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Old February 18th, 2011 (09:02 AM). Edited February 22nd, 2011 by Cutlerine.
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 21
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Chapter Eighteen: One Kester, Two Kester, Red Kester, Blue Kester

“Trick Master is awesome, cool and incredibly handsome,” I read aloud, after extracting the small piece of paper from halfway down my oesophagus. “What kind of a secret code is this?”

“Just write it down on the big piece of paper over there,” came the voice of the Trick Master. “Go on. There’s a pen provided.”

I sighed and, picking up the Sableye, used him as a torch to navigate my way to the paper in question. A quick search turned up a four-colour pen, with only the green cartridge still working; I scrawled the so-called secret code on the wall and watched as a little red line worked its way across the words, as if the sentence were a barcode being scanned. It seemed to do the trick, because there was a buzz and the paper suddenly rolled up, disappearing into a slot in the ceiling. Behind it was a door, and I had to wonder what had been stopping me just ripping a hole in the paper and going through.

I bet there’d have been some sort of penalty if you did that, Puck said. Like, maybe the handle was electrified.

“Would that have hurt me, though? Being an Electric-type?”

No, it wouldn’t, Puck said. Well, not permanently. No scars, anyway.

“Come on, Kester.” Sapphire sounded impatient, so I pushed open the door and emerged, disconcertingly, into a normally-lit room. It felt like someone had poured bleach into my eyes; I squeezed them shut as the light seared my retinas. Those weird flashes of colour you get behind your eyelids danced a merry polychromatic jig in my head, and it took me a full four minutes to work my eyes open again.

“Kester! At last!” Since I had my eyes shut, I couldn’t see her, but Sapphire sounded very exasperated.

“Sapphire? Can someone tell me exactly what the hell is going on in here?”

“That would be my cue,” said the Trick Master. “My name, as you might have gathered, is Javier. I make puzzles in my house, then force people to solve them for my own twisted pleasure.”

“Why would you do something like that?”

“I just told you why. For my own twisted pleasure.”

“You’ve wasted about...” I looked at my watch, realised my eyes were shut and asked Sapphire instead. “How much time of my life has he just wasted?”

“Actually, just about twenty minutes,” Sapphire told me. “It didn’t take that long.”

“Right. Well, that’s still twenty minutes I’m never going to get back again,” I said.

“There is a prize,” Javier offered. “I always give people prizes. Well, I would, if anyone ever came in here. You two would be the first, so I guess you get the pick of the prizes.”

“I demand two prizes,” I snapped. “Unless they’re really, really nice, and one of them would make up for twenty minutes on its own.”

That is such a pathetic thing to say, Puck said in disgust. Honestly. It’s like you want to be punched in the gut. Repeatedly.

“All right,” agreed Javier amiably. “No one else is taking them. You can have two if you take the perishable ones, because they’ll go off soon.”

“Good.”

By this time, I was able to open my eyes, and I could see that we were standing in another wooden room, only this one was slightly less bare: it had a table against one wall, which supported a clutch of computer monitors, all showing images of identical wooden rooms from around the house. Javier was sitting at this table, and Sapphire was lounging nearby.

Javier himself was weird, even by my standards – which had risen sharply after meeting President Stone. He looked like a cross between a punk rocker, a monk and a stage magician. The overall effect might have been impressive had he not been in possession of a noticeable middle-aged paunch. I supposed you didn’t see that in the dark, and just registered his height, purple cape and crazy hair.

“Well, show me these prizes then,” I said, and Javier got up and opened a door next to his table; it turned out to lead into a large, walk-in cupboard that was too full to walk into.

“Whoa,” I said, staring in. “That’s a lot of prizes.”

There were all kinds of things in that cupboard, from brightly-coloured notepaper to Poké Balls; the one thing they all had in common, however, was their number: lots. Rivers of round blue sweets ran past mountains of horseshoe magnets; vast heaps of smoky pink orbs sat atop mounds of rocks; a hundred bottles of green fluid rubbed shoulders with a great stack of boxed TMs, colour-coded to show the type of the move they contained.

“Yes,” agreed Javier. “Look, if you wouldn’t mind, would you take some of the Rare Candies off my hands? They’ve almost reached their Best Before date.”

I picked up one of the blue-wrapped sweets. They were about the size of the end joint of my thumb, and unexpectedly heavy.

“What are they?” I asked.

