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Rise of the Rockets: Side Stories


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#1 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Jun 03 2015 - 06:39 PM

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Main Topic - Discussion Topic - Stories Topic

 
This is the topic where the different side stories related to Rise of the Rockets will go.
 
-Story Index-
 
Title - Member Name - Canon?
A Friendship to Last a Lifetime - JiMing/Blade - Canon
Terry's Tale(1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - Konuju - Canon
Mercurial Side Stories(1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - Unown Mercury - Canon
Polishing the Rust(1, 2) - JiMing/Blade - Canon(Rewrite)
Nemesis(1, 2, 3, 4) - Unown Mercury - Canon
Fade to Grey(1, 2, 3, 4) - Blade - Canon
Fear - Konuju - Canon
Purpose - Minun - Canon
The Star's Light - Alku/Blade - Canon
Jupiter's July(1, 2, 3, 4, 5) - Flipz - Canon
Missing Interviews (James) - Parugi - Canon
Beginnings(1, 2, 3) - Mercury - Canon
Revenge - Mercury - Non-Canon
RotR Reimaginings Magic - Mercury - Non-Canon
The Warrior's True Test - Konuju - Canon
May Time Remember - Blade - Canon(Rewrite)

Edited by Blessed Blade, Jun 05 2017 - 10:39 AM.

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#2 Offline Chroma Champion JiMing

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Posted Jun 03 2015 - 06:43 PM

(Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand first story, go go go!)

 

A Friendship to Last a Lifetime

 

Olivia fidgeted in the back of her parent's car. They were taking her and Zach to the local ice cream store, which wasn't actually that far away. She was excited to get to eat ice cream, but moreso to get another opportunity to spend time with Zach. She had only gotten to meet the boy not that long ago, but he had already become her best -- and only -- friend.

Zach seemed much more interested in the streets outside, as his head was turned outside the window. Olivia desperately wanted to talk to Zach, but she was still much too awkward and nervous, so she tentatively scooted nearer to him, leaning her weight against his shoulder, hoping that would catch his attention.

Zach blinked at the sudden weight on his shoulder and looked over at Olivia. "Heya," he said with a smile, wondering why she was leaning against him.

Olivia suddenly felt very embarrassed, and so leaned back after having caught Zach's attention. "Hi.... I-ice cream, right?" she stammered. She wasn't really sure what she wanted to talk about, only that she wanted to talk to Zach.

Zach tilted his head, but nodded with a smile. "Yep! Ice cream..." He closed his eyes for a moment, already picturing the taste of the delicious treat.

"You kids sound pretty hungry!" called Rosa Lyn Seaton from the driver's seat of the car. "Well we're almost there, so just hold tight for a little longer, alright?"

Zach nodded with a giggle as he looked over at Olivia happily. "Alright!"

"Sounds good to me!" said Olivia as she also giggled. "Normally I don't really get to eat ice cream... What about you, Zach?"

"Well, Mommy gets it for me sometimes. Daddy's never really around, though, so he never takes me to get anything..."

"Huh.............. Mommy and Daddy are always around for me, really........." Olivia glanced up at her parents in the front of the car, her lips curving into a frown. "I can't imagine them gone....."

"Well, we gotta watch out for you, Olivia," Benedict "Poppy" Seaton replied as they drove into a parking lot. "You and that fellow Zach there."

Zach smiled as he looked around. The little ice cream shop sat at the top of a small hill, overlooking the vast ocean. "This looks sweet!" he said, giggling as the salty air tickled the back of his neck.

Olivia followed behind Zach as they entered the ice cream shop. "It's so close.... We should go here more often!" she said before tentatively reaching out her hand towards Zach. Holding his hand usually gave her much more confidence, and she needed that confidence to order what she wanted. Zach smiled as he grabbed Olivia's hand, accidentally gripping it a little tight, as he wasn't used to holding the hand of someone his age. He quickly realized his mistake, though, and loosened almost immediately.

Rose looked back and smiled when she saw Zach and Olivia holding hands, leaning down to pat Zach's shoulder. "Lookit you... In the first grade and already such a fine little gentleman. Once you grow up, you better take care of Olivia as well as you do right now, okay?"

Zach blushed slightly at the compliment, but smiled and nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Seaton!" he said happily.

Olivia giggled at the thought of Zach dressed like a gentleman. Her attention was quickly diverted by the menu, however, which she looked over thoughtfully. "Hrmm.... What looks good to you, Zach?"

"Hmmm..." Zach murmured, placing a finger on his chin. "Mint chocolate chip!" He smiled over at Olivia to see what she would pick out.

Olivia twiddled the fingers of her free hand as she stared at the menu indecicively. "Ummmmmmm........" Her mind seemed to freeze up as she looked over at Zach for help. "W-well, I like strawberries...... Maybe that and...... vanilla?"

"Oooh, that sounds good too!" Zach said with a grin.

Olivia nodded. "Guess I'm going with that," she decided as they walked up to the counter.

As Zach followed, he fished through his pockets for the money he had been given for his ice cream and waited patiently for Olivia to place her order. Olivia remained silent as she waited for Zach to go first. The cashier cleared her throat impatiently, causing both kids to wince and shout out their orders at the same time.

They looked at each other awkwardly, and Zach gave a sheepish smile. "You go first..."

Olivia's face reddened as she nodded and quickly ordered her food. She sullenly walked over to a table and buried her head in her arms, feeling completely destroyed over having embarrassed herself in public once again. Zach awkwardly placed his order, and walked over toward Olivia. With a smile, he gave her a one-armed hug to try and cheer her up. Olivia slowly lifted her head, her face still red. "Thanks......." she said with a slight giggle. "You always know how to make me feel all better...."

"Glad to hear it!" Zach said happily as he sat down next to Olivia and began to lick at his ice cream. "Mmmm..."

Trying to forget her embarrassment, Olivia took a bit of her ice cream, her face lighting up in a warm smile at the taste. "Have I told you how great a friend you are?" she asked. "I mean, you always cheer me up whenever I feel sad......"

"You're a great friend too!" Zach said with a wide smile. "I'm glad to help out, though; friends being sad make me sad, so I wanna help out in any way I can!"

The young girl giggled again. "Y-yeah..... You're always there for me.... I just wanna be able to help you out, too....."

"I'm sure you will!" Zach said. "After all, that's what friends do, right? They help each other out!"

Olivia smiled warmly. "Yep, that's what they do!" she replied. "I never had someone who helped me like that though, I've never had any friends my age before.... So I'm glad I met you!" She ate some more of her ice cream. "This is so tasty, I wanna go back here all the time now!"

Zach smiled happily, nodding in agreement. As he ate his ice cream, he looked out the window, staring at all the passing people. He was amazed that the city could be so bustling and cool. "This city looks so amazing!" he said. "And it's got a bunch of low buildings, too!"

Olivia followed his gaze with interest, tilting her head to the side. She was surprised at just how much activity was going on, as she didn't get out to the main city of Olivine that often. "Wow...." she breathed. "I never really thought about it like that, really. I don't really pay a lot of attention to stuff like that... What's Goldenrod like to you, then?"

Zach scratched his head while he thought about that, and then looked back at Olivia. "Well, it's like, it can be crowded, but the tall buildings can be cool to look at," he explained. "But here, you can easily see the sky from just about anywhere."

"You can't always see the sky in Goldenrod?" Olivia asked in surprise. "Mommy told me that the sky is important to us, because without the sky, we wouldn't have the sun that makes our berries and flowers grow......"

Zach scratched his head again. "Well, you can see it if you look straight up while in the commercial district, but the buildings can be so tall that usually all you can really see is the tip of the... um... the big building there." He frowned as he futilely tried to recall the Global Terminal's name.

"Oh, right, Goldenrod is the biggest city in Johto," Olivia said. "It must be interesting to have so much to do there, and see so many tall buildings.... The tallest building we have in Olivine is the Lighthouse."

"Oh yeah? What's the lighthouse like?" Zach asked curiously, slowly finishing his ice cream.

"It's really fun!" Olivia said, thinking back to her visit there. "You wouldn't think it's that tall, coming from Goldenrod, but I got real tired walking up, so about halfway through, Daddy actually had to lift me on his shoulders the rest of the way up. He thought using the elevator to get to the top would be cheating." The girl giggled. "Then I got to meet Amphy, who is super cute! Maybe one day I'll have an Ampharos... But having Ammy is already the best!"

"Ammy's nice, yeah!" Zach smiled. "But who's Amphy?"

"Oh right, you don't come from Olivine." Olivia rubbed the back of her head with a sheepish smile. "Well.... You know the light from the lighthouse? Amphy makes that light. She's an Ampharos! Everyone in the town loves her, especially Jasmine, the Gym Leader! I even got to pet Amphy! It was a nice trip.... You should go someday; I think you'd love it!"

"Oh, wow!" Zach's eyes grew wide. "Maybe we could go today!"

"Yeah, today would be great!" Olivia said, smiling at the thought. "If you walk up and don't use the elevator, you get such a nice view of the ocean, it's really pretty! And plus, Amphy is so cute and nice!" She paused as she felt something drip down her hand. She had been so engrossed in talking with Zach that she had forgotten about the ice cream, which was starting to melt. She licked it up with a giggle. "Let's try to finish our ice cream as soon as possible so we can visit the Lighthouse!"

Zach giggled and finished his ice cream, smiling at the thought of seeing the ocean from so high up, especially with Olivia.

Olivia quickly wolfed her ice cream down, eager to get going to the lighthouse. But the young girl made the mistake of going just a tad too fast, and suddenly she closed her eyes and gripped the side of her head, looking very uncomfortable. "Brain..... Freeze...." she stammered, trying to get through the sudden headache.

Zach opened and closed his mouth uncertainly, wondering what to do. He looked around for help, but Mr. and Mrs. Seaton were deep in their own conversation at another table. Then he recalled something his mom used to do whenever he got brain freeze, and quickly leaned toward Olivia. Placing his hands on her head, Zach awkwardly kissed Olivia on the forehead, hoping it would help.

Olivia's eyes had been shut tightly the whole time, but when he kissed her forehead, she opened her eyes in surprise. Her cheeks started to redden as she looked at Zach while he was still in close proximity. "Th-thanks... I feel a lot better now...."

"R-really?" Zach said, surprised that his idea had actually worked. He broke out into a wide grin. "That's great!" he laughed.

Olivia nodded, incredibly thankful for the relief from the painful headache. Before Zach could lean back, Olivia quickly wrapped both her arms around him, pulling him into a tight hug. "You always help me, no matter what..... I'm so lucky to be your friend!"

"And I'm lucky to be your friend, too!" Zach said happily as he hugged Olivia as well. "We're both so lucky!"

The young girl kept her arms wrapped around him, resting her head on his shoulder. "I'm always so happy when around you.... I used to be so angry all the time, but now you're always there for me.... Even when I mess up, you're still there to cheer me up and make me feel better...."

Zach smiled back. "And I hope I always will be!"

At long last, Olivia finally pulled away, returning to the rest of her ice cream. "This time I'm not gonna get brain freeze," she said with a giggle. "Today has been so great..... I wish my life was like this all the time!"

Zach smiled happily. "Yeah! It's always so nice being around you..."

The young girl simply smiled back in response as she worked on finishing her ice cream. I never ever want to stop being his friend.....

Rose and Poppy sat off to the side, keeping an eye on the two children. "It's really amazing just how much that Zach boy cares about our daughter," Rose said. "I don't think I've ever seen Olivia this happy in public, either...."

Poppy chuckled, and looked back at his wife. "Me neither. In fact, I don't think I've seen Olivia this happy, period. There's just something about those two that just makes them click..... Perhaps we're looking at our future son-in-law," he said as he reached out for Rose's hand.

Rose took her husband's hand and laughed softly. "You know, that's not really impossible. We'll just have to see how the years pass by, I suppose...." She gave Poppy's hand a light squeeze as both Zach and Olivia walked over to their table, ready to go home.

----

"You sure you want to do this, Olivia, Zach?" Rose called from the front of the car. After their trip to the ice cream shop, Olivia had begged her parents to take them to the Glitter Lighthouse. And so after stopping at home for a bit, they were back on the road again. "It's a long way up, and didn't you get tired before, Olivia? Sorry, but you might still be a bit too little for this...."

"I-I'm fine!" Olivia protested. "This time will be different..... It will!"

Zach nodded excitedly. "I'm sure we can handle it!" The young boy had an air of certainty around him, determined not to let Olivia down. "We just have to try, and try, and try some more!"

Poppy looked back at the two friends, and laughed heartily. "Ahh, that's the spirit! Never let the challenge get to you two, and you'll go far in life together!" he exclaimed, giving the kids a thumbs up. "That Lighthouse won't be any problem for the two of you!"

"Now, now, dear. Settle down," Rose said with a quiet chuckle from her husband's antics. "What your father says is encouraging and all.... But don't feel bad if you get too tired. We'll carry you two up the rest of the way."

"That won't happen!" Olivia declared. She turned to Zach with a grin, his confidence rubbing off on her. "Ready to make everyone proud?"

"Yeah!" Zach cheered, giving Olivia a high five. As they pulled up to the lighthouse, Zach tore off his seatbelt and clambered out the door. He waited for Olivia to get ready, but just before she was about to step out, his impatience got the better of him and he ran ahead with a teasing giggle.

"W-wait!" Olivia cried, stumbling out of the car as she tried to catch up.

Mrs. Seaton turned to Olivia and her friend with a happy smile. "Well, you two wanted this. And now we're here. Let's get going!"

"Right!" the little girl said, looking over to Zach and extending her hand. "We do this together!"

Zach giggled and took Olivia's hand with a nod. "Let's do this!" he cried as he ran toward the lighthouse, pulling Olivia along behind him.

As they passed by the elevator, Olivia stuck out her tongue and grinned. "Heh, elevators are for losers!" she declared. "We can make it all the way up just by walking!"

Rose and Poppy paid the entry fee for the four of them, and soon they began their journey up the Glitter Lighthouse. Olivia trudged on determinedly, surprised at how huge the bottom floor alone seemed.

"Once we get higher up, we'll have a lovely view of the ocean," Rose said as they climbed. "Do you two look forward to that?"

Zach nodded happily. "Yeah! And it's near sunset, isn't it? That should be even more amazing!" The boy excitedly jumped up to the next step, feeling full of boundless energy.

Olivia yelped, nearly losing her balance from Zach’s jump. "S-sorry!" she sputtered, steadying herself and regaining her composure. Her cheeks reddened once more at the thought of almost embarrassing herself yet again.

Zach looked back and tightened his grip on Olivia's hand, giving her a worried look. "I'm sorry," he said sheepishly. "Are you okay?"

"I-I'm fine....." Olivia replied as she checked herself for injuries. "It's fine.... I should have paid more attention...... then I wouldn't mess up so much....." The little girl sighed as she walked up the stairs, trying to regain her smile but still feeling down from her mistake.

Zach looked sad that Olivia felt bad, and hugged her arm close with a reassuring smile. "It's alright!" he said. "Mommy says everyone makes mistakes now and again! And I think you're doing great!"

Olivia seemed to perk up in response, her smile coming more naturally. "Your mommy has nice things to say. I like it....... And I'm going to do great, right now!" she declared, smiling widely while also gripping Zach's arm closer to herself.

Zach was glad that she had cheered up more and giggled happily as they continued up the stairs. "So will I!"

Rose and Poppy smiled at each other, not saying a word. The bond between Zach and Olivia was clear to them, and so they let the two have their moment together. All four of them walked up, and soon enough they reached the second floor of the Lighthouse.

"We did it, Zach!" Olivia exclaimed, jumping up and down. "If one floor was that easy, then this whole climb will be super easy! We can do this!" The little girl grinned and pulled Zach into a full-on hug. Zach jumped as well as he hugged Olivia with a wide smile. They giggled happily, as if the two of were sharing their boundless energy with each other. Olivia finally let go of the hug, but still pressed herself close against her best friend as they walked. "You know, today is the best day ever," the little girl said, closing her eyes with a content smile. "Even though I've been here before, going again with you makes everything so much more fun...."

"I know, right? It just seems so awesome!" Zach punctuated his remark by swinging their arms through the air. "How many floors are there, anyway?"

Olivia struggled to remember and scratched the back of her head with her free hand. "I think..... six?" she said with a frown.

Zach gave her a confident smile. "Then we can definitely do it, let's go!" he cheered, trying to pick up their pace.

Rose watched the two children race ahead of her and chuckled. "Don't get too ahead of yourselves kids, it might be a good idea to save that energy for the later floors. Of course, you're probably not going to listen to me either way; kids will be kids....."

Zach giggled, and slowed down a bit, but still just wanted to get to the top fast. He looked over to Olivia happily, very glad for the trip, and hoped they both could make it to the top without help.

Olivia rolled her eyes at her mother's words, but she and Zach slowed down a bit, exchanging glances with each other. They both wanted to make it to the top by themselves, and it was that common goal they wanted to see through that gave them their strength. Zach squeezed Olivia's hand reassuringly. They would manage this together. He was confident of that.

For a while, it seemed as though Olivia's enthusiasm and energy was just as limitless as Zach's. She made it through the second and third flights of stairs without a problem, feeling on top of the world as she held hands and giggled with her best friend. That began to change, however, when they reached the stairs on the fourth floor. The little girl tried her best to keep up and hide her exhaustion, but she was starting to slow down, audibly panting

"You okay?" Zach asked curiously.

Olivia took a moment to catch her breath. ".........No.............. I can do this.... I'm fine......" she finally replied, panting heavily still. Although she trudged onward, her feet continued to drag, and her pace slowed further still.

Zach slowed down to match her pace, not wanting her to push herself too far. "Want me to help?" he asked brightly. The boy seemed to have just as much energy as he'd had at the start of the journey.

"Huh...?" Olivia asked, pausing for a moment. "H-help....?"

Zach nodded with a smile. "I could carry you. We'd still make it up to the top together." Behind his mask of confidence, Zach realized that he hadn't ever actually tried to carry anyone before. But he was positive it would work, and he didn't want to see Olivia not reach her goal.

Olivia rubbed the back of her head. She had wanted to make it to the top without any help. Zach carrying her would be just like one of her parents carrying her... right? "A-are you sure?" she asked, blushing slightly. "I-I don't want you to get too tired from carrying me...."

Zach laughed and gave her a thumbs up. "I'm sure I'll be fine!" Although he had is initial doubts, the more Zach tried to assure Olivia, the more he started to believe he really could do it. He couldn't explain how, but he felt like his determination to help Olivia get to the top was fueling him with boundless energy. "Besides," he added. "This is like the fourth floor. We're nearly there... we can't give up now!"

"Ummm......... O-okay then." Olivia replied. She figured she'd rather let Zach carry her than her parents, and she was glad for a chance to be able to rest.

With a grin, Zach knelt down on the stairs and looked over his shoulder at Olivia. "A piggy-back ride should work!" he giggled.

"...........Oh......" Olivia nodded as she carefully climbed onto her friend's back. "Ummm...... Please don't get hurt....." she said timidly, hoping she wasn't too big for him.

"Don't you worry about me!" Zach gave a goofy grin as he wrapped his arms around her legs and tried to push himself to his feet. He wobbled slightly, surprised at how heavy she was, and had to grip the railing to support himself. With grinning determination, he took a testing step, and slowly started to make his way up the stairs.

"You sure you two don't need help there?" asked Rose as she and Poppy caught up to the kids.

Zach winced slightly as he nearly stumbled, but managed to catch himself on the rail. "I-I'm good for now...!" he called out, forcing a confident smile. "It's just like carrying a backpack at school! A backpack with a whole lot of books in it..." If Olivia were to ask him, Zach would probably admit that he was pushing himself, but he wasn't about to reveal that without prompt. He had given her a promise that he'd get her to the top of the lighthouse, and he was going to keep it. He just hoped he wouldn't collapse before they got there.

Olivia smiled, impressed with how easily Zach seemed to be carrying her up. The going was still slow, it was still much faster than Olivia would be able to go by herself. She nuzzled her head against Zach's contently. "Thank you so much," she said, kissing his cheek in thanks. "No one's more helpful in the whole wide world than you...."

Zach blushed happily as he pressed himself to keep going. "You're... welcome..." he giggled, starting to pant himself as they reached the final flight of stairs.

Olivia closed her eyes and reflected on just how much she cared about her friend and how thankful she was that they'd met each other. "I love you..." she breathed softly. Of course, at her age she didn't fully understand the significance of that phrase, but she knew it was a nice thing to say.

Her words seemed to give Zach the last burst of strength he needed. When at last they reached the top of the stairs, the boy wearily knelt down to let Olivia off. "Love ya... too..." he panted. Like Olivia, Zach couldn't truly comprehend the meaning of those words. But he couldn't think of a better way to describe the warm feeling in his chest as he smiled over at his friend.
"Zach..... Thanks," Olivia said as she climbed off his back. "I feel so much better now, thanks to you....." The little girl knelt beside Zach and hugged him tightly, giving him a grateful smooch on his cheek.

Zach grinned wearily and hugged her back. His eyes widened as he looked past Olivia's shoulder and saw the golden sky through a large window. He pushed himself to his feet and slowly walked over to the lookout point, captivated by the view. "Wow..."

Olivia followed eagerly, pressing her face against the glass as she gazed out on the horizon. "The ocean is so pretty when the sun is setting....." she said in marvel. Once more the little girl reached for Zach's hand and leaned against him, her cheek brushing against his. "Seeing this view with you makes it so much better, though....."

"Yeah... This is amazing!" Zach said in awe as he gripped Olivia's hand, resting his head against hers. Together they watched the sun slowly sink behind the mountains of Cianwood. The amber hue that filled the sky slowly gave way to a light pink, with specks of gold glittering on the deep blue waves.

"I love this moment... I love you......." Olivia's face lit up with happiness as she turned to Zach. "If only every day could be like this, where I get to enjoy and share these beautiful moments with you..... I would be the happiest girl alive."

Zach nodded with a wide smile. He was about to respond when a man called out on a megaphone for everyone to line up for the tour.

Olivia perked up and looked at Zach excitedly. "At the end of the tour is when they let us pet Amphy!" she exclaimed.

"Really?!" Zach asked, feeling his energy return to him. "That sounds amazing~!"

Olivia hopped up and down, barely able to contain her excitement as she dragged Zach over toward the tour. "Amphy is soooo nice! The tour is worth it just to pet her!" She smiled as she thought back to the last time she met Olivine's famous Ampharos. "You'll really, really, really like her!"

"I can't wait, then!" Zach cried with a giddy laugh. The two kids followed along on the occasionally interesting, occasionally underwhelming tour. They listened as the tour guide rambled on about the lighthouse's history, detailing how the old, broken down tower had been refurbished after many years, how on the night of a fierce storm the Gym Leader Jasmine had offered her Ampharos to stand in for the dim lantern to provide light for passing ships, how several years ago Amphy had fallen deathly ill and a young trainer had retrieved medicine from Cianwood's pharmacy. At long last, the tour came to an end as they approached the fabled Ampharos herself. Amphy sat contently in an open space, looking over at the tourists with a friendly smile.

"Eeeeeee~" Olivia squealed in excitement. "She's just so cuuuute!"

Zach's face lit up when he saw the Ampharos. "Oh, wow!!" he cried. "She looks amazing!"

"Come on!" Olivia exclaimed, running over to the line that was quickly forming for the tourists to meet and greet Amphy.

Zach smiled as they waited in line for their turn. "You can go first, Livvy!"

"Really?" Olivia gave a wide grin. "I'll make sure you go next, okay?" When her turn came, the little girl walked up to Amphy and happily pet her. The Ampharos smiled and nuzzled against Olivia, licking her face. "Hey, that tickles!" Olivia giggled.

As Olivia interacted with Amphy, Zach could barely contain his grin. "She seems to like you!" he laughed, wondering what the Ampharos would think of him.

"Yeah, she was this nice last time I came, too!" Olivia smiled as she scratched behind Amphy's ear. "Amphy, I want you to meet my friend Zach," she told the Ampharos. "He's my best friend in the whole world! He helped me climb all the way up the stairs just to meet you!" With a giggle, Olivia took a step back, eager to see how Zach and Amphy would like each other

Zach carefully approached the Ampharos and reached out a hand to pat her head. When Amphy nuzzled against his hand and squealed in approval, Zach smiled widely and began to stroke her soft fur. He laughed out as Amphy licked his face as well. "It's nice to meet you, Amphy," he said, giving her a warm hug.

Olivia grinned at how quickly Zach and Amphy were becoming friends. "Wow, she REALLY likes you, Zach!" she said happily.

Zach giggled as he continued to pet the Ampharos, hearing a soft bleating purr from the happy electric-type. After while he hugged Amphy goodbye and walked over to Olivia.

"What did I tell you? Amphy's the best, right?!" Olivia said as she smiled over at the Ampharos, who was enjoying the petting of the other tourists.

"Yeah!" Zach said happily. "She was amazing!"

"Yeah..... Makes me wish I had an Ampharos of my own," Olivia muttered. "It would be so nice...." The little girl gazed out over the ocean as she dreamt of how much fun her own Ampharos would be.

Zach looked at Olivia thoughtfully, bringing a finger to his chin. "I could catch one for you, someday!"

"That would be so amazing!" Olivia quickly turned to hug Zach, her eyes lighting up in joy. "She'd be your Ampharos too, and we'd all have the best time ever!"

Zach giggled giddily. "Yeah! And we could cuddle with her any time!" He hugged her back with a small yawn, his tiredness finally catching up to him.

Olivia laughed before yawning herself. "This was such a long trip...." she said, finding it harder to keep her eyes open. "I just wanna go to bed now...."

Rose and Poppy approached the pair, seeing how sleepy they had gotten. "Well, we could either retrace our steps and walk all the way back down," Poppy said with a smile. "Or we could use the elevator a few feet away."

"I think you'll want to take the elevator," Rose said, rolling her eyes at her husband's antics. "Come on kids, time to go home....."

Zach and Olivia chuckled tiredly at Mr. Seaton's remark and walked over to the elevator. The two kids slumped against the back wall of the elevator, with Zach giving a big yawn. Olivia sighed in content. "This really was the best day ever...." she breathed, resting her head on Zach's shoulder as she drifted in and out of sleep.

"Yeah... I agree with that..." Zach said as his eyelids drooped. His head rested against Olivia's as he breathed quietly.

The elevator reached the bottom floor with a ding! and Rose and Poppy looked back to see the two kids had fallen into a deep sleep. "They look so peaceful," Rose said, looking over at her husband with a smile.

"Yeah..... Makes me hope these two never stop being friends," Poppy replied as the two of them gently picked up the sleeping kids. While the best friends slept, each one dreaming of the other, the Seaton parents reached their car and gently placed the two in the back seat, buckling them up.

When at last they arrived at their home, Rose and Poppy looked back to see Zach and Olivia leaning on each other's shoulders. As Olivia's parents had envisioned, the two close friends would only grow closer as time went on....


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#3 Online Konuju

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Posted Jun 08 2015 - 07:47 PM

(Part one of a small series of side stories I'm doing. Title will come later.)
 

Part 1

 

Movement.

He was lying perfectly still, and yet he sensed the world moving around him. Or was he the one moving? It was hard to tell. There was a subtle, almost rhythmic bouncing, like the rocking of a boat. Sounds gradually grew more intense before dying away, as if their source was passing by like a train. His ears perked up as he heard another sound.

Voices.

He couldn't understand what they were saying, but they seemed to be excited about something. The voices grew louder. They did not die away. Shaking off the last remnants of sleep, he lifted his head and opened his eyes.

Light. Brilliant light.

He shut his eyes tight. But as the voices grew even more excited, his curiosity overcame his sensitivity and he squinted his eyes open. A wooden floor was moving below him. Suddenly the bouncing motion made sense: he was being carried.

A hand obscured his vision. A pair of arms wrapped around him and he felt an odd sensation between falling and weightlessness as he was shifted from one person to another. He opened his eyes further and found himself staring at a young woman. She had strawberry blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes. As he held her gaze, her beaming smile grew until she drew him into a warm hug, uttering something that sounded very much like a squee.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw another person walk up to him. He turned his head and saw a strapping young man with messy brown hair and dark, unwavering eyes. The man quickly broke out into a smile as he reached his hands toward him.

There was that odd sensation again, although it wasn't as severe this time. The man's hands were a lot rougher than the woman's, although they held him just as gently. Now that he was closer, he could see subtle growths of hair along the man’s chin. Curious, he reached out to feel the hairs, causing the man to laugh. Behind him he heard the woman laugh as well, and suddenly her hand was stroking his head.

He was almost lulled back to sleep as the stroking continued and the voices started to converse. He felt himself get shifted back to the gentle arms of the woman, who continued to stroke him. He wasn’t sure how long he remained there, but eventually he sensed the woman had started walking. He lifted his head and opened his eyes again just in time to see the man open a door.

He blinked. The sunlight warmed his face and a cool breeze made his ears twitch. His mouth watered as the scent of grilled berries reached his nose. As the man and woman walked, they spoke to him. He didn't fully comprehend what they were saying, but he understood they were excited. He was excited too, and his eyes grew wide as he looked at all the people moving up and down the street.

The man and woman paused as they approached a man who showed them an assortment of colorful bands, each with a metal adornment. The man and woman spoke to each other, occasionally looking down at him with a smile. Eventually they picked out one of the bands, which the man carried as they continued to walk. They spoke to him some more, although this time he noticed that they were repeating one word more than any other. It was a nice word, and he couldn't help but grow happy every time they said it. After a while, he realized that the word they were using was referring to him. It was his name.

"Terry."


  • 1
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#4 Online Konuju

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Posted Jun 14 2015 - 03:36 PM

Terry's Tale

 

Part 2

 

Terry quickly grew to adore his new family. The woman, who he quickly learned was named Anna, doted on him day and night. Between snuggling, playing fetch, and those amazing belly rubs, Terry was as happy as a Lillipup could be. The man, Paul, was away more often than Anna was, but when he was home he would always play with Terry, wrestling with him and taking him for walks. It didn’t take long for Terry to learn that Paul usually came home around the same time every day, and he would often wait at the door to greet him when he came in.

Besides Paul and Anna, there were other family members Terry saw less often. Bisharp would occasionally help out around the home and rarely had time to play. Kimber was generally more tolerant of the young Lillipup's antics, although she was often tired from a long day's work. Both Bisharp and Kimber left to work with Paul during the day. Terry couldn't understand why they wouldn't want to just stay home and bask in Anna's belly rubs all day.

It was a while before Terry learned that the huge metallic bird that occasionally landed in the backyard was also a member of the family, a hard faced Skarmory aptly named Scar for the thin mark across his left eye. Scar had a habit of remaining elusive; he seemed to show up at the most random of times and would then vanish when Terry wasn't looking. Scar would occasionally swoop down from the skies to join Terry and Paul on their walks through the small village town. However, the steel bird always remained distant, hovering several feet above them. One time in the backyard, Terry saw Paul hop onto Scar's back and take off, soaring into the sky. It was several days before they returned.

As Terry grew older, Anna started to disappear for longer periods of time. She was never gone for as long as Paul, but Terry would find himself alone for hours at a time. At first he was devastated. Then he took to exploring every nook and cranny of the house. He was determined to uncover every secret there was to find.

One day after he had thoroughly explored a closet full of heavy coats and scarves, the fireplace caught his eye. Terry knew the fireplace was a source of heat when it got cold, but during the summer months it seemed to just sit there gathering dust. He scampered up to the entrance and climbed inside. Much to his surprise, light filtered down through a long shaft above him. He gave a testing bark, which echoed down the shaft.

Stricken with a sudden curiosity, Terry leapt up to try to climb the shaft. He extended his claws in an attempt to grip the rugged walls, but it proved to be an even harder task than climbing a tree. He leapt up to try again, but to no avail. A third attempt proved similarly unfruitful. On the fourth attempt, a black dust caused him to sneeze, sending him tumbling out of the fireplace. The Lillipup rolled into the side of a coffee table and he heard a resounding crash. Terry cringed as he opened his eyes and saw the shattered remains of a vase. With a whimper, he decided to give up his attempts at climbing the fireplace shaft.

When Anna came home, she let out a gasp. "Terry!" she cried. The Lillipup whimpered and backed under the kitchen table. "Oh, no you don't!" Anna shouted, reaching down to grab Terry. "What have you been up to? Your fur is filthy!"

She brought Terry to the sink and gave him a bath. He hadn't realized it at the time, but his attempts to climb the chimney shaft had gotten his fur covered in soot. As soon as he was dry, Anna shooed him out to the backyard so she could work on cleaning up his mess. As she carried him, Terry saw that in addition to the broken pieces of vase, the living room floor was littered with soot-colored paw prints.

On an ordinary day, Terry would be happy to play outside. But he had never seen Anna so mad at him; somehow her frustration had sapped his desire to play. Instead the Lillipup hung his head low and waited by the door.

When Paul came home he was similarly frustrated. Although Terry was let back inside, he had none of his usual energy. He ate his dinner silently, feeling the weight of his guilt. When he was finished, he simply curled up in a ball and went to sleep.

The next morning he was awoken early in the morning by Bisharp. The dark-type's face remained emotionless as he offered Terry a bowl of food for breakfast. With a yawn, Terry cocked his head curiously at the Bisharp, but nevertheless began to eat.

"Morning, Terry," Paul said as he walked into the room. "We're going to take a little walk this morning."

Terry's ears drooped. He couldn't tell if this was related to what had happened yesterday or not. Was this some unusual form of punishment? He yipped questioningly to Bisharp, but the Sword Blade Pokémon remained as silent as ever. When Kimber wandered into the room, he voiced his concerns to her. The Torkoal merely nodded for him to follow Paul, who was waiting at the door.

The air was crisp as they headed outside, a thin fog permeating throughout the streets of Village Bridge. Terry remained nervous as they walked across the eponymous bridge in silence. A dull shadow followed them, heralding the arrival of Scar, who flew above the group. Although Terry had known Scar to join them on walks on occasion, the metallic bird seemed more like a hungry Mandibuzz warning Terry of the grim fate that awaited him.

They stopped at a building Terry had never been to before. The interior was large and spacious, the walls lined with dozens of tools, metal plates, and odd trinkets Terry did not recognize. Paul picked the Lillipup up and set him on a desk. "Welcome to Déoza, Terry," he said. "This is where I work. I figured you might enjoy helping me out, now that Anna's started working more."

Terry's little eyes widened with curiosity. So this was what Paul did every day. He sighed in relief, as while he figured this was still a consequence of the broken vase, it wasn't nearly as bad as he'd been expecting.

"Here," Paul said as he handed the Lillipup a twisted metal rod. "See if you can't straighten this out."

Terry nodded eagerly, ready to prove his willingness to help. He grabbed the metal between his teeth and tried to twist his head. The metal would not budge. He bit down harder, holding the rest of the rod down with his paw. Still, nothing happened.

With a whimper, Terry looked over at Paul. The man had already busied himself with a much larger metal slab, hammering away at it. Meanwhile, Bisharp was cutting long rods into thin slices, and Kimber had begun to heat up a pile of scrap metal. Terry returned his focus to his own twisted rod and resumed his attempts to straighten it out. Although he didn't want to complain, he felt that he was sorely inadequate for his given task. Perhaps it really was just a form of punishment. Paul was using a hammer, Kimber had her internal body heat, and Bisharp had knives for hands. All Terry had were his teeth and claws, which were completely useless against the stubborn metal.

Terry started to grow frustrated as it became more and more clear that he wasn't going to be able to move the metal at all. With an angry growl, he spat the rod out of his mouth and glared at it.

"Giving up so soon?" Paul asked, picking up the rod and placing it back at Terry's feet.

The Lillipup barked in annoyance as he kicked the twisted metal away. Paul calmly placed it back at his feet.

"I wouldn't ask you to do this if I didn't know you were capable of it," Paul said. Terry rolled his eyes. "You're holding back. I don't care if you end up breaking the rod, but I want to see you pour all of your energy into it. You're stronger than you think, Terry."

Terry looked up at Paul's confident smile. Further back, Bisharp looked on in silence, and Kimber gave him an encouraging nod. Taking a deep breath, Terry picked up the rod in his mouth again, growling as he tried to twist it. Nothing. He bit down harder and growled more, determined to prove his capabilities to Paul.

At that moment, Terry felt an unusual energy well up inside of him. His entire head felt warm as he gnawed on the rod. Suddenly, he felt his teeth sink into the metal. He looked down in surprise and saw a tongue of flame escape his mouth. Terry yelped in surprise, chomping down the rest of the way and cleaving the rod in two. The metal glowed orange at the spot he had bitten it.

"Well done, Terry!" Paul said with a hearty laugh, ruffling the Lillipup's fur. "A splendid Fire Fang. You could use some refinement, especially if you want to help me out in the shop, but that was an excellent display of power."

Terry blinked as the flames vanished from his mouth, but wagged his tail happily and licked Paul's hand. Kimber congratulated him, and even Bisharp offered a small smile.

"Just make sure you watch that mouth of yours," Paul warned. "I don't think either of us would want to see Anna's wrath if you accidentally set the drapes on fire."


  • 1
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#5 Online Konuju

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Posted Jun 22 2015 - 12:46 PM

Terry's Tale

 

Part 3

 

Working with Paul soon became a regular thing for Terry. He was able to perfect his Fire Fang to the point where he could cut and mold metal just as well as Paul's other Pokémon. He had both the warm flames of Kimber and the cutting power of Bisharp; an excellent balance between the two. It was hard work at times, but it was rewarding, and Terry loved being able to help Paul.

One caveat of the blacksmith work was that Terry did not get to see Anna as much as he used to. As such, it was a while before he realized that there was something different about her. She would still give him her trademark belly rubs, but she seemed more fatigued than usual. At the same time, however, she seemed oddly excited. It was an unusual mixture of emotions, and Terry didn't know what to make of it.

Whatever the reason for it, Anna’s excitement seemed to be contagious. Although he was much more subtle about it, Paul gained a slight bounce in his step, and he would break out into a grin at the most random of times, such as when soldering metal plates together or hammering away at a horseshoe. Even Bisharp and Kimber seemed to be in lighter spirits as of late, although when Terry asked them about it, they merely said that they were happy because Paul was happy.

One day in late spring, Terry was working in the back room of the workshop when Bisharp approached him. The Lillipup looked up questioningly, wondering if he had curved a rod at the wrong angle. Instead, Bisharp informed him that they had the rest of the day off, and were going to head home. Terry was surprised, but he was more than happy to have some play time with Paul and Anna.

Kimber joined them as Bisharp closed up the shop. Oddly enough, Paul was nowhere to be seen. The three Pokémon walked home alone. Terry sniffed around, picking up Scar's scent near the workshop entrance. He barked to the others, asking where Paul had gone. Kimber simply said he was busy, and Bisharp gave a curt nod to prove the point. Terry wanted to press them further, but he knew Bisharp well enough to know he didn't like to be bothered about trivial matters.

The three Pokémon made it home, and much to Terry's disappointment, Anna wasn't there. It made sense though, for it was only midday, and Anna didn't usually come home from work until later in the afternoon. However, the afternoon came and went with no sign of Paul or Anna.

Bisharp cooked the trio a surprisingly tasty dinner, and Terry's worry subsided as he commented on his surprise at the Sword Blade Pokémon’s culinary skills. Bisharp offered him a rare smile. That smile quickly turned into a scowl as Terry teasingly compared him to a kitchen knife.

That evening, Terry waited by the door for Paul or Anna to come home. Bisharp and Kimber had long since fallen asleep, telling Terry not to worry, but the Lillipup continued to wait. And wait. And wait. Since his adoption, he had never spent a night without Paul or Anna. Despite what the other Pokémon had told him, Terry was worried. As the night dragged on, his apprehension gave way to exhaustion. His eyelids started to droop, and although he tried to fight it, the Lillipup was soon fast asleep.

There is one major problem with sleeping in front of a closed door. A major problem that Terry found out the hard way through a rude awakening: someone opened the door. The Lillipup was jolted out of his sleep, yelping in surprise at the sudden pain in his side where the door had hit him. Yelps of pain soon turned into yelps of joy as he saw both Paul and Anna at the door.

"Oh, Terry, you poor thing!" Paul cried, gasping and laughing at the same time. He knelt down to pick Terry up and gave him a warm hug as the Lillipup licked his face. "Have you been waiting for us this whole time?"

"Oh, you must have been so worried about us!" Anna said, leaning over to kiss Terry on the forehead. Terry began barking excitedly, but much to his surprise, Anna shushed him. "Shh. You'll wake little Ellen."

It was at that moment that Terry realized that Anna was carrying something in her arms. It was roughly his size, and covered in a light pink blanket. Terry tilted his head curiously as he sniffed the blanket. It was an unusual scent, one he was not familiar with.

Anna smiled brightly as she pulled back a corner of the blanket, revealing a baby girl. The child's eyes were closed and she was breathing softly. "Meet the newest member of our family," Anna said proudly. "Ellen Elizabeth Burks."

Terry gazed at the small child. She had a peacefulness and a tenderness about her as she slept soundly. He was suddenly reminded of the day Paul and Anna had taken him in. He recalled how Anna had carried him home, just like she was carrying Ellen now. Despite the similarities, Terry knew this was different. He had been adopted into the family, but the way Paul and Anna both cherished the baby girl, Terry could tell they had a special bond with Ellen. Leaning forward, the Lillipup gently brushed his nose against the baby's cheek, careful not to wake her.

Anna beamed as she looked down at the child in her arms. "You're going to become great friends with Terry, aren't you, Ellen?" She looked up at Paul, her eyes betraying her own exhaustion. "I'm going to take her to her room and lay down a bit."

"You do that," Paul said, wrapping his free arm around her and giving her a kiss. "You deserve a good rest. Holler if you need anything."

"And wake poor Ellen?" Anna smiled teasingly.

"Um, right. Uh, come get me if you need anything, then."

"Will do."

As Anna moved to the other room, Paul sat down on the couch with Terry. "I'm sorry for disappearing on you yesterday, Terry," he said. "Things were just absolutely crazy."

Terry licked his face to let him know he didn't mind. He was just happy they were back.

"Thanks, Terry," Paul laughed. "Now, I have a serious favor to ask you."

Terry tilted his head, listening intensely.

"You're no longer the baby of the family. You've already proven you can handle responsibility, but this is more important than twisting metal. Ellen's just a newborn. And she's more precious to me than anything in the world. I'm going to have to return to work in a few days. And as Anna recovers, I need you to help her watch over Ellen. Yes, I want you to be Ellen's friend, but I also want you to be her protector. Make sure to keep her safe. Think you can do that?"

Terry put his front paws on Paul's chest as he looked him in the eye. He knew how much Ellen meant to Paul and Anna. And anything important to Paul was important to him. He nodded.

"Thank you, Terry." Paul scratched the Lillipup behind his ears with a smile. "I know I can count on you."

Terry took Paul's request seriously. After a late breakfast, he silently slipped into the baby room, where he found Anna fast asleep on a bed and Ellen resting in a crib. The Lillipup took a seat near the crib and simply watched the child sleep.

He did not know how long he was sitting there, but eventually he sensed movement. He perked up his ears, looking up at the crib. Ellen was staring back at him with deep brown eyes. Terry held her gaze, and in that moment, he knew that he would do everything in his power to protect her. He would be her guardian angel; no harm would come to her under his watch.


  • 1
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#6 Online Konuju

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Posted Jun 29 2015 - 10:45 AM

Terry's Tale

 

Part 4

 

It was an interesting transition going from blacksmith work with Paul to childcare with Anna. Terry no longer had to shape metal or walk across the bridge to work, but his early mornings were now joined with late nights, especially in the first several months following Ellen's birth. Instead of gnawing on steel rods and perfecting his Fire Fang, he was constantly watching over Ellen, making sure the girl stayed out of trouble.

Ellen was a gentle and cheerful child with a curiosity that knew no bounds. In many ways she reminded Terry of himself when he was younger, albeit in many ways she was different. Perhaps it was because she was a human child and not a Lillipup, but Ellen was far more docile than Terry had been. Whereas Terry had tended to rush headfirst into any new experience that came his way, Ellen was more likely to passively observe a situation, although her wide and wondering eyes held the same enthusiasm. She would often watch Anna perform the most mundane housework, and on occasion she would try to help, mimicking her mother's movements. Terry was impressed by Ellen's helpful attitude, but regardless he followed her everywhere, lest she get any ideas about climbing the chimney shaft.

Around the time Ellen learned to talk, her parents gave her a Pokémon of her own: a bright and bubbly young Solosis whom she named Solo. As a psychic-type, Solo had the unique ability to communicate with anyone around him through a mental link. The first time he tried this with Terry, the Lillipup nearly jumped out of his fur, barking wildly and looking around for the source of the voice in his head that was not his own.

Relax, silly, it's me! Solo!

"Don't worry, Terry," Ellen said as she stroked the Lillipup's fur. "Solo talks with tepeh...tah...nee." She frowned. "Tenepaly. Telepony."

Mind-speak, Solo offered.

Ellen nodded. "That."

Terry gave a disgruntled snort as he stared at the Solosis.

Ellen had always been a friendly girl, but she and Solo became inseparable. Much to Terry's relief, Solo eventually learned how to direct his mental words toward the person he was talking to, rather than broadcast them for everyone to hear. This had the unusual result of Ellen speaking aloud in response to Solo's mind-speak, leaving everyone else with just half the conversation. Paul said this behavior was strange, and that other children would make fun of her for it, but Anna argued that it was good for Ellen to have a close bond with her Pokémon and insisted she'd outgrow the habit as she got older.

As Ellen grew older, she formed a growing appreciation for the outdoors. She absolutely loved going on walks around Village Bridge, and whenever they passed by a street musician, she would stop and listen, completely mesmerized by the flowing melodies. It didn't take long for many of the musicians to know Ellen by name and learn which songs from their repertoire were her favorites. What used to be standard forty-five minute walks around the village had turned into two hour musical extravaganzas.

If there was one thing Ellen enjoyed more than the musicians, it was the park. She would play there for hours, running around, climbing, and laughing with Solo. Terry would occasionally follow her around while Anna rested on the bench. More often than not, however, Terry would join Anna on the bench, basking in one of her amazing belly rubs.

It was during one such belly rub that Ellen and Solo wandered off. Anna looked up from Terry, a frown etching itself on her face. "Terry, do you see where Ellen went?"

Terry whined as the rubbing stopped, but at the mention of Ellen missing, he looked up and quickly scanned the park. When he didn't see her or Solo, Terry leapt down from Anna's lap and sniffed at the ground, trying to track Ellen's scent. He barked for Anna to follow him as he picked up the trail, which led him to the woods on the other side of the swings.

Anna and Terry had just begun to traverse the woods when they found Ellen on her way back to the playground, carrying a small bird in her hands as Solo bobbed up and down beside her. "Mommy," Ellen said in her small voice. "Look what I found."

Anna's face paled. "Where did you get that, Sweetie?"

Terry sensed the incoming attack before anyone else. His ears detected the soft sound of wings on the wind, of feathers fluttering. He glanced up and saw a fierce Mandibuzz making its way toward Ellen. Terry didn't think. He just leapt into action, launching himself off the ground with a sharp growl as he knocked Ellen aside, taking the hit meant for her.

Anna shrieked at the sudden turn of events. Ellen hit the ground hard and began to cry. Solo panicked for a moment before rushing to Ellen's side. Meanwhile, Terry grappled with the Mandibuzz, biting and scratching in an attempt to keep the bird away from his family. The Mandibuzz gave a terrible screech and rapidly struck the Lillipup in the side with Fury Attack.

