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Pokémon: Rise Of The Rockets


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IC: Jared Winters/Lachina Adaon/Emily Lockwood/Calem - Geosenge Town, Kalos, August 11th


The training was winding down, everyone having gotten plenty of practice -- Jared had even busted out a couple of targets for people to practice punching and kicking -- when the silver-haired aura wielder paused and looked off in the distance. Geosenge was a small town, and the lab they were to be investigating was in line of sight of their cottage, though it was at the edge of town.


Lachina raised an eyebrow. "Jared? What's up?"


"Someone go wake up Lionel and Elaine," he replied. "I just saw four human auras go into the lab."


There was a flurry of activity, but Emily finally hurried inside to wake up the scientists. Jared took a deep breath. "Zoe," he said sternly. "Stay here. You're doing great with the punches, but you don't have the speed and power yet to really put up a fight. The rest of you, let's go." He took off.


Calem glanced at Serena and shrugged before following the younger man. While looking into Flare was technically the purview of Kalos League officials, having allies would be beneficial. Quickly, the group headed to the Geosenge Lab.


IC: Flint Conley - Lazy Pidgey Cafe


"Please, don't hesitate to call for any reason. I wouldn't mind if you called just to talk sometimes." Flint entered his number quickly into the ancient device. "I don't get much casual conversation these days."


IC: Sylph - Alamo, Four Island, August


Quietly she made her way through the corridors, the drive tucked safely in Xander's backpack. More odd looks at a Gardevoir wearing a backpack, but she didn't care about odd looks these days. She carefully wound through the twisting corridors until she found herself outside of a door with a nameplate bearing Richie Eston's name on it.


If she had timed this right, he would be out to lunch. She took a deep breath, focused on the image she had gotten from Xander's mind, and teleported. She appeared inside the Executive's office, deserted as she had thought. Quietly she opened the drawer the drive had been inside -- and the door to the adjoining bedroom opened.


Executive Eston stepped out and paused upon seeing her.


"Hello, Executive," she said quietly, straightening and closing the drawer.


"Hello. Sylph, was it? What exactly are you doing in my office?"


"Oh, I found some property of yours and was just returning it for you."


"Ah, yes, that property I misplaced. In the future, you may knock on my door and give it to me directly."


Sylph nodded. "Yes, Executive."


"Is there anything else I can do for you, Sylph?"


"No, no, that will be all, thank you." Sylph teleported again, appearing back in Miss Zarth's quarters, her heart racing. That hadn't gone at all how she'd hoped.

Edited by MELON LORD

"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: Zoe Llyan - Geosenge Town, Kalos

And just like that, everyone else was gone. Normally Zoe would have loved having an entire cottage-slash-mansion to herself. She could have continued throwing punches to perfect the role of both warrior and princess. But hadn't Dahlia just told her that she had a power all her own? She was an integral part of the group, and she would not allow herself to just be left behind like that.


She could have argued the matter with Jared, but he could be scary sometimes -- especially whenever there were Frogadier involved. So instead, Zoe waited until everyone else had left the cottage. Then, with the quiet stealth of a Greninja (or so she imagined) she followed their tracks, Esmeralda's Pokéball gripped firmly in her hand. They had come here to Kalos to take down Team Flare, and she wasn't about to miss out on the big epic battle.


IC: Dahlia Seaton - Outside Geosenge Lab

"Maybe we shouldn't have trained so hard . . ." Dahlia struggled to keep up with the rest of the group as she followed them to the outskirts of town. Nutmeg and Coco followed closely at her heels, each voicing their support. The gardener smiled as she panted. "Hopefully this won't turn into another huge battle," she muttered. "But even if it does, I'm sure Jared and Colleen can handle things with their aura powers . . ."

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: Jamie Arthur - Geosenge Town


It was the first time Jamie had the opportunity to join in one of these group training sessions. Pelleas was out beside her, correcting her form as she repeated punch after punch. While learning how to punch intrigued her, something distracted Jamie the entire duration of the training. She kept turning back to Dahlia doing her practice. She not only mastered sharing her power with someone else, but she made major progress in reverse mixing things.


Dahlia was so cool.


When Jared called them to action however, she snapped out of watching Dahlia train, and turned towards Pelleas. The Heracross nodded and placed himself in front of Jamie, as the two ran to join their friends.


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IC - Kyle Eston/Sonja Baron - Outside Signs Warehouse, Kalos:


"Been a while. Think they ran into trouble?"


"It hasn't been that long," Kyle said, shaking his head. "And Chloe would've called us if they found anything dangerous. Really doubt there's anything in there, anyway."


That was the longest response Sonja had managed to get out of Kyle in the past however-long they had been waiting. All of her other attempts at talking to him had, at most, gotten a brief "Yeah" or "No," and even those were few and far between. Putting distance between themselves and the warehouse, it seemed, had helped, as had releasing more of their Pokémon to help keep an eye on the surrounding mountain and forest. While Kyle and Sonja sat on the grass, leaning back against Vailian the Onix, some yards away from the entry gate, Ares, Jaeda, Loki, Kitheus, Gaia, Neptune, Ruj, and Daiga patrolled around the field in pairs. If there was any sort of danger, or any ambush waiting to activate, they would--at the very least--offer some amount of deterrent.


"Right," she said. They sat in silence for a moment. "Do you want to talk about what happened in there?" She watched as Kyle sighed, pulling his knees close to his chest and looking elsewhere. "Kyle?"


"I already told you guys what happened," he said. "There's nothing else to say about it."


Sonja frowned. "Maybe not about what happened," she said, carefully. "But . . . are you sure that that's everything?"


She studied his face closely. From the angle they were both sitting, it was a bit of an effort. But there was something there.


He took a breath, swallowing. "I . . ."


Whatever he was about to say was interrupted as Ruj swooped in front of the pair, uttering a call. The Gliscor pointed towards the back of the complex, gesturing for Kyle and Sonja to follow. With an uncertain look at each other, they pushed themselves to their feet and hurried after the Fang Scorpion Pokémon.



The cause for alert was twofold; currently, Daiga attended to one of the note, while Ruj--evidently--had attended to the other. The latter was where the Gliscor first directed Kyle and Sonja's attention, and it was clear from a glance why he had done so. Though the warehouse had been abandoned (and cleared out any of the Signs belongings, though they could not currently know this), there appeared to have been exactly one piece of equipment that had been left behind in the frenzy to empty out the place. This was a bear trap-like contraption near the backside of the fence that, at present, held the back-left foot of a blue, long-necked Pokémon. It whined out in pain and distress at its predicament, appearing even more unsettled at the sight of Kyle and Sonja rounding the corner.


The second was, likewise, a Pokémon, but this one appeared less to be trapped and more to be merely frightened. It was a small, four-legged thing topped with a jagged spike; at a glance, one might have assumed that it was simply a living block of ice. Daiga watched it carefully, hands raised as he attempted to calm it down. The pile of snow around it, as well as the marks on the snowy cliff above, indicated that it might have fallen accidentally--particularly since it was currently stuck, spike-first, into the ground, its little, nubby legs flailing helplessly above it.


After assessing the situation, both Liberty Agents visibly relaxed. Injured Pokémon were not idea, but at least they were not under attack--at least, not yet.


"I'll help the one by the fence," Sonja said. "Ruj, I might need to direct you on how to help me. Is that okay?" The Gliscor made a noise like a hiss; if it weren't for his cheerful expression, she might not have realized it was an affirmative. She looked at Kyle. "You okay helping the other one?"


"Yeah, shouldn't be an issue," Kyle said. He looked past her, at the bear trap. "I'll be right over if you can't get that thing open." He headed toward Daiga.



"Let's see what we've got . . ."


The long-necked Pokémon whined as Sonja approached. It appeared to be caught between gratitude that someone was there to assist it, and apprehension that a human was coming anywhere near it. It appeared to pay no mind to Ruj as he landed beside it. Sonja recognized the look of conflict within a few feet and slowed to a halt, stooping down and holding her hands up.


"Hey," she said, as gently as she could. "It's okay--I'm just here to help you. Would you like my help?"


The Pokémon still appeared uncertain. It looked to Ruj for reassurance; Sonja guessed that the two had communicated before the Gliscor had come to find them. Ruj nodded in reassurance, and the Pokémon relaxed somewhat, gingerly lifting its trapped foot. Sonja smiled at it and shifted a little closer to get a better look.


It wasn't a pretty sight. The device was certainly a clamp--not quite as barbaric as a standard bear trap, but it had still broken skin and scale, drawing blood. Luckily, the Pokémon's leg did not appear to be broken, so the injury was not as serious as it could have been. It would need to be treated at a Pokémon Center, however, or at one of the healing machines back in Vertrag. 


That was secondary to the more pressing fact that she would need to free it before anything else.


An initial look-over indicated that there was no obvious release mechanism. That was to be expected--not that it made it any easier to figure out how to open it. Judging from the size of it, however, it didn't appear to be meant for any particularly large Pokémon; if anything, it seemed more meant to catch some persistent pest, which--given the three-foot hole in the fence--made sense. They likely had had more of these set up along the perimeter of the fence in the hopes of catching something, and simply missed this one in their clean-up efforts. All of which meant that, with the assistance of a suitably strong Pokémon, they could likely force it open.


"Ruj?" she said. "Can you fetch Loki for me?"


The Gliscor nodded, taking off in search of the Conkeldurr. Not long after, they returned, and after explaining the situation to him, Loki set to work. As she had guessed, it did not take long for the Fighting-Type to break open the trap. His rubbery fingers slipped between the two halves of the clamp, and with barely any effort, he had snapped the thing open. The blue Pokémon hopped out, cooing happily before setting its foot down, at which point it whined in pain again.


"Careful," Sonja said. "It's not as bad as it could have been, but you'll still need some professional healing before you'll be good to go." She looked around, frowning. "I doubt there's anything inside we could use . . ." Carefully, she pulled a Poké Ball from her bag. "I can keep you safe until we get back to town, if that's okay? And then if you want to leave after that, you'll be free to go."


The Pokémon stared at the Poké Ball, then looked back at its foot. It seemed to realize that it did not have a lot of options. Gingerly, it hobbled over, poking the ball with its nose. A red light enveloped it, pulling it inside. It only shook once before confirming the capture was successful. Sonja sighed as she placed the Pokémon in stasis. She scanned the Poké Ball with her Pokétch, reading its stats.


"Well, welcome aboard for right now, Amaura," she said. "We'll get you patched up soon."



Kyle's situation was not nearly as complicated: The Pokémon--a Bergmite, he discovered from a quick search--was stuck spike-first in the ground. The solution to the situation was simple: He and Daiga could pull it free. Daiga alone could probably do it without much hassle.


The issue was that it would not. Stop. Struggling.


"Hey--if you calm down, we can help you."


This seemed to make the Bergmite kick its feet even harder and faster, until its four little nubs were blurs in the air. Kyle exchanged an exasperated look with Daiga; the Sandslash stepped forward, offered a paw and some gentle words. The Bergmite did not take heed, simply shaking its head as much as it could manage given its current predicament.


With a sigh, Kyle sat back on the grass. "Alright," he said. "I guess we'll just wait this out, then." He opened the page on his Pokétch again. "Bergmite aren't solitary Pokémon. Did you get separated from your pack when you fell, or did that happen before then?"


The Ice-Type slowed down, blinking at Kyle. He tilted his head at the Bergmite. Now that he could look closer, he noted that its body was skinnier than those in the manual. 


"You've been separated for a while," he guessed. "Is that right?" The Bergmite offered him only a disheartened look in return. "I'm sorry to hear that . . ." He looked back at the Signs warehouse, and then up at the mountain. "They didn't happen to have something to do with it, did they? Wouldn't surprise me if they were messing around with the Pokémon around here, too. Makes more sense than doing so over in Dendemille, actually . . ." The Bergmite stared at him. "Do you know who I'm talking about?" It nodded. "So you've met them?" Another nod. "Well . . . If you're worried about me being with them, you can believe me when I say that I'm not."


The Bergmite stared at him for a while. Finally, its body relaxed, going completely limp. Kyle raised an eyebrow, glancing at Daiga before standing up. The Ice-Type watched him carefully as he and the Sandslash moved to either side of it, Kyle gripping the ice spike and Daiga using his claws to dig up the ground around it. Finally, Kyle lifted the small Pokémon, carefully flipping it over and placing it gently on the ground. It looked up at him in surprise as he stepped back, as if it had expected him to attack it.


"There you go," he said. "I'm glad you trusted us to help you." Kyle waved at the Pokémon, gesturing for Daiga to follow. "Come on--let's find Sonja."


As they headed away, the Bergmite stared after them. Hesitantly, it glanced up at the cliff, and then turned its attention back to the Liberty Agent and the Ground-Type. With a frantic whistle, it scuttled after them, managing to catch up to Kyle. For a moment, it just hopped on the ground in front of him, but then it ran forward and gently nuzzled his shoe.


Kyle got the message. "Alright; sure." He stooped down, pulling a ball from his bag and holding it out with a smile. "I've always got room on my team." The Bergmite jumped up, clearly pleased with the outcome, and headbutted the ball. In seconds, it had settled into its new home.







Species: Amaura.

Nickname: Beira.

Trainer: Sonja Baron.

Appearance: Beira's eyes and sails appear to shift in color from different angles.

Personality: Confident and adamant, Beira is a beauty and she knows it. She spends much of her time showing off her colorful scales, oftentimes distracting even herself--and her opponents--in battle. She has a bit of a difficult time following orders.

Ability: Refrigerate.

Specialty: Beira's top strength is her ability to distract opponents. Ironically, despite her lack of ability to work well with others, this often means she is a valuable ally in battle.

Known Moves: Thunder Wave, Attract , Aurora Beam, Hail, Take Down, Light Screen.

EXP: 0




Species: Bergmite.

Nickname: Braig.

Trainer: Kyle Eston.

Appearance: Braig's white body is covered in many blue spots.

Personality: An incredibly shy and quiet Pokémon. Braig is wary of outsiders ever since he was split from his pack by the Signs activity in their territory. Though he escaped capture, and therefore abuse, he is not the best suited to solitary endeavors; as such, it is something of a surprise that he has managed to survive on his own for the past several weeks.

Ability: Ice Body.

Specialty: Braig's main strengths lie in his defenses. Unlike other Bergmite/Avalugg, he is equally resilient with both Special and Physical defense.

Known Moves: Tackle, Harden, Rapid Spin, Powder Snow, Bite, Mirror Coat (EM)

EXP: 0




IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter, Andreev, Hull, Darrow, Perrault, Koziel) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto:


"Perimeter Unit Silent Horizon, this is Communications Officer Ritter of Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure. Do you copy?"


The radio returned static amidst the hum and tumble of the jeep. Ritter switched channels, pressing down on the comm switch.


"Chapel, this is Communications Officer Ritter of Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure. Still no response from Silent Horizon. We are nearing their last known point of contact at this time; will contact again with findings. Over."


"Affirmative, Hollow Treasure. Keep us posted. Over."


Ritter clipped the receiver back onto the transmitter and brought his hand to his chin. He turned his gaze to the window, pretending not to notice the uncomfortable looks he was getting from the rest of the unit seated with him. Mt. Silver was a known high-risk locale; that was why they had so many patrols scheduled to sweep through the area. But never in the last ten years had anything actually happened to a perimeter unit during a sweep. That was why it was so troubling when, only a few hours ago, Chapel had received a brief, but frantic distress call from Silent Horizon, who had fallen quiet and failed to return any calls since then. If nothing had happened when the many, many wild Pokémon in the area had possessed their powers, what could have harmed them now, while they were weakened?


To the three lower-ranking members of the squad sitting with him in the jeep's main compartment, the anticipation was sickening more than anything. Koziel fidgeted with her lighter, flipping it open and closed, casting an orange glow upon them at regular intervals. Perrault rocked his foot against the floor sporadically. Darrow seemed the most calm, but even he was busy flipping rapidly through pages on information on the kinds of Pokémon inhabiting the mountain, desperately searching for some idea of what they might expect. Up in the front, Hull focused on navigating the jeep through the rocky mountain pass, while Andreev--their leader-- scanned ahead with a pair of binoculars, searching for any heat signatures.


If any of them had any guesses about what had happened, they weren't voicing them. Try as he might, Ritter himself could not get the idea out of his head that this was not simply the work of some particularly powerful Pokémon--not after hearing reports about the incidents in the Sevii Islands.

Mt. Silver loomed up ahead, and not too far around the northern side, they would locate the last transmission site from Silent Horizon. What they would find there was anyone's guess.

Edited by Parugi

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


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IC: Zoe Nyan - Geosenge Town, Kalos
OOC: April Fools from me and Peanut! Real post coming later.


IC: Jayron Aaron/Dack Majors/Madison Morrow/Luke/Adam Shaw - Shamouti Island, Orange Archipelago

The boat ride from The Alamo to the Orange Islands went about as well as anyone would have expected. Dack spent the majority of his time holed up in his assigned cabin, only coming out for meals and the occasional meeting Jayron forced him into. The Rocket agent refused to even acknowledge Adam's presence, and any time the two of them were in the same room the atmosphere immediately turned icy.


If Jayron hadn't gone through so much trouble to get this mission approved, he would have turned the boat around by now. As it was, he had to trust that Dack's promise to Ryan Sanders and Adam's loyalty to Team Liberty superseded any grudge the two held against each other. The executive spent his days poring over maps of the Orange Islands and what few sightings Team Liberty had on file that could hint to Ruby's or the Sanders' whereabouts. It reminded him of the start of a game of Battleship, where he could only blindly guess at where either party lay. The lack of present knowledge was excruciating, and the bitter feelings among his crewmates only made things worse. By the time the captain announced their arrival on Shamouti, Jayron was glad to be off the ship.


Madison and Luke had been forced to act as liaisons between Dack and the rest of the group. While they didn't harbor quite the same vendetta as Dack, both of them felt uncomfortable around Adam. The journey to the Orange Islands stretched on for weeks before Jayron informed them they would be docking at Shamouti Island.


"About time we got off that ship," Dack muttered as he raised an arm against the bright sunlight.


"Yeah, any longer and you would've turned into a vampire!" Luke gave his friend a playful nudge before racing down the pier. "Can you imagine if we'd had a big battle in the middle of the ocean or something? With you playing Mr. Shut-In it would've been up to Maddie and me to save the day."


"Just be glad we didn't run into anything," Madison said with a serious look on her face. "Don't forget, the Missing Zero traveled underwater to get from Two Island to One Island. We're lucky we didn't encounter it on our way here."


"Yeah, why couldn't we take some of those power suits with us?" Adam scowled as he squinted against the sun. "Would've been mighty useful the way things are now."


"The suits are undergoing repairs and testing," Jayron said with a belabored sigh. "After what happened with Goldhawk I imagine they'll want to give all the suits a thorough review."


The Liberty agent gave him a pointed look. "And what did happen with Goldhawk?" he asked in a low voice. "You were there, weren't you, Executive?"


Jayron looked away. "That's true, but the details of Goldhawk's death are not relevant to our current mission. Speaking of which . . ." He cleared his throat. "A large dragon resembling a Hydreigon was reportedly seen flying over this island not long after Ruby went missing. We need to talk to the townspeople and gather any additional evidence we can. Understood?"


"So we're splitting up?" Dack asked.


"We'll travel in two groups," Jayron said, casting a wary eye over the party. "Dack, you're with me. Adam, Madison, and Luke will search the opposite side of town. We'll meet up near the town square."


"Separating the problem children." Luke glanced between Adam and Dack. "Good call."

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: Serena/Emily Lockwood


“Hey Em!” Serena called as Emily searched the cabin, “Remind me again who we’re looking for?”


“Lionel Zyther and my aunt Elaine Alderson. Scientists. Lionel owns a ton of labs that Flare used to operate..” Emily groaned, rubbing at her forehead. “Cripe, they said they were going to be pulling an all-nighter at one of them.”


“Alderson… where have I heard that name before?”


