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Thread: My Trip tothe End of Time, by Pearl Gideon

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    Default My Trip to the End of Time, by Pearl Gideon

    As one story ends, so another begins. Hot on the heels of The Thinking Man's Guide to Destroying the World, here's the fourth of my adaptations of the main-series games. As ever, I'll rate it 15, since I know I'm liable to get dark and violent at some point. Also, there is swearing; as ever, though, most of it is in Nadsat, because I'm hopelessly weird. Also (oh God, I hate starting two sentences in a row with 'also') there are some drug references. The drugs in question don't exist and never will, but they're there.

    Disclaimer: This won't be a straight-up comedy like my last story. This is because I've now written hundreds and hundreds of pages of comedy and am having difficulty writing anything else; I'm trying to train myself out of it and get back to something slightly more serious.

    So, without further ado (except the PM list), here it is.

        Spoiler:- PM List:


    Chapter One: In Which We Meet a Student, a Professor and a Mysterious Stranger

    'Skulduggery is a difficult thing to combat, if done right. After all, a competent criminal will have made an elaborate plan that pins the blame squarely on someone else, usually the butler. The good detective will be observant, think laterally, and, most importantly, not be afraid to consider the seemingly impossible...'
    —Canola Grimes, The Art of Detectivery


    I was walking through the back streets when I first met him – travelling between the bus stop and my apartment. It must have been close to one in the morning then; I’d meant to come straight home, but one thing had led to another and I’d ended up dividing the night pretty equally between drinking and dancing, with a touch of lecherousness. Actually, I was fairly unsteady on my feet right then, which made me move slowly – and that was probably the reason why we met.

    I was leaning heavily against a wall and stumbling down one street when I caught a glimpse of something white down another; if I’d been walking normally I’m pretty sure I’d have missed it. I stopped, and because I was drunk, I dismissed the (high) probability of it being a mugging and had a look.

    It was a mugging: a guy with turquoise bowl-cut hair and a silver space suit was menacing an old man in a three-piece suit. I blinked; I wasn't entirely sure this wasn't some sort of alcoholic hallucination. Then a woman dressed in the same way as the spaceman appeared, and I became fairly certain that this was reality. My imagination isn't usually so concerned with continuity.

    “All right, Professor,” said the guy in the silver outfit. “You hand over your research now, and no one gets— ow!”

    The old guy – the Professor – had struck him a blow on the head with the stout stick he held in one hand.

    “Dear God!” he cried. “Can the elderly not enjoy a walk through the streets of a large city in the middle of the night without being assaulted?”

    “We haven't assaulted you,” the woman said. “At least, not— ow!”

    He'd hit her too.

    “Look at yourselves,” the Professor went on. “You're a disgrace to the population of Jubilife.”

    “Professor, give us your briefcase and we won't have to— would you please stop that, Professor!”

    “Don't interrupt others when they are attempting to converse!”

    “We're the people you're conversing with— ouch!”

    “All right,” said the man, rubbing his temple and gesturing to his companion, who pulled a very large gun from her pocket. “Just give us the briefcase— and stop hitting me!”

    “Don't think you've grown strong just because you're in a group— aaauuughh!”

    The gunshot was deafening. I would have run – I was terrified – but not even adrenaline could sober me enough; I tripped over one heel and fell heavily against a wall.

    “Someone's here!” cried the woman.

    “Oh, dash it all,” grumbled the man. “OK, get the case and run!”

    I heard their footsteps retreating down the alley; I hauled myself up, hoping they wouldn't return to the scene of the crime, and with my heart throbbing high in my throat I stumbled over to the Professor.

    He was sprawled against a wall, head lolling back on his shoulders; I listened, and felt a wave of relief rush through me: he was still breathing. There was a horrible splash of red along his shirt, but he was alive.

    I pulled my mobile out of my bag and started dialling: 4-4-4, the number for Sinnoh emergency services.

    “Hello?” I said. My voice was shaking. “Yeah, a-ambulance, please... there's a guy here who's been shot.”

    I gave the address and hung up, then stood up, not really knowing what to do. I was unpleasantly sober now.

    “I thought as much,” said a voice from somewhere behind me. I started and turned, and saw that a stranger was standing there.

    He was tall and lithe, and his face was composed of delicate features that argued for ill health, or effeminacy. Perched on his nose were rounded, rimless spectacles, and there was a mop of longish chocolate-coloured hair all tumbled about his face. He might have been fifteen, or twenty-eight, or anything in between; I found it impossible to tell.

    Now, at one in the morning, he was wrapped up in a long black coat, the twin of the Professor's, and looking at me as if I were a curious butterfly specimen. He opened his mouth to speak – and then stepped right past me.

    “They already got him,” he said, looking down at the Professor. “I can't say I wasn't expecting this...” He sighed. “All right.”

    With that, he turned and ran off, in the direction the two muggers had taken.

    I didn't think he was anything much at the time, of course. I thought he was pretty, in a pale sort of way, but other than that, he'd come across as a fairly cold-hearted kind of person. He had looked right at a man with a bullet in his chest, and passed on as if he were nothing.

    The ambulance arrived a few minutes later, and after that I don't remember anything much: it was all a wild blur of lights and sirens and doctors, and a jumble of confused words piling one atop the other, high into the night like a mountain of postmodernist poetry. I was in the alley, and then I was in the hospital – and then I was at home, staring up at the ceiling from my bed, fully clothed, wondering if I was still drunk or if I was just dizzy from the shock of it all.

    ---

    “Pearl?”

    “No, Pearl's not here. I’m... someone else.”

    I turned over and pressed my head further into the pillow.

    “Pearl, I can hear your voice.”

    “No you can't,” I reasoned. “Pearl is out. I’m asleep.”

    “I'm coming in.”

    I heard the sound of a key turning in the lock, groaned and sat up. Seconds later, a young woman with dyed-blonde hair and an annoyingly bright smile bounced in. This was Stephanie, and she was way too much to deal with early in the morning, especially when you had a hangover.

    “Christ, Pearl, haven't you got changed from last night yet?”

    “How can you be so awake at nine o'clock?” I asked, holding my head and wondering if it was going to explode. “I...”

    I stopped. I’d just remembered what had happened after I’d left the club.

    “Oh, God,” I said, my hangover suddenly seeming very far away. “He got shot...”

    “What?” asked Stephanie. “What are you talking about?”

    “On the way home,” I explained. “I was going home, I saw this old guy getting mugged. He got shot.”

    “What? That's terrible!” Stephanie sat down next to me on the bed. “Are you OK?”

    “Yeah... I’m fine.” I sat there for a moment, putting my thoughts in order. “Damn. I think I was going to give – did I say it was nine o'clock?”

    “Yeah, why?”

    “See you later!” I cried, leaping up and scrabbling around to find my bag. “I have to be at the police station!”

    “What? When?”

    “Fifteen minutes ago!”

    With that, I swung my bag onto my shoulder and burst out the door.

    “Lock up behind you!” I yelled back into the apartment, and ran off down the hall.

    Ten minutes later, I was running through the Waverley Avenue subway station; ten minutes after that, I was rushing up the steps of the Hinah District Police Station. I flung open the door, ran over to the policeman behind the desk and said, breathlessly:

    “Hi, my name's Pearl Gideon, I was meant to be here about forty minutes ago to see...” I wracked my brains. “Er... well, it's about the professor who was shot last night?”

    The officer on duty stared at me. I smiled as broadly as I could, and tried hard to look less terrible: my hair was a mess, the remnants of last night's make-up was spread fairly evenly over my face, and it was obvious that I’d slept in my clothes. I looked like a vagrant hooker.

    “Let me just check for you,” he said, and tapped at the keyboard of his computer. “OK,” he said at length, “it seems that someone is expecting you.” He sounded surprised; perhaps he'd just thought I was crazy before. “Detective Inspector Rennet. Third room on the left.”

    He pointed me down the corridor.

    “Thanks,” I replied, hideously embarrassed, and left. In my haste to get away, I forgot to ask if there was a bathroom anywhere that I could clean myself up in, and consequently probably scared the life out of D.I. Rennet as I burst into his office.

    He was sitting behind a desk looking pensive, and looked up sharply at my entrance.

    “Eh!” he cried. “Oh. Are you Miss Gideon?”

    “Yeah,” I replied, closing the door. “I'm really, really sorry I’m late—”

    “Well, the important thing is that you got here in the end,” replied Rennet, with only a hint of unpleasantness in his voice. “Please, have a seat.”

    I sat down opposite him, and looked him in the eye; he was in his late thirties, the first streaks of grey beginning to appear at his temples, and he looked, like me, as if he'd been sleeping in his clothes, or maybe not even sleeping at all. He regarded me with tired blue eyes, and said:

    “OK, Miss Gideon. If you would, describe for me exactly what happened last night, from the beginning...”

    There was a click as a tape recorder started, and I began to speak; I hadn't got more than a couple of sentences in when the door swung open and the man in the overcoat from last night walked in.

    “I've got it back for you,” he said, dumping a briefcase on the desk between me and Rennet. “Don't thank me, they were morons.” With that, he turned to go, and then saw me, staring at him in amazement. Was this normal police procedure? Did people walk into their interviews all the time? “You were there last night,” he stated unnecessarily. “It's good to know your friend dropped by. You could probably use the support after watching someone get shot.”

    And without another word, he walked out again.

    “Who was that?” I asked Rennet. “What's this about?”

    “This is the briefcase Professor Rowan was carrying,” said Rennet, tapping it. “And that was, er, no one of significance. Now, Miss Gideon, if you wouldn't mind starting again...?”

    ---

    When I finally left the police station at around noon, my head was full of the mysterious stranger. He didn't seem to be a member of the police force, but he was definitely affiliated with them – so who was he? What did he have to do with this Professor Rowan guy? And, most importantly to me, how on earth had he known that Stephanie had visited me?

    These thoughts were going round and round in my head as I headed back to my apartment; in fact, so distracted was I that I completely forgot I’d missed another lecture, something that was forcibly brought home to me when I checked my phone and found a message from Stephanie telling me that she had notes I could copy if I so desired.

    I did so desire, but even more, I wanted to wash and change, and then have lunch (it was now too late for breakfast, I noticed with regret.) I did that, and immediately afterwards headed out to Stephanie's place.

    She lived a couple of blocks away, in the heart of Bantam District; it was about a thirty-minute walk, during which I had plenty of time to consider the mystery of the stranger and of the mugging. It was clear to me that the latter hadn't been an ordinary mugging; that briefcase had been important somehow. But that still didn't solve the mystery of who the man in the black coat was.

    When I arrived at Stephanie's, the first thing I asked her about wasn't the notes (which were important) but what she thought about the weird stranger (which wasn't). I gave her all the facts, and she listened very intently; once I’d finished, I could tell that she was on the verge of delivering an earth-shattering revelation.

    “The lecture was on Nietzsche,” she said, holding out a notebook. “Here are my notes. Oh, and please don't miss another lecture, Pearl. I can't keep doing this.”

    I stared from her to the book and back again. “Stephanie, this is important!”

    “Hardly as important as your dissertation,” she countered.

    “You are not my mother!”

    Stephanie rolled her eyes.

    “I might as well be,” she pointed out – which was, I had to admit, true. There was no way I would ever have succeeded at university without Stephanie. “Look, I’ll make you a deal: copy out the notes, and I’ll tell you what I think your mysterious stranger is.”

    “Done.” I snatched the book off her. “I'll do it at home. Now, Stephanie...”

    “Fine,” she sighed. “He's a detective, isn't he?”

    I felt very stupid then. It was either because I was very stupid, or because I’d failed to see the obvious. Of course the mystery man was a detective; who else wore a long coat and chased criminals in the middle of the night? It also explained how he knew Stephanie had visited me: he'd doubtless used his formidable powers of observation to deduce it, probably from the shape of my earrings or the clasp of my bag.

    “Oh yeah,” I said. “That makes sense.” I felt oddly cheated. My mystery had been solved. “Well... I guess I’ll go home and write this up, then.”

    Stephanie raised an eyebrow.

    “I'd like the notes back by five,” she said, “so I can get on with my essay.”

    My blood froze.

    “Essay?” I asked, as casually as I could.

    Stephanie sighed.

    “I've written the title, due date and a list of the books you'll need on the third page,” she told me wearily, tapping the notebook.

    “Steph, you've saved my life,” I said fervently, which got a small smile.

    “I know,” she said without conceit, “and you're a lost cause. Now go home and write!”

    “OK, OK!”

    And once again, I was rushing through the streets, only this time I was heading back to my apartment – which, as it turned out, had been broken into while I was out. I knew it had been, because the person who'd done it was still there.

    It was my mysterious detective.

    ---

    “Who are you?” I said suspiciously. Because yes, I’m the sort of person who treats people who break into my home with belligerence rather than caution. This sort of person is also known as an idiot, Stephanie likes to say, but I prefer to think of myself as merely action-oriented.

    “The question is, who are you?” returned the detective. “And I can answer that quite easily now. You're Pearl Gideon, twenty years of age, and a student of philosophy and German at the University of Jubilife. You were also,” he went on, “present at the unfortunate incident last night when Professor Rowan was shot.”

    “Yes,” I answered, not really knowing what else to say. “But... my question still stands. Who are you?”

    “My name is Ashley Lacrimére,” he replied, sounding bored. “I'm an amateur detective, but the police use me a lot because the police in Jubilife are about as effective as damp tissue paper.”

    “Ashley's a girl's name,” I pointed out, and a trace of irritation passed across his brow.

    “It was originally a male name,” he said sharply. “Now it can be used for children of either sex. Look, this is beside the point. I want to ask you what you know about last night.”

    “I already spoke to the police.”

    “And I have already told you that the police in Jubilife are useless,” Ashley said. “Do you think D.I. Rennet actually remembered to put tape in that recorder?”

    “They're not that bad, surely?”

    “No,” replied Ashley. “They're worse. Sit down, let's talk like civilised people.”

    It was very strange, being invited to sit down in my own apartment, but I did anyway; I wasn't really afraid, since Ashley looked like a fairly weedy guy, and if I had to I could easily have overpowered him. (I was remembering the fact that he had broken and entered; for all I knew he was going to try and kill me.)

    Ashley sat opposite me and looked at me for a moment. Then he spoke.

    “Have you ever seen anyone like those people in silver suits before?”

    “No,” I replied firmly.

    “Are you sure?”

    “I'm pretty sure I’d remember if I did. They were quite distinctive.”

    “I see.” Ashley paused again. “Do you know who Professor Rowan is?”

    I didn't, and said so.

    “So it really was an accident that you were there,” he mused. “But that can't be...”

    “What? Why can't that be?”

    Ashley pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket.

    “Because according to this,” he told me, “you are a target of the organisation the thieves work for, and have been for the last five days.”

    I took the paper from him and had a look. There was a photograph of me – one I’d never seen before – and my name, age, occupation, place of residence...

    And some big red type that said 'KILL ON SIGHT'.

    ---

    “So you see my concern,” Ashley said. “If you were there by accident, and have never encountered any of those goons before, then it's something of a mystery why you would be on their hit list.”

    “They're going to kill me,” I said.

    Ashley frowned.

    “Miss Gideon, are you listening?”

    “They're going to kill me.”

    “Evidently not. They're not going to kill you,” Ashley said wearily. “Rest assured, I would consider it a grave error if I allowed that to happen.”

    “A grave error? Are you stupid or something? This is a notice that they're going to have me killed!”

    “Calm down—”

    “Not really the ideal circumstances for calming down, are they?” I snapped. “Some mysterious criminal organisation wants me dead!”

    “But they're not going to,” replied Ashley, “because this is the order to have you killed, and we've got it.”

    I stopped mid-rant.

    “Oh yes,” I said. “That makes sense.”

    “Now sit down, give me back the paper and put down that lamp.”

    I did all three and asked:

    “So... what do you know about these people? What happens now?”

    “This organisation is new; I’ve never encountered it before,” he said. “This is the only thing those thieves had on them, and the main thing it offers me to go on is this logo in the bottom right corner.”

    He indicated it, and I looked; it was a stylised letter G, curled into a tight oval with projecting corners.

    “Do you recognise that logo?” I asked.

    “No,” Ashley replied, as if talking to a small child, “I don't, or I would have already solved the mystery. But rest assured, I will solve it. That was why I told you about the logo; I thought it might reassure you.”

    “You're leaving?” I asked as he stood up. “Wait! You can't tell me all this and leave!”

    He looked puzzled.

    “Why not?”

    “Because – because – well, this isn't how things are done,” I protested. “I'm supposed to join you on some sort of cross-city adventure, solving the mystery.”

    Ashley blinked.

    “That,” he said slowly, “never, ever happens. Ever. Now goodbye, Miss Gideon.”

    “Wait!”

    He paused with one hand on the door handle.

    “Yes?”

    “Why did you break in here instead of waiting outside?”

    He shrugged.

    “I like to keep my hand in,” he replied. “Is there anything else?”

    “Yeah. Why didn't you stop and help the Professor last night?”

    “You were already doing it,” he said simply. “If I’d stayed as well, the thieves would have got away. Presumably, they'd have come to your house next and had you killed. And if that's all, I’ll leave now, and keep you informed of any further developments that might be related to you.”

    With that, he walked out, and I was left alone in my apartment with a spiral-bound notebook and a head full of thoughts.

    I weighed the options in my mind. Which was more important: this shadowy organisation that had tried to steal the Professor's briefcase and have me killed, or notes on Nietzsche and an essay to match?

    Five seconds later, I’d put my coat back on and was out the door again.

    Well, it's not like I had any choice. No one else was going to go and demand answers for me.

    ---

    If you were of an unusually inquisitive disposition, and perhaps if you knew something of the amusing nature of the hijinks that pairs of criminals invariably get up to, you might well be wondering if the antics of the pair of space-suited goons who had shot the Professor would be chronicled here.

    And of course, they will be.

    Right now, these two crooks were lying low, which for them meant hiding behind a dumpster and hoping that the people who'd come after them for the briefcase had gone away.

    “Do you think they've gone yet?” whispered the female of the pair. Her name, for those who don't know (and that will be all of you) was Liza.

    “I don't know,” replied the man, whose name was, if you are still interested, Tristan. “I think we should wait an hour or two more, just to be safe.”

    They had been waiting for several hours already; since four past one in the morning, in fact. It was now past noon.

    From this, we might deduce (as Ashley would have done) that Tristan was not the brightest of people. But then, there were few intelligent people who would have freely done what he did for the wage he did it for. Popular opinion says that Liza was the brains of the pair, but if that was so, we must ask why she acquiesced just then to Tristan, despite the fact that his idea was positively moronic.

    This is one of those things that we may never know the answer to, like the meaning of life and why we always get the shopping trolley with the wonky wheel.

    “Gurrrp,” said the small blue Pokémon that sat between them. This may or may not have been an expression of its contempt for his owners; taking into account that he was a Croagunk, it is perhaps more likely that he was just croaking for no real reason. He was, after all, only a frog.

    “Ssh,” hissed Tristan. “We could still be in danger.”

    “I'm quite hungry,” said Liza thoughtfully.

    “Oh, actually, so am I,” agreed Tristan. “Shall we make a break for it?”

    “All right,” said Liza. She and Tristan moved into crouching positions, ready to run. “Count of three?”

    “Count of three. One...”

    Tristan recalled the Croagunk to its ball, so they wouldn't have to wait for him.

    “Two...”

    Liza checked that her gun was properly concealed. It would be very inconvenient to be arrested and have to explain it, much like that time she had had to explain to the Mossad what she was doing with fifty pounds of Semtex in the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

    “Three!”

    And the two criminals took off and ran for the nearest café as if the hounds of hell were snapping at their heels.

    In actual fact, this wasn't an unfair estimation. Something was following them.

