My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon
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August 21st, 2011 (12:11 AM). Edited September 6th, 2011 by Cutlerine.
Gone. May or may not return.
The Misspelled Cyrpt
Chapter Three: In Which the Long Arm of the Law is Found to Extend to Sinnoh
. Codename: Looker. Place of residence:
is one of our most
workers, possessing as he does admirable
of many languages and remarkable powers of
. There are a
relating to the
—International Police, Personnel Files
“OK, Pearl,” I told myself, placing Stephanie's notebook on the table in front of me and giving it a stern look. “You can do this. Just sit down, open the book and copy everything out.”
I took a deep breath. This was going to be one of those afternoons that required an iron will to keep under control.
“Pen – check. Paper – check. Studious attitude... OK, well, let's start and hope that that one comes with time.”
I opened Stephanie's notebook and read the first sentence, pen poised above my pad of paper.
“'In 1887, Nietzsche found out abou—' oh
, this is dull.” I slumped forwards, and my head thumped gently into the desk. Just as swiftly, though, I jerked upright again. “No! Must study! Right. 'Nietzsche found out about the work of by this point, Pearl, you've probably got really bored, but stick with it.'” I paused and re-read the sentence, confused. “How did she
?” I wondered.
Stephanie's message actually had the opposite of its intended effect; I wasted five minutes wondering how she'd known that I’d get bored at exactly that moment before remembering that I was meant to be copying her notes out. There followed ten minutes of furious scribbling, and then I started thinking about Ashley, Iago and Eterna.
I wondered if they'd left already. How long did it take to get to Eterna? Would they be there already? What would they find? A swirling mess of gangster movies whirled through my head: a long black car, a smoking gun, a man with a cigar, Marlon Brando...
“I have to do the essay,” I told myself. “Ashley doesn't want you there anyway. You'll get in the way.” I forced myself to write another couple of sentences. “Maybe I’ll go and check to see if they've gone yet,” I said. “You know, just go to their house, see if they changed their minds.” I stared at the page for a moment. “I mean, you never know. Maybe I
help after all. Yeah. I should check. Besides, this can wait a while. Can't it?”
Once those last two sentences had passed my lips, I couldn't have stopped if I’d wanted to. By the time my pen hit the desk, I was already halfway down the hall, shouldering my bag and hoping the door was locked.
“Where to?” asked the taxi driver. It seemed he wasn't unduly bothered by Iago's presence, which was refreshing.
“Dürer Station,” replied Ashley.
“Via the Conucom on Donatello Road,” added Iago. “I need to get some money out.”
“All right,” replied the cabbie, and the taxi started to move off.
Silence fell between Ashley and Iago for a while; then, Iago asked:
“Why didn't you tell her you know the name of the organisation?”
“Because I probably wouldn't have been able to convince her to stay here if I had.”
“Does she need to?”
“I went to her apartment. I’ve seen her essays. Believe me, she needs to stay here and work if she ever wants to graduate.”
“Right, right. Shall I start searching for 'Galactic' again?”
“If you would.”
In the lines of work Ashley and Iago pursued, one on either side of the law, the ability of total recall, common to all Kadabra, was a useful one. The only downside was that Iago had, over the years, filled his mind with so much information that it took him a while to sift through it all.
“Hey, did you know that Gardenia Willis has been engaged fourteen times?”
“I don't really care, Iago. Just focus on looking for 'Galactic'.”
Another silence. This one lasted until they got to the bank, where Iago got out, produced a wallet from somewhere in his enormously fluffy tail and took out a large quantity of Pokédollars before getting back in.
“There,” he said. “Now on to Dürer Station.”
“Right,” replied the cabbie amiably, and drove on.
“I've never come across any organisation called Galactic.”
"Ah. Well, I'm sure they'll reveal themselves in the fullness of time."
"If you say so," replied Iago. "If you say so."
I’d just got to the end of the road when I noticed a weird guy in a brown coat darting furtively from lamppost to lamppost, as if he could hide behind them; natural curiosity overcame my desire to get to Ashley's house, and I walked up to him and asked him what he was doing.
“Ah!” he cried, with a strong French accent. “You have discovered me! But please, tell me, how did you know I was actually a globe-trotting elite of the International Police?”
