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Old July 27th, 2011, 12:47 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Chapter Sixty-Seven: Super Gunk Bros.

Percival's a scary gargoyle on a tower
That you built with plastic power.

We stood on the shore at Mossdeep's Trainers' beach, staring at Percival the Relicanth.

I didn't entirely trust him to carry us.

He wasn't an ordinary Relicanth; that, of course, would have been too much to hope for, since Sapphire had made me choose him. He didn't have a mental disorder, like the other Pokémon I’d found – instead, he had a rather obvious physical one.

He wasn't made of stone.

His rhinestone eyes are like factories far away.

OK, are you certain he can take us?” I asked nervously.

Positive,” Sapphire replied. “He's made of diamond, isn't he? He won't break.”

Sapphire, that's not diamond,” I said, suddenly realising the relevance of Puck's song.

It's rhinestone,” Felicity finished for me.

We all stared at Percival, watching him bob happily up and down in the surf. He was impossible. A diamond Relicanth? Sure, that was fine – it was rare, but every so often you'd get a mutant Rock-type who was born made of diamond; they usually made it onto the news. But rhinestone? That wasn't even a natural material. Rhinestones were made of... well, I didn't know what they were made of, but they didn't occur naturally. They were made in laboratories.

Do you think he's artificial?” I asked.

Could be Devon,” Sapphire said after a while. “They do this – this kind of research.”

She spat the last word with more violence than I’d ever heard in her voice before – and this is Sapphire we're talking about. I supposed she must have been fairly violently opposed to any sort of experimentation on Pokémon.

Devon are renowned for that sort of thing, Puck said. They've got their fingers in so many pies that they're in danger of being thrown out of the bakery.

What?

Don't question me!

It does not matter,” Felicity decided suddenly. “We must leave. The police will be looking for Kester and Team Aqua is getting closer to their goal.”

Yes,” agreed Sapphire distantly. “You're right.”

She knelt down in front of Percival and set up the TM Case she'd bought while I was risking life and limb to steal the Dive HM.

Don't be such a drama queen, Puck said. You weren't risking life and limb, just your life – Psybeam leaves no wounds.

How reassuring.

Give me the HM,” she said, and I handed it over; one unexplained and probably very unscientific move-learning process later, we were wading out into the sea and getting onto Percival's back.

Will this be OK?” I asked. “I mean, will he obey?”

I was thinking of Stacey, and how at first she had had to be bribed to do anything.

He ought to,” Sapphire said. “He must've been broken in already. The real problem will be finding the submarine.”

No, it won't,” Felicity said, as Percival started to swim obediently away from the beach. “I bought this while you were buying the TM Case.”

She held out a single grey headphone, with an aerial attached.

It's the same model as my old one,” she said. “Waterproof, and it can work as a radio. Kester can use it to find the submarine's radio signals.”

I took it from her, and slotted it into place over my ear.

Puck? Can you do that?”

Can I do it? Do most major celebrities need air to live?

What?”

Yes, I can do it.

OK, that's fine.” I paused for a moment; there was something at the back of my head that had been bothering me, but I couldn't quite remember. For a while, the only sounds were Percival's lobed fins beating steadily at the water and the waves breaking against his flanks as he moved far out enough to Dive – and then it came back to me, and I spoke. “Sapphire?”

Yes?”

How do we breathe when Percival dives?”

She was sitting in front of me, and she looked over one shoulder to give me that wicked, lopsided grin.

I guess we're about to find out,” she said, and to my horror, Percival suddenly gave a shudder – and sank down through the water, right beneath us.

---


As Gulliver when he reached the shores of Lilliput, so too were Blake and Fabien relieved beyond measure when they actually made landfall in Mossdeep; their pleasure at arriving was eclipsed only by their disappointment as they saw something large and shiny, bearing Kester Ruby, Sapphire Birch and the white-haired girl, travelling back out to sea.

Oh, damn it,” said Fabien, from the top of the stairs down which Kester and company had so recently descended. “They've already left.”
They were quick, weren' they?” noted Blake.

Never mind that,” said Fabien with a sigh. “We'll have to get back out there.” He swallowed in the same sort of nervous way that a man walking to the gallows might swallow. “And that means...”

Not again,” replied Blake, crestfallen. “Not Morgana again.”

