before turning around and running like a blonde-haired midget would if given longer legs.
"Hold on, Stel! No tag-backs, remember?" Todd calls, and Stella's skids through dirt and grass with her pink sneakers, making a very abrupt stop, looking furious.
"Hey! You never told me that! Don't be a cheater, Daddy!"
"Just because I never said it, doesn't mean the rule's not there. It's what's called an unwritten rule, see?"
Stella looks around. "I don't see anything - any writing or -"
"Not that kind of see, Stel."
Stella blows a raspberry. "I know! You don't have to tell me!"
Diane crosses one leg over the other as she leans back against the tree bark with a shrug, clearly savoring the fact she is not participating. "Could've fooled me."
Out of the corner of your eyes, you can see the two black-haired twins shuffling towards Stella. Are they stupid? Or do rich kids not know how to play tag properly?
"You know..." Guy says, blushing as he shuffles his feet in a nonchalant way, "you can tag one of us if you want..."
"Yeah, we don't care. If you don't want to be it..."
You then have a strange desire to call her a cheater again. Twice. Once for Luke, and once for Guy.
You spin around and collapse onto the grass with a grateful sigh, your body completely and totally spent. You're not the only one. The two twins soon drop on the bright, sun-covered hilltop beside you, with Todd close behind. Stella, however, looks like she's still got energy to spare and more besides.
Ian himself showed an amazing aptitude in the chasing game. He could run away and dodge everyone without so much as trying, much to Stella's supreme vexation. She had made him her target for a good time afterwards, having rejected the twin's twin proposals, fancying the little bug easy, but it turned out to not be so; he avoided her like he would a bottle of insecticide. She then went after you, but gave up, tagging one of the twins instead.
And that took just about five seconds. Then, the other twin tagged his brother, and then that twin chased after Stella. (You’ve never seen anyone have so much fun chasing after somebody else -- especially your cousin -- in your entire life. You found it disturbing, but couldn't complain, as their target wasn't you.)
Now, the game's over, and you think Ian won it all, but the little bug doesn't care. He’s found his habitual perch atop his head, giving a very deflating little squeal that reminded you of the twin brothers’ Gulpin. Lady herself has seemingly made some progress in the movement category, having rolled over on her back, mouth open as wide as she can (which is something to behold) and seems rather content to lay there, waiting to catch flies, or whatever other morsels might be dropped from the gift-giver's above. From her dopey, half-grin on her face, you guess she's actually profited from such maneuvers before.
(Most of which, you think, were probably offerings from traveling birds, eager to pass on their blessings to the land walkers below.)
... The twins did say she'd eat anything after all. So your imagination ran with that.
"Getting old, eh, Dad?" Diane calls as she climbs the small hill, for once looking amused.
Chest heaving, your uncle takes a few moments to catch his breath. "No. I'm still… as young and spry ... like I was at twenty." He pauses, gulping in air. "... Never said anything about being a marathon runner."
"You said you were in track 'back in the day', Dad."
"Sprinter for the Viridian Vulpixes, yes. Short distance.” He breathes in. “Short distances I can do. I let the rest of the track geeks waste their time running laps for miles and miles, while I reaped the benefits. Take my brother for instance. He'd be making his tenth or whatever lap 'round the track" -- here, he makes an articulate gesture with his hands across the air -- "and I'd be finished, sitting on the bench and waving to him as he went past, while being checked out by the hottest foxy ladies Viridian High had to offer. Yes indeed." He smiles fondly, closing his eyes. "Those were the days."
"We should do this more often, Daddy!" Stella yells, cutting off and winding her father as she pounces onto his stomach. Diane has to drag Stella unceremoniously off (accompanied by a rather wry, 'you're an idiot look') in order allow your Uncle to regain his breath.
Still winded, it takes a few moments to find his voice again. "Ah," he says, thwarting another cat-like spring, "but Daddy has work, and work doesn't let your dad play tag."
