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soh10 [2011/07/13 16:48]
doan created
soh10 [2011/07/13 16:48] (current)
doan
Line 11: Line 11:
A human face on a large display screen is speaking to him. A human face on a large display screen is speaking to him.
 +----
 +
 +“Whoa there, you drink way too much!”
 +
 +“I know. Terrible habit,” said Garian, picking up the third bottle of Jalapeno Juice and taking a long swig, “It gets me into way too much trouble, but...” he grinned, then downed the rest of the bottle before placing it deliberately onto the stage, slightly outside the boundaries of where he was able to walk, “Thou Must.”
 +
 +“At least don't just drop your bottles like that!” complained Richie, picking up the bottle that had been pushed over by the invisible wall of force the second Garian took his hand off it, an anomaly that nobody seemed to notice but him. The bartender returned to his rounds, picking up glasses and putting them on his tray. Apparently, he had nobody to help him. Perhaps because Dunbar was busy being a UK Localisation Tester or whatever it was he did. Mostly, he seemed to sit in the corner with the design crew and talk about nerdy things while laughing raucously and drinking far too much coffee. He was a programmer, not a businessman, unlike Garian's strange clone, who seemed happy in both worlds. On the other end of the scale was Kubota, who was permanently glued to his mobile phone or directing the various members of staff in a brisk, loud voice.
 +
 +“Do all Bounty Hunters drink like a fish?” asked the other Garian, “I kinda imagine it as that kind of profession. Like the military.”
 +
 +“We're supposed to keep our wits about us at all times,” he replied, “But yeah, we're mostly alcoholics.”
 +
 +Garian looked around as Kubota started yelling at people, “I think your business meeting is about to start.”
 +
 +The games designer sighed and reached into his pocket for something, “Oh crap, my JackBook is missing! I can't start without it!”
 +
 +“What's a JackBook?”
 +
 +“You know, a PDA. It had all my notes on it!” he explained, “I'm supposed to be making a presentation about my new product in front of the people here who aren't from the company!”
 +
 +“I hope you didn't leave it on the boat. It'll already have left by now.”
 +
 +“I think it dropped out of my pocket on the way here,” he said, “I don't suppose you could help me look for it, could you?”
 +
 +“I'm supposed to hunt down criminals, not PDAs and diaries and True Endings and things,” said Garian, “But that's what I always seem to end up doing. We should start by retracing our steps...”
 +
 +He walked out of the door and nobody tried to murder him. Garian was beginning to like this world. It was refreshingly peaceful. Thousands of Love-Love Mini Racer fans had flocked to the Island (it was still called Lavian Island, due to the lack of jailers and continued presence of the Lavian Embassy) and were lining the streets, drinking, cosplaying as Mini Racers or characters from other Kubota Industries games that Garian hadn't heard of, staging impromptu game music concerts. They  were staying in hotels in J.J. City, so called because it was the birthplace of the famous Jalapeno Juice, and Senator Kurtliegen had rented out his ancestral home to actually stage the event. His voice could be heard waffling on and on, something he was inordinately fond of, over the massive HD screen on the wall. Garian did not understand politics put suspected he was ranting on about nothing. After a while, his face was replaced by the Love Love Mini Racer logo.
 +
 +“That's being played live, right now,” explained the other Garian as he searched the floor for his phone. It was difficult to see anything on the floor when there were so many people in the way, “DeBose Schumizer versus Indigo McNamara. The battle for the world championship. And J.J. Banana is here, commentating live, too. Well, you know, the guy who does his voice. Poor guy has to wear the costume and everything.”
 +
 +Garian bit back a curse as someone almost stepped on his foot, “You sure this PDA isn't just in your briefcase or something?”
 +
 +“I don't have a briefcase. I dunno. Maybe we should ask in reception, see if someone's handed it in. Or they could have stolen it. How good are you at catching PDA thieves?” he laughed at his own joke, then turned around, his expression serious again. He pointed to a dockyard behind one of the buildings, a site that would have been a meeting place for black market deals in any normal version of the Island, “I think that's it. Over there.”