“Um... I didn't,” I answered. “I just thought you looked weird.”
The man gave me an inscrutable sort of look.
“Ah, you say this,” he said. “But you, you are hiding the truth! Your perception is remarkable; you spotted me right away for what I really am!”
“If you say so,” I replied, realising that I was probably dealing with a lunatic. “Look, I won't bother you any further, I’ll just leave—”
“No, no. Do not leave just yet.” The man fumbled in his pocket and drew out a photograph. “My name is... ah, no, I shall inform you of my code name only. I am Looker.”
By now, as you can imagine, I was really regretting talking to him. That's the problem with being impulsive; half the things you do end up making things worse for you.
“OK, I’m Pearl. I really do need to go—”
“I have not yet told you why I am here. Look at this photograph. Have you seen this woman?”
He held it up, and to get rid of him I had a quick look – and then froze. I knew who that was. Sure, her hair was long and brown there rather than short and turquoise, but I knew her. It was Liza.
“Ah, I see you have seen her,” Looker said. “Tell me, where was she?”
“She shot someone last night,” I told him, staring at the photo. “But today I saw her near the Albert Warner General Hospital. She's working for some criminal organisation.”
“Indeed!” cried Looker. “Well, if you see her again, you must contact me.” He drew a business card from his pocket and handed it to me. “It is of the utmost importance that she gets put behind bars!”
“Why? Who is she?”
“I am not sure,” he replied candidly. “Her real name, it is uncertain. What does she call herself now?”
-zaaaaa.” He rolled the word around his mouth a little, found he liked the flavour and nodded deeply. “Thank you.”
“What's she done?” I asked. “Why is the International Police after her?”
“That much, I cannot say right now,” Looker said self-importantly. “She is a very dangerous woman.”
“OK.” I looked at his business card. “Hang on. Where's your phone number?”
“Right here.” He indicated what I thought had been a barcode.
“But it's all ones,” I pointed out. “That's not a real number.”
“11111 111111,” he said. “It is a secret number. You must use it when you see this Liza again, yes!”
I was no longer entirely certain that he was a member of the International Police – there was a mental asylum on the other side of town, and he could have escaped from there – but I smiled, nodded and finally made my escape.
“Do not forget to call!” he cried after my retreating back. I started walking faster. “No, not because I am lonely – of course not. It is because of Liza!”
I broke into a run, rounded the corner and hurried along to the Waverley subway station.
“I am never calling that guy,” I muttered, waiting for the train. “Never, ever,
. It's not even a real number.”
The train arrived, I got on and fifteen minutes later I was walking down Baker Street, trying to remember which house had been Ashley's. I had the funny feeling it might have been 221B, but there didn't seem to be one with that number; maybe I was thinking of someone else.
After a while I knocked on a door and asked the person who answered where Ashley Lacrimére lived; she told me that he was four doors down on the other side of the road, at number 17, but that she'd seen him leave a while ago in a taxi. I thanked her, thought, and decided that he was probably going to the closest major train station, which would be Dürer. He didn't seem like the type to travel by bus; in my mind's eye, I saw him in a first-class carriage, photographs, bloodstained scraps of cloth and other pieces of evidence spread out across a table. Yeah, that was how Ashley would travel.
I shook myself out of my reverie and headed back to the subway station. I had a detective to catch.
The cab driver watched Ashley and Iago as they walked across the square and into the train station; he even kept an eye on the entrances for a minute longer, to make sure they didn't come out again.
“OK Liza,” he said into his mobile phone. “They're definitely taking the train.”
Apparently, there'd been some accident at Dürer Station, so I couldn't ride the subway all the way there; I had to get off at the stop before and walk the rest. When I got there, I found the whole place cordoned off with reams of yellow police tape, and a restless crowd gathered all around it while desperate policeman tried to tell them that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Since this was so obviously a lie, it was just making everyone even more determined to get in, and I got the feeling that a battle was about to begin.
Being the experienced denizen of inner-city Jubilife that I was, I knew how to get through a semi-violent crowd without getting hurt. (Here's a hint: it helps to be young, female and pretty.) Soon, I was at the front, and asking a policeman what was happening.