“She’s one of the leading experts in Pokémon habitats and behaviors; even Professor Sycamore doesn’t know as much about wild Pokémon habits as she does. She’s pioneering research into healing powers like Heal Pulse and Wish, with the hope of developing technology that can do similar things.” Emily smiled. “She’s pretty darn awesome. Oh, she also used to help at the fossil lab, too, but she switched career paths after the whole Flare incident.”


“Oh!” Serena blinked as two conflicting faces flashed through her mind. “I think I remember now. She helped me revive my Amaura from a Fossil. She was so sweet, why did she leave?” The Champion frowned for a moment. “Oh, I hope Flare didn’t give her trouble just for helping me and Calem…”


Emily shook her head, sighing. “Team Flare didn’t bother her, really, but . . . Well, let’s just say some people she was really close to turned out to be working with Team Flare. They were in the lab when it collapsed. She lost almost everything she had to Flare. Afterwards, the people at the lab would give her the side-eye and whisper behind her back. Team Flare stole fossils from the nearby cave, and the people at the lab thought she might have helped.”


“That’s ridiculous!” Serena declared. “She’s the one who asked us to stop them!”


“I know that, and you know that, but it didn’t change their opinions. That, coupled with her wanting to ‘atone’ -- nevermind that she didn’t do anything wrong, it was all Ezekiel and… nevermind -- made her look into the field of healing instead of reviving.”


“That’s so sad.” Serena shook her head. “People can be so cruel. At least she’s back on her feet now, though -- you said she’s working with Lionel Zyther? The billionaire?”


“Yeah,” Emily said quietly, scowling. “Not sure how I feel about him. He seems like he wants to take over the world, and my dad would be furious if he knew we were traveling with the guy -- ‘Don’t trust rich men in fancy suits,’ that’s what he always said. But he has Elaine captivated, talking about how he can fund her and stuff.”


Serena’s mind drifted back a decade, to a wealthy, captivating man in an orange suit speaking to the then-Champion of Kalos in a Lumiose cafe. “That sounds like good advice to me,” she agreed. “It always seemed weird how he just took over all that Flare stuff like nothing ever happened. But when Calem and I looked into it, we never found anything suspicious. Not even the International Police could.” She paused. “Then again,” she giggled, “if he hadn’t kept up the Holo Caster, I’m not sure Calem could function at all. That man can barely dress himself some days.”


Emily chuckled. “Yeah, I guess that is a good thing. He mentioned once that he bought Flare’s assets because they were cheap and nobody else was buying. Makes sense, I guess. Anyways, we should catch up with the others and let them know.”


“Right.” The two headed back outside and took off towards the lab.


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: Chloe Hikari/Ray Hakuda - Warehouse, Dendemille City, Kalos==-

"I don't think this is a Pidgey…" Chloe glanced around with a small frown. "The colours didn't seem to match."

As if to emphasize what Chloe said, the mystery bird made another pass at the group. This time, Luke was ready. The Lucario jumped into the air with the weirdest battle tactic ever - to simply have the bird be blocked by his body. The bird crashed into the Lucario, but came to a halt as the unstoppable force met the airborne unmovable object. Then the two both fell. Chloe peered at what the dazed bird even was; she saw it was a Pokémon she recognized from looking through the Alola data, Pikipek if she was recalling correctly.

As Chloe readied a Poké Ball for the bird, Ray noticed a blur of motion out of the corner of his eye. The crab-like Pokémon's fist met Ray's Bisharp's arm as the orange-haired trainer reacted to send out a Steel-type of his own. Despite the lack of powers, the Bisharp still seemed to be caught off guard by the attack.

"Alright, pin it in place, we don't wanna hurt these Pokémon, they're probably just scared from what those Signs people did to them." Ray called out to Byakuya, who nodded. The Bisharp and the crab began to trade off blows, though for the most part it appeared that all the crab wanted to do was block blows.

After Chloe had captured the dazed Pikipek successfully, she glanced over with a small frown. "Wait, Ray, something doesn't seem right." She said as she noticed how the Pokémon was acting. "Look, doesn't the Crabrawler look like they're trying to protect something?"

"Protect…?" Ray faltered slightly - it was a good point and along what he had been thinking, but, what was here that would be in need of protecting? He scanned the room a bit more, then saw two more Crabrawler huddled in the corner. It was tough for him to tell a crab's age, but they seemed like they were about the same age or slightly younger - perhaps the crab's siblings? Ray held up a hand, as the Bisharp backed off. Warily, the fighting crab did too.

"You're just trying to keep them safe, aren't you?" Ray asked, to which the crab nodded. "Alright. We'll make sure to get them out of here, would you like to help with that?" Again, the crab nodded.


Species: Pikipek

Nickname: Melia

Gender: Female

Trainer: Chloe Hikari

Appearance: Same as a typical Pikipek.

Personality: Mischievous and curious, she's interested by new people, but surprised when something shows up out of nowhere, even if it's a Poké Ball releasing a Pokémon.

Ability: Skill Link

Specialty: Speed+

Known Moves: Pluck, Fury Attack, Bullet Seed, Screech, Tailwind(Egg)

-==IC: Colleen Llyan/Lucia Zyther/Olivia Seaton - Geosenge Town, Kalos==-

Lucia stayed toward the back with a cautious look on her face as they hurried toward their destination. She was trying to not worry anyone, but it was obvious that she was distracted. In particular, she was distracted by her injury the other day; while it hadn't seemed to be anything serious in the long run, she was still nervous that getting into another fight would risk something happening again - and what if it was serious this time?

She bit her lip and kept walking quietly. All she needed to do was leave the fighting up to the others, just like she always did, right?


Colleen and Olivia, on the other hand, were up toward the front of the group. "Four, huh?" Olivia quietly said to try and break the unnerving silence on their way. "Yknow, I heard that in some places, that's--"

"I think I know where you're going with that, and while it's nice trivia, probably not the best idea for a discussion topic right at the moment." Colleen replied, though she bit her lip as she wondered if it was worded more harshly than she had intended. Olivia didn't seem offended, though, as she just sheepishly smiled.

"Right, right, my bad." The redhead said, but then glanced at the lab with a frown. "Seriously though, ya think they might be…?"

"It's possible… I can't tell from looking at their aura, especially from here as it's extremely faint, but after what we found yesterday…" Colleen bit her lip, a troubled look on her face. "As much as Em wants to say that it was a coincidence, I don't believe it for a moment."

-==IC: ???/Yamamoto Aori/Ryan Hikari/Shannon Willows/??? - Stacy's Mansion, Celadon City==-

The drive wasn't too long, all things considered. When they made it to the neighbourhood where the mansion was, however, they decided to park on the road nearby and walk the rest of the way, due to a fancy car parked in the driveway.

As the group approached the mansion, they saw one of the attendants talking to a brown-haired young man who was dressed in a rather fancy-yet-casual outfit.

"... So she hasn't been back here yet? Alright then, that's fine." The man said with a sigh as the group approached. "She did say that she'd be a while the last time I talked to her, but do tell her to let me know when she's back."

Finished with his conversation as the door closed, the man turned around. As he saw the three approaching the door, his face took on a look of confusion, as if he were trying to figure out who any of them were.

"I take it you're here to talk to Ms. Dexter?" The man queried as he assumed why they might be here. "Well, I'm sorry, but she's out at the moment."

"What? Natalie? No, we're here to visit my aunt Stacy." Ryan said, as he tilted his head slightly.

"Oh." The man suddenly realized his mistake, as he studied the group again. "Oh, you're that Hikari fellow, aren't you? Brother of that Yuki, if I'm not mistaken?" With a sigh, the man shook his head. "Where are my manners; my name is Phil. I'm Natalie's fiance. It's a pleasure to meet you." The brown-haired man extended his hand with a smile.

It felt like ages before Ryan finally stuck his hand out to shake Phil's hand. "Nice to meet you too. I remember Nat mentioning you to the rest of us back early last month."

"I'm Shannon Willows." Shannon held out her hand to Phil next. "Ms. Stacy took me in when I was injured a few weeks ago. And this is Aori; she's a refugee from One Island. We don't want to intrude, but we were wondering if Ms. Stacy would let us stay the night."

"Ah." Phil fell silent with a contemplative frown. "I take it you haven't heard the news yet?"

"What news?" Ryan asked with a sinking feeling.

Phil glanced down toward Aori for a moment. "Stacy…" He paused for a moment. "... had to go on a business trip, and will be a while returning." His look to Ryan and Shannon said that there was something else up, however.

"Oh." Shannon glanced over at Ryan. "Aori, why don't we go wait in the car? I think Ryan had something to grab from the house, and it wouldn't be nice for all of us to intrude while Ms. Stacy's out."

"That will not be necessary." A voice came from the now-open door. Ryan turned in surprise - when had it opened? Still, there was an older man standing in the doorframe with an assistant at his side. "You three are welcome to stay here as long as you want or need. I would not turn away people that Stacy cares about." It appeared the man was taking care about his words as well, as he gave a kind smile to the group. "You too, since I heard that you were hounding my door all afternoon." The man gave a more pointed look toward Phil, but stayed kind none-the-less.

Something was definitely off, but Shannon couldn't place her finger on it. She pushed her worried thoughts aside as she bowed her head at the gentleman, who she figured was Stacy's husband. "I can't thank you enough, Mr. Trilan. Would it be alright if we spent the night here? I promise we won't be a bother."

"By all means." The man said with a smile. "Oh, on that note, I almost forgot to introduce myself. My name is Vance Trilan. It is wonderful to meet you all."

"It's nice to meet you, too." With another bow, Shannon led Aori inside. "Come on, I'll show you where the bedrooms are, and we can lay our bags down there. Ryan, want me to take your bag so you can catch up with your uncle?"

"Sure, that sounds good to me." Ryan set his backpack down on the ground next to Shannon with a smile, then nodded to Vance as the two began to walk inside the house.

Aori followed Shannon quietly, her brow furrowed. Something was wrong, and the adults were trying to hide it. Aori decided not to pry right now.


Ryan and Vance headed toward the living room; Phil tagged along, but didn't seem quite as enthused about the discussion the two of them were having. Finally, the three sat down in the room, though something about the atmosphere of the house kept nagging at Ryan's mind.

"What actually happened?" Ryan finally asked, since Aori was way out of earshot by now. "No-one's acting the way they should if Aunt Stacy was really just out of town on a business meeting."

"..." Vance fell quiet, as he let out a long sigh. "She was attacked about a week or so ago. I have lost count of the days. She… did not make it." The man closed his eyes for a few moments. "There are claims that your mother did it. I do not believe that was the case, but she has vanished. There were reports of a strange man nearby on the night things happened, but the police stopped searching for him once they realized that Cassandra was on the run."

Ryan sat there with a shocked look on his face for a long while, then put his head down with a small nod. "I… I see." The man clenched his fist for a couple moments; that suddenly explained the strange messages he had gotten from his mother recently. He was at a loss for words however; what could he even say?

"I know it is tough to process, take your time." Vance said with another long sigh. "It still does not feel real to me. Every day I expect her to just walk into the room with her air of confidence. If you have any requests, I will do my best to keep them. It is the least that I could do to help at this time."

"Alright… I'll keep that in mind." Ryan said with a slow nod, as he took a deep breath to try and collect his thoughts. "I'll… I'll keep to the story of the business trip for Aori's sake… I hope they do catch whoever did it, though." He wasn't sure he wanted to believe that it was Cassie either, but… if it was, then perhaps it was for the best that she be caught as well.

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IC: Yamamoto Aori/Shannon Willows - Trilan Mansion, Celadon City


Shannon led Aori through the now-familiar halls of the mansion. The younger girl's eyes were wide as saucers as she tried to soak in everything the giant house had to offer. It was almost a little overwhelming, and Aori practically hugged Shannon's hand so she wouldn't get lost.


"And this here is the hospital wing. If you ever scrape your knee or something, they'll get you patched right up." Shannon looked down at the quiet girl and recognized the anxiety in her eyes. "You doing alright, Aori?" she asked, kneeling down so that she was at eye level with the girl.


Aori swallowed and nodded. “Everything here is just very big and nice,” she said quietly. “And I get nervous in new places.”


Shannon gave her a warm smile. "I understand, it's easy to get lost in a place like this, isn't it?" Aori nodded. "Well, tell you what? You see that courtyard down there?" The two girls peered out the window at a span of trees that stood surrounded on all sides by the huge building. It was like a giant Golurk had just carved out the center of the house, turning it into something resembling a donut, and dropped a forest in the hole. "You can see the courtyard from almost anywhere in the mansion. If you ever get lost, just go there to find your bearings."


The girl nodded again. “Yes, okay.” She smiled shakily. “Which way are the bedrooms?”


"Right this way." Shannon led her down another corridor lined with ornate wooden doors. "These are all the guest bedrooms. I've never actually stayed in one myself, but my physical therapist, Lucia, stayed in one of these." She approached the second door on the right and gently knocked. When there was no answer, she pushed the door open.


The room was as spotless as a new hotel room. A large bed sat in the corner, along with a dresser, cabinets, and a flatscreen tv. Two large windows offered a view of the courtyard, and a pair of smaller doors led into a closet and bathroom, respectively.


"Well, it looks like Lucia hasn't moved back in yet," Shannon said. "What do you think, does this look like a good place to stay?"


Aori smiled softly. “Yes, it does.” She looked around in awe at the lavish accommodations -- she had seen televisions in other people’s homes when visiting, but never in a bedroom. -- and shifted from foot to foot quietly. “Would it be okay for me to let Hana and Yuri out to play for a bit?”


"Of course." Shannon set three Pokéballs on the bed. One by one they opened to release her own Pokémon. "Selena and Sousa know their way around this place a little better than me, so they probably know all the good spots to play." Selena immediately chippered up and proudly puffed out her chest, while her Dunsparce companion gave a meek nod.


Aori released her Bulbasaur and Eevee, who happily greeted Shannon’s Pokémon. Aori tilted her head softly, a curious look crossing her face. “You said you were hurt. It sounds like you could not walk for a while. What happened?”


Shannon sat down on the bed and ran her hand across Selena's fur. The Furret crooned happily and snuggled against her. "There was a big fight," she finally said, choosing her words carefully. "I tried to stop it, but got caught in the crossfire. Not unlike what you did to save Donguri. Things didn't turn out so well for me, but Ryan brought me here to get patched up." A soft smile crossed her face. "If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here right now."


Aori chewed her lip and hugged Shannon tightly. “I am glad you are here,” she said quietly. Hana’s vine reached out to wrap around the two, and Aori smiled. “Hana is glad, too.”


"Thanks, Aori. That really means a lot." As she embraced the young girl, Shannon felt her own worries melt away. She wished she could hold onto this moment forever. With a smile, Shannon reached down to pat the Bulbasaur on the head. "Thank you too, Hana."


The moment was interrupted by the growling of Aori’s stomach. Aside from the fruit snacks she had had at the department store, she hadn’t eaten much that day. Hesitantly, she broke the embrace. “Could we get some dinner?” she asked shyly.


The sound was accompanied by the growling of Shannon's own stomach. "It is getting pretty late, isn't it?" The girl giggled and held out her arm for Selena to climb up. Scooping up Sousa and Salix, she headed towards the door. "Come on, the dining room's down on the first floor. I know Ms. Stacy usually likes to eat with her guests, so I imagine Mr. Trilan will have Ryan and Phil join us."


IC: Jared Winters/Emily Lockwood/Lachina Adaon/Calem - Geosenge Town Lab, August 11th


As Emily and Serena came back, Jared frowned.


"They're in one of Lionel's labs," Emily explained quietly. "We have no clue where."


"Crud, I forgot," Jared sighed. "Alright then. Like I said, I only saw four, so we outnumber them by almost three to one. Let's play this safe and carefully. No telling what nasty surprises are waiting in there, or if the building is stable at all. Let's go." He made his way down into the lab quickly.

"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: Flare Lab==-


The secret lab was in shambles, cracks and rubble and collapsed walls littering the once pristine and glossy surfaces. Much of it bore a thick layer of rocky dust, but some sections significantly lacked the omnipresent covering -- a metallic panel, now twisted and lying haphazardly on the floor next to an open wall of melted and fused wiring, an assortment of rubble beneath a conspicuously pitted ceiling. It was Calem who had to explain.


“Just a couple weeks ago, the town was woken up by an earthquake -- magnitude 4.5, the aftershocks could be felt all the way over in Anistar -- and saw that the rubble here had shifted,” Calem explained. “Serena and I were called in to investigate, make sure that there wasn’t a sinkhole or something. We dug out a lot of the rubble and were pretty surprised not to find any bodies.


“What we did find, however, were three of Kalos’ starter Pokémon, all with the unique coloration that people have taken to calling ‘shiny.’ That, coupled with a wall of rock we couldn’t dig past with the Pokemon we had on hand, made us decide to head back to Lumiose to resupply.”


Other signs, however, were much less coincidental. Two pairs of footprints, in and then out, meandered through the rubble, half-covered in dust themselves and in places obscured by new collapses, but atop them several fresh sets also ran, the smooth black tile beneath clearly visible through the disturbances. These, too, wandered, but merely paused at each room, each cell they passed.


Oh, yes, the cells.


Where the first few rooms had been guard posts and armories, perched precariously atop stairs and opposite now-useless elevators, the path they were now forced to walk led them past row after row of thick-barred cell doors, the spaces within utterly blank boxes despite their size.


The Champion sighed. “These are troubling. Serena and I, we never saw these the first time we were here -- before the lab collapsed, that is. We only made it a short ways down before we took an elevator directly to the bottom level to fight with Lysandre. So far, we haven’t found any more cells, and none meant for long-term captivity.”


A white-tiled laboratory, gurney equipped with both restraints and monitors barely obscuring a conspicuous inbuilt crematorium behind them, gave answer to the final fate of most victims of Flare kidnapping.


“Flare worked in secret for a long time before Lysandre made his final play. People would go missing, and a lot of those people weren’t ever found. It’s hard to say how many were taken by Flare, or for what purposes.”


Serena looked away uncomfortably. “I think I have a pretty good idea of their ‘purpose’, actually.” Calem had been born in Kalos, but she was originally from Kanto; Flare had been quite insistent in making sure she never forgot that fact.


Quietly, Calem reached over and squeezed her hand.


Serena smiled softly at that. “Thanks, Calem.”


He nodded. “Let’s move on,” he said to the rest of the group.


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: Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town
"They called this a lab?" Alex muttered, casting a wary eye toward the barred cells. "Looks more like a prison if you ask me."
Nutmeg looked around the lab with a nervous croon. Dahlia knelt down and gently picked up the Turtwig, stroking her shell. "Lab or prison, I'm amazed anything works down here with all this rubble. What do you think could be down here that would make these supposed Flare members keep coming back?"
IC: Zoe Llyan - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town
Zoe waited until the rest of the group was inside the lab before following. Adrenaline coursed through her veins as she looked around at the decrepit facility. It was like something out of a spy movie: she had finally found the villain's evil lair, and if she was quick enough she might even see Collie take down Flare's leader once and for all.
Of course, it was hard to move quickly when one is constantly distracted by every trivial feature of the lab or its ruins. Zoe had just stopped to investigate an elevator when she froze in place. Voices were coming from around the corner.
Hardly daring to breathe, Zoe reached for Esmeralda's Pokéball. If these Flare Grunts were the type to challenge her to a Pokémon battle, she would be ready. If they were more the shoot-first-ask-question-later type . . . well, that was something Zoe preferred not to think about.
The voices started to grow softer when Zoe pressed herself against the wall. She chanced a peek and had to bite her lip to keep from doubling over in laughter. The voices didn't belong to Team Flare after all, but to the friends she had been following.
Regaining her composure, Zoe waited until they had turned another corner before silently following behind them.

IC: Shannon Willows/Ryan Hikari - Trilan Mansion, Celadon City
Shannon quietly entered the drawing room. "Aori's asleep," she announced. "She's excited to see Johto tomorrow, but a little nervous."

Ryan merely nodded in response, keeping the same pensive look he'd had all through dinner.

With a sigh, Shannon sat down next to him. "So what's really going on?" she asked. "Ms. Stacy's not really on a business trip, is she?"

