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Lady Vulpix
8th July 2005, 07:06 PM
Version 22 mysteriously disappeared. ¬_¬ I'll post the links to what's left of it.
Page 1 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P1.html)
Page 2 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P2.html)
Page 3 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P3.html)
Page 4 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P4.html)
Page 5 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P5.html)
Page 6 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P6.html)
Page 7 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P7.html)
Page 8 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P8.html)
Page 9 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P9.html)
Page 10 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P10.html)
Posts made while TPM was down (http://www.tsuyoislair.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=188)

Here are the rules. Please read them in order to avoid posting invalid battles and/or asking questions which are already answered here. Have fun!

GENERAL RULES

¤ Everyone will describe the battles (or whatever is required), stating the levels of their pokemon before and after the event.

¤ Unless the scenario states otherwise, each trainer can battle 2 pokemon per scenario, and may use 1 or 2 pokemon per battle.

¤ All pokemon must battle opponents that are in the same level range as they are. If two pokemon battle together, they must both be in the same level range.

¤ You can use pokemon from the Dragon Tamers Adoption Center, PokeZoo Adoption Center, Pocket Monsters Breeding Center, adopted pokemon tournaments and old adoption centers.

¤ All trainers who use pokemon from Adoption Centers other than Dragon Tamers must tell us where they got their pokemon (on the pokemon's first battle). That's to make sure you're not making them up.

¤ Unevolved pokemon learn the same moves as in GSC. For moves the pokemon can only learn in other games, use the same levels at which they would learn them in the respective games. That is: if a Pokemon learns the same move at different levels in different games, we use the level from GSC.

¤ Pokemon evolve just like in the games, except for trading/happiness-evolving pokemon, who can evolve with a Genetic Accelerator.

¤ Evolved pokemon learn the same moves as their unevolved versions, plus the new ones. Example, Metapod can't learn Confusion, but Butterfree can. Moves are learnt at the same level as the pokemon would learn them in GSC (or other games for moves unavailable in GSC). For moves only unevolved pokemon can learn, evolved pokemon will learn them at the same levels as their pre-evolutions.

¤ A pokemon can learn a free TM, HM or Move Tutor move every 10 levels (that is, every multiple of 10).

¤ Bred-On moves are allowed (1 per pokemon), but you must choose them before your pokemon battle for the first time. Once your pokemon has battled, their bred-on move can't be changed (nor added if you hadn't chosen one).

¤ Hidden Power is allowed just like other TMs. But at the moment your pokemon learns it, you must say what type it will be and not change it.

¤ If you use 2 pokemon in a battle (or more, in the case of random battles), the experience (levels) will be split evenly among them.

¤ Stamps can be earned for writing interesting and descriptive battles. You can exchange them for Stones, Genetic Accelerators and other items at the Dragon Tamers Reward Center.

¤ If your battle goes unrated for over 7 days, you will get an additional stamp for each extra day (from the 8th on) until the battle is rated.

¤ Remember: no killing your opponents (human or pokemon).

RANDOM BATTLE RULES

¤ You can use the Random Battle Generator once a week, and it costs 7 stamps to use it. You can request a random pokemon from any of the following sections: Caledor's Nature Protection Agency, Antarctic Survivor Recovery Agency, Jungle Deforestation Recovery Agency, Professional Sports Breeding System, Electric Shutdown Retirement System, Free Range Corral, Universal Adoption Center. Your opponent will be the same level as your pokemon, and each random opponent defeated gives 1 level.

You need to choose a section to get your opponent from. Sections determine the possible types of the opponents.

Caledor's Nature Protection Agency: 80% Fire, 15% Dragon, 5% Ground.
Antarctic Survivor Recovery Agency: 60% Water, 40% Ice.
Jungle Deforestation Recovery Agency: 35% Grass, 25% Bug, 25% Poison, 15% Flying.
Professional Sports Breeding System: 85% Fighting, 15% Rock.
Electric Shutdown Retirement System: 95% Electric, 5% Steel.
Free Range Corral: 100% Normal.
Universal Adoption Center: 20% Psychic, 20% Ghost, 15% Rock, 15% Ground, 15% Steel, 15% Dark.

Dual types have a higher chance of turning up, as they can be selected by either of their types.

¤ You can also request a random battle with 2 or 3 opponents (for 2 or 3 Pokemon respectively). In that case, it will cost 7 stamps per opponent, and you will have to wait 2 or 3 weeks respectively before requesting another random battle.

THE CURRENT SCENARIO IS ON PAGE: 14 (http://www.pokemasters.net/forums/showthread.php?p=488811).

Lady Vulpix
8th July 2005, 07:07 PM
The Last Assault
It had been a few weeks since the last attempt the Crimson Blades had made to ruins the lives of everybody in Ulthuan. And although their ruthless assault had left a mark on Sector Alpha the people were more than capable of rebuilding, united in their desire to put the Blades behind them.

Until one afternoon, when Armand DiAnnio's face mysteriously appeared on every television set in the realm, a cruel sneer on his elegant face.

"This thing's on, right?" he asked before fixing his attentions upon whatever camera was currently recording him. "Ah. Very warm greetings to everyone who's vegetating in front of the TV at this moment in time. I hate to ruin your day's watching and all but... hey, them's the breaks. Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past few months, my name's Armand DiAnnio, head of the Crimson Blades. And I've got a little proposition for two very special groups of people. Namely the Dragon Tamers and my old friends Team Rocket. I'm sure you must all want me dead, mustn't you? I mean, all the endless trouble I've caused you! Well, here's your chance to settle the score. I'm fed up with these little skirmishes. Time we settled our differences once and for all. I'm inviting you all to come along to my base on the Shifting Isles. We're gonna have ourselves a little competition. Any challenger who wishes to play against the best trainers the Blades have in pokémon battles. You win, you earn the right to try your luck against me in whatever way you fancy. You lose, well... I'm getting pretty low on food for Reaper, let's put it that way. Oh, and if you're worried about this all being some kind of terrible trap... well, you'd probably be right to be suspicious, but..." Here Armand paused for a moment. "Team Rocket, if you ever want to see Giovanni alive again this is gonna be your only chance to rescue him. And Tamers, just so you know I'll have Reaper poised to take out Griffon Gate if nobody shows. I've done my research, you know. Those Gates are all that's holding in some of the nastier things in the Shadowlands. I'd hate to see what might happen if one of them got itself a little blown up, wouldn't you? Anyway, you've 48 hours to think about it. I hope to see you all then." And with this the Blades boss blinked off the screen, replaced again with the relative comforts of whatever soap opera was on at the time.

Mission
Armand DiAnnio has issued a personal challenge to the Dragon Tamers, to come to his base and take on his best trainers. He is offering to personally battle anyone who proves themselves worthy. Although the Guild suspects a trap and sent out a military force to deal with the Blades, contact with the squadron has been lost for 24 hours. Hence they turn to the Dragon Tamers once again. Head for the Crimson Blades base on the Shifting Isles and try to take out as many of his underlings as you can. This is our best chance yet to finally end the reign of terror caused by these ruthless criminals so give it all you've got. As ever, be warned that the Blades are far more evil and bloody-minded than more common criminals and may well be armed. Extreme caution is advised. You are also advised against going directly against DiAnnio himself, at least as long as his Reaper is alive. The Salamence has been responsible for the destruction of countless buildings and settlements and is far too powerful to be taken on by normal means.

Levels 15 and under
L8 Mawile (+1)
L15 Poliwag (+2)

Level 15.5 to 25
L20 Growlithe (+1)
L25 Miltank (+2)

Level 25.5 to 35
L30 Scyther (+1)
L35 Breloom (+2)

Level 35.5 to 45
L40 Corphish (+1)
L45 Venusaur (+2)

Level 45.5 to 55
L50 Machoke (+1)
L55 Altaria (+2)

Level 55.5 to 65
L60 Sharpedo (+1)
L65 Heracross (+2)

Level 65.5 to 75
L70 Typhlosion (+1)
L75 Aggron (+2)

Level 75.5 to 85
L80 Magmar (+1)
L85 Banette (+2)

Level 85.5 and above
L90 Alakazam (+1)
L100 Dragonite (+2)

Charizard04621
12th July 2005, 09:16 PM
First post in the new forum for me! ^_^ If I haven't done so already, may I please get an extension for this scenario? Thanks! :)

Lady Vulpix
13th July 2005, 07:16 PM
Wha?! I was sure I'd replied to your post! Where did my reply go? Anyway, yes, you do have an extension.

Now, here comes my intro for the current scenario. Still no battles, but quite a few revelations and guest appearances. If you've read my short story Paradise Valley, I suggest you read it again after this. At least the parts where Rose is mentioned.

ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸, ø¤º°`°º¤ø ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø

<Firestar's POV>

It was a nice sunny day. I was in the park with my team and my trainer, and also with Ray and his bunch. As usual when both teams went out together, Ray and I had ended up splitting from the group and finding a nice and comfy spot for ourselves. We spent as much time together as we could. We had even decided to evolve at the same time, and didn't allow our trainers to get their Fire Stones anywhere close to us until we were together. We could always get our way when we set our minds on it, that was the one thing that hadn't changed since we were Vulpix pups. Everything else had changed so much that it seemed like it had been another life. But someone said the past always finds a way to get back to you, and that seemed to be the case with us.

That day, as Ray and I were hiding among a set of bushes and tickling each other with our paws, tails and noses, we were interrupted by a Vulpix from our past; one whose presence we didn't notice until we made a pause in our games. Once we did, I wondered how long she'd been watching us. Her deep grey eyes werefixed on us, but her face was expressionless. The same lack of expression that used to cause everyone to feel puzzled around her half the time and ignore her the other half. Right then, I felt puzzled. But I was also annoyed. And the latter took precedence.

"It's rude to sneak on a couple like that," I told her. "How long have you been here?"
"Oh, not much," she said with a soft tone that could have been either calm or sad. "Sorry I've upset you. I just wanted to see some familiar faces. In the flesh, I mean."
Now Ray stood up. "You recognize us?"
She smiled. A gesture that was rarely seen in her. And then she nodded.
"How did you find us?," Ray asked.
"I... I like to know where my old friends are. I used to be able to keep track easily in the past. I's not so easy now, but still... I do what I can. I guess you can say I'm nostalgic."
"Who would have guessed!," I exclaimed. "You actually have feelings?"
"Of course I do. I just... I've never been the kind to talk much. But not talking about something doesn't mean it isn't there."

I took a better look at her. Now she definitely looked sad, and tired. How could I not notice before? I guessed I'd never paid much attention to her as a child. She was just a boring young adult who spent her time staring into the distance and didn't seem to care much about anything other than the little stone she wore on top of her head. I noticed she wasn't wearing it anymore.
"What happened to your stone?," I asked her.
"I gave it up," she replied.
"But it was your treasure! Your only winning item!"
"It was more than that, but it was becoming a bit of a burden, and I found someone who can put it to a better use than the one I was giving it. A more... necessary use."
"Use? What use can that stone have?"
She shook her head.
"It doesn't matter. We shouldn't care about it. I shouldn't care about it anymore. We're here now. A different place, a different life... Why ruin it by looking back?... by worrying about the things... and the friends we've left behind?"
She looked up into the sky and spoke in an even lower tone.
"Please..." she said. "I need a life of my own. I've done so much... given up so much... I can't make a difference anymore. Please let them not need me this time."
"Solitude!," Ray shouted at her, trying to snap her out of her apparent trance.
"You don't need to shout," she replied. "I'm strange, I can't help it. Sorry if I freaked you out."
"It's ok," Ray said. "What was that all about?"
Solitude sighed.
"Nothing we can do a thing about," she assured. "But I can't help but worry. I left Caledor while a storm was brewing, and now... now the worst of it is about to come. I can't do anything about it. I'm just a Vulpix. This is bigger than me. Much bigger. And I want to leave my own life for once. Why, just why can't I simply stop caring?"

Solitude's eyes started shining with tears she wouldn't let out. I nuzzled her. For the first time, I saw her under a different light. She looked small, and fragile.
"I'm sure our friends will be alright," Ray assured. "They're strong and brave and they can handle whatever comes today."
"Strong and brave... Yes, they are," Solitude half-smiled. "Your mum is helping the Stantlers get organized, did you know that?"
"My mum? Have you seen her?," he asked.
"Just before I left Caledor. And I saw your parents too, Blessing. They're still leading what's left of the pack and looking for new members."
"My name is Firestar now," I told her. "But it's great to know my parents are fine. Is Ray's dad still around?"
"Ray?," she looked at him. "Nice name. It suits you much better than Kid now. Yes, he's still in the lake. He sees Lake whenever she's not busy with the Stantlers."
"Cool!," I said. "And the others? Ruby? Strawberry? The twins?"
"Ruby and Strawberry are still in the pack. They're competing over the new male that just arrived. I lost track of the twins, they left some time before my last visit."
"I'm sure they're alright," Ray said. "They're as good at getting out of trouble as they're at getting into it."
"Like you'd be the one to talk!," I reminded him.
"I know," he admitted. "I've always been the best at getting into trouble. The getting out of it part still needs some working on. But that's what I have you for, isn't it?"
"Me and your trainer," I laughed. "And back in the forest you had your parents and your own personal hero. You're lucky you've always been surrounded by beings who love you so much."
Ray blushed visibly when I said that, and I gave him a quick kiss on his muzzle that made him blush even more.
"Err... you didn't see that," he told Solitude.
"Whatever you say," she replied. "But I think you two make a cute couple."
"Wow, someone's opened up all of a sudden!," I commented.
"I try," she said. "I don't actually want to shut myself away, but I've never been good at dealing with others. Whenever I open my mouth I end up freaking everyone out, so staying quiet often works best for me. But I guess my recent run-in with a trainer helped me a little. Knowing that someone relies on me and trusts me... it's a great feeling."
"You had a trainer?," Ray asked.
"Only for a short while. I knew we had to go seperate ways, but I helped him find his way around in Caledor. Then I left before the past could catch up with me and pull me back."
"Hmm... you're talking weird again," I told her.
"Sorry. I don't think I can get that feeling out of my chest yet, so talking weird will have to do for now. Let's just say there were 2 things that could have tempted me to stay if I had encountered them, but I knew neither of them was meant for me. Staying would have only learnt to suffering. I need a life of my own."
"I think we can help you with that," I offered. "I'm sure one of our trainers will accept you. Or you can go to the Pridelands Adoption Center if you would like a fresh start. That's what our son did when he wanted to become independant. And if you don't want another trainer, you can live in the park. There are some poemon living here."
"You have a son?!"
Solitude's grey eyes opened up widely, looking startled for the first time ever.
"We're an adult couple, you know," Ray told her.
"I know, I know... It's just... I've only just realized how much time really has passed since I left the pack. And besides, a boy... that's quite uncommon. Which one of you does he take after the most?"
"His father, definitely," I laughed. "He even got his Disable trick. Though he never bugged others with it as much as his dad used to."
"Hey!," Ray complained.
"Sorry, I tell things just the way they were," I grinned. "So, will you stay here?"
"I'll think about it. Thanks," Solitude replied.
"By the way, do you know anything about Speedy?," Ray asked. "Or Tracker."
"Ah, yes," she sighed. "Tracker's become a successful police pokemon. Speedy found a trainer and is working with the Dragon Tamers. She managed to find him and they're together now, just like you to except that he won't admit it openly yet, but it's only a matter of time. I wish them both the best of luck for what is to come."
"What's to come?," Ray asked. "What's that storm you mentioned?"
"Do you remember what happened to the Stantlers in the forest?"
"I do... But you weren't there, were you?"
"No, but that's beside the point. Imagine that, happening to a whole city. And even beyond that, to the whole country if our friends can't make it."
"That's awful! Who would do such a thing?," I questioned in shock.
"Sadly, there are enough beings who would. Some are human, some are pokemon. They call themselves the Crimson Blades and they're even worse than those who attacked the Stantlers because each and every one of them has their minds and hearts into it."

There was silence for a while. Neither Ray nor I could say a word and Solitude retreated back into herself. I hadn't been exposed to many cruelties in my life. I'd heard about attacks and wars in other places, but I'd been lucky enough not to have anyone I cared for be caught in them. This news stroke me hard.
"Maybe we can... find a way to get back to Caledor and help them?," Ray suggested.
"But how?," I asked.
"We can tell our trainers we want to go somewhere on our own for a while and promise to be back soon. They won't deny us that. Then, if anyone tries to stop us from getting there, I stop them."
Solitude looked at Ray.
"You're still the adventurer I used to know," she told him. "And you still take risks without thinking of the consequences. What do you two hope to achieve against the Crimson Blades?"
"We won't be alone," Ray assured. "Other must be already fighting. We'll join them and offer any help we can provide. In a situation like that any kind of help can make a difference."
"And we can stop by the forest first and get our parents to help us," I added. "And anyone else who wants to join in."
"Right. With Firestar's charisma we'll have the whole forest coming with us."
Now it was I who blushed.
"You should know us well enough to know we always get what we want," I told Solitude.
She sighed. We seemed to have convinced her that we wouldn't change our minds.
"I guess I'll have to do it again," she sighed. "If I can't hold you back, I'll go with you. Someone will have to look after you two."
"You do know how funny that sounds when a Vulpix says it to a couple of Ninetales, right?," Ray commented.
"I can't help it," she replied. "You two haven't grown up as much as I thought."
"Or maybe we have grown up more than even we thought," I reflected. "We know the risk, and we're willing to take it. Our friends have always helped us when we needed them. Now it's our turn to do the same for them."

Well, we didn't get the chance to stop by the forest in the end... but someone else is going to tell that part of the story later. At least we did get to hitch a ride in an airplane, thanks to our combined talents. Hmm... the local authorities don't get to read this, do they?
************************************************** *************************

<Rose's POV>

I've heard a few stories about the sky going dark in the middle of the day when a terrible threat arises. I've never seen that happen in real life. To me, it was just a day like any other. I was taking a break from stopping a fight among a group of Oddish kids about what the best final evolution was, and I was wondering why fights always seemed to come up no matter what, when I saw a small bird-like figure appear from the other side of the mountains. I couldn't see it in detail from that distance, but it happened to start its descent right there, and soon I could recognize the shape and color of a Taillow. That was a pokemon you didn't see everyday, at least in our valley. It had only been around a year since the first ones had shown up, and none of them had built their nests in the valley. They just stayed for a day or two to get a break in the middle of a long journey. Many pokemon did that, since the valley was a great place for any pokemon to recover their strength.

The Taillow landed by the river and drank some water. I approached him slowly; he looked agitated. Even so, he was startled when he heard my steps and nearly took off.
"Wait," I told him. "It's safe here."
He turned around and looked at me. He examined me quite thoroughly.
"Pink eyes..." he said.
That was quite an unusual greeting. I could give it an even more unusual reply, but I didn't think it was the time for it.
"Are you alright?," I asked him.
"Me?... Yes, I'm ok. Just tired, that's all. It's a long way from the Reborn Forest. Is this Paradise Valley?"
"Yes, it is," I nodded.
"Ah, finally," he sighed. "Then you must be Mrs. Rose."
"I am. I didn't think I'd be so famous."
"You are. Everyone in the Reborn Forest knows of this valley and of how you and your husband watch over all the pokemon in here."
"Really? How come? I've never been to the Reborn Forest, and neither has Rock as far as I know."
"Maybe you haven't, but your son has. He's living there now."
"Adamant? You know him?"
It had been a long time since I'd last heard of him. I knew it was best for my children to become independant and lead their own lives, but I had to admit I'd been missing them terribly ever since they left.
"Yes, he's well known in the forest. He tries to do the same things you and your husband do here, and he's quite good at it. No one can abuse others and get away with it as long as he's around."
That news brought a smile to my face. I was filled with pride for my son.
"May I tell you that you have quite an unusual smile?," the Taillow said.
"I see you have no fear of expressing your thoughts," I chuckled. "How is my smile unusual?"
"It's so wide... Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you."
"Don't worry, I'm not offended. Smiles are natural and spontaneous, so it's hard to control the way they look. Like your eyes, they show your real self."
"So your real self is pink and smiles widely?," he joked. I couldn't help but laugh.
"Quite so," I told him. "Anyway, what brings you here?"
"It's just... as you know, I've heard of your reputation, and I thought you should know when something big is happening, and I think that's the case right now."
"What's going on?"
"Some pokemon are leaving the Dark Cave and heading for Sector Alpha."
"Hmm... that's odd..." I reflected. "I've heard of the Dark Cave pokemon. They haven't left their cave in the last 4 years as far as I know. I'd say it's a good thing that they're finally coming out, but why go to Sector Alpha instead of staying in the forest? I thought they were afraid of humans."
"That's the thing. I saw the Noctowl right before she left. She said she got some serious vibes from her contact in Sector Alpha and she was heading there with any pokemon who would follow her in order to pay a debt."
"So there's trouble in Sector Alpha?"
"So she seems to believe. I've never made much sense out of the Dark Cave pokemon anyway. I mean, how can you understand a pokemon who can perceive the emotions of everyone around another pokemon?"
"I've seen and heard of many strange things in my life. But your news leaves me worried. I have a daughter in Sector Alpha. I need to make sure she's safe."
"What will you do?"
"I'll talk to my friends and Rock. If I know them well, I think we'll end up checking things out by ourselves. I'm sure Outcast can take care of the valley while the rest of us are away. His relatives haven't been bothering him so much since the Templa Taure incident. Plum will want to come, her own daughter lives in Sector Alpha too. She can help both me and Rock get there."
"Wow, you've just heard about it and already made a plan."
"I've learnt to act quickly," I stated. "Pokemon like me end up at a disadvantage if we don't move fast."
************************************************** *************************

Splitting up because it exceeds the maximum length.

Lady Vulpix
13th July 2005, 07:21 PM
<Gabi's POV>

The meeting didn't exactly fill me with hope. The only thing that did was experience: the experience of having made it through a lot of bad times in the past. I wonderd how many times would have to go through that, though. And if any of such times would happen to be too much for us. But I tried to dismiss those thoughts; they weren't helping. I had noticed Jeff's absence at the meeting, and knowing some of his history with DiAnnio and the Crimson Blades I thought he deserved to learn about what had been discussed. So I left the rest of my team at home and headed over to the barracks to look for him.

"Is anyone here?," I asked as I walked into the Guild's barracks.
I heard Jeff say something in a low voice and then greet me, so I walked over to where he was. I found him in the company of some of his pokemon, along with two Ninetales I'd never seen before.
"What's up?," said Jeff.
"Hi, Jeff! How are you doing?," I asked him. I wanted to know if he had recovered from his injuries, but his reply surprised me.
"Very, very confused."
"Confused? Why?," I wanted to know.
"We have guests."
Here, he pointed at the two Ninetales, and a Vulpix who was curled up on his bed.
"Where did they come from?," I asked, looking at them.
"From the Pridelands," the male Ninetales said, "but we were all born in Caledor."
"Yeah. They were at the airport when I left the hospital and wanted to get to the Guild," Jeff explained.
"Really? What brings you all here, and who are you?," I asked them.
"I'm Ray, this is Firestar, and the Vulpix over there is Solitude," the Ninetales replied.
The names Ray and Firestar didn't ring any bells, but Solitude's name certainly did. I looked in shock at the resting Vulpix. Could it really be her? Hadn't she left for good before I got the chance to meet her? She sighed, still curled up with her eyes closed.
"Right, you can stop piercing me with that look. We've finally met," she said.
Had I been unconsciously sending a psychic pulse? I could imagine her being able to recognize one. She then opened her eyes and looked at me. I looked back at her and smiled.
"Yes, we meet at last," I said. "And I can finally get to thank you for your gift."
"For a moment, I thought you'd be mad at me for staying in the shadows all this time. You're welcome, I knew you'd make good use of it," the Vulpix replied.
Jeff glanced between me and Solitude.
"Care to fill me in?"
"Sorry, I'll try to explain... It's a long story..." I began.
"I found a valuable object once. I kept it for some time, but then I left it for her to find," she summarized.
"Yes, that's how it happened. And it's been very useful to me since then. Not only has it helped me understand every pokemon that talks to me, but it has also warned me of some dangers in the past."
"It hasn't. It only made your own warnings clearer," Solitude corrected me.
"Right, I think we have figured out what it does, it enhances psychic abilities, right?"
The Vulpix nodded.
Jeff blinked.
"Wait. You couldn't understand Pokemon before you got this object?"
"Psychic abilities? What's all this about?," asked Firestar, the female Ninetales, at about the same time.
"One at a time, please," I requested.
"Errr... sorry. Um, Firestar can go first," Jeff conceded.
"I think I'll respond to your question first. It's easier," I told him. "It took me a while to understand my own team without the stone, and I still can't understand pokemon who have no psychic abilities and I don't share a bond with if I'm not touching it."
"That's strange..." Jeff seemed more puzzled than I would have expected, "...and is that pretty much standard for everyone else?"
"I think so, yes. Why?"
"I can understand most Pokemon anyway. I mean, that's how I knew these guys wanted to get to the Guild..." he replied.
"I see... Well, some people have shown that ability in the past. It's not too strange to see people or pokemon with special talents around here."
"Well, okay... it still puzzles me, though... But anyway. Uhm... what brought you here, Gabi?"
"We had a meeting earlier today. I didn't see you there, so I thought it best to tell you about it. The leader of the Crimson Blades has 'invited' us all to their base in the Shifting Isles. We know that it's a trap, but it was decided that we will go anyway, and try to overpower them somehow."
"Oh, joy. Thanks. ...If I had to take a guess at it, that's why Firestar, Ray, and Solitude are here too..."
"Exactly," Solitude confirmed. "So, the Shifting Isles? That's far away, isn't it?"
"I hope we can tag along," Firestar said. "And I also hope you guys explain to me what's this about psychic powers."
"Well, that's something you'd have to ask Gabi, not me," Jeff told her.
"Different abilities based on the power of the mind," I began my explanation. "Like telepathy, precognition..."
"I know what psychic powers are," the Ninetales said in a tone that made me feel quite stupid. "Why do you have them? And..." she now turned to look at Solitude "you too, right?"
The Vulpix sighed again. "I knew this would happen sooner or later. I do have some precognitive abilities. I don't know why, it's just the way things are. I never asked to be different."
"There'snothing wrong with being different," I stated. "The world would be quite boring if everyone was the same. And for the record, I don't know why either. I believe we may all have the potential to develop those abilities, just not everyone does, and clearly not to the same extent."
"There's probably soemthing genetic in it too," Jeff suggested. "Like, say, your parents have limited psychic abilities, you might inherit it."
"If my parents have those abilities, they're probably dismissing them as something else because they don't believe in them," I commented.
"I never said it was the only way to have those abilities; rather, it's just an option."
"Yes, it's an option. Anyway, as interesting as it would be to continue with this conversation, I'll have to ask you. What will you do?," I asked Jeff.
"Um, what do you mean? I can't stay behind. The man destroyed my home!"
"I just want to to consider the risks and make a conscious decision. It's a very dangerous mission. We may not return from it unharmed. We might not return at all."
"Regardless of the risks, this could be our only chance to stop DiAnnio," Jeff pointed out. "I think the possible benefits far outweigh the possible risks.*
"I guess so. We may be doomed if we don't go, which I think is why it was decided that we should accept the invitation."
"Why would we be doomed if we don't go?," asked Jeff.
"You've seen what the Crimson Blades are capable of. If we don't go, nothing will stop them from destroying whatever they set their eyes on, including us."
"Yeah, okay, true," he admitted. "So how are we getting there?"
"Rhiannon suggested going in several waves and attacking from different directions. There's no transport arranged for all of us this time, but I'm going with Pidgeot, and Lagi has offered to carry another team if she's needed," I informed him.
"Well, if this place is far away, I'm guessing Maza won't be able to Teleport us there... and I don't have any Flying Pokemon either."
"I'm sure Lagi will be glad to help you get there."
"Thanks."
"What about us?," asked Firestar.
"You could probably hitch a ride with me, if Lagi doesn't mind..." Jeff suggested.
"I hope this Lagi's strong enough to carry us all," Ray commented.
"That would be something to ask Gabi," Jeff said.
"No, that would be something to ask Lagi," I corrected him.
"Right... so where might Lagi be?," asked Jeff.
"Most of my team stayed at home, getting ready for the trip," I stated.
"That's probably what I should be doing, too. I wonder who I should take with me?"
"I think that's something you and your team should decide. In my team everyone is going."
"Well, it's something to mull over. Is there a set time that everyone's leaving at?"
"We've been given 48 hours. Which means we have to leave tomorrow, though there isn't a set time as far as I know. I guess each wave will have to arrange that."
"Waves? Which waves?"
"We're going in groups, did I not say that before?"
"No, actually, you just said we were going to try and overpower them."
"Ah, sorry. Well, we're going in several waves, that was Rhiannon's plan. Right now she seems to be the best war strategist among the Dragon Tamers."
"Okay, so who's in charge of what group?"
"The more questions you ask me, the more I worry about how badly organized this may be."
"Oh, sorry," Jeff apologized.
"What are you sorry about? I'm sorry that I didn't come up with all these questions during the meeting. That's something I'm really bad at, knowing what to ask."
"Maybe I should stop going to the hospital so often and actually attend these meetings," Jeff shifted his eyes.
"It's not your fault. But it wouldn't be a bad idea at all."
"So which group is everyone else going in?"
"Ade and I will be on different teams. There will be at least one other team, I don't know who'll be in it yet. Pidgeot, Tsunami and Water Angel will stay with my group. The others haven't decided which group to go with yet."
"Is there any difference between the teams' objectives?"
"Not really. We'll just try to strike from different points to have a better chance at breaching them. It's sort of a divide & conquer strategy."
"So it doesn't really matter which group I go in, then?"
"It doesn't matter."
"Well, maybe I'll just go with the third group then." He then turned to Firestar, Ray, and Solitude. "What about you?"
"The third group sounds about right," Solitude joined him.
"I guess it's the same, as long as we get there. But I think the three of us should go together," Ray suggested.
"Well then, we probably will be travelling together, won't we?," said Jeff.
"Yes,we are. I'm just wondering..." Ray began, but then looked at Solitude and Firestar. "Nothing, forget it."
"What?," Jeff asked.
"I was going to say something but I don't want Solitude to snap at me."
I had no idea what Ray was talking about.
"Oh, okay, fair enough," Jeff accepted, seemingly knowing more about the situation than I did. "Uhm, Gabi, when you head back, could I come with you and ask Lagi for her help?"
"Sure. I was thinking of offering you that myself."
"Thanks. What about these guys? Should they come as well?"
Solitude uncurled and stood up. "It looks like I'm not getting any rest today."
"Oh, sorry," Jeff apologized.
"It's not your fault. Sometimes I wonder if there's some kind of fate ruling my life and stoping me from actually living it."
"I've wondered that before myself," Jeff agreed.
"Why is everyone so negative?," I complained. "I know we're going through bad times, but things are about to change. And we can do something so that the change is for the better."
"That's true, but I wasn't trying to be negative; rather, I was just looking at how the events in my life have played out. I come here because a psycho destroyed my hometown, and when I come here, not only do I run across a whole bunch of people from my past, like Cam for example, but the same psycho is presentng us with an opportunity to strike at him. It seems a little to convenient."
"Yes, we do tend to come across the same beings again and again," I admitted. "That's another interesting thing to wonder about when we have the time. For now... we need to get ready for the assault, and hope it turns out better than the time we faced the Dark Cloak. Shall we go to my place now, or does anyone need to do anything else here?"
"Uhm... hold on a second." Jeff picked up 5 Pokeballs and recalled his pokemon to them before reaching for the nearest window. "Hey! Kiva! Anzu! 99! GG! I'm heading over to Gabi's. I'll explain more when I get back." He then returned to our side. "Okay, I'm good."
Solitude sighed yet again and followed us out to the street. I wondered what her problem might be.

"So... where is it you live?," Jeff asked me while we were walking. "I don't know where any of the other Guild members live, actually."
"Not far from here," I replied. "251 Rainbow Street. You'd think they chose the place by looking at my clothes. It's funny because the garden is about as big as the rest of the house. I guess they foresaw how big Sylvan and Water Angel were going to get."
"Cool. Do Soo and Ade live around here as well?"
"Ade and Soo live on 2 Windfall Crescent. A bit further from the Guild's HQ but not too far either."
It didn't take long before we reached our destination.
"So this is your house, huh? Pretty slick," Jeff commented.
"Scott gave it to me back when there were just a few of us in our division. I can't say I have any complaints, other than a few electrical problems every now and then. Come in, everyone should be waiting inside."
"Thanks."

Will have to continue splitting up...

Lady Vulpix
13th July 2005, 07:23 PM
<Still Gabi's POV>

We all entered the house, to find Ventura waiting for us in the living room.
"You didn't tell us you'd be bringing company," was her greeting.
"I didn't know I would," I responded. "Is there any problem?"
"No, everything's fine. Almost everyone has finished whatever it is they were doing. Only Pidgeot and Hero are out of the house."
"What are they doing?," I asked.
"You know them. Pidgeot's stretching his wings before the journey and clearing up his mind or something. Hero must have gone to see Tracker."
Then Solitude sighed once more. I hadn't heard anyone sigh so much in many years.
"Who are those 3?," inquired Ventura.
Amber walked into the living room before anyone could reply.
"Hi, Amber," Jeff greeted her.
"Hi, Jeff! And everyone else," she greeted us back. Then she noticed our companions. "Hmm...? Solitude?"
"You have a good memory," Solitude nodded.
"You're hard to forget, especially considering all I've heard about you," Amber stated.
"I guess I don't go unnoticed," the Vulpix reckoned. Something about her expression let me know she didn't like this one bit.
"Hold on a second. The Solitude?," Ventura queried.
"Wow, you're famous here!," Ray commented.
"If fate exists it must really hate me," Solitude frown, pressing her eyes shut.
"Are you kidding me?," Ventura confronted her.
"Why would I?"
"I'd tell you why, but I don't know how safe it is to talk about it."
"If it's about the stone, everyone here knows about it. We're among friends," I told her, figuring that was the only semi-secret subject related to Solitude that Ventura could be referring to.
"I'm certainly not gonna blab to anyone else," Jeff promised. "...Partially because I don't know terribly well what's going on..."
"Whoever the two Ninetales are. Honestly, Gabi, I think you're too quick to trust others, but what's done is done," Ventura scolded me. She never missed a chance to do that. "Ok, so Solitude... You have found that stone, and you have had the chance to do great things with it. Not to mention the abilities that I've heard you naturally have. How can you say that fate hates you?"
"It just doesn't leave me alone. I just wish I could have a shot at a normal life," Solitude replied.
"What is normal now, anyway?" "And what on Earth is a normal life?," Jeff and Ventura shot out at the same time.
"I see you and I share the same thoughts," Ventura remarked.
"Heh heh... great minds think alike?," Jeff laughed.
"Indeed. And I'd be happier to say it if Gabi and Amy didn't keep saying it themselves," replied the Venomoth.
"Ah, overused cliches... more fun than a barrel of monkeys," Jeff commented.
"Ok, maybe I overreact. I spent years thinking that everyone would label me as a freak and turn away from me if they found out I could see the future, and now that it's happened it seems almost normal for all of you," Solitude realized.
"Eh, there are stranger beings around," Jeff told her.
"Heh. I guess so. It doesn't make it any less ironic," the Vulpix smiled sadly.
"Just relax, man, nobody's gonna call you a freak here for being able to predict the future," Jeff assured. "Isn't that what Pandora can do?"
"That's right," I confirmed.
"Thank you, guys." Solitude's smile seemed more sincere this time.
"Am I the only one who's still confused?," asked Firestar. "You keep saying names and talking about things I know nothing about."
"I was hoping someone would explain something at some point," Ray joined her
At that point Groviglio popped out of his pokeball. "Don't worry. I've been wondering what's going on since Jeff left the barracks to go to the Guild meeting. It's something you learn to deal with..."
"Oh, hi, Groviglio," Amber greeted the Tangela.
"Howdy howdy howdy," Groviglio replied.
" Hi. What's going on is... that we're going to war. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but I can't think of any other way to say it," I explained
"Eh, works for me," Groviglio accepted my summary.

Then our group became a Vaporeon and an Espeon larger.
"Hey, what's all that noise?," asked Tsunami.
"I didn't know we had a party," joked Caledor.
"I wish it were a party," I commented.
Groviglio gave us an odd look.
"Oh, no! More Ninetales! They're invading us!," Now it was Tsunami's turn to joke.
"Can't you two be serious for a moment?," Ventura demanded.
"What's the use? If something bad is going to happen and there's no way to avoid it, we might as well use our chances to have fun while we can," Ray defended the newcomers.
"That's my style!," Caledor instantly agreed. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Me? I'm Ray. The beautiful lady by my side is Firestar and you've probably already heard of Solitude and are about to make a big fuzz about her presence like everyone else has so far."
"No way! This is THE Solitude?!," Groviglio moked us.
Solitude shifted her eyes. "I can't escape, can I?"
"Nah, don't worry, I'm just messing with your head," the Tangela confessed.
"Sorry about the fuzz I almost made," Caledor apologized. "It's just... you've virtually changed our lives, you know."
"Don't give me so much credit. Whatever I helped you do, you would have pulled it out one way or another."
"Well, I know I had my first psychic experience thanks to your stone, and it's helped me decide which way I wanted to evolve, so to me, you've made a big difference."
Solitude let out a small smile as her head sank between her shoulders. It was then that Lagi arrived.
"Hi, Lagi!," Jeff said with excitement.
"Hello, everyone," Lagi replied to the spoken and unspoken greetings.
"Hiya!," Kurtzwick emerged from his pokeball.
"Hi, Kurtzwick," Lagi said with a smile. "I was wondering what was going on around here. I have the feeling it's something big."
"Um, well, see, we kinda need your help," Jeff told her.
"What kind of help do you need?"
"We can't get to the Shifting Isles by ourselves, and Gabi said you might be willing to help..."
"Yes, and the three of us need help with that too," added Firestar, waving her tails and looking at Lagi with big puppy eyes.
Lagi laughed. "That always works for you, doesn't it?," she deduced.
"Pleeeeease?," Kurtzwick joined Firestar's attempt with the cutest look he could muster, causing Lagi to laugh even more.
"You really don't need to do that. Of course I'm helping you!"
"Thanks!," Ray cheered.
"Yes, thanks a bunch," Jeff thanked her as well.
"You're more than welcome. Now, you'll have to fill me in. I don't know who the three of you are, but from what I've picked up I can only assume that you" here she looked at Solitude "must be Solitude. Sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel embarrassed," she apologized immediately. "There's nothing to be ashamed of, let alone afraid of here."
"I guess I'll have to get used to getting attention eventually," Solitude conceded.
"And you two are her friends?," Lagi turned to the Ninetales couple.
"Yeah, back from our days in the pack," Ray said.
"Really?," Tsunami was suddenly filled with excitement. "Then you must know Hero too! Did you have different names back then? I've probably heard of you, he talks about his old pack a lot."
"He does? That's cool! Yes, we had different names back then. Firestar was Blessing, and I was..." he shut his eyes tight "not pleased by the name her parents gave me."
"Yeah, 'Speedy' hated his name too," Tsunami recalled. "So you're Blessing! You look a lot nicer than Hero gave you credit for!"
"I can imagine. He must have said I was a spoiled brat, didn't he?"
"You know him well. But I never believed word by word what he said, you must know he's not exactly perceptive when it comes to judging others."
"True, we're talking about the same pokemon here," the female ninetales agreed.
"Now, Ray, what was your name? I promise I won't laugh," insisted Tsunami.
"Ok, but remember your promise. My name was... Kid."
"Kid?!," Tsunami's eyes opened like plates. "You're THE Kid?"
"Wow! I'm not feeling so different all of a sudden!," Solitude commented.
"He talks about me too? Did he say good or bad things about me?," Ray asked, excited.
"Are you kidding?! You were his one best friend! And he keeps comparing me to you and calling me Kid all the time!," the Vaporeon revealed.
"Really? Wow! So... I reckon you and him must be good friends, then."
"I couldn't ask for a better friend. Don't tell him that, though. We have a sort of rivalry going on."
"Err... sorry to interrupt, but where is Hero?," Jeff inquired.
"Where does he always go before a big crisis? Off to the police station," Tsunami said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"I knew it," Solitude shifted her eyes.
"...Oh, right, Tracker," Jeff understood.
"It would be great to see him and Tracker again," Ray commented nostalgically.
"That's not something I'm looking forward to, but I might as well get ready for it too," Solitude said with a look of resignation.
"You're gonna have to do it eventually, no?," Jeff pointed out.
"I guess I will," she sighed. "Trying to escape only ends up bringing me back again and again."
"Whatever your problem is with Hero, he's a good guy. I'm sure he'll be okay with you," Kurtzwick assured.
"He's right. Things don't always go our way, but don't let a good feeling turn into a bad one because of that," Lagi advised her.
Solitude looked seriously freaked out when she looked at Lagi. "Now I see what you guys said about there being stranger creatures than me. I just feel as if my chest had been torn open."
"I'm sorry. I was trying to help you, not to make things worse," the Dragonite apologized.
"And now you know why Hero never wants to be around Lagi when he wants to keep his feelings to himself - or even from himself," Tsunami noted. "If it helps, I'll tell you that what she said didn't make any sense to me, and it probably didn't make sense to anyone else here."
"Yeah, I can pretty much confirm that," Groviglio agreed.
"Thanks. I just don't know how to handle so much exposure," Solitude said what was by now quite obvious.
"Sorry, I won't touch the subject again," Lagi promised.

"So what else do we need to cover at the moment?," Jeff changed the subject.
"Not much," I repied. "We have the location. We need to determine who's going where and then we're all set. I'll have to contact other Dragon Tamers to see who's coming with me. I've been through many wars, but that doesn't make me a warrior, and I don't think I can handle this one without at least one or two other trainers."
"I need to head back to Barracks and see which of my pokemon want to come with me," Jeff said.
"Bud, you're not going there without me. I can tell you that," Groviglio sounded determined.
"Ok, then we'll meet again later," I accepted.
"Can I please go with you?," Solitude asked them. "I don't think I can handle any more 'oh, is that THE Solitude' comments if more pokemon start showing up."
"Uhm, sure, I don't mind. I'm fairly certain my team won't know who you are," Jeff replied.
"That's the best news I've heard today," Solitude said with relief.
"Oh, yes, and ignore Groviglio. He's going to try and get on your nerves at some point; it's what he does to everyone," Jeff warned her.
"Hey, I don't do it to everyone..." Groviglio defended himself. "Just to those who need it. Like Maza."
"EXCUSE me?," tha Abra came out of his pokeball to complain.
"I don't think he can do any worse than Lagi did," Solitude voiced her opinion. "No offense."
"None taken, I earned it," admitted Lagi.
"Right, so I'll try and be in touch, Gabi. See ya later," Jeff said as he left the house along with his team and Solitude.

Ray insisted on staying and waiting for Hero to arrive, so Firestar agreed to stay with him. I led them to the pillow room, where they would be more comfortable while they waited. I offered them something to eat, which they accepted since they hadn't been able to grab anything at the plane... which made me question how exactly they had made it here; but I saved the three of us an awkward situation by not asking. I would have stayed with them longer, but I still had other things to do before we left, like catching up with my e-mails and talking to other Dragon Tamers to help us all get organised. I was surprised to get an e-mail from an unknown source saying "Good luck. See you when and if you get back." But other than that everything was normal. I only managed to catch Amy online, and she had yet to decide which group she would go with. I was more than a bit worried that we were acting too rashly, but it was too late to turn back.
"Don't worry so much," Lagi said from behind me. I'd been so immersed in my thoughts that I hadn't heard her walk in. "We'll make it," she assured.
"Thanks for your confidence. I need it," I thanked her.
"After the Dark Gengar, the Tower of Hoeth, the Black Battalion, the Dark Cloak and Templa Taure we deserve to have confidence in our ability to stay alive. Besides, we're not alone this time around."
"Are you referring to the Guild or to Rhiannon's wild card?"
"Both, actually. And there's more. Even Team Rocket is bound to be on our side this time. I'm not saying we should trust them, but they want the Crimson Blades gone as much as we do. And old friends from other places have already started coming to aid us."
"Ray, Firestar and Solitude?"
"Them, and at least a few others. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll have to leave for a short while. I need to greet them and they won't enter the city. They're already doing a great effort just by getting this close to a human settlement."
I had to admit Lagi was being more puzzling than ever today. I had no idea what she was talking about, nor how she could possibly know about it in the first place.
"It's ok, we haven't seen them for years. But they still remember us, just like I remember them. Our connection's still active."
Connection? Then it dawned on me.
"Are you talking about... your friends from the Dark Cave?"
Lagi nodded.
"I sense the worries of those around me, and they sense them through me. They've left their home for the first time in many years and they're coming to help us. Only a few of them have come, but by the way they've managed to overcome their fears and accepted to risk everything for us, they'll be a valuable help."
"Alright, go and greet them," I accepted, still shocked by the news. "Let them now how much we appreciate what they're doing."
"They already know," Lagi said with a smile.

Part 4 coming soon.

Lady Vulpix
13th July 2005, 07:24 PM
<Pidgeot's POV>

I felt a cold gust of wind blow across my feathers. Only then I realized how high I had been flying. I looked down. Everything seemed so small... everything except our problems. Whoever came up with the idea that flying alone could make your worries go away was wrong. Up in the silent sky, I had nothing but my worries to keep me company. I'd been dwelling on them for... how long? By the way the temperature had fallen, it must have been hours. I reckoned it was time to go back home. Whatever I hadn't sorted out in my mind by now wouldn't be solved until the following day, and I needed to get some rest and be ready for a long flight.

I descended a few meters to look at the landmarks and figure out which direction I had to take in order to return (I'd lost track of the turns I had taken) when I daw the shapes of two Charizards flying towards the city. It was far from usual to see Charizards coming from the forest, especially at a time like this when most trained pokemon were getting ready for the journey to the Shifting Isles. Of course some of us had different ways of preparing ourselves; they could be just like me. But I thought it was worth taking a closer look at them.

I flew over to where the Charizards were, staying slightly above them. I hovered over them for a few seconds ntil I came across an oposing air current and had to flap my wings in order to keep balance. Then I could't keep from being heard. One of the Charizards looked up. Fortunately for me, the face I met was a friendly one.

"Plum?" I was surprised to see Amber's mother in the city, especially now.
Both Charizards stopped advancing and turned to face me. I could see that the Charizard next to Plum was holding an Ivysaur in her arms. Both Charizards looked identical, except for their eyes.
"I remember you," Plum said. "You're one of Amber's friends, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. What are you doing here in Sector Alpha? And who are your friends?"
"We heard that there was trouble here and decided to help," Plum replied. "And these are two friends from Paradise Valley, who... would rather introduce themselves, I think." She looked at the other Charizard as she said this.
"Are you Sylvan's friend too?," the other one asked me.
"Yes, I am," I affirmed.
"Then I guess it's alright. My name is Rose, I am Sylvan's mother."
"And I'm Sylvan's father, Rock," the Ivysaur said. "And I'm not used to these heights. Flying is ok, but floating in one place so far from the ground is making me dizzy. Could we land, please?"
"I must admit I'm not used to it either," Rose said. "Is it ok if we continue this conversation on the ground?"
"Sure," I accepted.

We found a clear spot to land. The street we chose was empty, as many streets had been during the last few days.
"Sylvan never mentioned her mother was a Ditto," I said.
"It's not widely known," Rock told me. "She stays as an Ivysaur most of the time."
Backing up Rock's words, Rose took the form of an Ivysaur as her mate spoke.
"It's the shape I'm most comfortable with," she stated. "It's also the shape of the one I love."
Rose and Rock smiled at each other.
"You found her out a lot faster than I did," Plum told me.
"Well, there wasn't any other possibility I could think of," I explained. "If Sylvan's mother wasn't a pokemon from the Bulbasaur line, then she had to be a Ditto. Besides, she and you looked almost identical."
"She's good at what she does," Rock commended her. "She can also hold a transformation for many hours. That's why most pokemon at the valley think of her as an Ivysaur."
"And why don't you tell them the truth?"
"My close friends know," Rose said. "I'd rather not tell anyone unless I know I can trust them. Many treat Dittos with contempt, as if we were less than pokemon. My old trainer did that: he'd never let me battle or teach me any strategies; all he wanted was to have me breed with every pokemon he decided he wanted an offspring of, and since I wasn't willing to do that, he kicked me out."
"And I ran after her immediately," added Rock.
"That's awful," I understood. "It probably doesn't help telling you that I've been through worse, but I see how something like that can make you sensitive about your species."
"I'm sensitive about discrimination," Rose said. "I'm not ashamed of what I am, but some can only get to see me for who I really am if I look like something I'm not, as ironic as it sounds."
"I understand," I nodded. "Will you all come home with me? I'm sure Sylvan and Amber will be more than happy to see you. And once there we can all get organized for tomorrow."
"What happens tomorrow?," Plum asked.
"We're going to the Shifting Isles, where the Crimson Blades have their base. They're the ones responsible for all the latest attacks, and we're going to do what we can to stop them."
"Are you all going?," queried the Charizard.
"All my team and most other Dragon Tamers," I answered.
"In that case I think we should go as well," Rose suggested.
Both Rock and Plum agreed, and the three accepted my invitation.

I must admit that, considering it was the day before we all set ourselves into a mission that could cost us our lives, the overall mood was quite joyful. It was very different from all the previous times we'd done similar things. I guess Sylvan had a big part in this, since this time whe wasn't worrying and whining, but smiling and talking through her pores in order to catch up with her parents. I couldn't remember ever seeing her in such a lively mood before. And Amber was just as happy to see her mum and her old friends. And Hero? I heard the situation was a bit awkward when he came in, but by the time I arrived he and his friend Ray were laughing together and exchanging anecdotes and couldn't be happier to see each other. I made even me a little nostalgic. I didn't have many memories of my life in the wild... just a few flashes of my dad teaching me how to get food and how to hide in the shadows, and the warmth of my mum's feathers when she held me under her wing. I wondered what it would be like if I came across someone who knew me back then... or even if my parents were still alive. Too bad I didn't even know the name of the place where I was born, nor how far it was from Sector Alpha. All I remembered was that it had a good share of trees and bushes, and that wasn't a good reference at all.

<Ray's POV>

I'd been really looking forward to Hero's arrival. So much that I was shocked when he came in and didn't recognize me.
"I leave for a few hours and you've already replaced me by two other Ninetales?," he joked when he saw me and Firestar. "Well, at least you've had the decency to realize that one was not enough."
I couldn't help but realize that he, too, looked a bit different than what I'd expected. His eyes were now a brighter shade of orange, enhancing the fiery look they'd always had; the hair on his head was as messy as it used to be, maybe even messier; he had most of the traits any Ninetales would have, except that he had seven tails instead of nine.
"Hero?," I said. I don't know why I asked, it couldn't be anyone else, but still...
"Do I know you?," he asked me.
"I..." I didn't know how to react; the thought of Hero not knowing who I was had never crossed my mind.
"You'd better remember us," Firestar told him. "Him, at least. I know you're supposed to live up to your new name and all, but forgetting about someone whose life you have saved is too much even for you."
Hero looked at her, stunned for a moment. He then directed his look at me, and examined me carefully.
"It can't be..." he said after looking at me for about 15 seconds. "Kid?"
"In the flesh!," I cheered, happy to see that he had not forgotten me. "It's Ray now, though."
"That's alright. I've never liked most of the names those idiots Scorch and Flame came up with. Oh, man, have you grown up! This is amazing!"
Firestar faked a cough to get Hero's attention.
"And you would be...?," he asked her.
"I would be the idiots' daughter," she replied with a courteous smile.
Hero's temperature built up so much even we could feel it. He could have said many things, but he'd never been good at apologising. Instead what he said was...
"You two are still together?"
Firestar grinned and nodded.
"I know you've never liked my parents, or even me for that matter, but I must remind you that I never did anything to earn your scorn."
"She's right," I had to tell him. "She never did anything that I didn't do. And as far as I know you have nothing against me, do you?"
"Wha?! Of course not! And honestly I have nothing against you either, Blessing. I just didn't like the face that you always got your way because you were the leaders' daughter, while your parents kept putting obstacles in whatever I tried to do."
"It seemed to me that you were the one who was challenging them all the time," Firestar told him.
"Hero... Firestar... could you please not start a fight?," I urged them. "I care a lot for you both and you have no reason to fight each other."
"Wow, you really have grown up!," Hero commended me. "A few years ago you would have waited until we started attacking each other and then tried to freeze us in the middle of a move."
"That was my backup plan," I confessed. "But I was hoping it wouldn't come to that."
"Good thing because it wouldn't have worked," he chuckled. "I'm even faster than before and my Quick-Attack has improved."
"Unlike your modesty," Firestar rolled her eyes.
"Hey, if I were more modest, I'd be perfect!," he countered.
I sighed. "For a moment I thought you two were going to start again."
"Nah. My issues were never with her," Hero told me. "Plus there must be something good in her if you've stuck with her all these years."
I blushed.
"It's good to see you again," I said.
"Same here. Even though you two were the last ones I expected to find here in my house. What are you doing here?"
"Someone told us you and your friends might need some help," I informed him. "After what you've done for me, coming here to lend a paw was the least we could do."
Hero smiled.
"Well, this is a bit above diving into the lake in the danger scale, but if you know what's at stake and still want to help, I'll be glad to have you by my side."
"We've already had a briefing after we came here," I told him. "Now, on a totally different subject, may I ask you something?"
Back then I thought changing the subject would be a good idea. My bad.
"Sure," Hero said.
"What happened to your tails?"
Hero's face went pale. His eyes got lost in the distance. He stayed like that for about two seconds and then blinked twice.
"Nothing happened to them. They never came out," he finally said. "Sorry, for a moment I forgot how much things had changed."
"Oh. Is anything wrong?," I asked him.
He looked at me for a few seconds. I was starting to get worried, but then he smiled.
"Nothing's wrong," he told me. "Not when it's you I'm talking to. We're still good friends after all this time, aren't we?"
"Yes... Yes, we are."
"I must tell you that I've done quite a lot of things since I left the pack," he said. "I won a tournament and the first Eevee House race, I helped stop a lot of threats all over Ulthuan, even took a bullet from a Rocket's gun. I had to spend 3 weeks without running after that; it was hell but I managed it, and now I'm better than ever."
"That's great!," I told him. "Firestar and I have done quite a lot of things too. We found 2 trainers who took us with them to the Pridelands. They live next door to each other, and we've always managed to stick together no matter what. Oh, and I must tell you how we got back to Ulthuan, but please don't tell anyone."

And so we kept on talking for the rest of the day. We talked about the old days in the forest, our new lives, our trainers, our teammates, what we knew about the rest of the pack (when I mentioned Solitude was going to meet us the following day he said it was high time, and he blushed when I asked about Tracker), our children (we were both surprised to learn that the other was a father) and many other things. He seemed to avoid talking much about the day he left the pack, so I stopped bothering him with questions about it. I was just happy to see him again. My old friend... my childhood hero. Now I felt even closer to him than I did before. He seemed more earthly, more like me... But that must have been because I had matured. He caught me completely off-guard when he mentioned, laughing, that he'd once been afraid of meeting me again.
"Afraid of meeting me?! Why?!," I couldn't believe my ears.
"Nothing. I'm just dumb like that sometimes. I thought you might not look up to a Ninetales with 2 missing tails."
"You should be punished for thinking I'd be so brainless!," I told him.
"Oh, I never thought you were brainless, Kid. It's just that I still have a lot to learn about seeing everyone as they truly are. Even myself."
"Well, ask me next time you need a reminder," I offered. "Or any of the other pokemon you have helped. You truly live up to your new name."
Hero blushed visibly. "I think Scorch and Flame should let Tracker name the members of the pack from now on."

Part 5 coming soon.

Lady Vulpix
13th July 2005, 07:24 PM
<Gabi's POV>

Not much happened after Pidgeot and the others came in, other than the reunion talks and dinner. It was hard to prepare a dinner for so many pokemon; Amber, Lagi and I worked hard on it, and thankfully Plum offered her help as well. She had some interesting ideas for creative soups, so we managed to use just about everything we had in the kitchen. I made a note to go to the supermarket as soon as we returned from our mission. Then I got some calls from a few trainers who confirmed they were coming to the Blades' base, and we managed to arrange the times meeting points for the departures of the three waves. Lagi said her friends from the Dark Cave were going to meet her when the third wave was ready to leave.

<Hero's POV>

I lost track of time while talking to Ray, Firestar, Tsunami and Caledor. I just realized it was getting a bit late when Caledor went to sleep, but decided to stay up just a bit longer, and that bit turned out to last almost until sunrise. Just when I had managed to fall asleep, I got a nasty wake-up call sent right through my skull.
"Bug pokemon should learn not to wake up fire pokemon who have stayed up all night!," I roared, not even opening my eyes. Then I heard Caledor's voice.
"We're leaving with the first wave! Good luck on yours!"
I did raise my head and open my eyes this time.
"Good luck to you two!," I said. "It wasn't you who sent the pulse, right?"
"Nah, it was Ventura. I don't do those things. Sleep well! See you there!"
"Thanks."
With that, I went back to sleep.

I woke up around 11 AM, when the second wave was getting ready to head off. Gabi showed me where she'd left the breakfast for me and my friends, and I got more good wishes from Tsunami.
"Take care, kid!," I told him. "I guess I can't call you kid any longer now that the original Kid is here."
"I don't mind what you call me. What you think about me is what matters."
"Really? I never thought it did."
"There are many things you never thought," he stuck his tongue out. "Give those Blades a beating and come back safe. We still need to have that shooting contest we arranged after the Guild's banquet."
"No idiotic Crimson Blade is going to come close enough to touch me."
I knew I was bluffing. So did he. We always bluffed. There was nothing wrong with faking overconfidence as long as we didn't get careless. Still, I trusted we'd both return victorious. But that didn't help the feeling of void I had when I saw Tsunami walk through the door. The house felt really empty with only me, Lagi, Iael and two sleeping Ninetales left.

Things got a bit more lively when Ray and Firestar woke up. They skipped breakfast and jumped straight to lunch. They asked a lot of questions about the mission we were going on, and for some reason Ray insisted on me not snapping at Solitude when I saw her. Turns out all his precautions were aimed at the wrong target, for it was Solitude who ended up snapping when she saw me.

It was around 2 in the afternoon, when we met everyone who was going in the third wave. Solitude approached me slowly, and asked if we could talk for a moment. I followed her away from the crowd. Her appearance hadn't changed much in the last few years, but she was acting strangely. Strange for her, which was neither her usual strangeness nor normality, just a different kind of strange. As soon as we were alone, she started crying. I had no idea what to do in a situation like that. I froze for a moment, and then she started saying "I'm sorry" repeatedly.
"Please calm down," I told her.
"I'm so sorry," she continued.
"Ok, you're sorry, I got that part. I'm just not sure of what it is you're sorry about. I mean, youdid give me the wrong impression of you for years, but I've already learnt that that doesn't take a lot of effort. And you could have shown your face all those times you were one step ahead of me, but... why are you crying like that?"
She sniffed and looked up at me. "You don't know, do you?"
"I'm stumped," I confessed.
"I should have known. You really haven't changed that much."
"Could you please explain yourself?"
"Explain myself? I don't think so. I'm a puzzle not even I can solve. I don't know why I do the things I do. I'm like a drifting boat, at the mercy of the tides."
"Now that was really poetic, but I'm as stumped as before. Why are you crying? Is there any way I can help you?"
"I wonder if you'd still want to help me if you'd known what I did... or, rather, what I didn't do and could have done. Maybe it wouldn't have helped, but I could have at least tried. I was so selfish... You're much better than me... Hero."
"O...kay. I'm still clueless. You'll have to forgive me if what you're saying is supposed to make sense. I didn't get much sleep last night."
"I rarely make sense. I talk to myself more than I talk to others. How do you manage it? Being strange and still having a normal life."
"I'm, not strange," I told her. "If you're referring to my tails, it's just the outside. Those who get to know me soon forget about it, or at least realize it's not important. Is that what you were asking about?, because I noticed you didn't even look at them."
"Oh, I was the first one to see you as a Ninetales," she revealed. "Please don't hate me for that. And for not telling you earlier. But you're right, you're only strange on the outside. I'm strange on the inside. That must be the difference."
"It's up to you whether you want to act strange or not. And even if you do, everyone is strange one way or another around here. It's the beauty of this place."
"Yes, I've met your friend Lagi already."
"Lagi can be quite a handful. But she has good intentions. She wouldn't hurt a fly, possibly because it would hurt her back. Though I must admit I didn't like her knowing about my feelings for...someone, before I was clear about them myself."
"Then I'm afraid that's one more thing you'll have to forgive me about."
"WHAT?! Lagi's an empath, I can get that. Tsunami's scarily perceptive and rarely leaves my side. But you? What's your excuse? Am I so obvious and so dense at the same time that everybody knows what I'm feeling before I know it?!"
"Err... that's precognition for you. I've been stuck with it since I was born. No idea why."
"I knew you were hiding something, but I didn't know your abilities were that strong."
"There were only that strong when I had the stone with me. You can relax now, my premonitions are neither so frequent nor so clear anymore."
"I wonder if Pandora knew... Well, there's no use in dwelling on that now. It seems to be public knowledge already."
"If it helps, I think you and Tracker make a great couple. She deserves you."
"Thanks, I guess. I only wish she were coming with us. It would be great to have 5 members of the old pack together."
"She isn't?"
"She's a police pokemon. She can't leave the city just like that. She's going to protect Sector Alpha while the rest of us are gone."
"Then she is helping us with our mission," Solitude said. "And don't worry, I think we'll have a meeting after all. We can go back with the others now. Sorry about everything and thanks for not hating me. I hope you still don't hate me once you've put two and two together."
I was puzzled again, but I was getting used to it. I couldn't tell whether Solitude was more mysterious when she spoke or when she stayed quiet. I didn't get much of a chance to think about that, though, since the group was waiting for us, along with a Noctowl, an Unown I, a Misdreavus, and Tracker!

I don't think the rest of what happened until we reached the base is worth reporting. Tracker was just there to give us her good wishes personally and give me a good luck kiss, which destroyed any hope I still had of keeping our relationship unofficial. Not that it really mattered anymore, but I wished I'd had a chance to decide when and how to tell everyone. Though maybe I had delayed it way too long and everyone had already found us out. Now the base... that's another story, and it will be told soon enough.

Phew! Done!

AntiAsh Superstar
15th July 2005, 06:56 PM
Gabi: Wow. Seriously, if that's your intro I'm really looking forward to the main part. It was interesting to learn a bit more about Hero's old pack seeing as I wasn't around for the whole original Solitude thing. btw, keep her away from Milliardo whatever you do. I think he's got an 'OMG you're *the* Solitude????' lined up for her just for the sake of being a prat. :P Have 14 stamps (I gotta say I really loved Solitude and she's prolly responsible for at least some of those stamps. Hehe, does this surprise you in any shape, way or form?) and is it me or has the max post length been stupidly shortened, I swear that would have been at most a two-parter once upon a time...

Lady Vulpix
16th July 2005, 07:37 PM
Thanks, Ade! :) Yes, Solitude can't seem to stay away from my stories, even if she tries to. :P I've just noticed I made a whole lot of typos. I hope that didn't bother you when you read it. >_< It's like my hands type something that sounds similar to what my mind tells them... And yes, I'm sure I would have been able to fit that into 2 posts back at the vB, or at least at the UBB.

*Murkrow
22nd July 2005, 09:08 AM
This is for the previous scenario which I had an extension for.
Just a couple of general things; this is kind-of a restart without a restart. Any Pokémon I've had before who has left the team now technically won't have existed- there won't be any mention of them, nor will any of my Pokémon have any recollection of them. This is simply because I realised that I probably enjoyed writing my first two stories the most simply because I had no background I had to implement. And this was the easiest way to recreate it. All my remaining Pokémon stay the same though, in levels, moves etc.
And I'm done with POV's, they were getting annoying ¬_¬
I also have not read anybody else's stories for this scenario other than a quick skim through so it more than likely deviates from everything else already posted. I-frankly- don't give a damn.

Er, and just a quick mention of two attack used in this; Xol is using Hidden Power: Rock when she is manipulating the two actual rocks, and the Eevee's dark aura is Hidden Power: Dark.
And for the record, the genetically enhanced Pokémon in this have these additional attacks:
Aipom: Bulk Up, Crush Claw
Eevee: Psychic, Teleport

And last, but not least, Xol's battle is an RBG I got ages ago. I included it here becuase it actually made me write the damned thing. And it gave me a chance to expand on her history.

*Contains swearing and blood.*

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

The steady trickle of water meandered gently along its narrow route; its steady flow seeming to echo out into the quiet of the forest.
Thick, moss covered rocks guarded its banks, shimmering even in the dim light, as water droplets coated their sides. Here and there shone the dull gleam of bare rock, water covered, reflecting the moonlight. Saplings leant over the rocks, vegetation thick, their roots twisting around and through the obstacles in their path as they burrowed into the moist soil that was hidden beneath the boulders.
Further along, the stream tumbled down, a miniature waterfall, the crash of the water barely louder than the murmur of the stream.
The water gathered there briefly, a tiny pool, before leaching through the rock and continuing its journey, vanishing into the thick undergrowth.
Along the right-hand side of the pool, the vegetation and rocks had gradually been worn away, by the comings and goings of the inhabitants of the area, creating a rough track that snaked its way back and forth from the pool to the forest.
Through the gaps in the foliage that rustled above the pool, the moonlight was able to gently brush the water, causing it to shimmer as the stars twinkled in their reflections.

The Pokémon watched in stony silence. This was the best time to visit here; one of the advantages of being nocturnal. Barely anything stirred at around this time of night, and those that were up generally had more pressing matters than coming to sit and reflect on their lives at the side of a puddle of water.
She grinned at that thought. ‘Reflect on their lives?’ Who’d have thought that she’d ever end up doing that? Still….it was something to do, especially on nights like this when her body refused to shut down and sleep. Even after all this time her internal clock hadn’t accepted that she was meant to be diurnal now…which was especially difficult at times because instinct came and taunted her most then.
Almost in a bored fashion, she pondered how long it had actually been since she’d had to hunt to feed; the calculations flickered through her mind as she racked up the dates and she involuntarily drew her breath. ****…..that long? Part of her dreaded thinking how much her skills may have declined.

Suddenly her senses jolted to life and she twisted her head round to gaze behind her. Slowly, a familiar smell began to reach her and she smirked to herself. Something had just been done in. Inhaling deeply to savour the scent, she carefully clambered to her feet, wondering vaguely if she would be able to get away with tracking down the kill. You know….just to see.

Something snapped in the undergrowth behind her; next second, a round-ish object shot past her, falling with a satisfying squelch a couple of inches from the pools edge. It was what was giving off that oh-so enticing scent. But she didn’t move, recognising the style of the challenge as well as who was now making their way nimbly towards her. Turning her back to the forest, she smirked to herself as she sensed the perpetrator stepping onto the rough track and stopping, a couple of metres away from her.

‘Hi Cormon.’
‘Hi Xolotle.’

He’d dropped that annoyingly cocky tone in his voice, she couldn’t help but notice. That was good…in a way. Now she had one less reason to get pissed off at him. Though that was not always necessarily a good thing. Some of her best memories of the Pokémon was the sight of him after she’d pounded him into a bloody pulp.

‘You’ve kept going for a hell of a lot longer than I thought you would,’ he chuckled, ‘though you never used to back down from a dare.’
‘Hell no.’ She flung a smirk over her shoulder at him, taking the opportunity to get a good look at his appearance. She was disappointed. She hadn’t seen him for well over a year and a half, but he looked essentially the same as he had done back then. Still slightly scrawny, with an expression that seemed to speak of a little too much desperation. His eyes were still slightly glazed as they had always been…though she did feel a rush of satisfaction as she registered that he was favouring one of his front legs slightly, obviously unwilling to put too much weight on it. That was her doing, she knew. He’d pissed her off one day so she’d simply nearly ripped his leg apart and shattered a bone at the same time. He was in agony for weeks afterwards, and to know that even now the injury hadn’t fully healed gave her a whoosh of pleasure.

He must have read the expression on her face, because he laughed and shook his head. ‘And here I was thinking that one of the reasons you’ve been away so long was because you’d gone soft.’
She rolled her eyes rather than say anything in return, knowing full well that he’d be able to see it. They’d spent years training their senses at night - specifically their eyesight; as a result, they could essentially see what they could during the day, just minus the colour. She could see better than he could - whereas everything had razor-sharp edges for her, whatever the distance, he had trouble at times discerning between different objects at a distance. Not that she’d ever really tried to help him with that; it just gave her more ammunition to insult him with.

Chuckling and shaking his head, Cormon trotted lithely past, before baring his teeth and starting to savage his meal. Despite everything, as the delicious scent of blood became thicker, she couldn’t help but shift forwards slightly.
‘Want some?’ He glanced round, a ragged piece of flesh in his jaws and blood dripping steadily to the ground.
‘I never accepted any food from somebody else’s kill, and I’m not going to start now,’ she replied calmly, with a smirk.
‘Fair enough. Have it your way. Though I guess you get given all your meals nowadays?’
‘Indeed,’ she answered dryly, ‘which can be a strain. It’s nice enough, but I miss the adrenaline rush I used to get when I caught my own food.’
‘What’s stopping you from going and catching something now?’ He inquired with a shrug. ‘Unless you’re worried that you’re being tailed and will be kicked off your team if word gets round that you killed a couple of Pokémon during the night?'
‘No. I hated killing stuff at night, and I’d have thought that you’d have remembered that. There’s no skill required in sneaking up on a sleeping Pok€mon and slitting its throat.’
Ok, maybe she should have been slightly more tactical with that. Cormon twitched and paused for a second before he resumed his chewing.
‘And where was the ‘skill’ when you almost got us trampled by that Ponyta herd because you thought it would be interesting to try and catch a foal?’
‘Um, Cormon, the skill was that I managed to persuade you to come in the first place, then chased the whole herd towards you so you almost got trampled to death.’ She caught his eye and shrugged. ‘Hey, I never said what kind of skill I was talking about, did I?’
He grumbled. ‘No.’
‘So…how close are you to evolving yet?’
He coughed, choking on his mouthful; swallowing it awkwardly, he turned ominously slowly and snarled at her. ‘Listen, bitch. That’s none of your business, and I’m not going to stand around and let you insult me like that, got that?’
‘Got what? That you haven’t been able to find enough ridiculously weak Pokémon to fight that’ll help you to evolve? Though that might not be a bad thing, Corm…Houndoom’s have got a certain grace about them; they might not want you to go around ruining their reputation.’

Oh, this was what she loved the most. Seriously, what sort of idiot would rise to such a clichéd insult? And so stupidly over the top?

‘SHUT YOUR MOUTH’

Oh yeah….Cormon.

‘YOU SAY ONE MORE THING, YOU LITTLE SLUT AND I’LL…’

Now she thought about it, this had been the basis of every little fight, argument, disagreement, falling out that they’d ever had. Oh joy.

‘UNDERSTAND?’

Oh screw it; she wasn’t going to break with tradition.

‘Do I understand that you’re never going to evolve? Sure thing, Corm.’

He charged.

Springing lithely away, she bounced onto one of the lower rocks and leapt for the top of the waterfall. It was only about two and a half metres tall, so she easily scrambled over, splashing through the tiny stream as a burst of flame shot over her head, hitting some of the over-hanging foliage instead.
As the flames began to crackle over the leaves, she crouched down in the stream, letting her mind relax as she felt the water trickling over her claws and splashing against her fur. She’d never used this attack before, but the feel of the water increased her confidence, as did the sensation of her mind disengaging itself from any hidden worries or fears.
It only took a couple of seconds for Cormon to follow her path, springing gracefully to the ridge of the waterfall. Yet even as he landed, flames dripping from his jaws, she released her breath and shot five sky blue bubbles at him, which popped onto his face, splashing water into his mouth, into his eyes and down his front.
Coughing in irritation, he shook his body fiercely, before he snapped his head up and shot a jet of orange-red flame directly at her. She dodged it easily, yet in the same detached manner. The fire didn’t feel as hot as it hurtled past her, nor did she feel that much fear. It wouldn’t hurt her bad; neither did it matter that her attack had not struck with the force that she’d hoped for. Never mind. Just stay calm and things would be alright.

Cormon snarled to himself as he hopped onto one of the rocks, getting his paws out from the stream. Stupid, damned water. Now where did she go?
‘Run away, have you Xol? How unlike you. I guess you are getting soft after all,’ he jeered to the surroundings, his eyes scanning the shifting, jerking shadows, as the burning trees sent shafts of light shooting through the environment.
A rushing sound from his right grabbed his attention and he whipped round and let out a scream even as the bubbles crashed into him. The scream instantly doubled in volume, the agony in the voice increasing, suggesting pain and torture to its intended victim.

Xolotle heard the scream and staggered. Her attack cut off as the agonised shriek drummed into her head, bursting even through the self-inflicted trance she’d created. Gritting her teeth, she tried to focus her mind again, but even as she reached for the knowledge of the attack, the screaming commenced again, tormenting, echoing in her head.
Abandoning her attempt, she suddenly registered that the actual scream had died out. Panicking slightly, she spun round, extending her claws to their full length, fully prepared to rip into her opponent if he was close.

Instead, all she was greeted with was a smile, before Cormon nodded and the blue fire balls circling his body exploded outwards. One scorched the side of her left arm, instantly beginning to eat away through her sleek fur as a wisp of smoke rose into the air. Wincing, her automatic reaction was to splash back into the stream and extinguish the burn, but Cormon had already pounced from his vantage point and smashed his head into her chest, effectively pinning her against one of the rocks.

He grunted with the effort, seemingly attempting to crush her into submission, but Xolotle hissed at him, then wrenched her head down and sank her fangs into his ear before ripping upwards again.
Howling in shock, he relaxed his grip enough for her to bring her right claws scything down onto his muzzle. The flesh tore easily, blood flowing out and splattering onto her claw.
Whining, Cormon pulled back, mouthing wordlessly in pain; she wasn’t going to let him get off easily though, and sprung forward to crash into him. The force of the blow knocked him onto his back, and sent her tumbling off to slam into one of the rocks on the opposite side. It hurt, but wasn’t enough to stop her rolling over to land in the inch or so of water in the stream, dousing her burning arm. It stung as she moved it, but the cool water had done its trick.

Staggering to her feet, she faced off against him again, as the Pokémon drew his bleeding lips back and snarled at her. Blood was flowing down his legs and dripping from his back. As he crouched down to spring, she saw the gash oozing blood, just past his shoulder blade.
She smirked to herself; idiot must have landed on a sharp rock when he fell back.

The flames licking from his mouth brought her back to earth rapidly, and she scrambled round, jumping over the edge to splash into the pool below. Instantly, Cormon lunged after, sticking his head over the side to spit a large, filthy smelling ball towards her. She dodged the main attack, but as the ball hit the water, it exploded, dousing her with a stinging, acidic substance that she felt begin to eat at her back immediately. Not only that, but blobs were now thickly covering the surface of the pool, their nauseating smell wafting up to mingle with the smell of burnt wood.
Feeling slightly sick, Xolotle lifted her head and met Cormon’s gaze as he stared down at her. He looked oddly regal, standing against the backdrop of burning trees, with a self-satisfied smirk lingering on his face, even as the blood continued flowing form his wounds.

She somehow managed a smirk back, even as she felt the poison beginning to work its way into her skin. Then she shouted out; two words. A flash of white light erupted around her body, before the two of the rocks further beyond Cormon flared white and ripped up, sending soil and shards of plant root flying as they were torn from their resting place.
Haring the noise, Cormon shot round, managing to get a good look at what was heading towards him, before the rock crunched into his body. Xolotle blinked serenely, then gathered her energy and spat a stream of bubbles that shot up and caught Cormon in the back of his legs, making him stumble and fall. The two rocks rocketed into him again, and he fell back, crashing into the pool, before the rocks fell with two crunching thuds.

Trembling, Xolotle dragged herself to the edge of the pool, making a face as she clambered out near the remains of Cormon’s meal. Rolling so she was facing instead the still churning pool, she collapsed on her side and waited, watching as the dark shadow dragged itself from the water as she had done.
Despite everything, she wasn’t going to kill her old friend. She’d controlled the rock fall enough so that it had not administered any fatal – well, at the moment- injuries upon her old companion.

Sure enough, he still had the strength and abilities to manage to scramble from the pool to slide into an ungainly heap upon the ground. She smiled as she noticed that the leg she had injured so badly before was now limp and motionless, with blood pulsing freely. He’d never be able to truly shake all memory of her now, for sure.

‘I really should learn, shouldn’t I?’ he whispered hoarsely.
‘You never will,’ she answered coldly, before the Pokémon shuddered and slipped into unconsciousness.

She lay silent for a second, hearing the crackling of the flames above her, feeling the poison assaulting her body, staring at the silent body of the Houndour. A dry sob shook her body and was suppressed.

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

Poke.

Poke poke.

‘C’mon, Xolly, wake up. Come on girlie, come on.’

Poke.

Slash.

Shriek.

Xolotle laughed to herself as she opened her eyes a slither to see Latino flapping helplessly on the floor beside the sofa, a long shallow cut crossing his front.

‘Oh grow up; it’s nothing,’ she snapped, irritation replacing her amusement suddenly as it registered that he was actually in distress and not play acting as she had thought he was.
‘Nothing?’ He spluttered in reply, looking aghast. ‘You could have ripped me open, if you’d attacked any harder.’
‘Now there’s a thought,’ Xolotle laughed, ‘you think that I haven’t considered that?’
Latino blinked at her for a second. ‘Are you alright?’
‘In what way?’
‘Well, you’re never seemed to feel the need to cut somebody open just because they were trying to wake you to tell you that you need to get up because we’re going out soon or because they were just curious as to why you were asleep on the sofa anyway when you definitely did not fall asleep there last night.’
Xolotle snorted and rolled her eyes as she uncurled from her protective ball. ‘Just because I’ve never been in the mood to cut you open before does not mean that there is anything wrong* when I do feel the need to. Nor, incidentally, is it your business. Did it even strike you as possible that maybe I just got up in the night for a drink and fell asleep because I couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way back? No? Then you must be some sort of f***ing idiot.’
The Murkrow scowled, not taking too lightly to the insult, before he snapped back. ‘I’ll assume that you also did a bit of cooking when you got your drink? And you accidentally scalded yourself?’
‘What are you on about?’
‘That.’ He outstretched a wing and pointed at the burn on her left arm, which was contrasting obviously against her perfect fur.
She narrowed her eyes at him, her mind working frantically. ‘It’s nothing.’ She sat up and winced; Latino looked at her curiously then flew up to get a look at her back.
‘And I guess the fact that your fur seems to have been burnt off or discoloured is nothing as well? Or the fact that you skin is…urgh…blistering.’
She spun round, seized his beak in her right claw and grabbed a handful of his wing-feathers with her left. ‘Listen you. Read my lips. Nothing. To. Do. With. YOU. Understand me?’
He nodded frantically, before she flung him onto the cushion and hopped onto the floor, refusing to wince or show any sign of pain.
Ignoring him completely, she darted out of the room and into the adjoining corridor that led to the kitchen. It was only a few metres long, but she paused to take a deep breath. Then she smacked her head against the wall. Why the hell was she taking things out on Latino? Sure he was going to be curious; he always was. Heck, everybody was going to be curious.
Damn that Cormon.
Nor did it entirely help that she had no real idea how she had got back either. Evidently she’d cleaned her wounds off, but she couldn’t remember doing so. Actually….she had ended up pretty out of it last night from general exhaustion; maybe it wasn’t so bad.
A shout of laughter dragged her attention back to the present and she trekked into the kitchen. Hannah was sitting at the counter with her laptop, while Archie and Kaiko were pressed up against the window, pointing and laughing at something outside.
‘What’s going on?’
‘Hannah told Fizz to go down and try to get Tropi into her Poké Ball before we go out,’ laughed Archie. ‘Needless to say, she refused to, so now Fizz is having to try to ‘persuade’ her.’
‘Sounds wonderfully amusing,’ Xolotle smirked, then glanced round. Where are we going, anyway?’
‘Read.’ Hannah shoved the laptop in her direction.
A quick scan told Xolotle all she needed to know; she’d learnt to read ages ago.
‘She did it!’ Kaiko suddenly burst out laughing. He and Archie pushed the window open as Fizz fluttered in, with about half her feathers sticking in the wrong direction. She was clutching a severely battered Poké Ball in her claws which she deposited next to Hannah before collapsing onto the floor.
‘Never again,’ she whined, making Archie giggle.
‘Thanks, though,’ Hannah grinned at her, pocketing the ball. ‘I didn’t really want to have her wandering around when we went out.’
‘Understandable,’ Xolotle grinned, tapping at the laptop keys.
‘Xol….what…?’ Fizz raised her head and stared at her.
‘Nothing; it’s none of your business, and if you want to find out what’ll happen to you if you insist, then go take a look at Latino.’
There was a sudden silence.
‘Er..please tell me exactly what you mean by that,’ Archie muttered quietly, his pupils dilating.
‘She means that she’ll waste no time slashing at you or attempting to tear your feathers or fur out,’ grumbled Latino, flying in, looking strangely murderous. The look really didn’t suit the little crow at all.
‘Well, that’s what happens when you meddle in other peoples business,’ Xolotle said sweetly, before hopping down from the counter and waltzing out.

The walk there was uneventful. Latino was still in his mood, until Hannah and Fizz tempted him with some money; the irresistible way it sparkled in the sunlight was enough to make him forget everything else.
And although Tropitorm decided the time was right to break out of her Poké Ball, she only scared a couple of people before being successfully recalled.

By the time that they’d all gotten in and settled down in their seats, Xolotle was in a pretty large amount of pain. Her back was stinging upon contact with the tiny breeze there had been while walking and yet at the same, the temptation to itch it was extreme. She’d also been getting odd looks from random passers by which had not done anything to help her temper.
It also didn’t help that nobody was being very sympathetic; they were all taking the line ‘you won’t tell us what happened, we won’t bother with your problem.’
She claimed a chair as her own and curled up on it, buried her face in her claws and dozed off.

She was woken by some very tentative poking from Archie who flinched away the second she opened her eyes. She blinked dazedly then yawned and stared round.
‘How long was I out for?’
‘About an hour and a half,’ smiled Latino from his perch on the back of her chair. She glared at him, but he just laughed it off.
‘And considering you missed everything said in the meeting, you’ll have no idea what we now have to decide, do you?’ Fizz commented bluntly.
‘True.’
‘Let’s get outside, first. Then we can fill both of you in before we make a decision,’ Hannah pointed out, as she wandered into the aisle and started heading for the exit.
‘What do you mean by ‘both of us’,’ Xolotle called after her, feeling slightly confused.
‘Well, who else on the team missed the meeting- and not because she fell asleep because the sofa obviously doesn’t make a good enough bed?’ asked Latino innocently.
‘Oh shut up.’

By the time the five of them had managed to get outside, Tropitorm had already been released and was glaring in a threatening way at the nearest group of people who shrank back instinctively.
‘So why the f*** are we here?’ she snapped as soon as her eyes landed on her team-mates. ‘Please tell me it’s not something to do with humans once again f***ing up the world.’
‘Um….depends how you mean by that.’ Archie coughed, avoiding meeting her eyes.
‘Well?’
‘Basically, two things. Contact with a ‘top-secret’ genetics laboratory has been lost; people are needed to investigate, but watch out for Team Rocket, Crimson Blades or genetically altered Pokémon. Or else go to Sector Alpha and prepare for an assault by genetically enhanced soldiers.’
‘Essentially, humans screwing around with nature again?’ Tropitorm stated simply, her voice quietly triumphant.
Everybody flinched and avoided looking at her.
‘Then we’re going to the lab.’
‘Huh?’ All eyes turned to her.
‘Anybody who screws around with nature deserves to be shot, but if it’s a choice between Pokémon having their lives screwed up or humans then I’ll choose to try to help the Pokémon. It’s not their fault they’ve been experimented on.’
‘But what if the soldiers didn’t consent either?’ inquired Archie hesitantly.
‘Screw them. Humans are retards anyway. All of them,’ she added emphatically.
‘Thanks,’ Hannah rolled her eyes. ‘So; we’re going to the lab?’
‘Seemingly,’ grinned Fizz.
‘But what do we do until the transport leaves in twelve hours?’ Archie put in curiously.
‘Go there on our own,’ snarled Tropitorm in response.
You know the way to the top-secret genetics laboratory?’ asked Kaiko, who then bolted as the Tropius lunged at him.
‘Calm down, Tropi…’ spluttered Fizz. ‘If we’re going to have to wait that long, why don’t we put the time to good use?’
‘Like what?’ hissed Tropitorm in irritation.
‘Like going to find my Mudkip,’ Hannah muttered, walking off in the direction Kaiko had vanished in.
‘Or… how about I pay you back for earlier?’ questioned Fizz with a grin. Tropitorm blinked at her for a second.
‘What?’ she asked.
‘Oh, you’ll see……’

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

Archie peered over Fizz’s shoulder curiously as they all gazed at the low concrete bunker stretching out in front of them.
‘That’s it?’ Xolotle asked sarcastically, ‘wouldn’t a ‘top-secret’ laboratory be aiming to look more high-tech?’
‘If it’s got to be secret, then no,’ Latino replied, in an equally sarcastic tone.
Xolotle snarled and extended her claws in a flash; she really, really hated being answered back to. Latino fluffed his feathers up in response, eyeing her claws with some trepidation.
‘I take it that neither of you two will be gracing us with your presence in there?’ Hannah stated, picking up Kaiko and following the other trainers towards the shattered doors of the laboratory. There was a flash of white light and Tropitorm appeared, stomping her feet impressively and uttering words under her breath.
‘Well, I want to explore that place,’ Fizz decided, raising her wings, ‘hold on, Archie.’
He nodded and dug his claws into her feathers as the Swellow hopped into the air and breezed after their team-mates. Fizz’s evolution had increased her size enough to low her to easily carry Archie on her back, something that the Anorith had been willing to exploit. For the normally slow, earth-bound Pokémon, it had been a god-send.
Now, as Fizz swooped past their friends heads, hesitating briefly at the entrance, before flying in, Archie felt a sudden jolt run through his body.
‘You ok?’ Fizz asked, feeling him shudder and tense up.
‘I’m fine,’ he replied automatically.
Then he let go and slithered over her shoulder to fall to the floor, giving his left claw a good crack as he landed awkwardly.
‘Careful,’ his friend called down to him, drifting to land by his side. ‘If you wanted to get down, you didn’t have to jump.’
‘Must be a result of having that much human contact,’ Tropitorm commented, leering at the two. ‘Makes Pokémon go insane.’
‘Is it too much to ask for you to give it a bloody rest?’ Xolotle snapped at her, suddenly appearing and sidling past the Tropius to get a good look. ‘So….what are we meant to do now.?’
Archie shrugged, squinting over the heads of the other trainers. There were some lights still functioning, illuminating the corridor they were in, in a dull light. They were standing in what looked like a small reception area..or at least, it had a counter/desk along the right wall with the remains of a computer littering its top. A pair of batter doors was to its left, revealing another dimly lit corridor, with entrances obviously branching off of it.
He blinked. He couldn’t shake the déjà vu feeling that was running through him.
As he gazed around, he suddenly got the eerie feeling of something watching him; a flash of purple at the edge of his vision seized his attention. It shot across the ceiling, emerging from one open entrance to another and vanished.
A low hiss sounded from behind him; Tropitorm had evidently spotted it to. Nobody else had.
‘Go,’ she muttered quietly.
‘What?’
‘We’re here to investigate what’s going on; find out what that thing was,’ she replied.
‘Why are you so interested?’
‘It’s called ‘playing God’,’ she snarled, her eyes narrowing. ‘And I’m f***ing sick of it.’ She shot him a sudden glare; Archie cringed back instinctively.
Where had that come from?
She turned her gaze away and began to pace heavily towards the doors and into the corridor.
‘Oh, we’re going now?’ Archie heard Kaiko call.
‘Yes,’ he replied simply and moved off after Tropitorm.
He heard them shuffling round to follow the two of them; other people and their Pok€mon were beginning to get ready to leave so they weren’t conspicuous.

Tropitorm plodded steadily down to the entrance that the shadow had vanished into. It was nothing impressive; another corridor, with rooms branching off of it. Some of them had the remains of doors hanging from the hinges; large gashes criss-crossed long the walls and ceiling. Some bare wires hung down; she eyed them carefully and crouched down, deliberately folding her wings tight against her back. She was loathe to discover what being electrocuted felt like.
A brush against her leg made her start, but it was only Archie catching up to her, staring down the corridor. He turned his gaze upwards and pointed to the very end, where another of the door-less rooms stood. It obviously had fewer broken lights than the corridor, giving the impression of a beacon, attracting them to it. She had an impression of something darting through the light and snarled.

The corridor was short; less than 100 metres long, and it didn’t take them any time to trek down to the entrance they had chosen. Both were determinedly focused, neither hesitating as they walked across the threshold.

Archie blinked. Large glass tubes stretched from floor to the ceiling, set into concrete and filled with clear liquid tinged with a muddy amber colour. They stretched across the room, each separated from the other by a desk, piled high with computers, files and tiny pieces of equipment. More, larger, complicated looking equipment was attached to the tubes, penetrating through the thick glass with tiny spindles.
Some of the tubes had shattered, large chunks of glass littering the floor, and the expensive equipment around them drenched.
In-front of these, directly to the Pokémon’s left and right, long counters filled with test-tube racks and computers stretched. Many were blackened; monitors shattered, wires sprawling hap-hazardly across the counters or lying limply on the floor.

Tropitorm snarled.
Archie payed her no attention. He was drawn to the thick tubes, crawling until he was standing directly at the base of one. Gazing up, he concentrated on the liquid, unblinking, feeling his body both tensing and relaxing at the same time.

The something shrieked from the ceiling and they both spun upwards. A purple blur shot down and lashed across Tropitorm’s neck, leaving three slits, already beginning to leak blood. Before Archie could react, it bounded to the floor and charged at him.
He flattened himself down instinctively, tensing his body. What-ever it was cannoned into his side, knocking him against the concrete of the tube. As he crumpled back to the ground, he heard Tropitorm’s roar and opened his eyes.
Crouching in front was an Aipom, but one devoid of the usual cutesy look of the species. His fur was matted and coarse, bristling out round his body. His whole body was muscular, exaggerated, his arms ripping with power as he hissed in a feral cry, shifting on trembling legs. He flicked his tail and it registered in Archie’s mind how he’d easily ripped Tropitorm’s neck; the large hand on his tail sported three vicious looking claws, their edges razor sharp, and coated in a thin layer of her blood. Archie gulped softly, then whimpered as he noticed the Aipom’s eyes. They were blank, the black pupils narrow slits, snakelike. The rest was white. The effect was frightening and the Anorith felt himself begin to tremble as he backed away automatically.
He hit the concrete behind him; wonderful, now he was trapped.

The Aipom smiled, extended the claws on his tail and plunged forward; Archie ducked and rolled frantically, trying to ignore the horrible smashing sound as the attack meant for him met the concrete instead.
Spinning, he gulped as he saw his opponent backing away and turning to face him, leaving three deep gashes in the concrete. Abruptly, the hand clasped into a fist and flames erupted over it, and Aipom lunged forward. Archie automatically lashed out with his claws, but the attack singed them, knocking past them to hit him head-on.
And it hurt. He felt the intense heat rippling in waves over his body and screamed out. Something flared inside of him. A shudder ran through his body and he found himself blasting Aipom away with a jet of water that pulsed and shrieked with an invisible cry. Aipom thundered into the supporting concrete, fur flattened against his body, clasping at his fur with a hiss. He still looked near peak-fitness, but his legs were shaking and his movement was unsteady as he lurched to his feet. Archie felt a flicker of relief; he’d managed to confuse him.
Not one to waste this opportunity, he reached both his claws back with a lithe movement, feeling his front two feelers shiver and detach themselves. Looping them forwards, he saw them shine for a second as he waved them expertly, before they sunk into his claws. He grinned as he saw that the razor edges of Aipom’s claws and his were now pretty much equal. All the more perfect because now he could really use his advantage.
His claws flashed brown and he scuttled forwards as fast as he could, swinging his claws in front of him. He smashed into Aipom’s stomach hard, sending the fragile Pok€mon tumbling backwards in a haze of his own purple fur. He thumped onto his back, then rolled up glaring.
The confusion apparently gone, he charged forwards, rapidly increasing in speed; the air was suddenly tingling with static as a bolt of electricity wove round his hand.
Archie crouched low and span rapidly, hoping that the impression would be enough to get his foe to back off a little.
It worked partially; the feel of static in the air vanished, to be replaced by a sudden chill….then his body went rigid with cold as the punch smashed into his side.
Shaking, he fell back, trembling as the ice crackled over his body. Aipom sniggered and extended the claws to the full potential again. Archie shivered. The fake eyes on his head flashed white before hundreds of tiny, white bugs poured out, hitting Aipom in the face, scuttling through the Pok€mon’s fur, scratching at his body as a hundred little cuts gradually became visible.
Screaming, Aipom curled his hand into the flaming fist and lashed out at his own body, burning the bugs off of him. Seemingly oblivious to the painful looking burns now creeping across his own body, he twisted his head round, trying to reach every single last one.
Archie, however, felt a rush of sympathy for the deranged creature and blasted him with another pulse of water, sending him spiralling back across the room, but ridding him of the last of the bugs and cooling the burns.
Aipom apparently wasn’t very thankful for his ‘help’; he snarled and sprung to his feet, tensing his body and flexing his arms. The muscles bulged and grew and Archie groaned. Figures….Bulk Up. He looked at the deep gashes in the concrete. And Crush Claw.
Tropitorm roared again, alerting him to the claw seconds before it gouged into his body. He had a thick shell, but from the extreme pain roaring through him, he was able to guess that it hadn’t helped much. Aipom drew back, smirking and licking his claw clean.*
Archie could feel the warmth trickling over him, but ignored it. He narrowed his eyes at his opponent, feeling the cold determination gripping his chest. He was struggling with this thing? For a second, as they stared at each other, he got the impression that he was looking down upon the Pok€mon, but the illusion was shattered as Aipom snarled and charged again.
He spun round, cutting the attacking Pokémon with his feelers, his unavoidable attack obviously causing some discomfort as Aipom wailed.
Then he lashed out with his claws, slashing wildly as his foe parried, his own lethal claws smacking against Archie’s. In the blur, Archie could feel himself cutting and ripping through his opponent’s skin, even as shards of his shell and claws shot past the line of his vision. Summoning again the miniature bugs, he covered his opponent, backing away, flexing his claws. A burst of flame showed Aipom was reverting to his earlier tactic; this time, Archie let himself relax slightly, perfectly comfortable with the idea of the creature burning himself into a defeat.
The static in the air rose. Archie tensed again, slightly, closing his eyes as a light brown dust rose from his shell, hovering in the air around him like a miniature shield, some resettling on his body. A bolt of lightning shot from the suddenly revealed Aipom, scything through the air straight towards its target, never veering as its user hissed it on. Archie closed his eyes and crouched down.
The lightning shot into his body, ripping against his injured shell, yet not at the full force it had conveyed as it rushed towards him. The dust had done its job, conducting some of the electricity away and reducing the attacks power.
Even in his deranged state, Aipom seemed to sense this, charging forwards with the intention of making up the lost damage. Archie flexed his claws, watching his opponents moves as he came close and lashed out, striking him firmly in the stomach. The claw came crashing down and slashed his back; Archie drove his other claw hard against Aipom’s body and the Pok€mon spasmed, stumbling back, eyes rolling and gasping. One hand rubbed its stomach as its clawed hand waved wildly in the air at the end of his tail, before he stumbled and collapsed.

Thank God. Was Archie’s initial response. His breathing was ragged and he was beginning to tremble viciously.

Then something slammed into him from the back and pounced on the unconscious Aipom, screaming, ‘USELESS, USELESS.’ Twirling to face Archie, the Eevee narrowed his eyes. Something Archie couldn’t place was flickering through the Pokémon’s expression, before he glanced back at Aipom and hissed. ‘Fine then.’