Terry bared his fangs and chomped down on the bird's leg with Fire Fang. He glanced over his shoulder and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Anna picking up Ellen and slowly backing away. It was clear she was torn between getting Ellen out of there and not wanting to abandon Terry. The Lillipup barked for her to go -- Ellen was the priority.

Solo floated forward, focusing a Psyshock on the Mandibuzz. The Dark-Type merely grinned as she absorbed the attack and responded with a Dark Pulse that sent both Terry and Solo reeling. As Solo worked on Recovering his energy, Terry leapt forward again, determined to keep the aggressive bird at bay. His attack was met with a Bone Rush that drove him into the ground. The Mandibuzz aimed an Air Slash at Solo before advancing toward Ellen and Anna, a malicious glint in her eye.

Terry struggled to his feet and planted himself between the vulture and her target. He barked a warning, which the Mandibuzz ignored with a cackle. Terry stood firm as the vulture lashed out with another Bone Rush. His muscles throbbed and pain coursed through every inch of his body, yet he refused to back down.

He felt a surge of power well up inside of him. It was almost like how he had felt using Fire Fang for the first time, but this feeling was different; it was stronger, less controllable. It was too much for his small body to handle. Then he felt his body change, his legs growing stronger, his form becoming sturdier. Although he could not see his physical changes, he could feel the raw power coursing through him. His lips curled back in a snarl. Before the glow that had surrounded his body subsided, Terry leapt toward the Mandibuzz in Retaliation, barking an order for the vulture to leave his family alone.

The Mandibuzz squawked in surprise as the Herdier knocked her to the ground. Fangs bared, Terry clamped down with an even more powerful Fire Fang than before. As the Mandibuzz screeched in pain, Terry brought his fangs down for a Crunch aimed at the vulture's thin neck.

"Stop!"

Terry's ears perked up at the sound of Ellen's cry. He looked back with a whine as the young girl ran towards him, still clutching the baby Vullaby in her arms.

"Don't hurt her, Terry!" Ellen pleaded. "She didn't mean it -- she was just scared for her baby." The girl approached the felled vulture without even a glimpse of fear. "I'm sorry," she said as she knelt at the Mandibuzz's side. "I was just playing with your baby; I didn't mean any harm." She gently set the Vullaby down and extended a hand to stroke the Mandibuzz's head.

Terry tensed as the Mandibuzz opened her beak as if to bite Ellen. But the vulture relaxed as Ellen pet her, and the baby Vullaby crooned happily. Terry cautiously stepped off of the Mandibuzz, allowing her to stand back up and embrace her child in her ruffled wings.

"I'm sorry Terry hurt you," Ellen said with a smile. "He was just trying to protect me and Mommy, like you were trying to protect your baby."

The Mandibuzz glanced warily at Terry, as if she didn't quite trust him, but directed what looked like a smile at Ellen. She allowed Ellen to stroke her feathers once more before she turned around, picked up her baby in her beak, and flew off over the woods.

"Bye-bye!" Ellen called, waving at the vulture.

At this point, Anna finally came to her senses and rushed over to Ellen, pulling her into a tight hug. "Ellen!" she cried, tears running down her face. "Oh, don't ever scare me like that again!"

"I'm sorry, Mommy," the young girl said. "I just wanted to play. I never meant to make everyone worried."

"From now on, let's just leave baby Pokémon in the woods where we find them, okay?"

"What if I ask their mommies if I can play first?" Ellen asked innocently.

"Just... just be careful, Sweetie," Anna said through her tears. "I'd like it if you brought me or Terry with you for that."

Ellen nodded, then went over to Terry and gave him a hug. "You look different, Terry."

"He evolved," Anna said with a smile. "He turned into a Herdier to keep us safe." Ellen's mother scooped Terry up in her arms and held him in a warm embrace. "Thank you, Terry. I always knew we could count on you."

Terry barked happily and licked Anna's face. Paul and Anna had done so much for him as a puppy. Now it was his turn to return their favors.


  • 1
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#7 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 05 2015 - 04:00 AM

GENTLEMEN! BEHOLD!!!

 

Mercurial Side Stories 1/5

 

The young man opened his eyes and was momentarily blinded. Directly above the comfortable bed he was lying in was a fluorescent light, its whiteness searing his gray eyes. With a groan of pain, he snapped his eyes shut. That brief exposure left his head throbbing.
 
He sat up slowly, trying to get his bearings. He didn't remember how he'd gotten here. He... Actually, he didn't remember anything. His eyes snapped open again and he lurched to a straightened position. Panic clawed at him, causing him to ignore the frantic beeping coming from beside his bed.
 
He was in a white room, tile floors. Another bed sat across from his, empty, and machines took up the majority of the extra space. He looked down at the suction cups (electrodes, his mind filled in, but not Electrodes) on his arms  and chest, and then up to the rapidly-beeping machine.
 
He was just tearing the device from his skin, causing the machine to emit one long, steady beep, when the door was flung open and a pink-haired nurse entered rapidly, a medical gurney in front of her.
 
The two locked eyes for a brief moment, and she breathed a sigh of relief. "You're awake. I thought--"
 
"Where--" He was cut off by a coughing fit. His throat was dry, parched, and his voice had come out as more of a croak than anything. As the coughing died down, the Nurse handed him a bottle of water.
 
He drank greedily, emptying the bottle in one long pull before speaking. "Where am I?" His voice was cold and crisp, distant, flat. "How did I get here?"
 
"You're in Fallarbor Town," the nurse replied, turning the heart monitor off. "The back room of the Pokemon Center, to be precise. Your Lucario dragged you in, in critical condition, before returning to his ball. I healed him and your Lapras."
 
The trainer frowned. He was a trainer? The chair next to his bed held clothing and a belt with two pokeballs, he now saw. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, standing shakily.
 
"Fallarbor Town?" he asked, more to fill the silence than anything. As the nurse started to explain, he removed the hospital gown, grabbing the T-shirt that was his.
 
"It's in Hoenn region, sir, at the base of Mount Chimney." The nurse looked away as the boy got dressed. It wasn't out of any sort of embarrassment on her part, she just wanted to give him his privacy in this instance.
 
He finished dressing in silence, adjusting the belt so it slung off of one hip. He wouldn't have to bend his arm in order to access the pokemon there. He glanced at the black leather duster that was on the chair and a smile graced his lips for the first time.
 
"I was wearing this?" he asked, picking it up.
 
"Yes, sir. Before I discharge you, I do need to ask a few questions, just to make sure I haven't missed anything. While you seem to be in good condition, you never can be too careful."
 
He sighed, looking to her as he pulled the jacket over his shoulders. "Alright, I'm not in any real hurry, I don't think."
 
"That's excellent. Please, have a seat." As he sat down, she picked up a clipboard from the end of his bed. "Alright, sir. You were in pretty bad shape when you were brought in. Multiple bruises and lacerations. Are you feeling stiff or sore at all?"
 
He bent and stretched for a few seconds before giving a small shrug. "A little bit, but it's bearable."
 
"Good, good. You also had a rather large bump on your head. We were unable to wake you up, so it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that you have a concussion. Are you experiencing any headaches, nausea, dizziness, or fatigue?"
 
"No," he responded, before adding, "but I... can't remember anything." He cleared his throat. "That might be related."
 
The nurse stared in silence for a few seconds, before glancing at her chart. "Yes, sir, that would most certainly be related. Can you give me an example of something you are having trouble remembering? Names, places, or anything like that."
 
"Well, I guess the big one is my name, isn't it? I don't remember it. Or what I was doing around here. I don't remember anything besides waking up." He frowned. "Except for certain words and terms. Lucario and Lapras and the like."
 
The nurse nodded softly. "Well, sir, it sounds like you're suffering from post-traumatic amnesia. A blow to the head could cause some damage to the area of your brain responsible for memories, including long-term memories. However, there is nothing to worry about. While most cases of post-traumatic memory loss are long-term, none so far have been permanent."
 
Xander raised an eyebrow. "How long is 'long-term?' Are we talking a week or...?"
 
"About 45 percent of patients lose their memories of previous events for over a month before recovering it, though it's not outside the realm of possibilities for it to last...longer." She cleared her throat. "But not to worry, sir. I'm sure you'll regain them soon!"

Edited by Unown Mercury, Jul 07 2015 - 02:50 PM.

  • 0

"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#8 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 05 2015 - 03:24 PM

Mercurial Side Stories 2/5
 
Mercury- he'd learned his name from the ID in his pocket- walked out of Fallarbor town, Anubis at his side. The Lucario had been in an engraved pokeball with his name on it. He had been overjoyed to see Mercury initially, but was disheartened upong learning of his trainer's condtion.
 
Another thing that Mercury had found in his pocket was a piece of paper. It was a list of towns, cities, and islands, each with a date beside it. The list ran in chronological order, and in the top left it read '2 of 4.' But he only had the one page.
 
The next date was three weeks from the present, and the city was Sootopolis. He had taken a good look at the map in the Pokemon Center, affixing it firmly in his mind. Funnily enough, he seemed to have a good memory.
 
His plan was to walk from Fallarbor town and head south. That would take him to Mauville, and from there, he had two options for hitting the ocean. Slateport was a little closer to Mauville, but he would spend longer at sea, which meant sleeping on the back of his Lapras if he couldn't find a ship going to Sootopolis.
 
So, he would take the longer land journey, walking from Mauville to Lilycove City. From there, it should be a short ride to the walled city. He just hoped he could get there soon enough. The ash was falling heavily as he left the small town, and a sense of forboding settled in the pit of his stomach.
 
----
 
That night, he dreamed he was a child. Though there was snow on the ground, he was barefoot, wearing only shorts and a tank top. The cold made him shiver, but he had to push that aside.
 
A voice spoke from somewhere he could not see. Deep and commanding, the voice made the young Mercury fearful. "You can't come inside until you've found him. You are not to move from that spot."
 
The game was familiar, though it had been initially confusing to the child. Hide and seek, without the seeking. Instead, this person - his father, perhaps? - wanted him to close his eyes and concentrate. He wasn't looking for his Riolu; he was looking for its aura.
 
The cold made things harder for him. He had to concentrate in order to see auras, and the snow that numbed his legs was a powerful distraction. Still, Mercury was used to the game by now. He set his feet wide apart, and closed his eyes. The switch from seeing and seeing came quicker than it used to, though the delay was still noticable.
 
He reopened his eyes after a few quiet seconds, and then pointed to a group of trees. "He's hiding over there." As he said the words, Anubis came bounding out of the trees, as eager as his trainer to go back indoors.
 
Neither knew that it would still be several long hours before their daily training was complete.

Edited by Unown Mercury, Jul 07 2015 - 02:50 PM.

  • 0

"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#9 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 05 2015 - 07:36 PM

Mercurial Side Stories 3/5

 

The trip from Fallarbor to Mauville had taken longer than he'd thought. The volcanic ash had come down heavily, obscuring vision beyond a few feet at times. Added onto that fact were several battles with wild pokemon and overzealous trainers. And, for some reason, the map had made no mention of the enormous desert on route 111.
 
What should have been a three-day trek, at most, had turned into a two-week slog, and he still had four or five days before reaching Lilycove. Getting to Sootopolis seemed like a fantasy, but he wasn't about to give up.
 
He got Anubis healed at the Mauville Pokemon Center before leaving through the city's eastern exit. He wished that Hoenn's trails and paths were more straightforward and connected. As it was, he had taken a long detour south from Fallarbor to Mauville, and was about to take another, equally long detour north to pass through Fortree, before going south again and then east.
 
He shook his head. He could go straight east and cut across the body of water that Mt. Pyre rested in, but Anubis had seemed unnerved at the prospect of ghosts, even ghost types. Mercury could hardly blame him; their auras were odd, and they couldn't be touched by most of Anubis' moveset.
 
He smiled softly, thinking about what he remembered compared to what he didn't. Name? He'd be clueless without his trainer card. Age? Nothing. But anything pokemon related? Names, types, appearances, weaknesses, strengths? He had that down pat.
 
Still, maybe he should risk the shortcut. Anubis wouldn't like it, but they would save precious time, as much as a full day of travel, and Anubis' aura sphere would be able to disrupt them.
 
With steely resolve, he passed the juncture where he should have turned north, instead continuing east. It was only after an hour and a half of walking, the moon starting to rise behind him, that he came to the blockade.
 
A ledge, just slightly taller than his knees. He cursed, turning around and starting the trudge back in the direction of Mauville. Everyone knew that you could hop off ledges - it was a little scary, but made a nice shortcut - but climbing up them? Couldn't be done. Just like those small trees that blocked your path. Only the HM cut would clear them. You certainly couldn't burn them!
 
So it was that he wasted three hours attempting to game the Hoenn route system.

Edited by Unown Mercury, Jul 07 2015 - 02:50 PM.

  • 0

"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#10 Online Konuju

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Posted Jul 06 2015 - 07:06 AM

Terry's Tale

 

Part 5

 
Paul had heartily congratulated Terry on his evolution, and thanked him for keeping his wife and daughter safe. However, he warned Terry that in the future he should try to prevent Ellen from getting into trouble in the first place. The Herdier took this mission to heart. He'd been able to win against the Mandibuzz, but what if the next wild Pokémon Ellen innocently disturbed was too powerful? Terry couldn't take that risk, and so he stuck to Ellen's side like a Kangaskhan to her baby.

Eventually, the time came for Ellen to start going to school. Early in the morning, Anna, Ellen, Terry, and Solo went for a walk to the school on the other side of the bridge. Terry whined when he learned that they would have to leave Ellen there all day.

"What do you mean you can't come with me?" Ellen asked, her eyes wide with worry.

"School is where you learn things," Anna explained.

"But why aren't you coming? Don't you want to learn things too?"

Anna laughed sadly. "I already know these things, Ellen."

"Then why can't you teach me?" the girl pleaded.

"Because," Anna said. She left it at that.

"What about Solo and Terry?" Ellen asked, wrapping her arms around the Herdier. "Can they learn with me?"

"Sorry, honey." Anna shook her head. "This is a people school, not a Pokémon school."

"Nooo!" Ellen sobbed as she clung to Terry. "I don't want to be alone!"

This isn't fair! Solo shouted into everyone's mind, causing Terry to wince. Why can't I stay with Ellen?!

Ellen's crying and Solo's mental shouting and Anna's firm insisting became too much for Terry to handle. He gave a loud bark, telling everyone to be quiet. Then he placed a paw on Ellen's shoulder and licked away her salty tears. He hated this as much as Ellen and Solo did. After all, how was he supposed to fulfill his duty of keeping Ellen safe if she was gone almost as much as Paul? But if Anna believed that no harm would come to Ellen at school, then Terry would have to trust that she was right.

After a tearful goodbye, Anna, Terry, and Solo walked home alone. Solo babbled the entire time, complaining about how they should make a school for both people and Pokémon, how he had never been away from Ellen for this long, and asking Anna if they could stay just outside the school so he could still speak to Ellen in her mind. Eventually, Terry gave a low growl and barked for the Solosis to be silent.

The day stretched on and on. With Ellen gone, the house was unusually quiet. At one time, Terry would have been glad to have a day just with him and Anna again. But the silence was unnerving. It was as if a piece of the family was missing. Even though Paul was usually gone all day at work, Terry wasn't sure he'd ever get used to Ellen being gone.

When at last they returned to the school to pick Ellen up, the young girl ran to her mother's arms, tears streaming down her face. "I don't ever want to leave you again, Mommy!" she cried.



Anna had ensured Ellen that she would grow used to it. But after an entire week of the excruciating torture known as "kindergarten," Ellen seemed no more comfortable with being alone than she had on day one. In the evenings, while Terry tried his best to comfort her, he heard Anna and Paul speaking in low voices in the kitchen. He wasn't sure what they were saying, but he had a feeling they were discussing Ellen.

The next week, instead of walking to school, Anna took them to the bookstore. "I don't think you're ready to go back to school, Ellen," she explained as she took several thick books off the shelves. "And, if I'm being honest with myself, I don't think I’m ready to send you back to school, either. And so, I've decided I'm going to teach you myself."

And so Ellen and Anna began the process of what Anna called "homeschool." Terry watched with interest as they reviewed numbers, words, and stories. Most of it went over Terry's head, but Ellen seemed to soak it in like a sponge. Solo, too, seemed very interested in everything Anna had to teach. So interested, in fact, that Anna had to send the Solosis outside whenever she wanted to quiz Ellen, to ensure Solo didn’t give her the answers.

Terry was happy with this arrangement, because it meant he was still able to watch over Ellen while she learned. Although Terry didn't understand all of Anna's lessons, he was excited by Ellen's enthusiasm. Whenever she did grow frustrated on a topic she found challenging to comprehend, Terry was always there to comfort her. Solo also did what he could to comfort Ellen, although Terry liked to believe that at times the girl needed the comfortable fur of a Herdier more than a mental dialogue with a Solosis.



On Ellen's seventh birthday she received another Pokémon, a soft-spoken Mienfoo named Artemis. Ellen was instantly enthralled by Artemis' love of dancing. It seemed to Terry like the graceful Mienfoo could never sit still. Their family walks grew even longer when Artemis started dancing to the music of the street musicians, and while Ellen would occasionally join in the fun, Terry found himself longing for the days when he and Anna could make their rounds about the village in a mere forty-five minutes.

Regardless, Terry welcomed Artemis into the family. Despite his irritation at the interruptions to their walks, the Herdier had to admit that he enjoyed the Mienfoo's dancing. Often he would sit in the living room, watching her twirl about in sync with whatever music happened to be playing on the radio. Her dedication to her dance was impressive; it seemed as if Artemis lived and breathed her fluid movements.

As Ellen grew, she became more and more curious. She liked to go exploring, and started taking walks without her mother. Solo and Artemis always tagged along, and Terry accompanied them to keep his promise to Paul. Anna did not mind this new arrangement, for she said it gave her a chance to rest after a day of teaching. Ellen would journey through the woods behind the tennis courts, climb through the support towers that stood on either end of the bridge, and occasionally visit the grilled berry sandwich shop, where the owner would cook them all sandwiches at a discounted price. Throughout all her exploring, Ellen never strayed out from under Terry's watchful eye. Whenever they spooked a wild Pokémon while walking through the woods, Terry was always the first to strike. He would not allow any harm to come to Ellen.



It was after their most recent trip to Lacunosa Town that Ellen became interested in the world outside their little hamlet. Her wanderings became farther and farther, as if some outside force was calling her into the unknown. When Terry finally put his paw down and insisted that she shouldn't stray any further from home, Ellen took to climbing the old stone tower at the end of the village's famous bridge. Her footsteps echoed along the spiral stone staircase that ran around the interior of the tower, and a large opening at the top provided an amazing view of the village. Ellen took in the view for a moment, but then focused her eyes to the south.

"What do you think is out there?" she asked. "There's so much of the world I haven't seen! What's it all like?"

Artemis back-flipped up to the rafters, where she gleaned a better view of the river that ran through the village. Solo floated next to Ellen, his eyes growing wide. No doubt he was using his mental link with Ellen to speak with her. Terry placed his paws on the edge of the opening as he gazed out onto the horizon, past the red and gold colored leaves. Whatever was out there, it was a long way from home.

"One day," Ellen said. "One day we'll visit it all. If Daddy can take a week or two off of work, we could all go together! And Mommy could still teach me things while we travel."

Terry barked happily. He would feel a lot better about Ellen exploring the vast region if Paul and Anna were with her.



Ellen's fascination with the world outside of Village Bridge continued to grow. Eventually, Paul decided to plan a trip to visit his brother and sister-in-law -- Ellen's aunt and uncle -- in Accumula Town. "It'll be fun," he said. "We might even be able to stay for Christmas."

However, as the weeks pressed on and the days grew shorter, Paul found himself getting busier and busier with work. Soon he realized that he wouldn't be able to take a vacation. It would just have to be Ellen and Anna. But as the departure date drew ever closer, Anna began to grow ill. She became bedridden, and while Ellen helped out around the house, Terry remained by Anna's side, hoping she would feel better. It quickly became obvious that Anna would not be able to go on the vacation either.

Anna and Paul had a lengthy discussion. Terry heard their muffled voices behind the closed door of their room. A few days later, Paul's brother and sister-in-law arrived in a car. It had been decided that while Paul worked and Anna recovered from her sickness, Ellen would be able to visit her aunt and uncle by herself. Well, not entirely by herself.

"Terry," Paul said, pulling the Herdier aside as Ellen packed her bags for her journey. "I know you're worried about Anna. But I can take care of her. Your job is even more important: I need you to watch over Ellen for me. You've done an excellent job of that for the past nine years. But now I'm trusting you to keep her safe as she leaves the comfort of this village. Don't let her wander into trouble. Protect my baby girl. Can you do that, Terry?"

Terry gave a confident bark and licked Paul's face. He was more than up to the task given to him. Paul and Anna didn't have to worry about a thing. After a whimpering goodbye to Anna, Terry trotted over to Ellen. "This is so exciting, Terry!" the little girl cried. "We're actually going to see Accumula Town!" The Herdier hopped into the car after Ellen and stuck his head out the window, barking to Paul.

"Goodbye, Ellen!" Paul cried, wiping a tear from his eye. "Stay safe! I'll see you at Christmas!"

"Bye, Daddy!" Ellen shouted as she waved to her father. "Take care of Mommy for me! I'll miss you both!"

Terry barked again. He looked back as Paul and the house he had spent so many years in disappeared on the horizon. Then the Herdier turned his head forward. A new adventure awaited them. One full of new places to explore, new friends to meet, and new obstacles to overcome. And throughout their journey, Terry had one goal: to make sure Ellen made it home without a scratch. He would make Paul proud.
 

-END-


  • 1
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#11 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 07 2015 - 02:50 PM

Mercurial Side Stories 4/5

 

It was two days before Mercury and Anubis entered Fortree City. It had been a relatively smooth travel after the failed detour. Fortree City itself was odd, to say the least. Most of the buildings were built in the densely packed trees.
 
The two moved quietly through the town, climbing the ladders and tromping over the bridges as quickly as possible. They had no need to rest, no reason to slow down at all. As they were stepping out onto Route 120, a voice called out to them. "Wait!"
 
They turned, instantly on guard. Anubis' aura appeared around his hands, ready to be turned into the Aura Sphere attack. An older gentleman was walking towards them, hunched over his cane. "Are you heading towards Lilycove?" he asked.
 
Mercury nodded. "That's right. Is there a problem?"
 
"Just be careful out there. Something has been attacking trainers in the long grass along this route. A few people and their pokémon have been injured fairly badly. Stick to the road as much as possible."
 
Mercury scowled. "Fine. Anything else?" He was eager to get out of there. He only had five days to arrive in Sootopolis, and any delay set him on edge.
 
The old man frowned at him and shook his head. Mercury left the city with a sigh of exasperation.
 
Anubis watched his trainer with concern. Mercury had been growing ever more irritable with every detour and delay, every passing day. From experience, the aura pokémon knew that his trainer got reckless when he was irritated. That recklessness was going to manifest itself soon, Anubis felt.
 
Light grey clouds rolled overhead, blotting out the sun as the first few drops of rain started to fall. The Lucario knew that they would walk through all but the worst of storms without seeking shelter. Even when they were younger and new to traveling, Mercury would push through heavy snow and even hail.
 
To Anubis, this particular shower felt dangerous. Between his friend's mood, the rain, and the ominous warning given by the old man, they could expect nothing less than a deadly fight before the day was over.
 
Sure enough, Mercury soon decided to abandon the beaten path, opting for shortcuts through the long grass which towered over their heads. During one such stint, Lucario noticed a flash of some creature's aura to one side. He spun quickly, summoning a bone club to his hand.
 
As the creature lunged, Anubis swung as hard as he could. There was a soft crack as he hit the Kecleon fully in the face. He spun, dropping to one knee and using the club to strike the opponent's legs once, twice. The chameleon creature was sent tumbling backwards and turned to flee.
 
Anubis relaxed slightly, confident that the threat was gone. As he was turning back to Mercury, the wind picked up.
 
A swathe of grass was levelled, the razor wind attack lifting Anubis off of his feet and sending him sprawling. The bone club flew off into the overgrown field. As he was rising to his feet, he saw a disturbing sight.
 
Mercury was laying on the ground, bleeding from his leg. Between Anubis and his trainer was a mostly black, scarred form with patches of white fur. The black blade on its head was stained with spots of red-brown, dried blood, its claws covered with it.
 
The Absol roared, rushing at Anubis, blade glowing purple. As it neared, Anubis sprang aside. The attack knicked his leg and he spun through the air once more. Luckily the grass was so overgrown here, or he would be hurting from the impacts with the ground.
 
The Absol charged again, attacking with another Psycho Cut. Anubis wreathed his hands in aura. As he rose to his feet, he brought them together on either side of the Absol's blade. Psychic energy pulsed through him, the blade cut into his hands, but he held on.
 
He rose to his full height, lifting the Absol's front feet off the ground by its primary weapon. With a roar, he brought a knee up into the Absol's stomach before tossing it away from himself.
 
The dark-type rolled as it landed, coming to its feet quickly. Anubis gathered Aura into a sphere and sent it forward. The Absol, starting to charge, ran face first into the attack.
 
Anubis smirked a bit, knowing that the fighting-type move would deal extreme damage to the dark type. This fight was over.
 
Except the Absol kept moving forward, spurred on by the pain. It hit Anubis with another Psycho Cut attack, opening a gash down his leg. Crying out, Anubis retaliated with a Counter attack, bringing his fists down on his opponent's head.
 
The Absol staggered from the blow, and Anubis brought his fists back up from the follow-through, summoning another bone club as he did. The ground-type move caught the Absol in the chin, sending it flying head over heels.
 
It landed and moved no more. The Lucario knew that it was still alive; its aura gave that much away. He hadn't taken a life, but he feared he would have to. The Absol's aura was tainted, lines of black and red shooting through the more-usual purple, showing madness, a mind at war with itself. The shape was twisted and malformed, a sign of great emotional distress.
 
Such a creature could not be allowed to remain, attacking trainers and pokémon in such a vicious manner. Lucario approached, wielding the bone club like an executioner's blade. Just as he was about to end the miserable creature, a ball flew past, and the Absol was encapsulated by a bright red light.
 
The pokéball landed and shook rapidly before chiming. Mercury limped over, pressing a hand to the wound on his leg. He knelt, picking up the ball, and looked up at Anubis. "I couldn't let you... Anubis, I couldn't let you kill it. Even if it is... wrong."
 

 

Anubis fell to his knees beside his trainer, and, in a rare act of affection, wrapped his friend in a hug. Rain intermingled with tears as they each calmed the other's fear.

  • 0

"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#12 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 08 2015 - 07:17 PM

Mercurial Side Stories 5/5
 
The pair made it to Lilycove with only a day to spare. Mercury wasn't sure how fast his Lapras could travel, but he would press on until he got to Sootopolis City. He returned Anubis, wanting to put as little weight on the water-type's back as possible. They left Lilycove after a very brief rest at the pokémon center.
 
Lapras went as fast as she could, feeling her trainer's urgency. The ocean currents pressed against her, as if it were retreating from something. Terrified water pokémon slowed their journey, attacking repeatedly in their panic.
 
Mercury just spurred Lapras on faster, trying to avoid as much of the fighting as possible. They made little progress that first day, fighting both the tides and hordes of Tentacool. Mercury rested on Lapras' back, getting a fitful night of sleep on her bumpy shell.
 
Lapras continued the journey through the night, only stopping for brief naps. She had never understood why humans slept for such long periods of time.
 
They made better time the next day. The ocean had calmed down, and by the time Mercury felt the need to rest again, he could see the walls of Sootopolis peeking over the southern horizon.
 
He spent another rough night on Lapras' back, dreaming of angry voices and urgent warnings, of great behemoths on the move. He woke before sunrise and spurred Lapras on once more. They traveled in silence for hours.
 
As the sun started to rise, lighting the sky, Mercury's heart sank. To the south was a tower of smoke and dust, hanging over Sootopolis city like a storm cloud. Nevertheless, they pressed on.
 
Several hours later, they passed a ship packed full of people. Moving to ride along side them for a ways, Mercury got the attention of some passengers and asked what had happened.
 
They informed him that the city was being partially evacuated. It had come under attack by a pokémon resembling Groudon, and was mostly ruins. The evacuation was still ongoing, and some people were refusing to leave.
 
Mercury thanked them for the information and continued his journey. He hoped that even with the city destroyed, being there would jog something in his memory and tell him why he had the list in his pocket.
 
They arrived in the early evening. Seeing the destruction, he had to wonder if he was responsible. Could he have stopped this, if he'd been here on time? If he'd been more careful going along Route 120, or if he had pushed on through that sandstorm in the desert, would Sootopolis still be standing?
 
He began to walk through the city, hoping to find something that would give him consolation, tell him that he was not the cause of all this. He pulled out the list as he walked, letting his feet go where they would. 
 
As he approached a large tree towards the north of town, a girl's voice spoke to him. "Excuse me, sir?"

Edited by Unown Mercury, Jul 08 2015 - 10:03 PM.

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#13 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Jul 12 2015 - 10:59 PM

-Polishing of Rust - Part 1-

 

It was a sunny day in Olivine City, as two siblings walked through the streets. Tension filled the air between them, however, as they were not exactly seeing eye to eye. There was more to the tension surrounding Aspen and Olivia Seaton as well, as they desperately were trying to find any evidence as to where their sister, Dahlia, was. The two exchanged some heated words as they walked, however, a sudden ringtone cut their conversation short.
 
Duh-duh-do-daaaaaaa Da-na-na-no-naaa duh-duh-duh dee-dee-dee Dee-do-duh-la-la-laaaaaaaaaaaa

"Wait....." Aspen muttered, taking out his ringing Pokegear and looking at it. "Zach already..?" the youngest Seaton asked in confusion, surprised that the call was even being made at that time.

Olivia turned around slowly, with a shocked expression for half a second before she quickly returned to her previous glare. ".........Who.......?" she asked Aspen, raising an eyebrow to hide her inward confusion. It couldn't possibly be.... It can't be true... Why would it be him? Why now?

"Zach Hikari." he replied, and blinked to still see his older sister's questioning stare. "....He's also looking for Dahlia. Did you not know this?" The trainer questioned in exasperation, before picking up the call. "What is it? Any leads that could go anywhere?"
 
"We think so, yeah, actually... Though it's kinda weird." Zach's voice could be heard on the other end, but he seemed to have a puzzled tone. "We found an odd piece of paper that implied Rustburo, but... I don't know, something seems weird about it. What about you? Where are you?"
 
"..........Hmm." Aspen muttered in response, furrowing his brow, ignoring the questions for a moment. "Sounds suspicious.... But we really don't have any choices left, it's been six months.... Let's look into it. We're in Olivine. We need to look - even if it's a trap, as long as it lets us find Dah-"

The eldest Seaton quickly grabbed away Aspen's Pokegear, and spoke into it sharply. "Who is this?" she questioned sternly, as her curiosity and confusion got the better of her. "Answer quickly."
 
There was a pause on the other end of the line. "Um... Zach...? Who are you?" The voice on the other end was obviously a bit confused, and definitely uncertain about who he was actually talking to at that moment.
 
"...You've been calling my brother, for whatever reason." she answered after a moment of silence. "An idiot like you probably doesn't even know who I am, but, Olivia. Olivia Seaton." the eldest Seaton said at last, with a testing tone to her voice. "Now where are you even, and what have you been doing?"
 
"Wait, Liv?!" The voice on the other end of the phone sounded utterly surprised and shocked, and there was a bunch of background chatter. One part of the background noise sounded like 'Olivine', but it couldn't be told exactly what was going on. "Hold on, hold on, one sec, gonna try to teleport..."
 
"Urgh...." Olivia growled, unamused that Zach was delaying things before she could continue berating him. "Could you do it faster?? It's been four years, you idiot, you've kept me waiting long enough, I'd say!!"

"Give me back my freaking Pokegear you-" Aspen said with an annoyed look on his face, before being pushed away by Olivia. He looked at his eldest sister with an indignant look, as he was annoyed at how she was reacting. "I was -talking- to Zach, wait your freaking turn before you tear him in two, alright?!"
 
At about that moment, however, two people and a Gallade appeared in the air above them, the teleportation being thrown off a bit by the tiredness of the Gallade in question. Even though the auburn haired man present was trying to scan the surroundings to figure out what was going on, and who was there, he ultimately failed, as the three began to fall to the ground.
 
The eldest Seaton saw the group appearing above their heads and reflexively tossed a Pokeball, releasing a Gardevoir. The Pokemon's eyes glowed purple and caught each and every one of them in a psychic grip, lowering them gently onto their feet, much to the relief of the ones who were falling.

"Hmmph." Olivia huffed with disdain. "This is the cavalry? Who I'm to expect will save my sister? How are you supposed to save Dahlia, if you can't even save yourselves?" she muttered in a skeptical tone, her eyes turning to the auburn-haired man present. Though she was surprised that he was actually there, she kept that hidden from the others.
 
Zach sighed in relief as he gently landed on the ground, but looked up slowly at the female voice. As he saw Olivia, his green eyes widened, and began to smile. "It is you... I finally found you!" He began to quickly move toward the red haired girl in question, his face brightening up a bit. However, he ignored Aspen for a moment, in his distraction.
 
"Yeah... You have." Olivia replied flatly to Zach's ecstatic greeting, a scowl on her face at his enthusiasm. "You must have not been looking very hard, though....." she muttered, crossing her arms and turning her gaze away from him soon after that. Does... he think he could just drop in and everything would be back to the way it was?
 
Zach's near-sprint to his old friend was abruptly stopped, as his look faltered. Something was wrong, it was pretty obvious right then and there. "... L-Liv...?" He seemed confused at the greeting, and looked over with a slight frown, unsure what was going on. "Wh-what do you mean?"
 
Olivia kept looking away from Zach, a scowl on her face even then. "...Don't call me that." was her only reply, as she refused to make eye contact with the confused auburn-haired trainer. Inwardly, she was confused as to why he was trying so hard to act like nothing had happened, and a bit conflicted over the matter.
 
Zach stared blankly in the direction of where Olivia was. This was not what he expected to see at all, even with the edge in her voice on the phone. "Wh-what...?" He asked, barely able to get out the question, as he felt as if this had to be some sort of bad joke. But yet, no matter what he wanted to say, he just couldn't find the words to do anything else.
 
"What took you so long to find anything, anyways?" Aspen questioned with a frown, as he tried to figure out how everything had worked out like this. "We could have used that hint six months ago, you know!" Despite his comment, however, he was at least relieved there seemed to be some sort of lead finally.
 
Ryan turned to Aspen in response, to try and help out there. "It was really weird... We like turned around for one second, and found this..." He handed the piece of paper in question to Aspen, and frowned. "I don't know why Zach didn't find anything, but from what Ray told me, he'd been trying his best..." He looked back over to Zach uncertainly, though, as he looked between him and Olivia.

Aspen frowned, and moved to speak, and frowned again further. "I.... Whatever. Let me see that hint." he asked, seeming on the edge at the possibility of a valid lead..... Anything that would get them closer to finding Dahlia would be welcomed. Anything...

Ryan nodded, and handed over the piece of paper. On it, the words 'Go to Rustburo City. There you will find more information. Oh, and Zach? You might want to pick up your pace. Fighting amongst your friends definitely isn't helping. -- AH' were written. "I agree about it sounding like a trap, but..."
 
"AH?" Aspen asked, narrowing his eyes at the note. "That has to be her kidnapper. No doubt about it. We're playing right into his hands, but...." the trainer sighed, and shook his head. "It means we'll find Dahlia, so we don't have much of a choice..... I just hope she's safe...."
 
Ryan nodded, but then glanced over at where Olivia and Zach were talking. "What happened?" Ryan asked Aspen quietly, a frown on his face, as he was just as much out of the loop as Zach was at that moment.
 
Aspen raised an eyebrow, then looked behind his shoulder to see Ryan looking at Olivia and Zach. "What, her? Don't ask me..." the hazel-eyed boy responded with a frown. "I haven't seen her for a long, long time, and Olivia's been acting strange like that from the moment Zach called my Pokegear, which she took." he explained, glaring at the lack of his Pokegear.

"Don't pretend that you still care." Olivia spat, rolling her eyes. "Four years, four years. And -now- you want to act like you wanted to see me again? Give me a break..." the red haired trainer muttered, still looking away from Zach. "You called my brother first before you even tried to remember who I was, am I supposed to think that's fair?? Huh??"
 
While Zach was still confused, a part of him was slightly relieved that the anger wasn't directed at what had happened in Unova. But yet, he was still just looking in her direction, as if, despite having finally found her, there were still miles between them. "I..." He tried to figure out how to even respond, and instead just turned his head to the ground.
 
Olivia turned around with a frown, seeing Zach look down at the ground in despair. "I waited, you know... Ever since I saw the news four years ago. You disappeared completely but... I hoped you would come back. I was stupid." she said, clenching a fist. "You obviously must have gone off, made new friends, fell in love maybe, and completely forgot everything about that stupid, naive little girl..." the eldest Seaton hissed. "That little girl is gone. 'Liv' doesn't exist anymore....."
 
Zach wanted to say something. To explain. But he just couldn't figure out how to. Maybe everyone had been right after all. Everything he did... it just... "I didn't..." His voice wavered, as he didn't even know how loud it actually had gotten.
 
Ryan frowned, and was about to respond when Olivia seemed to explain what had happened. "... What does she mean, 'four years'?" Ryan asked, a bit more quietly than before, as he had a bad feeling he knew why she was upset.
 
"Again, I kinda have no freaking clue, let me.... Wait." Aspen replied, remembering more details, as he frowned slightly. "Four years ago, I remember.... Wasn' there something on the news about.... Goldenrod?" he said, putting a finger to his chin. "And.... Hmm."
 
Ryan cursed in response to that. "I had a bad feeling about that..." He said, and was about to say something, when Olivia's voice caused him to look over in the direction of the other two.
 
"You didn't what? Wait, I know. You didn't bother to look, because you forgot all about me, running around with your shiny new friends, who would ever want to be with a stupid, boring girl like me?!?" Olivia's fist shook slightly at her side. She didn't even know exactly what had gotten into her, but she was fed up with how things had gone... and with Zach seeming like he had tried so hard, she was just pushed too far.
 
"I need to step in, now." He mumbled, as he took a step toward where the two were talking. "Enough." He winced slightly at Zach's state, and had a bad feeling this wasn't the first time Zach had been like that. "You two can have misunderstandings later. We need to get to Rustburo, and I can guess that Zach's never been close to there recently. What about you?" Ryan asked, as he gave Olivia a pointed look for more than one reason.
 
For a while, Olivia silently turned her glare to Ryan, taking some breaths to calm herself down a bit. Finally, she looked behind her at Amethyst. "....Am can get us to Rustburo, thankfully." she replied with . "We can go there, find Dahlia, and then I'll never have to see your faces again."
 
----
 
Amethyst stepped forward sadly while her trainer remained silent, and soon enough, began to warp everyone present. As they appeared once again, they found themselves in the middle of Rustburo City, this time not ending up several feet in the sky. "Here we are. Time to start looking.
 
Ryan seemed a little annoyed at Olivia's attitude since they met back up, but pushed that out of his mind and looked around when they reached Rustburo. "Right. Let's get moving. We're close now." He looked around with a frown, as he tried to figure out what direction they were looking in. He also caught a glance of Zach, who seemed to be looking around at the city half-heartedly.
 
Aspen frowned, as everyone was getting mad at each other at what had already happened, when they should be looking for Dahlia. After a bit of looking, Aspen spoke up, fed up with everyone working against one another. "That guy. He said I wasn't important, and neither was Dahlia...." he muttered, trying to make sense of it all. "So why? Why did he have to kidnap her, of all people, and drag us into whatever it is that he wants to accomplish?"
 
Ryan thought about it for a moment. "The people captured seem random. But if you think about it... They aren't." He ignored the looks he was probably being given, and sighed. "Dahlia, Jessica... Both had interactions with Zach." He bluntly said, and ignored the wince from Zach. "I'd bet he was trying to get Zach's attention for some reason. Why, though, I'm not sure..."
 
Aspen blinked and looked at Zach, and scowled. "Well I guess that narrows down the suspects to someone who knows Zach. What, did you tick off someone with the initials 'AH' back in middle school, or something?" he asked, sighing in frustration.
 
Zach didn't respond at all, and Ryan sighed, deciding to take initiative again. "I don't know anyone by that name, honestly. But... considering the timing... it could be possible that it's tied to six months ago." Ryan explained with a frown.
 
"Six months ago?" Aspen blinked, then thought for a moment. ".....I listened to the radio, before Dahlia got kidnapped... Wasn't there something in Unova....?"

Olivia didn't say anything even still, but listened on to the conversation. The redhead raised an eyebrow, as it seemed it could be Zach's fault Dahlia was kidnapped.... which only made her scowl further. Why was this happening in the first place?
 
Ryan sighed, and nodded. "Our father manipulated me into doing things I wish I hadn't. Then Zach got pulled in too, because it was all a set-up... and he got possessed." He sighed again, as he looked over at Zach, who was simply looking at the ground.

"..." Zach stayed quiet. They were all right, and it made so much sense, because it was what brought him to Vermillion. And yet, there was nothing he could do to help. Everything he did just backfired, didn't it? "Le...t's go..." He forced himself to say, as he hollowly took steps toward the south of Rustburo.
 
Olivia blinked, and looked at Zach confusedly. Could... Could that explain anything?? she thought, and looked down, scowling. Though.... Four years. But...... the mental debate continued, leaving Olivia highly conflicted, though she continued to have a glare on her face.
 
"......So the destruction on the radio... That was because of...." Aspen muttered, eyes widening in shock. "B-but...... That...... I......" the hazel-eyed trainer stuttered, completely unsure what to make of that revelation. "....What have we been missing for four years....??"
 
Ryan sighed, as he shared the guilt at that moment. "Our father was the reason that attack in Goldenrod happened. I wish everything could have gone better, but Zach was... forced to deal with me, and had to summon Kyurem, and just..." He sighed again. "Our father interfered, and Kyurem got the better of him."
 
Aspen gripped the side of his head, as everything was too confusing to listen to. "Rrrrgh, forget it, I never said anything!" he shouted in an outburst, looking around, as he hoped that might help anything make sense. "We're wasting time, gotta find Dahlia already if we're really that close....."
 
"So that's why things have been so wrong for four years? Your Dad's been ruining everything?" Olivia asked Ryan, glancing at Zach too, a slight frown at his state. "Did he make Zach completely forget about my existence too or what?"
 
Ryan gave Olivia a pointed look, Zach already out of earshot by then. "Maybe things aren't quite as you seem to think they are." He said, as he followed after Zach, and motioned to Aspen. It seemed Zach had accidentally found the right way to go, as the group could see a lake in the distance, but what was there was a different question.
 
"....Whatever you say, I guess....." Olivia replied to Ryan, rolling her eyes at the older Hikari. She followed anyways, still rolling her eyes. She had to admit though, as much as she outwardly looked at Zach with disdain, the eldest Seaton clung onto Ryan's words, that things were in fact, not as they seemed, and there could be more to Zach's reactions after all....

Aspen quickly caught up to Zach walking ahead, and blinked. "Wait, where are you going? That lake?" he asked, frowning, as he noticed the way he was headed. "That's where Dahlia is.... Right??"
 
"Hopefully." Zach said, still seeming a bit distant. As he looked at the old fashioned house across the lake, though, a rueful smile crossed his face. "Though... I have to admit... that's kinda the perfect disguise, knowing Dahlia..." He began to cross the bridge to the other side of the lake after that, Ryan following not far behind. However, as he reached the middle of the bridge, Zach yelled out, and gripped his head as he fell to his knees.
 
----
 
Olivia had been walking along the path to the bridge, looking down at the ground, barely registering a word said by those around her. She was snapped back to reality by a scream, and almost as if by instinct, rushed forward, pushing Aspen out of the way, and grabbed Zach from behind. She breathed heavily at the close call, only seconds later did she realize her actions and the implications behind them. ".....Y-you well enough to stand up again..?" she muttered, trying to maintain a straight face, though she failed somewhat.
 
Zach panted, as he closed his eyes for a couple minutes, while the headache passed. "Y-yeah..." He said as he opened his eyes again, and shakily tried to stand up again, keeping a hand to his face. Despite that, he was a bit confused by Olivia's concern, and turned his head slightly in a bit of puzzlement, until Ryan walked past.

 

"Come on, take it slow if you need to, though." Ryan said, a soft look on his face in comparison to earlier. Zach distractedly nodded in response, as he tried to take a shaky step forward.

 

The green-eyed girl bit her lip for a moment, then sighed. "....You know what, just.... Lemme handle this." she muttered, grabbing Zach's arm and wrapping it around her shoulder so he could support him. "I-I don't even know why I'm doing something like this for you, but..... Forget it." she sighed, walking forward slowly.
 
Zach seemed surprised, but a small smile crossed his face. Despite not saying anything, he followed alongside Olivia. He had to wonder why she was doing that after everything else happened, but he was glad for this reminder of how things once were.
 
Olivia meanwhile, kept walking while supporting Zach. She blinked, and looked down to the ground with an uncertain look on her face. .....Wh-why am I doing this for the 'friend' who didn't remember me for four years?? she thought, but immediately came into conflict with herself. ....B-but he didn't forget me....?? He still c-cared about me when he saw me again?? Just...
 
Aspen raised an eyebrow at Zach's pained expression, tapping Ryan on the shoulder. "....Mind telling me, uh, what's happening there? That really just came out of nowhere, and you've been explaining everything else lately, so....."
 
Ryan frowned as the other two began to pass him. "I don't know." He admitted quietly, as his face looked a bit grim. "I... think whoever took Dahlia knows we're here." He frowned, however, as there seemed to be nothing else happening...
 
Aspen frowned, and looked at the cottage. "Well, guess this is a trap after all." he sighed, shaking his head. "Whatever. As long as Dahlia's there and safe, anything her kidnapper could throw at us will be worth it." he declared walking forward determinedly.
 
Ryan watched, as Aspen walked forward, and opened the door. Zach, still mostly leaning against Olivia, reached for a Pokeball with his other hand. He wasn't certain what was going on, but he was just as uncertain about the attack's source as Ryan was, and wanted to be ready, just in case.
 
When Aspen opened the door, he found only one person in the cottage. A young, brown-haired girl wearing a sun hat, who looked up at the door opening, revealing her blue eyes.

"Dahlia....." Aspen said, blinking hard, his face lighting up in the process. "DAHLIA!!" he yelled in sheer relief, laughing and crying when he ran forward to hug his sister. "I-I'm so sorry it took six months to find you...."

"A-Aspen??" Dahlia said in surprise after her younger brother hugged her. She wrapped her arms around him as well, looking in shock at everyone standing around. "Olivia?? You too? A-and.... Who are...." the middle Seaton stuttered, not recognizing the black and auburn-haired trainers standing at the door.
 
Olivia finally smiled, for the first time since the day began, and breathed a sigh of relief. "You're safe.... Dahlia...." The redhead seemed absolutely relieved that her sister didn't seem to be harmed.
 
"Dahlia..." Zach sighed in relief, as everything seemed to have worked out. However, despite the reunion, Ryan still was troubled. How did everything make sense? Why was it so easy, when there had been an attack just moments ago? Was he wrong about what happened...?
 
Dahlia looked confusingly at both the trainers for a while, not recognizing them, before she had a sudden revelation. "Wait.... Zach? Ryan? You.... You're here??" The middle Seaton's surprise and shock, was soon replaced by horror. ".....No... N-no! Don't stay here. If you do, A-Ali... He's not going to let you get away!" she cried, pushing Aspen away. "G-get out of here! Please! I don't want any of you to be hurt....."
 