    And, having observed where they had gone, it slunk away into the shadows like a phantom into the night.
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 26th August 2012 at 9:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    Ooooooooooh, shiny new story. Now we have a female protagonist!

    Okay, I'm first to review. Yes, I'm that cool.

    So, we have our new Fabien and Blake? I hope that you introduce Dia as well.

    Croagunk is the equivalent of Goishi. And we never knew what Pokémon Morgana was. But now I'm commenting in this story!

    So, Professor Rowan was shot. In the first chapter. Yes, you pointed fairly quickly that this isn't a very happy story.

    Enough for now.


    DiZ out.
    I'm chilean. I'm dislexic. But I can write in English. 73% of teenagers would cry if they saw Justin Bieber standing on top of a skyscraper about to jump. If you are the 27% sitting there with popcorn and 3D glasses, screaming "DO A BACKFLIP!", copy and paste this in your signature.
    This is Turtwig, he was the most under appreciated starter in Diamond & Pearl. If you picked Turtwig as your starter, put this in your sig. Started by Dax-360


    I've claimed Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories! One of the best GBA games. Got it memorized?

    I've claimed Duosion. Fear the cell.

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    Annnnnnnnd, I'm back! Apprently not first, but I'm here. That's all that matters, right?

    A new era has begun in fanfiction.

    New story, new region, new crime syndicate, new instances of you changing/corrupting the way I see the Pokemon games, let's start this thing!

    Well, I can see that this is definately NOT a comedy fic, but I'm sure it'll be great.

    Prof. Rowen got shot? Wow, dark stuff. Tension and dramatic scenes, I like it.

    Pearl is looking like a pretty decent main character so far, it's only the first chapter.

    Tristen, Liza, and Crogunk; I thinks we founds our idiot trio again.
    Can't wait to see more of them.

    Mysterious detective Ashley, hmmmm, not sure what I can say about him yet.

    So, we have Pearl on what appears to be Team Galactic's kill list, but why?

    What was in the mysterious suitcase? (Strange packages at the start of each story; Puck did steal one in chapter one of the Guide. Am I the only one to see that?)

    I'm looking forward to seeing how you exploit the Sinnoh region, like you did Hoenn.
    I predict a twenty-five precent chance of extreemly inefficent law enforcement (just look at how Team Galactic took over the Wind Works powerplant in the games, that shouldn't have happened), and a seventy precent chance of corruption in the government.

    Great job, Cutlerine.

    Awaiting the next chapter as always,

    Knightfall signing off...

    P.S: I'm sorry for not responding to your other short stories. Busy last few days.

    Edit: Thanks for putting me on the PM list, will attempt to reply to most if not all chapters.
    Last edited by Knightfall; 22nd December 2011 at 7:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarknessInZero View Post
    So, we have our new Fabien and Blake? I hope that you introduce Dia as well.

    Croagunk is the equivalent of Goishi. And we never knew what Pokémon Morgana was.
    No! We do not have a new Fabien, Blake and Goishi, as will become abundantly clear. I really didn't want to clone my cast from TTMG2DTW, because they reappear now and then and I don't want to end up with a stack of identical characters. Croagunk is purely animal, unlike Goishi; all right, Tristan is similar to Fabien, but Liza is not Blake, not by any stretch of the imagination. There's a clue to it in this first chapter, if you look hard enough.

    ...

    Sorry, that was rather a vehement response. I just want to make it very clear that I do not wish to replicate the other story. The characters here can't really be equated to those from the other story, except perhaps for Tristan and Stravinsky (who hasn't appeared yet).

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    I'm looking forward to seeing how you exploit the Sinnoh region, like you did Hoenn.
    I predict a twenty-five precent chance of extreemly inefficent law enforcement (just look at how Team Galactic took over the Wind Works powerplant in the games, that shouldn't have happened), and a seventy precent chance of corruption in the government.

    Great job, Cutlerine.

    Awaiting the next chapter as always,

    Knightfall signing off...

    P.S: I'm sorry for not responding to your other short stories. Busy last few days.

    Edit: Thanks for putting me on the PM list, will attempt to reply to most if not all chapters.
    Mm. Sinnoh's police force is horrendously bad; that's why Ashley's here. Other than that, Sinnoh is relatively sane.

    Don't worry about not responding to my one-shots. I wasn't expecting replies to them anyway.

    Anyway, I hope further chapters keep you entertained. TTMG2DTW is a tough act to follow, but I think I might just be able to do it.

    F.A.B.

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    Chapter Two: In Which Pearl Almost Kills a Man, and Meets a World-Class Practitioner of an Unusual Profession

    'There was this one guy who was known throughout the underworld. He was one of those guys who's famous even outside of the country; he'd been to Europe and America, and made a killing there. It was a pity he wasn't a real person, or he'd have been the most respected guy in the business.'
    —Griff Derre, The Collected Memoirs

    I ran to the end of the street before admitting to myself that I’d lost him. I could say what I liked about Ashley, but he was excellent at vanishing; whenever he disappeared, I never had any idea where he went.

    I swore petulantly, and went down to the police station. If this organisation had wanted me dead, there was no way I was staying out of the investigation.

    “I want to see D.I Rennet,” I told the officer on duty. He looked puzzled.

    “Who are you?” he asked.

    “I'm Pearl Gideon. I saw him earlier?”

    “Really? The only person I can remember coming to see D.I. Rennet was this really ugly wom— oh God, that was you, wasn't it?”

    I nodded wordlessly. It could have been me being an impulsive idiot, or I might have just been very action-oriented right then, but I was about five seconds away from punching him. I suppose I only had myself to blame, though; if I’d woken up earlier and spent some time fixing my appearance, I wouldn't have made such a bad impression.

    “Uh, yes, sorry about that,” he said, scratching his head self-consciously. “I'll tell him you're here.”

    He spoke briefly into a telephone, then nodded me through the doors.

    “Sorry,” he called again, as I left the room; I considered making a snappy reply with an obscene gesture, but felt that doing that to a policeman was probably illegal.

    “Miss Gideon,” said Rennet, as I slipped back into his office. “How can I help?”

    “Why didn't you tell me that those spacesuit guys were under orders to kill me?” I demanded to know.

    He looked like a chicken presented with a Möbius strip: mind completely blown.

    “What?” he asked helplessly. “What?”

    “Ashley showed me a paper they had that told them to kill me on sight,” I told him.

    “Ashley? You know Ashley?” Rennet was now gaping like a fish out of water.

    “Since about forty minutes ago,” I confirmed. “What's going on?”

    Rennet blinked at me.

    “Miss Gideon,” he said, with the deep dignity of a very, very confused man, “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, and I would very much appreciate if you'd tell me what's going on.”

    So I sat down and told him all about Ashley and the death warrant.

    “Well, he didn't tell us any of that,” he said when I’d finished.

    “Why not?”

    Rennet shrugged.

    “He doesn't usually feel he has to,” he explained. “Usually, he just explains everything to us at the end. I thought we were already at the end of this case – just a mugging – but it seems there's more to it than that.”

    “Are you going to investigate? This is important, it's my life on the line here.”

    Rennet leaned forwards over his desk and smiled warmly.

    “Miss Gideon,” he said, “the most competent agent in the city is on the case.”

    “Who's that?”

    “Ashley,” he replied, as if it were obvious. “Not much we can do. We're all completely useless here!”

    He seemed to find that very funny, and laughed uproariously at it. Needless to say, being a citizen of Jubilife whose life was in danger, I didn't find it nearly as amusing.

    “Right,” I said. “Er, is there any way I can contact him?”

    Rennet shrugged.

    “I'm sure there is,” he told me, “but I don't know it.”

    I was now very close to leaping out of my seat and throwing it at him; perhaps he saw it in my eyes, because he hastened to add:

    “But look, if you really are involved, I’m sure he'll be in touch. He'll want to keep you abreast of further developments.”

    I was tempted to tell Rennet how useless he was, but I didn't because he was a cop; in the end, I contented myself with making my goodbyes, leaving and kicking a trash can really hard.

    What was I to do now, I wondered. My investigations had got nowhere. I didn't know why or how I was mixed up in this, and I hadn't found Ashley. I sighed, and was about to go home and start copying Stephanie's notes, when I thought of someone else I could ask.
    I smiled to myself and got on the next bus to the Albert Warner General Hospital.

    ---

    “Professor Rowan?” I asked, putting on my talking-to-old-people voice. “It's me, Pearl Gideon. I called the ambulance for you last night.”

    The Professor glared at me from under bushy white eyebrows. His eyes flicked to the left briefly, and I saw with some trepidation that they had been looking at his stout stick, which was at the end of his bed. I didn't think he'd be strong enough yet to start laying about me with it – I thought it was pretty impressive that he was looking as strong as he was – but I didn't want to take any chances.

    “What do you want?” he asked gruffly. “Some sort of reward?”

    “No, no,” I protested. “I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about it.”

    “Ah. Are you with the police?”

    “No, I’m sort of a freelancer.”

    “Ah. Like that young man who came by earlier.”

    I couldn't help but let my eyes narrow a bit. I was a bloodhound, and I’d caught my quarry's scent.

    “Oh? Did you get his name?”

    “Some French nonsense,” replied Rowan. “Lackey or something.”

    “Lácrimere?”

    “That's the one.” He sat up a little, and looked at me suspiciously. “Why do you ask?”

    “Er... he's got some vital evidence,” I said carefully, “and the police have asked me to find him so we can get it off him.”

    “Can't they just ask him?”

    “They don't have his phone number,” I replied truthfully. “Now, Professor, did he say where he was going?”

    Rowan thought for a moment.

    “He got one of those things you get on your phone,” he said, “and said he had to meet a friend for lunch.”

    “One of those things you get on your phone – a call?”

    “No!” cried Rowan vehemently, as if I were an idiot. “With words on the screen!”

    “Oh, a text,” I said. “OK. Did he say where he was going?”

    “No, he did not,” Rowan said. “Is that all? You don't want to hear about the gunmen?”

    “In all honesty, no,” I told him, biting back the words because, you know, I saw them. “Thanks for your time.”

    As I left the hospital, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. Things were going well. I knew Ashley had met a friend for lunch: that was something I hadn't known before. Now I just had to figure out where.

    “If I were a genius detective,” I muttered to myself, “where would I have lunch?”

    This line of thought got me nowhere. I wasn't a real detective; I couldn't work out where Ashley would have eaten from the colour of his coat or whatever. In the end, I did a circuit of all the restaurants and cafés within ten blocks of the hospital, and predictably enough, I didn't find him.

    However, I did find the muggers from last night, having an all-day breakfast at a place called Café Desolée.

    To give them their due, they were quite well disguised. Their spacesuits were hidden beneath long coats and their weird-coloured hair didn't really stand out much; back then, it was fairly fashionable for Sinnoh's youth to dye their hair strange colours. Mine, for instance, was dark blue at the time.

    I only noticed them because the memory of turquoise bowl-cuts was still strong in my mind from last night. Still, noticed them I had, and so I thought I’d go in and see if I could talk to them.

    This is the point where you tell me I was stupid, going after two criminals who'd shot a man in cold blood the night before. But it was broad daylight and the café was pretty busy; I was sure they'd realise that shooting me – or just pulling out the gun – would cause more problems than it would solve. So I wandered in and sat down at their table, at which they both looked up from their meals and gave me long, penetrating looks.

    “Who,” asked one of them – the man, “are you?”

    “Add to that, what the hell are you doing?” put in the woman.

    “I think you know who I am,” I said. “You were meant to come and kill me last night.”

    The man choked on a mushroom, and I watched with increasing concern as he tried to dislodge it from his throat; eventually, when he had gone bright red, I leaped up and thumped him on the back a few times.

    “Oh, God,” I said, panicking, “it's not coming out!”

    “Do you know the Heimlich manoeuvre?” the woman asked. She had gone white as a sheet, and appeared to have forgotten the forkful of egg that was halfway to her mouth.

    “No, I don't know the Heimlich manoeuvre!” I cried back.

    By now, half the restaurant was in uproar; people were shouting advice from their tables, and I was wishing that I’d handled the situation better. I’d come here to find stuff out, not kill people.

    “I'll try,” said the woman, throwing her fork down and grabbing the man from behind; he'd gone a very nasty colour now, and the choking noises he was making were getting weaker and weaker. She wrapped her arms around him and jerked a few times – but absolutely nothing happened except that her friend tried to yelp in pain and ended up choking himself worse.

    And it was at that moment, when I was sure that I’d just accidentally killed a man, that Ashley sauntered over from the back of the restaurant, administered a swift tap to the man's back and sent the mushroom flying across the room.

    “That,” he told me coldly, “was definitely not the way to approach a situation like this.”

    The woman suddenly seemed to recognise him then, and, grabbing her friend's arm, hauled him past us and ran out the door, pushing through the crowd. The man fell over once or twice – he'd only just started breathing again, and could probably have done with a glass of water – but she never stopped.

    “And now they're gone,” snapped Ashley. “Well, make yourself useful, then! Go after them!”

    And that was how I found myself running past a bemused crowd, out of the café and down the road after a pair of criminals, all the while wondering how I’d managed to mess the situation up so badly with one sentence.

    ---

    They didn't get very far, of course: one of them was barely able to walk, let alone run, and they'd got all of twenty yards down the street before Ashley and I caught up.
    “This is so typical!” ranted the woman. “For God's sake, Tristan, what sort of criminal chokes on a mushroom at a critical moment like that?”

    “I – was – surprised into – swallowing!” he croaked back, leaning heavily on a wall and gasping for breath.

    “That's enough,” said Ashley sternly. “You two. Who do you work for?”

    “I've got a gun,” warned the woman.

    “She has,” confirmed the man – Tristan.

    “There are at least thirty people on this street,” Ashley told them. “If you want to make sure you're caught, then I would advocate shooting either myself or Miss Gideon.”

    “There's no reason we should talk to either of you,” the woman said. She seemed to be getting annoyed. “We'll just catch our breath and be on our way.”

    “Perhaps I could turn you over to the police,” Ashley said. “They already know you're guilty of the attack on Rowan last night.”

    “If you tried, I’d have to shoot you.”

    “And then you'd get caught anyway, only your sentence would be worse.” Ashley raised his eyebrows. “So there isn't actually anything you can do.”

    I had to admire him: that was clever. I supposed that this was what a real detective did, instead of making suspects choke to death on mushrooms.

    “Well, that won't work,” said the woman. “Because Tristan's got his breath back.”

    And they ran off down the street and vanished into an alleyway.

    I was about to start after them, but Ashley held me back.

    “Forget them,” he said. “I already got everything I wanted from those two.”

    “You did?” I asked, surprised.

    “Yes,” he replied. “I did.” He gave me a look. “Why did you come here?”

    “I was looking for you, and I found those two instead – look, does it matter? I was doing some investigating?”

    “Leave that to me,” he said. “I don't think you're very good at it. You almost killed a suspect, and you didn't even touch him.”

    “All right, I accept that that went wrong,” I said, “but I still have a right to know about these people. They were going to kill me.”

    “You very nearly ruined the investigation!”

    “Then wouldn't it be better for me to join you so that you can make sure I don't?” I asked, in a flash of inspiration.

    Ashley froze. He remained so still for so long that I thought I might have killed him too. Then he sighed, and said:

    “If I let you tag along for a little while, will you promise never to cause trouble like that ever again?”

    “Yeah,” I said, and nodded vigorously to show just how much I meant it.

    “Then I suppose you can join me,” he said despondently, as if granting me this request could very well kill him. “Right. Come with me.”

    “Come with you where?” I asked, following him as he turned to walk back up the road.

    “To the alley behind that café,” he replied. “I have a friend waiting there.”

    Now I was confused and intrigued, so I followed in silence. When we got there, I couldn't stop myself from staring in surprise.

    Ashley's friend was a Kadabra.

    ---

    I’ve always prided myself on being open-minded. I think I might have even written something staunchly anti-racist for a school newspaper once. But I was still a little bit unnerved by the Kadabra standing in front of me; it's just so weird to be looked at by an intelligent being who isn't human.

    “Pearl, this is Iago,” said Ashley. “Iago, this is Pearl.”

    “Um... hi,” I said, desperately trying to remember whether Kadabra shook hands or not. In the end, he held out his claw and I shook it.

    “Nice to meet you,” he said. That was the second shock.

    “You speak... out loud?” I asked. Most Kadabra communicated telepathically – in fact, I’d never heard of one who didn't.

    “Yeah. I do. I suffer from a rare disability,” Iago said. “I have no psychic powers.”

    I blinked in surprise, and asked exactly the wrong question for the situation.

    “Why do you have a Jamaican accent?”

    “Because I’m Jamaican.”

    “Really?”

    “No, you dumb nazz. I’m Sinnish. It's just, the way Kadabra mouths are shaped means that everything I say sounds like this.”

    He seemed to be annoyed, so I thought I’d better apologise.

    “I'm sorry.”

    Iago snorted, which made his moustache ripple.

    “Don't be. I prefer to hang around with humans anyway. You're easier to – actually, that's enough about that. You're the girl hanging around and asking questions, aren't you?” I nodded. “Yeah, I saw your performance in the café through the window.”

    “I think we should return to the matter at hand,” said Ashley quickly, before tensions rose any further. “I only came here to pick you up, Iago. Shall we get back home?”

    “Yeah,” agreed Iago. “Sounds good. I was getting tired of waiting out here; the last people who went past got into some trouble with me.”

    “Did you speak to them?” asked Ashley, as we walked back towards the street.

    “No,” replied Iago.

    “Good. Then the police won't get you.”

    I was intrigued and slightly scared by this conversation, but I said nothing. I had the feeling that Ashley might send me home if I started making trouble.

    Ashley flagged down a taxi, and twenty minutes later we were pulling up outside a row of old terraced houses in the middle of Rana District. The taxi driver wanted to charge extra for taking 'that grazhny fox', but Ashley refused on the grounds that Kadabra were legally equal to humans; things might have turned ugly, but Ashley eventually talked so much and so confusingly that the taxi driver threatened to kill him and drove off.

    “Did we just steal a taxi ride?” I asked.

    Ashley paused on the steps of the nearest house, and looked back at me.

    “You're not one to judge,” he replied. “You almost committed involuntary manslaughter. Besides, I provide a valuable service to the city. I’m owed a free ride now and again.”

    “And I just don't care, because I have no morals,” added Iago.

    “Is that part of your disability?”

    “No, I’m just a sociopathic bratchny,” he said, with surprising honesty. The swearing was also surprising: I didn't think there were any Kadabra that were that integrated into human culture.

    Inside, Ashley's house was more spacious than it looked, though it didn't look like it had been redecorated since the seventies. I suppose he just didn't care about its appearance; he was more bothered about his work.

    “Sit down,” he said, “and I’ll tell you everything we have so far.”

    I did, and Iago dropped down next to me; he was weirdly light for something his size, and barely made an indent on the sofa.

    “Those two criminals are called Liza and Tristan,” Ashley said. “They came to steal Professor Rowan's briefcase, and to kill Miss Gideon and myself.”

    “And you?” I asked, surprised.

    Ashley pulled out a piece of paper just like the one he'd shown me back at my apartment, only this one had his name and photo on it.

    “And me,” he confirmed.

    “But not me,” gloated Iago. “I'm unkillable!”

    “Actually, you as well,” Ashley replied, and drew out another piece of paper. This one had Iago's photo on it, and made the Kadabra gulp.

    “OK,” he said, “so I’m not unkillable. That's a real blow to my self-esteem.”

    Ashley ignored him and continued.

    “Pearl, Iago and I gave chase to them, and Tristan, in a moment of panic, hurled the briefcase at me. I was therefore able to return it to the police; of course, I had a look inside first, and uncovered a lot of papers on Pokémon evolution and the energy given off when the process occurs.

