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Pokémon: Rise Of The Rockets

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IC: Amelia Zann/Alex Zyther (+Didi [Dedenne]/+Raleigh [Ralts]) (August 5th, Kalos time)

 

Alex watched the waves roll by as Amelia gunned the boat's throttle. He wasn't exactly sure how the strange woman had gotten the boat for them, and right now he wasn't sure he wanted to know. "What do you think, Didi?" he asked the diminutive Electric-type sitting in his lap. "Maybe she's nicer deep down?" He thought back to her attitude in Valerie's store, in the Pokémon Center, and in the hospital before. "...Really deep down?"

 

"Denene!" Didi stated firmly, quietly ignoring the uselessness of the response to her Trainer. It wasn't her opinion he needed, but rather a reassurance of his own perceptions. The Dedenne couldn't give that to him, only he could, so she simply patted his leg reassuringly, reminding him of her unconditional support.

 

Alex glanced over to Raleigh, who shifted uncomfortably and sighed. He could sense the Ralts wanted to say more, but...well, that was somewhat impossible right now, and even if he could talk it was unclear if he would. The Psychic-type held some clear guilt regarding the woman, but both parties seemed equally unwilling to discuss why. Alex couldn't play mediator between people who refused to even talk, and his Pokémon's discomfort only made his own feelings toward the woman that much more unclear.

 

He sighed. Moping was getting him nowhere. Holding tightly to the railing--he doubted he could stand on his crutches atop the rolling deck, and he wasn't about to try--he moved the few steps forward it would take to reach his new traveling companion.

 

"Do you not like me or something?"

 

Amelia stayed silent. When it finally became clear feigning ignorance was not an option, she let out a slow breath. "It's not personal, kid. Not a lot of people I do like. You're just not one of them."

 

Alex waited for an elaboration, but none came. "...And?"

 

"And we're here." As the Trainer had indicated, the docks near Shalour City were just coming into view around the bend of the coast, perhaps a couple minutes out at their present speed. "Hang tight. Soon as I deliver the yacht, we'll go find Belle--or more likely, she'll find us. After all, we're not entirely inconspicuous."

 

Alex braced himself for another of Amelia's appraising stares, but one never came. Sighing, he tucked his hands into his shorts and sat heavily on the seat next to Amelia. He looked aft to share a mournful glance with Didi. Here's hoping this 'Belle' is better, he thought miserably, otherwise this Journey is going to get even longer.



 

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)

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IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

"I am aware," Ford said. "The Second and I advised against it. They would not listen. So here we are." Ford pushed himself to his feet. He took a moment to adjust his coat and then walked to the door, sizing up the four trainers at his door. "I believe I already told you all that this creature exists solely to eat, did I not?" The cold prison bars pressed against his face as he leaned against them. "As far as I can tell, that is what it does--it eats and grows, and by eating and growing, it spreads, allowing it to eat and grow even more--an endless cycle that will eventually allow it to spread across the planet. If the forces going to research it first-hand are not careful, then they will be devoured now rather than later. And if that happens, likely the only chance anyone will have of seeing them again is if it decides to use them to create another of its soldiers."

 

 

IC - Sonja Baron/Ethan Worth/Sophia Baron - Hayes's Cell, Prison Block:

 

It took only a moment for Sophia's expression to harden again. "What are you doing here?"

 

Sonja frowned. "So that's what that feels like," she muttered, ignoring the bemused look that Ethan gave her. "We need your help with something."

 

A flash of light illuminated the hallway, temporarily blinding the three trainers. When her vision cleared, a smile forced its way onto Sophia's face. 'Mewthree' stood before her, the confusion on its face fully reflecting what Sophia felt. Were it not for its current lack of psychic abilities, the Mewtwo might have greeted her and expressed said confusion. As things stood, it fell on Sophia to verbally relay those emotions.

 

"Does it involve Mewtwo, and if not, why is it here?" she asked. "Actually, might as well repeat--what are you doing here?"

 

"Oh my gosh stop talking and I'll explain," Sonja replied in one quick breath. "So Evan said that you and Ford haven't been able to provide any intel to the brass--"

 

"I said they hadn't welcomed our counsel with open arms."

 

"Either way," Sonja continued. "It occurred to us that if they won't listen, we probably should get some better direction from you, ourselves. Not only that, but Mewtwo here fought against that thing and its minions for . . . What did Ford say? Seven months?"

 

"Seven months," Ethan affirmed, as much to help as to confirm that he was still present.

 

"Seven months. We figured Mewtwo might know some stuff about them. The only problem is, it can't currently talk right now, but since you're psychic . . ."

 

"So," Sophia said slowly. "You want to use me to talk to Mewtwo."

 

"I mean, we want to talk to you, too," Ethan said. "Just . . . not as much?" She glared at him. Ethan held his hands up. "Hey, Evan already came and tried to talk to you. You could've told him everything you have to say while he was here."

 

Sophia Baron had no retort.


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~ Rise of the Rockets (I II)/Discussion Topic/Side Stories ~

 

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-==IC: Chloe==-

 

"Then what are ways to fight it?" Chloe frowned as the imprisoned man had casually pushed that to the side. "That Mewtwo was fighting the things, I heard. Plus, you seem overly knowledgeable about them, more than us. There must be something that you don't seem to be telling us - something that McKinley probably would want you dead for. He specifically targeted you and the others. . . there must be a reason for that, no?" The psychic girl calmed herself - even if she was getting frustrated at how Ford seemed to be dismissing the questions(and at how they seemed to be continually asking the wrong ones), there had to be something that was missed. Something that Ford was overlooking in his apparent surrender. She wanted to threaten him, but at the present moment that would be counter productive. But what else were they overlooking. . .?

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IC: Xander Cruize/Octavyn Nowarei

 

"Rumors that Team Flare is still present in the Kalos region, sir. There are news reports about the lab that their boss was caught in being partially excavated. There are no signs of casualties so far, despite the number of Team Flare agents occupying the building at the time, and they think that the lower lab has been disturbed since it collapsed."

 

Octavyn said nothing.  She didn't need to, her crossed arms and worried expression saying it all for her.  Don't do this to us, Xander.  Not again . . .

 

He ignored her body language, focusing instead on Goldhawk. "I would also ask for some other agents to help investigate, but if they can't be spared then I'm willing to go alone."


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: James Arthur - Research and Development

 

 

"Solid choice," James muttered to himself as he looked at Jamie's response. He had moved straight there after ending his conversation with the Plasma operative. He needed to have a station prepared for him to alter both the Normal Type suit and whichever suit that Jamie had chosen.

 

Tatsuro (or was it Tetsuro? Even in person the two were identical) was having the Normal Type suit brought in. He signaled Tat-Tet... he signaled the researcher over and told him to bring in the Steel Type suit as well.

 

As the suits were brought in, James checked over the programs he had written once more. As he edited the copy meant for Jamie's suit, Lancelot walked up behind him. As James watched the researcher leave, he spoke up.

 

"What do you think, Lancelot? Between the Steel suits capabilities, my fail-safes, and Tristan should everything go wrong, Jamie should be as safe as possible, right?"

 

Lancelot checked James's hands as they moved across the keyboard. To most, the most interesting thing about his movements would be their speed. But Lancelot knew him longer than most. And to him the most important thing was the stiffness of his movements. Normally when typing James's hands moved fluidly across the board as if his hands were searching for alternative, more elegant ways of overcoming his obstacles. But these were rigid movements, no deviation allowed. His hands when typing were one of the few tells that Lancelot knew James had. Between the tell and his words, Lancelot knew that James was terrified. But for whose sake?

 

James stopped typing as he felt Lancelot's gaze on him. He turned towards the Scizor and stared back. He decided that his last sentence wasn't exactly convincing. Nothing seemed to be enough to James. He could try to exercise his authority to have Jamie removed from the mission, but Jamie would never forgive him for that.

 

"There... there is still one thing I can do," James said, averting his gaze for one moment. "One thing to keep her safe," he said bringing his gaze back towards Lancelot. "Lancelot you-"

 

The Scizor immediately shook his head.

 

"Wh- Lancelot, why in-... I mean, why not," James corrected himself, his face clearly distraught.

 

He felt the Scizor's pincer press against his chest. The intent behind such a gesture took only a moment to register. James tried to protest, but relented under the Scizor's gaze.

 

"Going to make sure I do not get my self killed in the process," James said as he realized that he had been panicked and calmed down. "Alright. I will still do everything in my power to protect her, but I will make sure I protect myself as well."

 

The Scizor nodded pulling his gauntlet away from James's chest. They stared each other for a while. James clearly had something that he wanted to say, but he either did not know what to say or if he did know, he was uncomfortable actually doing it. It was over a half a minute before the discomfort of saying nothing overtook the discomfort of trying to say it, so James spilled what was on his mind.

 

"Lance, you have always stood by me. I won't ask why, just know... I appreciate it. I trust you, more than anyone."

 

-That- nearly caused the Scizor to fall over. 'More than anyone?' He literally couldn't recall a time where James said he trusted anybody. Not even Guinevere had he actually put that sentiment into words. The absurdity of James expressing that sentiment was enough to elicit raucous ringing of clicks from the Scizor. James knew enough about Scizors to know that he was witnessing the rare occurrence of Lancelot laughing at him. Quite hard, from the sound of it.

 

James made an over-the-top sigh to make a show of feigned offense to cover up a genuine pang of hurt, "Is it so hard to imagine me saying that?"

 

As the Scizor regained his composure, he nodded.

 

"I suppose you are right," James said with a wistful smile, "I am not very good at it, after all. I hardly have the right to be discerning with who I trust, considering that I have betrayed more trust than anyone, including your own, and yet..."

The expression on James's face could only be described as pained. Lancelot silently thought of how to respond. James wasn't the only one who was bad at expressing himself, to humans more than most. When Guinevere was there, she could relay a message to him, but that wasn't an option right now for various obvious reasons. He wanted to show that for all James's faults, he truly believed that James was trying to improve himself, and that he was willing to trust James in turn. Yet, no single act Lance could think conveyed that, so he remained silent.

 

 


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IC - Goldhawk - Command Center, The Alamo:

 

"Find another team to cover the investigation for you," Goldhawk responded. He locked his briefcase shut and pulled it from the table. "Our last agent to go to Kalos alone barely made it home after being abducted and tortured by another criminal organization there, and that was without any previous injuries. We cannot risk that happening again with an agent already injured and without any Pokémon at full battling capability."

 

 

IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

"All I know for certain is that, in its prison dimension, its slaves could be killed by severing their umbilical cords," Ford said. "I have no idea if that holds true any longer."

 

He let go of the gate, retreating back into his cell. For several moments, Ford paced back and forth across the space, eyes clouded with thought. At last, he stopped, lifting his head to stare at the ceiling and then back at the visitors outside his door.

 

"That frustration in your eyes is familiar to me," he told Chloe. Ford walked back to the door, arms crossed and eyes settling on hers. "Thomas Warren, the original Fifth Child, often gave me much the same look as you're giving me now. Said I was too cryptic in my endeavors, that perhaps a more direct and aggressive approach would serve us better in destroying the threat . . ." Ford shook his head. "Perhaps he was right, though I can't say seeking it out proved a very beneficial for him in the end. Had I stuck to my methods, perhaps he would have lived to see this mess . . . Or perhaps this particular mess would never have come to pass, with the Fourth untainted by our enemy's evil . . ."

 

 

IC - Kyle Eston/Executive Elena Seaver - Daycare, The Alamo:

 

In the Daycare, the world may as well have been the same as ever. Young and newborn Pokémon--and even those older ones that had been temporarily left in the care of Team Liberty--frolicked about the garden, playing together and with other visiting agents and their families without a care in the world. One group of children and Pokémon currently playing Tag almost bowled Kyle over as he stepped through the doors, shouting out hasty apologies before continuing on their chase.

 

Kyle stared after them, unable to stop a small smile from forming. He couldn't remember the last time he had just let himself have total, no-strings-attached fun. Part of him was a little envious--particularly since his presence in the Daycare wasn't even by his own choosing. He made a mental note to volunteer more often, perhaps try to take advantage of the relaxed environment it offered.

 

"Kyle Eston!" Executive Seaver had descended the stairs of the Observation Deck. Kyle turned around and began to salute her, but she quickly waved him off. "That's not necessary--it makes me feel old. How are you doing? I heard about what happened in Kalos, and then on Two Island. You healing all right?"

 

"I'm fine. Thanks for asking," Kyle answered, opting not to mention the sorry state of his ribs and lungs. "I'm glad to see everything's going well here. I take it there haven't been any issues with that Bronzong recently?"

 

"I hope not--its trainer picked it up a couple of months ago," Seaver said. She patted him on the shoulder. "Well, I'm glad to hear everything's going well. And I'm sorry for the sudden call--this just came up not too long ago and it's . . . a little time sensitive because of today's emergency mission announcement."

 

Kyle frowned. "May I ask what's going on?"

 

"You'll know in a minute," Seaver said. She walked toward the Observation Deck. "Follow me--we'll explain everything."

 

'We'll explain everything,' Kyle silently repeated. He followed after her, slipping his hands into his pockets. Context clues would normally be enough to figure out what was going on, but in this case, he really wasn't sure of the situation. Evidence suggested it was serious and not serious, and that more than anything threw him off. Maybe I'm too used to dealing with people like Silvermind . . . He shook his head. That was one benefit to the situation: Elena Seaver was certainly not the same kind of person as Selene Ashera. Given the choice between a secret mission from either of them . . .

 

Well, the choice wasn't hard.

 

Executive Seaver was waiting for him on the deck. Another woman was there already, leaning on the railing and watching the activity below, her black hair swept behind her ear. At first, Kyle didn't recognize her--not because he did not know who she was, but because seeing her out of the television and out of the middle of a life-or-death crisis was such a drastic change from what he was used to that he really wasn't certain how he was supposed to react. Next to him, Executive Seaver began to speak, calling the woman's attention. He didn't catch any of what Seaver said, up until she started to introduce the two to each other.

 

"Agent Eston, this is Eileen Alaric, First Lady of Kanto," she said. "Mrs. Alaric, Agent Kyle Eston."

 

"A pleasure to meet you," Eileen said, stepping forward and offering a hand. "Formally, at least." She nodded to Seaver, who excused herself and headed back down the stairs.

 

"You, too, ma'am," Kyle said slowly, shaking her hand. "I take it you're the one who actually wanted to see me."

 

"I am," Eileen said. "Elijah is on his way--he and I have a request for you, but before that . . ." She paused, glancing over the railing as she considered what she was going to say. "Come stand with me." She leaned again against the safety bar, taking in the sight of the enclosed Daycare. Hesitantly, Kyle moved next to her, resting his hands on the railing. "Technology is amazing these days, isn't it?" Eileen asked. "The kinds of gardens and enclosures that can be made and maintained despite being cut off from the natural world is simply breathtaking." For a moment, she stood silent, simply listening. "Mr. Eston, what do you see in front of you?"

 

"Well . . . a lot of trees," Kyle said. "An artificial lake. A giant checkerboard of skylights . . ."

 

Judging from the growing awkwardness in the air, Kyle could tell that there was a specific answer that he wasn't providing. He fell silent, thinking, looking closer. Sunshine poured in through the ceiling, casting a brilliant glow upon the trees and water, illuminating the enclosure with glitter. Executive Seaver tended to a patch of bushes abloom with a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers. A pair of volunteers tended to the sutures on a wounded Tauros. A group of three girls and a boy continued their game of tag with a Furret, a Zigzagoon, and a Phantump. Nearby, another boy watched from the shade of a tree, occasionally ducking beneath the book in his hands.