I'm afraid so,” Fabien said. “We don't have time to get hold of another boat; we'd lose them by then. No, we shall have to get Morgana to power the boat with Surf again...”

---


I held my breath for as long as I could, but it was no use; the burning in my lungs and throat grew stronger and stronger, and eventually I gulped in—

a breath of slightly stale but very breathable air.

What?” I gasped, looking around. “But we're...”

Underwater, yes,” Sapphire replied, grinning at me. “But that's why we needed the move Dive. If we just went underwater on Percival, we'd drown. The reason we have Dive is because using it allows a Pokémon to take a massive bubble of air with it.”

How long does it last?” I asked.

It was strange, being underwater yet dry; the water was suspended above and around us, as if we were surrounded by some spherical force field.

With three of us...” Sapphire shrugged. “I don't know. Percival's quite big and he seems quite strong, so I’m guessing about twenty hours.”

He's Level 39, Puck said. And I’m picking up the sub's signal. Head deeper and tilt to the left.

I see. Puck's got the submarine's signal,” I told her. “Go deeper and a bit to the left.”

OK.”

Sapphire pulled on one of the glittery flanges on the side of Percival's head, and he turned good-naturedly to the left.

Down,” she said, and he started sinking slowly, like a stone dropped in treacle.

Now for a long and very dull undersea voyage, Puck remarked. I suggest we cut to someone else's narrative for a bit.

We sank further; it was eerily silent down here, I thought. The only noise was a faint roaring from the waves on the surface, and the sound of Sapphire's breath. With a slight jolt, I realised that Felicity wasn't breathing at all – and that she hadn't been for a while now.

She'll be fine, Puck said. Come on, someone else's narrative. Really, there's nothing to see here. We're just going to be swimming along underwater for about thirty hours.

Felicity, are you OK?” I asked, looking back at her.

What? Yes, I am fine,” she answered, puzzled. “Why?”

You're not breathing.”

Oh. No, I’m not.”

Seriously? We're actually going to sit here and force everyone to read their way through thirty hours of nothing?

I have not breathed for days now.” Felicity didn’t sound concerned – in fact, she said it in a cool, clinical sort of way that sent shivers down my spine. “I don't think I need to any longer.”

OK, that's a little bit of creepy exposition. Can we change narrative now? Please, I'll get bored

---

There was a tall figure in black standing calmly on the Jagged Pass.

Oh, thank Arceus, said a voice from hundreds of miles away.

It was Mellifluous Gunk who first found him – he whose habit it had been, since he joined the Team, to come and stand guard every so often outside the tunnel. He had found Zero at about eleven o'clock, and immediately brought him inside, utilising both his tremendously forceful personality and his nine-millimetre pistol (though it was, of course, his personality that bore the brunt of the work).

The pistol at his back did not seem to bother Zero unduly. Though it wasn't possible to see his face beneath the mask, he seemed remarkably calm. Mellifluous marched him through the tunnels, and soon he found that he had brought his prisoner all the way to Maxie's office.

He blinked.

That was quick,” he said to himself. “It's not usually that quick.”

I took you via a shorter route,” Zero told him. “Now get on with this and get me into Maxie's room.”

Bewildered and not a little unnerved, Mellifluous knocked on the door.

If this is anything except good news,” came the answer from within, “you'd better leave now, because I’m going to remove organs that you didn't even know you had.”

I've caught Zero, sir!” said Mellifluous, in what must surely have been the zenith of his career as a Magma.

Abruptly, the door opened, and Maxie appeared.

Excellent,” he said, apparently without the least vestige of surprise. “Both of you, get in here.”

With some trepidation, Mellifluous stepped into the office, herding Zero ahead of him with nothing but his charisma, and, of course, his gun.

Maxie went over to his desk and, leaning over it, pressed the button on the intercom.

Courtney, Tabitha,” he said. “I'd like you here now, please.”

He turned around and leaned against the desk; neither he nor Zero said anything, and Mellifluous began to feel a little uneasy.

A few moments later, both of the Magma Administrators came into the room, and for some reason Courtney seemed to start when she saw Zero.

Now we're all here,” Maxie said at last, making Mellifluous jump, “I think we might be able to begin.” His voice was completely level. “Firstly, Zero, what the hell were you thinking of?”

