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Old July 25th, 2011, 07:17 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Why, thank you, 01. It's very pleasing to know that people enjoy what I create; that's why I do it. That and the fact that if I don't finish The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World, I'll never be able to get my head clear enough of it to focus on more important things. So don't worry, I will finish it.

Oh, and I did rewrite Chapters 36 and 37, that's right. It was brought to my attention that they were awful, and, upon re-reading them, I was forced to agree.

Chapter Sixty-Six: Grand Theft Hydro


Is... is your arm OK?” I asked cautiously.

Sapphire glared at me.

My arm is falling off,” she replied caustically. “What the hell do you think?”

Duncan stopped abruptly at the sound of her voice, and the big red lights on his head flashed ominously.

Nothing you can do about it now,” I said to him. “Keep swimming and we might get out of the Jellicent's body before he attacks again.”

The Tentacruel, evidently deciding he would rather be alive with Sapphire on his back than dead without, started moving again. I returned my attention to Sapphire's arm.

It looked like the love-child of a toad and a pot of tarmac; black, blistered and smoking gently, it reminded me of that business last year. As I watched, a few flaky bits fell off it.

That's really, really nasty, Puck said. Isn't it awesome?


How – was that the Hex?” I asked.

It does a lot of damage if the target has a status condition,” Sapphire said from between clenched teeth. “So when it hit my burned arm...”

I winced.

Do you want a Potion?” I asked lamely. Sapphire glared.

Those only work on Pokémon.”

I smiled smugly, then quickly assumed a straight face as Sapphire's frown deepened dangerously.

Uh, OK, so – what do we do?”

Get some bandages out of my bag and bandage it for me,” Sapphire said. I did, and started to wind it tightly around her arm – at which she flinched, swore and tugged her arm out of my grip.

Hold still,” I said.

Sorry, but my arm's falling off,” she replied. “And so I’m in a little bit of pain here.”

It's not really falling off, is it?” I said. “It's more... flaking. Now hold out your arm again.”

After a few false starts, I managed to get her arm bandaged well enough that nothing else was going to fall off, and Sapphire made a sling of her jacket to carry it in. Satisfied that I’d done my good deed for the day, I sat down on Duncan's back and felt for the Jellicent's presence; he was still there, so I assumed we weren't safe yet.

I sighed. Things never seemed to go as we planned.

What are you sighing about?” asked Sapphire sourly.

I'm wet,” I replied. “And the Jellicent's still here.”

Oh, you're wet, are you? Well, my arm's falling off.”

We've been through this,” I said, in my best soothing voice. “It's not actually falling off. It's just flaking a bit.”

Go and leap off a cliff,” Sapphire said grumpily, and turned away.

Someone's feeling a bit upset, Puck remarked. It's amazing how badly you've managed this sea voyage, Kester. Duncan's probably going to stop and demand Sapphire's thrown overboard when we get outside the Jellicent, Sapphire's pissed-off with you (well, more than usual), and Felicity's unconscious. Congratulations, your ferry service is officially the worst in Hoenn.

Shut up,” I muttered, and settled down to wait.

About ten minutes later, Duncan stopped suddenly; I realised we were out of the Jellicent's range now, and he probably wasn't going to move unless we got rid of Sapphire. His lights flashed and he made one of those electronic hisses.

Just keep going, Duncan,” said Sapphire darkly. “I need medical attention. Would you prefer my arm came off than I ride on your back.”

Duncan paused. It was self-evident that, in all honesty, he would prefer that Sapphire's arm came off.

OK,” Sapphire said, the fight leaving her voice. “Just take us to Mossdeep or I'll smash your globe again.”

Duncan's lights flashed very brightly, and a ring of tentacles appeared around us, arched menacingly.

Sapphire doesn't mean any of this,” I said hurriedly. “Look, Duncan, you can trust me. I’m a nice guy. Aren't I, Sapphire?”

She made a rude gesture.

I'm trying to help you here,” I said in a low voice. “Help me out, OK?”

Fine.” She sighed. “Duncan, Kester is a nice guy. He's much better than I am.”