“Eating it instantly gives a boost to a Pokémon’s power, raising it one level,” Sapphire said. “This number of them is probably worth about... 125 million dollars.”

I raised my eyebrows and whistled.

“That’s a lot.”

“You’re telling me,” Javier said. “I was the one who had to buy them all. Here, boy, you have two, since you wanted two prizes.”

This is a very good deal, Puck said. Rare Candies are... well, they aren’t called ‘Rare’ for nothing. Plus, they’ll give us a much-needed strength boost. You realise we’re only about Level 13 right now?

“I was sold at the ‘rare’ bit,” I muttered, and picked up another Candy. I pocketed both for later – I wasn’t going to reveal my strange part-Rotom nature to Javier – and turned to Sapphire. “What are you getting? Another Rare Candy?”

“No,” said Sapphire. “It’s better to train Pokémon without them. That way their battle instinct doesn’t dull.”

Since I didn’t have one of those to begin with, I was still fairly comfortable with keeping my two Candies.

“I think I’ll take...”

“Hurry up,” said Javier, lighting a cigarette. “You said you were in a hurry.”

“That was before you told me what the prizes were,” Sapphire snapped. “Shut up and let me choose.”

The Trick Master raised his hands in defeat and went off back to his desk to smoke his cigarette.

“A Magnet, maybe?” muttered Sapphire. “That would be good for you...”

“A magnet? We could get one of them anywhere,” I said. “And how would that be good for me?”

“Magnets raise the power of Electric-type moves if you hold them,” Sapphire replied. “It’s a physics thing – you know, you must have learnt it at school.”

“Haven’t done Physics since I was thirteen,” I told her.

“Whatever. Just know that they do.” Sapphire pulled out one of the TMs and read the back of the box aloud. “Taunt. Guaranteed to drive the opponent into a rage. Warning: not a guarantee.” She put it back. “I don’t think we want that.”

“Are there any good Electric ones?” I asked hopefully.

“No. They’re all Taunt, which neither you, Toro nor Rono can learn.”

“Have you tried?”

“No, they just don’t work.”

Yeah, TMs are weird like that, Puck said. Like, in Johto they make these Ice Punch TMs, and you can teach them to Wooper. Which is weird, because Wooper don’t have any hands.

“Just hurry up, Sapphire,” I said. “I’d like to get out of here, if that’s OK.”

“Stop whining,” Sapphire said, still with her head buried in the cupboard. “This is an important decision.”

“It isn’t that important,” called Javier from his desk. I glanced over and saw that somehow he had become completely enshrouded in cigarette smoke. This was odd, because there really wasn’t enough smoke for that to happen. “It’s just a few old prizes.”

“Some of them are quite good!” Sapphire protested. “Now be quiet and let me choose.”

“Whatever, kid.”

Javier made a dismissive gesture, put his feet up on the desk and vanished into another cloud of smoke.

“Hey, what’s this?” Sapphire asked, pulling out a strange, dark grey Poké Ball, with two lighter grey bands on the top half; it was wrinkled and puckered where the button ought to have been, as if it were made of skin rather than metal. Something about it sent a shiver down my spine.

Apologies, said Puck. That was my shiver again. Man, that is one creepy ball.

Javier came over, and seemed almost to have a heart attack.

“What the – that, um, that’s not meant to be in there!” he cried, snatching it off her and thrusting it into his pocket. “That’s... not a prize. You wouldn’t want it anyway.”

“What is it?” Sapphire demanded to know.

“A special type of Poké Ball made a long time ago, by someone who should have been left alone,” Javier replied darkly. “Forget about it. Take a prize and go.”

“OK,” said Sapphire. “What’s that?”

She pointed into the back of the cupboard, at some unseen reward, and as Javier leaned forwards to see what she was pointing at, she slipped one hand into the pocket of his cape and grabbed the ball.

Never wear a cloak that loose, Puck said wisely, as the ball vanished into Sapphire’s own pocket. It’s damn easy to pickpocket.

“Did she—?”

Yes, but don’t worry. Javier hasn’t noticed.

“It’s... oh, it’s a toy Dustox,” he said. “You want it? Because I don’t. It’s terrifying.”

“OK,” said Sapphire, “I’ll take it.”

She withdrew from the cupboard with the scariest stuffed toy I’d ever seen: a vaguely egg-shaped purple body with broad, stiff green wings, and crazed, staring compound eyes that surmounted a creepy little grin. All I could think was that I was glad it wasn’t life-sized.

