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Year 17

About Parugi

  • Birthday 08/04/1994

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    Pokémon. Including Rise of the Rockets. Which you should totally consider joining or at least reading. Ja.

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Defender of Mata Nui

Defender of Mata Nui (139/293)

  1. We're over a year out from when this happened, but might as well put it out there--RotR moved off of BZPower during the downtime last year and onto its own forum, so this RPG is still on-going (albeit still rather slowly--thanks, life!) If anyone is interested in joining or continuing to follow, please feel free to PM me or add me on Discord (Parugi#5179) for the link. =)
  2. Shakes the dust off. Right, I work here. Honestly, no complaints; looks pretty solid for what you're going for and that's really all anyone can ask. Only thing I'll point out is a nitpick technical note that there's inconsistency with where and how you're capitalizing BIONICLE Words/Terms (Toa, Barraki, Great Disks, etc.) Not enough to make me say "no," but I would just clean it up a bit when you post it. =) Anyway, approved x3. Now please excuse me while I go back into my corner for another record-setting layer of dust.
  3. IC - Ryan Sanders (Quil, Togie, Missy)/Ray Hakuda (Byakuya, Zangetsu)/Signs Pravin/Avitus (Armaldo)/Ephraim (Rotom-H)/Sarah (Crustle)/Esther (Solrock) - Streets, Dendemille Town - Previous: The first thing Ryan noticed was that the Pokémon weren't reacting to the white smoke. Other than a temporary obstruction of vision, there seemed to be no ill effects on the part of the creature battling in the street. Screams reached his ears belonging to the two or three civilians who had been caught up in the noxious cloud. Pokémon weren't affected. This changed things. Before Ryan had time to assess this new information, a spinning Solrock slung toward him. There was no time to react. The Meteorite Pokémon hit him square in the chest, knocking him back several feet to where Ray crouched. His heart skipped a beat as his mask buckled under the impact. The fragile piece of headwear was the only thing keeping him safe from Shift's drug. As he struggled to catch his breath, Samurott burst out of her Pokéball and swung at the Solrock before it could pinball its way over to Ray. The force of the blow knocked it off-course and straight into a nearby wall, unable to control its trajectory as precisely as it normally could. "Alright, new strategy," Ryan gasped as he painfully pushed himself up and looked over at Ray. "We need to get those people somewhere safe. A few of our Pokémon might be able to carry them out of this smoke. What do you say?" "How would we get to them with these people shooting at us? We might need to take these people down first." Ray pointed out, as he bit his lip. "But even that'll be tough at this point…" Ray had a good point. Even with their advantage of being able to use moves, the Signs still outnumbered them, and every second they delayed meant more time the citizens of Dendemille suffered. There was no way they could end this battle quickly. Unless . . . Ryan felt a cold, calculating fury well up inside his chest. "We go for their masks," he said quietly. "We don't even have to knock them off; if we damage the filtration mechanism they'll be as helpless as their own victims." "It's not the best idea, but… it's honestly the only thing I can think of." Ray replied with a small frown. He raised Orihime’s Poké Ball, releasing the Togekiss into the air. “Wait for my signal, then go for the first person you see.” The Togekiss nodded and darted upward, into the sky. As if on cue, Missy appeared next to Ryan, a devilish grin on her face. Ryan gave a short nod. "Do it." Without another moment's hesitation, the ghost-type shot over to the Solrock's trainer, using her tendrils to pull the gas mask off her face. The effect was near-instantaneous, amplified by the sudden realization of what had happened. By the time Esther had processed that her gas mask was gone and that she was breathing in the same toxin they had unleashed on the Dendemille populace, she was already squirming on the ground, throat and eyes burning. The remaining Signs Agents called out in horror, two moving in to extract her and the other providing covering fire on Ryan and Ray again. As Missy began to disappear from the scene of her attack, she made one last move: Grabbing the empty Poké Ball from Esther’s belt and directing it toward the recovering Solrock several yards away. She replaced it as she dipped down into the shadows. Byakuya immediately leapt in front of Ryan and Ray to provide cover from the bullets peppering them. With the Solrock gone, Samurott grabbed one of her Seamitars and bolted toward the Crustle. Propelling herself into the air, the samurai sea lion brought her sword down on the bug's rock and cleaved it in two. Deprived of its home and shelter, the Crustle scurried into the shadows. The Rotom was still struggling to comprehend its opponent being able to use moves again, and so it had no chance to dodge Quil's subsequent Rollout. The Typhlosion grabbed the oven out of the air and slammed it into the ground. Rotom tried to retaliate with heat from its own oven again, but Quil's Flamethrower outmatched it. Keeping up the heat, Quil slowly advanced. Little by little, the mechanical components of the oven started to fail. Before long, the Rotom gave a shrill screech and ejected itself from its superheated oven, its circuits fried. As this was going on, the Zangoose and Armaldo continued their fight to the side of the battlefield. Zangetsu slashed out with his claws at the Armaldo, but most of the blows were parried away. With a frown, Zangetsu feinted an attack, then slashed upwards with the power of a Close Combat. Caught off guard by the sudden powered strike, the Armaldo was sent flying backwards into the truck, which knocked the wind right out of it. This allowed Zangetsu to close the distance quickly and finish the fight, knocking the bug-type out with a Metal Claw. The sudden impact of Armaldo against the truck did not go unnoticed by Pravin, who instinctively ducked behind the driver door as Zangetsu came charging by. As the Zangoose slammed into the Armaldo with his attack, Pravin raised his weapon, hands shaking, at the Normal-Type. Noticing the movement, Zangetsu turned, darting out of the way and knocking Pravin to the ground with a swipe of his claw, tearing his mask off in the process. Mismagius popped up from the shadows behind Avitus, who was too distracted by the prompt defeat of Armaldo to react in time. In mere seconds, the Ghost-Type had used one hand to shove his gun downward, and the other to rip the gas mask from his face. As he fell to the ground, she grabbed the Armaldo’s Poké Ball and returned the unconscious Fossil Pokémon to its container. With two of the Signs taken out in such quick succession, Ray saw the opportunity before him. He whistled, signaling Orihime’s attack. The Togekiss shot out of the sky toward Sarah, one of the two remaining Signs Agents, slamming into her from above and staggering her. The Jubilee Pokémon circled back as she began to regain her balance. Sarah managed to get two shots off from her rifle before it and her gas mask were sent skidding across the pavement. Echoing Orihime's attack, Togie divebombed Ephraim with a screeching war-cry. The Signs agent raised his weapon, but the Togekiss knocked the gun away before clawing at the mask with his talons. Ephraim screamed at the sight of a massive bird landing on his face. Deprived of his weapon, he resorted to using his fists. Togie flapped away, but the damage had already been done. The man gasped as white toxin seeped into the mask. The next instant he was on the ground, convulsing. At the sight of its trainer's defeat, the Rotom charged towards Togie. Even without powers, the plasma ball Pokémon possessed enough latent electricity to shock the Togie. The bird squawked in surprise and flew several feet back to assess his enemy. Thankfully, Quil wasn't done yet. The Typhlosion shot another burst of flame at the plasma ball. With no kitchenware armor to protect it, the Rotom gave a jolting cry before falling to the ground in defeat. With the last opponent down, Missy floated up to the writhing trainers and recalled their Pokémon for them. "Serves them right," Ryan said with a cold look at the defeated Signs agents. Ignoring their terrified screams, he walked up to the back of the truck and opened it up. The entire interior was taken up by a large, complex-looking machine. Knobs and dials dotted one side of the machine, while what looked like an air duct extended out to a hatch in the roof of the truck, from which the white smoke continued to spew. "Samurott, we might need your expertise," Ryan said. As the sea lion walked over to them, Ray gave his friend a curious look. "Is your Samurott an expert in chemical warfare machines or something?" he asked. Samurott responded by drawing out her Seamitar and stabbing the machine in a random spot. Sparks flew everywhere as the display screen pulled up a warning about a critical failure. Its internal mechanisms destroyed, the machine stopped dispensing the toxin. Ryan grinned at Ray. "She's an expert in hitting stuff." "Right." Ray looked back at the Signs agents. "Now what about these guys? We should probably tie them up or--" He was cut off by a massive explosion on the hill to the north. The two trainers gave each other a look that told them they were thinking the same thing: the explosion was dangerously close to Vertrag's location. "Those guys aren't going to be hurting anyone anytime soon," Ryan said. "Quil, melt their guns, and melt the truck tires. Then we need to check on the others."