Ryan shook his head with a sigh of his own. "She… died last week, from what Uncle Vance was saying." He bit his lip, not sure exactly how much to tell Shannon about what happened.

A chill draft seemed to blow through the room. "What?" Shannon breathed. "N-no. She can't be dead. She was here just a few weeks ago. She was so nice. How could she be . . . ?"

"Someone attacked her, from the sounds of it." Ryan took a breath to keep himself steady, as he tried to repeat what he had been told earlier - leaving out the part about who the prime suspect currently was. "Things have settled down since then, but…" He rubbed his arm uncertainly, as it was still confusing why it happened in the first place.

"Settled down?" Panic started to rise in Shannon's voice. "How can you say that? Your aunt was murdered! She was the sweetest woman in the world, she wouldn't hurt a Cutiefly. Who would do such a thing?"

"I- That's not what I meant…" Ryan bit his lip, but frowned uneasily, as he looked down to the ground. "I really have no clue, I've been wondering the same thing, Uncle Vance said before it happened there was some strange guy... but there's been an increase in people guarding the house since, and no sign of that guy ever since." He shook his head. "I just don't get it, and I just, why did it have to happen…" The rocket man closed his eyes, still trying to take deep breaths.

Shannon was quiet for a long while, nervously twiddling her thumbs. Several times she looked over at Ryan and took a breath, only to look away. When she finally spoke, her voice was a shaky whisper. "What are we even doing here, Ryan?"

"What do you mean?" Ryan glanced up, eyes opened again in confusion.

She stood up and walked over to the fireplace, running a finger along the mantle. "I mean what are we doing in Celadon?" She chanced a glance back at Ryan. "We're on a wild Swanna chase, and you know it. Aori's father was never going to be at the roof of the department store. So why do we keep pretending everything's going to be fine?"

"Because sometimes we just can't give up hope. I get where you're coming from, and I'm worried about how things go too, but… I have faith that it'll work out." Ryan took a deep breath to keep himself calm as the subject changed.

"Don't give me that!" Shannon whirled around and stalked up to him, tears streaming down her face. "Ms. Stacy is dead! For all we know, Aori's parents are, too! Did you ever think of that?! Or are we just going to keep looking for them for the rest of our lives? We're not Aori's parents, and I don't know about you, but I don't know the first thing about being a mother!" By now Shannon had positioned herself directly in front of Ryan and gripped the collar of his shirt with surprising force. Her brow furrowed in anger. "You may be fine playing Daddy Hikari, but I'm not ready for something like this! So stop telling me to have faith when we've got freaking Missing Zero Miyus walking around on the streets and people getting assassinated in their mansions! Faith didn't do squat when my parents uprooted me from Ecruteak, and it sure as h### won't help now!"

Ryan froze up as he simply listened to what Shannon said. His mind whirled as he did his best to avoid immediately countering what she kept saying, but he head just simply tilted down to look at the floor as he found that he couldn't think of a single thing to actually say that would sound right.

"I know… I know that things are absolutely horrible. I know that everything sucks, and I have no clue what to do about anything either." He closed his eyes once more, unsure what else to even say. "I'm sorry. I don't know, a lot of this feels like me not wanting anyone to have to go through what I have, but… you're right." Ryan looked up with an uncertain smile, tears already forming too. "I dragged you into this mess in so many ways. I keep wanting to help… but how can I say that's actually helping anything?"

He sighed. "You're right, though. I can't say that with…" Ryan paused for a moment as he realized he was seconds away from making a very unfitting pun, then quickly changed course. "Certainty, that anything will work out. I want it to, but I can't even say it myself with how my own life has been wrecked beyond recognition for like years now. I'm sorry."

Biting her lip, Shannon let go of Ryan's collar and took a step back. "Look at us. My mom is practically the devil incarnate, and your dad's like an international criminal or something. Not exactly model parents if you ask me. So how are we supposed to raise Aori? If her parents really are dead . . ." Shannon took a breath and stared at the rug, a pained expression on her face. "She'd be better off at an orphanage. I know there used to be one here in Celadon, if it survived the attack. Maybe we should start looking into that."

Ryan fell silent for the longest time, a look on his face as if he were debating with a lot of things. "I…" He slowly started, as he turned his head away and glanced at the wall - looking to anywhere but Shannon. "...don't agree…" The Rocket had no idea what to say at the moment, but he really didn't like the idea of that.

"I don't like it either." Shannon shifted her weight and focused on a point over Ryan's shoulder. "But we have to think about what's best for Aori, even if that means saying goodbye. Raising a Pokémon is one thing, but neither of us know how to raise a child. A good orphanage would make sure she has everything she needs . . ." Her voice cracked and she turned away with a soft sniffle, her blond locks concealing her tears.

"...we know what not to do, though." Ryan mumbled, as he otherwise stayed quiet. "And if this doesn't work out the way it should and we don't find her parents… I don't think any orphanage would have everything she needs." He was running on just rapidly drifting trains of thought as he tried his best to figure out anything good to say. "What if it's not a good orphanage though? I don't… I don't think we should put her through that…"

"We'd have to make sure it's a good one." Shannon hugged her arm, running a finger over her Furret-themed bracelet. "Don't think I don't know what that little television shoot you had in Vermilion was really about," she murmured. "You're one of only three people in the world right now who has a Pokémon with powers. Team Rocket won't let you just sit back and babysit a little girl; sooner or later they'll send you back into battle."

"We'd keep Aori out of the fighting itself-" Ryan started to say before he was cut off by Shannon holding her hand up.

She shook her head. "You don't get it. That's exactly what my parents did with me, and it sucked. I'm not putting Aori through that. I don't want to give her up to an orphanage, but I honestly don't see any other way."

"...is it really exactly like that?" Ryan quietly asked, as he turned his head to the floor. "It sounded like things were fine until you had to leave Ecruteak… what if they had just listened to you more? Would things have really gotten this bad?" The man shook his head. "I don't know… I don't think that any random place on the street would be good for Aori… she needs more than just a roof over her head, especially considering how the last few days alone have been." He sighed. "I get where you're coming from, I just, I don't know, I don't think this is a good idea."

Shannon remained quiet as she pondered Ryan's words. She softly brushed past him to sit down on the couch, bringing her feet up to hug her knees. "I want to look after Aori," she finally said. "I really do. But at the same time, it scares me. We can't just replace her parents, we have no right to take her under our wing. But that's exactly what we'll end up doing if we can't find them." Her voice trembled as she buried her face in her hands. "Look at me, I can't even keep my own life together. How am I supposed to be there for Aori?"

"I… can't say I know how." Ryan bit his lip as he rubbed his arm. "But… it's not just you, and it's not even just me. Right now it is, sure, but if we get a chance to meet back up with the others, then… we'll have help, right?" He fell quiet again. "No-one has all the answers anyway. Not even the good parents. They might have some of the answers, but half the time they're just winging it and doing what they think is best, or what will help out best."

"You're right." Shannon sniffled and wiped her tears on her sleeve. "I just . . ." She looked up at Ryan, finally meeting his eyes. Her words caught in her throat and before she could get them out, a maid approached them.

"I'm terribly sorry, but I have to ask that you retire to your rooms for the night." The woman's eyes darted between the two trainers in an expression a nanny might reserve for a pair of troublesome children.

"I wasn't aware there was a curfew," Ryan said warily.

"In light of recent events, no one but the main staff is allowed to wander the halls at night," the maid recited in an almost bored tone.

"I'm terribly sorry." Ryan bowed his head to hide his uneasiness. "We'll be on our way."

"Do you think whoever attacked Ms. Stacy would really come here again?" Shannon asked in a hushed voice as they made their way over to the bedrooms.

"I don't know; I don't think they would, personally, but I don't even know why she was attacked in the first place." Ryan frowned slightly as he rubbed his arm.

The two came to a stop at the room Shannon had claimed, adjacent to the one where Aori currently slept. The silence between them only made the room feel even more spacious. "Well, goodnight." Shannon started to walk to where her bag lay strewn on the bed.

"Alright then… night."

Something in the way he spoke made her freeze. The next thing she knew she had pivoted on her feet. Bracing one hand against the doorframe, she reached out and grabbed the cuff of his sleeve, forcing him to a sudden halt.

"W-wait!" she cried as her words finally caught up to the rest of her body. Their eyes met, his full of concern, hers full of shock. The realization of what she had just done finally hit her, and her arm dropped timidly to her side. "I, uh . . ." Her gaze became focused on his right foot. "I don't want to be alone. Not in the same house where Ms. Stacy . . ."

"I understand." Ryan nodded gravely and followed Shannon into her room. The door hardly made a sound as it closed behind them.


Once everyone was asleep, Phil tossed and turned in his bed. With a sigh, the man got up and glanced at the time. 12:30 AM. With a shake of his head, he got out of bed and decided to walk the halls to try and figure out a way to actually feel tired. He didn't really plan out any sort of place to head to, but ended up on the first floor of the mansion.

"Hm." With a curious glance around, Phil wondered what the mansion actually was like at night. He'd never visited any of the times that Natalie was around, so this was all new to him. As Phil wandered the halls, he stopped in front of a glowing blue keypad on the wall, that seemed attached to nothing. The man examined the keypad curiously, humming slightly. For a place that had such a conspicuous keypad, there seemed to be a surprising lack of security.

"Who's there?"

...or so he thought. Phil turned to see a woman holding a flashlight - which was pointed directly at his eyes, prompting the man to instinctively raise his hand to shield his eyes from the light. He didn't want to seem suspicious, so he raised his other hand too, just in case.

"Sorry, sorry. I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd take a little walk around; I'm with Ryan and the others." Phil said with a smile that was half concealed thanks to his arm. "The device here distracted me because it seems extremely out of place."

"Well, don't get distracted." The woman said pointedly, an annoyed look on her face as she lowered the flashlight slightly. "We had a murder here just a week ago, so everyone who wanders the halls gets treated like they're suspicious." The woman walked forward and grabbed Phil by the arm as she intended to drag him away. "You're going back to your room. If you can't sleep, there is a "complimentary" TV in there that you can use, instead of snooping around private property."

With a sigh, Phil nodded in acknowledgement, though he insisted on not being dragged back by the arm.

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 - Emmerich Coleman - Signs Warehouse, Kalos:


Once the Crabrawler had been secured (the specific task of which Emmerich left to Ray), the group left the room. They checked out the next room down. Like the first, it was a repurposed meat locker of some sort--enough of a pattern to determine that the rest likely were, as well. Aside from some small signs that several somethings had once occupied the space--namely, disturbed dust where numerous crates had once been--there was nothing of interest inside. After a more thorough search-through to find any other Pokémon refugees turned up nothing, they headed down the hall to the final room.


There was not much here, either, but it certainly was more interesting than the last couple of rooms. For one, the ceiling had partially collapsed--or perhaps not. Either way, there was a large pile of rocks that stretched from the ceiling in once corner to a large swath from the floor. It did nothing but render that corner unusable, as well as raise the question of why so much debris had accumulated there. With the ceiling appearing to be perfectly intact, there was no immediate answer.


Aside from this, a simple wooden table stood against the wall next to the door. The top, though empty of items, had been dyed in variously dark splotches over time. Similar rust-covered spots were visible randomly on the floor of the room. Rusty hooks and rings remained in this room, dangling from tracks on the ceiling. A thick layer of powdery dust had accumulated unevenly in the room; towards the center, though disturbed, it bore more of a whitish color, contrasting with the dull, grayish-brown around the rest of the room.


Emmerich and his Machamp exchanged looks of disgust with one another as the same thought--and sense of recognition--crossed their minds. "Torture chamber." He said the words plainly enough, but the contemptuous venom was obvious within them. With a shake of his head, he took a careful step inside. He crouched down near the white section of dust, shining his flashlight at it. "This must be the remains of what they were talking about . . ." He sighed, glancing at the rest of the group and stepping back. "I suggest leaving it undisturbed."



IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter, Andreev, Hull, Darrow, Perrault, Koziel) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto:


GPS reports indicated that at this point in their journey, Silent Horizon had deviated from the dirt and gravel road and headed down an opening in the trees off toward a flatter, wooded area of Mt. Silver. So, Hollow Treasure followed. Ritter tracked their progress on his digital pad, watching the blinking light as it traced its way through the wilderness. It was not long before the trees opened up onto a small field, terminating some ten yards away in a sharp drop. Across the grassy way, the valley stretched out before them. The sun shone red on the clouds as it descended toward the horizon.


"Pull into the center," Andreev directed to Hull. The latter nodded, slowing the jeep's movements and finally coming to a stop. For a moment, Andreev did not move, peering carefully out through the windshield. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she glanced back into the main cabin. "Ritter?"


Ritter shook his head. "We're alone."


She did not look convinced. "Darrow, turret. Keep an eye out. Everyone else, gear up. I've got a bad feeling here . . ."


Andreev did not often get 'bad feelings' on operations. When she did, Ritter had learned, they were worth listening to. The squad locked their helmets into place; as the other five primed their weapons, Darrow climbed to the back of the jeep, opening the top hatch and climbing into the turret's control seat. The gun swiveled slowly and deliberately across the treeline, scanning and waiting. Hull remained near the jeep, just in case.


The field was larger than it had first seemed. Or perhaps it was a trick of the mind that made it appear so; Ritter was unsure. He followed at the back of the group as Andreev picked her way across the field, flanked by Perrault and Koziel. Tell-tale tire tracks led to the center of the field, confirming that Silent Horizon had made their way here. Andreev stooped down, scanning the area first visually, and then with her techpad. The screen lit up with a digitized feed. As Andreev directed it this way and that, it highlighted potential objects of interest--the tire tracks on the ground; an unusually large patch of crushed flora; spent casings from an assault rifle . . .


"Are we sure they didn't just go AWOL?" Perrault asked. He didn't sound like he believed any part of that suggestion, himself. The electronic distortion from his helmet did not help in that regard. "It happens all the time, right?"


Andreev shook her head. "That's not what happened."


"With all due respect, ma'am? How can you be sure?"


She didn't answer. Instead, she focused on the techpad, which had highlighted several sets of footprints on the southern edge of the field. Andreev frowned, pacing alongside them. Try as she might, she could not make sense of what she was seeing--though the techpad had clearly picked up on a clear enough pattern, it did not provide any suggestions for possible sources of the footprints the way it normally would. And the sheer number of them . . .


"Okay . . ." She breathed with the word, speaking more to herself than the rest of the squad. "Something happened here . . . but what . . .?"


She looked from the forest to the field. Silent Horizon's jeep had come from the main road. Why? Perhaps that was unimportant right now . . . It had parked right in the center. Silent Horizon had dispatched from it. Something large had rested among the flowers; maybe an investigation? Something surprised them. The bullet casings indicated that they had opened fire. Target unknown. More footprints . . . Other somethings had arrived, likely hostile. But there was no indication of their jeep being destroyed or even damaged; more tracks led away, haphazard patterns. Had their driver fled, left them for dead? The others--five others--had moved away, closing in as they were surrounded by . . . what? What had driven them to the cliff . . .?


While Andreev pondered this, Ritter suddenly straightened up. The sudden movement caught Koziel off-guard. Her comm buzzed as she started to say something, but Ritter held a hand up, silencing her. By now, the others had noticed, and they stared at Ritter. Sweat dripped down the side of his face. Finally, he looked at Andreev. "Do you . . . hear anything right now . . .?


The squad leader returned his stare. As a matter of fact, she realized--no. The area was completely silent. It was no different from when they had arrived, but somehow, that fact only heightened her alarm. Forcing herself to remain calm, she turned to the forest. No signs of movement. "Anything on the radar?" she called to Darrow. The gunner started to shake his head, and then stopped. "What?"


"I'm getting something," he said, slowly and carefully. "It's behind us--about thirty feet down."


"Koziel." The agent fell in step behind Andreev as she made her way to the edge of the cliff. The squad leader knelt down, peering over the edge. In the dying light, it was getting harder to see, but . . . Yes; she could definitely see movement on the next shelf below. Slow, shambling, but definitely movement--a human; there was no mistaking it. She pulled out her binoculars, hoping to get a better look. Even at this distance though, high above them . . . It was like alarms were going off in her head, sirens warning her to back away and leave.


It seemed her companion felt it, too. Still on her feet, Koziel leaned forward. She flicked her lighter on and off, a nervous tick that Andreev had long since given up on breaking.


Now, she wished she had kept at it.


As Koziel went to flick the lighter open again, it slipped from her hand. The device dropped, hitting the slight slant of the wall on its way down and sending a small shower of dirt and rocks. The lighter snapped against the rock floor down below. Altogether, it was enough to get the person's attention. They stopped, raising their head up and staring, meeting Andreev's gaze through the binoculars . . .


"What the . . ."


The . . . thing staring at her . . . There was no doubt it was--or rather, had been--human. In fact, she recognized the man as Norwood, Ritter's counterpart in Silent Horizon. But the similarities ended in their base appearance. The thing down below opened its mouth, bloodied and black, in a chilling groan that cut through the wind around them as it moved to the cliff wall, arms raised as if it could reach them despite the distance. For better or worse, it was trapped down there, lifeless, gray eyes staring, unblinking, skyward. She had not noticed before, but now, looking closer, she could see that his left leg was twisted, broken bones sticking straight through both skin and blood-splattered uniform.


Andreev stared back, frozen with horror and uncertain of how to even begin to process what she was seeing, when Darrow called from the jeep. "Stop where you are--that's an order!"


She and Koziel turned, scrambling to hoist their weapons up as they hurried back to the jeep. Hull and Darrow had trained their weapons on a group of figures in the darkening forest. On the other side of the jeep, Perrault and Ritter stared in disbelief, uncertain of how to proceed. With a quick series of gestures, Andreev directed them and Koziel to watch the perimeter while she moved to stand beside Hull, raising her own rifle.


The figures continued to shamble forward.


"Repeating order," Andreev yelled. "Stop where you are, now!"


They did not comply. The four figures continued forward, shambling and stumbling through the undergrowth. Despite her warning, Andreev signaled for the others to wait. As the group came closer, the sunlight fell on their features, confirming her suspicions.


"Silent Horizon, this is your last warning--if you do not stop immediately, we will open fire!"


Perhaps they ignored the order. Perhaps it was lost amidst their dead, rising moans. Either way, they were certainly not in compliance with the order--and it was clear that they were not approaching for peaceful reasons. If a corpse could glare, that was the expression these four individuals now wore. Their arms were raised, and their shambling seemed to quicken as they made it clear of the brush, baring their fangs as they drew nearer to Hollow Treasure.


"Open fire!" Andreev shouted. Her first shot hit its mark, slamming into the lead body's shoulder and staggering it. The thing shrugged off the hit and continued forward. Luckily, her shot had snapped Hull and Darrow out of their horrified surprise. The three laid into the zombies, shearing flesh from bone with carefully-placed shots. With each one that fell, the rest went down easier and easier, until finally the last one fell to the floor in tatters, a single bullet shot clean through its skull.


That should have been the end of it. But as the ringing in the air cleared, they became aware of the veritable horde approaching through the forest.


Darrow recognized them first. He was a bookworm; he had read the reports and seen the images. If ever there was a situation where they were uncertain of what they were after, Darrow could be trusted to know the answer. So when he identified amongst the approaching bodies several creatures that had thus far only appeared within the Sevii Islands, and thus extrapolated the situation from there . . .


"We're got Instances!"


Well . . . If they were going to die, at least they would know to what.

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


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IC: Ryan Sanders - Signs Warehouse, Kalos

Ryan suppressed a shudder as he looked around the torture chamber. Hearing about Kyle's experience was one thing, but seeing where it took place made it all the more real. He glanced at the white dust Emmerich had pointed out, making sure to keep a safe distance away. "That's what they drugged Kyle with?" he asked. "You don't suppose Vertrag could analyze it and come up with some sort of antidote for it, do you? It could be useful whenever we actually do find Shift. If we even manage to find him." Ryan strode back to the door before turning around to survey the room in its entirety. After a moment he let out a long sigh. "It doesn't seem like Shift's group left any sort of hints as to where they went after abandoning this place. It seems like we're at a dead end, unless you want to try digging through that rubble."

