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A/N: I already have this on FF, so I'll just upload the current chapters and then upload the new ones concurrently. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Rating: PG, for occasional mild violence and swearing.
Chapter guide: Coming soon!
Foreword: The following is an honest account by the esteemed Professor Berkeley Larch of his journey to the region of Unova, and the events contained therein. All events are presented in their stark reality and none have been embellished in any way, shape, or form.
A Reminiscence, by Professor Berkeley Q. Larch
Hello, dear reader. Firstly, I thank you for looking at my story, and I sincerely hope it catches your interest. Secondly, I shall explain what exactly this story is.
Contained herein is an elaboration of the famous story of the journey of myself, and several close friends, from the Kanto region to Unova, and all of the events that occurred within. I write to show you the truth of my infamous journey, outside of all the rumor and exaggeration and
embellishment that had previously been so common.
Now, then, let us begin the story. It all began on a fine June morning just outside of Lavender Town, inside my home and laboratory. I had been working on my greatest project, that of a specialized earpiece that would translate the complex speech of Pokemon to a comprehensible human dialect, when a knock came on my door. I set down my work and quickly answered it, finding none other than the esteemed Professor Oak, a colleague I had occasionally worked with.
"Oak?" I asked, adjusting my glasses. "What brings you here?"
"Ah, Larch, good to see you!" He greeted, stepping inside. "I came by because there's a conference in Unova coming up, and I was hoping you could come and explain some things."
"Unova? They only opened up recently, correct?"
"Yes, this will be some of their first exposure to the outside since the war, and you would make a very good example for them."
"Hm." I glanced back to my lab, and my life's work resting upon the table, thinking about Oak's offer.
After some thought, I asked, "When is the conference?"
"In two weeks, in Black City. Here's some information on it, along with boat tickets for you and two guests, if you want." He handed me an envelope, which I accepted readily.
"Two weeks? I can doubtlessly get several working prototypes in that time…"
"Prototypes?" He questioned.
"Oh, you know, that pet project of mine, the translator?"
"That thing?" Oak groaned. "That's an impossible fantasy, Larch, you know that!"
"They said the same of that fancy little encyclopedia device of yours, and look where it is now. Everyone in the world has one!"
Oak looked away. "I…how about that 'legendary' you caught?" He asked, his tone of voice communicating a sort of doubt.
I grimaced. "That Shaymin is entirely a legendary Pokemon and you know it."
"Oh! I…of course it is, I would never imply that…" He stammered out, trying to save face.
"Watch your tongue, Oak." I turned away from him, considering my options. "In fact, I'll do both! I will present the translator and the Shaymin both, and they will love it!"
"I…well, thank you very much. I'll send you an e-mail with the rest of the information." Oak stepped out, but then turned back to me. "I hope you have a safe journey."
Oak finally left, leaving me alone with my work. I turned back to my lab, but was soon interrupted by more knocks.
"Who could possibly…?" I muttered as I opened the door, revealing a very unwelcome sight: A lanky, pale fellow named John LeBoure, my greatest rival, and a seemingly perpetual annoyance. He wasted no time in stepping inside and rudely sitting himself upon my couch, before greeting me with a "Hello, Berkeley!", in that nasally voice of his.
"Ah, LeBeur. How…nice of you to stop by. What brings you here?"
"I saw Oak walking away from here and thought I'd see what's up. What's up?"
"Well…there is a conference in Unova in a few weeks, more specifically Black City, and Oak wanted me to do a presentation on…"
"That thing you're still pretending is a legendary?" LeBeur interrupted, lightly chuckling.
I only growled. "It is a legendary, and you know it, LeBeur. It took months of tracking and research to even find out where one might be, and catching one was a different matter entire—"
"Oh, it's legendary because you couldn't figure out where it was?" He sneered. "I wonder what that means for me, because I caught an actual legendary in only one month!"
He always used that Latias to his advantage, whether in a battle or out of one. His boasting of it consistently proved tiring.
"I should think that since mine took longer to capture, it would be a more impressive achievement."
"Oh, yeah, misplacing your notes is really impressive. Don't tell me you're gonna be showing that thing off at the conference?"
"Actually, yes, I have every intention of doing so, as well as my translation device, thank you very much."
"Oh, boy, two failures for the price of one!" He cheered, rising from the couch and leaving my house. "I might just have to go to this conference to see how badly you fail!" he clamored from outside, before running off in uproarious laughter, leaving me to fume.
"Ha! Laugh at me, will you? I'll show you! My life's work will be more impressive than you could have ever imagined! I shall be the envy of professors everywhere! You will be nothing more than dust in the wind, while I receive every award there is! Perhaps I shall even—" I wheeled around to find that my ranting had secured me nothing except a very uncomfortable look from Rembrandt, my Smeargle, who was sitting in the kitchen.
"Ah, Rembrandt. Uh, you will have to excuse me, I was just...talking to myself."
"Smear?" he asked.
"That LeBeur fellow." Upon my answer, Rembrandt grimaced. "I know, right?" I shook my head, going back to my lab. "Soon, I shall understand everything you say. Don't worry…"
By the next morning, after a long night of work, the first working prototypes, three of them, had been completed. Though my eyes were bloodshot and my head was swimming through black tar, I had no interest in resting, not when there was testing to do. I inserted the earpieces, one per ear, and then weakly called for Rembrandt. Rather than an answer in the typical speech, I heard an answer in proper English, to be more specific, the word "What?"
Even more giddy than before, I asked him to come in, and he soon did, rubbing his eyes.
"How early is it?" He muttered, barely picked up by the device.
"Six-thirty." I answered.
"Jesus, can't you wake me up at a reasonable…wait a second, how did you understand my question?"
I pointed to my ears. "I finished them." I grinned widely. "They work perfectly!"
Rembrandt stared in interest. "Huh. I guess it really is possible."
A frown appeared on my face. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Rembrandt stammered and started spouting out explanations, but I stopped him. "Whether or not it's possible has become irrelevant, because I have proven that it is in fact possible."
Suddenly, an idea came into my head of how to test it more thoroughly. "Rembrandt, shall we go into town to see how well it works?"
"Yeah, I really think you need to get out. Let's do it."
"Very well," I said, not quite registering the insult. "Could you get Jon?" Jon was my Furret, and is a fine compatriot, though a rather poor fighter.
Anyway, Rembrandt nodded and ran off, leaving me with my inventions.
"Perhaps I could take some guests with me, to really test them out." I thought aloud, holding one of the earpieces up. "Perhaps there will be some trainers in town that would be interested."
My eyes began to droop, but I stopped myself before I fell asleep. "Coffee. Coffee is also a good idea."
"Hi!" Jon chirped, suddenly clambering onto my head. "Whatcha doing?"
"Oh, there you are. Just wondering about my translators, is all."
"Ooh, you finished them?"
"Indeed I have."
"Do they work?"
"Say a number." I commanded.
"Three it is."
Jon leapt down to the table and looked at me strangely. "Three of what? Hey, you actually understood that."
"Of course I did. And to answer your questions, three coffees."
"That's unhealthy, you know," Rembrandt called in from the door, already heading out.
"I did not ask you," I answered, Jon and I following after. "Besides, a few coffees never hurt anyone."
The town itself was not very busy in the early morning, though there were a few people milling about on Main Street. I looked around to see if any of them looked like trainers, and soon caught sight of two PokeBalls around a particularly lanky mans waist. His hair was greasy and uncombed, his jacket and pants were ruffled, and he generally looked like a man who had either only woken up ten minutes ago or just returned from an all-night party. Suddenly self-conscious, I attempted to pat down my hair and then approached him.
"Hello, fine sir!" I greeted, the man wheeling around, revealing his very narrow face and piercing green eyes.
"What do you want?" he asked in monotone.
Pushing away thoughts of vaguely remembered horror films, I continued. "I am heading to the Unova region to do a presentation on some of my work, including a special Pokemon translation device, and I thought you might like to accompany me to help test it out."
"A translator?" he asked. "That sounds useful. Can you understand them?" He gestured to Jon and Rembrandt, whom I then realized looked very uncomfortable.
"Indeed. Would you like one?" I handed him the two earpieces, and upon inserting them, asked my Pokemon their names.
"I'm Rembrandt," came the answer, "And he's Jon."
"Hi!" Jon chirped.
"That's amazing." He observed, turning back to me. "I'm Ralph." He reached out a hand, and I shook it readily.
"Very well, then, Ralph! Glad to have you on board! Say, what sort of Pokemon do you possess?"
"Snakes." He answered. "A Seviper and a Serperior."
"A Serperior? Then you have been to Unova before."
"A few times. Very interesting Pokemon there. Pretty weird ones. Ever heard of a Klingklang?"
"I do not believe so."
"I'll show you around when we get there."
"Thank you. Now then, I have another pair of those, so I believe we should find another member for our group. I also would quite like some coffee, so perhaps we should tackle both items at once."
"Sounds good. I could use a pick-me-up."
With that, I recalled Rembrandt and Jon, and the two of us crossed the street and entered the coffee shop, looking for any viable trainers. Unfortunately, the shop was almost totally empty, and none of the few patrons looked like what we were looking for.
"Damn." I muttered. "Perhaps our luck might be better tried elsewhere."
I was about to make my order to the very bored looking cashier, but turned around upon hearing the door open, hoping for a trainer. My hopes were met entirely as I saw a fairly average-looking woman with long brown hair, and four PokeBalls about her belt.
"Hello there!" I asked, forgetting about my coffee. "What is your name?"
"Anne," she answered.
"Are you a trainer?"
"Then might you be interested in heading to Unova with our little group?" I gestured towards Ralph, who waved awkwardly.
"Unova? That could be interesting. Why are you going?"
"Well, I was recently invited by none other than the esteemed Professor Oak to visit a seminar and present these," I pulled out the two remaining earpieces, "Pokemon translation devices."
"Ooh, translators?" she asked, picking them up and inserting them into her ears. "How well do they work?"
"Initial testing has suggested they work flawlessly." I said. "Would you care to see for yourself?"
"Could I get my coffee first?"
"Coffee?" I asked, looking around. "Oh, yes, that was why I came in here."
Several minutes later, after acquiring our coffees, we had gone to the local park so that Anne could display her Pokemon to us, and confirm the function of the translators.
"Alright, who first…" She pondered, looking at her PokeBalls.
"Could you hurry it up, please?" I asked, sipping my drink. "I have places to be and things to do."
"Your eye is twitching," Ralph noted.
"What are you talking about? No it isn't."
"You chugged your other two coffees straight down on the way here. Your eye is twitching."
"I'll tell you, I feel more alive right now than I ever have! Perhaps I should head back and get even more coffee!"
"So, Pokemon?" Anne interrupted. "Which one?"
"How about the one you've had the longest?" Ralph suggested.
"Good idea. Go, Bill!" She selected a ball and threw it, the red energy congealing into the shape of a massive Charizard. Instinctively, I ducked behind Ralph, who merely stared in awe.
"Who are these two?" Bill asked, leaning in towards us.
"He's Ralph, and the guy hiding behind him is Professor Larch. He made a translator, so I can understand you now."
Bill stared quizzically for a few moments, before smiling. "That's a pretty good invention on your part."
"Why, thank you." I said, stepping out from behind Ralph. "Very nice to meet you. What type of Pokemon does Anne train?"
"A bunch of big tough-looking softies, that's what." Bill chuckled. "Myself included."
"Hm." I was worried as to the identity of these supposed "softies", but I held off on that question. "Now that we have all met each other, shall we be off?"
The other two quickly voiced their approval, and after Anne retrieved her Charizard, we started to make our way for Vermillion City, unaware of the bizarre occurrences that would dot our journey.
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Lost and Found
"Okay, let's face it, we're lost." Ralph said, as the three of us, plus Rembrandt, who I had released a few hours earlier, walked upon a lovely forest trail.
"We are not lost!" I responded, carefully looking at the map.
"No, he's right, this doesn't look right at all," Rembrandt admonished. "I'm pretty sure we should have gotten there by now."
"I am the one with the map, and I assure you I have been following it to the letter! This is a very confusing map, I honestly have no idea who made this bizarre thing—"
Anne suddenly wrenched the map from my hands, looking at it with an expression of severe consternation.
"Um, a few things," she began. "Firstly, you were holding this upside down, and secondly, this is a topological map of eastern Sinnoh. You were following a canyon."
She shoved the map back into my chest, Ralph and Rembrandt both glaring at me as if I had insulted their mothers in the most severe manner. I quickly placed the map into a pocket and looked around, hoping I could see a useful landmark. I soon saw a large brown point rising up against the trees on the horizon, and pointed it out.
"Oh, yeah, we're way off," Rembrandt said. "Ain't no mountains anywhere on the route to Viridian."
"That's enough of this, let me get the correct map." Ralph began ruffling through his pack and pulled out the actual map, attempting to get his bearings. When he did, he was quite displeased.
"That's Mt. Moon," he said finally. "We've been going in completely the opposite direction we were supposed to be going."
"Thanks, Larch," Anne deadpanned. "Now what?"
"Er, if you wouldn't mind a suggestion, it might be interesting to at least take a look at Mt. Moon." The others stared at me, as I attempted to justify my idea. "I mean, it is one of the most important landmarks in Kanto, and it is regarded as being quite beautiful…and besides, we've plenty of time! It has barely even been a day, we have little need to rush the journey!" I smiled awkwardly, hoping the other two would have some amount of mercy on me. After a few tense seconds, Anne brightened up quite significantly.
"Actually, yeah, that would be pretty interesting. I've heard there are some really cool Pokémon in there somewhere!"
"Very good, then!" I turned to Ralph. "Well, how about you?"
He merely groaned and mumbled out what sounded like "Fine."
"Very well then! Onwards!"
"Oh, no, you are not leading the way," Anne said, pushing past me. "You'll probably just take us back to Lavender."
"Oh, come now, my sense of direction is not that terrible."
"Yes, it is," Ralph said, pushing past me as well. I frowned deeply, and then followed them, hoping that would be the end of that.
Thankfully, Ralph seemed to have lost interest in my error, and Anne was more interested in rambling off a series of (probably false) rumors she had heard about Mt. Moon. Eventually, we came to a fork in the road, one path heading towards the great mountain and the other away from it.
"Well, this is obvious," I said. "We must head north."
"Yeah, knowing you, that probably leads into a cave or something." Ralph smirked.
"Oh, come now, this really is a lovely forest, you should be glad we came here."
"I'd rather be where we're supposed to be, dumbass!"
"Watch your language, mister, I may have made a slight error—"
"Slight? SLIGHT? You call this," he gestured to the forest around us, "a slight error? This is a disaster! We're going to miss the boat!"
"It does not set sail for some time, Ralph. If we had actually gone to Viridian, we would just have ended up waiting about like a bunch of useless…"
"Hey, newlyweds, cram it!" Rembrandt suddenly yelled, an annoyed edge quite obvious in his voice. "I hear someone coming!"
"What?" I asked. His ears, being quite large, were much more keen than those of any human, and we thus had no idea what he was talking about.
"From down that path!" He pointed down the left path, and sure enough, we saw a man cresting the hill we were on, who was wearing a very familiar ensemble: solid black, with a large red "R" on the shirt.
"Damn!" I said, realizing what he was part of. "A Team Rocket grunt!"
"Team Rocket?" Anne asked. "Those are those useless guys, right?"
"Despite what you may have heard about them, I assure you, Team Rocket is quite vicious," I explained. "We must hide, or he will probably kill us all and steal all our Pokémon!"
"Um…" the grunt said, having walked up to us. The four of us wheeled around in surprise, not knowing what to do. "I was actually just headed down the path. Also, we don't just kill people at random, I'll let you know, we have a very specific way of doing…"
He was interrupted by Anne yelling out "Dante!" and revealing a great hellhound, a Houndoom, that infamous creature of darkness…who immediately leapt upon the criminal and began happily licking at his face, as the goon panicked wildly, flailing about and screaming about how Dante was "eating his face off".
"Down, boy!" Anne said, stepping to the cowering goon, getting an idea. "Where's your base?" she demanded.
"I'm…I'm not telling you."
"Well, we know it is probably somewhere over there," I pointed out. "We could easily search for it. We have more than enough manpower between us and our Pokemon."
"You'll never find it!" he yelled. "No other team has better hidden bases than we do!"
"Look, tell me where the base is or I'll actually have Dante eat your face off," Anne responded.
"What?" Dante asked, finally chiming in. "I don't want to eat his face. He smells like cheap cologne and beer."
Anne stifled a laugh and looked back down. "Wow, he's certainly creative when he wants to be. Now, I'll ask again before he tries to eat you: where is the base?"
The goon looked one last time at Dante (who was glaring quite strongly at Anne), wondering what horrid things were supposedly lying within his brain at the moment (for he did not have a translator of any sort), and finally cracked. "Okay, it's down that path! The first tree on the left at the base of the hill is a fake entrance!"
"See? You could have just said all that and saved us all the trouble!" she said. "Now how about you go turn yourself into the police while we take a look at your base?"
He nodded and clambered up, then ran off as Dante shot Anne a very dirty look.
"That was completely unnecessary!" He admonished. "Not to mention using our stereotypes so callously! I'll have you know, we Houndoom are a proud and gentle race, and would never even consider tearing a man's face off…"
As he continued his rambling, we began talking about the plan.
"So, now what?" Ralph asked. "We know where the base is, do we report it to the police?"
"I think we should check to ensure the base is actually there first," I proposed. "We might get fined for wasting their time otherwise."
"Hey, what if we just took them down here and now?" Rembrandt offered. "Think of the reward money we'll get! And if we take down this base, we might be able to get info that can help the police take care of them once and for all!"
"I like the sound of that plan!" Anne concurred. "We should do that!"
"What?" I asked. "That's absurd! We don't have nearly enough manpower to do such a thing!"
"Oh, please, it'll probably just be a bunch of bored losers with Rattata and stuff," Rembrandt countered. "Might not even have guns."
"Good point," began Ralph. "I heard that Team Rocket just puts them out here in places like this to poach Slowpoke for their tails. I doubt they'll be heavily armed."
"B-b-but…" I sputtered, before slouching in defeat. "Fine, we can go into the base ourselves. Be prepared to bring out your Pokemon in case things go south, though."
We all nodded and headed off, having reached an agreement and Dante having reached the end of his rant.
It took us only a few minutes to reach the base of the hill, and the false tree was immediately obvious from almost everything about it: it resembled no actual species, the trunk had no texture or even ridges in the plastic bark, and the leaves were quite obviously just fabric.
"Oh, this is embarrassing," I said, taking the whole of the tree into account. "How in the hell could this have fooled anyone?"
"They're colorblind and stupid?" Anne suggested.
"Even then, this is terribly obvious." I knocked upon the false trunk and a deep, hollow note rang out. "No wonder nobody takes Team Rocket seriously."
"Okay, so how do we get in?" Rembrandt asked. "Is there, like, a secret code or something?"
"I think if we just knock it over it'll reveal something." Ralph suggested.
"Would we be able to do that?" I asked. "This does seem quite firm in the ground."
"Maybe if we cut it open?" Dante asked.
"With what?" I asked.
"Ooh, I know!" Anne suddenly yelled, pulling out another Pokeball. "I just taught Bill Steel Wing, maybe he could use it on that?"
I considered this option for a moment. "…Actually, that is quite brilliant. Give it a go!"
Anne nodded and released the Charizard, who looked around in confusion.
"Where are we?"
"Near Mt. Moon," Anne said. "Could you use Steel Wing on that very obviously fake tree?"
"I guess?" He bucked up and put out his left wing, running head-on at the false tree and bouncing off of it immediately.
"Ow! What the hell?" He asked, rubbing his slightly injured wing.
"It deflected a Steel Wing attack?" I wondered aloud. "What is this tree made of?"
"Wait, I have an idea!" Ralph said, walking up to the tree and looking it over a few times. After his inspection was complete, he kicked the base of the tree with the heel of his shoe, which had no discernible effect.
I shook my head a few moments, attempting to comprehend his logic. "How could you possibly think that would work? Why would just kicking the base of the tree at random reveal anything of importa—?"
I was interrupted when a hidden panel slid up, revealing what appeared to be some sort of elevator hidden within the tree.
"Wh…how…that…" I sputtered as Anne recalled Bill and Dante and walked over to Ralph.
"Nice job," she congratulated, climbing inside. "Should we go down?"
"That's what we're here for, isn't it?" Ralph retorted, climbing in with her. I followed her in, first recalling Rembrandt after a moment's recovery.
"So, which level do we want to go on?" I asked, observing a keypad that was labeled one through four.
"The deepest one is probably the command center for the whole thing," Ralph postulated. "If we take that over, contact the police…path of least resistance, really."
"But surely that area would be the most heavily guarded?" I asked.
"With what, exactly? What would the command center guys have? Surely it would be the thugs that would be heavily armed?"
"Perhaps, perhaps not. It is impossible to say what they will have, but with this level of disguise, I would think they would have a lot more than Rattata."
"I have a fire-breathing dragon, a literal hellhound, a giant fire dog, and a vicious bastard of a canine. I think we can beat them."
"This is very risky, you all realize,." I said, reaching over to press the button that would take us to the bottom level.
"Eh, risks are worth taking, and besides, I'm bored," Ralph shrugged, as the door closed and we descended, discussing what we should do.
After some time, we reached the bottom level, holding out the PokeBalls of our most powerful members. As the counter finally switched from three to four, we tensed up, then enacted the plan we had come up with. The doors opened, revealing a small, dimly lit room with two desks, each with two computers and someone manning them, along with a mini-fridge and an emergency exit.
Before any of the men were able to react to our intrusions, a red flash appeared, congealing into the form of Bill, who roared at them quite fiercely as a way of greeting. The group of men evidently paid the greeting no mind, however, as they all panicked and ducked behind the desks in fear of the massive dragon.
"Alright, here's how it's going to work!" Ralph said, stepping out of the elevator next to Bill.
"You give us control of the command center or we burn this mother down!"
"Uh, we might be somewhat lenient on that part, though!" I shouted from inside the elevator.
"We would not want to cause a safety problem, after all!"
Ralph rubbed the bridge of his nose, and then looked back up. "Alright, where's the PA system?"
One of the thugs gestured to a button in the corner to the left of us, which Ralph quickly made use of. I attempted to voice a concern, but had no chance to as Ralph began a false
"Alright, everyone, listen up, we've got an emergency situation down here, so please evacuate at once through the nearest exit. Do not panic, we'll try to get this under control as soon as possible. Thank you." Ralph released the button, and then pulled out a vial of something from his coat.
"Uh, say, Ralph, what would that happen to be in there?" I asked, but I received no answer.
Instead, Ralph simply threw the vial, which broke apart into a cloud of purple dust. When it cleared, the men were out cold.
"Was that concentrated Sleep Powder?" I asked. "Isn't that illegal to possess?"
"I have a license," Ralph answered. A knock on the exit door suddenly rang through the room, causing us all to tense up. Anne quickly recalled Bill, and I reached for Artie's PokeBall.
"What's going on in there?" a deep, gravelly voice from the other side of the door asked. "We heard there was an issue."
"Uh, don't worry, it's fine now, everything under control," Ralph blurted out, gesturing for us all to duck down behind a desk. We did so, and waited for a few moments before the door opened and to our sudden shock, a loud volley of automatic fire rang out, tearing through the computer screens and sending sparks flying everywhere.
"Holy—!" I shouted, ducking my head down so as to avoid being punctured by one of the bullets.
Ralph, evidently, had no such qualms, as he had somehow produced a sizeable handgun and leapt out, firing several shots of his own and forcing the men to hide themselves, temporarily stopping the fire.
"What the hell was that?!" I yelled, trying to collect myself after nearly overdosing on raw adrenalin.
"Okay, yeah, in hindsight, doing the PA thing was a bad plan," Ralph noted. "And now we're in a standoff."
"What's this 'we' stuff?" Anne demanded. "You're the only one of us that actually has a gun!"
Ralph quickly produced a second handgun and handed it to me, but I panicked and fumbled about with it for several seconds before getting a good grip on it.
"You realize I have no idea how to use one of these, correct?" I deadpanned. Ralph groaned and took it back, then leapt across the gap, firing both guns wildly at the enemies. Although not even a single one hit successfully, he managed to put them in enough of a panic (although it was doubtlessly, in part, sheer awe) that he was able to run up to them and do a rapid series of complex judo techniques to disable them all in a matter of seconds and seize an assault rifle.
"Holy ****!" Anne yelled, staring at the dispatched men in awe. "Where the hell did you learn to do that?"
Ralph looked down at the thugs, then back to us. "I'm not at liberty to discuss that at the moment."
"Oh, that's not worrying at all," I said.
"Yeah, yeah," Ralph replied, picking one of the men up and walking over to the PA again. Slowly, the man came to, and realized his predicament.
"Hey, what is this? What's going on here?" he demanded.
"I beat you and your friends up. Now tell everyone that the situation is under control."
"What? No!" The man struggled, but Ralph shook his collar repeatedly until he gave in.
"Alright, fine." He rudely pressed the button, and informed the rest of the base that the
situation had been contained. Upon completing the task, Ralph smashed his head against the wall, knocking him out instantly.
"I think you might have just given him a concussion." I said, looking at an alarming bruise that had started to form on his forehead.
"He'll be fine once the police get in here," He said, pulling out a cell phone.
"From all the way down here?" Anne asked. "We're like, a hundred feet underground."
Ralph looked up. "Oh, yeah. We'll need to get up some."
"Perhaps we could take that emergency exit?" I offered. "The police will probably have to use that, so it would be useful to know where exactly it leads to."
"Good idea, Larch," Ralph commended. "We should probably put on these guy's clothing as a disguise."
Anne and I glanced at each other, before responding with a sound "No."
"Come on, guys, we need to disguise ourselves so the thugs won't recognize us!"
"Have you possibly considered not opening the doors and letting them see us?" I asked.
Ralph raised a finger, ready to protest, then put it back down when he realized my idea was better and would not reveal anything potentially unpleasant.
"Also, could you put that away? It is starting to make me quite nervous." I pointed to the assault rifle he had grabbed, which he gingerly set onto the ground.
"No, hold on, I think you should take that with you, just in case," Anne suggested.
"Is that thing even licensed?" I countered. "I highly doubt something like that is legally owned, especially considering Team Rocket."
"I think it would be best to just leave it here," Ralph decided. "I don't want to keep something they probably stole."
"Very well, then, let's head back up."
As we made our way up the stairs, not much happened, although we realized that we were very lucky to only have a few thugs sent down, since the third-level casino had the exit door wide open, and it contained almost a small army, although luckily for us, all of them were distracted with the likely-rigged games of luck.
Of course, as said before, not much actually happened, and we left the base entirely through a disguised trapdoor.
"I must say, they did a much better job on the trapdoor than the tree," I said. "Who has a phone?"
"I do!" Anne said, pulling it out and dialing in 911 in a single movement.
"Hello, police?" she asked. "We've found a Team Rocket base in the forest outside of Mt. Moon." She paused as the man on the other side asked a question. "Uh, we found a Rocket goon walking around and we got him to tell us where the base was. It was an elevator hidden in a really bad fake tree." She paused once more. "You already have my location? Okay, good, are you sending anyone over?" Another pause. "I'm sorry, how many was that? Wow, really? That many? And the helicopters, too? Okay, good. Bye." She put the phone back in her pocket, and turned back to us.
"How many are they sending over?" Ralph asked.
"Like, a small army. They must really want to take these guys down."
"Well, Team Rocket has been a thorn in their side for decades. This probably will be quite important for them."
"Perhaps we should just leave them to it, then. I think it would be a rather poor idea to stick around here," I suggested.
"They might want to ask us a few questions, though," Ralph countered. "I think it would be best for us to stay here instead of leaving."
"I'm with him," Anne said.
I thought about the options for a moment. "Very well, we shall stay here."
We milled around for a few minutes, until we suddenly heard the sound of several helicopters and heavily armored trucks coming towards us. Soon after, a large blockade of SWAT trucks pulled up next to the tree and three helicopters touched down next to them, and a small army clambered out of them, some holding large body shields. As they did so, an investigator wearing a long, brown trenchcoat walked towards us.
"Are you the ones who called?" He asked.
"That is correct," I said.
"Where's the entrance to…whatever this thing is?" he asked, gesturing towards the "tree".
"Right there." Anne said, pointing to the trapdoor entrance. A small group of the SWAT members ran over and forced it open, the rest of them pushing past us and clambering down the stairs. A few moments later, the sound of a smoke grenade and shouting people came from below, although it was quickly silenced and replaced with shouting orders to get to the lower levels.
"Uh…" I began.
"Don't worry, they'll have a handle on the situation," he said. "Who are you?"
Ralph walked up to him and pulled out his wallet, showing the investigator something within it. "They're with me."
"…I see," he said. "Very well, then, I'll just leave you to yourselves. Now, on the subject of reward money…"
"Reward money?" I asked, suddenly very interested.
"Fifty thousand dollars for any information regarding Team Rocket leading directly to arrest of their constituent members or leaders. You've quite obviously done so, so…" he pulled a cheque out of his coat, handing it to Ralph. "Here you are."
"Uh, Ralph?" I asked, gesturing for him to come aside. When he did so, I leaned in and started asking questions.
"Who are you and why did the investigator stop asking questions?"
He looked at me in a very honest way, and then replied, "I'm very important. That's all you need to know."
"Are you done?" the investigator asked. We both turned around, nodding. "Where were you headed?"
"We were going towards Vermillion City," Anne explained, "but Magellan here was using the wrong map and now we're out in this place."
"Well, in that case, I can't help you much. We came over from Viridian, and using a helicopter for that purpose would be highly inappropriate."
"Thanks anyway," Ralph said. "Say, Anne, would it be possible for Bill to carry us there?"
"I don't know, I've never tried."
"I think it's worth a shot," I said.
"Well, alright then!" Anne pulled out Bill's PokeBall and released him, telling him the plan, much to the investigator's confusion.
"Did you just talk in Pokémon speak?" he asked.
"Ah, yes, I can be thanked for that," I said, pulling out my translator. "You see, this brilliant invention of mine can translate between Pokémon speech and human speech perfectly, allowing for total connection between trainers and their teams. Quite brilliant, if I do say so myself."
"Is that so…" he said.
"Anyway, I think we should really be off, since you seem to have the situation handled perfectly," I said, pointing to the officers coming back up from the hidden base, holding the various goons in custody. "Thank you for your assistance!"
"You're quite welcome, sir," he responded. "You've done Kanto a great service today."
As Ralph and I climbed onto Bill's back, I could not shake the feeling that the investigator, whoever he was, seemed quite interested in me, and kept staring at us as we flew off…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
The flight was greatly impressive, and I can honestly say that having never even flown before that time. We were not especially high up, due to the great danger of falling, but still travelling at great speeds towards our destination, Vermilion City, containing the S.S. Anne, and thus, eventually, Unova.
It was about midway through the journey, however, where things started to go downhill…or rather, just down. I was explaining some of the technology behind my translator to a rather uncaptivated audience, when I noticed that Bill's flight was beginning to approach the ground.
"Say, Bill, am I boring you?" I asked, somewhat cross.
"W-wha?" He stammered. "Oh, sorry…it's just that I've never flown for this long before. By all means, continue talki—" he suddenly fell completely asleep, and we started plummeting even faster, though he was still gliding somewhat, so we were not quite in free-fall. Anne started screaming, jolting awake Ralph, who had also fallen asleep at some point. He, however, did not seem particularly fazed by what was happening.
"Jesus Christ, wake up, you idiot!" I yelled, attempting to shake Bill awake. Ralph looked at me with a look of great annoyance.
"I'm already awake, dad, jeez." He muttered, laying back down.
"Oh, forget you!" I yelled, slapping Bill on the cheek repeatedly. Eventually, just a few meters up from the ground, the Charizard rose from his slumber, and pulled up, coming to a gentle landing before falling asleep once again.
"Well, that was alarming." I said, climbing off. "Does that happen often?"
"Bill does overestimate himself a lot." Anne said, putting him back in his PokeBall, causing Ralph to fall to the ground and finally awake. "Where are we, anyway?"
"Uh…" I stopped as I realized we were actually quite lost. "Slight problem with that. I don't know."
"What? We're lost again?!" Anne shouted.
"Well, I mean, this time we are actually fairly close to our destination." I said" "Perhaps we should look around and get our bearings?"
"No need." Ralph said, looking off into the distance. "I know exactly where we are."
"What?" I asked. "Where are we?"
"Look over there." He said, pointing off in the direction he was looking. Anne and I looked at it, and lo and behold, we saw a sign proclaiming that we were near Celadon City, the largest city in Kanto.
"How convenient!" Anne said, and we all started walking there. However, we were paused when a man wearing a very odd purple suit and white cape walked out, looking quite interested in something.
"Hello there." I greeted. "What is your name?"
"I am Eusine." He greeted looking us all over. "Who are you three? You're not here for Suicune, are you?"
"The Avatar of the North Wind?" I asked. "No, we have no interest in such things. Besides, I already have a legendary."
The man stared at me for a moment, looking absolutely furious. "Which one?" He finally asked.
"Shaymin. Rather common by normal legendary standards, I admit, but a very elusive creature nonetheless. It took quite the effort to find him." I smiled, recalling the adventure I had taken to acquire it.
"How much effort?" He asked.
"Well, it did take several months to get it, and quite a bit of tracking…"
"How did you finally get it?" Eusine asked.
I rubbed my neck and gave my answer. "I finally realized it was moving around too much for me to be able to chase it down, so I simply stayed put until it came to me, and that was that. I wish I had figured that out sooner, to be honest."
Eusine looked away, digesting my words. "No…no! It can't possibly be that simple! You're lying! Show me that you caught it! Show me!"
"Hey, back off!" Ralph demanded, stepping up next to us.
"I refuse!" Eusine shouted, grabbing at my pack and yanking it off, running away with everything I had (except, thankfully, the translator).
"Wha—I say! Come back here!" I shouted. "Ruffian! Damn it, that had all of my things…" My eyes widened in horror as I realized just what that meant. "My god, he has Rembrandt! And Jon! And Shaymin! Oh, this is terrible! What could be worse?!"
"The fact that Ralph just started chasing after him?" Anne suggested. I looked at the direction Eusine ran off to, seeing that Ralph had, indeed, given chase.
"Oh, brilliant." I muttered. "What if he does not get them back? I have had Rembrandt for as long as I can remember! Not to mention Jon and Shaymin…what tragedy!"
"Oh, give it a rest!" Anne demanded. "Did you see that **** he pulled back in the base! He's got this! Relax!"
"I don't know. If that man has spent as long as he claims chasing after such a swift and elusive Legendary, he must have grown to have great skills."
"Yeah, but he still hasn't caught that damn thing. He can't be that good."
"He probably is quite good, though, it is simply that Suicune is perpetually better. I am going to go chase after him as well."
With that, I left to take back what was mine, and I glanced back at Anne, seeing she had pulled out a Pokémon I had never seen her use before…
Still, I soon ended up in Celadon, which was not like many other cities; while others may have used great gleaming towers of glass and steel, Celadon was a massive sprawl of buildings that did not rise very far at all, but spread out a very far distance indeed.
"Bloody hell, he could be anywhere!" I shouted, but in the distance, there came the sound of a shouting crowd and breaking glass.
"What on Earth was that?" I ran over to the source of the sound, seeing a small farmer's market had been set up in a plaza, and that a cart of melons had been tipped over. I looked above it to see that Ralph and Eusine both had used it as a platform to propel themselves on top of an apartment flat, upon which they were now fighting quite viciously.
"Bloody hell…" I muttered, looking around for any policemen. I saw one, but it seemed he was several steps ahead of me, since he was talking into his dispatch radio about a fight going on atop a roof. I relaxed for a moment, but that relaxation was short lived as I saw him pull out a handgun and walk towards them.
"I say, sir, wait!" I said, hoping this would not escalate much further. "That man in the purple suit stole my things, the other one has merely attempted to retrieve them!"
"The purple suit guy? You mean Eusine?"
"Indeed! He stole all of my clothes, toiletries, and most horrendously, my Pokémon!"
The officer sighed. "I should have expected he'd pull something like this one of these days. Who's the other guy?"
"A friend of mine who is attempting to retrieve them. I think he might be part of some military operation."
"Look, they're making a ruckus, and I can't have that. Look at all those perfectly good melons they ruined!"
"Yes, a real tragedy." I smirked. "I am far more concerned with my stolen property!"
"Look, sir, I'll take care of it, but that friend of yours has broken the law, and if you continue interfering, I'll arrest both of you!"
"What!" I cried. "How can you arrest me? I have broken no law!"
"You're interfering with justice!"
"Let go, *******!" Ralph suddenly cried. I turned to face the action, and although we were at quite a distance from each other, I could tell that he had managed to wrench away the bag. Eusine ran off, leaping onto a fire escape and sliding down the side into the alley. The cop started running towards him, but the thief produced a flash pellet and threw it upon the ground, distracting the cop long enough for him to take leave entirely.
"Damn it!" Ralph yelled, running into the stairwell. A minute later, he came out of the back door, pulling out his wallet once more.
"I have this situation under control, sir," he said, flipping it open and revealing a very particular symbol: a silhouette of a Pidgeotto in front of a rising sun.
"Wha—" I began. "You are with Special Command?"
"Yes," he answered, putting his wallet back. The officer seemed rightfully content with this explanation and walked off, pulling out his radio to call for a search.
"I thought they disbanded a few years after the war ended, though?"
"Technically, yes, though the members still retained their authority. It comes in handy fairly often, I find. You know what they say: old habits die hard."
I narrowed my eyes, suddenly becoming suspicious of his exact intentions. "Why did you start coming with me on this journey? Rather odd for a member of Special Command to just head out on vacation like this."
Ralph thought for a moment. "There are several reasons. For one, I was getting bored with Kanto, two, I was interested in your technology, and three, I thought it would be pertinent to see how Unova's doing these days, considering they just opened up."
I narrowed my eyes. "One and three, I understand, but you worded number two very interestingly."
"I'm not going to steal it!" Ralph yelled. "I have no idea how it even works! It wouldn't be any use to me!"
I glared for a moment more, but then decided he was most likely right. I grabbed the bag containing my things, but soon made a terrible discovery.
"Oh, my god…" I muttered, sifting through it and hoping I had simply made a mistake. Unfortunately, I was right: Rembrandt's PokeBall was missing, and the only explanation was that Eusine had taken it, perhaps thinking it was Shaymin's.
"What is it?" Ralph asked, peering inside. I quickly pulled it away and put my hand to my forehead, unwilling to believe that this had occurred.
"He's stolen Rembrandt. Oh my god, he has Rembrandt…"
Ralph stepped back, taken off guard by this. "That's…okay, look, just remain calm and we can…"
"Remain calm?!" I burst, pointing a finger at him. "How could you possibly tell me to remain calm at a time like this! I have had Rembrandt for years! He has been by my side ever since I started my research, and now he has been wrenched away from me by the cruel hand of fate! Oh, but excuse me for not being utterly placid at every…"
"Uh, Larch?" Ralph asked, looking very uncomfortable.
"WHAT?!" I yelled, before realzing my rant had attracted quite a crowd of disturbed onlookers.
"Uh…" I stammered out. "Don't mind me, just…dealing with a minor problem. Uh, say, Ralph, would it be wise to take our leave at this point?"
"Very wise." He answered, and we both made haste out of the market.
Soon, we came across Anne, who seemed to have been running towards us, and also seemed very concerned.
"What the hell was that?" she asked, coming to a stop before us. "I could hear you all the way
from the forest."
"Oh…dear, was I really yelling that loudly?" I muttered, rubbing my head.
"Well, maybe not. I do have really good hearing, and I couldn't tell what you were saying.
What were you yelling about, anyway?"
"Eusine has Rembrandt."
Anne started, her eyes widening in shock. "That's terrible! What would he even need him for?"
"I know not. Perhaps he thought it was Shaymin and intended to steal him."
"Oh, man…wait, I have an idea!" Anne produced a PokeBall and threw it in front of her. As the red energy took the shape of a Mightyena, we both stepped back, somewhat shocked.
"Who is this?" Ralph asked, as the Pokémon sniffed at my bag, apparently catching the scent of Eusine off it.
"What do you smell, Henry?" Anne asked.
"Cheap polyester suit…bad cologne…hey, are you sure it isn't this guy?" He looked at me, and I glared back at him as harshly as I could. "Wait…wow, this guy really reeks. What'd he do?"
"He got into a scuffle with him over that bag, but he still has something really important from it." Anne explained. "Would you be able to find him?"
"I think. That city looks pretty big, though…wow." He started rubbing his nose, and I noticed his eyes had actually begun to water. "That's really strong."
"He must be near…" I muttered.
"Okay, hold on, we can't just rush into this." Ralph said. "He might be dangerous."
We suddenly heard something rustling in the nearby forest, and all of us quickly prepared for a
"Come out, you coward!" I yelled, putting up my fists. There was another rustle, and then, surprisingly, Rembrandt popped out, holding his own PokeBall.
"Rembrandt?" I asked, quite confused. "I thought you were Eusine."
"You need to get your glasses checked," he responded, tossing the ball to me. "He let me out once he realized I wasn't that weird grass thingy."
"Shaymin, you mean."
"He just…let you out?" Ralph asked. "That's weird…"
"Is it?" We turned around, and saw Eusine pointing an alarmingly large revolver at us, harshly glaring at me. "All right, then, hands up." He turned to me, waving the gun around a bit for effect. "It is my opinion that we can reach a fair agreement. Hand me the Shaymin, and tell me how I can get Suicune, and you get to continue living. Sounds fair?"
"That strikes me as something of a false choice," I said.
"It is still a choice. Now, if you would only just—" Ralph suddenly lunged at him and grabbed the gun, but found that Eusine's grip on it was very strong indeed. As the two of them struggled, I pulled out my phone again and dialed for the police.
"Hello, did you get that warning about that Eusine fellow? Ah, yes, good, I have him here, and a friend of mine is struggling with—" A loud retort rang out, and a bullet whizzed past my head, very nearly taking out my phone and, with it, me. "…him." I whispered.
"Where are you?" The operator asked.
"I am just outside of the western marketplace, in the forest!" I yelped as another shot flew past, and both Rembrandt and Anne dove behind me. "Goodbye!"
"Let…go!" Ralph yelled, finally wrenching the gun out and pointing it at Eusine.
"Whoa!" He yelled, putting his gloved hands up in concern. "Let's not get too hasty here, we can all work this out…"
He threw his left hand down, and with it, a small smoke pellet, which produced a thick cloud in such volume that he quite easily managed to run away.
"Damn it!" I yelled. "Again!"
"At least he doesn't have anything important this time." Ralph said, putting the gun away.
"Indeed, that is…damn it!" I yelled, noticing something missing. "He has Rembrandt again!"
"He seemed upset." Ralph said. "Rembrandt might be in danger."
"Oh, thank you, Ralph, that helped." I forced out. "We must rescue him!"
"Henry," Anne said, pointing at the direction Eusine ran off, "sic."
Immediately, the vicious creature ran off, snarling in anger. The rest of us followed quite a distance behind, keeping an eye on his movements. Soon, he cornered into an alley stuck in between two absolute dive bars, but we all quickly stopped as we saw that Eusine was holding Rembrandt up and had another gun to his head.
"Um…help?" The Smeargle implored. I was, at that point, in a severe panic, and was jittering about as I had no idea what to do.
Ralph, however, did seem to have an idea of what could be done, as he slowly approached Eusine, which he seemed to accept. "Alright, look, Eusine, we can talk about this. Just set the Smeargle down, and we can…"
"Tell the bald guy to give me the Shaymin," he demanded back. I scoffed slightly, but Ralph ignored me and continued the negotiations.
"Give us the hostage now, sir, and we'll do what you want."
"I know how this works," Eusine said, pressing the gun in harder. "You say you'll do whatever I want if I release him, and then you jump me. I've read the papers."
Ralph paused, considering his now very limited options. "Okay…uh…Larch, could you hand me the Shaymin?"
Immediately after his question, I noticeably balked. "What?! Ralph, are you mental?"
"No, look, Larch, we can all come out of this with what we want." He turned to me and held his hand out, very subtly winking. I caught his gist, and made a show of reluctantly handing him the PokeBall that held Shaymin.
"Okay, we'll do this at the same time," Ralph suggested. "I give you the Shaymin, and you give me Rembrandt."
"That's a stupid idea." Rembrandt said. Eusine shook him around to shut him up, and then walked up to Ralph to perform the transfer.
"Okay, on three, all right?" Ralph said, holding the PokeBall up. "One, two, three…"
Eusine, to his credit, did hand over Rembrandt, but I knew Ralph aimed to retrieve the Shaymin as well. I figured out his plan when, out of nowhere, he tossed the PokeBall up in the air. Eusine looked up for but a moment in shock, instinctively putting out his hand to catch it. This was more than enough for Ralph, who grabbed his forearm and, using his other arm, elbowed him in the solar plexus, then twisted Eusine's arm behind him and forced him to the ground quite hard, and, to end it, nonchalantly caught the falling PokeBall, which I quickly retrieved.
"Is he alright?" I asked, noticing that he did not appear to be moving.
"He still has his pulse, don't worry. He's just in shock. Hang on a minute." He got off of Eusine, having noticed a police car driving down the road, and yelled "Hey, officer!" It quickly pulled over, the two men inside egressed, and then walked over, nodding to Ralph as they put a pair of handcuffs on Eusine, got him up, and walked him off.
"Well, then, that was…interesting." I said. "Um…thank you very much for your help, Ralph."
"Yeah, thanks," said Rembrandt, rubbing his head. "Can we go to a hotel now or something?"
"It is getting rather late in the day," I observed. "It would be wise to set down here for today and then go to Vermilion tomorrow."
"Sounds good," Anne said. "Henry, return!"
I, too, recalled Rembrandt, and so we all went off to look for a suitable hotel. However, as we left the alleyway and went back onto the street, I could not shake the most peculiar feeling that, somehow, I was being watched…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
A hotel was not particularly difficult to find in the large city; within a few blocks, we found a nice, old-fashioned three-story building whose sign pronounced itself as the "Gala Premiere", and indeed it did seem premiere, though admittedly somewhat dated.
"This looks absolutely perfect." I said. "Lovely theme."
"I don't know, these old-timey places always smell like Listerine and soap." Anne said, looking
disdainfully at the hotel.
"Nonsense, Anne! That smell simply adds to the charm, and quite a charm it is, might I add."
"Can we please just get a room already?" Ralph moaned. "It's starting to feel less and less safe out here. I really don't want to get robbed."
"Hm…" I considered that thought for a moment. "Yes…I do have a rather uncomfortable feeling…"
"Yeah, that Eusine guy was a weirdo," Anne added.