Zach seemed confused for all of a moment, before he was thrown backwards by an unseen force. As he was pushed across the dirt path, he flung out the Pokeball containing his Riolu, who bravely stood in defiance, looking at the doorway. However, as Luke watched, a Lucario with glowing blue eyes stepped out of the house, followed by a man in a blue cloak with a hood.

"So. You all came, despite it being an obvious trap... and brought just the two I wanted to see." The man stated, a frown on his hooded face. "I guess I have to thank you all for finally catching the hints."


Edited by An/A Blade, Jul 12 2015 - 11:10 PM.

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#14 Offline Chroma Champion JiMing

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Posted Jul 12 2015 - 11:05 PM

-Polishing of Rust - Part 2-

 

Aspen and Olivia both blinked, and were going to ask what was wrong, only for the latter to cry out, as she was flung out when Zach was, collapsing on top of him. "That rotten.... Urgh...." she groaned, getting off of the ground, looking to Amethyst, also releasing Shade from his Pokeball. "You two, fight this guy...." she ordered, with the Gardevoir firing a Will-O-Wisp and the Sneasel sending an Icy Wind. "And you, get up, idiot..." the eldest Seaton said to Zach, grabbing his hand and pulling him up.
 
Zach looked at Olivia in slight surprise, and seemed uncertain, as he was pulled to his feet. "I... I'm sorry... I... I didn't... forget..." He mumbled, his voice growing quieter as he spoke, and looked up. All this was because of him, in the end. "I'm... sorry... about everything..."
 
Aspen looked behind him in shock when Zach and Olivia were flung back, only to stare down the hooded man. "I don't care this was a trap! You took my sister for six months, and I'm not letting that continue!" he cried, releasing Flare and Jet from their Pokeballs.

"Alistair! A-Alistair...." Dahlia called out desperately. "I know why you're angry... But please!! No one has to hurt one another, just... Don't do this!!"
 
Ryan frowned, as he noticed the slightly older man send out a Scizor, a Magnezone, and a Dragonair in response. He had already been wondering why the man had looked familiar, and then... Alistair...? Wait... Ryan furrowed his brow for a moment. It couldn't be...

"I'm sorry Dahlia. But it's a bit late." Alistair stated, and narrowed his eyes at Zach and Olivia especially. "You all forgot about me. And about her. You never even considered her thoughts or feelings." Alistair shook his head and held out his hand, as his Pokemon launched off a multitude of attacks.
 
The Scizor launched forward with Bullet Punch, planning to attack the Gardevoir. The Magnezone launched off an Electro Ball toward the Braviary. The Dragonair attempted to use Dragon Rush on the Riolu and Quilava. Finally, the Lucario dodged the initial attacks, utilizing Extremespeed to her advantage, as she launched off an Aura Sphere to counter the Sneasel.
 
Amethyst kept her eyes on the Scizor, psychically grabbing two large rocks and hurling them in front of her to act as a sort of barrier between her and the Bullet Punch, only to teleport away before the Steel-Bug could get too close, her actions hidden by the rocks. "Over here." she replied, just as she fired off a Hypnosis.... Meanwhile, Shade used Agility to dodge the Aura Sphere, running past it, and leaped forward with an Ice Punch.
 
Flare curled into a Flame Wheel and dashed into the Dragonair's Dragon Rush fearlessly, despite seeming outmatched. Jet let out a mighty war cry and used Tailwind to avoid the Electro Ball, attempting to ram into the Magnezone with a Superpower.
 
The Magnezone was knocked away by the Superpower, but attempted to right itself, trying to wait until the Braviary was too close to avoid another attack, as the Magnezone fired off a Thunderbolt in return.

The Dragonair shrugged off the Flame Wheel, and was about to return fire with a Thunderbolt of his own, when he noticed his Scizor friend be put to sleep, and Lucario about to be hit by an Ice Punch. The Dragonair launched off a Thunderbolt at his two opponents quickly, even as the Riolu attempted a Bullet Punch that didn't work well too, hoping that he could keep them preoccupied.

Lucario frowned, as she noticed the fight going badly for the others, and tried to dodge Shade, but winced, as her left arm was frozen over slightly by the Ice Punch. In return, she attempted to launch off a Close Combat, to try and rid the fight of this pest.
 
Olivia was surprised at Zach's apology, as he said he had never forgotten her. He..... Still remembered... Someone like me?? She looked down for a moment, but then back up, shaking her head. "Don't waste time being sorry. Help me fight this... Alistair." she replied, frowning, as she looked toward the cloaked man in confusion. "That.... Why is that name familiar...?" she muttered, returning Alistair's glare, as her eyes seemed to burn in anger. "First of all, explain yourself. I'm not ever forgiving you for kidnapping Dahlia, but you seem to think you're justified...."

Aspen frowned, and scowled at the cloaked man. "What are you talking about? I'm pretty sure I've -never- known anyone named Alistair for my entire life. What is going on??" he demanded, slowly becoming angrier. "I don't appreciate you kidnapping my sister over something I don't even have a clue about!!"

Dahlia opened and closed her mouth, and looked down sadly. "A-Alistair... If you didn't try to attack them.... They would show how much they care." she said with a conflicted look on her face. "Please, stop.... It doesn't have to be this way, why do you need revenge?? Why do you have to fight??"

"It's too late, Dahlia, can't you see that...? The only way they can remember is by this." Alistair said quietly, and unhooked one side of his cloak, and gripped it with his left hand. "You want answers?" He asked louder, as Ryan frowned. "Then here's some!" The man tossed the cloak to the side, revealing his hair and face in the process. "There. None of you probably remember me." Ryan's eyes widened, as while he was older...
 
"Alistair... Hakuda...?" Ryan asked, which prompted a rueful look from the man in question. "I... But... how did you...?" He seemed utterly shocked that Alistair had survived, but the man was focused on Olivia.

"You." Alistair stated finally, as he pointed out a finger at Olivia. "You didn't care at all. Neither about me, or about Dahlia. What kind of a sister leaves, without even returning to say hi once in a while? Who tears up their family, and leaves some people to be upset over it?"

"I think the same can be said to you." Ryan interrupted coldly, as he gave Alistair a piercing look. "Can you justify 14 years of leaving us to think you were dead?"
 
----
 
Olivia listened to Alistair's accusations, becoming angrier with every word spoken. "You have no right to say anything about how I cared for Dahlia!" she hissed, furious at the accusations. "I left my family because after I saw the news, I was broken and crying! Mom, Dad, Dahlia... They all tried to help. But nothing worked, and all they did was waste their time..." she said, looking down for a moment. "So I had to help myself! I left for Rocket so they could stop worrying about me helping me and do things that really mattered.... I left to help myself, yes, but it was my family that really mattered!"
 
"You know this maniac??" Aspen said in disbelief to Ryan, and frowned. "Fourteen years.... That's as old as I am!" he exclaimed, glaring at the cloaked trainer. "So let me get this straight... You're mad, because we all 'forgot' you.... But I am VERY certain we have never met, because I was in freaking diapers!" the youngest Seaton pointed out, clenching his fist. "Well?? What else do you have against me, because that's not a valid reason at all!"
 
"You're wrong...." Dahlia muttered, shaking her head. "There's no situation where the only solution is to fight! I know, if you had returned sooner, they would have been overjoyed, welcomed you with wide arms!" she said, tearing up with a distressed look on her face. "Why.... Fighting just leads to people hurting one another...."
 
Alistair looked at Olivia at that with narrowed eyes for a moment, and turned his gaze to Aspen. "It doesn't concern you." He stated, and then looked back to Olivia. "Are you certain about that? How do you think Dahlia felt about you leaving like that?" He asked, ignoring Dahlia's question. She was wrong, there was no way he could've returned. He had already been told that.

But yet, Ryan still persisted. "Dahlia's asking a good question. Why couldn't you return?" He had a calm outlook, and yet, a disapproving look on his face. "Were you ashamed? Did you not know how long Jessie was looking for yo-"

"I was told I couldn't, and I obviously believed it, because who ever reacts good to people who are supposedly dead?!" Alistair asked with a pained tone. "... And I was proven, because everyone forgot me. I was only welcomed with open arms by my adoptive parents here." He stated, as he shook his head, knowing it to be too far gone for anything but fighting now.
 
Olivia returned Alistair's disdainful gaze, and pointed at him. "I'm certain that it only hurt me more to see Dahlia run herself ragged always worrying about me and only thinking about more ways to help me, when noting was working!" she countered. "I never wanted to hurt her, but she was already hurting herself! And what, do you mean to tell me kidnapping Dahlia was to help??  Even though all it did was separate her more from her family??"  

"I don't know about you, but it sounds like everyone really respected and cared about you!" Aspen interjected, annoyed at the approach Alistair was taking. "Had you returned, they probably would have been happy beyond belief!"
 
Flare frowned while dodging the Thunderbolt, and jumped forward at the Dragonair, spewing a SmokeScreen directly at the serpent-dragon's face. The Brave Quilava could have attempted a Flamethrower, yes, but against a stronger opponent, the best strategy was to confuse and disorient them. Jet let out an indignant squawk at the super effective strike, but used the pain to grab the enemy Magnezone in his claws, and head high up to prepare a brutal Sky Drop.

Amethyst looked at the sleeping Scizor and so simply after a quick Dream Eater, grabbed the Scizor in a psychic grip, tossing it at the Dragonair. Meanwhile, Shade didn't see the Close Combat coming, and was quickly knocked out of the fight, though a Will-O-Wisp came at the Lucario's direction not long after.

The Magnezone was caught off guard by the sudden Sky Drop, and was sent crashing to the ground, not totally out, but unable to do anything. The Quilava's smokescreen succeeded in disorientating the Dragonair, however, without any damage dealt, he was still in fighting condition... Until the Scizor was slammed into him.
 
Meanwhile, the Lucario got hit by the surprise Will-O-Wisp. She turned to Amethyst's direction, and prepared an Aura Sphere quickly in response, firing it off not long after.

Flare saw his chance once the Scizor crashed into Dragonair, with an opponent he could actually deal heavy damage to. The Quilava curled up into a Flame Wheel and head straight for the steel-bug. Jet on the other hand, saw the disoriented Magnezone as an opportunity for another Superpower, and so attacked it once more.

Amethyst set up a psychic barrier to block against the Aura Sphere, though the attack shattered it, She picked up rocks telekinetically and hurled them at the Lucario, trying to see what her opponent would do next.
 
The Scizor was knocked out by the Flame Wheel, unable to actually dodge the attack, being already asleep. The Magnezone, on the other hand, could not move even if it wanted to. The Lucaro noticed, and inhaled sharply, as she dropped the fight with Amethyst for the moment, and zipped over in front of the Braviary, taking the attack with her body, as she was knocked out.
 
"Then what about Dahlia? Let's hear what she has to say." Alistair stated, as he once again ignored Aspen for the moment, seeing the battle going very badly. However, he frowned slightly, as while he doubted what the boy said... He still had to wonder if maybe he had been wrong all along.
 
----
 
"Alistair..." Dahlia replied, as the attention shifted to her. "I-I won't say everyone dealt with Olivia leaving the best, but I understand why she did..... We exhausted ourselves trying to help, and it hurt Olivia to see that, added with her pain already..." the middle Seaton explained with a sigh. "Alistair.... I-it did hurt. But.... You have to look at the intentions behind actions! Sometimes people end up unintentionally hurting others, but just because their actions hurt, that doesn't make them into a bad person! Your family, friends, they -wanted- to see you again! But everyone has a life to lead... Please, you can't keep blaming them for trying to move on! It hurts, I know... But they still loved you, and I know they didn't forget! They remembered you as a great person, so please.... Just... Stop!!" she pleaded, breaking out into sobs. "This pain, it doesn't have to continue, the fighting was never needed, please.... Be the Alistair they remembered...."

Flare saw only Dragonair remained, and breathed a Flamethrower at it. Amethyst noticed as well, and took several more rocks, hurtling them in the direction of the serpentine dragon, hoping to end this fight once and for all, even though that would leave the issue of Alistair himself....
 
Alistair frowned, as he paused and looked at Dahlia in slight confusion, a conflict on his face, as he considered everything that everyone had said. "I... I don't be-" He started to say, before getting cut off.

"You're a fool, Alistair." Ryan said sharply, as he stepped forward again. Behind him, the Dragonair finally fell, unable to take the multiple attacks. "Who told you what you heard? Because I know for a fact they were lying. Jessie never gave up on you, no matter what. Heck, she even still believed you were alive! I might have lost track of those memories for a bit... But I lost a lot more than that, then." Ryan stated, which caused Alistair to look over in surprise.

"No... that can't be right, how could it? He told me everyone had given up... Even as he helped me back to health, he said it was for the best, and seemed genuinely concerned..." Alistair said, unable to process this turn of events in his head. How could what he had seen be wrong? But yet... He recalled some of the looks he had seen on his sister's face, and the times he had nearly been caught... and how Jessica had seemed so happy afterward.

"... It was Gerald, wasn't it? He told you all that, didn't he?" Ryan asked quietly, as Alistair looked up in surprise, torn from his thoughts. Alistair furrowed his brow for a moment with a nod, as he registered what Ryan had said. A look of understanding and horror then dawned on his face shortly after, as he realized the implications of what Ryan was trying to point out. The one who had caused the issues, the wanted criminal...
 
"Gerald...?" Olivia muttered in confusion, as she turned to Zach. "Who the heck is that??" She couldn't exactly put her finger on it, but she seemed to almost recognize this name, but couldn't figure out why.

"Seconded." Aspen interjected, looking at Ryan with a skeptical frown. "That name sounds familiar, more familiar than Alistair, but..... There's a bigger picture here, isn't there?" After everything he had heard that day, he was leaning toward that more and more as time went on.

Dahlia sobbed for a bit longer, before wiping her eyes, breathing heavily. The fighting had stopped, and it seemed everyone was at last willing to communicate with one another.... "Please, just.... Talk..." she pleaded quietly, looking at everyone present.
 
"My dad... cause of everything that's gone wrong for me..." Zach said quietly, as he sighed. He looked over to Alistair in a confused manner. He had been young when everything had happened, but still recalled the incident where he had... "... Though I probably have to share the blame here..."

Ryan looked over with a slightly annoyed look at Zach for constantly blaming himself, but frowned with a nod. "Yeah, he's our dad. He must've found Alistair. To explain a bit, between Jessie, Zach, and I... we kinda caused a cave in that made us think Alistair was dead. Turns out, Gerald was manipulating everyone for longer than we thought." He noticed Alistair sink to his knees, as the implications of who he had listened to finally sunk in.

"... I... I didn't want..." Alistair sighed. "I didn't mean to have Dahlia stay here for so long, I'll be honest... I kept leaving clues, but..." He scratched his head in awkwardness for a moment, but then gave up on that. "I realize now... I was wrong to think what I did in the first place, now that everything's actually sunk in a bit. I... I didn't realize Gerald was bad, though..." He sighed again, as he recalled the Pokemon present on his side.
 
"Your.... Dad?" Olivia said, blinking afterwards. "You mean the guy you said was never around? And the reason why is he's a manipulative psycho...." she muttered, shaking her head, looking at Alistair. "You might have been manipulated, but don't go looking for forgiveness just yet. You kidnapped my sister for six months, and that's something I can't forgive."

"The only thing stopping me from punching you right now is how you didn't hurt Dahlia." Aspen replied, glaring angrily at the Hakuda. "I don't want to see your face for a long, long time, you hear me? Don't you -ever- think about attacking my family again....."

Dahlia looked down sadly, as though the fighting had stopped, there was still animosity around.... She bit her lip, and looked around everyone present. "Well.... I.... I better get going, then...." she said quietly, walking to the direction of Zach, Ryan, and her siblings.
 
Alistair stayed quiet, and nodded, as he could understand everything, and why they were reacting as they did. "I..." Uncertainly, he rolled three Pokeballs toward Zach, Aspen and Dahlia, and scratched his head. "I guess it's... time for me to go, too..."

Ryan looked over with a frown, and was surprised, as he had to quickly catch a flying piece of paper. He unfolded the piece of paper, which seemed to be a number. However, as he looked up again, Alistair sent out his Magnezone again. As he climbed onto the Pokemon, Alistair gave a sad look back. "Don't disappear for 14 years again." Ryan gave Alistair a piercing look, and the man looked away guiltily, as the Magnezone levitated into the air, and began to fly off into the distance.
 
----
 
Aspen and Dahlia blinked, and picked up the Pokeballs rolled to them. Then each of the Seaton siblings watched as Alistair hovered away on his Magnezone, until he was out of sight. "It's time to head back home..." Aspen said at last, turning away from the spot the Hakuda once stood. He turned to Dahlia, and hugged her as tightly as she usually hugged everyone else, very glad that she was alright. "I'm glad you're safe....."
 
Ryan thought for a moment as everything began to settle down again.. "I'll head off on my own. Got a few things to do. Ciao." He waved to the others, already walking toward the nearby woods. He began to get lost in thought, knowing he had to find something...

"Hey... Zach." Olivia said to the auburn-haired trainer with a slightly nervous look on her face. "Where are you gonna go? If you want, you could.... Go back to Olivine, with the rest of us." She suggested hesitantly, shrugging afterwards. "If you didn't really have any plans otherwise, that is..." The uncertain mumbling managed to still make it to Zach because of their proximity to each other, but was still quieter than the rest.
 
Zach picked up the Pokeball that had rolled to him, and looked over to Olivia in slight confusion. "Well... I don't want to interfere with anything, so I was gonna go get my team healed, and then..." He scratched his head after that. "I honestly don't know where I'd go..." He admitted, but still seemed a bit awkward. While he didn't mind heading with the others, he just couldn't tell if they would mind or not - especially after earlier.
 
"Come back with us, then." Dahlia said, smiling slightly in response to Zach. "Mom and Dad would love to see you again after all these years, and I know they wouldn't mind you staying over for at least a little bit...." she offered, before looking to where Ryan had decided to walk to, slightly confused about what he'd want in the Petalburg Woods...

Aspen looked to Zach for a brief moment before focusing back on Dahlia, but spoke anyways. "....Yeah. Dahlia's right. You can come back with us." he said distractedly, as he tried to focus on everything that was good right there. "Mom and Dad would really wanna catch up, after all...."
 
Zach seemed surprised at the offers from the other two, but smiled ever so slightly. "Thank you... I'd be glad to accept." He closed his eyes, admittedly glad that he could be around people who didn't want to totally bite his head off about what happened six months prior.

As her siblings spoke, Olivia looked down at the ground, slightly worried about Zach's initial reaction. However, she seemed surprised when he accepted after the reassurance that it wouldn't be an intrusion, and took a chance. She tapped the remaining Hikari on the shoulder, as she nervously tried to figure out how to say this. "....A-also, Zach?" she started to say, as she kept her eyes trained on the ground.
 
Zach opened his eyes and looked over to Olivia in curiosity, as she tapped him on the shoulder. "Yeah?" He wasn't sure what she had wanted, but he noticed a slight change in her mood since they had found Dahlia.
 
The eldest Seaton looked up, with a softer look on her face while looking at her old friend. "...I-if you want to, you can.... C-call me 'Liv'...." she muttered quietly, blinking a bit afterwards, as she seemed a bit confused as to Zach's thoughts once more.
 
Zach seemed a bit caught off guard after everything the girl had said earlier, but smiled slightly, as he closed his eyes once more. "Alright, Liv..." He said, as he looked over, as he figured that had been a good sign. He wondered slightly if she had been stressed earlier, though still knew it was mostly his fault.
 
Olivia's face appeared to redden very slightly, though she quickly looked down again, away from Zach's gaze should he have opened his eyes again. "....I-I'll get Am to get us all home...." she said awkwardly, calling over her Gardevoir. While turned away from the group, however, she let a happy smile cross her face.

"I didn't get a chance to say this Zach, but... It's great to see you again." Dahlia said warmly to him, smiling widely, as she eyed the reactions of the other two. "Thank you for helping everyone look for me."

"Yeah.... Thanks for helping me out." offered the youngest Seaton, as he looked over to Zach for a moment with a brief look of sincere thanks. "But it's about time to head home finally, and maybe things'll return to normal...." Aspen sighed slightly, as he scratched his head in slight confusion.
 
Zach opened his eyes as Olivia looked away. He thought the reaction Olivia had just given seemed familiar, but focused on the other two, as he smiled at them. "You're welcome..." He said, and nodded as Aspen mentioned about things returning to normal. "Normal... I'd like that, so, so much..."
 
"....You can explain what's happened to you more when we get home." Aspen replied, looking at his oldest sister, as he had a feeling they needed to talk things out, even still. "Maybe she could, too....."

"Once again, thank you for your help." Dahlia interrupted, extending her hand to Zach. "If there's any way I could pay you back... Let me know."

Amethyst walked over to the remaining group, and looked around. "Everyone ready to head back?" she asked, as she gave a small smile, glad that everyone was back safe and sound, and that things were going better.
 
Zach nodded, as he shook Dahlia's hand, and chuckled slightly. "You don't need to pay me back, I just wanted to help..." He scratched his head slightly in response, but nodded to Amethyst. "Yeah... I think we are."
 
The Gardevoir nodded in response. "Alright then.... To Olivine." Amethyst said, as everyone gathered closer. Aspen held Dahlia's hand, while Olivia stood closely behind Zach. In a quick flash of purple light, the group disappeared from Rustburo, and arrived back in Olivine. The sudden reappearance of the sea breeze surprised Zach slightly, however, he smiled, as he looked to the sky for a moment, having an oddly hopeful feeling now.


Edited by Toph Beifong, Jul 12 2015 - 11:45 PM.

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#15 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Oct 19 2015 - 08:14 PM

Nemesis Part 1

 

The light was blinding for a moment; he'd spent so long locked away in the darkness, and he embraced the shadows. Light was almost a foreign concept to him.  It took him a few moments to place just where the light was coming from.
 
A crack in the wall of his prison, a small ray of hope for him. He went over and peered out, ignoring the chains that dragged at his wrists and ankles. Outside, the landscape was... decimated. Something big had happened, and he had been too isolated to notice or care. What had once been a peaceful plain had withered and turned black. Sunshine had vanished, replaced by clouds that looked like pitch.
 
Something had changed drastically. No doubt, it was the cause behind this crack in the wall. If the wall was weakening, maybe he could break his way out. He looked down at the chains, glowing teal and blinding silver in his vision. He focused his will towards them, sending streaks of bruise-like purple and the maroon of old blood through them.
 
The chains shattered, and he laughed. Then, remembering where he was, he went silent. The Enemy could be out there, still. As he watched, in fact, the figure appeared, outlined against the dim glow behind the clouds. Doors sprang into existence, and the Enemy entered one, only to reappear instantly, glowing a faint silver.
 
What had happened, here? The doors were familiar, as was the figure in the clearing. Was the Enemy trying a new form of meditation or--
 
No. He was trying to access his memories. That was why the doors were made in the first place. They accessed the Memory Palace that he had helped the Enemy build. His foe seemed to be having trouble, however. He entered the same door thrice over before vanishing, leaving the doors he had entered wide open.
 
"Idiot," he scoffed. "That was lesson one we learned. Leave the doors open, and anyone can get to them..." He grinned.
 
Anyone could get to them. He focused, and the purple and red shattered the wall of his prison. He walked purposefully towards the doors, peeking into each one without placing himself inside. He did not belong in those, the earliest memories.
 
Instead, he conjured a new door, one that shone like new. Forcing it open revealed that his Enemy had woken up lost and confused, and then went to pursue a goal, one that only He knew.
 
A curse passed his lips, and he slammed the door closed, sending it back to where the doors were supposed to go. Well, he would find out soon enough. He started walking across the plain.
 
A week of idle thoughts and boredom, and then he found himself stumbling as a vision flashed across the sky. A city, a man talking. He knew the scene. Vermilion; they had been discussing future plans with the annalist. Saving people, milking them for money. It was his dream.
 
There was another sensation, this one of sound. "...Floaroma Town..." He exerted his will on the plane around him. Rather than a door, flowers sprang up. Each of them was coated in blood. That was his fondest memory of that accursed little town, anyways.
 
Finally, he made it to his destination. A small pond, set in a ring of trees. The water was black and tar-like, but that was just how he liked it. He knelt down and brushed his fingers across the surface. The ripples carried over the water, revealing an image. A darkened building, and a large fight.
 
He felt the Enemy reaching for instincts, trying to prevail despite being outnumbered. With a grin, he slipped into the pond, closing his eyes. The fight went pretty shortly after that, and he conjured another memory for the Enemy.
 
And then he sat back to watch, confident that the Enemy would call on him for what came next. The Enemy spoke to some girl, telling her to leave and take 'Blazer.' Odd. The Enemy- the boy, really. He wasn't worthy of being a foe now - did not want her to see him brutalize their assailant.
 

 

Ah, well. He would have to retrain his host, teach him that growing close was a mistake. For now... He felt the boy reaching out again, and he answered the call. "You know," he said, taking full control for the first time in who knew how long, "last time I did this, I had a knife..."

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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#16 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Nov 15 2015 - 10:59 PM

-==Fade to Grey - Part 1==-

My eyes snapped open, as I groggily looked up. I was back in a classroom... but how...? I gripped my head slightly, as I tried to figure out what was going on. "Are you paying attention now, Hikari? Then we'll continue." The teacher, Mrs. Moriellis, was drawing something on the chalkboard. But what? It was something about statuses, I thought. But I just couldn't focus on what was there. I glanced around the classroom a bit more, to try and get an idea of what was going on. I saw Lana, Sally and Iris sitting next to each other, probably gossiping as usual. Kim sat closer to the teacher, and seemed focused on everything. Harvey was looking out the window sadly, as usual. Preston and Norrin were talking with each other, as Joey fiddled with a Pokeball on his desk.

But something seemed wrong... I glanced over at an empty seat. "Where... is Olivia...?" I asked Lana and the others curiously, and they looked back at me with a frown. They replied that they had seen her head off to the bathroom a little while ago, but something still seemed like it was too weird. I glanced back, but the seat was gone totally. "What... happened to that table?" I asked, as I looked around at the others. But no-one seemed to hear me. I stood up, and took a step forward, and felt a wave of dizziness wash over me.

"Something wrong?" The voice sounded vaguely familiar, as if from a dream, but as I looked over at the girl the voice belonged to, I just could not recognize her. She seemed to notice my confusion and chuckled quietly. "Well, don't worry. It's not like this will be bad. You'll get over it... likely." She said with a hint of a smirk, and walked off toward the classroom's exit. I watched her go with a confused look, and gripped my head again. Why was it hurting so much? I gripped my nose, and visibly winced, as I noticed blood on my hand afterward, and covered it. I walked up to the teacher's desk to grab a tissue, and tried to talk to the others.

No-one would react to my presence. I tried to ask Lana about the mysterious girl, but it was like she ignored me. Harvey was just as despondent, and I just had a bad feeling about why. I tried to catch his attention, but nothing worked. I stepped back, and frowned, as I headed to see what Joey would say. "Uh, hi... How's it going...?" I asked, but got no response. I was starting to feel creeped out by what was going on, and looked around to see what the others would do; but they just kept going about their normal business. Hoping the rest of the school wasn't as odd and creepy, I moved to go out of the classroom finally.

As I approached the door, however, I felt a sudden unnerving feeling, and turned around on my own. "Who... gave you permission to leave?" A chill ran down my spine, as I noticed who was now sitting in the teacher's seat. Silver hair, a purple cloak... my dad... "Well. Get over here." He scowled, and I felt my body move toward him, despite wanting to run far away; so far that he couldn't ever get close to me again. Why couldn't I run...? Why was I walking right into his trap...? "Why are you so pathetic? Weak and pathetic, that's all you are." The words struck me, and I put my head down. Even now, though, something just seemed wrong about what was going on. Why was it like this?

"I'm sorry. I'm a worthless child, who deserves nothing good, and especially not someone to like me." ... What...? I wouldn't say that... why was my voice betraying me as well? It was like it was someone else talking, but using my voice. The monster standing in front of me seemed pleased, however. He started talking on and on some more, about how he should teach me to not be so weak, and how Unova should pay. And as soon as it started, he vanished. I gripped my head, back in control of my body, and uneasily glanced around. Something was messed up about this. What was going on? Why was everything changing around me? "I'm just a poor little baby. Who can't live right." I froze, and slowly looked around again. But I heard a voice, clear as day, and it sounded like the one that was mimicking me when I was talking with that monster...

----

I had to get out of there. I dashed toward the door, and opened it. I was forced to cover my eyes for a brief moment, as a flash of light emanated from beyond the door. I was outside in the hallway, but something seemed weird. No-one was there; not a single person. If this was the middle of the week, like the filled classroom suggested, that shouldn't have been possible. I walked further into the hallway, and glanced around nervously. I tried to use one of the drinking fountains nearby, but it wouldn't work. I tried the doors, but they all seemed to be locked. This just seemed so wrong. Why were things going like this? Why?

I must have walked through that hall for hours, it felt like. I had lost track of any sense of time a long while before then, but the stopped clocks on the walls had pretty much solidified that there was something seriously wrong about the place I was in. Nothing was working. I felt like I was just trapped in a place where everything was just messed up. Finally, I noticed a door that was left ajar. Oddly enough, I seemed to recall having tried that door at one point... Cautiously, and more than a little freaked out by everything, I moved forward through the door.

I frowned in confusion, and looked back through the door, but only saw the street, trees, and grass behind me. This couldn't be possible. I looked forward, and noticed it was Olivia's house. How could I have gotten here from the school? Barring the obvious, it was a full city away... I was a little unnerved by what happened, but slowly stepped forward, as I looked around. Everything seemed sort of normal... except odd differences. A painting that was there when it wasn't before; a picture that had people missing; a vase that was out of place... I'm not sure what was going on, but I slowly headed up the stairs. I don't know what I expected to find, but everything still seemed normal. I had the urge to check Olivia's room from the start, but put that off, as I had a feeling that wouldn't end well.

First, I checked Aspen's room, but the door was locked. Then, I checked Dahlia's room. At first it didn't open, but as I moved to turn away, I heard a click, and the door pushed open as if a gust of wind blew it ever so slightly. Putting my worries out of the way, I pushed the door open the rest of the way, and headed inside. Things seemed a little more off, and I could have sworn minor details kept changing even as I looked at them, but on the wall above the bed, I saw something that creeped me out. "This is your fault." I took a step back, as if the words were directed right to me. But I didn't know why.

I turned around, and walked back out of Dahlia's room, but as I was walking toward Olivia's room again, a voice made me pause. "Are you sure you want to keep going? Do you even remember what you were doing before? Maybe... you might not like what you find." I turned around, and frowned as the mysterious girl from earlier smiled smugly at me. "You want to know who I am. Well that's not important right now. You're determined. You want to solve this mystery. Well go right ahead... But you won't like it." She said with a casual shrug, and promptly vanished right before my eyes. That was the second time that had happened, but it made me all the more interested to find out just what in the world was going on here.

I paused at the door to Olivia's room. What even would await me behind the door? For a moment, I got the urge to look over the railing down to the floor below; but despite the creepy feeling that something was there, it was perfectly normal. I glanced back at the door, and froze again. There was a '2' on the door now. I wasn't sure what was with that, but there were no numbers before. Despite that, I had a feeling that the only way to get any answers, would be to press on ahead. So in spite on my fears of what would be behind the door, I grabbed the handle, and pushed it open.


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#17 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Nov 16 2015 - 11:28 AM

-==Fade to Grey - Part 2==-

I'm not quite sure what I expected when I walked through the door, but it wasn't that. It felt like two points in time and space were overlapping. I gripped my head, and barely avoided falling to my knees, as I tried and failed to process what I was seeing. The place was beginning to stabilize better, and I held onto the doorframe, as I glanced around. Parts of Olivia's room were still present, however, I could distinctly tell that I was back in the hallway from before. It made no sense... Why was I in my old school? And who was that girl? I just couldn't pull myself together enough to think. I tried to walk down the hall, but everything from Olivia's room just seemed to fade in and out of existence.

I glanced at the walls as I walked, and saw more graffiti on the walls; things that called me out in different ways, and things that just didn't make sense. I wondered why there were so many things on the walls, but tried desperately to keep a grip on whatever was happening. It just seemed so unreal, but yet everything felt like it was happening right then. I breathed heavily from the pain, and leaned against the wall. I needed a break desperately. I slid down the wall, trying to keep myself sane. Why was this happening to me...? I just didn't understand it.

"Is this where you give up? Humph, I don't believe that." The odd voice I heard while talking to my monster of a father returned. I glanced around uncertainly, but the hall was as empty as it had been before. I pushed myself back to my feet. Whatever was going on here, I didn't want to be involved with. "There you go... But will you just keep running? Hah... Likely." The taunting was getting to be grating, and I scowled amidst my headache. I came to another door, and grabbed the handle. I wasn't sure what would be past it, but I just pushed the door open, and walked through it.

I blinked in confusion, and looked around. It was the same hallway, but now, in contrast to the last two hallways, things were working... on their own. I slowly walked forward, and examined the water fountain in particular. It was definitely working on its own, but I couldn't understand why. As I looked around more, I noticed it wasn't just that; lockers were opening and closing, and so were doors to the office. However, as I became aware of that, I could hear an ever present buzzing, probably coming from the PA system. I covered my ears, though it didn't really help that much, and walked through the hallways more.

I wasn't sure what I was looking for. What with my being slowly driven crazy, I don't even think I had anything in mind, either, but I grabbed the door handle of a storage closet, and walked inside. As soon as I closed the door, I let out a sigh, and slid down the door. The buzzing was gone, and I was able to think clearly again for the first time in what felt like hours. I tried to take the moment to puzzle over what was going on, but nothing at all seemed to make sense. With a sigh, I stood up. I knew if I was going to figure things out, I wouldn't be able to stay in a closet of all things, as brooms wouldn't help me solve this mystery. So I opened the door with a wince at the return of the buzzing noise, and began to try and find the next doorway, that might actually lead to somewhere important.

As I searched, however, I noticed oddities popping up again. I don't know what was causing them, but it seemed like people were vaguely starting to return; but were still... like mist. Like they were there, but only their ghosts or so. I shuddered slightly, and hurried down the hall further. However, I was stopped in my tracks, as I noticed that the hall ended abruptly in a dead end. I turned around to go back a little ways, but found that blocked as well. Creeped out once again, I turned around, and found that wall was now gone. I didn't waste time in running off, and then stopped, as I noticed a glow of light underneath one of the door, and promptly entered it.

----

I looked around the cave in confusion. This was the same cave where Alistair had gone missing... Why was I back here? I was starting to wonder what the purpose of all this was, but began to walk through the cave. First, I headed to where I had chased Jessie all those many years ago. However, as I got closer to where the other entrance was, I noticed it was blocked off. Something seemed fuzzy about it, however, and I tried to push past the rocks, but failed to get anywhere. I stared at the rocks for a few moments, as I tried to figure out why they seemed fuzzier than the rest of the environment; however, I had no such luck.

With a sigh, I turned around, and started to head back to the crossroads. Nothing in the place made any sense at all. It seemed to rearrange itself every few minutes. By the time I reached where I thought the crossroads should be, it became quite clear that I was lost. I freaked out slightly, as I had no clue why things were the way they were. This can't be right... I know the cave like the back of my hand; I kept exploring it when we visited Azalea. So why can't I remember it? I tried to stay calm through my panic, and tried to look for anything that looked familiar; but nothing did.

I continued to wander the cave for what seemed like hours, but nothing seemed to work. I forcefully leaned against the rock wall, and took a few deep breaths to try and not lose myself in the fear. However, as seemed to be typical, I heard laughter behind me, and tiredly looked over. I saw the odd girl, who seemed to be shaking her head. "Oh my my my... Are you having trouble? What a shame. Maybe your memories are lying to you. Wouldn't that be something? What might you have done, taken the wrong turn somewhere? Or started off on the wrong path? Think about how you might fix this." She seemed mocking at first, but I noticed she looked a little... annoyed, almost. Maybe even scared...?

I tried to start back on the path, but nothing still seemed to work. I kept walking, but simply returned to the rocks. I was beginning to lose hope, as I just didn't know how to get back. I focused on the fuzzy rocks, and tried to figure out what was going on with them. I moved to touch them, however, as I did, I got a sudden flash, as if the cave had changed. The rocks were still there, but I had the feeling as if there was more importance to them than just blocking the way. I investigated them for a few more minutes, but then just sighed, and headed back the way I came.

I was shocked, however, as the path led back the way I thought it should. I cautiously followed the path, but it led the way I felt it should. However, instead of taking the exit, which knowing the rest of the situation would lead to some obscure place, I decided to keep going further. My body felt heavier, as if I was making a bad choice, but I refused to give up. I kept walking to the place where Alistair had last been seen. With a frown, I thought that the cave was almost... deteriorating in a way, but I refused to let this be where I fell. I began... to he... ad down... the. . . stairs. . . . .

I gripped my head after the even more painful headache, as I looked up slowly. The bottom floor of the cave looked... fragmented. Parts of the floor were missing, and covered in just an empty blackness, and it just seemed totally re-arranged. I even though I could hear the creepy voice again, saying something about "Making a mistake". But at the far side of the room, I could see a door like the one in Olivia's house... I don't know whether I should have, but I walked toward it. I saw a '3' on this door, even as I tried to avoid the broken emptiness of the floors and walls. I kept a hand on my head, even though it didn't really help all that much. I don't know how I managed it but... I finally got to the door. A sudden wave of apprehension fell over me, and I shuddered, as I wondered if this really was a good choice. I turned the door handle.


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#18 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Nov 19 2015 - 01:19 AM

-==Fade to Grey - Part 3==-

To say that this next place was messed up... well, I understate things a lot, don't I? I must really have messed something up by what I did, huh? I walked out into a room that was seemingly either disintegrating, or overlapping. Nothing seeming totally familiar, but the parts that did, were from a bunch of different things. A table from Olivia's house, a chair from school... But I didn't understand why this was happening. I tentatively took a step, and realized that a lot of the darkness I could walk on. I'm not sure why, but I felt as if this was important. Something here was drawing me. But what?

I made my way across the abyss, as I felt my headache growing more and more painful. What was with the things like this that made it worse? Was it because so many things that shouldn't be there were overlapping? Probably. But I needed to get out of here. I paused, however, when I noticed two people in front of me. One was Laura; a girl from Team Liberty. The other was Frank, another Liberty agent. I opened my mouth to try and say something, but the expressions on their faces caught me off guard. I frowned slightly, and took a step back, but then paused, and slowly glanced around myself. There were others surrounding me; Aspen, Dahlia, Ryan, everyone from the group in Unova, my old classmates... Seemingly everyone but Olivia.

The first moment I got as they were closing in on me, I ran. I managed to dodge past one of them, and began to pant, as I got a horrible feeling suddenly. I didn't pay any attention to where I was going, but something just didn't seem right. Why were all these people here? And why were they chasing me now, with blank looks? And what even was with this place?! I was scared. It was no time to deny it; I was outright scared. Why was I in this situation? I tried to remember what had happened before I woke up in this place, but all I got in return was a lousy headache. I felt frustrated, and ran through an open door quickly, closing it behind me as I did so.

This new room wasn't much better in terms of being put together, but something seemed oddly familiar about it. I walked through this room more slowly, as it didn't seem as insane emotionless people were chasing me, but I just couldn't place the room. It was an odd feeling, because nothing in the room seemed right, but yet everything seemed familiar. As if I've seen this before, but yet haven't. As if it shouldn't be like this now. But what was it? Argh, I feel like I'm going insane... Maybe I am, and that's the problem. I refused to give up, though, and walked through the open door at the other end.

All at once, I felt as if my senses were being scrambled, and dropped to my knees. I grabbed my head, and tried to focus, but felt as if tears were streaming down my face from the pain. A little while later, everything seemed to reorientate itself, and I managed to shakily push myself to my feet. When I turned around, I felt myself pale slightly, but suddenly understood why everything seemed familiar yet not, and why everything inside seemed so broken. Whatever this place was, it was able to recreate what I've seen before; but my house was destroyed. So the strain of trying to merge a full house and a totally destroyed one was breaking the fabric of space... I think.

Now that I knew what the place was... I still had to deal with what was happening. The outside wasn't doing much better than the inside. It was flickering between the two states, and the entire world looked like it was being torn apart. I looked around for the door that would hopefully lead me elsewhere, but just could not see anything. I felt as if that mysterious girl was laughing at me. I closed my eyes, and tried to calm down. I wondered if the world breaking was my fault. I remembered that it all started to do this after I made the choice to go in a different direction. Was this my doing...? I opened my eyes again, and noticed a closed door nearby. This door had a distorted symbol on it. I sighed, and hoped this would turn out better, as I walked toward the door...

However, as I did so, a sudden urge to jump forward came across me. The whole place began to shake. My eyes widened, as I looked up, and noticed a piece of debris falling toward me. I barely managed to roll out of the way, and considered the facts as I ran. Somehow, the place was seemingly falling apart. I thought the door might be my only chance to get out. I reached the door, and, without trying to open it first, tried to body slam the door.

----

I looked up with a groan. Nothing was falling apart here, except for maybe my body, as everything hurt. I heard chattering, but as I looked around and noticed I was back in the hallway, I still couldn't actually see anyone present. It had felt as if the door had just melted away as I slammed into it, though... Which just made landing on the floor all that more painful. I noticed the hallway seemed a lot 'glitchier', though... much like the place I had just been in. I was a little more nervous this time, but moved forward through the halls.

I tried to consider what might even be happening. Nothing seemed real, but it definitely felt real. But who was that person...? And why did my body move on its own when I was talking to my dad? Also, why do I keep hearing a creepily similar version of my voice? I just don't understand anything that was going on here. I knew I had to keep going, though. I had to get to the bottom of this all. But... One other thing felt jarring to me. Why wasn't Olivia anywhere to be seen...? Everything just seemed so demoralizing. Maybe there was a way to get around this.

I found a door after a while of looking. This door seemed odd, however. I didn't give it much mind, though, and walked through it. It simply took me right back to where I entered initially, much to my surprise. With a frown on my face, I keep trying different doors, only to get the same result. I must have been in some kind of shock from everything, because instead of just giving up after that, I simply kept trying the same door over, and over, and over again. I felt as if it had to just give in sometime, as I didn't see any other options.

I'll admit it was kind of late to try this, but I tried to reach for my belt; but found I wasn't wearing it. I sighed in annoyance, and checked my backpack, but there was nothing there either. I had a nagging feeling something was wrong, and figured that's what it must have been. I didn't have any of my Pokemon to help. There were no ways to create my own next door, to see if that was the solution to this insane mess. So I continued wandering again, knowing there might really be no way out of this one.

I lost track of how long I tried to look. I took a pause, as I leaned against one of the intact walls, and looked longingly at the ceiling. I sighed with a sad look on my face, and closed my eyes, hoping this would just go away. "You're not done yet. But you know how it feels now, don't you? Or should I say, haven't you always? In one way or another, despite the happiness you project, you've always longed for things to be better somehow. Whether it be friendship, life, or even choices. You just want things to be good, and the world just keeps rejecting you." I looked down, and saw the girl again. She seemed as melancholic as I did. "The exit's close."

Her vanishing didn't even faze me this time. I searched around for a little more, and then  finally noticed the glowing door with a '4' on it. But something struck me as odd about how she was. Why did she seem...? No. I didn't have time to worry about that. I want answers now. I opened the door, and stepped through the doorway. I was back in the hall. But this time, there was nothing wrong. This time, everyone was there.

This time, I'm going to find out what's going on.


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#19 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Nov 19 2015 - 10:50 AM

-==Fade to Grey - Part 4==-

I wandered through the hallway aimlessly for a moment. Something struck me as odd. I couldn't see an exit of sorts, yet everything seemed otherwise normal. Everyone was present as they should be, and reacted to me walking by, and were chatting as they should be. Someone even asked me for the time. But I was too determined to stop, so I just apologized, and moved onward. The exit had to be somewhere; and maybe I'd find my answers when I found it. But what gave me such an ominous feeling?

"Attention...!" I stopped suddenly. It was the girl's voice again. "I would like your attention please! Could I have..." There was a bunch of static here. "... Hikari come to the principal's office? Chloe would like to see you." I frowned slightly at that. The name didn't sound too familiar to me. And yet, it seemed like I'd known it for a while. Had I forgotten an old friend by accident? That didn't seem possible... So then why did it seem like I was missing something because of that name?

I took a step forward. Suddenly, everything seemed like it had turned to molasses. The door was in sight. But every step I took felt like an eternity. I internally screamed, as I wanted this to end. I just wanted answers...! Why... Why did this have to take so long? I finally reached the door, and hesitantly held my hand up toward the door. I don't understand... I want answers so much, I just want this... whatever it is, to end. So why do I feel so uncertain? And... why are tears rolling down my face?

"Aww... poor little Hikari. Maybe you're not fit to do anything after all." The girl's voice taunted over the loudspeakers. "Why did it have to be like this? Just get on with it already!" She yelled out, and grew silent. I still did not make a move. "Don't you want your precious answers? Or do you just want to fit in with everyone else?" She grew quiet again. "You're hesitant because you know you might not like the answers. I'll just have to... 'help' out." The tone because harsher, and I felt myself getting pushed through the door, as it opened.

I couldn't feel anything. It felt so empty and cold. I groaned, that was progress. I pushed myself into a sitting position. "Do you want to know? Then continue on. Wash up if you need to. Next room you can do that." The voice echoed through my mind, which caused me to wince. Something didn't sit right with me, though. I just couldn't understand what it was, though... What could be so odd to me? I noticed the door to the next room in the darkness, and stood up shakily, and walked through it. I found myself in a bathroom, and sighed, though something still was triggering my weirdness sensors.

I walked over to the taps, and began to wash my hands, and splashed some water onto my face to try and keep myself alert. However, as I looked up at the mirror, I gasped in surprise. Suddenly, things started to click into place. As the reflection's own green eyes widened, I noticed different things that I knew were different. Like my now-long auburn hair. And my more rounded face. And the fact that I was looking at the girl that I had continually seen throughout my journey here. Suddenly, everything started to make sense, and I started to giggle to myself.

----

I walked through the door again, and found myself in front of a familiar place, and smiled, as I walked in purposely. This place felt like I was finally coming home. I knew what to do now, as I walked over to a certain table, and sat down across from an auburn haired green eyed girl. While I waited for the talking to begin, I looked over the ice cream shop with a nostalgic smile on my face. I then looked at the other girl, who seemed a little frustrated still.

"So, you've realized it, huh...?" She said with a rueful smile. "I'm Chloe. I'm you... Your true self. The one you've been lying to yourself about... keeping locked down and hidden. But... you see. You see that I'm not just someone who's... I'm not just... I'm you, just as you are me. So why...?" She tried to take a deep breath, as I gazed back at her sadly. "Why did it have to take all this for you to realize it...? Why couldn't you just have... Why..." She sniffed, and I felt bad for her. She was right; all this time, I'd been lying to myself. I tried to deny myself. Even though I've sometimes let myself truly show through, I've mostly just denied it even then. Like today... Or whatever day it is now.

I got up, and walked over to her. "It's... It's okay. I'm... I'm sorry that it took so long for me to realize I have to do this... I'm just scared. Because I couldn't be on my true path from the start, you know? I just-" I paused as she gave me an angry look, tears streaming down her face.

"What does that matter? We both know what you've gone through before; both in real life, and here. Why does that have to matter? All you ever do is just tell people what they want to hear... it's what you're doing right now..." She seemed so sad, and upset. "You care so much about that Olivia. But she's part of why things nearly went wrong. Do you forget everything already? Do you?!" She asked, and shook her head. "No-one can be trusted... no-one would want to support you, me, us, w-whatever..."