 

"I see . . . people," Kyle said at last. "People and Pokémon. Kids playing together, enjoying life--kids being happy . . ."

 

The answer brought a smile to Eileen's face. "Kids and Pokémon," she repeated. "Sons and daughters enjoying the gift of life--including mine." After a moment, she turned back to Kyle, eyes and smile both alight with a soft and appreciative glow. "I want to sincerely thank you for what you did on Two Island. There was a moment once that final chamber broke out into chaos where it looked like those . . . things were going to get my son. But you saved him. Amidst everything that he can't bring himself to talk about from this entire ordeal with Ford, that is one of the few things that he can."  She placed her hands on his shoulders and pulled Kyle into a hug. "Thank you so much, Mr. Eston."

 

The change in mood and accompanying action were so sudden that Kyle wasn't sure how to respond. Finally he managed to return the hug with a meek, "You're welcome." She let him go and step back, allowing Kyle to regain his bearings. "I . . . Really, it was nothing. Any of my friends there would have done the same. I just happened to be closest to him."

 

"That doesn't change the fact that it was you." Sleight's arrival was sudden and quiet. At the sound of his voice, Kyle jumped and instinctively shifted into a salute. To his surprise, Sleight saluted him back, and then offered his hand. "Seriously--we cannot thank you enough."

"Of . . . Of course, sir," Kyle said. He shook Sleight's hand. Part of him wasn't convinced that this wasn't a delusion. He had only ever spoken with Sleight once, when he and Ray had taken Jupiter to inform Team Rocket about Envy. It was hard to believe that that had happened barely a month ago. Back then, he had never expected to see Sleight in person, let alone speak with him in his own office. Now Sleight was treating him like an equal. How had so much changed in such a short span of time?

 

He needed to distract himself before he said something stupid.

 

"Was there something you wanted me to help with, too?"

"There is," Sleight said. He walked past Kyle, crossing his arms and staring out at the expanse of the Daycare. "You remember what was learned when you and the others encountered Ford in the Egg?" Kyle nodded. "Then you know that this . . . creature--this Missing Zero--is perhaps the biggest threat to life on Earth, and that we know virtually nothing about it."

 

"I hadn't quite heard it described in those terms," Kyle said. "But yes, I understand."

 

"Boiled down to the basics, that is the situation," Sleight said. "You're aware of the mission alert that went out not too long ago?" Again, Kyle nodded. "This mission aims to serve as a reconnaissance operation, such that we are able to learn more about how Missing Zero functions, how it fights. It is a sensitive operation, one that will require utmost care and a heavy dose of luck to make worthwhile the potential losses that we face by embarking on it."

 

The more Sleight talked, the faster Kyle felt his heart beat. "You want me to go on this mission?"

 

Eileen and Sleight exchanged glances. "No," she said. "It's . . . the closer to the opposite, actually."

 

"This won't be the last operation against Missing Zero," Sleight said. "Even in the worst-case scenario, it won't be the bloodiest encounter. That distinction will go to the moment this thing manages to attack an unprepared, still-populated city. Team Liberty and Team Rocket will continue to face it again and again until either it gives out, or we do. And as members of Team Rocket's leadership, that means that we--" He gestured to himself and Eileen. "--are going to have to fight it over and over again, until one side fails."

"That could be tomorrow, or it could be months or even years from now," Eileen said. "But either way, we have to be prepared for that scenario. We have to have a contingency plan for Levi and . . ." She paused, taking a breath. "Levi and Liam." She shook her head at Kyle's confused expression at the latter name. "Please, don't ask--it's a painful story for another time. The point is, we need someone to take care of Levi--someone to watch him, to be there for him through all of this. And we think you can do that for him."

A deep silence fell on them as Kyle mulled all of this over. He felt a confused cocktail of emotions--surprise, embarrassment, confusion, apprehension, even a little . . . humbled. He stared out across the Daycare again, finding the boy with the book beneath the tree once more. He had retreated further from the group of his peers, hiding in the shadows, pulling back even as the blue-eyed Phantump tried to get him to join in the game.

 

"I really don't know . . ." Kyle said. "I mean, why me, of all people? Honestly, I'm not in the best of health right now. Not to mention I've been fighting against Team Rocket for all of my life . . . Why me and not someone trained to protect others--Elite Rockets, an entire team of them assigned to protect him?"

Eileen bowed her head, chuckling. "That's fair to ask," she said, moving to stand next to her husband. "The thing is, Levi's a . . . nervous kid. Always has been. He doesn't come out of his shell easily, and he's only become more closed-off since his brother died." Kyle looked at her. "So when he finds someone who cares--who really tries to help him--he takes a . . . a special interest." She looked at Kyle. "You saved his life. Maybe you did it out of instinct, but that doesn't make it any less significant, especially to him." She smiled. "You've got a fan, Mr. Eston. Even if he just likes the idea of you, that's something to build upon."

 

Kyle stared ahead, falling silent once again. He remained that way for quite a while--an eternity, it felt like, though it could not have been more than a few moments. All the while, his eyes remained locked on Levi and the Phantump, now curled up together and sleeping against the trunk of a tree. Levi's book was tucked under his head as a makeshift pillow; the Phantump simply rested against Levi's stomach.

 

He's only become more closed-off since his brother died . . . Eileen's words echoed in his head. Suddenly he wasn't standing in the Daycare, but in the cemetery again, in front of those graves--one for his mother, one for the brother he would never get to meet . . .

The railing was warm against Kyle's hands and forehead. He had crossed his arms, bending his head down and resting it on the metal. He took a slow breath in, and then loose a slow breath out. "You know, I always have wanted a little brother . . ." He straightened up, spacing out his hands and pushing back against the metal until he was standing upright. He nodded to himself even as he addressed the Alarics, all the while keeping his eyes on Levi. "Alright. I'll do it."

Edited by Parugi

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~ Rise of the Rockets (I II)/Discussion Topic/Side Stories ~

 

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IC: Xander Cruize - Alamo Command, Four Island

 

He could argue with Octavyn all he wanted, but he wouldn't disagree with Goldhawk to his face. The Kalosian gave a terse nod and saluted. "Yes, sir," he said grudgingly, then turned and stalked out. He would have words with Octy later. She'd undermined him twice, and now he wasn't even allowed to go investigate on his home turf. He pulled his HoloCaster free and sent a quick message to Ryan Sanders, Evan, and the others he hadn't seen in the briefing room.

 

When you get the chance, contact me. I need help.

 

He turned his ringer volume all the way up and shoved the device back into his pocket. Feeling the need to blow off some steam, he teleported out to the same field where he and Sylph had practiced Synchronization.

 


IC: Jared Winters/Lafoyae Belrose - Alamo, Four Island, August 4th 11:50 PM
 
He should have been in bed asleep, but Jared was still feeling restless even after the long day he'd had. So here he was, in the same training ground he'd met with Dahlia and the others. He was sparring with Anubis, hoping that would be enough to finally wear him out enough to sleep.
 

Watch that right leg of his. Block high, now!

 
He blocked just in time to keep Anubis from kicking him in the head, and then retaliated by gripping Anubis' left arm and pushing. The Lucario, already unstable from the earlier high kick, was sent sprawling into the dirt. Jared swung his own right leg high and brought it down in a hard axe kick. Anubis rolled aside just before Jared's heel connected, and raised his hands in a sign of submission.
 
The fight had been intense, but even as he used his shirt to mop the sweat from his face, Jared didn't feel tired in the least.
 
Lafoyae had been sparring with her Conkeldurr and Infernape, hoping to ease the restlessness that stirred within her. Tomorrow was to be an operation that would require her to be in fine form. The Muscular Pokemon swung one of it's pillars at his master, as she deftly dodged it. Then her Infernape cut in, aiming a deft left hook at her, which she blocked with her right arm, countering with a leff jab. Taking advantage of his moment of weakness, the assassin then jabbed repeatedly with both arms, noticing her other pokemon had been charging towards her. 
 
She swept the Infernape aside, and focused herself, shutting her eyes in the process, as she prepared her stance.
 
Focus.
 
The moment the Muscular pokemon had drawn close, like a coiled Arbok, she sprung into action. She grabbed him and, without breaking a sweat, redirected his momentum, throwing him to the ground. Her Accelgor made a time out pose, as the Assassin gave a nod of approval to her training partners. "Good effort, both of you." She projected out, not knowing if there was another soul around. "I feel there is still room for improvement, but it was thanks to you, that I came so far." Both pokemon rose up, and gave her an approving wink
 
Jared paused, looking around. The voice in his head had sounded different than normal. With a quick mental switch, he saw three auras a short distance away, outside of the official training area. Times like this, he really wished he had a physical weapon. Gesturing for Anubis to follow, he quietly crept toawrds the figures and stepped out of the training ground.
 
Her Accelgor froze, having heard something, and made a signal to her. The telepath struck a stance that would enable her act on impulse, no matter what was out there. "Show yourself, now." Her thoughts commanded, in a cold and focused tone. "I don't wish you harm but I will grant it if you continue sneaking up on me."
 
Jared hesitated, then formed an aura sphere in his hand, bathing the area in silver light. A hint of Mercury slipped into his voice as he said, "And here I thought all the good agents were all snug in their beds. What brings you out so late, miss psychic?"
 
Lafoyae turned towards the source of the light, and saw a teenage boy, holding a ball of light aloft. She glanced at him, taking care not to move too quickly. "Good agents rest, better agents prepare themselves, boy." The assassin spoke, her tone softening a touch. "And what about you? Aren't you supposed to be in -your- bed?"
 
The silver-haired teen shrugged softly. "I would, but I couldn't sleep. I thought I'd tire myself out." He looked the woman over carefully, taking note of the fact that she hadn't actually said anything yet. Handy trick. "What, exactly, are you preparing yourself for? I've heard a big commotion about some mission, but nobody who knows anything has told me the details."
 
"I cannot give the details, but I can say it is a life-or-death one." The raven-haired woman projected. "As that is the case, I need to make sure I am ready, lest I end up on the list of the killed." Lafoyae relaxed her stance, her expression not changing in the slightest.
 
"And so you you're sparring with your pokémon." He nodded, smiling lightly. Anyone who fought hand-to-hand could benefit from it. "Are yours at least providing you with a good workout?"
 
She looked over at her partner pokemon. "My Conkeldurr and Infernape provide a harmonius challenge." She explained. "The former helps me dodge well-timed, heavy strikes, while the latter is far more nimble with his strikes. They give me an excellent workout, so why do you ask?"
 
"Because while my Lucario is fast and powerful, he hasn't been able to really keep up with me since he lost access to his moves. Even without using my aura, I can beat him eight times out of ten." He glanced at Anubis, who had crossed his arms and was glaring down the other team. "I need a bit more of a workout than what he gives me."
 
"Is that a roundabout way of saying you wish to clash your fists with mine?"
 
Despite how the reply sounded, Lafoyae looked a little more amused at what Jared had said. Despite her pokemon being more than adequate sparring partners, she desired to see just how far she had come.
 
"If you want to, that is."
 
She struck a stance towards the silver-haired boy. "Bring it".
 
This would be interesting. "Right here?"
 
"If you beat me here, I'll tell you my rank in Team Rocket."
 
Team Rocket? Jared  tensed, realizing that he may have just made a mistake. "Alright then. Ha!" He wasted no time, tossing the Aura Sphere at the mysterious woman.
 
Without missing a beat, Lafoyae rushed forward, dodging the launched sphere, arms close to her chest as she prepare to Jab Jared when she got close.
 
As the woman drew close, Jared braced himself.  The initial attack may have missed, but he knew what Lafoyae didn't: Aura Sphere homed in on its target.
 
Lafoyae let loose 2 pairs of jabs on Jared, before noticing that it was getting brighter. Wasting no time, she ducked low, attempting a leg sweep on her opponent
 
Jared let the two jabs connect and retaliated by jumping and kicking out at the woman's shoulder, avoiding her legsweep.
 
Lafoyae was struck, but used the force of the knockback to recover. Smirking just a bit, she rushed Jared again, but rather than striking, she ducked to the side and leveled a right hook at his abdominal region. "Late warning, I don't fight fair."
 
The silver-haired trainer managed to knock the blow aside so it just clipped him. He smirked a bit. "Neither do I," he said as the Aura Sphere finally found its target.
 
Seeing no choice but to face the Aura Sphere head-on, Lafoyae turned towards the Aura Sphere heading for her side, and leveled a leaping uppercut on it. She wasn't sure what would happen, but she had to try.
 
The attack connected, sending a small jolt through the assassin. As she hit the ball, Jared kicked at her back with his heel.
 
The strike hit her in the back, sending her flying back. She narrowed her eyes. She'd have to try even -harder- to accomplish a victory. She rushed again, but kicked off into the air, backflipping behind Jared, executing an arm lock on him.
 
He cried out as his arm was snared. How far was too far, he wondered? He had agreed not to fight fair, but would that be too much?
 

No.

 
His aura flared, coursing through his arm in the form of a blade meant to make her pay for grabbing him.
 
Lafoyae acted on impulse. She knew that if that Aura Blade connected with her, it would not be prety for both parties. She decided to break the arm lock and leap back. "Intimidating, but I've seen worse."
 
He spun, taking a stance. His hair blew a bit as his aura flowed through him. He bared his teeth and snarled, "No, you haven't." He rushed at her, a fist cocked back and ready to jab at her when he got close.
 
Focus.
 
Lafoyae shut her eyes, and calmed herself, waiting for the opportune moment to appear before her. As her opponent drew close, she grabbed the arm that was thrusting forward, and taking great care not to hurt her foe, threw him away from her. "A bit animalistic, aren't you?"
 
As he was thrown, Jared spun. He landed in a crouch, skidding back a few feet. "That's just the tip of the iceberg."
 
What was scary was how much he felt like he was in control. He had made the split decision to let Mercury guide him, but he was still the one making the decisions and throwing the punches. He was very much the one trying to hurt this woman.
 
He rushed again, the same fist cocked back. Instead of throwing a punch this time, he suddenly dropped into a skid, kicking at her shins in an attempt to bowl her over.
 
Her opponent was clearly paying more attention, as Lafoyae was knocked down onto him. She quickly leapt away from him. She was panting just a bit. "You are clearly no amateur. But you are still no expert, compared to me."
 
Jared had rolled to his feet and was smirking. "Lady, I've been doing this my whole life. If you think I'm no expert, you have another think coming."
 
"I've done it for most of my time with Team Rocket. Despite your claims, your arrogance says otherwise." She sighed. "It's ended the lives of many I know. It will end you if you aren't careful, boy."
 
He snorted. "Are you going to sit there and . . . well, not talk, but you get the picture. Or are you going to fight?"
 
It happened in a flash.
 
Lafoyae's eyes narrow as she leapt at Jared, performing a spinning kick as she did so. Before he could react, Lafoyae landed and rushed him, landing two jabs before leaping away. "See what I mean? Arrogance. Nothing blinds a person like it."
 
He was hit square in the jaw by her kick, and the jabs barely even affected him after that. He brought a hand up to his cheek and hissed as his fingers were coated in blood. 
 
Turning, blood pouring down his jaw and neck, he snarled. "You ######." Silver light flared, and he rushed at her, slamming forward with a flurry of Aura-laced punches.
 
Lafoyae expressed a look of panic, as Jared drew close, his fists aglow with a silver aura. She braced herself, preparing for the pain.
 
But it never came.
 
