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Roleplay Corner The realm where writers gather to create glorious tales or silly drama together and chronicle their adventures. Start or join roleplays featuring Pokémon, other franchises or something completely original!
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  #26    
Old August 19th, 2012, 12:44 PM
The warden's Avatar
The warden
I'm back!
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Standing at the edge of the world! Thinking let's jump off!
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed
One Line: Hopefully [K]

E
very
person in competition will incur niceness!
  #27    
Old August 19th, 2012, 11:11 PM
Frazzevous's Avatar
Frazzevous
I wanna build a snowman~
Community Supporter Tier 1
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sunset-lit flower paradise
Gender: Female
Nature: Bashful
One-Line: Love

"No one in this world is alive without love in their hearts."
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  #28    
Old August 20th, 2012, 08:00 AM
Magic's Avatar
Magic
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: UK
Age: 23
Gender: Male

Crash Course


Escape | Rated: T

Sweat dripped from the young boys brow, he tossed and turned as he his sleep became more and more troubled. He grew uncomfortable, confined, and with one last kick his blanket fell to the floor with a massive thump.

The boy sat bolt-upright, the nightmare coming to an abrupt end. The room around him was not what he had expected, his eyes wide in shock as the realisation sunk in. He had been taken. Hands covered in dirt, clothes giving off a disgusting smell, he figured he must have been here a while - but why was he only realising this now?

The room, his cell, was a dull metal box. Several other beds framed the floor, all equally rusted and minimalistic, but they were all empty, he was definitely alone.

A gentle beep cut through the silence, drawing the boys attention away from his drifting thoughts of horror and towards the lit-up panel guarding the doorway. A small digital image of a thermometer was flashing, the accompanying number slowly rising, 35.0oc... 35.1oc... 35.2oc... The temperature was rising, even the metal walls seemed to be radiating heat.

In the reflection of the panel, the boy saw the culprit. The burning vortex of the sun was much bigger than he was used to, even though such a small window, but it was unmistakable. Peering outside, he saw that the situation was even more dire - fluid leaked from the ship, trailing off in an odd spiral pattern towards The Sun. Pressing his ear to the hot, thick glass he could just make out the strained creaking of the ship, fighting the gravitational pull of the colossal star. He needed to get out, quickly.

Running back to the panel, he looked for a way to open the heavy steel door. To his surprise all it took was a simple button, the unlocked door slowly slid open, revealing the inner sanctum of the spaceship. The boy gawped, stumbling forward out of his room and in to the giant ring corridor of the ship. He could see all the way around the floor, as well as up in to the spherical rooftop of the spacecraft. From the size he thought there could be hundreds or thousands or others, however, there was nothing but silence.

He was lost on what to do, with no idea where to go or what he could use to escape the boy had no option than to go to the most eye-catching place - the central shaft. Connected by seemingly thin, glass bridges the centre column could be accessed from any floor - a steady pulsing light travelled up and down the shaft repeatedly, the boy quickly made his way over to discover why.

As he ran to the centre he found eight circular discs, scattered around the floor. The curious shapes glowed the same colour as the light he'd seen further away. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath - stepping forward on to one of the circular panels. Nothing. Or so he thought.

Upon opening his eyes he realised how naive he'd been, for something had definitely happened. He now stood in a cramped room, full of large machines and flashing lights. The windows were laced with huge LCD screens, each showing an image or playing a looped video. Again, the room was abandoned, but something on one of the screens caught the boy's eye.

"... It was me?" he whispered. A sinister smile crept on to his face, the playback slowly becoming reality as he stared at himself on the screen.

Gun in hand, the boy crept up on the captain - who was riffling through the controls in an attempt to control the damage. The busy man hadn't noticed the muffled grunts of his subordinates as they fell to the floor. Over the static of the video and the wailing of the alarm, he could just be heard shouting down the intercom, "Find him!"

Those were the captain's final words.

Only two hours before had the system gone berserk; shields, gravity and oxygen all going into flux simultaneously. The culprit, a 9 year old boy who had been contained within the psychosis ward. The sudden carnage and chaos didn't leave much time for investigation, before the station became critical everyone was evacuated, leaving only the boy and the bodies of the dead.
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  #29    
Old August 20th, 2012, 05:09 PM
Necrum's Avatar
Necrum
I'm not evil, I'm morally challenged
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Nature: Adamant
World Unknown
Sci-Fi/Fantasy [K]
Spoiler:
August 20, 2052
They tell me that I will lead humanity into a new era. The first man to travel to another habitable planet. I wonder if they’re right. I have never done anything spectacular in my entire life. But, I guess that’s why they chose me. No family, no friends. Just work. The perfect test subject for such a project. They plan to put me to sleep until I reach the new colony. I will only need to maintain the computers after I land. Occasionally being woken up to alter numbers. Anyone I do know will be dead by the time I get there. It’s kind of sad, but I’ll be fine.

October 12, 2052
I’ve seen the heavens, and they are beautiful. It’s almost a shame that I’ll have to crawl into that pod once I pass the moon. I said my goodbyes to my coworkers. They all seemed really excited to know the man who would pioneer a new path for our race. I can’t say I share their enthusiasm. But the view sure is beautiful. I can’t see the earth because there are no windows in the back of the ship. But the moon has never been so big. And the stars are incredibly clear. My ship has a few rooms in it. The cockpit has the biggest window, and a single seat surrounded by a myriad of controls that I don’t know how to use, accept for emergencies. Most of the ship’s functions can be accessed through the computer console in the middle. There is a small bathroom in the back of the ship. Nothing special, unless you count the bars on either side to hold yourself down. The ship doesn’t have it’s own gravity. On the left hand side you have the living space. There’s a kitchen and various foods to keep me from getting bored of eating the same thing all the time. It’s still freeze dried. The room also comes equipped with games and hobbies to keep me entertained when I’m not working or sleeping. On the right is the Pod Room. That’s where I’ll spend most of my time. I’m going to pass the moon again, so I better wrap this up and enjoy the view before it’s gone.

April 17, 2099
I got an early wake up call this morning. Turns out, my ship is off course. The equipment on Earth was very carefully calibrated to my intended trajectory, but now I’m going to fall out of that range in just a few short hours. I’ll be all on my own. Just me, and the cold blackness of space.

July 4, 2142
My ship passed a star today. It’s programmed to wake me if the temperature rises too much so I can make sure I don’t get caught in the wrong gravitational pull. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked to anyone, though it only feels like a few days since I left Earth. I wonder what will happen to me out here.

March 15, 2572
I had to force a crash landing today. The ship detected a planet nearby with a viable atmosphere. The fuel was getting low due to the fact that this ship was never meant to travel this far. The landscape is like something out of a science fiction movie. The colors are very cold, mostly consisting of blues and purples. There is what seems to be a forest of some kind out a ways from the ship. The computer is still running an analysis of the atmosphere, checking for toxins. I tried to play some of the games on board, but the crash broke the TV. Found a pack of cards though, and a book with every type of solitaire you can imagine. It’s certainly better than nothing.

March 16, 2572
The computer has decided that the atmosphere is safe enough to venture outside. I went to explore the forest nearby. The plants were so bizarre that I can’t even describe them. I’m not even sure it’s worth it. This journal may never be found. And even if it is, anyone reading it can see them right outside. There is noticeably no wildlife. This planet must be young. I think my best bet is to leave it all to chance on this unknown world. I’m going to sleep again. I’m to be awoken when either my ship can’t maintain me, or if I’m finally found.

August 20, 4052
At least that’s what the clock says. It probably stopped ages ago. I woke to a most unusual sight. Life. Almost humanoid, but not quite. They have elongated limbs, and a large round body, and light purple skin. It seems my ship has become an exhibit. A whole city has been built around me. I guess no one is coming for me. I’m going to leave the ship for the last time soon. Perhaps I can live with them, even learn to communicate in time. This is all so surreal. The pod made years feel like days. I guess I have no choice but to continue living on a world unknown.
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  #30    
Old August 20th, 2012, 06:19 PM
gunnerpow7's Avatar
gunnerpow7
☆ キレイハナ Kireihana ☆
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Floaroma Town, Sinnoh
Age: 16
Gender: Female
Nature: Sassy
Love Transcends Anything

Rating: T | Genre: Romance | Alternate Universe | Leading Male: Prince Chris Gramenia | Leading Female: Princess Taylor Petruvia | Supporting Male: King Jake Gramenia | Supporting Female: Queen Shay Petruvia | Antagonists: King Matthew Petruvia III ; Lord Mark Sorcia ; Lady Evelyn Gorcea




In the medieval period of the world, there was a region that were fought by two superpower kingdoms that ruled most of the region. At the west, Kingdom Petruvia stands which is led by King Matthew Petruvia III and Queen Shay Petruvia. At the east, Kingdom Gramenia rules that part of the region which is led by King Jake Gramenia and Queen Solana Gramenia. Both kingdoms bore one successor to the throne. In Kingdom Petruvia, we have Princess Taylor Petruvia, and in Kingdom Gramenia, we have Prince Chris Gramenia, both 18 years of age. Princess Taylor Petruvia has a radiant skin tone, with her slightly auburn hair flows from her head till at the midpoint wherein it curls until to the bottom, wearing a beautiful blue gown that captures her sapphire eyes. Prince Chris Gramenia has a fair complexion with dark chocolate eyes as pure as his mother's eyes but as strong as his father's eyes. He wears an elegant green suit that defines Kingdom Gramenia as a whole. Both of them wear their crown that symbolizes their respective kingdom.

This is a story about love and sacrifices. This particular event will change and define the two kingdoms forever.

On a particular sunny morning in the land of Petruvia, Princess Taylor woke up from a deep slumber.

"Hmmm. Time to get up." The princess said as she lazily stood up and went to her bathroom to freshen up.

On the other side of the region, this time in the land of Gramenia, Prince Chris also woke up just like Princess Taylor did.

"*yawn*... Okay, let's get moving!" The Gramenian Prince said while energetically stood up and got ready for today's activities.

In Castle Petruvia, The princess finished her morning rituals and went downstairs to eat her breakfast. At the dining hall, her eyes fell upon her parents, the royal couple of Kingdom Petruvia, King Matthew and Queen Shay.

"Good morning Mother, Good morning Father, how are you this fine day?" The princess asked while she sat near her parents and started eating a croissant.

"We're fine, my child." Queen Shay said before taking another bite of her scrambled egg.

"Taylor, Lord Mark wants to see you in Ravida later. Do you want to take the Royal Carriage?" The King asked his daughter after he took a bite from his bread. Lord Mark was actually Princess Taylor's "fiancé". The princess hated Lord Mark. But if she wishes to be the next queen of her kingdom, she must marry him to ascend to the throne.

"I think a carriage and maybe 3 guards will suffice for me to prevent attracting attention." The Petruvian Princess said smartly. She didn't know that this decision will change her life and her kingdom forever.

Ravida was located near the border of Petruvia and Gramenia. Because of this, it had become the town wherein the leaders of both kingdoms handle relations to each other. However, since the two kingdoms are currently feuding with each other, Ravida isn't much as lively as the years before.

Meanwhile, at Castle Gramenia, Prince Chris went to the dining hall for breakfast. As the doors open, the prince's eyes gazed upon his parents, the royal couple of Kingdom Gramenia, King Jake Gramenia and Queen Solana Gramenia.

"Good Morning Mother, Good Morning Father, Isn't it a lovely day?" The Gramenian Prince asked while sitting near to his parents and sipping from his juice.

"Why, yes it is my son!" Queen Solana said before taking another sip from her soup.

"So, have you got any plans for today, Chris?" King Jake asked his son after he took a sip from his coffee.

"Well, Lady Evelyn wants to talk to me in Excalestes after breakfast. I don't know why though. I mean, she is my best friend and all but meeting her in Excalestes seems a little weird... Oh well... Time to go! See you later Father, Mother." The Prince said while finishing his juice and went to his horse and went on his way. Lady Evelyn was actually Prince Chris' bestfriend. She and him used to play every day in the castle when they were young. Nowadays, she just visits from time to time. Like Princess Taylor, Prince Chris must find a bride if he wants to ascend to the throne.

Excalestes is the 3rd largest city in Kingdom Gramenia. Excalestes was actually near to Ravida. Because of this, Excalestes was more known as the Entry Point Of Kingdom Gramenia.

Meanwhile, on the way to Ravida, Princess Taylor bade farewell to her parents and went on her way with her 3 guards and her carriage. Since the road to Ravida was about 23 kilometers from the Castle, it was a long ride. About halfway through the path, Bandits from out of nowhere suddenly attacked the carriage.

"Hya!" "Wahoo!" "Yeah!" The bandits fought the guards head on. Due to the situation, Princess Taylor kept quiet to avoid being noticed. Unfortunately, the guards were defeated and the bandits took the carriage along with Princess Taylor.

The bandits went south as it passed Ravida and Excalestes. Somewhere along the trip, one of the bandits however managed to get into the carriage and found Princess Taylor. She, however screamed for help and tried to kick the bandit as hard as she could to prevent the bandit from hurting her.

Meanwhile, on the road to Excalestes, Prince Chris heard cries of help and soon enough, a carriage sped through the woods and passed the prince. He raced to the carriage and soon enough, he reached to the driver and punched the bandit to the face.

The driver lost balance and fell to the ground. The carriage was then put to a halt. Prince Chris then opened the door and pulled the bandit out of the carriage. Prince Chris then punched the bandit into his gut and threw him to the woods.

He checks inside the carriage and what he saw was indescribable.

Princess Taylor's reaction was also the same. Both of the royalties just looked at each other while both of them slightly blushing and their mouths agape.

"Uhh... Are you alright milady?" Prince Chris broke the silence.

"Uhh... Yes. I'm fine, good sir." Princess Taylor thanked the kind noble. Somehow, strange feelings had just occurred somewhere inside her body but she can't somehow explain it.

"Um, kind sir, can I ask where am I? I was supposed to go to Ravida before my carriage was hijacked." The Petruvian Princess asked The Gramenian Prince.

"Well, you're just at the outskirts o- Wait. Are you from the Kingdom of Petruvia, milady?" The prince asked her slightly shocked.

"Why? Am I in the Kingdom of Gramenia, good sir?" It was the princess' turn to ask.

"Well, you're just at the outskirts of Excalestes, so that means you're in the Kingdom of Gramenia." The prince calmly explained.

"Oh no! My dad is going to lock me in the dungeon if he knows I got in Gramenian soil." The princess went hysterical after that.

"It's okay, milady. You know what, I'll take you to Ravida. I don't really care if I get caught or anything." The prince suggested.

"Are you sure? I mean, you just rescued me, I think it's a bit too much if you escort me to Ravida." The princess said with a hint of concern.

"Oh, it's nothing. I want to help." The prince said with concern.

"Ummm.. Okay. Let's go!" The Petruvian Princess said with glee.

As they ride to Ravida, a question popped up on the princess' mind.

"Good sir, may I please ask your name?" The princess asked.

"My name is Prince Chris Gramenia of Kingdom Gramenia." The prince said modestly.

"Really?" The princess was really shocked!

"So his name is Prince Chris? What a beautiful name... Wait, what am I thinking? He's of Gramenian descent. I shouldn't even talk to him... But, his eyes.. Ugh!" The princess fought with herself.

"Umm, milady?"

"Umm, yes?" The princess stopped her train of thought.

"May I ask your beautifu- I mean your name?" Prince Chris stuttered.

"Well, I'm Princess Taylor Petruvia of Kingdom Petruvia." The princess said sheepishly.

"What?! She's the princess of Petruvia?! Even though, her hair does flow really nice with the wi- Wait. what am I saying? She's not my kind. But still, her face... Darn it..." The prince also faced a similar dilemma.

By the time they know it, they already arrived at Ravida.

"Here you go, Princess." The prince said while helping her get down from the horse.

"Thank you, Prince Chris!" The princess said thankfully.

"Please, call me Chris." He said gesturingly.

"Thank you Chris! Well, I must get going." The princess said.

"Wait, princess!" Chris hollered.

"Please, Chris, call me Taylor. Well, what is it?" Taylor asked Chris.

"Ummm... Can I see you again? Maybe tomorrow?" Chris asked with a tinge of blush forming from his face.

"Ummm... Sure! That be great! Well, I'll see you tomorrow?" Taylor asked Chris with also the same blush forming from her face.

Unbeknownst to them, two figures from different places saw the event and are planning something sinister. Very sinister.




After that fateful encounter, Princess Taylor and Prince Chris spent every day with each other, either going to Ravida or Excalestes, having fun like the fighting of their kingdoms were oblivious to them. Unfortunately, two people had enough of this foolishness and went to the castle of their respective kingdoms.

At Castle Petruvia:

The male mystery figure enters the chambers of the throne while bowing down to the king and queen.

"Your majesty, I have news about your daughter. Very bad news." The mystery figure informed the royal couple.

"What is it, Lord Mark Sorcia? Is she injured?" King Matthew exclaimed.

"No, Your Majesty... It's much worse!" Lord Mark said while smirking under his breath.

At Castle Gramenia:

This time, the female mystery figure enters the throne room while bowing down to the royal couple.

"Your majesty, I received word about Prince Chris that you should know about." The mystery figure said.

"What is it, Lady Evelyn Gorcea? Is my son in danger?" King Jake asked.

"No, Your Majesty. But this is more urgent than anything." Lady Evelyn exclaimed while also smirking under her breath.

In the Outskirts of Ravida and Excalestes:

"That was fun, Chris! I hope we do that again next time!" Taylor said excitedly.

"I know, Taylor. The fun part is when the guy stumbled on the wood..." Chris said while chuckling.

"Thanks for everything, Chris." Taylor thanked Chris.

"Don't mention it, Taylor." Chris said to Taylor.

Their eyes just stared at each other, their faces slowly inch towards each other, slowly closed their eyes, and their lips met for the first time. The kiss lasted for 10 seconds but for them, it felt like an hour. Unfortunately, they had to part for air.

"I love you Chris." Taylor said truthfully.

"I love you too Taylor." Chris said it with compassion.

Chris then took Taylor to Ravida since he can't venture out to other parts of Petruvia.

"Bye Taylor!" Chris exclaimed.

"Bye Chris!" Taylor hollered back.

So the two lovebirds split for the day. Unbeknownst to the two of them, they will receive shocking news when they arrive at their castles.

At Castle Petruvia:

"Mother, Father, I'm home!" Princess Taylor hollered but the sound of angry footsteps echoed the halls of the castle.

Soon, King Matthew stormed in, furious. Queen Shay tried to calm him down, but to no avail.

"You! We raised you well, fed you right, and you repay us by being with that, that, Gramenian Prince?!?!" The king furiously shouted.

"B-bu-but..." The Petruvian Princess was at loss for words. For starters, how did the king managed to know the secret?

"From now on, I forbid you to see him!" The king continued.

"What, that's unfair! Father, you don't understand, I LOVE HIM!!! Oops." Princess Taylor snapped but quickly shut her mouth but it was too late.

"WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! That's IT! I HAVE ENOUGH OF YOUR INSOLENCE. FROM NOW ON, YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO EXIT YOUR OWN ROOM!" The King said furiously as he commanded all of the generals to prepare for war.

The princess just wept as she went to her room. Her mother quickly followed.

Meanwhile, at Castle Gramenia:

“Mother, Father, I’m home!” Prince Chris hollered as King Jake went towards the Gramenian Prince.

“Son, we need to talk.” The king said as the two of them went to Prince Chris’ chambers.

“What is it, Father?” The prince asked.

“We know all about you and the Petruvian Princess.” The King explained.

“What? So, that’s why Father was so bent out of shape.” Back at Castle Petruvia, Princess Taylor and Queen Shay also talked to each other about the problem at hand.

“Yes, my child. You know, I was once had a relationship with the King of Gramenia when we were your age.” The queen smiled at that thought.

“Really, Father? You once had a relationship with the Queen of Petruvia?!?” The Gramenian Prince said unbelievably as the King told his side of the story.

“Yes, it is true, my son. Back then, we met each other at a Ravida Diplomacy Meeting before the feuding of our two kingdoms began.”

“Really, Mother? Was it love at first sight?” The princess asked.

“Why, you could say it is. We spent every day with each other, like our duties were not a bother.” The queen reminisced.

“So, what happened father?” Prince Chris asked his father.

“Well, we were planning to marry but our parents disagreed with the thought. And that’s when the feuding began. It lasted for 35 years and will show no sign of stopping.” The King said.

“And since you two started dating, your father disagrees with the thought of a Gramenian Prince ruling our kingdom. So, the feuding got worse as he is preparing war on the Gramenians.” The queen said worringly.