    “I went to meet you, and instructed Iago to track Tristan and Liza, since Kadabra can move with inimitable silence.”

    Iago sniffed deeply; if he'd been a human, I would have said he was insulted, but Kadabra are different, and I think he was pleased.

    “Iago then led me to the Café Desolée, where I took a table at the back and watched them. From their conversation, I deduced that they were both very hungry and on assignment from somewhere in Eterna City.

    “Then, just as they were about to mention names, you walked in and almost killed Tristan.”

    Iago chuckled, which sounded like a storm made of gravel.

    “Yeah,” he said. “That was really funny.”

    “It was freaking terrifying,” I retorted.

    “That was what made it so funny.”

    “Calm down, children,” said Ashley. “If you recall, I said you could only help if you promised not to cause trouble.”

    “Oh. Yeah. Sorry.” I shut my mouth tight and sat up straight.

    “Now,” he said, “do you remember when I told you that they wouldn't come to kill you because I had taken the warrant from them?”

    “Yeah?”

    “That was a lie. You are, in fact, in as much danger as ever. As are we all.”

    “Oh, great,” sighed Iago. “First that racist nazz in the parking lot and now this. Today just keeps getting better and better.”

    “Did you really think that they would just forget to kill you because they didn't have the warrant?” Ashley asked.

    “I don't know. You tricked me,” I said, pointing an accusatory finger.

    “I suppose I did. Well done me.” Ashley shook his head. “No, that's not the point. My point is that I have now told you everything I have so far discovered about these people. Now the only thing to do is to investigate this base in Eterna.”

    “Great,” I said brightly. “When do we go?”

    Ashley tilted his head on one side and gave me a look.

    “What's that for?” I asked, feeling an ominous sort of sense come over me. “What's that look for?”

    “You're a student,” he reminded me.

    “Oh,” I said, suddenly remembering that I, in fact, was a student. And also that it was three o'clock and I had completely forgotten about Stephanie's notes. “I – no, I can probably manage. I mean, I could miss a day or two.”

    “Really?” asked Iago. “Really? You think you're that smart?”

    I couldn't think of a response that wouldn't involve a racist slur, so I ignored him and spoke to Ashley instead.

    “I can do it,” I said stubbornly.

    “No. I could do it,” Ashley replied. “You can stay here, and I’ll keep you posted.”

    “I...” The problem was that Ashley was right. It was incredibly irritating, and I knew that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change his mind. “Oh, fine. I know when I’m not wanted. I’ll stay.”

    “Excellent,” replied Ashley. “I think it's probably for the best. You don't seem to be the most competent of detectives.”

    “Will you stop going on about that?” I asked, annoyed. “It wasn't even my fault!”

    “You could have avoided it.”

    “He's right,” said Iago. “You could have avoided it.”

    “Stop blaming me! I’m new to this!”

    “Fine.” Ashley smiled, which made him look surprisingly handsome. “I'll stop blaming you. Now go home and study.”

    I sighed and got up.

    “You'd better get to the bottom of this,” I said warningly. I might not have been able to continue the hunt, but I wasn't going to give up on working out why these spacemen wanted me dead.

    “Trust us,” Iago replied. “There's a genius in this room. And Ashley's not half bad either.”

    I lingered for a moment, then said goodbye and left. They were professionals, after all, and I had to trust them. Besides, no matter how much I wanted to go to Eterna, I had an essay to write.

    ---

    “What do we do? What do we do?” asked Tristan.

    “I'm thinking, be quiet!” Liza snapped, pacing.

    They were currently occupying a garret on Tant Street, which was the sort of location where no questions were asked, no one went out without a weapon and no sane person ever visited. This was their base of operations for their tasks in Jubilife.

    “OK,” said Liza at length, slowing her rapid pacing, “what do we know about these guys?”

    “There are three of them,” replied Tristan. “That weird kid in the black coat, the girl and that fox. The kid's obviously clever, the girl seems stupid, and the fox is... I don't know. Does anyone know?”

    “He'll be bitter,” Liza said. “All the Kadabra who live with humans are bitter.” She stopped and chewed her knuckle for a moment. “Look, they overheard us talking about the base in Eterna, so they'll go to Eterna, right?”

    “Yeah...”

    “So they'll take the train to Eterna, because that kid doesn't seem to have a car.”

    “We'll blow it up,” said Tristan decisively. In the corner, the Croagunk croaked; his masters often spoke the words 'blow' and 'up', to the extend that he recognised them as portending something.

    “Exactly,” Liza replied, smiling. “We blow it up and get rid of them.”

    “Hang on, are we authorised to do this?” Tristan asked. “What will the boss say?”

    “He hired me for this. He knows I won't leave any link between the explosion and the Team.”

    Tristan nodded. It was clear that Liza was a professional when it came to this.

    “There's just two things we need to do first,” Liza said.

    “Which are...?”

    “We need to find out what train they're taking – or bus, I guess – that's the first one.”

    “And the second?”

    “I need to go to 44 Ramsmith Road,” said Liza, looking out of the window.

    “What? Why?”

    “There's something I need to check,” she answered. “Do you want to come with me?”

    “Not really,” replied Tristan honestly. “I'll just be happy to blow something up.”

    The words 'blow' and 'up' had now been uttered so much that the Croagunk took refuge under the table. Doubtless, he thought, something was about to explode, and he wanted shelter.

    “Come on, I’d like some company.”

    “I don't want to go!”

    “I'll buy you a Kinder Egg.”

    Liza had calculated shrewdly. Tristan battled with his addiction for a moment – and then, as ever, it won.

    “Fine,” he sighed. “Let's go.”

    And they did, slipping away through the streets with such silent skill that it would have been hard to recognise them as the same crooks who had fled the scene of the shooting the night before.

  6. #6
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    Heya.

    Gone reviewing.

    Do you know the Heimlich manoeuvre?” the woman asked. She had gone white as a sheet, and appeared to have forgotten the forkful of egg that was halfway to her mouth.

    “No, I don't know the Heimlich manoeuvre!” I cried back.

    By now, half the restaurant was in uproar; people were shouting advice from their tables, and I was wishing that I’d handled the situation better. I’d come here to find stuff out, not kill people.

    “I'll try,” said the woman, throwing her fork down and grabbing the man from behind; he'd gone a very nasty colour now, and the choking noises he was making were getting weaker and weaker. She wrapped her arms around him and jerked a few times – but absolutely nothing happened except that her friend tried to yelp in pain and ended up choking himself worse.
    Socializing with your enemies. Cool.

    Okay. So Ashley is supposed to be based on Dia? The male guy of D/P?

    Pearl is supposed to be Dawn. Yeah, I mix anime, manga and a lot of things. I'm just that awesome.

    So, Pearl almost killed Tristan. And without touching him. I think that that is a record.

    Anyways. I'm out of here.


    DiZ out.
    I'm chilean. I'm dislexic. But I can write in English. 73% of teenagers would cry if they saw Justin Bieber standing on top of a skyscraper about to jump. If you are the 27% sitting there with popcorn and 3D glasses, screaming "DO A BACKFLIP!", copy and paste this in your signature.
    This is Turtwig, he was the most under appreciated starter in Diamond & Pearl. If you picked Turtwig as your starter, put this in your sig. Started by Dax-360


    I've claimed Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories! One of the best GBA games. Got it memorized?

    I've claimed Duosion. Fear the cell.

  7. #7
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    Well, here we are again. It's always such a pleasure to read these.

    Moving on, I'm with DiZ on this one, almost killing someone without touching him, that deserves some type of award.

    I'm still laughing from that part, you really know how to put the "laughter" into (involuntary) "manslaughter" though no one was killed.

    Iago is now one of my new favorite characters, he just is.

    I hope Ashley can stop the train from going up in flames, or at least not get on it.

    Anyways, sorry that this review is rushed. I've somewhere to go in a few minutes, so I decided to do this quick then waiting until New Years to post.

    Good job with this one, hopefully we'll get some more action next time.

    'Til next chapter,

    K.F signing off...

    P.S: Cool banner, slightly creepy, but cool none-the-less.

    Edit: this fic is now also in my sig!

    Edit 2: I almost thought that I didn't get a PM, but I just got it.

    Edit 3: Duh, I can't believe I almost forgot! Merry Christmas- or other holiday.
    Last edited by Knightfall; 24th December 2011 at 11:56 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarknessInZero View Post
    Okay. So Ashley is supposed to be based on Dia? The male guy of D/P?

    Pearl is supposed to be Dawn. Yeah, I mix anime, manga and a lot of things. I'm just that awesome.
    Actually, when I make these characters, I don't base them on anyone in particular. They just happen to be named after the versions of the game that they're known for, which is no more than something I do to the main characters. So Ashley is Diamond and Pearl is... well, Pearl, but they're not Dia or Dawn.

    Well, here we are again. It's always such a pleasure to read these.[/QUOTE]

    Remember when I tried to kill you twice?

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Moving on, I'm with DiZ on this one, almost killing someone without touching him, that deserves some type of award.

    I'm still laughing from that part, you really know how to put the "laughter" into (involuntary) "manslaughter" though no one was killed.

    Iago is now one of my new favorite characters, he just is.

    I hope Ashley can stop the train from going up in flames, or at least not get on it.

    Anyways, sorry that this review is rushed. I've somewhere to go in a few minutes, so I decided to do this quick then waiting until New Years to post.

    Good job with this one, hopefully we'll get some more action next time.

    'Til next chapter,

    K.F signing off...

    P.S: Cool banner, slightly creepy, but cool none-the-less.

    Edit: this fic is now also in my sig!

    Edit 2: I almost thought that I didn't get a PM, but I just got it.

    Edit 3: Duh, I can't believe I almost forgot! Merry Christmas- or other holiday.
    Merry Christmas to you too, and a happy winter solstice. Although that's already passed now. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it; more is on the way.

    F.A.B.

  9. #9
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    Chapter Three: In Which the Long Arm of the Law is Found to Extend to Sinnoh

    'Name: classified. Codename: Looker. Place of residence:classified, classified, classified. classified is one of our most classified workers, possessing as he does admirable classified of many languages and remarkable powers of classified. There are a classified of classified relating to the classified of classified.
    —International Police, Personnel Files


    “OK, Pearl,” I told myself, placing Stephanie's notebook on the table in front of me and giving it a stern look. “You can do this. Just sit down, open the book and copy everything out.”

    I took a deep breath. This was going to be one of those afternoons that required an iron will to keep under control.

    “Pen – check. Paper – check. Studious attitude... OK, well, let's start and hope that that one comes with time.”

    I opened Stephanie's notebook and read the first sentence, pen poised above my pad of paper.

    “'In 1887, Nietzsche found out abou—' oh God, this is dull.” I slumped forwards, and my head thumped gently into the desk. Just as swiftly, though, I jerked upright again. “No! Must study! Right. 'Nietzsche found out about the work of by this point, Pearl, you've probably got really bored, but stick with it.'” I paused and re-read the sentence, confused. “How did she know?” I wondered.

    Stephanie's message actually had the opposite of its intended effect; I wasted five minutes wondering how she'd known that I’d get bored at exactly that moment before remembering that I was meant to be copying her notes out. There followed ten minutes of furious scribbling, and then I started thinking about Ashley, Iago and Eterna.

    I wondered if they'd left already. How long did it take to get to Eterna? Would they be there already? What would they find? A swirling mess of gangster movies whirled through my head: a long black car, a smoking gun, a man with a cigar, Marlon Brando...

    “I have to do the essay,” I told myself. “Ashley doesn't want you there anyway. You'll get in the way.” I forced myself to write another couple of sentences. “Maybe I’ll go and check to see if they've gone yet,” I said. “You know, just go to their house, see if they changed their minds.” I stared at the page for a moment. “I mean, you never know. Maybe I can help after all. Yeah. I should check. Besides, this can wait a while. Can't it?”

    Once those last two sentences had passed my lips, I couldn't have stopped if I’d wanted to. By the time my pen hit the desk, I was already halfway down the hall, shouldering my bag and hoping the door was locked.

    ---

    “Where to?” asked the taxi driver. It seemed he wasn't unduly bothered by Iago's presence, which was refreshing.

    “Dürer Station,” replied Ashley.

    “Via the Conucom on Donatello Road,” added Iago. “I need to get some money out.”

    “All right,” replied the cabbie, and the taxi started to move off.

    Silence fell between Ashley and Iago for a while; then, Iago asked:

    “Why didn't you tell her you know the name of the organisation?”

    “Because I probably wouldn't have been able to convince her to stay here if I had.”

    “Does she need to?”

    “I went to her apartment. I’ve seen her essays. Believe me, she needs to stay here and work if she ever wants to graduate.”

    “Right, right. Shall I start searching for 'Galactic' again?”

    “If you would.”

    In the lines of work Ashley and Iago pursued, one on either side of the law, the ability of total recall, common to all Kadabra, was a useful one. The only downside was that Iago had, over the years, filled his mind with so much information that it took him a while to sift through it all.

    “Hey, did you know that Gardenia Willis has been engaged fourteen times?”

    “I don't really care, Iago. Just focus on looking for 'Galactic'.”

    Another silence. This one lasted until they got to the bank, where Iago got out, produced a wallet from somewhere in his enormously fluffy tail and took out a large quantity of Pokédollars before getting back in.

    “There,” he said. “Now on to Dürer Station.”

    “Right,” replied the cabbie amiably, and drove on.

    “And Ashley?”

    “Yes?”

    “I've never come across any organisation called Galactic.”

    "Ah. Well, I'm sure they'll reveal themselves in the fullness of time."

    "If you say so," replied Iago. "If you say so."

    ---

    I’d just got to the end of the road when I noticed a weird guy in a brown coat darting furtively from lamppost to lamppost, as if he could hide behind them; natural curiosity overcame my desire to get to Ashley's house, and I walked up to him and asked him what he was doing.

    “Ah!” he cried, with a strong French accent. “You have discovered me! But please, tell me, how did you know I was actually a globe-trotting elite of the International Police?”

    I stared.

    “Um... I didn't,” I answered. “I just thought you looked weird.”

    The man gave me an inscrutable sort of look.

    “Ah, you say this,” he said. “But you, you are hiding the truth! Your perception is remarkable; you spotted me right away for what I really am!”

    “If you say so,” I replied, realising that I was probably dealing with a lunatic. “Look, I won't bother you any further, I’ll just leave—”

    “No, no. Do not leave just yet.” The man fumbled in his pocket and drew out a photograph. “My name is... ah, no, I shall inform you of my code name only. I am Looker.”

    By now, as you can imagine, I was really regretting talking to him. That's the problem with being impulsive; half the things you do end up making things worse for you.

    “OK, I’m Pearl. I really do need to go—”

    “I have not yet told you why I am here. Look at this photograph. Have you seen this woman?”

    He held it up, and to get rid of him I had a quick look – and then froze. I knew who that was. Sure, her hair was long and brown there rather than short and turquoise, but I knew her. It was Liza.

    “Ah, I see you have seen her,” Looker said. “Tell me, where was she?”

    “She shot someone last night,” I told him, staring at the photo. “But today I saw her near the Albert Warner General Hospital. She's working for some criminal organisation.”

    “Indeed!” cried Looker. “Well, if you see her again, you must contact me.” He drew a business card from his pocket and handed it to me. “It is of the utmost importance that she gets put behind bars!”

    “Why? Who is she?”

    He shrugged.

    “I am not sure,” he replied candidly. “Her real name, it is uncertain. What does she call herself now?”

    “Liza.”

    “Liza. Li-zaaaaa.” He rolled the word around his mouth a little, found he liked the flavour and nodded deeply. “Thank you.”

    “What's she done?” I asked. “Why is the International Police after her?”

    “That much, I cannot say right now,” Looker said self-importantly. “She is a very dangerous woman.”

    “OK.” I looked at his business card. “Hang on. Where's your phone number?”

    “Right here.” He indicated what I thought had been a barcode.

    “But it's all ones,” I pointed out. “That's not a real number.”

    “11111 111111,” he said. “It is a secret number. You must use it when you see this Liza again, yes!”

    I was no longer entirely certain that he was a member of the International Police – there was a mental asylum on the other side of town, and he could have escaped from there – but I smiled, nodded and finally made my escape.

    “Do not forget to call!” he cried after my retreating back. I started walking faster. “No, not because I am lonely – of course not. It is because of Liza!”

    I broke into a run, rounded the corner and hurried along to the Waverley subway station.

    “I am never calling that guy,” I muttered, waiting for the train. “Never, ever, ever. It's not even a real number.”

    The train arrived, I got on and fifteen minutes later I was walking down Baker Street, trying to remember which house had been Ashley's. I had the funny feeling it might have been 221B, but there didn't seem to be one with that number; maybe I was thinking of someone else.

    After a while I knocked on a door and asked the person who answered where Ashley Lacrimére lived; she told me that he was four doors down on the other side of the road, at number 17, but that she'd seen him leave a while ago in a taxi. I thanked her, thought, and decided that he was probably going to the closest major train station, which would be Dürer. He didn't seem like the type to travel by bus; in my mind's eye, I saw him in a first-class carriage, photographs, bloodstained scraps of cloth and other pieces of evidence spread out across a table. Yeah, that was how Ashley would travel.

    I shook myself out of my reverie and headed back to the subway station. I had a detective to catch.

    ---

    The cab driver watched Ashley and Iago as they walked across the square and into the train station; he even kept an eye on the entrances for a minute longer, to make sure they didn't come out again.

    “OK Liza,” he said into his mobile phone. “They're definitely taking the train.”

    ---

    Apparently, there'd been some accident at Dürer Station, so I couldn't ride the subway all the way there; I had to get off at the stop before and walk the rest. When I got there, I found the whole place cordoned off with reams of yellow police tape, and a restless crowd gathered all around it while desperate policeman tried to tell them that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Since this was so obviously a lie, it was just making everyone even more determined to get in, and I got the feeling that a battle was about to begin.

    Being the experienced denizen of inner-city Jubilife that I was, I knew how to get through a semi-violent crowd without getting hurt. (Here's a hint: it helps to be young, female and pretty.) Soon, I was at the front, and asking a policeman what was happening.

    “Absolutely nothing to worry about,” he told me. “Absolutely—”

    At that moment, there was a colossal boom and a wave of fire rolled out of the front doors of the station.

    “—nothing to worry about,” the cop finished, somewhat weakly.

    “What's going on?” yelled a man standing next to me. “What the hell was that?”

    “I believe it's called an explosion,” replied the policeman. “But look, it was only a little one, there's nothing to be worried about—”

    BOOM!

    A second burst of fire came out of a ground-floor window.

    “Jesus Christ, how many of them are there?” screamed someone from behind me.

    I sensed a riot coming now, and since I had other things to do than join in, I started to make my way back out of the crowd; as I went, I passed people taking out flick-knives and coshes. Yes, there was definitely a riot on the way. I popped out of the back of the mob and walked off, thinking.

    If Dürer Station had been bombed, I thought, then it was possible that Ashley and Iago had been caught up in it. I bit my lip. I didn't particularly like either of them, but that didn’t mean I wanted them dead – and they were, from what both they and D.I. Rennet had said, the only people in the city capable of solving this mystery before I ended up dead.

    A group of people rushed past me, bricks in their hands; from Dürer Square, I could hear the sounds of violence. I actually kind of wanted to go back and participate – riots in Sinnoh are usually quite fun, and only a couple of people ever get seriously injured – but I had to find out what had happened to Ashley and Iago first.

    Then again, I could go and riot. It's actually our non-official national sport, and I’m quite good at it; I rioted for one of the university teams. It's also a community event, like a football match in Europe or civil war in Kanto; it's a good place to meet friends and have fun with like-minded people.

