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Old July 22nd, 2011 (02:41 PM). Edited July 23rd, 2011 by Cutlerine.
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 21
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Posts: 1,030
And I return. I'm sorry for taking so long; first I was away, then I was busy with entries for some of the G8 competitions.


Chapter Sixty-Five: The Alan Sugar Treatment


Kester!”

There was a hand shaking my shoulder; that, I thought, was really not conducive to a good sleep, and anyway there was a big bruise there and it was hurting...

Kester! Wake up!”

Oh. The person wanted me to wake up. How rude.

That,” I murmured, sitting up stiffly and rubbing my eyes, “sounds very familiar in a really unwelcome way.”

That was when I heard a weird, bubbling giggle, and and I knew that we were probably in quite a lot of trouble right now. So I forced my eyes open, looked past Sapphire and saw that rising out of the water behind her was something like a flying saucer.

I blinked. No, not a flying saucer, more a spaceship crossed with a jellyfish, with a touch of blimp. It was blue, with wide, protruding white bands around the middle, and I thought I could see tentacles dangling from its underside.

Blooblooblupblooblup,” it said, though it didn't seem to have a mouth.

Kester, zap it,” Sapphire said urgently. “Quickly, before it realises what we are.”

What is it?”

It doesn't matter, just zap it!”

I shot a Charge Beam at the jelly-blimp, and it exploded with a high-pitched whine into a shower of water drops that pattered harmlessly into the sea.

Eh?” I stared at the spot where it had been. “Was that it?”

No, replied Puck grimly. You just made him angry.

What? Puck, what do you mean?”

What is it?” Sapphire asked. “It is gone, right?”

No,” replied Felicity quietly. “I can feel it – him. He's a Ghost.”

As soon as she said it, I could too: a dark, cold presence all around us, running through the water and coagulating in lumps—

He's reforming, Puck said anxiously. He won't be so unprepared this time; he's making more than one projection.

What exactly is this thing we're dealing with?” I asked, and then ten of the jelly-blimps rose out of the ocean, all around us.

Duncan braked hard with a surprised, electronic hiss; the three of us fell over and I almost went in the sea. A nest of furious tentacles sprang up out of the water and whipped at the jelly-blimps, but they passed through them; Duncan made a nervous sort of noise and hovered anxiously, acutely aware of his inability to harm whatever these monsters were.

Kester!”

I didn't need telling: I was already back on my feet, and dispensed with two of the blobby monsters with well-placed bolts of lightning; beside me, Felicity hurled something dark at another, and it vanished instantly, without screaming or popping. I would have asked what she'd just done, but blue, lace-edged tentacles were snaking out of the water and latching around my neck—

Metal Claw!”

Something big growled behind me, and the next thing I knew the back of my neck was bleeding and the tentacles lay twitching on Duncan's back. I staggered back a step, tripped heavily over a Lairon and fell headfirst into the sea.

Instantly, the noise and commotion above the water was eclipsed by silence; I struck out for the surface, trying hard not to breathe in and thinking about how glad I was that I didn't die by being strangled by lace.

Yeah, that's a fairly pathetic way to go, Puck agreed. Like drowning in nail polish. Although if you died like that, you'd probably be pretty well preserved. Shiny too.

I broke the surface and gulped in air; blinking back water, I saw Rono lashing out at one of the jelly-blimps and making little progress, and Felicity calmly executing another with a second black lump. Beneath them, I could see Duncan's eyes, wide with fright. I think he knew what we were facing, and feared them.

Him, Puck corrected. There's just one of him. He's making a lot of projections, though.

What the hell is—?”

I didn't get a chance to finish; perceiving my plight and correctly assuming I was a good defence against the jelly-blimps, Duncan had wrapped a tentacle around my waist, making certain not to make skin contact, and lifted me high into the air.

My sudden ascent surprised everyone, not least me: Sapphire, Rono and Felicity looked up in surprise, as did the remaining jelly-blimps. Collectively, they decided I posed the greatest threat, and flew up to attack; I saw dark fires gathering in their tiny, piggy eyes, and realised that they were all preparing Ghost attacks, and that when they hit me—

Correct, Puck said. You will die. You should make 'things that will kill me' your specialist subject on Mastermind; you're really good at spotting them. Now destroy these projections!

Charge Beams burned forth from both of my hands and three of the spherical spectres detonated with a collective wail; a fourth dematerialised under the impact of one of Felicity's dark blobs.