“What? We have to stop him!” The princess said as she ran to stop her father from making a huge mistake, leaving her mother in the dust. The queen though, doesn’t mind that her daughter is risking her life for this prince.

“She did what I couldn’t do.” The queen stated.

Back in Castle Gramenia, the alarm goes off signaling that the Petruvian troops are closing in on the castle.

“We have to move now!” King Jake said as he draws the sword and went outside the castle.

“Wait, Father, I’ll come too!” Prince Chris pleaded his father. The Gramenian King approves and the both of them venture out together.

On the battlefield, Petruvian forces pushes on nearing the Gramenian troops. But even before the two forces even lay a finger on their enemies, a loud scream was heard.

STOP THIS INSANITY!” All of the people looked back and saw the Petruvian princess.

Princess Taylor then went to the middle of the two forces. Prince Chris then saw his love and went into the middle also.

“Why do we have to fight? Can’t you see we love each other?” Princess Taylor cried out.

“Yes, we don’t want our future kingdoms broken because of this!” Prince Chris also cried out.

“Yes! Let’s stop this insanity!” “Yeah!” All of the forces cried out, all agreeing with the future rulers of their kingdom, all but one.

“STOP! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO NEVER SEE THIS PRINCE AGAIN?!” King Matthew exclaimed.

“Why, Father? Because he is of Gramenian descent?” Princess Taylor exclaimed.

"Why, isn't it obvious, princess? I don't even know if I can call you that." The king was dead serious.

“With all due respect, Your Majesty, I’m not like those one that you say you think. I will treat your daughter fairly, with justice, and I will love her forever, and I will never lay a finger on her.” The prince defended himself.

Kingdom Gramenia backed up Prince Chris but Kingdom Petruvia was still opposing. However, King Matthew silenced them all.

The king thought about it for a minute and finally broke the silence.

“Well, in that case, you have my blessing!” The king finally said.

The two royalties then kissed each other and everyone cheered... except Lord Mark and Lady Evelyn who was lurking in the shadows, cursing under their breath.




6 months have passed and relations between Kingdom Petruvia and Kingdom Gramenia is better than the last 600 years. It was so good that the rulers of both Kingdom Petruvia and Gramenia both agreed that if the two successors would marry, then the two kingdoms will become one and will be Kingdom Petrenia.

As Prince Chris and Princess Taylor were walking in the streets of Ravida, Prince Chris asked a favor.

"My dear princess, can you wait me at the town square? I have to get something from somewhere. Is it okay?" The Gramenian Prince asked.

"Of course, my dear prince. I shall meet you again in the town square." The princess said. She trusted Prince Chris that greatly. Soon, both of them split up.

After a few minutes of waiting in the town square, Princess Taylor then saw Prince Chris from the crowd. Prince Chris then raced for the princess.

"Princess, I have known you since the incident in the outskirts of Excalestes..." The prince said truthfully. Somehow, the princess knows what's going to happen but she waited if her suspicions are confirmed.

"And I still remember 6 moths ago, when your father agreed us on being together..." The prince continued. The princess cannot believe this but somehow she is near to tears.

Then, the prince knelt on one knee and asked...

"Princess Taylor Odette Petruvia, will you marry me?" Prince Chris asked while showing her a ring that has a red ruby on the west side of the ring, symbolizing Kingdom Petruvia, a blue sapphire on the east side of the ring, symbolizing Kingdom Gramenia, and a green emerald shining at the center, symbolizing the unity of both kingdoms and the places that the royalties visited 6 months before, and all three making a shape of a circle. Princess Taylor was speechless and simply cried, not because of sorrow or shock, but because of joy.

"YES! YES, OF COURSE I WILL MARRY YOU!" The princess finally said as the two of them kissed and the audience around them cheered. On the next 30 days, they got married and Princess Taylor was crowned as Queen of the newly-unified Kingdom Petrenia and Prince Chris as King of Kingdom Petrenia.

END
__________________
キレイハナ
When the heavy rainfall season ends, it is drawn out by warm sunlight to dance in the open.

PokéCommunity Supporter Collab

gunnerpow7

☆ paired with MidnightShine, Twihiki_Amias, PachyfcgPC Showdown ☆ Lady Gunner ☆ defunct account ☆

Last edited by gunnerpow7; August 24th, 2012 at 08:14 AM.
  #31    
Old August 20th, 2012, 10:24 PM
machomuu's Avatar
machomuu
Fueled by Pepsi
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: 'Murca
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed
One Liner:
Masochistic Revelry (M)
As the hooks pierced deeper, Crimson Wine dripped like molasses and morose, chilling laughter resounded through the halls.
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  #32    
Old August 22nd, 2012, 11:15 AM
The warden's Avatar
The warden
I'm back!
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Standing at the edge of the world! Thinking let's jump off!
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed
Escape: Icarus [T]


A small metal box, that is where Henry awoke. He was perspiring heavily and the bed that he was lain on was drenched in sweat. He couldn't remember where he was or how he got here. For the moment in fact he couldn't work out what the last thing he remembered doing was. Looking around the room the first thing that he notices is that there are several other beds in the room, all are made up but none have been slept in. The room was uncomfortably hot and checking the thermometer confirmed that it was 35 degrees Celsius and steadily climbing. It was then that Henry noticed a window at the far end of the room, slowly he pushed himself out of bed and walked over to it. It was quite difficult the floor in the room wasn't quite flat and he wasn't so easy on his feet. Beyond the window was the vast emptiness of space and framed perfectly in the middle was a star. The star was rather near and only the tinted glass prevented Harry from going blind due to the light shining in. As he looked out into space Harry notice scraps of metal floating past, he looked round the window, trying to get a look at the vessel he was on. What he saw shocked him, the ship was badly damaged. How severe it was he couldn't say but quite bad. Then he realised another thing, the ship was in a decaying orbit. In other words he had about twenty minutes before this ship was hot enough to cook him alive.


Henry ran as quickly as he could to the door at the opposite end of the room, which he found was jammed. It was a sliding door with a sensor mounted above it, as he approached there was a whirring noise as the door tried to open but also a crunching of gears suggesting that the door was stuck. Looking around the room he moved over to the nearest bed and broke away a bar from it, this would act as a lever to open the door. He moved back and jimmied the door open, taking one last look at the star before leaving the room. He emerged into a corridor it was eerily quiet. Not a sound could be heard, it seemed the vessel he was on was largely deserted. The reason why was clear enough. The corridor ran left and right, to the right there was a door with a blinking red light above it, probably not a good sign. Henry turned left and headed along the corridor, following it and looking into the rooms he passed.


A few doors down he found a kitchen, stocked with food in tin foil bags. He grabbed a large pan and stuffed it with as many of them as he could and a couple of bottles of water. He left, noticing that the floor seemed to be a little steeper than before and that his walk along the corridor was getting harder. The pan laden with food didn't help him at all, as he progressed he had the choice to either go up or down a flight of stairs. Given the slant of the floor it wasn't really a choice, he went down carefully walking down the relatively shallow descent. Henry didn't know how much time remained, but he knew he better hurry. He pressed on sweating even more than he already was, what with the exertion on top of the heat. In the next door on his left he found a hanger. A single ship was docked in the centre of it. It's dart like form facing the large doors. As quickly as he was able he moved to it, climbing up some steps to board it. The cockpit opened, the ship was built for two so Henry dumped the food in the back seat and fired the ship up. The controls were surprisingly simple. However one thing worried him. A gauge was very low and Henry had a feeling that it was the fuel gauge.


He climbed back out and glanced round, at the lower side of the hanger was a truck containing what Henry hoped was fuel. He headed over and spotted a long hose connected to it, which he dragged towards the ship. But it was to short. Looking around again he noticed a control panel.


The panel contained details about the docking stations, that Henry didn't understand. One thing stood out, next to the bay with the ship in was a green light where as all the others were red. He pressed it and the ship was released, sliding down the room until it collided with the end wall. Harry hoped that there was no sever damage. He refuelled the ship and boarded it, firing it up again. This time the gauge read full. A set of buttons appeared on screen guiding him through the pre-launch checks and procedures, before he fired up the engines. An alarm sounded in the room as the doors opened revealing the vast expanse of space beyond. Henry gunned the throttle and left the ship, turning back to look as it fell into the star. It began to glow red hot like steel fresh from a forge as the ship melted.
  #33    
Old August 23rd, 2012, 02:43 AM
Retro Bug
the apex predator
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Nature: Timid
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Event: My First Catch / Rated: K(+)
Spoiler:
There is remote village, Caman, which stands away from the rest of the Johto region where very few Trainers come from or even pass by. Instead of tall, two-story houses there are small, wooden huts with straw roofs. The ground isn’t full of rich grass but with a sad mixture of gravel and sand. It’s a pitiful sight for any person who has ever lived in “inner” Johto. This village acts independently, they have their own Pokémon Professors and Pokémon Centers, but it lacks any professional nurses or doctors or gyms.

At the very edge of the village where the sand meets the grass is a Daycare Centre. It’s another sad sight to behold. The Daycare is a larger version of the hut-houses with parts of its roof caved in. Each of its (two) windows has either a slight crack or is completely broken with the pieces of glasses lying beneath it. An explicit, threatening message is written in spray paint, clearly an act of vandalism. Within the center are two rooms, the Pokémon daycare room and the daycare owner’s room. A young boy about the age of seventeen sleeps on a wool mat beside a tiny, speckled, purple egg. Normally he falls asleep in the family room but his father has which leaves little room for Riley. As a result his clothes, a plain, white t-shirt and holey jeans, are wrinkly but this is the least of his worries. Rows of empty shelves surrounds him, as this is where all the eggs from the Daycare go as well as the Pokéballs for the Pokémon they keep. The last egg of the season is the same egg the juvenile boy keeps near him. Unbeknownst to him this is his birthday gift to him from his father who feels guilty because he keeps son from becoming what he wants to be the most, a Pokémon Trainer.

The boy, Riley, begins to stir in his sleep and the egg next to him seems to mimic his movements. Sunlight pours in from the windows, the shelving blocks all but one ray, which makes its way to his face. A stirring boy becomes a groggy, semi awake one. His arms break away from his body into a drawn out stretch. A puzzling look instantly appears on his face as he pats the ground around the left of him for the egg. The fright causes him to rise up from his “bed” faster than usual and his brown eyes to shoot open. His head looks from right to left frantically when he spots what he’s looking for out of the corner of his eye, it’s behind him. A relieving sigh comes afterwards as well as a slight chuckle.

“’Bout time you’ve woken up, it’s time we assist your buddy out.” This cheery, husky voice comes from nearby a man who is just outside the window, his father.

“Yeah, yeah,” Riley’s voice is deeper than normal due to his tiredness. His hands are rubbing his eyes so he can reclaim some of his vision.

He fetches the specialize tools for aiding a Pokémon who seems to be stuck in their egg. By “we” his father means Riley has to do it by himself his father just likes to include himself in things. A miniature breach is present when Riley looks for possible signs of the egg starting to crack. He lightly taps the area where the hole is with his metals tools. The shell begins to crumble piece by piece until the speckled, purple eggshell is no more. What’s left is an almost pocketsize, rodent-like, spiky purple creature. Its eyes flutter open revealing two round, piercing, red eyes that meet Riley’s soft, brown eyes. He gives the newborn a small scratch on the head between its large ears; its large spikes make it so it can’t be petted.

“He’s yours. Now, go register him with Professor Ginkgo.”

***

Trees enclose the space around Riley and Weilki, his Nidoran, but they march on in search of the nearest Johto city. His father told him to travel the regions; he isn’t needed at the Daycare anymore. Most Trainers start around the age of ten but here he is Riley, age seventeen and a new Trainer. His ambitions are to defeat every single Gym Leader there is before returning home to retire and do the Daycare Centre for the rest of his life. Weilki’s developing quite the personality, aggressive yet over lovely to Riley. Also, he refuses to go inside his Pokéball for a long period of time.

A grey messenger bag slings over Riley’s right shoulder carrying the necessary items, extra clothes, food, Pokéballs, and other knick-knacks. His attire is the same as it always is, a plain, white t-shirt and jeans, which sometimes have holes in them, but these ones don’t. Riley checks the time on his watch frequently even if it has only been a minute since the last time. The walking aspect of his journey isn’t really working for Riley; he decides he needs to catch a flying type as soon as possible. Though, he will have to wait a bit for it to actually evolve into something that can carry his weight and Weilki’s.

“Ni-ni-Nidooo!” Is all Riley hears before a flash of purple takes off ahead of him. Weilki has been getting a lot more adventurous despite Riley’s warning not to venture off. A sigh comes from Riley before his feet begin picking up speed in the direction where he thinks his poisonous Pokémon is. Veering off trail into the thickness of the forest where tree branches smack him in the face every five feet. He stops in his track to survey the land and to catch his breath. Riley bends over with his hands on his knees hoping he doesn’t have too run much longer when he spots small footprints leading straight away. He walks the path of the prints to find Weilki and a bunch of other Pokémon around him.

Instantly, Riley wipes out his Pokédex to record each other the Pokémon. He starts with a cute, blue elephant-like Pokémon, which has red ridges over its trunk and two on each ear. Phanpy is strong despite its compact size. It can easily pick up and carry an adult human on its back. Riley takes a step back just to make sure Phanpy doesn’t grab him with his trunk. Then, the next one is a runty, mouse-like Pokémon, which stands on two legs with black markings around its body. Also, two red spots on its cheek, Riley knows this is a Pichu. The electric sacs in its cheeks are small. If even a little electricity leaks, Pichu becomes shocked. Finally, a Pokémon that looks eerily similar to Weilki but just a different color. While Nidoran does not prefer to fight, even one drop of the poison it secretes from its barbs can be fatal. This is the female version of his Pokémon except the whole ‘does not prefer to fight’ is totally wrong considering it’s about to attack Weilki.

“Uh, Weilki, watch out?” The trio surrounds Weilki in an aggressive manor each of them baring their teeth at him. A menacing view to Riley, as he isn’t sure what to do at this moment. A wave of toxins seep from the tips of Weilki’s poisonous barbs causing Phanpy and Pichu to back well away from it. Releasing its own toxic goo, the female Nidoran steps even closer to Weilki. Oh! This is a Pokémon battle but Riley has never experience one before. He’s suppose to call out attacks, right? Damaging moves work out the best but you there are other moves that do different things.

“Bite! Kick! Push?” The command has no affect on Weilki but this doesn’t stop him for attacking. He claws the ground, kicking up dirt in the process, then launches forward with his horn leading the charge. A side step is all Nidoran does to avoid Weilki attacks. While Weilki rushes pass Nidoran she slams her two back feet into his stomach causing him to fly backwards into a base of a tree. Leaves are shaken lose showing how powerful the move is.

As snappy as Riley can he points his Pokédex at Weilki, the Professor said it can tell him his Pokémon’s moves. Nidoran moves are the following Peck, Leer, and Confusion. Wait, Confusion? Riley smashes a couple of button for an explanation, Confusion is an egg move given to Nidoran♂ through the process of breeding. Breeding is a hard process; his father mentions how difficult the results are back at the Daycare Centre.

“Weilki, Confusion!” This time Riley’s voice is full of confidence. He points his index finger deliberately at the female Nidoran. A beaten up Weilki shakes his head like he’s trying to shake off the pain. His eyes start glowing blue in color, the blue poisonous creature flies back a couple inches. Poison types are weak against Psychic-type moves like Confusion, Riley knows this much. Weilki then charges forward once more using its sharp horn to steer its attack. Upon impact the horn makes a crunching noise against hurt she-rodent’s skin.

“Let’s finish this off, Peck!” Nidoran ascends from the dirt to face Weilki head on by lowering its much smaller horn. When Weilki comes within striking distance his female counterpart jumps onto his horn and slams her razor sharp claws into his toxic spines. Sustaining injuries to the sensitive spines is the main weakness for this male Nidoran. Nidoran rises onto her haunches as if to do a victory dance until she unexpectedly flies back into the bushes behind her. A faint blue fades from Weilki's eyes as he shuts them from acquiring too many injuries.

“Oh, oh, oh!” A hand digs around his messenger bag for the sphere-capturing device. The ball is crimson red on the top half of the ball-like item while the bottom half is pure white. Clicking the button in the middle causes the Pokéball to enlarge, which doubles its size. Kissing the Pokéball for good luck Riley tosses it into the bush hoping it hits its target. Riley picks up Weilki stroking his head praying that it soothes his pain before venturing into the bush. He notices it shaking three times before a red flash goes off.

“Here’s to many more” His arm finally reaches far into the bush retrieving the Pokéball. Thorns prick his hand but the relief of securing his second partner in crime is well worth the pain. “Let’s take on these gyms!”
__________________
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  #34    
Old August 23rd, 2012, 02:04 PM
Starsprite's Avatar
Starsprite
This is how we live!
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: The Middle of Nowhere, TN
Gender: Female
Nature: Quiet
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The World
Romance | Rated T

Spoiler:
Marie would come to her hometown's oldest and most traditional looking church every morning at sunrise. It was significant to her now, even though nobody had attended it for years. Of all the things in the small southern town it was one of only two things that she thought were beautiful. Then again, she was kind of a cynic.

She had started going to the church to see her friend. His name was Scott, and they had met on the bus to school only a year ago at the time. The two had a lot in common, but the two things they both shared the most were the desire to escape small town life, and an appreciation for beauty. For them, it felt natural to sit in an abandoned church and talk about life.

Just as she would on any other morning, Marie walked into the church, sitting on the bench she always gravitated towards. The wood creaked as she did, but at this point there was hardly a thing within the building that didn't creak. So, she didn't let the noise deter her, leaning back and bathing her skin in the pink light that was being filtered in streaks through the filthy windows above. She could never tell how long it would take for her friend to arrive, so she got comfortable.

Scott arrived eventually. That was all Marie knew about the time. She turned at the telltale noise of the door being pushed open, and watched him glide over to the bench across from hers. She greeted with a, "So, how are you?"
They were past the point of hellos.

"Tired," yawned Scott. "You?"

Marie let out a small sigh. "Hm...okay, I guess. There's a lot going on."
"With you, or with the world?" Scott talked with Marie about things in the world on such a regular basis that it seemed like the two actually had a bering on the world. The outside of the town seemed so abstract, like a game or a story, that they started to treat it that way. Their ideas and opinions were very real, but sometimes a little too fantastic to work anywhere but the confines of their utopian vision of what the world could be.

Still, they believed it. "The world," Marie laughed, "what ever goes on with me?"

Scott stood up then and walked to the alter, the floor wailing beneath his every step. He made sweeping had gestures as he spoke his reply. "More than you think, probably. I mean, what do you know about the world other than what you live? There might as well be no world other than yours if you aren't there to see it."

In hindsight, it was ridiculous philosophy spoken by a sixteen year old, but at the time Marie had bought so much into it. Even if she hadn't wanted to admit it, she had been utterly charmed by his occasional ramblings. It was evident in how she spoke.

"You're probably right. It's just that I do want to see the rest of the world, you know? It seems so much better than in here."

Every time she ended a sentence with 'you know' it meant more than just an annoying speech habit. It was her way of seeking approval. She was of the opinion that there was nobody she needed to impress in a bigoted, southern, small town like hers, but of course Scott would be the one exception. Marie made more exceptions for him than anyone else she'd known.

"I know exactly what you mean," Scott agreed, "we have a lot of the same dreams, don't we?"

Marie hadn't thought of that. It was bizarre when put that way. She saw truth in what he said, though. Their entire friendship had been founded around all that they had in common. That was why they enjoyed the company of each other, because they were so similar, yet different.

"Yeah..." Marie murmured. "Good point."

Walking back down from the altar, Scott headed for Marie's bench rather than his own. He sat close to her. "We could see the world together, you know," he mused. Then he leaned in close.

The gesture made Marie nervous, so she didn't move.

"We could...couldn't we?"

Scott took that as encouragement, leaning in more to hug Marie. She honestly hadn't expected it. Still, she hugged back tentatively. It felt like a long time that the hug lasted, and, even after they broke apart, Marie still couldn't wrap her head around it. It was just a hug, right?

She had to ask, "Why together then?"

Not discouraged, Scott replied, "Because we can do anything together, don't you think?" His assumption was strangely optimistic for him, and not convincing enough to elicit any words from Marie.

"Besides, I think I might love you."

Those words didn't make magic happen. Everything was still and strange as before. Something changed, though. Marie suddenly had a new feeling. She couldn't identify it, and she wasn't entirely sure it was love. The girl wasn't entirely sure she knew what it was like to love someone that way, or if it even had to be any different than friendship.

