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Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency: The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.1

The morning after the party Yancy woke up pretty late. The expedition to the watery south had exhausted him, and he was still suffering from bruising and his partly broken right hand..

Nervous energy from the joy of success and a safe return had sustained Yancy through the previous evening, but once he crashed, he crashed hard. He woke up too late to get the hotel’s regular breakfast and had to order some room service.

Fortunately Mistress Kou had anticipated this situation. Her formal debriefing conference was booked for the early afternoon.

The session took a couple of hours. Lt Mike was the only member from the USAF S&R helicopter crew present. He looked tired but very relaxed.

Kou and the other Mods made careful notes of everyone’s reports. The problem of the Kappa was not resolved, and a strategy had to be devised. But not today. More research was necessary.

Finally, the expedition crews were formally thanked for their hard work, and released to go and take up their normal lives again.

Yancy shook everyone’s hand and thanked them. Lt Mike went off by himself, presumably to get together with Onecornchippy. The two firegirls headed off together. Moon, Janjan, Chanmi and Nymphi were the only ones left.

“Would anyone like some food, or a pint, maybe?”

Moon spoke for everyone.

“D’ya know what, Yancy, I just want to get to my own home and have a quiet time tonight.”

“Good plan. I’ll do the same. Let’s catch up some time tomorrow. There’s no rush to open the agency.”

They caught cabs to their separate homes. In Yancy’s case this was the Frog Palace, a luxurious 4LDK on the eighth floor of the tallest residential building in The Server, in Blue Home channel. That was the advantage of having been taken for Waifu by the Frog Princess.

Yancy had spent only a few hours in the new Palace between being released from hospital and starting his work for the expedition. He enjoyed checking all the facilities at leisure, except for the balcony of course, due to his irrational fear of heights. Instead, he admired the view from a safe position inside the big glass doors.

The Princess was not at home. Yancy supposed she was spending quality time with Lt Mike. He didn’t send a message as he didn’t want to disturb her.

He had a quiet evening. He checked his wardrobe. Everything was fresh from professional laundering after the fire. He looked at his bookshelf to make sure it was in the right order, and picked a manga to read.

Yancy cooked himself dinner and had a couple of glasses of wine with it. He caught up on his notes about the just finished case. It was going to be quite a job to write up. He would need to interview a number of people who witnessed the various scenes which had occurred while he had been in hospital.

Eventually Yancy had a relaxing bath in the Japanese style bathroom, and went to bed.

The next morning he woke up blissfully rested and relaxed, for the first time in weeks. There were no worries or problems to face. Although his body was still bruised and a bit achey, it was a good ache, the type you get when you start to recover from hard work and exercise.

He lay still, enjoying the sensation of warmth and comfort. He cast his mind back over the recently completed Case of the Halloween Hauntings.

“That was probably the biggest case the agency has ever been involved in. I spent most of it lying around in hospital. I’ve got to do something nice for Moon and Janjan. They maintained the honour and reputation of the Kuudere Detective agency while I was lying around seeing double. That was a big win.

“Another good thing is that Chippy seems to have got back together with Lt Mike, so my Princess is happy, and that makes me happy.”

“A third thing is that Saki clearly has forgiven me at last. I haven’t lost big in the Casino for weeks. In fact I’ve won enough to help make the Princess the third richest member in the server.”

This wasn’t strictly true. There were a number of very wealthy members, such as Lord Yuzu, whose net worth wasn’t declared in the crude measure of Coins or Treats. But Onecornchippy was ranking high on the public index.

Even so, it was a huge relief to be back in Saki’s good books. Things had been so bad at one point that a very ugly incident occurred, involving teeth, 12 rounds of .38 Special, a bayonet, some plastic sacks, and a midnight walk to the East River. Yancy didn’t like to think about that. He tried to file the memory somewhere it might be forgotten.

“What else have I got to be happy about? My own Coin situation is good, and my outgoings are low, thanks to living here in the Palace.

“And I can’t forget about Blaise. What a girl!”

Yancy hadn’t yet done anything more than some slow dancing with the flame-haired Firegirl, and got a peck on the cheek, but he had a good feeling about things. Yancy figured he only needed to treat Blaise with proper respect and charm, and romance would blossom.

“There are a few flies in the ointment, though. I’m still bruised as hell, and this broken hand can’t be used fully for a few weeks yet. I shall be confined to light duties only.”

He wondered how typing would feel. The old upright Corona needed for his hard-boiled detective work took quite a bit of effort to use.

Having sorted through his thoughts and feelings, Yancy got up, showered, and had some breakfast. He decided to become hard-boiled, go down to the agency office, and see the lie of the land.

Yancy got out his chonky Colt M1911A1 in its shoulder holster and checked it. There were five silver bullets in the magazine. The spare mag was full of standard lead. He swapped the mags, not wanting to spend magic bullets on a mundane threat.

He put on one of his hard-boiled detective suits, with the gat under the jacket. Then, the worn but clean trench coat, and finally the snap-brim hat, tilted back on his head at a jaunty angle. The detective aspect settled on him firmly. His face grew harder, and his voice changed. He checked his appearance in the mirror.

“Copacetic!”

Yancey went out and caught the trolleybus downtown to the corner of The Deep where the detectives’ favourite diner stood. He bought a quart can of black coffee and a bag of ring donuts, and took them up to the agency office.

Everything was as he remembered, except Moon’s phone and his typewriter were gone. They had become haunted spirit objects, and were sitting deactivated in a secure store in the Mod Channel, awaiting appropriate disposal. He had shot the phone himself in a desperate fight. The typewriter was deactivated by the Garden Fairy Yura’s magic sparkles, after it had written some very rude things on Janjan’s hands..

“Gotta replace them. The filing cabinet can stay, there’s no harm in a couple of bullet holes. Gives a good impression, actually.

“If we take on Janjan semi-permanently he’ll need a desk. Seeing how well he and Moon work together, maybe I should look for a Sidekick. We could do bigger cases. Of course if there’s four of us, we’ll definitely need a bigger office. I better talk to Moon about all that.”

Yancey often made those kinds of decisions without consulting his partner, and she was always angry about it, rightly so. He was trying to get more social intelligence, and needed to reduce his macho impetuosity.

He wrote everything down on a yellow legal pad. He unloaded his piece, locked the silver bullets in a desk drawer, and reloaded with standard rounds. He didn’t want to go into the special gun locker, because it wasn’t necessary, and the contents could be triggering. He added a pint of rye whiskey to his To Do list.

Yancey sat in his familiar desk chair, poured himself a coffee and opened the bag of donuts. He started to think about members who might make a good sidekick.

He started with the expedition crews:

Tsuchimursu
The Fairy Imp Yura
Firegirl Blaise
Firegirl VioletMist
Nymphi
Chanmi

Yancey put a line through Tsuchimursu because he was a Mod. He scratched the Fairy Imp Yura because she was already a detective in her own specialist area of Chuunibyo.

He crossed out Blaise because of his rule about no tangles with business partners. He skipped VioletMist for the moment.

He ruled out Nymphi because she had a steady job she liked and was very good at, one of the star head patters at Kafé Kauda Kai.

“That’s a short list of two; VioletMist and Chanmi. I had better talk to Moon. She may have a notion of someone else.”

Yancey poured himself more coffee and started on another donut.

“The Mod News will be out by now. I should get a copy and look at the commercial property listings.”

He finished his donut and coffee before going out to find a newspaper boi. When he came back the coffee was getting cold, so he set the can on his little stove to warm up.

“It’ll get a bit stale and bitter, which is really hard-boiled.”

It was often these little touches which helped to maintain a really effective aspect.

Yancy read through the listings and circled a couple of leads with a pencil. Then he thought he should start by calling up his current landlady, Ms Wallace. She was tough on payment of the rent, but fair and cooperative as long as she got her Coins on time.

He poured another coffee, sipped, winced, and picked up the phone.

“Ms Wallace, how are you? Yes, it’s Yancey here at the MPY office. Say, I’m thinking of expanding, so I want to look for a bigger place. Have you got a lead on anything?”

Ms Wallace readily agreed to come in the afternoon and show Yancy a couple of suitable properties she had on her books. He rang off with thanks, poured the rest of the coffee down the sink, and took the can back to the diner, where he stopped for a lunchtime sandwich.

After lunch Yancy rang his message service. He should have done it earlier, but he wasn’t in the mood for detecting yet. However, it wasn’t professional to let things slip too long. There was nothing interesting though.

It came to the time to meet Ms Wallace. They viewed the two offices, both in the same, slightly seedy building as the current place. This suited Yancy, who knew the neighbourhood well.

“Besides, a hard-boiled detective can’t have a fancy office. It don’t look right.”

One was on the top fourth floor, the other was on the second floor. Yancy of course preferred the second floor place, due to his irrational fear of heights. It had a large main office, big enough for four desks, a smaller office which he planned to turn into a private consultation room, a good store cupboard, a small washroom, and a tiny kitchenette.

It seemed so ideal that Yancy thought to take it straight away, only he remembered he needed to consult with his partner Moon Potato. Ms Wallace said she would pencil it in for the MPY, and he could let her know Moon’s opinion on the morrow. She gave him a spare key so she wouldn’t have to come back specially.

Yancy rang Moon and left a message that he wanted to get her opinion about the new office in the morning. He decided he had done a good day’s work, and headed off to one of his favourite bars for a cocktail or two.

TO BE CONTINUED…


© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency: The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.2


The next morning Yancy got up, put on his detective clothes, assumed his hard-boiled aspect, and went down to the agency.

He got coffee and donuts as usual, making sure to buy some of Moon’s favourite varieties. Yancey wanted to wheedle her about the new office, and maybe a sidekick too if he could get her into a real good mood.

Yancey hung around half the morning doing paperwork and no Moon arrived. He wondered where she had got to.

He rang the land line at her crib and got no answer. He decided to message her on her smartphone. There was no connection. The message bounced back.

“Weird. It’s like she’s not there at all.”

Yancey decided to go back to Pink Home and check Moon’s flat for himself. But when he got there and buzzed her flat on the communal door entry phone, there was no answer.

He phoned Janjan, figuring that as he was her sidekick, he might be with her working a case. It seemed unlikely, but he couldn’t think of anything else. They both knew he was only fit for light duties until his hand was healed, so they might not have told him they were on a job.

“I’m sorry, Mr Yancey, I haven’t seen Ms Potato since the day before yesterday.”

“Say, Janjan, are you busy right now?”

“No, I’m all caught up with my perfumes. Do you need my help with something?”

“Yeah, I’m getting a bad feeling about Moon. I don’t know where she is and I can’t contact her. Can you meet me at the agency office in half an hour?”

“Sure, sir. I’ll be there.”

Yancey went back downtown and waited for Janjan to arrive. He messaged Nymphi. She also hadn’t seen Moon since Kou’s debrief conference. He thought of ringing Chanmi, or the Princess, but he decided to wait for Janjan.



After the call from Mr Yancey I got myself hard-boiled as fast as possible. I got a taxicab downtown cause otherwise I couldn't have made the meet.

When I went in, Mr Yancey was sitting at his desk, the one with a phone but no typewriter because it had attacked me and then got dealt with by Ms Yura.

He looked different to what I knew of him before, but really I had only seen Mr Yancey in hospital, and then on the expedition. Those times his aspect was Yancy the Frog Prince, who was English and fairly young, mid-20s I think. His hard-boiled aspect was older, like 30s, harder, more world-weary in a way, I guess.

Mr Yancey was drinking coffee and eating a donut.

“Thanks for coming so quick, Janjan.”

He stood and we shook hands.

“Take a seat. Have some coffee and a donut.”

I made myself comfortable.

“What’s it about Ms Potato, sir?”

“I can't find her or contact her anyhow. I don’t know what’s happened to her, and I’m worried.”

“Have you dropped .uinfo @ her?”

“No! I never thought of it.”

He ran the command. His face went white. He ran another command. He ran some more commands, and ran them all again.

I’ve never seen a tough boi crumple like Mr Yancey did then. He threw his smartphone on the desk. He leant forwards and put his head in his hands, covering his face. His breathing got heavy and his shoulders started to shake gently.

I dropped .uinfo and .waifuinfo @Moon_Potato. There was nothing. No records. She wasn’t in The Server, like she didn’t exist anymore.

I double checked on the various leaderboards. She was 100% gone. I mean, members move in and out of The Server all the time, because you’ve got stuff to do IRL, but their records are maintained.

If there’s nothing, it means you aren’t even a member anymore. It’s like being dead. Maybe it’s worse than that. When you die IRL, at least you leave a mark to show you once existed. If you Leave The Server, all you are any more is a hole in the memories of the members who knew you. Negative space.

I guessed Mr Yancey was real broke up and probably he was crying. I knew he thought the world of Ms Moon.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think he would want to be found out crying like that, what with us being hard-boiled and all.

“Uh, sir? My throat’s real dry. Have you got anything a boi might like to drink as well as coffee?”

“Yeah. In the drawer here. There’s a bottle. Pour me one while you’re at it. I just got to hit the can.”

He got up and went to the tiny washroom closet. I found the bottle and poured two stiff drinks of rye.

When Mr Yancey came out I saw he had washed his face but his eyes were a bit red. I didn’t look too close, so as not to notice. He sat down, took up his glass and drank it in one gulp.

“You’ve checked too, Janjan? The .xplb and everything?”

“Yessir.”

"She's gone, hasn't she. She’s really gone."

"Sir… I think she has."

Truth be told I felt cut up some myself. It was Ms Potato who saw my qualities.

She took me on as sidekick. I learned a lot from her in a short time. I went on a big adventure and found out something special about me, and about the members I was with.

I don't know how to express it well, but it's like I grew, I became a better me because of what Ms Moon did. I reckon it took a special quality in her to do that.

"That's it, then. That's the end of the agency."

"No! Mr Yancey! You can't stop now!"

"How can I go on? It's always been Moon and me. Moon had my back and I had hers. But she was the rock. She saved me again and again from my macho impetuosity."

"Sir! You saved her too. But look, there's something else. Sometimes members leave, they stop being members, but sometimes they come back to The Server."

Mr Yancey thought about that.

"Yeah, it's true. Lt Mike left, and he came back. I left once, early on. I left Moon to finish a case by herself. I came back. But there has to be something to call you back."

"That's why you have to keep the agency going, sir! The agency will call her back."

He took another drink of rye, and a cup of coffee. He gnawed on a lemon praline donut. I could see he was thinking about it.

"This flavour was one of Moon's favourites, Janjan."

"I guess she had a bit of a sweet tooth."

"I knew all her favourites. Her best pasta, her special cocktail. I knew she liked checking places for stakeouts, just to see their decor. All that kind of thing."

I let him think. He sat up straight, planted his feet on the floor and his hands on the desk.

"Okay. I'm not gonna give up. I'm gonna keep going. That’s the hard-boiled way. That’s the kuudere way."

"Sir! If I can help… Ms Moon… Well… I miss her too."

“Right! Good boi, Janjan. You’re promoted right now to associate detective. You can’t be a partner, because the partnership is me and Moon. I’ve got to keep her share for her, to call her back. And I’m not changing the name, either.”

“That’s fine, sir. That’s the way it should be.”

Fact was, I felt prouder to be an associate detective of the MPY Kuudere Detective Agency, than to be a partner in the JY Agency or whatever it might be.

“Another thing, Janjan. No more ‘sir’ or ‘Mr Yancey’. Your good manners do you great credit, but hard-boiled detective bois don't talk like that to each other. No offence.”

“Sir! I mean, er… Yancey…. Thank you. There's a lot I got to learn from you."

"Yeah, I know. I'll do my best. You can be polite to everyone else, still, especially dames. That’s hard-boiled. If they’re dolls."

He poured out two more glasses, only short ones.

“This is to toast us, Janjan. We’re going to be depending on each other from now, so let’s start off right.”

We clinked glasses and slugged it down. We felt the liquor heat our stomachs, and set our brains to run on different wavelengths.

“Janjan, we’ve got to do a few things. We’ve got to get someone to help. I was already thinking of taking on a sidekick, seeing how good you did with Moon. I’ve got someone in mind already, but I won’t say her name right now.”

“Okay. It’s a girl, then?”

“Yes. It’s important to have girl intuition on the team as well as boi logic. Diversity. Social intelligence. I’m trying hard to get better at it. But remember the rule. No tangles.”

“Yessir, I mean yes, Mr Yancey, Yancey I mean.”

“So we’re going to need a bigger office. I’ve already picked a place. I was going to ask Moon to judge it. But… Okay, we’ll go and look now.”

We went up right then and had a look. It was a good office. I just wished Ms Moon could have been there to… Well.

We went back down and Yancey called the landlady to confirm he wanted to move. He called the signwriter to get the name painted on the new office’s door.

“In gold, mind you! Not damn cheap stuff. This is the best agency in The Server.”

Meanwhile I called the moving company to arrange send some bois round to move all the furniture the next day.

“That includes the special steel cabinet, Janjan. The one we don’t go into, yeah?”

“I got that, Yancey!”

“Listen Janjan. I started this agency to bring justice for all the members who’ve had wrong done to them in the channels.”

“I believe in it, sir! I’m kuudere as well as hard-boiled.”

“That includes justice for Moon. If I find out someone did her wrong, I’m going into that cabinet.”

His voice was changing. His aspect was slipping. He spoke next in a clipped British accent, slowly and deliberately.

“If I find out that Moon left The Server because of something someone did to her, there is going to be serious trouble. If that happens, take care not to get in my road, because I will not stop for anything.”

It wasn’t Yancy the Frog Prince’s voice, it was something else. Something cold.

He smiled at me, with his mouth only, not his eyes.

Frankly it was scary. There was a light in his eyes I really didn’t like. I thought this must be the aspect Ms Moon had warned me about. The nameless killer.

Then he seemed to recollect himself. The light faded. His voice went back to American.

“Okay! Sorry ‘bout that, Janjan. I don’t like that aspect, but he has his uses. Anyway, let’s get another couple of desks and some phones and stuff arranged for the new place.”

We spent the rest of the morning sorting out our move, then we went for lunch at the corner diner. While we were eating I saw Yancey looked blue, and I guessed he was remembering times he went there with Ms Moon.

“Janjan, there’s something I need to do. I need you to come with me.”

“Where to, Yancey?”

“Uptown.”

We paid the bill and caught a trolleybus up to Pink Home. Yancey took me to a modest apartment building. He punched buttons on the entry phone until he got an answer. He flannelled the member to buzz him in.

“That’s called social engineering, Janjan. It’s surprising how you can get people to do stuff just by talking the right way or wearing the right kind of clothes. You need to understand how that works”

We went to the second floor.

“This is Moon’s pad. I’ve been here before for meetings and so on. All above board, no tangles or hanky-panky, whatever you might have heard. I don’t have a key or anything.”

“How are you going to get in then, Yancey?”

I figured he wouldn’t have brought me here just to stand on the doorstep. That’s hard-boiled detective instincts. I got them.

For his answer Yancey brought out a set of lockpicks and two pairs of latex gloves. He gave a set to me.

“This isn’t legal, Janjan, but it’s ethical. I need to find out anything I can about how and why Moon disappeared. I want you to be witness that I don’t steal anything or tamper with evidence.”

“Yes. I understand. Ms Moon told me that hard-boiled detectives sometimes walk the soft edges of the law.”

“That’s exactly right.”

He fiddled with the lock and got us into the pad in a couple of minutes.

It was a typical modest 1LDK, like most members live in unless they’ve got a partner or family, or plenty of Coins. My pad is like that, only I’ve got an extra storeroom for my stock.

The place was empty. Yancey checked carefully everywhere. The only thing he found was a black beret, in a cupboard drawer. He put it to his nose and took a breath.

“This is hers, Janjan. It’s her smell. She often wore it for detecting.”

He handed it to me. He turned away and I saw him get a handkerchief from his pocket and wipe his eyes.

I took a sniff of the beret. It wasn’t like I had gone around deliberately smelling Ms Moon, but there were some times she got pretty close to me, like when she taught me how to wear a snap-brim with proper style. So I recognised her scent.

When I looked back, Yancey had composed himself.

“That’s evidence, Janjan. Put it in a bag.”

We bagged and sealed it.

“If ever I can find a way to call Moon back to The Server, I’ll need that to help me.

He turned away again and blew his nose.

“Okay, what’s the time?”

“It’s nearly three, boss.”

“What can we do for the rest of the afternoon?”

“Mr Yancey, you said you had someone in mind for a sidekick. Who is it?”

“Well, I got two. The first is VioletMist and the other is Chanmi. They were both with us on the expedition to the watery south, and I reckon they both showed qualities.”

“That’s right.”

I remembered Chanmi doing her Priestess song and dance to flummox the Kappa Bois. I couldn’t have done that.


“I was going to ask Moon if she had anyone else in mind, but now…”

“Well, boss. Is it worth trying to interview one of them today?”

He seemed to be considering it.

“Naah. I reckon we should start fresh in the morning. We'll get moved into the new office first."

We locked up and went back down. We made an appointment for the morning, to oversee the move. Then we shook and went our separate ways.

TO BE CONTINUED…


© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency: The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.3


Yancey went home to the Frog Palace. The Princess was out.

He felt drained. It had been an emotionally exhausting day, even without the physical exercise.

He decided to relax his detective aspect and become the Frog Prince once again. It would feel more homelike. He hung up his detective suit, and locked the gat in a drawer. He had a shower and put on a comfy, casual sweatsuit.

When Yancy had changed he was hit with a new wave of loss and regret. Yancy had known Moon before they started the agency. Moon and he had gambled together during his early days in The Server, when Yancy had become involuntarily estranged from Onecornchippy, and had his disastrous affair with Hexie.

Moon had been a bright spark in those dark times.

Yancy lay on a sofa and wept. He was still lying there an hour later when the Princess came home, tired but relaxed. He sat up and looked at her with red eyes.

“Yancy! You look like you’ve been crying. What’s wrong?”

“Oh Chippy, I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to find me like this. I wanted you to be happy now you’ve got Mike back.”

“Yes, yes, I’m very happy. But you’re obviously not. What’s happened?”

“Chippy, I’ve had some really bad news. Moon’s left The Server.”

“What! Really left, not just gone out for a while?”

She got out her smartphone and dropped several tracing commands.

“Oh nooo! Oh Yancy! I know how much Moon meant to you.”

Chippy enfolded Yancy in her arms and gave him a warm Platonic hug. She started to cry herself. Chippy and Moon had been good friends with each other, too.

She hugged him. He hugged her back. They tried to share and build strength.

“Yancy, let’s get some food, sit down and think about this. There must be something I can do to help.”

Chippy rang out for pizza while Yancy washed his face. She went to wash and change. He laid the table and made some salad.

When the pizza arrived, Yancy served the salad and a bottle of red wine. They sat down to eat. The food and wine began to restore their spirits.

“When did you find out?”

Yancy gave a precis of the day’s events.

“So you’re going to keep the agency going, and Janjan will help. That’s great news! You said about how Mike left The Server… Well, he’s gone away again for a while, but he’s staying a member now. His data is still live. He’s going to come back.”

She showed him the proof on her smartphone.

“That’s wonderful, Chippy! I’m so happy for you! Also, that gives me real hope I can get Moon back.”

“If there’s anything I can do to help, I will do it.”

“Really?”

“Of course really. You’re my Waifu. It goes without saying that I’m going to help and support you.”

“Thank you, thank you, Chippy! Actually, maybe you could tell me how Lt Mike came back to The Server.”

“It was Mistress Kou who did it. She told me that member data is never really lost, not even from members who Leave. It’s filed away secretly. There’s a way to summon ex-members back. It needs… Um, actually, I’m not sure I should be telling you about this. Maybe you should ask Kou directly.”

“Go to Mistress Kou?”

“She doesn’t bite, you know.”

Yancy had had dealings with various Mods including Mistress Kou. He knew she didn’t bite, even if Skyen did. However this was a pretty big thing. Yancy knew something about user data security from his IRL job. It was serious stuff.

He didn’t think he should approach Kou until he had made sure all other avenues of enquiry had been fully explored. Maybe Moon didn’t want to be found. It would be entirely wrong to summon her back purely for his own selfish needs. It might not work, and it might make her situation worse.

He decided he needed to find out as much as possible about the circumstances of Moon’s departure.

“Chippy, do you think you might be able to ring round some members? Your friends, I mean. Someone may have heard something about what happened to Moon.”

“Of course I’ll do it, Yancy. I’ll start right now.”

Yancy cleared the table and did the washing up. Chippy took her smartphone and made some calls, or sent messages. Yancy finished tidying the kitchen and brought mint tea.

“Right, Yancy. I’ve contacted everyone I can think of. So far, the word is that the last time anyone saw Moon she was going down to NSFW.”

“Hum.”

Yancy never went to NSFW unless it was absolutely necessary for some hard-boiled detective work.

The channel wasn’t all sleaze and pornos. It was a general adult entertainment district with cinemas, bars, nightclubs and restaurants, much like Soho in London or Kabukicho in Tokyo. Unlike London or Tokyo, it teemed with Catgirls.

Yancy had no objection to Catgirls. He thought they were cute and sexy. But he was a boi who bore the mark and magic of Holo the Wise-wolf, in a bite scar on his left ear.

Holo did not get on with Catgirls, not at all. If she found the scent of Catgirls on Yancy, even by an innocent accident, it was Goodnight Vienna.

Accordingly, Yancy’s policy was to avoid NSFW as much as possible. A bit of frustration was a worthwhile price to pay, to keep on the right side of the Wolf-goddess.

Moon had no such restrictions, though. Yancy knew she went to NSFW occasionally for her own reasons. He had never asked why as it wasn’t any of his business.

Now it looked like something had happened to Moon in NSFW. Yancy knew he would have to investigate.



The next day, Yancey went down to the agency office at 9 sharp and met Janjan. They were going to supervise the move into the new premises.

It took the whole morning, four quarts of coffee and 32 donuts to get everything set up properly.

Finally they got rid of the last delivery bois and bots, and surveyed their new domain. Four heavy wooden desks laid out in an n shape. Each had a green shaded lamp, a big Bakelite dial phone, and an upright typewriter.

The steel cabinet containing The Gun and certain other equipment had been reattached securely to the external wall of the building, inside the storage closet.

The smaller office room was equipped with a fold out sofa-bed, two easy chairs and a coffee table. It could be used for private consultations, or just to rack out for a night.

Everything looked good, right down to the bright gold lettering on the door’s glass panel:

The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency

Yancey got a stab of pain reading it. Would Moon ever come back?

The detectives went for lunch at the diner. Later in the afternoon, Chanmi arrived for her interview.

Yancey had met Chanmi a number of times before, in his different aspects. Most recently she had been in Yancy’s crew on the punt Noora, during the expedition to the watery south. He tried to see her with fresh eyes now.

Chanmi was a smol girl, maybe 5 feet 2 inches tall, and she had some curves. Not thicc, but definitely a doll.

Her pale skin contrasted with dark brown hair. It was straight and fell to her shoulders. Neatly cut with bangs, it looked like a helmet, framing her pleasant, even features.

She wore a dark blue sweater, which had the soft collar of a grey polo shirt peeping out. Black slacks and black Adidas sports shoes. A black nylon shoulder bag slung across from left to right. There was a red beret pushed towards the back of her head, and a pair of mirrorshades perched in front.

“Please take a seat, Ms Chanmi. Would you like some coffee, or a glass of water?”

“Water, please.”

She sat down and crossed her left leg over her right knee in a relaxed way. Janjan got a glass of water for her, then sat back at his own desk, on Yancey’s right.

“Here’s my resumé, Mr Yancey.”

Yancey made out like he was reading it carefully, but in fact he was surreptitiously observing Chanmi’s behaviour. She looked around the office in a curious but polite way. Situational awareness. A plus.

“You’re American, right?”

“Yes.”

“It says here you speak Vietnamese.”

“My parents are from Vietnam. I’m bilingual.”

“Can you speak any French?”

“No, I learned some Spanish at school but I’ve never been to France.”

“Any foreign languages are good. I speak some Japanese. My other main aspect is fluent in French but I don’t speak it.”

Yancey wanted to find reasons to take Chanmi on because he was desperate to get some girl intuition into the agency. He had no other prospects except VioletMist, and she already had a good job.

He already thought Chanmi had good qualities, but he was a bit worried Chanmi wasn’t going to be hard-boiled or kuudere enough. He was vaguely thinking she could become a French film noir detective, based in Saigon in the late 40s, maybe, but then she would need to speak French. So that was out the window.

Maybe a hard-boiled gun runner operating out of Spanish North Africa during the Second World War? How would the mirrorshades fit into that, though?

He wished again that Moon was around to help.

He thought he should discuss it with Janjan. He passed him the resumé.

Fact was, Yancey tended to operate on gut instinct rather than a carefully planned methodology of structured interviewing. It was the hard-boiled way.

“Okay, I got a few questions. Do you mind carrying?”

“Carrying what, Mr Yancey?”

“A gat.”

She looked puzzled.

“I mean a gun.”

“If it was a small one it would be alright.”

“Ever shot before?”

“I’ve shot with airguns, at summer festivals. I’m pretty good. I’ve won a lot of cute stuffed toys.”

“Hm.”

“Do I have to shoot people in this job?”

“No, in fact we try very hard not to. We’re not soldiers. But it’s obligatory to carry, or you can’t get the full hard-boiled aspect. And if you carry, you gotta be ready to use it to protect yourself.”

“What’s it like, working here, Mr Yancey? What would I do in my first week? What would I need to learn to become permanent? What are the three most important things?”

Yancey was taken aback but also impressed that Chanmi was being proactive about the interview.

“The first thing we would do is get you properly hard-boiled. You do that by reading and watching some training materials we’ve got. Janjan, what would you start with?”

“I had Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon first, and I found The Big Sleep and Kiss Me Deadly helped me a lot too.”

“Also you need better clothes.”

“But I like these clothes!”

“That’s as maybe, but they aren’t hard-boiled enough.”

“Um, boss, they’re a bit cyberpunk…”

“What’s cyberpunk?”

“It’s kinda hard-boiled with more computers.”

“Oh. Right. Well...”

“But she would have to lose the grey shirt. It’s got to be black, or really radical colours. And get a black sweater or leather jacket. The red beret works. Red and black and mirrorshades. Have you got implants, Chanmi?”

“Um... Mr Janjan?”

Chanmi thought that was a bit of a personal question. She glanced down at her chest. She thought it looked fine as it was, the way Goddess had made her. No-one had ever said anything bad.

“Sorry, Dollface, I didn’t mean that. I meant computer implants.”

Janjan tapped his head.

“Oh! I see. No, nothing like that.”

“It’s okay. You can be an old school deck jockey. You’ll need a modified Ono-Sendai, or maybe a Sandbenders.”

“Where will I get one of those?”

“You’re on an electrical engineering course according to your CV. You can ask some friends to craft up something. If it looks the part, once you get the rest of the aspect it’ll all come together for you.”

“Janjan, if she’s gonna be cyberpunk, the normal reading list won’t be much use, will it?”

“She can do some of that, to get the fundamentals, and I’ll recommend some classic cyberpunk stuff.”

“Alright. I can see how a computer expert could be useful in the agency. What else is there? Oh yes, the shoes. Trainers are no use. You need to be able to kick people. Hard.”

“I’m not much good at kicking people.”

“You will be after the training. It’s important for self-defence.”

“Well, I’ve got some combat boots.”

“Janjan?”

“Are they black?”

“Yes.”

“Very cyberpunk.”

“Yeah. The other important things are there’s a load of stuff I’ve got to tell you about the soft edges of the law, and professional ethics and so on. But for now, I want to know if you’ll sign up. You’ll be our sidekick, and it’ll be full time if you want it. 20 Clams an hour plus expenses.”

“What’s a Clam?”

“A Coin. For you, a Treat. You’ll want to be paid digitally if you’re gonna be a cyberpunk detective.”

Chanmi thought about it. It sounded like it might be dangerous, but if she went cyberpunk, she could get some high-tech armoured clothing. So it would be OK.

“Don’t you want me to be interviewed by Ms Moon?”

Yancey looked glum.

“Moon’s gone. As in Gone gone. Left The Server entirely.”

“Oh nooo! Mr Yancey, I admired Ms Moon a lot. Why did she leave?”

“That’s the first case you’ll be on. We’re going to find out why Moon left The Server, and if we can, we’ll bring her back.”

“Count me in!”

“That’s the spirit, babe. Okay, to start this right, we gotta drink to our association.”

He got a pint of rye out of his desk drawer. Janjan got three glasses from the kitchenette, and a jug of water.

Yancey found something else in the drawer. It had been hidden behind the whiskey bottle. It looked like a small fat plastic toy gun, but it was real. Heavy and cold to touch. There was a low profile clip-on holster with a spare magazine, too.

“What’s this, Janjan?”

He passed the gat over. Janjan checked it was safe. There were no bullets in it.

“Glock 26. It’s got a 10 round magazine and shoots 9mm Parabellum. Nice rod. Very cyberpunk.”

“That’s for you, Chanmi.”

Chanmi accepted it with a degree of reluctance. She thought she would get used to it by doing the training programme. For now, she put it into her satchel. It was safe enough without bullets.

Yancey poured the rye and put a bit of water in, for Chanmi’s sake. The three detectives clinked their glasses. They drank the whiskey and felt it set their stomachs alight. Their brains began to operate on new wavelengths.


TO BE CONTINUED…


© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency: The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.4


Yancey told Janjan to take me to the department store and get me kitted out properly. We planned to meet up at the Scarlet Cathedral at 7.

Janjan was a real gent in his way, though he did keep saying things like doll and babe, which was a bit patronising. When we had been in the boat together, he always said Ms Chanmi. I guessed it was hard-boiled behaviour, and I would understand more after doing the induction course. Besides, I was his kouhai now, so I had to put up with it.

I got me some tailored but loosish black corduroys, two black T shirts, and a black polo neck sweater. Since that was a fairly tight fit, I got some low profile sports underwear in black too. I looked pretty slick.

Then I got a black ballistic kevlar-nylon jacket with an anti-stab mesh woven into it. The jacket was a bit heavy, but it felt safe. It would stop a knife or a pistol bullet.

It had velcro patches on the chest and across the back, where you could attach a logo or whatever.

I got the assistant to whizz up a patch reading MPY for the front, and KUUDERE for the back, and another set reading TSPD on the front and OFFICIAL on the back. All of them in hi-vis reflective white.

I put the MPY and KUUDERE patches on, and admired myself in the fitting room mirror. I looked cool and badass. I felt like I could walk the walk in these duds. I clipped the gun holster into my waistband high on my left hip under the jacket. The little Glock gun fit my hand well. I put it into the holster and checked I could get it out easily.

I kept my Adidas sneakers for the moment, because there wasn’t time to go home for my combat boots. I crammed my old stuff into my satchel. When I came out of the changing rooms, Janjan was chatting up the shopgirl. But he stopped as soon as he saw me, and gave a whistle.

“Get you, you gun moll! Moxie out the wazoo!”

I didn’t know what that meant but judging by the general tone it was a compliment. I smiled and put my mirrorshades on.

We went down to the Scarlet Cathedral.

Yancey was there before us. He had lit some candles. I never knew he was religious, but maybe it was the impact of losing Ms Moon.

We sat in a pew and he gave me a box of bullets. Janjan showed me how to load them into the magazines, and how to put a mag into the little gun and cock it.

It had three different safety catches, so I felt pretty confident it wouldn’t go off by accident. Even so, Yancey made me take the loaded bullet out again, so the gun had a full magazine in it but it needed to be cocked before it would fire.

“I didn’t really want you packing heat until you’ve had the chance to practice at the range. But as you’ve got the gat now, keep it and get used to the weight.”

He showed me his gun. It was a real chonker, twice as big as mine. I thought it was a bit spoopy, comparing guns in the cathedral, which is a place of peace. But there's plenty of space, so we were kind of private although a few other members were around.

“I keep this unloaded but with the mag in, until it’s needed. Don’t want any accidents.

“I said earlier we aren’t soldiers. The soldier’s rule for a heater is don’t point it at anyone you aren’t going to kill, and when you do, make sure to kill them. Our rule is different. We point our gats at people we want to scare. But sometimes, you might need to shoot, to protect yourself, so you got to learn.”

“Yes, boss!”

“Alright, we’ve got to go to NSFW and have a look around.”

“Er... Yancey, I better tell you I’m Pure.”

"Izzat so? I was Pure once, but it didn't last. Do you want to stay Pure?"

"Not forever, but I don't want to rush things."

"Okay, we'll take you in, but we'll put you in a bar I know which is just for snacks and drinks.

“Don't drink too much. Try and use your situational awareness to get a feel for the other customers. Write down your impressions in your smartphone. I'll read it later.

“Me and Janjan have to nose around for an hour or so, talk to some people. We'll come and get you when we're done.”

We went down to NSFW and dropped .iam nsfw. We went in. It's not so bad round the edges, and the north end. That's where the bar was.

Yancey obviously knew the owner. They had a bit of a chat, then the boi came over and put me in a discrete booth with a bottle of beer. He said his name was Tony, and any friend of Yancey's was a friend of his. I thanked him for his kindness.

Janjan gave me a thumbs up and the two of them went off.

I felt a bit lonely and… Well. But I tried to feel hard-boiled. I touched my pistol, and I thought if someone did come at me I would wave it at them.

I drank some beer and started to look around at the clientele. I began to realise that most of them were just ordinary members, out for some fun. I felt less nervous. I made some notes, numbers of bois and girls, ages, style of dress, what they were eating and drinking.

My phone went off. It was Mayoi, my Waifu, my Husbando, my Affinity. She’s always looked after me. I had to answer.

“Waifu? Where are you?”

“I got the job, Mayoi!”

“Oh, congratulations! But where are you now?”

“Um…”

I looked at the bar’s window. It had the name on, which I read in reverse.

Clicking from the phone. Obviously Mayoi was Googling the bar’s name.

“That’s in NSFW! Why are you in NSFW?”

“We’re working a case. Moon disappeared. We’re trying to find her.”

“That news is all over The Server now. You know where she disappeared? NSFW!”

“That’s exactly why I’m here. I’m doing surveillance.”

I wasn’t really, but I didn’t want Mayoi to think I was just sitting in a bar like a lemon.

“I’m not happy with you being in NSFW, Chanmi. It’s not safe for a kuudere sidekick to be in NSFW. You’re supposed to be Pure.”

“It’s nothing to do with being kuudere, or Pure, or a sidekick or detective!”

“How do you know it isn’t?”

“How do you know it is?”

“...”

“...”

“Chanmi… I’m just worried about you.”

“I’m alright. I’ve got a gun.”

“You’ve got a gun! WTF?”

“Of course I’ve got a gun! I can’t be hard-boiled without a gat. Listen Dollface, it’s gonna be alright. I’m doing some quiet surveillance, and I’ll be home safe before you know it. Don’t wait up.”

I cut the call. I guessed I was becoming hard-boiled. I wouldn’t have said things like that to her before.

My phone rang again. Guess who? I thumbed the Accept button.

“You’re not the boss of me!”

“Chanmi…. I know that... I… I’m just worried for you…”

“...”

“Chanmi, you own your destiny. Please… Just take care. And look, if you want to be a detective... Do your best! Be a great detective!”

“...”

Mayoi clicked off. I didn’t know how I felt. Then I realised. I felt a rush of love for Mayoi, who had always protected and helped me.

Now she understood it was time for me to find my own way, and she let me slip the traces and go. But I knew she would always be behind me, anxiously watching my back. My eyes brimmed with tears. I felt such love for Mayoi, but I could not let it show. Not right now.

I took another sip of beer. I tried to project confidence and toughness. I guess that’s the mystery of kuudere, and hard-boiled. What is going on inside, and how much of the cool exterior is real, or a front.



I finished my call with Chanmi and put my phone down. My heart was stirred. I drew a deep breath and tried to centre myself.

Intellectually of course I had known it was inevitable that Chanmi would grow up and want to find her own way. Now it was happening, though, I felt the kind of pangs every parent must do, whose child is taking flight. Not that Chanmi is my child, but I’ve always had a very protective feeling towards her. I had decided I must not interfere, simply do what I could to help her, and Moon and Yancy, whom I had known a long time and had felt close to.

I went to see Mistress Kou.

“Thank you for seeing me at short notice, Mistress Kou."

“Doctor Mayoi, I will always have time for you. ”

A bot served coffee and biscuits.

“Now, I expect you did not come here on a purely social visit at this time of the evening.”

“No. Hmmm, this is going to be difficult to say. You know about Moon Potato?”

“Yes, I think by now anyone who cares about her at all knows that she has Left The Server.”

“People have Left The Server before and come back.”

“That is true. Yancy Left once, and brought himself back.”

“And you brought Lt Mike back, with the help of the Princess.”

“That is also true.”

“I want you to bring Moon back.”

“Why?”

“Because Yancey misses her. And he’s taken my Chanmi on a mission to try and find out what happened to Moon and bring her back.”

“Chanmi is an adult now. If she wants to join Yancey in his mission, it is not up to me to stop them.”