    No! I shook my head. Sure, most of my friends would probably be at the riot – but there'd be another one next week. It wouldn't hurt to miss it, and I had important things to do now. I dragged my eyes away from a man running towards the station with a metal pipe in his hands, and kept walking.

    Where would Ashley go if he hadn't gone to Dürer Station, I wondered. Would he—

    “Pearl! What the hell are you doing here?”

    I stopped dead and looked right. There, leaning out of an alleyway, was Iago.

    ---

    “I could ask you the very same question,” I said.

    “No, you couldn't,” he replied. “Think about it. The train station we were going to was bombed, so we left. The police saw Ashley and asked him to tell them the how, why and who about the bombing. I can't go near the police because of my history, so I hid over here.” He shivered. “I don't like riots, anyway. I always get squashed.”

    I could believe it. He couldn't have weighed more than eighty pounds; he was so light and frail that he might as well have been made of tissue paper.

    “Well?” he demanded. “What the hell are you doing here? You're meant to be studying.”
    “I came to see how you guys were getting along,” I replied defensively. “Nothing wrong with that, is there?”

    “Ashley won't be pleased,” Iago said.

    “Well, screw Ashley. This is my life and I’m coming too.” I’m not sure I could have said that to Ashley, but Iago wasn't nearly as intimidating. I felt better for saying it, too – I’d got it out in the open, and it helped to focus my mind: I was going to help, and no one was going to stop me. Not even Ashley.

    “Fine,” snapped Iago. “You wait here with me and tell him that. Then we'll see how far you get.”

    I stepped into his alleyway – the riot police were coming down the street now – and leaned against the opposite wall to him. There was an awkward silence for a while, punctuated only by the sound of rioters having a fun time without me, and, desperate to break it, I ended up saying:

    “So... Iago. That's an interesting name.”

    Iago gave me a weird look.

    “Is it a Kadabra name?” I asked.

    “Jesus, you are dumb,” he replied. “Kadabra don't have names, they have thought patterns.”

    “I'm not dumb,” I protested.

    “I think you probably are,” Iago said. “Let me guess: underneath that blue dye, your hair is blonde, isn't it?”

    “Not all blondes are stupid!”

    “No,” agreed Iago. “I apologise for my generalisation. Let me rephrase: all humans are stupid.”

    “That's a worse generalisation,” I pointed out. “And anyway, what about Ashley? Is he stupid too?”

    Iago paused, and I mentally punched the air in victory. I’d beaten him.

    “Ashley,” he said quietly, “is different. He is different from all of you.”

    Something told me not to pursue that line of conversation any further, so I changed the subject.

    “Uh... Anyway, how did you know my hair was blonde?” I asked.

    “I didn't,” Iago replied. “It was just an insult that happened to be true.” He smiled, which displayed an unnerving number of fangs. “I love it when that happens.”

    “I guess,” I said uncertainly, thinking just how much I hated speaking to Kadabra.

    “Iago is the name of a villain in a play,” he said abruptly. “He's cunning, manipulative, and crafty. All attributes that I cultivate in myself.”

    “Why?” I felt that that was the question I had to ask if I was going to get anywhere with Iago. Why did he hate everything so much? Most Kadabra at least tolerated humans, so what made him different? What made him want to be a villain?

    I got no answer, though, because Ashley wandered past right then, glanced into the alley, and groaned.

    “What are you doing here?” he asked despairingly. “Miss Gideon—”

    “Pearl.”

    “Pearl, I was under the impression that you had work to do.”

    “Yeah, I do. But I figured that protecting my life and figuring out who wants to kill me and why was more important.”

    Ashley glared at me.

    “Go home,” he said. “I don't need or want your help.”

    “No,” I replied stubbornly. “I'm going to help you, whether you like it or not.”

    Iago watched this exchange with the detached interest of a naturalist watching two beetles fighting to the death.

    Ashley opened his mouth, and then closed it again. I don't think he was used to people not doing what he wanted.

    “Don't tell me I can't come,” I said warningly. “Because I’m coming.”

    “I...” He sighed. “Fine. Come with us, then.”

    “Yes!” I hissed under my breath. Then, aloud: “Good. I’m glad we've come to an agreement.”

    “Right,” Ashley said. “Come with me, then. Iago, meet us at the bus depot in an hour.”

    “The cops want you?”

    He nodded, and Iago slunk off.

    “OK, Pearl,” Ashley said, turning to me. “You can come with me. Just don't touch anything or say anything foolish. In fact, don't say anything at all.”

    “Where are we going?” I asked, willing to overlook the insult in my excitement.

    “Back to Dürer Station,” he replied. “Liza and Tristan just tried to kill me.”

    ---

    “Aw,” said Tristan, looking into the yellow capsule from his Kinder Egg with an air of deep disappointment. “The toy's a boat. I hate the boats.”

    “Shut up,” replied Liza, chewing her knuckle and watching the smoke curl out of the station windows.

    “You don't understand,” Tristan said. “The boats aren't even any fun to build. Their sails are really annoying.”

    And he hurled the capsule and assorted plastic components out of the window of the cab and onto the ground.

    Liza, however, had bigger problems than unwanted toys.

    “Oh, cal,” she breathed. “How the hell did they manage that?”

    “What – oh,” said Tristan, seeing it. “That is surprising.”

    For there were Ashley Lacrimére and Pearl Gideon, walking into Dürer Station – and very much alive.

    “Gurrrp.”

    “Quiet, you,” hissed Tristan. “How...?”

    “I don't know,” replied Liza. “But I think we might have come up against a very smart opponent here.”

    “Look, we failed. It doesn't matter, there's nothing connecting us to the crime, right?” Tristan asked. “So we can just try again later. As long as they never get to the base in Eterna, no one will know.”

    “You're right,” agreed Liza. “Let's get further away from this riot and think of a plan.”

    “Taxi!” cried someone, walking up to them; Tristan was too slow to react, and the man managed to get in the back of the cab.

    “Northvale, please,” he said, “and step—”

    “Get out,” ordered Liza.

    “What?”

    “You heard her, get out,” said Tristan. “I'm... off duty.”

    “Oh,” said the man. “Can't you just—?”

    “No,” replied Liza brusquely. “Now get out before we make you get out.”

    The man said something unprintable and left the car; the Croagunk croaked belligerently at him as he left, and waved one poison-drenched fist.

    “I told you to be quiet,” snapped Tristan, and the Croagunk ceased his warlike gestures, abashed. “Now do up your seatbelt.”

    The Croagunk shook his head.

    “Do it or I’ll recall you.”

    “Gurrrp!”

    Liza turned around and gave the Croagunk a look; it had the desired effect, and in a second, the little Pokémon had buckled his seatbelt.

    “There we go,” said Tristan. “That wasn't so hard. Liza, are you going to do up your— ow, OK, I guess you're not.”

    “Life's too short for seatbelts,” Liza replied.

    “It'll be even shorter without them,” muttered Tristan.

    “Just drive before someone else tries to get us to take them somewhere.”

    “OK, OK.”

    And they drove off, just as someone else called out for a taxi, and was sorely disappointed.

    ---

    “Ashley!” cried D.I. Rennet. “Where did you go?”

    “I told you, I needed to speak to my associate,” he said tersely. “Look, here she is.”

    “Miss Gideon?” Rennet looked as if his head were about to fall apart like a chocolate orange.

    “My new... assistant,” Ashley told him, with obvious distaste. “Shall we go back inside?”

    We were just outside Dürer station, having made our way past the riot; it was a fairly small and pathetic one, probably because it was still early, and it's really a night-time activity. From what I could see through the remnants of the fancy glass doors, the inside of the building had borne the blasts surprisingly well.

    “I wish more citizens would solve their own crimes,” Rennet told me admiringly. “That'd be really helpful.”

    I stared at him for a moment, and then followed Ashley through the wreckage of the doors.

    Inside, the station was fairly unharmed; it was just a little scorched around the edges. The same couldn't be said of the trains, however: two of them were smoking husks, and the others had tipped over with the force of the explosion. Since trains aren't meant to be tipped over, they hadn't taken that too well, to say the least.

    “Ashley,” I said, eyes wide, “what happened?”

    “Do you remember I told you that Liza and Tristan tried to kill me?” he asked quietly, striding over to the nearest wreck. A few men and women were poking around it in a desultory sort of way, but seemed to be making little headway.

    “Yeah?”

    “I noticed that the taxi driver that brought us here was Tristan in disguise. Since he didn’t attempt to kill us in the car, I assumed he was there to decide where we were departing from to reach Eterna. Iago and I went into the station and left by the Dome Street exit; a few minutes later, the train departed, and then it exploded.”

    “You think Tristan and Liza blew up an entire passenger train just to kill you?”

    “Two trains,” Ashley replied. “There were two that went via Eterna. And they weren't trying to just kill Iago and I.”

    “They weren't?”

    Ashley halted next to the wrecked train.

    “They probably thought you would come with us,” he told me. “They wanted to get you too.”

    Before I had a chance to absorb this information, someone called out:

    “Ashley! Where did you go?”

    “I went to fetch my assistant,” he said, turning to face the SOCO people who were poking around the train wreck. “Here she is. Miss Pearl Gideon, an expert on explosives.”

    This claim had the effect of distracting me from the fact that someone had just tried to kill me fairly instantaneously.

    “What?” I said, but people were already nodding and welcoming me, and – most terrifyingly, asking what I thought about the situation.

    “I – I need to have a closer look at the wreck,” I announced, casting a dirty look at Ashley, who nodded and smiled.

    With everyone looking at me, I walked as confidently as I could over to the place where the train's door had once been, and peered inside. There wasn't much in there; if there had been any passengers, they seemed to have ceased to exist when the bomb went off. I tried hard not to think about that; these SOCO people thought I was an explosives expert, and I didn't really know how to back out of this situation now without looking really, really stupid.

    “Gelignite,” someone whispered to me, and I leaped on the word like a pouncing Luxray.

    “Gelignite,” I proclaimed, straightening up. “They used gelignite.” I hoped to God that my assumption that gelignite was an explosive was correct.

    “Really?” asked a man standing nearby. “How can you tell?”

    “There's...”

    “Boiled potatoes,” the person whispered again. I looked around surreptitiously, but couldn't work out who was talking.

    “Boiled potatoes,” I said knowledgeably, and suddenly realised that I could, in fact, smell boiled potatoes. “I, er, can you smell it?”

    “Yes,” said one of the SOCO women. “I – oh, of course! The taggant!”

    “Yeah,” I said, nodding sagely. “The taggant.”

    “So we're looking for someone who purchases their gelignite from within the country,” Ashley said. “Thank you, Pearl. You've been very helpful.” He nodded to the (possibly superfluous) SOCO team, took me by the arm, and led me away, towards D.I. Rennet.

    “What the hell?” I hissed furiously at him. “Why did you do that?”

    “If you couldn't handle that, you should go home now,” he replied mildly. “Besides, I can't see what you're complaining about. Didn't I help you out?”

    “You were the one giving me the answers?”

    “Yes.”

    “What the hell?” I hissed again. “And what the hell is a tagga— oh my God, the lunatic's here.”

    For there, talking to Rennet, was the weird Frenchman who'd accosted me earlier in the street: the man who claimed to come from the International Police, Looker.

  10. #10
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    Name: classified. Codename: Looker. Place of residence:classified, classified, classified. classified is one of our most classified workers, possessing as he does admirable classified of many languages and remarkable powers of classified. There are a classified of classified relating to the classified of classified.
    That's funny. It remembers me from Officer X from the Madagascar's Penguins. He said that his mom didn't told him his name 'cause it was classified.

    “Hey, did you know that Gardenia Willis has been engaged fourteen times?”
    A random statement.

    “Do not forget to call!” he cried after my retreating back. I started walking faster. “No, not because I am lonely – of course not. It is because of Liza!”
    I don't believe you.

    “What's going on?” yelled a man standing next to me. “What the hell was that?”

    “I believe it's called an explosion,” replied the policeman.
    Naaah, seriously?

    A group of people rushed past me, bricks in their hands; from Dürer Square, I could hear the sounds of violence. I actually kind of wanted to go back and participate – riots in Sinnoh are usually quite fun, and only a couple of people ever get seriously injured – but I had to find out what had happened to Ashley and Iago first.
    Resist.... the.... tentation..... Aaaaagh! Mob, here I go!

    Then again, I could go and riot. It's actually our non-official national sport, and I’m quite good at it; I rioted for one of the university teams. It's also a community event, like a football match in Europe or civil war in Kanto; it's a good place to meet friends and have fun with like-minded people.
    You just did the same that we all would do.

    “I'm not dumb,” I protested.

    “I think you probably are,” Iago said. “Let me guess: underneath that blue dye, your hair is blonde, isn't it?”

    “Not all blondes are stupid!”

    “No,” agreed Iago. “I apologise for my generalisation. Let me rephrase: all humans are stupid.”
    Kadabra wins.

    “That's a worse generalisation,” I pointed out. “And anyway, what about Ashley? Is he stupid too?”

    Iago paused, and I mentally punched the air in victory. I’d beaten him.
    Make that Human wins.

    “I wish more citizens would solve their own crimes,” Rennet told me admiringly. “That'd be really helpful.”
    And you could be more lazy.

    OKay. That's enough for today. Merry late Xmas ans Happy New Year to everyone that reads this.


    DiZ out.
    I'm chilean. I'm dislexic. But I can write in English. 73% of teenagers would cry if they saw Justin Bieber standing on top of a skyscraper about to jump. If you are the 27% sitting there with popcorn and 3D glasses, screaming "DO A BACKFLIP!", copy and paste this in your signature.
    This is Turtwig, he was the most under appreciated starter in Diamond & Pearl. If you picked Turtwig as your starter, put this in your sig. Started by Dax-360


    I've claimed Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories! One of the best GBA games. Got it memorized?

    I've claimed Duosion. Fear the cell.

  11. #11
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    Oh how we laughed and laughed, except I wasn't laughing, and I thought we agreed not to talk about that.

    Warning. Due to lack of time while on vacation, this review will rather small in nature. On the bright side though, that means you spend less time reading it and more time writing. This emergancy announcement is over.

    Great chapter, I would like to say that Iago is now definately my favoriteist character. (I know its not a word, but since when am I one to care?)
    Anti human remarks three chapters in? I like him all ready.

    Looker is one of the oddest characters the games has produced so far, in my opinion.

    Riots as a national past time? Really?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post

    A group of people rushed past me, bricks in their hands; from Dürer Square, I could hear the sounds of violence. I actually kind of wanted to go back and participate – riots in Sinnoh are usually quite fun, and only a couple of people ever get seriously injured – but I had to find out what had happened to Ashley and Iago first.

    Then again, I could go and riot. It's actually our non-official national sport, and I’m quite good at it; I rioted for one of the university teams. It's also a community event, like a football match in Europe or civil war in Kanto; it's a good place to meet friends and have fun with like-minded people.
    Why do you like twisting everything I once thought I knew about Pokemon into a deformed pretzel?!
    The bold part alone makes me now want to burn every piece of my FireRed in a fire

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    "What the hell?” I hissed again. “And what the hell is a tagga— oh my God, the lunatic's here.”
    I imagine you saying that every time I post here.

    Anyways, great chapter.

    'Til next time,

    Knightfall signing off...
    Last edited by Knightfall; 29th December 2011 at 4:08 AM.

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    Yay! Kinder Eggs! I remember hating the car I got in mine, once... Anyway, this looks to be a good story. Just add a pinch of characterization and a teaspoon of plot development, and the resulting recipe will be magnificent! (Gosh I sound like Cilan)
    Quote Originally Posted by Grei View Post
    Alternatively, the Pokemon fandom is on a whole entirely unable to be pleased, and no matter what Game Freak does, a loud minority will always ***** about how they could have done it better. :P


    Fun with SI prefixes:

    What do you call a 2000 g. mockingbird?

    2 kilo Mockingbird

    That pun was like 1 trillion bulls: terra-bull

  13. #13
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    Whee! Pardon me, I;m gonna stand in the back and wait for you to catch up. When's chapter, ah 14 I think it was I left off on due here again?
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

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    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Oh how we laughed and laughed, except I wasn't laughing, and I thought we agreed not to talk about that.
    Hey! Under the circumstances, I think you'll find I've been shockingly nice!

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Why do you like twisting everything I once thought I knew about Pokemon into a deformed pretzel?!
    The bold part alone makes me now want to burn every piece of my FireRed in a fire
    I think it's just the result of Sinnish prejudice against Kanto. I don't think the two countries like each other very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjanerd View Post
    Yay! Kinder Eggs! I remember hating the car I got in mine, once... Anyway, this looks to be a good story. Just add a pinch of characterization and a teaspoon of plot development, and the resulting recipe will be magnificent! (Gosh I sound like Cilan)
    Mmm, Kinder Eggs... I know the pain of addiction to those. I have a box full of tiny, illogical toys that I've collected from them.

    You're right about the story having the makings of a good one - it doesn't have as good an opening as my last one. It does pick up though. Eventually.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Whee! Pardon me, I;m gonna stand in the back and wait for you to catch up. When's chapter, ah 14 I think it was I left off on due here again?
    I don't know. Uh, when I get round to it? Sorry, but I've kind of lost track of my update schedule.

    I've been busy recently and forgot to update this story. Thanks for being patient, everyone, and I'll get a new chapter right away.

    F.A.B.

  15. #15
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    Chapter Four: In Which we Expose the Iniquity of Bus Conductors, and the Truth about Iago

    'In general, buses in Sinnoh are not a reliable means of transport. Continuous roadworks, poorly-maintained vehicles and conductors that appear to be recruited from among the ranks of the demons all conspire to ensure that any trip taken by bus will be one that the passenger will regret for the rest of their life. The advice of this writer is to travel by train wherever possible.'
    —Sir Topham Hatt, Bt, The World Guide to Public Transport


    “Who is Looker?” asked Ashley. He seemed annoyed that I knew something he didn't, so I stuck my tongue out at him.

    “Not telling.”

    “Then I’ll ask him,” he said and walked off to speak to Rennet and Looker. Feeling faintly stupid, I stood there for a moment, and then ran to catch up.

    “Ah, Ashley,” said Rennet, turning to him. “This is Looker. He's an agent of the International Police.”

    Ashley regarded Looker with a level eye.

    “Good evening, monsieur,” Looker said brightly. “I have been told you are in charge of the investigation here? The Diamond, are you not?”

    “Bonjour, monsieur Looker,” replied Ashley. “Oui, je suis le Diamant. Et vous voulez...?”
    Looker's face lit up like a Christmas tree, and he conversed rapidly with Ashley in French. Once or twice, both men glanced over at me, and Looker chuckled; I ground my teeth and shifted from foot to foot impatiently.

    At length, Ashley was done; he took one of Looker's cards politely, bid him au revoir, and told Rennet that if he knew what was good for him, he would leave this bombing alone before he got into something bigger than he wanted. After that, he took my arm again and steered me gently out of the station.

    “He's hunting for Liza,” he observed. “But then again, I think you knew that.”

    “What were you saying about me?” I demanded to know.

    Ashley sighed.

    “This is why I don't work with a partner,” he replied. “I always have to explain things to them.”

    “Just tell me!”

    “I introduced you as a world-class assassin turned detective, and asked him not to tell anyone of your true profession for fear of compromising our investigation.”

    I stared at him.

    “Why would you do that?”

    Ashley smiled again, which would have deflected the anger and melted the heart of a woman who wasn't quite so good at being cross as I was, and said:

    “If I have to keep you around, I might as well amuse myself with you.”

    “Bratchny!”

    “Let's not get personal, Pearl,” he said as we walked out into the square. “I'd like to keep things amicable.”

    The riot had dissolved; there was no sign it had ever even occurred. It wasn't the best part, but it was one of the rules: you always cleared up after your riot, otherwise it actually did become illegal.