I took a moment to think that over, but shook my head, smiling as I saw a girl with red hair pass by the window outside. "You're wrong. I'm starting to remember now... I don't think that was Liv's fault at all. And... I feel... hopeful now. It's okay. We're going to be alright now... Chloe..." I smiled, as the redhead walked in the door. I hugged... well... myself, as I closed my eyes. "It's going to be alright. I promise that I'll listen to myself more from now on... alright...?" I couldn't tell if it was my imagination or not, but the other girl seemed to be shaking. However, I felt her seem to calm down after a moment, and nod slightly.

I opened my eyes, as the girl with red hair sat down in her usual spot. "Heya, Liv... It's me, Chloe. Just like good old times, huh...?" I asked with a giggle and a smile, as Olivia smiled back, and took my hand. I looked out the window, and saw the sun begin to shine for the first time that 'day', and everything just felt right.


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#20 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Nov 19 2015 - 12:58 PM

Nemesis Part 2

 

He huddled in the corner, blood streaming down his jaw and neck and soaking into the collar of his shirt. His head throbbed, and his right eye was swollen shut. He watched, frightened, as his father threw a mug, shattering it against the wall beside him.

 
It was par for the course. He had done everything his father had asked of him that day, but he had overcooked the steaks his father had ordered for dinner. It didn't take much to send the man into a blind rage. The boy wasn't even crying at this point; tears would do him no good, only make the beating worse.
 
"I've had enough of this! I work to make your lives better, and what does it get me? Disrespect! I trained you to be what you are, and you defy me in every possible way!" The man was slamming around in the kitchen now, pulling open drawers and throwing them to the floor. He yelled a curse. "Lucy! Where are all the knives?!"
 
The boy turned to look at his mother. The wman was pressed against the wall, well out of her husband's way. She didn't speak, which wasn't surprising. She had a busted lip from a few nights before, when she'd stepped between her husband and her son.
 
"Nevermind you useless piece of trash! Found 'em." He came back into the living room, wielding a large chef's knife. The boyshuddered. His father didn't need a knife; the cut running up his jaw showed that.
 
As the large, burly man approached, the boy locked eyes with his mother. He took after her, with his pale skin and fair hair. As his father started to raise the knife, she launched herself from the wall, slamming into his back. The two slammed into the wall near the boy, and the man grunted before turning.
 
The mother grabbed at his wrist, trying to take the knife, only to be backhanded away. "Fine," he said, and only that. As the woman started to rise, he slashed with the blade. Blood sprayed, and she collapsed again, unmoving.
 
The boy could only watch in horror as it all happened. He was going to die. He was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it.
 
No, he thought. Not like this. As his father approached, the boy surged to his feet, silver fire forming in his hands. His father stepped back, surprised. It was the first aura sphere he had managed, and the boy launched it directly into his father's stomach. As the man flew through the air, he dropped the knife.
 
Feeling dizzy -- that had taken a lot out of him -- he grabbed the knife. He could leave, now. He had beaten his abuser, and that man would never be able to hurt him again. If he left now, that would be the end of it.
 
But he couldn't let the man continue to hurt others. A voice in the back of his mind was speaking, giving plenty of good reasons to end this menace, and no reasons to leave him alive. He reached out to try and communicate with his best friend, but the Lucario was oddly silent.
 
With a scowl, he approached his father. The man looked up at him, still dazed. As he opened his mouth to speak, the boy shoved the blade into his throat. The man choked and slowly drowned in his own blood.
 
The boy collected his Lucario's ball, as well as the pokéball of his father's Lapras. He packed quickly and left the house, shuddering. He would have to leave the town, if not the region. His father had been a well-respected man with powerful, influential friends. Being an ex-cop would do that.
 
As he walked, he continued to hear that voice in his head. It was a cold, frightened voice, one that distrusted everything it saw. The boy spoke to it soothingly as he made his way out of Snowpoint. He was glad that night came early this far north at this time of year. It meant that there was nobody to see the blood freezing to his neck and stiffening the collar of his shirt.
 
As he continued speaking with the voice, it reminded him of rumors he had heard. There was an organization, a mercenary unit that took in those who had nowhere to go. They had been wandering around Sinnoh, and were supposedly in Eterna City right now. He would go there and join up, and hopefully be out of the region before anyone recognized him.
 
 
---
 
Mercury watched all this as the person controlling his body dealt with the people in the gym. The voice had told him about this door, these memories, and told him to learn while they worked.
 
He shook his head, sighing. He would have gladly done without these memories, but they were important. They had allowed him to remember some important parts of himself. Namely, he now remembered what his name had been, once upon a time.
 
Not that it mattered. Jared Winter was as good as dead. All that remained now as Mercury.

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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#21 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Dec 20 2015 - 01:39 AM

Nemesis Part 3
 
Croaker looked at the boy in front of him and thought several curses. The kid was scrawny, underfed, in tattered clothes, and those were just the tip of the iceberg. "Who gave you the gash and the black eye?" he asked.
 
The kid shrugged. "Nobody worth mentioning, he casually replied. The annalist had to smile a bit. Kid had an attitude. He wouldn't last a week in the Company.
 
"Is that 'nobody' the reason you tracked us down?" They were in Eterna to relax for a while and resupply and recruit after a long mission and several casualties. The boy looked like he'd walked for weeks to get here.
 
The silver-haired boy shrugged. "Does it matter? I was told you all take on anyone who's willing." The Black Company was famous for this very stance. They took in degenerates and scoundrels, thieves and murderers. It was the only sort of person who lasted long.
 
"Well, you're right about that," said Croaker, "but we mostly only take young men and old. We don't usually get boys wanting to live our life." The kid looked twelve, maybe thirteen. Still, Croaker could see a look in his one unswollen eye, the look of a man who'd gone through fire.
 
"I guess," he said, hardly believing the words left his own mouth, "that we can make an exception, though. What should I call you?" He would have to talk to the Captain and bring him around. The old man never liked new blood, and this would send him into a fury.
 
"I guess my old name is dead, now. Call me Mercury."
 
Croaker nodded. A name of poison. Was that the boy labeling himself, or just a coincidence? Time would tell...
 
--
 
Mercury looked around the battlefield, feeling numb. It had been his first fight; a knife sat comfortably in his hands. He couldn't believe how quick that had been. Their current employer -- a contract of a year had stretched to three -- had gotten word about a small group of rebels in the peaceful-looking town of Floaroma.
 
The Company had come in during the night, only one or two slipping into town at a time, each taking a designated place. They'd blocked off the two roads leading out of Floaroma, and the Captain had announced their presence.
 
The rebels had been caught with their pants down. It could hardly be called a battle. "Massacre" seemed more apt. Twenty or so rebels with only a handful of pokémon and weapons against the hundred men of the Company.
 
The flowers that made the town famous were bathed in blood. Mercury had knocked one woman unconscious. As he was debating over what to do with her from there, a man rushed at him. Without thinking, Mercury had brought his knife up and jabbed it into the man's stomach.
 
His hands were stained with blood, and the sun was rising over the grisly scene. The Captain was ordering everyone to pack up and withdraw. They weren't hired to hold the town or the people, only to eliminate the rebels and discourage further attempts. They had done that.
As they marched out, Croaker the annalist put a hand on Mercury's shoulder. "Having second thoughts?" he asked.
 
Jared-- No, Mercury, he corrected. Mercury shook his head. "That was exciting. I think you're stuck with me, old man."
 
The annalist laughed. "That's what I was hoping for. You're gonna do fine, kid."

Edited by Flowey the Flower, Dec 20 2015 - 12:37 PM.

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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#22 Offline Dr. Hidaka

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Posted Dec 29 2015 - 09:53 AM

The Star's Light

Thunk. Vrrrrrr. Clank. Clunk.

 

Those were the sounds that echoed throughout the area of Accumula Town. To some they were the sound of hard working people trying to restore what was lost. To others, it was a defiant chorus to what had happened: that the inhabitants of the town refused to be broken by what had happened in the past. To Evan Tierra, it was the sound of the new day. He had been dispatched here to help another agent with the efforts to fix what the fight between Palkia and Black Kyurem had destroyed. The Sages were more than happy to have his help, considering he had helped wreak said destruction upon it all. As Evan walked around, he looked for the agent he had been paired up with. One he was familiar with: Jenny Hakuda.

 

"Where could she be?" Evan spoke under his breath as he focused his gaze. "The Sages told me that she was around this area, but I can't seem to find her."

 

The girl in question was humming happily as she took a step onto the pavement and stretched. Jenny took a deep breath, and smiled widely. She was a bit sad at seeing just how much destruction there was in the city, but it was her city - she was going to make sure it was brought back to its former glory, and then some. She chuckled to herself, as she recalled how she had been informed that her partner was different than the others. That's one way to think about it... She giggled out loud, and began to hum again, as she noticed the man in question, and began to pick up her pace as she approached him.

 

As Evan walked, he felt a tapping on his left shoulder. The Plasma Agent turned to his left, hoping to spot who did that. When he saw no one, he continued forward.........only to stop when he was tapped on his right shoulder, hearing a faint giggling as he turned. Again, he saw no one. When he faced forward, Evan did a double take as a girl appeared very close to him, as if from thin air.

 

"J-Jenny Hakuda?" Evan stammered in surprise at the girl's prank. "What are you doing here?"

 

"Boo." Jenny giggled, as she seemed amused at how easy it was to trick him into turning. "Was looking for you, actually." She said with a smile, as she stretched again with a slight yawn. "You are here for the rebuilding, no?"

 

"Yeah, I'm here to help out." Evan said, chuckling at Jenny's trickery. "The Sages sent me due to having some experience with working with wood and what not. You in charge here?"

 

"Experience with woodworks?" Jenny said with a surprised look, but smiled shortly after, and giggled. " I mean, the crew here is truly in charge, but..." The girl seemed to be full of energy that morning. "I know the terrain the best here, so maybe you could say that?"

 

"Yeah, my dad was a bit of a DIY nut." Evan said, smiling sheepishly at what he said. "Well, who better than you to lead the charge on fixing this place? Lead on and I shall follow!"

 

Evan could not help but feel the energy that Jenny seemed to radiate. It made him feel more than willing to put his skills to the test. He was going to do a fine job fixing this town up. By hook or by crook, they'd get the job done. As if to show his determination, Evan posed dynamically, beaming the whole time.

 

Jenny giggled at the pose with a smile, as she nodded. "Alright!" She said, as she mimicked the pose, and proceeded to walk toward the nearest area that needed the most repairs right at that moment. "Buildings were most affected... Pretty much everything needed to be rebuilt from scratch... It's a sad thing, since there were a lot of older buildings I used to see, but I'm sure we can fix them up even better!" She said with an energetic smile, as she jauntily walked forward. She wasn't entirely certain where she had suddenly gotten this energy from... But she was certain that it wasn't a new thing.

 

Evan beamed even moreso at Jenny's mimicry of his pose, and followed her. As they went, Evan noted what places would benefit most from his skills. At Jenny's optimism, Evan simply grinned widely. He was going to not only help this town, but help this girl see a greater town than she could dream of.

 

"Where to start, where to start?" Evan said as he shut his eyes and started to point in random directions, stopping on one point after a few seconds. "I say there!"

 

Evan's finger pointed to a building that had barely gotten started with repairs. It was broken, but looked salvageable. All it would take was hard work and determination to make it shine again.

 

"That looks like a good idea!" Jenny said with a giggle, as she skipped over toward it. She was curious at how it could be repaired, but was interested in giving it a shot.

 

Evan walked near the building, studying how much damage had been dealt to it. He noted that the building was still stable, but needed a lot of touching up. Evan peered inside one of the windows. "What a wreck. It'll require some work, but I think we can do it! Let's go inside and figure out the extent of the damages and make our plans from there, huh?"

 

"Right!" Jenny nodded, as she walked over toward the door, and tested it carefully. She wasn't quite sure how well it would hold up, but had hopes that it wasn't too bad. "Hopefully none of the supports are too bad, because then we can help out more quickly!"

 

"It seems to be in fine shape." Evan said as he walked right in, whistling as he did so. The Plasma Agent felt no fear as he marched forward, looking around to see what could be worked on. He then turned to Jenny and grinned. "Come on in! The floor seems to be just fine! Just be careful."

 

Jenny giggled, as she followed right behind, and thought for a moment. "This actually seems to have been untouched mostly, aside from the debris here... I wonder why it got left alone?" She mused, seeming a bit surprised about that.

 

"They probably thought it was all right the way it is." Evan said, frowning slightly. "That it didn't need any work." Evan continued to look around, making sure not to lose sight of Jenny as he moved around, moving debris so he could look closer at what damage there could have been. "I disagree about that. It can stand to look even better, don't you think?"

 

"But, we should check the basement, for foundation damage, Jenny." Evan said as he motioned Jenny to follow him down into the basement. "No telling if it's truly safe to be in this building."

 

Jenny nodded, as she followed Evan. "Yeah; we can't be sure until then. We don't have much to worry about, though..." She said the latter part a lot quieter than the first part, a slight smile on her face, as she trusted in the power of their Pokémon to save them if something went wrong.

 

As Evan and Jenny made their way down to the basement, Evan could see that what was the case for the upper floor was not the case for the basement. Parts of the foundation looked secure, but the rest looked far worse for wear. Evan chuckled weakly to himself. It must have been good fortune that the floor didn't collapse while they were up there.

 

All right, I think I see the problem, Jenny." Evan said. "We've gotta reinforce the foundation to a manageable degree before we do anything else. We'll need something to support it while we do that. Any of your pokémon able to help with that? I've got Landorus, but I don't want the Unova public to see one of their patron pokémon serving one human."

 

Jenny thought for a couple moments. "Nope!" She said cheerfully, as she looked around at the foundation, wondering what they could even do there.

 

Evan sighed amusedly. There was no helping it; he'd have to use Landorus' might to help this building. Evan struck a pose as he sent out the Abundance Pokémon. The pokémon looked at his surroundings, studying the ground most of all, as if spying some secrets Evan and Jenny could not see.

 

"Landorus, I hate to ask one such as yourself for this, but....." Evan said, scratching his head. "Could I ask for your help in stabilizing this building?"

 

Landorus nodded calmly, and made a wind up motion with his right arm. As soon as it finished, the Abundance Pokémon thrust his arm into the ground, causing a pillar of rock to rise up. Several more pillars rose as the Abundance Pokémon became enshrouded in a golden Aura. Each pillar rose up to key points of the ceiling, looking tough and sturdy.

 

"This will ensure that the floor will not crumble." Landorus said in his rumbling tone. "The rock around this area is wondrous in how much it can take. Hopefully it is enough for you."

 

"Thank you Landorus!" Jenny said with a giggle, as she looked around. She hoped it would hold out for good, but figured it would at least work for while they were inside. "Let's go look at the rest of the house, to see what's needed, then!"

 

"Lead on, and I shall follow!" Evan said happily as he returned Landorus to his poké ball. "I'm thinking maybe we could go upstairs and check out the other rooms."

 

Evan could not understand how Jenny could be so energetic about such work. Then again, he shouldn't be one to complain. After all, he'd rather see smiles than frowns any time of the day, especially considering what had happened.

 

"Good idea!" the blonde said with a smile, as she hummed, and they headed back up the stairs. "You said this was DIY?" Jenny asked curiously, as she looked over her shoulder at Evan.

 

"Yep." Evan said, still grinning as he followed his fellow Agent. "Means Do-It-Yourself! Decorating, home improvement, painting!"

 

Evan started to playfully march behind Jenny, seeing if he could match the cheeriness she exuded. There had to be a reason she was so cheerful, without being annoying about it. Even he didn't ever feel that way, even on his good days.

 

"Hmmm..." Jenny nodded, and smiled. "Then we should do that too! Maybe if we find out who's in charge of this place, we could touch it up too!" She said with a wider smile, as she looked around at the walls, intrigued about it.

 

"It really depends." Evan said, stopping his march. "But, I'm not opposed to the idea, and I am sure the owners wouldn't be as well!"

 

The Plasma agent recalled how he did that sort of thing with his father when there was nothing to do. He wasn't as good as him, but Evan had to help somehow. He especially wanted to see if he had improved somewhat, since he was more experienced now.

 

Jenny hummed, as she looked around the place a little more. "Well, let's first start off with the basics!"

 

"I think my definition of 'the basics' may be different from yours....." Evan mused. "But let's get started anyways! We'll bring this place back to its former glory."

 

As Evan spoke, his Garchomp popped out of her Poké Ball and slightly roared, ready and willing to help the two agents however she could.

 

Jenny looked around, as she gathered up the supplies that would be needed, and walked around, looking for places to start work on. She wanted to start on the walls, for one, to check out whether they had been damaged too much, or how the state of the insulation was.

 

Evan followed suit, going outside to get approval from the people in charge of the restoration. When he was given approval by both owner and those in charge, Evan grabbed two pairs of safety glasses. It was always better to stay safe, even with pokémon helping. Evan reentered the building and handed Jenny one pair of glasses.

 

"We've gotten approval!" Evan stated excitedly. "The owner says that we can go as far as we want with the repairs and touching up!"

 

Jenny smiled widely, as she put the glasses on, and giggled. "That's great news!" She said happily, as she thought for a moment. "Gnip, do you mind helping take this wall down?"

 

Gnip growled approvingly as she tackled the wall with her shoulder. Gnip continued her demolition, her eyes gleaming with ferocity as she took down more and more of the wall. Chunks of drywall fell on the ground as the Mach Pokémon worked.

 

"Gnip, you're a natural at demolishing anything!" Evan said over the commotion, grinning widely. "I think she prefers this to rebuilding things!"

 

Jenny giggled, and nodded. "I'm sure she could help rebuild, too, though!" The girl smiled, as she walked out of the room, to go get the new sheets of drywall, and the insulation they'd need for this particular room.

 

"Help.....rebuild?" Evan asked, a bit uncertain on that front. "Gnip, destruction and creation are two sides of the same coin. I think, as easily as you can break things, you definitely can fix them!"

 

At the sound of Evan's encouraging words, Gnip roared ferociously and performed one last slam on the wall, knocking down the last of the drywall. Evan pet her lovingly, praising the Garchomp for her power.

 

Jenny returned after a little while, and dragged in the insulation. "The drywall's just outside..." She giggled, and thought for a moment, as she pulled out a safety mask. "You might want this." She sighed, glad she could help out in this way.

 

With much effort, and some occasional goofing around, the two Plasma agents managed fix up much of the building, restoring it to what it used to be. While the outside needed work, the inside was pristine and wonderful. It still required more touching up, but it was better than nothing. Evan exited the building and stretched, noting the beautiful sunset. The scarlet rays shone over the workers leaving after a hard day's work.

 

"Maaaaaan, it's been a while since I did that sort of thing." Evan stated, trying to stifle a yawn. "It's good to just stop and fix something on occasion."

 

"Yeah, I agree..." Jenny yawned, as she stretched as well, and looked over at the house with a smile. "I'm glad we could do all that for the house! I'm sure the owners will be pleased." She giggled happily again, wondering just how much more of the city was damaged.

 

"That they will!" Evan agreed. "But, it seems like it has to come to an end for now. Everyone's going home to get a breather in before the new day arrives."

 

 

Evan felt less energized, but still didn't feel like resting. Gnip, however, felt beat. She needed to rest herself back up if they were going to be doing more of this work with her. With that thought in mind, the Mach Pokémon decided to just simply lie down to show her fatigue.

 

Jenny nodded, and sighed slightly. "That was pretty tiring, though, I have to say!" She said with a giggle, though her upbeat style didn't seem to be affected by her being tired.

 

"You don't know tiring until you've worked with my father." Evan stated, sighing a bit. "He worked me to the bone when I was younger. We would stay up so late during summer vacation to get a project done..."

 

At his words, Evan wondered how things were going for his parents in Eterna. He hadn't really kept in touch with them since he had fled Eterna City so long ago. He hadn't even written them a letter.

 

"I haven't really seen my father in so long, Jenny." Evan said nostalgically. "Or my mother for that matter. I wonder if they are doing ok."

 

"Why haven't you seen them?" Jenny asked curiously, as she looked over at Evan..

 

"Well, given all that's gone on...." Evan said, rubbing his hand on the back of his head. "What with Sinnoh once being covered in Darkrai shadow, and everything that has happened to me, I'm not sure if I can really go back to them. We didn't part on bad terms exactly. But I am not sure how they'd react to all that has happened."

 

"Hmm..." Jenny thought about that for a moment. "Why don't you try, though? I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"

 

"I dunno, that's what terrifies me!" Evan said as he scratched the back of his head nervously. "I really don't wanna worry them. I just can't go and tell them that I died in battle and somehow came back. They'd wonder what happened and..."

 

"I think if you just handle it like you handle everything else, then everything will be fine." Jenny said with a smile. "I mean, you don't want to worry them, but don't you think that not hearing from you for so long would worry them too?"

 

"Well there is one other thing...." Evan said, remembering his situation. "I can't exactly go to Sinnoh right now, seeing how busy we are here. Unless Eterna City is in need of help with repairs. I heard the town was torn apart pretty bad. I'll have to see if they could use help there."

 

"Hmm, that's a good idea. I wouldn't mind helping if you got that go-ahead." Jenny giggled, and looked to the sky. "I mean, everyone needs help, not just here. Plus, the repairs are looking pretty good here already!"

 

"All right, I'll hold you to that then, Jenny!" Evan said as he drew close to Gnip. "Maybe we should go back to our homes and take a breather, huh? It was fun though!"

 

The Plasma Agent looked upward and thought about all that had happened. He hoped he could face his parents, even after all that had happened. He hoped he could go to his true home again.

 

 

As the days moved on, so did the relief efforts in Unova. Some to a point where the civilians didn't require help from the government. This allowed Team Plasma to branch out into helping the other regions to an extent. Among those goodwill missions, was one to restore Eterna City to some measure of glory, after the damage that had been wrought upon it by the Ancient Darkrai. The Sages chose to send one particular agent there among others, alongside an agent he had specifically requested come with him.

 

 

 

"Welcome to Eterna City, home of myself!" Evan Tierra's voice rang out as he and another Plasma agent exited a plane. "Isn't it a lovely place?"

 

Evan posed excitedly as he was exiting. He seemed more dressed for a vacation than he did for hard work, and rather carefree for one working for Team Plasma.

 

"Oh wow..." Jenny seemed surprised at what the city looked like. "I never imagined it to look like this!" Even in its damaged state, the city exuded an aura of majesty. The girl smiled in awe, as she looked around, wondering how it might look when the repairs were done.

 

"The city is a mixture of new and old, but not to the extent of Opelucid City." Evan said, grinning. "The new is slowly overcoming the old, but I think recent events may have changed that. Shall we, then? The Sages said we're free to help when and where we can, but also have allowed us to treat this as off time, since I gave them that sort of request."

 

Evan breathed deep as he escorted Jenny through the airport, recalling all the pleasant memories that he had locked away for so long. The agent looked around after they had left the building, seeing a good deal of hustle and bustle as people came and went about their business.

 

"Oh, there was one more thing I wanted to tell you, Jenny." Evan said cheerfully. "I also believe around this time of year, the people of Eterna have a heritage festival. I've only attended it once before and had a blast then. Wanna join me when we have time?"

 

"Sure, sounds like it might be fun." Jenny said with a smile, as she seemed entranced by what was going on in the city. "I'm impressed, I have to say... I never expected the city to be quite like this!"

 

"Wait until you see the old part of town...." Evan said, winking. "Especially the statues of the three Dragon Pokémon of Sinnoh. Anyways, I have a place for us to stay in town and I think you may like it better than some silly hotel."

 

"Oh yeah?" Jenny seemed curious about that, but paused, and smiled slightly, as she began to get a feeling she knew where he meant.

 

"Yeah, made the phone calls and everything!"  the Plasma agent spoke. "We'd best not keep them waiting. They seemed very excited about putting us up, and I think you may like the people there too!"

 

Jenny chuckled slightly, but nodded. "Alright, let's get going, then!"

 

Evan led the way to near the outskirts of the city, observing all the projects going on as they passed. There seemed to be a feeling of vim and vigor in the air, as if the city itself was preparing for something. Evan smiled as they made it to the outskirts, where most of the housing for the city was situated. The two passed by many houses, each one having that "old meets new" vibe that the city was known for. Children were playing in a nearby park, their joy apparent to the Plasma agent. Evan then stopped suddenly and took a deep breath.

 

"There it is, Jenny." Evan said. "That's my home."

 

The house was a light blue, with white outlined window frames adorning it. The door was light brown, and seemed a bit tall. Evan looked back at Jenny and smiled warmly.

 

"I wonder who's home....." Evan wondered aloud as he approached the door and prepared to knock. "No finding out til we knock!"

 

Jenny seemed amused at that, and walked up and knocked on the door. "Definitely." She said with an amused smile at beating him to the knock.

 

"Can't say I didn't see that coming..." Evan said as he knocked anyway.

 

The doorknob trembled slightly as it turned. As the door opened, the pair of Plasma Agents saw before them, a giant of a man with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes with a stern expression on his face. He was dressed in a manner that showed he wanted to look good for some reason, his frame looking imposing and powerful. Upon looking down at Evan, the man's face softened, as if seeing the Plasma agent reminded him of happier times.

 

"Well, look what the Stoutland dragged in." the man cheerfully said to Evan, before turning to Jenny. "And who might you be, young lady?"

 

"My name's Jenny... Nice to meet you, sir!" She said with a small smile, as she seemed to be a little in awe of what was going on. She didn't know how to respond otherwise, however.

 

"Don't call me sir, Jenny." the man spoke, his voice rumbling warmly as he made a welcoming gesture into his home. "Call me Alexander. Alexander Del Tierra at your service. I am this boy's father and I am glad to have you both in my humble home."

 

Jenny smiled, and nodded. "Alright s-, I mean, Alexander." She sheepishly smiled, and meekly walked inside a bit, as she looked around curiously, wondering what the interior was like.

 

Evan followed inside, seeming to be full of energy upon seeing his father welcome him inside. The interior had tan walls with art hanging on them. There were family photos on the nearest wall. Each photo, save one, had the Tierra family in whole. One of the pictures featured a tawny haired teenager, beaming brightly towards the three people. Evan sheepishly grinned at Alexander, who seemed more than pleased to see Evan.

 

"So where is Mom?" Evan asked. "I know she's here, but where is she?"

 

Jenny looked around curiously, as she took in all the pictures. She looked to be in awe, and found it all pretty amazing. However, she seemed curious about the odd picture out, and smiled in amusement at it.

 

"She's out in the garden, kid." Alexander said kindly. "She wanted everything to look good for when you came back. Now, get over here."

 

Evan walked towards his father, only to get arm-locked by the beast of a man. Alexander laughed raucously as Evan struggled to free himself from his father.

 

"Hey now, aren't I a little old to have that done to me?!" Evan shouted, trying to stifle his laughter. "I thought we had an agreement!"

 

Jenny giggled in amusement, as she watched the two interact. She smiled slightly, as she felt a little out of place at this family reunion, but was glad for him.

 

"But it's been so long, boy!" Alexander cheerfully said as he released Evan from his grip. "No news about you or anything! Now I hear from you that you are part of Team Plasma or somesuch!"

 

"Dad, we can catch up later, all right?" Evan said, smiling at Jenny's reaction to his father's antics. "I'd like to see Mother."

 

Alexander made a go-ahead gesture as he pointed to the way to the outside garden. Evan motioned for Jenny to follow him out back. The two passed through what appeared to be the dining room, which lead to a door to the backyard. Evan was caught off guard with amazement by what he saw. A melodious humming filled the air outside, adding more to the atmosphere of what was before them.

 

Jenny was surprised at what the place looked like. Flowers everywhere, and a sort of stream flowing through the middle of the backyard. "This looks amazing..." Jenny said with an awed and surprised look on her face, as she looked around.

 

"I'm glad you agree, young one." a gentle voice spoke as the flowers were blown around by a gentle breeze. "I took care of them myself."

 

As the voice trailed off, Evan couldn't help but admire the garden himself. The sheer amount of colors in the garden astounded the Plasma agent. The garden had gotten much bigger since he'd been away. As Evan looked around, he saw a woman in gardening gear standing a few feet away. Her hair was a fine, lustrous black and her eyes a warm brown. "Mom?" Evan spoke, not exactly believing his eyes..........

 

"That's your mom?" Jenny said in slight surprise, as she looked over, amazed at how she just exuded a sense of peace from herself.

 

"Indeed I am his mom." The woman spoke softly. "But who are you, that my boy has brought home, and why? I know he called ahead for a place to stay, but I wasn't told that he would be bringing a guest with him......."

 

Jenny gave a skeptical glance over at Evan, but then smiled at his mother. "I am one of his friends and co-workers, and I'm going to be helping him out with the restoration here." She said with a smile.

 

Evan scratched his head at Jenny's response, but didn't lose his composure. "Sorry about that, mother." the Plasma agent replied. "I guess I was so excited to come home, that I forgot to ask......"

 

Evan's mother nodded her head respectfully. "It really doesn't matter." she replied softly. "She's welcome to stay with us, as long as she needs. I am Maya Tierra. Who are you?"

 

Jenny smiled, as she held out her hand. "Nice to meet you! My name is Jenny Hakuda."

 

Maya held out her hand and shook Jenny's lightly. "Very pleased to meet you, Jenny Hakuda." Maya replied. "As you can see, I am a bit busy with gardening. But you are welcome to stay with me, or explore the rest of the house if that suits you."

 

"Alright, sounds good to me." She said with a smile, as she glanced over to Evan. "If you're not done, maybe I could come back after looking around a bit?" She asked Maya curiously, as she looked back over.

 

"It'd be fine with me, Jenny." Maya said, smiling gently. "I'll make sure to take my time. Now you go along and look around. It's been ages since Evan's been back here, so he needs to see it for himself again."

 

"Well then, shall we?" Evan said, smiling as he waved to his mother. "I need to see what's changed in this house since what happened. I'll be back. Count on it."

 

Jenny nodded, as she followed Evan curiously. She hid a slightly mischievous smirk, however, as she realized that she now had something to tease him over later.

 

Evan led the way, passing through a nearby hall, figuring there was one place he hadn't seen yet in the house. The two went up a set of stairs near the entryway, Evan's grin widening with every step. At the top of the stairs was a hallway with two doors, one on either side. One door was plain, with no decoration. The other door had a poster of what appeared to be people in costumes on it. "It doesn't seem to have changed from what I can see, but I could be wrong." Evan stated nervously. "This is possibly my room...."

 

"Oh yeah?" Jenny seemed curious about the room, but looked over at Evan, who seemed nervous. "Want me to wait outside?" She asked with a teasing smile on her face.

 

"Well, I wouldn't mind if you came in..." Evan replied, still a bit nerved up at what may have changed. "So why not?" The agent opened up the door slightly, trying to keep his composure.

 

"Alright, then." She said with a smile, as she giggled, and walked inside the room.

 

Past the doorway, was a room with midnight blue walls. There was a wooden desk at one side of the room, with an assortment of books in the shelves, some looking much more worn out than the others. At the other was a rather large futon, with a bookshelf on either side. Each shelf had figures of what could be TV-show and video game characters. On one of the walls, was a poster of a very tough, but very tricksy-looking, young man, striking a very over-the-top pose.

 

"Nothing's exactly changed...." Evan said, clearly floored by what he was looking at. "It seems different, but then again it's been a while......"

 

"Oh wow, this seems very cool!" Jenny smiled, as she glanced around at all the posters, especially intrigued by the over-the-top pose poster. "What's that?" The girl asked curiously, as she pointed to the poster.

 

"Oh, that's a poster featuring my favorite character from a show I watched when I was younger!" Evan replied, his case of nerves fading away. "He is the second protagonist in a long-running series I am a fan of. He may look tough, but his true might, is in how he fights."

 

"Oh wow, that sounds cool... How does he fight?" Jenny asked curiously, as that sounded like he was strong.

 

"He didn't exactly use his fists, most of the time." Evan explained. "He was strong, yeah. But he was very clever with how he applied it. He would exploit weaknesses, make his opponents lower their guard, and generally annoy them. He even would turn the tides with his catchphrase: 'Your next line will be.....' and the foe would actually do as predicted."

 

"Oh wow, that sounds amazing!" Jenny said with a surprised look on her face. "So he could predict the future?"

 

"Not exactly." Evan said, smiling sheepishly. "He could read his opponents like a book. The way they moved, their facial expressions, even small things would tip him off. He made it seem like he could predict the future, so his opponents would be shaken up.  He managed to actually turn the tables on someone who was considered undefeatable, and did the same thing to him, just to drive the guy crazy."

 

"Oh wow..." Jenny was definitely amazed by that, and giggled. "He sounds like a really cool guy, for sure!"

 

"He really is." Evan said, giggling himself. "Sorry, I got a little enthusiastic back there. That character is just so good though. Anything else catch your interest?"

 

Jenny thought for a moment, as she looked around the room again. "Hmmm... Everything's so cool, I just can't choose one thing to focus on..."

 

"Well, what seems the coolest?" Evan replied, smiling. "I know it may be hard to decide, especially considering the sheer volume of things..."

 

Evan then noted a small figure of a red robot. Said figure had what appeared a drill in its right arm. Evan's eyes glistened with awe as he recalled the source material from which it came from.

 

"I almost forgot about this!" Evan said as he grabbed the figure, holding it gently. "This was so cool to me when I was in school!"

 

Jenny seemed surprised. "Oh, wow, is that...? I haven't seen that in a while; and that just jogged my memory of it!" She smiled widely, and giggled a bit.

 

"You've seen it before?" Evan asked in wonder. "I recall not many people at my school really knowing about it, despite how awesome it was. Regardless, that show changed my life."

 

"Oh yeah?" Jenny seemed curious about that. "Because of just how optimistic the one main character was?"

 

"Well that, and I wasn't exactly happy before then...." Evan mused. "Lots of things were happening and I wanted something happy for once. Then I found that show, and it was such a breath of fresh air. Even when things looked down for the true main character, there was always a chance of things working out, no matter how small."

 

"That's a good attitude to have!" Jenny said with a smile. "Things don't always go well; heck, even I get a bit down sometimes, but you have to just keep going, don't you?"

 

"Sometimes, it's all you can do." Evan said as he fiddled with the figure. "It's how things are. You've gotta move forward, otherwise you'll never make any progress...."

 

Evan put the figure down as he walked towards the futon and looked back at Jenny. "I'm gonna take a short nap; the trip here wasn't exactly restful. Why don't you go and see my mother again? She seems to like your attitude. I know I should show you around, but I need a little rest..."

 

Jenny nodded. "Alright then." She said with a smile, as she walked out of the room, and headed back out to the backyard.

 

Evan laid down on the futon, recalling what just happened. The brown-haired trainer never really had the chance to speak about anything like that in ages. He couldn't help but feel relieved that he could. Evan started to sleep, hoping for a good rest before he had to get to work.

 

Meanwhile, in the garden, Maya Tierra was continuing her work, humming as she did so. This was her work, one of the many things she enjoyed about her life. Though one of the things she was most happy about was seeing her boy finally coming home. That alone made her already-good mood ten times better....

 

"Hello?" Jenny popped her head back into the garden, as she looked around, trying to find where Maya was.

 

"Oh, so you returned?" Maya asked, rising upwards from her work. "I'm glad you came back. I had a few things to ask you. Come here and give me a hand. I could use a little help while we talk....."

 

Jenny nodded, and went over, picking up a pair of gloves to help out. As she worked, she glanced over at Maya. "You said you had some questions?"

 

"Some about yourself, and some about Evan.." Maya replied softly as she dug into the ground with a small spade. "First of all, I know your name, but who exactly are you?"

 

Jenny scratched her head, as she tried to figure out a way to explain that. "To be honest, I'm still trying to figure that out myself..." She smiled sheepishly for a moment, but then looked over. "What I do know, though, is that I'm a really good friend of Evan's."

 

"Really good friend, huh?" Maya said as she continued her work. "That's wonderful to hear. I'm glad Evan made a friend, while he was away, especially considering what made him leave... Has he been keeping well, Jenny?"

 

Jenny nodded. "Yeah, he's been doing very well; we've all really been making a lot of friends." She smiled, but paused, as she looked over curiously. "Made him leave?" She repeated with a perplexed look on her face, having not heard that story yet.

 

"We......had a few problems with the Rockets." Maya replied, sighing. "There were a few problems with my husband's mining company, regarding how the Rockets were running things. So they had a group of their grunts attack our home, in retaliation. Evan left while we stayed back and surrendered. I told that boy to run, moreso because I didn't want him to see us get hurt....."

 

Jenny felt sad about that, but nodded. "That's so sad... I wish that wasn't needed..." She sighed, happy that everything worked out in the end, but...

 

"My boy has had a bit of a tough life, due to what's happened in the past." Maya continued as she worked, getting a berry ready to be planted. "He's tough like his father though, but I worry about him so much, Jenny. You mentioned other friends. What are they like?"

 

Jenny smiled, and began to describe her friends, and her brother, leaving out the precise details of their adventures, but otherwise going over the good things they had seen in the process.

 

"Wonderful...I'm glad his life has taken a turn for the better." Maya said, sighing happily. "Now for my next question, I want you to be honest with me. My boy probably has had his share of danger out there, but has he ever gotten hurt? I know it's a silly question, Jenny, but I have to know."

 

Jenny bit her lip at that question. "He has gotten hurt; but he's always bounced back. Like, I think one time he cut his knee, but just kept on smiling... Or, heck, he apparently gave my brother a scare, but actually came out of that entirely unscathed, much to my brother's surprise." She gave a small smile at that, knowing that even though she knew she had to be honest; she also knew she had to bend the truth a little, as it wouldn't be really believable otherwise.

 

"Well, that's good to hear." Maya replied happily. "Here is my final question, and it's more of request for you and you alone. My boy has done foolish things in the past, but now that he's older, I fear he may do worse than just foolish. If it comes to that.........can I trust you to make sure he doesn't lose what's most important to himself?"

 

Jenny seemed surprised by the request, but smiled and nodded. "I promise that I'll do everything I can to make sure he doesn't lose his way."

 

"I know it may seem like an out of the blue request, but I need someone to keep an eye out for him." Maya said as she flashed a grin to Jenny as she planted a berry and covered it in dirt.  "Especially since he needs someone for that."

 

Maya rose up and walked over to the door to the house, her pace quick and delicate at the same time. "Now I think I'm done for the day, let's go inside and get some food ready." She spoke kindly. "You and Evan have a lot of work to do, and you mustn't do it without something to eat!"

 

"Alright! Thank you for your hospitality again, Maya..." Jenny said with a small, yet very kind smile, as she followed Evan's mother back into the house...


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#23 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 16 2016 - 08:04 PM


Nemesis Part 4
 
They had finished up in Vermilion, and were standing on the dock while they waited for their ship to fuel and load. Croaker and his Xatu were leaning against a building while they spoke with the kid in front of them.
 
"You did pretty good last night, Mercury. Those rebels never even knew we were there." Honestly, it had been kind of scary to watch. Mercury had made his way through the base with a terrible aura swirling around him, and had snuffed out every life he came across without thinking twice about it.
 
The silver-haired teen shrugged softly. "Did what I needed to. We're still technically under contract; if we didn't handle them, our . . . employers would get suspicious." He sighed. "So, what's next on the list?"
 
Croaker sighed, running his hand through his hair. "Xatu says we need to make haste for Lavaridge, over in Hoenn. We've got two dozen men headed that way already, and we're bringing another twenty with us. Once we get there . . ."
 
"We'll tell the townspeople what's coming, take their money, and fail to defend them?" He looked over his shoulder at the old annalist, his silver eyes hard. "Sounds like a plan, I guess."
 
Croaker shook his head. "You know how it is. These things are getting . . . crazy. We'll see what we can do, but we lost almost sixty soldiers last time. If this is anything like that, we might have to call it a wash."
 
Mercury sighed and started forward as their ship's horn blared.
 
---
 
Mercury sat in his room in the pokémon center, eyes closed. Anubis sat across from him, helping him to meditate. Their aura mingled as they focused on the source of Mercury's inner turmoil. The silver-haired trainer took a deep breath and then opened his mind for Anubis.
 
Since the night he'd killed his father -- two years ago? three? -- he'd become more vicious, more bitter. His aura abilities had become stronger with every passing day as well, and he worried about where the path would take him. He often found himself unable to recall events, sometimes losing  hours at a time.
 
Once, he'd even lost a whole day, waking up in an unfamiliar town with Croaker tending to his wounds.
 
Now, he let Anubis in, so that they could deal with the source of all this. The night Jared Winter had killed his father, the voice had started speaking, calling itself Mercury. That voice was the one who'd led them to the Company, and the one who'd done most of the killing since then.
 
The memory place was just as it should have been. Doors were sealed tight to prevent nosy psychics, but Mercury could still feel the emotions associated with each. He flinched a bit as he passed the door dedicated to Kat.
 
His double was sitting outside, under the barren tree, sharpening his knife. Mercury-- No, here he was Jared to avoid confusion. -- approached him with Anubis close behind.
 
Mercury smirked up at him, flipping the knife into the air and catching it easily. "Jared. It's been a while! And Anubis, how's my favorite vicious beast doing?"
 
Jared winced a bit. Some of the things Anubis had done at Mercury's command . . . "We need to talk," he said lamely. "You know that Anubis and I have talked." Mercury was always watching anything Jared did.
 
"Yep. You want to abandon the Company? Give up on the cash we're getting from protecting people? I'm game, if you have something fun planned!" Mercury tossed the knife again, smirking.
 
"Well . . . I was actually going to go help the rest of the towns on Croaker's list for free. Doesn't seem right to make them pay for our weak defenses."
 
THe double missed his catch, drawing a line of blood along his palm. "Ah!" He winced, squeezing the injured hand with the uninjured one. "I suppose, if that's how you want to do it. You're in charge, here, after all." He bathed his wound in the dark red aura that he wielded, hissing a bit as the skin knit together.
 
Jared frowned. "I'm not so sure about that. If I do this, I have to be sure that we aren't going to have a problem like we did with . . ."
 
"Kat. Jared, I told you! She was using you, there was no reason to keep her around!"
 
"That still doesn't warrant what you did to her! Honestly--"
 
"So, what? You want me to promise that I'll leave you in control while we're doing set up and then take control to handle threats?"
 
"No." Jared grabbed the knife out of the air this time and threw it to stick in the tree.
 
Mercury frowned. "I see. You're making a mistake."
 
"No, I don't think I am." Jared surged forward, silver fire in his hands.
 
---
 
An hour or so later, Mercury - the physical Mercury - was making his way out of the town. He hadn't told any of his brothers in the Company; they would try to make him stay, and he couldn't do that.
 
He wasn't surprised, however, to see Croaker walking towards him as he reached the edge of town. The annalist and his Xatu were rarely caught unawares. Mercury paused, crossing his arms as the old man approached.
 
"Was wondering when this day would come. Xatu saw it a long while back." Croaker sighed. "I told myself I wouldn't hold you back. You're going to be better, right?" 
 
"I'm going to try. I . . . I put away the thing in my head." He sighed. "Sorry for the trouble it'll cause."
 
"Trouble passes. You know where you're going?"
 
"Sootopolis is next, right?"
 
Croaker unfolded a set of papers from his pocket. "Here. I've got every location written down, and the days. You'd best get a move-on. Sootopolis is a ways away."
Mercury took the list. "Thanks."
 
"You need help, you'll know who to get ahold of. Try not to need help, though. Old man's gonna be furious."
 
Mercury nodded, unsure what to say. The two stood for a moment in silence. Mercury opened his mouth to say something, but paused as he felt pressure building.
"What the--"
 
Croaker turned. "Xatu!" he called out. The psychic type's eyes glowed. Mercury felt hot wind ripping past, and a bright flash nearly blinded him before he found himself being flung by the teleportation.
 
The explosion still slammed him against a cliff, and he felt his head connect before darkness overtook him. His hand gripped tight, but he only managed to hold one of the pages. The rest were scattered to the wind.

 


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#24 Offline Flipz

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Posted Jan 09 2017 - 02:41 AM

~Jupiter's July~


Part 1

Eterna City outskirts (Route 205), July 10

Jupiter sighed, shifting uncomfortably in her sodden suit as she sauntered along the Sinnoh lakeshore. For all the years of jokes and inappropriate comments about the jumpsuits, we never did make them watertight, did we? The former Commander of Team Galactic, now a novice Gym Leader in the town of her team's demise, stood soaking wet in the lake lake just to the city's west, periodically bending down to seek something small beneath the lapping lakeshore waves. In retrospect, this outcome seemed obvious, but at the time it had seemed like a good idea...

Her struggles had started with seeking someone to surf her across the surface. Despite the numerous fishermen and their warm greetings, few seemed to possess a Pokémon capable of carrying multiple passengers, and those who did were unwilling to give up their leisurely lifestyle for a day out on the open waves. Jupiter was about to give up when an oddly-dressed woman approached her, a Fisherman behind her.

"Hiya!" The newcomer said, her voice oddly cheerful for someone wearing torn orange shorts, an overlarge face-covering straw hat, and a drab canvas poncho. Jupiter gave the woman a once-over, noting her lanky stature and well-toned musculature. "I hear you're looking for some help with surfing?"

"Yes," Jupiter replied, continuing to scrutinize the other woman. There was something about her that aroused suspicion, but as the only person so far to so much as hint at offering assistance, the Gym Leader was inclined to overlook it--at least for now. "Would you happen to have anything more suitable to transport than a mere Magikarp?"

"...Well..." the woman gestured toward the Fisherman she'd brought with her; her posture seemed apologetic, but with the straw hat covering all but her mouth it was hard to tell. Clicking the buttons on both balls, the abashed Fisherman released a pair of said Magikarp onto the docks before him.

Jupiter scoffed and made to walk away, but the mysterious woman would not let her go so easily.

"Wait!" Beneath the hat, she smiled a wry grin, but the expression was hidden from the Gym Leader. "I know they're not much, but they're closer to evolving than you might think--"

The implied challenge did not escape Jupiter's notice. "So you two want to challenge me?" Been an awful lot of that going around lately, the ex-Commander reflected ruefully. "Unfortunately, until the Gym is up and running I'm afraid that's simply not possible."

This time the woman really did smile, visibly. "You really are new to this, aren't you? I think Eterna's last Gym Leader once said, 'Out of the Gym, a Gym Leader is just another Trainer.' Out here, it's all just for fun." The woman grinned broadly, an eyebrow almost surely raised beneath the shade of straw. "Don't mind your reputation, it'll be just fine when you lose."

Jupiter knew she was being baited. But she also knew this stranger had her hooked, as surely as the Pokémon at the end of the fishermen's lines. "...fine. But be prepared for loss," she warned, sending out her Tangrowth and Toxicroak.

It was not a lengthy battle. The stranger should have been chagrined, and yet she proudly stood her ground while her friend recalled his Pokémon as they hit the ground one after the other. "I'm sorry," she said, and to Jupiter's pleasant surprise the remark had not been directed at her, but to the Trainer of the fainted fish now returned to their safe captivity.

"Your Pokémon aren't bad," Jupiter offered the man, remembering Clemont's advice, "but they're laughably weak. They're far from prepared for a challenge of my magnitude."

"They do seem to have room to grow," the stranger agreed, "but that's the joy of it." At Jupiter's curious glance, she added, "walk us to the Pokémon Center?"

With a shrug, Jupiter followed.

---------------

The Pokémon Center was, as usual, not crowded. Eterna City seemed to move at a pace slower than the rest of the world, and Jupiter for one appreciated it. She settled in to a comfortable sofa while she waited for the ragged stranger to return from the counter. The Gym Leader did not have to wait long.