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

Hannah, Xolotle, Latino, Fizz and Kaiko had followed the other two when they had left the reception room. They had followed them into the adjoining corridor, and with all intents and purposes would have entered the far room a few seconds later.
Kaiko froze. His eyes widened and he stared round in alarm, focusing on of the still-standing doors.
‘There’s something in there,’ he gasped, running to stare at it.
‘Elaborate, please,’ Xolotle murmured.
‘I know it! There’s something in there,’ he muttered again, looking frantically round at them.
‘How do you know?’ she answered him.
‘I know!’
‘A Mudkip’s fin is used as a radar,’ commented Fizz knowledgably, ‘if he senses something then there probably is.’
‘Wonderful. And we get in there how?’ snapped Xolotle irritably.
‘Smash the door down?’ suggested Latino.
‘Pick the lock? Xol?’ Hannah smiled.
‘Oh piss off,’ the cat snarled, taking a token swipe at the handle. It crumpled beneath her claws, and she struck the lock, cutting a deep gash in it. A final thump crumpled the door and she rammed into it, stumbling into the dark room.
‘That’s your definition of picking a lock?’ asked Latino incredulously. Xolotle gave him a dark look.
A small sob rang out.
‘I told you!’ yelled Kaiko, running past Xolotle, turning his head in all directions before homing in on the source. As he moved closer, a whimper echoed out, and a small shape shot past Kaiko, past Xolotle and hurtled into the corridor, where it froze, face-to-face with Fizz.
The Eevee was tiny, thickly furred whose long ears drooped down and trailed on the ground. Kaiko had come running after him and let out a gentle whisper. ‘It’s alright-’
Tropitorm’s roar rung down the corridor at that point, making them all jump. The Eevee looked terrified and tried to back away, but Fizz caught him by the scruff of the neck.
‘It’s ok, really, it is,’ said Kaiko tenderly, edging closer and smiling gently.
Hannah and Latino were staring down the corridor, where Tropitorm had positioned herself in the doorway, staring at what-ever was going on inside. As they watched, her neck swayed, as she evidently tried to focus on two things at once.
‘That is so definitely a fight,’ Xolotle felt the need to state the obvious, before pelting down the corridor to attempt to get a good look. Tropitorm just stiffened her wings and braced her body, effectively blocking off the only entrance into the room.
‘OI,’ Xolotle snapped at her, ‘I want to see what’s going on.’
Tropitorm ignored her.
Fizz let go of the Eevee, who stared at her timidly, then sidled up to Kaiko and nuzzling him. The Mudkip smiled and nodded towards where the rest of his team were congregating. The Eevee was silent for a second, then hung his head and edged closer. Kaiko smiled and started to walk down the hallway; after a seconds hesitation, Eevee followed.

None of them saw any of the fight; Tropitorm relaxed slightly when it was over and moved away from the entrance, allowing them to get a good look at what had occurred. Fizz gasped and was about to fly over to Archie, when there was a sudden snarl and the Eevee tore past them all and sprung onto the Aipom’s body.

Now Archie was staring at what he seriously hoped was not a new opponent, when he felt Fizz land gently by his side.
The Eevee’s eyes narrowed even more as he surveyed the two of them, then glanced at the rest, all still gathered in the doorway.
‘Never make plans with anybody with less than 100% intelligence,’ he suddenly smirked, a sick smile creeping over his face. ‘Though if you like picking up the pieces then it can be a good strategy.’ His smirk widened, revealing numerous canine teeth.
‘You’re just as bad as those f***ing humans,’ a cold voice rang out in the silence that followed. The Eevee glanced over at Tropitorm who stormed closer, her eyes burning. ‘You’re not a Pokémon,’ she spat, ‘you’re just a creature.’
He raised an eyebrow. ‘That’s a new way to look at it.’
‘Go to hell,’ she whispered, stepping closer.
Fizz lunged, grabbed Archie in her claws and darted back to the join the others before the Anorith had time to react.
A black aura erupted around the Eevee’s form; it covered him entirely before dissipating; his eyes had narrowed to the same reptilian slits as Aipom’s had. His smirk increased as Tropitorm stared at him.
‘Perhaps you should have done your research,’ he gripped, chuckling. ‘a psychic Eevee, who would have guessed?’

‘Ok, we run now,’ Latino hissed; him and everybody else bolted from the room as Tropitorm charged.

Roaring in the and anger, Tropitorm didn’t think of anything else than crushing that traitor. He laughed and shook his head; a force seized the Pokémon and dragged her into the air.
‘Psychic powers; learn about them,’ he grinned, trotting over to the trapped Tropius. ‘Very useful as well, you know.’
She snarled at him, then let out a frustrated roar. Eevee’s grin faltered slightly as her body lit up, briefly illuminated in flames that shot to cover the ceiling, condensing to form a glowing orb hanging in the air directly overhead. Her wings began to glow as the chlorophyll inside of them started to synthesise faster, drawing power from the magnificent sun.
Eevee snarled and narrowed his eyes. The black aura bloomed around his body and reached upwards, intending to block out that annoying sun. Tendrils spiked up, when another roar caught his attention, seconds before two seeds slammed into his side.
Whipping round, he swore under his breath, even as the seeds unfurled, wrapping vines and leaves around his body. Two central, yet fragile looking, vines led back to Tropitorm, to the seed pods under her head, carrying the energy starting to be sapped from his body.
He felt the wave of anger explode within him and he lunged forward, sinking his teeth into the central vines, feeling them absorbing his energy and stinging his mouth. Then nothing. Tropitorm shook her head, sending the limp vines falling to the floor.
Her wings unfurled and she sprung up. Her heavy bulk shuddered as she beat down powerfully; the room was only about six metres high, but she didn’t care. Powering her wings up and down, she whipped up the air, creating a miniature tornado that seized the room; files and books, loose equipment, was dragged into the air. The glass tubes shattered, spilling their liquid contents. The unconscious body of Aipom was sent spiralling across the room to slam into the wall.
Eevee snarled and dug his claws into the ground, clinging desperately, but the force dragged him off the ground. Spinning, feeling nausea rushing to overcome him in seconds, he snarled and let loose with the black aura, covering his body.

Tropitorm smirked as she watched the tornado destroying the disgusting room. That pathetic vermin had attempted to hide himself within his darkness; she’d laughed at that.
Pain shot through her head as something suddenly gripped her, and she heard the hissing voice again.
‘Teleportation is very useful.’
Roaring, she bucked her body, abandoning her attack, diving to thump onto the ground, anything to dislodge him. She could hear his laughter, feel his tiny claws digging into her head. Then the searing pain as he dug his teeth in.
Shrieking, she shook her head viciously, feeling him loosen his grip, only to reappear seconds later in front of her, letting loose with the ball of ghost energy. As the attack connected with her face, her vision was momentarily obscured, giving him the opportunity to seize her with his psychic powers and drag her into the air again.
‘We’ve been here before, haven’t we?’ he crooned.
Grasping at the knowledge of one of her attacks, she created two white rocks, dropping them towards him. He rolled his eyes and in an instant her attack was crunching into her wings.
Wincing at the pain, hearing the delicate fronds snapping, she focused her energy on drawing in the suns energy. Feeling its warming rays, she relaxed, opening her eyes as a green mist rose up from her body, reaching tenderly out, seeping through the boulders, which vanished. Eevee’s eyes flickered and he stepped back, motioning with his head, trying to turn the mist back on her, but it simply moved on, lifelessly. He snarled and summoned the black aura, hiding in its depths; she smiled, falling back to the ground, as his dark power interfered with his ability to use his psychic powers.
The thud as she landed on the ground caught his attention and alerted him to his mistake; he dropped the aura, intending to have her hanging back in the air, but she copied his smirk as the mist reached him. It flashed bright green, then abruptly engulfed him, then light shooting back, sinking into his body, replenishing her energy.
Shrieking, he sent another ball of shadows blasting from its depths. She chuckled, then charged, lifting her battered wings. Dropping one, she scooped him up, knocking him against her other one, juggling his tiny body like a ball.
Part of her was grudgingly admitting that she owed Fizz for teaching her to use this attack, the other half enjoying the grunts of pain emitting from the Pok€mon. Twisting away, she used her wings to smash him against the concrete stands of one of the shattered tubes. As he struggled weakly to his feet, she met his gaze.
‘Here’s a hint, from me to you,’ she said quietly, their eyes never leaving the others. ‘Psychic powers are all good and proper, but don’t brag about them if you have no real idea how to use them.’
Then she flung her head back, her mouth sliding open as a blue glow materialised. The glow increased in density, shimmering, as a blue orb of energy slowly flared into life. The orb grew, sparking white and silver, increasing, again and again. A breeze rippled through the room, rustling her wings, making the shards of glass on the floor chink against each other. The breeze focused in, spiralling round to centre into the orb.
Tropitorm’s eye never left Eevee’s as the orb exploded and a beam comprised of the full force of the air rocketed from her mouth, engulfing the Pokémon and the remains of the tube completely. The force of the air rushed into the room, pounding against the concrete stands, dust and debris flying into the air. The beam faded, dispelling back into the air, calm returning to the room.

Tropitorm stood among the debris silently. Her eyes were fixed on the unconscious Pokémon, lying among the rubble.
‘I was wrong,’ she whispered softly. ‘You were nothing.’

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

That was fun to write ^_^ And neither Aipom or Eevee (or, incidentally, Cormon) were killed, just very heavily battered into unconsciousness and discarded.

Xolotle grew one level to L15.
Archie grew two levels to L19 and learnt Water Gun.
Tropitorm grew two levels to L8 and learnt Growth.

I'd like an extension of the current scenario and an RBG for Tropitorm, my L8 female Tropius with an opponent from the Free Range Corral please. *Pays*

AntiAsh Superstar
26th July 2005, 06:06 AM
And you may have both extention and RBG. Tropitorm will be fighting a Teddiursa. Oh, and whilst I'm at it have 36 stamps for a quite jaw-droppingly good story. I think ditching the POVs does help it flow better, yanno, tho your writing style is really good anyways. The part encompassing Xolotle's RBG in particular was viciously brilliant. Me likes. :D

AntiAsh Superstar
27th July 2005, 04:14 PM
Aaanyways, one RBG for Thunderblast finally done. May she have her next one from... ooh, the Fighting Retirement System might be fun this time. Thankies. *pays 7 stamps*
---
"What is your name?"
"My name is Thunderblast."
"Where are you from?"
"I am from Ulthuan."
"What is your purpose?"
"To leave everyone else scratching their heads, of course! And to say the stuff everyone else is thinking but is too polite to say."
"Oh."
"Yeaaaah, baby, disembodied soul-searching voices will never beat weird Raichu physics!"
"Okay, if you're so clever then answer this one. Where did you get your powers?"
"I... I was trained by Mewtwo." A slight quiver in the voice.
"And what training gives a Raichu strong psychic powers? We all know about Hidden Power training, but what of genuine psychic abilities?"
"Well I... I... okay. You win. I hate dreaming about disembodied soul-searching voices. You guys are more stubborn that Milly in a particularly offensive mood."
"Well isn't that our purpose?"
"Piss off."

To say Thunderblast woke up in a mood that was far from her usual one was an understatement. All night she had been tormented with dreams. A Thunderblast dream was usually enough to leave one scarred for life at the best of times. She tended to dream in short, erratic bursts, scenes flipping form one scene to the next in thoroughly random bursts that only her brain could hope to keep up with. But this time it was different. She kept dreaming of voices, and they asked questions she didn't know the answers to. It had all started innocently enough, of course. Just one simple question a few weeks ago. A what was training with Mewtwo like? off Gabi's Stantler, Iael. But it had caused problems. It had revealed gaps in the Raichu's memory. No, it had revealed painful gaps in her memory. Literally. Whenever she tried to recall anything more than the stupidly generic she would be hit with huge migraines. It bugged her. She had tried every amnesia cure she knew of. She had taken pills. She had sat and meditated. She had even deliberately thrown herself off the bed headfirst. Nothing worked. In fact they tended to just make her headache worse. It truly annoyed her, that there was something beyond her grasp. She simply wasn't used to it; normally when she wanted something she would just go out and get it. This time it wasn't that simple, however.
"Mornin'." Eventually being annoyed with her own mind lost its fun and Thunderblast was forced to actually get out of bed and sneak downstairs, taking great pains to stifle her usual urge to stomp on Milliardo's tail on the way out. The Umbreon was fresh out of the Pokécentre and was still in a very delicate condition. Not even modern medicine was able to fully heal his many injuries after his fight with the Crimson Blades Scyther, Delta. So Thunderblast just let him be. Downstairs, however, were several creatures that she could have quite happily annoyed had she the inclination. Her fellow early birds, Katnip and Sindel. It was a strange mix, but bizarrely between the hours of six and seven a.m. these three totally different pokémon coexisted quite happily. "Man, ya look rough."
"Do I?" Thunderblast yawned. "Oh well. Orange juice and some croissants please, oh gorgeous mistress of the oven."
"I still never quite figured out why none of you are capable of fixing your own breakfasts, you know. Especially you two, neither of you have to use all your paws to walk on." Sindel quite obviously didn't mind as much as she pretended to, as very soon Thunderblast's breakfast was placed in front of her.
"I would, but Ade barred me from the kitchen ages ago," Katnip admitted sheepishly. "Ya know what me appetite's like, last time I tried I cleaned the place out."
"A Raticate that exercises all the time..." Thunderblast mused. "Yes, I suppose Ade had a good point with that ruling. My excuse is that where's my motivation to get my own breakfast when I can just ask you to make it for me?"
"I ought to go on strike, you know," Sindel continued. "I'd like to see how you all cope without me."
"Sindel." Katnip rolled his eyes. "I really wish I had a stamp fer every time ya say that. I'd be rich by now."
"Yes." Thunderblast nodded sagely. "Then you could pay for someone to cook for you who didn't mind being exploited."
"Can we please change the subject?" Sindel asked hopefully. "I get enough of this sort of abuse off Milliardo without you two agreeing with him when he's not even here to spur you on." The Alakazam rolled her eyes and got to work frying some bacon. "So you didn't have a good night last night, Thunderblast?"
"Not really, no."
"What's wrong?" Katnip chuckled. "Sumi been keepin' ya up too late?"
"If only it were that simple!" The Raichu sighed, glancing over at a drawer on the far side of the room and watching it open and her sunglasses float over towards her. She placed them snugly on her nose, and all of a sudden everything that was slightly blurred suddenly came sharply into focus. "No. Just can't get my brain to behave lately, that's all. It keeps giving me nightmares I don't want."
“Is there such a thing as a nightmare you do want?” Sindel asked, rummaging through the various kitchen cupboards in an attempt to find the waffle iron.
“I don't know. There might be,” Thunderblast shrugged.
“Ever had one?”
“No.” The Raichu shrugged, polishing off her food and hopping off the bar stool upon which she was currently sat. “Oh well. I'm off for a walk. Thanks for breakfast.” With this Thunderblast headed for the door. She had a lot of thinking to do.

The wind was strong, the skies clouded over with clouds that, whilst not quite as menacing as the cruel shadows that had preceded the strikes of the Dark Cloak and the Crimson Blades, were every bit as unnatural. She was stood atop some huge, ornately decorated tower, staring down at the sandy ground below. The drop was huge, and understandably she was more than a little worried should she fall. It would have meant certain death.
“Attention where it should be, child!” an unduly harsh voice snapped. “Do you think I have the time to wait here all day?”
“Sorry.” Her attention returned to where it should have been. To the other creature stood atop the tower, a being who most only ever saw in films but whose unadulterated tension and anger couldn't hope to be truly captured in such feeble forms of media. This was a being whose barely suppressed fury was almost tangible, its long tail lashing restlessly behind it's lean, tall, almost snow-white form. A pair of remarkably intelligent eyes glared at her from across the tower. This creature was the being known as Mewtwo, and its reputation was a mere diluted version of the truth. “I'm ready.”
“Good. You are not the only one who needs a helping hand before we're ready!” Even when trying hard to sound like a wise tutor the impatience and boundless energy seemed to seep through. To be honest it was rather frightening, even for a creature who rather prided herself on being able to detach from the situation at the drop of a hat. “Now we've been getting somewhere with that power of yours but it's useless if you can attack but not defend! Focus your mind, girl! Focus your mind and try to block this!” All of a sudden a huge, overwhelming pressure began to press upon her mind, a pressure that threatened to split her very brain in two.
“Ah!” she cried out in pain, dropping to a semi-standing position as the pain grew too great to even allow the simple act of standing. She was trying very hard to fight it, really she was, but it seemed an almost impossible task. The pain was just too great to allow her to focus half as well as she might. “I... can't... I...”
“Ridiculous.” By now her mentor was stood by her, although she really couldn't remember him moving. Roughly he grabbed her head and forced her to look directly into his malevolent amber eyes. “You have as much power as you need to accomplish this task, girl. I ought to know, after all. I was the one who...”

“Ow!”
“Er... are you okay?” Thunderblast had been sat in the garden dozing in the shade provided by the house's resident Onix, Brandy, when the palpable pain in her head had woke her up. It was curious, really, that a pokémon as brash and as in-your-face as Thunderblast had managed to hang around the socially awkward Brandy for long enough to doze off but then, as she would have been the first to tell you, weird Raichu physics simply defied logic. As it happened Brandy was actually quite relaxed around Thunderblast. She was one of the few pokémon the Onix didn't suffer from stuttering fits around.
“Yeah. I'm fine.” Thunderblast rubber her head. “Did someone just throw something at me?”
“No.”
“Oh crap. Well there goes my peaceful rest. I think my mind's trying to tell me something here.”
“What do you mean?” her huge companion asked.
“Ever get the feeling you're being forced into a large and epic voyage of self-discovery?” Thunderblast peered over at Brandy, who was a little disturbed to say the least. The Raichu was odd at the best of times – in fact that was one of the reasons Brandy felt relaxed around her, she knew a creature that eccentric could never judge others – but right now it was especially hard to figure out what was going on behind the silly sunglasses. “Wait. Never mind. I don't suppose you have. You'll understand when you get to my age.” Here the Raichu sighed with forced weariness. “Ah, the kids of today...”
“Oh quit acting all old womanly on us you big pile of weirdness, you!” All of a sudden Thunderblast found herself being bowled over by a speeding blur of orange, black and white, the 'attack' resulting in her being pinned down by a petite albeit overly fluffy Growlithe. “Now tell me what's bugging you or... or... or the very best you can hope for is my exceptionally waggy tail applied with expert skill on the bottoms of your paws.”
“Maybe I'd like that,” Thunderblast grinned.
“Oh I'm sure you probably would, sexy.” Kasumi beamed down at her partner. “But I bet I can tickle you past the point where you'd get a kick out of it.”
“And I bet I wouldn't have too much trouble batting you away if you started getting stupid,” Thunderblast noted. “Although I wouldn't want to get violent with you.”
“Hey, maybe I'd like that!”
“Geez, girls, can't ya keep it clean fer more than ten seconds?” All of a sudden Katnip's unmistakable voice rang out nearby. The two pokémon looked up to see him perched nimbly upon Brandy's back. “I mean, the rest of us have ta share this garden too yanno.” Here the Raticate nodded his head in the direction of his platform's head. Judging from the look on Brandy's face she would have been turning bright red from embarrassment if it were possible for a creature with rocky armour to do so.
“Er, sorry about that,” Thunderblast shrugged, gently pushing her girlfriend off her. For her part Kasumi still didn't seem aware as to what she had done wrong. “Since when did you start watching? Since it starting looking like it might be girl on girl action? You pervert.” Suddenly she paused. “Listen, guys, can you do me a favour and keep Ade all reassured-like seeing as I'm going to be vanishing for a little while?”
“Eh?” Katnip looked rather bemused. “Where did that come from?”
“Look, are you going to cover for me or not?”
“Not unless you tell us where you'll be going!” By now Kasumi had finally caught up with the conversation and she didn't particularly like where it was headed. “How long will you be gone for anyway?”
“Hard to say,” Thunderblast shrugged. “Maybe a few days. Maybe more. Depends on how long it takes to do what I need to go and get done.”
“A few days???” Kasumi whined. “You do realise I'm going to have to take my custom elsewhere in the meantime or I'll explode, right? And I never thought I'd hear myself saying this but I don't really wanna have to do that.” The Growlithe looked thoroughly miserable. “Don't go. I'm sure whatever it is can wait, right?”
“Sorry. It can't.”
“Then take me with you! I mean, I'd miss you too much to let you go and besides, I don't really think you're the type for solo journeys.” Thunderblast didn't respond. She seemed to be deep in thought, so Kasumi pressed the point. “Come on. Would it really be so bad to have a little company wherever you're headed to? Hey, it might actually make it kind of fun.”
“Actually...” Thunderblast said finally, a rather wicked tone in her voice that always preceded a scheme that would probably get somebody in trouble at some point, “...you may have a point there, Sumi. In fact...”

“Oh man!” Katnip moaned. “How the hell did I manage ta let meself get talked inta this???” Nobody was really sure how it had happened. Nobody was really sure they wanted to know. But somehow or other Thunderblast had managed to convince herself to allow Kasumi to accompany her on her journey but had also somehow talked Katnip and Brandy into joining them as well and got the go-ahead for the trip from the rest of the team. “I mean, we don't even know where we're goin' do we? The least ya could do is tell us what yer looking fer, Thunderblast!”
“Answers,” was the only reply the Raticate got. The group were headed in what appeared to be a totally random direction out of the city, their only real clues being the gut instinct of a certain psychic Raichu. Which, as far as things to rely on went, was actually a lot more reliable than it sounded.
“Yeah, but answers ta what?” Katnip snorted irritably. “Bein' enigmatic really doesn't suit ya, wish ya'd go back ta the 'tells us way more than we really need ta know' Thunderblast I'm used ta.”
“Okay, if you really must know there's a few annoying blanks in my memory that need to be filled in, okay? It's bugging me and I need it sorted.” All of a sudden the Raichu yawned loudly. “Buuut... it's not that urgent, I guess. Pit stop, guys, I'm hungry all of a sudden.”
“Er...” Katnip blinked several times. “Okay. Ya lost me now. I'm not sure whether I should be makin' a mental note ta never let ya be in charge of a journey again, agreein' that it's time ta eat or just plain givin' up on this whole thing. Fortunately for ya me stomach is winnin' over me head right about now.”
“Well thanks for that input,” Thunderblast noted with a rather uncharacteristic dryness. “Any other comments?”
“Yeah. Can we stop off for a light bondage session as well?” Kasumi asked with a cheeky grin.
“That really depends on a few things – like, do you know of anywhere private around here and whether you actually thought to bring anything that would actually help with that.”
“Oh. Dammit. I knew I should have asked for time to pack before we set off.”
“Er...” Katnip coughed loudly. “Eatin'. Where did ya have in mind? Especially since... er, no offence Brandy but...” Katnip knew as well as anybody that their Onix companion would not only not be offended but also agree wholeheartedly with what he had to say, in fact the issue wasn't so much offending her as making her miserable about her rather awkward size. “...well, we can hardly barge inta the nearest burger joint, can we? An' besides, we don't have any cash an' I'll be damned if I'm relyin' on findin' one of those free pokémon food joints.”
“Moan, moan, moan, that's all you've been doing from the outset.” Thunderblast rolled her eyes. “Relax. I have it covered, okay?”
“How?”
“Trust me, would you?” came the conspiratorial response. “Now let me see here... all we need is a phone box. Ah, there we go!” Delighted the Raichu ran over to a nearby public phone booth. “Now all we need to do is find a takeout place that'll do enough to feed an Onix.”
“Er, don't worry about me, I'm really not al that hungry anyway...” Brandy stuttered.
“Well then yer gonna have ta worry about findin' a place that'll do enough ta feed me,” Katnip smirked. “Oh, an' work around the fact that none of us can actually speak on the phone in the first place.”
“Ah, watch and learn.” Without any further explanation Thunderblast hopped over to the telephone, lifted the receiver and dialled. For a moment she stood there with the receiver to her ear. And then she replaced the handset and stepped back out again triumphantly. “There you go. Five twelve inch pizzas, one cheese and tomato, one mushroom, one vegetarian, and ham and pineapple and one with all the works, plus two rounds of garlic bread, coleslaw and free soft drinks. Should be here in about twenty minutes, and before you ask I had it all charged to Ade's Dragons Guild expenses account so there's going to be no problems about payment.”
“Woo!” Kasumi grinned broadly. “You rock!”
“An' how..?” Katnip began.
“It's easy, even a musclehead like you would be able to understand,” Thunderblast stuck her tongue out at the Raticate. “You dial the number. You wait until they answer. Then you start talking to them through telepathy so they think there's a voice on the other end of the phone. I'm surprised more psychic pokémon haven't figured this trick out yet to be honest.”
“Thunderblast honey, you're amazing,” Kasumi gushed.
“I know,” the Raichu replied with a typical lack of modesty. “So then. Shall we find somewhere to sit while we eat or what? I don't know about you guys but I don't really want to have to use Sumi as a table, at least not in public.” With this Thunderblast hopped off to scout for a likely place to stop for a while, leaving her teammates in her wake, too bemused to put up much of an argument. This was going to be an interesting adventure, that was for sure!

As it happened the pit stop for lunch proved to be far more eventful that it might have at first appeared. There was no problem with getting the food, even without a trainer. Thunderblast seemed to have a remarkable knack for getting her own way in spite of the odds. In fact the more improbable the situation, it seemed, the better she did. Which was why the four pokémon were all flopped in a nearby park, stuffing themselves on enough pizza to feed a large family. Or rather, watching Katnip alone consume half of it; fortunately this was fine as there was still enough to go around and Brandy hadn't been lying about not being that hungry.
“This is quite pleasant, you know,” Thunderblast noted, absently scratching Kasumi's belly as she stared into the skies. “Shame we have to be up and leaving soon. I'd like my answers sooner rather than later.”
“Look, won't ya just level with us?” Katnip sighed. “What answers?”
“Okay... well it's like this. You guys know I was trained by Mewtwo, right?”
“Er... actually... well, that's news to me,” Brandy said, sounding rather surprised.
“Eh, that's not your fault. We've all been so busy nobody's gone round and given you the background story on everyone yet have they? Anyway, I was. But I can't remember it properly, that's my trouble.”
“Well it was quite a while ago, right?” Kasumi queried. “I mean, the whole Mewtwo business happened way before Ade even started as a pokémon trainer. Hell, I probably wasn't even born then. Of course your memory's not going to be perfect!”
“No, no, no!” For possibly the first time ever the world's most eccentric Raichu seemed to show some genuine frustration. “It ought to be, don't you see? It's always the same when I think about this stuff. I get right up to a certain point, I'm training with him or something and he's just about to tell me something... then nothing, except a really bad headache. Seriously. Same thing if I try to think about things earlier than that. I know I must have existed before my training but I don't remember any of it, you know. It's annoying. I'd much rather know everything about myself. Getting the quest for self-awareness out of the way now is probably for the best, you know.” Here she stood up suddenly. “Anyway, time for us to get moving.”
“Where to, tho?” Katnip asked. “I get why ya wanna do this an' all but do ya really have any idea where ta start? I mean, ya can't exactly expect a clue ta suddenly run inta ya or anythin', can ya?”
“Well...” It was at this point that Thunderblast had one of those rather disturbing, too convenient to be pure luck encounters that could only really be explained away with judicious use of the phrase 'weird Raichu physics'. Almost as she began speaking a rather haunted-looking Mr. Mime bustled past, nearly flooring her in the process. “Hey! Where are your manners, mister... Mr. Mime?”Angrily Thunderblast knocked the pokémon to the floor with a psychic blast that even managed to catch a Psychic type unawares. Almost in the same instant she was pressing a large hind paw down on its chest and peering down at her captive with a curious expression. “You don't go around randomly knocking ladies over, do you? It's not the done thing.”
“Look, I'm sorry, I...” A rather peculiar expression crossed the face of the pokémon. It was if it had somehow recognised her, and that recognition had triggered nothing but fear. “Look, please don't hurt me! I'm really sorry! Let's just let bygones be bygones, okay?”
“Sure. Whatever. Just don't do it again.” So far nothing had struck Thunderblast as being out of the ordinary.
“Really?” The Mr. Mime seemed confused. “After everything that happened?”
“What, you knocked me over? Relax. I'm a lot tougher than I look.”
“Not that! You know what I mean! After the... sessions.” The Psychic-type looked pained. “I never thought I'd see one of you guys still around.”
“Wait a sec.” Thunderblast frowned, putting the pieces of this mental jigsaw together. To be honest she wasn't exactly thrilled with the resulting image, as much as she would have liked to have been. “You know me?”
“I could hardly forget you. You don't see non-psychic types with such potent power every day. And look, I'm sorry if I was harsh back then, but you know how it was. He didn't leave any of us much choice, did he?”
“No.” There was a dangerous tone to the Raichu's voice, one that was at total odds to her usual sassy demeanor. “He didn't.” All of sudden the Mr. Mime found itself being hoisted up in mid-air. “I was wondering why I had the urge to eat here. Guess I know now. Really I hope you don't mind too much if I interrogate you, only... only if you knew him then you might be able to help me.”
“Help you?”
“You knew me, right? Back then? What did you do? What did he do? Why can I not remember half of the things I ought to? You know why, I'm sure, so out with it!”
“I... I... ow! That's enough!” Thunderblast had struck the Mr. Mime out of frustration, and this proved to be her undoing. For all of a sudden initial fear gave way to anger, an ager that allowed the pokémon to somehow worm its way form her psychic grasp and land neatly on the floor. The odd-looking creature regarded the Raichu with eyes ablaze. “I have no idea what you're babbling about, and even if I did do you really think I'd help you after that performance? You'll have to beat what you want out of me!”
“Oh really?” A curious, lopsided smirk appeared on Thunderblast's face and all at once the Mr. Mime realised that maybe that hadn't been the smartest of things to say. “Well, if you insist...”
“Uh... T... Th... Thunderblast, muh...maybe this isn't s... such a good idea, you know?” Brandy offered, sounding more scared of the Raichu than her potential opponent obviously was. “I mean if... s... suppose we can sort this out p... peacefully?”
“Eh, let 'em sort it out between 'emselves I say,” Katnip snorted. “Thunderblast's a hell of a lot of things but 'vindictive' ain't one of 'em I reckon.” The Raticate smirked. “I reckon there's a pretty smart pokémon hidin' under all that weirdness. An' if she reckons she has ta fight then just let her.”
“Well I'm glad somebody's on my side here,” Thunderblast smirked. “Relax, guys. I just want answers and if this is the only way to get them... guess I have no choice do I?” She returned her attention to the peeved Mr. Mime in front of her. “Okay. You anted the information beaten out of you, didn't you? Let's see what we can do about that.”

FIGHT!!! L44 Raichu v L44 Mr. Mime!

To be honest, for possibly the first time since... well, since she had first returned to Ulthuan at the very earliest, Thunderblast really didn't feel like messing around. Which was why she started off the fight by using her psychic powers to give herself a sudden burst of speed, her movement and reflexes enhanced dramatically as a result of a few seconds of concentration. Sure, in the meantime her opponent tried to strike her with a Confusion attack but hey. Psychic Raichus tended to be the ones causing confusion, not receiving it, and the move had very little obvious effect.
“Aww. Poor baby. Were you expecting that to hurt me?” the Raichu beamed brightly, zooming up to the Mr. Mime so tat her face was practically in its own. Yet instead of attacking she simply leaned over and gave it a peck on the cheek before darting away again. “Silly thing.”
“Hey!” the Mr. Mime complained, scowling. “What was that for?”
“What, you didn't like my kiss? Hmph, I'm offended now! Taste the wrath of my offendedness offence!” Suddenly Thunderblast paused, then added,. “As much of a Caledor-esque thing to say that may be.” The trick worked like a charm. Her opponent was too busy looking confused to put up much of a defence. So Thunderblast took her chance. She unleashed a terrible bolt of energy in the direction of the Mr. Mime, a Thunderbolt that struck home with disturbing accuracy, causing her opponent to yell out in pain as electricity coursed through its body. Quickly she seized her chance, rushing over to try and strike again while the pain was still incapacitating the Psychic-type. With a yell of exertion she threw herself at the Mr. Mime, landing the Slam attack well. Only...

Only at that point her opponent seemed to crumple to dust.

“Wha..?” By the time Thunderblast realised she had been tricked it was too late and she was being thrown backwards with a remarkably strong psychic blast. She had fallen for a stock trick of every strong Mr. Mime, that of Substitute. Nobody really knew how the move worked. The pokémon just somewhere along the line substituted itself for a carbon copy of its body and took its opponent out at its leisure whilst they mistakenly attacked the clone. And Thunderblast, normally quite astute when it came to noticing things out of the ordinary, had just totally fallen for it.
“See? I'm not as weak as you thought I was, am I?” The Mr. Mime attempted to hit Thunderblast with a Doubleslap attack and for a second the Raichu began to take steps to dodge. Only then she thought better of it and stood still, allowing the pokémon to strike her across the cheeks. It stung a lot but as far as she was concerned the end result would be worth the discomfort. “Take that! And that! And...” All of a sudden Thunderblast's cheeks sparked, sending a huge shudder of static electricity across the surface of her body at the exact time her opponent was attempting to strike her. It caused the Mr. Mime to fall backwards with a cry of shock. “What was that?” it complained, trying hard to get back up but finding its body unusually unresponsive. “What have you done????”
“Nothing much. Just a little trick us Raichus know. It does tend to paralyse anyone who touches us, though.” Thunderblast grinned evilly. “Anyway, you know what I'm going to do now? I'm going to hurt you. A lot. Until you tell me what you know. Get me?” Without so much as waiting for an answer Thunderblast frowned for a second, concentrating hard. All of a sudden the clouds overhead seemed to grow all the more darker, until the entire park was covered with a light splattering of rain.
“No...” the Mr. Mime whimpered. There was usually only one reason an Electric type would try to make it rain. And it was a very painful one, especially when you were in no fit state to take it out before it could finish what it had started. “You wouldn't.”
“Yes,” Thunderblast grinned from behind her silly shades. “I would.” All of a sudden she expelled a huge amount of electrical energy from the sacs on her cheeks, a huge blast of lightning that seemed to soar straight up into the clouds only to come crashing down again upon her opponent. The Mr. Mime screamed in pain as the full force of the Raichu's attack course through its body.
“Ah! Ah! I give up! I give up!” the pokémon shrieked, falling to the floor once the Thunder attack had finally done its damage. Thunderblast watched her opponent fall without a shred of pity. The pokémon was holding out on her. And now it was time to find out what it knew.

Thunderblast wins!
Thunderblast grew to L45!

“Right you.” Thunderblast sat herself down. Rather unfortunately for her opponent she happened to have decided to sit on top of the Mr. Mime. “Let's talk. How do you know me?”
“We... we were both there,” the pokémon huffed. “Surely you remember being there.”
“Sure I do. I don't remember half of what I did, though. So from the beginning. Nice and slowly, or I start bouncing.”
“I... “ The Mr. Mime looked disgruntled. “I was meant to keep all the new... recruits from getting too out of hand. That was my job back then. And I did it as best as I could. I'd make sure you were all where you should have been. I'd step in if fights broke out. Some days it was easier than others. Some of you were easier to control than others. You were one of the worst, I seem to recall.”
“I always have had a problem with doing as I'm told. Carry on.”
“There's not much to tell. Mewtwo, he was... well, you know what he was like, he was terrifying! I don't know what you're trying to get out of me here, dammit! I was just a damn lackey every bit as much as you were, if not worse! He wouldn't even train me! I didn't get to see anything! You have to believe me!” Thunderblast stared into the eyes of the Mr. Mime for what seemed like an eternity before hopping off it with a disgruntled sound.
“Looks like you're telling the truth. Damn, what a waste of time that was!”
“So where to now?” Kasumi asked.
“No idea.”
“Wait...” All eyes turned to the Mr. Mime. “If you're looking for answers... answers to any question you could possibly ask... I can at least tell you where to go for those.”
“And where might that be?”
“Saphery. Go seek the Tower of Hoeth. Go consult Teclis. If anyone can help fill in the gaps it would be him.”
“Teclis?” Thunderblast sounded rather surprised. “The Tower of Hoeth?” Something sounded so familiar about all of this, something iiritatingly just out of reach of the Raichu's memory. Which, when she thought about it, was all the proof she needed that the Mr. Mime was telling the truth. “Thanks. You've been a big help.” Without so much as a warning she quickly punched the pokémon once in the face, this last blow being enough to completely knock out the pokémon.
“That was a bit harsh, wasn't it?” Katnip commented as Thunderblast finally rejoined her friends.
“Eh, he must have bullied me in a previous life or something. I just had this terrible urge to punch him,” the Raichu shrugged. “Anyway, seems like we've got as little bit of a hitch to our journey. Anyone know of a way we can get to Saphery quickly?”
“Yeah,” Katnip commented. “Go back an' let everyone else help out.”
“Hmm...” Thunderblast considered this for a moment. “Of course! Why didn't I think of that earlier? Right, guys, back home again. Time to regroup.”
“Wow, that was the shortest journey of discovery ever!” Kasumi commented.
“Eh, what do ya expect from Thunderblast? That one acts before she thinks most of the time.” The Raticate watched at their friend merrily marched back the way she came, oblivious to all around her. “One thing's fer sure, she's really got a bee in her bonnet about this. Ought ta be real interestin' ta see where this leads us, eh?”

Lady Vulpix
28th July 2005, 07:42 AM
Wow, I managed to read that whole story on the screen! And I really liked it. :) Loose ends can be a good excuse for good stories. Now I see where your questions were headed to. Take 26 stamps, Ade! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

By the way, Caledor would be glad to know he started a trend.
As for your next RBG, the location you requested doesn't exist, but assuming you wanted a fighting pokemon I went for the Professional Sports Breeding System. As a result, a Medicham was chosen.

AntiAsh Superstar
29th July 2005, 07:45 AM
Well now don't I feel stupid, especially seeing as I've requested RBGs from there before and actually got the name right. ^^;;; I'm glad you understood what Imeant tho...

Wolfsong
29th July 2005, 10:38 PM
Maybe adding one more story to my list of things to write will help me out of writer's block x.X I would like an RBG for Darin please from the Universal Adoption Center *pays*

Charizard04621
30th July 2005, 12:14 AM
Sorry I haven't been rating battles... I haven't been able to get on for very long (still don't have access to my own computer, a curse that will continue for at least two weeks).

I can, however, randomize RBGs! ^_^;

Amy, Darin will battle a Porygon. Good luck.

Charizard04621
1st August 2005, 01:31 PM
I've been meaning to ask this...

Gabi/Ade/Amy, has the administration said anything about the short post limits? I'm sure you could make a case for the Dragon Tamers (Fanfic would also have a good argument). I could just be slow and missing the fact that they already fixed it or something, but yeah... I'm sure that if they haven't yet done anything about it you guys can convince them that we really do need a decent size limit.

[EDIT]: I see Ade and Hannah made long posts okay... Any idea what our limit is now? More, the same as, less than our original one?

Wolfsong
1st August 2005, 11:30 PM
Before story notes: I bought and handed out the following TMs: Focus Energy for Kiara Darin and Tiny. I also got an Acid TM for Colby. Kiara also received a Tickle Tm that I had bought from Hannah. Sorry if it seems rushed and short, but I had writers block and I also had a specific reason for wanting to get this story done ^^; I also got tired of referring to the porygon as it and all so if I refer to it as a he or him bear in mind that I do know that its genderless ^^; Anyway here is Darin’s RBG. Next up on my list is Colby and Tiny’s ^^;


(Darin’s POV)

I sighed as I began the search for Sinopa. Amy had taken Kiara with her into town along with Tiny and Colby. Blazer and Yana had gone out on a date. This is why I was currently searching for Sinopa. Ever since we had arrived home from the lab, she had taken to hiding whenever Amy, Yana, or Blazer wasn’t home. I had already searched all the usual spots inside the house, which given her fear of tight spaces was limited to under the beds.

Once outside, I quickly picked up her scent. She was hiding behind a huge tree that was in our backyard. When I showed up, it didn’t take psychic powers to figure out something was making her nervous. She was shaking like a leaf. “Are you okay?” I asked her. “Shush,” she whispered. “Why are you whispering?” I asked her. She narrowed her eyes at me. “I’m whispering because I heard something snooping around. I don’t think whatever it saw me before but it’s probably heard us…” At that point, she stopped talking and was staring behind me. The next thing I knew she had quick attacked out from her hiding spot and I was slammed into the trees by something small pink and blue.

<Where are the eevee twins?> it asked.

“They aren’t here and besides they aren’t eevees anymore.” Crap, that was more than I had meant to tell them. The porygon started levitating, and soon it was floating in the air above me. <Where are they?> “I don’t know exactly. Who are you and why do you even want to know?” I demanded. <Let’s just say that that bumbling pidgey and that arrogant eevee couldn’t accomplish the job so Tom sent me to locate the stupid eevees so that Kalju and Teivel could take them back home where they belong. You said that they aren’t eevees anymore. What is the small one? I know that Colby wanted to be a vaporeon. The small one had refused to evolve at all.> “You won’t find out from me.”

<Oh, really?> it asked. <You are going to tell me either voluntarily or else by force.> With that, the porygon began to slowly descend and the lower he got the more force I felt from him. I was about to crack and tell him what Tiny had evolved into because the force was unbearable. Then it was as if all the weight was gone. I heard a thud behind me and I turned around to see the porygon crashed to the ground. I looked down at my paws and saw that I could see through them. I almost started to panic when I remembered that my hidden power was the ghost type and somehow it must have gotten triggered. As I calmed down, my body soon returned to normal. <You are going to wish that you hadn’t done that.> The porygon roared as it charged forwards again.


Darin L.15 M Eevee Vs. L.15 ~ Porygon

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Soon I was totally focused on the battle in store. The porygon rushed at me in a crude attempt at a tackle and I was able to leap out of the way just in time. That seemed to frustrate it. Because it just clicked loudly, and spun around in midair. It beeped in shock as it watched me charge forward. I slammed into the computerized pokemon with all the force that I could muster, my attack powered up by my collar. The air around the virtual pokemon began crackling with electricity, so I automatically decided against iron tail. That would have been stupid. Instead, I saw a shooting star in the sky and made a wish on it. As soon as I had made the wish, I felt a tickling sensation spread across my body and I had the feeling that something good was going to happen soon. Unfortunately, a split second later I was shocked by a strong bolt of electricity. I spun around, glaring at the porygon. I ran over to where he was and whipped him as hard as I could across his face. Beeping angrily, it split into three and I backed off for the time being and closed my eyes. As I did so I felt the tickling sensation return, but this time I felt renewed. I smiled as I concentrated and soon I detected the porygon’s scent and charged forwards guided only by my nose and I once more slammed into my opponent with all the force that my body could muster. The next thing I knew I felt an invisible force sending me hurtling backwards. When the invisible attack ended, I concentrated and ran forwards. While I charged I felt my tail getting heavier and as I went to hit the porygon, I noticed that it was growing silver. There was a loud crack that resounded through the area when my tail connected and the porygon was sent tumbling backwards. When it finally came to a stop, it didn’t move. As I watched, an abra appeared out of nowhere and teleported both itself and the porygon away. Once the pokemon were out of sight, Sinopa emerged from her new hiding spot. After making sure that she was okay, the two of us decided to head into town and try to find Amy and the twins. They all needed to know about what just happened.


I won!
I grew to L.16!
I learned Growl by level.

Skye
2nd August 2005, 11:19 AM
Finality - Part one

The silence was horrible. It drummed in Darkfire’s sensitive ears, causing her head to ache immensely. She was hidden out near the Guild itself, lying in wait. She buried her fingers into Ayende’s long, black fur in an attempt to still herself. People moved, some hidden, some not. She retreated with the black Eevee, seeking the safety of distance. She couldn’t bring herself to approach the Tamers. Not yet. She shook slightly as she led her Pokemon away. Their defenses had been laid out all over Sector Alpha, Pokemon and people guarding the North, South, East, and West. It would effectively deflect the attack, but she couldn't help at feeling that she should help them in anyway she could. Ayende offered a soft squeak to her, and Darkfire heard the reassurance in his statement. She smiled softly and picked him up, carrying him away.

It wasn't long before Ares joined her small, retreating team. He was doing something to help her, but what it was she didn't know. All he had told her was that there was a Pokemon on the inside of the Rockets who wanted out of the fighting. He had had contact with this creature, but wouldn't tell Darkfire anymore than that. It bothered her, but she agreed to help the unknown Pokemon when the time came. Until then, the Pokemon had agreed to gather intelligence from the inside while Darkfire aided the defense.

Now, apparently this Pokemon was trusted heavily, but recently has been looking for ways to escape command for a time now and, thus, had begun to withhold information from its owners, including the knowledge of a recent e-mail dispatch among the Dragon Tamers from their Dragons Guild's Tactical Neutralization Unit, Lord Absol. This hidden detail kept the Rockets from knowing of the impeding attack from the Blades. If the Rockets learned about the attack, Darkfire knew it wouldn’t be below the other organization to attack the Tamers, thinking they had been weakened.

She hoped that this Pokemon was trustworthy enough to be able to keep the attack unknown from the Rockets while she was busy. She wasn’t planning on helping the Tamers forever, but she needed the time to get ready for a journey to retrieve it. The preparations would take a while, but not too long. If this Pokemon was helping the Dragon Tamers in such ways, it was putting its life in dire jeopardy. She was actually considering sending Hinto and Ares out on a mission to retrieve this Pokemon, and she knew she was only considering because Ares was trying to guide her to it through mental persuasion.

The last member of their group, Kalil, ran to join the group. The Growlithe had been secretly tracking the progress of the advancing enemy, and Darkfire was relieved that he had been able to return unscathed. Ares shook his head at her slightly as they retreated to their base. The rest of the Pokemon were either resting in their Pokeballs and safe, or waiting in the camp itself and guarding it. A soft fluttering sound was coming from the camp, and Darkfire raised an eyebrow, wondering what was going on.

Ares led Kalil away to get a drink and ask questions while Darkfire carried Ayende to the heart of the camp, searching out the unfamiliar noises. She found herself suppressing a smile at the sight of Rayne encouraging Menos to flapping his wings. The young Dratini, only a few weeks old, was managing to hover a scant inch off of the ground before landing again with a delighted squeal at his accomplishment. His twin brother, Radek, was giggling at the sight of his brother flying, and was squirming on the ground, trying to fly too. Instead, he released a small Ice Beam, managing to freeze a few leaves on a nearby bush. Impressed, Menos tried to release an Ice Beam as well, but he couldn’t figure the attack out. Radek giggled again as his brother started squirming and did the same thing, thinking it was a game.

“I remember when Ayende found Helping Hand and Hidden Power.” Darkfire said as she set the mentioned Eevee down. He went over to the Dratini twins and began to play with them, tickling and giggling with them. He was still a young Pokemon, even if he was old enough to battle. He got along great with the Dratini twins, and often liked to play the babysitter while Darkfire was off doing a few things. It was very interesting to see how the different Pokemon reacted to the introduction of the young Dratini, especially the Pokemon who had joined this team as babies themselves.

Rayne looked up at her calmly, and she saw something there in his eyes. She had learned much about the Kabuto since they had first met, and he accepted her change easily. It had been a relief to learn that he didn’t hold her acting against her, and was taking it well. No threats to attack her or leave her team. She saw the way he was toward the Dratini where he hadn’t been overly interested in any other young Pokemon that had joined the team.

She then thought back to when Ayende had found out about his Hidden Power and Helping hand attacks. He had toddled after everyone who came near him and was busy, and started using Helping Hand to try to help them. It had been rather cute, but it had annoyed a few Pokemon who had little patience for the young Eevee’s enthusiasm for his gift of helping. He was a caring Pokemon, and it showed. When Hidden Power had come up, he had been telling Kai scary stories late into the night until Darkfire had thrown a shoe at the pair to silence their chattering and squealing giggles of nervousness. Both had jumped out of their skins and went to sleep obediently.

Kai’s terrified yelps has woken Darkfire a bit later, along with a few other grumbling Pokemon, until she saw Kai floating, a shadow gripping him around the middle. At first, she has suspected Ares was trying to scare the young Pokemon out of staying up late again, but the Umbreon had been fast asleep on the other side of camp. While trying to figure out how to get the terrified Eevee down, Ayende had rolled over in his own sleep, flipping poor Kai upside down. Suspicious, she took a hold of Kai and nudged the black Eevee awake. The moment his eyes had come open, the bonds on Kai vanished, dropping the Eevee into Darkfire’s hold.

Now the Hidden Power was changing the older Ayende got. When he had tried to levitate a stick and throw it for Kalil to catch, it had been town to shreds instead by lashing waves of dark tendrils. Horrified, he had run to Darkfire, crying about his sticks being attacked by invisible giant ants. She allowed a smile onto her face at the memories. Ayende had an active imagination. That and his love of studying things around him helped. He had been watching ants cut up leaves with their teeth only the day before. After having studied the innocent stick, she had asked Ayende to levitate a different stick. He had done so, and Darkfire saw the shadows destroy the stick. She had warned Ayende to not levitate anyone after that, and had kept an eye on the Eevee’s mutating powers.

Rayne returned to watching the two Dratini, and Darkfire again wondered why he was so protective about the two of them. But for now, she shrugged it off and began making preparations. There was one Crimson Blade she was going to try and talk to. He was not a close friend, but he might just be smart enough to listen to her without a fight. Sector Alpha was radiating its tension, and she knew that they might just be planning to do something to defeat the Blades once and for all. Whatever it was, she didn’t know, but it didn’t give her a good feeling. She would try and convince as many as possible to leave the Crimson Blades before anything bad happened to them. Not all of them were fanatics, after all.

She brought Rayne and Ares, leaving the rest to guard the campsite. Dawn slowly stole over the land, sky tainted with the red of blood. It sent shivers down her spine, and she held the two Pokeballs closer to herself. The Crimson Blades would begin bearing down on Sector Alpha within the next half hour, meaning she had little time left. She picked up the pace, keeping low to the ground. She watched the scouts dart out and approach the city, appearing nothing more than mere shadows, before retreating to encourage the advancing army that no traps lay in wait. Darkfire found a secluded spot and hid herself.

She watched as they began to advance, bodies determined and eyes fanatic. She wondered how she had ever managed to pull of acting as one of them for so long. She searched from her spot for Shaidar, but didn’t see him. She reached out for him, and found him. Her heart skipped a beat.

<You have need of me?> He had felt her probing their mind link.

<No, brother. I was just making certain you were still alive.> She returned.

<I am well, and not attacking. I came, but I will remain hidden.> He was going to try and make the Dragon Tamers increase their efforts against the Crimson Blades. <I do not plan on getting myself killed, sister.> She sighed, hearing someone come upon her from behind.

<No one ever does.> She closed the link off fully and let the presence get closer and closer. Something cold pressed to the base of her neck, but she didn’t even flinch. She knew who this was, and he was not a killer.

“I would have thought this was below you, Darkfire. Stealing and now returning to kill.” The cold metal shifted against her, and she smiled. “I might have to take you into custody so you can be treated for your insanity.”

“Put that away, Cyndane. I know it’s not a gun, just a bar of metal. And you would never harm me.” The metal pushed against her skin. “I have important business to attend to, and you’re getting in my way.” She turned to face him, the bar sliding under her throat. She looked up into his emerald-green eyes and saw the sorrow in them. She stood slowly and put her hands out to him as if asking him to arrest her. He produced a rope and tied her wrists together firmly, but she saw the gentle way he did it, leaving her not uncomfortable with the rope.

“I’m sorry.” He spoke it softly, but she heard it. He only saw her one Pokeball, Ares’s Pokeball was hidden. “I was waiting for you to come back, but you never did. Now you have no choice.” As he tried to lead her away, a warning came from Shaidar. She pulled hard, yanking the unsuspecting man off-balance. He stumbled and caught himself, but not before a second man found them.

Darkfire took in the appearance of the second man, readying herself. Cyndane had seen him, and cursed as he drew a Pokeball, not even knowing that had he been seen dragging Darkfire away, he would have been shot without a second’s hesitation. Now the Crimson Blade did hesitate, eyes caught by Darkfire’s forbidding gaze. He glanced at Cyndane as he released his Scyther, then looked to her, as she had once been a rank higher than himself. He didn’t know she was no longer with them.

“Oh boy.” She grinned, surprising the Blade. She had been the most stoic and aggressive, second to Shaidar, She never grinned. “I have my prisoner under control, Dayan. Now, we two need to talk.” She received stares from both males, and grinned wider. “Ares, Rayne?” Both Pokemon burst free at her summon, the rope releasing her wrists from the touch of Ares’s Psychic. Cyndane stiffened, realizing the position he had been put in, and wasn’t happy with it.

Rayne sized both men up, taking in the Scyther who was awaiting direction from Cyndane. He wanted a battle, she knew. He wanted evolution to a less hindering form. She sighed softly, knowing she could not ignore the wants of her Pokemon, even of there were others on her team of whom needed to train against opponents as well. Dayan issued a low, warning growl in his throat. He would see himself as being at a disadvantage here, being the only one without a Pokemon out. In one swift motion, two Seviper were released. Cyndane stepped up beside Darkfire, Scyther joining Rayne’s side. The cornered Crimson Blade would need to be contained and dealt with when he had nothing else to loose. Darkfire trusted Cyndane to hold up in his own battle as she narrowed her attention down to Rayne and the Seviper he was facing.

Rayne’s Fight! Rayne (27) Vs. Seviper (35)

“Go!” She commanded, and Rayne released a blast of light, disorienting the poisonous snake. It hissed and spat a flurry of poisonous needles at Rayne, but the fell short, the Seviper unable either see or sense Rayne. The Kabuto had no heat signature to lock onto. Rayne had the advantage. She gave her Pokemon no orders, letting him battle as he wanted.

Rayne summoned a powerful wave of mud, sending it to Seviper. The wave connected with a terrible result to Seviper’s health. It hissed angrily as it shook its head, attempting to rid itself of the mess of mud plastered to its face and to rid itself of the disorienting confusion. Rayne’s eyes shimmered mysteriously as he watched, gathering energy to himself as Seviper continued its futile flailing. Without warning, it leapt into the air, smashing back down to the earth with a shattering effect. Rayne lost his focus as the Earthquake connected. Darkfire was thrown to the ground, eyes dangerous as she looked at the Crimson Blade across from her. He shifted, knowing his orders, and also knowing Darkfire was now an enemy.

“Iron Tail, both of you!” The desperate Blade called. Darkfire smirked coldly as she stood. She again gave no counter command, knowing Rayne could take care of himself in the midst of battle. She also didn’t want the Seviper to know that Rayne was stuck on his back, flipped from the powerful attack. To do so would have devastating consequences. Seviper’s tail turned a pure white color as it launched in Rayne’s direction, hearing the Kabuto’s struggles to right himself. It didn’t know the other Pokemon was helpless, it only knew it could hear Rayne and thus could attack more accurately. Rayne’s shell and legs shimmered a bright whitish color as he crossed his legs, creating a powerful defense. The sharp blade like tail slammed down on Rayne, meeting the resistance of Rayne’s hardened limbs. Seviper issued a scream-like noise of pain as it pulled its tail away. Frustrated, it lashed at Rayne from the side, hitting his Hardened shell and causing more pain to its tail. The impact from the blow righted Rayne, who hissed triumphantly.

“No,” Dayan breathed, recalling his other Seviper already. Darkfire grinned to herself, realizing Cyndane had won. “It can’t be. Seviper, Giga Drain!”

“Go to it, Rayne. You know what to do.” Rayne hissed softly, obviously understanding. Seviper wiped its face clear of the mud finally and snarled at Rayne. The Kabuto watched, not intimidated from the giant snake’s show of menace. Seviper lunged at Rayne, fangs glistening. It meant to bite onto Rayne and hold him to drain his health. Rayne’s eyes narrowed as he focused, bringing his fore claws up as if he meant to scratch his assailant. However, an orb of light blue energy appeared in between his claws. Just a split second before Seviper made contact, Rayne released his Ice Beam into Seviper’s mouth, freezing the snake’s head in a solid block of ice and throwing it back. It landed on the ground with a heavy thud, unmoving.

Rayne is victorious! He grows to Level 29, and learns Sand Attack(Level 28)!

Dayan hissed under his breath and recalled the defeated snake and looked coldly upon Darkfire. “What happened to you? Why are you betraying your comrades, your brother?”

“I am not betraying anyone, Dayan. I’m through pretending to be a killer and a heartless thief. I’m going to tear Blades and Rockets apart with my bare hands so you don’t suck any more victims into your twisted schemes. Run now, little boy.” Her eyes held a curious madness to him, a vile sheen of sickening triumph. “Run now or die.” Dayan’s eyes widened as he turned and ran, valuing his life enough to want to escape the mad sister of the most powerful of the super soldiers powerful the Blades. He knew his place was not in the Blades, and maybe now he would escape as Darkfire had.

<Kill?> Ares asked, sharing the communication with Rayne, Cyndane, and his Scyther as well as Darkfire.

“Are you crazy? I don’t kill. I just act.” Rayne issued an irritated sigh, and Darkfire grinned. “Yeah, we’ll go. See you around, Cyndane. Scyther.” She nodded at each of them and recalled Rayne to rest in his Pokeball.

“Oh no you’re not. Darkfire, you can’t just leave.” Cyndane grabbed her arm to hold her still. “You know I can’t let you get away.”

“Yes you can.” Darkfire countered.

“No, I fear I cannot. Come back with me.” He urged.

“I’m not a Dragon Tamer. I never can be and I never will be. It’s not my way of life. I wander, I’m a rogue. I can’t be tied down to any place, and I’ll go mad if you put me in a room for the rest of my life.” She looked up at him, noticing for once how much taller than her he was. “Trust me, Cyndane. I won’t cause any more problems for you. Or the others. I’m nothing more than a shadow in the dark. Darkfire.”

His grip loosened slowly. “You don’t have to be alone, Darkfire.” He whispered it as if she were denying paradise. As if she were denying him.

“Sorry. Listen, just because I’m not a Tamer doesn’t mean I can’t find somewhere to be. I may even return and try for real some other time. But not now.” Darkfire took her arm back and left him standing, left him looking after her. Ares gave the human one glance before turning and following Darkfire.

<You made a good decision.> He remarked.

“Dare I think that was a compliment?” Darkfire growled back.

<Don’t get your hopes up.> He returned dryly. <Is that fire?>

Darkfire looked up and gasped. A column of fire was rising in the air rapidly before burning out, and it was coming from where their camp was located. She hissed numerous un-lady like words, surprising Ares with her vocabulary, and took off running.

Charizard04621
2nd August 2005, 11:19 AM
Amy - Wow, that must've been scary! Poor Sinopa... I feel sorry for her. Darin did a great job, though. :) I guess we'll see what these events lead to in your next story. I'm curious and hope to see it soon. This story flew by pretty quickly but it set up something interesting! I'm waiting for your next story, Amy. Take 8 Stamps. ^^

Darkfire - I'll try to read yours, but since I'm a guest at someone else's house and this isn't my computer, if Gabi/Ade/Amy manage to finish your story before I rate it, you should accept the stamps from them instead. :)

Skye
3rd August 2005, 12:54 AM
*shrugs* I'm writing more for the levels than the stamps. I have my Dratinis. (Two! WHOOT! *STILL in shock*) So take your time. And I'm releasing Kana and Dasha in this one. They're much better support characters than main characters. ._.;; *pays 10 Stamps* And I have proof of their being adopted for over a month. I keep track. ^^;

Kana: Dragon Tamers Adoption Center Version 26; Sunday November 14, 2004
Dasha: Dragon Tamers Adoption Center Version 26; Friday December 10, 2004

And I gave Amaris my Hyper Beam TM as of now. *uses it on Amaris* So... yeah. ^^; I think that's all for now. Rayne's RBG is Part 3, btw. What happens to Menos, Kana, and Dasha in this story will be continued in the next scenario(AKA the current one)

Finality, Part 2

Naois rested himself after a good workout, content with his progress. He was going to be a Charizard someday if it killed him. Darkfire had been gone for nearly a full hour now, and he needed rest for the moment. Amaris was also resting in a nearby patch of shade, her eyes on the sleeping forms of Menos and Radek. They had fallen asleep after trying to figure out why Menos could fly and Radek couldn’t. Naois chuckled softly at the memory. He could spend his life here in this forest, training himself to grow stronger and watch the young Pokemon grow up.

A noise startled Naois from his trail of thought and he spun around to face an Eevee. She was a stranger, not one of his friends. She purred warmly to him, bringing Amaris’s attention to her. “I’m Alice, what’s your name, cutie?”

“Naois,” He replied, masking his emotions from this stranger. She smelled like the enemy.

“I’m Amaris,” the Absol stepped forward, joining the party. “May we help you?”

“Ooohhh. I was just around when I saw your Dratini friends. I think they’d like to join myself and my trainer.”

“Uh-huh. Look, they already have a trainer, thanks,” Amaris spoke curtly. “Please leave.”

“I don’t want to. I want your Dratini for my trainer. Both of them,” she was growling irritated, much to Amaris’s amusement.

“What are you gonna do? Fight us?” Amaris taunted. The Eevee lunged forward and Tackled the unsuspecting Absol. Amaris recovered swiftly, brushing of the warning attack. “She’s stronger than she looks,” warned the Absol to the Charmander. Naois nodded and dropped into a battle stance.

Amaris and Naois’s Battle! Amaris and Naois (9) Vs. Eevee (15)

Amaris took in a deep breath at the same moment Naois did a little skit. Alice was shocked at their combined precision as the sunlight increased dramatically and a blast of flame shot out from the mouth of the Absol, scorching her intensely. Alice screamed her pain as burns crept into her coat. She ducked out of the line of fire and released her Hidden Power, a wave of water.

Naois recoiled from the water and attempted to keep his tail flame dry. Alice took advantage of his distraction to launch a Wish. Looking up at the sky, a shooting star was barely visible in the bright daylight. She made a Wish, and seemed to brighten once she felt the affects of her Wish become set. Amaris growled and lunged at the smaller Poke, Slashing at her with the black scythe on the top of her head.

Alice evaded each thrust expertly, her movements growing swifter and swifter by the moment. Amaris recognized the Quick Attack after a moment’s hesitation, which the Eevee used to lunge into the Absol, slamming full force into her. Amaris was taken aback once again by the power within the body of the smaller Pokemon.

Naois was suddenly on the Absol, using his Slash on her back and side, attacking furiously. The Eevee cried her pain and defiance as she retreated. Amaris staggered to her feet, already feeling the worse for ware. However, one glance at Naois told her he was faring far worse than she. A triumphant look crossed Alice’s face as her wounds seem to vanish, leaving a nearly healthy Eevee pitted against the lower leveled and worn Pokemon.

Alice lunged forward again and spat a filthy goo at the two comrades, and Amaris leapt forward without a second though, coat glowing. The goo bounced off of her and struck Alice over the face. She yelped in shock and attempted to clean her own Toxic off of her face. Blinded, she howled when a Flamethrower with increased power struck her. Fleeing blindly, she ran directly into Naois’s path, where he fired a flurry of Embers at her mercilessly. The two were winning swiftly now, and neither noticed a dark figure sneak into the camp.

Alice attempted one more trick, summoning rain with a limped dance. Naois covered his tail as the rain began to fall. Amaris attempted to concentrate on a Water attack, but when a still vigorous Eevee tackled her, she released a Flamethrower sky high accidentally. After that, she collapsed to the ground, most all of her energy spent. Naois was unable to move for fear of dowsing his tail flame. Triumphant, Alice advanced upon the Charmander, wicked intent in her eyes. Amaris lifted her head, feeling helpless, but knowing if she didn’t act, Naois was in for bit trouble. She opened her mouth and concentrated hard. Something… anything. An orb of energy gathered swiftly within her mouth, and she put all of her focus and energy into it.

A beam of pure energy blasted forth from her mouth, Amaris’s last attempt to help Naois. Time seemed to freeze as Alice turned slowly to gape at the attack heading for her. A scream was drowned out as she was sent flying back and was knocked immediately out form the impact of the attack. Amaris closed her eyes, spent but awake.

“A... Hyper Beam…” Naois was shocked. He had knows Darkfire had a Hyper Beam TM, but hadn’t known it had been given to Amaris. The Absol gave a small sheepish grin and shrugged a shoulder weakly.

Amaris and Naois are victorious! They learn Shadow Ball and Rock Slide respectively as Lv.10 free TMs

A cry startled them as the turned and saw a dark figure racing away, a scared looking Menos was being carried away. The stranger also held Pokeballs as he raced away. Instantly, both knew Dasha the Aron and the Torchic named Kana were in those Pokeballs. Both were too weak form the battle to pursue the thief, but as they turned to look for the unconscious Eevee, their hearts filled with dread when they saw she was gone as well.

Hinto, who had been watching, shifted back to its normal form and look uncertain. It had shifted its shape to mimic a pile of dirt and hide the rest of the Pokeballs containing team mates who had retired earlier for a mid day nap.

“I’m sorry… I tried to grab their Pokeballs, but he saw them…” Hinto looked thoroughly ashamed.

Naois came in out of the rain, Amaris almost crawling along side him as they took shelter under a tree. “It’s alright. You tried your hardest. We all tried out hardest today. All we can do is wait for the reinforcements to arrive.”

Charizard04621
4th August 2005, 11:34 AM
Erm, Darkfire, before I can give you any stamps, you're going to have to knock out a few compatability glitches.

Firstly: Eevee does not learn Agility, ever, in-game. Only Jolteon has that advantage. The accurséd Animé might have spoken otherwise, but technically, Eevee cannot use that attack.

Second: I'm not sure this is a problem here, but I'll check the FAQ and such; I don't remember if there was a decision made on FRLG Move Tutor moves. Anyway, if they're not allowed, Rock Slide is a bred-on move for Charmander, and thus cannot be taught with a regular TM. Only EMT TMs/HMs (and prizes from tournaments and such, of course) have the power to override bred-on move status. I'll change this post when I figure out whether or not we let in the FRLG Move Tutor.

[EDIT]: Wow, I found when I searched for this that I'd answered my own question a few months ago! Er... Yeah. For my sanity's sake, Gabi, could we please add a section to the FAQ about which moves are allowed as free TMs on pokémon...? ^_^;;;;;; I feel really silly now.

Anyway, bottom line - You can keep Rock Slide on Charmander, but the battle involving the Eevee will be invalid (no levels gained, no stamps, no free TMs) until you edit the part where the Eevee uses Agility (Quick Attack is a valid and simple option; you can get it legally in the game by breeding two parents knowing Quick Attack, the mother of which will produce an Eevee - we just don't take advantage of this rule in the AC/CC because some pokémon would have an unfairly large arsenal of moves).

Skye
4th August 2005, 11:43 AM
Okay, I'll change it to Quick Attack it'll take a few moments. And as for the Rock Slide, it is a Tutor Move, so can't it can be given as a free TM? I thought I read you can give Tutor moves as free TMs.

Charizard04621
4th August 2005, 11:45 AM
Er, yeah, you posted right before I edited my post... =/ Read above.

[EDIT]: Anyway, take 14 stamps for your story so far. I liked the intro, but the part about Alice seemed a little bit rushed. By the way, I'm getting confused about Cyndane... Is he a Dragon Tamer or something? I thought he was a Crimson Blade. >_< But the guy talking mentally is a different person, your character's brother, who is a Blade, right? Erk.

Skye
4th August 2005, 01:14 PM
Cyndane is my made up Dargon Tamer who was once a spy in Team Rocket, so not many in his ranks trust him, they think his acting was a bit too good. ^^; Or something. Still figuring the whole thing out about dragon tamers. And Yes, Shaidar is a Crimson Blade, and Darkfire's brother. Thanks for the rating. ^^; I wasn't in a writing mood when I wrote the Alice bit, and I'm still not. So yeah. ^^; *kicks writer's block*

Charizard04621
6th August 2005, 11:44 AM
Kalazeth, the male Horsea's POV:

Cool pond water gently lapped over her face, but she didn't seem to feel it. She loved to enjoy the soft caress of the lazy ripples as she rested from her afternoon swim; at least, she did, but lately she seemed to have lost all interest, in anything, really. Including talking and eating. I had been very worried about her.

"Elwing? Are you all right?"

The Dratini's face did not change. In fact, I doubt that she'd heard me at all. She lay still in the mud facing the middle of the pond, unaware that the shallow-water algae had wrapped around her and left traces of dirty green on her perfect skin.

Sighing, I approached her and splashed her gently, calling her name in whispers. "Elwing, tell me what's wrong." I nudged her softly. "You can trust me."

Reacting instantly to my touch she swiveled around and lashed her tail out at me, so suddently that I hadn't enough time to avoid her unexpected attack. The force threw me against the hard bank, knocking my breath out of me.

"Don't touch me!" screamed Elwing, inexplicably frantic. "Don't come near me! I hate you! I won't let you hurt me again!"

I didn't understand what I had done; why was she angry at me? I'd never wanted to see her hurt. The accusation pained me, and yet, I could tell that something terrible had happened to her and she was in pain, too. But why was her wrath directed at me?

"Elwing," I pleaded, with an injured look. "It's me, don't you know me? I'm Kalazeth. I don't want to hurt you. I don't want you to be hurt. Please," I sputtered desperately, trying to convince her to believe my words. "I'm me. Kalazeth."

At the sound of my name, she seemed to stir a little. Recognition filled her eyes, followed by a look of remorse. "Kalazeth, I... I'm sorry I screamed at you."

I accepted her apology, of course, but now I was more worried than ever. "Elwing, I know something's been bothering you... I want to help." My eyes begged for her confidence. Whatever had happened to her, she could not keep it to herself, or it would destroy her from the inside. I locked gazes with her, not once looking away from her deep, fearful eyes. "You can tell me."

Immediately after I said that, I regretted ever doing so. Elwing choked and began to cry, her tears streaming down her face in a continuous flow, falling into the pond like forlorn waterfalls.

"Elwing, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything..."

She shook her head and her sobbing became increasingly worse. Leaning against me for support, she tried, unsuccessfully, to withold her tears.

"It's all right to cry," I told her softly. I do it sometimes. You have to let it all out, and then you'll feel a little better, even if it's just for a short while." I decided not to ask her why she was suffering so much. She wasn't ready yet.

Shar, the female Absol's POV:

Why did they help me? Why did they care? Many possibilities arose, but I spat disgustedly at every one of them. They didn't have a use for me. If they were afraid of me, they would have let me die. And I didn't need their pity.

I frowned, still left to ponder the same question. I had no choice but to ask.

The Eevee and the Scyther had gone for a late morning walk in the encircling forest. I assumed they'd wanted to escape the blazing sun and spend their day instead under the cool leafy shade.

Much as I hated to admit it, if they had not saved me at Sector Alpha, the Fearow and Pidgeot would have torn me to pieces.

Crimson Blade. That name had a sinister ring, and every time I thought of it I licked my lips as if to taste blood. Perhaps my real owner was a Crimson Blade. It was an appealing thought, and yet I remembered how those bloodthirsty birds of prey, with glints of malice in their eyes, had not hesitated to hunt me down for the kill. That, and the Vibrava's words still clung to my head. That I was welcome here. That this was my home.

I had no reason to believe him, but I had none to disbelieve him, either. He seemed like a harmless enough guy, and, to his credit, he had sought me out so he could talk to me personally. Perhaps there was something in what he had said, after all. He did strike me as an honest pokémon.

Up ahead, I could see the Eevee and Scyther engaged in combat training. They seemed to be practicing several evasive maneuvers until the Eevee said something and I could feel tension in the air. The Scyther stalked off and he chased after her, calling her name.

As I grew closer, I could hear him shouting. "Ruth, I didn't mean that in a bad way! I'm sorry!" But she had gone, taken off into the air so he couldn't follow.

The Eevee turned back, his ears flopped downwards and his tail between his legs. "Why did I say that?" I heard him mutter.

As soon as I came into view, the Eevee fell back, startled. "Oh, hello, Shar. I didn't know you were here."

I looked at him, unblinking. He returned my gaze curiously, although I could still see that he was distracted by his companion's sudden tantrum.

"Why did you help me?" I asked abruptly.

He smiled, traces of sadness still remaining from his previous encounter. "I felt, Shar, that it was the right thing to do. I would have done the same for anyone; any fellow pokémon deserves a helping hand once in a while, yes?"

Ignoring his question, I stated, "I attacked you without warning. You had your injuries for months."

"Forgiveness is a virtue." I could feel his smile burning me again.

"Well," I snapped, growing increasingly uncomfortable at the knowing look he gave me, "Manage your own affairs next time. I didn't need you." I ran away into the woods to escape his unending knowing smile, surprised at the suddenness of my outburst.

Nimrodel, the female Lapras's POV:

"This cave was a lucky discovery, wasn't it?" I smiled at the Lileep on my back, enjoying the cool, dank air in the crystalline cavern. The water felt icy on my flippers, a truly blissful feeling that I'd been fortunate to enjoy lately.

Mandragora enjoyed exploring as much as he enjoyed the things we found. I was actually glad that I'd met him; neither of us talked much outside of ourselves, finding it difficult to mingle with the others, to whom, mostly, battling was a lifestyle. I disliked conflict, whereas, at the slightest mention of a fight, Mandragora retreated within his shell in shock and fear for a very long time. I sensed there was a darkness that clouded his history, but I did not want to ask him; he would tell me if he chose to, with time.

"Are we going deeper into the cavern today?" the Lileep asked, a hint of quivering excitement in his voice.

"Would you like to?"

He agreed happily, eager already to start the journey.

Travelling was a favorite pastime that we shared. When Karin found out, she did her best to find places for us to go, to feed our passion. Not far into the woods around our house, we were fortunate enough to meet with a stream, which grew rapidly into a river. Karin left us there each day to follow its trail and discover wherever it led.

The pristine caves where we spent our days were vast; they had been cut in the base of a mountain, through which the river flowed that led us to this beautiful sanctuary. Crystals sparkled on the cavern walls, the glassy water felt refreshing to the touch, and everywhere little rainbows glowed from corners in the rock or over small waterfalls that fed into the swift river.

"We can explore a little today, but we've got to meet Karin in the woods shortly for lunch," I told Mandragora. He agreed silently.

Switchblade, the *male* Porygon's POV:

Evenstar was working in the kitchen; I could smell the delicious aromas wafting through the air. The Sneasel had a real knack for cooking. Karin, Evenstar, and I had found that out really early on, back when it was just the three of us in the house and none of us knew a lot about what we were doing.

I missed the old days sometimes but not too awfully badly. It was nice to reminisce about the past, like the day when we first saw the Eevee House after trudging miserably through the snow, or when we were in the Winter Olympics with Nimrodel and Élan, or... My mind fell back to Élan. I wondered what he was doing now. Silently, I regretted yelling at him when I'd had the chance to see him; there were so many other things I could have said or asked about instead, like what adventures had he had, and what had he seen, and what was it like out there when he had only himself to rely on and his own strength. I made up my mind that, if the Unown ever showed up again, I would ask him these things, maybe more.

Sitting in my favorite bean bag (it had been moulded comfortably into my shape after years of constant use), I scanned the television for any news. Usually this channel aired battles, where pokémon were shown in friendly engagements and sometimes a newly registered trainer showed up, but the screen had gone blank in preparation for important news. When I saw the images on the recorded broadcast and listened to the words of the man who called himself Armand DiAnnio, my heart froze. "Um, Karin? You might want to see this."

My POV:

I fingered my necklace nervously; the silver dragon, his eyes glowing a heated red, seemed eager to push me out of the house. This only increased my anxiety. You're a big help, I thought. The phone call and news broadcast had both spoken the same unsettling message: Armand DiAnnio and his Crimson Blades were back and ready to end our dealings with them, once and for all. My urge to leave the house got the better of me so I told everyone to gather outside. Nimrodel, Mandragora, Kalazeth, and Elwing were already there, so it didn't take long for all of the others to assemble. To my surprise, Lune didn't want to go to the Shifting Isles, but when I realized that Rúthruin was not here with us I mouthed the word, "Go," and he shot off into the forest.

"Why is it called the Shifting Isles?" Switchblade asked me suspiciously.

"I'm not sure, but I get the feeling we'll find out when we get there." I chuckled nervously. "I've already got the map, so we can head out right after we eat. Who wants to come?"

It turned out to be everyone but Lune, Rúthruin, and Shar, who never showed up much anyway, especially if I'd called. She seemed to be growing less hostile than before, but she still isolated herself from the others and cast me reproachful looks. I sighed, bewildered that nobody had yet claimed her. I'd resorted to searching the Breeding Center for any pairings with a female Absol, but either I had carelessly overlooked something or I simply had no luck. It looked as if Shar might have to learn to make her home here. I decided to switch her back to an unmarked pokéball the next time I saw her, realizing that she might think that I was purposely isolating her, rather than my original intent to protect her more carefully than the others.

After everyone had eaten and comfortably rested, we decided to embark on our journey. Switchblade agreed to go into his pokéball - he had less and less reservation about that lately, and it was almost becoming something not of note - so it was only me left to ride Gwaihir as we headed for DiAnnio's likely trap.

"What do you think about this whole thing, Gwaihir?" I asked the airborne Aerodactyl. He turned his head and lifted his sunglasses, his royal blue scarf blowing into his face because he was flying at such sheer speed. Trademarks of his father, Dodger.

"I bet the Blades'll have something waiting for us when we get there, but we'll be ready to face anything, won't we?" He winked.

Smiling, I managed to relax slightly. Gwaihir's carefree attitude was one of the few things that kept me remotely cheerful on flights like this. It was in times of danger, grim days when I needed it most, that Gwaihir always pulled through for me. The sun seemed to shine slightly brighter when he talked, and, with a little bit of imagination, light performed a subtle dance on his strong wings.

Gwaihir went into a sudden nosedive and proceeded to somersault in the air with me clinging on for dear life. When he levelled off again, he realized his error. "Whoops, sorry. Forgot you were there." The Aerodactyl grinned sheepishly.

"It's all right; I'm used to it," I replied, with a laugh.

Before long, we had arrived in foreign territory; the elaborate instructions DiAnnio had given convinced me that had he not told us how, it was unlikely that we would discover the secrets to revealing his hidden stronghold. When Gwaihir landed on one of the outer islands, I was almost certain of it.

Kalazeth, the male Horsea's POV:

Elwing's condition had, by lunchtime, improved slightly; she wasn't crying anymore. Much to my delight, she also ate the food that was offered her. I hoped that she would feel better soon.

Now, in the deceptively complacent sea of the Shifting Isles, I made her a promise: "I won't let anyone hurt you." I don't know why I said it, but something about this place, more than the fact that it was dreaded Crimson Blade territory, instilled in me a sense of anxiety and fear that I could not ignore. Although Elwing was a strong Dratini and could usually protect herself just fine, days of neglect had weakened her physically, and her devastating experience, whatever it was, haunted her every waking moment.

"Kalazeth, swim with me."

Elwing seemed slightly distracted. No doubt she was trying to keep out of her mind what had been bothering her all this time. I still didn't know what it was, but I was not going to ask. I smiled, urging her to come underwater with me. "Let's go."

She didn't need to be asked twice. I found out immediately that she planned to race. "Hey, Extremespeed! No fair!" I teased her, trying to follow after an unsuccessful attempt to put rainclouds in to the sunny sky.

To be honest, I was glad that we'd split up into groups. I didn't think that Elwing wanted the others to see her in her condition, although I had the feeling that they knew more than I did about what had happened to her. Elwing's wish to race was a positive development, though; I could hear her giggling up ahead.

"Hey," I called, "Wait for me, won't you? You know I can't catch up to you." But she had already stopped. Something was up ahead, something that she was staring at with unmistakable fear. That something turned out to be a Dragonair.

"Elwing...?" I voiced uncertainly.

"You've got nothing to worry about," scoffed the Dragonair haughtily. "I don't go for seconds." He paused, as if having contrary thoughts, but shook his head almost regretfully. "You know, you are an extraordinarily pretty Dratini. My new teammate would like to meet you." He swam for the shore, leaving behind a particularly nasty-looking Poliwag.

"Why, hello, Elwing," he snickered, "I'm Wrath. Night told me a lot about you." He looked at her hungrily, as if... calculating something. Elwing had begun to shiver.

"Don't you dare touch her!" I placed myself between Elwing and the Poliwag. "It's going to be all right," I told her. "I'll fight for you."

Shock had not left her eyes. "That was him," she said, in an eerie voice that was not her own. "Kalazeth, that was him..."

The Poliwag seemed to savor her fear and devour it. "Sweetie, soon I'll be him, too."

"Not while I'm still alive!" I did not know what that Dragonair had done to her, but it had made Elwing feel terrible and I would not allow the same thing to happen again.

"Suit yourself." Wrath fell into a battle stance.


Kalazeth, LV12 male Horsea vs. Wrath, LV15 male Poliwag

It didn't take long for me to realize that the Poliwag was fast. He was also amphibious, which allowed him to taunt me on dry land where I could not follow. I found it excessively difficult to keep Wrath still.

I had the feeling that Wrath wanted to get rid of me quickly; he cast his greedy eyes on Elwing from time to time, and the first thing he did was attempt to defeat me mentally in a furious wrestle for consciousness. His eyes somehow found mine; I felt myself being lulled by the pleasantly lazy sound of the waves above breaking upon the shore. When he stole another glance at Elwing, though, I blackened the sea around us with a dense underwater smog. Whatever happened, I could not allow Wrath to claim Elwing.

In the confusion, I could sense the Poliwag, but he could not see me. I took the opportunity to throw all my weight into him, having propelled myself rapidly with my tail. He seemed out of breath. I repeated the maneuver from above him, grinding Wrath against the shallow reef at the bottom of the seafloor.

By now my ink cloud had cleared. Able to see again, Wrath swam away from the reef, quickly surfacing and running onto land. I found it odd that my enemy wanted to escape from me instead of launching a counteroffensive strike, until it occured to me that Wrath currently specialized in speed and speed alone. It was enough to make an escape, but I doubted that he could do actual damage. This knowledge was the only thing that helped me keep my head clear when, taking refuge on land, Wrath threw at me vicious insults, the likes of which I shall not repeat. These, like everything else he had thrown at me thus far, were a trick, a distraction; they were meant to ensure his escape. Still, if he wanted to get at Elwing, he would have to submerge. A thought struck me: keep him on land. But how?

Suddenly I remembered something Ryu had once told me when I was with Elwing: "Type effectiveness is not the key. If it serves the purpose, use it."

I wanted to hit myself for overlooking the obvious. Of course, I could freeze Wrath in place! I hadn't thought of Ice Beam before because in my mind I was only looking for ways to knock the motion-happy Poliwag unconscious before he caused any harm. With luck, I could turn the battle to my advantage.

When my head broke the surface of the water, the dancing tadpole was still laughing at me. Just as well, because by the time he noticed the swirling white frost that was coming out of my mouth, it had frozen his wet feet to the ground.

Now that Wrath had been temporarily immibilized, I took my time gathering energy for a more powerful attack. Aiming above the ice that imprisoned him, I inhaled deeply, focusing always on Wrath's now not-so-confident face. I unleashed the stinging draconic flame and willed them to torture him as they pleased. To my delight, his delicate skin erupted into boils, his agonized scream pierced the calm air, and I got my satisfaction seeing his hateful face twist in pain.

Unfortunately, I had not aimed well enough, for my Dragonbreath melted the ice encasing the Poliwag's feet. With a squeal, Wrath dove back into the sea. He seemed to have lost all interest in Elwing and was now focused only on getting away. However, he felt a compulsion to fit in his final, vulgar word, which I will retell only because I need a reason to explain my consequently uncharacteristic behavior: "You want to know what happened to Elwing? She came to Night. He humiliated her, and she liked it!"

Wrath was still talking when I lunged for him, but I wouldn't hear any more of it. Fury possessed me, dictated my actions, told me to wrap my tail around his fat body and suffocate him, drag him roughly along the reefs until his skin had been entirely shaved off and I was swimming in a cloud of blood. I would have continued until every ounce of his flesh and bone had been ground to dust, but Elwing stopped me and at once I was ashamed of my actions. What had I done?

I looked at Elwing fearfully, dropping the mutilated, yet still breathing body to the floor. "Elwing, I'm sorry... Please don't be afraid of me."

She looked at me sadly, then swam closer and coiled herself around my body. "Let's go somewhere else." I could still feel her shivering, but her face had lost its pallor, and her body wasn't stiff anymore.

Even so, she felt so fragile around me; I knew that she needed me. "It'll be all right," I told her soothingly, as I swam us both as far away from the blood and horror as possible.

Kalazeth grew to LV14!

"Ryu", the male Vibrava's POV:

The moment I saw that Dragonair, I knew it was he who had hurt her. He who had caused Elwing such despair, he who had tormented her dreams, he who had ruined the innocence in her happy ilfe. It was through practiced restraint that I did not kill him on the spot. Instead, I followed him until it seemed that we were alone and would not be disturbed.

"Who are you?" he asked without turning his head as I began my descent.

I frowned. My injured wing had given me away; on another day he would not have heard me had I not chosen to reveal myself.

Despite many worried pleadings, I did not stay idle while I waited to heal. The Crimson Blade had put a bullet through my wing, not my heart. As long as I was alive, I would continue to train; should I stop for a moment, I feared I would fall out of practice. Just as I had when I was prevented from flying for two days, during which time I'd lost the chance to practice my stealth. Which was why I had inadvertently been detected now.

"I must first ask," I said coldly, controlling the rage in my voice, "Who you think you are, that you have the right to destroy a life of innocence."

"Ah." He flashed me an infuriating smile, "You must know Elwing."

I answered him with silence and a stony glare that eventually made him avert his gaze.

"My name is Night. An echo of a trainer's wish, I'm afraid. I doubt I'll succumb to evolution when the time comes. Being a Dragonair is much too fun." His eyes glittered maliciously. "I get to play more with pretty little things like your Dratini friend."

"You'll wish you never said that," I growled, dashing at him with as much speed as my wings could muster. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Night, who had been prepared for my attack, reacted with a frost beam that pinned me to a tree by my now stinging wings.

"You are brave but foolish," he said. "Never fight with an injury." He observed my twitching body, knowing that the ice was burning through my flesh. Because I couldn't risk further damaging my wings in an attempt to free myself, I would have to wait a long time until the ice melted. Night met my eyes; I could see amusement in his, and a look of scorn. He prepared to leave, but turned back to say a few last words to me, upon a second thought. "And," he added, with a nasty smile, "Never fight me."

He left, snickering, before my Dragonbreath could connect to his already fleeing body.

Aglárien, the female Charmeleon's POV:

Naurmir walked close to me, his small Charmander hands holding my arm as tightly as he was tense. Don't worry, little brother. I'll protect you. I promised the moment we were born, didn't I?

I think that silently Naurmir was wishing that we didn't have to be walking through the forest. Still, he knew it was better than being with the group that remained by the beach; the sea, calm though it was, seemed ominously deceiving.

Ryu, Gwaihir, Elwing, and Kalazeth were to stay where we had first landed. Nimrodel and Mandragora, both not suited to fighting, had offered to swim along the coast to see if they could find anything of interest; they'd be less likely to encounter a battle than if they waited in the same place like the others. As for the rest - me, Naurmir, Switchblade, and Evenstar - Karin accompanied us inland. We braced ourselves for traps and danger.

The reason we'd split into groups was simply this: upon arrival, we noticed that we were completely alone. Because our threat was so great, it would have been better if all the Tamers were united against our enemy. Hence, we needed to search the sea, the coast, and inland, for any sign of friendly trainers.

A sudden snap beside my foot caused me to instinctively grab Naurmir and jump out of the way; the net, knotted to a nearby tree branch, closed full of leaves.

"We got them! We did it, Pimpernel!" A gray-uniformed girl danced in front of us, and then, realizing that none of us were in her crude trap, stopped celebrating. "Oh, no! It's the Crimson Blades! They're still alive!" An irritated moo came from behind the tree, and then, at her trainer's nervous urging, the Miltank emerged from her hiding place.

Karin looked at the Rocket oddly, then shook her head, not amused. "It would do you well not to associate me with those disgusting killers. I want no part of it. I'm not a Blade."

"Oh, no! Then you're a spy, a spy dressed like Team Rocket to spy on us!"

More irritated now, Karin answered, "Do you see me wearing your dirty thieving outfit? I am not a Blade, I am not a spy, and I am certainly not a filthy Rocket. I am a Dragon Tamer, if you must know."

"Oh, no! A Dragon Tamer!" she yelped, with an exaggerated cry. She added in an undertone to her Miltank, "What's that?"

The girl then removed a little booklet from her pocket and began to read aloud. "Let's see... Team Rocket, friend. Crimson Blades, enemy. Spies, enemy. Dragon Tamers... Enemy! Oh, no!"

Karin wasn't the only one annoyed by the little girl's "Oh, no!"s by this point. "Will you shut up and get out of our way already?" I snapped at the Rocket-who-should-not have been. Children being taught to cheat and steal? How desperate had Team Rocket become these days? "You're wasting our time and we've got more important things to do."

The girl stared at me suspiciously. "Oh, no! That Charmeleon's growling at me. Enemy?" She looked questioningly at her Miltank, obviously not going to leave until we made her.

"Yes, yes, enemy!" I answered irritably, hurling a crackling ball of electricity at her and hoping she'd go away. Her Miltank absorbed the blast, unfortunately, leaving the girl and her never-stopping mouth still intact.


Aglárien, LV18 female Charmeleon vs. Pimpernel, LV25 female Miltank

Pimpernel wasted no time, but neither did I. While she induced seismic tremors in the gruond below us, I willed the earth to tear out from underneath me, bearing me into the air. The rocks that emerged from beneath the surface, I rode into Pimpernel, knocking her over to feel the ground tremble before her.

I reacted too slowly after my Ancientpower had levelled the Miltank; with a quick roll, she flattened me under her weight, knowing that if I didn't remedy the situation soon, they would surely snap. But how to get rid of a heavy cow ten times my size?

Understanding that movement was not an option, I turned to the only part of me left that I could control. I was glad that I'd by chance practiced for this moment by playing Ember tag with my twin brother. As I fueled my tail flame, it grew both in size and intensity. I could smell the burnt hairs that the fire had touched, and apparently so, too, could Pimpernel. She howled as she leapt to her feet with agility that was surprising for a Miltank.

I moved out of her range and began my spinning ritual. Already I could feel strength reinforcing my wavering resolve. This power, I felt, was enough to win me the battle against this lumbering beast.

With a war cry, I sidestepped the Miltank's icy assault as I dug into the back of her skull with cold, silvery claws. It occurred to me that her pathetic excuse of a trainer had been very quiet during the course of the battle. Pimpernel must have been a gift from a far more accomplished trainer; the girl's silence was an ignorant one, not an understanding courtesy toward her pokémon. Still, lack of training had made the Miltank rusty.

Pimpernel, running out of options because I evaded all her attacks, lowered her head and attempted to ram me, which turned out to be her worst idea yet. I leapt up onto her head and locked myself around her neck.

"No offense, but you're in our way and we need to hurry," I told her before pounding my fists repeatedly into her head. It didn't take much of this torture for her to sink to the floor in submission.

Aglárien grew to LV20!
Aglárien learned Rage!
Aglárien learned Overheat as her free TM!

Lune, the male Eevee's POV:

"Rúthruin," I cried, my voice now hoarse from my many unanswered calls. "Ruth, please, let me talk to you. I'm sorry..."

As much as I tried, the Scyther was nowhere to be found. I felt like an idiot. How could I have been so tactless? I should have known not to say something so stupid.

I sat defeated in the grass while I started to breathe again. Could she ever forgive me? I didn't want to believe anything else, but she wouldn't even let me see her. She had to be seething.

Rúthruin could have flown anywhere; I needed a better vantage point to find her. Looking up the bank of the tall tree beside me, I searched for the rough areas that would provide footholds and the occasional sturdy branch. This tree seemed simple enough to climb, fortunately for me.

I progressed by placing my feet in my already planned path one by one. Not long after I'd begun my ascent, I reached the leafy region of the tree, where I stopped on a long, steady branch. "Ruth?" I ventured.

No beautiful Scyther, no familiarly comforting voice, no quiet flitter of wings as she hovered nearby. I scolded myself for making such a stupid comment. Why did I have to go and make her angry?

"Ruth, I'm sorry!" But my cry echoed to the trees and did not seem to reach her ears. Miserably, I scanned the surrounding area for any other ways that I might meet her. The branch I sat on led close to another on a nearby tree, which was taller and could allow me to perceive a wider area. Treading carefully, I made my way to the tip to climb onto it and move closer to the base where the branch was thicker. As I shifted on my perch, however, a crack split through the air and I found myself falling while I clasped the broken branch. I released it, brace my legs for impact, and waited.

Rúthruin, the female Scyther's POV:

"Lune? Can you hear me?" The Eevee did not stir. Sighing, I dipped his injured leg in more water to clean his wound. Someone would have to bind it later.

With the back of my scythe I caressed the sleeping Eevee's face. Strands of hair, which I kept telling him were too long, had grown over his eyes. I would give anything for him to be able to joke that they might just turn out useful and he thought he should keep his hair like that. I was already regretting that I'd stormed away from him; I should have known that he'd meant no harm.

The worst part was that I let him suffer. He looked for me but I didn't answer him, and now he wouldn't hear me even if I wanted him to. "Lune, I'm sorry," I whispered in his ear. "Please wake up. I love you."

My POV:

Cradling Ryu in my arms, I sighed as I gently scolded him for taking such poor care of himself. "You know you shouldn't be picking fights. Your wing is just going to take longer to heal, and that's not what you want, is it?"

He was undoubtedly my most powerful and experienced fighter, but he did not seem to understand the dire consequences of mistreating himself when his body needed desperately to heal. If he continued stubbornly with his harsh training routine, he could turn his injury into a lifetime scar; his wing might never be as strong as it once was.

"Elwing..." was his only answer.

At last, I understood. Ryu was not restless enough to risk his injury on a random target, but he had seen the one whom, ever since poor Elwing had been found that day after the assault of the Crimson Blades, he had sworn he would hunt down to the very depths of the earth.

After Aglárien had chased the meddlesome Rocket away, we'd ventured further into the jungle, but found no one. We even came around to the other end of our particular island and met Nimrodel and Mandragora on the way. After the Lapras had borne me back and forth along the coast in that area, I could have sworn that the islands surrounding us didn't look the same twice. Switchblade's question echoed in my head: Why is it called the Shifting Isles?

I'd decided that searching for friendly trainers would be futile. For all we knew, Armand DiAnnio could just be waiting for frustrated Rockets and Tamers to go at each other's throats. Gwaihir moved much too quickly for us to be able to scout by air, so the only thing left for us to do was to go home. What could we do if we found the other Dragon Tamers, anyway? Staff or no staff, I certainly wasn't ready to tackle the Crimson Blade leader and his cruel Salamence, Reaper. Feeling unsatisfied and useless, I'd asked Nimrodel to bring us back to our original landing site.

We'd learned from Gwaihir that Ryu had flown into the trees in pursuit of a Dragonair. Luckily, he hadn't gone too far, and we'd found him in time to give him a little warmth before shock took over his body. He'd suffered from a prolonged Ice Beam, apparently; I was glad that his wings did not seem to have taken more severe damage from the exposure.

When stepped onto the empty sandy beach, wondering where everyone had gone, Gwaihir brought Kalazeth and Elwing back to us. The Dratini seemed shaken, but Kalazeth seemed to have taken good care of her, so I wasn't too worried. It gave me hope to see that maybe he would be able to help her, with time. I couldn't force her to recover from the atrocities that the Dragonair had subjected her to.

"Shall we?" I asked. Gwaihir lowered his wing so I could mount him, and when I was safely on his back, spread himself out to his greatest span and with one swift motion lifted gracefully into the air.

Lune, the male Eevee's POV:

Too dark... couldn't see... but I could hear.

"Lune? Lune, talk to me."

A smile spread across my face and I answered, "Whose is that lovely voice I hear? Is it an angel's?"

Rúthruin laughed and gave me a playful nudge. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm just a plain old Scyther."

"You are my favorite Scyther, and definitely not old or plain," I replied. Finally managing to open my eyes, I gazed into hers happily, hoping that I was not simply dreaming. "I love you so much," I told her. "Ruth, I'm so sorry."

"You shouldn't be sorry for loving me," she teased.

"You know what I meant."

She laughed and answered me with a kiss.









[EDIT]: Whoops, I messed up. Aglárien grew to LV18 in the Battle Tower, so she starts at LV18, and not LV16, in her battle.

Skye
7th August 2005, 06:03 PM
Warning: World's crappiest battle written by yours truely. ._.; Even if it does have a decint twist. thsi is Rayne's RBG against a Ditto I bought a while back.

Finality, part 3

As Darkfire and Ares neared the campsite, they became aware of the sound of fighting. The sun began to increase in brightness the closer they got to the sounds of battle and cries of a wounded Pokemon. It was a confusing thing to hear, for no Pokemon of Darkfire’s would utter such a pained howl as this one did. It sounded suspiciously like and Eevee, yet Kai and Ayende would not fight. Unless they were being tortured, there was no explanation for the howls. The image stuck to Darkfire’s mind, and her stomach clenched at the thought of someone cruel enough to torture a young Pokemon.

<It’s a feminine cry,> observed Ares calmly, <meaning it does not belong to any of my teammates. Whoever it is appears to be receiving a sound beating, though.>

“Thank Gods,” Darkfire sighed. As long as her Pokemon were safe, there was nothing that couldn’t be dealt with. Just as she thought this, she noticed it beginning to rain. “Great,” she scowled at the water she would have to travel in. “Just peachy.”