Instead of responding, Marie leaned back in and buried her head in Scott's shoulder. He didn't seem to mind that reaction.

"You can tell me how you feel when you're ready. I don't mind."



Walls
Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Rated T

Spoiler:
The walls of Mykria were taller than the highest building, and, as far as any common resident of the city would know, they had no exit. The only people who ever came in or out were important. They were government personnel or celebrities, and the celebrities were always so closely controlled by the government that they might as well have been a part of it themselves. Anything and everything that anyone did was controlled by the higher-ups of Mykria. That was the existence of the Mykrian people.

Toby Layla was from a section of Mykria that was considered to be the lowest of the low, even compared to other run down areas. Even the wall was beginning to crumble in some places, just to taunt the people who lived there and show them how incompetent and stupid they were in the eyes of those with power and wealth. The wall there wasn't even monitored any more. Anybody who dared try and escape would surely seal their own fate.

Despite this, Toby dared to scale the wall. He had thought a lot about freedom, and what he'd do with it, and even if it would be a rough life out there he felt like it would be much better that living under the rule of the Mykrian's.

Toby chose to climb in the morning, since finding places to grip in the middle of the night would be beyond dangerous. The whole ordeal was dangerous, but to make it harder on himself would make Toby more of a fool that he was already considered to be. To an extent, he'd already tried climbing, but he'd gotten less than midway up. Still, he knew the first couple of handholds very well, and getting from the first one to the second was the most difficult part he'd encountered thus far.

From then on, it was a smooth climb up to the about the point where dropping down would start to hurt. All it took were repettitive motions and knowing where to hold. That was why the prospect of climbing where he hadn't climbed before was so frightening. Toby could get up to his highest position so far with ease, but what if it started to all go downhill afterwards? He would get tired at some point, he knew. What then?

At that point, all Toby could tell himself was that persistence was key. He had managed to get further than he ever had before. Still, it brought a sick feeling to his stomach, the thought of falling from his current height. Just thinking about it was enough to make his hands shake, and that was definitely a bad thing. Being tired and shaky would be his downfall if ew couldn't, for lack of better phrasing, get a grip on the situation.

He almost got to the point of falling from exhaustion at one point, but a small stroke of luck crossed him. He found a slight indent in the wall where he could rest for the time being, and so he did. It was both benificial and detrimental. Obviously, he got some energy back, but also, when started back up again, his arms were even shakier and almost gave out.

Toby's head was throbbing from the extra pressure. He was so close to the top that he was beginning to worry about loosing his hold at the last second. Doubt was becoming more and more present in his mind. Maybe the government was right after all. Stupidity and incompetence could very well have been what made Toby want to climb in the first place.

But at the final handhold, Toby decided to push those thoughts away. He had made it to the top. Now all there was to do was make it down. He hoisted himself over the edge on to the very top of the wall, and for the longest time he stayed flopped over on his stomach, taking in heavy breaths of air until he finally fell asleep.

When he woke up well enough that he was ready to start he descent down, Toby crawled to the edge, so as not to fall. Then, he took a survey of the stones below. What he saw was horrifying. The side of the wall was completely smoothed down. There was no way off of the wall but to go back the way he came or fall to his death. Or climb to his death, so it seemed. On the Mykrian side of the wall, Toby had apparently had an audience.

His audience did not look friendly. That was the existence of the Mykrian people.

__________________

Last edited by Starsprite; August 23rd, 2012 at 03:42 PM. Reason: well I took that deadline seriously
  #35    
Old August 23rd, 2012, 06:16 PM
Silver Rogue's Avatar
Silver Rogue
RolePlayer
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: In a dream, within a dream....
Age: 19
Gender: Male
Nature: Calm
ESCAPE

Title : The Slingshot Effect

Rating : K+



Beads of sweat formed on my body as I slowly gained consciousness, the thin blanket that had once covered me now scrunched up at the end of the bed, discarded due to the ever growing heat. My mind was foggy, unclear of exactly what was happening as I slowly dragged myself out of sleep. The world was blurry for a moment, then cleared and focused as I opened my eyes to see the strange room before me. I pulled myself out of the bed, and stared around at the room. Its walls were slightly curved on the left side, a large shuttered window taking up most of that wall. The other wall came down vertically, to a cold metallic floor that caused my footsteps to echo through the room. Other beds lined the rest of the room, some made, and others were left in a sloppy state, the blankets draped over the side or on the floor. Only one thing was common between all of the beds. They were all empty.

Moving towards the window, I noticed a computer terminal near the door, its light slightly illuminating the room. Forgoing the window, I turned my attention to the glow of the computer, its cursor blinking on and off on the screen. Unfortunately the terminal seemed to be somewhat of an older model, and didn’t even present options to me, just the steady blinking of the cursor. Unsure of what to do with the terminal, I turned back towards the window, and then hit a button opening the shutters on the window. The shutters turned from vertical to flat, allowing blinding light to leak in, blasting my eyes. After a few moments, my eyes adjusted to the point where I could see out of the corners of my eye, and I could see a star. It was large and getting slightly closer with each passing second. I quickly hit the button to close the shutters once again, shielding myself from the blinding light.

So what did I know so far? Well, I knew I was in space, probably on a ship or a small space station, and I seemed to be getting closer to the star in whatever solar system I was in. It was a start. It would at least give an explanation for the heat at any rate. I once again returned to the computer, now vaguely aware of what to search for. My fingers hammered the keys, searching for answers. After several denied commands, I typed “—Systems Status” and got what I was looking for.

> Starship Odyssey Systems Report
--Engines 0 %
-Fuel Core 1 Depleted
-Fuel Core 2 Depleted
-- Fusion Reactor Online
- Warning! Meltdown T-30min
-- Weapons
- Torpedo Bay – EMPTY
- Ion Cannons – ION BATTERY DEPLETED
-- Life Support
- SYSTEMS CRITICAL 30% FUNCITONALITY
- Oxygen Scrubbers Require Cleaning
- H2O Levels Critical – Request Immediate Landing to Restock
-- Shields
- Main Forward Shields – OFFLINE
- Rear Shields – OFFLINE
- Shield Dampeners – ONLINE
-- Hull
- MULTIPLE HULL BREACHES – SUGGEST IMMEDIATE EVAC
-- Escape Pods
- All Escape Pods Jettisoned
-- Artificial Gravity
- SYSTEMS CRITICAL

The list went on and on, most things offline or barely functional. The ship was certainly in a sorry state, and probably wouldn’t last much longer. I figured I only had about fifteen or twenty minutes to escape before the gravity of the star would pull me in regardless of what I was doing, in the ship or not.

I typed a few more commands to open the door, which ground to a halt about halfway open, the screen reading “Door Malfunction, Requesting Immediate Service”. Of course it would malfunction. It was still large enough of an opening for me to get through. I pulled myself through, then stared into the corridor which went both left and right from my doorway, both ways completely empty. I mentally flipped a coin, then started down the left passage hoping just to get lucky. I ran through the halls, my eyes flicking up to the signs above various doorways, most of them useless. Mess hall, Bathrooms, Ammunitions Storage, and on went the list. I was losing hope as I finally came to the doorway marked “Escape Pods”. The computer had said that they were all jettisoned, but if the computer was malfunctioning like the rest of the ship, then it might be worthwhile to at least check. Sure enough though, a red light flashed above each hatch, each one mocking me saying that there was no escape.

As I ran back into the hallway, a female voice came out of loudspeakers throughout the ship. “Warning, Artificial Gravity Failure”. My momentum from running out of the escape pod room sent me flying into the wall on the other side of the hallway, slamming me into the metal, now warm from the rising temperatures. Fortunately, the corridor was narrow enough so that if I stretched my arms across, I could reach each and propel myself forward, although my progress was much slower than previously. I paused once again at another window, and risked another glance at the always approaching star. It had gotten even larger, and I guessed that I only had about ten minutes before I really needed to leave. If only there was a way to leave. If only I could get to the hangar, I might be able to find a small ship that I could use to escape from the gravitational pull of the star. At this point, jumping out into space in a space suit would be out of the question, the sun would pull me in just as fast as if I was in the station. No, I needed something that would propel me away, and that meant a ship.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, although what could have only been a few minutes, I reached the hangars. For a ship this size, there would be multiple hangars, hopefully with multiple ships. Hoping for the best, I pulled myself into the first hangar to find only disappointment. Broken ship parts littered the floor, pieces of scrap metal, but no ship. The story was same for the second and third hangar also, but on the fourth hangar, I struck gold. It was an old beaten down ship, but it would do for my purposes. It was an old fighter, decades old, maybe even dating back a couple centuries ago to the war between Earth and Mars in the war for Martian Independence. If I recall correctly, it was called a Mosquito Fighter, known for striking fast and being more or less irritating. I would need all of its speed if I was going to get out alive.

I pulled myself into the cockpit and hit the starter button to find only more disappointment. Multiple error messages popped up on the HUD showing various problems like low fuel, a broken coolant hose, and broken air scrubbers. In other words, I wasn’t going anywhere, the ship would fry under any amount of engine heat, and I would suffocate to death. Or burn, whichever came first. I pulled myself out of the cockpit, moving slowly to keep myself from flying uncontrollably because of the zero gees, and pulled myself to the rear engine block, finding that the coolant hose had completely torn itself apart, each half of it connection to where they needed to be, but not connecting to each other. Next I checked the fuel rods, to find the symbols indicating that each one was nearly depleted, not even enough to pull myself out of the gravity of the sun. The air scrubbers was a problem I wouldn’t be able to fix in any case, I would need some sort of space suit or means of breathing.

With my shopping list of various parts I needed, I looked around the four hangars, not finding much. I managed to find a couple half depleted fuel rods in hangar two under a broken wing, although I would have preferred another two. These would get me maybe somewhere else in the solar system, but warp drives needed all four fuel rods to function properly in order to work. Oh well, landing on some planet in the solar system with hopefully some atmosphere would be preferable to burning up in the star. He couldn’t find any oxygen scrubbers, which would have taken too long to replace anyway, but he did find a spare space suit and helmet tucked away in a corner of hangar one. The space suit was a couple sizes too small, but the helmet fit fine, which was good, he only needed the oxygen anyway, the life support system in the ship was fine, and would keep him warm enough in space to survive. Remarkably, he couldn’t find any hoses the size that he needed that he would be able to replace the coolant hose with, but he did find some deep space tape. The label read “Good for all space suit repairs! Heat resistant for up to twenty minutes!” Maybe a few layers around the coolant hose tying them together would hold for the duration of his trip.

With my bounty of gear, I made his way back to hangar one, and quickly made my repairs, then put on the space helmet. I reached over and hit the control panel for the hangar doors, then pulled myself into the beaten up ship and closed the cockpit over my head. I started up the engines and checked the readings. Fuel would be good for a little while, but the warp drive was disabled of course. The coolant seemed to be flowing fine, and hopefully would for at least a little while longer, and his oxygen helmet had a good seal and was functioning as it should. I maneuvered the ship towards the doors, then gunned the engines propelling himself out of the hangar into empty space. I shifted the ship so it was facing the exact opposite direction of the pull of gravity of the sun, and then pumped the engines to their maximum. I watched the readings, then he filled with dread. I had taken too long finding parts, and now I couldn’t escape the gravitational pull of the star.

As I sat there, an old physics lecture from college came into mind. I hadn’t really been paying attention, but I remembered hearing something about a slingshot affect, where swinging around a large object would increase speed dramatically. Quickly I turned the ship around angling slightly away from the star, but still bringing myself closer to it. If I brought the ship too close to the star, I would burn up. But if I didn’t go close enough to the star, I wouldn’t have enough momentum to escape the star. Gunning the engines once more, the ship shot forward getting closer and closer to the star. Then after curving around the star, picking up speed but getting even closer each second, I lifted the nose of the ship, the engines bringing it farther and farther away from the sun. I laughed with glee as I saw that my trick had worked, my ship had broken out of the gravitational field, and now I could move forward by the power of my engines. I checked the planet log on the ship searching for any planets that would sustain life in the system…


><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>


The old man cleared his throat, done with his story. The children had heard the story a dozen times, but still remained entertained every time he told it. The fire crackled as the children sat in silence imagining the things that they had been told. Then one piped up, “Tell us another story Alex! Please?” The rest of the children joined in, begging him for another story. Alex lifted his hands, silencing the children, “No children, that is the third story tonight! Off to bed with you, there will be another story tomorrow night!” The children groaned as they headed off to their tents, leaving the old man alone with the crackling of the fire. Perhaps sometime he would tell them the real story, about why they had been stranded on the planet, and how he had come here. Perhaps, but not yet. He smiled as he stared at the stars, searching for the one he used to call home.
__________________
Roleplays I'm In:
Pokemon Odyssey: A New Beginning
Atlantis Arising
Disease Deoxys

Last edited by Silver Rogue; August 26th, 2012 at 08:21 PM.
  #36    
Old August 23rd, 2012, 06:33 PM
XLegionxX's Avatar
XLegionxX
Blackwood is rising!
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Over there
Age: 17
Gender: Male
ESCAPE
Title: Ghost ship
Rating {K+}



Cortez woke up in a bunk, and looked over at the alarm clock. It read 6:30am. He sat up and looked around the room he was in; it was made of metal, most likely the Tungsten and Iridium combo used to build most of anything military related nowadays.

He started to get up out of bed when he noticed how hot it was. He got up and walked over to the thermometer, next to the window. It said it was 35 Celsius. That’s when he noticed what was outside the window. A gigantic star... and it was getting bigger. Cortez looked at the ship’s hull; it looked like it had seen a big battle. The damage was right where the ships name would have been painted on.

“Holy crap…” He said in disbelief as he pinched himself to see if he was having a nightmare.

He needed to get off the ship, like, now! He spun around and looked around the room. There was a footlocker by the foot of his bed. He jogged over and opened it. Inside was his uniform for the U.N.C.A or United Nations Colonial Authority. The tag on the front read “Sgt. Cortez *Scratched out* Engineer.” He slipped into his uniform and headed over to the doors, which opened in front of him to reveal the corridor. He stepped out and looked both ways. Cortez headed left towards the larger part of the ship, and hopefully the bridge…

17 minutes till collision aka 3 minutes later

Cortez walked down the corridor. It was very eerie due to there being no one around, as well as some of the lights flickering. He pressed on until the entire ship rocked side to side, throwing Cortez to a side. Almost as soon as he hit the floor a loud boom resonated through the halls with a fiery explosion following behind. Cortez sprung to his feet and began to sprint down the hall, shouting every swear he knew at the fiery mass trailing him. He ran through an open blast door and slid to a stop, falling on his back. Cortez quickly got up and slammed on the button to close the heavy metal doors. They awkwardly slid shut. Now that he was safe, he looked around, while panting in exhaustion. A sign on the wall said “BRIDGE” and pointed down a short hallway. He would go down it in a minute, but he needed to catch his breath first.

10 Minutes till Collision.

It was getting really hot now, but Cortez got up. He walked down the hallway to the Bridge. The hallway was bathed with red lights from emergency lights.
The bridge was chaos. Warnings flashing over every screen, sirens blaring, alarm lights blinking. Cortez walked to the front of the bridge; he needed to find out how many escape pods were left. He sat down in the captain’s chairs and logged on to his pc. The password was easy; it was simply “Password”. Sloppy… According to the terminal, there was one pod left. It was in the Captain’s cabin, which shouldn’t be too hard to get to, it was just up one floor.

Cortez hopped out of the chair and started to run towards the exit when he noticed something. He stopped and went back. Next to the Captain’s terminal was a pedestal for an A.I program. Cortez pushed the “on” button. Instead of the physical representation of the program there was an error message. The power supply was damaged. Cortez popped off the panel covering the power supply and got to work. 3 minutes later the power was fixed. He pushed the button again, and this time, a small green man appeared on the pedestal. He was about the size of Cortez’s hand and had computer code running up and down his body. He was dressed in what looked like a uniform for the ship.

“Hello, my name is Theta. It is a pleasure to meet you. Might I ask your name?” The Artificial Intelligence program said.

“My name is Cortez,” The Sargent replied “You do know we are about to crash into a star… right?”

“Yes, I have been tracking this for days, but I haven’t been able to initiate course correction without authorization from the pilot’s terminal.”
Cortez ran down the terminal Theta spoke of. There was a flashing red message on the screen requesting permission the turn the ship around. He touched the button on the screen with his sweaty finger, leaving a mark on the screen of his fingerprint.

Suddenly, the ship jerked to the left and the engines roared. The damaged ship soared right past the star, just barley missing the radius where he would of killed, but it was still pretty close. The ship completed a large U-turn

“Theta,” Cortez yelled “Where are you taking us?”

“To the nearest colony.” He spoke back in a calm voice.

Cortez walked up to the Captain’s chair and sat down.

“I have a video recording you might want to see, Captain Cortez. It’s a recording of how you came here.” Theta said

“Captain?”

“Yes.” Theta replied “Someone needs to be in charge of the ship, and you’re the highest ranking person on board.”

“Can you play the video please, Theta?”

“Of course, Sir.”

Cortez sat back and watched the tape as they sailed towards the nearest habited planet. It would hopefully be an easy ride back.

//End Log//
__________________

  #37    
Old August 24th, 2012, 05:09 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
I apologise for the way my entries are clustered together in one post like this - when I posted them, the forum decided they constituted a string of double posts, and automatically merged them. Now I can't separate them.

One-Liner:

Chapter Eighty-Four: The End [K]

Spoiler:
And now, dear readers, I must write faster, and bring this tale of mine to a swift conclusion, for even as I put these words to paper the old man is reaching across my shoulder to steal my penci—



My First Catch:

Illumination [T]

Spoiler:
There was one thing I never really appreciated until the time actually came to catch a Pokémon – something I'd never even considered might be a problem. Something that I should've thought of right away, and yet never realised until I actually held the ball in my hand.

That thing is how difficult it is to hit a small, fast-moving target with a Poké Ball.

I mean, it had never seemed to be a problem for anyone else. On TV or on the Internet, famous Trainers asked about captures always said things about how their targets put up a good fight, or how they kept breaking loose of the ball before it locked – but none of them ever mentioned how hard it was to hit the damn things in the first place. And because no one ever mentioned it, I never realised it was an issue.

In case you're wondering where this is going, it's basically me making excuses for failing the first time around. Yeah, that's right: I failed. My Snubbull and I spent three hours chasing a Sentret around a muddy field, broke about fifteen balls on rocks, and gave up when it got dark and I still hadn't managed to hit the stupid thing even once. Sure, Simone – that's the Snubbull (not my choice of name, by the way; she was a rescue Pokémon from the New Bark Town shelter and came pre-named) – bit it once or twice, when she could get close, but that just made it run faster.

That was another thing I'd never taken into account: the fact that the Pokémon might try and run away instead of fighting. Listening to the interviews with people like Red Pastelle or Falkner Stanchley, you'd think that every wild animal in the world was out to kill you the moment you stepped outside – but it took me two days to even find the Sentret, and even then it showed absolutely no desire to attack. If it felt anything at all, it was terror, not fury.

All of that was revolving slowly in my head as I prepared for the second attempt – the wild fear of the Sentret, the mud, the inaccuracy of the ball. I hadn't moved on from the Trainer's Lodge on Route 29 since the failed capture, and I wasn't the only one: more than a few of the other new Trainers were as disillusioned as I was, and had been spending most of their time, like me, throwing tennis balls at increasingly small targets in an attempt to improve their aim. We weren't even battling that much – I mean, we were all beginners, and our fights were generally over in about five minutes; they just weren't that interesting, and we were all coming around to the discovery that there were a hell of a lot more skills involved in being a Trainer than just fighting.

In fact, it was a week until I finally thought I might try again. A group of the others had decided to get together to see if that would increase their chances, but I just couldn't join them: this was my first catch. It was meant to be special, the start of a long and glorious road to great and noble things – the kind of thing you did on your own, just you and your Pokémon. So while they marched off into the meadows south of the road together, I went north, heading for the trees that cloaked the foothills of the Crags. I wasn't just being contrary, either – I'd put a lot of thought into this, and remembered that in the trees there were some Pokémon that weren't nearly so good at running away as the Pidgey and Rattata of the fields, things like Exeggcute or Pineco, that lacked legs and would probably be easier to corner.

I was nervous, of course. Not only was this my first catch, but I'd failed on the first attempt, which raised the stakes still higher; if I couldn't catch anything now, it would be tantamount to admitting I was totally unfit to Train – especially if the others in the group returned to the Lodge in the evening with a pile of filled balls. I imagined walking in to the lounge, seeing Rattata and Sentret that weren't there in the morning, and knowing that the Snubbull waddling along at my side was the only Pokémon I had, and a shiver ran down my spine.