"No, no, I felt odd before that all happened. Something seems…odd. I think we should check in and get some rest. We will probably be safer in there."
Checking into the room was uneventful, although Anne was right in that there was a distinct smell of Listerine and old soap. Also correct was the assumption that it would feel somewhat dated; the décor was something my grandmother, bless her soul, would have been likely to have in her house. Lace doilies, dark green wallpaper, strange trimming, and pictures of generically picturesque scenes somehow connected to make a theme that was simultaneously comfortable and utterly nauseating. As some consolation, it did have a rather nice television.
"Well…regardless of the design choices, it at least has beds," I said, setting my bags down and picking up the remote. I flipped through a few of the channels, but found little of interest.
"Ech. Nothing on the telly these days, I swear." I switched it off, and removed my earpieces.
"What are you doing?" Anne asked.
"Well, I could hardly leave them in all the time, they would get filthy and my ear may get infected. More than that, they may permanently damage my hearing if kept in constantly, and at my age, I do not need my hearing any worse than it already is. I would suggest you two do the same."
Anne and Ralph glanced at each other, and both of them took theirs out as well and handed them to me.
"I think we should put these in that drawer there," I said, gesturing towards the small bedside table that had a lamp and some old gardening magazines upon it. "I wonder if they have…" I asked, opening to see if it contained the traditional Gideon Bible. "Yes, they do!" I pulled it out, revealing that at least half the pages had been removed crudely from the binding at some point. Flipping it open, I found that almost the entire New Testament was completely gone.
"Thou shalt not steal indeed." I threw the ruined tome into the bin and placed our translators in the cabinet.
"All right then," I said. "I think we should ready ourselves for bed then."
"What?" Anne asked. "It's still light out."
"Is it?" I turned to the window, and saw that it was, indeed, still quite bright outside. "Ah, my apologies. It seems with all that happened today, I thought it was much later than it was."
"Um, I have a question," Anne spoke up. "How are we gonna split the beds?"
"Well, there are three of us and two beds." I observed. "Two of us will have to share."
Anne looked between Ralph and I, and came to a decision.
"Well, I can't, in good conscience, allow any of those combinations to happen so I'll just sleep on the floor and let you two have a bed to yourself. Sound good?"
I nodded, and so too did Ralph.
"Of course," I said, "that will not be necessary for some hours, so perhaps we should have something to eat in the meantime."
"Now, there's an idea," Ralph said, immediately leaving the room so he could dine. Anne and I followed as well, hoping there would be something pleasant to eat.
The dining hall was decorated as expected: an ancient chandelier in the Baroque style, mahogany furniture that was chipped and worn, tables barely covered by thinning white cloth, and so on. I was beginning to question the choice of hotel, but thankfully, the food prepared smelled pleasant, and it seemed that the service was prompt enough.
"Well, this hotel just keeps getting better and better, Larch," Ralph said, looking at a set of cutlery that had been set out, and appeared to be half made of pure tetanus.
"It…still has a certain…charm to it…" I attempted to argue. "Besides, the food seems quality enough."
"That's the only thing in this dump that's quality," a voice came from behind us. We turned around, shocked to see a colossal man of perfect tone and figure, and flawless, long blond hair tied in a ponytail. He was easily recognizable, since he was one of the most popular actors on the planet: Clive Warren.
"I know you," Ralph said, an emotion, shock, finally showing on his face. "What are you doing in here?"
"I'm working on a brand-new hit TV show where I critique bad hotels, and so far, the only redeemable part of this one is the food. Hey, I should use that for the bumper."
"Is it really that terrible, though?" My attempts at defending the hotel were increasingly desperate; if Clive Warren had chosen it for a show explicitly about bad hotels, there had to be very little to defend.
"Don't tell me you poor bastards checked in already," he chided. "Good luck sleeping in these beds. I ran 'em under a blacklight and I'm pretty sure the last time they were cleaned was when they got these decorations."
Anne glared at me. "Good job, Berkeley."
Recognizing that I had, indeed, made a very poor choice, I quietly excused myself from the room so as not to embarrass myself further, and so Clive could continue producing whatever
show he was making.
"I had better do something to make up for this garbage dump," I muttered to myself as I walked back to the room. That smell of Listerine was starting to get more and more pungent, so much so that I thought I might pass out if I did not cover my mouth with my shirt.
"Bloody hell, is there a hazmat team in here? What is that?" I wondered aloud. I silently thanked every higher power I could think of when I managed to get to the hallway containing our room. However, as I walked for the door, it opened before me, and to my surprise, out walked the inspector, from earlier in the forest!
"I say, Inspector, what are you doing here?" I asked, my voice muffled by my impromptu gas mask. He did not seem in a particularly talkative mood, though, as he immediately ran off, apparently clutching some small object to his chest. I immediately knew that something was afoot, and ran as quickly as I could to the room. At first, I was thankful because it seemed the room was not as violently ransacked as I had expected, but it was still obvious that somebody had rifled through it.
"Well, this is fantastic," I muttered, looking through the small mess, trying to determine what he could possibly have taken. It appeared to me that nothing was missing, but then I came to a horrific realization that I was not looking in the correct place.
"Oh, no…surely not…" I opened the drawer in the bedside table, and lo, it was completely empty of the invaluable contents I had entrusted it with: the translators.
"Damn that inspector!" I cried. "I thought something was off about him!"
Forgoing all ideas of leaving Ralph and Anne to themselves, and ignoring the hideous smell, I ran back to the dining room, noticing that the camera crew was filming Clive shouting at who I assumed was the (evidently very stubborn) manager, a short, heavyset balding man, who was insisting his hotel had no flaws, which I now recognized as an absolute lie.
Ignoring them, I made my way over to Anne and Ralph, both of whom had, at the moment, no food at all.
"We've been robbed!" I whispered, trying to keep my voice under the microphones.
"What?" Anne whispered back, shocked.
"Do you remember that inspector from back at the Team Rocket base? I believe that after I informed him of the existence of my translators, he became very interested and followed us back here, then stole them from our room!"
"I thought he was strange," Ralph muttered.
"We must find him, or else my most important work will be lost fore—"
"CUT!" Clive yelled suddenly, signaling to the cameramen to stop rolling at once. "What is that goddamn smell? Seriously, we'll have to do this later, this is terrible. And speaking of terrible, that was not very good, way too over the top," he chided, turning to the manager.
"I always figured these things were faked," Anne said.
"Wait…****! I recognize that smell!" Ralph yelled. "We need to get out of here, now!"
"What is it?" Clive yelled.
"I remember this from during the war! It's a highly flammable compound called Charmax! The slightest spark could set it off!"
"Could we please all calm down before I go deaf?" I requested.
"We need to get out of here as fast as possible before this place goes up!" Ralph demanded, running off to warn the other guests that may or may not have actually been there.
"Wait, was he talking about that Listerine smell?" The manager asked. "That's just the broken water cooler. Must be acting up again."
"I thought it was musty in here…" Anne mused.
"You seem remarkably…calm, now that the cameras are off," I said, silently thankful there was no apparent threat of explosion.
"Of course!" He said, somewhat surprised. "These things are all faked. I knew the hotel was going to ****, so I brought him down to help me fix it, and if I act like an insane *******, then that draws people in because they want to see that crazy guy who was on TV last night, and I get money."
"Meanwhile, I look good when I manage to turn him and his hotel completely around, so we both get something out of it!" Clive said.
Before I could point out the severe issues inherent in such a model, Ralph ran back into the room, looking only very slightly out of breath.
"Okay, I don't think there's actually anybody here right now, but we need to get our things and leave as quickly as possible. If it hasn't gone off by now, we might still have a little bit of time to escape and…"
He was interrupted by a very loud boom, seemingly coming from the roof. Ralph shrieked and dove beneath a table, while the manager stared in disbelief.
"Uh…that was the water cooler, bucko. I think it finally died. 'Bout time, too."
"What?" Ralph asked, barely peeking his head out.
"That smell comes from the water cooler when it stops working. I don't know what that 'Charmax' stuff is, but whatever it is, I don't think it comes out of that old piece of junk, considering this place is still standing."
"Can we please get back on topic?" I requested. When all eyes were on me, and Ralph clambered out of his makeshift cover, I continued.
"A detective inspector robbed me of a very important invention of mine, and I desire to have it returned to me."
"A robbery!" Clive shouted, quite excited at the prospect. "This is great! Think of the ratings!"
"What?!" I cried. "No! My rightful property has been taken from me, and I intend to retrieve it without taking part in this cynical ratings game of yours!"
"Aw, please?" Anne begged. "I've always wanted to be on a Clive Warren show!"
"Well…make a statement about the hotel during the deconstruction bit or something, then! Ralph, do you at all care about this business?"
"I hate reality television," he said.
"Well, then, would you care to help me retrieve what is mine?"
"Hm…something might be up with that inspector. We should probably go looking for him."
We continued our conversation as we walked out of the dining hall. "Do you think he might be corrupt?" I asked.
"It's possible, but I don't think that's it." Ralph shook his head. "More likely is that he saw an opportunity for easy money and took it."
"Well, after he sells the prototypes, then what? He could not possibly determine how they work, they are extremely complicated, state of the art technology. The tone recognition coding alone is revolutionary."
"He doesn't care about the tech, he just wants whatever money he can get off of it."
"Bloody philistine," I muttered. We had just left the hotel, and I looked around, wondering where he might have gone.
"Blast! I think he may have escaped!" I cried.
"Hold on, Larch, it's not too late, he's probably still nearby. Hey, sir!" He ran off, and I saw that he was running towards a teenaged fellow waving about a sign for some cheap tax service.
"Did you see a tall, thin white guy clutching something to his chest run by here recently?" Ralph asked.
"Uh…yeah, actually, he looked like he was in a hurry. Why?"
"He's a friend of ours. Listen, which way did he go?"
"That way." He gestured to the east, which did not seem to have much there, thankfully narrowing our search.
"Alright, where might he have gone east?" I wondered.
"There's a motel over that way," the youth offered. "He might be in there."
"Thank you." Ralph and I ran off, hoping we were not too late.
The motel, though small, seemed infinitely superior to the horrific hovel we had just left behind, and it seemed a likely choice to settle down after a daring robbery.
"Alright, shall we take this bastard down?" I asked.
"We'll most likely have the element of surprise," Ralph said. "I think we should go in and extract him as soon as possible."
"Uh…yes. Anyway, if we go in and ask for him, it should be easy to find him."
We nodded, and made our entrance, Ralph walking up to the apathetic teenage girl at the front desk and putting on his best smile.
"Hi, a friend of ours just came by here, about yea high, black trenchcoat, kinda shifty looking?"
She blew out a bubble of gum and paused until it blew apart, then decided to answer him. "He's in room 203, over there." She pointed down a hallway, and Ralph thanked her, the both of us immediately running over there.
"'Allo?" Ralph asked, putting on a convincing impression of a Swedish housemaid. "Ve are de rume service, could ya opun op, pleaze?"
"What?" He asked from inside, opening the door. When he saw us, a look of shock crossed his face, but he quickly formed a plan of action to escape from us: punching me in the face and running away while I was distracted.
"Gah!" I cried, holding my bruised eye. " I looked with my uninjured eye and saw that Ralph had already given chase, and I did the same, trying not to bump into everything along the way.
By the time I got outside, Ralph and the inspector had already gotten into a fistfight, the two of them grappling with impressive skill.
"Get him, Ralph! Show him who the boss is!" I yelled, propping myself up against a porch pillar.
"Give the translators back, *******!" Ralph yelled, evidently ignoring me.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" He insisted, clearly lying. Soon, Ralph managed to get an edge over him and force him on a table, trying to get a decent punch in. However, the inspector was not ready to give up that easily, and moved his head away from each punch.
Eventually, the inspector managed to push Ralph off, and leapt back up into an uppercut, which forced Ralph to the floor.
"Come on, Ralph!" I attempted to encourage him, but it was little use, as now the earlier situation had been reversed, with the inspector throwing punches and Ralph dodging them.
"Oh, bollocks to this," I muttered, picking up a chair and smashing it over the inspector's back.
"Thanks," Ralph said, getting up and dusting himself off. "Is he okay?"
The inspector moaned, which was good enough for us.
"Now, where does he have those…" I started rifling through his overcoat, eventually pulling out the six devices he had so callously stolen from me.
"Should we call the cops?" Ralph asked.
"Is he worth the trouble?" I responded.
"Hang on…" Ralph pulled out the Inspector's wallet, and started looking through it, quickly
spotting something of great interest.
"This inspector ID is a fake. Look, you can tell by the image of the crest. It's all smudged when it should be a lot clearer."
"Impersonating an officer of the law!" I cried. "Astonishing! What have we uncovered?"
"I was working for Rocket," he muttered beneath us. "I wanted to see who it was that found the base, and when you mentioned those translators, I thought it would be pertinent to our interests."
"Well, doubtlessly the police will find you very pertinent to their interests. Ralph, do you have a handle on this situation?"
"Yeah, I don't think he'll be moving much at all for a little while."
"Excellent! I shall go rendezvous with Anne and then search for a better hotel."
"This one's pretty nice," the false inspector said. "Smells a lot better. Has free Wi-Fi, too."
"Very well, then, I will move us into this fine edifice after I meet with Anne. Ta-ra!"
"Anne?" I asked, seeing her standing outside the hotel. I noticed that she had taken the liberty of removing all of our bags, so that was one thing out of the way.
"Oh, hey, Larch. Found him?"
"Indeed." I held up the translators to confirm this. "It turns out he was an impostor working for Team Rocket. Quite nasty business."
"Jeez, what a douche."
"However, it turns out the motel he was staying at was quite nice, so we will be able to move there soon."
"Yeah, I'd rather not interrupt Clive anymore than I already have. I'll have to miss the part where I get to say what was wrong with the hotel, though, which is a shame."
"I am very much certain he knows what is wrong already."
"Hey, Larch, what the hell are you doing here?"
His voice was as a nail upon a thousand chalkboards, and I knew whom the voice belonged to before I ever turned around: Jack LeBoure.
"Jack…" I muttered, trying to look away.
"Seriously, what the hell brings you to this place? And that hotel, Jesus, you should consider a
cardboard box, it'd be an improvement!"
"Still attempting to sell yourself as some sort of stand-up comedian, I see."
Jack smirked. "Hey, at least I'm more successful than you ever were!"
"We shall soon see, Jack, we shall soon see."
"Yeah, sure, whatever, once I show off these legendaries, I'll be heading straight for the top!" He punctuated his sentence by pointing straight into the sky and walking off.
I grimaced powerfully, but then shook it off, picked up my and Ralph's things, and we both walked to the motel, well ready to get some rest…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
After our strange little adventure with the inspector, we were thankfully able to get some rest in the motel, and the next morning, an acceptable breakfast of eggs and bacon. It was hardly the highest-quality establishment, but after the hotel previous, it was a vast improvement.
When we walked out of the motel together, it seemed as if not much would happen that day, and I thanked the heavens themselves for such. Alas, it was soon proven not to be, as none other than Jack LeBoure walked up next to us, entirely uninvited, and began running his mouth.
"Larch! Still around, I see. You're gonna want to get that ticket soon, or else you won't make it to Unova in time to embarrass yourself!"
"Tell me, LeBoure, do you ever tire of being the most insufferable clod to walk upon this Earth?" I asked.
He merely shrugged and grinned. "It can be hard work sometimes."
"What do you want, Jack?" I stopped suddenly, turning to face him.
"Well, actually, I was wondering something. You go on and on about that Shaymin of yours so often, I thought it might be interesting to put it up against an actual Legendary to see where it stands."
I silently seethed for a moment, and then considered his proposal. Although it would be nice to finally shut him up, I knew he was referring to that damned Latias, and that putting Shaymin against it would be far, far too risky. I then considered an alternate path that might prove even more embarrassing for him.
"I shall do you better, LeBoure. I offer that, instead of your Latias against my Shaymin, I shall pit Rembrandt against her."
Anne, Ralph, and Jack all stared at me like I had gone completely out of my head.
"Are…are you serious?" Jack asked, not believing my proposal was in earnest. "You want…to put a Smeargle…against a Latias."
"Indeed I do, and I am quite serious! I believe I stand a fair chance!"
Jack turned away from me and shook his head a bit, then turned back. "This I gotta see."
"I shall meet you at the gym, then," I offered, smiling.
"Yeah, yeah, sure…"
As I walked off, somewhat confident my plan would work, the other three stayed behind, utterly confused at my proposal.
I always thought the Celadon Gym was an odd little construction; much of it functioned as a greenhouse, and a very well kept one at that. Although the leader, Erika, was known to excel at Plant-type Pokémon, and her defeat would net one the Rainbow Badge, I was not there to battle her, which was just as well, since she was out on business when I got there, replaced by one of her assistants. He was somewhat odd looking, wearing his khakis and his beekeeper's hat, but seemed nice enough, and quickly made his services known to me.
"Hello, I'm afraid that Erika is out for now, so I'll be the interim Gym Leader until she gets back. How can I help you?"
"I challenged a certain rival of mine to a Pokémon battle, and thought it best to have it in a safe, controlled environment rather than out among the public."
"That's probably smart. Our battling area is open right now, so you won't have to wait. Who's your opponent?"
"A very unpleasant person, to be sure. He should be arriving shortly."
As I said this, the door opened behind me, and the others walked in, Jack looking surprisingly concerned.
"Look, Berkeley, this is a really terrible idea. There's no possible way that thing could beat Latias."
Indeed, it seemed that even when Jack was concerned for something, he had to find some way to make himself superior to it.
"Are you afraid, Jack? Afraid you will lose, so you are now trying to stop the battle before it starts?"
Jack grimaced. "What? No! It's a Latias against a Smeargle, why would I ever be afraid of losing in that?"
Erika's assistant raised his eyebrows, clearly impressed at the implication of the statement. "He has a point, that sounds like a really bad idea. Are you sure that—"
"I am entirely sure I want to go through with this," I insisted. "Now, where is the battling area?"
"Right over here, sirs." The fellow guided us to a fairly wide, grassy area, encased by a massive glass dome, which would be absolutely perfect for a battle of this caliber.
"All right, this is going to be a one-on-one fight," the assistant explained. "You each get one Pokémon, which you've apparently already chosen. No fighting dirty, no potions, and no switching your Pokémon out. Ready…" we each pulled out the appropriate PokeBall, "set…" we held them out, "Go!"
In a flash, we released our Pokémon, Rembrandt standing before the glorious, oddly-shaped Legendary Pokémon, Latias.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, what the hell is this?" the Smeargle demanded, looking quite shocked. "What's this thing? Does that douchebag own it?"
"I shall explain later, Rembrandt, for now, we must fight!" I yelped as the Latias surged forward, one wing glowing silver, a clear use of Steel Wing. In an excellent display of reflexes, Rembrandt leapt over the wing like an Olympic athlete, turning around and striking the Latias on the head before landing expertly. She turned around before running into me, evidently quite steamed.
"What the…" Jack bellowed. "How did he do that?!"
"Practice and co-ordination!" I proudly answered. "Now, Rembrandt, use Leech Seed!"
Rembrandt threw out three small seeds, which caught the Latias off-guard, allowing them to take root and consistently provide Rembrandt with her own strength.
Although I could not read Jack's mind, in that moment, I did not have to, as the fear on his face from my early lead was quite evident.
"Damn it!" I cried, pressing my hands to my temples to prevent myself from being
affected. Rembrandt, unfortunately, reacted to late, and although he was not hit with the full brunt of the psychic onslaught, he was still rendered quite woozy.
I groaned. My advantage had been wrenched from me in a heartbeat, but the effect of the seeds kicked in at that moment and he regained some semblance of coherency.
"Oh…wow, that's awesome…" he mumbled, trying to regain himself.
"Focus, Rembrandt!" I shouted. "Get onto her back!"
He shook his head a few times and attempted to follow the command, but the Latias was impressively skilled, and consistently managed to dodge Rembrandt's attempts to
get on her.
"Use Steel Wing again!" Jack shouted. The stakes were raised much higher as the wing transformed once more, meaning that if Rembrandt were to be struck, he would most likely be knocked out immediately, or even worse.
"Forget the back!" I commanded. "Dodge until she gets tired!"
Such a thing quickly proved to be very difficult indeed, as Rembrandt was barely able to dodge the vicious onslaught that the Latias was dishing out.
"Uh…hey, you might wanna calm down a little bit there, guys, this is starting to get out of hand!" the assistant warned. It went entirely unheeded, and I could not help but gape in horror as Rembrandt was struck by the steel wing.
"NO!" I cried, as he flew off to the side, landing in some shrubbery. For a few tense moments, nothing happened, and I halted my breath, hoping the worst had not come to pass. I felt like cheering madly when Rembrandt leapt back out, looking somewhat worse for the wear, but more importantly, very, very mad.
"Alright, now you're gonna get it!" he cried, running headlong at the shocked Latias, leaping up at the last second and delivering a solid kick beneath her chin. This proved enough for him to get onto her neck, allowing him to grab the "ears" and start riding her like a bull, cheering wildly. Although he certainly seemed to be enjoying himself, the rest of us simply stared in confusion at the strange sight before us.
"Okay, this is ridiculous." the assistant finally decided, pulling out a whistle and blowing on it. Both Pokémon on the field halted and stared at him as he called for a time-out.
"Are you all right, Rembrandt?" I asked, as he returned to me and Jack recalled his Latias.
"Ah…damn, that nearly blew my sternum in."
"My apologies for this whole business…I may have overestimated our abilities…"
Rembrandt shook his head. "Forget about it. I've got a score to settle, and goddamn it, I'm gonna settle it!"
He turned back to face Jack, who now looked quite mad.
"I'm not gonna let you win with that stupid beagle thing!" he shouted, releasing the Latias again.
"Okay, play nice this time," the assistant said. "And…begin!"
At first, neither of us announced a move, now realizing that whatever it was, it would probably be countered almost immediately. Neither did our Pokémon move, either, recognizing the same truth.
"Come on, come on…" Rembrandt muttered, circling the arena slowly, ready to attack at a moment's notice. The Latias was doing the same, a look of extreme concentration upon her face.
Then, in a movement so sudden it was almost impossible to tell what had happened, they launched at each other, both of them attempting a number of strikes in an effort to find an opening. However, as soon as this deadly dance began, it ended, both of them in the same position as before, waiting for another strike.
"Where did you learn to do that?" I asked breathlessly, quite impressed by what had happened before me.
"I get a lot of practice in that PokeBall." he answered, his focus not wavering for a second. The Latias lunged again, but Rembrandt realized it as a ruse, and leapt away before the Latias used Confusion again, safely escaping its range.
"They've just taken complete control over the match!" the assistant said. "You two aren't even doing anything!"
"Well, what would you do in this situation?" I demanded. "This has gotten entirely beyond my control! I am powerless now!"
Indeed, it seemed anybody was powerless to stop the battle now taking place before us. Once more, they lunged for each other, the Latias going just a bit too low, which allowed Rembrandt to leap over her and grab a wing, biting hard into it. She shrieked and attempted to shake him off, but the hold of his jaw was simply too powerful. Increasingly desperate, the Latias flew through the glass ceiling, but Rembrandt released his grip and fell back to the ground.
"Oh, what the hell?! Do you have any idea how expensive that glass is?" The assistant's concern was quickly drowned out as the Latias flew back in, glowing powerfully. She then appeared to punch into the ground, sending out a wave of raw psychic energy so powerful that we were all immediately knocked out. The last thing I saw before going under completely was the Latias grabbing Rembrandt's unconscious form and then flying out of the large hole she had made…
When I awoke, it was obviously later in the day, though it was still quite bright out, so I could not have been under for long. I slowly got to my feet, being quite careful as I was still fuzzy in the head.
"Wha…hello? Anybody?" I called out, hoping I would get a response. I quickly got one from Jack, who seemed quite displeased.
"What the hell was that!?" He demanded, rubbing his temples. "Where'd they go?"
"How should I know that?" I countered. "I was unconscious just as much as you were."
"If I lost that Latias, I am going to sue you out of everything that you own!"
"Relax, would you? I am sure they can still be found." Next to me, the assistant stirred, looking around at the mess.
"Damn it, she leaves for one day, and look at what happens…" he muttered, rubbing his head. "Wait, where the hell did they go?!" he yelled, running over to the arena and wildly looking about.
"That's what I was wondering," Jack said. "Evidently, Mr. Supergenius over here just
let this escalate after his stupid Smeargle—"
"Stop trying to pin this on me, would you! It was your Latias that made us all unconscious, Rembrandt was entirely innocent in that."
"He bit her on the wing and rode her like a bull! I wouldn't call that 'innocent', Larch!"
"Only after she threw him into the greenery!"
"Well, maybe if you didn't instigate this stupid-ass battle in the first place, we wouldn't be having this problem!"
"Maybe if you stopped being an intolerable idiot for five seconds, I would never have challenged you in the first place!"
"Ladies, please, can you discuss this later?" the assistant asked. "Right now, we should try to find them."
"Find who?" Anne asked, walking up behind me.
"Rembrandt and the Latias have disappeared entirely." I said.
"What?! Can't anybody hold on to their Pokémon these days? Jeez…"
"That is irrelevant right now. We must find them!"
"What's this 'we' crap, now?" Anne demanded. "This was your screw-up, you figure it out. Besides, I have a really bad headache. Jesus, goddamn Psychic-types…"
Quite complete with the business, she walked off continuing to mutter some unintelligible anger.
"Blast. That Mightyena of hers would have been incredibly useful."
"A Mightyena?" Jack asked. "Seriously? Doesn't anybody use actually useful Pokémon these days?"
I glared at him. "I'll have you know, he has served quite a good purpose on our journey so far. Why, Rembrandt may have been lost even earlier without his timely help!"
"Oh, yeah, we probably should go looking for him."
"Where is Ralph?" I asked, looking around for him. I quickly spotted him, still sprawled on the ground, not conscious, but obviously still alive.
"Damn it, everybody useful is unavailable." I noted.
"Hey!" Jack objected. "I'm useful."
"Oh, certainly, I have no doubt in my mind that you will be of great use here. Why, the police should hire you for their manhunts, you would be utterly invaluable in such an event—"
"Will you two quit it?!" the assistant demanded. "You're acting like children! Just go get your stupid Pokémon and leave so I can fix this mess."
Jack and I looked at each other, and decided it would be wisest to follow his instruction. We collected our things and quickly made our leave, finding ourselves back out on the street.
"Well, now what?" Jack asked.
"We should begin by asking around. Perhaps somebody has seen them?"
"Yeah, that grandpa over there looks like he's been here a while." The man he was referring to was an older gentleman, sitting on a bench and reading a novella. Given that he was almost to the end of the book, it did indeed seem that he had been there for some time.
"Alright, sir, did you recently see a Latias flying out of that gym over there?" I asked him. He set down his book, not bothering to take his place, and looked up at me.
"Why, yes I did, sonny. Quite the powerbomb she did on that Smeargle, too." He laughed, despite my obvious concern.
"Powerbomb? Bloody hell…where did they go?"
"Well, after the powerbomb, they started jumping around each other, attracted quite the crowd. Eventually, they gave up and walked off. Seemed quite nice with each other."
"Oh?" I asked, genuinely surprised.
"Berkeley, I swear, if that dumb artist thing of yours gets my Latias—"
"Why is that the first thing that crosses your mind?" I asked.
"Well, uh…okay, yeah, wow, that sounded really bad…"
"You two wanna get a room already?" the man asked us. Jack and I glanced at each other, then quickly looked away, quite uncomfortable with this line of conversation.
"Uh…yes, anyway, where did they go?" I asked, desperate to change the subject.
"Somewhere in the forest, over yonder. Real good catch, that Latias was, by the way."
"…Thank you?" Jack clearly had little idea what to think at this point, and instead ran over into the forest, eager to be rid of the whole mess. I followed suit, having the same desire, and turned up the volume on the translator to ensure I caught any ambient conversation.
"Hey, Latias, where the hell are you?" Jack yelled, clearly not interested in the same degree of precision as I. "Latias, come on, I want to get out of this ******* of a city!"
"Have you any subtlety at all?" I asked, pushing past him. "Rembrandt?" I asked simply. I waited a moment for the response, but found none.
"Where have they gone?" I wondered. "How far into the forest could they have gone?"
"Apparently, pretty far in," Jack said, looking around for any sign. "Damn it, they really went in here."
"Perhaps they are not in the forest at all. They may very well have left some time ago."
Jack halted, considering this possibility. After a while, he simply said "****," and turned around. I followed, hoping I was right.
"Okay, that didn't work," Jack said, walking back to the old man. "Did you see them go anywhere else after they went into the forest?"
"Why, yes, actually, I forgot to mention. They came back out after a few minutes holding some berries and went right over there." He turned around on his seat and pointed behind him, and lo, there were Rembrandt and the Latias, chatting away in front of a sizable crowd of people.
"…We are quite stupid, aren't we?" I asked Jack.
"...Goddamnit," Jack muttered, running over.
"Say, would you like my translator?" I offered, following after him. He turned to face me, staring at me.
"Fine," he said. I took them out of my ear and handed them to him. He quickly placed him into his ears and walked over to his Latias. Getting closer, he stopped, evidently hearing Pokémon talk in English for the first time. Stopping for a few more moments, he finally said "Holy ****!" and pulled out his Pokeball, pushing away the crowd and recalling the Latias at last. The crowd dispersed, making noticeable sounds of great disappointment, and Rembrandt glared at him.
"Hey, come on, I've been out for, like, an hour. I need to get out of here."
I could not tell what Rembrandt then said, but given that Jack then yelled, "Well, **** you too!" I can guess it was that he stated.
Jack walked back to me, visibly displeased, and handed back the translators. "I guess they do work. That Latias is still gonna steal the show, though."
"I am sure she will. A fine specimen, and a fine…well, attempt at a battle, I suppose."
He shrugged. "I guess it was alright before it went to ****. Thank you."
Jack held out his hand, and I decided to shake it as a show of good faith. We nodded at each other, and then he walked off, leaving me alone outside of the gym.
"Did you find him?" Anne asked, walking up next to me.
"Uh…yes, right over there." I went over to retrieve Rembrandt, now thinking about what would happen when we finally got to Unova. I had no doubt that, no matter what, it would certainly be interesting…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
A Sort of Hero
A few minutes after Jack and I had recovered our Pokémon, Anne, Ralph, and I had regrouped near the town center, finally ready to get to Vermillion City, and thus, the S.S. Anne.
“All right, we have had our fun, but we really should be going soon,” I said, knowing it would be best. “The S.S. Anne leaves in a few days, after all.”
“I agree,” Ralph said, crossing his arms. “I’m very much over this place.”
“We should be able to make it to Saffron City before nightfall,” Anne said.
“What if we got a taxi?” Ralph proposed.
“The fare would be enormous by the time we got there,” I noted. “It would likely be better to simply walk.”
“All the way to Saffron?” Anne asked. “No, thank you.”
“Well, perhaps there may be some alternative method of transportation,” I said. “In fact, is there not a carriage that goes to Saffron at about this time?”
“Hey, yeah!” Ralph had suddenly recalled that which I was referring to: a lovely Ponyta-drawn carriage that conveyed passengers upon Route Seven, allowing for simple access. Better still, it would be more efficient than taxi fare: the cost was up front, rather than progressively greater as it went along, and I was well aware taxi drivers took the longer routes on purpose to drive up costs.
“Excellent!” I pronounced. “We shall take the carriage at once!”
“Oh, yeah, the carriage!” Anne remembered, somewhat late in. “I’ve always wanted to go on that.”
“Well, now you shall get your chance,” I said. “It would be wise to head over now; it will likely depart soon.”
With that, we three headed for Route Seven, expecting the carriage to be upon it. Indeed, when we got there, the carriage was still there, but we quickly noticed a problem: it was, in fact, preparing to leave, and we likely would not make it in time…at least, we would not if we had not realized the issue and started running very quickly.
“Hold on!” I cried, desperately trying to keep up. Luckily for me, these tour carriages never moved very quickly. “Hold on, I say!”
“What the hell?” somebody in the back of the carriage said, looking back at us.
“I said slow down!” I shouted once more. The carriage did nothing, again, and I thus had to take more drastic measures. Running up directly alongside the carriage, I grabbed hold of it, trying to keep my legs moving along with it. I quickly grew tired of trying to keep up, though, and let my legs simply drag behind me.
“Holy hell!” The driver said, grinding the carriage to a halt. He dismounted and ran up to me, looking both worried and confused. “Are you alright?”
“Er, yes, entirely,” I let go of the carriage and adjusted my glasses. “Might we get on? I have fare.”
“Uh…” The driver was clearly quite unsure of whether or not to let us on, and looked back at the passengers.
“Hell, that was pretty entertaining, I say let ‘em on!” somebody proclaimed.
The driver shrugged. “Well, if you say so…”
“Ah, very good!” I said. “How much will that be, then?”
After our little hiccup, we found ourselves just outside of Saffron City, the largest city in the region. The skyline was truly impressive, dominated by the massive Silph Co. building, from which the entire world was provided with items invaluable for Pokémon training, including the PokeBall, one of the greatest achievements of our age. I felt, though, that it would soon relieve that title in favor of my translator. However, that was still a way off, and we had to get to Vermillion quickly, so we had little time to enjoy the sights.
“Damn,” Ralph said, looking at the buildings. “Pretty impressive.”
“Indeed it is. However, we must not dally much longer. I believe that by the time we get to the edge of the city, Bill will have recovered and he can carry us into Vermillion, at which point we only have to get to the S.S. Anne and thus, Unova.”
“Thanks for the recap, professor,” Anne deadpanned. “We still have to get to the edge.”
“We seriously could take a taxi, it would save some time.” Ralph suggested.
“I do not trust taxi drivers!” I announced. “The last time I took a taxi in this city, he drove halfway around the edge of the city for absolutely no reason!”
“Well, you’d want to see the sights, right?” Anne asked.
“Not when they add twenty dollars to my fare!” I countered.
“Fine, cheapskate, we’ll just walk across the entire goddamn city.”
“Calm down, both of you,” Ralph chided. “The easiest way to get there would be going straight down Main Street, and then turn right just past the Silph Building.”
“Oh. Well, I guess that’s not terrible,” Anne said.
We began the walk towards the building, getting quickly caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city. We were able to get a fairly good pace, if only for the sake of not getting trampled.
“Bloody hell, where are all these people going?” I wondered aloud. It went unheard, though, among the countless other conversations going on around us.
I was starting to get claustrophobic among all the people around us, so I silently thanked the higher powers once we managed to reach the Silph Co. building. We stopped for a moment to stare up at it, awing at the sheer size of the eighty-story skyscraper.
“This is still quite the feat of architecture,” I said. “Thousands of tons of steel and glass that perfectly supports itself. Absolute genius.”
“Yeah,” Anne said, “I guess. None of the walls are load-bearing, though. All that glass is just there to keep out weather and stuff. The actual support is all just concrete and rebar in the foundation, so it doesn’t really ‘support itself’.” As if to mock me, she did those “air quotes” that are so popular nowadays, but I ignored that.
We stayed for a few moments more, but then was when things got strange. A loud “bang” rang out and thick white smoke began pouring out the front of the building, and the quickly moving crowd halted in shock, wondering aloud at what had just happened. It became obvious very soon that it was just some sort of smoke bomb, although for what, nobody could have known.
“I’m going in,” Ralph said after a few minutes, pulling his handgun back out.
“In there?!” I asked. “Are you insane? You are likely to be shot! How can you even see anything?”
“It has to clear out soon, and whoever’s in there, I doubt they can see very well either.” He then ran in, keeping a very low profile and expertly keeping his gun at the ready.
For a few tense moments, we waited to see what would occur. It soon became obvious that Ralphs brilliant plan was not very good, as he sprinted out of the smoke quite unprofessionally, his gun missing entirely and a bruise below his eye.
“What happened?” Anne asked, gingerly touching his bruise.
“I…may have underestimated my advantage,” He answered, huffing.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means there were twenty of them with high-grade assault rifles and military equipment, and I was blind and had a handgun with half a magazine left.”
“That is a significant disadvantage, yes,” I noted.
Suddenly, a sleek black limousine drove out of the halted traffic, and stopped right in front of the building.
“What is this business, now?” I wondered, and was soon answered when four spec-ops looking types wielding very large assault rifles came out and took their place. From behind, a man in a rather ugly beige suit walked out and ran into the building, quickly obscured by the smoke. They immediately demanded the crowd to clear out, pointing the guns at them. Although everyone around us caught on and made their exit, we simply sort of stared.
“Hey, you!” one of them yelled, pointing at us. “Get out of here!”
“Uh…now, look, we can talk about this, surely…” My words went unheeded as Anne released Bill, who looked around a bit and then roared powerfully. The four men held up their guns, but before they could fire, Bill shot out a volley of his own fire. Two of them dodged out of the way, since they were well out of the fire’s range, but two others were immediately set alight, as was the limousine behind them. While they fell to the ground and started rolling about in a desperate attempt to put out the flames, the other two began shooting wildly at Bill, who merely flew above the bullets and swooped back down, grabbing one of them in his claw and throwing him at the other man, incapacitating them both.
“Holy ****!” Anne yelled, all three of us running over to the scene. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” Bill said, stretching his neck slightly. “I think they clipped my wing, though.”
Anne looked at the membrane, and saw that, indeed, several bullets had punctured it. She grimaced and began looking at the surprisingly small wounds, Bill looking quite confused as she did so.
“What’s wrong? I’ve scuffed it up way worse than that.”
Anne looked up at him in doubt. “You got shot with an assault rifle, but your wing barely looks damaged. How did that happen?”
It was then I realized an explanation would be pertinent, and so I began. “A Charizard’s wing membranes are such that rather than normal flesh, in which damage can spred outwards from a single point, only the point of impact is damaged and removed, so that the rest of the wing remains intact for flying. Quite ingenious, really.”
“Thanks for the science lesson,” Anne said, rolling her eyes. “What are we going to do about this?”
“What do you mean, ‘this’? Do you expect us to save the day again? We may have gotten lucky the first time, but this is completely beyond the pale. We have no chance against them!”
“Look, Larch, I’ve had training, I can handle this situation. Especially with one of these.” He picked up one of the unconscious men’s rifles, along with some ammunition.
“Will that be enough?” I asked.
“If you help me, yes,” he answered.
“Absolutely out of the question,” I balked. “Do you really expect me to go in there and risk being turned into Swiss cheese by those psychopaths?”
“If you won’t, I will.” With that, Ralph ran inside the building, where the smoke had about cleared out. I thought for a moment and realized that I could not allow him to do this alone, and that he would most likely die if he did so.
“Damn it,” I muttered, picking up the other rifle and running in after him.
I found Ralph waiting outside the elevator, his gun at the ready.
“Oh, you came,” He greeted, turning around and pointing the gun at me. I ducked away, not wanting him to accidentally aerate me with the thing.
“Careful with that!” I yelled, getting back up. “Some training you had. Even I know you are supposed to keep you finger off the trigger and not point it at anybody!”
“Hm?” He questioned. I decided to drop it, which was probably a good thing, as that was the moment that Anne came up.
“So, what do we do?”
“You did not grab a weapon?” I asked.
“I have Bill.”
“That may not be enough. He got lucky earlier, but in such a group and in such a tight space, they are likely to do more damage.”
“I figured as much. Which is why I grabbed this.” She held up a black cylinder will a tab of sorts at the very top. Despite not being very well versed in weaponry, I immediately recognized it.
“A smoke grenade? This is likely the same thing that they used earlier to cover their entrance.”
“And we’ll use it to cover ours,” Ralph said, when suddenly the elevator dinged behind him. We all turned to face it, Ralph holding up his weapon, Anne readying the grenade, and me attempting to at least look threatening, if nothing else.
After a few tense moments, it opened, revealing but one of the men, who looked very surprised to see us there. Before he could react, Ralph moved his gun downwards and shot a few times at his feet, distracting him enough that he was then able to run over and clock him with the butt of the gun, sending him to the floor like a lead weight.
“Bloody hell!” I yelled, picking at my ear. “Are these things usually that loud?”
“Yes,” Ralph answered, searching the man for more ammo.
“I had better take these out, then,” I decided, pulling out my translators. “The noise might damage them.” The others decided this was wise, and pulled out theirs.
“Well, now what?” I asked. As if to answer, the unconscious man roused, rubbing his head in agony.
“What the hell?” he muttered, catching eye of us once again. Ralph grabbed him by the collar and, in an impressive display for such a wiry man, lifted him off the ground.
“Where is the man that came in here?” he demanded coldly, sending a chill through all present.
“T-the top floor,” he stuttered in answer. Ralph, having gotten the information he needed, thrust his head against the wall of the elevator, knocking him out once again.
“You are going to give him brain damage at this rate, you know,” I said, getting into the elevator along with Anne.
“He probably wasn’t using it for much, anyway,” Ralph said, throwing him unceremoniously out of the elevator. It was likely true, but there was no time to dwell on it.
I observed the panel of buttons that would convey the elevator to the upper floors. “It seems this elevator does not actually go to the very top, only halfway. Rather common in modern buildings, really. We shall have to take the one next to it on the middle floor the rest of the way.”
“They’ll be waiting for us,” Ralph said. “When we reach the top floor, get ready to raise hell.”
“Hell, you say?” Anne asked, pulling out one of her PokeBalls. “I guess Dante would be appropriate, then?”
I glared at her for the terrible pun, but rather than call attention to it, I merely pressed the button to take us to floor forty, knowing that Anne was most likely right anyway.
As we approached our destination, we discussed the plan of action for the inevitable blockade of people. It was a relatively simple one, but we believed it would work quite well, and once we reached floor forty and the door opened, it was time to put it into action.
The fortieth floor appeared to be a sort of secondary reception area, with the actual receptionists huddled under a table. The reason for this was obvious, as at least five of those men were waiting there for any intruders, but before they could shoot us, Anne tossed out both her smoke grenade and Dante. Two of the men had foolishly removed their masks, allowing the smoke to blind them and make them easy targets for Dante. At the same time, Ralph leapt out, eyes closed and firing his gun, having already memorized the position of the other soldiers. I, at the same time, would attempt to provide covering fire so as to protect us, but I soon gave up as the recoil ended up with me firing at the ceiling.
Once the smoke cleared, we saw how well our plan had worked: Dante was standing over the two men, having easily put them out of commission, and the rest of them were lying wounded on the floor. However, while Ralph’s aim was true, I found that, in my confusion amidst all the chaos and smoke, I was actually firing at the wall, and had done quite a good job of unintentionally sanctifying it.
“Good job, Larch,” Ralph said, smugly patting me on the back.
“Shut up, you had the advantage!” I yelled. “You actually know how to use these!”
“What happened?” One of the receptionists asked, coming out from the table entirely unscathed. She took one look at the room, and said one simple thing: “Holy ****!”
“My apologies for all this violence, but sometimes you have to do this sort of thing to liberate the innocent.”
“Now is hardly the time to be waxing philosophical on war, Ralph. We must free the building posthaste!”
“Getting excited?” Ralph asked.
“Ah…yes, I was, somewhat…anyway, we should get to the top floor. Anne, do you require armaments?”
I soon saw she had already taken that initiative, holding a number of smoke grenades and putting them in her bag.
“These things are fantastic!” she said, picking up a fair number more of them.
“What could you possibly use all of those for?” I asked. Anne promptly dropped her prizes to the ground, and Ralph and I flinched away, expecting a horrible explosion of blinding smoke. However, such did not occur, and we quickly made our way to the next elevator.
“Same plan?” Anne asked as we went up.
“Not this time. We’ll need to do something else, since they’ll be expecting us now,” Ralph said. “Now, what I was thinking is that we’ll…”
He was thoroughly interrupted as the lights in the elevator cut out and it sped up significantly, taking us to the top floor much faster than it would have normally.
“What the hell is this?” Ralph yelled, grabbing on to the wall. It soon reached the destination, although we realized that we were meant to come up here, and whoever was responsible was very impatient regarding such.
When we reached the very top floor, we finally knew what was waiting for us: a massive office, twice as large as all the other floors, with an impressive window on each wall. In the center was the CEO of Silph Co. himself, Silias Silph, with a gun put to his head, held in the arms of a colossal blond man in a beige suit.
“What is the meaning of all this?” I demanded, trying to intimidate him with my weapon. It failed, however, as the man merely laughed.
“I was hoping to meet you three after you took out my base in the forest,” he said, a smile upon his face. He released Silias, allowing him to quickly clamber under a desk. “I’m honestly impressed that you managed to do this, looking at you now. I’d normally think you would barely be able to take out Chinese food.”
“Oh, hardy har har,” I muttered. “Who are you?”
“I am Giovanni!” he yelled, throwing out his arms dramatically. “Leader of Team Rocket, and soon, the world!”
“All right, why did you go to all this trouble to take over the building?”
“Because, I wanted to meet the three people that might spell my undoing. I knew that you would be in Saffron by now, and that you couldn’t resist saving the day again, so I simply faked a takeover to bring you up here. I wasn’t quite expecting you to literally be right outside when we did it, but all the better, I suppose!”
“And now that we are here, what will you do?” I asked, stepping slightly behind Ralph, who glared fiercely at me for it.
“Well, that’s easy,” Giovanni said. “Kill you all!” Quite suddenly, and with obvious practice, he threw his arms downwards, releasing two submachine pistols from hidden catches in his sleeves, and started firing at us. However, it was very difficult to shoot both of them at once, and we were able to duck away from the streams of lead and get behind the table that Silias had chosen as a cover.
“Who the hell are you three?” he demanded, covering his head.
“Honestly, I am beginning to have that question myself!” I yelled, as Ralph leapt up from the table while Giovanni fumbled with his empty guns, trying and failing to reload them. The three of us still under the table looked up, and saw that Ralph had gotten into a fistfight with the colossal man, Giovanni’s devastating punches easily being avoided by Ralph’s light frame.
“Come on, you couldn’t punch the broad side of a barn!” he goaded, easy weaving between the horrendously telegraphed strikes. He continued his taunts, each one enraging Giovanni further and making his attacks even more useless.
Eventually, Ralph managed to guide the fight over towards the massive window aforementioned, himself being closer to it as Giovanni continued throwing punches.
“What is he doing?” I wondered aloud. “If he gets hit, he will fall straight through!”
“I think that’s the idea,” Anne said.
As we continued watching, we realized what Ralph was planning: he had kicked Giovanni away at this point, and both had stopped to catch their breath.
“Is that it?” Ralph asked, laughing. “Are you just giving up?”
“Shut up!” Giovanni yelled, charging at him like an enraged Tauros. Before the vicious impact hit, Ralph ducked beneath him, using Giovanni’s own inertia to throw him straight through the window, breaking a massive hole in it and sending him straight to the ground.