“Thanks,” said Sapphire sunnily. “Goodbye, Javier.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Bye.”

“Good to see you,” Javier replied. “Enjoy your prizes.”

He opened a door for us, and, much to my surprise, I could see Route 110 through the aperture.

“This is the front room?” I asked.

“Yes,” replied Javier. “I turned the light off when you guys came through. Now, get out.”

Thus, we were swiftly and somewhat rudely ejected from Javier’s house – and not, in my opinion, a moment too soon.

---

“Fabien.”

“Blake?”

“Why ain’t they ’ere?”

This, Fabien had to admit, was something that had been preying on his mind too. It was now half past six and the sky was aflame with the first tinges of sunset. The waters of the Bay were afire with the orange light of evening, and a group of Volbeat had ventured out high above them, flashing their lights in rehearsal for their performance to the Illumise that night. It was all very picturesque, but there was one large problem with it: the distinct lack of superpowered kids and their feisty accomplices.

They had come across someone earlier, but after jumping out at them, they had discovered it was only a young Trainer, aged eleven or so. There had been some unpleasantness, and, as Blake refused to shoot the child, Goishi had had to be enlisted to thrash the kid in a battle. This was easily accomplished, the child having only a Treecko and some foreign Grass-type with too many ‘e’s in its name, but though Fabien had the satisfaction of watching the kid run off in tears, they still weren’t any closer to encountering the Rotom-boy.

“I don’t know,” he said now to Blake. “They should be. Unless,” he said, an idea coming to him, “unless they stopped in that house. In which case, they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.”

There was a long pause, which took them through to seven o’clock.

“They ain’t comin’, are they?” Blake said.

“They must be!” cried Fabien. “Unless they went past us!”

All at once, there was a short, sharp screech from Goishi: from his lofty vantage point, he had spotted someone coming.

“That’ll be them,” said Fabien, relieved. “I’ll just check.”

He stuck his head cautiously out of hiding, and glanced down the path. Yes: there was the boy, hands in pockets, strolling casually (so casually it might well have been called sauntering) up the path towards them. He was unaccompanied, but that was fine; though it would have been nice to catch the Aqua girl in the blue coat as well, the Rotom-boy was the main objective.

Fabien turned around and gave Blake a thumbs-up.

“It’s him,” he whispered. “Get ready with your gun!”

Blake raised it.

“Got it.”

“Right.”

The ambush went perfectly. The Rotom-boy walked past, the three Magmas jumped out, and Blake whacked him in the back of the head with his gun. He never even saw them before he hit the floor, unconscious.

---

“All right,” I said, drawing myself up to my full height, “go back in there and give that ball back to Javier.”

Sapphire looked distinctly guilty, which was certainly unusual.

“I probably shouldn’t have taken it, should I?” she said.

“Definitely not!” I cried, gesticulating ferociously. “Give it back!”

“It was an impulse,” she said.

“Stop making excuses, and give it back!”

Sapphire turned towards Javier’s door, dragging her feet, and knocked cautiously. There was, however, no reply. She tried to open the door, but it was stuck fast.

“I don’t think we can go back,” she said.

“Put it through a window?” I suggested.

We looked up. All of the windows were ten feet or more off the ground, and were reinforced by a mesh of iron bars. There was no way we could have got anything through them.

“I guess I’ll have to keep it,” Sapphire said reluctantly. “I mean, I don’t have a choice, right?”

Ooh! Some-one’s trying to justify their actions! said Puck.

“I suppose you don’t,” I agreed. “Fine. Shall we get going? I’d rather not camp right outside that place.”

We started walking down the path again, which ran off to the northeast from Javier’s house, sticking out into the Bay of Cadavers; from my somewhat hazy memory of primary school geography, I thought it curved slowly back to the north, whereupon the land ended, and a bridge connected the path to the area just south of Mauville.

The Sableye was riding on my shoulder, clinging to me as if he suspected I might throw him into the sea; the only other Pokémon about was Toro, keeping pace with Sapphire by her side. Since sunset was approaching, there were a few stray Taillow flitting by overhead, catching the evening insects – but for the most part, it seemed we were alone.

Sapphire looked at the Dustox doll she was carrying with disgust.

“Why did I choose this again?” she asked. I shrugged.

“You were desperate, I suppose.”

Suddenly, the Sableye gave a small squeak and reached one claw timidly out towards the toy; noting his interest, Sapphire gave it to him with relief.