Nice shooting, Puck observed. As I said to Phil Spector. Oh, that joke was in appallingly bad taste. I'd apologise, only I don't care.

The last two jelly-blimps loosed dark clouds of some blue-black gas, like aerial ink; Felicity cried out, and Duncan yanked me down and out of the way, back under the water.

Perceptive, noted Puck. This guy's strong; just one of his Hexes would have killed you, dead as John Cleese's parrot.

Glub,” was my reply. My lungs and the sea were currently engaged in a rather brutal battle, and so I was not quite capable of making as coherent an answer as either of us would have liked.

Duncan thrust me out of the water again, and I half-spat, half-vomited a spray of saltwater over his side; my head made contact with the tentacled underside of one of the jelly-blimps, and instinctively I sent sparks through it. Needless to say, it exploded.

I was a little preoccupied at the time, what with almost being drowned and all, but I’m told that the remaining jelly-blimp looked around, then made an evil little bubbling sound before melting back into the sea. For a long moment, there was complete silence save for the swash of the waves and the gentle sound of Duncan moving steadily on, and then I vomited up another eighty gallons of seawater, and the Tentacruel dropped me in disgust on his back.

Will – gasp – someone – pant – please tell me – huff – what the hell is going on here?” I moaned, staring up at the sky and trying to ignore the way my ribs hurt.

A Jellicent,” Sapphire replied. “I think. I’m not sure.”

She's right, Puck said. Probably sent by Zero, because it's a Pokémon from northern waters, near Unova and the UK. There shouldn't be one here.

It's Ghost/Water,” Sapphire went on. “Or it was. It's gone now.”

No, he isn't! cried Puck, alarmed. Kester, you can feel it, right?

Yeah,” I breathed, and I felt it thrumming in the back of my head, all around me like a wave, a sheet, a rolling black tide...

Snap out of it! Sit up!

With a colossal effort, I drew myself into a sitting position.

It's not gone,” I told Sapphire. “It's still here. But it's not – not chasing us...”

He can't move, Puck said. He exists as an area of ocean, about a cubic mile. Once Duncan gets out of his body, we'll be fine.

We must still be within his penumbra,” Sapphire said. “This is bad.”

It's worse than bad, Puck said. Oh, no. No no no no no. Not now...

What is it?”

Look right.

I did, and I saw Rono whining and nudging Felicity with his nose; she was curled up into a tight ball, trembling, with her hands clasped tightly over the crown of her head.

Oh no,” I breathed. “Sapphire, I think we might have two Ghosts to deal with...”

There was a soft bubbly giggle, and Duncan doubled his pace, unbalancing us all; the wind now raced past us so much that I started to feel cold, even under the blazing summer sun.

Behind us, the Tentacruel's wake twisted up into globes of water, the foam gathering into white bands, and a small army of jelly-blimps – the Jellicent's projections – formed like strange, malicious fruits. They bobbed in unison, reminding me incongruously of line-dancing penguins – Sorry, Kester, but when have you ever seen line-dancing penguins? - and then started to glide towards us, lace-fringed tentacles trailing behind them.

It hurts,” whispered Felicity. “She's coming...”

Hang in there,” I said, but I could feel the sharp, agonising spike of Skuld's presence beginning to press against my mind. “Push her back! Fight her!”

Rono was pacing nervously around; he didn't like being on the water at the best of times, but he must have sensed we were in quite a bit of danger. Sapphire stroked his iron head, trying to calm him, but it didn't seem to be working.

Meanwhile, I lined up my arm with my eyes and fired off a precision Charge Beam, sniping one of the advancing projections and hitting it square between the eyes. It burst with such violence that the two either side of it exploded too.

It's a Newton's Cradle that I can finally relate to, Puck said, fascinated. The laws of physics rock when combined with explosions! Wooo, phsyics!

Shut – ow!”

I turned around sharply, and saw that two icy spikes had forced themselves out of Felicity's skull, standing out sharp and hard. Rono snarled and made to leap at her, but Sapphire called him back.

No!” she cried. “Rono, don't attack her!”

You can do it, Felicity, said Puck. Fight Skuld! Row, row, fight the power!

Then he started something that resembled opera singing, and I had to tune him out or lose my concentration.

I swung around again to face the Jellicent's projections; they had been gaining on us, but now they were slowing, uncertain. The Pokémon they stood for must have felt Skuld's presence too, I realised – and however strong it was, I was willing to bet that the Froslass was stronger. I was no Trainer, but even I could see that she was the most powerful Pokémon I'd ever encountered.

