Chapter 12/Final:Bouncing Around
Three minutes. That was all the time that Ash, Chad, Ed, Zoey, Rukia, May and Aisha had in order to escape the Galios before the "Eraser" satellite would live up to it's name. The satellite was storing power as it rotated to the craft's path. The group, ditching Dardanel who remained out cold on the bridge, raced to their escape shuttle, Al and Pikachu waiting frantically for them. Two minutes. The group arrived at their escape vehicle, ready to depart the doomed shuttle. "Guys, you're okay!" Al shouted in joy as he spotted his brother and friends.
("Come on!") Pikachu ordered. Whether or not they heard the mouse, the group clustered onto the shuttle and seated themselves with Ash as the pilot and Aisha as the co-pilot. One minute, and counting. Al hit the safety latch, opening the doors to the empty space before boarding the shuttle. Once on board, Chad closed the door, sealing everyone inside. Ash hurried and started the engines. He seemed to know how the controls work, because the shuttle reversed and exited the Galios. Were they in the safe? 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...Activate! From the dish of the satellite, a stream of light blasted out...directly through the Galios. The beam ripped the Galios a hole through and through. If Dardanel was inside there, he'd be dead. Space donuts, anyone? The magnitude of the blast made the escape shuttle vibrate violently, hindering Ash's control. The rest grasped something, anything to keep stability. 15 seconds elapsed, and the beam of the "Eraser" shorted out. The Galios looked like a hot dog without the meat inside. As for Dardanel...he's gone! All that remained was a pair of feet, blood spraying from there. The "Eraser" had erased him. With the "Eraser" exhausting its energy, the vibration stopped, allowing everyone to loosen their grasps.
"Oh, man," Ed groaned. "Was that from the satellite?" That was, Edward. Rukia heard a beep from a monitor, thus she jerked her head to that screen. What she read surprised her.
"Galios has suffered magnificent damage," she informed. "Engines, air support, mechanics...all destroyed." Ash began to wonder about if Dardanel had escaped as well as them.
"Any word on Dardanel?" he asked. Hitting a few buttons, Rukia spotted those feet.
"There are burn marks on his severed feet. I think we've seen the last of him." Dardanel was gone. The nightmare was over...or was it? Sparks ripped around the demolished vessel. Looked like the ship was going to blow. Unaware of the explosive situation, all the heroes could think about was getting back to the solid earth.
"Dardanel was no more than a wasteful soul who thought of nothing but domination," Chad murmured. A waste of a human, indeed. Rukia and May agreed among the beliefs that a guy like Dardanel don't deserve a life.
"Still, what drives people to go to extreme lengths for something so foolish and impossible to achieve?" Aisha pointed out. "I mean, true that I've been with him for sometime, but what about overall?" That ain't a bad ponder. Just then, warning signs blared, signaling danger. "Ash turned to the screen, which had a message on that.
"GALIOS MASSIVE ENERGY OUTPUT. SITUATION IMMINENT. CRITICAL COMBUSTION ABSOLUTE."
Ash froze, puzzled with what popped up on screen. The Galios was moments away from a major kaboom. Hearing the sirens, Ed wondered about the problem that the escape shuttle had. "Hey, Ash," he voiced over the alarms. "What's wrong with the ship?" He had no clue that it wasn't their shuttle that had glitches. Since the alarm meant, to Ash's mind, that the shuttle was within the blast radius, he smashed his foot to the right pedal and thrust the control stick as forward as possible. The shuttle began to nosedive from the orbits, plummeting at a fast pace. Everyone inside yelped in surprise of the loss of gravitational force.
"Ash, slow down!" Zoey screamed. "We'll burn up entering the atmosphere!" The speed of the shuttle started to show friction, fire spewing from the underbelly. Ash pulled the sticks, his might versus the gravitational pull of the planet beneath everyone, and his might was losing.
"Hang on!" he growled fiercely. The shuttle started to level out, for ever closing in on the planet's atmosphere. As if his swift descent wasn't enough...KABOOM! The Galios exploded into a million pieces. Metallic scraps and chunks sprayed away from the fiery blast, some propelling toward the surviving vessel. The intense vibrations told Ash that the Galios had bit the dust...and fire and ion particle rays, don't ask. "That was the Galios...or what was left of it!" Suddenly, a patch of turbulence punched the hull, good enough to send Zoey flying to Ash, landing on his lap with her seat. A short hesitate, she grabbed the control sticks, yanking with Ash. A chunk of debris was fast approaching. Another warning alarm blared, getting May to look at a monitor.
"Debris is falling this way!" she screamed. The turbulence continued to rock the shuttle, causing Ed to lose balance. He stumbled on top of May, but clapped his hands together. He planted his hands down, shooting sparks. Suddenly, out of the metal underbelly, a large Gatling gun appeared, but despite no one behind the weapon, it opened fire. About 100 bullets fired per second, the bullets chipped and chipped away the pursuing debris. The only piece of the Galios that was a threat was riddled away, shot-by-shot until the last piece was knocked away. Finally, Ash and Zoey got the shuttle level. The shaking of the craft became less and less, smoothing out and steadying. No more warning lights. No more alarms. No more danger. They were in the clear. They did it. Rukia peered at the monitor that May saw the metallic shrapnel beforehand, eying the turret gun.