  4. Scenario 1 - IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Koziel, Andreev/Golurk, Darrow/Durant, Hull/Pinsir, Perrault/Kabutops) - Chapel, Kanto - Previous: The drive back to Chapel was uneventful, though that did not stop the members of Recon Unit Hollow Treasure from staying on high alert the entire way down Mt. Silver and back through Victory Road. Golurk aside, the others had all returned their Pokémon to their Poké Balls; the Automaton Pokémon in question flew some distance above and ahead of them, its massive form casting a dark shadow around them. It was for their benefit, of course, in case any other Instances elected to attack, but it did little to hide their location from any unwanted observers. Then again, it was likely that they wouldn't have been able to hide if they wanted to, anyway. By the time they arrived back at Chapel, Golurk had transformed back into its normal form. The same had occurred with Lopunny and Pinsir in their Poké Balls. Andreev stared out and upward from the front seat, observing the colossus. The time it had taken each one to 'devolve,' so to speak, had not been consistent, so there didn't appear to be any particular time limit in place. Each one had, however, regained their powers, which was a definite plus--it would make the inevitable defensive measures somewhat easier to conduct. She made a mental note to reach out to R&D for further testing. Ritter fiddled with the radio as the base's entrance came into view. "Chapel, this is Communications Officer Ritter of Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure. We're arriving at the gates now. Please ensure medical assistance is ready. Over." "Roger that, Hollow Treasure. Proceed to gate 3. Over." So they did. The gate welcomed them into a hangar, where they quickly dispersed from their vehicle. While a group of engineers took the jeep in for repairs, and a team of medics pushed through for initial assessments and Pokémon healing, Andreev focused on the Executive coming forward to meet her. She saluted Ortrune. "Ma'am." "At ease," Ortrune said. "Sounds like your mission didn't go so well." "Better than Silent Horizon. Unfortunately, we confirmed the entire squad as KIA." "I heard." Ortrune nodded at a technician as they handed her a data pad. "And you encountered Missing Zero's Instances, as well." "Yes, ma'am." "Any idea where they could have come from?" Andreev shook her head. "Okay. Shadow Admin Sleight has been informed of the current situation already and will be back before long. In the meantime, he has instructed us to instigate some initial countermeasures." She looked behind Andreev at the other members of Hollow Treasure. "I don't expect your squad to assist, considering the circumstances." "I wouldn't count us out quite yet, ma'am," Andreev said. "A little rest would help for now, but the six of us are still ready to fight. Three of our Pokémon experienced the recent evolution phenomenon; my understanding is that at this time, Pokémon that have regained their powers are a rarity. I believe putting ours to use would prove greatly beneficial to containment efforts." "Are you speaking for yourself or for your entire squad?" "The squad. We discussed it on the way back here." Ortrune nodded. "Very well. We'll be deploying teams to begin setting up a perimeter around Mt. Silver in approximately two hours. We'll send your unit to relieve Unit Black Water in the morning. You and your Pokémon should be healed up by then." "Understood." As Ortrune turned to leave, Andreev glanced aside. "Ma'am?" The Executive turned back to her. "I have a suggestion." Ortrune gave her a look of curiosity. "Let's hear it." "The Instances we fought made no effort to retrieve their fallen allies," Andreev said. "I believe it may be beneficial to our efforts against Missing Zero if we use this opportunity to collect fallen Instances for study. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to dispatch technicians for studying the evolution phenomenon." "Are you sure it's safe enough for non-combat personnel to accompany our recon units?" "Between the six of us in my squad, we managed to eliminate over twenty Instances and escape the trap they had set. I believe the odds are worth the risk." Ortrune considered this for a moment, and then nodded. "Very well. We'll mobilize some research teams, as well." Morning came before long. When it did, Hollow Treasure was ready, as were other units--Vibrant Hazard, Clockwork Salvage, Forest Echo, and others. They departed from Chapel, research teams in tow, breaking off from one another as they headed toward their designated stations around the new Site Zero of Kanto--Mt. Silver. Scenario 2 - ​IC - Plasma Sage Gorm/Bronius/Ryoku/Zinzolin/Giallo/Rood; Plasma Rook Kravits/Barton/Sartore/Summers/Frei/Schroder - Council Chamber, Plasma Castle: 10:43 PM The Sages' debate chambers were never silent, at least not when the leaders in question were present. The tall, cathedral-like chamber, with its pleasant fires burning on torches and the simple furniture that furnished the room, had been meant to encourage polite debate and discussion amongst the Six Bishops. Of late, however, their discussions had grown less and less civil, evolving from 'talks' to 'debates' to what could only be described as 'arguments.' And with three against three on each side, the gridlock had grown more and more noticeable. It was to the point that, were it not for their vows, their personal guards might have been tempted to express some of their own exasperation. Currently, their 'debate' centered around the ongoing crisis in the region of the Sevii Islands. "We already nearly lost one of our own helping them deal with One Island," Rood was saying. "Not to mention the damage they've done previously in our region. As far as I can tell, they brought this on themselves by not dealing with Ford sooner. We have no place in this conflict." "Our best move would be a return to closed walls," Giallo said, nodding aggressively. "They handled the Ancient Darkrai, did they not? Surely this is no different?" "The Darkrai were a formidable threat, but they are nothing like what we are seeing now," Ryoku said, slamming his hand down. "The Ancient Darkrai could not create mockeries of nature the way this 'Missing Zero' does. It would be an affront to our ideals to refuse assistance now." "Ryoku is right," Gorm said. "This threat will spread. What happens if Rocket and Liberty cannot contain it? We will be by ourselves either way. There is no harm in putting our lot in with them while we can--" A blinding light shone through the windows as something streaked across the sky, narrowly missing the tower. 10:45 PM The crash was enough to shake the castle at its core, sending Sages and Rooks alike to the ground. When it had settled, the chamber was a mess of falling dust and upset furniture. "W-What w-was th-that?" Giallo yelped. He looked frantically around the room, making eye contact with Barton and waving her over. The Yellow Rook hurried to his side, grabbing his hand and helping him up. "A-Are we under a-attack?" Kravits hurried to Gorm's side to assist him, simultaneously raising a hand to his ear and activating his radio. "Command Center, report. What is happening?" A strange sensation erupted across the entire city. 10:47 PM As Rood, Giallo, and Gorm were pulled to their feet by their guards, something . . . else happened in rapid succession around the room. The Green Rook, Summers, buckled as Ryoku collapsed back to the ground. He reached around the Green Sage's back to support him. "Sage Ryoku! Are you--" His words caught in his throat as the Sage slowly raised his head to look at him. Summers paled. The Sage's face had turned a sickly, grayish hue, and his eyes had clouded over. A low moan escaped his throat; a moment later, he had lunged forward in Summers's grip, teeth closing on the flesh of the Rook's face. Bronius yelped in surprise as the weight of Schroder fell on him. The Brown Rook had transformed in much the same way as Ryoku. As Bronius struggled to get out from under him, Schroder twisted and pinned the Brown Sage underneath him. It seemed to take a moment for Schroder(?) to fully comprehend what was happening, but when he did, he pushed down and bit--hard--into Bronius's throat. The Sage screamed in horror and pain. The Purple Rook, Frei, was not quite at Zinzolin's side when the wave hit. She fell several feet away from him, stirring a moment later and snarling, glaring out at nothing with those same, glossy eyes. As Zinzolin watched, horrified, she crawled over to the nearest target--Bronius--and joined in tearing him apart. It was a lot to take in in such a short amount of time. Kravitz jumped into action, pulling out his stun baton and charging toward Bronius's assailants. The pair had done a number on him already; blood surrounded him, and it was clear that he was no longer breathing, or at least could no longer scream. With a wide, heavy swing, the Blue Rook struck Schroder, sending him rolling to the side with a series of electricity-induced convulsions. Frei reared up to snarl at him and he struck again, knocking her aside, too. While Barton deployed her shield and moved to guard the remaining Sages, Sartore moved to try and save Summers. She pulled her sword free of its sheath and swung with the blunt end at Ryoku--or what had been Ryoku--in order to knock him off of the Green Rook. She was too late, however; Summers raised shaking hands to the bleeding wound on his face and the torn flesh of his neck, gasping and falling still. Tearing her eyes away, she watched Ryoku carefully and moved toward Zinzolin, pulling him up and escorting him back toward the other Sages. Kravitz brandished his baton at the monstrous Brown and Purple Rooks, not daring to take his eyes off of them. "Sage Gorm, requesting clearance to eliminate hostile agents." Gorm shook where he stood, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. Finally, he nodded. "P-Permission granted." "Permission acknowledged." Kravitz dropped his stun baton, grabbing his rifle and taking quick aim at his targets. One, two shots slammed into each of their heads, knocking them back and downing them. They did not move. As Ryoku lunged at her, Sartore instinctively moved her blade to defend herself. The sword pierced Ryoku's chest, prompting an outraged scream from Zinzolin. "You were not authorized to kill a Sage!" he yelled. "Rooks Kravitz and Barton, arrest Rook Sa-" Rood placed a hand on Zinzolin's shoulder. "Silence!" he spat. "Ryoku attacked one of our own. He knew the consequences of such an attack, no matter what possessed him to--" "Sages!" Sartore yelled. "This . . . This is not Sage Ryoku--not anymore!" It couldn't have been, no. Ryoku would have been dead from such a wound. But this creature did not die; it pushed forward, driving the blade deeper into itself, groaning not in pain, but merely to groan as it reached toward Sartore. With a quick, clean motion, the Red Rook pulled her blade free and swung, slicing through Ryoku's neck. The creature fell to the ground, motionless and bleeding. The chamber fell silent. It was Gorm who spoke first. "What evil has fallen upon us . . .?" "I don't know," Kravitz said. He stooped down by Summers's body, hefting the ceremonial mace that the Rook had once wielded. "But . . ." He glanced toward the window. Screams and shouts reached them now, from the city and from elsewhere in the castle. "This place is no longer safe for any of us. We need to go--now."