    “Ashley, why do you have to be so nasty?”

    “I'm not being nasty.” We walked across the square to the taxi rank. “This is camaraderie, isn't it?”

    “No, you're just setting me up in tricky situations.”

    “Interesting.” Ashley nodded deeply and held out a hand for the nearest taxi. “I'll work on that.”

    Somewhat nonplussed, I changed the subject:

    “What's a taggant?”

    “A chemical added to something – in this case, plastic explosive – to identify it. In this country, it's mandatory to tag gelignite with boiled-potatoes scent, because our police forces lack enough sniffer dogs to be sure of catching subtler smells. Northanger Road, please.”

    The taxi began to move.

    “Are all plastic explosives made to smell like food?”

    “Yes. Semtex is bacon, for example.”

    I gave Ashley a sideways look; I thought he might have been joking, but then again, I wasn't sure he was capable of it. Despite my suspicions, though, his face remained serious.

    “Right,” I said slowly. “What are we doing now?”

    “There is a bus leaving for Eterna forty minutes from now,” Ashley replied, showing me the timetables on his smartphone. “We will be on it, along with Iago. Once there, we'll investigate further.”

    The cabbie nearly drove off the road.

    “You're going by bus?” he asked in the low, husky voice of one who has a debt to the Devil, and has just seem him in the seafood restaurant across the street.

    “Yeah, Ashley, I think that's probably a really bad idea,” I agreed. “You know what they're like.”

    “Yes, I do. And that's why Tristan and Liza won't expect us to go by bus. They'll expect us to go to another train station, like Lattre or Volze.” Ashley leaned back in his seat.

    “Don't do it,” advised the cabbie, slowing down for the traffic lights. “It ain't worth it. Nothing's worth that.”

    “Really, Ashley, I think he's right—”

    “Thank you, Pearl, but my mind is made up.”

    “I'll take you to Lattre Station for free,” the cabbie offered. He sounded like he was on the verge of tears. “Please, just don't do this to yourself.”

    “Ashley, I refuse to go by bus!”

    “Then you can go home,” he replied. “Look, Tristan at least seems to be native to Sinnoh; he doesn't even have a trace of an accent. He will expect us to go by train, and by the time he and Liza have found that we haven't, we will be out of the city.”

    The cabbie shook his head, and heaved a great sigh.

    “Well, I’ll take you to the depot,” he said, in the sort of voice that suggested he was talking to a pair of condemned criminals. “But on your own heads be it.”

    And with those ominous words, he drove us towards Northanger Road.

    ---

    “Three singles to Eterna, please,” Ashley said. I watched the bus conductor's face carefully, and my heart sank as I saw his eyes flash yellow with Hadean fire.

    In the end, we had come via my apartment, where Ashley had given me five minutes to get together anything I wanted to take with me; since I was me and not Stephanie, I’d decided that as long as I had access to money, I could buy anything I needed, and probably packed way too little. It's the excitement, I think – I always just want to skip the boring preparation and go straight ahead to the fun bit. Ashley raised his eyebrows when he saw me come out with nothing but the handbag I’d gone in with, but said nothing.
    Now, we stood at the front of the queue with Iago, attempting to buy a ticket.

    “The fox,” the conductor said. “Double for him.”

    Iago looked like he was on the verge of striking him down with as much fury as Jules Winnfield, but Ashley stopped him with a look.

    “I'm going to pay for three adults,” he said, “and if you want more, I shall loose Pearl here on you.”

    The conductor looked at me, and made some remark about that plainly not being a bad thing. I felt that I was probably meant to play along with Ashley's scheme here, and threatened to ram his unnervingly sharp-looking teeth down his throat. Even if the man was a demon, he apparently feared injury, and gave us no more trouble for the time being.

    “Thank you,” said Ashley unexpectedly, as we made our way down the aisle. “That was kind of you.”

    I gave him another sideways look.

    “Are you trying to be nice?”

    “Is it working?”

    “I'll get back to you.”

    “More importantly,” said Iago, “we need to hurry up and get the back seats.”

    “Why?” asked Ashley, puzzled.

    “Because that's where the cool kids sit,” I explained, wondering how he had made it through his teenage years without learning this. (This was, of course, assuming he wasn't a teenager now; I still had no idea how old he was.)

    “Is it?”

    “Ashley,” said Iago, laying a friendly hand on his shoulder, “you're a fine detective. Almost a Kadabra, even. But sometimes you can be quite an idiot.”

    And he guided him to the back of the bus, much to the relief of the queue that had built up behind us but didn't like to interrupt what looked like a decidedly shady interspecies gathering.

    Naturally, Iago grabbed one window seat right away, and moments later Ashley took the other. I sighed and sat down in the middle one.

    “It's hot,” I said.

    No one said anything; the other passengers were busy arguing with the conductor and taking their seats, Ashley was staring out of the window, and Iago was tapping his claws impatiently on the seat in front of him.

    “It's really hot in here,” I said, adding some emphasis in case it would make someone react.

    Still no reaction. The guy in front of Iago turned around and asked him to stop tapping; Iago replied that he thought tapping on a chair paled into insignificance when compared to the genocide perpetuated against his race in the forties by humans, and the man was forced to back down.

    Ashley stared at the concrete walls of the bus depot, and sighed.

    I tapped the air conditioning button above my head.

    “This doesn't work,” I said, hoping that this would attract some attention. I was right; it did.

    “Pearl, we're in Sinnoh, and on a bus,” Iago snapped. “This is a machine designed by Satan specifically to torture poor saps who can't afford train tickets.”

    This drew some unfriendly looks from the passengers ahead of us, and I scooted over a few inches towards Ashley, desperately trying to look like I wasn't with Iago.

    “I don't know him,” I whispered conspiratorially to the people in front.

    Ashley sighed again, and I heard the pneumatic hiss of the bus doors sealing.

    “The bus will depart now for Eterna City,” said the conductor. Through his speaker system, he sounded like some hideous cross between Darth Vader and Jigsaw. “There will be no stops.”

    I could have sworn I heard a note of malicious glee in his voice; however, I did nothing but settle down and try to get comfortable in my seat, which seemed to be made mostly out of broken glass and beach stones.

    As the bus rumbled slowly and noisily out of the depot, I wondered if travelling with Ashley and Iago had been such a good idea after all. I gave it fifteen minutes before we had our first breakdown – which was, in fact, wrong. It only took ten minutes before the bus stalled, halfway down Mansard Avenue.

    No one was allowed to get out; we remained in the stifling heat of the bus for the full ten minutes it took the conductor to get out, direct some infernal wizardry at the engine and get the machine started again. All the while, a storm of car horns blared behind us, and while the bus's walls did an admirable job of keeping the heat in, they didn't keep the angry noise out.

    A baby started crying, and I slumped in my seat, defeated.

    “God, I hate buses,” I murmured, and tried to fall asleep.

    ---

    An hour later, we were driving slowly along the motorway, a few miles north of Jubilife. We had broken down twice more, the baby hadn't stopped crying, and the conductor's grin had broadened until it seemed to cover his face from ear to ear, which was not only unnerving but kind of scary.

    Now we hit the roadworks.

    Sinnish roads are not great. We're the first to admit it; it probably doesn't do much for our tourist industry, but the first thing any Sinnish person tells a foreigner is that they should go everywhere by train, if they can. For the government cares a lot about our road network, and therefore it's almost always being repaired.

    So it was that we became stuck in a seventy-vehicle tailback on Route 204, while someone resurfaced the roads up ahead.

    It was at this point that Iago rummaged in the fluffy fur that made up his tail, withdrew a small bag and pulled out an Oddish leaf joint.

    “You smoke odd?” I asked, surprised. “I thought Kadabra didn't like distracting their minds.”

    “In case you haven't noticed,” Iago replied, “I'm not an average Kadabra.” He lit the joint and stuck it in his sharp-toothed mouth.

    I glanced at Ashley, who might have been dead, asleep or thinking; I didn't like to presume any one of the three.

    “I don't think you can smoke here,” I said.

    “Actually, I can,” Iago replied. “I need this to get through this hell without going insane.”

    I looked at the other passengers. They appeared to be studiously ignoring Iago and the plumes of sweet-smelling smoke curling out from between his moustaches; in fact, more than one of them was smoking themselves, and at least two of those were smoking odd.

    “Fair enough,” I replied.

    Now, I could write down what Iago talked about after that, but it's basically drivel about how blue my hair was and how he wanted to enslave humanity, repeated for three hours as we drove past Floaroma and up to Eterna. Iago might have enjoyed his bus ride, but I think he made it significantly worse for all the non-stoned people on board. The conductor should really have thrown him off, but he was probably enjoying the way he was ruining everyone else's journey. Thankfully, I managed to fall asleep, only to wake up a few hours later with a horrible pain in my neck. I was fairly certain that the seats were designed to do that to anyone who slept in them, as punishment for trying to avoid the torture of the bus trip by sleeping.

    When I came back to our depressing reality, Ashley still hadn't moved from the position he'd been in when we set off.

    “Where are we?” I asked.

    “About twenty minutes from Eterna,” Ashley said, without opening his eyes – or indeed moving his lips. I supposed that that was how he'd given me the answers back in the bombed train station.

    My phone beeped, and I flipped it open, stared at the screen and shut it again with a sigh. Apparently I had seven missed calls from Stephanie, and one from Gareth; I didn't care so much about the first ones, since Stephanie had a key and could get her notes back – but whenever Gareth called, it meant I was missing a party. A big one. The kind that can leave people dead from exhaustion or alcohol poisoning. In other words, exactly the kind I like.

    I looked over at Iago. He was staring intently out of the window, and occasionally making remarks about how futile all human endeavour was, because one day his people would rise up and destroy it all.

    Uncertain whether he was still high or not, and sincerely hoping that he was mistaken about the warlike tendencies of the Kadabra race, I leaned back in my seat and tried to work out if there were several babies that were taking it in turns to cry, or whether there was just one with impressive stamina that had managed to keep it up all the way from Jubilife.

    The closer we got to our destination, the slower the bus seemed to go. By now, it was about quarter past seven; the sun was starting to set, and I was beginning to go insane from the heat, the noise and the monotonously regular breakdowns. I wasn't the only one. A woman a few seats ahead of us was rocking back and forth, knees drawn up to her chest, and muttering about a happy place; a man two rows ahead of her and to the right was softly sobbing into his hands.

    Something made a horrible grinding noise, and the bus glided to the side of the motorway and stopped.

    “I regret to inform you,” the conductor said in his terrible voice, “that the bus seems to have broken down. Please bear with us while we see what the problem is.”

    He got out; some desperate soul made a break for it, trying to rush out after him, but the conductor froze him on the spot with the force of his smouldering eyes and locked the doors.

    “God give us strength,” I heard someone mutter, and wholeheartedly agreed, though I had doubts that any deity would choose to help us. After all, we were in a bus: if anything, God was punishing us.

    At length, the bus started up, and finally the buildings of Eterna started to appear around us; a small cheer went up from the passengers who were still capable of hope, and in vengeance for this, the conductor deliberately guided us into a one-way street network that would take us away from the station. We made two circuits before he decided he had broken our spirit, and took us along to the bus stop.

    When the bus finally drew to a halt, no one moved at first; we could hardly believe that our torment was at an end. Then Ashley, who didn't seem to have been affected by the horrors of the journey at all, got up and left, dragging me with him. Iago followed, pausing only to glare briefly at the conductor – and then slowly, everyone else got up too, heading cautiously to the exit like slaves who can't quite believe that they've just been freed. I noticed as we left that the conductor took a tape marked 'SCREAMING BABY SOUNDTRACK' out of the bus's cassette player; that was one mystery solved, and another black mark on the conductor's soul.

    “Fresh air,” I said, hardly daring to believe it. “It's so wonderful...”

    “I know,” breathed Iago. “Like scamming an old man out of his pension.”

    “Pull yourselves together,” said Ashley sharply. He grabbed us both by the wrists and dragged our unresisting bodies down the road. “Come on. I want to start investigating.”

    “Whoa. Wait.” I stopped in the middle of the moonlit street and raised a hand. “I'm not doing that tonight.”

    “Yeah, I have to agree with Pearl for once,” said Iago. “There's no way I’m doing anything now.”

    Ashley looked at us in astonishment.

    “Why?”

    “We're exhausted,” I replied.

    “And still slightly stoned,” added Iago.

    “Fine,” sighed Ashley. “You two find somewhere to stay, and I’ll find you later. Go and – and eat and sleep, or whatever it is you want to do.”

    With that, he turned on his heel and stalked off into the night.

    “Eat and sleep,” I said. “Sounds good to me.”

    “Me too,” agreed Iago. “Let's go.”

    We started walking away in the opposite direction to the one Ashley had chosen.

    “Is he angry?” I asked. “Ashley, that is.”

    “No. He just doesn't understand.” Iago twirled a finger around next to his head. “He's wired differently. Got more in common with an Alakazam with a human, or even a Kadabra.”

    I decided not to reveal my lack of knowledge about what made Kadabra and Alakazam different from each other, and contented myself with nodding sagely.

    “You don't know what I’m talking about,” Iago said. “Never mind. You're only human.”

    “You're in a good mood.”

    “I'm not in my right mind. I’m aware right now that I hate you, but I can't bring myself to put the theory into practice.”

    “I like you better when you're stoned.”

    “Funny you should say that. Everyone does.” Iago paused. “Left here.”

    I followed him around the corner.

    “Where are we going?” I asked.

    “Food,” he replied succinctly. “Do you like Chinese?”

    “Not really—”

    “Great,” Iago said. “There's a nice Chinese restaurant somewhere along this street, if I remember right. And I always do.”

    I sighed and followed. Maybe I didn't like Iago so much after all.

    ---

    Ashley knew exactly where he was going. Though his work didn't usually take him outside of the capital, he knew the other major cities of Sinnoh fairly well, albeit in a completely different way to most people.

    He knew, for instance, that in Eterna, the best place to go to ask about any nefarious doings was the Gardening Society headquarters on Sanck Street.

    This building was small and understated; there was almost nothing about it that might reveal what went on within. In fact, it looked very much like the garden supplies shop of a Mrs. D. Periwinkle-Bazaar, open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This was the only indication that something out of the ordinary happened here, for there is usually no garden supply so urgently needed that it cannot wait until morning to be bought.

    Ashley walked in and went over to the counter; Mrs D. Periwinkle-Bazaar was on the other side, and she looked up, surprised, from a magazine as he entered.

    “Oh! I wasn't expecting anyone so late.”

    “I wonder if you could tell me about this,” Ashley said, placing the torn-out Galactic logo on the counter and sliding it over to her.

    Immediately, Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar's mouth tightened to a thin line, and she looked at him with renewed suspicion.

    “I don't know anything about it,” she said. “This is a gardening store—”

    “You know as well as I that this isn't just a gardening store,” Ashley cut in. “I want to know everything you do.”

    “Who are you?” Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar's hand was creeping towards a pair of shears.

    “I am the Diamond,” Ashley replied. “And unless you tell me what I want to know, I shall have no choice but to destroy your organisation, no matter how many old ladies attack me with garden shears.”

    It did not do to underestimate the skills of a qualified Gardening Society member. Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar lashed out with the shears with the speed of a striking cobra; Ashley, taken aback, escaped a cut throat by the slightest moment. He ducked, lost half a lock of hair and took a step back, just as the pensioner vaulted the counter and swung the shears down towards his face.

    “This is not how I wanted to talk to you!” Ashley cried, dropping to the floor and rolling left into a rack of flowerpots. He scrambled to his feet and grabbed hold of Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar's shear-wielding arm before she could raise it. “Now look what you made me do,” he said, annoyed. “I've damaged your merchandise.”

    “I know who you are,” growled Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar, tearing her arm free and elbowing him viciously in the chest. “People like me have to protect ourselves—”

    “I'm not here for you!” wheezed Ashley, staggering back a step and fumbling in the breast pocket of his coat. “Your organisation doesn't interest me!”

    But the spinster was not to be stopped: the blades flashed towards his midriff—

    —only to be stopped with a sharp snick as they met something hard, jammed between the blades.

    Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar froze.

    “Calm down,” said Ashley. “I don't want to have to use this, especially not on a woman of your standing. You have so much left to live for. Your crime syndicate, for example.”

    “What do you want with us?” Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar asked.

    “I don't want anything with the Gardening Society,” Ashley replied wearily. “You're too simple. Money-laundering and extortion, open-and-shut. I’m on the trail of something much more interesting. Now tell me about Galactic and I will leave this shop and most likely never bother you again.”

    Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar straightened up and withdrew the shears, then went around behind the counter again. This done, she raised her weapon in the air.

    “I'll put these down if you put yours down,” she said.

    “I think not,” Ashley replied. “I'm feeling a little threatened, so I might just keep it. Now,” he went on, “I'm going to ask you one more time. Please tell me everything you know about Galactic...”

    ---

    “Are you going to eat any of that?” asked Iago. For someone so small and so light, he'd eaten a lot already, and I was hoping that he would be footing the bill.

    “No,” I sighed. “I told you I don't like this.”

    “That's why I came here,” the Kadabra said happily, taking my plate and twirling his chopsticks. “I knew I’d get to eat yours too.”

    “You're sober again, aren't you?”

    “I have been for a while. I’ve just been screwing with you.” Iago grinned at me through a mouthful of fried rice.

    I couldn't help but smile, even though he was being horrible.

    “You're so nasty,” I said. “So why do I like you?”

    “Because I make you like me,” Iago replied, motioning to the waiter and calling for more food. “See, I’m a con artist.”

    I should probably have been surprised, but I wasn't. Instead I sighed, nodded and took a gulp of my beer.

    “It's the perfect career for a Kadabra among humans, even if I don't have any psychic powers. I can read your faces and bodies like open books, and it's easy to make you do whatever I want. I grifted around the world, worked my way back to Sinnoh and scammed Wolstein's out of twenty million dollars.”

    I widened my eyes.

    “That was you?

    “I guess so, but a psychiatrist once told me I’m a compulsive liar, so it might have been someone else.” Iago chewed thoughtfully. “It was a satisfying job, but it needed a guy they could trust, so I had to use a human frontman. Unfortunately, he double-crossed me, the bratchny, and ran off with the twenty million plus the nine hundred thousand I had left at the moment, then reported me to the police.” Iago snorted bitterly. “Ten years and that was the first time I was noticed. Of course, if you're a Kadabra who talks aloud, there's no disguising yourself; I couldn't get out of the country or dodge the cops. I went into hiding in Jubilife.”

    He fell silent.

    “I'm sorry,” I said, feeling monstrously inadequate.

    “That's annoying,” Iago replied. “Why are you humans always sorry for things you didn't do?”

    “All right, all right. What happened next?” I prompted. Perhaps it was the booze – he'd been drinking pretty freely, and he was a literal lightweight – but he'd been very open tonight.

    “Next, we decided to leave the restaurant,” said Iago, and slipped out of his seat and ran outside.

    I stared after him for a moment.

    “You bratchny,” I breathed. “I...”

    At this point, Iago reappeared.

    “Look,” he said, hopping back into his chair, “if I’m going to mould you into someone I can bear to live with, you're going to have to learn to take a hint. I said we decided to leave. Note the inclusion of the word we.”

    “We're not paying?”

    “Do you have any money?”

    “Some, but you ate about twenty thousand dollars' worth of food. If you want to dine and dash, I’m fine with that.”

    “I thought you would be. You seem the impulsive type.” Iago's eyes flicked over to the waiter and back again. “Count of three. One... two... three!”

    I can move pretty fast when I want to, and when I’m not drunk wearing high heels in the middle of the night. Iago and I were out of the door almost before our chopsticks hit the plates. The waiter shouted behind us – but we were racing down the street, and were out of his sight in less than ten seconds. Two minutes later, we'd lost him, and came to a breathless, giggly halt somewhere in Eterna's network of back roads.