Stella purses her lips, forming a scowl. "Banning tag is stupid."
You nod your head. "Yeah." What's wrong with tag anyway?
"So... let me get this straight," Diane says slowly, "you're not allowed to play tag, yet you can sunbathe and play on the beaches in Cinnabar, go on safari in Fuchsia, go on a cruise as you traveled from Vermilion to the Sevii islands -"
"My job has perks." He shrugs. "I'm not complaining."
"You should quit your job then, Daddy!" Stella says to him, eyes shining with hope. "Quit your job so you can play with us more."
Todd smiles thinly. "But I like my job."
"He just wants to 'travel around the world', Stel." Diane says, a sort of dryness coming from her voice, laced with an emotion you can't quite place. Mocking, almost. Disapproving. "It’s his life’s dream from his childhood or whatever, and his job lets him do it. It's his mid-life crisis. He's not going to quit anytime soon."
Todd puts on one of the most fake hurt expressions you've seen him wear. "I take offense at the fact you call it my mid-life crisis."
"Then what is it, Dad? So is writing Matt's speeches, or giving them to the people in his place when Matt's not around or too drunk to talk is something you like to do?"
"Well, I don't mind. Though when Matt insists on acting like a spoiled git it can be a bit of a trying experience. Last week for example. I'm surprised he wasn't killed by the time Lavie got me there."
"What did he do this time?” Diane sighs, anger in her tone fading into irritation, sounding like she doesn’t even want to know, or is very appreciative about the shift in subject, but goes along with it anyway. “Must’ve been important if Lavie came to get you. Mom had a fit when we got home, you know, so it better’ve been important.”
"Oh, it was." He looks around, seeming a bit hesitant to be talking about his work. "Well, you know about Cinnabar's special institute, don't you?"
"Yeah. The clone place or whatever. The lab.”
Stella crawls back into her father's lap, her head leaning precariously back to rest on his chest. "Daddy, what're clones?"
Stole the words right out of your mouth. Even the twins look like they don't know. You think you've heard it before on TV shows and stuff.
With a hesitance that suggests that he'd much rather not go into it, he gives a leaden sigh. "How to explain..." He draws in a raspy breath, before scribbling a crude stick figure with a dress with long hair in a patch of dirt, not covered by grass. "Lets see… Let’s imagine we decided we'd like another one of you." He circles the figure and puts an arrow pointing to it. Ian crawls up sleepily until his body drapes over your forehead. Another inch more and he'd be obscuring your eyes.
Stella points to herself. "Me?" Both twins look overjoyed at the prospect, and you could've sworn you heard Luke mumble something along the lines of 'I call the real one.'
"Yes, you. And say we decided to take your DNA -- the stuff that makes you you -- and with that made another girl." Another stick figure joined the other. The twins and you crowd closer to get a better look. "And this somebody has an appearance is exactly like yours. Same eyes, same hair, same nose--"
Stella’s eyes slowly venture over to the twins. "Then… I'd have a twin, wouldn't I, Daddy?" She points to Guy and Luke, who blink and eye their own sword-and-axe wielding stick figures. "Like them."
"Well... I suppose you could look at it that way..."
"Then... is Guy or Luke a clone?" Both twins look at each other with near identical glances of bewilderment. "Is that how you make twins?"
"Perhaps you could call Guy and Luke natural clones, if you wanted. But they're not exactly what you're thinking of. See, these clones are made with machines. Artificially. And really, shouldn't even exist. That's a clone."
"Now comes the big questions.” Todd’s gaining momentum now. “Is it ethical, and is it fair? Do the clones have rights? Do they have personalities? Are they intelligent? -- I say all who doubt it should go and insult a Scyther, then we'll see who's intelligent -- Can they feel? Matt was supposed to give a speech on his views about Pokémon Rights, and their position as sentient species, especially those of clones" -- he's talking mostly to Diane now -- "a topic which has been beaten to death, what with Cinnabar's laboratories going crazy about cloning super Pokémon. The lab nerds there quite fancy themselves geniuses.”