  5. IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Koziel/Infernape, Andreev/Golurk, Darrow/Durant, Hull/Pinsir, Perrault/Kabutops) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto - Previous: --Drivedie/Meadiant/Meadiant; Spyfly/Spyfly; Meadiant/Meadiant-- The towering forms of the green giants lumbered toward Lopunny. Ritter stood behind her, rifle half-raised. Beside him, Koziel rocked her Infernape's body in her arms, silent and grieving. Within several yards, the Instances began picking up speed, the ground shaking underneath them as they slowly built up momentum, mouths twisting into wide, toothy grins. Lopunny stood her ground, though Ritter was less certain of his ability to tank a hit from them. "Koziel!" he barked, dropping his gun and moving to grab her. "Move!" He pulled her out of the way just as several other events occurred. First was Lopunny's movement. Without warning, she suddenly launched forward in a full-on sprint, kicking off and Bouncing over the head of the giant on the left. With expert precision, she whipped an ear down at it from above, slamming the Instance with the full force of her attack. Its clay-like head cracked and it slammed down into the ground, carving a large rip in the earth as it tumbled to a stop, right at the edge of the cliff. Second was the flying thing that slammed into the second giant. It was a big, brown, winged bug that charged straight into its path with horns aglow, impaling the Instance on the spiky protrusions. The force of the two colliding creatures sent them into a tumble that Ritter could not quite follow. It was clear, though, that neither was dead--the bug, which Ritter recognized now as a very strange-looking Pinsir, pulled itself free and buzzed back into the air, while the Instance groaned--or something similar to a groan, except that it sounded like it was giggling--as it pushed itself back on its feet from the resulting crater, supporting its weight on the log it carried. Third and last was the flurry of movement and noise as most of the squad regrouped--Hull, Perrault, and Kabutops arriving on foot, the Shellfish Pokémon taking up the rearguard. Then the hum of the jeep as Darrow arrived, pulling to a stop beside the group. He opened the passenger-side door. "Squad, status report." "One casualty," Ritter answered, gesturing to Infernape. "We're fine other than that." "As far as I can tell, these are the last few targets," Hull added. "Kabutops and Pinsir managed to take out the group of Maniakoll and Harpreak. Seems the others took care of the rest of the standard Instances." Darrow nodded. "Andreev is working on the tank and two of these big ones. Speaking of . . ." He whistled. Behind him, his Sawk popped out of the back of the jeep and into the seat of the turret. The Fraygrins had damaged its rotation gear, but with a little bit of muscle, the Fighting-Type managed to force it into a good enough position to aim at the giant by the cliff. And then, much to the surprise of everyone else, Sawk pulled the trigger, sending a stream of high-power bullets slamming into its midsection that stopped it dead where it stood, finally forcing it backwards and off of the cliff to slam into the many, many rocks and spikes below. It disappeared into the valley with a distant rumble as its massive body struck the ground somewhere far below. "Everyone pulls their weight," Darrow said, dismissing the dumbfounded stares from the rest of his squad. "Anyway, let's finish this one off and then radio back to base. They need to know what's going on." "That might be a problem," Ritter said. "I think those flying ones are disrupting the comm equipment. They're too fast to shoot." "Can't be that fast," Hull said. "Kill the big one. Pinsir will get the flying ones. Perrault, Koziel, you two had better take cover inside." "Simple enough." Ritter pulled the device from his bag, setting it inside the jeep as Perrault and Koziel climbed in. Hull hurried off with Pinsir. "You got this, Lopunny?" The Rabbit Pokémon nodded. "Then let's kill this thing." It was a good call, because at that moment the Instance steadied itself and straightened up. The massive wound in its chest gushed a reddish liquid, spilling out on the ground in front of it. It lurched forward, raising a hand and launching several Seed Bombs in the direction of the jeep. Lopunny jumped up, whipping her ears back and forth and knocking the attack off-course, leaving the seeds to explode relatively harmlessly against random spots on the field. As she charged toward the Instance, it gripped the log with both hands, kicking it and heaving the heavy object over its head to bring crashing down toward the rabbit. Its speed was no match for hers, though, and she managed to effortlessly dodge the attack, running up the log and toward its chest wound. Pulling her arm back, she threw a fist forward, straight into its exposed innards. Immediately, the creature's body began to freeze from the inside out, ice spreading rapidly over its entire form until finally it stood completely solid, glistening slightly in the dimming sun. Pulling her hand free, Lopunny struck again but with Dizzy Punch, shattering the Instance into several large chunks. She flipped backward and gave Ritter a thumbs-up, which he returned. Several yards away, Hull and Pinsir directed their attention to the two flying Instances, which had remained in a perpetual hover on the outskirts of the field. They seemed to sense the threat against them, as they suddenly began to buzz in every direction once they noticed the approaching Rocket Agent. This did not deter the pair, as Pinsir kicked off from the ground and shot toward them. The pair of flies scattered; Pinsir picked the one going left and followed it. As she closed in on it, she began charging a Guillotine attack--there was no telling what type these Instaces were yet, but if they were not immune to Normal-Type attacks, then it wouldn't matter as long as she could land the hit. The Instance was quickly losing ground. As Pinsir bore down on it, it suddenly loosed an incredibly loud Chatter from its microphone-like head. The metallic screeching--vaguely mimicking what could only be described as bits of sheet metal that had learned to speak English by scraping together--tore at Pinsir, diminishing her focus. Still, she swooped forward and managed to catch the bug-like Instance in her horns. It was surprisingly light for its size, and as she squeezed, its Light Metal body crumpled like an empty soda can. She flung the remains into the distance before turning and scanning for the other one. She had half-expected it to come after her and hit her with a sneak attack. Otherwise, it would likely have gone back to the jeep to continue disrupting the radio. But it was nowhere to be seen. She even swooped down below the cliff, near the last remaining zombie, and still did not see it. This was concerning, but at least if it had fled, it could not cause any more trouble--at least for now. Pinsir returned to Hull. Against two 10-foot-tall golems and a similarly-sized tank centaur, Andreev would normally have been sweating beneath the collar of her jacket. But she had a 20-foot-tall Golurk standing beside her, one much more powerful than any she had seen before. The odds were, at the very least, even. And with her comrades out of the way, they could go full-force. The machine Instance made the first move. Its treads tore through the ground as it strafed around the large Golurk, raising its cannon and taking aim not at the Automaton Pokémon, but at its trainer. The tip of the cannon lit up as it fired off a series of Magnet Bombs. Andreev did not even flinch, allowing Golurk to simply place a hand defensively in front of her to tank the resulting explosions. The Instance revved its engine, observing. It elicited a series of robotic noises that sounded like garbled speech--there was no telling what it was saying, nor who it was attempting to speak to, nor even if it was trying to "communicate" anything at all in the usual sense of the word. Still, it moved to a different position, cannon lowered but eyes set on its opponent. As it adjusted, the two giants moved in. One heaved its stop sign at Golurk, which glowed with energy in the vague shape of a sword. The attack bounced harmlessly off of Golurk's leg; it occurred to Andreev that that must have been a Sacred Sword attack, and the lack of damage meant that Golurk must have retained its Ghost-Typing upon transforming. This was good news. The other giant managed to land a powerful Meteor Mash against Golurk's shin, striking with enough force to leave a dent in the Automaton Pokémon's armor. That was far from enough to subdue it, however. In response, Golurk drew its fist back, bringing it straight down on the offending Instance and smashing it into the ground. It kept pushing, allowing the Drain Punch to get the full effect from the hit, utterly draining the Instance of its power; the 'wound' buckled and healed with the absorbed energy. As it lifted its arm back up, something hot struck it in the back, and Golurk loosed a groan of pain. Andreev covered her face, moving out of the way as the lava suddenly covering Golurk's back spilled onto the ground nearby. It burned and ate at Golurk's steel body, greatly damaging it, but the Automaton managed to recover and turn to face its attacker. The tank creature had moved again, just out of range. The other giant moved around Golurk, spotting an easier target in the form of Andreev. As it raised its massive fist to smash the Rocket Agent, Golurk reached down, grabbing it by its upper body and heaving the Instance toward its own ally. The tank dodged out of the way as the green giant slammed into the ground nearby. As it did so, Golurk raised its other hand and launched a Flash Cannon at its opponent. The beam of energy struck, knocking it off balance. Golurk charged, its large form allowing it to clear the distance in record time, and swiped the mechanical Instance aside. It fell, struggling to right its large and unwieldy form. As Golurk bore down on it, it twisted and aimed its cannon again, charging up a Blast Burn and firing it straight at Golurk's head. The Automaton Pokémon twisted, avoiding the attack, and slowly turned to look back at its target. From a distance, Andreev watched as Golurk stomped its massive foot on the Instance's upper body, pinning it in place as it pulled on the Instance's lower body. With an awful rip, Golurk pulled the two halves apart, sending a shower of oil and sparks spraying across the field. It stomped again on the upper half for good measure, and then slammed the bottom half against the remaining Instance a few feet away. Golurk limped back toward her. Andreev gave him an appreciative smile. "Very well done," she said. "You okay?" The Pokémon paused. It rotated an arm, summoning an Ice Punch attack, and pressed down on its burning back. A cloud of steam swirled into the air. Golurk gave her a thumbs-up. At that moment, the jeep pulled up with the others. With the exception of Pinsir, who flew above the vehicle, and Lopunny, who rode atop it, the Rocket Agents had returned all of their Pokémon. Andreev observed the transformed Pokémon with keen interest, but pulled her focus away as the doors opened and Ritter stepped out. "All clear?" "All clear," he confirmed. "Still working on the radio, but we should leave now before more Instances show up." "Agreed." Andreev looked at Golurk. "Can you give us some coverage while we move?" Golurk nodded. "Okay. Let's get out of here."