“Well, that’s got rid of that,” she said. Perhaps the Sableye thought that that was a rebuke, because he immediately crouched down and hugged his new toy tightly to himself, rocking back and forth slightly. If he’d been human, I had no doubts that he’d be repeating the words ‘I’m in my happy place’ over and over to himself.

Is that meant to be a joke? asked Puck disapprovingly. Low self-esteem is a real problem, you know. For Sableye, as well as for humans.

“He needs a name,” I said, ignoring him. “The Sableye, I mean.”

“Yes,” agreed Sapphire, waving midges away from her face. “Something that might give him a – a confidence boost.”

With some difficulty, I looked at the Pokémon on my shoulder. Hunched over and shivering, he definitely looked in need of confidence.

“Yeah. How about... Supereye?”

Puck and Sapphire snorted simultaneously, with exactly the same amount of derision.

Names not your strong suit? asked Puck innocently.

“That’s terrible,” said Sapphire, more bluntly. “No. Name him after someone powerful. Like... Genghis Khan.”

“Why is he the first person you thought of? Couldn’t it be someone a bit... nicer?”

“Yes, if you can think of one.”

I thought, and thought, and despite Puck’s many, varied and ridiculous suggestions, failed to come up with anyone.

“It’s still a stupid name,” I said defensively.

“Fine,” replied Sapphire. “What about a god’s name? Zeus, or something.”

Oh, Greek. How boring. Let’s mix it up and go Egyptian. We’ve got Horus, Ra, Set, Thoth, Anubis, Amun, Sobek, Khonsu... I could go on. Believe me.

“How about Khonsu?” I suggested.

Sapphire raised her eyebrows. “Khonsu? Who’s that?”

Moon god. Sort of. They changed who he was a bit over the centuries, but basically he’s a moon god.

“An Egyptian moon god,” I said.

“Puck’s idea, right?”

“Damn it! How do you know these things?”

“I seriously doubt you could even find Egypt on a map, Kester, let alone name an obscure god like that.” Sapphire made a pfft noise, and a dismissive gesture to go with it. “It’s better than Zeus, but not good enough. Keep thinking, Puck.”

Will do.

“He says he will.”

We walked on a little further in silence, then Sapphire asked a question.

“Are you going to eat those Rare Candies, then?”

I looked at them in surprise. I’d forgotten all about the blue sweets.

“Yeah, I guess.” I unwrapped one and examined it; beneath the wrapper, it was a pale pinkish-purple that reminded me of a cassis cake I’d once seen.

Revolting stuff, cassis cake, said Puck. I can’t eat it myself, since it isn’t electricity, but... it looks really, really nasty. Rare Candies, on the other hand, just taste of sugar and artificial colourings. So eat up, and get ready for the recoil.

I paused, the sweet halfway to my lips.

“What recoil?”

Just eat it. It isn’t bad.

I popped the Rare Candy into my mouth, and had to agree with Puck about the flavour: it was mostly just generically sweet. It dissolved on my tongue in about ten seconds, and as soon as it was gone I felt my mouth light up as if I’d taken a bite out of a hot coal.

Yeeooowch!” I shrieked, clutching at my lips. “Aaagh! What the – aaagh!”

Full of energy, Puck remarked. Delicious, fiery energy. Similar to kerosene.

“What’s going on?” asked Sapphire, but I was too busy trying to extract my mouth from my face to answer; it felt like someone had ground chilli seeds into my lips, and then set fire to my tongue.

Then, all at once, the sensation passed, and I was left on my knees in the dirt, struggling for breath and with a strange sense that my entire body was vibrating.

“Oh. My. God,” I breathed, getting slowly to my feet. “That was horrible.”

“Do you feel stronger?” asked Sapphire curiously.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Where’s the Sableye?”

He was no longer on my shoulder, having been knocked loose by my flailings; Sapphire held up his Poké Ball.

“He got scared and crawled back in,” she said.

“OK.” I put one hand over my mouth, just to make sure it was still in one piece, then started walking again. “I don’t want to eat the other one. Would Toro like it?” I held it out, and the Combusken’s eyes lit up – but Sapphire held her back.

“No,” she said firmly. “I don’t use Rare Candies. I told you that already.”

“Fine, whatever.” I was about to throw the second Rare Candy away into the trees, but Sapphire stayed my hand.

