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Rise of the Rockets: Side Stories


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#41 Offline MELON LORD

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Posted Oct 20 2017 - 03:36 AM

Beginnings, Part 9

The duo walked through Anistar, discussing silently what they had learned. After getting the Memory Girl's help, they had trained some and begun working as a team again.

All that was left was to prove themselves once more in battle.

 

"Who are you?" A blonde girl stood nearby as she tilted her head slightly. "Never seen you around before."

 

The duo stopped and looked at the girl. Xander smiled. "We're not exactly from around here, but you'll be hearing my name everywhere some day. I'm Alexander Cruize, and I'm going to be the next Champion of Kalos! With my partner Sylph at my side, I won't ever lose another match!"

The one-armed Kirlia nodded, smiling shyly. That's right!

"And who, might I ask, are you?" Xander pointed dramatically, his shaggy black hair blowing in the breeze.

 

"Champion, huh?" The girl smiled in amusement as she crossed her arms at the kid's antics. She was reminded of some of the kids around town who shouted pretty much the same thing. "I'm no-one special. I wander around from place to place, and eradicate all evil-doers who might be there." The girl's smile dramatically faltered. "Maybe... you are an evil-doer!" A look of mock shock appeared on her face.

 

Xander's smile widened into a full-on grin. "No evil-doer am I! You're looking at a true-born hero!" He glanced at Sylph. Are you ready for this?

She nodded, smiling. I am.

Xander looked back to the blonde. "Seeing as you've besmirched my heroic reputation, I feel like we have to battle!"

 

The girl grinned as well. "A hero. . . well, I don't think I've fought a hero before. Let's go." The girl reached behind her, and grabbed a Pokeball. She frowned slightly and sent out a Clauncher. The Clauncher dramatically snapped its claws together, as the blonde stared her new opponents down analytically.

 

Sylph stepped forward,  smiling. Xander grinned. "Ladies first," he told his counterpart.

 

"If you insist." The girl gave a shrug. "Water Pulse, now!"

 

The water attack could have done some serious damage, but Xander wasn’t about to let it. “Sylph, Magical Leaf!” Sylph focused, and glowing leaves surrounded her. They deflected the water attack before rushing towards the opposing Clauncher.

 

This was an issue. The girl bit her lip, as she thought over the best plan here. "Endure it, then counter back with another Water Pulse!"

 

A ball of water shot for Sylph. Xander didn't even have to give the order. For at least this one moment, they were two minds acting as one. The Kirlia took the hit and, as the dust was settling, unleashed a blast of Psychic down the field.

 

The blonde brought an arm up to shield her eyes as the Clauncher was knocked back by the powerful attack. She frowned uncertainly as her Pokemon had already fainted. "Alright, return. I still have more fight left in me!" The girl held her finger forward, as she grabbed another Pokeball quickly. "Go my pretty! Fake Out!"

The Mienfoo didn't even have a chance to drop from the sky before it began to strike out with a distracting blow.

 

Sylph took the hit and flinched, bringing her sole arm up to try and protect herself. This, unfortunately gave her new opponent plenty of opportunity to attack again.

 

The only saving grace for Sylph at that time, in fact, was the Mienfoo's fighting-orientated moveset. "Force Palm! Keep her on the ropes!" The Mienfoo quickly struck out toward the Kirlia over and over with different variations of Force Palm.

 

Sylph staggered back under the force of the blows. Xander's face was stern, but not angry. "Sylph, don't let it get in another hit! Get some health back with Draining Kiss!" The Kirlia lunged forward, ducking under another Force Palm to come up and try to kiss the Mienfoo on the cheek.

 

"Detect!" The Mienfoo appeared to disappear for a moment, but simply had dodged to the side. "Aura Sphere, now!"

 

The Aura Sphere dissipated, mostly harmless against the psychic type. Xander grinned. "Nice moves! Draining Kiss again!" The Kirlia nodded and jumped forward to try again.

 

This time it worked, and after being drained of its health, the Mienfoo fell to the ground, fainted. The girl seemed uneasy, but recalled the fainted Pokemon, and held her final Pokeball forward. "It's just you and me, now. We can still do this! Go!" The Pokeball was thrown forward, and a Squirtle appeared with a confident look on its face. "Now, use Bubble!"

 

Three opponents in a row was definitely starting to take its toll on the duo, but Xander and Sylph were both determined to the end. Xander gave the order, and Sylph launched another Magical Leaf to counter the Bubble. The attacks collided, causing a small shockwave to ripple across the battlefield.

 

The girl felt the wind from the shockwave blow through her hair, and looked forward with a confident grin. "You can do this! Keep it up with another Bubble!"

 

The attack hit, and Sylph reeled back, gasping. Xander clenched his fist. "Sylph, you can do this! We beat Ramos, we survived Korrina. We can win this!"

The encouraging words were more than just encouraging words. They were a show of trust and compassion by her trainer, after weeks of distrust and anger. The words were enough. A white glow surrounded the Kirlia.

 

The blonde faltered, but pointed forward dramatically. "It looks like they're preparing their final attack! Come on, let's give it all we've got too!! Let's use our ultimate attack, Dragon Pulse!" The Squirtle nodded with confidence and a look on fun on its face, as it launched off the wave-y, incomplete, version of its Dragon Pulse.

 

The Kirlia turned. Xander and Sylph, two minds working in unison, cast out their arms. A wave of psychic energy rolled out from Sylph, glowing the same bright white as that surrounding her. The Psychic didn't even slow as it went through the Dragon Pulse and homed in on the Squirtle.

 

The Squirtle's eyes widened as the Psychic blast hit the tiny turtle and sent it flying back. With a wince, the blonde recalled the Squirtle, and sighed. "Well done!" She said after a moment with a laugh and a smile.

 

The glow vanished, and the Kirlia and her trainer both breathed a sigh of exhaustion. Xander took a second to blink, purple eyes fading to blue once more. "Thanks! That was a really good battle!"

Soft clapping came from the side, and two pairs of footsteps approached. "That was impressive!" a young man's voice said. "Both of you, incredible battle!"