"Truth be told," the stranger said, "Andrew's Magikarp have been 'almost ready to evolve' for years. But I never could resist humouring him." The strange woman giggled softly to herself. "I know they truly failed to impress you. Perhaps my own Pokémon would be more to your liking?" As her friend had on the docks, the stranger sent forth two Pokémon for Jupiter's inspection.

The first was a foreign but otherwise-common specimen, a Ludicolo Jupiter knew to be native to the Hoenn region. The other...the other she had once sought herself.

"A Roserade? Not a lot of Trainers use Roserade anymore."

"She's been with me for years. As she's grown, so has our bond."

"Let me guess. That bond is what brought you back to the city of your old Gym?"

The woman snorted. "Took you long enough to figure out," Gardenia quipped, doffing her concealing straw hat to reveal a shock of orange-and-black hair. "To think, we lived in the same town for years, but you don't even recognize your own Gym Leader?"

Jupiter shot her predecessor an annoyed glare. "I was just slightly preoccupied back in the day. And quite frankly, the League hasn't historically been at the forefront of my interests."

Gardenia crossed her arms, her eyes sparkling with interest. "So what changed?"

The new Gym Leader shrugged uncomfortably. "What else is there for me? Nova's...gone, and with it pretty much everyone I've ever known. I needed something to do, and the opening sort of just fell into my lap. End of story."

"Hmm." The Elite Four member's tone indicated scepticism.

Jupiter was thoroughly uninterested in elaborating, however. "So now what? If you're hoping to take a peek at the Gym you're welcome to it, but it's frankly a bit of a..." Jupiter trailed off, the intended expression 'disaster area' triggering rather unpleasant memories of the actual disaster site north of town. She mentally cursed the young man who'd somehow convinced her to stay in Eterna. Note to self, give Zynthic a sound thrashing, distractingly adorable Pokémon or no.

A spark of recognition flashed in Gardenia's eyes. "So that's why..." she murmured to herself.

Jupiter never liked it when someone tried to talk about her too quietly to be overheard. Nine times out of ten, they were wrong in their assumption of the strength of her hearing. Now was not an exception. "Why what?" she asked bluntly, even a little loudly, as heads began to turn.

Gardenia saw them as well, noting in particular a certain familiar reporter failing to make her eavesdropping sufficiently subtle. She retreated Roserade and jerked her head towards the door. "Why don't we discuss this out on the lake?"

With an indifferent grunt, Jupiter wheeled and marched out the door, checking only momentarily to see if her predecessor was following.

---------------

It took twenty minutes for the pair to reach the docks and surf out of earshot on Gardenia's Ludicolo. The Grass-type trainer wouldn't put it past the reporter-and-cameraman duo to have found some way to follow, but it was clear her successor saw no need to stay silent.

"Why...what?"

"Why Magma?"

To neither participant's surprise, the two words were more than enough to cut the conversation short, at least for another short while. Eventually, Jupiter found herself forced to ask. "How?"

"Believe it or not, I used to follow them in the news back in the day. Way back, mind, before even your time. A part of me admired them, their stated goal to expand the land. But mostly? They frightened me. So I watched, and I waited, worried they might strike...and completely missed the local gang rising up under my own nose."

Jupiter shifted uncomfortably. "And then they were gone." It was unclear whether the ex-Galactic Admin referred to her own team or to Magma.

Gardenia chose to assume the latter. "Under Rocket rule, I never really had the time to monitor the other regions, but I still had the news search alerts set up. They rose back to prominence, joined with Liberty, and were wiped out again. And then the most curious thing happened...a handful of Magma members survived, and were promptly offered a place in my old Gym."

Jupiter looked up with alarm. "What, it's leaked to the press already? The Gym isn't nearly ready for that kind of publicity--"

The Grass-type Trainer chuckled, hands raised. "Peace, Jupiter. No, I have...other sources. The League may not be at the forefront of your interests, but even during the occupation, it was at the forefront of mine. I still keep in touch with my old friends, and one of them in particular handed me the tip that led to you."

"I see." Silence stretched. Then: "That still doesn't answer my question."

Gardenia gave her successor a long, hard look. "You see yourself in them."

Jupiter stared pointedly across the lake, away from the other woman.

The Elite Four member was not about to let the point go. "It's admirable. But if you're not careful, you may leave their roots impacted."

The Poison-type Gym Leader swiveled to stare at her predecessor like she had grown a second head. "Would you mind explaining that in actual words?"

Gardenia paused for a moment. "Do you happen know what became of those saplings I had stashed away in storage?"

"Wha--?"

"Indulge an old Gym Leader's curiosity. Please?"

Jupiter thought back to the extensive renovations she'd begun--renovations she really ought to have been completing, were it not for the Magma members' impending arrival. "I think they were the among the first to go. Sold them to a local collector for more than I could get online--fan of yours, perhaps? I remember because he asked me to help him re-pot, and he seemed disappointed when I mentioned I had four shipments coming in that day."

"Hmm." Gardenia made a mental note to visit her old Gym acolytes before leaving town--something told her her Poison-specializing successor had been less than helpful to the local horticulturists. "If you had to guess, how long would you say they'd been growing?"

"I don't know...a couple years?"

"Put it this way, I've had those saplings since I last remodeled the Gym, a couple years before you settled in to town. The first time."

"...what?"

"I never did get around to planting them. And so they ended up stuck in those tiny pots, watered but never given room to grow. Their roots became tangled, twisted, tied up in knots...and now, even if planted properly, they'll never reach the heights they might have."

"Look. I know there's supposed to be a metaphor here, some lesson on good Gym management, just like with the fellow from Kalos, but it's been a long day, and for the life of me I'm not seeing it."

"You're looking for Pokémon for your new Gym members. You're hoping it'll help ease their pain, give them something to strive for, help provide them a reason to stay. Am I getting warmer?"

"...warm enough."

"Like I said, you see yourself in them, and you want to help. But that's just it--that's what's helping you. There's no guarantee it will work for them."

Jupiter studied her predecessor carefully, giving the older woman a glance filled with a mixture of guilt and a hint of hidden vulnerability. "Let's...let's say you're right. I have to do something."

"Of course." Gardenia's smile was the gently warm, knowing smile of a mentor--in truth, a bit too knowing for Jupiter's comfort. She reached into a pack and pulled out a Net Ball, pressing it into the Poison specialist's hands. "But perhaps you ought to consider if you're using the right tool for the job?"

Jupiter took the proffered gift, more out of rote mechanical habit than intention. She stared at the Pokémon-capturing device, considering its function. Net Ball. Significantly more effective in capturing Pokémon that are Bug-type or-- That's when it hit her. ...Water-type. The one type no self-respecting Magma trainer would even think of training. Team Magma's rivalry with Team Aqua was legendary, even outside of Hoenn; to offer the refugees Water-types so soon after their team's demise...

"Thanks," she stated, lobbing the ball casually over her shoulder, "but no thanks. It seems my plans have changed." Jupiter regarded her predecessor with a pleased grin, hands placed confidently upon her hips--a glimmer of her old self shining through.

Gardenia beamed at the new Leader of her old Gym, confident it was now in good hands--but her joy was short-lived. Her expression--and a moment later, her counterpart's--turned to a mixture of amusement and horror as the all-too-familiar sounds of a Pokémon capture sounded several dozen yards away from the Ludicolo on which they rode. The Net Ball shook once, twice, thrice, clicked...and promptly sank beneath the surface with a splash.

---------------

Gardenia watched Jupiter search along the shore, while she herself sought the missing ball from atop her still-surfing Ludicolo. Despite the mishap, however, she wasn't worried--after a fit of swearing harsh enough to make a Sailor blush, the Poison-type specialist had dove into the water without a second thought, only afterward realizing the needlessness of the gesture. Still, she'd stuck to her choice and swam ashore, and Gardenia couldn't help but admire the tenacity. Like a rare, slow-growing flower, the seed of the Gym Leader's potential had germinated, and was now fighting its way to the surface for the light it so desperately needed to grow. Eterna City was a good place to grow--good rain, good soil, and good people. After seeing her successor in action, she knew the new Gym Leader would benefit just as much as she once had. Another successful transplant, she congratulated herself, as she saw Jupiter at last find her wayward catch.

---------------

She shouldn't have worried. With the waves washing everything wayward to the western shore, it was only a matter of time until the Pokéball showed up as well. Still, she had to admit her relief when she at last stumbled across the Net Ball--not literally, of course, but the intentionality of the act was approximately equivalent. No sooner had her hand closed around the device than its occupant emerged of its own accord--

...that may well be the smallest Tentacool I've ever seen.

With a sigh, she recalled the Pokémon to its captivity. "Well, welcome to the team I suppose," she muttered, glad that Gardenia was too far out to overhear. She glanced up to see the Grass-type specialist wave at her and then surf away atop her own Water-type. With much muttering, Jupiter began the now-sodden slog back to the Gym...and the drawing board. There was work to be done, and she wasn't about to let just one setback stop her. Time to devise a new plan...

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#25 Offline Flipz

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Posted Jan 15 2017 - 10:45 PM

~Jupiter's July~


Part 2

Eterna Forest, July 12

"Skuntank, return."

The beam of red light stretched out from Skuntank's ball, drawing the Skunk Pokémon back inside. Scattered around the now-empty space lay at least a dozen fainted Bug-type Pokémon, none of which would successfully serve her purpose. Weak. Laughably so. So why do I feel...disappointed? The Gym Leader's musings were unexpectedly cut short by the return of the Crobat she had sent to scout ahead. She looked expectantly in the Bat Pokémon's direction.

"Another group?"

The Crobat shook its head, dipping backwards and slightly to one side to indicate the direction from which it came. Contrary to its indication, Jupiter could see a Beedrill buzz in for a Fell Stinger against an unknown victim--only to be met with a Fire Punch from said opponent. The Poison-type specialist leaned forward to look around a tree blocking her line of sight--and swore sharply, drawing back hurriedly with the hissed imprecation still upon her lips. Gesturing for her Crobat to keep behind her and out of sight, she inched forward to look around the tree, this time kept more behind the cover of its massive trunk.

Well...that's him all right. The Gym Leader mentally cursed her own carelessness--she'd assumed the irritating Trainer had finally left town after their most recent disagreement, but it seemed she'd been mistaken. Yet despite her dislike of the irritatingly insistent drifter, she found herself curious. Adam Zynthic...what exactly do you do when you're not pestering Team Galactic? Returning her attention to the battle, she strained to hear the Trainer talking to his Pokémon.

"Slack Off!" Adam ordered. In response, the Chimchar abandoned his intended attack, flipping backward to give himself space to lay down away from the Beedrill. Zynthic's Chimchar crossed his arms behind his head...and cheekily raised a pair of toes at the Bug-type in a defiant Taunt.

Adam groaned, but the sound was drowned out by the sound of the Beedrill's buzz of Rage. It shot forward, glowing red as it prepared to stab at Charlie.

"Charlie--"

FWAM!

Out of nowhere, the Beedrill found itself flung into the air, a stinging sensation overcoming it. It took both the Beedrill and the Trainer of the Pokémon that had hit it a moment to realize what had happened--an unexpected Thunder Punch the Chimchar had successfully Taunted it into taking right to the face. The Bug- and Poison-type Pokémon carefully observed its opponent--true, its own attack had already risen dramatically, but given the strength of those earlier blows...

With a last U-Turn (which, to the Beedrill's clear satisfaction, the Fire-type did not dodge), the Poison Bee Pokémon flew away. Charlie charged after it, another Thunder Punch already prepared, but--

"That's enough, Charlie, let it go."

"Pi pi?" The interjection came from a tiny Piplup, which Jupiter noted looked particularly pristine atop the all-too-familiar Grotle that perpetually trundled along in Adam's wake. The Penguin Pokémon appeared peeved, and even Jupiter could tell why.

He denied her teammate an obvious--if easy--victory. And I'd wager he's done it to her as well. But to what end? What does he possibly hope to gain?

As if answering her unasked question, Adam responded to Pippi. "It's not suited to our purposes."

Jupiter felt a chill run down her spine--hadn't she thought the exact same thing countless times over the afternoon? A part of her rebelled at the thought of having anything in common with the lowlife hanger-on who'd kept pestering her to rebuild Team Galactic...but another, more rational part held it in check, more concerned with what she could learn as a result. She tuned back in to the conversation, catching the tail end of a series of chirps expressing the Piplup's disapproval.

"Look," the Trainer sighed with the telltale tones of far-overstretched patience--good, maybe now you'll know how it feels--as he sat on a stump next to his Grotle and the Piplup atop it. "Right now, I'm the only one interested in maintaining the legacy of Team Galactic. So if we're expanding our Team, I'd like do do it in a way that honors the traditions of the past." The Trainer looked to his Grotle for support, and it grumbled its agreement. "Which means while we're in this forest, the only Pokémon I'm interested in are Wurmple and its evolutions like Beautifly or--Dustox!!" This last point was punctuated with Adam pointing dramatically at the Pokémon as it swooped through the trees. "After it, Charlie!" As the childish Chimchar charged after the flying foe, Adam added as an afterthought, "...and this time, maybe listen to me for a change?"

Jupiter drew herself out of sight as the Trainer and Grotle trundled forward, the latter groaning its doubts about the Chimchar's cooperation. Once she was sure they were gone, Jupiter released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and looked around for her Crobat, which she found tiredly hovering near the ground. "Oh...I'm sorry, old friend," she apologized, reaching for the Pokéball at her belt--but something stopped her. Honoring the traditions of the past...much as I hate to admit it, Zynthic may have a point. "Crobat," she asked, "do you think you have enough strength to lead me back to that nest from earlier?" Furrowing its brow in consideration, the Crobat nodded, setting off immediately along the path by which she had entered the forest.

---------------

In a small clearing not far from the Old Chateau, a bouquet of Budew shifted in the sunlight. Though their wounds had already healed through Synthesis, their rejection-wounded pride would remain injured for some time. The saddened silence was broken by the sound of someone stumbling through the underbrush. A few seconds and some stifled swearing later, Eterna City Gym Leader Jupiter stood before them for the second time that day.

"I've changed my mind," she announced, sending out Skuntank to stand before her. "Care for a second shot?"

With bounding enthusiasm, the Budew prepared for battle.

Edited by Flipz, Jan 15 2017 - 10:46 PM.

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#26 Offline Flipz

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Posted Jan 30 2017 - 10:38 PM

Part 3

Eterna City Gym, July 16

"--And while reports of casualties are still incoming, preliminary estimates put the death toll in the--"

"--thousands of Kanto citizens fill the streets, expressing shock and outrage at the--"

"--reconstruction efforts in Sootopolis put on hold a third time as authorities continue to struggle with the difficulties of transporting--"

"--supplies will be delayed at least another week, Ma'am," a much tinnier voice sounded from a fourth speaker. "I'm sorry--"

"You shouldn't be," Jupiter assured the man on the other end of the line, thumbing the mute button on the television so she could concentrate on her call. "I'm honestly surprised you haven't canceled outright. A lot of the others have."

"Begging your pardon, Ma'am, but we're from Hoenn. When we give our word, we mean it, come fires or floods. We may be diverting some supplies to Sootopolis, but we're not going to leave our loyal customers hanging."

"That's...admirable," Jupiter forced out, not quite managing to suspend her judgment. Different region, different priorities. Or perhaps not so different. No one had rushed to help her rebuild Nova--though perhaps that had more to do with word of her ire towards the idea spreading even faster than Sinnoh's impulse for goodwill. The people of the region had been remarkably quick to work through the recovery efforts after the incident with the Ancient Darkrai, but perhaps that spoke more to the efficiency of the Rocket Separatists than to any amount of charity on behalf of the Sinnoh citizenry.

"Besides, you're Team Galactic. The pencil-pushers still have you listed as a top priority. I reckon every business in Hoenn would jump at the chance for one of your contracts, for the tax breaks alone. We're full up for the moment, but I've got a cousin in Rustboro if you'd like me to--"

"Thank you, for the generous offer, but I..." Jupiter trailed off as the newly-installed security monitor indicated someone approaching the Gym. "...I seem to have a visitor. We'll pick this up another time." The Gym Leader hung up quickly before the foreman on the other end could object. She dropped both hands to her desk, and was surprised to find them tightly clenched. With a slow, cleansing breath the former Team Galactic Commander forced herself to unclench them. As she stood up and made for the door of her newly-renovated office, she checked her appearance in the reflection of a rather large assembly of glass and steel propped up against one wall--the very assembly, as it happened, that the delayed parts were destined for. I'd better appreciate the irony if it weren't at my expense, Jupiter thought to herself, noting the streaks of gray in her purple hair. There always seemed to be something else to do, something else to prepare, but little to no time to take care of herself.

If she was being honest with herself, however, she preferred it that way.

Donning a lab coat that had already become something of a signature style during her near-fortnight tenure as a Gym Leader and grabbing a Pokéball from her desk, she crossed the construction zone and opened the door.

"Surprise."

"...Lucian. Come in."

The Champion of the Sinnoh Elite Four strolled through the half-finished Gym, marveling at its dramatic transformation. "You've certainly opened up the place," the former Psychic-specialist noted, indicating the bare walls and concrete floors where once had stood trees and vines, flowers and grass.

"Nature was never really my element, if you recall," Jupiter pointed out.

"Yes, you always were drawn to the marvels of technology. I'm surprised you never took to Steel-types, besides the one of course. Speaking of which...?"

Jupiter nodded, holding up the Pokéball she'd taken from her office. "Amalthea, come out."

The Elite Four member released his own signature Bronzong. "Europa, if you would."

The two Bronzong embraced each other warmly, Amalthea's eyes glimmering with gratitude toward the Trainers for the reunion.

Lucian smiled warmly at the spectacle, but his gaze grew sad as he looked to the Gym Leader. "I have to ask. Io and Ganymede--?"

"Gone." 'With their Trainers,' was the unspoken addition. Io, in a parallel to her Trainer Mars' relationship with Jupiter, had never really gotten along with Amalthea, but they had always put their feud on hold for the sake of Ganymede and Callisto, their respective children, who in turn were the parents of Europa. After Galactic's first failure, and her temporary decision to leave the team, Jupiter had chosen to take Amalthea to visit her grandchild in Ever Grande. Lucian's advice at the time had proven profoundly helpful; hopefully the same would apply now.

"I'm...sorry to hear that," the Champion replied, his sorrow sincere, if somewhat distant. "With hindsight comes perspective; I wish now we'd taken more time to visit."

Jupiter shrugged, the gesture belying her own pain. "I don't blame you, it happened so..." She trailed off, unable to finish her sentence.

Lucian nodded sagely. "Let's speak of something else, shall we?"

Jupiter couldn't answer, but cleared her throat while nodding in agreement.

"So...I hear you're already bringing in new Trainers."

The two Bronzong glanced at Jupiter in alarm as she suddenly choked in surprise. She waved them off a moment later, having regained her breath. "I thought you said we should change the subject," she managed to rasp out. She swallowed heavily. "How do you all keep finding out about my arrangement, anyhow? First Gardenia and now you?"

"My newest colleague I can't account for, I'm afraid--perhaps a local connection? As for me..." Lucian inclined his head, glancing over the rims of his lilac-lensed glasses. "I am the new Champion. It's my job to know these things." He pushed the glasses back into place before continuing. "Though it appears I was woefully under-informed. These Trainers are from Nova...?"

Jupiter tensed, but Lucian was one of the few people she'd trust with information this sensitive. "...Havoc. They're from Havoc."

It didn't take a Psychic-type to sense Lucian's response to the revelation. "...oh."

"Yes."

Lucian glanced worriedly at the still-muted television playing in Jupiter's office. "I take it you've heard--"

"I have."

An awkward silence followed.

"So..."

"Yes?"

"How have the preparations been going?"

"As of two days ago, they haven't."

"...Ah. Yes, I suppose that would..." Lucian cleared his throat. "I don't suppose there's anything I can do to help?"

Jupiter shrugged. "If you're staying overnight, you can help me catch some Zubat. I was hoping to give the new Trainers some Poison-types as a sort of welcoming gift, so they have something to use for the Gym. I've gathered a few Pokémon already, but I'm still short."

"Hmm." Something in Lucian's expression changed, as if he'd just turned the page of a particularly enlightening book. He spared a glance to his and Jupiter's Bronzong, carrying on in the corner of the barren room. "Would you like to know why I'm so partial to Bronzong?"

Jupiter shot Lucian a wary look, well aware of the former Elite Four member's verbal sparring tricks but still unsure of how to counter. "Because of how closely you and Europa have bonded?" she asked with the air of someone explaining the obvious. The Bronzong was, after all, the signature Pokémon on his team, in much the same manner as his predecessor's infamous Garchomp.

Lucian, to his credit, did consider the counterattack. "Well--true, I'll give you that. But the reason I was drawn to Europa in the first place." Lucian smiled, his mind's eye fixed on some pleasant memory. "Bronzor and Bronzong--they remind me of home."

Jupiter raised an eyebrow. "You...do know there are Bronzor in other regions."

"Yes, but they're native to Sinnoh--they were first discovered here, and even the populations in other regions tend to congregate in places most similar to their ancestral home." A gleam overcame the Champion's glasses as his enthusiasm overtook him. "The species represents to me the most compelling aspects of Sinnoh, our history, our flavor, our lore. To me, they are perfect representations of Sinnoh itself--and that's not to be underestimated."

The scholar found himself abruptly brought back to reality as Jupiter snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Hey. Ground control to Major Overthink. What does this have to do with me?"

With anyone else, the jab might have been taken more personally, but with Jupiter it was merely a sign of their familiarity. Lucian allowed himself a slightly condescending smile; as with his and Jupiter's type specialties, he held the advantage here. "As I was saying, the Bronzor family is a living symbol of Sinnoh. So tell me, what would you consider the Zubat family a living symbol of?"

"Precision, dedication, speed, and surprise?" In an unbidden flash, Jupiter's own Crobat flew betwixt them, and judging by the Mean Look she was giving him the Pokémon was not pleased with the man's tone.

Point, Jupiter, Lucian mentally noted, swallowing the "annoyance" he'd intended as his answer. "Conceded. But even so, it's not particularly symbolic of Sinnoh."

Taking a moment to consider the opinion, Jupiter found herself agreeing. "All right, I'll give you that. So what?" Privately she was starting to see where Lucian was going with this, but having already drawn blood she thought it generous to let Lucian have his win.

"I think you've already caught on. Jupiter, this Gym isn't just a Gym, it's an essential part of the Sinnoh Pokémon League. The League and everything involved with it--it's vital to the future of Sinnoh. This is how our region will be revitalized in the wake of the war and all the destruction it's caused. Don't you think this Gym--your own small corner of the League--ought to reflect that heritage?"

"Uh-huh." Jupiter allowed herself a grin at the Champion's enthusiasm--a real one, one of the first she'd had in weeks. "I don't suppose you have something in mind?"

"I don't," Lucian prodded, "but if I'm not mistaken, you do."

Jupiter snorted, uncharacteristically undignified. "And they say you're not a real Psychic."

Lucian drew back, hand pressed to his chest in melodramatic injury. "Oh! You wound me."

"Not yet," she denied facetiously, "we haven't even started our battle." At Jupiter's word, her Crobat swung back to hover in front of her Trainer, preparing for a friendly fight. Jupiter simply smirked at her eager Crobat companion, turning her gaze upon the Champion in challenge as both Bronzong turned to await their respective Trainers' commands.

Lucian tipped his nonexistent hat to the Gym Leader and her Pokémon. "Then I imagine we'll see each other again at the Pokémon League. Until that time, however, I'm afraid I must take my leave. The life of a Champion is sadly short on spare time. Europa?"

Taking a moment to give Amalthea one final embrace, Lucian's signature Pokémon returned to its Trainer, and then to its Pokéball. The Champion of Sinnoh took one last look at Jupiter before he opened the door. "Good luck, Gym Leader. Take care."

"...Lucian?"

"Hmm?"

The two exchanged a look, saying far more with one glance than any amount of psychic conversation could have carried. "Thank you."

With a nod, Lucian stepped out into the Sinnoh summer.

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#27 Offline Parugi

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Posted Mar 12 2017 - 11:53 PM

[Date: August 5th, 2017]
[Time: 12:37 PM]
[Room ID: Seashell]
[Interviewee: James Arthur]
[Interviewer: Archivist Booker Samir]
 
Everything ready? [Clearing throat] All right--let's get started. For the purposes of Team Liberty's Information Documentation and Archival Sector, this interview is being recorded both on video and on tape in the Seashell Room in the Alamo's prison district. My name is Booker Samir, Executive of the Liberty Archives. The current date is August 5th, 2017, and the time is currently 12:37 PM. [Sounds of paper moving] Mr. Arthur, would you state your full name and rank within your organization?
 
. . . My name is James Arthur, Field Executive.
 
Thank you, Executive Arthur. [Pause] Before we begin, I feel it necessary to inform you that while our primary interest is in collecting information on the incident at Cape Brink, part of the purpose of these interviews, and IDAS's role in Team Liberty as a whole, is to craft a full narrative around the larger conflicts involving our organization, that we may ultimately compose a comprehensive history of what has led to these and other events. To that end, there may be times where I follow after answers and paths that may seem trivial or difficult or unnecessary to talk about. Your responses are your own--you hold every right to withhold an answer or redirect the conversation as you deem necessary. Do you understand?
 
[Pause] I understand. Please, ask your questions.
 
Very well. [Pause; tapping of a pen on paper] Let's start with the basics. Obviously, you ended up involved with the events on Two Island--otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here right now. What prompted you to head there?
 
I decoded a message that originated from an established Ford agent, known as Tyler McKinley. The message detailed a location and a time. Two Island on July 31st. From what I am aware, McKinley gave the message to a Rocket operative, who gave it to another, who decided to contact me. I chose to pass on the message to Leader Goldhawk who organized the mission to investigate.
 
Interesting . . . Why do you think an Agent of Team Rocket would decide to entrust you with such a message as opposed to leaving it to decryption operatives within their own organization?
 
 . . . The Rocket Agent in question happened to be a relative of mine. My sister, to be precise. Still, I . . . never mind.
 
I see. [Note: Follow-up in future investigations.] Always a shame when family members wind up on opposing sides . . . Let's switch gears a bit. You said the message came from McKinley himself? Can you elaborate?
 
Hmm, I am guessing that McKinley gave the message to the Rockets as an attempt to lure them, or perhaps all of us there. The message itself was longer than it technically needed to be; he turned it into a riddle. I am grateful he did, however. With a longer message, it is easier to find patterns. The cipher he chose was rather famous among cryptologists which simplified matters. The only real problem was figuring out the passwords. Something I could have 'brute-forced' as it were, but a guess of mine turned out to be correct.
 
A stroke of fortune, then.
 
A stroke of convenience at least. I would have cracked it in time regardless. After figuring out what the passwords were, I am pretty sure I know what his inspirations for them were. Though, guessing them did take a certain degree of luck.
 
I take it this wasn't your first time working with encryption?
 
Heh. No, no it was not.
 

Good to know, good to know . . . So you decoded McKinley's message and accompanied Goldhawk to Two Island. How involved were you in organizing that mission?

 

Not very involved; Goldhawk decided to take the reins for the most part. I submitted a list of names of suitable agents. Some of these were chosen, while others he chose himself. We did not have enough intel to devise a comprehensive plan. After choosing the agents, he decided what route we would approach from, and the rest we would have to decide when we arrived.
 
Mhm; making do with what little time you had, as it were. And what did you find upon arrival?
 
To quote a common saying: "everyone and their mother were there." Sleight and a cohort of Rockets, Bounty and his Separatists, a separate group made of Liberty, Rocket and even Team Plasma agents. And there was somebody there who nobody among such a diverse group had heard of before.
 
Was this mystery figure antagonistic, or . . .?
 
. . . Good question. He provided us with intel that proved useful after the events that took place on Two Island, as well as provided back up for me on the Island itself. There was something of a incident, however.
 
I'm all ears if you would like to share details.
 
. . . I might be overstating it. At one point, during a battle, his personality shifted towards the aggressive, Galahad, my Togekiss, noted a drastic change in his aura, and he started lashing out wildly with the aura, nearly hitting my Pokémon. He stayed on our side after that, but the change was sudden and jarring.
 
I see. Could you tell me this person's name?
 
. . . He never actually gave his name. He was fairly short, silver hair, he had a scar across his jaw.
 
We'll keep an eye out for him, then. [Note: Follow-up in future investigations.] So a massive group converged at the scene. What did you find there?
 
The group converged at what first appeared to be a large crystalline structure. We split into two groups: Goldhawk and a number of our agents stayed at the surface while the rest of us entered. We followed stairs into a room. In the room were . . . memories. James Pierce's memories to be precise. An image of him appeared in the room, told us to leave, and when we said no, he summoned his Pokémon to block us. Agent Diamond, our mysterious silver haired 'friend' and myself stayed behind to fight Pierce's Pokémon to allow the others to pass.
 
After a harrowing battle, we emerged victorious, but I was the only who had Pokémon still fit for battle. The others returned to the surface and I continued on. There were eight other rooms like that one, each one for one of Ford's "Children". I am unaware of how many other battles like mine took place. I can tell you at least one other took place, but you would have to ask other members of the group to find out exactly what happened.
 
I caught up to some of the others and we reached one final chamber where the rest of the group was. In the chamber was Ford himself, surrounded by all nine of his "Children" who were residing inside pillars of light. Instead of immediately jumping to a fight, people started questioning Ford. He tells us that due to some magical contract, he was unable to directly speak of what he was doing, but he gave us clues to which we used to figure out what he was speaking of. That crystalline structure we were in? An egg.
 
An egg? [Note: Possible relation to "Alternate Beasts" dimension?]
 
Yes, an egg. One that when hatched, would release . . . [Pause] well, what we are dealing with now. The being that came from the egg, Ford said it was attracted to this world because of all the fighting in it. So his plan to stop it was to stop all fighting in the world, so he setup a magic ritual to 'turn off' anything that could cause violence. Pokémon abilities, human abilities, even weapons were supposed to be subject to it. The general consensus of the group was that it was worth letting Ford perform his ritual.
 
And what did you think of that plan?
 
. . . I maintained a healthy skepticism due to Ford's past actions, but in the end I favored the consensus. He was about to perform it, when one of our group gave a revelation back. Remember McKinley?
 
Of course.
 
He betrayed Ford . . . for the sake of that monster. There is something I neglected to mention. In one of the chambers right before the bottom, Shadow Admin Sleight and his wife were fighting a being known as Sloth. Sloth, being a reference to one of the Seven Deadly Sins. You may have records of Executive Vert and I fighting similar beings known as Lust and Greed.
 
Multiple records of several engagements, yes. We received others from Team Rocket fairly recently.
 
Right. You see, the thing is, as McKinley decided to shed his false human form and force Ford to attack us, Sloth was defeated. And afterwards, a sigil appeared. I do not know if this made it into the reports, but when Greed and Lust died, a sigil was left for a brief moment. And when the sigil appeared, so did that monstrous blob. I hate thinking I had a part in this, but if defeating those Sins was what allowed that monster to go free...
 
Some might say you bear some responsibility in that case, certainly. But I think it's fair and accurate to say that there was no way of knowing what defeating the Sins would entail, particularly for someone in the midst of confronting them.
 
. . . I suppose you are right. In any case, McKinley forced Ford to activate his ritual, deactivating all Pokémon power in the world. Not quite what was advertised as guns still worked, even before Bounty was able to activate a countermeasure Ford prepared. After that, we removed ourselves from the place as fast as possible. James Pierce and Quincy Adams were unable to escape, I am afraid. [Note: Review 3rd-party reports of Q. Adams and J. Pierce in order to compile fuller history.]  We managed to defeat some of the being's foot soldiers that it created using guns and our Pokémon's natural abilities as they chased us, but we would've been overwhelmed had we stayed. We retreated back to Four Island and that brings us back to the present.
 
That's quite a story.
 
Indeed. I wish I could say it was a fabrication of my design.
 
Do you have any thoughts on the recent reports from Two Island?
 
. . . No comment.
 
Noted. [Note: Executive appears reluctant, if not unable to provide thoughts.] Well, Executive, I have only a few more questions for you, so hopefully you'll bear with me. You said you stayed behind to combat James Pierce. Could you tell me a little bit about that--why you decided on that course of action, and what prompted your decision?
 
. . . Somebody had to make a path for the others and I had the opportunity to face Pierce in a battle once before, so I had experience no one else had. Plus, I have to admit there was a score to settle between us.
 
You had engaged Pierce previously?
 
. . . Yes.
 
How many times?
 
Just the once. But I got see some of his tactics. I fared better the second time around when his Pokémon were forced into a straight fight. Having allies did not hurt either.
 
I see. [Note: Double-check records for earlier reports of this encounter.] What about non-combative encounters?
 
If you recall the forum we had with the Hojohsin League, I was the one who found the witness needed to take him down. I humiliated him on the world stage, evening the score. He... remembered to say the least.
 
You humiliated him?
 
Did you see the news concerning the forum? He was arrested by his own government. All his machinations laid bare. By the time my witness finished with him, he was a sputtering wreck.
 
Of course--all questions are for the record. [Pause] That's a very impressive feat for one witness. Tell me more about them.
 
Piers Ebner, professor of theology and Pierce's twin brother. He was . . . unnervingly eager to testify.
 
How so?
 
. . . He asked me what would happen when Pierce was found guilty and delivered to our custody. I told him he would be imprisoned until the verdict of a fair trial. He was . . . disappointed. He told me that Pierce should have been executed.
 
Bad blood between brothers, it seems.
 
Remember how I said I figured out McKinley's inspiration for his passwords?
 
[Nod]
 
The passwords were Cain and Abel
 
Fitting. [Note: Further insight on J. Pierce to be gained from P. Ebner?]
 
I thought so as well. McKinley may not have been a pleasant sort, but he was accurate in this aspect, I will gave him that.
 
So did McKinley's clue lead you to Piers, or was he an unrelated discovery?
 
Unrelated. The clue that I found that lead me to Piers was obtained around the same time I fought Pierce in a Pokémon battle.
 
And what was that clue?
 
 A painting of his Alma Mater. Where Professor Ebner now teaches.
 
Mhm . . . Tell me more about Ebner. You said he was Pierce's twin and that he's a professor. What else did you learn about him--or from him?
 
Only a few more details. He and his brother came a wealthy background and entered college when they both still teenagers. He seemed to know about Ford, referring to him as an actor, a thespian. And he can condemn his brother with the same apathy one might have when talking about the weather.
 
No mention of involvement with Ford on his part?
 
He somehow knew of him, but other than that, none that could have been discerned.
 
Where is Ebner now?
 
Presumably back at the University. We returned him there while we went to go pick up another agent.
 
I see. [Note: Dispatch units on P. Ebner investigation.] Well, Executive, I think that's all for now. Do you have any closing thoughts for the record?
 
. . . One of our agents willing joined Ford before learning of the true threat. For that reason, I will be calling for an investigation into Agent Sonja Baron to see whether she should be court-martialed.
 
[End interview recording]

Edited by The 8th Sinner, May 08 2017 - 03:39 PM.

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#28 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Mar 21 2017 - 08:36 PM

Beginnings

 

Blood. So much blood. She was surprised that her body could even hold that much blood. Why wasn't she unconscious? The Mightyena had ripped her arm off, she should have passed out by now.

 

But no. Instead, she witnessed the blood. There was also a noise, a high pitched wail that she only just realized was coming from herself. Well, of course she was screaming. Just look at all the blood!

 

If she had passed out it would have been a great mercy. Her arm felt like it was on fire, which was nonsensical because she didn't have an arm anymore! Maybe if she kept screaming, the Mightyena would take pity and eat her head next.

 

Another sound interrupted the screaming that filled her ears, and she stopped. Someone else was shouting now. A small pebble hit the Mightyena on the nose, and the dark-type turned his blood-soaked snout from her to stare down his aggressor.

 

And the whole time, her arm pumped blood out to soak the grass she had collapsed onto. Her father would find her weakness to be contemptuous. Not only had she been ambushed, but she'd allowed herself to be crippled and done nothing to stop it except scream, fall, and bleed. And now she was being saved by humans.

 

The shock seemed to have worn off, and now her eyes were growing heavy. She felt almost peaceful, suddenly. Maybe that was just the blood loss. The last thing she saw before she finally slipped into darkness was the Mightyena running off and another human approaching her.

 

 

 

 

She awoke to far less pain than before. She was lying on something soft, and white light was shining on her. Looking around, she realized that she was in a human dwelling. Some device beeped nearby, making her flinch.

 

As everything came into focus, she squeaked. Sitting in a chair near the bed she was on was that boy. He seemed to be asleep, but as she made noise, he began to stir. He was short for a human, not even topping four feet. His hair was a mess of black, and his slate blue eyes were currently closed, though he seemed to be coming around.

 

As he began to wake, a door opened, and the tall human from earlier strode into the room. Seeing her, he smiled gently and approached. The child-human was rubbing at sleep-crusted eyes. She shrank back against the wall, watching the humans nervously. As she moved, she brushed her arm against the cloth on the bed.

 

Pain washed through her again, causing her world to go black. It only lasted a moment, and when she had regained her senses, the adult-human was sitting on the side of the bed. He held his hand out to her, a couple of small berries resting in his palm. “We aren’t going to hurt you, little one. Quite the opposite.”

 

When she made no move to take the food, he set them on the blanket and moved his hand back into his pocket. The younger human was chewing on his lip as he watched them both. The adult spoke again. “We’re going to get you back to full health, alright? We can’t do anything for your arm, but we can at least help you cope with only having the one.”

 

What was the point? She’d been weak, and losing her arm just made her even weaker. Her father would have nothing but disdain for someone who’d allowed herself to be crippled. Even if he and her mother would be willing to take her back, she would be a hindrance to the clan.

 

It would be better for someone so weak to just die.

 

The boy bit his lip. “Professor, what if she can’t go back? What’ll happen to her?”

 

The man sighed, putting two fingers to his forehead. “If for whatever reason she doesn’t adapt to life in the wild after this, I would have to keep her in my lab. But that’s for later. For now, we need her to eat.”

 

As he mentioned the food again, her stomach growled. She carefully reached out to grab one of the berries and bit into it. The man with the white coat clapped once. “Excellent. After you’ve eaten, we can get started on some exercises to get your strength back up.”

 

The Ralts glanced between the two humans smiling at her and nodded softly. Her father had often mentioned that there was strength in the community. Perhaps she wouldn’t be so weak with these humans.

 

 

 

 

Time passed, and every day she learned more about the humans who had rescued her. The boy was Xander, who wanted to become a trainer and help people. The man was his teacher, Professor Sycamore. The two visited her every day to help her with her rehabilitation.

 

A month after her accident, she was released to the Professor’s care. Xander carried her ball to the lab while she walked beside him. The boy had shown himself to be kind, talking to her about things like the weather outside, or the classes he’d taken from Sycamore, or the various Pokémon he’d seen that day.

 

More importantly, he never got upset with her, even when she was especially despondent or pretended to ignore him. Sometimes, she didn’t want to have someone talk to her, and he seemed to know when these moods struck. At those times, he would sit and read, or do some work that Sycamore assigned him. He made it clear to her that he was willing to be her friend, no matter what.

 

Life at the lab was far different than life in the Center. For one thing, she met lots of other Pokémon that the Professor had captured or befriended. They taught her the relationship between humans and Pokémon. When Sycamore asked her if she would help in demonstrations of battles and attacks, she agreed.

 

Over the course of a year, she became stronger, more confident in her abilities than she’d ever been with her clan. Part of this was getting out of her parents’ shadows. Part of it was the influence of the young boy who had saved her life. At the end of that year, she was no longer weak.

 

Xander took every opportunity he could to practice battling with her, and when he asked her to be his first Pokémon, she agreed eagerly. The two had a bond that was unshakable. Once Xander was officially declared a Trainer by Sycamore, the two left Lumiose to take on the Kalos Gym Challenge.


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#29 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Mar 22 2017 - 08:19 PM

Beginnings, Part 2

 

The alarm woke Alexander Cruize with a start. Half-falling out of bed, he hit the off-switch for his clock. He stared blearily at the numbers and frowned. Why had he set an alarm for seven? Even if today weren’t a Saturday, the professor’s classes didn’t start until nine, and it only took him half an hour to get to the lab.

 

There was a knock on his door, and then his mother came in, chuckling. “Alex, get dressed and go eat. You need to hurry if you want to leave with your friends today.”

 

Realization dawned on him and he bolted to his feet. “That’s today!” He rushed to fling open his armoire.

 

His mother chuckled. “I’ll have a plate on the table when you get downstairs.”

 

 

 

 

The other three trainers were already standing outside the lab talking when Xander showed up. Cameron, the oldest of the four, ran a hand through his hair and flipped it back as he smirked. “Cruize! Fashionably late as always!”

Xander had never been late before. Why would he be late when that would mean less time with the professor and the Ralts they’d rescued? He shrugged halfheartedly. “Yep, that’s me, a real Slakoth.” Dealing with Cameron had been tricky at first. The guy thought he was a lot wittier than he actually was. They had almost gotten into a fight before Xander learned to just let it roll off his back.

 

Blue-haired Octavyn glanced up from her Holo Caster and nodded to Xander. Her lightning-bolt emblazoned headphones were around her neck, blaring a heavily modulated cello. She opened her mouth and the other three turned to look at her. Octavyn’s words came rarely, but always had an impact.

 

She sighed and shook her head, going back to what she was doing. The fourth member of the group, Isabelle, chuckled softly. She was tall and blonde, wearing only the most expensive items from the Lumiose Boutique. “Well, now that Alex is here, let’s get inside!”

 

Sycamore was waiting for them in the lab. The young professor smiled as they walked in. “Welcome, junior trainers.” He chuckled, sweeping a stray lock of hair from his eyes. “Or perhaps I should just say ‘trainers.’ As of today, you are no longer students, no longer children. You are officially full-fledged trainers. Once you each select a partner pokémon--”

Cameron stepped up, grinning. “Me first, since I am Kalos’ brightest star!” The professor raised an eyebrow at that, but held his hands up as if to say ‘What can you do?’

 

“As you can see, there are three pokéballs here. They each contain one of the Kalos starters. Form your left to right we have Fennekin, Chespin, and Froakie. We’ll start with Cameron and go by birthday.”

 

The brash trainer grinned, grabbing the first ball and spinning it on a finger. “A fire type for the hottest flame in the region! Fennekin, I choose you!”

 

Isa shook her head and sighed as she stepped up. “Do you always have to be so loud?” She picked up the second ball and pressed the button. “Froakie would be my first choice - it evolves its own scarf - but I lost a coin flip with Octavyn, so I’ll take Chespin.”

 

Octavyn smiled shyly and took the last ball. “Thanks, Isa,” she said. Xander chuckled softly.

 

Cameron grinned. “So, Zander, you gonna wait until next year for your starter? That would be a pretty big disadvantage if you ever wanted to compete with me.”

“Actually, Sylph is going to be my partner.” Xander shrugged. “We’ve gotten pretty good at battling together.”

 

“Ouch. Using a one-armed Ralts? That’s almost worse than being a year behind.” Cameron chuckled, shrugging. “But if that’s how you want to go about it, that’s up to you.”

 

Xander scowled and headed back to the room where Sycamore kept the pokémon that he didn’t offer to new trainers. He grabbed Sylph’s ball as Sycamore followed him into the room.

 

“Don’t let him get to you, Xander. You and Sylph are a great team, and she’s gotten strong in the past year.” He put a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I know you’re going to do great things.”

 

Xander nodded lightly. “I am, but first I’m gonna make him eat his words. Sylph, you up for a battle?”


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#30 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Mar 26 2017 - 08:19 PM

Beginnings, Part 3

 

"Huh.  The toothless Trainer and the harmless Ralts versus Kalos' shining star and its fiercest Fennekin?"  Cameron grinned contemptuously at Xander, for once foregoing his (in-)famous hair flip for a more controllable comb.  "I'll allow it," he decreed, his mock magnanimity masking no pity.  There would be no holding back on account of the team's weaknesses, despite what his words implied.

He thinks they're weaknesses, Xander reminded himself.  His rival would soon find out that he and Sylph were neither toothless, nor harmless.

Cameron flipped his new partner's ball in the air a few times before clicking the button and slinging it to the ground with surprising strength.

 

The fire-type appeared and barked eagerly. Xander smiled as Sylph stepped up in front of him. Sycamore chuckled. “I’ll moderate, of course. This will be a one-on-one match, ending when one of the combatants is unable to continue battling, as judged by me.”

 

They were in front of the lab, where they would have more room and were less likely to break something. Sycamore spread his arms and looked between both teams. “This official battle of the Pokémon League between trainers Alexander Cruize and Cameron Morrill will now begin!”

 

“Light it up Fennekin, Ember!” Cameron pointed dramatically. The fox growled, a series of small flames shooting off of its body. Xander raised an eyebrow.

 

“Sylph, Teleport, then use Confusion.” He didn’t shout, didn’t gesture, nothing dramatic. He was going to knock Cameron down a couple of pegs, and part of that was not getting excited about it. Sylph vanished with a pop, the Embers missing her by a wide margin. Another pop signalled her appearance behind the Fennekin.

 

Cameron's Fennekin tried to turn in time, but only succeeded in presenting a better target; if the wave of psychic force hadn't been enough to Confuse her, the sudden uncontrollable continuation of her spin certainly was.

"Cool and calculated, eh?" Cameron quipped.  "Looks like someone forgot that ice..."  He snapped his fingers.  "Is weak to Fire!"

The Fennekin just darted her head back and forth, thoroughly dazed.

"Cameron," Sycamore began worriedly, "you might not have noticed, but your Pokémon is--"

"Wait for it..."

 

“Sylph, Confusion again please.” Xander shrugged. If Cameron wanted to keep going, then he’d keep going. Sylph raised her hand, wreathing Fennekin in blue energy and raising it into the air. Twirling her hand, she spun Fennekin around before letting it fall a few feet to hit the ground.

 

It was a mistake, if only a small one.  The weakened Fire-type hiccuped pathetically as it hit the ground--a wave of scorching flame bursting forth in an unplanned Heat Wave.  Despite the flames' ferocity, however, it was child's play for Sylph to dodge, and despite the clear lack of intention behind the blast, Cameron saw fit to stay smug.  "Now now, did you really think I'd let you off that easy?  I'm an eternal flame, baby!"

 

Xander's eyes narrowed slightly, and Cameron was uncharacteristically observant enough to pick up on the gesture.

 

“Wow, Cruize, you’re really showing your violent nature here. Maybe we’re seeing a darker side of your personality that’s only ever been hinted at before.” Cameron grinned. “But your dark moves are nothing compared to ours. Fennekin, Foul Play!”

 

"Sylph, Confusion once more if you will."

 

Cameron's Fennekin flipped into the air...and promptly faceplanted in front of Sylph, leaving it wide open to the Ralts' retribution.  Taking care this time to twirl its tail toward her this time, Sylph repeated her earlier maneuver, finally finishing the Fennekin.

 

"Hmpf.  Seriously?  Is that all you've got, Cruize?  Fennekin--"

 

“Is unable to battle.” Sycamore stepped forward, gesturing to the fox lying still on the ground. “This match goes to Xander and Sylph.”

 

Cameron frowned and pressed the button on the Pokéball, before shrugging off his own gesture. “Y’know, Xander, you’ve still got a long way to go before you’re ready to challenge me.” He returned Fennekin and flipped his hair. “Maybe learn some actual strategy before battling people.” So saying, he turned and walked away, leaving everyone else save Octavyn staring after him in shock.

 

“But . . .” Xander said before thinking better of it. Cameron would be Cameron, he supposed. He would make his own path through Kalos, and Xander sincerely hoped they didn’t cross each other again. “Sylph, come on. If we hurry we can get to Santalune before it gets dark.”