“Jesus Christ!” I yelled. We all ran over to the window in shock, carefully looking down to see that he had landed on his own limousine, nearly breaking it in half.
“You just killed a guy!” Anne yelled, gesturing towards the limo in shock.
“So?” Ralph smirked. “He was the most wanted criminal in the country. I just performed a public service.”
“Uh…” Silias looked at all three of us. “Thank you for saving the building, I suppose. Is there any way for me to repay you?”
I thought for a moment. “Well, there are two things I can think of. One, we will need a way to get to Vermillion City very quickly, and two, I would quite like if you were to mass produce these,” I pulled out my translators, “Pokémon-to-human translation devices.”
“Translation devices?” he asked. “I thought those were impossible. Everybody said the engineering hurdles would be too great to overcome.”
“They were quite difficult,” I admitted. “Were it not for my persistence and some very lucky breakthroughs, I likely would say it was impossible this very day. I am going to be delivering a presentation on it during the Unova conference in about a week and a half.”
“Oh, yeah, I was thinking about going there, actually. I guess now I have a pretty damn good reason.” He chuckled for a moment, pulling out a keychain and yanking a particular key off. “There’s a Vincentio Horizon in the underground garage, floor one, space number 3. You can have it, if you’d like.”
“Surely you jest!” I yelled. “A Vincentio Horizon? That is among the finest and fastest cars in the world! There only exist a hundred and two!”
“And I own three of them. Trust me, I don’t have a dearth of good cars. At least half the ones I own are custom made roadsters that are completely unique. I don’t have a need for three copies of a car that doesn’t really stand up to those at all. Besides, I think you deserve it for saving my company.”
“I…thank you!” I said, grasping the keys in surprise.
“Now, hold on, I was the one who did the work here,” Ralph said, pulling the keys from my grasp. I attempted to protest, but realized he was completely correct.
“Very well then,” I said, dejected. “I shall see you at my presentation. I hope you will be impressed.”
“I hope so too,” Silias said. “Have a nice trip!”
We nodded in assent, and quickly made our way back to the elevator, hoping the car would live up to our expectations.
“Holy ****,” Ralph muttered, looking at the sleek black beauty before us. It was truly a perfect machine. I recalled a few details about its function, but those were pushed out of my head as we climbed inside, Ralph driving, myself shotgun, and Anne in the back with her bag of grenades.
“I am fairly certain those are illegal to possess without a number of licenses,” I noted, looking back at her. We had no chance to discuss this, however, as Ralph pulled out, rocketing to high speeds immediately and taking us directly outside the back of the building. He made an expert turn, taking us back around the front onto Main Street, where a number of police cars and a single ambulance were waiting, taking the soldiers into custody.
“Do you have the situation under control?” I asked, rolling my window down as Ralph stopped the car.
One of the cops looked up, evidently quite surprised. “Are you the ones that did all this?” he asked, gesturing towards the ruined limo and the corpse that was being removed.
“What happens if I say yes?” I asked, worried as to the answer.
“Well, I’d congratulate you for taking out the most dangerous criminal in Kanto, and then let you go because that guy is in Special Command.” He pointed towards Ralph, who smirked.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
“You kidding?” The cop seemed incredulous, which surprised me. “You three are all over the news! You’ll be national heroes in no time after this!”
I immediately ducked back inside and consulted with the other two for a moment. We decided that, while being considered great heroes was certainly nice, we had more pressing issues.
“We really must be going! We must catch the SS Anne, and there is not much time left before it departs!” I yelled.
“All right then!” the cop cheered. “Good luck on whatever else you do! I’m sure wherever you go will end up pretty goddamn safe!”
“With us around?” Anne chuckled. “I doubt that.”
I doubted this as well, but chose not to voice my concerns as we drove off at impressive (but still perfectly legal) speed and comfort, and we would be in Vermillion City in no time. What would await us remained a mystery, and given what had happened to us in the past few days alone, it would be completely impossible to guess what else awaited us on our journey…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
With the power of the Horizon and over one thousand brake horsepower, reaching Vermillion City within the hour became absolutely trivial. Of course, considering that we were going at astonishing speeds over the poorly-paved (Route Whatever), which was, in short, very uncomfortable, even in the Horizon’s expertly designed comfort.
“I say, slow down, you madman!” I yelled, trying to keep myself stable against the road’s many bumps.
“This is the fastest production car in the world!” Ralph responded. “What the hell would I slow down for?”
“Hey, it’s not like it matters much, here we are now.” I looked ahead, and saw that we had indeed come to the tollbooth outside of the city. Ralph finally began decreasing his ludicrous speed, coming to a perfect stop right beside the booth.
“Hello?” he asked, rolling down his window and looking at the completely disinterested teenage girl sitting within.
“It’s a dollar to get in,” she said, crudely popping her gum. “And before you ask, we don’t take checks or credit ca…is that a Vincentio Horizon?!” She quickly perked up, looking the car over very thoroughly indeed.
“Why, yes, it I,.” Ralph answered, likely putting on a cheesy grin. “A dollar, you say?” He then, rather snidely, retrieved a twenty from his wallet and threw it in, driving off quickly, leaving a cloud of dust and a very confused girl in his wake.
As we finally ended up on paved road, I decided to ask a fairly important question.
“What in the hell did you just do back there?!”
“Come on, Larch, if I have the best supercar in the world, I’ve gotta act like it.”
“By throwing twenty dollar bills into toll booths at random?”
“That’s what rich people do, throw money around at everybody!”
“You are hardly as rich as Silias Silph,” I noted.
Ralph blinked and looked away, pulling up outside of a diner.
“We should probably get something to eat,” he said, getting out.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Perhaps you might try a five-star bistro for your foie gras, Mr. Moneybags!”
“Okay, okay, I get it already!” Ralph yelled, walking inside.
“Are you sure? Perhaps you could hire a team of analysts to…” My sentence was cut short when Anne slapped me on the back of the head, shooting me a very dirty look.
Saying nothing more, we both walked inside, where Ralph was already observing the (questionable) menu above the counter where the (questionable) food would be collected. A woman of about sixty was washing this counter, occasionally glancing up at us with a very unpleasant stare.
“Okay, what do we have here?” Anne wondered as she observed alongside him. I, however, looked past them and observed the area behind the bar, noticing a very peculiar set of stairs, leading down to some sort of basement.
“This breakfast menu is terrible,” Anne muttered as I continued my observations, “who eats fried chicken for breakfast?”
“White people with no money?” Ralph answered.
Their attention was quickly drawn to that staircase as a door at its base slammed open, and a fellow dressed like some sort of seventeenth-century composer, with waistcoat, coat and breeches, all of them black with silver highlights.
“Silence, Mother!” he cried in a terribly fake British accent, turning back dramatically. “I shall find success, and this is where I shall find it!”
“You’re a moron, Larry!” a woman, presumably his mother, cried back. “You’ll get shot if you go out looking like that!”
“The world will forever fear my name! You will see! All will see!”
“Ooh, I’m so scared!” his mother answered back, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Please, anything but a dime-store composer outfit!”
“I made this myself and you know that! I’m very proud of it!” He crossed his arms, and quickly stormed out, throwing the door open hard enough to almost take it off its hinges.
“What the screaming hell was that?” Ralph asked, scratching his head.
“My grandson,” the woman at the counter answered. “Ignore him.”
“Rather difficult to, with that outfit,” I noted.
“You’ll just encourage him,” she continued, “he’s trying to be some sort of ‘mega-villain’ or something. He never made anything of himself and he’s trying to prove he can, so he’s trying to take over the world or something stupid.”
“Oh, good,” I muttered. “I already know how this is going to end.”
“Hm?” Anne asked, looking away from the menu.
“Nothing, nothing,” I said. “What shall we order?”
“I’m really not sure.” Anne looked at the menu once more, as did I. Indeed, it seemed that no matter what we ordered, it would be either fill in our arteries, choke us with toxic fumes, or perhaps even poison us.
“Excellent choice of a diner,” I said to Ralph, who looked quite frightened for once.
“How do they get away with selling this crap?” he asked. “Doesn’t the health department know about this?”
“I might almost contact the Homeland Defense Department about this,” I answered. Ralph stifled a chuckle, while Anne merely glared at me.
“Can we just go somewhere else?” she asked. “This place is going to kill us!”
Perfectly on cue, a fair sized rock shattered the front window and knocked her square on the head, sending her sprawling to the floor. Ralph immediately kneeled down to care for her, while I looked to see who it was, and saw that it was that strange fellow from earlier, Larry. He bit his thumb, presumably at the whole establishment, and then ran off, trying and failing miserably to be discrete.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Anne said, getting up with Ralph’s assistance. “Who the hell was that?”
“Damn it, Larry!” The woman from behind the counter quickly made her exit, trying to chase after her incredibly strange grandson.
“Can something normal happen for once?!” I yelled. “I just wanted breakfast, and now some pretend villain dressed like evil Mozart is throwing rocks about! And not to mention how much of a step backwards this is! I mean, yesterday we re-enacted Die Hard with the richest man on the planet, for goodness’ sake!”
I started breathing heavily, while Anne and Ralph stared at me.
“You okay?” Anne asked.
“Yes, that helped.” I looked back outside and carefully observed the direction that Larry had run. “If we are some team of national heroes, I think it would be wise to at least look into this. That sort of obsession cannot ever end well.”
“What’s that nerd gonna do?” Anne asked. “He’s some dork in a lame Halloween costume, there’s nothing he’s gonna do.”
“I would not be so sure, Anne,” I said. I looked outside, and started as he ran by the window yet again. Ralph ran out to grab him, but before he could, he took out what appeared to be a set of keys and vandalized the driver’s side door of the Horizon.
“Damn it, my car!” Ralph yelled, ignoring as Larry ran off in favor of the mutilated door.
“Oh, dear, that is not good,” I said, looking at the affected area. It appeared that he had quite finely, given his limited time, carved “LWVG” into the door. What it stood for must wait until later, but for now, it was a very ugly scar on a work of sublime beauty.
“Not good! Look at it! He’s ruined it!”
“Relax, would you?” I demanded. “I believe Rembrandt can mend this affront, he is quite the talent. While he does so, we shall go looking for...him. Perhaps we shall find some relevance for this defacement.”
Ralph looked at the scratches, unconvinced Rembrandt could mend it, but then conceded to me anyway.
“Rembrandt, your turn!” I cried, releasing him from his digital slumber. He rubbed his eyes for a moment, adjusting to it, and then gawked at the work of art before him.
“Holy ****!” he yelled, closely observing the subtleties of the car. “Is this a Vincentio Horizon? How the hell did you get this?”
“It was a gift from Silias Silph after we saved him from Team Rocket,” I explained.
“You’ve been on top of things, huh?” Rembrandt continued his intense study, but came to a grinding halt as he saw the vandalism.
“What the hell is this?!” he yelled, pointing at it as if it had just killed hundreds. “Who did that?”
“Somebody very strange, and we are going to look for him and seek justice. Could you fix this?”
“I can’t let this stay here!” he yelled. Ralph gawked as the paint on his tail changed from green to black, and he quickly started painting over the scratches.
“I told you he was a talent. Come along, now!” I ran off in pursuit, Anne and Ralph following me.
It was not terribly difficult to trace Larry’s steps, given how noticeable he was; all we had to do was occasionally ask people if they had seen someone who had prepared for Halloween well in advance, and we were easily able to find him sitting on the rim of a lovely water fountain in a park on the edge of the city.
“So, you have managed to find me,” he said, crossing his arms and smiling slightly.
“You wanna tell me why you scratched my car up?” Ralph asked, getting into a fighting stance.
“I wished to give you reason to chase after me. After all, I would be no villain without some rival, and who better than the three recent heroes of Kanto?”
“What are you playing at?” I demanded. “What are you trying to accomplish?”
“Going down in history, of course!” he answered, pointing at the sky. “I shall easily take rule of Kanto after I defeat you, and from there, I shall take control of the entire world!”
“Because that worked so well the last time someone tried it…” I muttered. Larry glared at me, and made an impressive leap right in front of me.
“The last man who tried it was a fool!” he cried. “I have no intention of failing as he did. No, I will succeed in all the parts where he did not.”
“I’ll see about that!” Ralph raised his fist, running at him with full intention to take him down. However, Larry simply leapt away, producing a PokeBall that soon revealed a massive Gliscor, which stopped Ralph right in his tracks.
“Now is not the time for our battle,” Larry said, hiding behind his Pokémon. “You wish to go on the S.S. Anne, correct?”
“Yes…” I said, staring at the terrifying beast before us.
“Then we shall do battle there. I would suggest you hurry, by the way. Else there might be…consequences.”
Before any of us could react, he leapt onto his Gliscor’s back, and they flew off with impressive speed, leaving us behind on the ground.
“What did he mean by consequences?” Anne wondered.
“Nothing good,” Ralph said. “We need to hurry.”
We all nodded, and quickly ran back to the car to find an impressive sight: Rembrandt sitting atop the car, the scratches perfectly covered and many other improvements besides.
“Hi, guys! I added some flame decals onto it. I think it really adds to the dimensions.”
Indeed, atop the bonnet, roof, and front wheels, he had painted large gouts of highly realistic blue flame.
“That’s…impressive.” Ralph looked the flames over, evidently pleased with their introduction. “You did all this while we were gone?”
“I could have done more, but you came back too soon.”
“Say, Rembrandt, how would you like to ride in this?” I asked. Rembrandt practically exploded with joy at this proposition, and immediately burst into a tirade of confirmation.
“Very well, then. You shall come with us, we might well need your help.”
Rembrandt paused, his brows furrowing. “What’s this about help, now?”
“Do you want to ride in the car or not?”
Rembrandt crossed his arms. “Oh, fine.”
“Excellent! Get in, we should make haste.” Upon my suggestion, we entered the car, Ralph turning the key and bringing it to life.
“Hold on!” he yelled, pulling out and pressing upon the gas pedal. We reached the legal speed limit almost instantly, and he carried on as such until we reached the pier where the S.S. Anne was waiting. Immediately, we knew something was up: Larry’s Gliscor was keeping a crowd of people at bay, leaving him in the center of a makeshift circle. Clearly, he wanted a fight of some sort, and would not rest until he received one.
Ralph hit the handbrake and turned into a perfectly clean stop, stepping out just as the car halted.
“All right, you, let’s do this!” Ralph yelled, pushing through the crowd.
“Bring your friends in and we shall,” Larry answered.
“…Sure.” Ralph gestured to us three, and we exited, standing together before him.
“Excellent!” Larry cried. “I can finally face my greatest foes, and now they and the world shall forever know my name! All shall quake in fear before Lord Wolfgang Von Genocide!”
“Lame!” Anne yelled, cupping her hands to her mouth to emphasize.
Larry, or rather, Wolfgang, stumbled, balking at her mockery.
“You dare mock me?!” he yelled. “You will pay for your impudence! Gliscor, destroy them!”
The Gliscor leapt at us, but Rembrandt expertly leapt up and deflected his blow with his tail, smearing his opponent with green paint. The crowd gasped at this display, while we flinched backwards and Anne and Ralph instinctively pulled out PokeBalls of their own.
“Carolus, you’re up!” Anne yelled, revealing an Arcanine. Ralph, in the meantime, threw his without announcement, which produced his Serperior.
“Ah, now the games truly begin!” Wolfgang announced, taking out yet another PokeBall. “Tyrranus, destroy them!”
The red light coalesced into a Murkrow, who glared at us with vicious fury.
“How did you get all of these?” I asked. “I was under the impression you stayed in your basement all day?”
Wolfgang frowned, and then began laughing. “I do go out sometimes, you know! My foolish family assumed the same as you, so it was trivial to sneak out occasionally and ready myself for this confrontation. Catching, training, making my outfit, all done right under their nose!”
“Clever,” Ralph said, “but why?”
“Why?” Wolfgang asked, looking genuinely surprised. “To prove them wrong, of course! Everybody told me I would amount to nothing; my teachers, my ‘friends’, even my own parents, and for a time, I thought they were correct. But then I realized something in my basement: I could organize things fairly well, and more importantly, I was entirely under everyone’s radar. Who would ever think stupid layabout Larry would ever do anything dangerous? None of them, and look at me now! I will accomplish more than any of them ever did, and I will start by wiping you three off the map!”
Gliscor and Tyrannus launched at us again, and Rembrandt and the Serperior responded in kind, while Carolus stayed behind with an uncomfortable look on his face.
“Three on two?” he asked. “Isn’t that kind of unfair?”
We observed the battle, and indeed, our Pokémon seemed to have an obvious upper hand, even without Carolus’ help.
“What was that?” Wolfgang asked.
“Carolus thinks the odds aren’t fair!” Anne shouted over the din of the fight before us.
“Then I shall even them myself!”
The crowd gasped again as Wolfgang leapt into the fray, producing a silver dagger and separating his Pokémon from ours in an instant, leaving them standing opposite each other, panting from exertion. Carolus decided this had evened the odds enough to justify his entrance, and he quickly stood alongside the others.
“Stop this at once, Wolfgang!” I cried. “No human can possibly stand up to a Pokémon, especially not these three!”
Wolfgang smirked. “Perhaps you are right. Gliscor, Tyrannus, let us leave this place!”
He leapt up to an impressive height, his two Pokémon flying up and grabbing onto his shoulders to fly him away. By the time we had all gathered beneath him, he was much too high for us to do much of anything, but rather than leaving us immediately, he decided to properly part.
“Farewell, my nemeses!” he cried, smiling in glee. “Please, enjoy this parting gift!”
Tyrannus lowered slightly, allowing Wolfgang to shake free a small black cylinder from his sleeve. Anne immediately recognized what it was, and she yelled for everyone to clear out. As we all did so, Wolfgang pulled the pin from the smoke grenade and dropped it to the ground. A thick smokescreen was immediately produced, but luckily the crowd had managed to escape from it. Unfortunately, as a consequence, it was trivial for Wolfgang to make his escape, flying off and laughing the whole while. By the time it dissipated, he was long gone.
“Damn it!” Ralph yelled. “Who knows what he’s going to do now?”
“Where did he get that smoke grenade?” Anne asked, before remembering what she had in her pack. She started sifting through it, counting out a handful of smoke grenades and coming to a disturbing conclusion.
“He stole one of mine!”
“How did he know you had those?” Ralph asked.
“He must have been following us around and noticed them,” I said. “Now what?”
“We should get on the ship,” Ralph suggested, “so we can get to Unova. He won’t be able to come onto the ship, and he’ll have to go there as well. That way we can be waiting for him.”
“It is very unlikely that he will be able to get ahead of us with just those Pokémon,” I pointed out. “His speed would be abysmal, and he would need to stop frequently to rest and eat.”
“What if he finds another way there?” Anne asked.
“Travel into Unova is still quite restricted,” I explained. “The SS Anne is still the fastest way there, and the only other way in is through the ground checkpoints. No matter what he does, we would be there long before he is.”
“What if he snuck aboard?”
“Unlikely, with what he was wearing, not to mention the splash he made out here.”
“Speaking of which, what the hell happened out here?” a voice came from behind us. We turned around to see none other than the captain of the ship, who looked somewhat annoyed. We quickly recalled our Pokémon and turned to face him, preparing our explanation for the recent events.
“Some idiot attempted to attack us under the impression we were his nemeses, but we quickly put a stop to that,” I said.
“And the smoke grenade?” he asked. Anne looked away for a moment, but Ralph came to her rescue.
“He threw it so he could get away,” he said, not bothering to add who he had taken it from.
“I see, can we get a description on him?”
“Think what Mozart would wear,” I started, the captain nodding in understanding, “if he were a goth nihilist.”
“I…see?” The captain looked confused for a moment, but shook his head and looked us over.
“Hey, aren’t you those guys that went into the Silph building yesterday?” he asked, finally recognizing us.
“Why, yes, we are!” I said.
“Huh.” He scratched his head, quite stumped. “Can’t you go anywhere without saving everybody?”
“It seems not.” I pulled out my wallet. “Can we get some tickets? We really should be getting aboard.”
The captain paused. “Certainly, certainly, give me the fee and I’ll sort it out for you.”
“Excellent!” I pulled out the necessary funds for a room and handed it to him, before I recalled something else.
“How about our car?” I gestured towards the Horizon, sitting there in all its glory.
“Jesus, is that a Vincentio? I’ll get someone to bring that aboard. Will there be anything else?”
Anne, Ralph, and I looked at each other for a moment, and then turned back. “I do not believe we will require anything else.”
“Alright, then, I’ll get this all sorted and then you can come aboard.” The captain walked off, leaving us behind, hoping that between then and the ship’s departure later that afternoon, nothing else would happen…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Out of Time
Later that afternoon, the massive cruise ship was about to take off, with us three standing on the deck and having some light discussion. By this time, we had already gone into our room, which was quite nice; I had to remember to thank Oak for the room later on.
The conversation we were having was quite lovely, and it would have continued to be so had a certain fellow not entered the picture: Jack LeBoure.
We had no idea he was even on the ship, and so we were rapt with attention as Ralph explained one of his many escapades within Special Command, unaware of the annoyance coming towards us.
“So, anyway,” Ralph continued, “we realized that the microfilm had been treated with an explosive liquid, so we wouldn’t be able to read what was on it without blowing us all to hell, so we had to figure out a way to neutralize it, and that’s when Jonathan remembered that Classic Coke might be able to work but could potentially degrade the film itself…”
“Yeah, yeah, fascinating chemistry lesson, buddy,” Jack said, pushing into our group out of absolutely nowhere. “How about getting something interesting into this!”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” I muttered, squeezing my nose.
“Yeah, I guess we’re all heading to Unova, huh?” he said, wrapping his arm around Ralph for some reason. “Four peas in a pod, huh?”
“If one of them had blight, yes,” I said, glaring powerfully at him.
“Larch!” Anne yelled. “Knock it off! We are not doing this on a cruise ship!”
“Hey, you’re a trainer, right?” Jack asked, gesturing at her. “I have seen some crazy ****. Have you ever heard about how I caught a Latias?”
“You caught a Latias?” Anne looked very shocked, which was odd, since Jack liked to make sure everybody knew exactly how he had caught a Latias.
“Indeed I did! Want to hear the story? It’s a hell of a tale!”
“Oh, spare me,” I muttered. Anne, however, did not sympathize, and walked off with him to listen to the same story he told to everybody else. I sputtered for a moment, but realized there was nothing else to do for it.
“That idiot!” I muttered. “Can he do anything without it involving me somehow?”
“Larch, what’s your big problem with that guy?” Ralph asked, genuinely confused.
“He cannot do anything without putting himself upon the most massive pedestal imaginable, and it always involves annoying me for some bizarre reason!”
“I don’t think he’s trying to be annoying, Larch. He might just be trying to make nice and failing miserably at it.”
I considered this for a moment, but before I could offer a response, the ship’s intercom blared to life with the voice of the captain, which announced the ship would be departing in five minutes.
“I think we should go to our room,” Ralph suggested. I agreed it would probably be wise, so we made haste below deck to the proper room, waiting for Anne, who presumably was still listening to Jack’s ramblings, and likely would be for quite some time.
A bit later, the ship was well under way, treading slowly through the mighty waves of the ocean. Anne was currently recounting what Jack had claimed to her, Ralph listening with rapt attention while I fiddled around on my laptop, hoping to distract myself from Anne’s dictation. Regrettably, she was so excited it was impossible to ignore without appearing incredibly rude.
“…And so he’s going to try to catch a Latios over the next year,” she said, while I groaned inwardly, “because, you know how they’re like a pair and he already has a Latias? Well, he wants to have a proper pair of them, and he realized that Latios are much more elusive and difficult to find than a Latias, so it’ll be a really big challenge for him, but looking at some of the things he’s done in the past…”
“Oh, heavenly father, please spare me of this endless torment,” I muttered, looking through what I had produced over the last while: a more specific definition of the translator’s function, which would doubtlessly come in handy in Unova, and especially for Silph’s engineers. Perhaps it was quite useful for Jack to borrow Anne for a while, since in the time she had been recounting his stories, I was so desperate to ignore all of it that I had heard before that I had produced an almost entirely complete explanation of the translator’s every aspect.
Unfortunately, Anne continued on with the story, now talking about Jack’s supposed encounter with a Mew at one point. I always did doubt that particular story greatly, as there were enough holes in it to leave a Swiss dairy farm set for life. Thankfully, the transparently fabricated story was interrupted, though not in a way I would have liked: by the loud report of a cannon far off the distance.
“What in the hell was that?” I asked, closing out my program.
“It sounded like some sort of cannon,” Ralph said. “Like, a really old cannon.”
“Shooting at a civilian ship with an old iron cannon in this political climate?” I wondered aloud. “That would be suicide for whoever is stupid enough to try it!”
“Well, then, who did?” Anne asked. “There aren’t any countries desperate enough to try using something like that.”
Suddenly, the intercom cracked to life once more. “Attention, passengers,” it spoke, “do not be alarmed by the cannon fire and do not panic. The ship that fired it is well out of our range. Thank you.”
“Not even in range?” The situation was becoming more and more bizarre the longer we went on. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Let’s go and find out,” Ralph suggested. We agreed this was wise, and quickly made our way to the observation deck. There, we saw a very odd sight indeed, as did everyone else who was looking there: an old-fashioned galleon, flying a very particular sort of flag.
“That’s a bloody pirate ship,” I said, absolutely confounded by this development.
“What the hell is a pirate ship doing here?” Ralph said.
“And why did it try to fire at us?” Anne said. “It can’t possibly reach us from there.”
We watched the ship for a few moments more, and then noticed something: the sails were turning, and it was slowly adjusting trajectory to come straight at us.
“Oh, God, they’re coming closer. Everybody, get below deck!” I yelled. The crowd rushed to do so, but in their haste prevented us from doing the same. Soon, the door was closed, with us standing out in the open and the pirate ship approaching at a very alarming rate.
“Well, now what?” Anne asked, standing behind me.
“Uh…get back inside before they fire again?” Ralph suggested. I ran over to the door, but before I could, I noticed that the ship had gotten very close to us, as the wind was at a quite convenient angle, and therefore had a perfect line of fire with the ship.
“Get down!” Ralph yelled, running towards me, low to the ground as possible. A very loud report suddenly sounded, and we ducked, expecting a hole blown into the ship at any moment. Luckily, we only heard a splash, and looked back up in confusion.
“What was that?” I asked. “What happened?”
“They must be using a small type of shot,” Ralph explained, “one that couldn’t make it to the ship.”
“Well, now what?” Anne asked. “If they aren’t going to shoot the ship, what next?”
“They might try to board.” Ralph looked at the ship, considering what their options were. “I don’t know what would happen then.”
“I doubt they would be able to take on the ship’s security,” I said. “Not with the weapons they are most likely using.”
We looked further, and noticed a small dinghy had been lowered into the water, with a very bombastically dressed fellow at the helm of it, likely the captain. Once it reached the sea, they began rowing towards us immediately. It soon became apparent we were not the only ones who noticed this, as the ship’s security came pouring out, surrounding the only place where the pirates could make landing, a strangely empty lifeboat rack that was fairly close by to us. The captain of the S.S. Anne soon came to us as well, looking quite concerned.
“Captain!” I said. “What brings you out here?”
“You’re going to help me figure this out,” he said, looking straight at us with thorough impunity.
“What?! How could I help?”
“You saved the Silph Co. building from terrorists and devastated Team Rocket at the same time,” he explained. “I think you can handle some pirates.”
I thought about this for a moment, and realized he had a very good point.
“All right, all right, make way!” I yelled, pushing through the men, the captain at my side. I pushed up my glasses and began the formulation of a plan. “I’m in control of this situation now, so do as I say. First order of business, find out who those men are.”
Several of the security men followed me as I walked over to the lifeboat rack, looking down into the water at the small dinghy. The only people in it were the captain, a large, powerfully built man with a long gray beard, and two crewmates, who had presumably rowed him here.
“What do you want?” I yelled down, hoping for at least a somewhat positive answer.
“We wish to parley with your captain!” he yelled back, in a surprisingly clean voice.
“He is up here. Are you going to try and shoot anybody? I should warn you we are very well-armed up here and you would most likely lose.”
“How do you figure that?” He knocked on the side of the ship, resulting in a loud echoing noise. “And what be this ship made of?”
“Steel,” I explained, “Quite durable, and yet lightweight at the same time.”
“A steel ship!” the captain yelled, quite clearly impressed. “Who’s ever heard of such a thing?”
“Quite a few people up here. Would you like to come up to…’parley’, was it?”
“Aye!” he yelled. “Let down the ropes and bring us up!”
“Are you crazy?!” the captain of our ship yelled, grabbing my shoulder and pulling me back. “You can’t let him up here! He fired on us!”
“That was only to get your attention!” Greybeard yelled up at us.
“Well, there you have it,” I insisted. “The only way to make sense of all this is to raise the dinghy, and we have little reason not to!”
“…Fine. Bring him up!” A number of the men ran to the rack and lowered the ropes down to the dinghy, which were quickly hitched up. Slowly and carefully they raised up the boat, the captain standing in the center quite dramatically, his massive frame rising over the edge of the boat like a great vision of the sea. As he stepped off with his crewmates, the security men raised their weapons, ready to aerate him at a moment’s notice.
He looked around at them, taking particular notice of their guns. “What sort of weapons be these?” he asked.
“MP5s, I think,” I answered. “Now, then, to business. Who are you, exactly?”
“Everybody calls me Greybeard,” he answered, “scourge of the Kanto main!”
“Greybeard?” I realized now who he was, and that something very strange indeed was going on. “That is impossible! You died three hundred years ago!”
His eyes widened in shock, looking around at our ship. “Then…my ship has gone forward in time!”
“Absolute nonsense. How can a 17th century galleon initiate time travel?”
“I don’t know!” he yelled back. “All I care about is getting back, now!”
The security tensed up, but the captain gestured for them to stand down. “We’ll do whatever we can to help. Can you tell me what happened before you came here?”
Greybeard thought for a moment, trying to remember the events that led him here. “The last I remember is that we were sailing the seas…it was about sundown, and then suddenly, I noticed something strange: the green flash, right upon the horizon as the sun set.”
“A rare phenomenon indeed,” I noted. “Perhaps it had something to do with you being here?”
“I would have guessed as much, considering how it grew bigger and bigger, until I realized it wasn’t on the horizon. No, it was surrounding the ship itself with its eerie glow. I tried to rouse my crew, but by the time I did, it was too late, and we were all put asleep by that ghostly glow. When we woke up, we found ourselves here, noticed your ship, and tried to take it over to make sense of all this.” He looked around at all of us. “Obviously, we didn’t manage to do that.”
“It is obvious that the green glow is what sent you forward in time,” I said. “But the question is how, and perhaps even why?”
“And more importantly, how do we send him back?” the captain said, glaring at him.
“Come now, there is no need to be confrontational. We can all be friendly, can we not?”
Greybeard narrowed his eyes. “I don’t know, can we? Especially considering this new friend you’ve brought for us?”
He pointed to his left, and when we looked, I very nearly fainted right then and there, since he was referring to none other than Jack LeBoure, who had come back out at some point.
“What the hell is going on here?” he asked, apparently even more bewildered than I was.
“Jack, believe me, you are hardly the first among us to wonder about that,” I said. “A more useful question is, what the hell are you doing here?”
“I was looking outside my window just over there,” he explained, pointing to a window attached to one of the upper-deck rooms quite close to us, “and noticed you standing there talking to Captain Homeless here. Care to explain?”
“I am not currently at liberty to release this information to civilians,” I said, grinning unpleasantly.
“Oh, and I suppose you just know exactly what’s going on?” Jack asked, staring me down. My smile faltered, as I realized I had little idea of what could have been responsible, and he might possibly know something to fill in that gap.
“All right, then, I shall disclose the situation to you.” I pointed to Greybeard and began my explanation. “This is Captain Greybeard, well-known seventeenth-century pirate, who operated in these very waters.”
Jack stared flatly at me, clearly not accepting my explanation of the events. I rubbed my neck and desperately tried to think of a way to present the facts without sounding entirely mad.
“Consider this!” I said, trying to recover. “According to Greybeard, he was sailing along in his ship right out there,” I pointed to the galleon still within the ocean, which Jack seemed genuinely surprised by, “and at sunset, he saw the green flash!”
“That’s quite a rare phenomenon,” Jack noted, sounding slightly more interested.
“Indeed it is, and this particular one might be considered unique, as it actually surrounded his entire ship and knocked out him and his whole crew. When he next woke up, he found himself here in our time period.”
“Green light…green light…” Jack mumbled, considering the facts of the incident. “Wait! I think I know what happened!”
“Well? Out with it!” Greybeard demanded.
“Have any of you heard of Celebi?” he asked, or perhaps demanded.
Greybeard, the captain, and myself shared a glance, stumped by his question. I then remembered something I had once read and mostly forgotten about.
“Celebi is the guardian of the forest in Johto folklore, correct?” Jack nodded, and then filled in the rest for us.
“According to the legends, Celebi protects the forest from those who do it harm. More importantly, though, she has the unique ability to manipulate space-time and freely travel to any time period and location at will.”
Greybeard rubbed his, well, beard, deep in thought. “If she can travel through time itself, why would she send me forward?”
“And more importantly,” I continued, “how might we get her to send you back?”
“We’ll be making a stop in Johto along the way to Unova,” the captain noted. “You might be able to search for her there.”
“Celebi is little more than a myth, though,” I pointed out. “The number of people that have believably seen her could be counted on a shop teacher’s hand.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only option we’ve got.” The captain turned to Greybeard. “If you follow us to Johto, we can return you once we find Celebi.”
“If you find her, you mean,” Greybeard spat. “As far as I’m concerned, if it’s nothing more than a legend, there’s probably good reason it’s nothing more than a legend.”
“Like your buried treasure?” I said. Greybeard lunged at me, getting quite up in my face, as it were.
“How do you know about that?” he demanded, staring straight down at me.
“Simple: it is quite a popular legend. I myself always fancied it as being somewhat a reality, but never gave it much thought. Evidently, it is quite the truth.”
Greybeard thought about this for a moment, before conceding the point to me. “Aye, it be the truth. And if it be legend now, then perhaps there’s more to this Celebi thing.”
“Quite. You shall follow after us until we reach Johto, and then we shall search for Celebi to return you to your proper time period. Jack, would you care to assist?” I turned to him, somewhat fearing the answer, whether negative or positive.
“Eh, might as well,” he answered. “Good practice for Latios, at least.”
“Very well!” I yelled, walking back over to Ralph and Anne. “I shall prepare myself, and you shall do the same!”
“What the hell was that?” Ralph demanded of me once I reached him. “What’s even going on here?”
“To put it quite simply, we are going to help a seventeenth-century pirate captain return to his proper time period by locating a Legendary Pokémon and recruiting her assistance.”
“What the hell?” Anne asked, bewildered.
“Come now, Anne, is that any more ridiculous than any of our other exploits? It was only yesterday, after all, that we performed our own reenactment of Die Hard with the largest company in Kanto. In fact, we did better; everybody in the building survived except for Giovanni!”
Anne shrugged, evidently deciding that I had a point. “So…what’s the plan?”
“We shall return to our room and I will outline it there. Also, do not be alarmed regarding the pirate ship that will follow after us.”
“What the hell?!” Anne yelled, but by that time, I was already making my way back to my room, suddenly feeling very confident about the whole business.
It was quite a bit later, sundown in fact, when things had calmed down and the ship had gotten moving once more. Greybeard’s ship, which I had learned was called Magnolius, was trailing behind us, masts flapping in the wind in the style of old. I myself stood upon the highest deck, watching as we headed into the sunset, occasionally glancing back at the majestic sight of the ship behind us.
“What are you doing up here?” Anne asked, coming up the stairs. I had been up here for some time after delivering a full explanation of the goings-on, and presumably she was getting worried.
“Just…thinking,” I answered.
“About all that I have accomplished recently with you two. Every single day, something incredible has occurred. In fact, I daresay that more has happened in the last week than ever before in my life. And yet, I have come out of not only in one piece, but almost better off than I was before.”
“You really have done a lot,” Anne said, coming up next to me to observe the sunset. “You should be proud.”
“Indeed, I am. And it has me thinking; this sunset. We are headed off to Johto in search of one of the most elusive Legendary Pokémon known to man so that we may return a legendary pirate to his correct place in time, and the day is not yet over. Who knows what will happen when the sun rises anew tomorrow?”
“It could be anything, now that we’ve got them after us.” Anne sat down, taking a short rest. “And whatever the hell it is, I’m sure it’s going to be interesting.”
“What else could it possibly be?” I asked. “If we have any more interesting things happening, we will get into the history books. Assuming I manage to actually deliver my discourse on the translator, I easily would on that merit, let alone all my other accomplishments.”
“Maybe we’re meant to go down in history,” Anne suggested. “You know, great heroes of myth and all that.”
“Perhaps.” I smiled, and then chuckled a bit. “That would be quite interesting, would it not?”
Anne nodded, and we both watched the sun set together, and for once, I actually looked forward to what the new day would hold, knowing that it would certainly be an adventure.
END OF PART ONE
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
We had been sailing for several days by the time we made port in Sinnoh; so much so, in fact, I had only one week before my presentation in Unova would occur, but luckily, we would reach Unova well within the allotted timeframe, which was very good for us indeed. However, before we could get to that, we had to stop in Johto and figure out how to put Captain Greybeard back in his proper time period.
The port we made was in Olivine City, guided by the colossal lighthouse that made the town famous. Although the two ships we were on were travelling roughly alongside each other, Captain Greybeard found himself forced to weigh anchor outside of the main port so that the captain of the SS Anne could explain the situation to the proper authorities, so as not to cause undue panic.
While the captain explained the situation, Ralph, Anne, and myself were standing upon the pier, within a fair-sized group of very panicked people around us. Most of them were staring at the colossal pirate ship just near them, wondering how the situation would develop further. We, however, had little more interest in its possibilities, so we were merely waiting for Jack to come to us and discussing a plan of searching for Celebi. However, given the fact that a legendary pirate ship was sitting within easy viewing distance, the conversation inevitably turned to it.
“I really don’t think this is going to end well,” Anne said, considering our current predicament. “I mean, pirates in a port town? When in history has that ever gone well for anybody?”
“I do not think we have much to worry about in this circumstance,” I proposed. “They have junky old pistols, cutlasses, and rum. The people the captain is getting onto this have guns and protective armor. Frankly, even if they do try something, they are likely to get shot immediately.”
“They could still easily hurt people, though,” Ralph pointed out. “We have to keep them under control somehow.”
“Hm…how would one keep pirates under control?” I wondered aloud.
“Bribe them?” Anne offered.
“We could never possibly afford enough gold to bribe a crew of that size,” I countered.
“How about beer?” Ralph asked. We considered this for a moment, and realized he had an excellent point; if we gave the crew a fair amount of strong alcohol, we could placate them and perhaps even get them incredibly drunk, which would prevent them from doing anything unpleasant.
“Excellent idea!” I cried. “Are there any breweries nearby?”
“I think there are a few,” Jack said, having suddenly arrived. “What’s this about breweries, anyway?”
“We are going to give Greybeard’s crew a load of alcohol to stop them from doing something unpleasant to the town,” I answered.
Jack paused for a moment, considering the proposal. “I guess that makes sense. I mean, it’s more logical than any of the **** that’s been going on already.”
“Only just, though,” I pointed out. “Ah, here comes Greybeard now!”
We looked over, and saw that Greybeard was sailing over on his dinghy, making impressively good time, all things considered.
“Ahoy!” he cried once he reached the dock, waving to us. “What’s the order of business?”
“Uh…” I looked behind me to look at my group, and they urged me to tell him the current state of affairs. “We…had some concerns regarding your crew.”
“Those being?” he asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Uh…well, typically pirates and port towns are not the best of combinations, burning and pillaging, you know, all that, and we thought it would be pertinent to keep your crew under control somehow…”
“Get to the point!” Greybeard demanded.
“We would like you to stay on your ship for the time being while we acquire some amount of alcohol to placate your crew until we locate Celebi.”
Greybeard thought about this for a moment, stroking his long beard, and then nodded in approval. “That sounds like a fair idea. I’ll go stop them from doing anything stupid.” He got back into his dinghy, and as he sailed back to his galleon, he turned back to us, and yelled, “And I’ll expect some damn good beer!”
“What the hell was that?” the captain of the SS Anne asked, walking up next to us after finishing his explanation.
“Captain Greybeard is going to keep his crew under control until we can acquire enough alcohol to placate his crew and prevent them from doing something unpleasant in the town,” I said.
“Somehow, hearing it said out loud made it seem even stupider,” Jack commented, grimacing.
“I have to agree,” the captain said. “That sounds like an absolutely ridiculous plan.”
“A ridiculous plan for a ridiculous circumstance,” I answered. “Consider that we are, in fact, dealing with time travelling pirates here.”
The captain shrugged. “I suppose there’s at least some logic there.”
“About time we had some logic,” Ralph said. “So, where’s the brewery?”
“There’s a good one on the end of Mulch Street,” the captain suggested. “I’ve been there before while sailing, and they have pretty quality stuff.”
“Excellent!” I cried. “We shall go there posthaste and acquire something very strong.”
“How strong are we talking here?” Anne asked. “Like, equivalent to napalm, or what?”
“Perhaps not that much,” I answered. “But it should be fairly strong. Remember, we are trying to placate a crew of about forty, so we will need a fairly high alcoholic content.”
“Well, what are we standing around here yammering for?” Jack asked. “Let’s go!”
A few minutes later, after setting off in search of the famed brewery, we found it, and it was certainly quite impressive; a large brick building, a sign on the front proclaiming it as the “Olivine Brewery and Distillery.” Several shining silver pipes lead in and out of the building, to carry the necessary chemicals and catalysts to produce that golden ambrosia. Most of the inner workings were contained in the back of the building; however, we had little interest in taking a tour. No, we wanted the front entrance, which contained a fairly nice bar where purchases could be made, including the kegs that we were currently searching for.
“This is quite the brewery,” Jack commented as we made our entrance. Sitting at the main counter was a bored twenty-something man, absentmindedly reading a newspaper.
“You’re gonna have to show ID if you wanna buy something,” he said, turning the page over.
“Will this be sufficient?” I asked, pulling out my wallet and showing him my driver’s license.
“Yeah, sure. Whaddya want?”
I thought for a moment, looking at the spirits offered there. However, I had absolutely no context for any of them, and had to inquire further to get what I wanted.
“What, pray tell, would your strongest offering be?” I asked.
“Entei’s Revenge. That stuff’ll put out a raging Tyranitar with a couple shots.”
I glanced back to my group, who seemed pleased with the description offered.
“Very well!” I said, pulling out some money. “How much would it be for a keg of that?”
“What, Entei’s Revenge?” the man asked, amused. “You can’t get a keg of it. It’s illegal to store it that way.”
“Illegal?!” I yelled, baffled by this development. “Why would it be illegal to store kegs of it? What is in it?”
“It’s 180-proof,” he answered.”
“180!” I cried. “This stuff is ninety percent alcohol by content?”
“Yeah, that’s why it’s illegal to have kegs of it. If there’s a fire, they’d blow up like a bomb.”
“And little wonder they would! How can anybody stand to drink such a thing?”
“They’re stupid and went into a bet?”
“Or perhaps lost one…” I muttered. “Alright, look, we need something very strong, say, strong enough to put out a crew of forty hardened pirates?”
The man looked at me strangely. “That’s an oddly specific way of putting it.”
“We have an oddly specific circumstance,” I said.
He stood up, glaring at me. “What the hell kind of circumstance are you talking about?” A flash of realization crossed his face as he remembered what was going on today. “Wait a minute, you’re that Berkeley Larch guy, from Kanto! The one that came in with the pirate ship, right?”
“Uh, yes,” I answered, wondering how the media had gotten the story that quickly, considering we had been out at sea for the last several days. I set that aside and continued on with the conversation. “We realized it may be a poor idea to have a ship of pirates on the outside of a port town, so we thought it wise to acquire some alcohol to placate them for the time being until we can return them to their proper place in history.”
“Uh…” the man gawked at me for a moment, before shaking his head and thinking honestly about what could be done.
“Let me think…yeah, the only thing that we have enough of is the Offshore stout.”
“What would be the proof of that?” I asked.
“Uh…about ten percent.”
“Ten?” I began to mutter in thought, considering the options. “Very well, it appears we have no other choice. I shall take two kegs of that.”
“Two kegs?” the man asked. “Are you sure that’s gonna be enough?”
“That’s a good point,” Anne said. “I really don’t think that’s gonna do it.”
“Trust me, I know what I’m doing,” I explained. “I am a scientist, after all.”
“That doesn’t really follow…” Anne began, but she was stopped when the man came back out, lugging two fair-sized containers of the Offshore.
“All right, that’ll be three hundred dollars,” he said, slightly out of breath.
“Three hundred dollars?!” I cried. “To hell with that, just give me the one.”
“Oh, Jesus,” he muttered, slowly putting one of them back. He took some time in returning, but soon was, looking somewhat annoyed with me.
“All right, that’s a hundred and fifty dollars for the one keg,” he spat. “Are there any more issues with that, your majesty?”
“Not at all,” I said, pulling out the necessary (though still somewhat excessive) funds. Soon, we were back outside, lugging the shining cylinder behind us.
“Great job, Larch,” Jack commented. “You got some lame-ass beer. This won’t be enough to put them out for ****!”
“Must you really, Jack?” I questioned. “We are going to have to work together on this, you realize.”
“Yeah, as if you’re one to talk,” Jack responded.
“Oh, spare me, Captain Hubris.”
“You gonna start this, Professor Jackass?”
“Will both of you idiots PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP!” Anne cried at her most impressive volume, immediately silencing us both and brining the group to a halt.
“Uh…” Jack stammered. “M-my apologies, Larch.”
“Likewise, Jack,” I said, eyes wide with spontaneous terror. I shook my head, and began to explain my plan. “Look, it is obvious this amount of beer will not be sufficient for our purposes. Therefore, we shall have to increase the potency by some manner.”
Jack nodded, getting the idea of my plan. “All right, that makes sense. How do we do that, exactly?”
“Simple. I fake a wound, enter into a pharmacy, purchase some rubbing alcohol with the disguise of the aforementioned wound, exit, and then introduce it into the keg.”
Anne made gagging noise, Ralph stared at me in fierce confusion, and Jack merely slapped his face.
“Is there a problem, Jack?” I asked.
“First, that’s the dumbest-ass plan I’ve ever heard, and two, you can’t just pour rubbing alcohol into a keg of porter! That’s disgusting!”
“They are pirates!” I insisted. “They drink rum daily! What would they care of the quality of it”?
“It’s rubbing alcohol!” Jack responded. “I’m not going to just sit by and let you skunk up a perfectly fine keg of beer!” he yelled, yanking the keg from my hands.
“Well, then, I suppose you have a better idea?” I asked.