Duncan shivered and emitted a strange grinding noise; it took me a moment to realise he was laughing, presumably at Sapphire. She ground her teeth and glared at me.

So yeah,” I said, trying hard not to laugh myself, “we'd really appreciate it if you'd keep going. Please?”

The Tentacruel seemed to waver for a moment, then withdrew his tentacles, and bobbed slightly.

Does that mean yes?” I asked.

He flashed his lights and started moving again; I guessed that it had.

Pleading with a jellyfish, Puck mused. That's got to be demeaning.

That wasn't a good one, I replied, and the Rotom sighed.

Yeah, you're right, he said. I'll think of something better to say. Watch this space.

Sapphire gave me a long look, and then sighed.

Thanks,” she said. “Sorry.”

Rare praise indeed,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “But no problem. It's fine.”

Felicity stirred and groaned; it seemed she was coming around.

What exactly will Iron Head have done to her?” I asked.

Maybe a couple of broken bones.” Sapphire shrugged. “I don't know. She always seems to heal on her own, doesn't she?”

Does – yeah, she does...” I thought of the water that permeated her body. Were her bones made of ice?

Felicity's eyes fluttered open, and she sat up holding her head.

Ouch,” she muttered, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Skuld was safely back inside her head.

It would have been bad if she'd got out, Puck agreed. Why, we'd all be dead, and then where would we be?

She's... gone,” Felicity said, blinking. “Sapphire?”

Yes?”

Thank you. You stopped her.” Felicity examined her hands minutely, as if she hadn't seen them for a while and needed to remind herself what they looked like. “I used too many of her attacks. It almost let her out.”

What were you using?” I asked.

Shadow Ball,” said Sapphire on her behalf. “A strong Ghost move.”

We can use that, Puck said. Or we could if you were a higher level. You're still a bit pathetic.

What did we get to eat?” asked Felicity suddenly. “I'm hungry.”

So we ate, and drifted on through the afternoon; as the full moon rose, we could just see the outline of Mossdeep appearing in the distance, which cheered us all up quite a bit – it was mind-numbingly dull aboard Duncan's back, and Sapphire was getting more and more worried about her arm. We'd put some of the Blissey lotion on it, but nothing much had happened; it was going to take a proper doctor's attention to fix it.

Yo, Kester, Puck said.

What?”

I saw the crescent, but... you saw the whole of the moon.

I looked up, and could indeed see the moon.

Uh... what?”

Never mind. I just wanted to quote.

Puck?” asked Sapphire, and I nodded.

Something about the whole of the moon,” I replied.

It's only one of the greatest songs of the '80s, you cultureless swine.

Now he's just being abusive.”

That is a gross oversimplification

Now I don't care.”

Puck harrumphed and fell silent, and I smiled to myself. Beating Puck never got old.

As Sapphire had predicted, we made landfall at around midnight, Duncan steering gently into a small cove that housed Mossdeep Island's Trainer Beach.

We splashed off his back and onto land wearily, and before he could make his views regarding Sapphire known to us I recalled him.

It's good to be back on land,” I said. “My legs have gone to sleep.”

My arm's gone to sleep,” Sapphire said. “In fact, I think it's properly unconscious. Maybe even dead.”

All right, all right,” I said. “Let's find a hospital.”

So we walked up the stairs cut into the dark cliff face, and entered Mossdeep City.

Now, I’d liked Mauville. I’d quite liked Slateport's Wharf. I’d really liked Fallarbor and its sunny atmosphere of fame and glamour.

But I really, really liked Mossdeep.

White and shiny, with brown-slated roofs and green bricks creeping across the pale walls, the city rose up like a fantasy castle from the sheer rocks of the island. In the distance, I saw a pillar of glittering lights: the tower of the Hoenn Space Centre, our country's answer to NASA.

It's a pretty bad answer, Puck said. It's like I asked: 'Do you know what 186 divided by 7 is?', and you said: 'Uh... maybe?' That's how bad an answer it is.