“I don’t want you to stop them directly. I want you to bring Moon back, so the mission is complete, without them putting themselves into possible danger.”

“It is not as easy as that, I am sorry to say.”

“It wasn’t difficult to bring back Lt Mike.”

“It was far harder than you think. I had to wrestle with my conscience. Although I believe I made the right decision, it was still morally repugnant to me.”

“How is that?”

“I will tell you this in strict confidence. No member of The Server ever truly leaves. There are always data records which define them, even in their absence. These are deeply buried, and not accessible except by special searches.

“That is a feature designed to prevent even me, the Mistress of The Server, from invading the privacy of members and, essentially, manipulating them.”

“But you did this in the case of Lt Mike.”

“Yes. I did. However, that was a very unusual situation. We had to find out about the Kappa in the watery south. There was no way of doing it except a boat expedition. If the expedition was attacked, there would be nine members’ lives at risk.

“The only escape route was by air, and The Server had no access to a suitable Search and Rescue helicopter except for Lt Mike’s Life From Above..

“Worse, the expedition was actually fairly well armed. In the case of a pitched battle I am practically certain that Yancy’s unnamed aspect would have been triggered. He would have taken tactical control of the situation. That would have led to a terrible massacre of the Kappa.”

“I don’t know anything about this unnamed aspect.”

“I only know some rumours, and the facts of a couple of incidents. The case of Saki’s disappearance, and the way he helped Skyen/Holo to deal with the White Wolf.

“What about them?”

“I will not tell you the details. Believe me that those incidents show that the unnamed aspect is totally ruthless, and prone to displays of excessive though highly directed violence, once he is launched on a mission.”

“Hmmm. That’s not someone to have as an enemy.”

“Indeed not. It is also someone who can be morally dangerous to have as a friend. He may solve your problem in a way you would never have wished.”

“I understand.”

“There is another point. Yancy himself is dismayed by his killer aspect. He fears its re-emergence. One of the reasons he came to The Server, was to escape its influence.”

“He sounds a bit like Jekyll and Hyde.”

“Yes. Now, I have got a bit off the topic in my explanation. My key point is that Moon’s departure, though sad and regrettable, is not a sufficient reason to carry out the processes needed to summon her back.”

“But everyone who knew Moon wants her to come back!”

“Even so, we must wait for the detectives to find out why she Left. Perhaps she does not want to come back.”

“Mistress Kou, I understand now, why you must refuse my request. I am sorry to have troubled you.”

“It was no trouble, Doctor Mayoi. Thank you for coming to see me. I too miss Moon, and hope for her eventual return. As things stand, however, it must come about without my intervention.”

...

I sat in the bar, watched the other customers, and nursed my beer. When eventually I had finished it, Tony brought a second bottle. I thanked him by name. I was pleased I remembered it.

He smiled at me, and it looked like he wanted to stay and talk. I would have liked to talk with him, but the place was getting busy and he had to go and serve.

I realised that his ability to read the room and understand when someone needed another drink, or wanted to talk, was a kind of situational awareness.

I got back to studying the clientele. Even if Yancey’s task was only a time filler, I was determined to do it as well as I could.

Amazing how we can feel alone in the middle of crowds.

It was two hours and 11 minutes after Janjan and Yancey had gone off that they returned.

I had stretched out two bottles of beer pretty well. It’s no good going on surveillance and getting drunk. You have to blend in with the environment, though, or you’ll be spotted.

They joined me in my booth.

“Hey, Dollface, thanks for waiting for us. Sorry we took so long.”

“Did you find anything, boss?”

“Not much. Some people saw Moon wandering around. No-one saw her go anywhere specific, or talk to anyone special. We dropped some Coins in the right places. Something may turn up over the next few days.

“Okay, good work, Chanmi. Let’s get out of here and get some food.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/11/30 10:38:18


I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.5

For a week after the trawl through NSFW, Yancey and Janjan spent their time following up leads on Moon. Despite their best efforts, the trail went cold.

Chanmi finished her basic training, a diet of hard-boiled fiction in prose and film format, plus two seminal Cyberpunk trilogies; Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, followed by Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties.

She also spent hours at the range, and became a good shot with her toy-like Glock 26. Yancey went to watch. He was surprised at how well the new girl had taken to her gat. He thought Chanmi was probably too smol to handle a shotgun, though.

Yancey himself could not shoot yet, due to his damaged hand. He read Chanmi’s observations from her time in Tony’s bar. He was impressed at her sense of numerical detail.

Chanmi’s Sandbenders deck arrived, a mottled aluminium clamshell design, cast by hand from empty drink cans picked up on the beach. It had a super hi-res touch screen, a configurable keyboard, and technical specs which Chanmi reeled off with awe. Yancey and Janjan couldn’t understand the details, but they got the general idea it was a red hot piece of kit. Chanmi settled down to rewrite the operating system to her own preferences.

The day arrived when Yancey had to make an unwelcome decision about the Moon Potato case. He got to the office early with a can of coffee and a bag of donuts. When the others arrived he had them sit down with refreshments, then stood up to make a formal announcement.

“Janjan, Chanmi, I’ve got something to say.”

They looked at him with some surprise. They had found Yancey was a fairly laid back boss and usually didn’t tend to make these kind of formal speeches.

“First, I want to thank you both for your hard work over the past week.

“Chanmi, you’ve got yourself hard-boiled, and I reckon you’re right on the numbers with your Sandbenders. So that’s great. Well done!

“Janjan, you’ve shown all kinds of moxie following up the leads on Moon’s last night in NSFW. But, we have to accept that the trail has gone cold. From now on, all we can do is hope for a lucky break.

“I’m not ever gonna give up that hope, but I can’t afford to run this agency on hope alone. We need to take on some real cases. We’re going back to full time detecting.

“First, we’re going to take a break, though. I’ve been meaning to visit the Garden Fairy Yura so we’re going down there. She’s asked me for some help down her neck of the woods, trouble with snails is what I heard.

"We’ll get a lot of sea bathing and relaxing done. Fishing if you want it. Loads of good food, and there’s Japanese style onsen baths in the area too.”

It sounded great.

“Only thing is, it’s gonna be a bit of a busman’s holiday. I’ve been asked to escort a young’un down there.”

“Who is it, boss?”

“Maddie the Freckle. She’s only 12. Her parents let her come to The Server under the supervision of Ms Wallace, who’s our landlord, so we got to keep on the right side of her.

“Ms Wallace found Maddie’s a bit of a handful. She got her to behave by promising a trip to the seaside, only now Ms Wallace can’t take her, and she wants me to take Maddie off of her hands and take her to visit the Garden Fairy. I wanted to go anyway, so...”

None of them had met Maddie. She had a reputation as a lively and intelligent girl, very self-willed for a 12-year old. You wouldn’t like to use terms like “minx” or “hellion” until she grew to a teenager. Hopefully not then... But anyway, surely three hard-boiled detectives could manage to deal with one 12-year-old… couldn’t they?

These thoughts ran through Chanmi and Janjan’s heads, but not through Yancey’s. He had three younger girl cousins IRL and had always got on well with them. From Yancey’s perspective this was going to be another personal protection job, with the added fun of being an uncle.

“Alright, pack for a long weekend in the sub-tropical south-west. Bring a bathing suit but don’t forget your gat. We’ve gotta be hard-boiled and ready, in case something happens.”

The next morning the three detectives met at the Central Station, toting their baggage. They waited at the meeting point for Ms Wallace and Maddy. It got close to the departure time for the train before Ms Wallace and her charge appeared.

Maddy was a smol, pretty girl under five feet tall, with pale skin and shoulder length wavy auburn hair. She hadn’t begun to get her teenage growth yet, and seemed very much a child. She had on a yellow one piece dress, with blue flower print, a straw sunhat, and blue high-top sneakers. Yancey thought the outfit looked a bit cold for late autumn in The Server, but they would be in the sunny south-west soon enough. Maddy was pulling a spinner suitcase. Cabin baggage size, it looked big beside her.

Ms Wallace started to make introductions, but Yancey broke in;

“My apologies, Ms Wallace. I reckon we’ll have to get acquainted on the train, we gotta hurry to get our seats. C’mon, Maddy…”

Janjan took Maddy’s suitcase, Chanmi took her hand, and they all ran to get on board before the train would leave. “Wheee!” squeaked Maddy, excited at the sudden rush.

Yancey was determined to spoil everyone on this busman’s holiday, including himself, so he had booked a first-class compartment. They piled in, stowed their bags on the overhead luggage racks, and sat down just as the whistle went to announce the train’s departure.

The locomotive pulled, and the couplings clanked as the strain was transmitted all along the train. Once out of the station the express began to accelerate. Soon the scenery was whizzing past. The atmosphere quieted down, and Yancey thought he had better start to entertain his young charge.

“Hey, Maddy, I reckon we ought to get properly acquainted, seeing as how I’m looking after you for now. My name’s Yancey.”

“Hi, Yancey. Ms Wallace said you’re a detective. Is that really so?”

“It sure is, I'm a hard-boiled detective, and these two members are detectives too...” Yancey gestured to encourage them to speak.

“Hi Maddy, my name’s Janjan. I’m an associate detective.”

“Hi Maddy, I’m Chanmi. I’m a cyberpunk sidekick.”

“Have you all got guns?”

“Yeah, we got them, Maddy, but guns aren’t toys, so we’re not getting them out now. What would you like to play on the train?

“I don’t know.”

“Would you like to play a card game?” Yancey got a fresh pack out his pocket.

“I don’t know any, except for Snap.”

“We can play Snap, if you like, or I can teach you a game called Seven Card Whist.”

“Yeee, I want to learn a new game!”

Yancey gave the deck to Chanmi to shuffle, because he couldn’t do it with his hand in a brace. He set up the folding table. He explained the rules, which were pretty simple. Maddy was a bright girl. She got it quickly, and soon was playing as well as the rest of them. The four of them played the game until lunch service was announced.

They went to the dining car. Yancey let Maddy order for herself from the menu. She only wanted ice cream. He said she could have as much ice cream as she wanted, but you have to have the meal in the right order, so they all got a starter, then a main course, then Maddy had ice cream at the end. She was too full to eat a lot of it. The adults drank a bottle of wine between them.

“Okay, Maddy, you got any special things you want to do while we’re at the seaside?”

“I want to be a mermaid.”

“I know someone who can help with that.”

“Who is it?”

“I got a friend who’s a fairy. She knows someone who knows someone. It’ll take a few days to arrange, but there’s lots of stuff to do apart from being a mermaid. You’ll have a load of fun while I get it sorted out.”

Ms Wallace had warned Yancey about Maddy’s ambition, so he had called ahead to ask the Garden Fairy Yura’s advice. The Chuunibyo Detective said it would be possible with the help of a sea-witch. Yancey anticipated a couple of dismal evenings wandering the shore in search of a sea-witch, but he was pretty confident of finding one. A lot of crazy stuff went on in the south-west of The Server.

After coffee, they went back to their compartment. Yancey explained where they were going to stay, a Japanese ryokan -- a traditional style inn -- for the first night. After this, Yancey planned to move to a western beachfront hotel. He explained the basics of staying in a ryokan, because the others had not had this experience, and it’s very different to a western hotel.

The train soon reached the terminus. They got a porter to help with their luggage. He loaded them into a taxicab which took them to the car rental office. Yancey had booked a big Buick sedan.

Janjan drove. They took the coastal highway, which crossed a series of bridges along the chain of islands. Two hours later they arrived at the end of the road. The island of Cay Largo, where the Garden Fairy Yura made her home.

Yancey felt it was too late to intrude on the Garden Fairy. They went straight to their Japanese ryokan. It was halfway up the mountain in the centre of the island, and had its own hot spring baths.

The inn was set in formal gardens. The stone approach path had been freshly washed for their arrival. They were greeted with great politeness by the proprietress. She introduced their maid, Kaori-san, who was pleased to find Yancey spoke Japanese, even if he wasn’t very fluent. Kaori-san led the way to their rooms.

Janjan shared a room with Yancey. Chanmi and Maddy had the adjoining room, separated with sliding screen doors. The floors had tatami mat floors, where you had to walk with bare feet or socks, not even slippers. The only furniture was low tables and seat backs which let you sit on the floor and lean backwards. There were no beds. Kaori-san would come to lay out their futon beds after dinner.

Yancey gave Kaori-san the traditional present of food from his native country. He had brought a set of six assorted donuts, like he would have got from the corner diner for a hard-boiled breakfast, but these ones came from a department store and were packed in a fancy box.

To relax after the travelling they went to one of the public rooms, and had Japanese tea and sweets, served by maids at the low tables where you sat on the floor. Chanmi could sit in seiza position. She showed Maddy how to do it. Maddy, who had the flexibility of her youth, managed it easily. Yancey could have done it if he changed his aspect to the Frog Prince, but he thought that might upset Maddy, who was getting used to his American detective. So he sat cross-legged, same as Janjan.

There were some great views to the south and west of the Cay. It was covered with lush vegetation, a verdant carpet dotted with small groups of buildings. Yancey could see a marina in the bay, and determined to hire a motor cruiser. There were a few small islands in the near distance a few miles offshore. Yancey breathed deeply of the clean air, and heaved out a happy sigh.

“This is the life!”

Even though hard-boiled detectives are basically city bois and girls, it was good to get out to the sticks once in a while, just for a holiday.

“Boss, what’re we going to do tonight?”

“We’ll have dinner, then we’ll go for a good soak in the onsen baths, then an early night. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for nightlife after we move to the western style hotel tomorrow.”

“I wanna go dancing, Yancey!”

“Course you can, Maddy. I wanna dance with you for one!”

“When will I become a mermaid?”

“Don’t fret. I’m working on that tomorrow. It’ll take a couple of days to fix up the details. You’ll have plenty of time to be a mermaid before we go back.”

“Wheee!”

Maddy got up and raced around the room.

Kaori-san came to tell them dinner was ready. They went back to their rooms, where the tables had been drawn together and a kaiseki feast for four was laid. Beer and sake for the adults. Melon soda for Maddy. Knives, forks and spoons were discreetly provided for those who could not use chopsticks, but they all could.

Yancey made play at pouring the drinks for everyone in best host club style. They raised their glasses to toast their holiday. They tucked into the meal, which was a work of art for the eyes as much as for the palate.

Maddy turned her nose up at the grilled fish.

“What’s this?”

“Mackerel. It’s really good.”

“Don’t like fish!”

“You will when you’re a mermaid.”

“Not a mermaid yet…”

“All the more for me, then!” Yancey went for Maddy’s mackerel with his chopsticks.

“No! Mine!” Maddy started to eat the mackerel, which was beautifully flavoured from a marinade and charcoal grilling.

Mindful of bos’ appetites, the inn had provided extra side dishes for Yancey and Janjan. They shared these with the girls, and by the end of the meal everyone was satisfied.

Kaori-san entered gracefully. With elegant movements she cleared the dishes, and brought green tea and sweets. They relaxed and began to digest the meal.

“Right. Next is the onsen. Who has been in one before?”

It turned out no-one had. Yancey channelled the knowledge from his baseline, who lived in Tokyo and went to onsen as often as possible.

“Okay. There are separate bathing spaces for bois and girls. Maddy, you’ll go with Chanmi. When you go in there is a changing room where you can leave your clothes and get towels, and you can have a shave and so on.

“A shave, boss?”

“Sorry, I’m thinking of the bois’ side. I’ve never seen the girls’ side. There’ll be somewhere you can fix your hair and stuff like that.”

“Alright. You need a smol towel, which you take into the bathroom and you wash with it. The larger towel is to dry yourself, so don’t take it into the bath. You just grab it when you go out of the actual bath room. There’ll be individual shower places along the wall. You sit there and wash and rinse yourself thoroughly before you go into the pools. Rinse out your smol towel really well, cause you need that to preserve your modesty. At least that’s how it’s done on the bois’ side.

“There should be at least two pools, a cool and a hot. But they may both be pretty hot, so be careful. You have to be nude in the pool, but you can put your towel on your head.

“It may not be exactly like that on the girls’ side, so just do the same as the other bathers if they’re Japanese.

“Janjan, you can follow my lead. And Maddy, don’t go running around because the floor can be slippery and you might get hurt.”

“Yes, Yancey.”

Everyone needed to change into yukata robes. Chanmi and Maddy went into their room and closed the screens. Janjan and Yancey changed on their side.

Janjan and Chanmi’s yukata fit them perfectly. Yancey’s was too smol, the same problem as always, and Maddy’s was too chonky. Chanmi tucked it up at the waist, so Maddy would not trip over the skirt.

“There. Now we look like proper Japanese princesses!”

They went to the entrance to the onsen and planned to meet there again in an hour. Then they went into the separate bois’ and girls’ bath halls.



45 minutes later, shampooed, showered, soaked, steamed, and shaved, Yancey and Janjan came out of the bois’ baths. They felt the cleanest they had been for a long time.

Yancey made a beeline for the water machine and drank a glass. He then went to the vending machine and bought two cans of beer, giving one to Janjan.

“You need a drink after the onsen. Have some water first, though, or you’ll get drunk real quick.”

They sat in some easy chairs, popped open the cans and drank a deep draft.

The girls were out in another 10 minutes. They looked as pink as steamed prawns. Maddy seemed a bit wobbly, so Yancey made her sit down and gave her cold water. The heat of the bath affected you more if you were smol. He offered Chanmi a beer, which she refused, thinking she had drunk enough at dinner.

When Maddy was feeling better they went back to their rooms. Kaori-san had rearranged the furniture, and laid out the four futon. All was traditional, down to the smol pillows partly filled with dry soba beans, which are surprisingly comfortable.

Maddy was sleepy after a long, exciting day, so Chanmi took her and they went to bed. Yancey wanted to stay up and look at the Moon for a while. It was almost at the full. He popped another can of beer. Janjan didn’t want anything.

“Boss, what’s the deal with making Maddy into a mermaid?”

“Well, I got a line on it from the Garden Fairy. Tomorrow I’ll sort out her snail problem, and Yura will show me the place to go to search for a sea-witch.”

“Will you need help?”

“I dunno. We’ll see what Yura says. I may need you and Chanmi to look after Maddy. She can be a handful if she gets excited, Ms Wallace said.”

Janjan yawned.

“Say, Janjan, you don’t have to sit up just for me. I’ve got the Moon for company.”

“Okay, goodnight then, boss.”

Yancey sipped his beer and toasted the Moon silently. His feelings towards her were complex. He had always loved her beauty, but she had become a danger signal to him through various events in The Server. Now he was conflicted.

“I don’t know whether to love you or be afraid of you. Or both, maybe. Like life.”

Eventually he poured the rest of the can off the edge of the veranda as a libation. He brushed his teeth and turned in. Janjan was already asleep.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.6

The next morning Yancey was up early. Janjan got up too. They slid the shoji screen open a finger’s width to check on the girls. They were still fast asleep.

“Let’s leave a note and go to the onsen again. I want to get my clams’ worth.”

Janjan agreed, so off they went, and spent 45 minutes having a good scrub up and a soak. When they got back to their room, they found Chanmi and Maddy were gone to the onsen, and Kaori-san was putting away the futons.

She bid Yancey good morning in Japanese, asked if he had slept well, if everyone had enjoyed the onsen, and explained she would bring breakfast in half an hour.

Yancey thanked her for her care, and asked about the weather.

“Today will be fine and warm, Yancey-sama.”

Kaori-san opened the blinds, put fresh flowers in the tokonoma alcove, and went to see about breakfast. Yancey decided to eat in his yukata, and change into a lightweight linen suit afterwards. He needed his Colt M1911A1 gat to maintain his hard-boiled aspect. It was a chonky rod, difficult to hide under a T shirt.

He sat on the veranda to look at the view. He was lost in contemplation of the beauty of nature when he felt something gently patting his head, a hand probably, then a light kiss on his left ear!

He only knew two members in The Server who were likely to go for his ears, and one of them bit. This must be the other one. Yancey grabbed, and got a gentle hold of a wrist and a pale hand, the nails painted. There was a girlish giggle behind him.

“Yancey-kun…uwu... It is me, Yura...!”

He dropped his hold on her arm and turned round. "I knew it must be you."

The Garden Fairy’s arms and upper torso were leaning out of a quadrangular patch of shimmering air. There was nothing to see of the rest of her body. It was cut off like a stage magician’s trick. Obviously Yura was using her magic portal for a sneaky visit.

Like any normal member, Yancey liked getting his ears kissed in the course of love play. He hoped he could find someone to exchange such kisses with regularly. Yura wasn’t ever going to be that person, though. She had her own romantic interests which did not include Yancey, besides which, his personal code of honour ruled out what he called “tangles” with colleagues.

The actual reason Yura liked to kiss Yancey’s ear was because Skyen/Holo had bit it once, at a moment of existential crisis, and left a minor enchantment in the scar. The Garden Fairy was a Chuunibyo detective specialising in sorcerous cases. She liked kissing the bitten ear to taste the magic.

Janjan came over to see what was going on, He did a double-take when he saw the sprightly fairy.

“Ms Yura. Great to see you again.”

They had been comrades in various battles against haunted spirit objects including a car and a typewriter.

“Hello, Janjan-kun. You are looking well.”

Yura gave Janjan a hug, patted Yancey’s head again, and winked.

“I must go, uwu… I am looking forwards to seeing you later, bois… … ...”

She faded out like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

The detectives looked at each other.

“Janjan, I reckon the Garden Fairy is a law unto herself. I guess we’ll see her down at her crib later today.”

The girls came back from the onsen. Good morning greetings were exchanged, and Yancey told them about the Garden Fairy’s magical visit. Maddy was buzzing with excitement to hear this, and very hungry.

Kaori-san brought in breakfast, a simpler meal than last night’s dinner, but with the added fun that each setting had its own tiny hibachi grill with a plump fresh sardine on it, waiting to be cooked right at the table. She laid out everything with elegant, deft motions, lit the hibachis, and left them to enjoy the meal.

“You don’t get fresher cooked fish than that!”

The sardines had been gutted, cleaned, and slathered with a miso-based dressing. Artfully, a beautiful sheen of blue-black and silver scales peeped through the marinade. They looked good enough to eat raw, and would have been. The smoke and smell as they grilled set everyone’s appetite alight. Maddy tore into the hot flesh like it was the best thing she had ever tasted. Maybe it was.

After breakfast, it was time to change, pack, and get on to the next part of the holiday. Yancey had booked rooms at a western style beachfront hotel called the Belair.

They loaded all the luggage in the back of the Buick. Janjan drove down to Ocean Drive, the main street in a small town called Tarpon View, where several hotels in Speedline Moderne architecture faced the warm sea across a beachfront park full of palm trees. They had three rooms; Yancey’s, Janjan’s, and a double room to be shared by Chanmi and Maddy.

“Now look, girls, I know it’s not fair that you have to share while us bois get our own rooms. But you gotta understand it’s important for safeguarding. Maddy’s too young to have a room by herself, and it doesn’t work for her to share a room with a boi. I’m sorry, but it’s got to be this way.”

“I like sharing with Chanmi!”

Chanmi put a brave face on it and smiled warmly. Yancey thought the sooner he got Maddy her mermaid adventure the better. It was all very well to call this a busman’s holiday but it wasn’t fair to make Chanmi a baby-sitter just because she was the girl on the team. She deserved some grown-up fun of her own, if that’s what she wanted.

“Okay. Now, one of the reasons we came down here is to visit the Garden Fairy Yura. So let’s go and see her now. She’s expecting us for lunch.”

Maddy was hugely excited at the prospect of meeting the Garden Fairy.

“Yaaay! I’ve always wanted to meet a real Fairy!!!”

Yancey rang ahead to warn Yura they were on their way. They piled into the car and drove a short distance along the coastal highway, guided by the Server Positioning System in Chanmi’s Sandbenders, until they reached Yura’s village, which was called Bahama.

The Garden Fairy’s house was a rambling L-shaped bungalow with extensive verandas, a sea view, and a huge garden planted with many decorative and edible varieties. She greeted them at the car gate and showed Janjan where to park.

Maddy leapt out of the car as soon as it stopped. She ran towards the Fairy, and skidded to a halt suddenly, as the situation hit her. People become members of The Server because it’s a place where dreams can come true. When it happens, sometimes the reality of the dream is overwhelming. So it was now.

The Fairy was a real fairy. She was wearing a one-piece armless shorty dress in pale blue, cut low on the back to give freedom to her wings, and dark blue flat pumps. Her hair was auburn, full, wavey and fell below her shoulders. Yura was smol, about the same height as the little girl.

As Maddy’s jaw dropped Yura her a big smile, and opened her arms in welcome. Maddy ran up and they shared a tight hug, breaking apart to hold hands.

“Maddy, little one, uwu, would you like to see around my garden before lunch?”

“Oooh! There are so many flowers!”

“Would you like a floral crown, Maddy-chan?”


“What’s a floral crown, Yura?”

“A special crown of flowers. Only fairy princesses are allowed to wear them.”

“OOOOH!”

“Please would you carry the trug?”

She gave Maddy a small basket made of very thin wooden planks, with a curved wood handle. It looked almost like a tiny, round ended clinker built boat.

The Garden Fairy let Maddy run round the gardens to the flowers she liked the most. The detectives helped pick them in moderate quantities. Yura named them and explained their seasons and, if they were edible, what fruit they would develop.

She pointed out the damage that snails caused, and found a few tiny frogs for Yancey. He wasn’t really impressed, being a hard-boiled detective, but he knew if he assumed the aspect of Yancy, the Frog Prince, it would be a lot more interesting.

During this peaceful interlude, Yancey introduced Chanmi to Yura, and explained how Janjan was now an associate in the agency. Yura congratulated him warmly, and gave Chanmi a hug and a sisterly kiss.

Eventually they sat at a shaded table, so Yura could weave their flower collection into a colourful crown and fit it to Maddy’s head. Everyone took photos. Then it was time for lunch.

The Garden Fairy enjoyed having guests. She had a laid-back style involving plenty of home-cooked food from traditional American cuisine. Waldorf salad, grilled marinated chicken with baked potatoes, and a Cay Lime pie to follow. Lemonade to drink. It was quite a serious blowout following their last two Japanese meals, and everyone felt sleepy afterwards.

Janjan excused himself, lay down in the shade of the veranda on a chaise longue, put his snap-brim over his face, and fell asleep. Chanmi and Maddy took nets and went searching for bugs. This left the Garden Fairy and Yancey to have a serious talk about things.

“Dear Yancey, I was truly sad to hear about Moon-chan Leaving The Server.”

“I gotta admit I was real broke up at first. Janjan brought me around, though. He made me realise I’ve got a duty to keep the agency going, so I can use it to help bring Moon back.”

“How is your search progressing?”

“Not good. The trail’s cold. I need a lucky break. Until then, we’ll carry on with standard detective business. But I felt I needed a vacation first.”

“You still have some bruising around the right eye…”

That was where Yancey had taken a big hit in a fight with a telephone a couple of weeks previously.

“My vision’s fine. It’s just bruising. Fade quicker in the sun down here, I reckon.”

“You can stay with me as long as you like, uwu.”

“That’s truly kind of you, Yura. Thank you. But we’ve got rooms at the Belair on Ocean Drive in Tarpon View. I reckoned it would be good to have a seafront holiday. If you want to come down for a night or two, I would be real happy to treat you to a room and dinner.”

“Yancey-kun, that’s a lovely thought, uwu. It would be nice to spend some more time with Maddy.”

“Speaking of Maddy, I want to hear your advice about how to change her into a mermaid. Ms Wallace is pretty serious about it, so I really got to get it done if I can at all.”

“Yes, I have done some research and I think I have a solution. I will explain that to you, and there is something else I must speak to you about.”

“The snails?”

“Yes…”

Yura hesitated.

“There is something else, actually. Something that worries me.”

“‘Kay, what shall we do first? I got to let you know that I can’t deal with your snails when I’m hard-boiled. That’s Yancy the Frog Prince’s talent. I’ll need to change aspect.”

“To be honest, Yancey-kun, the snails were an excuse to get you to come down here, so I could consult with you about the other matter.”

“It sounds bad, Yura.”

“I fear it may be.”

“Cough it up, Dollface. A trouble shared is a trouble halved.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.7


I wanted to organise my thoughts, which were in some degree of turmoil.

“Yancey-kun, may I offer you a cup of chamomile tea? It is very soothing…”

“Thanks, Yura, but soothing is the last thing I need when I’m hard-boiled, if you don’t mind my saying it. You give me a glass and a jug of water, I’ll mix myself a rye.”

He brought a hip flask out of a pocket.

“Would you like to join me, maybe? I can water it down well for you.”

I fetched two glasses and a jug of cool water. He mixed the drinks, making mine a lot weaker. I took a careful sip, as I am not used to strong spirits. It did not seem too strong. In fact, the hint of flavour and alcohol was refreshing and more soothing than I had expected.

“I’ve made it about 10% strong, that’s like a weak wine, so you’ll be fine if you just sip it.”

“Uwu!”

“You know what, Yura, this kinda reminds me of a time I gave a drink to Holo. It was gin and water, half and half. She liked it. Said it tasted of the forest. She gobbled it down.”

“The Wise-wolf is known for her strong appetites. Why did you have gin, Yancey-kun?”

“Medicinal. Holo was injured. Gin is an ancient medicine. It’s a long story. I’ll tell it one time if you like, but maybe you want to tell me your story first.”

I understood that Yancey in his hard-boiled way was trying to help me calm my spirit. I thought how strange it was, that a rough boi would have that sensitivity. Then I thought that this was Kuudere. A warm heart concealed by a cool front.

“Thank you, Yancey-kun, uwu. I would love to hear the story of Holo and the gin one day. For now, I think I must tell you why I need your help.”

He watched my face as I began to tell the story.

“For several months I have sensed a different atmosphere in the Cays, particularly around Cay Largo. People seem nervous, distracted.”

“What kind of nervous?”

“It is hard to say exactly. They seem worried when they used to be carefree, but there is no specific reason to explain it. It is some kind of spiritual malaise.”

“What’s a malaise, Yura?”

“I mean unhappiness, despondency, anxiety…”

“Could it be connected with the Kappa in the watery south?”

“I do not think so. One point is that the Kappa’s spiritual energy has a magical aspect to it. I have not been able to detect any magical influences. The key point is that this weird atmosphere began to manifest before there was any evidence of the Kappa.”

“You’re a detective, Yura. You know that you shouldn’t dismiss a piece of evidence without positively ruling it out.”

“Yes, you are right, Yancey-kun. Perhaps it could have been the time when the Kappa were just arriving and we were unaware of them.”

“But you don’t think so.”

“No. I do not.”

“Is this based on your instinct? Your gut feelings?”

“If you want to put it that way, yes.”

“Hard-boiled detectives believe in gut feelings, Yura.”

I was relieved that Yancey was taking me seriously. I smiled at him. I had hardly been able to believe in myself, with the lack of hard evidence. But the fact that another detective trusted me meant a lot. Even so, without any hard facts, what was there to do about things?

“Look, Yura, I want to help, but we’re city bois and girls. We can do some discreet nosing around, keep our ears to the ground, that kinda thing. We can’t get too obvious cause we’d stick out like a sore thumb.”

“I understand.”

“What we can do is to search digitally. Chanmi’s a whizz with that cyberdeck thing of hers. I’ll ask her to design some search programs to nose around the local net. See what pops up.”

“Yancey-kun! Thank you so much. I was worried you… um… would not want to help.”

“Yura, I’m Kuudere as well as hard-boiled. We’ll talk to Chanmi later, so what she can do. For now, I’d be glad to hear about the way to get Maddy turned into a mermaid. I kinda want to get her holiday done and return her to Ms Wallace before I get stuck into a new case down here.”

“Yes, Yancey-kun, uwu. I will be glad to share my research findings with you.

“I have investigated thoroughly in as many texts and sources as I could find. These range from ancient books of arcane knowledge, to interviews with some of the wiser local sea captains.

“It has been very interesting, uwu, and I have made many fascinating discoveries. I may write a monograph on the topic”

“That’s great, Yura… So... How’s it done?”

“Well, Yancey-san, I don’t know. I only know that it can be done.”

He didn’t look very pleased at that. These hard-boiled detectives are so impatient! However, I realised that if I gave him a lead, he would follow the trail by himself.

“The best way to do it is to find a sea-witch.”

“What’s a sea-witch?”

“A creature of the deep, possessed of magical powers. You must find a witch and supplicate her. If you make appropriate offerings, she may be inclined to help you.”

“Okay. Thanks Yura! That’s more like what I wanted to hear. What kind of offerings?”

Yancey took out a flip-type notebook and a pencil.

“It will depend on the individual sea-witch. They are solitary creatures, individual and often… eccentric.”

“What do you mean, eccentric, Yura?”

“Unconventional, odd, queer.”

“Hmm. D’you know any sea-witches round these parts?”

“I found a sea-captain who mentioned a name, Ursula.”

“Ursula. Right. Did this captain say what kind of stuff Ursula likes? It’s gotta be something from the human world, yeah? Something you can’t get under the sea.”

“Yes, uwu, your boi logic is impeccable. Ursula is fond of… rum.”

“My kind of sea-witch!"

“She is shy, though, uwu. You will have to wander the shoreline at dusk, and pour libations into the sea, and call upon her. She is said to haunt the bay called West Bay, between Klickan Point and Portis Head.”

“Okay, that doesn’t sound too hard.”

“You must be subtle. You must not frighten her by calling her name. You must entice her to reveal herself to you, then supplicate her name. Once you have gained her confidence, make your request.”

“Then what?”

“You must play it by ear, Yancey-kun.”

“Okay, Thanks, Dollface, this is great! I want do this tonight if I can. I need to get some rum. Where’s Janjan? I need him to drive me.”

Yancey jumped up and went to wake Janjan. I let him run around, like the impatient boi he is, uwu. I called Maddy and Chanmi to offer them tea and cake.



I felt my shoulder being shaken. I woke up, reaching for my gat. Yancey’s voice stopped me.

"It’s me, Yancey. Wake up. The Garden Fairy gave me a hot lead on a sea-witch.”

“Boss, yeah. I’m okay.” Actually I felt a bit logey, but I put on a cool front. “Right. What’s a sea-witch?”

“I’ll tell you in the car. We need to go and get some rum. Good stuff, not that cheap piss from Cuba.”

The three girls came out onto the veranda. They had a tea tray with a big pot on it, some cups and saucers, side plates, and a nice looking cake. I figured it wouldn’t do me any harm to miss those calories, after that lunch and a good nap, so I waved at them and got into the car.

We drove into the village. There was a liquor store where we managed to get three bottles, some brand I didn’t know, but Yancey said it was good stuff. He wanted a whole case.

Yancey gave the shop boi five Coins and got him to ring round the other stores on the Cay until we had found another nine bottles. He had them held for him.

We had to go to four more stores to pick up nine bottles and a wooden crate to carry them. Overall it took nearly two hours. By the time we got back to the Garden Fairy’s pad it was early evening. I was starting to get hungry again.

Ms Yura had left her gates open so I drove straight in. The girls were playing badminton. The Garden Fairy against Chanmi and Maddy. It would have been unfair except that Ms Yura was using her flight powers to get to some really difficult shuttlecocks. Maddy was giggling and running for every shot with the energy of a kid, to try and cover the whole field.

Yancey and I got out of the car. The girls stopped their game and came over.

“Step one of the plan is done, Yura.” He said. “Maddy, don’t get too excited, but tonight I’m going to try and get the stuff to let you become a mermaid.”

“Yeee!” squealed Maddy. She ran to Yancey, jumped up and hugged him. He hugged her back, put her down, and tousled her hair.

“First, let’s go back to the hotel and get some dinner. Yura, I would sure like you to come along, and stay with us overnight if you like.”

Ms Yura was amenable She packed an overnight bag quickly, and we got into the car, the girls in the back seat. There was plenty of room. It was a big old Buick with bench seats front and rear. Ms Yura and Maddy were pretty smol, and Chanmi wasn’t exactly chonky.

We had dinner at a seafood restaurant on Ocean Drive. A big plate of fruit de mer to share, followed by surf and turf with french fries and a green salad. Yancey and I didn’t drink. He needed to keep a clear head for his hopeful encounter with the sea-witch, and I was going to drive. Ms Yura and Chanmi had a couple of glasses of sparkling wine.

After dinner it was pretty dusky, and the moon was beginning to rise.

“Boss, if we’re going to do it tonight, I reckon we should go pretty soon, or it will be too dark for you to see anything.”

“You’re right, Janjan. Ms Yura, I booked a room for you but if you want to swap with Chanmi, and you’re all amenable, you could have Maddy with you. I think Chanmi wants to check out some stuff.”

He winked at Chanmi without letting Maddy see it. I figured he wanted her to have the chance for some time of her own.

“Oh please may I stay with the Fairy tonight?” Maddy pleaded.

So it was settled. The girls went back to the Belair. We got the car and drove over to West Bay.

“Here’s what needs to happen, Janjan. The sea-witch who lives in this bay is pretty shy but she likes rum. So I’m gonna walk on the shore, and offer her rum. If I can sweet-talk her and get around her, she’ll give me some magic stuff to make Maddy into a mermaid.”

I thought it sounded like an outline of a plan. But I figured none of us had been in this kind of situation before, so Yancey was going to have to use flexibility and adaptability to make it work.

“Thing is, Janjan, this Ursula is pretty shy, so you’ve got to keep the car and yourself out of sight until I’m done.”

“What if something goes wrong, boss?”

“Well, I figure a sea-witch ain’t gonna come out of the sea to chase me. If I anger her, I’ll just leave the rum and high-tail it towards you and the car.”

“Okay, boss. Good luck.”

He took the case of rum and heaved it down to the beach. I parked the car out of sight, and settled down to wait.



Yancey got himself and the rum down to the beach. It was twilight, the mysterious time when the world seems to waver and become indistinct. The time when strange things happen. There was no-one around. He took off his shoes and socks and rolled up his trouser cuffs nearly to the knee. He put a bottle of rum in his pocket, and opened another one.

Yancey was tempted to take a swig. It smelt good. But he resisted, as he needed all his limited diplomatic capabiity for the encounter to come.

He went down to the shoreline, where the waves came up onto the sand, put the heavy crate down, and walked the interface between sea and land. The warm salt water caresssed his feet. The nearly full moon shone brightly. Yancey wondered if he could depend on her for good luck, or a warning.

He took a deep breath and began his appeal.

O sea-witch! I supplicate your aid...
Accept my offering...


Yancey poured a quarter of the bottle of rum into the sea as a libation. It was a puny amount, literally a drop in the ocean, but he knew that where magic was concerned, the symbolism was more important than the reality.

Oh sea-witch! Hear my plea...
Accept my offering…


He poured some more rum. He threw a whole bottle of rum out as far as he could. It plopped into the ocean and sank.

There was a splash, a crunching sound.

Something appeared out in the waves. It was a kind of ball on a stalk. It looked like a snail’s eye, blown up to the size of a pool ball on a garden hose. There were eyelashes.

Yancey gulped. When Yura spoke about a sea-witch, he had imagined a sexy mermaid kind of being, who would have been fun to bargain with. Easy on the eye. At worst, a kind of traditional hag with a hook nose. This eye did not look it belonged to anything remotely human.

There was a voice, somewhat human-like, understandable though:

I have appeared from the depths of the ocean…


Yancey drew a deep breath and centered himself.

O mighty sea-witch, I greet you.
I am Yancey, Kuudere Detective.
May I beg to learn your name?


He poured another libation.

My name…

… … ...

Is Ursula The Gay


The voice had a burbling quality, as if it was produced from under the water. Yancey could not see a mouth. Was it magic?

Another eye on a stalk appeared. They stared at Yancey. He lifted his bottle of rum.

O mighty Ursula The Gay, I supplicate your aid...
Accept my offering…


He poured another libation. The golden fluid stained the waters briefly as it dispersed.

The sea-witch spoke:

I am a shy sea-witch...


There’s no-one here.
It’s just you and me and the moonlight, Ursula.
And a case of rum.
It’s Mount Gay Black Barrel.


Romantic!


If you want to put it like that.


Yancey was worried he was getting out of his depth.

How may I aid you, Mr Sailor, uwu?


The voice was coquettish, in a saline way. Yancey tried to keep his cool and focus on the objective.

O mighty Ursula The Gay, I beg your aid in transforming into a mermaid.


He waited for a response. After a minute, the eyes were joined by what looked like an octopus’s tentacle holding something small at its tip. The object glinted in the moonlight.

I can offer you this magic pearl for the bargain price of 39,000 gold.


Yancey had no idea what 39,000 gold meant. The Server’s standard currency was Coins. 39,000 was a huge lot of Coins. Onecornchippy only had about 34,000 and she was the second richest member on the public leaderboard.

I haven't got 39,000 gold, and I need a lot more than one magic pearl.
I can get you more rum, though.


Yancey felt things were slipping out of control. Maybe it was more hard-boiled this way, though. He fondled the grip of his gat, to get some guts.

WHAT! Did you think it was going to be CHEAP to become a MERMAID?