<It could be worse,> Ares informed his trainer, sensing her reserve towards water.

“How can is POSSIBLY be worse?” Darkfire growled. “It sooo can NOT get any worse. I HATE rain. The falling kind,” she added, knowing her Kabuto, Rayne, would be listening. “I love Kabuto, but I abhor rain.” A sudden flash of light from the camp illumined the forest around them. “… Did I mention I don’t like lightening either?”

<Please explain WHY your surname is “Storm” then.>

“… I wish I knew…?” Darkfire sighed, and looked ahead. A man was running towards them, and a crying winged Dratini was in his grasp. Darkfire grabbed Rayne’s Pokeball out of instinct and held it up warningly. The man balked and stopped.

“Give me back my Pokemon…” Darkfire snarled, her eyes narrowed. This Rocket DARED interfere with her? The Umbreon beside her sighed and gave a shrug of his shoulders.

<I will check on the others,> he offered. Darkfire nodded and the Dark Pokemon darted passed the enemy, heading towards the camp to assess damages.

“I’m getting by, Crimson Blade, and you can’t stop me.” With that, he hurled a Pokeball to the ground, revealing a Ditto. Darkfire couldn’t tell if it was her Ditto or not, but decided it couldn’t be. Hinto would refuse to fight to allow a criminal to escape. She released Rayne and hoped for the best.

Rayne’s fight! Rayne (29) Vs. Ditto (29)

“Go!” Darkfire commanded, confident. Rayne had spared some with Hinto by now, and knew most of the tricks he would expect from a Ditto. He fired off a Confuse Ray to strike his opponent, effectively confusing the pink blob. It shivered as it looked around, at a loss. It then used its attack, Transform, and became the first thing it saw, Darkfire. Rayne stared at the creature it was supposed to be battling, now a human.

“Oh… SHI-” The man cursed. It would take a while for the Ditto to regain its power to transform properly, and until then, it was an exact replica of a human! Darkfire laughed at the ridiculous situation the enemy was in, and Rayne didn’t hold back. He was still battling a Pokemon, albeit a human Pokemon. He summoned an icy sphere between his fore claws and released the Ice Beam with no second thought.

Ditto gave a squeal, much to Darkfire’s horror. The sound was extremely feminine and irritating. “I do NOT squeal!” She shouted at the Ditto, irritated even as Rayne’s attack hit the human and effectively did an enormous amount of damage. The Ditto Darkfire coward back, its confusion cured. It shifted shape once again and became Rayne. The Ditto Rayne now hissed at the real Rayne and fired an Ice Beam, freezing the real Kabuto to the ground.

Rayne needed no instruction as he had been in a similar situation before. His shell and legs shimmered white as they hardened and he slipped out of the ice with ease. He then fired a Mudshot, dealing a heavy blow to the Ditto. Is hissed and backed away, mud in its eyes. Rayne then fired an Aurora Beam, chilling the enemy. Immediately Darkfire was pleased she had gotten the TM for Rayne. The effect of the chilling attack was clear as its movements became labored and slow.

“Finish it,” Darkfire encouraged. Rayne nodded and concentrated, summoning a tidal wave and throwing it into the Ditto. It cried its agony and appeared to disappear under the crushing blue water. Then the liquid finally settled, a defeated pink blob remained, motionless save for its breathing. Rayne smirked slightly to himself as he grew from the battle.

Rayne is victorious! Rayne grew to Level 30 and learned Aerial Ace(free TM)

Darkfire looked up for the man that had Menos, but he was gone. When she and Rayne glanced back to the fallen Ditto, it had vanished as well. Darkfire recalled Rayne and fled back to the camp, her heart in her throat, afraid of what she might find there. Would all of her Pokemon be there? Were they slain for not coming willingly?

She skidded to a stop and slipped on the wet grass, landing unceremoniously on her rear end. Amaris and Naois went to her, looking a bit worn, but otherwise fine. She threw her arms around them, thankful that they were alive and well. Once she had heard the story of what had taken place through Ares, she sighed unhappily. “Well, looks like we’re visiting the Rockets sooner than we had expected to.”

AntiAsh Superstar
8th August 2005, 11:33 AM
Karin: take 30 stamps for your excellent story. I'm finding myself seriously creeped out by Night... but then again isn't that his purpose? Your current plotline surrounding what he did to Elwing is really sad but also really engaging. Keep it up! :)
Darkfire, I'll try to rate yours soon unless somebody else gets to it first.

Aaanyways. Thunderblast RBG 2.

-----
“All I can say is I'm glad you decided to come back and get the rest of us. I don't suppose you thought how you could have ended up leaving me in a real mess, did you?”
“Look, I said I'm sorry, Pandora. I'll give you this batch for free to make up for it, okay?”
“You always give them me for free.”
“Oh. Well. Next time I have to charge you for something you've got credit.”
“Whatever.” This odd little exchange between a most unlikely pairing – Thunderblast, a pokémon never known for her subtlety and Pandora, possibly one of the easiest pokémon in the world to offend, was a result of many things, although mostly it was due to Thunderblast's ability to forge prescriptions and Pandora wishing to be free of her dreams for a while. For the past week or two she had been rather happily consuming tablets that stopped her dreams, all courtesy of one rather unscrupulous and unthinking Raichu. Or rather, unthinking for the most part. “Hey, what's up with you?”
“Just wondering something. Incoming question alert, so either answer it or walk away, I don't really mind.”
“Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to regret hearing you out, Thunderblast?” Pandora rolled her eyes. “Okay. Go ahead. What's your question?”
“Well, it's like this. Don't you worry that you might miss something important while you're covering your dreams up like this?” The odd look that Thunderblast got in response to this question was all the answer she needed. Let's not get into that one now because you're probably right and I don't want to admit it. Mercifully Pandora was a transparent as they came, so much so that even the usually abrupt Thunderblast got enough warning to know when to stop pressing the point. Whether she was any good at dropping the subject, of course, was a different matter. “Never mind, I mean, you must have your reasons, I just don't understand them is all. If you have a power like that why not use it?”
“Okay, I think this might take some explaining since you've quite obviously proven over the time you've spent with us that you have about as much sensitivity as a rock,” the Houndour snapped irritably. “Imagine having 'a power like that', as you so wonderfully put it, okay? And imagine that every time you use this power it's either really jumbled and you spend so much time trying to comprehend it you give yourself headaches for weeks, or really clear and is usually depicting a gruesome death for someone you actually care about so clearly that you wake up screaming and it takes about an hour to stop crying because the memory is so real, so real, and you 're stuck with the certainty that something bad is going to happen and you can't do a damn thing to stop it. Then let's also throw in the fact that over the years you learn that this power isn't showing you what will happen, it's only showing you what might happen and... no. Thunderblast, trust me on this. What I can do is of no use, if I thought it was I would suffer it for the others but it's not. All it does is scare me, so I'm best off without it.”
“But every power must have some use,” the Raichu persisted.
“Yeah. This one does. It's going to drive me to a nervous breakdown,” Pandora sniffed, her emotions starting to clearly get the better of her. She was starting to wish that lightning would strike either herself or her companion, purely to put a premature end to this conversation. “I've already been sectioned once, thanks, it's not something I want to experience again, okay?”
“But...” Before Thunderblast could hope to carry on the Houndour stormed off without so much as a goodbye, leaving her scratching her head. Truth be told, some days everybody else confused Thunderblast every bit as much as she confused them.
“I think you've got a long way to go before you can count yourself as another Pearl,” a voice from behind the Raichu noted. She turned round slowly to see a rather welcome face peering at her with a look that was uncharacteristically serious. Then again, even Kasumi couldn't be silly all the time. “What brought that all on anyways?” The Growlithe hopped over to her girlfriend and nuzzled her. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I... of course! I'm fine!” Thunderblast beamed before her mind finally caught up with the rest of her. If I can't be honest with the pokémon I claim to love who can I be honest with? it seemed to be berating her. She got the hint. “Or maybe not. I don't know. I think I'm getting so distracted by restoring my memory that it's making me even more nosy and generally tactless than ever. I mean, I meant no harm just now, I was just genuinely curious, but... oh well.” The Raichu flapped her front limbs in a gesture of helplessness. “What can you do, eh? I ought to just concentrate on my own feelings for a bit I suppose. Or, failing that, I ought to concentrate on feeling you.” All of a sudden Kasumi's eyes lit up. Not this was the Thunderblast she was used to!
“Oh good,” she commented. “For a minute I thought I was going to have to be serious with you.”
“With me? No chance!” Thunderblast chuckled. “At least, not for any longer than ten seconds.. You ought to know by now I can't really do 'gloomy' even if I wanted to.” In a way this was a lie, the Raichu was as capable of feeling down as the next creature. She just refused to give in to it. “Anyways, what was I saying about feeling you again?”

I had to admit a nice camping trip was long overdue, just me and my pokémon roaming across Ulthuan like we used to. We had taken the excuse of having important Dragons Guild work to do to avoid having to accompany Soo on a trip to see her family, 'important Dragons Guild work' in this case meaning 'a short sabbatical in the general direction of Saphery to shut Thunderblast up'. To be honest it was a refreshing change for most of us; although my Raichu seemed rather pensive everybody else was rather glad of the change of scenery. The large, rolling grassy fields, the crisp, clean air... this was a place far removed from the rocky, mountainous terrain our home realm of Caledor was mostly made of. This was a place of magic. Literally, if the legends surrounding Saphery were anything to go by. For this was supposedly home to the White Tower of Hoeth, an ancient temple to a long-forgotten god that also happened to be the single greatest source of arcane knowledge in the entire world. And our eventual destination.
“Okay, guys, time to call it a day,” I yawned after a considerable few hours making careful but good progress through sunny grasslands, babbling brooks and the occasional patch of rockier terrain. The day hadn't been entirely without incident, of course; even ignoring the fact that this was Ulthuan and potential adventures seemed to occur on a regular basis the conflicts within my team meant that things were rarely quiet for very long. If it wasn't Thunderblast's bluntness upsetting Pandora it was Marius getting into a loud, impassioned debate with Rhiannon about the military. If it wasn't that then it was Milliardo picking a fight with Scratchy for the millionth time. And if none of those things had happened then Beckham usually took it upon himself to fill in the silence with loud and rambling ideas for new inventions that were so ludicrous that everyone stopped listening once he'd explained the problem they were supposed to solve. “I'm knackered.”
“What's wrong, Ade?” Milliardo sneered, evidently feeling like his usual unhelpful self after a few weeks of rest following the unpleasantries of the war against the Crimson Blades. True, there was very little the medics had been able to do for his severed toe, but eventually even he had to grudgingly admit that he was going to have fun showing off all his battle scars sooner or later. “For ^*&$'s sake, if you're going to go around calling yourself Lord Umbreon you really ought to show a little more stamina!”
“Not another word,” I warned my Umbreon. “I say we set up camp for the night. And seeing as the last time I checked I was your trainer rather than the other way around my word is final. Will somebody sort the tent out please?”
“Because Ade here's too inept to do it himself,” Milliardo added, causing me to jokingly make as if to cuff him over the head.
“Hey, I'm on it!” Rhiannon beamed, concentrating very hard on the bags containing the camping equipment. Nothing happened. “Oh this is no good, how am I supposed to do this? It's impossible!”
“Impossible, is it?” Thunderblast pottered over, shaking her head. “No. Fail, you do, because youthink it is impossible. Show you, I will.” Almost instantly the tent seemed to unravel and erect itself.
“Wow!” Rhiannon gushed. “Please teach me how to do that!”
“You can already do that you twat,” Milliardo interrupted. “Seriously, how rehearsed was all of that? And I'd like to point out neither of you got any of the actual words right, I insist you both go apologise to George Lucas for that awful attempt at a spoof.”
“Oh stop being such a spoilsport,” Rhiannon stuck her tongue out at her brother. “At least the tent's up now, right?”
“That's not the point!”
“Guys, somebody mind telling me what the point to this actually is?” I interrupted. “Let's just settle down, get a fire going, get some food cooked and huddle up for the night, okay? Maybe we ought to give some thought to a watch rota, too.” Odd, really, that in this day and age such things were necessarily. But this was Ulthuan. In its more remote parts it really did feel as if you were walking in ancient times of dragons and heroes. Which was all very awe-inspiring and epic during the day but at night tended to inspire nothing more than serious paranoia.
“Ade, you've been playing Dungeons and Dragons too much,” Milliardo scoffed. “Afraid we're going to be ambushed by a band of wandering orcs?”
“Actually I wouldn't be that surprised if we were,” I mused. “But it's actually things like wild Rhyhorns and Gastlies and the inevitable human bandits I'm more concerned about. So... watch rota. How about we take two hour shifts in pairs, huh? Assuming we're going to stop for eight hours or thereabouts that's four watches.”
“I can take the first watch with somebody if you desire,” Marius shrugged. “My internal clock flatly refuses to adjust from life back at home so it's highly improbable that I'm going to be tired much before 2am anyway.”
“I'll go with you then,” Pandora commented. “Just to make sure you actually try to sleep when your watch has finished.”
“I'm quite happy to spread myself over the middle two watches,” Bolovayr commented. “Now that I'm used to keeping nocturnal hours and everything, you know.”
“I guess I can join you there,” Rhiannon grinned. “In case nobody noticed, I don't actually need that much sleep anyways.”
“That leave the last watch, and I can do that,” Thunderblast beamed. “And I could do that on my own if need be, but actually I'd rather like to rope Milliardo into this one with me, partly because I need to pick his brains about all things sneaky and partly because he's a lazy sod and could do with an early morning for once.”
“I love it when people talk about me like I wasn't here,” Milliardo grumbled. “Do I not even get a say in the matter?”
“No,” came the succinct reply. “You don't. Now what's for dinner?” And that, it seemed, was final.

The first few watches passed without much incident. Although Marius and Pandora were quite a noisy pairing – Marius tended not to keep quiet when he had an opportunity for conversation and Pandora kept waking everyone up by yelling at him to shut up for ten seconds – Bolovayr and Rhiannon were practically silent, both content to stare off into the surrounding plains and contemplate life. And although there did appear to be signs of a rampaging Nidoking at one point the pokémon seemed to vanish just as quickly as it appeared, seeming to fall down a pit of some sort.
“It must have just been your over-active imagination, Bolovayr,” Rhiannon had commented when questioned about the apparation. “Besides, even if it had existed and fallen down a pit we're sure it landed somewhere quite safe.” She also added, “And about fifty miles from here as well.” But only after the Gastly was out of earshot. And then it was the turn of Thunderblast and Milliardo.

“So what was it you were so insistent about dragging me up at five in the morning for anyway?” Milliardo yawned after a great deal of prodding, pushing and being jumped upon that hadn't exactly resulted in the best of starts to two whole hours of each other's company. But for some odd reason no matter how many dirty looks the two pokémon could throw at each other things never seemed to get out of hand between them. Probably because neither really minded the other's company as much as they pretended to. “And before you say 'cherries' or some other totally banal thing may I remind you that I'm just as deadly as I've ever been.”
“What, not at all?” Thunderblast shot back, her mouth working before her brain had realised that a verbal spar with Milliardo was something that not even her weird powers could help her triumph in. “Er... never mind. You're good at sneaking into places where you're not supposed to be, right?”
“But of course,” the Umbreon sneered. “Although, you know, that might just be because weird Umbreon physics mean that I'm automatically going to be in any place or any situation that I'm forbidden from as a matter of course.”
“Mock my power and feel my wrath, Milly boy!” Thunderblast almost shouted before remembering that she was, in fact, not Kassandra. “But you are pretty good at getting into places, yes?”
“Uh... yes. What the %*^& is this leading up to anyway?”
“Well,” Thunderblast began, “Let's suppose that I had very important business in a very important place that I don't think lets visitors in just for the hell of it. Then let's suppose this place was probably kind of magically guarded and I hadn't a clue what I was supposed to do to get it. And let's add the fact that it's been said nobody's set foot in that place for years, and even then the last time was a state of dire emergency. What would you suggest I do?”
“Good God, Thunderblast, you really must be desperate if you're asking for help!” Milliardo smirked. “But man, you sure like to think big, don't you? I mean, trying to sneak into the Tower of Hoeth and all...”
“How do you know about that?”
“Oh come on, you have us wandering to Saphery and then start carping on about sneaking into a place that's magically guarded... it's hardly rocket science, I bet even Becks could figure it out.”
“Fine. If you're so smart then what would you suggest?”
“What I'd suggest...” Milliardo stared at Thunderblast for a moment. All of a sudden he realised that this wasn't just another of her random whims. This actually meant something to the Raichu. “Fine. Want me to actually be serious for once? I reckon with a place that mystical you can do worse than just going up and knocking on the door. If it contains things you're meant to see it'll probably just open up straight away.”
“Hmm... that does sort of make sense, actually. Thanks, Milliardo. You're not as stupid as you look!”
“True. I look bloody smart when in actual fact I'm an absolute genius,” the Umbreon beamed, too used to this sort of banter these days to let it annoy him. “Now how about we do something else smart and keep watch like we're supposed to? I know it's probably a waste of time but... well, it's gotta be better than having to stare at your ugly mug for the next hour and a half!” The remark earned Milliardo a sharp cuff over the head but he reckoned it was worth it. After all, getting on everyone else's nerves was never going to get old, no matter how grave the time happened to be.

Morning was an unusually quiet affair. Thunderblast had been quiet ever since the start of the day, which meant that one of the two most rowdy pokémon in Ulthuan was out of action. The other, Milliardo, was finding it very hard to make enough noise for the both of them although he seemed to be giving it his very best shot. The day started off hassle-free enough. Everyone woke up to a remarkably well-prepared breakfast, Sindel's culinary skills even allowing the Alakazam to cook up a quite delicious feast only using a little gas stove and a years-old picnic set.
“So,” I mused in between mouthfuls of vegetarian sausage, “We're in Saphery, right? So where do you suppose we find this Tower of Hoeth, anyway? I mean, if it's as big as legend says then we ought to be able to at least make it out from miles away!”
“Ah,” Bolovayr commented, “it's in the nature of these things that they find you rather than the other way around.”
“You're weird,” Milliardo commented. “No fantasy novels for you in future, you're banned.”
“We're not so sure,” Rhiannon commented suddenly. “He actually does have a point, in fact it rather confirms something that we've been suspecting ever since we set upon this journey.” All eyes were now fixed upon the Jolteon. “There has been a certain... aura... hovering around you for a while now, Thunderblast... and before you comment it has nothing to do with 'weird Raichu physics'.” The way Rhiannon said it indicated that she cared little for what was pretty much Thunderblast's catchphrase. “There is a presence watching you and we suspect that what Bolovayr mentions in his ignorance may actually turn out to be the truth.”
“What?” Milliardo scoffed. “You're trying to say that this tower's just watching us and seeing if it's safe to show its face? You're banned from fantasy novels too, Rhi.”
“Sadly we live in a realm that may as well be from the pages of a fantasy novel, Milliardo,” the Jolteon replied coolly. “Have you not seen enough by now to know to suspend your disbelief occasionally?” Finally she returned her attentions to the subject at hand. “The Tower of Hoeth... we've been watching Ade compile some of the data the Guild has on that and it's enough to make us suspect that... well, the reason that you can't see it right now is simply because it can only be found when it wants to be found.”
“Say what?” Milliardo spluttered, his cynical outlook on life making it impossible for him to hear this with a straight face. Thunderblast, on the other hand, seemed to accept this without question.
“So how would I go about making it want to be found then?” she asked Rhiannon, her tone serious.
“We're not entirely sure...” Rhiannon mused, pacing restlessly. “Forgive us for the abrupt psychology here, but you never really struck us as being the sort who was open about their true motives, in fact we always rather assumed you're not nearly as mad as you make out that you are.”
“Geez,” Thunderblast winced. “All of a sudden I can see the family resemblance between you and Milliardo. But go on, anyway.”
“Well,” Rhiannon continued, “maybe you cover up your real intentions too well. If you really need to get into the Tower then maybe you just need to let it know that.”
“What, so I shout 'oy, tower, I need to get inside you!' then?” Coming from anyone else that would have been sarcasm of the highest degree. Only Thunderblast, however, could manage to ask the question in genuine curiosity. “I'm guessing that isn't quite it, right?”
“Correct,” Rhiannon nodded. “You need to open up your feelings... your true, most well-concealed feelings, that is. You need to finally be honest with yourself. And then maybe you will find what you seek.”
“Nice philosophising, Rhi!” Thunderblast cooed appreciatively. “You win a prize for deep thinking. Right then...” For some reason the Raichu didn't doubt her friend's wisdom in the slightest. So she for once looked deep inside herself, looking for the real reason she wanted to get to the Tower. Well, that wasn't exactly hard. She needed to fill in the gaps in her memory and had been told that the answers to pretty much any question you could hope to ask were contained within this fabled shrine to the ancient elven god of wisdom. Although... maybe the question she needed to work on was why she needed to know the answers she was seeking in the first place. It had to go beyond 'it bugs me' logically. She frowned slightly, running this over and over again in her mind. True, it did bug her but... well, she didn't like the not knowing. There was this whole chunk of her memory that she wasn't in control of, and the sooner she could access it the better. For she needed to have a complete picture of what happened. She needed to be in control, and how was she supposed to manage that if she had little idea of her own history? The sheer frustration, the sheer anger caused by the whole situation... it was irrational and it was probably stupid but it was going to tear her up inside if she didn't find her answers. So why were they being so hard to find? Why could she just not get the facts told to her straight?

“Oh my God.” Milliardo's voice snapped Thunderblast out of a rather uncharacteristic depression. The Raichu looked up to witness a sight that had left almost all of her teammates speechless. It started off as hardly perceivable, just a slight ripple in the air that was easily overlooked by all bar the most observant of creatures. But then it became less subtle. It was if the very fabric of reality was being altered somehow, what had initially been crisp, clean air changing its substance into something more solid right before our eyes. Into a huge, bizarrely decorated cylindrical tower made of snow-white marble, every floor decorated with odd glyphs and runes and carvings and every window reflecting only the darkest black. At the front of this tower stood a set of metallic double doors decorated in gold and red, their sheer size being more than enough to admit even Brandy. “Just when I think life can't possibly get any more surreal something like this comes along and proves me wrong.”
“Actually that's exactly how the White Tower of Hoeth works,” a familiar and yet unfamiliar voice commented. All eyes turned to see that somehow, without anybody even noticing, a petite Eevee with a bright red ruff had inserted itself smartly into the middle of the group. “The first defence against random raiders just so happens to be the fact that nobody without a genuine reason for wanting to find it can actually see the thing. Still, hats off to you all, I would have sworn it would have taken you a few more hours than that to figure it out.”
“And good afternoon to you too, Enigma,” Rhiannon snorted, clearly unimpressed with the new arrival. “May we ask what business Lord Absol's favourite pet has here?”
“You think I'm his favourite? Gosh.” The Eevee blushed slightly. “Actually as it happens I'm here because of you, Rhiannon.”
“Why? Did the Order of the Dragon not pardon us?”
“Oh yes, but it also acknowedges the fact that you're... well, how can I put this... a walking magnet for the sorts of ghouls and goblins we exist to eliminate. If you must know I'm supposed to stick to you like glue until the magical disturbances caused by Reaper a few weeks ago calm down again. And...” Here Enigma beamed broadly. “Well, I'm a little awestruck by my own brilliance, really. You didn't even notice I was watching you until now. I'm evidently a better spy than I thought.”
“And if we recall correctly your initial appraisal of your skills was that you were the best spy in all of Ulthuan.”
“Was it? Oh dear, well, better scratch that one, then. Make that the best damn spy in the entire universe!” Enigma grinned. “Come on, I've been stalking one of the greatest remaining magic users in Ulthuan for two whole weeks and only got noticed when I wanted to be noticed, am I awesome or what?”
“Is there a point to this or can we get on with what we were doing?” Thunderblast interrupted irritably. “If I want to hear somebody go on for hours and hours about how great they are I can always strike up a conversation with Milliardo.”
“Well I just thought I'd offer my expert opinion on how to get inside if you happen to be interested,” the Eevee smirked. "After all, you guys helped us out a lot with the Crimson Blades, it only seems fair to repay the favour somehow."
"I'm listening," Thunderblast commented coolly. It was fair to say that nobody really trusted Enigma that much. She, like her equally mysterious master, tended to know too much about everybody else and give precious little information in return. In some ways she was even more disturbing as she seemed to make a game out of telling people as little as she possibly could. It made her occasional moments of helpfulness all the more baffling.
"It's really quite straightforward," Enigma smiled darkly, her voice a near-whisper. "You see, you must approach the tower directly from the front. Go straight up to the door. Then, as you look up you'll see a stone griffon's head."
"And then?"
"Nothing, but everyone seems to miss it and it's a shame because it's a quite remarkable piece of artwork. Anyway, you're at the door. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and…"
"Yes?"
"And… knock on the door and they'll let you in." Enigma grinned brightly, oblivious to the sounds of fifteen pokémon and one human trying very hard to refrain from throttling her. "What, you thought you'd have to recite a magic password or something? The very fact that you can see the tower at all means that you're expected."
"Gee, thanks for the help," Thunderblast stormed towards the gleaming white tower, taking great care to smack Enigma over the head as she went past. Once at its foot she stared upwards, taking in the sheer enormity of the structure. At least the Eevee had been right about it being a quite remarkable piece of artwork! The entire structure was covered in mosaics and sculptures and mystical runes, every creature in both the real and fantastical worlds staring out at her from some point on its marble walls. It should have looked cluttered, really. But it didn't. Instead the effect was absolutely breathtaking. Any other pokémon would have been entranced for days picking out the minute detail all over the tower; Thunderblast, rather mercifully, had only room in her head for one obsession at a time and right now that was rediscovering her past. "Okay, so I just knock do I? Here goes then…" Gingerly the Raichu rapped on the red wooden door and took a step back. For a moment nothing seemed to happen. And then with a deafening rumble the huge doors began to open outwards, leading to an unlit marbled hallway lined with Roman-style pillars. Otherwise it seemed totally empty. Aside from, of course, the pokémon in the middle of the hallway, it's form glowing slightly with an unnatural energy.
"Er… hi," Thunderblast waved at this new apparition. "Are you the welcoming party?"
"YE WHO SEEK THE WISDOM OF THE ANCIENTS MUST FIRST PROVE THYSELF," the creature boomed. It was an odd-looking being, this, a rather thin, wiry, humanoid creature that to Thunderblast looked as if it were wearing the world's baggiest pants. Of course it wasn't, it was just the shape of any Medicham, but that was how it appeared to the rather odd mind of the world's only naturally psychic Raichu. "DEFEAT ME IN BATTLE OR YE SHALL GO NO FURTHER."
"Say what?" Thunderblast looked stunned for all of one millisecond before almost automatically taking up a fighting pose. "Well, if that's how it works, chump, bring it on!"

"Whoops!" Enigma commended from a distance as everybody else watched the scene in front of them unfold with baited breath.
"Whoops what?" Milliardo asked.
"Whoops, I completely forgot to warn her about the entry trial." Enigma looked rather sheepish although everyone else was getting the distinct impression that she was finding this all rather funny. "No matter, she's a good fighter, she'll be fine against whatever pokémon the foyer's magic summons to attack her. Unless it decides to summon an Entei or something, but to be honest the last recorded time that happened was over two hundred years ago."
"And you call this helping her?" the Umbreon practically yelled at her. "Gee, I'd really hate to see what happens to the people you go out of your way to hinder!"
"Actually most of them are still receiving counseling if you must know," Enigma grinned. "Relax. She'll deal with this and then you can all get a rare glimpse into the biggest source of knowledge in the any universe you happen to mention. Just you wait and see."

FIGHT!!! L45 Raichu v L45 Medicham!

Thunderblast circled her opponent warily. She was too much of an old hand at these things to just rush in against an opponent who was glowing with a mystical light. Better to stay of the defensive for a while. However it seemed as if her opponent was using the exact same strategy. It simply stood watching, waiting, ready to spring if she tried anything. For a moment the Raichu was a little thrown. And then she noticed what her opponent was actually doing. Even as it stood there it was inflating itself somehow, its initially weedy body no longer looking that frail. It was using the most subtle Bulk Up attack she had ever seen.
"Oh no, we're not having that!" she cried, her cheeks sparking as she let out an almost invisible wave of electrical energy in the direction of her opponent. It stopped the pokémon in its tracks, allowing Thunderblast an opportunity to attack. Quickly she launched herself at the Medicham, hoping to strike it with a Quick Attack whilst her earlier Thunder Wave was still distracting it. Sadly this didn't seem to work as well as she had hoped. With remarkable speed for a creature who had just been semi-paralysed the Medicham grabbed Thunderblast as she drew near and slammed her to the floor with a terribly painful judo style throw. It quickly tried to follow this up with a stomp to her head but the Raichu rolled out of the way and into an upright position just in time. She frowned. This was going to be harder than it first seemed!

Thinking quickly the Raichu dodged an attempt at a hard kick that would have almost surely knocked her out had it connected, showering her opponent with thousands of tiny, star-like sparks as she did so. The attack only seemed to enrage the Medicham, however, for almost instantly it was upon her, lashing out with a ferocious Fire Punch that caught the Raichu straight in the side. She would have cried out in pain had she been anybody else. But she was Thunderblast. She didn't do 'crying out in pain'. Even when she had just been struck with a vicious blow that left a horrible burning sensation on her side.
"Dammit…" Again the Medicham tried to attack and this time Thunderblast was forced to throw everything she had at the dual-type pokémon. She struck ferociously with all the power her psychic powers could afford her, concentrating all her will into throwing the intense creature as far away from her as she could. The trick worked admirably. The Medicham was thrown the entire way across the room, its journey only stopped by one of the many decorative pillars as it collided with the stone surface with a loud thud. "That's more like it!" It wasn't long before the strange pokémon was back up and racing towards the Raichu, of course, and she hadn't expected anything less. But she had bought herself enough time to concentrate a little of her powers on the task of repairing her injury.
"THOU SHALT NOT PASS THIS POINT!" the Medicham boomed. As it did so it cupped its hands together and fired an icy blast of energy at Thunderblast. She was caught full-on.
"I'm getting really sick of you, you know," the Raichu winced. It wasn't as even the ice had helped her burn at all! That was still slowly but surely providing its distraction. And now she knew that her opponent seemed to have an Ice Hidden Power as well as its rather disturbing fighting abilities. Things didn't look too good. "You're a real master of the temperature aren't you?" Quickly she dodged another attempt at a Fire Punch that was clearly designed to improve her symmetry by giving her an identical burn on her uninjured side. "Well I think it about time I cooled you off a little!" The Raichu grinned suddenly. "Hey, now how comic book was that line?"
"THOU SHALT CEASE!" the enraged Medicham continued, attempting to vary things a little with another kick that rather rapid use of Protect managed to avoid.
"Thou shalt piss off!" Thunderblast retorted, using her remarkably odd powers to seemingly summon a huge wall of water from nowhere. She kept it hovering upright for a few seconds, commenting, "I guess the best way to ease a burn is to run it under cold water, right?" before allowing it to come crashing down upon both their heads. The Raichu was braced for it, in fact she found the whole process rather invigorating, but her opponent wasn't nearly as lucky. The sudden wave caught it and sent it crashing into the selfsame pillar that the Medicham had been thrown into just seconds ago. This time it took twice as long to pick itself up again.
"Thou… shalt… not…" it moaned.
"Oh but I shall," came the wicked response. Suddenly the Medicham was lifted up and into the air by unseen hands. "Seeing as you like that pillar so much and all…" For a third time the pokémon crashed straight into the stone surface that was by now beginning to crumble a little from all the collisions. This third time was simply too much for Thunderblast's strange opponent. With a low moan it fell to the floor in a heap, its body fading into nothingness even as it did so. Thunderblast was simply too tired to even question this strange phenomena, however. She just slumped to one side, exhausted. Some days even weird psychic powers couldn't make life easier for you.

Thunderblast wins!
Thunderblast grew to L46!

For a few brief minutes Thunderblast just lay there, half asleep, until the sound of approaching footsteps caused her to snap into semi-alertness again.
"I apologise with all my heart for the distress the entrance trial may have caused." The Raichu looked up into the face of a clearly aging man, his hair long, soft and silver coloured and framing a remarkably delicate face – slender nose, high cheekbones, thin lips and narrow eyebrows above a pair of slightly oriental-looking amber-coloured eyes. He was dressed in long, ornate silver and white robes that fell down to his ankles, the edges inscribed with obscure runes that probably meant something to someone like Rhiannon who was well-versed in magic, but to Thunderblast just appeared like a bunch of squiggles. "Here. Let me help you." Here he placed a thin, long-fingered hand upon the burn on Thunderblast's side and closed his eyes. "Envinyata cala valasse!" the man whispered. A faint glow emanated from the palm of his hand and when he withdrew it the burn was completely gone. "Come now." Here he got to his feet with the aid of a large and ornate staff that looked as if it was hundreds of years old. "Rise. And you all over there!" Here he shouted to the rest of us who were all stood gawping just inside the doorway. "Please come in! It's been quite a while since I last had any guests worthy of entertaining." Cautiously we all made our way inside, even Brandy. "Now then. It's a great honour to have a team that was so helpful in the war against the Crimson Blades visiting. Please come this way, I daresay you are all weary from your journey. It's nothing that some good wine and a sit down won't fix." Suddenly his eyes rested upon Enigma. "Ah! Enigma, a pleasure to see you again! What brings you here?"
"I was following this lot to make sure they didn't get lost or something," the Eevee lied. It was quite obvious that the silver-haired man didn't quite believe her but he chose not to press the point.
"Ah well. Please pass on to your master my deepest thanks for the latest shipment of wines." Here he looked pained. "Unfortunately a decent vineyard is the one thing this tower lacks. But come, where are my manners? I haven't even introduced myself yet. My name is Teclis, High Priest of Hoeth and guardian of this tower."
"Eh?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing! "You're the Teclis? But I thought… the records we have of you, they…"
"Have me looking older?" Teclis laughed. It was an uplifting, almost musical sound. "My dear fellow, did it not occur to you that, given the illusionary nature of this tower, I might not think to have one or two minor cantrips cast upon myself? It is well, sometimes, to just let others see what they wish to see as opposed to what they ought to."
"So are we just seeing what we want to see?" I asked.
"No, this is me exactly the way I ought to be."
"Hey, just how old are you anyway?" Thunderblast randomly asked, causing Teclis to laugh once again.
"Myself? I really couldn't say for sure, I rather lost count after about two hundred. I used to tell by the number of parties I'd had to celebrate my birthday in the past but since the Sundering there's hardly been anybody to celebrate with." For a moment a twinge of sadness crossed his orange eyes. "But come! We have plenty of time to chit-chat. Follow me, all of you. I must insist that you sample my hospitality before we get down to business." We all meekly followed this strange person. He was the sort who it was almost impossible to disagree with. And besides, this was the legendary Teclis! If it meant learning a little more about this enigmatic figure then I for one was willing to go along with just about anything. And as for Thunderblast's answers… well, surely he must have had them somewhere, right?

-----

Okies, can I give her a third RBG from the Electric Shutdown System please? *pays 7 stamps*

Wolfsong
9th August 2005, 09:30 PM
Sorry i've been busy lately x.X its like i suddenly have a life where i haven't had one before and add to that trying to catch up on writin . I'll try and rate a story soon if i'm not beaten to it.

My apologies abotu it taking a while ot even post this ^^; Anyways, she will be battling a Jolteon. Have fun ^^

classy_cat18
10th August 2005, 07:48 AM
I would like an extension to this scenario, please. I don't have Internet access at home plus I have writer's block.

Skye
10th August 2005, 10:30 AM
While my last RBG is being rated, I'll take a new one for Rayne, my Kabuto, from the Universal Adoption Center, please. *pays 7 Stamps*

Charizard04621
10th August 2005, 10:43 AM
Thanks, Ade. I've been rating Darkfire's stories to this particular scenario, so I can take that one... I'll try to read your story but I must say I've just established a wireless connection and as I type I'm in my college room with boxes all over. ^_^;; Yeah, so I'll get Darkfire's, do some unpacking, and see if I can read yours before I leave for fish camp. It's possible, but if anyone else wants to rate it (Amy or Gabi) go right ahead. I read and rate all in one shot so if there's no rating, I haven't read yet.

Darkfire, Rayne will battle a Poochyena.

Shonta, you can have your extension.

[EDIT]: Darkfire, take 2 stamps for the battle. The beginning was pretty funny, but the thing as a whole was rushed and seems to have been done for the level and free TM more than anything else. ^_^; Don't worry, I did that once for Ryu to prime him for evolution during the Unicorn Games tournament, so I understand why you're in such a hurry.

Lady Vulpix
11th August 2005, 04:07 AM
Sure, go ahead and post all those certainly great stories when I can't read them. :(

I'll return home tomorrow. I'll have a lot of trouble catching up because I want to read all the stories, though it will be a relief if I don't have to rate them. It's easier to read than to rate. *Sighs.* I hope I had the time. If only I could print them and read them on the plane, but I wouldn't do something as selfish as using Kirsi's printer while she's away. I'll try to catch up next week.

Charizard04621
11th August 2005, 12:13 PM
Yay, you'll be back soon! ^_^

Ade, I;m still unpacking >_<;;; Yeah, and tomorrow I've gotta go to fish camp for 3 days, so I won't be able to read your story until after then. If anyone wants to rate it before, go ahead, but otherwise I'm sorry I'm gonna have to make you wait for a few days =/

Wolfsong
11th August 2005, 12:28 PM
*Prints out Ades story* I'll try and rate it but if gabi beats me to rating it, its fine with me.

In the meantime, i'm trying to catch up on ac stories now and i mgiht as well throw one more into the mix I'd like one rbg for Blazer please from the Free Range Corral *pays*

Edit: changed location and changed it to a one on one

Charizard04621
11th August 2005, 05:31 PM
^_^; Blazer will battle a Smeargle. And fish camp is freshman camp for college students :)

AntiAsh Superstar
12th August 2005, 04:59 AM
Oh you guys are going to just love me... my next RBG is finished already. Blame the fact that I've nothing to do at work atm. @.@ It follows on from the last one and explains quite a lot that may have confused people in that.

-----
It was a truly odd sensation, that was for sure. To be sat inside an ancient, tower-like temple surrounded by pokémon and fine art whilst a person probably as old as the temple itself poured wine into a crystal and gold goblet and placed it in my hand.
"Come now, let us relax for a while. It's almost unheard of for me to have visitors worthy of entering the Tower of Hoeth in times of peace." Teclis, rumoured to be the greatest sage of the age smiled at me and my team with narrow yet somehow rather friendly lips. "We have plenty of time, after all." I didn't respond. I was too busy staring about the room with awe. The innards of the Tower of Hoeth came across as a strange hybrid of classical Roman architecture and Renaissance-era art. It was all very impressive – huge, luxurious couches lined the wall, trimmed in red, various remarkable paintings were displayed proudly in prominent positions, their subjects invariably epic, fantastic scenes of heroes and monsters… the place where the sage had eventually led us to even possessed a fountain in the middle of its clear marble walls. It was a very, very beautiful place but not really somewhere a normal human would have found comfortable living in. It was all just too grand. But then again, the little I knew about Teclis never left me with the impression that he was going to be normal. Or, indeed, human. The fact that the tops of his ears seemed decidedly pointed wasn't lost on me. "Drink up, friend. The wine is of a quite excellent vintage. In fact, all of my wines are. I always maintained that to drink cheap wine should be considered a sin."
"Er… yeah." Idly I wondered how many times that meant I must have sinned over the past few years according to the tenets of Teclis. Cautiously I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised to find a rich, full-bodied, fruity red that tasted quite unlike any other wine I had ever sampled. And believe me, I had sampled a lot of wine in my time. My next sip was with a great deal more enthusiasm. "I have to admit that this isn't quite what I had been expecting."
"Oh, it's not always been like this, but once you get to a certain age you feel no shame in wanting to live life as comfortably as you can." Teclis smiled.
"Excuse me but would sir mind sharing his astounding wine buying tips with us lowly mortals?" Beckham suddenly interrupted after having grabbed my glass out of my hands and sampled the wine himself. "Because if you can get wine this good then… then… well, I don't know what was supposed to follow 'then' but it was obviously something grave and important," the Wartortle wittered on oblivious to all standard protocols when meeting a being whose life had spanned several generations.
"Sadly my wine largely comes from vineyards on land owned by the Order of the Dragon," Teclis explained bemusedly. "It's a fair trade. They often request information and all I ask are a few crates of fine wine every now and then, especially seeing as one piece of information they obtained from me just so happened to be long-lost elven grape-growing techniques. However, young Wartortle…" Here he threw Beckham a small flask. "You may find that a more satisfactory 'pink stuff' than food dye and cream liqueur. Perhaps later while we're passing through the library I may find the recipe for you." Teclis lay back on a large plush sofa that he practically sank into. "Well then, I suppose we ought to talk business, no? What brings you to the Tower of Hoeth… or rather, what brings the Tower of Hoeth to you?"
"Hey, I thought you might have already known that if you're such a great keeper of knowledge!" Thunderblast complained, rather reluctant to explain in front of everybody.
"Indeed." Teclis nodded. "And small surprise that you come to me for your answers. After all, I was there when Mewtwo was finally sealed away from Ulthuan. I had plenty of time to analyse and understand his behaviour."
"Well then?"
"All in good time," Teclis smiled benignly. "Right now you all look like you could do with a little more rest." Nobody was particularly arguing with that, especially when the surroundings were so comfortable! "More wine?" To my great shame I had already finished my glass without even realizing it.
"Er… I'd better not," I muttered even though my mind was screaming a big, resounding 'YES!!!!'. Unfortunately (or rather, very fortunately indeed) my host saw through this in seconds and topped my glass up without a word.
"Humans are a contradictory bunch, I find," the sage commented as he poured. "They make a great habit of saying 'no' when they mean 'yes'. It's quite baffling. There is no need to be like that around me, however. You will find that I'm no real stranger to indulgence myself so I can hardly berate others for it. Why, more often than not I encourage it!"
"You seem to know this guy," Milliardo whispered to Enigma at this point whilst everybody else carried on oblivious. "Is he always this… weird?"
"He used to be a lot more solemn," the mutant Eevee replied. "But back then he was making quite an effort to appear human. It's very hard for someone whose very genetics lean towards the grandiose to get an act like that quite right. Right now I'd say he's acting curiously to type in some regards when you consider the fact that he's one of the last High Elves in Ulthuan and all and believe me, they always tended to live life to the full."
"Aren't most elves in stories supposed to be kinda… I dunno… more aloof than this?" Kasumi joined in the whispered conversation.
"Most were as far as I know," Enigma replied. "But then again, most hadn't spend the better part of three centuries with only books and the occasional visit from my master for company." Here the Eevee sighed wearily. "I really do wish Teclis would just get out more."
"Come now!" Teclis interrupted so loudly that it made the pokémon jump. "I suggest we actually press on. Making a quick detour first, of course. Now that you're here I daresay you'd all like to take a peek inside the library, and who am I to stop you? Although a peek is all I'm giving you, of course. Some things in there are not for the eyes of the common man."
"I understand," I nodded solemnly. I was being granted a great honour here. To look upon the library of the Tower of Hoeth! Most would have killed for such a boon. And I wasn't about to take the offer lightly. "I much appreciate the offer, Teclis."

Any kind of expectation I may have had about how the great library may have looked was totally and utterly eclipsed by the reality of the place. Huge rows of books, scrolls and journals stretched out in all directions for as far as the eye could see. It was almost as if the room seemed infinite large; and even so every bit of available space seemed to be being used.
"Whoa." I gasped.
"Impressive, isn't it?" Teclis smiled. "We ought to press on now before you start thinking too much about the proportions of that room." Here he quickly shut the gilded door that led to the library and locked it smartly.
"How much information is contained within there?" Marius finally piped up after a good few moments spent with his jaw hanging open. It was blatantly obvious that the young Dratini was just itching to go inside.
"More than even a particularly long-lived Dragon pokémon could hope to absorb in a lifetime," the sage replied calmly, having quite evidently noticed the Dratini's interest as well. "Every publication that ever was and a few that weren't as well is contained within that room. Only one of my kind could hope to enter and not be absorbed by the sheer volume of knowledge possessed in this temple, and even then they would have to have a very specific idea of what they were looking for in order to make any use of it. If you were to go inside we would lose you, it's quite as simple as that. Which is why I only allow a ten-second peek and nothing more. Now come along, we have more pressing matters to attend to." Here the group walked along brightly-lit marbled corridors flanked with stained glass windows depicting various scenes from mythology. One in particular caught my eye, a scene of a tall, lithe man in golden armour and carrying a matching sword riding upon a green and beige dragon.
"Is that…" I began.
"Dragon Prince Caledor Dragontamer, yes," Teclis nodded. "For a relative newcomer to Ulthuan you seem remarkably well-versed in its history, I must say. But yes, this is the one whom the province you live in was named after, the great elven war hero who kept peace in this realm for centuries."
"Is it true that…"
"It's all true. Our history contains no falsehoods. We do not allow it." For a few more moments our group carried on in silence and up a long, spiral staircase every bit as bright and as extravagant as the rest of the tower. Eventually Teclis spoke again. "So then, to the matter at hand."
"Finally!" Thunderblast blurted out, pushing her way to the front of the group. "So what do you know about the whole Mewtwo thing anyway?"
"Mewtwo… he was a creature of contrasts, for sure. An artificial being created in a laboratory who poassessed such remarkable rage… there is a reason, Thunderblast, that others should not attempt to do the work of the gods and that is that imperfect beings cannot hope to get such complex matters right!" For a moment Teclis seemed angry but he swiftly brushed a long strand of silver hair from his delicate face and calmed down again. "My apologies. The whole project was destined to fail, though. You can't give a man-made creature self-awareness without suffering the consequences. In this case it was that Mewtwo lacked purpose. He had been created purely to see whether he could be created. And he resented the world for that. He built up his anger and his hatred until he felt that the whole world was against him. And then he attacked. Nobody was really sure how or why he first came to the decision to strike Ulthuan in an attempt to prove his superiority to the humans who had created him. Not even I can hope to understand. But strike he did. And he struck hard, bringing a large army of pokémon with him to crush the humans he believed were suppressing them all."
"Was that what I was being trained for? To join his army?"
"More than likely, although before we get on to your specific case it may be an idea to hear the more generic tale. This army was large, consisting both of pokémon from Ulthuan that he had bullied or persuaded into joining his cause and of clones of those who had refused to ally themselves with him."
"Clones?"
"Yes. Before leaving the laboratories he was created in Mewtwo made sure to ransack them as fully as he could. As far as I know some of the equipment is still in use by Team Rocket for their enhancement programme. But I digress. Mewtwo formed his army and attacked. And obviously the trainers of Ulthuan fought back as best they could, but back then it was hard. The Dragon Tamers were still in their infancy, and the rogue trainers of Ulthuan weren't united under one banner as your own section of the Dragon's Guild and the Mercenary Trainer's Union unites them now. It was a long and hard struggle until finally your Dragon Master at the time, Scott McHenry, plus a few others came up with a plan. He lured Mewtwo here, knowing full well that this temple is possibly one of the most magical spots in the realm and that if there was any place to halt such a malicious creature that this would be it. Well, it worked, with my help, of course. Between us we managed to seal Mewtwo away and banish him to a place where he could no longer bother us." The elf didn't seem quite as proud of this accomplishment as he ought to have done, and it showed. "Without him it was a small matter to dissolve what remained of his army. And then we were finally free."
"This is all a very nice story and all but what about the bits that relate to me?" Thunderblast complained. "Why can't I remember half of my training?"
"As I recall from what I witnessed during the cleaning up of the mess Mewtwo had left behind the training process was ridiculously harsh. Many didn't make it through and those that did left with terrible mental and physical scars from their encounters with their trainer. It's of no surprise that your mind is trying to suppress some of the memories." Finally we came to a halt an a large and spacious hallway with a large glass ceiling that allowed the sunlight to filter pleasantly through, illuminating the area with a gentle glow. Various potted tropical plants lined the walls. It was a tranquil place, a place of rest and recovery. Here it was that Teclis turned to Thunderblast and eyed the sunglasses-donning Raichu with a pained expression. "Please bear that in mind when you make your decision, Thunderblast. If you choose to unlock your memories then it is highly likely that you aren't going to like what you discover."
"Somehow I didn't really think I was going to," came the shrugged response. "I just want to know, no matter how grisly the truth is."
"As you wish," Teclis sighed with the air of somebody who already knew what was coming and didn't much like it. "If you'll come over here then and we'll see about getting your answers." Thunderblast didn't argue. She just walked over to the foot of Teclis' pale robes and stood there as he placed a pale hand upon her forehead. To begin with nothing happened. Teclis just mumbled strange chants in his native language under his breath. But then a strange sensation overwhelmed the Raichu. A soothing, calming sensation that made her just want to close her eyes and go to sleep.
"What…" she began but was silenced by a gentle hush from Teclis.
"Don't fight it. Sleep, and dream. And in your dreams may you find your answers." This was the last thing Thunderblast heard before darkness enveloped her completely, her last thought being that she seriously, seriously hoped that the sage knew what he was doing.

"If you fight like that how do you expect to do well? We must crush all before us!" Somewhere along the line Thunderblast found herself being viciously pummeled by a large, angry-looking being that was instantly recognizable as Mewtwo. She tried very hard to fight back, as futile an exercise as that was, but his sheer intensity, his sheer power was simply too much to withstand. One final blow left her coughing on the ground, intense pain swelling within her body. "I was rather hoping that you would be different. But no. You're as ignorant as all the rest!" Suddenly the Raichu found herself being lifted up by an unseen power, invisible hands grabbing roughly at her prone body. They carried her through the air, to the very edge of the battlements that they were sparring upon and then over, leaving her hanging roughly thirty feet above ground level. She looked down and swallowed nervously. It was pretty obvious how this was going to end.
"Wait… give me another chance, would you?" she found herself weeping but her mentor remained… well, impassionate wasn't the word as there was plenty of passion raging within Mewtwo. Apathetic towards Thunderblast's plight would have been a better description of it. "Please!"
"In this life there are no second chances, girl! You had better buck your ideas up or…" All of a sudden the invisible supports keeping the Raichu afloat dissipated, sending her screaming down the side of the battlements only to be caught at the last second and lifted back up again. "…the next time I won't waste my energy catching you again. If you aren't behind me then you are worthless to me! Now try again! And mean it this time!" Once more the flurry of blows. Once more Thunderblast found herself being beaten to within an inch of her life. But this time it didn't quite seem to hurt so much. This time her growing frustration had reached a point whereby she actually desired to lash out. Even if it was likely that doing so would earn her another trip over the parapet.
"Will you QUIT IT!" the Raichu finally yelled, putting all of her remaining energy into a single psychic push that was aimed to put some distance between herself and her assailant. It didn't work, of course. At least not in the way that it was meant to. For instead of flying backwards as most regular foes would have done Mewtwo simply stopped attacking the instant that he felt the push. A slight smile crossed his face.
"Good," he commented, stepping back. "Now you're ready for a… slightly different challenge." The creature's eyes flashed a pale blue and all of a sudden a hapless Jolteon was dragged from seemingly out of nowhere. It looked rather scared for a moment then realized where it was. A look of distaste crossed its muzzle.
"Oh great," it whined. "Another beating for someone."
"You both know your places so enough of this babble!" Mewtwo snarled. "I only have the time to train one of you so let's see who has the greater skill, shall we?" The two Electric types exchanged glances.
"Hi. I'm Sessara," the Jolteon grinned. "I'm the ghostly Jolteon trained by an impatient psychopath."
"Hi," Thunderblast responded. "I'm Thunderblast. I'm the psychic Raichu trained by the same impatient psychopath."
"Nice to meet you," Sessara nodded. "Looks like we're being told to fight for our training spot, doesn't it?"
"That it does," Thunderblast agreed.
"So, shall we?"
"Might as well." Thunderblast took up a fighting position in spite of the fact that she ached all over. "Got nothing better to do, after all."

FIGHT!!! L46 Raichu v L46 Jolteon!

The two pokémon faced each other dubiously, neither really knowing what to expect from the other and yet also realizing that any hesitation would be dealt with harshly from the impassive and powerful pokémon watching the battle with only the barest glimmer of interest. This battle was going to be short, and it was going to be brutal.
"Get ready to lose!" Sessara yelled.
"Get ready for me to not lose!" came the equally passionate, albeit less easy on the ears, response. The two pokémon launched at each other, Sessara's natural speed advantage showing as the Jolteon launched into a Quick Attack that turned her into an untraceable blur that struck Thunderblast hard in her already sore chest. Perhaps once she might have been able to withstand the blow with ease but after her beating at the hands of Mewtwo it was enough to floor her. "Ouch." The Raichu winced. "Now this isn't good!"
"Oh it is, 'coz I haven't even started yet!" her opponent grinned. "Would you like to see why I call myself the ghostly Jolteon?"
"No," Thunderblast commented. "Because I'm going to show you why I call myself the psychic Raichu first." Concentrating hard – which was hard enough in itself when you hurt all over – Thunderblast unleashed a terrific psychic volley upon the mind of her opponent. None of her usual telekinesis this time. This was a pure, focused blow to the mind of her opponent, who reared back as if she had just been shot. Now was Thunderblast's chance. Moving as fast as her injuries would allow she lanched herself at her opponent, whipping her tail round so that it would strike Sessara hard.

Sadly the Jolteon didn't seem to be there any longer.

"Above you!" a ridiculously perky voice from above called. Thunderblast looked up – she knew she ought to have just dodged on pure instinct, but the temptation to look was simply too great – just in time to see a large, shadowy ball of energy collide directly with her face. The pain was intense. The pain was on the verge of pushing her over the edge, in fact. When all of a sudden a rather peculiar thought occurred to her.
"Wait a second…" the Raichu frowned. "Oh yeah! I know what I ought to do!" At this point Thunderblast directed her powers inwardly, using her psychic skills to try and fix the damage that had been done to her. It wasn't perfect, of course, but it helped to ease the discomfort considerably, helped her to focus her mind on the battle finally. "Okay. You can stop waiting now. Second's up." Freshly rejuvenated, the Raichu launched into a sudden Quick Attack that caught her opponent off guard and sent the Jolteon stumbling. She had Sessara on the ropes now and they both knew it. "Still fancy your chances?" Thunderblast sneered.
"No," her opponent swallowed. "But I'm taking them anyway!" Again a large ball of shadow was spat out from the Jolteon's mouth, but this time Thunderblast was prepared. She quickly jumped over it, using her tail to help gain the necessary extra height. And then and the way down she struck, landing in front of her opponent with two hard chops, one on each shoulder blade. It knocked the Jolteon out like a light.
"There." Without so much as giving a moment's thought for her fallen opponent Thunderblast turned to the still-watching Mewtwo. "Is that good enough for you?"
"It's as I expected," he replied, seemingly calm for once. "After all, she is just a random pup who tagged along with our cause. Whereas you… yes, you were destined to win for I was the one who…" It was as if somebody at this point had thrown the 'off' switch in Thunderblast's mind. For at that very moment the whole dreamscape seemed to fade back into nothingness. Leaving her short of answers. Again.

Thunderblast wins!
Thunderblast grew to L47!

When she next opened her eyes the Raichu somehow knew that she was still asleep. Well, it was either that or she had somehow de-evolved and had been moved from the Tower of Hoeth completely. For now she was strapped into some sort of strage mechanical contraption, face towards the ceiling and the critical visage of Mewtwo staring back down at her.
"Foolish humans," he snorted, reaching down and touching her head. She shivered at the contact. He felt… unnatural somehow. "They create these machines in the name of 'science' but their little experiment has backfired now. Their machines will now be working against them!" Here he undid the various harnesses that were holding Thunderblast's young form in place. "You may rise."
"What's going on?" the creature that was usually a Raichu moaned.
"You are the next in a long line of my soldiers. You have been made to serve me, to aid me in my quest to show the foolish humans the true extent of the horrors they unleash with their 'science' and their 'experiments' and their meddling! Come, stand and see what you've become!" Thunderblast warily pottered over to the nearest reflective surface and peered into it. A youthful-looking Pikachu stared back at her. And then her eyes caught something else. She had been looking at her reflection in the glass of a wide tube-like structure filled with a pale green liquid, but now her attention was elsewhere. She found her eyes drifting towards the tube's solitary occupant. A Pikachu, floating in the liquid and quite immobile. It looked exactly like her. "She refused to listen," Mewtwo explained with a sinister undercurrent to his voice. "She wouldn't accept my cause. Well, now she pays the price. And I replace her with you. So much stronger, so much more powerful. With so many possibilities. Do not make the mistake of that one. Join me and help crush the humans who try so hard to ruin us. It was what I made you for…"

"AH!" All of a sudden Thunderblast sat bolt upright with a loud yell. She looked down at her limbs. Orange and muddy brown, just the way they were supposed to be. Her paw felt up at her face and felt familiar sunglasses. And finally, one last test… she looked around at her location. Familiar faces, not-so-familiar marble walls and potted plants. She was back in reality again.
"Thunderblast, are you okay?" I reached over towards the Raichu but she hopped up and backed away, seemingly shaken by her dreams. It was hard not to notice that there were silent tears coming from behind the silly shades. "Thunderblast, what's the matter?" I had never seen the Raichu seem so vulnerable! She had always been so willful that to see her upset was a doubly poignant moment. I looked over at Teclis, my face asking him for some sort of explanation.
"I did warn her…" the sage sighed sorrowfully.
"What… what happened to her?" Thunderblast asked in a small voice that was at total odds to her usual tones. "Where did she go?"
"All those killed in Mewtwo's attempts to raise an army I keep here. I have a memorial garden for them deep within the temple where I honour their memory and mourn for the tragic circumstances that took them away from this world."
"Show me."

The memorial garden was something quite magical, much like the rest of the Tower of Hoeth seemed to be. One moment you were walking through marbled corridors, the next… you found yourself in a bright, grassy court covered in bright and pretty flowers, small gravestones dotted about here and there. It was like a particularly well-kept cemetery where every grave was visited at least daily by relatives still touched by their dearly departed. In a perverse way it was sweet to think that the victims of Mewtwo's madness were being so well cared for.
"You know…" After a good three hours spent just staring at one gravestone in particular Thunderblast finally spoke. "I was almost half expecting this. I mean, you don't get psychic Raichus occurring naturally, do you? And no amount of training can give you this kind of power. I had to be made, didn't I? I mean, I'm not natural. My powers are weird. My brain doesn't work like everyone else's. I'm just an attempt to copy something else and they cocked up somehow in the process." Nobody was really sure what to say about this for a while. Although, as per usual, Pearl was finally the first to get what the Raichu was driving at and offer her comfort.
"Whatever your origins may be you're still you and don't lose sight of that fact," the Ninetales advised. "You still have a history. You still have a personality. You still have a purpose, just like anybody else. To start thinking otherwise is to go down the same rocky road that caused Mewtwo to go berserk in the first place." Whilst Thunderblast had been unconscious Teclis had filled us all in on the full details of the adventures that we – rather mercifully – had moved to Ulthuan just in time to miss.
"Yeah, yeah, I know that, it just… oh, I can't even explain it. You try having a bombshell like this dropped on you. It feels weird. I just sit here and think to myself 'bloody hell, the pokémon I'm supposed to be is just underneath my paws' and I don't really like it. Yeah, maybe if he hadn't have killed her in order to make me or something I'd have been okay but… meh, that someone had to die, that's what's bugging me." The Raichu sighed deeply. "Oh I don't know. At least I know for sure now." Quickly she pulled her sunglasses off and wiped the tears from her eyes before replacing them and smiling brightly. "And as a definite plus I can honestly say I've been and visited my own grave now! I mean, I know I'm a walking magnet for weird stuff and all but I think this one's really set a new standard." Everyone else shifted awkwardly, still not really sure how to react around her. The Raichu had just had a severe shock to the system and she acted erratically enough at the best of times! "I'm going to have to try doubly hard from now on!" she pressed.
"Ohhhh no, if you're doing that then I'm packing my bags right now!" Milliardo finally blurted out, unable to restrain himself. If Thunderblast wanted to pretend that nothing had happened, he reasoned, then so would he. "You think I'm putting up with a doubly freaky Thunderblast?"
"You don't have a choice," the Raichu retorted, sticking her tongue out. "I will hound you until your dying day."
"That's what I'm worried about." It was hard not to laugh, both at the traditionally comical exchange and out of sheer relief that my Raichu was seemingly back to her old, quirky self in a matter of hours. Not that I had really expected anything else. It would take more than a shock to stop Thunderblast from being weird! And now, it seemed, she finally knew the truth and could only become stronger for her experiences. Was that not the past's purpose, after all?

Wolfsong
12th August 2005, 01:05 PM
I was going to say i was curious about what happens next and what Thunderblast finds, but it looks like i can see what happens next when i get the time to take a good look at it. Hopefully it can get rates soon... ^^; Nevertheless i finsihed reading you other story late last night/early this moning. I always like to read your work. It was fun to see Enigma again. Will we be seeing more of her? Anyways, i liked the story. Enough rambling from me, sorry about that. ^^; Take 24 stamps for that first unrated story ^^;.

i'll try to read the other one soon but if gabi or karin gets to it thats allright with me.

Lady Vulpix
17th August 2005, 03:41 PM
Wow, I've finally caught up! Great story, Karin! I feel sorry for Elwing, Ryu and Kalazeth.
Ade, you can have 12 stamps for your last post. I found it a bit confusing, though. What was the battle between Thunderblast and the Jolteon? And was she a Pikachu in the 2nd dream sequence? She was a Pichu when Danny adopted her. Anyway, in both stories Thunderblast reminded me of Caledor to a scary degree. Maybe the two would benefit from a talk, though I'm afraid they might both avoid discussing anything serious. Just... why was Teclis more open to you than he was around all the previous visitors (as your stories seem to show)? I just hope you don't end up like the 3 other people I know who have talked to Teclis in person. ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

classy_cat18
17th August 2005, 04:35 PM
Sorry it took me so long to get this out. Note: Katana got Slash, Metal Claw, and Hidden Power TMs and a Pokemon Earring at the Reward Center. Katana's Hidden Power is Rock.

Bandit’s POV

“Ugh…” Shonta groaned as she lay on her stomach on her bed. Trinity said she would be feeling the bruise on her back the night after the Crimson Blade attack. She was wrong. It decided not to reveal itself until right after the Dragon’s Guild party. It was one of those throbbing pains. Also she was full from all of the food she ate at the party. So right then she was either groaning from the pain in her back or the pain in her stomach.

“Hurry up with the ice, Athena!” I commanded as we stood in the kitchen.

“Look, Bandit. There is no ice ready,” she said in a strangely calm voice. Clearly she was being annoyed by my impatience but was trying not to show it. “Besides, ice melts. I have a better solution.” She brought out our first aid kit and showed us a large packet of blue gel.

“What’s that?” Lily asked.

“I forgot what it was called but it’s supposed to help with stuff like twisted ankles and sore muscles. It may also help with Shonta’s back. Beacon, would you do the honors?”

Beacon nodded and placed a hoof on the ice pack. Her body was surrounded by a blue aura. In a matter of seconds the pack was frozen solid. Athena wrapped it in a facecloth, walked back to Shonta’s room and tossed it on Shonta’s back. Her response was a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much. Do you have any idea where Katana is?” Shonta asked us.

The ones who could shrug did. Katana left the party before we did. “She just said that she needed some fresh air and that she would meet us at the house,” I told Shonta.

“Well, we shouldn’t worry. Katana should be able to take care of herself. She is, after all, an assassin. I haven’t even put her in a pokeball yet.”

“You mean she’s still wild?”

“I guess so. I’ll talk to her about it when she gets back.”

We turned our heads to the hallway as we heard the front door open. Shonta got up and followed us to the living room where Katana was talking with a Machop. The Machop was carrying one of those beds made for cat Pokemon. “I’ll show you where to put it,” Katana told the Machop as she walked past us.

Shonta put her hands on her hips. She could’ve passed for someone’s mom the way she was standing there. “Where have you been, young lady?” she asked Katana.

Katana continued to walk and pointed to the pillow room. “Right there,” she told the Machop.

“Yes, Lady Katana,” the Machop said.

“Don’t ignore me! I asked where you were! I was actually worried about you!” Shonta shouted.

Katana finally turned her eyes to Shonta. They had that “kill” look to them. “What I do and where I go is none of your business. I am your guardian. You are not mine.”

“You know, something tells me that you don’t want to be my guardian.”

She crossed her arms. “No, I don’t. I rather be slitting your throat. But Diablo said to guard you so I shall guard you.”

“Shouldn’t logic tell you to guard me on the way home instead of going off by yourself, leaving me to walk home, at night, without you?”

“I had important things to do. Loose ends to tie up. There will be times when your Pokemon will have to step in and cover for me.”

Shonta was about to open her mouth and shout again, but closed it. Her expression softened as she knelt down to Katana’s eye level. “Um, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I remember you saying that you didn’t have a lot of experience in battling.”

“That’s right. Being an assassin doesn’t require a lot of battling.”

Shonta seemed to hesitate before continuing. “Well…I don’t need an assassin. I need a guardian that can take whatever Pokemon those Crimson Blades throw at me. Don’t you want to get stronger?”

“I suppose I do.”

“Then you’ll need to be a part of my team. That means having a pokeball and battling along with us.”

Katana’s eyes widened. She dropped her arms. “Are you saying that you want me to be a trained Pokemon? Something that my fellow Demons despise?”

“That’s about it, yes,” Shonta replied meekly.

The Machop was wearing a similar expression. “Surely you’re not going to listen to her!” he said to Katana.

Katana curled her fingers into a fist and reached back, intending to punch Shonta. Instead she dropped it and grabbed Machop’s neck. “You tell anyone about this and I will kill you. Do you understand?”

At that point I was puzzled. The Machop was a fighting type while Katana was a normal type. The Machop should’ve been able to wipe the floor with Katana’s tail. But she was clearly of a higher rank and she reeked of an aura that would make you cower with fear.

The Machop nodded furiously and pointed to Katana’s clawed hand. The claws were dangerously close to his throat. “Whatever you say,” Katana said. She let go of the Machop and glared at Shonta. “I’ll think about it. But I am telling you now that if I say yes I am not going to jump through hoops for you.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to do that anyway,” Shonta said with a smile. “I know that Pokemon have minds of our own. But if you need some advice in battle…”

“I’ll turn to one of your Pokemon.” She went into the pillow room and curled up in the new bed.

Shonta chuckled and turned to the rest of us. “Okay, we have everyone training starting tomorrow so its lights out for us.”

I walked with the team to our pillows. Beacon went as far as pushing her pillow away from Katana’s bed. I was struck with curiosity and took the pillow nearest to Katana. “Where did you get that bed?” I asked her.

“It’s none of your concern,” she muttered as she drifted off to sleep. After a few minutes I too was sleeping tight.

Katana’s POV

I woke up after a nice deep sleep. The others were still sleeping. Lazy Pokemon. They should be up and about by now. I looked at the sleeping Bandit and grinned. The Kecleon may have been a traitor for preferring to be a trained Pokemon but wasn’t bad looking…for a lizard.

I got out of bed and stealthily walked to Shonta’s room, my claws retracted. The human decided not to take Bandit’s advice about taking a baseball bat to bed with her. She was, in fact, unarmed. She was too trusting.

I listened to her steady breathing and watched her chest rise and fall. I jumped on her bed, making a soft landing. Shonta didn’t even make a response. I slowly walked up to her face until I was standing on her stomach. I had to make a tough decision and I wouldn’t be happy with it. “Wake up, human,” I said softly.

Apparently she was sleeping lighter than I thought because her eyes fluttered open. She gazed into my eyes sleepily. What happened next was expected. Her eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped. She let out a yelp as she tumbled out of her bed in a clumsy attempt to escape from me. She shouted again as she landed on her back. “Will you stop it? I’m not going to hurt you!” I hissed. Shonta looked up at me, looking like a mouse staring in the eyes of a hungry cat. “Do you have any idea how amusing you look when you’re scared?”

Her expression changed from fear to slight anger. This also looked amusing, the way her cheeks were slightly puffed out. “Oh yeah? Do you have any idea how creepy you look in the dark?”

I chuckled. “Yes, I do.”

“So why are you here? I have the feeling that you didn’t come in my room just to scare me.”

My lips curled into a snarl and my stomach churned from what I was going to say next. “I’m in.”

Her face perked up. “In what?”

“The team. I’ll join.”

She appeared to be nonchalant. “That’s cool. We need to make this official, though. We’ll wait until after breakfast for that. And we’ll need to go shopping before you do any training.”

My ears perked. “Shopping? For what?”

“Attacks.” She stood up and looked at the Pokemon in the doorway that were now staring at us. “What are you looking at? We have things to do today! We need to clean up and eat. Out! Out! That means you, Katana!”

I left the room in a state of confusion? Attacks? How can she buy attacks? I looked around at the other Pokemon. Lily went out of a back door with Athena. I decided to follow them.

“Good morning, Katana!” Lily chirped. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, I did.”

Athena grabbed a water hose from a corner of the backyard and turned it on. “That’s good. It’s nice to sleep in a familiar bed, isn’t it?” she asked me.

I was taken by surprise. “How did you know that the bed had been mine?”

She smiled. “It was easy to find out that. The bed looks to be very worn in so it can’t be new. Plus it had your scent all over it.” She sprayed water on Lily until every inch of her was soaking wet.

How could I have missed that? I was broken out of my thoughts by the sound of my stomach growling. I stared hungrily at a passing Pidgey and waited for it to land but it never did. To pass the time I groomed myself. I still had dried blood in my fur from my last kill.

Athena heard my stomach growl and raised another question. “What did you eat when you were with the Demons?”

“Usually fresh things,” I muttered. I glanced up at her confused expression. “I hunted.”

“Oh.” Her face turned a little green.

Shonta poked her head out of the back door. “Breakfast is ready. Let’s go, girls.”

Breakfast was good considering that it came out of a bag. After breakfast, however, wasn’t that good. Shonta pulled out a pokeball and held it in front of my face. “Hop in,” she instructed.

I bared my teeth at her. This was probably the worst thing about being a trained Pokemon, having to go inside a small metal sphere. “I am not going in there!”

The other Pokemon stared at me. “What’s wrong? It’s just a pokeball,” Lily told me.

“Are you insane? Look at the size of that thing! I’ll go crazy in there!” I then covered my mouth, not believing that I said that.

Shonta blinked. “Are you saying you’re claustrophobic?” I didn’t say anything. “It will be for just a second. This will mark you as my Pokemon. With that you can battle in official battles and tournaments.”

She got my full attention the second she said “tournament”. “You have tournaments here?”

“Yeah! I was in the last one! It’s great! You get a lot stronger and meet all sorts of Pokemon!” Lily said to me.

“Yet you should be careful of who you battle,” Trinity added.

Tournaments. I always wanted to know what it would be like to be in one. The thrill of fighting for prizes. Too bad they don’t have any for wild Pokemon. “I’ll do it,” I said. I reached out with a claw and pushed the button on the pokeball. A red light enveloped my body. All of a sudden it felt like I had no body of my own. It had been sucked inside the pokeball. Whatever was left was sucked inside it afterwards.

It was horrible. I felt cramped. I futilely pushed on the walls of the pokeballs. My breath quickened. The walls were closing in! I lay on my back and screamed as loud as I could.

<You must relax, otherwise the pokeball won’t be able to fully capture you,> a voice said in my head. It was the Starmie. <Take deep breaths.>

I stayed on my back and tried to relax. Slowly but surely the walls of the pokeball expanded. I heard a soft “ding” as my muscles relaxed. A second after I was released. I warmly welcomed the sunlight and the open space. My new teammates looked at me like I was crazy. “What are you looking at?” I asked them harshly.

The Mareep quickly looked down. “Nothing!”

“Congrats, Katana. You’re one of us,” Shonta said, smiling.

“One of us. One of us,” the others said in a monotone voice. Then they burst out laughing.

I rolled my eyes. What a bunch of idiots.

We left the house and strolled down the sidewalk. It was strange for me to walk out in the open in broad daylight. It was even stranger to see the sidewalk crowded just two days after the Crimson Blades’ attack.

I walked alongside Moriko, who was carrying a messenger bag and smiling to herself. She looked at me and giggled. “What are you laughing about?” I asked her.

She looked up at the sky, still smiling. “It’s just that I get excited when I think about battling. I love to watch battles and can’t wait to see what you got.”

“You Pokemon baffle me.” I looked at Lily who was also smiling at me. “What’s so interesting about me?”

“You’re, well, you!” Lily exclaimed.

I’ve never been treated this way. I’m used to being feared and respected, not liked. I tried to kill their trainer and they’re acting like my friend. It has to be a trick. I looked up at Bandit. The Kecleon was riding on Shonta’s shoulder. He looked down at me with fearful eyes. I winked at him, making him cling even more tightly to Shonta’s shoulder.

“Bandit, your claws are digging into my skin,” Shonta complained.

“But Katana…” Bandit whined.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said innocently. It was fun to play with Bandit.

The others were either walking ahead of Shonta or behind us. Nama was asleep inside her pokeball. Trinity looked back at me. “Why can’t I scare him like that?” she asked me.

“You don’t have the look,” I replied.

We went inside a large building. According to Shonta, this was the Dragon Tamers’ headquarters. I followed her down a long hallway and eventually through another door. “This is the Reward Center. This is where I buy attacks,” Shonta informed me.

I looked at the shelves behind a counter. There were numerous boxes lining them. I jumped up on the counter and looked at one. “Thundershock,” it read.

“Are these really attacks?” I asked Shonta.

“Yeah! They’re called Technical Machines, or TMs. As you read, that one can teach you Thundershock. That one can teach you Ember and the one next to it can teach you Powdered Snow.”

“I can’t learn these attacks.”

“You don’t know what you can learn,” Bandit said. “I didn’t think I could learn Ember but I did. Chances are you can too.”

I stared unbelievably at the TMs. They ranged from Acid to Solarbeam. But there were some that really caught my eye. Slash. Metal Claw. Hidden Power. “What does Hidden Power do?”

“Anything. But you won’t know until you use it.”

A girl walked behind the counter. I recognized her as Gabi, one of Shonta’s friends. “What brings you here today?” she asked Shonta.

“I’m shopping for my newest Pokemon!” Shonta said proudly. She reached to touch my head but withdrew it as I swiped at it with my claws. No one treated me like a pet. “I mean I’m shopping for Katana. Tell Gabi what you want, Katana.”

“Metal Claw,” I said at once. That attack interested me the most. I prized my claws and thought of them as my greatest asset. “I’ll also take Slash and Hidden Power.” I noticed that there were other items as well. A miniature beach ball. A box of matches. A four-leaf clover. “What do those items do?”

“They raise a Pokemon’s stats and prevents a certain ailment. For example, that four-leaf clover doubles a Grass-type’s defense and prevents Poison types from going to sleep.”

I remembered that Lily wore one of those when she battled the Charmeleon. “Perhaps I’ll need something to boost my stats.”

“Great idea! Let’s get you a collar!”

“No collar! I’m already your Pokemon. Don’t try to treat me like a pet!”

“Okay, okay! How about an earring?”

I rubbed my ears as I looked at the golden hoop earrings. Why do they look so familiar? I shook myself out of my thoughts. “I suppose I’ll also take one of those.”

“I take it you’ll pay for them, Shonta?” Gabi asked her.

“Yeah. After all, she can’t. Let’s see…55 stamps? Man, no more shopping sprees for a while!” She took a few scraps of paper out of her pocket and gave them to Gabi.

“There goes my Pokemon Collar,” Trinity sighed.

Shonta put the items she bought in a bag and said goodbye to Gabi. We exited the building and took to the busy sidewalks again. “Where are we going now?” I asked Shonta.

“The park.”

“The park? I thought we were training!” Trinity shouted.

“We are. But sometimes kids gather there for Pokemon battles. I want to find Katana an easy opponent.”

Shonta’s POV

Millennium Park was as peaceful as it was before the Crimson Blades attack. There was minimal damage to the landscape. The Pokemon scattered and had their fun. Katana, however, chose to stay by me. There was an awkward silence between the two of us before Katana spoke. “Why are your Pokemon so friendly towards me? They know what I am and what I tried to do to you.”

“Lily, Moriko and Athena are nice to everyone. They believe in forgiving and forgetting.”

“What about Beacon?”

“I don’t know if she likes you, but she certainly fears you. She’s scared to death of you because she thinks you’ll eat her.”

She chuckled a bit at that. “Is the Slakoth afraid of me too?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Nama’s afraid of nothing, you hear me? She’ll laugh in your face and not regret it. Jewel doesn’t see you as a threat either.”

Katana growled a little. “Trinity?”

“She sees you as a role model. I don’t know why, but she wants to be as scary as you. I guess she likes the way you can shut Bandit up so quickly. Speaking of Bandit, he seems to be the only one who openly hates you.”

She looked neutral about the idea but there were a lot of things she could’ve been thinking of. For a split second she looked disappointed. “I have a reputation to defend. I cannot afford to be buddies with anyone.”

“Oh, cut the crap. You’re lonely and you know it.”

She shot a glare at me, making me flinch. “I don’t need anyone!”

“Whatever you say. Do you want your TMs now?” I took them out of my bag and set them in front of her. “To make this go quicker I think we should activate all three at the same time.” I opened the boxes and shielded my eyes from the eventual flash. Katana didn’t even see it coming.

“What happened?” she asked in rage while rubbing her eyes.

“I don’t know exactly but that’s how they work. Want your earring?” I showed to her. She looked at it curiously, poking at it with her claw. Finally she shook her head. “Okay then.” I looked up and saw a child approaching, tossing up and down a pokeball. “There’s an opponent. Hey kid, over here!”

The kid walked over to me. “Whoa, a Zangoose! Is it yours?”

I was about to say yes, but then I saw the murderous look in Katana’s eyes. “Not exactly. You see, I caught her in a pokeball but she’s not mine.”

He blinked at me. “That doesn’t make sense.”

I rubbed my forehead. “I know. She wants me to refer to her as my guardian.”

“I sure would want a Zangoose as my guardian, especially after that attack a couple days ago.”

“Really? I would rather want a Dark type like a Sneasel. Besides, Katana here obviously thinks she’s above me since she’s supposed to be my guardian.”

“I am above you,” Katana said with a smile.

The kid held up the pokeball he was playing with. “Ready to battle my new Pokemon? He’s a doozy.”

“Tell him I’ll battle whatever Pokemon he has ready for me,” Katana said.

“Katana’s ready,” I told the kid. “And for the sake of my vital organs I am not giving her any orders.”

“A wise choice.”

Katana’s POV

The child and I stood facing each other, a few meters separating us. Shonta sat by the sidelines with the rest of the team. I glanced at Moriko and noticed that she was waving a flag with my face on it. I slapped my forehead. “What the hell is that for?” I asked Moriko.

“I can’t cheer you on without my flag! Go Katana!”

What is the matter with her? Athena was looking at me cheerfully and holding a sketch pad. Lily was bouncing up and down impatiently. Trinity’s tails were twitching with anticipation and Beacon was scuffing the ground with a hoof. Jewel and Nama looked calm. Where’s Bandit?

“Are you ready, Katana?” the child asked me.

I shook my head. If anyone needs to be watching me battle, it’s Bandit. I spotted him at the fountain talking with another Kecleon. A female Kecleon. I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I quietly walked over there and stood behind Bandit.

“So if you want to call me or e-mail me…” Bandit trailed off once he saw that the other Kecleon was no longer looking at him but behind him. He turned around and jumped in surprise. “Katana!”

“Sweetie, you promised you would watch my battle,” I sweetly told him.

The other Kecleon became angry. “Is that your girlfriend?” she asked Bandit.

“No!” Bandit snapped. “Leave me alone, Katana!”

“He’s just in denial,” I told the other Kecleon. “He flirts with the rest of my team, too. You should hear what he tells the Ninetales.”

The other Kecleon glared at Bandit. “A Ninetales, huh? What’s the matter? One girl’s not enough for you?”

“Are you kidding? He’s the only male in his team. Of course, I’ll always be number one to him.” I hugged Bandit to emphasize my point.

“Get away from me, you psycho!” Bandit yelled as he squirmed in my arms.

“I can see you two are busy. I’ll be leaving now,” the female Kecleon said angrily. She stormed off, leaving Bandit with me.

I finally let go of Bandit. He whirled around and leered at me. “What’s wrong with you? I was so close to getting her phone number! Do you know how hard it is to find Kecleon of the opposite sex?”

I shoved my face close to his. “Does it look like I care?”

He threw his arms up into the air. “God, why are you making me so miserable?”

I lashed out and grabbed his tail. “It’s my job.”

“No, your job is to guard Shonta! I shouldn’t even be in your agenda!”

“Well, you just jumped into my to-do list.” I dragged him to the rest of the team. “Sit here and watch me battle. You better not move from that spot.”

“Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah,” he sneered as I walked away.

I went back to my position on the field and waved at the child. “I’m ready now.”

He nodded and threw his pokeball. “Go, Slowpoke!”

I laughed at the sight of that pink dope. “You’re kidding, right? I’m supposed to fight this idiot? Alright then. If that’s what you want!”


L5 Female Zangoose (Katana) vs. L5 Male Slowpoke

“Go, Slowpoke! Kick that witch’s ass!” Bandit cheered.

Trinity growled and popped him with a paw. “Quiet! My girl’s battling!”

I chuckled. This will be easy. I can defeat this Slowpoke without using any of my new attacks. I stood up and extended my claws. As slow as I was on two legs, Slowpoke was even slower. I ran for him, confident that I could defeat him with a couple of swipes from my claws.

“Slowpoke, Psychic,” the child said calmly.

Slowpoke’s eyes glowed blue and a second later an invisible force raced into me. I was sent rolling backwards. My tail lashed wildly in the air as I glared at the Dopey Pokemon. “So you know Psychic. It won’t save you.” I got up again and ran on all fours this time. Slowpoke’s eyes glowed blue again and once again something similar to a powerful gust of wind was sent for me. But I could tell where it was going by looking at the upturned earth. I shifted to the right, dodging the attack. He used it again, right after the previous one. I made a sharp left, circling Slowpoke and narrowly missing his Psychic attacks. I ran until Slowpoke’s glowing blue eyes faded to their normal color.

“Oh no! He exhausted his psychic powers!” the child cried out.

“Indeed he did. And now it’s time to prepare some seafood,” I said darkly.

Slowpoke gulped and looked around frantically, probably looking for a place to hide. I stood up on my hind legs and extended my claws. This made Slowpoke even more nervous. He was on the verge of tears by the time I started charging for him. I was so close I could almost taste him when…

“Slowpoke, Dig!” the child commanded.

Slowpoke clawed at the ground and sunk underground. I stood there, bewildered. I didn’t know that Slowpoke could learn Dig! I quickly recovered and dove in the hole that Slowpoke created before he could resurface. I jumped out of the hole and slashed him in the face before he knew what was happening. He just stared blankly at me before screaming out and diving in his hole. I reached in it and pulled him back out by the tail, ignoring his pleas of mercy. I raised a paw in the air and concentrated on activating my Metal Claw while still holding on to him. When I saw that my claws were growing, I brought it crashing down on his hindquarters. Slowpoke gave a small yelp, then nothing, then a loud scream. It sounded like this: “Ow…YIPE!”

“Ooh, brutal,” Shonta commented.

I let go of his tail and watched him burrow into the ground again. I was not going to let him beat me or get away so easily. My determination seemed to form into a sort of brown aura surrounding me. I looked down at my paw and smiled wickedly. Somehow I knew what do next. I slammed my paw down on the ground. Pillars of rock shot out of the ground, one after the other. The last one blasted Slowpoke out of the ground. He sailed through the air and landed at my feet. I already had another Metal Claw ready for him. I slashed him before he could burrow again. He rolled over on his back and groaned at me. I knew he had had enough.


I won and grew to level 6!

I nudged him with my foot, checking for signs of consciousness. A little blood was oozing out of the cuts I inflicted but he would live.

The child ran over to him and also nudged him. “Slowpoke? Speak to me, Slowpoke!” He shot a glare at me. “You’re so mean!” I merely laughed at him. He returned his beloved pet and ran off, crying.

Beacon was the first of the team to approach me. “Don’t you think you were a little violent, Katana?” she asked me.

“Wasn’t this supposed to be a battle, little Mareep?”

“Yeah, but…”

“I didn’t kill him. Isn’t that enough for you?” I narrowed my eyes. “Let me fight my own battles.” I yawned. All of that running in the beginning of the battle wore me out a little. I slowly walked in the shade of a tree and drifted off to sleep.

Charizard04621
17th August 2005, 06:07 PM
Take 10 stamps for your story, Shonta. I find Katana intriguing.

AntiAsh Superstar
18th August 2005, 09:36 AM
Ehehehe... figured that 'un would be a tad too weird to rank that highly tho... meh, it's Thunderblast, you expected something easy on the brain? :P The battle was a random encounter in her training and the sheer fact that she had to relive it I figured was enough to toughen her up a level - if Marius got away with a VR Matrix-esque battle then Thunderblast can get away with a fight in a dream! :D As for Teclis... yeah maybe I did slap on way too much of the stereotypical high elf behaviour but please, his last few visitors in the past decade have either needed his knowledge or have been Lord Absol, even the high priest of the elven god of knowledge is going to crack eventually of boredom! Any discrepancies from past behaviour I shall put down to a) me as an author thinking this style of Teclis fits in better with Ulthuan's history and b) weird Raichu physics messing up his brain. Hey, I can pull that excuse now! ^^;;

And as for the Pichu thing that's just me not having done my homework thoroughly. Apologies. Anyways, now I've got the weirdo plot out of the way... a Free Range Corral battle for Marius, please. I promise no centuries-old beings this time, ok? :)

Lady Vulpix
18th August 2005, 11:20 AM
I have nothing against centuries old beings. My only concern about Teclis is that everyone who has seen him so far has ended up feeling superior to the rest one way or another, and disappeared a short while later. But I trust that won't be the case with you. Teclis himself seems to treat everyone as if they were beyond everyone else, which is quite odd in my opinion.

As for Marius, he will battle a Farfetch'd. No puns, please. http://img49.imageshack.us/img49/1369/wink1wc.gif

classy_cat18
18th August 2005, 11:59 PM
Thank you, Karin. Katana likes to be intriguing. Can I have a RBG for my L18 Oddish, Lily? From the Free Range Corral?

Wolfsong
19th August 2005, 12:11 AM
*takes 7 stamps* She will be battling a Miltank

AntiAsh Superstar
22nd August 2005, 05:33 AM
Puns, Gabi? Oh no, I shall save that for Bolovayr.

If there aren't too many people who'd rather put it off I'm thinking a scenario change this weekend (probably Sunday) - I have something amusing lined up to kill some time until the next main plotline. :)

The_Missing_Link
22nd August 2005, 04:51 PM
OOC: I requested this RBG back in April and I thought I would finish it well before summer ended but I struggled to complete it before I went off to college. It's short and not at all brilliant but I'm glad to have it done



<Lee’s POV>

“I’ve told you once and I’ll tell you again – Aries is not Tarin’s brother!”
Lyra walked away in a huff as I grimly watched her go. Four months had passed since Tarin joined the team and I was no closer in convincing everyone (sans Aries and Tarin, who were unaware of my doings) that the two of them were related. They either regarded me as delusional, foolhardy, or just plain stupid.
Orion looked at me sympathetically. “Just face it Lee, you don’t have any proof of their so-called ‘relationship’ and without evidence, you just look like a moron.”
I glared at the diminutive Cubone, who was wasting precious brain cells by staring at the TV. Hard to believe that he declared me the moron. Right…

<3rd Person POV>

Lee strode out of the living room and into the backyard, where Nightshade was testing out his Metronome skills on Blade.
“String Shot?! That was the best you could do?” Blade scoffed as he chopped off the remnants of the last attack.
“Well, that’s what Metronome is,” Blade replied. “I don’t expect it to come through for me every time. Now stand still, this is my last shot.”
Taking a few steps back, Nightshade held both hands in front of him, his spoon hovering near his head. Balling his hands into fists but leaving his index fingers exposed, he moved the fingers back and forth while muttering his species name.

He did this for a few seconds and then stopped. For about a minute, nothing happened.
“Is that it?” Lee said incredulously. “Nothing’s happening.”
“Just wait,” Nightshade chided. “It’ll come.”
Right after he said those words, the ground started to rumble. Around Blade, thorny vines began popping out of the ground and started to ensnarl his body. As they spiraled around him, a white portal appeared in front Nightshade. While the thorns gripped him tightly, sharp leaves and thick vines shot through the portal, jerking and grazing a chagrined Blade. The massive flurry of flora lasted mere seconds but felt like hours to the astonished watchers. Eventually, the leaves disappeared, the vines flew back into the portal and the thorns shrank back into the ground. The two looked on at Blade as he calmly examined his body for any damage, although it was clear there was none.
“You’re damn lucky that was Frenzy Plant and not Blast Burn,” he snapped, “although that’s what it is – just luck.”
Lee shook his head and released a mental sigh as he walked away from the scene. He too had the power of such unpredictability but chose to save it for battle instead of training use. Besides, why use it outside of battle when its next use could be wildly different from the last?

<Tarin’s POV>

Rebecca had arranged another battle for me and as usual I had no clue who I was up against. All I knew was that we had to be at the park at three PM and the opponent would show up. I quietly pawed at the arena dirt, scratching out pictures while my mind was elsewhere. Lyra, who was given permission to act as my “guardian” for the trip, was scanning the park for my opponent.
“I wonder where they could be,” she mused, shading her eyes with her hand as she gazed in the distance.
“Who knows,” I replied absentmindedly.
“Why are you so out of it today?” she asked, still looking ahead.
“Because I want to battle in the wild for once. I’m sick of arranged battles – I want to go at it when it’s most unexpected. Plus, I’m just as old as you but I still need someone to help me get here.”
“Well, I can’t blame you for wanting to battle elsewhere but I don’t know when we’re going to do something for the Dragon Tamers again. It’s been quite a while since we went on a serious trip. Also, despite our age similarity, you’re pathetically untrained compared to the others in the group. Once you bulk up, you can go anywhere you like.”
“Like that’ll happen anytime soon,” I muttered under my breath and continued to stare at the ground as Lyra glared at me.

I put the finishing touches on a picture of a family when Lyra finally saw someone coming. I looked up and squinted into the distance. It wasn’t until they came closer that I could make it out to be a Numel accompanied by a Delibird, who interestingly didn’t carry a sack. He must’ve been powerful or confident to leave it behind.
“Sorry we’re late,” he called out as they came within talking distance. “It took a while to convince my trainer to let me accompany Ulrich instead of himself but he eventually caved in. I’m Wat, by the way.”
“I’m Lyra and that’s Tarin,” Lyra smirked. “I’m seeing a pattern with your names. Anyone else named after characters from the movie?”
“No, we’re the only ones,” he replied sheepishly. “If I wasn’t so young when he named me that, I would’ve protested but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s quite a good movie to watch if you don’t care about historical accuracy.”

I didn’t bother asking them what they were talking about as I wasn’t much interested in movies or TV. Instead, I focused my attention on Ulrich, who was staring straight past me and into the beyond. He looked like any other Numel – seemingly stupid and slow. But this one looked disinterested even by Numel standards. He had that glazed look in his eyes that said he wanted to be somewhere else and not here. Was he not interested in battling at all?
“Ok, so I guess it’ll be Ulrich versus Tarin then,” Wat suddenly quipped.
“Yeah, ok,” I mumbled and went back to the left side. Ulrich silently obeyed and went to his end of the field, still looking sluggish and bored.
“Whenever you’re ready,” Lyra called out from the side.


[b][color=purple]Tarin (Lv. 11 Female Eevee) vs. Ulrich (Lv. 11 Male Numel)

<Tarin’s POV>

I took a step forward, wondering if he would react in any way. He didn’t though, and lazily stared back at me like someone who just woke up from a nap. Taking advantage of this interesting situation, I decided to try out a new attack that Rebecca had given to me right after she signed me up for the battle. Concentrating on a spot right in front of my body, I could feel ethereal energy congregating together, forming to become a mysterious purple and black sphere. Swelling to the size of a basketball, I swiped at it like a cat with a ball of yarn and watched as it sailed towards Ulrich. Despite my preconception of him as a slow-witted Pokemon, he responded with astonishing agility and dug into the earth to escape my long ranged attack.

“Don’t make assumptions,” I muttered angrily and mentally harassed myself. With defensive moves, I stood still quietly. Going in the hole would be useless and even if I moved around, Ulrich would just find me anyway and attack from below. Closing my eyes, I tried to detect movement from below. Only after a few moments did I feel a slight rumbling and tensing my muscles, I sprang upwards as the trembling became more apparent. Feeling him spring out of the hole, I tried to land as quickly as possible but a burning to the rump wasn’t what I would call a graceful evasion.

“Damnit, damnit, damnit,” I hissed and waved my backside back and forth to cool the burns.
Ulrich was softly chuckling behind me and I would’ve done the same thing if I was in his position. But I wasn’t and his ease at getting the best of me was rather infuriating. Pivoting rapidly, I scooped dirt up from the ground and launched it at Ulrich’s eyes. Defenseless, his blinking reflexes prevented him from getting most of the dirt into his eyes but some managed to get in and as he tried to pick at it, it gave me time to launch another ghostly sphere at him. It connected and made him skid backwards, although not powerful enough to knock him down. I also made it a point to copy an attack of his and after searching his move pool, I settled on Rollout. Dig was a more effective attack but I couldn’t compete with a natural ground Pokemon and if anything, speed was my saving grace.

Ulrich slowly shook his head – whether in disbelief or to steady himself, I didn’t know. He then stared at me for a moment before charging at full speed, which was like a light Ponyta trot. As I expected, he went right into a Rollout, rolling right at me before going slightly to the right, barely missing his target. I knew well enough that he was building up speed and one strike from a fully charged Rollout was not to be taken lightly.
“If you want to play, I guess I’ll join in on the fun,” I grinned.

Sprinting off after Ulrich, I leapt into a tumble. Instead of rolling for a bit and then eventually stopping, I felt myself tumbling into a repetitive spin, like going through a round in a washing machine. What was even more amazing was my ability to see the field as clear as day, which helped me avoid the hole Ulrich had dug into earlier.

Sensing that I was also using Rollout, Ulrich made a wide arch and came straight at me. We collided and started pushing against one another, like two remote controlled cars trying to outdo the other. It was clear our levels were exactly the same but his larger size and weight was forcing me back.
I know I can’t beat him like this, that’s for sure. The only way to defeat him is by outsmarting him, but I can’t assume he’s stupid. I made that mistake once. I only have one shot so I hope it works.

I broke off contact with him and sped towards the hole. I could sense Ulrich trailing me as I entered the hole, and he followed soon after. Popping out first, I forced myself to slow down and only jump out of the hole a few feet above the ground. Uncurling my body, I landed a little hard but on my feet, which was a miracle in itself. I created the ghost ball right before he came out but not noticing me on the ground, Ulrich continued to shoot straight into the air. That’s when I launched the ball and watched it strike him, knocking him off balance. As he started to unfurl and fall to the ground, I released a smaller sphere and with no protection, watched him get knocked farther out, right near the boundary line. He crashed next to the edge but not surprisingly, struggled to get up. Creating another sphere, this time white tinged with green, I made sure he went down, right outside the border.


[b][color=purple]Tarin wins the battle and grows to Level 12

<3rd Person POV>

Lyra walked over to Tarin, who collapsed to the ground. Nausea had only caught up to her just now and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
“I don’t think I’ll ever use that move again,” she gasped, to which Lyra responded with a chuckle.
“That was a great battle,” Wat said as he left Ulrich to recover from his wounds. “Most of his opponents are put off by his supposed lack of enthusiasm before the battle but once it starts, he surprises them and for the most part, takes control of the battle from the beginning. It was interesting to see him lose one for once. Hopefully, he’ll learn from this and do better next time.”
Tarin and Lyra nodded and wished him well as he went to help Ulrich stand up and walk home. After a while, the Eevee managed to stand up on her own and walk off, pleased with another battle won.

Charizard04621
23rd August 2005, 08:16 AM
Becca - Haha, I've always preferred wit to strength. Kudos to Tarin ^_^; Um, by the way, is it just me or are a lot of the recent BR posts invisible? o_O I had to quote yours to be able to read it. Take 12 stamps. The battle was great but it seems difficult to develop Tarin.

Lady Vulpix
23rd August 2005, 10:36 AM
Could it please be on Monday, Ade? I could use an extra day. And while I'm at it, can I have an extension, please?