We wandered through the streets, and, by asking a couple of people we passed, found a hospital; while Sapphire was seen by the doctor, Felicity and I sat in the waiting room and pondered, next to a boy with a saucepan on his head and a man with a Sandshrew and a hand full of Poison Stings.

Ah, Sandshrew, Puck said, with the air of one greeting an old friend. The only creature in the world dumb enough to attempt to copulate with fire. It's amazing there are any still alive.

Forty minutes later, Sapphire was back with something halfway between a bandage and a cast on her arm; the doctor said something about her to me, but listening was too much effort for one in the morning, so I just nodded, left and followed Sapphire through the streets towards a Pokémon Centre.

And followed her.

And followed her.

And followed her some more.

Sapphire, do you actually know where the Pokémon Centre is?” I asked. She turned around and smiled dreamily.

Where the what is?” she asked in a sing-song voice.

Oh-oh, said Puck. Somebody's liking their morph-iiiine!

Oh, damn it,” I said forcefully.

What is it? What is wrong with her?” asked Felicity, concerned. She sounded very tired, like a dormouse.

Is that a reference to a well-loved novel or a well-established fact about hibernation?

Er... both?

That's the same sort of answer that your Space Centre is to NASA.

She's trippy from the painkillers,” I sighed, wishing I’d listened to the doctor. “We've been following someone who barely knows they're awake.”

Trippy?”

Uh, confused. Spaced-out. Dreamy.”

Oh boy, a synonym contest! Game on! Let's see... whacked-out, vacant, staring into space slash the middle distance, daydreaming, high, on a trip

Shut up!

Oh.” I wasn't sure if she really understood, but I was too tired to care.

Look, forget the Centre. Only she can stay in one anyway. Let's just find a hotel.”

Fifteen minutes of stumbling around an almost-deserted city – it seemed Mossdeep had less nightlife than a dead badger – we found one. I thought I saw insects crawling across the floor, but by then I was beyond caring; I just wanted something horizontal that wouldn't get me arrested for vagrancy if I passed out on it. They had plenty of rooms available, and after I’d helped Felicity get Sapphire inside theirs (she was showing an unusual desire to explore the cupboards) I stumbled into mine and blacked out almost immediately.

---


It's cold out 'ere,” Blake muttered.

Ssh,” replied Fabien. “I'm trying to think.”

They were on a little boat in the middle of the sea, and they had just discovered that some prankster had loosened certain key parts of the engine in such a way that after a couple of miles the whole thing had fallen apart.

We might 'ave to swim for it,” Blake said, shivering in the chill night air.

Goishi kept silent. He didn't want either of the former Magmas to realise they could fly off on him; they were a long way out to sea, and the strain of carrying one of them all the way to land would probably make his heart explode.

Look!” cried Fabien suddenly, standing up and rocking the boat. “Someone's coming!”

It was true; someone – or, more correctly, something – was approaching at a steady clip, skimming along the surface of the water like a dragonfly.

That ain't a boa',” Blake said, puzzled.

No, it isn't,” agreed Fabien. “What is that?”

It came closer and closer, a dark shape that shot along a foot or two above the water. It had wide-spread wings with notched edges, and on its back, a tall figure was balanced.

'Ow can it carry that person?” wondered Blake. “'E's got to weigh twice as much as it does...”

I know how it can carry him,” said Fabien, in the tones of an aged oracle about to impart a great prophecy to a future king. “It's a Ninjashell. A very specific Ninjashell. The Ninjashell belonging to that Devon man.”

Blake gasped.

You're righ' an' all!” he cried. “What do we do?”

Lie down in the boat!” Fabien commanded. “He must not discover us, or we will surely perish!”

Goishi wondered if he ought to point out that the Devon man had absolutely no reason to kill them, but decided that it might be more fun to play along, and so crouched down in the hull with his masters.

The 'Ninjashell' and its passenger slowed as they reached the boat, and the former Magmas heard the researcher's voice call out:

Is anyone there?”

He received no reply, though, and moved away with a soft swish of displaced air. Fabien stood up and brushed himself off triumphantly.

We have just escaped certain death,” he proclaimed dramatically. “How do you feel, Blake?”

Lucky to be alive,” he answered.