“Absolutely nothing to worry about,” he told me. “Absolutely—”
At that moment, there was a colossal
and a wave of fire rolled out of the front doors of the station.
“—nothing to worry about,” the cop finished, somewhat weakly.
“What's going on?” yelled a man standing next to me. “What the hell was that?”
“I believe it's called an explosion,” replied the policeman. “But look, it was only a little one, there's nothing to be worried about—”
A second burst of fire came out of a ground-floor window.
“Jesus Christ, how many of them are there?” screamed someone from behind me.
I sensed a riot coming now, and since I had other things to do than join in, I started to make my way back out of the crowd; as I went, I passed people taking out flick-knives and coshes. Yes, there was definitely a riot on the way. I popped out of the back of the mob and walked off, thinking.
If Dürer Station had been bombed, I thought, then it was possible that Ashley and Iago had been caught up in it. I bit my lip. I didn't particularly like either of them, but that didn’t mean I wanted them dead – and they were, from what both they and D.I. Rennet had said, the only people in the city capable of solving this mystery before I ended up dead.
A group of people rushed past me, bricks in their hands; from Dürer Square, I could hear the sounds of violence. I actually kind of wanted to go back and participate – riots in Sinnoh are usually quite fun, and only a couple of people ever get seriously injured – but I had to find out what had happened to Ashley and Iago first.
Then again, I
go and riot. It's actually our non-official national sport, and I’m quite good at it; I rioted for one of the university teams. It's also a community event, like a football match in Europe or civil war in Kanto; it's a good place to meet friends and have fun with like-minded people.
No! I shook my head. Sure, most of my friends would probably be at the riot – but there'd be another one next week. It wouldn't hurt to miss it, and I had important things to do now. I dragged my eyes away from a man running towards the station with a metal pipe in his hands, and kept walking.
Where would Ashley go if he hadn't gone to Dürer Station, I wondered. Would he—
“Pearl! What the hell are you doing here?”
I stopped dead and looked right. There, leaning out of an alleyway, was Iago.
“I could ask you the very same question,” I said.
“No, you couldn't,” he replied. “Think about it. The train station we were going to was bombed, so we left. The police saw Ashley and asked him to tell them the how, why and who about the bombing. I can't go near the police because of my history, so I hid over here.” He shivered. “I don't like riots, anyway. I always get squashed.”
I could believe it. He couldn't have weighed more than eighty pounds; he was so light and frail that he might as well have been made of tissue paper.
“Well?” he demanded. “What the hell are you doing here? You're meant to be studying.”
“I came to see how you guys were getting along,” I replied defensively. “Nothing wrong with that, is there?”
“Ashley won't be pleased,” Iago said.
“Well, screw Ashley. This is my life and I’m coming too.” I’m not sure I could have said that to Ashley, but Iago wasn't nearly as intimidating. I felt better for saying it, too – I’d got it out in the open, and it helped to focus my mind: I was going to help, and no one was going to stop me. Not even Ashley.
“Fine,” snapped Iago. “You wait here with me and tell
that. Then we'll see how far you get.”
I stepped into his alleyway – the riot police were coming down the street now – and leaned against the opposite wall to him. There was an awkward silence for a while, punctuated only by the sound of rioters having a fun time without me, and, desperate to break it, I ended up saying:
“So... Iago. That's an interesting name.”
Iago gave me a weird look.
“Is it a Kadabra name?” I asked.
“Jesus, you are dumb,” he replied. “Kadabra don't have names, they have thought patterns.”
“I'm not dumb,” I protested.
“I think you probably are,” Iago said. “Let me guess: underneath that blue dye, your hair is blonde, isn't it?”
“Not all blondes are stupid!”
“No,” agreed Iago. “I apologise for my generalisation. Let me rephrase: all
“That's a worse generalisation,” I pointed out. “And anyway, what about Ashley? Is he stupid too?”
Iago paused, and I mentally punched the air in victory. I’d beaten him.
“Ashley,” he said quietly, “is different. He is different from all of you.”
Something told me not to pursue that line of conversation any further, so I changed the subject.
“Uh... Anyway, how did you know my hair was blonde?” I asked.