“Why, yes, I do!”
“Very well then!” I turned to Ralph. “We shall do this scientifically. Ralph, you help me acquire the rubbing alcohol. Anne, you go with Jack to do…whatever his plan is.”
Anne glanced at us a few times, before she and Jack ran off.
“Uh…so, how do you want to do this?” Ralph asked, rubbing the back of his head.
“Firstly, we must acquire some gauze.” As I said this, Ralph produced an amount of gauze from his pack that would be more than sufficient.
“Uh…excellent,” I said. “Now we will require some food coloring…”
Once more, Ralph produced an amount of red dye. I stared at him for a moment, somewhat perturbed by this.
“Why do you have…never mind. Here, wrap it around my arm,” I said, pulling up my sleeve.
“Somehow, I doubt this is going to work,” Ralph said, putting some of the dye on the gauze and wrapping it around me. After a few moments, I had a reasonably convincing wound, and had every confidence it would allow me to collect the rubbing alcohol my plan required.
“Excellent!” I cried, pulling my sleeve back over it to keep it covered until it would be needed. “Now, we must find ourselves a pharmacy!”
“I think there’s one over there,” Ralph said, pointing down the street. I looked and saw that, indeed, a small pharmacy was located there.
“Good eye, Ralph! Hold this while I go get the alcohol,” I pushed the keg into him, knocking out his breath quite well. I might have sworn I heard him muttering something as I walked off, but I set that thought aside.
Although the pharmacy was not nearly as impressive as the brewery we had recently left behind, it was still a fair establishment, containing a variety of medications, bandages, and many other materials that would be invaluable to most people. I, however, was not searching for any of those. Just before I made my entrance, I pulled my sleeve back up, revealing the “bloodied” gauze, although it was now looking a tad smudged. I set that thought aside as I walked up to the front desk, attempting to look as convincingly pained as possible.
“Hello?” I asked, straining as much as I could. “I am in dire need of some rubbing alcohol for this grievous wound.”
The cashier, who was distracted with something below the counter, looked up at me, recoiling in shock. “Oh my God!” he cried. “What the hell happened to you?”
I paused for a moment, realizing I had no good alibi for the false injury. “I was…uh…attacked! In my very own home, no less, by a man who had stolen my serrated steak knife!”
“Damn!” he yelled, enraptured.
“Indeed! I managed to fight him off with a potted cactus, but regrettably, he got a fair strike on me before I did so, and it must be stopped before it becomes infected.”
“Jesus, dude, we need to get you to a hospital!” he ran off for the telephone, and while he was not looking, I went into a bout of panic, as this was a severe departure from my original plan. Indeed, going to the hospital would not only waste time, it would reveal my ruse, which would have been a poor thing for all involved.
“Er, I think the more immediate issue is an infection setting in, and, of course, one must take into account the fact that, you know, superbugs and all that…”
“You got gouged with a serrated knife!” he yelled back. “Where’d the phone go, anyway?”
I looked around, and saw that he had been looking in the wrong place; the phone was actually on the front counter, only a few feet to the left of his original spot. While he was fumbling around in the back, I carefully slipped behind and unplugged it, which would hopefully be a useful distraction. Indeed, by the time I had gotten back to my place, he had returned, and noticed the phone as he did so.
“There it is!” he cried, running to it joyously. “Now how the hell did it end up here?” He picked it up, but soon noticed that it was not actually doing anything. “And, more importantly, why is it unplugged?” He looked to me, a suspicious look on his face.
“Uh…” I stammered, “it must have been, uh, terrorists. You know, the…anti-phone…terrorists.” I smiled, hoping my unconvincing cover would serve at least some purpose.
“Anti-phone terrorists, huh?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “This sounds serious. I had better call the police.”
I tensed up immediately upon hearing this suggestion. Calling the police would likely be even worse for me than the hospital.
“Uh…wait, I think I am starting to feel better...” I carefully pulled off my bandage, feigning surprise when I saw there was no wound. “My God! I’ve been healed! It’s a miracle!”
I quickly made my exit, hoping the fellow would simply let the matter drop. By the time I made it back to Ralph, who still had the keg, I was home free, but unfortunately lacking in rubbing alcohol.
“Well?” Ralph asked, noticing my missing bandage. “What happened?”
“I unfortunately failed in this mission. Perhaps simply buying the rubbing alcohol outright without all this charade would have worked better, looking back…”
“Gee, you think?” Ralph muttered. Jack and Anne then returned, the former holding a very small bottle of something very special indeed.
“Jack!” I cried, running to him. “What have you acquired?”
“Entei’s Revenge,” he said, holding them up. Indeed, a fiery image of Entei was upon the label, though it was somewhat hard to tell, given the size of the bottle. “Pour some of this into the porter, and those pirates are going straight down.”
Although somewhat annoyed I did not come up with the rather obvious solution before me, I set that aside and took the bottle, somewhat concerned due to its potency.
“How strong is this, practically?” I asked, straining my eyes at the ingredients on the back.
“Smell it and find out,” Jack suggested.
I rather tenuously did so, popping one of them open and taking a very light whiff. Immediately, I recoiled, nearly spilling the liquid upon the ground, as my head went very fuzzy and very light indeed. I soon recovered from this, feeling quite unpleasant from it.
“Christ!” I muttered, pulling open the keg. “I nearly got drunk just from smelling that.” I looked down into the keg’s prize, then to the potent terror I was holding. “Well, here goes something.” I quickly poured the clear liquid into the keg, shutting it closed again as soon as I could.
“The deed is done,” I said, thinking about the implications of my action.
“You do all realize bootlegging is against the law, correct?” Anne asked.
“Extenuating circumstances, Anne,” I pointed out, grabbing the keg. “If we do get found out, we have a fairly sound defense.”
Anne brushed it off, and we all made our way back to the docks, carrying our concoction with us the whole way.
Soon enough, we had delivered our cargo to the waiting Greybeard, who quickly brought it over to his crew. Evidently, our strange little concoction was a hit, as he returned barely twenty minutes later, looking somewhat out of it himself.
“I don’t know what that stuff you gave us was,” he drawled, stepping onto the dock, “but whatever it was, it was pretty damn good. They won’t be going anywhere for a while now.”
“Indeed…” I said, carefully looking around. “So, the ship is stuck there, correct?”
“Aye. Here’s a tip: never try to weigh anchor with a crew that’s so drunk they can barely tell where their own hands are.”
“I shall treasure that moral forever,” I lied. “Now, then, I believe it would be wise to go the library and begin some research.”
Greybeard groaned, but followed us anyway, as I looked back at the pirate ship sitting in the bay, hoping in vain that the library would not hold some bizarre adventure…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
With Greybeard’s crew placated for the moment, we all decided it would be wisest to next visit the library so that we might find out where, exactly, Celebi was located, and how we might get her to help us.
Once we were able to find it, we were quite impressed, as the library itself was a fair-sized institution, whose architecture and color called to mind the Ancient Romans, what with the large arched windows, the cupola that served as a roof, and the Ionic pillars that contained the front doors, two massive slabs of expertly-carved mahogany. In fact, I doubt I shall ever see another educational institute quite so sharp as that one, unless I were to do some very intense searching. Anyway, with its astute appearance, we quickly assumed it would have the information we require, and we entered into its near-silent domain, observing its equally nice interior. It was a two-story building, with the cupola and its mighty chandelier dividing the top level into two sections, while the bottom floor remained as one. Impressively tall, well-organized bookshelves lined the walls and floors of both levels, containing all their great wisdoms.
“Uh…” Anne said, looking around at the impressive construction. “Where do we start?”
“It might be wise to start in sections having to do with myths and legends,” I noted. “Where else would information regarding a Legendary Pokémon be?”
‘That doesn’t sound right,” Jack opposed. “Myths and legend are going to be, like, fairy tales and stuff. We’ll want, like, historical records.”
“Valid historical accounts of such are few, though,” I countered. “It would be wisest to search for a larger volume containing all information possible rather than scattered accounts from people desperate for attention.”
“Makes sense to me,” Ralph said. “I think we should look in that sort of section. Here, let’s find out where it is.” He vaulted for the front desk, and we followed suit, finding an elderly woman drinking from a small cup of tea.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Yes?” She turned to us, setting down her tea.
“We were wondering where we might find the section for myths and legends?”
“Oh, of course!” she said cheerfully, looking up at the floor above us. “It’s right up there, the second bookshelf from the wall.” I thanked her and we started to walk away, and she waved at us as we did so. “You kids enjoy your Halloween, now!”
“Halloween?” Jack asked.
“Probably him,” I said, looking over my shoulder at Greybeard. “Very conspicuous, all things considered.”
“I have to be, else I wouldn’t have fear on me side!” he proclaimed as we ascended the stairs. The old lady shushed him, and he scowled. “I never liked libraries much,” he said, now in a whisper, “far too quiet and boring.”
“Well, you may as well get used to them now, because it will likely be the thing that will save your life.”
“Hm.” Greybeard grunted. “I’ll believe it when I see it. If this idea of yours does manage to lead us somewhere, I’ll be damn impressed by it.”
“Well, here we are,” I said, gesturing towards the correct bookshelf, which proclaimed its contents as “Legends and Myths”.
“Where should we start looking?” Jack asked.
“In the C-section, no doubt.” Upon some odd looks, I clarified. “I mean in C for Celebi. Honestly, people.”
“What?” Ralph asked. “It’s arranged by author, isn’t it?”
I looked, and saw that he was indeed correct; the “C” part of the shelf would only render us Carreras and such, which was not likely to be related to our search.
“Ah…yes,” I mumbled. “My apologies, I was a bit excited.”
We awkwardly walked into the shelves, and we started looking, trying to find as many books on the subject as possible Unfortunately, many of them were not quite what we were looking for. As I rifled through something that was probably written closer to Greybeard’s birth than my own, and had the dust to show for it, Jack tapped my shoulder and showed me what was very obviously a children’s book about Celebi, rather than anything especially useful.
“Somehow, I get the feeling this isn’t quite what we’re looking for,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Well, why did you bother to pick it up, then?” I asked. “What was it even doing up here? Surely it ought to be downstairs. They had a children’s section down there, didn’t they?”
“Considering that old lady, I think we ought to count ourselves lucky this was even up here,” he said. “This is starting to look kind of hopeless, Larch.”
“Are you giving up?” I asked, putting my book back.
“What!” he cried. “No, I’m not giving up! I’m just saying that this is looking more and more like a complete waste of my time!” He threw his arms outward, loudly hitting the shelf next to us. He recoiled in pain, while I recoiled in horror, expecting the entire thing to domino over. It failed to do so, luckily, only producing the loud “thumps” of a few books hitting the floor.
“It did not fall over?” I questioned, straightening back up.
“Of course not,” Jack croaked, “these are all bolted to the floor. Breaking my hand against it won’t do much.”
“Hey, what’s this?” Ralph asked from the other side. Jack and I quickly made our way to him, and saw he was holding an old, brown-colored volume that looked quite important indeed, especially since its title was “Upon The Nature of the Forest Guardians”.
“Where was this?” I asked, taking it from him.
“It fell down right next to me, but I didn’t see it on the shelf,” he said. “It must have been on top and fell when you hit it. By the way, what the hell did you do that for?”
“Uh…heat of the moment?” Jack tried to answer.
“Moving on, I believe this might play a part in our investigation,” I said.
“This looks important, too,” Anne said, walking up next to us with a book, this time a more middle-aged one called “Myths of Olivine”.
“Aye, as does this,” Greybeard said, producing a final piece, a quite modern book titled “Truth in Fiction: Legends of Johto”.
“Most excellent!” I said. “With this knowledge in our possession, it should be utterly trivial to find out where Celebi can be found.”
“Let’s head downstairs,” Jack suggested. “There was a table there where we can get everything organized.”
“I have no doubt the librarian would offer us some paper and pencils for this purpose,” I said. “It would be quite smart indeed to start collecting the information immediately. We may only have a limited time, after all.”
We soon agreed this course of action was wise, and headed downstairs to begin sifting through what little information we had managed to find.
Roughly an hour later, we had condensed the books we found into a consistent notion of what Celebi was and how she might be found. To summarize our notes, as their acquisition was a long and uncomfortable process indeed, there was a particular shrine somewhere in the middle of a nearby forest that had several sightings of Celebi in the past, though few were confirmed, and it contained a mysterious inscription that had yet to be translated. We figured said shrine would be as wise a place to start as any, so by the time we completed that connection, we were about ready to leave.
“Well, I think this is more than sufficient to go start looking,” I said, collecting some of our notes into a folder.
“This is getting pretty weird,” Jack said. “I mean, ancient shrines in the middle of forests? What’s next, are we gonna find the Ark of the Covenant?”
“Those were not even remotely the same film,” I said. “How did you even draw those two ideas together, honestly…”
“Oh, hello!” a very exaggerated attempt at a posh voice interrupted. We turned, and saw that it came from none other than Lord Wolfgang von Genocide, a.k.a. Larry. “How fortuitous I should find you all here.”
“Uh, Larch?” Jack asked. “Why is Emo Mozart here looking for us?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” I muttered. “What are you doing here, uh, ‘Wolfgang’, was it?”
“Lord Wolfgang von Genocide, yes.”
“What the hell?” Jack deadpanned. “Seriously, did I miss something? Was something in that fish we had on the ship? I knew something was off with that stuff.”
“I affirm you, I am no hallucination brought upon you by tainted seafood. I am, in fact, your doom!”
He produced a black cylindrical shape, and although Ralph, Anne and I recognized what it was and ducked down, Jack and Greybeard had no recollection of such a thing, and were thus helpless when he released the smoke grenade, filling much of the room with a thick grey cloud.
“What the hell is this ****?!” Jack cried, flailing helplessly, unable to see anything. Luckily, my glasses prevented me from being entirely blinded by the smoke, but it was still very difficult to see what was going on.
“Where does he keep getting these goddamn smoke grenades?” Anne questioned, trying to find her way around them. “I’m sick of them!”
“You are hardly alone in that aspect, Anne!” I cried. “Show yourself, Wolfgang!”
“As you wish,” he said from behind me. I turned around, terrified, and he expertly punched me in the throat, sending me crumpling to the floor, along with my folder of notes. Although the combination of smoke and pain had nearly blinded me, I could still tell when he leaned down and picked up the folder, chuckling unpleasantly.
“Oh, damn it all,” I croaked as he walked away. Soon after his exit, the smoke dissipated, and we slowly recovered. We gathered up again, most of our number trying to get the remaining residue out of their eyes, while I uncomfortably rubbed my throat, and Ralph ran off after the very strange villain.
“All right, Larch, I want to know exactly what the screaming **** just happened,” Jack demanded.
“Are you boys having fun over there?” the elderly woman called over to us, evidently quite out of the loop.
“I wouldn’t have any idea if we were or not with these jokers,” Jack called back. He turned to us once more, quite annoyed. “Seriously, anybody want to get me up to speed on that?”
“What manner of weapon is this?” Greybeard asked, holding up the empty grenade.
“To answer your question, Greybeard, that is a smoke grenade, quite an ingenious invention, and as for yours, Jack, that is somebody who has inexplicably decided to play eighteenth century composer and has declared me his rival.”
“Which translates to stealing our notes with a smoke grenade?” Jack asked, unconvinced.
“Apparently so. Wait, damn, our notes!”
“What about them?”
“If he is able to successfully locate Celebi, it could spell doom for us all!”
“Oh, yeah, I’m definitely afraid of Mr. Halloween Costume over there,” Jack said, rolling his eyes. “Come on.”
“What you fail to realize, Jack,” I explained, “is that he is most likely entirely deranged and if he managed to get his hands on one of the most powerful Legendary Pokémon in all of existence, it could very easily spell doom for us all.”
Jack considered this for a moment, realization dawning upon his face. “Holy ****, that would be a disaster! It’s like giving a mental patient a machine gun!”
“Except probably much, much worse,” Anne noted. “We need to look for him as soon as possible, or else.”
“Ralph has already made very good work on getting him,” I said. “Likely, if we find him, we find Wolfgang. I have no doubt he cannot resist taunting us some, which will likely prove advantageous to us if we use it right.”
“Well, what be we waiting for?” Greybeard asked. “Let’s get that lubber and string him up!”
“Uh, that may be a tad on the excessive side, Greybeard…” I suggested uncomfortably.
“Hmph,” he grunted. “Fine, we’ll just go get him. Happy?”
“Very well.” The four remaining of us made haste for the exit, the librarian calling “Have a good time, now, you kids!” after us. Soon enough, we found ourselves outside, in a lovely circular pavilion surrounded with small apricot trees.
“All right, where are you?!” Jack yelled, and the four of us began looking around for any sign of the two rather odd men we were looking for. After a few minutes of looking around, we saw nothing readily obvious that would imply Wolfgang had been there. In fact, if we did not know better, we might well have said that they had disappeared entirely.
“Damn it, how far did they go?” Jack asked. “We weren’t that far behind them, were we?”
“They must have been going quite quickly,” I reasoned.
“Well, yeah, of course they were, they were chasing after each other,” Anne said.
“Wait, are you telling me that the lanky guy in all black outran a Special Command operative in this weather?” He gestured to the clear sky, which rendered the day quite warm.
“He must have had something else. A moped, perhaps?” I wondered.
“Not as if he could lose any more dignity,” Jack drawled.
“Well, in any case, I think we can all agree with that,” I said. We heard a rather villainous laugh, and turned to find its source, seeing a very odd sight indeed: Ralph trying to jump up to Wolfgang, who was again being supported by Gliscor and Tyrranus.
“Try as you might, you will never be able to get upon my level!” he cried, laughing again. “Dance, dance!”
“Okay, seriously, what the screaming hell?” Jack asked. “There was definitely something in that fish…”
“Ah, Jack!” Wolfgang greeted, his Pokémon turning so he could face all of us. “And all the rest of you as well! Oh, what fun indeed! Say, do you want this back?” he asked, pulling out the folder containing our research.
“Give it back, ye lubber!” Greybeard cried, pulling out a flintlock pistol.
“Jesus Christ, have you gone insane?!” I cried, instinctively ducking down.
“What do ye mean, ‘gone’?” he asked, firing a shot at Wolfgang. It missed entirely, but the noise was enough to frighten Tyrranus and Gliscor both, who started flapping about frantically, attempting to get away from the source of the noise. Wolfgang quickly became annoyed as they did so, nearly releasing the folder.
“Stop this at once, you fools!” he cried in anger, flailing his limbs about in attempt to strike them and get them back under control.
“That was much more effective than it ought to have been,” I noted. “Can you fire another shot?”
“Aye, that I can!” Greybeard produced a second flintlock, dropping the first one to the ground, and quickly took aim, letting off a shot that actually managed to hit something, in this case Tyrranus’ hat-like crest. In a greater panic than ever before, he released Wolfgang and started flying around all over the place, while Wolfgang himself, without the support of his other Pokémon, began falling, only just getting caught at the leg by Gliscor. The folder, as well, fell to the ground, releasing its invaluable contents everywhere.
“What the hell is going on here?!” a cop, a powerfully-built black fellow, demanded, entering the scene.
“Your guess is as good as mine!” Jack responded.
“Tyrannus, you imbecile, get back here!” Wolfgang yelled, flailing about as Gliscor barely held onto him.
“I don’t get paid enough to deal with this ****,” the cop muttered, pulling out his radio. “Station, this is Monroe, I have…something going on outside of the library.”
Some unintelligible response came out, and he looked around at all of us, very confused. “Yeah, I don’t think you’re gonna have this anywhere in the book.”
“I am Wolfgang von Genocide, damn you! This is completely undignified!”
“Oh, yeah, now it’s undignified,” Jack said.
“Silence! I will have my revenge upon all of you, as soon as I reach the—“ Gliscor, already straining to hold his master, finally let go, sending him plummeting towards the “GROUND!”
He fell to the earth below us with a great “thud”, putting him quite out of it in an instant. Monroe carefully pulled out his handgun and approached Wolfgang’s crumpled form, quite hesitant.
“All right, can you hear me?” he asked. Wolfgang grunted out something that may have been “yes”, which was good enough for Monroe. He began pronouncing an arrest, leaning in slightly to ensure his quarry did not move away. This, however, proved to be a mistake, as Wolfgang revealed he had recovered quite handily and leapt up, kicking the handgun out of his hands before he was able to react.
“Holy ****!” Monroe cried as his weapon flew off. Wolfgang smiled, standing up quite tall considering his recent plummet, and expertly delivered a roundhouse kick to Monroe’s temple, sending him to the ground in a crumpled heap. Using the sheer audacious shock of the moment to his advantage, Wolfgang ran off with Gliscor and the far less panicked Tyrranus as we all gawked rather uselessly at him.
“Wait, what the hell?” Jack asked. “After him!”
We shook away our shock at the recent turn of events and began our chase anew; at least, everyone else did, as I had made the decision to stay behind and ensure Monroe was okay.
“Officer?” I asked, carefully inching towards him. His eyes bolted open, and he shot up, soon clutching his head in pain.
“Aw, damn, what the hell happened?” he asked, voice strained.
“That person you were trying to arrest just roundhouse kicked you right in the head.”
Monroe turned to me, shocked. “What? Where the hell did that dork learn to do that?”
I shrugged. “There are many ways to do so. He might have even been self-taught.”
“He taught himself to be a goddamn black belt or something?”
“Well, he had plenty of time to himself, and he was hardly the type to attract attention. Quite a lot of potential to become very, very dangerous, there.”
“What was in that folder he had?” Monroe asked.
“Information on the location of Celebi, which would obviously be a poor thing for him to get his hands on. Of course, as you can see,” I gestured to the scattered sheets around us, “he is not likely to find much use for it now.”
“Good thing. I wouldn’t trust that guy with a spork, much less a Legendary Pokémon.”
“Likely a wise decision,” I said. “Shall we give chase to him?”
Monroe looked to his left, and his eyes widened in shock. “I don’t think we’ll have to!”
I looked in the same direction, and saw that, indeed, Wolfgang was running back to us, Pokémon flying above and that Uzi in his hand. He was being followed not only by my current group, but also numerous policemen, and all of them seemed quite annoyed. Monroe dived for his handgun, while I stood frozen in shock. Soon, we were all gathered around, Wolfgang surrounded on all sides, with no viable opportunities to escape.
“Give it up, you!” Monroe shouted, inching closer. “You’re surrounded on all sides! Put your hands up and come peacefully!”
“Put my hands up?” Wolfgang asked, putting on a very sarcastic sort of “innocent” voice. “Now, why ever would I have need to do that?”
“Put your hands up and come peacefully!” he repeated, inching closer. “You have ten seconds to comply!”
“Ten seconds? Oh, well, that is not very much time at all. I suppose I had better just come over.”
Wolfgang did indeed raise his hands, but I noticed a slight glint on a wire leading from his hand to something stuck within his shirt.
“Wait, no!” I cried, but it was too late. Wolfgang yanked up hard, releasing the pin on yet another one of those damned smoke grenades. The whole area was filled with smoke, and a few of the police let off some shots, but it was no use. A bright flash was produced from within the cloud of smoke, and when it cleared, there was no trace Wolfgang had ever been there.
“Damn it!” Monroe cried. “He teleported away!” All of the policemen quickly regrouped, Monroe delivering instructions for them to put out APBs and such. Soon, they were searching the area, and Monroe walked back to us.
“All right, I’m gonna need somebody to come back to the station to help us answer some questions.”
“I’ll go,” Ralph offered, “I’ve been in situations like this before. You guys go get Celebi, I’ll meet up later.”
“Thank you,” Monroe said, wiping his brow. “Care to tell me what the pirate’s about?”
“Ah, yes, that…” I began. “Have you perhaps heard any news about one Professor Berkeley Larch?”
Monroe’s eyes widened in recognition. “That’s you? ****, I thought most of that stuff was just rumor, but I guess not.”
“I cannot possibly blame you for holding doubt,” I said. “I myself still have some trouble believing it.”
Monroe nodded, walking away with Ralph.
“Good luck with that dork!” Anne called back, as the remaining four of us headed for the forest, wondering what inevitable oddity would find us there…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Although the forest was normally quite green and lively, the sun was quite high in the sky at that moment, resulting in a massive amount of shadows in the trees that gave the whole thing a rather foreboding tone.
“Is anybody else somewhat wary to go in there?” I asked, as we all four simply stood in front of the trail leading us to our destination, which was hidden well by the darkness from the trees.
“No,” Anne said. “Who knows what the hell we’ll find in there?”
“Knowing our luck, something utterly ludicrous,” I answered, pulling out the map. “Say, are you sure this is the correct trail? This is a very odd-looking map, after all, and there are a few others in that same—“
“Larch,” Jack interrupted, “please stop being a wimp and just go into the goddamn forest. Yeah, it’s a little dark, so what?” To demonstrate, he entered briskly, turning back to us and spreading his arms as if to pronounce some impressive “burn”, as it were. However, upon hearing a mysterious animalistic noise to his left, he recoiled strongly and made his way back to us.
“So what, indeed,” I deadpanned.
“Shut up,” Jack spat.
“All right, if anybody is going to go in there first, it’ll damn well be me!” Greybeard yelled, running headlong in, screaming. That strange growl occurred again, but he merely pulled out a pistol and shot at it, scaring it off.
“Shut up, will ye?” he muttered, turning to us. “Are you lubbers comin’, or what?”
“Uh…yes, right away.” We four made our way in, entering deeper and darker into the forest, strange noises all around us. However, a fair number of those noises came from Greybeard, who spent the while simply growling them off, and in quite intimidating a manner as well, more than I would have expected possible of a normal man.
“You seem well practiced at this,” I noted, staying as close to him as possible as we made our way in.
“Aye, you have to be in my business if you want to get anywhere,” he said, then producing another growl to punctuate it.
“Evidently, you are quite far ahead,” I noted.
“This seems like a well-used trail,” Anne said. “Why would something this foreboding be so popular?”
“Maybe something is ****ing with us,” Jack suggested, looking behind him. “Wait a minute, have we been going uphill this entire time?”
All of us turned to look at the path we had just gone down, seeing that, indeed, it was slanted upwards, despite the map I had making no mention of such; the forest should have been completely flat throughout.
“Okay, nice knowing you guys, I’m going back,” Jack said, attempting to go back, but Anne grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back.
“Look, if we’re doing this, we’re doing this together!” she said, trying to hold him in place.
“Do what?” Jack demanded, trying to shake free. “Get eaten by Darkrai or some ****?”
“What be this ‘Darkrai’?” Greybeard asked.
“It ‘be’ a very unpleasant legendary Pokémon,” I answered. “Speaking of legendary Pokémon, may we please stop fooling about and get to the damned shrine before something finds us?”
“Hell no!” Jack yelled, finally shaking free. “I’m not going any further when the geography is completely screwed to hell!”
“So you would rather go back down the path alone?” I asked, pointing at the foreboding darkness behind us. Jack looked at it, and promptly ran past us all, soon with us following.
Regrettably, in our haste, we soon found ourselves quite lost in the confusing forest, and also found the map was of relatively little use here. Eventually, we stopped in a clearing, thankfully finding some sunlight at last, although it was of minimal help.
“All right, what the hell are we looking for?” Jack asked, trying to scout out the area, quickly finding absolutely nothing of interest.
“According to the map, there should be some sort of waterfall near here,” I said, trying to find my way around the confusing map. “However, it appears there is no such thing.”
“Are you holding that upside-down again?” Anne asked. “Is it the right map, even?”
“I already thought of that, and yes, it is the correct map,” I noted. “Someone, or perhaps something, is affecting the forest to prevent us from finding the shrine. But why?”
“I’m going to die out here, aren’t I?” Jack wondered aloud, quite panicked.
“Get a hold of yerself, ye pansy!” Greybeard yelled. “I ain’t never feared no man or spectre, and I’m not about to!” He turned to the sky, gesticulating wildly. “Ye hear that, Darkrai, or whatever ye are? I ain’t afraid of you or any of your little illusions! I’ve **** scarier things than you!”
“Oh, how pleasant,” I muttered, trying to look around, before I noticed something most disturbing indeed. “Uh…guys?”
“What?” Greybeard turned to me, eyes widening. “What in the…”
“Oh, now what?” Jack asked, looking at the anomaly. “Oh, **** me.”
In the center of the clearing had appeared a very large rocky outcropping, with water running down in front of an impressive cave opening, presumably from some unseen spring beneath it. However, the exact workings of it were of less interest to us than the question of how it got there and what it even was.
“Oh no, a lovely waterfall,” Greybeard said in a quite mocking sort of voice. “I’m so scared of it! Oh, look at how lovely it is! Ain’t it the most terrifying thing ye’ve ever laid eyes on?”
“Considering it just materialized out of thin air, it might be,” I said, walking towards it.
“Have you lost your mind?” Anne yelled. “Don’t go closer to it! It’ll probably melt you or something!”
I paid her no heed, mesmerized by the lovely stream of water. I stopped just short of it, Jack soon joining me.
“It’s…kind of nice, actually,” he said. “Kind of takes your mind off the whole ‘nightmare forest’ thing for a moment, at least.”
“Indeed,” I stammered, not really paying attention, rapt by the entrance before me.
“It’s…it’s not so bad, I guess,” Anne decided, she and Greybeard moving up at last.
We stared at it for some time, completely ignorant of everything else around us, before Jack made the first move, disappearing into the cave. Anne soon followed, as did Greybeard, leaving me alone staring at it.
“Well, no scientist ever accomplished anything just looking at things,” I reasoned, walking into it…
…And coming out inside some sort of conference room, completely empty. I was currently sitting at the head of a very long mahogany table, a projector above the center displaying some very odd diagrams on the wall.
“What on Earth?” I wondered aloud, looking around. Finding nobody else, I got up from my seat and attempted to decipher what the projector was displaying, but it was a complete mystery to me; none of the symbols were even close to anything resembling normal Latin ones, and they were pointing at what looked to be circuit schematics as reinterpreted by MC Escher.
“What trickery is this?” I asked. The door into the room opened behind me, and I turned around, seeing some sort of valet standing in shadow.
“Mr. Larch?” he said. “You’re on soon. Do you have your notes for the presentation?”
“Presentation?” I looked around, and saw that at the spot I was sitting was a manila folder, labeled with those same nonsensical symbols as before.
“Uh…yes, I have them right here, I think…” I rifled through the folder for a bit, desperately trying to figure out what its content was. Soon, I found a very familiar picture indeed: my translator, and below it one of those blow-up dissection pictures, displaying several parts which did not actually exist.
“What the hell is going on?” I muttered, looking back up. “Say, kind fellow, where exactly are we right now? I have been rather out of it these past few days, and I feel a bit confused.
“Well, you’re in Unova!” he said cheerfully. “Black City Conference Center, in fact! You’re about to deliver your explanation on your translator device!”
“Am I?” I said, questions raging in a great tempest within my head. Surely that was still quite a ways off? How did I get here, anyway? I set those aside, however, and followed the valet out into the hall, which was also in shadow despite the large windows lining it. I looked outside and noticed an impressive layer of clouds blocking out the sky, sending the entire city into absolute darkness.
“This is very odd,” I noted, trying to look outside and follow the valet at the same time.
“It’s quite the storm,” the valet answered, still hidden to my eyes by those damned shadows. “We haven’t had anything like it…ever, I think.”
“Anyway, this is the place,” the valet said finally, opening up a massive door leading into a great stage. Even in the hall, I could see that the crowd was absurdly enormous, in fact, much larger than the building ought to have allowed. I looked at this all for quite a bit, disturbed at just how odd everything was acting.
“Aren’t you going on?” the valet asked, snapping me out of my daze.
“What? Oh, yes, of course, excuse me.” I pushed past him, and awkwardly walked onto the stage, taking my place behind the podium. While I adjusted the microphone, I took note of the audience before me, soon noticing some very familiar faces, including Jack, Professor Oak, Greybeard, Anne, and Ralph, somehow standing out among the sea of people around them.
“Uh…yes, hello everybody, and thank you very much for coming to my presentation.” I awkwardly adjusted my cuff, sweat starting to pour down my face. I opened the folder, desperately looking for anything to help me deliver it, but I found nothing of any help at all, just more of those damned symbols.
“****,” I muttered under my breath, looking back up and trying my best to seem confident. I am convinced it likely failed, but I tried to improvise despite this, hoping to pull at least something off.
“For years,” I began, “scientists the world over have attempted to translate human speech to Pokémon speech. However, certain, uh, obstacles have always prevented such a concept from becoming the reality, for example, the, uh, the fact that Pokémon speech is an extremely complex tonal language, such that one sound could potentially carry hundreds of different meanings depending on volume, inflection, erm, intonation…” The crowd looked entirely disinterested as I rambled on, desperately trying to come up with something that sounded good. Sweat began pouring once again, and I looked behind me to find a projector on a wheelbase that I had not seen before, and quickly walked over to it, trying to continue the speech while I deciphered it.
“Because of this incredibly complex language, nobody has ever been able to create a proper translator…oh, piss,” I muttered as something inside the projector cracked. “Uh, slight technical difficulty, pay no mind…anyway, proper translator, yes. With the assistance of Rembrandt, my Smeargle, who has been beside me for a good…” I trailed off as I noticed Rembrandt sitting right beside Jack, who looked very perturbed about something. “…Twenty years…and from this bond, I was able to understand what he was saying, and thus develop a working sort of translation…”
“I’m the one who did that, dumbass!” Jack yelled, standing up from his seat.
“What the hell?!” I cried. “Have you gone insane? Sit back down! I was the one who first translated the speech!”
“Yeah, nice try, Larch, but Rembrandt’s mine now, and he’s the one who helped me figure it out! We’re way closer than he ever was with you!”
I sputtered, shocked at this absurd implication. “What are you saying? This is my presentation, I am the one who invented the translator!” I reached into my pocket in an attempt to fish it out, but found it horrifyingly empty. I looked towards Jack, who held up the translator, smiling very unpleasantly.
“Looking for this?” he asked. Some of the crowd began booing, including Ralph and Anne. “He’s just trying to copy me because he can’t do **** all himself! He hasn’t done anything that I can’t do!”
“Liar!” I yelled. “I devised the translator! Stop this nonsense at once or I will contact the police!”
“I’m sure the police will love to talk to my lawyers about your blatant copyright infringement!” On cue, a group of tall, bony men in well-pressed suits stood up, forming a perfect legal blockade around him.
“Your lawyers will accomplish nothing!” I shouted. “It was my invention! You are the one who has infringed! I doubt you even know how it works!”
“Oh, and I’m sure you can read those fancy little notes of yours perfectly?” Jack asked, sounding quite assured in his victory.
“Well, of course I can!” I opened the folder, but found that all the nonsense symbols and ludicrous diagrams, every last piece of unintelligible nonsense, had disappeared, leaving only blank sheets.
“What is the meaning of this?” I wondered, looking back up. “Uh…slight technical difficulty, again, please excuse me for a moment…”
The crowd immediately started booing me, unconvinced by my pathetic attempt at cover. Several of them stood up and began throwing whatever they could find at me; shoes, hats, and all number of other things. Luckily, their aim was quite terrible, or I might have been quite badly injured by the onslaught.
“Calm down, all of you!” I demanded, but they paid no heed, continuing to boo me even louder, and throw even more objects, including several varieties of fruit they should not have even had. I realized the situation was deteriorating rapidly and growing completely beyond my control, and that unless somebody came in to mend the entire mess, I would probably get strung up. Thus, I was quite thankful when a group of policemen, headed by Officer Monroe somehow, barged in, quickly forcing everybody else into silence. They ran up to the stage, looking me straight in the eye.
“Oh, thank God, officers!” I cried. “Perhaps you can bring some order to this whole—“
“Shut up, thief!” Monroe demanded, pointing his handgun up at me. I raised my arms, dropping the folder to the ground, sending blank sheets flying everywhere.
“Thief? What on earth are you talking about, officer?”
“Look at this!” he yelled back, pulling one of the sheets out of the air and pointing at me. Naturally, I saw nothing, but he evidently saw nothing but incriminating evidence against me. “One-hundred percent copied from Mr. LeBoure’s patent!”
“This is absurd! That is nothing more than a blank sheet of paper!”
“Playing stupid won’t get you anywhere, stretch. Now, come with us peacefully and there won’t be any problems at all.” The cops inched ever closer to me, and I stole a quick glance at Jack and his cronies, who all seemed quite pleased with this turn of events.
“All right, all right, here I come…” I said, moving towards the edge of the stage, the police tracking my every move. Just as I reached the stairs leading down into the seats, I broke into a run, bursting through the door and back into the hallway. The valet attempted to stop me, but I had absolutely none of it, running past him and along the corridor. I quickly noticed the storm outside had gotten worse, rain pouring down as if it were a monsoon and lightning striking all over the place.
“Bloody hell, this is utterly mental,” I muttered under my hastening breath, trying desperately to keep a grip among the absurd goings-on around me. Soon, I entered the front reception area, which was wholly devoid of people, a strange thing indeed considering all that should have been going on today. I paid little attention to it, though, as I heard the police coming behind me, and dashed for the exit, running out into the darkened streets, only to find something even stranger: a number of police cars, lights flashing, surrounded by men pointing very large assault rifles in my general direction.
“Oh, what in the hell is this, now?” I wondered.
“Freeze!” one of the men commanded. “You’re under arrest!”
“All of this for a simple copyright dispute?” I asked, leading to them pointing their weapons even closer.
“He’s resisting arrest!” that same man yelled. “Shoot him!”
“What?” I was barely able to run away before they began a volley of lead death in what was probably meant to be my general direction, but not a single bullet managed to land its mark, somehow. As I ran away from the cops, who were now entering back into their cars to chase after me, I silently thanked every single major and minor deity I could recall at the moment, ducking into a fortuitous alley and hiding myself well behind some bags of trash. Soon, the wail of sirens pierced my ears as they passed me, but none of them noticed me in that alley, and it seemed I was safe for now.
“Bloody hell,” I said, getting up and dusting myself off. “What in the hell was all that about?”
“I could ask you the same thing!” Anne said, coming up behind me. I jumped quite high, and then turned to face her, quite cross.
“What are you doing here?!” I demanded. “Were you not just in the convention center?”
“Convention center?” she asked, wholly lost. “I wasn’t anywhere near there.”
“Nonsense! I saw you quite clearly when I attempted to deliver my presentation on the translator, before you started booing me when Jack claimed he had invented it!”
“I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about!” Anne countered. “I was at one of those Pokémon Beauty Contest things, and I was about to win off of Dante, when Greybeard said I cheated somehow and the security chased me out! I’m thankful I even managed to make it here, much less hide!”
“Greybeard accused you of cheating, while still being at my presentation?” I wondered. “Something funny is going on here…”
“I’ll ****ing say!” Jack yelled, opening a door in the wall next to me and walking out, very steamed indeed. “I was about to win Trainer of the Year when this jackass,” he yelled, pointing to me, “said I didn’t ‘legitimately’ catch Latias, whatever the hell that means, and the police started throwing tear gas all over the place for some reason!”
“Curiouser and curiouser!” I said. “The last I saw of you, you were claiming copyright fraud at my translator presentation at the convention center!”
“Bull****!” Jack cried. “I wasn’t anywhere near there! I’ve been in the back of this dive-ass Laundromat for, like, ten minutes now!”
“What be the meaning of all o’ this?” Greybeard shouted from above us. We looked up to see he was climbing down a fire escape, and seemed to be quite tired.
“I say, are you all right?” I asked.
“No, I ain’t all right!” he shouted back down, quickly coming the rest of the way down and looking Anne straight in the eye. “I’ve been getting chased by those damned soldiers for the last fifteen minutes after you ratted me out!”
“Wait, weren’t you at the beauty pageant?”
“Beauty pageant?” Greybeard said mockingly. “What be that?”
Anne thought for a moment, and realized Greybeard indeed would have no reason to know about or go to such an event, releasing her momentary indignance and replacing it instead with confusion.
“Okay,” Jack began, “so we each tried to screw each other over, except not really because we were busy getting screwed over ourselves. What the hell is going on?”
We thought for a bit, considering all the options.
“I think I know what is going on,” I finally said. “The irrational behavior from everybody, the fleeting accomplishments, all of us being in two different places at the same time…this is nothing more than some bizarre hallucination brought on by whatever was in that cave!”
“Bravo, Larch!” an impossibly smooth voice said from…somewhere. We all four huddled together as the world seemed to dissolve around us, leaving only the dark walls of a cave…and a very interesting Pokémon indeed.
“A Zoroark!” I cried, as we all turned to face him.
“Ooh, you’re just on top of figuring things out today, aren’t you?” he cooed, smiling wickedly.
“Enough of these nonsensical riddles, damn you!” I cried. “I want to know exactly what the hell is going on, and I want to know now before I shove that ridiculous ponytail down your throat!”
“Holy ****, Larch, when did you grow a pair?” Jack asked, impressed.
“Easy, easy!” the Zoroark insisted, holding up his hands. “Allow me to explain what’s going on. First of all, yes, I can speak English; I find it a useful skill when I need people to give me what I want.”
“But wait, Zoroark are native to Unova,” I noted. “Why are you in Johto, of all places?”
“I was getting to that,” he said, annoyed. “I came here because some weird ****’s been going on in Unova recently, and I had to get the hell out of Dodge before I got involved.”
“Well, nice try,” I said. “We have a time-travelling pirate and an insane composer involved with us.”
“I’d still call that an improvement, to be honest.”
“Over what?” Jack asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Zoroark said, crossing his arms.
Jack crossed his arms as well. “Trust me, I think we’d be willing to believe almost anything you told us.”
“Hm…I could tell you were going to Unova from the lingering dream waves.”
“The lingering what?” I asked. The Zoroark merely ignored me and continued.
“I’ll let you figure out all the stuff that’s going on there yourselves, I have no idea how to even start with it. On a different note entirely, I, uh…lose control of my powers when I’m sleeping, and I just woke up when you figured out what was going on.” He awkwardly rubbed the back of his head, looking away from us and trying to smile. “Sorry about that.”
“Lose control, indeed!” I said. “The entire forest has been acting incredibly strange.”
“Ooh. Yeah, I’ll fix that.”
“Look, anyway, where might we find the Celebi shrine?” I asked, trying to move on from the current line of conversation.
“Oh, the green thingy?” the Zoroark quickly lightened up, knowing exactly what we were talking about.
“Yes!” we all cried at once.
“Oh, it’s about a hundred yards straight out from the cave,” he said, helpfully pointing in the proper direction.
“Thank you, sir,” I said, immediately starting my way out. Anne, however, had other ideas.
“I’m gonna stay here, actually,” she said, eliciting several shocked looks from us.
“Why are you gonna do that?” Zoroark asked, clearly lost.
“Simple,” Anne answered. “I want to make you a deal to come with me.”
“A trainer, eh?” he asked. “Trust me, plenty of people better than you have tried before. I’m a hard sell.”
“And I’m a hard bargainer,” Anne responded. “In fact, I’ll bet you that we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement by the time those three get back.”
“A challenge, now, is it?” Zoroark laughed. “Finally! Somebody who’s actually interesting. I’m liking you more and more by the second…maybe I will go with you, if you do manage to convince me, that is.”
“Agreed.” They shook hands, and began discussing their terms, while the rest of us made haste out of it.
“I never thought my life would get this bizarre,” Greybeard commented once we were out of that damned cave.
“You and I are in the same boat, then, as it were,” I said.
“Oh, that was bad,” Jack said, grimacing.
“Come now, Jack, a bit of wordplay never hurt anybody,” I responded, smiling quite broadly. “Now, then, we should make our way to that shrine before anything else stupid happens. Ho!”
I ran forward, quite excited about the whole business, as we were about to make one of the most important discoveries in history. My compatriots, however, were somewhat less enthusiastic, as they barely managed to stay behind me. However, nothing could change the fact that all three of us were making remarkable progress towards our next goal, and all the unique challenges that would come with it.
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
With Zoroark’s illusion dissipated, the forest was now quite lovely, the shadows gone and the topography following standard rules of geometry. With this vast improvement, we were easily able to make our way to the shrine, although we were somewhat concerned regarding the untranslatable symbols on it, and how it might affect our search for Celebi.
“All right, Larch, look,” Jack started, as we made our way. “We’re pretty smart, right? We have plenty of skills and smarts between us, there’s no reason we can’t figure it out.”
“Look, Jack,” I responded, “for the many centuries this thing has been here, nobody has been able to even remotely figure out what any of it means, or even why it was here in the first place, only that Celebi might occasionally be found here.”
“Well, yeah, but you have to remember that we were barely able to find any information on it at all, so I’m guessing that there weren’t very many people trying. Probably a lot of people just signed it off as some weird prank or a hoax, like…like that skeleton of an ancient human which turned out to just be a normal human skull with a Chimchar jaw stuck on it.”
“Ah, yes, that.” I recalled that business; it was quite embarrassing for all involved. I could only thank whatever deity appropriate that I managed to avoid it and not further drag my name through the mud. Of course, even if I had, my future presentation would render it all moot, but I had too much to think about in the present, so I set that aside.
“What be you two talkin’ about?” Greybeard asked, quite lost.
“A whole business you would not be very interested in,” I answered. “It would probably take far too long to explain all the specifics of it.”
“Aye, but I can see something I am interested in!” he said, barreling forward. Jack and I looked ahead, and saw something of astonishing beauty: the shrine, cracked and worn with age, but still standing. It was not terribly complex; a circular stone platform jutted from the ground, those damned symbols covering it all around, and two stone arches intersecting atop it, with some lovely inlays that had all but disappeared with age.
“Incredible!” I cried, Jack and I doing our best to catch up. Soon, we found Greybeard staring in awe at the symbols covering the shrine, almost as if he recognized them.
“What is it?” I asked, looking at the intricate carvings. True enough, they were entirely unintelligible, looking like something a drunken person would scrawl out with a half-broken pencil, although I silently remarked they resembled the nonsense scribbles I saw in my earlier vision.
“How fascinating,” I said, trying to discern anything from them. “Small wonder nobody has ever tried to solve this mystery, it is quite impossible.”
“I think I can read this!” Greybeard announced.
“What?” Jack and I asked simultaneously, baffled by his claim.
“Aye, me crew and I devised a secret code so that we could correspond without anybody figuring it out.”
“Is this that code?” I asked. “What does it say?”
“Hold on, there. Firstly, we made up our very own alphabet, and then we separated them in a particular way so that you can only read them out when you’re drunk as hell.”
“I see!” Clarity filled my mind, which was a welcome introduction. “Nobody could read it because they did not know the cypher, nor did they know they had to cross their eyes to see it correctly.”
“Aye!” Greybeard pulled a flask off his belt and took a number of hearty swigs from it, soon becoming quite off. He looked at the symbols, easily discerning their meaning for the first time in centuries.
“What does it say?” Jack asked, impatient.