Now, while we were dancing with death,” Fabien went on, “I hit upon an idea. It'll get us to Mossdeep, but it's risky.”

'Ow d'you mean, 'risky'?” Blake asked suspiciously.

Now, if you are one of those fortunate people in whom perspicacity, good observation and eidetic memory come together, you will doubtless recall that at the start of Chapter Eleven of this fine tale, it was mentioned that Fabien and Blake in fact possessed two Pokémon between them. It was also mentioned that that second Pokémon was far less reliable than that master of the sardonic squeak, Goishi.

If you recall all of this, congratulate yourself. If you do not, you have just found out again, and we shall both pretend that you did remember.

We'll need to use Morgana,” Fabien said seriously.

Blake raised his eyebrows so far they were in danger of coming down over the back of his head.

Tha's risky, Fabien,” he said, sucking in a deep breath through his teeth. “You know wha' 'appens when we se' 'er loose.”

I know, I know,” Fabien replied, turning so that the moonlight caught his face in a dramatic sort of way. “But she's the only hope we've got!”

I dunno,” Blake said. “I dunno...” He looked over at Goishi, who looked surprised for a moment and then made a motion that might have been a shrug; the Golbat didn't really care if they were left adrift here. Built to cope with migratory flights, he could survive without water for a long time – and once his masters died of dehydration, he could snatch his Poké Ball off them, fly off and toss it in a ravine where no one would find it. Blake looked back over at Fabien, and found that he'd struck a noble pose at the bow, like a pirate captain staring at an island on the horizon.

Blake sighed.

All righ',” he said. “I guess we ain't got no choice.”

Fabien spun on his heel and almost fell into the sea.

Excellent!” he cried. “Right, let's get her out of here.”

He drew a pink Love Ball from his pocket with trembling fingers, held it up to the moon for a moment – and threw it down onto the boat.

---


As Kester Ruby awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself

Puck? Is that you?” I sat up, blinking.

Aw, you interrupted me just before I got to the good bit. That's the thing about Kafka. The good bits are at the end of the sentences.

I looked around. At first, I thought I was in a car park in a red light district, and then I realised that I was in a hotel room. I stared at a line of cockroaches crawling across the floor, followed them with my eyes and ended up looking at a large dead Taillow, rotting just underneath the broken window.

Oh my God,” I said, to no one in particular, and left as fast as possible.

I hammered on the door of Felicity and Sapphire's room; I heard the sound of people waking inside, then a couple of low noises of horror. The door opened, and Sapphire half-ran, half-leaped out and thumped into my chest. She stared up at me, and I stared down at her.

We have to get out of here,” she said urgently.

Agreed,” I said, and, dragging Felicity along with us, we left the hotel faster than I’d ever left a building before.

That was scary,” Sapphire said, when we were a good mile away through the pale streets. “I don't remember how I got there...”

You were spaced-out from the morphine,” I told her. “We didn't really look where we were going, and ended up... there.”

Sapphire shivered.

OK,” she said. “Well, I feel much better today.” She flexed her arm and winced. “Ouch. Shouldn't have done that. Right, we need to get ourselves an HM Dive and something to use it on.”

Can't we use Duncan?” Felicity asked.

Sapphire shook her head.

We only just got him to take me here. There's no way we'll get him to take us down to the sea floor; I'll have to send him back to Dad.”

We bought and ate breakfast as we moved, found a Pokémon Centre from which to email Duncan to Professor Birch and then got on a bus that took us in the direction of a large grey building that was, according to the sign, Arizona Fats' Relicanth Dealership.

We're getting a Relicanth?” I asked.

A big one would take us all and be less expensive than a Wailord,” replied Sapphire. “You can choose, Kester?”

Really?” We passed through the automatic doors into a dingy little office with a broken ceiling fan. “Why?”

Because you're good at finding interesting Pokémon.”

'Interesting' might be putting it a little lightly, Puck said. How about 'certifiably insane'?

I thought of Malvolio and Stacey, and was forced to agree.

Can I help you?”

I glanced over at the desk at the other end of the office, and saw a man who would have been stylish about fifty years ago getting up from behind it.