 

"Who are you?" The girl turned in surprise at the sound of the man's voice.

 

Standing there was a young man with an iconic hat and jacket, next to a woman with long blonde hair. Xander's eyes widened. "Calem and Serena!" He turned to his new friend and pointed excitedly. "These two are the Kalos champions! They helped defeat Team Flare in Geosenge and--"

 

The girl tilted her head slightly confusedly. "Team whazit?" She looked at the two in confusion. "You two dislike fashion?"

 

The duo couldn't help but chuckle at the younger kids' antics. "No, not at all. We are Kalosian, after all." Serena winked. "Team Flare was a group of bad guys a few years ago. They were pretty scary, but nothing we couldn't handle."

"You've never heard of them?" Xander tilted his head. "They almost ended the world."

"Nothing that dramatic," Calem chimed in. "And all in the past. For now, let's focus on you two!"

"That's right!" Serena smiled. "You both are really strong trainers! We were just coming through on an errand but we noticed you battling and had to stop and watch."

"That Squirtle is going to be an amazing challenge when it perfects that Dragon Pulse." Calem smiled at the girl "And the way you handle your Pokémon shows that you have a knack for battling."

 

"Thank you." The girl said with a shy smile at the compliments. "I hope to get a lot better one day... but training comes before getting better."

 

"That's definitely true. No worries though. If you do it right, you'll find out that training is as much fun as battling." Calem grinned, turning to Xander. "As for you two, that was very well done. Three on one is tough, but you two managed it."

"What was that energy you two had at the end there?" Serena asked.

Xander shrugged. "Honestly, I have no clue. We've never had something like that happen before. We were just following some advice from the Memory Lady."

 

The girl seemed surprised at what was said there, but opted to not comment for the moment. She did, however, think over what Calem mentioned. . .

 

Serena smiled. "Unfortunately, that ate up all of our extra time here. We have to be going, but we hope to see you two again some time!"

"Definitely." Calem grinned. "Battles, even those you just observe, can forge friendships that withstand the test of time. You two, no matter where you go, will always carry the memories of this day in your hearts and minds." The champions waved as they headed off.

Xander smiled, turning back to the blonde girl. "Hey, so, we got so carried away, I forgot my manners. I'm Xander. What's your name?"

 

The girl watched the two older people go, but the boy's comment brought her back to reality. "Huh? Oh, right... My name's. . ."

 

“That’s a nice name. It suits you.”


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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.


#42 Offline Flipz

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Posted Oct 20 2017 - 04:01 AM

Unity, Chapter 2

"We have breaking news regarding the explosion on Route 110 yesterday morning. Although authorities are still investigating, government representatives have released a statement blaming Team Liberty for what they have officially deemed a terrorist attack. According to the release, Team Liberty's exact motives are still unknown, but investigators on the scene suspect the attack was initially planned to take place a few miles north on Cycling Road when the attackers met unexpected resistance in the form of patrolling Rocket agents. We'll continue to bring you more on this story as it unfolds."

The gold-haired man on the other side of the booth scoffed before offering a scathing expletive describing his opinion on the station's quality of reporting. "Wasn't Liberty, can tell you that for sure," he grumbled to Amelia. "We're not nearly that idiotic. That kind of purposeless nonsense is why I left Unity."

"...Unity?" It was the first new piece of intel she'd gotten from her contact that morning; she'd seen him hovering impatiently from the moment she and Belle had drifted downstairs from their rooms, and he'd only managed to slip into her spot in the booth once the Collector had gotten up a few minutes ago to answer a call.

"The group you'll be going after. Back when they were still active, they'd pull these sorts of random attacks all the time to try and cow the civilian populace and decrease public confidence in Team Rocket. Unfortunately for them, they weren't exactly masterminds when it came to the planning department, so we ended up aborting more missions than we pulled off--or more often, blew up whatever was in range before running from the Rocket patrol we'd stumbled across." The man--seemingly in his early thirties, if that, based on his voice--shook his head in disappointment. "That lack of planning extended to all our operations, from our bases to our files, which is why you're here." The man laid down an electronic device--seemingly a foreign equivalent to the PokéNav, Amelia guessed--and pointed to a blinking dot on a map of Hoenn, just northwest of Pacifidlog Town. "Team Unity only lasted as long as it did because we kept moving from base to base every couple of months, taking everything we had with us. Once I left and Liberty started up, the old Team fell apart pretty fast, but our spies tell us that a Rocket satellite scan managed to pinpoint one of the old Unity facilities. If it's the one I remember, this will have been their base of last resort, meaning it probably still has all of Unity's files...including our roster."

"A roster." Amelia stared at her contact disbelievingly. It was hard to tell through the face-obscuring goggles and the bandana over his mouth, but-- "You're serious. Rayquaza almighty, ya kept a danged roster."

The man had the dignity to at least appear embarrassed. "Like I said...planning was not the strong suit. But you can see why I'd like that drive."

Amelia nodded. "I'd imagine Rocket learning your name would be a fairly significant problem for Team Liberty." The man concealed his wince well, Amelia had to admit, but it wasn't perfect. He conceded the fact with a nod.

"Not to mention the names of the surviving members. I'd rather be the one knocking on their door and going for recruitment, if you catch my meaning."

She did, but she shrugged. "Ain't my call, but sounds to me like they wouldn't exactly work out to be Liberty's best and brightest."

"Better our sloppy desk-jockeys than Rocket intel's newest informants."

Amelia grunted her acknowledgment of the man's point. I suppose you'd be in the perfect position to keep them out of the field, wouldn't you, General?

The man--who Amelia was increasingly sure was one of Liberty's three elusive Generals, she'd have to check the wanted lists later to guess at which one--fixed his focus on the other side of the room before frowning. "Well, Miss Zann, I'm afraid the situation has changed. I was planning to send you to the island on my 'copter, but I'm afraid that won't be possible." Without looking at her, he slid over a credit chip--her upfront half of the payment--and a photograph. "That's our contact at the dockmaster's office. He keeps a seat open on the ferry for emergencies, tell him you saw a Pidgey shine at dusk and he'll arrange passage to Pacifidlog, past that you'll be on your own. Stay vigilant."