Confrontation! The waters stirred as unseen limbs thrashed beneath the surface. The sea-witch was agitated. Yancey held his ground.

It’s not for me that I ask, mighty Ursula.
It's a smol girl's dream... how can you put a money price on that?
Anyway, I don't have the gold but I do have the rum.
O mighty Ursula The Gay, I beg you to grant a smol girl’s dream!


A pause while the sea-witch considered the proposition.

Well...lll... I guess I can make an exception JUST this once…
More rum and you can have as many magic pearls as you need for free


Thank you, mighty Ursula.
I need pearls to change her back, too!


Alright! Just give me the rum already!


More tentacles emerged from the waves and waved in a beckoning motion.

Yancey heaved a sigh of relief. He lugged the case of Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, with 10 bottles still in it, out into the sea, until he was wet up to his mid-thighs.

"Far enough" he thought, and heaved the wooden crate out towards the Sea-witch. It flew through the moonlight, turning over and starting to spill its contents. The bottles splashed into the sea. Ursula dove below the surface and began to grab her booty. There were snapping and crunching noises. A burp. Some bubbles.

Yancey waited for his reward. The moon reflected from the disturbed waters, flashing glints into his eyes. He smelt the salt sea and rum. A seagull mewed in the distance.

He heard a series of burbling or plopping noises, and a faint hum of singing.

Two small packets appeared and floated towards Yancey, propelled by a current. He grabbed them and retreated quickly to the shore, his trousers dripping. He took a quick look at his gains.

The packets seemed like big mermaid’s purses. They were wet, of course, and dark. There were some kind of pictures on them. The moonlight made it tricky to make out any details. Yancey turned to the sea to thank the sea-witch.

Ursula The Gay, mighty Sea-witch!
I thank you for your gift.


An eye appeared and a tentacle waved goodbye.

You’re welcome, Mr Yancey.
See you again soon!


“Not if I can help it…” Yancey thought to himself. He slipped the purses into his pockets, took out his hip flask, and drained it with a few quick gulps. The hard liquor hit his stomach like fire. His brain began to run on different wavelengths.

“Job done! Let’s get back to the hotel and check this stuff with the Garden Fairy’s help.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.8

They got back to the hotel in 20 minutes.

Yancy changed his suit, put the wet one in the laundry service, and went to meet Janjan in the bar, where they sat in a discreet booth. He pinged a message to Yura. Chanmi had gone out to explore the local nightlife.

The Garden Fairy got Maddy into bed with minimum fuss. Although Maddy wanted to stay up, the combined effects of lots of good food, exercise, a hot bath, and a bedtime story from a real fairy made her fall asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. Some of the Garden Fairy’s magic sparkles may have been involved too.

Yura came down to the bar and found the bois. Janjan and Yancey were drinking rum and coconut water. She had a glass of light white wine.

“Yancey-kun. I can tell by your face that you have had an adventure, uwu.”

“He sure did, Ms Yura. I couldn’t see it cause I had to hide from the sea-witch, on account of she was so shy, but I heard some of it. Tell us the whole thing, boss...”

Yancey gave an account of his encounter with the Sea-witch Ursula The Gay, answering their questions as he went along. At the end he brought out the two mermaid’s purses, and laid them on the table. They were now dry, and had a tough leathery feel to them. The colour was blue-black in the subdued light of the bar, with glints of silver, like the shell of a mussel. It was possible to make out some simple cartoon-like figures on the surface.

One purse had a picture of a human, with an arrow pointing from it to a picture of a mermaid. The other one had similar pictures in reverse. The meaning was clear. One pouch held the pearls to change from a human to a mermaid. The other set of pearls would reverse the change.

“This probably would also work to change a mermaid into a human, and back again.” said Yura.

“I’ll bear that in mind if I meet an Ariel mermaid who takes a shine to me.”

Yancey had a bit of a thing for red-haired girls. That said, he had a bit of a thing for raven-haired girls, and blondes, and brunettes, and blue-haired girls too.

Yancey went into a brown study, contemplating the spectrum of girl hair, and how much he liked all of them. He hadn’t seen any bald girls around, but he figured he might be interested in them as well.

“Hey, boss... Do you want another drink?

“Sorry Janjan, drifted off for a moment there. Yeah, let's have another rum and coconut.”

A wait-girl brought another round. She had radical titanium white hair with blue highlights, cut like a helmet. Yancey gave an extra tip, thinking to himself:

"If I could get together with her, and Blaise, and Hikaru, I would have red, white and blue hair girlfriends. That would be something, alright! A lot of work, though."

Yura coughed. Yancey hoped he hadn't been thinking out loud again, one of his odd habits. He kept mum and let Yura take the lead.

“Shall we look at the other side of the purses, uwu? I think there must be something there too.”

They flipped the purses over and found another set of pictures. A smol figure with an open mouth and one ball-shaped thing dropping into it. A medium figure taking two balls, and a chonky figure swallowing three balls. It was simple to follow the meaning.

“Since the pearls, or pills, work by magic, you do not need to calculate precise dosage, uwu. A child like Maddy should take a single pill. A medium sized girl like Chanmi or perhaps me, should take one or two. Janjan-kun should take two at first, and a third if there was no change, uwu."

“I don’t wanna be a mermaid. No offence! It just doesn’t appeal to me.”

“Well, Janjan-kun, I do not think you will have to be a mermaid, uwu. It is Maddy who is to become a mermaid, is it not?”

Yancey cleared his throat. “Someone will have to become a mermaid, to guard Maddy during her adventure. I guess it’s going to have to be me.”

“Oh, I had not thought about that. However as you are a boi, when you take the pills you will become a merboi, not a mermaid.”

“That’s kind of a relief. I bet it will feel strange enough anyway. How long will the change take, Yura?”

“Possibly only seconds. At most, a few minutes. You might black out during the process. Once you are a merboi, you will have a dolphin tail instead of legs. You will gain the ability to breathe underwater, and swim very well, but of course you will not be able to get around on land at all well even though you will be able to breathe air.

“What about clothes? What should we wear?”

“Merpeople do not usually wear clothes. Mermaids can conceal their breasts with their long hair, if they want to hide them. Sometimes they wear something like a bikini top.”

“Has Maddy got something suitable to wear? She won’t want to wear a boring T-shirt. Anyway, we can get her something easily enough. What about the bottom half?”

Yura seemed to blush a little.

“While humans and fairies like to conceal their, er... private parts, merpeople have their equivalent parts internally, and do not feel any need for clothing."

Yancey wondered how it was going to feel, losing something which had been with him all his life, central to his identity as a boi. Then he thought he wouldn't have legs any more, and everything would be weird, so maybe it didn't matter.

It came down to this; someone had to guard Maddy under the sea, and he had pretty well committed himself when he took the brief from Ms Wallace.

"Yep. We need to be practical about clothes. I mean what happens if you’re wearing trousers?”

"Well, Yancey-kun. I do not think the magic will transform your clothes, uwu.”

“You must have to strip off before taking the pearl. Best to carry some clothes with you for when you change back, in case you have to get out of the sea somewhere else. Don't want to have to walk around naked and get arrested."

“How would you keep the clothes dry, boss?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we could get some kind of waterproof bag.”

He started to think about other equipment. A diver’s knife, a speargun, shark repellant, maybe stuff he couldn't think of now. He was tired. There would be time in the morning to go over the list with the others. They had to talk to Chanmi about the cyber search too.

“Okay. Thank you both for all your help. We’ve done a lot today. Maddy’s had a great time, we’ve got the magic pearls, and we’ve made a start on… Oh, Janjan! I haven’t told you about the case we’re going to work with Yura.”

“What’s that, boss? ... Ms Yura?”

The Garden Fairy explained her worries about the odd atmosphere around the Cays.

“It sounds pretty unpleasant, Ms Yura. I hope we can help you.”

“We can’t do a lot with our usual methods, Janjan, but I reckon Chanmi can do something with her cyberpunk techniques. We’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

It was getting pretty late. It had been a long, exciting day. They decided to call it quits and regroup over breakfast.



The next day they decided the plan for the morning while working through a simple breakfast of toasted bagels with various spreads, lox, fruit juice, coffee and a selection of speciality teas.

Yura and Chanmi would take Maddy shopping for swimwear and accessories. Janjan and Yancey would go shopping for diving equipment. They would meet up for lunch and plan the afternoon then.

Taking advice from the older girls, Maddy chose a modest tankini set with long boy shorts in blue with a white stripe, a bright tropical flower print pareo, a pair of water shoes, a nylon net shoulder bag and a heavy duty waterproof case for her smartphone.

The pareo was too large for her really, so the shopgirl showed her ways to arrange it over one or both shoulders, or rolled up around the waist, for different looks. Maddy enjoyed her fashion outing, and gloated over the haul of loot. She felt sophisticated and grown up.

Yura and Chanmi got into the spirit of things so much that they felt justified in picking up a few ‘necessities’ for themselves.

They met the bois for lunch at a waterfront cafe-restaurant in the marina. It had a great view of the yachts and motor launches which members used for pleasure and fishing trips.

Yancey wanted to eat po’ boys. His appetite was considerable. He had an oyster sandwich and a shrimp sandwich and drank lager. Once hunger was sated, they relaxed with coffee, tea, and ice cream soda for Maddy, and compared their purchases.

The bois’ haul was a lot more utilitarian than the girls’. It included a diver’s knife, a survival kit containing shark repellant, marker dye, and flares. There was a bang stick, which the shopboi had recommended because it was hard to shoot a speargun without experience, and 2 dozen rounds.

They had bought a bag which was supposed to be waterproof, but because Yancey didn’t trust it, he had decided to take spare clothes which didn’t matter if they got wet. He reckoned in the warm sub-tropical climate of the Cay, damp clothes would dry out pretty quickly. Finally, a mesh bag like Maddy’s but larger, to hold everything, and a utility belt..

“Can we go out now, Yancey? I want to be a mermaid!”

“It’s bad to go swimming after a meal, Maddy. You have to wait at least an hour to let your lunch go down, or you’ll get cramps.”

“Can we go later, then?”

“I’ve arranged to charter a boat for tomorrow, so we can go far out. You will be a mermaid the whole day, if you like.”

“Yeeee! What will we do this afternoon?”

“What would you like to do?”

“The beach. Catch crabs! Build sand castles!”

“That’s a great idea, Maddy. Let’s get our stuff, pile into the car, and head for West Bay.”

They loaded the car with their beach gear and a picnic. They reached the bay within an hour. The low population density on the Cay meant it was easy to park, and there were only a few other people around. The downside of this was the lack of any facilities such as a cafe and latrines. However there was undergrowth in case anyone needed it.

Everyone got changed into their bathing costumes with varying degrees of difficulty and embarrassment, put on sunblock, and carried their beach gear down to the bright warm sand. The rest of the afternoon was spent in simple, innocent fun.

First there was sea-bathing, then a thorough investigation of rock pools. Yura named all the different odd creatures Maddy found.

Next they began to build a sand castle. Janjan got tired. He fell asleep, and buried buried up to his neck by the three girls, while Yancey worked by himself on an elaborate dam system to redirect a brackish stream meandering across the sand. He diverted some of the flow into the moat of their castle.

Finally, when Maddy was thoroughly tired out, they sat down for a picnic tea with cold drinks, sandwiches and chocolate muffins. They dug up Janjan so he could join in.

“Back in England we would have fish and chips, and dandelion and burdock drink,” said Yancey. “And it would be raining.”

“When were you ever at the beach in England, boss?” asked Chanmi.

“Maybe it’s my baseline leaking through.”

Yancey thought he had better pay more attention to being hard-boiled. If he was to give effective protection to Maddy, and investigative help to Yura, he needed to maintain his hard-boiled detective aspect. He decided to give his Colt M1911A1 a good clean when he got back to the hotel. The chonky gat was a powerful hard-boiled totem.

“Alright. We better think about getting back.”

“Nooo! I want to staaaay!” Maddy said.

“If we stay here we can’t get ready for you to become a mermaid tomorrow, Maddy.”

“I want to go baaaack!”

“Okay, Janjan, you heard the little lady. Let’s get packed up and head back to the Belair.”


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.9


“Alright. We better think about getting back to the hotel.”

“Nooo! I want to staaaay!” Maddy said.

“If we stay here we can’t get ready for you to become a mermaid tomorrow, Maddy.”

“Yeees! I want to go baaaack!”

“Okay, Janjan, you heard the lady. Let’s get packed up and head back to the Belair.”

Yancey would have liked to stay longer too. The beach took him back to childhood days in Wales and Norfolk. But now he had a job to do. He needed to get Chanmi working on Yura’s case, and he needed to get ready for Maddy’s mermaid adventure.



We went back to the hotel in the big car.

I was sad to leave the beach. I hope I can go back there again.

Yancey said he wanted to talk with me about my mermaid adventure. That made me feel better.

Yancey said some stuff to the others. I didn’t understand it so I didn’t listen. I was getting a bit bored, but then Yancey said let’s go and get ice cream Maddy!

“Yeee!”

Yura Fairy said be a good girl. I said I’m always good. She smiled. They went off together and left me in the lobby with Yancey. He held out his hand.

“I’m too old to need to hold hands, Yancey.”

“I’m not. You can go anywhere in this universe, Maddy, and all you need is a hand to hold.”

I didn’t want to argue. I just took his hand. It was big and warm.

We went out of the hotel and walked on Ocean Drive. The sun was still up but it was low and the street was starting to get golden dark.

We found an ice cream cafe that looked nice. Yancey bought me a big cup with three scoops. I had chocolate and strawberry and vanilla and lots of sprinkles. Yancey had a cone with hazelnut flavour, and a cup of black coffee. He got a small metal bottle out of his pocket and poured something in the coffee cup. It smelt like a chemical.

“What’s that?”

“Something to help me stay hard-boiled.”

“What’s hard-boiled?”

“It’s how I need to be, so I can keep you safe on your adventure. It means tough.”

“Are we going to be mermaids together?”

“The Garden Fairy says I’ll be a merboi. I hope she’s right.”

“How will I become a mermaid? Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”

“Here’s what I got from the Sea-witch.”

Yancey got out two kind of leather looking purses. They were blue-black-silver and had drawings on. I looked at the pictures. I felt the purses. They had smol hard bobbly things inside.

“I got those from Ursula The Gay. They have magic pearls in. One type of pearls will turn us into merpeople when we swallow it. The other type will turn us back into humans. Just like taking medicine.”

“Who’s Ursula The Gay?”

“He’s a Sea-witch. I got his name from the Garden Fairy, I went to the shore at twilight, and I persuaded him to give me these magic pearls,”

“A boi Sea-witch? How’s that work?”

“Um. … By magic.”

It made sense.

“Okay Maddy, what we’ll do is, I’ve hired a boat for tomorrow and we’ll go out to sea. We’ll turn ourselves into mermaids with the pearls. We’ll have a swim around, then we’ll come up for lunch. Then we’ll go back in the afternoon.”

“Oooh!”

“So what do you want to do while you’re a mermaid?”

I didn’t really know. It was just my dream for a long time. I never thought I would really become one.

“I want to collect shells and treasure and I want to meet other mermaids and swim and dance with them. I want to meet the king of the sea and Ursula The Gay.”

“I can’t promise everything, Maddy, but we’ll do everything we can manage of that. But you got to be safe, so listen now, cause I want to explain how I’m going to take care of you.”

He talked a lot about how he was going first and I must stay close enough to be able hear and see him. If he called me, I must come back. That kind of thing. Parent kind of things.

“So promise me not to swim off by yourself.”

Yancey looked really serious about it.

“Because Maddy, if you swim off and get lost, how can I give you ice-cream at dinner time?”

I hadn’t thought about that.

“I’ll be good, Yancey.”

“Maddy, thank you. I’m depending on you.”

“...”

“Alright, it’s getting on. I’m hungry, how about you?”

I wasn’t really hungry but I thought I could manage something. Yancey said, “I want a hot dog with onions and a pile of fries.”

“Can I share your fries?”

“Course you can. Let’s go and get them!”

We went out of the ice cream cafe. Yancey didn’t hold his hand out. I don’t know if he trusted me, or... I don’t know...

I held out my hand to him. Yancey smiled at me and took my hand.

We walked around a bit and found a place where we could get hot dogs and fries. I really wasn’t hungry, because I had eaten a lot of ice cream. Yancey ate a big hot dog and half the fries. I ate the rest of them.

“Big day tomorrow, Maddy. I want to get an early night.”

He yawned. It made me yawn too.

I thought the sooner I sleep now the sooner I will wake up tomorrow and become a mermaid!

“Let’s go back to the hotel, Yancey.”

“Which way is it, Maddy?”

I’m not stupid. I knew Ocean Drive is a straight road by the sea from earlier when we drove around. Grown-ups think kids don’t notice stuff but we do. We walked to the right out of the Belair so we needed to turn left from here to go back.

“This way, Yancey!”

I pulled on his hand, and we ran all the way back to the hotel, laughing. I didn’t know where to go next, but Yancey phoned the Garden Fairy, and then we met them in the lounge bar. They were all there, with a lot of boring notebooks and stuff. Chanmi had her funny little computer and a kind of thing like wires going to her head and a headband. They all smiled to see us.

“I had ice cream and Yancey showed me the mermaid purses and we had french fries and I’m going to be a mermaid!”

“Maddy-chan, do you want a soda or something?” said the Garden Fairy.

I was thirsty, because I hadn’t had anything real to drink since the picnic on the beach. Janjan got me a Vanilla Coke with ice and lemon. He’s so nice.

We all sat down, crowded into the booth. Yancey got a glass of something brown and chemical smelling. He said it was rum, like he gave to Ursula the Sea-witch. I don’t know why grown-ups like that kind of stuff.

They were all talking about search parameters and probability ranges and Bays equation or something. It was boring. I borrowed a pen from Janjan and I drew mermaids on paper napkins. After a while I felt really sleepy.

“I want to go to bed!”

Janjan helped the Garden Fairy to carry me upstairs, and she put me in the bath, and got me into bed and then I went to sleep. I can’t remember my dreams.



After Yancey took Maddy for ice cream, Janjan, Yura and I went to the bar in the Belair and got a booth. I didn’t really understand what Yancey wanted me to do, even though he had kind of explained it.

“He wants you to free associate and work out a program on your Sandbenders to discover what’s going on around the Cay.”

“But Janjan, that’s a huge question. It’s practically theological in its extent.”

“Look, Chanmi, we’re not asking for the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything” he said, “We’ll talk to Ms Yura and she’ll tell you some stuff that’s relevant. So don’t worry.”

Janjan wanted a jug of margaritas, but I thought I needed a clear head for programming. I wanted to understand and frame the problem before jacking myself up. He settled for a beer. Yura and I had cola floats.

The Garden Fairy clued me in on her worries. Together, we began to make a list of things which we thought could reveal the general public malaise: medical appointments and the prescriptions given, sales of alcohol, sales of party goods, road accidents, police reports, industrial accidents… it seemed endless. I decided to write a machine learning system to work out the things we should survey. I downloaded a blank AI, tweaked it, gave it some basic instructions and let it gather data.

“Now we wait.”

“How long will it take?”

“Dunno. And when it’s finished, I’ve got to pipe the output for analysis. It’ll need to go into another AI. I’ll tweak that one on the fly, with Yura’s help.”

I envisaged the cyberscape. At the moment it was a lumpy pixellated plane of neon lights. There were flashes and pulses as the AI did its job, sucking up vast amounts of high level indicators and sorting them against the general parameters I had given it.

“I will do everything I can, Chanmi-chan, uwu.”

It’s hard to describe cyberspace to someone who hasn’t been there. I only had the one VR induction rig, though. I didn’t want to let a n00b go in unaccompanied. A mind can get lost.

“Thanks, Yura-chan. I’m okay for now. When we’ve got a solid set of data I’ll build a third AI to do the real search. That’s when I’ll need to dive in and help it to get around security and stuff.”

“We’re looking at an all-nighter, aren’t we?”

“No. Not yet, anyway. The way things are progressing, I reckon the first phase will take until the early morning. I want to get some sleep and make sure I’m at my best for the phases where I need to be directly involved.”

I thought now I could relax for a bit. I had a beer with Janjan. Yura stuck to soft drinks. We got a bowl of chips to help the beers along, and waited until Yancey and Maddy came back.

When they appeared, Maddy looked pretty tired. Another exciting day, I guess. We made room in the booth. Janjan got a soda for Maddy, and she ate a few chips. I was trying to explain my search concept to Yancey. I could see he didn’t grasp the details. He seemed happy enough, though.

After a bit, Maddy pretty much conked out on the table, so Janjan and Yura carried her up to bed. She had done all these great little sketches of mermaids on paper napkins. I put them in my shoulder bag.

“Chanmi, I don’t exactly understand this cyberpunk stuff, but I can see you do. Keep it up and you’ll get us some solid leads alright.”

“I reckon I can get something by tomorrow, boss.”

“Good. Let’s meet again at breakfast.”

We finished our drinks and went up.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.10


I woke early to check what my AI had done during the night.

I put on my VR rig and cruised cyberspace. It was like flying over a landscape composed of blocks and lines of pure neon light. It was confusing.

I had scored 6 tabs of Adderall from a Yale Ph.D. history student I met in a club the night before. It seemed like the time to drop 1, so I took it, and waited to come up. Nothing had happened after 30 minutes. I checked the formulary and decided to drop another 1.

After a bit longer, things began to make sense. I got focus on the nodes which the AI wanted to prioritise; different kinds of vehicle and boat movements, purchases at bookshops and some other stuff. It was odd, but the point of this kind of machine learning is to find patterns in the data which a human wouldn’t easily see.

I prepped a new AI and piped the output from the first one into it. I left it to run while I went to breakfast. The others were already there.



Maddy woke extra early because she was excited for her mermaid adventure. Yura was kind and indulgent. She got up without fussing, and helped Maddy pack her special water bag, dress in her tankini, and put on her pareo so she was properly covered up for breakfast.

Yancey was up early counting pearls. He wanted to be sure how many changes between human and mermaid he and Maddy could achieve. He figured it would be real bad to get stuck as a merboi. The best-case scenario would be another encounter with Ursula, which he wasn’t eager for. The worst case didn’t bear thinking about at all.

There were 24 silver-white pearls in the Human to Mermaid purse, and 24 silver-black pearls in the other one. He did some sums in his notebook.

“If Maddy needs one, and I need three, then there are enough pearls for the two of us to do six transformations both ways. That’s more than enough.”

Yancey reckoned four sessions over two days would be plenty of mermaiding for Maddy. That would be four transformations, which would leave a margin of error. Maybe Yura nr Chanmi would like to have a go, too.

He decided to give half the pearls to the Garden Fairy for her to keep safe, and let Maddy have one black pearl in case she got separated from him and needed to turn back into a human. He put half of each colour of pearl into each Mermaid’s purse, with a note on a page from his notebook, to explain their use. Then he got his water equipment ready and went down to breakfast.



After breakfast Yancey and Maddy walked down to the marina. Acting on Yura’s advice he had chartered the boat skippered by the wise sea captain who knew Ursula. His name was Harlesden, a 40-year-old grizzled boi with a deep suntan and a far-sighted look in his eyes. He was wearing a pale blue long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up, baggy denim dungarees and a dark blue Breton cap.

Harlesden had a crewmate, a girl called Nancy, late 20s, tall and suntanned, wearing a faded yellow t-shirt, denim shorts which showed off her legs, and a khaki bucket hat over a blonde tomboy cut. They both had heavy polaroid sunglasses and deck shoes.

The boat was the “Little Rascal”, a neat, four berth cabin cruiser with a small galley, a head, a shower, and twin marine diesels. You could live aboard if you weren’t too picky about personal space. At the stern was a bathing platform with a swim ladder to let you to get into and out of the sea easily. Yancey liked the look of her immediately. He figured this was a boat which could take you a long way.

They all made acquaintance and boarded. Nancy cast off the lines, then showed Maddy and Yancey the facilities while Harlesden took them out of harbour.

Once Little Rascal was beyond the mole, Harlesden turned to Yancey.

“Okay, boss. Where to?”

“You know what we’re about, Captain?”

“The Garden Fairy told me. I normally do diving charters. Can’t say I’ve done a charter exactly like this before, but if you want to find a sea-witch, or some merpeople, I’ve had some dealings with them. I reckon I can take you to the right place.”

“I had a bit of dealing with a sea-witch myself, recently.” Yancey recounted his adventure with Ursula the Gay.

Harlesden chuckled. “That’s why I keep a case of rum on board. It’s not just medicinal, it’s insurance in case I need to get on the right side of Ursula. OK, West Bay it is.”

He set a course and pushed the twin throttles to ¾ speed. The screws churned the water. Foam erupted from beneath the stern platform. The sleek white cruiser picked up speed, and water began to chortle under the bow.

The sea was pretty flat, with only a slight swell. Little Rascal pitched and rolled very little, and there seemed little danger of sea sickness. The weather was fine, apart from a haze which obscured the horizon and reduced visibility to a few miles.

“The haze should burn off by mid-morning, I reckon,” said Harlesden. “It’ll take us about an hour to round the point and get into the bay. We’ll have good visibility for when you want to start diving.”

While the boat ran they spent 20 minutes discussing boats and the difference between sea and river. Yancey’s baseline had some experience of motor launches on inland waters, and aspired to own a powerful cruiser like the Little Rascal, which he might be able to take to sea.

Meanwhile Maddy followed Nancy around, to find out what a girl did in this kind of job. Not much, at the moment. The crew had completely neatened up the deck in the early morning, so the two girls were able to enjoy the ride. Nancy showed Maddy all around the launch, naming the different parts to her, because at sea, everything must have a special name. For example, a kitchen is called a galley, and a lavatory is a “head”.

When the Little Rascal rounded the point, Harlesden asked Nancy to take the wheel. He picked up Maddy and put her on the co-pilot’s seat, where she could look out of the cockpit. Maddy was excited to watch Nancy operate the throttles and check the course.

Harlesden took Yancey down into the main cabin. He busied himself making coffee, took a mug up to Nancy, and a bottle of cold lemonade for Maddy. Then he sat down with Yancey to talk about the dive.

“How’s this going to work, Mr Yancey?”

“Okay. I guess it’s standard to moor. I’ll go down first. I’ll change out of my clothes and get onto your diving platform. Then I’ll lie down and take the pills.” He showed the Captain the Mermaid’s purse. Harlesden examined it with interest.

“The Garden Fairy said it should take between moments and minutes to change me into a merboi. I might black out during the process. Assuming it works okay, I’ll grab my dive bag and simply roll off the platform into the sea. I’ll swim around for a bit, to make sure it’s safe. When I tell you, you and Nancy can help Maddy get onto the platform and do the same. She only needs to swallow one pearl.”

“How long will you stay down?”

“The first time, maybe an hour, just for practice.”

“Have you got a dive watch?”

“No, I never thought of that!”

“I’ve got one you can use.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

“You’re welcome. So, you’ll stay down for an hour, then come back up for lunch?”

“Yeah, that’s the plan. Then in the afternoon we’ll go down for a longer session, maybe two hours.”

“You need to confirm that for me before you go. It’s important for safety to know when the divers are due to come up.”

“Yes. I get your point. Okay, we’ll decide at lunchtime. Maddy may get tired, anyway, and want a shorter session.”

“The other thing is, how are you going to get out? The dive platform has a swim ladder, but you need legs to climb up it.”

“I reckon I’ll be able to push Maddy up with my arms. Once she’s changed back into a human, I’ll use a combination of my arms and jumping with my tail, to flop onto the platform.”

“Alright, it should work. If not, we’ll rig up a line for you to use.”

“In the worst case, I could take the change back pearls while I’m still in the water. Okay. Well, Captain, what advice have you got for me about swimming in these waters?”

“Three main dangers, Ursula, merpeople, and sharks. You’ve dealt with Ursula before, so you should be fine. The merpeople won’t be any trouble as long as you don’t interfere with them or provoke them. You might not meet any of them anyway, but if you do, just be polite. They’ve been a bit scarcer in recent months, I don’t know why.”

“Okay, what about sharks? I’ve got a bangstick.”

“Ever used it?”

“Nope.”

“Well, it’s easy enough. You take off the safety and shove the tip up against the shark, and bang. The tricky bit is holding your nerve while the bastard comes at you. One hit will hurt it bad, so try to swim away as quick as you can. You should be able to outpace a wounded shark, but if you hang around, some others will come sniffing for the blood. Then you could be in trouble.”

“I’ve got repellent, and marker dye.”

In truth, the Captain was a bit worried about letting these two n00bs go off by themselves. He wanted someone reliable to keep an eye on them.

“If you like, Nancy can go down with you, the first time. I mean, if you’re a merboi you’ll be able to swim and breathe underwater, so most of the stuff divers have to worry about you can ignore. But she’ll be able to watch out for you until you get used to it.”

“If she’s amenable, I will gratefully accept that offer.”

“Alright. Well, I hear the engines slowing, so we should be nearly there. Let’s go up and see.”

They went up into the wheelhouse. The cruiser was well into West Bay. Nancy brought her to a stop, and the Captain let the anchor down. When it was fast, the engines were switched off. The only sounds were seagulls, a light wind sighing, and gentle washing noises of the swell moving along the hull.

“Goddess, I love it out here!” said Nancy, suddenly.

Harlesden smiled and nodded. “Yes, it’s a great day to be alive. Okay! Let’s get ready for the dive.” Maddy squeaked with excitement.

Nancy went and got changed into a short leg wetsuit. Harlesden helped her kit up with the air tank, helmet and other equipment. Even though there were no other vessels visible in the bay, Harlesden ran the necessary signal flags up the Little Rascal’s short mast.

“Do you want me to go first?” asked Nancy.

“You do that, then Yancey will follow, and Maddy last, when we know it’s safe.”

Nancy climbed down onto the platform, put on her flippers, adjusted her helmet, checked her air, gave a thumbs up, and slipped into the water with a light splash. She swam around the launch on the surface, then dived down. They could see her clearly as she swam another circuit a few feet below the surface. Finally Nancy came back up, popped her head and hands out, and gave a thumbs up. She waited for Yancey to follow her.

Yancey gulped to himself. He was a bit apprehensive about this new adventure, but with everyone’s eyes on him, he put on a cool front. He took off his polo shirt, tied a towel around his waist and stripped off his swim shorts from underneath. He put the clothes into the dry bag in his swim bag, and checked the rest of his gear. “All copacetic,” he thought to himself, and climbed down onto the diving platform.

Yancey lay down and took three silver-white pearls from his Mermaid’s purse. He swallowed them in three dry gulps and waited to see what would happen.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2019 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.11


Yancy waited to see what would happen.

He felt a tingling in the small of his back. It felt like an electric shock. It grew, and started to spread. Yancey had electrified himself a number of times, repairing wiring, and this felt similar, though not nearly as strong. However, he could not pull away from the sensation.

The tingling spread farther, down to his buttocks, up his spine, and began to wrap around his body to the front. It was a weird sensation. His muscles began to spasm, and the currents of magic reached deeper, right into his bones…

He passed out.

Watching from the sea, Nancy saw Yancey swallow the pearls. She started a timer on her diver's watch.

After a few seconds, sparkles of blue mana, looking like tiny electrical discharges and faint in the strong sunlight, began to surround the boi's body. He gasped. The aura spread and wrapped around him. It intensified until his body was cocooned in a sparkling mist through which she could see him jerking and writhing. It looked scary, and Nancy was worried, but she kept her eyes on the boi. She was fascinated by the magic in operation, however some weird visual effect screened the details of the change from her.

The mana began rapidly to fade, her view cleared, and Nancy saw a merboi lying on the platform in Yancey's place. It was an astonishing transformation!

She stopped her timer. Three minutes.

The new creature had Yancey’s head and hair, and his torso was human looking but broader, thicker. The skin had a bluish sheen and was hairless. The shoulders and arms were strongly muscled. The towel Yancey had draped over his mid-section for modesty had shaken off during his convulsions. Where a human waist would have changed into buttons and divided into legs, there was instead a dolphin-like tail, long, smooth and blue skinned, tapering to twin horizontal flukes instead of feet.

The mer-Yancey gasped for breath, and tried to sit up. He found he could bend at the waist, but had very little flexibility in his new tail compared to the knees he no longer had. He managed to sit on the edge of the platform. The weight and leverage of his tail threatened to drag him off. He clung on with one arm, grabbed his dive bag and flopped clumsily into the water with a big splash.

Yancey floated face down and tried to process what had happened to him. New sensations crowded into his mind, a special awareness of the water, a range of noises, and sunlight filtered to blue reflecting off the sand at the bottom of the bay. Something else, he couldn’t define or even describe properly, a new sense. Perhaps it was a mermember’s sense of sonar or magnetism. He had no words adequate for it.

Yancey rolled over onto his back to take a breath of air and realised he didn’t need to. In some magical way, his lungs were taking oxygen from the sea, so he didn’t need to suck water into his breathing pipes the way he had expected This was a considerable relief.

He looked around and saw Nancy in her frogboi gear floating close by. She swam closer and he gave a thumbs up sign. Then he tried to speak. His voice came out with a few bubbles, clear and understandable, though slightly dulled.

“Nancy, how do I look?”

She couldn’t speak to answer, and gave him the diver’s OK sign instead.

“How long did it take?”

Nancy held up three fingers for three minutes. She pointed up, signalling him to rise to the surface. Yancey flicked his tail experimentally. He found out how to turn, and oriented himself vertically. He gave a strong flick and popped out of the water half his length, turning and flopping down into the sea with a splash. He recovered and got into a vertical position with his head and shoulders out of the water. He was still holding his dive bag in one hand, so he pulled the straps over his shoulders and clipped the chest strap shut. He found his hands were webbed between the fingers, up to the second knuckle.

Nancy’s head popped up next to him and she pushed her helmet up to be able to speak.

“That was something else, Yancey. I’ve never seen anything like it. What did it feel like?”

“Like being electrified, but not as strong, only I couldn’t pull away. I blacked out for a bit. It wasn’t painful, exactly, but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. I hope Maddy will be alright.”

"There's members who'll pay good coin for that kind of a thrill."

"Maybe so. It cost me 360 Clams for the rum, and a Sanity Point for dealing with Ursula."

"What's a Sanity Point?" Nancy looked puzzled, as if she'd never heard the term before.

"I dunno." Yancey felt puzzled too. "It just came into my head and seemed right." He knew it meant something.

There was a hail from the boat. Harlesden and Maddy were looking down from the rear cockpit. Yancey waved at them.

Maddy was beside herself with excitement. Her dreams were coming true. “Show me! Show me your tail, Yancey!”

Yancey turned away from the boat and Nancy, and discreetly brushed his hand over the place his human groin had been. There was nothing, only a slit with something inside it, and below that another slit. He turned back and felt behind him. Nothing. He realised if he was going to take a number two it would be a new experience. He felt he could do without that, and decided to make sure to use the head at lunchtime.

Maddy was shouting impatiently, so Yancey upended himself and brandished his tail as far out of the water as he could, using his arms to revolve so she could see all sides of it.

“I want to go now, I want to become a mermaid!”

The Captain helped Maddy down onto the dive platform. She draped her pareo around her waist, took off her shorts underneath and put them into her dive bag. She kept her tankini top on. She sat on the edge of the platform, as she needed Yancey to give her the magic pearl.

He swam up close and spoke to her.

“Maddy, I gotta let you know it’s kind of a weird feeling, when you change. It doesn’t hurt, exactly, but it doesn’t feel good. It only lasts three minutes, though. You might faint, I did, and that spared me the worst of it. Are you okay to go ahead?”

Maddy was so close to her dream now, that if she had to give up her voice forever to become a mermaid she would do it in an instant.

“I’ll be fine. Give me the pearl.”

He gave her the silver-white pearl, and she swallowed it eagerly.

This time Yancey was able to observe the magic from a third person perspective. He hoped Maddy was feeling okay, as the mana rippled around and through her smol body, altering it to suit ocean life. The process was quicker than it had been for Yancey, perhaps because Maddy was so much smoler. It took a bit over two minutes. She fainted in the middle of it.



I grabbed the precious pearl and held it up to the sunlight. It sparkled with magic. I thought, “Now I’m gonna become a mermaid at last!”

I lay down and swallowed it easily. Changing was weird, like Yancey had said, and I didn’t like it but I bore it because I had too and I knew the result would be worth…

I fainted...

When I woke up, I immediately rolled off the platform into the sea without waiting to recover. I knew I was now a mermaid and could live under the water and I just wanted to get straight in.

Yancey called after me, “Maddy, wait! You need your bag!” but I ignored him.

I swam as fast as I could around and around Nancy, above and below her. It was great. It was so super. It was like flying. The sea felt cool and made my skin feel good. I felt so happy I just went "Yeee!" as I whizzed through the water. I didn’t need to breath, the magic did the work for me. My hands had webs and I could use them to steer or for extra power.

Eventually I went low, then turned straight up, and I went as fast as I could until I burst right out of the water, looped in the sun, and splashed down again.

I stopped and waited for the others to catch me up. Slowcoaches.

...

Yancey grabbed the dive bag and pareo Maddy had left on the platform and went after her. She was off like a fish, hooting with glee as she plunged into the depths and pulled tight, fast manoeuvres, looping around the nearly static Nancy in all three dimensions.

Nancy, watching Maddy’s cavortings, had a pang of jealousy. She thought she too would like to become a mermaid and have the full freedom of the sea, but she stuck to her duty, and kept an eye out for potential dangers.

After a few minutes of these capers Maddy’s joyful energy impelled her to rocket vertically out of the sea like a sub-launched missile. The Captain, watching the three swimmers from the rear cockpit, gasped as Maddy broached, flew through a ballistic curve, cascading beads of water which split the sun into a rainbow, and splashed back down.

“That was a sight!” he thought to himself. “Maybe I should become a merboi and have a go.”

Maddy rested for a couple of minutes, and Yancey made her strap on her dive bag. He checked his watch. They were 20 minutes into the dive.

“Okay Maddy, let’s just go up and talk to Nancy for a minute.” He signed Up to Nancy, and she swam to the surface. Yancey and Maddy popped up beside her.

“Oh Yancey, this is so great! Thank you!” Maddy grabbed him around the neck with both arms and gave him a hug. Yancey hugged her back with one arm.

“Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it. We have to be a bit careful though, because there might be sharks or other dangers. That's why Nancy is with us, to help keep us safe, so we gotta thank her too. Try to remember your promise and don’t go too far from her or me.”

“I won’t,” Maddy replied in a serious voice. She swam to Nancy and hugged her as well as she could around the air bottle and harness.

Nancy said, “Hey, we’ve got 40 minutes left before lunch. How about I’ll take you on a little tour? You’re much faster than me, so swim around me in any direction you like, as long as you stay in eyesight. If I find something interesting, I’ll stop and you can come and look at it.”

Yancey looked at Maddy. She seemed happy with this idea, so he gave a thumbs up. Nancy pulled her helmet back on and arced herself down into the ocean. The two mer-members followed her.

Yancy let Maddy have her head, and tried to keep fairly close to her. He soon found that he was faster on the straight, but Maddy had better flexibility and a tighter turning circle.

He began to relax and enjoy the experience. He had to try and remember his priorities were firstly to keep Maddy safe, secondly to make sure she had a good time, and his own fun came last. He checked he could reach his bangstick easily, in case a shark came at them.

The three of them swam off into the warm blue ocean.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.12


Captain Harlesden checked the master dive clock. The divers had over 35 minutes left, so he sat down with a rod to try and catch some red snapper for lunch.

Meanwhile Nancy led the two mer-members in-shore towards some interesting rock formations which were quite nearby. Maddy cavorted energetically, and Yancey chased her, the two of them ranging around Nancy’s steady course like a pair of dogs out for a walk and scampering off the lead around their owner.

The swimming was good. There were no currents, the water was clear, well lit and there was little swell. Various types of fish could be seen moving in co-ordinated shoals like beads of quicksilver, or coloured sparkles of magic. Above them, the bottoms and feet of seagulls were sometimes seen. The sea floor was mostly golden sand, with some outcroppings of darker rock sprinkled with shells.

Once she reached the interesting rocks Nancy waited until Maddy and Yancey came up to her. She took out a slate and chalked, “Let’s find scallops 4 lunch.” Yancey thought that was a great idea and gave a thumbs up.

Maddy complained, “I don’t like scallops!”

“You can look for any kind of interesting sea shell you like, Maddy. Some of them will be edible.” Yancey told her. “We’ll have to check them carefully because some might be poisonous.”

Nancy could hear this brief exchange, though she couldn’t reply in speech underwater. She tapped her watch and flashed her hand three times with fingers spread out to indicate 15 minutes.

“You mean we’ve got 15 minutes, Nancy?”

She gave a thumbs up. They started to move among the rocks, searching for scallops and other interesting shells.

Maddy had never seen such an environment before, except on TV. To be part of it was a completely different experience. She was fascinated by the different sessile creatures such as anemones and limpets. There were also seaweeds of various colours, their fronds waving slowly, tiny fish darting around, prawns, crabs, sea snails and then, a small octopus clambering over the rocks. Something made her mouth water, and she grabbed the creature with both hands.