Arizona Fats,” he said, coming over and holding out a hand for us to shake. “How can I help you?”

Wow. He looks almost exactly like Jackie Gleason, observed Puck. Well, I think that joke's had its run now. Better move on.

We were looking for a Relicanth,” Sapphire told him.

Then you came to the right place,” replied Fats. “Come through here, I'll show you my stock.”

He led us through a door to the right of his desk out onto a broad patio, beyond which a gigantic pool stretched away over about an acre. Beneath the surface, I could see ranks of dark backs twisting sluggishly in the water.

That's... quite something,” Sapphire said, looking around. “Is there any way we can—”

See them? Of course,” replied Fats. “Right this way.”

He took us down a set of stairs that let us look through the glass wall of the pool, and now I could see heavy beige jaws and deep-set eyes, and thick-lobed fins that slowly paddled at the water as if driven by lobotomised oarsmen.

Uh... That's a really, really strange analogy.

Now,” said Fats. “This one's been here four years now, and—”

I don't need and definitely don't want the sales patter,” said Sapphire sharply. “Kester, I just want you to walk along the side here, and see what you can find...”

---


As so often when I argued with Sapphire, I was cut down as swiftly as a Russian cherry orchard. I had tried to persuade her that the Relicanth I had found had some sort of congenital disorder – it definitely didn't look right – but in vain; she said it was rare, and therefore to be valued, and so we should take it off Arizona Fats' hands and use it.

So she bought it and called it Percival, for no reason other than it was the first name that popped into her head. Apparently that was how a lot of Trainers named their Pokémon.

I'm telling you, that thing's got to be dangerous to ride!”

It'll be fine,” Sapphire contended. “He's just a bit... sparkly.”

There might be more wrong with him than just the colour,” Felicity put in. Sapphire glared at her.

Not you too!” she cried. “Kester, is Puck on my side?”

I listened.

I’m on her side. No, on yours. No – oh, I don't know! It's just so – so – IRRELEVANT.

I winced at the volume of the thought.

Seriously, it doesn't matter. Your puny human arguments are so far below my concern that I should probably go join Timon in his cave and have a good natter about how people are a bad thing.

Well?” demanded Sapphire.

Uh... I’m not sure. He's making Bardic references.”

You don't get the Hamlet ones, but you get the Timon of Athens ones? What the hell kind of person knows about Timon but not – gah, I hate these inconsistencies!

Well, it doesn't matter,” said Sapphire firmly. “He's fine. Besides, it'll be proved he's fine to Dive, because we're going to have to get a licence before we can do it.”

I halted in the middle of the street and stared.

You're kidding me? We're moving as fast as possible, trying to catch up with Team Aqua before they awaken a gigantic monster that's going to give them untold power – and you're telling me we have to wait and get a Diving licence first?”

Sapphire shrugged.

The law's the law,” she said.

That's so unlike her. Who are you and what have you done with the real Sapphire? Did you eat her? Oh my Mew, you did eat her!

Puck!

Kester! Kill her quick!

I shook my head, blinked, and resumed my argument with Sapphire.

Look, I don't want to put this off,” I said, trying to sound reasonable and probably sounding infuriating instead.

I agree with Kester,” said Felicity. “Speed is a priority—”

Well, you would think that, wouldn't you?” Sapphire said patiently. “You've got a massive score to settle with Zero.”

Felicity's mouth snapped shut and her eyes darkened, and that was all she said for quite some time.

Stop.” I halted, grabbed Sapphire's arm and spun her around to face me. “Sapphire,” I said. “I am not stopping so that we can pass a test. I’m even willing to take to the sea on that freaky Relicanth if it means you'll bypass this test.”

There's no way we can do it,” said Sapphire, sighing. “You get your Dive HM from Mossdeep Gym, after you've signed up for the training course.”

Inside my head, Puck let out a loud, crowing laugh.

Something locked away from you? he asked slyly. Are there walls between you and the object of your desire? Do you, in short, need a thief?

I was about to make some sort of vague retort, then thought better of it. After all, this was in the service of the greater good.