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: Jamie Arthur - Flare Lab


Jamie considered Dahlia's words. She didn't know what this lab actually contained before it collapsed. That made it rather hard to speculate on what it could've been that Flare was after here. 


"I mean, cool Pokémon are worth coming back for in and of themselves," Jamie said, considering how cool strangely colored Pokémon could look. "But bad guys tend to aim bigger than that."


"Did you bring better Pokémon for digging this time? Tristan and Pelleas could probably help if the ceiling will hold."

Pelleas decided to take the statement as her praising his strength rather than her implying he would accidentally collapse the decrepit ruin, killing them all.

Edited by Metal Gear Minun


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-==IC: Ryan Hikari/Shannon Willows/Yamamoto Aori/Vance Trilan/Phil - Trilan Mansion, Celadon City==-

The next morning, the group woke up and prepared for the day. Things seemed to be less tense than the night before, but it still felt like there were a lot of things left unsaid. Ryan also realized that they had no real method of getting to Saffron quickly, having taken the car back after dinner the night before. He glanced around the table - perhaps Vance could--?

"Well," Ryan's uncle began as he stood up, checking a pager as he did so. "I hate to leave so suddenly, but work just contacted me and I am needed as soon as possible."

… or not. Ryan nodded with a distracted frown. Vance continued speaking, but Ryan was too lost in thought to pay his uncle any attention. The Rocket tapped his finger against the table absentmindedly.

"Something wrong?" Phil asked with a smile. Ryan looked up in surprise, then nodded.

"We need to get to Saffron so we can take the train to Goldenrod and look for Aori's parents… but I'm not quite sure how we're gonna do that, I only had the car for Celadon." He didn't add on that he wasn't entirely sure that was the rental's contract, but he didn't want to push any question of legality where Miriam was involved. "Was thinking of asking one of the assistants here."

"Well, I could drive you three there. I could even accompany you, if you wanted. I have nothing better to do today, really, and with Natalie who-knows-where, I figure this might be some sorta fun." Phil chuckled for a moment, then grinned. "Plus, four heads are better than three when it comes to searching around, am I correct?"

"Hmm… that's a good point. You sure you don't mind?"

"Nope. So, everyone else agree with this plan?"

Shannon had been busy helping Aori cut up her waffle. Ryan gave her a gentle nudge. "Hm? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea." Shannon brushed her hair out of her eyes. "Thanks for offering your help, Mister . . ."

"Oh, please." The man flashed a coy smile. "Call me Phil."

Aori nodded. “Arigatou, Phil,” she said around a mouthful of waffle.

"Excellent." Phil said with a nod. "I'll go get the car ready, then."

Ryan nodded, glad that things seemed to be going their way again. He went to go prepare his things - on the way, he stopped to give his request to one of the assistants to go keep an eye on the Department Store. When he had finished getting ready, he met the other three at the front door so they could get on their way.

The trip to Saffron was completely mundane; the train ride wasn't much more interesting either. There didn't seem to be quite as many people as normal, but the train station was still packed. Something as mundane as navigating a crowded train station made it easy to forget that aliens were attacking not too far away. Still, the beautiful scenery out of the windows made the battles in One Island and Vermilion seem like a bad dream. After the intensity of the last few days, Ryan was glad to finally have a chance to relax. He smiled over at Shannon and Aori, sitting across the seat from him. For that brief moment, all their worries faded away.


It hadn't felt long, but Ryan eventually felt the telltale sign of the magnet train pulling into the Goldenrod train station. After a few moments to make sure no-one would get lost, Ryan led the group off the train and out of the station. Ryan glanced around the city as he bit his lip - so many memories were here, both good and bad. At the same time, as they walked further into the city, Phil turned his head to the right, a puzzled expression on his face briefly.

"... One moment." Phil said to the others with a smile, as he began to walk in a completely different direction than the others. "I thought I just recognized someone, a ghost, perhaps."

"Unless it's Aori's parents, I don't think we have time to--" Shannon trailed off as she turned around. Phil had already left.

Phil walked off toward the Game Corner, then turned down a path to the south. With a frown, the brown-haired man turned his head from side to side.

"Hm. I could have sworn…" Phil stopped himself mid-sentence as he quickly whirled around. There wasn't anyone in sight yet, but Phil could see the approaching shadow of someone getting closer. "So, what do you want? I know you've been stalking us since we got off the train."

A blonde man turned the corner, a scowl on his face. "What do you need to know for? So you can act on some kind of orders?" The man walked closer, fists clenched. "Here, I'm going to guess something - tell me if I'm wrong."

"Alright." Phil said with a smile, hands raised with a shrug. "Whatever you want, Golden Vigilante. Or do they call you Corey? Or… something else, perhaps?" The man's smile became slightly off in an indescribable way, as the blonde man stepped closer.

"You're part of Cipher, aren't you? Some way or another. I seem to recall seeing your face in one of the places I've gone into in the past." Corey ignored the comments, as he focused on Phil instead.

"That's a fancy way to say "break in", isn't it?" Phil chuckled, as he glanced to the side. "What if I am, though? So is your father, isn't that right?" The man asked, an amused look on his face as Corey drew one of the swords of the Doublade that rested on the small of his back. "Fine, fine. You got me. 100% Cipher. But what are you going to do? Enact vigilante justice? I don't know if you realize it, but that won't go over well with anyone." Phil said as he looked directly at Corey.

"Doesn't stop me from beating up criminals in disguise as businessmen." The blonde man flipped the sword around his hand, carefully eying his current foe. "Besides. I want some answers, and it sounds like you might have them." Corey stopped flipping the sword around and gripped it tighter. "If you decide not to answer, though, I guess there's no promises that I won't fight you."

"Well, can't say I have the answers."

"You don't even know what the questions are." The blonde vigilante's patience was quickly being tested. "Is the gang here connected to Cipher?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Corey grinded his teeth together for a minute, as he just looked at Phil and his smug face. "Why are you even here?"

"Oh, well that I have an answer to." Phil grinned further, as he stepped forward, forcing the shorter man to step back for once. "See, this group I'm traveling with. They're trying to find some girl's father or some sugary sweet thing like that. But one of them is important - he's the nephew of the dead woman who used to run the company we're trying to take over. I'd have my fiance help out, but she seems to have run off to investigate the woman's death."

"Wait, dead woman?" Corey looked at Phil in confusion. "Who do you mean?"

"Oh. Right, you wouldn't have seen the news, you're a street rat, and have been for the past, what, nine years?" Phil put a hand to his chin, faking trying to remember the name. "Who was she… Trilan Berry? No, no, that's not it. Ah, right." The brown-haired man snapped his fingers. "Stacy Trilan. Aunt of those Hikaris."

"Wha-- Leave them out of this." Corey demanded, as he held his sword behind himself, ready to strike if Phil made any false moves.

The Cipher agent shook his head with a frown as he turned his back on Corey and began to walk away. "Not like I dragged them into this anyway. Those three invited me, I really couldn't care less about them outside of maybe being able to gain access to Leavanny Strauss. Of course, if they ever decide to stick their nose into Cipher's business… I can't really guarantee anything."

Phil smiled for a very brief moment as he turned his head. The smile very quickly faded as he needed to jump away from a swing of Corey's sword. There was a crash as the Doublade's blade buried itself in a nearby metal pole.

"I said leave them out of this." Corey's tone took a colder edge than normal, as he stared at Phil in anger. "In fact, I don't care if they invited you. Leave their group now. We may have only just met… but you seem like a snake through and through." The man glared at Phil, a scowl on his face. "Maybe you shouldn't have mentioned them at all. Maybe you should just crawl back to your Cipher hole, wherever that i--" Corey's angry rant was cut off, as the pole that had been cut by the Doublade began to tip over and fall toward him.

The blonde man turned and reached up to grab the surprisingly heavy pole with his free hand. The pole was barely stopped for the moment, but Corey wasn't sure what to actually do as he winced - he didn't feel that he could let the pole go, but he also didn't think that he could lower it to the ground gently.

"Tyranitar!" A familiar voice rang out through the alley a moment before a flash of light heralded a Tyranitar that barreled Corey's way. The man braced for impact, but when he opened his eyes a moment later, the pole was being lifted up off him and gently set on the ground. Wordlessly, Corey turned toward the three people who were running his way.

"Are you alright?" Ryan asked with a frown. Corey's response to that question was to raise his arm to try and show it was alright - only to wince with a yelp of pain and grab it with his free hand.

"... I was going to say yes, but that said no." The blonde man replied with an annoyed frown. "Thanks, though, Ryan."


-Suggest making this an IC break-

It was then that Shannon and Aori finally caught up. The girls glanced between Tyranitar, the man wielding one half of a Doublade, and the broken pole. "Ryan, who is this guy?" Shannon asked.

"An old friend." Ryan's eyes turned from the Doublade to the broken pole. "Still a bit of a dummy, but a good friend."

"Hey now." Corey protested with a frown. "I'll have you know that pole wasn't there when I started to swing."

"I rest my case."

"ANYWAY." Corey coughed as he tried his best to change the subject. "My name's… Corey." The sword wielder tapped a finger against his injured arm, as if wanting to say something more.

"I'm Shannon, and this is Aori." Shannon gave the man a curt nod while remaining at a safe distance. "Care to explain why you were trying to run our friend Phil through with a sword? That's not a very polite way to introduce yourself."

"He…" Corey glanced at the others and the expressions on their faces. "...was doing and saying some things that weren't okay. Threatening… some people I care about." The blonde-haired man glanced over at Ryan briefly, but then winced and grabbed his arm again.

Shannon crossed her arms and glared at Corey. "So you respond with violence? It sounds to me like you're blowing things way out of proportion here. Phil's not a very threatening guy." She rolled her eyes. "What do you have to say to all this, Phil?"

Phil was not at all nearby.

With a heavy sigh Shannon turned back to Corey. "Look, threatening people with swords is not cool. Come on, Ryan, let's see if we can't find Phil."

"He threatened you three." Corey said finally, a frown on his face as he looked at Shannon. "He's… not as innocent as you might think, either."

"Yeah, coming from the guy who tried impaling him?" Shannon raised an eyebrow. "Sorry if I don't believe you."

"What do you mean?" Ryan asked, ignoring Shannon for the moment. "You sound as certain as that time that we had to…" The man turned his eyes to the ground for a moment. "Anyway, why are you so certain?"

"Because he's part of an organization that I've been trying to take down for the past however many years. The name "Cipher" ring a bell to either of you?" Corey asked, belatedly realizing that Aori was there.

"Cypher? You mean like how emails and passcodes are encrypted?" Shannon looked over at Ryan to see if he had any more insight on the name.

"Hmm… all I remember is the name in the history books of Orre; supposedly a good twenty years or something ago, they were a famous company, but one day a branch in Orre started some unethical experiments or something, and were apparently stopped twice." Ryan scratched his head slightly. "I'd heard they disbanded after the second incident though."

"Not quite. They simply… rebranded, shall we say." Corey sighed, as he leaned against the wall, using his good hand to put the Doublade away. "They went underground, changed hands apparently, and just started to have offshoots either be started up… or slowly took over existing companies from the inside." He glanced to the ground. "My father got wrapped up in that at one point. Wish I could say he got what he deserved, but he simply adapted and became one of them."

Shannon wasn't quite ready to let her guard down, but she still glanced suspiciously down the alley where Phil would have disappeared to. "And you're saying Phil is one of these Cypher offshoot inside men?"

"Yeah. Don't know too much about it, but I found a picture of him a while ago, though I didn't really have any context at the time. He knew about me, though; a lot about me that he shouldn't. Guess Cipher's really been doing their homework recently." Corey kept his arm to the side, grimacing as he tried to motion with his hand briefly before giving up. "But he mentioned you three, some other company, and what he'd do if there were investigations. That part's when I slashed and missed on purpose."

For a long moment Shannon stared at Corey with her piercing hazel eyes. "Ryan?" she finally asked. "You say you know this guy. Can we trust him?"

"Corey can be dumb at times, but yeah. Helped me save my sister from a bad situation once, plus is one of her best friends." Ryan said with a nod.

"Not that I've gotten to see either of you since like four years ago…" Corey closed his eyes. "Then again, you all need full trust or something right? For whatever it is you're doing? I bet it's like whatever those people earlier this week were doing." He opened them again, then stared in the opposite direction.

"Well with all the crazy stuff that's been going on the past few days, we're a little on edge." Even with Ryan's seal of approval Shannon couldn't fully relax and kept a wary eye on the Doublade. "We just want to make sure you won't try and stab us in the back. Literally."

Corey looked over at Shannon and opened his mouth for a moment to reply, but then closed it, deciding that wasn't something he should try to nitpick. He did look at Shannon a bit curiously now that she'd caught his attention. He was about to say something, when Ryan cut him off.

"Whatever happens, we should help fix your arm. I've seen how you've been in pain each time you move it - you sprained it or something while grabbing for that pole, didn't you?"

"... Maybe…" Corey glanced to the side.

"You should probably see a doctor," Shannon said, her expression softening a little.

"I… don't do doctors." Corey said as he bit his lip. "Too many questions usually, and I've not really had any proper ID for a good few years because of ru--" The blonde-haired swordsman paused for a couple moments, then cleared his throat. "Because of classified reasons."

"You don't do doctors." With an exasperated sigh, Shannon walked over to an old wooden pallet resting against a nearby dumpster. She pulled on a piece of the wood, but it didn't move. "Hey Ryan," she called out. "Can your Tyranitar break off a few pieces of wood?"

It didn't take too long for the Tyranitar to do exactly that. Corey sighed in the meantime and slid down to a sitting position. "... Sorry about everything."

"Don't worry about it," Shannon said as she dug through her bag for a shirt, ultimately deciding on the old dirty one Aori had been given at the refugee center. Tearing it into strips, she fashioned a crude brace for Corey's arm. She worked in silence, keeping her expression neutral. When she was done she leaned back to admire her handiwork. "That should help some," she said with a kind smile. "And . . . thanks for warning us about Phil. If he really is part of a criminal organization, there's no telling what he might have done to us."

Corey nodded, though seemed a little uncertain what to say. Ryan cleared his throat for a moment, then glanced around as it already seemed to be getting close to sundown.

"We should head somewhere to spend the night. Corey, if you wanna make it up to us, you're with us." Ryan gave the blonde-haired man a look at the first sign of protest. "You ran off the fourth person in our group, so you're the replacement. Plus, you know the area well from when you hung out with Kazuma, right? And Olivine from when hanging out with Olivia?"

Corey returned the look with slight annoyance, but sighed. "Fine, fine. I guess everyone here in Goldenrod can hold their own for a bit." The man placed a hand on his hip. "Geez, you're just as bossy as ever, aren't you Ryan?"

"Someone's gotta keep you in check, Corey." The black-haired rocketman grinned, then began to lead the way to where the hotels would be, ignoring his friend's exasperated sigh.

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IC - Emmerich Coleman - Signs Warehouse, Kalos:


In response, Emmerich set his bag down, rifling through it and producing several objects. First was a pair of disposable gloves that he pulled onto his hands. Next was a vial of some sort with a screw-top lid. He opened it, pulling out the attached brush and running it carefully through the dust on the floor before replacing it inside the vial. He did this again with a second one, and then set the samples in a metal case within his bag. Carefully, he pulled the gloves off, rolling them into each other and stuffing them in a side pouch for disposal.


"I think it's worth trying," Emmerich said at last. "If Vertrag can't do anything with it, my br--I mean, my sister would be interested in taking a look at it. Especially after Victoire's run-in with it . . ." Warily, Emmerich pushed himself to his feet, dusting off his uniform. "At any rate, I agree--it seems we've hit a dead-end here. Let's get going."



IC - Perimeter Unit Hollow Treasure (Agents Ritter/Lopunny, Andreev/Golurk, Hull/Pinsir, Darrow/Durant, Perrault/Kabutops, Koziel/Infernape) - Mt. Silver Path, Johto:


"Instances!?" Perrault's intonation was frightened, on the verge of panicked. "Oh no . . . Oh f--"


"Perrault, get it together!" Andreev yelled. "Darrow! Detail report!"


If there was anything to be thankful for, it was that the approaching horde was not charging--not yet. They were visible now in the trees, shambling forward. Andreev counted roughly twenty, maybe twenty-five enemy units in total, some large, others small, none of them friendly. Darrow had the best idea of what exactly they were up against, however. He fell silent for a moment as he turned his scanners on them.


"Sixteen targets identified, five unknown," Darrow called back at last. "Feeding HUD reports now."


Andreev's line-of-sight lit up with holographic reticles, listing out basic information on what they were seeing and highlighting them within the low light of the trees. Of the sixteen identified Instances, there seemed to be a pretty diverse mix. Four Fraygrins melded their way near the front of the group, flanked by four Maniakoll that darted from tree to tree like strange, physics-defying ragdolls. Two Terminite scuttled through the underbrush just ahead of them, hidden from immediate sight; a Venophage flitted about on the outskirts of the group, searching for a weak point in the guard. Trailing at the back was a slow-moving Sinystal, and three Harpreak jumping through the tree branches just above it, which soon shot through the canopy and into the air, where they began circling the clearing as only vultures could. A Phantashade rounded out their numbers, phasing through trees as if they were not even there.


These known threats all seemed smaller in comparison to what followed after them, however. Andreev could hear the other five Instances long before she could see them, and they all sounded large--very large. They crashed and lumbered through the trees with heavy, surefooted steps. Some of them, anyway--something among them hummed with the telltale sounds of an engine, a vehicle mowing its way through wood and debris, crushing everything underfoot without discernment. When they finally neared enough to register on radar, Andreev was not sure what to make of any of them.


Four of the creatures were humanoid, though their general shape was where the resemblance to anything 'human' ended. They were green and brown, easily eight to ten feet tall, top-heavy, and covered in various plant matter. Their bodies looked as if they had been constructed from compressed clay and grass--clearly organic, deceptively sturdy. Roots decorated their bodies at various points, and they carried themselves on thick legs like tree trunks. Each bore a wide grin upon their otherwise-blank faces, emitting deep-voice giggles and chuckles that carried heavily on the wind. Every single one toted some sort of bludgeon in their oversized fists--two dragged thick, broken tree trunks in their wake, while the others wielded uprooted warning signs that had likely once served as guiding signals on some trail within the mountain.


The thing following after them was even larger. If there had never before existed a centaur comprised of a humanoid body atop the body of a tank . . . Well, it existed now. Black and red in color, this was the creature smashing everything in front of it, carving a path through the trees and bushes. A robotic body had somehow sprouted from the main casing of what appeared to have been a tank, treads now carrying it forward into battle. Several lights adorned the lower body, forming an upside-down structure sort of like a face. The robot's thick arms were covered in armor plating; one forearm terminated into a deadly cannon. The Instance's eyes glowed yellow from its skull, scanning the field for its targets.


"Wait--picking up two additional targets; types also unknown."


These were much smaller in size--it was no wonder Darrow had initially missed them. They were about the size of the average Bug-Type Pokémon, and as Andreev observed them, she could not get past how bizarre they looked even compared to the other Instances. It was as if someone had taken the body of a common house fly, mechanized it, and replaced the head with a black microphone. They appeared none the wiser to their unusual existence, instead merely planting themselves in the trees on the edge of the clearing and pointing themselves at the group of scouts. Other than that, they made no apparent moves.


"What's our plan?" Koziel called. She had eyes on the Venophage, and though she tried her best not to, she sounded worried.


"Deploy Pokémon," Andreev ordered. "Powers or not, they'll even the odds. Darrow, keep that turret trained on the big ones--keep anything within line of sight outside of the clearing. I'll engage support here. Hull, Perrault, take up left flank; Koziel and Ritter get the right. Utilize your Pokémon for defense while we focus on taking out priority targets--marking them now." The reticles on the Venophage, Phantashade, and Sinystal turned red, as did the marker on the tank creature. By the time it reached the clearing, hopefully they'd have taken out a few of the smaller ones. "Deploy Pokémon now!"