Maddy rapidly became embroiled in a wrestling match with the octopus. She was trying to stuff it into her bag, which it clearly didn’t approve of. She cried out for help, and Yancey dashed to join her. He unsheathed his diver’s knife and grabbed one of the octopus’s legs, but he didn’t like the idea of chopping it to bits alive, and he didn’t know where to stab it to kill it cleanly.

Suddenly the cephalopod released a massive squirt of black ink, and a blast of water from its syphon. Taken by surprise, the two mer-members let go their prey and it shot off at speed through the cover of its own smoke screen.

“Ha ha! He got the better of us, Maddy! We’ll have to find something else for lunch.”

Maddy decided that gathering scallops would be easier. They soon found a number of them lying on the seafloor. She picked one up and put it in her bag. Maddy grabbed another one and several more quickly, and put them in. She looked in vain for more, so she decided to count the ones she had already picked. But there were only three in the bag!

To her amazement, one of the scallops still in the bag flapped its bivalve shells and took off. It looked like it was biting at the water like Pacman and somehow this propelled it out of the mouth of the bag by squirting water backwards. She had never seen anything like it. Maddy quickly grabbed the fleeing creature, shoved it back in her bag, and tightened the draw string.

“I never knew they could fly,” she thought. “At least I got three good ones. I won’t tell the others I let some escape.”

The 15 minute timer went off on Yancey’s watch. He looked around for Nancy, who was already swimming towards him. She waved, pointed at Maddy, then pointed in the direction of the Little Rascal. Yancey gave a thumbs up and called out, “Time to go, Maddy. We need to get back for lunch.”

Maddy was torn between her desire to go on exploring, and her grumbling stomach. It turned out that being a mermaid was hungry work. Hunger won out, and she joined the others for the swim back to the cruiser. They surfaced to get their bearings, then dove again to swim more easily.

Soon the anchor chain appeared, leading from the seabed up to the white hull which loomed above them. They surfaced near the stern. Captain Harlesden was watching for them, sure that Nancy would be true to her time. He counted three heads, waved, and they waved back.

“Maddy, you come out first,” he called. “Yancey will help you.”

It was easy enough for Maddy to get up onto the platform with a boost from Yancey. She put on her wet pareo, lay down, and swallowed the silver-black pearl he gave her. The transformation back to a smol girl caused a brief faint, but Maddy quickly recovered, wriggled back into her shorts under the pareo, and climbed the ladder into the cockpit where she immediately starting to chatter to Harlesden about her captured scallops.

“That’s good eating, Maddy. Well done on catching them. How many got away from you?” he asked with a smile.

“Don’t tell the others but I had five or six. I didn’t know they can fly.”

“You’re better at it than I am, then. Put them into this pail of seawater while I help the others get aboard.”

It took another 10 minutes to get the other two on board and ready to help cooking. By then, Maddy’s pareo, which she had squeezed out, was nearly dry, though her shorts and top were still clammy. Yancey wore just his trunks and didn’t bother with a shirt. He was enjoying the sun. Nancy went below to change back into the same clothes she had had on in the morning.

Harlesden and Maddy looked over their edible loot. The Captain had caught two good sized snappers, which he had already gutted, filletted and put in the fridge. There were 15 scallops including Maddy’s three, but some of them, caught by Yancey, were rather small. The Captain showed Maddy the scallops’ tiny eyes, 50 or more on each shell, which amazed her.

“Wow! I thought they were just, like, shells?”

“Yeah. That’s what I used to think. But it’s a little animal living in the shell and it finds it useful to be able to see outside. I don’t know how well they can see, but you saw them fly around, so maybe they know which way they want to go.”

Next he showed Maddy how to measure the shells, explaining. “The ones which are too small, we have to throw back.”

“Why?”

“It’s so we don’t fish too many of them,” he explained. “The little ones have to grow up and become mummies and daddies for more baby scallops, or they could disappear entirely.”

“Could that really happen?”

“For sure. Humans need to be careful about what they take from Nature. Look at IRL, where codfish nearly got wiped out by overfishing. There’s hardly been any cod worth fishing in the whole Grand Banks for 20 years or more.” Harlesden’s father had been a trawlerman on the Grand Banks. He knew all about overfishing.

“But Mistress Kou can just restore the scallops from backup if they get wiped out.”

“Yes, that’s true here in The Server, but not IRL. Thing is, The Server isn’t just a playground, it’s a place where members learn by playing. Kou doesn’t want members to learn bad behaviour here.”

Maddy thought about this. Then she measured all the scallops carefully, throwing the small ones over the side. There were nine good big ones left. Harlesden showed her how to open the shells and cut the meat out. He washed the plump meat in fresh sea water and put it in the fridge.

“Doesn’t it hurt the scallops to be cut up like that, Captain?” asked Maddy. Now she knew they were little creatures with their own lives, she felt a bit disturbed to eat them.

“I guess it must, but they are very simple creatures and don’t know what is happening. I mean, they don’t understand what death is, like humans do, so they can’t be afraid.”

Harlesden thought he was getting into deep waters of philosophy, so he asked Maddy to wash the various seaweeds Nancy had gathered. While Maddy did this, he prepared the rest of the scallops quickly, and made a simple dressing of vinegar, sugar and soy sauce for the seaweed. He let Maddy chop the seaweed carefully, put it into a large bowl, and had her pour the dressing on and turn the salad to coat it evenly.

There were also some nice prawns Nancy had caught, but Harlesden felt they had enough meat for lunch, so he put them in the fridge for later.

Nancy and Yancey laid the table while Maddy was having her nature and cookery lessons. Harlesden dredged the snapper fillets in flour and fried them in butter. Nancy got several boxes of microwave french fries out of the freezer and zapped them.

They sat down to lunch; fried snapper, fresh scallop sashimi, lemons, marinated seaweed salad, and heaps of salty french fries, with lemonade for Maddy to drink and lager for the grown-ups. It was the freshest meal Maddy and Yancey had ever eaten, and they had harvested a lot of it themselves. At first Maddy was reluctant to eat the scallop flesh, but after one sweet, delicious slice she gobbled as much as she could get. The adults let her have her fill, and satisfied themselves with plenty of salad and fries.

Once the edge was off her hunger, Maddy wanted to tell everyone about her mermaid adventure. The Captain and Nancy helped her along with clever questions and prompts, and told her interesting facts about the sea and the islands.

Yancey listened, fascinated. A city boi by upbringing and lifestyle, he nevertheless had a love of nature from the childhood holidays of his baseline personality.

Eventually Maddy wound down and got sleepy, so they let her have a nap. The grown-ups cleared the dishes and made coffee. Harlesden and Nancy wanted to hear Yancey's impressions of becoming a merboi. They also discussed the afternoon dive, and made plans for Nancy to salt a location with "treasure" for Maddy to search for.

“Looking at the time, we should be able to get you into the water by 15:00. That’ll let you do a two hour dive and be out at 17:00 while it’s still light. Then we’ll head back to port. We’ll berth about 18:30. How does that sound?”

“It’s great, thanks, Captain. Do you think Nancy should come with us this second session?”

Harlesden turned to his assistant.

“The bay’s clean and bright. They’re more survivable underwater as mer-members than I am in a frogboi suit. I don’t think they need me.” She looked at Yancey, “Just keep a good eye out for sharks. There’s nothing else to hurt you.”

“I will. I wanted to ask about real mermaids. Captain, you said you’d had some dealings with them around here.”

“Yep, nodding acquaintance you might say. In general we try to keep clear of each other. They don’t want divers getting into their area, so I keep my diving expeditions away. In your case, I think it wouldn’t hurt if I dropped you off near their homes. Just don’t go bumbling in like a tourist. Treat them with a bit of respect.”

“I’ll be polite and cautious. But Maddy’s dream is to swim with real mermaids, so if we fall in with them and they’re friendly…”

“I’ve got to warn you that they seem to be making themselves scare recently. I don’t know why, but the past month or two I’ve seen them less often than before.” The Captain looked pensive.

“Well, we can try. If we can’t find a mermaid today, tomorrow we’ll let Maddy search for sunken treasure, and that should satisfy her.”

With these plans laid out, they drank another round of coffee before waking Maddy to prepare for the afternoon’s activities.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88


I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.13


The clock read 14:40. The Captain fired up the engines. Nancy raised the anchor and the Little Rascal set a course for the far side of the bay. Yancey woke Maddy up and helped her to get ready for her next mermaid adventure.

“Hey Maddy, we’re going to try and find some mermaids this afternoon.”

“.........”

Maddy was so thrilled that she was simply speechless. All she could do was draw a deep breath.

“If we don’t find any today, we’ll come back tomorrow and look for treasure, and look some more for mermaids.”

“Yes! Yes!”

“Make sure to use the head before we go. It wouldn’t be nice to be caught short in front of the mermaids.”

Yancy had already gone to the head. He knew intellectually of course that all sorts of marine creatures did their business around the bay, including mermaids, presumably, but the water looked clean and he didn’t want to spoil the illusion. He went up on deck to enjoy the breeze created by the cruiser’s movement. Maddy came up a few minutes later.

“Did you wash your hands, Maddy?”

She showed him a bit sulkily.

“Good. Will you check mine?

Yancey showed her his hands, backs and palms. She giggled.

Harlesden slowed the boat to a stop. Nancy let the anchor down, and ran up the flag for Diver Down. There were no other vessels in view, but safety demanded it nonetheless.

Yancey got onto the diving platform and transformed himself. It took as long as before, but it felt a bit less traumatic. He half blacked out. Once recovered, he rolled off into the sea and swam a circuit of the cruiser, then called for Maddy to come in.

Maddy eagerly transformed, and splashed into the sea. She was obviously very excited, as she left her bag and pareo behind again. Nancy climbed down, stuffed the pareo into the bag, pulled the drawstring tight, and handed it to Yancey. Maddy was already frolicking. She had lost sight of their purpose, so he had to call for her attention.

“Maddy, don’t you want to go and find the mermaids?”

“Oh! Yes!”

“Then put your bag on and let’s go.”

Maddy strapped the dive bag on her back.

“Maddy, you need to follow me because the Captain told me the way. Okay?”

“Yes, yes! Let’s go, Yancey!”

They swam off towards Klickan Point, which was a known haunt of mer-members.



Back at the hotel, Chanmi and Yura were still working on tuning Chanmi’s second AI. Janjan was bored. He suggested they go out to a cafe or somewhere they could at least watch the sea while the Sandbenders did its stuff.

Chanmi’s program didn’t need constant attention, so she agreed. They packed their stuff and found a cute cafe a short way up the slope. They established themselves at an outside table with a parasol and a good view of the bay and the marina. The waitboi brought them menus and they ordered ice teas or coffee and some sweet and savoury snacks.

Janjan settled down with a paperback. He had finished the hard-boiled library, and had had enough of cyberpunk, so he had moved on to spicy stories and weird fiction.



I floated weightlessly in cyberspace. My AI was running smoothly. The neon universe glowed and pulsed with a steady rhythm. Every few minutes the AI pinged me to ask for help. Sometimes it wanted human intuition to give it clues to break some security, sometimes it asked for advice or direction about what lines of enquiry to pursue. I could deal with the first thing easily enough. Sometimes I had to dip out and ask the Garden Fairy about directing the search.

I couldn’t understand the way the AI was searching, but my intuition told me it was running properly, so I kept back my spare Adderalls in case of future need.

Lunch came and went. Janjan was reading his book, the Dunwich Horror or something, his eyes popping at the exciting parts.

The waitboi came every 20 minutes to see if we needed anything. The cafe wasn’t busy, and I guess he was a bit bored. I felt we were fine to stay there all day as long as we kept buying some drinks and so on, only I was getting restless. The occasional trip to the loo wasn’t enough exercise.

My AI pinged me. By now it had developed a reasonable level of human language, though it did tend to text like Yoda.

>Darling…<

I had wanted it to know I was in charge, so I had told it to call me Mistress. But to the AI, I was the only other being in the universe, in the sense of an active sentient entity to interact with. Everything else was simply data resolving into patterns according to the instructions I gave it. A relationship that important can’t be denied expression. The AI was not submissive so much as… adoring.

“I am here. What do you want?”

>Darling, the place to go you need. I cannot find it. More data I need. Give me more data.<

“Show me.”

The cyberscape faded slightly and a road map overlay manifested itself. I recognised the map of Cay Largo, and various towns and villages. The datastreams convulsed, winding around each other like a cave full of luminous snakes making love, a hideous simile now I think of it. At any rate, the pattern was not clear to me. I knew I would have to drop some more smart drugs.

“I have to go and do something. Wait 1.8 million milliseconds.”

>Darling, no! Too long that is. Bored I will be, without you to talk to. Lonely I will be.<

“I will give you something to read.” I piped it the reading list Janjan had given me, plus the new list of his spicy horror novels.

>Slowly I will read them. I wait...<

I took my VR induction set off and the cyberscape faded. I had been in there so long that my vision was still overlaid with pale neon lights. Real world colours were distorted.

“What’s up, Chanmi?” asked Janjan.

“I gotta take a leak.”

He went back to his book. I walked slowly to the restroom and dropped 2 Adderall with tap water. I took a leak, because if the next VR session was a long one, I didn’t want to get caught short at a crucial juncture.

When I got back Yura looked at me with a questioning face. She’s got a whole lot of girl intuition. I think she knew I hadn’t gone just for a pee. But she didn’t say anything. Janjan just grunted and kept his nose in his book. I sat down and wired my brain up again. The cyberscape resolved in my mind’s eye, crowding out the mundane reality of the cafe.

>Darling! So long have I waited.<

“I’m sorry, but you must wait longer. I am not yet ready. I said to wait 1.8M ms.”

>I will reading more.< It hummed to itself, a kind of chiptune vocalisation of a track that seemed familiar.

“What’s that tune?”

>Freddy the Freeloader, Kind of Bloop it is from. Good it is, is it not good?<

I remembered the cafe’s BGM from earlier. This was the same album, some sort of jazz classic but done in a weird computer way. It was mad cool.

>A Freddy is what? A Freeloader is what?<

I piped it the API for the Oxford English Dictionary. That seemed to satisfy it for a few seconds. Then it chimed up again.

>Darling, more there is, behind a firewall. Help me…<

I dove in and saw what it wanted. The dictionary, though already colossal and growing in fits and starts all the time as new words were added, was only the distilled expression of a growing corpus of over 10 billion words and phrases, drawn from English language texts all over IRL. That would keep it quiet for a good long while!

I didn’t want the AI to lose itself in English, so when I cracked the security I installed a tight throttle, to make sure my AI would have to spend 80% of its time on the real problem.

>Thank you, Thank you, Darling!<

The AI hummed happily and played more bloopy music to itself as it spread its awareness over the three sets of data, the OED main corpus, Janjan’s weird fiction library, and the Cay Largo network.

I refocussed my own attention on the cave of luminous snakes. They were still coupling, writhing, parting company and reforming into new configurations, but things seemed to be growing more stable. The patterns were less chaotic. Whether this was the Adderall coming up, or the AI improving its resolution of the big data, was not clear. I needed a new approach.

“Janjan, I want to do some free associating. What do you recommend?”

“The boss always says he and Ms Moon generally drink rye, but I reckon anything works as long as it’s strong.”

I tapped into the bar system and ordered myself a double Dark N Stormy, with extra Aztec chocolate bitters, and a good squeeze of lime juice for the vitamins. It came in a few minutes. I was still in the ‘scape. I didn’t want to leave while things were resolving, so I used the bar’s security cameras to guide my hand to the glass without opening my eyes. The virtual screen showed me Janjan watching with open mouth, as I took the cocktail and sipped it confidently. It was cool and warm at the same time. The alcohol and spices offset the ice. I took a mouthful, and another.

My brain started to run on new frequencies.

My AI texted again, >Darling… I have found something.<

“What is it?”

>A house there is. Where it is, I do not see. Your help, please…<

I looked at the data. There were several knots forming. The AI could not pick the right one and needed my girl intuition. I needed Yura’s help. This was her home territory. I messaged Yura’s phone.

“Yura…!”

A phone pinged in earshot. I barely heard it. I was absorbed/engrossed/captivated by the ‘scape, the data, the slowly forming new reality.

“Chanmi…? Why are you pinging me?”

“I can only text you. I need to know…”

“Chanmi…? What?”

“I need to know, what do you miss the most when you go to the Central Server?”

“Uh… Fresh seafood of course! You do not get any fresher than in the Cays, uwu. Caught in the morning. On table for lunch.”

“Where do you buy your fresh seafood?”

“What? Why does it matter?” Emotion doesn’t come through on text but I could tell she was a bit annoyed. She must have thought I was just dicking around.

“It’s important. It’s a clue.”

Yura sent me the shop’s name. I told my AI to look at their price database, delivery schedule and recent changes in purchasing and sales.

The result: Prices of fresh fish and shellfish had dropped 15% over the last three months. The rate of decrease was accelerating. Sales were going up. Similar results from other retailers in the area. This was counter-intuitive. If people were buying more fish, the price should go up, unless the supply increased faster. What would increase the supply of fish? I checked fishing boat movements. No increase. The fishermen were going out for the same amount of time, but catching more.

I piped this data into a stats package and correlated it with the data Yura and I had generated for an index of unhappiness. It was a good correlation! But correlation does not equal causation. The people of the Cay liked seafood. It was one of the attractions of living here. Why would cheaper food make people unhappy?

It seemed significant, though, so I piped the information into my AI. 10 seconds later it pinged me.

>Darling. I have it. The house… I will show you.<

The knots of neon data solidified in a number of locations on the map overlay. The largest was a house out on Portis Head. It pulsed ominously.

“Why there?”

>Their fresh seafood purchases have been falling for weeks. They fell to zero last week. Some other houses show the same pattern, but this house is the one you need to investigate.<

“How do you know?” I realised my AI had improved its grammar significantly.

>It’s the largest and most expensive. Cars from the other houses visit there, not the other way around.<

“Okay.”

>Be careful. Bad things are there. The many-angled ones. I cannot describe them. Guard your mind as well as your body, Darling.<

“Thank you.”

I paused the AI, to stop it from getting bored while I went and did meat stuff. I was going to have to make a long term decision about my AI. I didn’t want to waste the amount of work I had put into it, and I had to admit it was developing an interesting personality. But that was the problem. Too much development and I might have the Turing Cops down on me. Bad times.

I unplugged myself. The others were looking at me gape-mouthed.

Yura spoke first. “Chanmi-chan, are you alright?

"I'm frosty. I've got a big lead on your case, Yura."


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.14


Chanmi kinda huffed a sigh, and I put my book down to see what was up. I hoped she had some proper news because I had just got to another good bit. She took off her headband and shook out her hair, which was plastered down with sweat. She took a big swig of her cocktail.

Yura said, “Chanmi-chan, are you alright?

"I'm frosty. I've got a hot lead on your case, Yura."

I sat up at that. “Watchu got for us, Dollface?”

For an answer Chanmi spread her Sandbenders out flat on the table, and typed a map up on the screen. I saw immediately it was the island of Cay Largo in 3D relief with a road overlay. I already knew some of the local road network thanks to driving all around the place the past few days, buying rum and stuff. But now there were kinda different strings plastered all over the top of it, gathered into knots in places. Chanmi pointed to them.

“This is a visualisation of the massive amount of data traces collated by my AI. The colours indicate the various types of information, such as taxi movements, cocktail sales, and medical prescriptions dispensed.”

We looked closer. It was like looking at many different coloured skeins of wool which had been unravelled and wound up again by a very messy knitter.

“I’m not seeing anything much.” I said, “Apart from a big load of coloured lines, all tangled up.”

Chanmi typed more commands. Layers of complexity melted away. In a few seconds there was one main yellow knot over Portis Head, and a dozen or so more small ones scattered around the general area of Tarpon Bay, Bahama village and Klickan Point. All the knots were inter-connected by thin lines.

“These knots are the location of households whose purchases of fresh seafood have dropped to nothing over the past few weeks. The lines connecting them are car journeys or data transmissions. Phone calls or messages, in other words.”

“What’s so interesting about that?”

“Two things, Janjan. 1. The price of fresh seafood has been dropping for several months. Seafood is popular round here. If it’s getting cheaper, why have these people stopped buying it? 2. The rate of decrease in prices correlates strongly with the increase in unhappiness indicators identified by Yura. If people like seafood, why are they unhappy it’s getting cheaper.”

“You know that correlation doesn’t equal causation, Chanmi.”

“Of course, but my AI generated this information from massive amounts of data, so I reckon it has to be considered.

I thought about it. I may look like a nondescript hard-boiled detective but I’ve been to business school and I know something about statistics.

“There must be another factor we don’t know about, which links seafood prices with unhappiness.”

“That’s boi logic at work. Actually it could be nothing, just a random correlation like you said. I bet you’re right, though. My girl intuition agrees with you.”

“Kuudere detectives, if these houses are something to do with the unhappiness, what should we do about it, uwu?”

“My AI says the main house, this one out on Portis Head,” Chanmi pointed to the one she meant, “is where we need to go. But it says it’s dangerous.”

“What sort of danger?” I wanted to know what we might be getting into before I charged off over there.

Chanmi typed a command and some computer text appeared on the screen.

>Be careful. Bad things are there. The many-angled ones. I cannot describe them. Guard your mind as well as your body, Darling.<

“Why’s it call you Darling, Chanmi?”

“It’s learnt English and I’m the only thing it’s got to talk to in its entire universe. It adores me. It’s lonely.”

“That’s… a bit sad, actually.” I thought of the AI sitting by itself in a dark place, waiting for a voice.

“Yes. I’ve got it on pause at the moment so it won’t get bored. Later I’ll have to decide what to do with it.”

Yura frowned deeply, “=n=, I have heard of the ‘many-angled ones’.”

Chanmi looked at her.

“So have I.”

Chanmi looked at me. I said nothing. She looked at me a bit more.

“You’re better off not knowing, Chanmi.” I told her. She looked at Yura.

“Someone’s got to tell me. I can’t work on a case without relevant information.”

Yura said, “I will tell you, but here is not the right place. Let us go back to the Belair and use one of our bedrooms, so we can be private.”

I paid the bill and got a receipt for expenses for the case. I didn’t think the boss would charge the Garden Fairy, but I wanted to keep our case files all good and proper.

We walked back downhill to the Belair. It was mid-afternoon, warm, sunny, with a light breeze. The beautiful little port town was spread out around us, with boats in the harbour and a shining sea beyond. It was difficult to believe there could be anything badly wrong with this corner of The Server, but the evidence was mounting up. There was a worm in paradise.

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
*1

We used the Garden Fairy’s bedroom for our confidential discussion.

“Chanmi-chan. There is an ancient body of myths, collectively known as the Cthulhu Mythos. It has roots in many cultures. It concerns powerful... entities… This is difficult.... =n=”

I broke in. “Basically, Chanmi, there are ancient forces in The Server, which existed here long before the members. Call them aliens, call them elder gods, whatever they are, they are dangerous.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. How could there be ancient alien gods in The Server before any members? It’s madness!”

“That’s the point!” I had raised my voice, due to the tension I felt. “These things, they are forces almost beyond human imagination. It can drive you insane.”

“How do you know this, Janjan?” she asked.

“From the books!” I showed her the reading list on my smartphone, the weird tales I had been digging into recently:

At The Mountains of Madness
The Shadow over Innsmouth
The Dunwich Horror
THE CALL OF CTHULHU

Chanmi looked at Yura. “Isn’t this just fiction? It’s just people’s imagination, right?”

“Chanmi-chan, surely it is obvious that in The Server, imagination can become reality. That is how magic works here. That is how your Sandbenders works. That is how I became a fairy.”

Most members ignore this fact about The Server and never think about it. They just go with the flow, because they’re living simple fantasies of catgirls and stuff, and it’s fun. But when you stop and think about the implications...

“Okay. Let me play this back to you,” Chanmi said. “If I get this straight, there’s a bunch of members around the Cay who’ve bought into this Cthulhu Mythos stuff bigtime, and because of them, bits of it are starting to become true?”

“Let’s not jump to conclusions, girls. Maybe we’ve got a bunch of members who are trying to raise Cthulhu or whatever, but so far they’ve only succeeded in doing some ordinary kind of nasty stuff. Frankly, we better hope Cthulhu isn’t coming because if that happens we’re all totally fethed -- please forgive my bad language, Yura-san.”

“It is understandable, given the situation, uwu.”

“Thanks. But if we’re not looking at a potential Cthulhu breakout, the kinda gakky moves that cultists like to pull are more than worth stopping anyway.”

“What kind of gakky moves?” Chanmi asked.

“Well. Cthulhu cultists might try to raise Dagon the sea god and his Deep Ones, for example.”

“What would that involve?”

“I don’t know. Something to do with the sea probably, like… maybe… capturing fishermen for sacrifices and stuff. I haven’t finished the book yet.”

“But Janjan, there haven’t been any problems for the fishermen. In fact, they’re doing better than before, because they’re catching more fish for the same work.”

“Yes. That’s right, but remember the unknown linking factor. What if the fishermen are sacrificing something to Dagon to get better catches.”

“Chanmi, Janjan, is there not a simple way to find out the truth? We only need go and look inside the house which Chanmi’s AI found.”

“Ms Yura, you’re right. We are just speculating, and we could be taking action.”

I liked the idea of getting some action. The horror book was good but reading all day meant just sitting around. Not very hard-boiled. I touched the butt of my heater to remind myself what I was.

On the other hand, the boss was away. I felt we should not rush in without his support. Another factor was that although the Garden Fairy was our senior in terms of detecting, at the moment she was our client too. The situation was complicated. I couldn’t see what to do for the best.

“Chanmi, we better check with the boss what he wants us to do.”

Chanmi got on her Sandbenders and set up a ship-to-shore call from her phone to the Little Rascal. As the senior of us two Kuudere detectives, I took the lead on the call when it got connected. A boi’s voice came on the line, sharp and clear.

“MV Little Rascal, SSR:8579. Captain Harlesden speaking. Over.”

“Captain Harlesden, this is Janjan, Associate Detective of the MPY Kuudere Agency here. You have my boss, Yancey 08620163#4336, on board…?

“He’s not on board right now, Mr Janjan. He’s diving.”

“I see. I have some important information for Mr Yancey. When do you expect him back from the dive, Captain Harlesden?”

“At 17 hundred hours.”

“Understood. When he returns, please would you inform him I called, and ask him to get in touch as soon as possible?”

“I will do that, Mr Janjan.”

“Thanks for your help, Captain. Um, over and out.”

“Roger. Out.”

The line cut off.

The dames had heard everything because we were on speakerphone. I looked at them. Chanmi seemed worried but more than that she seemed tired. She had been doing serious brain work for hours. The Garden Fairy looked calm, but she certainly wasn’t her usual smiley self.

“Ms Yura, may I speak frankly?”

“Of course, Mr Janjan.”

“You are greatly superior to me and Chanmi in experience of detecting. Also, you know a lot about magical things like Cthulhu.”

“It is true.”

“In this situation you are the client of the MPY Agency. So I can take instructions from you, however I will use my professional judgement to decide what actions Chanmi and I should take to carry them out.”

“Are you asking my advice, Janjan-kun?”

“In a kinda roundabout way, yeah.”

“My advice is that you should trust in your social intelligence and your hard-boiled instincts.”

My hard-boiled instinct was to rush over to Portis Head and bust into the suspect house. But my social intelligence told me that Chanmi was too tired to do anything much. I needed to find a compromise. I checked my wristwatch. 15:17. Nearly two hours until we could get in touch with the boss.

I looked at Chanmi. “Uh, Dollface, you’ve done a lot of hard miles today. If the boss was here he would be the first to tell you well done, so I’m saying it for him. You’ve done a great job, Chanmi. Thank you.”

She perked up and smiled.

“Here’s what I want to do. I want you to get your head down for an hour and take a good nap. Ms Yura, I want go over to Portis Head and do some surveillance on this suspect house. I’ll use binoculars. If you’re willing, I would like you to come with me. You may notice something with your Chuunibyo skills which I would miss.”

“Of course I will come, Janjan-kun.”

“Thank you. At 17:00 we’ll do a conference call with you, Chanmi, and get the boss on the line as well. By then we should have some surveillance info and that will help us to decide the next move.”

Chanmi nodded. She pinged the suspect house’s co-ordinates into my phone, and went to her own room. She looked washed out. I hoped an hour’s sleep would do her some good.

The Garden Fairy and I went out to a marine chandlery, bought two sets of binocs, and drove over to Portis Head. Yura had often walked or driven, or flown with her wings out over the Head. She guided me to a good location to observe the target while staying hidden. It was a spot where if someone got suspicious and came to check us out, we could look like tourists admiring the view. We got there about four o’clock and parked up.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

*1 The Sick Rose, by William Blake

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.15


Yancey and Maddy swam several miles across West Bay towards Klickan Point.

Yancey set a straight course and cruised steadily, while Maddy cavorted around him for the sheer joy of being a mermaid.

Their senses delighted in the feel of the water rushing over their skin, and the smooth working of their mer-bodies, which propelled them easily at 20 miles per hour. The play of the sunlight, the glints of fishes, and glimpses of other sea life meandering on the sand, entertained their eyes.

The audio environment was equally lush. All manner of hoots, clicks, booms, rustlings, bubbling and piping noises filled their ears, unfamiliar, and demanding to be interpreted. Then, a more mundane sound, a voice, singing…

At first Yancey thought it was Maddy, since it sounded like a child's voice, but as he looked at her she turned towards him and asked, "Yancey, can you hear that?"

"Yes. Maybe it's a mermaid."

Maddy was thrilled at the thought.

"Let's go and say hello."

"Sure, Maddy, only stick close to me and remember to be polite."

The song was not one Yancey recognised. It didn't sound like modern pop music, more like a folk song.

"The tide flows in, the tide flows out,
"Twice every day returning."
*1

It was coming from an area filled with rock formations. They slowed down as they approached. Groves of seaweed obscured the way, threatening a possible collision.

The voice was close now. Maddy called out, "Hello?"

The singing stopped. There was a swirling noise. They rounded a large rock to find an open sandy space maybe 100 feet wide, with a forest of large weeds in it.

Poking out from between two fronds was a childlike head with short blue hair. It was obviously a mer-member but Yancey couldn't say if it was a boi or girl.

"Who are you?" the head asked.

"I'm Maddy. What's your name?"

"Gabrielle."

"Hello, Gabrielle." said Maddy.

"I am Yancey. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Gabrielle," said Yancey rather stiffly. He was trying a bit too hard to be polite.

The smol mermaid came out of her hiding place among the seaweed fronds. She looked fairly like Maddy except for her blue hair. She wore a green bandeau top rather than a tankini, and had a shoulder bag.

"Is Mr Yancey your Daddy?"

"No, he's a detective."

"What's a detective?"

Maddy wasn't 100 percent clear on this so she just said, "He's looking out for me to make sure I don't get into trouble."

"Oh."

Yancey thought this was a good explanation so he didn't say anything.

"I'm in trouble with my Mummy. She's angry with me because I cut my hair short."

Now that the mermaid mentioned it, her haircut did look particularly amateurish and ragged.

"It will grow out again, Gabrielle." said Yancey.

"That's what I told her but anyway we had a big argument and Mummy shouted at me so I swam away to find Ursula."

Yancey was somewhat alarmed. “You’re looking for Ursula The Gay, Gabrielle?” He had no wish for another encounter with the weird Sea-witch.

“Yes, he’s usually somewhere around here, but I can’t find him.”

Maddy however was fairly keen to meet Ursula. “We’ll help you look. Why do you want to find Ursula?”

“I want to get a magic pearl and become a human.”

“We’ve got some pearls. Yancey can give you one.”

“Maddy, I can’t give magic pearls to a smol girl without her parents’ permission. It’s against safeguarding rules. And don’t give her your one behind my back, or it will be the end of mermaid adventures. I’m serious.”

Maddy looked sulky.

“Look, Maddy. if Gabrielle’s mother gives her permission, I’m sure we can spare some pearls. I'll give them to Gabrielle’s mother to give to her.”

Maddy's face brightened. She realised this would be a good excuse to go and visit the mermaids where they lived.

“I can’t go back to my Mummy until I’ve found my necklace.” The smol mermaid looked glum. “The string broke and the shells all dropped off in the seaweed here and I can’t find them, well, only one.”

She held out a hand and showed them a beautiful pink cowrie shell about two inches across.

“Ooh! It’s so pretty! How many shells were in your necklace, Gabrielle?”

“Six. Please would you help me look for them, Maddy and Mr Yancey?

"You mean there are five shells lost in the seaweed around here. Are they all pink like that?" Yancey asked.

"More or less the same."

"Of course we'll help! Won't we, Yancey?" Maddy was keen to make friends with Gabrielle.

He thought the search would entertain Maddy, and get her in good standing with the local Mer-members. Also it was just a nice thing to do. Yancey was kuudere and liked to help members in distress.

"Sure, Maddy.”

“Thank you, thank you!” Gabrielle looked pleased.

“We just got to keep an eye on the time. Captain Harlesden expects us back at five o'clock. If we're late, he'll worry.”

He checked his diver’s watch. It was just after 15:30. He set a one hour timer.

“Okay girls. We can spend one hour looking, then me and Maddy have to go back to our boat.”

“What have you got a boat for, Mr Yancey?”

“You can call me Yancey, like Maddy does. We’re humans who have become mer-members by using magic pearls from Ursula. That’s why we’ve got pearls to change back into humans. We can give one to you, if your mother allows it.”

“Ooh!”

“If we can’t find the shells today, can we come back tomorrow, Yancey?”

“Of course, Maddy. Actually, if you and Gabrielle like playing together, we can come back anyway, even if we find all the shells now.”

Maddy was delighted. Perhaps they would find the shells quickly and Gabrielle would be able to go home and introduce her and Yancey to her mother. Maddy imagined a lovely mermaid tea-party, and more underwater fun tomorrow.

Thanks to his detective skills, Yancey was able quickly to devise a grid search pattern for the girls to follow. He showed them how to do a careful fingertip search without disturbing the sand much.

“If you make a lot of mess and get the sand up we won’t be able to see anything, so take it slowly and carefully. You don’t want to bury the shells cause we’ll never find them.”

Maddy and Gabrielle started searching on the left of the grove, working side by side and talking to one another. Yancey went to the opposite side. He worked methodically over the grid, brushing carefully past the thick stalks of seaweed. Eventually he found a pink cowrie, then another one. “They’re probably all fairly close together,” he thought. “I’ll try to find all of them, then I’ll sneak up and drop them somewhere easy for the girls to find them, and they’ll be happy and proud. He checked his watch. 30 minutes gone. Plenty of time left.

It took a few more minutes to locate the last three shells, which were closely grouped. Yancy put them in his bag, then stealthily swam upwards using only his arms. When he got near the top of the weed forest he looked to see where Maddy and Gabrielle had got to. He was astonished to see a group of six human members in SCUBA gear, with a large sea sled, floating between him and the girls. They were all looking downwards, presumably watching the mermaids at their search. Suddenly two of the divers pointed what looked like spearguns downwards, and shot both Maddy and Gabrielle!

Horrified, Yancey saw the two smol mermaids jerk. They cried out in pain, and tried to swim, but their bodies went limp and drifted down into the sand. There was no blood, though. Yancey realised they must have been shot with some kind of tranquiliser dart.

His first instinct was to break out his bangstick and attack, but the odds did not look good. It was a single shot weapon. He could probably take one of them by surprise, then the other five would overwhelm him with darts and probably actual speargun shots too. And then where would Maddy and Gabrielle be? It grated, but discretion was the better part of valour.

As Yancey was thinking this, one of the divers looked up and saw him. He signed to the others and they all looked up, pointing various weapons at him. Yancey gave a great lash of his tail and shot off at speed. A dart went through the water just behind him. Another one hit him right in the flukes, but flicked out again instantly thanks to the rapid movement of his tail. He hoped it had not managed to inject him with enough chemical to slow him down.

Yancey realised that the divers would now have to reload and he had a few seconds to attack. He grabbed his bangstick, pulled an immelman and went at maximum speed back towards the SCUBA group. A spear flicked past him, a second creased the top of his tail, then he was in among them. He zoomed through the ungainly gaggle of divers and pushed the bangstick at the head of the sled pilot as he passed. It connected, there was a thud, and a shock ran up Yancey’s arm. The diver’s head erupted in a ghastly puffball of blood, brains and bone fragments. Yancey felt sick. He had never killed a member before. Now in hot blood and fighting for his, Maddy’s and Gabrielle’s lives, Yancey felt his unnamed killer aspect begin to stir. He sped off, another dart zipping past him.

The killer emerged from Yancey’s subconscious, suppressed the detective aspect and began to assess the tactical situation. He was outnumbered five to one, and he had been hit twice already. The divers were using fairly short-ranged handheld weapons, but he had noted two heavy harpoon guns on the sea sled. His weapons, the bangstick and the diver’s knife, were both contact arms.

His tail was feeling a bit weak, possibly the result of some chemical paralyser from the first hit, and he was trailing blood. Attracted by this, and the dead diver in the water, sharks would soon gather.

The killer stopped outside the maximum of a speargun. He reckoned he could outmanoeuvre the sled at this range if they steered it towards him to aim their harpoons. He reloaded the bangstick, and popped a shark repellant canister and then a marker dye pack, which created a growing cloud of pigment in the water. Using this for cover he dove straight down to the seafloor, went towards the shore, then turned to observe from behind some rocks.

The divers threw the body of their dead comrade off the sled. It began to sink to the seabed. The limp bodies of Maddy and Gabrielle were stuffed into nets and lashed onto the load bed. Another diver took the controls, and the sled began to move in the direction of the open sea.

He realised now why Yancey had not hear the kidnappers approach. The sled’s electric motors were very quiet, and the bubbles from the divers’ SCUBA gear sounded like part of the natural background. The four remaining divers were holding on to be towed, and as he expected, they were looking in all directions. One of them saw the killer and made a threatening gesture with his speargun.

“The sled is pretty slow,” he thought. “I can get in front of them, but there may not be any good terrain to make an ambush from. If I got lucky and killed another one of them without being hit again, sharks might attack, and the girls could get bitten too in the frenzy.”

The killer was realistic as well as ruthless. He realised it was no good to try and fight the SCUBA bois by himself. Nor could he hope to follow them far, because he needed to return to the Little Rascal and get help. A search for the sled’s destination could be made on land by Chanmi, using various clues.

He waited for the sled to pull well away, then went back to the body in the water. The head was ruined, useless for identification, so he cut off the left hand for DNA and prints. There was a ring on the little finger. He also took the regulator from the breathing gear. It should have a serial number which could be traced. Putting these items in his dive bag, the killer set course for the Little Rascal and made the best speed he could with his damaged tail. Having made these decisions, the killer retreated to Yancey’s subconscious, allowing Yancey to take charge again.

Despite his wound Yancey pushed himself hard. He reached the Little Rascal shortly before five and jumped out of the water onto the dive platform. He swallowed three black pearls and began to transform back into a human. As he changed, the cut in his tail got more painful. Instead of a slice across Dolphin blubber, it was a nasty gash across his buttock. It started to bleed again. The Captain climbed down to help him.

“Good Goddess, Yancey, what’s happened to you, and where’s Maddy?”

Yancey got up and climbed into the rear cockpit without bothering to put on any clothes. He held his dive bag in front of him to spare Nancy’s blushes.

“Maddy’s been kidnapped, and a smol mermaid we met called Gabrielle. I couldn’t save them. I’ve been shot. And I killed a member.”

He began to weep from emotion and shock.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

*1. English traditional.

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.16


The subtle danger of surveillance work is that it is tedious. The detective gets bored and inattentive, resulting in missed clues or in the worst case, discovery by the subject. To avoid this, Janjan-kun and I took it in turns to focus on the target house, or survey the surrounding area including the sea. Occasionally we got out of the car and stretched our legs, and to observe from a new angle.

The house seemed completely closed up and lifeless. The storm shutters were down. There was no movement, no pets in the garden, not even birds in the surrounding trees, I realised, with a frisson of nerves. A sense of foreboding began to build in my mind.

“Janjan-kun, I do not like it, =n= There is something wrong about that place."

“I know what you mean, Ms Yura. I’m feeling edgy myself.”

He checked his watch. “It’s nearly time for the call with Chanmi.”

In West Bay I could see a motor cruiser starting to move. It had been moored there since we arrived. It was too far away to see any useful detail. Janjan-kun took out his phone and pinged Chanmi. She replied a minute later. Janjan-kun rang her and put it on speaker phone so I could listen too.

“Hi Chanmi, how are you doing?”

“Pretty good, Janjan. I had a good nap and I’m feeling a lot better. How’s it going at your end?

“There’s been absolutely no movement. Something feels wrong but we can’t tell what it is.”

“Hmm. Well, shall I set up the call to Little Rascal? Hopefully Yancey’s back on board.”

It was shortly before five.

“No, better wait for him to call us.”

The motor cruiser in West Bay was accelerating, throwing off a big bow wave and wake. It suddenly occurred to me that it might be the boat which Yancey-kun had chartered. I watched as carefully as I could with my binoculars, but it was too far away. My foreboding got worse.