  6. IC - Signs Pravin/Avitus (Armaldo)/Ephraim (Rotom-H)/Sarah (Crustle)/Esther (Solrock) - Streets, Dendemille Town: It took some time for the cloud to pass. When it did, one of the first things to become clear was the result of Quil's Flamethrower. Perhaps as a result of not battling for the previous weeks, the attack seemed to have done quite a number on the Rotom, knocking it back and dazing it. It seemed uncertain of how to respond, knowing that its opponent could actually use its moves again. Across the way, Esther was caught completely off-guard by the Mismagius's attack. There wasn't much Solrock could do for her, either. With a great heave, the Ghost-Type pulled the weapon free from the Signs agent, giggling as she carried it away to parts unknown. Esther cursed, sliding off of Solrock's back and pointing at the Pokémon trainers in front of her. "Fine! Solrock, take 'em out for me!" The Meteorite complied, shooting toward Ryan and Ray's position with a makeshift Rapid Spin attack. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron/Emmerich Coleman - Streets, Dendemille Town: The cloud had spread far; they could see it as soon as the elevator doors opened out into the alleyway. A small portion had settled into the elevator as the doors closed behind them, vanishing back into the bricks. With any luck, Vertrag could isolate and eradicate the substance without bringing it directly into the facility. But that was a concern for later. For now, they had the cloud outside to contend with, and the Signs forces that had come along with it. Sirens screeched throughout the town, bouncing off of the walls and hills, coalescing into a demonic chorus of disaster. The sound hurt to listen to--not just physically, but emotionally. The people here had had no warning of what was coming. There was no chance they were prepared for an attack of this scale, let alone the effects of the cloud itself. As he peered through the fog, Kyle couldn't stop himself from shaking in a mixture of dread, fear, and fury. He could see several civilians scattered about, all collapsed to the ground or huddled in terror against the nearest wall. What horrors were they seeing? He didn't realize he had started running toward the nearest victim--a boy, only a little younger than himself--until Sonja threw her arms around his chest and pulled him back. "Kyle!" she said, her voice muffled. "Don't just run off--you don't know who or what is out there!" "We can't just leave them like that!" he responded. "Vertrag is right here, can we at least get some of these people out of the way!?" "No, we can't," Sonja said. She managed to get him back into the alleyway. "I don't--calm down!" She caught him again and pushed back, forcing him to a standstill. "I don't like it either, but we have to be smart about this." Kyle didn't respond, but he did relent, stepping back and walking further back into the alley to sit down and catch his breath. "If we let all of these people in, then we're going to have to help them back out. What do we tell the authorities then? We can't swear them all to secrecy, and we already agreed that the more people that know about Vertrag, the less secure it is. And this might not be the same drug that he used on you--at the very least, there's no guarantee that everyone is going to be affected by it the same way. What happens if some of them turn violent? They could damage the base while we're out here, and I don't think we have the manpower to leave someone behind to watch them. Do you get that?" "I get it," Kyle snapped. "I just wish you weren't right." "Trust me, I wish so, too," she said. "The best thing we can do right now is stay calm and coordinate a defense." As she spoke, she picked out Ares's, Athena's and Neith's Poké Balls and tossed them into the air, releasing the Druddigon, Pidove and Noibat. "You two, I need you to get a feel for the situation--count as many attackers as you can. Chances are the ones responsible for this will be armed--look for those." Kyle watched the two Flying-Types head out. He took a deep breath and sent out some of his own Pokémon--Jaeda, Ruj, and Kitheus. "You go, too," he ordered. "We need to know what's happening and we need to know fast." They nodded and took to the air. As they headed out, he sent out Daiga. The Sandslash stretched his arms, glancing around with a furtive demeanor. Sonja offered him a careful smile before releasing Atum at her side. "I'd send out my own flyers, but, well . . . I don't have any," Emmerich said sheepishly. Nevertheless, he pulled his service pistol from its holster, and released his Machamp, Hitmonchan, and Hitmonlee. He peered out from the alley and into the street, moving as discreetly as possible. "Looks like there's a truck moving away from us." He squinted. "Two mooks on the driver side; I'd bet the same on the passenger side. Truck seems to be part of the cloud's source." He looked back at Chloe and the others. "I suggest we jump it while we have surprise on our side."
  7. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron/Emmerich Coleman/Vertrag - Common Room, Vertrag: "Alright, then let's head that way," Sonja said. "Come on." She led the way out of the room and toward the elevator. Just at the door, however, Vertrag materialized in front of them, one hand up in front of it. Please wait, the holographic Jirachi urged. I am detecting large quantities of an airborne substance just outside of this facility. There is a high likelihood that this substance is the same as I am currently scanning in the lab. Vertrag's eyes flashed. Four breathing apparatuses appeared out of thin air, one in front of each trainer. They instinctively lifted their hands to catch them. I would suggest wearing these until the air has had sufficient time to disperse the substance. The Jirachi flickered out. Good luck. "Let's get these on now," Sonja suggested. "No offense, Kyle, but I don't want to end up in your shoes." "I don't blame you," Kyle said. As he placed the mask over his mouth and nose, a thought occurred to him. "Vertrag, how is this gas affecting Pokémon? Any way that you can tell from here?" Surface scans indicate that there are numerous Pokémon moving about within perimeter of the gas cloud, Vertrag responded. They appear unimpaired by it. "Good," Kyle said. The mask muffled his voice, but his tone was clear enough. "My team's got a few words for Shift . . ." Once everyone had secured their masks, they entered the elevator, going up . . . IC - Signs Pravin/Avitus (Armaldo)/Ephraim (Rotom-H)/Sarah (Crustle)/Esther (Solrock) - Streets, Dendemille Town: The Signs members all called off orders to their individual Pokémon. It was hard to tell who was saying what, but the Pokémon themselves seemed to function well enough. The Armaldo charged forward to meet Byakuya head-on. As the Bisharp swung forward, Armaldo spun to the side, aiming to slam its tail into the small of the Sword Blade Pokémon's back. It did not have time to admire its handiwork, as Togie swooped down at that moment, forcing the Plate Pokémon to pull its arms up in a defensive position, pushing back against the Togekiss. In response to Zangetsu's charge, the Crustle took a step back, pulling itself back into the slab of stone that composed its shell. The attack struck, once, twice, but it did not emerge again. Pulling its arms back into the oven, the Rotom hovered a little higher, just barely avoiding Quil's Rollout. It opened the door to the oven it possessed, rapidly heating up and releasing a makeshift Heat Wave at the Fire-Type. The Solrock, meanwhile, floated back toward its trainer. As she took up position behind it, using on of its side spikes as a makeshift balance to steady the weapon--and thus using its body for cover--the door to the truck opened and Pravin, the drive, stepped out. He unholstered a pistol from his side, standing behind the truck's driver-side door for cover, and took aim where Ryan and Ray remained in hiding. "Let 'em loose!" he yelled. The bullets began to fly again, concentrated on their opponent trainers while their Pokémon worked to subdue the enemy team.
  8. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron/Emmerich Coleman/Vertrag - Common Room, Vertrag: "Why wouldn't he tell you what's going on?" Kyle asked. Before Chloe could answer, Vertrag materialized above the table, followed by Emmerich's emergence through the command center door. The sample is currently being analyzed, the AI reported. It will take some time to create an antidote. Initial scans appear promising. "What's happening?" Emmerich asked. "'Something.' Ryan didn't say." Kyle shouldered his bag. "If he's concerned about Shift's drug, though, then I think it's pretty obvious who's responsible." "Whatever it is, we should go help." Sonja replaced the Grimoire in her bag, pushing herself up from her seat. She looked at Chloe. "Are they still at the Pokémon Center?" IC - Signs x5 - Streets, Dendemille Town: The four Signs marching beside the truck scattered at the fight of the Flamethrower, exclaiming in surprise at the attack. The driver instinctively covered their face as the flames washed over the truck, scorching the metal plating and windshield. As the Signs regrouped, two of them opened fire on Ryan and Typhlosion's position to deter the attack, successfully forcing Typhlosion back to avoid getting hit. The truck driver took this opportunity to call out on the radio. "Boss, we've got a live one--a Typhlosion, targeting the truck." "And?" Shift's voice crackled back in response, his annoyance palpable. "There are five of you over there, aren't there? Put it out." "It's a live one, boss," the driver repeated. "It's got its attacks back. Probably can transform, too. Still want us to engage?" There was a small pause. "That does change things, doesn't it?" Shift said after a moment. "Alright. Kill the trainer, take the Pokémon. Might be useful. If you can't take it alive, then take it dead." "Yes, sir." The driver replaced the receiver and then blared the truck's horn twice. In response, the four Signs outside pulled back, each one pulling out a Poké Ball and tossing it into the air towards Ryan and Typhlosion . . . IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Koziel/Infernape, Andreev/Golurk, Darrow/Durant, Hull/Pinsir, Perrault/Kabutops) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto: --Sinystal x1; Phantashade x1; Drivedie x1; Spyfly x2; Fraygrins x4; Maniakoll x4; Meadiant x4-- An explosion of color and light surrounded Golurk. There seemed to be others across the field, but given the situation, Andreev and Darrow were focused more on the Automaton Pokémon than anything else. The Fraygrins paused in their efforts to crush the truck and its occupants, turning their attention to the phenomenon nearby; whether they were surprised or simply reassessing their targets, Andreev could not tell. Given that she could finally breathe, however, she was not inclined to question them any further. The light faded to reveal something larger and more massive than what had previously been Andreev's run-of-the-mill Golurk. The kneeling figure had doubled in size, stretching and tearing the vines that had previously held it down. Its body had become segmented into large, floating chunks--its limbs had detached, floating and connected now by some strange energy instead of the joints that had previously locked them in place. The body glowed with a massive, bright eye-like fixture that glared out at the creatures before it. A flame-like plume flowed out from its head. All over, the clay that had composed its body had transformed into a shiny, steel-like substance that