Actually,” I said slowly, “I think Puck might have an idea...”

---


WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!

Run run run run run!

What do you think I’m trying to do?”

I dropped out the window, failed to land on my feet and leaped back upright.

Some plan!” I snarled under my breath, pelting away over the car park, feet hammering on the tarmac like runaway drills.

I’m out of practice! Puck cried defensively. Besides, I’m an art thief, I don't usually steal things like – oh, hell, you should probably duck.

I did, just in time to dodge something purple and wobbly that fractured the air above my head.

A Psybeam, Puck noted. I’d say it was nasty, but it really isn't. Not unless it hits your brain, and if it does that you should probably make sure you've written your will and that all your affairs are in order.

I climbed awkwardly over the fence, ripped my shirt on the spiked railings and tumbled inelegantly down the other side; this time, my ineptitude was my saving grace, because whoever was blasting Psybeams at me had been counting on my head being somewhere above the pavement.

I stumbled upright and made off as fast as I could down the street; before launching this plan, we'd had a look at a roadmap of Mossdeep, and so I knew that coming from the back of the Gym as I had, there should be a little network of alleyways that I could duck into right—

“—Here?” I said, puzzled. “Puck, there's no – there's no alley!”

There's a time to make a fuss, but now is not it! Just keep running!

So I did; I turned a corner, saw a shopping centre across the road and dived through the doors. It was packed, and I had to slow down here – but I didn't think anyone would find me here, in the midst of the crowds, and I fought my way over to a fountain and sat down on its edge, breathing heavily.

Oh God,” I gasped, “Puck, remind me never ever ever to trust you again.”

It isn't my fault the guard saw you. It's yours. I mean, you insisted on accompanying me on this job; he never would've known if it had just been me.

You're inside me! I can't not accompany you!”

My wild cries had drawn a number of very strange looks, and since I wanted to keep a low profile right now, I moved away and switched to silent communication.

Oh, that sounds cool, doesn't it? 'Switch to silent communication'. Like in a movie: 'Johnson, we're going to need to switch to silent communications.'

Stop avoiding the issue! I almost got caught!

But you didn't get caught, said Puck earnestly. Isn't that what really matters? Honestly, you humans. It's always 'almost this' and 'almost that' with you. Can't you just relax?

This is not a relaxing situation! I told him fiercely, finding a payphone and dialling for Sapphire. Puck, I swear to God that if you ever suggest a plan for stealing something again, I'll – I'll

I couldn't actually think of what I would do; I’m not the best at thinking up threats.

You could throw me into the sun, Puck said, after a considered pause. That's about the only thing that could properly destroy me. Or you could infect me with a computer virus, which would torture me but not kill me. Or you could get another Ghost to attack me, but that wouldn't eradicate me completely. I’m pretty darn hard-wearin', he said proudly.

I

Kester?”

Oh, hi Sapphire!” I said, surprised. “I got it. Didn't go quite as we'd planned, but I did get it.”

Oh good,” she replied. “I didn't think the Gym would have great security. OK, we're probably going to need to leave Mossdeep pretty quickly, so... meet us at the Trainer's beach in half an hour?”

I checked my watch, then remembered that it no longer existed.

What's the time now?” I asked.

Half three. So four o'clock meeting time. OK?”

OK. See you there.”

I hurled the phone down, angry that Sapphire could be so calm about the whole thing when I’d almost got caught, and stormed out.

Er, Kester – you do realise that she doesn't know that you almost got caught, don't you?

That's right,” I muttered. “And I’m going to keep it that way. I’m already low enough in her estimation.”

Not really. She thinks she's in love with you, the crazy girl.

Have I ever told you how much I hate you?”

Many times, answered Puck, as if answering a question born of love rather than loathing.

Have I told you recently?”

Um... Nope. Don't think so.

I told him, and left the mall. Getting out of the city was, I decided, more important than heckling a ghost that lived in my brain, and bearing that thought in mind, I headed down towards the Trainers' Beach.

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

Last edited by Cutlerine; July 26th, 2011 at 10:55 AM.