Her Conkeldurr had rushed ahead to guard his master with his canes, which broke down, due to being punched. Her foe's hands seems to be unharmed, perhaps due to his aura. "Stop. Before either of us gets hurt badly." A tone of concern echoed in her non-voice. "I'd rather not be killed, or kill someone of such promise like you...."
 
Jared took deep, ragged breaths as he glared at the Conkeldurr. A moment later, reason returned to his eyes, and a hand moved to cover them. "I . . . I'm sorry. I lost my temper."
 
"Apology accepted." She answered, panting a bit more now. "What was that?"
 
He moved his hand, ignoring the hot pain in his eyes. "What was what?"
 
"You fought like an animal. It was efficient, but it showed no regard for safety. Considering we were sparring....." The assassin looked down, a gloomy look in her eyes.
 
"I'm . . ." Jared didn't know what to say. "It's complicated. I don't think you'd understand."
 
"Regardless if I'd understand, what I do understand is you -need- to control that." Lafoyae's breathing evened out. "It could potentially benefit you greatly if you did...."
 
Jared sighed and nodded. "I understand that I have a problem, and I am taking steps to control it. Thank you, though." He paused, unsure how to continue, then said, "You . . . fight well."
 
Her expression softened, and she gave a small smile. "I'd like to think my training hasn't been for nothing." She projected, her tone sounding relaxed. "Since it was a tie, I'll tell you my rank: I am Team Rocket's Number 2 Assassin, Lafoyae Belrose."
 
Number 2 assassin? Well that was concerning. "I am Jared Winters. It's nice to meet you."
 
"Good to meet you, Jared." Lafoyae replied wordlessly. "Despite how gruesome my position may seem, I'm more a last resort, in case someone wished harm on my superiors. Right now, the mission, calls for my skills."
 
He nodded softly. "Thank you for the sparring session.  Good luck with whatever tomorrow's mission is."
 
"Little tip, before I go: Drink some hot Razz Berry tea." her non-voice sounded kind and caring. "I am not sure if it will help with your jaw, but, it sould help numb the pain."
 
Jared bowed to the older woman. "Thank you, ma'am." He straightened. "I'll keep that in mind." He straightened and led Anubis back inside, finally feeling worn out.
Edited by Mipha's Grace

"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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-==IC: Chloe==-

 

Chloe seemed surprised by the mention of an original Fifth Child, and thought over what he said. "Who was this Thomas Warren person, and what happened to him?" Something about what Ford had said had gotten her curious, too, but she wasn't sure if overloading him with questions was a good idea in the slightest at the moment. "After you're done, do you mind going into detail about how you got involved in this in the first place, out of curiosity? I recall you mentioned something in the egg, and. . . it could be relevant."

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IC: Ryan Sanders - Ford's Cell, Prison Block

"Wait, what?" Ryan gripped the bars of the cell as his mind rapidly processed what Ford was saying. "You mean McKinley wasn't always a giant evil clown?" He suppressed a shudder; it was hard to find any sympathy for the monster who had stolen Sonja, Ellen, and Ray, but the revelation that McKinley had once been . . . 'normal,' for lack of a better term, somehow knowing that made the clown even scarier.

 

He stared through the bars at Ford, hardly daring to ask the question poised on the tip of his tongue. But if Ford had lost two of his agents to this thing prior to Two Island, then that knowledge could prove invaluable in preventing the blob from claiming more victims. When he did speak, the hesitation in his voice betrayed his fear.

 

"Wh-what happened to McKinley and this Warren fellow . . . ?"


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

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IC - Goldhawk/Sleight/Bounty/Jackson Sang/Esen Windred/Skye Hall - Training Arenas, The Alamo:
 

As promised, an alert went out for the Power Suit training session later that night. It was a straightforward affair: The eighteen volunteers for the mission to Three Island were outfitted with their armor. They and a number of technicians and officers assembled in front of the raised stage on which Goldhawk stood, his suit's helmet tucked under one arm. A popup screen stood behind him and to the left, alight with a presentation from a projector. In front of Goldhawk stood a table, where several objects rested.

 

"Listen up--we want this to be thorough, yet quick," Goldhawk called. "Disregarding the specialized equipment built into each suit, operation of the Power Suits is fairly simple." He clicked a button. The screen changed to display an animation of what the suits' HUD looked like--vitals monitored in the upper-right corner, the suit's power just below that, diagnostics in the lower left, an equipment status indicator in the lower right, and an attack list in the upper left. "The helmet tracks your eye movement. Focus on a target, it'll highlight that target. Friendlies are highlighted in green, targets in red--the helmets know the difference. Equipment and moves can be activated virtually with a thought--just concentrate on the move you want to use. Focus on the list and you can search through it for whatever you're looking for--try to memorize your move list as soon as possible. In a pinch, you can activate your equipment manually by pressing the panel covering your left ear." He demonstrated with his helmet. "Comms are activated by pressing the same panel on your right ear." He demonstrated again. "For either of these, the button will stay down when its is active. If it is raised to its neutral position, then it is deactivated. Simple enough."

 

"Down the left-hand side of the HUD are seventeen green markers. These are monitors for the other Power Suits on the field--your teammates. Damaged suits will change to orange; destroyed suits will change to red." The projected animation reflected this information. "If a suit changes to orange, it is imperative that the operator of that suit retreat as soon as possible. Nearby units should do whatever they can to ensure that retreat is possible, even if that means signaling a full retreat for the rest of the unit. We cannot allow Missing Zero to absorb this equipment--there is no telling what will occur if that happens. Is that clear?"

 

A unified affirmation arose from the crowd. Goldhawk placed his helmet on the table, nodding to the presentation operator. The screen shifted from HUD animations to an analysis of a different piece of equipment--a black, rectangular device. Goldhawk held it up.

 

"This is called a Return Module," he said. "Designed as part of Team Liberty's Project WITHER. You will each need to pick one up from this table. The Return Module can be carried on your person--in this case, by magnetizing to your suit--" He demonstrated by placing the device on his waist, where it stuck above the suit's six Poké Ball slots. "--and syncs with your vital monitors. In the event that your vitals drop below normal, the Return Module will instantly return any Pokémon you have deployed. If left unattended, as in the case of unconsciousness of death, it will return your Pokémon back to Team Liberty." He spoke very carefully to the group now. "Although the Return Module can be deactivated or its parameters modified, it is imperative to consider the possibility that you may not personally be able to make it back home. In this case, it may be better for you to send your Pokémon back, allowing them a longer lease on life." Goldhawk's expression softened. "Ultimately, however, that choice is up to you."

 

He nodded to the operator again. The screen now displayed a list:

 

13. Normal: James A./6. Fighting: Lafoyae B.
1. Bug: Skye H./10. Grass: Lucia Z.
14. Poison: Ava W./2. Dark: Ryan H.
15. Psychic: Amanda Z./3. Dragon: Jayron A.
16. Rock: Elijah A./9. Ghost: Madison M.
7. Fire: Dack M./4. Electric: Markus A.

17. Steel: Jamie A./12. Ice: Ray H.
5. Fairy: Theodore W./8. Flying: Esen W.
11. Ground: Jackson S./18. Water: Richard A.

 

"Finally, each of you has been assigned a sparring partner," Goldhawk said. "The purpose of this is not to defeat your partner, but to work together to learn the intricacies of utilizing the Power Suits. Technicians will be on-hand to assist you and offer direction. Again, you will want to focus on committing your move list to memory and on learning to use your specialized equipment, where applicable. Some suits are more readily usable than others--the distinction will be obvious if you've read up on your particular suit's equipment." He folded his arms behind his back, scanning the crowd. "Any questions?"

 

IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

"Thomas Warren and Tyler McKinley . . ." Ford sighed. "Where to begin . . ."

 

The Shadowed Man disappeared into his cell again. A moment later, a scraping sound echoed through the cell and hallway as he pushed his armchair in front of the door. When he had placed it squarely in front of his visitors, Ford sat down, crossing his legs and rubbing a hand on his chin as casually as if he were being interviewed on a morning talk show. He fell silent, thinking, and then leaned forward.

"I suppose, in a way, everything is connected," he said at last, shifting his gaze between Chloe and Ryan. "Many years ago, my mother came to power within an organization in Kalos called the Signs. It was a . . . culture into which I was born, one that I was raised to love and embrace. When I was very young, I inherited the Symbol of Famine from my mother, and with it, the mantle of Shift, becoming one of its four leaders. Of course, being but a child, I needed guidance, which I received from two of my elders--Eve Dawson, wielder of the Symbol of Death and the mantle of Clue; and Gethin Pollux, High Mage of the Signs. Together, these two taught me everything I needed--to know, to lead, to see, to survive."

 

Ford paused, thinking.

 

"I lived that way for some time--leading the Signs, directing my kin." Ford breathed a long sigh. "Until about . . . twenty years ago now, just on the eve of Team Rocket's ascent to power. I became aware of certain indicators that something big awaited the world--many somethings, beginning with the fall of Giovanni and the rise of Team Rocket--an . . . unsettling prediction that ended up true--perhaps by coincidence, perhaps by fate. Either way, it spurred me on. I studied. I consulted. And I found the traces that it left for me to find."

 

Ford stirred in his seat, shifting his jaw.

 

"Seventeen years ago, I discovered what I believed to be the solution to the problem," he continued. "The ritual came to me in a sort of dream, and I recorded the tenets upon awakening. The most basic of these, I believe you know--the assistance of Nine Children, the swear to secrecy. I began to recruit my Children. The first was young Paris Ebner from Unova, aged fifteen . . ." Ford clenched his jaw, looking down at his hands in silence. He cleared his throat before speaking again, though did not look up. "Paris was followed the next year by Sophia Baron, aged fifteen, and another year later by Tiana Soldati, also aged fifteen, both from Unova. Each of them served with me for the next eight years, accompanied only by each other. We became family--they my son and daughters, and each other their brother and sisters . . ."

 

He fell silent again, overcome--perhaps for the first time in a long time--by emotion. He wiped his eyes with one hand. When Ford had composed himself, he continued again, his voice noticeably more tired.

 

"The next two to enter the fold," he said. "were Tyler McKinley, aged fifteen, and Thomas Warren, aged seventeen--seven and five years ago. I knew them as Seth Gacheru and Raymond Roth--though I believe the latter was a simplification of Warren's true name, made for the sake of fitting in with his peers. When I found them, both Seth and Raymond were outcasts, considered freaks in a world that had no place for those without a defined role. Seth was too strange, too loose; Raymond too . . . angry. Classy kid, though--liked to wear a monocle." Ford chuckled. "I brought them in, gave them a place in our world. They worked specialized operations, targeting individuals to gauge or remove them, training for the day when they would serve that very same purpose against our enemy." 

 

After a deep breath, Ford finally raised his head again. "Their record was impeccable, until their final two missions. The first, they insisted, meant nothing--they insisted it was a minor slip-up on a job that they had felt unimportant, half-baked, to begin with. Despite my misgivings, they convinced me to allow them to go forward with their final mission, into the prison itself. Perhaps I should have known better."

 

He shook his head.

 

"All I know from this point is what was reported to me by McKinley upon his return. The Fourth and the Fifth went, and they failed--now, I see, with disastrous results. It was a reconnaissance mission, first and foremost--a test to gauge the monster's status. Combat was a secondary priority. If it turned out to be dangerous in its imprisoned state, they were to retreat and return, fighting only to secure their escape. What they found was the Mask of Ice, and a creature that had gorged on fresh meat, giving it fresh material to create its foot soldiers. It attacked, and they did not retreat--not soon enough. Warren was always quick to a violent response. He fought, and soon, he was overwhelmed and devoured. McKinley returned--injured, bedridden for months, but alive." Ford paused. "He was never the same after that. We merely chalked it up to trauma shredding his mind . . . I suppose, though, that being reconfigured into a facsimile of one's self might as well have the same result."

 

The Shadowed Man fell silent for some time. He breathed deeply, lost in his own thoughts.

 

"And so we are here," he said. "My Children and I, dead or imprisoned. All of our work turned on its head, undone by our own attempts at salvaging the world from a future of death and destruction . . ."

Edited by Parugi

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-==IC: Chloe==-

 

Chloe froze as she picked up on some details that unnerved her, to say the least. Her hands trembled, as she gripped the iron bars to steady them. She hoped she was wrong, she just hoped so. But. . .

 

"What... did Raymond look like? D-did. . . he have red hair?" She was positive it was impossible with what Ford had said, but. . . With a shake of her head, she began to pull out the pictures that Sonja had made, and held two of them up - one of the ones that Kyle identified as belonging to one of the Signs, and one of the sigils. She recognized it now as the mark that had been tied with Wrath. "Do you recognize any of these pictures; this one specifically?" Chloe raised the hand that held Wrath's emblem, and tried to keep herself calm. If Warren had been absorbed, there was no way that he could have been who she was thinking of - right?

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IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

"I'll assume that you know who I am and skip that formality." Evan said politely, giving a slight bow to Ford. "This creature came from another world, parallel to ours, correct? If so, then why wasn't Palkia able to warn me of this creature, despite its power?"

 

"The Hero of Space, of course." Ford nodded. "A pleasure." He rubbed his chin. "Truth be told, I'm not entirely certain that it inhabits time and space like an ordinary being. It certainly does not appear to abide by our natural laws like one might think. Pokémon like Celebi might bend space and time around them, creating an anomaly that can be felt and sometimes seen, but if it were a creature that exists completely outside of the webs of time . . . Now that is another question entirely."

 

He turned his attention to Chloe. After a moment of pondering the pictures, Ford shook his head. "No, I can't say I have." He gestured to the other. "This one is Quentin Dallas--my successor as Shift. Real piece of work." The mere thought of Shift elicited a scoff from Ford. "You have the red hair down--always kept it slicked back. A bit darker than Dallas's--more of a conventional red, almost like wine. As I said, he often wore a monocle--said it helped him focus. I'd say he was about . . . five foot eight or so?" He gave Chloe an odd look. "I don't suppose you fought him on Four Island?"


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-==IC: Chloe==-

 

Chloe nodded for a brief moment as she heard what Ford said about Shift, and then paled a little as the shadowed man described exactly who she was afraid of. "No sir. . ." The girl said as she strained to think back to that fight. "I might have maybe seen someone like him, but. . . my brother and I actually fought him roughly a month ago."

 

The look on the psychic's face was grim as she closed her eyes, recalling what she had overheard during the fight with Wrath. "You said that 'Raymond' was a simplification. . . Raimundo - is that what it actually was? Raimundo Rojo?"

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Luke - Ford's Cell, Prison Block

Ryan was still trying to piece together everything Ford had said. Team Rocket's rise to power had been predicted? McKinley had been assimilated into the blob, turned into one of its many puppets? And then there was Chloe's claim that she and her brother had actually fought Thomas . . . Raymond . . . Raimundo, whatever his name was. He glanced at his fellow Liberty agent in surprise. "Are you suggesting that Warren got the same treatment McKinley did? That doesn't make sense; if that was the case, then why wouldn't they have both returned at the same time?"

 

Luke seemed to pay no attention to Chloe's interest in the original Fifth Child. His face had paled at Ford's speech and it was several moments before he was able to form words. "A reconnaissance mission . . . that's exactly what Dack and the others are prepping for." With a grim expression he motioned to his Pokétch, indicating his friend had kept him updated on the mission. "Do you mean to tell me that anyone trying to fight that thing could turn into another freaky clown monster without our knowing?"

 

At that moment three devices buzzed at the same time. Ryan chanced a glance at his Pokégear to see a group message from Xander asking for help. He pocketed the device. Right now getting answers from Ford was most important.