Wasting no time on farewells, the man slipped out of the booth and vanished out the door. Amelia had to give him credit--he moved fast, without drawing attention to himself--but rather than try and track him she instead focused on the table toward which he'd stared for those final few seconds. Four chairs, conspicuously clean, strategically near two windows, a fire exit, and the door to the kitchen. Rocket. Not a tail--too close for that, they'd have just paid off the staff--but they spotted him and cut their own meeting short. (It had to be a meeting, they'd have just called an agent and a drop wouldn't have lingered long enough to spot the General.) She traced the traffic patterns to catch a glimpse of whoever the Rocket spook had been--

Amelia swore silently.



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


"Sorry about that," Belle apologized, slipping back into the seat the General had just vacated. "My boss told me he'd give me a call when I got to..." The purple-haired Trainer trailed off when she noticed the barrel of Amelia's gun pointed at her just above the table's surface. She swallowed. "So. 'Bout that job."

"Yeah," Amelia drawled. "Funny, that."

"So." Awkward silence. "So how exactly is this gonna work? Am I gonna wind up upholstery decoration, or can we maybe walk outside and go our separate ways like civilized people?"

"Dunno. Gonna have to see cards on the table first."

Belle was pretty sure she didn't mean literal cards, but on impulse she tossed down the picture and the credit chips her contact had given her. Only after they'd hit the wooden surface did she notice Amelia's near-identical set.

Two women swore in unison. A few patrons turned to look--a few patrons too many, for what was happening. They glowered at each other until the bystanders lost interest.

"Why don't we take this outside?" Keeping her gun concealed at her side, Amelia slowly rose, slipping her belongings into her pocket with her free hand. Belle followed suit, shaking slightly as they exited the diner.

There was a sound like a truck backfiring. Belle threw herself to the side, trying to dodge the bullet.

Dodge a bullet? That’s stupid, they travel way faster than you could move. Agony flared along her arm -- as she hit the ground and skinned it. She chanced a look upwards and saw Amelia’s attention was elsewhere.

She didn’t wait around to find out what was going on. Belle took off, turning blindly down an alley.
 

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


It was pure chance that the first shot missed. She wasn’t about to leave the next to chance.

Amelia scanned the surroundings, trying to spot her attacker. Belle was bolting, but Amelia had a significantly more pressing concern--if she could just see the shooter--

A pair of murderous maroon eyes gleamed above a malicious grin. The man moved slowly, deliberately, as if he wanted her to see him, allowing Amelia to reach a disturbing realization.

That first shot wasn’t a miss. It was a message.

Everything flashed through her mind in an instant. A second gunshot rang out, but Amelia was already moving, rolling behind a taxi as the bullet ripped through the glass diner doors. She dimly heard the diners inside screaming in panic, but she had eyes for only one man, spitting the name from behind clenched teeth like a curse.

"Spencer."

Spencer’s grin grew wider, if that were possible, as he recognized her glare of recognition. "Amy," he slung in mock greeting. "So good to--" The man’s eyes widened as he dodged behind a mailbox.

BANG!

Amelia swore as the cover against which she’d braced herself unexpectedly sped away. Failing to spot any permanent cover on her side of the street, she ran for the corner, knowing Spencer would recover and return fire in three, two…

BANG! BANG!!

Amelia listened with satisfaction as her opponent’s bullets buried themselves into the building’s facade, glad she’d bought herself a few seconds to figure out where--

"You there, halt!"

Oh for the love of--

Of course she’d pick the street full of incoming Rocket agents. Fortunately for her, they were a little too preoccupied being shocked at her having a gun, giving her room to dash for an alley.

Oh, shoot, Spencer!

She belatedly shot a glance over her shoulder--yep, there he was, but this time the Rockets were ready, an array of Pokémon now deployed to back up their threats. A snarling Spencer just raised his weapon and fired, leaving Amelia time to vanish into the back streets.
 

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


"Feh." The voiced echoed across the bunker, eerily quiet but for the General’s booming voice. "Your leetle friend ees not good marksman. Is killing chances more than targets. He draw Rockets like flies to rotting corpse."

"Have patience, General." A feminine finger flicked a switch on the control panel, changing the view on the monitor. Amelia appeared, back to the alley wall as she inched around another corner, leading with her gun. She quickly whipped the weapon back, on the off chance she’d been successfully followed, but all she saw was an empty alley echoing with the increasing gunfire of the Rocket grunts. Another few flicks of the switch eventually flipped the view to the pursuing predator. "Spencer can be...single-minded, I’ll grant ya, but that means when he wants something, he’ll get it. At any cost."
 

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


The gold-haired man ripped the bandana from his face as he raced for the helicopter, the aircraft’s propellers already spinning up.

"Go, go, go!" he called, reinforcing the order with a gesture. By the time the Manectric running alongside him leaped into the helicopter’s open door, the vehicle was already hovering a foot off the ground, with the Trainer barely making it inside with the help of the second Pokémon with him. He slumped down against the pilot’s seat exhaustedly. "Thanks, Magneton, couldn’t have done it without you."

The man drew two Ultra Balls from his belt and retreated his partners, One of the helicopter’s other occupants helped the man strap himself in as the craft continued its ascent. From their aerial perspective, the man could see just how chaotic the situation on the ground had grown, with Rocket agents flooding into Slateport’s northern side in search of some disturbance. He scanned the city’s back streets, but could not see the telltale flash of red hair he’d sought. I have to hand it to her, he thought to himself, she sets a solid distraction. "Report, Agent."

"Rocket authorities currently focused on the disturbance on the north side. They’re not even monitoring this half of the city, General."

Goldhawk nodded in satisfaction. Good work, Zann. He pulled out his Pokétch, affixing it to his wrist again after its earlier removal, and tapped out a memo reminding himself to recommend the woman to his Team’s other...less scrupulous contacts.

She’s earned it.
 