“Janjan-kun, Chanmi-chan, please would you start the call? My Chuunibyo intuition is trying to tell me something.”

“Is that so? Okay Chanmi, let’s do it now.”

There were some beeping and booping noises as Chanmi tried to connect to Yancey-kun’s phone.

***

Yancey dropped his dive bag, lurched to the gunwale, and vomited over the side. It was a reaction to the emotional shock, and partly a side-effect of the drug dart. Blood ran down the back of his leg and dripped on the deck.

Nancy understood what was happening. She had seen naked bois before, of course, and it didn’t faze her. She grabbed a towel, jammed it on Yancey’s buttock wound and made him hold it in place.

“Let’s get you into the cabin, Yancey. You need some first aid.” She looked at Harlesden. “Skip, can you raise the anchor and get under way without my help? I need to get this bleeding under control. We have to get Yancey back to town so he can be stitched up properly.”

“I’m on it.” The Captain took no umbrage at Nancy’s assumption of the initiative. He approved of her taking responsibility for the wounded boi. He started the engines and checked they were running properly, then winched up the anchor. He opened the throttles to 1/3rd ahead, and set course to round Portis Head. Once the cruiser was moving smoothly he ducked his head into the main cabin to see how Nancy was getting on.

She had Yancey face down on a towel on the table. She had cleaned the wound and was trying to close it with micropore tape. Blood was oozing and stopped the tape from holding. She opened a big shell dressing and covered the wound with it, then put wide tape along the edges to hold it in place. She laid a triangular bandage on top and got Yancey to turn over so she could tie the ends tightly around his hips.

“I’m very sorry about this,” he said, and tried to cover himself. While he wasn’t a monk, Yancey had some old-fashioned attitudes concerning nudity.

“Don’t worry about it. You’re injured and I’m giving you medical treatment. I just need to tie this tight, then we can put the towel around you. There...” She helped him to secure it like a skirt, using safety pins to preserve Yancey's modesty. “Now you just lie still. It’s putting compression on the wound, which will help stop the bleeding.”

Yancey felt too weak to protest. More than the pain of his wounds, the guilt and horror of having lost his two smol mermaid charges was depressing his spirits badly. Nancy put some blankets over him so he wouldn't get cold. She checked his foot wound. It was a minor cut and only needed a simple dressing.

With Yancey settled, the Captain felt it was time to push the Little Rascal to her limit. Smoothly he accelerated, until the throttles were at the stops. The cruiser tore through the water, heaving rhythmically in the swell.

“We should get back in 15 minutes,” he told Nancy. "I'll phone ahead and get an ambulance organised."

Yancey’s phone in his dive bag started to chime for attention. Nancey went to take it out, and shrieked as she found a chopped off human hand among the bag’s contents.

WTF is this?” She held it by the thumb, grimacing with disgust.

Harlesden was shocked, but not revolted. You couldn’t operate a dive and fishing boat without the danger of sometimes encountering some pretty gruesome sights. He had seen worse, from accidents and shark attacks

“Since Yancey’s a detective I guess that’s evidence. You had better put it in a plastic bag in the fridge, Nancy.”

He ignored the chiming phone, grabbed the ship radio’s mike and tuned to the harbour master’s frequency. Tarpon Bay was a pretty small place but they kept up with their emergency drills. It only took a couple of minutes to arrange for an ambulance to meet the Little Rascal at the marina.

He hung up the radio and picked up Yancey’s phone, which had stopped chiming. It was in a heavy duty waterproof case. The screen alert showed a missed call from ‘Chanmi’. Obviously a friend of Yancey’s. The Captain couldn’t leave his station with the boat running at full speed, so he waited for Nancy to come up, then handed her the phone to give to Yancey.

***

I rang Yancey but there was no answer. I started to get worried. There was a tension in the atmosphere, nothing I could put my finger on, but… a psychic malaise. That poem Janjan had quoted, something about a worm in a rose, poisoning it. Not a nice thought.

No! I was being stupid. People miss calls all the time, because they're in the john or whatever, and they ring back in a few minutes.

My phone rang, the ringtone I had set for Yancey. I grabbed it and pressed accept, then made sure Janjan’s phone was on the group call too.

“Yancey! It’s Chanmi. Are you okay?” (Why wouldn’t he be…?)

“Chanmi.”

His voice sounded flat, depressed.

“Chanmi, is Janjan on the call?”

“I’m here boss, and the Garden Fairy too.”

“Okay. We’ve got a real bad situation. Here’s what happened. I changed into a merboi and Maddy changed into a mermaid. We swam in West Bay. We found a smol mermaid and made friends with her. Gabrielle. That’s her name. We were helping her to find her lost shells.

“A bunch of SCUBA bois arrived with a sea sled. Six of them. They shot Maddy and Gabrielle with darts, and tied them up. I was the other side of a seaweed forest and they didn’t see me at first. Then they saw me and shot at me and I attacked them while they were reloading. I killed one of them with the bangstick.”

I stared at my phone, imagining the undersea battle. “WTF!" I thought. "That’s hardcore.”

Yancey continued. “I got hit in the fluke and the tail. I’ve got a big cut on my ass, now I’m a human again, but Nancy stopped the bleeding and they’ve got an ambulance to meet me at the marina. We’re heading there at top speed now.

“You know my, er, the aspect with no name. The killer. He came out. He took charge and got me away OK but the two mermaids, they were taken off out to sea.

“We’ve got to find them. I’ve got some evidence from the diver I killed. Meet me at the marina and I’ll give it to you. You’ll have to examine it while they stitch me up.”

They could all tell that behind Yancey’s calm voice he was nearly frantic with worry, fear and shame. They tried to absorb the impact of what he had told them.

“Boss!” Janjan broke in. “Chanmi got a hot lead on Ms Yura’s case. I think it’s connected with the attack on Maddy."

“What?”

“Boss, me and Ms Yura, we’re outside a house up on Portis Head which Chanmi’s AI identified as significant. We’ve been observing for an hour. With your new information, I now think we need to go in. Can we do that while Chanmi meets you?”

“Um. You think it’s connected?”

“Yes boss. Chanmi and her AI found an odd connection between seafood prices and unhappiness, but it needed a linking factor. Someone attacking mermaids is the link. Drive away the mer-members and they will eat less fish, but the happiness they bring to the Cays is also reduced.”

I realised that it fit brilliantly, but I wanted to get some numbers around it.

“Yancey, Janjan, I’ll set my AI to explore that idea. But if you’re right, the house you’re at is connected to the mermaid kidnapping gang and they’re proven dangerous. Don’t you want to wait for me to come up there?”

Yancey spoke again, “Chanmi, those SCUBA bastards, there were five left and that might not be the whole gang of them. Janjan, you and Yura keep the house under observation until I can get out of the hospital and come and help.”

“Yes, boss!”

“Chanmi, get down to the harbour and meet me. Please.” He rang off.

I realised we hadn’t said anything about the Chulhu connection. Everything had happened in too much of a rush. But maybe it was for the best. Yancey was already distressed mentally and physically. Why add to that burden now? And we weren't sure. It was still a suspicion, not a proven fact.

“Janjan, Ms Yura, if it’s okay I’ll ring off and get down to the harbour to meet Yancey.”

“Thanks, Dollface, you get going. We’ll wait here and keep up our surveillance. Ring us back when you have something to report.”

We both rang off. I set up my AI to do searches around the linking factor of the Cthulhu cultists attacking mer-members, stuff like time-series data on mermaid sightings. While it chuntered away on that, I put some useful gear into my bag and grabbed my armoured jacket and combat boots. I changed the patches to TSPD and Official. I checked my Glock, slipped my Sandbenders into my satchel and lit out for the harbour.

Tarpon Bay is pretty smol. I ran to the marina entrance, and then walked to where I could see the blue lights of an ambulance. It was parked near a large motor cruiser. The paramedics were getting a trolley ready to put a casualty on. A tall, good-looking girl waved at me from the boat.

"Are you Yancey's friend?"

"I'm his sidekick, Chanmi. You might have heard me on the phone 10 minutes ago."

"Sorry, I'm Nancy, I guess I'm Captain Harlesden's sidekick."

Just then they brought the stretcher with Yancey on it off the boat. An older boi was helping, he must have been the Captain cause he had one of those caps on.

"Nancy, thanks a lot for helping my boss. Can we swap numbers? I need to go with him but I want to talk to you later."

"Sure, Chanmi."

We pinged our contact info to each other.

"Chanmi, you should take Yancey's bag. His clothes and phone are in it, and some other stuff" … She whispered, "Like a human hand…"

"Dafuq!" Yancey had said he killed a member in the fight. He hadn’t said anything about chopping their hand off.

"The skipper said it's evidence, so you should have it. I put it in a ziploc."

Even though I felt a bit queasy, I took the bag and slung it on my back. It was still damp from the sea, but my jacket was waterproof.

"Thanks for everything, Nancy." I shook her hand and ran not to miss the ambulance. The medics let me ride in back when Yancey told them our relationship, so we could talk on the short drive to hospital.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.17


It took 10 minutes to reach the hospital. This was enough time for Yancey to give me a more detailed account of his encounter with the kidnappers. He finished with a plea.

“Chanmi, you’ve got to try and find out where they could have gone, using the clues I’ve brought back.”

“You mean the…” I waggled my hand at him, not wanting to name the nasty object out loud. The Server was a fairly relaxed place in various ways, but waving severed body parts around in public was outside all the conventions.

“Yes. That’ll give you DNA and prints, for starters. Toxicology on the tissue, nails and residual blood. Loads of potential clues. There’s a ring, which might have hallmarks, an inscription. Then there’s the oxygen regulator. That should have a serial number you can trace. Also you can look more generally into sea sled sales. There can’t be too many of those in operation. You can think of other stuff, I’m sure.”

I thought of doing traces on mobile phone signals. If the divers carried them, like Maddy and Yancey had, the signal would cut off under water, so there might be a pattern of outages.

“I can trace the serial number easily enough online, Yancey, but where can I get these lab tests done? The hospital doesn’t operate a walk-in forensics service.”

“Who’s your best friend, Chanmi?”

He meant Doctor Mayoi, of course.

“I don’t know that I can…”

“Chanmi…” He grabbed my hand… “You got to, for Maddy and Gabrielle’s sakes. We’ve gotta follow every possible line of enquiry with determination and speed.”

“What do you think will happen to them?”

“Nothing straight away. They would have been killed straight off if that’s what the divers were after. But it’s not a kidnap for ransom either, if Janjan’s idea is right.”

“You mean about someone attacking mer-members?”

“Captain Harlesden said the mer-members have been making themselves scarce recently, so obviously Maddy wasn’t the first one taken. There haven’t been any rumours of why it’s happening, though. Nothing like ransom demands, I mean, which we would be likely to get to hear about.”

“How? Mer-members don’t use Coins.”

“They have their own currency called Shells, but it’s listed in the same server operated by Mistress Kou. She would know if there had been demands or major expenditures. Kou would have asked the Garden Fairy to investigate. A case involving magical creatures right here in Yura’s back yard, but she doesn’t know anything about it.”

That made sense.

“What do you think then, boss?”

“I got several ideas and they’re all nasty. Let’s just say we don’t want to wait around to get the mermaids back. We need to move tonight, if we can.”

I was going to tell him the suspicions we had built up around the Cthulhu Cult idea, but the ambulance reached the hospital and the medics hustled me out of their way to take Yancey straight into Accident and Emergency. They weren’t going to let me talk to him during any procedures, so I found somewhere to sit down with my Sandbenders.

I gave my AI more searches to do; The serial number of the regulator valve, sales info about sea sleds, and the trawl into mobile phone outages. I left the parameters for that very loose, because it works better like that when tuning an AI at the start of a query.

Then I decided I had to talk to Mayoi. She picked up immediately. I felt guilty because I hadn’t rung her for a few days.

“Hello Chanmi, dear. How are you?”

“Uh, great, thanks. How are you?”

“Busy as always. Where are you calling from?”

“I’m in the hospital.”

“WHAT?”

“I’m not hurt, it’s Yancey. He was in a fight with, er... Look, this is a bit of a long explanation.”

“Give me the short version.”

“Ms Wallace who’s Yancey’s landlady hired the MPY to act as guardian and escort for Maddy…”

“Maddy the Freckle? The smol girl? Her little brother’s been in and out of my care a couple of times, and she always comes with him. She’s a good big sister.”

“Yep, that Maddy. We had to bring her down here to Tarpon Bay on Cay Largo. Near where the Garden Fairy lives.”

“Yes. What for?”

“A seaside holiday.”

“Okay. But something’s gone wrong, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Maddy and Yancey became mer-maids and then they were attacked by some divers just this afternoon. Yancey got shot with a spear gun.”

“Goddess! How badly was he hit?”

“It creased him on the ass. I don’t think it’s bad. He’s in A&E right now, being seen to. I’m here with him. But look, Maddy was captured and taken away along with another smol mermaid by this gang of divers.”

“Oh nooo! Oh nooo!”

“But we’ve got a bunch of clues on where they’ve taken her. The Garden Fairy, Janjan and I have been working on this case for a couple of days.”

“What? Since before Maddy got kidnapped?”

“Yes, we didn’t know it was related but it turns out it’s all part of one big case. So look, I need your help. Please.”

“Anything.”

“Do you know a medic down here in Tarpon Bay who can get some forensic work done for me quickly and quietly?”

“What sort of stuff.”

“DNA and toxicology on… a tissue sample.”

“Okay. Um, yes, you can go and see Doctor Foster. We were at med school together. He’s a good boi. I’ll give you an introduction.”

“Thank you thank you!”

“Is there anything else you want to tell me, Chanmi?”

“Yes. First, I’m sorry I didn’t call for a while.”

“That’s okay, you’ve called now. I can see you’ve been busy.”

“And, er, Mayoi… Yancey didn’t say anything about this but I think we need a Mod down here. I think we could be getting out of our depth. Can you go and talk to Kou?”

“I certainly will, after I get off shift. Any particular Mod she should send?

“EIther Scarlet or Tsuchimursu. Or both, even.” I knew they had worked with the Garden Fairy before.

“Okay. Consider it done.”

“Thanks.”

“Chanmi, take care.”

“I will. Goodbye now.”

”Goodbye.” She rang off.

Just then I heard the call on the public address to go and collect Yancey. I was kind of glad, because it meant I didn’t have time to brood about my call with Mayoi.

I went back and found Yancey standing next to the reception. He looked pretty chipper for someone with a big slash on their butt, and I thought probably he was on some kind of heavy painkillers. He was wearing a paper tracksuit and a cheap pair of flip-flops, which the hospital had given him because he came in with nothing but a bloody towel. He had a paper bag in one hand and a small rubber ring in the other.

“Hey boss. How are you doing?”

“A lot better. The doc said it looks and probably feels worse that it really is. It didn’t cut the muscle, only the skin. Nancy did a pretty good job to start with, and now I’ve been stitched up and bandaged pro style. They’ve given me painkillers and antibiotics and this circular cushion.” He held it up for me to see. It was like a very small beach ring about a foot across.

“So I’m suppose to take it easy for a few days, but you know that’s not going to happen until I get Maddy and Gabrielle back.”

I could see there was no use arguing with him.

“Doctor Mayoi gave me a name. To get help with the…" I waggled my left hand. "Doctor Foster.”

“She’s a great girl. I’ve got a lot of time for Mayoi.”

I gave him a bit of a sideways look.

“Sorry, Chanmi, I didn’t mean anything bad. Look, thanks for your work on this. Can you see your contact now? We need to get back to the hotel so I can get some clothes and my roscoe. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need it pretty damn soon.”

“I’m on it. You take a seat… well, maybe not. I’ll go and see Foster now and get things underway.” I didn’t want to take Yancey along because I could see he was high on drugs and nerves, and might mess things up somehow.

I got the reception to page Foster, He was expecting to hear from me and pinged my phone. Obviously Mayoi had given him the number. We arranged to meet in the staff canteen. I asked the reception the way and they told me easy enough when I said I was meeting him.

Foster was about 30, a tall, rangy dark boi with black curly hair and glasses. He was wearing chinos and an office shirt, no tie, and had a stethoscope round his neck and an ID badge. He looked cool and competent. He eyed my official looking jacket. We shook hands.

“What’s TSPD stand for, Ms Chanmi?”

“What do you think, Doctor Foster?”

The Server Police Department would be my guess, only there isn’t one.”

Public security within The Server was handled mainly by bots, the Mods, and sometimes the MPY Agency, like in the present case, though technically we were operating unofficially at the moment if you had to be picky about it..

“You got it, Doctor. It’s misdirection.”

We took seats at one of the tables.

“Well, Ms Chanmi. Normally when I get the chance for an informal chat with an attractive young lady like yourself, I would offer you a coffee, and engage in a little smalltalk and perhaps even mild flirting. But from what Mayoi said, you need some discreet forensic help and I am to give it to you right away. Let’s get down to it.”

I liked his frank manner.

“Thanks in advance for your help, Doctor. To give you the background, my boss is standing out there in reception with a butt full of stitches, a bag full of pethidine and cephalexin, and a rubber ring, because a bunch of SCUBA bois shot him in the ass with a speargun.”

“Nasty!”

“Yes. But Yancey got his own back. He didn’t come home empty handed.” I slid the plastic bag with the severed hand in it across the table. I was trying for a James Bond quip but it didn’t work.

Foster’s eyes popped out. He put his hand over mine. I mean over the spare hand in the bag, to hide it from notice.

“That’s what you want the forensics on, obviously.”

“DNA, plus toxicology for drugs and so on. There’s probably some blood still in it. I also need fingerprints and high res images of any hallmarks or inscriptions on the ring.”

“Not much, then.”

“Can you do it?”

“Yes. I can do it overnight. But why should I trust you?”

“Do you trust Mayoi?”

“Yes. Absolutely.”

“Drop .waifuinfo @ me.”

He did, and whistled softly.

“Okay, those are good bona fides. But even so, an underwater fight, casualties, some member’s hand chopped off. You’ve got to admit it’s pretty savage.”

“If you need to know more about me and the MPY Agency, contact one of the Mods. They’ll vouch for us.”

“Contact the Mods?”

“They don’t bite, Doctor, not even Mistress Kou.”

“Skyen bites, from what I’ve heard.”

“That’s not true. It’s just a stupid rumour that got started somehow.”

“Okay, Ms Chanmi. It’s not my job to judge you anyway. I’ll get these tests done ASAP. Do you want everything in one go at the end, or as it comes out of the different labs?”

“I guess as it comes. Anything might be useful.”

“I may keep you up all night then, Ms Chanmi.”

I looked him in the eye and put a serious tone in my voice. “Doctor, your work is important and valuable. Thank you for your help.”

“Well.” He smiled. “As the old saying goes, a friend of Mayoi’s is a friend of mine. Let me escort you back to Reception.”

When we got out, Yancey was waiting and wobbling. I shook Foster’s hand, and took Yancey outside where we caught a taxicab back to the Belair. It was only a few minutes drive but he wasn’t supposed to do a lot of walking.

Yancey fussed about getting comfortable on his ring cushion, then he turned to me.

“Chanmi, I need your advice. The doc said there’s a danger of infection, so every 12 hours I’ve got to check the wound for signs of inflammation like heat and pus and so on.”

“Yeah?”

“Well, I can’t see my own buttock. Who do you think I should ask to check for me? Do you think the Garden Fairy would do it?”

I thought of everything which was going on; a drugged up boss, kidnapped mermaids, a potential Cthulhu breakout, the threat of the Turing Cops breathing down my neck. It was the first facepalm moment of my cyberpunk career.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.18


I got Yancey back to the Belair and settled him on the bed in his room. He clearly wasn’t in a fit state to do anything much for a while.

He wanted rye whiskey. I checked the detailed information sheets which came with his drugs. There were no major contraindications for alcohol, so I figured it might help him to rest, and it did. He fell asleep. I pinged Janjan and he rang me a minute later.

“Chanmi, what’s up?”

I gave him a succinct account of the past couple of hours. I included Yancey’s advice that we had to move quickly, and that I was still making searches and correlations with the help of my AI. I also said I had asked Mayoi to go and speak to Mistress Kou about sending a Mod to help.

“Okay. Thanks.”

I heard him draw a deep breath. There was a lot of weight on his shoulders.

“Well. I think I want to go and have a look in that house. We’ve been watching for nearly three hours and there’s nothing going on. If it belongs to the mermaid kidnappers, they may come back soon, so let’s grab the chance.”

Yura spoke up, “I will come with you, Janjan-kun. If it is a cultist’s house, my Chuunibyo knowledge may be very useful.”

“Thanks, Ms Yura.”

“Also, I can do something helpful with my magic dust.”

“You mean like you could make us invisible?”

“It is not that powerful, uwu, but I can work a spell which will make us less noticeable. If we go stealthily, the spell will influence observers to interpret minor signs of our presence, such as floorboards creaking, or shadows moving, as natural occurrences to be ignored.”

“That would be copacetic! Thank you, Ms Yura.”

“Janjan senpai, do you want me to come out there and help?”

“Don’t take this wrong, Chanmi, I know you want to see some action, but there are several reasons why I want you to stay where you are. One is so you can keep an eye on Yancey, in case he has a drug reaction or something.

“Second is, I’ll keep my phone on speaker, so you can listen in on what’s happening. That way there will be evidence if we get jumped.

“Third is, you can scan for security and so on. I mean, you can monitor their power and data lines and see if there is some kind of surge when we break in, which would indicate a burglar alarm or something.”

“Okay, that all makes sense. Also I can monitor my AI’s searches, and the results of the forensics.”

“Exactly. Right, put your phone on mute and I’ll leave mine on speaker and me and the Garden Fairy will go and break in.”

I put on my VR rig, and brought up my phone interface in a window in the cyberscape. I started an audio recording and added a time-stamp.

There were some clicking and rustling noises. Probably Janjan checking his gat. He told Yura to “put these on”. The car doors opened and shut, and the trunk opened and shut.

Yura’s voice muttered something rhythmic accompanied by a tinkling sound effect. Her spell? My imagination was starting to fill in scenes I couldn't see and it was a bit scarey.

Quiet walking noises…

A whisper… “Chanmi, can you monitor the house now? We can’t see any signs of a burglar alarm or whatever, but if there is one, I’m about to break in using some tire irons.”

I messaged OK to him.

Deep breathing and a sigh of effort. Some crunching and tearing noises. A slight clatter of metal breaking, and the squeak of an unoiled door hinge opening.

“We’re in.”

There weren’t any surges on the traces I was monitoring, so I messaged that to him.

More quiet slow steps, and the audio took on the characteristic atmospheric background of an enclosed space.

“Yura, spread out a bit but let me go first.”

“Un.”

I didn't know what that meant. I found out later it's Japanese for yeah.

For a few minutes they seemed to creep around the place, until it was obvious there was no-one home.

“Okay,” Janjan said in a more normal voice. “There’s no-one here. Let’s switch on the lights and take a proper look around.”

Click.

“Dear Goddess!” Janjan’s voice, trembling. “WTF is that?”

“It is a profane altar, Janjan-kun, =n=. I am sorry you had to see it. Turn away and try to calm your mind.”

I heard the Garden Fairy moving and examining things. The sound of her phone camera taking pictures.

Yura’s voice, “This confirms that a cultist lives in this property. There are many blasphemous Mythos related artifacts and images here. They are unspeakable and loathsome, =n=. I have taken pictures for evidence, but I refuse to bring the objects away with me. Except this one. It is different to the others. I shall examine it later."

"You got a stronger stomach than me, Ms Yura."

"Janjan-kun, this confirms the lead discovered by Chanmi's AI. If we investigate the houses linked with this one, almost certainly they must belong to other members of this diabolic cult =n=."

"Yeah, you're right. But it doesn't prove a link to the mermaid kidnappings. We better look for documentary evidence."

Yura: “I wish I had thought to bring my Elder Sign.”

I heard them moving around with less stealth now, and sounds of drawers being opened, papers being riffled through, and bookshelves being searched..

Janjan: “Nothing. Let’s move on.”

They moved into another area.

Janjan: "We're in a storage room. There are jars of preserves, and a large freezer."

A click noise, the sigh of rubber seals, and suddenly… Janjan's voice...

"Oh! Oh Goddess, NO!"

"What is it?"

"Don't look! Yura, it's too vile for words."

"But Janjan!"

"NO!" He swung the door shut with a dull, rubbery noise.

“Janjan, I made the mistake of letting you see the idolatrous altar. I must face this… =n= this... =n=“

“It’s an abomination!”

“Janjan, please try to calm yourself. Return to the office and search for clues.”

“Yura, you’ll regret this for the rest of your life.” His voice was tremulous.

“I will take that risk, =n=. I am a Chuunibyo detective. I have a duty.”

I heard Janjan moving to a different room. They had forgotten that Yura would be out of range of his phone pickup. Suddenly I heard a distant shriek of horror! It was Yura’s voice.

“No! NO! Such… such diabolical... vileness cannot be borne!” She began to weep. Light steps came closer to the mic, and Yura’s sobbing got louder.

“Janjan-kun, we must leave this cursed place before we discover something worse!”

“I got no clues yet, Yura-chan. But I can’t stand it here any longer. Let’s get out!

The sounds indicated they were running out of the house. The atmos changed to an outdoor kind of background. After a few minutes of stumbling steps, with a sound of weeping and sniffling, there was the noise of car doors being opened and closed. The engine started, and for several minutes all I could hear was the exhaust, the rumbling of the tires, and a low stream of curses from Janjan.

“I should have stopped you, Yura-chan. I shouldn’t have let you look.”

“It is done, Janjan-kun. Do not blame yourself. Concentrate on the road. We must get safely back to Chanmi and Yancey.”

The phone cut off without any warning.

I pinged Janjan but there was no answer. Maybe he was busy driving. I hoped. I pinged Yura. To my relief she picked up immediately

“Chanmi-chan. We have seen something so… abhorrent that I will not describe it to you, =n=.”

“Yura-chan, are you safe?”

“Physically, yes. Mentally… I fear I may never be quite the same, =n=. I thought I was hardened to such… monstrous things by my Chuunibyo training. Now I realise… Nothing can prepare the normal brain for such degeneracy.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

She heaved a sigh. “Look after Yancey. He will need all his strength and courage to face what is to come. We have proved that there is a Cthulhu cult here in Cay Largo. You should be able to identify the members with the help of your AI. But we failed to find any clues about where Maddy could be. I don’t know what to do next, =n=.”

She cut the call.

I checked Yancey. He was sleeping peacefully, so I let him be. I got back into the Cyberscape and started to track down the cult members. Now the cult’s presence was confirmed, it was easy to use Bayesian probability theorem to confirm the houses of the other members. Property records identified them, and led me straight to their Coin accounts and phone numbers.

The data piled up swiftly, creating a web of near certainty to trap the culprits. There were 13 cultists. 12 now, I guessed, since Yancey had dealt with one earlier.

I moved on to analysing the movements of their phones. A pattern soon emerged. Groups of four to 13 devices left the Cay by moving to the cult’s presumed headquarters -- the house where the profane altar had been found -- then down to the shore of the Portis Head promontory, and then vanishing. Clearly, this was caused by underwater movement.

I tried scanning for the reappearance of their phones out to sea. I got no more than what you would call a faint glimmer. It seemed to put them in a small volcanic archipelago some 10 to 15 miles out, but there were seven atolls in the group and it was impossible to pin it down to one of them. Still, I had achieved something. I knew we were going to need a good boat.

Half an hour later, Janjan and the Garden Fairy knocked on the door. I let them in. They looked haggard. Janjan went straight to the minibar and got all the spirits out and poured two strong drinks. He handed one to Yura, and drained the other. He sat on the spare bed and kind of slumped, staring at his empty glass.

Yura took big sips from her tumbler, coughed, and took some more. She put it down half empty. I moved it away from her. I knew she wasn’t used to strong spirits, and a smol fairy like her would get drunk very easily.

Janjan spoke in a dull voice. “Chanmi, we have to tell you what we found there, because it’s important that you understand the implications. But Yancey needs to know too. We haven’t told him anything about the Cthulhu connection yet.”

“Okay,” I said. “Shall we wake him up and go for some food?”

“Yura and me have kind of lost our appetites, I reckon.”

“Janjan-kun, it is difficult but we must try to keep up our strength. We must think of Maddy and Gabrielle. We must not give up hope.”

“You’re right. I’ll do my best. Let’s rouse the boss and go down for some food.”

I woke Yancey gently. He seemed better than before. He was so pleased to see Janjan and the Garden Fairy, but I could see he was shocked and distressed by the way they looked. They in their turn seemed to recover a bit when they found that Yancey was a lot less bad than he might be, with his speargun wound.

We all had a quick wash and went down to a local bistro. Janjan and Yura refused the fish menu and had steak frites. So did Yancey, with a side order of boudin noir. I had croque monsieur. We drank a bottle of red wine between us.

The everyday normality of the little restaurant, the cheerful, cheesy background track of French harmonica songs, and the good food, helped make the horrors of the day seem more remote. Or so I thought.

As dinner progressed the dark clouds began to gather again. Yancey explained his battle with the SCUBA bois for Janjan and Yura’s sake, then we filled him in on everything we knew about the Cthulhu cult, and the connection with attacks on mermaids.

“But, a Cthulhu cult, Yura, are you sure?” he asked. “How do you know?”

Janjan broke in, “Partly from background knowledge, boss, but also because of… what we… what we... what we saw!“

“Yancey-san. Janjan-kun and I saw things at the cult house which, =n= =n= =n= have brought us to the certain knowledge of what has happened to at least some of the missing mermaids.”

“I’m not gonna like this, am I?”

If it is possible to whisper hysterically, Yura did it then:

“They have been eaten!”


TO BE CONTINUED

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.19


Yancey showed us how to search carefully for Gabrielle’s cowries, then he went off to search the other side of the seaweed forest.

Gabrielle and I began to search. At first we searched quietly, but I had so many questions I wanted to ask, that after a while I couldn’t help talking.

“Gabrielle… I really want to know what it’s like, being a mermaid.”

“What do you mean? You’re a mermaid now, Maddy. Can’t you tell?”

“Well, it’s things like your family, and what mermaid school is like... and what you eat. I only know about human life.”

“Do you have a family, Maddy?”

“Yeah, I have my Mom and my Dad and my little brother…”

“I have a Mummy of course, though she’s angry with me at the moment. I had a Daddy but I don’t know where he is now.”

Gabrielle seemed sad about her Daddy. I didn’t know what to say, so I changed the subject.

“What’s your favorite subject at school, Gabrielle?”

“English! What’s yours?””

“Mine’s English too. I love spelling. I nearly won a spelling competition.”

“I hate spelling. It’s too difficult! But I like to read and write stories in English.”

“I want to read your stories you’ve written, Gabrielle.”

“If we visit my home, I will show them to you. But I have to find my shells or my Mummy will be angry.”

We concentrated on searching for a while. But it was too interesting not to talk…

“What subjects do you do as well as English, Gabrielle?”

“Aquabatics, science, social studies, maths, art, and Old Mermish.”

“A lot it sounds like what I have to do. What’s Aquabatics?”

“Advanced swimming. How to catch all kinds of fish and things, how to avoid sharks, and different kinds of games.”

“That’s the same as sports at my school, ‘cept I don’t have to worry about fishing and sharks. We do swimming too, actually, in a pool. What’s Old Mermish?”

“It’s the true language of Merpeople. It’s a magic language.”

“Wow! Can you do spells?”

“I don’t know, not yet anyway. Nowadays we speak English everyday and learn Mermish for poetry and ceremonies. I haven’t learnt very much yet. Only a few grown-ups can do spells, actually.”

“Say something in Mermish, please, Gabrielle?”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t. I’m too shy…”

“Oh please…! I’ll say something in Spanish.”

“Spanish? I’ve never heard someone speaking Spanish. Look, I’ll write something for you.”

Gabrielle wiped her hand over the sand, to make it smooth. She used her finger to write some kind of signs. I couldn’t read it at all. It looked like flowing waves, and dots and bubbles. There was one word in English, too. My name, but it was spelt Madee.

“That says, ‘I met a new friend, Maddy.’ “

I gave Gabrielle a hug. “Thank you!” She hugged me back.

“Maddy, do you think Yancey would bring you to come and visit my Mummy? I feel like we won’t find the cowries, and if I go back without, Mummy will be so angry with me. I’m afraid to go by myself, but I can’t stay out here alone for the night.”

“Of course he’ll help. Yancey might look stern but he’s actually very kind inside. But look, we’ve got loads of time to find your shells. Let’s try our best at searching, I am sure we can find them. We can talk more later.”

Gabrielle smiled at that, and we went on searching quietly.

Actually I didn’t have a watch so I didn’t really know how long we had already searched, but I knew Yancey had set a timer on his watch and would come to get us. So I just went on looking for Gabrielle’s shells.

A kind of big shadow began to come over us. Gabrielle looked up and gasped. I looked up to see what had alarmed her.

It was a big underwater machine of some kind, like a kind of boat but running under the water, and there were five members around it, wearing underwater suits, a bit like the one Nancy had worn. A Frogboi suit, it’s called.

But Nancy’s suit had a helmet, you could see her whole face inside. These bois’ eyes were covered with goggles, and they had breathing masks with bubbles coming out. They looked bad and scary, like a fierce insect. They all carried some kind of guns, some with spears sticking out of the front, and some with a barrel like a normal gun but very wide. I was scared. I grabbed Gabrielle’s hand.

Suddenly two of the members pointed their fat barrel guns at us, and shot us with kind of darts. The fat round thing stuck in my tail. It was a stabbing pain, and I shouted out. Gabrielle was crying, and I saw she was hit too. The dart was stuck in her tail. I tried to reach the dart and pull it out of her.

I felt my body get heavy. Numbness spread from the dart up and down my tail. It must have been a sleep dart like you see on wildlife shows sometimes on the TV, when they shoot a big animal to make it sleep so they can capture it.

I wanted to swim, but my tail would not move. I tried to call for Yancey, and I found I could not say anything. My body went floppy, and I drifted down to the seabed, with Gabrielle next to me. I tried to keep hold of her hand. She was squeezing my hand very weakly.

“Who are these bad members?” I thought. “Where’s Yancey? Did they shoot him too? What’s going to happen to us?”

Although I couldn’t move my body, I was able to move my head and eyes a bit. I thought, at least I can try to bite them if they grab me!

I saw the bad members suddenly point their weapons off toward the place where Yancey had gone to search for Gabrielle’s cowries. They all shot, and spears and darts flew through the water.

“They must have shot Yancey!” I thought. It was horrid to think. “How could he escape so many shots?”

But the bad members quickly started to reload their guns, as if they were panicked. There was a sound of rushing water, and Yancey appeared, swimming very fast. He had his stick weapon in his hand. Blood was streaming from the back of his tail.

Yancey swam right into the middle of the group. He went over the top of the boat machine where I couldn’t see him. There was a kind of thud noise, and suddenly a lot of blood and nasty stuff came out over the edge of the boat. I couldn’t see what had happened. The water went pink in a big cloud. Yancey swam off, still trailing blood from his tail. The bad members had reloaded, and they shot at him, but I think they missed. I hope they missed.

I didn’t see where Yancey went. I wanted him to come back and fight them again, but then I thought it’s too dangerous. Yancey must go to get help. Anyway, he didn’t come back. I hope he’s okay.

The bad members went to their boat machine and then a body came over the side of it. The head was, yuck! I didn’t like to see it. I realised Yancey had killed that member by exploding his head with the stick weapon. I know it’s wrong to kill members, but I was glad Yancey got one of them. It might teach them not to mess with me and Gabrielle.

The body drifted down towards me, with a cloud of blood around it. Several members came down too, with big nets. They put me and Gabrielle into the nets, and swam up, pulling us along with them. They tied us down into the flat bottom of the underwater boat.

I tried to see what was happening. It was very difficult though. I couldn’t move properly, and the net got in the way. I realised the boat was moving and the bad members were being pulled along by grabbing handles on the side. I wondered where we were going.

***

After a long time the underwater boat slowed down, and it went into a tunnel of rock. There was almost no light and the frogbois switched on lights on their underwater boat. We went along this tunnel and came to an open space, like a cavern. They moored the boat machine, and took off their flippers and swimming stuff, because now we were in normal air.

They picked up Gabrielle and me still tied up in nets. They carried us along another tunnel in air until we came to a huge open space. There they took the nets off us. They took off my bag and my tankini top, and Gabrielle’s top and bag, so we were naked and had nothing to help us. They put our stuff somewhere I couldn’t see.

The dart drug was wearing off now. I started to move my tail and I tried to slap the members and bite them, and I shouted at them.

“Get off us, you ****ers! You’re gonna regret this. Yancey’s gonna come for me. He’s going to kill all of you!”

But they just laughed. I got a couple of slaps at them, but I couldn’t get my teeth into anyone. There were too many and they were stronger than me.

The bad members took us to a kind of bridge thing, made of rock. It went over a huge pool or tank of water. They threw us both in. We fell and fell, and splashed into the water. It hurt! At least it was seawater.

Gabrielle and I floated in the big pool of seawater. I was really angry. I think that helped me get over the drugs they had shot into me. I started to swim a bit. I moved to Gabrielle and hugged her. Her eyes looked so scared. I wanted to cry. I hugged Gabrielle, and she hugged me back.

“Maddy, what’s going to happen to us?”

“Yancey will come. He will rescue us. We’ve just got to be strong until he gets her.”

“Is Yancey really that strong?”

“Didn’t you see how he fought six of them by himself? He killed one of them and escaped all of their shots. They’re afraid of him now.”

“Really? I’m so scared, Maddy. Can Yancey really rescue us by himself?”

“Yancey’s got friends to help him. So don’t worry. We’ve just got to hang on here. Let’s have a look around.”

We started to swim hand in hand. We found the pool was a few hundred feet wide, and quite deep. It seemed like a kind of big round bowl. I could have climbed out of it if I had my human legs, but it was impossible as a mermaid. We went round and round and could not find a way out. Above us was open sky in a ring of rock. It was blue and sunny. I wondered how this kind of pool could be made. Was it natural?

“Look Maddy! There are tides in this pool. Can you see the marks where the water goes up to high tide?”

Gabrielle was right. The rock was a different colour, and there were mussels and anemones and seaweeds sticking to the rocks above the waterline. It was just like the rockpools I had explored with Garden Fairy Yura.

“What does it mean, Gabrielle?”

“It means there is a tunnel which goes out to the actual sea, so water can go in and out with the tides. Let’s look for it.”

We dived deeper to find the bottom of the pool. The water was fresh and clear, because it was renewed at every tide. There was sand and rocks at the bottom. There were some fish swimming around, just like in the sea.

“Maddy, we must look for a cave. It will be the mouth of the tunnel. We can swim down the tunnel and escape!”

We went to the edge of the pool and turned right. We swam steadily, looking for the mouth of the tunnel. A dark shadow loomed… it was the cave we were looking for! We turned into it, but it was very dark.

“Gabrielle, I can’t see much. It’s scary.”

“It’s okay, Maddy. I’ll use my mermaid senses to guide us.” Gabrielle gave a shrill cry, and the sound reflected from the rock walls around us. I got some sense of a space, and walls, and… I can’t describe it. I had the mermaid sense just like Gabrielle, but I had not grown up with it, so I could not use it properly. Gabrielle grasped my hand tightly, and we swam forward into the darkness.

A shape loomed, blocking the passage.

It was large, much bigger than a member. Rounded on top, and looked hard and shiny and there were… tentacles, rough skin and slimy, oozing… something!!! Something like…

I heard a burbling, and a piping noise.... I smelt…


TO BE CONTINUED

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.20


Chanmi said goodbye and rang off.

I sighed. I hoped she wasn’t getting into water over her head. Some crazy things happen down there in the south-west. Most of it is fun stuff of course, but... speargun shootouts, kidnapped mermaids…

Chanmi’s request to ask Kou for Mod support was ominous and urgent. I would have to get onto that as soon as I could get away from work. First, though, I needed quickly to arrange some forensic assistance.

I thought about my old friend and senpai Doctor Foster. He was in the year above me at medical school. We became close to each other, not in the way you might be thinking, more like an older brother-younger sister way.

Foster had specialised in pathology, which naturally is relevant to forensic work. We’ve always kept in touch since graduating, because in medicine it’s good to have some general knowledge of things outside your own specialism. Everything in the body and mind is connected, in some way. You have to look at the patient and their life circumstances holistically, otherwise you’re treating a symptom, rather than the actual cause of the disease.

I stopped brooding and pinged Foster on my smartphone. He pinged back in a couple of minutes, and I rang him.

“Doctor Mayoi. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Doctor Foster, how’s life down there in the wild south-west?”

“Oh, you know. It’s mostly peachy except for hurricane season. I haven’t had any run-ins with the natives, if that’s what you mean. You should visit me. They’re fine with tourists as long as you’ve got Coins to spend.”