Six flashes lit up the clearing. The hulking figure of Andreev's Golurk appeared beside the jeep, as did the large Durant under Darrow's possession. To the left, Hull's Pinsir and Perrault's Kabutops appeared; to the right, Ritter's Lopunny and Koziel's Infernape. With the additional numbers, Andreev felt her own nerves settle a little bit, but she was not yet holding out hope--this was going to be a long, grueling fight. She could already tell.


"Ritter, try to get a message out to Chapel for back-up A.S.A.P.," Andreev added. "We'll keep them off of you while you're on it."


"Yes, ma'am!" Ritter pulled back, taking cover as he began setting up a radio call. His Lopunny moved immediately to cover his position.


As the first Instances neared the forest edge, Andreev primed her weapon. "Squad, ENGAGE!"


And so it began.

Edited by Parugi

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


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-==IC: Chloe Hikari/Ray Hakuda - Warehouse, Dendemille City, Kalos==-

Chloe glanced over to Emmerich for a moment, but Ray nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Let's check up on Kyle and Sonja; they should be okay, but like… I'm still worried about how Kyle was before." The Separatist bit his lip as he rubbed his arm for a moment. "This room especially gives me the creeps too."

Without further ado, the group made their way back toward the entrance of the warehouse. When they got there, Ray spotted the Crabrawler from before - who also noticed the group and began to try to get their attention.

"What's up?" The orange-haired trainer asked curiously, as the crab began to try to do charades to explain something. Ray seemed stumped, so Chloe just sighed.

"I think they want to join your team."

"Really?" Ray seemed surprised after how defensive the crab had been earlier, but he examined the Crabrawler, who was nodding in agreement to what Chloe said. "Well, alright; sounds good to me. You sure you don't want to stay?" There was another nod. Without waiting and potentially angering the water-type, Ray fished out a Poké Ball and then tossed it toward the Crabrawler. There were a couple shakes, but it seemed like merely a formality as the capsule clicked shut a moment later. Ray picked up the Poké Ball with a nod, then glanced to the others. "Alright, now we can go."

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-==IC: Calem/Serena==- (Collapsed Team Flare Secret Lab, Geosenge Town, Kalos, August 11, 2017, 11:52 P.M.)


“We might take you up on that. After all,” Calem said with a grin, “The less Pokémon I have to show, the better. A Champion has to keep his secrets, after all.”


Serena scoffed and shoved his shoulder. “Ex-Champion,” she reminded him. “We had to put the League on hold for this year, remember?”


“And we both know I would have won if it weren’t for that.”


“We’ll see about that, buster. Maybe I should ask Bonnie to make another run this year.”


Calem blanched. “Please no. I-I’ll be good.”


“Don’t you two use different rosters for Champion duty and day-to-day anyways?” Emily asked with a smile.


“Oh, we do,” Calem agreed. “But a lot of my Champion roster is big burly Pokémon, and--”


“Hey,” a voice called in the distance, “I think I found a way through.”


Jared held a hand up to stop the group and frowned. “That came from around that corner up there, I’m pretty sure. Who wants to take point?”

"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: Yu Changgong, Lazy Pidgey Cafe - Blackthorn City


Yu took the aged Pokegear back. "Given the nature of your position in the government, that's hardly a surprise. I've not looked into it much myself but I am aware of how important Executives are to the federal government." 

The swordsman's eyes darted to the twin dao on his old friend's back. "I assume those weapons aren't just for show, however. I'm guessing you've still made time to avoid getting rusty with those techniques, haven't you? Your affinity with the sword always outstripped everyone else at the dojo..."

Haven't seen one of these in a long time...



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IC: Jamie Arthur - Flare Lab


Jamie's eyes lit up. "Ooh. Ooh! Pick me!" Jamie called. 


She had her hand raised and she was jumping up and down. She didn't even wait for Jared to actually give her permission to take point. She just pushed Pelleas to the front of the group and started walking forward.


Pelleas wondered why she felt the need to push him forward. He could've easily walked up there himself. But he could feel the excitement from Jamie. If he had to guess, the two Champions talking about being Champions was starting to excite Jamie, and she wanted to impress them. Well, if it came to a fight, he'd be sure to make his mark. All for his darling daughter, of course. Though, the Heracross to admit he was interested in seeing how strong the Champions' Pokémon were.


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IC: Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town
Dahlia had been about to suggest sending out Marsala or Gerri to scout ahead when Jamie rather forcibly pushed a Heracross past her. "W-wait, shouldn't we think about--" Her concerns were cut short when Coco eagerly chased after the Heroine of Time, not wanting to miss out on the action. With a sigh, Dahlia rushed after her Buneary, thinking back to her training with Klim.
She certainly hoped she wouldn't have to rely on her powers to bail them out of a trap, but she wanted to be ready just in case. Steeling herself, she turned the corner.

IC: Ryan Hikari/Shannon Willows/Aori Yamamoto/Corey/??? - Goldenrod City, Johto
The rest of the day progressed without too much incident, though Ryan had to practically drag Corey away from the table at dinner that night. Despite worries that Phil might find them again to fulfill his alleged threats, there was no sign of the man. After they all woke up the next morning and everyone was ready, the new group of four headed out toward Ecruteak City. As he walked along toward the northern route, Ryan stopped for a moment and turned around, looking from side to side.

"Something the matter?" Corey asked with a curious look at Ryan's pause. The Rocket shook his head with a small frown. He turned back and began to walk again.

"Thought I saw someone familiar. Can't see them, though, so maybe it was just my imagination." Ryan explained, then chuckled. "Come on, shouldn't take too long to get to Ecruteak from here."


As the group walked off, a balding man stepped from out of an alley behind them. Well, well. Looks like the rat was telling the truth after all. Seems he decided to show his face again. Interesting. How very… interesting.


True to Ryan's words, with the proper shortcuts that Corey and Ryan both showed off to the other two, they managed to make it to Ecruteak by the middle of the day. Ryan felt super tired from the long hike, but even still, they had made it.

A sizable lump formed in Shannon's throat when she saw the city's iconic towers off in the distance. Memories of her childhood rushed back to her faster than she could process them. The distinct slope of the roofs, the sounds of traditional instruments, even the smells coming from various food stands.

“It is beautiful,” Aori said in quiet awe as she tugged on Shannon’s hand. “You lived here?”

Shannon sniffed back her tears as she smiled down at the girl. "Yes, I did. I never thought I'd see this place again. It really is beautiful, it looks just the way I remember it." Selena chose that moment to pop out of her Pokéball. The Furret squeaked in joy as she ran up and down the city streets before coming back to Shannon's side. "You miss our home too, don't you, Selena? You know, while we're here we should see some of the city's sights. There's a beautiful little water garden on the grounds of the Bell Tower, and the Dance Theater. Maybe we could even visit one of the city's shrines and offer a prayer that we find Aori's parents."

"We should eat before anything else." Corey spoke up as he glanced around for any sign of a restaurant. "I don't need to eat all that often, but I still know how bad hunger can affect things. Here, I think I see a place over here." The swordsman waved a hand as he walked over toward a place that smelled good.

As they ate lunch outside the small deli Corey pointed out, Aori suddenly bolted to her feet. “Papa!” she shouted, pointing. Sure enough, a man with long auburn hair was turning the corner, walking away from them with a sword on his hip.

Aori took off running without waiting for permission; if she didn't catch up to him now, she might lose him forever.

"Aori?" Ryan and Corey both jumped to their feet as the girl suddenly started to run without warning. The two also didn't wait for Shannon to catch up, just in case they lost sight of Aori while waiting. Ryan in particular frowned slightly - it would be great if they found Aori's father here, but if it wasn't him, then her getting lost in the process would just cause everyone much more worry.

As the adults came around the corner, Aori managed to catch up to the man. She grabbed his sleeve and tugged. He turned, surprised at the sudden feeling. Aori let her hand drop instantly and took a half-step backwards. The man blinked and crouched a bit. “Can I help you?” he asked.

By the time Ryan caught up, Aori had her face buried in her hands as sobs wracked her body. The man -- far too young to be anyone’s father -- seemed bemused by the whole situation as he tried to comfort the girl. “I’m sorry, is everything alright?”

"Aori!" Having finally caught up with the others, Shannon ran over to the girl and wrapped her up in her arms. "Don't run off like that again, you scared me half to death! What were you thinking?"

Aori buried her face in Shannon’s shoulder as she tried to muffle her sobs. “I thought--” she said before her crying overtook her again. The foremost ball on her belt opened, and Hana appeared to wrap her vines around the girl in a gentle embrace. Aori quieted to soft whimpering noises as she kept her face hidden.

Now that she was over her initial shock, Shannon gently stroked the girl's hair. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have yelled at you like that. You were just excited to find your papa, weren't you? The thing is, you can't just run off like that without telling us. What if you had gotten hurt? We care about you, Aori, and running off unexpectedly makes us worry about you. Understand?"

The girl nodded mutely, sniffling and rubbing at her eyes. “Gommen,” she said quietly. She turned quietly and bowed to the man. “Gommen,” she repeated. “I thought you were… someone else.”

“Ah, no worries,” he replied quietly, waving his hand. “Good luck. I hope you find him soon.”

As he walked off, Aori turned and hugged Shannon tightly. “I am sorry for worrying you all,” she said.

"It's alright." Corey said with a kind smile to Aori. "It's in the past now, and it worked out. I can understand why you ran off like that; not exactly in the same way, as it's more my brother and friends, but… I get it."

Footsteps sounded behind them. Shannon looked over her shoulder to see a waitress from the restaurant trying to catch her breath. "Sorry, we didn't mean to run off like that," Shannon said quickly. "We had a bit of a crisis." It was only when she met the waitress' eyes that the recognition clicked.

A wide smile grew on the woman's face. "Oh my god, Shannon! It's really you!" Her blonde hair had been tied into a bun and a pair of red-rimmed glasses now adorned her face, but the waitress was without a doubt Shannon's childhood friend.

"Lauren!" Letting go of Aori, Shannon ran over to the woman and threw her arms around her. "I can't believe it! You've grown so much!"

"Speak for yourself, Shan. It took me a while to recognize you. How've you been? What brings you back to Ecruteak? Is that your daughter? She's so adorable!"

Shannon's cheeks flushed bright red. "Wh-what? No, she's too old to be my daughter! This is Aori, she was on One Island when that attack happened the other day. We've been trying to find her parents, we think they might have been sent over to Olivine."

"Old friend, I take it?" Corey asked, as he relaxed slightly. "I thought the same thing too, though, that we were in trouble with the restaurant management for just running off like that. Friends are definitely better though." He decided to just quiet down for the moment, however, as he stepped over to the side so they could catch up.

"Everyone, this is Lauren. We went to grade school together, before I had to move to Celadon. Lauren, this is Ryan, Aori, and Corey." Shannon's mood seemed to have brightened tenfold. It was like she'd turned into a kid in a candy store, and the joyful smile on her face was refreshing to see.

"It's nice to meet you." Lauren gave the group a shy wave.

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


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IC: Jared Winters/Lachina Adaon/Emily Lockwood/Calem - Team Flare Lab, Geosenge Town, August 11th


"Jamie, wait!" Jared called as he took off after the headstrong Heroine. As they made their way down the hall, another voice could be heard.


"Through there!"


Jared cursed quietly and sped up. As they approached the turn, there was a deafening noise, grating and crashing.


Jamie was the first around the corner, and was met with a wall of rubble ten feet down. Pebbles scattered off of the wall, and dust was settling in the corridor. Jared cursed as he saw it.


"Now what?" Lachina asked. "Is this where you guys were stopped?" She looked to the Champions.

"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: Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town

"No way." Dahlia narrowed her eyes at the pebbles tumbling down from the wall. "Whoever we're after doesn't want to be followed."


"They were willing to make a cave-in, potentially trapping themselves, in order to stop us." Alex had caught up with the others. He shook his head. "Either they're really that dense, or they know of another way out. We just have to find it before they escape."


"Or . . ." Dahlia took a deep breath. "We make our own way through. Something tells me these Flare fanatics haven't heard of the Heroes of Creation." She gave Jamie a sidelong glance. "What do you say we give them a proper introduction?" Steeling herself, Dahlia extended her hands towards the mountain of rubble. "Revert back to your original form and let us through."


It was a gamble. She had already used up a lot of energy during her earlier training, and if the rubble was too thick she would only wear herself out. But if she could undo the collapse, then they would be able to catch up to their enemies and take them by surprise.


IC: Ryan Sanders - Common Room, Vertrag

"We can't just give up," Ryan said. "The Signs were supposed to help us decipher the Grimoire, right? What if we just gave the book a quick read ourselves? Together the five of us might find something Ford missed. Although first . . ."


He pulled a Pokéball from his belt, his expression growing somber.


"I need to get this Litleo healed up. Vertrag's healing machines can heal off its battle injuries, but I'd like to take it to Dendemille's Pokémon Center if possible to get it treated for any infections. My leg could use a good once-over, too." Ryan glanced at the rest of the group. "I don't know how badly injured the rest of the Pokémon you found were, but you're all welcome to come with me. Otherwise, I'd suggest start looking at the Grimoire. Who knows, maybe there's some sort of spell in there to locate the Signs' base."

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: Serena/Calem/Dahlia/Jared==-


“Hurry!” the second voice shouted. The sound of footsteps rapidly receded, and it quickly became clear that the party had been left alone in the dust.


Serena nodded at Lachina’s question. “There was a small passage before, though, just enough for someone to crawl through.” She pointed at the array of reddish-brown blemishes splashed across the corridor. “We think some people got trapped here during the collapse, but managed to dig themselves out after a while.”


“Judging by the amount of blood, they probably didn’t make it too far, though,” Calem said casually. “Probably got dragged off when Flare did their initial forays back down here.”


“Calem!” Serena smacked Calem’s shoulder. “Don’t be so glib about it! People died here!”


“Yeah, evil people.” Calem shrugged.


Serena sighed. “I don’t think we’re supposed to admit we feel that way, though.” She shook her head. “Anyway. This was where we found those Starter Pokémon before. The poor things looked half starved to death, so we had no choice but to take them back to Professor Sycamore’s lab for care.”


“The people who we’re chasing have helped us out though. They moved the rocks around a bit, so we should be able to dig through with the Pokémon on hand. Let’s get started.”


As he said it, Dahlia stepped forward and made her offer to move the stones. Calem raised an eyebrow, but stepped back to see what Dahlia would do.


It was subtle, at first, the dust raising into the air, the pebbles scattering back. A moment later, one of the rocks shifted, then another. Finally, all of the rocks suddenly scattered, rising up to reform the ceiling and the walls, revealing the hallway behind them.


Immediately after, Dahlia's vision swam and her knees buckled. Jared quickly knelt beside her and put a hand gently on her back.


"Are you okay?" he asked quietly.


IC: Flint Conley - Lazy Pidgey Cafe, Blackthron City


Flint couldn't help smiling. "Yes, I do training sessions twice a day if possible. These swords don't see actual use very often, however. If it comes to a fight, my subordinates usually handle it with their Pokémon. I haven't fought a live opponent in, oh, probably three or four months."

"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 - 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."

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


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IC: Jamie Arthur - Flare Lab 


Jamie's eyes began to widen as she saw the collapsed wall fix itself. When the deed was done, she shed a singly manly tear at the display while making the widest grin.


"I have the coolest rival ever," Jamie said. Everything from the presentation to the execution. The incredible line before she did the act. And then the follow through. She had gotten this far already. It was awe inspiring to watch. Giratina had picked its chosen hero well. Dahlia was such a natural at being a hero. Unlike her.


Pelleas looked the hallway that Dahlia had revealed. He was ready to move on, ready to take point if he was needed. But they needed to check up on Dahlia first. Jamie walked over to her fated rival.


"That was amazing," she said kneeling beside her rival. She offered the other heroine a hand if she needed it to get up. 

Edited by Metal Gear Minun


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IC: Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town

The world spun around and it was only Jared's gentle hand that kept her from collapsing on the floor. "I-I'll be fine," Dahlia managed, although she gratefully accepted Jamie's hand. "Don't worry about me, we need to chase after those guys before they get away."


"Yes, but we can't have you collapsing in the middle of the chase," Alex said with a frown. "Someone should stay back with you while the rest of us go ahead."


"I'm fine," the gardener insisted, although another step sent her knees buckling and Jared had to catch her once more. "Alright, maybe I'm not so fine. But someone needs to go now or those people will escape and all this will have been for nothing."


IC: Ryan Sanders - Common Room, Vertrag

"Sure thing." Ryan accepted the Pokéball, offering a gentle smile to the Amaura inside. "Don't worry, Beira. I'll take good care of you." He glanced over at Chloe and Ray. "Either of you have any Pokémon that need medical attention? Or if you want, you could join me for a walk in the Windy City."

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: Colleen Llyan/Olivia Seaton/Lucia Zyther - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town==-


"I agree with her, I don't think we can just afford to have people stay back right now." The girl thought for a moment, then glanced over at Olivia. "Think you can give her a lift?"


"Aura come with mind reading powers too? 'Cause ya just read mine." Olivia replied as she walked over to her sister. "Here, sis, I'll carry you until ya get your strength back."


While that was going on, Lucia gripped her Audino's Poké Ball tight, eyes nervously darting around the room, especially checking on the ceiling. She wasn't sure if she should actually be in here at this time, but it was too late to back out now. So instead, she bit her lip and continued to follow the group whenever they started to move again.


-==IC: Chloe Hikari/Ray Hakuda - Common Room, Vertrag==-


"Hmm..." Chloe looked over her team in their Poké Balls, including her new Pikipek. "Nope, Melia seems to be in pretty good health, considering everything."


Ray shook his head as well, though he thought for a moment. "The walk might be a good idea, but I don't actually need anything healed."


"Oh, that reminds me though, we never actually got around to discussing the search of the rooms we did yesterday." Chloe said as she glanced around the room. "There were a couple... uh, interesting things I found, that's for sure."


-==IC: Jenny Hakuda/Evan Tierra/Marie Homura - Boat to Olivine City==-

Jenny stretched on the deck of the ship as they neared Johto finally. She grinned, as she turned to Evan, who was nearby with Monstro.

"Alola was fun, wasn't it? But it's so good to be on the way back home!" The red-haired woman laughed at the ocean breeze. She held up her arm, the glittering Z-Ring shining in the light. "Plus, this was a cool and unexpected… reward? Well, hopefully it's nice!"

“Yeah, I’d say we had gotten what we had come for.” Evan said, grinning at the Z-Power ring he had obtained. “It was certainly a wild ride, though. Hopefully where we are going is a lot less…...insane?”

"Hopefully." Marie said with a sigh as she leaned against the rail of the ship. "I could definitely use a break after that Battle Royal. Geez, you two put on a good show." The blonde woman grinned at Evan and Jenny as she chuckled. "So, to remind me, we're headed around Johto to try and see if some more of Jenny's memories are unlocked?"

The other woman nodded with a smile. "Yep! I think I have a lot of them by now, but… I could always use more, right? After all, memories are super important?"

Marie fell quiet, but nodded. "Especially when they're all you have left of some people…" She hesitated for a moment, then awkwardly laughed. "Sorry, not the best moment for that, where are you two thinking of heading first?"

“Well, Jen-Jen here told me a little bit about her past and based on that…..”Evan said, grinning at Jenny. “We’re heading to where she went to school, which would be Ecruteak City.” The man then focused on Marie. “Hopefully we’ll make some breakthroughs there. What about you?”

"I don't really have any place in mind, really. Mahogany Town could be a cool place to check into, but other than that, I'm just a wanderer really." Marie gave a small shrug, as she stared off at the land that was quickly approaching. "With mom headed wherever she was going to, I don't really have anything to do. Plus, you two are interesting enough that I'm curious about what's gonna happen."

“Well, if it’s people you need to goof off with, you’ve definitely made the right choice!” Evan said, laughing internally at Marie’s pun. “Hopefully, Johto will be ready for us.”

"I'm not sure anywhere is, honestly." Marie said with a small smirk, but then chuckled. "With luck, though, we can make it work anyway." She stayed quiet for a moment, a contemplative look on her face. "You two said you're Plasma, then? So how did Jenny go to school in Ecruteak?"