“That’s rare,” she said. “And you wanted it. Eat it, and it’ll be over.”

“I don’t want to!”

“You need to!”

She’s right, said Puck. Eat! Eat! Eat!

With people urging me both inside and out, I had little choice: I unwrapped the second Rare Candy and swallowed it.

After the spluttering subsided, Sapphire patted me condescendingly on the back.

“There,” she said, “that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

I glared at her from the floor.

“Yes, it was,” I replied, and climbed back to my feet. “Ugh. Right. Do we keep going?”

Sapphire checked the time on her mobile phone.

“It’s six-thirty,” she said. “I suppose this is as good a time as any to stop. Let’s get off the path, then. Some people like to travel by night.”

“Who’d want to do that?” I asked, following her into the trees.

“Ghost or Dark users,” Sapphire replied. “Those types like the night. Or people trying to get an Umbreon, I suppose.”

A few moments later, she stopped.

“Here,” she said.

We were only twenty metres from the path, but it seemed like we were miles away from any sort of civilisation; in the imperfect light of sunset, the trees and their shadows conspired to form an impenetrable wall of nature around us, masking the trail completely.

“Kester, help clear the area,” Sapphire ordered. I didn’t really feel like complaining, so I moved most of the sticks and stones in our little clearing away into the forest. As I worked, Sapphire did battle with a recalcitrant tent that was trying its best to stay folded up and in her bag, and Toro kindled flames in the centre of the cleared area. In about ten minutes, the area was as homely as it was ever going to be, and Sapphire and I were sitting opposite each other across the fire, Toro back in her ball like the other Pokémon.

“Is there anything to eat?” I asked. Sapphire nodded and produced a loaf of bread in a sealed bag, along with some dried meat and a pair of apples; I was beginning to get seriously impressed with the capacity of her bag. “How do you hold all that stuff in there?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” she replied. “But the physics seems to work as long as I don’t question it.”

“Fair enough.”

Rincewind probably knows, suggested Puck, but, as ever, I ignored him.

I munched happily for a while. I wasn’t even aware of it when it happened; it was completely involuntary. The first I knew of it was when Sapphire leaped to her feet and swore.

“What is it?” I looked up, alarmed.

“Which one of you is real?” Sapphire demanded to know.

I blinked. This was not the response I had expected, nor indeed was it one that I knew how to answer.

“What are you talking about?” I asked – and that was when I noticed that I was speaking in stereo: it sounded like my words were coming out of two mouths rather than one. I looked to my left, and I looked back at me. “Wah!”

I jumped up, startled, and to my left, the duplicate did the same.

“Who the hell are you?” we both demanded of each other, followed swiftly by a simultaneous: “Stop copying me!”

“Kester – Kesters – shut up!” cried Sapphire. Both of us glanced at her and fell silent. “I’ve got a feeling I know what’s happened,” she said.

“Tell me,” I and the other Kester said. Then I glared at him, and he glared back at me. “Stop it.”

“Puck,” said Sapphire, “does Rotom learn Double Team naturally?”

Yes indeedy, he said. Ugh. Did I actually just say that? Could you pretend I just said ‘Yes’ without the... the other word, please?

“Yes,” said my duplicate and I.

“What sort of level?”

Fifteen or thereabouts, Puck said. Which... is Kester’s current level, after those two Rare Candies.

My clone and I relayed this information to Sapphire, and asked what Double Team was, precisely.

“It’s a move that creates illusory copies of the user,” she replied. “To fool opponents. Usually, though, the illusions aren’t quite so... talkative.”

“Not my fault,” I said huffily. “I didn’t even know I was using it.”

“I know,” Sapphire said. “Which is a problem. Because if you can’t control—”

There was a faint pop and a third Kester appeared, this time to my right. Both me and the first clone looked at him, and he stared back.

“Sapphire, how do I stop?” we asked desperately. “This is really, really weird!”

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “Puck? Any ideas?”

I think Kester just needs some practice, he replied. I had a friend who did this once – a Yanma. He fixed it eventually by learning the move properly.

“Puck says I need to practise the move,” we all said. “To get it under control.”

“OK.” Sapphire looked from me to the other Kesters. “First, though... which one of you is real?”

“I am!” we all cried simultaneously, stepping forwards and pointing at ourselves.

Sapphire stared at us, taken aback. There was a pop, and another one appeared.

“Oh, no,” we said, and put our heads in our hands.