    “I haven't done that for ages,” I said through my laughter. “That was fantastic!”

    “I know,” Iago replied. “I don't do that nearly as often as I should.”

    “Ashley disapproves?”

    “No, he just doesn't care. If he doesn't get a kick out of it, it's no fun.” Iago sighed. “Hotel and sleep?”

    “Sounds good to me,” I replied, and we walked off. I wasn't sure whether we were friends yet, but it seemed that there'd been at least some improvement in our relationship.

    ---

    At that very moment, in a building many miles away, there was a man sitting behind a desk and thinking. On the desk was another person; there was another chair, but this person, for whatever reason, wasn't using it.

    Unfortunately, we join this couple halfway through a conversation, so we hear only a short, mysterious exchange that makes no sense to us without further exposition.

    “How do you know all of this?” asked the man. He was very important, and so we shall henceforth call him the Important Man.

    “We have our sources,” the person on the desk replied cagily. “We'll tell you when it's safe.”

    “Well... all right. I trust you,” the Important Man said.

    “If you can't trust us,” replied the other darkly, “then you can't trust anybody.”

    “That's true.” The Important Man almost smiled. “Witty.”

    “We know.” His companion's eyes smouldered. “It was our intention to be witty.”

    “All right,” said the Important Man agreeably. “Now, I’d like to run through tomorrow's speech with you again...”

  16. #16
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    EDIT: First reply? Could it actualy be happening? Finally! First reply!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Hey! Under the circumstances, I think you'll find I've been shockingly nice!
    Nice? If I recall, you're the one who tore me to pieces and then threw every piece into a fire. But, I'm not one who holds onto a grudge for very long.
    You want your freedom? Take it. (That's what I'm counting on.)

    Anyways I loved this chapter!
    It had all the darker humor that I've been wanting!

    The speaker of the quote at the beginning of the chapter got my attention. I'm trying to remember where I've heard that guys name before, because I have. I think it has something to do with a certain blue steam train.

    So far Pearl has been fake promoted from an assistant to world-class assassin. Hooray for lying!

    What's so bad about taking the bus? I mean it can't possibly be that bad, can it?

    Well, after reading the rest of this I realize that it is that bad.
    Go corrupt mass transit systems!

    Iago is now my favorite character, hands down. That Kadabra must have took some lessions from Puck. Dislike of most humans, has a crime-ridden background, still on the run from authorities, smokes oddish leaves. Yep, he's checked off most of the list.

    Moving on, the best part of the chapter was of course, the bus ride from hell.
    Now I see why the cabbie was so upset, I'd try to convince people not to ride them as well.

    And yes, a stoned Iago is definately more entertaining then sober Iago.

    I thought that the Gardening Society was harmless, with a name like that who would even think of the unspeakable acts of violence that they can commit with gardening tools.

    If more evil organizations gave themselves harmless sounding names like "The Gardening Society" then there'd be many more evil teams running about.

    But who could work for a Team whose boss is named something like Mrs. D. Periwinkle-Bazaar?

    I have a hunch that Mr. The Important Man is going to be very important to the plot, it's just a hunch.

    Great chapter as usual, loved all the humorous parts- not to be confused with non-humorous parts, completely different.

    'Til next time,

    Knightfall signing off...

    Happy New Year! Here's to making it to 2013 alive.
    Last edited by Knightfall; 31st December 2011 at 7:29 PM. Reason: First reply

  17. #17
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    Aw crap. I lost the first reply. But anyway, I don't even have my own Internet.

    “Pearl, we're in Sinnoh, and on a bus,” Iago snapped. “This is a machine designed by Satan specifically to torture poor saps who can't afford train tickets.”
    This is signature material. May I?

    “The bus will depart now for Eterna City,” said the conductor. Through his speaker system, he sounded like some hideous cross between Darth Vader and Jigsaw.
    LOL.

    I glanced at Ashley, who might have been dead, asleep or thinking; I didn't like to presume any one of the three.
    Wow, Pearl killed another person, and without touching!

    Thankfully, I managed to fall asleep, only to wake up a few hours later with a horrible pain in my neck. I was fairly certain that the seats were designed to do that to anyone who slept in them, as punishment for trying to avoid the torture of the bus trip by sleeping.
    DIE BY SLEEPING IN A BUS!

    “About twenty minutes from Eterna,” Ashley said, without opening his eyes – or indeed moving his lips. I supposed that that was how he'd given me the answers back in the bombed train station.
    Oh, he isn't dead. And VENTRILOQUISM! Big word.

    The closer we got to our destination, the slower the bus seemed to go. By now, it was about quarter past seven; the sun was starting to set, and I was beginning to go insane from the heat, the noise and the monotonously regular breakdowns. I wasn't the only one. A woman a few seats ahead of us was rocking back and forth, knees drawn up to her chest, and muttering about a happy place; a man two rows ahead of her and to the right was softly sobbing into his hands.
    Here we have a mobile madhouse.

    I noticed as we left that the conductor took a tape marked 'SCREAMING BABY SOUNDTRACK' out of the bus's cassette player; that was one mystery solved, and another black mark on the conductor's soul.
    Okay, that was a really bad ride.

    “Next, we decided to leave the restaurant,” said Iago, and slipped out of his seat and ran outside.

    I stared after him for a moment.

    “You bratchny,” I breathed. “I...”

    At this point, Iago reappeared.

    “Look,” he said, hopping back into his chair, “if I’m going to mould you into someone I can bear to live with, you're going to have to learn to take a hint. I said we decided to leave. Note the inclusion of the word we.”
    Yeah, the we was very obvious.

    OKay. Enough. Happy New Year. Raise a hand if you think that we die in December.


    DiZ out.
    I'm chilean. I'm dislexic. But I can write in English. 73% of teenagers would cry if they saw Justin Bieber standing on top of a skyscraper about to jump. If you are the 27% sitting there with popcorn and 3D glasses, screaming "DO A BACKFLIP!", copy and paste this in your signature.
    This is Turtwig, he was the most under appreciated starter in Diamond & Pearl. If you picked Turtwig as your starter, put this in your sig. Started by Dax-360


    I've claimed Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories! One of the best GBA games. Got it memorized?

    I've claimed Duosion. Fear the cell.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Nice? If I recall, you're the one who tore me to pieces and then threw every piece into a fire. But, I'm not one who holds onto a grudge for very long.
    You want your freedom? Take it. (That's what I'm counting on.)
    I think we've now taken this as far as it can possibly go.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Anyways I loved this chapter!
    It had all the darker humor that I've been wanting!

    The speaker of the quote at the beginning of the chapter got my attention. I'm trying to remember where I've heard that guys name before, because I have. I think it has something to do with a certain blue steam train.
    That's exactly who he is. A lot of the quoted people are references or puns.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Iago is now my favorite character, hands down. That Kadabra must have took some lessions from Puck. Dislike of most humans, has a crime-ridden background, still on the run from authorities, smokes oddish leaves. Yep, he's checked off most of the list.
    Hm. I actually can't stand Iago. He's much, much nastier than Puck; with Puck, you always have the feeling that he's sort of a nice guy deep down - but Iago... Well, perhaps it's just me knowing more of his backstory (and role in the future storyline) than you do, but I can't help feeling that he's a very, very wicked person.

    Shiver.

    Anyway, as you've probably worked out by now, this story is a mixture of humour and drama, which is something I'm still in the process of refining. I'm trying to get out of pure comedy, which has consumed most of my writing for the last year.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarknessInZero View Post
    This is signature material. May I?
    Sure. You could even vote for it as 'best quote' at the Fanfiction Awards, if you wanted. Or vote for anything I've written at all. Y'know. If you wanted to. It's not as if I'm trying to influence the voters or anything.

    New chapter, coming up - and in that, Iago pulls a small and very silly con while Ashley and Pearl encounter a doorman. Intrigued? You should be!

    F.A.B.

  19. #19
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    Chapter Five: In Which the Gardening Society Get Their Comeuppance

    'The threat of raptor attack has decreased in recent years, but is nevertheless still present. In Dane Valley in particular, one should always be careful, especially in the spring, when the males attempt to attract mates by making as many kills as possible. Also in the early summer, when the females celebrate the hatching of their eggs by making as many kills as possible. And in autumn, when the newly-matured young try to earn the respect of the flock by making as many kills as possible. And also in winter, when the weaker raptors try and stave off starvation by making as many kills as possible.'
    —Bobby Muldoon, The Sinnish Countryside


    “Oh. I see. Yes ma'am. Yes. Of course.”

    Liza slid her phone shut and turned to Tristan.

    “They already left the city,” she said grimly. “They took the bus.”

    “Seriously?” Tristan took a step back, stunned. “Wow. That's dedication.”

    “So I gather.” Liza sighed. “Get in the car, we're going to Floaroma.”

    “What? Why Floaroma?”

    “Because Commander Mars says so.”

    This was reason enough for Tristan, and he got into the taxi without further complaint. As they drove off, he did attempt to inquire what measures were being taken to stop the trio of investigators that had discovered far too much about them for one day's work – but this was met with the curt reply that he would 'see'.

    Something was definitely up, Tristan decided – but what exactly it was remained, as Liza had said, to be seen.

    ---

    Ashley was walking back through the moonlit streets, wrapped in thought. The Gardening Society had been most informative, and he had a lot to ponder. If he had not had so much to ponder – if he had not been working on a puzzle in the middle of his brain – he might have noticed how quiet the city was, or that he was the only person walking down this street.

    Regrettably, this was the sort of thing that would have been very beneficial to notice before the old ladies emerged from the shadows.

    There were eight of them, and they materialised from doorways, alleys, the crevices behind lampposts; each of them wore the silver trowel pin that marked them out as a member of the Gardening Society, and each brandished a different garden implement in a way that made it clear that they intended to use them for something other than the manufacturer attended.

    “Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar evidently thought herself insulted,” observed Ashley. He didn't seem to be unduly concerned, despite the fact that was surrounded by a ring of vicious pensioners.

    “It's not that,” said Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar, who was heading the delegation. “Ordinarily, yes, we would sell information about Eterna's underworld. But these people are different. There are some powerful people involved. People who do not wish to have their interests threatened. And so we've got no choice but to make you disappear.”

    Ashley raised an eyebrow.

    “Really. You don't think people might have tried to have me killed before?”

    “They probably have,” replied Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar. “But I don't see any way out of this situation for you.”

    Ashley turned slowly on the spot, taking in each old lady in turn. He saw shears, secateurs, pitchforks, even a small lawnmower. He considered briefly the possible effects of being mown to death, and concluded it would be very, very unpleasant.

    “This does look bad,” he admitted. “But there wouldn't be any fun in solving the problem if it was easy, would there?”

    “Kill him,” ordered Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar, and the Gardening Society members advanced.

    ---

    “Good morning, Sinnoh, and let me just say, it looks like today's going to be a scorcher. The weekend looks set to be perfect...”

    I groaned, reached out and thumped – but my fist didn't connect with anything, which was weird because I’d hit the snooze button on the radio alarm clock so many times over the past year that I never missed.

    “A quick round-up of the top news stories: the investigation into the explosion at Dürer Station is ongoing; raptor attacks in Dane Valley and the Wolds are at their highest since 1998; and Prime Minister Lionel Walsh has today set himself at odds with the President by opposing the proposed military operation in the Middle East...”

    “Shut up,” I moaned. “I can't absorb news right now...” I lashed out again, and this time hit something that swore and punched me. Thankfully, whatever it was had all the strength of an anaemic Magikarp, and didn't do much other than surprise me.

    Now I opened my eyes, and remembered that I wasn't in my apartment. I was in bed in a hotel room in Eterna, and in trying to hit the alarm clock I’d thumped Iago on the head.

    “What the hell?” he cried, sitting up. “Jonas, I told you, I’ll have your money by—” He stopped abruptly. “Oh. Morning.”

    “Good morning.” I blinked and registered the fact that he was quite a long way away – in the other bed, in fact. “Wow. I didn't know my arms were that long.”

    “Neither did I.” Iago rubbed his shoulder. “You humans. Long-limbed and brutish.”

    “Shut up.”

    “...and here's Tiffany with the weather,” the radio said. I got it firmly in my sights, held it still with one hand in case it made a break for it and put it out of action with a well-placed fist.

    “That's better,” remarked Iago. “The stupid thing was almost as bad as you.”

    I turned to look at him.

    “Are you going back to sleep?” I asked.

    “Definitely,” he replied, and we were both just about asleep again when Ashley burst into the room.

    “We have to leave Eterna,” he said, gasping for breath. “Come on! Get up, the pair of you!”

    “Oh, what? How the hell did you find us?” I groaned, sitting up.

    “I'm a detective, how do you think? Come on! We're leaving the city right now!” Ashley grabbed hold of both bedspreads and whisked them away from us. “Both of you, get up!”

    “I'm up, I’m up,” Iago grumbled. “Jesus. Why do you never just shake my shoulder? It's always about the duvet-whisking with you.”

    “We're in a hurry,” Ashley said, and I noticed now that there was a nasty-looking cut above his right eye. “Or rather, I am in a hurry, and you ought to be in a hurry if you don't want to be brought down with me.”

    “What happened?” I asked, getting up and looking around for my shoes before realising I was still wearing them. “How'd your investigation go?”

    “I'd rather not talk about it,” replied Ashley stiffly. “But please! We must go. Now!”

    “All right, I’m coming.” Iago dropped lightly from bed to floor, staggered for a moment and clutched at his head. “Ouch. Did you get in someone's way again?”

    “There's no time to talk now. I’ll tell you when we're safe.”

    That sounded ominous, and Iago and I sped up our preparations accordingly. Thirty minutes later, we were aboard a train and heading west to Floaroma.

    ---

    “Right,” said Ashley, peering out of the window. “I think we might be safe now.”

    “What the hell is going on?” I asked him.

    “I went asking about Galactic in the Eterna under—”

    “Galactic? What's that?”

    “The name of the organisation that want us dead,” Iago replied. “We didn't tell you because... yeah, we didn't tell you.”

    I resisted the urge to punch both him and Ashley, sighed, and said:

    “OK. Carry on.”

    “I went asking about Galactic in the Eterna underworld, and though I got some information, I also made some enemies.” Ashley indicated the cut on his forehead. “I made the mistake of treating Eterna criminals like Jubilife criminals. My reputation doesn't strike so much fear into people here.”

    Despite myself, I smiled.

    “You made a mistake,” I pointed out happily.

    Ashley glared at me.

    “I'm only human,” he replied irritably. “I'm allowed to do that.”

    “Was it the Gardening Society?” asked Iago. Ashley nodded. “Yeah, those old ptitsas are crazy.”

    I wondered what connection a Gardening Society could possibly have to the underworld, decided that the reasons my imagination constructed would always outclass the reality, and just asked:

    “OK, so what did you find out?”

    “People calling themselves Galactic turned up about a month ago,” Ashley said. “No one knows where they came from or who they're working for. They came into conflict with Eterna's main criminal syndicate, the Gardening Society” – I suppressed a giggle; the idea of a gang of gardening crooks was just too stupid – “but they got over it quickly, since they actually didn't seem to interfere with anything that the Society does. Apart from that, all I found out was that recently, Galactic has been sending people east to Floaroma.”

    “Why?”

    “I don't know yet. That's why we're fleeing to Floaroma and not back to Jubilife; we need to find out what they were doing.”

    “OK.”

    There was now a silence.

    “Have you nothing else to offer?” asked Ashley. “At this point, Iago usually offers a scintillating insight.”

    I looked at Iago, who shrugged.

    “Hey, you're playing the part of the sidekick here,” he said. “For once, I don't have to think; I’m just tagging along for protection from Galactic.”

    “OK,” I said. “Er... Galactic want to steal flowers?”

    Ashley gave me a long look.

    “Honey?” I hazarded.

    The look continued, and I was officially stymied. I’d named Floaroma's only two products, and now couldn't think of anything else.

    “What's the only significant thing near Floaroma Town?” Iago asked.

    “The big meadow?”

    “No, you damn nazz,” he snapped, “it's the Valley Windworks.”

    “Oh yeah,” I said. “That. I forgot about that.”

    “Now that you've remembered,” Ashley said dryly, “perhaps you'd like to apply your keen mind to the question of what Galactic might want there.”

    “Do you already know the answer?”

    “A process of deduction might have led me to a reasonable conclusion.”

    “That's a 'yes',” clarified Iago.

    “OK.” I sat back and thought hard: this was my chance to impress them with my skills as a detective. There was no reason why I couldn't do it; I’d been clever enough to get into the University of Jubilife, hadn't I? Besides, if I couldn't solve this one, I’d have to resign myself to being Ashley and Iago's idiot friend, which wasn't exactly what I’d had in mind when I followed them to Eterna.

    “Some time today would be nice,” Iago said.

    “I'm thinking,” I snapped.

    What did I know about the Valley Windworks? It hardly ever showed up on the news, and it wasn't something I’d ever gone out of my way to research. I knew that they supplied Western Sinnoh with a large amount of its electricity, the way Sunyshore Electrics supplied the east; I knew that they used wind power, and I knew that the whole plant was almost entirely automatic from half a documentary I’d once been drunk enough to watch (though thankfully also drunk enough to almost completely forget).

    “High-end windmill controlling technology?” I guessed.

    Ashley looked surprised.

    “I didn't expect that of you,” he said.

    “Thanks,” I replied, sitting up straight in self-satisfaction.

    “But you're wrong,” he went on.

    “Oh,” I said, and slumped again. “What do they actually want?”

    “I'm not sure,” he told me. “But your thoughts might shed some light on what they do want.”

    “Why did you say you knew?” I demanded to know.

    “If you were listening, he never actually said that,” Iago said. “He only implied. It's called a test, and, exceeding all expectations, you came up with something half decent.” He sounded sour. “Can I pay you Monday?”

    “No. By the end of tomorrow,” Ashley replied.

    “Were you betting on how intelligent I was?” I asked suspiciously.

    “We might have been,” admitted Iago.

    “I thought you thought I wasn't very clever?”

    “And I still do,” said Ashley soothingly. “Don't worry about that. It's just that I thought you might posses some rudimentary deductive skills. And it seems you do, so Iago owes me seven hundred dollars.”

    “That's not that much.”

    “It is if you're broke. Which I am, because I’m unemployable.”

    That cast a gloomy tone over everything, and we lapsed back into silence until Stephanie called me again, and I had to defend myself against the combined might of her angry worries and worried anger. She called me childish, selfish and moronic, after which I suggested that she could always write my essay for me. After that, she hung up, and I wondered whether I ought to apologise.

    Some time later, we arrived, tired and hungry, in Floaroma's lone train station, which was about as busy as a graveyard at midnight. I think we were the only people who got off or on, and we were three of approximately seven people who were actually in the station, including railway staff.

    “I feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere,” I complained as we stepped out onto the street.

    “We are in the middle of nowhere,” replied Iago. “Which means... hey, I’ll see you guys later.”

    “Where are you going?” I asked.

    “Gonna scam some hicks,” he called from halfway down the road. “I'll find you two later.”

    With that, he vanished around the corner, and I turned to Ashley.

    “So,” I said brightly. “Shall we get some breakfast?”

    He looked startled, as if this word was entirely unfamiliar to him, and he suspected it might be a weapon of some kind.

    “Breakfast?”

    “Yeah. The first meal of the day, usually had before eleven o'clock so as to avoid confusion with brunch, elevenses, the mid-morning snack and, last but certainly not least, lunch.”

    “Oh. Are you hungry?”

    I decided that this was probably the reason Ashley was so thin and so small, and said that yes, I was hungry, as were all sensible people at ten in the morning when they hadn't had breakfast.