 

IC: Dack Majors/Madison Morrow/Jayron Aaron/Theodore Willows/Ava Willows - Training Arenas, The Alamo

When no one immediately responded to Goldhawk's inquiry for questions, a nervous murmur spread through the crowd as the volunteers started to review the list and tried to locate their sparring partners.

 

"Oh, this is so nerve-wracking!" Madison told Dack in a tense whisper. "I'm working with Shadow Admin Sleight, the leader of all of Team Rocket! I feel totally unprepared for this!"

 

"You'll do fine," Dack assured himself as much as he assured her. "You couldn't ask for a better sparring partner; you'll learn from the best of the best. Make sure you pay attention to any tips he gives you."

 

"I could say the same to you." Madison pointed back at the list. "You'll be training with Goldhawk."

 

Dack nodded silently, choosing to keep to himself the irony of fighting directly alongside very face of the rebellion he had fought against for so long. In the eyes of Team Rocket, Goldhawk had basically been Public Enemy Number One. Of course after Two Island, all that was in the past now. Markus Aleivy was just another man trying to save the world from annihilation.

 

It didn't take long for Jayron to spot the woman who had approached himself and James after the earlier briefing. He had chosen to place Lucario back in his Pokéball, much to his partner's chagrin. For as much as Lucario wished to give Jayron fighting advice, the executive knew that he would need to command his full attention to learning the power suit and how to integrate it with his natural aura abilities.

 

"Why did it have to be him?" Ava stood motionless, her eyes narrowed into a glare at the screen as if she could somehow give herself a different partner through sheer willpower.

 

Theodore glanced up at his wife's name and shook his head. "I don't envy you," he muttered, turning his eyes on the man who seemed to hold such an influence over their daughter. "So, his name's Ryan . . ."

 

"I'll find out everything we need to know about him," Ava said. "Then when this mission is over, we're going to have a long talk with Shannon."


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

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IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

Ford stared at Chloe, his silence more or less a confirmation of what she was asking. He cupped his mouth, looking between Luke and Ryan. "If it repurposed Raymond like it did Tyler," he said slowly. "Then I could certainly see it spacing out their deployment--different uses at different times for different objectives. The Fourth was clearly meant to act as a spy and saboteur amongst the other Nine Children. But the Fifth . . ." Ford's eyes shifted back to Chloe. "That would certainly depend on what context you encountered him in."

 

The Shadowed Man raised a hand to his head. "If there is one fortunate consequence of this creature inhabiting our world," he said after a moment. "It is the fact that it has lost the element of surprise that accompanies its conversion of our own. While McKinley's transformation was overlooked, we can say now that there are telltale signs of corruption--clear mental degradation, a sudden reemergence after loss of contact during conflict with the creature." Ford offered a small smile to Luke. "It will have to perfect its procedure if it wishes to surprise us again with its . . . 'freaky clown monsters,' as you put it."

 

The ensuing silence was deafening. Ford sat utterly still, contemplating the conversation. "I hesitate to be optimistic," he said slowly. "But I also hesitate to fear the worst with the current situation. McKinley and Warren were powerful, but they were two individuals going into a blind engagement in an unfamiliar place. Team Liberty and Rocket, while lacking the help of their Pokémon, nevertheless have the advantage of knowledge, foresight on what to expect. It's hard to say how it may turn out, but one thing is certain: How this mission goes will determine the course of this new war. That, I assure you."


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-==IC: Chloe==-

 

Chloe stayed quiet as Ford explained his thoughts on the matter, and then gave a nod as the shadowed man mentioned that this would likely be a determining fight. The psychic girl chewed on her lip for a moment as she contemplated how to go about the conversation. This all was information that the people going on the mission could really use, and now they needed to pin down things.

 

"Before I actually continue with questions, I want to explain the context we fought Raymond in. A month ago in Goldenrod, a man named Wrath attacked me and my brother - targeting my brother as a 'Sin'. This symbol appeared as he was defeated," Chloe held up the paper with the symbol of Wrath once again, and then ruffled through the papers to find the other drawings that looked like they would be Sin emblems. "I don't know too much about these things, but we were also attacked by Sloth when we were on our way to you the other day. I have to admit that I have no clue what the function of these Sins are, but maybe if we have more info, we could figure it out. . ." She held up the rest of the papers one at a time, wondering if Ford had any more ideas about them.

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IC: Xander Cruize

 

The stone with its hairline crack was still right where he -- they'd dropped it less than a week ago. It would make a good target for Xander to vent at before the others responded.

 

He started by throwing branches at it with his telekinesis. Mostly, he needed to work on feeling for things without necessarily seeing them. If he could find the string, he could find the object without using his eyes. It was an interesting feeling, a sense of awareness of his surroundings that would have been nice in other situations. Each time he grabbed a string, he seemed to gather more information about what was around him. Something to ask Sylph about, he thought.

 

After a while, he stopped. The sticks weren't changing anything, obviously. What he needed was to unleash directly. He focused, then released a Psionic Burst. Barely ordered mental energy, like what he'd used against the Tentacruel when it had grabbed him. A small puff of dust rose up off the rock as it struck, and he built up the energy for another attack. He held this one longer, focusing more of his energy towards it. He released with a small flick of his wrist, and smiled as he saw a faint shimmer in the air this time.

 

Another one. The focus came easier every time he did it, his mind finding the quickest way to get the energy into a concrete form for attacking. This one still shimmered, though he'd only spent half the time building it up. As it hit the rock, he was already releasing the next one.

 

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. More focus, this time reaching deep inside to pull out the energy. He unleashed it, and grinned. A bolt of dark purple slammed into the boulder with a solid sound.

 

Xander continued his assault on the rock, each bolt coming faster and stronger than the last. As he worked, he slowly zoned out, his thoughts going back to Octavyn's betrayal. First the big mission -- Another Burst that left a larger cloud of dust. -- and then the Kalos mission. He glared as he built up more energy. With a shout, he poured everything he had into this one and unleashed it. A spiraling attack, almost like a drill, shot forth, hitting the crack he and Sylph had made.

 

He sustained it, forcing more and more of himself into the attack. There was a resounding noise, and the crack widened just as Xander's personal reserves ran out. He collapsed to his knees, gasping. Sweat soaked him, and something hot poured down over his lips. He reached up to wipe it away and winced as he saw his fingers coated with blood.

 

With a curse, he pinched his nose shut and stood. Shakily, he walked inside and towards his room.


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: James Arthur/Lancelot - Liberty Training Grounds

James exempted himself from the training, due to having both executive privilege and the fact that he was already experienced in the use of his suit. He chose to use that time to test out the new firmware in his suit, as well as make sure no problems arose in Jamie's Steel Type suit. He didn't even need to be near Jamie to keep checking on her, as the programs he installed into her suit gave his suit updated feedback from the Steel type suit. When training was concluding elsewhere he was already at the training fields to go spar with the training partner he brought with him, unaware of the one chosen for him. While he wasn't occupied with Disabling and Encoring Lancelot this time, the fact remained that Lancelot had his powers deactivated in a fight against his Normal type suit before and he still found a way to come back on top. So James had asked the Scizor to help with his final preparation for the mission.

Final checks complete, James noted as his software made its last check. "Alright, Lancelot," he called to the Scizor standing about twenty feet away, "Shall we begin?"

"No holding back, Conkeldurr."

 

Lafoyae had let loose a barrage of punches on her sparring partner. Despite her experience, the Rocket Assassin definitely felt different in the Fighting Suit. From what she could tell, the suit had a limited capability to use other types in it's attacks, but she wanted to experience what she had first. Her Conkeldurr swung his left cane when she had leapt back. As she dodged the swing, the orange-clad woman noticed another person in a power suit sparring with their Scizor. The way he fought showed he was clearly experienced with how his worked.

 

"Hold off Conkeldurr." She spoke in his mind. "I may be able to give both of us a good workout."

 

The main reason she had skipped the meeting, despite everything, was she had made sure to get a good read of the suits' capabilities. She needed to be at the top of her game for when she had a rematch with these creatures. She hopped the person she was approaching would help accelerate that...

James felt a nagging feeling accompanying a muffled voice in his head. The nagging feeling nearly caused him to mistime his Protect. Nearly, as the Scizor's claw bounced uselessly off the field emitted in front of his arm. It took James a moment to realize that someone was trying to talk to him via telepathy. It had been a while since he felt it, but he instinctively had tried blocking out the intrusion in his mind. "Lancelot, hold for a moment," James called to the Scizor.

The Scizor seemed disappointed, but nodded and backed off.

James turned around and saw a woman in the Fighting-type suit. "My apologies, but would you repeat what you said?"

She sighed, and then gently pointed to him. "It would seem you are quite deft with that suit. I'd like to spar with you, if you would allow it."

James wondered why she didn't simply speak with her voice, but was more receptive this time. He considered with dismay the fact that she was using the one type that was strong against his, but the rational side of him told him, better to prepare with someone who doesn't want you dead. He smiled and nodded back, "Thank you for the compliment. I would be honored to be your sparring partner... only," he started looking towards the Conkeldurr, "to make it more interesting, let us bring our Pokemon into this and make it a double battle."

 

"I find your terms interesting, and more importantly, acceptable." Lafoyae remarked, her psychic tone sounding agreeable as she and her Pokemon drew close to where James was. "My Conkeldurr and I hope we are suitable opponents for you and your partner Pokemon."

 

"Likewise," James said as he activated a program to reset his custom protocols. "If you're ready then," the Normal Type suit spurred to life with James's words. On James's display were the words 'Auto Buffing Started: repeat{Stockpile, Work Up} for 3 cycles'

 

"Start."

Without missing a beat, Lafoyae stomped her right foot on the ground and flexed. Bulk up would afford her some useful power and defense, to hopefully deal with what James could strike her with. She then rushed towards him, making sure to anticipate what he could do. As she rushed towards the Liberty Executive, her Conkleldurr stared down Lancelot, grinning. He cracked his neck and knuckles, and proceeded to lumber towards his sparring partner.

Lancelot sized up the Conkeldurr heading towards him. He seemed strong, stronger than most of his opponents these days. As a Spotlight fell on him, he thought it a pity that wouldn't get to fight such an opponent one-on-one. Upon James's screen was a new command: Deflect protocol active: initiate {Spotlight, Baton Pass}. The lamp emerging from James's shoulder forced both opponents to target Lancelot, whilst also giving Lancelot the boosts that his protocols gave. Lancelot bounded towards the redirected Lafoyae, determined to drive his pincer into her chest.

Lafoyae had noticed she was more inclined to attack James' Scizor. Whatever was going on, she would just have to adapt. As she and the Scissors pokemon drew close to each other, Lafoyae clenched her fist, which became clad in flames. "You may have me drawn to your pokemon, but......" Lafoyae projected. "Your Scizor is the Venomoth drawn to the flame here." As she attacked, Her Conkeldurr was prepared to back his master up, as he had done many times in the past.

James wagged a finger with a smug look on his face. Before Lafoyae could reach Lancelot, she felt herself being drawn back towards James. A second prompt started beneath its brother: Converge protocol active: initiate {Follow Me, Psyche Up}. The suit copied the same stat boosts he had transferred to Lancelot showered all attention on him. He ran towards Lafoyae, a small dagger protruding from the suit. He wasn't looking to land a blow, but merely to force her to focus on him and lower her guard, so that Lancelot could assault her unimpeded.

She saw the dagger.

Life as an assassin had tempered Lafoyae to sudden changes. A lot of her jobs had sudden complications. Her surprise was then exchanged with a cool expression. "Quite the trick you have there." The assassin projected, a playful tone in her voice. "But the fighting type is more than brute force!" The moment she finished, a wall of light appeared around her.

Detect, James noted. Well, best part of the Normal Type suit was its ability to deal with anything that could be thrown at it. A false image of James appeared and struck the Detect, dispelling it. As James followed it at high speed, it seemed that he might like he might land the first blow. However, the goal wasn't to strike her, but merely move past her. With James out of the way and the Detect removed, Lancelot had nothing in his way. Twisting his arm like a corkscrew, Lance shot a punch at Lafoyae's back.

Again, she had missed, and she paid for it with being struck by Lancelot, sent a ways away from him. However, the moment -after- that, the Scizor found his offending pincher gripped hard by a big meaty right hand. Connected to that hand, was a glowering Conkeldurr, who was in the process of throwing a mean left handed punch.

Lancelot found himself unable to move any significant amount. He was used to facing strong foes, but in comparison to facing down Pierce's Golurk, the Conkeldurr's strength was much more compact. He braced himself for a strong hit, but felt nothing. The fist was barely an inch in front of Lancelot's face when it slowed to a near crawl, drastically reducing its power. James seemed to exerting himself a great deal whilst both of his hands were extended towards the Conkeldurr. Even with the full power of the suit being directed towards Disabling the Conkeldurr, stopping the Conkeldurr's attack was almost impossible. The Scizor clicked with joy. He was excited from that smack at the suited woman. It had been a while since he had tasted combat, since he inflicted pain. A wicked smile appeared on the Scizor's face as he reached for the arm grabbing his own, intended to snap down on it until it let go of his own hand.

The Conkeldurr growled in pain as he released his grip, freeing Lancelot's pincher. As he did so, the fighting type gave a small grin of respect to his opponent. It'd had been a while since he had a worthy opponent. The air suddenly grew hotter, however, when Lafoyae impacted the Scizor with a Blaze Kick. No words this time, for she was getting quite serious now.

What advantage James and Lancelot had was lost with the Blaze Kick's connection. Regardless of whether it was from a Blaziken or a human in a suit of armor, a Blaze Kick's 4x super-effectiveness was going to do massive damage. Lancelot tried to roll from the attack, to dispel both the impulse and the flame attached to him. James clapped his hands together and bowed his head. On the screen before him was another custom prompt: Prayer{Wish, Heal Bell}. He was prepared on his end, but Lancelot would need to be ready on his his. The Scizor regained his footing and took a defensive stance.

Lafoyae didn't miss a blink. She fired a Vacuum Wave at Lancelot, to distract him, as she rushed towards James, a Mach Punch charged in her fist. Her Conkeldurr, meanwhile, rushed towards the Scizor, clearly having the time of his life. He wanted to fight this most interesting foe, who seemed to be cut from the same cloth as him....

Lancelot kicked himself backwards to make some room for a Spotlight to fall on him. Lafoyae once again found herself having to redirect towards Lancelot, but this time a healing force came along with the buff. The melted parts of exoskeleton reforged, leaving only minor wounds behind. He leapt a short hop back once again so he could see both Lafoyae and Conkeldurr.

"Enough. Conkeldurr, to me."

Those were the words projected by Lafoyae as she used Blaze Kick to propel herself towards Lancelot again. However, instead of hitting him with it, she chained that into a Close Combat. Not soon after, she activated the last charge of her Fire Punch, and let loose one Fire Punch amidst her volley of punches on the steely body of her foe. Seeing how Lafoyae had focused on his foe, her Conkeldurr had decided to change how he fought. From what he was seeing, he just had to wait for the right moment, to strike him.

Lancelot decided that dodging the one Fire Punch was worth taking a number hits from Close Combat. He had been passed two defense from the Normal Type suit. Still the Fighting Type suit was an impressive machine meant for offense, and he definitely felt them. Once the Fire Punch was finished, Lance gave a one-two jab in return. James was eerily reminded of the first time he used the power suits. The chance of attacking his foe if he was willing to chance Lancelot being hit. Not this time. This time he chose to support Lancelot by using Glare on Lafoyae. A pair of paralyzing eyes appeared in front of him, to try and paralyze the assassin.