"There's a gun below the vessel," she allowed to notice. Was there a gun on the vessel before? May was actually glad to have something to protect them.
"Whether or not this gun was equipped to the ship, thank goodness it was there when we needed it." Ed scratched his head, unsure if he should confess to the transmutation of the turret. Al wasn't so hesitant.
"Well, considering that there were no weapons on board," he sneered toward Ed. Ed just flicked a shy laugh. His armored brother ratted him out, having May and Aisha roused in suspicion.
"Weren't you a prodigy of alchemy?" she glared.
"So what?" Ed squeaked as bad as Pikachu. "It doesn't mean I transmuted a turret on purpose. Honest!" Regardless of his pleas, May did thank him for the protection he provided. Ash was just anxious to return to the planet.
"Okay, guys, let's get home before we do any more senseless bickering," he silenced. Cooperating, the shuttle quieted down as it drifted into orbit.
One week later...
"FATE" was the scene again. Chad stood watch by the front doors, a big smile marking his face. A week after the Mikado raid, the bouncers had settled down, returning to the lives that they were given. Inside..."Cheers," shouted from the upper deck porch. Glasses chimed on contacts as May, Ed, Pikachu, Aisha and Al were celebrating a well noted victory. Wait...where's Ash? Zoey? Rukia?
"It feels so good to enjoy a victory," Aisha exasperated as she swung her glass for a drink. She, with others, were at the table where there was a smörgåsbord of food, sodas, snacks...some celebration for such a small task. It's close by, that Ash was spotted by the sink, doing the dishes.
"Come on, Ash," May greeted on over to the table. "Join us." Ash was willing to be part of the good time. However, work was work.
"I'm almost done," he said. "A couple of tallboys to go." That's when Rukia came upstairs...looking a little wobbly.
"That Saki is the best," she slurred. She was drinking? At her age? Al came over, helping her balance. "I think I hit my limit." She sure appeared to have. Ash gazed at her, not sure how to deal with her intoxication.
"Since when were you old enough to drink?" Ed asked. Rukia slumped onto the chair, still with the attitude to party.
"It's about time I told you that I'm ten times as old as you, Edward." Ten times Ed's age? That's unbelievable.
"You don't look a day over 16," May awed. In her drunken stupor, Rukia swayed over, fainting onto Ed.
"Whoa, easy Rukia," he yelped in surprise. Though fascinated with Rukia's age, Ash chuckled at her liquored up behavior. As if knowing Rukia's age was something to gawk at, there was another surprise that decided to rise to meet the heroes.
"Hey, where's your barmaid?!" an intoxicated Excel yelled...what? Wasn't she expelled from the story? "Oh, don't worry about Excel. She and Hyatt are doing cameos for this chapter." Well, if you say so... Ash heard the upbeat female and the question.
"Zoey won't be in for another half-hour," he politely addressed. He ad-libbed that well. Excel felt satisfied with the knowledge of Zoey working that night. That's when Chad entered and got to the porch level.
"Hey Ash," he voiced. "You're on guard." Good timing, big guy. Ash got done with the dishes.
"Okay, Chad. I'm on my way." That's when he turned to his little rodent. "Wanna join me, Pikachu?"
("You bet I do!") Pikachu accepted highly. Both got down the staircase, with Excel following him. What for? Did Excel have the hots for Ash? Probably not.
"Hey, Hat-chan, I'll be outside with Ash," she called to Hyatt at the bar, enjoying a mug of beer.
"Okay, senior," she chirped while sporting a foam mustache. The three walked out of the tavern and waited where Chad was, moments ago. Pikachu crawled up onto the railing, seeing the view.
"Excel appreciates the peace inside 'FATE'. Guess spending time alongside the ignorant masses has some ups to calm. The only thing Excel would worry about is Hat-chan." Would it be that she had the tendency of dying so much? Ash and Pikachu were concerned with why.
("What's to be worried about, Excel,") it squeaked up.
"Well, she has a frail heart, and she tends to die so easily and so often that doctors have problems determining her issues." Her face of concern soon became gritting grins. Spite? "However, ACROSS will overcome this shortfall, like boxers looking for precise moments in their fights to strike the 'OFF' button of their opponents." Interesting analogy. "And when ACROSS takes over this world, I will assign you to lead the department of animal control." Animal control? "As for you, Author, I will assign you to the department of literature." You know, that might not be a bad idea.
"I'll think about the positioning offer," Ash hesitantly replied. Suddenly...
"Your bar on last call?" asked...Faye! She's alive! Ash, Pikachu and Excel saw the female, looking alive and well. Ash was, in turn, glad to see her in good shape.