Evan thought how to best explain that, and just decided to explain the story as best as he could remember and understand. When he finished, he took a breath and focused again. “And that’s how it is, Marie.” The man said, rubbing one of Monstro’s head fins. “Meanwhile, I’m from Sinnoh, and am a Plasma Agent only because I fought one of their Legendary Pokémon and wanted him on my team.”

"Sinnoh?" Marie's attention was caught with that one word. "What's your…" She paused, as she tried to find the right word. "I almost said connection, but I guess I'm kinda out of the ordinary for only really having a connection to this world by things from another world, huh?"

“I mean, Jenny and I are sorta connected by a creature who essentially rules over parallel worlds, so it’s not really that strange to me.” Evan said, laughing at his description of Palkia.

"Pal--" Marie stared at the two of them in shock. "How are you two connected to Palkia?"

“We’re it’s champions, in a manner of speaking.” Evan said, grinning. “We are supposed to protect the world from anything that would seek to upset the balance. There are two others like us, for Dialga and Giratina, but they are away in Kalos at the moment, so it’ll be awhile before you meet them….”

"... You're the heroes of Space…" Marie seemed to be in a mixture of shock and awe, as she simply continued to stare at Evan. She glanced between Evan and Jenny. "Which of you do I have to thank for causing Galactic so much trouble last year?"

Evan thought for a moment, and then recalled the raid he and others performed to get the Lustrous and Adamant Orbs. “That would be me.” The Hero said, not too certain what Marie was getting at. “I caused a ruckus to distract them, while my fellow Heroes stole some things of value that Giratina wanted from us.”

Marie grinned widely. "Thank you! I don't know if things would've gone the same way here, but… that kinda made it impossible for it to, so, thank you." She laughed with a smile as she leaned back. "What'd you steal, the chains? The orbs? Some research data? Their special boxed lunches? The lucky ramen of the day?"

“The Orbs. I woulda stolen the ramen, but it’s hard to steal ramen when you are basically moving around causing as much damage as possible.” Evan said, sticking his tongue out playfully at Marie.

Marie snickered in response, but nodded. "Good. In my world…" She hesitated for a moment. "In my world, Galactic got their wish. Well... partly. They summoned Dialga and Palkia despite my attempts with mom to stop them. I don't know what happened, maybe there were no heroes there. But they messed with time and space, and caused something to happen that just… broke things."

She paused. "Well. I think, at least; mom said you saw what memories she had of the incident from her perspective, but she… was hurt badly during the fight. I had to deal with the rest of it basically by myself, and honestly, we were only saved by Dialga and Palkia shifting us in time and space to another world - this world."

Evan thought for a moment. “Well, your world may have not been so lucky……..at least you and Kris survived.” The trainer said, grinning. “By the grace of of the Creation Trio, no less.”

"Yeah… I think the only saving grace was our struggle to stop them leading us to Mount Coronet - otherwise we might've ended up having whatever happened to that world happen to us."

“Yeah, that’s a relief.” Evan said, smiling at the woman. “Though with how things are, I’d say you leapt from one frying pan, to another, considering the Missing Zero is out there.”

"The what now?" Marie blinked in confusion. "Is that those alien thingies that were on the news? I think they said they were why the power is out or something? Wasn't paying much attention, Lindsey kept talking over everything at the time…"

“The reason the power is out is a complicated thing, but it’s not because of the Missing Zero is here.” Evan said helpfully. “Rather…...it’s taking advantage of the power being out, to make easy work of our world. The power is bound to come back, especially with examples of Pokémon like Monstro transforming into those souped up forms of theirs.”

"Huh, okay." Marie slowly nodded. "I'll pretend I understood most of that."

Moving from world to world from an apocalypse: Simple. Grasping that a giant jello mold is devouring the world while most Pokémon are powerless to fight it? Can’t get it. Evan thought as he smiled at Marie’s response. “Well regardless, maybe the Creation Trio thought you and your mom served a higher purpose and wanted you to be safe. Dialga brought me back to life after I got killed in battle, so it’s not out of the question.”

"Oh, yeah, pretty much what--" … "Wait." Perhaps she had heard a bit wrong. "So, like, when you say killed, you mean like, still half-alive, right?"

“Dead!” Evan said, amused at Marie’s confusion. “Deceased. Wiped from existence. Perished. Etc.”

"... How?" Marie seemed some sort of mix of emotions. She slowly moved from her otherwise permanent spot on the rails, then poked Evan's shoulder as if expecting her finger to just pass through him. It didn't. She took a couple steps back with a sigh of relief. "Hahaha, good joke there, Evan, you got me good."

Evan, amused by Marie’s actions, spoke. “Jenny knows I’ve died. She’s seen my memories of the other side. These scars?” Evan said, pointing to the many scars all over his chest. “They aren’t fake. They are what happens when a scary lightning dragon doesn’t like you very much.”

It was as if that was the first time Marie had actually seen those scars. She blinked. "Oh."

“So congrats, you’re speaking to what used to be a dead man!” Evan said, barely containing his laughter. “How does it feel? Is it spooooooky?”

"It's… something, that's for sure." Marie finally managed to say, but still looked baffled. "I'm sorry for??? Your loss??? What… what does one say in this case???"

“You congratulate them on having an extra life, I think.” The ‘Dead Man Walking’ said, grinning. “I guess I broke your world wide open, eh?.”

"Yeah, kinda…" The blonde-haired woman turned her attention to the waves with a chuckle as she tried to focus on something else after that. "Well, I guess we both got a new lease on life thanks to Sinnoh's legendary Pokémon."

“Yeah, that’s true.” The Plasma Agent said, focusing his eyes on Jenny. “Hopefully, we make the best use of it.”

A sudden blaring horn made Marie jump, and she turned around to see that they were approaching the Olivine port. "Guess we're here, huh?" She turned back to the other two with a grin. "Let's see how fast we can get to Ecruteak, then."

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IC: Jared Winters/Lachina Adaon/Emily Lockwood - Team Flare Lab, Kalos, August 11


"Alright," Jared said as he looked down the hall. "I want us to go in carefully, but strong. Jamie, could you swap Tristan for Pelleas? In case of another cave-in, a Metagross will be more useful than a Heracross. And Dahlia, I don't want you trying to use your Reverse power if we can avoid it. Maybe send out Dracos for some extra protection?"


"Should I let Aolani out?" Lachina asked quietly. Jared shook his head.


"Her wings are too wide for these hallway. Emily, you could send out Ronin if you--"


"Got it." Emily released the Scyther quickly, nodding.


Jared took a deep breath. "Jamie, you stay on point, but go slow and stick close to us. Don't rush off." He paused, casting one last look around. "And can someone tell Zoe that we know she's following us?"


IC: Shannon Willows/Ryan Hikari/Aori Yamamoto/Corey/Lauren - Ecruteak City


The group finished and paid for their lunch while Lauren finished her shift. Then the five of them walked together as Shannon and Lauren caught up. The two friends chatted as if they were children again, exchanging fond memories and laughing at the most inane things. "Oh, you have to come by the Bell Tower!" Lauren cried, taking hold of Shannon's arm and leading the group down a side street. "I've heard Caroline works there as a tour guide or something. She'll be so happy to see you again!"


And so the group found themselves at the grounds of Ecruteak's most sacred monument. From far away, one might expect the towering pagoda was all there was to the Bell Tower, but the grounds stretched for a few dozen acres around the site, full of historical museums, gift shops, nature walks, and gardens. They found Caroline next to a trickling pool, explaining to a group of tourists how the Legendary Ho-Oh was thought to have blessed the waters at the foot of his tower, prompting the ancient townsfolk to cast offerings of coins into the pool. "Nowadays we have a small section cordoned off for donations so the local Pokémon don't accidentally swallow the coins." The short bob Caroline had sported in her younger years had been shaved down to a tight-curled, somewhat messy pixie cut. A Chimecho floated at her side, its clear ringing in time with Caroline's well-rehearsed speech.


Ryan glanced back to Shannon and her friend as he listened to the tour. "She's pretty good, that's a good method of keeping interest, having the Chimecho have a constant sound to not seem like she's droning on."


Shannon simply smiled in response, not wanting to miss what Caroline had to say.


Lauren, Shannon, and the others hung at the back of the group until the tour was finished. As people started filing out, they approached the brown-haired girl. "Hey there, stranger!" Lauren called out with a wave.


Caroline stifled a gasp but couldn't hide her surprise. "Lauren? Shannon?! What are you two doing here? It's been years!" At her side, the evolved Patapan filled the air with cheerful tones.


Corey smiled wistfully at the sight of the girls' reunion. "Hey, Ryan, let's take Aori over here to check out the rest of the place; I think they need some space to catch up." Without waiting for a response, the blonde-haired man headed over toward the trees to look at them a little closer.


Ryan and Corey kept an eye on Aori as the trio of girls sat next to the pond. Selena scampered around as she played with Patapan and Lauren's Poliwhirl, Irene. Shannon glanced between her friends with a wry smile. "I know you haven't seen me in a while, but I would've thought the two of you at least would've kept in contact."


The girls' faces suddenly grew solemn. "We . . . sort of fell apart shortly after you left," Lauren said quietly.


"Not that it was your fault or anything," Caroline quickly chimed in. "There was a Liberty attack that got out of hand. Lots of buildings were damaged and a lot of people got hurt. We were all okay, but Hannah saw your parents among the Liberty soldiers." Shannon cast her eyes to the ground. Before she could say anything, Caroline continued. "It took all of us by surprise, but I think Hannah took it harder than any of us. Shortly afterwards she enlisted in Team Rocket, and we never heard from her since."


"That was around the time Alice and Caroline graduated middle school," Lauren said. "With Hannah gone, I didn't really have any friends in my year. I ended up going to a different high school than them, where I made some new friends. Now I work over at that deli on the south side of the city." For the first time the girl's confident demeanor broke and Shannon caught a glimpse the shy, timid Lauren she knew from grade school. "I know it's not much, but it's enough to pay the bills and I really love serving customers."


"Hey, don't sweat it." Caroline smiled wistfully. "My parents wanted me to go to college like Alice, but instead I got a job here at the tower. I mean, what's the point of studying history when I learn so much of it working here? Ecruteak has always been my home, and I wouldn't trade it for the world."


"Alice went to college?" Shannon asked. It was hard to believe that out of all of them, the brash, troublemaking leader of their group was the only one who had continued her studies.


"Yeah, she went to a university in Lilycove to study ecology." Caroline flashed a grin as she pulled out her phone and searched for a recent picture. "I keep telling her she should switch her major to fashion design."


If Shannon didn't know the girl in the picture was supposed to be Alice, she wouldn't have recognized her. Her hair had been dyed a bright magenta, the sides of her head closely shaven while her bangs extended past one eye. An Umbreon hung from her shoulder as she laughed up at the camera. "That's . . . definitely a fashion statement of some sort." Shannon balked. "When did she turn all punk rock?"


"Oh, that's a leftover from her days as a drummer in a high school rock band, but it came back in full force when she left for college." Caroline suddenly grabbed Shannon's arm. "Actually, Alice is coming home this weekend for the summer festival. How long are you staying in Ecruteak? It'd be great if we could all get together again. Well, everyone but Hannah."


Shannon grew quiet. "We probably can't stay long, we're on our way to Olivine to look for Aori's parents. About Hannah, though . . . I actually saw her not too long ago." She briefly described the attack on Celadon.


"That is so messed up," Caroline said, clenching a fist. "How could she blame you for what your parents and the rest of Team Liberty did?"


"We should have been there for her more," Lauren said as she stared into the clear waters of the pool. "Maybe if I had done more to help, she wouldn't have . . ."


Shannon placed a hand on her friend's knee. "Hey. Hannah made her choice. I went through the same thing, wishing I had been a better friend or reached out to you all more after I'd left. But in the end, we can't blame ourselves for someone else's decision."


As Lauren wiped a tear from her eye, Caroline leaned close to Shannon. "So who's the lucky guy?" she asked with a coy smile, batting an eye towards Ryan and Corey. "And is the other one available?"


Shannon flushed. "It's not like that!"


Sensing her prey was within grasp, Caroline went for the kill. "Oh, so you won't mind if Lauren and I take them on a double date, then?"


There was a loud splash as Shannon knocked Caroline into the pool.


"Everyone okay?" Corey asked with a frown as he suddenly showed up nearby. "I heard a splash, and--" The trainer stopped suddenly, as he saw approximately what happened as Caroline began to climb back out of the pool. "... okay, nevermind, I'm guessing it was just… whatever happened there." He scratched his head for a second or two more, his imagination starting to go wild about why Caroline had ended up in the pool to begin with, but he began to turn around. He paused when he glanced at Lauren, however.


"Hm." Corey placed his hand to his mouth with a contemplative look on his face, then walked up toward the blonde-haired girl. "Say, just a curious question, no need to answer if this is too out of nowhere, but you wouldn't happen to know a "Yuki", would you?" He asked Lauren with a curious tone, as if trying to place something.


Not wanting to get caught up in Shannon and Caroline's antics, Lauren turned her attention to Corey and pondered his question. "There was a Yuki in my class in grade school, but I didn't know her too well." Her head tilted to the side as she studied Corey curiously. "Yuki's not that unusual of a name around Ecruteak, so it might not even be the Yuki you're thinking about. Why do you ask?"


"Ah, no real reason. It's been a while since I've seen her. How about a Kazuma?"


The waitress' eyes narrowed. "If I remember right, he and Yuki hung out together a lot. Do I . . . know you from somewhere?"


"Ah," Corey shook his head as he put it down. "No, uh, they just mentioned you sometimes, or someone who looked like you, so I just wanted to check, you know?"


"Uh huh." Lauren crossed her arms and regarded the man with a fair amount of skepticism. "Yuki and Kazuma didn't know me any more than I knew them. We were classmates, but that was a good ten to fifteen years ago. I spent most of my time hanging out with Hannah and her friends." She paused for a moment. "What did they have to say about me?"


"Well, can't say I recall everything since it would've been that long ago that I heard anything, but like, mostly it was Yuki talking, and mostly just things like "Oh, there's this nice girl, but she's a bit quiet, but she seems nice!" and things like that." A small smile made its way onto Corey's face as he gave the explanation.


Lauren chewed her lip. "How long have you known the two of them, exactly?"


Before Corey could answer, Shannon approached the pair with a sopping Caroline. "What're you two talking about?" the blonde-haired girl asked curiously.


"Ah, nothing much." Corey said with a laugh as he waved his hand. "Just asked about something." He glanced over to Lauren with a slight pause. "A while, mostly through Kazuma. I used to live over there." Corey gave a slight vague motion to the west for a second. "I should go check on Ryan and Aori, make sure they haven't gotten into trouble." With that, the blonde-haired man walked off, leaving a very confused Lauren.

"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: Zoe Llyan/Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town

All eyes turned on Zoe. The girl had been peering out from around the corner to see the Heroine of Reverse in action, although she wasn't sure if her overt gawking or Jared's ability to sense her aura was to blame for her shocking yet inevitable discovery. She instinctively ducked behind the corner, silently assuring herself nobody had seen her. That claim was rebuked in a matter of moments as Collie poked her head around the corner, a disapproving frown evident on her face.


"I-I'm not Zoe!" the girl quickly stammered. "I'm just a Ditto who transformed into your friend to follow you! But, um, not a Flare Ditto. No, I'm just a normal, innocent, inconspicuous wild Ditto who happened to get her powers back."


Collie was not buying it.


"Alright, I'm sorry." Zoe hung her head as she approached the rest of the group. "I just couldn't stay back while the rest of you saved the world. I mean, what if the Flare spies doubled back and kidnapped me while you all were out investigating this place? It's safer with you guys."


"Safer than trailing behind us unseen," Alex muttered. "Either way, you're here now. So you might as well stick with us."


Dahlia didn't seem to pay much attention to Zoe, instead focused on sending out her Dragonair. Dracos slithered around the gardener, providing extra support to lighten Olivia's load. Coco and Nutmeg continued to huddle at their trainer's side, anxiously peering down the hallway. "Are we ready?" Dahlia asked in a small voice.


IC: Ryan Sanders - Streets, Dendemille Town

Ryan and Ray had already left the common room by the time Chloe brought up the investigation of the Children's rooms. Oblivious to whatever discussion might be going on inside the mobile base, the pair emerged on the hillside at the edge of Dendemille Town. Not wanting to draw attention to themselves, they discreetly picked their way down to the main hub of the town. People bustled back and forth, blissfully ignorant to the horrific poaching ring that until recently had operated just a few miles away from the comfort of their homes.


"It reminds me a bit of Unova," Ryan said as they passed by a middle-aged man carrying his son alongside a Pancham who rested comfortably on the shoulders of a Pangoro. "Just like the Unovans didn't know about our war, these people have no idea what Shift's been doing under their noses. How could nobody have noticed? If they knew what was going on, there's no way the townspeople would allow this trafficking to continue. Right?"

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: Jamie Arthur - Flare Lab


Pelleas seemed a little miffed at the insinuation that Tristan could dig his way out of a hole quicker than he could. Only slightly, though. His daughter on the other hand, seemed a bit more miffed that at the idea that Pelleas wouldn't be able to handle the job of digging them out of a cave-in quickly. But Tristan would be the better shield for protecting people if the lab did collapse. So she pulled out her bag.


"I think you are underestimating how strong Pelleas is," Jamie said, grumbling. She pulled out two Poké Balls and tossed them to the ground. Tristan and Lucan popped out of their respective containers.


Lucan wasn't strictly necessary, but she always felt braver when the Vanilluxe was out. And Jamie wanted to be ready if they were about to get into a fight. Jamie took a look at the other Pokemon the other trainers sent out. Her eyes stopped on Ronin for a moment. Seeing the Scyther brought to mind a younger Lancelot for a moment. Honestly, she'd love it if Uncle Lance and Guin were there too. They'd be invincible if they had those two with them. But they didn't, and there wasn't much point on dwelling on it longer.


"Okay!" Jamie said, snapping out of it. "Let's charge!" she yelled, running in place briefly to satisfy her urge to rush ahead of the group, but then slowly walking forward with Tristan in the lead, flanked by Pelleas and Lucan.


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-==IC: Serena/Calem==- (Collapsed Team Flare Secret Lab, Geosenge Town, Kalos, August 12, 2017)


It took the group some time to regain their bearings, the others’ footsteps echoing disorientingly through the lab’s many dead ends, some planned, some not. After a few minutes, the footsteps faded entirely, leaving the group to their own devices for navigation.


Fortunately, two of their number had been here before, even if their information was a decade out of date. “Oh! I know where we are!” Serena exclaimed. “Look!”


Before them stood a pair of great sliding doors, heavy riveted metal several inches thick… twisted and torn like so much tinfoil. Beyond, in the darkness, lay a pedestal blackened and warped nearly beyond recognition, surrounded by dangling cables that seemed to have been ripped apart.


“We spent ages trying to get through this door,” Serena explained, “but in the end we decided to concentrate on taking down Lysandre. When we made our escape, whatever they’d kept in here had already broken free and set off all the explosions. We never saw what it was, but we think it must have been one of Kalos’ Legendary Pokémon.”


“Sure would’ve been nice,” Calem said wistfully. “Imagine capturing the Guardians of Life and Death and taking them into the final confrontation.”


“Yeah,” Serena teased, “and then Lysandre would have Mega Evolved his Gyarados or something and made it an even fight.”


“Pffft, nah,” Calem said as he nudged his friend. “Mega Evo wasn’t even discovered until last week!”


“True. If the rumors are true, Mega Evolution requires a strong bond between Trainer and Pokémon. I don’t think Lysandre could ever really care about anything but himself.”


“Lucky for us. He was problematic enough without having actual friends backing him up during a fight.” He paused, frowning. “Hey, you guys go on ahead, I just thought of something. I’m gonna go investigate somewhere else, alright?”


The Champion’s countenance grew grave. “Good idea,” she said. ”Be safe.”


Calem nodded coolly. “I will.”