Ah, by the way, I went through the TL archives and noticed that one of my stories was missing, the quick wrap-up of the lab with Golden Growlithe and Hero. It took place just before my last story. It was on page 8 (http://forboards.tripod.com/BattleRangeV22P8.html) of the old Battle Range. (Search for the word Eshree.)

AntiAsh Superstar
25th August 2005, 10:24 AM
Extention granted and I'm perfectly happy to delay the scenario change by a day - it'll prolly work out better for me that way anyways as I'm visiting Soo's family this weekend and may not have time to post the new scenario anyway.

And thanks for pointing that out, when I have a broadband connection up and running and can update without too much hassle I'll rectify the omission. :)

The Blue Avenger
25th August 2005, 04:22 PM
I'd like an extension as well. I have a good bit of work to do. >_>

Charizard04621
25th August 2005, 07:19 PM
You can have the extension, TBA. :)

classy_cat18
26th August 2005, 07:44 PM
Alright! Finally get to start the scenario!
EDIT: Forgot to add this. Aero has Hidden Power: Psychic, so he's able to sense psychic energy. And the Miltank Lily's battling has Hidden Power: Fire.
EDIT #2: Forgot to add this, too. I got the following from the EMT machine: Whirlpool, Swagger, Mega Punch, Brick Break, Teleport, Curse, Harden. I got Synthesis from the Reward Center as well as Odor Sleuth, Acid, Slash, and Faint Attack. I got Cosmic Power from someone, I forgot who. I think I got everything.

Shonta’s POV

“Gimme that remote!” Trinity roared as she lunged for the device in Bandit’s hand.

“Why? So you can make me suffer through your stupid soaps? No way!” Bandit shouted. He jumped back and ran around the living room, making me very dizzy. He finally settled on the back on the back of the sofa, holding the remote just out of Trinity’s reach.

Athena came from behind and snagged the remote from Bandit. “It’s Trinity’s turn to decide what we’re going to watch this hour.” She handed the remote to Trinity and sat next to me and Katana.

“This is what I get for living with a house full of girls!” Bandit complained as he slumped on the floor.

Katana gave me an evil look as she sat beside me, her long claws tapping each other impatiently. “Aren’t we supposed to be doing something today? Like training?” she asked me.

“Trinity won’t go anywhere in the morning until she watches a little TV. And don’t suggest putting her in her pokeball. She’s learned how to get out by herself.” I slumped in my seat and watched TV, not knowing or caring about what was going on. I was halfway asleep when a face appeared on the channel, a face that didn’t belong in any of the soaps. It was the face of Armand DiAnnio.

No one screamed. No one even talked while that madman made his speech. Threatening to have his beloved Salamence destroy the Griffin Gate and let all the nasty stuff out. Challenging both Team Rocket and the Dragon Tamers to come after him. It was all beyond insane. When the broadcast was finally over and the TV screen once again showed Trinity’s soaps, we all sat there with our jaws dropped and our eyes bugging out.

“Well,” Bandit finally said in a calm voice, “That was nuts.”

Beacon was the first one to flip out. “Nuts? Nuts!?! This is beyond nuts! He’s talking about taking out the entire island! We’re all doomed!”

Moriko, always the morale lifter, stood before the rest of the team with her lips smiling and her eyes practically glowing with excitement. “People, people! We’re talking the Crimson Blades here! We helped take ‘em out once, we can help take ‘em out again! We’ll kick their sorry butts all over the Shifting Isles!”

“Yeah!” Lily shouted, caught up in the moment.

The others weren’t so uplifted. “What if we run into another one of those psychic Blades?” Athena asked Moriko.

“Oh, come on! We have our own psychic! One that packs a more powerful punch than those pathetic Blades.” She pointed to Jewel. “You have to admit that she mopped the floor with that Cutter guy.”

<He invaded our home. I had to take necessary measures,> Jewel sent. <So are we going?>

I bit my lower lip. I’d never been this nervous before. We were talking about a full-scale attack on the Crimson Blades base. I wasn’t much of a fighter. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t fight at all! My Pokemon did all the fighting. I felt so helpless. I swallowed hard and finally gave my answer. “Let’s see what the other Dragon Tamers think. If I know the Guild they’ll probably hold a meeting on this.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~

They did end up holding a meeting. And the Tamers ended up with a pretty good strategy. We were going to take advantage of Team Rocket’s bullheadedness and kill two birds with one stone. We were to wait for them to start their attack on the Blades and then strike them both with a three pronged attack. I figured my three heaviest hitters (Lily with her Stun Spore and Solarbeam, Jewel with her Blizzard, and Moriko with her Aeroblast) would be part of the first group, the group at the front of the line. Beacon, Trinity, and Katana would be with me in the second group. Nama, Bandit, and Athena would be part of the last group to attack. The Blades wouldn’t know what hit them.

I stood in the backyard the next day with my team (sans Katana for some reason) with pride in my heart. My team may not be as strong as everyone else’s but they worked as hard as they did. Lily was already close to evolving! She grew ten or eleven levels since I had her. My head may be swelling with pride but I didn’t care. “Okay, team. I have TMs for most of you. First, Lily. I have both Acid and Synthesis for you.” I set down the boxes in front of her.

“Wow. Thank you so much!” Lily exclaimed.

“Jewel, I have Whirlpool and Cosmic Power. Moriko, I have Slash and Harden for you. Nama, this Curse TM is for you. Trinity, Odor Sleuth, Faint Attack, and Teleport. Athena, I got you three TMs: Swagger, Mega Punch, and Brick Break.”

“Aww! I wanted Mega Punch!” Bandit whined.

“Tough luck. Okay, dinner should be ready. Who’s up for lemon pepper chicken wings?” Trinity’s ears perked up at the sound of that. “Anyone that can’t eat chicken I’ll fill your bowls.”

Katana’s POV

I don’t know who taught Shonta how to cook but the chicken wasn’t half bad. I wouldn’t ever tell her that, though. That will give her the idea that I was starting to like being her Pokemon.

We watched some TV while Shonta tried to relax and read. I knew that she was getting nervous about going into the heat of battle. I thought about making her even more nervous but banished that thought. Then another thought popped into my mind. If I let her go into the heat of battle, and if I was to be busy battling Blades, then I wasn’t going to be a good guardian. Diablo wouldn’t be pleased.

The team retired to their pillows while Shonta went to bed. I followed her to her room and sat by her bed. “Are you afraid?” I asked her quietly.

“Of what? Going to fight all of those Blades with everyone else? Hell, yes! But I’m a Tamer and I’ll be darned if I acted like a coward now.”

A few minutes passed before Shonta spoke again, her back to me. “Where were you today?”

“Securing our transportation. Did you ever think about how we were going to get to the Shifting Isles?”

Shonta lay there silent for a while before shooting straight up in bed. “Oh crap! I forgot about that! I was thinking that I was going to use Trinity’s Teleport but she hasn’t used it before! Katana, you’re a lifesaver!”

I smirked. “You’re welcome.” I stayed in her room and groomed for a while until I was sure that the human was asleep. I then proceeded to wake up the Pokemon. “Listen, everybody. Our transportation’s outside as we speak. I say we leave now.”

“Okay! I’ll go get Shonta!” Lily said excitedly.

I stood between her and the door. “Shonta won’t be coming with us. She’ll be staying here where it’s safe.”

“Hold on! Who put you in charge?” Bandit demanded. He walked up to me and stuck a finger in my face. “Shonta’s a member of this team! We are not leaving her behind!”

I flashed my teeth at him, scaring him and making him step back. “Shonta is scared. Do you know why?” I asked everyone.

“Because she almost got killed the last time she went up against a Blade?” Beacon guessed.

“That may be the reason. But mainly it’s because she’ll be defenseless out there on the battlefield. Every one of us will be too busy fighting our own opponents to protect her. That’s why, as guardian, I say we take the best course of action and go without her.”

The other Pokemon looked at each other with fear, anger, and confusion. Finally they all nodded at each other and then at me. “Fine. How are we getting there?” Trinity asked.

“Follow me.” I walked out the room and up the stairs leading up to the roof. Up there waited a Pidgeot with silver head feathers. “Hello, Aero.”

Aero turned his head to me and smiled. “Katana. So nice to see you again,” he said cheerfully.

Bandit instantly recognized the Pidgeot. “Hey! You’re Aero, Skye’s older brother! How’s the Pidgeotto doing?”

“Skye is doing just fine, although I keep telling to get out of that darn gang. Mom would rip out her own heart if she knew what he was doing.”

Bandit turned to me. “He’s not a Demon?” I shook my head. “Then how were you able to get him to take us to the Shifting Isles?”

“That’s none of your concern. Now all of you go back inside and get your pokeballs. Aero can’t carry us all.” The others went downstairs and retrieved their pokeballs. Bandit was carrying Shonta’s small backpack. He told me that my earrings were inside before going in his pokeball.

Aero smiled at me while I put the pokeballs in the backpack. “Nice to see you’re finally on a team,” he told me. “I knew that you weren’t suited for gang life.”

I gave him a small growl. “Shut your beak. I told you before: I was born a Demon and I will die a Demon.” I put on my earrings and climbed on his back.

His eyes shone with concern as he smiled sadly. “No, you weren’t. And you won’t.” He made sure I was on his back the correct way before taking off for the Shifting Isles.

It was a long ride. I soon regretted not sleeping before starting the trip. But the ride was smooth. Aero made sure he kept a constant altitude until he got to the Shifting Isles. Somehow I was wondering to myself, Why do they call it the Shifting Isles? I don’t see them moving anywhere.

“That’s weird! I feel some weird energy coming from the island up ahead!” Aero shouted as he descended. He was flying to a sort of desert island with mountains. “And I think I see some activity in the sky!”

“That could be where the battle’s taking place!” I shouted back. “Let’s land there!”

“Okay! Landing!” He descended even more until even a human could’ve seen that there were some humans and Pokemon were sitting around. He first landed in the midst of a group that was off to the east of the island. I let out Bandit, Nama, and Athena and had Aero take off again. I let out Lily, Jewel, and Moriko near the human called Ade and took off once again. Finally I got to the group I was supposed to join. “I guess you’ll be getting off here, then.”

“Don’t go off too far. You’ll get a telepathic message from the Starmie when we’re ready to go. Until then just…do what you want to do around here.” I slid off of his back and stroked the side of his face with my claws. “Be careful up there.”

“My Katana, are you actually concerned about me?” he asked me softly.

“A little,” I admitted. “Now get up there.”

Aero nodded and took to the sky. I watched my old friend as he got smaller and further away. For some reason my thoughts turned to Shonta. I wonder how she is?

Lily’s POV

“I wonder how Shonta’s doing?” I asked myself as I stood with Jewel and Moriko.

“I’m sure she’s doing just fine! She may still be sleeping in her little bed at home or at the Barracks!” Moriko assured me.

“I bet she’s upset with us.”

<Knowing her, that’s a definite possibility. But Katana was right. We couldn’t have her risking her own neck if she didn’t know how to defend herself,> Jewel sent.

I sighed. The last thing I wanted to do was to make Shonta upset. Or worse, helpless. “I guess you’re right, as much as I hate to admit it.”

Ade told us to move out. I stayed close to my teammates until we got to the battlefield. And what a battlefield! Humans and Pokemon fighting everywhere! I didn’t know where one battle ended and another one began!

“Alright guys, you know what to do! Grass types to the front!” Ade instructed. I walked to the front with the other various Grass types, looking out over the fighting crowd. “Ready? Aim…and…release your Stun Spore now!” The wind was against us, but changed as soon as everyone released their spores. The cloud of paralyzing particles was carried into the crowd, infecting anyone that breathed in them. The majority of them coughed and stiffened. “Well done! Now I want you all to give this everything you’ve got! We’ve only got one chance at this so we have to make it count! Aaaand…charge!”

At this command tons of Pokemon and humans charged into the fray. I released my Razor Leaf and hit as many enemies as I could. When I could spare a glance I would look at my teammates. Jewel was Rapid Spinning right into the Crimson Blades and Rockets, blasting them with water and snow. Moriko fired her Aeroblast and sending a few at a time tumbling. I spared my Solarbeam until I had a few seconds to charge it.

I was so busy attacking and then backing off that I bumped into someone. I turned around and saw that it was a Miltank. “So you like to Stun Spore, do you? Well, you Stun Spored my trainer!” she shrieked.

I blinked. She sounded so familiar. “Who is your trainer?” I asked her.

The Miltank jabbed a finger at a female Blade that was on her knees and coughing. When she turned her face at me I recognized her. “Hey, that’s Dixie! I should’ve known!” My surprised face turned into an angry one as I turned back to the Miltank. “Well, she deserved it! She tried to kill my friends!”

“She was following orders!”

“From a maniac?” The Miltank blushed and looked down at the ground. “What, you didn’t know she was taking orders from someone that should be sent to the loony bin?”

The Miltank blushed harder. “You shut up! He is not insane! He’s brilliant!”

“Then why did he challenge every Dragon Tamer and Rocket in Uluthan?” I asked with a smug look on my face.

She bent down to my level (or as close as she could). “I said shut up! Shut up or I’ll shut it up for you!”

I jumped up to look her in the eyes. “I’d like to see you try!”


L18 Female Oddish (Lily) vs. L18 Female Miltank

Miltank didn’t hesitate to draw her fist back and try to pound me with an Ice Punch. I jumped back and fired a Razor Leaf at her. She raised an arm to her face in a lame attempt to shield herself from the razor-sharp leaves. “I’ll teach you not to throw things at me!” she said angrily. She ran for a few steps, tucked and rolled towards me at an incredible speed. Too fast to dodge. She hit me head on and I sailed through the air, landing in the midst of another battle.

I quickly got to my feet. That didn’t hurt me as much as I thought it would. Still, it would be for the best if I tried not to be hit by it again. I ran back to our spot to find her rolling around in circles. She somehow spotted me and went straight for me. I shot a Sunny Day straight into the air and rolled to the side, narrowly missing Miltank’s Rollout. I spun around and released another Razor Leaf at the pink and black ball but they merely bounced off. I can’t hit her! Not while she’s rolling like that! That means that Solarbeam might not work!

Miltank took a sharp turn and headed for me again. I rolled to the side again and turned to her, expecting another Rollout. Instead I got a face full of snow and icy wind. I shivered from the cold as I realized what she had done. As soon as she passed me she must’ve unrolled very quickly and fired that Ice-type move at me.

Miltank laughed as loud as possible. “See, my little friend? My trainer made sure that I had attacks designed to take out a little weed like you! That was just Powdered Snow but it’ll do.” For a few seconds her expression changed to a concerned one. “What’s the matter, sweetie? Too cold?” Her face hardened. “Let’s turn up the heat!” She inhaled deeply and exhaled a column of flames. I was too surprised to move and was completely engulfed in them.

I lay on my back, badly singed and almost to the brink of defeat. I’m finished. Dixie will probably recover and imprison me in a cage for life. My friends will never see me again. I whimpered as I heard Miltank’s hooves walk toward me. I felt myself being lifted up from the ground and into her eyes. I closed my eyes. This is it. She’s probably going to use her Ice Punch on me.

“Had enough, little weed?” Miltank crowed.

I opened my eyes and looked in hers. Those were eyes that belonged to a Pokemon that really didn’t know what she was doing. Even Dixie didn’t know who she was working for. I had to help the Tamers win this so she could snap out of it. I won’t be defeated! “No!” I shouted. I spit an Acid right between her eyes. Right away she dropped me and stumbled back, steam hissing from her forehead. I concentrated on the sun’s rays and felt myself get better. “So this is what Synthesis feels like.” The burning seemed to vanish.

Miltank growled at me. “How dare you spit at me. Dixie was right; you are gross.”

I cocked my head to the side. “By the way, why are you battling me instead of trying to do something about your paralyzed trainer?”

“Defeating my opponents come first!”

“See? That’s the attitude that comes from someone that’s been brainwashed.”

“Brainwashed?”

I nodded. “All of your fellow Blades have been brainwashed. You’ve been promised glory. All that he will bring is chaos.” I wiped away a tear with a leaf.

“I am not being brainwashed!”

“Then I’ll have to bring you to your senses! Sleep Powder!” I swung my leaves at her, releasing blue spores. Miltank took a few steps to try her Rollout again, but stopped in her tracks before she could tuck and roll. She slumped to the ground, half asleep.

“I’m sorry. I hope we could forget all this afterwards,” I told Miltank. I charged up my Solarbeam and blasted her. She didn’t fly through the air like my other Solarbeam victims do. She didn’t get up, either.


I won and grew to level 19!

I smiled to myself. I defeated Dixie (or rather, her Pokemon) and, thanks to my new Synthesis move, I still had enough energy to fight some more. Or so I thought. Before I could even charge up another Solarbeam something slammed into my back. I rolled on my back and looked up at another face. A Mawile glared down at me. “I think it’s time that someone finally shut you up…permanently.” I was too weak to answer. I closed my eyes, ready for the longest nap I’ve ever had.

Lady Vulpix
27th August 2005, 07:05 PM
Here's my first battle for the current scenario, and Hero's RBG. My 2nd battle will have to wait until I've talked to other trainers and read Shonta's battle in more detail.

Everything said and done by Jeff, Groviglio, Maza, Kurtzwick, Popple, Rookie, the Poliwag and his trainer was written by Jeff. Some parts will probably become clearer once Jeff has posted his side of the story.

<Tsunami's POV>

We had meant to enter the base of the Crimson Blades in three waves, but the waves split up as soon as we reached the island where the base was located. Or at least that's what happened to the second wave, which was the one I was in. Everyone outside of my own team soon became out of sight, and the portion of my team that had come with me was significantly small: just the old group B and our trainer, Gabi. In other words, it was the team I'd joined many years earlier, minus Hero - and that was a big minus. I was glad that at least Gabi was with us; I don't know how I would have handled being alone with Pidgeot and Water Angel, even after all these years of living with them. Oh, and Water Angel was in her pokeball, which made our group look too tiny for a mission like the one we had embarked into (Pidgeot's size aside).

I was admit I was less than relaxed as we entered the building and found no resistance. The first wave was already in, but it still looked too easy. It was the most obvious setup I'd ever witnessed, and that made me terribly uneasy. I kept looking around as I walked, expecting something lethal to pop out of any corner. Pidgeot was drained from carrying us all the way to the island, so that meant that, unless we came across a large enough body of water for Water Angel to move freely (which was unlikely), all the battling would be up to me. Talk about pressure.

I was busy tormenting myself with those thoughts and examining the right wall for cameras or any possible threat, when I heard a bump on my left. I turned round to see a suspicious looking Skitty and Lickitung standing between Gabi and Pidgeot, and carrying a couple of bags filled with who knew what.

"Ah! R-rookie! We gotta get out of here!," the Skitty cried out.
"Yes, boss!," answered the Lickitung. The pair looked rather odd to me from that moment.
"Hey, you two! Which side are you on?," Pidgeot stopped them.
"YAH!," the Skitty screamed and started panting. "Hey, don't scare me like that, you big palooka!"
"Sides?," asked the Lickitung, Rookie, I assumed. "There are sides in this chaos?"
"Shut it, Rookie! I'll handle this!," his boss told him.
"Don't tell me you got caught in this without even knowing what's going on," I faced them, unbelieving.
"We just came here to loot..." Rookie began, but the Skitty interrupted him.
"WHAT DID I JUST SAY, ROOKIE?!"
"...Yes, boss..." Rookie conceded.
"Loot? Anywhere else you'd be in trouble, but this place belongs to the Crimson Blades, so be our guests," Pidgeot shrugged them off. I could understand a place like that making his blood boil after what he'd been through.
"Yeah, see, we already did, see?," said the Skitty. "And now you're standin' in our way of making a quick escape!"
"Boss, I-I wouldn't..." Rookie tried to warn him. "These guys look tough."
"We can handle anybody, Rookie!," the Skitty assured.
"What about that Abra and that Beldum?"
"Shut up, Rookie."
"What Abra and Beldum?," Gabi inquired.
"A little while ago, we stole some TMs from a guy near a department store," Rookie explained. "He sent a Dratini, an Abra, and a Beldum on us. We handled the Dratini easily, but the other two whipped us but good."
"Rookie, don't go killing our aura of infallibility!," his boss told him.
"It seems to me that you got what you deserved," Pidgeot asserted. "What's with you guys and stealing anyway?"
"I'll have you know you are addressing the one and only master shadow thief!," the Skitty said.
"What about the Dratini? He seemed to have you beat in stealing..." his minion ruined his 'aura' again. This had started to sound too familiar.
"Will you hush?!," the Skitty scolded him, grinding his teeth.
"All of a sudden this story seems oddly familiar," I let them know.
"Oh no. Don't tell me you know these guys," said Rookie.
"Unless there's more than one cleptomaniac Dratini who tags along with an Abra and a Beldum, I'd say we do."
"Argh! Of all the people we have to meet," the Skitty complained. "The only thing worse would be running into that kid again... Rookie, you see why it's important to keep your mouth shut?"
"Yes, boss..." the Lickitung answered obediently.
"I'm having trouble holding any sympathy for you two," Pidgeot warned them. "That group doesn't even have a place to call home and you steal from them? You're not much better than the monsters we're fighting against right now."
"Hey, it's not like we're looking for sympathy, you drip!," the Skitty countered.
"Besides, we saw him on the street. For someone with no home, he seems to be doing okay for himself," added Rookie. "I mean, he had 7 or 8 TMs on him! He's obviously not poor!"
"Rookie... you're not helping, see?," the Skitty told him.
"I bet it's easy for thieves like you to assume someone's okay when all you want is to take something from them," said Pidgeot. "He worked hard to get those TMs just like all other Dragon Tamers have. Of course scum like you wouldn't understand what working hard means."
"Hey! I know plenty well what working hard consists of! Do you know how hard it is raising an idiot like that" the Skitty gestured to Rookie "from sickness?!"
Pidgeot looked at Rookie, and then back at the Skitty.
"I know too many like you," he concluded.
"And what's that supposed to mean?!," the Skitty confronted him.
"You care for no one but yourself, and use others for your own benefit. I bet you could fit well in Team Rocket."
That, coming from Pidgeot, was the worst insult someone could receive.
"I'll have you know that's where I got this lump from!," the Skitty told him.
"It's true. My old trainer was a Rocket," Rookie supported him, but the Skitty hushed him.
"And how did you feel about that?," Pidgeot addressed Rookie, ignoring his boss.
"While I may be a thief, I still have morals!," the Skitty defended himself. "I would never want to be a part of a team that abuses and alters their own Pokemon so!"
Pidgeot sighed. "Twisted morals, but at least that's something."
"Besides, if I'm part of a team, that means I have to split the loot!," the Skitty continued obliviously digging his own grave.
"But boss, we're a team!," Rookie reminded him.
"Quiet, Rookie!"
"Be careful," I warned the Skitty. "Getting on the big bird's nerve is not a good idea. He hates Team Rocket with a passion, and not without a reason."
"I'll get on whoever's nerves I want!," the Skitty neglected my warning. "Who are you to tell me I can't, you overgrown fish?!"
"You know what? That insult's so unoriginal it's not even funny," I told him, having heard those exact words from Hero two days earlier.
"Just go away. We have more important things to do than waste time on you two," Pidgeot said with despisal.
"If I were trying to be funny, I wouldn't be insulting you, sushiman!," the Skitty came up with an even worse insult.
"But boss, isn;t them leaving us alone what we want?," Rookie pointed out, subsequently muttering something under his breath.
"Rookie, if I have to tell you one more time..."
"Why do you even waste your time and energy with a jerk like him?," Pidgeot asked Rookie.
"He saved me from what would have been certain death," the Lickitung explained. "He provided a home."
"And don't you forget it!," the Skitty issued what sounded a bit like a threat, but not one I would have taken seriously.
"That's good, but it doesn't give him the right to treat you like that," Pidgeot continued, ignoring the Skitty.
"Even so... I don't have anywhere to go. And working with him does provide pretty well..." Rookie stated. "Besides, he's much better than my last trainer."
"I can imagine, if your last trainer was a Rocket. But there are far better trainers in Ulthuan," Pidgeot told him.
"QUIET! Rookie's perfectly fine with me!," the Skitty shouted.
"Are you, Rookie?," asked Pidgeot.
Rookie hesitated.
"What are you waiting for, Rookie?! Answer in the affirmative!," his boss yelled.
"Um... I guess so..."
"That's more like it."
Pidgeot shook his head. I could imagine how disgusted he was by Rookie letting himself be controlled like that.
"Just... get out of my sight," he said to both thieves.
"This place is crammed with Crimson Blades. They could get killed," Gabi told Pidgeot.
"So what are we supposed to do? Protect a couple of thieves?"
"You know that Dratini, don't you? Wouldn't you protect him?," asked the Skitty.
"Boss, I hardly think that we're comparable to..."
"That's different," Pidgeot said. "He's Lagi's great-grandson and he's good at heart. And we're all trying to teach him not to steal."
"And what a great job you're doing," the Skitty chuckled.
"Boss, I don't think provoking them is the best idea..."
"Relax, Rookie, if they get the wrong ideas we can always just pull out the double-team technique!"
"Doesn't that technique have a long and arduous trail of failure behind it?"
"You just don't get it."
Pidgeot turned to Gabi. "Would it really be a big loss if the Crimson Blades got them?"
"You don't mean that, do you?," Gabi questioned him.
"Nah. They're just disgusting, but no one deserves to be killed by the Blades." He then faced the thieves again. "Ok, I guess you can hide behind us until this is over, but keep your mouths shut or I'll be forced to hit you both hard."
The Skitty grumbled something to himself.
"Boss, it's for the best, right?," Rookie asked.
"I guess so, Rookie," the Skitty sighed. "Besides, this bird mentioned that that kid was a part of the Dragon Tamers. Maybe he'll show up here, and we can settle the score..."
"Um, I can't help but think that's a bad idea, Boss."
"He's already here," I revealed.
"Glee," Rookie rolled his eyes.
"He is?! Where?," asked the Skitty.
"Somewhere in the middle of the chaos. He came with the 3rd wave, we're in the 2nd."
"Boss, maybe we ought to hold the revenge thing until later..."
The Skitty sighed again. "Maybe you're right, Rookie... We're liable to get massacred out here..."

We went on walking. I stopped when I heard an unexpected sound.
"Hey, what's that? It sounds like... water!"
"Eh? What?," Rookie seemed startled.
"That's not some sort of thinly veiled threat, is it?," asked the Skitty.
"Anything could be, in this place," I said. "I just wonder why there'd be flowing water in this place."
"Even terrorists need to drink every now and then," Rookie remarked.
"Maybe they're keeping water pokemon there," Gabi speculated.
"Eh, Rookie, why don't you go scout that, huh?," the Skitty instructed his minion.
"B-but Boss, we don't know what's in there!"
"Which is precisely why we need someone to find out, see?"
Rookie sighed. He was about to leave, but stopped upon hearing Pidgeot's warning:
"I'm not sure that's a good idea." When Rookie turned to look at him, he explained himself. "I mean, it might be just a fountain placed there to please the extravagant tastes of the Blades, but there could also be something dangerous there."
"Not that staying here is any less dangerous," I pointed out.
"So what do you propose to do about it?," asked the Skitty.
"If Ventura was here, I'd ask her what she can sense. But she flew ahead with the first wave, so... how about we all go together?," I suggested.
"Eh, sure, why not?," the Skitty accepted. "It's not like I can do anything else here outside of dying."

So, we followed the sound, which turned out to come from a rather large room. There were three golden dragon heads on the wall, and water flowed down from their mouths into a pool.
"Was it just a fountain after all?," Gabi wondered.
"Hey, this place is pretty slick... These Blades know how to spoil themselves," the Skitty commented.
"I still don't like this. Why is this here?," inquired Pidgeot.
"Maybe they kept Pokemon here, but they've been taken out?," Rookie suggested.
"It could be. I could go down there and take a look, but then again it could also be a trap," I said.
"This whole war thing is affecting us too much. We see threats everywhere," said Gabi.
"Right here and now, there are threats everywhere," Pidgeot reminded her.
The Skitty turned to me. "Hey, aren't you a Vaporeon? Can't you do the whole 'melt-into-water' thing and go undetected?"
"Melt into water? Sure. Go undetected? I wouldn't bet on it. Not with all the psychics and whatnot around here."
"Do you really think a Psychic Pokemon is hiding in the water, just waiting for some poor sap to use Acid Armor in it?," he questioned me.
"Maybe Gabi's right. Maybe we are getting too paranoid," I conceded. "I guess I could just go and check."

I melted into the water and searched the pool for anything suspicious. All I could find aside from a bit of moss on the walls, was an opening that looked like the entrance to a tunnel. I emerged and told everyone what I'd found.

"Why would there be a tunnel underneath a fountain?," asked Rookie.
"Who knows?," I replied. "It must lead somewhere, but I have no idea why it's there."
At that moment, I felt a sharp pain in my tail, and emitted a short cry.
"What happened?," asked the Skitty.
"Are you okay?," Rookie followed.
"It felt like a Slash," I told them. I turned around trying to see what had hit me, just in time to avoid another incoming Slash from a Sharpedo's fin.
"Ahh! Umm... um..." Rookie babbled as he started throwing rocks of unknown origin into the water.
"Rookie! Cut that out! Don't get that behemoth to attack us!," the Skitty yelled.
"B-but boss..."
"Look, the Vaporeon can handle it, see?"


Level 61Vaporeon vs. Level 60 Sharpedo

And yes, I could say I was handling it. I had managed to slow my attacker down a bit with a gust of Icy Wind... which had given me the chance to raise the water around me for a Surf attack. Things were looking good until the Sharpedo cut through the wave up to the surface and crunched me.
"Ouch. That looked like it hurt," the Skitty commented.
"You okay?," Rookie asked me.
I coughed out some water. "It hurt, but I can... outlast him."

When there's no time to formulate plans, it's good to go with that which has often worked in the past. My old strategy of winning a battle by being able to endure more blows than my opponent seemed like the right course to follow. I'd never battle a Sharpedo before, but I thought a Hydro Pump would help put some distance between us. I'd heard about their Rough Skin trait and felt the sharpness of this Sharpedo's fins, so I tried to avoid physical contact. However, the Sharpedo dove into the water before my Hydro Pump could hit it.
"Hey, no, that's my trick," I claimed. "Hold on, guys, I have to fix this."

I followed my opponent into the depths of the pool and tried to reach it with my Hidden Power. Looking back it was a terrible idea: all I got was a burst of bubbles that quickly floated away. Later Pidgeot told me it had looked as if some of the water had been blown up from below. However, the bubbles managed to divert the Sharpedo's next attack, as the dark fluid he shot at me got trapped in the wall of air and never reached me. Pidgeot also told me that the group was making comments about the little they could see, and that he said he didn't like that black thing at all. I swam away, back to the surface. The Sharpedo followed me, gaining speed as it closed in, and I felt its teeth again as soon as I got my head out of the water.
"What's going on?!," I heard the Skitty ask as I took my head out of the water again and took a deap breath. I took the chance to Recover, but then I felt something hot flow from the Sharpedo's teeth into my tail.
"What is this? Sludge? Toxic?," asked Rookie, who could apparently see the fluid the Sharpedo was releasing.
"It looks like Toxic to me," replied Pidgeot.

I couldn't meditate on the tone of Pidgeot's voice because I was too busy struggling to break free from the Sharpedo's grip. I couldn't pull my tail out without losing some valuable flesh, so I tried to force the Sharpedo to release me by shooting an Ice Beam at it. It worked, and I managed to swim away. I summoned another wave and sent it at the Sharpedo, staying behind this time. But the shark pokemon deflected my attack. I was starting to feel frustrated, and my tail was giving me an intense pain.
"Are you alright?," Pidgeot asked me.
"No, but I'll be alright when this is over," I told him, sending another wave in the Sharpedo's direction.
"C'mon! You can do it!," Rookie cheered for me, but his boss hushed him again.

The wave split in two before reaching the Sharpedo. How long could it hold up its shield? I was panting; it was getting hard to stay afloat.
"He keeps protecting himself. That must mean he doesn't have much left in him. Come on, you can do it!," Pidgeot encouraged me.
"Yeah! You can beat this coward!," Rookie joined him.
"Right, he can't protect himself forever. It will get harder the more he keeps doing it," Gabi stated the obvious, but it was good to hear so many words of support.
"Thank you, guys..." I gathered as much water as I could and shot a strong Hydro Punp at the Sharpedo.

My opponent tried to protect itself again, but failed, and was pushed out of the fountain by the blast, quickly passing out.

I grew to level 62!

"Yeah! That's it!," Rookie cheered.
I reached for the border of the fountain, battered, but victorious. "I... outlasted... him."
I managed to get my fromt legs out of the puool, but lacked the strength to lift the rest of my body up.
"D'you need help?," Rookie came to assist me.
Gabi searched her pack until she found a Miracle Berry she'd got a few days earlier, and handed it to me. I slowly masticated and swallowed it. My insides stopped burning and with Rookie's help I was soon out of the water.
"Thanks, everyone. That was close."
"And Rookie, that's why you shouldn't charge ahead into unknown fountains," the Skitty said as if he were teaching the Lickitung a lesson.
"But Boss, you told me to."
"You just don't get it, Rookie."

"Are you ok?," Pidgeot asked me.
"Nothing a couple of Recovers can't heal, but I don't think I'll be ready for another battle too soon," I replied. "I suggest we leave this place. Whatever's on the other side of that tunnel, it can't be good."
"So where do you suggest we go?," asked the Skitty.
"I think we should try to find some other Dragon Tamers," Gabi suggested. "We're too few and could be ambushed at any time."
"With that in mind, boss, maybe we shouldn't try going after that kid again."
"If he has that many contacts..." the Skitty reflected.
"You definitely shouldn't, if you know what's good for you," Pidgeot told him. "Of course, if you knew what's good for you, you wouldn't have taken up stealing in the first place."

<Hero's POV>

I had ended up in what was probably the largest group within the third wave, and still we had no problems getting in. I hoped we hadn't missed all the action. I wasn't sure about what we'd be able to achieve, especially since some of us hardly knew each other. I'd never talked to the Dark Cave pokemon before, and I was the only one who knew Ray and Firestar. As for Solitude, who could say they really knew her? She remained silent most of the time (back to shutting herself away from the rest of the world, I assumed), and I couldn't help but feel nervous around her. I couldn't figure her out, and a distraction like that was the last thing I needed at such a pressing time.
"So, Jeff, what exactly are our specific objectives here?," the big-mouthed Tangela known as Groviglio asked his trainer.
"We wouldn't be able to go up against Armand himself, so I guess we just need to stall some Blades long enough for someone else to get in there," Jeff replied. "Since our mission is pretty vague, I guess I'm pretty much open to suggestions from any or all of you."
"I was thinking of finding some Blades and making them regret the day they set their eyes on Sector Alpha," I suggested.
"Yeah! Let's go bash some heads!," Maza the Abra approved.
"I don't get why Tracker had to stay, she could have helped us a lot," I said.
"Someone has to watch over the city to ensure we have a place to return to after this mission," Lagi pointed out.
"Okay, since we want to take down as many of these thugs as possible," Jeff began, "here's what I think we should do. We should fan out a bit - my Pokemon and I, Lagi, Iael, and the Dark Cave Pokemon, and Hero, Ray, Firestar, and Solitude. Is that acceptable?"
"Jeff, maybe we should wait on splitting up until we actually get to a point where it would be to our advantage to do so," opined Maza.
"Yeah, okay, that's true. Staying in one group right now would probably be the best, to avoid any potential ambushes," Jeff accepted.

As if to completely contradict him, a powerful jet of water blasted past him and through the rest of our group. I quickly jumped away from the water. Soon, a Poliwag came into sight, followed by a guy in a Crimson Blade uniform.
"Hey, kid. Aren't you a little to young to be here? Shouldn't you be at home with your mommy?," the guy leered at Jeff.
"A Poliwag? That's all?," Jeff frowned. "Haven't you noticed that I'm standing here with a Dragonite, 3 Ninetales, and other such Pokemon all much more powerful than a Poliwag?"
"Be careful, Jeff," I warned him, remembering the Poliwhirl I'd faced in the final round of the Griphon Games. "Underestimating your opponent may be the last mistake you ever make."
"Don't try that with me, kid," said the Blade. "I can tell those aren't your Pokemon. Besides, I don't want to battle them."
"I'll keep that in mind, Hero. And what makes you think you get a say in who you get to battle?," Jeff confronted the criminal.
"Hmm, I'd say I have about 7 or 8 very good reasons."
The Blade snapped his fingers and the sound of guns cocking echoed around us.
"Oh, no, not AGAIN!," I shouted in frustration.
"What do you mean, again?," asked Jeff. "When did this happen before?"
"There was a time when most Rockets used to threaten use with fire weapons," I told him. "I even got hit by a bullet once."
I'd never forget that day. The pain of the bullet piercing my leg had been nothing compared to the agony of spending 3 weeks being unable to run... the first days not even walking!
"This reminds me too much of the Black Battalion massacre," said Lagi, who just had to beat my gloomy thoughts. "I seriously hope this doesn't end the same way."
"I'd be more worried if it ended the opposite way," I remarked.
I wasn't too thrilled by the prospect of dying that day. Even if I could come back as a ghost and scare the heck out of Caledor, it wasn't worth it.
"Ugh. Don't worry, I have an idea," said Jeff.

It was dark and I couldn't see what he was doing. I saw a faint red light, but nothing else. Jeff seemed to whisper something, but I couldn't make out what he was saying.
"So what do we do? Stall the guys with guns?," Ray spoke out.
I didn't know what Jeff had resolved to do, but he accepted the Blade's challenge. "Okay, Blade, you've got a battle."
"Let's see... let's go for the weakest first," said the thug. "I'm thinking your Abra looks like a good target."
"Hey! I am NOT weak!," Maza complained.
"Don't antagonize the guy, Maza, let's just give him a battle, huh?," Jeff told him.
"Okay, fine. Let's do this."
"Heh, that Abra is just fodder for my Poliwag," said the Blade. "Let's go!"
"I have an idea, but it'll have to wait till the end of the battle," Iael told Ray as Maza and the Poliwag engaged in a fight.
He then whispered something into Ray's ear. I wished I could hear him. Ray nodded.

I turned my attention to the battle. Maza had just fallen asleep, and Jeff and Groviglio were trying to reanimate him by shouting. Groviglio did something to Maza and the Abra began to stir and convulse.
"I don't think that will help him," Lagi told the Tangela.
"Hey, if he begins to have nightmares, maybe he'll wake up faster," said Groviglio.
"Lagi's right, Grove, I don't think that's helping!," Jeff agreed with her.
"He's suffering," Lagi said in a sad tone.

The Poliwag hit Maza with a Blizzard, which made him shake and turn pale. I feared for the Abra, but he woke up at that moment and melted the ice around him with a fist encased in fire. He then combined a Fire Punch with an Ice Punch, which could have brought the Poliwag close to pasteurization hadn't it managed to dodge.
"Nice combo!," I commended him. "That's something you don't see everyday."

The rest of the battle was an enjoyable sight, but I think it would only be fair to let Maza tell the details. It was him who won, after all. I must admit I had a laugh when the Poliwag accidentally attacked his trainer and got an insult in return.

"No WAY! How did you beat me with... that weakling of a Pokemon?!," the lowlife complained. "Get them! FIRE!"
But the fire never came. It was only then that I found out what Jeff's plan was, and which Iael admitted to be better than his own (which I never did get to learn about). I'll just say that having a transparent thief among us did have its advantages.

"What should we do about these guys?," Iael asked.
"I think we can pretty much knock 'em out, now," suggested Jeff.
"Of course. Just like the rest of their kind, they're worthless without their weapons," I agreed.

It turns out that I was missing the fun as I spoke, for I soon heard Lagi calling out Maza's name and, when I turned to look, there was a Kadabra standing beside me.
"Hey! Cool!," he and Jeff exclaimed in unison.
"Congratulations!," said Lagi.
Jeff offered the newly evolved Maza a TM he'd been saving for this occasion, and the Kadabra used it, thanking him.

"So now that we've whipped this Blade and scared a whole pack of them away, shall we keep moving?," Groviglio suggested.
"Sure, there are bound to be more cowards ahead," I accepted, tired of staying in the same room. "Time to charge forward Hero style!"
I winked at my friends and ran through the nearest door. I heard Jeff call out for me and assumed he would follow.

I was used to having the group follow me. That was how it'd always worked. But I wasn't too worried when I turned too look and didn't see them. After all, they could look after themselves and so could I. What was curious was the fact that, though I had run down a slope, I couldn't see any light above in the direction I had come from. The room where Maza had battled the Poliwag had been dark, but not that dark. For a moment, I was worried I might have ran into a trap. Then I told myself that that was what I was there for, to spring the traps and destroy them. So the question was how to go about dealing with this one. I decided a bold approach would be best.

"Hey, Blades?," I called out as I walked along the dark corridor. "I'm a Dragon Tamer! I know you're looking for me and you know I'm looking for you, so why don't you come over here so we can finish the whole thing once and for all?"
"You think so highly of yourself, don't you?," a deep voice roared from ahead. "You think you can deal with anything and come out victorious. Or maybe you're just bluffing. If that's the case, I can easily show you the way out and let you run away. I don't fight cowards. But if you think you can defy me, I'll make you wish you had never learnt to speak."

I walked towards the source of the sound, keeping my guard up for any hidden traps. I found an open door that led to yet another dark room and heard a muffled sound of voices in the background.
"I'm no coward," I replied. "And I hope you can say the same for yourself, as the blades I just met back there were simply crybabies without their guns."
"You'll find out that I don't need to rely on any kind of artifacts to do my job."
As I entered the room, a particularly vicious-looking Arcanine came into sight. He seemed to be trying to make sure that I caught sight of his sharp teeth and claws. I didn't return the gesture. The Arcanine's body was clearly larger than mine, even if I didn't count the large volume of hair around it. I could bet he had more muscular mass than I did, and he could see that too. He laughed when he saw me, so I decided to take that to my advantage and appear intimidated.

"Not so cocky now, are you?," he said. "Just an old Ninetales... and not even a complete one. I bet you must have had some good fights back in your day, though."
I must admit I felt insulted. More for the 'old' part than for the ever so unoriginal comment about my missing tails. I didn't consider myself old. But I forced myself to keep playing the game. It wasn't easy, when countless possible witty retorts were springing to my mind, but I finally chose the humblest one I could think of (I'd never thought humility could be so hard to achieve).
"A good fight is what I've come for," I answered. "I may be older than you, but Ninetales are said to live for a thousand years. If we consider that, I'm actually quite young."
"Arcanines are said to bring luck to those who see us," he shot back. "You'd be a fool to believe those stupid legends."
"Alright, maybe I won't make it to the next millenium," I conceded. "But I'm not dead just yet."
"I can easily fix that," the Arcanine said.
I took that as my cue to brace myself for the battle. I'd been observing him, a hard task given the poor illumination, but I'd managed to get a general idea of his weight, and was confident enough that I'd be faster than him as long as he didn't use Agility. That was good, I could always take advantage of my speed. But I wouldn't let him see that just yet. I was glad that I'd battled Arcanines before, having had Blazer as my sparring partner for a while and having fought another one at the Lava Room. Of course every pokemon was different, but I could have an idea of what to expect.


Level 71 Ninetales vs. Level 71 Arcanine

It wasn't hard to take advantage of the darkness. After all, the Arcanine had already swallowed my act whole and didn't expect me to do anything before he attacked me, other than maybe try to dodge. I didn't move. I awaited his attack, with a surprise ready to stike him as soon as he closed in. With any luck, he not only wouldn't know what had hit him, but wouldn't know he'd been hit either. It worked wonders. He carelessly threw himself against me, but miscalculated the angle and hit a wall instead. I could only imagine how embarrassed he must have felt, but he just growled and said nothing. The wall moved a little when he hit it, but we both ignored it. He turned back to me. He moved fast, trying to pin me to the floor, but I Quick-Attacked out of the way. I could tell he was getting annoyed.
"I kill nasty bugs like you everyday," he said, looking around; trying - I assumed - to find me in the darkness.
"You got bored so quickly and started talking to a mosquito instead?," I laughed. He spotted me immediately.
"Ah, so you're more confident now," he said.
Why hadn't I kept my mouth shut? Was not bragging really beyond my power? I shrugged.
"I'm here for a battle," I said. "I want to finish it."
"You'll be finished before the battle is," he threatened me.
I reckoned that threat defied logic, but I knew better than to tell him that. Especially since he was already hitting me with his Extremespeed. And boy, did it hurt! I had to do something to prevent him from hitting me so hard, or else he'd end up crushing all the bones in my body. I took a chance. I knew some Arcanines were immune to Fire attacks and some others weren't, but by the looks of this one I reckoned he had to be the 'intimidating' type. So I tried a Will-o-Wisp on him. It wasn't hard to hit him, since he was pressing against my thorax.

He stepped back, only to attack me again. This time I had the feeling he'd suffered more from the attack than I had. I smiled. My deduction had been right. I caught one of the Arcanine's front legs before he could step back again, and sank my teeth into it as deeply as I could, causing the Arcanine to growl again. I opened my mouth, only to shoot a Flamethrower at my opponent's face. I would have never done that in a friendly battle, but he was a Crimson Blade. He managed to move away before he could get more than a slight burn on his muzzle, but now he was definitely enraged.

"YOU TRICKED ME!!," he roared. I smiled. Only now he had realized that I was faster than he was. "I won't let that happen again."
He released a turquoise flame. I must admit it stung more than his previous attack, but just barely.
"You're losing your touch," I told him. "Who's the old one now?"
"I see I did get you with that comment," the Arcanine chuckled.

He tried to get me with his Dragonbreath again, but I wasn't going to let him destroy my main advantage. I got over the line of fire with a Quick-Attack and planted a Slash at the Arcanine's back as I landed. Furious, the Arcanine torned around and caught my neck in his teeth. I must admit I wasn't having fun anymore. I couldn't struggle to break free. I knew that would only cause the Arcanine's teeth to pierce me further. I decided to teleport away. The room was empty aside from us, so it wouldn't be risky, except for the fact that I was revealing another wild card, and I was running out of them. Luckily for me, the burns were taking their toll on my opponent, even if he was good at hiding it. He winced as he looked around, trying to find me again. Unfortunately he spotted me quite quickly. The smell of blood must have given me away. We both smelt of our own and each other's blood at that moment. Funny how your senses become more acute after being in a dark room for a while. I wondered if I'd manage to compete with Tracker with enough training. Bad timing for such a thought; the Arcanine chased me and crunched me again, once more in my neck. This time it hurt a lot more than before. I became dizzy and felt I was about to faint, but the Arcanine went limp before me, and collapsed. I could only assume the burns from my Will-o-Wisp had taken the best of him.

I grew to level 72!

...But I also grew dizzier and dizzier, my legs becoming unable to hold me. I finally gave in, falling on the cold floor and hoping that if anyone found me, it wouldn't be a Crimson Blade. Little did I know that someone, on the other side of the false wall the Arcanine had hit in his confusion, had been listening to the battle and already knew where I was.

Lady Vulpix
28th August 2005, 07:24 AM
I've finished reading your story, Shonta. Take 15 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢
That was a strange Miltank. I wonder how she will turn out.

AntiAsh Superstar
29th August 2005, 03:28 PM
Gabi, I'll rate your story tomorrow when I've got a lunch hour to kill. In the meantime... and those of you who were around for its previous incarnations please don't blame me if it's not spot on accurate - the MTU did a very good job with the info they had so... *fanfares*

The Return of the Revenge of the Sequel to the Son of the Attack of the Maze (part 4)

Scenario
After all the terrors of the Crimson Blades it has been decided that those who fought so valiantly against the threats deserve a chance for a slightly more lighthearted training session. Henceforth, thanks to a great deal of organisation on the part of the Dragon's Guild, Lady Banette of the Mercenary Trainer's Union in particular, an old and highly successful training ground has been erected in the main square of Sector Alpha for a few weeks.

The Maze is a temporary multi-storey structure designed to test the limits of a team's resourcefulness and battling skills, it's insides taking the form of a gigantic, twisted fun house laden with devious (albeit annoying rather than dangerous) tricks and traps that require a trainer and their pokémon to work in harmony in order to get past. The specific rules are as follows:

1) A trainer's main objective upon entering the maze is to locate one of the exit doors. These lie beyond passageways, rooms and corridors that have been designed to test those traversing them. Only by besting the various obstacles will a team stand a chance of reaching the end.
2) Trainers and pokémon are allowed to use any means at their disposal to get past the traps set within the maze ? they have all been designed to hinder progress rather than cause damage and are easily fixed should, for example, your Scyther slice through a net trap. Do not hold back or you will not progress.
3) There is an exit door on each floor, each guarded by one of the MTU's employees. Once you have made it this far you have one more challenge to face ? a pokémon battle with the door's guardian, each of whom holds two pokémon (although whether or not the guardian decides to use both or not is entirely at their discretion). Only by winning are you allowed to exit. A list of opponents that can be battled on the different floors follows:

Ground Floor
L15 or under
L8 Hoothoot (+1)
L15 Squirtle (+2)

L15.5 to L30
L21 Sandshrew (+1)
L30 Spoink (+2)

L30.5 to L45
L39 Ledian (+1)
L45 Weezing (+2)

L45.5 to L60
L52 Kadabra (+1)
L60 Aggron (+2)

L60.5 to L75
L69 Dewgong (+1)
L75 Arcanine (+2)

L75.5 and above
L84 Raichu (+1)
L100 Gyarados (+2)

First Floor
L15 or under
L8 Rattata (+1)
L15 Geodude (+2)

L15.5 to L30
L21 Marill (+1)
L30 Sudowoodo (+2)

L30.5 to L45
L39 Castform (+1)
L45 Rhydon (+2)

L45.5 to L60
L52 Flareon (+1)
L60 Gardevoir (+2)

L60.5 to L75
L69 Forretress (+1)
L75 Umbreon (+2)

L75.5 and above
L84 Machamp (+1)
L100 Snorlax (+2)

Second Floor
L15 or under
L8 Chikorita (+1)
L15 Vulpix (+2)

L15.5 to L30
L21 Eevee (+1)
L30 Graveller (+2)

L30.5 to L45
L39 Flaaffy (+1)
L45 Dusclops (+2)

L45.5 to L60
L52 Shedinja (+1)
L60 Steelix (+2)

L60.5 to L75
L69 Medicham (+1)
L75 Scizor (+2)

L75.5 and above
L84 Miltank (+1)
L100 Magmar (+2)

Please note that although the maze has been designed with the overall safety of its participants in mind the Dragons Guild accepts no responsibility for any accidents caused by the carelessness of trainers whilst using the training facility.

Charizard04621
29th August 2005, 05:26 PM
Just for clarification, does that mean we only get one battle, or do we get up to three?

AntiAsh Superstar
30th August 2005, 02:38 AM
You'll only have to battle one trainer, tho as per usual you can have up to two pokémon opponents - the trainers are only guarding the exits, not the passageways between levels. The different lists for the different floors just mean you've got a bit more choice in which pokémon you think would make for an interesting opponent than normal. :)

Charizard04621
30th August 2005, 11:18 AM
Hmm, could I shift one trainer to a different floor for a second battle if I make it believable?

The Blue Avenger
30th August 2005, 02:53 PM
Can I battle more than one trainer, but only fight 2 Pokemon total?

AntiAsh Superstar
31st August 2005, 06:46 AM
First things first, there'd undoubtedly be trainers using the maze at the same time as yourselves so an encounter with other trainers than the one at the exit is totally plausible, Jeff. Karin - as long as you make it believable don't let little things like the way the maze is supposed to be set up stop you, I'll be interested to see what you have in mind. :D

Next... Gabi, a nifty little story and the interaction with Jeff's chars was very well done. I'm anxiously waiting to see what happens after that cliffhanger of an ending. Take 24 stamps.

And now for my Marius RBG. A positively standard Ade story now that Thunderblast has helped me get all my weirdness out of my system. :D

-----
It had been a tough night, all things considered. Even by Marius’ standards. First off there had been the heated debate about genetic research (the Dratini had rather quickly found a number of equally insomniac allies who had rallied to his comments of ‘I’m perfectly aware that it could be a tool for good in the correct hands and could help us immensely. However please direct me to one single instance of a researcher who both understood the consequences of what they were tampering with and didn’t become somewhat power-crazed with the knowledge’ especially when backed up with a long list of all the problems genetic research had caused – a long list that for rather obvious reasons started off with the entries ‘Reaper’ and ‘the Crimson Blades elite’. Seeing as nobody else had really stared into the face of a genetic experiment used for the causes of darkness Marius won the debate rather easily). Then there was the whole matter of remembering what he had originally booted up the computer for in the first place, a job that took several hours at best. Just as Amber had found her niche as Gabi’s research assistant, Marius had readily accepted a support role for my own tasks within the Dragons Guild; namely a mish-mash of academic and historical research and general administration. It was largely down to Marius that I was fast growing a reputation for knowing far more about ancient Ulthuan than is healthy, for he had been the one to first locate my ever-growing sources and he had been the one to actually help make sense out of their jumbled and often inconsistent information. Anyway, a good few hours of the night had been taken up with website maintenance and then just as he was about to call it a night (at about three o’clock in the morning, no less) he found himself being dragged into an instant messenger conversation that too the basic format of the following:

THUNDERBLASTTPM: Woo! Hi mr insomniac dratini! :O
MARIUSTPM: …dare I ask how you happen to be IMing me when I’m using the only computer in the house?
THUNDERBLASTTPM: As it so happens I got my own laptop now. =D
MARIUSTPM: I seriously don’t recall anyone buying you a laptop, Thunderblast…
THUDERBLASTTPM: course you wouldn’t. Kurtzwick got it me.
MARIUSTPM: Er… may I make a suggestion?
THUNDERBLASTTPM: Sure.
THUNDERBLASTTPM: As long as it isn’t ‘go to bed Thunderblast’
THUNDERBLASTTPM: Because that would be hypocritical of you, dear Marius. =P
MARIUSTPM: I was actually going to advise against utilizing the services of a kleptomaniac to acquire you *anything*, let alone a reasonably expensive piece of equipment such as a laptop. Do you happen to have considered the effects this may have on whichever poor soul has been deprived of a rather essential piece of equipment?
THUNDERBLASTTPM: No. Hush up before I grab Sumi, switch the vidcam on and transmit it to your screen. ;(

And so it went. For about an hour. So when Marius finally turned the computer off the light was already beginning to shine in from the window.
“Well I suppose I can still manage about five hours… oh, who am I fooling? Ever since Ade put a lock on the master bedroom Kass has been using me as her early morning trampoline instead of Soo.” The Dratini rolled his eyes. “Okay, another sleepless night for me I suppose…”
“Oh Pro-Plus, why can they not manufacture a pokémon version?” A voice snickered from the ceiling. Marius looked up to see his adoptive father, Milliardo peering down at him from the rafters. “You know, I gotta love Ade’s taste, he thinks these olde-worlde houses are the best and all they really do is give me a load of extra hiding places.” The Umbreon had been through a ridiculous amount over the past few months. He had been reunited with his long-lost sister only to find her a mentally distraught creature that swung rapidly between the playful cub he remembered and a remorseless, gothic ice maiden whose only real interests seemed to be crushing those in her way and pining over a lost love who had been dead for nearly two whole years. He had won the Unicorn Games but only at the expense of the end of his tail, bitten off by his opponent in the semi-finals. He had faced off against Delta, a Scyther trained by Armand DiAnnio, not once but twice, conquering each time but losing a toe in the process. And that was only the recent past. He had seen betrayal, he had seen abuse, he had seen heartbreak. And yet somehow he still carried himself like the most cocky rock star on the planet in spite of this. The sheer refusal to be even slightly damaged by events was one of his most admirable qualities in the eyes of his foster son. Well, that and his ability to take up any side of any argument you cared to give him and still bluff his way through it, that is. “So then, care to explain why you’re still awake?”
“No.” Marius stuck his tongue out. Coming from foster mother Pandora the question was always the start of a lecture but both knew Milliardo’s thoughts on parenting amounted to ‘keep the kids away from anything that will kill or permenantly disfigure them but experience will teach them more than a parental lecture ever will’. “But I do happen to be on my way to bed now, father.”
“Pff. This is early for you, I should count my blessings. Now get to bed before your mother catches you. I’ll cover for you… and keep that psychotic girlfriend of yours away until you’re ready for her.” Milliardo chuckled, watching as Marius turned a bright red.
“W… what do you mean, ‘girlfriend’?” the Dratini spluttered.
“You can fool everyone else, even yourself, but you can’t fool me,” Milliardo nodded with an unintentional wisdom as he hopped gracefully to the floor, his recent loss of a toe doing nothing to hinder his natural agility. “I know every trick in the book when it comes to denial and I gotta say you’re not even that good at it, it’s probably only you and Scarygirl’s favourite lunatic that haven’t got the message yet.” The Umbreon thought for a second. “Oh, and that moron you were IMing earlier, too. Safe to say she’d have blurted something out by now if she realized. Hell, she makes me feel positively Pearl-like in my tactfulness.” Milliardo grinned brightly. “Now get out of here before I change my mind and report you to certain antsy Houndours.” Marius rather gratefully made his exit at this point. Sure, a dysfunctional group like his had its ups and its downs. But mercifully there were far more ups than downs, and he wouldn’t have changed his situation for the world.

The morning seemed to pass more peacefully than any morning had passed in recent history. Nobody woke up stupidly early and disturbed everybody else. No phone calls or dark clouds disturbed our sleep to warn of an incoming threat. In fact, it seemed to be the most peaceful period we had ever had the good fortune to experience. Hell, even normally grouchy Scratchy seemed inclined to stick around with the rest of the group for breakfast. Not that he didn't moan constantly about everything bar the food, of course, but the fact he was there at all was an improvement over the normal behaviour of the Paras.
“So what're you guys all planning to do today? Got any exciting adventures planned?” Thunderblast yawned when she and Kasumi finally elected to show their faces after what her Growlithe girlfriend was later to describe as 'a thoroughly productive early morning'.
“I would have thought that you would have had your fill of adventure for some time,” I commented. It had hardly been any time at all since our adventures in the Shifting Isles and in the meantime the weird Raichu had kept us very busy with a soul-searching quest for her lost memories that saw us traverse for miles, encounter very strange dangers and even come face to face with a sage who had been around in the days before mankind colonised Ulthuan. Thunderblast was a law unto herself, certainly, but it still came as a surprise to learn that she didn't seem to want a break from the non-stop action for a while! “But as it happens, no, we've no adventures planned for once. Just gonna be a nice, relaxing day.”
“That's something we've not had many of lately,” Pearl noted. “I think it'll do us good to chill out for a while. None of us have really been given much of a chance to rest after the Crimson Blades fiasco and there's bound to be repercussions in the long run.” The Ninetales looked pained. It was quite obvious what she was referring to here. Rhiannon. The Jolteon had always been a rather melancholy figure; even in her hyperactive state there was a distinct aura of sadness about her, as if there were feelings bubbling under the surface that she was simply choosing to ignore. But lately she had been stuck in a depression that had all but paralysed her.
“I say we just go and kick her awake and tell her to stop being so gloomy,” Milliardo snorted, secretly wishing that the subject hadn't been mentioned. Worrying about his sister had been a hobby of his for as long as he could remember and right now he was doing far too much of it. “Stupid Rhi, I thought with Reaper dead she'd cheer up a bit.”
“I think Reaper's death is the problem,” Pearl reflected. “Remember, everything that particular project stood for is long gone and all problems associated with it have ended. I'd guess Rhiannon's feeling at a loose end right now, it must be a strange feeling to have a purpose for so long only to find yourself at a point where that purpose is no longer valid.”
“So then, we give her a new purpose,” Thunderblast commented. “How hard can it be for a sorceress to find one of those anyway? If she's really stuck she can always come help me and Kurtzwick take over the world.”
“Or help the latest trials of the new and improved product from Calebeckamonamania, the everlasting...” Beckham began but was interrupted quickly by Milliardo.
“For %&*^'s sake, what kind of crappy purposes are those?” the Umbreon snorted in the sort of tone he only reserved for people who were genuinely getting on his nerves. “She just needs to get off her ass and get out of the $&%^ing house. And to that effect... leave it to me.” With this Milliardo sank into the floor and darted through the shadows out of the room, leaving the rest of us totally perplexed.
“Milly's going to talk Rhi round?” Thunderblast asked bemusedly. “I really do want a front row seat for that one!”
“I don't know...” Pearl mused. “It may not be as bad a disaster as it sounds like it ought to be. Certainly he knows how to deal with his own sister better than any of us would. Let's just see how this one plays out.”

Oh God please don't tell me this has been in vain
I need answers to what all the waiting I've done means
You kill me, you've got some nerve but can't face your mistakes
I know what I should do but I just can't turn away

The song was pretty much jammed on repeat and the sad fact was that Rhiannon couldn't seem to summon up the energy to go over and turn it off. She couldn't even summon the energy to just blast the CD player to pieces with a well-aimed bolt of magical power. All she could do was flop uselessly on a large pink cushion and stare vacantly off into the middle distance, scenes of what had been and what should never have been playing in her head. Past glories, past agonies... it had been a turbulent ride but now it seemed to be at its end. What fate awaited her now? Oh, most certainly there were still monsters to be defeated and demons to battle but... anyone could have fought them. In short, Rhiannon had ran out of inspiration for her ongoing atonement, her ideas for making her peace with the world run dry.
“I don't get you.” Rhiannon had been so preoccupied with her own thoughts that she had hardly noticed Milliardo sneak up on her with a weary glower upon his face. “I'm your ^*&$ing brother and I've never understood you. Pandora... her I can understand, when she gets moody you know it's not by choice, but you... you know something? Sometimes I think you actually like to be unhappy, it's like you're not complete if you don't have something to dwell on. So why so miserable now, Rhi? Found some evil omen that could spell disaster for us all? Or are you just sulking because for once you don't have an excuse to suppress the side of you that actually likes to have fun occasionally instead of staying up all night staring at the stars?”
“We...” The words stung more than Rhiannon would have liked to admit. “We have no business here any longer. Our job is done.”
“Oh for $%^^'s sake!” Milliardo rolled his eyes. “Well at least you've not totally frozen up on me again, Rhi. I'm too busy being a trans-province superstar to have the time to bathe you and feed you like I used to the last time you spaced out on me. So your job's done, you say? Get another one then! Jeez, how hard can it be for a... for a... what did you say you specialised in again? Oh it doesn't matter, you can do weird things with vortexes and stuff and very few can so I think you'd hardly be stuck for things to do.”
“We specialise in abjuration and alteration magics if you must know,” Rhiannon said with a weak smile. “You're quite right, of course, it's just that... well, at the risk of admitting our weakness we had a game plan for all points up to facing Reaper but beyond that we've come unstuck.” The Jolteon smiled more broadly. “For now, we suppose, a well-earned break is in order.” All of a sudden Rhiannon's eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped forward.
“Rhi?” Milliardo couldn't even pretend to keep the panic out of his voice but before he could aid his fallen sister she had slowly staggered upright again and fixed him with a decidedly confused look.
“Er... hi bro,” the Jolteon said sheepishly. “Sorry about us being such a misery guts, she didn't quite get that she could actually take a break now Reaper's out of the way. Trust my luck. I'm sharing a body with someone who's ruthless, compassionless and a workaholic.” Here Rhiannon made a face. “Ah well. Time we can rest for a bit, eh?”
“Rest?” Milliardo found it hard not to laugh. “Rhi, you don't know the meaning of the word. You're the most annoyingly hyperactive creature I know and trust me, you beat off some pretty stiff competition for that accolade.”
“Aw, but you love me really, right?” Rhiannon grinned, pouncing playfully at her brother only for him to sidestep neatly and leave her crashing to the floor.
“Give it up, Rhi,” the Umbreon warned. “You've never been able to catch me off guard and you never will.”
“Ah, but I can catch you, I'm much faster than you now!”
“True, but if you want to catch me...” Here Milliardo sank into the nearest shadow. “...you're going to have to find me first.” Cackling evilly the Umbreon made his escape, his infuriated sister hot on his heels. He would have never admitted to enjoying playing like this in public, of course. But then even cynical smart-asses like Milliardo needed to goof off occasionally.

“You will go fetch me some biscuits.”
“I will?”
“Yes. You will.” Yet again Thunderblast waver a front paw mysteriously in front of her subject but the hapless Wartortle in front of her just seemed to grow all the more confused.
“Give it up, Thunderblast,” Pandora yawned from the other side of the room. “Not even your power can let you copy something you saw in a film.”
“May I ask what the hell is going on?” Milliardo asked, entering the room once he was satisfied that he had suitably confused Rhiannon. “Or do I not want to know?”
“Thunderblast's got it into her head that if she masters the Jedi mind trick it's going to make her future criminal empire with her new invisible Dratini friend so much easier to establish.” Pandora rolled her eyes. “At least that's how she explained it to me. Personally I think it's one more step down that slippery slope she's been on ever since we first met her. One day she's going to stop making any sense at all.”
“That day happened ages ago.” The Umbreon rolled his eyes before turning to Thunderblast. “Foolish, you are, if you think this will work. A subject with a brain to influence, you need, or fail, you surely will.” A sudden shiver passed down Milliardo's spine as a terrible feeling of déja vu passed over him. He became quite certain that he had already had this conversation, almost word for word, with somebody else in the murky past. “Give it up, moron. Becks has no mind to begin with and besides which you're making me do crap Yoda impressions.”
“Nobody said you had to do crap Yoda impressions,” the Raichu huffed sulkily. “Anyway, let me give it one more try... Becks you will get me a double vodka and tonic.”
“Oh, okay!” the Wartortle beamed brightly, scuttling off to fetch drinks.
“Ha! Success!”
“That doesn't count.” Milliardo rolled his eyes. “Come back and show me when you've got him to not ply everyone with drinks.” The Umbreon turned his attention to the rest of the assembled group. As ever, it seemed to be one of those lazy days where nobody could think of anything constructive to do. This usually seemed to happen when I had booked a day off work and Soo hadn't. The removal of her presence made things so much... quieter. “So do we have any plans?”
“Could always head over ta the Guild barracks an' train a bit, dude,” Katnip suggested.
“Yeah!” Thunderblast beamed. “To the barracks!”
“No...” Milliardo rolled his eyes and waved a paw in front of the Raichu's eyes. “You do not need any more encouragement in your latest half-baked scheme.”
“I thought Thunderblast's schemes didn't even count as even partially baked,” Pandora chuckled. “Anyway, nice idea if you happen to be Milliardo and Katnip but what about the rest of us? You know, those who don't have more testosterone than sense?”
“I don't know...” I mused. “A training session may not be a bad idea. I mean, when was the last time we had a chance to do that without it ending up as a battle to the death?”
“Around Christmas last year, wasn't it?” Thunderblast commented with unhelpful accuracy, accepting the double vodka and tonic she had ordered moments ago.
“Something like that.” I agreed. “Although I was thinking heading over to the MTU building and seeing if Gina's up for a sparring session rather than using the Guild facilities. I get this horrible feeling that if we did that then we'd just get distracted. Still doesn't help decide who I'd train, though.”
“I've got an amazing idea, Ade,” Milliardo commented. “Stop trying to plan things so far ahead, just go there and choose who you're going to send into battle after the battle's already been arranged. You know, like most normal trainers do?”
“It's an idea I guess,” I conceded. “Okay, whoever thinks this is a good idea come with me. The rest of you... oh, why am I even giving the rest of you orders? Just go about doing whatever it is you do behind my back.”
“Personally I reckon you'd be surprised,” Milliardo chuckled. “Last time your back was turned Megan came up with a concept for an ecologically friendly and renewable energy source that was efficient enough to power all of Ulthuan.”
“I did?” my Marill asked, confused. “Funny, I really don't remember doing that and you'd think I'd remember something that important, wouldn't you? Then again I remember the last important thing I had to remember, I forgot what that was and come to think of it I've still forgotten what it was so either it couldn't have been important at all or my memory's really bad and it can't be my memory because I can still remember my name and where I live... well, almost. What was the name of our street again?”
“Megan, you're a buffoon.” Milliardo rolled his eyes.
“Really? That's an odd name, isn't it? Meganyoureabuffoon Street... no wonder I can never remember it...”
“Ade! We're going out training! Now!” Almost instantaneously my Umbreon began to nudge me out of the door, hardly so much as giving me a chance to grab my keys or my wallet. “Even your friend the slobby mercenary and her schizophrenic Tyranitar would be better company than this!” It was hard to argue with Milliardo as nastily as he could put things at times. Especially seeing as his recent battles had left the Umbreon physically tough enough to jostle me around with relative ease. I just had to go with the flow. It was far easier than arguing with the world's most stubborn Umbreon, after all. And we did need to get a move on if we didn't want to waste the day.

“Gina, what the hell's going on here?” To say the sight that greeted me upon my arrival at the headquarters of the Mercenary Trainer's Union, the branch of the Dragon's Guild responsible for the overseeing of all training exercises and the provision of pokémon trainers for situations that required them, was a surprise was an understatement. The large courtyard that led up to the modern-looking skyscraper-like building was a total mess of construction machines that seemed to be erecting a large temporary structure on wheels, the framework for at least a three-story building already in place.
“Hi Ade!” My good friend and sparring partner, the sassy, shortsighted and ridiculously disorganised Gina Williamson, greeted me with an overly friendly wave. “Coming along nicely, isn't it?”
“Er... sure. What is it?”
“Well the Guild was adamant that everyone who participated in the war against the Crimson Blades deserved a fun training exercise as a bit of a break from all the stress they've been having to deal with. So as per usual they passed the buck on to our department. You ought to have seen Lady Banette over the past week or two, she was making your Lady Ninetales seem positively easygoing!”
“I find that rather hard to believe, Gina,” I commented. The head of the MTU, from my few encounters with her, had always struck me as the sort of person who kept their head no matter what. How could she have been a leader of mercenaries otherwise? Whereas on the other hand I had forgotten the last time I had seen my immediate superior, Lady Ninetales, in anything other than a state of total stress.
“Okay, so I was exaggerating but things have been pretty hectic around here. We wanted to pull out all the stops and give you guys something that'd be both really entertaining and useful as well. So we looked back at the past for some inspiration and...”
“And?”
“And I think you especially will be pretty impressed by what we'll be providing you with.” The mercenary chuckled, pushing her oversized circular spectacles up her thin nose. “But I can;t say any more than that. It's a secret.”
“Ugh, if I hear that phrase one more time, I'll...” Rhiannon began from behind me.
“You'll what?” asked the red-ruffed Eevee beside her that had attached itself to our group the instant we stepped out of the front door.
“I'll do something I regret!” At this point my Jolteon began to chase her tormentor around and around the construction site. I sighed deeply. The whole Rhiannon and Enigma thing was getting to be a bit of a problem. The Eevee was, apparently, under orders to keep an eye on Rhiannon until the instability caused by Reaper's attempts to destroy the realm had subsided. Which would have been fine if she wasn't possessed of a rather Milliardo-like tendency to make a game out of getting on everyone's nerves.
“You have a new pokémon?” Gina asked.
“No,” I sighed. “Let's just say certain pokémon of certain other Guild members don't trust certain members of my own team and have been getting in the way ever since the whole Crimson Blades thing.” Best to leave out the bits about Enigma being a top-class spy and demon hunter. And the bits about Rhiannon knowing black magic. At least until I had no other choice. “Anyway, I was wondering if you were busy at the minute, Gina?”
“Why, going to ask me out for lunch?” she giggled. “Whatever would your fiancée say?”
“She said enough on the subject the first time Ade mentioned you,” Milliardo smirked. The group I had brought with me was small – Milliardo, Rhiannon, Marius, Katnip, Sindel and Ryo-Ohki – but it was certainly loud! “Talk about insecurity! Really, as if anyone other than Scarygirl would be interested in Ade...”
“Hush,” I snapped, tapping my Umbreon with a booted foot. He probably had a point – your average female tended not to go for 'eccentric' and it was a miracle I had chanced upon one of the few people who accepted me wholly – but there was no need to put it so harshly! “Actually I'd rather go with the whole 'let's have a friendly pokémon battle like we used to do before the Blades turned up' thing if you've time.”
“Well let me see here...” Gina pondered upon this for a moment, during which time a Tyrannitar without any inch of the ferocious glare of the species raced up to her side.
“Gina-sama I...” All of a sudden the pokémon noticed my little group. “Aiee, so sorry! Konnichi-wa, Ade-san!”
“Heya, Fushouka,” I smiled, petting Gina's pokémon on the shoulder. Fushouka was actually taller than I was but her attitude was so docile that it was easy to forget that she was a member of a notoriously ferocious species. Easy to forget, too, that she was also prone to panic attacks and refused to accept the death of her best friend to such a degree that she carried his stuffed body around like a favourite doll. Even now she was clasping tightly to the preserved Minun in a way that Rhiannon's more morbid side would have no doubt had the utmost empathy with. I had often tried to broach the subject of getting the Tyrannitar some help with Gina, but she would have none of it.
“Imagine having some random shrink come along and tell you the one thing you cling to in this world is no good for you and take it away,” she had scoffed. “I know it would be for the best in the long run but I'm not strong enough to watch the stages before her healing. Call me selfish if you like but I'd be in there attacking the doctors on her behalf because I know it wouldn't be in her nature to do that herself, just because I wouldn't be able to see her have to face such a painful truth. She's not doing any harm, anyway.” I had given up at this point, understanding where Gina was coming from only too well. Or rather, with the situation having been put in this way, understanding Fushouka's point of view all of a sudden. I was a most obsessive writer and artist in my spare time. What would I have done if someone had tried to tell me that the fantasies I submerged myself in during the evenings were harming my health and had to be taken away? It would have killed me. Even if I had accepted their wisdom I would have been broken by the thought of what they wanted me to become. So from that point I didn't dare broach the subject again.
“So how about that training session?” I pressed my dark blue haired friend once more. “I'm at a loss for things to do and I don't see you having to operate any heavy machinery at the minute...”
“Good point, Ade,” Gina finally conceded. “Shall we head up to the training hall then? Actually, shall we head up to one of the many training halls? Since we rebuilt the building we figured we ought to improve it so... you know, we have a terrain for every elemental type now? Better figure out who you want to use before we pick a room, really, if you want this to be of most benefit.” I looked at the pokémon who had shown an interest in training. Sindel and Ryo-Ohki, I believed, had only tagged along to get out of the house. Milliardo seemed to have recovered from his battle with the Blades Scyther, Delta, but then again I didn't wish to push him before he was truly ready. Rhiannon was still too busy trying to lose the annoyingly persistant Enigma to worry about a battle. And if I let Katnip battle every time he wanted to he would have been the Raticate equivalent of the legendary Dragonite Indraugnir by now but nobody else would have even seen combat. So that left...
“Marius,” I said finally. “I think it time I trained Marius some more.”
“Personally I happen to be in complete agreement with you, Ade,” my Dratini commented dryly. “I gain woefully little practical experience to test that which I have studied in the Guild's library. And whilst I cannot blame you seeing as you have rather obviously had things of far greater magnitude to concern yourself with I do admit to being rather relieved at having a training session now that events have quieted down.”
“Evidently Marius agrees with me,” I sighed, rolling my eyes. The Dratini was a most logical, scientific thinker but occasionally he did have moments where it was painfully obvious who had raised him. The stubbornness, the tendency to speak his mind no matter what, they were traits picked up from my two favourite Dark types without a doubt. “So then, have a room in mind?”
“Hmm...” Gina thought for a moment. “I might have a good one for him, actually. Happen to remember a training room in the Dragon Games called 'The Room of Impenetrable Darkness'?”
“Er...” I really didn't like the sound of that one!
“Course you do. It's the perfect training ground for one who puts brain over brawn because it adds a whole bunch of novel problems for them to overcome. Come on, let me jog your memory.”

When we finally arrived at the room part of me – a very large part, in fact – wished we hadn't have bothered. The instant I alighted my eyes upon the room I remembered it with an almost devastating clarity. A small, darkened room designed to cut off two very important links to a pokémon. Its sight, which was hampered by both a lack of illumination and by thick, swirling mists. And its links with its trainer. The room was soundproof, had no windows from which the combatant could see its trainer and was also coated with a substance that impaired psychic communication. At least it was according to Gina.
“It's the ultimate in training a pokémon to fight using senses other than sight,” the mercenary explained. “The battler can't see its opponent, nor can it rely on its trainer to point it out. It's all alone with its own instincts to guide it.”
“Very snazzy,” I commented dryly. It brought back unpleasant memories. I didn't really enjoy the sense of helplessness this room brought with it; the last time I had watched Pearl square off against a Houndoom named Lucifer. Pearl had won easily enough, of course; it was the bitter aftertaste of realising later we had just had a brush with Pandora's father, a creature my Houndour reviled above all others, that had tainted the scenario somewhat. Ever since learning of that fact I couldn't help but worry that the whole concept was cursed somehow. “Marius, you okay with this?”
“But of course,” my Dratini smiled broadly. “You forget, I happen to have trained extensively in using the proverbial sixth sense to anticipate my opponent's actions. Let me in there.”
“As you like.” I watched as my Dratini slithered inside a small hatch that let inside the isolated room. “So what is he going to be facing?” I asked Gina.
“Nothing too taxing,” came the good-natured reply. “The room itself provides more than enough difficulties. He's up against a Farfetch'd.” Without another word she turned to a row of switches, flipped a few of the more brightly coloured ones and waited for a hidden monitor to flicker into life. There, thanks to the wonders of night vision technology, we could see Marius sat meditating in the very centre of the room, his opponent approaching cautiously from a hatchway in the opposite side. All we could do was watch and see how the battle unfolded.

FIGHT!!! L9 Dratini v L9 Farfetch'd!

Contrary to what it appeared from the outside there was just enough light inside the training room to see by. Just. So when the Farfetch'd attacked from the side with a loud cry Marius wasn't totally surprised. True, he hadn't the chance to avoid the attack and was pecked rather hard on the top of the skull for his sloth, but at least he saw it. And that was more than he had been expecting, at least.
“No time for civilities, hm?” Marius swiftly ran through all of the options available to him. To be honest this could have been an easy victory had he the inclination to make it one. A good Shock Wave or two would have taken his foe down with ease. But that would have been of no benefit to his training. And, more to the point, not nearly as much fun as trying to get by without using any electrical attacks at all. “That's perfectly acceptable to me!” Abruptly the Dratini darted forward before his opponent could fly out of range, striking hard with a speed almost impossible to follow. His opponent tumbled to the floor with a cry of surprise and pain. Pressing home his advantage, Marius moved over to the Flying type and attempted to coil around it. The Farfetch'd wasn't so badly injured that it was willing to stand idly by and let this happen, however. Very quickly it flapped out of the range of the Wrap attack and hovered in midair, jeering down at Marius with a rather mean expression on its face.
“Haha, can't get me now, eh?” the bird cawed, clearly enjoying its advantageous position. “You can't get at me while I'm up here!”
“I wouldn't particularly like to put money on that assumption,” Marius shot back. “You underestimate the dragon races.”
“A dragon? You? Ha! You're more like a big, fat, juicy worm!” Suddenly Marius' opponent divebombed him from above, striking him with another hard Peck to the head and then swooping back up the the furthest corner it could reach. A cowardly tactic, maybe, but Marius had to admit it was one that was proving successful so far. “I knew there was a reason I got up early today! It's just proving that the early bird gets the worm!” Here the Farfetch'd laughed, a rather grating guffaw that made it harder and harder for Marius to restrain himself from just zapping the pokémon on the spot. Mercifully for his opponent the Dratini was a far less vindictive fighter than his adoptive father and simply replied with a cold smirk.
“If you're so fond of sayings then allow me to introduce you to another that happens to be in common parlance,” Marius commented. “Have you ever heard of the phrase 'the worm has turned'?” Abruptly he fired a thick stream of flame from his mouth in the direction of the shadows, singing his opponent's feathers and causing it to squawk in alarm, beating at the burnt area with its traditional leek in an attempt to put out a small fire that had ignited there. It provided all the illumination that Marius needed to get a decent strike on the Farfetch'd. All of sudden he darted forward once more colliding hard with the panicking pokémon before it had so much as registered that he had moved. The move severely weakened his opponent, causing it to stagger momentarily and leave itself open for one more attack. Only now, with the Farfetch'd on the ropes, did Marius unleash the one attack he knew that was certain to silence any Flying type. Sparks began to fly from his body after a minimal amount of concentration, sparks that snaked and curved their way towards the other pokémon until they struck with pinpoint accuracy. The Farfetch'd gave one short, startled cry of that was more surprise than pain and then slumped to one side, the battle having taken its toll. Without a word Marius made his way out of the arena and to his awaiting companions.
“Nice one, Marius!” I grinned, petting my Dratini as he emerged.
“It was hardly a challenge, Ade,” came the complained response. Small wonder, really. When you thought about the moves Marius actually had mastered – Flamethrower, Shock Wave, Extremespeed and many others - he was a far heavier hitter than many of his age, in fact it must have taken great effort on his part to make the battle last as long as it did. “But it served its purpose, I think.” Little did the Dratini know that this one inconsequential battle had helped him more than he would ever know. For the fight had unlocked a secret within him, a new technique that he wouldn't realise he even possessed until much later. Right now he just considered it a good workout. And that was enough for him.

Marius wins!
Marius grew to L10!
Marius learned Dragonbreath!

“Hm...” It was traditional for Gina to give me a summary as to how my pokémon had performed at the end of a battle but right now she seemed a little stumped, scratching her head with manicured nails that indicated that she hadn't seen any real action since the final days of the Crimson Blades. “That's an odd one. Your Dratini wiped the floor with our Farfetch'd but he really seemed to be struggling to prolong the battle. I'll give you credit, Marius, you certainly know how to get the most out of a training session but...”
“But?” I queried.
“But nothing,” Gina sighed finally. “That's twice you've used him to battle against me and I still don't think for a minute I've seen him give the fight his all. I'll have to get a stronger pokémon next time you threaten me with a Dratini.”
“It's obviously because he was raised by such prize-winning parents,” Milliardo beamed.
“I haven't won any prizes,” Pandora commented.
“Give it time, darling,” the Umbreon grinned by way of response. “You're easily of the right standard.” Gently he leaned into Pandora and added quietly into her ear, “Besides, you've got the most difficult to win prize of them all. My heart.” Pandora blushed deeply. Evidently Milliardo's tongue could be put to use in creating things other than savage put downs and cheesy witticisms!
“Anyway, thanks for that, Gina,” I extended my hand and my friend shook it warmly. “Been a long time since we've been able to take things easy and just have a friendly battle without any more sinister reasons for training.” Oh, how true that was! The Crimson Blades had been a constant terror for almost a year, casting a sinister shadow over everything that happened in Ulthuan no matter how pleasant. How could one truly have relaxed when living in constant fear of the bombings and the shootings? How could one have been at ease when there was a constant threat of one's hometown being razed to the ground by arcane magics? No, the elimination of the Blades was like lifting a heavy weight from the realm, one that had threatened to drag it down the same dark paths that had seen the destruction of those who inhabited Ulthuan before mankind. And certainly, there were still a few loose ends that a certain few may have worried about – Reaper's eventual conquerer Abbadon was still at large and still totally unrepentant for the crimes he had committed on the path towards his goal, for a start, and then there was the small matter of the other of Rhiannon's magical cohorts, Alto, having aligned himself with the arcane and sinister Order of the Dragon who seemed to have almost unlimited jurisdiction when it came to eliminating anything they saw as a threat to the realm. But even so, in spite of the few little problems, these were still days of great rejoicing. These were still days in which it truly felt good to be alive. “See you again soon, I hope.”
“Oh don't worry,” Gina smiled with a mysterious twinkle in her eye. “I reckon you'll be seeing me a lot sooner than you think. Just you wait until we get this training arena finished. It'll knock your socks off.” I had no idea what she meant by that. As with a lot of things that happened in Ulthuan, I resigned myself to just having to wait and see.

Charizard04621
1st September 2005, 08:05 AM
Hmmm... I'd like an extension for this scenario, just in case. I want to write it as soon as possible, but I'm not sure when I'll have the time. "Outside reading books" suck. Especially when they're all about the U.S. Constitution.

Lady Vulpix
3rd September 2005, 11:35 AM
Ade: that was a nice story. Some parts of it were very funny. Now come the random facts and notes:
1.- We both have research assistants with a Steel type Hidden Power; but common sense would tell it doesn't mean anything.
2.- It's good to know I'm not the only one who thinks Enigma enjoys being annoying.
3.- I was a bit confused by the comments about the old training hall. Wasn't there more than one training room in the past? I recall training in an especially designed room that resembled the impenetrable mountains.
4.- As a matter of fact, all the interesting guys I know are at least a bit eccentric. What's with people always underestimating themselves?
Take 21 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

AntiAsh Superstar
3rd September 2005, 07:30 PM
There were loads of Dragon Games training grounds... sorry if the story made it sound like Gina thought that was the only one... only title I remember other than the room I used was the Domain of the Whistling Winds tho weren't there fire, grass, fighting and water elemental ones too? Plus all those used before the other tournaments. PM me the original training ground list (I know you must have it somehwere given the way you summoned it out of nowhere before the Unicorn Games...) and I'll make some space for it on the Dragons Guild site, might be useful for people struggling for RBG ideas if we accept the idea of the MTU establishing the training rooms in their headquarters. :)

btw, just to confirm, Karin gets an extention. ^_^

Lady Vulpix
4th September 2005, 07:30 AM
Oh, sorry. I guess I'll never get used to people asking for extensions so early.

I've sent you a PM with the names of all the rooms at the Training Grounds.

Lady Vulpix
5th September 2005, 06:23 PM
At last, here's my conclusion to the previous scenario! Thanks to Amy and Jeff for their contributions to this story. Brace yourselves for... well, not a climatic battle, but a wide range of emotions.

<Amber's POV>

I reached the entrance of the Crimson Blades' headquarters accompanied by a large group of pokemon and trainers. Ade was leading the way, while most of us waited behind him for our cue to jump into battle or do whatever we could to bring the Blades down. Since Gabi wasn't with us, I stood by Amy's side, along with my friends and my mum. Rose took the form of an Ivysaur upon arriving on the island, as it was the form she was most comfortable with. I still couldn't understand why, in all the time we'd spent together at Paradise Valley, she had never told me she was a Ditto. Was she afraid that I would bother her too much with my questions? She couldn't have thought my view of her would have changed; she'd seen me play with Dittos in the valley many times, and she knew me better than to think I'd be prejudiced because of someone's species. After all, both my parents were living proof that stereotypes can be wrong, or at least not match everyone. And so was I. I really couldn't understand her. Or was it because she'd thought I was too young to understand back then? At least now, after all these years, she had decided to trust me. Sylvan hadn't told me either. She was the last being in the world I expected to keep secrets from me. But then again, it wasn't her own secret; it was her mother's. If my mum asked me to keep a secret, I would ask her why (which Sylvan might not have done, especially as a child), but if I saw it was important for her, I would keep it, even from my closest friends if it was necessary. So I couldn't blame Sylvan after all. Though now I understood why she'd snapped when Milliardo made a rude comment about Dittos after we met Kiva, Tsunami's daughter.

Caledor stayed as close to Kiara as he could while we walked. I would have done the same if I'd had a partner. The first group of Crimson Blades came to greet us quite soon, and Ade called for everyone who could use Stun Spore to form a barricade. Sylvan and her parents went ahead, along with Ventura, Kovu (who used Mimic to aid the group), Lily and other pokemon I couldn't identify through the cloud of spores that soon filled the air around them. The rest of us stayed behind.

"I was expecting chaos, but not so soon. What should we do?," asked Caledor.
"I guess we make do the best we can under these circumstances," Kiara replied, evidently as clueless as everyone else.
"I don't think it will be long before some Crimson Blades can breach the barrier. Maybe we should go ahead and try to strike first," I suggested.
I looked at my mother, and she nodded in approval and said she'd go with me.

We both flew over the crowd, avoiding the spores, and were met by a pair of Altarias who were shaking their wings, apparently trying to blow the spores to our side. They didn't seem to be succeeding. I heard Sweetie say something about going with Amy, and then a told woman with a distasteful red hair dye walked towards the Altarias and issued a command.
"It's not working. Take down the Charizards and make room for Briar to walk through."
I had no idea who or what this Briar was, but Kiara and Caledor immediatly started making plans to go ahead and stop him, while Amy and Sweetie were already walking past the extreme of the barricade and trying to figure out what we were up against, so I focused on stopping the Charizards from following their orders, namely taking me and my mother down.


Here's where the participants of the battles would normally go, but this is too chaotic to name them just yet.

My mum and I charged forward, slashing the Altarias with our claws before they could hit us. The one my mum was facing retaliated with a Take Down, taking the command literally. The other, however, was not so obedient. At the moment I turned to look, it flew past me and attacked Caledor instead, pinning him to the floor. I wasted no time and chased it, but as I dove down a large Venusaur made its way through the opening I had just left. Caledor hit the Altaria with a Psychic attack, probably the first thing that came to his mind while the blue bird was pressing against his body. At that moment I reached the Altaria, having imbued my claws in draconic power, and scratched its back with them, trying to get its attention back to me. At the same time I heard the sound of a Dragonbreath, and deduced my mum was using it against her opponent. I'd seen her use it before, thought the last time it had been an evil spirit taking control of her body and using it against me. I preferred not to think of that, especially not at that time.

Below us, the Venusaur had made its way towards Amy and Sweetie, and sprayed them with a dose of Sleep Powder. I was worried when I saw my friends fall asleep in the middle of the battlefield, but I should have been more focused on my own battle, as my opponent had just mirrored my Dragon Claw and managed to deal a painful blow on me. My mother wasn't faring much better, her opponent having used Take Down on her again.

Kiara turned quickly to Caledor. "Caledor, can you use a fire attack on me? It doesn't matter which one."
"Sure!," the Espeon acceded, glowing red and shooting a Flamethrower at her.
Kiara thanked him before running ahead and placing herself between the Venusaur and her sleeping trainer and teammate.
"Anytime," Caledor replied.

This time, the glowing Espeon had caught not only my attention, but also my opponent's. It tried to attack him, but I caught it with another Dragon Claw before it could complete its turn. It gave a loud shriek, and fell to the floor, leaving Caledor just enough time to move away.

Caledor and I both grew to level 53!

But the fighting went on around us. Rose had left the Stun Spore group to aid my mother. While my mum shot another Dragonbreath, Sylvan's threw rocks at the Altaria. I'd seen her husband do that once, and that was when I first heard about Hidden Power. As I watched, I saw multiple images of Kiara appear all around the Venuraur and trap it in a Fire Spin. He retaliated by shooting leaves in all directions, which flew past the fiery tornado, ripping through Kiara's clones and slamming into her. It was then that the remaining Altaria hit Rose with a quick Aerial Ace. The impact was worse than I'd expected, even considering the type advantage. Rose fell on her back, and soon began to lose her shape, turning into a pink blob and remaining on the floor. This angered my mother, who put even more energy into her following Dragonbreath. That was more than the Altaria could take, and it, too, collapsed.

Kiara was still bettling the Venusaur, presumably Briar, and Caledor was watching her. But I couldn't just stay there and watch. I had to check on Rose, try to help her. My mum and I had both sustained injuries, but not nearly as bad. Rock and Sylvan were caught in the barricade, and were now invisible through the cloud of spores. I doubted they even knew what had happened. We held the Ditto, unsure of how to help her. Gabi knew several ways of healing, but I hadn't learnt as many, only some basic first aids. I made a mental note to ask her to teach me something else. So, I did what I could with what I had, only my hands and my mouth, being careful not to hurt her with my claws. Behind me I could hear Caledor and Kiara talking, which meant Kiara's battle had ended well. Caledor asked where the woman who commanded our attackers was. I turned to look for a moment, but saw no signs of her. And Kiara realized that Yana was missing as well. Our problems were far from over, but at least all the Blades seemed occupied, allowing us the chance to tend to Rose. Kovu went to look for his missing teammate, while Caledor stayed to look after Kiara.

Not long afterwards, the barrier formed by the Stun Spore brigade was broken, most pokemon engaged in battles all over the place. That was when Sylvan and her father noticed us and came rushing to our side. Ventura headed our way as well, but only to look at us for a few moments. Then she sighed and teleported away. I thought I saw a tear slide down from one of her eyes, but I might be mistaken. For all I knew, she might not be physically capable of crying.

After lying down a few minutes, Kiara sat up, leaning against Caledor. At that moment Amy and Sweetie began to wake up.
Caledor smiled at the two. "Is everyone alright? Did you sleep well, ladies?"
"Yeah, I'm all right," Amy replied, rubbing her head.
"I'm okay as well. How long were we out?," Sweetie shook her body, trying to get it to fully respond again.
"I can't tell precisely, but I'd say more than a few minutes," Caledor responded.

As Amy and the Espeons spoke, Rock decided to try a new approach, and released some Sweet Scent into the air. It reminded me a lot of the smell of flowers back home. In my old home, I mean. Rose's body slowly began to move.
"It's working! She's coming to her senses!," Sylvan exclaimed.
I watched as the Ditto began to open her eyes. She smiled when she saw her husband and daughter tending to her. She spoke in a weak, but happy tone.
"What a precious sight to wake up to!"
"How do you feel?," her daughter asked her.
"I've been better, but I'm fine knowing you're alright. Sorry I couldn't helpmore, I underestimated the strength of that Altaria."
"You did help me," my mother assured. "It took only one blow to bring her down after that."
Rose took another look at Rock and turned into an Ivysaur again, but her legs were too weak to hold her, and she fell on her stomach.
"Don't strain yourself too much," Rock advised her. "We'll wait here until you're feeling better, or until we can take you somewhere safe."

The battles went on for a long time, but we didn't move. We stayed there to guard the spot where Rose was resting until she was strong enough to walk again. Caledor helped us deviate a few attacks that came our way. We were surrounded by chaos, but we were together. And, slowly but steadily, the Dragon Tamers began to prevail. Ventura returned after a while, and so did Kovu and Yana. It turned out Aiyana had been caught in a battle against a Breloom. Some time later, Gabi came in through the front door, followed by Lagi, and announced the war was over.

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<Hero's POV>

I thought I heard voices around me, but I couldn't be sure. All I was sure about was that I wanted the day to end. I needed to rest, to fall into the warm darkness and let it embrace me. But then I felt something being poured down my throat. I couldn't even taste it, so bad was my condition. As I swallowed I began to feel pain; first a general pain all over my body, and then as I gained more focus, it settled on my neck and ribs. I felt the humid coldness of the floor and remembered where I was lying. I opened my eyes, and saw the face of another male Ninetales with his sight fixed on me.

"Hero, you scared us! What happened?," Ray -now I recognized him- asked me.
"Did anyone get the license plate of that Arcanine?," I tried to joke, my body still aching, though not as badly as a few moments earlier.
"We don't need to. It's right over there," Groviglio gestured to a large pile of fur lying close to me.

There was more light in the room now. The false wall had been opened, and my old friends, as well as Jeff and his team, and a Chansey, were gathered around me. I hated to be seen by them in that state, but there was nothing I could do about it. I rolled over and made an effort to stand up. Luckily, it worked. At least I still had some dignity left.

"It seems he's out cold," Lagi commented. "What happened?"
"He tried to kill me, and had he sunk his teeth a bit deeper down my neck he would have managed it."
My response was met by expressions of disgust from Maza and Groviglio.
"Well, take it easy, then, champ," the Kadabra told me.
"I will, but I hate it," I sighed.

For a moment the Chansey looked like it was melting. It lost its shape and shrank down to the size of a Ditto. I recognized Cambiamente, though I had no idea how he had managed to assume the previous form.
"Hey, it could be worse," he said. "You could still be unconscious."
"Or he could still be on the loose," I agreed. "What shall we do with him? Keep him here until someone kicks DiAnnio's butt and the police comes in?"
"Well, what's the alternative?," asked Kurtzwick.
"I can't think of any alternative," said Iael. "At least none that I wouldn't regret once I've cooled down."
"On the other hand, if he wakes up before this chaos is settled out, he could come seeking you guys out," Cam pointed out.
"What if we paralyze him? Even if he does wake back up, he wouldn't be able to go far," suggested Kurtzwick.
"I doubt he'll be willing to challenge all of us. I suggest we stick together from now on," Lagi recommended.
"That sounds like a very good idea," Jeff agreed.
"Speaking of sticking together... What happened to the crazy Noctowl and her crew?," I asked, noticing their absence.
"They didn't come in with us," said Jeff.
"Gail is not crazy, she's just had bad experiences," Lagi defended her friend.
"Her name is GAIL?!," I exclaimed.
"A twist of fate, isn't it?," Solitude commented. It was the first time I'd heard her speak since we took off.
"Whoever named her had a horrible ear for puns," said Groviglio.
"A human must have given her that name. That would explain why she hates them," I joked. "But seriously... Gail and Lagi..."
"I wonder if they're still waiting for us, or if they wandered off on their own..." said Maza, ignoring our comments.
"There's no time for insensitive puns," Lagi lectured me.
"Excuse me? Insensitive? I merely pointed out that it could be construed as a pun," Groviglio jumped in his own defense in a priceless scene. "Who said I was making fun of her?"
"I was talking to Hero," Lagi told him.
Maza chuckled. "Nice one, Grove. Now let's see if you can get your other foot in your mouth."
"I bet he thinks he has a trademark," I commented, but Lagi glared at me immediately. "Ok, ok! I just needed to release some tension. I've had a tough battle, you know."
"Um, speaking of... Gail, maybe we ought to meet back up with them?," Maza suggested.
"I know. But we need to go," Lagi told me. She then turned to Maza. "Yes, they're still waiting for us, but they're not going to wait for much longer."
"Um, maybe we could Teleport back out instead of having to trek back through this building," the Kadabra proposed.
"I'm not sure if I can do that right now. I'm not so good at teleporting yet," I admitted.
"But I can at least Teleport some of you guys out, and then come back for the rest," Maza offered.
"That sounds like a plan," agreed Ray.
"Right, okay then! I'll Teleport my comrades out first, and I'll be right back in a flash."