    “Fine,” Ashley said. “You go and have breakfast, and I—”

    “Nope,” I said cheerfully. “I came with you to be part of the investigation, and since I know for a fact that you didn't eat anything for lunch or dinner yesterday, I insist you come with me.”

    “Food is uninteresting—”

    “There are a lot of women who'd kill to be able to feel that way,” I observed, then grabbed his arm firmly and guided him down the flower-lined street. He seemed fairly resigned – he must have already worked out that I was much stronger than him – and so I steered him into the Cherrim Café without difficulty. As soon as I’d entered, I backed out again, for it smelled more like flowers than the street outside, and the girl behind the counter was wearing a hat shaped like a giant rose.

    Eventually, I found a café that wasn't hideously weird, sat Ashley down and finally got to eat something. He barely touched his food, and eventually I had to admit defeat: I could lead Ashley to breakfast, but I couldn't make him eat. I said as much to him, and it turned out to be witty enough to make him smile, which restored any self-confidence I’d lost when he'd told me I was wrong on the train.

    “Can we leave now?” asked Ashley, as soon as I was done. I said yes, paid, and left with him.

    “Where are we going now?” I inquired.

    “To the Valley Windworks,” he replied. “We'll see if we can't find out what Galactic wants there.”

    “What if they're already there?” I asked, concerned. “I mean, if I were them, I wouldn't want to lie low in Floaroma any longer than necessary. It's... weird.”

    “If they're already there,” Ashley said, “we'll spy on them.”

    “Is that safe?”

    “I've done it before. As long as you do what I tell you, it will be fine.”

    “Oh. How reassuring.”

    It was a half-hour walk down the riverside path to get to Dane Valley. Thankfully, the flowers that were omnipresent in Floaroma didn't seem to have penetrated too far into the surrounding countryside, so after about five minutes everything stopped smelling like an explosion at a horticultural show and started smelling more like fields.

    The motorway was just a mile or two to the south, running parallel to the river and the trail, but you'd never have guessed; I felt like I was wandering through some untouched paradise in a far-flung corner of the globe, which inspired in me a good mood that was only a little spoiled by the fact that there appeared to be no mobile phone coverage here.

    After a while, the ground sloped downwards, the river swerved away to the north, and the wind picked up; a sigh at forty-five degrees to the field it stood in told us we were entering Dane Valley, the windiest place in Sinnoh and consequently the home of the Valley Windworks. I could see it below us, a forest of white turbines, rotating as if in slow motion – and at the heart of the cluster, a long, low grey building.

    But there wasn't really much time to look at the wild beauty of the valley. The sky demanded my attention, and since it was full of raptors I was going to give in.

    Dane Valley, for whatever reason, had the highest population of Staraptor in Sinnoh. There had been a breeding colony here for longer than there had been records of their existence; one flock seemed to live there permanently, and hundreds more flew in each spring to find mates.

    Because of this, there was very little animal life left in Dane Valley.

    If the name didn’t give it away, Staraptor were one of the biggest dangers in Sinnoh. Fond of blood, high winds and blood – in that order – raptors were a lot like men, in that they, as far as behavioural researchers could work out, bragged a lot to each other about how powerful they were. Unlike men, however, raptors always capitalised on opportunities to prove it, and since this involved diving out of the sky and killing anything that moved, they were treated with a certain amount of caution.

    “Ashley,” I said, staring at the mass of wheeling birds in the sky. “Why the hell did they build anything here?”

    “Because it's perfect for a wind farm,” Ashley replied, following my gaze. “But don't trouble yourself about the Staraptor. There's a covered tunnel.” He pointed, and I saw that there was: the road that wound down to the Windworks vanished into a hole that I hadn't spotted before, because it was covered in grass. This was presumably so that Staraptor couldn't see the people walking through the tunnel, and therefore didn't beat themselves to death by falling on them.

    “Oh,” I said. I actually felt disappointed. I’d thought that this would be the first bit of real action that we'd encounter on our journey: a frantic dash down the slope of the valley, a big stick in one hand and a pistol in the other, risking certain death to evade the deadly raptors diving all around us...

    “Pearl?” called Ashley, from the tunnel mouth. “Are you coming?”

    “Oh. Uh, yeah!” I replied, and ran to catch up.

    Curse you, reality, I thought as I went. Why aren't you a detective film?

    ---

    “Good morning,” said Iago cheerily. “My name is Lyle Langley, and I represent a charity—”

    At this word, the door was almost shut in his face, but Iago knew how to get someone's attention.

    “—that aims to put a torpedo in every classroom in the country by this time next year,” he finished.

    The man opened the door again.

    “What?”

    “A torpedo in every classroom,” Iago repeated. “Did you know that 99% of Sinnish students don't have ready access to a torpedo?”

    “Why on earth would you want to give students torpedoes?” asked the man.

    Iago grinned mentally. He'd taken the bait.

    “The question is, why is our education system depriving our children of full learning opportunities?” he returned. “In the UK, every child in full-time state education has access to all the necessary learning apparatus – torpedoes, railguns, monorails—”

    “Monorails?”

    “We're building up to that,” Iago told him. “We thought we'd start small.”

    “And torpedoes are small?” The man was getting quite worked up now, Iago noted with satisfaction. Things were going well.

    “If you compare them to monorails, then yes. Statistics show that high-speed single-track train networks are less expensive than torpedoes.”

    “I could have told you that.”

    “Then do you want to get involved?” asked Iago triumphantly. “We could use men like you, Mister...”

    “Bennet.”

    “Mister Bennet, you've got exactly the sort of perspicacity and forward-thinking nature that we need at Torpedoes 4 Kidz. You could easily reach the higher echelons of our organisation.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I'm talking about cold, hard cash,” Iago said. “I'm talking about torpedoes, railguns, monorails – and a child's happiness. Can you put a price on a child's smile?”

    “Well, I—”

    “Can you?”

    “I—”

    Can you?”

    “I don't know—”

    “All right then, how about you just donate,” Iago said, holding out his tin. “Whatever you can, that'd be great.”

    The man stared at him for a long moment.

    “Please get off my property,” he said at last, and slammed the door.

    Iago turned away and strolled down the drive, snickering.

    “Humans,” he said contemptuously. “So easy to confuse.”

    He held up the watch he'd taken from the man's wrist during the confusion, examined it for a moment, and put it with the others.

    “Right,” said Iago, rubbing his hands. “On to the next neighbourhood...”

    ---

    Tristan was standing guard.

    Now, Tristan did not appreciate this. For one thing, he suffered from hayfever, and standing outside anywhere within a fifteen-mile radius of Floaroma Town guaranteed that a hayfever sufferer would more or less melt into one fluid mess of bodily secretions. Consequently, his eyes and nose were streaming, and as he stood on the steel-roofed veranda of the Windworks, he wondered if it wouldn't just be better to give up and commit suicide by throwing himself to the raptors.

    Just as he had this thought, however, things started to look up.

    For Ashley Lacrimére and Pearl Gideon were walking out of the covered tunnel, and heading straight for him.

    “Halt!” cried Tristan, as they got to the veranda. He let them get that far at least, because he had no wish to watch two people being brutally killed by giant hawks right in front of him. “Stay there! I’ve got... a really big frog, and I’m not afraid to use it!”

    “Gurrrp,” croaked his Croagunk, hopping out from behind him.

    Ashley and Pearl regarded the Croagunk without fear.

    “That's... probably not going to stop us,” said Pearl.

    “No,” agreed Ashley. “I mean, I have a gun.”

    He did indeed, and as he produced it from his inside breast pocket, Tristan appreciated that the tables seemed to have turned.

    “Ah,” he said. “Well – it's only a little gun.”

    Ashley had a look at it, as if he hadn't seen it before.

    “Yes,” he agreed. “But I think that if I shot you with it, you would still get hurt.”

    “You have a gun?” asked Pearl. She didn't seem to be keeping up.

    “Yes,” said Ashley patiently, keeping the gun trained on Tristan. “Because frequently I end up in dangerous situations, and a gun is quite necessary.”

    While he spoke, Tristan's mind was racing; what could he do, what could he do...

    “Look out!” he cried, an expression of horror crossing his face. “A Staraptor!”

    So deeply was the fear of raptors ingrained into the Sinnish consciousness that both Ashley and Pearl looked; seizing his opportunity, Tristan grabbed his Croagunk, ran inside the Windworks and locked the door, feeling smug.

    “There,” he said. “That's stopped you.”

    And, wrapped in the warm glow of self-satisfaction, Tristan leaned against the door and resumed his guarding duties from the other side.

    ---

    Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar rose slowly to her feet, rubbing her head.

    “What – what happened?” she wondered aloud.

    It was close to dawn – faint bands of colour were appearing in the east – and she and her Gardening Society hit squad appeared to still be on the street.

    The rest of them begun to rise, groaning and mumbling, and Periwinkle-Bazaar organised a swift retreat to the garden supplies shop, where they discussed how the hell they had come to be unconscious after charging at one unarmed young man with garden implements.

    There was, they decided, no explanation that came to mind. However, they could be certain of one thing: Ashley Lacrimére lived up to his reputation.
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 2nd January 2012 at 8:56 PM.

  20. #20
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    Edit: Is it even plausible? That I'm first again? Well, I'll be humble about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    I think we've now taken this as far as it can possibly go.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    That's exactly who he is. A lot of the quoted people are references or puns.
    Yes! I finally got one of the references on my first try.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Hm. I actually can't stand Iago. He's much, much nastier than Puck; with Puck, you always have the feeling that he's sort of a nice guy deep down - but Iago... Well, perhaps it's just me knowing more of his backstory (and role in the future storyline) than you do, but I can't help feeling that he's a very, very wicked person.

    Shiver.
    Yes, I do agree that he is a lot worse then Puck, somehow I find him pretty awesome so far. But as you said, we haven't seen anything yet.

    Moving on to the review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post

    “They already left the city,” she said grimly. “They took the bus.”

    “Seriously?” Tristan took a step back, stunned. “Wow. That's dedication.”
    If the antagonists of the story are stunned they took the bus, then it must be bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Regrettably, this was the sort of thing that would have been very beneficial to notice before the old ladies emerged from the shadows.
    And I thought that we had seen the last of them, guess I was wrong.

    My main question-which probably won't be answered-is: how do these old women get into a crime syndicate in the first place?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Kill him,” ordered Mrs Periwinkle-Bazaar, and the Gardening Society members advanced.
    Can I even trust my own grandmother after reading this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “A quick round-up of the top news stories: the investigation into the explosion at Dürer Station is ongoing; raptor attacks in Dane Valley and the Wolds are at their highest since 1998; and Prime Minister Lionel Walsh has today set himself at odds with the President by opposing the proposed military operation in the Middle East...”
    Well it looks like the Sinnoh is at least a little more internationaly involved then a slightly less politicaly functional Hoenn. In my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Are you going back to sleep?” I asked.

    “Definitely,” he replied, and we were both just about asleep again when Ashley burst into the room.

    “We have to leave Eterna,” he said, gasping for breath. “Come on! Get up, the pair of you!”
    There is nothing ruder then waking interupting someone's sleep. Okay, maybe shooting someone in the leg IS slightly more rude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post

    “What happened?” I asked, getting up and looking around for my shoes before realising I was still wearing them. “How'd your investigation go?”

    “I'd rather not talk about it,” replied Ashley stiffly. “But please! We must go. Now!”
    I have the feeling that we haven't seen the last of The Gardening Soceity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post

    “Was it the Gardening Society?” asked Iago. Ashley nodded. “Yeah, those old ptitsas are crazy.”
    Crazy is not the word I'd use to describe a group of people like that.
    But my words might not be publishable, so crazy works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    I wondered what connection a Gardening Society could possibly have to the underworld, decided that the reasons my imagination constructed would always outclass the reality, and just asked:

    “OK, so what did you find out?”
    Pearl has much to learn about the Sinnish underworld if she's going to stay alive with Ashley. Much to learn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Have you nothing else to offer?” asked Ashley. “At this point, Iago usually offers a scintillating insight.”
    Just replace "Iago" with "Knightfall" and "scintillating insight" with "inane hypothesis about what's going to happen next in the fic".

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Were you betting on how intelligent I was?” I asked suspiciously.

    “We might have been,” admitted Iago.

    “I thought you thought I wasn't very clever?”

    “And I still do,” said Ashley soothingly. “Don't worry about that. It's just that I thought you might posses some rudimentary deductive skills. And it seems you do, so Iago owes me seven hundred dollars.”
    Oh, that's low. I like it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post

    “Where are you going?” I asked.

    “Gonna scam some hicks,” he called from halfway down the road. “I'll find you two later.”

    With that, he vanished around the corner, and I turned to Ashley.
    Well...at least he's open about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Dane Valley, for whatever reason, had the highest population of Staraptor in Sinnoh. There had been a breeding colony here for longer than there had been records of their existence; one flock seemed to live there permanently, and hundreds more flew in each spring to find mates.

    Because of this, there was very little animal life left in Dane Valley.
    Ahh, Staraptor. My old friend from when I first played Pearl Version.
    Much more violent then I ever imagined.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Oh,” I said. I actually felt disappointed. I’d thought that this would be the first bit of real action that we'd encounter on our journey: a frantic dash down the slope of the valley, a big stick in one hand and a pistol in the other, risking certain death to evade the deadly raptors diving all around us...
    Awww, I was looking forward to reading that as soon as I read the quote at the beginning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Curse you, reality, I thought as I went. Why aren't you a detective film?
    I ask that question every day in my fourth period Biology class.
    My teacher says that I need to pay attention more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Good morning,” said Iago cheerily. “My name is Lyle Langley, and I represent a charity—”

    At this word, the door was almost shut in his face, but Iago knew how to get someone's attention.

    “—that aims to put a torpedo in every classroom in the country by this time next year,” he finished.
    Finally! A charity that I can support without guilt. Where do I sign up?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “A torpedo in every classroom,” Iago repeated. “Did you know that 99% of Sinnish students don't have ready access to a torpedo?”
    I am part of those depraved 99% of students around the world without ready access to a torpedo. Won't you help give us the education we need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “Why on earth would you want to give students torpedoes?” asked the man.
    I can think of seven reasons not too, but seven thousand reasons for why they should.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    “All right then, how about you just donate,” Iago said, holding out his tin. “Whatever you can, that'd be great.”

    The man stared at him for a long moment.

    “Please get off my property,” he said at last, and slammed the door.
    Some people are just cold...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Iago turned away and strolled down the drive, snickering.

    “Humans,” he said contemptuously. “So easy to confuse.”

    He held up the watch he'd taken from the man's wrist during the confusion, examined it for a moment, and put it with the others.

    “Right,” said Iago, rubbing his hands. “On to the next neighbourhood...”
    But some Pokemon are colder still.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    The rest of them begun to rise, groaning and mumbling, and Periwinkle-Bazaar organised a swift retreat to the garden supplies shop, where they discussed how the hell they had come to be unconscious after charging at one unarmed young man with garden implements.

    There was, they decided, no explanation that came to mind. However, they could be certain of one thing: Ashley Lacrimére lived up to his reputation.
    Reafirms my idea that we haven't seen the last of The Gardening Soceity.

    Ashley sounds he's good enough to have been trained by Devon, just a thought.

    Great chapter, we're finally getting to some action.
    And I have noticed that aside from Iago (who doesn't have any powers) no one in the group has any Pokemon that we have seen.

    'Til the next time,

    Knightfall signing off...
    Last edited by Knightfall; 3rd January 2012 at 12:28 AM. Reason: First once more.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Yes! I finally got one of the references on my first try.
    It's a good thing that you don't get them often; they're not meant to distract you from the story, just to be a little something extra for those who notice them.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Yes, I do agree that he is a lot worse then Puck, somehow I find him pretty awesome so far. But as you said, we haven't seen anything yet.
    I know. He's irresistibly charming, isn't he? I'm the only one who knows enough about him to condemn him out of hand, I think. Also, there's only room for one lovable rogue in my life, and that's currently Puck.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    My main question-which probably won't be answered-is: how do these old women get into a crime syndicate in the first place?
    This is an excellent question, and one that will never be answered.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Well it looks like the Sinnoh is at least a little more internationaly involved then a slightly less politicaly functional Hoenn. In my opinion.
    Yes, there's a trend. Hoenn is worse than Sinnoh, which in turn is worse than Unova (or it will be).

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    Crazy is not the word I'd use to describe a group of people like that.
    But my words might not be publishable, so crazy works.
    Ptitsa wouldn't be my first choice of word either.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    I am part of those depraved 99% of students around the world without ready access to a torpedo. Won't you help give us the education we need? Ashley sounds he's good enough to have been trained by Devon, just a thought. And I have noticed that aside from Iago (who doesn't have any powers) no one in the group has any Pokemon that we have seen.
    How deprived you are. I guess we all need a torpedo. As for Ashley, well; he has his reasons. All will become clear in time. And you're right that there are no Pokémon within the group... that we have seen.

    Time to get a new chapter, methinks!

    F.A.B.

  22. #22
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    Chapter Six: In Which We Come to an Impasse

    'When you next turn on your lights, spare a thought for where the power's coming from. We work tirelessly, day and night, under the constant threat of raptor attack, just to safeguard your electrical supply. Think bravery. Think Western Electric.'

    —Advertisement for Sinnoh Western Electric



    I stared at the spot where Tristan had been for a moment, and then rounded on Ashley.

    “You call that spying, do you?” I asked. “Now everyone in there's going to know we're here!”

    Ashley shrugged.

    “It can't be helped,” he said. “There was no way of evading him. The tunnel entrance is there, and the Windworks are here.” He pointed, to show me exactly where the tunnel and the Windworks were.

    “I'm not blind,” I replied irritably. “But he's going to tell all the other Galactic people we're here, and—”

    “I sincerely doubt that,” said Ashley. “Come with me. Quietly.”

    We crept across the covered veranda, past the door and up to a window; Ashley pointed within, and sure enough, there was Tristan, staring intently at the front door as if it might leap forwards and attack him.

    “He... what?”

    “He's not very clever,” explained Ashley. “And he was told to stand guard. So he's doing so – from the inside now, because we're on the outside.”

    “He's an idiot,” I clarified.

    “More or less.” Ashley began to walk around the edge of the Windworks.

    “Where are you going?” I asked.

    Ashley looked at me as if I were as stupid as Tristan.

    “Pearl,” he said, “I'm going to spy on Galactic. I did already point this out to you.”

    “Oh. Yeah.”

    All right, maybe I was as stupid as Tristan, if I hadn't got that. Smarting, I followed Ashley around the side of the building, along the wide veranda that was built along its walls; presumably, it was here to protect people from the Staraptor that wheeled and screeched above. Every time we passed a window, Ashley would stop, inspect it and the room beyond – but every time, he'd shake his head and move on to the next one.

    “What exactly are you looking for?” I asked him.

    “A way in that won't make too much noise,” Ashley said. “I have no idea where Galactic's people are in the building, and—”

    “Get down!” I hissed, and pushed him over; a moment later, a man in the inexpressibly weird uniform of Galactic walked past the window.

    “Ow,” said Ashley calmly. “Could you please warn me before you do that in future?” He got back up slowly. “They were at the window?”

    “Yeah.”

    He nodded, as if this were very meaningful, and continued to the next window. This one apparently met with his approval, for he bent down and had a look at the catch.

    “Hm. Easy.”

    Ashley pulled something that I vaguely recognised as a lockpick from his pocket, poked around with it beneath the lower edge of the window and put it away again.

    “What's the matter?” I asked. “Not as easy as you thought?”

    “No,” replied Ashley, opening the window. “I just unlocked it.”

    So saying, he climbed up and swung himself in. Then he turned, leaned on the windowsill, and fixed me with his serious eyes.