But I was excited, too – who wouldn't be, in my situation? I was only thirteen back then, and I bounced back from defeats pretty quickly; it had been a week since I'd lost the Sentret, and my morale had recovered well enough. The sun was shining, there was a breeze and, as I walked through the forest, I felt sure that I'd find something I'd be able to catch. I had thirty Poké Balls, a tin of dog food for Simone and three sandwiches for me; all seemed to be right with the world.

At about one, I stopped and ate, prising open the can with my penknife and offering it to Simone; she yelped enthusiastically and buried her heavy jaws in the meat within. I know now that that was a mistake – full Pokémon are slower, less alert and more sleepy than hungry ones – but back then it didn't matter; I had no idea that I should've waited until after the capture.

As I munched on my sandwich and Simone gnawed pensively on the now-empty tin, I cast my eye around the area. It was trees, for the most part – trees and dirt, with the occasional shrub. It was a quiet ancient place, a place where anything could happen - a gnarled tree could uncurl and show itself to be an old man, a unicorn could canter calmly through the glade.

A kid could even catch his first Pokémon here, without any wonder.

I stood up and brushed crumbs from my lap, and in some way the sanctity of the forest seemed to disappear. The magic had dissolved in that one simple action and I stood still, gaping stupidly at nothing, until Simone barked and pressed her wet snout into my leg.

“Huh? Oh. Yeah. We're here to catch Pokémon.” My voice sounded curiously alien to my ears; it was the forest, I think, its vast mulchy presence deadening all sounds.

I shivered and walked on, keeping an eye out for any signs of movement; because of that, I didn't notice the Pineco until I'd walked into it.

My head connected with something hard with a thok, and, staggering back a step, I saw a large pine cone hanging from the underside of a branch. The only hint I got that there was anything more to it than that was the pair of worried eyes staring out at me from its core.

I looked at the Pineco, and the Pineco looked back.

Its eyes slid down to Simone, swiftly looked away, and shut tightly.

Nothing happened.

I stared at it for a while longer, but it didn't move; perhaps, I thought, it was hoping I hadn't noticed it. I looked at Simone, who had got bored and was investigating a stately-looking black beetle with a look of extreme distrust – no help coming from that quarter, then, because I would have to speak to her to get her attention, and I didn't want to startle the Pineco.

I was about to risk it and go for a ball when the Pineco opened one eye, noted I was still there and exploded in a startling but harmless burst of bark and chitin, and I was left standing there with a Poké Ball in one hand and a piece of wood in the other to contemplate the fact that it had chosen to kill itself rather than be my friend.

Of course, I now know that Pineco don't die after exploding – they just shed their shells violently and run – but at the time it was probably the most depressing thought of my life. I thought about going back – there was still time, after all; there was always time – but decided against it. I couldn't face failing today, I just couldn't. And it wasn't like I was a bad Trainer, either – I had Simone and I was doing all right with her. If anything, the Pineco had just been rude, and not a little melodramatic. Yes, that was what I wanted to believe; the Pineco believed itself wasted on me, and had chosen to express it in a particularly crass and insulting manner.

“Yeah,” I said aloud. “I can do it. Of course I can. I mean, it was just being annoying.”

“Woof,” interrupted Simone, tugging at my shoelaces. “Woof woof.”

“What?” I looked down and followed her with my eyes as she scampered over to a nearby tree and jumped up and down, nose in the air. “There's something up there?” I asked, and chose to interpret her answering bark as a 'Yes'. “OK,” I said, picking her up and putting her on my shoulders, where she dug her claws into my backpack and hung on like a limpet. “OK, let's see what it is. Quiet, yeah?”

She licked my ear by way of confirmation, and I started up the tree. It wasn't a hard one: years of wear and tear had snapped off a branch low down, from which I could easily reach the higher ones, and being pretty well versed in the noble art of tree-climbing, I reached a broad fork about two-thirds of the way up without much difficulty. Here, I sat down on a branch and set Simone on the wood before me, to get an update on where we were going.

She wasn't too confident walking around up there – understandable; Snubbull live in plains and scrubland where they almost never even see a tree, let alone climb them – but I'd brought her up trees before, and it didn't take long for her to get her confidence back, running along to the end of the branch and stamping on something. A moment later, she withdrew her paw, checked that whatever she'd crushed was dead, scooped it up and brought it over to me, holding it out so I could see.

“A beetle? What...?” I trailed off, mentally connecting the squashed beetle in her paws with the one crawling around in the dirt a few minutes ago. “You had me climb up here just so you could squish a bug you didn't like?”

Simone woofed sheepishly, if that's possible, and hurriedly tossed the beetle out of the tree.

“We're on a serious mission!” I berated her. “I have to catch a Pokémon!”

“Woof.”

“Don't give me that, I—”

Swish.

Something hit me between the shoulder blades like a cosmic hammer, and suddenly I was falling. A branch rose out of nowhere, hit me in the stomach; another fall, another branch, another bruise, another—

I slammed down onto the forest floor, winded. I could barely breathe; stars danced before my eyes, in and out of the leaves and dirt – and then a dark shape passed overhead, the adrenaline kicked in and reality snapped sharply into focus. My eyes flicked to the right – dirt. To the left – Simone in the tree. Up – diving Noctowl.

I rolled over as fast as I could, trying to get back on my feet. Above me I heard frantic barking – of course, Simone couldn't get down. There was nothing at all between me and the Noctowl now bearing down on me once more.

I tried to sit up, to throw myself out of the way – but it fell fast, in a hard rush it had perfected on hundreds of Rattatta. I'd barely got my breath back before its talons scythed into my stomach and knocked it out again. Red fireworks of pain erupted all across my belly, and my voice mingled with the Noctowl's as I screamed.

It jerked back at the sound, tugging its claws out of my shirt and tangling them in my jacket; it staggered wildly onto my leg, wings akimbo, and somehow I managed to sit up, fingers closing around a stick, and swing at it—
The Noctowl's wing, huge and brown and muscular, snapped out and hit my wrist like a freight train. I doubled up, dropping the stick and crying out; this wasn't an owl, I remembered dizzily, it was a Pokémon, much stronger, an animal2...

A big brown head suddenly filled my vision, beak open in a screech too high-pitched for me to hear; a moment later, I felt it take a chunk out of my cheek and I lurched backwards, shrieking. I couldn't fight back, there was no way I could fight back; my hands flew to my face and dimly, through a mist of tears, I saw a pair of huge red eyes fill my vision, expanding slowly, irises and the dark pit at their centres. I relaxed; my hands dropped to the dirt and all my wounds drifted far away, out into a void where they belonged to no one. I didn't think, I didn't feel; I just saw those eyes, shining like newborn suns.

Then a pale blur flew out of nowhere, knocked the eyes away and crushed the breath from my body. The Noctowl shrieked, wheezed – and Simone, from atop my chest, squealed.

There was silence for a long time – for a very long time, it seemed, though it couldn't have been more than a minute or two. Then, my stomach and face burning, I pushed the heap of fur and feathers off my chest and pulled myself up into a sitting position.

The Noctowl lay to my left, looking dazed; to its right, Simone pedalled her feet slowly in the air, a dreamy expression on her face. I heard something from above, and looked up to see a nervous-looking pair of Hoothoot in a ramshackle nest in the top of the tree, cheeping anxiously at their parent on the ground below. So that was what it was: we'd got too close, woken the Noctowl and it had defended the nest. Stupid, I thought dully. Everyone loses for no reason at all.

I felt my stomach and cheek gingerly, and though they hurt even more than the rest of me, I was relieved: they were just little cuts, that was all – nothing major. Add that to the fact that I didn't seem to have broken anything in the fall, and I guessed I was pretty damn lucky.

That cheered me up a bit, and so did the realisation that I'd just defeated my first wild Pokémon – and a strong one, too. OK, so Simone had fallen fifteen feet onto it rather than using any moves, but still. I'd beaten it fair and square, and after all that I was damned if I wasn't going to catch it.

I recalled Simone to her ball – she didn't look like she could walk back – and pulled out another from my bag. Then, with mounting excitement, I dropped it on the Noctowl, causing it to dwindle into a mote of red light – which promptly expanded again as the big bird twitched in its sleep.

I frowned. Guess it's too strong for a perfect catch, then.

I got it on the third ball, and put it triumphantly in my pocket. There. I'd caught something – by myself, not with the group. I, Riley Alderman, had caught a Pokémon, and in one glorious instant all my pain melted away to be replaced by swelling pride. Had I had the energy, I'd have jumped to my feet and danced around in joy; as it was, I cheered quietly and waved my hands a little.

I completely forgot about the two Hoothoot, of course; looking back, I think they were near full-grown, probably fledged, so hopefully they got on OK without their parent. At the time, I just got up, slowly and painfully, and started the long walk back to the Lodge, silently celebrating and wondering vaguely if Noctowl could carry rabies.

That was that: my first successful catch. It wasn't how I'd expected it to be, nor was it any of the Pokémon I thought it'd be. I got hurt a lot worse than I'd anticipated, and Simone went a lot further to help me than I'd thought she ever could. I guess you could call it a formative experience – if nothing else, it really rammed home exactly how steep a learning curve being a Trainer was. I'd thought I was doing all right, but I realised then that I had a long way to go.

On the way back, I met into the group who'd gone south into the tall grass. Most of them had new Poké Balls clipped to their bandoleers, but I knew none of them would have anything as impressive as a full-grown Noctowl.

“What happened to you?” one asked, as I limped by on bruised legs.

I held up the Noctowl's ball.

“That did,” I replied tiredly, and walked on, knowing that they were all staring at my torn clothes and slashed face and wondering what on earth I'd caught. A secret smile crossed my face: if I wasn't mistaken, I'd just become cool.

Things were looking up, it's true. But there was one thing I hadn't thought of before I'd caught the Noctowl - something I'd never even considered might be a problem. Something that I should've thought of right away, and yet never realised until I actually let it out at the Lodge.

That thing was how hard it would be to get the damn thing to obey me.




Comedy:

A Letter of Complaint to J. H. Aswith's of Tunbridge Wells [T]

Spoiler:
Falkingdale House
10 Mortmonceau Street
London
SWC 4PB

J.H. Aswith
Studio 42
The Old Priory
24 Redgeford Road
Tunbridge Wells

Dear sir,

I am writing to you with the aim of lodging a formal complaint about the installation you made on my tropical island volcano lair during March of this year.

Faced with but a single unlikely hero, the systems completely and utterly failed to function in any manner even close to that which was advertised. The inability of the slow-burning lasers to kill a hero strapped to a table I will admit was due to cunning use of mirrored sunglasses on the part of said victim, but the penetration of the 'indestructible' blast doors with a makeshift crowbar cannot be put down to anything but poor craftsmanship: while the body of the doors remained intact, the hinges were easily broken with a couple of blows. This 'fatal weakness', as the aforementioned unlikely hero put it, is a defect that seems to be common to all the defence systems I employed you to install.

The swinging axe-blades, for instance, while admirably sharp, were held in place by cheap rope that the said unlikely hero easily burned through with a cigarette lighter. He was also able to wedge the walls that close in apart with an old brick, which the mechanism ought to have been able to overcome – I draw your attention to the advert which claimed the walls could 'pulverise concrete in thirty seconds'.

Furthermore, the hero and his accomplice, a surprisingly feisty young heroine, managed to escape the shark pool by means of the drainage pipe – the hatch covering which was held shut by nothing more than a simple rusty wheel. I am sure you must agree that the stiffness of a pin cannot be relied upon to act as a locking mechanism, and question why it was that you installed such a device.

The most unacceptable oversight, however, is the inclusion of a long, straight pipe leading from the rear veranda of my lair directly to the interior of the nuclear reactor providing power to my doomsday device. As a result of this, the unlikely hero was able to drop a grenade into the reactor – a grenade, I might add, purloined from my own armoury, the lock of which was installed by you with the proviso that it was impossible to pick. In consequence, this single grenade destroyed my entire lair, caused the eruption of the volcano, ruined my doomsday device and severely devalued the property. The cost of the damage, in conjunction with that incurred by paying out compensation to the families of the seventy-three henchmen who perished in the blast, has financially ruined me, and the radiation rendered many of my remaining employees sterile.

I could not even escape the wreckage, as the jet-powered escape pod you supplied me with failed a mere five seconds after take-off, dropping me into the lava flow and resulting in extreme disfigurement on my part. I now find myself prone to maniacal cackling and sudden bouts of swearing vengeance on those who destroyed my life's work; my psychiatrist, the eminent Dr. Charles Dupont, is of the opinion that my mental disturbance is a direct result of the trauma that you are in no small way responsible for.

The only product that I purchased from you that functioned as advertised was the helicopter that the unlikely hero and feisty heroine stole from my launch pad and used to escape my devastated island. Obviously, this sort of failure to provide is completely unacceptable, and I demand a full refund of the cost of erecting the lair, as well as $2,000,000 in compensation, which will adequately cover the cost of replacing henchmen and remedial plastic surgery, and allow me to return to full-time work as a criminal genius within a year.

Please find enclosed a letter from my lawyer.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. James P. Evil, M.D.



Horror:

The Last Story in the World [T]

Spoiler:
They were here.

That was how her story would begin, thought Nadia: in media res, dropping the reader straight into the twisted wreck of her life, forcing them to piece together bits of knowledge here and there as they went along. No time for backstory, no time for explanations; she was Nadia, the others were gone, and there were monsters.

They were here.

The apartment block was shot through with night like a widow's dress; once, there had been electricity, but now there was no prolonging the day. Too many dead, she supposed – no one left, except her. Her story was a dark one, with only one character and a thousand fearsome antagonists.

They were here.

Nadia felt like she was drenched in silence. She'd spent days – weeks – hell, maybe months; she had no way of knowing – in the apartment, moving quietly, never talking, eking out the food and hoping against hope that one day a human voice would break the silence.

They were here.

She'd been a writer once – not a professional one, a scribbler, an amateur wordsmith. And in her head, a vast story had spun out over the endless night with a cast of millions, dying and chewing and fighting and screwing and falling over themselves in an effort to make it out the other side.

They were here.

Now she could hear the soft, heavy drag of flesh across carpet outside, and a new story started with three short words she had been dreading since she'd first barricaded the door:

They were here.

Nadia pressed her ear cautiously against the door and listened. The thing was snuffling now, and in her mind's eye, honed by years of writing and weeks of isolation, she saw its muzzle pressed deep into the carpet, searching for the scent of food, of flesh and sweat – the scent of Nadia.

She recoiled sharply, crawling backwards away from the door as fast as she dared. The room was dark as pitch, but she knew the layout by heart now: table on the left, chair just ahead, and to the right, the sofa.

Nadia planted one hand firmly on the sofa arm and eased herself up onto her feet, holding her breath. Quiet now, she told herself. Quiet quiet quiet. Stay calm and make no noise.

Outside, the monster rumbled, and Nadia's heart jumped, slamming hard into her ribs and almost knocking her over. Steady, she thought. Steady, Nadia; stay steady. She stole across the room, bare feet silent on the carpet – she had learned already that shoes were far too noisy – and into the kitchen, closing the door behind her.

Something thumped against the front door.

Nadia choked on her tongue, held in the resulting cough and clenched her fists hard. Ragged fingernails left little crescents in her palms, and she thought she felt blood – but when she touched it, there was nothing there but skin.

Too jumpy, she told herself, fighting the urge to scream. Calm down. There's nothing here yet.

Through the kitchen, into the bedroom. She'd perfected this plan a long time ago; there hadn't been much else to do. The story went on, she thought; the heroine kept running, the monsters kept chasing, and all the knights were dead.

Somewhere in the dark a shot rang out, and another – and then silence. Nadia didn't even notice, because the thing had broken down the door in a violent splintering of wood, all the louder after the long silence, and involuntarily she screamed.

It was a tiny scream, a small wavering cry that she bit back as soon as she heard it, but it was enough. The beast let out a bizarre sound halfway between a snarl and a cackle, and the scraping and thumping grew faster and louder—

Crack!

The sound of the kitchen door splitting brought her back to her senses in a rush, and Nadia turned and ran. Past the bed, slide open the window, onto the balcony, up on the rail and—

She stopped. It was a long way to the next balcony, she thought, and a very long way down. The street below was too dark to see, but she knew this was the seventh storey, and that meant one missed step would result in a long drop and an all-too-sudden stop.

Claws on linoleum screeched out from the kitchen, and the story wrote out another line in Nadia's head – she knew that the asphalt was kinder than the teeth – and without any hesitation she flung herself out over the street—

—and her fingers closed around cold metal, the balcony railings firm within her grasp. Tears welled up in the corners of her eyes, and she scrambled up and over, barrelling into the apartment and slamming the window behind her.

Silence.

Chest heaving, breath rasping, mind racing, standing rigidly in an unfamiliar sitting-room – and silence.

Then, wrote Nadia in her head, she heard it.

The thing had slithered out onto the balcony, she knew; she heard it hiss in the night air, heard its thick tail slap against the concrete, a sound like a baby thunderclap. Now it was retreating, back into her apartment, and Nadia sank down onto the floor in relief. She was shaking, she saw: her hands, silhouetted against the moonlight-drenched curtains, were trembling like leaves in the wind.

She should leave the similes behind, she told herself. This was no time for stories. She had to stay alert.

Crawling over to the wall, Nadia heard it lumbering slowly back the way it had come, poking at something in the bedroom – her stuffed toys, from the sound – and turning over cookbooks in the kitchen. Was it looking for her? Did it think she might be there still, hiding from it in some obscure nook?

The story went on:

It was then that she noticed the blood.

Nadia lifted her hand, the monster next door suddenly forgotten, and realised that it was sticky with something that glinted darkly in the dim light. She swallowed, heart trying to climb out of her mouth, and felt on the floor to her left.

There was slick smoothness where the face should have been.

She might have fainted for a moment – just for half a second, not even long enough to hit the floor. The gorge rose in her throat, but Nadia held it back, the monster next door swimming vaguely into her head; she couldn't make noise, it would be fatal to make noise—

Nadia found herself on the other side of the room, wiping her hand on the carpet. She didn't know how she'd got there, but didn't question it; the thing hadn't heard, and she was away from the man on the floor, and that was all that mattered.

She forced her breath to slow, fingers curling tightly around the threads of the carpet. Be quiet, Nadia, she ordered herself, reason just about holding off fear. Be quiet. Be quiet and nothing can find you, no monsters will get you, you won't get hurt...

Perhaps she was mad, but the story couldn't be stopped; it lurched on through her head with the unstoppable might of a rolling boulder, and she could not blank out the words that rang in her ears, read out in her own voice:

As she regained her composure, she began to think about her situation. She thought about the monster in her sitting-room, and remembered that she had heard it come up the stairs. That meant that it had not come from the next-door apartment.

Nadia's heart skipped a beat – and for once it wasn't a turn of phrase. It actually stopped for a moment.

And that meant there was another one in here with her.

Nadia was on her feet—

There were red eyes in the dark—

Yellow teeth flew forward—

Nadia tripped.

It was a classic horror-film moment, the story went, the heroine runs, but she loses her footing and falls to the floor as the steady paces of the killer draw nearer—

“Stop!” Nadia screamed, voice broken and raw with long disuse. “No more words!”

The thing paused, thrown by the sudden noise, and Nadia scrambled to her feet, stumbling forwards past heaps of unfamiliar furniture, heedless of the noise. Crash – a cutlery drawer; thump – a lamp; crack – a cupboard door.

And the throbbing thunder of the monster's roar behind her.

Front door, hallway, something crunching under her foot, down the stairs. The world flashed by in a disjointed collection of images: torn carpet, the hall window, the newel post and a hunk of meat.

She could hear the first monster now, alerted by the noise, heaving its bloated belly over the furniture as it rushed after her.

Around the landing, down the next flight of stairs, into the sixth-floor hall. The doors to the two closest apartments were ajar; a thought flashed through Nadia's mind with the speed of Time's scythe and she slammed one shut before slipping past the other and into the dark room beyond.

All at once, the sound of her footsteps was gone; now, crouched behind a sofa, eyes fixed on the crack of light at the edge of the door, Nadia could hear nothing but her own breath rasping in her throat and the two monsters bounding down the stairs, wheezing like old men. Perhaps they had been asthmatic, she thought distantly, back when they were still human.

They had reached the bottom now – she heard the rhythm of their footsteps change, and their pace slow as they paced towards her. She hoped they'd be fooled; she prayed they'd be fooled. If they hadn't heard the door slam – or if they had but knew she was only trying to trick them—

She heard the other door open, and sighed silently, tears of relief starting from her eyes. The trick had worked. They were in the other apartment.