reflected brilliantly in the dying light of the valley. Golurk turned its head to face the jeep and the Fraygrins holding the Rocket forces hostage. With an effortless heave, it rose to its feet, dragging along the two Fraygrins struggling to contain it. No longer encumbered by a weakness to their very form, it reached for the vines that had held it down and tore them off, casting them aside. It raised a fist, which glowed inside a chilly whirlwind that gathered around its wrist. It roared, slamming a massive Ice Punch into the ground beside the jeep--between the four Fraygrins. Andreev squeezed her eyes close, turning her head away to protect her face from the ensuing shock wave. Through the darkness, she felt the vines around her shrivel and harden, slowly freezing from the attack. When she opened her eyes, she saw that two of the Fraygrins--the two that had captured herself and Darrow--had been frozen solid. Another struggled to move its half-frozen form. The fourth was nowhere to be seen; after a moment, Andreev realized that it had been crushed under Golurk's attack. Without waiting for the Fraygrins to recoup from the attack, Golurk reached forward with its other hand. Its massive fist closed around the half-frozen Fraygrins, gripping it tightly and tearing it from the ground like a massive, monstrous weed. Airborne and useless, it could barely defend itself as Golurk tore it in half, unfazed by the pitiful Razor Leaf that it managed to conjure up. Golurk twisted on the spot, taking aim and hurling the pieces of the Fraygrins at the Sinystal hiding within the forest--which it followed with a pointed Flash Cannon attack that obliterated the Rock-Type where it stood. A moment later, the Automaton Pokémon had taken hold of the other two Grass-Type Instances, crushing their frozen forms in one hand each. Andreev breathed a sigh of relief as the vines disintegrated around them. She nodded appreciatively at Golurk, and then turned to Darrow. "Take the jeep and regroup the others," she ordered. "Get Ritter on the radio. We need to leave." "You don't want the turret . . .?" "No, we'll be fine," she responded. "Go. Now." "Y-Yes, ma'am." As Darrow moved to assess the jeep, Andreev turned her and Golurk's attention back to the treeline. In front of them, the largest of the Instances emerged--two of the green giants, as well as the monstrous, robotic creature. Golurk stepped forward, focusing its massive eye on the lead Instance . . . Across the way, the light surrounding Lopunny faded. From a distance, Ritter wasn't sure at first what all had changed--all he could see for certain was that her ears had elongated, becoming sort of segmented. He saw the other changes a moment later. With renewed strength, the Rabbit Pokémon managed to force the giant's hand open around her, slipping out and flipping back. The fur around her legs had changed, turning black--they reminded Ritter of torn leggings. Tufts of fur had grown around her ankles. They were subtle and few changes. But what they indicated was all the same. As if reading his mind, Lopunny turned back to Ritter and Koziel, choosing to ignore her previous assailants for now. With impressive speed, she charged back toward her trainer--far faster than she had ever moved in the past, managing to close the distance in a matter of seconds. This was good for Koziel. Unlike the Fraygrins, the Phantashade had not been distracted by Lopunny's transformation. Thus, it was mere millimeters away from doing... whatever it was going to do to Koziel, when Lopunny arrived. The Rabbit Pokémon leaped forward, spinning in the air and lashing out with . . . High Jump Kick!? "Lopunny! What are you doing!?" Ritter managed to yell. "Shadow Ball!" His command fell at the exact moment that Lopunny struck. The Phantashade was so distracted, so focused, that it never saw the attack coming. Probably, too, it was relying on its impervious nature to certain attacks--Fighting and Normal. But Lopunny's evolution had brought a new ability, a change in her capabilities that she felt instinctively. And so she landed the attack. Her foot struck the Ghost-Type Instance in the side of the head with so much force that the creature's skull detached, tearing it and its hood off of its neck and sending it careening off of the nearby cliff like some sort of morbid soccer ball. Immediately, the Instance's body crumpled to the ground, dropping Koziel and Ritter with it. The pair coughed, winded from the impact, as Lopunny assumed a defensive pose between them and the approaching giants. The light faded around Pinsir. If Hull was surprised by Pinsir's transformation, they did not show it. As with everything else so far, they took the changes in stride. Whether Pinsir was charging the Maniakoll on foot--as she had been before--or rocketing towards them through the air via newly-deployed wings, as she currently was, it didn't matter. The end result would be the same. It was not clear which one she was initially aiming for. At the last possible moment, however, she shifted course, aiming for the Maniakoll currently forcing Kabutops to the floor. Its body was raised partially above the prone form of the Shellfish Pokémon, leaving it vulnerable. With impressive speed, she hit, ripping into the Normal-Type Instance her horns and sending all three into a roll across the grass; the other Instances scattered, avoiding the tumbling mess. As Kabutops rolled to a halt, shaking his head and pushing himself back to his feet, Pinsir tangled with the Maniakoll. The initial hit had nearly sliced it in half; though it struggled in her grip, whipping around and trying to gain an advantage on the Bug-Type Pokémon, it had no chance. She pressed her horns inward, slicing through its rubbery body and sending the two halves tumbling to the ground. The other Maniakoll hissed, lunging forward. One of the white ones spun around, aiming a Mega Kick at Pinsir. She rolled out of the way, pulling her arms back and slicing into its back in an X-Scissor attack with her newly-grown arm blades. The attack cut it deep, down to the other side of its body, and as it writhed on the ground, she pulled it up into her horns and crushed its head. The black Maniakoll and the last white one went for Kabutops. Still staggered from the earlier attack, Kabutops fell victim to a bright flash of light, leaving him blinded. The white Maniakoll followed it up with a Take Down attack that knocked him back to the ground. In desperation, Kabutops sliced upward, managing to cut into its face with one of his scythes. It reeled back, just in time for Pinsir to slam into it with Brick Break, finishing the job for Kabutops. The black Maniakoll danced uncertainly in place, before charging forward. Hull and Pinsir could not tell what it was doing, but it clearly was not good. Planting herself firmly in place, Pinsir waited. At the last moment, she grabbed the Maniakoll and spun, Vital Throwing it into the air. Too far into its attack to stop, the Normal-Type Instance flew, and then promptly Exploded in a shower of energy that rocked the ground beneath it. Hull lowered their arm, admittedly surprised by the attempted suicide bombing. Shaking it off, they offered a thumbs-up to Pinsir, and then turned to Perrault. "Come on--only a few left."
  9. IC: A light arced across the sky . . . IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron - Common Room, Vertrag: Admittedly, Kyle wasn't sure what to do with the sudden hug. Uncertain of how to respond, he merely looked away and mumbled something that sounded like "thanks, Chloe." It was hard to tell, though. "Well . . ." Sonja patted the Grimoire, trying her best to hide the small smile on her lips. "Guess we should give this a try now, huh?" IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Koziel/Infernape, Andreev/Golurk, Darrow/Durant, Hull/Pinsir, Perrault/Kabutops) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto: --Sinystal x1; Venophage x1; Phantashade x1; Drivedie x1; Spyfly x2; Fraygrins x4; Maniakoll x4; Meadiant x4-- Vines everywhere. They erupted in every direction. They wrapped around everything. Arms, legs, torsos, heads, guns, everything. Four Fraygrins all attacking at once, fanning out their near-infinite vine-like appendages. Andreev couldn't breathe, they squeezed so hard. And the giggling, that god ###### giggling. They found it funny, what they were doing. Murder. Torture. How could they find this funny!? They squeezed on Andreev. They squeezed Durant. They squeezed Darrow. Their vines slinked through the opening into the jeep and soon they had wrapped it in vines, too, squeezing. She could feel her bones starting to strain. She could feel her muscles starting to pop. She could hear Darrow's yells of pain. Durant screeching. The jeep grinding as its frame began to crush under the force. Windows cracking and exploding into shards of glass across the ground. It was futile. There was no escape. "Gol . . . urk . . . He . . . lp . . ." She forced herself to look at Golurk. The Automaton Pokémon struggled against the vines ensnaring it. It groaned a mechanical groan as it fell to a kneeling position, pulled down by its own weight and the pressure from its enemies. It struggled. They all struggled. "Gol . . . urk . . ." As they managed to make eye contact under the pressure of the Fraygrins, something amazing happened. Golurk's body glowed. Infernape danced around the Phantashade, doing what she could to draw its attention. But there was only so much she could do, considering she couldn't touch it. It seemed to enjoy teasing her, intentionally aiming its own attacks so that they just barely missed--or else did scratch damage. Ritter and Koziel were at a loss at the display. They couldn't fire on the Ghost-Type--what good would that do? They couldn't charge it themselves. It was a war of attrition and they were losing. They dared not take their eyes off of it, though. Phantashade were known--in both recorded encounters--to attempt something when they made it into close range on a target. While neither attempt had been successful, no one wanted to be the first to find out what that 'something' was. But that was not all. Lopunny was tiring out, too. It hopped away from another monstrous swing from the large green creature, which elicited a harsh chuckle as it registered the helplessness in her gaze. More than that, another was approaching, this one wielding a signpost that it seemed to have ripped straight from the ground. It spun the metal object deftly in its hand, looking between the two Pokémon attempting to fight its fellow Instances. It gripped the sign, raising it in the preparatory stance for a throw. "Inferno!" Koziel shouted. "Watch o--!" The Phantashade suddenly lunged sideways in a puff of shadowy mist. It reappeared in front of Ritter and Koziel, materializing and gripping both of them by the throat, shoving Ritter to the ground whilst simultaneously hoisting Koziel up. If she was afraid of her predicament, however, she did not show it, instead watching in horror as Infernape turned around, beginning to glow with a rainbow light-- And loosed a short yelp of surprise and pain as the pole-end of a stop sign pierced her chest, embedding itself in the ground out the other end. She immediately fell limp, eyes going dark and the flame atop her head petering out in seconds. "INFERNO!" Koziel screamed and kicked at the Phantashade. "NO! NO! HOW COULD YOU!?" Ritter stared in disbelief at Inferno's body, too stunned and overwhelmed to be of any help to Koziel above him. Everything felt as if it was moving a million times slower. As the Ghost-Type Instance began to pull