"It's still early in the night, Faye." Faye got to the top of the incline and petted Pikachu. Guess she was good-natured. That's when she turned to Excel.
"I'd like to talk with him alone. Is that all right?" Why would Faye want to chat with Ash?
"Excel will not relinquish her position so easily!" she excitedly argued...until she heard a growl...from her stomach. Faye and Ash gazed at Excel and her careless welfare.
"Have you been drinking on an empty stomach?" Ash guessed. Excel scratched the back of her head nervously...she was binging without food?
"I have ridiculously high metabolism." Ridiculously high? Whoa!
"That'll work," Faye sighed. "Ash, tell me this bar has nourishments." There was the celebration with food.
"We are throwing a party for stopping Dardanel's destructive plans," Ash pointed out. With food there, Excel accelerated back inside, ready to munch down. Faye could finally have her chance at Ash. She leaned over the railing, lighting a cigarette.
"If there is a way to return to our own times, I don't wanna go back." What..? Not wanting to return? "You see, where I come from, the Bebop carrier, had...a divorce of such. When we were together, there was a retired Intra System Space Police officer, a computer whiz hacker, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog, and an ex-member of a crime syndicate. Since joining the rest, we became a troupe, growing fond of each other. Just a month before Dardanel hired me, Ed found her father, Ein stayed with her, and Spike..." There was a girl named Ed? Then, what's with Spike? Faye did mention this before. "He died after his battle with Vicious, and now...I've got nothing to go back to." Poor Faye. Ash came forward, placing a hand on her shoulder, a sign of comfort.
"It's alright. He's still in your heart, right?" Faye saw the goodness look of Ash, saying that there was no reason to be so distant from whomever was left. "You've still got a lot ahead of you. Don't let the loss of Spike mean the end of you travels."
"I suppose so. Thanks for listening, anyway." Well, now that that's done, all that needed to happen would be Zoey seeing Ash at the front door and the wrap-up...
"You and Simon had the same catastrophic issues," murmured...Viral? What the heck...he's alive? Ash was shocked to see the bleached blond in good shape. "And don't worry. After hearing the Galios bite the big one, I assumed that you were responsible for it. My fight is resting." Ash rested his guard.
"So, Viral, what's up?" Yeah, what's the purpose?
"I ran into your redhead girlfriend a half-hour ago. She wanted me to come here and give you this note." Redhead girlfriend? Viral gave a little paper slip to Ash who read it.
ASH-SEE ME BY THE FOUNTAIN ASAP-ZOEY
Zoey? She was the redhead girlfriend? Ash stuffed the note in his pocket, knowing what he had to do. "Thanks, Viral," he acknowledged. "Pikachu, you stand post until I get back." Pikachu...a pint-size bouncer? Oh, that's rich.
("You sure about it, Ash?") Pikachu questioned. Faye, hearing the mouse's concern, petted Pikachu as assurance. Viewing this, Ash felt comfortable with his substitute watchdogs and proceeded to the park. Ed and May were watching the spectacle from the second story. Guess the only one who did die was Dardanel. Well, good.
"To think, when I first met him, he was as peaceful as Chad with no fighting skills," Ed remembered. "He's definitely changed." May believed Ed as she grasped his human hand in a hint of compassion. Ed was stunned with what may be May falling for him.
"Thanks a lot, Edward, for everything," she hummed with blushing cheeks. Chad and Aisha thought that this was a start of something very interesting. What's next, the big guy and the Ctarl Ctarl?
"Guess those people at the restaurants I, temporarily, worked at were right," Aisha thumbed. "Sometimes the best place to look for love is at watering holes." Well, let's not speculate that too much. Ash bolted over to the park. No one was there. Since the note said to meet him by the fountain, so he walked to and sat on the rim. He eyed the night-lit starry sky, glad that the plans of someone like Dardanel were stopped before anything big were to cause travesty. Reunited with May and Pikachu, Ed with Al, Chad with Rukia...satisfaction overwhelmed the good-hearted soul.
"You came!" called Zoey, who was back to her red hair and...cat ears? Ash jerked to Zoey, interested to know what the deal was.
"Hey, Zoey," Ash greeted. "You wanted to see me for something?" Zoey bobbed her head as she closed in, blushing cheeks in view. They were face-to-face.
"I know that soon, we'll all go back to our worlds. I just...I just don't wanna leave your side anymore. I fell for a boy in blue light...which was you." Aw... "I...I guess...I'm..." Ash placed a finger on Zoey's lips, and nodded for some reason...like he knew what she was going to say.
"Me, too." He replaced the finger with his lips. It was a kiss. Zoey anticipated something like this. She got it. Who knew that in those few months, when Ash and Zoey met, a romantic blossom began to bloom between them? Now, a dream came true for her. Zoey Hanson and Ash Ketchum, Mew Mew and Pokémon trainer, barmaid and bouncer, walking down the isle of love, bliss and super-heroic charm.