Sounds drifted through the wall to Nadia's ears: tails scraping, claws clicking; breath stuttering and flat fleet slapping. Now they were pushing the furniture around, wondering where she had hidden herself; now they were snorting and rumbling at each other, as if discussing the hunt; now they had discovered something to eat, and a ghastly chewing sound emanated from the apartment.

In the dark, said the story, seizing on the detail and building a mountain of horrific images from it, she couldn't see how pale she had gone; it didn't matter. She could feel how afraid she was anyway.

Now was the time. She couldn't stay here; she had to get somewhere else – anywhere else – before they thought to come in here, and right now they were distracted by their meal.

Nadia swallowed, and crept towards the door.

Next door, the chewing and tearing continued – almost as loud as her pulse, thought Nadia. In fact, it was a wonder that anything could drown that out; she was sure they must be able to hear it, jackhammering away behind her ribs.

She slunk past the open door, as wary and quiet as an alley cat passing the animal pound. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see them shuffling, tipping their heads back to swallow mouthfuls of something meaty – but she kept her gaze straight ahead, not trusting herself not to scream if she looked directly at them.

And then she was past. The stairs lay before her, and Nadia let out a soundless sigh of relief as she set her foot on the first step with a loud creak.

It seemed so loud in the silence, like a belch at a funeral. Her whole body tensed, each muscle instantly ready to flee – but there was nothing to run from. She leaned forwards, trying to see what the beasts were doing, and caught a glimpse of them through the door, still engrossed in their meal.

Never had the walk up the stairs seemed so long. Every step was an eon of anticipation; each tiny shift of the carpet beneath her sent waves of paralysing dread through her, as if the act of simply existing would bring them down upon her.

The story was getting to her, too. Nadia was beginning to think she might have been a little more affected by the isolation and the dark than she thought; she should definitely be in control of her internal commentary, not a powerless bystander swept up in its flow. By the time she reached the top of the stairs, she was sweating from the effort of holding back the words, and as she crept back to her apartment, her concentration slipped and let a half-sentence through:

—the end was in sight—

Nadia shook her head and pushed through the splintered remnants of her front door. They wouldn't come back here, she thought. They'd already searched here and she'd run; surely they'd continue the search elsewhere.

She passed through the kitchen, picking her way through the pots and pans strewn across the floor; she passed the fridge, long since dead, and the cupboard where she kept the last of the food and water.

The bedroom. The door was still intact here; this would be her fortress now. In fact, she thought, she didn't want to leave it ever again, and she went back to the kitchen to gather up her remaining supplies, to hide under the bed. She didn't count them – she didn't need to. She knew how much was left, and that it would be enough to last a day or so.

She shut the door, and sat down cross-legged on the floor; she shut her eyes, and in her mind's eye saw the remnants of the man and woman downstairs. She saw them turn and pace steadily towards the stairs; she saw them creeping across the landing and up to the hall.

Nadia's eyes opened wide and she bit her lip so hard she drew blood.

They had always known where she was, she realised. All this time, she had been thinking of them as monsters, but she knew better in her heart. There was still a spark of intellect behind those bloody, twisted faces, and they had known where she would go.

“No,” whispered Nadia. “No, they can't...”

She wanted to get up, to move to the window, but she had to stop and listen. The story dictated what would happen, she told herself, and she couldn't defy it.

She saw them push aside the fragments of the door and drag themselves through the sitting-room. They were in no hurry; after all, this was the climax of the chase, and according to all the rules, they had to approach with measured paces while the heroine fretted helplessly.


The first impact shook the door; the second saw a blunt, bony muzzle poke through the woodwork.

Quite simply, this appeared to be the end.

And then it was gone: the story had ended. For a moment, Nadia was frozen in surprise, and there was another thumping blow on the door – and then she came to her senses, feeling more alert and alive than she had for a long time. It was stupid: there was never anything in the story. It was just the product of a fevered mind with no stimulation. She had been a little crazy, but she was all right now—

The monster came through the door.

Nadia flung herself out of her thoughts and across the bed, springing up and sprinting out onto the balcony as heavy jaws closed at her heels. Both beasts were behind her now; she felt their hot, rank breath on her neck, and with a certain quiet detachment she realised she had no hope of making the jump to the next balcony again. There was no time.

A phrase came into her head, a fragment of the burnt-out story: she knew that the asphalt was kinder than the teeth.

“The end,” said Nadia aloud, and dropped away into the dark.



Mystery/Suspense:

The Bizarre Case of the Silver Ring [T]

Spoiler:
I suppose I ought to have seen this coming. People like her don't come to people like me; they go to someone like Holmes, someone with class. But I didn't think of it at the time, and took the case – and now I'm about to join the ranks of the undead.

I estimate I have about three seconds before I die – not that it will last long. After all, I'm going to come straight back again, albeit in a form more suited to battling Her Majesty's armed forces while the forces of darkness steal the throne.

And all because of that one woman. I remember her well – she's here in the room, I think, quietly gibbering in the corner. She looks different now; when she came in, she had an air of power about her, a quiet confidence that when she gave an order, everyone around her would jump to obey. It was enough to make me look up sharply when she came in: people like her didn't turn up every day.

I eyed her from behind the desk. I wasn't as arrogant as Holmes – I didn't force people into my cramped bedsit. Instead, I had a little office in Cheapside; nothing too glamorous, but I liked to think it was that much more professional.

“Are you Mr. Wemmick?” she asked.

“Yes, I am,” I replied. Clients usually say that, and for the life of me I can't think of why. They just came through a door with my name on it, for God's sake.

“My name is Isobel Emsworth,” she said, and paused as if waiting for me to react; when I showed no sign of recognition, she carried on, slightly disappointed. “You were recommended to me by a friend, who says you're quite as good as Mr. Holmes and much cheaper.”

I raised my eyebrows. Holmes. Always damn Holmes. The whole of London was obsessed with the man; if I ever got my hands on that John Watson, there would probably be blood spilt.

“Well, your friend certainly has good taste in consulting detectives,” I told her. “Please, sit down and tell me what it is you need.”

Miss Emsworth – I was almost certain she was unmarried – looked at the chair, decided it was just clean enough and sat down fastidiously on the very edge of it.

“I would have chosen Holmes at the start,” she said, “but I wouldn't want that Mr. Watson to write about the case in . It's rather a private matter.”

“Yes,” I said patiently, “but what is the matter? I assume you haven't come all the way here for the pleasure of it.”

She looked a little nettled at that. I expect it wasn't everyday that people dared to speak to her like that – and maybe I'd regret doing so once I found out who she was. I didn't care. She was mentioning Holmes too much for my liking.

“My brother died recently,” she said, though she didn't sound particularly upset about it, “and he had in his possession a rather valuable family heirloom at the time.”

“An heirloom that has since gone missing?” I asked.

“Yes,” confirmed Miss Emsworth. “A silver ring. It's been in my family for generations, and since he is now deceased, it should have been passed on to me – but when I came to collect his effects, I couldn't find it.”

“Are you sure it isn't just lost?” I asked. “A great many people think things have been stolen when... well, when they haven't.”

“Quite sure,” she replied. “The thief stole the whole finger he was wearing it on – cut clean off at the base.”

I sat back, surprised. Who on earth would cut off a finger to steal a ring?

“I see,” I said slowly. “Very well, I suppose I can investigate for you. In strictest confidence, is that correct?”

“It would be much appreciated,” answered Miss Emsworth. “When can you start?”

“I think I already have,” I told her. “Where does your brother live?”

---

As it turned out, he lived in the heart of Belgravia, on Eaton Square – the mention of which made the cab driver immediately suspect me of being at once very wealthy and very stupid. In consequence, he spent most of the trip mentioning quite loudly how expensive it was to maintain a hackney cab, and to keep a horse, even if it was a magical construct, and how he had an exceptionally large family to support. Since I didn't have enough money to spare to get him to shut up, I sat and suffered in silence until we reached our destination, where I exacted a small vengeance by putting my sleight-of-hand skills to good use and taking a shilling of his payment back out of his hand without him noticing.

The house itself was large and grand, and part of a terrace of large grand houses; if Miss Emsworth was anything like as rich as her brother, there might be quite a good fee in this case. I surveyed it happily for a moment, then knocked on the door – which was answered so suddenly that it almost seemed like the servant behind it had been lying in wait for me.

“Good afternoon,” I said. “My name is Silas Wemmick – consulting detective.”

“Like Sherlock Holmes?” asked the man curiously.

“Yes,” I replied through gritted teeth. “Just like Sherlock Holmes. I've been engaged by Miss Emsworth to search for a missing ring.”

The light dawned on him, and he nodded in comprehension.

“Ah, I see,” he said. “Please, sir, come in.”

I followed him into an elegant hall, where he offered me something to drink; I declined in favour of seeing the room where his master had died immediately. He led me upstairs to a spacious bedroom, and pointed out a large armchair near the bed.

“He was found there,” he told me. “I don't know what happened, to be sure. He was in the best of health the night before, and in the morning – dead!” He shook his head with a kind of ghoulish delight; evidently he hadn't liked him all that much. “His body is still being examined at the Royal London Hospital.”

“Why would the finger be cut off, do you think?” I asked, crouching over the armchair. There was a patch of dried blood on the arm and a drop on the carpet beneath, and the cushions were buckled with familiar use.

The man chuckled quietly.

“Why would it be cut off? Had you ever seen Mr. Emsworth, sir?”

“No. He was overweight, then?”

“Very much so,” replied the servant. “I doubt the ring could have been removed by any other means.”

The armchair told me as much: the size of the depressions in it indicated tremendous weight. I stood up and walked across to the window to judge how easy it would be to get in from outside.

“Did anyone come in that night?” I asked. “Through the door, that is.”

“No, sir,” he replied. “The locks and bolts were all in order in the morning. I would know if anyone had come in through the doors.”

“Which leaves the window,” I muttered to myself. “Not too hard to get to, but risky.” It faced the square; anyone coming in that way would be easily spotted. “What other ways in are there?” I asked aloud.

“The back door is also in order, and the windows there look onto the yard, which is surrounded by a wall,” he told me. “No one could get in there, not even from the other house – Mr. Emsworth liked his privacy, sir, and was a little paranoid at times.”

How rude he was, I thought. They hadn't even ascertained his employer's cause of death yet and here he was talking about him like this.

“I see,” I said. “I don't suppose you know if anyone particularly wanted the ring? Someone who might have been willing to steal it?”

“Let me think... No, sir. I'm quite sure there wasn't.” He looked at me. “Will that be all?”

“I suppose so. For now.”

I left the house in a pensive mood. I was almost certain the intruder had come through the window – under the latch were a series of fresh lines scored in the paint, as if someone had forced it open with a screwdriver or small crowbar. What I wanted to know now was who had done it, and whether or not they had also killed Emsworth; I needed, I decided, to visit the Royal London Hospital to see how he had died.

I would have gone there, too, and in all probability would have continued the investigation as normal, had not I hailed a cab and got in to find a man aiming a gun at me.

“Shut the door,” he said. “Sit down.”

I complied, acutely aware of the balance of power, and watched him as the cab began to move. He was a military-looking gentleman with a stiff white moustache and a lined face; I suspected he had spent many years working with guns, and knew well how to use the weapon he held.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Can't tell you,” he replied. “National secret.” He indicated the closed curtains. “Who's employing you?”

“Miss Emsworth. Mr. Emsworth's sister.”

“Doesn't have a sister. It's a trick.”

“What?”

Things were all beginning to get very confusing; I prided myself on having quite a sharp mind, but I didn't understand what was happening.

The man stroked his moustache pensively, and put down his gun.

“Look,” he said, “I'll be frank with you. Emsworth was a colleague of mine.”

“Really?”

“Yes. First Sorcerous Fusiliers, accountable directly to Queen Victoria herself.” He straightened up a little when he mentioned Her Majesty's name – force of habit, I assumed.

“Ah. Now that you mention it, I do believe there was a magic-tap by his bedside.”

“Yes. High quality – straight from Stonehenge. Damn good stuff.”

I sighed.

“Where is this going, Mr... I'm sorry, I didn't get your name.”

“Hawksworth. Colonel Hawksworth.”

“Colonel Hawksworth, if Miss Emsworth is not, in fact, Miss Emsworth, and Mr. Emsworth is a military wizard, what exactly does that mean for me?”

“It means you need to drop the case,” he told me. “We were on the trail of a band of warlocks – necromancers, doncha know. Seized a ring of power from them – Anglo-Saxon runes, powerful stuff – in a raid last week, but he was cursed. Took hold last night.” He shook his head. “Damn shame.”

I waited to see if he would say any more, but he didn't. Since he was being so uncooperative, I tried to figure things out for myself.

“So you broke in and stole the ring yourself, suspecting the warlocks would get it back?”

“Correct. And I was right – this Miss Emsworth turned up the next morning, claiming it was a family heirloom.”

“Right. So Miss Emsworth is a necromancer?”

“Don't be stupid,” said the Colonel. “She's a corpse, doncha know. Freshly reanimated, quite well restored, higher brain functions mostly intact – but a corpse for all that.”

I smiled pleasantly.

“Colonel, these are bizarre accusations. If I'm not mistaken, necromancers haven't been found in London since 1760 – more than a hundred years ago.”

“You know your wizarding history,” replied the Colonel approvingly. “Damn fine thing, that. Appreciate it in a man. Wemmick, is it?”

He jumped from topic to topic incredibly abruptly; I was finding it difficult to maintain the conversation.

“Um, yes. Silas Wemmick – consulting—”

“Consulting detective, yes, I know. Here, let me give you some proof.” The Colonel rummaged in his pockets and produced a silver ring and a little enamelled badge that proclaimed him to be a Colonel in Her Majesty's Own First Sorcerous Fusiliers. I inspected them, then handed them back.

“I see. In that case, I suppose Miss Emsworth was sent to make me recover the ring?”

“Yes. I suppose they thought the other detective – that Holmes chap – would have seen through it all.”

“Did they now.” I pictured myself casting Miss Emsworth into the mouth of Hell for a moment, then returned to the present. “Yes, her reason for not going to Holmes was fairly flimsy... All right. Will you want me to go home and forget about it, then?”

“No,” he said. “You need protection. They're not going to stop looking for the ring, doncha know. And if you refuse—”

“They'll know I'm in contact with you. Of course.” I sighed. “For how long?”

“Until they're arrested. Or killed,” he added reflectively.

“So where are we going?” I asked.

“We—” began the Colonel, but got no further, because at that time something hit the carriage and it bucked on its wheels as if charged by a rhinoceros, knocking us both out of our seats. I sprung back to my feet and tore aside the curtain to stick my head out of the window; the cab driver was gone, the carriage was trailing bluish flames and the horse appeared to have been replaced with a perfect replica, only without any skin.

“Bloody hell!” cried the Colonel, grabbing his gun so violently that he almost shot his moustache off. “They found us!”

And that was how I ended up here, in the basement of a ramshackle tenement in Hackney. As it turned out, Her Majesty's forces weren't all that well-prepared, for the Colonel was swiftly overpowered by the skeleton driving the cab; I was going to jump out and make a break for it, but there was some sort of invisible barrier blocking the doors and windows, and I couldn't leave.

Once we arrived, I was treated to a villainous speech about how our captors were going to use the ring to raise an army of the dead from London's graveyards and overthrow Queen Victoria, and then prepared for ritual execution and then zombification. I shan't recount it all; it was very melodramatic, and rather trite. But all in all, it was rather a startling turn of events, and rather a busy day for a Wednesday.

And that led to me being here, three seconds away from death. I suppose there's a slight chance of a deus ex machina, but I'm not feeling too hopeful.

Wait. What? The ring of power doesn't appear to be doing anything. I'm... still alive.

“What?” cries the necromancer. “What treachery is this?”

“My good man,” says the Colonel, chuckling slightly, “did you really think you would get the better of a Sorcerous Fusilier that easily?”

He lifts his bound hands apart, the rope crumbling into nothing, and raises one high – revealing a little copper band on one finger.

“This is the real ring of power,” he explains. “You dark wizards are all like magpies – fooled by a piece of shiny silver. Now I know where you've been operating, there really remains nothing more for me to do than to kill you all and preserve the crime scene for later investigation.”

So saying, he hurls a few bolts of lightning about, which had the effect of atomising the necromancers and re-killing their minions, and leads me back outside.

“Sorry about that,” he says as we walk. “Sting operation, doncha know. Had to look real.”

I nod.

“Quite all right, Colonel. I suppose I have to sign some sort of secrecy contract?”

He looks at me askance.

“Good Lord, no!” he cries. “Quite the reverse. Feel free to spread the word. Get the public on their guard against the black arts. Do them good to have someone other than the French to complain about for once.”

“Er – as you wish.”

Feeling somewhat confused, I take my leave and wander home. Unless I am very much mistaken, I've just lived through the strangest and most pointless day of my entire life. Then again, that's wizards for you, as my grandfather used to say: grand, mysterious and completely nonsensical.


Short Story/Character:

Ruminations of a Baked Comestible [T]

Spoiler:
I'm writing this in maple syrup on the side of the plate, in the hope that someone might come in and read it. Of course, I'm pretty sure that if they do come in, they'll look at the man slumped in the chair behind me before they look at the plate, but I'm nothing if not optimistic, and I've got quite a bit of time on my hands.

I'd have thought that someone as fat as this guy would've eaten me by now, and the fact that he hasn't and that I'm lying here getting cold indicates something's gone wrong – heart attack, maybe. After all, I've been in his fridge, and there's a lot of junk food in there, including the rest of the packet I came from.

Oh, here I am going on about everything but myself, and I bet you're all confused, aren't you? Well, have a look at the waffle lying next to this writing on the plate. That's me. You can say hello if you like; I haven't a mouth to speak Human with, but rest assured that if I'll reply in kind. I'm a polite waffle, me – my mum, a waffle iron in a factory in Basingstoke, always said as much. Well, I say 'always' – we were actually only acquainted for a few seconds before the conveyor belt swept me away to be put in the packet. Ah, well. Everyone leaves home eventually – it's just that some leave sooner than others.

I expect you're wondering how I'm writing a message in the syrup. It's quite simple, really – I'm mildly telekinetic. Don't look at me like that. I mean, you're reading a monologue written by a waffle named Bobby. It really isn't that much more far-fetched to say I have psychic powers into the bargain.

Now I have all that explained, what shall I write? I'm not really sure. I've had a very limited experience of life. I lived in a supermarket in Slough until Monday. Then I spent a day in a fat man's fridge, and I fully expected to be chewed up and swallowed by the end of today, since my Best Before date's up tomorrow. But something's happened, and now the fat man's just sitting there, staring into space. I can't see him very well – no eyes, you know – but I think he might be dead.

Ah. It's just occurred to me that you're probably not taking this seriously. After all, I can't talk to you to prove it's me writing this, and I know you humans have a little trouble believing in sentient food, particularly as it doesn't make any sense according to your science. (I'm telling you, psychic powers. They explain everything.) You might think the fat man here has written this in the syrup before downing a packet of pills and a bottle of Jack Daniels in an effort to bid the world adieu – but honestly, what sort of suicide note is this? Who in their right mind would write a monologue from the point of view of a waffle named Bobby as their last message to the world?
Oh, sorry about that. Got a bit morbid there – didn't mean to offend. You're not a child, are you? Actually, while we're on the subject of children, can I ask a question?

What are they, exactly?

I mean, I know they're innocent and need to be protected – that much I've worked out from what I overheard in the supermarket. (Not that I could hear much, wrapped in cellophane.) I also know that they apparently love the delicious taste of new Zorbo brand strawberry-flavour milkshake mix, but I read that on the back of the packet and frankly I don't trust adverts I find on packets of anything, let alone milkshake mix. So if you could tell me what exactly children are, I'd very much appreciate it. Obviously you wouldn't be able to tell that I appreciated it, but I would.

I suppose you might be wondering what I plan to do now. After all, no one will want to eat me, and I'm probably going to get thrown away once someone finds this. I've heard that people often tell children – there they are again; what are they? – to eat everything on their plates, and let me tell you, there's good reason for it. No foodstuff wants to end their days on a landfill site with worms burrowing through their innards, especially not artificial ones like me. We were created for you to eat, and we'd like nothing more than to be swiftly moved on from cooker to mouth to stomach, with minimum fuss. No faffing about, please: just down the hatch.

That's one reason I'm writing this, I think. I don't want to die a slow death of decomposition – and I don't even want to be famous, either. Don't make a big thing of me being sentient; I don't want to write books or become integrated with human society. I just want someone to eat me. There. I've made a formal request, in writing – can't say fairer than that.