The group pressed on.


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 - 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.




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."






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.

Edited by Parugi

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


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-==IC: Gold Team - Team Flare Lab, Geosenge Town, Kalos, August 12==-


The darkness loomed in the containment room like a living thing, the dangling cables and twisted metal seeming like something out of a horror film. Three thick cables ran from the base of the ex-pedestal to the three walls of the room; the rear wall seemed intact, with the right having a few small holes but nothing large enough to pass through, leaving the largely collapsed left wall the only passable route.


The room through that wall, by contrast, was smaller but much lighter, a collapsed shaft in the ceiling bathing the room in dim moonlight. Shards of shattered glass glittered in the light, the remnants of what looked to have been some sort of large glass chamber in the room’s center. A blackened, warped emitter dish hung ominously above the empty space, the strange device somehow having twisted backward upon itself before curling from its own intense heat. Many of the computer consoles along the walls were similarly scorched, enough intact parts remaining for a single unit solely by virtue of the sheer number of stations. A half-demolished door next to a hole in the crumbling back wall beckoned the group onward, as did the quintet of clearly-visible footprints that had crushed the shards beneath into a fine powder.


Through the door was a room with consoles along the walls, scorched and smashed to varying degrees. In the back of the room was a set of glass tubes, most of them shattered and leaking some pale green liquid. From the tubes, a conveyor belt led through several unfamiliar machines to a small hole in the wall.


Jared gestured them through. As the group fanned out through the room, the machines around them blinked to life. Mechanical arms appeared and shot out with scalpels and syringes. Quicker than the blink of an eye, they had reached out and scraped Tristan and Dracos before retreating. A nearby monitor blinked from red to green.


Jared scowled. “Samples complete. Samples for what?” As he said it, the vats at the end of the room began bubbling. An eerie pale-pinkish substance fizzed inside them, the nozzle above each injecting a different ribbon of colored liquid inside; a shimmering bluish-indigo for one, and a clear crystalline blue into the other. The conveyor belts beneath each vat chugged to life, moving the vats to a boxlike station where they were irradiated with intense light and heat, the indigo ribbon emerging magenta in a sea of purple while the other came out a steely silver in a much brighter pink solution. The next station locked some sort of cover over the top of the vats, before draining them into opaque tanks overhead.


Across the room, another machine lit up. What had at first appeared to be opaque glass panels suddenly lit from behind, their contents obscured by some sort of semitransparent mould. The sickly green goo they’d seen on the floor oozed into the mould from above, slowly forming a large ovoid shape. Once half-filled, the flow paused, a different needle descending to inject the liquid slurry from before into the center. The flow resumed afterward, finishing the formation of the eggs.


The conveyor moved the glass boxes sideways, through what looked to be another irradiation station of some kind; the eggs visibly solidified, the color slowly leaching away into an unnatural off-white that lacked any kind of visible pattern. The boxes next moved along a different conveyor to a station in the middle of the room, coiling wires trailing to the giant generator-looking machine on the right-hand wall. The green light on the station suddenly flashed red, however, as sparks cascaded from the generator’s lower half, a few melting holes right through the glass before extinguishing themselves against the eggshells. A cursory examination revealed the problem: a metal rod of some kind had been inserted into the machinery, and had partially melted, fusing several components together. A small, familiar-looking canister perched haphazardly atop the generator and patched carelessly into it wobbled precariously, a tiny capacity light going from blinking orange to solid red.


A bar shifted on the conveyor belt, opening the path to the stations leading to the alcove, but halfway down the path the conveyor finally quit entirely, the motors chugging and dying with a cough of black smoke. Emily hummed. “Subjects rejected. Incinerator activating. Well, that’s just a waste.” She hurried over to the belt and picked up the two eggs. “I’ll just hold onto these for the time being, shall I?”


"How come you get all the loot?" Zoe walked up to the Performer with a frown. "You should at least share them with someone else. Since there's not enough to go around, I'll volunteer myself to take this humble burden. After all, I think I might as well get something for going through all the trouble of following you down here."


Emily chuckled. “You’re right. Here.” She carefully handed the younger girl one of the eggs. “Since neither of us are likely to be fighting directly, it’s an excellent idea for us to be the ones holding onto them.”


Zoe accepted the egg with barely concealed surprise. "Well that was easy," she muttered under her breath as she carefully tucked the egg in her bag.


The sound of sobbing began to echo through the lab from the room beyond. Jared frowned, pointing towards the source of the sound. “There. Let’s move.”

Edited by MELON LORD

"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: Gold Team - Team Flare Lab, Geosenge Town, Kalos, August 12==-



The next room the group entered was very different from the previous two. It was furnished, for one, and the tiled floor had been replaced with a short, rough dark gray carpet tile. The walls here were painted a pale orange, and there was even a set of four screens arranged like a paned window. There the hominess stopped, however; the two beds were small and firm, the fabric of the plain white sheets likely rough even when they were new. There were no blankets. The beds were placed symmetrically, linked only by a small half-rotted bookcase and the rusting frame of what used to be a folding paper room divider. A tiny shelf sat above each bed, each holding a simple battery-operated alarm clock (both broken) and one with a simple bedside lamp (also broken).


The room had obviously been disturbed by the intruders. One bed lay messy and rumpled, the dust also disturbed as if someone had stat atop it, and the drawers had been opened and rummaged through, women’s Flare uniforms of slightly different sizes hanging haphazardly out of their drawers. The rusted frame of what was once a folding paper room divider did little to hide the mess, nor the sparsely-filled bookcase on one side. The nearer side of said bookcase held only two books, but they were of immediate note: one a thick, military-looking manual proudly bearing a stylized icon of flame that was clearly Team Flare’s insignia, and the other a smaller three-ring binder next to it bearing a smaller version of the insignia above a different logo shaped somewhat like a dumbbell. Inside lay a litany of scientific reports, some bearing Lysandre’s name and others that of Dr. Xerosic, but every last one bore one name in common: Dr. Alderson. Many of them were related to the study of some kind of unusual energy source, but the latter papers began to shift from general usage to specific application, with mention of uses in the manipulation of life itself. Unfortunately, this copy of the book had been damaged, with the last few pages torn out and taken away.


Of course, with so much to take in, no one had noticed the sound of crying had suddenly stopped. As Serena shifted a step backward towards the room’s lone black wall, she stumbled and trod upon something, the sound of glass shards crunching underfoot.


“Someone’s here,” someone said.


There was the sound of several Pokéballs opening.


“Sic ‘em,” came a hoarse, feminine voice.


A myriad of indistinct blurs shot out of the darkness, poised for attack.


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: Chloe Hikari -- Vertrag==-


Chloe had a curious look on her face as she studied the photo and nodded at the notion that the people looked extremely similar to Seth. Even so, she stayed quiet at the mentions of Seth being dead and the Sinjoh Ruins with a slightly uncomfortable look on her face. "I thought he was too." She finally managed to say, though there was a bit of awkwardness mixed in as well. "I don't remember Evan or anyone saying he had a twin or a brother either, so what could this mean...?"


-==IC: Ray Hakuda -- Dendemille Town==-


Ray glanced to the side as he bit his lip. "I wanna agree, but if the Signs and Shift are as dangerous as Kyle and everyone says - and as it seems like they were from what happened back on Four Island... would they have actually wanted to step in? And that's even if people knew - if things were kept under wraps enough, then it's possible no-one had a clue."


-==IC: Shannon Willows/Ryan Hikari/Aori Yamamoto/Corey - Hotel, Ecruteak City==-

"Well… that was definitely an exciting day…" Corey said with a sigh, as he collapsed into a chair in the dining hall of the hotel they'd picked. "I'm starving though, what're we eating?"

"I thought you said you didn't need to eat much?" Ryan asked with a raised eyebrow. The sword-wielder's face flushed a deep red as he tapped his free finger against the table.

"Just because I can go without eating for a while doesn't mean I don't need to eat." Corey huffed as he turned his head up. His stomach growling made an entirely different case from what he'd said at lunch time. "... or maybe I meant that I need to because I can't eat often…" The vigilante added quietly, as he sank further into the chair.

Shannon watched the blonde haired man in amusement. "Well, feel free to eat as much as you need. We won't judge. Speaking of which . . ." She leaned into the table, fingers pressed together as she debated how to phrase her next words. "I wanted to apologize for yesterday, Corey. I feel like we got off on the wrong foot."

"Ah, no worries." Corey said with a wave of his good hand. "I… definitely see why it happened, but yeah, there were more than a few things that I did wrong during that first conversation." He sighed as he glanced up to the ceiling, as if leaving some things unsaid. Ryan glanced over at the two as this was going on and decided that this was a very good time to go order food.

"Well I did a number of things wrong too," Shannon said seriously. "Like jumping to conclusions about you. Lauren told me you knew some of her classmates, and she was surprised when I told her you were old friends with Ryan. So why don't we start over?" The girl extended a hand across the table. "I'm Shannon Willows, and I grew up in Ecruteak until the middle of 9th grade when my parents made me move to Celadon. I've lived there ever since, up until the attack a few weeks ago. That was where I met Ryan, although I also knew of him from grade school; he was a year above me. What about you?"

Corey bit his lip for a moment, but then smiled as he shook her hand. "Corey Bouchard." He said with a quieter voice, then smiled more as he went back to his normal volume. "I might as well have grown up around Ecruteak, though my hometown technically was Mahogany. There's some things I haven't actually said, though Ryan knows a lot of it." The vigilante glanced to the side distantly, however.

"Can't say I really stayed around Ecruteak too long, though, Goldenrod's basically turned into my real home. Been on my own for a few years now." Corey closed one eye as he looked back. "I knew Ryan through Chloe, though; even though I barely knew her as that, she settled on that name like the last couple months before…" He chewed his lip. "Well, before she pretty much vanished off the face of the earth. Though I think I've caught a few glimpses of her here and there, but…"

He frowned slightly, as he laughed in a slightly confused manner. "Why am I saying all this…? Has being back here lowered my guard that much?" Corey mumbled half under his breath as he seemed legitimately uncertain.

Shannon leaned back in her seat. "If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine," she said. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. It just sort of helps to know a little bit about the people you're travelling with. Something we evidently didn't do with Phil."

Corey shook his head. "No, it's fine, I get it. It's just…" He chewed on his lip for a moment. "I just don't completely get why I feel so comfortable so quickly." The man took a deep breath. "Okay, maybe this is a good thing somehow. Plus, you're right, getting to know people is a good thing; is there anything you wanna know?"

"Hm . . ." Shannon thought back to their first encounter in Goldenrod. "You pretty much agreed to join us without question, even though we're travelling across the region. Isn't anyone going to miss you in Goldenrod? Family? Employer? Significant other?"

"None of the above." Corey shrugged slightly. "Well, maybe my "family" that I help keep together, but I'm sure that Nikki can help with making sure nothing goes badly there." He glanced up to the ceiling. "Really, I'm a nobody though. Kinda by choice in some ways, I've needed to be at times. No girlfriend or boyfriend, no actual family or employer, just a person trying to take down a criminal organization."


Corey nodded in response to that.

Shannon leaned across the table. "And why, may I ask, is a nobody like you trying to take down Cipher? You wouldn't be risking your life like that if you didn't have a reason."

"I…" Corey tapped his finger on the table. "They took my life away from me. Well, not just them, but my father too, but… I feel like they're most to blame. Plus, when I first got away, they were trying to do something and I think I would've been in danger if I hadn't gotten away."

A deep empathy permeated Shannon's eyes. "You didn't have the best relationship with your father either, did you?" she asked quietly.

"That is a complete understatement." Corey chuckled despite the mood. "I'm not sure what happened with you, but, well, let's just say that my brother didn't get the medical care he needed, I was pushed to be the best no matter what, I was torn away from my best friends, and all for no reason because…" He shook his head. "It's not all bad, though, I got to meet some friends and help save some of them, which wouldn't have happened if I hadn't run away so many years ago. Protip, though, running away sucks."

"I was torn away from my best friends too, all because my parents will do whatever those Liberty rebels tell them to do." Shannon lowered her gaze as she smiled bitterly. "There were several times I thought about running away, but I was never brave enough to actually do it."

Corey stayed quiet for a few moments. "Hmm…" He shook his head after a little bit. "Oh, by the way… you can refer to me in any way you want."

"Okaaay . . ." Shannon gave him a blank look.

Corey paused for a moment at the confused look. "Oh, right, that probably came out of nowhere. I'm non-binary; preference is 'they' usually when I'm not in deep cover, but like…"

Realization dawned on Shannon's face. "Oh, you were talking about pronouns." She smiled at the trainer. "No problem."

Corey gave a grin as they gave a thumbs up. They turned their head as Ryan walked back to the table.

"... So, what'd I miss?"

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IC: Jamie Arthur - Flare Lab


Tristan felt a piece of a scalpel chip off him, and syringe break apart as it smashed into him. Jamie, her dads, and Lucan all barely had time to react when the remains of the devices retreated back whence they came. When the machine began to start up, Pelleas winged over to the vats. Something about it began to stir memories in the Heracross's head. His eyes went (pardon the pun) bug-eyed for a moment, before he turned to Tristan.


["Does this remind you of-?"]


Tristan and the others hurried over at the Heracross's buzzing. Tristan's eyes went wide too when he heard Pelleas's words. This machine couldn't possibly be...


Jamie looked confused, glancing between both of her dads who seemed to understand the situation better than her. When the eggs began to form, gears began to turn in both of their heads.


["Did one of those eggs, come from my DNA?"] Tristan uttered, pointing one foreleg from himself and then at the eggs.


Jamie was having flashbacks at the moment, of her own early life. Some of the first things she saw in life reminded her of what was seeing right then. So When Tristan began to point at the eggs, she instantly leaped to a conclusion. If that egg, came from Tristan. And Tristan was her dad. Wait, did that mean she was a big sister now?!


Jamie was about to run over to get the eggs from the belt, when Emily scooped them up. She breathed a sigh of relief until Emily handed one of the eggs to the Rocket hater. It was bad enough thinking that she'd spread anti-Rocket propaganda to her baby brother. But then Zoe's words from right before Emily handed her the egg processed through Jamie's mind.


"LOOT?!" Jamie yelled, her face contorted with rage. "Hold up. Hold up! Why are we you letting you hold my baby brother?!"


"Jamie!" Lucia cut in with a frown, as she stepped in between Jamie and Zoe. She wasn't quite sure about what had all just happened, but had a guess from Jamie's reaction and everything that had just happened, but... now was not the time or place. She shook her head at Jamie, as she held her hands out to both Jamie and Zoe - preemptively cutting off a reply from the young girl. "Not now. I agree that word choice isn't great, but can we do this when like... we're not in a falling-apart secret lab?"


Jamie was about to respond when Jared told them to move. She scowled at Zoe for a moment, but nodded.


"We're not done talking about this," she said turning away. She needed to hit something.




A few moments later, fate provided. The first two opponents were a Metang and a Sneasel, so she decided she would go after them first. She saw a familiar Dedenne going along with them. She smiled in the knowledge it was just a spontaneous random battle. She made a quick wave to the Dedenne before turning back to her opponents.


"Pelleas, hop on top of Tristan! Tristan, engage the Metang. Lucan, time to fight the Sneasel!"


Pelleas flew up to Tristan's back as Metagross moved to punch the Metang. If he could capture the Metang's attention, Pelleas would be able to get some free shots in. Lucan had less of a plan. He whimpered slowly towards the Sneasel. He really wasn't quite sure how he'd deal with the opponent if the Sneasel turned out to be faster. He would try though. But he'd wait for the Sneasel to make a move.




IC: Lohe Mahina - Four Island - August 12th, Morning


Lohe was sitting in the forest next to a new friend he made. He hadn’t gotten his name, and he was currently taking a nap right now so Lohe could do as vampires do. He had gotten a more stable source of blood, but it was better to conserve. A few people getting scrapes here and there was a lot less noticeable than an entire blood bank running out of stock. And if somebody happened to be wandering the forest in the morning and it was a particularly shady area of the forest where he could still use his powers, well, don’t turn down a free meal. When he had gotten his fill, he continued to sit there for a bit, thinking about his predicament. He still needed to get out of Four Island for a little bit, but where would he go?


His phone began to beep. The caller was someone… troublesome. But also convenient.


“You’ve reached Lohe Mahina,” he said.


“Lohe!  How are you, you old bloodsucker?”


Lohe smiled at that description. He was both of those things. But as for how he was doing? “Oh, just hanging out with… uh… Frank, here. Should I ask why you’re calling me?”


“I believe I have something that would attract your interest.  We -- the Professor and I -- are on to something big. A lucrative Alolan government contract would go a long way towards making it a reality.  It would be… imprudent to discuss the details over the phone, however. We’ve had… concerns about… privacy, recently. Can you come to Kalos in person?”




The raised eyebrow on the other end was practically audible.  “I’m surprised. No hints, no goading needed? You’re not normally one to jump right to the main course -- here I was all geared up for an award-winning performance, and now I learn my natural drama isn’t needed at all?”


Lohe stood up, picked up the staff that was leaning on the tree. “Nope. Is now a good time? As in, I hop on the first flight to Kalos and see it as soon as possible?”


“That would be ideal.  We’re scheduled to stay in Geosenge for at least the next week, but if I arrange things properly I might be able to pick you up in Lumiose on the morning of the thirteenth.”


“Okay, I’ll see you soon,” Lohe said, hanging up on Lionel. “Well Frank, I trust you’ll take care of things here,” he said to the sleeping man. The vampire applied a bandage to his meal, patted his head, and began to walk away. The sleeping man would wake up in a few minutes, little worse for wear. Lohe had to begin packing if he was gonna get on the first flight off of this rock.

Edited by Metal Gear Minun


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IC: Jared Winters/Lachina Adaon/Emily Lockwood - Team Flare Lab, Geosenge Town, August 12


The Metang caught Tristan's fist and made a noise of approval. ["You're strong!"] Before Pelleas' plan could be enacted, a Dragonair flew from the back to join in the fray.


Jared scowled. Jamie seemed to be handling things in here. As he was heading towards the other room, though, a large orange form jumped through the doorway and slammed into him. He fell back, crying out as he instinctively released an aura sphere at his attacker.


Lachina was rushing forward, unclipping Aolani's ball from her belt, when a pair of hands snaked out of her shadow and tripped her. A cackling Gengar rose from the floor, towering at six feet tall.


Emily cursed. "Ronin, go help!" The Scyther flew in, blades flashing.


IC: Ryan Hikari/Corey Bouchard/Aori Yamamoto/Shannon Willows/Lauren/Caroline/Alice - Festival, Ecruteak City



The city became alive with the summer festival. Merchants set up shops, children begged their parents to take them to the fun attractions, and decorations lined the streets. The closer to the city's center, the more crowded the festivities became. It was here that the group met up with Lauren and the others.


At Shannon's insistence, the four of them had rented yukatas from a nearby shop before meeting Shannon's friends. "We've got to get in the festival spirit," she claimed.


Caroline was already waiting for them next to the dance theater, dressed in a light kimono. Her Chimecho bobbed up and down alongside her. Lauren ran up to them wearing shorts and a simple t-shirt, her hair pulled into a ponytail. "Looks like I missed the memo about dressing up," she said sheepishly.


"Don't worry about it." Caroline waved a dismissive hand. "You'll probably be the most comfortable out of any of us." Corey mumbled a nearly inaudible agreement, as they kept looking around as if danger was right around the corner. "Anyway, Alice should be here any minute."


Right on cue, a young woman turned the corner, greeting the group with a wave. Alice's getup was even less formal than Lauren's. Her dark blue tank top and ripped jeans made her look like she had just walked out of an alley in Castelia. Her magenta hair fell over one eye, although the intimidating look was broken by the warm smile she wore. "Shannon! Lauren! It feels like it's been forever! We've almost got the whole gang back together."


Shannon quickly introduced Ryan, Corey, and Aori, defensively warding off any implication that she was related to any of them in any fashion. Her reaction earned a laugh from Alice.