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


As the woman in the bunker continued to flip through views, the pair saw Spencer walk towards their latest viewpoint, having finally ditched the Team Rocket patrols he’d goaded with his gunfire and now resuming his sinister search. He passed beneath the security camera and out of view...

...only for Amelia to rise up from behind the boxes on the alley’s other side, and slowly begin to follow.

The woman swore.

"It look like pretty lady want something too. Maybe we hope she ees also poor shot, eh?"

The woman scowled. "...sure. We’ll go with that."

She didn’t believe it for a second.
 

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


Amid all the commotion, Belle had gotten turned around. She wound through alleys, trying to find a landmark she recognized, She turned a blind corner and pulled up short, backpedaling slightly.

"Ready to die?"

Belle stared. In front of her stood the very woman she'd just fled, the woman she thought she'd managed to lose. She'd thought wrong, and now she was--

"Not you."

Belatedly, Belle realized Amelia was trying to aim around her. Without thinking, she threw herself to the ground--

BANG!

Belle clapped her hands to her ears in agony, and then--

BANG!

She didn't take the time to think. She scrambled down the nearest path, anything to get away from the madwoman with the gun. She chanced a glance behind -- Amelia was there, and for a heart-stopping moment she thought she would turn and follow, and then she had crossed the intersection to the other side.

Taking advantage of the surely temporary respite, Belle ran for the docks, and hopefully her safety.
 

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


If this were a TV show, Amelia would have casually tossed her gun aside and started clapping slowly, mocking her victim as she began her gloating monologue.

Fortunately for her, however, she wasn’t an idiot.

Amelia kept her gun raised as she surveyed her downed opponent. She was pleased to see telltale burn scars marring the right-hand side of his face and body, as well as both legs, one of which now also bore a bullet wound. Spencer scrabbled for his gun, but Amelia got there first, kicking it aside before backing out of his reach. Somewhat confident in her own safety now, Amelia grinned mockingly.

"Oh mah gawsh, Spencer, how are you?? Mah stars, I haven’t seen ya in years!"

"Cut the ****, Amy," Spencer spat. "You may’ve won here, but I ain’t givin’ up ‘til I get what’s owed me."

Amelia’s eyes darkened dangerously, but she maintained her Stepford smile. She tsked mockingly. "My my, what language, is that any way to speak to an old friend? But I guess I do owe my old friend something, so why don’t I take a look at those nasty little wounds?"

Spencer stared up at the apparently-insane woman warily. "What."

"Oh, dear. I do believe I see gangrene."

"...Gangrene??"

"Oh, yes, I definitely do. It'll have to be amputated, the lot of it." Amelia’s grin, if possible, grew wider.

"...Gangrene???"

"Such a shame, but it's for the best, y'know." She finally allowed her smile to slip down to a smug smirk as she watched Spencer squirm.

"...the **** is gangrene?!?"

"It's a medical term," she explained patiently, condescendingly.

"For what??"

Amelia grinned once more, looking for all the world just like the Carvanha she released from its ball.

"Dead meat."
 

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


Belle panted as she made her way down the docks. The office stood, light shining merrily from the windows, completely counter to the day Belle had been having. She slammed through the door and skidded to a stop, panting.

"Pidgey . . . Dusk . . ." she managed to get out between gasps. She bent over, putting her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath. "I . . . saw a Pidgey . . . shine at dusk." She looked up at the dockmaster. "Y’hear?"

A few minutes later, the ferry door closed behind her, latching with a clank as the vessel began its travel eastward. Belle let out a sigh of relief. I made it.

Unseen by ship or crew, a lone Carvanha fought its way free of the surging currents and cruised away into the open ocean, it too eastward bound.

  • 0
 

Me: *has idea*
Blade: "I'd say too convoluted, and I know too convoluted =P"

"Dangit, I shouldn't have gotten ambitious."
--Merc, RE: our plotting

Pokémon Rise of the Rockets Profiles: LINK
3DS FC: 3625-9584-9417 (Pokemon X Friend Safari: Electric-type, Pachirisu, Electabuzz, Zebstrika)

#43 Offline MELON LORD

MELON LORD
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Posted Oct 26 2017 - 09:38 PM

Part 5

 

Cameron staggered back, hand going to his jaw. “Isa! Why’d you do that?”

 

“Don’t you dare call him a cheater, Cameron Morrill! We won fair and square!” The blonde girl was as angry as she’d ever been, her blue eyes blazing as they met Cameron’s.

 

For once, the self-proclaimed star did not have a retort. He just turned and started walking away. With a collective sigh, the others followed.

 

*****

 

Shalour City was an incredible sight to behold, and all four of the new trainers found their eyes drawn towards the northern edge of the city. A tower rose high above everything around it, utterly dominating the skyline. Cameron grinned. “That’s where we’ll all get our next gym badge! Oh, and I guess where Xander--”

 

“Enough!” Isa snapped, shutting Cameron up with a single word.

 

“Tch, whatever. C’mon, then, let’s hurry inside!” The cocky kid took off running, with Octy in tow. Isa rolled her eyes as she and Xander set a more leisurely pace.

 

“Honestly, that punch was stress relieving. He’s been ragging on you on and off since we left Lumiose, and I was getting sick of hearing it.”

 

Xander smiled softly. “Thanks, Isa.”

 

“Hey, I just did it because I was getting fed up. It was ‘Xander’ this and ‘Xander’ that -- Arceus knows why Octy didn’t say anything to him.”

 

The boy nodded. “I don’t understand why she started hanging on his every word.”

 

“That makes two of us.” The two lapsed into silence as they made their way to the Tower of Mastery.

 

As they entered, Cameron turned to them, arms crossed. “First as usual. But I guess I couldn’t expect any better from you, Cruize.”

 

Xander just rolled his eyes and stepped past his supposed “rival.” In the large entrance chamber which soared far above any person’s head stood a statue. A bipedal dog-like Pokémon with spikes on its paws and chest loomed over them, an intimidating sight to behold. Winding stairs ran around the edge of the room, leading seemingly all the way to the sky.

