From: "Chet Weaver - YOUR HEAD A SPLODE!" <zeroohki@netscape.net> Subject: [PW] Mute Point, Plan A Date: Sunday, April 25, 2004 12:23 AM About as soon as Mason "Mace" Adams arrived in Team Magma's base in Fallarbor Town, he was escorted to the office of the commanding Admin. As Magma Grunt Mason took a seat, he could not help but sense a certain level of distrust and disrespect one does not usually associate with being one of their top trainers. It was if they thought of him as a rookie, which was probably understandable given his amnesia and foreign citizenship. Mason noted, after a breif and decidedly compulsory-feeling introduction, that all of Team Magma's Admins he had met so far had feminine names regardless of gender and that this one was no different. Jennifer explained that it was merely a code name and assured Mason that his real one was far more masculine and impressive. To this, Mason voiced his opinion on the rather absurd notion of giving code names to operatives with desk jobs. Jennifer defended the position by merely stating that explaining the reasoning behind the code names would likely take all day and Mason argued that he was in no hurry. Changing the subject, Jennifer passed Mason a file folder containing information on his next mission. His target was to be an average-looking young man about his age named Lute with rather unremarkable Pokemon who had done something quite remarkable. Despite being completely mute and apparently lacking psychic talent, he had found a way to train Pokemon without saying a word. Rather, he commanded his Pokemon with a red flute made of glass. Lute the mute and his flute had been making headlines recently as a public interest story about a disabled person overcoming adversity. The official story was that Lute had trained for years to overcome a disability that would've otherwise prevented him from training Pokemon, even with a translator, but the Magma brass had a differing and on the whole wildly fantastic theory. Even without the mention Mason knew that they meant the Legend Siren, an artifact so powerful it had to be disassembled and scattered across the Pokemon World. Clearly, Lute had somehow come across the Siren's Ruby Shaft, which evidently had the power to control Pokemon. Why or how this came to be was irrelevant. All that mattered getting a hold of the boy's Shaft. Jennifer found Mason's laughter at this point to be both immature and inappropriate and insisted that he get a firmer grasp of the situation. This didn't abate Mason's jocular reaction, who inquired as to what Jennifer wanted done to Lute's PokeBalls. The Admin didn't consider it an important matter, but Mason insisted that focusing solely on the Shaft would only bring them so far and that taking his 'Balls would make for a more satisfying climax. Jennifer told Mason that, whatever his obsession with another man's 'Balls was, he should handle it on his own time and not Team Magma's. The plan was, currently, to merely steal the flute, which Lute was almost never seen without. While this could be accomplished by just about any gang of thugs, the power of the Ruby Shaft had to be taken into account. Should it come to a Pokemon Battle, they would need someone like Mason, whose control over their own Pokemon would cancel out the flute's magic. It would be a long shot, but they were working on the assumption that someone had a magic flute so they didn't exactly have betting odds in the first place. Where Mason was to be the muscle, the actual stealing of the flute was to be handled by the rest of his unit whose profiles were found in other folders nearby. One was Cher Raud, an expert con artist and pick pocket who practically made a killing stealing people's wallets and then returning them for the reward money. Second was Penny Trate, an infiltration specialist who could sneak her way into anything undetected. She once attempted a string of daring break-ins that went flawlessly aside from the fact that she always wound up trapped inside what she had snuck into and once had to be rescued by the fire department. And last by not least was Cad Avers, known as The Sniper of a Thousand Faces because of his preference for headshots and his frequent cosplays at anime and video game conventions. Mason objected to use of an assassin, deeming it excessive, but Jennifer assured him that Cad would only be used as a last resort. This failed to alleviate Mason's discomfort. Meeting his team wasn't what he'd call an enlightening experience. Almost as soon as he entered the loungue, Penny greeted Mason with the professionalism and restraint of a lovesick Furret on a sugar rush. To say Penny was excitable was like saying Electrodes were suicidal. Within seconds, she had moved from a death grip of a hug to an unwarranted piggy-back ride, all the while asking Mason a bazillion questions about the Orre Region that he probably couldn't answer even if he didn't have amnesia. The bit about Shadow Pokemon caught his attention, but Penny wasn't so clear on the subject herself. It was just as well, as Mason didn't consider her to be all that bright. Mason had to wonder how she could be any good at sneaking into places, but wasn't too surprised that she couldn't sneak back out. Cher Raud assured him that Penny was far more talented than she let on and helped extricate her from his back. Penny pouted for a second before moving on to play "what does this button do?" with the sniper rifle Cad was cleaning. With an air of annoyance, the assassin silently snatched various components out of her hands as he reassembled his weapon. Cher seemed genuinely curious about Mason's amnesia, like how much he could remember and for how long. He assured her that while he had no recollection of his past prior to waking up in a Magma medlab in Hoenn he was making new ones just fine. Mason caught Cher's hand as she attempted to filch one of his PokeBalls. Cher was reportedly quite impressed with his skills of perception and handed him back his wallet. Cad Avers seemed the strong, silent type. His sole answer to Mason's various prompts was an icy glare. Before Mason could taunt him into an emotional response, the sniper shot a fly out of the air with barely a sidewise glance. Cad chambered another bullet, a challenge to even think of making a snide remark that Mason declined to answer. With introductions out of the way, the team got down to business. The first plan was simple. Penny Trate would intercept Lute when he