 +
 +“Huh? What's it doing over there?”
 +
 +“Must have got kicked out of the way.”
 +
 +He sighed, “You really need to be more careful with your stuff...”
 +
 +“Its you who needs to be more careful.”
 +
 +Garian whirled around at the last second, just fast enough to evade the blow that was aimed at the back of his neck. His sword was already in his hand. Cursing, the man instead grabbed Garian's sword arm, wrenching the blade out of his hand. His grip was strong as steel and cold as ice. Though he was unarmed, his strength was inhuman. He easily bore Garian to the ground, grabbing him by the neck and choking him.   
 +
 +“There's no such thing as a JackBook PDA. You know I don't have Jack following me around. Come to think of it, I don't see Jack with you either,” he said conversationally. His voice was the soft whisper of a madman, a remorseless killer. His dark hazel eyes contained no hatred but no warmth either. They were strangely vibrant, as if madness had lent him new energy. “Where did he go, Garian?”
 +
 +“Wish I knew...” he gasped. He tried to breathe but nothing came out. The world was going white, filling up with static, like the apparition he had seen battling Meg in the nightmare that Parallel 4 had become.
 +
 +“Try calling him,” said Carbon Garian, “Cry out to him. Beg. Tell him I'll only spare your life if he tells me all his secrets.”
 +
 +“You'd kill me anyway... you have to... all of us...” Garian laughed. His voice was coming from far away. He couldn't really feel his body any more. His consciousness was receding into a darkness free from pain, somewhere quiet. Things weren't spinning around so much any more. Maybe the other Garian had been the sensible one...
 +
 +“Why, that's true. You're aware, aren't you? I thought so. I hate killing the aware ones. But, you see, you're not aware enou...” 
 +
 +There was a loud crack, then Garian could breathe again. His throat still ached, as did every muscle in his body, but he was alive.
 +
 +“I should have known you are not Garian,” said a voice. It was slow and deliberate, with the awkward syllables of someone whose English was passable but still not that confident. Painful as it was to even open his eyes, Garian did so. Kubota stood over them, pointing a handgun at Carbon Garian. The doppelgänger lay on the floor, bleeding from a wound in his back. The manager's face was impassive. “Garian can design games. You are lousy employee.”
 +
 +He turned to look at Garian, “You are more like Garian. But you are a stranger.”
 +
 +“Talk later,” gasped Garian, “He's not dead.”
 +
 +“I shot him.”
 +
 +“He's not dead. Trust me,” said Garian, “Not human. Check him. Don't take your eyes off...”
 +
 +Kubota cried out as Carbon Garian started twitching, his arm reaching out to pull himself up again. His head lifted from the ground and he fixed Garian with a look of mortal agony – but of someone who was determined to do something they had failed to do hundreds of times in a row, rather than someone bleeding to death. Kubota pointed the gun at him again and his finger squeezed the trigger...
 +
 +A blue blur descended from the sky. Talons snatched the gun from his hand. Garian hadn't even seen Jack fly in, but then Jack was often just there by your side, even when you couldn't see how he could possibly have gotten there. He grabbed the gun in his beak and flung it over the rail into the sea, then flew over to Carbon Garian. The Bounty Hunter heard a familiar surging noise and saw a white aura radiate from Jack's body, flowing into Carbon Garian. Suddenly, he wasn't dying any more. He didn't look fully healed, though. Garian knew that Jack could easily bring him up to full health without even ruffling his feathers if he wanted to.
 +
 +“Sorry,” said the bird. Then he grabbed Carbon Garian by the hair and lifted him up into the sky. When he began to struggle like a demon being exorcised, the bird whistled and Regina and Kaiser came out of nowhere to assist him. Garian could only look on in horror and confusion as his mark disappeared.
 +
 +“Bastard bird!” he screamed.
 +
 +Kubota stared up at the sky as well. Once the birds had gone, he shrugged and looked at Garian thoughtfully.
 +
 +“I think you and I need to have a little talk.” he decided.
 
soh10.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/13 16:48 by doan
 
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