And a very good afternoon to you too, Maxie,” said Zero. “And Courtney, it's wonderful to see you again.”

What about me?” asked Tabitha.

I'm afraid I don't really know who you are,” Zero said. “But I can tell at a glance that I’m not likely to want to.”

Stung, Tabitha was about to say something – but Maxie shot him a look, and he found something fascinating to look at on the toe of his boot.

What the hell were you thinking of?” asked Maxie, taking a step towards Zero. “Virtually giving us the Orb, then disappearing just in time to avoid telling us how to activate it... what do you mean by that?”

I had other business to attend to,” said Zero. “Steven Stone was becoming too involved—”

What?” Maxie's head snapped around to face Tabitha. “Gerald!”

I'm Tabitha—”

We've been through this before!” roared Maxie. “You're Gerald if I say you're Gerald! Now, as head of intelligence, why didn't you know that the greatest Trainer Hoenn has ever produced was getting interested in this?”

Tabitha cringed.

I – er...”

Thankfully, Zero spared him the necessity of explaining.

It's all right,” he said. “The fact that Tabitha – who despite his manifold obvious shortcomings, is doubtless a fine head of intelligence – did not know about this is no fault of his own. Stone offered tremendous and annoyingly helpful aid to Ruby and Birch and, despite the fact that I blocked his communications to the League, would probably have come after us all himself. I distracted him by calling in a favour from his father and have sent him to Mossdeep, and kept the whole thing secret to avoid distracting you from the important task of discovering how to work the Orb, which I thought you would doubtless work out yourself.” Zero bowed, which almost got him shot by Mellifluous, though he didn't seem to care. “It seems I overestimated your intelligence, Maxie.”

For a moment, there was silence; then Maxie growled:

How do we activate the Orb? Tell us now, or I'll have you killed.”

At the word 'killed', the Mightyena in the corner looked up from its bone and barked questioningly.

Quiet, you,” snapped the Magma boss, and it fell silent with a whine.

You won't kill me, Maxie,” said Zero sharply. “I don't like to be threatened. I won't work on such terms.”

Mellifluous made a big show of releasing the safety catch on his handgun.

Oh, please,” said Zero dismissively. “You can't kill me. You'd all be dead within seconds.”

What do you mean?” asked Maxie cautiously. Zero looked up, towards the vent that brought fresh air down into the stifling hideout from the surface; something heavy landed with a deafening clang on the grille, and a two-foot claw extended from between the bars, bending them with a hideous shriek of tortured metal.

That's one,” said Zero mildly.

Almost as soon as the first claw had appeared, another sprouted from behind Maxie's desk, swiftly followed by a massive, blunt head with two wing-like eyes mounted either side of it.

That's two.”

Now Maxie's great Mightyena yelped, and from the shadows that cloaked its body a lumbering form stumbled, as tall as a man but built like a taloned tank.

And... third time's the charm,” said Zero.

Everyone stared at him.

You see, I knew that when I returned, I would most likely be met with death threats,” Zero said, as if this were something that happened every day. “So before I left you the last time, I concealed my friends' Poké Balls at strategic points around your office. As you can see.”

Maxie was silent for a long time, face red save for a little circle of pale flesh above his upper lip. Finally, he spoke – and when he did, his voice was full of so much suppressed vitriol that he could have bottled it and sold it as a pesticide.

Put the gun away,” he said to Mellifluous.

What? Sir—”

Put it away!”

Mellifluous did, with all possible haste.

Tabitha,” Maxie went on. “He's seen too much. Have him killed.”

He pointed at Mellifluous.

What? No!”

Tabitha sighed and dragged him away, kicking and screaming; it was a cliché, but in a very satisfying sort of way – particularly if you were Zero, and knew it was going to happen beforehand.

All right, Zero,” said Maxie, taking a deep breath and eyeing the closest Armaldo, “we'll do it your way.”

Excellent,” said Zero, strolling over to Maxie's desk, vaulting it and throwing himself down in his chair. “Courtney, come over here.”

Hiding a smile, she did; Maxie looked on, bemused despite his fury. When he did that, Courtney complained of harassment. What made Zero so special?