Maza, Jeff, Groviglio and Kurtzwick disappeared in the blink of an eye.
"I hope we don't run into trouble while we look for your friends," Firestar told Lagi.
"They seem to be safe right now," Lagi replied. "Albeit a bit confused."
"How do you know that?"
But before Lagi could answer the princess's question, Maza came back for the rest of us.
"Okay, we ready?," the Kadabra asked, but gave us no time to respond. "Good!"
The next thing I knew, we were all standing inside another corridor.
"Just out of curiosity... Why did you ask if we were ready?," Firestar questioned Maza.
"Eh. No reason in particular. Just felt like asking it. Then I realized that it probably was a rather dumb question."

At that moment Gail came flying, the Unown I and the Misdreavus floating at a safe distance.
"What happened in there?," she asked. "We were worried."
"But not worried enough to follow," I retorted.
"Long story short, we were attacked. A lot. But made it out in one piece," explained Maza.
"This place is pure chaos. I heard cries and fights just a floor above us," Gail commented.
"That doesn't surprise me," said Groviglio. "I mean, both Team Rocket and the Blades are involved. It's not gonna be a tea party."
"I'm wondering if it was a good idea to come at all," the Misdreavus remarked.
"Well, if we hadn't come, that'd be that much less support for our allies," Jeff pointed out.
"He's right," agreed Firestar. "Besides it's too late to be thinking of that now. We came here to help our friends and that's what we're gonna do."
"Do you even know any of your so-called friends?," I questioned her. I was the only Dragon Tamer pokemon she'd seen before as far as I knew.
"You know what I mean," she told me.
"Err... maybe now's not a good time to be arguing with each other, huh?," Jeff advised us.
"Definitely not. We should go where the fight is, and do something about it," Iael agreed.
"Well then, should we head upstairs? It does sound like something big is going down up there," Maza suggested.
"Ok," I accepted, "I'm not running ahead this time, Iael and Maza, you may lead the way."
"Does anyone know how to get upstairs?," Iael asked.
"Well, it seems to me that building a building without stairs is a really dumb idea. There should be a stairway somewhere," Groviglio commented.
"Failing that, we can go back outside and try to get to the second floor that way," added Maza.
"I floated around a bit while we were waiting, and found a stairway," the Unown revealed. "I can lead you there."
"Okay then. Let's charge ahead, shall we?," said Maza.
"It may be too thin for our friend, though," the Unown warned us.
"That's not a problem. Once I get there, I can come back and Teleport Lagi there," Maza offered.
"It's ok, I can find another way to get there and meet you upstairs, you don't have to exhaust yourself," Lagi told him.
Maza probably felt tired after his battle, his evolution and teleporting everyone back to square 1. Lagi would know that.
"All right, whatever suits you," Maza shrugged, following the Unown.

Once we found the stairway, Lagi turned away and headed for the exit. The rest of us climbed up the stairs, reaching an empty room, which had a door on its back wall. The sound of fights came clearly from the other side of the door.
"Okay, I think I learned my lesson last time with charging ahead," said Jeff. I must admit I didn't feel like charging ahead right then either. "We ought to scout this one out first. Kurtzwick, can you get in there quietly?"
"You got it, boss," the Dratini grinned.
He quietly and subtly opened the door to the next room and slipped in. We stayed behind, waiting. He took a few minutes to get back, and I had started to yawn by the time he did.
"Did you find anything?," Firestar asked him.
"Okay, it's like chaos in there. I couldn't make out very many familiar faces... but I did happen to see Tsunami. Presumably, Gabi and the rest of her Pokemon are in there too."
"Is that the other 'Kid'? We should go and find them," said Ray. His comment made me chuckle.
"Might not be a bad idea," Kurtzwick agreed. "They'd probably like some reinforcements, huh?"
"Them and us both," added Iael.
"Well then, what are we waiting for?," asked Maza.
"Don't tempt me with a phrase like that, I'm already fighting my impulse to dash forward," I told him.
"You can actually fight it? Wow, you do have some surprises in you after all!," Firestar blurted out.
"Guys, please..." Ray interfered.
"Er, maybe we should just head in," Jeff suggested.
"Yes, for our sanity's sake. Especially mine," Ray said. "I hate to be torn between my mate and my best friend."
"Then let's go, already!," Groviglio put an end to the discussion.
He and Maza charged through the door simultaneously, and the rest of us followed. As I had suspected, there was quite a commotion on the other side. I couldn't find my friends among the battling crowd.

"Where are they?," I asked Kurtzwick.
"I saw Tsunami towards the center of the room," he replied. "In fact... yeah. I just saw a tailfin of a Vaporeon flash above the head of that Blade over there."
I looked in the direction the Dratini had pointed, and saw a guy dressed in a red uniform. He suddenly collapsed on the floor like something had hit him, and I saw my trainer on the other side, holding something against her chest.

<Gabi's POV>

I didn't like using my 'amulet', but as soon as I arranged to go to the Blades' base I knew that I would have to. That Blade had been about to attack someone from behind; I couldn't even see who it was in the middle of the chaos, but it didn't matter: I wouldn't let that happen. As soon as he fell, I noticed Jeff and a group of pokemon standing against the wall. Hero and his friends were there, as well as Iael and the Dark Cave pokemon. I worried as I couldn't see Lagi with them, but I was still glad to find them. I ran to their side, gesturing for the others to follow me. Jeff waved at me, as did the Kadabra who was standing next to him. I reckoned it ought to be Maza, but at that moment there was so much on my mind that I didn't even think of congratulating him. Tsunami came right behind me. Pidgeot had some trouble dodging a few attacks, but made it a few seconds later.

"Hi. It's good to see you're all safe," I said to the group. "Where's Lagi?"
"She couldn't get up the stairs - she's coming up from outside," Jeff explained, much to my relief. "But oh man! You have no idea how good it is to see another friendly face!... Or maybe you do. Whatever. My point still stands."
"Ah, good," I sighed. "I was scared for a moment. Of course I know how good it feels!"
"I was attacked by a crazy Sharpedo. it didn't even say a word in the whole battle," Tsunami told the group.
"I got attacked by a crazy Rocket, who has this insane grudge against me," Jeff informed us.
"Hey, you weren't the one fighting his Mawile!," Groviglio joined the storytelling round.
"I'd rather have that than a killer Arcanine who makes incoherent threats and bites like a vampire," said Hero. "I still have the marks to prove it."
"Uh-oh. I hope you won't be turning any time soon," Tsunami commented.
"Well, at least that Arcanine hasn't shot you twice in the past," Jeff remarked.
"That's right, one shot in my life was more than enough," Hero agreed. "What's that about turning?"
"Lame joke. Sorry," replied Tsunami. "It's just... good to have you back."
"Yeah, same here," Hero said.
"Okay, just out of curiosity, but why are those thieves here?," asked Jeff, noticing the presence of the two thieves.
"That's the same thing I've been wondering all this time," Pidgeot made his thoughts clear.
"We found them lurking in the base. They stayed with us out of fear of some Blade killing them," explained Tsunami.
Suddenly, the two outlaw pokemon let out a shout, as Kurtzwick had just snuck up behind them. They started arguing undernearth the conversation.
"Yep, that sounds like them," Jeff sighed. "Oh well. They wouldn't dare try anything here."
'Has anyone seen Ade? Or anyone else from the first wave?," I asked the group.
"No, sorry, but I bet that's where the real fun must be," Hero replied.
"I haven't but presumably Ade went to deal with Armand personally," reckoned Jeff.
"That's what I feared," I said. "I hope nothing bad happens to him. He does have Rhiannon with him, but still..."
"Ade's a resilient guy. I'm sure he'll be fine," Jeff assured.
"I think we should worry about what's coming to us right now. This isn't exactly a safe place to converse," Solitude spoke out absently.
"What do you suggest we do, then?," asked Groviglio.

Before the Vulpix could answer, a sound of laughter came from behind us. I turned around and saw a smirking guy in a Rocket uniform.
"Okay, skip the theatrics. Just battle us," Jeff challenged him.
"Couldn't have said it better myself," Hero remarked.
"Oh, sorry, I won't be doing that."
The Rocket dashed for the nearest window, and climbed out. Letting himself fall on the other side, he yelled: "just know that you had the honor of being robbed by the world's greatest thief!"
"What did he say?!," shouted Kurtzwick and the skitty, bringing their argument to a halt.
"I don't like this," I said. "What did he just do?"
Jeff groped his trainer belt with his hand. "Oh no! He has my Pokeballs!... except for this."
He took out his only remaining pokeball, and pushed its button, releasing Trezzatura, his Beldum.
"We must get them back, I'd hate to think of what would happen to our friends if they remained in his hands," stated Pidgeot.
"Cam, do your stuff!,"Jeff commanded.
Cambiamente, coming from behind his trainer, climbed up to the window and transformed into a Pidgeot, letting Jeff grab his legs in order to carry him, and helped him down to the outside of the building.
"Anyone else who's coming, hold onto me," offered Pidgeot.
All the thieves in the group took him up on his offer, as well as Groviglio. Trezzatura and the Dark Cave pokemon descended by their own means, while Hero and Maza helped the rest of us down.

The Rocket continued to run, but his progress was rather hindered by the fact that there were a lot of people in the way. As soon as we were all on the ground, we began to give chase. The three pokemon thieves competed over who could reach the grunt faster, while Maza, Ray and Iael did their best to stop the attacks that were heading our way, one with Kinesis and the others with Disable. Jeff, Cam and Hero were on the lead. Cambiamente had turned into a Ninjask. I heard him and Hero talking as we ran.
"Once this is over you'll have to tell me how you do that," Hero requested.
"What do you mean?"
"Transforming into pokemon that are not around."
"That's not normal?"
"As far as I know no other Ditto has done that. But I'll take that as a sign that you don't know either."
"Yeah. It's not something that'e ever crossed my mind."
"So long as you're Transforming, Cam," Jeff said, "how about something to slow the Rocket, huh?"
"Sure thing," Cam complied, transforming into an Abra and teleporting to where the Rocket was. He then took the shape of a Snorlax and blocked the grunt's way.

After that, we caught up quite easily. The Rocket failed to get past Cambiamente, and soon stopped trying and instead started cursing.
"Get out of my way, you blasted thing!," he yelled.
"Not likely. Especially not since my backup just arrived," Cam pointed at the rest of us.
The Rocket look panicked when he turned around and saw us. He released an Onix from a pokeball, and tried to climb up, but Cambiamente blocked his attempt to escape. The Onix turned back.
Jeff glared at the Rocket. "Okay, we have you severly outnumbered. Why don't you just surrender now? Hand over my Pokeballs!"
"No! So long as I can still get away, I never back down!"
He gestured to his Onix, who dove down, trying to Tackle a way through.
"He's not going to surrender," Pidgeot predicted. "I bet he'll try to battle us and, once he's failed miserably, he'll take out a gun and try to shoot us. Unless, of course, he doesn't have a gun with him."
"Nah, I bet he does. This type almost always does," Jeff replied.

The Onix's dive was stopped with a recoiling 'clang'. It had hit Trezzatura, who looked barely shaken.
"I may not like to battle... but I still would never let anyone get away with my friends," the Beldum said.
"And if you think I'm gonna let you call yourself the best thief around, you're sorely mistaken! That title belongs to me!," Kurtzwick caught up.
The Rocket climbed off his Onix. "I am the best thief, you little runt!"
"I can't believe that's what he worries about!," Pidgeot shook his head in disapproval.
"Hey, motivation is motivation," Maza replied.

The Rocket stepped back and tossed out a second Pokeball. An Exeggcute emerged from it. The Exeggcute and the Onix took a fighting stance next to each other, glaring at Kurztwick and Trezzatura. So, a battle began. The two pairs of pokemon started dashing at each other with an arsenal of moves. Or, in Trezzatura's case, with the one move he could use in battle. His Take-Downs didn't seem to be affecting the Onix much, and when the giant rock snake caught the Beldum between its teeth and crunched him, Hero expressed his disgust.
"Argh! Is everyone going to do that today?"
I remembered his comment about the vampiric Arcanine, and could see his point quite easily.
"C'mon, Trezzatura! You can do this!," Jeff encouraged his friend.
Trezzatura began to float, but the Onix didn't let go of him. But then he stopped his ascension, and the Onix fell to the ground with a loud crash, releasing its grasp on the Beldum. Then Trezzatura used his chance to attack the Beldum, and the fight went on. For a moment, it looked like our friends were losing, when their opponents had caused them to crash against each other. But then they managed to do the same to the Exeggcute and Onix, and achieved the victory.

"Phew. Glad that's over," Trezzatura sighed as the Rocket recalled his pokemon.
"I'm sorry, do you think this is really done?," the Rocket faced the winners, taking out two more pokeballs and releasing a Grovyle and a Magby.
"No... I can't take another battle..." Kurtzwick said.
"Y'see, that's exactly what I'm counting on!," the grunt smirked. "Get them!"

The Grovyle and Magby jumped at Kurtzwick and Trezzatura, but the thief Skitty pushed them out of the way, facing the attackers. Rookie, his assistant, followed him reluctantly.
"No way! Look, that Dratini may have me beat in stealing, but you're miles away from me, see? I've got a score to settle with you!," The Skitty shouted. "Let's go, Rookie!"

They charged at our foes, the Skitty first, and then Rookie. I was surprised to see them fight, even if it was for something as absurd as deciding who the best thief was. Even more so as they turned out to be quite good at it. The Skitty had a well aimed Flamethrower, and his follower was good at lifting and hurling other pokemon, be them his opponents or his own boss. They fought well as a team, and soon they conquered their enemies.

"That was it?," the Skitty laughed loudly. "No way that was all you've got, see?"
The Rocket was gaping. He did not respond.
"I have to admit, that wasn't much of a challenge..." Rookie commented.
"True. I'm going to look for Lagi now," the Dark Cave Noctowl announced.
She took off, followed by her two friends. As I watched her leave, and Jeff wished her good luck, the Rocket recalled his fallen pokemon and ran away. I turned to look at him and clutched my amulet in my hand, trying to think of whether I should (or even could) use it at that moment. I took too long to make a decision, and he soon became out of range.
"What's wrong?," Jeff asked me. I thought for a moment.
"Aside from everything, you mean?"
"Yeah."
"Come on, what would Caledor say if he heard you say that?," Tsunami questioned me.
"He'd probably try and start an impromptu party on the battlefield," assumed Groviglio.
"Yes, he definitely would," the Vaporeon agreed.
"I don't know, I have the feeling we could do more than we're doing, but I don't know what the right thing to do would be," I confessed.
"Hold on a sec. Am I the only one noticing that the guy who stole our buddies is getting away?," asked the Kadabra.
"C'mon, Maza, chill a little. Things are under control," Jeff told him.
I had seen something move close to the Rocket during the last battle and had an idea of what he meant, but I didn't like the fact that the Rocket was getting away.
"I doubt he'll be able to leave the island before this is over," I said to myself.
"Actually, I have things even more under control than that," Jeff declared.
"What do you mean?," askedIael.
Jeff gave a loud whistle and Kurtzwick came back into sight, carrying a stash of pokeballs. "Yeah, boss?"
"Ah, that," Iael realized.
"Excellent. Great job," Jeff commended the Dratini while he put the pokeballsback on his belt.
"There's still the chance that he'll manage to escape before he's arrested," Pidgeot voiced our shared concern.
"Oh, relax a little. I told you, I have things under control!," Jeff insisted, and then whistled again.
At that moment another Pidgeot came flying our way, carrying the unconscious Rocket in his claws.
"Alright. I must commend you guys," Pidgeot admitted.
Cam, for that's who the second Pidgeot was, dropped the Rocket on the ground and turned back into a Ditto.
"Heh heh, thanks," he accepted the praise.

A bit more relaxed, I finally caught notice of what was going on above me. Reaper had appeared in the blackened sky, and was facing an opposition in a battle which, I knew, would determine the fate of us all.
"How long do you think it will be before the police joins us?," Hero wondered, seemingly unaware of the situation above us.
"I don't know, but I think we should all look up right now," I told him.

From then on, everyone stood immobile, staring in awe as the battle unfolded over our heads, the silence only broken for a moment by a low "wow..." uttered by Groviglio. We stayed like that until the Charizard who could only be Abbadon submerged his claws into Reaper's head, and the Salamence began to plummet.
"Everybody, get clear!," I shouted out.
Maza teleported his team a few meters away, and I watched to make sure everyone else was on the move before running away from the danger myself. It all took just a second or two. Instead of falling where we previously stood, Reaper descended into an abyss the depth of which was only rivalled by those found in fantasy stories.
"Wha... no way! Is that DiAnnio?!," asked Jeff.
I looked and saw the man whose face we'd all grown to hate standing at the edge of the chasm where the Salamence had fallen.
"I think it is," I replied.
Barely a moment later, Armand DiAnnio threw himself into the abyss. I heard Jeff sighed, possibly releasing some contained rage. It was understandable.
"I always knew the man was insane," Pidgeot commented. "We'd better wait here in case anything happens, but you don't all have to look."
"No, I think I need to see this," Jeff said.

We waited for a few minutes. Not a sound was heard, and nothing came out from the depths. Once more, it was Groviglio who broke the silence.
"Okay, if the head honcho here is gone, then his henchmen should be pretty easy to round up. Once the Rockets find their boss, they should skedaddle too. I propose we try and find some more Tamers."
That was when Lagi finally joined us, followed by her escorting party.
"Ah, good. Everything turn out okay, Lagi?," Cambiamente asked her.
"Sorry I took so long, it was hard to get past all the battles inside," Lagi apologized. "But something tells me it was worse outside. What happened?"
"Yeah, you missed the whole thing," Cam affirmed.
"DiAnnio and Reaper are gone," I told her.
"This big Charizard felw in and started attacking the big Salamence," Cam reported. "The Salamence fell from the sky and into that chasm, and DiAnnio jumped after her."
Lagi shook her head with sadness. "Black Battalion all over again. I must confess I'm glad I missed it this time."
Jeff and Maza were still staring at the chasm, silent.
Lagi sighed. "At least it's over now."
"Hard to believe, isn't it?," comented Groviglio.
"Indeed," I agreed.
"...So what do we do now?," asked Cambiamente.
"We should make sure all the others are dealt with," Pidgeot suggested. "They don't have a leader to follow now, but that doesn't mean they won't put up a fight."
"Hey, sorry to interrupt, but where'd Popple and Rookie go?," asked Kurtzwick, glancing around.
Only then I learned that Popple was the Skitty's name. I looked around, but found no signs of the pair.
"Great... Just great!," Pidgeot shot out with frustration.
"We can deal with them later. I'm sure they'll turn up," said Trezzatura.
"Don't worry, those two don't strike me as the type who would ever succeed in the criminal career," Tsunami tried to comfort his teammate.
"They may be incompetent, but they're still despicable," Pidgeot opined.
"They did help me and Trezzatura out of a tight spot there, though," Kurtzwick reminded him.
"He does have a point," said Ray.
"Maybe they're not as bad as they were originally made out to be..." Kurtzwick pursued the topic, but Hero soon changed it.
"Is there any chance that anyone here could... you know... call the police? They should be coming to clean up now that the main threats have been dealt with."
"That's not a problem," Kurtzwick pulled a cellphone from whatever pocket dimension he kept picking things from. "Go wild."
"No, thanks," I told him, "I have my own and you'd better return that to where it came from."
Kurtzwick hid the phone again, looking slightly disappointed and mumbling something about never being allowed to have any fun.

I took my cellphone and held it as I went through the possible greetings and requesting formulae in my mind. Once I had decided what to say, although sure I'd say something wrong anyway, I made the call. As I spoke, I couldn't help but listen to my friends comment about me.
"Wow, she didn't walk away to talk this time. Then again this must be the safest place to talk right now," Tsunami said.
"Prob'ly one of the quietest at the moment as well," added Groviglio.
"Right. I still don't get how someone who makes broadcast calls to all Dragon Tamers on a regular basis can be shy about having others hear her while she's on the phone, though," Tsunami continued.
"Maybe she likes to be polite in that aspect? Not everyone wants to hear every single conversation," suggested Kurtzwick.
I finished what I had to say and hung up, facing the group.
"That's because practice doesn't always make master, and I'd appreciate it if you all wouldn't talk about me like I wasn't here," I told them.
"No, you don't get it. We talk about you because you are here," I got a typically Tsunamiish response.
Kurtzwick, however, apologized, blushing slightly.
"Anyway, they're on their way," I announced.
"Excellent. Perhaps, then, we ought to be on our way," Groviglio suggested.
"You can go ahead. I'll go as soon as I've made sure everyone else is alright," I decided.
"Which police department did you call?," Hero asked me.
"Yvresse. They're the closest ones."
He wouldn't expect me to ask the Caledonian police come all the way to the Shifting Isles, would he?
"Would you be able to get us home?," Groviglio asked Cambiamente.
"Yeah, I think I can..." replied Cam, transforming into a Pidgeot.
"Excellent," the Tangela approved. He walked over to Jeff and Maza, who were still staring at the chasm in silence. "Come on, guys. We can't just hang around here looking like zombies."
Not getting a response, he caught their arms in his vines and pulled them towards Cambiamente. Jeff called all his pokemon but Cam, Groviglio and Maza back into their pokeballs without saying a word, and climbed onto the transformed Ditto's back.
"We have nothing else to do here. If one of you needs transport, I can help," the Noctowl offered, looking at Ray and Firestar.
"No, thanks. We're going together," Ray replied.
"And I'll make sure they get back home without any detours," Solitude added.
"Aw, you're no fun!," Ray complained.
"Okay, now I shoudln't speak for these guys," Groviglio gestured to Jeff and Maza, "but since they are currently being silent, I guess I ought to. Thanks for all of your help, everybody. I'll have Jeff check in with the Guild when we get back... anyone who's going with us ought to climb on now."
"Take care," I told them. "I'll try to remind the Guild to give you what they owe you when we get back."
"Have a safe journey!," Pidgeot waved.
"Thanks," said Groviglio.
Cam nodded, gave us a small smile, and took off, as did the Dark Cave group.

"So, what are we doing now?," asked Hero. "Will we go inside, announce it's over, look for the rest of the team and go back home?"
"It sounds like a good summary to me," I told him.
"If you don't mind, maybe we could stop by your place and spend a night there before returning to the Pridelands," Ray requested. "We could use a good meal and a comfortable pillow before we go, I don't think even Solitude would say no to that."
"Of course," I accepted.
Solitude sighed. I thought she probably held the world record for sighs per day. "I guess we can do that."
"Not that attitude again!," Hero complained. "Say what you think for once. And while you're at it, make sure you tell me what last morning's scene was all about."
"What?... Trust me, you're better off not knowing."
"Let me be the one to judge that. What are you hiding?"
"Too much, Hero. Too much. And yes, it weighs me, but it would be even worse if I told you. At least..." she sobbed. "At least it's good to know you're fine. You have a good life and you truly live up to your name. That knowledge will help me live. You know... this would be the time where I would fade away if I were a ghost or a vision, but sadly I'm earthbound, so I'm afraid you'll have to put up with me for a while longer."
"Don't try to distract me with your riddle-like nonsense. Be honest for once!"
Solitude didn't speak, but burst into tears.
"Let her be," Tsunami told her. "You're hurting her. Whatever it is, she'll tell you when she's ready."
"If we ever see her again," Hero replied.
By then Lagi had kneeled down and was consoling Solitude. Hero snorted, and walked ahead. I followed him into the building. The battles were receding, and none lasted too long after I gave my announcement, which Ventura gladly illustrated when she heard me. I wondered why she had to include me in her telepathic broadcast. Then again, it was Ventura, after all. Lagi soon joined us, discouraging anyone who might still attempt to attack us, and the others came right behind. It didn't take long before the police arrived, and the island was cleared soon enough.

The journey back home was silent. Hero wouldn't speak to Solitude again, and she kept on sighing to herself. I arranged a flight for her and the Ninetales couple to the Pridelands as soon as it was possible. They wouldn't tell me how they had reached Caledor in the first place, but after siding with Kurtzwick, Popple and Rookie, I accepted to let that slide. The party's mood lifted once we set foot on Sector Alpha and it dawned on us that it was really over. Not that we didn't have more threats and challenges ahead, but this time we were going to go for them on our terms for a change. And for now, we were getting a well-deserved break. Ray, Tsunami and Hero spent another whole night chatting, and even Firestar joined them for the first few hours. Sylvan, Amber and their parents (who stayed with us for a whole day before heading back for Paradise Valley) had similarly long talks, and Ventura made a short but significant comment when she told her friends "you girls don't know how lucky you are". Lagi spent the first night at home with Solitude, who seemed to open up to her a little, if only because Lagi already knew the feelings she was hiding and she didn't want her to jump to the wrong conclussions about them. And I would assume she realized that letting a few things off her chest would also help her. Solitude seemed to feel better after talking to Lagi, but she still wouldn't say a word in front of Hero. Only after she and her former pack mates had left, and after Hero insisted to the point he was becoming seriously irritating, Lagi revealed that Solitude felt guilty over something she had predicted but couldn't have possibly prevented, but was a bit relieved to know that things had turned out well anyway. I felt there was more than that, but didn't press the matter, and Hero had to content himself with that as well.
"If it's about me, then I'm perfectly fine," he concluded, showing as much insight as could be expected of him. "Next time we meet, I'll let her know that and she'd better start talking to me like any sane pokemon would."
"Maybe she will if she gets a date," Tsunami commented. "I think that's what she really needs."
"I don't know about her, but I do know about someone who needs to mind his own business," Pidgeot told him.
Yes... everything had gone back to normal. And I was infinitely grateful for that.

AntiAsh Superstar
9th September 2005, 07:50 AM
Gabi: I love the character interaction you have going here and heh, Solitude is still really appealing to my taste for darker characters. Only critique I can make is about the battle sequence... for a slightly petty start you put Charizards when you meant Altarias but I shaln't hold that against you when I'm sure I've made errors like that before... plus it was very hard to follow who was facing who and henceforth who should take credit for vanquishing who. I don't really think joint battle segments are a good idea to be honest, it makes it difficult to figure out what segment belongs to which trainer and who should be assigned stamps for it. Anyways, take 15 stamps for a good story that fitted in purty well with the whole plotline. :)

Lady Vulpix
9th September 2005, 12:48 PM
Thanks, Ade.
Yes, I thought the battle scene was quite chaotic, but I meant to reflect the fact that a lot of battles were going on at the same time. I'll try to make things clearer now: Amber and Caledor defeated one Altaria together. Plum and Rose defeated another, but Rose fainted in the process. Kiara defeated Briar, the Venusaur. I assigned Amber and Caledor one level each for the Altaria. I'm not posting Plum's level gain because she's a side character, not Kiara's because that will be up to Amy once she posts her story.

I'm glad you liked Solitude's contribution to the story. :)

Charizard04621
10th September 2005, 11:03 AM
Okay, I've given it some thought and I've made my decision this time. I don't mind prowling around here and remaining part of the Staff, but fact is that if I do this, it'll be difficult for us to get stuff done. Not because of the story rating, but because of stuff like TM compatabilities. I rarely get on AIM anymore, and if I do it's usually only for a few minutes. You won't be able to contact me besides perhaps via PM, and I only check TPM two or three (or one) time(s) a day lately. I'd like to step down from my position. It's been fun and an honor to have worked with you all. This is not a Dragon Tamer resignation, but I won't be a part of the staff anymore. Thanks for the times we've had, guys.

classy_cat18
10th September 2005, 01:11 PM
Athena’s POV

I glared at the Mawile. She glared back. The Breloom with her broke the silence between us by throwing back his head and laughing loudly. “I knew that that little weed was weak. One Hyper Beam from me and she’s down for the count! Finish it, Chomper!” he told the Mawile.

I growled deep in my throat. Deep hatred for these shameless Pokemon rose from my heart. “How dare you…you…hit my friend from behind like that!” I rushed to the Breloom and gave him my best Mega Punch. He wasn’t hurt as much as I wanted but it still surprised him and his buddy.

The Breloom took a step back and rubbed the small bruise that my fist made. “Nice punch, cutie. Too bad you’re too low a level to really hurt me.” He jumped in the air and swung his fist at me. I jumped back to evade but was hit anyway. I thought that it was impossible for him to hit me from so long a distance but the truth hit me as hard as his punch. He could stretch his arms!

Chomper smiled wickedly at the Breloom. “Champ, we should ‘confiscate’ this little weed before someone comes and spoils our fun.”

Champ nodded and scooped up the nearly unconscious Lily in his arms. As he walked past me he said a few confident words. “If you try to come after us you will be killed. Do you understand?”

I didn’t say or do anything, only shake with anger and fear as the two evil Pokemon walked on and into the Crimson Blade base. When they were out of sight I yelled out loud, “Trinity! Moriko! Anyone, I need you!”

Moriko, who was actually flying above me, landed in front of me. A big grin was on her face. “What is it, Athena?” she asked me.

I couldn’t hide it anymore. Tears ran down my face. I slammed a fist down on the ground. “Oh Moriko, they took her! They took Lily!” I cried.

Moriko’s smile disappeared. “Wait a minute, who took Lily?”

“A Breloom and a Mawile! They hit her with a Hyper Beam and walked off with her! I tried to stop them but the Breloom was too strong!”

“Someone had the nerve to take our friend? Where are they?” She shook me, her eyes burning with anger. I pointed to the base. “Hang on. We’ll get them.” She took my hand and started to pull me to the base.

“Wait, Moriko! We need the others!”

“You rang?” a male voice asked from behind us. I turned around and saw the rest of the team, even Katana, standing with Bandit. “We all heard you yell and thought we could help.”

“You all want to help? Even you, Katana?”

Katana crossed her arms. “Don’t get used to it.”

“Still don’t feel like part of the team, huh? Well that’ll surely change!” Moriko said. “Now let’s go get our buddy!” She opened the huge doors of the base and stepped into the dark corridor. Actually, it wasn’t that dark. We could make out two shapes at the far end of it, shapes that belonged to Champ and Chomper.

“So you decided to ignore our warning,” Champ said calmly.

“You may be able to take down one of us, but you won’t be able to get all of us!” Bandit yelled as bravely as he could.

“Then why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?” He opened a door on the side of the corridor and disappeared into it, followed by Chomper.

For a while we stayed where we were. Then I spoke up. “The only way we’re going to get Lily away from those two guys is if we take down the Breloom. And the best way to do that is teamwork. When I give the signal, everyone that has a Fire-type attack will fire it at the Breloom. Jewel will use her Blizzard and Moriko will use her Aeroblast. There is no way that he’ll be able to take all of those attacks.”

“Alright, sounds like a plan,” Moriko agreed. With that we walked down the corridor and through the door that Champ and Chomper walked through.

It was darker in the room than it was in the hallway. There was one spotlight shining on Lily’s nearly unconscious body. I didn’t hesitate to run to her. “Lily? Lily! Wake up, Lily! I’m here for you!”

Lily’s eyes fluttered open. “Athena? Are we home?” she asked me weakly.

I smiled sadly. “Not yet, sweetie. Let’s put you in your pokeball so we can carry you home.”

“I don’t think so,” I heard Champ say from the darkness. He confidently stepped in the spotlight and smirked at me. “Neither you or your little friends are going anywhere alive.” He clapped his hands and the other lights in the room came to life. I was expecting dozens of Crimson Blades surrounding us or at least their Pokemon. But all the lights revealed were Chomper and a mean-looking Miltank.

“Oh no, not another one,” Lily groaned.

Bandit walked to me and put a hand on my head. “Don’t worry; we’ll take her down easily.”

“And how will you be able to take me down?” the Miltank sneered.

“Like this!” He shot an Ember, not at the Miltank, but at Champ. Champ jumped in the air. That’s when I knew that Bandit did that so we could get a clear shot of him! “Everyone shoot!”

I quickly took a deep breath and exhaled my Overheat attack at the same time Trinity shot her Flamethrower and Bandit shot another Ember. All attacks hit Champ dead-on and he fell to the floor with burns all over his body. Before he had a chance to get up, Jewel used her Blizzard, Moriko used her Aeroblast, and Beacon used her Hidden Power. Champ was blown away. He hit the wall hard and then hit the floor with a thud.

“I think you got him,” Lily said with a little brightness in her weak voice.

“No, we got him!” Bandit said triumphantly. “We kicked his sorry ass!”

“No cursing,” I said sternly.

“What, like you’ve never done it before?”

“Enough! You’ll never be able to pull a trick like that on me!” the Miltank yelled. “These two told me how the Oddish struggled just to beat my younger sister. You have more on your hands than you realize!”

To my surprise Lily got to her feet. She was breathing heavily and wobbling every once in a while but she had a look in her eyes that I’ve only seen during her most intensive training. “Then how about a little one-on-one? You against me,” she said.

“Hey, I’m still in the room! You’re going to pay for knocking out my partner like that!” Chomper yelled at us.

I glared daggers at her. “Let’s make this two-on-two. It’s been a while since I’ve had a battle.”

“Should we both battle at once or should we take turns beating these weaklings?” Chomper asked Miltank.

“Why don’t you go first? I enjoy watching you battle,” Miltank replied.

Chomper nodded. “Looks like it’s you and me first, Mankey girl.”


L6 Female Mankey (Athena) vs. L8 Female Mawile (Chomper)

I felt a power I’ve never felt before. It burned inside of me, making me feel strong and confident. I felt like I could win this battle easily. And I would.

A ball of purple poison materialized in Chomper’s hands. She hurled this at me and waited for the attack to hit. I jumped up and over the attack and leered at her. She took a step back as tears streamed down her face. “You’re so mean,” she whimpered.

“Don’t fall for her tricks, Athena. That’s just her Fake Tears,” Katana sneered.

“Okay, then I have something for her.” I walked confidently up to her and laughed in her face. “I can beat you any day of the week!” I could almost feel her getting stronger. My Swagger worked. But will it work in my favor?

Mawile’s fist flew at me, but I merely sidestepped and grabbed her outstretched arm. “This is the part where you fly,” I said darkly. I flung her over my shoulder and threw her as far as I could. She flew through the air and landed flat on her face.

Chomper struggled to her feet, looking furious. She took a deep breath and breathed out a column of flames. I scrambled backwards to avoid the assault. She repeated her attack and I ran to the left to avoid them again. I ran as fast as I could while waiting for an opening to attack.

When Chomper was done shooting Flamethrowers she ran for me, but somehow looked confused. In fact, she was confused. She ran to the right of me and punched the wall, only hurting her fist. She stared at the wall in confusion while I rushed for her with my arms crossed. She turned around at the last second and looked scared, like a Stantler caught in the headlights of a car. I jumped up in the air and brought both hands down on her in a Cross Chop. I then landed and slammed both closed fists on her as hard as I could. Chomper was knocked to the side.

“Nice Brick Break. At least, I think that was Brick Break,” Bandit commented.

I walked to her and lightly kicked her in the side. She barely budged but she didn’t get up. I had won the battle.


I won and grew to level 7!

The others rushed to me as I plopped on the floor, exhausted from the battle. The funny thing was that I didn’t feel any of the exhaustion during the battle. The anger boiling inside of me was so great I ignored the exhaustion.

“Will you be okay, Athena?” Nama asked me.

“Yeah, just give me a while to rest.” I looked over at Lily, who was glaring daggers at the Miltank. “Lily, get in your pokeball. You shouldn’t battle her.”

“I need to battle her. Otherwise she won’t let us leave. Let’s do this.”


L19 Female Oddish (Lily) vs. L25 Female Miltank

“Let’s start this party with a bang!” the Miltank shouted. A glowing sphere materialized in her hand and was thrown at Lily. Lily countered it with a Razor Leaf. As soon as the leaves hit the glowing sphere it made a big explosion.

I gasped. “Oh no, Present! Watch out, Lily!” I cried out.

Lily darted in all sorts of directions as the Miltank continued her assault. Occasionally she would throw a Razor Leaf to stop the Present in midair. Finally the Miltank stopped, rolled up into a ball, and rolled straight for the Oddish.

“Lily, most of your attacks won’t work on Miltank now that he’s rolling,” I told her. I winced as Lily was struck down by the Rollout attack. I knew now why the Pokemon chose this room to battle in. There was no sunlight for Lily to use for her Solarbeam or Synthesis.

Lily looked back at me and gave me an innocent smile. “Don’t worry, Athena. I know what I’m doing.” Particles of light were being absorbed by her leaves as she said this. But where were they coming from? The Miltank! It was Giga Drain! Even as the Miltank rolled she was being weakened. Slowly she was slowing down. She soon stopped rolling and lay there on the ground, panting heavily. Lily was doing the same thing. In order to take energy, Lily had to be attacked. But a combination of high defense and Giga Drain kept her health steady.

But Lily wasn’t done weakening her yet. She spread purple spores all over the room. My teammates and I had to hold their noses in order to avoid being poisoned. The Miltank, however, was too busy catching her breath to even care. She got up and faced Lily. “I can still beat you,” she said tiredly.

“I’d like to see you try,” Lily said as seriously as she could.

Miltank put her hands together and then slowly drew them apart. A blue orb grew them and fired at Lily. Lily jumped to the side and threw another Razor Leaf. Miltank stopped her attack and dropped to the floor. Lily quickly threw another two Razor Leaves, one right after another. Miltank jumped over the first one but was hit by the second. She landed on her feet and stared at Lily for a while. Sweat was dripping from her forehead. The poison was working its way through her system. She took one step forward and fell flat on her face. She was out of the fight.


Lily won and grew to level 21! She got Sludge Bomb as her level 20 TM!

Lily was hurt and exhausted. But she was alive and that was all that mattered right now. I ran to her and scooped her up. “Lily, are you alright? How do you feel?” I asked her frantically.

Lily giggled. “I feel fine, Athena! Oh, wait a second. All of a sudden I feel funny.” I was shocked as she started to glow.

I dropped her and shouted to the rest of the team. “Girls! Bandit! Lily’s evolving!”

The others rushed over and watched Lily get bigger, although not much different. Finally the glow vanished. Everyone stared at Lily’s new form.


Lily evolved into a Gloom!

We walked outside into the sunshine and waited for Lily to use Synthesis to heal herself. At that moment Champ decided to have another go at her. We didn’t even realize he was up again. Lily quickly turned around and shot some brown gas out of her pistil and into Champ’s face. The reaction was instantaneous. Champ gagged and staggered back. We all did, in fact. All except Jewel, who obviously didn’t have a sense of smell.

“Oh my god, what is that smell?” Champ said weakly.

“It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever smelled!” Katana complained.

<It’s Lily’s new defense mechanism,> Jewel sent calmly.

“Oh really? Some defense!” Bandit said.

Champ ran for the fortress, leaving us to cope with the smell. It left in a hurry and we all breathed a lungful of stench-free air. Jewel sent a telepathic message to Aero and minutes later he was landing in front of us. “You missed something big,” he told us.

“What was it?” Katana asked him, sounding a little interested.

“You know that Salamence you told me about yesterday? Well, it lost in a battle. Seriously! Some Charizard swooped in and dug his claws in the guy’s head. That Salamence fell from a high altitude and into an abyss that you definitely don’t want to fall into. And I think her trainer followed her.”

We looked at each other. None of us believed what we thought had happened. Katana spoke up after a minute of silence. “You mean this Armand DiAnnio is dead?”

“I guess so. So let’s go already! You girls look beat!”

“Not all of us are girls, you know,” Bandit grumbled.

“Just a second.” Katana ran to a spot behind a rock and came back with Shonta’s mini backpack. “I had to hide this.” I sighed in relief as Katana returned me to my pokeball. Finally we were going home.

Shonta’s POV

“Where were you? I wake up and find the stuff that was in my mini backpack in a pile by my bed, the pokeballs gone, and you nowhere in sight!” I yelled as soon as they walked down the stairs. I was in the living room, trying to eat my Ramen noodles and watch TV without worrying about my Pokemon.

“Guess,” Katana told me.

Out fighting Blades and Rockets. I should’ve known. “So, how did it go?”

“Armand and Reaper are allegedly dead.”

“Great! This calls for a vacation! So, anything else new?” A Gloom appeared from within the group. Katana didn’t seem like the type to pick up hitchhikers so I knew who it was. “Lily? Is that you?”

“Yeah! I evolved! I had to battle two Miltank in a row but I did it!” She laughed out loud.

“You know what? I thought you might evolve soon, so I got you a surprise.” I walked in my room and came back with the gift. “It’s a Sun Stone. With this you’ll evolve into Bellossom.”

Lily smiled and a bit of smelly drool dripped from her mouth. “Thank you so much!” I set the Sun Stone down and she immediately touched it. She started to glow, but instead of growing, she shrunk. The glow faded and I had a beautiful Bellossom.


Lily evolved into a Bellossom! She learned Magical Leaf!

Lily opened her eyes and twisted this way and that. The leaves that made up her “dress” made a pleasant sound as they rubbed together. “How do I look?” she asked me.

“Lily, you’re one awesome Bellossom. I don’t think anyone will be able to resist you.”

AntiAsh Superstar
11th September 2005, 01:30 AM
Shonta, I'll try rating your story in the next few days but if someone else reads it through first feel free to do the rating.

In the meantime here's a big story that's been churned out so quickly it pretty much proves what we all already knew, i.e. that I've way too much time on my hands. Apologies for the first few paragraphs being the most depressing thing I've written since the start of Accustomed to Agony. :O

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She found herself stood at the base of a mossy, ruined temple... no, not ruined. Simply allowed to be assimilated by the thick forest surrounding it. There was an... an aura surrounding this temple. One of evil. One so thick, so choking that it was suffocating her slowly but surely. She tried to breathe in the clean, fresh air that she knew should have been surrounding her but it was of no use. Every inhalation brought with it the cloying stench of death and decay, the terrible sensation of evil in its purest form.

What now? She was flying. Flying through the skies like a messenger of the gods, and there before her was her very own Mount Olympus. A white, shining mountain shining so radiantly in the morning sun. It was a beautiful sight to behold. So beautiful that she couldn't help but zoom in closer, feeling the wind on her face and the warmth of the sun on her flesh. Closer and closer, until she was almost touching the wondrous surface of this beautiful and majestic feature. And touch it she did, although in touching it she realised her mistake. The very surface was like acid upon her skin, so that when she pulled away she could still feel the terrible pain, could still smell the acrid stench of her flash melting away, dripping from her to reveal pure, white bone even purer than the mountain itself...

“AH!!!” Pandora awoke to a familiar scene, and rather mercifully with all her body intact, too. Only a dream. The surroundings around her were proof enough of that. Darkened room. Familiar shadows all around. The warmth of another snuggled up beside her. “Dammit, why?” the Houndour sobbed. Not another dream! Not now!
“Yeah, 'dammit why' is right...” the half-asleep Umbreon beside her yawned, too tired to keep his natural tactlessness in check. “No wonder we had to start sleeping in the junk room if all you do is wake up yelling every ten seconds...” Within seconds Milliardo was asleep and snoring gently again, oblivious to the fact that it was more his desire for a little privacy rather than Pandora's fitful sleep patterns that led the couple to sleep in a different room to everybody else. It was the general rule. All couples found their own little niche. Thunderblast and Kasumi took the attic – albeit reluctantly, until everybody else ganged up on them the only lesbian pokémon in the Dragon Tamers group had seemed perfectly happy to carry on their increasingly perverted sex life in full view of everybody – Kirei and Lucky had a little cozy hideaway behind a dresser in the guest room, Katnip and Pearl had claimed one potential storage room as soon as everyone had moved in... even Beckham and Megan had claimed the tool shed, although for some strange reason even now after all this time neither was willing to admit there was anything going on between them aside from hours of friendly conversation and really bad dancing. In spite of the fact that Kasumi claimed to have videotaped evidence that suggested otherwise. So that left Milliardo and Pandora. Who had the storage room, simply because it was the second most comfortable place for a courting pokémon couple aside from the room that had been specifically set aside for Pearl's little family. Nobody dared to argue with this. It was an unspoken rule that if both Pandora and Milliardo agreed on something passionately it was a really, really bad idea to stand in their way. So they got their 'own' room, the fact that Pandora often woke up screaming like she had tonight having very little to do with this. “Keep it down would you...”
“Sure.” Pandora was torn between the urge to kick her boyfriend very hard in the ribs and the urge to run to the bathroom, push the door open with her snout and shut herself inside to cry. In the end the latter desire won out and the Houndour raced out of the room, her destination a place that had seen too many of her tears – and, for that matter, too much of her blood – than any one location should have had to witness. Quickly she opened the bathroom door and sealed it shut, using her Ice Hidden Power to make sure that nobody could hope to barge in. That had been the single mercy of discovering her rather contradictory Hidden Power. It had proven immensely useful for making sure nobody could follow her. “God, why now, why now? Just when it all seemed to be going okay... why do I have to see this? What good does it do? It all happens in the end anyway, doesn't it?” By now the Houndour was all but screaming at her reflection in the bath tiles. Certainly, some dreams were only possibilities. But an omen of dark days never seemed to err in its accuracy, and Pandora had seen enough dark days to last her a lifetime. If it wasn't the atrocities of the Dark Cloak then it was the damage the Crimson Blades had inflicted. And if it wasn't that then... then it was the most horrifying moment of all, that terrible night where she had dreamed of her mother doused in blood... only to awaken and find that the creature she still considered to be the kindest and most patient pokémon on the planet had passed away, dead from a heart torn apart by a mate who thought himself a slave to his dreams. As was Pandora in the end. Sure, some were just warnings, a glimpse into a future she still had the power to avoid. But others just taunted her. This is what's going to happen and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. those dreams seemed to say, and all that dreaming them seemed to do was to hasten their occurrence... it was this sort of dream, more than any other, that led Pandora to the bathroom to scream and wail and let vent all of those emotions that she couldn't possibly show in front of everyone else. The emotions that led her down a path that, from a detached distance, she knew was totally irrational. But it happened all the same. It started with her being miserable about her dream. And then it turned into her being miserable because she knew the dream would come true at some point. And then it turned into her imagining how the others would react if she explained her fears. And then this gave way to the certainty that nobody would believe her even if she tried to explain. Which then turned into a totally irrational – and Pandora knew this was irrational, that was what made it all the more terrible - belief that if she tried to get the others to help prevent her dreams then she would be laughed at. And then the paranoia set in. And then the panic, the wide eyes, the short breaths, the sudden, crushing certainty that somehow, in some way, whatever was going to happen was all her fault. Because, as her brain would tell her at that point, she couldn't explain it to anybody else. She couldn't save anyone. So she was as guilty as the ones who instigated whatever she was dreaming about, for she was too weak to stop them. She was guilty. She deserved to suffer.

Then the claws were raised.

And the pain began.

Oh, how the pain was sweet relief.

“I seriously don't know how long you're going to last hoping that everyone's going to turn a blind eye, you know.” A mere half hour after Pandora's first stirring her partner's dozy mind (“Dozy? Ha! Even half asleep I'm more awake than most of you guys!”) finally put two and two together and forced his body to bolt after the Houndour. Moving was a harder thing than Milliardo remembered it, even fuelled by alarm. Evidently his body had yet to fully recover from his ordeals at the blades of Armand DiAnnio's Scyther. But even though he still felt the occasional twinge and ache he still pushed onwards, concern for the one he loved above all overriding his desire to go back to bed. And so he had come across Pandora looking thoroughly miserable, her eyes still wet with tears and the fresh wounds upon her legs plain to see. “It's going to be damn obvious that that wasn't there before.”
“What do I care?” Pandora grumbled miserably. “Let them say and do what they want. I should have just stayed in that damn Pokécentre for headcases like myself, it's the only place I'm any good for.”
“Want I should go fetch Pearl to give you a stern talking to? No? Then stop that talk at once, the one place where you belong is with me.” Milliardo sighed deeply. “I don't know what I'm going to do with you, really I don't. I try to drop as many hints as I can that you're the smartest, funniest, most generally gorgeous pokémon that isn't called Milliardo that I know but it never quite sinks in does it?”
“Sorry,” Pandora sniffed, seeming to brighten up slightly. Funny, really. Once upon a time the two Dark Types were in the middle of a terrible love-hate relationship, Pandora become just as easily upset by her lover as she was consoled. But time and experience had at least slightly tempered the parts of Milliardo that had been unable to deal with the Houndour, and now he really could do no wrong when in her company. “It's just that sometimes I question your taste.”
“Hey, I have impeccable taste I'll have you know!” Milliardo snorted in mock indignation. “Anyway, feeling a bit better now?”
“Now that you're here, yes,” Pandora nodded. “I'm sorry, I'm just so damn...”
“Ssh.” Milliardo didn't let her finish whatever self-depreciation the Houndour was about to come up with. Instead he kissed her passionately, so passionately that it caught Pandora completely off guard. The old tricks, the Umbreon reflected, usually worked the best. “You're just so damn wonderful, that's what you are. Now how about you come back to bed, huh? It's too cold without a nice warm Fire type to snuggle up to and I can't sleep.”
“Sorry,” Pandora smiled pathetically. It was in times like this that it was so easy to forget that she was a Houndour. Even at the best of times she had an air about her that inspired pity rather than fear. And in these low moments, when her big, expressive eyes were wet with tears and filled with sadness, even the most timid of pokémon would have been tempted to go over and give her a reassuring hug. “We can't have the lord and master of the entire universe's sleep disturbed, can we?”
“No we can't!” Milliardo grinned. “Well... we can, but only for exceptional circumstances.”
“Such as?”
“You. You've been an exceptional circumstance ever since I first met you.” Only Milliardo was skilled enough with tone of voice to make such a weird sentence sound like the most romantic compliment ever. Pandora blushed deeply at the words. This new, more mellow Milliardo, she decided, she liked very much. He made her feel good. He made her forget all the bad things in her life. Just looking into his eyes made all the darkness wash away. At least for a while. “Now come on. Let's go back to bed, hm?”

Life at the Dragons Guild was never a restful one, I often reflected. There was always something to do, always something that forced me into spending that extra half hour past my normal hours that I would rather not have wasted on work. Like today, for example. I was just about to pack up for the day after a rather exhausting afternoon spent studying the behaviour of enclosed Espeons (this would have been a short albeit pointless exercise had it not been for the one or two Espeons within the building who actually knew me and made it their business to intermittently mess up my results by sneaking into the enclosure and acting stupidly. In the end I was just about ready to quit when Kirei at least gave up on annoying me and snuggled up to my leg. Rather curiously at this point inspiration struck me and I was able to wrap the experiment up in minutes. Evidently the world's luckiest pokémon hadn't lost her touch.) when a last minute bulletin from the MTU turned up that needed to be posted on the Guild's website – the maintenance of which, for some reason that probably stemmed from my using Marius as my main assistant at work, seemed to have been thrust upon me at some point.

To all Dragons Guild staff and Dragon Tamers trainers!
The Mercenary Trainer's Union invites you all to the training event of the year! Next Monday all week we are proud to present to you a real blast from the past; come to Wyvern Square in Sector Alpha and put your team to the test in the infamous Training Maze of Ulthuan! Used extensively by the Guild and the Dragon Tamers in the past, this fun and totally harmless training device will stretch your skills without the risks of active combat! Come early to avoid the queues!

Even as I was inserting the data in the correct position I was practically laughing out loud. So that was what all the chaos at the MTU building had been about! Somebody had decided to drag the maze out of retirement. It had been a favourite training ground a long time ago; I had been fortunate enough to catch its last outing but according to Gabi it had been used twice before that. A big temporary structure spread over several floors and filled to the brim with annoying but harmless booby traps. I still could picture struggling in a net with Katnip and Pearl, and having to shimmy up an elevator shaft because the lift I had stepped into had turned out to be a disguised cage... and Katnip's less than subtle solution to glass walls placed in the middle of corridors, which had at the time amounted to 'smash through them'. Somehow I doubted that he had changed that much over the years and so made a mental note to leave the Raticate out of it this time. Still... 'totally harmless' was stretching the truth a little. The capacity for trainers to put themselves in danger through ill-made decisions was immense. But wasn't that part of the reason it had proven itself such a successful training exercise over the years? It tested you and your team in every possible way.
“I can see your eyes light up with excitement, Ade,” Marius commented as he tinkered with the Guild's server machines. “Would that be genuine or merely unwarranted nostalgia?”
“No idea,” I confessed. “I'm guessing it isn't nostalgia, though, I'd be rather hard pressed to find any nostalgic feelings for that period of my life.” That was an understatement! The last time I had seen the maze was directly after escaping the clutches of Team Rocket, after a severe beating and having most of my pokémon taken from me. Back then I had taken Katnip and Pearl into the maze, simply because I had no other choice. They were the only two left in my possession. But all that happened many years ago and I was determined not to let a sour memory ruin things. “You weren't there, of course, Marius, you probably don't know what I'm on about.”
“True enough,” the Dratini conceded. “Would you mind enlightening me?”
“Well...” I wasn't sure how to begin. “Back then we were having a lot of trouble with Team Rocket. They weren't quite the scattered force we know in Ulthuan today, you see; although I have this horrible feeling that Giovanni's not exactly going to like being upstaged by that stunt DiAnnio pulled and we'll be seeing a lot more of them.” I frowned suddenly. Now there was a scenario I didn't really like having envisioned! Egos the size of the bosses of the Crimson Blades and Team Rocket had to constantly strive to outdo each other, although quite how nearly destroying the planet with the help of a dragon who had more power in a single claw than the entire Ulthuanian army had in their entire arsenal could possibly be topped I had no idea. “A lot more.”
“Ade, as potentially justified as your concerns may be can I just remind you that you have become somewhat waylaid in your explanation?” Marius sighed. “If it eases your mind any I should point out that by all accounts Giovanni was critically injured in the fracas so I sincerely doubt that he will be causing any disturbances any time soon.”
“Sorry,” I sighed. I was rambling again; this was never a good sign. “Anyway... yeah. Team Rocket. You have to understand that back then I wasn't officially part of the Dragon Tamers, much less part of the Dragons Guild. I simply followed along from a distance. If anything I was operating on behalf of Tsuyoi's family. Our least favourite big bad wolf was far more of a meddler back then. Anyway, I had been following the Tamers as they conducted a raid on a Rocket base, only... only it went wrong. I messed up and I got myself captured. The whole thing had been going so well, too! I had got in there easily, I hadn't had too much trouble messing their computer systems up, so why..?” I blinked. Now was not the time nor the place. “So they got me. And they did some terrible things, Marius. The most awful of which was they took my team. Sure, everyone found their way back to me in the end but... it was a low point in my life. No, it was the single lowest point in my life. Had Katnip not proved to feisty for them to handle and had they not been keeping Pearl around to use as a bargaining tool I would have probably ended it all the instant I got out of there; if indeed I could have escaped at all without their help. But I did escape, and I went to the Dragon Tamers for help. A week into my new position as a Tamer and the Maze training ground was opened. Total unfortunate coincidence but it does hold a few bad memories for me. Last time I stepped foot in there I was on the brink of a total breakdown.”
“But now you happen to be positively thriving,” my Dratini commented, something in my words or tone or expression having rightly given him the impression that I could have used some uplifting words. “A true testament to triumphing over adversity. You have my gratitude for sharing that tale with me. I know painfully little about events in this household before my birth, Ade, perhaps some other time you might indulge my curiosity a little further?”
“Sure thing,” I smiled. “Anything in particular you wanted to know?”
“As I say, Ade,” Marius smiled, “some other time. We already happen to be over half an hour late as it is and I would rather not be the one responsible for your getting yourself killed at the hands of Soo.”
“Ah yes. Good point.” The whole situation with Soo and the Dragon Tamers was a weird one. She had started her training career promisingly enough but pokémon training was a sporadic career at best, and when a more stable job had presented itself she had taken it. The end result being that she didn't have the time to train at the moment, and during the day we hardly saw anything of each other. So it would have been silly of me to eat any further into the time where I could have been snuggling up with the one I loved. “Come on then, let's log off and get the hell out of here. We've done more than enough for one day.”

The next twenty four hours passed without incident; or rather, they passed without what passed as any major disturbances in our already chaotic life. We ate, we joked about, we were soundly beaten by Beckham in a large video games session that indicated that the Wartortle had far better hand-to-eye coordination and far better reactions than he let on. And then we all went to our respective beds to sleep a remarkably sound sleep. Followed by a hurried early morning that took a familiar stressful routine – we woke up at such a time that it gave Soo exactly ten minutes to get ready for work and she had to hurry out of the door with a quick kiss and a comment of 'I might see you down at that maze thing if I can get out early. Sounds kind of fun.'. Somehow I doubted that she would manage to find the time. Me, on the other hand...
“So what's the plan for today?” Milliardo yawned, as ever being the first to voice the question that was fast becoming part of his daily routine. “Doing that maze thing, right?”
“Yup,” I nodded.
“Truly a-maze-ing,” Bolovayr tittered as he floated past looking in his usual daze. Somehow I was getting the distinct impression that my Gastly wasn't doing as well keeping to a nocturnal life as he pretended to. Even Ghost types needed to switch off occasionally! “So we all descend upon this place, then?”
“Actually, no. We'd all be too much of a crowd. I was thinking just taking a few. Anybody really, really want to do this?”
“Hell yeah!” Beckham grinned. “Ought to be a riot!”
“A riot? No thanks, we've had loads of them lately, can't it be something more peaceful?” Megan complained.
“Okay then, I reckon it'll be a walk in the park,” the Wartortle responded to this. “Or whatever less active phrase the lady prefers.”
“Thanks!” Megan grinned brightly. “If that's the case I'd like to come too, please, as long as there's nothing dangerous involved although I don't think the Dragons Guild would try and kill its own trainers, that'd be silly, plus anything Gina's involved in should be perfectly safe.”
“Yeah! I wanna come too! It's sounds real fun!” Ryo-Ohki blared from his usual perch on Sindel's shoulder.
“Well I was about to offer to come and actually provide some assistance but given the company I'd be keeping I'm having second thoughts,” Milliardo rolled his eyes. “Somebody else go nanny the kids and lunatics, I think I'd rather hang myself than train with Becks and Megan.”
“Milliardo, be nice!” I scolded the Umbreon. He still could be positively nasty when the mood took him even though most of his former vitriol seemed to have finally abated. “So that's three... I figure a traditional team of six ought to be enough... any more takers?”

As it turned out Katnip, Sindel and Kasumi had been the first to offer their assistance in tackling the maze, so I took this rather unusual group out to Wyvern Square as soon as I possibly could. To be honest it felt rather odd being without the more colourful characters in the team, albeit pleasantly relaxing being able to spend a few hours without telepathic interruptions from Milliardo, having to worry every time Thunderblast randomly wandered off or getting an uneasy feeling in the put of my stomach every time Rhiannon looked even slightly thoughtful.
“Wonder how long it took to put this thing together?” I was snapped out of my musings by the voice of Sindel, who seemed understandably awed by the large structure in front of us. Normally Wyvern Square was home to a rather bustling marketplace but today that had been cleared away, replaced instead by a large iron structure as tall as a three story building and without the slightest clue to what lay inside. Already a large queue was forming outside the entrance as other early birds vied to be the first to experience what was one of the more novel concepts the Guild had come up with. “And how much effort it took to transport it? Didn't you say you saw it being put together at the MTU building, Ade?”
“Yeah. But to be honest nothing that happens in Ulthuan surprises me any more. I lost the last of my disbelief at the entrance to the Tower of Hoeth.” Yes... having learned that the eccentric Raichu Thunderblast was in fact the result of a Mewtwo-instigated experiment into cloning and having met the last high elf mage in the world had finally convinced me of the fact that anything was possible in this land. A true dragon could have landed right beside me now and I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid.
“Personally I think they have a team of highly skilled commando ants that carry this around,” Beckham chipped in unhelpfully.
“Commando ants?” I asked in spite of myself.
“Yeah. They're really difficult to raise, you know. It's really hard finding weapons small enough for them and you can spend years helping them put their stereotypical red bandannas on. Most people think it's not worth it and opt for SAS sheep instead, they're easier to kit out although not quite as good at carrying fifty times their own weight.” The Wartortle grinned cheerfully. “Anyways, why are we stood here jabbering?”
“Actually it's all your fault,” Sindel pointed out.
“Oh yeah. Well I'm going to stop now and let us get on with going inside and doing the whole maze navigating, trap defeating thing like the merry bunch of heroes that we are!” By this point Beckham was striking a supposedly heroic pose that in reality was so ridiculous that it left most of those who saw it paralysed with laughter. “So...uh, how do we get in, anyways?”
“Through the entrance, ya twit,” Katnip finally spoke up, having attended the maze once before and thus knowing pretty much what he was doing. Then again, given any training or combat situation my Raticate seemed to know what he was doing whether he had been in that situation before or not. “An' by the way, dudes, don't think this is gonna be a walk in the park. It might sound like a big fun house but if it's anythin' like it used ta be then we're gonna be tested pretty thoroughly.”
“Hey. Just because you want to take it seriously doesn't mean the rest of us have to!” Kasumi stuck her tongue out at Katnip. “This is gonna be fun! Right, guys?” The Growlithe looked over at the rest of her companions and smiled with satisfaction; those who agreed with her well and truly outnumbered those who took Katnip's side in this – in fact only Sindel and myself seemed to agree that this was anything other than a giant game. “Yeah! So let's go storm that place!” It was very hard to argue with anyone, let alone the already excitable Kasumi, when they seemed so full of life. It was a breath of fresh air after the depression that the Crimson Blades had wrought upon the land.
“Whatever you want, Sumi. Just don't get too carried away, okay?”
“Would I?”
“Yes.” Carefully we picked our way through the ever increasing crowds, both trainer here for a challenge and passer-by struck by the massive structure here in abundance, and towards a small booth set into the far side of the maze's outer rim. The bespectacled man on the other side had a rather familiar face but, as with so many of the Dragons Guild's employees, it wasn't a face I knew as more than someone I passed occasionally running between office blocks.
“Lord Umbreon,” the man nodded respectfully.
“Hi. I'd like to give this maze a go,” I told him almost casually. “It's been a long time since we last saw this used. I've kind of missed it.”
“Really, sir?” To be honest it didn't sound much like the attendant really cared that much about whether I was doing this for a nostalgia trip or not. To him a customer was just that; a customer, nothing more. “Well sir, Guild staff and Dragon Tamers trainers are allowed free entry, so just go right ahead, sir. I hope you have a good time.” I nodded my thanks and stepped up to a large iron door that led to the inside of this strange place. What oddities had its designers in store for us this time, I wondered? There was really only one way to find out. Gingerly I opened the door and stepped inside.

The first few minutes of our time inside the maze had been deceptively quiet. My little party had crept cautiously along dimly lit and spookily decorated corridors, half expecting to find random obstacles just springing out of the walls at us at every step. But so far nothing, aside from the occasional heart-stopping sound effect carefully designed to intensify the creepy atmosphere that accompanied these first few minutes. To be honest if it weren't for the fact that I knew the MTU too well to think this was as good as it got I would have probably been somewhat disappointed.
“Eek!” For what seemed like the millionth time a background noise caused Megan to squeal loudly. Sometimes it was hard to believe that the Marill was from the same place as the rest of us, she seemed so unused to surprises. “Who made this place? They've put way too many loud noises in and not enough quiet ones.”
“If the noise was a quiet one then it wouldn't be a noise. That's why that is,” Beckham nodded sagely.
“Wow, Becks, you're so smart!” Megan gushed.
“Debatable,” Katnip commented, scouting ahead a good five feet in front of the rest of us, his whiskers twitching anxiously. “But Megan's got a good point, I reckon. Too much atmosphere buildin'. Not enough stuff that'll test us. They're tryin' ta distract us. The first trap must be a pretty obvious one, then.”
“You think?” I asked.
“Yeah. I do.” The Raticate nodded his head in the direction of a tripwire at about ankle height. “See, ya go in here expectin' traps so they have ta grab yer attention somehow ta make ya ferget ta look fer bleedin' obvious ones like this. Now let's get over this one.” Most of us managed to traverse the wire easily enough. Megan had to be carried, of course, she was far too squat to be able to make it over without assistance. And as for Kasumi...
“Hey, I can walk by myself you know!” the Growlithe moaned as I picked her up and placed her safely over the other side of the wire. “Don't you trust me not to fall on my face or something?”
“Based on past form, Sumi... no, I don't.” Finally I stepped carefully over the wire myself. “Okay. One trick down, countless to go. I wonder what that wire would have triggered, anyway?”
“I bet it starts some really cool trap you know!” Ryo-Ohki opined. “I wish we could see what it is!”
“Want ta?” Katnip grinned broadly. “No point in havin' the traps ta test our skills if we don't trigger a couple along the way, after all.”
“Eh?” Sindel rolled her eyes. “You go out of your way to point the trap out to us and now you're saying you want to trigger it anyway now we're safely past it? I swear, Katnip, I'll never understand what goes on in that messy head of yours.”
“Hey, Ryo-Ohki wanted ta see what it triggered, I'm too soft with kids ta say no ain't I?” Without waiting for any further objections – and he knew there were going to be many if he let Sindel voice the response she was busy formulating in her head – Katnip wandered calmly over to the wire and kicked it with a hindpaw. There was a mechanical whirring. And then a large steel cage fell from the ceiling. “So much fer spectacular!” the Raticate scoffed from the position he had somehow attained on top of the cage. “Guess it's only the first trap tho. They ought ta get better pretty soon. Wanna get a move on then?”

As it turned out Katnip was spot on in his prediction. Very soon the initial corridor branched out into a vast array of short stretches of different terrain, the Mercenary Trainers Union's mastery of artificial environments used to full effect. To begin with the floor seemed to turn to ice at one point, a predicament that Katnip sailed through with infuriating ease, swiftly followed by Ryo-Ohki, Sindel, Beckham and even Megan. I, however, had never been known for my sense of balance and as such was forced into making a very shaky crossing clinging desperately to the wall. And the less about Kasumi the better, in fact she eventually ended up melting the ice away with her Flamethrower in sheer frustration. But cross this we did. Only to arrive at a rather infuriating grassy corridor filled with vines that seemed more intelligent than even those summoned by Milliardo. We got tangled up. We were tripped. We were tied down. But we emerged relatively unscathed on the other side. To find ourselves in a large foyer shrouded in mist, the only ways forward being a seemingly innocent-looking lift and a metal ladder.
“Finally!” Kasumi beamed. “Forward, troops!”
“Nuh uh,” I shook my head. “If you're thinking we travel in the lift forget it. Last time I was in a design of the maze that thing was booby trapped and locked me in.”
“That was kinda funny,” Katnip reflected. “Seein' ya tryin' ta haul yerself an' Pearl up the elevator cable an' all. But yer right, only so many ways ya can trap a lift an' I bet ya any money that one's got at least six of 'em in store fer us. Up the ladder, dudes?”
“Yeah, because I'm so obviously built for scaling ladders,” Kasumi whined. “Have a little consideration for those of us who can't grip!”
“Oh for goodness' sake...” Sindel rolled her eyes, picking Kasumi up and levitating upwards with the Growlithe in her arms. “When we get out of here you and I are going to have a little talk about you learning to use your telekinesis to move yourself. Honestly, it has more uses than for pinning down whoever you happen to want to try raping, you know.”
“Sindel, you know I only do that to scare my opponents into quitting! I may be a nympho but I'm not evil!”
“The threat in itself is pretty evil if you ask me.” Mercifully another potential argument was cut short by Ryo-Ohki zooming up the ladder and perching upon the top, waving down to those of us who had yet to make the ascent.
“Come on, guys, what's keeping you?” the Pichu giggled, clearly having the time of his life. Well, I was glad. Life had been far too stressful, far too harsh as of late. It was about time we learned to start enjoying ourselves again. “Bet you can't get up here as quick as I can!”
“Oh yeah?” Somehow, in total defiance of every law of nature that I knew, Katnip had scaled the ladder in the few seconds that it took for his teammate to make the boast. It seemed that even childish bravado counted as a challenge to my Raticate. “Bet I can.”
“Guys, this isn't a race you know!” I complained, albeit only because I was going to look painfully slow compared to those two. “Wait for the rest of us, damn it!” Slowly but surely I began to scale the ladder, feeling cold metal beneath my hands as I went. To be honest even I was having a thoroughly good time. Surprising, really, seeing as it usually took a great deal to make me feel anything at all some days. But this time... this time I felt genuinely good. I just hoped that the feeling would last.

The first floor was no less tricky than the ground floor, it turned out. In fact, seeing as the initial 'introduction' to the maze was well and truly over it was in many ways more difficult to traverse. This floor was filled with more traditional traps. Shifting floorboards that constantly threatened to trip you up, obstacle-filled, dimly lit rooms, pits of water secreted in the most infuriating manner possible... it was just one long stumble from start to finish, really. And then we came to a large ramp that led up to the second floor. Only it wasn't so much a ramp as a... see-saw. A tricky little problem, for the instant anyone came even remotely close to the end the ramp would slope down, leaving the exit infuriatingly out of reach.
“Any suggestions?” I found myself asking my assembled pokémon.
“What we need is some kind of weight to keep the platform sloping the right way,” Sindel mused. “Pity we didn't bring Brandy along, really. She would have been very useful at this point.”
“Well we'll just have to make do without her.” Absolutely every idea I had at this point generally relied on the assistance of somebody who wasn't in my currently assembled group! “Any bright ideas, guys?”
“Not really, I mean it's really annoying but we need somebody really fat to stand on the end don't we?” Megan sighed. “I don't really know anyone who's that fat except for maybe a Snorlax. Shall we phone Jeff and ask if we can borrow Bobbery for a bit?”
“Bit too impractical, Megan,” I responded.
“I know! I know! What we do, right, is invent the world's strongest glue and glue the end we want to stay down to the floor!” Beckham suggested. “Or concrete! Yeah, we phone the builders and ask them to sent a cement mixer over and make our own ramp!”
“Even more impractical, Becks.”
“Dunno why we don't just climb up there,” Katnip snorted, demonstrating that this was in fact perfectly possible. If you happened to be a Raticate who spent every waking moment training himself, of course.
“Sadly we're not all as gifted as you are, Katnip.” I rolled my eyes. There had to be some way of overcoming this obstacle, it wouldn't have been included otherwise! “Nobody any ideas?”
“Woo!” A delighted yelp from Kasumi broke my concentration. I turned to find the Growlithe floating clumsily a few inches off the ground. Evidently her earlier argument with Sindel over her usage of her psychic Hidden Power had got her thinking. “Look guys, I can just about manage this levitation thing! Haha, give me some time and I'll be the world's first airborne Growlithe!” I frowned. Levitation... now why had that not occurred to me earlier?
“Hey, none of you guys remembered that was an option either so there's no need to look at me like that!” All eyes by now had turned to Sindel rather pointedly. “Maybe if I hadn't gotten so used to just being a one-girl catering service I'd be more spontaneous when it comes to using my powers!” Almost as she finished speaking the Alakazam closed her eyes and concentrated, her psychic powers more than enough to pick up the entire group and deposit us gently on the ledge of the second floor. There were many advantages to being friends with a naturally gifted psychic, it had to be said! “There. Although I'd love to know how anybody else is going to overcome that one.”
“Personally I don't care,” I commented. “We're up now, that's all that matters to me. Come on, guys, let's get moving.” Well, we could have stood there all day and wondered about the obstacles in this place! Right now we had a task to accomplish. And nothing was going to stand in our way. Well, maybe save some annoying but harmless traps, of course.

“So much for getting moving, eh?” Kasumi giggled. Up to a point the second floor had been relatively plain sailing aside from a few stumbles here and there (mostly on the part of myself and Kasumi, in fact Katnip and Ryo-Ohki were both starting to show signs of exasperation with our total lack of coordination, being as they were the ones who somehow managed to stay about five steps ahead of the rest of us). But just as we rounded a corner to see a large, ornately decorated door that was surely the exit we ran into one final setback. One of us must have triggered a pressure sensitive panel or something in the mad rush to get to our destination, for just at the last second a large portcullis slammed down in front of us, barring any further progress.
“I dunno, can't we just teleport past it or something?” Beckham asked, his hopeful eyes turning to Sindel.
“Whoa, for a start I'm sensing this has been specially treated to block psychic emissions,” my Alakazam said, rolling her eyes as she did so. “Unfortunately for us Alakazams there seems to be quite a few metals that can be found only in Ulthuan with weird properties that stifle supernatural power. And besides which, if this is a training exercise there must be solutions other than 'turn to your local psychic every time you get stuck'. Can we just sit and think about this for a moment instead of taking shortcuts?” For a moment there was complete silence as everybody dwelled upon Sindel's words. And then...
“Hang on,” Megan commented. “Let me get this straight. So that thing's made of a metal we can't teleport through, right?”
“Right.”
“And you think there's a different way around it, right?”
“Right.”
“Okay. So...” Here the Marill frowned. “What was the problem we were trying to solve again?” I paused, almost half expecting a voice from the shadows to respond 'You're the problem, you dozy twat' before stepping out and solving the problem with infuriating ease. But it never happened. Evidently the world's least humble pokémon had actually meant what he said about staying home as opposed to sneakily following us just to point and laugh before asserting his superiority for the millionth time. Milliardo's company was an odd thing. You tended to get thoroughly irked with it when it was there but when it was absent you missed it dearly. If nothing else my Umbreon's ability to turn into shadow would have been very handy at this point!
“Don't worry about it, Megan,” I said distractedly, my eyes wandering about the corridor in search of some button or release mechanism that we had missed. For a while I had no success. And then my eyes alighted on a small silver object that I had originally missed in my initial scans of the area. Cautiously I walked over and took a look. It was a control panel, alright. Clearly labeled as well. So it was quite clear what had to be done to raise the barrier. Only...
“Ade, ya okay?” Katnip asked.
“Sure. I've found what we need to do. There's a bit of a hitch, though.”
“A hitch?”
“Yeah. The gate will be opened by a lever. Only trouble is the lever's missing.”
“Pff. What kinda hitch is that?” The Raticate seemed less than impressed. “Lemme have a look.” He quickly hopped over and peered critically at the control panel. “Hmph. Is that all? Easy.” Without another word he span around, jabbed his tail into the slot where the lever should have gone and jerked hard upward. With a low rumble the portcullis began to slowly raise. “See, dudes, Iron Tail's actually kinda handy fer stuff other than givin' people massive bruises sometimes.”
“Is there anything you can't turn your hand to?” I asked, impressed.
“Tons,” Katnip grinned. “Just every now and then me brain actually gets in gear.”
“We're not complaining, buddy!” Beckham commented. “Anyway, race you all to the door!” Without pausing for agreement the Wartortle shot off, providing his own racing-style commentary as he went. “And it's Beckham in the lead, Beckham shooting for the goal but look who's coming up on his right side... oh! Oh! A surprise bid for first place by Ryo-Ohki passing close... it's going to be a close one alright but look at this, Katnip makes his presence felt by jumping straight over their heads and now it's Katnip, Katnip in the lead and...”
“Boo.” The racing pokémon practically tripped over Sindel who, in a rare moment of silliness, had decided to skip the running part and just teleport over to the door. “I guess that means I win.”
“Hey, that's cheatin'!” Katnip complained.
“Yeah. You're disqualified!” Beckham agreed with his friend. “Anyway, who won that one I wonder?”
“Why are you even asking?” Kasumi complained, bringing up the rear with Megan and myself. “Who wins absolutely every race we have? About the only one on our team I know who can outrun Katnip is Rhi, and that's only really when she cheats and speeds herself up with magic.”
“I don't think anyone's won just yet,” I noted, my eyes elsewhere. “We've one more little thing to deal with.” That was true enough. In the gloom surrounding the grand exit door I could just about make out a small side door opening and a tall, well-toned man dressed in what appeared to be an assassin's uniform step out. He noticed my eyes alight upon him and gave a small nod. I returned the greeting. “This is the part where we have a battle, right?” I asked.
“Correct. And good work on getting this far so quickly, although I'd expect nothing less from a Dragons Guild scholar and tournament champion.” The man stepped out into the light where I could get a better look at him. If this had been an anime he would have most certainly been the token androgynous character. He was possessed of shoulder-length, almost fluffy blonde hair and features almost feminine in their delicacy. “I am Hans Jericho of the Mercenary Trainer's Union, and I shall be your opponent for today.” The man made an extravagant bow that seemed a little too over the top for my liking. “Shall we begin? I prefer to keep things moving quickly.”
“Suits me. What do you intend on holding me back with?” I asked.
“Hmm... I think to begin with... this ought to do very nicely.” Quickly Hans whipped out a pokéball and opened in, spilling its contents out onto the floor in the characteristic burst of light energy. And when this had died down a rather chirpy-looking Chikorita was stood beaming in front of us. “He's young but he's got more energy than most can handle.”
“Sounds like someone I know, actually,” I commented, my eyes falling almost immediately on Ryo-Ohki, who was trying very hard to pretend he wasn't interested in a battle but totally failing. “Something on your mind, kiddo?”
“Eh?” The Pichu looked rather startled. “No, no... yes! Lemme battle! I haven't battled in aaages! I can do it, Ade, let me, let me! Pretty please?”
“I guess that's me decided then. I'll be using my Pichu.” Almost on cue Ryo-Ohki scrambled forward excitedly. This one should be an interesting battle for sure!

FIGHT!!! L6 Pichu v L8 Chikorita!

“Charles! Use your Tackle attack!” our opponent yelled before my Pichu was truly ready for battle. Personally I didn't know which was more unintentionally funny. The fact that I was facing one of those types who clearly loved hamming it up or the fact that Ryo-Ohki was up against Charles the Chikorita. Regardless, this wasn't really typical behaviour for a mercenary.
“Er... Ryo-Ohki, try put him off as best you can,” I suggested by way of retaliation. The simple fact was that my little pokémon wasn't quite trained enough to battle without a little support. At least not yet.
“Gotcha!” Ryo-Ohki grinned, putting on his most pathetic baby face and causing his opponent to pull up short through guilt, only just hitting with enough force to cause my Pichu to slightly stagger. Some pokémon liked to sweet-talk their opponent into not trying their best when using the move Charm. Ryo-Ohki's tactic was just to look as sickeningly cute as he could manage. Nine times out of ten it worked, too. “What do you think I ought to try next?” he asked me, a request for help that rather spoiled his attempts to look harmless. Psychological moves, I had to admit, kind of lost their impact when battling in this fashion.
“Tail Whip,” I replied. “Then just try to remember that your electricity isn't that great against Grass pokémon and you ought to be okay.”
“Okie-dokie!” the Pichu beamed, but his opponent had other plans. Rather roughly the Chikorita barged hard into Ryo-Ohki's side, getting in the Tackle that it had so narrowly missed out on earlier. With a yell of surprise my pokémon tumbled over to one side, skidding hard against the polished floor.
“Good Charles!” my opponent yelled at his pokémon. “Follow it up with a Razor Leaf!” There was no way Ryo-Ohki could have hoped to have avoided the sudden barrage of sharp-edged leaves that seemed to fly from the Chikorita in all directions. So my next instruction was a rather feeble-sounding 'brace yourself!'. To the Pichu's credit he did a quite remarkable job of minimising the damage he took but even so he came out of the attack looking more than a little worse for wear, his body covered with a myriad tiny cuts and scratches. “Now Swords Dance!” The Chikorita began hopping around, building his energy in a rather strange yoga-like routine. Ryo-Ohki looked understandably confused.
“Hey!” I shouted over at my Pichu. “Two can play that game, right? See if you can't copy that dance!”
“Er... okay, I guess...” Ryo-Ohki had no idea what I had in mind but complied anyway, following his opponent's movements carefully. We had been running over the fine art of mimicry lately and the Pichu was getting remarkably good at it. Maybe he still needed some experience before the more bizarre side to Mimic kicked in and he could copy the likes of that Razor Leaf but to honest that didn't matter. The Chikorita was showing him all he needed.
“Enough of this!” our opponent shouted. “Charles, Tackle again!”
“Dodge and keep dancing!” I instructed Ryo-Ohki, who did as he was told, sidestepping his opponent easily without breaking out of the Swords Dance. The concern on the face of the opposing trainer was showing. A Swords Dance held for this long would have boosted Ryo-Ohki's strength considerably, although the mercenary's Chikorita didn't seem to be too worried. Instead it was gearing up for another attempt at a Tackle.
“Charles, hold it!” its trainer yelled a fraction of a second too late. It was already charging. And now was our chance.
“You know what to do next, little buddy!” I grinned at Ryo-Ohki.
“You betcha!” the Pichu cried, suddenly springing at his opponent and colliding with it paw first in a terrible Mega Kick that sent the Chikorita flying along the corridor, knocked out cold by both the force and the positioning of the blow; the kick had struck the poor pokémon squarely in the head. “Yeah! That was cool!” Beaming the little tyke returned to my side with a rather forced swagger in his step. Watching Ryo-Ohki battle was always amusing. I could tell he had potential already. And seeing how he developed from here would be interesting to say the least.

Ryo-Ohki wins!
Ryo-Ohki grew to L7!

“Not bad,” Hans admitted, recalling his fallen Chikorita. “If I'd have known your Pichu could use Mimic I wouldn't have risked Swords Dance. Ah well, you haven't won yet!” Here he flashed an almost coquettish smile. “I still have one more pokémon up my sleeve.”
“Really?” Beckham interrupted. “Do you think he means that literally, Ade? Don't most people keep their pokémon in pokéballs or cages or jam jars or something?”
“What's your Wartortle saying?” Hans asked, secretly hoping that Beckham wasn't asking to have the next match.
“You really don't want to know,” I sighed. “That one could talk the hind legs off a donkey.”
“That's actually been proven in various scientific experiments, you know,” Beckham added. “I just had to talk and talk at a donkey until it's hind legs fell off. I set a new world record for it, you know, shaved three minutes off the previous record holder.”
“Becks, give it a rest,” I sighed before returning my attentions back to my opponent. “Okay, so shall I choose next or are you going to start again?”
“Seeing as this is supposed to be a training exercise the people using the maze should be allowed the opportunity to select the most relevant pokémon for the occasion,” Hans smirked, “so I shall show you what I have left and you can react accordingly. Come out, Hartford!” Again a pokéball was pulled seemingly out of nowhere and again its contents were spilled out onto the floor. This time Hans was using something with considerable more punch than a young Chikorita. This time his pokémon was a large, rocky Graveller that clearly had a decent amount of experience under its belt. Not that this would have been much use against my team, of course. Had I wanted to make this the shortest battle ever I would have just got Beckham to floor it with his Water Gun. But what kind of training would that have been?
“Who...” I began to address my team but was cut short by a rather impatient Alakazam.
“Me,” Sindel said with an absolute tone to her psychic voice. “I haven't battled for a while and I'm worried I might get a little rusty if I don't train some more soon.”
“Sure thing, go right ahead,” I shrugged. To be honest this was still going to be something of a mismatch unless the Graveller had something particularly impressive up its sleeve. But I supposed that Sindel knew what she was doing as she stepped out to take up a battle position in front of the rest of the team. As to what her plan was, however, we would have to just wait and see.

FIGHT!!! L25 Alakazam v L30 Graveller!

To be honest this battle was exactly what Sindel needed after all of the stress of the Crimson Blades. A nice, friendly battle against a pokémon that wasn't going to be out to kill her.
“Well here goes nothing!” To be honest, given the fighting style of the opposing team, Sindel was going to find this much easier than she really wanted it to be. Even if she tried very hard to block it out (which, given the Alakazam's remarkable curiosity when it came to everyone else's business, she wasn't really very good at remembering to do) her psychic powers could still pick up the faint traces of the opposing trainer running through his options in his mind. Like now, for instance. In precisely five seconds time he was going to instruct his Graveller to use Mega Punch. It gave Sindel just enough time to prepare herself so that when the inevitable attack came she was able to teleport to one side and then hit her opponent with a Psybeam as it stood there confused. “You're going to have to react a little quicker than that if you want to stand a chance,” Sindel advised her opponent, well aware of how much she sounded like Pearl as she said this. Wasn't the Ninetales usually the one who seemed insistent on helping her opponent improve its fighting technique as they fought?
“I don't need your advice,” the Graveller responded gruffly almost at the exact instant that Sindel's psychic senses told her she was about to receive an incoming Magnitude attack.
“Hartford, Magnitude!” the trainer roared. Accordingly Sindel levitated herself an inch off the ground and let the shockwaves pass harmlessly underneath her feet.
“How?” The Graveller seemed confused, so in the interests of making the fight a little more interesting Sindel enlightened him of the situation.
“I'm a psychic,” she explained, rolling her eyes. “And your trainer thinks so loudly! Even when I'm not trying I can still find out the next move you're going to use before you get told about it. You really ought to try fighting without his help. Pokémon minds are so much better guarded than those of humans, you know, it'd make things a lot less unfair.”
“Er...” This seemed to be a totally alien concept to the Graveller. “Fight without his help?”
“Yes. You know, like I'm doing? Ade hasn't uttered a word to me. I do what I think best, it's so much quicker and then your opponent doesn't get a shouted warning of your every move.” Here the Alakazam grinned slightly. “Plus I rather like to think I know my own powers a lot better than anybody else does. For example...” Sindel focussed her powers upon herself and as she did so her image began to distort.
“Focus, Hartford, try and catch that Alakazam with another Mega Punch!” The Graveller frowned. Somehow Mega Punch didn't seem like that great an idea. He didn't feel confident in being able to strike Sindel with it at all, especially with Double Team in effect. Almost imperceptively he shook his head at his trainer and shot him a slight wink. It didn't go unnoticed by Sindel, of course, but it did cause her to worry slightly. Why can't I just keep my mouth shut for once? she found herself thinking just before a second Magnitude shook underneath her and sent jarring pains up her legs. She fell forward, catching herself quickly before her face hit the floor. That had hurt! “Awesome! Finish the job!” Sindel really didn't fancy sticking around to find out what finishing the job entailed so she rather quickly teleported herself to a point near the ceiling and remained levitating there. From the air she had a bigger advantage, for at least one of her opponent's moves was ineffective as long as she stayed out of contact with the floor. “Hartford, use Rock Throw!”
“How about we don't bother?” Sindel commented, her mind rather curiously more concerned with wondering where her opponent was going to find any rocks to throw than it was with worrying about any incoming attacks. She watched with a detached interest as a chunk of the rubble near the portcullis area dislodged itself and came flying towards her at great speed, missing her head by inches. It was enough of a close call to shock the Alakazam back into a state of focus. And all of a sudden she found herself wanting the fight over. Quickly. “Try that again and you'll be sorry, buster!” Somewhere along the line the old Sindel fire was beginning to return.
“I doubt that,” the Graveller named Hartford commented, rising to the unintentional bait admirably and raising another chunk of stone to hurl at the hovering Alakazam. It would have been an excellent psychological trick has Sindel actually meant it to be one. Instead she was beginning to wish that nature hadn't missed her out when it was handing out serenity. She really didn't have a lot of ideas left now. There was just one way she was assured of ending the battle. Concentrating hard, she tapped into that strange power at the pack of her mind, converting her psychic energy into something else entirely. Slowly a pure white energy began to form around one of the spoons Sindel carried around to assist in her concentration. And before her opponent could hope to react she all but threw this energy in its direction, striking it hard with a wave of sheer coldness. It was enough to bring the rocky pokémon to its knees. “S...stop it...” Hartford pleaded, the cold too much for him to bear. “Please!”
“You're giving in then?” Sindel asked calmly.
“No! Nev... “ The Graveller winced suddenly. “Alright! Alright! I give up! Now stop it!”
“As you want.” Calmly Sindel suppressed her Hidden Power and dropped nimbly to the floor. That had turned out to be quite an entertaining little fight in the end! “It was quite a good battle though, wasn't it?”
“Yeah,” her opponent agreed. “I don't think I'll be fighting any more psychics for a while, though. You guys tire me out.”
“Mm.” Sindel wasn't really paying attention. Her legs still ached from the earlier Magnitude and a rather interesting idea had just occurred to her. Had she finally acquired enough power to...? It was worth a try. Frowning she concentrated on the pain, directing all her energy towards its source. For a moment nothing seemed to happen. And then, sure enough, the ache seemed to just fade away. A slow smile crept along Sindel's face. Now that was going to come in handy!
“Well done, Sindel!” I grinned broadly. “So much for being a little rusty, eh?”
“Okay, so I'm in better shape than I gave myself credit for,” the Alakazam conceded. “I still needed the training, though.” Truth was she didn't even need that. It was just fun to actually get involved once in a while.

Sindel wins!
Sindel grew to L26!
Sindel learned Recover!
Sindel grew to L27!

A few hours later and our group were well and truly out of the maze and we sat around with a handful of the more bored members of my team enjoying ice cream from a nearby ice cream parlour. That was the beauty of living in Ulthuan. It was such a wonderful, majestic place but still managed to have all of the comforts of civilization never more than ten minutes away unless you really went out of your way to lose yourself in the wilderness.
“What, so Thingy pauses in the middle of a battle and starts lecturing her opponent on its battle technique?” Milliardo had almost choked on his ice cream as events were relayed to him. “Why am I not surprised?”
“What do you mean by that?” Sindel had asked crossly.
“I mean, Thingy, that if nagging was an Olympic sport you'd be a gold medal holder.”
“I could say a similar thing involving you and being a thoroughly annoying, obnoxious little...”
“Will you two just stop pretending not to get along for once?” Pearl had interrupted, taking her eyes off daughter Celeste for a moment. It had been her idea to meet the group on our exit from the maze, largely because Celeste had decided she missed her daddy and wanted to go see him. The fact that Milliardo, Pandora and Marius had decided to tag along had nothing to do with her. “It sounds like you had a good time in there.”
“Yeah,” Katnip nodded enthusiastically. “It was miles better than the last time. 'Course, we didn't have Team Rocket hangin' over us this time.”
“It does rather tend to make a difference, doesn't it?” Milliardo mused, looking thoughtful for a second before realising he was in severe danger of letting his guard down and hence changing the subject rather hurriedly. “Quit worrying about me and Thingy, Pearl, it's just banter. Harmless banter.”
“It is?” Sindel asked dubiously.
“Guys, there was a reason I was trying to change the subject, you know,” Pearl interrupted for a second time.
“Because you're no fun?” Milliardo offered, well aware that the Ninetales wasn't the sort to get involved in a match of insults but trying to sucker her in regardless.
“Milliardo, just give up trying to wind everybody up for once and eat your ice cream.” I rolled my eyes. “Actually, I've a question for you. What's happened to Rhi? Normally your little family are all practically joined at the hip.” Well, it was true! My Umbreon had done a very good job of establishing his own not-so-little clique, those closest to him hardly ever leaving his side.
“How should I know?” Milliardo responded. “I'm not her guardian. Last time I saw her she had switched back to mopey magic Rhiannon so I'm guessing she's off contemplating throwing herself off a huge, majestic cliff and into the violent, thrashing oceans or something.”
“Milliardo! That's a horrible thing to say about your own flesh and blood!” Pearl admonished.
“Oh come on now, Pearl, what rock have you been living under for the past few years? You ought to know by now that I don't actually mean that!” The Umbreon scowled. “Being serious seeing as some of us evidently have no sense of humour whatsoever... you know what Rhi's like when she gets all reflective, she's probably out wandering aimlessly somewhere desolate and dwelling on stuff. Shame ice cream was just a whim, if it had always been part of the day's events I'd bet anything on her being here about now.”
“Actually that is something of a concern, father,” Marius spoke up. “Aunt Rhiannon does seem to be somewhat overdeveloped when it comes to bizarre and improbable powers, would she not have realised where we were by now and been drawn towards us by that legendary sweet tooth of hers?”
“Oh she's a big girl. Whatever's keeping her I'm sure she can handle it. She came out alive after facing %*^&ing Reaper, for *&£$'s sake!” Somehow Milliardo didn't sound that convinced. Marius was right. What the hell was keeping her? And why did he have a feeling that this all spelled trouble of the highest degree?

To be continued...

-----

Anyways, may Rhiannon have an RBG from the Free Range Corral plz so we can find out what happened to her? *pays 7 stamps*

AntiAsh Superstar
22nd September 2005, 06:39 AM
Sorry for the double post. Shonta, take 13 stamps for your two battles, and congratulations on Lily's evolution! Being a Bellossom will suit her, I reckon, she's a very sweet character. :)

*pokes somebody to sort out the RBG he requested in his last post*

classy_cat18
22nd September 2005, 11:52 PM
Can my L6 Zangoose Katana have an RBG from the Free Range Corral? *hands over 7 stamps*

Wolfsong
23rd September 2005, 12:33 PM
Ade, sorry was busy with course work. I'll try to get to your battles by monday night at the latest seeing as i have a test and a quiz due Sunday and Monday. Rhiannon will be battling a Porygon2.

Shonta, Katana will be battling a Sentret.

Lady Vulpix
25th September 2005, 12:22 PM
Sorry for the long delay, I've been way too busy. I finished rating the battles on Tuesday, but didn't have the time to post. I would have given Shonta 13 stamps as well, it's good to see we give out stamps evenly. :)

As for Ade... Oh, the suspense! I liked the layout of the parts of the maze you described, and all the references to past stories (and even future ones, though it was sad to see how Pandora was affected). Take 27 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

I hope I have some free time this week. I really need it. I'm starting to feel Karin may be able to be more active here than I can these days. It's sad to see her leave the DT staff, but if she's made up her mind, I'll respect her decision.

The Blue Avenger
25th September 2005, 12:45 PM
Ugh, I think I need an extension for this scenario, please.

Lady Vulpix
25th September 2005, 07:39 PM
Extension granted. And just in case, I'll request one too because I've been way too busy lately.

Shadow Djinn
27th September 2005, 10:33 PM
Trying to get back into AC Pokemon again, so I'd like an extension for this scenario please. :X

Lady Vulpix
28th September 2005, 06:50 AM
Extension granted. Welcome back. :)

*Murkrow
29th September 2005, 05:39 AM
Can I have an extension to this scenario as well, please?

Wolfsong
29th September 2005, 11:21 AM
Gabi and Hannah you both get the extensiions. I know that i am going to need one. Hopefully when i finish this weeks assignments i can work on my story for the last scenario x.x;;. Extension for this scenario please.

Lady Vulpix
29th September 2005, 04:28 PM
You get the extension, Amy.

Wow, everyone's asking for an extension these days. Everyone but Ade. How does he do it?

AntiAsh Superstar
30th September 2005, 06:41 AM
My excuse is that I don't have many hobbies that aren't writing and drawing and when I start on either I don't stop for about two hours. (not having schoolwork or exams or stuff from work that eats into my free time helps, too, as does being happy on about six hours sleep a night). :D

AntiAsh Superstar
11th October 2005, 10:25 AM
Aaanayways, here's me Rhiannon RBG, have fun trying to make sense out of it. :D Somebody toss an RBG for Scratchy out of the Nature Protection Agency please? *pays 7 stamps* ^_^

-----
For Rhiannon the day had started off in a reasonably cheerful manner. It was nice every now and then, the Jolteon had to concede, to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about dangers from supernatural realms or killer scientific experiments or anything of that nature. And with over half of the usual rabble either out training or otherwise occupied she finally had a decent opportunity to relax.
“Ah, this is the life!” the Jolteon smiled lazily as she stretched out in the gentle sunshine that shone down in our expansive back garden, warming all around with its soft glow. Yes, a life of adventure and magic was all very well and good – hell, even this easy-going side of Rhiannon would have been at a bit of a loss had the world no use for her talents – but some days just called for a spot in the sunshine with a saucer of tea and a CD of over the top love songs playing in the background. “No stress, no worry... just niiiiice and relaxing. Shame necromancy isn't one of my talents, the only thing missing here's a certain someone to snuggle up with.” Here Rhiannon paused. “Agh! What is up with me? I mean, he was wonderful... and noble... and kind... well, maybe scratch that one, he could be very vicious to anyone that wasn't me but...” The Jolteon sighed wistfully, her mind racing back to days that seemed darker in some ways but more fulfilling in others. The days of the Dark Cloak, and the days of whirlwind romance. The days of Amon, a smart, charismatic sergeant in the pokémon army and the only one who would ever possess Rhiannon's heart. “Damn it, she's being mercifully quiet lately and still I can't keep my mind off this stupid subject.” Once more the Jolteon sighed, rolling upright so as to take a lap of her tea. “Why did you have to be so damn irresistible, Amon? Or why did you have to go get yourself killed? You could've done one or the other but both just isn't fair.” Rhiannon knew she was being stupid. For her it was actually quite simple to get back in contact with her dead lover. Her very aura seemed to be able to sustain him and his best friend as spirits in the real world for short periods of time. But that wasn't enough. It would never be enough. “Ugh. Well done, Rhi, you've just ruined another perfectly lovely day by dwelling on the past too much.” By now the Jolteon's mood was totally ruined, in fact already she found the tears welling up in her eyes. “Curse you, me!” And with this the Jolteon darted away, trying to find some place to hide until her melancholy mood passed. Sometimes it was hard to shake the feeling that the split personalities were only the start of her problems.