 

The Ralts nodded, and they walked in the opposite direction of Cameron, heading for Lumiose City’s south gate.


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#31 Offline Flipz

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Posted Apr 02 2017 - 12:51 AM

~Jupiter's July~


Part 4

Eterna City Gym, July 23

A full week had passed since Lucian's visit. True to the Hoenn foreman's word, his company had delivered--despite the devastation in Sootopolis still diverting most outbound supplies there instead. Less judgement, more jury-rigging, Jupiter reminded herself as she got to work. Arceus knows I'm in no position to do it. She happened to glance into her office, observing the tiny Tentacool swimming merrily through the new tank she'd installed in the back wall--an unplanned addition, and certainly outside her initial budget, but she'd make do. As harsh as she was to her fellow humans, she always made a point of caring well for her Pokémon, and the Water-type was no exception. Seeing the creature gurgling happily to herself brought a smile to her face--followed by a frown as she spotted someone unfamiliar approaching the Gym doors in the security monitor's reflection.

The new arrival--a young woman, perhaps around thirteen or fourteen based on her style of dress--approached nervously, hesitating a few moments before knocking on the Gym's glass doors. Unseen by the woman, Jupiter rolled her eyes; If she can knock on the door, she thought, then surely she can see the sign on them. The sign in question, penned with perfect precision despite the haphazard job she'd done taping it to the door in a fit of exasperation, bore a large "CLOSED" inscription, followed by an explanation of the rennovations and a simple concept sketch she'd commissioned of the final product. For all the good it's done in pre-empting people's questions. Despite the notices, and an official statement she'd sent Lucian to put out, she still received reporters' interview requests with infuriating regularity. And, it seemed, challenges--though that particular sort of interruption had finally died down in the past few days, perhaps as the League's statement propagated to more people. This one seems to have missed the memo, though, Jupiter considered as the young woman repeated her earlier gesture.

Still, she'd at least had the courtesy to stay outside and knock instead of barging right in, and the Gym Leader's patience for these interruptions had grown over the past three weeks. Jupiter found herself standing up and setting her tools aside, stretching lazily before heading to the front door. The Gym Leader noticed the girl had stopped knocking and was waiting patiently, a sheet of paper clutched behind her back. Jupiter opened the door partway and stuck her head out.

"Can I help you?"

"Umm...yes, may I speak to Gym Leader Jupiter please?"

"Well, considering you just did..."

"Oh!" The girl bowed respectfully, before presenting the paper to the Gym Leader. "Miss Jupiter, I respectfully ask that you allow me to train with you! Umm...please?"

Jupiter raised an eyebrow. "Train with me?" Well, it is a Gym...

"Please!" the young woman begged earnestly. "My sister, Jenna, was a Gym Trainer under Gardenia--I'd like to follow in her footsteps, please!" The earnest girl bowed once again, cheeks flushed with determination.

She's persistent, I'll give her that. Decently respectful, too. But still... "I'm sorry. But I'm not taking on apprentices at this time. You may come back again when we've opened officially." Like the sign says.

"Oh...I understand." The girl shuffled one foot sadly before tucking it behind the other. "I...really, yes. But if you could please take the letter anyway...?"

"...Letter?"

"Oh!" The girl blushed, then once again held out the paper she'd forgotten she was still holding. "Here, this is it. My sister wanted me to give it to you personally." The girl sank back into sadness, wilting once she'd handed the missive to the Gym Leader.

The older woman nodded dismissively to the girl. "Very well. You may go, for now." The last she felt forced to add--something specific in her demeanor making her want to soften the blow.

"Thank you. Umm..." The girl's body language tightened, her spine straightening and her fists clenching...but though it seemed like she wanted to say more, she didn't find the words she needed in time, and she softened once more. "Have a nice day, Miss Jupiter."

Jupiter watched her go before turning her attention to the letter. It was handwritten--nice touch, though it loses points on neatness--and from the looks of it, the letter had seen more than its fair share of being passed around. Didn't she say it was from her sister? How many hands could it possibly have passed through to get to me...?

The new Leader of Eterna Gym began to read.

To My Dear Teacher Gardenia,

If you are reading this, I am already gone. Please do not despair; I have grown much from our time together, and my Pokémon and my bond has blossomed beautifully. It has been nearly twenty years since I entered your tutelage, and I have not forgotten a single moment. The lessons we have learned together have borne bountiful harvests, and while there perhaps could have been more to come, I know that if I do not act, nothing will grow in our beloved Sinnoh ever again; all will be forever strangled in darkness. If we are to perish, we will do so in hope that those who survive have a world in which to grow.

But enough of what is, to you, the past. I'm writing to you for the sake of my little sister, Jemma. My surviving Pokémon will be passed on to her, and it is my hope that you will allow her to train with you, that their skills and relationship will grow together as they once did with me. I know that the days of Eterna Gym have long since passed, but perhaps under your watchful guidance she might receive at least some semblance of the bond we once shared. If this is not possible, then I humbly ask that you direct her to the most suitable substitute that you know. As always, I defer to your wisdom, Gym Leader.

Your faithful student,

Aroma Lady Jenna



"Croooooak?" Jupiter's Toxicroak asked from behind her. She, along with the rest of the ex-Galactic Commander's Pokémon, had paused in her work in concern for her Trainer, and now stood gathered just inside the Gym's entrance.

"Hmm?" The Poison-type specialist had been so absorbed in the note that she had forgotten she was still standing in the open Gym doors.

"Gym Leader Jupiter?" asked a uniformed officer passing by. To the Gym Leader's surprise, the figure seemed indistinct and blurry. "Is everything all right?" she asked.

Gym Leader Jupiter wiped her free arm across her face, wiping away the unexpected wetness obscuring her vision. "Yes, I'm fine," she replied, staring into the sunny Sinnoh sky. "Except...it's a terrible day for rain."

The confused officer looked above in confusion. "What do you mean? It's not raining?"

Fresh water marks marred the bottom of the letter, joining those already dried left by at least half a dozen others. Jupiter just shook her head, in no mood to explain. "It's...never mind. Just...thank you for your concern."

"Of course, Gym Leader."

The woman had no sooner left the Gym entrance and let the officer go about her business, than she soon rushed right back outside. "Wait...officer?"

"Yes?"

"Did you see a young girl come from here? About this tall, dark brown ponytail, green skirt and boots?"

"Hmm...was she wearing mostly black? With a Budew backpack?"

A Budew...? Never mind, not important. "That's the one?"

"She was headed towards the Pokémon Center, last I saw."

"Thanks," she said, passing the officer as she set off towards the ubiquitous facility. It was only after three blocks that she realized she'd left the doors wide open. Ah, well, she ruminated regretfully, my Pokémon can handle it. Some things are more important than security.

---------------

It only took a few minutes for Jupiter to jog to the Pokémon Center, and by the time she got there she'd managed to slow herself to a brisk walk. She started to search the interior, but it didn't take long; she spotted her would-be student sitting at a table, kicking her legs back and forth in the aimless way bored children so often did. By now, Jupiter's more rational mind had caught up to her, and she carefully weighed the pros and cons of her potential decision. Then she caught a glimpse of the girl's face.

Those eyes... She'd seen them before--in hazel, green, and every other color of the rainbow, a thousand times on a thousand faces. That unmistakable mix of young and old, of children forced to grow up too soon, mixed with the innocence of those mimicking maturity without truly knowing what exactly they were supposed to be emulating. Not for the first time, Jupiter questioned why exactly they still sent children out into the post-Rocket world so young, but she pushed the thought aside. After all, she admitted to herself, how many of my own troops were just a few years older than her?

It was that thought--the lost lives of Nova, too many of them far, far too young--that spurred the ex-Commander forward. "Is this seat taken?"

"Huh? Gym Leader Jupiter--!"

"Look," she warned without preamble, "I'm going to say this once: I am not Gardenia. I don't like flowers, I don't hug trees, and my Pokémon eat Grass-types for breakfast. Not...literally," she added hastily at the girl's expression of horror. "But you get the idea. I won't tell you 'love will make you and your Pokémon grow stronger' or anything like that. I'm not the sentimental type." She stared down her spectacles at the girl quivering before her. "So...why do you want to train with me?"

It was all the girl could do to stop shivering as she stared at Jupiter's unwavering gaze. But contrary to her frail appearance, she managed to answer. "The...people...no, the things that killed my sister..." As she almost had before, when she was about to leave the Gym, Jemma found some secret strength within. "They're out there. Maybe not the same ones, exactly, but other things like them." The girl stared down at the table. "I know I'm not strong enough to fight them. But maybe, if I'm smart--if I'm clever, like you--I can find some other strategy to stop them."

Jupiter studied the girl carefully. "Gardenia didn't send you, did she?"

Jemma shook her head. "I mean...I did show her. And she did say I should come see you. But..."

"...but you'd already decided. And you just needed a push."

The girl nodded.

"...July 31st. 6 a.m. sharp. Don't be late."

After a few seconds of stunned silence, the girl began cheering. Loudly. Jupiter immediately left the Center to return to her Gym...but even she couldn't make it out without a smile slipping onto her face.

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#32 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Apr 22 2017 - 03:43 AM

Revenge

 

The camp was set up in the densest part of the forest that comprised Route 20. A small fire flickered off to one side, casting everything in dim, eerie lighting. Alma Mason looked around quietly, trying to figure a way out of this situation.

 

She flinched when her gaze fell on the body. Belle. The older woman had fought with everything she had to try and let Alma get away. It hadn’t been enough. Alma had run, lost, in the woods for a little over an hour before being apprehended. Now, she hung from a tree branch by bound wrists. Her ankles were tied together after she’d kicked one of the men hard enough to make him vomit.

 

Her captors numbered four. One was her target, and the other three were members of his organization who had been nearby when her attempt on his life went awry. They were gathered around the fire, eating -- Alma didn’t want to think about what they were eating.

 

She took a deep breath and winced as she felt a sharp pain in her ribs. Her captors had worked her over pretty well after tying her up. She could only breathe through her mouth right now, and she could see only out of one eye. She didn’t want to think about the bruises that surely covered her right now, and she couldn’t begin to guess at what all was broken.

 

She closed her eyes and focused. The forest, like most forests, was laden with ghosts hiding in the dark. She could feel them, and she was trying to ask for their help. Unfortunately, they were hesitant to attack humans in the light. Her own team was trapped in their pokéballs, unable to free themselves.

 

Her target stood and rolled his shoulders as he approached her. “You never told me, little girl,” he said in his gruff voice. “Who do you work for? Why did you attack me?”

 

Despite the beatings, she hadn’t given them so much as her name. The only reason they knew she could speak was because she had greeted the man before attacking. While she hadn’t gone through any sessions lately, old memories of her father’s abuses still lingered, and the pain barely affected her.

 

Now, though, she licked her lips, swallowed a bit of the blood still pooling in her mouth from where he’d knocked out teeth, and spoke. “I was sent to kill you by my master. I don’t know why, he didn’t add it in your file.” She would have said more, but he slammed a ham-like fist into her stomach, causing her to swing on the branch as the breath exploded from her lungs.

 

“What file? Your master’s got it out for me? Who’s this guy? Talk, now.”

 

“You should concern yourself with other things,” she responded coldly. “Like the fact that when the sun rises, you’ll be dead.” His punch landed on her cheek this time, and she spun with the force of the hit. “You can beat me all you like. I will escape, and I will get my revenge on you.”

 

“Revenge? Revenge?!” The target pulled a blade from his belt, holding it up to her cheek. “You’re the last person who gets revenge, you hear me?! You attacked me, so I get revenge, not you!”

 

Alma glared at him defiantly. “I will get revenge for what you’ve done to me. More importantly, for what you’ve done to my friends.” She grinned. “You’ll die, knowing that no-one on this Earth can save you from my wrath.”

 

The man stared her in the eye for a second, then turned away. He stalked back over to the fire, growling. “You!” he shouted, pointing at one of his cohorts. “Snuff her.” The man in question stood and sauntered over.

 

Alma glared defiance, even as he put the gun to her head.

 

 

 

 

André Jacquet had enemies, he knew, but this was the first time anyone had actually sent someone to kill him. He was glad to put it behind him. After his men dragged the bodies off into the woods, he put them out of his thoughts. Glancing around the dark woods, he made an executive decision. “Let’s get outta here.”

 

“What?!” Fremont shouted. “Boss, it’s nearly midnight, we should camp out and leave in the morning!”

 

Beauford reached out and slapped the man on the back of the head. “Don’t argue with the boss, or you can join our new friends out in the woods.”

 

Fremont, the youngest and newest member of the crew, rubbed at the spot where he’d been hit. “Alright, alright. I just don’t want to get lost here in the woods, is all.”

 

André snorted, looking at the last member of their group. “Jacques, have you ever known me to get lost?” André’s killer shook his head as he cleaned the barrel of his gun.

 

“I’d follow you even if our map said otherwise, sir.” He holstered the gun and grinned. “So, lead the way. We can make it back to town before morning if we hurry, and no-one will be the wiser.”

 

The group started walking, not aware of the small, dark figure slipping up to where they’d had their fire.

 

 

 

An hour and a half had passed, and the men were getting antsy. Fremont was certain that they’d been going in circles, but as far as the others could tell, they hadn’t made any turns. They hadn’t even seen any side paths, so there was no way they could be lost.

 

When Beauford’s watch beeped for the second time, the new guy stopped in his tracks. “Alright, enough. Can we please set up camp, now? Admit that we’re lost and--” He was cut off as Beauford hit him again.

 

“Watch yourself, kid. The boss decides if we stop or if we make camp, and we don’t get to question it.” Beauford was a good enforcer, and André hated to undermine that, but still . . .

 

“Let’s make camp. We’re not getting anywhere like this, and there’s no reason to kill ourselves in the dark. You three decide how watches are split. Wake me as soon as the sun comes up.” The leader of the group sat under a tree and closed his eyes.

 

The others argued for a short while before it was decided that Fremont would take the first watch, and then wake up Beauford, who would watch for another hour before waking Jacques.

 

Ten minutes after everyone else was asleep, nature called Fremont. He made his way into the bushes. After he finished his errand, he turned and cried out as he was met with a pair of bright red eyes and a malicious grin.

 

 

 

 

The three older men were awakened by the sound of someone screaming in the distance. Jacques pulled his gun free as the two larger guys jumped to their feet. André looked around, growling. “Where’d that kid go? Beauford, did he say he was leaving?”

 

“No, boss. He was supposed to keep watch, and we just--”

 

“Shut up! You’re useless, all of you! We’ll keep walking, leave the kid to the forest!”

 

Jacques frowned, eyes darting around. “There’s a problem with that, sir. Our path moved.”

 

“What the ###### d’ya mean the path moved? We just got turned around ‘cause we slept!”

 

Jacques pointed up at the sky. “No, sir. The stars have changed their orientation in the sky. The trees aren’t going the same way.”

 

Beauford and André both looked up and shrugged. Jacques was their brains as well as their killer; they’d have to take his word for it.

 

“So, what’s that mean, then? Trees don’t just move, so --”

 

He stopped talking, as something rustled in the bushes. The men all turned to look and waited with bated breath. A second passed, and then the biggest Sableye any of them had ever seen stepped out, its jeweled eyes pointed towards them.

 

André glared. “Get gone, you.” The Sableye took a step forward, and he growled. “I said get lost! Beauford, deal with this.”

 

The giant man nodded and pulled a ball off his belt. “Let’s go--” Before he could summon his trusty Magmar, the Sableye jumped forward. Its claws dug into Beauford’s shoulders, and it slammed its large head into the giant’s nose with a burst of blood.

 

Beauford staggered back, crying out as the ghost-type started pulling chunks of flesh from his shoulders and chest. Jacques raised his gun and fired, three quick shots. Not one hit the Sableye. It dropped as soon as he raised the gun, and the rounds put holes in Beauford’s chest instead.

 

The giant was tough, but the damage forced him to his knees. The Sableye slipped back into the bushes, and André and Jacques took off down the path, leaving their muscle to die.

 

 

 

 

“What is going on in these woods?!” André shouted. The path they followed had looped, and the two remaining members of the gang found themselves back in their original campsite. The blood on the ground and the ashes of the campfire told them as much.

 

“The girl,” Jacques said, looking around nervously. “She cursed us with those demon eyes of hers.”

 

If Beauford had been here, he would have slapped the gunman for being stupid. As it was, the boss turned and glared at him. “Curses don’t exist, idiot. At least, not that humans can do. The little girl was just a little girl trying to play with the adults.” He went over to try and relight the fire. “We stay here for the rest of the night. We don’t move, we shoot anything that comes too close, and we head out in the morning.”

 

Jacques nodded as he sat down and began polishing his pistol again. “Yes, sir,” was all he said in response.

 

The two talked for an hour, but eventually couldn’t keep their eyes open. Slowly, they nodded off to sleep. In the darkness, a pair of red eyes looked at them, and a grin spread under them as the creature stopped its hypnotic waves. Now the real fun began.

 

The ghost reached out and cackled softly as small, bright ball floated into the camp. The wind picked up, carrying foul smells and dark feelings. Then, the creature screamed, startling both men awake.

 

For the final part of its act, the light creature released a burst of electricity and fled into the woods, leaving the two men singed, their ears ringing, and gagging on the stench of corpses and rot.

 

That was when the Poochyena struck. A dark shape except for some fur on its back, it lunged in from the darkness quickly. Jacques fell before he even knew what was happening. André staggered to his feet to try and lunge after the dark-type, but it was already gone. He staggered and fell to his knees. The trees seemed to encircle him completely, now, and he could see eyes staring out of the darkness at him.

 

Slowly, a figure appeared in front of him. He recognized the Pokémon. It was a Phantump, with its bright red eyes. This one had a hole in the center of its tree-stump forehead. Its form wavered, and for a second he saw it take the image of that girl.

 

She smirked at him before returning back to the shape of a Phantump. One of the trees nearby moved, and he cried out as he realized that it was actually a Trevenant. It grabbed him tightly in its branch-like arms, and more Pokémon came out of the surrounding brush. He saw the Poochyena, the Sableye, the Rotom that had woken them. Floating above them all was a Gengar. Its red eyes were narrowed at him, and the grin on its mouth was even wider than usual, in the most discomforting way.

 

André screamed as they closed in on him. He screamed, and he screamed, and he didn’t stop screaming until the sun came up.

 

 

 

Phantump - These Pokémon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died in the forest [. . .]

 

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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#33 Offline Flipz

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Posted May 08 2017 - 01:51 AM

~Jupiter's July~


Part 5

Route 206 Gatehouse, July 28

Jupiter had had a long day.

Not that it had been a particularly arduous one--aside from dealing with an obnoxiously forgetful Hiker who'd insisted on a battle from the Cycling Road but then completely forgotten her by the time she'd gotten to him beneath the biking bridge. Still, once she'd seen him into the care of his worried grandchildren, it had been smooth (if smelly) sailing to seek some Stunky in the wild grass below the well-known biking path.

Still, such a search took time, and she'd spent the whole day out in the wild among many Pokémon with a Stench like no other. Truth be told, she'd been a bit nervous about the whole ordeal--not the actual capturing, considering she was something of an expert on the line given her own signature Skuntank, but the timing was unfortunate. Between distractions and delays, she'd been hard-pressed to get the Gym even halfway presentable, and even still she wasn't completely satisfied. But more important than the building were the people who'd inhabit it, and she wanted to make a point of providing new partners to her soon-to-be protégés, so at the last minute she'd made the effort to finish her quest.

There was just one problem...none of them wanted to go with her.

Jupiter let out a harsh sigh of frustration as yet another Skunk Pokémon broke free of the ball, fled, and--most frustratingly--looked back in hesitation before ducking out of sight. She went to retrieve the capsule--damaged, as she'd expected, but there was no sense in leaving the device behind to litter the environment--before sinking back against a tree. The Gym Leader knew she was missing something. It was more than a question of strength, more than a fear of leaving their lives in the wild; somehow, something in her intentions was being either miscommunicated to or outright rejected by the Pokémon, and for the life of her she wasn't getting it.

She turned to her Skuntank, who shrugged. She'd thought it a show of both good faith and expertise--and it seemingly had improved the Stunky population's inclination toward her--but still, something at the end would inevitably drive them away. "What am I doing wrong, Skuntank? Why is this so difficult?" She still remembered meeting the Pokémon...her first Pokémon, or at least the first she'd captured herself. Back then, their relationship had been easy--both of them wanting the same things out of life, both willing to go after them the same way. Perfectly in sync--that's what everyone had told her. The duo had been so powerful, during the height of old Galactic, that every grunt on the team was tripping over themselves to catch a Stunky of their own, just like she was now--

A movement in the underbrush alerted both Trainer and Pokémon of another's presence, and both straightened in readiness for battle. "Who's there?"

It was not a Pokémon.

"Hi there!"

It was a woman, one who looked to be in her mid to late 30's. She was dressed in what appeared to be light brown boots, slightly worn blue denim pants, and a dignified green top. Her hair was long and black, her eyes a beautiful blue, and a very relaxed looking face. "My name is Maya. Who are you that I have come across?" The newcomer laughed, smiling at Jupiter.

"...Jupiter, Gym Leader of Eterna City." Jupiter evaluated the woman briefly, noting the ease with which she occupied her environment. Someday, she promised herself, someday I'll be that relaxed. But it is not today. And then: Wait...what does a Gym Leader say in this situation? Inwardly she cursed herself for her own flat-footedness, but she tried to project a suitable air of authority, her natural element as a former Galactic Commander. "So...What brings you out to the wild so late this evening?"

...okay so maybe she was a little out of her element. Ah well.

Maya cocked her head, as if she were sizing up Jupiter, and then reoriented her view. "So you are our new Gym Leader?" the woman said, projecting her relaxed nature even more. "I'm glad to see our Gym leader is trying to get used to her new home. As for me......."

As she spoke, a Sceptile followed from behind Maya, and looked at Jupiter curiously. "I'm taking a stroll out with my Pokémon, to deal with my restlessness. How about you, Gym Leader?"

Restlessness? To Jupiter, it seemed impossible for the woman to be any less restless, though she granted that she herself was a poor standard toward which to compare. "The Gym will be reopening soon," she stalled, "and the new Trainers I'm taking in will need new Pokémon to train. I'd hoped to catch a few Stunky tonight, but..." She gestured to the stillness surrounding them.

"I can tell you right now, you aren't going to be catching any Stunky." The gardener said in a helpful tone. "If I may, Pokémon are drawn to people......who they know could be their master." She nudged towards her Sceptile, who gave her a happy nudge. "I think you should take your trainers out, and have them enjoy capturing their partners." She then winked. "I could help if you are uncertain, Gym Leader."

Jupiter frowned. "I appreciate the advice, ma'am, but unfortunately there's no alternative. My Trainers won't arrive until the end of the month, and they'll need these Pokémon to meet the League requirements before the Gym opens." A pause. A decision. A breath exhaled. "Well...truth be told, they don't strictly need these Pokémon. I already have several Budew waiting for them back at the Gym, but I had hoped to offer them a choice...let them pick their own ideal partners, at least within our limited time frame. It's worked quite well for many of my subordinates in the past..." Something in her caught at the thought of her old team, a brief waver betraying itself in her voice. Why? My strategy is sound, regardless of its source. So why is it so difficult for me to follow through?

...because it's them. Because for all your logic it feels too much like the old days. Like exactly the memories you'd rather forget.

"Then again, perhaps you're on to something. Perhaps it would be wiser to dispense with the habits of Galactic." Yet for as much as she wished the words to be true, some part of her would not feel the truth behind them. Arceus. Please tell me I'm not turning into Zynthic...

"So that's how I remember you!" Maya said, snapping her fingers. "You were a part of Team Galactic. The people who, according to Professor Rowan, attempted to change the world." The woman looked at Jupiter, and then just shrugged and shook her head. "What I suggested, would also allow you to bond with your gym trainers. I was sort of a helper for Gardenia, so I know just a bit."

"'Change the world,'" Jupiter muttered bitterly. And for all the change we worked for, what's left is... The Gym Leader wrenched her thoughts away from her memories of the disaster at Nova. It happened. It's over. Move on. The mantra did little to quell her racing thoughts, but at least it gave her something concrete for her mind to grasp. Her heart pounded in her chest, pulse skyrocketing as the constant thump rang in her ears. The irrational part of her mind wondered incredulously how Maya couldn't hear it, while the rational side struggled to maintain the facade of confident expertise yet serene humility required of a Gym Leader. "I'm...glad to meet a second Trainer from my predecessor's legacy. If you know anything about making the best of an...unfortunate coincidence of timing, ma'am, I'm all ears."

"Well, first off, if you are dead-set on getting Pokémon for your gym trainers....." Maya started, noting Jupiter's struggle. "Try relaxing a little. Pokémon can sense how tense people can be, and know that they can be terrifying while tense." The gardener gestured to her Sceptile, who looked a little more on guard. "My Odolwa can tell that you are not exactly at ease." She said, sounding calm as she did so. "Mind telling why, if possible?"

Jupiter struggled with her feelings. "If...if I'm being honest..." What are you doing? Why would you reveal so much to a total stranger? "...well...it's not really..." She's trying to help you, why would you turn her down? "...I guess it started with..." You are a Gym Leader, Jupiter, show some spine! "...it's just...my Team..."

Memories washed over her.

A raw recruit, recently chosen as one of Cyrus' lieutenants, joy and fear mingling within her. "You three will be the face of Team Galactic. Do not fail us."

A prized Commander, smarting from her first real defeat. "Losing to some child... Being careless cost me too much."

Condemning her fellow Commander's weakness. "...Mars. You really are weak. Pitifully so. You make me embarrassed to be a Commander like you."

Losing to Lucian, her only friend after leaving Galactic. "I am the toughest of the Elite Four. But I know you have more in you than that."

The loss of the Orbs, and all the other setbacks after rejoining her old Team. "Team Galactic's not the same without Master Cyrus around. Is this really what we're left to?"

And at the last...Nova. "Obviously, I was wrong about you," Envy said to Mars, her voice under-layered by another, much deeper one. "If you will not use your potential, then I will take it FOR MYSELF!"


"No!"

Jupiter wrenched herself back to the present, though it seemed no time had passed. Slowly, she forced herself to breathe again, then unclench her fists. Blood oozed from her palms, though nothing a simple bandage would not fix overnight. Something fuzzy brushed her leg, and only a supreme act of will suppressed her reflex to lash out. Looking down, Jupiter saw her beloved Skuntank nuzzling her leg, the creature providing what comfort she could. As awareness returned, she looked to Maya Tierra with haunted eyes, feeling smaller than she ever had.

"Do you...do you know what happened? To Nova?"

Maya frowned and spoke. "Only what I know from the news, honestly."

"...Good." Jupiter closed her eyes. Skuntank still leaned against her, the Pokémon lending much-needed support to her Trainer. "Stunky...they were popular with Team Galactic. They were everywhere around base, every grunt and their brother seemed to have one. And I think..." She opened her eyes, staring past Maya at some private vision. "...I try not to think of them. The people. Their faces. All destroyed. All..." She couldn't--wouldn't--share what she'd seen in that room. She'd told the Teams of Envy's dark power, that she'd killed them all--and that was it. The precise details were a secret she'd take to her grave.

Even if it meant reliving them whenever her treacherous mind chose to call up those memories on a passing whim.

She sat down, leaning her head back against a small tree. Her pulse still pounded in her ears, but at least she'd regained enough presence of mind to recognize the need to complete her sentences. "Like you said, we tried to change the world. But in the end, our only legacy is pain and destruction. And no matter how hard I try, I just...can't...escape it."

Maya sighed. "It's not easy, I know." The Gardener spoke kindly. "You want to escape the shadow of the past, but yet it still haunts you. If you're going to let it do that, however, you've lost." Maya gave Jupiter a hard look. "You should use what you have learned from the past, and use it to propel yourself further. That's the best thing you could do!" As she spoke, Maya struck a pose, her right hand pointing skyward.

Jupiter nodded. She knew she should smirk or grin or...something at Maya's antics, but something wouldn't let her. She felt...well, frankly she couldn't tell. Not happy, but not...that. Whatever "that" had been. Or maybe still was, just not as much. She shook her head, not in disagreement, but rather in a futile attempt at clearing it. It didn't help. "Well, then, if I'm moving forward, I'd better get back to it. Thank you, Ma'am...Maya. I appreciate the advice." The Gym Leader stood to leave, but another thought spilled out of her before she could think better of it. "If you don't mind me asking...Galactic. Setting aside what...happened...are you glad we're--they're...gone? Is Eterna?"

Maya broke her pose, giving Jupiter another look. "Really, as far as I am concerned, I don't care." The trainer spoke. "As long as whomever remains isn't out to cause us more trouble, I'm fine."

Jupiter chewed her lip a moment. "...okay. Come, Skuntank." The two retreated into the brush of the wilds, and soon vanished from sight.

Maya, satisfied with what she had said and done, continued her walk with her Sceptile, whistling cheerfully as she did so.

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#34 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted May 30 2017 - 08:34 PM

RotR Reimaginings

Prompt: RotR where everyone is a magical girl (yes even the guys)

 

Jared watched as Xander continued to fight against the two senshi who were attacking them. Despite losing an arm in the transformation, the psychic senshi was holding his own pretty well with long-ranged attacks and teleportations to keep his opponents at a distance.

 

Despite this, he was giving up ground. The older woman had a few ranged attacks of her own, and hers packed a bit more punch than his did. Each time she attacked, Xander had to dodge, and that gave the shadow-girl a chance to move closer. She hadn’t shown any form of magic aside from slipping between shadows, and the knife in her hands implied that she didn’t particularly care about using her magic.

 

Jared hadn’t made the transformation yet. He was trying to make a decision. Ever since he had woken up, his dark half had been trying to convince him to use the second Familiar that they’d acquired. On the one hand, Jared knew what he was doing with Anubis, and the powers complimented his own fighting style well. On the other hand, Styx had an edge that Anubis didn’t have, and that brutality might be warranted here.

 

He could feel both of them vying for his attention. He closed his eyes and flinched as he heard Xander take a hit from the dragon woman. Grimly, Jared came to a decision.

 

The transformation was painful, which was not how it should have been. It was supposed to give a feeling of power and calm, not one of being ripped apart by your own magic. He felt his fingers fuse and form into long dark claws. White fur rippled in patches across his body, the rest hardening into scar tissue. Pain split his head as he grew the blade that was his primary weapon.

 

He roared as the transformation was complete. Styx and Mercury were ready to rip apart their enemies.

 

 

 

 

What was that? Xander glanced back at where his ally had been and froze in terror. Despite how long he and Sylph had worked together, he still sometimes lost control to her instincts. Right now, her instincts were warning them that the person they’d been working with had turned into a predator, a monster.

 

Xander was powerless to stop Sylph from teleporting them as far from the creature as they could get. This, unfortunately, put them right next to the girl who had been called ‘Alma.’ The ghost girl rose up from their shadow, cackling. Her blade sank into their back, and Xander cried out. There was a burst of pink-tinged light, and Xander and Sylph were forced to separate.

 

That likely would have been the end for them, but Jared -- no, Jared was lost to his Familiar -- rushed in, the blade on his head glowing. With a roar, the silver senshi slashed at Alma, driving her away from Xander and Sylph.

 

He spared them a quick glance before taking a low, primal stance towards the other two. He grinned, showing the sharp fangs that had replaced his teeth. “You know, I would have ripped you to shreds even if you hadn’t just attacked my teammate. But just for that? I’m going to make it especially painful.” He rushed forward, roaring again, leaving Xander and Sylph to try and fuse again.

 

The two failed, which wasn’t that surprising. The cooldown period between fusion was at least twelve hours, longer if you had strained yourself or been injured. While you could overcome this, it wasn’t recommended. The two could only watch as their ally attacked relentlessly.

 

 

 

 

Who even were these guys? Alma was only attacking them because they were standing in the way. If they had just moved like they’d been told, then Belle and Alma would be halfway through with the so-called ‘Hero of Reverse’ by now. The girl was definitely no fighter. She had tried to stand her ground, but once they had transformed, she had turned tail and run, leading them straight into combat with her friends here.

 

And now this guy was giving them more grief than even Roderick Krane had. Whatever his deal was, Belle would rather not fight him. In fact, she was actively trying to retreat, but he wasn’t having it. Any time she took a step back, he took a step forward and squared with her.

 

Oh well. At least this gave Alma the chance to attack their actual target while he was distracted.

 

 

 

 

The target had come back, leading two other people. Alma gave a sigh, even as she felt Shadow’s glee at new opportunities to let loose. While it would be fun, it would also mean having to get rid of more witnesses and the added chance of something going wrong.

 

The target had knelt by the boy Alma had stabbed, leaving her two new teammates between them. Alma glared. “And who might I ask are you supposed to be?”

 

The duo struck near-identical poses, a hand on their hip and a finger pointed high in the air. The man gave a confident, even cocky, grin. “I am Evan Tierra, Hero of Space!” he declared boldly. The wind suddenly picked up, blowing his brown hair dramatically.

 

The girl gave a slightly-less confident grin, but stated in a firm voice, “And I am Jamie Arthur, Hero of Time!”

 

Alma scowled. So, the so-called Hero of Reverse wasn’t the only one? That spelled trouble for her. Oh well, she would just have to kill them along with the original target to avoid having to make a second trip.

 

 

 

 

Xander took a deep breath as Dahlia focused on the wound in his back. She had this, he knew. She had come such a long way since their battle with McKinley. He felt the wound closing slowly, and grinned. “Hey, Dahlia, wanna try something new?”

 

When he told her the idea, the girl seemed a bit uncertain. “Xander, I don’t know if that’s safe. I might go too far.”

 

The psychic grinned softly. “No, you won’t. You’ve been doing really well with Jared, haven’t you?”

 

The girl hesitated, then nodded. “Right. Then here we go!” Light flared around them.

 

 

 

 

The man had transformed into a creature that looked similar to the coat he wore. Alma found that a bit odd, but she had more important things to worry about, such as the fact that the Hero of Time had just launched an Ice Beam at her. Alma narrowly dodged, and that brought her into position to see something even worse. The target had just used magic, despite not being fused with a Familiar. That wasn’t supposed to be possible.

 

Even worse, the flash of light signalled the psychic senshi she had stabbed turning back into his one-armed form. The boy was standing, using his sole arm to dust off his silvery skirt. Purple eyes locked with her red ones, and he smirked.

 

“Evan, Jamie, glad you could join us.” The psychic stepped forward, standing between the two Heroes. The man, Evan, threw a thumbs-up. “No problem, Xander. We wouldn’t want to miss the action, would we?”

 

Alma scowled, taking a step back. When faced with overwhelming odds, you had to get creative in your approach. This was such an instance. She would have to break the rule of transformations, and she would have to do it quickly. But first, she had to distract this group.

 

She threw her knife. It rushed through the air right at the Hero of Time, and Alma was fairly certain it would eliminate one threat.

 

But it didn’t. The girl simply glared at the knife, and it stopped, suspended in mid-air. What was that?

 

Still, it was enough. Their attention split, Alma reverted to her normal form quickly, then reached for the being of fire and shadows that her master had supplied her with. Her form grew, muscles formed, her skin was covered in orange fur striped with black. She snarled, fangs forming quickly in her mouth. She would regret this action later, but for now, she was strong.

 

She charged forward, flames swirling around her. The girl who had stopped her knife was covered in ice, which meant that this Fire Spin would do plenty of damage to her. Alma was almost upon her, but then she shouted. “Time will freeze!”

 

 

 

 

Belle finally got the dark senshi out of her way. She was fairly sure she hadn’t killed him, since senshi in their transformed state were tough, but she couldn’t be sure. She had used her Dragon Tail attack to twist his neck, and he had fallen. If she had killed him, though, she was fine with that. He’d been trying to kill her. She strode forward and growled. Alma, fused with Cuhulainn, was standing surrounded by unmoving fire, and surrounded by three other senshi.

 

What even were these people? The psychic boy from before pointed at her, and a man covered in purple scales and scars turned to smirk at her.

 

“I think now is a good time for you to give up. After all, we’re the good guys, so we have to give you a chance to surrender before we lay a beatdown!”

 

Belle scowled. How pretentious. Still, if they could neutralize Alma so easily . . .

 

She reverted and allowed herself to be subdued. A moment later, the original target was doing something to Alma. As Belle watched, the girl was forced back to her Shadow form, then back to her human form. Whatever these “Hero” powers were, they seemed to defy all understanding in magic.

 

This mission had definitely not been a success, and she had a feeling they wouldn’t get any other jobs after this.


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#35 Online Konuju

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Posted Jun 05 2017 - 07:33 AM

The Warrior's True Test

 

 

"This is Foxtrot to Tango. I'm in."

The girl brushed her hair out of her eyes as she crouched against a wall and carefully peered around the corner. Her eyes narrowed as she brought her wrist back up to her mouth and spoke into it with a soft crackle of static.

"No sign of the Legendary Pokémon. They must be keeping it well protected. Nothing I can't handle." She closed her eyes and extended a hand, her brow set in deep concentration on something. When she opened her eyes, her lip curled into a sly grin. "It's close. I'm going deeper in."

She tore herself away from the wall and was about to dart down the hallway when a firm hand grabbed her shirt from behind. "Going deeper into what?" a voice jeered. "Cuckooland?"

"N-Nora?" the girl choked, caught completely off guard by the sudden grab.

"Who were you expecting?" Nora laughed. "Joker? Ace? Seriously Zoe, you need to pull your mind out of your little games." She roughly threw the girl to the ground.

Zoe felt her face redden as she looked up at Nora. Her classmate had curly blonde hair, a rather exorbitant nose, and at present a most unbefitting sneer. "I-I was just on my way to class..." Zoe muttered.

"Really, now?" Nora smirked. "It sounded to me like you were in the middle of making a fool of yourself." Zoe was about to retort when a sharp bell pierced the air. "See you in class, Zany Zoe," Nora said, laughing as she walked away.

Zoe painfully picked herself up and for the rest of the journey to class, she was not a secret agent on a mission to find a Legendary Pokémon; she was a simple girl forced to go to school when she'd rather be playing. As she sat down at her desk and pulled out her notebook, her thoughts drifted back to her sister. While Zoe was stuck in school learning about history, Collie got to go on grand adventures through the mountains of Kalos as part of her aura training. Zoe longed to join her, but sadly, outside of her daydreams Zoe didn't have a single drop of aura powers.

How did people get aura powers? Was it genetic? Random happenstance? Aliens? Either way, the origin of aura would make for a far more interesting topic of discussion than the current lecture. Perhaps Collie could even come in one day to give a lesson on it, and demonstrate her powers. Zoe could think of more than a few classmates who could use a little demonstration . . .

"Zoe." Mr. Kallan's stern voice shook the girl out of her thoughts. She looked up at him, dumbfounded. "I asked you," the instructor said, each word spoken delicately as if he was trying very hard not to yell, "if you could name a famous trainer who has had a strong impact on Team Liberty. Maybe if you had been paying attention, you would have heard me the first time."

The girl slowly became aware that all eyes in the class were on her. Her lip curled into a smirk. Such an easy question. "A famous trainer? That'd be Collie. Also known as the great and wonderful Princess Dog-Ears. She's training to become an aura master, and then she's gonna destroy Team Rocket once and for all!"

The rest of the class burst into laughter. Mr. Kallan brought a hand up to his temple, letting out a long sigh. "Zoe, for the last time. Your sister is not the subject of this class. Outside of your household, she is not a famous trainer, nor has she had any impact on Team Liberty whatsoever."

"She has too had an impact!" Zoe cried as her cheeks flushed.

"I will see to it that that impact does not extend into my classroom." Kallan scanned the rest of the class. "Nora? Care to help Zoe answer my question?"

Nora quickly sat up straight, folding her hands under her desk and hiding what appeared to be a spitball. She peered at the chalkboard for a moment, deep in thought. "Um... Goldhawk?"

"Good guess," Mr. Kallan said, pleased that at least one of his students was giving an honest attempt. "As one of its founders, Goldhawk has a definite presence within Team Liberty. However, before Liberty's formation, he was a relatively unknown trainer. Anyone else?"

A young boy with pale blonde hair and an obnoxious smirk raised his hand. "Red, sir," he said without waiting to be called on. "As one of the trainers who helped to crumble the Team Rocket of old, Red was the perfect recruit for Team Liberty. He also won the Pokémon League, but I think he's most well-known for defeating Giovanni." The boy leveled his smirk on Zoe and Nora, pleased at outsmarting the two girls.

"Well, that last part's debatable," Mr. Kallan said. "But nicely done, Travis. Now, if you remember, Red didn't start out a powerful trainer. His journey actually began as a research project for Professor Samuel Oak..."
 

***


"Now, don't forget your homework assignment!" Mr. Kallan called as the students began to shuffle out of the classroom. "A one page report on what trainer or legendary Pokémon you would recruit for Operation R.A.L.L.Y. and why. And no, Zoe, you can't use your sister. I expect you all to do adequate research on this."

"Hey Zoe!" Nora laughed as they walked down the hallway. "Is your so-called Princess Dog-Ears your sister, or your pet?"

"Shut your mouth, Nora!" Zoe cried. "Collie's the best sister in the whole world!"

"If your lunacy runs in the family," Travis said with his trademark smirk. "Then your sister would sooner break the world than save it. Princess Dog-Ears? More like Princess Poppycock! She sounds like a royal pain in the-"

A sharp fist to the jaw shut the boy up. For a moment Travis gaped in surprise as Zoe glared at him with shaking fists. The next instant, he regained his composure and let out a sharp laugh. "Is that the best you can do, Zany Zoe? You punch like a girl!"

"That's because I am a girl, genius!" Zoe pushed forward to punch him again. "I'm a warrior princess!"

Travis was prepared this time. He swiftly moved out of the way, using Zoe's own momentum against her to send her crashing to the ground. "What is it with girls and princesses?" he asked, shaking his head. "Come out of La-La Land, Zoe. You're not a warrior or a princess. And neither is that sister of yours. The way you talk about her, you'd think your sister was Arceus or something!"

Zoe was fed up with this bully. Eyes watering from the scrapes on her elbows and knees, she pulled two Pokéballs from her pocket and threw them with all her might. "Esmeralda! Merida! Teach him a lesson!" A Fennekin and Meditite appeared in front of Zoe, ready to defend their trainer's wounded pride.

"How dare you threaten Travis like that!" Nora cried. She threw a capsule of her own, revealing a ruffled Torchic. "Peck!" The tiny bird flew toward Merida, jabbing relentlessly with her sharp beak.

Travis calmly smiled. "Nora, I'm perfectly capable of handling myself. You're making a grave mistake, Zoe." He clicked his Pokéball and a burst of water spewed forth, propelling a Kabuto into a stunned Esmeralda.

"Show them the power of a warrior princess!" Zoe crowed. "Esmeralda, Super Firewall! Merida, Aura Spirit Bomb!" Despite their much-stronger opponents, the two Pokémon did their best to execute the attacks. Esmeralda spewed forth a weak Ember that glanced off Kabuto's thick shell. Merida's Force Palm knocked the Torchic off her feet.

"That's the power of a warrior princess?" Travis laughed. "What the heck kind of attack names are those? Smack Down!" The Kabuto pulled its legs into its shell and launched itself at Esmeralda.

"Dodge it!" Zoe screamed. The Fennekin was already two steps ahead of her trainer; she didn't want that slimy crustacean anywhere near her. The Kabuto wasn't about to give up, however, and lashed out at Esmeralda again. The fox leapt back once more.

The battle continued in a similar fashion, with the Kabuto and Torchic slowly pushing Zoe's Pokémon further down the hallway. Esmeralda glanced at Merida and nodded. The two suddenly switched opponents, the Meditite directing her Force Palm toward the Kabuto while Esmeralda charged at the fiery Torchic.

The pair of attacks never connected. A nearby door swung open without warning, smacking Esmeralda in the face and sending her sprawling. Merida managed to avoid the door unharmed, but the sudden appearance of a leg was enough to stop the Meditite in her tracks -- literally, as she slammed into the unexpected appendage and could do little more than swing her arms around wildly in the desperate hope that the Kabuto might be within her grasp.

"Zoe!" The stern voice of Mr. Kallan alone was enough to bring the battle to a halt. His equally stern glare made Zoe wish she could be anywhere else at the moment, and she felt only a small relief when her teacher turned his wrath on her classmates as well. "Travis! Nora! What is the meaning of this?"

"I-I'm sorry, sir," Travis stammered. "Nora and I were just talking about battle strategies, and Zoe started attacking us!" Nora meekly nodded in agreement.

Mr. Kallan frowned. "Travis and Nora, you know better than to fight in the hallways. I don't want to see you do it again." Zoe opened her mouth to protest, but her blood froze when Mr. Kallan redirected his glare on her. "As for you, Zoe, you're to recall your Pokémon and come to my office."

"B-but--"

"Immediately."
 

***


". . . Completely irresponsible, totally unaware . . . her constant daydreams are not only a detriment to herself, but a disruption to the entire class!" Mr. Kallan paced back and forth behind his desk while Zoe sank further and further into her chair.

Even without aura powers, Zoe could practically feel the frustration and disappointment hanging in the air, emanating not only from her teacher, but from her parents, who sat on either side of her. As Mr. Kallan rambled on, Zoe started to wonder if by feeling those emotions she was displaying some form of aura abilities. She gripped the sides of her chair and tried to focus. Maybe if she could concentrate enough to form an aura sphere, everyone would realize her potential and stop being mad at her.

In a fashion that almost made her believe she was somehow harnessing aura, Zoe's own frustration echoed with that of her parents and teacher. She couldn't believe Travis had outright lied to Mr. Kallan; and worse, both he and Nora had gotten away with it! If Collie had been by her side, no one would have doubted Zoe's claims that she had been falsely accused.

". . . To make matters worse, her last test grades were abysmal," Mr. Kallan continued. "She'll need to seriously get her act together if she wants to succeed in the Liberty Academy and become an agent one day."

That got Zoe's attention. "No!" she cried. "I'll do better, I promise! I have to become a Liberty Agent!"

"That's what you said the last time," her mother pointedly reminded her.

"You claim to have the motivation," Mr. Kallan said, planting his hands on the desk and focusing his eyes on Zoe. "Yet you continue to depart on your insufferable daydreams. If you want to prove your desire to learn, I think you should consider an extra credit project to help boost your grade."

"You mean more work?" Zoe wrinkled her face in disgust.

"Without this project," Mr. Kallan warned, "you're at serious risk of flunking out of the Academy. I'd weigh your options carefully if I were you, Zoe."

"Don't look so miserable, Zoe," her father said, patting her shoulder with an encouraging chuckle. "You might end up really enjoying this project." He looked up at Mr. Kallan. "Er . . . what would it entail, exactly?"

The teacher allowed himself a small smile, one that Zoe imagined to be far more sinister than it actually was. "I'm thinking an ecology project," he said. "To perhaps give you a better appreciation for the Pokédex Holders of old. You will study one of the natural habitats on Four Island and list what types of Pokémon you find there. I'll expect a written report within a month."

Zoe grew more and more devastated with each word. Much to her chagrin, her parents seemed pleased with the arrangement. "Collie never had to do anything like this," she grumbled.

Her father's face lit up. "As a matter of fact, she did! Remember that fishing rod she gave you last summer? She used a similar rod as part of her training."

"Yeah, but Collie didn't have to write a report." Zoe pursed her lips.

"Fishing is a good method of developing patience," Mr. Kallan said thoughtfully. "Yes, I think that would work out quite nicely. We've got plenty of lakes and rivers on the island; not to mention, an entire ocean around us! Yes, you should document what types of Pokémon you can catch with your fishing rod."