Now,” Zero said, relinquishing Courtney and clasping his hands, “the key point here is that the Red Orb is Groudon's soul. In order to revive himself, he needs something for his soul to enter into: in short, he requires a body...”

---


Oh, that's hardly fair,” said Fabien, crestfallen.

We're goin' to 'ave to go down there, aren't we?” Blake said glumly, staring at the spot where Kester Ruby and friends had disappeared into the depths.

Fabien sighed and cast a glance at the back of the boat, where a medium-sized and unusually helpful wave was pushing them along.

I suppose we'll have to use Morgana,” he said. “She can Dive. Goishi!”

Eee-eee-E-EE-EEE-eek?”

I'll have to recall you. There won't be enough air for you too.” Fabien looked at him distastefully. “Look at yourself. Breathing like there's no tomorrow. Disgraceful.”

Goishi did something with his wings that would, had he done it to another Crobat, have got him into a fight to the death. Since he did it to a human, however, there were no repercussions whatsoever, and he was recalled without incident.

Blake and Fabien walked slowly to the stern, and looked over the edge at the Pokémon floating in the water beyond.

Is she dancin'?” asked Blake in a low voice.

Her actions are not for us to question, friend,” Fabien replied in the sort of hushed tones one uses when one has entered a secret castle built by a lost civilisation.

Righ',” Blake agreed. “She could turn nasty.”

Morgana,” called Fabien cautiously.

The blue Pokémon ceased writhing amongst the waves, and turned wide eyes to look at the two men who were (in theory at least) her masters.

Morgana, we need to use Dive,” said Fabien. “Is – is that OK?”

He flinched back, expecting a violent response – but evidently Morgana was in good spirits today, for none was forthcoming. She merely beckoned with an appendage (the precise nature of which shall remain unknown for no reason other than to increase your desire to know what species she belonged to) and, glancing at each other uncertainly, the two Magmas stepped carefully off the edge of the boat, dropped into the sea, and landed inside a large air bubble.


---

This trip is really boring.

Shut up, Puck.

But I’m bored, he whined. Do something interesting. Electrify the water and see how many fish you can kill.

No! Aside from the obvious ethical dilemma

Hah! I love it when humans think those things exist!

I'll hit Percival.

Oh yeah. Puck sounded disappointed. Bummer.

Actually, since when have you not cared about ethical dilemmas? You're always talking about morality and philosophy and stuff.

I’m like Hamlet: I know what I ought to do in theory, it's just that I just pretend to be mad instead. Puck sighed. No, but in all seriousness, you pointed this out yourself a few days ago. I know all about morals, but I don't actually have any. He sounded almost proud of this. I was ashamed when you first mentioned it, but I now think it's something that sets me apart from and above you puny meatfaces.

Humans. We're called humans.

You're called what I say you're called. I mean, nothing you can do about it.

I meditated for a few minutes on that business that had happened last year, and then had to stop because both of us were feeling queasy.

See, that's just plain mean, Puck said. Someone in that state shouldn't be left on their own at all, let alone in a warehouse containing that many carcasses.

Do your nonexistent morals tell you that?

No, replied Puck with surprising honesty, but yours do. Oh, down and to the right.

Down and to the right, Sapphire,” I said without opening my eyes. I was actually almost asleep; we'd been travelling for hours and it really was getting quite dull. Behind me, Felicity was asleep; she'd slumped forwards to lean on my back, which I couldn't help thinking would have been nice if she had been breathing and didn't feel so cold – the two of which combined to make her feel unsettlingly similar to a corpse.

I know, Kester,” replied Sapphire. “I can see it.”

What?” I jerked my eyes open and craned my neck to see past her – and she was right. In the dark, blue-green distance, there was something broad and pale moving perpendicular to Percival – and if I squinted, I could just make out tall letters across the side. I was willing to bet they spelled out 'S.S. CANGREJO'.

Me too, Puck said. But that's because I know for certain that this is the S.S. Cangrejo, because that son of a glitch Matt with his damn Swampert is playing with the radio and trying to get the football results.

Son of a... glitch?

I hate glitches. One of Puck's shivers went down my spine. They make programs go all funny, and usually the whole thing ends up with me in pain.

Fair enough.

What's the plan now?” I asked Sapphire.