The creature watched her leave with interest. Here was a soul quite unlike any of the other tasteless morsels it had snacked on during the course of its journey. Here was a challenge at last. A challenge that it was going to enjoy overcoming.

A short while later and Rhiannon's brain had resorted to its usual less than helpful tactic for dealing with unwanted stress; it had shut down completely and let somebody else take over for a while. Not that Rhiannon's other persona was any better equipped for dealing with melancholia. If anything she actually took such feelings worse than her childlike side. But to the adult side of her mind feeling inwardly small and pitiful and in need of a reassuring nuzzle from one she knew would never be able to nuzzle her again was just a normal state of affairs. Especially now that she didn't have any ongoing problems to deal with other than these internal ones.
“As Milliardo keeps telling us, we really shouldn't have much trouble in finding something to keep us occupied.” Whereas her other self was the sort who liked lounging in the sun, this Rhiannon had found a new perch on the rooftops staring out at the green suburban paradise in front of her. She should have been feeling at peace in a place like this, where every house was well-maintained and everyone was open and friendly towards each other. But she didn't. She felt restless. She felt as if she didn't keep moving that her heartbreak would consume her. “So why do we have so much difficulty in moving on?” Here the Jolteon winced slightly as a sudden pain dug into the side of her head, the mental equivalent of a sharp tap.
“Because you're a pain in the butt, that's why!” Rhiannon complained to herself. “You know, I was perfectly happy just playing about and having a bit of a sunbathe but then you interrupted and dragged us up onto the stupid rooftop!”
“I... I'm sorry. It was selfish of me.”
“Oh don't you get me started on you being selfish! Who decided we had to go join the Dark Cloak anyway? Who decided we had to undergo all those experiments? Who came up with every single bad idea we've ever come up with? You, that's who. All for your own bloody benefit.” This voice was sounding decidedly annoyed. Rhiannon didn't tend to do it very often, only at those times when she was feeling at her most fragile and unstable, but sometimes both facets of her persona seemed to occupy her body at the same time. The results were never pleasant and usually ended up with whichever one was left at the end of it (this was usually the adult Rhiannon as her other self was usually rather riled during these incidents and had a nasty habit of metaphysically storming off in a sulk mid-argument) feeling a thousand times worse than she had to begin with.
“Will you get over that?” Rhiannon snapped to herself, her patience finally wearing thin. “As I keep trying to explain...”
“Yeah, yeah, we wouldn't be here now if we hadn't been through all of that crap, yadda yadda. Would that have been such a bad thing, though? The last time I worked the figures out, I'll have you know, hundreds in Ulthuan have really good reasons to hate us, even more have really good reasons to fear us and if that isn't enough if someone so much as mentions the word 'Amon' to you in particular you stop working for hours at a time.”
“I wouldn't have expected you to understand. All you care about is your doll collection, you have no idea how the heart works.”
“Hey!” All of a sudden Rhiannon sounded close to tears. “That's mean! Just because I don't act like I'm thinking about him all the time doesn't mean I don't care! I'll have you know I loved him just as much as you did, and you're probably right about not being able to love anyone else but... but...” Here her voice was very little more than a whimper. “...I hate feeling like this, is it too much to ask to pretend everything's okay every once in a while? The past hurts too much to live in it all the time.” There was a long pause. Inside Rhiannon's head there was a rather odd sensation that couldn't be described but was best explained as a rather awkward hug between her two selves.
“I'm sorry. We should both try harder to get along. We're not such polar opposites that this would be impossible. And I know that you cared just as much as...” All of a sudden Rhiannon's stomach lurched, as if something horrible was on the horizon. “Maybe we can finish this exchange some other time.” The Jolteon's eyes scanned the horizon but found nothing out of the ordinary. Yet there was something. She could sense it. “Whatever you are you had best show your face this instant!”
“Or what will you do?” A rather cruel, metallic voice rang out from the level of the street. Cautiously Rhiannon peered down to see a most unlikely figure. Staring up at her was a most unusual Porygon2... not in apparence, for that was actually quite ordinary; it was the sheer aura of the pokémon that gave Rhiannon cause to worry. This creature was far more than it appeared to be. “I'm waiting for an answer.”
“You will get none before you answer a few questions of our own.” Effortlessly Rhiannon jumped down from the roof and landed neatly in front of the robotic pokémon. “Why have you been watching us? What do you want?”
“You're... interesting,” the Porygon2 smirked. “So much stronger than the others around here. You intrigue me. You make me wonder... you make me wonder what one such as you would taste like.”
“We have heard some particularly bizarre introductions in our time, friend,” Rhiannon snorted, saying the word 'friend' as if it meant the exact opposite, “but this ranks particularly highly in its oddity. State your name and business or else we shall no longer entertain your presence here.”
“My name? I cannot say. You know how it works. I give you my name and I give you my power.”
“Naturally,” Rhiannon nodded, now totally convinced of the nature of the being she was dealing with. Oh why did that annoying Enigma have to be right all the time? “But that doesn't stop you from explaining your business here.”
“My business?” The opther pokémon laughed suddenly. “How about I give you a short demonstration? And don't worry, it's going to be very short.” All of a sudden the Porygon2 darted forward, attempting to strike Rhiannon with a beak too sharp to be real. The Jolteon rolled her eyes in despair. Just another half-crazed lunatic who had heard of her reputation and was trying to earn respect by defeating her in combat. Well, she had destroyed many of its like before and was certain that another head on the pile wasn't exactly going to hurt.
“It will be short, we guarantee you,” the Jolteon snarled, striking up a fighting pose. “Whether it goes the way you want it to, however, is a totally different matter.”

FIGHT!!! L13 Jolteon v L13 Porygon2!

To be perfectly honest Rhiannon really wasn't too sure as to what to expect from this particular opponent. She had sensed that it was not strictly of this world from the outset, hence it was highly unlikely that it would play by this world's rules. Sure enough her opponent's actions proved her right when all of a sudden it shot forward in an attempt to Tackle her that wouldn't have been out of place coming from Katnip. Rhiannon only just managed to flip out of the way, using her powers to wrap a protective barrier around herself as she did so. There was no telling what was going to happen in this battle, after all, and it was best to be prepared for every eventuality!
“You're fast!” her opponent commented.
“We happen to be a Jolteon,” Rhiannon shot back with a venom that truly marked her out as Milliardo's sister. “Were you expecting us to be sluggish and clumsy?”
“No, however, I wasn't expecting you to be so skilled,” her opponent grimaced. “I may have to start trying now.”
“Not if we beat you to it,” Rhiannon commented dully, concentrating hard so that her powers reached further back than the energy that had been artificially given to her and instead tapped into a source that had been at her side since birth. “We're far from a one-trick pokémon, you see.” All of a sudden twin, thick green vines erupted from either side of the Jolteon and snaked their way over to her opponent with deadly intent.
“Interesting,” the Porygon2 smirked. “Shame I know almost the exact same trick, really.” Almost instantly the vines seemed to turn back on themselves and shoot towards Rhiannon instead. The Jolteon frowned, trying to put her full force into returning the vines back to their original course. But it was no use. Somehow or other her opponent's mastery of Grass Hidden Power was far superior to her own, so in the end she really had little choice but to simply dive out of the way at the last second. Rhiannon frowned. This wasn't right! She could count the number of creatures she couldn't overpower in a battle of spiritual energies on the toes of one paw... or so she had thought. But now this creature had come along and was firing vines at her in a barrage that would have been impossible for any ordinary pokémon to maintain control of, a barrage so great that even Rhiannon couldn't hope to dodge them all. Instead the best she could manage was to try an minimise the damage as best as she could. Which wasn't easy in the least. Even the strength of her opponent's blows was something other than natural, enough to topple even her.
“We're sick of playing games,” the Jolteon snarled, picking herself up from where a particularly well-placed attack had knocked her and fixing her opponent with an icy glare. “Time we taught you not to interfere with others!” Growling angrily Rhiannon began to store up the electrical charge within her body, preparing to unleash the full might of her natural power as a Jolteon. And yet her opponent didn't seem concerned at all. Not even when the full might of her Thunderbolt escaped her body and blasted the Porygon2 with a huge electrical current. All it did was wince slightly and smirk to itself. “What, exactly, do you find so amusing?”
“How feeble your attempts at attacking are. Go ahead, try again. I dare you.”
“What kind of a fool do you take us for?” Rhiannon snapped, feeling more than a little insulted by this pitifully see-through ploy. “Whatever you're trying to do depends upon us taking up the offensive, doesn't it? Well sorry but we have been up against far better tactics than yours!” Quickly Rhiannon shot forward, skidding in the dirt and kicking a large cloud of it into the eyes of her opponent. A dirty trick, maybe, but until the Porygon2 showed its hand she didn't have much choice but to stall for time, did she? Even this, however, didn't seem to bother the bizarre pokémon much.
“A pity I underestimated you,” the Porygon smirked in its mechanical voice. “You're also a lot smarter than I was expecting. No matter. The damage has already been done. Your Thunderbolt earlier was plenty enough for my purposes.”
“What?” All of a sudden Rhiannon realised what her opponent had been trying to do. It had been using Bide all this time. She could tell just from the incredible battle aura building around the pokémon, something many times the strength of the attacks it had suffered. It was a risky, almost suicidal trick most of the time, as many who attempted it either found themselves dispatched while they stored energy or found their opponent wising up to their tricks and only using defensive techniques until they tried something else. But in this case it had actually paid off, Rhiannon suddenly finding herself buffeted by a huge torrent of energy that returned the damage she had inflicted in double. Twice the strength. Twice the force. Twice the sheer agony. “Ah!” The Jolteon was finally blown off her paws and flung hard to the ground, landing awkwardly on one of her legs. The sickening snap of bone was unmistakable, as was the sharp pain that accompanied it. It was almost enough to bring tears to Rhiannon's eyes. Almost. But this side of her was more than used to pain and refused to so much as whimper. For that would be showing weakness. A critical error when your opponent was quite clearly not holding anything back.
“Give up,” the Porygon2 sneered. “Surrender yourself to me. Your body would be far more fitting than this clumsy oaf I've currently borrowed.”
“We suspected you weren't as you appeared to be,” Rhiannon snarled, trying to focus in spite of the pain. “Who are you really?”
“Me? I'm merely a wanderer. I hunt down the strongest, most adept fighters... then I claim their souls for my own. Yours will be a fine addition to my collection.”
“You couldn't handle our souls,” Rhiannon growled angrily. “Arrogance is a weakness, so don't think this is over yet!” Rhiannon quickly focused her power upon her injuries. It couldn't be said that the Jolteon was an expert on regeneration. Not like her old friend Alto, whose powers worked all the time and made the Scizor practically immortal. Hell, even Thunderblast was a better healer than Rhiannon was. But what the Jolteon did know was more than enough to patch up her injured leg and give her just enough energy to spring up suddenly and strike her opponent with a strong Tackle that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“Why you!” the Porygon2 snarled and Rhiannon bounced off its side and landed upright, preparing for her next attack. “Have you not learned? I shall just bounce whatever you use next back in your face!”
“There's one slight flaw in that plan,” Rhiannon commented calmly, feeling the electrical charge building up within her body. “That only works if you happen to survive our next attack.” And with this she unleashed a terrible, terrible blast of electricity at her opponent, a second Thunderbolt fueled with all the fighting spirit that she could muster. It proved simply too much for the possessed pokémon, who gave a terrible screech of pain before slumping to the floor, its energy totally drained. “We don't know where you come from or why you're here,” Rhiannon said coolly to her opponent's still form. “But unless you want us to unleash our true power you had best leave this place at once.” The Jolteon glared down at her foe. Why did she have the horrible feeling that this wasn't quite over yet?

Rhiannon wins!
Rhiannon grew to L14!

“Well done!” Just as Rhiannon was about to leave an all too familiar voice rang out from the rooftops where she had been sitting just a few moments ago. “See, I just knew you'd be worth watching!”
“Enigma?” Rhiannon asked in mock despair. Why was this not exactly unexpected?
“Hi Rhi!” A small, fluffy Eevee with a bright red ruff seemed to blink into existence out of nowhere to a point directly in front of Rhiannon, so that its bright, cheery eyes were directly in the Jolteon's face. “Or should that be the great and powerful Lady Rhiannon? I can never quite know what I should be addressing you as, you know.”
“Rhi will do just fine,” Rhinannon groaned. “The other sounds far too sarcastic for our liking. What on earth are you doing here?”
“Oh, the usual... you know, spying on you because Lord Absol thinks you're a walking daemon magnet.” Suddenly Enigma's eyes alighted on the fallen Porygon2 and her eyes lit up even further, if it was indeed possible for the Eevee to look any more annoyingly perky. “And what do you know? He was right! Thanks a bunch. You've no idea how much of a pain it is to track down these body-hopping ones, you've saved us possibly weeks of tracking here.” Enigma's eyes flashed an odd turquoise colour and a cage of bright blue flame surrounded Rhiannon's vanquished opponent.
“What are you doing?”
“Making sure it can't escape,” Enigma explained. “As one of the Porygon family it could quite happily turn into the element I make the cage out of and in most cases escape unharmed. But, as you probably know, one pokémon element has a rather odd property of being able to defeat itself.”
“So you surround it with dragon fire,” Rhiannon finished. “If it tries to escape then its traits convert it to a Dragon type and the cage hurts it twice as much. Not bad.”
“Well, I am an old hand at this, not to mention about a hundred times smarter than your average Eevee,” Enigma chuckled with a typical lack of modesty. “Anyway, I'll be taking this one back with me to my Order. We'll have it back to normal in a few hours and the world will be one less monster better off. But first... well, I've got bigger fish to fry than you at the moment so I guess this will be goodbye for a while.” Enigma looked almost glum. “Shame, really, you are a walking magnet for trouble, it's been rather fun hanging around you.” Suddenly she perked up again. “Anyway, seeing as I'm so nice and all I'm willing to give you something as compensation for all the spying I've been doing. Just name what you want and it'll be done.”
“You're serious?” Rhiannon asked cautiously.
“Sure am. Just don't ask for anything impossible like free entry to the White Tower's library or random raising of the dead. Some things just aren't meant to be.”
“Fine. Then...” Rhiannon paused for a moment, thinking hard. “Let us have something that you've not once given us all the time we've known you. We want answers, Enigma. Tell us about yourself. Tell us how you ended up working for the Order of the Dragon. We suspect this is going to be our only chance to find out and you've been doing a remarkably good job of arousing our curiosity over the past few months.”
“Ouch,” Enigma winced. “I had this horrible feeling you might say something like that.” The Eevee sighed deeply. “Okay, a deal's a deal. I'll tell you what you want to know... no, even better... I'll show you.”
“You'll what?” Rhiannon asked, watching as her companion's eyes began to glow a rather odd, pure white colour. Enigma turned to her with a rather wicked glint in her glowing eyes.
“Relax. You ought to be used to the reality-hopping bit. This won't bother you in the slightest. We're just going to a quick stroll through my memory, that's all.” And at that point everything went black.

The two pokémon found themselves in the thick of a large forest, a forest that Rhiannon couldn't quite place. Which was odd, really. In her time as a general she had pored rather frequently over maps of Ulthuan, she had learned the terrain extensively. But this place... there was something odd about it beyond it being a part of her current companion's memory. She just couldn't place what.
“Oh, you might want to watch out for the gigantic shiny Beedrill of doom over there,” Enigma chuckled, breaking Rhiannon's concentration for long enough to point out exactly that; an oversized and oddly coloured Beedrill flying straight for the two pokémon. Rhiannon sidestepped quickly, causing the creature to overshoot and collide with a nearby oak tree. “Bye bye, gigantic shiny Beedrill of doom!” the Eevee laughed. “Although this does raise a fascinating question, doesn't it?”
“It does?” Rhiannon asked cautiously, having hours worth of fascinating questions she wanted to ask and yet feeling quite certain that not a single one of them was going to be the one Enigma was thinking of.
“Of course. What kind of state is a creature in if it's unconscious in a reality that only exists in someone else's subconsciousness anyway?”
“An irrelevant one,” Rhiannon concluded, putting an end to this particular topic before it even started. “Were you not supposed to be explaining why you're in the job you're in, Enigma?”
“Ah yes. We're getting to that bit. Follow me.” Together the two pokémon made their way through the forest, past some quite bizarre examples of flora and fauna that made most genetics experiments look quite sane. There was a tree whose trunk seemed to be formed out of three smaller trunks plaited together. There was a Magmar whose flames flickered an odd purple colour. Eventually Rhiannon spoke up about this.
“It strikes us that we haven't seen a single instance of a standard specimen of any species at all since we entered this forest,” the Jolteon commented. “Was it actually like this or are we merely witnessing a by-product of your strange imagination?”
“I was wondering how long it'd take you to notice that, Rhiannon,” Enigma chuckled, hopping nimbly over a twisted tree root that tried to grab at her as she passed. “Let me fill you in a little here. We're actually in the forest of Kalaria Faern... well, what used to be called Kalaria Faern by the ancients, at any rate, I neither know nor care what mankind has renamed it simply because elven is a much prettier language I find. It translates to 'Magic Grove', you know, which kind of proves my point. Anyway...” Here the Eevee ducked under a low-flying Yanma. “...it grew on the site of an ancient battlefield. The war itself is so old that even our sources are pretty sketchy on the details, but this particular battle left the land irradiated with some very potent magic. So practically everything being born here ends up altered somehow by the little magical power that remains.”
“Altered?” The penny dropped. “We presume this is where you were born, correct? And your rather... unusual Hidden Power is your personal mutation.”
“Bingo!”
“And the scent as well?”
“Ah.” Enigma gave a rather uncomfortable grin. “No, the lack of scent is my fault entirely. I wanted to become as hard to detect as possible so I got my Order to have my scent glands surgically removed.”
“Enigma, the more we learn of you the more we find ourselves wishing we had just listened to you when you told us certain things were secrets.”
“I know, you'll learn soon enough that I'm always right about everything, especially about when not to ask questions,” the Eevee beamed. “Brilliant, isn't it?” Suddenly she drew to a halt and gestured for Rhiannon to do the same. “Ssh! We're here. Take a peek over that shrubbery just ahead of you.” Cautiously the Jolteon made her way forward and did as she was told, pushing her head through a conveniently yellow bush that allowed her to blend right in with her surroundings. Her eyes landed upon a little clearing with a babbling brook where a little family played. There was the mother, a petite Espeon whose fur was coloured the green of the grass instead of the usual lilac of her species. And the father, a strong Vaporeon with a pure white frill. And three little cubs with ruffs of fur coloured in red, yellow and blue respectively.
“Is that... we mean, was that you, Enigma?” Rhiannon asked, her eyes alighting on the Eevee cub with the bright red ruff. It was a silly question, really, given the context of their visit but the Jolteon spoke it anyway.
“Yup!” Enigma's head pushed its way forward until it was level with Rhiannon's. “Cute, wasn't I? By the way, you don't have to be so cautious. They can't hear you. Or see you, for that matter. This, after all, is just a memory, it's not like it's real and we've travelled in time or anything. Which, given what will be happening in... ooh, roughly two minutes time, is probably just as well for us.”
“Why? What happens in two minutes?”
“If I wanted to tell you I would have just done so instead of going to all this trouble to actually show you, so quit with the questions before I smack you over that notorious little head of yours.” Rhiannon opened her mouth to chastise the Eevee for her lack of respect but the words didn't quite come out. It was an odd sensation, as if she had somehow missed the point where Enigma had pushed her luck far enough to warrant retaliation and as a result they were now in a new, previously uncharted place where any further luck-pushing seemed so outrageous that it could cause the brain to totally seize up. In the end Rhiannon reluctantly had to concede that here, at least, her companion was in charge and hence all she could do was to watch and wait.

Two minutes passed. And nothing happened.
“Well?” Rhiannon asked Enigma.
“Relax. As it so happens I factored in the time it'd take for you to turn to me impatiently and ask why nothing was happening. It wouldn't be the same without the dramatic pause before the action starts. Turn your head roughly forty-five degrees to the right and you'll see what you need to see.” Stifling the urge to do something unspeakably violent to the Eevee – for Enigma had mastered the art of being thoroughly annoying to such a degree that even Rhiannon's adult mind found its usually unlimited patience tested – the Jolteon cautiously turned her head. To find the start of a scene that even her imagination could not have forseen. There tearing through the forest was a Nidoking... only this was no ordinary Nidoking. Its eyes were shot with fear and panic. Traces of foam were coming from its mouth. And it's arm... oh, it's arm! The entire right arm of the pokémon was totally missing, replaced instead by several tentacles that seemed as black as the night sky and yet somehow glowed with an ethereal light. The last time Rhiannon had set eyes upon such a sight was... well, it had been deep within her own subconsciousness as the experiments of the Dark Cloak rather crudely forced her spirit to fuse with that of a demon. Back then she had been within carefully monitored conditions, there had been no outcome available than for her own consciousness to extinguish that of the intruder and claim its power for her own. But, the Jolteon found herself wondering, what would happen if she had been the one to lose the inner struggle?
“It's possessed,” Rhiannon found herself saying dumbly.
“Of course it is. Very soon that Nidoking isn't going to be existing as a Nidoking at all. Daemonic possession is a far more common occurrence than you'd like to believe, Rhiannon. All it takes is for a pokémon to stumble into the wrong ruins and touch the wrong hidden artifact – or indeed just walk across the wrong piece of land – and bam! They've left themselves wide open. The ancients have a lot to answer for, Rhiannon. They left Ulthuan so drenched in magical energy that scenes like this happen almost every day. It's why most of us in the Order of the Dragon hardly get any sleep. There's always some idiot who's managed to lose their body to the forces of darkness.” There was an uncharacteristically stony expression upon Enigma's face. “You want to know why I'm happy to play the demon hunter, Rhiannon? Watch, and then tell me you still don't understand.”
“Enigma?” Rhiannon frowned before returning her gaze to the clearing. By now the frantic Nidoking had reached the clearing, leaving the Eevee cubs cowering behind their parents, both of whom seemed more concerned than scared.
“Garad, what's happened to you?” the Vaporeon finally said to the intruder. “What happened, my friend?”
“Karasho, it hurts,” the Nidoking whimpered pitifully. “It hurts so much and it's pressing so hard, it presses so hard and won't stop!” Suddenly it howed wildly, its tentacles seeming to rush for the Water-type's throat and then halting at the last moment. “Karasho, get away from me! Get away, all of you, I can't keep it at bay for much longer!”
“Garad, how can we possibly leave you when you seem so distressed?” Personally Rhiannon thought Enigma's father either incredibly compassionate or incredibly stupid. And seeing as he had a family to protect her judgement was swinging more towards the latter option. “Come on, old friend. We'll find a way to help you. After all we've been through together I won't abandon you now. How did this happen to you?”
“I...” The Nidoking blinked at the Vaporeon with tear-stained eyes, for a moment wresting control of his gradually dwindling sanity. “It was in the forest's centre... I was exploring, you see, and I came across these strange ruins and... well, I knew I shouldn't but I went in and then... and then...” Suddenly the pokémon's eyes widened and it cried out in pain. “Karasho, you must leave me! At once!”
“Garad, I...” The Vaporeon took a step forward. A step which proved to be a terrible mistake. All of a sudden the tentacles shot forward and pierced the pokémon several times as if they were sharpened blades. “Garad?” the Water-type asked pitifully before falling silent for good.
“YOU MUST ALL LEAVE!!!” the Nidoking suddenly shrieked before tentacles seemed to burst from every inch of flesh it possessed, what was once a pokémon torn apart in an instant to reveal a twisted mass of tentacles surrounding a single, blood-red eye, like some kind of nightmarish Tangela with a taste for blood. It turned its pupil upon the remaining terrified members of the Eevee family, the pups cowering helplessly behind their mother, who was trying very hard to put a brave face on for her children but was quite obviously at the very edge of her sanity. “YOU MUST... ALL... DIE!” Again the nightmarish tendrils shot forward, scattering the pokémon as they tried desperately to run for cover. Not that this did much good. One fell. And then another. And then another. Until only the red-ruffed cub remained, the monster advancing upon the little creature as it cowered in the corner of the clearing, its limits of fear pushed far beyond the point that anyone should have had to endure. “Now... just you, little one.” A tendril began to snake its way towards the little pokémon, who closed its eyes waiting for the inevitable end to this nightmare.

That end never came.

“Kest tanar'ri!” A harsh, commanding voice called out from an unknown point, the sort of voice it was impossible to ignore. Rhiannon recognised it almost instantly and very quickly deduced the remainder of this plot. Still, it was interesting to see how all this was going to play out. She watched as several silver arrows flew out of the surrounding forest, each pinning a tentacle to a nearby tree until the monster was totally helpless and secreting a clear, acidic goo from several minor injuries.
“How can you stand to watch all this, Enigma?” the Jolteon whispered to her companion, who hadn't so much as flinched as she watched what must have been a terribly traumatic event from her past played all over again. If it had been Rhiannon herself, she reflected, she would have gone to pieces long before now. There was no greater torment than seeing those you love hurt, after all.
“It's just a fact of life, Rhiannon,” the Eevee replied calmly. “The strong prey upon the weak. Those of us born weak have to just accept our fate and that of those around us. Besides, this was all a long time ago and what's done is done, right? No point crying over spilt milk and all that.” Enigma offered a cheery smile but it was the sort of cheery smile that Rhiannon was more used to seeing from her brother when he was making jokes about Team Rocket. The mood was perfect, the words seemed perfectly in character, but there was just that little something behind them that indicated that everything wasn't quite as rosy as it should have been. “Now watch, would you? This is your first and last chance to see the amazing Enigma cinematic experience so you may as well make the most of it instead of getting all bewildered that my emotions don't work in the same way as yours.” Reluctantly Rhiannon returned her attention to the scene in front of her. She still had so many questions, so much she wanted to say! Enigma was a spunky little irritant who more than lived up to her name, surely, but despite herself Rhiannon desperately wanted to befriend the Eevee in spite of the fact that their respective natures almost certainly meant that such a relationship would have been impossible. “Look, would you?” the Eevee scolded, noticing that Rhiannon was still not giving the scene her full attention. Up in the clearing a tall, thin man with almost impossibly pale skin and thick black hair had stepped out brandishing a gemstone-studded bow that was already poised to fire a final arrow directly into the eye of his quarry. The clothing was slightly less cumbersome than Rhiannon remembered – here the usual padding had been dropped for a less cumbersome black tunic embroidered in silver runes that still covered up most of the man's body - but it was still quite obviously Enigma's trainer, the equally mysterious Lord Absol. This time he wasn't hiding behind his sunglasses, revealing narrow yellow eyes that burned with a fierce passion, and his currently bare hands revealed a complex network of tattoos upon their backs. This was a Lord Absol that was actually revealing something, even if Rhiannon couldn't quite comprehend what that something was.
“You'd do best not to try anything, deviant,” Lord Absol warned the squirming monster, his eyes not leaving it for a second. “My next arrow will go straight through what passes for your blackened heart.”
“Mightier than you have tried and failed,” the monster smirked. “Your bonds will not hold me for long.”
“I have no need for them to,” came the calm retort. “They will hold long enough for me to salvage the damage you have caused, at which point you can do what you will. But I warn you, deviant, I have banished far fouler than you.”
“Your threats mean nothing to me, mortal,” the demon spat.
“And your ignorance astounds me.” By now Lord Absol had walked over to the monster and was staring it straight in the eye. “Even the most vulgar daemons have at least some comprehension of the grand scheme!” All of a sudden the bow had been dropped and Lord Absol was holding a silver dagger to the monster's eye. “You will at least recognise me for what I am, devil, or I terminate your existance on this plane right now and nobody shall save you from the wrath of whichever master you happen to serve.”
“Wha?” Rhiannon turned to Enigma, confused by this exchange.
“Oh, if you spend enough time in Lord Absol's company like I have you'll see not even he's without weakness,” the Eevee explained. “My theory is that he took the whole 'mortal' thing to be an insult. The demon was comparing him to other men, you see, and if there's one thing that guy's got waaay too much of it's pride.” The two pokémon continued their observation of the scene in front of them.
“You...” the demon panted. “You are an insignificant worm who is full of empty threats.”
“And you...” Lord Absol shook his head sadly. “You are clearly not even a true daemon. You are merely hellspawn, a piece of flotsam on the tides of the netherworld with no master, no purpose and quite obviously no use to me. Begone. Ta'udun, bael a'baradcol!” As he yelled the words he placed a hand on his captive's grotesque hide, the tattoos on the back of it glowing with an ethereal light, a light that soon spread over his entire hand and through the demon, causing it to howl in agony, an inhuman shriek that send shivers through the bones of all who heard it. The light engulfed the creature and very soon had seemed to burn it to cinders. For a moment Lord Absol stood still, muttering something under his breath before standing up and turning his attention to the still cowering young Enigma. “Ah, poor thing,” he sighed with a totally uncharacteristic gentleness in his voice. “To have had to witness all of that... it's truly unfair.” Here he stooped down and reached a hand over to the petrified Eevee who, rather understandably, scooted away rather quickly. “No, no... shh, it's alright. I am a friend. I won't hurt you.” Gently he reached over and placed his palm upon the Eevee's quivering flank. “Glath'jaliss.” Again the tattoos glowed, but this time their only effect seemed to be to calm the little pokémon down. It put up no fight at all as Lord Absol picked it up and placed it upon his lap, stroking it gently behind the ears. “To have been hurt so by those who should not even be... I feel for you, my little palantiri. Come, I shall take you back with me. We can help to ease the wounds of body and of spirit. One so young should not have to suffer so.” Quietly he stood up with the seemingly sedated Eevee in his arms and strode smartly out of the clearing, still cooing words of encouragement to the pokémon in his arms. For her part Rhiannon seemed rather dumbstruck.
“So there you are,” Enigma commented without emotion. “When back at the quarters of the Order of the Dragon I was nursed back to health. For a while I hung around Li... Lord Absol simply because I didn't know anyone else. And he was always good to me. They all were. Whatever you may think of us, Rhiannon, we exist to make sure the world turns as it should and I'm very sorry if this means we must occasionally be enemies with the likes of you and the Dragon Tamers. But we always have the greater good at heart.” The Eevee smiled slightly. “Anyway, somewhere along the line we discovered my complete mastery of Hidden Power. That, plus the fact that as you can imagine I've always been rather keen to avoid that sort of situation happening again, swung it in terms of me actually undergoing training at Lord Absol's hands. I, my dear Rhiannon, am proud to be the first pokémon enlisted into the Order of the Dragon. So I got the whole training in overcoming demons and spirits thing, and I got a bit carried away and got my scent glands removed to aid in remaining undetected, and now here I am, I live for my job and my Order and totally confusing certain Jolteons. You're fun, Rhiannon, it's a bit of a shame I don't have to stalk you any longer.” Enigma grinned broadly.
“You get on our nerves a remarkable amount,” the Jolteon noted. “But it's been amusing having you around regardless. Should you have a spare moment we'd be happy to have you round for a cup of tea or two.”
“I'm honoured, Rhiannon, really I am, but I have to admit that I'm so busy if you see me around it's generally because something really, really awful is about to happen.” The Eevee looked a little sorrowful. “Anyway, time I got back to my master and that party-obsessed bozo you used to call a teammate, I guess. Unless you've any more questions while I'm actually in the mood to answer them?”
“We've many,” Rhiannon replied. “For a start, we rather suspect that your master is something other than human, are we correct? And if he was so compassionate towards you why did he hurt Pandora so in an attempt to waylay Ade? And...”
“Let's just leave it there for now, Rhiannon,” Enigma interrupted. “While you're still asking questions you can already guess the correct answers to. What do you think my answers would be to those?”
“That he isn't human, that he, like Teclis, is a survivor of those who ruled Ulthuan before mankind? And that he knew perfectly well that Pandora would escape and become stronger for her experiences, with the added benefit that we would all be too busy worrying about her to try investigating into matters that he considered his jurisdiction? Or maybe we're reading too much into that. Maybe he was simply in a bad mood that day. We can't begin to guess at his behaviour patterns.”
“I didn't breathe a word,” Enigma grinned. “All I'm saying is that you're smarter than you look, Rhiannon. Just don't you dare mention this to anyone, okay? For all you can overpower most creatures on this planet, I've had specialist training in kicking your ass and I'd be pretty annoyed if you went around blurting out all my secrets.” The Eevee chuckled slightly. “Anyway, I'm sure I'll see you around sooner or later. In the meantime... back to reality with us, I guess!” All of a sudden the eyes of the Eevee began to glow a familiar shade of white. And then everything returned to black.

“Rhi? Rhi where the %&^* are you?” Rhiannon found herself back in reality at a height of roughly twenty feet around ground level, her odd powers having allowed her to land on a cushion of solidified air. Beneath her she could see her brother, Milliardo, prowling the gardens, calling out her name. He was obviously worried about her. And it was just as obvious as to how she should make her entrance. “Damn it, where the hell are you, Rhi?” The Umbreon paused, looking most annoyed. When finally his sister decided to show herself in the most annoying way possible.
“Death from above!!!!” Suddenly a loud cry from above rang out, causing Milliardo to instinctively roll out of the way and his assailant to crash face first into the ground with a loud thud.
“More like death from the ground, I'd say,” the Umbreon noted, rolling over his semi-dazed sister with a front paw. “Sorry, Rhi, looks like I prove my superiority yet again, not only in avoiding your attacks but also in resisting the temptation to use catchphrases from stupid webcomics. You lose.”
“Dammit...” Rhiannon grumbled, picking herself up. “What do I have to do to catch you off guard.”
“Freeze me in time first.”
“Want me to?” the Jolteon asked with a wicked smile upon her face. “Stasis isn't a very hard condition to enduce with magic for a short while...”
“...and when the spell has worn off your brother will kill you,” Milliardo finished. “Don't bother. Anyway, what's going on with you, Rhi? We'd all gone off for ice cream and I know you, you can sense all sweets within a ten mile radius. What happened?”
“Oh, I just needed some time alone for a while...”
“I know you're lying. You have the same look on your face that I do when I'm trying to cover something up. What's going on?”
“Nothing. At least not now. In fact I'd say it's all finally over.” Rhiannon stared up at the sky, wondering where Enigma had got to. In a way it was good to be free of the irritating Eevee but... in some ways she already missed her. “Come on, Milliardo, wanna go see if there's any ice cream left?” Without waiting for an answer the Jolteon shot for the front gate, her brother hot on her heels. All of a sudden things started, in some bizarre way, to make a certain sense. And that sense was telling her to go and live life to the full, for the past didn't truly matter. It provided understanding, but very rarely true answers after all.

Wolfsong
14th October 2005, 09:40 AM
He will be battling a Cyndaquil.

classy_cat18
18th October 2005, 10:25 PM
Finally, done with Katana's RBG! Wow, this has to be the longest DT story that I've ever written. Can I have an RBG for Beacon from the Nature Protection Agency? She's my L12 Mareep.

NOTE: I got a Thundershock TM from the EMT and gave it to Katana.

Katana’s POV

I rolled over on my bed as a headache pounded in my head. I had to endure hours of loud music as the others celebrated the defeat of the Crimson Blades and Lily’s double evolution. Now they were the ones sleeping and I was wide awake. I remembered about my report that I was to make to Diablo and cringed. This was the first time I was afraid to face him. He and I had been looking forward to the day when he could kill Shonta. But now I wasn’t so sure.

The human named Shonta and the other Dragon Tamers were different from other humans. They seemed to actually care about their Pokemon. They treated them like family. And the Pokemon seemed to care about their trainers…like I once did. Sure, there were those that wanted to fight me. But the Castform belonging to the human named Jeff told me that they actually cared about me. Were they telling the truth?

I rolled off of my pillow and headed out of the house, pleased that Shonta cut in a hole in the front door for me to come and go as I wanted. That was another reason why I couldn’t make my mind up about Shonta and the others. They didn’t confine me. Even though they clearly knew what I could do during my free time they didn’t make any attempt to stop me, although Lily would give me a concerned look every time I left for business. It almost made me stop and turn back.

I stopped in an alley and tried to clear my head of those thoughts. What was I thinking? No one cared about me. Except, that is, for the Demons. They were the ones that were there when my family was nowhere to be found. I needed no one else!

But what happened when the Demons were in trouble? Who came to their rescue? Lily came and battled the Charmeleon for the safety of my friends even though she had a clear disadvantage over him. Bandit went as well even though the Demons thought of him as a traitor. I sat and looked down at my now unsheathed claws. Those claws had shed so much blood. Would they ever completely come clean?

“There you are, Lady Katana!”

I looked up to see that one of my assistants, the Machop that helped me move into Shonta’s home, had found me. I sighed. I had approached the point of no return. “Lead the way, Machop,” I ordered.

I followed him to the abandoned warehouse that they were staying in when they were attacked by the Crimson Blades. A few of the younger Demons were already sleeping, but I knew that Diablo would be wide awake. He always looked forward to my visits.

Machop led me to the back where a pair of Diablo’s red eyes watched us in the darkness. He kneeled in front of the Houndoom and cleared his throat. “Sir, Lady Katana is here to see you.”

I kneeled beside Machop. “Sir, I am here to give my report.”

“Leave us,” Diablo told Machop in a menacing voice.

Machop nodded and left me alone with the pair of red eyes. I managed to look humble and fearful, just the way he likes me to be when we’re not completely alone. I still looked like it when Machop was nowhere to be seen. I was not looking forward to what came next.

Diablo sauntered toward me, looking at me with a smirk on his face. “Hello, Katana. How have you been?” He took a closer look at my slightly shaking form and frowned. “What’s the matter? Aren’t you happy to see me?”

“Of course I am, sir,” I said stiffly.

“Still calling me ‘sir’?” He made a “tsk, tsk” sound. “When will you stop with the formalities, my dear Katana?”

When you go back to acting normal, I almost said out loud. “Sir, you are my superior,” I reminded him.

He ran his tail under my chin, forcing me to look up at his eyes. “I wasn’t always your superior. Don’t you remember, love?”

I felt my eyes water. Yes, I remembered. He wasn’t always the leader of the Demons. He used to be something more to me. I swallowed hard. “Yes, I remember. Should I give my report now?”

He sighed heavily, knowing that he wouldn’t get much out of me. He sat in his bed and glared at me, once again my boss. “Report, Katana.”

“My mission is complete. The Crimson Blades are defeated and the target is still unharmed.” I paused before finishing. “I am waiting for your next orders.”

Diablo sat silent for a while and then started chuckling. That chuckling soon became maniacal laughter. His laugh bounced off the walls, chilled my blood and made my fur stand on end. Then he stopped his laughing and looked at me with a wide grin, showing his sharp fangs. “Finally! That human is going to get what she deserves!”

I clenched my teeth. That fool’s probably forgotten why he was going after Shonta in the first place! “Sir, why are you after Shonta in the first place?”

“Isn’t it obvious? That human girl is manipulative and deceiving. Humans like her will convince our beloved Demons to turn to a life of battling and confinement in those horrid pokeballs.”

For a few seconds I wanted nothing more than to tell him that he was wrong, that Shonta didn’t make her team battle and live in pokeballs. But why did I want to defend her? Was it because she actually grew on me? My tail twitched uneasily as I kept my eyes on the floor. I finally decided to keep quiet.

Diablo paced in front of me, his eyes wide while he panted excitedly. “I could kill her tonight! Pounce on her while she’s asleep in her little bed and rip her throat out! No, I can do better. I could rip her heart out and burn her body beyond recognition!”

“NO!” I cried out suddenly before I could stop myself.

He stopped and looked at me with a surprised face. “Do have an objection to my plan? Aren’t you happy that this human will finally be out of your hair?”

My eyes watered again. I told the other Pokemon that my heart was taken away from me a long time ago. Now it seems that it had come back and it was telling me to not let that maniac kill my trainer. But I couldn’t cry. Diablo might actually decide that I was getting too soft for his tastes. I managed a small smile. “No, sir. I was saying that…”

“That what?”

I hesitated. I had to figure out a plan to keep Diablo from killing Shonta. I had to…stall him! “The human is taking a trip to Ellyrion,” I said calmly.

Diablo’s eyes narrowed and he lowered his head to get a closer look at my face. I couldn’t show any signs that I was lying or my head would be on a silver platter. “Is that so? Well, I’ll just have to wait. For now you are still her guardian, Katana. But that role is over when you come back from Ellyrion. You resume your earlier duties and let me have the pleasure of killing her.”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.” I turned around to leave but stopped when I heard him clear his throat. I looked back and saw that he was, for a brief moment, the Diablo that he was before he was a Demon.

“Katana? On your ears. Are those…?”

“Yes, sir. They increase my special attack.”

“Katana, when are you going to come back to me? You haven’t lived with me since…”

“I know, sir,” I interrupted. “I’ll sleep on it.” I walked out of the warehouse at a hurried pace, my walk turning into a flat-out run as soon as I was out of the Demons’ sight. I didn’t stop until I got in the house. I was half-panting, half-crying when I curled back in my bed. My head was swimming with thoughts. Which path do I take? Do I continue being a Demon, slaying others under Diablo’s command? Or do I turn back and take the other path as a trained Pokemon once more? Can I turn back? And what will I do when I decide to turn back? I can’t ask someone to put their life on the line for me. The sound of my own crying soon lulled me to sleep.

“Katana!” Aero the Pidgeotto cried as he swooped down and landed on a low branch. He looked really messed up. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

I looked up from my meal, an unfortunate Rattata. “What is it, Aero?” I asked him.

“You better come to your den. Something bad has happened!” He took off again in the direction of my den.

My heart was pounding in my chest as I raced for the den. Please let them be okay! Let nothing bad happen to them! I reached the den and poked my head in. They were all curled up but something red stained their fur. I reached in and poked one. He didn’t move. My heart felt like it had stopped and I put a paw over it to make sure it hadn’t. They were dead. Aero and I stood silent for a while before I spoke. “Aero, who did this?”

He closed his eyes and looked away, no longer wanting to look at the curled up forms of bloody fur. “Humans, Katana. Humans did it. And one of them was your former trainer.”

Once again my heart seemed to stop. My trainer? But my trainer loves Pokemon. Why would she kill them? “Are you sure it was my former trainer?”

“I saw it with my own eyes. She was mumbling something about teaching you a lesson.”

My eyes were watery with tears but nothing came out of my mouth. Finally I dropped to my knees and started to cry. “I didn’t mean to make her mad! Oh, what will I do without them?”

“Katana?” I looked up to see a Houndoom approach. His scent was slightly different but I knew who he was. He had evolved. But how? “I came to see how you were doing. Are you alright?”

I was so glad to see him that I didn’t hesitate to run to him and nuzzle him. “Diablo, they’re…they’re dead. All of them. Aero told me that humans came and killed them and that one of them was my former trainer. Please tell him he’s wrong!”

Diablo’s eyes widened and he stepped back from me and went to the den. He poked one of the bodies with a paw, went back to me with a solemn look on his face, and pulled me close to him. “Katana, I don’t know if your former trainer killed them. But I doubt that Aero would lie about it.”

I cried in his chest for what seemed like forever. Then he broke the silence. “Those humans will pay for what they did. Together we will kill them all.”

“What!?!” Aero exclaimed.

I pushed him away from me, amazed by what he said. “But she’s my friend! I can’t kill her!”

Diablo stuck his face in mine, his expression serious. There was something else in that face too, something I didn’t like. “You are too soft, Katana. Throw away your feelings for your so-called friend and give her the lesson that she deserves.”

“But I can’t,” I whimpered, not liking how Diablo was talking.

“Remember that she took away something that you cared about and that you can’t get it back. She killed them in cold blood, Katana. She must receive punishment.” He rested a paw on my head.

I gasped as I could almost feel my heart harden. All the feelings I had about my trainer drained from me. But hate remained.

My eyes snapped open as my dream ended. No, not a dream. Memories. I looked out the window and saw that the sun was about to rise. I wasn’t going to get any more sleep so I just headed for the roof.

Lily’s POV

I woke up as the sun’s rays rested on my eyes. Dawn was always my favorite time of day. Seeing the day start was a great way to start the day in my opinion. Everyone else was asleep but Katana wasn’t there with us. That’s strange. Katana’s always back in her bed by the time I wake up. Well, maybe she’s up and about already.

I walked to the living room and up the stairs to the roof. That’s where I found her. She had her back to me and was staring at the sky, sitting silently. “There you are, Katana. I was worried that you were somewhere else,” I told her.

Katana kept her back to me while she sighed and spoke. “Lily, there’s no need to worry about me so much. I can take care of myself.”

“I can’t help it! I keep thinking that you’ll run into some nasty Pokemon that’ll tear you apart!”

“Like I said, I can take care of myself.”

“But what about Diablo? What about the scars he gave you?” That earned a gasp from her. Then I heard her breathing loudly followed by crying. I walked around to her front and saw tears streaming down her face. Crying was something that Katana did rarely if ever. I reached up and wiped them off of her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Everything,” she sobbed. “Lily, what I’m about to tell you must stay between the two of us. Okay?” I nodded. “Diablo wasn’t always…insane. He used to be sweet and loving. Look under my paw.”

I did. There was something that looked like a picture frame under it. I pulled it out and found out it was a picture frame. In the picture was a sweet looking girl in pigtails and a shiny Zangoose that had a glare that looked a lot like Katana’s. “Who are they?” I asked Katana.

“The girl’s name is Emily and the Zangoose’s name is Zoe. Zoe’s my mother.”

I gasped. “This is your mom? But you’re normal colored!”

“I know. I was the odd one out. Out of three offspring I was the only one that was normal colored. And if you’re thinking about my father, I’ve never seen him before. My mother told me that he belonged to another trainer.”

I looked at the picture again, another question floating up to the surface of my mind. “Aren’t you wild?”

She shook her head. “No. I am feral. So is Diablo. My mother lived as a pampered contest Pokemon, getting everything her heart desired. I didn’t like that life and wanted so much to leave it. My siblings got adopted but I did not. One day I was playing in the backyard. I wandered away from there and onto a neighbor’s yard. That was when I met Diablo.

“He was rooting through the neighbor’s trash, hoping for scraps. He was just a Houndour so he didn’t seem that menacing. Plus he was kind of goofy. He took one look at me, yelped in surprise and fell in the trashcan.” She chuckled a bit at that. “We talked for awhile and quickly fell in love with each other.”

I dropped the picture in surprise. “You…and him?”

She smiled sadly. “Yes. We loved each other so much. He would visit me every day and I would sneak off to spend nights with him. One night he asked me if I had a wish that he could grant. I told him that I had two wishes: to live in the wild with him and to be a mother.” She blushed. “He granted those two wishes in the same night.”

“Wow, you two must’ve been an item. What happened for him to be so insane?” I clapped my hands over my mouth but it was too late. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to call him insane!”

“That’s okay. To be honest I now think he’s getting a little insane myself. We lived in a forest for a while, me taking care of the little buns in the oven and him bringing home the bacon…and everything else he could get. But over time he started to change. He became more aggressive and he started to mumble to himself over every little thing. It was as if he would be talking to an annoying invisible person. But when I spoke to him or touched him he went to his old self again. That, however, got less effective as time went by.”

“I wonder what got into him,” I said.

“Me too. Anyway, a few weeks after the babies were born I went out to find something to eat. See, Diablo said he needed to go on a long journey to fetch something for me and I was alone with no one to feed me. Aero would watch them from time to time but he had his siblings to look after. While I was gone, the humans killed them. They killed my babies!” She went back to crying. “Aero told me the news. He tried to stop them but they overwhelmed him. One of the humans was my trainer.”

“No way!”

“Yes. She was mumbling something about teaching me a lesson. Diablo arrived there a little too late. He told me to forget all of my feelings for Emily and to kill her. He did something to me, Lily. It was like all of the love and admiration for her drained out of me. All that was left was anger and hate. So I did it. I did that dirty deed.”

“You killed her? What about your mom?”

“I don’t remember. I don’t remember much about that night. She was gone by the time my mind came back. I did the same to the other humans that Aero identified. For some reason the police didn’t even link the crimes to me. I liked it, Lily. God help me, I liked it.” She wiped some more tears off of her face and went back to looking at the sky.

I gave her the tightest hug I could give her, fighting back tears of my own. “Don’t say that. You know that’s not true.”

“It is true. But now I don’t know how I feel about it anymore. You and your team touched me, Lily. You touched me like Diablo did. This time the emotions came back. All the sorrow, the fear, the grief. Also…” She held my hand. “All the happiness, the love, the joy that I had for life. That discussion that I had with Gabi’s Pokemon really helped me.” She hugged me.

“I’m glad we could be of help. Is there anything else we could do?”

“In fact there is.” Her expression became serious as she pulled away from me. “We need to get Shonta to Ellyrion as quickly as possible.”

“Why? What’s the rush?”

“I told Diablo she was going taking a trip there today. I had to tell him something! He was going to kill her last night!”

A chill was sent up my spine. “And if he finds out you were lying then you would be in trouble, too.”

“That’s right, so let’s wake her up. But don’t tell her the truth about why she needs to leave.”

I ran with her back down to Shonta’s room. She jumped up on the bed and leaned in to Shonta’s ear. “Get up, you idiot! We have things to do today!” she shouted.

Shonta eyes shot open. “What? Are we under attack again?” she asked, startled but still sounding drowsy.

“No! We’re going to Ellyrion today so Beacon can see her family.”

“Why today?”

Katana put her face close to hers. “Because I’m bored. And you don’t want me bored, do you?”

Shonta gulped. Thoughts of her terrorizing poor Beacon and Bandit probably went through her mind. “Okay, I’ll see if there’s a train leaving for Ellyrion today.” She rolled out of bed and looked down at me. “Do you mind going to Ellyrion, Lily?”

“Of course not! In fact, it’ll be a nice vacation from the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” I said in a pleasant voice.

“Then wake up the others and tell them to get ready. Get Bandit to look up the departure times of the train, okay?”

I saluted. “Yes, ma’am!” I promptly ran to my teammates’ room and yelled at the top of my lungs. “Wake up, everyone! We’re going on vacation!”

Trinity was the first to fully wake up. “Ooh, vay-cay! Are we going to the beach?”

“No, to Ellyrion.”

Beacon’s head shot up. “Ellyrion? Oh boy! I get to see Mom and Dad!” She trotted past me and down the hall.

Slowly everyone else woke up until the only one still asleep was Bandit. I poked him on the shoulder. “Wake up,” I said softly.

Bandit stirred a little and opened an eye. “That’s funny. I thought I heard an annoying Bellossom telling me to wake up but hopefully it’s just a dream.”

“It’s not a dream. Hey, I’m not annoying! Why are you talking like Trinity when she’s grumpy?”

“Because you basically woke me up at sunrise.” Nevertheless he got up and walked to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

An hour and a half later we were ready to go to the train station. Bandit said that we didn’t have a lot of time to get there so Shonta quickly hailed a taxi and rode there with the rest of us in our pokeballs. When I was finally let out I was sitting by Bandit in a train seat across from Shonta. Bandit was looking out the window silently but turned his head to me when I spoke to him. “Katana’s not that bad, Bandit.”

Bandit’s eyes narrowed. “What makes you think I was thinking about that psycho?”

“I was just bringing her up. I wasn’t assuming that you were thinking about her.”

He stuck a finger in my face as his expression got angrier. “Look, even though she has those creepy yet alluring eyes and that silky fur and that nice voice doesn’t mean that I think about her every waking second of my life!”

A wide smile appeared on my face. “You think she’s pretty, don’t you?”

“Of course she’s pretty! It’s her attitude I don’t like!”

“But what if she changed her attitude? Would you like her then?”

He smirked and crossed his arms. “The day she changes her attitude is the day I sprout wings and fly!”

I pouted but didn’t say anything else for the rest of the trip. Bandit’s wrong. Katana has changed. She just doesn’t want anyone else to know yet. As we got closer to Ellyrion I noticed a tall white mountain in the horizon. “Wow! That’s so pretty!” I said in awe.

“That’s White Mountain. We must be getting pretty close to Ellyrion. Look at those green hills,” Shonta commented.

Thirty minutes later the train stopped at our. Shonta, Bandit and I stepped out. A minute later, much to our surprise, Katana also stepped out. She had on her usual sour face but wasn’t making any attempt to torture Bandit. “That was a long ride. I slept most of the way there,” she said to us.

Shonta put her hands on her hips. “When did you get out?” she asked Katana.

Katana gave Shonta her usual glare. “Around the time you were asleep and the other two were lost in their thoughts. I told you I didn’t like being confined to those things.”

“Whatever. Let’s just find out where we supposed to go next. Beacon told us it was the stop before Tor Elyr but she didn’t even say what this place was.” She took out a pokeball and let Beacon out. “Okay Beacon, where does your mom and dad live?”

She looked at what could’ve been the largest building in the small village, a large house or inn. “Mom now belongs to the owner of that inn. We could stay there during our vacation.”

“For free, I hope,” Bandit grumbled.

We gathered our suitcase from the pile of luggage on the side of the train and left for the inn. We passed humble shops and houses and saw herds of various Pokemon off in the distance, mostly Mareep. A few people glanced at us as we walked by them but they were mostly interested in Beacon.

We reached the inn, dubbed The Black Ampharos. A picture of a black Ampharos with yellow stripes where there should’ve been black stripes adorned the hanging sign in front. It looked like one of those inns from colonial times. We entered and went up to the front desk where an old but strong looking bearded man stood. He towered over all of us. To me he looked like a giant. “What can I do for you?” he asked us.

“For one thing, could you tell me the name of this town?” Shonta asked him.

He took a closer look at her. Shonta shrunk back a bit. “You must be city folk. Everyone else knows about Beacon Village.”

My head instantly snapped to Beacon. “Beacon! This village is named after you!”

Beacon blushed. “Actually, I’m named after the village,” she corrected. She walked around the counter and smiled at the man. “Ben! It’s me, Beacon!”

Ben’s face lit up as he looked down at Beacon. “Beacon! My my, it’s great to see you!” He reached down and patted her head. “You’ve gotten bigger and stronger since the last time I’ve seen you.”

“Yeah, and I have my trainer to thank.” The two of them walked back around the counter. Ben shook Shonta’s hand with a smile. “This is Shonta and these are some of her Pokemon. The Bellossom is Lily, the Kecleon is Bandit, and the Zangoose is Katana.” The three of us waved, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to understand us.

“Shonta, Lily, Bandit, and Katana. It’s nice to meet you all. I’m Ben. I own this inn and live here with my lovely wife. Beacon’s parents aren’t here right now. They’re looking for Rose.”

Beacon sighed. “What did she get herself into now?”

“Nothing. She just wandered away from the inn and we got worried. You know how unlucky Rose could be.”

“Who’s Rose?” Shonta asked Ben.

“Rose is a Roselia. I know, dead giveaway. Tell you what. If you retrieve Rose, I’ll let you stay for free. Free room, free meals for you and your Pokemon.”

“Free!?! You got yourself a deal!” Bandit exclaimed happily.

“You got yourself a deal,” Shonta said with a grin.

We exited the inn with Beacon in the front. We needed her Odor Sleuth to track down Rose. In the end it paid off. Katana’s ears perked up as the trail got stronger. She pointed to some bushes further up the road. “Something’s behind those,” she said. We crept closer to it. Just when Shonta was about to peek into them something burst out and hid behind her. It was a Roselia, just what we were looking for. “I guess you were the one screaming.”

“Don’t let him get me,” the Roselia whimpered.

“Rose, what exactly are you hiding from?” Beacon asked her.

At that moment a Sentret calmly walked out of the bushes. “Shoot, where did that Roselia go?” He saw Rose as she peeked out from behind Shonta’s legs. “There you are! Master Char wants a word with you!”

“Tell Char I don’t want to talk to him!” Rose shouted. She started to run toward the inn as soon as she finished her sentence. The Sentret ran for her for a while then rolled up into a ball and started to roll after her. He was faster while rolling than he was while running.

“He’s gaining on her! We have to do something!” I cried.

Without warning Katana broke away from the group and ran after the Sentret, quickly gaining up with him. She ran past the Sentret and stopped in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. “Not so fast,” she growled at him.

We ran to the three Pokemon. “Wow, she’s fast!” Shonta commented.

Rose, realizing that she was no longer being chased, stopped and stood behind Katana. “Thank you so much,” Rose told her.

Katana ignored Rose’s thanks and continued glaring at the Sentret. Sentret pointed at Katana with a look of surprise on his face. “Lady Katana! What are you doing here?”

Bandit’s jaw dropped. “That Sentret knows Katana?” he asked.

“Lady Katana? Only Demons call her that,” Shonta said with a serious expression.

I remembered when Katana told me that she was part of the Sector Alpha chapter of the Demons. That meant that there were Demons all over Ulthuan. It made my blood freeze knowing that Diablo had touched so many Pokemon. Or did the Demons touch him?

“This Roselia is under my protection. You’ll have to go through me to get to her,” Katana said to the Sentret. She bared her teeth to emphasize her point.

“Very well. I hope you know that you’re committing treason against the Demons by doing this,” the Sentret told her.

She ignored his threat. “Rose, go to Shonta and the other Pokemon.” Rose nodded and ran to us.

Shonta threw a TM box to Katana. “It’s Thundershock! Use it well!”


L6 Female Zangoose (Katana) vs. L6 Male Sentret

“Take this!” Katana shouted as her paw slammed into the ground. Pillars of rock burst out of the ground toward the Sentret, who quickly rolled into a ball and rolled away before the last pillar of rock could hit him. He rolled straight for Katana.

“Katana! He can’t see well while he’s rolling!” I shouted.

Katana slammed her paw on the ground one more time, making one more rock pillar appear in the rolling Sentret’s path. It was too late for him to dodge the last one so he crashed into it, rolled back, and unrolled. Katana then raced for him on two legs, her claws extended so she could slash him while he was still stunned. Sentret jumped up and hit the rock pillar that he rolled into with a glowing tail. The Iron Tail smashed the pillar into smaller rocks, some of the pieces flying in Katana’s direction. She quickly changed direction to avoid the rocks.

“She’s so fast,” Rose commented.

“Yeah? I could be as fast as her if I wanted to,” Bandit said grumpily.

Katana must’ve decided that her Hidden Power Rock could still be of some use. She ran to the nearest rock pillar and hid behind it just as the Sentret unleashed a Flamethrower at her. Just when I thought that she was to avoid the attack, it went around the pillar and struck her.

“How could that happen?” Rose wondered.

“I’m thinking Hidden Power Psychic,” Shonta guessed.

When the Sentret stopped he panted heavily, probably because he was inexperienced with such two strong attacks that he wouldn’t learn naturally. Katana took this as an opportunity to attack him. But instead of running around the pillar and charging him, she scrambled up and over it. She pounced on the Sentret with claws unsheathed, leaving deep scratches on his body.

“She’s so agile, too,” Rose said. “I wish I was just like her.”

“No, you don’t,” Bandit snapped. “That witch is bad news.”

At this I was surprised that the Sentret was still standing. With Katana’s high attack stat and normal type, Slash was her most powerful attack. Or so I thought.

“Usually I would’ve beaten you by now but I thought it would be fun to see how you battle,” Katana said.

The Sentret glared at Katana fiercely. “I will defeat you, Lady Katana, for the glory of the Demons. But not with my Flamethrower. I will use another attack.”

“Then fire away,” Katana taunted. She made a “come hither” gesture and stood there, her position neutral.

“I don’t get it. Why is he trying to beat her and calling her a traitor while still calling her Lady Katana?” Shonta asked herself.

“Maybe it’s about respect. Or maybe the title doesn’t mean anything to him, like how people that don’t even have doctorates are still called doctor,” Bandit guessed.

The Sentret put his paws up, palms facing each other. An orb of blue light materialized between them. Katana changed into an attack stance. She was too far away from the rock pillars to use them to block the attack. The blue orb shot out a beam at Katana who, at the last second, slammed the ground again. Another rock pillar shot out and took the blow. It was now a pillar of rock and ice.

“Fast, agile, resourceful…” Rose ticked off.

“Rude, cold, unforgiving…” Bandit ticked off.

Katana was not going to go anywhere with just dodging and blocking attacks but as soon as she appears from behind the ice pillar she was going to be attacked again. What are you going to do, Katana? It was then that a breeze picked up. No wind had blown during the entire battle. Why now?

“Come on out, Katana. Come out so I can defeat and humiliate you,” the Sentret said in a singing voice.

Katana leapt out from behind the ice pillar. She crossed her arms and uncrossed them at the same time the Sentret unleashed another Flamethrower. Blades of light materialized, shot out, and quickly sliced through the Flamethrower. They kept going and slashed the Sentret badly. The Sentret stood for a few seconds, took a step, and fell flat on his face.


Katana won and grew to level 7! She learned Quick Attack!

Rose was the first one to rush to Katana. “Katana-sempai! Are you alright? Do you need to rest?”

Katana winced but smiled at the Roselia. “Yes, but I’m afraid that I won’t be getting much rest. Char will be notified of my treason and he will come for me.”

That got a gasp from Rose. “You are risking your life to protect me? Come! We will get you in a nice bed.”

The Blue Avenger
28th October 2005, 11:03 PM
Okay, finally, here's my Crimson Blades scenario. A few notes: I skipped over some parts that would be really redundant with Gabi's story in an effort to speed things up (oh yeah, that worked great), and some of the dialogue is a little different from Gabi's, just for aesthetic reasons. So now, here we are... "Last Call for Brawl."

“Well, Mr. Azure, you’ve been checked out fully and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. On that note, you are free to leave the hospital whenever you wish.” The nurse held out two Pokeballs. “Here, I believe these are yours. These two Pokemon came in with you. They both seem completely healthy as well.”

Jeff nodded and grabbed the Pokeballs, setting them into the belt running around his waist. “Thank you.” He quickly made for the door, his thoughts already turning from the mysterious man he had just encountered to the Guild meeting.

As he walked through the streets of Caledor, Jeff pondered the nature of the meeting. The Guild almost never calls emergency meetings like that… it’s got to be something big. But what? With Jeff’s mind clouded by these thoughts, he didn’t notice the three Pokemon on the sidewalk until he almost tripped over them. He shook his head, muttered a hasty apology, and took a look at the Pokemon: it was a pair of Ninetales, as well as a Vulpix. The Vulpix looked odd to Jeff for reasons he couldn’t put his finger on, but he attributed it to his mind playing tricks on him.

The Vulpix stared at Jeff sharply for a moment before speaking. "Have I seen you before?"

“Um... er… I don't believe so... Who are you?” Jeff stuttered, slightly unnerved.

“Ah, sorry, it must have been a mix-up or something. My name is Solitude,” the Vulpix replied.

Jeff regained his composure. "My name's Jeff. D'you need help or something? You and your friends look kinda lost."

One of the Ninetales spoke up. "I'm Ray, and she's my mate Firestar. We're looking for..." He glanced at Solitude. "What exactly are we looking for?"

“The Dragon Tamers, I guess,” Solitude replied.

Jeff smiled a little. "Oh yes, the Dragon Tamers. I'm a member myself. What do you need?"

“We've heard that something terrible is about to happen and that you guys are trying to stop it,” said the other Ninetales, Firestar. “We'd like to help.”

"...Something terrible?" Jeff thought for a second. "That must have been what the meeting was called for...” He paused. “Hey, I'll take you to headquarters. I need to find out what's going on too."

Firestar smiled warmly. “Thank you.”

"Oh, don't worry. It's not a problem at all,” Jeff replied, grinning. Without saying anything else, they began to walk toward the Guild.

Once they got there, Solitude halted. “Is it okay if I wait for you outside and ask you all not to mention me?” she asked quietly.

“Why?” Ray asked.

Solitude grimaced. “You know... The two things I'd rather not see right now...”

“You never said what those things were, but I don't think avoiding a problem will solve anything,” Firestar replied.

Solitude turned on her. “I'm not avoiding a problem. I'm just avoiding...” She paused for a moment in thought. “Who am I kidding? I'm not avoiding anything at all. I guess it doesn't make a difference after all,” she sighed.

Jeff glanced from Solitude to Firestar, a small degree of confusion evident in his face. “Um, okay, well, if that's settled, I'm heading inside,” he mumbled.

Solitude continued talking as if she hadn’t heard Jeff. “He'll hate me, though. He's going to hurt me. I can't help that.”

Jeff stopped in midstep. “Who exactly are you talking about?”

Solitude looked sadly towards him. “A Ninetales. He's there in that building.”

“...a Ninetales...?” Jeff muttered quietly. He thought for a moment. “The only one I can think of would be Gabi's Ninetales, Hero. But why would he hurt you? He's one of the friendliest Pokemon around!”

“Solitude, you're freaking me out and I'm used to freaking out others. What the hell are you talking about?” Ray asked frankly.

Solitude sighed again. “It's a long story. He's mad at me. He must think I'm playing with him or something. I'm not.”

Jeff frowned. “Look, if it is Hero, I'm sure he'd understand...”

“How could he understand? For all his virtues, he's got the thickest head in this side of the planet,” Solitude replied.

“Who's this Hero?” Firestar interrupted.

Solitude turned to her. “He's the one we knew as Speedy.”

Ray’s eyes widened. “He's here?! Wait, why are you afraid of him?” he asked. “He'd never do anything to hurt you!”

Solitude frowned. “He'll yell at me, and that will hurt me whether he wants it or not. He will say that I've been hiding things from him, and that I'm too much of a coward to show my face. And what's worse is that he'll be right. But he doesn't know why I've been doing it.” She paused. “Maybe I should look for Tracker first. Or wait until she finds me, which might be faster.”

“…is she coming here too?” Jeff asked softly.

“Well, if something big is going to happen, she won't miss it. Especially if she finds our tracks,” Solitude explained.

“You have nothing to be afraid of. I'll talk to Speedy. He'll listen to me,” Ray said reassuringly.

“Or we could try that,” she admitted.

“And regardless, if something big is going down, we don't exactly have a lot of time to waste. I'm sure Hero will appreciate the magnitude of the situation,” Jeff interjected.

“Maybe you're right,” Solitude relented. “Just don't call him Speedy, Ray; he's never liked that name.”

Jeff smiled. “Okay, then if everything's settled, we should head on inside?” The fire foxes nodded, and they finally stepped inside the main Guild building…

…only to find that it was completely empty. Jeff slapped his forehead. “I guess the meeting’s over…” he muttered under his breath.

Solitude sighed. “Maybe we should go to the barracks.”

“Yeah... that might not be a bad idea,” Jeff replied. “I should pick up the rest of my team.” He considered this for a moment, and began to walk in the direction of the barracks, followed by Ray, Firestar and Solitude.

“What are the barracks?” Ray asked.

“They’re a part of the Guild where trainers can practice their battling techniques,” Jeff answered. “They also happen to be where my team and I are staying.”

“Really?” Solitude asked. “That's odd, the Guild used to provide homes for its members.”

“Well, it's been a very complicated time. Gabi assures me, though, that they're working on it,” Jeff explained.

Firestar turned to Solitude. “May I ask how you know that, or is it one of those things you'll leave us wondering?”

“No mystery there. I've been staying with a Guild member for a while,” Solitude responded while eyeing Firestar.

Jeff glanced toward Solitude. “Really? Who?”

“A trainer who goes by the names of Ivan and Golden Growlithe.”

Jeff thought for a moment. “Hmmm… I don’t believe I know him.”

“He's not very famous,” Solitude explained. “Neither of us is trying to achieve fame anyway.”

“Fair enough,” Jeff conceded. “Maybe I’ll run into him someday… at any rate, here we are. Here are the barracks.”

Ray looked impressed. “Mm, nice place! There's quite a lot of things one could get busy with.”

Firestar turned toward him and grinned. “I didn't know you were looking for ways to get busy. You could have asked me,” she said with a wink.

Solitude rolled her eyes. “Easy, children, we have a job to do.”

“In case you haven't noticed, we're not children anymore. And we're bigger than you too,” Firestar replied, sounding insulted.

“You still act like children,” Solitude retorted.

“Children don't actually -” Firestar started before Ray broke in with a “Let's drop it.”

Jeff looked slightly bewildered. “...Er, um, anyway, allow me to go gather some members of my team.” He quickly walked to his corner of the barracks, where he found Trezzatura, Kurtzwick, Bobbery, Cam, and Mercandos. Mercandos and Bobbery were playing cards with each other, Cam was amusing himself by Transforming into a desk lamp, and Trezzatura was trying to distract Kurtzwick from stealing some things other trainers had left. Jeff got Trezzatura’s attention and asked, “Where’s everyone else?”

“Lady Bow's out somewhere with Bolovayr, Kiva and Anzu are having a practice match against 99 and Groove Guy, and Mona and Previsiona decided to go to a park with Raini,” Trezzatura replied. He glanced at the three visitors. “...So who are these guys?”

Jeff glanced at them. “They were looking for the Guild. The meeting already ended, so we decided to come back here.”

Firestar stepped forward. “My name is Firestar, he's Ray and she's Solitude. You are Jeff's friends, right? What are your names?”

“I’m Trezzatura,” Trezzatura said. He gestured to the Pokemon behind him. “The Snorlax is Bobbery, the Ditto is Cambiamente, the Mr. Mime is Mercandos, and the Dratini is... Hey, where'd Kurtzwick go?” he added, glancing around.

Kurtzwick suddenly popped up behind Firestar. “Howdy!” he said, grinning widely.

Firestar jumped. “Hey!” she stammered.

Ray gave an unfriendly look toward the Dratini. “Is he bothering you? I can stop him from doing that.”

Jeff blushed. “Err... don't worry about him. But do keep a close watch on anything you find valuable.”

“I guess it is a good thing that I'm not carrying anything valuable anymore,” sighed Solitude.

Kurtzwick smiled. “Hey, hey, don’t worry. It’s not like I’m going to steal anything from you anyway.”

“Except that’s basically what you do,” countered Bobbery, looking up from his card game.

Ignoring them, Firestar asked, “How are we going to find out what we're supposed to do?”

Jeff thought for a moment. “Well, I'd imagine that either Gabi or Ade would know the most about what's going on at the moment.”

“I suggest we just wait until one of them comes,” Solitude said. “Is there a place where I can lie down in the meantime? I'm tired.”

Jeff pointed in the direction of his bed. “Um, take my bed. It’s right over there.”

Solitude nodded, and hopped on the bed. “Thank you.” She curled up in a ball and closed her eyes.

Jeff turned back to the other Pokemon and shook his head. “Anyway, I would hope that someone would be kind enough to let me know what's going on eventually...” he sighed.

At this, Solitude sighed. “I’m not ready yet…” she mumbled.

Jeff shook his head again. “No, I didn’t mean you, Solitude,” he replied.

As soon as he said that, however, the door to the barracks opened, and a familiar voice resonated throughout the building. “Is anyone here?”

Everyone turned their attention to the door. “Oh! Hi, Gabi!” greeted Jeff, grinning. “What’s up?”

Gabi grinned back. “Hi, Jeff! How are you doing?”

Jeff lowered his head. “Very, very confused…” he mumbled.

“Confused? Why?”

Pointing at the Ninetales, Jeff said, “We have guests.”

Gabi glanced at them. “Where did they come from?”

Ray spoke up first, answering, “From the Pridelands, but we were all born in Caledor.”

Jeff jumped in as well. “...Yeah. They were at the airport when I left the hospital and wanted to get to the Guild.”

Gabi regarded the vulpine Pokemon with a questioning eye. “Really? What brings you all here, and who are you?”

“I’m Ray,” Ray answered. “This is Firestar, and the Vulpix over there,” he nodded toward Solitude, “is Solitude.”

Gabi’s eyes widened as she turned to stare at the Vulpix resting on the bed.

Solitude let loose a very pronounced sigh. “Right, you can stop piercing me with that look,” she said grimly. “We've finally met.” Solitude opened her eyes and looked at Gabi.

Gabi returned the look with a small smile. “Yes, we meet at last. And I can finally get to thank you for your gift.”

“For a moment, I thought you'd be mad at me for staying in the shadows all this time,” Solitude replied, looking slightly relieved. “You're welcome; I knew you'd make good use of it.”

Jeff glanced between Gabi and Solitude. “Care to fill me in?”

“Sorry, I'll try to explain... It's a long story...” Gabi started.

Solitude stepped in, saying, “I found a valuable object once. I kept it for some time, but then I left it for her to find.”

“Yes, that's how it happened,” Gabi agreed. “And it's been very useful to me since then. Not only has it helped me understand every Pokemon that talks to me, but it has also warned me of some dangers in the past.”

Solitude continued. “It hasn't. It only made your own warnings clearer.”

“Right,” Gabi said, “I think we have figured out what it does. It enhances psychic abilities, right?” Solitude nodded in concurrence.

Jeff blinked. “Wait, you couldn’t understand Pokemon before you got this object?”

At the same time, Firestar asked, “Psychic abilities? What’s this all about?”

“One at a time, please,” Gabi responded.

Jeff blushed slightly. “Err, sorry. Um, Firestar can go first.”

“I think I'll respond to your question first. It's easier,” Gabi said. “It took me a while to understand my own team without the stone, and I still can't understand Pokemon who have no psychic abilities and I don't share a bond with if I'm not touching it.”

Jeff frowned. “That’s strange…” he mumbled, and then added, “…and is that pretty much standard for everyone?”

“I think so, yes. Why?”

“…I can understand most Pokemon anyway. I mean, that’s how I knew these guys wanted to get to the Guild.”

“I see... Well, some people have shown that ability in the past. It's not too strange to see people or pokemon with special talents around here,” Gabi reassured.

Jeff’s frown lessened somewhat. “Well, okay... it still puzzles me, though... But anyway. Uhm... what brought you here, Gabi?”

“We had a meeting earlier today. I didn't see you there, so I thought it best to tell you about it. The leader of the Crimson Blades has 'invited' us all to their base in the Shifting Isles. We know that it's a trap, but it was decided that we will go anyway, and try to overpower them somehow.”

Jeff rolled his eyes. “Oh, joy. Thanks. ...If I had to take a guess at it, that's why Firestar, Ray, and Solitude are here too...”

Solitude cut in. “Exactly. So, the Shifting Isles? That's far away, isn't it?”

“I hope we can tag along,” Firestar commented. “And I also hope you guys explain to me what's this about psychic powers.”

Jeff scratched his head. “Well, that's something you'd have to ask Gabi, not me.”

Gabi turned to Firestar. “Different abilities based on the power of the mind. Like telepathy, precognition...”

Firestar glowered. “I know what psychic powers are. Why do you have them? And...” she turned to Solitude, “…you too, right?”

Solitude sighed again. “I knew this would happen sooner or later. I do have some precognitive abilities. I don't know why, it's just the way things are. I never asked to be different.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being different,” Gabi replied “The world would be quite boring if everyone was.” She paused for a moment. “And for the record, I don't know why either. I believe we may all have the potential to develop those abilities, just not everyone does, and clearly not to the same extent.”

“There's probably something genetic in it too.,” commented Jeff. “Like, say, your parents have limited psychic abilities, you might inherit it.”

“If my parents have those abilities, they're probably dismissing them as something else because they don't believe in them,” Gabi said.

“I never said it was the only way to have those abilities; rather, it's just an option.”

“Yes, it's an option,” Gabi answered. “Anyway, as interesting as it would be to continue with this conversation, I'll have to ask you. What will you do?”

Jeff raised an eyebrow. “Um, what do you mean? I can't stay behind. The man destroyed my home!”

“I just want to consider the risks and make a conscious decision. It's a very dangerous mission. We may not return from it unharmed. We might not return at all.”

“Regardless of the risks, this could be our only chance to stop DiAnnio,” Jeff said thoughtfully. “I think the possible benefits far outweigh the possible risks.”

“I guess so,” Gabi conceded. “We may be doomed if we don't go, which I think is why it was decided that we should accept the invitation.”

Silence fell for a moment before Jeff spoke up again. “So how are we getting there?”

“Rhiannon suggested going in several waves and attacking from different directions. There's no transport arranged for all of us this time, but I'm going with Pidgeot, and Lagi has offered to carry another team if she's needed.”

Jeff rolled his eyes up in thought. “Well, if this place is far away, I'm guessing Maza won't be able to Teleport us there... and I don't have any Flying Pokemon either.”

“I’m sure Lagi will be glad to help you get there,” Gabi replied, eliciting thanks from Jeff.

“What about us?” Firestar asked.

“You could probably hitch a ride with me, if Lagi doesn't mind...” Jeff answered.

“I hope this Lagi's strong enough to carry us all,” Ray said quietly.

Jeff spoke up again. “That would be something to ask Gabi.”

“No, that would be something to ask Lagi,” Gabi corrected.

“…Right,” Jeff mumbled. “So where might Lagi be?”

“Most of my Pokemon stayed at home, getting ready for the trip.”

“That’s probably what I should be doing too,” Jeff sighed. He began mumbling to himself. “I wonder who I should take with me?”

“I think that's something you and your team should decide. In my team everyone is going,” Gabi replied.

Jeff frowned in thought. “Well, it's something to mull over. Is there a set time that everyone's leaving at?”

“We've been given 48 hours,” Gabi said, “which means we have to leave tomorrow, though there isn't a set time as far as I know. I guess each wave will have to arrange that.”

Jeff thought about that for a moment. “Okay, so who’s in charge of what group?” he asked.

Gabi sighed. “The more questions you ask me, the more I worry about how badly organized this may be.”

“Oh, sorry,” Jeff muttered, blushing slightly.

Gabi turned on him. “What are you sorry about? I'm sorry that I didn't come up with all these questions during the meeting. That's something I'm really bad at, knowing what to ask.”

“Maybe I should stop going to the hospital so often and actually attend these meetings,” Jeff said while rolling his eyes.

“It’s not your fault,” Gabi said, and then added, “But it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.”

“So which group is everyone going in?”

“Ade and I will be on different teams. There will be at least one other team, I don't know who'll be in it yet,” Gabi replied. “Pidgeot, Tsunami and Water Angel will stay with my group. The others haven't decided which group to go with yet.”

“Is there any difference between the teams’ objectives?” Jeff asked.

“Not really. We'll just try to strike from different points to have a better chance at breaching them. It's sort of a divide & conquer strategy.”

“So it doesn’t really matter which group I go in, then?” Jeff said.

Gabi shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”

After pondering that for a second, Jeff replied, “Well, maybe I’ll just go with the third group, then.” He turned to the vulpine trio. “What about you?”

“The third group sounds about right,” Solitude responded.

“I guess it's the same, as long as we get there. But I think the three of us should go together,” Ray interjected.

Jeff grinned slightly. “Well then, we probably will be traveling together, won't we?”

“Yes, we are. I'm just wondering...” Ray started, but after a sideways glance to Firestar and Solitude, he said, “Nothing. Forget it.”

Jeff pursued the topic. “What?”

“I was going to say something but I don't want Solitude to snap at me.”

“Oh. Okay, fair enough,” Jeff conceded. He turned to Gabi. “Uhm, Gabi, when you head back, could I come with you and ask Lagi for her help?”

Gabi nodded. “Sure. I was thinking of offering you that myself.”

“Thanks,” Jeff said. “What about these guys?” he asked, gesturing to Ray, Firestar, and Solitude. “Should they come as well?”

Solitude stood up from the bed and stretched. “It looks like I'm not getting any rest today,” she muttered. Jeff apologized, but she stopped him. “It's not your fault. Sometimes I wonder if there's some kind of fate ruling my life and stopping me from actually living it.”

Jeff brought his hand to his chin. “I’ve wondered that before myself.”

Gabi frowned. “Why is everyone so negative? I know we're going through bad times, but things are about to change. And we can do something so that the change is for the better.”

“That's true, but I wasn't trying to be negative; rather, I was just looking at how the events in my life have played out,” Jeff answered. “I come here because a psycho destroyed my hometown, and when I come here, not only do I run across a whole bunch of people from my past, like Cam for example, but the same psycho is presenting us with an opportunity to strike at him. It seems a little too convenient.”

“Yes, we do tend to come across the same beings again and again. That's another interesting thing to wonder about when we have the time,” Gabi said. “For now... we need to get ready for the assault, and hope it turns out better than the time we faced the Dark Cloak. Shall we go to my place now, or does anyone need to do anything else here?”

Motioning for her to hold on for a second, Jeff picked up five of the Pokeballs sitting on the bedside table. He recalled Trezzatura, Bobbery, Cam, Merc, and Kurtzwick, before sticking his out of the window. “Hey! Kiva! Anzu! 99! GG! I'm heading over to Gabi's. I'll explain more when I get back.” Jeff pulled back inside and turned to Gabi. “Okay, I’m good.”

The group set out of the barracks, eliciting yet another sigh from Solitude. Jeff ignored her and asked, “So where is it you live? I don’t know where any of the other Guild members live, actually.”

“Not far from here. 251 Rainbow Street. You'd think they chose the place by looking at my clothes. It's funny because the garden is about as big as the rest of the house. I guess they foresaw how big Sylvan and Water Angel were going to get,” Gabi chuckled.

Jeff nodded. “Cool. Do Soo and Ade live around here as well?”

“Ade and Soo live on 2 Windfall Crescent. A bit further from the Guild's HQ but not too far either.”

After a few minutes of walking in relative silence, the group stood on Rainbow Street, directly in front of house number 251. “So this is your house, huh?” Jeff asked, sizing up the building. “Pretty slick.”

“Scott gave it to me back when there were just a few of us in our division. I can’t say I have any complaints, other than a few electrical problems every now and then,” Gabi replied. She gestured to the door. “Come in, everyone should be waiting inside.” With that eloquent remark, she, Jeff, and the three foxes filed their way inside.

After a long conversation involving Solitude being recognized by everyone who entered the room, Jeff and Solitude exited the comfy atmosphere of Gabi’s house to begin the trek back to the barracks, Solitude opting to spend the night where nobody knew her name. As soon as she entered the barracks, Solitude immediately leapt onto the bed and fell asleep.

Jeff, on the other hand, sat down heavily in a small chair near his desk. He took out a small pad of paper and a pencil and began rapidly jotting down notes in it. After a moment, he stood up and went outside, just in time to see the rest of his team filing towards the door. He stopped them.

“Hey guys…” Jeff began. “Tomorrow, I will be heading to the Shifting Isles to help the Tamers in their crusade against the Blades. I want you guys to stay here, all right? Keep an eye on things for me?”

A silence fell over the small group. It was broken a few moments later by 99: “So… who are you taking with you?”

“I’m bringing Kurtzwick, Maza, Groviglio, Cam, Bobbery, Merc, and Trezzatura,” Jeff replied. He paused, and turned away from the group. “Should I…” he started, and began to stumble on his words, “Should I not come back, I want you guys to help the Guild however you can, all right?”

Previsiona floated over next to him. “Don’t talk like that, Jeff,” she murmured. “You’ll get through this perfectly, just like you always do.”

Lady Bow floated to his other side. “She is correct,” Bow grinned. “Those Blades will not pose any challenge to you. You’ll cut through them like a hot knife through butter,” she finished, chuckling.

Jeff smiled. “Thanks,” he said quietly. With that said, he went back inside.

The night passed quickly, and more importantly, uneventfully. Solitude didn’t wake up until the next morning, and even then she didn’t say a word. Before Jeff knew it, he was standing in a building on the Shifting Isles, thanking Lagi for her help. Solitude, Ray, Firestar, Iael, Hero, and a small group of Pokemon apparently from the Dark Cave had accompanied him there.

“So, Jeff, what exactly are our specific objectives here?” Groviglio spoke up.

“We wouldn't be able to go up against Armand himself, so I guess we just need to stall some Blades long enough for someone else to get in there,” Jeff replied. “Since our mission is pretty vague, I guess I'm pretty much open to suggestions from any or all of you.”

Hero grinned grimly. “I was thinking of finding some Blades and making them regret the day they set their eyes on Sector Alpha.”

Maza grinned as well. “Yeah!” he cheered. “Let’s go bash some heads!”

“I don't get why Tracker had to stay, she could have helped us a lot,” Hero added under his breath.

“Someone has to watch over the city to ensure we have a place to return to after this mission,” Lagi said.

Jeff spoke, apparently oblivious to that conversation. “Okay, since we want to take down as many of these thugs as possible, here's what I think we should do. We should fan out a bit - my Pokemon and I, Lagi, Iael, and the Dark Cave Pokemon, and Hero, Ray, Firestar, and Solitude. Is that acceptable?”

Almost immediately, Maza disagreed. “Jeff, maybe we should wait on splitting up until we actually get to a point where it would be to our advantage to do so.”

Jeff paused. “...Yeah, okay, that's true. Staying in one group right now would probably be the best, to avoid any potential ambushes,” he mumbled. However, as if to completely contradict him, a jet of water blasted past him, scattering the myriad fire Pokemon following him. Shocked, Jeff turned around – only to see a man dressed in a red uniform standing behind a leering Poliwag.

The Blade leered at Jeff too. “Hey, kid. Aren't you a little too young to be here? Shouldn't you be at home with your mommy?”

“A Poliwag? That's all? Haven't you noticed that I'm standing here with a Dragonite, 3 Ninetales, and other such Pokemon all much more powerful than a Poliwag?” Jeff replied, frowning.

“Be careful, Jeff. Underestimating your opponent may be the last mistake you ever make,” Hero muttered.

The Blade chuckled. “Don't try that with me, kid. I can tell those aren't your Pokemon. Besides, I don't want to battle them.”

Jeff sighed. “...I'll keep that in mind, Hero. And what makes you think you get a say in who you get to battle?”

The Blade pressed his hand to his chin in mock thought. “Hmm, I'd say I have about 7 or 8 very good reasons.” He snapped his fingers, and the sound of guns cocking echoed throughout the corridor. Jeff glanced around in the darkness, noting about eight vague red shapes circling the group.

Hero growled in frustration. “Oh, no, not AGAIN!”

Jeff turned to him. “What do you mean, again? When did this happen before?”

“There was a time when most Rockets used to threaten use with fire weapons. I even got hit by a bullet once.”

“This reminds me too much of the Black Battalion massacre. I seriously hope this doesn't end the same way,” Lagi said.

“I'd be more worried if it ended the opposite way,” Hero replied.

Jeff groaned. “Ugh. Don't worry, I have an idea.” He very subtly released Kurtzwick from his Pokeball and bent down to him. “Hey, you see the assorted men with guns all pointed at us? Can you go and carefully get those weapons from them?”

Kurtzwick smiled. “You got it,” he said, and slithered off past the Blade, unaware that anything had just occurred.

Jeff stood back up. “Okay, Blade, you’ve got a battle.”

“Let’s see… let’s go for the weakest first,” the Blade sneered. “I’m thinking your Abra looks like a good target.”

Maza growled. “Hey! I am NOT weak!”

“Don’t antagonize the guy, Maza,” Jeff said quietly. “Let’s just give him a battle, huh?”

“Heh,” chuckled the Blade, “that Abra is just fodder for my Poliwag. Let’s go!”

Battle time! Maza versus the Crimson Blade Poliwag!
Maza – “Henshin a-go-go, baby!”
~
Poliwag – “Prepare to be ensnared, mystified, and devoured!”

Maza quickly jumped at the Poliwag, who stood its ground, bracing itself. However, at the last minute, Maza Teleported behind the tadpole and hammered it with a frozen fist. The Poliwag turned to Maza, scowling, and began to slowly swirl the pattern on its stomach. Maza watched it with an eyebrow raised, almost as if to say, “This is it?” But soon, his eyelids began to droop. A small voice piped up inside his head. “You've had it rough. Why not just take a little nap? Nobody'll mind...” Maza nodded slightly and fell to the ground, snoring.

The Blade raised a fist and laughed. “Now, Poliwag, go in for the kill!”

“Maza!” Jeff yelled. “Come on! Wake up!”

Groviglio frowned. “Maza! You're not gonna let this chump get the best of you, are you?” He closed his eyes, and a cloud of purple energy began to envelop him; soon, it flew towards Maza and disappeared into his head. Maza started to stir, but not to awaken: instead, he began moaning and thrashing.

“I don't think that will help him,” Lagi said sternly.

“Hey, if he begins to have nightmares, maybe he'll wake up faster,” Groviglio defended.

Jeff frowned. “Lagi's right, Grove, I don't think that's helping!”

“He’s suffering…” Lagi said sadly.

The Poliwag grinned and took a step or two back. It closed its eyes and opened its mouth wide, and suddenly a massive ice-laden wind began to whip up. The wind swirled around, selecting Maza as a target and totally obscuring him from view. After what seemed like an eternity, the wind cleared, revealing a very blue – and very awake – Maza.

He shivered. “Th-that was a cheap shot! You’re g-going to get it n-now!” Maza lit both of his fists on fire, and the layer of snow encasing him immediately melted off. He sighed in relief. “Ah… warmth. Much better.” Keeping one of his fists alight, but extinguishing the other in favor of an icy coating, Maza jumped at the Poliwag again… only to have the Poliwag sidestep the attack easily, leaving Maza to crash into the ground.

Hero made an appreciative noise. “Nice combo! That’s not something you see every day.”

Maza glared at the Poliwag. “Let’s try this!” he growled, and jumped at the Poliwag again. The Poliwag, grinning, sidestepped it again, but Maza Teleported to his other side and clapped him on both sides of the face with the dual-elemental punch. Poliwag reeled and, scarcely taking a moment to breathe, shot a blast of ice at the Abra. Maza smirked and put up his fists: the fire surrounding them melted the ice harmlessly away. Changing tactics, Poliwag blasted a huge jet of water at Maza, but he Teleported away again, leaving the Hydro Pump to hit whoever was behind Maza: in this case, the Blade himself.

The Blade skidded back several feet and wiped the water from his face. “You idiot!” he yelled. “Don't attack me!”

Hero glowered. “Tsk. Typical. Are you sure you’re a Blade? You’d fit in much better with Team Rocket.”

The Blade glowered right back. “Hey! Nobody asked you!”

Meanwhile, Maza took advantage of the momentary ceasefire and Teleported into the air, holding himself aloft with his natural psychic powers. After hovering for a moment and adjusting his position, he lit one fist on fire and encased the other one in ice. Maza let himself go and plummeted towards the unsuspecting Poliwag – the resulting blow threw the Poliwag back, completely unconscious. Maza stood up and grinned triumphantly.

“No way!” the Blade stammered. “How did you beat me with... that weakling of a Pokemon?!” He snapped his fingers. “Get them! FIRE!”

The sound of fabric rustling against fabric echoed throughout the room as the Blades surrounding the party moved into position. At that exact moment, however, Kurtzwick reappeared beside Jeff, carrying a large pile of semi-automatic weapons.

Jeff smiled slightly. “So, Kurtzwick,” he addressed the young Dratini, “what are they actually firing?”

“Sticks, mostly,” Kurtzwick replied, looking more than a little pleased with himself.

Iael laughed. “That's better than my plan! What should we do about these guys?”

Jeff turned. “I think we can pretty much knock ‘em out, now.”

Hero chuckled. “Of course. Just like the rest of their kind, they're worthless without their weapons.”

Battle over! Maza gained 2 levels, to level 16!

Lagi pulled her attention from the conversation, and turned to look at the victor of the battle, who was currently glowing a brilliant white. “Maza?” she asked, sounding slightly concerned.

From inside the light, Maza’s body lengthened and grew. When he finally became visible, a clearly enthusiastic Kadabra was standing there. He took a moment to admire himself, and then joined Jeff in a rousing chorus of “Hey! Cool!” accompanied by Lagi’s “Congratulations!”

Jeff reached into his backpack and pulled out a small cube, no bigger than the palm of his hand. It was colored red. He handed it to Maza, saying, “I was saving this for you, buddy.”

Maza opened it, and the red dust sprinkled over him. “Hey, thanks!”

Maza has learned Confusion, Kinesis, and Blaze Kick!

“...So now that we've whipped this Blade and scared a whole pack of them away, shall we keep moving?” Groviglio grunted, standing in a corner, tapping his foot.

“Sure, there are bound to be more cowards ahead,” Hero answered. “Time to charge forward Hero style!” He winked and dashed ahead through the darkness.

Jeff glanced around him for a moment before running after the Ninetales. “Hey, Hero, wait up!”

Groviglio groaned. “They’re both gonna get hurt if they keep running ahead like that…”

“What else is new?” Iael replied. “Let’s all go together.”

“That is probably a very good idea,” Maza said, twilling the end of his moustache in his fingers and following the path into the next room. The rest of the group followed suit.

The next room was cloaked in an almost impenetrable darkness, much like the first room. A foreboding sense of uncertainty descended upon the group, causing more than one Pokemon to shiver. Maza lit his fist and glanced around the room, noting with some dismay that his trainer and their vulpine friend were conspicuously absent.

Ray raised an eyebrow. “Where did they go?”

“Yeah, that is strange,” Kurtzwick said. “There don’t seem to be any other exits here, either.”

“Maybe they Teleported,” Iael murmured thoughtfully. However, he was interrupted from that current train of though when a mournful and haunted voice rang out, seemingly from the very walls of the room itself.

“Your friends have fallen victim to the traps here. I can lead you to them, if you wish...”

The room was silent for a moment, before Groviglio spoke up. “Noooo, that’s not weird at all.”

“If we could trust you, you wouldn't be hiding like that,” Lagi said.

Another silent moment passed before a Gastly faded into view. “Well, excuse me for trying to create an aura of mystery! The offer still stands. I can lead you to your friends, or not. It's up to you.”

Maza turned to the rest of the group. “On the one hand, this reeks of a trap. On the other hand, though, we don't know where Hero and Jeff are, and they could be in danger. I say we go for it; I'm sure all of us combined can handle a Gastly if things go awry. But that’s just me.” He spread his arms. “Any objections?”

“I'd say it's crazy to follow him, but not any crazier than coming here in the first place, so let's go and see where this gets us,” Iael responded.

The Gastly grinned in a vaguely uncomforting way. “Excellent. Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment...” He glowed a dull pink, and the room began to tremble. After a minute or so, a hole opened up in the floor, revealing a rather dank, dark passageway. The Gastly turned to the group. “If you travel down that path, eventually you will come across two sealed doors. This is important: You must take the left door. The right has not been used in years, and leads up to an area that is now flooded.” He nodded. “Now, I must take my leave of you. I have a hunch that we will meet again later, but until then, I bid you adieu.” With that, the Gastly faded once again from view.

“So, how do we go about walking into this trap?” Ray asked.

The Misdreavus from the Dark Cave sighed. “Why are we doing this anyway?”

“To help our friends, of course!” Ray replied.

Maza glowered at the Ghost. “Our trainer is in danger. If you don't want to come with us, fine. But I'm going, and so are Groviglio and Kurtzwick.” He stormed away from the Misdreavus, striding purposefully into the passage. Groviglio and Kurtzwick followed him close behind, as did the rest of the group – with the notable exception of the Dark Cave Pokemon.

The darkness in the passage, as with the rest of the building, was almost suffocating. Maza lit his fist again, noting the burnt-out torches on the wall and shut his eyes. He quickly opened them again. “I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad sign, but I'm not sensing anything. Lagi? Can you?”

Lagi frowned. “There's someone over there, but that's as much as I can perceive.”

Maza sighed. “Okay, thanks. We’re just going to have to hope they don’t ambush us.”

Iael jumped in, saying, “And be ready in case they do.”

“Whatever they throw at us, we can handle it,” Groviglio said smugly. “I mean, we just beat down a bunch of Blades who had us at gunpoint.”

That last comment echoed forcefully though the hall and threw the group into silence. Nobody said anything until the group reached a pair of large, ornately decorated (albeit rusted), imposing doors. One of them had a pool of water collecting at the bottom.

Maza put his ear to the leaking door. “That Gastly was right about this; there is definitely a lot of water behind this door. Wait...” He paused. “That's weird. It sounds like there's someone swimming around...”

“Swimming?” Ray asked. “I have a feeling we shouldn't open that door. Unless... could Hero and Jeff be there?”

“Think,” Groviglio replied snidely, “if someone's swimming in there and we open that door, we're going to get drenched.” He smirked. “Besides, that Gastly's been right so far. He's probably right about telling us not to go through that door.”