"Assuming I can even catch anything," Zoe grumbled. She gave one last pleading look at her parents. But it was obvious that there was no arguing the matter. Her playtime for the next month was practically nonexistent.
 

***


"This is the sacred art of the aura master. A secret skill passed down from generation to generation. For herein lies the source of the aura master's limitless power. The secret to defeating all enemies. What is that secret, you ask?" A sly grin formed on Zoe's lips. "It truly is an incredible secret. A power beyond all others. You see, with this weapon in her hands, an aura master gains the ability to bore everyone to death!"

Zoe flung herself backwards, letting her fishing pole flop uselessly in the grass as she sprawled out beside it. "Out of all the aura training exercises in the world, why did I have to get stuck with the most boring task?"

Esmeralda, who had been lightly napping by the shore, padded over to her trainer and gently licked her face. Merida, on the other hand, slumped next to Zoe and the fishing pole with a melodramatic sigh. They were at a small lake – or fishing hole, as Zoe's parents had called it – faced with the daunting task of Zoe's school project. One way or another they had to document the Pokémon living in the lake, and they were armed only with an old fishing pole and a notebook. Clearly the fish found the project equally unappealing, because they refused to tease Zoe with even the slightest nibble on the hook.

"Why couldn't we study the cooler parts of aura training?" Zoe bemoaned. With a grin she climbed to her feet, wielding the fishing pole in her hand like a sword. "The mightiest of foes shake in their boots at the power of Aura Warrior Zoe! Her very name strikes fear in their evil hearts! Hya!" With a twirl of her makeshift blade, the girl slashed and stabbed at the air with such contagious enthusiasm that even Esmeralda got up to prance alongside her merrily. Merida did her best to mimic her trainer's movements, substituting Zoe's fishing sword with her own Force Palms.

"With such a powerful Aura Warrior on their side, Team Liberty stands as an unstoppable force in the war! Team Rocket falls before their might! Even Rocket Shadow Sleight doesn't stand a chance before Super Aura Warrior Zoe!" She struck her pole against a gnarled oak with so much force that the pole rebounded, sending her stumbling backward. After one step too many she lost her footing and with a yelp and a splash found herself sitting in the pond.

"Ahh . . . but a sneak attack sends the brave Aura Warrior into a muddle of a puddle." Zoe groaned as she felt the pond water soak through her clothes. How was she going to explain this to her parents? "They'll probably yell at me for swimming when I should be fishing. Well, it's not my fault the best fish are in the middle of the- eeeeek!"

Something wet and slimy touched her arm and with a very unwarrior-like shriek Zoe sent the perpetrator flying through the air. After several heart-pounding moments of floundering about to ward off any other monsters of the deep, Zoe realized she was safe from harm. Gathering her composure as swiftly as her clothes had gathered water, she stood up and waded back to dry land.

It was only after she had climbed ashore that she noticed Esmeralda curiously sniffing at a ragged-looking fish. It was the slimy creature she had unceremoniously flung through the air. Zoe's nose wrinkled in disgust. "After all that trouble, you'd think I'd at least get a decent-looking fish, not one that looks like it crawled out of a rock." A closer inspection only reinforced her initial judgement; the fish's fins were so tattered and frayed they looked like they could fall off at any moment. The main body was a speckled brown that made Zoe think of old people. And the gaping mouth suggested the creature's intelligence was akin to that of a Magikarp.

The fish quickly proved to at least be intelligent enough to know when it was being insulted. As if it had been strapped to an invisible catapult, the fish suddenly flung itself into the air and began flailed about in Zoe's face. The girl shrieked and stumbled back, landing in the shallow water once more.
"Esmeralda, stop that thing!" Zoe sputtered. "Super Aura Fire Blast!" The Fennekin's small embers did little against the flailing fish, and Esmeralda quickly found herself knocked into the pond as well, floundering in defeat.

With both her allies beaten, Merida took it upon herself to save the day. Closing her eyes, she reached out with one hand to sense the enemy's aura like she had seen Zoe do countless times. This left her vulnerable to attack, and the cunning fish struck at Merida's blind spot – that is, it struck her head-on. The Meditite flailed about before losing her balance and lying motionless in a daze among the grass.

Undefeated three for three, the victorious fish flopped its way back into the pond, making sure to give Zoe a final splash before disappearing beneath the rippling waves. Zoe and Esmeralda crawled ashore, the former checking on Merida while the latter bemoaned her sopping fur. The trio left in humiliating defeat.
 

***


Amidst her pain and suffering, Zoe considered giving up the mantle of Aura Warrior in favor of Clairvoyant. True to her predictions, her parents gave her a lengthy lecture first about tracking mud in the house, then about her 'decision' to go for a swim instead of working on her project. Sadly, even though she saw it coming, there was nothing she could do about it.

To make matters worse, she hadn't even documented the Pokémon that had caused this whole mess. Zoe tried to reconcile this problem by sketching the insufferable fish from memory, but her mother took one look at the drawing and scolded her for using make-believe Pokémon out of her daydreams instead of doing actual research. To be fair, depicting the fish launching itself out of a cannon and firing Dark Aura Spheres was a bit of a stretch. Still, Zoe found it remarkably unjust for a future agent of Team Liberty to be denied any and all artistic liberty.

Needless to say, Zoe was in a foul mood when she returned to the lake after school. She planted herself at the water's edge and yelled with all her might. "Come on out, you stupid fish! I'm not through with you yet!" The smooth surface of the lake made no response to her challenge. Undeterred, Zoe scoured the shoreline for the biggest rock she could find and hurled it into the water. "What's wrong, are you scared? Why don't you show your ugly face?!"

That prompted the fish in question to launch itself out of the water to begin flailing on the rude, insolent girl. Zoe was ready – at least she thought she was. She reached out to grab the fish, but its slimy scales slipped from her fingers.

"Get back here!" Zoe cried as she, Merida, and Esmeralda tried in unison to tackle the aquatic perpetrator. They only succeeded in dogpiling on each other, leaving the fish to flop mirthfully back into the lake. In a last ditch effort to secure her prisoner, Zoe broke free of her Pokémon and dove after the fish. But her enemy was now in its home turf and easily swam out of reach, leaving Zoe to crash into the shallow waters. The jolt rattled her bones and she lay stunned and soaked.

Determined to teach the troublesome girl a lesson, the fish began mercilessly flailing on its powerless opponent. When Merida and Esmeralda rushed to their trainer's aid, the fish just splashed in the deeper waters where they could not follow.

With what little energy she had left, Zoe pulled herself ashore and collapsed in the grass, her eyes red with tears. Ordinarily she would use this opportunity to self-narrate her own defeat, but she wasn't in the mood. "It's not fair," she sobbed. "I wasn't even supposed to do this stupid project. It's all Travis' fault; he's the one who lied about me. He hates me. Mr. Kallan hates me. The whole world hates me. Collie, why aren't you here when I need you most?"

Something in the sudden shift in the girl's tone tugged at the fish's heartstrings. It slowly approached, watching the girl from the shallows. Esmeralda gave a growl of warning, and Merida would have tried to chase the enemy away had she not been busy comforting Zoe.

Hearing the commotion, the girl looked up to see the fish staring back at her. She buried her face back in the dirt. "Go ahead," she mumbled. "Slap me all you want. Maybe if you hit me hard enough, someone will actually believe me about the demon fish."

The fish jumped out of the water, eliciting a cry of warning from Merida. The Meditite left Zoe's side to try and ward off the assailant, but every time she punched the fish, it got back up and approached from another angle. When it finally got past Merida, the fish lay itself on the ground next to the girl. Esmeralda barked and bit the fish, tossing it back in the water and prompting the entire process to repeat itself. Every time the fish made it to Zoe, it would simply lay there in front of her, refusing to defend itself against Esmeralda and Merida's attacks.

"Wait." Zoe sniffed and sat up, rubbing the tears from her eyes. The fish looked up at her, its vacant expression appearing almost . . . apologetic. "Why?" she asked. "Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?" In response the fish waved a tattered fin. Zoe picked up her former aggressor and cradled it in her arms. "You . . . you understand my pain?" Fresh tears poured from her eyes. "I'm sorry I called you ugly. You see, I have this project I have to do. I need to document you. Take notes; draw pictures; that sort of thing." She explained how she had been set up and forced into this project as a form of punishment. "If I don't do this, I'll never become a Liberty Agent like my sister. And that's my biggest dream in the whole world. I guess I just took out my frustration on you. I'm so sorry."

If the fish could have given her a hug, it would have. Instead it flopped over to the girl's bag and came to a rest next to her notebook. With another sniffle, Zoe smiled and got to work on her project.
 

***


Over the next few weeks Zoe spent most of her time at the lake out of choice. Her new fish friend was eager to help, and herded the lake's other occupants toward the shoreline for Zoe to document. Perhaps 'herded' wasn't the most accurate term. More often than not the fish, whom Zoe had dubbed Eilonwy, would race ashore chased by the other creatures of the deep. Zoe quickly learned that Eilonwy was not well liked within the lake. Whether they shunned her because of her tattered fins, or her fins were tattered as a result of their bullying, it was hard to say. Nevertheless, Zoe and Eilonwy quickly formed a unique friendship over their similar rejection by their peers.

When Zoe grew bored with her project, she would set down her notebook and play with her new friend. Eilonwy was happy to join in her make-believe games of aura wielders and warrior princesses, and proved a valuable sparring partner for Esmeralda and Merida.

As the days grew warmer, Zoe would spend her weekends at the lake working on her project. That is, if swimming in the lake with her fish friend constituted as working. If the inclusion of "warrior mermaid princess" to the ranks of "aura wielder" in her vernacular hadn't tipped off her parents as to what she was really doing, the fact that her swimsuit kept showing up in the laundry certainly did. But they couldn't complain, for their daughter was not only happier overall, she was showing remarkable enthusiasm and progress on her project. From Finneon to Wooper, Zoe was starting to amass quite the illustrated handbook, even if her descriptions were a little over-the-top at times.

Her teacher, however, saw little improvement. Zoe's daydreams turned from Collie to Eilonwy, and she had a heightened enthusiasm anytime the discussion turned to water Pokémon. Too much enthusiasm, one might say.

"Let's suppose you come across a Ninetales," Mr. Kallan said to his class. "What would be the optimal water attack to use on it?"

"Dragonbreath!" Zoe blurted out before any of her classmates could raise their hand.

It took every ounce of effort for Mr. Kallan to maintain his composure. "Zoe, Dragonbreath is not a water attack," he muttered as he rubbed his temple.

"But fishes use it!" Zoe insisted. "I've seen it! It's their ultimate attack! They breathe dragons!"

Mr. Kallan gaped in utter disbelief. "They. Breathe. Dragons. Zoe, why-?"

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Nora jeered.

"Nora, if you have an answer, please raise your hand."

Nora raised her hand. "Everybody knows that dragons breathe fire. So if fish breathe dragons, the dragons will breathe fire, and it won't do a thing against the Ninetales. It just leaves Zoe as a scorched pancake." The whole class erupted into laughter.

The rest of the day went about as well for poor Mr. Kallan. By the end of it, he was seriously starting to question his decision to teach rowdy preteens. His only consolation was that it was Friday and he had a whole weekend ahead of him. But before he could run off to rethink his life choices, he called Zoe to his desk.

"Zoe, I really hope your project is of a higher caliber than your participation in class."

"I'm not lying, Mr. Kallan!" Zoe cried. "Let me bring in Eilonwy and I'll show you, she can use Dragonbreath!"

"And what kind of fish is this... Eilonwy?"

"A good fish!"

"Zoe, it's not that I don't believe you, but you have a tendency to exaggerate things. You have a wonderful imagination but please, for the sake of my sanity, can you tone it down like twelve thousand notches? I don't need to remind you that your project is due Monday. I'd better not see any, ah... coloring of the facts."

"Oh, don’t worry Mr. Kallan!" Zoe grinned. "I'm only using black ink. No color in these facts!" Leaving her teacher in dreadful anticipation of what he would find on Monday, Zoe skipped away, humming merrily to herself.

"What's this about a project?" Travis smirked as he stuck out a leg and tripped Zoe on her way down the hall. "Zany Zoe, are you really so absentminded that Mr. Kallan had to give you extra work to do?"

"I bet it has to do with those dragon-breathing fish!" Nora cackled.

"Shut up!" Zoe tried to hide the pain from her fall. "It's all your fault, anyway. You lied to Mr. Kallan, and you know it!"

It took Travis several moments to realize what she was talking about. "Oh, that. Yeah no hard feelings, Zo. It just goes to show that Kallan trusts me more than he trusts you."

"Who would believe you over Travis, anyway?" Nora sneered.

"You take that back!" She could no longer hold back her tears, or her anger. "I've been training with my fish friend, I'm stronger than last time! Esmeralda, show him who-"

"Ah, ah, ah." Travis wagged a finger. "I wouldn't do that if I were you. Kallan's already mad at you. You know what he'd say if he caught you attacking us again."

Zoe had to admit Travis had a point. She'd only get another dreadful project for herself. In lieu of physical jabbing she went for a simple verbal approach. "Stupid-head." This assault was accompanied by sticking out her tongue before running off to a place where she could cry freely.
 

***


She spent the afternoon spilling her heart out to Eilonwy. The fish listened plaintively and offered what support she could. She flopped up and lightly struck Zoe to remind her that she too had once said mean things about Eilonwy. This elicited a chuckle from the girl. "I guess I can be a bit of a stupid-head myself sometimes, huh?"

Although she knew she should be putting the finishing touches on her report, Zoe spent all day Saturday swimming in the lake with Eilonwy. After a stressful week, she reasoned, she needed the break. Merida also joined in the fun, but Esmeralda chose to remain on the shore, occasionally dipping her paw into the water to splash at her friends. Sunday was much the same. Despite the fast-approaching due date of the project looming over her, Zoe felt she'd much rather laze about in the lake than document details that would inevitably be condemned as "colorful." She would have spent the whole afternoon drifting about had her father not shown up unexpectedly.

"There you are, Zoe!" The man had to pause to catch his breath and urgently motioned for her to swim ashore. Zoe did so reluctantly, knowing that with dry land would come a stern lecture about how she was supposed to be finishing her project. To her surprise, the lecture never came. Her father threw her a towel. "Dry off and put Merida and Esmeralda back in their Pokéballs." Zoe stared in befuddlement. "Quickly!"

Zoe didn't even have time to say goodbye to Eilonwy or so much as ask what was happening before her father grabbed her hand and led her through the trees back toward Vier Village. It was all Zoe could do to keep from stumbling as her father half-dragged her along in a silent tension.

When they finally got home, her father went around the house, closing the blinds in all the windows. His panicked behavior worried Zoe. "Daddy, what's going on?"

Her father knelt beside her. Although he tried to hide it, up close she could see his hands were trembling. "Listen Zoe, I'm going to have to go out for a while. You need to stay here, okay? Don't answer the door for anybody, and don’t go outside. Your mother and I will be back before you know it." Leaving Zoe to piece together the meaning behind those ominous words, her father gave her a kiss before hurrying out the door.

The house had never felt so quiet. The neighbor's lawnmower sounded in a constant drone, but it felt far away. For a long time Zoe did nothing. After changing out of her swimsuit, she just stood in the living room, playing her father's words over and over again in her mind. The minutes ticked by, leaving her in fearful isolation. It wasn't until she gave up and tried to watch some television to take her mind off things that she finally learned what was going on.

"We interrupt this program for an emergency news broadcast." Zoe would have flipped the channel to a non-interrupted program, but the remote clattered to the floor when she saw a video of a trail of smoke rising from a crater in the Alamo. "Team Rocket has launched a full-scale invasion on Four Island. They have fired missiles at the Alamo and several Liberty executives are already confirmed dead. While the Rocket forces seem to be focused on the Liberty base at the north end of the island, all citizens of the island are advised to seek shelter immediately and remain indoors until further notice."

It was like something out of a dream. It took several long moments for Zoe to process what she was seeing, and even longer for her to believe it. Fear. Panic. Confusion. The mixture of emotions immobilized her with indecisiveness. The enthusiast in her saw this as the perfect opportunity to live out her fantasies of kicking Rocket butt and proving herself a true warrior princess. The realist in her saw this as the perfect opportunity to get herself killed. The realist spoke the loudest, stomping the enthusiast into submission.

She muted the television. The neighbor was still mowing their lawn. What was she supposed to do? Duck and cover? Wait for her parents to drive off the Rockets? How long would that take? What if the Rockets came to her door? To where would she run? As panic rose, so too did the dull droning in her ears.

That was when the realization hit her. Nobody was mowing the lawn. A peek through the window blinds confirmed her suspicions. The sky was dotted with dozens of helicopters surrounding a gigantic airship. Team Rocket was on the move. And they were headed straight for—

"Eilonwy!"

A new fear rose in Zoe, not for her own life but for that of her fish friend. The Rocket helicopters were headed in the direction of the Alamo, but many of them spread as far as the small forest that lay between the Liberty base and Vier Village. Eilonwy was a steadfast little fish, but she wouldn't stand a chance if Team Rocket launched missiles at the lake. The fighting was all at the Alamo, she reasoned. All she had to do was get to the lake, grab Eilonwy, and run back home. No one would even know she had been gone.

It took only a few minutes to gather the necessary supplies: a yo-yo, a water gun, an old spyglass, three cans of soda, and two hairties. The lattermost she used to tie her hair up into her best replica of her sister's trademark dog-eared hairstyle. When she was satisfied, the girl gripped the locket around her neck and took several deep, shaky breaths. "A-aura is with me." Heart pounding, she grabbed her backpack full of gear and stepped out the door.

Zoe found herself in the middle of a waking nightmare. The colossal airship blotted out the sun, casting the island in an artificial darkness. A harsh wind blew through the empty streets, churned by the hundreds of spinning helicopter blades. Black smoke rose in the west, the dying breath of Team Liberty's infallible fortress. And while every muscle in her body was screaming at her to run the other way, Zoe continued as fast as her legs would carry her toward the doom and destruction.

After what felt like an eternity, she arrived at the lake that had consumed so much of her time. "Eilonwy!" she cried as she kneeled over to catch her breath. "Eilonwy, where are you?!" The lake merely rippled from the helicopters far above. Dumping her backpack on the ground, Zoe dove into the water. She swam as fast as she could in her waterlogged clothes, screaming the fish's name. The brown speckled Pokémon poked her head out of the water. With a cry of relief, Zoe swam to her. "Eilonwy, thank Arceus you're safe. The island is under attack! I'm here to rescue you."

Although Eilonwy's eyes rolled at the thought of needing rescuing, she gazed up at Zoe with something akin to gratitude. She stuck by the girl's side even as they began the long swim back toward the shore. The moment they reached dry land, Zoe scooped up Eilonwy in one arm, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and began running in the direction of Vier Village.

"What was that? Someone's here!"

The voice made Zoe freeze in place. Her sopping hair dripped in the underbrush as she tried to calm the thunderous hammering of her heart. She hardly dared to breathe; the only movement she made was the rapid darting of her eyes as she desperately scanned the trees for a sign of her enemy.

"Spread out; don't let them escape!" Footsteps crashed through the underbrush. Suddenly half a dozen figures clad in black appeared through the trees in the east, forming a barrier between Zoe and her home.

With an expletive that would leave her mother aghast if she heard it coming out of her mouth, Zoe turned tail and ran the other way. The Rockets pursued. The ground was a blur of green and brown in front of her. Zoe blindly reached behind her to grab a soda from the side compartment of her backpack. She shook the can, then turned around long enough to throw it with all her might.

The makeshift grenade landed in front of the lead Rocket agent and ruptured in an explosion of sugary foam. Her assailant plowed right through it with only a moment's hesitation, leaving Zoe with no time to ponder her failed attack. With fight no longer an option, the girl resumed her desperate flight. She had no set destination. Her legs felt like they would give way at any minute, yet still she ran. All that mattered was getting away.

The air became thick with smoke. The trees thinned, and Zoe realized with horror that she had run straight into the heart of danger. She was at the Alamo. The landscape was dotted with Rocket and Liberty agents locked in vicious combat. Explosive attacks flashed left and right. A giant glowing bird soared across the sky, its fearsome cry causing bolts of fire to rain down from the heavens. It was a scene straight out of the apocalypse. There was nowhere else to run. Backing up against the nearest wall of the once-mighty fortress, Zoe turned to face her pursuers. Her face was pale in fear.

The ground shook as a Rampardos appeared out of thin air and roared at the Rockets. "Six of you ganging up on a little girl? And you wonder why we don't like you criminals in charge!" A female Liberty agent ran up jumped into the air, landing on the rock-type Pokémon's back and aiming a grin at the group of Rockets.

The lead Rocket showed no fear in the shadow of the towering Rampardos, and instead brandished a Pokéball of his own. "The only criminals I see here are a bunch of self-entitled rebels that can't let go of the past. Now if you don't surrender, you'll have to fight... all of us." His Pokéball burst open to reveal a spinning Claydol. Behind him, the other Rocket agents let loose a number of Pokémon: Rhyperior, Flareon, Slacking, Nidoqueen, and Empoleon.

The Liberty agent elicited a sharp laugh. "Change the wording all you like; you've still got the same old tagline!" As her Rampardos responded with a puffed up Swagger, the woman glanced back at Zoe, who was still cowering against the wall. "Get out of here, kid. I can handle these clowns. You get yourself somewhere safe."

Zoe didn't need to be told twice. Stumbling a bit on her shaky legs, she ran alongside the wall until she was clear of the battle, then made a beeline for the woods. Her only goal was to make it back home. She didn't make it very far before her foot struck something hidden in the underbrush that sent her tumbling head over heels.

"Ow! Get your own hiding place, you little-- Zoe!"

Her world was spinning, and it took several seconds for Zoe to recognize the girl standing over her. "What in the . . . oh, it's just you, Nora. What were you doing in a bush . . . ?"

Nora scoffed. "Well it's not like I wanted to be in there, you dolt. I'm not a monkey, you know."

"Wouldn't monkeys be in trees . . . ?"

"That's beside the point." Nora glanced around nervously. "Your bumbling about just cost me my hiding place. Now the Rockets will find us for sure!"

Zoe had by now recovered and stood next to her classmate. She had dropped her previous fear in her fall and now that she was no longer being chased, she saw this as the perfect opportunity to prove her worth in the presence of a peer. "When they find us, we'll just beat them down. Don't worry, my sister taught me a few aura secrets, and we've got Eilonwy on our side!" She held out her hands to show the floundering fish out of water.

Nora brought her hands to her head. "Great, my life's in the hands of a crazy girl and her knock-off Magikarp. Why did it have to be Zany Zoe? Just kill me now."

"You take that back! Eilonwy's nothing like a Magikarp!"

Nora was about to make another snide remark when a branch snapped nearby. The girl's eyes grew wide with fear. "We need to get out of here!" she hissed. Before Zoe could protest, Nora had grabbed her arm and started pulling her through the woods away from the Alamo.

Zoe tried to wrest herself free, but Nora was stronger, her iron grip fueled by a genuine fear for her life. The ground slanted beneath the two girls, and they soon found themselves traversing the side of a steep hill. A dry riverbed lay at the base of the slope, marked with jagged rocks. Nora paid no heed to the treacherous terrain and would have dragged Zoe all the way back to Vier Village had she not run straight into a hissing, spitting Arbok. The girl's death grip threatened to squeeze Zoe's hand off her arm as she let out a terrified shriek.

"What've you found, Arbok? A couple of Liberty runaways? Don't rough 'em up too much now, they could have valuable information." A tall, lanky Rocket agent stepped into view to lay eyes on his prize. His grin slipped into a befuddled frown. "Children? What are you- ?"

Nora shrieked again, throwing a Pokéball to the ground with all her might. "Ember! Peck! Scratch! I don't care what you have to do, just get rid of that snake!" Her Torchic materialized in a flash of light and immediately began an assault on its much bigger opponent. Heeding Nora's cry as a call to action, Zoe sent Eilonwy forth to relentlessly slap the Rocket.

"Ack! What the- ? Stop! I mean you no harm!"

"A likely story, Rocket Man!" Zoe cried bravely. "I heard you threaten to torture us for information! Now unhand us in the name of truth and Liberty, or face the wrath of a warrior princess!"

"What?! No, this is all a big misunderst- Arbok, stand down!" The snake in question hissed in annoyance at the Torchic's desperate attacks, which only caused Nora to scream louder. The Rocket could do nothing to stop the flailing fish from beating him senseless. It wasn't until he recalled his Arbok to its Pokéball that the situation finally started to calm down. "Kid, call off your fish before I turn it into sushi! I surrender!"

"Let him go, Eilonwy." Zoe couldn't hide her grin. "Our first prisoner!"

The Rocket sighed in relief. "Okay, now will you two just listen to me? I'm here to capture Liberty agents, not children. You two shouldn't even be here, this is a war zone!"

"Joke's on you, mister. We are Liberty agents!" Zoe fished out her water gun and aimed it at the Rocket. "Now that's enough out of you. Hands in the air!" The man obliged for fear of the situation getting out of control again.

"Zoe, he's right," Nora said tearfully. "We shouldn't be here. Let's just leave him and go home. Please!"

"You should listen to your friend," the Rocket offered. "I don't want to hurt you, but if you continue to assault me you'll leave me with no choice."

"You think we'll just leave you to attack our friends? I don't think so, mister! Now you'll come quietly, or I'll- ack!" A ball of feathers slammed into Zoe with the speed of a cannonball. Before she knew what was happening, her water gun had been snatched out of her hands.

"Excellent work, Hoothoot." A young boy no more than a year or two older than Zoe stepped out from behind a tree. A rather rotund owl landed on his shoulder, dropping the water gun into his hands. The boy smirked as he turned Zoe's own weapon against her. "Drop the fish and step away from my partner. I'll apprehend you in the name of Team Rocket."

If the older Rocket had been scared before, now he was in utter panic. "Charlie! What are you doing here? Go back to the airship! It's too dangerous!"

The boy grinned. "Not a chance, Kaminsky. I'm here to rescue you, and prove my worth in the process. You there! Girl with the bunny ears! Tell me where Goldhawk has hidden himself away."

Zoe scowled as she sent out Esmeralda. "They're dog ears, genius! And if you think I'm gonna betray my team that easily, you don't know the great warrior princess!"

Kaminsky brought his hands to his head. "This is a complete disaster! Both of you stop this at once!" Neither side seemed to hear him.

"Well if it's a fight you want... Hoothoot! Show these rebels what a real Rocket agent can do!" The small owl launched itself into the air with incredible speed and dive-bombed its opponent, pecking relentlessly.

"Esmeralda, fry that chicken!" Zoe cried, prompting an indignant chirp from Nora's Torchic. Esmeralda spewed forth embers to ward off her assailant. The Hoothoot continued trying to peck her into oblivion, but the Fennekin's flames burned too hot at such a close range. With a squawk the owl fluttered back towards its trainer.

"Alright, time for a more indirect approach." Charlie snapped his fingers and the Hoothoot locked eyes with Esmeralda. Both Pokémon started to rhythmically rock back and forth like a pendulum, pulling Esmeralda into a hypnotic trance.

Zoe gulped. She knew the power of Hypnosis, and if Esmeralda fell asleep, it would all be over. "Quick, Fire Blast!" But the Fennekin didn't seem to hear the order. She continued to sway in time with the Hoothoot, oblivious to the world around her.

The boy laughed. "Too easy! You call yourself a warrior? If all of Liberty's like this, it's a wonder we didn't stomp you ages ago!"

Zoe felt her face redden. "That was a cheap shot! Eilonwy, help Esmeralda out!" It was not a request. Zoe grabbed the fish and flung her at the Hoothoot. The moment Eilonwy hit her target, Esmeralda snapped out of her trance. With a low growl, she darted toward the felled bird and started to bathe it in fire once more.

Charlie's smirk turned into a look of horror. "Hey, no fair!" he cried. "This was a one-on-one battle, you can't do that!"

Zoe was about to retort with a snide remark when a flash of lightning arced across the sky, followed by a clap of thunder that shook the ground. A downpour of icy rain fell out of nowhere. Esmeralda's flames sputtered out, leaving the Hoothoot free to counter with a flash of sharp talons.

"Hey!" the Rocket boy shouted. "Don't let that other one escape!" Zoe whirled around to see Nora had taken off. Her classmate was already several feet away, clambering up the slope with one hand around her Torchic in an attempt to hide amongst the thicker trees. Zoe barely had time to process this before Charlie knocked her aside in his own effort to race up the hill after Nora. "I won't lose a prisoner that easily!"

Spurred on by threat of a pursuer, Nora became even more frantic in her escape. She slipped on a pile of wet leaves and fell face first into the rain-formed mud. "Get away from me!" she shrieked. As Charlie approached, he was greeted with a swift kick to the stomach. The force of the kick sent the young Rocket sliding and tumbling down the steep slope. For the second time in the span of a few seconds he blew past Zoe in a flurry of leaves. A loud crack! echoed through the forest as Charlie smacked into a tree. His speed brought to a sudden halt, the boy limply rolled the rest of the way into the rocky ditch at the bottom of the hill.

"Charlie!" Kaminsky was beside himself in panic. He started to run after the boy, only to lose his balance and start sliding. He would have joined his comrade in a rather messy way had he not managed to grab ahold of a low-hanging branch.

Planting her feet in the soft, dampening soil, Zoe slid herself down to where Kaminsky stood. "If you try running after him, you'll only get yourself killed!"

"What do you expect me to do?" Kaminsky cried. "I can't just leave him there!"

Zoe glanced down at the dried riverbed several hundred feet below, her heart racing. She looked back at the Rocket agent. "I know this forest better than you," she finally said. "If Charlie's fallen between the rocks, you won't be able to reach him. Let me get him instead. I'm small enough to fit through the rocks. You go check on Nora, make sure she's okay."

Kaminsky paled. "What, Little Miss Screams-a-lot? I'll just get a shoe to the face!" A distant shout echoed across the valley. Kaminsky turned his fearful eyes on Zoe. "We have other Rocket agents in the area," he warned. "If they see you going up to one of our own who's already injured, they'll kill you on sight."

Esmeralda rolled down the hill after her trainer, bumping into Zoe's leg. Eilonwy flopped down after her. Zoe knelt down to pet the Fennekin and pick up the fish. "Then I won't let them catch me." She flashed a grin at Kaminsky. "Fighting isn't the only skill of a warrior princess!" Before the Rocket could object, she was off in a controlled slide down the hill, her Fennekin barking at her heels.

With the heavy rain moistening the ground, Zoe had to lean back into the hill several times to keep herself from slipping out of control. By the time she reached the bottom, both she and Esmeralda were spattered in mud. The shouts of the other Rockets patrolling the area sounded closer, but Zoe suspected they were beyond hill on the other side of the ditch.

She wasted no time scouring the rocks for the young boy. "Charlie?" she called out. "Can you hear me?" The stones were slippery in the rain, forcing Zoe to tread warily. But her careful footing was for naught, for an unseen hand reached out from between the rocks to grab her ankle. Before Zoe knew what was happening she had slipped. Pain shot up her arms where she had tried to break her fall, and bright spots flashed before her eyes.

"I've . . . got you now . . . you heartless rebel." Charlie started to crawl out from a space between the boulders. One side of his face was caked in blood. Despite his obvious pain, the Rocket appeared pleased with himself. "Just wait 'till the others see I've captured a Liberty rebel all on my own . . ." Esmeralda barked wildly as she tried to scramble up a slipper boulder, but the boy didn't seem to notice.

Zoe winced as she picked herself up in time to see Charlie lose his grip on the boulder and slip back into the crevice. "Charlie, you fool!" she shouted. "I'm trying to rescue you here, and all you can think about is capturing me?"

Charlie tried to crawl out again, panting for air. "That's all that matters . . . you're . . . under . . . arrest . . ." By now his Hoothoot had found him and was flying in circles above the riverbed. The owl hooted indignantly when Zoe reached into the crevice to try and grab Charlie.

"Oh, shut up!" Zoe shouted to both the boy and the owl. She managed to grab ahold of the boy and with much effort pulled him out of the hole. He did not resist, though whether due to trust or because he simply had no strength left, she couldn't say.

The moment Charlie was free, his Hoothoot flew down to rest on his shoulder. Zoe could now see the boy had struck both his head and his leg. She was no expert, but it was clear he needed medical attention. She helped him up and they started a slow, careful trek out of the valley of boulders.

The path was much too steep for the pair to climb straight back up the hill, especially with Charlie's injuries. And so Zoe sent Esmeralda and Merida to scout ahead for a more manageable path. Charlie stumbled along in a daze, occasionally glancing over at Zoe as she kept him from collapsing. "Why . . . ? Why are you . . . doing this . . . ?"

"We have to get you back to your friend." Zoe said nothing more than that. The truth of it was she didn't have time to think about why she was saving this boy who wanted only to arrest her. She just knew it had to be done. And so the two walked in silence under the endless sheet of rain. The shouts of Rockets far above sounded distant. The din of battle at the Alamo was almost nonexistent. It was like the war itself had faded. They were not children of Rocket and Liberty. There was no glory to be had, no delusions of grandeur. There was only the life she held in her arms: precious, fragile, bleeding.

Merida came running back, Esmeralda rolling down the hill behind her. A bark from the Fennekin indicated that they had found a way up. Zoe followed them, pulling Charlie alongside her. Although it was easier than the direct route, the path remained steep enough that it was slow going. More than once Zoe was certain Charlie would collapse and slide back down the hill. But her grip remained strong even when the Rocket boy's legs stumbled.

After what felt like an eternity they finally returned to the spot where Kaminsky and Nora waited. Zoe's classmate had put as much distance between herself and the older Rocket as she could, and appeared simultaneously relieved and annoyed when she saw Zoe. "Took you long enough. What the heck were you thinking, leaving me with this creep?"

Kaminsky was equally relieved to be free of his ungrateful charge. The moment he spotted Charlie, he raced towards him. "Charlie! Are you alright? What happened?"

"He hit his head." The moment Kaminsky grabbed the unconscious boy, Zoe collapsed with sudden exhaustion. "And his leg. He was walking with a limp. You need to take him to a hospital or something."

"We have a medical bay on the airship," Kaminsky said, lifting Charlie onto his back. He turned to face Zoe, the rain on his face mixing with his tears. "What can I ever do to thank you?"

Zoe waved him off dismissively. "It was nothing," she muttered. "Just make sure he's alright. And . . ." A melancholy smile crossed her face. "Make sure he gets some recognition. He may be a dense idiot, but he did try and save you from us."

Kaminsky cocked his head. "You're a strange girl, you know. First you assault us mercilessly, then you go out of your way to help us. Just who are you?"

"Yeah, I get that a lot." Zoe laughed. "Normally I'd introduce myself as warrior princess. But I guess you can just call me Zany Zoe."

The two girls watched the Rockets depart. Rain blanketed the forest in a cleansing veil. Nora shakily got to her feet and recalled her Torchic to the dry comfort of its Pokéball. "Let's go home," she said.

Zoe wordlessly agreed.

The other Rocket grunts seemed to have cleared out of the forest, for the rest of the trip back to Vier Village was uneventful. It was only when they had left the trees behind that Nora turned toward Zoe and asked the question that troubled her so. "Why did you go and help that Rocket boy?"

In an unusual moment of pensiveness, Zoe pondered the question for a long time. "I don't know," she said softly.

Nora offered a warm smile. "Well, whatever the reason, it was very brave of you. Maybe you're not so zany after all."
 

***


The battle ended with no clear victor. Team Liberty had managed to force Team Rocket into a retreat, but not without the loss of one of their leaders, Bluefalcon. The Alamo itself had also taken heavy damage, and the Rockets had stolen valuable intel from the Server Room. This was a major setback, but the war was far from over.

All of this information fell on deaf ears to Zoe, who was holed up in the battleground of her room against an army of explosive sneezes more powerful than any of Team Rocket's missiles. Her parents were aghast when they heard she had gone out to fetch Eilonwy in the heat of battle, but thankfully they considered her consequential cold to be punishment enough. They were even kind enough to provide a Pokéball for Eilonwy.

The Liberty school reopened just as Zoe was on the tail end of her sickness. Travis, of course, made sure the whole class heard about the epic battle he had witnessed. "I had the perfect hiding place! A fantastic view of the majestic Ho-Oh! He smote those evil Rockets where they stood while Kyogre wept massive tears for our fallen. It was the stuff of legends!"

"So that's where all that rain came from," Zoe said, her own enthusiasm encouraged by Travis' story. "It was good timing too; the rain helped me and Nora stop those two Rockets from reaching the Alamo!"

Travis burst out laughing. "Nora teaming up with Zany Zoe? And saving the Alamo? That's your craziest story yet!"

"But it's true!" Zoe insisted. "We were a fantastic team! Eilonwy and Torchic: the unstoppable fish 'n chic! Tell him, Nora!"

The exchange took Nora by surprise. For a brief moment she met Zoe's gaze and her eyes filled with sadness. Then she forced herself to look away. "You didn't stop those Rockets, you let them escape." She put on a sneer as she looked up at Travis. "I would've captured those Rockets singlehandedly, but Zoe here had to mess it all up, as per usual. And that fish of hers is pathetic; all it does is flop around!"
 

***


It's a curious thing about life-changing experiences: no matter how desperately you try to cling to that moment, to preserve every emotional detail, life moves on. And as time drags you ever farther away, old habits offer a familiar alternative. Life returns to its status quo. Team Liberty is the almighty force of good, trouncing the sinister Team Rocket, and Zoe is nothing more than that crazy kid in class who dreams she's a warrior princess. It's simpler that way.

But on occasion, Zoe's thoughts would drift back to that fateful day. Amidst fearful memories of dense smoke, the cries of bloodthirsty Rockets, and the ground shaking beneath her feet, one question always stood out in the forefront of her mind: "Why did you go and help that Rocket boy?"

The answer she arrived at was laughably simple.

She saw a bit of herself in him.


  • 0
Konuju: Kopaka and Nuju meet the Spear of Fusion

Quotes from throughout the years:

2001: "Your past is forgotten, and your future is an empty book. You must find your own destiny, my brave adventurer." --Nokama
2002: "Mata Nui faces perhaps its greatest challenge -- one that will test our courage, our strength, and our belief in each other." --Tahu
2003: "So... it has begun, my brother. But soon, it will also end..." --Makuta
2004: "Your journey must end." "By the will of the Great Spirit, it has just begun!" --Makuta and Vakama
2005: "Our destinies are not written in stone, set in place. They are something we have to find for ourselves." --Vakama
2006: "Don't you realize you're fighting for a lost cause?" "Maybe. But don't you realize those are the only ones worth fighting for?" --Axonn and Brutaka
2007: "Sometimes a hero has to do something else besides beat the villains and come home covered in glory." --Hahli
2008: "Dive into the darkness, Ignite the flame within. Now, there is no turning back. Make the future... begin." --Narrator, The Final Battle Animation
2009: "It is said that all endings are merely beginnings waiting to be born." --Mata Nui
2010: "All journeys must come to an end, but this time, there is a new beginning as well. ... All that has gone before, my friends, has only served to give birth to this new day. Let unity, duty and destiny be your guides." --Mata Nui
2011: "Not dead. Just frozen. They’ll thaw out … eventually. I’m tired of villains spouting gibberish." --Kopaka

#36 Offline Blessed Blade

Blessed Blade
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Posted Jun 05 2017 - 04:23 PM

-May Time Remember-

-Three and a half years ago-

The sun shone down on the region of Johto, as the clouds moved peacefully through the air. People busily moved around Goldenrod City, going about their daily lives as normal. The top of the Global Terminal glowed dimly in the light of the day, its beacon a sign of hope to people in the city. The billboards on the side of the department store and the malls that surrounded it shifted images between different advertisements. The marquee sign on the radio tower showed what program currently was on, and what would be on next. As it was, the normal and peaceful chatter of people was only interrupted as footsteps clattered against the ground, echoing throughout an empty alleyway as a Pidgey flew happily overhead.

An 18 year old man used the alleyway in question as a shortcut to get to his destination faster as he rounded a corner again. The young man ran back onto the streets with a laugh, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Ryan Hikari looked to his feet and skidded to a stop, as he panted. The man's black hair blew in the late May breeze, as he looked up with a smile. "I'm getting better at that..." He mumbled to himself, as he chuckled, as stood up straight, his blue shirt making his eyes seem brighter than usual. He looked over to the different stores, as he began to walk further in the direction of the shopping district. Every time he walked by, he was more and more amazed. Once again cranes were present, construction making the town fill out more and more ever time; though the top of the Global Terminal could always be seen.

As Ryan continued to walk, he heard a vague giggle, and then stopped in confusion. However, before he could turn around, hands covered his eyes from behind. The man fought the urge to accidentally elbow the practitioner of anticology, and then smiled in amusement. The person that the hands belonged to giggled once again, seeming rather joking even then. "Guess who..." A high pitched voice said, and Ryan pretended to think for a moment, as there was only one person the voice could actually belong to.

"Hmm..." Ryan teasingly pondered the question a bit more, as he felt the hands shift a bit, as if disappointed by no guessing. "Is it... Jessica?" He asked with an amused smile, as the hands were removed from his face, and the girl in question stepped into view with a wide smile, as she nodded happily. The young man's smile melted into a warm one as he looked at Jessie happily. Ryan chuckled slightly, as he scratched his head. "So, what are you doing here on a Sunday?" He asked with a tilt of his head, as his friend giggled in amusement.

"Well, I needed to stop by the department store to pick up something for my mom..." Jessica said, and then narrowed her eyes in playful suspicion. "What about you, though?" The girl asked, as Ryan paused for a moment with a furrowed brow, unsure what exactly she was getting at, until she spoke again. "I mean, I know you go here all the time, but you didn't invite me, and that question seemed like you didn't expect me here..." She pointed out, and Ryan sheepishly smile.

"W-well, I was just, uh, going to look at the new Pokegear model..." Ryan said, as he tried to smile innocently. However, he could tell that Jessie wasn't falling for his cover story, and scratched his head awkwardly. "S-sorry, guess I should've asked you to join me, huh?" He asked to try and hide his true reasons for being at the mall, but the girl smiled in amusement.

"Well, so long as it's nice, I don't mind." Jessica said, as she chuckled and teasingly smiled. "You're not really good at hiding things, you know that, Ryan?" She giggled, then shook her head teasingly and began to walk toward the department store. "See ya later! Don't forget!" The girl then ran off with a wave and left Ryan standing there. The man blinked for a few moments before he smiled and nodded, and then continued toward the malls.

Ryan walked through the mall's interior, and looked around in amazement at the stores as usual. After a little while of looking around, he chose one store, and walked into it, as he considered what he had to find. He paid little attention to the bustling people in the accessory shop, as he looked around for a good gift for Jessica's 16th birthday. It was a month and a half away still, but since he tended to procrastinate buying gifts for anyone, Ryan figured it was a good idea to find it now. He thought back with a smile, as he examined a particular bow. He recalled how he had asked about whether Jessie had wanted to go out with him, and how she had said yes. I can't believe that it's already been a week... The black haired man walked to the front of the store to buy the bow with his saved up money, still lost in thought.

Ryan happily walked back through the city with the bag in his hand. Had it really been ten years since they had first met? He had Alistair to thank, he guessed. Alistair. The man stopped walking, and then looked to the sky with a rueful smile. What would have happened if he hadn't messed up? The young man closed his eyes for a brief, and then gripped the Pokeball, and looked at the Larvitar in it when he opened his eyes again. The Larvitar gave a cautious look back, as if even after all this time, the Pokemon still didn't totally trust him. Ryan shook his head, and placed the Pokeball back on his belt. He began to walk forward once more with a sigh. I just have to keep moving forward. That's what Alistair would have wanted. The man thought, as he knew it wasn't a good idea to dwell on the past; no matter how much he wanted to do so.

----

"Mom! Dad! I'm home!" Ryan called out, as he opened the door to his house, and walked inside. There was no response at first, so he closed the door behind him, and began to walk up the stairs to his room. He closed his door so no-one would walk in, and then took the bow's box out of his bag. The young man opened the box, and smiled at the bow that was inside. I hope Jessica likes it... He thought, as he closed the box back up, and then placed it into a pouch on his backpack for safe-keeping. Ryan began to take his workbooks out of his bag, when he heard the front door open again. He stood up and placed the book in his hand on his desk, and opened his door to go see who it was. As he looked, he noticed his 15 year old brother Zach walk in. The auburn haired teen looked up the stairs with a blink, and then waved awkwardly for a moment, and then went to go put his stuff away.

A little while later, as Ryan was working on his homework, he could sense a presence just staring at him. "Don't you have anything better to do than watching me?" He sighed, as he tilted his head back to look at his brother, who was watching him intently with an amused smile. Zach had returned to Ryan's room after putting his stuff away, and must have guessed at what he had gone to do that afternoon. The black haired trainer noted that there were a lot of times that had happened recently, and thought to ask about that later. For the moment, he tried his best to pretend to be a bit annoyed at his younger sibling.

"Not a thing at all. Finished all my homework yesterday." Zach giggled, and Ryan raised an intrigued eyebrow, since they usually never saw the kid on the weekends. The younger brother promptly sat down in a swivel chair with another giggle. As he stared at the ceiling, the young teen used a foot to spin the chair around for a moment, stopping only to look at Ryan teasingly. "So, you went and got a present today, didn't you? For Jessie? Did you have a mini date with her too?" Ryan's face turned bright red, and turned away for the moment, as he struggled to think of a retort.

"That's none of your business." Ryan simply replied, as he grimaced slightly upon something catching his eye. He noticed the box was sticking out of his backpack a bit, and made a note to fix that later. "Besides, don't you have your own girlfriend to pay attention to?" He retorted as he looked back to his sibling, recalling how much time Zach spent over at his friend Olivia's house. The elder brother softened his look, however, as he noticed how awkward Zach was being about the teasing. Ryan looked curiously at him, and sighed. "When are you even going to say something? Everyone can see how much you care for Liv; so why are you...?" The black haired teen stopped, as Zach looked up nervously, and fidgeted slightly, which made Ryan wonder what was wrong.

"Tomorrow. I'm going to ask tomorrow, I mean." Zach said finally, much to Ryan's surprise. "I... I'm going to see if she wants to go to the festival in Olivine with me, after school." He stayed quiet for a moment, as Ryan seemed shocked at the awkward certainty his brother seemed to have. "I've been... trying to build up my nerve for the past couple months, since I heard about it. But I... I worry. What if she hates the idea...? She's my best friend, and I don't want to ruin that." He looked to the ground with an uncertain expression, and Ryan smiled softly, as he shook his head.

"She won't. The way Olivia looks at you... she cares, even if she can't say it." The black haired man smirked a bit at the memory of the red haired girl bickering with him after being teased. "I know it's scary, but... If you have to, then just treat it like another day. Because with you two, I'm certain you could make even the most ordinary day be something special." He chuckled for a moment with a genuine smile. The younger brother looked up slowly, as if that wasn't everything. He nodded slowly with a slight smile, but then began to get up. However, as he was about to head to the door, Ryan stood up, and ruffled Zach's hair with a soft smile. "It's about time. Good luck." The younger sibling seemed surprised, as he shyly fixed his hair, but smiled back with a giggle. With a slightly awkward pause, the younger kid left the room.

Ryan stood at the door for a moment, and then looked over at a picture taken the last time both his family and Jessica's had all gotten together. Ryan, Zach, Jessica, and her brother Ray all were smiling at the camera. Zach and Ray were acting goofy in the background, and Ryan and Jessica acted like the only two sane people in the picture. But despite the goofiness, it just seemed so nice. The man glanced over at another picture of just his family, and frowned slightly. While Ryan, Zach, and their mother were all smiling widely, Ryan's father just seemed cold and distant, and was looking away. Ryan sighed, and wondered why their father couldn't be as nice as the others. He set that picture face down, not wanting to look at it.