We'll have to tail it until we see where it's going,” Sapphire said. “It's not like we can just board it. Then we'll follow the Team into this deep-sea cavern we've heard so much about and help the druid who brought it there defend the Orb or get it away entirely.”

That's a good plan,” I said. “I vote we take the Orb and flee. I mean, there's the entire might of Team Aqua to go up against here. Every single member has come on this mission.”

Don't worry, said Puck enigmatically. I sincerely doubt they'll bother you.

What? What does that mean? Why won't they bother us?”

They'll be otherwise occupied. I'll say no more; you'll see when we get there.

Was that Puck?” asked Sapphire. I nodded. “Did you just nod? You forget, I can't see you back there.”

Yes, I nodded.”

Fine.”

So we drifted on, a Relicanth against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

---


Sir?”

Yes?”

I think you should take a look at this.”

Archie sighed, set his book aside and got up to follow the grunt to the bridge.

This had better be important,” he said warningly. “I'm at a good bit.”

Yes sir.”

The Hork-Bajir are in danger.”

What?”

It's in the book.”

At this point, someone might have pointed out to Archie that he was reading one of a series of rather underwhelming children's books, but, wishing to remain in possession of the full complement of organs and limbs that they had been born with, they did not.

They reached the bridge, and the Aqua grunt – who was, by a strange coincidence, the estranged half-brother of Mellifluous Gunk, Euphonious Gunk – pointed to the little sonar screen.

Someone's following us?” asked Archie, surprised.

Yes sir,” replied Euphonious.

It's a very small dot,” said Archie dubiously.

It's been following us for half an hour.”

I see.” Archie considered for a moment. “Torpedo it,” he said at length, and walked off.

Euphonious Gunk stood still for a minute, confused, then ran after him.

But sir!” he cried. “We don't have any torpedoes!”

Archie stopped and stared in disbelief.

No torpedoes? On a submarine? What sort of submarine doesn't have torpedoes?”

A research submarine,” Euphonious told him. “Like this one.”

So, there are absolutely no torpedoes?”

No sir.”

Archie sighed; it was such a sigh that his whole body seemed to deflate.

Fine,” he said. “We'll let them follow us until we reach the cavern, and deal with them there. They're not interfering with the submarine or anything, are they?” he added, a note of anxiety coming into his voice.

No sir.”

Excellent.” Archie started back into his cabin, but paused on the threshold and leaned out to speak. “Just keep an eye on them, would you?”

Then he was gone, back inside and back to his book.

---


At the bottom of the sea, a druid was waiting.

He had been busy recently. In fact, he'd been very busy. He had been trying to build some rather ambitious traps in the caverns – not just to keep out the Aquas when they eventually came here (as they inevitably would), but to stave off boredom, too.

It was very dull at the bottom of the sea.

Regrettably, the whole project had been dogged with issues. Firstly, the druid (whose name was Phil) had discovered that neither he nor his Shiftry had actually done the costings correctly, and had had to spend a day adding up prices for giant boulders and the like – only for his Shiftry to point out at the end of the day that he didn't need to pay anything, and might, in fact, be going crazy from the isolation. Since he was unable to understand the Shiftry's soft, sighing language, Phil paid him no heed, and began construction forthwith.

The next issue had been the digging of a number of holes for poisoned stakes to come out of. This wasn't in itself difficult, but it seemed that previous druidic visitors had already fortified this place against intruders, for in opening the ground he uncovered a massive pit, already filled with poisoned stakes – which he promptly fell into and perished in.

Naturally, this had been a little upsetting for the Shiftry, which, in his grief, had accidentally activated another ancient security system, with the result that he was hacked to pieces just a few minutes after his master's death.

So you understand, when we say there was a druid waiting, we mean there was a druid lying broken and dead at the bottom of a giant spike-filled pit.

This is mentioned purely because, with two alerts, the entirety of the old druid-built security system in the deep-sea cavern had reactivated itself, ready for future intruders. Coincidentally, this happened at the precise moment that the S.S. Cangrejo arrived outside a cave mouth in the wall of the sea trench it was in.

And as the submarine entered, and started to rise to the surface, hidden wheels clicked into place, and a whole lot of everything started to happen all at once.
__________________

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

Last edited by Cutlerine; July 30th, 2011 at 01:05 AM.