Koziel toward its hooded face, Ritter turned his head to look at Lopunny. The Normal-Type stared in shock at Inferno for several moments. Steeling herself, she loosed a furious screech, leaping toward the giant responsible. It threw a hand forward, catching her in its grip. It brought her up to face its wide, grinning mouth, squeezing the Rabbit Pokémon in its massive fist. A sharp gasp escaped Ritter's throat. "LOPUNNY!" Without warning, a rainbow engulfed her. "PERRAULT!" Hull moved fast, managing to leap at him from where they stood. The Venophage's stinger glanced off of their shoulder armor, spewing droplets of corrosive poison onto the ground that ate through dirt and grass in mere seconds. While Perrault recovered from the sudden impact with the floor, Hull rolled immediately off of him and onto their back, taking aim and firing. The Venophage announced its death with a shrill screech as bullets tore through the spherical main body, rending it apart in seconds. With heavy breaths, Hull rolled forward onto their feet, offering a hand to Perrault and quickly pulling him up. "T-Thanks . . ." Perrault barely managed to sputter. "Thank me when we're done!" Hull snapped, training their rifle on the Maniakoll before them. Perrault took a deep breath and did the same. "Targets incoming!" Clearly unamused by the turn of events, the Maniakoll drifted through the air for a moment before the three white ones lunged forward, twisting and distorting in random directions. As Kabutops and Pinsir ran forward to meet them, the Normal-Type Instances launched into a flurry of attacks. One hovered in midair, raising its whip-like arms and sending forth a rain of star-shaped energy blades. Kabutops moved in front of Pinsir, parrying the Swift attack with carefully-placed swings of his arm blades. As he approached to retaliate, the black Maniakoll appeared from the side, grabbing his attention with what must have been Follow Me. A third Maniakoll appeared from beneath him, Wrapping around him and forcing him to the ground, effectively neutralizing the Shellfish Pokémon. All three turned, leering at Pinsir and the two Rocket Agents. That was when the fourth reappeared. It leaped from the grass off to the side of the distracted Bug-Type, Slamming into her and knocking her aside. Pinsir pushed herself up, glancing between each of the four Instances as they regrouped around the downed Kabutops. Their movements continued in that same, rhythmic way that they always did, as if to taunt the Bug-Type on her powerlessness. Perrault gulped. "This isn't good." "It's not over." It felt like the fifth time Hull had said it in the last few minutes. But it was true. "Got any other Pokémon?" "N-No," Perrault admitted. "Kabutops is all I h-have right now . . ." Hull placed a hand on his shoulder. "Then let's get him back." Perrault hesitated, but nodded. Hull took a step forward, moving beside Pinsir. Vaguely, Hull was aware of what was occurring with Koziel and Ritter, as well as Andreev and Darrow. It wasn't a good situation. And that pain spreading so far across the battlefield . . . That filled Hull with fury. "Pinsir." The Bug-Type looked at her trainer. "Make 'em pay." Horns clanking angrily together, Pinsir charged. A rainbow light glowed around her. IC - Dendemille Town: Rising smoke was the first sign. It was summertime, though, so most wrote it off as a small forest fire off in Route 15--nothing terribly unusual. Though Pokémon powers remained unusable, there were a few that had managed to regain access. Some of the townspeople assumed this to be another such case--perhaps a battle breaking out in the woods between re-energized individuals. The prospect was too tempting to ignore; a group of children ran off to see what they could find. The electricity going out was the second sign. This was less innocent. Not suspicious, so to speak, but noteworthy nonetheless. The power systems in this area were well-constructed; for power to skip across all of Dendemille meant a serious issue had occurred with the power lines. Backup generators activated near-automatically, ensuring that the essential buildings equipped with them--the hospital, federal offices, the Pokémon Center--lost none of their precious work time. In a matter of minutes, teams had been contacted to begin assessing the problem, to find the weak point and repair it. Nothing to get frightened over. The white cloud was the third sign. Those facing Route 15 were the first to see it. It was not normal. When the people walking that way stopped to stare in bewilderment, soon those headed in the opposite direction took notice, turning to observe the strange covering that had manifested in the forest. It was no small thing--people across the entire town could see it. Office workers halted their meetings, moving to the windows to better observe. Several people pulled up their Holocasters--some to record the strange phenomenon, others to contact the town's emergency services. It was not normal. By now, the same sense of unease had befallen almost the entire town, though no one was quite sure what to do, what to make of this development. The trucks, and the men marching beside them, were the fourth sign. A dozen freight trucks pushed their way slowly along the forest road. White smoke spilled out from grates in the top and sides of their cargo holds, creating the massive cloud that spewed and scattered all around them. At a simple count, sixty men and women accompanied the convoy. Their physiques, their clothing, their demeanors--these were all inconsistent with each other; no two people looked at all identical. There were no uniforms. If they had not all been moving steadily, deliberately beside these trucks, it would not have been obvious that they were all a part of the same group. But they were, and there were exactly two key points to clue one into this fact. First was the fact that every single person within this group was armed. Some held blunt objects, others had blades. Many of them carried these in addition to various firearms. Second was the single piece of uniformity among them: Their gas masks. It did not take long for the people of Dendemille to realize what was happening. Was it the Signs, risen up again to their previous, terrifying power? Team Flare again, given new life by some means after all this time? Some other group bent on wanton destruction? It did not matter. They were there to harm the populace, and that was what the populace responded to. In record time, they fled, and screams engulfed the streets. The trucks pulled to a stop just inside the boundaries of the town. The passenger-side door of the truck at the very front opened. A man in a white coat stepped out. He peered out from beneath his black bowler hat, examining the fleeing citizens of Dendemille with a morbid air of curious predation. Pitch-black goggles over his eyes combined with the mouth-and-nose gas mask covering the lower half of his face to create a monstrous, emotionless visage that still could not hide the smirk plastered across his face. He slammed the door shut behind him, banging his cane against it twice. The vehicles began moving again, continuing their slow advance through town. "Alright, boys and girls!" Shift yelled, addressing the massive crowd that had gathered around him. "One town down, a dozen more to go!" He raised his hands high above his head. "Have at it!"
  10. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron - Common Room, Vertrag: "I remember Ryan giving us a rundown of some of this before," Sonja said. "At least as far as Warren's identity and what he was doing for Ford." "Then I guess that confirms everything we've pieced together about Ford unknowingly having Wrath under his nose," Kyle said. Absentmindedly, he sorted through the objects that Chloe had produced from her investigation. "Can't say I'm really surprised about him having a sniper rifle if he was one of Ford's specialized assassins or whatever . . ." He picked up a picture frame that Chloe had set upside down, turning it over. "But I can see why finding that would be surpris--" Kyle's voice caught in his throat. Nothing could have blindsided him more than suddenly coming face to face with the man in the photograph. At that very moment, Shift himself could have walked through the elevator doors into Vertrag and he would have found only a pale, speechless statue in Kyle's place, not quite able to process the sheer amount of shock currently paralyzing him. Because, suddenly, it was like he was back on the beach, those many months ago. Assailed by Team Rocket. Uncaring of the skirmish tearing apart the island around him. Focused solely on finding his father, marked as a target by Ford, time ticking away until--there. Pushing him out of the way. Taking the bullet. Flesh rending in a torrent of blood that, by pure luck, he had barely managed to survive. "Kyle?" Shaking, he set the photograph down, pulling his hand back and taking a deep breath to steady his nerves. "Kyle?" Sonja repeated. "Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost or something." "I'm fine," he said. "It just . . . really hit me all of a sudden . . ." His mouth was dry; it was hard to speak. Hard to lie. The strangest thing was, between McKinley and the other in the frame, he had only ever met McKinley. The latter, he had never seen in person--only a hallucination brought on during his last trip here, to Kalos. He did not know then, nor did he know now, how that image, that face, had ever entered his realm of knowledge. And yet, almost by some animalistic instinct, he recognized him. Recognized him, and feared him. Shift had hurt him--irreparably scarred him. But he wasn't the first to have done so. That 'honor' went to Warren. Wrath. He couldn't prove it; it had all been so sudden, and he doubted anyone had seen the face of Ford's assassin that day amidst all the chaos. But deep down, he knew who had been responsible. It was the kind of gut feeling that needed no further proof. As if to confirm it, he saw--or rather, felt--the dark doppelganger buried inside of him smile with recognition. Recognition of the man who had shot him. Whose bullet had crippled him and split his self into two parts. Deep breaths . . . Deep breaths . . . Kyle pulled out the newspaper clippings he had found in McKinley's room. "Ever just . . . have those moments where everything just snaps into perspective?" he said, forcing his voice to remain even. The papers slid out in a loose pile as he set them on the table. "McKinley's family was putting out ads to try to find him after he disappeared to join Ford. Just . . . I don't know." He rested his head in his hand. "Sometimes I forget just how messed up all of this Hojohsin-children stuff is . . ." It wasn't what was actually bothering him, but it was a good enough truth for now. IC - Blackskull - Morgue, The Alamo: "Everyone out, please." "Sir--" "Out. Please." Half a dozen pairs of feet shuffled out of the chamber. With a hiss of compressed air, the door closed behind them, leaving Blackskull and Goldhawk alone once again. It was different now, though, Blackskull could not help but muse. Just as it had been different--a change--when Bluefalcon had died. Back then, he and Goldhawk had mourned her together. Standing beside the calm, restful figure whom they had traveled and fought alongside for years, unable to fully process her passing, they had reminisced on their lives together for a full night, until finally the chains of responsibility had pulled them away. Now Goldhawk was gone, and Blackskull was left to mourn his last remaining friend alone. The three of them had started this