“I didn't,” Iago replied. “It was just an insult that happened to be true.” He smiled, which displayed an unnerving number of fangs. “I love it when that happens.”
“I guess,” I said uncertainly, thinking just how much I
speaking to Kadabra.
“Iago is the name of a villain in a play,” he said abruptly. “He's cunning, manipulative, and crafty. All attributes that I cultivate in myself.”
“Why?” I felt that that was the question I had to ask if I was going to get anywhere with Iago. Why did he hate everything so much? Most Kadabra at least tolerated humans, so what made him different? What made him
to be a villain?
I got no answer, though, because Ashley wandered past right then, glanced into the alley, and groaned.
doing here?” he asked despairingly. “Miss Gideon—”
“Pearl, I was under the impression that you had work to do.”
“Yeah, I do. But I figured that protecting my life and figuring out who wants to kill me and why was more important.”
Ashley glared at me.
“Go home,” he said. “I don't need or want your help.”
“No,” I replied stubbornly. “I'm going to help you, whether you like it or not.”
Iago watched this exchange with the detached interest of a naturalist watching two beetles fighting to the death.
Ashley opened his mouth, and then closed it again. I don't think he was used to people not doing what he wanted.
“Don't tell me I can't come,” I said warningly. “Because I’m coming.”
“I...” He sighed. “Fine. Come with us, then.”
“Yes!” I hissed under my breath. Then, aloud: “Good. I’m glad we've come to an agreement.”
“Right,” Ashley said. “Come with me, then. Iago, meet us at the bus depot in an hour.”
“The cops want you?”
He nodded, and Iago slunk off.
“OK, Pearl,” Ashley said, turning to me. “You can come with me. Just don't touch anything or say anything foolish. In fact, don't say anything at all.”
“Where are we going?” I asked, willing to overlook the insult in my excitement.
“Back to Dürer Station,” he replied. “Liza and Tristan just tried to kill me.”
“Aw,” said Tristan, looking into the yellow capsule from his Kinder Egg with an air of deep disappointment. “The toy's a boat. I hate the boats.”
“Shut up,” replied Liza, chewing her knuckle and watching the smoke curl out of the station windows.
“You don't understand,” Tristan said. “The boats aren't even any fun to build. Their sails are really annoying.”
And he hurled the capsule and assorted plastic components out of the window of the cab and onto the ground.
Liza, however, had bigger problems than unwanted toys.
“Oh, cal,” she breathed. “How the hell did they manage that?”
“What – oh,” said Tristan, seeing it. “That
For there were Ashley Lacrimére and Pearl Gideon, walking into Dürer Station – and very much alive.
“Quiet, you,” hissed Tristan. “How...?”
“I don't know,” replied Liza. “But I think we might have come up against a very smart opponent here.”
“Look, we failed. It doesn't matter, there's nothing connecting us to the crime, right?” Tristan asked. “So we can just try again later. As long as they never get to the base in Eterna, no one will know.”
“You're right,” agreed Liza. “Let's get further away from this riot and think of a plan.”
“Taxi!” cried someone, walking up to them; Tristan was too slow to react, and the man managed to get in the back of the cab.
“Northvale, please,” he said, “and step—”
“Get out,” ordered Liza.
“You heard her, get out,” said Tristan. “I'm... off duty.”
“Oh,” said the man. “Can't you just—?”
“No,” replied Liza brusquely. “Now get out before we make you get out.”
The man said something unprintable and left the car; the Croagunk croaked belligerently at him as he left, and waved one poison-drenched fist.
“I told you to be quiet,” snapped Tristan, and the Croagunk ceased his warlike gestures, abashed. “Now do up your seatbelt.”
The Croagunk shook his head.
“Do it or I’ll recall you.”
Liza turned around and gave the Croagunk a look; it had the desired effect, and in a second, the little Pokémon had buckled his seatbelt.
“There we go,” said Tristan. “That wasn't so hard. Liza, are you going to do up your— ow, OK, I guess you're not.”
“Life's too short for seatbelts,” Liza replied.
“It'll be even shorter without them,” muttered Tristan.
“Just drive before someone else tries to get us to take them somewhere.”