Shoot!” cried Sapphire, and I shot off another Charge Beam. It went wide, but it kicked up a stream of hot water that hit a projection and seemed to mildly annoy it, which was better than nothing.

Mild annoyance is not what we're after right now, Puck said. I’m mildly annoying. You need to be deadly. I'll explain the difference: mildly annoying involves pointless trivia-based jokes, and deadly involves blasting things. Now get blasting.

I Charge Beamed another projection, but there were three more to take its place; there must have been at least fifty by now.

Felicity screamed something, and then I heard a wham followed immediately by a crunch from behind me; I whirled, almost fell over and saw that Felicity was sprawled over one of Duncan's red orbs, with Rono standing over her.

What the—?”

She asked to be incapacitated,” Sapphire said shakily, “so Rono Iron Headed her.”

Super-effective against Ice, and he caught Skuld at her weakest point, Puck said. Yeah, she's probably incapacitated. If not dead. Either one's good.

She'd better not be dead,” I muttered, and, turning around, took out another five Jellicent. The power of my Charge Beams had gone up.

Oh yeah, I forgot, Puck said; if he'd had a face, I suspect he would have been grinning. Kester and Felicity, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S

Cut it out! Are you six or something?”

Another group of projections exploded, but this time they returned fire: three of them banded together and a blast of water shot out from the cluster, crossing the space between us in a split second. I threw myself flat on the floor, swearing violently, and the Hydro Pump smashed into Rono.

Sapphire shrieked something unprintable, and Rono and his limbs vanished in a flash of red light.

Nice touch there, with the limbs, Puck said admiringly. I mean, you hint that they're detached without outright saying it. Classy.

You've just ruined the line.

Oops. Sorry. It was the most unapologetic apology I'd ever heard.

Kester!” shouted Sapphire. “Stop them now! None of my Pokémon stand a chance!”

Duncan!” I yelled, getting to my feet and then dropping back down to avoid another Hydro Pump. “Go faster!”

That strange electronic hiss sounded again and the red orbs lit up momentarily; it was as if the Tentacruel was trying to ask me what I thought he was trying to do.

Nasty, said Puck. He must have hung around with a bad crowd to learn that sort of language.

What did he say?

I've no idea, he replied. I don't speak their language. By the way, you might want to duck and shoot.

I looked over at the projections, yelped and ducked; they were right behind us, and they were expelling a dark miasma from their eyes. The Hex – I think that was the name of the move – passed overhead, and I heard Sapphire cry out in pain.

That's the 'duck' part done, Puck said helpfully. Now try 'the shoot' bit.

Two more Charge Beams left my hands and burst a few projections; the remaining ones burbled a little and flung themselves forwards. Dark eyes met mine and then exploded into water droplets.

I can do this,” I said. “I can do this!”

Sure you can, Puck replied, and I’m Gwen Stefani.

I hit a central projection with a full-power Charge Beam; it was like hitting a prime target in one of those computer games where you burst adjacent blocks of the same colour, and about ten of them turned to vapour simultaneously. The others paused, and I felt the vast consciousness of the Jellicent stir uneasily; he must have realised he was wasting a lot of energy on rather insignificant targets, and abruptly he gave up, his remaining projections fading away into the waves.

Oh. What do you know, you can do it. I guess I’m Gwen Stefani then. Sigh. Life just took a turn for the worse.

It's done,” I said. “Oh, God, I ache.”

I turned around and stopped suddenly.

Sapphire,” I said, trying to keep my voice level, “what's up with your arm?”

---


Where the devil has he got to?” Mister Tanyan asked of no one in particular, staring out of his window. Behind him, Dahlia coughed.

Mister Tanyan?” she asked. Er, what am I supposed to do now?”

What? Oh, hello. I forgot you were here.” Mister Tanyan turned around, and moved his chair so that he could keep putting his foot on it. The sole of his boot never left the cushion; it was quite a remarkable achievement. Well, Miss...He paused.Er, what's your name again?”

Dahlia.”

Right.” Tanyan thought for a bit, and swayed a little. “Look, did you have any leads?”

Sorry,” said Dahlia, flashing a brilliant smile, “I don't speak Hoennian?”

Right. Sorry. Did you have any leads?”

I thought that Ruby and Birch were probably working for themselves, trying to thwart both Teams,” Dahlia told him.They weren't affiliated with the Aquas at all. They'd show up whenever the next big Team event happened.”