journey together, all those years ago. Three friends--siblings, basically--wanting to change the world. Team Rocket had torn her away from them. Then, when Ford attacked, forcing a choice between himself and Goldhawk, he had willingly let himself go to what he had thought would be his death. He had always been prepared to meet it, especially if it meant protecting his friends, his allies, his family. But to find himself the last one left alive . . . He had never given much thought to the possibility. Goldhawk, now he could certainly trust Goldhawk to handle the reins and continue pushing Team Liberty forward. Bluefalcon, though she had plateaued toward the end there, she had been strong, and if push came to shove, she would have handled it with grace. But then, in the face of challenges greater than their comprehension, both had gone and put themselves into hopeless scenarios, and paid the price. Intentionally suicidal? Overestimating their chances? Doing what they thought needed to be done? Blackskull did not know what to think, what they had thought or assumed or planned in the time leading to their final stands. But he was not so sure about his own prospects, not anymore. Not certain of anything, really--his leadership, Team Liberty's chances, the current global situation . . . It was all so beyond him. And he was alone. He approached Goldhawk's body. It was not easy to look at him. Samurloch--Wrath--had done terrible damage to him. Despite their best efforts, the burns had proven too much for him. Even now, his entire body remained covered in terrible blisters that had never quite healed before his passing. It was not a pleasant sight. Ironic, Blackskull bitterly realized, that the Electric-Type Suit had provided enough protection to limit the aesthetic damage from being any worse, considering it was the Suit's power failure that had left him so vulnerable in the first place. "I'm sorry, Marcus," he said, his voice barely remaining steady as he felt the first full wave of realization sweep over him--that this was really Goldhawk, and Goldhawk was well and truly gone. "I should have been there with you . . ." The door opened behind him. Blackskull closed his eyes, letting out an annoyed breath. "I asked you all to leave," he said. "Twice." The footsteps stopped several feet behind him. "I apologize, Kane--I just arrived. I'll go if you want some time alone with him." Blackskull turned to look at her, flashing her an expression of pure fatigue. "No, Selene, that's alright." He looked back at Goldhawk. "You haven't had a chance to see him yet, have you?" "Unfortunately not," Silvermind said. She stepped forward, coming to a stop beside the senior leader. "It's horrible, what happened to him. I'm sorry there wasn't more we could do." Blackskull said nothing. She looked away from him and back to Goldhawk. "I've been informed that his last moments were peaceful. Painless. I suppose there's not much more we can ask for." Blackskull nodded. "I am thankful for that." They stood in silence for several moments. "The three of us grew up together, you know. Marcus, Shannon, and I." Silvermind glanced at him. "Never thought we'd end up leading one half of a war . . . Of course, once Team Rocket took over . . . I had the resources, they had the vision and the drive. Crazy, how drastically things can change. I guess it's selfish to say so, but . . . I wish things had been different." "Both gave their lives fighting an enemy they thought was worth fighting," Silvermind said. "I would say they served honorably." "Some would say it was a waste," Blackskull said. "If this war had not happened, they might still be alive. Them, and a whole lot of other people." He shook his head. "But that can't change now, so I suppose there's no point in regretting our decisions." "Indeed . . ." Silvermind stared straight ahead. "We play the cards we are given." Silence fell again. "Without intruding too much on the peace . . ." Silvermind said, slowly and carefully. "We've retrieved diagnostics on the Electric-Type Suit for use in planning future operations." "I don't think we can risk the Suits again, Silvermind," Blackskull said. "Not after such a catastrophic accident." Silvermind shifted. "That's just it, though, sir . . ." she said. "It was not an accident." He gave her a look, raising an eyebrow. She took a deep breath. "The Electric-Type Suit was sabotaged. We could not confirm it at first, but after running diagnostics on all of the Suits . . . We've been able to gather a clearer picture of what occurred. Not just of what happened to Goldhawk, either." She pulled something out of her coat and held it out to Blackskull. It was a manila folder, carefully prepared and sealed. "Due to the nature of the suspected culprit's primary skill set, we've had to be careful about how we share and compile our information. We have even placed the remaining Power Suits under total lock down to ensure our evidence remains untouched. But if you have a moment, I believe you would be very interested in what we've discovered." Blackskull shifted his gaze between the folder and Silvermind's face. "You think this person is responsible for Marcus's death?" She nodded. "That, and more, sir." He fixed her with a steely glare. "Show me."
  11. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron - Common Room, Vertrag: For some time, neither Kyle nor Sonja answered. "Well, Feral came from Evan, right?" Sonja said at last. "So it stands to reason that 'Kane' came from Seth. Wouldn't surprise me if Klim had a doppelganger out there somewhere, as well, if that's the case. As for Seth or Van or whoever he is now--the simplest answer would be that he didn't die after all." "Palkia brought Evan back," Kyle said, nodding. "Dialga could've done the same to Seth." He rubbed his chin, thinking back to the battle at Sinjoh Ruins. Given the situation, everything from that point was more or less a blur--a byproduct of the stress at the time, and the fact that it wasn't a memory Kyle had revisited particularly often. But there were a couple of facts that they had pieced together, and things that were well-known among the group of trainers that had gone to combat the Ancient Darkrai. "Now that I think about it, everyone--and I mean everyone, including Evan and Klim--got knocked out before Seth took out Sombra. Unless I'm remembering wrong, no one could really have confirmed that he died--he, Sombra, and the other Ancients Sombra had fused with were just gone. So . . ." "He might be alive," Sonja said. "Amnesiac, maybe, if he hasn't made any effort to contact Team Liberty or Evan or anyone, but alive." Neither really knew what to make of that. "We should tell Evan next time we see him," Kyle said. "He might have a better idea of what to do with that information than we do. Might even know a way to track 'Van' down, if he is Seth." Sonja nodded, then directed her attention to Chloe. "You said you found some things, too, right? Anything to top that?"
  12. IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron - Common Room, Vertrag: "They move fast," Kyle said as he and the others realized Ryan and Ray had already departed. "Yeah, actually, though--I found something kind of weird." He fiddled with his Pokétch, swiping through screens in search of something. "Too bad Ray and Ryan already left, though--kind of pertains to them . . . Here. Look familiar to you guys?" The image he showed them appeared to be a sort of stone carving, depicting three very detailed figures--clear enough that one might have mistaken them for photographs. In the center was a Darkrai. To the left and right, a man--identical in facial structure, but different in tone. The effect was uncanny. As Sonja stared at them, she felt a strange sense of familiarity. She glanced up from the photo, looking between it and Kyle. "New age artwork?" she asked, opening her bag and rifling through it for the Grimoire. "Maybe! Guess where I found it." "I guess Vertrag." "Yeah--in one of the three 'Fifth Child' rooms," Kyle answered. "Van Harrison's. But that's not the name we're familiar with. Which has me asking why his room was in the shape of the Sinjoh Ruins, especially if he just happens to have a carving of a Darkrai on his floor." He pointed to the man on the right. "As for the name--remember that guy in Unova? The crazy one who tried to take over Opelucid--Kane or whatever? That's him, right?" Recognition dawned on Sonja's face. He shifted his finger over to the man on the left. "And then this one--either I'm crazy, or that's Seth Vicens. Why would some guy have a picture of Seth, a Darkrai, and a doppelganger of Seth?" "Huh . . ." Sonja was not sure how to respond. Carefully, silently, she pulled the Grimoire from her bag and set it down in front of her. "That is strange . . . I never even saw Seth or anyone like him around when I was here . . ." A troubled frown crossed her lips. "I thought he died against the Darkrai?" IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Koziel/Infernape, Andreev/Golurk, Darrow/Durant, Hull/Pinsir, Perrault/Kabutops) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto: --Sinystal x1; Venophage x1; Phantashade x1; Drivedie x1; Terminite x2; Spyfly x2; Harpreak x3; Fraygrins x4; Maniakoll x4; Meadiant x4-- As they drew closer to the clearing, the Instances began to widen their approach, spreading out in a loose line through the trees. The first ones approached. It was not a ground attack as expected, but rather an aerial assault that began the skirmish. Andreev's Golurk turned its attention upward as the three Harpreak suddenly dived from their heavenly circle, loosing a loud, horrid screech that echoed throughout the valley. With Darrow maintaining sight on the treeline, Andreev raised her weapon toward the Flying-Types, training it on the lowest-flying. She did not pull the trigger, instead pressing herself tight against the jeep as a blade of wind rushed down from above, slicing a thick gash into the grass at her feet. Two more followed suit, each just barely missing and one cleaving the side mirror off of the vehicle. The Harpreak dived low, adjusting their flight vectors and swooping away from Andreev. Two did, anyway. The third swooped past, only to find itself stuck in place as Golurk's thick fist closed around its feet, squeezing. It shrieked as the bones in its legs crushed under the pressure, completely shattering them. It flapped its wings wildly, trying to break free. As it summoned a Gust of wind, preparing to lash out at its captor, Golurk brought its other hand forward, gripping the Harpreak's head in its palm and squeezing until it burst into a shower of red goo. With the Instance limp in its grip, the Automaton Pokémon spun around, hurling the lifeless body of its adversary into the trees. Two of the Maniakoll peeled off from their approach, descending on the body in its hidden landing place; the sounds of tearing flesh made it all too obvious what they were doing. Andreev shook her head, returning her attention to the treeline; she trusted Golurk to keep an eye on the remaining Harpreak if they attacked again. As she settled into position, the first of the land-bound Instances broke through--both Terminite, scuttling several meters ahead of their fellows. The Bug-Types made a beeline for the jeep, where Andreev, Darrow, and Darrow's Durant waited. "Fire!" Andreev and Darrow opened fire--she with her rifle, he with the turret. In seconds, dozens of bullets had raked the shells of the two Bug-Type Instances. To Andreev's horror and frustration, she realized that they were not doing anything. While the force of the turret trained on