All right, I'm running out of maple syrup – and out of space on the plate, actually. If I wasn't so precise with my telekinesis, I'd have run out a long time ago, I can tell you. Anyway, I don't have the syrup for any more digressions. I'll just say goodbye and have done with it.


Parody:

Wrapping Things Up [T]

Spoiler:
“Now that we are all gathered,” said Mr. Parrot, “I shall reveal... the killer.”

“Yes, we'd gathered that much,” snapped Jack irritably. “Get on with it, won't you?”

The storm had abated since the murder, and no lasting damage having been inflicted on the ship, they were once more on course and set to reach Bournemouth by eight. By a happy coincidence, Mr. Parrot had also concluded his investigations, and had gathered everyone – Jack, Lindsey, Sam, Major Hawthorne, Susan and Elise – in the parlour so as to reveal their results before they made landfall.

“At first,” continued the little Belgian, apparently unconcerned by Jack's outburst, “it seemed that the obvious suspect was Mr. Adlington, who stood to gain a considerable sum of money by his brother's death, and who was also conveniently unaccounted-for at the time of the murder.”

“Now, just wait a moment—” began the accused, starting from his seat, but Parrot kept talking.

“But then I investigated his cabin, and determined by the stress marks on the pages of his book that it was very likely that he had been reading at the time,” he said. “And certainly he arrived at the dining-hall far too quickly to have come from Mr. Adlington's cabin after killing him; he was perfectly punctual, and his brother was killed as the dinner bell rang.”

“How do you know that?” asked Lindsey.

“Because he not only wrote the date in his diary but also the time,” Parrot replied. “When he was found, he had half-completed a diary entry marked at six fifty-five – and from the amount he had written, he would have to have been killed at least four or five minutes after.”

“Well,” said Sam Adlington, settling down. “Well, I'm glad that's me out of the way.”

“Quite. Well, as you can imagine, this made things more complicated – but ah! Set the little grey cells in motion, and complications can be overcome.”

“We didn't come here for lessons in detectivery,” interrupted Jack. “Just tell us who killed Harold!”

“I am getting to that,” said Parrot, a trace of irritation crossing his brow. “But you must understand how I came to the conclusion.”

“Jack, let him be,” said Elise. “I think it's rather fun – us all gathered here to hear how the detective solved it. Just like a story!”

Jack grumbled, but subsided, and Parrot continued.

“I made a second search of Mr. Adlington's cabin,” he said, “and took from under the dresser this.” He held up something small that glittered silver in the light. “An earring,” he proclaimed. “Set with a genuine pearl – its authenticity confirmed by Miss Weatherford. Your jeweller's skills were invaluable, madame,” he added.

At this acknowledgement, Elise bobbed in her seat and practically burst with excitement.

“Mr. Adlington had no use for such a thing – nor did it have a partner in the cabin. But while we were playing bridge that evening I noticed that Miss Ramsey had exchanged the pearl earrings she was wearing the day before for a ruby pair.”

All eyes fell onto Susan, who stared back, frozen, for a moment – then suddenly let out a scornful laugh.

“So! We were lovers. There's nothing sinister about that.”

“Quite right,” agreed Parrot. “But 'Miss Lennox' might think otherwise – as Mr. Adlington's wife!”

There was a general intake of breath and murmur of astonishment around the room, and Lindsey looked like a fox caught in headlights.

“You admitted owning a revolver for reasons of self-defence,” Parrot told her. “You were also five minutes late to dinner on the evening of Mr. Adlington's death. And most of all, you knew he was having an affair.”

“Stop!” she cried, and the assembled company held its collective breath—

“But, of course, you did not kill him,” said Parrot, apparently unaware of the tension he had just destroyed. “Mr. Adlington was poisoned, not shot, and you could not have done that.”

“But how did you know she was his wife?” asked the Major. “Damned if I can see.”

“The mark of the wedding-ring on their fingers,” Parrot explained. “Observation, that is all, Major.”

“I see. But why were they hiding it? Rum sort of marriage where it's all kept in the dark, doncha know.”

“Because they did not want their marriage to be generally known about, for Mr. Adlington was acutely aware of the risk he ran in inviting Mr. Porterman, a known kidnapper and extortionist, aboard his ship.”

Another gasp, another murmur; this time, however, Jack was the object of everyone's stares.

“What the devil!” he exclaimed. “I never—”

“Mr. Porterman, though you did in fact have legitimate business to undertake with the late Mr. Adlington, I knew as soon as I saw you that I had seen you before – and I was correct. I had seen your photograph in The Times, twenty-six years ago when you were arrested for kidnapping the daughter of Lord Gloucester. You have changed your name since then, but not your face.”

Jack stared in mute apoplexy, mouth flapping uselessly in silent indignation for a moment. Then, with an almighty effort, he managed to force sound out of his throat once more.

“All right!” he cried viciously. “So I am. Another secret you've outed. But it has nothing to do with the situation at hand!”

“I had to reveal it to explain a detail,” Parrot said. “A murder has been committed, and one must approach things properly.”

“Yes, by revealing the killer, not the reformed kidnapper,” snapped Jack. “Look, I was never going to harm anyone here. I'm a changed man – I'm here on business!”

“I know,” replied Parrot, holding up a pacifying hand. “I know. And you are right: I should return to the murder. Where was I? Ah yes. The line of thought that had led me at first to suspect Mrs Adlington—”

“Just keep calling me Miss Lennox,” interrupted Lindsey in a hoarse, cracked voice. “He's gone now.”

“The line of thought that had led me at first to suspect Miss Lennox then reversed itself,” said Parrot. “During the afternoon, before Mr. Adlington's murder, I observed him speaking with Miss Ramsey on the upper deck. Major, I believe you were with me – and you, Miss Weatherford.”

“That's right,” affirmed Elise. “They were there.”

“Perhaps you did not see it, but I perceived that harsh words had passed between them, and that Miss Ramsey stalked away abruptly at the end of their meeting. This memory returned to me as I was considering the revelation about Miss Lennox and Mr. Adlington, and I realised that Miss Ramsey, in her prodigious make-up box, almost certainly had a bottle of peroxide. During the search of the cabins, I confirmed this, and it was indeed almost empty – so it began to seem that it could be possible that Miss Ramsey, in revenge for Mr. Adlington breaking off the affair, decided to kill him with poisonous hair dye.”

“But – but I didn't!” cried Susan. “Really, I—”

“Yes, I know,” said Parrot. “There was no trace of peroxide in the syringe – or indeed on anything in the room.”

“How many of us exactly do you plan to accuse of having killed him until you get to the point?” asked Jack.

Parrot beamed.

“Why, all of you, of course,” he said. “I am a detective, and naturally one must do things properly.”

Jack sighed.

“Carry on, then.”

“The syringe, as a matter of fact, was not tainted with any sort of poison that I recognised,” said Parrot. “I laid out a little for the birds, and finding them unharmed, licked it myself – and found that it was full of nothing but water. The so-called murder weapon was nothing but a bluff, an attempt to throw me off the scent!”

Elise gasped. No one else joined her.

“There was no poison in Mr. Adlington's glass – that much we know, since Miss Lennox had poured him the drink earlier. So the poison must have been administered by someone who entered the room as the dinner bell went, injected him with poison, planted a false syringe and left. That would have had to be someone who was late to dinner, of course – and the only people who were late to dinner were Miss Lennox – and Miss Weatherford.”

“Oh!” cried Elise. “But there are some people you haven't accused yet. Does that mean you don't think it was me?”

“Please, be patient. The master is at work.” Parrot indicated himself, just in case no one had worked out who the master was. “Miss Weatherford has in her possession a small container of iocaine powder – a deadly poison that is odourless, tasteless and dissolves instantly in water.”

“What on earth is she doing with that?” asked Sam.

“That is the question I set out to answer. It could easily have been made into a solution and injected into Mr. Adlington – but why would Miss Weatherford do such a thing?”

“I'm sure I don't know,” confessed Elise. “Why indeed?”

“Perhaps it is because her father was financially ruined by Mr. Adlington's company, and she has taken it upon herself to exact revenge,” suggested Parrot.

“So it's her!” cried the Major. “No other reason why she would have the iocaine powder.”

“Finally reached a conclusion, eh?” said Jack. “About time.”

“The only problem,” continued Parrot, “is that Miss Weatherford was not even aware that it was iocaine powder until I informed her of it.”

“Oh dear,” said Elise. “Is this going to come out now?”

“I'm afraid so. You see,” Parrot said, “the iocaine powder was sold to her in London as sherbet; if I had not chanced to walk in on her while she was about to consume it, she might very well have perished.”

“You...?” Lindsey stared at her.

“Yes, most people are surprised. I don't look like the sort for sherbet addiction, but...” said Elise, shrugging.

“Astounding,” said the Major, shaking his head.

“Yes. Who'd have thought it?” asked Sam.

“Miss Weatherford would hardly be likely to poison herself as well as Mr. Adlington, so she could not have done it,” Parrot went on. “And since I had discounted everyone else, that left only Mr. Porterman and Major Hawthorne.”

“At last!” said Jack.

“Mr. Porterman certainly could have killed Mr. Adlington, given that the business deal he had come here to discuss with him fell through after the discussions they had had a few days prior to the murder, and he freely admitted he would like to see him dead for it.”

“It's a figure of speech!” roared Jack, leaping to his feet. “I never touched the man!”

“That is assuredly so,” agreed Parrot. “There is no evidence other than this that you killed him.”

“So... it was the Major!” cried Susan. “But why?”

The old man was sitting very stiffly in his chair, eyes fixed on Parrot and grey moustaches quivering gently.

“The Major had a large array of poisons at his disposal,” Parrot told them. “There is nothing inherently suspicious about that, of course, since he works as a purveyor of rare toxins to the landed gentry. But he had a deep-seated grudge against Mr. Adlington that makes it all the more likely: he is his father!”

The news shook the room, and everyone burst out into excited chatter; a moment later, Parrot called them to order and continued:

“Mr. Adlington's diary revealed all. He had started suspected the Major of being his estranged father in disguise. They had been long separated – the Major had wanted his son to go into the family business, which Mr. Adlington had rejected and gone on to start his own – and the Major, so Mr. Adlington thought, had returned to see whether or not a reconciliation might be possible.

“However, the Major could not abide the decadence of his son's lifestyle – the ship, the mansion, the affair – and in his rage, killed him. The poison was secreted in Mr. Adlington's drink. But as we know, Miss Lennox prepared the drink – but she used ice cubes from the refrigerator. Ice cubes that had been prepared by the Major: ice cubes that had poison frozen in them, to melt slowly and kill Mr. Adlington at a time when the Major had an alibi!”

The Major rose to his feet in one fluid, powerful movement, like an avenging fiend.

“Now see here,” he began, in a thunderous voice, but Parrot was not to be stopped.

“But that is not all!” he said. “Because the Major did not kill Harold Adlington!”

Everyone froze.

“What?” asked Jack.

“Yes, the Major is innocent,” said Parrot. “For you see, there was no trace of poison at all in Mr. Adlington's drink!”

“Then why the bloody hell did you suggest it?” demanded the Major. “What the deuce is going on?”

“But who could have killed Mr. Adlington, if all of his shipmates were innocent of the crime? It came to me in a single blinding realisation: no one else could have done it, so I must be the killer!”

His companions stared at him.

“What?” asked Elise.

“How?” asked Sam.

“Of course, I had ample opportunity to steal one of the Major's poisons,” Parrot continued, “and though I was on time for dinner, it was only because I had the foresight to paint it on the legs of a fly and release it into Mr. Adlington's cabin. The fly, resistant to the toxin, eventually landed on him – where I discovered it later when I investigated the scene. Its feet had been fused to his skin with the reaction between the skin and the poison.

“But why, I asked myself? Why would I, who had never met Mr. Adlington before, have killed him? The answer was simple: it was a perfect crime. I, the detective, would never be suspected by myself as a potential suspect. Intoxicated by the thought of killing someone and getting away scot-free, I sprang into the crime – but that very intoxication was my undoing, as in my heady rush I forgot to implicate someone else to throw myself off my scent.”

His companions continued to stare.

“Mr. Parrot, you are absolutely insane,” Susan told him.

“That is very probably so,” he said gravely, “but I do not think it will mitigate the sentence. No, I am guilty – I have found me out – and must be treated as such. When we reach shore, I shall call for a policeman and have myself arrested – and only then will my vicious crime begin to be avenged!”


Sci Fi/Fantasy:

The Con [T]

Spoiler:
“Rum do this, isn't it?” asked Colonel Montgomery.

Given that we were currently hiding under a rocky outcrop to prevent ourselves from being roasted alive by a dragon, I was inclined to think he was understating matters a bit, but I nodded anyway. It was certainly bad situation, if a bit worse than he said.

I peered around the rocks and looked out across the burning field; there was no sign of the unicorn we'd been after, but the dragon was definitely still there, circling overhead and occasionally loosing jets of flame at things that caught its eye. I had no idea how many of the hunting party was left, but none were immediately visible.

“Colonel,” I said, “did you say the person organising this big game hunt was a personal friend of yours?”

“Yes, know him well,” he replied. “What of it?”

“Do you think you could perhaps pass on the message that I was an excellent guide, and well worth hiring again?” I asked pleadingly.

The dragon roared, and fire blasted out around the edge of the stones; we ducked close into the centre and watched the grass blacken on either side of us. The flames also incinerated the Colonel's pith helmet, but that was all right because he wasn't wearing it at the time.

“Because, to be honest, I think this is the fewest people I've ever lost on a hunt,” I pressed on.

“But we've had four confirmed deaths already!” cried the Colonel.

“Yes,” I said. “Good going, isn't it?”

“Good grief!” he murmured, distractedly running his hands over his rifle. “Four dead and it's good going...!”

“I think we probably ought to make a move,” I told him. “I can't imagine we're going to be able to stay here much – oh, God!”

The dragon was banking around again, thorny black wings spread as wide as Buckingham Palace, and bearing down upon us from the north – where there was no barrier between its fire and our faces but a single stunted hawthorn tree—

The Colonel and I parted immediately, flinging ourselves to either side of the boulders; a moment later, blue-white dragonfire set the ground ablaze and covered the rocks with soot. I didn't wait for the dragon to reignite its breath, and kept running, heading for the cover of the trees beyond the field. Behind me I heard an ear-splitting roar, and then intense heat seared my heels – but I was in the trees now, and under the cover of their branches the dragon couldn't see me.

“There,” I said with satisfaction, inspecting my boots and finding them only slightly singed. “Job done.”

It wasn't as if dragons were anything new for me. Three out of the last five big game hunts I'd led in the Austrian mountains had been terminated by the sudden intervention of dragons; sometimes a few people had asked if I thought they might be able to bring them down, and I usually said yes – they might. Unfortunately, they never actually did. Elephant guns worked fine on unicorns and trolls, but flying dragons were just too fast to hit.

“You!” cried another man, rising up from among the bushes. His hair was wild, his coat was burnt and there was blood on his face – but he was undoubtedly alive. How many was that, then? Six left in the party? Excellent, I thought. A personal record.

“Hello there, Mr. Johnson,” I said warmly. “How are you enjoying the trip?”

Overhead, the dragon roared, and I heard the sound of frenzied gunfire followed by Colonel Montgomery screaming.

“Damn,” I murmured. “I suppose six survivors was too good to be true.”

“Will you pull yourself together?” shrieked Mr. Johnson. “We're being slaughtered here!”

“I'm perfectly pulled together,” I said, heading deeper into the forest and away from the dragon's roaring. “In fact, I'm calm enough to be heading in a tranquil sort of way back to the motor-car. You do remember that we agreed to meet back there if we should become separated?”

“Are you listening to yourself? Everyone – everyone is dead...!”

“Not everyone,” I chided him, pushing past a bramble bush. “I mean, you're here, and I'm here, and I'm fairly certain that there are five others somewhere – at least, I haven't heard any of them scream. They might have died stoically and silently, I suppose, but people don't tend to do that when they get burned to death.”

There was a whoosh of flames from somewhere to our left, a glow through the trees, and another scream.

“There you go,” I said. “Not stoic or silent at all.”

“Good God!” exclaimed Johnson. “What possessed Mr. Fforde to hire you?”

“The fact that I'm English,” I replied. “Generally, these British parties like to be guided around here by a fellow countryman – someone who understands the importance of a cup of tea and knows the rules of cricket.”

“How are you taking this so lightly?”

“Because this is my third hunting party this summer and everyone's dead so far,” I replied. “In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not actually very good about it.”

“I'd gathered that, thanks,” replied Johnson sourly.

We emerged from the other end of the woods and there before us was the motor-car: one of Mr. Ford's finest, with a cart attached to haul anything that anyone managed to kill.

Suddenly, Mr. Johnson raised his rifle, set it against his shoulder and fired; something whinnied, and for the first time I noticed that the unicorn had been grazing near the motor-car.

“Good job,” I said. “Excellent shooting.”

“Just help me get it on the cart and let's get out of here,” he said sharply, and we both went down to haul it up there. In a minute or two, we had it secure – unicorns are a little smaller than regular horses, being technically a species of goat, and rather light-framed – and Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Soames and Mr. Fitherswop-Nathrington had turned up as well, although Mr. Soames appeared to be suffering from a bad case of an incinerated arm.

“Excellent!” I cried. “You made it!”

There was a roar, and tongues of flame licked out over the forest.

“Oh, and you brought him with you too,” I said. “That's... just great.” I sighed. “All right. Everyone into the motor-car! Mr. Johnson, you drive – I'll get in the back and secure the unicorn!”

No one argued – after all, the unicorn was the only thing of value that had come out of this trip so far – and they all piled into the car immediately. Mr. Johnson started it up just as I jumped into the trailer at the back, and a moment later the dragon appeared over the forest, trailing fire from its mouth like the coach-horse of the Devil.

“Faster, Mr. Johnson!” I yelled, but he needed no encouragement: we were off, bouncing from wheel to wheel along the track with careless disregard for the maintenance of the vehicle's chassis; in the back, the unicorn almost leaped clean out of the trailer with the force of one of the bumps, but I pressed it down and got a couple of ropes around its body.

The dragon was closer now – close enough that I could see its eyes, glowing like stars with the fire that was building up within its skull; some people said there was no brain inside a dragon's head, just more flames – flames upon fire upon inferno, all ready to spill out between its teeth at a moment's notice...

I grabbed my own rifle and fired a couple of hopeless shots at it; I wasn't much good with a gun, and though the dragon was a big target both it and I were moving at high speed, so all I succeeded in doing was putting bullets in a pair of harmless trees. If it understood what I was trying to do, it was laughing behind the flames.

“Faster!” I shouted again. “The fire isn't three yards behind us!”

Mr. Johnson yelled something back at me that was lost over the hideous roar of dragonfire; the Model T lurched forwards down the track, bounced narrowly between two trees and tipped itself onto the long, steep descent towards Aunschelschwetz. We were on the home straight, I thought, moments before being hurled bodily against the back of the motor-car by a sudden and vast acceleration.

The good news was that our change of pace and declivity had taken the dragon completely by surprise; it flew straight overhead, overshooting us by about three hundred yards; being so big, it couldn't turn around very fast, which gave us a little breathing space. Mr. Johnson took advantage of this to accelerate, and I took advantage of this to start sawing the top six inches off his unicorn's horn with the little sabre saw I kept in my jacket pocket for such occasions. I might very well be losing my guide's fee, but I'd be damned if I wasn't going to make a little money out of this at least.

Now the dragon was banking round again, and we were tearing down the forest trail at speeds Mr. Ford had never imagined his motor-cars might ever attain; the steep slope, the engine and Mr. Johnson's fear of being roasted alive all combined to plunge us into an abyssal river of unrelenting speed. Yet still the dragon kept pace with us, great black wings pumping hard and glowing faintly pink with the boiling blood within; it must happen soon, I thought – it couldn't keep this up forever...

And then, with one last jet of fire, it tipped one wing down and circled away, spiralling upwards to crest the hill. We were too much effort; it was a big animal and if it expended any more energy trying to catch us it would outweigh the nutriment it derived from our corpses.

“It's gone!” I cried. “Mr. Johnson, slow down!”

I think he heard me. I really do. It was just that by this point there was no stopping the motor-car, and with the inevitability of taxes it ploughed onwards, off the track and straight into a colossal oak tree.

---

A week later, I walked into the drawing-room of a Mr. Sanders, a man who had expressed an interest in organising a big game hunt and who I had recommended myself to as an experienced guide. I had on an expensive yet battered suit, carefully ruined beforehand to give an impression of a man who has just walked out of an adventure, and carried a shiny new revolver at my hip to complete the image – all funded, naturally, from the sale of my unicorn horn.