But when the Aquas stealed—”

It's 'stole', Mister Tanyan,” Dahlia pointed out politely. Sorry. English is full of irregular verbs.”

Stole. Stole. Stoooole. Tanyan rolled the word around his mouth for a while.Hm. Interesting. Right, well, when the Aquas stole the submarine, they were nowhere to be seen.”

I know. It was a really good robbery. No one even knew it was happening.”

Tanyan thought.

I'll put you in contact with one of my researchers,” he said at length. He specialises in spying on the Aquas here in Lilycove. His name is Truman Joyce...

---


Mister President?”

Solomon Stone looked up from his attempt to balance eight kiwi fruits on top of each other, and beheld his secretary, peering around the door.

Hello there,” he said genially. “What is it?”

It's your son, sir,” the secretary replied. “He says you asked to see him?”

Stone thought for a moment. Had he done that? He was having some difficulty remembering anything from before the past hour, when he'd decided to build his kiwi tower and ordered his secretary to steal all the kiwis from the executive fruit bowls. He'd been so focused that he seemed to have emptied his memory.

Oh yes,” he said at last. “I did, didn't I? Send him in, send him in.”

The secretary withdrew, and a moment later the tall, silver-haired figure of Steven Stone glided in. He moved like a panther on castors: silent, smooth and rather dangerous, as if at any moment he might lunge for his father's throat. Stone blinked and accidentally demolished his tower.

There was never any father and son so different as Steven and Solomon Stone: the former undoubtedly one of the most attractive men of modern Hoenn; the latter, indisputably the ugliest. The movers and shakers of Hoennian society whispered amongst themselves that Steven's mother must have possessed beauty on par with the angels in order to produce such a face as his when diluted with Solomon's ugliness. In fact, some even ventured to say her looks were the reason no one knew who she was: she must have been so good-looking, so unimaginably attractive, that she had died of an overdose of beauty.

What is it, father?” asked Steven. “I'm a busy man now, you know.”

Solomon Stone nodded and smiled; he knew.

Um,” he said. “It's about that stuff we sent over to Mossdeep.”

What stuff – actually, might I ask what on earth you're doing?”

Stone looked at his (new) desk, and the kiwi fruits scattered over it. Then he looked at each of his hands, which each held another kiwi.

I'm building a tower of kiwi fruits,” he said, as if that were the most obvious thing in the world. “Isn't it obvious?”

Steven sighed and stared upwards for a moment, then returned his gaze to his father.

If you say so, father,” he said. “Now, what is this about the 'stuff we sent over to Mossdeep'?”

Oh. Well, it's this new fuel mixture for the rockets at the space centre,” replied President Stone.

What about it?” asked Steven, in the voice of one who is both trying to squeeze blood from a stone and is fully cognisant of the fact that it isn't going to happen.

I want you to deliver it.”

Steven blinked.

You said that you had sent it over.”

Well, we haven't. That's the problem with it.” Stone smiled. Plain speaking, he thought; that was the way to do things. He had no idea why other people complicated things so much.

Get a researcher to send it over, father,” retorted Steven. “As I said, I’m a busy man. I have my own interests to pursue.”

I knew you'd react like this,” said President Stone happily; the cheerful tone threw Steven somewhat.

What?”

Well, I knew you'd react like this, so I thought I’d give you this if you did.” President Stone reached into the drawer of his desk and brought something out.

Steven stared.

A colander?”

Oh.” Stone inspected the object. It was indeed a colander. “No, not that. I mean this.”

He replaced the colander and withdrew a chunk of black, worn stone. Steven narrowed his eyes and leaned forwards.

That,” he pronounced, “is old. Very old. What is it?”

One of my friends in Canada got it for me,” President Stone replied. “It's a piece of the earth's original crust. Solidified magma, over 4.3 billion years old.”

Steven started.

There have only ever been two deposits of that found,” he said breathlessly. “It's quite possibly the rarest rock on the planet...”

I know,” said Stone cheerfully. “And I know you already have some of this, but I thought I’d get you another bit.”

He brought something else out from under the desk.

Father, that's the colander again.”

Oh yes. So it is. No, this.”

It was an unremarkable orange-red rock, but Steven seized it as if it were gold.

Painite,” he breathed. “The other possible rarest mineral on the planet...” He looked suspiciously into his father's staring, froglike eyes. “What's so important about this that you're willing to bribe me with these rocks to get me to take the fuel?”

This new fuel is very powerful,” Stone said, as if that explained everything. Steven sighed.