Firestar nodded. “Definitely not a good idea.”

“Besides, if Jeff had come through here, this floor would be a lot more wet,” Maza said. “He can't Teleport, and I doubt Hero would willingly Teleport himself into a body of water.”

“Not unless it was to save someone,” Ray countered.

Maza sighed. “Okay, you have a point. Lagi, are you able normally to sense your teammates when they are close?”

Lagi lowered her head. “Normally yes, but something has been blocking me since they disappeared.”

“Okay, well, since most of us wouldn't like being drenched with however many gallons of water, I propose we take the other route,” Maza replied.

“It seems to be the safest,” Firestar agreed.

“Then if we can't find our friends, we can come back here,” Maza continued. “Agreed?”

The passage reverberated with the sounds of several different affirmations.

Maza pointed to the other door. “Okay then, let’s set out.” They opened the door and passed through it.

Before they had time to travel very far, however, a third door blocked their way, as imposing and ornate as the first two, although not nearly as leaky.

Maza tried to push it open, but jumped back suddenly. He growled quietly. “It’s electrified… Ideas, anyone?”

“We could try hitting it with long range attacks until it gives in,” Iael suggested.

“Sounds good to me!” Groviglio said. Suddenly, a massive jet of water appeared in front of him and rammed into the door. Small blue sparks played across the water, before shooting down the water and zapping the Tangela. He fell back, sizzling slightly. “Ouch…”

Ray shot a sideways glance at Groviglio. “Let's try with fire,” he said, shooting a blistering stream of fire at the door.

Maza nodded and closed his eyes, sending psychic waves at the door as well. The door creaked and sparked, bending slightly in the center. Maza grinned. “Let's hit it harder!”

Ray continued the fiery assault as Solitude and Firestar fired at it as well. The door creaked louder as large sparks flew off of it. Suddenly, it blew inward, revealing a large, simply decorated room. A large, cushy chair sat in the center, with its back facing the door.

Ray took a tentative step inside. “Hello? Is anyone in here?” As if to answer him, a muffled groaning emanated from the chair.

Iael frowned. “All of a sudden, I'm starting to think like Bolovayr.”

Groviglio scowled. “Despite all the obvious jokes one could make about him, he's one of the clearest thinkers I know.”

Maza chose not to say anything, instead approaching the chair cautiously. Quickly, he spun it around. The entire group gasped, as Iael murmured, “You were right after all, Groviglio.

The chair held none other than a tied up and gagged Jeff. However, before any of the Pokemon could do anything about him, a loud thump from the door indicated someone’s arrival. It was a reasonably tall man, wearing a black suit with a large R plastered on the front. His curly black hair peeked out from under the hat, and his green eyes glinted dangerously.

“A Rocket grunt?” Iael said incredulously. “Now this I wasn’t expecting! I thought you guys were after the Blades as well.”

The man ignored Iael. “All these Pokemon are yours, Azure? My, my, you have been busy since last we met.”

Jeff grumbled.

Groviglio glared at the Rocket. “Okay, so there's Jeff, but where's Hero?”

The Rocket looked confident. “Who...? Oh, you mean the Ninetales. He's in good hands, don't worry. But wow, 3 Ninetales? Mr. Azure, I never realized you had such a thing for foxes.” At this, Groviglio, Maza, and Kurtzwick stepped forward.

“They're not Jeff's Pokemon. We are,” Groviglio growled.

“Is that so?” the Rocket chuckled. “Well, then I suppose that makes this whole thing considerably easier. If I want to off this guy, then I just have to go through you three.” He pointed a finger at Groviglio. “You don't look terribly tough anyway.”

“How did he understand you?” Ray mumbled to Groviglio.

“My good Ninetales, I can understand any Pokemon effortlessly,” the Rocket smiled. He pointed at his ear. “I happen to have a hearing aid of my own invention. It allows me complete comprehension of anything a Pokemon says.” His grin grew even wider, and he clapped his hands twice. A very familiar Gastly faded into view. “Cassius!” the Rocket called.

“Yes?” the Gastly answered.

“You have done excellent work,” the Rocket replied. “Bringing me all of Mr. Azure's Pokemon here... it'll save me the trouble of hunting them down.”

Maza scratched his head. “Hold on. Why are you attacking my trainer in particular?”

“Let's just say... your trainer and I go way back,” the Rocket glowered. “Now that I think about it... you weren't there, were you? The first time was with the Smeargle and the Snorlax... the second time was with that blasted Castform...”

“What are you talking about?” Groviglio said.

Maza cut him off. “Wait, no, Jeff's mentioned this before. If I'm right, those were the first and third times he went to the hospital, respectively.”

Kurtzwick glanced between the two of them, a look of bemusement crossing his face. “Okay, you all must be really dense. Why don't we just ask Jeff?” He slithered to the chair and untied the ropes binding the young trainer.

Jeff spit out the gag. “Thanks, Kurtzwick. Uhm, guys, Hero is fine. There's a false wall in the back. He's back there.” He turned and glared at the Rocket. “But you’re right, Maza. This guy was at the center of all of those incidents.”

“But what your trainer won’t tell you,” the Rocket started, “is that because of him I was ejected from the Blades! I had it all… until HE came along!”

Maza blinked. “Wait, wait, are you trying to make us feel sympathy for you?”

“No, not really,” the Rocket sighed. “This was more of an expository type thing. However, I wasn’t joking about what your trainer did. As you could imagine, I’m more than a little put off about that. Why else do you think I lured you here?” He stomped his foot on the ground to emphasize his statement. “To get REVENGE!” He snapped a Pokeball off of his belt.

Maza crouched and put his fists up, but Groviglio jumped in front of him. “You’ve already battled, Maza,” Groviglio said. “Besides, this guy called me weak.”

The Rocket threw the Pokeball out, punctuating its drop with a cry of “DESTROY THEM!” The ball burst open, revealing a small, beige-colored creature with a set of massive jaws affixed to the back of its head – a Mawile. Groviglio groaned.

“Sure, Groviglio, don’t let the guy with Fire attacks battle the Steel Pokemon. I’m sure Grass attacks will work juuust fine,” Maza said, rolling his eyes.

Groviglio said nothing, instead glaring at his opponent.

Battle time! Groviglio versus the Rocket Mawile!
Groviglio – “Go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!”
~
Mawile – “Heh heh, don’t bite off more than you can chew!”

Mawile began the match, jumping at Groviglio and whipping him with its jaws. Groviglio stumbled back and growled. A moment later, the Mawile found itself trying to weave around several jets of water, seemingly originating from the concrete ground. One spray found its mark and hurled the Mawile across the room. Groviglio chuckled, but was suddenly cut short when the Mawile lobbed a ball of sludge at him. He gasped and quickly doused himself in a stream of water.

“That was dirty pool,” Groviglio scowled. He dashed at the Mawile, extending a vine… but the Mawile neatly ducked under it and grabbed it in its jaws. Groviglio cringed, and then noticed a sickly purple secretion oozing from the Mawile’s fangs. He howled in pain and tried to whip the vine away. Mawile reluctantly surrendered the vine. Groviglio retracted it, beginning to nurse it. The Mawile took a few steps backwards and charged at Groviglio, but Groviglio neatly stepped aside and tripped it. The Tangela closed his eyes, and suddenly, water began to bubble underneath the Mawile. Before it could react, a stream of water erupted from the ground and slammed the Steel beast into the ceiling. The water regressed, and the Mawile fell limply to the ground. The Rocket sighed and recalled it.

Battle over! Groviglio grew to level 13! Groviglio learned Growth!

Groviglio muttered something to himself and continued to nurse his vine. The Rocket stared at him for a second before turning to Jeff.

“Bring out your next Pokemon!” the Rocket commanded. “Or, at least, that’s what I would normally say… but it would be unwise to continue this here. Cassius!” He snapped his fingers, and the Gastly floated over to him. “Know this, Azure… We will meet again…” The Gastly glowed pink, and the pair disappeared.

Jeff walked over to Groviglio and pulled a small spray bottle out of his bag. He sprayed it lightly on the hurt vine, and soon, all traces of any injury were gone. Without saying anything, Jeff moved back towards the far wall and splayed his hands on it. After a few moments of moving his hands up and down the wall, he tapped one spot in particular. The room rumbled and the wall began to shift and groan, eventually spinning to parallel with the adjoining two walls. Behind the wall, two huddled masses of fur were easily visible – one orange and one white. Jeff dashed to the white mass, as did the rest of the group. He pulled a Pokeball from his belt and opened it, revealing his Ditto, Cambiamente.

“Cam,” Jeff muttered. “Do your stuff.”

Cam nodded and cloaked himself in a cloud of smoke. When it cleared, a Chansey stood there. The Chansey took its egg and began to feed it to the white mass. Slowly, groggily, the figure opened its eyes and glanced at the group surrounding it.

Ray summed it up quite nicely. “HERO!”

One long conversation and a Teleportation to the second floor later, the group found itself (sans Lagi, who had gone to look for the Dark Cave Pokemon) inside yet another large room, this one, however, filled with several trainers and Blades alike, them and their Pokemon alike brawling it out. Jeff quickly scanned the room, and noticed a familiar face. He began to wave, incredibly relieved.

A few moments later, Gabi and her Pokemon made their way to him. “Hi,” Gabi began. ‘It’s good to see you’re all safe. …Where’s Lagi?”

“She couldn't get up the stairs - she's coming up from outside. But oh man!” Jeff exclaimed. “You have no idea how good it is to see another friendly face!... Or maybe you do. Whatever. My point still stands.”

Gabi smiled slightly. “Ah, good. I was scared for a moment. Of course I know how good it feels!”

“I was attacked by a crazy Sharpedo. It didn't even say a word in the whole battle!” Tsunami said loudly.
“I got attacked by a crazy Rocket, who has this insane grudge against me,” Jeff countered.

“Hey, at least you weren’t fighting his Mawile!” Groviglio spat.

“I'd rather have that than a killer Arcanine who makes incoherent threats and bites like a vampire,” Hero said grimly. “I still have the marks to prove it.”

“Uh-oh. I hope you won't be turning any time soon,” Tsunami chuckled.

“Well, at least that Arcanine hasn't shot you twice in the past,” Jeff continued.

Hero turned to the two of them. “That's right, one shot in my life was more than enough. What’s that about turning?”

Tsunami apologized. “It’s just… good to have you back.”

“Yeah, same here,” Hero conceded.

At that point, Jeff glanced past Gabi and noticed a very familiar pair huddled in a corner. It appeared to be a Skitty and a Lickitung, the Skitty viciously guarding a canvas bag. “Okay, just out of curiosity, but why are those thieves here?” Jeff asked.

“That's the same thing I've been wondering all this time,” Pidgeot remarked.

“We found them lurking in the base. They stayed with us out of fear of some Blade killing them,” Tsunami started, but he was interrupted by a shout. The two thieves yelped as Kurtzwick managed to sneak up on them.

Jeff sighed. “Yep, that sounds like them. Oh well. They wouldn’t dare try anything here.”

“Has anyone seen Ade? Or anyone from the first group?” Gabi asked.

“No, sorry,” Hero apologized, “but I bet that’s were the real fun is.”

“I haven’t,” Jeff broke in, “but presumably Ade went to deal with DiAnnio personally.”

Gabi glanced away. “That’s what I feared. I hope nothing bad happens to him. He does have Rhiannon with him, but still...”

“Ade's a resilient guy. I'm sure he'll be fine,” Jeff said.

“I think we should worry about what's coming to us right now. This isn't exactly a safe place to converse,” Solitude interrupted.

Groviglio stared at her. “Well, what do you suggest we do, then?”

Before he could get an answer, however, a loud laugh rang out from behind the group. Jeff turned to look, and saw yet another Rocket grunt standing behind him. He sighed. “Okay, skip the theatrics. Just battle us,” Jeff said.

Hero grinned. “Couldn’t have said it better myself!”

The Rocket put his hand to his chin in mock thought. “Oh, sorry, I won’t be doing that.” He made a mad dash for the nearby window and jumped out. As he fell, his words flew back into the room: “Just know that you had the honor of being robbed by the world's greatest thief!”

Jeff looked puzzled, as both Kurtzwick and Popple stopped their argument to yell “What did he say?!”

Gabi frowned. “I don’t like this. What did he do?”

Jeff absent-mindedly passed his hand over his trainer’s belt. He frowned, and did it again. Then his face changed to one of panic. “Oh no! He’s got my Pokeballs!” He pulled one Pokeball off of the belt. “Except for this one…” He opened it, revealing the nervous-looking Beldum, Trezzatura.

“We must get them back,” Pidgeot replied. “I'd hate to think of what would happen to our friends if they remained in his hands.”

The Blue Avenger
28th October 2005, 11:07 PM
Continued...

“Cam, do your stuff!” Jeff said, obviously getting an idea. Cam Transformed quickly into a carbon copy of Pidgeot, and lowered Jeff to the ground, two stories below. The original Pidgeot flew a few Pokemon down, while Hero and Maza Teleported the remaining teammates.

As soon as Jeff hit the ground, he started running. He leaned down and tapped a small button on his boots, extending sets of wheels from the soles, and he began to skate. Hero and Cam (currently in the form of a Ninjask) were the only ones keeping up with him; the rest of the team lagged behind with Maza, Ray, and Iael heading off attacks. As they ran, Hero turned to Cam.

“Once this is over, you’ll have to tell me how to do that,” he told Cam.

Cam looked at him questioningly. “What do you mean?”

“Transforming into Pokemon that aren’t around.”

Cam was quiet for a moment, then said, “That’s not normal?”

“As far as I know no other Ditto has done that. But I'll take that as a sign that you don't know either.”

“Yeah. It's not something that’s ever crossed my mind.”

Jeff interrupted them. “Hey, Cam, so long as you’re Transforming, how about something to slow this Rocket down, huh?”

“Sure thing,” Cam replied. He Transformed into an Abra and disappeared in the blink of an eye.

The group soon caught up to the Rocket, who was unable to proceed due to a Snorlax in his way. The Rocket cursed at it. “Get out of my way, you blasted thing!”

“Not likely. Especially not since my backup just arrived,” Cam (for that was who the Snorlax was) replied, gesturing behind the Rocket. The Rocket turned around, panicked, and threw down a Pokeball, revealing a very large, very rocky form… the Rocket’s Onix roared and loomed over the group. The Rocket climbed up on it and pointed up; the Onix swooped forward, but was unable to escape Cam’s Block attack.

Jeff called up to him. “Okay, we have you severely outnumbered. Why don't you just surrender now? Hand over my Pokeballs!”

“No! So long as I can still get away, I never back down!” the Rocket called back. He snapped, and his Onix flew forward, obviously trying to create a path with Tackle. However, the Onix halted in mid-swoop as a resounding ‘clank’ echoed over the field. The Onix recoiled, revealing a barely-shaken Trezzatura.

“I may not like to battle,” Trezzatura said quietly, “but I still would never let anyone get away with my friends.”

Kurtzwick slithered up beside him. “And if you think I'm gonna let you call yourself the best thief around, you're sorely mistaken! That title belongs to me!”

Pidgeot groaned. “I can’t believe that’s what he worries about!”

Maza shrugged. “Hey, motivation is motivation.”

The Rocket pulled out a second Pokeball. He jumped down from his Onix and opened the second ball, revealing a rather smug Exeggcute. They struck a pose next to the Onix.

Trezzatura and Kurtzwick versus Rocket Exeggcute and Rocket Onix!
Trezzatura – “If I must…”
Kurtzwick – “Slash, slay, and haul it all away!”
~
Onix – “You’re in for a rocky battle!”
Exeggcute – “I’ll be your executioner!”

Trezzatura, surprisingly, made the first strike, plowing through the Exeggcute with a powerful Take Down, his Pokemon Collar glinting in the light. Kurtzwick followed after, zapping the Exeggcute at close range with a Hidden Power. The eggs didn’t seem terribly affected by it, however, and began to hurl a barrage of small dark orbs at Kurtzwick. Five of them hit the Dratini in succession, knocking him back and causing him to shudder. Just then, the Onix charged through, ramming Trezzatura with a Take Down of his own, although it didn’t seem to affect the Beldum that much.

Trezzatura, almost imperceptibly, brightened. “I’m a Steel type. What’s that gonna do?” he chuckled. However, nobody answered that question, as the Exeggcute through a slightly larger orb at him… and he was unpleasantly surprised to find that it exploded on contact. He flew back, slightly charred. Kurtzwick skidded in and quickly engaged the Exeggcute in a Wrap attack, meanwhile zapping it with his Hidden Power. Suddenly, as Trezzatura was recovering from the Egg Bomb, Onix fell over him and grabbed the Beldum in his mouth, grinding his teeth on the Steel-type.

Hero groaned. “Argh! Is everyone going to do that today?”

Jeff, on the other hand, was looking fairly worried. “C'mon, Trezzatura! You can do this!”

Trezzatura nodded slightly, and began to use his inborn magnetism to float higher and higher above the ground. The Onix failed to let go, even when the rock snake was not able to touch the ground any more – and then Trezzatura stopped floating. The two Pokemon sailed down, Onix crashing in a massive heap and releasing Trezzatura. Trezzatura took the opportunity to charge at the Onix with a Take Down, but it fled out of the way almost immediately, leaving Trezzatura to plow straight into a psychically propelled Kurtzwick, courtesy of Exeggcute. The two stumbled back dizzily, both groaning. They managed to stumble out of the way just in time, however, as both the Exeggcute and the Onix had chosen that moment to charge. With their potential targets moved, the two Pokemon nailed each other with a resounding ‘clunk.’

Battle over! Trezzatura and Kurtzwick gain a level! Trezzatura is now level 13! Kurtzwick is now level 6!

As the Rocket grimly recalled his Pokemon, Trezzatura sighed. “I’m glad that’s over…”

The Rocket only grinned. “I'm sorry, do you think this is really done?” he asked, surreptitiously releasing two more Pokemon: a Magby and a Grovyle. Kurtzwick balked.

“No… I can’t take another battle…” he groaned.

“Y'see, that's exactly what I'm counting on! Get them!” the grunt yelled. However, before his Pokemon could follow through on that order, a familiar Skitty pushed his way through to the battle. A Lickitung followed after.

The Skitty snarled. “No way! Look, that Dratini may have me beat in stealing, but you're miles away from me, see? I've got a score to settle with you! Let’s go, Rookie!”

Battle time! Popple and Rookie versus the Rocket Grovyle and the Rocket Magby!
Popple – “Let’s squash these drips, see?”
Rookie – “Yes, boss!”
~
Grovyle – “It’s time for you to go squish! Ehehe!”
Magby – “Let’s stoke this fire!”

Popple jumped out first, aiming a scorching Flamethrower straight at Grovyle. It hit point-blank, charring the lizard and throwing it back. Rookie took up the rear, picking up the Magby and hurling it at its teammate. Grovyle charged back into the fray, but it scarcely got back before Popple beat it about the face with a Double-Slap. Rookie summoned a swarm of rocks from the ground, and began to point out their targets: before long, both Magby and Grovyle were being pelted with rocks, grunting with each impact.

Popple turned to Rookie. “Rookie! Let’s finish this off now!” he hissed. Rookie nodded and picked up his boss. Winding up like a baseball pitcher, Rookie chucked Popple towards their foes. Popple started exhaling another Flamethrower, coating himself in the flames. He impacted hard against Grovyle and rebounded onto Magby. Both of the enemy Pokemon collapsed on impact. Popple bounded back near his partner.

Battle over! Popple and Rookie win!

Popple laughed. “That was it?” he asked, amazed. “No way was that all you’ve got, see?”

Even Rookie chuckled a little. “I have to admit, that wasn't much of a challenge...”

The Rocket stayed silent, instead choosing for the moment to gape.

The Dark Cave Noctowl turned to address the group. “I'm going to look for Lagi now.” Without saying anything else, she took off, followed by her two compatriots. As Jeff wished them luck, he walked over to Gabi, who looked troubled.

“What’s wrong?” he asked softly.

After thinking for a second, Gabi replied, “Aside from everything, you mean?”

“Yeah.”

“Come on,” Tsunami chastised her, “what would Caledor say if he heard you say that?”

Groviglio rolled his eyes. “He’d probably try to start an impromptu party on the battlefield.”

Tsunami nodded. “Yes, he definitely would.”

Gabi shook her head. “I don't know, I have the feeling we could do more than we're doing, but I don't know what the right thing to do would be…”

Maza glanced from face to face before cutting her off. “Hold on a sec. Am I the only one noticing that the guy who stole our buddies is getting away?” he asked incredulously.

“C'mon, Maza, chill a little. Things are under control,” Jeff replied.

“I doubt he'll be able to leave the island before this is over,” Gabi muttered.

Jeff grinned. “Actually, I have things even more under control than that.”

Iael blinked. “What do you mean?”

Jeff stuck two fingers into his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. Suddenly, the near-invisible Kurtzwick came into view again, holding a series of Pokeballs. “Yeah, boss?” Kurtzwick responded.

“Ah, that,” Iael said as Jeff put the balls back on his belt. The trainer knelt down and congratulated his Dratini.

“There's still the chance that he'll manage to escape before he's arrested,” Pidgeot interjected.

Jeff put his hands up. “Oh, relax a little. I told you, I have things under control!” He gave another whistle, and another Pidgeot flew towards the crowd, carrying an unconscious Rocket grunt in his talons.

Gabi’s Pidgeot conceded. “Alright. I must commend you guys.” Cam thanked him as he shifted back to a Ditto.

Hero abruptly changed the subject. “How long do you think it will be before the police joins us?” he asked Gabi.

Gabi didn’t answer that question, instead gazing skyward. “I think we should all look up right now,” she replied.

Indeed, a climactic battle was taking place in the skies above the Shifting Isles. A gigantic Salamence, Reaper, was blasting numerous foes that were trying to nail her with attacks from all sides. The battle was brought to a sudden end, however, when a Charizard drove its claws into the small jewel on Reaper’s forehead, shattering it. The Salamence plummeted. As the group below it scattered, they watched the dragon descend into the nearby abyss. Also watching the dragon was the big man himself – DiAnnio. Jeff made note of that fact.

“No way! Is that DiAnnio?” Jeff yelled. Gabi affirmed his statement, and silence fell over the group again. DiAnnio, after a few moments, jumped into the impenetrable darkness of the abyss. Jeff sighed, but remained silent.

“I always knew the man was insane,” Pidgeot said quietly. “We'd better wait here in case anything happens, but you don't all have to look…”

Jeff cut him off. “No, I think I need to see this.”

A few minutes passed where nothing happened. True to form, Groviglio was the one to break the silence. “Okay, if the head honcho here is gone, then his henchmen should be pretty easy to round up. Once the Rockets find their boss, they should skedaddle too. I propose we try and find some more Tamers.”

Lagi flew back and joined the group, followed by the Dark Cave Pokemon. Cam explained to her what she missed, but that and the entire rest of the conversation fell on the deaf ears of Jeff and Maza. The two stared down into the abyss, where quite possibly the most loathed man of their lives had just died.

No, Jeff though. Not the most loathed… that’s someone else… But that thought was quickly pushed to the back of his mind. It all happened so quickly… I didn’t even get to have a shot at him… he thought remorsefully. I couldn’t even get revenge for my town… Those thoughts continued to turn over in his head, even as Groviglio led him and Maza to the awaiting Pidgeot-Cambiamente, to fly home.

Back at the barracks, Jeff went straight for his bunk. The eager faces of his trusted companions surrounded him, but he ushered them away. Only Maza was able to get near him, and even then, he had to wait for the next day

Jeff grunted in frustration. “I should have done more, Maza! The man destroyed my home! Why couldn’t I just get one shot at him?!”

Maza sighed. “It would not have solved anything, Jeff. You’ve gone against him before, remember? Reaper utterly stomped us.”

Jeff groaned as he remembered that day. “But still… I’m failed… My only goal was to take him down, and I failed!” He collapsed onto his pillow.

“Jeff…” Maza started. “I wanted revenge on this man just as much as you did, for what he did to my friends. But he’s gone now, and that’s all that’s important. You played an integral part in that, as well – you helped clear the way for Ade to find DiAnnio. That’s pretty important.”

Jeff sighed again. “I… I guess you’re right… Look, I’m sorry. This should be a happy occasion… Why don’t you and everybody else head down to the headquarters and see what’s going on? I need to just stay here for a while…”

Maza nodded. Leaving Jeff to his thoughts, he silently slipped out the door.

Lady Vulpix
29th October 2005, 03:28 PM
"Sorry for the late reply" seems to be my customary greeting these days. It still holds, nonetheless.

Okay, 2 scary stories and one with a bitersweet ending which I will refrain from rating since I had a part in it, but I must say I liked it a lot. Where's everyone else? I wish Karin hadn't resigned, I miss her here, and she seems to be more active than I am these days.

Ade: it was good to learn more about Enigma. Is Rhi really a magnet fordemons? She seems to have come across more in the last year or so than most others meet in a lifetime! It was surprising to see Lord Absol show such compassion; I guess everyone has soft points. And Enigma almost said his name! She's not that good at pretending to be insensitive. As it happens, I started my story for the current scenario a while ago and was forced to interrupt it due to lack of free time, but in that story I had said something about Lord Absol actig like a Man In Black; this story confirms my opinion even more. And now for a random comment, Rhiannon makes a much better use of the word 'irrelevant' than most people I know. And I've seen her war cry before. :P Take 20 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

Shonta: that was a great story!I'd like to see Bandit living up to his words (sprouting wings and flying, I mean). What does 'sempai' mean? The ending looked a bit rushed, but I liked the interaction between Rose and Bandit during the battle. And Rose's name... dead giveaway? I know a Ditto named Rose who would find that comment funny. On a more serious note, I especially liked the new view on Katana's thoughts and feelings. Take 21 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

Jeff, I hope someone rates your story soon.

classy_cat18
29th October 2005, 06:01 PM
Gabi: Actually it's supposed to be -senpai. -senpai is a Japanese title used for upperclassmen or other people of a higher rank. However, I thought later that -sama would've been a better fit, which is used for people of utmost respect. Now how about that RBG for my L12 Mareep?

Lady Vulpix
29th October 2005, 06:35 PM
Oops! Sorry. Beacon's going to battle a Torchic.
And thanks for the explanation!

The Blue Avenger
31st October 2005, 11:00 AM
Um, I had spare time in abundance this weekend, so I went ahead and did the current scenario as well. A warning: this story WILL NOT make sense unless you've played EarthBound, particularly the ending. If you can make sense out of it, good for you. Now, let me present "The Obligatory Video Game Parody Part Two: Revenge of the Parody."

---

“Okay, Jeff, I understand that you’re still depressed about losing your chance to go after DiAnnio. But five days is far too long to be moping around in the barracks, not doing anything.”

“Yeah! The least you could do is mope around somewhere else!”

“Uhm… hush, please, Mona.”

“Sorry.”

“Now, look, Jeff, the Guild set up something they’re calling the Maze. They made a particular note of the fact that it’s non-lethal, and purely for training and entertainment purposes.”

“Bobbery, I don’t know…”

“That’s okay, because frankly, you have no choice in the matter. We’re going.”

“And if I choose not to?”

“Jeff, I’m a Snorlax. If you elect not to go, I will physically carry you there, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. I outweigh you by almost a ton.”

The young trainer sighed. “I guess you’re right. Maybe this will do me some good. Who else has expressed an interest in coming?”

“Let’s see… me, Mona, Maza, Mercandos, and, surprisingly enough, Raini.”

“Really?” A look of shock passed over Jeff’s face. “Well, okay then… Let me grab my bag.” Jeff walked back to his bunk and slung a backpack over his shoulder. As he turned around, a sudden jerk in his pack made him stumble. Pausing for a moment, he realized the cause: “Oh, hi, Raini.” The Meowth peeked her head out of the top of the bag and mewed, abstaining from speech for the moment. He turned back to Bobbery and Mona. “Well then, we ought to be off before the place gets too crowded.”

Before long, Jeff found himself standing just inside the door to the Maze. The building stretched out around him like the labyrinths of legend, albeit a labyrinth with nicely polished white tile and tastefully done window treatments. Two paths branched out in front of him; one led to a staircase leading to the upper stories of the building, the other presumably leading into the bowels of the ground floor. However, a thick wall, standing up to the ceiling, obscured his view of the rest of the floor.

Jeff turned to the four Pokemon surrounding him (and the one riding in his pack). “Well, guys?” he asked. “What do you think?”

“Right!”

“Left!”

Jeff palmed his forehead and sighed. “Okay, let’s go for a tiebreaker. Raini, what do you think?”

Raini, without a moment’s hesitation, pointed down the corridor, away from the staircase.

“Okay, then first floor it is,” Jeff said, smiling, unaware of Mona behind his back sticking her tongue out at Bobbery and Mercandos. They took their first steps down the hallway…

…Only to be rudely interrupted by a loud, grating klaxon blaring. A small hatch opened in the wall, and, after the horn quieted, a harsh, robotic voice emanated from it.

“The famous song ‘---terday’. Can you fill in the blank? Yes or no?”

Jeff scratched his head. “Hey, what? What do you mean -”

“The famous song ‘---terday’. Can you fill in the blank? Yes or no?” the voice repeated.

“Um… I guess so, yes,” Jeff replied.

“Excellent! Congratulations!” The hatch closed as a small shower of confetti streamed over the group.

Jeff stood there for a few seconds, stunned. “Guys?” he began slowly. “What just happened?”

“Quite honestly?” Bobbery replied. “I have no clue. I think whoever runs this place must just have an eccentric sense of humor.”

“Or a stupid one,” Mona mumbled, before continuing absent-mindedly down the hallway. Jeff, Maza, Merc, and Bobbery looked at each other, shrugged, and followed her.

Soon, however, they were stopped yet again, this time by another fork in the path. Three hallways stretched out into the distance: one forward, one left and one right, each one running for what seemed to be miles, with even more branches running off of them. The strange things about the fork, however, were the people standing guard over each of the branches. The three men were exactly identical, each one with bleached white hair, dark sunglasses, a muscled and tan physique, and a Hawaiian shirt. They did not move, instead just staring straight ahead.

Mona walked up to one of them and tapped them on the chest. “Um, excuse me… Can you move? We need to get past you. You’re in our way – we want to get to the end of this maze and I don’t know if you’re just other trainers who came to challenge the maze or what, but it doesn’t seem very nice of you to block the way like that. I mean, you would never catch me doing that to anyone, particularly if they were trying to do something quickly, and even more particularly if that someone were as cute as myself - ”

She was stooped abruptly as the man grabbed her arm. “Hello,” the man stated simply.

“Um… hello?” Mona replied, failing to notice the Gastly materializing behind the buff man.

“Hello…” the man said again, “and goodbye!”

“Wait, what?” Mona asked, before the Gastly glowed pink. Suddenly, the world spun around her and went dark…

***

“Ugh… what happened…?” Jeff groaned.

“I dunno…” Mercandos mumbled, “But I think something lumpy landed on me. That’s not you, is it, Jeff?”

“No, I think it’s my pack,” Jeff replied, standing up slowly. They were in an entirely different part of the Maze. Glancing out the nearby window, it seemed to Jeff that they were on the second or third floor… on the opposite side of the building.

“Man, what was that?” Maza said, standing up as well.

“And why is it so dusty up here?” Mona asked, coughing.

“It’s dusty?” Maza asked. “I hadn’t noticed.” That was as far as he got before he started coughing as well.

Jeff passed his hand through the air, noting the white, green, purple, deep brown and black specks of dust that collected on his hand. “Aw, nuts,” he groaned. “The TMs in my pack must have broken…” He blinked. “Oh no! Raini!” Hurriedly taking off his backpack, he opened it, revealing the wide innocent eyes of the young Meowth. Jeff sighed and took her out of the bag. Placing her quickly on the ground, he frowned. “Raini, why are you soaked?” Not waiting for an answer, he checked in his pack. A plastic bottle lay at the bottom, a wide gash split down the side. “Oh well, there goes another bottle of water… Sorry, Raini, I don’t have a towel with me.”

Bobbery tapped Jeff on the shoulder. “Not to be, y’know, annoying or anything like that, but mind telling me what TMs we happen to be inhaling?”

Jeff blushed. “Right. The ones that didn’t crack… let’s see here… Triple Kick, Block, Doom Desire, Dragon Claw, Arm Thrust, Beat Up, and Mach Punch. That leaves six unaccounted for. But what were they…?”

Mercandos shrugged. “Eh. It’s no big deal. I guess we’ll find out eventually. Let’s keep moving, huh?”

Jeff nodded, swinging his pack back on. “Besides, it’s not like having new moves will be a bad thing, right?” he chuckled as he started walking down the nearest corridor.

Mercandos mumbled something about ‘being unconcerned for our safety’ but quickly followed Jeff, as did Bobbery, Raini, and Mona. Only Maza stayed. He started to go after his teammates, but stumbled, and leaned on the wall for support.

“Ugh… man,” the Kadabra moaned. “I don’t feel so hot… you’d think I’d be used to Teleportation by now…”

A voice called down the hallway. “Hey Maza! Where’d you get to?”

Maza snapped back up. “I’ll be there in a second, guys!” he called. As he dashed after his friends, he mumbled to himself, “Oh well, I’m sure it’s nothing.”

As he caught up with the group, he found Jeff staring intently at a sheet of paper. “What’s going on?” he asked.

Jeff looked up. “Um, well…” He blushed. “I found a list of my TMs in another section of my pack. I think the ones that cracked were Dizzy Punch, Magical Leaf, Dynamic Punch, Luster Purge, Torment, and Psycho Boost.”

Maza blanched. “What was that last one?”

“Uhh…” Jeff consulted the list. “Psycho Boost.”

Why is that ringing bells? Maza thought to himself.

Bobbery learned Dynamic Punch!
Mercandos learned Dizzy Punch, Magical Leaf, and Luster Purge!
Raini learned Torment!
Maza learned Psycho Boost!

However, before he could answer that question, the lights above them began flickering, and with a loud ‘thoom,’ the floor was plunged into darkness. The confused cries of the other trainers in the maze rang through the air. Jeff heard a loud “URK!” but was unable to gauge from who, or what it came.

Just as quickly as they shut off, though, the lights returned to the building, met with sighs of relief from the people inside. A noise like static emanated from the wall near Jeff, and he noticed that there was a loudspeaker near the ceiling. Someone cleared their throat on the other side of the microphone, and began to speak.

“Attention, trainer Jeff… Trainer Jeff, from Happy-Happy Village. Mona is waiting for you at the exit. Repeat, Mona is waiting for you at the exit. …Gwaaargh!”

Jeff frowned. “That’s odd. Mona’s right here…” He turned around, and sure enough, Mona was no longer standing with the rest of the Pokemon. Jeff swore under his breath.

“Calm down, Jeff,” Bobbery said. “Look, I’m sure it’s just one of the challenges here. They knew your name and hometown, so more likely than not, that means that was someone from the Guild on the loudspeaker.”

“But what about that last part of the announcement?” Maza asked. “That ‘gwaaargh’ bit?”

“Eh,” grunted Bobbery. “It’s probably just for dramatic effect.”

“Whatever the reason,” Jeff interrupted, “we probably ought to get to the exit sooner rather than later. You know Mona; she’ll probably talk her captor to death.”

“Agreed,” Maza replied. “Let’s go.”

“Wait, wait, hold on, guys,” Mercandos said, staring at something on the wall. “Did you guys see this sign?” The group gathered around him.

There was indeed a sign on the wall. “When you’ve found the four ropes, you’re almost to the exit. …Brick Road,” Jeff read aloud. “What does that mean?”

“Well, I’d imagine that there are four ropes somewhere in the building, Jeff,” Mercandos said, rolling his eyes. “They’re probably, oh, I don’t know, somewhere near the exit.”

Jeff scowled. “Thanks, Merc. I got that. I was referring to the last line, ‘Brick Road.’”

“Maybe it’s someone’s name?” Bobbery suggested.

“Man, I’d hate to have that name,” Merc chuckled. “What bad parents!”

Jeff sighed. “Okay, now that we’ve read the sign, can we move on?” The rest of the group nodded and they continued down the corridor.

Their progress was once again halted. This time, however, it was not because of a buff man in a Hawaiian shirt, but rather a thick, metallic door. There was a square set in the center of the door, with three circles surrounding it. Jeff leaned towards the door, noticing the small text inside the square.

“For those who wish to get pass me,
Regretfully I must challenge thee.
Hit me with the elements three,” Jeff read. “The elements three? I wonder which elements those are. Maybe it’s hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon? Or maybe argon, krypton, and neon?”

“Wait, Jeff, there’s more there,” Maza said. He began to read out loud. “ADDENDUM: Each one opposes another, see?” He thought for a moment. “Maybe that means each element cancels another one out.”

“Or,” started Bobbery, “what if the door’s not referring to the periodic table elements? Maybe it means elements, like the term is used in magic – y’know, wind, ice, that sort of thing.”

“Or, maybe it means elements of Pokemon attacks!” Mercandos continued triumphantly. “That means it wants three attacks that are super-effective against one another!”

“And, luckily enough,” Jeff finished with a glint in his eye, “we’ve got attacks like that right now! Maza, try a Fire Punch!”

Maza nodded and enflamed his fist. He smacked the door. The fire disappeared, and one of the circles lit up red.

“Now, Bobbery, try a Surf!”

Bobbery raised his arms. A nearby water fountain buckled and started spraying water at the door – the water vanished, and the second circle lit up blue.

“Hmm… now we need grass, right? Mercandos, you got that Magical Leaf TM, right? Go for it!”

Mercandos waved his hands, and leaves began to magically appear in front of him. Glowing slightly, they zoomed straight for the door. They, too, disappeared after impact, and the final circle lit up green. The group fell silent as the three circles begin to drain themselves of color.

“Maybe we didn’t do it right…” Bobbery whispered.

“No, wait…” Merc responded. The door slowly began to swing inwards, creaking ominously. The group peered inside…

…and saw a very familiar man. He wore dark sunglasses, a Hawaiian shirt, and had bleached hair. Before they could say anything, he pulled a Pokeball from behind his back.

“Hello,” he said simply. He tossed the Pokeball to the ground, and it burst open, revealing a young and eager-looking Rattata. “Go, Rowdy Mouse.” The Rattata sneered.

“So, who’s gonna battle me?” it asked.

Before Jeff could choose a Pokemon, Raini leaped out from behind him. She hissed.

“Let’s go,” she said simply.

Battle time! Raini versus the Tough Guy’s Rattata, Rowdy Mouse!
Raini – “Hmm hmm hmm…”
~
Rowdy Mouse – “Smaaaash!”

The Rattata jumped at Raini. Raini nimbly stepped aside, but the Rattata jumped back and began to glow red. Before Raini could react, a vortex of fire surrounded the rat. The flames exploded forth, scorching Raini before she could move.

However, what happened next caught everyone by surprise. Jeff and his team, as well as the Tough Guy and Rowdy Mouse, watched, amazed, as Raini’s normal black fur slowly changed hues, being replaced by a bright red.

“Raini! Are you okay?” Jeff called. Raini didn’t say anything. Instead, she just glared at the Rowdy Mouse. She stood on her hind legs and hissed at the rat, continuing on to jump over to it. Raini immediately extended her claws and began to slash at Rowdy Mouse’s face. The rat began to glow red again, but the flames it tried to summon failed to appear; instead, it just coughed out a cloud of smoke.

Raini grinned evilly. “Torment is a nasty thing, no?” she hissed. The Rattata didn’t appear fazed, and instead blasted a jet of bubbles at the Meowth. Raini skidded backwards and shook off her fur. Once again, her fur started changing hues, this time from red to a deep blue.

Jeff clapped his hand to his forehead. “I get it now!” he exclaimed. “She got soaked with the Kecleon Juice I had in my bag!”

Raini ignored him and spread her arms. A series of large, yellow stars appeared in the air. They began to circle around her, until she pointed at her foe; they immediately cut through the air and plowed into Rowdy Mouse. The rat flew backwards, but was immediately halted in the air, held aloft by some unseen force. Rowdy Mouse hovered in the air for a second, and was then unceremoniously smash into the ground. The Rattata whimpered weakly, but was again brought into the air, where it was thrown into the ground again. It floated back up a third time, but this time, instead of falling to the ground again, Rowdy Mouse was thrown backwards. It bounced off of a wall and collapsed on the ground, unmoving. The Tough Guy, an expression of disbelief on his face, recalled the abused Rattata.

Battle over! Raini wins! She grows 1 level, to level 6!

Everyone fell silent, staring at the cat (whose fur had by now returned to its original black). Mercandos was the first one to break the silence, saying, “Wow. Overkill much?” Raini just looked up at him and mewed.

The Tough Guy coughed. As everyone turned to look at him, he began to speak again. “Hello,” he started, “and goodbye. Shall I?”

Jeff quickly jumped in. “No! No, that’s okay, we’ll just stay -” He was cut off as he felt the familiar sensation of being teleported again.

The group fell in a heap in yet another part of the maze. Jeff groaned. “I’m starting to hate this place…”

“Ugh, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head,” mumbled Merc. “The people who created this place are sadistic…” Just then, the ever-present intercom crackled into life.

“Trainer Jeff… Trainer Jeff… gwaaargh! Please come and pick up Mona! …Gwaaargh! At the exit!”

Jeff grunted. “At this rate, it will be forever before we actually get there…”

Maza placed a hand on his shoulder. “It may be sooner than you think, Jeff.” He pointed towards a nearby wall…

…where four ropes extended down from holes in the ceiling. Jeff smiled. “Four ropes. Excellent. Well, guys, why don’t we see if this Brick Road knows what he’s talking about?” He dashed over to the ropes and tugged on one of them. “They seem stable enough,” he mumbled to himself before picking one and shimmying up it.

The rope led up into a small conference room. The only exit was a door, which, Jeff realized after staring through the window next to it, led outside. This hypothesis was strengthened further by the sign hanging above the door, which read, “Goodbye Exit.” He jiggled the doorknob, only to find it locked. Jeff cursed mildly under his breath.

“Good day,” someone said suddenly from behind him. Jumping, Jeff turned. The person standing behind him was, without a doubt, a bizarre character. He had the stature and size of a 10- or 11-year-old boy, but in place of a head, the boy had a giant jack-o-lantern, replete with stereotypical toothy grin. “No doubt,” the boy continued, “You’re the Trainer Jeff, here to save your Smeargle. Is this true?”

“Y-yes,” Jeff replied, strangely intimidated by the kid.

“I suppose I ought to introduce myself, shouldn’t I?” the kid said, swapping topics suddenly. “I never give out my real name. However, you may address me as the Trick or Trick Kid.”

“Right, the Trick or Treat Kid,” Jeff repeated.

“No, numbskull. Trick or Trick Kid. I don’t want any treats. I just spend my time playing tricks on people!” the kid sneered. “Look, I suppose you’ll be wanting your Smeargle back. You may have guessed already, but there’s a little challenge that you’ll have to go through first.”

“And that would be…?” Jeff asked, slightly irritated.

“You’ll have to battle me!” Trick or Trick Kid grinned. “When I’m done with you, you’ll go to… well, you won’t go to heaven!” He pulled the top off of his pumpkin head and pulled a Pokeball out from inside – a fairly unnerving sight, to be sure – before tossing it to the ground. A Vulpix burst forth, smiling innocently. “Let’s go, Wild n’ Wooly Shambler!”

Jeff grinned. “Okay, let’s see how you like this! Let’s go, Mercandos!” Mercandos stepped out in front of his trainer and leered at the Vulpix. “Hey, Merc, try this,” Jeff whispered. He handed Mercandos a small earring, and Merc quickly put it on. “It should boost your special attacks!”

“Thanks, Jeff,” Merc mumbled back.

Battle time! Mercandos versus Wild n’ Wooly Shambler!
Mercandos – “It’s time to win!”
~
Wild n’ Wooly Shambler – “Spooked yet?”

Mercandos charged at the Vulpix and managed to deliver a powerful punch before the Vulpix could even register anything happening. Small, yellow birds seemed to fly over Shambler’s head as it managed to shake off the confusion. The Vulpix reared back and launched a massive gout of flame at Merc, sending the Mr. Mime skidding back, slightly crispy.

“C’mon, Merc! Don’t let it get in the lead!” Jeff called. Mercandos nodded, and stomped back towards the fox. He closed his eyes, and a golden power began to emanate from him. It settled behind him, in the form of a massive dragon, and roared. Shambler took a few steps back, a look of fear in its eyes, before the dragon rushed at her. The collision resulted in the Vulpix flying several feet back, gold sparkles surrounding it. It stood back up and growled at Merc.

“Now, Shambler! Try our special attack!” Trick or Trick Kid chuckled. “Soul Consuming Flame!”

Jeff gasped. “Soul Consuming WHAT?!” He turned to Merc. “Be careful, Merc! That sounds lethal!” Mercandos frowned.

“Well then,” he muttered. “Let’s try and deal some damage!” Again, the mime closed his eyes. This time, however, he began to glow a light purple. “Luster Purge!” he yelled, before the entire room went white. The sound of a heavy impact could be heard, as could the sound of rushing wind. The whiteness cleared, and Mercandos smirked: the Vulpix looked bruised and dazed.

“Shambler!” the kid cried out in panic.

“Now, let’s have some fun,” Mercandos chuckled. He lifted his hands, and began to wiggle his fingers. Suddenly, the wind began to pick up inside the conference room. A small, centralized whirlwind started to form around the panicked Vulpix; it quickly grew and tossed Shambler around the room. However, Shambler quickly regained its bearings and charged at Merc. The Vulpix impacted hard, knocking the wind out of Merc and throwing him back several feet. He stood up and scowled at the now-smug Shambler.

“Come on, Merc! Pull out one of your special combination moves or something!” Maza called.

“You can beat this punk!” Bobbery yelled.

Right… Merc thought. Let’s see… what can I do with my new attacks? Suddenly, it came to him. He closed his eyes once more, the familiar golden energy gushing forth. However, this time the energy did not form a dragon. It wrapped itself around Mercandos’ fist. He charged at the Vulpix, and just as he punched it in the face, he yelled, “Dragon Punch!” The Vulpix flew away, propelled by the force of the blow, and landed hard, completely unconscious. Trick or Trick Kid sighed.

Battle over! Mercandos grows two levels, to level 12!

The kid sadly recalled his Vulpix. “All right,” he groaned. “I hate to admit it, but you are good. You can have your Smeargle back.” He snapped his fingers, and a Haunter faded into view. “Go fetch Miss Mona, please,” the boy asked. Haunter nodded and disappeared. A few moments later, it reappeared with Mona in tow, who has jabbering wildly about nothing in particular. Trick or Trick Kid turned to face Jeff. “It is unlikely we’ll ever see each other again. Even so, I must be making my departure.” He snapped his fingers again, and he and the Haunter began to disappear. Before he faded entirely from view, he said one last thing. “Happy Halloween!”

Mona rushed over to Jeff and hugged his leg, halting the stream of words from her mouth momentarily. Jeff knelt down and hugged her back. “It’s good to see you again, Mona. I’m glad to see you’re not hurt.”

He stood back up and tried the door again. To his relief, it was unlocked. As he and his party walked out the door, a fanfare played over the intercom system. They stopped and glanced around. Suddenly, a man dropped down from the sky. He wore dark glasses, a tuxedo, and a tall top hat, and he was holding an old-fashioned camera.

“Pictures taken instantly!” the man grinned. “I’m a photographic genius, if I do say so myself.” He held up the camera. “Look at the camera… say, ‘Fuzzy Pickles!’” Without waiting for a response, he snapped a photo. “Ah, what a great photo!” he said. “It will always bring back the fondest of memories!” With that, the man ran off into the distance.

The group stood there quietly. It was Bobbery who spoke up first. “I have an idea,” he said quietly. “Let’s just go home and forget that just happened.” The rest of the group agreed with him, and they set off.

AntiAsh Superstar
4th November 2005, 02:14 AM
Okay... Jeff, finally got round to rating yer Blades scenario... very nicely done and it was interesting to see your thoughts on the whole matter. The battles seemed a touch short but the rest more than made up for that. Take 20 stamps. :) I'll rate your other story after the weekend as I've got Soo's parents coming over and won't have much time to do anything online until Monday. However, I'm rather looking forward to reading it; an Earthbound spoof coming from you is just BOUND to be interesting. :D

Gabi: As I said in PM, sorry for the inactivity. And you've seen Rhi's war cry before? Are you suggesting that it, in fact, is not totally original and has actually been stolen from a talking cat in some daft fantasy webcomic? :O

EDIT: Jeff, take 16 stamps for your Maze scenario... I'll overlook what liberties you may have taken with how the Guild would organise an event because that was prolly the daftest thing I've seen written here for a while and made me literally laugh out loud at some points. Nice (albeit silly) way of getting around the different floors thing btw. So tell me, during that photo at the end did you strike a pose while your companions all stood there like nothing was happening or what? :D

classy_cat18
11th November 2005, 08:39 PM
Okay, Beacon's RBG. The battle's a little blah but oh well.

EDIT: Can I have an RBG for Moriko? This'll come from the Professional Sports Breeding System. She's my L9 Heracross.

Lily’s POV

I smiled to myself as Rose talked to Katana, worrying about the small burns that were on Katana’s body. “We do have some Burn Heal at the inn,” Rose suggested.

“These burns are too small to damage me any further,” Katana assured her.

“At least let me give you a Potion or a Berry, Katana-sama.”

Katana smiled a little. “Okay, a Berry would be nice, especially after that Flamethrower.”

Bandit walked by me, muttering. “She’s not even modest. I know she loves the way that poor Roselia fawns over her.”

“Well, it would be impolite to just push her away. Rose thinks of Katana as a role model. Katana’s strength, speed, intelligence…” I started.

“Do I have to point out her bad characteristics again?”

“Let’s not disappoint the Roselia, Bandit. Or should I point out your bad characteristics to her?”

Bandit went silent but still had a frustrated look on his face until we got to the inn. Ben gave us the key to our room, reprimanded Rose for wandering away, and went back to his duties.

The room was pretty basic. Wooden floors, a big bed that took up half of the room, and a door leading to a small bathroom. I might’ve been exaggerating about the bed but the room was still pretty small. The Pokemon would be sleeping in their pokeballs tonight. “Oh well. At least Shonta will sleep well tonight,” I said to myself.

“Katana-sama can sleep now if she wants to,” Rose offered.

Katana opened her mouth, probably to protest, but closed it again. “Okay, I’ll take a nap on one condition. Shonta, I seem to recall that you got new TMs for some members for the team. I want the team to practice those attacks and any attacks that they have not used.”

Rose turned to Shonta and batted her eyes innocently. Shonta gave in. “Okay, take five, Katana. The rest of the team will practice their attacks.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~

The rest of us gathered in a field behind the inn. Not long after the others were let out, a flock of Mareep gazed at us. Shonta dug through her backpack and pulled out a few TM boxes. “Moriko, I got a doozy for you. Megahorn.” She tossed the box to Moriko.

“Score! The most powerful Bug-type attack and I have it!” Moriko shouted happily.

“Jewel, I got you Skill Swap. It allows you to exchange traits with your opponent.” She walked to Jewel and sprinkled the contents of the TM box on her. “I want you to practice that for now. Trinity, practice your Teleport. Lily, your Sludge Bomb and Magical Leaf. Nama and Athena, just practice any attacks you think you haven’t gotten the hang of yet.” She kneeled in front of Rose. “Do you need a new attack?”

Rose blinked. “Yes, but I’m sure you need your TMs for the rest of your team,” she said.

“I have an extra TM that you can have.” She pulled out a Magical Leaf TM. “You can practice with Lily.”

Rose smiled widely as Shonta emptied the contents of the TM on her. “Thank you so much!”

“Good thing she got it,” a voice behind me said. I turned around and found myself staring at an Ampharos. But this was no ordinary Ampharos. This one’s colors were inverted. She reminded me of the picture of the Ampharos on the inn’s size.

“Mama?” Beacon asked. “Mama!” She ran up to her mother and nuzzled her chest. “I’ve missed you so much!”

The black Ampharos smiled. “How have you been, little Beacon? Have you been practicing your attacks?”

“A lot, Mama! I’ve even learned a few more!”

“Beacon has been a good Pokemon to work with,” Shonta told the black Ampharos. “I’m Shonta, Beacon’s trainer.”

The black Ampharos let Shonta shake her hand. “Ben told me about you. I’m Volt, Beacon’s mother. I help look after Mrs. Johnson’s flock of Mareep.”

“Mrs. Johnson?”

“Ben’s wife. She and her son help with the farming and Ben looks after the inn. It’s going to be one heck of a retirement fund soon.” She laughed a little at that. “Anyway, I’ll be more than happy to help with any training.”

“I should warn you about the danger that’s headed our way,” Jewel told Volt. “The Sentret that attacked Rose will be back with reinforcements.”

“You should be in bed, Katana-sama!” Rose said angrily.

“And miss out on the fun? I don’t think so,” Katana said with a smile.

Volt smiled. “The flock and I can take care of ourselves. It’s you I’ll be worried about. I’m assuming it’s those Demons that I’ve heard about?”

Katana nodded. “There’s a group of Demons in this area, mostly Fire types, that have been inactive until now. Do you have any idea why they’re after Rose?”

“I’m afraid not. We have lived in peace until today. Then they started going after Rose.”

“They must know that Beacon knows Rose. That Diablo…” She unsheathed her claws and growled louder.

“I take it that Diablo leads these scoundrels?”

“Not in this region, but he and Char are close friends. If you want to, you can help us defend against him.”

“Who? Char or Diablo?”

“Both. Diablo’s been threatening our team in Sector Alpha and none of us are strong enough to defeat him. You said that you and the flock are strong enough to defeat Char so you might also help against Diablo.”

Volt smiled again, rather wickedly this time. “It will be my pleasure.”

This can’t be Beacon’s mother. She’s too…confident. She’s more like Katana than Beacon. I walked to Rose, who was trying to execute a Magical Leaf. “Just fling your arms in the direction you want it to go. And think of the beauty of the attack,” I suggested.

Rose closed her eyes and flung her arms to the left. Leaves shot out from her flowers, made a loop and went straight up in the sky. My jaw dropped. “How did you do that loop?” I asked Rose.

She blushed. “Well…” she started before her head snapped toward the horizon. It was a sight that was terrible to behold. A dozen fire type Pokemon were racing for us! Rose shook her head in disbelief. “I didn’t think that they’ll come this early!”

“Yeah, me neither!” I looked at the team. One by one they noticed the sight of the Pokemon and heard their battle cries. “It’s time to battle!”

Volt boldly walked to the head of the group and spread her arms wide. “Demons! You shall not threaten these Pokemon any longer! Mareep, to the front of the line!” The flock of Mareep, including Beacon, obediently made a line in front of Volt. “Release your Thunderbolt!”

I gasped. All of these Mareep know Thunderbolt?

Every one of the Mareep sparked furiously and released a barrage of lightning bolts that tore up the ground in front of the charging Pokemon, making them stop in their tracks. The Fire types glared at them, opened their mouths, and unleashed barrage of fire at the Mareep. “Light Screen!” Volt commanded. Once more the Mareep obeyed her, raising what looked like a pane of glass but was in fact a magical shield. The Mareep were still hit but the damage was cut in half.

“We aren’t going to just stand by and let these Mareep get run over!” Shonta cried. “Pokemon, go!”

“No, Shonta! You are our guests. We can handle this,” Rose told Shonta.

A Torchic walked up to the Mareep in the middle of the line – Beacon – with his eyes narrowed. “Master Char sent us for your body, Mareep. Your dead body.”

Beacon looked down at the Torchic with confusion. “And you think that you can kill me?”

“Why not? You look pretty weak to me.”

“Then you won’t mind proving it.”

“Very well!” He nodded to his comrades and watched them back away, forming a semicircle. Volt and the other Mareep, along with me and my teammates and Rose, formed another semicircle behind Beacon. “Let the battle to the death begin!”


L12 Female Mareep (Beacon) vs. L12 Male Torchic

I couldn’t help but laugh as Torchic attempted to stare Beacon down. Beacon wasn’t tough but at least she was bigger than him. She lowered her head and charged for Torchic but he jumped up onto her head and started to scratch on it with his talons, making her scream out. Whether it was from pain or whatever I didn’t know.

“Beacon, he’s on your head! Thunderbolt him!” Volt cried.

Torchic realized his mistake too late. Beacon shocked him as hard as she could before he could jump off. Torchic was flung off of her body and back onto the ground. He didn’t move.

“Is he dead?” Rose asked.

I took a step forward to check but stepped back when I saw his feet twitch. He jumped off and laughed at Beacon. “You cannot defeat me that easily! Not with my Endure attack!”

“But that only leaves you with a little bit of health. You’re hanging by a thread,” Beacon said.

“That’s right, Beacon! Now hit him with another Thunderbolt!” Volt told her.

Beacon unleashed another Thunderbolt but one Torchic quickly became six. It was Double Team, coming to his rescue. The clones around her, laughing. “Guess which one is the real one!” they crowed.

Beacon just smiled sweetly. “Don’t have to.” She pointed her nose in the air and sniffed. The clones disappeared, leaving the real one still running around her. “Would you like to give up now?”

“I never give up!” He opened his beak and shot a Flamethrower at Beacon. Beacon ran to avoid the attack but ended up with her tail singed. Her tail orb, however, still shone brightly. Torchic shot another Flamethrower before she could catch her breath. She only had enough time to raise a Light Screen. She was still standing afterwards but she did not look well.

“She’s going to lose,” Trinity said with despair.

“No, she’s not. Have faith in my daughter,” Volt said.

Beacon was standing on shaking legs, no longer looking confident. In fact, she looked like she was on the verge of tears. Volt never lost confidence in her. “You can still beat him, Beacon! Believe in yourself!” Volt yelled. The flock bleated in agreement.

Beacon grinned and charged for Torchic again. Torchic jumped in the air again but this time Beacon was prepared. She looked up and unleashed her Hidden Power Ice at him. Torchic missed his target and landed next to her, knocked out.


Beacon won! She grew to level 13!

Bandit’s POV

I couldn’t believe that that little Torchic thought he could face Beacon and actually kill her. What a wimp! Nonetheless, he was a good battler. I elbowed Katana and laughed. “Didn’t think the little lamb chop could win, did you? Well, ha and ha!”

“Actually, I thought that she would have a better chance winning against him than you did,” Katana said seriously. “So ha and ha.”

I glared at her and looked at the setting sun. Only now the sun looked like it had a sunspot. “Wait, that’s not a sunspot. It’s…everyone run!”

Everyone, including the Demons, looked at me and then at the unknown object. The Demons grinned at each other. “It’s Char!” they said happily.

“So Char’s a Charizard. Big surprise there,” Katana said sarcastically.

“Mareep! Retreat! That means you, Beacon!” Volt commanded.

The Mareep ran out of the way, towards a large barn. Char got closer, getting bigger and more recognizable. Soon he was above us, flapping his mighty wings and narrowing his eyes at us. “Where is the Mareep that is owned by you, human? Diablo said that you were getting to be a real thorn in his side. I want to devour her in front of your eyes.”

“Dude, that’s gross!” I exclaimed. “Have you tried being a vegan?”

“You’re not getting to my daughter, you foul beast,” Volt said. She dropped to all fours and pointed her tail orb at Char.

“So you wish to defy me? As you wish. I shall eat you first,” Char said.

I looked back at Volt and felt my eyes bug out. A massive amount of electricity was building up in her tail orb, making it glow brightly. I blinked to get the spots out of my eyes. “Is this…does she know…?”

“Yes. She’s about to use Zap Cannon,” Katana said with a smirk.

Char chuckled and opened his mouth, charging up an attack of his own. I was guessing that it was Hyper Beam. He released it at the same time Volt released her Zap Cannon. The two attacks collided and pushed against each other. Volt gave one big yell and made her attack break Char’s. Char was entirely engulfed in the attack. He tumbled to the ground.

Volt walked up to the Charizard and hopped on his chest. “Will you still be eating me? Or will you run away like a coward?”

Char roughly pushed her off of him and got to his feet. “We’ll settle this on another day. I’m not done with you yet.” He turned and left with his Demon crew.

Katana approached Volt and put a hand on her back. “We thank you for this. You’ve done a great thing,” Katana told her.

Volt smiled. “Yes. Now let’s take care of that Diablo fellow.”

“Are you sure? It’s not your problem.”

“Anyone that is threatening my daughter’s life will deal with me.”

Beacon ran to her and nuzzled her. “Mama, I’m stronger now. I don’t need your protection from you.”

“Very well. But Mr. Johnson will give you his number. If the Diablo problem gets too much out of control for you, give him a call and he’ll send me over there.”

“Thank you, my friend,” Katana said, smiling warmly for the first time.

Wait a minute! Katana never smiles like that! “I’m going to go get some glue and feathers,” I said.

“Why?” Lily asked.

“So I can grow wings and fly!”

Wolfsong
12th November 2005, 12:11 AM
That was a nice story Shonta. Take 10 stamps. Katana is an interesting character adn Beacon did a good job. As for your RBG, Moriko will be battlign a Makuhita

classy_cat18
16th November 2005, 07:38 PM
No, this isn't Moriko's RBG. I decided to write out this scenario before writing that. Sorry if the battles are blah.

Bandit’s POV

We spent another day at Beacon Village before returning to Sector Alpha. Since Katana didn’t tell Diablo how many days we would spend there, we figured that we would have time to relax and enjoy ourselves. We even brought Rose back with us so she wouldn’t have to worry about Char roasting her. We just had two problems. One was the Meditite that lost every battle she fought when she was in the adopted Pokemon tournament. Shonta thought that adopting her would boost her confidence and achieve her dream of becoming a Medicham. But she wouldn’t stop challenging us! She was constantly asking for trouble. The second problem was the e-g-g.

“No,” Katana said as she stared me down to the ground.

I spread my arms wide. “Why?”

“Because you’ll break it.”

“I won’t break it! Jewel was the one that almost broke it!” My hand inched closer to the egg that was sitting on the pillow but Katana’s expression grew scarier until she was snarling at me. “You’re so stingy!”

“I’m the only one in this team that is qualified to take care of this egg.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because…” Lily started but closed her mouth. She sounded so desperate to take Katana’s side. But why? Why would she let such a cutthroat take care of an innocent egg?

“There are many things about me that you don’t know,” Katana said to me in a low voice.

“Believe me; I don’t want to know those things.” I looked around at the other team members. Except for Lily, none of them had even started speaking up for either side. But I know that any second now that Nama would open that mouth of hers and say something.

And I was right. “We don’t know about Katana’s credentials but we do know that she’s been somewhat careful around the egg, unlike some Pokemon.” She smirked at Trinity with that lazy smile of hers.

“I said I was sorry! Anyway, she can have the egg for all I care! I don’t want anything to do with it!” she yelled.

<Then it’s agreed? Instead of Shonta taking care of the egg we want Katana?> Jewel asked. <We should vote. Whoever wants Katana to take care of the egg, raise their hand or paw or whatever. Since I have neither, I’ll just say yes.>

My jaw dropped in disbelief. “Why in the world would you let this maniac take care of our future teammate?” I asked her frantically.

“She is not a maniac!” Lily shouted suddenly, making me jump in surprise. “Katana has taken care of more children than you have!” She clapped her hands over her mouth after that comment as if she didn’t mean to say it.

That was it. The secret was out. “What do you mean by that, Lily?”

“Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” she said with her arms still over her mouth.

Katana sighed. “She means that I have had children before so I have experience with them,” she said softly.

I shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t believe this! “Please tell me that you mean that you’ve been a babysitter or something,” I said to Katana.

“No, you idiot. I’ve been a mother.”

I nearly fell over in surprise. No way! This assassin was once a mom? How did that happen? And what happened to her kids? “Prove it! Prove that you’ve been a mother!”

“She can’t,” Lily interrupted. “Her children are dead. They were killed by humans.”

“How do you know this?” I asked her.

She looked down at the floor. “She told me. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else but it just slipped out.”

Now I felt like a real ass. I should’ve known that Demons weren’t all blood and death. I was one of them. But Katana always seemed so into the Demon act. Was she a good mother? Did she do things like sing her kids to sleep or break up their fights? There was only one way to find out…

“Go ahead. Take care of the darn egg,” I told Katana. “I’m probably bad with kids anyway.”

One by one the other Pokemon raised their hands or paws. After Lily raised her arm she said, “We’ll be happy to help you whenever you need help.”

Katana nodded. “I’m sure that I’ll need help sooner or later. You can start by helping me find this egg a blanket. It’s getting a little cold in here.”

Athena walked out the room and returned with a baby blue blanket. “Shonta bought this especially for him.”

“Him, huh? For a minute there I thought that it was going to be a girl,” I said as Katana wrapped the blanket around the egg. “Now how about letting me hold the egg?”

“No,” Katana said sternly.

“Why?”

“Because you’ll break it.”

“Oh, let’s not go through this again!”

Shonta stuck her head through the doorway, looking excited. “Hey guys! Big training opportunity!”

Ali perked up. “Where? What is it?”

“The Dragon’s Guild set up this multilevel maze right here in Sector Alpha. It could be fun. But the thing is that I can’t bring all of you. Too much could be a crowd.”

“Good thing! I suggest that Trinity and Athena stay behind!” Ali said cheerfully.

“What?” Athena and Trinity said together.

“I’m sorry, but Pokemon that don’t have the passion to battle should leave it to those that do have it.” She crossed her arms and nodded.

“Who says I don’t have the passion to battle?” Trinity raged. “Look, Missy! I have more experience in my nine tails than you do in your entire body!”

“That’s not saying much,” Ali said, not backing down to Trinity. “Shonta told me herself that you’re just a little stronger than I am.”

“I’m strong enough to torch your pathetic butt!”

“Enough!” Athena cried out. She pushed Trinity away from Ali and looked her straight in the eye. “Let Ali go with Shonta. But you’ll go with them. Just because you probably won’t battle doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the maze.”

Trinity groaned loudly but nodded afterwards. “Okay. Just to shut her up I’ll let her go.”

“Okay, so Ali and Trinity are going. Bandit, I have a feeling that we’ll be needing you too. Katana and Beacon are also going. Finally we’ll need an experienced psychic so Jewel will be joining us.”

“I’m not going,” Katana said seriously. “I need to stay and take care of the egg.”

“We can take the egg with us. We just need extra padding in my backpack to make sure it doesn’t break.” She opened her backpack to show Katana that there were a couple of blankets in there.

Katana seemed to think it over for a minute before saying, "Alright." She carefully placed the egg in the backpack and followed the maze group out the front door. On the way to the maze she kept glancing at the backpack, twitching her ears every time she thought there was movement.

"What's the matter? Are you afraid your baby's in trouble?" I teased.

"Shut up. He's not my baby. I'm just looking out for him," she growled.

"Whatever."

We approached the maze, a three-story building with no windows. Shonta hesitated a bit before opening the door and entering. "Okay, since we have our choice of floors, I suggest we take the top floor. Anyone disagree?" she asked us.

"No," we answered.

We climbed the stairs to the top floor. Ali, being her easily excitable self, ran ahead of us. She did fine until right before we got to the fork in the path. She seemed to spring up in the air and stay there. I took a closer look and saw that she was caught in a net that was painted in the same color as the floor. "Um, a little help here?" she nervously asked us.

"Say that I'm the queen of the world and I'll let you out," Trinity told her.

"Hmph. I'd rather stay up here."

"I'll let her out," Katana offered. She jumped up and slashed the ropes, freeing Ali and making her tumble to the ground. Katana gracefully landed on her feet while Ali fell flat on her back. "I hope you've learned your lesson about being patient."

"Yes, I have." She returned to us and followed us to the left path.

We walked down another long corridor. Beacon stayed close to Shonta. "These traps...none of them are dangerous, right?" she asked Shonta.

"That's what the Guild said. But we should still stay on our toes. We'll never know what we'll run into next."

We approached a room covered in white and blue tiles. Shonta looked left and right and then stepped into the room. The doors waited until we were all inside before closing themselves. "I don't like the looks of this," Shonta muttered.

Some of the blue tiles slid up, revealing small cannons. "I really don't like the looks of this!" I shouted.

The cannons fired. But instead of cannonballs or anything else that could hurt us they shot Nerf balls. That didn't stop them from being annoying, though. They pummeled us as Jewel bounced over to a yellow tile at the center of the room and pressed down on it. <Everyone stand on a white tile,> she calmly told us. We did as she said and the cannons stepped firing and hid themselves in the walls. The doors slid opened again. <Now walk across the room and don't step on the blue tiles.>

We carefully walked across the room, remembering to only step on the white tiles. The cannons didn't open up again and the doors didn't close. When I we got out of the room I asked Jewel how did she know how to stop the cannons from shooting. <I noticed that as soon as Shonta stepped on a blue tile the doors closed. That was probably a warning. I kept myself from telling you anything until I could be sure that the blue tiles were causing things to happen in this room. I finally knew when Beacon stepped on another blue tile. That was when the cannons revealed themselves and started to fire.>

"And the yellow tile?" I asked her.

<It only showed itself when the cannons started to fire. I knew it also had an effect with the room but I didn't know what kind of an effect.>

"Good thinking, Jewel," Shonta complimented. "Now let's go find that exit." She walked down the corridor and took a right. We soon arrived at another room with tiles, only this time they were only on the walls. The tiles on the walls had pictures of Unown on them. There was a sign on the door at the other side of the room reading "This Way to Exit".

"Yahoo! Exit!" Ali said happily. She raced and got to the middle of the room before she was slowly lifted off the floor by an unknown force. "Hey! Don't come in here! There are Lunatone holding me off the ground!"

I curiously peeked in the room. Sure enough, there were a pair of Lunatone with their eyes glowing blue. I peered across the room and saw another pair just waiting for us to enter. "Well, I guess we go in. There's no other way to the exit anyway." I boldly stepped to the center of the room and felt myself being lifted off the floor by the Lunatone's Confusion.

An intercom lowered itself from the ceiling and spoke to us. "Attention, participants of the Maze. Answer this riddle correctly and you will be set free. 'I am at first small and red and totally weak but when I evolve I am quite the freak.'"

"What in the world is that supposed to mean!?!" I shouted in frustration.

"It's Magikarp," Ali said with a smile on her face. "At first it's small, red, and weak. But when it evolves it's known as the Atrocious Pokemon."

I scratched the back of my head. "I knew that. I was just giving you the chance to figure it out. So why aren't we standing on our own two feet now?"

"I think it has something to do with the Unown. Each one represents a certain letter of the alphabet, right? Let's punch in 'Magikarp' and see what happens." She swam to the other side of the room, kicked off the wall, and sailed toward the Unown M tile, giving it an Ice Punch. The tile sunk in and lit up. She repeated this process to the other tiles until the ones needed were lit up.

The intercom clicked on again. "That is correct. You may proceed to the exit," it told us. The Lunatone gently set us down on the floor.

I gave Ali a high five. "Alright! I didn't know you had such a brain!" I told her.

"This is kind of a weakness of mine but I like riddles," she said shyly.

"At least we know you can think with more than just your fists," Trinity said smugly.

Ali laughed lamely. "Come on. The exit awaits us!"

We ran down the last couple of corridors and soon came face to face with a girl dressed in all black. Black shirt, black jeans, black lipstick. At first I was going to make some crack about her going to a funeral but I stopped myself from saying it.

"Is that the exit behind you?" Shonta asked the girl.

"Yes, it is. But you're going to have to battle me before you get out. So whip out your Pokemon so I can whip you!" the girl said confidently.

"Are you ready, Ali?" Shonta asked the Meditite.

"I was born ready!" Ali told her.

The goth girl threw a pokeball in the air. "Go, Chikorita!"

The Chikorita materialized and pointed at Ali. "You're going down!" she said.


L7 Female Meditite (Ali) vs. L8 Female Chikorita

“I can take you out with one attack!” Ali boasted as she faced Chikorita. She ran for Chikorita and swung her icy fist at her but Chikorita jumped back and avoided the attack. She kept jumping back as Ali kept swinging at her. “Would you stand still and let me hit you?”

“I’m sorry that I won’t let you defeat me. How can I make it up to you? Oh, I know! Here!” She slammed her vines into Ali, sending her tumbling backwards. Then she tackled Ali while she was getting up.

“Ouch. Heh heh. That ought to teach her a lesson about underestimating others,” Trinity snickered. The others shushed her.

Chikorita ran for another Tackle but Ali sprang up and slammed into her. Chikorita flew back and crashed into her trainer. She must’ve been hit by Ali’s Bide. “Ugh,” she groaned as she got up and jumped off of her trainer. “Take this, Ali!” She extended her vines for Ali again, who thought that it would be a good idea to jump up and avoid the attack. She was wrong. It turned out that that was what Chikorita wanted her to do. Her vines swung up and wrapped themselves around Ali’s arms. Then she gave a loud grunt and slammed the vines – and Ali – on the floor.

“Get up, Ali! You can still do this!” Shonta cheered.

“Yeah! Get off of your butt and beat that Chikorita!” I yelled.

Ali slowly got up and looked back at us. “I guess you’re right. But how to hit her?” Then her face lit up. “I know!” She ran for Chikorita again. Chikorita crouched low, ready to jump up and over Ali. As soon as she did, however, Ali jumped up and kicked her. She once more crashed into her trainer.

“Yes!” Katana said quietly.

“Are you actually enjoying this?” I asked her. She just glanced at me and went back to watching the battle.

Chikorita was just now getting up. She glared at Ali. “I’m not defeated yet!” She swung her head leaf around, summoning leaves and throwing them at Ali. Ali went for Chikorita again, Ice Punching any leaves that came her way. She got to Ali and punched her with her icy fist. Chikorita stayed still as her body slowly froze.


Ali won! She grew to level 8!

The goth girl smiled as she returned Chikorita. “I haven’t had such a good battle in quite a while. Ready for your next opponent? This one will be tougher.”

“Beacon’s up to the challenge. Aren’t you, girl?” Shonta asked Beacon.

Beacon hesitated before nodding. “Let’s do it,” she said as bravely as she could.

“We’re ready,” Shonta told the goth girl.

The girl nodded and threw another pokeball. “Go Vulpix!” The fox-like Pokemon jumped out of her pokeball and blinked at Shonta and Beacon. “Let the second battle begin!”


L13 Female Mareep (Beacon) vs. L15 Female Vulpix

“Vulpix, Flamethrower!” the goth girl commanded. Flames promptly spewed out of Vulpix’s mouth.

“Beacon, dodge!” Shonta told Beacon. The Mareep scrambled to the other side of the room, dodging the attack. She then shot a Thunderbolt at Vulpix who nimbly jumped to the side of the attack.

“Vulpix, use Will O’ Wisp!” Vulpix obeyed her trainer and spread her tails wide. A blue flame appeared on the tip of each one. Vulpix flung her tails at Beacon and scorched her with those blue flames.

“Man, I wish I knew Will O’ Wisp!” Trinity huffed. “Come on Beacon, beat her!”

Beacon shot another Thunderbolt at Vulpix. Vulpix dodged again and shot a Flamethrower at Beacon. Beacon barely dodged the attack and shot a Hidden Power Ice as Vulpix was running to get a better shot at her. But Beacon wasn’t aiming for Vulpix; she was aiming for the floor. And Vulpix fell for it. Literally. She slipped and fell on the patch of ice that Beacon made for her. That gave the Mareep the chance to give her a quick Thunderbolt.

“Vulpix!” the goth girl cried out.

The poor Vulpix was barely standing. Beacon hesitated before charging for her, colliding into her and pinning her against the wall. The impact nearly knocked the Vulpix unconscious. Then Beacon seemed to hesitate again before giving her a close range Thunderbolt. That clenched it. Vulpix was out and Beacon had won.


Beacon won! She grew to level 15!

"That was short," Ali commented. "Where's the style, the fancy stuff?"

Beacon was standing still, giggling to herself. "Girls, I have this tingly feeling and it's tickling me."

"A tingly feeling? Beacon, are you going to...?" Shonta started to ask.

We stepped back as Beacon started to glow brightly. I turned away from the light and looked back at Beacon when she was finished evolving.


Beacon evolved into a Flaaffy!

"Eww! Put some clothes on! You look naked!" I teased.

Beacon blushed. "I feel naked," she said quietly. "And cold. Would somebody please turn off the AC?"

"Congrats, Beacon," Shonta said. "And don't pay attention to Bandit; you look fine." She hugged Beacon and looked up at the goth girl. "Good battles. I hope we can battle again someday."

"Same to you," the goth girl said cheerfully. She stepped out of the way. "You are free to go."

Shonta smiled and walked past her with us following her. As we went down the stairs and out of the back door I looked back at the maze. Why do I get the feeling that we're going to see it again?

Katana's POV

I held onto the egg tightly as I rocked back and forth in my pillow. I haven't felt this much at peace for a long time. While Shonta carried the egg in her backpack I felt like something was missing. Now that something was back. I would take care of this child like it was my own. I lost my own children but I wouldn't let anything happen to this little one. "Hush little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird..." I began to sing.

"So you do sing your kids to sleep," Bandit said from the darkness of the hallway. "But the kid's still not yours."

I snarled at him. "Mind your own business!" I said quietly so the others wouldn't wake up. "I know the kid's not mine!"

"Then why are you calling yourself Mama?"

"It's just a song!"

He walked to me. "Whatever. You still have a nice singing voice. Why didn't you tell us you could sing?"

"You didn't ask."

"Man, I'm going to teach this kid so much stuff when it hatches." He ran his hand over the egg. "How to belch, how to make prank phone calls..." He stopped talking and started rubbing one particular spot. "Katana, I feel something."

My ears perked. "What do you feel?"

"A crack. At least I think it’s a crack.”

I rubbed at the same spot that Bandit was rubbing. I felt the same thing. Then I started to hear the egg cracking. “Bandit, wake up everyone. The egg is hatching.”

AntiAsh Superstar
21st November 2005, 05:43 AM
Shonta, nice story, I think your characters are really developing well. Especially Katana, it's been interesting to see a different side to her than the one she entered your stories showing. And whatever gives you the idea that you'll see the maze again? Just coz this I think is prolly its fourth appearance in Ulthuan over the years... :D Anyways, take 16 stamps.

Lady Vulpix
25th November 2005, 04:09 AM
Shonta, I want you to know I've read your story and I liked it. Especially the way Katana's acting towards the egg. Now I'd like to see the baby. :D And congratulations on Beacon's evolution!

Now, I've finally finished my story which I've been writing for... how long? Over a month, certainly. So sorry if it's long, I was sort of mocking myself with the whole taking an extremely long path thing. You also get to take a peek at Ventura's mind in the end. Sorry if she jumps between thoughts too much, she may be even worse than me in that respect and that's saying a lot. Ok, here's the story.

<Gabi's POV>

I truly loved peace. I loved every aspect of it except for one: having to catch up with all the late work. It was the same old story; I had to spend most of my time going through huge piles of Guild and Dragon Tamers work, and to make things worse the DT staff was one valuable member shorter. Karin resigned shortly after the war was over; she was still a Dragon Tamer, and I was glad to know she wasn't going anywhere, but she couldn't cope with the burden of being a staff member, which increased the load for the rest of us whether she wanted it or not. Not that I could blame her. I'd much rather have spent my time training my team, seeing my friends, reading, writing or doing anything I wanted than have been stuck with a seemingly endless pile of paperwork. But I knew the work had to be done and, sadly enough, it wouldn't get done by itself. To state an example, there were pokemon who had been in the Adoption Center for about a month and we still didn't have all their data in our database, which meant they weren't ready to be adopted. I couldn't think of those poor homeless pokemon without feeling guilty for wanting to put my smaller needs over theirs. So, I kept working, watching as the rest of my team left the house every now and then while I couldn't, and being grateful that they were all so independent. If I had adopted a young and inexperienced pokemon at that moment, I wouldn't have been able to fulfill their needs.

It was after one of those excursions to the outside world that Hero came home with the news that a fourth maze had been built, and would be available for free for a limited time. A feeling of nostalgia overcame me as I thought of the 3 old mazes, especially the last one, where I had found the shining white stone that enhanced psychic abilities, which I was now using as a pendant. I refrained from commenting on that, though, as I wasn't ready for another rant from Hero about how mad he was at Solitude, the Vulpix who had left the stone in the maze for me to find it. In any case, I wanted to check out the new maze as much as Hero did, and most of my team shared our enthusiasm. Well... my whole team, actually. As hard as it was for all eleven of us to come to an agreement on the simplest things, we all needed a stress relief. Even Amber, who wasn't keen on friendly battles, looked forward to the exciting, non-lethal adventure the maze promised. Since the maze didn't welcome pokemon without their trainers (luckily for me - I didn't want to miss it either), we all agreed that we'd find a way to visit it before it closed its doors.

So, we all worked diligently in order to get things done as quickly as possible. Some were more diligent than others, I admit (Amber worked especially hard, helping with both the paperwork and some of the house chores), but everyone did something to help. The females ended up working mostly at home and the males outside, but that was a coincidence. The terrible trio offered to go to the Guild's HQ for me whenever there was something to do there that didn't require my physical presence. I was a bit afraid of the troubles they might cause (Hero's dare and the pillow fight came to my mind), but I decided to give them a chance. They were adult pokemon, even if they struggled to show the opposite (especially Caledor), and they could perform a serious task without messing it up if they truly wanted to. Caledor left me a bit worried after one of his visits to the office. He told me Glyph had talked to him and said his trainer had been found out by Lord Absol. Apparently, the current mysterious figure of the Dragon's Guild had let him be, but now we knew he was watching him, and few things could flare up a feeling of paranoia like being watched by Lord Absol could. That explained why I hadn't received any e-mails or phone calls from him lately. I'd been thinking of calling him, but I decided against it. I didn't want to be interrogated by Lord Absol like Eshree had. As if to escape from my gloomy thoughts, my mind gave me a comment I couldn't help but chuckle at: Lord Absol was really acting like a Man In Black!

I got another piece of bad news from the Guild that same day, in the form of an impersonal e-mail from Lady Ninetales. It said that the deadline for all Pokemon Facts reports had been set to Wednesday, December 21st. An exception would be made for those who celebrated the Winter Solstice, who would be allowed to hand it in the following day. Sure, it seemed like a long time from that moment, but I hadn't even got started with my Ponyta report and I knew it would be harder and more complex than any other report I'd handed in before. I was so rushed for time I was even considering making the mock title "Ponytas in high places" the official title of the report so that I wouldn't have to spend time thinking of a better name. And to make things worse, the deadline also added pressure to my other plan, the one I hadn't mentioned to anyone yet except for vague comments made to Ade at library meetings. It meant I'd have to think extra fast, and it also meant our long-awaited period of peace would be much shorter than I hoped. I thought about dropping my plan and enjoying peace for a few more moments, maybe even months. But would I really be able to enjoy myself knowing that some evil presence was profaning White Mountain and ruining the lives of those who sought answers and peace of mind? What if that thing suddenly decided to make a move and strike us after I had lost my only foreseeable chance to stop it? And it was White Mountain... White Mountain! Of all my reasons to go, that was the one that mattered the least, but White Mountain had always been a special place for me even since I'd first found it, and I felt any wrongs done to it as a personal attack, just like Lagi felt about the Dark Cave, worsened by the guilt I felt for having failed to protect the daughter whose future Pegasus had left in my hands, as well as Lagi's eldest daughter, from the evil that had taken over the sacred place. No, I had to do something, and I had to do it fast. But I wouldn't be able to achieve anything without a clear mind. I'd talk to my friends, we'd come up with a plan together. But first, I'd go to the maze. My heart hurt from so many negative thoughts and I needed a brief distraction,
for the sake of my health and even for the success of the still vaguely outlined plan.

I shared my thoughts with Ade and the Guild members under our charge during our next meeting. Fortunately for me, they were eager to help. It was a blessing to have a part of that huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Now all I needed was to request permission to go to the maze before anyone would ask me how my report was going. I had arranged a mental list of explanations about why I needed to go and how that would improve my performance at Guild-related tasks as well as the condition of the pokemon I trained. Never would I have imagined things would turn out the way they did: as soon as I stepped into Lady Ninetales's office, the first thing she asked was whether I was going to visit the maze. If life had been an anime, my jaw would have dropped. Luckily it wasn't, it would have felt quite awkward. I'd come up with a dozen excuses to do something and it turned out I was expected to do it! I found out that this time around the maze had been set up entirely by the Mercenary Trainers Union, which was not only a branch of the Dragon's Guild, but also one which had close ties with our own. Well, I wasn't going to reject that special chance I'd been given to do what I wanted and save myself an argument at the same time. "What do you know, sometimes things are simpler than I make them out to be," I thought, brushing away the question about whether those times were the majority or the minority.

<Caledor's POV>

When we finally made it to the maze, I felt like I'd been waiting an eternity to get there. It's not that I hadn't had fun during the previous days, I'd had some good moments, like when we got Bandit to join Calebeckamonamania (don't ask), or when we played a massive ball game, or when I snuggled up with Kiara, or when I heard about a certain excursion to the Tower of Hoeth which indirectly gave me another reason to celebrate... and going further back there was the banquet and the shooting competition between Hero and Tsunami, and there was all the games we play just for the sake of it (as if an excuse was ever needed to play a game), but I hadn't had a real challenge since the war and that was not exactly the kind of challenge I enjoyed the most. This one sounded promising.

From the outside, the place didn't look too different from the previous maze. That was good for me, the third one had been the best. I'd missed the first one and the second one had been boring and embarrassing (Tsunami had only just stopped reminding me how I'd accidentally zapped him back then). The entrance had no surprises, just the usual apathetic workerwriting down Gabi's codename and telling her to have a good time without even looking at the rest of us (we could have brought an outside pokemon to help us and he probably wouldn't have noticed he or she wasn't our teammate, but it would be more fun to find the exit on our own). As it was, we were a group of 10: everyone in the team except for Water Angel, who decided to stay at home because chances were she was going to miss everything anyway, and insisted that everyone else should go because we could all be needed and none of us deserved to miss the fun, and she didn't mind being on her own for a few hours, no, really, she would actually appreciate a few moments of silence. That was more or less the way she said it. We wouldn't buy it until Lagi said it was ok, but once she did there was no reason to keep arguing, though it left me wondering why it is that females want so much time for themselves.

As soon as we stepped into the maze, Gabi started technobabbling. She said something about backtracking and algorithms and whatever. The only thing I did get was that we should stay together this time because the maze was bigger than the previous ones and it would be hard to meet again if we split up. With that, and an additional "watch out for the traps", she started walking and the rest of us just followed. She seemed to know what she was doing, or at least she looked confident enough to fool us. Still, Tsunami seemed to have another idea.

"Do you remember Estel, the Shelgon from Templa Taure?," he asked.
"Yes, I remember him," Gabi said. "I wonder how he's doing."
"Yeah, me too, but that's not what I meant. He once said that whenever you're in a maze, you have to turn left whenever you can."
"That's a possible strategy," Gabi replied. "Following all the left walls normally does lead you to the exit in the long run. Note that following all the right walls does too. But backtracking is faster. In honor of Estel, though, we'll give left turns precedence over right turns. It's as good a choice as any. Let's do it like this: always take the left-most option that we haven't visited yet. When we reach a dead end, we go back to the most recent crossroads with unexplored paths."
"Why not use intuition better?," suggested Hero. "It's more fun that way."
"Sorry to say this, Hero, but didn't that strategy cause you some serious blood loss at the Blades' base?," Iael reminded him.
"That won't happen here," the Ninetales replied. "It's a controlled environment, you know. It's supposed to be fun. Why ruin the fun with boring strategies disguised as scientific stuff? Any idiot knows that if you explore all the options you'll find an exit eventually, but where's the fun in taking away the choices?"
"It helps us keep track of the paths we've already taken. But if you want to do it your way and keep track of all your choices yourself, you're welcome to try."
"No, no, no, Gabi, you're doing it wrong," Tsunami began. "Never tell Hero to do things his way. Not unless it's a battle. He's good at fighting, but he messes up pretty much everything else."
"When was the last time you looked at a mirror?," Hero retorted.
"Hmm... this morning. The one in the bathroom. I cleaned it too, there was some dust on it."
"Ok, this conversation is getting nowhere fast, let's just get moving and decide what to do along the way," Gabi suggested.
"And while you're at it, don't step on the tile that releases the cage that's hanging from the ceiling," Ventura said in a casual tone.

We all looked up. There was indeed a cage above us.
"If that's the quality of the traps in this maze I'm seriously disappointed," Hero commented.
"It's probably just a warm-up," Gabi said. "They must get more complex as we advance."
"Well, I for one am glad it didn't fall on me. I hate cages," Pidgeot stated.
"We all know you do," Tsunami told him. "You've only said it like a million times. And you also hate poison and Team Rocket. See? Your hate-list is famous, now you can stop repeating it."
Pidgeot looked like he was trying to come up with an answer, but he wasn't nearly as good at comebacks as Tsunami was, so he snorted and gave up.
"What's the tile?," Amber asked Vetura.
The Venomoth indicated the location of the booby-trapped tile in her usual way: with a psychic pulse. Some of us thanked her and some others avoided the tile in silence. Gabi took her hands to her head but didn't say anything.

We reached a narrow corridor (you can move a space in that phrase and it will still be right). This time it was Gabi who stopped us.
"Watch out for the thread," she said.
"What thread?," I asked her. I couldn't see anything other than the floor, the ceiling and the walls, which had some interesting Egyptian-like paintings on them.
"The one that goes from wall to wall about 20 centimeters above the floor," Pidgeot answered.
I looked carefully, focusing as much as I could on finding something in the location Pidgeot had described. After a few seconds, I noticed the faint glow of something as thin and hard to notice as a spider's web.
"Why do the two of you have such a good eyesight?," I protested.
"Hmm... because we're all different and have abilities that complement each other's? Someone who can use such a wide array of electric, fire, water, psychic and dark attacks shouldn't be complaining about someone else having good eyesight."
"Ah, right. And don't forget the glow!," I reminded her. "I can glow in the dark. Isn't that a cool power? If we get lost in the Arctic and a rescue mission comes for us I can use my glow to help them find us."
"Trust Caledor to come up with one of the scenarios that are least likely to happen," Hero laughed. "You'll be more useful next time we have a blackout."
"Double so because I can serve as a temporary source of electricity," I grinned. "But shouldn't we complain to the Guild about the electrical problems? Others don't get low tension and blackouts as often as we do."
"Already have," Gabi replied. "They filed my request under the non-critical category. They make take a look at it in 20 years or so. Even in the accommodation department they have more important things to do than fix a small electrical problem. Remember Jeff and his team?"
"Oh, right! How can they be so slow? I'd compare them to Slakoths, but they'd lose in the comparison, especially with Nama around. Maybe Slowpokes? But no, even a Slowpoke would have found a house by now."
"Remember we've just been through a war, they've put most of their recent efforts in rebuilding the city," Gabi said.
"Ok, they may have an excuse, but why are we so slow?," Hero questioned us. "We talk too much and move too little. I feel tempted to activate a trap on purpose so that we can at least get some action. So what if a little cage falls on me?, I can always teleport out of it."
"Go ahead," Gabi shrugged. "It's all supposed to be harmless after all."

Anyone who knew Hero well enough would have known he wouldn't step back at that moment. I bet he took Gabi's words as a challenge, and he'd never back off from a challenge. So he just went and stepped on the web-like thread. At that moment, dozens of holes opened in the painted walls (one where each hieroglyph used to be), and a shower of suction-cupped arrows rained on Hero. I have to grant it to him, he managed to dodge quite a lot of them, but they were just too many and by the time he reached the end of the corridor he had 5 arrows stuck on him: 2 on his right flank, one on his left, one on his sacrum and one on his muzzle, close to his nose. He looked really funny. He kneeled down with his head against the floor and pressed the arrow with his right paw, pulling back with his head until it came out with a resounding pop. From the way Hero pressed his eyelids against each other I could guess it had hurt. He then stood up and pulled the remaining arrows away with his teeth.
"Okay, that was some action," he finally conceded.
The rest of us avoided the thread as we crossed, in case there were more arrows stored behind the walls. I don't know if the incident had anything to do with the unspoken decision, but we all started taking all the left turns after that.

We reached a few dead ends and after going back a few times we ended up taking a right turn and reaching a log maze. For those not in the know, a log maze is a maze in which all the walls are made of logs. Not too original, right? We all thought this one would be a boring test of patience, and started following Gabi blindly, hoping to reach the exit and find something more interesting ahead. We started to get really annoyed when we reached the starting point, having exhausted all the possibilities.
"I think your backtracking is flawed," Hero told Gabi.
"No, it isn't," Gabi defended her strategy. "We must have accidentally skipped a path."
"I was keeping track too," said Amber. "We took all the possible turns. At least all the visible ones."
"That's right, we took only the visible turns!," Gabi realized. "There must be some hidden ones. We'll have to touch the logs and see if we find anything."
"As long as they're not booby-trapped," Sylvan noted. "Ventura, will you please warn us before we activate another trap?"
"I was wondering when someone would turn to me for help. Yes, I will, don't worry," the Venomoth replied. "The traps in the log maze are silly anyway. Some logs on opposite walls are connected to each other. My guess is if you puss one the other will come down and hit you. Of course you'd have to push it really hard for the blow to cause you more than a lump or a bruise, and someone with such strength isn't bound to suffer too much from the blow anyway."
"Have you guys noticed how Ventura can make solving mazes a lot less fun?," I pointed out.
"That's why I didn't speak earlier," Ventura revealed. "I didn't want to ruin your game. A radar sense can be useful for many things, but it makes mazes quite dull. I'll just be there to answer your questions when you ask them."

We all agreed and started searching for anything we might have missed the first time. Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long. The right side wall by the entrance turned out to be moveable. Amber pushed it and revealed a hidden section. It had the size of a cubicle, but it was big enough for its purpose, which was hosting...
"The long-awaited, highly acclaimed lever of ultimate power!!"
"How do you await a lever?," Gabi questioned me.
"It's Caledor we're talking about, don't try to find logic in his words," Tsunami said.
"Oh, but look at this!," I insisted. "It's all long, and metallic, and round-ended, and amazingly levery."
"Keep at it and our brains are going to shut down," Hero threatened.
"Hey, we need to put some fun into this game, don't we?" I said. "What do you think this lever does?"
"I guess we'll figure out if we pull it," Gabi stated before turning to Ventura. "Is it safe?"
"I don't know, actually. It's connected to several parts of the maze, but I don't know enough about electronics to know what it does."
"If it's connected to other parts of the maze, it may not affect us directly if we pull it," Amber reflected.
"I guess it's worth a shot," Gabi decided, pulling the lever.
At that moment, a rambling noise resounded all over the log maze.
"Neat," Ventura approved.
"Did that just do what I think it did?," Gabi asked her.
"That depends. What do you think it did?"
"Change the configuration of the maze."
"Nice deduction. Yes, that's what happened. How did you know?"
"Years of playing puzzle games haven't gone to waste," Gabi answered. "Now I guess we'll have to go through the maze again and see what it's like this time around. And also see if we find any more levers. This complicates the algorithm a little. I'll have to recalculate some things."
"No, not the dreaded algorithm of endless boredom!," I pleaded.
"Do you have any better ideas?"
"Yes. Ask Ventura for a map."
"Incoming!," Ventura warned her. Not that the warning served any purpose; Gabi looked as mad a second later as she would have if Ventura hadn't spoken.
"You really do have a sadistic streak in you, don't you?," she scolded Ventura.
"Why? What's wrong?"
"Was there any purpose to that other than to cause me a headache?"
"I was giving you a map of the log maze."
"Well, it didn't work, and don't do it again. It was too much input sent at once and I can't keep it all in my mind long enough to draw a map. Not even long enough to take a pen and a bus ticket out of my pack."
"Don't tell me you meant to draw a map on a bus ticket," Tsunami laughed.
"Well, it's the only kind of writable paper I carry, and it's quite practical if you have a small handwriting," Gabi defended herself. "I doubt I'll be able to draw a map out of psychic pulses, though. Ventura, why don't you guide us?"
"What about your algorithm?," Ventura queried.
"I trust you to find your way through a maze. You may use the algorithm or discard it, that's up to you. I was only leading the way because no one else seemed to have a better idea."
"But if I lead because you ask me to, doesn't that mean you're still leading?"
"You're impossible," Gabi laughed. "After all these years... haven't you realized that I don't care who's on the lead, nor if anyone is at all, as long as things get done the way they should?"
"And with that policy you have ended as one of the leaders of the Dragon Tamers and running your own little branch of the Dragon's Guild."
"You'd be amazed at how many things I end up doing just because they need to be done and no one else will see to them."
"I've noticed. You'll have to learn to delegate sooner or later."
"Lagi tells me that everyday. I'm trying to learn, really."
Lagi nodded.
"Ok, then. Leave this task to me," Ventura accepted. "I think I've found the next lever. Follow me."