    “Now Pearl,” he said. “We are about to spy on a dangerous criminal syndicate who want us dead. If you want to come in with me – and I would be perfectly happy to find that you did not – you must be absolutely silent, and you must do everything that I tell you to. Is that understood?”

    This was it. This was where reality would finally do the decent thing and turn into a movie. I tried very hard to keep the glee out of my voice when I replied.

    “Yeah,” I said, nodding vigorously. “I get it. Silent and obedient.”

    “Good,” replied Ashley, stepping back from the window. “Now get in here.”

    The room the window opened onto was, like most of the rooms in the Windworks, full of pieces of abstruse machinery and computers that waited in silence until they calculated the perfect moment to beep. Some of them even had a little green light on. Yes, I thought, this was more like what I'd imagined. High-end windmill controlling technology.

    We crept through this room and Ashley pressed one ear to the door; he then signalled that he heard nothing, and opened it onto a brightly-lit linoleum corridor. I say it was a linoleum corridor because not only was the floor covered in the stuff, but also the walls, and the ceiling.

    “That's weird,” I said, looking around. “Very weird.”

    Ashley gave me a look of intense frustration.

    “Oh yeah,” I whispered. “Silence. Sorry.”

    He slipped down the corridor, investigated a left turning and then beckoned me to join him. I followed, looked around the corner and saw a woman standing guard, wearing the stupid Galactic spacesuit and looking like she knew she was a walking fashion disaster.

    “She's about the same height as you,” murmured Ashley, almost noiselessly, as we retreated back around the corner to confer.

    I stared at him.

    “You mean...?”

    “Of course I mean that,” he snapped. He was still murmuring, but he snapped at the same time – it was a neat trick.

    “Are you...?”

    “No,” he said. “I'm not. Unless there are any child members of Galactic, we'd be very lucky to find one that fits me.” He had another look around the corner. “Besides,” he added, “the uniform looks stupid.”

    I let that one slide.

    “How do we do this?” I asked.

    “You will subdue her, and then steal her uniform.”

    “Subdue her?”

    “Fine. Hit her,” amended Ashley.

    “I'm not hitting her!”

    “If I hit her, there is an eighty per cent chance she won't even feel it.”

    “Is that a real statistic?”

    “Quite possibly. Now go and hit her. You did,” he reminded me, “promise to do everything I asked.”

    I sighed, for which I received an admonishing look, and stepped around the corner. I crept up behind the Galactic woman, hoped that her skull wasn't as hard as it looked, and whacked her over the head.

    Cal, what was tha—?”

    Oops. It seemed I hadn't hit hard enough.

    I took a step back, shaking my sore hand and wondering what to do; the Galactic woman turned around and shoved a gun in my face. This showed pretty commendable presence of mind for someone who'd just been hit on the head, but I wasn't really in any mood to appreciate that.

    “Who the hell are you?” she demanded to know. “And why did you just hit me?”

    “Um – er—”

    “Wait. You're Pearl Gideon!” cried the Galactic goon.

    Oh, great. I'd forgotten about that 'kill on sight' order.

    “Please don't shoot me,” I managed to say.

    “I'm not going to,” replied the woman.

    “That's good to know.”

    “At least, not yet.”

    That was less encouraging.

    “I am going,” continued the woman, “to take you to Commander Mars.”

    “Who?”

    I didn't receive an answer; the woman just grabbed my arm, spun me around and stuck the barrel of the gun into the back of my head.

    “Walk,” she ordered, and, as I wanted to remain outside my brains if at all possible, I obeyed.

    Though I did curse Ashley very mightily as we walked past the spot where he'd once been.

    ---

    Iago now had seventeen watches, one from every residential neighbourhood in Floaroma. His route had been worked out carefully beforehand: he never went twice down the same street, so that at no point would he run the risk of any of his marks spotting him. (Provided, of course, that they behaved like good little idiots and stayed at home to call the police – or failed to notice the missing watches at all. Either way was fine by Iago.)

    Now, not daring to collect any more for fear of being recognised, he stopped in a park and hid in a bush, to give himself some time to run through his vast memory and locate the name and address of a suitable fence to sell the watches on to. Iago knew a great many fences, and the search took him a full ten minutes; eventually, he decided on a local crook with whom he'd had dealings in the past: namely, one Jake the Shaker. This was not an epithet that denoted cowardice, as one might expect, but one that instead made reference to the man's endearing habit of literally shaking his enemies to death.

    Iago had witnessed it once. It was not a pretty sight.

    But, whatever misgivings he might have regarding Mr Shaker, he was the only fence in Floaroma, and so he went in search of him.

    ---

    “Are you going to kill me?” I asked.

    “If you keep asking, then definitely,” snapped the Galactic woman. “Jesus, don't you ever shut up?”

    We'd been walking for a while now, through what seemed like miles and miles of identical linoleum corridors; I'd got hopelessly lost a while ago, and sincerely hoped that Ashley hadn't, because I couldn't really think of anyone else who might pop up and rescue me before the Windworks got redecorated with the contents of my head.

    “I'll shut up if you promise not to kill me,” I suggested.

    “How about you shut up, and I don't kill you right now?” asked the woman, jabbing me firmly in the back of the head with her gun.

    On further reflection, I thought it best if I stopped talking.

    Soon, we came to a set of sturdy doors, guarded by two more Galactics, who, like the one who'd taken me prisoner, seemed to know who I was. To my surprise, I recognised one of them as well.

    “Liza,” I said. “Hello.”

    My captor paused.

    “Liza, you know her?”

    “She attempted to kill my partner with a mushroom,” replied Liza, deadpan.

    “With a... mushroom?”

    “She very nearly succeeded,” said Liza gravely. She didn't seem surprised to see me here at all.

    “It's not really how it sounds,” I explained. “It was just this – oh, this huge crazy misunderstanding, and—”

    “Shut up,” said the woman with the gun at the back of my head. “Go through the doors.”

    I did, and entered what appeared to me to be the bridge of a spaceship. It was a great semicircular room, a single curved window running around the edge; there were computer terminals all over the place, with lights and buttons and other input devices that looked so technical that I doubted they could be named by anyone who wasn't a Star Trek nerd.

    A lone technician was working at the biggest terminal, under the direction of a severe-looking woman with red hair and the impossibly large cat that strolled around next to her. Off to their right was a man who appeared to be the offspring of Albert Einstein and a rather burly clown, with a pale face, wild hair and a bright red nose.

    I blinked, and pinched myself. Nope. They were real, and I wasn't asleep. It was just that – well, they didn't look that much like criminals, and I could have sworn that the severe woman had once taught me German in high school.

    She looked up at our arrival, stared at me for a moment, and then said:

    “Pearl Gideon?”

    “Yes, ma'am!” cried the Galactic who'd brought me here. “She was sneaking around the Windworks!”

    “So, Lacrimére shows his hand at last,” said the severe woman, steepling her fingers and looking over them in a distinctly sinister manner. “You are working for him, I presume?”

    “No!” I cried indignantly. “I'm working with him.”

    The severe woman raised her eyebrows.

    “I sincerely doubt that.” She indicated a swivel chair. “Sit down.”

    Since there was a gun and a Purugly the size of a small lion in the room, I did.

    “You may leave, Miss – whatever your name is.” She waved a hand, and the woman who'd captured me left.

    “I am one of the four commanders of Team Galactic,” she announced self-importantly. “My name is Mars.”

    “What about me?” asked the mad scientist/clown in the corner. “I, whose genius even our glorious leader recognises—!”

    “You're a consultant,” replied Mars shortly. “You are of no consequence.”
    “Sorry,” I said, “but... you aren't a German teacher, are you?”

    Mars looked surprised, and the man working at the terminal stole an odd glance at her. The Purugly took exception to this, and growled at him; he coughed and hurriedly resumed his work.

    “You are not the one asking the questions,” she snapped.

    “Sorry.”

    I judged I was about thirty seconds from being mauled by a big cat, and resolved to adjust my attitude accordingly.

    “What would you like to know?”

    “I want to know what the Diamond knows about us,” replied Mars.

    “The Diamond?”

    I didn't know anything about any Diamond. And I certainly didn't know anything about a diamond with the mental capacity to know things.

    “The Diamond, Gideon, the Diamond!” cried Mars, agitated. “Lacrimére!”

    “Ashley?”

    Why was it that everyone I met thought I was an idiot?

    The mad scientist guy stepped forwards with a low s******, which was singularly disturbing.

    “Ashley Lacrimére is known to the law enforcement agencies and criminals of the world as the Diamond,” he said condescendingly. “Haven't you Googled him? He runs a consulting detective agency, like the late Mister Holmes. The Diamond Detection Agency.”

    Maybe I was an idiot, or maybe everyone around me was an idiot – but I was certain that Sherlock Holmes was fictional, and said so.

    “She's right,” said Mars. “He is.”

    “He most certainly is not—”

    “Just – just get back in your corner!” Mars snapped, and when the strange scientist had complied, grumbling, she turned back to me. “Look, what I was trying to say was: what does Lacrimére know about us?”

    “You don't run this organisation very well, do you?” I observed, with approximately five times as much bravado as I actually felt.

    “Silence!” thundered Mars. “Answer my questions!”

    If the poor technician had been working all day under these conditions, I thought, he deserved a medal.

    “All I know is that he knows you're called Galactic,” I replied, eyeing the Purugly. “And that you're trying to kill us. And that you're based in Eterna.”

    Mars looked slightly taken aback.

    “Is that all?” she queried.

    “Yeah.” I nodded, to show that this really was all we knew, and that she had no reason to attack me with her cat. “It is.” I paused. “Can I ask a question now?”

    Mars looked at her watch.

    “I suppose,” she said. “I'm going to be here all afternoon, and there's nothing to do until we're done.”

    “So you're not going to kill me?”

    “Is that your question? Because it's rather stupid.”

    Mars fixed me with a pair of glittering eyes, and I was reminded unpleasantly that she was a high-up in a criminal organisation, and therefore probably had no qualms about murder.

    “No,” I replied nervously. “That's not it.”

    “Then...?”

    “Why are you here?”

    Mars shrugged.

    “I wouldn't worry about that, if I were you,” she said. “You'll be dead soon, and it'll be the Diamond's problem.”

    “Please?”

    If I was going to die, I might as well die in the knowledge that I'd solved a bit of the mystery.

    “We are here on the orders of our glorious leader,” replied Mars.

    “Those orders being...?”

    Mars' face darkened.

    “I seem to remember that you asked if you could ask a question, not some,” she said. “You've asked it, and got an answer. If it wasn't the answer you wanted, tough.”

    “Mars?” said the scientist.

    “Not now, Charon, I'm talking—”

    “No, really,” he said, and now I detected a certain note of urgency in his voice. Mars did too, and we exchanged a glance – then turned to look at the mad scientist.

    “Good morning,” said Ashley. “Or good afternoon, I suppose, since it seems we've passed midday.”

    “Ashley?” I cried, at the same time as Mars said:

    “Diamond?”

    He was standing there with his little revolver against Charon's head, which was surprising for two reasons: one, I was pretty sure there was only one way in here, and two, I'd never imagined he could ever be so heroic. It might have been the shock of it all, but I suddenly noticed how attractive he actually was.

    Out of the two of us, Mars recovered first.

    “You haven't chosen a very valuable hostage,” she said. “I don't care if you kill him.”

    “What? I care!” cried Charon.

    “Your so-called glorious leader might think differently,” I pointed out, feeling pleased with myself. Mars glared at me, and Ashley nodded.

    “Quite right, Pearl. You played your part admirably.”

    “I did? I mean, I did. Yes.”

    Mars looked from me to Ashley and back again.

    “What? What?”

    “The part of the helpless prisoner,” Ashley explained. “Pearl is a world-class actress, used by police forces around the world in sting operations.”

    I ground my teeth. Ashley was doing that thing again; abruptly, I forgot that I'd ever thought him handsome. On the plus side, I was still alive, so I thought I'd forgive him this once.

    “This is a set-up?” asked Mars, looking around in horror.

    “Does – does this mean I'm free to go?” asked the technician at the desk in a timid voice.

    “It certainly does,” Ashley replied. “After you've answered some questions, of course.”

    Mars glared at him.

    “I guess you win,” she said, sounding resigned. “I always knew – Jackson, hold that girl!

    And with a startling burst of speed, the big cat leaped onto my chest, tipped my chair over backwards, and pinned me to the ground with its wide paws.

    I stared at its little yellow eyes, and it bared a set of impressive fangs back at me.

    “Um... Ashley?” I said, trying hard not to sound pathetic. “Help?”

    “And now, if I'm not very much mistaken,” said Mars, drawing herself up to her full height and sounding smug, “I've just created an impasse.”

    ---

    Iago strolled down the street, feeling pleased with himself and counting his earnings. Since he was a Kadabra, he knew within half a second of looking at the notes that he'd acquired precisely fifty-one thousand dollars and seven cents – but he liked to count it anyway. It made him feel richer.

    The Pokédollar was not a particularly valuable unit of currency. There were around eighty of them to the US dollar, and so fifty-one thousand wasn't that much, really.

    But considering that Iago had withdrawn his entire savings in order to pay for the bus tickets to Eterna, it was quite a lot to him. It was enough to pay back Ashley and much more besides. In fact, since Ashley was, for all his intellect, very good at wasting the not inconsiderable income his agency generated, Iago's windfall was probably going to leave him in charge of the group's finances for a while.

    And that was the sort of responsibility that he liked.

    “There's only one thing to do at a time like this,” he told himself, “and that's—”

    “It's him! Lyle Langley!”

    Iago's airy good mood turned to lead, and plummeted several hundred feet. He turned around, and beheld a policeman, in the ear of whom the familiar figure of Mister Bennet was shouting. As he watched, the former left the latter behind, and hailed the Kadabra in a loud voice.

    “Hey, you!”

    “Damn it,” said Iago, and ran.

    ---

    “So,” I said nervously. “Is there a way out of this situation that doesn't get me killed?”

    There had been about three minutes of utter silence since Jackson the Purugly had leaped on me. No one had spoken; no one had moved. Well, Jackson had yawned and dribbled on me, but I didn't count that.

    “This is why I work alone, Pearl,” sighed Ashley. “I only have plots enough for one.”

    “I have a solution,” said Charon. “You could get that gun away from my head. It's my considered opinion as a scientist that this would end the stand-off—”

    “You're babbling,” said Mars. “Don't do that.”

    “I'm sorry.” Charon fidgeted. “It's the stress.”

    We lapsed back into silence. Jackson shifted its weight a little, and almost dislocated my shoulder; I knew Purugly were heavy, but this one seemed to weigh about sixteen tons.

    “I suppose I'm not free to go, then,” sighed the technician.

    “No. Get back to work,” Mars ordered, and he did.

    “Someone's going to have to move eventually,” said Charon anxiously. “It might as well be you, Mister Lacrimére—”

    “Do you want me to shoot you right now?” asked Ashley.

    Charon shut up.

    A few moments later, Ashley's hand moved stealthily towards his pocket.

    “Whatever you're going after, don't,” said Mars immediately, and his hand froze. “Or I'll kill the girl.” She took a step closer to him. “Now hand it over to me—”

    “Don't come any closer,” said Ashley, tightening his grip on the pistol. “Or I'll kill the scientist. Or is he a clown?”

    “I'm an eminent scientist!” protested Charon.

    “Obviously not that eminent, or I'd have heard of you,” pointed out Ashley. “Now be silent.”

    Quiet descended over the room once more.

    “Sooner or later, someone's going to come in here,” Mars warned Ashley. “Perhaps a grunt, who might shoot you. Then I could have both you and Gideon out of the way.”

    “Er, Ashley, this probably isn't the time to be proud,” I said. “I'd quite like to survive.”

    “Oh, be quiet,” he retorted crossly. “You're the one who wanted to come with me. And if you hadn't, I would have succeeded here.”

    “You are so arrogant—!”

    “You are an idiot!”

    “And I have your gun,” said Mars calmly.

    Ashley and I looked. She did, having purloined it while he was distracted.

    “Pearl, you distracted me—”

    “I think you probably ought to stop fighting amongst yourselves,” said Mars, putting the barrel of Ashley's gun squarely against his chest. “You're about to die.”

    Ashley sighed, which I thought was a bit of an underreaction for someone who was about to become dead.

    “Pearl, if I have the option of returning as a ghost, I am going to haunt you for the rest of your life.”

    “Which will be about fifteen seconds,” Mars informed him. “Since as soon as you're dead, I'll kill her.”

    And then she pulled the trigger.

  23. #23
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    I'm sorry about the lateness of this, but better late then never, right?

    I really should be working on my project, but it can wait for a few minutes.

    We seem to have reached the first real cliffhanger of the fic. A milestone if I ever saw one.

    Impasse indeed, I can feel the tension radiating from my computer screen!
    Or its could be actual radiation, and that would be much less enjoyable.

    The most inportant quote from the chapter, or something like that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
    Ashley sighed, which I thought was a bit of an underreaction for someone who was about to become dead.

    “Pearl, if I have the option of returning as a ghost, I am going to haunt you for the rest of your life.”

    “Which will be about fifteen seconds,” Mars informed him. “Since as soon as you're dead, I'll kill her.”

    And then she pulled the trigger.
    I hate cliffhangers, I mean its great when a writer uses them effectively, but I hate the suspense.

    My time has come to an end, so I must cut this review patheticly short.

    'Til next time,

    Knightfall signing off...

    P.S: I saw that the TMG2DTW was added into the completed fics section, I call that a massive triumph. Congrats.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Gateon area, Orre
    Posts
    499

    Default

    Statistics show that high-speed single-track train networks are less expensive than torpedoes.”

    “I could have told you that.”

    [/QUOTE]

    Really? because being the Goggle-Eyed RailFan that I am, I',m pretty sure that for the cost of the track you could arm a small frigate... Or maybe I'm confused...




    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    My main question-which probably won't be answered-is: how do these old women get into a crime syndicate in the first place?
    Haven't you wondered how pension-weilding little old ladies can spoil their grandkids and drive fancy cars and afford to live in Florida? news flash, that little Cuban boy isn't the gutter-cleaner, he's the customer.




    Phew. My watch is still firmly planted on my wrist.
    Last edited by Glover; 7th January 2012 at 6:05 AM.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Close by a river.
    Posts
    475

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall View Post
    I'm sorry about the lateness of this, but better late then never, right?

    I really should be working on my project, but it can wait for a few minutes.

    We seem to have reached the first real cliffhanger of the fic. A milestone if I ever saw one.

    Impasse indeed, I can feel the tension radiating from my computer screen!
    Or its could be actual radiation, and that would be much less enjoyable.

    The most inportant quote from the chapter, or something like that.


    I hate cliffhangers, I mean its great when a writer uses them effectively, but I hate the suspense.

    My time has come to an end, so I must cut this review patheticly short.

    'Til next time,

    Knightfall signing off...

    P.S: I saw that the TMG2DTW was added into the completed fics section, I call that a massive triumph. Congrats.
    Oh, sorry - I forgot to update yesterday, and so I've left you hanging. Let me rectify that.

    And it's not really a triumph that TTMG2DTW was added to the Completed Fics forum - I just requested it be moved, since further posts in that thread seem unlikely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glover View Post
    Really? because being the Goggle-Eyed RailFan that I am, I'm pretty sure that for the cost of the track you could arm a small frigate... Or maybe I'm confused...
    I believe you're probably right. However, I'm not sure Iago cares; his aim was purely to confuse.

    Oh, and I just noticed your signature. I must congratulate you: that is a superb reference. I guess you'd really better get around to clearing out those travel bags one of these days.

    New chapter, coming up.

    F.A.B.
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 7th January 2012 at 10:36 PM.

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