 

Isa groaned. “Oh, this is going to be a lot of walking, isn’t it?”

 

Xander grinned. “No worries, we can make it! Right, Octy?”

 

The blue-haired trainer nodded softly. “We’ll be fine.”

 

Cameron grinned. “I’ll race you guys! First one there gets to challenge Korrina!”

 

“You’re on,” Xander replied coolly. “Sylph, do you want to return to your ball, or do you think you can keep up?”

 

I think I will be fine, she replied. Xander had to hide a smile at the shock on the others’ faces.

 

“Alright then. Let’s go!” Without further delay, the group took off running. The stairs were steep and twisting, but nobody took notice. Xander and Sylph managed to get a quick lead, but they couldn’t keep it. Cameron was taller, and that gave him just enough edge to catch up and eventually pass Xander.

 

The older boy turned his head to smirk at Xander from ahead and didn’t watch where he was going. Cameron’s foot caught on one of the steps. Before he could stop, he stumbled, staggered . . .

 

He went over the edge of the stairs. Octy and Isa cried out. Xander had no time to think about what he was doing. He jumped. The lead Cameron had gotten was enough to let Xander grab onto him. The two fell, fell, fell. Xander clenched his eyes tightly. He wanted-- No, he needed to be somewhere else, somewhere safe.

 

There was a lurching sensation, and both boys hit the ground with a puff of powdery white sand. The two stared up at the sky, stunned. Cameron recovered first. He sat up to sweep sand off his shorts and scowl at Xander. “Hey, how the heck did we get out here?”

 

“I dunno.” Xander sat up slowly, wincing. “I guess we must have teleported. Sylph managed to grab us and--”

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Now we have to climb all those stairs again.” Cameron sighed and walked back into the tower.

 

“You’re welcome . . .” Xander stood, following quietly behind.

 

“Cameron! Xander!” Isa skipped the bottom three steps to wrap her arms around the boys. “Thank goodness you’re okay! When you fell, we panicked, but then we couldn’t see you and--”

 

“Sylph teleported us out to the sand,” Xander said, waving to his Kirlia. “Good job! I didn’t know you could teleport someone without moving yourself!”

 

Sylph shook her head. I didn’t think I managed to, but I’m glad I did! She hugged him, giggling. Xander patted her back.

 

“How about we walk to the top this time?” he asked, leading the way.

 

The group made their way up at a more relaxed pace. At the top of the steps was a set of large double doors. Xander placed a hand on either door and pushed. After a brief moment, the doors swung forward, allowing light to pour out onto the companions.

 

The arena was large, easily twice the size of Grant’s or Viola’s. As the group stepped in, a woman looked up from where she was sparring with her Lucario. She grinned, spinning on her heel to face them. “Welcome to the Shalour City Gym! I’m the gym leader, Korrina!”

 

Cameron swaggered forward, grinning. “Well, I hope you’re ready to lose! Let’s go, you and me, right now!”

 

The woman’s face hardened, and she bit the corner of her lip. “I don’t think so.”

 

“What? Hey, I challenged you--”

 

“And I said no. Let me tell you, kid, you keep acting like that and you’re gonna have a bad time.”

 

Cameron scowled. “What--”

 

She grinned again, pointing a finger. “But you, with the Kirlia! You don’t see such synchronized auras every day!”

 

“Aura?” Xander raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

 

“Aura is the essence of life, that surrounds all living things! The Tower of Mastery was made to train people in the use of aura, and the most basic of that is seeing it! Seeing your aura, I can tell your emotions, whether you’re sick, whether you have any special abilities, and I can even see how close you are with your Pokémon. You and your Kirlia must be very close.”

 

Xander chuckled. “We are, yeah.”

 

“I haven’t had a good challenge in a long time, so I want to battle you two, first!” She grinned. “And if you win, I’ll give you the Rumble Badge.”

 

The young trainer nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Sylph is my only Pokémon.”

 

“Perfect! A one-on-one battle gives me and Lucario a chance to really stretch our muscles.” The blue fighting-type nodded, seeming to grin as he stepped forward. Korrina pressed a button on her wrist, and Xander jumped a bit as platforms of various height rose out of the ground. Another press of the button, and the platforms started moving.

 

Korrina grinned. “What’s your name, again? I got a bit carried away and forgot to ask.”

 

“My name’s Xander. This is Sylph.”

 

“Alright, then. Xander, I’m going to ask you to stand well-back from the arena. It’ll get a bit crowded, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” As he did so, she pressed a third button. Large transparent screens rose up around the ring for the safety of the trainers.

 

A referee stepped up to the side, smiling. “This is an official one-on-one battle between Gym Leader Korrina, and the challenger Xander! The battle will go until one combatant is unable to continue, and there is no time limit! Challenger, do you agree to these terms?”

 

He nodded, grinning. “Sounds good to me!”

 

“Then this battle will now begin!”

 

“Lucario, start off with our strongest attack!” The Pokémon raised both its hands and opened its mouth. Energy built up, then shot forward in a terrifyingly powerful Hyper Beam. Xander could swear that the ground shook with the force of the initial attack.

 

“Sylph, dodge it!” The psychic type spun gracefully. The edge of the beam clipped her shoulder, and she staggered, but she’d avoided the worst of the damage. Lucario stood there, panting from the effort.

 

Korrina chuckled. “I guess that’s why people don’t use their strongest attacks straight off.”

 

Xander swallowed nervously. “Sylph, you alright?” The Kirlia nodded and her trainer nodded. “Then retaliate. Hit it with Magical Leaf!” The attack flew, straight and true.

 

Lucario jumped aside. Korrina waggled a finger. “What, did you think we were just gonna stand there and take that? Lucario, Bone Rush!” With a growl, the opponent conjured an aura bone and broke it into two. It flew forward -- Fast! Xander thought -- and swung quickly and repeatedly.

 

Sylph managed, by some stroke of luck to duck and juke around each bone, except the last one, which hit her into the air. As she was coming down, Lucario jumped, slamming her to the arena floor.