“Ah, Mr. Hunt,” said Mr. Sanders. “Good to see you. I trust you found the place all right?”

“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “Lovely house you have.”

“Thank you. Drink? Of course you would, of course you would, eh?”

Once we were settled, he came down to business – rather abruptly, I thought, but he was probably trying to seem experienced and hard-bitten in order to match those qualities that he saw in me.

“So,” he said, “about this trip. Am I correct in thinking that this will be your fifth one this year?”

“That's correct,” I told him. “Fifth this year, forty-first overall. I've had a lot of experience in those parts – know where to go to bag a unicorn or a troll, or even a goblin if you're so inclined.”

In actual fact I had no idea where to find goblins. I'd heard they lived in the mountains near the dragons, but precisely because they lived there I'd never got close to them without being attacked by a dragon.

“Why,” I continued, warming to my theme, “just last week I led a Mr. Johnson – a banker, mind, no experience at this sort of thing – to shoot a record-breaking unicorn. Longest horn ever found, so I'm told – or it would have been, if the end hadn't tragically been broken off and lost in a car accident on the way back...”


Rescue Mission:

The Freeman Route [T]

Spoiler:
I suppose breaking into a Rocket hideout is meant to be difficult. In actual fact, it was disturbingly easy.

By this point, I don't think there's anyone who doesn't know that Professor Oak got kidnapped last month – by Team Rocket of all people. God knows what they were planning to do with him; he didn't really have all that much to offer them. But kidnap him they did, and since we go a long way back, I thought I'd do him a favour and bust him out of there. I mean, it's not like the cops were going to do anything. We have a saying in Kanto about the police: 'If it ain't tea, they don't care.' Sure, they'd cordoned off the lab, but since they didn't react when I smashed in a window, set off the alarm and climbed in, I was pretty certain that they were going to be as much help to Oak as a bull in a kitchen.

I'll admit, I had a bit of an ulterior motive in doing it: I wanted to see if I could. I knew there'd be guards and such outside the Rocket hideout, and that they'd have guns as well as Pokémon – so I'd decided that my usual team were out of the question; most of them weren't bulletproof, and I couldn't mount a frontal assault with only one with me. That left me with the option of bringing just one or two smaller, subtler monsters, and trying to sneak in – which was very appealing for some reason. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to save Oak, too. It's just that I wanted to infiltrate a criminal lair as well.

And so it was that I found myself crouching in wet grass in the middle of the Safari Zone at ten o'clock at night in September.

Ahead of me was a low concrete bunker, screened by undergrowth and by the spreading boughs of the forest trees; they'd picked a good spot, I had to admit. It had taken me two hours to find it – I knew it was in the woods, but considering the Safari Zone is actually bigger than the town it's located in and contains about a hundred acres of woodland all told, that didn't really narrow things down.

Actually, it hadn't been easy getting into the Safari Zone in the first place. It closed at six, so I'd had to break in here as well. I guess they'd probably have made an exception in this case, but where would the fun be in that? Instead, I'd sneaked over the fence using the one Pokémon I'd brought with me, conveniently missing the razor wire, and spent a long time dodging patrolling Zone guards. They weren't actually looking for me in particular, which made it a lot easier; after all, who'd break into the Safari Zone? There was nothing you could get in here at night that wasn't more easily and legally obtained during the day.

“All right,” I muttered to myself, watching the lone Rocket sentry move around the back of the building. “Vinnie, let's have some Haze.”

He bobbed silently next to me and rose up a little out of the thicket he'd been hiding in. His globular body expanded slightly – then contracted again, a steady stream of dense whitish fog rolling out of his pores.

“Good,” I said. “Keep it up.”

The fog kept coming, and soon the whole area was thick with it; it spread out close to the ground, built up and filled the air. The Rocket base disappeared, and I heard a yell from the distance, oddly muffled by the mist.

“Where the hell did this come from?”

I got to my feet and crept closer, Vinnie floating along beside me and pouring out more fog as he came. He could keep it up for hours, I knew; it was one of the least draining of his moves, and before coming I'd made sure to practise it with him.

“Don't know,” came a reply. “It's not normal – a Pokémon, maybe?”

“You think someone's here?”

The first voice sounded a lot closer now, which meant it was time to get out of their way.

“Vinnie,” I whispered, “stop Hazing now. It's time to fly.”

The fog stopped flowing, and he began to swell up, lighter-than-air gases building up within his body; when I judged he was big enough, I wrapped my arms around him and leaned forwards as far as I could. He swelled a little larger beneath my hands – and then floated upwards, and I felt my feet leave the ground. That was how I'd got over the fence, of course: Vinnie was a Koffing, silent, buoyant and extremely versatile. He could flood a room with smoke, conceal an infiltration with mist – or carry a small, light person onto the roof of a Rocket hideout.

For a few glorious seconds I drifted, weightless, through a sea of fog; it was like flying through a cloud. Then my feet touched cold concrete, and I dropped off Vinnie to land lightly on the roof. The whole operation had taken less than half a minute, and as Vinnie shrank back to his normal beach ball size, I was already looking around for a ventilator.

I found one near the middle of the roof: a square steel tube curled over on itself, the opening covered with a metal grate.

“OK,” I said, “can you do a tiny little Flamethrower for me? Not like the one you did when Danny sat on you, a really small one. On the corners.”

I tapped where I meant, and four tiny squirts of flame later, the grille was loose enough for me to pull it out of the way and lay it quietly by my side. That TM had been a good investment.

“Found anyone?” called one of the Rocket guards below.

“No,” returned the other. “Maybe a wild Pokémon got spooked or something.”

“Maybe.”

“That reminds me,” I said. “Vinnie! Keep up the Haze.”

He bobbed and icy mist started pouring out of him once more. Meanwhile, I lowered myself into the vent, looked around to see if it went anywhere, found it did and beckoned for him to join me. Giving out one last pulse of mist, Vinnie contracted to fit into the gap and followed me within. Once he was past me, I picked up the grille and leaned it against the opening, so that it would – hopefully – look like it was intact.

And that was it: we were in. The whole thing was far too easy, really. I mean, you'd have thought security would be tighter. They'd kidnapped a celebrity scientist, transported him to a secret base, presumably preparatory to making some sort of ransom demand – and then they didn't bother to guard him. I suppose they weren't worried about the cops, but they must have known that Oak had a lot of Trainer friends – everyone from the new kid superstar, Red Pastelle, to the venerable Professor Maxwell Blaine.

But back to my mission. I had no idea where I was going – Oak might be anywhere – but I wanted to get out of the vents as soon as possible, since crawling through them would make a ton of noise and I had a plan for getting through the corridors. Consequently, I took the first exit, dropped quietly down into what seemed to be the boiler room, and had a look through the window in the door. A long concrete tunnel stretched away on either side, punctuated only by the occasional tube light; I couldn't even see any doors.

“Whatever,” I murmured, and turned back to Vinnie. “OK,” I told him. “Haze again. Flood the place!”

He bobbed again, then floated up into the ventilation duct and began Hazing once more. A few moments later, I saw the first curl of mist through the glass pane in the door, and knew that the ventilation system was doing its job. Now all I could do was wait.

To cut a long story short, it wasn't fun. I was acutely aware of how helpless I would be if anyone found and attacked me; all I had was Vinnie, who was slow, weak and only really trained in supporting moves. If I met a Rocket one on one, and got him by surprise, then maybe I could do something, but if they came in a group...

The mist was pretty thick outside now; I heard a few people stumbling and swearing out there, but no one had tried to come in here yet.

“The hell is up with this fog?”

“Someone leave a window open or something?”

Vinnie wheezed from above my head, and I glanced up to see that he was almost completely deflated.

“Ah, crap!” I cried. “Stop Hazing!”

He did, and I caught him as he drifted down, unable to maintain a regular height.

“Damn,” I said. “Sorry. I totally forgot.”

“Where the hell am I, anyway?” someone asked from outside; I crouched beneath the window in the door and held Vinnie down as he started to inflate again. A moment later, I heard muffled footsteps move away, and I straightened up, letting go of Vinnie as I did. Since he was mostly full of air with traces of poison, he hadn't taken very long to recover; he wouldn't be able to fly high until he'd successfully regenerated his lighter-than-air gases, but he was at least airborne and mobile.

“All right,” I whispered. “You ready to go?”

Vinnie made a noise halfway between a hiss and a burble that I took to mean yes, so I pushed open the door and crept out into the corridor. All was quiet. The fog deadened the sound like a coat of fresh snow, and I noted with satisfaction that I could barely see anything at all. Now all that remained was to find Professor Oak.

I kept one hand on the wall, working my way down the corridor and listening for any voices in the fog; a minute or two later, I heard some and shrank back against the wall, hoping no one would see me as I eavesdropped.

“Ariana thinks this is a cover,” someone was saying. “Someone's in the building, trying to rescue Oak.”

“Really? I bet someone just left a window open and let in all that fog.”

“No, you moron, fog can't come indoors. It's too warm in here. Therefore someone's generating it artificially – from the inside.”

“OK, so there might be someone in here. What am I supposed to do about it?”

The first person sighed.

“Just go and look for people, and send them to the cell,” he said. “We need as many guards there as possible.”

“All right, all right,” grumbled the second person, and I heard them walk away. The first person was still there, I thought, and I really didn't want to move and give away my position to him. Despite the chill mist, a few beads of sweat appeared on my brow; if he found me, and if he was armed...

Then I heard retreating footsteps, and let out a silent sigh of relief. Undetected – and now I knew that Oak was being kept in a cell, wherever that might be. Still, it was better than nothing, I supposed.

I walked on and eventually found a corner; I turned it, and collided headfirst with a Rocket going in the other direction.

“Ah!” he cried. “What the—?”

Crap.

I couldn't move. I was held in the grip of the terrible realisation that I was probably about to die—

“Oh, right,” he said, squinting at me through the fog. “Lost your hat?”
Then it hit me. For a second I saw myself through his eyes: an indistinct shape in the mist, wearing dark clothing and accompanied by a Koffing. I could only look more like a member of Team Rocket if I had a Rattatta and a Zubat with me as well.

“Uh... yeah,” I said hesitantly. “Dropped it and with all this fog I can't find it.”

“Ah, it'll turn up. Listen, head down to the cells, would you? Ariana's on my back about getting more guards down there. Thinks someone's breaking in to rescue Oak.”

“Sure,” I said. “I'll do that.” Then, feeling that I might as well milk the situation for all it was worth, I added: “But which way do I go? I can't see a damn thing, and I've been wandering for forever.”

“Feels like it, doesn't it?” The Rocket laughed hollowly. “OK, keep one hand on the wall, take the first left and the second right, then you'll be at the top of the stairs.”

“What, so I'm down near the boiler room?” I asked, suddenly thinking of a way to increase my credibility.

“Yeah, that's it. Anyway, got to go. Need to find more people.”

“All right. Thanks.”

“No problem.”

What a nice guy, I thought. Shame he was a Rocket.

Now that I knew I could pass for a member of the Team in the fog, I made much better time, and even exchanged remarks about the situation with a couple of other goons I passed; there was no need to sneak around, and so I found myself at the top of the stairs within five minutes.

“All right, Vinnie,” I muttered, “we're going in. Get some gas ready.”

He bobbed, and began to hiss quietly to himself. He was a little dull, really; Koffing were useful, but owing to the fact that they were ninety per cent gas, they didn't have much in the way of brains, and tended to respond quite mechanically to training.

They were difficult to descend – not being able to see the steps was a serious drawback – but I managed it. At the bottom was a door, and beyond the door was a short corridor terminating in another door – this one sealed.

I knocked on it.

“Hello?” I called. “Another guard here, as requested.”

“All right,” came the reply from the other side. “I'll open it up.”

The door swung open with the slow creak of the extremely heavy, and I stepped in to see – amid more mist – four looming shapes around the room, presumably Rockets, and a fifth one sitting in the middle. My pulse quickened: it had to be the Professor. Now all I needed was a way to get him out.

Behind me, the door clanked shut again, and the Rocket who'd opened it spoke.

“Does it look like anyone's trying to rescue Oak?” she asked.

“Yeah, it does,” I replied. “This fog isn't natural, and spreading it through the vents like that... I think Ariana has a point.”

“Maybe.”

She lapsed into silence, and I took the opportunity to step a little closer to the Professor.

“So, this is Professor Oak,” I said. “Huh.”

“Yeah, I can hardly believe we got him myself,” one of the Rockets said, implicitly confirming that this was indeed the Professor.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “Now, Professor, I want you to shut your eyes, take a deep breath and hold it until everything's clear.”

The Rockets started.

“What the—?”

“Vinnie! Gas everywhere!”

I squeezed my eyes shut and gulped down air, a split second before—

In an instant, Vinnie went from beach ball to burst balloon; a toxic purple miasma filled the room in an instant, and before the Rockets could so much as reach for guns or Poké Balls they were on the floor, coughing and spluttering.

“Now all back in!” I hissed, using up precious air; I got a mouthful of his gas by accident, and spat it out before I breathed it in.

And then the toxin retreated, dwindled – and was gone. Vinnie was once again normal size, hissing quietly to himself.

I looked at the Rockets, but detected no signs of consciousness; I checked the one next to me to see if I'd timed it right, and found to my relief that I had. No one was dead. They'd be throwing up blood for a week, but they'd all survive.

Now I turned to Professor Oak. I ordered Vinnie to suck the Haze out of the cell so I could see him – and there he was, looking pretty much as normal. He had a black eye, and he was bound and gagged, but this was the same old Professor Oak I'd always known. An immense surge of relief washed over me, and I couldn't help but grin as I cut his bonds.

“Siegfried!” he gasped, as soon as I'd got the gag off. “Well, this certainly comes as a welcome relief.”

My grin broadened. That was Oak for you: place him in a potentially fatal situation and he'd still maintain his peculiar brand of dry wit.

“Good to see you too, Professor,” I told him. “But for now we have to get out of here. More Rockets will be coming, since they think you need more guards.”

“Evidently, they're right,” he replied. “The security here is shameful. They can snatch an old man from his lab, it seems, but can they keep him?” He shook his grizzled head in despair at the inadequacy of his captors.

“Uh, yeah, there'll be time for that later,” I pressed, “but now we need to go.”

Someone fell down the stairs outside, swore violently, got up and knocked on the door.

“Another guard here,” she said. “Let me in.”

“Uh – yeah!” I called. “Just give me a minute to find the damn switch!”

“All right.”

Think, Siegfried, think. There had to be a way out... ah, of course! If the fog had got into this room, it must have been through the ventilation system – which meant there must be a vent here somewhere.

“There,” I said, pointing up at the far wall, near the ceiling. “That vent. Professor, are you ready?”

“I suppose.”

“Good. Vinnie, Flamethrower the screws on the grille!”

“Look, are you going to let me in or not?” asked the Rocket outside.

“One moment!” I called back. “Vinnie, hurry! And remember – a little Flamethrower, please!”

Four times the little blowtorch flame appeared; four times the corners of the grating melted, and with the last one it fell away. I caught it so it wouldn't make too much noise and pushed the chair over to the wall.

“Go, Professor!” I said urgently. “I'm right behind you.”

“What's going on in there?” asked the woman outside.

“Nothing,” I replied unconvincingly.

“Not even a breakout attempt?”

I paused.

“No?” I hazarded.

“I don't believe it... Hey! You there! I need help to get this door open!”

“Quickly, Professor!” I hissed; he was halfway into the vent now, but he was old and physically inflexible, and it was taking him a while.

“I'm going as fast as I can!” he replied.

Someone started banging on the door. Actually, not someone – something. I could tell because whatever was doing the banging was leaving claw-shaped dents in it.

“Get that door open!”

I abandoned decorum and jumped up onto the chair, pushing the Professor bodily into the shaft; he crawled a couple of feet ahead and the door buckled on its hinges.

“Vinnie!” I hissed. “You next!”

He floated swiftly up, and I followed, kicking the chair away as I went. I tried to replace the grille, but only succeeded in wedging it awkwardly into the mouth of the vent before whatever was slamming its talons into the door broke it down.

I didn't stay to see what it was. I followed Oak and Vinnie and crawled like the hounds of hell were after me.

---

See, I meant it when I said that breaking in was easy. The getting out was quite a bit harder.

Still, we managed. After some wandering through the vents, trying to retrace the path I'd taken earlier, we ended up back at the boiler room – from where we were able to get onto the roof. And from the roof it took only a little more Hazing and some floating around to get us out of there.

So, despite everything, it all ended well – except for the Rockets, of course. I think they were probably executed for failure.
__________________

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

Last edited by Cutlerine; August 24th, 2012 at 10:52 AM. Reason: Your double post has been automatically merged.
  #38    
Old August 24th, 2012, 11:01 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Escape:

I Am Not Dead [T]

Spoiler:
“Well,” I said, sitting down on the bed. “This is a novel way of waking up.”

It was, as well. Most alarm clocks use sound to wake you up – and that was what had woken me every day until now. Today, however, something different had woken me: the heat.

You see, I'd woken up and found myself inside a half-destroyed spaceship on a collision course with a star, something that understandably upset me a little. I didn't even really know why I was here: last thing I remembered, I'd been aboard a mercantile vessel carrying crude oil to the United Sirian Republic. To my knowledge, nothing had happened that could possibly have led to me being stuck in this tiny shuttle, bound for fiery death in the belly of a sun.

Still, here I was, and, being a fairly light-hearted sort of person, I hadn't yet committed suicide. After all, there might be some way out of this mess. It was unlikely, I grant you, but if it turned out to be impossible I was dead anyway, so it wasn't as if I had anything to lose.

“Right,” I said aloud, “let's see if I can't shift this ship.”

Sure, the controls weren't responding, but I was an engineer, after all, and that meant I could at least try and get the engines working to pull myself out of the star's orbit. First, though, I had to find the engines – this was clearly an escape shuttle of some kind, but beyond that I had no idea about its design.

To this end, I opened the first door I saw, which happened to lead into a bathroom; that was no use, so I crossed the cabin again and opened the other door.

“Ah!” I said. “That's more like it.”

Beyond was a small cubby-hole of a room, full of pipes, wires, pistons and large quantities of mechanical debris: exactly the sort of environment in which I was most at home. Put me behind the controls and I could just about avoid crashing into a moon; put me behind a motor and I'd happily convert it into a small helicopter in half an hour.

I found a diagnostics unit and plugged it into the engine feed; the little blue screen lit up, and told me baldly that three of the engines were missing and the remaining one was very badly damaged.

“Ah,” I said. “That complicates things.”

The ship was going nowhere, it seemed – or at least, nowhere except into the star. I mopped the sweat from my brow and wondered what to do next; already the temperature seemed to have risen by several degrees, and it was clear that I didn't have much beyond fifteen minutes to think of a way out of this mess before I was boiled in my own skin.

I wasn't really expecting to see anything, but I looked around the room with a sense of desultory hope; much to my surprise, I saw a metal orb lying on the floor, about the size of a basketball, with a flat screen on one side. A robot of some kind.

Picking it up, I turned it over until I found the panel concealing its 'On' switch; I flipped it open, pressed the button and shut it again. A moment later, the screen lit up with a large smiley face and the robot flew into the air to hover in front of me.

“Hi there!” it said cheerfully. “I'm Eddie, and it's my job to see that you're all happy!”

My heart sank. Not a repair droid or anything, then – nothing that could fly outside and fix the remaining engine.

“You're a companion droid?” I asked.

“Well, sure, if that's what you want to call me,” he said. “But feel free to just call me plain old Eddie. Well, what's going on, friend?”

“We're in a spaceship on a collision course with a star and I'm going to die in the next twenty minutes.”

“Sounds like we're in a real pickle!” he said happily. “Boy, if I was programmed to be anything other than happy I'd be terrified!”

I sighed. Eddie was turning out to be a lot less helpful and more irritating than I'd thought. Still, at least he'd be incinerated soon enough.

“Well, since you're here now, maybe you can tell me something about this ship,” I said, walking back into the main cabin. “Do you know whose it is? Why I'm here? Whether it can be repaired or not?”

“Gee, that's a lot of questions,” noted Eddie cheerily. “But I've only got one answer: no! I've been deactivated for a long time. Apparently I annoy people!”

“Really. Never would have seen that one coming.”

I stared out of the window at the approaching star, blinking sweat from my eyes and thinking hard. There had to be a way out of this. There had to be. I refused to accept that I was going to die here.

I checked the thermometer. Forty-two degrees. I wasn't sure how much I could stand before I fell unconscious, but it wouldn't be long before I found out.