Plenty of people had emigrated from the Central Server to the Cays, in search of warm weather, cheap beachfront property, and great seafood. The locals weren’t always too welcoming, because there’s a danger of it getting crowded and spoiling everything. Foster got on fine with them though, because everyone likes doctors, or at least they pretend to.

“I’ll check my calendar. Look, Senpai, I apologise in advance. I need to ask you for a favour. There’s a situation developing in the Cays. I am in contact with some detectives who are investigating it. They need a bit of medical support.”

“A situation... Hm. What’s going on?”

“I don’t know the details. My Waifu Chanmi is one of the detectives. She’ll tell you as much as she thinks you need to know.”

“Chanmi is going to be my contact, eh. How is she mixed up with these detectives?

“She’s from the MPY Kuudere Agency. She’s Yancey’s sidekick. He’s one of the senior detectives who started the agency. You can trust Chanmi. She’s in your hospital right now. She’ll be in touch straight away.”

“What kind of work is Ms Chanmi going to want?”

“General forensic investigations on a tissue sample.”

“No problem. My bread and butter. I’m on it, Doctor Mayoi.”

“Doctor Foster, thank you.”

We rang off.

I checked the time. It was nearly the end of my shift. Things were quiet, thank Goddess. An odd thing about being a medic is that you train long and hard to help people, but the ideal situation for patients is that no-one needs help.

I decided I should take the chance to get in touch with Mistress Kou straight away. If Moderation really was needed down in the Cays, the sooner she began to take things in hand the better. It was a pretty long way to Cay Largo.

I pinged Kou and got her secretary bot. Kou always has time for any member, but they rarely bother her because a lot of people think she’ll bite. We aren’t strangers, though, and it wasn’t a big deal for me to call. I got an appointment for 45 minutes later.

As soon as I was able to clock off I changed clothes and got across the Mod Channel to Kou's offices. The bot at the front desk ushered me through to a comfortable reception room, where another bot was laying out tea, coffee, and fairy cakes.

Mistress Kou came in without ceremony.

“Doctor Mayoi, it is always good to see you. However, I expect you have something important to discuss with me, since you called late and at short notice."

“Yes. Not to make a big thing of it, but my Waifu Chanmi asked me to come and see you.”

“Let us sit and take some refreshment while you gather your thoughts.”

We sat in easy chairs at right angles to each other. It can be intimidating even for a senior member like me to sit and talk with a Mod, let alone the ruler of The Server. I had tea and a lemon iced fairy cake. Kou had coffee.

“So. What is going on with Chanmi?” she asked after a few minutes quiet thought.

“It's not directly to do with her. Well, to be frank it is, but it’s not only to do with her. I mean, she is involved in a bigger situation which is worrying her."

“Perhaps you could give me a general overview of things. I will ask questions as they occur to me.”

“Of course. Well, Chanmi is down in Cay Largo with Yancey and Janjan from the MPY Detective Agency. She is a cyberpunk sidekick to Yancey now. They all went down there to escort Maddy the Freckle on a seaside holiday. They're in a place called Tarpon Bay."

"I know it. The Garden Fairy Yura lives near there. I am familiar with Maddy the Freckle too. Something bad has happened on this holiday, it would seem, and that is why you have come to see me.”

“Yes. What happened is this; Maddy and Yancey transformed themselves into mermaids. They went swimming this afternoon. They were attacked by some SCUBA divers. Yancey got shot with a speargun in his… gluteal area.”

“That is a medical term I do not understand."

“It means his buttock.”

“Ouch!”

“Quite. He’s in the hospital in Tarpon Bay now, getting stitched up, so it can’t be that bad. The much worse thing is that Maddy was kidnapped by the SCUBA divers, along with a smol mermaid they had met while swimming.”

“This is very bad news indeed!”

“Yes. Chanmi said the detectives have been working this case for a few days and have a lot of clues on where the kidnappers may have gone, and they are continuing their investigation.”

“How could they have started on a kidnap case before the crime even had occurred?”

“That I don’t know. Chanmi said there are two different cases which turn out to be connected. The key point is, Chanmi thinks they’re in danger of getting out of their depth. She asked me to come and ask you to send one or two Mods down there.”

“Hmm. It would be wise to do so. Did Ms Chanmi mention any names specifically?”

“Moderators Scarlet and Tsuchimursu.”

“Did Ms Chanmi say why?”

“No. I don’t know her reasons.”

“Well, Chanmi knows Tsuchimursu from the expedition to the Kappa. As for Scarlet, is there spirituality or magic involved, Mayoi?”

“Well, yes, obviously, considering that Maddy and Yancey were transformed into mermaids, which could only be done by magic. Also mermaids are magical creatures, as far as I know.”

“That is true. Well... As mermaids are involved I need to be very careful indeed. Unlike the Kappa, mermembers are a long established and welcome part of the diversity of The Server. We need to maintain the best relations possible with their kingdom. I cannot allow human members to go fighting underwater and kidnap mer-children."

Mistress Kou paused to gather her thoughts. I waited to see what she might decide. After a minute she looked at me.

“I will contact Yancey directly to find out what is going on.”

“Kou, that’s a good idea but you had better give him a few hours as he’s in surgery at the moment.”

“Surgery! You said it was not that bad a wound?”

“I meant it wasn’t life threatening. He will have stitches and some powerful painkillers. Also, losing Maddy will have been a bad shock to him. I doubt you will find him at his best right now."

Kou brooded to herself for a minute, then asked, "Is there anything else, any minor detail or piece of information you can think of, to add to what you have told me?"

I thought over what Chanmi had said.

“Yes. So, Chanmi and Yancey are at the hospital in Tarpon Bay, or they were about an hour ago. They may have left by now. I gave Chanmi the name of a doctor I know down there, Foster, so she could get some help with forensics on a tissue sample. I expect that’s one of the clues they have in the kidnap investigation. She also said that Janjan and the Garden Fairy Yura are on a stakeout, but she didn’t say where. I forgot to tell you that the Garden Fairy is working with them. I don’t have anyone’s contact details except for Chanmi and Yancey.”

“I know Yura’s details. Well! Thank you for coming to see me, Doctor Mayoi. I must contact Scarlet and Tsuchimursu, and find a way to get down to Tarpon Bay quickly. I want to find out at first hand what is going on. I have too little information to make any good decisions right now.”

“Thank you for your concern, Mistress Kou.”

A bot showed me out. I had nothing else to do, so I just went home and worried.

***

When Mayoi had gone, Kou took another cup of coffee and a fairy cake. She pulled up a mind-mapping app on her tablet, and started to make notes on transport, security, equipment, and personnel, while nibbling the cake.

The first thing was to find a way to get down to Cay Largo as quickly as possible.

Scarlet was at his Cathedral, in the centre of The Server’s urban channels, only 10 minutes away by taxicab. Tsuchimursu was at his remote home in the Saimaa region in the south-east. It could take hours to get there by a combination of train, car and boat. And Cay Largo was much farther out, on the other side of The Server, and there was no direct road or rail route.

They also needed to take some bots. Kou would need her assistant. She could rely on Tsuchimursu for personal security. Tsuchi knew how to handle himself, and had a powerful avatar to assume if things got seriously rough. Scarlet had no great physical powers and would need a security bot for a bodyguard. That made five in the team.

Who else would be useful? Someone from Fire and Rescue, perhaps. Their members had all sorts of skills useful in emergencies.

Next Kou thought about equipment and, reluctantly, weapons. There had already been fighting. There might be more. The MPY detectives were carrying pistols because they always did. It was part of their hard-boiled aspect. She doubted they would have taken any heavier weapons on holiday. Perhaps she should anticipate permission from Yancey, and retrieve his team’s shotguns from the agency office. Skyen’s magic ammunition was stored there too, which might be useful against special targets. Scarlet would want to bring his spiritual tools, of course.

Kou looked at her mind map. It was clear that some type of fast transport was the key problem.

Kou thought of Lord Yuzu. He was Princess Onecornchippy's uncle, and probably the richest member in The Server, though his true wealth was unknown, concealed behind a powerful firewall of exotic code. He paid enough taxes to avoid serious scrutiny.

Yuzu spent much of his time at his country house in the mellow west, playing the role of a minor British noble during the Jazz Age. Scornful of public transport, if he wanted to visit the Central Server he typically used his private flying boat, by which he was ferried in swift comfort between his boating lake and the East River. A flying boat was ideal to take her and Scarlet to collect Tsuchimursu from his lakeside home, then get everyone and their equipment over to Tarpon Bay. If Yuzu could be persuaded to lend it.

If not, the only alternative Kou could think of was Lt. Mike’s search and rescue helicopter, “Life From Above”. The huge noisy chopper, with its garish paint job, machine-guns, and rock music, was not a subtle way to travel. Besides, the Lt and his crew were currently on duty IRL, and she wanted to get moving tonight.

Kou instructed her secretary bot to place a call to Yuzu’s secretary bot. While waiting for the connection she sent a short message to Scarlet, asking him to prepare to leave the same evening for Saimaa. Another message went to Tsuchimursu, asking him to prepare for an expedition, and then a message to Skyen.

A Mod was needed to hold the fort in the central Server while Kou was isolated in the Cays. Skyen had useful programming skills, as well as holding the subtle and fierce avatar of Holo the Wise-wolf.

Finally, Kou messaged the Firechief to ask him to pick an on-duty member to join the team, and send them up to the Mod Channel immediately.

Mistress Kou poured another cup of coffee, and waited patiently for the responses to her various summonses.


TO BE CONTINUED

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.21


Mistress Kou poured another cup of coffee. She sipped, and waited patiently for replies to her various summonses.

Skyen was the first to respond. She lived in the Mod Channel anyway, so she simply walked over from her flat and reported in person within five minutes.

“Thank you for coming so quickly, Skyen.”

“Something up, Kou?”

“Yes. I need you to take charge here while I go down to Cay Largo with Scarlet and Tsuchimursu.”

“That sounds serious. It’s a long way to go. What’s happened?”

“All sorts of things are going on. Underwater fighting between Yancey the detective and some unknown gang of SCUBA divers, who have kidnapped a mermaid, and Maddy the Freckle. I do not know the full details. It needs to be handled in person. It may take a few days.”

“Fighting! A kidnap! How did the mer-members get involved?”

“I have to find that out, and keep the peace with them. I intend to fly down later tonight, if I can borrow Lord Yuzu’s seaplane.”

“I will hold the fort for you as best I can. What can I do to help right now?

“Skyen, I need you to go and see Ms Wallace, who is Yancey’s landlord for his agency office. She commissioned the MPY Agency to escort Maddy the Freckle down to Cay Largo.”

"Yes. Of course she must be informed. But what should I say?"

“You must tell her the truth, and present the facts as hopefully as possible. You must tell Ms Wallace that Maddy has been kidnapped, that the detectives are investigating, and they already have clues. You can also tell her that I am going to Tarpon Bay to help them get Maddy back safely.”

“She’s going to be so upset!”

“You will need all your powers of tact and empathy to console and reassure her.”

Skyen’s wolf ears and tail drooped sadly. She did not relish this task, but she accepted it as part of her duty as a Mod.

“Skyen, there is something else I must ask you to do. You have to collect some heavy weapons from the MPY office. The detectives will need them if things come to serious fighting.”

"Their shotguns, yes. Shall I fetch the magic ammunition too?"

"Yes. Also, you must open the special cabinet. The one where Yancey keeps The Gun.”

“I know it, but have we got a key?”

“I can generate a passkey for you. However, now I think of it, it would be wiser to detach the cabinet from the wall without opening it, and bring it with us for Yancey to open. He may feel The Gun is not needed. There is a danger of it triggering his killer aspect."

“You may need his killer aspect. But... Okay. How shall I get into the office?”

“I was going to say you could ask Ms Wallace to let you in, as she has a master key, but I do not think it will be helpful for her to see you gather all those weapons. Just ask to borrow her key when you tell her about Maddy.”

“I will need a couple of bots and a pick-up truck to do all this.”

“You have the authority to take what you need, Skyen. Bring everything back here, and leave it loaded in the truck.”

“Very well. I will set off now, and ring Ms Wallace on the way."

"Thank you, Skyen.”

The Wolf girl Mod whisked away with a perky twitch of her tail.

Kou’s secretary announced that Lord Yuzu’s secretary had him on the other line. Kou picked up straight away.

“Lord Yuzu. What a pleasure it is to hear your voice! Thank you so much for returning my call.”

“Mistress Kou, it’s charming to hear your voice. That said, I’m in the middle of a difficult rubber of Contract Bridge. There are many Coins at stake. If you don’t mind my not beating around the bush, what do you want?”

“To speak plainly, I want to borrow your seaplane for a couple of days.”

“My Grumman Goose, eh. What for?”

“I need to fly quickly to the very ends of The Server, carrying several personnel and some equipment.”

“Take my space shuttle, then. It can go anywhere in minutes.”

“You have a space shuttle, my lord?”

“Well, it’s more of a dropship, to be honest, Kou. You know the Starship Heart of Choko, which belongs to Princess Onecornchippy’s Imperial House?

“I am aware of it.”

“They’ve been refitting her. Captain Riley needed to, er… misplace a few items of equipment for which she wanted to indent for brand new replacements. So she gave me an old dropship. I’ve got it hidden in… well, it’s probably best I don’t say anything more about that.”

“It is a very kind offer, my lord, however I feel your seaplane will be more than sufficient to meet my needs. A futuristic spaceship would be very conspicuous and liable to alarm the members. My mission is not secret, as such, but I wish to be as discreet as possible.”

“Very well, Mistress Kou. I can deny nothing to the charming Mistress of The Server. When do you want my Goose, and where?”

“Now.”

“Right now? I think there are some technical preparations required. I suppose it will take an hour or two -- I don’t concern myself with such details.

“Of course.”

“And where shall she be landed?”

“Could it land in the Piazza between the Scarlet Cathedral and the Great Casino.”

“Of course, of course. She is an amphibian. She has wheels as well as a seaplane hull. Anyway I’ll have my butler arrange everything with your secretary. I must get back to the card table, or my guests will feel neglected.”

“Thank you for your kind help, my lord.”

“I wish you a successful mission, Mistress Kou.”

Kou left it to her secretary bot to make the arrangements for landing Yuzu’s plane in the Cathedral piazza. Tsuchimursu had pinged her during her conversation with Yuzu, so now she rang him. He picked up immediately.

Tsuchimursu tended to taciturnity unless he had something important he wanted to say. He listened silently to Kou’s brief summary of affairs, then cleared his throat.

“Kou, underwater fighting is not some thing I am good at. The forests are my natural place. However I will bring my rifle. And I will support you however I can on the land.”

“Thank you, Tsuchi. I will ring you again when I have a better idea of our arrival time. It will be after dark, though. Can you arrange for marker lights to guide us? We need to land on your lake.”

“Yes. There are lights at my boat landing place. Also there is the Moon. It is nearly at the full. I will send a suggested course to you. The pilot will have to use his judgement. It is wilderness. There is no control tower.”

The big Mod rang off to begin his preparations. He hoped Lord Yuzu had a good pilot.

A call from Scarlet…

“Kou, what is it?

Kou quickly gave Scarlet the summary.

“Okay, Kou. I’ve packed an overnight bag. I don’t know what spiritual tools to take unless you can let me know the danger we will face.”

“Unfortunately I do not have enough information yet. That is why I need to go myself.”

“Can’t you call someone? You said there are four detectives down there, and they have clues already.”

“Scarlet, you are right. I have been so busy making arrangements that it did not occur to me to call someone other than Yancey, and he is incapacitated. However Janjan and Yura are on a stakeout. It would be dangerous to call them now.”

“Then call Chanmi!”

Kou immediately called Chanmi on another line, but her phone was busy.

“I will try again later, Scarlet. For now, put together a general purpose set of spiritual tools. Our plane will land in the cathedral piazza, so it will be easy to load more equipment if I find out something before we leave.”

“Okay, Kou. Let me know as soon as you have more information.”

Kou realised her thought processes had become disorganised. She decided to restore her equilibrium by an interval of zazen. She went to a quiet room, set a 30 minute timer, and folded herself into position.

***

The timer went off, and Kou’s mind returned to the everyday. She felt clear and calm, ready to face the challenge. Kou went back to her room and wrote out a simple To Do list.

Contact Chanmi.
Embark in the Goose and fly to Saimaa.
Collect Tsuchimursu and fly to Tarpon Bay.
Find the detectives and debrief them.
Make a plan.

It was going to be a long night. Kou rang for sandwiches and coffee, then picked up her phone.

***

The big shape loomed ahead, blocking the tunnel. Light filtered in from behind us. My eyes had begun to get more sensitive. I could see more and gradually more of the monster.

It was much bigger than a member. The top was rounded. It looked hard, and shiny. A mottled pattern, the colours were hard to see. There was a bunch of tentacles, waving at us.

Some bubbles came out from somewhere. There was a piping noise, and burbling. It was like when my Mom puts the coffee machine on in the morning.

I clutched Gabrielle’s hand. I was so scared. I had never seen such a monster before!

The smell in the water, it was like.. It was like… like when Yancey had put his drug from his metal bottle into his coffee at the ice cream cafe. That chemical smell.

The tentacles pulled away and disappeared into the hard body of the monster. Something the size of a tennis ball poked out. It was like the eye of a snail, on a stalk, but much bigger. It stared at us. After a bit there was a bubbling noise:

“UWU. Hello smol mermembers.”

Gabrielle let go my hand and swam forwards, towards the monster!

“Hello Ursula. I was looking for you. What are you doing here?”

“Oh… Who is that?”

“Gabrielle, and my friend Maddy.”

“Oh… Gabrielle. Why are you here? You shouldn’t have come here. It’s not nice here. Well, the rum is nice, but I can’t use my magic. I want to go but they won’t let me. It’s so tiresome.”

I couldn’t see the mouth these words were coming out of, but some bubbles floated out of the shell.

“Bad human members shot us with darts, Ursula. They tied us up and brought us here in nets. They shot Yancey, who was looking out for us.”

“Yancey….? Is he the sailor boi I met, with the rum and the nice voice?”

“I… don’t know. Maddy’s Yancey has a nice voice.”

Gabrielle didn’t seem at all afraid of the monster, so I thought it must not be dangerous. I swam forwards and stopped next to her. The creature was like a huge mottled cowrie shell, and out of the lips of the shell a tentacle thing came with the giant snail eye on it. It was pretty spoopy.

“Um.” I didn’t know how to go on. Gabrielle poked me with her elbow.

“It’s only Ursula The Gay.” Gabrielle whispered to me. “You don’t need to be afraid.”

“Um. Mrs Ursula…” I said…

“I’m a boi, actually, smol Maddy merboi.”

“I’m sorry, Mr Ursula. … I’ve never met a sea-witch before.” I used to think a sea-witch would be more... relatable. “Mr Ursula, I’m not a merboi, I’m a mermaid like Gabrielle.”

A second eye came out of the shell of the creature. They both stared at me. It was a bit creepy. The bubbly voice burbled,

“Are you sure? It’s so hard to tell the difference. Nevermind, uwu.”

“Um. Mr Ursula, Yancey is my detective. You gave him magic pearls to turn me into a mermaid.”

“Oh, yes! I remember now. Was it that Yancey. He was very… romantic... in the moonlight. He gave me a lot of rum. Mount Gay it was. Yummy… I ate all of it.”

“You ate the rum?” I never saw Yancey eat rum. It was a liquid. He drank it mixed in something else.

“I crunched it up with my teeth. Glass bottles mean nothing to me. Yes!”

Gabrielle was getting restless.

“Mighty Ursula, I was hoping we could escape through this tunnel. It connects to the open sea.”

“You can feel the flow, smol Gabrielle, the tide.”

“Yes, so, I was hoping you might, er, move out of the way so we can go past…? If we can get out, we can go and ask for help to get you out as well. As you don’t like it here.”

“Yes, that would be nice, uwu.”

The tips of tentacles began to creep out of the shell.

“Only… Only.... Gabrielle. There’s a metal grill. I don’t think you can get out.”

Ursula began to emerge from his shell. He was like a kind of snail, with tentacles which he used to start moving to the side of the tunnel. As he pushed more of his body out of his shell, a flat fat head emerged, with a wide mouth, which was closed. I didn’t want to see it open. I think he could have swallowed me whole.

There was just enough space to scriggle past. Gabrielle went first. We went further down the tunnel and it got darker, with the body of Ursula blocking the light behind us but we could see light growing in front of us.

We came to a metal grill. The tunnel was completely blocked. It was too tight to squeeze through the gaps, and too heavy to lift. We were trapped.

“Maddy, what are we going to do?”

“If we could change into humans, I think we could climb out of this pool. We could escape back the way they brought us in, maybe.”

“But we haven’t got any magic pearls.”

“Gabrielle. Ask Ursula.”

“No!”

“You were going to do it before you met me and Yancey. Why not now?”

“Well... I’ll ask him.”

We swam back to Ursula The Gay.

“Mighty Ursula, you’re right. We can’t get through the metal gate. Please would you give us some magic pearls to change into humans? Then we can climb out of the lake.”

“UWU. I may be able to find one pearl. You had better look the other way. It’s a secret, how I make my pearls.”

We turned our backs. Ursula began to hum some tune. After a while there was a bubbling noise, then two plopping sounds.

“You can turn back now, little merbois!”

We turned back and looked at Ursula. She was holding out two tentacles. At the tip of one was a silver-white pearl. The other held a black pearl.

Only one of us could transform and escape.


TO BE CONTINUED

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.22:
Night Flight



Mistress Kou looked at Skyen.

“It is time to go. We need to drive to the Cathedral Piazza and meet Yuzu’s airplane.

“Yes, Kou. I have the detectives’ weapons in a pickup truck. The Fire and Rescue Service member has arrived, and is waiting outside.”

“Who is it?”

“Firegirl VioletMist.”

Kou remembered the name. VioletMist had been on the expedition to the Watery South, during the Case of the Halloween Hauntings. She had a reputation as a solid, reliable operative, though somewhat given to teasing of her crew-mates.

“Your PA bot and a security bot for Scarlet are also there.”

“Good. Thank you.” Kou paused. “Well, Skyen. Will you come and see me off?”

“Certainly, Kou. I shall drive you down to the Cathedral, and help load the equipment into the aircraft.”

Kou stood and stretched. The two Mods went out to the front of the administration building. A large pickup truck was parked there. Two bots were sitting in the load bed with some cases of equipment. VioletMist was leaning casually against the side of the truck, playing some game on her smartphone. As Kou approached she straightened up, and stood to attention.

Tall and athletic, VioletMist looked good in her orange Fire and Rescue uniform. Her hard hat hung from her equipment belt. VioletMist’s straw blonde hair, cut short as a boi’s, looked like a helmet, enclosing her oval face. She quizzed Kou silently with her grey eyes.

“Firegirl VioletMist,” said Kou, and bowed. “A dangerous situation has arisen in Cay Largo. I need a member with qualities to help me deal with it. The Firechief has nominated you. Are you willing to come?”

“I didn’t sign up for Fire and Rescue to have a quiet life, you know, Mistress Kou.”

“Good. Thank you for your service at such short notice. I will explain things in more detail as we travel. For now, we have to drive down to the main Piazza, where we will embark in an airplane for the journey.”

They all got into the pickup. Skyen arranged her tail comfortably, and started the ignition. She drove out of the Mod Channel, then down the main north-south axis of The Server. The road had been cleared of traffic and pedestrians by security bots, and curious members were watching from behind the cordons.

When she got onto the straightaway Skyen put the pedal to the metal. The pickup surged on its soft suspension, accelerated smoothly, and barrelled down the white centre line.

They reached the Piazza in a few minutes. The vast, empty square was flanked on its eastern side by the Great Casino, where Saki-bot rules the games, and punishes or rewards members according to her capricious whims.

The Casino was lit in bright neon. It directly faced the Scarlet Cathedral, a towering edifice with red lights crowning its twin spires. Scarlet the Moderator had built the Cathedral in the early days of The Server, to provide for the spiritual needs of members of any faith.

Scarlet was waiting in front of the great main doors, with a pile of equipment boxes. A medium height boi wearing a black cassock and a capello romano, his long straight hair also was black. This gave him a sombre appearance, which was relieved by the bright scarlet band of his hat, and his warm smile.

Skyen parked. Everyone got out of the pickup. Kou’s assistant directed the chonky security bot to load Scarlet’s equipment into the back.

Scarlet greeted them, and shook hands with everyone, even the bots.

“Kou, do you have any more news about what we will find, down in the Cays?”

“No, Scarlet. I have not been able to contact anyone.”

“Okay. Well, not okay, really. We must hope my general toolkit meets the demands of whatever we find. It would be better if I could select specialist items.”

“Yes. Perhaps we will be able to get through to the detectives during our flight, and obtain more information.”

A faint buzz of engines began to intrude on the quiet square. They looked up, and saw the navigation lights of an aircraft in the distance. The plane was a bright dot flying at low altitude in the north-west, lit up by the last rays of the setting sun. It swelled as it got closer, banked, and curved round to line up with the main road.

“That must be Yuzu’s Grumman Goose.” said Kou. “I hope they will be able to land safely.”

The spinal axis boulevard of The Server was broad, smooth, and well-lit. Judging by the plane’s motion the pilot was having no difficulty making a safe touchdown. The Goose came to earth, slowed, and taxied into the piazza. The plane rolled past the Cathedral, then turned slowly until it was facing north again, halting a hundred yards away from the gates. The propellors stopped turning.

The waiting members examined the seaplane with interest. It was a fat bodied craft, painted a gloss white, currently mottled with pale reflections of the various bright coloured lights in the piazza. It had a matt black panel on the long nose, to save the pilots’ eyes from glare. Yuzu’s personal emblem, a red frog perched on a yellow lemon-like fruit with a green leaf , was painted on the side of the nose, and a name -- “Grey Goose” -- in dark blue calligraphic letters. There were several windows in the side, including a large teardrop shaped blister.

The lower hull was shaped like a boat. It sat on two large wheels extended from its sides, with the nose up, and a smol wheel at the tail. The wings were set high on the fuselage. Each one had a chonky round engine with a three blade airscrew, and a pontoon or outrigger about halfway along, to stabilise the plane when it was sitting on water.

A door towards the rear of the port side opened, and two bois wearing dark blue flight overalls jumped out. They walked over to the waiting group. The first was about 30, tall, thin, fair-haired, with a pencil moustache, and had a monocle in his right eye. The second was shorter and seemed barely out of his teens. His rather shaggy hair was a vivid copper red. Kou was a redhead herself, and smiled to see another one. Both the bois had pilot’s wings on their chests, and epaulettes to designate their ranks.

“Mistress Kou. I’m Algernon.” the older boi said, in a clipped British accent, and held out his hand to shake hers. “Everyone calls me Algie. This is Ginger, my co-pilot.”

“Thank you, Algie, and Ginger, for your help.”

“Our pleasure. I understand from Lord Yuzu that this is not a leisure excursion, so I expect you want to get moving pronto.”

“Yes Algie. I wish to leave immediately.”

“How many PAX, passengers, I mean, and how much baggage is there?”

“There are five of us here, and we will pick up one more in Saimaa. There is the luggage, in the back of the pickup.” Kou pointed at it.

“Would you lend us a couple of bots? Ginger will help get it stowed safely.”

“Skyen will supervise the bots under Ginger’s direction.”

Skyen, Ginger, and the two bots climbed into the pickup and drove over to the Goose. Ginger unfolded a gangway from the plane’s door and went inside with Skyen. The bots began to unload the equipment and carry it up the ladder.

Algie, Kou, Scarlet and VioletMist were quickly introduced to each other, and walked to the aircraft.

Once the equipment cases were stowed, Skyen climbed out, and stood before Kou to make her farewell.

“Okay, that’s it, Kou. Your gear is all safe inside. Goddess-speed to you.”

“You will do fine here, Skyen, I am sure. Just Don’t Stop Believing. And do not bite anyone.”

Skyen pricked up her ears and tail at the joke. “I won’t, you can be sure, but Holo might need to.” She got back into her pickup and drove off, parked again in front of the Cathedral, and got out to wave goodbye to the expedition.

“Why is your plane called Grey Goose, Algie?” Kou asked. “It is painted white.”

“Lord Yuzu named her so because in England a white horse is called a grey.”

Kou reflected silently that there was no accounting for the eccentricities of the British.

Everyone except Algie and Ginger climbed the little folding gangway into the cabin.

The interior of the plane was surprisingly spacious and luxurious. Yuzu had had the aircraft customised to his preferences. There were six large, leather covered seats in the main cabin, and two smaller jump seats on the rear bulkhead, behind which the luggage was stored. Since there was enough room, Kou let the bots sit in the first class seats with the members. Through the windows they could see Algie and Ginger walking around the plane, making a pre-flight inspection.

The two pilots climbed in and stowed the folding ladder. They went through the door in the front bulkhead, into the cockpit, leaving it open. Various mechanical noises began, whirring, pumping, and the like. Algie came back into the cabin with a chart in a clear plastic membrane.

“Mistress Kou, this shows the Saimaa region of The Server. Can you mark the place we need to put down to collect the additional passenger?”

Kou consulted her tablet, and found the lake beside which Tsuchimursu lived. Algie marked the location on his chart with chinagraph pencil. He made a quick calculation.

“It’ll be about an hour’s flight. Is there a tower there?”

“A tower, Algie?”

“I mean some kind of air traffic control facilities.”

“Oh, no, nothing like that. It is a very wild area. Tsuchimursu will put out lights to guide you when you get close.”

“I see. Well, we’ve got the Moon. It’ll be fine, so don’t worry.”

He did not seem the slightest bit fazed. Kou guessed that Algie and Ginger had a more interesting history than was obvious on the surface.

Algie went back to the cockpit. The engines coughed into life. A voice came over the PA speakers. It was a different kind of British accent to Algie’s. It must have been Ginger.

“This is your Cabin Crew speaking. Please prepare for take off.”

They latched their seatbelts. The motors ran up to maximum revs. Algie released the wheel brakes and the plane began to roll, bumping slightly on the large flagstones which made up the floor of the piazza. She surged forward onto the smooth asphalt of the main strip, and picked up speed quickly. When she had gathered enough velocity her tail lifted, and the cabin floor became nearly horizontal. After another 30 seconds acceleration, the Grey Goose achieved V2, and kissed the sullen earth farewell.

The wheels retracted with clunking noises. Kou watched the lights of the central Server recede and wheel below her, as the Goose climbed to cruising altitude, and turned first east, then south, to follow the East River down to the Saimaa region.

The cabin became quieter once the climb phase was over and the engines were throttled back to cruising power.

Ginger emerged from the cockpit. He showed them how to unlock their seats and rotate them to face each other. This feature enabled Yuzu to hold business meetings in flight. Ginger offered drinks and snacks from a well-stocked bar, then returned to the cockpit to help Algie with navigation.

The Goose cruised smoothly through the darkening sky. The passengers sipped their drinks, and Kou laid out the situation to Scarlet and VioletMist. When she had finished, VioletMist said,

“If I can play this back, to make sure I understand it, Yura and Yancey have discovered some kind of gang who are kidnapping mermaids, there’s been an undersea shoot-out, Yancey's been hit, Maddy's been kidnapped, and we’ve got to help sort everything out and smooth things over with the Mermember Kingdom.”

“Yes. That is the broad brush description of the situation. I do not have any more detailed information so far. The detectives are discovering more clues. When we can consult with them, I am sure we will find out a lot of useful facts.”

VioletMist made no comment. She got up and went to Yuzu’s bar. She mixed herself a large gin and juice, sat down again, and took a major sip. Mistress Kou had nothing more to say. She checked the time on her smartphone, and messaged Tsuchimursu to get ready for the Grey Goose’s arrival.

***

The tone of the engines changed as the plane took on a noticeable nose-down attitude. The PA crackled. Ginger announced, “We’re in descent to the Saimaa lakeland. Estimated time of arrival is 10 minutes from now."

Everyone checked their watches or phones.

In the cockpit, Algie and Ginger were focussed on their task. It wasn’t easy to land in darkness, but they had flow missions like this before. Worse even. Landing on a lake in the moonlight was much harder when you were being shot at.

They circled until they were confident they had got the right lake, then flew to the eastern end of it, and turned back onto a westerly course. The Moon was now in front of them, and turned the water into a silver carpet. A faint, yellowish electric light was visible at the edge of their vision.

“We’d better get her down, then we can taxi to the landing stage.” Algie said. Ginger nodded. He lit up the main lights.

As they descended, the surface of the lake was revealed. It was difficult to judge heights and distances. For perfect safety the altimeter needed to be reset according to local conditions. They had to eyeball their height in the current situation.

The Goose flew lower and slower until her hull sliced into the surface of the lake with a gentle bump. She dropped speed quickly as Algie throttled the engines back. The seaplane settled into the water, and they were down safely. She leant on her starboard pontoon, owing to the distribution of weight onboard.

Ginger dove under the pilot dashboard into the front hull compartment. He crawled to the nose hatch and opened it. He took a mooring line and clinched it to the cleat on the nose.

The Grey Goose approached the eastern shore. A landing stage, well lit with electric lamps, hove into view. Algie trimmed his course towards it. There was a tall boi standing at the end, with a couple of kitbags next to him. It must be the Moderator Tsuchimursu. Algie throttled the engines to minimum revs, adjusted the blade pitch for zero thrust, and let the Goose drift forward under its momentum.

Ginger waved at the tall figure, and brandished his mooring line. The boi waved back and held out his arms. Ginger threw the coiled line towards him. Tsuchimursu caught it neatly, and took a turn around a bollard. As the plane drifted closer, the big Mod took up the slack, then pulled, until the Goose’s nose was securely moored alongside the jetty. He tied the line off. Ginger climbed out onto the nose, balancing carefully, and jumped onto the landing stage.

“I’m Ginger. This is the Grey Goose. Algie’s the pilot. We’re here to take you and Mistress Kou to Cay Largo.”

“I am Tsuchimursu, Moderator.” The big boi held out his hand for a shake. “This is a flying boat? I have never seen one before.”

“Yes, she’s a great ship, take you anywhere in The Server. Now look, Tsuchimursu, to get on board you’ll need to climb on the nose and climb into the hatch I came out of. Then crawl through the cockpit and go into the cabin.”

“I can do that.” Tsuchimursu stepped carefully onto the nose of the Goose, and dropped through the hatch. He turned for Ginger to hand him the bags and slid them into the cargo space, then ducked down and began to crawl through to the passenger cabin.

Ginger untied the mooring line, coiled the end of it, and stepped onto the nose. He unclinched the line from the cleat, rolled it neatly and stowed it, then got a boathook from inside the nose. He pushed the Goose away from the jetty as hard as he could. The seaplane floated slowly backwards. Ginger put the boathook away and got out a long poled paddle, which he used to turn the nose away from the shore. He took a careful look and gave Algie a thumbs up.

Algie tuned his starboard engine for minimum thrust and set maximum left rudder. The Goose began to move forwards and turn left. The two pilots watched carefully to see that the starboard pontoon would not hit the jetty.

Tsuchimursu crawled into the cockpit. He could see the pilot was busy so he said nothing, and went into the passenger cabin.

“I am here, Mistress Kou.” He nodded at Scarlet and VioletMist, whom he knew personally, and sat down in the vacant chair. “What is happening?”

“I will explain the situation after we take off.“

Ginger came into the passenger cabin. He poked his head into the blister window, which allowed him to see directly rearwards. He went and looked out of the other blister. He poked his head back into the cockpit. They heard the port engine fire.

The redhead boi turned to look at the passengers. “This will be bumpy.” He got into his seat, and strapped himself down.

The engines ran up to full power and the plane began to move on a straight course. At first it wallowed to and fro. Then as it picked up speed the Goose began pitching and heaving like a boat in moderately rough seas. Scarlet began to feel a bit sick. He could see a great cloud of spray outside the window, glowing in the light of the nearly full Moon.

Less than a minute later they were airborne. Algie angled the nose for maximum climb, and banked into the turn for the course to Cay Largo. Once they were flying straight and level Scarlet’s sick feeling abated. Ginger came back into the cabin.

“It’ll be about two hours.” he said, and offered more drinks and snacks. Once everyone had been served, Ginger went back into the cockpit. Kou explained the situation to Tsuchimursu. He said nothing in reply.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.23


Ursula the Sea-witch seemed very pleased with himself. His eyes twinkled and his wide mouth twisted into a kind of smile, filled with an assortment of spoopy teeth. He held up two sparkling new pearls in his tentacles. One was silver-white, the other was silver-black.

I looked at Gabrielle and she looked at me.

“Gabrielle, the silver pearl is to change into a mermaid. The black one is to change into a human. So only one of us can go.”

“You must go, Maddy.”

“No, Gabrielle, you must go.”

“No! You go, Maddy! You will be better at climbing.”

“But I don’t know how to swim home from here.”

“You can get to the human town easily. You’ll be able to see it from higher up on this island. I can tell we haven’t come all that far from West Bay. Just swim straight and fast. You’ll be alright. You can find human members to help. You can find Yancey.”

“But…”

“Maddy… Maddy… Please go… Actually I’m scared I couldn’t do it!”

“Why, Gabrielle?”

“I’ve never become a human. I don’t know how legs work. I don’t even know if I would be able to stand up!”

I thought about when I transformed into a mermaid for the first time. It was a bit difficult, but it worked, and I was able to swim really well straight away. But I had got swimming lessons at school, and swimming didn’t involve balance, really. Mermaids didn’t get walking lessons, or Gabrielle would have told me about them when we talked about school.. I thought about little kids crawling and falling over so much before they learned how to walk properly. I remembered my little brother being like that, a toddler.

Ursula broke in. “Smol merbois, someone must go soon or if you don’t the bad humans will come back and stop you. So make up your minds waxawdssdnvfj vf jvzfskskvb!”

He was becoming agitated. It was a bit scary.

Gabrielle said, “Mighty Ursula, I’m sorry. We are just deciding the best thing to do. We need a few minutes only. Thank you very much for making the pearls.” It seemed to pacify the bulky creature. He withdrew his tentacles into his shell, leaving only one eye-stalk looking at us.

I thought about everything. If I changed, I could climb out and get out of this cave place. I would have to find the way to the sea, then change back to a mermaid, and swim to Tarpon Bay and avoid sharks and stuff.

Then, if I found my stuff the bad members stole from me, I could change back into a girl with the black pearl Yancey had given me, and go and find him. He would know how to rescue Gabrielle.

If I couldn’t find my stuff, maybe I could be a mermaid and go find the Smol Rascal and get Captain Harlesden and Nancy to help me. Because they knew me as a mermaid and maybe they lived on their boat.

There was only one other thing I could think of to try.

“Gabrielle, are you a mermaid princess?”

“Why would you think that?”

“I don’t know. I just hoped your mom was the queen or something. So if you could go to her palace she would send help for me and Ursula. Because this is like a fairy tale, only a nasty one. In a real fairy tale you would be a princess for sure.”

“Well, I’m just an ordinary mermaid. But I miss my mummy and daddy even so.” Gabrielle started to cry. “I wish I hadn’t cut my hair and swum away from home and lost my shells.” She sobbed.

I hugged her close to comfort her. I felt her body shaking with her sobs. Gradually her sobs turned to sniffles, and her body got calmer. She hugged me back, and then she let me go, and she held my shoulders and she looked at me eye to eye. She put on a brave smile.

“Please go, Maddy…” Gabrielle said. “I don’t believe I can climb out of this pool.”

“Gabrielle, if I go, will you be alright by yourself? I’ll come back as soon as I can, I promise!”

“I will do my best. I’ve got Ursula for company.”

“Then I’ll go. I’ll find Yancey and make him go to the mermembers to get help from them.”

“Maddy, if you can find our stuff when you get out, take my one cowrie shell that I still had. It will prove to my mummy that you met me.”

“I will. What is your mom’s name?”

“Olympe.”

It sounded like O-lamp.

“Olympe. Olympe.” I said it twice to remember it properly. “Okay. I’ll go now.” I turned to Ursula. He pushed two tentacles out of his shell and gave me the pearls.

“Gabrielle, hold the silver pearl for me while I take the black one.” I gave her the silver pearl. “Let’s go back to the pool and find a good place to get out.”

We swam back along the tunnel, followed slowly by the Sea-witch, who didn’t swim, he crawled with his tentacles, a wriggling movement which was kinda yucky to watch, so I didn’t.

When we got to the big round pool, I started to look for a place where I could climb out if I had legs. It was easy to find. Some of the walls were not so steep. There were sticky out bits and holes I knew I could get a grip on with my fingers and toes. It was going to be pretty simple, actually.

“Over here, Gabrielle!” I called her. “Look here. I can get out here, if I change back to a human.”

“Are you sure? It looks impossible, Maddy.”

Gabrielle hadn’t ever had feet to climb with, so she couldn’t understand how it worked, but I knew I could do it.

“I can do it Gabrielle, I’m sure. I need to swallow the black pearl now, and I might faint. I fainted before when I changed. So can you support me?”

Gabrielle swam close and put out her arms to support me. She looked scared but determined, and I thought, “This is a friend I can depend on. I must get help for her.”