one managed to force it to a crawl, they had yet to actually pierce either of the Terminites' carapaces. And the one on the right was fast approaching. Durant rushed forward to meet it, the large Iron Ant Pokémon barreling into it and managing to catch the Terminite's front pincers in his own jaws. The Bug-Type hissed, kicking forward with its forelegs and raking Durant's own, much-tougher carapace with whatever it could throw at it--Fury Attack, Powder, various webbing attacks, and so on. Durant withstood the assault, managing to push back and hold it in place even as its speed lowered, and a thick, volatile powder settled on his form. At some point, the Terminite's carapace opened, deploying a set of large, silvery wings. As it fluttered rapidly, trying to take flight, Durant pulled, grounding it. A crystalline object landed nearby, exploding into a cloud of hot, reddish powder. "Durant!" Darrow yelled, pulling his attention away from the projectile. "Flip that thing over and fall back!" With an affirmative hiss of its own, Durant twisted his neck. The Terminite was heavy, but Durant had natural strength on his side. With a heave, the Iron Ant Pokémon forced his opponent first onto its side, and then onto its back. The Terminite struggled to regain its footing, rolling helplessly around on its round shell. By the time it had managed to start flipping itself over, however, Durant had pulled back, and Darrow had adjusted the turret. With the Terminite's soft underbelly exposed, its soon found itself terminated, rent apart by a hail of high-velocity bullets that liquidized its innards. That attack, however, meant that the second Terminite was free now. "Target down!" Darrow called. "Durant, time for round two!" A second crystal landed, closer this time. It exploded into another red cloud. "Golurk, adjust position!" Andreev called. "Don't let any of those things land near us! Darrow, line of sight on the treeline--I'll get this one!" They repeated the process from before. As Durant rushed forward again, it just barely managed to catch the Terminite post-attack. Darrow swore as the loose Pin Missile cut a hole through the driver-side door. With a bit of effort, the second Terminite flipped onto its back. Andreev took aim, planting a dozen shots into its undercarriage until it fell still. "Target eliminated!" she yelled. "Ritter, how's that comm coming?" Whatever the response was, she did not hear it over the crashing of dozens of leaves and branches as the four Fraygrins erupted from the ground in front of them. Further into the clearing, Ritter slapped a hand against the radio. He growled, looking up toward the outskirts of the field, all too aware of the sweat running down his brow. "Not good," he responded. "Says it's transmitting, but I'm not hearing anything." "Get it fixed!" Koziel called. "This is just the front-load--they're closing in for the real fight now!" "I'm trying!" Ritter adjusted the controls again, speaking into the transmitter. "Chapel, this is Communications Officer Ritter of Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure. We are under attack by Missing Zero at provided coordinates. Repeat: Missing Zero is present on Mt. Silver! Requesting reinforcements. Please respond!" No indication the message had gone through like there normally would be. The radio didn't even crackle with dead static. Had Missing Zero spread to Chapel in the time they had been away, completely consumed it? No; that was impossible. The radio registered as functioning, so why was it not working? Ritter slowly lifted his head as he recognized a buzzing sound beyond the gunfire around him. The flies. The two strange, microphone-like Instances had moved from their perch in the trees. They flitted about in the air just beyond the cliff, emitting a strange sound from their even stranger heads. With each movement, they made sure to keep their bodies facing forward, toward the clearing--toward Ritter. When had they moved? He looked between them and the radio, wondering . . . "Ritter!" Koziel yelled. "We've got contact!" The communications officer jerked his head around. The Phantashade had drifted out from the shadows, gliding almost lazily along the grass toward his and Koziel's position. Her Infernape and his Lopunny glared at the intruder, uncertain of how to proceed against the Ghost-Type. Behind it, one of the larger Instances trudged along, dragging its tree trunk club along the ground. Teeth grinding, Ritter grabbed his rifle and ran to join Koziel, sliding to a stop next to her and taking aim. "Lopunny, try to keep the larger Instance distracted," he ordered. "Koziel, Infernape, prioritize the Ghost-Type for now." "Don't gotta tell me twice," Koziel responded. With a whistle, Infernape rushed forward. The Ghost-Type slowed, raising its arms as if to defend itself from the Flame Pokémon. As the Infernape took a swing, however, it merely phased through the monkey's attack. Ritter imagined that if it could grin, it would have then and there. With a dismissive wave of its hand, the Phantashade sent Infernape flying back with a Shadow Ball attack straight in the chest. The Fire-Type slid along the ground, rolling to a stop just in front of her trainer. Gingerly, she pushed herself up, glaring at her assailant. "Pokémon powers would be really helpful right about now . . ." Koziel muttered. Ritter didn't have any words to express his agreement. The Harpreak made a grave miscalculation in their flight trajectory. As they swooped away from Andreev and Darrow, they made a swing through the airspace of Perrault and Hull. It was fortunate that Perrault was paired with Hull. The team's driver had spotted the approach trajectory, and they had correctly predicted where the Harpreak would circle around to regain air. Golurk taking one of the Flying-Types out of the picture was fortunate--less work for the other group. As the Harpreak swung through, Perrault's Kabutops sprung up from his hiding place in the grass, cleaving his arm blades through the shoulders of one Instance. The other found itself caught in a similar trap just behind, as Hull's Pinsir lurched from below with horns strong enough to tear her target in half. Both Instances--one devoid of wings, the other bisected at the waist--came to a crashing halt in the grass. With a call from Hull, they and Perrault rushed forward, each taking a target and loosing a burst of shots point-blank into the Flying-Type Instance's skulls. "That worked?" Perrault said, his voice shaking. He wiped away the blood-like substance that had splattered across his visor. "I-I can't believe that worked!" "Focus up, Perrault," Hull said. They checked their magazine, quickly moving back to reform the perimeter. "This isn't done yet. Not even close." "R-Right," the other scout said. He moved to join Hull. "What've we got left?" "Whatever comes out this way," Hull said. "Stay on guard." Perrault nodded. To their left, Andreev and Darrow combated their own Instances; further down the line, Koziel and Ritter engaged even more. He found it difficult not to watch, particularly since their specific section seemed so . . . quiet. Even now, he saw first one Terminite, then the second crush under Andreev and Darrow's combined attacks, saw the sudden arrival of several Fraygrins from just in front of them-- "Targets incoming! Perrault, focus!" He whipped around, raising his weapon toward the treeline. Four humanoid figures zipped and swirled out from the trees like twisted, grinning corpses, moving in a sort of conglomerate--almost a moving portrait of twisting figures. Three were pure white in color, the other a deep black. They seemed to dance through the air as they approached, untouched by gravity, challenging the living to oppose them. Pinsir and Kabutops glared them down, both glowering with an intensity that could have burned a hole straight through their opponents. "W-What do we do, Hull?" The other scout did not response, simply eyeing the Instances with clear suspicion. "Something's not right . . ." "They're Instances, nothing is right with them." "No," Hull snapped. They primed their rifle, taking a step back. "Perrault, fall back. Now." "But--" "Now!" The order came a split-second too late. Just as Perrault complied, the group of Maniakoll split apart into four separate directions, and a purple creature lunged forward. Its bulbous, spherical body glinted a venomous hue in the light as it moved, almost too quickly to see, covering the distance between them all in seconds. Kabutops swung, missing its thin, stick-like legs by mere inches as it jabbed its three-pronged tail toward Perrault's abdomen.
  13. IC - Sonja Baron/Kyle Eston - Common Room, Vertrag: "I didn't say 'let's give up,' I said I have no other ideas," Kyle pointed out. "Very different intentions, Ryan." Sonja would not have blamed him if he was actually annoyed by the word choice--particularly given the effort it had taken him to go to the windmill, let alone the warehouse--but luckily, Kyle seemed to be joking. As for Ryan's suggestion--admittedly, looking at the Grimoire themselves wasn't something that had ever crossed her mind. Still . . . "I'm not sure opening it ourselves is a great idea," she said, slowly. "I don't know, though . . . I guess we could give it a try." She couldn't place exactly why the thought of opening the book frightened her. Perhaps it had to do with the effects it had had when they first found it--the raw power emanating from it, threatening to suffocate them. Maybe it was the sensation it gave off of being almost-sentient. Or perhaps it was purely fear of the possibility that they might uncover something even more horrifying within it than even Ford had. After all, he had never gone into detail about what exactly was contained within. If he--or the 'Gethin Pollux' individual he had mentioned--had discovered Missing Zero through the Grimoire, what other creatures might the book have uncovered since then? With a shake of her head, she looked back at Ryan. "If you're going to the Pokémon Center, would you mind taking Beira with you? She was pretty hurt when I found her, and if she's also a former Signs captive, it might be good for her to get a more thorough exam."
  14. IC - Sonja Baron/Kyle Eston/Emmerich Coleman - Common Room, Vertrag: There was not much to say as the team regrouped, aside from initial reports that they had found nothing of note in the warehouse. They left it at that as they returned to Dendemille Town, slipping back into the base and away from prying eyes. The Jirachi projection awaited them inside. As they settled into the main space, something about its posture seemed expectant, though if it was waiting for something specific, no one could tell what. It raised a hand in greeting. Welcome back. Did all go well? "Insofar as we did not run into any trouble," Emmerich said. "As for leads . . . Not so fortunate." That is a shame. "Well, at least we all got something out of it," Sonja said, holding up the Poké Ball containing her newly-acquired Amaura. She smiled apologetically at Emmerich. "Most of us, anyway. Seems like they left a lot of Pokémon behind." "Yes; it's just unfortunate that we weren't looking for Pokémon," Emmerich said. He looked back at Vertrag. "I did get a sample of this 'fear' compound we've heard so much about. Ryan suggested you could try analyzing it?" Certainly. The Jirachi shimmered, reappearing by the door to the command center. Please follow me. Kyle watched Emmerich and Vertrag as they headed through. After a moment, he sighed. "Anyone have ideas of what to do next? I've got nothing."
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