“Uh…it says, hold on, let me just go around…” he circled the shrine for a bit, quickly determining the full message. “Ah, yes, it says ‘Celebi is hiding in the boiler room somewhere’.”
“Of course!” I cried. “You must have made this shrine in the past to tell us where Celebi would be found in the future so we could send you back in time, allowing you to build the shrine after the fact and closing a stable time loop!”
“Oh, god, I’m going to get a headache,” Jack complained.
“Worry not,” I said. “It will all come together soon enough.”
“About damn time it did, too,” Jack said.
“Of course, to properly close the loop, we will actually need to acquire Celebi.” I noted. “But first…” I looked at the symbols around the shrine’s base, defocusing my eyes slightly enough for the symbols to form.
“How clever,” I muttered. “I might try to figure this whole system out at some point.”
“I might have the sheet somewhere on me ship,” Greybeard said, quite off-kilter. Jack ran over to support him, heaving under his astonishing weight. “I’ll give it to ye, for a price.”
“I think putting you back into your proper time period is a fair payment,” I said.
“Ah, ye drive a hard bargain!” Greybeard said, convinced. “The secret code for me proper place in time? Deal!”
“Excellent. Now, we had best be off; we may not have much time left.” I shook my head, considering the facts. “Actually, we have as much time as we want; we know we will succeed, because we already have!”
“Can I borrow some of that rum, Greybeard?” Jack asked. “Because I’m gonna need it at this rate.”
“Oh, hush,” I admonished. “This is not really that complicated, Jack.”
“Yeah, to you maybe!” he spat back. “You’re some supergenius scientist, this stuff is way over my head!”
“You think I’m a supergenius?” I asked, genuinely pleased.
“Well…I mean, look, you made the translator, and nobody’s been able to work out how the hell that would even work, not to mention keeping a handle on this stupid situation somehow…”
“Why…why, thank you, Jack.” I turned around, now very happy indeed. “Come, we should go get Anne and that Zoroark of hers, it would be very wise to make haste before some other strange occurrence happens.”
“Amen to that!” Jack said, lurching forward under Greybeard’s weight. Soon, however, the pirate captain pushed off of him and walked himself, freeing Jack from his burden. We were certainly renewed, some more than others, and we wasted absolutely no time in getting back to Anne and the Zoroark.
By the time we got back inside the cave, the two of them seemed to have reached a beneficial agreement, and were shaking hands on it.
“I see you have devised a contract,” I noted.
“Indeed we have,” the Zoroark said. “I follow her around, quite specifically outside of a PokeBall—“
“Outside of one?” Jack interrupted.
“Look, Jack, I don’t know what the hell goes on in there, and I certainly don’t intend to find out. Anyway, no PokeBalls, proper human food, and I also get a nice hat.”
“Not a bad deal for you,” I said.
“Certainly not. Anyway, we decided on the name Slick. How’s things?” He held out a claw, and I hesitantly reached for it, receiving a hearty handshake in return.
“All right, now we have somebody else involved in the group,” Jack said. “Now can we please go to the ship?”
“Ooh, a ship!” Slick’s eyes lit up. “I’ve always wanted to go on a ship! Which one is it?”
“The SS Anne,” I answered.
“Oh, pinch me, I’m dreaming!” Slick threw himself into Anne’s arms, pretending as if he was fainting.
“Do you mind?” she asked crossly, her voice muffled by his massive ponytail.
“What? Oh, sorry.” He climbed off her and smiled sheepishly. “Uh, anyway, ship! Yeah, let’s go!”
He quickly made his exit from us, leaving us behind in the cave.
“Quite the specimen, that one…” I said.
“Okay, he’s kind of weird, but he’s just so cool!” Anne gushed, chasing after him. “Race ya there!”
“Be this a challenge?” Greybeard demanded, running after her as well. “I’ll never be bested by ye, hear that!”
“Well, that was strange and uncomfortable,” Jack said as we two walked out of the cave together. “I don’t trust that Slick guy.”
“That whole illusion thing was an accident,” I countered. “Besides, I found the experience rather…revealing of certain qualities.”
“You’re afraid you’ll blow it?” Jack asked, concerned, or perhaps more confused.
“Well, of course I am! This is the single most important presentation of my life! If I do not do it properly, I will become a total laughingstock! My reputation would never recover from such a severe blow!”
“First of all, you’re way overstating this,” Jack admonished. “Second, you’ve been sailing alongside a time-travelling pirate for the past, what, two days, and you’re afraid of giving one little presentation? Larch, you’re a national hero! You decimated Team Rocket! You threw their leader out of the top of Silph Co.!”
“No, it was Ralph that did that. I just sat there helplessly and shot an AR-15 at the wall!”
Jack recoiled. “Well, okay, but still! You went into the most ridiculously dangerous situation possible and came out at the very top! And with the finest supercar in the world, might I add?”
“Oh, right, the Horizon. Again, that belongs to Ralph.”
“Yeah, but guess who isn’t here right now?” he asked. “Guess who didn’t help you escape that illusion? Guess who won’t help us find Celebi?”
I considered this for a moment, breaking into a smile. “I suppose you have a fair point, Jack. Thank you, I quite needed that.”
“Anytime.” He looked around a bit as we finally exited the cave, suspicious. “Don’t…don’t tell anybody about that, though. I have an image to keep up.”
I chuckled. “Worry not, I have no intention of sharing our little moment.”
Jack scowled. “Ew. Look, as I was saying anyway, I’m still not entirely sure I trust Slick.”
“I shall give him the benefit of the doubt,” I said. “He certainly seemed nice enough, and I entirely trust Anne to keep him in line, given what she has on her team.”
“If you say so,” he said as we got back on the path out of the forest. “C’mon, let’s get the hell out of this forest. I’m sick of this place.”
“Well, we have at least one thing to agree on,” I noted, making haste as we both followed the trail out.
It was much later in the afternoon when we finally got back to the town, another member added to our group. We assumed that Ralph was not quite finished yet, and so we simply went straight for the docks, collecting a few looks and gasps from the townsfolk as we walked through, due to how utterly strange we looked all together.
Once we reached the dock, and the massive alternating staircase leading up to the SS Anne, we found that the captain was already there waiting for us, looking somewhat concerned. Of course, when he saw us coming, that concern dissipated, now replaced by what seemed to be an equal mix of relief and fear.
“Captain!” I greeted. “We have returned, and we now have knowledge of where Celebi might be found!”
“Yeah, and you also have that thing!” he said, pointing to Slick, who frowned and crossed his arms.
“This ‘thing’ has a name, *******!” he said, turning his nose up.
“It talks?” the captain asked, scratching his head.
“And now ‘it’!” Slick cried. “Who is this guy?”
“The captain of the SS Anne,” I answered. “I assume he was merely caught off guard by your…appearance.”
“What are you, anyway?” the captain asked, looking over Slick.
“I’ll have you know, I am a Zoroark, and quite proud of it, thank you very much.”
“I thought those were only native to Unova, though?”
“I can’t leave?” Slick asked, raising an eyebrow.
The captain shrugged, then shook his head. “Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Where is Celebi?”
“After translating the runes on the shrine we located,” I explained, “we have determined that Celebi is, in fact, in your boiler room.”
The captain frowned. “First, that makes absolutely no sense at all, and second, it’s far too dangerous in there for me to let you in.”
“You would prefer leaving Greybeard stranded in time?” I asked.
“Well, no, but…why the hell would Celebi be in my boiler room? And which one would it be, anyway? We have two separate ones aboard the ship.”
“Then we had best split up to search them both.”
“I’m not letting you into the goddamn boiler room!” the captain insisted. “You’ll either get severely injured or you’ll press the wrong button and blow a hole in the side of my ship!”
“Have you any faith in us at all?” I asked, stepping closer.
“Considering you’re claiming you found some ancient shrine that talks about boiler rooms, I have to wonder if you didn’t knick some of that keg for yourself earlier!”
“And just what are you implying?” I demanded.
“I’m going to stop this before one of you gets arrested,” Jack said, pushing himself between us. “Look, Larch, you’re being kind of an ass right now, but as for you, captain, it’s kind of important that we get into that boiler room.
The captain grimaced, and reluctantly conceded. “Fine. But I’m having somebody accompany both groups so you don’t screw anything up.”
“Oh, very well. Show us the way, Mr. Faith.”
The captain frowned, but relented and led our group up the staircase in silence, an awkward stillness between us all. It was not soon enough that we were at the top of the stairs and back onto the ship, in the plush main lobby, where a handful of people were milling about, presumably waiting for other people to come along. My group took a seat, while the captain chose to simply stand.
“All right, here’s how it’s going to work,” the captain explained. “You five are going to wait here while I go get some crew to accompany you inside, and you will do exactly as they say once I get them here. You will not touch anything, you will not press any buttons or levers, and you will leave the instant you find Celebi, assuming you do actually find it. Got it?”
We each muttered vague confirmations, and the captain walked off into the depths of the ship, satisfied.
“Geez, what an *******,” Jack muttered.
“I heard that!” the captain called back.
With that, we found ourselves almost alone in that lobby, quite awkwardly standing there in silence.
“Well, now what?” Slick asked, finally breaking the uncomfortable air. “I’m pretty sure that guy doesn’t trust me going down there.”
“To be honest, I wouldn’t completely trust you down there, either,” Anne noted, gesturing towards his massive tail. “This would probably bump into a lot of stuff.”
Slick considered this for a moment. “I guess that’s fair. So, who else is going?”
“I think it would be best if I went with Greybeard,” I suggested. “That would, of course, leave you two together.”
“Fair enough,” Jack said, inching closer to Anne and grinning.
“Don’t even think about it, buddy,” she said, pushing him away.
“Come now, behave,” I warned. “We would not want the captain to be cross with us.”
“You certainly wouldn’t,” he said as he suddenly came up behind me, causing me to jump a bit. I turned to face him, seeing he had two crewmen with him, both of whom looked somewhat cross.
“This is Johnson and Richards,” he said, gesturing to the men to his right and left. “They will take your groups to the two boiler rooms, and you will do exactly as they say. Got that?”
“Indeed.” Greybeard and I went to Johnson, while Anne and Jack went to Richards, Slick obviously choosing to stay behind. They nodded, and quickly started walking, as we followed them into the depths of the ship…
Soon, we were in the deep parts of the ship, where the other passengers were unlikely to ever set foot, and with good reason; it was very tightly spaced, quite hot, and overall a rather unpleasant experience that would sully any proper vacation. Luckily, however, I knew we would only be down here a rather short while, since I assumed it would be me and Greybeard that would find Celebi.
As for the two boiler rooms, they were located on opposite sides of a tight corridor near the bottom of the ship, labeled “A” and “B”.
“Say, why do you have two of these, anyway?” I asked. “I would have guessed you would only need one.”
“They typically run at half efficiency each,” Johnson explained, as he fumbled for his key. “That way, if one of them is damaged or stops working, the other one can pick up the difference. It’s a fairly large ship, so having backup is quite important.”
“Ah, redundancy!” I exclaimed. “Excellent, excellent, always a good choice in this sort of thing. How large are they?”
“Fairly large. I certainly hope you get lucky and find what you’re looking for soon, I hate it down here.”
“I confess I’m not fond of it either,” Greybeard said. “All of this fancy stuff just confuses me more than anything.”
“Ah, here we go!” Johnson pulled out the correct key and put it into the two doors, letting us in. As Richards went with the other two, we went into Boiler Room A, quickly finding that it was large indeed. It was, as expected, a sort of dull brown color, but surprisingly well lit, despite what the films might tell us of such things. Massive boilers stretched from one end of the room to the other, providing steam and hot water to the entire ship, a useful service. Greybeard stared in awe at them, fascinated by such advanced (to him) technology.
“What be all this, then?” he asked, looking them over quite well. “What do all of these do?”
“They boil water and produce steam, which is useful for the ships operations. These do not power the ship, do they?” I asked, turning to Johnson.
“No, we use a diesel engine for that,” he explained.
“Diesel?” Greybeard asked.
“Ah, the miracle of internal combustion! I probably could not explain it to you if I tried, so let me just say it will be very popular in the future. Anyway, we had best search for Celebi before somebody else finds it.”
“Where do we start?” Greybeard asked. “This room be huge!”
“Good question…” I looked around, determining the best point to start our hunt. “I believe if I look over the right half of the room, and you the left, it would be more constructive overall. Besides, you are a pirate captain. Finding hidden treasure is practically your job.”
“Uh…mostly we just shoot at ships until they give us their cargo. I don’t know much about ‘hidden treasure’.”
“Oh. Well…just look around for a bit. We are bound to find something helpful sooner or later.”
With that, we separated, Johnson trying his best to keep an eye on us both. I did not notice what Greybeard was doing, as I was too busy carefully observing the large boilers, searching for any sign that something might be amiss. However, soon I found that nothing seemed to be out of place; all the boilers were functioning perfectly well, the ones that were on, anyway, all the wall panels were in place; really, it seemed as if nothing was there, and the shrine was some bizarre trick. But that could not have been, since it was inevitable that we would find Celebi…until I had a terrible thought once I reached the end of the room.
“Greybeard!” I cried. “Come here, quickly!”
“What is it?” he asked, running up to me. Johnson also did so, looking quite concerned.
“I have realized something of utterly critical importance,” I began gravely. “Consider that the inscription claimed Celebi would be here, in the boiler room. However, it is entirely possible that a certain Mr. Wolfgang, in fact, stole Celebi elsewhere, figured out your code, and used it to distract us from the true location of Celebi while he gets it for himself, seizing control over everything!”
“Scallywag!” Greybeard cried.
“You might call me that,” Wolfgang said, suddenly appearing from the hallway outside. Greybeard and Johnson pulled out their guns, but I simply stared him down. “I, however, prefer the term ‘genius’, as my clever little ploy worked. While you were all wasting your time looking around in this boiler room, I already know where Celebi is, and fully intend to collect him, considering that I came here from, oh, several hours in the future. Enjoy chasing after me!”
“Where will you be, you bastard?” I demanded, stepping closer.
“You already figured out where my little shrine was; you should have no difficulty whatsoever in finding out where I am! Now, then, I must be off! Celebi?”
From the hall came a green flash, and before I could lunge to grab him, he disappeared, the flash nearly blinding me. When I looked back, he had disappeared.
“Damn it all!” I cried. “He made fools of us all!”
“Clever bastard,” Greybeard noted.
“I cannot believe how easily he played us like a fiddle! Something must be done!”
“If you don’t know where Celebi actually is, how will you be able to catch him?” Johnson questioned.
“I do not know, but we must try. Such a powerful Pokémon falling into his hands would be utterly disastrous. Greybeard, Johnson, you two go back above deck to get Slick, I shall get the others.”
They nodded, and I ran into the other boiler room, finding a very confused Jack and Anne standing right near the entrance.
“Larch, what the hell was that?” Jack asked. “I heard something in the hall, and when I look outside, there’s nothing there. What’s going on?”
“Wolfgang. He knows where Celebi is and intends to collect it for himself. The shrine was merely a trick he played when he succeeded.”
“What?” Anne cried. “That son of a *****! I went through that weird dream thingy for nothing?”
“You found Slick, remember.” I pointed out.
“Oh, yeah. That was pretty sweet.”
“There is no time for this, though. We must find him as soon as possible and stop him!”
“How can we stop him, though?” Jack asked. “You’re the one who’s been going on and on about time loops and causal actions and whatever, if he made the shrine, we know he wins! There’s no point!”
“Ah, but there is a point!” I cried. “We know that he gets Celebi, but we do not at all know if he manages to keep Celebi, and therein lies the key.”
“You’re saying we have to get him after he already thinks he’s won?”
“Precisely. Come, we must go back above deck and ready ourselves.”
“Right!” Anne and Jack said simultaneously. We all ran down the hall…
…And soon found ourselves back in the lobby, where all the others, including a very perturbed fellow indeed, stood.
“What the hell is all this, now?” the captain of the SS Anne demanded, quite loudly, in fact. “Are you saying I sent you four down into our boiler rooms for absolutely nothing?”
“We were tricked!” Greybeard insisted. “We couldn’t a’ known it weren’t down there!”
“I didn’t ask you, pirate!”
“Calm down, all of you!” I insisted. “There is time yet to stop anything unpleasant from happening, and we all must work together if we are to do so.”
“You’re the reason this is happening in the first place!” the captain insisted.
“That is a very broad accusation, sir.” I spat. “Care to back it up?”
“I’m going to put a stop to this before you two kill each other,” Jack said, stepping between us. “Look, obviously, where Wolfgang is, Celebi is too. Knowing him, he’ll probably make a huge show of it just to piss us off. This won’t be hard, even if he does manage to get Celebi, there’s no evidence he’ll actually hold onto it.”
“A fair point,” I noted. “But where might Celebi be, anyway?” I stepped outside of the lobby and leaned against the railing, deep in thought. “And where would Wolfgang have determined such?”
Suddenly, I heard a very peculiar noise, that of a powerful engine and splashing water. I looked around for the source, and soon found it: Wolfgang had hijacked a runabout, himself driving and his two Pokémon in the back seat, quickly making his way out to a clear target: Greybeard’s ship.
“Of course!” I cried. “Celebi was above Greybeard’s ship the whole time!”
“What?” Jack yelled, the entire group running outside. They soon caught sight of the boat, and the captain grew livid.
“Damn it, now look what he’s done!” he cried.
“He is heading for your ship, Greybeard!” I cried.
“Damn him to hell! If he touches a single bit of the rigging, I’ll keelhaul him with the anchor!”
“Captain, is there any way to get over there?”
“There’s no way to get there fast enough,” he said, despondent. “There’s no way to stop him.”
“We shall have to catch him later,” I said. “Quickly, to the shore!”
Leaving the captain and the two crewmen behind, we all ran for the stairs leading down to the dock, hoping we would be able to stop Wolfgang once and for all…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Defeat and Victory
It was obvious that we could not possibly get to Greybeard’s ship in time; there was no way to get a boat down fast enough, and it would be pointless to anyway, as Wolfgang was doubtlessly prepared for such an event. As we ran down the docks and towards the beach where he would likely return, I cursed myself for inebriating the crew and halting an avenue of opportunity. That, however, was in the past, and I knew that we had no choice but to do what we could in the present.
Soon, we took up a position on the very small and oddly empty beach, save for some fellow to the side that was ranting and raving about his stolen boat.
“All right, everyone,” I said. “He will likely be returning soon, so…be as prepared as you can.”
“Here he comes!” Jack said, pointing out to the ship. Indeed, though it was very difficult to see, Wolfgang was climbing down the side of the ship upon a rope, seemingly carrying something. Greybeard scowled, recognizing the severity of the theft, especially since it was from his own ship.
“He has Celebi!” I cried. “Be ready, he will probably come back here just to gloat at us.”
“This guy is kind of a dumbass,” Jack noted.
“Certainly,” I agreed. “Evidently, he does not watch very many movies.”
“Either that, or he just never figured out why the Bond villains always lost,” Anne suggested.
“Here he comes!” Slick said, as the runabout drew ever nearer. “Oh, we’ve got this dork now!”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Slick,” Jack said. “This guy is tricky.”
“Ooh, I like that in a person!” Slick leaned towards the boat, trying to see what he could see. “Hey, what’s that red tube he’s holding?”
“That’s a goddamn flare gun!” Jack shouted. “Duck!”
We broke formation and ran from our position, as Wolfgang stood up and fired a piercing red flare at us, very nearly setting me on fire.
“What the hell?” the man off to the side yelled. “My flare gun!”
“Indeed, he—Clive Warren?!” I cried, now recognizing him.
“Oh, hey, you again!” he greeted cheerfully. “Finally getting to Unova, are we?”
“Wait, Unova?” Slick asked. “I was trying to get away from that place, and now I’m going back?”
“Hey, come on, you agreed to come with—look out!” Anne pointed to the boat, now much nearer and showing no signs of stopping. We dispersed even wider as Wolfgang and his two Pokémon leapt out of the boat, landing elegantly on the beach as the boat crashed very hard into it, sending bits of wood everywhere as it tore apart against the sand, soon colliding with the rock wall and collapsing entirely.
“Goddamnit, my boat!” Clive yelled, clutching his head in horror.
“Forget your boat, he nearly killed us!” Jack yelled, getting back up and dusting himself off.
“Oh, relax. I had no intentions of harming you,” Wolfgang said, smiling and pulling a PokeBall out of his pocket. “Now, then, I really must be off to the past so that I might defeat you. Cheerio!”
Once again, Gliscor and Tyrranus grabbed his arms and flew him in the air, laughing all the while.
“Honestly, Larch, are you to be my rival? You barely put up a fight at all!”
“Why don’t you come down here and I’ll show you a fight!” Greybeard yelled. “I ain’t about to let you get away with stealing from my ship!”
“You make your living off of stealing,” Slick pointed out.
“Oh, I would gladly come down there and play with you, dear Greybeard,” Wolfgang said, “but unfortunately, I have a rather tight schedule. Of course, considering I have the secret to time travel in my possession, I could easily take as long as I wished down here. I am somewhat impatient though, so once again, cheerio!”
Just as he started to fly off again, a welcome face appeared behind the railing above the wall.
“What the hell is this?” Ralph said, very confused.
“Oh, another interruption?” Wolfgang said, grinding to a halt and looking down. “Can’t I ever just get going?”
“Where did you come from?” Ralph looked down. “And what the hell happened to that boat?”
“I crashed it, what else?” Wolfgang sneered. “Please just go away so I can complete my plan in peace.”
“Let me think…” Ralph faked a pause, and then climbed onto the railing, leaping forward and barely grabbing onto Wolfgang’s legs once more, his Pokémon again straining under their combined weight.
“What? Get off, damn you! I will not have this happen again!” Wolfgang attempted to shake Ralph off, but his grip was true, and he stayed fast.
“This is not how I wanted to spend my day!” Clive yelled.
“Join the club,” Jack drawled.
“Enough of this foolishness!” Wolfgang yelled, quite annoyed by now. “Tyrranus, Gliscor, away!”
Still carrying Ralph with them, they all flew off, leaving us quite bewildered.
“That was utterly absurd!” I cried, wiping off my glasses.
“We have to go get them!” Slick said. “Who knows what the hell is going to happen with those two?”
“But…my boat!” Clive said. “Look at what he did to my boat!”
“Surely you have insurance?” I asked.
“Well, yes, but…”
“There you are then! Quickly, after him!”
My group ran off, trying to chase after them once more, leaving Clive Warren behind to handle his rather ruined boat.
All through the city, we desperately tried to catch up with their increasingly erratic movements, no doubt caused by their attempts to shake each other off, making it quite difficult to fly in anything resembling a straight line. Although we soon found ourselves getting tired and annoyed, luck was on our side as we neared to the police station, a fairly bland blue building with a fair garage next to it, both of which seemed quite abuzz with activity.
“What?!” Wolfgang cried as they drew near. “Not the police station, you idiots, they will arrest me!”
“Hold on!” I cried, and we all stopped. “I think we should let this develop on its own.”
“Sounds good to me,” Slick said. “I hate police.”
“Come on, you two, go to the nice blue building!” Ralph said. “They have…uh…birdseed! And poffins, plenty of those!”
“Do not listen to him, you fools! He is trying to deceive you so that we might go to prison!”
“You talk like an *******!” Jack shouted.
“Oh, do I?” Wolfgang asked. “At least I talk as if I had an education, unlike certain among us!”
“I resent that!” Slick said, shaking his fist. It seemed we had reached an impasse, with the tension so thick it might have required a jackhammer to get through, but luckily our jackhammer soon arrived to cut through it.
“Freeze!” shouted Monroe, running into the scene with his handgun drawn, alongside several other officers. “You’re under arrest!”
“Can somebody help me down? My arms are kind of starting to hurt.” Ralph moaned, carefully looking down below him.
“Sir, tell your Pokémon to come down to the ground,” Monroe warned, stepping slightly closer. “You have ten seconds to comply!”
“Ten seconds?” Wolfgang grinned, clearly up to something. “Not very much…time, is that?”
“Oh god, not again…” I muttered. Monroe tensed, and Wolfgang pressed the button on the PokeBall he was holding, finally releasing the infamous Celebi.
“There it be!” Greybeard yelled, trying to run and catch it. It was, alas, no use, as Wolfgang shouted for Celebi to take him to the middle of the seventeenth century, disappearing with a bright green flash. We turned away, but it did not take a genius to figure out what happened next, Ralph shrieked as he was sent hurtling to the ground below, but Slick managed to run over and catch him just in time. He held him for a moment, then quickly released him, whistling awkwardly.
“Damn it, not again!” Monroe cried. “That ******* is gonna get my paycheck docked!” He turned back to his own group and began discussing what to do, which I paid little attention to.
“So, there it is,” I said, turning back and staring at the spot Wolfgang just disappeared from. “Celebi can indeed travel through time. This…this may well be the greatest scientific discovery of our entire generation!” I said excitedly. “Do you all realize what this means?”
“Emo Mozart just got away a second time?” Jack asked.
“By the way, please, please do not explain to me what the hell that was,” Slick said, shaking his head. “I really, really do not want to have context for whatever the hell just happened there.”
“You’re in luck, Slick,” Anne said. “I don’t think any of us could properly explain it.”
“I’d certainly believe that. So…now what?” Slick shrugged. “He just went to, like, 1650 or something. How do we stop him if we were born centuries after where he is now?”
“He raises a point,” Greybeard interjected. “Even I was barely a lad in that year. There’s no way to reach him now.”
“I would not be too sure,” I said, deep in thought.
“Not too sure?” Jack questioned. “Did you invent a time machine at some point?”
“No, but if I got a chance to study Celebi, I might as well.” I closed my eyes and began relaying the thoughts I was having. “Jack, he came in at some point during his attempt to jeer at us in the boiler room, correct?”
“Well…yeah, but what does that have to do with anything?” he asked, confused.
“Simple. He would only have done that after he was absolutely confident in his victory, after he had successfully set up his little puzzles for us. We may still have a chance to catch him up!”
“But that already happened!” Jack cried. “How does this brilliant revelation help us at all?”
“When he disappeared, he had to have gone somewhere,” I said. “And very likely, it was in that same place, just later in the day so that he could make his escape assured.”
Jack considered this, and realized the point. “Larch, may I say again that you’re a genius?”
“I would not object,” I said, grinning.
“Wait, you’re saying there’s still a way to catch this guy?” Monroe asked, curiosity now piqued.
“Indeed. We must all return to the ship and begin a plan to catch this fellow once and for all!”
“Hell yeah!” Slick yelled. “Let’s kick this guy’s ass!”
“I like the way you think,” Anne said. “About how thoroughly are we talking, here?”
“Oh, don’t worry, I definitely meant as thoroughly as we possibly can.”
“Will you two calm down?” I warned. “We do not actually have him yet, we still have to find him once he returns in the future.”
“What happens if he doesn’t show up again?” Monroe asked. “We’ll have just wasted our time!”
“Don’t worry, he will show up,” I assured him.
“And just how do you know that?” Monroe seemed very unconvinced indeed.
“I have a feeling that, in his own confidence, he has caused nothing but his own downfall. Now, then, if we all are to catch this person, we must have a plan. I was thinking…”
I shall spare the exact details of the plan, since it involved much discussion and contradiction that is not likely to inspire great interest, and instead shall move straight to when we got a chance to enact it.
Naturally, I was situated in the boiler room where we expected Wolfgang to show up again, Slick by my side to help me when the time inevitably came.
“Right here, you said?” he asked, pointing to the space beside the door.
“Indeed. And he will not be prepared for our little plan…”
“I still say this idea is ridiculous,” Slick said.
“Oh, who asked you?” I said. “This is going to work excellently, I assure you. We shall be victorious yet!”
“If you say so.” Slick rolled his eyes and leaned back against the wall, seeming very ready to fall asleep. “Wake me up when he decides to come back.”
I smirked and turned back to the spot, and my eyes widened as I noticed an impressive gleam starting to form.
“Slick!” I cried, shaking him out of his nap. “Here we go!”
Soon, Wolfgang materialized once more, Celebi by his side, and he honestly seemed quite pleased with himself until he noticed us.
“What are you doing here?!” he yelled, recoiling in horror.
“You’re not the only one who can figure out how time works, buddy,” Slick said, grinning and rushing towards him, claws out. Wolfgang, to some credit, dodged the blow, but his attempt to counter it failed as Slick turned suddenly, smacking Wolfgang with his tail, and with impressive force as well. Wolfgang recoiled, but soon enough recovered and produced a quick series of devastating strikes, which Slick was barely able to counter. After a few moments of this combat, Wolfgang fumbled slightly, allowing Slick a chance to punch him square in the gut, and retrieve a few items from with his pockets as well.
“Good going, Slick!” I cried. “Quickly, officers, in here!”
Wolfgang stopped in shock, giving Slick a chance to grab Celebi and put it off to the side.
“You just stay there, you…thing,” he said. The creature complied, seeming confused about its surroundings.
“Hey!” Wolfgang yelled, looking at him and the door several times, soon deciding it was better to make his exit. He rushed down the hall, and I smiled, as he would soon find out what was going on. I glanced at slick, and we walked out into the hall to watch the proceedings.
“Damn it!” Wolfgang cried, finding Monroe, whom we had put at the end of the hall. They quickly started a chase, Wolfgang desperately trying not to get caught. We moved to the side as he ran past us, and after Monroe did as well, we joined in.
“You shall never catch me!” Wolfgang cried, looking back at us. He soon reached the hallway’s end, but since he was still facing back at us, he failed to notice that Bill, ever imposing, had just stepped into the doorway at the other end. “I am absolutely brilliant—CHRIST!” Noticing Bill at last, he ground to a halt, realizing there was no way out.
“Give it up, Larry!” Monroe demanded, pulling out his gun and taking aim. “You’re surrounded! Come with me peacefully or I will use force!”
Wolfgang merely sneered in response. “Do you really think I am just going to give up now, you fools?”
“Given that there’s a fire-breathing dragon right behind you,” Slick said, “I would think so.”
“You think I fear this great idiot?” Wolfgang started to laugh, strangely amused by this business. “You are the most incompetent band of nincompoops I have ever known in my life! With all those-trumped up stories about how you saved Kanto time after time, I was expecting you to be some great, accomplished individual! But I give you the slightest challenge, and you crumble like a dirt house! You are an utter embarrassment and I am ashamed to have ever called you my rival!”
“Is that so?” I asked, feigning innocence. “Well, what are you going to do about that, what with your great genius and all?”
Wolfgang smiled. “I still have one smoke grenade left, Larch!” He reached for his pocket, but found it terribly empty, and soon realized his PokeBalls were missing as well.
“What—where—how did you…”
“Looking for these?” Slick asked, holding up the stolen items. “I took ‘em in our little scuffle back there. Sleight of hand is a useful thing indeed!” Wolfgang’s eyes widened in shock as he realized he was now missing his greatest advantages.
“Return those at once, you filthy cretin!”
“Well, if you’re going to insult me, I don’t see any reason why I ought to give you these back. In fact…I’ll just get rid of them!”
“What?” I asked. My answer came in the form of Slick turning around and throwing the objects as far down the hall as he could, eliciting gasps of shock from not only Wolfgang, but me as well. The grenade went off very quickly, filling the hallway with that damnable smoke. Luckily, however, we were far enough away that the smoke did not much affect us. Still, it provided a great distraction, not to mention a massive deviation from the original plot.
“Slick!” I cried. “What the hell are you doing? This was not in the plan!”
“Your plan was stupid!” Slick said, grabbing the shocked Wolfgang by the collar and slamming him against the wall. “We have him right here, let’s just arrest him already and get this whole thing over with, once and for all!”
“Set him down!” Monroe demanded. “I’ll take care of this from here.”
Slick reluctantly complied, putting Wolfgang on the floor, allowing Monroe to put a pair of handcuffs on him at last.
“What do we do about those Pokémon of his?” I asked, looking back at the cleared smoke and the two PokeBalls lying there.
“I’ll take those into police custody,” Monroe explained, pulling Wolfgang back up. “We can handle this from here.”
“I will escape!” Wolfgang cried as Monroe read out his rights. “Do not try to deceive yourself otherwise!”
“Oh, don’t worry, Wolfgang von Whatever, you’re getting an extra-special cell for sure. Illegal possession of weaponry, assault and battery, resisting arrest…you’re going away for a while, if you get my drift.”
“Wait, that’s it?” Bill asked, scratching his head. “I didn’t even get to do anything!”
“What’d he say?” Monroe asked.
“He was saying he did not actually get to take his part in the plan, Slick.”
“Hey, I just saved us a lot of time and trouble. You really ought to be thanking me for that.”
“Remind me to give you a medal later,” I said, frowning. “Honestly, it was a very good plan!”
“It was way too complicated and he probably would have just gotten away again if we did it your way!”
“You have absolutely no way of knowing that!” I cried, stepping closer.
“Maybe we ought to use that Celebi thing and see!”
“That would not work! We are in a stable time loop, the plan would always go the same way! Do you people just not understand how this works?”
“What the hell is going on here?” Jack asked, pushing past Bill with the mop he was holding and stepping in next to us. “Wait, you caught him already? I didn’t even get a chance to beat him up with this mop!”
“See, completely unnecessary,” Slick admonished. “There was absolutely no reason for Jack to beat him up with a mop, Monroe just arrested him without it!”
Jack looked at the mop, then back at me. “Hey, yeah, that’s a good point, Larch. What the hell is this for?”
“You were going to hit me with that?” Wolfgang asked, his true voice coming through in his fear.
“Well, now I’m not. I kind of wanted to.” Jack threw the mop to the ground, scowling. “Damn it, that would have been fun!”
Wolfgang gaped in horror, but shook it off and looked to me. “I shall let you have your victory for now, Larch, but mark my words, I shall return to you in Unova.”
“We’ll see about that,” Monroe said, pulling him away.
“Did we get him?” Anne asked, pushing inside the corridor as well. “Because I really don’t see what point that whole ‘bucket full of paint’ thing offered to the table.”
I attempted to stammer out some defense, while Jack and Slick crossed their arms and glared at me.
“Okay, I admit it!” I said at last. “A fair amount of this plan was just so I could humiliate him because I was a bit annoyed.”
“A bit?” Jack asked. “He’s been ****ing around with you since, what, Silph Co.?” He stepped closer to me and put his hand around my shoulder, looking me dead in the eye. “Quite frankly, Larch, if making him look like an idiot was your intention for most of this plan over catching him…well, it’s pretty redundant, given the costume, but that would definitely be something I can get behind. I assumed everything in this whole plan of yours was aimed at getting him arrested.”
“Well, now he has been arrested, thank god, so we can at last put this behind us and go to Unova.”
“I already told you, I’m trying to get away from that place!” Slick yelled. “I don’t want to go back!”
“Well…look, how bad can it possibly be?” Anne asked, genuinely confused.
“Hm…it’s not so much ‘bad’ as it is just…weird, actually. Really, really weird. Maybe I can deal with it, I dunno…”
“Look,” I interjected, “the point is, we won, this is behind us now, and we would do well to get to Unova so I can finally deliver my presentation. By the way, where has Ralph ended up?”
“Guys?” the aforementioned called from somewhere in the ship. “What’s going on? Where is he?”
“Never mind, Ralph, we have him already,” I called back. “I shall go talk to the captain, and then return Greybeard.”
I immediately set off, heading back for the boiler room to retrieve Celebi. To my eternal relief, it was still there, and seemed somewhat distraught.
“I’m sorry!” it, or more properly, he cried. “I’ve been really confused these past few…uh…look, I’ve just been out of it ever since I ate those bad berries in the 1600’s!”
“I see.” I smiled, attempting to reassure him. “Look, I have no qualms against you for this whole business. We have all made mistakes, though I must ask why you followed that man’s instruction.”
Celebi shrugged. “I dunno, I just thought he knew what was going on and that he would be able to help me. Who was that guy, anyway?”
“A very strange person, I think would be the nice way to put it. Come, you really ought to put Greybeard back in his proper time period.”
“Oh, yeah, that,” Celebi agreed. “Where is he?”
“Waiting above deck, for you.”
“Oh, that’s good.” He slowly floated to the door, but paused and turned back to me. “You don’t seem that interested in me. A lot people would absolutely freak if they found me, even just a glance, and you’re holding a conversation! What gives?”
I smiled. “Oh, believe me, I am quite fascinated by this, but unfortunately, I have business elsewhere, as I am sure you do as well. I do fully plan on studying you at some point, though. It would be a terrible shame to let such a vast scientific opportunity go to waste.”
Celebi huffed. “You wouldn’t be the first to try. I’ve never once been captured, so what makes you think you’d be able to?”
“I spent several months catching a Shaymin. Quite the achievement, if I may say so.”
“A Shaymin?” Celebi nodded in approval. “Not bad. Those guys are pretty tough to find. But I’m not going easy on you if you do come back.”
“I would have it no other way. Come, we should really get Greybeard back as soon as possible.”
After getting the whole group back together and talking to the captain of the ship, who had kindly provided one of the lifeboats to take Celebi and Greybeard back over to Greybeard’s galleon, we five were leaning against the bannisters, alongside a few other people who had come out to see the antique ship’s return, waving as it sailed off into the distance. Of course, some of us were more enthused with the proceedings than others…
“Bye!” Anne called. “We’ll miss you!”
“We will?” Jack asked, turning to her.
“I didn’t really know you so I have no frame of reference at all!” Slick yelled.
“This was ridiculous,” Ralph said, quietly.
“Well…it’s over.” I said. “Wolfgang is in prison, Greybeard is finally going back to his time, and we are on our way to Unova at last. I would say this has been quite a productive day.”
We were all silenced as the old galleon disappeared in a massive green flash, Greybeard finally back where he belonged. The crowd dispersed, but we remained there, looking out on the boundless sea for some time, wondering what new opportunities would await us soon.
“I think we should retire,” I said, as the sun was beginning to set. “The ship sets off again in the morning, and we should all be rested in the event something should happen.”
“Sounds good to me,” Slick said. Although everybody else left for their rooms, I stayed a bit longer, as did Jack, both of us staring out at the sunset.
“So, now what?” he asked.
“Easy.” I answered. “We head to Unova.”
“Is anything involving you gonna be easy?”
“Likely not, but frankly, I am glad if it would not be. These past few days…I have never felt more alive, or accomplished. I thought I had lost my drive, my muse, but now, with all that has happened, I feel like I can do anything.”
“You probably could, if you wanted to. By the way…it is pretty goddamn sweet that you caught that Shaymin, I have to admit.”
“Yeah. I’m not sure if I could have done that, I just got lucky with that Latias.”
“Come now, Jack, you sell yourself short! Catching such a thing is no small achievement, not even slightly. We have both accomplished fairly impressive things in our time.”
“Yeah, but you’ve done more in the past week than most people do in their lives.”
“Worry not, Jack, if you stick around with me, your chance to shine is frankly inevitable.”
“Probably is. I’m going to my room. You coming?”
“Soon. I think I shall stay out here a bit longer.”
Jack made his exit, leaving me to stand there and consider all that had happened and would happen. Next was Unova, and even I was not prepared for what would happen there…
END OF PART TWO
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
For several days after that, we travelled aboard the massive steel ship, parting the great waves and bridging the final gap. Hour after hour, we inched ever closer and closer to that goal that once had seemed so far away: Unova, the largest country on the planet, where I would at last unveil my greatest creation and finally earn my proper respect. But such respect could not come without fair effort besides mere invention, no, I had to sell my creation to the masses! And sell I would, as I had not only put together a fairly in-depth presentation, which I would further fine-tune later on, but had several satisfied individuals to provide testimony. My work on it was cut short as an announcement finally came through the ship’s intercom, revealing what I had been awaiting for some time: “Attention, passengers, we are now approaching Black City. Please prepare to unboard.”
“About time!” I cried when I heard this beautiful news, getting up and making my way to the bow so I could observe our final approach. “I had almost gone made with everybody kissing up to me!”
“I can’t especially mind that,” Jack said, stepping up next to me. I noticed that he was wearing the translator I had built for him during the wait, a nice development. “Nothing wrong with people recognizing that you kicked ass.”
“Perhaps you are simply more used to it than I.” We continued walking out, stopping before a massive crowd upon the ship’s bow. Despite the mass of people, we could still see an unimaginably beautiful sight: Black City, its massive skyline ever growing upon the horizon.
“My God,” I said, removing my glasses, “have you ever seen such a sight?”
“I have, but never like this.” Jack turned to me, a massively wide smile upon his face. “We made it, Larch! Son of a *****, we made it!”
“You’re not there yet,” Anne said, pushing out from the crowd. “We still have to dock and unload. Anything could happen then.”
“Anne, what could possibly happen? Wolfgang is rightfully in prison, we have everything in order for the presentation…honestly, I have never felt so ready!”
“Don’t forget, Slick did mention weird stuff’s been going on. That could still come back and bite us in the ass at some point.”
“But aboard the ship, Anne?” I asked. “It is frankly too great a stretch. You do raise a good point, though, we should be prepared for when something silly happens.”
“I can help out with that,” Slick offered, stepping in as well. “I know I’ve been kind of vague, but I think I’ve figured out how to describe what’s been going on lately.”
“Well?” I asked, stepping closer to him. “What is it?”
“It’s like…have you ever felt like you’re being watched? Or followed around by somebody?”
I shrugged. “Of course I have. I would say probably everybody in the world has felt something along those lines at some point or another.”
“But usually, it goes away after you look over your shoulder or something, right?” He shook his head. “Not with me. For the past…six months, I’d guess, something’s been following me around, and I have no idea what it could be or why.”
“Are you sure you are not simply paranoid?” I asked.
“Larch!” Anne scolded. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
I shot her a disbelieving look, but turned back to Slick. “Who would want to follow you, and why?”
Slick shrugged, evidently knowing the answer as well as I did. “Honestly, for as dashing and fascinating as I am, I don’t know who would want to see it all the time. But it’s not just that, everybody in Unova has seemed really paranoid too.”
“Them as well?” I asked. “Curiouser and curiouser… do you have any idea why they have been?”
“It had something to do with the border opening, I’ll bet,” Jack suggested. “They’ve been cut off from the outside world for a while, and they’ve probably had all sorts of stories going around about how everybody from foreign countries wants to blow them up or something ridiculous.”
“Hey, yeah, now that you mention it, the day they announced that the border would open back up was about the time that guy started following me!” Slick reasoned, his eyes widening. “Something is most definitely up here.”
“Something may be up, you mean,” I corrected. “We still do not know if you have actually been followed or not. Have you had that feeling ever since you left Unova?”
Slick thought for a moment. “Now that you mention it, no I haven’t. Maybe he gave up?”
“Or perhaps he is waiting for your return,” I suggested.
“If he even exists,” Jack said. “Come on, let’s find Ralph and get our stuff so we can get off of this boat. I’m starting to get claustrophobic on this thing.”
“Now, there is something we can all agree on!” I said.
Ralph was quite easily found at the upper observation deck, looking at the oncoming city, and from there it was a simple matter to collect our things and make our way to the exit.
“All right, people,” I said as we approached the dock, luggage in hand. “Let us do this!”
“I wonder how the natives are gonna react,” Slick mused. “I don’t know how excited they’re gonna be about this ship coming in.”
“Oh, relax, I am sure it will be absolutely fine!” Indeed, as we came nearer to the dock, it became obvious that there was actually a throng of screaming people, waving all sorts of banners about, a series of dividers forming a canyon between them. “See? They are absolutely euphoric!”
“Wait, what’s that say?” Jack asked, leaning in to get a closer look at the streamers flying about. “Welcome…Larch?”
I started, surprised at such an implication. “What are you talking about, Jack?”
“Look!” he said, pointing to the mob. “I think they’re waiting for you!”
Indeed, as I took a closer look, many of the banners bore my name, although on several of them the spelling was rather questionable. Of course, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth, and it was quite a nice thing to see that the excitement over my announcement was quite widespread.
“When did you get so popular?” Ralph asked, also quite surprised.
“Perhaps they have heard of my impressive exploits and are wondering what brilliant technology I have for them?” I thought aloud. Anne glared at me, but said nothing.
Slowly, we approached the dock until the intercom came to life once again. “Passengers, we have entered Black City. Please be ready to unload from the ship in ten minutes,” it blared. Evidently, the crowd below us heard it as well, as they started cheering quite loudly indeed.
“This is somewhat alarming,” I noted. “Surely there is some sort of crowd control present here beyond those barriers?”
“Yeah, there is, look!” Slick pointed to a series of black trucks at the back of the crowd, which had gone unnoticed in the morass of people. “Damn, that’s pretty heavy duty stuff, there. I think it might be official government guys.”
“Governmental enforcement?” I asked. “Why would that even remotely be necessary here?”
“That’s why,” Ralph said, pointing to a motorcade that had just pulled in. Numerous police cars and bikes, sirens all blaring, were protecting what was clearly the presidential limousine, the famous Unovan flag somehow associated with any available space on it. As it made its way through, the crowd grew more and more excited, until eventually it pulled in just in front of where we would exit off the ship.
“Does the president want to see me?” I wondered. “I wouldn’t have thought myself this popular…”
“Nobody would, Larch,” Jack said. “This is really getting weird.”
“Uh, please wait a moment, folks,” the intercom blared, “we seem to have a personal request from President Greeley. Can Berkeley Larch and his group please make their way down to the president’s limousine?”
We all looked at each other, and hesitated to do anything, confused by this sudden development. Soon, though, Ralph broke the pause and took a tentative step, making his way down the stairs with us in pursuit. The crowd saw us, and began cheering even wilder as we made our way down. I attempted a few waves, while Jack and Slick quite readily made their joy known, and it only seemed to make the crowd even more excited.
“Why isn’t the security doing anything about this?” Anne said, barely above the noise surrounding us.
“They have not actually done anything yet,” I noted. “I do not know how much longer that is going to last, though.”
As we stepped off onto the main dock, several people attempted to rush towards us, but thankfully by that time several security workers had made their way towards the front and were able to prevent them from doing anything off. While the tide of people was barely being dammed, an imposing, quite handsome man in a very expensive-looking suit exited the limousine, waving to the crowd and impossibly rousing them further.
“Holy ****, is that President Greeley?” Jack asked, impressed.
“If he is, that must be the vice president,” Anne said, referring to a slightly shorter, much older man who had just gotten out as well. His presence did not seem to rouse the crowd as much, but he still seemed to know exactly what he was doing. The two leaders, having had their fill of praise, walked over to us, surrounded by a practical army of agents, one of whom had a miniature x-ray scanner of some description.
“Here they come, mind the protocol!” I said, and we all straightened up in respect. The agent paused their movement, and quickly looked us over, finding nothing of threat. Satisfied in his safety, Greeley and the vice president walked up to Ralph, who was currently at the front of our group.