I started to cry just a bit, because I was pretty scared of the danger and the responsibility, but I blinked my eyes and pretended it was just some seawater. Gabrielle didn’t say anything if she noticed. I tried to feel determined.

I lay in the water, with Gabrielle’s arms under me. Both our heads were above the surface. I swallowed the black pearl.

***

I fainted during the change, and suddenly I found myself half-floating, half supported by Gabrielle’s arms. I gasped and looked at her. Her face was amazed. She had seen the magic transformation up close. It must have been spoopy to watch.

“Maddy, you really have become a human! You’ve got legs and everything.”

Ursula burbled something we could not hear properly. From the tone of voice, he sounded a bit miffed that Gabrielle had doubted his pearls.

I turned and got a hold on the rock wall. Now I was not a mermaid, I couldn’t breathe underwater and I was afraid of sinking.

“Gabrielle, thanks for helping me. I better go right away. Give me the black pearl.” I put it in my mouth, to leave my hands free. I thought that I must be careful not to swallow it by accident.

“No wait! I’ll get something for you to carry it.” Gabrielle dived down into the huge pool. After a couple of minutes she came up again with some fronds of seaweed. She deftly wove them into a little pouch I could sling around my neck.

“Gabrielle, you’re so clever!” I exclaimed.

“It won’t last long because it will dry out in the air, but it will be alright for a few hours.”

“Okay, I better go.” I hugged Gabrielle once more, with just one arm. Then I started to climb.

Gabrielle gasped as she watched me, but it really was pretty easy. In a few minutes I got to the top and took a look around. The edge of the pool had a kind of lip and when I went over the top there was a short rough slope to go down. Before I went down, I looked back and waved at Gabrielle. She waved at me. Then I went down the slope and I couldn’t see her. I felt lonely.

I was starting to feel a bit cold because I was still wet and hadn’t got any clothes. I tried to remember where the bad members had been when they took our bags away. I went there because it was a good place to start looking.

I found the bags, which had been thrown on a kind of rough shelf of rock. There were two other bags there which looked like Gabrielle’s but bigger. We weren’t the first mermaids to be brought here. But there was no sign of the others. I wondered what could have happened to them.

I searched all the bags, starting with my own. Nothing was missing. Even my phone was still there. I could just phone for help!

I got the phone out of its waterproof case and checked it was okay. It looked fine, so I dialled Yancey’s number. Then I thought a message would be better, because I should try to be as quiet as possible. I cut the call and looked around for somewhere to hide.

There were lumpy rock formations all around, and I got behind one and crouched down out of sight. I got my clothes out of my bag and wrung them as dry as I could. I put on my swimsuit and my water shoes. Everything was still damp, but I felt warmer and safer. I folded the pareo and put it in the bag. I got out my phone and wrote a message.

“Yancey! I’m inside an island with Gabrielle. Come and save us!!!”

But when I tapped ‘send’, nothing happened! There was no network. I felt more scared again, but I thought to myself I’ve just got to go on with the plan. Maybe I can get to a place where there is some network.

I checked for the black pearl Yancey had given me, and put it into the little pouch Gabrielle made. I put the pouch in my pack.

I listened, and looked round the edge of the rocks. There was no sign of anyone, so I went back to the other three bags. I took Gabrielle’s cowrie out of hers and put it in mine. I found a diver’s knife in one of the bigger bags. Now I had a weapon! I thought those bad members had better watch out. The last bag had another knife in it, so I took that too.

I went onto the kind of bridge thing which crossed over the big pool. I could see Ursula and Gabrielle in the water, and they waved at me. I waved the knife in the air to let them see it, then I dropped it into the water from the other side of the bridge, so it wouldn’t hit one of them by accident. Gabrielle swam over to the place, dived, and in a minute came up and waved the knife at me. I made up my mind to go. I waved at Gabrielle and Ursula for the last time, feeling lonelier than ever. Then I started to explore the way out of this place.

The whole area was kind of like a football stadium. Like a huge bowl with rising sides and a high roof of stone which had a circle of sky in the middle. It was getting dark. I couldn’t see any stars yet but the light was fading.

The centre of the bowl, which could have been the pitch, was the big pond with a raised lip around it. All around there were craggy rock formations. The way I’ve said it maybe makes it seem too regular. Actually it was mostly wild and natural, except for some places where it looked like members had worked to make it more… useful? The bridge, for instance.

I thought the growing darkness would make it easier for me to hide, but more difficult for me to find a way out. I started to circle the bowl lake, looking for gates or tunnels which might lead to the outside.

After a while I found a tunnel which seemed to lead upwards, so I went up. It was strangely smooth, almost like it was polished, but anyway I didn’t have much choice, so I carried on. When it got really dark I used the flashlight mode on my phone to see the way.

Eventually the tunnel let me out onto a rocky slope. I could see the open sky above. The sun was down, but there was a bit of light left in the sky. The Moon was beginning to rise. I knew the sun set in the west, and the Moon rose in the east, and Tarpon Bay was on the west side of Cay Largo. I needed to get to the eastern side of this weird island and look for the lights of the town.

I crossed the rocky ground as carefully as I could. It was good that I had my water shoes to protect my feet. I got nearer the eastern side, and I could see faint clusters of lights in the distance. They must be the lights of Tarpon Bay, I thought. The Moon was beginning to rise over the town.

I tried to send a message with my smartphone. The network signal was very weak. I couldn’t tell if the message had gone through or not. The phone didn’t think so. I headed down the slope, to try and find the shore.

It got darker as the sun completely set, but the nearly full Moon began to make it brighter as she got higher.

Eventually I reached the shore. It was a small bay with rocks around the edge and not much sand. Now I had to change into a mermaid again. I had only one white pearl, so I had to get it right.

I took off my shoes and shorts, and stuffed them into my pack. I lay down on the sand, right next to the sea. I took the silver-white pearl from the pouch Gabrielle had made for me. It glowed in the moonlight. I put Gabrielle’s seaweed bag into my pack, to have something of hers as long as I could.

I swallowed the pearl. I waited to change...


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.24

“EATEN!?” Yancey practically shouted, and stood up. Other diners in the restaurant looked at the detectives’ table in surprise.

“For Goddess’ sake are you telling me you saw Maddy and Gabrielle’s bodies there?

“Yancey-san,” said Yura. She stood too, reached out her hand to give Yancey a reassuring pressure on the shoulder, and made him sit down again. “It wasn’t Maddy or Gabrielle. The… remains we discovered were those of an adult or elder teen mermember. It might have been a boi or maid, it wasn’t possible to be sure.”

The big detective slumped down and put his hands to his face.

Janjan broke in. “Boss. What Yura’s saying is that we didn’t exactly hang around to do careful anatomy cause we were too rattled. It was a real bad atmosphere in that place. You can’t know what it was like unless you were there.”

Yancey sat up again. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry... Janjan... everyone. I’m not exactly my proper self right now. Just so I’m sure, you witnessed a partly eaten mermember body but it was too large for a child?”

“Yes, boss. It can’t have been Maddy. It wasn’t eaten like bitten… er… ”

“The corpse had been, =n= butchered. I am sorry to speak so bluntly but we have to be clear about it.” Yura’s head and wings drooped at the ghastly memory.

“I guess that’s fething bad enough.” Yancey said. “Maddy could be next on the menu. Or Gabrielle. Who the feth wants to eat mermaids anyway? I mean what the actual feth! I’ve never heard anything so fethed up.”

Yancey wasn’t a monk, but he wasn’t usually so foul-mouthed. It showed how rattled he was. Like everyone. There was a heavy silence. Janjan was first to say anything.

“Boss, it’s all mixed up with this Cthulhu cult.” Janjan shivered as he remembered the eldritch visit to the cult house, the profane altar with its obscene relics.

“I’m sorry you two had to endure that. Those Cthulhu guys, basically they’re dangerous loons. They’re bad news. Obviously they’ve got some weird plot going on, and it’s up to us to stop it. Yura, have you got anything we can use?”

Characteristically, Yancey was jumping ahead of things.

“I have an Elder Sign, Yancey-san. It can be very effective against Cthulhu monsters.”

“Yura’s right, boss.” Janjan took out his dog-eared copy of The Dunwich Horror. “It’s in the books.”

“Yeah. I read some of them myself, I know what an Elder Sign is. It’s like a stone with a sigil carved in it. Defensive magic. You don’t carry it with you, Yura?”

“No, it is at my house. =n=”

“We need to go and get it.”

“Uh, boss… !”

“What is it, Chanmi?”

“I called Mistress Kou for help. Well, indirectly. I called my Waifu, Doctor Mayoi, and asked her to go and talk to Kou.”

“...”

“That was a smart move, Chanmi. Good work! We better hope we get some help from Kou cause there’s only four of us, and we haven’t got any weapons ‘cept our pistols, and Yura’s magic, and the Elder Sign, and we need to go and fetch that.”

Chanmi’s smartphone beeped. She looked at the screen.

“It’s Doctor Foster,” she said. “He’s sent his forensics report.” Yancey nodded. Yura and Janjan looked at each other, then at Chanmi, with questions in their eyes.

She tapped at the screen to download the documents, and began to skim them. After a minute Chanmi looked at Yancey.

“There’s some pretty heavy stuff in this, sir. Maybe we should go somewhere private and consider the whole situation.”

“Chanmi, you’re right! Let’s get out of here. We’ll go to my room in the Belair.”

Yancey paid the bill, getting a receipt because Janjan insisted. The group decamped and walked slowly and silently back to their hotel.

All around them were happy members, enjoying the warm evening and the moonlight. There was a mental disconnect, a cognitive dissonance, caused by their knowledge of the dangerous cult and the mermaids’ sufferings, contrasted with the innocent, joyful atmosphere.

Yancey stopped at a convenience store and bought himself a legal pad and some different colour biros and felt tips.

When they got back to the hotel they set up a circular discussion around the coffee table in his room.

“Okay everyone!” Yancey said. “I said back then we haven’t got enough weapons. But I was wrong. We’ve got four good weapons we can put to use right now -- our brains. Janjan, what should we do?”

“Yeah. Well, boss, basic technique says that we need to create a timeline of everything we’ve done, document all the movements and actions today leading up to the crime, and continuing afterwards, and see how everything fits together.”

“Right. So let’s do that.”

He took out the pad he had bought and made five columns headed Yura, Janjan, Chanmi, Yancey, and Maddy.

The four detectives worked as a team. Using their memories, and the time-stamped messages on their smartphones and Chanmi’s Sandbenders, they got a history of the horrible day down on paper.

Laying down the timeline made the whole picture much clearer. They came to understand how their separate actions related to each other, and to other members such as Foster. The development of this narrative gave them the feeling they were getting a grip on the case. It helped to steady everyone’s nerves.

Yancey stopped writing and sat up. It was time for a comfort break.

“Good work, everyone. Who wants coffee? It’s getting late but we gotta get Chanmi’s information figured out too, and the forensic stuff.”

He took their requests and phoned room service while people made use of the bathroom.

Yancey was in the lavatory when room service arrived, so Janjan signed for the delivery. When Yancey came out he was wincing.

“What is wrong, Yancey-kun? uwu...”

“I got a stitched up fresh speargun wound on my ass, Yura. Use your imagination. I’m just glad I’m not a girl.”

Yura thought there was a lot to be unpacked there, but this was not the right time. Instead she turned to Chanmi.

“Chanmi-chan, you have been so clever with your little computer. What information can you add to the picture.”

Chanmi spread her cyberdeck out flat on the table to display the map function clearly. She called up the different records about the suspected Cthulhu cultists, built an overlay on the map, and explained her findings. She zoomed in on the large house on Portis Head.

“This is the house Yura and Janjan surveilled and then infiltrated. We know with 100% certainty that this is a cultist house because of physical evidence witnessed by Yura and Janjan.”

Everyone murmured agreement. Chanmi continued.

“These other houses, which you can see are highlighted and linked to the cult house, are suspected cultist locations. Based on a range of data including their communication records, vehicle movements tracked by the SPS* and traffic cameras, and purchases of seafood, Bayes theory calculations give a 99%+ percentage chance that my suspicion is correct.”

There were 12 more locations making 13 cult houses in total.

Yancey held up a hand. “Chanmi, do you know how many members live in these 13 houses?”

“Yes. 13 members, 1 per house, and I’ve got their identities as well.”

“How can you be sure, Chanmi?”

“From data such as mobile phone accounts and other records.”

“Then there are 12 of them left.” Yancey was thinking of the SCUBA member whose head he had blown off with the bangstick.

“Yes, boss, and only four of us.”

“Kou is coming. She will bring help.”

“...” Chanmi wasn’t entirely convinced by this argument. Still inexperienced, she hadn’t been involved in any violent detecting so far, and wasn’t particularly keen to begin.

“It is a witch’s coven,” Yura interjected. “I do not know if that is significant.”

“What’s a witch’s coven?” asked Janjan.

“Traditionally, witches gather in groups called covens, of 13 members, because it is considered an unlucky number, and therefore has magical significance.”

“There’s nothing in the Mythos books about witches’ covens, Ms Yura.” Janjan had read a lot of Cthulhu material recently.

“Well, then it may have no relevance to the case.” The Garden Fairy stood up and flexed her wings. “At any rate, there are more cogent factors to integrate. Chanmi-chan, you look like you have more to say.”

Chanmi zoomed out her map until a large area of sea was shown. She went on,

“The next thing is the mobile phone signals. I identified the smartphones belonging to these households and tracked their movements over the last four weeks and integrated everything. This data was in the previous plot too. It added to the Bayesian results. Okay, here’s what it looks like as an animation.”

She tapped a short command and another overlay appeared on the map, replacing the previous coloured skein with an animation of white dots laying down tracks behind them which zig-zagged, went straight or in curves at different points.

“The thing I want to point out here is the way we see the signals moving to the shore, cutting off, and re-appearing some time later, somewhere in these off-shore islands. Unfortunately, the signals out there are too weak to clearly identify if it’s a specific island, or maybe even a ship.”

Yancey looked at Chanmi with admiration. He raised his coffee cup to her.

“We’ll need a good boat. We should try to get the Smol Rascal again. Harlsden and Nancy already know a bit about what we’re up against. They’re pretty cool.”

“Yes, boss. I talked with Nancy and I liked her immediately. Good people, is what I thought.”

“That’s your hard-boiled instincts working, Chanmi. Okay, we’re making good progress. Let’s see what your Doctor Foster has turned up.”

Chanmi flipped the data package from her smartphone to her Sandbenders, to read it more easily on the larger screen. She scanned the information, wondering how to make sense of it without a medical background. “Should I ping it to Mayoi?” she thought. But it was late in the evening. Then she saw there was an “executive summary” which gave basic information in non-technical terms.

“Okay, boss. Here’s what it is. Foster has done a ton of work. He’s given us hi-resolution pictures of the fingerprints and the rings. That will confirm the identity we probably already knew. There is medical forensics too, like blood toxicology and so on.”

“What does it say?”

“Gender: Male. This guy was a major hophead! Traces of various stimulants and hallucinogens in the blood.”

“Like I said before, dangerous loons.”

“The weird thing is… the genetic markers are only 93% human!”

“What does that mean, Chanmi?”

“I don’t know, boss.”

Janjan broke in.

“There’s stuff about that in the books. Just hints. I don’t know how much we can trust them.. I mean the guy who wrote it all was pretty efdup so you got to take it with a big pinch of salt… but… interbreeding between humans and… Mythos creatures... is strongly implied.”

“I don’t even want to know any more,” said Yancey, “But could that mean mermembers?”

“I don’t think so, boss. Nothing to do with mermembers. If there’s been any… I won’t go into the details… it’s with central Mythos creatures. Deep Ones, probably. They’re a kind of fishman.”

“Isn’t that what mermembers are?” said Yancey. “This just keeps getting better.” Yancey was worried if he had contaminated himself by becoming a merboi.

Yura had done a lot of research into mermembers. She spoke from knowledge.

“Our mermembers of The Server are mammals. They are half dolphin rather than half fish, Yancey-kun. They are nothing to do with the Mythos.”

Yancey was still suspicious. “I suppose we could get some genetic samples from mermembers and confirm this.”

“Good luck asking them, boss.” Janjan had no wish to be involved in that kind of sampling programme.

Yancey poured the last drips of coffee into his cup and swigged them down. He checked his watch. It was nearly 11. Not so late under normal circumstances, but things were very far from normal. He had been running on fumes and adrenaline. He knew they all were. Yura and Janjan had been highly stressed by what they found at the Cult house. Chanmi clearly had done tons of heavy duty skull work, as well as the crucial liaison with Doctor Mayoi and Foster. He figured everyone was overdue for rest.

“Okay. We’ve done a great job. Everyone needs to get some rest now, so we’re ready for the next stage of the case. We’ve got a handle on it now, and things will look even better in the morning. Let’s all get our heads down."

The detectives said their goodnights and split for their separate rooms. They tried their best to relax and prepare for the stresses of the coming day.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88


*SPS is the Server Positioning System, a location mapping network similar to GPS In Real Life.



I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.25


I fainted.

When I recovered, I had become a mermaid again. I was lying on the sand at the edge of the water, looking up at the stars.

I pulled on my backpack and tried to get into the sea. I was like a walrus you see on TV nature shows. I had to kind of hump with my body and tail, and pull with my arms. It was harder than I expected, but I got to the water, to my relief, and slid in.

Even from this low down I could still see faint lights on the mainland. They must have been houses and small villages high up on the slope of the island. They looked far away. I picked the brightest one for a guide and started to swim. I swam under the surface, because it was easier, but I was afraid of losing my way, so every few minutes I came up to check the lights.

Soon I became more confident that I was going straight, so I kept down and started to swim harder. I tried to pace myself. I knew mermaids could swim fast and long if they needed to, but I wasn’t sure I could manage it. I was afraid of getting tired, but I was also afraid of taking too long to get help.

The ocean glowed above me, some effect of the risen Moon’s light on the waves. I couldn’t see well underwater, though. This made me pay more attention to my hearing. I listened hard for dangers. A strange feeling came over me. I realised it was the mermaid sense, beginning to strengthen because I could not rely on normal sight. I shrilled a cry, and got a feeling of the sea floor below me, and some nearby shoals of fishes. And something else, bigger, a way off.

I stopped swimming to listen carefully. I heard the normal sounds of the ocean, and... a very faint buzzing. Like some kind of machine. I saw a dim light through the water, like an electric light far away in fog. It was getting brighter, coming towards me! Suddenly I realised it might be the bad SCUBA members with their underwater boat. They could be moving late at night to keep secret from the Mods.

I gave another shrill, swam a hundred yards at right angles to my course, and shrilled again. Between my mermaid sense and the moving light, I figured out that the underwater boat was coming roughly towards me. I wondered if it had some kind of gear that could find me in the dark. Submarines have a ping machine to let them find each other underwater.

I wondered if I should hide, or swim away as quickly as possible. I decided to swim, because whatever happened I still needed to get back to Tarpon Bay, so I turned again and began to swim a wide curve around the enemy, keeping their light just at the edge of my vision.

I swam fast and hard. Pretty soon I could tell I was getting near the shore. I thought I had escaped the boat machine, because I couldn’t hear or see it any more. I came to the surface. I looked for the town, but there was nothing. Just an empty beach. I had swum the wrong way!

***

The Grey Goose cruised smoothly in the moonlit sky, her twin radial engines tuned carefully by the British pilots to run in precise synchrony. Their steady purr felt relaxing in the passenger cabin. Tsuchimursu slept, a valuable skill he had learnt during his time in the army. VioletMist had zonked out from the large drink she had taken. The two bots were in low power mode. Scarlet was meditating.

Kou looked out of the blister window. Its bulge allowed her to poke her head outside the fuselage to see the sky above, and the ground ahead, below and behind. They were flying under an intermittent cloud layer, which glowed silver with moonlight. The landscape of The Server -- forests, meadows, lakes, towns, and villages -- revealed itself ahead, passed underneath, and disappeared in her aeroplane’s wake. Kou thought about the members, the dreams they brought to The Server to make real, and their nightmares, which also might be made real.

“I must not become maudlin!” Kou told herself. “There is a job of work to be done.” She settled down to get as much rest as possible during the flight. It had already been a long day, and there was more to do before dawn. Kou reclined the comfortable seat and closed her eyes.

***

The tannoy clicked into life. Ginger’s voice came over the link.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re 20 minutes out from Tarpon Bay. We’re going to descend gently, and call the harbour master so they can get ready for us.”

Ginger radioed the Tarpon Bay harbour master’s tower.

“Tarpon Bay, this is G-YUZU requesting permission to land.”

“Roger, G-YUZU. This is Tarpon. You can’t land here, we’re a marina. The nearest airfield is in the north of the island.”

“We’re a flying boat, Tarpon.”

“Oh! We’ve never had a flying boat land here. Let me check the procedure. Wait five.”

“Roger.”

They heard some rustling and muttering.

Ginger muted his channel to Tarpon. Algie looked at him and said, “We had better buzz the area and check for boats before we put down.”

The radio beeped.

“G-YUZU, this is Tarpon. I am checking that the outer roads are clear for you. There is a light wind, about seven to ten knots, from the south-west. Here are the co-ordinates for the safe area.”

A string of map references followed, which Ginger took down neatly on his notepad. He pored over his cellophane wrapped chart of the Cay, and marked out a rectangle a mile wide by two long in chinagraph pencil. He passed the map to Algie, who studied it carefully, made another mark, and gave a thumbs up.

“Alright Ginger, that’s plenty of room. I’ll go inland, turn to fly out over the marina and buzz the outer roads. You keep a good lookout for anything on the water. When we think it’s clear, I’ll turn back, and we’ll use the harbour master’s tower for our landing mark. That will bring us in on a roughly eastwards course, so the moon will illuminate the water.”

“Got it, Algie.”

Ginger radioed this plan to Tarpon. The tower approved.

“I’ve arranged a berth at the end of our longest jetty. There will be a member there with a light, who will help you to dock.”

“Roger, Tarpon. Thanks for all your help.”

The Goose flew over the island at 2,000 feet, high enough to be noticed only by members who were out in the open. Whoever was about saw a white dart glowing in the moonlight.

The town was easy to spot, with its bright lights along Ocean Drive, the esplanade, and the marina. The seaplane turned westwards, descending to 250 feet once it was past the harbour’s breakwaters. There were no boats in the outer roads, and the surface was calm, so Algie reversed course when they were far enough offshore to have a very safe 3,000 feet of room to set down, even with the light following wind.

Ginger warned the passengers to buckle up. The plane dropped gently towards the surface of the sea, touched, and threw up great plumes of foam and spray as the hull settled into the water.

Algie reduced his engines to minimum revs, tuned the blades to neutral pitch, and pulled back hard on the control yoke. This pushed the tail down, causing the rear hull to dig into the sea. The plane slowed rapidly, then the nose dropped, and the Goose became level in the water.

Scarlet quietly decided to go home by train.

Algie set the motors for low speed water cruising and brought the Goose past the sea-walls into the main harbour. Ginger easily spotted the long jetty, with a member standing at the tip, waving a lamp. He blipped the landing lights to tell them they had been seen.

Algie let the Goose drift closer with her airscrews in neutral. Ginger left his seat, crawled into the nose, and opened the forward hatch to prepare the mooring line. Algie cut the engines, and the flying boat drifted on by momentum alone.

Ginger threw his line to the waiting member, who caught it neatly and put a bend around a bollard. Quickly they drew the nose alongside the jetty, and put a stern line from the rear cabin door to stop the hull from swinging. The harbour staff put out fenders to protect her, and at last the Grey Goose could safely rest after her long journey.

With the minimum of ceremony, Ginger helped Mistress Kou, VioletMist and Scarlet to get through the nose cargo space and climb from the hatch onto the landing stage. He, Tsuchimursu and the security bot brought up all the luggage and lofted it piece by piece onto the walkway. The harbour staff had brought a small electric cart to load it on.

Tsuchimursu handed up his hunting rifle in its case, then laid hands on a long canvas bag with something metallic inside. It was remarkably heavy. He untied the drawstring on the end to take a look inside. He found the barrel of a water cooled heavy machine-gun. Interesting. After some thought, the big Mod decided to put it back where he had found it. He climbed out onto the jetty, and announced,

“We have brought out everything except Kou’s secretary bot, which is doing a final clean-up of the cabin.”

A couple of minutes later Kou’s secretary came out, followed by Algie, who put a lock on the nose hatch. Everyone set off for the town. The marina staff member drove the cart loaded with baggage. The rest of them walked behind it.

Tsuchimursu paced next to Ginger.

“I found an unusual … machine tool among your cargo.”

“Oh, ah, the Vickers? That’s just for insurance, Mr Tsuchimursu. We’ve been in some sticky situations now and then. I don’t suppose we’ll need it on this job. We’ll probably fly straight home in the morning, unless Mistress Kou wants anything else.”

Tsuchimursu hoped it would be the case.

When they reached the actual shore there were three taxicabs waiting to take them to the Belair Hotel. The baggage was quickly loaded, and they got in for the short drive. A few minutes later the luggage was decanted, and they were quickly checked into the rooms which Kou’s secretary had reserved during the flight.

It was very late. Everyone was tired. Kou told them all to get some rest, order any room service they needed, and charge their phones. She went to her own room with her secretary bot, and pondered whether to ring Yancey immediately or in the morning.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88



I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.26


I lay in the shallow surf and looked at the shoreline. No town, only some lights of houses and villages higher in the hills. Where had I got to? Where should I head next?

I pulled out my smartphone and started the map. Quickly, the SPS zeroed me in. I was in West Bay, where we all had gone for seaside fun a couple of days ago. There was a road but no buildings nearby.

To get to Tarpon Bay I needed to swim left, No! right from here, follow the coastline and get round Portis Head. Then I would be able to see the lights of the town.

It looked a long way.

I put my phone in my backpack, dived into the water, took a deep breath, and began to swim.

I swam and swam, using my Mermaid sense to keep the shoreline in reach. I figured if I followed the shore, I would go a longer way but I would not get lost and I would be sure eventually to reach Tarpon Bay. It’s like how you get out of a maze by always following the right hand wall.

I swam and swam and swam. My throat began to hurt with the effort of shrilling for my Mermaid sense. Everything was taking too long! I decided to swim as fast as I could. I thrashed and thrashed my tail, shrilled and shrilled my Mermaid cries. I sped up, bubbles formed around me, and my flukes began to hurt.

Still I kept up the effort. If only I could reach the town, I would be able to contact Yancy and get help for Gabrielle and Ursula.

I rounded the point, and I was in the actual Tarpon Bay. I stopped to surface. The town’s bright lights were there in the distance! A while more swimming and I would get into the town and be safe.

I was the tiredest and scaredest I’ve ever been. But I thought of Gabrielle, and I swam on. I reached the harbour walls and swam inside. I started to look for the best place to turn back into a girl. I thought I could just swim up onto the beach and change back there, so that’s what I did. I reached the shore and humped myself out of the water. I got the black pearl from my pack, and swallowed it.

Once again I fainted.

***

Kou sat in the easy chair in her room and considered her options. She could call Yancey now, or wait until the morning. She glanced at the clock. It was past midnight. Kou reminded herself that a true hard-boiled detective would heave into action whatever time the call came. She picked up her smartphone.

Yancey’s phone rang, dragging him from sleep. He thumbed the accept button. “Who is it?”

“This is Kou.”

“Mistress Kou!” Adrenaline shot through Yancey, bringing him to full consciousness. “Hey, where are you?”

“I am in the Belair Hotel, room 219.”

“Chanmi said she had contacted you through Mayoi.” Yancey felt a wave of relief to have the Mistress of The Server so close. “Listen dollface, we got to meet, and soon.”

“I hoped you would say that, Detective Yancey. I need you to brief me about the Maddy case.”


“It’s bigger than Maddy, Kou. You’re not gonna like what I got to tell you, but you need to hear it. I’ll see you in the bar in 10 minutes.”

Yancey quit the call without waiting for Kou’s reply, got up, and quickly washed and dressed.

Mukatsuku! *1 Is he always like this, so abrupt?” thought Kou. She usually dealt with Yancey at arm’s length, using intermediaries such as Skyen and the Princess Onecornchippy, and had never interacted directly with the detective in the raw heat of a case. “Oh well, it was I who called him. I will have to go down.” She freshened her fragrance and went out to the hotel’s bar. It was open until 5 a.m.

Kou was first to arrive, as she had not changed out of her travel outfit. She took a quiet booth and ordered a Campari and soda. Its bitter-sweet taste and effervescence were refreshing.

Yancey appeared a few minutes later. He had thrown on a slightly rumpled double-breasted suit and tie, no hat. His short hair was wet and neatly combed. His face was tired but excited. He looked pretty dapper in a hard-boiled way.

Yancey was carrying a small rubber inflatable ring, which he sat on with a pained expression.

“Mistress Kou. You’re a sight for sore eyes. I kinda got in over my head here. I need help.”

The waitboi came to their booth. Yancey ordered a rum and cola, and a bowl of tortilla chips, then clammed up.

Kou guessed Yancey felt embarrassed about having lost Maddy and having to ask for help to get her back. She did not press him. She just smiled gently, sipping her drink.

Yancey’s order arrived. He pushed the bowl of tortilla chips towards Kou, to indicate sharing. She took a chip and bit the corner off it. The big detective sighed.

“Kou, how d’ya want to hear this? Shall I tell the story from the beginning?

Kou crunched and swallowed her bite of chip.

“I am already aware of the general background, Yancey. How you came to the Cay on a busman’s holiday with Maddy the Freckle. I need rather to understand the circumstances of Maddy’s kidnap in company with an actual smol mermaid.”

“Her name’s Gabrielle.”

“Yes. Also, it has been intimated that there are two linked cases going on. Please would you explain that part?”

“Yeah, right. The best way to do it is I’ll walk you through the timeline we built up.”

Yancey took a number of sheets of paper from his inside pocket and laid them on the table.

“This is everything that happened during the course of today, I mean yesterday now, documented with times, places and relationships to other events and people. The team built it up earlier this evening.”

Yancey led Kou through the events of the whole ghastly day. When she understood everything, Kou was appalled!

“Yancey, do you really mean to tell me that a Cthulhu Cult has arisen in Cay Largo, and the members have been kidnapping and sacrificing mermembers? Eating them!”

“Yep. 99%+ probability according to Chanmi and her AI. There’s eyewitness evidence from me about the kidnaps. From Janjan and Yura about the Cult’s altar and the butchered corpse. Then there’s the forensic evidence from Doctor Foster. You saw the genetics. When you take everything together, it’s 110%, don’tcha think?”

Yancey sat back. He took a handful of tortillas and began to feed his face. He waited for Kou to process the shocking information he had brought her.

The situation was worse than Kou had expected. She hadn’t relished the thought of making an embassy to the Mermember Kingdom anyway. Now there was the added problem of rooting out the cultists, who might have mind-warping magical defences. She would have to get more allies, and divide her efforts between the two objectives. Unless there was a way to combine them...

Kou sat up and took another chip. She thought about the available resources. Three hard-boiled detectives, one of whom was injured. A Chuunibyo detective with magical powers. Two Mods, one with strong physical and one with strong spiritual powers. VioletMist, whose idealism and compassion led her to help members in distress. One security bot, useless underwater but a significant force on land, if correctly directed. The contents of Yancey’s gun locker, but that would involve the killer… It might have to come to that. The Grey Goose and crew; she was sure Lord Yuzu would not mind her borrowing the seaplane for a day or two longer.

“Yancey. What do you see as the first priority?”

“We have to rescue Maddy and Gabrielle.”

“Where are they?”

“We don’t know for sure, but based on Chanmi’s work, they are on one of the offshore islands. So we need a boat.”

“I have a flying boat.”

“A flying boat? I dunno if it’s that useful, though. It’s not so far to the islands, I mean. You don’t need to fly there. How many people can it carry anyway?”

“Eight as well as the two pilots.”

“We need more members than that, if we have to fight all the cultists in a group. Who have you got with you?”

“Scarlet, Tsuchimursu, VioletMist, a security bot and my assistant. With you detectives, we have 10. However I will message Skyen to send more security bots. Excuse me for a minute.”

Kou sent a request for Skyen to muster 24 security bots and send them down by train and truck. She ordered her assistant to co-ordinate the transport arrangements.

“There. They will be armed like Scarlet’s bodyguard with non-lethal weapons: a tazer pistol, a shockstick, and a net-thrower.”

“I reckon we could use a boat as well as your floatplane. The Smol Rascal’s a neat motor cruiser, carry at least a dozen of us for a short trip, no trouble. Captain Harlesden and his mate Nancy are good people. They could be up for it, if we ask nice. Like VioletMist. I bet she volunteered. Because some members are like that.”

Kou inclined her head.

“Yancey, you are correct. VioletMist was nominated by the Firechief only because she was on duty at the time. I asked her to come, and she agreed. I would not have brought her otherwise.”

“There you are. Harlesden and Nancy are like that, I reckon. They’ll support us if you ask them the right way. ‘Good people’ is what Chanmi said about Nancy.”

“...”

Kou thought it made sense to have a motor cruiser available. The Grey Goose might have to fly home. If not, they might be able to use a plane as well as a boat.

“What else do we have to do, Yancey?”

“The other priority is we need to bust these cultists’ houses. Thanks to Chanmi’s work we’ve got their addresses. But I don’t know how to do that. I mean we need to hit them hard, all at the same time, if we can. I’m a hard-boiled detective. I’m good at streetwise moves, not the kind of special weapons and tactics we need for this kinda work.”

“Tsuchi can help with that. He was in the army. I’ll let him direct the security bots”

“Chanmi can help, too. She’s got this AI she’s trained up for surveillance work.”

“Good. Thank you.”

“Listen Kou, do you want to kill these members?”

“No. Given the evidence though, they must be banned from The Server, as were the potato counterfeiters. *2 If it is done by their death, I will not shed tears for them.”

“I’m not a killer, Kou.”

“You have been a killer. You have been a warrior.”

“That wasn’t me. I don’t want to be a killer anymore. That’s part of why I came here, to The Server.”

“I… know that, Yancey.”

“...”

“Yancey, there are two different purposes in being a warrior. One is to defeat the enemy. The more important one is to save your friends and restore peace. Either can mean having to kill.”

“...”

Yancey grabbed some more chips. He waved to the waitboi for another drink.

“Yancey, I apologise in advance for what might happen. I have brought your weapon locker.”

“Then... I dunno. My number 1 priority is to get Maddy and Gabrielle back. If I have to become him again to do it, I will. Obviously we gotta get these cultists into custody too. Then what?”

“At this stage I will not pass judgement. But if the evidence is correct, they have committed grave crimes against the Mermember Realm. I will hand them over to the justice of the sea members.”

“You better go and see the Mermaid King, then.”

“Yes. The ruler is a queen, actually. It will be a difficult interview.”

“Show your respect to her. Go as a mermaid.”

“How, Yancey?”

“I’ve got plenty of magic pearls left. Captain Harlesden knows where the mermembers live. He can take you there on the Smol Rascal.”

“Will you come as my bodyguard?”

“I didn’t do so great at guarding Maddy.”

“You could not have anticipated what was going to happen.”

“Thanks for saying that, Kou. I know in my head you’re right, but I still feel bad in my heart. But look, I don’t reckon I can risk changing again with this slash on my ass, I mean my behind. I’ve been stitched as a human, not a merboi. It would tear open.”

“Who could go with me?”

“Nancy would be a good choice. She’s an experienced diver and knows the area and the hazards. Maybe VioletMist would go too. Once you change, it’s pretty easy to swim and everything.”

“I see. I will have my secretary charter the Smol Rascal for two days.” Kou messaged her assistant. “Now I think I will say good night. I will set early alarms for everyone. There is a lot to be done in the morning.”

“Goodnight, Mistress Kou.”

Yancey sat by himself after Kou had left, nursing his drink and crunching his chips, until his mind began to settle enough to think of sleep.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

*1 How annoying/frustrating (Japanese.)
*2 The MPY Kuudere Detective Agency: The First Case involved Moon and Yancey breaking up a gang of potato counterfeiters.

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.27


I awoke from my faint. I was lying on the sand, a girl again. My feet hurt.

I sat up and looked around. It was easy to see. As well as the moon there were lights all along the piers of the marina. I realised I was naked on my bottom half of course, and I scooted under a pier to get the shorts out of my bag.

My feet were hurting such a lot! I checked them. They were all bloody with little wounds like tiny pin-pricks or blisters! It was the worst on my toes and soles. I didn’t know what had done this to me. I pulled my shorts on, then I waded into the sea to wash the blood off my feet. It hurt even more with the salt, and I wished I hadn’t done it. But anyway, too late now. I got one foot clean and put on my water shoe, then the other. It still hurt but it was better than the sand. I went out of the sea and started to look for help. At least I could walk, although it was a constant fiery ache. I had to go slowly.

I limped up the sandy slope and found some stairs which led up to the main walkway. I saw a few grown-up members moving around, but I didn’t think I should trust anyone I didn’t know, this late at night. Anyone could have been one of the bad SCUBA members.

I stopped and got my phone out to call Yancey. The call connected, and I heard his voice answer, but when I tried to speak, only a croak came out. I had worn out my voice by mermaid shrilling!

I was so angry that I mashed the disconnect button. I started to send a text message instead. But my hands and the phone were still a bit wet. As I tapped the buttons the phone kind of squirted out of my fingers, bounced off the side of the quay, and fell into the water. I stared at the splash. I hurt all over and I was so hungry and I had no-one to help me. I sat down on the edge of the dock and began to cry.

There were footsteps and a girl’s voice spoke next to me.

“Hey, hey, little one, what’s the matter? Are you lost?”

It sounded like Nancy.

I turned to look at her. Yes, it was Nancy! She was wearing a short dress and sandals. I was so happy to see her that I jumped up and grabbed her and hugged her really hard.

“Is it really you, Maddy!” Nancy hugged me back. She was big and warm and comforting.

“Maddy, we’ve been so frightened for you. Yancey told us you were kidnapped. How did you escape?”

"Oh Nancy! The bad SCUBA bois shot us with chemical darts and they put us in nets and we were carried for such a long time under the water and then I was in this rock place with Gabrielle like a great big rock pool in a cave and there was a tunnel out but it had a kind of gate so we couldn't escape and Ursula was there and he made some magic pearls but only enough for one to get away and I went because I’m better at climbing but I swam to the wrong place and then I had to swim and swim again and I got here and I wanted to call Yancey but I dropped my phone and I am lonely and hungry and hurt and I want help so much and I’m so glad to see you!”

That’s what I wanted to say, but all that came out was uraghhassskkkk…

“Have you lost your voice, Maddy?

I croaked again and nodded. Nancy got a handkerchief out of her purse and gave it to me to wipe my tears and runny nose.

“Don’t worry, Maddy. Your voice will come back in time. I don’t know Yancey’s number but I have Chanmi’s, so I’ll phone her right away. Then we’ll take you somewhere you can be looked after.” She took out her smartphone and tapped at the screen.

***

My phone trilled, dragging me reluctantly from a deep sleep. Whoever would ring at this time of night? I fumbled until I got the screen in front of me. It was Nancy.

“Hello?”

“Ms Chanmi, sorry to ring you so late but it’s important. I’ve found Maddy.”

“What!” I snapped awake at the shock news. “Where? How is she?”

“The marina. I was coming back from a night out and by luck I found Maddy on the jetty crying. She’s lost her voice. And there’s blood coming out of her shoes. Apart from that she’s fine.”

WTF?! I thought. But Maddy wasn’t dead! In fact somehow she had escaped the kidnappers and got all the way back to Tarpon Bay by herself, presumably.

“Thanks so much for ringing me, Nancy! I’m going to wake Yancey and we’ll come down to the marina and meet you. 15 minutes max, OK?”

I heard a high-pitched grunting noise.

“What’s that, Nancy?”

“It’s Maddy. She’s trying to tell me she’s hungry and thirsty. Okay, Maddy, I understand. I’ll take you to the Rascal, get you fed and cleaned up and check your feet. Chanmi, I’ll send you a map pin where I get there.”

“OK, that’s great! Thank you.”

Nancy rang off and I immediately dialled Yancey. He picked up straight away. He must have been awake already.

“What’s up, Chanmi?”

“Great news boss! Maddy escaped the kidnappers somehow.”

“My Goddess! I had a call a couple a minutes ago which I thought was from her but it was just a glitch. What’s happened?”

“Nancy from the Smol Rascal found her down at the marina.”

“I gotta get down there pronto.”

“I want to come too, boss.”

“You got five minutes to meet me in the lobby or I’ll split without you.”

“I’m on it.”

I was already out of bed, throwing off my nightwear and grabbing for my clothes. I pulled on jeans, a t-shirt and my armor jacket, then slipped the Glock holster into my waistband. I unplugged my Sandbenders from its charger, shoved them in my go bag, pulled on socks and trainers and I was out the door. I ran down the emergency stairs rather than wait for the elevator.

Yancey was in the lobby, suited and booted but without a hat. He was carrying his rubber ring. He looked super perked up, and gave me a big smile.