----

That night, Ryan had stayed quiet. His mother was chatting with Zach a little way away, though they were whispering too much for the black haired teen to catch most of the discussion. A little ways away, their father sat silently, focused entirely on his food. Ryan bit his lip, as he looked down. He wondered what might have made the older man so distant almost all the time. He opened his mouth to mention about how his day had gone, however, when he looked up, he noticed his father standing up. Ryan quietly watched Gerald take his plate to the sink, and sighed when the man had left the room.

"Don't take it too hard, Ryan." His mother walked over, as Zach looked over worriedly as well. "He's had a rough time for a while, but... I'm sure he will come around sometime." She smiled reassuringly, as Ryan nodded. However, their mother giggled after that, and placed her hands on the older sibling's shoulders. "You can tell us about how things went, though. If you had a good day, then it's always good to tell others."

Zach sketched in a notebook for a while, as the three that remained in the kitchen talked with each other even as the kitchen began to grow dark. Their mother seemed intrigued at the plans that Ryan had, and nodded with a small smile as she went to turn on the light. "I hope everything goes well there, Ryan... I'm sure that Jessie will appreciate the gift, as always. Good on you for not waiting until the last minute like usual..." The embarrassed teen awkwardly chuckle for a moment, however, he nodded with a smile. The three continued to talk for another two hours, until everyone needed to go to bed.

The two siblings continued to discuss things, as they made their way up the stairs back to their respective rooms. However, as they were about to part ways, Zach followed Ryan, much to the older brother's confusion. Zach seemed a little awkward, and also appeared to be having trouble figuring out how to say something. However, as time passed, Ryan cleared his throat, to try and figure out what to do.

"Did you want to talk about something else, or...?" Ryan still seemed confused as to what the younger sibling's thoughts were. However, he smiled as he sat down on the bed. "If so, then I'm all ears."

Zach hesitated, as he seemed a little uncertain still. "Um, well... what do you think of stuff that dad might not like?" At Ryan's continued confusion, the younger sibling fidgeted a little. "Like... I mean, if dad didn't like something... happening, or things I wear, or stuff like that, would it be... bad?"

Ryan raised an eyebrow slightly, but smiled, as he stood up, and walked over to the uncertain trainer. "I'd say, if you really feel it's something for you, go for it. Our absent father can't really stop you from doing anything. And if he has a complaint, he'd have to go through me anyway." Ryan gave the younger teen a thumbs up, but paused for a moment, as he noticed that Zach still seemed uncertain. "I'm serious." He said after a second, an attempt at a reassuring smile on his face. "For all I tease you, I would stick up for you no matter what."

"I..." Zach stayed quiet for a moment, auburn hair obscuring his eyes as he smiled. Ryan was surprised, however, as the younger teen suddenly hugged him, dropping the notebook in the meantime. He was a bit confused by the sudden outburst of emotion, but smiled as he hugged back. "Thank you, Ryan. That means a lot to me..." Zach stepped back with a smile, and then scratched his head. "Well, um, good night..." As Ryan watched, the younger trainer scurried off.

Ryan spotted the notebook on the ground shortly after Zach had left. "Hey, you forgot..." As he bent down to pick the book up, he noticed it had fallen open. Curiously, the black haired teen looked at the page, and seemed a little surprised, but smiled, as he closed the book up. Not long after, the auburn haired sibling's head popped back in the doorframe. "Here, you dropped this just now..." Ryan handed the book to his brother, who seemed embarrassed about having forgotten it. Zach smiled, and quickly thanked Ryan, before quickly heading back out of the room again.

Ryan sighed, as he laid down on his bed after changing into his pyjamas. He thought how that day had gone, and glanced over where the gift laid hidden in his bag. The young man smiled, as he thought of what the reaction when Jessica received the gift might be. With a yawn, Ryan closed his eyes, wondering what the next day would hold. However, that night, he tossed and turned restlessly. He however, passed it off as excitement.

--Monday--

As Ryan groggily opened his eyes, he glanced at the time, and noticed that it was an hour before he needed to get up. The teen attempted to fall back to sleep, however, after he couldn't manage to start dreaming again, he reluctantly pulled himself out of bed, and began to get ready. Twenty minutes later, he made his way downstairs, fully dressed and ready for the day, despite looking exhausted. He noticed his mother at the table, and that Gerald was once again absent.

"Your father had to leave for work early today. He said to say hello, though." The mother smiled as she noticed Ryan staring toward the empty seat. She sighed with a shake of her head, seeming to realize what Ryan was focused on. "I'm sure that he'll come around some day. I know I say that a lot, but I really do believe in him, and everyone, really..." Something about what his mother said, however, didn't seem to match with the distant look she wore for a moment. Before he could question it, however, it was like the look was never there.

The black haired man finished eating his breakfast, and glanced toward the stairs as he stood up. Although it was still early, he noticed that Zach was still not yet up. He sighed, but decided that he wouldn't wait. He thought that by getting an earlier start, he might be able to catch up with Jessica on their way to school. As Ryan walked outside, he noticed that it was still rather dark out, and sighed, as he walked toward the road that Jessica usually took on her way to Ecruteak.

Something was wrong this day, however. Ryan looked around with a frown, not seeing any sign of Jessica in the dim early morning light. He shouldered his backpack, as he wondered if he could have mistaken when she left for school. He knew it would take a while to get to Ecruteak, and wondered if she had already passed by there, or if she had even left yet. As he was about to head off on his way, however, a commotion to his right caught his ear. The black haired teen frowned, as he didn't think that it was usual for this hour of the morning.

"Stay in there!" Ryan hid behind a nearby dumpster, as a harsh voice rang out in the morning quiet. He peeked around the corner of it, and noticed three people dragging a protesting young girl to an open metal container. The young man thought he barely recognized the girl's voice above the commotion, but her face was blocked by the other three. Before he could try to move to a different position to see who it was, the man who had spoken earlier grabbed the container's door and slammed it shut. "Now, think about what you've done, Liberty scum." The girl's protests were drowned out in part by the wall in between her and the rest of the world, and also by her fists pounding on the steel door.

Ryan moved back behind the dumpster, as the three black clothed people walked off. As soon as they had left, he sprinted out, and headed to where the container was. Something didn't feel right to him about what had happened, and he wanted to find out what. "Keep quiet, I'll get you out!" The teen said, and the protesting and pounding suddenly stopped. Ryan strained against the bar, trying to get it open. However, when he opened the door, he noticed Jessica standing inside. She looked just as confused as he currently did, and suddenly a lot of things clicked... why she had been late, and why the voice had seemed familiar.

"What are you doing here?" Ryan asked with a confused frown. The girl shook her head, an uneasy look on her face. Something seemed to be wrong here, but he couldn't tell what was up. Nonetheless, he knew that there were more important things at that moment. "You can explain as we run - we have to get out of here."

"Okay. . . I wanna stop by my house, though. I think I forgot something." The man looked over at Jessica, as he noticed that she had bit her lip. "After this, I... I don't know what this means. If I have to hide for a bit, then I will need whatever I can get. So, I... want to try and get whatever I can."

Ryan wasn't sure if his friend was telling him everything at that moment, but nodded slowly. "Alright. It's not that far, and if we get blocked, we can try to escape to Azalea." The thought of hiding out close to Azalea brought back bad memories, but he couldn't think of anything else to do at that moment. The girl nodded, and then began to run back toward her house. On the way, she explained how the Rockets had approached her. They had mentioned how they got a tip that someone fitting her description was sympathetic to Liberty and planned to join them. Despite her protests, they had decided to arrest her - though the method they used was. . . odd.

"I don't get why they did that. Like, they could have taken me with them, right? So why. . .?" The girl seemed uneasy about why they did that and Ryan had to admit that it felt almost like a trap. His hand reached for his Pokeball as they approached her house. However, the girl stopped, a puzzled look on her face, as she looked around. ". . . Did you hear something?"

"Hmm, I don't think so. The air feels more tense somehow, but-" A loud roar cut him off, as he saw a Dragonite appear above the skyline. Ryan's eyes widened, as he looked over to Jessica. "Quick! Get your stuff as fast as possible; I don't know if that's wild or not!" The girl nodded, and ran into the house as Ryan sent his Larvitar out quickly. He knew that there was no way that he could possibly damage a Dragonite, but even Larvitar seemed almost... determined to help. They would be the last bastion of help if that was necessary.

The Pokemon rampaged throughout the skies as it launched off deadly beams of energy at points in the city. The alarms that were going off to get people to safety identified the threat as being from Team Liberty. Ryan felt sickened by the possibility that people could be that desperate to win a war that they must target innocent people. He shook his head as he noticed the Dragonite was flanked by other flying Pokemon that were attempting to defend the Dragonite from attacks. If nothing else had shown that the Pokemon was owned by a trainer, that cemented it - he had faith that wild Pokemon wouldn't team up for devastation like this.

A cry from Larvitar prompted Ryan to look up. The Dragonite had approached their direction and began to charge up a Hyper Beam. The man's eyes widened in fear, as he held his hand forward. Jessie, hurry up, please! I'll... I'll hold this off as long as I can, but I don't know if I can... I don't know if I can survive this. Ryan knew his chances were slim, and had a feeling that he was the Dragonite's target since he was one of the only people who had not taken shelter. "Larvitar, Hyper Beam!" The charge-up wasn't as long as he wished, and the man knew that it was a lot weaker than it could have been, but maybe this could work. Maybe he could prevent any more destruction. . .

The two Hyper Beams clashed in mid-air, and for one brief moment Ryan had hope that he could stop the attack. That moment passed in an instant, however, as the Dragonite's beam engulfed his own, continuing on its path. The trainer braced for the impact and was knocked back by the concussive force of the beam hitting its target. He rolled to a stop, facing to the north and laid on his back while everything hurt. Ryan stared blankly at the sky, positive that he was hurt more than he was. However, he sat up when he noticed that Larvitar was poking him with a worried look. The buildings in front of him were untouched so far, though he had a sinking feeling that the Dragonite might attempt to raze them soon. Despite the impact of the Hyper Beam, he felt better than he should. He wondered if maybe he had softened the blow with his counter attack. . . one second later, Larvitar urgently tugged on his sleeve.

Ryan turned his head and glanced behind him.

"No. . ."

His eyes widened and the scene before him blurred. Where a magnificent house had once stood now felt like a scene out of a horror movie. Ony rubble remained in the spot where Jessie's house had once been, the ground around it cracked. The man scrambled to his feet with a strangled shout, and ran over to the ruins.

"No, no, no, this can't be happening, Jessie!!" Ryan cried out, as he tried to dig through the ruined house to find any sign that she might have survived somehow. Yet, all that he could see had been burnt beyond recognition. . . until he found a pendant and the breath caught in his throat. The metal had been warped from being melted and the string was likely part of the rest of the ash circling the street, but. . . he could still recognize it. It was Jessica's favourite pendant, and what had prompted him to get her something to go along with it. Had she been wearing it? Did it matter? Everything else was just a hint - no-one could have lived through such a blast. If he had been hit directly like this. . .

Ryan collapsed to his knees, tears flowing down his face. What even mattered now? One of the only people who he truly trusted had just been murdered for no reason. . . The man clenched his fists, as he looked up with a fire in his eyes. "Those ######## will pay. . ." The trainer snarled as he called his Larvitar back. Despite his shaky legs, he pushed himself to his feet, and glared up to the sky, where the Dragonite still flew. Headed to the mall. His thought was short and to the point - and if he could think of something else, maybe he wouldn't hurt so bad. He ignored his aching body as he ran toward the Department Store. If he could get enough height then maybe he could fix this personally. It was a stupid idea, but he did not care in the slightest at this point.

Ryan stumbled slightly as he ran up the stairs in the Department Store two stairs at a time. A grave determination was in his eyes, and the Larvitar that watched was quite honestly very worried about his trainer at the moment. The man cried out in pain as he put his foot down wrong, but pushed on regardless. His own injuries didn't matter as long as that Dragonite still flew. As he burst onto the roof, he could see the Dragonite hovering nearby.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" Ryan roared out, as he dashed toward the Dragonite with a broken look in his eyes. A Staraptor slammed into him from the side and sent him tumbling across the roof. He thought he might have broken something, but stood up regardless. He staggered a moment, but gripped his Pokeball in his hand. As he was about to throw it however, he noticed the Dragonite charge up another Hyper Beam. He prepared himself for what he felt was the inevitable attack. . . however, he noticed at the last moment that it was facing the wrong way.

With wide eyes, Ryan walked over toward the railing to see what was hit by the attack. He felt a dizziness as the wind and colour drained out of him. He knew the area that was now in ruins. He felt tears running down his face once again, and even his pure rage could not keep him standing any longer. The target had been his house, and he knew for a fact that everyone would be home still. It had not even been half an hour, and he had lost everyone he cared about. He didn't notice the attacks from the Rocket agents that disabled the Dragonite and its followers before they were recalled by the unknown trainers who had sent them out in the first place. He didn't even notice when the agents picked him up to bring him to safety.

Ryan Hikari had not just been broken, he had been shattered.

----

Over the course of the next few months, Ryan enlisted himself in Team Rocket. He struggled with the training program a lot, especially with how intense the person in charge of his training could be. However, he just couldn't bring himself to do anything except what he was told to do. He had become a hollow shell of his former self who was used as a puppet for the ones commanding him. He kept silent and to himself, though deep inside himself, he wished that he could find the people responsible for that attack.

One day, the drill sergeant called Ryan into his office. The older man smiled, as the black haired Rocket took a seat. "I'm so glad you could make it. I wanted to give you some news. We have located who killed your family." Ryan looked up in shock, his eyes regaining a tiny bit of the light for the first time in months. The balding man knew he had Ryan right where he wanted him, and nodded. "Yes... it is interesting; it appears that there was a traitor within our ranks the entire time. Sadly. . . he won't ever be locked up." The man smiled cruelly, as he smugly looked down on Ryan.

"Because it was me."

The man watched as the colour drained out of Ryan's face, and continued. "I read your file - you were destroyed by the deaths of your family and of a 'Jessica Hakuda', and a Dragonite was responsible. I was the one who commanded that Dragonite. I have no love for Liberty or Rocket. . . I just like seeing people panicking and dying. And you. . . you were one of the best of the victims, and you didn't even die." The man chuckled to himself, as he looked at a knife on the table. Ryan's eyes followed, the light gone from them once again. "Of course, since you know this now, you will be meeting a similar fate. And it will be blamed on one of those goody-two-shoes here in Rocket."

As the man reached for his knife, Ryan reacted with surprising speed. He snatched the knife up, a look of sheer darkness and anger on his face. "You..." Ryan managed to snarl, as he gripped the knife with both hands and pointed it at the murderer. "You made a horrible mistake. This room isn't big enough for your Dragonite. I'll end your reign of terror here and now!" The trainer's eyes flared with a feral look, as he grit his teeth and dashed toward the Rocket. All it would take, would be one quick stab. . . A flash of light distracted him, however, and he suddenly found himself in a different place.

. . .

"Where... am I?" Ryan looked around in confusion as he lowered the knife. An Alakazam stood behind him, but this place was not familiar to him. It appeared to be the middle of night, and there were no lights on in the room, which looked better furnished than most buildings he had been in.

"Do you want to get her back? Do you want to get Jessica back?" A booming voice surprised Ryan, and he nearly dropped the knife. He felt as if he recognized the voice, but. . . no. It couldn't be - hadn't he been at home? The broken trainer paused, as gears turned in his head. Gerald Hikari had not been at home, and as Ryan turned around, he saw his father giving the black haired trainer a warm smile. "There is a way to bring her and everyone else you care about back."

"But you will need to follow my instructions."


Edited by Blessed Blade, Jun 05 2017 - 07:40 PM.

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#37 Offline Blessed Blade

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Posted Jun 20 2017 - 11:58 PM

-The Promise in the Summer-

I groaned as I closed my eyes tighter. The light poured in through the window from my half-closed blinds and though I attempted to use my arm to block out the light, I could feel the dream I'd just had slip out of my grasp. I sat up with a frown as I racked my brain to try and recall what it was, but it was to no avail. With a sigh, I got out of bed and glanced around the room. Everything was just as it had been, but something still just seemed out of place. I shook my head, and walked over to the calendar. The day was finally here - a time that I had been anticipating for ages. . . had it already been ten years since I last saw her? I snapped out of my reverie and grabbed my clothes after I quickly circled the date. I had been staying at my aunt and uncle's place in Mahogany Town for the past month or two. I thought that maybe I could find work at the Lake of Rage, but no-one wanted to hire a 24-year old who didn't have experience with the finer aspects of fishing. I knew that there wasn't really any way I could argue that, and I also knew that I would likely have better luck in a bigger town - but there was another reason I wanted to be here this summer.

I walked downstairs slowly after I finished changing and noticed that my aunt and uncle were talking amongst themselves. I thought that I could just walk by without bothering them, but their attention turned to me. I gave a small smile at them and they quickly returned the gesture. Though they were smiling, their faces seemed to hold an odd sadness. I wondered if they had gotten some bad news about one of their jobs, but kept quiet.

"How are you today, dear? Are you going to try again?" My aunt gave me a warm smile, but I could tell that something was wrong. If she was worried about me, though, I was fine... I didn't need the two of them to worry about me, and gave a small chuckle as I shook my head.

"I'm fine - I'm not gonna go looking today. I've got some other plans, so I'm gonna head out after this. Not sure how long I'll be, but I might be a bit late." I fixed up some breakfast for myself as I talked, as I felt that it would make things go faster. I could tell that my vague answer was creating more questions than it solved. I tried to make it as obvious as I could that I wasn't wanting to actually elabourate as I began to eat. I tuned out the worried looks I was being given - I figured that they were likely scared about me getting disheartened by striking out with jobs. . . but I wasn't. I'd go back to it whenever I could try again, even if it meant I had to beg and grovel. But today was too special for me to actually want to take up time with that.

I stood up and brought my cereal bowl to the sink when I finished. No-one actually spoke, though I could tell they wanted to. "I'll be back later!" I gave a wave as I walked out of the kitchen and down the hall. I thought I could make out some whispering as I got my shoes on, but I just couldn't understand why they were so focused on me. As I walked outside, I shielded my eyes from the bright shining sun. I took a deep breath of the summer air, and gave a smile. I was reminded of the times when I played outside so much. When I didn't have a care in the world. Recent times had drastically reduced that time, but I still craved this type of day so much - a day where I can just throw all my worries in the air and run. Run I did, too, as I headed toward the eastern part of town. I used to play just outside town every time that I came here to visit - near the beautiful pond and the large tree. It was a perfect view of the fireworks from the Lake of Rage too. . .

I remember that I used to sit on a blanket at night every time the fireworks were on. I had gone and ruined my outfit a few times by playing right beforehand, but it hadn't been an actual issue in the end. She was there too, often thinking up stories to brag about. But even though Shannon had been a little tough to agree with sometimes, she was a good friend. We had met in school, when I managed to somehow befriend her. She was a year younger than me, but it just felt like we just... worked as friends. I didn't always like her bragging, but I had to admit that it kept things interesting. Plus, I feel like a bunch might have been made up anyway. She still just felt like she was nice, though. We played together a lot, and while she criticized my. . . choices of how to play from time to time, I could tell that she had fun in the end too.

"I'm going to win if you don't hurry up, you Slowpoke!" A fond memory of mine is when we raced from time to time. Sometimes I'd get lost in thought, and she'd pull me back to reality. She stuck up for me a few times too, when bullies tried to pick on me. I still can't figure out how she managed to get some of them to stop, but I'll always be thankful about it. I'm certain that it saved me from getting into trouble a few times as well. . .

Until she moved away ten years ago, we were very close - almost like we were family. I visited from Goldenrod every so often too. But we had made a promise to each other before she left, though it was originally meant for after we graduated. That no matter how far either of us went, we'd meet back here as soon as we could. Though I had broken my promise to do my best in whatever I tried, I still wanted to make sure I would keep my end of the deal here.


I took a deep breath as I walked down the path that led toward the park. It was a warmer day than it had been the last week or so, but I didn't let that get to me. I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist as I continued forward. I slowed down, as I thought about how much had changed since the last time I had seen Shannon. I didn't know what she might look like now, but I was sure that she would be just as amazing as ever. I listened as the wind rustled through the leaves of the trees lining the path, and glanced up to see some clouds in the sky. I hoped that nothing would interfere with the fireworks that night. . . that was tonight, wasn't it? I shook my head, and tried to focus on what mattered instead.

I frowned a little, as I felt like I had forgotten something. I reached the tree where we used to play all the time and then looked around. No-one was around except for little kids out near the pond. I sat down against the tree as the clouds began to gather overhead. I stared up toward the sky, as a melancholic look began to grow on my face. The last time we had talked was when she told me that she was leaving, wasn't it? I had said something to start the conversation - what was it? Whatever it was, she responded by saying that she was moving. I was such a brat wasn't I?? I just ran off and didn't talk to her, did I? Shannon's not going to be here, is she?

I stood up uneasily, as I quietly laughed to myself - a hollow ring to the sound that reached my ears. I wondered if my dream had been related to this at all. As the sky began to get darker, I walked over to a little section of grass before the forest. No - even if Shannon actually wanted to see me, she wouldn't be here. Because. . .



She already was here. Under the stone that I had just fallen to my knees in front of. Maybe I had thought that if I believed hard enough, she would be waiting for me - that maybe she had somehow survived. The day she had left... there had been a landslide on the path back to Ecruteak. Shannon and her parents had been headed to Goldenrod to catch the train that would take her away from me, but they never stood a chance. Their car was instantly crushed. . . even though I knew that she was in there, I must have still kept hope that maybe our promise would be fulfilled. But I was just naive. A naive fool who held on to childish hopes. I could feel my tears falling to the ground, but I didn't feel like I had the strength to wipe them away. My little sisters counted on me so much, but I let them all down when this happened. Just like now, I couldn't find the strength to help at all. . .

"I'm so, so sorry..." I felt like my throat was as dry as a desert, but it didn't matter. I pushed myself to my feet and wrapped my arms around myself. If I couldn't meet her again, then I would at least keep her in my memories forever. I turned around and began to head back to town. The clouds were going to cause the fireworks tonight to be canceled, and there was nothing here for me anyway. However, I let out a surprised shriek as my foot got tangled underneath one of the tree's roots. I winced as I landed on the ground hard, thankful that I didn't fall on the nearby rock. I sat up and rubbed my head for a moment. I sighed as I knew that my clumsiness was probably just another punishment. I winced as I stood up and wondered if my ankle had been twisted.

"Annie! Annie! You made it! I knew you would keep our promise!" I let out a surprised squeal as something tackled me from behind and wrapped a pair of arms around my waist. The voice seemed familiar, but. . . wait- it couldn't be... I glanced behind myself and then froze. I knew that blonde hair, though I wasn't used to seeing it from above. The girl glanced up with a happy smile for a moment, though seemed confused when I just stood there in shock. She hadn't changed at all. . . but how...? "What's wrong, Annie?"

"S-sorry, I'm just... a little shocked..." That was certainly one way to put it. I brushed the dirt off my shirt and skirt as I looked at Shannon. How was this possible at all? Was this a dream? It felt too real, though - and her touch was just as it always had been. I looked up and saw that the clouds were beginning to clear up. I smiled slightly as I let out a sigh of relief. Maybe this was just the miracle I had been hoping for. Here was my best friend, who had helped me since I was a little girl. Who, even though I was rougher than most of our friends, put up with a lot of my shenanigans. "You haven't changed a bit..."

Shannon giggled at my answer, and smiled smugly. "I should hope not! You seem a bit quicker to give up than I remember, though. I suppose it has been ten years, but still!" She paused as if she were recalling something, but looked over at me happily. "Still... I'm glad to see you again. It's too bad that it won't be for long, but. . ." With a shake of her head, she grabbed me hand and took off running. I was caught off guard and barely managed to not fall over at the start, but laughed as it felt just like old times. The way she phrased what she said confused me, but I decided to just enjoy the moment.

After running for a while, we made it to the Lake of Rage. I found it odd that it was so quiet, but figured that we might have just gotten lucky. Shannon led me around as if she had been navigating the paths for ages, and I just looked up at the early afternoon sky happily and without a care. "Say," The girl caught my attention, as the tone in her voice seemed a little hesitant. "Do you remember what you asked me that day?" I noticed that she continued to stare forward after she spoke. After I took a while to answer, she looked back expectantly with a look of concern on her face. I shook my head and Shannon smiled sadly. She focused on the way forward again, and I paused for a moment. I began to explain what I did remember about all our adventures before she left. I mentioned all the sleepovers we had, and that time that we fell in the pond by accident because I tried to catch a Goldeen while we were tangled up in ropes. Shannon giggled at the recollection, but still seemed. . . distant, almost.

"Then there was that time we..." I trailed off suddenly, as Shannon suddenly stopped. I looked where she was glancing, and paused as I noticed that we had reached the western gate of Mahogany. When had we circled the lake? When had we gotten back to town? Had I been that engrossed in my stories. . .? I looked at Shannon with a sudden uneasy feeling, and then followed her gaze. We were staring at the remains of a landslide on Route 42. Shannon turned to me with a sad smile. That had been cleaned up years ago - I had not heard of anything since then. What was going on. . .?

"I think I want to help re-enact that day. . . The day before I left started off as nice as today, didn't it? Although, now the sun and the moon are playing in the sky..." The young girl took my hand again. Was it just me, or did she look paler than before? "We were just having fun playing, and then when we got back, I heard about the news that I was going to be moving..."

That was right. . . we had started to play by our hiding place near the tree, and then visited the Lake of Rage to see if we could help out with anything there. We were probably old enough to help, since both of us were over 14, but... I think the adults knew that they probably shouldn't trust me to help out with most stuff. So we just helped set up the booths. Once we got back, my aunt took Shannon aside and gave her the news, though I didn't find out until later. But then what happened? I know I asked something-

Oh.

Shannon walked over to me, as I recognized that we were back in my aunt's house now. I had a bad feeling that something weird was going on now, but Shannon looked up and gave me a smile that had sadness hidden behind it. I closed my fingers around my wrist, as I remembered what happened. I knew now what she wanted me to reenact, but maybe it didn't need to go that way? "Um, I-"

"No! That's not how it went." It felt like Shannon could see right through me for a moment, as I hesitated. What would happen if I followed things exactly? I didn't want to run off again... I bit my lip, as Shannon looked uneasy at my silence. "Unless you changed your mind?" She asked quietly. I winced as I heard the tone in her voice, and then shook my head. "Then let's try this again. . ."

I felt torn, but I felt stuck. Shannon wore an urging look on her face, and I sighed. "I... want to ask you a question." She feigned turning to me despite already having been looking at me, and gave me a curious glance. "Would... you ever consider. . . going out with me. . .?" The silence seemed to almost echo through the house as I got a pit in my stomach just like the last time I asked. We were both girls, but... I just felt like I was closer to her than anyone else. I just couldn't be sure that she held the same feelings.

"I have to go soon." Shannon finally said with an uneasy look on her face. This was just how it had gone last time. She had responded by saying that she was leaving the next morning and. . . I just made it about myself. I can tell now that I had probably just made her departure harder. I looked down at the ground with a look of guilt on my face. Why had she forgiven me now? I looked back up, and nodded.

"Alright. I'm sorry for last time. . ." To my surprise, she giggled with a smile. What was up with that? The girl motioned to the window, as I looked outside. It was the day that Shannon had left - the last time I ever saw her. Had I been watching from this window then too? The girl looked sadder than I had ever seen her before... Even as she walked toward the car slowly, I could tell that she just wasn't enthusiastic about it. I paused however, as I saw a girl with long back hair run up toward the car. Shannon and her parents both looked over in surprise at the panting girl. With wide eyes, I ran outside to see this for myself. . .

"I hope you have a good time! We'll never forget you - I think I speak for everyone!!" I watched the tears flow down the black-haired girl's face, even as Shannon smiled widely. "Besides, let's meet back here as we always planned! No matter what - ten years from now! That should give us enough time to finish college, right?" I laughed as both me and my younger self grinned confidently, despite the tears running down my younger face. "Ten summers from now! Promise?"

"It's a promise!" Shannon cried happily and climbed into the vehicle with renewed enthusiasm. Her parents looked at me graciously, and I waved fiercely to keep my composure as the family drove off. My own face felt damp as I turned around.


"Do you remember now? You gave me a reason to have hope about the move." Shannon said finally, as she walked up to me. The twilight sky began to grow dimmer, as the girl took my hand once again. "Even up toward the accident, I wasn't scared. I just... I wish I had been able to meet my end of the bargain too." We were back at the tree, and I wrapped my arms around my friend to comfort her. I looked up at the dark sky, and smiled.

"It's okay. You did, no matter the way. You're here now, and so am I. I feel like I could stay here forever with you." I looked down at Shannon, but she stepped back with a sad smile. I felt uneasy, like that was a bad sign of things. Before I could say anything however, the blonde put her finger in front of her mouth to quiet me.

"I have to go soon. I just wanted to be able to see you one last time like this." I tried to protest, but she shook her head. "This is a world that is fueled by dreams. Neither of us can actually stay here, and we might see things that are better left unseen. Those like that who wander too far should wake up, or move on." Shannon sighed, as I felt my heart sink once again. "You have to live for the future. I'm... I'm just a fragment of the past. Maybe... maybe one day we might meet again, but..."

I could tell she was feeling uncertain, and I wondered if she would fade away in front of my eyes. . . but I knew I had to say something. "I... I don't want you to go..." I looked down toward the ground, but then sighed, as I looked back up. She seemed almost surprised that I looked up, but I gave a wide smile, even as I felt my tears running my face. "But... I know this can't last forever. This kind of goodbye is the truest kind anyway..." I gave a laugh, as I tried to force my smile to stay strong. "Let's make a promise. I don't know if it's possible, but if it is... let's meet again in ten years." Shannon seemed caught off guard by the proposition, but I could tell her eyes were getting glassy from tears as the sky lit up with fireworks. Lost for words, she nodded with a happy smile, as we both looked up to the sky. "Maybe then, we can..."

. . .

I opened my eyes slowly, as I stared at the ceiling in confusion. ". . . that's not my ceiling..." I groaned, as a woman in a white coat ran over and began to ask me questions, like what my name was. Later, I found out that I had been found unconscious, after my head hit a rock. I guess I hadn't been so lucky when I tripped after all... There were more questions, but I didn't feel in the mood for them. A few days later, I got released after they had finished running every imaginable test to make sure that it wasn't the sign of something bigger. I'm not entirely convinced that they actually were satisfied, but they finally relented after my aunt and uncle. . . persuaded them. I felt like a weight had been lifted since I woke, however. I remembered what had happened in that dream of mine, and while I still feel a little sad from time to time, I know that I need to make the most of the time I do have.

I spent the next couple of years doing what I'd wanted. I managed to get a temporary job at least, delivering packages to people who ordered them. I eventually married a wonderful girl, and I'm also expecting a child soon enough! I still feel like something's missing, but I actually feel like I'm content for the first time in a while. Oh, I should get some things on my way home so Rhea doesn't yell at me. . .


----


Eight years later, a young girl with light brown eyes sat alone on a swing in the playground at her school. She sighed, and ran a finger through her wavy red hair. A few of the bullies in her class targeted her a lot due to her hair and also her tendency to be both fidgety when alone and rough when playing. She wished that she could actually have a friend that would help her out when needed, and wouldn't judge her over petty things. The girl glanced longingly over at a group of her classmates, but then yelped out and glanced away as one of them looked over at her.

"Hiya, whacha up to?" The redhead glanced up nervously, and saw the other girl walking up to her. She began to swing a little to preoccupy herself, but looked over in surprise as the girl with the light brown hair sat down on a swing next to her. "I've seen you around in class a lot. But you always seem so lonely just sitting there by yourself... Do you have any friends?"

"No..." The eight-year-old stopped swinging and pulled her legs up onto the swing. She looked rather sad at the moment, but awkwardly glanced over at her classmate. The brunette seemed like she had enough people to look out for, with her group of friends. Why did she seem to want to interact? "My mommy says that a lot of friends are made the first day of class, but that was two years ago... I dinnt know how to make friends back then, and a lot of people teased me about my hair..."

"Do you want to be friends with me, then?" The redhead nearly fell off the swing and looked over incredulously. She paused for a moment as she reached for the necklace she wore. This was something she had wanted so much, but. . . she couldn't figure out why. Yet... something seemed okay to her. Like this would go just as she'd wished it would when she got a friend. The young girl recalled what her mommy had told her about making friends.

"Um ok... umm... my name is Nana... my mommy says it reminded her of my other mommy who is up in heaven..." Nana tapped her fingers together, as she still seemed a little nervous. It was a very big event for her to get her first friend, and she hoped it wasn't just a trick. The brunette simply smiled happily as she nodded.

"That is a very cute and pretty name, Nana!" The brown haired girl hopped off her swing, and smiled happily at Nana as she walked over to her. The girl's deep blue eyes shimmered almost as if she was going to cry, though that never happened. "I found you..." She mumbled, as she took hold of Nana's hands with a wide smile on her face, much to the younger girl's confusion.



"My name is Shannon!"


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#38 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Jul 18 2017 - 08:11 PM

Unity, Chapter 1

 

The marshy forest to the south of Hoenn Route 103 was not somewhere Belle LaDonna would normally be found. Normally. What was one supposed to do, though, when one encountered a pink Sneasel -- a creature not indigenous to Hoenn and in a color not normally found in nature -- and it scurried off into the brush off the road. She had been on her way to Mauville, one of her favorite cities in the region, when she had seen the creature and given pursuit.

 

“You’re out there. I know it.”  Belle was not naturally a patient woman, but she’d make an exception for this. She had been tracking the Sneasel through the area for three days, now, and she wasn’t about to give up when her gut told her she was so close.

 

A twig snapped across the clearing.  Belle whipped her head around, searching for the source.  She saw nothing . . . but she knew.  “I’ve got ya in my sights . . .”  As quietly as she could, she slipped a hand down to her belt, unclipping an empty Quick Ball she’d been saving expressly for the situation.  Her thumb hovered over the button, readying herself to make the throw.

 

A rustle to the side, an angry hiss.  The Pokémon collector slowly, disbelievingly turned her head to the side, finding herself face-to-face with a painfully pink Sneasel.  It should have been impossible for such a garishly colorful creature to get so close completely unnoticed, and yet she had.

 

“Clever girl.”

 

And the combatants sprang into action.

 

-----

 

*Clangalangalangalangalang!  Clangalangalangalangalang!*

 

“Whattaya got, Al?” Belle asked around a mouthful of steak. After losing the Sneasel, the 18-year-old was taking a long-needed break in Mauville when she got the call. Her main contact with the criminal underground, Al was the man who set her up with most of her money-making endeavors.

 

“I have a job for you...if you’re in a condition for it.”

 

Belle didn’t ask how Al knew she was injured, knowing the man wouldn’t respond.  “It’s just a scratch or two.” Or seventeen.  “M’fine.  You mentioned a job?”

 

“A decade ago, certain elements were working against Team Rocket, like Team Liberty does today but with significantly less success.  Most of them died out rather quickly, particularly once Liberty became dominant, leaving behind valuable resources and intelligence when they disbanded.  Recently, a hideout for one of these groups was located, one that may be intact.  I’d like you to acquire anything of interest from the place, then make sure nothing else is left behind.”

 

The girl chewed thoughtfully, taking time to savor the steak while also considering the task given to her. She’d never worked a job quite like this, but Al was amazingly proficient at fitting her to the work he chose. She swallowed and grinned. “Alright, just tell me where ya need me.”

 

“Start by getting to Slateport City. Call me when you get there and I’ll get your travel arrangements made.”

Before Belle could respond, he’d hung up. Al could be cagey about the jobs, but this was almost taking it too far. What extra travel arrangements would she need to make?

 

-----

 

*Clangalangalangalangalang!  Clangalangalangalangalang!*

 

Amelia Zann swore, barely managing not to fall out of her treetop perch.  Could have sworn I put the blasted thing on silent…  She glanced at the number--Unknown?  That can’t be right…  She glanced around, but her sleep-fogged senses failed to reveal anyone else around.  Didn’t mean she was actually alone, but it was the best reassurance she’d get.  Holding the PokéNav to her ear as if it was about to explode, she hit the button to pick up.  “Who are you and how’d ya get this number?” she demanded, foregoing her usual preamble.

 

“Miss Zann I presume?  Our mutual acquaintance Stone recommended your services.  As for my name…”  The voice on the other side of the line chuckled.  “I’d like to hire you to prevent it from becoming known.”

 

Amelia mulled over the unusual request.  “By whom?”

 

“Anyone, really.  Let’s just say I’m not at Liberty to reveal my identity and leave it at that.”

 

Well, if you’re gonna just give it to me like that I ain’t got a snowball’s chance in Lavaridge of keeping it secret.  “Bit of a tall order for one gal.  Any chance of some details?”

 

There was a pause at the other end of the line.  “Let’s . . . let’s just say that I’ve recently learned some of my former associates were rather careless with certain personal information.  I need it back before it falls into the wrong hands.”

 

“Now see, that sounds more like something I can handle.  Fee?”

 

The man named a price four times her usual rate.  Amelia mentally upgraded her opinion of the man.  Must be higher up in their food chain than I thought.  “Half up front.”

 

“It’ll be waiting for you in Slateport City, along with the rest of your briefing.  Good luck, ag--I mean, ma’am.”

 

Amelia didn’t bother to answer the man, just hung up.  “Well, Van,” she muttered to her companion splashing around in the marsh below, “we’ve got a job.  Time to go see just how much trouble we’re about to get ourselves into.”

 

-----

 

Belle left Mauville early the next day, wanting to get to Slateport before the sun got too bright. Route 110 would take her there within a couple hours, which suited her just fine. The road seemed oddly busy, though. She could see a group of people maybe a mile or two down the road, and even from that distance, she could hear shouting.

 

As she drew closer over the course of half an hour, she heard things escalating. Less than a quarter-mile away, she could see that what was actually happening was a battle. A big one. At least twenty Pokémon were trading blows, and the people were all chaotically shouting orders. As much as she wanted to avoid that, it would mean a long detour through Route 103 and the marshes she’d spent three days in earlier this week.

 

As she paused to take in her best path around them, though, all the trainers on one side of the conflict reached for their belts simultaneously. Each pulled off a Pokéball, and each tossed it high into the air. What was that about?

 

She got the answer soon enough. Ten or so Pokéballs opened, releasing various Graveler, Golem, Electrode, Weezing . . . And then each started to glow. Belle’s eyes widened and she turned to try and put some distance between herself and the group. The blast came immediately after she turned, leaving her ears ringing. A second later, the shockwave of ten explosions in unison ripped past her, sending her flying a few feet and slamming her to the ground.

 

Quickly she rolled into a sitting position and stared in horror at the cloud of smoke and dust where there had once been people and Pokémon. As the dust settled, she realized there would be no getting through Route 110 today. She stood with a wince and started limping towards Route 103. The authorities would be arriving on the scene shortly, no doubt, and she didn’t want to get involved in questioning and giving statements.

 

-----

 

It was midmorning when Amelia spotted her.

 

Though she’d been tempted to trek to the sea and Surf to Slateport, such a course would force them to cross a Route, something she was loathe to do.  While most Trainers relished the relative ease of travel along the well-established roads, they also tended to relish the company of other Trainers, something Amelia considered best avoided as much as possible.  Thus the duo trekked southeast, the Trainer eventually opting to retreat her partner as the ground grew more solid.  After an hour of silent solitude, she started to sense something stalking her.

 

“Who’s there?” she demanded, eyes moving but head still as she scanned her surroundings.  No sudden movements--a Pokémon might startle to attack, while a person would just wait for her back to be turned to--There!

 

Amanda’s eyes settled on empty space, a single leaf drifting lazily down from a tree branch the only indication something had stood atop it a moment before.  She had seen something, a blur out the corner of her eye, but the moment their eyes met it fled.

 

So why can’t I shake the feeling I’ve seen this before?

 

The silent forest gave her no answers.  Reluctantly, she resumed her journey, but she’d been spooked; her eyes darted from tree to tree, watching, waiting for whatever she’d seen to surface once more.  She felt it now--that sense of imminent foreboding, deep within her gut, the warning that something terrible was about to happen, the feeling she’d had that night when--

 

Amelia felt more than heard the explosion, a rumbling through the ground far too sharp and short-lived to be natural.  Something was definitely wrong, but at least for now it seemed somewhat distant from her.  She almost stopped to consult her PokéNav, sure that whatever she’d felt would make the news, but she resisted the urge.  Whatever she’d seen, it was still out there, and she couldn’t be sure it had lost interest in her.  A hand drifted to the small of her back, but she resisted the urge to draw her weapon.  Ammo wasn’t cheap, after all, and as jittery as she felt she was almost certain to waste her shot.  She considered bringing out Van, but the puddles in this part of the forest were few and far between, and if push came to shove she’d rather have her hands free.  She took a breath, trying to calm herself, and forced herself to keep moving forward.

 

She shouldered on for another two hours, the knot in her stomach only tying itself tighter, before the tension finally broke.  A pink Pokémon burst forth from the bushes, eyes wide, pursued by--

 

Amelia froze.

 

The shiny Sneasel took off like a shot, eyes wide, pursued by the man with the hate-filled scowl half-covered by his lifeless unkempt locks.  No, she realized, it was her he was after, only Van’s valiant efforts keeping her from him.

Kristoph growled, kicking at her Pokémon partner, but Amy was too stunned to stop him.  She saved me.  He’s in on it, and she saved me.  They both saved me.  The young woman finally noticed her former friend attacking Van, only the Carvanha’s snapping jaws keeping Kristoph at bay.  I have to help, she realized.

 

I have to help, she realized, still half-buried in memory.  I owe her my life.

 

-----

 

Making her way through the forest from Route 103 towards Slateport, Belle couldn’t believe her luck. A flash of pink amidst the dark green and brown, and she took off after the Sneasel once more. The chase was short but intense, with Belle suffering a few scratches she would have otherwise avoided if she’d been going slower.

 

The two broke into the clearing, where another woman was standing. There was shock on her face as a vibrantly-colored Sneasel came out of nowhere, followed by a shouting purple-haired girl. The Sneasel ran a ways past the woman and stopped, staring warily. Belle stopped beside the other person and glanced at her.

 

The other woman was just standing there, without even calling a Pokémon out to battle. Belle decided that was as close as an invitation to capture the shiny Sneasel as she was going to get. She didn’t want to scare it off by calling out Hemlock, so she pulled a Quick Ball out and expanded it. “You’re mine!” she shouted as she lobbed the ball. The creature would be hers before it knew what was happening.

 

At her shout, the older woman seemed to come about. The ball was already flying, but she reacted quickly, shooting a leg out and connecting with her heel to spike the ball to the ground, where it shattered.

 

“Hey, what in tarnation d’ya think you’re doin’?!” Belle shouted.

 

“Mine,” the woman scolded softly.

 

“. . . 'scuse me?”

 

“M-i-n-e,” she repeated, drawing out the word even longer than her natural drawl.  “Mine.  As in, not yours?”

 

Belle crossed her arms as she marched up to the stranger, anger overriding any sense of caution.  “I saw her first,” she complained, the young collector trying her hardest not to pout.

 

The stranger laughed at that, bitterness smothering her mirth.  “Don’t count on it, girl.”

 

Belle bristled at the stranger’s casual dismissal, but decided provoking a fight wasn’t worth it.  “What’re ya doin’ ‘round here, anyhow?”

 

The stranger shrugged.  “Can’t a girl take a casual stroll through a forest?  ‘Preciate the beauty of nature?”

 

Belle rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.  “Most people ‘appreciate’ the normal routes.”

 

The stranger planted her hands on her hips, eyebrow raised.  “Well, you’re here, ain’tcha?”

 

“Only reason I’m out here is ‘cause o’ the explosion on Route 110.”

 

Something passed over the stranger’s face, too quickly for Belle to catch it  “Ah.”

 

“Y’know, I’ve bled for that Sneasel.”

 

“...Tell ya what.  Since I can’t let ya catch my girl out there, maybe I can make it up to you by patching you up a little, what do ya say?”  The stranger offered her hand.

 

The collector shook it.  “I s’pose that’ll do. Name’s Belle LaDonna.”

 

“Blake Belladonna?”

 

“What? No. My first name’s Belle, last name’s LaDonna, what’s so hard about that?”

 

“Right, well I’m Amelia--”

 

“Pond?” the purple-haired girl quipped.

 

“Zann. Amelia Zann.”  Nerd, she mentally added.   “So, where ya headed, if you don’t mind me askin’?”

 

“Slateport,” Belle answered, “got a job out there.”

 

“No kiddin’?  Me too.  Bit outside my norm, but you can’t argue with a beachfront vacation can ya?”

 

Despite herself, Belle had to smile.  “No, ya sure can’t.”

 

As Amelia started patching Belle up, the two stayed mostly silent, each thinking of their own goals and the jobs they were about to do. Once the last bandage was taped into place, Amelia dusted off her hands. “Well, I s’pose we may as well travel together, since we’re headed to the same place.”

 

Belle nodded. “S’pose so. Two heads bein’ better than one and all that.”

 

“In that case,” Amelia indicated their destination with a mock-chivalrous gesture, “lead the way.”


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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.


#39 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Sep 13 2017 - 06:59 PM

Just a short little vignette inspired by a misunderstanding from Kon.
Not canon in any way, shape, or form (except that yes, he is shredded.)
 
Chronicle of the Battle of Vermilion, as recorded by annalist and chief medical officer Croaker (Or: Mercury's Killer Abs)
 
The Black Company had seen better days. In Sinnoh, an army over a thousand strong whittled down to enough men to fill less than two platoons. Small ones. That's what happens when you get hired to fight rebels and they're split up into a hundred different factions. They spen time fighting each other, too, sure. But they fight like demons, no matter who it's against.
 
After picking up some recruits, Plucky alerted me to some things he'd been seeing, things that shook him up bad. He gave me the dates and the places, and I wrote them down and took them to the Captain. He made the executive decision that Rocket wasn't paying us enough to die up north, so we left, headed for Kanto.
 
We'd heard rumors of a rebel faction in Vermilion, some group trying to restore the city's name. Wasn't long before they heard we were in town. Wasn't long that they heard only a fraction of our army was paying a visit.
 
Wasn't long before me and some of the men were in a scrap. The new recruit, Mercury, he'd proven himself as bloodthirsty and vicious as any among us (and, if I'm being perfectly honest, worse than most) but even he could see we were outgunned. Fifty rebels from this so-called Vermilion Company against ten men?
 
It was going to be a slaughter, or so I thought. New guy, though, just laughed and shrugged his coat off. I'd never seen him without it. It was almost like his safety blanket, something he hunched down into when he was feeling threatened or uncertain.
 
Then the lunatic started removing his shirt. What? I thought. Sure, we were down south, but it was the middle of January. Even in Vermilion, the temperature was in single digits. He flexed, and hard muscles stood out on his arms. He tensed, pecs and abs tightening. The kid was young, maybe fourteen or fifteen, but he had a solid six pack that would make most men envious.
 
For whatever reason, they were glowing. I couldn't tear my eyes away as he flexed harder. With a great cry, he uncoiled, and light the color of blood shot from him.
 
Fifty rebels, killed with a single flex of his stomach.

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"So Alku, happy 'was that a firecracker or shotgun?' day!"

"Hard mode: I'm in the south."

 

"Planning was never Zac Blazer's forte." - Blade, mastering the art of the understatement.





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