“Mr. Berkeley Larch!” he incorrectly said, grabbing Ralph’s hand and shaking it vigorously. Although Ralph was naturally baffled, the president continued to greet him. “It’s a great honor to meet you, sir, your invention is absolutely incredible, and we’ll be very glad to have you present it in our greatest city!”
“Uh, sir?” I interrupted. “This is Ralph. I would be Professor Berkeley Larch.”
Greeley stammered, but shook it off and stepped to me, followed by his vice president. “Mr. Berkeley Larch!” He took my hand as well and shook it rather less vigorously, seeming somewhat embarrassed. “I’m sure you already heard the good news about our fine country from your friend there.”
“Indeed, I have.” I attempted a smile, but felt something was off about this whole business. “This is quite a lot of pomp and circumstance merely to greet me.”
“Well, you did come up with one of the greatest scientific advancements in human history, not to mention everything you’ve done in the last week,” Greeley explained. “Most people would consider what you’ve done impossible.”
“So I’ve heard. Extensively.”
“Genius is rarely recognized in its time. Is this your entourage we’ve heard so much about?”
I looked back at them, and turned back to Greeley. “Indeed, they are. That fellow you mistook for me is Ralph, and this is Anne, Jack, and Slick,” I said, pointing to each of them in turn.
Greeley smiled. “Well, then, I suppose I might as well introduce my vice president, Mr. Zerus.” He pointed at the man beside him, who waved his hand at us. “Believe me, I’m greatly honored to meet all of you. You’re all heroes.”
“I haven’t done anything yet, though,” Slick noted.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll get your chance,” the vice president chimed in. Slick glared at him, but said nothing as he and Greeley walked off before he had a chance to, us gladly following him.
“Naturally, you’re considered personal guests of the country, so we’ve already set up everything for you as long as you’re here. You’ll receive the finest penthouse in the best hotel in the city, a personal assistant, and full access to anything you could possibly want.”
“This is certainly some kingly treatment!” Slick said. “You don’t hold back much, do you?”
“Here in Unova, we always go all out when we can,” Greeley explained as we approached the limousine. “Especially for such esteemed individuals as yourself.”
“Well, thank you,” I said as the chauffeur opened the door, revealing an impressive stately interior with room enough for all of us. “You certainly do know how to make a greeting.”
“When you’re in my line of business, you have to.” We all entered the limousine, impressed by its splendor. Greeley and Zerus sat towards the front, still surrounded by the agents, while we took the back, myself sitting at the head, directly across from one of the most powerful men in the world. Soon, we were off among the cheers of the crowd outside, and although we did make some pleasant conversation, Slick was obviously quite suspicious of the whole proceedings, constantly glancing and glaring at the leaders.
The motorcade made its way through the city streets, several people pointing it out as we delved deeper within the concrete and steel jungle that was Black City.
“As you might obviously guess,” Greeley explained, “we are one of the most prosperous nations in the entire world, and this city right here is the center of it. From Heere Street comes the stocks, the banks, the largest of corporations. Behind the Hall of Parliament, it’s likely the single most important spot in all of Unova. I doubt any of you have much interest in going there, though.”
“I never was one for economics, myself,” I said. “Far too confusing a business.”
“I understand the feeling.” Greeley chuckled, and we all felt somewhat obliged to do the same, though it was still clear that Slick very much wanted to be somewhere else.
“I imagine that a lot goes on in this city, of course?” I asked.
“Oh, naturally,” Zerus said, smiling. “Don’t worry, I’m sure that despite all you’ve gone through in the last week, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in our city.”
“Of course,” Greeley interrupted, “with such incredible prosperity comes incredible luxury, and as such, I’m very proud to present…the DeMatlio Grand!”
I looked around, but saw nothing that would require such a presentation, nor did we stop for such. Greeley looked around, and coughed into his hand.
“I said…the DeMatlio Grand!” Again, we did not stop, and Greeley turned around, pulling open the divider between him and the chauffer. “Why aren’t we stopping?” he demanded, agitated.
“We’re not at the DeMatlio yet,” the driver called back, agitated as well. “Traffic’s a ***** this time a day. It’s even worse now that everybody’s trying to get down to the dock.”
“Oh.” Greeley looked back at us, once more embarrassed, and then went back to the driver. “Well…okay, that’ll have to wait, but it is impressive, trust me.”
“The DeMatlio,” Ralph interjected, “I think I’ve heard of that. Isn’t that one of the tallest buildings in the city?”
“Indeed, and you’ll be right at the top, in one of the grandest penthouses in the world!”
“Oh, boy, really?” Slick asked, rubbing his stomach. “I really don’t like heights.”
“Don’t worry, the room comes equipped with parachutes,” Greeley joked. Slick did not seem to appreciate it much, as his face quite literally turned a shade of green.
We continued to make awkward conversation as we made our way to the hotel proper, the buildings on either side of the limo progressively getting taller and taller as we plunged into the very heart of the city.
“Are we there?” Greeley asked as we eventually pulled to a stop. “Oh, thank god. Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the Dematlio!”
We all turned to the right, and stared in awe at the massive structure outside, which was very nearly as large as the Silph Co. building, and much prettier in its design, recalling the classic Art Deco style that grew to popularity in this very city. It was so massive, it was actually rather difficult to see the very top from the windows we were provided.
“That is one hell of a building,” Jack said, whistling.
“And we’re at the top of it?” Slick asked. “Don’t they have a kennel or something?”
“I could never put one of my guests in a kennel,” Greeley said, waving his hand. “Shall I show you inside?”
“I should not like to impose, Mr. President. Surely you have other things to be doing?” I asked.
“Perhaps, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some foreign diplomacy.”
“You are certainly putting a great effort into it,” I noted.
“Like I said, we never hold back in Unova. Come on, let’s go in.”
Our now quite large group exited the limousine and pushed through the crowd that had amassed outside and entered the frankly beautiful foyer, whose massive carpet was probably worth more than I made in a month, and a chandelier as large as my bedroom that was likely worth more than I made in a whole year. Several very rich-looking people stood inside, milling about and making light conversation about stocks or whatever it is those sorts of people make conversation about, but all of them paused to look at the president of their country as he walked up to the front desk, a gigantic, intricate slab of mahogany with numerous people manning the state-of-the-art computers atop it.
“Hello?” he asked one of the receptionists, a wiry-looking younger fellow who seemed to have just been hired. He turned to face Greeley and seemed shocked as he did so. “I have a reservation under the name Larch.”
“Uh, yes, hold on just a second, your highness…” the receptionist stammered, quickly hiding behind the safety of the monitor and pulling up the necessary information. “Ah, yes, we do have a reservation for four people and a Pokémon, along with a personal valet and all the hotel’s accommodations.”
I flushed at hearing the treatment we would receive. “Mr. President, this is really not necessary!” I cried, but he waved me off.
“I understand that this may seem excessive, but you’re one of the most important people we’ve had come in since the border opened up, and I want to leave a good impression.”
“Well, you have certainly done a good job at that!” I said.
“I’m glad to hear it.” Greeley smiled, and turned to leave us to ourselves. “I trust you have a handle on it from here?” he asked, looking back at us.
“I think we do,” Jack said, smiling.
“Enjoy your stay!” Zerus said, very, very cheerful indeed.
“Uh, your valet will show you to your room, sirs,” the receptionist said, tossing me the room’s keycard. “You’ll need to take the elevator up.”
“Oh, great, an elevator,” Slick said, “this just gets better and better!”
“Slick, calm down,” Anne warned. “This is a perfectly safe building, you have nothing to be afraid of.”
“Except falling off, a building fire, a home invader…”
“I assure you, sir, none of that is going to happen in this hotel!” a fellow, presumably our valet, said, stepping up behind me and nearly causing me to jump out of my skin.
“Jesus!” I said, turning to get a good look at him. He was a very tall, cheerful man, dressed like the most stereotypical butler imaginable, though he was much younger than the common portrayal. “Were you trying to give me a heart attack?” I asked, recoiling.
“Sorry about that, sir, I just noticed you with the president. Shall I show you to the suite?”
“I suppose you shall,” I said, recovering. “Just…warn me next time, all right? Bloody hell…”
“Good, just give your luggage to the bellhop and we’ll take it right up.” He pointed to another man, standing next to one of those odd golden cages they use. We all put what luggage we had inside, and he immediately carted it off somewhere to bring it up.
“Are you ready, then?” the valet asked, quite eager.
“I think I might well be, at least somewhat.” I said.
He nodded and began walking to one of the many elevators lining the wall, an impressive pair of silver doors.
“I’m impressed so far,” Jack said. “Even the elevators are spotless.”
“Here at the DeMatlio, we like to make sure everything is as perfect as possible for our clientele,” the valet explained, pressing the button to call the elevator down. “Can’t make a bad impression when you’re dealing with the finest people in the world, now, can we?”
“Personally, I would not refer to myself as one of the finest people in the world, but if you say so,” I said, warming up to this whole idea.
“The president himself filled out your reservation, sir. You must be pretty important.”
I smiled, as the elevator finally reached the bottom. “Indeed, I must be.”
We all stepped inside, finding the interior quite nice, the bottom half being all red velvet, and the top being that same excellent mahogany.
“Your suite is on the 74th floor,” the valet said, pressing said button. “The highest suite has already been reserved by somebody else.”
“And who would that be?” I asked.
“Ah!” I said, excited. “That is actually quite good for me, then. We can discuss production of my translator after my presentation.”
“Damn, you’re moving up in the world!” Jack said, as we did, indeed, start to go up.
“I still have a rather difficult time believing it myself,” I said. “But here I am, heading for what I am sure is an excellent suite.”
“Oh, you won’t be disappointed,” the valet said. “Not at all.”
Thus, we made our way further and further up the hotel, eventually reaching our destination. As the door opened, we found ourselves in a hallway lined with similar elevators on one side and a great set of doors on the other.
“Your suite awaits,” the valet said, pointing at the doors. I took out the keycard and looked it over, now seeing it was made of genuine gold and reflected the light as if it were a laser pointer. I looked the doors up and down, and then slid the card through the slot to their right, revealing an incredible sight. “Bloody hell.” I whispered.
It was truly a massive suite, taking up almost the entire floor. Two large pillars were located in its center, obviously to prevent the ceiling from collapsing into the spacious room. There was another set of doors on the opposite side, the other walls having great windows that provided an astonishing view of the city. Also within was every luxury imaginable and then some. Massive bedrooms, a fully equipped Jacuzzi system, a massive entertainment system, plush carpeting, huge windows…it was the ultimate symbol of excess, and I had never been more excited for something.
“Holy ****,” Jack said, stepping out inside the room, admiring the thick carpeting. “This is one hell of a room! I’m glad I stuck with you guys!”
“Me too!” Slick said, excitedly running out, though he paused when he noticed the skyline of the city from the impressive windows. “Okay, starting to question that decision,” he said, backing up against the wall to safety.
“Relax, would you?” Anne said, stepping inside and staring in awe. “I mean, look at this place! This is incredible!”
“I never would have imagined such an impressive accommodation,” I said. “I honestly do not know how to thank him.”
“I don’t think you would be able to do that in your lifetime,” Jack said. “Not unless you save Unova somehow. Knowing you, you probably will!”
“There is not much doubt about that.”
“Oh, those rooms look fantastic,” Ralph said, finally putting in his part. He rushed over to one of them, leapt in the bed, and immediately fell asleep atop the covers.
“Uh…” the valet trailed off. “Will you be needing anything else?”
“Well, I would kind of like to take Slick down so we can look for that hat of his,” Anne said.
“Down?” Slick asked, perking up. “Oh, thank god, the ground!”
“Quit being so dramatic, would you?” Anne requested. Slick deflated slightly, but went with her anyway, stepping outside and past the bellhop who had just arrived with our things. “Excuse me!”
“Sorry about that,” he said, entering the room and leaving our things there, quickly taking exit.
“Sweet, our stuff!” Jack said, looking over it. “Yep, all there. Good service, too.” He thought for a moment, and realized he also had some business. “I think I’ll go do some research about the Pokémon around here. Might as well know if there are any legendaries around here, right?” He left as well, leaving me alone with Ralph’s sleeping form and the valet as well.
“Sir?” he asked, leaning in expectantly.
“Oh, no, I will be fine, that is all. I need to work on my presentation.”
He nodded and left, closing the doors shut behind him with a loud slam, though Ralph remained asleep. I pulled out my luggage and searched through it, quickly finding my laptop. I chose a room for myself, walked to the bed, and sat upon it, opening up the presentation and setting to work on it, quite serene. Little did I know what events would transpire next…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Almost alone within the confines of my plush room, I was able to, for once, work in peace, no sounds or bizarre little interruptions to distract me from my work. As such, I was able to complete the entire presentation, and then go back and adjust a few things within to truly perfect it. Even by that time, my friends had yet to return, giving me the run of the place. I stepped outside of my room and saw that Ralph was still well asleep, and I considered my options. There was little in the city that might have interested me, and going all the way out to what did and back probably would have taken far too long to be reasonable. The rooms, of course, did have their own entertainment systems, which might have been a valid option, assuming there was anything there I wanted to watch that did not have a fee associated with it, which was quite unlikely.
While I considered my options, I noticed a slight glint on one of the pillars in the center of the great room and walked over to it. I attempted to affirm myself that what I was seeing could not possibly have been, but there it sat: a small listening device of some sort, obviously very high-end. My first guess was that the hotel had placed it there to keep an eye on what was going on within their more expensive rooms, but dismissed that notion when I realized no company, regardless of how wealthy they were, would have access to such technology as this. No, this was a government plant, and clearly one intended for us.
“What is the meaning of this?” I wondered, pulling it off and observing it carefully. It was barely the size of a pea, and it seemed to small to transmit any data of worth, but I recognized the recent advancements in satellite technology might well have allowed for such a device to function, especially if it belonged to the military higher-ups.
Silently, I searched around the room to see if I could find anything else suspicious, coming up with nothing. Having collected some data, I reentered my room and took a seat, trying to connect it into a coherent whole.
“Obviously, somebody wants to hear what we have to say,” I said, “but to what end? And why was it placed in the main room when we are more likely to stay in our own…aha!” I leapt up and crossed to the entertainment system, looking it over and finding another listening device of the same type. “Then they have bugged all of our rooms! Do you hear that, whoever you are? I am onto you!” I thought for a moment, and snapped my fingers as I realized who was responsible for this. “Greeley. Of course, this has all been far too convenient. You obviously set this up so that you could steal our secrets and use them for your own good. Likely, you were already planning to assassinate me before I could give my presentation and then take the credit for yourself, or one of your lackeys. Well, bad news: you are hardly the greatest foe I have faced.” I set the listeners down and began rifling through my luggage, looking for any tool that might be appropriate. Soon, I found one: a tiny pair of tweezers, useful for connecting wires…or removing things. Retrieving the listeners, I set about taking them apart and removing the batteries, rendering them worthless but still intact, so as to provide useful evidence in the future. Soon, the tiny metal cylinders were out, and the listeners nothing more than very fancy, expensive hunks of metal. I then proceeded to go through the rest of the rooms and do the same thing there, careful not to wake Ralph up, eventually producing a grand total of six disabled listeners, more than sufficient proof of some sort of conspiracy at work.
“Well, there it is, then,” I said, putting the devices in my pocket. “Now what?”
My answer came when the door opened, and in walked Jack, carrying an impressive bag of various trainer items.
“Jack!” I said, glad to see him.
“Oh, Berkeley, you’re still here?” he asked, setting his things down. “Man, I’ve been in town, and you would not believe the **** they have in there! Luxury Balls, Ultra Balls, every kind of poffin you can think of…it’s paradise!”
“I would imagine,” I said, stepping closer. “Can I see you in my room?”
“Uh…Larch, I’m not really into that sort of thing.”
I scoffed. “You know what I meant, come on!” I grabbed his arm and pulled him inside, retrieving the listeners and showing them. “I found these throughout the suite. Somebody has been listening to us, and I am willing to bet it was Greeley.”
Jack looked at them and shook his head, surprised by such a thing. “Maybe…maybe they’re just a security measure? You know, to make sure we aren’t terrorists or anything?”
“I doubt that very much, Jack. Something is afoot, and I intend to find out what.”
“By doing what, causing an international incident?” Jack crossed his arms, unimpressed. “Larch, you can’t always save the day. Give it a rest, man, this isn’t healthy for a man your age.”
I frowned. “I am not about to let some foreign government conspiracy take hold of my privacy and use me as its pawn. No, Jack, I fully intend to get to the bottom of this, and I will not let you stop me. Remember what Slick said? Something funny is going on, and it may not just be me. This could be huge!”
“If it is huge, what makes you think you can stop it?” Jack demanded. “You’re just one man going up against what you think is a huge conspiracy! That won’t work! If I didn’t know any better, I would say you were wearing a tinfoil hat already!”
“Let us not stoop to petty insults again, Jack,” I warned. “Besides, unlike those types, I have concrete evidence that something is up.”
Jack looked me over, and softened up slightly. “Okay, look, if you are doing this, you’re going to get yourself killed if you don’t have any help. I’m not letting you go down alone.”
I smiled. “Thank you, Jack. That does really mean quite a lot.”
“Don’t get all teary-eyed on me, man, this is awkward enough already.”
“Sorry.” I turned back to the main door as I heard it open, revealing that Anne and Slick had returned as well. The former was carrying an even larger haul of trainer items than Jack had, and the latter was, as Anne had promised, wearing a very nice bowler hat with a red band, but had also secured a lovely monocle and a cane, both of which he likely had no need for.
“Hey, guys!” he greeted, walking over to us with a very noticeable swagger. “Don’t I look kickass?”
“You would have in 1850,” Jack said. “Seriously, why don’t you grow out some massive mutton chops while you’re at it?”
Slick glared at him, annoyed. “You’re just jealous because I look cooler than you.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.”
“Anne?” I interrupted, wanting to put a stop to this. “Could you please come over here?”
She set her massive pile of things down and did so, carefully observing what I had in my hand.
“What the hell are these?” she asked.
“Listening devices,” I explained. “I found them throughout the suite. Worry not, I already took the batteries out.”
“Who put them here?” Slick asked. “And more importantly, why?”
“I have reason to believe it was Greeley who did so, and as for the why…well, I have yet to figure that out.”
“I knew something was up!” Slick yelled. “It’s been the government after me this entire time! How long until they start frying my brain with microwave satellites?” He firmly grasped my shoulders, shaking me around like a madman. “How long, man?!”
“Get off of me, you lunatic!” I cried, pushing him away. He calmed down quickly, though still seemed somewhat frightened. “Look, we should not panic. Rather, we should collect the facts and then form a complete view of what is going on. Greeley being responsible for this is only an educated guess at this point. If we are to truly solve this, we must find out everything we can and then take action.”
“He’s right,” Jack said. “Greeley might not even be the center of this. There could be something even bigger than him going on here.”
“Who could be higher up than the president of the most powerful country on the planet?” Slick asked.
“A valid point,” I agreed. “I hold that Greeley is our best bet.”
“Okay, then, how do we find him, Mr. Professor?” Jack asked. “He’s probably miles away by now!”
I rubbed my chin, trying to come up with an answer to the question. “Anne, Slick, while you were in town, did you notice anything pointing to Greeley? Anything at all?”
“Wait, yeah, I think I saw something!” Slick piped up. “When we were by the city hall, there were a bunch of those suit guys waiting outside. Anne, do you remember?”
Anne thought for a moment. “Oh, yeah, those guys! I didn’t know what they were doing there, though, I got distracted by a trainer mart.”
“Whatever they were doing, Greeley is probably there. I say we head over there and get some answers!”
“What, just walk up to him and ask ‘Say, sir, you wouldn’t happen to have been spying on us?’” Jack asked. “Yeah, that’ll go well!”
I smirked. “No, Jack, we are going to play this a bit smarter. Slick, are you able to project your illusions to disguise others?”
“Uh…” Slick thought for a moment, fiddling with his hat. “I might be able to. No guarantees, though.”
“Well, come on, try!” Anne urged. “You won’t ever get anywhere if you don’t try!”
“Don’t platitude, Anne. All right, here goes!” Slick closed his eyes, and we all grew silent, waiting to see what would happen. It took a bit, but soon enough, we were awash in a red wave, and found ourselves looking exactly the same.
“What the hell?” I asked, looking around. “What happened?”
“Ah, that’s the trick!” Slick said, opening his eyes. “You’ll all look perfectly normal to yourselves, but to any outsiders, we’re completely different people! It took me quite some time to figure that out, let me tell you!”
“How do we know it worked?” Jack asked. His request was fulfilled as a freshly-woken Ralph, who seemed very refreshed, stepped out of his room and gawked at us.
“Why are there a bunch of Agent Smiths in my room?” he asked, baffled.
“Uh,” I began. “Ralph, I know this looks somewhat poor, but trust me, there is a good explanation for this.”
“Hold on, hold on,” Slick said, closing his eyes again and casting the same illusion on Ralph. His confusion was alleviated as we appeard normal once again, but now it was Jack that had the question.
“What was that about Agent Smith?” he asked.
“Well, you all looked like Agent Smith,” Ralph explained. “Kind of freaked me out for a minute there. I’m glad I wasn’t armed…”
“What?” I asked, shocked. I dismissed it, though, and turned to Slick. “Interesting choice for that. Why Agent Smith clones?”
“It’s easier for me to do that if you all look the same,” Slick explained. “Plus, now we fit in better with the whole speech thing going down.”
I raised an eyebrow. “That is quite clever, actually! Bravo, Slick!”
“Yeah. Shame the world won’t get to see how badass I look in this getup.”
“Sure…” Jack said. “So, now what? We just go downtown and get inside?”
“Sounds good to me,” Ralph said. “I think I should be the leader here, since I know how this sort of thing works.”
“Probably wise,” I said. “Any objections?”
“Well, I still say this is kind of a bad idea…” Jack began, “but I’m not about to let whatever’s going on here continue if I can help it. I’m in.”
“So am I,” Anne added. “I don’t like people spying on me.”
“Come on, let’s go.” Ralph began to walk out, but I stopped him.
“Hold on, we should turn the illusion off,” I said, giving him pause. “It would look odd for a bunch of identical service agents to just come out of the top floor.”
“Oh, right.” Slick snapped his fingers, and the illusion quickly dissipated, leaving us back to normal…at least, to anyone on the outside. “So…now we go?”
“Yes,” Ralph said, trying again. I had no objection this time, so we all followed, readying ourselves for what was ahead.
Soon, despite the valet’s incessant questioning about us needing anything, we were able to get into the lobby, putting us at least one step closer, but I still had an uncomfortable feeling.
“Does anybody feel as if they are still being watched?” I asked, looking around to see if there was anything suspicious. I saw nothing, but that may not have been much consolation.
“I don’t,” Jack said. “It wouldn’t be worth it to put observation down here if we only came down, like, once or twice.”
“But here we are, discussing our plans,” I said. “Clearly, it would be worth it because they could figure out what we are planning.”
“Not if we whisper!” Slick yelled.
“Or just don’t talk about it in here,” Anne said. “I mean, they can’t be monitoring everything in the city, right?”
“Well…probably not,” I said. “We should find an alleyway and then disguise ourselves. Stay away from prying eyes.”
We took our leave, but I still could not help but look back at the lobby before we completely exited, wondering if there was, indeed, somebody watching. I set that aside and continued out, though, still feeling uncomfortable.
To an outside observer, the sight of five identical Secret Service agents casually strolling out of an alley near the hotel was probably quite strange, though given the president’s presence, not entirely unexpected.
“Operation is go,” Anne said as we walked down the street in a group. “Prepare to convene at insertion point.”
“Anne, what the hell are you doing?” Jack asked.
“I’m trying to get into character!” she said back.
“You’re doing it wrong, then,” Ralph said. “We don’t need to convene, the operation hasn’t started yet, and that isn’t what insertion point means.”
“…smartass…” Anne muttered.
“You’ll blow our cover!” I said, trying to keep her down. “Getting into character here is undoubtedly valuable, but it should not jeopardize the mission!”
“A mission only involves one person, doesn’t it?” Jack asked.
“Well, technically, even an operation involves deployed forces, not civilians…”
“Are we really going to do a semantics debate in the middle of this business?” I asked. “Let us just call it a mission and be done with it.”
“But that wouldn’t be entirely accurate…” Slick started, but a glare from me quickly silenced him.
“Okay, Anne, tell us about the city hall,” I said, wanting to actually do something constructive. “Did you notice anything about it?”
“Well, there was a pretty big crowd around it, but they weren’t letting anybody in,” she said. “We might have some trouble.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll just make them let us in if they give us trouble,” Slick offered, rubbing his hands together.
“You can do that?!” I asked, alarmed. “I would not trust anybody with such power as that, much less you!”
“Hey, I’m very responsible with my abilities,” Slick said. “If you’re so annoyed at it, I could just make a fake government ID or something.”
“Do you know what they look like?” I asked.
“Of course I know what they look like!” Slick sounded indignant, as if I had just insulted him somehow. “You have to know your stuff to get anywhere in the world, and I make sure to know my stuff!”
“How very fortuitous,” I said. “Of course, we have just added another felony onto this business.”
“They won’t be able to pin us for counterfeiting if we never had a physical item,” Slick noted. “You also should know about loopholes and what they can do for you. This is important stuff, Berkeley, you should really write this down.”
“I have little use for this sort of knowledge,” I dismissed. “Ah, there it is!” I pointed ahead of us at the city hall, a grand, shining building of the finest marble and glass, built in the older style, since it was quite antique. Of course, it was obvious that it had been retouched at some point or another, but still carried an aura of grandeur and age, a worthy combination for a city such as this. “What a nice building!”
“That’s one hell of a place to give a speech,” Jack commented. “This ought to be interesting.”
“Let’s go,” Ralph said, and we all started walking towards it. “Try not to break character again.”
“Confirmed,” Anne said, trying once more. Ralph sagged a bit, but we continued nonetheless, soon finding ourselves at the edge of the crowd. It then became obvious that much of the crowd was less than pleased with the state of affairs, as many of them had signs saying such things as “Foreigners OUT!” or “This is our land, that’s yours!” I was unnerved by the display, but Slick seemed not to care, as he walked up to a nearby agent and held up nothing, presumably meant to be his false ID.
“We were sent here as backup,” he said, summoning his best acting abilities. Admittedly, he was quite convincing. “We were told the crowd was getting unruly and to go inside the building in case they try to break in.”
“About time somebody showed up,” he muttered, turning away from us. “There’s a way in over there. Good luck.”
“Thank you, sir.” Slick put his hand back down and we all walked towards the area directed, which had been sectioned off from the massive crowd. We silently passed through, unnoticed by all, and soon found ourselves walking up the far side of the massive steps leading into the building.
“No turning back,” Ralph said as we at last came in. The inside of the building was massive, so much so that I nearly felt faint looking up at the roof through a great gap in the floors above, giving a powerful frame of reference for the building’s design.
“Time to figure this out,” Ralph said. “I’ll go above and see if I can find anything, you guys go into the main hall and try to get close to Greeley.”
“Positive,” Anne said. “Mission is go.”
Ralph quickly ran up the stairs to a higher vantage point, while we entered the doors in front of us to see an impressive sight: a massive hallway, filled with people, news stations, and at the very end of it, a stage upon which was Greeley, delivering his speech.
“What are you doing?” another agent asked as we came in.
“We were told to come in as backup because of the crowd outside,” Anne explained. This seemed to satiate the man, as he quickly turned back to his original position. We all separated, taking positions throughout the room. I chose a spot that allowed me to look straight at Greeley as he was giving his speech. Said speech was not particularly interesting, simply him talking about foreign influence and how it was a positive influence, leaving them with nothing to fear. In fact, he simply repeated that point over and over again, just phrasing it differently or occasionally putting it into a different context. Not terribly complex, but I suppose it made the point, at the very least, and he did have excellent diction.
He continued on for quite some time, eventually coming to a close, applauded well by the audience. I stayed where I was, watching as he walked off the stage, and as soon as he left my sight, I exited the auditorium, but was stopped as none other than Zerus came into the picture and pointed a very small straight at my face, unnoticed by anyone else.
“Don’t go anywhere, Larch,” he said, smiling. “Your funny little illusions don’t fool me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir,” I said, trying desperately not to break character. “I’m just a Secret Service agent.”
“Nice try, smartass. My men have already captured Ralph up there, and they’re already in the process of getting the rest of your friends.”
I faltered, giving away the ruse. “All right, you may have captured them, but we know what you are on to, listening to us, and whatever it is that you are planning, we intend to stop it!”
“And just how do you intend to do that?” Zerus asked, unconvinced.
“Well, despite what you may have convinced yourself, we are quite an odd bunch, especially Ralph.” I grinned and looked up, noticing that several agents were indeed escorting Ralph down. “He is also very well-trained, so I fully expect he will pull something impressive off.”
My expectations were more than fulfilled as Ralph dove at one of the men, throwing him over the railing. Said man was barely able to hold on, calling for help, and while his colleagues were distracted, Ralph had an ideal opportunity to escape. He jumped straight for the opportunity and ran down the stairs, drawing gasps from the people below.
“What the hell?” Zerus asked in shock as Ralph ran up to him. We shared a quick glance, and quickly ran back into the auditorium, leaving Zerus alone in his confusion.
“Ditch, guys!” we cried, prompting the group to follow our lead as we ran up to the stage, leaping up and sprinting for the exit. The back of the building, though obviously less grandiose than the front, was still well built, and had an entire park behind it, a fine addition.
“Holy ****!” Jack yelled, as we paused to catch our breath. “I’ve never felt more alive!”
“Speak for yourself,” Slick huffed. “And might I mention that those guys are still after us?”
“Good point,” I said, looking around and getting an idea. “We shall go to the park and dispel the illusion so they have no possible way of recognizing us.”
“Oh, right!” Slick snapped his fingers and the illusion was no more, although Slick had made himself look like a perfectly average 1850’s aristocratic human, and we all ran down into the park and tried to act as casual as possible. Not a few moments after we got into position, Zerus and his agents burst out of the back door and started looking around, finding nothing of justifiable concern. He eyed me, but knew it would be impossible to implicate us for anything. He commanded the agents to do a search of the area, and shot me one last glare before going back inside.
“That was too close,” Anne said, walking up to me. “But something is definitely up.”
“Up?” Jack asked. “We just committed a federal offense! He has every right to be pissed!”
“Not with the way he reacted,” Ralph countered. “He knew we were going to be there, and he knew that we were in disguise. He was prepared for us, but luckily for me, he wasn’t entirely prepared.”
“And thank god for that!” I cried. “I would much prefer not to do that again.”
“I don’t think anybody is going to argue,” Slick said, allowing his true form to return. “Can we please go back to the hotel and regroup?”
“Well, as you said, I am not going to argue on that point,” I said, and without another word, we all started walking back.
The return to the hotel could not possibly have come soon enough, as we basically collapsed in a heap inside, thankful to find that nothing had been disturbed.
“I’ve never seen a more beautiful sight!” Slick said, removing his accessories and turning up the Jacuzzi. “It’s like water in the desert!”
“Not even close, Slick,” Anne admonished. “So, now what?”
“There is a conspiracy afoot, we know that,” I began, “and Greeley is at the center of it all, or perhaps even Zerus.”
“Why would the vice president be in control of the big conspiracy?” Jack asked. “Surely the president is the mastermind?”
“Unless he’s planning to kill Greeley and pin everything on us,” Slick suggested, climbing into the hot water. “Greeley might have nothing to do with this.”
I glanced at him, realizing he had a valid (if macabre) point. “Of course! With all that hooplah about foreigners, i.e. us, it would be trivial to assassinate Greeley and convince the public we were responsible, thus seizing power without any consequences!”
“This is sounding like a terrible thriller novel,” Anne said. “That’s a ridiculous idea!”
“Oh?” Jack asked. “And I suppose you have a better idea of what happened?”
“Well…no,” she admitted. “But you have to admit, that’s a farfetched idea.”
“That it might be,” Ralph said. “But a lot of crazy **** goes on behind the scenes, believe me. With some of the plots I’ve stopped, this is like somebody stealing a toddler’s candy.”
“If it is actually the case,” I said. “I believe it was Sherlock Holmes that said formulating a complete hypothesis before all the data was known would lead you to disaster. Slick’s idea does indeed fit what we know, but there is probably quite a bit that remains unknown to us. Rather than panicking and coming up with theories, we should try to do a more careful job of tracking Greeley and Zerus and figure out what is at the center of all this!”
“Yeah, nice speech, detective,” Jack said. “But how are we gonna do that? They found us even when we were in disguise.”
“Then we shall be a bit more clever about it.” I pulled out one of my PokeBalls and finally released Jon, my Furret.
“Oh, man!” he said, stretching out. “Am I cramped, or what?”
“Jon,” I said, turning his attention to me. “Are you willing to follow somebody around for me?”
“Follow somebody?” he asked. “Yeah, sure, why?”
“Said person is the most powerful person in the largest country on the planet,” I said, but he did not seem concerned.
“Oh, sweet, a secret mission? Awesome! What do I do?”
"Just follow Mr. Greeley around and tell me what he is doing."
"Uh…you will know him when you see him."
"How is he going to relay this?" Jack asked.
"Simple: I will reverse engineer one of those listening devices and use it to spy."
Jack raised his eyebrows and nodded, impressed. "That's a valid idea."
"Indeed, and best of all, they will have no idea whatsoever what is being said."
"Sirs?" the valet suddenly asked, bursting in through the doors. I leapt up, surprised. "Is there anything that you need? Anything at all?"
"No!" I cried, annoyed. "We are perfectly fine!"
"Oh?" the valet asked. "Well, that's too bad." And with that, he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at us, putting us all in a state of terror.
"Now, then," he asked, "are we gonna have to do this the easy way, or the hard way?"
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
As the valet stood before us, gun in hand, ready to shoot at any moment, I admit I was very nearly about to faint, but still refused to back down in the face of such threat.
“What is the meaning of this, then?” I asked, trying to keep my fear from coming through my voice.
“Look, I don’t want to hurt you,” the valet said, in a statement I desperately hoped was true, “but you’re getting in over your heads. This is way bigger than you, so just give up now and stay right there, and you won’t get hurt.” He began stepping backwards towards the door, keeping his gun aimed at us.
“And what if I do not want to stay here?” I asked, no, demanded. “What if I would prefer to figure out exactly what is going on around here and why somebody in the government wants to spy on us?”
The valet chuckled. “Oh, don’t even kid about that, bucko. You don’t stand a chance against what we’re doing here.”
I grimaced. “I must say, you are the absolute worst valet I have ever had.”
“How many have you had, then, old man?”
“Enough to know that you are an embarrassment to the craft!” I cried. The valet flinched, but did not fire, instead taking another step back.
“Don’t try anything funny or I blow all your brains out!” he yelled.
“Funny?” Slick asked. I turned to him, scared of whatever it was he was planning. “You mean like…THIS?!” He snapped his fingers, producing a blinding flash of light. I turned away in time for it to not affect me, but the valet was not so lucky, recoiling in pain and shock as his eyes burned. I turned back in time to see that Slick had taken good advantage of the opportunity he created, running forward and twirling his cane like a Bo staff, placing several expert strikes against the valet and sending him straight to the floor.
“Bloody hell!” I cried. “Where on earth did you learn how to do that?”
“You pick it up in my line of business,” Slick answered, tucking the cane under his arm with a flourish. “Everybody all right?”
“In a way…” Anne said, shaking her head. “That light kind of hurt. I’ll have to remember that for battles…”
“That was AWESOME!” Jon yelled. “Oh, man, the way you—“
“I’m gonna stop you right there, buddy,” Jack said, pushing past him. Jon sulked, but did not seem particularly upset by it. “Okay, now I’m mad at whoever’s running this circus. Nobody tries to kill Jack LeBoure and gets away with it!”
“Worry not, Jack, we will figure out who is doing this and put an end to it.” I looked around, and noticed the one person who had yet to add in a contribution: Ralph, who was staring straight ahead, as if he had turned into a statue somehow.
“Ralph?” I asked, stepping up to him. He had no reaction, even as I waved my hand in his face. I then snapped my fingers, which seemed to break him from his trance.
“Sorry about that,” he said, shaking off. “Survival technique. You know how it is.”
“Quite,” I said, eyeing him strangely.
“Say, that might come in handy,” he said, pushing me aside and picking up the valet’s gun. After a small search, he found a few more magazines of ammunition as well, a worthy find. “Okay, this is good…”
“That makes me think,” I began. “Jon will probably be in danger. Simply keeping hidden might not be enough, we will need to protect him somehow.”
“Oh, cool! Can I have the gun?” Jon asked.
“That strikes me a as remarkably terrible idea,” I said. “Besides, guns are loud and will get you noticed. You will need a silent weapon, like a blade of some sort.”
“Ooh! I can be a ninja! This is awesome!” Jon began doing a series of complex flips and kicks, as Slick stared in bemusement.
“Well, he certainly seems excited for it,” he said, seeming excited himself. “Now, where to get a bladed weapon…the kitchen! Of course!”
“Slick, I hardly think the kitchen staff is about to let us just borrow one of their knives so we can turn a Furret into some ninja stereotype. They would think us mad.”
“But what fun is there in being normal?” Slick asked. “You do have a point, though, they won’t just give us the knife. We’ll need to distract them and steal one somehow…”
I suddenly recalled a recent individual who would be very helpful indeed. “Slick, how would you feel about turning us into a camera crew?”
“Camera crew? How would that…oh, I get it!” In an instant, his face lit up, realizing what I wanted to do. “One Clive Warren camera crew, coming right up!” He closed his eyes again and performed his illusion once more, although he did leave Jon out of it.
“Congratulations!” he said when he was finished. “You are now a complete camera crew for whatever show Clive is doing right now!”
“But we don’t have a camera,” Anne noted.
“Oh, right.” Slick waved his hands about, and in a few moments, everybody was gifted with an illusory television camera. Anne looked hers over, impressed by how convincing it was, despite weighing nothing at all.
“Excellent!” I said, before realizing something. “Wait…they have cameras…Slick, did you turn me into Clive Warren?”
“I might have…” he said, faking innocence.
“Well, I am flattered, but I hardly think that is an appropriate choice for me. Of course, I could probably do a convincing imitation…”
“No need!” Slick said. “I can also change your voice to be more convincing, too!”
“Now, wait a moment—“ My voice trailed off as it became much higher pitched, as if I had just inhaled a vast amount of helium. “Slick, what the hell have you done?”
“Oh, crap, sorry, I did that wrong…” Slick waved his arms around, desperately attempting to rectify the error. “Did that work?”
“I don’t know, you tell me.” I pause as I realized my voice had now changed into that of Anne. “Slick, you idiot, stop this tomfoolery at once!”
“No, no, keep it up!” Jack insisted. “This is fantastic!”
“You do all realize that Ralph left, right?” Anne asked. I looked behind and saw that Ralph had indeed returned to his room, likely out of annoyance with the recent antics.
“Capital job, Slick,” I commended, clapping my hands. My voice was finally back to normal, and I fully intended to keep it that way. “We are now back to where we were, and my voice is yet unchanged.”
“Look, I can figure this out, just let me—“
“NO!” I interrupted. “I will handle it myself. I do not trust you to do anything further.”
Slick pouted and looked away from me. “Oh, fine,” he muttered. “Dick.”
“Very mature. Now, then, how is my impersonation of Clive Warren?” I cleared my throat and readied myself, hoping I could manage such a task. “Say, have you seen my latest hit movie?” I said, knowing already I had somewhat failed.
“Well, if Clive Warren had a cold and got punched in the face, that might be accurate,” Jack noted.
“Then I suppose that will have to do for a cover story.” I sighed and turned back around. “Come on, let us go to the kitchen. Jon, you stay here.”
We all took a good look at each other, quite uncomfortably, and then slowly filed out, leaving Ralph and Jon on their own.
As expected, the kitchen, which was just on the edge of the lobby’s main restaurant(which, luckily for us, currently had no customers) was large and quite stately, with numerous stations, as well as a great number of chefs manning them. That was all I could glean from outside the main doors, especially with all of us crammed together and trying to look inside.
“So, now what?” Slick asked, trying to push past Jack’s head.
“We go inside,” I said. “At that point, Anne, Jack, and I will call the head chef out, which should distract everybody enough for us to start grabbing weapons. Try not to grab anything ridiculous.”
“Sounds good,” Jack said. “Let’s do it!”
I pushed open the doors, Jon and Slick ducked away, and the remaining three entered, trying to look as imposing as possible.
“Where is the head chef?!” I announced, as Anne and Jack took positions beside me.
“Eh?” a distinctly French voice called, its rather overweight, sweaty owner pushing past a few of the chefs and coming up to us. “What is ze meaning of zis?”
“I am Clive Warren,” I said, “and I’m hear to clean this hotel up, starting with the kitchen!”
“Clean it up?!” the chef cried in indignation. “Absurd! This is the finest hotel in ze world, and I run a very efficient operation! You are wasting your time here!”
“The only time being wasted is the time of the customers!” I cried. “Show me around the kitchen, I want to know how you’re running this operation!”
The chef grimaced, but acquiesced, convinced that he had me. “Very well, please come this way,” he gestured over to the other end, which was quite excellent for our plan. We all walked over, where he began his explanation at a man who was stirring a pot of something.
“Rochester here is the one who prepares the soups,” he said, gesturing to what was obviously Rochester, who looked rather angry that his work was being interrupted. “What are you preparing now, Rochester?”
“A truffle soup with shallots and sea salt in a reduction of vinegar,” he explained, sounding as if he wanted to pour it down our trousers. “Please go away.”
“Let me taste that,” I said, getting up next to him and grabbing a spoon to take a sample. At first, it did indeed taste quite nice, but then I realized it was still in the process of being cooked and thus scalding hot. I very nearly spit it out, but pushed through and swallowed, trying not to look like I was in horrible pain.
“Excellent work, Rochester,” I said. “Perhaps this kitchen is better run than I thought.” I coughed and we moved on, but Slick stayed behind to grab something. I paid no mind to this and looked at another man who was slicing vegetables with astonishing finesse.
“Well, well, your staff is in an excellent state!” I commended, genuinely impressed. “You may be an arrogant bastard, but you certainly know how to pick them!”
“I have every right to be arrogant!” the head chef cried, pointing a finger up. “I am in control of the finest kitchen in all of Black City!”
“You certainly seem to be,” I said, noticing that Slick was slyly picking out a few more implements, yet unnoticed. “Honestly, I see no major problems here. Just fix your attitude, and we will be in a very good place.”
“I should think that I already am!” the head chef said, before his eyes widened as he realized something. “Why was I not informed of your visit, Mr. Warren?”
“Uh…” I stammered, only now realizing the flaw in our ingenious plan. “Well, it was a surprise visit! If you had known beforehand, you could have cheated and I wouldn’t have helped at all!”
“My contract with ze hotel clearly states I am to be informed of any and all celebrity guests, and that would include you, impostor!”
“I am no impostor!” I cried unconvincingly. “How dare you accuse me of such a ludicrous thing!”
“I do indeed dare, sir! Now, get out of my kitchen before I get you out myself!”
I grimaced, but realized we had gotten what we came for, and decided to accept a small defeat. “All right, fine, but just you wait, you’ll be hearing from my lawyers!” I immediately stormed out, my “camera crew” following me.
When we were back outside, I took a deep breath, and turned to Slick.
“Okay, what did you get?” I asked, somewhat fearing the answer.
“What did I get?” Slick asked. “What didn’t I get? I got knives, a wooden spoon, whatever the hell this thing is…” he held up a whisk, “I don’t know what this is for, but I’ll bet it hurts if you shove it up somebody’s eye socket!”
“Give me that!” I said, yanking the whisk from his hand. “I cannot think of a more worthless weapon than this.”
“Okay, Patton, how’s this tickle your fancy?” He then pulled out a bottle of Tabasco sauce, original recipe, in fact.
“Tabasco?” Jack asked, letting his false camera drop harmlessly to the ground and taking the bottle. “What made you think Tabasco and a whisk would be useful ninja weapons?”
“Well, I was in town about a year ago looking for food, and I noticed one of those big-screen televisions in a window, and it was playing this really kickass show about warriors beating each other up, and they mentioned that ninjas would throw something a lot like Tabasco in people’s eyes to distract them, and I thought ‘hey, there you go!’”
“What, Warrior Science?” I asked, not bothering to hide my disdain for the show. “Those imbeciles? They would not know proper scientific method if it walked up and stabbed them in the chest!”
Slick rolled his eyes and sighed. “Yeah, yeah, it’s not hugely accurate stuff, but still, if you throw this at somebody, it’s got to hurt.”
“It may well, but ninjas never did anything like on that stupid show, not to mention all the other stuff. A siege weapon in single combat, honestly…”
“Can we please focus?” Anne asked. “I’m kind of starting to question this idea. Are we really going to try to turn a Furret into some kind of cartoon ninja?”
I thought for a moment, and realized that we must have looked quite silly doing this, not to mention what we were doing it for. “This is absolutely ridiculous. What the hell were we thinking?”
“I don’t know,” Jack said, scratching his head. He stopped the instant he heard a very unpleasant sound: the whirring of powerful helicopter blades, just outside. A few of the people milling about also seemed to notice it, and were very alarmed, to say the least.
“What the hell is that?” Jack asked, running for the restaurant’s windows at an astonishing pace. I was barely able to keep up with him as he looked up to see a terrifying sight.
“Why is there a Chinook on the side of the hotel?!” Jack yelled, looking up at the dual-rotor model of such infamy.
“They’re really going all-out with this, aren’t they?” Slick said.
“We have to get up there, now!” I cried.
“We’ll never get up there in time, we have to stop them somehow!” Anne argued.
“Stop them from here?” I asked. “You’re mental! We have no chance!”
Unbeknownst to me, Slick had begun doing another one of his clever illusions while the rest of us argued. Just before I wrapped my hand around Jack’s neck, I noticed that the helicopter was encased in a cloud of black smoke, and had stopped going up to our room.
“Slick, what did you do?” Anne asked, fascinated.
“I’m making it look like they’re somewhere completely different, and it’ll take a while to figure it out,” Slick explained. “I can try to hold it, but I don’t know for how much longer, just go up!”
I nodded and grabbed the weapons he had acquired, then ran for the elevator as fast as I could go, hoping he could hold them off long enough.
It seemed we had arrived just in time when we finally reached the top floor, as the helicopter was nowhere to be found while Jon and Ralph looked very concerned.
“Okay, seriously, they’re pulling out cargo helicopters in civilian areas?” Ralph said. “Why are we at peace with these guys, again?”
“I am starting to ask that very same question,” I said, walking to the window and looking down. To my horror, I saw that the illusion had broken and the helicopter was coming up. “Quickly, hide, hide!” Everybody dispersed to their rooms, but Jon stood fast, and I realized he would not let something unpleasant happen if he could help it. I intended to assist him in that endeavor, and so gave him the materials we had collected, which he gladly took and hid behind him.