Father, I’d like a little more information, if I may...?”

The Teams have been very active recently,” President Stone said, fiddling with a kiwi. “It'd be jolly reassuring to know that there wasn't any chance that, for instance, Team Magma couldn't steal it and use it to try and blow up Mount Chimney again.”

Steven sighed.

That's hardly likely to—”

Ah, you think that!” cried Stone, clenching his fists in order to shake them, and accidentally bursting two kiwi fruits. “But you never know – oh, dear.”

Steven drew a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it over with a resigned air.

Put the kiwi fruits down for a moment and concentrate,” he instructed.

Yes, all right,” agreed Stone. “That's probably a good idea.” He laid the remnants of the kiwis on the desk and carefully wiped his hands. “Look, Steven, you never know what could happen, and you're better protection than any researcher. Please do this. As a favour to your old man?”

Steven looked at him for a long moment, and sighed.

Oh, very well,” he said. “But I would like those two mineral samples up front, if I may.”

Naturally,” replied his father genially. “Here you go.”

Steven received the two stones as if they were simultaneously very valuable (which they were) and very fragile (which they weren't), nodded his goodbye and left the room rather faster than a loving son ought to have left his father. He did like the old man really, but he could be rather trying at times.

Stone waved goodbye, brushed bits of kiwi fruit from his suit front and set about rebuilding his tower. He had a new theory that if he gave it four legs like the Eiffel Tower, he might be able to support it using the fruits' own gravitational pull...

---

Blake and Fabien sat side by side on the sea wall, staring glumly at the waves; Goishi was perched between them, wings folded awkwardly at his sides.

I think that maybe not being able to find Zero has made him even angrier than usual,” Fabien said.

Yeah,” agreed Blake. “'E kind of overreacted, didn't 'e?”

You can say that again.”

'E kind of—”

It's an idiom, nitwit.”

EEEE-eee-eek,” Goishi said.

The group sat and watched for a moment.

Well,” said Blake after a while, “I guess that's it, then.” He swung himself over to the pavement side of the wall, dropped down and started off.

Where are you going?” asked Fabien.

I dunno,” replied Blake, pausing. “First train out of here, I guess, an' see where that takes me.”

What if it takes you to Lavaridge or Plain Rooke?”

Then I leave an' go somewhere else.” Blake turned fully to face Fabien. “Why? You go' a scheme?”

Naturally.” Fabien stood up atop the wall, a striking figure against the bright sky. “Blake, do you recall that I once said we were the main characters?”

Blake sighed.

Yeah, an' I got pretty tired of listenin' to it—”

Well,” said Fabien, leaping down and almost spraining his ankle, “have you ever read a detective novel?”

No.”

Oh.” Fabien thought. “How about a crime movie?”

Yeah, I 'ave. Wha' of it?”

Bear with me. Was there a part where the detective slash cop was suspended from the force?”

Blake pondered.

So there was,” he said, surprised. “'Ow'd you know that?”

It's how these things work.” Fabien looked smug. “And what happens when the detective slash cop caught his guy?”

'E was accepted back into the force!” cried Blake, seeing the point.

Precisely!” said Fabien triumphantly. “So you see, if we were to find Zero – or, since that'll probably be impossible – catch Kester Ruby—”

We'll get our jobs back!”

Don't interrupt, but yes. The boss will see that he was too hasty in firing us, and so he'll hire us again. As we are the main characters, this plan is bound to work!”

Fabien, you're a bloody genius,” said Blake admiringly.

Oh, don't say that,” Fabien replied with faux modesty.

Eee-eeee-ee-e-e-EEEK!” cried Goishi suddenly, and flapped a foot into the air.

What is it?” asked Fabien, attempting to grab the edge of the wall and swing up elegantly, and instead crawling up slowly and effortfully. “Egad!” he exclaimed, seeing what Goishi was driving at.

A few hundred metres out to sea was a large Tentacruel, moving away from the shore – and on its back was a familiar figure with bleached-blonde hair, along with another in a stylish blue coat.

It's them two!” cried Blake.

It most certainly is,” agreed Fabien, scrambling down off the wall. “Come on! This is our chance!”

Where're you goin'?” asked Blake.

To steal a boat!” replied Fabien, spinning on one heel and walking backwards. “You coming?”

Yeah!”

Goishi watched them go, and wondered how they didn't notice that all the other pedestrians were staring at them. He sighed an ultrasonic sigh, and flapped off after them.
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For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.