You listen with unbridled curiosity -- matched only by the twins -- hampered only by your bewilderment on the subject that you know pretty much nothing about. Todd doesn't really like to talk about his work with you or Stella, and perhaps you can see why, because he looks like he's getting pretty worked up over it.
"Matt ended up botching the whole thing -- not much of a surprise -- by telling the crowd that clones were little more than fodder to be used to humans as they will, as clones aren't real, living creatures and they don't experience any sort of emotion at all. Just blunt like that. He didn't even try putting any sense into it - not saying anything that usual smart people use to argue over these topics. Scientific reasoning, proof" --Todd waves his hands about in frustration-- "anything, and I mean anything besides his pure, uncensored opinion. Something that would prove to me that there is hope for him. But nope." Todd snaps his fingers irritably.
Todd exhales the breath he was holding. "Needless to say, the people were quite insulted over it. You know how people are; they'll take offense at any wrong or stupid thing someone says, and it spreads around like wildfire -- especially if you're going for things politically. Lavie came and got me so I could try and control the problem before it got out of hand.”
"And how'd you do that?"
"Made him look like an idiot, naturally.”
"Easiest speech I've ever done. Ad-libbed the whole way through. Now Matt won't have to bother resigning from office, though he might not get votes three years from now. He might have to step back from doing any campaigning and formal appearances for a few months now, though, if all goes well."
"If all goes well..." Eyelids half-closing, Diane seems to be trying to put together figurative puzzle pieces in her head. "You didn't do anything, did you?"
"Oh no, no. All I did was merely lock him in his second floor hotel room.”
“There is a window, though, if he feels like jumping."
"How... nice of you."
"I did put the key in the desk drawer ... not that he'll find it."
Diane grunts. "And I suppose you're betting he'll jump?"
"Mhmm... then I'll get two months of paid vacation."
"Umm... Uncle Todd…" you begin hesitantly, biting your lip as you manage to catch your uncle's attention.
"You can't break your arm from falling that high."
Todd shakes his head, giving you a look that says he doesn't believe you, but you still have the bruises on your butt to prove it.
It was a strange, but simple sort of peace. A gentle calmness, like dawn as it slowly changes into day.
You’re all lying contentedly on the crest of the hill you’ve been on for the past hour. Everyone has curiously lapsed into silence, with Uncle Todd's face obscured by his cherished drawing as he uses it to shade himself from the prying eyes of the sun. You feel absolutely content, lying quietly in the grass with a very berry-filled Caterpie nestled atop your head, his face bobbing as sleep begins to take a hold of him. All noise is limited to the bubbly cries of the children as they dash about the nearby playground.
Years from now, you’ll look back and wonder why this day couldn’t have lasted just a bit longer. Even just a few hours… A few more wonderful memories to weave themselves on the tapestry of your own making would be worth the price paid. This was a time when life was as perfect as it ever could be, and your limits were only bound by your sky-wide imagination. Worries were insignificant, hurts could be mended with a single smiley-faced band-aid, and all of your fears would be gone by the next brilliant sunrise.
You have little time left to think, when Stella's loud yell shattering every pane of peace and concentration.
"Look! Look!" she exclaims, pointing to the sky with an unbridled squeal of joy.
Eight pairs of eyes snap to the sky. You squint. “I don’t see anything,” you say flatly.
Stella grunts in frustration, lifting her hand even higher, jabbing the sky with her index finger. “Look! Can’t you see it? It’s an Octillery cloud!”
Todd whistles. “Well what d’you know…”
You crane your head a bit farther, following her finger. “No it’s no---“ Your eyes widen as your gaze finally comes to rest on the oddly shaped, white blur up in the sky. Your eyes widen with amazement and surprise, while Ian rises from his drowsy state, cocking his head in wonder and bewilderment.
It is an Octillery cloud.
“I bet,” Stella says a few forever-moments later, “it tastes like marshmallow.”