The helicopter easily came up to us, just outside of the great windows, filling the entire suite with wind. A rope was thrown into it, connecting and allowing the crew passage: Two more secret agents, along with Mr. Zerus, who was very pleased with the recent development.
As the agents closed the window to prevent the wind from bothering us further, Zerus clearly had different plans. “Professor Berkeley Larch!” he said, walking up to me and extending a hand. I refused the gesture, causing Zerus to replace his joyous expression with a scowl. “Come on, Berkeley, show some decorum, huh? You nearly did me in back at city hall, and I’m not about to let you act rude to me.”
“You brought a helicopter up to my room, sir!” I cried, pointing at it. “Not to mention your little plan to do…whatever it is!”
“Oh, right!” Zerus said, snapping his fingers. “You think I want to assassinate Greeley and blame you for it!”
“That was the working theory, yes,” I said, suspicious. “Wait, how could you have known that? I disabled the bugs!”
“What, those things?” Zerus asked. “Oh, please, those were completely fake. The real ones were stuck in the walls. After all, a listening device isn’t much good if it’s blatantly obvious where it is.”
“All right then, fair enough. But why do you mention my working theory?”
“It’ll probably help if I inform you that you’re wrong. Like, completely wrong. I don’t want Greeley, I’ve just been using him as a pawn. No, I have bigger fish to fry than that limp-wristed idiot. Shall I explain?”
“I would like if you did, I am completely for a loop.”
“Oh, but there’s a problem there, you see: I want Slick to be here to. I’m very interested in him, and I nearly died of heartbreak when he disappeared like sand in my fingers after I put so much effort into tracking him. So, where is he?”
The elevator behind us dinged, and out stepped Slick, who looked very upset indeed.
“All right, I want to know what’s going on here, and I want to know it now!” he yelled, sounding genuinely angry for once.
“Well, don’t worry, now that you’re here, I can explain.” Zerus cleared his throat and finally began telling us what was going on. “Larch, your invention is frankly…incredible. It’s one of the most famous things in the world right now. You and your friends are all over the news with your little…exploits, and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to initiate what I like to call Operation: Capture the Flag.”
“A curious name for such a thing,” I said. “Why that?”
“Well, everybody wants one of your translators. Everyone. It’s the thing right now, even above the latest smartphone or Pokedex or whatever. So naturally, there’s a lot of attention. But there’s also a lot of fear. A lot of it. With the borders opened up, people are wondering what’s going on, what’s going to happen. And when people are afraid for themselves, they stop thinking.”
“Get to the point!” Slick yelled.
“Be patient,” Zerus said, annoyed. “I was getting there. What’s going to happen is, I’m going to kill all of you.” I tensed up upon hearing this grim news. “After we do, we’re going to announce that you were killed in a military raid when it was discovered you had multiple prototypes containing samples of polonium, and intended to distribute them en masse as the greatest terrorist attack in history.”
“A false flag operation, then?” I asked. “This is absolute madness! Nobody will believe you!”
“You’d be surprised at what the Unovans would believe. They’re like putty: easily molded to whatever you want, as long as you say it right. And I’ve carefully molded them to worry about psychotic foreign radicals that would gladly destroy our way of life!”
“You are insane!” I cried. “You are actually insane!”
“Insane, or brilliant?” Zerus asked. “It can be so hard to tell the difference sometimes. Anyway, with this little ‘false-flag’ as the catalyst, we’ll restart the war, as a war on terrorists! And with the diplomatic relations crumbled, along with the military might I’ve been readying, I’ll have absolutely no difficulties in crushing the other countries and taking over the entire world!”
“I do not know how you managed it, but you somehow managed to have an even more absurd plot than Wolfgang did,” I said. “This is utterly mental!”
“I agree,” Slick said. “This would never work! The other countries would crush you easily!”
“Would they?” Zerus asked, ominously turning to Slick and putting his hands together. “Would they…brother?”
In a single terrifying instant, Zerus’ illusion was dispersed, revealing his true form: that of a Zoroark, incredibly similar to Slick.
“W-what?” Slick stammered, shocked by this sudden twist.
“Yes, Slick,” Zerus said, stepping closer. “This is what I wanted you to see. I wanted you to see that if you had applied yourself instead of stealing bread from street vendors, you could take over the world!”
“But…but you disappeared ten years ago!” Slick said. “I thought you were dead!”
“No, no, I was alive and very, very well,” Zerus explained, returning to his human form. “In fact, when you thought I had moved on from this life, I was already in disguise, coming into political office and gaining huge popularity. Of course, it wouldn’t have happened without some…convincing.”
“You mean brainwashing,” I corrected. “You are absolutely the most unpleasant person I have ever had the misfortune of knowing.”
“Well, then, I intend to keep that record,” Zerus said, producing a handgun and pointing it at my forehead. “Goodbye, Larch. It’s been fun, but… I have places to go.”
“You will never get away with this!” I said. “We will stop you!”
“I’d like to see you try when you’re six feet under!” Zerus readied his shot, but just as he pulled the trigger, Jon leapt up with incredible speed and pushed the gun away, sending the bullet harmlessly into the wall. As Zerus stumbled, surprised by such a display, Jon produced his Tabasco bottle and threw it at Zerus’ face, shattering it and sending the hot mixture everywhere.
“JESUS CHRIST!” he cried, collapsing to the floor and clawing at his face in a desperate attempt to remove it. “IT’S IN MY EYES! HELP ME!”
The secret agents pulled out their weapons, but Jon, in a display even more impressive than the last one, threw the small knives at their hands, striking the guns dead-on and sending them flying off to the side.
“You little ****!” Zerus cried, standing up and removing his hands, revealing his inflamed, bloody-looking face. “I’ll rip your ****ing head off!” He attempted to leap for Jon, but the Furret merely jumped over him, bounced off the pillar, and headed straight for the agents, taking both of them out in nearly an instant. Zerus, now realizing he was outmatched, ran back to the window and yanked it open, looking back at me with hatred and hot sauce in his eyes.
“I’ll get you, Berkeley!” he cried, barely heard over the roar of the helicopter. “You’ll pay for this, and your little weasel friend, too!” He turned his head to look straight at Slick, who steeled his expression, refusing to show fear. “You’ll see, brother. I’ll come out on top!”
“Stop right there!” Ralph yelled, coming out of his room and pointing his gun at Zerus, who started to panic and very nearly fell out the window. However, he managed to grab onto the rope connecting the helicopter and pull himself up to it, an impressive feat considering that his eyes had nearly been incinerated. Ralph, realizing he had little time to dawdle, ran for the window, but unfortunately did not make it in time; Zerus had already gotten away, and would probably be coming back.
“Damn it!” he cried, cursing himself. He pointed his gun at the Chinook, but realized it would do no good; it was already too far away. “He got away.”
“You have a brother?” Anne asked, running into the room alongside Jack.
“Yeah,” Slick said. “He was always kind of an *******. Never liked me much. Said I was ‘wasting my life’ or some crap. I guess now he wants to rule over everybody for some reason.”
“And he will do it by killing us!” I cried. “We must stop him!”
“But how?” Anne asked. “He has access to stuff none of us could even imagine! There’s no way we can stand up to an army!”
“Couldn’t we?” I asked. “You have some very powerful Pokémon, and an excellent wit, not to mention the rest of our skills. Really, I think we are in an excellent position to face them.”
Anne tensed. “Look, we’re out of our league here. I know that you kicked Wolfgang’s ass, but that was just some dork in a lame Halloween costume. These guys are official government agents. You’re probably going to get shot.”
“Well, they certainly tried, didn’t they?” I said, pointing at their unconscious forms. “Fat lot of good it did them, eh?”
“Larch, be serious!” Anne cried.
“I am being serious!” I yelled back. “We clearly have them outmatched! If we work together and use our heads, we can collapse this entire plan and save humanity!”
Anne stared at me, disbelieving. “I...you think so?”
“Who else is in a position to do so but us?” I asked. “If we do not do this ourselves, then nobody else will. It must be us, or else he will still succeed. Besides, we have been in very dangerous situations before, this is not a huge step up.”
“It’s a pretty far-fetched plan, though,” Slick noted.
“Do you really want to take that chance?” I asked. I did not get any answer, but I did not have to; we knew what had to be done.
“Let’s go get the Horizon,” Ralph suggested. “We might still be able to chase after that helicopter.”
“Can we all fit in there?” I asked. “It is not a very large car, after all.”
“I’m sure we can make it work,” Ralph said. “Come on, we’re wasting time.”
We wasted no time in going to the hotel’s underground parking garage, hoping there would still be time enough for us to get Zerus and stop him once and for all…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
As we came into the hotel’s garage and walked up to the Horizon, an issue became apparent: it would be rather difficult for all of us to fit inside, as its profile was quite low.
“Okay, how is this going to work?” Jack asked. “Sweet car, by the way.”
“It’s fantastic!” Slick commented, meticulously looking over its sleek curves. “Can I drive?”
“Absolutely the hell not!” Ralph said in a rare moment of emotion. “You barely even have opposable thumbs!”
Slick looked down at his claws. “Hey, these are perfectly opposable! I have every reason to want to drive this piece of kickass!”
“No way in hell am I letting you anywhere near the driver’s seat,” Ralph insisted. “This is my car, so I’m driving. End of story.”
“Oh, fine. Jerk.” Slick pouted, now rather surly.
“Get over it,” Jack said. “Okay, if you own the car, I think it’s fair that you drive. Berkeley, you go up front, we’ll try to cram into the back.”
“Fair enough,” I said, opening the door for Ralph and I. “We should not waste any more time, come, let us give chase!”
“Let’s beat this jerk down!” Slick said, practically diving into the back seat. “Got any good music?”
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked, climbing in next to him. “Let’s just go, I’m getting sick of this guy. Ruined my whole day!”
“Indeed, he is quite the unpleasant character,” I said, as Ralph turned the engine on and pulled out. “You might as well get comfortable, this car is expertly designed. Hand-assembled, as well.”
“Damn, Ralph, this is quite the prize!” Jack said. “Silph must have really liked you!”
“It certainly seemed that way,” I said, as we finally came out of the garage and into some alley. “Now, the question is, where is he?”
“Can you hear anything?” Anne asked to Ralph, leaning over the seat.
“I think…there!” Ralph said, looking to his left, where, down another alley between two very large buildings, a number of people had congregated, looking up at something that was very easy to guess.
“He’s still hanging around,” Ralph noted. “He must have wanted to wait for us instead of getting away.”
“A foolish choice!” I cried. “He has no more agents! What could he possibly do now?”
“Do you think he really came all the way over here in a Chinook with only two guys?” Ralph asked. “He could probably stick a whole army in there!”
I paused, realizing the implication. “Oh…oh dear.”
A sudden gust of wind shook the car, and we turned down the alley to see that the Chinook had moved over it and the crowd had dispersed.
“Oh, ****!” Ralph cried as he noticed a telltale glint from inside the helicopter: that of a sniper, taking aim at us. Just as he pulled the trigger to fire, Ralph pulled out, the bullet just barely missing us and presumably lodging itself in the ground somewhere behind.
“A sniper in a helicopter?” Slick asked, surprisingly calm. “That doesn’t seem like a very good idea.”
“What are you talking about?!” Anne yelled.
“Well, I’m just saying that helicopters move around a lot and there’s a bunch of wind resistance…he probably would have missed anyway, you know?”
“NO!” Anne shouted back.
“Will you two quit talking so I can focus?” Ralph requested as he pulled back into the street, noticing that traffic had, naturally, stopped almost entirely, forcing him to stop on the astonishingly wide sidewalk.
“God damn it,” Ralph said. “That helicopter stopped everybody!”
“What do we do?” Anne asked. “We can’t outrun it, and we can’t drive anywhere.”
“I disagree,” Ralph said, as he pulled back slightly and turned the wheel away from the hotel, which, alarmingly, would have been towards the helicopter.
“Ralph, what are you doing?” I asked, fear at last creeping into my voice.
“Something stupid,” he answered, as he pressed down on the pedal and tore absolute hell on the sidewalk, deftly avoiding the traffic, although the pedestrians barely had enough time to run out of the way. Soon, we passed through the intersection next to where the helicopter was lying in wait, and our little trick did not evade its notice, as it continued giving chase, this time against a much faster target.
“Jesus Christ!” I cried, gripping onto whatever I could take hold of and praying that against a moving target, the sniper would continue missing. “You are probably going to get us killed before Zerus manages to!”
“I know what I’m doing,” Ralph said, as he plowed straight into a newspaper receptacle, sending sheets flying everywhere, including on our windshield. Luckily, our sight was not entirely blocked out, but it was still quite a severe hindrance.
“Oh, god!” I cried, feeling my heart’s pace increase far beyond what could possibly have been healthy, which was not helped when I looked outside and noticed that the helicopter was right behind us, and the sniper had not given up. Another shot rang out, and this time it nearly found its mark, hitting somewhere on the boot.
“Holy ****, he’s trying to kill us!” Slick cried, adjusting his hat.
“What do you think he was trying to do before, give us a nice present?” Ralph asked, as he noticed something: a colossal park, coming up to our left. “Say, Larch?”
“What?” I asked, not really excited at the prospect of answering a question of any sort from Ralph in this situation.
“Do you think this thing can go off-road?”
“What the hell are you…oh, for God’s sake!” I yelled, as Ralph pulled into a path leading into the park, replacing concrete sidewalk for grass, although pedestrians were still present, and still quite shocked as they leapt out of the way of our car. “How will this help?”
“Tree cover,” Ralph explained, as we did indeed go under a dense canopy of trees. “I’d like to see that sniper get us now!” he said, seeming quite pleased with his achievement.
“The forest does not last forever, Ralph,” I said. “We need a plan.”
“All right, then, you take the wheel,” he said, unbuckling and climbing out.
“Oh, now what?” I demanded as he crossed over to the passenger’s side.
“Take the wheel,” Ralph commanded through the window, which I rolled down to help the communication.
“Me? Take the wheel?” I asked. “Whatever for? What are you planning on doing, anyway?”
“I’m going to stick up through the sunroof when we get out from under these trees and take shots at the chopper,” he explained, holding up the gun he had stolen from the valet. I, of course, stared at him and his weapon as if they had both turned a particularly bright shade of pink.
“Have you gone completely insane, or are you just stupid?”
Ralph smiled. “Sometimes I can’t tell the difference myself. Take the wheel before we get shot ourselves.”
I realized that, in the face of what could only be either sheer brilliance or sheer idiocy, sometimes you just have to trust in it. “Very well,” I said, unbuckling myself and quickly shifting over to the driver’s side. I gripped the steering wheel, finding it an astonishingly comfortable device, while Ralph took his new seat.
“Ready for this?” he asked, his eyes gleaming with a vicious purpose.
“In no possible way could I ever be ready for this, Ralph,” I said, as I pressed down on the gas and sped off, bits of grass flying off behind the tires. “Of course, we do seem to be doing pretty well for ourselves, all things considered.”
“Keep driving, the trees end up here,” Ralph said, and indeed, just ahead, the trees stopped around a large fountain.
“What is the plan?” I asked.
“Stop,” he requested, and I did so as he opened up the sunroof, coming to rest just in front of the fountain. “Wish me luck!” With that, Ralph pushed himself through the opening in the roof and took aim, getting a few shots off at the approaching helicopter. From what I could tell, they had absolutely no effect at all, and Ralph retired as the sniper took another shot, sending a bullet into the fountain.
“Well, that didn’t work,” he muttered, clearly annoyed at the failure of his plan.
“You say that as if you are surprised,” I said, driving off once more down the path, heading for the end of the park. “Really, I am surprised that you did not get shot.”
“It was a good distraction,” Slick offered. “It could have been better, though.”
“Yeah, I could have actually shot that sniper,” Ralph said, looking over his weapon. “Say, do you hear sirens?”
I listened for a moment, and did indeed hear the distinctive noise of police sirens. “It seems we have made an impact on the city!” I said, panicking.
“Uh…can I try something?” Slick asked.
“A disguise?” I asked, trying to look back while still keeping an eye on the path. “I fully support that idea if it will keep us from getting arrested!”
“Hold on…” he said, as we once more passed under a thick canopy of trees. “Here goes!” A red glow surrounded the car, and stayed there, as Slick strained to maintain it. “We are now driving a piece of **** pickup truck!”
“Oh, good, just the image I want to project,” I said. “Besides, how will that help? They already know we are under the canopy, how many vehicles do you expect to find in a park such as this?”
“Hey, it’ll get the cops off of us, at least,” Slick noted. Indeed, just after we pulled out of the park, a police cruiser sped right past us, completely unaware of the trickery we had pulled. However, the people in the helicopter saw right through it, and were easily able to follow us, but had thankfully given up on taking shots.
Soon, still with the helicopter chasing after us, we found ourselves in the less built-up section of the city, which accordingly had less traffic. While it would certainly make it easier for us to move around, it would also make it easier for the helicopter to maneuver, a questionable tradeoff. Still, I realized that if we occasionally changed the illusion, we could probably make a safe getaway, assuming we were able to get out of sight first.
As I drove through the streets, carefully driving in and out of the traffic and making fairly good time, I saw a potential opportunity for escape: a surprisingly large car park that would be impossible for the helicopter to see into.
“Bingo!” I said, driving in and looking around for an empty spot. It seemed, however, that it was well-frequented, so it took some time to find anywhere to park, and it was only on the third floor we managed to. Still, it allowed us a moment for me to enact my plan.
“Slick, could you please make the car look like something else?” I asked, looking back. He glared back at me, evidently quite annoyed at my request.
“You *******,” he muttered, straining to shift the illusion to something else. “I’ll just make it look like that one,” he said, looking to my left at a massive white Hummer.
“What?!” I cried. “That is the most conspicuous disguise possible! They will notice it in an instant!”
“Oh, fine, then!” Slick said. “Enjoy your ****** Camaro, *******!”
“Slick!” Anne said, disapproving of such vulgarity.
“Bite me! This is hard to keep up, you know, especially on such short notice!”
“Well…I apologize, then.” I finally noticed that Jack was having a poor time of it, as an expression of utmost fear was stuck upon his face and he was furiously gripping the door in his terror.
“Jack, have you been like that all this time?” I asked, attempting to sound concerned.
“Maybe,” he said through strongly gritted teeth.
“Look, we’re safe now,” Ralph said, attempting to bring some semblance of order back, “let’s all just relax and let this blow over.”
“Are you sure about that, Ralph?” I asked as I heard that distinctive noise of police sirens once more. “They must have noticed anyway. Blast!”
“It could have been from the giant ****ing helicopter chasing after us,” Jack noted, calming down slightly. Unfortunately for him, his fear returned when we heard a loud voice coming from outside of the car park, listing a quite specific demand of us.
“This is the Black City Police Department!” it came, echoing all throughout the walls. “We know you’re in the Camaro! Come out with your hands up or we will resort to using force!”
“Say nothing,” I warned. “We can negotiate this.”
“What?!” Slick said in a whisper, not understanding what I was trying to do.
“Look, Zerus wants me, it’s obvious. I’m at the center of his plan, and if I give myself to him, you can all get away and be safe.”
“He’ll kill you, dumbass!” Jack said, leaning closer to me. “You’re gonna turn yourself over to that douche?”
“If it means you can be safe, then I will gladly do so,” I said. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have some negotiations to do.”
They continued objecting as I stepped out of the car, but it would never be enough to stop me from my task. I walked over to the railing on the edge of the building where the police had congregated, and looked over it, noticing that the helicopter had landed among a large group of squad cars.
“Hello, officers!” I said as loud as I could, gaining their attention. “Have you need for me?”
“Come out now, sir!” somebody from down below yelled through a megaphone, his voice reverberating through the entire parking garage. “You have five minutes to comply!”
“I want to negotiate!” I called back. “I believe the vice president has want for me?”
I noticed that, indeed, I had gotten Zerus’ attention, as he left the helicopter and walked up to the man who was holding the megaphone, tapping him on the shoulder and taking the device.
“What do you want to negotiate?” he asked, sounding cross.
“Hello, Zerus!” I greeted him. “I believe you want us, correct?”
“That is correct,” he answered. “You’ve been behaving very illegally as of late, and we have every intention to take you all into custody.”
“Unfortunately, that is far from ideal,” I said. “Come up here and we can talk more about how we want to do this.”
“Fine, *******!” Zerus said, throwing the megaphone to the ground and storming inside, at the protest of everyone around him. I gave him some time to come up, and when he finally got up the stairs, he beelined straight for me, an expression of rage upon his face.
“All right, look, dickhead,” he said, grabbing my collar, “I am sick and tired of you wasting my goddamn time, so how about we work this out now before I just throw you out of this building myself?”
“I must confess I would prefer if you did not,” I said, smiling. “Now, about that deal?”
Zerus released me, calming down slightly. “Okay, what do you want to do here?”
“It depends on the extent to which you are willing to negotiate,” I answered.
“At this point, I’m mixed. For one, I want to finally get rid of you, but on the other hand, you’ve really pissed me off today, and when I’m pissed off, I tend not to want to bother with anything.”
“Well, worry not, Zerus, because this deal shall have great benefits for us both!”
“Losing interest…” Zerus droned.
“Perhaps this will regain it! If you go along with this, I shall repay you by going along with you…”
“What?” Zerus asked, disbelieving. “How could that possibly benefit you?”
“Because, if I do go with you, entirely willingly, might I add, then my other friends will go free and remain separate from your plan.” I gestured towards the car, which Zerus considered for some time.
“That’s the dumbest-ass deal I’ve ever heard!” Zerus yelled. “You’re going to get killed! That’s the point!”
“I really do not care, so long as they go free of your insane plan.” I said, entirely sincere. However, my sincerity merely provided more confusion, as Zerus stared at me as if I had said something entirely nonsensical.
“What the hell are you talking about?!” Zerus cried. “You’re gonna die so those idiots can live?!”
“I resent that!” Slick cried from inside the car.
“Shut up!” Zerus yelled, removing his glasses and throwing them to the floor. “Just shut the **** up, all of you idiots! I had this whole plan very carefully laid out, and I finally get to enact it, and what do you ****heads do? **** it all up! And who should be involved but my idiot little brother who barely did anything when I was still around! I’m glad he left! He sucked! You all suck! No deal, Larch! No deal!”
“What?!” I cried. “I just gave myself up to you and you are going to throw it all away? This is your chance for the plan to work!”
“All right,” Zerus said, quickly coming down from his rage. “You want to save those little friends of yours so bad? You want them to get away and live their merry stupid little lives while I shoot you in between the eyes?” he asked, pulling a submachine gun out of his coat. “Fine, then! Here’s your ****ing chance!”
“Christ!” I yelled, grabbing his wrist before he had a chance to fire and forcing it up. In an instant, a volley of rapid-fire metal death spewed forth, peppering the ceiling with fair-sized holes. Zerus glared at me, released the trigger, and kicked me in the shin, but I did not loosen my grasp in the slightest.
“What the **** is going on up there?!” an officer called from below, sounding very unnerved.
“Just some negotiation!” I said. “Nothing to be concerned about!”
“I’ll kill you, you son of a *****!” Zerus yelled, trying to point the gun at something, but failing.
“Like I said, nothing to be concerned about!” I said, attempting to call attention away from it.
“SHUT UP!” Zerus yelled, pushing me away and training his gun at my head. However, luckily for me, he decided to go for a different plan.
“All right, Larch?” he asked, setting his gun down. “You want to die while your friends live? I can do that.”
“How so?” I asked, tensing up.
“I’ll show you.” Zerus walked over to the edge of the building again, looking out and sending out a command. “Bring the helicopter up to the top level of the park!”
I could see the pilot nodding, entering the helicopter and turning it back on, the rotors slowly coming to life and raising it up off of the ground.
“I’m going to take you on a little trip, Larch,” Zerus said. “It’s a lovely spot, really, it is. Quite a nice lake, I think you’ll really appreciate it.”
“A lake, then, is it?” I asked. “Very well, then. Let us go.”
The building shook slightly as the helicopter landed above us, sending some dust down from the ceiling. “Looks like that’s our ride,” Zerus said, turning to give one last command. “All right, everybody, I would like to extend a pardon to everybody in the car except this guy! I’m taking him into custody and will personally escort him to prison!”
“Can you do that?” somebody from down below asked.
“Can I do that?” Zerus mockingly imitated. “Of course I can do that! I’m the most powerful person here, I can do whatever the hell I feel like doing! Let these guys go or I’ll send your ass to federal prison!”
Zerus turned back to me and viciously grabbed hold of my shoulder. “Come on, professor. Your chauffer awaits.” He smiled cruelly as he dragged me over to the stairs, passing the car, which had long since abandoned its disguise. As we moved closer, Slick came out, staring at us both. Zerus paused, allowing us a moment.
“You’re really going through with this?” Slick asked, sorrow in his eyes.
“Indeed I am,” I answered. “I do not care what become of me so long as you all are safe.” Unseen by Zerus, I winked, and Slick immediately got the message of it. “Do tell them that they are the finest group of friends I could possibly have asked for.”
“I-I will,” Slick answered, keeping his knowledge of what I was trying to do hidden expertly.
“Yeah, yeah, enough of the sobbing,” Zerus said, pulling me once more up the stairs. I looked back at Slick one last time before he disappeared, and I was quite glad as he got a vicious smile on his face, clearly coming up with a plan.
Up the next few levels, we reached the open parking lot on the roof, where the helicopter had parked itself in some of the empty spaces, crossing over a number of them. This sight instinctively caused me to cringe from the memories of people without the ability to park correctly. Of course, unlike them, the pilot had at least some excuse for it.
I got a very good view of it as Zerus threw me inside and went to give the pilot instructions, forcing me face-to-face with the sniper who had, just a little while ago, tried to put bullets through us all.
“Hello,” he said, his face remaining calm as he rubbed his rifle. “You’re pretty clever to evade me like that. I usually don’t miss.”
“Well, I am sorry for damaging your record,” I said, trying and failing to keep myself from glancing at his weapon. “However, I am sure you understand, as most people tend to enjoy keeping their heads intact.”
“This could destroy a watermelon at 500 yards,” he said, still expressionless.
“Well, then, I am glad to have avoided it.”
“Are you two finished?” Zerus asked, climbing in next to me, having finished his instructions. “Because I’m getting very impatient again.”
“I was simply congratulating the professor on avoiding me for so long,” the sniper said, turning his head very slightly to face Zerus. “Few people have ever been able to do that.”
“Yeah, about that,” Zerus started, “what the hell was that?! They said you were the best in your field!”
“I am,” the sniper confirmed simply. “It’s just that they were better.”
Zerus smirked and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, shaking me slightly. “Yeah, well, when this guy is out of my hair, I won’t have to worry about that any more, because I can just go right ahead with the plan, finally! It’ll be fantastic!”
“And you will leave the others alone?” I asked.
“That depends on how quiet we can keep them,” Zerus said. “If they go back to whatever ****hole they lived in and don’t breathe a word of this to anybody, then, frankly, I have no reason to care about them. And if they do start going off about the truth behind my little war, they’ll just sound like lunatic conspiracy theorists!”
“But they will still be saying the truth,” I said. “And nothing can change the truth.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Zerus hiked his voice up, calling to the pilot. “You can take us out to the lake any time you want!”
“What lake?” I questioned as we took off.
“Hatara Lake!” Zerus said, excitement coming into his voice as he described it. “It’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world! Absolutely massive! The river it connects to is enough to nourish all of White Forest!”
“White Forest? I have heard some fascinating things about the Pokémon there,” I said, trying to keep the conversation going.
“Yeah, the Pokémon are pretty good, considering that’s where I used to live before all of this! And you, Larch, are lucky enough to get both a bird’s-eye and close-up view of all of it.”
I realized what he was planning to do and broke into a sweat. “Well, then, pushing me out, is it?”
“Oh, you know it!” Zerus said with psychotic glee.
I realized that it was now or never, as we went of to the esteemed lake, trying to ready myself for what would occur and recall what was necessary for such a situation as this.
After some time, we ended up out of the city and near the lake, which, true to his word, was absolutely massive, almost enough to hold the entirety of Pallet Town within its waters. Also true to his word was that the pilot had stopped quite a ways over it, allowing me an ideal view of the lake and the forest that surrounded it. However, that was hardly the time to admire any scenery, considering I was about to get the closest view possible of the lake.
“Take a good look, Larch!” Zerus cried over the roar of the helicopter’s rotors. “This’ll be one of the last things you ever see, so I hope you enjoy it!”
“This is it, then?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“Yes…yes it is,” he said, forcing me up and setting me beside the open doors. “Larch…it’s been a lot of things. It’s been annoying, it’s been triumphant, in some ways I might even go so far as to say fun, but it’s finally time to pull the thorn out. Goodbye, professor. Have a nice trip!”
I did not bother to fight back as he pushed me out over the water, since doing so would probably only end up with me getting shot and then getting pushed out anyway. For several seconds I fell, and I did my best to get into the best position: feet first, knees bent slightly, and so on, so that I could reduce the impact of the landing as best as possible. When I did hit, despite my best efforts, it still felt like I had been hit with a truck, as the cold water of the lake surrounded me after my legs had almost been turned into jelly. I had little knowledge of what, exactly, happened after the impact, other than sinking down to the bottom of the lake as my vision faded out, hoping desperately that my friends had done something in time…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
After what seemed like hours, or seconds, or at least something, my eyes opened again, I found myself in a great, empty white void, nothing around me but a total vacuum.
“Hello?” I cried, hoping I would get some response, but none came. “Is anybody there? Anybody?”
“Larch?” a voice, unrecognizable and omnipresent, came down to me, which barely helped my situation.
“Where am I?”
“Wake up,” the voice said again.
“Excuse me?” I asked, now confused.
“Wake up, *******!”
The white void disappeared, and I gasped, water pouring out of my mouth as I sat up on the beach of Hatara Lake. “My god!” I said, taking a moment to collect myself before looking at my surroundings. In front of me was Rembrandt, who did not seem terribly pleased with my little stunt.
“The first time I get let in this place, and I find out you did the stupidest goddamn thing of all time?” he asked, crossing his arms and tapping his foot. “What the hell were you thinking, moron?”
I smiled. “Good to see you too, Rembrandt, as ever.”
“Good to see me?” he asked, baffled. “You nearly drowned in that lake! We were barely able to pull you out!”
“We?” I was suddenly aware of the presence of something behind me, and turned around to find that Slick and Jon were also present, but they seemed far more pleased, as well as soaking wet. “You all saved me?”
“Yep,” Slick said, deserved pride well apparent in his voice. “Dragged you out of the lake ourselves, after we hauled ass after that helicopter.”
“You ran all the way out here to save me?” I asked.
“Hell yeah, we did!” Slick said. “Hell of a workout, too. I had to carry these two guys, but it was worth it, I think.”
I stood up completely, some more of the lake’s water running off of me. “Believe you me, I am incredibly grateful, and I do not know how I could possibly repay you for this.”
“There is one way,” Slick said.
“Kick my brother’s ass.”
I smiled. “I was fully planning on doing that anyway…wait.”
“What?” Slick asked.
“I…had a vision, just before I woke up, a white void. Am I dead, and this merely an illusion?”
“Let’s find out!” Rembrandt yelled, kicking me quite strongly in the shin, which, thankfully, hurt quite a bit.
“Agh!” I cried, clutching at the strike before I realized what it meant. “This…this is the truth! I am alive!”
“Rembrandt, stop being a douche,” Slick warned.
“Er, yes, that may be a recommendable course of action,” I said, realizing something else. “How are we going to get back? I hardly think we can all run back to the city.”
“Don’t worry, we’ve got it under control, too,” Slick said, pointing up to the sky. I looked to where he was guiding, and surprisingly enough saw Bill, Anne’s Charizard, coming into the fray, leaving a streak of smoke behind him.
“Bill!” I said, running over to his landing spot. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m going to be the transportation!” he said proudly, standing full and upright. “Where do you need to go?”
“Let’s go kick Zerus’ ass!” Slick proposed, but I had better ideas.
“No, we should regroup at the hotel and then go kick his ass. Perhaps that Latias of Jack’s can take us to him. By the way, did you notice where he was going?”
“Yeah, north, somewhere,” Slick said, pointing in that direction.
“North it is, then,” I said. “But first, it would be wise to go regroup at the hotel, so we can have a larger force.”
“Good plan,” Bill said. “I can take us there right away.”
“Can you handle such a large distance?” I asked, recalling what had happened all the way back in Kanto.
“If the safety of the world itself is on the line, then yes, I can handle it. Come on!” Bill turned around and we all climbed on his back.
“Hold on, guys!” Bill said as he gave a powerful flap of his wings and took off, carrying us back to the city at incredible speeds, me screaming along as he did…
With Bill’s astonishing strength and ability, we found ourselves back at Black City in almost no time, noticing a few very peculiar things as we touched down on an apartment building near City Hall. For one, a massive crowd had gathered around the hall, holding up several large signs that I was unable to read.
“A protest?” I wondered as I climbed off of Bill.
“More like a riot,” Rembrandt said. I looked closer and saw he was right; several objects were being thrown at the building, many of which looked quite heavy.
“What on earth is going on?” I wondered aloud.
“Let’s go find out. This could be important later,” Slick suggested.
“Down there? With those lunatics? Have you lost your mind?” I asked, frankly horrified by the thought of it.
“What, you’ll jump out of a helicopter, but you won’t go near a couple of pissed-off guys?” Rembrandt asked.
“I…well…oh, fine,” I conceded. Rembrandt, Slick, and I made our way to the fire escape, as Bill flew off to reconvene with Anne.
“I do not have a good feeling about this,” I said as we made our way to the crowd. As we drew nearer and nearer, the crowd somehow seemed to grow even larger, an endless sea of people that were chanting and raving. Many of the signs became readable as well, saying such things as “Reform now!” and “Is this really safety?” Most of said signs looked incredibly crude, as if they had just been made a few minutes ago with cardboard and a Sharpie.
“Excuse me!” I cried, attempting to make my voice heard above the utter din around us and failing miserably. “Excuse me, may I speak with somebody?”
“Hey, *******s!” Slick yelled, his hands cupped to his mouth like a crude megaphone. “This guy wants to talk with somebody!”
Although we remained mostly ignored, somebody who was simply chanting along and not carrying any sign noticed us and walked over, seeming quite glad to see us.
“Are you here for the protest?” he asked, seeming genuinely curious as to the answer.
“Er…not really. In fact, I just noticed it now. What is going on?” I asked.
“We’re sick of the government intruding on our daily lives, and that stunt with the Chinook earlier was the final straw!”
“Oh, really?” I said, nearly choking as I recalled the role I had in that.
“Yeah! We’re tired of the government putting us in danger to protect us from invisible enemies! Down with military control!”
“This is getting ridiculous,” Rembrandt said, pinching his nose. “How do you do these things? Why couldn’t we have just stayed in Kanto? It was nice there! Things made sense!”
“I would never have stayed in Kanto if I knew this business was going on,” I said, “and I am glad I did not. Come, we should go with the others. They are in the hotel, right?”
“Yeah, they’re in the hotel,” Slick answered. “Wait, are those police sirens?”
I listened for a moment, and just barely heard the sound of law enforcement coming to theoretically defuse the situation, but I knew they would not do anything helpful for it at all.
“I think perhaps we should go before this turns south,” I suggested. The others readily agreed and we made haste away as the police came in, but unfortunately, one of the policemen noticed me and pulled over, leaving his comrades to deal with the riot.
“Erm, what seems to be the problem, officer?” I asked, frozen in shock, as he made his way towards me.
“Weren’t you that guy getting chased around by the helicopter earlier?” he asked, subtly reaching for his weapon.
“No, why do you ask?” I lied through my teeth.
“He’s still at large, and very much so, at that,” he said, looking to his right at the crowd. “I mean, look at this mess!”
“I hardly think that this catastrophe is his fault,” I defended. “The law enforcement clearly overreacted to a nonexistent threat. Absolutely embarrassing, if you ask me.”
“Are you saying you side with these guys?”
“Perhaps I do!” I cried, rushing forward and punching the cop in the face, sending him straight to the floor.
“Holy ****!” Rembrandt cried in horror. “You just took out a cop!”
“You’re really not helping the situation, Larch!” Slick chided.
“Oh, come on, they have their hands far too full to care about me,” I said, pointing at the crowd, in which several fights had started to break out between the cops and the protesters.
“That doesn’t give you free reign to act like a crazy person!” Slick shouted.
“Considering you are the one attracting the most attention, I would be more cautious,” I said. “Come on, let us go to the hotel, I have had enough of this.”
The others walked off, but I lingered for a moment, looking at the unconscious policeman before following.
In the hotel’s lobby, something else was going on as well: a number of policemen were escorting the agents and valet out of the building. I carefully avoided them, remaining unseen as the three would-be assassins kept their heads down to prevent anybody from seeing their face.
“What an absolute terror!” somebody society women cried, looking at them with fear.
“What do you mean?” I asked, stepping closer to her as they were removed from the building entirely.
“Well, such vicious beasts on the top floor of the building?” she said. “Oh, it makes me sick just thinking about it!”
“Well, you needn’t worry about them any longer. They are being quite thoroughly removed, and I doubt they will be making a return.”
“Those were government agents, I tell you!” another man in a large cowboy hat, bolo tie, and such associated things called out. “They’re trying to take us out to restart that war!”
“That’s ridiculous!” the woman objected. “Our own government would never do something so…so heinous as this!”
“I would not be too sure,” I interjected. “Just a while ago, the vice president pushed me out of a helicopter into a lake.”
“What? Oh!” the woman fainted, hand held to her forehead, and I rushed forward to catch her.
“I told you it’s the government!” the cowboy cried. “That Chinook should have been proof enough, but you have to believe me now! Just look at the protest!” He pointed out the window at the large group of people, and several people around us mumbled in approval of the notion. “Well, I won’t have it! No matter what they try to do to start that stupid war over again, I won’t have any part of it!”
“You won’t?” I asked, pleased that Zerus’ plan may not have been as perfect as he thought.
“No!” he cried, taking off his hat and throwing it to the floor. “If our own government isn’t able to do something without going behind all our backs, why should we trust them in a war situation that they caused!”
“Yeah!” some unseen person cried out, followed by many others.
“I’m damn glad that war is over, and so is everyone in this room! No more war! No more war!” The entire room joined him in the chant, repeating the phrase over and over again, louder each time.
“Let’s get out of here,” Slick suggested, barely heard over the chanting around us. “This is getting kinda freaky.”
“I could not agree more.”
There were, luckily, no more police at the top of the hotel where our penthouse was, allowing for easy access to the grand room. Of course, when we opened it, the others were quite surprised to see me, even if they did know about my little plan. Anne was probably the most glad to see me, judging by how she ran up to me and seized me in the most powerful bear hug I had ever received.
“You’re okay!” she cried, squeezing tighter and tighter. “Never do something that stupid again, do you hear me?”
“Anne, I rather like my ribcage, so if you would be so kind as to release me…” I said, my voice strained.
“What? Oh, right, sorry,” she said, allowing me to breathe once more.
“Thank you! Now then, I am safe and sound, so what shall be done?”
“I say we go straight to that ******* Zerus’ place and shove that ponytail of his up his ass sideways!” Jack suggested, his face red with fury.
“Uh, Jack, that might be a tad on the…unnecessary side…” I warned.
“He threw you out of a helicopter and you’re telling me you don’t want to kick his ass?” Jack asked, completely disbelieving. I did have to admit that Zerus was hardly my favorite person in the world at the moment.
“Well…we shall see what happens when it comes to that. For now, we must go North, and quickly, lest he complete his plot.”
“Would it even work?” Ralph asked. “I mean, with that riot out there, people don’t seem particularly willing to listen to anybody higher up at the moment.”
“The consequences could still be disastrous,” I noted. “It could possibly even lead to a civil war on top of the old one, and that would just be horrific.”
“Okay, now you’re just being absurd,” Slick admonished. “There’s no way it’s going to go anywhere near that far.”
“You never know,” I said. “Is there any way to get north quickly enough? We should probably make haste.”
“I think there might be something…” Jack said.
“What would that be?” I demanded, stepping closer.
“Latias!” he shouted triumphantly.
“Latias?” Slick asked. “You have a Latias?”
“Yeah, I totally kicked her ass,” Rembrandt claimed. “It was pretty awesome.”
“You did not and it wasn’t,” I said, turning back to Jack. “How can she help us in this endeavor?”
“God, you talk like an *******,” Jack said. “But seriously, she can travel stupid fast, and she’s telekinetic. She’ll help us out.”
“That could prove useful,” I noted. “But it could also be dangerous. They could well detect a supersonic aircraft, and that would not end very well for us at all.”
“What, you think they’re gonna have missiles that can shoot down a Psychic Legendary? I’d love to see them try!” Jack boasted.
“You would put your own Pokémon in the face of death to prove yourself worthy?!” I cried, shocked at his implication.
“What? No! That’s the stupidest…what the hell are you talking about?”
“I will not let you risk a Pokémon getting blown up by a missile!”
“You’ll risk yourself getting killed, though?!” Rembrandt cried. “God damn it, you scared me when you pulled that little stunt!”
“What?” I asked, surprised by the admission. The conversation would have continued, if not for a sudden explosion from somewhere outside. We all recoiled, expecting something terrible to have happened, but as we all remained intact, it was clear something very different had happened.
“Now what’s going on?” Jack asked, walking over to his room and looking out the window. He gasped in shock when he saw what had transpired outside of the hotel.
“What is it? What happened?” I asked as we all ran up. It became obvious when we saw that smoke was wafting up from the massive crowd, seemingly from the shells of several ruined police cars.
“Holy ****, it’s turning south!” Slick yelled.
“Dear god,” I said. “Look at this mess!”
“Let’s get out of here before we get shot or something,” Jack suggested, an idea that was met with widespread approval.
“But where would be a good place to get the Latias out?” Slick asked. “If we do it on the ground, we’ll get noticed for sure.”
“Can we get on the roof?” Anne wondered.
“Of course!” I cried. “The roof would be perfect for this. Good job, Anne!”
“Uh, thanks?” she said, unsure of it as we all ran off to find a way up.
A search of the hallway turned up only the same elevator that had already led us up, so we figured that would be the best place to start. We all tried to cram ourselves in there, finding that although our numbers were great, we could still fit in and have at least some room to move around.
“Okay, let me see…” Slick said, looking at the button panel for anything that would help us get up to the roof. “Well, there’s an emergency fire button, that could be useful for a distraction if we ever come back here…”
“Stop making up future plans and focus on the present, please,” I requested. “We have a job to do and only a limited time to do it in, stop wasting time.”
“All right, all right, get off my back, already!” Slick defended. “Geez, rude…hey, there’s a panel here!” He started fiddling around with it, eventually releasing a hidden latch that revealed an entirely new panel of buttons, likely an engineering panel for firefighters or something.
“Damn, I’m good!” Slick said as he pressed the button labeled “maintenance access”. The doors violently shut and the elevator lurched to life, gears that were probably used only rarely taking us up to another room just below the roof, some sort of engineering area with all manner of boilers, pipes, and other such things scattered throughout it. It looked as if it was not often used, but more importantly, it had a staircase that could only have possibly led to one location.
“About time we got out of this place,” Slick said as we ascended the stairs to the roof, which was surprisingly devoid of anything, save for a few air conditioning units and a TV satellite. “All of that decadence was starting to make me sick.”
“I can sympathize,” I said. “Jack, would you care to do the honors?”
“Hell yeah, I would!” he said, pulling out his PokeBall and pointing it at the roof. “Trust me, this is going to kick ass like you won’t believe!”
“You seem excited,” I noted.
“Shouldn’t I be? This is gonna be sweet!”
He pressed the button, and the strange shape of the Latias appeared, outlined in red energy before converging into the expected red-and-white dragon we all recognized, save Slick, who seemed about ready to bow down in reverence.
“Hello,” he whispered, outright shocked.
“Hm?” Latias asked, getting a grasp of her surroundings and noticing Slick at last. “Oh, hi, guys! Who’s the black guy?”
“Latias!” Jack cried, running for her. “That’s kind of inappropriate…”
“I’m Slick,” he said, ignoring him and walking forward, cane shaking. “How am I today?”
Anne slapped her face. “What are you doing?”
“Uh, hello?” Latias asked, putting forward her hand. “Slick, right? That’s certainly an interesting name.”
“Do you like it? I chose it myself,” he said, shaking slightly. “Have you seen my monocle? It’s lovely.” He attempted to take off said item for her to take a closer look, but it merely fell to the floor after he fumbled with it for a bit.
“Jesus Christ,” Jack muttered. “What the hell is that?”
“I’ll…I’ll just go over here now,” Slick said, awkwardly slinking off to another part of the roof.
“That was strange,” Latias said. “So, now what?”
“Latias, we’re going to need you to do something very special for us,” Jack explained.
“Does that include the black guy?” she asked, ignoring the earlier advice.
Jack sighed, closing his eyes a bit. “Yes, that includes Slick, and I’m sorry in advance that you have to spend any more time around him.”
“Hey!” Slick cried, turning back. “I heard that! I’m still up here, you know!”
“Oh, right, sorry!” Jack said, leaning down to pick up the monocle. “As long as you’re still up here, do you want this back, Casanova?”
“I panicked, okay!” Slick cried in indignation. “Like I’m sure you never have!”
“I do better than that!” Jack yelled, stepping past Latias and very intentionally getting in Slick’s face. “I don’t go around dropping **** and saying even stupider…****!”
“Aw, couldn’t think of another word, smartass?” Slick countered, pushing against Jack’s shoulder. “I guess you must really be good at this, huh?”
“Guys, please stop fighting,” Latias admonished.
“Shut up, we’re talking,” Jack quite rudely blew off. “How do I know you’re not working for your brother and you’re trying to sabotage us?”
“What?!” Slick yelled, nearly snapping his cane in two in his anger. “Why would I do that? My brother is an even bigger ******* than you are!”
“Enough!” Ralph yelled, pulling out his stolen handgun and firing several shots into the air. I instinctively ducked down and covered my head, but Ralph was hardly done yet. “You’re both acting like little children, and it’s embarrassing.”
“ER, thank you, Ralph,” I said, trying to get back on track. “All right, then, Latias, we believe that somewhere north there is a military base holding a very unpleasant person who is trying to kill us and take over the world, and we will need you to take us there.”
“What the hell have you been getting up to since Kanto?” she asked.
“Very interesting things, that is for sure,” I said. “Is it possible for you to psychically detect someone at such a distance? He is a Zoroark, like Slick there, in the event that helps.”
“Hm…” She carefully observed Slick for a moment, who was now very awkwardly trying to remain unknown. “That’s a pretty specific psychic signature, I should be able to…aha!” she cried. “I’ve got him!”