 

Sylph rolled to her feet, panting. Xander was glowering. Grant had been tough, sure, but this was something else entirely.

 

“Sylph, Psychic!” The attack launched, and Lucario jumped over it. As he came back down, Korrina shouted.

 

“Use your special Bone Rush, Lucario!” The two bones slammed into the ground. A wave of bones rose from the ground, right towards Sylph.

 

It clicked. Xander nodded. “Sylph, the platforms!” Just as the first bone would have hit, Sylph teleported, landing safely on one of the moving platforms.

 

The Lucario nodded, and Korrina grinned. “Good job! It usually takes at least one hit for people to catch that!”

 

“I’m a quick study. Sylph, Psychic again!” She launched the attack, not entirely confident in its ability to actually damage this opponent.

 

Lucario rushed through the attack, barely fazed. “Use another Bone Rush, go!” Korrina called. Lucario jumped up to the platform Sylph was on. As he swung, his opponent teleported to the next platform up. He jumped up and continued the attack. She teleported across the arena, panting.

 

They hadn’t ever done such rapid battling before. The Lucario was showing them no mercy, giving them very little opportunity to retaliate.

 

Korrina was having a blast, Xander could tell. “Keep Rushing! She can’t dodge forever!” It was true. Sylph was already getting tired, and Lucario had only launched a handful of attacks. As he jumped to get her, Sylph teleported to the ground.

 

“Bad idea! Lucario, do it!” He slammed down again, and bones shot up from below the Kirlia, sending her flying once more. She landed hard, rolled. After a tense second, she got to her feet. Fire blazed in her eyes.

 

Xander grinned. “You just made a mistake, Korrina! You see, Sylph and I are incredibly determined! We don’t lose, we don’t quit!”

 

Korrina smiled. “Let’s see just how full of determination you are! Lucario, hit her again!”

 

“Sylph, teleport, then use Magical Leaf!” As the bones erupted across the field, Sylph vanished. She appeared on a platform behind Lucario and unleashed her attack. The grass type attack slammed into its back, hardly even causing it to flinch.

 

Lucario spun, snarling. Korrina nodded. “Nice hit. Lucario, use Dark Pulse!” With a roar, he brought his hands together. Dark aura blasted forward, directly towards Sylph. The psychic type cried out as she was blasted off of her platform and slammed into the screen.

 

She landed hard, and Xander flinched. “Sylph! Sylph, are you okay?”

 

For a moment, it seemed like Sylph had lost.

 

But she refused. Slowly, she stood, panting. She was battered and bruised, but she had a feel for the battle now. She nodded to Xander. I’ll live. Let’s do this.

 

“Right. Sylph, Psychic!” She launched the attack with force this time. Lucario took it harder, stumbling back.

 

Xander and Sylph pressed the advantage. “Future Sight!” The attack was one they used rarely. It gave the opponent ample opportunity to dodge it, but when they were off-balance it could spell victory.

 

“Lucario, special attack again!” As the opponent raised his aura bones to slam them down, the psychic attack hit. He was swept off his feet and landed hard on his back.

 

“Teleport, then Psychic!” Sylph jumped, teleporting several feet above the downed opponent. She came down, launching the attack as she did. The two collided hard with Lucario.

 

It was not enough. Now that she was in melee range, Sylph made a much easier target. “Lucario, attack with Close Combat!” The fighting type grabbed his opponent and started slamming his fist and knees into her over and over. Sylph cried out, and the Lucario finished the attack by slamming her into the ground.

 

Korrina nodded. “Now, let’s finish this Lucario. Psychic!”

 

Psychic? The Lucario knew Psychic? It closed its eyes, and Sylph found herself wreathed in blue light. Lucario slung its arm to the side, and she slammed into the wall. It slung her the other way, into the other wall. Then to the ground, and then all the way up to the high ceiling.

 

It continued pounding her until, finally, it could not continue the attack anymore. Sylph lay flat on the ground, breathing shakily, eyes half-lidded. She could not move. She could not stand. She could only lie there.

 

Lucario sat, panting. The ref started to raise her hand, but Korrina shook her head. “Hold on a sec, this isn’t over!”

 

Xander chewed his lip. “Sylph . . .” He swallowed, feeling the burning at the back of his throat. “Sylph! Sylph, are you okay?!”

 

Slowly, Sylph pushed herself into a kneeling position. She reached out mentally to her trainer. I . . . will live. She looked up, red eyes hard. I can keep going!

 

She stood, energy swirling around her hand.

 

Korrina smiled. “I concede!”

 

“What?!” Xander was shocked. He’d beaten Viola and Grant through knockouts. He’d never heard of gym leaders just forfeiting before.

 

“Lucario’s special Bone Rush uses up a lot of energy. That Psychic was the last of his strength! I yield. Since Kirlia-- Since Sylph didn’t faint, you guys win!”

 

The screens lowered, and the ref raised her hands. “This battle is over! The challenger, Xander, wins by forfeit!”

 

Korrina returned Lucario to his ball and skated across the arena to Xander. “Hey, that was a really good match. Sorry I played hard ball, but I knew you two would be able to take it.”

 

Xander nodded, supporting Sylph on his shoulder. “That was intense. We definitely learned some things.”

 

“Hey, maybe some day you can come back and we can have a rematch.”

 

“I’d like that, yeah.” Xander smiled as he accepted the rumble badge. “For now, I need to get Sylph to a Pokémon Center. Sylph, I need to return you to your ball, alright?” The Kirlia nodded hesitantly, and Xander did so. With a soft smile, he kissed the ball. “You did great.”

 

He turned to walk out, and Cameron scowled. “See, that’s just what I’m talking about, Cruize! You should have lost, and yet you still somehow got the badge.” He glowered. “I--”

 

“I’ve heard enough out of you.” Korrina crossed her arms. “Get lost. I don’t accept challenges from people with such terrible attitudes. Come back when you’ve grown up a bit.”

 

Cameron sputtered, indignant. Isa rolled her eyes. “Just go, Cameron. You and Octy find a place to stay the night, I’ll go with Xander to the Center and catch up.”