And they drove off, just as someone else called out for a taxi, and was sorely disappointed.
“Ashley!” cried D.I. Rennet. “Where did you go?”
“I told you, I needed to speak to my associate,” he said tersely. “Look, here she is.”
“Miss Gideon?” Rennet looked as if his head were about to fall apart like a chocolate orange.
“My new... assistant,” Ashley told him, with obvious distaste. “Shall we go back inside?”
We were just outside Dürer station, having made our way past the riot; it was a fairly small and pathetic one, probably because it was still early, and it's really a night-time activity. From what I could see through the remnants of the fancy glass doors, the inside of the building had borne the blasts surprisingly well.
“I wish more citizens would solve their own crimes,” Rennet told me admiringly. “That'd be really helpful.”
I stared at him for a moment, and then followed Ashley through the wreckage of the doors.
Inside, the station was fairly unharmed; it was just a little scorched around the edges. The same couldn't be said of the trains, however: two of them were smoking husks, and the others had tipped over with the force of the explosion. Since trains aren't meant to be tipped over, they hadn't taken that too well, to say the least.
“Ashley,” I said, eyes wide, “what happened?”
“Do you remember I told you that Liza and Tristan tried to kill me?” he asked quietly, striding over to the nearest wreck. A few men and women were poking around it in a desultory sort of way, but seemed to be making little headway.
“I noticed that the taxi driver that brought us here was Tristan in disguise. Since he didn’t attempt to kill us in the car, I assumed he was there to decide where we were departing from to reach Eterna. Iago and I went into the station and left by the Dome Street exit; a few minutes later, the train departed, and then it exploded.”
“You think Tristan and Liza blew up an entire passenger train just to kill you?”
“Two trains,” Ashley replied. “There were two that went via Eterna. And they weren't trying to just kill Iago and I.”
Ashley halted next to the wrecked train.
“They probably thought you would come with us,” he told me. “They wanted to get you too.”
Before I had a chance to absorb this information, someone called out:
“Ashley! Where did you go?”
“I went to fetch my assistant,” he said, turning to face the SOCO people who were poking around the train wreck. “Here she is. Miss Pearl Gideon, an expert on explosives.”
This claim had the effect of distracting me from the fact that someone had just tried to kill me fairly instantaneously.
“What?” I said, but people were already nodding and welcoming me, and – most terrifyingly, asking what I thought about the situation.
“I – I need to have a closer look at the wreck,” I announced, casting a dirty look at Ashley, who nodded and smiled.
With everyone looking at me, I walked as confidently as I could over to the place where the train's door had once been, and peered inside. There wasn't much in there; if there had been any passengers, they seemed to have ceased to exist when the bomb went off. I tried hard not to think about that; these SOCO people thought I was an explosives expert, and I didn't really know how to back out of this situation now without looking really, really stupid.
“Gelignite,” someone whispered to me, and I leaped on the word like a pouncing Luxray.
“Gelignite,” I proclaimed, straightening up. “They used gelignite.” I hoped to God that my assumption that gelignite was an explosive was correct.
“Really?” asked a man standing nearby. “How can you tell?”
“Boiled potatoes,” the person whispered again. I looked around surreptitiously, but couldn't work out who was talking.
“Boiled potatoes,” I said knowledgeably, and suddenly realised that I could, in fact, smell boiled potatoes. “I, er, can you smell it?”
“Yes,” said one of the SOCO women. “I – oh, of course! The taggant!”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding sagely. “The taggant.”
“So we're looking for someone who purchases their gelignite from within the country,” Ashley said. “Thank you, Pearl. You've been very helpful.” He nodded to the (possibly superfluous) SOCO team, took me by the arm, and led me away, towards D.I. Rennet.
“What the hell?” I hissed furiously at him. “Why did you do that?”
“If you couldn't handle that, you should go home now,” he replied mildly. “Besides, I can't see what you're complaining about. Didn't I help you out?”
“You were the one giving me the answers?”
“What the hell?” I hissed again. “And what the hell is a tagga— oh my God, the lunatic's here.”
For there, talking to Rennet, was the weird Frenchman who'd accosted me earlier in the street: the man who claimed to come from the International Police, Looker.
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For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click
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