“Where is he?” I demanded.
“Well, he is quite a bit to the north, but I should be able to take you there no problem. If I just do this…” she focused for a moment, and a slightly distorted bubble of air appeared, some sort of psychic method of protecting us along the journey. “Hey, sweet, I got that on the first try! Okay, if you just step inside of this bubble, I’ll be able to take you there at the speed of sound!”
“Literally?” I asked, choking slightly.
“Well, yeah, he’s pretty far away, and you want to get there as fast as you can, right?” Latias asked.
“Well, yes, but…are you sure this is safe?”
“Larch, stop being a wimp and step in the bubble,” Jack chided. “This is going to work perfectly and you have nothing to be afraid of. Besides, I came up with this, and she’s tested it quite a bit. It’s fine.”
“You have done this before?” I asked.
“Hell yeah, I have!” Jack said with pride. “No reason to have a car or a plane or something when you can go wherever you want at the speed of sound!”
I stared at him for a moment, surprised he would do something so obscenely dangerous, but shook it off and stepped inside the bubble, my skin tingling a bit as I did so. When I was completely absorbed by the psychic power, I noticed the distinct smell of ozone as well, probably a side consequence of it.
“Will we be able to breathe in here?” Ralph asked as he joined me inside. “Smells kind of funny…”
“I’ve done this for an hour at a time before,” Jack explained. “I’ve never had any trouble at all.”
The others all took a place inside, and although it was rather cramped, it was obvious that we would be fairly safe within the bubble.
“Okay, we’re going to be accelerating by, um, a lot,” Latias warned, “so be ready for that. I tried to keep it fairly pressurized, but it still might be a bit bumpy.” She floated up above the roof, taking us along with it. I do admit that the feeling of standing on something while floating in midair was quite strange indeed, and I nearly did throw up at first when I realized what was happening. However, that was nothing at all compared to what happened next: we accelerated at an absurdly rapid pace, exiting the city’s limits in less than a minute and flying across the countryside to our destination. Despite such incredible speed, within the bubble, it was quite impossible to feel any of the forces that should have been there.
“Holy ****!” Slick yelled, as he observed the ground passing beneath us in a massive green blur.
“Don’t you ****ing throw up in here!” Jack warned.
“I am afraid I might be unable to comply,” I said, clutching my stomach.
“Well, comply, dumbass!” Jack yelled back.
“Uh, guys?” Latias shouted, or more likely, thought to us. “You might want to hold on.”
“What?” I said, as she suddenly span us around in some manner of evasive maneuvre. I saw the reason soon enough, as a large missile passed beneath us, before turning back and exploding. She immediately decelerated and landed in the forest beneath, releasing us from the bubble just outside some manner of military compound, which was indeed very well hidden and looked well-equipped to address the whole nation at once.
“You all right?” she asked. “That was a close one!”
“Oh, dear god,” I spat out, hastily running to a nearby bush to throw up. Upon my stumbling return, we all convened to determine what should be done.
“I think we should take a few minutes to recover from that,” Anne suggested. “That was…interesting.”
“Sorry,” Latias apologized as we took some time to collect ourselves. Once we had finished, though, there would be no more waiting; we had to stop Zerus or else the entire world might have been plunged back into war…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Wow, I literally just remembered this, like, today. I'll try to upload the rest over the course of the week.
Showdown, Part One
After we had all recovered from the recent incident, some of us vomiting, some not, we congregated once more to discuss what had to be done, trying to stay hidden from the base that was so close to us, luckily protected by the trees above.
“Has everyone recovered?” Ralph asked, rubbing his throat. “That was really unpleasant.”
“I’m good,” Anne said, and the rest of soon gave confirmation as well, quite eager to begin planning for Zerus’ defeat.
“Obviously, it’s not a very large compound,” Ralph noted, “so there probably won’t be a huge amount of security to deal with, but we’ll still need to be prepared.”
“What about Zerus?” Anne questioned. “He’ll probably be able to figure out exactly where we are if we try anything.”
“Does that mean he knows where we are now?” Latias asked.
“I doubt it,” Slick countered, “we’re pretty far away from the compound and we came down pretty hard. He probably assumed we all crashed and died or something.”
“A massive advantage,” I pointed out. “We should probably get a feel for what we are working with before we start. If everybody would be so kind to release their Pokémon?”
“Sounds good.” Anne did, pulling out the four spheres and releasing the creatures contained therein, their powerful and frightening forms soon revealed to us all.
“Oh, I’m back?” Bill wondered aloud, looking around. “Sweet!”
“Who’s the black guy?” Carolus, the Arcanine, asked.
“For goodness’ sake!” I cried. “Does nobody realize how bad that sounds?”
“I’m Slick,” the aforementioned answered regardless, proudly presenting himself. “I am Anne’s latest addition to the team.”
“Sweet,” Henry, the Mightyena, said in approval. “What can you do?”
“Illusion magic, fighting, cat burglary…”
“Well, it’s true, and you asked what I could do!” Slick cried, indignant. “Are you gonna get all pissy that I answered your question?”
“Um, no sir?” Henry backed down slightly, clearly afraid of him, despite his own abilities.
“That’s what I thought…”
“That’s…that’s quite the collection,” Jack noted, sounding worried for some reason.
“Isn’t it?” Anne said. “So, Ralph, what do you have?”
Ralph shrugged. “I left them at the hotel. I didn’t think to grab them.”
“Oh,” Anne said, sounding genuinely disappointed. “All right, Jack, what do you have?”
“Uh…really, I think Latias is going to be enough…”
“Aw, come on!” Anne said, grabbing his shoulder and delivering a noogie upon him. “You’re, like, the most badass trainer ever! Who knows what you have!”
“Well…that’s the thing, see—“
“What?” Anne asked. “You’ve gotta have something useful, right?”
“Well…remember that story I told you on the ship about how I caught Mew?”
“Yeah?” We all leaned in closer, eager to here this new addition to his tale.
“That…kind of never happened.” Jack rubbed the back of his head, the ruse finally up.
“What do you mean that never happened?” I demanded. “What about the Manaphy? Or the Tyranitar that had just leveled a mountain?”
“Those also never happened,” Jack explained, now thoroughly embarrassed.
“So you lied about everything except the Latias?” I further prodded.
“…Kind of?” Jack smiled, trying to deflect it.
“I knew it!” I cried. “Nobody could possibly accomplish all of the things you claimed!”
“I never agreed to hang around with a liar!” Latias cried, anger clear on her unique visage.
“Agreed?” Slick asked. “What, like me and Anne did?”
“Well…yes,” Jack said. “I have a Fearow right now, and he and I were able to track down Latias after a while, and she agreed to go with me because…I made a good impression, I guess.”
“I was impressed you were able to find me,” Latias corrected, “but if I knew how often you lied about things, I never would have agreed.”
“Well, I had a reputation to uphold, all right!” Jack cried. “Do you realize how few people have even seen a Legendary Pokémon? Not many, so I was the talk of the town! But once people started getting bored with me, they moved on to other things, so I had to make up for it! I figured I wouldn’t be able to catch another one, so…I made some stuff up so I could stay in the spotlight.”
“And if you lied about all that, how do I know you’re not a sleeper agent for my brother?” Slick accused, pointing his cane at Jack like a finger.
“What?” Jack asked, genuinely confused. “Why would I do that? Your brother’s a douchebag!”
Slick calmed down, relaxing the cane. “All right, but I have my eye on you.”
“Okay, so you have a Fearow and a Latias,” I said. “We can definitely work with that, I think, no huge issue…”
“Here you go,” Jack said, pulling out a second PokeBall and releasing his Fearow, the large bird appearing in quite imposing form.
“Hey, long time, no see!” he said, in a scratchy, high-pitched voice. “Who’s these sorry nerds?”
“That was not even close to a sentence,” I noted.
“Ooh, a heckler, eh?” Fearow asked. “Yeah, I’ll bet you think you’re hot ♥♥♥♥, huh? I’m here all week!”
“I get the feeling some trainers might not like your translator invention,” Ralph noted.
“I am beginning to worry the same,” I said, quickly changing the subject to something less stupid. “Latias, is it possible for you to provide psychic interference as to the source of one of Slick’s illusions?”
“Uh…I think!” she said. “Here, let me see one so that I can try to mess it up.”
Slick immediately complied, changing himself to resemble me, in a very suspiciously unflattering manner. While I pouted somewhat, Latias carefully studied him, eventually coming to a conclusion.
“Yeah, I’ll definitely be able to work with this,” she said, nodding in approval.
“Okay, if you can block the source, I think I know what we should do,” Ralph began explaining. “First of all…”
A bit later, after our plan had been decided upon, and though it was certainly risky, we knew it had to be done.
At the edge of the forest just outside of the compound, I laid in wait, along with the rest of my compatriots, carefully observing the gates that led in. There were two guards on the outside, and both of them looked very, very bored. Luckily, I was about to make their day far more interesting, and at no cost at all.
To them, it appeared that I walked out of the forest, very casually and a smarmy grin on my face. As I walked up to the gate, they stared in confusion, not entirely sure what to do when faced with somebody who was, by all accounts, a coprse at the bottom of a lake.
“Hello, gentlemen,” I greeted, “might I be given audience with Mr. Zerus?”
They did not answer, instead choosing to continue staring.
“Well? Yes or no?”
Again, the question went rudely unanswered, so I resorted to the other option.
“Hey, Zerus!” I shouted as loudly as I possibly could. “How about you drag your miserable self out here and we settle this matter once and for all! Or are you too lazy to do that? I know you have trouble with actually checking to ensure you’ve killed your enemies!”
The two soldiers held their guns up, but were given pause when the massive gate behind them opened, very slowly revealing Zerus standing there, absolutely fuming with rage.
“What the hell is this ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥?!” he demanded, stepping outside. “I killed you!”
“Evidently, you have not, as I am still standing here and am not, in fact, dead.”
“Look, you smarmy little ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, I don’t know what the hell you did, but I’m going to end this, just like you wanted!” To fulfill this promise, he pulled out a gun and aimed it level with my forehead, but I showed no reaction whatsoever. He stared at me, baffled that I would not show fear, but then broke into a smile.
“I get it,” he said, “you survived getting thrown out of a helicopter, so now you think you’re goddamn Superman. Is that it?”
“Perhaps,” I answered.
“Yeah, yeah, sure. Before I kill you, how about you go ahead and tell me how you did it.”
“Simple,” I stated, “my friends came to my aid. Very good to have companions, I find.”
Zerus scowled. “That’s garbage. The only person you need is yourself. Other people are just a distraction.”
“Is that why you abandoned your brother?” I asked, intentionally trying to drive him up.
“Shut up!” he cried, putting his finger on the trigger. “He was a useless ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, just like every other dip♥♥♥♥ on this planet! Those stupid humans have all this ♥♥♥♥ about ‘oh, you’re so special’ from preschool on, and what’s it do? It convinces everybody that they’re the ♥♥♥♥, and then they never do anything because they think they’re entitled to everything! Well, I’m going to fix it, and you won’t stop me, no matter what you try!”
“What if it is not just me?” I prodded. “After all, the people of Black City have begun a riot against your little stunt earlier today.”
Zerus merely scoffed at my point. “A minor distraction, at best. Just a bunch of children throwing a temper tantrum. I’ll have to hold off the announcement of the polonium attempt for a bit so they’ll actually pay attention to it, but that won’t matter. I waited ten years for this; I can wait a little longer.”
“But your plan hinges very precisely on my death,” I noted. “And here I still stand while you yammer on and on.”
“Good point,” Zerus said. “You seem remarkably fearless for somebody who’s about to get shot between the eyes.”
“Like you said, I nearly died once, and who knows, perhaps I will get lucky again.”
Zerus smiled cruelly, clearly enjoying what he thought was about to happen. “I doubt it.” He pulled the trigger, and a massive report echoed loudly throughout the forest, but to his shock and horror, I still stood, the bullet seemingly having no effect.
“What…” he whispered, stepping back. “That…that’s not possible!” He fired at me a few more times, but again, it did nothing. “What the hell is this?”
“Want to try again?” I asked. “You might well get it eventually!”
Zerus looked me up and down, but then smiled. “I get what this is,” he said. “Slick is trying to make some fancy-ass illusionary projection of you so I get confused. Well, nice try, but I can tell exactly where he is!” Zerus focused for a moment, but horror was soon evident on his visage as he realized something was blocking him. “W-what? Where are you? What’s blocking me?”
“Such is the power of a legendary Pokémon,” I explained. “They can stop you from telling where, exactly, your brother is. Care to keep trying?”
“Don’t you dare mock me!” Zerus shouted. “I’ll put a stop to this nonsense!” He fired his gun wildly into the forest, hitting none of us at all. He screamed once more and threw the gun to the ground. “Show yourselves!”
His request was fulfilled in a way as Latias flew out of the bushes, the psychic barrier broken, and she attacked the two soldiers, knocking them out and removing their weapons so quickly she appeared only as a streak of white and red.
“What the ♥♥♥♥?!” Zerus cried as he watched the two men collapse to the ground. “What did you do?”
“Ever seen a Latias?” I asked. “Absolutely amazing! Capable of moving at incredible speed, and numerous psychic abilities!”
“You son of a ♥♥♥♥♥!” Zerus shouted. “You tricked me!”
“You could try shooting again,” I suggested, putting on the smuggest smile I could manage.
“♥♥♥♥ you!” Zerus shouted, running over and picking up one of the guns that the soldiers had lost, pulling back the hammer and aiming at the forest. “I’ll hit you somehow!” He pulled the trigger back, releasing a deadly volley of fire, but all of the bullets missed again, passing through the false image and the trees. By the time he had emptied the magazine, nothing had been accomplished at all, and he was absolutely steaming with rage.
“Sir, what’s going on?” somebody asked from the other side of the wall surrounding the complex.
“We have some intruders here,” Zerus said, breathing heavily. “Pull out all the defenses.”
“All of them, sir?” the voice questioned.
“ALL OF THEM!” Zerus shouted, a tower of bright red flame erupting upwards as he revealed his true form once more, red energy coming off him as his rage built higher and higher. “Kill them! Kill all of them!”
The gates opened up and revealed a large number of other soldiers, all well-armed with those same rifles.
“Did you forget that I am nothing more than an illusion?” I asked. “Besides, Latias is easily able to deflect any bullets that might hit one of us. Speaking of which…”
My illusory self dissipated, leaving nothing in its place that would imply something had once been there, the signal for Bill to fly out of the forest, another one of Slick’s illusions making him look like a terrifying beast straight from the bowels of hell itself, much larger than any Charizard had a right to be and spewing black fire all about. The soldiers fired a few shots at him half-heartedly, terrified of this dark specter, but Latias easily deflected them as he landed before Zerus, looking down upon him like the judgment of a god. But Zerus, surprisingly enough, showed no fear of this imminent destruction, and simply looked up.
“This is nothing more than an illusion to make me think that you’re bigger than you really are,” Zerus said. “I have no reason to fear you. Now get out of the way so I can kill these ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s once and for all.”
“I refuse,” Bill countered, his voice echoing throughout the forest even louder than the gunshot earlier.
“Well, that’s too bad!” Zerus cried. “Cause you’re right where I need to be going!”
“I won’t move,” Bill insisted.
“Then I’ll just have to move you out of the way myself!”
With these words, Zerus leapt up, spinning around rapidly and delivering what would have been a deadly kick to where he thought Bill’s head was, but as his size was an illusion, he hit nothing but air. However, the disturbance from the kick was enough to make the illusion dissipate, revealing Bill’s true form, although now he was quite angry.
“You missed,” he said, pulling his head back and unleashing a terrible volley of searing flame. Zerus barely dodged out of the way, as did the soldiers behind him, who quickly took cover behind the doors and started shooting, but Latias’ protection again graced him and they dissolved, leaving him unharmed.
“Will you ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s stop cheating?!” Zerus cried, sharp claws poised to gouge something. “Just die already!”
“I’m not planning on it!” Bill spun around, his flaming tail nearly taking Zerus out, but he easily dodged the attack, ducking under it and running at Bill, attempting a few jabs at his neck with his claws while he was distracted and he had an element of surprise. This was easily noticed, however, and Bill ducked under it, soon realizing that this was a pointless effort.
“Anne!” he shouted as he weaved between some other blows. “Return!”
That same red glow enveloped him and he disappeared, causing Zerus to stumble, giving him a chance to cool off.
“All right!” he cried. “Who’s next up? Probably that Arcanine of yours, right? Or the Houndoom? I know exactly what your team is and what they do! So tell me, which one will it be?”
“Me!” Ralph shouted, leaping out, handgun raised, and loosing several shots. Zerus impossibly managed to weave between them, all the bullets barely passing by and striking the wall, missing the soldiers as well. I noticed that Ralph silently cursed and threw the gun away. He faced the ever-approaching Zerus, who threw a punch as Ralph threw one as well, both of them connecting with the powerful sound of flesh and bone striking colliding. They reeled in pain, Ralph ducking back in as Latias, Slick, Rembrandt, and myself all reconvened in the shadows of the forest, still well-hidden to all of them. Anne, meanwhile, released Carolus to keep Zerus busy, so that we might be able to discuss the rest of the plan.
“We need to get rid of those soldiers somehow,” I said. “Otherwise there is no way for us to get in.”
“They don’t seem to be very good at their jobs,” Slick noted. “Unprofessional, not using tactics very well, weak…they might just be paid mercenaries that Zerus got for this.”
“I agree,” Ralph said, walking up to us. “They’ve probably been really poorly trained compared to actual soldiers. And we should use that…”
“But, that plan!” I objected.
“Look, we need to get past them somehow.”
“I have an idea for that,” I said. “I fear whatever it is you were thinking of doing. Latias?”
“Yes?” she asked.
“Would it be possible for you to knock the guards unconscious with your psychic powers?”
“Uh…it could be dangerous…”
“Is that a yes?”
She frowned. “I could give them serious brain damage, but…I’ll try.” She closed her eyes and focused hard, Zerus soon crying out in surprise as his hired mercenaries dropped to the floor.
“What the hell did you do?!” he cried, trying as hard as he could to keep Carolus at bay. The Arcanine nearly took a massive bite out of his torso, but it was barely avoided, and a strike at the back of his neck sent Carolus slinking back into the brush as Zerus took a moment to recover.
“Now is our chance!” I said. “Slick, Rembrandt, come with me!” I leapt out of the brush, as did both of them, Zerus not noticing as he tried to recover his strength. We expertly slipped inside the compound, stepping over the unconscious bodies of the mercenaries, but then noticed something that put a damper in our plans: a large artillery gun hidden beside the gate, aimed straight at us.
“Damn it, he’s good,” Slick said, as we all instinctively ran to the side of the deadly weapon, moving too quickly for the man inside to get a shot at us. Slick immediately ran up the side of the machine and threw the operator off of it, who landed in a crumpled heap at my feet.
“We should probably get inside,” I suggested, “there is no doubt that he heard that.”
“Let me just grab this…” Slick picked up a rifle from one of the fallen soldiers, brandishing it proudly as we entered the building. It was a fairly bland institution; grey concrete walls, a few side rooms, very few amenities and quite Spartan in appearance. Still, its simplicity offered us a hiding place, and as a furious Zerus ran in, we were able to duck down and hide ourselves so that he was unable to do anything.
“All right, let’s look for the broadcast area,” Slick whispered as Zerus passed us by.
“Broadcast area?” I questioned.
“Yeah, he’s gotta have something ready to deliver a nationwide broadcast, and if we take that out, the plan is foiled!”
“Clever,” I commended. “But we must hurry, and be cautious of him.”
We looked outside the room, and saw that the coast was clear, giving us the perfect opportunity. Slick pointed his gun outside and we slowly made our way forward, looking around for anything of note.
“What are we looking for, anyway?” Rembrandt whispered as we made our way, gently as possible.
“Any implication that the room is some sort of broadcast area…there!” I responded, pointing to a door labeled “TV room”. “That must be it!”
“♥♥♥♥, here he comes!” Slick said, pointing his gun down the hall as we heard those terrible footsteps. We immediately entered the room, quietly closing the door and just barely avoiding Zerus as he walked past, unknowing that we were inside. We relaxed and turned around, observing the room and what was contained therein. There was a camera in front of a green screen arrangement, clearly intended for the false message to the people of Unova, as well as a large array of intricate control consoles that were thankfully unmanned, and would hopefully remain as such.
“Good, we’re here,” Rembrandt said. “Let’s mess this stuff up!”
He excitedly ran for the camera, but I ducked down and grabbed his tail, halting him before he doomed us all.
“No, you idiot!” I said. “If we make any noise, he is sure to notice!”
“Yeah, Piccasso,” Slick chided, “You’ve got to be subtle about it. For example…” To demonstrate his theory, he walked over to the cable connecting the camera to the power, and with a single slash of his claw, severed it, causing quite severe damage and rendering it wholly unusable.
“Good work!” I congratulated, before looking at the console. “If we were to change about the presets there…”
“On it!” Rembrandt said, jumping up to the control panel and observing the massive amount of buttons in glee. “Oh, this is going to be fun…”
I did not stop him this time, as he was merely having some good fun pressing all the buttons he could and completely ruining the setup, yanking a few wires out and painting over the screens for good measure, rendering it utterly unusable.
“Good luck broadcasting now, ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥,” Slick said, turning to look at the green screen. “Hey, Rembrandt, what if you painted over that?”
“Oh, that’s a good idea!” Rembrandt halted his work of ruining the controls and walked over to the green screen, the color of his paint changing subtly. However, his fun was ruined as he barely made his first stroke, as the door opened to reveal none other than Greeley, holding a gun at us that was shaking heavily. We all froze in shock for a moment, surprised by this turn, before Slick grew furious.
“What the hell, Greeley?!” he shouted, pointing his gun at him. “You were in on this?!”
“Look,” Greeley said, sweat pouring down his brow, “just walk away now and we can put this all behind us. The plan is ruined, and Zerus said he doesn’t want to go through with it anymore, so let’s just all pretend this never happened…”
“Liar!” I cried. “Why should we believe you? You were working for him along! I might say you were the greatest deceiver of all!”
“Now, Larch, let’s not say anything we might regret,” Slick suggested.
Greeley stared at us for a few moments more, his gun switching targets faster than I could keep track of, before his eyes turned up and he fell over, surprising us even further.
“What the ♥♥♥♥?” Rembrandt said, running over to him and attempting to rouse him. “He just dropped.”
“Let me see,” Slick said, kneeling down to him and putting a claw to his forehead. “Oh my god, he’s being mind controlled. The strain must have been too much for him.”
“Mind controlled?” I asked.
“Yeah, Zerus must have done it somehow. Let me see if I can break it…” Slick carefully observed him for a moment, and then smacked him on the forehead.
“Slick!” I cried in alarm.
“What? I broke the mind control.”
“You just bruised the president! He is sure to be furious now!”
“Oh, he might be a little pissy, but he’ll thank me later. Probably give us a full pardon if we stop Zerus from being an ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.”
“Ah, yes, we have broken several laws recently, haven’t we?”
“Recently for you, maybe.”
“You haven’t done this before?” I asked.
“Well, nothing like this, but I’m no stranger to borrowing things and not putting them back.”
“Tomato, tomahto. Wait, he’s waking up!”
Indeed, Greeley slowly came to and sat up, leaving his gun lying on the floor. “What happened?” he asked, his voice groggy.
“You were being mind-controlled by your vice president,” I explained. “He is secretly a Zoroark in disguise who aims to take over the world with a false terrorist scare.”
“What?” Greeley asked, still confused. “He seemed like a good running mate…”
“Again, mind control,” I said. “You must leave, it is not safe for you here.”
“Right.” Greeley did not hesitate to make himself scarce from that studio, leaving us alone once more.
“Well, we saved the president,” Slick said. “Now, where’s Zerus?”
“Right here,” he said, appearing in the doorway, absolutely boiling with silent rage. “You interrupt my beautiful plan, waste my time, take out my mercenaries, attack my base, break my control over that idiot Greeley, and now you’ve completely ruined my studio!”
“Your plan stops here,” I said proudly. “You cannot do anything more. It’s over.”
“It’s not over!” Zerus cried. “After all, I’m still alive, and I’m still going to kill you!” He rushed at Slick, who held up his cane to block the blow, but was still pushed back several feet from the sheer force.
“Hey, this cane was expensive!” he complained. “You’ll scuff it up!”
“I’ll do more than that, brother!” Zerus yelled, beginning a furious barrage of punches that Slick was barely able to keep up with. Eventually, Slick slipped, and the claws glided past his defense and stabbed deep into Slick’s stomach, blood quickly pouring out of the devastating wound
“Slick!” I cried, horrified at the brutal sight.
“Well, I guess this is how it ends, eh, brother?” Zerus said, leaning in and cruelly twisting the claws.
“No,” Slick choked out, pulling his hand back and striking Zerus right in the eye, gouging it and blinding him. Zerus reeled back in hideous pain, clutching at the wound, as blood began to pour from Slick’s own wound. Zerus left, screaming all the way as he did, but I had more important matters to attend.
“Slick!” I said, leaning into him.
“I’ll be fine,” he said, nearly falling over. “If you can…get me in a PokeBall, I’ll be okay until you can get me attention…Anne should be able to handle this…”
“I thought you hated PokeBalls?” Rembrandt asked.
“I’m dying, you idiot, I don’t care what I end up in!” Slick yelled, wincing. “Or didn’t you notice the blood coming out of me?”
“Hold on,” I said, taking Rembrandt’s PokeBall and holding it out. “You’ll be okay. And we will get Zerus.”
I pressed the button, and Slick was immediately digitized within the sphere, which I handed to Rembrandt.
“Take this to Anne,” I instructed, picking up the gun that Slick had dropped. “I’m going to go get Zerus.”
Rembrandt understood and ran off, as I left the room and started looking around for the man who had caused us so much misery, fury in my eyes…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.
Showdown, Part Two
A search of the ground floor of the facility turned up little, beyond a weapons room I had no interest in, a barracks, and a garage. None of these rooms had any sign whatsoever of Zerus within them, and I was beginning to get frustrated by the third time I passed the studio room.
“Damn it, where is he?!” I cried out, waving my gun around. I hoped dearly some answer would come to me, and thankfully it did, but in a form that was hardly ideal, as I heard the growing sound of a crackling, deadly fire, and smelled the very specific smell of burning gasoline, along with some muffled shouting that was impossible to make out. I looked around me, but saw no sign of such flame, so I went back outside to see what I could see. As I exited the front doors, I noticed my group was standing outside the front gates, minus Latias and Slick, staring up in shock at the roof, and also saw that the pile of unconscious mercenaries had disappeared, likely making their leave after waking up and realizing they were in a poor position to fight.
“Anne!” I cried. “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing fine, and Slick is doing okay, I gave him a potion,” she answered, “but I think you might want to look at the roof a moment.”
“What?” I asked, turning around and gaping in shock as I saw Zerus, stood in front of the great conflagration, smoke pouring into the sky.
“What?” I asked, turning back to my friends. “Why aren’t you stopping him?”
“Because, Larch,” he shouted over the roar of the flame, holding up a device of some sort. “I’m holding the detonator to one and a half tons of TNT I have buried under the compound. I press this button, and we all go up. They weren’t stupid enough to try anything until you came along.”
“Are you insane?!” I yelled up at him, pointing my gun for effect.
“Insanity and genius are often confused for one another,” he said cruelly, his lips curled in a terrible rictus. “Then again, at the moment, I can’t tell which one I am! Why don’t you come up here and help me find out?”
“And get burned by those flames? I will pass, thank you very much.”
“Don’t worry, Larch, there’s enough room up here for us to scuffle. At least, there will be before it spreads out.”
“This is absurd, you can’t possibly expect me to fight you on a giant flaming military base!”
“But you’ll fight somebody in your very nice hotel room which, might I remind you, I provided you with?” he asked, as if to criticize me for being finicky.
“This is absurd!” I said, pointing my gun up at him. “Why should I not just shoot you right here and now?”
“You don’t know how to use that gun,” Zerus said. “What makes you think you can hit me from up here?”
“I can try!” I responded, pulling the trigger, doing nothing.
“Pull back the hammer,” Zerus instructed, “tuck it under your shoulder, and point it at me.”
I attempted to follow his instructions, yanking back the knob I believed to be the hammer, tucking it somewhat under my shoulders, and taking aim once more.
“You realize, if I hit you, it will not end well for you at all?” I questioned.
I smirked and pulled the trigger, the bullet sailing entirely past him while I was sent to the floor by the sheer force of recoil.
“That form was terrible!” Ralph chided.
“Shut up, Ralph!” I cried, getting back up. “All right, that may not have worked, but I still have fists!” I threw the gun away and ran back inside, heading for the stairs and running up to the roof, shielding my face from the terrible heat.
“So, you did come up?” Zerus asked, bemused.
“Yes, I did!” I answered. “This new plan of yours is wholly ridiculous and you should feel ashamed for it!”
“Perhaps,” Zerus said. “Of course, this detonator was a fake. I don’t actually have any TNT buried under here, I’m not completely stupid.”
“Aren’t you?” I asked.
Zerus frowned. “Whatever I am, my idea seems to be working,” he said. “After all, you seem very uncomfortable, and you could slip up.”
“Perhaps I will, perhaps I will not. Is it necessary to fight right next to the fire? Little more than a distraction, really.”
“Now that you mention it, maybe not. Here, let’s move over a bit so we can fight properly. Your friends won’t have quite as good a view when I kick your ass, but I think it’s a fair trade for being able to fight at all.”
“Your concept of fairness is quite skewed,” I noted as we both stepped away from the fire. “Why set the fire if you are still going to let me away from it?”
“I can still push you into it!” Zerus cried as he rushed at me. I quickly moved out of the way, barely dodging his deadly sharped claws.
“So, this is it?” I asked, pulling back my arm and throwing it forward, expecting a devastating hit. However, as I had so severely projected the attack, Zerus caught it with ease and sent me to the floor, twisting my arm behind me. I shrieked, rather embarrassingly, I admit, and he began speaking once more.
“You know, I always do like to play with my prey before I kill them.”
“Didn’t you ever hear that you shouldn’t play with your food?”
“Food?” Zerus laughed, twisting my arm further. “Why the hell would I want to eat you? At least, not raw. I need to cook you first…” With these words, he moved me closer to the flames, the heat causing me to sweat profusely.
“You know, I am impressed that you managed to fight with one of your eyes out,” I groaned.
“Oh, please, it’s still in there, just…damaged, somewhat. I can see you perfectly, and believe me, I want to see you burn!”
“Too bad!” Rembrandt cried, suddenly entering the fray from the stairwell, as I turned to face him, glad for the help.
“Piss off, beagle!” Zerus yelled. “This is between me and him, you have no part in this!”
“Hey, he’s my main man,” Rembrandt said, “and I’m not about to let you charbroil him in a gasoline fire.”
“And what are you gonna do about it?” Zerus asked.
“This!” Surprisingly, without my command, Rembrandt proceeded to unleash a Leaf Storm upon Zerus, sending hundreds of deadly sharp leaves towards him. He instinctively covered his wounded eye to protect it from the onslaught, but many of the leaves still struck him nonetheless, severely injuring him and making him look even more disturbing, blood staining his black coat as he stood before the ever-expanding flames.
“All right, now I’m really mad!” he cried, spitting blood out of his mouth. “Come on, face me! Stand up and fight me! Don’t just ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ your way out of this like everything else!”
“What are you talking about, you lunatic?!” I demanded. “Why not just kill me now and be done with it? Why the charade?”
“Because I want to make you suffer!” Zerus said, running over and kicking Rembrandt out of the way, before picking me up by the throat. “I want to hurt you for all the ♥♥♥♥ you put me through, and I’m not going to let anything stop me!” He pulled his claw back and struck me in the face multiple times, drawing blood from my nose without any difficulty. “You look like you’re giving up already! After everything you’ve done, it’s surprising you’re stopping now.”
“Rembrandt?” I choked out, blood sputtering away from me as I spoke.
“What?” he asked, recovering from the earlier assault.
I smiled, and said only two words that greatly reduced Zerus’ psychotically good mood, replacing it with a look of abject fear. Two words was all it took to destroy the pillar of victory he had convinced himself he was on.
His eyes widened, his mouth dropped, and in that moment of surprise, it was enough to kick him in the knee and thus push him away from me, as Rembrandt opened his mouth and released a bright white burst of raw energy that enveloped Zerus and very nearly blinded me with its incredible power before I was able to turn away. I heard Zerus scream, and when he stopped, I looked back and saw that he was lying on the roof, smoke rising from his body.
“Is…is it over?” I wondered, getting to my feet and looking at him.
“Please don’t ask me to do that again,” Rembrandt said, stumbling over and observing the unmoving form of the Zoroark that had caused us so much grief. “Is he dead?”
“He does not seem to be in very good shape, alive or not.” I looked around, and noticed that my friends were also getting to their feet.
“He knows Hyper Beam?” Jack shouted up.
“Indeed! I do not use it very often, but it is quite lucky he picked it up before I caught him.”
My voice had practically left my throat as something exploded powerfully behind me, rocking the entire compound and nearly throwing me off the roof. As I turned around, I noticed the fire had spread by a very appreciable amount, and smoke was coming even heavier now.
“What the hell was that?” Rembrandt asked.
“They must have had gasoline or some other hydrocarbon stored in the garage,” I said. “Perhaps we should leave now.”
“What about him?” Rembrandt pointed to Zerus, who had slightly started to stir. “Should we just leave him?”
“And let someone die?” I countered. “I do not think so!”
“Are you crazy? He tried to kill you!”
“I do not intend to return the favor,” I said, picking up his surprisingly heavy body. “I would like a clear conscience, thank you very much.”
“He’s dead weight! We don’t need him!” Before Rembrandt could continue yelling, another explosion occurred, this one collapsing a good portion of the roof and rendering the staircase back down unusable.
“Uh, guys?” I asked. “Could I have some help, here?”
“Here, give Zerus to me!” Jack said, running up to us.
“How shall I do that?” I asked.
“Just drop him down before you explode!” Jack demanded.
“All right, catch!” I dropped the body down towards him, which plummeted like a stone and landed just in front of him, as it went limp once again. “Good job!” I called down sarcastically.
“Bite me! How are you going to get down?”
“Do you just always keep forgetting you have a psychic dragon?” Latias asked, floating up next to him. “Here, I’ll get you down from there!” To do so, she surrounded us in her telekinetic aura and lifted us off safely, moving us (and Zerus) away as the compound behind us collapsed in completely.
“I sure hope nobody was in there,” Rembrandt said, as we observed the conflagration from a safe distance. “Wait, where’s the president?”
“Right here,” Greeley said, exiting from the forest and showing himself. “You saved my life, you know.”
“Mr. President!” I said, surprised at such a sudden appearance. “You are safe at last!”
“And my country, thanks to you,” he said, smiling. “I think that, for your service to our great nation, you deserve a complete pardon for your, uh, actions.”
“Pardon?” Anne asked.
“Well, let’s face it, you’ve broken a ton of laws. You could very easily go to prison for life, but since you did save us and stop this madman,” he gestured towards Zerus, who still seemed out of it, “I don’t think you deserve that.”
“And what of Zerus?” I asked. “He is the vice president, after all, and if this story were to get out, it would be an unimaginable scandal.”
“Eh, we’ll say he was embezzling funds and he committed suicide before we could apprehend him. Still a scandal, but not as bad.”
“What about the giant smoking wreckage?” Jack asked.
“Accident at an experimental military laboratory. I’ve done this before, I know how the dance goes.”
“I am sure you do,” I said. “So…Latias, would you be so kind as to return us before something else stupid happens?”
It was not even slightly after my question was asked that Zerus awoke, looking up at us for a moment with a gasp before jumping up and attempting to have a go at Greeley, who, surprisingly, took him in a headlock, which prevented his tired body from doing anything further after the initial rush of adrenaline.
“I’ve had enough, Zerus!” he shouted, tightening his grip. Zerus gagged, but he was not quite finished yet.
“I’ll get you,” he groaned from behind gritted teeth. “You’ll see. Whatever ♥♥♥♥hole prison you stick me in, I’ll get out and I’ll come for you.”
“You’re half-blind and kind of an idiot,” Greeley mocked. “I don’t think you’re going anywhere, not after all the ♥♥♥♥ you pulled.”
Zerus growled. “Why not just kill me and get it over with?”
“That’s too good for you,” Greeley whispered cruelly.
A shaking noise drew our attention away, and the source was soon seen as Anne’s pack, within which a PokeBall popped open and revealed Slick, who was still injured but looked as if he was recovering, if only enough to stand up with support from his cane.
“Glad I got this thing,” he breathed, sounding quite tired. “So, Zerus, how’s things?”
“Don’t you ♥♥♥♥ing talk to me,” Zerus spat, sheer hatred obvious in every aspect of the words.
“Dang, bro, you look awful!” Slick said, chuckling slightly and then clutching his stomach in pain. “Note to self, don’t laugh. Anyway, you lost, right? Because it looks like you totally lost.”
Zerus did not answer this, choosing rather to stare at Slick in sheer, unbridled fury.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He leaned in closer, now whispering. “I can’t say I’m gonna miss you.”
“GODDAMNIT!” Zerus cried, desperately thrashing about in a poor bid to escape. “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill all of you!”
“Will you shut up?” Greeley asked, reaching over with his other hand and delivering a pinch to his neck, knocking him out once more. I stared in surprise and Slick observed the body with disdain, but Greeley seemed bemused by it. “What? I have to know how to protect myself in case of emergencies. It’s just practical.”
“I suppose it is,” I said. “Are you going to call for a pickup?”
“Yes, hold on.” Greeley allowed Zerus’ form to drop to the ground as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed in some absurdly long number. “Hello, Command Center? Yeah, this is President Greeley, authority passcode Delta-Romeo-Golf-Niner.” (I feel it fair to note that this was not the actual code, but a mockup I created for his protection.) “Hey, Steve? Could you send out a high-sec pickup to my location? I have an attempted terrorist here that I need taken in. Yes, I got him. Okay, I had help, but I put him out of commission. No, he isn’t dead, just unconscious! Just send a helicopter and put him under federal arrest, will you? Also, could you bring along a Presidential Pardon for me while you’re at it?” he frowned a minute, then grew more neutral once more and hung up.
“Who’s Steve?” Slick asked.
“That’s a national secret,” Greeley said, before cracking a smile. “Seriously, he’s a friend of mine. You’d be surprised how often I get involved in this kind of thing, and he usually does the cleanup after I get out.”
“Yeah, I saw that movie too,” Jack said. “Ever had your plane hijacked?”
“Twice, actually, and both times it worked out a lot better.”
“You seem like a president willing to take action,” Ralph said. “I only wish you had someone like that during the war.”
Greeley looked at him oddly. “Well, I’m here now, and I intend to bolster the peace. And I think that if I were to help you with your presentation on the translator, it would foster excellent international relationships.”
“What?” Slick asked.
“If I say good things about his invention, Kanto will like us,” he answered. “Sorry, I forgot I was speaking to normal people.”
“Normal?” Slick asked. “Us? Yeah, right.”
“Good point,” Greeley noted.
“So who’s going to be the new vice president?” Anne asked.
“Line of succession,” Greeley said, waving his hand to dismiss the concern. “Don’t worry, I can recover from this without much difficulty. Zerus never actually did anything in office, anyway. The Vice President doesn’t really have many responsibilities, and I doubt many people would notice a difference once he’s replaced.”
And so, we continued with the conversation for a bit, occasionally ensuring that Zerus remained upon the floor, until we finally heard the sound of helicopter blades later in the day, and saw an approaching military helicopter start to come down. We quickly moved out of the way so that it could land, the powerful winds from the rotors buffeting us as it touched down before us. They soon stopped moving, allowing us to look at it once more. What we saw when the doors on the side opened was a gentleman of about thirty years, rather heavy-looking, and wearing extremely casual clothing.
“Is that Steve?” Slick asked, disbelieving.
“Yes it is!” Greeley said, walking over to the fellow cheerfully, though his friend did not seem to return the feeling entirely.
“Damn, Greeley, what the hell did you do?” he asked, staring at the wreckage of the facility in confusion. “What is this place? I haven’t seen anything like that on any records.”
“Zerus did it,” Greeley answered. “He’s been using mind control to make me do his bidding, I think. This was probably something I silently approved a while back when I didn’t realize it.”
“Wait, the VP?” Steve asked, doing a double take as he realized who, exactly, Zerus was. “Zerus was a Zoroark? What the hell is going on?”
“It’s very complicated,” Greeley answered, “and it would take a very long time to explain. By the way, did you bring the pardon?”
“Right here, sir,” Steve answered, removing a rather crumply looking piece of paper from his pocket.
“Ah, good.” Greeley took the paper and looked over it, finding everything to be in order, before taking out a pencil and making it official. “I assume you’ve already done the clearing?”
“Of course. They’re free to return to whatever they have left to do.”
“Good. Here, I’ll explain what’s going on while you bring this guy in.” Greeley came back to us and held up the paper to me. “I’ll trade you this for Zerus.”
“A fair trade,” I said. I looked over it and saw it offered amnesty for all our actions previously in the day, which was a welcome sight.
“Can we please go back to the hotel?” Slick asked. “I’m sick of this hellhole.”
“I could not agree more,” I said. “I assume you will be going with Steve, then?” I asked, facing Greeley.
“Yeah, I’ll try to come to the presentation tomorrow,” he answered, climbing inside the helicopter with Steve, who still seemed somewhat displeased. “Good luck!”
“Thank you!” I shouted as the helicopter came to life once more, causing more of the same wind as it took off and returned to its destination at rapid pace.
“All right, let’s get back to Black City!” Jack said, pulling out Latias’ PokeBall and preparing to throw it, before Slick grabbed his arm and stopped him.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jack demanded.
“What about that riot?” Slick asked. “If that’s still going on, it might not be safe for us there.”
“That’s a good point, actually,” Anne noted. “Maybe we should wait?”
“Are you sure it will go anywhere further?” I asked. “After all, we have not been gone a particularly long time, and it might not yet have evolved to that point.”
“Yeah, but you punched out a cop,” Jack noted. “That’s probably going to inspire somebody to do something stupid.”
“Perhaps,” I said. “Still, I doubt they will have razed the city or anything like that, and the people at the hotel also seemed displeased with the proceedings. I say we go back at once and relax! Besides, how is a massive mob of people going to get up to our room?”
Jack considered the options for a moment, and then released Latias anyway. “You’re right, let’s head back. Latias?”
“All right!” she cried, encasing us in that bubble once more. “Let’s do this!”
We were raised up from the ground, high above the broken remnants of Zerus’ fortress, and flew off again, this time slightly more used to the experience, though it was still something I would not frequently recommend. Still, it would get us back to Black City quickly enough, so it was perfectly acceptable as far as options went.
Within minutes, we were once again in that astonishing city, set just outside the hotel to the astonishment of all present. It seemed that the riot had quieted down some in the interim time, though there was still a large crowd outside City Hall, and they still seemed quite displeased.
“Okay, now what?” Jack asked.
“I think I might be able to talk to them,” I suggested.
“What?” Anne asked. “How could you possibly do that?”
“Well, I was the reason Zerus was running about the city in the first place, so they would probably see me as the victim in this, you know? Like I was a symbol of the people that were falsely attacked by their government.”
“So you can represent them,” Jack said, understanding. “They’ll listen to you!”
“Maybe,” Ralph said. “People in groups are dangerous, and they might not be as rational as you’re expecting them to be.”
“Well, hopefully I can still convince them,” I said. “Broad emotional appeals, perhaps?”
“That sounds like my kind of idea!” Slick said. “Maybe I can help? After all, Zerus just gouged my stomach out.”
“How does that connect to my thing?” I asked.
“Well, you know, it’s a lot more, uh, tactile. And painful. Seriously, that really hurt.”
“All right, perhaps you can provide backup. Let us solve this mess and be done with it,” I said. As the others returned to the room, we walked over to City Hall, ready to provide something of assistance.
As we approached, a policeman noticed us and ran over from his post containing the mob, clearly quite annoyed with us.
“I have orders to arrest you on sight,” he said. “Come with me peacefully or I will be forced to use violence.”
“Well, I am afraid to inform you that I have a full presidential pardon for me and all my associates,” I said, pulling out the valuable document. The policeman observed it, finding it to be completely in order.
“All right, what are you doing here?” he demanded.
“I believe that I, with some assistance, can help you in placating this crowd.”
“How?” the cop asked, unconvinced.
“Well, Zerus was chasing after me because I…” I paused, remembering the cover story Greeley had proposed, and decided to use that instead. “I was in possession of information that implicated him as embezzling government funds, and he later committed suicide. Obviously, these people feel as if their government has failed them, and I can talk to them, because I was the focus of the business.” I smiled, but the policeman only stared at me as if I was insane.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Look, I get that you have good intentions, but that won’t work at all. These people are too angry to listen to anybody, we just need to let this go away on its own. It probably won’t even last that much longer, all things considered…”
“Hey!” somebody from within the mob shouted, pointing at me. “Isn’t that the guy Zerus was after?”
“Hey, yeah!” somebody else confirmed, before several of them broke into a wild cheer.
“Uh…” I said, now realizing my plan may have been ill-conceived. “Hello, everybody! How are you this fine day?”
They cheered once more, to the confusion of the policemen all around.
“Well, uh, the situation has been brought under control. Zerus had been embezzling funds, and I had evidence proving such, but he killed himself before he could be brought to justice.” A few people gasped, including the policeman who had previously been lambasting us. “Anyway, as I said the situation is under control, so…please calm down, would you? The fault is solely that of Zerus’, the rest of the government cannot be implicated for this crime.”
They cheered again, even louder this time.
“Who’s the Zoroark?” someone else asked, pointing at Slick.
“Uh…a friend of mine. I just recently met him, quite a nice fellow. Anyway, how about coming to an agreement with the police? I need to give a presentation tomorrow, and I would hate if the city were in a state of disrepair from any overexcited protestors.” I glared at this last sentence, to establish that I was quite serious. A few of them immediately threw down their signs and walked out, but many still remained.
“All right, that worked out quite well,” I said to the policeman. “Now what will become of these people?” I asked.
“Well, only a few of them got violent, and they’ve already been arrested, but the rest of them were only engaging in peace…okay, just protest, really. Nothing illegal about that. When they decide to stop yelling, we’ll let them go.”
I smiled, glad that this would not escalate any further. “Very well, I shall take my leave then. Good luck with this!” I said, taking my leave alongside Slick. With the protestors quelled, Zerus in government hands, and several well-recognized individuals backing my translator, I knew that tomorrow would be an excellent day to give the presentation once and for all…
I don't know why you're reading this, there's nothing here.