Due to the Glare, which she couldn't dodge in time, Lafoyae's rush of punches began to slow down, until the assassin had stopped, panting heavily. The assassin looked at Lancelot, a look in her eyes, one could be certain, would make Gyarados pause. Seeing his chance, her Conkeldurr threw his left Cane, aiming for James' head.

James had focusing on making the Glare connect, so he had only seen the cane after the Conkeldurr threw it towards his head. The force it had been thrown with, the precision of its strike. Fear crept on his face, forcing panicked indecision into his head. Lancelot saw the Conkeldurr throw it. Time slowed for the Scizor. One look at James's face, at the cry for help that he couldn't utter, and his best friend sprang to action. Lafoyae's own glare went totally ignored, as the Scizor brushed past her. Without thinking, Lancelot ran after the cane. The cane's speed was impressive, impossible to catch up to even. But Lancelot chased desperately after it, moving quickly and then faster, until he reached his top possible speed.

And then he ran faster still.

Following his fist, he charged at increasing speeds, until he had overtaken the cane. Both his and James's eyes had expanded out of shock, but the Scizor had no time to consider the possibility of his actions. He turned and shot his fist forward, colliding with the cane. And the cane shattered, showering both Pokemon and trainer with debris. Both were hurt, but it was a far kinder fate than letting the cane hit intact. "Lance, you, that, what?!" James sputtered, his normal composure taking a fair bit to return. This shock James that now experienced was not a bad feeling.

Instinctively, James compared video of Lancelot in his fight against Lance to what the suit was reading Lance's speed to have just been. The video was specifically of when he had been Encored and Disabled, in a similar state as to what he was now. Completely an analysis between the two in seconds, the conclusion was clear. If both runners had been moving at top speeds, then the test told him that the chance that both runners were the same being was virtually zero. The only time James had ever seen Lancelot move that fast...

"Lancelot, use Bullet Punch!"

The Scizor immediately knew what James was asking, and shot his hand forth... only for it to be a normal punch.

 

"I do not get it," James muttered aloud, trying to figure out the mystery, before remembering that he was still on a battlefield.

Were this an assassination, Lafoyae would have commanded her Conkeldurr to strike James with his other cane, this wasn't an assassination. In her experience, despite trickery and pragmatism being her forte, sparring matches were exempt from that policy. "I concede defeat, James Arthur." The assassin's gentle voice echoed in the executive's mind. "It may seem foolish, considering things....but it'd be poor form to strike a future ally while they are distracted. Don't you agree?"

Funny, it does not feel like a victory, James bemused silently. Still a gentleman was gracious in both victory and defeat, as it were. He bowed his head and Lancelot did the same. "Thank you, I will learn from this experience. It was an honor to face you Miss..." James checked the logs to see who was using the Fighting Type suit, "...La-Lafoyae Belrose?"

James had been a Rocket. One who held tons of (illegally accessed) information. He expected that one day he would have to face at least one of Team Rocket's top assassins, but he hadn't expected it would be under such relatively friendly circumstances.

"As it was to face you, James Arthur." The assassin projected with a curtsy. "It was quite a show, seeing such masterful use of that suit. I do look forward to working with you, during the mission."

As this was happening, her Conkeldurr held out his left arm, rendered caneless by Lancelot's punch, out to his opponent. He knew his foe was just as dedicated to battle as he was, and he had been taught by his master to show respect to his foes.

Lancelot returned the gesture with his pincer, but it could be seen in his face that he was still distracted by something.


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IC: Amanda Zarth

 

Amanda was compiling a number of reports in her room when the alert came in. Power Suit training...yes, that was mentioned at the briefing. She dismissed the matter and returned to her reports, failing to make the connection until a chime sounded at her door.

 

"Enter."

 

A mousy Liberty technician stood in the entryway. "Miss...er, Knight Zarth?"

 

"Present. Is there something you require?"

 

"You..." the Liberty agent gave her an odd look. "You're supposed to be training in like ten minutes."

 

Amanda cocked her head. She had found the gesture useful for indicating confusion to outside observers, prompting a useful release of contextual information.

 

"With the Power Suits, I mean."

 

No response. Such absence would usually provoke elaboration, as it soon did.

 

"For the mission. The mission tomorrow." The technician stared at her, obviously awaiting a reply.

 

Amanda blinked. "I received the message, though I am uncertain as to the reasoning behind the necessity of my presence."

 

The technician gaped at her. "The mission tomorrow...that you signed up for...that you're supposed to be going on?"

 

A multitude of thoughts raced across Amanda's mind. There had clearly been a miscommunication, but how to remedy it? Withdrawing her participation could harm relations between Team Plasma and Teams Liberty and Rocket, and with only a ten-minute window before the training session, it seemed unlikely she would be able to find and inform either of her superiors to participate in her place, let alone both of them. I will need to rendezvous with Knights Hakuda and Tierra as soon as possible, she mentally noted, but in the meanwhile it appears I will need to continue to act in their stead.

 

She of course expressed none of this to the technician, instead swiftly gathering her various accouterments into her briefcase. "Very well, then. Please direct me to the quickest route to the designated gathering point." And so she left, in the tow of one very confused technician, against all odds arriving precisely at the designated time.

 

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

"Any questions?"

 

Amanda had several, but at the moment her attention was elsewhere--namely, on her C-Gear and the detailed information on the Power Suit that had been provided to her. Fascinating, she thought as she considered the move list, they have replicated an impressive variety of Psychic-type moves for use with the device. I will have to inquire as to the methodology behind their selection process. As she continued to familiarize herself with her available abilities, she noted her slated opponent, Executive Aaron, to whom she nodded in greeting. After a short period of further study, she turned her attention to the magenta machinery she was slated to pilot. She gave the exotic equipment a full three-sixty inspection, tapping various points on the armor and taking notes on her C-Gear. Finally, she turned to a nearby technician, coincidentally the same one who had summoned her. "Pardon me, but where is the insignia meant to be attached?"

 

"I'm...sorry?"

 

"The alignment insignia. Laws of international warfare require that all combat uniforms bear some identifying insignia of the organization deploying the operative. While these suits may fall within a gray area legally speaking as to whether they are considered uniforms or combat vehicles, it would still be appropriate for such insignia to be borne upon them."

 

"I'll, uh...see what I can do." The technician slowly backed away from the strange woman, careful not to break eye contact, before bolting from the room.

 

Confident her inquiry would be addressed prior to the mission deployment in the morning, Amanda carefully suited up while another technician walked her through the basic functions of the HUD. At last she stood ready to spar...or she would have, had her eye not caught a particular move in her arsenal that drew her attention, one with which she had significant experience. The Plasma functionary returned to her briefcase, opening it to consider the Poké Balls within before finally extracting two, carrying them with her as she approached Executive Aaron.

 

"Excuse me, Executive, but would you mind if two of my partners participated in our spar? While it seems unlikely that they will be able to participate offensively, it will allow me to better familiarize myself with certain moves in my suit's move list that require the presence of an allied combatant." She held one of the Plasma Balls out to her side, at approximately shoulder height, thumb hovering over the button for the release as she awaited the Executive's approval.



 

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)

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Luke - Ford's Cell, Prison Block

"Raymond became one of the Sins?" Ryan stared at the symbols Sonja had sketched, his thoughts drifting back to Melanie, Melissa, and Albero. Under what circumstances had three ordinary people turned into Lust, Greed, and Gluttony? A thought struck him, and he quickly turned back to Ford. "You still remember Raymond! Before he turned into Wrath!"

 

It took all of two seconds for him to realize how stupid that sounded. The four pairs of eyes staring at him like he had lost his mind didn't help.

 

"Sorry . . . let me back up." Ryan sheepishly explained how he had heard of the battle in R&D between two Liberty agents (whom he kept anonymous) and the Sin-ified Garven twins, how he had returned to the town where Melanie, Melissa, and himself had grown up, and how the Garvens' parents didn't seem to remember them at all. "It was like they had never existed, yet I clearly remember them, just like you clearly remember Raymond. You . . . you never met anyone who should have known Raymond but forgot about him, have you?" Ryan's mind was racing. "There's more -- for the last few chambers in the egg, we started seeing those Sin symbols. One per chamber. They'd only flash briefly before each child let us pass. The Sins must have some connection with this monster."

 

IC: Jayron Aaron - Training Arenas, The Alamo

"That sounds fine," Jayron said, ignoring the mental protests from his Lucario's Pokéball.

 

Relax, he told his friend. She already said her Pokémon won't be fighting offensively. The same can't be said for you, even without your powers. It wouldn't be a fair fight.

 

His attention turned back to the Plasma Agent. "If anything, it'll give me practice fighting multiple enemies at once. Based on the intel from Two Island, it sounds like we're going to be poorly outnumbered by the Missing Zero's instances."

 

He led Amanda to a more open area and placed his helmet on his head, setting his fedora aside a safe distance away. A low hum sounded as the Dragon Suit powered up, the HUD flickering to life in front of Jayron. He pressed down on the comms; the technicians had already ensured that each sparring group had their own channel so the partners could communicate without disturbing the other fights.

 

"I'm ready when you are."


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

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IC: Xander Cruize - Alamo Barracks, Four Island

 

Still no response from the others. Xander had cleaned up and changed out of the blood-stained T-shirt. After finding something to keep his nose shut, he dug through his backpack for another shirt to wear. Frustrated, he dumped the contents onto the bed.

 

A carefully folded red suit sat at the top of the pile. He cast a nervous glance at the door and used some of his returning mental reserve to switch the lock into place as he picked it up. He brushed his fingers over the lapel as memories came rushing back to him. He stood and double-checked the door before he started changing into the suit.


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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-==IC: Lucia==-

 

Lucia had to admit that she had not expected to be chosen to spar against Skye. Nonetheless, after she donned her Power Suit, the healer walked over toward the former Fifth Child.

 

"Long time no see!" The helmet prevented the other girl from being able to read her expression, but there didn't seem to be any malice within the tone of Lucia's voice.

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IC: Xander Cruize - Alamo Barracks, Four Island

 

The suit fit almost too well. Xander straightened the tie that had been in with the rest of the ensemble -- white shirt, red suit jacket, pants, and sunglaseses -- and paused as someone knocked on the door. Oh, this is not good.

 

He reached out to read who was knocking and let out an audible sigh of relief. It was just Sylph, coming back from a walk to find the door locked. He shucked the coat, tossing it to the bed, and opened the door to allow her inside. As soon as she slipped in, he closed and locked the door again.

 

Sylph put her hand on her hip and made a point of looking him over. "And just what do you think you're doing?"

 

"I needed to change clothes. My other shirt is covered in blood and--"

 

"What did you do now?" Her voice was sharp, and Xander put a hand to his forehead.

 

"I overdid things while training earlier, nothing to worry about. Anyways, I was looking for a fresh shirt and found this in the bag. I'd forgotten I packed it."

 

"So, you decided to just put it on and call it a day? You can't walk around the base like that, they'll think you're--"

 

"I wasn't planning on wearing it outside of this room, okay? I know it would be basically saying 'Hey, I'm a spy, shoot me now.'" He sighed. "I just . . . I just needed to see if it fit."

 

"Well, it does." She reached out, tugging on the black noose around his neck. "I didn't know you could tie a tie."

"It's one of the things my father taught me before . . . " He cleared his throat and undid the knot. "People always told me I looked just like him. Well, turns out they were right. When I looked in the mirror, for a second I thought I was looking at him again." He swallowed, feeling a lump int he back of his throat. "I'm going to keep the shirt on. Everything else goes back in the bag and never comes back out while we're here, alright?"

 

Sylph nodded softly and began folding the jacket. "I just don't want you to get in trouble, alright?"

 

"I know." He sighed, picking up his jeans off the floor. "I'm not going to. Now, how about we talk about something else?"

Edited by Mipha's Grace

"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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OOC: Jam with Blade

 

IC: Ryan Hikari/Ava Willows - Training Arenas, The Alamo
Neither side was particularly talkative, which only added to the tension of the heated battle. The Liberty techs observing the fight assumed both combatants were simply focused on mastering their respective power suits. While that was true to an extent, Ava's actions were fueled by a bitterness stemming from her first encounter with Ryan. The gas chambers that lined the Poison Suit emitted a Clear Smog to negate Ryan's previous Hone Claws. With her opponent temporarily blinded by the thick smoke, another compartment on Ava's wrist ejected a handful of poison-laced shurikens, which she scattered at Ryan's feet. The soft tinking of the Toxic Spikes on the floor were Ryan's only warning of the indirect attack.

Ryan turned his head from side to side as he heard the sound of the Toxic Spikes landing around him. The smog had proven itself already to be a bad enough issue that he needed a way around it. The man activated the Taunt routine to prevent the amount of status attacks for a while, and then activated the scanning function on his suit to try and find his opponent through the smog. Ryan stood still after that, and waited for Ava to make another move.

Ava cursed as her Toxic Spikes cartridge jammed, preventing her from adding to the poisonous obstacle course around her opponent. She knew she only had a few precious seconds before the smog dissipated, and so she circled around to attack from the side. Poison coated her arms as she activated the Cross Poison attack and charged toward Ryan.

Ryan turned quickly, and punched out as he heard the footsteps of his opponent drawing closer from the side. He hoped that his Sucker Punch would be enough to give himself some breathing room, as he noticed that she seemed a little more aggressive than he would expect. He had a feeling it was related to what happened earlier, but. . .

The punch caught Ava by surprise. Winded, she haphazardly executed her Cross Poison as she passed by her opponent before falling into a retreat. She paused several paces away to catch her breath, her eyes glaring at Ryan. "So," she panted. "You're not all talk. I'll admit I'm surprised you're not giving me the same verbal lashing you gave my husband earlier."

Ryan winced as he felt the blow of the attack and turned around to look at Ava. "There's a time and a place for everything. I don't agree, but I also know this isn't the time."

"Of course," Ava said in a surprisingly pleasant tone. "I do have just one question for you. Why was my daughter so eager to fight alongside you despite the incredible danger of this mission?" She extended her arm to fire a Sludge Bomb. "It's clear you have some combat training, which can't be said for Shannon. So why do you think she would want to risk her life here?"

Ryan twisted to the side, as he glanced around as the smoke cleared. He needed to get away from the Toxic Spikes, but how. . . with a shake of his head, the man activated the Torment function too, to try and lock down the woman's options. "I don't know, honestly. It could be because I've helped her before, but you're right that I have more training than her." The dark suit user held up a hand and unleashed a Dark Pulse toward Ava. "It could also be that she's tired of being left behind and abandoned."

Ava narrowly avoided the Dark Pulse and tried to fire another Sludge Bomb. The suit would not respond. At first she thought it was a mechanical failure, before remembering the typing of her opponent. "So, if my husband and I hadn't been there, would you have let Shannon go on this mission? Knowing she's been recovering in the hospital, would you have put her freedom over her safety?" Ava accented her last words with a Sludge Wave, figuring the wider-ranging attack would be harder to dodge.

Ryan quickly thought about how this could be repelled, and launched of a Night Daze around himself to try and push the Sludge Wave back. "I'm not the one who decides what someone should or shouldn't do. No-one but the person themselves should be able to. I might not agree with what someone does - but in the end, it's their call. If she had chosen to go - and wasn't stuck without that issue - then all I would have done was protect her if she needed to. No-one should have their lives dictated for themselves without any say, even if things aren't in their favour."