“Eddie,” I said quietly, “are you sure you know nothing about this ship?”

“Nothing at all!” he replied. “Anything else I can do to help? You seem kinda down – shall I play some relaxing music?”

“No! This is not a time to relax!”

I seriously contemplated turning him off, but held back: I thought best when I had ideas to bounce off someone, and Eddie was the only other person here – even if he was wholly artificial.

“Well, how about I run some calculations about when your body will be overcome by the rising heat?” he asked. “Anything to help!”

“N— Actually, yes. How long do I have?”

“Calculating now,” Eddie told me. “Hmm... According to rough estimates, you have twelve minutes and nine point five seconds until you die.”

“You call that a rough estimate?”

“I know, I know, but sometimes we have to make do with inexact figures,” Eddie said. “Just look on the bright side: this way, there's a little magic and mystery in it!”

“I really don't want magic and mystery right now,” I told him. “I want a way off this ship.”

“Well, I could fly out the airlock and look for help,” Eddie offered, “but I don't think I'd find someone and get back in time.”

“You can navigate in space? Don't you use compressed-air thrusters?”

“I have jets too,” he explained. “I can also ride the solar wind and am fully capable of functioning in both extreme heat and extreme cold!”

So Eddie could escape the star. Was there a way he could take me, maybe?
“What's your maximum haulage capacity?” I asked. “I mean, if I could put together some sort of sealed pod...”

“Sorry!” he burbled. “I couldn't possibly carry more than 13.4 kilograms. Doing so would put untenable strain on my couplings!”

“Damn.” I paced up and down a little, but the heat was getting to me; I couldn't think straight. I tore off my shirt, used it to mop as much sweat from myself as I could and threw it down on the floor – but it didn't help. It was just so hot – and since this was space, there wasn't even a hint of a cooling breeze. I felt like I was being baked; in fact, I was being baked, I thought bitterly. I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it.

“Nine minutes until you perish,” sang out Eddie merrily. “Temperatures are climbing towards fifty degrees Celsius.”

“All right, all right!” I cried. “Shut up!”

There had to be a way out. Maybe I could—

I straightened up slowly. Of course. There was a way I could get out of this – sort of.

“How much spare memory capacity do you have, Eddie?” I asked.

“Oh, a colossal amount,” he replied. “I had twelve fully actualised personalities, eleven of which were deleted by my first owner. Ha ha! He went mad, you know.”

“OK,” I said slowly, and started searching for a medical kit.

“What are you doing?” asked Eddie.

“Looking for a medical kit,” I answered.

“Hoping to patch yourself up after we burn? That's the optimistic spirit I'm looking for!”

I didn't deign to answer that, and remained silent until I'd found what I was after. Then I opened it up, rummaged around within and pulled out a little sterile ampoule.

“What's that for?”

“I'm taking a blood sample,” I said, attaching a needle and pressing it into the crook of my elbow. The low pressure in the ampoule drew out the blood without my input, and when it was full I pulled it out, unscrewed the needle and sealed it. “Eddie, I have a mission for you.”

“Oh, boy!” he cried ecstatically. “I just love helping out!”

“Good. Now, how do you switch between loaded personalities?”

“Simple,” he said. “Just ask me to.”

“Excellent. Here, open your storage compartment.”

A little panel opened up in Eddie's side, and I placed the vial of blood in the little cavity within.

“Thanks. You can shut that now. Where's your computer port?”

“Here!” An arrow appeared on his screen, pointing to the bottom right corner; I drew a cable out from its spool on the main ship's computer and connected it to him. I took a second cable and connected it to the main port for my neural implant, just behind my ear.

All right. This was it. I took a deep breath, and downloaded.

Surprisingly, I didn't feel anything except the wire getting slightly hotter as the data surged down it; I would have expected some sensation after all. But no; there was nothing.

“Whoa!” exclaimed Eddie, his processor humming as it struggled to cope with both the heat and the sudden influx of alien information. “What's this?”

“I'm copying my personality into your memory,” I informed him. “In a moment, I'm going to activate it, and then I'm going to fly you out of here and get a body cloned for myself from the blood sample.”

“Hey, what a smart idea!” said Eddie. “But don't swabs from the inside of the cheek work fine for cloning purposes?”

“Shut up. It's a clever plan. I've also downloaded my bank account details, so I'll be able to pay for the clone when I get there.”

“That sounds swell,” remarked Eddie. “Glad I can help. Oh, and by the way – the data transfer is complete.”

I unplugged him, and asked how long I had.

“Three minutes,” he told me. “There was a lot of data there.”

I nodded. The heat was such that I was finding it difficult to breathe now; the air seemed to be clogging, forming into thick, hot lumps that stuck in my throat.

“All right,” I said. “Activate your new personality.”

“You got it!” he said chirpily. “See you later.” Then, in what was unmistakeably my voice: “Oh my God, this is weird.”

“You're telling me,” I said. “I'm talking to myself.”

“Huh,” said Robot Me. “Look, I'm – you're – we're running out of time here. Can you put me in the airlock?”

“Oh. Uh, yeah.”

It was a bizarre experience, talking to myself like this; Robot Me floated along beside me as I walked over to the airlock, making observations about my – his – whatever – new body.

“I can't feel the heat,” he said. “It's amazing. I mean, I know the temperature, because I have a thermometer – but I can't feel it.”

I could. Every movement was an incredible effort in these conditions, and as I reached for the release for the inner airlock door, I felt my sweat-sodden clothes constricting my limbs like pythons.

“Jesus,” I gasped, heaving with all my might on the handle and barely moving it. “This is...”

I couldn't finish the sentence. I needed all my strength to pull the release – and I mean all. When the door slid open, I fell over backwards and almost didn't get up again.

“Oh, God,” whispered Robot Me. “I look terrible. You look terrible. Seeing myself like this...”

If I'd had the leisure to do so, I might have pondered which of us was the real me at this point – but I just didn't have the energy. I pointed breathlessly through the door, and he drifted in.

“Goodbye, me,” he said, as I pulled myself to my feet and prepared to push the handle back again. “I... We won't die. You might feel like we do, but... we won't.” He bobbed in midair in agitation. “God, I don't know what to say. I'm a scientist, not a poet.”

“It's OK,” I panted, “I... know exactly... what we mean. I'm you, remember?”

“Oh yeah,” he replied. “I guess you would know.” He paused. “I won't delete Eddie,” he went on. “I think I'll keep him after this.”

“Deserves it,” I agreed breathlessly.”

“Yeah. Well... there's only a minute or so left. You should let me out now, or I'll be too close to escape the star's gravity.”

He was right; I needed to let him go. Besides, there were black spots flickering on my vision and I didn't want to black out before I'd blown the airlock.

“OK.”

I pressed the handle, and the door slid shut. I looked at the screen on the other side of the perspex for a moment, at the face that was no longer smiling, and sighed.

Then I opened the outer door, and Robot Me was sucked away out into space.

I'd done it. I closed my eyes for a moment, then made my slow way over to the bridge, right in front of the large window overlooking the star. With an immense effort of will, I stood upright and squared my shoulders, staring defiantly out as the burning field thickened and darkened to black.

I wasn't dead, I told myself as I fell. I wasn't...

Dead.
__________________

For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
  #39    
Old August 24th, 2012, 12:26 PM
Necrum's Avatar
Necrum
I'm not evil, I'm morally challenged
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Nature: Adamant
I was originally going to write a parody of Godzilla, but I couldn't think of a good way to execute it. Then I had this idea and absolutely fell in love with the concept of putting characters from SuperVegeta's Pokemon Odyssey in a High School Anime scenario. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!


Pokemon Oddysee
A New New Beginning
Parody [T]
Spoiler:
At the turn of the century, after the Great War, many prominent members of the military decided to build a school to teach students the importance of combat, and readiness for any unknown. It has been 100 years since Valkaria High School was founded, and until recently, order has been held by the prestigious Gold Club. However, last year, Luphen Augustus, also known as Auron, went to a summer camp with several other Gold Club members. Upon their return they were found to be different than when they left (likely due to puberty) and challenged the Gold Club by forming the Silver Club. The Student Council up until this point was largely dominated by the Gold Club. But this year when elections came along, the Silver Club played a dirty game of politics that would make Richard Nixon roll in his grave. They single handedly stole the entire election, and even some of their special pens. I did love those pens. They were the kinds that are filled with gel ink and had “Gold Club” written on the si- [THWAP!] Ow! Sorry! Fine I’ll get back to the story. Anyway, the new school year is just beginning, and the Gold Club has quite a fight on their hands if they want to take back the Student Council and their pens.

A lone Golduck was standing before a great gate. It was made of gold and was decorated lavishly. Sections of it were noticeably missing where people had removed pieces, probably to sell for drugs. Admittedly, a gate made of solid gold wasn’t the best decision in the world. The Golduck was very nervous. He had to leave his old school for reasons he didn’t wish to discuss. And so he was ready to start anew at Valkaria High.

He had been instructed to wait here for his assigned guide to give him a tour of the school. “Hello, my name is Zane.” The Golduck turned to see a gold Bisharp standing beside him. He contemplated the plausibility of the fact that he hadn’t noticed such a flashy Pokemon approaching him, but promptly dismissed it wishing not to strain himself too hard on his first day. “Penance Malum, at your service.” Zane smiled, or at least Penance thought he did. It was hard to tell since there was no visible mouth on his face.

“I will be showing you around the campus today,” said Zane, as he led Penance through the gates. As he walked through the courtyard, he could see statues of heroes from the Great War 100 years ago. Or at least he should have. All that was left were the platforms and plaques. Again, not a great idea to build them from solid gold. “This school was founded 100 years ago, after the Great War. We are very proud of our history. Well, we used to be. You see, until recently, I was the Student Council President. But we had an election last year. And now that title belongs to Auron. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Auron. But when he came back from summer camp last year, he was a real ass.” Zane covered his supposed mouth. “I apologize. I shouldn’t be talking about this with you.” Penance smiled and said, “It’s alright. I understand. Sometimes you can’t see what’s coming. Even when it’s punching you in the face.”

“-What was that?” Zane asked. “Nothing,” responded Penance. “Shall we continue, I’m quite starving.” Zane put his curiosity on hold for a moment, “of course! I’ll show you to the Cafeteria.” The two of them proceeded into a great hall, filled with students and teachers of all shapes and sizes. There were rows of lockers lining the hall, many with students trading tools and texts for the coming day. They continued down this hall until they reached a set of double doors. Zane held the door open for Penance and led him inside. “This is the cafeteria. We eat food here.” This seemed to be true. Everyone was eating food. Everyone but a Typhlosion standing at the front of the food line. He was yelling. “You call these eggs! They look like slime to me! But I suppose if this is all your measly GED could help you make then it can’t be helped, can it?!” Everyone in the cafeteria was silent. They all knew not to cross him. “That’s Allen Fury. They call him the Inferno. He’s the Student Council Secretary. He’s got quite the temper,” Zane said to Penance in a whisper. Penance looked on in amazement as no one did anything to stop Inferno, letting him throw a tantrum until he finally stormed out of the cafeteria. Penance ate his breakfast, which he personally thought was pretty good.

When they were both done, Zane led Penance outside to the courtyard. Many students were enjoying their final moments as they waited for the bell to ring. As the two of them waited, an interesting sight caught their eye. A Tyranitar with a scar running vertically through his left eye was towering over a cowering Magby. “Where’s my money, punk?!” The Magby was trembling in fear. “Should we do something?” asked Penance. “That’s Sovereign. He’s another Silver Club member. He doesn’t really have a Student Council position though. He mostly enforces their will. I’m sure Ragnaros will be around soon to deal with it.” Almost immediately after Zane’s conveniently placed bit of exposition, a shadow flew over head in Sovereign’s direction. “Let him go Sovereign!” A great Salamence was standing before them. “You’re going to get yourself in trouble again.” The Tyranitar smiled as he turned to face the dragon. “That’s Ragnaros. The two of them used to be good friends back in the day. But they had a big falling out when the Gold Club wouldn’t accept Sovereign. When Auron came back and formed the Silver Club, he was the first to sign up. Now their constantly at each other’s throats.” Sovereign then slugged Ragnaros in the face with so much force that Penance found himself surprised that he was even still standing. A crowd began to form as the fight escalated. “Should we-?”

“No. let’s just get back inside. It’s best not to get involved. They can sort it out themselves. And if they don’t, Vera will be along to break them up eventually.” And so they returned to the confines of the school halls just as the bell rang out, signifying the start of first period. “Alright, this is where we split up. I’ll see you later at the assembly. Okay?” Penance nodded to Zane and proceeded to his first class: history.

“Hello class. My name is Erratt Chronos. But you can all call me Mr. Chronos.” Isn’t that a convenient name for a history teacher? Mr. Chronos was a very large Garchomp, and it was a wonder that he was able to get into the room. “Now, can anyone tell me what year the Great War started?” A single, small blue hand rose above the rest. Sitting at the front of the class was a Frosslass, looking quite smug. “Year 556, Mr. Chronos.” She sounded so self important as she spoke. “That is correct Frost. But maybe you should give the other students a chance to answer some questions this year. You are Student Council Treasurer after all. You should set a good example.”

“Why? It’s not like anyone else is ever right,” she responded. As class went on she continued to answer every question set forth by Mr. Chronos. Until eventually, Sovereign stumbled in, late to class. “You’re late Sovereign. And you look like you’ve been fighting again. Do I need to tell your mother?” Sovereign glared at him. “Shut up, pops. Like she’s gonna care.” Sovereign then took his seat in the back of class and ignored the rest of reality until class ended.

Later in the day, Penance found himself sitting in a crowded gymnasium, waiting for the assembly to begin. He hadn’t seen Zane anywhere the whole day. But before he could worry about it too much, a Haxorus took the stage. “Greetings, students of Valkaria High. Most of you know who I am already. But for those who don’t, you may call me Auron. I will be your new Student Council President. The past few years, many of you have become complacent. But I am here to tell you that the tyranny of the Gold club is at an end. Now begins the age of the Silver Club! I can guarantee you that there will be many changes. Many, many changes.” As he went on, his tone became more and more malevolent. But when he came to a close, a group of Pokemon came bursting through the gymnasium doors. Penance Recognized Zane at the head of this group, and Ragnaros towards the back. Also among the group were a Snorlax, an Infernape, a Gallade, an Absol, and a Zebstrika. “We will not have this! You bring disgrace to our school. Your ways are corrupt!” Zane was shouting loud enough so that everyone in the gym could hear him. Various other Pokemon gathered around Auron as he approached them. Among them was Frost, Sovereign, Inferno, a Castform, a Flareon, a Scizor, an Aggron, a Nidoqueen, and someone nobody could quite make out because our RP is still recruiting for Silver Tribe… What do you mean I wasn’t supposed to say that? Fine, I’ll stick to the damned script. Penance stood up and said, “Wait!” Every one looked on in amazement as he made his way down the bleachers. He approached Zane, and said, “If you will have me, I would like to join the Gold Club, and fight by your side.” Zane nodded to him, and he took a place among the group.

“Fine, Zane. How shall we deal with this?” Zane was staring intently with fire in his eyes as he said, “we will settle this like our ancestors did!” Auron smiled an evil smile, just like every villain in history has. “With an epic fight to the death?”

“No!” called Zane, “with a game of Basketball!”


Epilogue
“Everything went exactly as planned,” said Frost as she entered the dark room. “Good,” said a deep voice coming from the darkness. “We are one step closer to achieving our plans. Soon everyone will fear the Crystal Club!”

The End?
__________________

Last edited by Necrum; August 25th, 2012 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Altered pretext to give credit to SV
  #40    
Old August 24th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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Eeveemaster9
Years of Lies
 
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Location: Canada, Saskatchewan
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{Rated: K} One Liner: Vulnerability

"It's through the feeling of being vulnerable that you become vulnerable."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{Rated: T} Escape

When the old man found himself on the firm metal floor, he merely assumed he had fallen out of bed. However, the heat was exceeding anything he would have anticipated a mass of water nowhere near the equator of the Earth to be like.

His ancient bones moaned in pain as he pushed himself up to his feet, and he stumbled over to the window. Initially, he could only see obscurity. However, as his vision attuned, he could sense the color wearing from his wrinkled skin along with the downpour of sweat.

Beyond what could ever occur to him, he was in outer space. Within a space ship which was mounting in high temperature by the second, due to the fact it was wandering in the direction of a planet of fire; the sun.

Stumbling back, he checked the thermometer, which translated at thirty-five degrees Celsius. The circumstances hit hard, and the old man cussed like the sailor he was. Even if the ship was fully functional (Though he doubted it because of the condition outside) he wouldn’t even know the essentials, let alone how to turn it around and restart the power supply.

Limping with age, the old man made his way over to the control room. Every little boy had the dream of being in space, but this was completely different. This was a capsule streaming straight for Hell. Even though this was the first time he had ever been in a spaceship, he didn’t gawk at the fancy controls. Instead, he groaned in annoyance. As he settled closer to the screens and buttons and leavers, his sea-blue eyes widened at the sight of a red liquid splattered across the furniture and windows. There were no bodies, and he certainly wasn’t injured… The old man could only presume what had happened here. The crew killed, perhaps. Thrown in space somewhere…

The old man’s breath hollowed to a bare rasp as his eyes settled on the thermometer for one last time. It was too late. There was no way he could turn this ship around and not hit the blazing star before him. His organs would be fried before they even made impact.

He closed his eyelids weakly, and slumped against the chair in defeat. At least he was old. That was one optimistic thing he could find about this situation. At least it was him, and not some poor young lady. He’d experienced life already, so his death would have been inevitable. Even so, he hadn’t expected to die in this particular fashion.

What really troubled the old man was the fact that there would be no remnants to bury back on Earth. Did anyone know that he was in space right now, let alone floating towards a bright sun? He didn’t know if he was even in the same galaxy as Earth. For all he knew, he was in some alien atmosphere, and spacemen had done this to him in the matter of time he had been sleeping.

His muscles relaxed, and he hung his head. It gave comfort to think that it wasn’t his comrades that had done this to him, but some alien race that had no morals. That’s what really gave him motivation before to attempt to avoid this fate. His mind faltered, and with that last string of will snapped, he was ready to let go and allow himself to die.

What startled him out of his almost unconscious state was an impossibly bright flash, and a loud thundering noise that rattled the ship like an unsteady toddler. The man jolted straight, and watched in amazement as a crack of flames blew out of the star; licking and growing in length.

It was a solar flare.

Something clicked in the old man and his fingers, bent and throbbing with use, reached out for the controls. This was his chance. By the Gods he was given this chance, and he would take it. A sense of strength washed through his spine, and he hit the one button he had failed to recognize earlier. There was a loud buzzing noise, and a faint red veil covered his vision of the flare like a pair of sunglasses. He glanced back at the thermometer, which was stubbornly staying at a nearly deadly temperature. As long as it didn’t rise another five degrees, he’d survive.

Of course it wouldn’t rise any more. The heat shield would stop any heat from penetrating through. Alas, he only had a small amount of energy left. He had one chance. Even if another solar flare happened after this one, the heat shield wouldn’t last and he would be cooked. This was it. If he failed now, it was over.

And then it happened. The impact of the flames made every piece of metal the device was made of to scream in agony. The old man grabbed hold of a leaver which he prayed was the steering controls, and pulled back on them as hard as he could. He screamed. He screamed with the effort as his bones felt like snapping off. Everything was a mash of sound and heat and movement; the flare blasting the ship into a series of back flips.

It felt like an eternity, but when the ship finally stopped flipping, the old man gasped out a lungful of air. The first thing he did was shut off the shield, and he gazed outside hopefully.

The sun was nowhere in sight. Not even in front of him.

Now, if only he could do back flips!

The man cried out in joy, and hobbled over to the other side of the ship to peer out the back windows. There was the sun; becoming smaller and smaller. A small beeping emanated from the room, and the human looked over at the thermometer. It was dropping steadily. He could go home… He could go home!

The old man, by the name of James laughed as he collapsed against the cooling metal. Now all he needed to find was an instruction book for this thing…. And a loaded gun to kill the monsters who had thought they could have executed him so easily.

He was alive, and he would make sure that he used every waking moment properly.
__________________
"Your plans will fail, my sweet lady. And when they do, your stories will be nothing but lies, your rebellion will be in vain, and war will rage for years until you are but a speck of dust." - Noh
"The lies of your world will be exposed. My rebellion will rein over your realm, and no longer will this time be plagued by war." - ???

Last edited by Eeveemaster9; August 24th, 2012 at 03:47 PM.
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