 

With a snarled order for Octavyn to follow, Cameron stormed out of the room. Korrina smiled, looking back to Xander.

 

“You and your Kirlia have a really strong bond. Your auras are so closely intertwined, I almost thought that you guys were one mind in two bodies. I’ll be keeping an eye on your progress from here on out, I think.”

 

Xander flushed. “Thank you. And thank you for not going easy on us.” He bowed, then turned and scurried out to go find the center. As he and Isa walked down the steps, the blonde smiled.

 

“So, Xander, when did you start wearing contacts?”

 

“Huh? What do you mean?”

 

“I didn’t notice it earlier, but your eyes are this really cute shade of purple.”

 

“...Purple?”


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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.


#44 Offline Metal Gear Minun

Metal Gear Minun
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  • 31-July 03
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Posted Jan 09 2018 - 12:09 AM

Making Coffee
 
 
“Disgusting. Make it again.”
 
Lohe Mahina was really losing patience for this. The old man that was his instructor threw down another mug of freshly made coffee. Lohe glared as the liquid flowed down the drain. If he didn’t need to keep this job, he would’ve walked away already. This was the twentieth time he had made coffee for the old man. Today.
 
“What’s wrong with it this time?” Lohe complained watching his work flow down the drain. “You didn’t even try the coffee this time.”
 
The old man showed Lohe the coffee mug. Inside were coffee grounds stuck to the inside of the cup.
 
“Your grinding the coffee beans too finely. This is a Kalosian press; you have to keep the grounds coarse for best results. You’re putting to much force into grinding your beans.”
 
Lohe could believe that.
 
“...On top of you ignoring my instruction on keeping the cup warm, you weren’t precise on measuring your water, and you-”
 
*ding-dong, ding-dong*
 
The old man sighed, they’d been at this for too long already, and he had other duties to attend to. “I suppose I will have to continue this later. Keep practicing, I’ll be back to monitor your progress.” Lohe rolled his eyes when the old man’s back had turned. “And take this seriously. If you want to keep this job, you’ll need to improve drastically.”
 
Lohe took a seat and just glared at the press once the old man had left the room. Keeping this job was starting to get annoying. It had been going well up to this point. Ironing? No problem. Dusting? He could do with his eyes closed. Literally.But food prep? That was what made a butler’s work impossible for him.
 
Lohe got up and walked around the kitchen. A Zubat popped off the ceiling to follow him. He looked with some dismay in the trash can. Piles of food he’d made early in the morning lay in the waste bin. The Zubat sank his fangs into a muffin Lohe had made, and promptly spat it back out. It was a pity, all of it -looked- good at least. Aesthetics were one thing, taste was another… apparently.
 
*crash*
 
A breaking sound caused the tired man to turn The crash was quiet; something small had broken. He looked between the press and the door. It wasn’t in the room. Wellllll…. Surely if he heard a noise, he -had- to go investigate it, right? Besides, there was little chance that he’d improve practicing on his own. 
 
Lohe approached the door and listened for a moment. No footsteps, whispers, rustling or breathing. There was no one in the hallway outside the door. He walked confidently out into the open, and began to follow where the sound had came from. It wasn’t hard, a different sound had replaced it. The sobs of someone crying. Related? Probably. As he walked through the hall, he began to hear yelling in a different part of the mansion. The old man was yelling at someone. 
 
Well as long as it wasn’t him.
 
But who was he yelling at? As he focused on the old man’s yelling, he caught a snippet that alerted him to who he was yelling about. The nanny.
 
Lohe sighed as he came in front of the door that the sobbing was coming from. Dealing with children was something he was never trained for.
 
Sure enough, when he opened the door, the was a small child in the room. The room was a fancy lounge, with its own bar. Now Lohe would -never- accuse anyone without proof, but… yeah the nanny let the kid get away from her.
 
The kid froze as he heard Lohe enter the room. He nearly shouted in fright when Nosferatu tried to casually land on the boy’s head. The kid was scared. He knew he would be punished for even entering this room. But he had done more than that. From the glass bottles and liquid on the floor, he had tried to drink some of the liquor and ended up breaking a bunch of it. He was lightly hyperventilating and crying, as if it was gonna be the end of the world. 
 
“Geez,” Lohe said shaking his head and turning towards the door. He’d found the kid at least. They’d probably forgive him ‘slacking off’ if he sold the kid out.
 
Seriously, what would even happen to the kid? He’d get yelled at? Grounded? Dumb kid couldn’t have been older than five. Maybe not even that. Wasn’t even big enough to provide more than a morsel. None of this was gonna matter when the kid grew up. It wasn’t like they were going to- 
 
The Zubat on his head pulled on his ear slightly and he turned around. Pointless or not, it sure seemed to matter to the kid, though.
 
Lohe sighed. Why was he about to go out on a limb for a dumb kid he’d barely met was beyond him. He walked over to the kid and kneeled down in front of him. Even kneeling, Lohe still had to look down to meet the kid’s eyes.
 
“Look, kid, I’m not gonna yell at you,” Lohe finally said to the kid. 
 
The kid wiped the tears from his face. His eyes were still red as heck, but he managed to get himself “Y-You promise?”
 
“Yeah, I promise. Why are you in here anyway?”
 
The kid took a few seconds to catch his breath. “They said it was grown-up juice. They will not let me do anything until I am grown up. So I wanted to drink grown up juice to make me grow up.“
 
Stellar logic of a child. At least it explained why he did it though. He could probably fill in the rest of the picture.
 
Lohe’s ears perked up. Another servant was out in the hall. They had just finished checking the next door room and were about to check this one.
 
“Listen, I’m gonna cast a magic spell that’ll keep ‘em from finding you in here, but you have to close your eyes, okay?”
 
The kid nodded and closed his eyes. Good kid, makes this next part much easier. Better to have his eyes closed so Lohe didn’t have to explain anything. The room was lit, making this harder. But the bar provided just enough shade for this to work.
 