"And that," Ava said as the Night Daze blocked her attack, "is the difference between a so-called 'friend' and a parent. If Shannon wanted to jump off a bridge, would you let her? If you think all you'd have to do is protect her, then I'm afraid you don't understand the gravity of this mission. Why do you think my husband and I joined Team Liberty? So that one day, our daughter could enjoy a life without war. You would take that away from her by letting her throw herself into the middle of a fight she can't handle!" Ava fired another Sludge Bomb, and charged forward to follow up with a more direct attack. Her gauntlet glowed a sickly purple, indicative of the toxins contained in the Poison Jab ability.

"And just how well have you done that so far?" The tone in Ryan's voice betrayed his emotions as he took the Sludge Bomb head on. He was glad for the protective aspects of the suit, but knew that he couldn't just take all of these attacks. The man attacked with another Sucker Punch, as he looked piercingly through his visor toward the older woman.

"Your fighting has already taken that away from her - you already took her away from all her friends once. Did you ever think about how what you're doing might be affecting her? And to add onto that, have you ever thought that maybe she can handle more than you might think?" Ryan grit his teeth, as he unleashed a Payback-fueled punch at the woman's shoulder. "Where was this concern when Liberty attacked Ecruteak not long after Shannon left? Where was this concern not even a month ago when Celadon was attacked? It feels to me like the only time it matters is when it suits you or your husband. I'm trying my best to stay respectful, but if I may be blunt, I disagree about what you said about that being the difference."

Ryan stepped back while keeping a cautious eye on Ava, as he retracted the visor on his helmet so that she could see his face. "I feel like you had infinitely more options to make sure that she wouldn't be dragged into a war, than joining the war. What would have happened if you had died? What would have happened if she had died because of your involvement? Regardless of your intentions, by making the choice you did, you dragged her into a life with war. It was your choice to do something like this; what did your parents say about your decision to join Liberty? Think about that before trying to take her choices away from her."

Ava grimaced at the punch but followed through with her Poison Jab. A dense Smog poured from her suit. "I don't have to justify my actions to the likes of you," she growled. "But if you must know, we moved Shannon out of Ecruteak so she wouldn't have to see that battle. We face death every day; don't you dare suggest we take that lightly. We came to Celadon as soon as we heard of the attack, and would have turned the city upside down to find her." As she spoke, Ava silently kept time. By now, she figured, Ryan's Taunt protocol had worn off. A mechanical whirr proved her theory as her suit responded to the Coil protocol. "You claim that you'd protect her, but let me ask you this: where were you when my husband and I finally found her, and why was she in a hospital bed?"

"On a boat headed to go after Ford." Ryan said with a frown as his visor covered his face as the Smog appeared. "She was being looked after by my aunt and my mother - two people I can trust, along with my sister. She got hit by an attack that my other sister actually stopped from being fatal." The man shook his head. "If I had known what she was doing, then she wouldn't be able to get hit in the first place." Ryan leaped back, as he tried to get away from the Toxic Spikes. He reactivated the Taunt protocol, as he frowned behind the mask.

"Sometimes these things just happen, and no-one has any control. Right now, you're acting like you want to control Shannon's actions, but she's not a child. She's an adult just like us, and she should decide for herself what she wants to do. Have you ever given any thoughts as to what she actually wants past what would be good for her? Was there no better alternative than ripping her away from friends she knew for years?" He wanted to keep giving talking a chance, but... at this rate, it didn't seem like Ava was up for listening 'to the likes of him'.

When Ava's attempt at a Toxic failed, she promptly tried to cut off Ryan's escape with another Poison Jab. "You really don't know anything, do you?" she growled. She fired a Poison Sting to get around the effects of the Torment before throwing another Poison Jab, relying on the rapid succession of the attacks to catch her opponent off guard. "Of course it wasn't ideal, but we had no other choice. Do you think we enjoyed uprooting our daughter from her home? Do you think we loved watching her grow more and more distant? Don't you dare claim to be better than us because you refuse to make the hard call!" With a yell of anger Ava summoned a Sludge Bomb and hurled it at her foe.

"You're right - I'm not better than you. But stop and think. Why do you think she grew more and more distant?" Ryan raised his arms to block the attacks, as he didn't retaliate yet. The man decided that there was just one course of action left, and stepped back as he dropped his guard and just stood there. "Actually - I'm going to ask a better question. Why are you so angry with me, to the point that you're attacking all out in a training session?"

Ava narrowed her eyes. "Because the enemy will not give us an ounce of reprieve. We're training for a fight that will be tougher than anything any of us have ever faced. You heard Goldhawk: it is vital that we not let our guard down against the Missing Zero." Quick as lightning, she lashed out with a Cross Poison. The attack hit point blank, knocking Ryan to the floor. As techs rushed forward to see if the Dark Suit trainer was alright, Ava stood over her opponent, her voice dripping with poison. "Nor should you let your guard down against me."

Ryan stood up as he waved the technicians off. "Maybe I shouldn't. But I get the feeling that it wouldn't help things. You didn't answer my question either. Do you want an actual fight?" The man glanced at the vitals of the suit - he could probably take a few more hits like this, but shouldn't chance it if he could help it. He was glad that his arm had healed, but at this rate, one or both of their suits might be destroyed in this training fight. . .

For a long moment Ava stared at him. She looked ready to lash out again, but instead turned away. "We're done here," she muttered coldly. "You're not worth my time. We should save our strength for the true battle ahead of us." Without waiting for a response, Shannon's mother stalked off, leaving Ryan to wonder where things went so wrong.


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

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IC: Kure Shoken

 

She walked quietly through the base, taking note of everything that needed cleaned or repaired. Not that there was much in the way of pipes or wires hanging outside of the walls. Leaving things exposed generally meant more work as things broke down more often. Certainly, it would be a pain to tear open the walls to fix something, but at least she would only have to do that once a year at most.

 

She hummed quietly, just to have a little bit of noise. Without the agent, things could get extremely quiet around here. While she didn't want to draw attention by making a racket, she also needed some organic sound to keep her from falling off the deep end. While her Pokémon made good companions, she needed to hear human sounds on occasion, and she was the only source of those while Alma was on missions.

 

She paused outside of Alma's bedroom door. The room was the only place where Alma was allowed free reign. Everywhere else in the base she was strictly monitored by Kure and her team, but that was starting to become dangerous. The more time the agent spent in the field, the more experience she gained and the more dangerous she became. One day, she would come home and Kure would not be able to control her.

 

The woman sighed and continued walking, past Alma's room, through the training room, and into her own lab where she monitored various things  The agent's location hadn't changed since she'd received her gift, so Kure minimized that tab to pull up later. She pulled up a file and typed in the few things that she'd seen that required maintenance. They were all in her skill set, as most thing were. It was an intentional design choice, since she couldn't exactly have workers coming down here whenever something went wrong. It wouldn't do if her superiors learned that there was a secret facility near their secret facility.


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: Lafoyae Belrose, Temporary Quarter

After her "match" with Jared, Lafoyae had decided that she needed a rest. She had made a beeline straight to her temporary quarters. While it wasn't anything fancy, it was enough for the woman. "Not as if I need anything more." She thought, as she prepared for a good rest. Despite her relatively calm exterior, her interior thoughts were in overdrive. Ever since what happened in that...place, Lafoyae had dealt with racing thoughts. Thoughts of what could happen if those creatures came to be in her world, above many. Now that question had been answered, she had been trying to push away the thought of.....

"What can we do against something so horrifying?"

Heart racing, the raven-haired woman dug into the belongings she had brought with, hoping the thing she sought would help ease her mind. After a good while, she had found it: a knife whose blade was sheathed in a black leather scabbard, which contrasted with it's roughly hewn marble hilt. The moment she saw it, the assassin snatched it up, breathing a sigh of relief. Many people had an object of comfort. This was the object Lafoyae regarded as such.

A knife that celebrated her mastery of the art of assassination, which she called Carnwennan, in homage to a legendary knife. The feeling of weight in the knife, along with the feeling of nostalgia it stirred in the assassin, made her feel more at ease. She recalled how proud her father was when he presented it to her. Despite her initial fear, Lafoyae Belrose felt far more confident in the mission.

She swore, on her prized badge of honor, that they would succeed. That they would find some way to beat this abomination, as a result of this mission.......

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IC - Skye Hall - Training Arena, The Alamo:

 

The match-up results weren't terrible, but Skye wasn't sure she could call them ideal, either. It was one thing to go into battle and possibly die against a horde of alien creatures--Skye had read enough comic books, seen enough films, and read enough novels covering that same scenario that she was certain that she could at least put together some worthwhile last words if it came down to it. She didn't need anyone to tell her mother-father-brother that she loved them, nor did she feel the need to go the melodramatic, 'Miiii-ser-yyyyy!' route, either. What she had in mind was something more subtle, a perfect closure--a simple, 'Game over'-style departure.

 

Point being, Skye was more comfortable with the idea of dying by alien hands than she was with the idea of having to spar with someone she knew she had flat-out betrayed. It was bad enough that she had inadvertently burned her bridge to Gavin. If the same happened with Lucia, or with Ethan or Jamie--her heart skipped a beat as she realized, to her horror, that Jamie was also going on this mission--Skye wasn't sure if she could--

 

"Long time, no see!"

 

Too soon, much too soon. The electronically-modulated voice was definitely Lucia's, and it came from directly behind her. A million thoughts raced through Skye's head. She wasn't ready--she hadn't had enough time to prepare, to think of what to say, what jokes to make to lighten the mood, how to properly apologize. How could she face Lucia right now? It didn't matter--she had to do it. That was the point of being here, right? To train? She couldn't run or hide, anyway--there was nowhere she could do either. Which left only one option.

 

Muscles tensed and her heart pounding, she slowly turned to face her fear.

 

"Hey, Lucia," Skye stammered. Though the helmets covering their faces helped by hiding their expressions from each other, and thus hid Skye's paled complexion from Lucia's view, they couldn't change the fact that Skye's nerves were literally making her shake in her boots. "Are you ready to . . . uh . . . fight?"

 

"If you feel up to it." Lucia moved to scratch her head slightly, until she realized that she couldn't do so with her helmet on. "How are you feeling? We don't need to start if you're not ready." The girl noticed Skye's shaking legs, and knew that something like this would not help any situation at all.
 
"Yeah no I'm totally fine," Skye said, the words coming more forcefully than she meant them to. Like Lucia, she made the mistake of trying to awkwardly rub the back of her head. "I mean, yeah, let's go." Skye paused. Instead of saying what was actually on the tip of her tongue, she opted for, "How do we start this?"

 

Lucia wasn't entirely convinced about that, but put her hand to the chin of her helmet. "Um, I'm actually not entirely sure. Maybe we could start by trying out our basic moves?"
 
"On each other?"
 
"That or on the room in general. I'm honestly not picky."
 
Skye could feel the awkward dial turn to '11'.
 
"Okay, let's . . ." Skye paused. "Actually, hold on a second--I wanna try something." She raised a hand up to her helmet, pressing her left-ear panel. Her eye hovered over the Grass-Type Suit marker on her HUD. A bright purple outline appeared around it on both of their screens. "This Suit is supposed to supplement power for other Suits. I think it worked. Did your HUD do anything different just now when I pressed this?" She tapped her helmet.
 
"A purple outline, appeared, yes, so I think it worked too." The grass suit user nodded, as she seemed curious. "What kind of power does it supplement?"

 

"It's a universal increase to our six ranking categories," a nearby technician chimed in. "The T-01 can apply those increases to five other Power Suits at once. The more connections it makes, the less it increases each individual Suit's rankings, but connecting to a single one would effectively maximize that single Suit's power output." They nodded to a nearby boulder. "Try out a Razor Leaf. I think you'll find it significantly more effective than it would be without that boost."

 

Lucia nodded, and prepared the attack routine. As she fired on the boulder, she was surprised to find that it damaged it a lot more than she had expected it to be.

 

"Whoa, Skye, that's neat!"

 

The exploding boulder made Skye flinch, but she smiled nonetheless. She deactivated the link. "Hopefully that helps in the actual fight." Raising a hand and steadying it with the other, Skye took aim at the boulder. Her hand vibrated with energy, which she launched in a Bug Buzz attack at the immobile target. The kickback from the attack was a bit more than she was expecting, and she ended up sending it a bit too high. Another try, however, and she had created a sizable gash in the rock. She observed her handiwork for a moment. "Pokémon make that look a lot easier than it actually is."

 

"Agreed... this is pretty cool, though, huh? I just wish this could all be happening under less critical circumstances..." The woman sighed, but turned to Skye. "I think it will help, though! Your powers seem pretty neat. Wanna work on the finer touches of our attacks before anything else?"

 

"Sure," Skye said. Behind her helmet, however, her smile faded. Skye shut off her comm, took a breath, and then turned it back on. "Before we do that, though . . . Lucia, I just want you to know--and I've told others this and it doesn't make it okay or anything and I know that--I'm really sorry for everything with Ford. I shouldn't have gone with Hayes and . . . McKinley." Her chest was pounding. She would be surprised if no one could hear it, even through the armor. "I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn't, and now . . ."

 

"I forgive you." Lucia walked over to the girl, and put a hand on her shoulder. "I only heard bits and pieces of what went on when you left, but I understand why you would have. I'm not gonna say it was totally okay or anything, but you made a split second decision to try and help. I would have done the exact same thing if I was in that situation. I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't forgive you either, considering during that time in Celadon I nearly got turned on my friends and family." The healer sighed, as she tried her best to be reassuring. "You did think you were doing the right thing, and to me, that intent matters most."

 

Though she fell silent, Skye was clearly relieved. Much of the tension in her shoulders vanished, and for the first time, she stood with an air of calm. Behind her helmet, she smiled. "Thanks, Lucia," she said. "Alright . . . Let's go train to kill stuff."

 

 

IC - Jackson Sang - Training Arena, The Alamo:

 

Jackson Sang was many things: as strong as a boxer, as swift as a kite, as dashing as Prince Charming, and as charming as Prince Dashing. He was also rash, overly confident, and undeniably egotistic. But he was not a big enough fool to assume that he could instinctively manage the addition of a Power Suit to the arsenal that was his body without additional training and studying. That was why he sat through Goldhawk's spiel about the Suits and their accompanying equipment, and why he simultaneously made sure, for the third time, to read through the in-built manuals on the Ground-Type Suit's capabilities.

 

Throughout the lecture, Sang tested out some of the basic equipment on the suit. He double-checked that his comm was active by clicking the button in time with Goldhawk. The magnetic Poké Ball pockets were functioning perfectly. Diagnostics scrolled across his screen just as they were meant to, and the status list for the other Power Suits indicated that they were all operational--though he noted that two of them, the Normal- and Fighting-Type Suits, were already registering combat. A quick visual scan confirmed that they were not, in fact, present with all the others.

 

Curious.

 

Miss Belrose, he silently tutted. Breaking the rules with my Suit, eh?

 

Pushing the thought aside, Sang returned his attention to himself. All positive testing aside, there was one itsy-bitsy issue that he was not sure how to fix without direct practice, and that was his Suit's Seismic Sensors. The point of the module was to allow for pinpoint-precise location of ground-bound enemies. Simple enough. Activating it, however, muddled his vision more than anything, filling his screen with markers for anything and anyone who happened to be touching the floor. It only got worse when Goldhawk dismissed the group to their sparring matches.

 

That was just plain distracting.

 

He took a moment to manually adjust his settings, lowering the input from the sensors. That was better, but also not ideal: Going to the opposite extreme singled out one person on his radar, someone in a blue set of armor who happened to be approaching him. Probably this--What was it? Sang glanced back at the list--Richard Apollo guy.