"Girl, those three could be your long lost brothers for all I care. They're friends of you, so they're friends of me. That's all that matters." The woman knelt down next to Aori, who was quietly hugging Yuri. "That's a cute Eevee you got there, kid. I had an Eevee once myself. Come over here, Aurora." At Alice's call, an Umbreon came up from behind her, purring lightly as she stroked its silky fur. "She's a real sweetheart, I can tell you that. So, you excited about the festival, kiddo?"


Aori held Yuri out to greet the Umbreon and smiled. “I am!” she said happily. “I wish that I had my own yukata and not a borrowed one, though.” She tugged on the fine article of clothing, humming a bit. “My mama made me one with gold leaves that sparkled in the light.” A sad look crossed the girl’s face, but was quickly replaced with a fairly-forced smile. “This festival is so much bigger than the ones at home, though.”


A proud look crossed Alice's face. "Of course. Ecruteak's got the best festivals around. You be sure to have lots of fun today so you can tell your mama all about it when you see her again, okay?" She stood up and addressed the rest of the group. "So, where to first?"

"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 - Streets, Dendemille Town
"That's a good point." Ryan scanned the streets with a contemplative look. "There was a time when I would've just kept my head down and pretended not to notice. I guess I've been hanging around Evan too much; his heroism is starting to rub off on me." Ryan cracked a smile. "Sometimes I forget that most people aren't the type to go around saving the world in a teleporting base."
It was then that Ryan spotted the familiar red roof of the Pokémon Center. He led the way into the building, which thankfully wasn't too crowded. Placing the Litleo and Amarua's Pokéballs on the counter, Ryan gave the receptionist a brief explanation about how they'd found the pair of injured Pokémon. The nurse didn't ask too many questions, much to Ryan's relief.
Once the Pokémon had been taken back for examination, Ryan wandered around the lobby, finding himself drawn to a large map of the region printed on the wall. "It still doesn't feel like we're in Kalos," he muttered to Ray, letting the thought sink in. "Everything happened so fast, it's just hard to believe we're really here."
IC: Zoe Llyan/Dahlia Seaton/Alex Lockwood - Flare Lab, Geosenge Town
Zoe had no idea why Jamie was calling the pale egg her brother, but she could tell the Rocket girl was very angry with her. She shrunk back into a corner as the scary lady walked into the next room. It took all of Zoe's effort not to cry in front of the group; that wouldn't be very warrior-like, after all. Emily ushered her into the next room, but she stayed at the back of the group, putting as much distance as she could between herself and Jamie.
That was when the fight broke out. Under normal circumstances, Zoe would have been happy to join the battle. With Jamie voraciously calling out attacks, however, a strange feeling lying somewhere between guilt and fear drained Zoe of her fighting spirit. Instead she cowered in the corner, too petrified to move.
Dahlia felt similarly drained, but for a different reason. She hadn't been quick enough to react to the mechanical arm that had attacked -- or 'sampled' -- Dracos, and now she found herself in the middle of yet another battle, unable to call upon her Reverse powers to help. She wasn't sure if she even had the energy to command her Pokémon.
Dracos, Coco, and Nutmeg quickly assessed their trainer's situation and formed their own strategy. While the rest of the group met their mysterious attackers head-on, Dahlia's Pokémon chose to remain on the defensive. Coco turned to the assorted trainers and motioned for them all to back up. Dracos slithered in front of the group to act as a barrier, keeping a wary eye on the opposing Pokémon. Nutmeg gently nudged Olivia's leg, herding the redhead and her sister back toward Zoe's corner.
Alex saw what Dahlia's Pokémon were doing and promptly stepped past the Dragonair. While he understood the need to keep the non-combatants safe, he also knew it would be hard to command his Pokémon if he was stuck in a crowded corner. He threw a Pokéball at the orange mound that had tackled Jared to the ground. An Absol emerged, fangs bared, and pounced towards his opponent.

IC: Ryan Hikari/Corey Bouchard/Aori Yamamoto/Shannon Willows/Lauren/Caroline/Alice - Festival, Ecruteak City
Aori stayed fairly close to Ryan and Shannon as they wandered through the festival, though now and again she would run a few feet ahead to look at a kimono or some fans or a cart of baked goods. Despite her normal quietude, she was happily exclaiming and pointing things out as she became absorbed with the festival’s atmosphere.

She turned to face the adults and hopped lightly from one foot to the other. “Are there going to be fireworks tonight?”

"There should be." Shannon glanced at her friends for confirmation.

"Of course there'll be fireworks." Caroline grinned. "It's not a festival without fireworks, now is it? You should be able to see them from pretty much anywhere in the city, but the best view is in front of the Bell Tower."

Alice craned her neck to look over at the famous landmark. "Now the best view would be from inside the Tower. We'd be right in the middle of them."

"Um, I'm pretty sure we aren't allowed up there," Lauren murmured in a quiet voice that went unheard over Caroline and Alice's lively debate.

As the two girls squabbled in the front of the group, Shannon smiled down at Aori. "Don't worry about those two. They've been butting heads since we were kids. I'm sure it doesn't matter where we go. Do you like fireworks, Aori?"

The girl paused to consider, as if this were the first time that somebody had asked her whether she liked fireworks and she had to mull it over. Finally, she shook her head. “They are pretty, but they are also very loud. And sudden. I do not like sudden loudness.”

"Yeah, I definitely get that." Ryan said with a chuckle as he walked alongside the two. "Nicer to watch on like, a TV screen or something. I don't really like loud noises either, honestly."

"We don't have to watch the fireworks, then," Shannon said, squeezing Aori's hand a little. "They won't be as loud if we stick to the other side of the city. There's plenty of other things we can do. Magikarp scooping, live music . . . ooh, we could even get some shaved ice!"

Aori nodded softly. “I would like that. Thank you.”

Up ahead, Alice and Caroline continued to discuss the fireworks. "Hey," Shannon called out to her friends. "Aori wanted to skip the fireworks. We'll enjoy the other parts of the festival instead."

Caroline cocked her head. "But she's the one that brought it up," she said with a slight pout. "And I kind of wanted to see them from the Tower."

Alice jabbed her with an elbow. "If you want to see them that badly, Caroline, go on without us. Just remember Shannon will be leaving tomorrow."

"Um, I think we should stick together . . ." Lauren moved over to stand next to Shannon and Aori. "After all, we don't get to see each other that often."

"Fiiiine, but only cause the kid's so darn cute." Caroline rolled her eyes and started leading the way down to the food stands. "Geez," she muttered as they walked past a dynamically dressed man travelling with two women by his side. "Don't feel bad about your t-shirt, Lauren. You can't go worse than Mr. Muscle Man over there. Seriously, who wears that to an Ecruteak festival?"

Just as Lauren was berating Caroline for speaking within earshot of the strangely dressed man, Shannon ran up to the man in question. "Um, excuse me," she said, studying the man's face. "Are you by chance Evan Tierra?"

Evan was caught a little off guard by this woman’s question but smiled and performed a bit of a pose. “That I am. Who’s asking?” The man asked, before his eyes widened as he recalled who he was speaking to. “Are you Shannon?”

The girl's hazel eyes lit up. "Yes! Hey, Ryan! Ryan! Look, it's Evan! Evan Tierra!" She looked back at the Former Hero of Space. "So what brings you to Ecruteak?"

“Well, you see….” The Plasma Agent began. “I’m here with my girlfriend and a friend we met in Alola. As for the why, Jenny, mind telling them? It’ll make more sense if you explain.”

"Well, to keep things short, I'm trying to get back my memories." Jenny said as she scratched the back of her head. With a curious look on his face, Ryan walked closer.

"Evan?" The black-haired trainer asked in complete surprise as he approached. "Never expected to see you here. So you're here because of Jenny's memories? Is there something special about them here?"

"It's because she went to school here." Marie chimed in, which prompted Ryan to turn to her, first about to ask who she was, and then in confusion about who she was.

"... Have… I seen you before?" Ryan asked with a confused look on his face. Marie shook her head, however.

"Oh, you went to school here, too?" Lauren asked, walking up to Jenny. "We all did, too. Which school did you go to?"

As Jenny and Lauren discussed schools, Shannon looked over at the unfamiliar blonde girl. "I know Evan and I've heard about Jenny, but I don't think I know you. My name's Shannon."

"Oh, my name's Marie." She introduced herself, though kept the 'alternate universe' part to herself for the moment, not wanting to overwhelm anyone or give her identity away to anyone who shouldn't know it. "Marie Homura, where I'm from is complicated."

"I think we're all complicated to varying degrees." Shannon gave a good-natured laugh. "So how did you get caught up with Evan and Jenny?"

"Met them back in Alola during a big event there, definitely got caught off guard by that weird form evolution thingy Evan could do, but I feel I held my own pretty well too." Marie said with a proud look on her face.

"Wait, Evan can do it, too?" Shannon grabbed Ryan and dragged him into the conversation. "Ryan, did you hear that? You've got some competition!"

"Wait, what?" Ryan glanced from the mysterious girl to Evan. "You can evolve something too? What is it?"

“My Swampert can do it, yeah.” Evan said, grinning. “He became quite the powerhouse, I'd say. All it took was a life or death battle, and boom! He got all buff and such.”

"Huh… I'm kinda surprised, but I guess that makes sense." Ryan nodded as he glanced to the others. "Well, that should help things out, more Pokémon that can help fight is always a good thing."

"New evolutions, huh?" That got Alice's attention. "I wonder if Aurora can do it, too." The girl stroked her Umbreon's silky fur, a soft smile playing on her lips. "I'd heard about those transformations on the news, but I never would've thought I'd actually meet someone who had done it. Shannon, how on earth did you get involved with these people?"

"Oh, that's a long story." Shannon waved a dismissive hand. "They're not the only ones who can do it, though. Those two just happen to be really great trainers."

"And what about you?" Alice asked with a smirk. "We used to pit Aurora and Selena against each other all the time back in the day. Care to see how they fare now that we're older?" At the promise of a battle, the Umbreon pawed the ground anxiously.

"Oh, you'd . . . probably beat me." Shannon looked away. "Selena doesn't really fight unless she has to. Besides, without powers it would just be a fistfight."

Alice broke out into hysterical laughter. "She doesn't fight? Who are you and what have you done with Shannon?"

Shannon shifted uncomfortably. "I'm gonna get some shaved ice," she said suddenly. "Ryan, Aori, do you want any? What about you, Corey?"

Corey tore their eyes away from studying the newcomers. "Sure. I'll come help if you want, too, carrying it back'll be a challenge with just one person."

Ryan glanced over in surprise, but nodded. "Sure, you can pick what flavour."

Aori nodded. “Can I get blueberry please?”

"Sure thing." Shannon gave Aori a smile and left her in Ryan's capable hands. She glanced over at Corey as the two of them walked toward the food stands. "So how are you enjoying this festival?" she asked. "You ever been to one before?"

"A buncha time a long while ago. Not too sure how much I'm enjoying things this time, but it's okay I guess." Corey scratched the back of their head before simply shrugging. "Maybe I'm just not used to things being so…" They tried to find the word they wanted to use, but then frowned. "I don't know, normal?"

"It's definitely surreal," Shannon agreed. "But I think we should try to enjoy it while it lasts. After all, hanging out with a bunch of friends without a care in the world . . . that's the stuff you tend to take for granted until the day it's all torn away from you. These moments are meant to be cherished."

"That's a fair point." Corey said as they nodded. "Still…" They bit their lip for a moment as they sighed. "No, you're right, maybe I just need to learn how to enjoy this kinda stuff again, without like, constantly checking over my shoulder for threats."

"Well, you can start by smiling more." Shannon giggled slightly. "Seriously, there's no need to be so uptight. This is a public festival; it's probably the least likely place for something bad to happen."

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: Ray Hakuda -- Dendemille Town==-


"Yeah, I definitely get what you mean." Ray said with a nod. "One minute I'm worried about how long it's gonna take and if everyone else will be alright until we complete our mission, and the next... well, we might not have any actual leads, but it almost feels like we're close to them." He wasn't entirely sure how else to explain what he felt, but hoped that would do.


-==IC: Colleen Llyan/Olivia Seaton/Lucia Zyther -- Geosenge Secret Lab==-


Colleen gritted her teeth as she thought about what Pokémon to send out. She wanted to go with her Blastoise, but recognized that the room was much too small for her. Instead, she decided to go with her new Elgyem, who immediately headed off to take on the Larvitar with a tackle.


Olivia nodded, though she didn't send her Pokémon out just yet, instead watching to see if anyone got past the veritable guard line they'd set up as is. She nodded to Klim, who had sent out his Dusknoir Moriarty to help guard them too - the young man stepping in line near the group as well.


Lucia, on the other hand, managed to focus in on two things in relatively quick succession while the rest of the fight was going on.


Number one: The Sneasel that Jamie was taking on was a pink Sneasel. That was not something that was seen every day, to say the very least. Her eyes widened as she realized she had heard of a pink Sneasel, too - the one that Ryan had told her about that someone who was injured had. Who Natalie had said was last seen ignoring her treatment and running off to the hospital in Celadon.


Which led to the second point; that Dedenne there alongside the pink Sneasel seemed too much of a coincidence to just be a coincidence. Lucia dug around in her bag as the fight continued around her.


"Come on, they've gotta be in here..." She muttered as she tried to find two specific Poké Balls before trying to figure out whether her theory was right. But with everything going on, it was proving extremely difficult to focus on the two Poké Balls in particular. Finally, however, she grabbed one and squinted through the glass to see that it was an Eevee. Next to that Poké Ball she found a Blissey as well - two Pokémon that she had been given by Cassie when she had left to go take Shannon back to Four Island.


"Well. Time to see whether I'm right or not..." Lucia said, her heart pounding as she tossed the two Poké Balls into the air. Once the two Pokémon were sent out, Lucia ran forward, digging through her bag to send out more of her actual team if anyone got close. She ran toward the black wall, then went through it, squinting to try to make anything out as she opened her Poké Gear and used it as a makeshift flashlight to try and see literally anything. "Alex? Is that you?"


-==IC: Ryan Hikari/Corey Bouchard/Jenny Hakuda/Marie Homura/Evan Tierra/Aori Yamamoto/Shannon Willows/Lauren/Caroline/Alice - Festival, Ecruteak City==-

By the time the sun was starting to set, they had seen most of what they wanted to see at the festival. Since the fireworks would be extremely loud from pretty much any point in the festival grounds, the group had agreed to meet at a restaurant closer to the outskirts of the city.

Before that, however, Corey insisted they change out of their yukatas. Even Shannon had to agree the summer heat made their formal clothing stuffy and uncomfortable. Ryan led Shannon, Aori, and Corey back to their hotel, where they got changed into more casual clothes.

"How's this look?" Shannon approached Ryan and Corey wearing a simple olive tee and a pleated skirt. "Do you think it's too casual for the restaurant?" She lightly spun around on her feet then looked at the other two apprehensively.

"If it's too casual, then we have an issue too. Should be fine." Corey said with a shrug of their shoulders as Ryan nodded his agreement that it was okay.

The girl giggled lightly before rushing back into the other room. "Aori, you ready?"

The younger girl nodded, though her eyes seemed to be drooping a bit. “Yes, dinner sounds good,” she replied quietly as she stifled a yawn.

"Heh, that festival wore you out, didn't it?" Shannon chuckled as she ruffled the girl's hair. "Alright, let's go. We don't want to keep the others waiting!"


Evan, Jenny, and Marie were waiting for them in the hotel lobby. Having no change of clothes of their own, the eccentric trio planned on going to the restaurant as they were. Lauren, Alice, and Caroline had all gone off to change elsewhere, and would be meeting the others at the restaurant.

The group of seven walked down the streets of Ecruteak. Away from the festivities it was surprisingly quiet, although the cacophony of voices continued to resonate from the center of the city, blending together into a cheerful undercurrent of incomprehensible chatter.

As they walked through the empty streets, Shannon found a skip in her step. Her face beamed as she strode next to Ryan. "I can't thank you enough for letting us stop here," she said. "I've been dreaming of this day ever since I had to move away all those years ago." She clasped her hands behind her back and peered closely at him with a sharp intake of breath. "You know, this wouldn't be a bad place to settle down. I know we're looking for Aori's parents now, but once we find them . . ." Her eyes flickered toward the young girl for a brief moment. "Maybe you and I could find a place around here? I mean, if you want to, that is . . ." Pursing her lips, Shannon suddenly became very interested in the slanted rooftops. "I mean, I'm just throwing out the idea."

"It could be cool, yeah." Ryan said with a small smile. "Might be tough to work some details out, but… this is a peaceful place." He didn't add that it would be a good defensive place to defend against Missing Zero as well, but it was just a place that he wanted to help protect.

As the group walked further and further away from the festivities, Ryan glanced around with an uneasy look. After everything from the afternoon, the quietness seemed almost eerie to him. In fact, as a stone clattered from an alleyway further down the road, both Corey and Ryan suddenly looked up, tensed up at the sudden noise.

"It's just a rock, you two." Marie said as she rolled her eyes. "A Rattata probably kicked it on her way to a dumpster or something."

"Yeah, that or a Geodude tripped." Shannon laughed nervously but still tightened her grip on Aori's hand and she glanced around.

Corey didn't seem quite as convinced, but Jenny seemed to agree with Marie wholeheartedly as she walked down the road without a care in the world. Ryan seemed to have been convinced, but still had the nervousness that Shannon did too as he scanned the road. Nothing stood out to the black-haired man, but he couldn't help but have this feeling that something was wrong. Nothing happened as they passed the alleyway.

"See? You're all worried for nothing." Marie grinned as she placed her hands behind her head.

A few moments passed as Ryan started to relax. However, as he glanced over his shoulder to double check, he saw a shadowed figure step out from the alley they had passed. "Wait." He quickly said to Corey, Shannon, and Aori, as he turned around cautiously.

"Well looky here. The rat's finally crawled out from wherever he was hiding. Took a mighty long time to find you after our little… "discussion" what was it, three years ago or so?" A balding man approached the group slowly with a small smile on his face. "Heard you got up to some trouble in the years between, didn't you?"

"You." Ryan recognized the man immediately, his hands instantly clenched into fists. "What do you want?"

"Oh, nothing too much." There was a click as the man raised a weapon. "Just a little revenge."

"Who in the world are you?" Corey demanded, as they reached for the handle of their Doublade, but then clicked their tongue as they realized that there wasn't going to be enough time to react before the man could shoot whoever his target was going to be. They glanced behind them - Evan and the other two had already gotten too far away for the moment. Corey figured that gunfire would catch their attention pretty quickly, or otherwise that the four weren't there in a few moments, but… that left them helpless in the intervening time.

"No-one you need to know." The man said with a small shrug.

"Darien Grant." Ryan supplied instead with a growl. "He's the guy who attacked Goldenrod with his croneys four years ago."

"... Him?" Corey's fists tightened as he stared the man down coldly. "He's the one who did that?"

Shannon saw the gun and quickly stepped in front of Aori. "We don't want any trouble," she said in a shaking voice. "Listen, whatever gripe you have, I'm sure there's a nonviolent solution . . ." Even as she spoke, doing her best to remain calm, Shannon subtly reached into her back pocket to pull out her Pokégear, holding it in front of Aori. "After all, there's a festival tonight. We wouldn't want the authorities to get involved."

Aori took the device, fumbling a bit as she tried to find the call function on the unfamiliar technology. Finally, she found it and dialed the number that had been drilled into her head back home. She just hoped it was the same in Johto as it was in the Sevii Islands.

The man simply aimed his weapon at Shannon. The color drained from her face as she stared down the barrel. She wanted to run, but her body wouldn't move. She opened her mouth, but no words came out. It was as if an icy hand clenched her spine, paralyzing her in fear.

The man let out a chuckle as he grinned cruelly. "Oh, there's no solution other than him suffering." Darien stared directly at Shannon, and began to pull the trigger.


For a moment, all Shannon could see was black hair - then after a moment, her vision cleared as Ryan fell to his knees. His Tyranitar's Poké Ball fell to the ground and opened, letting out the rather angry rock lizard. Shannon and Aori were alright - but Ryan was not.

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