passes through town to the ash fields on Route 113 for his usually morning training routine. While she distracts him, Cher Raud would secretly pick his pockets and steal his flute. Cher had recently purchased a red flute almost identical to the one Lute had and planned to leave it in the original's place. Lute would never know it was gone. When Mason asked her where she managed to get an identical red, glass flute, Cher informed him of the glass blower on Route 113. The old man uses the ashes collected by various trainers to make various items for them, including flutes and furniture. The flutes contained special properties, mostly ones that cured status conditions, but none were on the level of the Ruby Shaft. The red ones in particular merely snapped Pokemon out of a state of infatuation. Mason made a mental note to do some shopping when he got a chance. Morning soon came and Mason's crew disembarked for Fallarbor Town. While the base was in, or rather under, Fallarbor Town, they were to use the entrance on Route 113. The elevator opened to a flurry of volcanic ash, which Mason learned came from nearby Mt. Chimney. The ash was almost like snow, and similarly a chilly wind greeted the crew outside the elevator. The combination of northerly winds and sky-obscuring ash conspired to simulate a winter wonderland. Mason half-expected to see a snowman as the elevator receded back into the ground to be concealed by mounds of falling ash. Mason caught glimpses of small figures darting about the trees and mounds of ash. He remained wary, although Cher assured him that the Ninja Boys weren't likely to be a threat. They knew better than to challenge Team Magma, at least not until they could figure what Team Magma was planning. Even then, Mason's skills were such that he was likely to drop their entire team with a single Pokemon. Mason felt that was an exaggeration, but not one that was too far off. Penny and Cher had disguised themselves in civilian clothes while Mason and Cad kept themselves hidden. There was every need not to draw attention to themselves. If Lute even suspected that Team Magma was in town, they would never be able to get close enough. The Magma Grunts got themselves into position and waited for their quarry to show. Right on schedule, the silent trainer made his way down the street with a Jigglypuff on his shoulder. Penny, in her cutest outfit, casually ran into him and almost immediately began gushing over his Jigglypuff. The Jigglypuff was quite flattered and Penny squealed with delight when she discovered it could talk. This particular Jigglypuff was specially trained to speak not only in human verbal language but Hoenn Sign Language (HSL) as well. Penny, of course, had already known all about this from an earlier breifing but pretended to be quite fascinated. Lute eventually managed to get enough of his translator's attention to be able to talk with the peppy young lady himself. As it turned out, Penny was also quite fluent in sign language herself and the two of them struck up what looked like a very engaging conversation. Mason couldn't tell what they were talking about, but assumed it was one of those topics that became all the more fascinating as it got easier to picture the other person's clothes laying on your bedroom floor. As Mason pondered the level of difficulty in reading a girl's hands and t-shirt at once, Cher Raud made her move. Having spent a good deal of time and money in a nearby grocer, she was now totally encumbered with grocery bags and fully prepared to blunder into all sorts of people. With the grace of a drunk Donphan, Cher toppled into Lute. Groceries and Jigglypuffs spilled everywhere. Mason and Cad froze as the Jigglypuff bounced into the alley they were hiding in but remained calm. The Jigglypuff eventually rolled to its feet and took stock of its surroundings. Cad nearly went for his gun, but Mason stopped him. Killing it now would blow their cover and botch the job. The Jigglypuff dusted itself off and bounded out of the alley, picking up groceries and apologizing profusely as he returned to his trainer. Cher, Penny, and Lute had already gathered up most of the groceries and Cher and her cargo were soon off for whatever imaginary location Lute assumed she was heading for. Once the trainer and his Jigglypuff were suitably distracted again, Cher ducted into the alley and dropped her bags. Her mission accomplished, Cher triumphantly produced a novelty tube of candy. Mason was astounded at the critical error, but was enlightened to know that Lute had yet to notice the disappearance. Unfortunately, he was bound to get suspicious when he would later discover that his M&Ms had magically transformed into an extra red flute. Cher was not ready to move on to plan B just yet and put on a large overcoat. It had been fun and Penny was going to have to see Lute later when Cher made a signal from the alley. Penny started making plans to meet Lute at a later time and segued that into an entirely new conversation. Cher then shuffled out of the alley in her new disguise, completely with a fake cold. She hacked and wheezed her way back to Lute, bumped into him, apologized, coughed, apologized again, and shuffled back into the alley. Cher had a red flute, all right, but Mason inquired how she knew it was Lute's flute and not the replacement. Cher looked at the flute and sighed heavily. She was about to head back out when Penny stepped in. It seemed that Lute had already left to continue his training. A quick test of the flute on some feral Pokemon showed no sign magical abilities. Chances were this was not the Ruby Shaft at all and it was still in Lute's possession. That night, they were going to move on to Plan B. To be continued... [NS: This post was an experiment in writing without using dialogue. My plan is to write that way in any post that includes Lute, so as to convey a sense of silence. I probably failed to have any sort of style here, though. Feedback would be appreciated.] -- Chet "Tech" Weaver AIM: PanGatomon MSN: Nichirasu@hotmail.com eMail: zeroohki at netscape dot net Yahoo! Messenger: tech_weaver ICQ: 122744531 Webcomic: http://desperadocoyote.keenspace.com My Adventure Quest character: http://www.battleon.com/aq-chardetail.asp?temp=131213 You can play Adventure Quest at http://www.battleon.com Q: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo or the occult? A: We both do. Q: Voodoo? A: We do. Q: You do? A: Yes, voodoo. -- Actual court testimony