The door swung open and the servant stepped inside. He looked around the room, searching high and low for the kid. He reacted with a slight bit of shock when he saw the broken alcohol. He started to hurry in his search after seeing the broken glass, before running off to tell the head butler what he head found.
 
When Lohe was sure the servant had left, he popped out of his hiding place with the kid. Nosferatu dropped from the ceiling and his own hiding place.
 
“Alright, come on. Let’s sneak over to the kitchen. I’ll tell them you were there the whole time,” Lohe said rushing to the door.
 
The kid ran after, nearly running into the door.
 
“Uh kid? You can open your eyes now.”
 
The kid’s face grew red and he immediately opened his eyes, “Yeah, I knew that.”
 
Course you did, Lohe said both sarcastically and silently. He didn’t need the kid crying again. The trio worked their way back to the kitchen, with Lohe guiding them down a path that let them avoid the other occupants of the house.
 
Inside the kitchen, Lohe noticed that the kid was still trying to pull himself together. How do you make kids stop being upset? That was beyond him. Lohe spotted the Kalosian press once again. Lohe scratched his chin. Sure, he hadn’t had success earlier, but kids have bad taste buds, right? That’s a thing.
 
Lohe began to search the stores for their coffee beans. He thought about the old man’s lectures on the different blends of beans they owned. He hoped the old man actually knew what he was talking about and not just blowing hot air as he selected the beans. When he had selected the beans he thought best for the situation, he began to heat water before starting to grind the beans.
 
The kid walked over trying to see what he was doing. Lohe placed himself between the warming water and the kid. 
 
“Don’t drink any of that stuff you saw in the lounge. It makes you stupid.“
 
Supposedly. He wouldn’t know.
 
The kid seemed confused. Being stupid was bad. But mom and dad drank it all the time at their fancy parties.
 
“Why do grownups drink it then?“ he said looking at Lohe with his confused eyes.
 
Good question, Lohe decided. They say it dulls pain, makes you feel good. He couldn’t say that from experience though.
 
He thought about it for a minute or two as he took the freshly ground beans into the press, followed by adding the now hot water to the press. He listened closely to make sure he only added the exact amount of water he would need. He’d need the rest of the water in a moment.
 
As Lohe stirred the brew in the Kalosian press, he came to the only conclusion he could think of without any experience or knowledge.
 
“Sometimes grownups like to be dumb.“
 
Lohe began to let it all steep in the press, while he turned his attention to properly serving the coffee when it was served. He looked through the possible choices, and picked a cup and saucer to place it on. He poured the hot water into the cup. All the while, the boy looked at Lohe as if he had just said that he could flip himself inside-out.
 
“That is dumb.“
 
“Yup.“
 
Lohe didn’t even turn for that last comment. He just measured out a tiny amount of milk to add to the coffee. The coffee had finished steeping and it was time to serve. He tossed the hot water from the cup, dried it out quickly before pouring the coffee and then the milk into the cup. He mixed the ingredients quickly before placing the cup on the saucer and offering it to the child.
 
“Now this is real grownup juice. All of the perks of marking you as a grownup, without making you dumb.“
 
Probably. He’d never heard of anyone getting intoxicated by coffee, but he was never able to stomach the stuff. The kid seemed to buy it though, his eyes shining with anticipation. Lohe wondered if he should really be giving this to a kid, but eh.
 
The boy was about to inhale the cup, when Lohe stopped him. “Be careful. To get the best flavor you have to make it really hot.”
 
The boy nodded, before blowing lightly on the liquid, and slowly pouring it into his mouth. He paused for a moment when the liquid first touched his tongue, but slowly got the liquid.
 
“There’s a good kid,” Lohe smiled lightly. “You know, they say it’s good for keeping you awake.”
 
The boy reacted with shock on hearing this and offered it back to Lohe. “You should drink it, then, “ he offered innocently. “Ms. Jones says you fell asleep on the floor.”
 
A vein metaphorically burst on his forehead. If he hadn’t just worked so dang hard to cheer the boy up, he’d let him have it. “Hey, don’t push it,” the tired man said crossing his arms. Where he takes impromptu afternoon breaks was no-one’s business.
 
Lohe turned his attention to the door. Someone was at the door. Well the jig was up. Lohe began thinking of an alibi for the boy. The door opened and the old man and the nanny stepped inside. The nanny rushed over to the boy, relief shining in her eyes. She took the coffee mug from his head and set it on a counter, before embracing the boy.
 
“Well, well. I was about to ask you if you had seen the boy. Glad we decided to check,“ the old man said with a soft smile. “Go on and take the boy to his parents.”
 
The nanny nodded, leading the boy to the door. The old man observed the smile on the boy’s still red face for a moment before the boy and nanny left. The old man stepped into the hallway to see them go. 
 
“Well, clean up here. You’re done with your lessons in here for today.”
 
Lohe raised an eyebrow. “What? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled. But, why?”
 
The old man merely pointed to the cup sitting on the counter, “Because you finally made a good cup of coffee, obviously.”
 
“How do you know it’s good? You didn’t even taste it.”
 
The old man looked down the hall again. The boy was laughing with his nanny. 
 
“Well, I have my ways,” he said before walking back into the room and looking at the mug itself.
 
“Sure, you spoiled it by adding milk for the boy, but you finally took the time to make it right. Your measurements were perfect. Not a single ground made it into the final brew. Might be a fluke, but you have at least made one worthwhile cup with a Kalosian press.”
 
Lohe leaned over the cup and took a whiff. Smelled good, but he had no way to check if it tasted good at all. 
 
“Huh.”
 
“We’ll continue our lessons on coffee tomorrow. Put as much care as you put into it today, and I think you’ll do fine.”
 
Lohe smiled lightly, well maybe the old man wasn’t so bad.
 
“Your next lesson will be on cleaning alcohol from carpet. We’ll start with that valuable mess the two of you left,” the old man said with a smile belied by the murder in his eyes. “Did you know I was I going to get those bottles as a present?”
 
Lohe groaned. Nosferatu laughed. It was still a long day ahead.
 

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