 

"One sec," Sang said, raising a finger. "Technical difficulties."

 

"That's alright," Richard responded smiling, "I wasn't quite finished warming up anyways."
 
Turning away from Sang, Richard placed one hand by his stomach, almost but not quite making a fist. Keeping his shoulders down and his head high, he pulled air down into his diaphragm. As he exhaled he began to count in a monotone voice, "1, 2, 3..." and kept going until he reached "..100".
 
The Sableye holding his violin case nodded approvingly. Counting to 100 on one breath was impressive. He'd really improved.

 

As a not-musician, Sang might have given Richard a bemused look if they weren't wearing helmets. As a helmet-wearing warrior at the current moment, he did not do this. Instead, he finished his calibrations, settling for a compromise between too-little input and way-too-much. The result was a nice, easy radius of about twenty feet around him, where individuals who entered the circle would receive an initial marker for their presence, and then additional weak point markers as they drew closer.

 

"Done," he announced. Sang moved several paces backward, bringing his arms up in front of him. "I'm ready whenever you wanna throw the first punch."

 

"One sec," Richard responded as he dropped a Poke Ball to the ground. Out came a Whismur who looked at the suited Richard as if he'd grown a second head. He face was replaced by an orange screen after all. "Gimme a low C, Orpheus."
 
The Whismur shied away a bit and let out a very quiet 'C'. "Good, but a little louder," Richard instructed. Summoning up the courage to make a note in the midst of people, the Whismur went "Hiiiiiii" with a simple, clear, monotone 'C'.
 
Silently sucking in air and keeping his hand still for a moment longer, he internalized the note that the Whismur was holding. As he finally exhaled, a row of bubbles appeared in front of Richard approximately where his hand was.
 
"Do, Mi, So," as Richard's voice rose to hit the three notes, a row of bubbles appeared approximately level with his hand at each note and shot towards Sang.
 
With this one simple attack, Sang realized something that had not previously occurred to him: This suit had no defensive capabilities in its arsenal. With a Durability Rating of six, that wasn't typically going to be a problem, as that meant the suit's natural defenses were high enough to withstand most attacks. But in a real battle, that would only help for so long. He would need to compensate.
 
Sang rolled back, dragging his hand along the ground and closing his fingers. When he brought his fist up, he held a bone, crafted by his suit through its Bone Club protocol. The Bone Club proved to be an effective tool for blocking and deflecting the Bubble-slash-Bubblebeam attack--Sang wasn't entirely clear which one it was. Unfortunately, Water beat Ground, and eventually the makeshift club dissolved, leaving Sang to take the remainder of the attack. He shook off the impact, conscious of how different the attack felt in the Power Suit compared to outside of it: Less painful overall, but Sang could definitely confirm that the Type Chart was still in play.
 
Note to self: Keep away from Water-, Ice-, and Grass-Types.
 
Focusing back on the match, Sang swung around. With his leading arm, he launched a Mud Shot back at Richard.
 
Richard tried to block using the bubbles with a sustained note, but the bubbles burst into a sea of sparkles when the Mud Shot hit. The mud continued on course and struck Richard, weighing him down. He needed to be able to coalesce the bubbles into waves in response to his voice. Only then would he have the attack's true power. How to do that was beyond him though. "Do, Mi, Re, Fa, Mi, So..." Richard sang creating rows of bubbles that would alternate between higher and lower, in an attempt to create a trickier pattern.
 
The attack proved to be effective agility practice for Sang. The freelancer shifted, spun, and flipped between bubbles, familiarizing himself with the added weight of the Power Suit. It certainly wasn't easy taking the additional weight into consideration, but it was certainly useful.
 
"What's with the vocals?" he asked. "You some kind of pop star?"
 
Nowhere near that successful Hades commented, shaking his head.
 
"What? Me?" Richard said innocently as he started moonwalking to cause rain to wash off the mud weighing him down. "Nah, I'm just a wandering bard chronicling the stories of heroes."
 
"A wandering bard, huh?" Sang couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, consider me your dancing monkey." He straightened his palms, shifting into a different fighting stance. "Come on--teach me some moves."
 
"Finally, my friend had's one for a while and I've been so jealous," Richard said, his eyes glinting as he opened his mouth to continue his Sparkling Aria.
 
And so they danced.
 

 

IC - Esen Windred - Training Arena, The Alamo:

 

Though the others were free to start their practice battles, Esen was not. There were two factors working against her, which the technicians currently assisting her were simultaneously stressing as 'highly important' and 'nothing to worry about.' First off was the fact that--as Esen had just discovered--the Flying-Type Suit had 'recently' been involved in a 'testing accident' wherein the previous operator--through 'no fault of his own'--had suffered 'severe burns and other injuries' on account of his 'overenthusiastic sparring partner.'

 

Lovely.

 

Second was the fact that, as discussed in the T-08's operation manual, the Flying-Type Suit came with highly sensitive field equipment that required extra training in order to operate--these being the mechanisms involved in the suit's flight. The technicians explained to her that, in theory, operation was 'simple,' it would just take some time 'getting used to the controls,' which were 'consolidated, see, into the palms here, so you can manipulate your jets almost like puppet strings--just be careful or else you might send yourself into a death spiral toward the ground.'

 

Fair enough.

 

Several tests later, and she had managed exactly that, flipping herself over and onto her back. With a frustrated sigh, she stood back up, standing still as the technicians converged on her in order to perform more extra calibrations. Esen looked at her sparring partner several feet away. She couldn't see his expression due to his helmet, but if she had to take a guess simply based off of what she had seen earlier, she would bet that he wasn't amused by the continued delay. Reaching a hand up to her helmet, she connected her comm to his.

 

"At this rate, it might be a better use of your time to find another group to match with," she said. "I don't think this is going to get fixed anytime soon."

 

It took a moment for Theodore to respond, as if the endless delay had caused him to retreat into his own thoughts and Esen's words were calling him back to reality. He made a quick glance around the room at the other agents locked in combat before shaking his head at Esen. "I do that, and when you finally get things working you'll be without a partner. Besides, it looks like everyone else is already in the middle of their battles. I'd just be a third wheel."

 

"Fair enough." Esen settled back. She waited a few more moments. "You were arguing with a couple of other people in the Command Center earlier, right? Mind if I ask what that was about?"

 

Although it was hidden behind his visor, the grimace on Theodore's face was evident in his strained voice. "My daughter tried to volunteer for the mission, even though she's still recovering from serious injuries she received in Celadon. She's been hospitalized for weeks, yet was heedless of the danger the Missing Zero poses. So I put my foot down. Perhaps I overreacted, but I couldn't stand to see her throw her life away like that. A parent's overprotective love, I suppose."

 

Finally, the technicians dispersed, giving Esen room to test out her equipment again. She clenched her fist, physically focused on testing out the Power Suit and mentally distracted by Theodore's situation. The jets on her boots activated, a low roar rumbling her feet as she hovered off the ground. Esen steadied herself, before shutting the jets off and dropping back to the floor.

 

"If that's the worst thing you've ever done as a parent," she said, unable to hide her bitter tone. "Then don't beat yourself up too badly. She'll get it, sooner or later."
 

"And if it's not the worst thing I've done?" Theodore took up a defensive stance. "It sounds like you've had some experience with poor parenting. Mind sharing?"

 

Esen stared at him with a look that could have paralyzed an Arbok. Internally, she debated how to word her response--whether to sugarcoat it, or lay it out to dry. After a minute, she made her decision. Honesty was the best policy, after all.

 

"My mother murdered my father, kidnapped me from the life I lived with him, and brainwashed and experimented on me for years in order to create what she considered to be the 'perfect soldier.' She died in a desert for it, with no one but her worst enemy by her side and no one in the world who loved her, brought down and betrayed by the same people she had worked with for twenty years in order to bring about their 'perfect society.'" She raised her fists and shifted her feet. "So, yeah . . . I'd say you could do a lot worse."

 

Theodore kept silent for an uncomfortably long moment. "I'm sorry," he finally said. "I didn't mean to pry at old wounds. You're right, your situation was far worse. But that doesn't mean my daughter will see it that way. I've made so many sacrifices her her sake, yet she won't even speak to me." He stared at his feet, then spoke in a hesitant voice. "What would your mother have had to do to earn your forgiveness . . . ?"

 

Was there a good answer to that question? Esen wasn't sure if there was anything Ace could have done to be forgiven. Her knuckles shifted uncomfortably. Ace was long dead, and anything that could have hypothetically happened at this point was merely wishful thinking. Then again, this wasn't actually about Esen's parental issues.

 

"She could start by telling me why," Esen said. "And if that didn't work . . . an apology goes a long way."

 

 

IC - Sleight - Training Arena, The Alamo:

 

Despite her earlier confidence, Madison was clearly in over her head. While the sparring match wasn't supposed to be a competition, she still felt like she was losing. Every attempt at an attack left her open for Sleight to counter. If she focused on avoiding hits, the successive attacks would eventually overwhelm her. Even the Ghost-Type Suit's invisibility module only gave her a brief reprieve, for Sleight could easily pick up on her armored footsteps as she tried to circle around the battlefield.

 

The fact that her opponent was the Shadow Admin of Kanto didn't help, either. Ever since the battle in Celadon, Madison had toyed with the idea of joining Dack at Team Rocket. The recent Ford fiasco had put those thoughts on hold, but the skier still wanted to make a good first impression toward the Rocket leader. Consequently, each time she made a fool of herself she grew more flustered. Even as she charged up a Shadow Ball, a well-placed Smack Down disabled the invisibility module and brought her to her knees.

 

"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Alaric," Madison stammered, trying her best to hide her growing frustration. "I'm just holding you back, aren't I? You can't test your suit's full capabilities this way."

 

Sleight had to admit that she wasn't wrong. He was a born fighter, and the years had not hindered his hand-to-hand skills all that much--even now, he moved with the grace and technique of a man who knew how to maximize his presence on the field. Still, it wasn't useful to either of them for him to say as much. He relaxed his stance, opening the front plate of his helmet.

 

"You're doing fine," he said. "Though you certainly need practice. I don't suppose you've received formal combat training before now?"

 

Madison opened her helmet visor and shook her head, taking a moment to catch her breath. "To be honest, I'm probably the least qualified person here. I'm no stranger to physical endurance -- I've been skiing ever since I could walk -- but combat's fairly new to me. I was able to hold my own well enough in the recent battles in Sootopolis and Celadon, but I've always had someone at my side to help. Even in terms of formal Pokémon battles, it's usually a tag team with my friend Dack." She glanced over to the energized bout between Dack and Goldhawk. "He's the one in the Fire-Type Suit; he's been with Team Rocket for nearly four years, so he's probably got all the combat training you could hope to offer."

 

An amused smirk creased the corner of Sleight's mouth. "Your friend stole my suit," he said. Sleight's smile faded as he watched Goldhawk perform a surprisingly acrobatic flip, dodging a Flamethrower from Dack. The two were certainly an energetic pair. Sleight glanced back at Madison. "You said you usually tag-team with him?" She nodded. "Then maybe another tag duel is in order."

 

He raised a hand to his comm button. Goldhawk and Dack's fight slowed to a stop; from a distance, Goldhawk's gauntlet glinted as he, too, raised a hand to his head, saying something back to Sleight. Before long, they had picked their way over across the arena, joining Sleight and Madison. The Team Liberty Leader looked between the pair of them. Behind the almost-innocent LED eyes of his helmet, Goldhawk projected an almost thunderous air, one yearning for the prospect of a fight.

 

"A tag-team match, huh?" he said, looking between the other three. "Pair up, then. I don't care who I get."

 

Dack shook his head as he walked over to his girlfriend's side. Madison could practically hear his bemused smile in his voice. "You know, you've got to learn how to fight on your own, Maddie. You can't keep relying on me all the time."

 

"Oh, I'm not relying on you at all. In fact, it's just the opposite." Madison grinned as she walked past Dack and approached her former opponent. "Mr. Alaric, would you mind being my partner for this battle?" He nodded, prompting Dack to let out a cry of disbelief.

 

"But, Madison--"

 

"Sorry, Dack. I'm not good at one-on-one battles. But I need to prove to you that with a teammate I'm more than capable of holding my own." Her visor slid over her face as she took on a battle-ready stance. "Don't hold anything back, alright?"

 

Dack looked like he wanted to argue, but instead thought better of it and returned to Goldhawk's side. "Very well," he said as a nimbus of fire formed around his fist. "Let's get started."

 

 

IC - Goldhawk - Training Arena, The Alamo:

 

It was well into the night now, and each of the sparring matches had slowed to a crawl. With a nod from the lead technician, Goldhawk sounded the dismissal alert. "Well done, everyone," he spoke over the arena loudspeaker. "Return your Power Armor, get some rest, and be prepared for tomorrow morning. Suit-up is at 8 AM sharp, followed by departure at 10 AM."

 

 As the remaining fighters filtered out of the arena, each team of technicians met up, going over their notes from each pairing. Goldhawk headed toward the exit, leaving Blackskull to take care of the follow-up work. What was to come would require his full strength and focus, and he needed to prepare.

 

He flipped the Return Module in his hands, and then clutched it to his chest.

 

Tomorrow was a big day.

 

 

IC - John Ford - Ford's Cell, Prison Block:

 

For some time, Ford said nothing, merely contemplating what Chloe and Ryan had told and asked. He rubbed his chin and then rose, walking to his desk. Pulling a slip of paper forward, he began to write, and had soon produced a list. This he passed through the bars of his cell. Reading it revealed three items, scrawled in Ford's fluid handwriting:

 

High Mage Gethin Pollux of the Signs

Grimoire des Panneaux

Les Contes de Fées Classiques

 

"I cannot claim to have the answers to these mysteries," Ford admitted. "But I think I know of someone who might." He pointed to the top of the list. "High Mage Gethin Pollux, my mentor. He discovered the first indications of what was to come. It is possible that he could access more pages within the Signs' grimoire, and use them to unlock the secrets of the Sins." Ford crossed his fingers together on the cell bars.

 

"The grimoire is located in my headquarters, at the base of Mt. Silver. Miss Baron can show you the way and grant you access. Once you have it, you can bring it to the Signs in Kalos--they'll grant you an audience." A momentary silence. "I would suggest bringing my Symbol with you as an act of good faith, but that would require its acquisition from Team Liberty, and I do not believe they are likely to give it to you. Bounty's may be a fair alternative, if he is willing to hand it over."

 

 

IC - Sonja Baron/Ethan Worth/Sophia Baron/Mewthree - Hayes's Cell, Prison Block:

 

The conversation with Mewthree was brief, but straightforward. Admittedly, much of what the Psychic-Type had to offer served as simple confirmation for what had already been reported or observed.

 

First, beings and materials absorbed by the creature would emerge later as the creature's forces. Although Mewthree could not confirm specifically that a given creature was rearranged from absorbed material, all evidence seemed to point to such a conclusion.

 

First contact with the beast saw a small army of predominantly Ice- and Water-Type puppets, it said. Others were present, but only in small numbers--two or three other types at most. This is consistent with the makeup of Pryce's known Pokémon: Ice-Types with a predisposition toward secondary Water-Types, with some other Types present on occasion. Other Types only increased in number following the disastrous encounter with our forces, wherein a number of Pokémon and people were absorbed after being abducted or killed.

 

From this, Mewthree brought forth another point.