---

Fabien and Blake regarded their captives with expressions of deep, deep thought.

“Something’s wrong,” said Fabien.

“I think you migh’ be righ’,” agreed Blake.

There was now a pile of seven Rotom-boys, all identical, in the undergrowth at their ambush point, and as Fabien glanced to the southwest, he saw another one coming up the path towards them.

“Oh God,” he groaned. “Here he comes again! Get back in hiding – he might be the real one!”

Once again, the Magmas concealed themselves amongst the trees. Once again, the boy walked past them without a second glance. Once again, they hit him over the head and dragged him into the bushes.

“D’you think we’ve go’ the real one ’ere somewhere?” wondered Blake, poking the latest addition to their collection with his shoe.

“I don’t know!” cried Fabien in an anguished wail. “I just don’t know, all right?”

“Eek,” said Goishi wearily, motioning down the trail. “Ee-e-e-EEK.”

Fabien followed his gesture and sank to his knees, feeling like his head might burst.

“Dear God, why?” he demanded of the sky. “Why? Why are there so many?”

“Fabien?” Blake’s voice was full of concern. “You all righ’?”

The other Magma stared stonily at the clouds for a moment, then got to his feet, his energy melting away into resignation.

“Fine,” he said wearily. “Just – action stations, everyone. He might be the real one.”

Footsteps. Thump. Drag. Nine Rotom-boys now, and another one coming up the path.

---

“Kester! Try harder!” shouted Sapphire.

“I’m trying!” we cried back, and the noise was deafening; if you’ve ever heard twenty anguished teenagers desperately trying to stop themselves dividing into twenty more, you’ll know the sort of volume we’d reached by then.

For the umpteenth time, I closed my eyes and concentrated on making the clones disappear; once again, all that happened was a quiet pop as yet another doppelgänger sprang into existence.

“For God’s sake!” Sapphire was very agitated now, as well she might be: collectively, the Kesters had trampled the fire out, squashed her tent and come precious close to crushing her.

There is something weird about this, noted Puck. Double Team clones are made of light, so you really shouldn’t be able to touch them like this. Maybe it’s because we’re made of plasma trapped inside meat, but your clones really are unusually solid.

“I don’t care about your speculation, Puck!” I hissed through gritted teeth, but I might as well have shouted it, since the other Kesters said it too.

Pop!

“Damn it! Aren’t there enough of you?”

In my wild frustration, I punched one of the clones in the face, and immediately found a fist crashing into my own nose. All over the clearing, fists hit duplicated faces, and suddenly the whole lot of us were lying on the floor, rubbing our noses.

This is brilliant, laughed Puck. I wish someone was filming this. Or at the very least writing it down for posterity and putting it on the Internet.

“What the hell was that?” asked Sapphire, as we climbed to our feet – joined by yet another new copy of me.

“Doesn’t matter.” We sighed, and it was like a gale had rushed through the clearing: together, our breath scattered the ashes of the fire and almost blew Sapphire’s hat off her head.

“Kester, I’m not waiting any longer,” she snapped. “I’m recalling you.”

There was a flash of red light – and then I was mercifully, blessedly alone.

---

One of the Kesters, from near the middle, dissolved into red light and disappeared. Sapphire looked around, waiting for the other Double Team clones to vanish, but they didn’t.

“Oh no,” she moaned in horror. “Please, just go away!”

As one, the Kesters looked at her, then filed off amongst the trees, heading for the path. Sapphire stared after them, surprised.

“Stop!” she ordered.

They did, halting dead.

A grin spread slowly across Sapphire’s face. Of course! They were illusions, they did whatever the Pokémon they’d spawned from did – and, by extension, whatever the Trainer ordered!

“Go away,” she said. “Go far, far away and never come back.”

The Kesters – who could, by now, have formed an effective army for a small nation – gave her a salute and walked away. Within moments, she was alone, and Sapphire sat down with the contented sigh of one who has solved a tricky problem, and knows they have solved it well.

There was still one thing troubling her, though, and it was the same issue that had occurred to Puck: namely, how was it that the Double Team clones seemed to be so solid, when they ought to be made of light?

“I’ll let Kester out,” she decided, “so I can ask Puck.”

Kester appeared in a flash of blue light, looking haunted.

“Are they gone?” he demanded.

Sapphire nodded.

“Yes.”

Kester sighed in relief, and smiled broadly.

“Thank God.”

Pop!
__________________

For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.