“You’re a good sidekick, Chanmi. Let’s make tracks.”

We went out and started to run towards the marina entrance. Yancey moved fast for a big boi. He was motivated. I rushed after him, wishing I had taken the time to put my bra on.

It wasn’t far, a few 100 yards only but the boss set a pace and I was starting to get puffed when we got there. Being a cyberpunk detective maybe involved a bit too much sitting around in virtual, I thought. Better get my rays by jogging instead of a sunbed.

Yancey stopped suddenly.

“I wish I hadn’t done that. Got too excited. Goddess my ass hurts! I hope I didn’t tear anything.”

“Boss, you can’t afford to get hurt worse, so let’s take it easy. We can walk it from here in a few minutes.”

I checked my smartphone. Nancy’s pin was sitting on the map and the path was plotted.

“This way, Boss.” I strode off confidently. Yancey followed with a limp.

The Smol Rascal’s internal lights were on but there were blinds in the cabin windows. We went up the gang-plank and found the side hatch open, so I poked my head in and called Nancy’s name. She answered from the dining area in the main cabin, saying to come on board. We climbed in and went forward.

In the main cabin we found Maddy sitting on the table cramming french fries from a microwave box into her mouth. There was a big glass of milk next to her, half empty. Nancy was kneeling on the floor finishing off a dressing on Maddy’s right foot. Her left foot was bare and seemed to be slightly bleeding.

Maddy squealed to see us and held out her arms. She started to cry, but it seemed a happy crying.

Yancey stepped forwards. He put his arms out to Maddy but he couldn’t hug her close because it would have got in Nancy’s way. So he just held her hand. I saw his eyes were watering a bit.

“Hey kiddo… how you doing?

Maddy slowed down her crying. She opened her mouth and went kind of “Hu, hu,” which we guessed meant she was alright.

“It’s so good to see you safe.” Yancey got his notebook and a pencil out of his pocket and handed them to her. “Uh, Maddy, I got to ask this… what about Gabrielle?”

Maddy scribbled in the notebook and handed it back.

Yancey read out, ‘OK when I left.’

“I guess that was a few hours ago?” Maddy nodded.

“Do you know how long, Maddy?” She shook her head.

“Do you know where you were kept prisoner?” She wiggled her head in a way which might have meant ‘not sure.’

“Okay. Don’t worry. What happened to your feet?” Maddy wiggled her head and shrugged her shoulders.

“Can I take a look?” Yancey knelt down next to Nancy and without touching, looked at Maddy’s left foot. There were tiny circular wounds all over, sized from pin point to the head of a thumbtack. The bleeding had stopped from a lot of them already.

I thought it looked weird, but Yancey said, “Yeah, I know what this is.”

“How’s that, boss?”

“Cause I did some research on how to be a merboi. What it is, dolphins can swim really fast, over 35 miles an hour but if they go much faster, something happens to their tail flukes, called cavitation. It’s kinda like the sea boils around their flukes, cause they’re moving so fast, and it causes tiny wounds from the bubbles.”

Nancey said, “The same thing happens to a fast-moving boat propellor. Well, I’m glad to know it isn’t something like a weird disease or acid splashes. Okay, I’ll just dress this foot too.”

I could see Maddy looked relieved. She was a bright girl, and must have worried about such a strange injury. She had stopped crying and started eating fries again.

Nancy finished the dressing on the left foot and started to pack away her first aid kit.

“Oh, Nancy, before you put all that stuff away, I was wondering if…” Yancey put his mouth close to Nancy’s ear and whispered something.

“Why should I want to look at your butt, Yancey?” She said with a deadpan look on her face. "I've seen plenty of bois' butts."

“I’m sorry, Dollface, I don’t mean anything kinky. It’s just I got excited and ran here and I think I could of torn the stitches. I mean, you seen it before, when you bandaged me, so...”

She rolled her eyes, but she beckoned him into the forward cabin and shut the door.

I smiled at Maddy. “Hey Maddy, you’re kind of a hero now.” She looked surprised, as if she hadn’t thought about things like that. She shook her head.

“Well, you might not think so, but there’s going to be a lot of impressed grown-ups when we get the news back to the hotel. Mistress Kou is here to help look for you, with Mods Tsuchimursu and Scarlet.”

She made a ‘wow’ face.

“Now look, Maddy, we need to rescue Gabrielle. You can help by telling us as much as you can about the members who took you and the place they kept you.”

Maddy nodded her head vigorously, but then she pointed at her throat and wagged her head.

“Well, we won’t do it now. You’re too tired. I don’t know if the boss wants you to come back to the Belair or stay here, but anyway, I’m sure your voice will get better after some rest.”

Maddy nodded her agreement.

Yancey and Nancy came back into the main cabin. She gave Maddy and me a thumbs up, and put away her first aid box. Yancey looked embarrassed and covered it up by fiddling with his smartphone.

“Boss, I was just saying to Maddy she can help us rescue Gabrielle by describing everything that happened to them. But it can wait until the morning, can’t it? Her voice might come back by then.”

“Yeah, I reckon you’re right, Chanmi. We all need to get some rest.”

“Boss, one thing is if I could borrow Maddy’s phone, I can plug it into my Sandbenders and I might get some positioning data from it.”

Maddy looked shocked, then she started to cry again. Yancey said,

“Hey kiddo, what’s the matter?”

Maddy did a kind of Charades action of her dropping the phone and a splash.

“It fell into the water?” Yancey gave her his handkerchief. “Was it in the waterproof case?”

She nodded, wiping her eyes..

“It’s okay, then. We can look for it in the morning.”

“Yancey, I’ll get it out the harbour with my diving gear.” Nancy looked at Maddy, “Did it go in about where I found you crying?” Maddy nodded vigorously. “Okay, it’ll be easy to find.”

Maddy brightened up to hear this.

“Alright, let me just wash the glass… and stow it… and we’re all done here.” Like all sailors, Nancy was a fanatic about neatness.

We got off the Smol Rascal and Nancy locked the hatch. We all walked back together, Yancey giving Maddy a piggy-back to save her feet. When we passed the place where Maddy had dropped her phone in, she pointed, and Nancy scratched a small sign into the wooden planking with a door key out of her purse.

We got to the marina entrance and Nancy said goodnight because she was going her own way. Yancey stopped her and said,

“Nancy, you’re a swell dame. Thank you! For everything you’ve done for us.” He tried to put out his hand for a shake, but he would have dropped Maddy, so I shook her hand instead, and pulled her in close for a sisterly hug too. Maddy was already asleep, but I know she would have hugged Nancy.

We reached the Belair, carried her to my room and put her into the second bed in her swimming costume. It was pretty dry, though Yancey’s suit was a bit damp in return. Yancey went back to his own room. I hung up Maddy’s pareo to dry, shucked my street clothes and tumbled into bed. Like the cliché says, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88



I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.28


The night wore on its weary pace. Despite their fears, the detectives and Mods slept because they were too tired not to.

The shining Moon, almost full, a harbinger of Fate, slid down the western sky until she dipped into the ocean and gave way to roseate Dawn.

Morning came to The Server.

It arrived too early for the various members who had become involved in the Case of the Call of Cthulhu. Mistress Kou, compelled by urgent necessity, had set imperative alarms for her aides and allies, disregarding their individual preferences.

Phones and radios beeped urgently at 6:30 to summon everyone to a 7:15 breakfast conference, organised by Kou’s unsleeping bot secretary, in the Belair’s largest meeting room.

Tea, coffee and fruit juice, Danish pastries, bagels, various types of bread, jams and spreads, lox, roll mops, ham, bacon, sausages, fried, scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, waffles and maple syrup, were laid out for the members.

Yancey was ready. He was hungry and eager to get started, but he didn’t want Maddy involved in some kind of a circus. She was traumatised and vulnerable. He called Chanmi.

“Morning, Chanmi. I bet you’re still tired, Dollface.”

”I’m OK, boss. I can hack it.”

“You’re a trooper, Chanmi. I got an important job for you. I need you to advise me what to do about Maddy. Kou and everyone have to be told we’ve got Maddy back, but we also have to safeguard Maddy from all the attention and fuss there’s going to be at this conference.”

“Yes, boss.” Chanmi thought for a moment. “Listen boss, let the Garden Fairy and Janjan take care of her for a while. They are our three eye witnesses, as well as you. We can go through the rest of the evidence with Mistress Kou, and introduce Maddy later.”

“Good idea, Chanmi. Can you talk to them? I’ll go to the conference and talk to Kou. You and the others prepare at your own pace. Come down when you’re ready.”

“Yes, boss. You can count on me!”

They rang off. Chanmi called Yura and Janjan. They were both overjoyed to find out that Maddy had been saved. They came down to Chanmi’s room as she roused Maddy. Janjan waited outside while the girls got dressed.

“Maddy, Maddy, you need to have a shower and brush your teeth.”

Maddy was able to croak a reply; “Chanmi, I’m so hungry!”

“It’s okay, Maddy. We’ve got a great breakfast ready downstairs. First you need to wash. The Garden Fairy has brought you fresh clothes of your own.”

Maddy reluctantly went to the shower. Her feet hurt. The bandages Nancy had put on had to be removed, and there was still blood from the larger wounds. The fresh water was soothing, though. It rid her body of the traces of salt from her long swim. She tried to sing a bit, and a weak voice came out.

Yura performed a healing spell and blew fairy dust onto Maddy’s sore feet. They felt better immediately. Chanmi applied fresh dressings to the worst areas, and gave Maddy clean socks of her own.

Now the adults felt it was time to go down, but first, the Garden Fairy wanted to check Maddy’s state of mind. They sat down in easy chairs over a coffee table.

“Maddy… How do you feel in yourself?”


“...”

“Maddy, a lot of people are going to be so happy you are safe. They will treat you like a hero. How do you feel about it?”

“I’m glad I’m safe now but Gabrielle is still in prison. If I can’t help Gabrielle I don’t know what I will do.”

“Maddy, your feelings about Gabrielle… you are such a good girl. All of us want to help Gabrielle.”

“...”

“Maddy, everyone is going to do everything they can to rescue Gabrielle. There is a big meeting to work out what to do. We will take you down and you will have breakfast in a separate room first. Yancey will make sure you are not introduced until it is the right time.”

“Will you stay with me, Garden Fairy?”

“Of course I will.”

“Thank you. I’m going to do it for Gabrielle.”

“Maddy… Thank you.”

Propelled by his appetite, Yancey ignored the pain in his butt, bounded down the emergency stairs and was first to reach the conference room. He waved breezily at Kou’s secretary bot, went to the breakfast table and got himself a pot of coffee, two bacon sandwiches and several miniature danish pastries. He sat in the middle of the long conference table opposite the door so he could see who came in.

Yancey was onto his third coffee and second sandwich when the next member arrived. It was Kou. Yancey stood up in respect.

“Good morning, Mistress Kou.” He smiled.

“Is it, Detective Yancey? We have a hard time ahead of us.”

“Yes, but I have one piece of very good news. We’ve got Maddy back.”

“What? How and when did you do that?”

“Maddy did it by herself. She escaped from an island by using magic pearls, swam back to Tarpon Bay, and arrived here in the middle of the night.”

“This is wonderful!” Kou’s spirits were hugely lifted. “How is she?”

“She’s tired, hungry, she’s lost her voice and her feet are hurt from swimming too fast in mermaid form. We’re going to need to question her, but it should be done very gently, so I’ve left her with my sidekicks and the Garden Fairy for the moment. They’ll bring her down when she’s ready.”

“Good. I will message Skyen straight away, so she can go and give the good news to Ms Wallace.” Kou took out her smartphone and tapped at the screen.

In the next few minutes the room began to fill as the rest of the members arrived. Tsuchimursu, who Yancey knew from when he was second in command to the big Mod during the Case of the Halloween Hauntings. Scarlet was unfamiliar. They introduced themselves to each other.

Janjan came in, winked at Yancey and inclined his head in a meaningful way. VioletMist the Firegirl, Yancey also knew. She was a friend and colleague of Firegirl Blaise, his current crush. Two bois wearing pilot gear came in next, and introduced themselves as Algie and Ginger. Finally, the grizzled Captain Harlesden of the Smol Rascal.

Everyone chose whatever they liked from the breakfast buffet, and took a seat at the conference table. There were several seats still empty for Chanmi, the Garden Fairy, and possibly others, to join.

When the members seemed to have slowed down their pace of eating, Kou called the meeting to order.

“Fellow members, good morning. Thank you all for coming to this conference. We are here because there is a serious problem which we have to solve. The problem is this. A Cthulhu Cult has been created on this island of Cay Largo.”

This announcement caused muttering and blank looks from some members.

“Mod Scarlet, please would you explain what a Cthulhu Cult is?”

Scarlet stood up to introduce himself.

“I am Scarlet, the creator of the Scarlet Cathedral, which I designed to serve the spiritual needs of all members of The Server. I have a good theoretical knowledge of this subject.

“The Cthulhu Mythos is a dangerous collection of legends and myths from many cultures. It presents a pessimistic, nihilistic view of human agency in relation to various higher powers known as Elder Gods, Deep Ones, and other species or entities.

“The central figure in the mythos is an undead leviathan god, called Cthulhu, who lies sleeping or dead, buried on a sunken island, waiting to arise once more.

“If you think that sounds odd, remember that the Christian religion is based on the worship of a God who was killed, and came back to life. The theme occurs in other religions too. For example, Osiris of ancient Egypt, was dismembered and…

Mistress Kou coughed.

“Forgive me. I allowed my enthusiasm for comparative theology to run away with me. To return to the main topic, a Cthulhu Cult is a group of members who have banded together to worship some facet of the Cthulhu Mythos and bring it into reality. This will inevitably result in chaos and widespread destruction, if not the end of civilisation as we know it!”

Having said his piece, Scarlet sat down. Kou looked around the room. Harlesden held up a hand.

“Don’t you have to be mad to join a cult which is going to cause chaos and destruction?”

Janjan stood up.

“That’s exactly the point. They are mad, and if you get too close to them you might see some stuff which is gonna affect you too. So you got to be careful.”

He sat down again.

“Thank you, Janjan, and Scarlet. This cult was discovered by the Garden Fairy Yura, a Chuunibyo detective, working together with the MPY Kuudere Detective Agency. Detective Yancey, please would you explain the background to this case?”

She gestured at Yancey. He stood up.

“I guess a lot of you know me already. For the newcomers, I’m a hard-boiled detective. I have a Kuudere detective agency called the MPY with my partner Moon Potato, and we got two sidekicks, Janjan who just spoke, and Chanmi. She’s here ut she’s doing some important work.

“So, uh, Moon’s been Off Server for the meanwhile, but me and the others got commissioned to come down here to Cay Largo to bring Maddy the Freckle on a holiday. She’s a smol girl, 12 years old. Her dream was to become a mermaid.

“Long story short, I found a way to turn me and Maddy into mermaids, well, I was a merboi of course. Captain Harlesden knows this bit, cause we were on his boat.”

The Captain nodded.

“Anyway, what happened is me and Maddy found a smol actual mermaid called Gabrielle, and we were helping her search for her cowrie shells. This gang of SCUBA bois came over without us noticing, cause we were busy searching. There were six of them. They shot Maddy and Gabrielle with darts. They didn’t shoot me cause I was the other side of this kelp forest and they didn’t see me at first. Then they shot at me and I got kind of riled up and I attacked them while they were reloading. I, er, I blew one of their heads off with my bangstick.”

He took a gulp of coffee to lubricate his throat.

“But I got a spear shot in my, uh, buttock. It’s not too bad, I got it stitched up but now I gotta sit on a rubber ring.

“Sorry, I’m getting off the track. What happened next was I swam off, cause I couldn’t fight five more of them by myself, and they took Maddy and Gabrielle on their underwater sled, and got away, heading out to sea. I went back to the Smol Rascal, that’s Captain Harlesden’s cruiser, to get help.

“What you got to understand is that at this stage, none of us knew what we were up against. I was just bodyguarding Maddy, not well, I’m ashamed to say. Janjan and Chanmi were helping the Garden Fairy with a different case. They got a whole lot of detecting done while I was swimming with Maddy, and it turned out this other case was linked to the kidnap case.”

“Um, Mistress Kou, maybe you could explain how it all links together.”

“Thank you, Detective Yancey. Members, I am sorry to say that it is PowerPoint time”

Kou’s assistant lit up a set of large screen TVs arranged around the room so everyone could see one. Kou tapped at her laptop and brought up a display with a series of graphs, statistics and bullet points. She had summarised the evidence gathered by the detectives, which they had tabulated during their timeline exercise the previous evening.

“Here is information gathered by Yura, Chanmi and Janjan. Integrated with Yancey’s experience it proves the following facts:

There is a cult of 13 members, 12 now since Yancey killed one of them.
They have been persecuting mermembers for weeks. At least one mermember has been killed and eaten.

This caused a strong reaction. Everyone was revolted.

We know the 13 addresses for these members. They all live alone.
We have a rough location of the offshore island where we believe they keep their prisoners and perform their insane rites.

Harlesden’s phone beeped. He glanced at the screen and tapped a return message.

“Sorry about that, but it was important.”

Kou moved on to the next part of her presentation.

“So we have three tasks to accomplish.”

We must invade these 13 cult houses to capture anyone there.
We must make an embassy to the Mermaid Queen.
We must discover the correct location of the cult’s island, and in some way, attack it, and rescue the captives.

We must do all of this during the course of the coming 18 hours.

Harlesden put his hand up.

“Why do we have to do all this today, Mistress Kou?”

“Because tonight is the full Moon. The activity of cults and madness of all types is increased by the full Moon. If we do not rescue Gabrielle tonight, it may be too late.”

All in all it sounded a pretty big ask.

Tsuchimursu stood up.

“Kou, why do we not have to rescue Maddy? You spoke only of Gabrielle.”

“Yes. Here I have some good news. Yancey, please would you go and see how the Garden Fairy is getting on?”

Yancey went out. A couple of minutes later he came back in, followed by Chanmi, the Garden Fairy Yura, and a smol figure who was limping.

Kou stood and held out her hand to the young’un, embraced her, then turned to face all the gathered members.

“This is Maddy the Freckle. She was captured by Cthulhu cultists. She escaped the kidnappers by the use of magic pearls. Maddy swam all the way to Tarpon Bay in the night, and she brought her phone, which contains the location where she was imprisoned.

“This smol girl showed such courage and determination. Are we going to let her efforts go to waste?”


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88



I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.29


Kou stood with Maddy in front of her, her hands on the smol girl’s shoulders. It was such a joyful shock to see her safe that no-one really knew what to do. After a few moments Tsuchimursu stood up, and began to clap.

Everyone joined in, and the applause rolled for half a minute while Maddy squirmed and blushed deep red. Then she broke away from Kou, waving her hands and shouting in a croaky voice.

“Stop it! Stop it!”

The applause ceased.

“You’re wasting time. I came to get help for Gabrielle. You’ve got to help her, and Ursula.”

Maddy sat at an empty chair next to Kou and started to cry. The Garden Fairy drew up a chair and sat down next to her. Yura spoke quietly to Maddy, and the smol girl settled down and gradually her tears ceased.

Kou spoke.

“Maddy, I am truly sorry to have upset you.” She bowed deeply in apology. “All these members are here to plan the way to rescue Gabrielle and Ursula. Would you like to stay with us, or go and have a rest?

“I’ll stay,” sniffled Maddy. “I know some stuff I want to tell you that’s important, I think.”

“Thank you.” Kou and everyone sat down.

The door opened again, and a tall tanned girl with a blonde tomboy cut came in. She was wearing a damp half-body wetsuit and a pareo, water shoes, and had a sacoche hanging from her shoulder. It was Nancy of the Smol Rascal. She went straight to Captain Harlesden and handed him a smartphone in a bulky waterproof case.

Harlesden handed the phone to Mistress Kou.

“Nancy got this out of the marina at the place where she found Maddy last night.”

Kou showed it to Maddy.

“Yes, it’s mine. It’s got my favorite Pokemon Go stickers on it. Give it to Chanmi. She said she can get the island location out.”

Chanmi came forward and took the phone. She looked Maddy in the eyes and said,

“Maddy, please may I check your phone and make a copy of all its data? I need to clone it exactly because that’s important for cyber-forensics. I will give an encrypted copy to Mistress Kou, and examine a second copy. I promise I will only keep the navigation data we need to find out where you’ve been. I will delete all the rest of the data when I’ve finished.”

Maddy nodded. She didn’t understand everything but she trusted Chanmi, who was always nice to her.

“Thank you.”

Chanmi sat down. She opened her Sandbenders and plugged it into a power socket on the conference table. She removed Maddy’s phone from the case, put it on a charger and connected it to the Sandbenders. It took only a few typed commands to initiate cloning of the memory of the phone into sealed storage within the Sandbenders. A couple of minutes later, Chanmi unplugged the phone and gave it back to Maddy.

“It needs charging. You can use my charger.”

Chanmi settled her VR induction rig on her head. She closed her eyes and sat still, except for her hands which flew over the keyboard and touchscreen of her computer. A map of Cay Largo appeared on all the TVs. A number of map pins appeared. A scrolling text marquee popped up at the bottom of the picture:

>I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself...
>My name is Chanmi…
>I’m Yancey’s hard-boiled sidekick in the MPY Agency...
>I specialize in digital investigations…
>Here’s some explanation of what you are seeing...
>Nearly every member of The Server carries a smartphone just about all the time...
>These phones have a Server Positioning System module in them…
>To operate map functions...
>Most members don’t realise that the SPS module activates about every 250,000 ms…
>Even if you are not using the map…
>It happens automatically...
>This is to locate the phone accurately within the data network…
>For optimization of the load balance...
>Well, that location data is recorded in the phone…
>I’m sorry if this is getting a bit technical...

Murmurs of no, no.

>I’ve extracted the location data to find out where Maddy’s phone has been…
>And that’s what is on the screen now...
>So the maps pins show the location of Maddy’s phone at various times yesterday...
>I can animate it if you like, it’s pretty cool actually...

A timestamp appeared at the top of the screen, scrolled rapidly back to the previous morning, and all the pins except one, vanished.

The single remaining pin was in Tarpon Bay. The display zoomed in abruptly, showing the Belair Hotel with the pin inside it. Time jumped forward and a second pin appeared in the marina. A straight white line joined the two pins.

>OK, so Maddy was in the hotel, then she went to the Marina…
>If Maddy was using her map, there would be an actual path…
>Because the SPS would be pinging every few 6,000 ms. ..
>But she was with Yancey…
>He knew the way to the boat…
>So we just get the pins from the standard automatic SPS pings…
>And a straight line in between them...

“Ms Chanmi, how often does the automatic system send a ping?” Mistress Kou asked.

>Who is that? Plz txt me because I am in cyberspace...

Nearly everyone’s phone beeped suddenly as Chanmi’s contact details were sent to it.

Actually Chanmi could hear perfectly well, and see everyone through the hotel security cameras, and their own selfie cams or web cams. She was just playing at being a cyberpunk.

Kou tapped the message rapidly on her phone.

>Oh, right, sorry Mistress Kou…
>Yeah well actually there’s a pretty complicated algorithm…
>To control the frequency of SPS pings...
>Because that also has to be optimized...
>You would probably be bored…
>Maybe we better get on because we want to find this island...

Rapidly the day scrolled on. Maddy’s location was shown moving out to sea, around Portis Head to West Bay.

The trail seemed to go cold. No more pins appeared.

>That’s when Maddy turned into a mermaid...
>The water blocks the signal…
>I’ll put blue lines for the movement of the phone underwater…
>It will just be straight lines, of course, as there is no path data...

The pins reappeared in the early afternoon.

Maddy said, “That’s when we had lunch on the Smol Rascal. We had fried fish and raw scallops and french fries and seaweed salad. It was so good!”

The traces disappeared again as Maddy became a mermaid and had her adventure with Gabrielle.

Quite late at night the next pin popped up suddenly on an offshore island, part of a small archipelago. The next pin appeared sometime later in West Bay, on the shoreline, and there was a dense clot of data points.

>Right then Maddy was using the map function, but she wasn’t actually moving...

“Yes, I was in the surf! I swam the wrong way because I had to get away from the bad frogbois in the water. I needed to find out where I was, so I used my map.”

Kou rapidly tapped out a precis of this message for Chanmi.

>Yes, that makes sense…
>Maddy swam into West Bay, up to the shore…
>Then she swam out again, all around Portis Head…
>Round into Tarpon Bay and eventually reached the marina…

The next pin was in the Tarpon Bay marina. The trace disappeared for hours, until about 7:30 when suddenly the next pin dropped.

>What happened was Maddy got to the marina in the early morning…
>About 1 a.m. but she dropped her phone into the water…
>Which cut off the signal again...
>Then Nancy recovered it like 0.5 million ms ago, and here we are…

A final pin appeared on the Belair Hotel, then the view tracked and zoomed in until a particular island was centered, with a location pin on the eastern shore.

>OK. That is the island where Maddy was held prisoner…
>She must have been kept inside, so the rock blocked the signals…
>When she got out from the cave or whatever, the signals re-engaged…
>And, Bingo!...
>Thanks for reading…

Chanmi sighed and took off her headset. She looked around the table.

“Nice work, Chanmi!” said Yancey.

Mistress Kou stood up.

“Chanmi, thank you for your hard work. Now we have the location from where we will rescue Gabrielle and Ursula. But before that we have two other operations to plan and carry out.

“We shall have a strict 10 minute break, and split the conference into two sections to consider the next two phases. Tsuchimursu will lead the planning for raids on the cult houses. I will lead the planning for the embassy to the Mermaid Queen. I would like Maddy, VioletMist, Nancy, the Garden Fairy Yura, and Captain Harlseden to come with me.”

“Yes, Kou.” Tsuchimursu went to the breakfast buffet and got himself more food. Nancy also took the chance to fill a plate. She had forgone her breakfast to dive early for the lost phone.

Kou conferred with the pilots.

“Algie and Ginger, the Grey Goose is not needed this morning, however she will be very important during the rescue operation as a flying command post. Is there anything you need to do to prepare?”

Algie answered.

“Well, Mistress Kou, we’re low on fuel and we can’t get the right sort here in the marina. I would like to fly up to the north of Cay Largo, and fill up at the airfield.”

“Please do so. My secretary will give you a credit key to pay for it.”

“Thank you. We’ll scoot off directly, then, and be back by lunchtime.”

The pilot bois grabbed a pile of sausage sandwiches and filled a thermos flask with coffee, before heading off to the marina where their flying boat was docked.

The hotel staff reconfigured the conference table into two separate sections while everyone was having their break. Tsuchimursu occupied one of them, and the detectives, plus Scarlet and his security bot, joined the big Mod. Kou and her team took the other table.

Tsuchimursu looked at Yancey. He hadn’t worked with the detective before, but he knew Kou trusted him.

“Yancey, is this a police operation, or a military operation?”

“It’s a SWAT operation, which means it’s civil police in name but armed and organised like soldiers for a fight.”

“That is how I see it also. You detectives, I have the feeling this is not your special skill.”

“You got that right, Tsuchi. We’re not even police, technically, and we’re definitely not soldiers. I mean we got heaters and we know how to use them, but we don’t have real training for fighting and stuff.”

“Why do you need heaters? It is pleasant and warm here.”

“Sorry, that’s just slang. It means guns. We’ve got a pistol each, and Kou brought our two shotguns and ammunition. Also, there is the locker.”

“What is in there?”

“Something I don’t wanna think about.”

“I think you will have to, Detective Yancey. I was in the army, and I know how to fight. But I was a technical warrant officer in the tank corps. Basically I was a mechanic and driver. I do not know how to plan tactics for this situation.”

“You think I do?”

“I think you know someone who can do it.”

“I thought it might come to this. Well, I told Kou I would do whatever it takes to get the mermaids back. So I gotta do it.”

Yancey’s face was sour. With that old personality in charge, some nasty stuff probably would happen.

Chanmi was puzzled. “What are they talking about?” she whispered to Janjan. He whispered back.

“You know the boss as Yancey the Kuudere detective, and as Yancy the Frog Prince. We even met him as Yancie the gadabout fop. But there used to be another Yancy. Before he came to The Server. I don’t know his name. He was a soldier. He did a lot of fighting and killing, and the real Yancy, our Yancy, regrets it.”

“Wow!”

“I saw him come out once. It was scary.”

While the two of them were whispering to one another, Tsuchimursu got the heavy steel weapon locker which Skyen had recovered from the MPY Office, and put it on the table with a thud. He took out the passkey Kou had generated for it and gave it to Yancey.

Yancey looked grim, but he used the key, which opened the locker easily without the usual rigmarole of unlocking hidden boxes with other keys in them. He looked inside.

“Interesting.” His voice changed from American to a clipped British accent. “Not what I expected.”

He looked older, and thinner, and there was a cold light in his eyes. He shrugged off the now oversized suit jacket and put it over the back of a chair. He took the Colt M1911AI out of its shoulder holster, ejected the magazine and worked the slide to check the weapon was unloaded.

The soldier reached into the locker and brought out a long slim gun with a wooden stock which ran all the way to the muzzle.

“Hello again, Bessie.”

It looked old. There was a small magazine underneath and something like a bolt on the side. He click-clacked the bolt mechanism open, looked inside to see if it was loaded, and clack-clicked it closed again.

Tsuchimursu recognised it as an antique military bolt-action rifle. His hunting rifle was a more modern civilian version of the same kind of weapon.

“What does this mean, Yancey?” the Mod asked.

The soldier looked at him sharply. “I’m not Yancey. Call me Kay.”

He continued, “What it means is everyone had better wear old shoes on this op.”

He slung the rifle over his back and brought more items out of the locker. Three green metal boxes, several boxes of ammunition, and a webbing equipment harness.

“Why should we wear old shoes, Kay?”

The soldier took one last thing out. It was a leather scabbard a good 18 inches long. He slipped a vicious bayonet out and clipped it to the muzzle of his rifle.

“Because there may be a lot of blood on the floor when I’ve finished.”

He smiled thinly, but only with his mouth. His eyes were cold.


TO BE CONTINUED...

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88

I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
Made in jp
[MOD]
Anti-piracy Officer






Somewhere in southern England.

The Case of the Call of Cthulhu, ch.30


Kou quickly convened her embassy discussion group, which consisted of her, the Garden Fairy Yura, Firegirl VioletMist, Captain Harlesden and his mate Nancy, and finally, Maddy the Freckle. Kou felt tremendous time pressure, especially since diplomatic missions are usually slow, measured affairs, but she tried to present a calm, confident front.

“Is everyone refreshed? Good. I would like to start with my view of the situation.

“A smol mermaid is in danger of her life at the hands of human members. We now know that the cultists who kidnapped Gabrielle have been persecuting mermembers for weeks or months. They have committed at least one murder.

“Last night when I spoke to Yancey about this, he asked me what I intended to do with the cultists after capturing them. I replied that I would hand them over to the mermembers, since these crimes were committed in the realm of the sea.

“Yancey told me I should go and see the mermaid king. The ruler of the mermembers is actually a queen, but the point still stands. He said I should show respect and go as a mermaid. That is what I have decided to do.

“I need to apologise, and offer reparations, for the evil acts of my human members. Also, I would like to request her aid in the mission to rescue Gabrielle.

“It would be presumptuous for us to undertake that mission without discussing it with the mermembers. Plus, the kidnap gang operates underwater. It would be a great advantage to have mermember allies.

“I know I have presented this decision as a fait accompli. Nonetheless, I ask all of you to help me accomplish it.”

Maddy started jumping up and down in excitement, but her feet hurt and she sat back and waved her arms.

“I wanna go! I wanna go!”

“Maddy, I will take you if it is safe.”

“Even if it’s not safe I have to go. Gabrielle gave me her precious shell to give to her mom.” Maddy pulled the cowrie from her bag to show everyone. It gleamed with a beautiful mottled pink colour. “Her mom’s name is Olympe.”

Nancy held up her hand. Kou acknowledged her.

“Um, sorry but I didn’t introduce myself earlier. I’m Nancy, I work with Captain Harlesden on the Smol Rascal.”

“I am sorry, Nancy, I should have asked everyone to introduce themselves at the beginning.” Kou felt ashamed, her ability to run a good meeting seemed to have slipped, perhaps due to the fraught situation.

“That’s okay, maybe we could do it now?”

“Yes. Good idea. I am Kou, Mistress of The Server and leader of the Mods. Please feel free to ask any of us anything. We do not bite, not even Skyen, despite that rumor which is going around.”

Everyone else introduced themself, and they all swapped contact details and formed a message group.

“Thank you everyone. Nancy, you were going to say something?”

“Yes Kou. That cowrie… Yesterday I had to get Yancey’s smartphone out of his bag for him, and I saw five more like it in there.”

Maddy jumped up again, winced, and sat down.

“They belong to Gabrielle. When we found her she was looking for them in a seaweed forest. They are more shells from her broken necklace. It had six. Yancey must have found them!”

“Maddy, you must ask Yancey for those shells. You must bring them carefully and be ready to give them to Olympe. Can you do that?

“Yes! Yes! I will ask now.”

***

I went over to the table where all the bois were talking. Well, Chanmi was there, she was the only girl. Maybe it was just luck that we had all girls and one boi, and they had all bois and one girl.

Tsuchimursu, Yancey and Janjan were piling guns and boxes on the table and looking at them all. Yancey had a very long wooden gun with a big kind of sword on the point of it. It was longer than I am tall and kind of scary. I looked closer at him and I realised it wasn’t my Yancey. He looked like Yancey, but this boi was older and thinner and his eyes were tired and kind of sad. He stood straight and looked at me.

“Hello, are you Maddy?” His voice was different, too. He had an English accent.

“Um. Yes, Sir? Where is Yancey?”

“Well, Maddy, I’ve taken over from Yancey for a bit. You can call me Kay. How may I help you?”

I realised this was a new Aspect. I had only ever met Yancey the detective before. Some grown-ups have several Aspects. I've only got me, so far.

“Mr. Kay, Yancey had some shells that looked like this one…” I held out my hand to show him Gabrielle’s cowrie.

“Oh yes. Do you want them?”

“Yes. I need to take them and give them to Gabrielle’s mommy.”

“Who is Gabrielle, Maddy?”

“Uh, don’t you remember?”

“I’m afraid not. Is she a little girl like you?”

“I’m not little! I’m practically a grown-up.” I was a bit angry. “Gabrielle is a mermaid who you are supposed to rescue!”

“I see. We haven’t got to that part of the planning yet. I tell you what, Maddy, the shells must be upstairs in Yancey’s room so if you like, take this key card and you can get them.”

I took the card.

“What number is it, Mr Kay?”

“Oh, erm…”

Janjan spoke up, “It’s 306, Maddy. Do you want me to go with you?”

“It’s okay, Mr Janjan. I can do it by myself.”

I went to get the cowrie shells from Yancey’s room. People think kids are stupid and whatever, but we’re not. I easily found Yancey’s room and went in. It didn’t look that bad. I mean the bed was a mess and there was some clothes and stuff lying around, like a few empty bottles, but I wasn’t shocked.

I searched for the cowries. His water bag was hanging up in the bathroom. The shells were inside. I grabbed them and put them in my bag, and went back downstairs.

When I got back Kou was still discussing with the others. I went and gave the key card back to Mr. Kay, then I got myself two custard pastries and I went to sit at Kou’s table again.

My feet hurt. But I felt warm inside.

***

While Maddy was on her quest Kou asked Captain Harlesden if he could take her to meet the mermaids.

“Mistress Kou, I can take you to the sea area where they used to be found. In recent months they have got scarcer for reasons that are clear now. I always got on with them, but it was an arms length relationship. It’s not like I can provide a door to door taxi service.”

“That will be enough, Captain. If you take me there, I will become a mermaid and find them. Yura, what do you think?”

“I would like to do more research into mermember customs and etiquette.”

“Yura, I understand your dedication to Chuunibyo scholarship. But there isn’t time! You must advise me as best you can from the knowledge you have in your head right now.”

“Very well, Kou. Allow me a minute to marshal my thoughts, uwu.”

“Thank you, Yura.”

They sat in silence for a short while.

“Yes, uwu, I think I have remembered as much as I can about mermaids and their kingdom.

“Mermaids are the females of the mermember species, which is essentially half-human, half-dolphin. The males are called merbois, uwu.

“Mermembers have the ability to breathe and speak underwater thanks to their natural magic. Some of them can harness this magic to cast certain spells, which is done in their original language by the usual methods, I won’t go into details now. The mermembers of The Server speak English everyday, though.

“As you want to be polite, uwu, my advice is this:

“Simply behave with your normal gentleness and good manners. The mermembers understand you do not know their customs in detail, and will forgive minor solecisms. Second, I advise you to present yourself sky-clad. It is the usual mode of dress for mermembers.”

“By ‘sky-clad’ you mean we should be naked, Yura?”

“Yes, to be blunt. In practical terms it only means everyone should doff their bikini top. There is nothing down below to hide, as a mermaid, or a merboi for that matter.”

“Well, if it is important, I will do it.”

Kou had the normal modesty which human society instills, but she understood things were different for mermembers. She looked at the rest of the team to see their reactions.

Nancy was unconcerned. It was inevitable in the cramped quarters of the Smol Rascal that groups of members had to put aside their modesty to change for dives. Basically you took no notice of naked bodies. It was just part of the job. Like when she had given Yancey first aid, he was embarrassed but she was used to it.

VioletMist was upset, though.

“Look, Kou, I signed up to rescue members in danger. If this is going to turn into some kind of titty bar show you can count me out. Sorry.”

“I understand your reticence, Ms VioletMist. I am sure Captain Harlesden will hide himself away while we change.”

“Of course I will. If it helps your feelings, I’m gay. I’m not interested in your baps.”

“Well…”

Yura spoke again.

“Ms VioletMist, let me reassure you that nudity is the natural state of mermembers, uwu. From all my research, merbois are oblivious of the naked mammaries as an object of erotic fascination. You need not fear any... reactions to your physical presence. All the mermaids will be similarly unclothed.”

“Hum. Well, I guess it’s okay. But what about changing, and swimming underwater and so on. I’ve never even been snorkel swimming. I’ve worn respirator gear for fire rescues, but it’s not exactly the same.”

Maddy had got back with her shells.

“Oh it’s easy,” she said with breezy confidence. Having changed from human to mermaid and back several times, she felt like a pro.

“You lie down and swallow the pearl and in a couple of minutes, you’ve changed. You roll off into the sea, and it feels marvellous to swim as a mermaid. Everyone faints during the change, the first time, but it doesn’t hurt, it just feels… spoopy. You breathe as easy as anything.”

Nancy offered encouragement too.

“I watched Yancey change. He had to take three pearls because he’s big. I couldn’t see the details precisely -- the magic sparkles kind of obscured the view -- but it didn’t seem to hurt. He and Maddy were swimming like champions straight away. I’m looking forward to it, actually, to be able to swim so freely.”

“Well... Okay. I’ll do it, Kou.”

“Thank you, VioletMist. To reassure you, the rest of us will go first. Ms Yura, do you have any advice to offer about gifts?”

“From what I understand, uwu, rum is always welcome.”

Kou immediately instructed her secretary to obtain a case of the best rum available on Cay Largo.

“Also, I will give you my Elder Sign. It has power against Mythos creatures of various types. The mermaids may find it useful.”

“Are you sure, Yura? Don’t you need it yourself?”

“In time I can make a new one. I am sure Mod Scarlet has one to use for now.”

“Very well. Thank you deeply. What else do we need to prepare? Captain Harlesden, Nancy, do you have wisdom to offer?”

The sailors looked at each other. Nancy spoke:

“We need some bangsticks to defend against shark attack. We’ve got one on the boat and we can borrow Yancey’s. We should quickly buy some more, and ammunition, and repellant. I can show you how to use them. Also diver knives, watches, emergency flares, marker dye, and equipment bags. We can get all of it easily from marine chandlers here in town.”

“Yes. Thank you. Please would you go with VioletMist and make these purchases straight away? We will meet in an hour at the Smol Rascal.” Kou gave Nancy a credit chip. The two strapping girls left immediately.

“Captain Harlesden, please would you make your cruiser ready? I suppose she needs fuel and so on.”

“I’m on it, Kou.” The captain went out.

“Yura, please would you go and fetch the Elder Sign you have so kindly offered?”

“Yes, Kou. I will be back within the hour.” The Garden Fairy rushed out to get a taxi back to her house in Bahama village.

Kou looked at Maddy. The smol girl was eating a pastry and swinging her legs. She seemed happy enough, given the circumstances.

“Maddy the Freckle. What advice do you have for me?”

“Just be nice and kind to Mrs Olympe, because she must be so worried and scared about Gabrielle.”

“Thank you, that is good advice. Will you be alright by yourself for a while, Maddy? I have to go and confer with the bois.”

Maddy nodded. She was perfectly happy as long as there were danish pastries left, and there were plenty.


TO BE CONTINUED…

© 2020 Yancy 08620163 | 8J3U37
aka Starship Captain 88




I'm writing a load of fiction. My latest story starts here... This is the index of all the stories...

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it. 
   
 
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