 

I encountered no Dual-Type puppets that were created from Pokémon, it continued. Which is not to suggest that there were not or are not those that possess multiple Types, but rather that a repurposed Dual-Type Pokémon does not result in one Dual-Type puppet, but two Single-Types. Mewthree pictured silhouetted, humanoid creatures in its mind, which Hayes transmitted to herself, Sonja, and Ethan. I am aware of entities that appeared in the forest surrounding the entry point toward the end of my tenure there. They did not approach, only observed from afar, and so I could not get an analysis of their combat abilities; nonetheless, I determined that their type was Normal and Ghost. They were not made from Pokémon.

 

"What were they made from?" Sonja asked.

 

I can only guess that they were repurposed from absorbed human beings, Mewthree said. Without a proper analysis, however, it is difficult to say.

 

An unsettled silence fell upon the group. Eventually, Ethan broke it. "So what other Types did you encounter?"

 

As I said, there were primarily Ice- and Water-Types, Mewthree said. On occasion, others would stray to the entry point. I know for certain that Ground-, Psychic-, and Ghost-Types attacked at different points, as well. It eventually opted--I assume--to conserve its energy, and the attacks became fewer.

 

And that, really, was all Mewthree could offer. Thanking it, Sonja recalled the Mewtwo, leaving her and Ethan with Sophia Baron. The Second Child clutched her cell bars, leaning against them. She looked troubled, but she glowered and then relaxed with a breath.

 

"Thank you for your help," Sonja said. "Now, did you have anything you to tell us, or should we head out and find everyone else? They should be done with Ford by now."

 

"Make it snappy," Ethan said.

 

Sophia glared.

 

Sonja slapped his shoulder.

 

Sophia looked at Sonja. "You need to get us out of these cells."

 

"That's not going to happen," Sonja said. "Even if I wanted it to."

 

That seemed to hurt Sophia, though she quickly steeled herself.

 

"This isn't about what you want, Sonja, this is about what you need--you and the world," she said. "Ford and I know more about this than anyone, and the least effective way to handle it is through interrogating us and hoping you understand what we're telling you."

 

Sonja crossed her arms, unconvinced. Ethan mimicked her. "Try us," Sonja said. "You dragged a bunch of us into this, and I can't help you get out. So you're just going to have to trust us."

 

The Second Child breathed hard in frustration, pressing her head against the bars. "Just . . ." She took a breath to calm herself, relaxing her fists. "If you're working with Ford, you are going to end up crossing paths with some very, very dangerous people. That is on top of the threat from the monster outside. When that time comes . . ." She met Sonja's eye. "Please, just consider the fact that we know how to deal with them. None of these are forces meant to be trifled with."

 

For a long time, Sonja just stared at her sister. She clipped Mewthree's Poké Ball to her belt. "I'll keep that in mind." Turning, she headed back down the hall. Ethan gave Sophia Baron one last look and then followed, leaving the Second Child behind.


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~ Rise of the Rockets (I II)/Discussion Topic/Side Stories ~

 

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Luke - Ford's Cell, Prison Block
Ryan took the slip of paper in his hands and read over the words several times. It wasn't much, but the fact that they finally had something to go off of filled him with a sense of purpose.
 
"What was that about a symbol?" Luke asked. "You mean like a medallion or something? Some secret token of the Signs?"
 
Ryan shook his head and looked at Ford. "It's your cane, isn't it? You and Bounty both used canes to activate those cards. And Kyle mentioned something similar when he faced the Signs in Kalos." His brow furrowed as realized a piece of the puzzle was missing. "But why would Bounty have a Symbol of the Signs? He's not part of your group, is he?"
 
"Correct," Ford answered. "My Symbol represents Famine, and Bounty's War. As for how he came to possess it . . ." The Shadowed Man shook his head. "I'm sure an answer resides somewhere within the Signs' history. But I could not tell you for certain, myself."
 
"Regardless of the reasoning, we should count ourselves lucky Bounty has it." Ryan carefully folded the paper and slipped it into his pocket. "Thank you for your time, sir. I know it's not much, but I apologize for all the trouble Team Liberty's caused you. And I promise we'll do everything we can to get these answers and find a way to beat this thing." With a reassuring -- if somewhat apprehensive -- smile, he turned down the hall and led the others out of the prison block.

 

The moment they had left Ford's presence, Ryan let out a long breath and brought a hand to his head. His thoughts were swimming with the textbook worth of information they had just received. They had to find Gethin Pollux. They had to find Bounty. They had to find Sonja. The grimoire. The Signs. The Sins. Raymond. McKinley. It had all seemed clear enough at the time, but now that he had walked away, Ryan found he needed to sift through everything Ford had said.

 

He would have forgotten about Xander entirely had he not put his hand in his pocket and felt his fingers brush against his Pokégear. Everyone seemed to be wanting to get ahold of him today. He paused outside the prison block, figuring that was the best place to wait for Sonja and Ethan, and dialed Xander's number.


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

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IC: Xander Cruize

 

He had just finished putting away the suit, tie, and glasses when his Holo Caster rang. He answered quickly after checking the ID. "Sanders, hey. Are you with any of the others? I need you guys to meet me in one of the conference rooms."

 

Finally. That had taken ages, or at least it felt like it had. His blood was pumping, and he was anxious to get things rolling.


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: Ryan Sanders - Hallway, The Alamo

Ryan inwardly weighed his options of waiting for Sonja versus meeting with Xander. He decided the Kalosian's message sounded more urgent, and they could always reconvene with Sonja later that night if need be. "Yeah, I've got Evan, Chloe, and Luke with me," he said, not realizing that Xander didn't know the lattermost. "We'll meet you at the conference rooms shortly . . ."

 

 

A few minutes later they met the Kalosian at the designated room. Xander was already waiting for them, and seemed almost impatient for them to get started. Ryan took a deep breath and put on a hopefully-not-too-weary smile. "Alright, so what did you need us for?"

 

Before Xander could respond, a knock sounded at the door and Dahlia Seaton stepped in. The gardener looked much better rested than the last time Ryan had seen her, although her features paled at the sight of the room's occupants. She clearly hadn't expected to meet anyone but Xander, and in those fleeting moments of silence, Ryan felt the room fill with an awkwardness largely directed at him. Not surprising, given the tension of their last encounter.

 

Steeling herself, Dahlia walked past him with an air of deliberate indifference and approached Xander. "Your message sounded pretty urgent, so I let my friend know," she said in a voice so calm and pleasant, Ryan had to wonder if he hadn't simply imagined the previous awkwardness. "He hasn't responded yet, so don't feel like you have to wait for him."

Edited by Konuju

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

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IC: Xander Cruize

 

Xander was about to respond when Dahlia's device beeped. He raised an eyebrow. "I suppose that's your friend, then? Have a seat. You can tell them about it later." He looked at the rest of the people in the room, a slight scowl on his face. "Thank you all for coming. I would like to get everything out of the way quickly, so you'll forgive me if I don't take questions and comments until the end."

 

He sighed. "I have a mission for you all, and it's not a safe one. Goldhawk told me to get a team together, but I'm not going to force anyone to go on this mission. I need volunteers, and I need people I can trust. If you know someone who fits the bill, see if they're interested and let me know." He paused, adjusting his arm in its sling. "I need a team of people to go to the Kalos Region for some investigation. Team Flare's old hideout was excavated, and there were no bodies. I won't give you the whole history, but at least twenty people, including their leader, should have been under those rocks.

 

"The fact that they aren't implies that they're alive and well, and that's bad news for Kalos." He swallowed, looking down at the table. "I don't have any right to ask any of you for favors -- I haven't even met one of you before -- but you would be helping me out a lot if you chose to accept this."

He looked back up, his eyes just slightly mistier than usual. "Which leads to the next bullet point. I'm not going. It's not that I'm asking you guys to do something I don't want to -- just the opposite. If Goldhawk hadn't deemed me unfit for duty, I would have gone without anyone else. I would love to join you, but I can't. So, if you guys choose to accept, I'll be feeding you information and the like from over here." He paused, catching each person's eyes for a second. "I know I"m asking a lot, but I need your answers fairly soon. Within a couple of days, preferably right away. The sooner a team leaves for Kalos, the better."

 

He sighed, shifting his arm again. It hadn't been an inconvenience to him until it caused him t inconvenience his friends. "I'll take questions now."


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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-==IC: Colette==-

 

A few moments after, Colette also showed up in the room, and looked around. A little while ago, Jenny had asked the girl to go check out this meeting in her place - though she had also been told to keep quiet about why she was there instead. As it turned out, she didn't need to worry too much, as when she had slipped into the room, she had noticed that Xander had started to explain something about Kalos. That caught her attention.

 

The girl looked around the room as she listened to the explanation of what Xander wanted. She recognized a good number of the people from the boat, but there were some people who she didn't recognize at all. That said, Colette thought over what the issue was. Team Flare... why did that name sound oddly familiar? She shook her head - it didn't matter right now, but if this involved Kalos...

 

"What sort of bad news does this mean for Kalos?" The girl finally spoke up with a small frown. Her sudden presence startled one of the women present, but she didn't care at the moment. However, that woman then spoke up.

 

"How soon does this actually have to happen? There's something else that kinda involves Kalos, but there's another place that needs to be visited first..." Chloe said with a small frown as she felt uneasy about putting off the mission from Ford in this climate, even for something like Team Flare.

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IC: Evan Tierra

Evan furrowed his brow at what Xander explained. He considered the situation. Despite him not liking what this could mean for Kalos, the Hero had to also consider what Chloe said. The situation with that creature and these "Sins" had to be looked into first and foremost. He wanted to help, but......now wasn't exactly the best time. "I echo Chloe's question." The young man asked. "How urgent is this mission?"

Evan also, had to consider his position. He -had- just gotten his powers back, but he had to get used to them again. He doubted he would have time to do that during either mission. He didn't like the idea of potentially staying back, but he also wanted to be able to contribute somehow....

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IC: Xander Cruize

 

He was mildly surprised to see Colette, since he was pretty sure he didn't even have her number. Despite that, she seemed willing to help, so he turned to address her.

 

Despite his best efforts, Xander couldn't stop a bit of edge creeping into his voice. "Team Flare is dangerous. When they were active a decade ago, they were trying to completely get rid of pokémon and restart the world into a 'utopia.' There's no telling what their plans are now, or what it might mean for Kalos.'" He looked to Chloe and Evan. "There's really no telling how urgent this is. Team Flare, as far as I've heard, hasn't actually done anything yet, but that could change quickly now that their ruse has been discovered. If you're heading that way, then whatever other detour should be fine. We just need people looking into things and, if it comes to it, intervening to stop Flare operations in the area."


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Dahlia Seaton/Luke - Conference Room, The Alamo

Ryan sighed. He didn't doubt the seriousness of Team Flare's revival, but Chloe was right: Ford's mission was far more important. He disliked the idea of completely ignoring Xander's request, but he would honestly prefer to focus solely on finding answers from the Signs. That said, perhaps there was a way to kill two birds with one stone . . .

 

He looked around at the assorted trainers. They were six not counting Xander, eight including Sonja and Ethan. Maybe nine or more if Kyle and the others joined. "We should split up," he decided. "Some of us go straight to Kalos to investigate the Team Flare activity, while the others go with Sonja to get that grimoire from Ford's base." He ignored the curious looks from Xander, Dahlia, and Colette. "Then we'll rendezvous with the first group in Kalos, where we'll hopefully be able to take care of Flare and get answers from the Signs in one fell swoop. Speaking of which, Xander, have you ever heard of this place?" He pulled out the slip of paper and proceeded to completely butcher the name Ford had given them. "Les . . . Les Conteses de Feces Classiquess. Apparently that's where we'll be able to meet with the Signs and learn more about that blob from Two Island. You wouldn't happen to know where it is, would you?"


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

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-==IC: Colette==-

 

Both Chloe and Colette stared at Ryan as if he were serious.

"... First of all, none of that makes an ounce of sense." Colette said as Chloe just gave Ryan a skeptical look, having read the note earlier and at least knowing that it was not even close to being correct.

 

"Want me to give it a shot?" The auburn-haired woman asked, as she walked over to Ryan, ready to snatch the note if he said yes.

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IC: Xander Cruize

Xander winced as Ryan utterly butchered his native language. He shook his head. "Firstly, Ryan, if you're in a situation where Kalosian is being spoken, get a translator. Secondly, that's not a place. Les Contes de Fées Classique means Classical Fairy Tales. Why, what's this about?"

Edited by Mipha's Grace

"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Dahlia Seaton/Luke - Conference Room, The Alamo

"Wh-what?" Ryan felt his face flush. In the background, Dahlia facepalmed while Luke cackled madly. Ryan was starting to wish he had stayed to ask Ford more about the paper instead of rushing out with his assumptions. "Ford said it would be useful . . . I don't know, maybe there's some fairy tale about a world-eating blob in there?"

 

"If that's the case, then we'd better hope it ends with 'happily ever after,'" Luke muttered.

 

"Laverre City inspired a lot of Kalosian fairy tales, right?" Dahlia said. "That could be a good place to start, but it might be worth it to look into that Team Flare thing first. By the way, Xander, I'd love to help out in Kalos. It'll be a good test of my abilities. I'll see what my friend thinks." She politely stepped back from the group to send a message to Jared.

 

Luke scratched his head with a sheepish smile. "Yeah, um, about that. My friends are both going out to fight against that blob tomorrow, and I don't think they'd like it if they came back and I was off in Kalos. I'm afraid I'll have to sit this one out. But if you guys need help, I might be able to convince them to back you up after their current mission."


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

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IC: Xander Cruize

 

Xander nodded to Dahlia, frowning softly. Something had changed with the gardener. She seemed more sure of herself, more confident. "Sounds good. Two teams also sounds like a solid plan. Are there any other questions?"

"Dahlia, can you stick around for a bit after this? I've been meaning to talk with you since we got back."

 

IC: Jared Winters

 

He had just gotten done with a shower when he heard his Pokétch go off. He toweled his hair as he walked over and checked it. Two messages from Dahlia. The first said something about some meeting, but it seemed like he'd missed out on that. The second was asking him about a mission in Kalos.

 

He quickly sent a reply. If you think you're up for it, I'll be happy to come with you.

He got dressed and began repacking his bag.


"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.

 

"We'll have to change the initials of the RPG from RotR to PTSD." - Me, discussing Rise of the Rockets.

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IC: Ryan Sanders/Dahlia Seaton/Luke - Conference Room, The Alamo

Dahlia appeared a bit startled to hear a sudden voice in her head, but nodded to Xander, not totally comfortable with mental communication. She looked down at her device to send a response to Jared. That sounds great!

 

When no one else voiced any immediate questions, Dahlia looked back up. "U-um, so we should probably decide now who's going in what group, right? Anyone willing to join me in Kalos? My friend said yes, by the way."

 

Luke shifted uncomfortably, having already given his answer. Ryan bit his lip. Perhaps it was just his recent failure at pronunciations, but the Liberty agent suddenly seemed unsure of himself. He briefly met Dahlia's eyes, but she quickly looked back to her device.

 

"I . . . I'm going with the Ford group," Ryan said with some hesitation. "It needs to be done before we locate the Signs. In fact, I should see if Kyle or Esen are willing to help. They've both had experience with that group." Stepping away from the main group -- and consequently toward Dahlia -- Ryan pulled out his Pokégear and began to type out a message to Kyle explaining the dual missions and asking him to forward the information to Esen. As he typed, he glanced at the gardener out of the corner of his eye. "Can I speak with you for a moment after this?" he murmured under his breath.

 

"Get in line," Dahlia muttered. "I already told Xander I'd talk with him."


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

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