We ended up pulling about 5 levers, getting past a rather deep hole on the floor and even finding an empty pokeball along the way. We concluded that someone must have dropped it and agreed to give it to the staff when we left, but before we came to that conclusion I speculated about it being a magical pokeball left there by a mysterious creature who wanted us to increase our abilities for our upcoming quest, which cost me a rather nasty Quick-Attack on my ribs. I guessed someone was still touchy about the subject of a certain precognitive Vulpix. Things were changing around us, but we still had no idea of where that would all lead us. That was until the now familiar rambling noise came from above us. Tired of wandering, we quickly made for the spot where a square space had opened on the ceiling, and flew right through it with the help of Pidgeot, Lagi and Amber. Sylvan made the trip to the second floor inside her pokeball, since she was too heavy to be carried by any of them. And Ventura just flew up on her own.

<Amber's POV>

The view we encountered when we flew up the hole was quite interesting. It was a rather dark space, with dark blue curtains serving as walls, and a ceiling that resembled a starry evening sky. I could have stayed there and watched the sparkling galaxies circle around for a while (yes, the images on the ceiling were moving in circles) but the monotonous synthesized music could get annoying quite fast. Since we were surrounded by curtains rather than walls, we decided to push one of them and see where it took us. We ended up in a similar room... too similar for my comfort. The only differences were that there was no hole on the floor, and that here the movement of the stars described an arc rather than a full circle; but that had to be because this room and the previous one shared the same ceiling, and the first one was in the center of what we began to call the curtain maze. One may wonder what the deal is with a curtain maze. You can easily push all the curtains until you get to the other side... or so we thought. The first few paths we tried led us to solid walls, and we soon concluded that finding the exit wouldn't be as easy as it had seemed. To make things worse, it was hard to keep track of what rooms we had visited, since they all looked the same, except for the one with the hole in it, and the stars above us kept moving from one room to another. We could get an idea of how far we were from the center by the width of the arcs they described, but that only gave us a vague measure of radius and not an exact location. And to complicate things further, some other rooms had holes on the floor as well, which seemed to open and close randomly. We had to watch our steps carefully. And after a few minutes of wandering the background music became clearly irritating.

"Why don't we go down one of those holes?," suggested Hero. "No one did say we had to stay away from the ground floor. If it closes before we all get through, we can wait until it opens again."
"Hmm..." Ventura evaluated the situation, "no."
"Why not?," Hero wanted to know.
"Because we may not be in the same place once the hole opens again. If we did what you suggest we'd end up scattered in different parts of the ground floor."
"How come? Is the whole maze spinning or something?"
"Exactly."
Hero looked shocked at his own deduction. "Oh."
"So it's not the ceiling that's moving," I deduced. "It's us. It's impressive, though... how they can make such a large room spin without making a noise and without any rambling beneath our feet."
"Yes, it moves amazingly smoothly," Gabi agreed. "Though I wouldn't be so sure about the noise. Maybe the music is covering it."
"And I thought it was just there to annoy us!," Tsunami commented.
"How will we get out of here," asked Sylvan.
"Don't look at me, I'm starting to get dizzy," Ventura said. "I'm afraid this spinning maze within a maze overloads my senses."
"I think I will draw a map after all," Gabi decided. "Light, please?"
"Sure!," Caledor ran to Gabi's side, enveloped in a golden glow. I could have used my tail as a light source, but Caledor enjoyed it so much I wouldn't have dreamt of taking that pleasure away from him.

Gabi somehow managed to chart all the rooms we went through on a bus ticket as we moved around (when questioned she would only say it was a big bus ticket), and believe it or not, it helped. It made keeping track of visited rooms much easier, and helped us remember when the solid walls were. That way we could begin to ignore the curtains and treat this maze like a normal one. After a while, we reached a room where we'd certainly never been before. We knew it because the floor had (approximately) a 30 degree inclination. We didn't think much of it, and took it as a landmark, but soon we found more rooms with ascending, descending or sideways slopes and, while that made charting easier, it made moving harder and confused our sense of perspective (one more cause of dizziness, if there weren't enough yet).

After going up and down and to either side for a while, we ended up finding another solid wall, only this one felt different: when we touched it, it felt like it was moving. Which, we deduced, meant that it wasn't (relativity aside). We stood there and waited until we reached an opening, and then pushed the curtain to get to the other side. We all celebrated being out of the curtain maze!

It took me a while to get used to the light again, but when I did, I found the new sight beautiful! It was like a miniatureversion of the jungle room, with different kinds of trees and bushes all over the place, a grassy carpet covering the floor, and a small pond in the center of the room.
"Now this is a part of the maze I do like!," Sylvan exclaimed.
"So do I," I told her. "Then again, we have similar tastes for landscapes, don't we?"
"Yes, we have too much in common... I mean... we have much in common."
"Too much?," Sylvan's words left me puzzled. "Do you mind having so much in common with me?"
"Me? No, not at all!," Sylvan assured. "Quite the opposite, really. I mean... I don't know what I mean, just ignore me. I guess the curtain maze has made me dizzy. I'll stop talking now."
"You don't have to," I told her.
I couldn't help but worry about her. It might be nothing, but she often started saying things and then didn't want to keep talking about them. It made me feel something might be wrong with her, but whenever I asked she assured me that everything was alright. Lagi had told me not to insist in those cases, so I didn't push the issue any further. "Maybe I am worrying too much," I thought. "Sylvan and I have been close friends for years. She'd trust me and let me help if she had a problem. We always help each other. I must be overanalyzing things."

"Am I the only one who's thirsty?," Caledor quickly changed the subject.
"No, but you're the only one who might think of drinking water from a maze filled with traps, if that's indeed what you're thinking," Tsunami told him.
"Oh, come on! It can't be toxic. They don't want to hurt us, remember?"
"Not seriously, and not permanently, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was something nasty in the water," Tsunami reasoned. "It could stun you, give you a stomachache, leave you with a long-lasting bad taste in your mouth..."
"Okay, okay, I got it," Caledor sighed. "Why does someone always have to ruin the fun with logic?"
"Because lack of logic can ruin it a lot more painfully," the Vaporeon replied.
"Remember this so you can stop accusing me of having the trademark on stupid ideas," Hero remarked.
"I never said you had it," Tsunami stated. "You do have the trademark on getting in trouble by mindlessly dashing forward at the worst possible places, though."
"Well, at least I have A trademark, seeing as I can't claim the trademark on Quick-Attack because some dumb pokemon league registered it first, and even if they hadn't Katnip would want to dispute it forever anyway. By the way, are there any traps we should watch out for, or can we finally get moving?"
"I'm scanning the area," Ventura replied. "Hm... neat. They've brought one of those the paralyzing bushes. That brings back some sweet memories."
"It brings back some nasty memories as well," Sylvan groaned.
"But I thought the bush you fought was a different one," Ventura said.
"It was in the Jungle Room as well. It's not hard to make a connection."
"Everything will be ok as long as you and Sylvan don't touch the bush, right?," Hero wanted to confirm.
"Well, there are some traps near the trees too, but nothing too elaborate. I think you'll be able to notice them," Ventura answered.
"Not elaborate? Like what, holes on the floor covered with leaves and branches?," Caledor guessed.
"Not exactly. More like..." Ventura began, but was interrupted by a swooshing sound.
Caledor had stepped on a rope as he spoke, and when we turned to look we saw him hanging from a tree, with the rope tied around one of his front legs.
"More like that," Ventura finished.
"Ah, I get it," Caledor said, casually. "Pidgeot, will you come here, please?"
"Sure. What do you want?"
"Just one more step... no, two. There. Hold on a moment."
He used an Ember to burn the rope that held him, and fell right on Pidgeot's back.
"Thanks, friend," he said. "It's great to have someone so fluffy in the team."
"I'd say you're welcome if I didn't feel I'm being treated like a pillow."
"Oh, come on, it's all in good fun. But if you were a pillow, you'd be the best."
"Let's get out of here, shall we?," Hero insisted. "I don't want to spend all day in this maze."
"Come to think of it, it is taking us a bit too long to get to the other side," Tsunami noted. "We must have missed some of the shorter paths. How many areas do you think we have left?"
"At least one more, but we have a clearer choice this time," Gabi answered.
"Huh?"
"I'm referring to the signs on top of the doors. Water, mirrors and... boulders. We can choose."
"Ok, I'm not going to ask how you read that from this distance," Hero told her. "Just note that I'm not going for the water option. Mirrors I can handle. Boulders... I've faced them in battle more than once. But I'm not planning to get soaked for no reason today, and I doubt they keep the water warm enough to be comfortable. Not to mention Amber would probably have trouble keeping her tail flame safe."
"Okay, point taken!," Gabi stopped him. "If you don't mind, I think we should go for the boulders option. The mirrors may get as confusing as the curtains were."
"Not unless they're spinning, but I guess some old-fashioned boulders might be more useful as a stress relief," opined Ventura.

So we opted for the boulder door. Should it be any surprise that we found our way blocked by a massive boulder as soon as we walked through it? It was so large and heavy that I couldn't lift it, and I had to resort to pushing it. When I reached a crossroads and was finally able to stop pushing, I sighed and turned around to face my team.

"That was much heavier than the rocks in the first maze," I told them. "Next time I would appreciate some help."
"I think you and Sindel may have spent too much time together at the Guild's kitchen," Tsunami replied. "If you need help, just ask. Don't jump at the task and then complain that no one else is helping you."
"I'm not complaining, I'm just asking for help now because it turned out to be harder than I expected. I was used to the boulders from the first maze which I could push around easily. Besides, I'm the one who always ends up doing everything that requires brute force."
"And everything that requires deep logical analysis as well," Sylvan remarked. "You shouldn't be complaining, you know. You're both smart and physically strong, not many get both skills."
"And let's not forget your ability to speak from inside a pokeball!," Caledor added. "You'll have to teach me how to do that someday."
"How to do it? I don't know... I just felt like saying something and made a little pressure... mentally, anyway. I don't know how I did it, I guess it was intuition."
"Smart, strong and intuitive," Hero listed. "Any more qualities to add to the list? We can make this Flatter Amber Day."
"Well, she's also sweet and caring," Sylvan added immediately.
"Guys, stop it! You're making me blush!"
"A blushing Charizard! You don't see that everyday!," Hero laughed. "Let's see... you're also creative, and you can fly, that's always a plus... and... let's see..."
"Ok, really, that's enough. I don't know why you're doing this but it's not comfortable to be flattered like that for no reason."
"I was doing it for fun. I don't know about the others," Hero said.
"Ok, let's play a different game. How about finding the way out of the maze?"
"I was getting bored of that game. We've been playing it for hours," Hero protested.
"True, but now we have boulders!," Caledor commented randomly with a grin. "And they're big and round and..."
"If you say 'bouldery', I'll bite you," Tsunami threatened him.
"Ok, I won't say it," Caledor conceded. "But they are."

They stopped bugging me after that. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind compliments, but they were making them for no reason and making a game out of it, it wasn't exactly nice. After many boulders were pushed and many more video game references were made, we reached what looked like an open space. We looked at each other and began to walk, and then to run as the floor suddenly started crumbling at our feet and the ceiling was too close for anyone but Ventura to fly. As we were running, nobody noticed when we activated one of the traps, until we heard the loud ramble of a large rock rolling after us. Then we had to run faster in search for any possible openings that would let us avoid the rock, until Hero had an idea. He dashed forward as was his tradition, but this time with a purpose. I lost sight of him after the first turn (which had an inconvenient enough downward slope that allowed the rock to keep following us after we took it), and when I saw him again he had his paws busy digging a hole on the soft floor. He looked up and jumped back when he heard us coming, and called for us to go where he was. We did, and looked back as the rock reached Hero's hole. I wasn't sure if that would be enough to stop it, and apparently neither was Hero, as he started digging a new hole just in case, but the first one did the trick and the rock stopped chasing us.

"Phew!," Hero sighed. "Now that was brilliant planning!"
"We might be inclined to think that if you hadn't say it yourself," Tsunami replied.
"Wow, I felt like Indiana Jones," Caledor laughed. "With a couple of extra legs. They're useful for running."
"Have you seen the Indiana Jones movies or just some of the million imitations?," Tsunami asked.
"I saw them on TV a few months ago. What about you?"
"I saw a part of one of them years ago, when I sneaked into the old farmhouse. But I got caught before the end, so I couldn't finish watching it."
"Oh. Well, I'm sure they'll show them again soon. They may even have them at the Eevee House."

"How long have we been here?," I asked Gabi.
"I didn't look at the time when we got in, but it must have been at least 2 hours. We spent a lot of time in the log and curtain mazes."
"Who votes for getting out of here?," Hero proposed.
"I think we all do," Tsunami said.
"It's funny how you're always speaking for everyone," Hero told him.
"Well, someone has to say what everyone thinks, and no one else is willing to. Now, if we take this turn... bridge!"

Tsunami was walking ahead at that moment, and when the rest of us caught up we saw what he was referring to: a metallic bridge, lain in the center of a path otherwise filled with sharp spikes. On the other side was a small platform, and a metallic door.

"Ok, what's the catch?," Hero asked. "This looks way too easy."
"Hmm..." Ventura scanned the area. "Most of the floor between us and the bridge is a giant switch. The bridge has thick wires and mechanisms connected to it on both ends and it's split in the middle."
"So if we step on the floor before getting on the bridge, it will move?," Hero guessed.
"It would seem so," Ventura said.
"That's easy, then. All we have to do is get right on the bridge. It won't be hard to reach it from here, even without teleporting."

He took some distance and started running. When he reached us, he leapt forward and landed right on the bridge. Against his predictions, however, the bridge started bending upwards, making him lose balance and fall on the switch. Then, the bridge went back to its original position.
"That was funny," Tsunami laughed.
"Nifty trick; it managed to fool even Ventura's senses," Hero said.
"I told you everything I perceived," Ventura said. "You drew your own conclusions."
"True, but you said I was right."
"I only said it would seem so. I never said I was certain."
"Ok, so if we step on the bridge, it splits and sends us back here," Tsunami deduced.
"Unless we step on the switch," I added. "I'll step on it and let you all get through, then I can fly to the other side."
"It does sound more fun than teleporting," Hero accepted.

I stepped on the switch and Hero ran to the other side with ease, but when the next bunch stepped on the bridge together, it threw them down on top of me.
"Ouch. I guess there's more to it than we thought," I concluded.
"It may be a matter of weight," Gabi reasoned. "Maybe there has to be more weight on the switch than on the bridge."
"In that case I'll stand on the switch with Amber, and you can go one by one. That way we'll all get through."

That plan worked for the most part. Lagi and I had to step aside when it was Sylvan's turn to pass because there wasn't room for the 3 of us on the switch, and then stood behind her when she placed her forelegs on the bridge. Ventura and Pidgeot flew over to the other side and everyone else walked along the bridge without problems. When only Lagi and I were left, we flew as well. Then it was time to deal with the metallic door.

"How do we open it?," Gabi wondered.
"There must be a pad somewhere," Tsunami suggested.
"Or a lever!," Caledor grinned.
"A lever would be too easy," Tsunami contradicted it. "I bet there's a number pad and Gabi will have to figure out the right combination."
"Why me?," Gabi asked.
"Among all of us, you're the one who best fits the profile of a hacker," he replied.
"Well, I'm not a hacker. I've never been interested in learning how to hack a system."
"What about the Singlehorn Project files on Team Rocket's computer?," Tsunami reminded her.
"They were very badly protected," Gabi replied. "It was as if they wanted us to find them. And judging by Gia's attitude when she met us at the lab, they probably did."
"Speaking of Gia, do you think she's still alive?," asked Pidgeot.
"We haven't heard of any Team Rocket members since the war," Lagi said. "But they must be gathering forces and trying to recover from the blow. I wouldn't put my hopes up about not seeing them again, sorry."
"There was something scary about that woman," Gabi confessed.
"She liked to pretend she had everything under control," Lagi said. "But she was really scared. It took me a while to perceive it, she masked it well. But there was a deep-rooted fear in her."
"All the better for us," Pidgeot said. "I hope she chokes in it. Now, where's the pad?"
"I don't sense any pads," Ventura said. "But doesn't anyone find that set of tiles intriguing?"

We all looked in the direction she was looking. There were many small tiles on the floor, but they were mostly plain or with mesh patterns. These ones had different shapes drawn on them: circles, squares, waves, triangles, dots and several combinations of the former. We walked towards them, and some of us kneeled down to get a closer look at them.

"Does any of them have wires below it?," I asked.
"All of them do," answered Ventura.
"Then what are we supposed to do?," asked Sylvan.
"Maybe find the odd one out?," Gabi suggested.
"They all look similar," Tsunami said. "There's a dot, a circle with a dot, a triangle with a dot, a triangle with a circle, a square with a triangle, a square with a circle, a square with waves on it..."
"We can all see them," Gabi told him. "Let me concentrate, please."
We all looked at the tiles carefully. There were 32 of them, each with one or more of the five original shapes. I couldn't find any two alike.
"It may be the one with two sets of waves," Gabi concluded after thinking for a while. "It's the only one that has the same shape twice."
"Alright," then touch it.
Gabi made a slow motion towards the tile and touched it with her hand. She quickly took it off with an "Ow!", and shook it fast.
"What happened?," asked Tsunami.
"I got a discharge of electricity."
"Oh. Sorry for telling you to touch it. Next time Caledor will try."
"Why me?," asked Caledor.
"You zapped me more than once. If you make a mistake, you can't complain about getting it back."
"I didn't do it on purpose!," Caledor complained.
"I'll do it," Sylvan offered. "I'll touch the tiles with my vines, they should block some of the electricity. Just tell me which vines to touch."
"I'm starting to think this is not about finding the odd one out," Gabi said.
"I can't find any repeated ones either," I told her. "Maybe it's a sequence? Some have just a shape, others have 2 and some others have 3 or 4... Maybe we have totouch them in the right order."
"That could work," Gabi agreed. "Oh, but look, this one has all 5 shapes. I think it's the only one that has them all. And how can we know which shape precedes the other?"
"Maybe by looking at which ones go inside and which ones go outside?," Ventura suggested. "The dot is always inside other shapes, and the circle's inside everything but the dot."
"And the waves are always on top," Tsunami noted. "Which means I'm on top of everything."
"Do I want to know how you came to that conclusion?," Hero questioned.
"Easy. I'm the king of waves. If waves are on top of everything else and I'm on top of them..."
"I was afraid it would be something dumb like that," Hero said.
"What's with the wave on top of the other wave? It still makes no sense," Gabi said.
"Why don't we leave that one for later and start with the easier ones?," I suggested. "I think the dot should be first."
"I'll trust you," Sylvan said, touching the dot tile with the tip of her vine.
Everyone looked at her. Nothing happened... to her, at least. The tile she touched sank down a few millimeters and stayed there.
"Great, we've found the first one!," Caledor cheered.
"We?," Tsunami shifted his eyes at him.
"We're a team, aren't we?"
"Then the circle must be next," Gabi suggested. Once more, the choice was right.
"What's next? The triangle?," I wondered. "Or maybe the circle with the dot inside?"
"That depends..." Gabi said. "Do all the single shapes go first? That would be like a numbering system, with each shape being a digit?"
"You lost me there," Tsunami told her.
"That would make sense," Ventura realized. "If the dot is zero and the circle is one, then the trianglewould be 2, the square would be 3 and the waves would be 4."
"Right! It's a base 5 numbering system!," beamed Gabi.
Sylvan tried to follow and touched the triangle, but then the 2 tiles that were pressed popped back up, and she got zapped.
"Don't worry, it was just a tickle," she assured.
"Hmm, something must be wrong in our reasoning," Gabi concluded. "Let's press the dot and the circle again."
She did so, and they sank again.
"Maybe it's not a numbering system after all," I said. "If they were numbers, wouldn't we have more tiles with two identical shapes? We have one with 2 waves, but none with 2 dots, circles, triangles or squares."
"That's right, I should have noticed that," Gabi scolded herself. "Then it's another kind of logical sequence."
"It could be cumulative. Why don't we try the circle with the dot in it?," I suggested.
I must admit I was surprised when I saw my choice had worked. Gabi caught the idea immediately.
"The triangle has to be next," she said. "There are triangles with circles inside, and squares with triangles inside. The sequence is dot, circle, triangle, square, wave, but each shape only comes into play when all the previous ones have been used."
Sylvan hit the triangle, and it sank, seemingly confirming the new theory.
"What's next, then?," she asked.
"Triangle and dot," I told her.
We went on like that. Triangle and circle, triangle with a circle and a dot, square, square with a dot, square with a circle, square with a circle and a dot, square with a triangle, and so on until we got all 4 shapes each one inside the others. Then it seemed logical to push the single set of waves, and repeat the previous sequence with all the tiles with waves on them. Then even the pair of waves turned out to be a logical conclusion: it was like the other wave tile, with a wave on top. Once Sylvan touched it, the metallic door opened.

"Yay!," cheered Caledor. "Let's cross the door and see what's on the other side."
"Hey, don't dash forward! That's my copyright!," Hero warned him.
We were all happy to cross the door, and even happier to see a human waiting on the other side. He had straight, brown hair and was all dressed in dark green, with a vest that looked like it was made of snake skin.
"Welcome to the exit!," he greeted us."I'm Aaron, and I'll be your host today. Or, rather, your challenger."
"Nice to meet you," Gabi said. "I'm Gabi."
"Oh, I know who you are, Lady Vulpix," Aaron said. "I spend most of the time away from the spotlight, but I've been with the MTU since before it became an official union."
"Oh. Then you must been here for the best and worst part of Caledor's history. It's hard to find trainers who have been here for so long."
"I guess all those wars must have scared most of your people away as it did ours," he reflected. "I thought of leaving more than once, but I wouldn't have known where to go. My whole life is here."
"Yes, I've often thought of leaving myself, but I couldn't turn my back on those who needed me, and I didn't want to leave my friends behind, even if some of them ended up leaving me. But there are always others worth staying for."
"Yes, I know the feeling. So, what do you think of the new maze?"
"I think it's great... But it may be a bit too big, it took us hours to get out. Every part was good, but put all of them together and it gets rather tiring."
"Ah, you must have taken one of the long paths. There are shorter ones. Did you come through the curtain section?"
"Yes, right after the log maze."
"Ow, that's the worst entry point. Two labyrinths in a row. Anyway, it's good that you all made it."
"I liked the logical sequence in the end."
"Ah, I don't know who made that one. But if I find out I'll let them know."
"Speak for yourself, Gabi," Hero said. "Only you, Amber and Ventura seemed to have a clue about what you were doing. And maybe Tsunami."
"Of course I knew what we were doing!," Tsunami defended himself. "They just figured it out faster, that's all."
At that moment, one of Aaron's pokeballs opened and a red beam came out of it, subsequently assuming the form of a Charizard.
"Sorry, I couldn't wait in there any longer," the Charizard said. "Did I hear right? Amber is here and she helped solve the puzzle?"
"I'm here," I told him. "And yes, we solved it together. Are you..."
"Eliot," he revealed. "You may not remember me, but..."
"Of course I remember you! I just didn't recognize you at first; you were a Charmeleon last time I saw you."
"So were you," he replied. "I must tell you, the Charizard look suits you well."
"Thanks," I blushed.
"Honest. You look better as a Charizard than you did as a Charmeleon. And somehow you still manage to keep that sweet and friendly look. Do you know how many Charizards I've seen who can smile like that?"
"I don't know, but I know 3 who can: myself, my mother, and you."
Now it was Eliot who blushed.
"Guilty as charged," he chuckled. "It's been a long time, Amber. I wasn't sure if I would see you again. It's good to know you've made so much progress."
"Hey, don't treat me like a pupil. That didn't work out well the last time you tried it."
"That was because I misjudged you back then. I wanted to teach you something and you ended up doing exactly the opposite. Do you still hold to that decision of not battling your friends?"
"Firmly. I can't get myself to intentionally hurt the ones I care for, and I don't think I ever will."
"No one gets seriously hurt in friendly battles and you can learn a lot from them, but I can see your point. And I can see you've had your share of battles anyway, otherwise you wouldn't have evolved."
"Yes, Team Rocket, the Crimson Blades and the Black Dragon have kept me on a busy training schedule."
"I bet you two have a lot of catching up to do," Tsunami told us, "But could you please make room for those of us who want to battle while you're at it?"
"What did he just say?," asked Aaron.
"He asked the Charizards to make room for those who wanted to battle," Gabi translated.
"Ah, right, the battles! Sorry, I was stunned by the way Eliot reacted to your Charizard."
"They're old friends," Gabi explained. "From 3 of the incarnations of the Training Grounds."
"Ah. Right, we've been to all of the Training Grounds. But the last time Eliot had to leave early because he won a battle on the first day and then he didn't fit the level range anymore. That had happened once before too."
"Were you at the Dragon's Games Training Grounds?"
"Yes, we were at the Caledor site."
"Ah, that explains why we didn't meet. We went to Yvresse."
"I heard Yvresse was fun. I would have liked to see the floating island, even if it wasn't floating anymore. But when we got the news it was already too late to travel. The Caledor site was interesting anyway, it was bigger than any other version of the Training Grounds. My Murkrow went to the Domain of Impenetrable Darkness... He said it was mind-boggling."
"Really? It must have been much better than the one in Yvresse, because that one was quite boring," Ventura commented.
"That must be because sight is just a complementary sense to you," Tsunami told her. "Are we going to battle? Who's going to battle?"
"I guess you can, if you're so eager," Gabi offered.
"Is your Vaporeon going to battle?," Aaron asked.
Gabi nodded.
"Alright. I was supposed to choose first, but if you're ok with this Lady Banette won't have to find out. Let me check what his level is... Good, Forrest is close enough to his level. A bit higher, but I don't think that will be a problem for a Dragon Games finalist."
"I can't believe it! Someone still remembers!," exclaimed Tsunami.
"Don't be so surprised, I've always liked to watch the tournaments and learn from the strategies others used."
"Which in Tsunami's case was just 'endure as many blows as possible until your opponent wears out'," Hero mocked him.
"Hey, it worked, didn't it? But I've been working on other tactics since then."
"Yes. Chase your opponent with a giant wave until someone reminds you there's still food on the table," now it was Caledor who spoke.
"Ok, laugh all you want, but I'm winning this battle. Who's Forrest anyway?"
"I think he's ready," Gabi told Aaron.
"Alright, Forrest, are you ready for a battle?"

As Aaron spoke, he looked at one of the pokeballs in his belt and out of it came...
"A Forretress? Figures," Tsunami snorted.
"What's wrong?," Aaron asked.
"I guess he thinks naming a Forretress Forrest is unoriginal," Gabi explained.
"He was a Pineco when I gave him that name, and he... Why am I explaining? It's just a name. My name originally means wardrobe, I don't think names are such an important thing. It's just a way to call others so they know you're referring to them."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," Gabi apologized.
"You didn't. Forrest, how about getting started with the battle?"
"Sure," Forrest nodded.


Level 62 Vaporeon vs. Level 69 Forretress

Tsunami made quite an obvious start, sending a wave towards the Forretress, but Forrest was left untouched, an invisible shield diverting the flow of the water away from him. The funny part came when they both asked each other why they had done that, and the answer from both sides was the same: "I was testing you." Then Tsunami couldn't help himself.
"Did I pass the test?," he asked with a chuckle.
"Show me something else," Forrest replied. "Surf is overused."
"Overused?! It's one of the best attacks ever created, and I'm not about to stop using it just because it bores you."
"Alright, keep using Surf, then."
"I'll do whatever I want, thank you."
Now Tsunami sounded annoyed. Not that it wasn't understandable. Not often does your opponent try to tell you what to do in a battle. That had only happened once to me, and it had been Eliot who did it. Which made me wonder... did Aaron encourage his pokemon to do that? What could the use be? Except perhaps...
"Stay calm," I told Tsunami. "Don't let him make you lose focus."
"Will everyone please stop telling me what to do?," Tsunami complained. "I know how to battle, alright? I've won more battles than I've kept track of. More than you, even."
"Sorry, I was just trying to help," I apologized.
I wanted to tall him that even the wisest and most experienced may use some advice, but that was not the time and I didn't want to irritate him and bring about the opposite of what I wanted.

Sorry, the forum cut my story here. I'll have to make another post for the rest of the story. I knew it was long. >< Sorry again.

Lady Vulpix
25th November 2005, 04:15 AM
Tsunami looked at Forrest carefully, analyzing him... or maybe reviewing his own options. He seemed to decide to stall for time (rather unsurprisingly), and disappeared inside a small whirlpool of water summoned in a second.
"You're doing it again, aren't you?," Forrest questioned him. "Making the battle as long as you can in hopes that I wear out before you do. I expected you to have some new tricks in store."
"I'm not here to please you," Tsunami said. "Not to mention you haven't done anything interesting yourself. You just set up a shield and started fussing about everything I do. You're here to battle, not to watch a show."
"Ah, I see. You're saying that if I want to see something new I'll have to get it out of you myself."
"Basically."
"Alright. I can do that," Forrest accepted.

He didn't move, but we could all feel what he was doing. The air became warmer and the light around us more intense.
"That won't make the battle any less boring," Tsunami warned him. "It'll just make it longer."
"And who says that only works for you?," Forrest confronted him.
Tsunami thought for a moment and then chuckled.
"Either that's the most ridiculous bluff I've ever heard... or you have some incredible wildcard up your metaphorical sleeve. Whatever it is, I will find out. And if it's the former, you'll be ashamed."
"Not really. If I'm bluffing, and it is indeed the most ridiculous bluff you've heard, then I should be proud that I've made you doubt. But quit talking, if you make the Sunny Day wear out I'll just cast it again, so stalling won't help you."
"I can't believe it!," exclaimed Hero. "Tsunami's found his match! This is a stubbornness competition!"
"Not that you're any less stubborn when it comes to arguing with him," Caledor told him.
"It's not the same. I prefer to keep things moving. These two are both stalling!"

Tsunami didn't seem to know what to do. He stood there, thinking and observing the Forretress. After a few seconds, he smiled.
"Ok, show me what you've got."
"You shouldn't have asked," said Forrest, unleashing a wide and powerful beam of light. It hit Tsunami full on and sent him rolling backwards. He pushed himself to the side and stood up, coughing.
"Ok, that was strong," he admitted, "but it takes a lot more than that to bring me down."
"Are you coming back for more? You didn't strike me as the kind who would enjoy being beaten."
"You don't get it, do you?"
"Get what?"
"What I said, it's not so easy to bring me down. We could do this forever, your Solarbeam is strong, but not strong enough that I can't recover from it, and your Sunny Day won't last forever."
"At least I'm doing something. I haven't seen you attack at all after that pathetic Surf."
"First of all, don't call my Surf pathetic. And second, I know your type, literally speaking. I've had a few battles with a Scizor before and I know that most of my attacks will not work well on you. I can tell you this because it's just a friendly battle. So, yes, I'm stalling, what's wrong with that? It takes me a long time to get tired - longer than it's taken any of the opponents I've faced. I can wait until the conditions are favorable."
"So you're saying you're planning to wait until the Sunny Day wears out and then try another Surf on me?"
"I didn't say that. It's a possibility, but I may do something different."
"You're too predictable, really."
"Am I? I guess time will tell."
"Now who's bluffing?"
Tsunami chuckled. "We'll see."

Forrest did release another Solarbeam, which Tsunami recovered from as effectively as before. They seemed to be testing each other's patience, but it was the audience's patience that was starting to run out. Especially Hero's: the Ninetales started yawning and asking whether the rest of us couldn't just leave, though I noticed he didn't take his eyes off Tsunami and Forrest regardless of his words. I also noticed the air was not so warm anymore.

"Your Sunny Day wore off," Tsunami pointed out to Forrest. "You'll have to do something different now."
"Oh, I will, I will..." Forrest replied.
As he spoke, an air current rose and circled around him, lifting a pile of dust off the ground. The dusty tornado started heading Tsunami's way.
"Ghack," Tsunami uttered, as he created an opposing current. Some of Tsunami's wind managed to get past the sandstorm and reach Forrest, but it didn't seem to do much, and the dust still hit him. He closed his eyes to protect them from the sand, or whatever it was, and Forrest took the chance to jump through the storm and land on the Vaporeon's back. The cloud of dust didn't let me see what was going on clearly, but I guessed what Forrest was doing from Tsunami's reaction. A pair of pitch-black eyes stood out through the sandstorm as they flashed open, and just a split-second later they'd disappeared again, and Forrest was crashing against a wall, pushed by the force of an unforgiving Hydro Pump.

"Hey, where did that come from?!," asked Forrest, obviously caught off-guard.
"Tsk..." Pidgeot shook his head. "I hadn't seen that one in a while. He must have used Giga Drain"
"Don't do that again," Tsunami warned Forrest.
"Hey, sorry! I never thought a Giga Drain would bother you more than a Solarbeam."
"Well, you know now," Tsunami answered bitterly. "Make your next move and let's get this over with."

"Wow..." Iael commented. "His attitude has changed completely. It's almost like..."
"Like you?," Caledor joked.
"I wasn't thinking about me, but now that you say it... is there a reason why Giga Drain affects him so much?"
"I don't know," Caledor admitted. "It's always been like that since I've met him. We all know Pidgeot's history with poison, but Tsu's never spoken much about his past. Not the bad things, anyway, he does talk about TV and frozen lakes and such. I've never asked because... well, you know."
Iael looked at Caledor for a moment. "Yes... I think I know what you mean," he finally said.

I wasn't sure I understood him myself. Caledor always avoided touching on negative subjects as if his life depended on it, so trying to engage him in a conversation about sad or painful memories for longer than a minute was as futile as trying to move a house across the street with your bare hands. Maybe that was why he hadn't asked, because it wasn't the kind of subject he'd like to talk about. Or maybe out of respect to Tsunami, who knows. I hadn't asked either, but in my case it was just because I hadn't thought about it. We all have things we don't like, and Tsunami hadn't been Giga-drained so many times for the issue to take precedence over the many things I had to focus on. But Iael had a point... for something to strike a nerve the nerve has to be there in the first place, and there's always a reason for that. I made up my mind to ask Tsunami after the battle was over. If he didn't want to talk about it, he could always just say it.

As I reflected on my friends' ways of acting, Forrest got on the move again, this timespinning around Tsunami and whipping him with all his appendages. He hit the floor with a thud when he was done, but he didn't seem to mind. He watched the Sandstorm attack Tsunami again with a look of satisfaction in his eyes. The sand enveloped Tsunami until he was no longer visible, and when he came back into sight... he did so by rising above the storm on a wave of his own creation, and jumping back just in time to drop a stock of sandy water on his opponent, which sent him rolling back to the wall as the remnants of his storm receded. Forrest did manage to stop himself before hitting the wall this time, but didn't look so content anymore. A Forretress's face isn't the most expressive, but his eyes showed signs of tiredness. Tsunami was winning the endurance match.

"I think... I have only one thing left to do," he said.

He launched himself against Tsunami once more, but this time his blows were more precise, more focused. I could tell it was a different attack, and it was hitting Tsunami hard all over his body. The Vaporeon had to summon another wave just to push him away. Only this time Forrest had no strength left to stop himself, having put everything into his last attack.

Tsunami won! He grew to level 63!

The Vaporeon sight once his victory was announced. He looked at Forrest and then at the rest of us. Then he walked to Hero's side.
"He's tough," I heard him say. "For a moment I wasn't sure I would last longer than him. When he did that last attack... I wondered if I should have used another Recover. If the Sandstorm had lasted any longer..."
"Don't sweat it, kid," Hero told him. "It's over now. You won. Next time you'll know better and won't be so cocky. And especially, you won't come so close to boring us all to death."
"You're evil, you know?"
"Let me think... No, I'm not. Just trying to help you. I'll think about being evil when I don't have something important to say."
"And what's the important thing you have to say?"
"That you should have learnt something from this battle."
"Of course. I always learn from experience."
"That answer's meaningless. The important thing is you can't always rely on just one strategy. And while I've noticed you do have backup plans, you take too long to decide it's time to use them. Besides, no matter how good a strategy is, or how original you may think it is, you shouldn't be so full of yourself as to believe you're the only one who can use it."
"Look who's talking about being full of oneself."
"Come on, you know me better than that."
Tsunami paused for a few moments.
"Yes, I do know you better than that," he conceded. "But you always act like you are, others will believe it."
"All the worse for them. They'll miss knowing the real me," Hero winked.

Forrest started moving again, and both Eliot and Aaron went over to check on him. Before going back into his pokeball, he bowed to Tsunami and said it had been a pleasure to battle him.
"Same here," Tsunami replied.

Aaron was about to pick up another pokeball when he was interrupted by an unexpected visit: a very elegant-looking pokemon who looked almost like a female human in a long white dress.

<Ventura's POV>

My attention was focused on the Visitor. From Aaron's greeting, I learnt her name was Emmie. She spoke to the human telepathically.

"Hello, Aaron. I see you're still engaged in a battle. Or is it over yet?"
"Still one more to go," Aaron replied. "Am I needed?"
"Not urgently, no. I just came to see how things are going, and whether I could help speed them up a little bit."
"Speed them up?"
"You'll see... it's getting late. And I have a friend outside who's waiting for someone who in turn is waiting for the battles to finish, so I thought I could do her a favor by accelerating the process."
"Okay, but how do you intend to do that?"
"Hold on a minute." She turned to look at me. "Excuse me, Ms..."
"My name's Ventura," I told her.
"Ms. Ventura. It's not polite to listen to other pokemon's telepathic conversations."
"I'd never heard of that rule before," I said. "But it can't be any less polite than walking into a room and talking to someone while ignoring everyone else."
"Oh. For that I apologize. I was lost in my thoughts. I'll make up for it now, my name is Emmie, and I'm currently working for the Mercenary Trainers Union. Pleased to meet you."
"Emmie, this is Lady Vulpix from the Pokemon Research and Training Department and the Dragon Tamers, and her team," Aaron introduced us in a biased manner which was probably the only one he could manage. "Everyone, this is Emmie, one of the newest and most colorful members of the MTU."
"Colorful? I only see white and green," Caledor said. "This is colorful."
He started glowing red, and then golden, and then I stopped looking, at just about the same time as Emmie started giggling while covering her mouth with her right hand. Something about the way she moved and spoke was making me feel very uncomfortable, but no one else seemed to feel that way.
"So... you were saying?," Aaron resumed the conversation.
"I was saying... I was thinking of battling for you, if you and your friends don't mind."
"I don't think anyone will mind, but how will that speed up the process?"
"Most of my battles have been rather quick... one way or another."
"And the average length of my pokemon's battles is the longest among the MTU according to the latest statistics," Aaron finished making Emmie's point. "I understand, I guess it's fine, as long as our opponents don't mind."
"It's ok, we didn't know who we were going to battle anyway," Gabi said. "Can I check my pokedex?"
"Of course," Emmie nodded.

Gabi searched her backpack for about a minute until she found what she was looking for. I was almost surprised to see it still worked, as I hadn't seen her use it 2 or 3 years, except for the cellphone function which she used each time there was a world crisis.
"I think this will be a job for group C," she concluded. "Leaving out Amber, that makes Caledor, Sylvan or Ventura. Does any of you feel like battling a psychic pokemon?"
As I expected, Sylvan remained quiet, but Caledor said he wouldn't mind at the same time as I said "Me". Gabi looked at both of us and considered the options. She finally turned to Caledor.
"I think Ventura sounded more eager to battle," she said. "Is it ok if we leave your battle for next time?"
"Whenever next time is..." Caledor answered. "It's ok, I can always go somewhere and throw a party or something. Ventura doesn't know that many ways to have fun."
I must admit his comment hurt me. "I know how to have fun," I thought. "I just... Not everything in life revolves around having fun... But I must admit it feels good to have it sometimes."

"So, Ms. Ventura..." Emmie smiled. "The circumstances have temporarily turned us into opponents. This should be an interesting match. Would you like to battle with or without Super Effective moves?"
"Your call. Do you have any items?"
"Just a Spirit Guard," she said, pointing at her oval pendant with swirling colors and a pair of silvery feathers hanging from it. "What about you?"
"Magical Glass Koffing Sculpture."
"I'm afraid I haven't come across that item before. What does it do?"
"It's a relic. It may randomly poison my opponent. What does a Spirit Guard do?"
"It's a treasure I brought from one of my journeys. It prevents my accuracy from being reduced."
"I don't care for accuracy-reducing moves. They leave too much to chance."
"Do you use any bug-type moves?"
"A couple."
"Then how about battling with no items and no Super Effective moves?"
"If it works for you, it works for me. SE moves or not, it's a good challenge either way. And no items sounds fair."
I stored my sculpture in Gabi's pack while Emmie took off her amulet and asked Aaron to take care of it for her.

"Ready?," she asked.
"I'm ready when you are," I told her. That was our last exchange of words for the rest of the battle. Not that it bothered me; words are overrated.


Level 53 Venomoth vs. Level 60 Gardevoir

Emmie acted fast... but I moved faster. I felt her build up a current of hot air and, having seen Hero pull out that move before, I was ready to teleport away from harm's way. I wondered for a moment whether she was cheating or not, but concluded she wasn't: while Will-o-wisp was a fire-type move, it wouldn't have affected me more than it would others. since we were still going by the rules, I decided there was no reason to use any spores just yet, and used my Hidden Power instead. She took in the poison without complaints; she already had something in store for me, and as soon as my attack was over, a Shadow Ball phased through me, leaving an annoying tingling inside me. And I had the feeling she was just starting to warm up. As much as I didn't want to enact a rerun of the previous battle, I thought a Sunny Day would be my best choice.

As soon as the room became illuminated, a brighter light came my way and struck me with an incredible force. No wonder she didn't mind battling with no SE moves. Anyone who could pack a Thunderbolt like that didn't need much else to win a battle. Only with the help of a Morning Sun powered up by the effect of my Sunny Day was I able to endure the second one. And even the Solarbeam I shot next seemed to have little effect on her. After a third Thunderbolt, I knew it was time. I rose about my opponent and sprinkled some sleep powder on her.

That seemed to do the trick. All Emmie managed to do was use her arms to cushion her fall. I used Morning Sun once more to recover from all the blows I had taken before my Sunny Day faded away, and then just dumped more poison on her twice before she woke up. She looked at me and smiled. Then she hit me with another Thunderbolt, which hurt even more than the previous ones. She seemed to have a way of making my whole body tickle no matter what attack she used. I wasn't used to feeling tickles, but now that I was getting familiar with them I decided I didn't like them.

I used my Hidden Power again. Emmie didn't even try to dodge. She just closed her eyes and smiled, and then fell with the grace of an actress. That was really annoying.

But I won anyway, and grew to level 55.

"Ok, what was that all about?," I asked everyone and no one in particular.
"What's wrong?," Gabi asked me.
"It all seemed like a game to her."
"It was a game," Caledor said. "Seriously, you need to learn to relax. And to be less serious. But you can't seriously learn to be less serious, or can you?"
"Someone slap him. I'm too bored to move," Hero interjected.
"Is everything alright?," asked Aaron.
"Yes, just my friends being themselves," Gabi told him. "Maybe a little more irritable than usual because we've spent a long time here."
"In that case I won't hold you any longer. You've completed your quest. You may leave the maze now."
"Just tell me one thing," Caledor send a psychic message to Aaron. "Is it real snake skin?"

Aaron gave Caledor a surprised look and then looked around, until he realized he was asking about his vest.
"This? Ah, no, it's just an imitation. Good, isn't it?"
"It's... scaly."
"That's it," Hero decided. "Let's get outta here before he says any more stupid things."
"I just want to know one thing," I stopped the group to send a message of my own to Aaron. "What's the deal with her?"
"Emmie?," Aaron looked at the Gardevoir and then back at me. When I nodded, he told me what he knew. "She's from abroad. Hoenn, I think. She used to be trained by a pokemon researcher until they were both summoned by the Dragon's Guild and came to settle in Ulthuan. Then they both agreed to take separate paths and Emmie joined the MTU, though they still live together."
"So she's her own trainer now?," I asked.
"Basically, I guess you can say that."
"Interesting."

All of a sudden my opinion of her improved. She did make ridiculous gestures and decorate her speech with lots of useless words, but she'd done something with her life and had gone further than most pokemon ever had. For that, she had my respect.

I heard some background talk between Amber and Eliot, then between Amber and Tsunami and finally, once Emmie stood up, between her and -what a surprise- Amber. The only thing worth listening to was when Tsunami revealed his secret, which wasn't that big of a secret after all: he just hated it when others took advantage of him, and for some reason Giga Drain fell under that category in his mind. Amber and Emmie talked about Guild reports and pokemon research. It turns out Amber had once read an essay written by Emmie's old trainer, Willow Byrd. Amber asked if Emmie had ever helped Willow with her research, to which Emmie replied they had sometimes discussed a few ideas but scientific research had never been her forte. It was Emmie who put an end to the conversation.

"Oh, my goodness! I forgot! I'm causing exactly the opposite of what I came here for!"
"Speeding things up?," Tsunami asked.
"By now I think we could all write a book about how to slow things down," Hero complained. "How about we do something right for a change and leave?"
"Whatever you say, Mr. Hedgehog," Tsunami told him.
"Hedgehog? Are you comparing me to Sonic?"
"No, I was thinking of what you looked like with all the arrows stuck on you. But come to think of it, I think Sonic could work too, you're just as impatient."
"If you're going to compare me to him, better do it for something good, like... you know... his most obvious attribute?"
"No way. I'm the one who's blue and spiky."
"I give up. You're doing it on purpose."
Tsunami grinned.

We said goodbye to Aaron, and Amber and Eliot exchanged addresses in hopes of meeting again someday... maybe next year. Emmie said goodbye too, but when she turned to me and bowed saying "it was a pleasure to battle you, Ms. Ventura," I couldn't take it any longer.
"It was a good battle, but... will you PLEASE stop acting like that?!"
"Acting like what?," she gave me a puzzled look.
"Like that. All those moves and words that mean nothing and just look and sound ridiculous. I don't get why you do it."
"I'm not sure I know what you mean... But in any case you should look at yourself before judging others. My manners don't hurt anyone, but you have been sounding very aggressive all this time. I don't think I've done anything to deserve your anger."
"Just... drop it," I sighed.
Maybe she couldn't help it. Sadly and scarily enough, everyone's marked by the way we've been raised. Some marks are just more noticeable than others. And some hurt more than others.
"Let's get out of here," I said, joining the group on their way out.

We still had one surprise left, but being as tired as I was I didn't stay around to enjoy it. It was mostly for Hero anyway. Tracker was waiting for us outside the maze. She'd been there for about an hour, and had been wondering what was taking us so long. Then when she saw her friend (guess who), she'd asked her to help us get out faster. The thought of Emmie and Tracker being friends left me thinking for a while: I had to decide whether that made sense or not. In the end I decided it did; while they didn't seem to have anything to do with each other at first sight, they were both strong-willed and independent, and they'd both travelled a lot. Having things like those in common can help a friendship last... but it takes a lot more than that to make it worthy... to make it real. Did I have any real friends?

I thought about it for a while. Gabi was my friend, I concluded. We had arguments quite frequently, but we respected and cared for each other; we knew we'd always be there for each other when it was needed, and isn't that what friendship is all about? Gabi, I realized, had long since stopped acting like my trainer. She gave me advice about as often as she asked me for it, and her advice hardly ever had anything to do with battles. She treated me as an equal, and had even delegated some of the training tasks to me a few times. More than once I'd thought of leaving... not considering it too seriously, but wondering what kept me here, with her and the rest of the team. Now, I felt, I knew the answer. I stayed because I cared about that motley and often unruly bunch. It wasn't just that I'd grown used to them, I knew my life wouldn't be the same without them. And although that went against everything I had learned in my youth, I was surprised to find out I didn't mind... I like it! Of course I might lose them, and if that happened I'd have to survive on my own, and I would survive if it was up to me; but why spend my life worrying about something that might never happen? And why miss something so good when I had the chance to enjoy it? If life ended up taking them away, at least I'd have the memories. Otherwise I'd just end up with nothing... and there had been too much of nothing in my life so far. I left the team with Tracker and went home to think a little, and talk to Water Angel who, I remembered, was a good friend as well. After that, I would give the idea of having fun a few more thoughts. Maybe there was more to it than I knew. I found it hard to believe that any kind of activities could drastically improve my life, but if it was so important to my friends there had to be something about it that I was missing. It was worth a shot.

AntiAsh Superstar
30th November 2005, 11:46 AM
Gabi... wow, some of that really had me spluttering all over my computer, like the scarily accurate analysis of Sindel, tho Caledor's comments about levers really made me laugh out loud. Verrry good battle with some nifty little portions to the maze. 25 stamps for you.

And now for me Scratchy RBG... and can he have another from the Universal Adoption Centre please?
---
To be honest some days the temptation to just give in and go play about with everybody else was immense. It seemed as if those who, as the Paras would put it, 'put their dignity on the shelf', had so much more fun than the creature known as Scratchy. All he seemed to be able to find it within his pride to do was stay away from the others and when anyone else approached make rather scathing comments about how stupid he found their ways of passing the time. Which, for the most part, suited him fine. He didn't actually care too much about such things as having friends or socialising. He just liked to keep himself to himself. But occasionally, just occasionally, the Paras would look out across the garden and watch as, say, Milliardo and Katnip raced back and forth across the garden sparring, still trying hard to settle the question of which would fail first, the Umbreon's stamina and guile or the Raticate's agility and technical prowess; as far as Scratchy knew it was pretty even so far. Or sometimes he would spy on Rhiannon in her more childish moods, watching with an odd mixture of contempt and envy as she raced around the garden pretending to be Ryo-Ohki's horse as he played Cowboys and Indians with the downright tomboyish Kassandra. And during these times Scratchy was filled with an inexplicable longing, bizarre pangs of emotions normally foreign to him crossing his mind. Envy. Regret. Even loneliness. Some days he really secretly yearned to be a part of the group but simply refused to allow himself the chance. For sooner or later he would once again desire his space and by that time the damage would have been done. There would be no peace ever again. So he just contented himself with watching. It was all that he could do.

That day had started off in a less than innocuous fashion. Oh, the usual chaos in the morning was nothing new. I was perfectly accustomed to waking up in the morning to find my fiancée in a fluster as she only had ten minutes to catch a train, to find Thunderblast, Katnip and Kassandra arguing over the last piece of bacon or to find Sindel close to throwing half of the kitchen utensils at Milliardo's head after he had overstepped the mark yet again. Things like that seemed to be a part of everyday life for our little rabble. However, what I wasn't accustomed to was getting phone calls roughly ten minutes after I had finished breakfast, the voice on the other end of the line being the unmistakably official voice of my boss, the woman who called herself Lady Ninetales and the head of the pokémon related arm of the Dragons Guild.
“Good morning, Lord Umbreon,” the polite but brisk voice sounded. “I hope I haven't called at a bad time.” Like you care I thought to myself, although rather wisely I decided to keep that particular comment confined to my head.
“No, no, not at all, I've been up for hours,” I found myself saying. “I just wasn't expecting you to call.”
“Normally I wouldn't,” Lady Ninetales replied calmly. “But now that things have calmed down after the Crimson Blades and the Guild is beginning to return to some state of order I want to make sure my researchers are actually doing their jobs.”
“Is that some kind of sly dig?”
“Not at all, and I'm sorry if it came across as that. Simply put, I was looking at your profile and thinking about conversations we've had in the past. Your history is peppered with periods of wandering, isn't it?”
“Yeah but I don't see...”
“I've an assignment for you that might well satisfy any wanderlust you've still got. Would a spot of field research interest you?”
“Hell yeah!” Now this had caught my interest! Domestic life was all very well and good but I often longed for an excuse to go and roam, nostalgia for my old way of life too great to resist any opportunity for adventure. “I mean... that sounds pretty interesting, Lady Ninetales. What did you have in mind?”
“Come to my office before noon and I'll explain things to you then,” the woman said with a slight chuckle in her voice. “Don't worry, the assignment's going nowhere so you've no need to rush.”
“I got it.” I winced inwardly. Was I really that predictable? “See you soon, then.”
“I'll be waiting.” With this the phone went dead, leaving me staring at it rather bemusedly. What on earth did the Guild want from me now? Whatever it was probably beat sitting around at home, though.
“Something wrong, Ade?” A nudging at my leg snapped me out of my thoughts. Looking down I saw the curious faces of Pearl and Rhiannon staring up at me. Somehow I didn't think I wanted to know why they were stalking the house together.
“Do you just like the way the phone looks?” Rhiannon giggled.
“Somehow I think there's more to it than that,” Pearl noted. “The last time I saw that look on his face we ended up being entered in the pokémon Winter Olympics. So come on, Ade. Out with it. What was that call about?”
“Well...” I mused. “I'm not entirely sure yet. Seems like the Guild might have an interesting job for us.”
“Interesting?” Rhiannon rolled her eyes. “Really, their idea of 'interesting' is sitting around looking at nesting Pidgeys all day. Count me out, I'm gonna go play with Celeste.” With this the Jolteon scooted off at full speed, evidently having lost interest in the conversation the instant I mentioned my employers. At least that still left my Ninetales by my side.
“Are you going to run off on me too, Pearl?” I asked. Laughing, the Fire-type shook her head.
“After all this time you still need to ask me that?” Softly she nuzzled my leg, causing me to reach down and pet her gently. “I'm going nowhere, except wherever you're going. We've been together too long for me to leave you on your own now!”
“At least I can always count on you for moral support,” I smiled. “So then, shall we go over and see what all of the fuss is about?”

Roughly an hour later I was stood outside the office of Lady Ninetales, my own pokémon of my boss' chosen species sat patiently at my feet waiting patiently for me to gather the nerve to knock. Truth be told, I hated having formal, work-related meetings like this. I was much happier just getting on with things in my own way. I especially dreaded meetings with Lady Ninetales who, whilst she was no doubt a good person at heart, was never going to win awards for being the most personable creature on the planet.
“Come on, Ade, she probably knows you're here and is wondering why you're stood outside like a dummy,” Pearl sighed. “Waiting isn't going to make talking to her any easier you know.”
“I know,” I conceded finally. Forcing my reluctant body to actually motivate itself, I reached over and rapped on the oaken door three times. For a moment there was no response; in fact I was just about to knock a second time when a rather irritable 'Come in!' sounded from inside the office. The tone made my heart sink. Today was obviously not going to be my day! Cautiously I opened the door to find the flame-haired Guild official almost buried under an armful of papers. She looked just about ready to topple over.
“Here, let me give you a hand,” I quickly rushed over to her side and took half of the load.
“Thanks. That shelf over there, please.” I quickly placed the papers over to where Lady Ninetales was gesturing with a nod of her head, at which point she rather quickly offloaded the rest of her burden on me and sat down behind her desk with a rather forced sigh. “Apologies in advance is I sound a little irritable today, Lord Umbreon. Now all the fuss surrounding the Crimson Blades has died down those of us who aren't lucky enough to not have to deal with paperwork are finding ourselves with a ridiculous backlog of the stuff.” Was that a hint of jealously I heard? It couldn't have been. “Anyway, you're here about our conversation earlier, right?”
“Yeah.” I bit back the sarcasm that was just itching to be used as a response to that particular question. “You've got me interested.”
“Here.” The instant I took a seat opposite my boss she shoved a thick beige folder in my direction. “A rather large piece of field research that needs to be done has just turned up and I instantly thought of you. After all you're rather infamous for wandering, I thought you might like the chance to do some on company time for once. Well, that and...”
“...the subject matter,” I finished, briefly skimming the contents of the folder. “This has got something to do with the Paras family, I see, and I'm the only one you can think of with any experience of them.”
“Yes, there is that,” Lady Ninetales admitted. “Of course, if you're not interested I can always send somebody else...”
“No, I'm interested alright!” I interrupted hastily. “Very interested.” I skimmed through the folder once more, several document headers catching my attention. “So this is all about Paras... migration? Hm, that's a new one on me. I didn't realise they migrated at all.”
“Neither did the rest of us.” Lady Ninetales leaned forward conspiratorially. “Truth be told this assignment isn't so much a research project as an investigation. Something strange is happening to the Paras population in a particular forest in Avelorn. It seems almost as if they're being driven away from the reports we've been getting. I'd like you to go do what you Dragon Tamers do best and poke your nose around there a little, see what's actually going on.”
“Is that an off-the-record request for some help from the Tamers?” I asked.
“No. It's a request from a manager who has a problem to one of her employees who has a track record of getting to the bottom of similar problems before,” Lady Ninetales almost smiled at this point. “Everything you need to know is in that file. Beyond that I'll leave this up to you. Just please keep me informed of your progress. I've had quite enough of Guild members not telling each other anything to last me a lifetime.”
“Understood,” I grinned. For all her faults it was easy to tell that Lady Ninetales' heart lay in the right place. “I'll give you a call when I've got there, then. Was there anything else?”
“No. Aside from...” Here Lady Ninetales paused for a moment. “...good luck. I hope you get to the bottom of this quickly.”
“So do I,” I replied. “So do I.”

“...So that's how it is.” I found myself with the rather expected problem of explaining why I'd be missing for the next week or so the instant I returned home. “The Guild thinks I'd be best off doing some field research and I happen to agree with them.” I attempted to comb my long, unruly hair in a mirror, the hair that seemed never to know whether it was orange or golden in colour. Much like my eyes, which flickered between blue, grey and green depending on the light. My colouration, much like my mind, was frequently indecisive.
“Oh.” I had been expecting Soo to put up a fight, but once again she had totally confounded my expectations. At least we could have this conversation seeing as she had long ago realised the usefulness of Hokiri, her teleporting Ponyta, for getting her home to have some lunch. “You sure you're going to be okay?”
“Sure I am,” I grinned winsomely. “I've done this sort of thing loads of times before we met.”
“That's what worries me.” Soo rolled her unnaturally blue eyes. “If your accounts are anything to go by, before we met you were a total mess.”
“Before we met you we were actually saner than we are now,” Milliardo chipped in unhelpfully, unable to resist having a subtle dig at my partner. After all, it was a long-running joke now, my Umbreon's faux disdain of Soo. He didn't actually mean it. Nor did Soo mean any retort she came up with. At least I hoped not, for they were usually of the 'stop being mean, you know you love me really' variety.
“Yeah, right.” Evidently she wasn't going to rise to the bait this time. “So, umm, see you guys tonight, yeah?”
“I dunno...” I mused for a second. Sure, I knew what Soo was implying. It was simplicity itself to return to the comforts of home when you had a pokémon who could teleport, especially when said pokémon was a psychic as powerful as my Alakazam, Sindel. But sometimes I felt the instant recall to a safe place was almost cheating in a way. “Mind if we camp for a few days? I'd rather like to concentrate on my training while I have the chance. Which, incidentally...”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, sadly some of us have proper jobs, okay?” Soo pouted. “If my work actually left me more than three hours in the evening before I went to bed then I would train more.”
“Or if you concentrated more on your pokémon than you do your Neopets...”
“Ade, you're a meanie!” the world's most bizarre Espeon fanatic whined. “Anyway, I do train my pokémon! Look! Get the mean man, Kirei!” At this point I was rather abruptly knocked to the floor by a pink Espeon with a stupidly large grin upon her face.
“Espers one, moody goths nil!” Kirei beamed before jumping into her trainer's arms. “We rock, Eper!”
“We rule the school, Eper!” Soo replied with a rather manic look in her eyes. Every time I thought my immeasurably silly fiancée had reached her limits she pulled out something new. If it wasn't a bizarre desire to become a superstar than it was a sudden and inexplicable conviction that she was an Espeon. But then, I liked eccentric. Face it, I was hardly conventional myself, given so much to random whims and outbursts that if I was any more impulsive I would have been Thunderblast.
“Please. Shoot them now before they spread.” Milliardo pretended to be pissed off with the pair all the time but it was quite obvious for the bemused grin on his face that he was less than irritated by them. “Anyway, Ade, you going to get off the floor now and lead us into danger for the millionth time or do I have to drag you by the collar all the way to Avelorn myself?”
“No, I can manage to get there without your help, thanks all the same.” I chuckled to myself. “Anyway, the way I see it I'll be taking most of the team, although I don't need all fifteen of you if some of you fancy staying behind.”
“Oh that's good to hear!” Sindel beamed broadly. “Truth be told I wouldn't mind taking a break and actually missing this one out. Er... you lot can cook for yourselves, right? Only it's been so long since you didn't have me to do it for you and all...”
“This is not a good start,” I moaned, rolling my eyes. “If I didn't know better I'd swear you were starting to sound like Milliardo, Sindel.”
“It's a little known disease, you know,” Beckham explained. “Milliardoitis. It generally affects the mouth and brain...”
“...doubling the brain's intelligence, although in Thingy's case this just increases her amount of brain cells from two to four,” my Umbreon interrupted, being as he was quite possibly the only creature on the planet louder than my garrulous Wartortle. “And allowing the mouth to come up with all kind of highly amusing quips that it would normally be incapable of using.”
“I'm guessing it causes incredible swelling of the ego as well,” I chuckled. “Don't you ever get tired of promoting yourself, Milliardo?”
“No.”
“I guessed as much. Anyway, anyone else wanna duck out of this one while they have the chance?”
“Me,” Ryo-Ohki yawned. “It sounds boring.”
“Anyone else? Rhi? Brandy? Scratchy?” I turned to the three on my team I had been most expecting to run a mile from a Guild assignment. “None of you prefer to stay at home?”
“W... well if I can help you at all... I... I'd love to,” my Onix stammered, peering into the room through the large patio doors that led out onto the garden. “Unless you w...want me to stay here, of course, then I will! W...whatever's easiest for you.”
“Brandy, if you want to help out then I'd love to have you along.”
“As for me...” Rhiannon yawned, normally one of the first to run a mile when the word 'business' was mentioned, “sure, if this was a lameass journey to study the nesting habits of wild Fearow or something I'd be packing my bags and saying I'm off to the Bahamas for the week but you did say 'official investigation', didn't you? Sounds kinda cool actually, do you think we'll end up doing some mad James Bond kinda stuff?”
“I hope not,” I shuddered. “I've done enough of that in the past to last me a lifetime! What about you, Scratchy?” As it turned out the reaction from my Paras was completely unexpected.
“Actually,” he yawned, “I think I'll come with you.” Noting the surprised looks on everyone's faces Scratchy rolled his eyes. “Look, didn't you say this was about the Paras population? I don't think I have much of a choice if you intend on returning this year, it's probably because I'm on your team that you were given this assignment, right?”
“Actually yes.”
“Well then. Looks like you're all stuck with me.” There was something about the way my Paras was acting that indicated that there was something more to it than him just accepting his usefulness on this particular adventure. But finding out what that was, I had to concede, would have to wait. Right now we had one hell of a lot of packing to do and an investigation to commence. Everything else would have to wait.

A mere eight hours later and we were in a situation totally alien to some of our group but all too familiar to others. Sitting out on the open plains on the outskirts of Caledor after a few hours of a frenzied motorbike ride designed purely to put as much distance between ourselves and civilization as possible, a roaring fire in front of us and a few comfortable tents erected to rest inside. The pure, cloudless twilight sky above us, an awe-inspiring mixture of red and dark blue, only hinted at the potential mysteries to come. In short, this was a magical experience, one which I would never tire of as long as I lived.
“You know, this takes me back,” Beckham reflected, leaning back with a can of cider that he had mysteriously pulled out of his shell, evidently having been obtained from what was swiftly being dubbed 'the weird Becks drinks supply'. “We used to do this sort of thing all the time didn't we Ade? Go a-roamin' and live the wild life, just us, the stars and a magical supply of marshmallows to toast on the campfire. Remember that time we ran across a farm plagued with Bug types?”
“Yeah. I remember,” I chuckled. “We offered our help and you 'magically' defeated a wild Caterpie by sitting on it, didn't you?”
“So how many centuries ago was that?” Milliardo chuckled, lazing almost directly in front of the campfire with Pandora and Marius, all three having such a resistance to heat for one reason or another that they had rather swiftly managed to find the optimum place to warm up – as in so close they were practically touching the flames. “I mean, that was before my time 'coz I sure as hell don't remember it, and wasn't I part of your team during that historic time The Beatles came to Ulthuan?”
“You're kinda admitting what an old man you are there, Milliardo.”
“Nonsense! I'll have you know when I wake up in the morning I feel a young and sprightly pokémon!”
“I'll bet you do,” Kasumi giggled. “She's called Pandora.”
“Er... exactly what I was insinuating. Good God, no wonder I'm not as much of a hit on the comedy circuit as I should be when my audience is comprised of such morons.”
“You know...” All of a sudden Scratchy spoke up. “I sort of regret coming. I forgot what imbeciles I would have to deal with.”
“There is actually more to determining a well-balanced individual than intellect and maturity, you know,” Marius commented with a rather acidic tone in his voice. “For instance, the ability to successfully interact in social situations is a rather important facet of personality, not to mention having enough decency to not resort to insulting comments whenever you hear humour that isn't totally to your liking.”
“Oh what would you know?” my Paras snorted. “Look who raised you, for goodness' sake.”
“Hey, what's that supposed to mean?” Pandora interrupted rather angrily.
“Guys...” I interrupted before the situation could get out of hand, “just leave each other alone for once please? Scratchy, really, can't you just try and get along with everyone? Surely it's less effort than getting into an argument every time you speak up?”
“And it's even less effort not to speak at all,” Scratchy snorted sulkily. “Which is what I intend on doing. If anybody's interested I'll be over keeping watch. Somebody has to think of these things after all.” With a last glower the world's most antisocial Paras scuttled off to a point a safe distance from everybody else.
“Sorry about that,” I sighed, the mood having soured quite considerably all of a sudden. “Honestly, it's been over three years now and I still don't think I'm any closer to understanding that one than I was when we first started out.”
“Don't fret about it,” Pearl offered. “He's so set in his ways now that the thought of changing them probably scares him. But I can guarantee you that there's a nicer pokémon on the inside than the one he shows everyone.”
“So how do you figure that?” Milliardo scoffed.
“He's still part of our team isn't he?” my Ninetales shrugged. “If he meant even half he said he would have left long ago. Because face it, Ade isn't a very strict master and if Scratchy really wanted to be anywhere else he would have said. Although... for some reason I kind of think there's something that's bugging him beyond the routine grouchiness this time. I do hope he lets us know what's on his mind.”
“Pff, it'd be easier to get blood out of a stone,” my Umbreon snorted.
“I hate to say it but you're probably right.” Pearl sighed deeply. “But we can but hope.”

A comfortable distance away from the main camp Scratchy settled down with his eyes cast across his teammates and sighed to himself. To be perfectly honest not even he understood quite why he had to be so aggressive towards his teammates these days. Sure, back when there were just a handful he had every right to yell whenever the conversation grew too stupid. But now? Why, whenever the likes of Beckham or Thunderblast started on one of their rants there were always other, more intelligent sources of conversation to be found. So why did he feel this terrible desire to shun the others all the time and wallow in his solitude? Probably because company made him feel uncomfortable. He didn't know how to react, how to get close to others so he didn't. He either ignored them or went on the offensive, to the point where even his friends were little more than acquaintances.
“Oh why am I getting all worked up about this?” the Paras snorted irritably to himself as he settled down for a few hours keeping watch. “This is the way it's always been.” That was a slight untruth, of course. There was a time, long ago... but that period of his life was well and truly behind him now and in his mind there was no sense in dwelling upon it. Better to just concentrate on the present, to do his duty and nothing more. It was the only way he knew how to live these days.

Hours passed and Scratchy had observed his teammates having their usual manic rabble of a good time with a pang of envy in his heart. He had observed the arguments. The rambling, nonsensical conversations. The impromptu games of chase. And then he had watched as everybody retired to bed, the campfire set to blaze away throughout the night after a quick and subtle dose of magic on Rhiannon's part that was designed to prolong its life until somebody woke up. It was kind of calming, just detaching himself from the rest and observing. In an odd way it allowed the Paras to share in their fun without actually having to be at the very heart of the action. And also, in keeping an eye on the camp like this he actually felt a strange sense of pride. He actually felt like he was performing a useful service this way, instead of getting dragged into the daily bickering that seemed to be a way of life for his companions.
“So nothing's out there,” Scratchy mused to himself after some time with only the soft rushing of the breeze for company. “I suppose it's better this way.”
“You don't sound convinced about that,” a voice echoed from the top of a large tree that the Paras had been comfortably propped up against, causing him to almost jump in alarm.
“Who is that?” Scratchy yelled angrily, composing himself in an instant. “Show yourself!”
“Hey, hey, chill, would you? I'll be right down.” All of a sudden a little Cyndaquil dropped down from the branches of the tree, landing nimbly at a point only a short distance in front of Scratchy's face. “Sorry, buddy, I didn't mean to startle you.”
“Who said you startled me?” Scratchy snorted. “I yelled because I'm supposed to be keeping watch, and I always treat unknown voices with suspicion funnily enough. Who are you and what were you doing spying on me anyway?”
“Hey, I wasn't spying on you!” the Cyndaquil replied defensively. “I'd gone up that tree to have a rest where it was safe... can't be too careful around here if you're on your own, there's plenty of bigger pokémon just waiting to make a meal out of you if you look like you've got a bit of meat on you. Anyway, when I went up there you weren't here and when I awoke you were, so really I think I've more right to ask you who you are and what you're up to!”
“None of your business,” Scratchy snorted, turning his back on the Fire type once he realised that it wasn't likely to be a threat to anybody.
“True, but I'm curious.” Evidently the Cyndaquil couldn't take a hint, for it scooted around until it was in Scratchy's line of vision again. “You said you were supposed to be keeping watch. Who for? You got friends around here? Is that it? And how come you sounded so fed up when you thought there was nothing out there?”
“You're not going to leave me alone until you get an answer are you?”
“Nope.”
“Fine. Then I'm keeping a watch on my trainer – and I use that term loosely since we haven't trained properly in years – and teammates who are camping out over there.” The Paras gestured vaguely in the direction of the campsite with a pincer. “So yes, I have friends around here I suppose. And I'm fed up because it's a very, very dull night and I was hoping that maybe something might happen so I didn't start the morning thinking I'd wasted my time doing this.”
“So...” The Cyndaquil seemed deep in thought. “You're a trained pokémon who doesn't do much training and offered to be lookout so you could train yourself on anything that came too near, right?”
“I guess that's one way of looking at it, yes. Satisfied?”
“Uh huh.” The Cyndaquil paused for a few moments. “Well?”
“Well what?”
“I'm too near. Aren't you going to drive me away?”
“What are you blabbering about?” Scratchy snapped tetchily.
“Well if you wanted to train up on wild pokémon while everyone was asleep, which you pretty much admitted you were planning on doing, you're not doing a very good job of it seeing as there's one right under whatever passes for a Paras' nose.”
“Pff. Knowing my luck whilst I pummel you an actual threat will approach the campsite.”
“Hey. It's a dull night. You said so yourself. Come on, nothing's going to happen, and I could use a spar myself. Bring it on, bug boy!” Here the little pokémon began to hop excitedly from one paw to another. “I dare you!”
“Well, if I must... I won't go easy on you, though.”
“Good. Neither will I. Let's get it on, man!”

FIGHT!!! L16 Paras v L16 Cyndaquil!

Scratchy was no fool when it came to battle, and he knew exactly what his limitations were. So when the sparring session commenced with the little Cyndaquil shooting towards him at top speed he wasn't in the least bit surprised. He was slow and he was anything but agile. Most creatures could run rings around him. He just accepted it and got in his attacks when he could. For at least he was physically tough. Tough enough to withstand an incoming Quick Attack and respond with the most rapid Scratch he could manage whilst his opponent was in close range, at least.
“Yow!” Instinctively Scratchy's opponent darted away again as his pincers left thin lines of blood across one of its cheeks. “That's the last time I get in that close!”
“Oh come on, if you're that bothered by a single scratch then why are you battling at all?” Scratchy grumbled, well aware that the Cyndaquil would probably now be ultra cautious in its offense.
“Eh, I'm not really but it pays to be cautious,” the little pokémon shrugged. “Anyway, see how you like this!” Abruptly the flame-like energy protruding from its back seemed to double in size. The pokémon was clearly building up its power for some attack or other. And Scratchy really didn't fancy finding out what that attack was.
“Oh no you don't!” the Paras yelled, scuttling over to his opponent as fast as his sluggish form would let him. Not that it did him much good. Just before he was within striking distance the Cyndaquil exhaled deeply, spitting out a large ball of flame directly into his face. The pain was excruciating. It felt as if he were being burned away completely. But he knew better than to think that was the case. It was simply the parasitic fungus on his back trying to force him to get out of harm's way. And by now Scratchy was an expert at totally ignoring those impulses. Instead he forced his way through the fire, his carapace smoldering with the heat, to where his opponent stood dumbstruck. He raised a pincer. And then brought it hard across the Cyndaquil's side with as much force as he could possibly muster. The Fire type yelled out in pain and darted away once again, leaving droplets of blood as it went from a thick gash where Scratchy's Slash attack had struck home.
“How are you still standing?” it yelped. “I thought your kind were weak against fire!”
“We are,” Scratchy snarled. “In fact I hurt all over. But I'm not letting you have the satisfaction of beating me. I will not lose to some random Cyndaquil who only just hopped out of a tree!”
“Blimey, you are a stubborn bugger aren't you?” The Cyndaquil shook its head in disbelief. “Fine. I guess I'll have to do something to counteract that attitude of yours!” Again the Fire type exhaled. But this time, instead of flame, thick black smoke emanated from its mouth, wrapping both pokémon in a shroud of darkness. “I'd like to see you survive much longer when you can't even see me!”
“Really. How pathetic.” Inwardly Scratchy was feeling very smug indeed. This was just the opportunity he had been waiting for. The opportunity to try out the latest trick in his arsenal. For he had been training himself, well away from everybody else, and he had finally tapped into his Hidden Power as a result. And now was the perfect time to see if it worked as well in battle as it did randomly being used in a secluded corner of the garden. The Paras narrowed his eyes, concentrating hard.

The smoke... the darkness... it was all his to command....

All of a sudden the smoke seemed to shift form, turning from mere billowing smog into something darker, more sinister. A shadow as black as a starless night. A shadow that constricted. And constricted. And constricted some more. Until is only existed at one single point, a small sphere just large enough to contain a single Cyndaquil.
“Ah! Let me out! Let me out! It's... it's choking me!”
“As you wish.” The experiment had been a success. Scratchy's mastery of Dark Hidden Power was complete. So he let his captive go, letting the Cyndaquil drop to the floor coughing and spluttering. It shot Scratchy one terrified glance and then sped away as fast as it possibly could. Leaving the Paras with just his satisfaction for company.

....and the desire to collapse that he had been fighting off since fighting through the Ember attack. All of a sudden his legs buckled underneath him and he fell to the floor, a sweet darkness overwhelming his senses. The fight, it seemed, had been far too much even for him. But at least he could call it a victory of sorts, right?

Scratchy wins!
Scratchy grew to L17!

“Ade! Ade, wake up, you lazy twat!” To be honest I could have thought of better things to wake up to than a more than an agitated Pandora. Actually, thinking about it most things were better to wake up to than an agitated Pandora. Trouble was never the best of starts to the morning. “Ade, this is, like, urgent and stuff, will you move or do I have to bite you awake?”
“I'm up! I'm up!”! I grumbled, sitting up in my sleeping bag and fumbling for my glasses. “What is it?”
“Well oh great and caring trainer it might interest you to know that our least favourite bug is passed out just outside the camp.” My Houndour scowled. “We should have never have let him keep watch on his own. This was almost inevitable.”
“Say what?” I groaned, my half-asleep brain still having trouble fitting the pieces together.
“Er, Scratchy. You know, the grouchy Paras? We just found him flat out outside the campsite. Do you want to have a look or shall we just leave him to rot?”
“What????”
“Ade, you heard. I'm not going to repeat myself just because you're feeling dozy.” Pandora fixed me with her best 'I'm going to kill somebody if you don't start paying attention' glare, a look she usually only reserved for when Milliardo was too busy bragging to notice what was going on around him. “Come on, I'll show you.”
“I'm right behind you.” Quickly grabbing a shirt and throwing it over my body I tore after my Houndour, anxious to find out what was going on. Hardly a minute later, of course, I found out exactly what the problem was. For indeed my Paras was collapse unconscious upon the ground, a worried cluster of his teammates surrounding him. What on earth had happened here?
“Scratchy?” I gasped, pushing through my pokémon to reach the fallen Paras. “Scratchy, what happened? Scratchy, speak to me!”
“Typical...” Slowly but surely my Bug-type opened one eye lazily, a familiar expression of contempt in his gaze even now. “Nobody actually bothers showing any concern until you're at the brink of death do they?”
“Brink of death?” Milliardo scoffed from the sidelines, having seen enough action to know the difference between a pokémon who was close to the end and a pokémon who had collapsed from exhaustion. “You wouldn't know what that was if it ran you over with a juggernaut.”
“Well you try being pummeled by a pokémon who in theory outclassed you in every way!”
“I've done that bit,” my Umbreon reminded Scratchy with a rather acidic tone in his voice. “Last time I lost a toe because of that sort of situation so if you want any sympathy from me kindly stop being such a drama queen. At least you're still in one piece.” There was a long silence. Even Scratchy, a pokémon who tended to care little for the feelings of anyone else, knew that continuing the conversation on this tangent probably wasn't the smartest of moves. Not only was Milliardo one of the most dangerous members of the team when riled but... well he had a point.
“Alright...” Scratchy sighed. “I got into a battle and wore myself out, okay? Now will you all stop fussing over me???”
“No can do, buddy,” I grinned. “Whether you like it or not I for one actually care for your wellbeing. Anyway...” After deliberately annoying my Paras by petting him on the head I got to my feet. “Who's for helping fix some breakfast now we're all up? It's a long way to go to Avelorn, after all.”

The Blue Avenger
3rd December 2005, 12:01 PM
Uhm... I'd like an RBG for 99, my Porygon2, from the Universal Adoption Center, please. *hands over 7 stamps*

Wolfsong
3rd December 2005, 03:06 PM
99 will be battleing a Wynaut ^^;;

Lady Vulpix
10th December 2005, 08:10 AM
Now that will be an odd battle! I'd like to see what the Wynaut can pull out.

Sorry for the delay, Ade, I had too much work... and a good book, I must admit, but I just had to read it! It was one of the books Amy recommended to me years ago and I'd been waiting for years to get my hands on it, so please accept my apologies.

Let's go through my handwritten comments in no particular order... I was impressed at the coincidences in our vision of Lady Ninetales. And I liked Pearl's attitude throughout the story; I always do, but this time wasn't the exception. I can relate to Soo's problem, and her sheer silliness made me laugh. Where can I get one of those magical supplies of marshmallows? And wow, someone remembers the bug scenario! The only scenario ever to be introduced with a bad pun! (I'm not afraid to mock I because I made it myself). As for Milliardoitis, you're right, it's contagious; everyone's coming up with witty retorts lately; Kasumi's was good, but Milliardo isn't really that old, he's younger than most of my team, I still remember his birth. And it was good to learn more about Scratchy, though I get the feeling this is only the beginning. He reminded me a bit of Ventura, though he's gone much further than she'd ever dream of down the self-censoring path. How long is your trip going to last, by the way? Take 22 stamps! ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

AntiAsh Superstar
12th December 2005, 04:44 AM
Why thankies, Gabi. Continuity-wise the trip is prolly only going to last about a week but I suspect the time it takes to write will be much longer than that. ^^;; As for your other comments... hehe, I pretty much remember every scenario I took part in even tho I'm a total ditz with other stuff - have you not noticed I play the obscure references to years-old events card a lot? ^_^ And yes Soo's silliness is ALWAYS chuckle-worthy, tho I really don't doubt that I chronicled events exactly as they would have happened had the non-story Soo access to a hyperactive pink Espeon.

btw, I asked for an RBG at the start of me story but nobody's granted it yet... bearing that in mind am I too late to change it to a double RBG with Scratchy and Marius against opponents from the Universal Adpotion centre? The way my intro's going atm is demanding Marius gets a slice of the action too. ^^;;

Lady Vulpix
12th December 2005, 05:11 AM
Oh, sorry, I thought Amy had granted it.

Scratchy and Marius will battle a Misdreavus and a Gligar.

I'm not going to rush you because you write at a speed I wouldn't even imagine if I hadn't witnessed it, but I'm planning to write a new scenario one of these days, when my little free time allows it.

The Blue Avenger
6th January 2006, 09:15 PM
Okay, this story is going to require a little bit of explanation. It's probably one of the most bizarre things I've ever written, and it rides the line of 'this shouldn't actually be happening' several times. If some things escape you, I apologize. Also, the games being referenced are, in order, Robopon 2 (GBA), Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS), Baten Kaitos (GCN), and Advance Wars (GBA). So, without further ado, enjoy "Hacked."

---

“This is ridiculous. I refuse,” the Porygon2 hissed sharply at the Pokemon standing in front of him.

“Aww, come on, 99!” Mona whined. “This is a mo… momento… er, huge undertaking in the advancement of internet sciences! Think of all of the practical applications! Trading and battling Pokemon suddenly become much easier! Pokemon who live across the country from their trainers could now see them in person! If you don’t do it, you’re just holding up scientific advancement, and that means that – ”

99 cut her off. “You are forgetting one vital thing. The Pokemon in question would all have to be Porygon or Porygon2. According to the latest census out of the Dragon’s Guild, less than 10 percent of trainers in Ulthuan have either of those. Thus, the applications of this system suddenly become much less practical.”

“Don’t be so serious all the time!” a voice spoke up from behind 99. He jumped and turned, finding the transparent Kurtzwick. “Why not just do it because it’s fun? I know I would.”

“Negative,” 99 replied. “You would do it so that you could empty someone’s bank account.” Kurtzwick scowled, but didn’t say anything to the contrary.

“Pleeease?” another voice called, this time from Anzu, sitting lazily on a lab table next to Kiva. “It’d mean so much…” She widened her eyes and stuck out her bottom lip.

Kiva chuckled quietly. “Now you’ve done it. No one can resist Anzu’s puppy-dog look.”

99 scanned the faces across the room and sighed. “All right. I will agree to your terms if you refrain from asking me to do it again.” Mona clapped her paws together and grinned as 99 floated across the otherwise empty laboratory. He landed in front of a computer terminal (modified for use by Pokemon), sitting next to a wide scanner.

Trezzatura, finally speaking up, floated next to him. “Okay, let’s get this thing started. 99, float above the scanner if you please.” 99 reluctantly levitated himself above the aforementioned scanner. “Now, Kiva, I need you to start up the scanner. Anzu, boot up the computer and get an active Internet connection.” Kiva jumped down from the table, followed shortly by Anzu. The former stopped near a complicated-looking control panel behind 99 and pressed an invitingly large red button. The scanner hummed softly to itself and began to glow a faint white. Meanwhile, Anzu expertly turned on the computer and quickly tapped into the cable modem.

“You ready, 99?” Trezzatura asked, a gleam in his eye.

“Affirmative,” 99 answered, betraying no emotion.

“Then let’s get things started.” Trezzatura threw down a switch on the control panel, and the scanner began to hum louder. The glow surrounding it began to shine even brighter, completely shrouding 99 from view. A slight hissing sound filled the otherwise silent room as the light eventually began to fade, leaving nobody on the scanner. On the computer screen, a small icon of a black-and-grey Porygon2 moved swiftly towards a browser icon. Upon reaching it, the 99 icon disappeared with a soft blip.

Kiva broke the silence first. “You guys do know Jeff’s gonna kill us for not having some way to keep in contact with 99, right?”

Anzu gave a sheepish grin. “Well, it’s too late for that now. All we can do is hope he gets back okay.”

***

Meanwhile, in the vast expanses of cyberspace, 99 floated solemnly. “Analysis,” he thought to himself. “For something with such a veritable wealth of information and constant activity, the Internet is very calm.” Indeed, it seemed very much like one would expect outer space to look: mostly dark and relatively isolated, with the occasional light or object breaking the monotony.

Suddenly, a large window popped up in front of him. He gasped sharply, but immediately calmed himself when he recognized what it was: a gigantic IM window. A message was written in blue on it, beginning with the name ThiefKurtzwick, and going on to say, “I’m assuming this is 99.”

“Hello, Kurtzwick,” 99 said, watching as his words appeared in the window. A small picture of Kurtzwick appeared in the corner, and the Dratini avatar grinned and nodded.

“Oy, 99, glad we found you. We suddenly realized that Jeff would kill us if anything happened to you, and then Trezzatura had the bright idea of using instant messenger… and since I’m the only one here with IM they let me talk to ya.”

“You have nothing to worry about,” 99 replied. “A careful analysis reveals that - ” He was cut short as the IM window disappeared in a crackle of electricity. Meanwhile, the few lights surrounding him extinguished themselves, leaving complete and total darkness that would have shrouded 99 even if he wasn’t black.

A low chuckle emanated from some point in front of 99, the darkness making it impossible to pinpoint. “So… there’s finally some prey up on this dusty old server,” a quiet voice hissed. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone around these parts. That much time… well… I’ve gotten a bit hungry…”

“Show yourself!” 99 growled.

“Gladly,” the voice said snidely. Suddenly, the entire area lit up with a dull green glow. A light green blob hung in the air in front of 99, a blob composed entirely of zeroes and ones. Another chuckle emanated from somewhere inside the blob. “Ooh, and you’re a Porygon2, as well… excellent. That just makes you all the more susceptible…”

99 narrowed his eyes and scanned the blob. A pop-up window jumped up near him and began to rapidly display text.

“Identification: Computer Virus
Class: 7
Abilities: Masking, stealing information, destroying files.”

The blob growled and extended one psuedopod, lashing it forward through the window. The pop-up fizzled and dissolved into green numbers with a noise much like acid reacting. “However, it would be unsporting to give you no chance,” the virus chuckled. “So, without further ado…” The blob began to shrink in size, giving off an intense green glow. When it had all but disappeared, the blob expanded into a different shape. The green light faded, revealing…

“Negative. Opponent can not be serious,” 99 mumbled. “Opponent can not be a Wynaut.”

However, the virus was: where a hideous green glob once floated, there then stood a cheerful Wynaut. It opened its eyes for a brief moment, revealing a sharp green glow. “Let’s go,” the virus hissed.

Battle time! 99 versus the Computer Virus (Wynaut Form)!
99 – “Target acquired. Initializing victory cycle.”
~
Computer Virus – “You’ll just be another meal!”

99 began to crackle with electrical energy, but was abruptly stopped by his opponent yelling, “Halt!” The Wynaut raised one arm, glowing with a faint green energy.

Suddenly, the world around 99 burst into life. The blank space surrounding the combatants began to fill with color, and several text boxes popped up beneath them. The background’s form eventually settled into a peaceful, grassy field. Tress decorated the scenery, and a few small, green, humanoid creatures with flowers on their heads peered out at the battle. The boxes turned a light blue and printed information: the one below 99 read, “99. Attack, Defend, Item, Escape,” with ‘Item’ and ‘Escape’ shaded out. One final blue box floated to above the field and began to roll like a slot machine.

Location: Kappa Village

99 scowled, obviously irritated. He focused on the menu and selected the word ‘Attack,’ which fanned out into two more options: ‘Software’ and ‘Basic Attack.’ He chose ‘Software,’ and yet another list popped up, this time displaying ‘Electric, Lightning, Copy.’

“Got the hang of it yet?” the virus asked from across the field, having already chosen its action. 99 refrained from answering, instead only glaring at the Wynaut. He selected Lightning, and 99 felt his body crackle with the familiar electrical energy. The energy culminated in a huge Thunderbolt, arcing majestically towards Wynaut. The virus didn’t counter, instead choosing only to adopt a defensive stance as the bolt struck it.

“Well… so you do have some fight in you!” Wynaut smirked, smoldering slightly. “But how will you withstand my ultimate attack?”

“Easily,” 99 said coldly. “Wynaut are capable of Mirror Coat, Counter, Splash, Charm, Destiny Bond, Safeguard, and Encore. I am capable of handling any of those at this moment.”

“Wrong, boy!” the virus snickered. “How about Psychoboost?”

“Impossible.”

“Or is it? I am a virus, you know…”

99 considered this. “All right. I will prepare for that eventuality,” he mumbled to himself. He flew through the menus again, this time selecting ‘Copy.’ He glowed a bright white, and a purple light flew from Wynaut to himself. “The Conversion operation will protect me from Psychic attacks,” 99 said.

The virus didn’t speak, instead only laughing. It began to clap its arms together rhythmically… The sound drowned out all of the background noise, and the rhythmic movement of the Wynaut’s arms drew 99’s focus. One thought began to repeat in his head, over and over again: “Conversion.” 99 slowly went through the menus, again selecting Copy. The familiar light filled the arena, this time failing to do anything.

Meanwhile, Wynaut just smiled to itself. It shrouded itself in a white veil, which vanished from sight immediately. 99 Converted again, still failing to accomplish anything. The virus took the opportunity to wink at the Porygon2, small hearts surrounding both Pokemon.

“What is this?” 99 thought to himself. “Target appears… cute…” He scowled and shook his head. “Encore sequence ended.” He cycled through the menu again, this time selecting ‘Basic Attack.’

“Tackle, eh?” Wynaut chuckled. “What do you think that will do? Your attack power is in shreds!”

“Do not mock me,” 99 replied solemnly. He launched himself at the virus, but directly before impact, he froze… along with the rest of the world. “What is this treachery?” he thought furiously. Without warning, the blue slot machine box above him floated down to his level and halted its spin, revealing one word in glowing yellow letters: “Jackpot!” The slot rolled down one square, revealing a different phrase: “Double Damage!” The box glowed white and disappeared; the light flowed into 99 as the world regained its motion. A white brilliance emanated from the Porygon2 as he slammed into the Wynaut, the fear evident in the virus’s eyes.

“Wait… wait!” it stuttered, before raising one arm, swathed in an eerie green glow. The green light grew steadily larger, before it cloaked the entire area. It quickly disappeared, however, leaving 99 and the virus in yet another location. It appeared to be a large stadium with a stage in the middle, the stage empty save for the two Pokemon. The seats surrounding it were filled with small, purple, mushroom-like creatures. They cheered loudly as 99 and the virus adopted fighting stances. Four cubes, each one a separate color, appeared above 99’s head. One was labeled Attack, the next Sp. Attack, the third Item, and the fourth Run, with the third and the fourth shaded gray.

Location: Koopaseum

The crowd began to cheer even louder as a few of their members held up a cardboard sign: on it was a picture of a Wynaut. Several more audience members pulled out large, red-and-white mushrooms and passed them across to the sign-holders, who in turn grabbed them and tossed them down to the virus.

The Wynaut sighed as he quickly ate the fungi. “Aah… much better. I’ll win this yet!” it said smugly.

99 squinted and turned to look at the blocks above him. Experimentally, he tapped the one labeled ‘Attack’ with his beak. The blocks disappeared and were replaced with a red arrow, floating over Wynaut, as well as a single block labeled ‘Confirm’ floating over 99. He tapped the single remaining block, and found himself rushing over to Tackle the virus again.

“Uh-uh-uh…” the virus said, grinning. Just before 99 reached it, the Wynaut, amazingly, pulled a mallet out from behind its back. It held the hammer high above its head and brought it down with a swift ‘thud’ on 99’s head. 99 stumbled back and moaned. “That, my dear prey, was what we call a ‘hammer counter.’ Appropriate, right?”

Just then, the crowd let out another loud cheer. This time, they held up a sign of a black-and-gray Porygon2. 99 sighed. “Finally,” he thought, “maybe I can get healed a little…” Several audience members pulled out mushrooms, this time colored purple and blue, and passed them to the sign carriers, who again threw them down at the virus. This time, Wynaut hit each of them like a golf ball with its mallet; they flew over to 99, his mouth open wide…

…but instead of the nourishing mushrooms that had been passed out earlier, these were as hard as rock. They collided with the virtual Pokemon with a sickening thump; 99 recoiled, his natural levitating abilities beginning to give way.

“Aww, has ickle Porygon got a boo-boo?” Wynaut taunted. 99 grimaced and weakly reached up to tap one of the blocks again. He slowly lifted up his head and fired a few small rings of electricity at the virus, who tried to block the attack with its mallet to no avail. “What the heck kinda attack was that? You’ve forgotten: I have a Safeguard up!” Wynaut said, smirking. “No matter. I can sense that you’re at the end of the line. This will be over soon.”

However, as if to contradict it, the audience began to cheer: they again held up 99’s picture, but this time passed the regular red-and-white mushrooms straight to him. 99 ate them haltingly, and after a few moments, he floated back up in the air.

“Conclusion: cease talking and finish match,” 99 muttered.

“Aheheh…” the Wynaut chuckled. “Of course. This wouldn’t be any fun if you went down that easily.” He raised one arm and again enveloped the area in a green glow, and, once again, when it cleared, they were in an entirely different setting – a dark forest, entirely unremarkable except for the small, stinger-tailed dragons taking roost in the trees.

Location: Moonguile Forest

“I’ll roll you up!” the virus shouted gleefully as it leered at 99.

99 reared back to charge at his foe, but was suddenly halted when a row of cards, of all things, popped up in front of him. There were 5 cards: one was a picture of a sword, one was labeled ‘Shock Bolt,’ one was labeled ‘Shock Bolt II,’ and the final two were ‘Shift’ one and two. He looked at the cards, then glared at the virus. “You can not be serious. Card battling is an old and dated way of conducting serious matches.”

“Oh, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” the virus replied slyly.

99 frowned and pecked one of the cards with his beak – Shock Bolt II. Suddenly, he found himself rising into the air, surrounding by a blue glow, and he felt compelled to yell “Shock Bolt!” The blue glow changed into a bolt-like form, and zapped toward the Wynaut…

…who calmly selected one card in front of it and let it light up, its glow washing over its body. The Thunderbolt struck it, but when it fizzled, the Wynaut looked completely unharmed. Instead, it just held up the same card again, and the Thunderbolt reappeared, this time headed for 99. His eyes widened, and he hurriedly picked out a new card. The card began to glow, and 99 slowly began to turn a shade of brown. The Thunderbolt struck, but just like the Wynaut, 99 was unharmed.

“Oh-ho,” the virus chuckled. “Using a Conversion attack to avoid my Mirror Coat. Clever.” The row of cards flew back into a larger stack of cards beside it, as the words “Shuffling the Deck” appeared in cursive above its head. “But let’s see how you handle…” It paused and surveyed the new hand it had drawn. “What? This hand is horrible! I got 5 Splash cards!”

“Isn’t that a shame,” 99 replied in a monotone. “And here I am, with a fresh Thunderbolt.” He selected the card and sent off another bolt of electricity; this time, it hit spot-on before the Wynaut could counter it. Wynaut flew back, sizzling and extra-crispy. It slowly stood back up and coughed up a cloud of soot.

“Ugh… okay, look, I know when I’m beaten,” the virus mumbled, sounding pained. He raised his arm. “Truce?”

99 paused before answering. “Calculate odds that virus is lying,” he muttered to himself. “Factor in damage to virus and health of its foe, i.e. me… there is a 26:1 chance that it does not intend a truce. Conclusion: take offer.” He looked up at the Wynaut. “Affirmative, fighting will - ” His sentence was drawn to a halt as he realized that the Wynaut was glowing green.

“Sucker,” it grinned. “All I need is one more round, and I can take you down!” The green glow once again obscured the entire area. When it cleared, 99 found himself hovering high over what appeared to be a cross between a chessboard and a world map. Several people and machines stood on the ground, all separated into two colors: red and gray. They looked vaguely disproportionate, as if they were toys.

Location: Orange Star countryside

99 frowned. This was a type of battle where he couldn’t immediately see what to do. He leaned back and started to charge at the Wynaut, but he stopped when he realized that some of the people on the ground had responded to his action: a group of the red-clothed soldiers moved ahead and fired rifles at a group of the gray soldiers. Some of the grays fell over and disappeared. 99 turned his attention back to his opponent, who was glowing white. Back on the ground, the remaining gray soldiers in the group fired back on the red ones, knocking them all down. As each of the soldiers disappeared, 99 felt a sharp jolt of pain… almost as if they were damaging him.

“Do you get it yet?” Wynaut asked. “Those soldiers represent us. And with my superior skill at war games and counter-attacking, I’ll stomp you!”

99 frowned as a legion of the gray soldiers in tanks surrounding an unlucky pair of the red ones. The red ones fired at them, but the tanks shrugged the hit off and fired back. 99 felt another sharp jolt, as if he had been punched in the gut.

***

Meanwhile, in an entirely different world, Jeff sat down on his bed and opened his laptop. As it booted up, he cradled his head. The barracks had become very noisy lately, ever since he brought that Solarbeam TM home… as it was, Bobbery, Groviglio, and Mercandos were fighting over it. Anyone who’s ever listened to any one of them could vouch for how loud they could be, but the three of them could be a force to be reckoned with.

The computer finished booting up, and Jeff pulled out a pair of headphones, plugging them into the computer. He sighed and put on some music, which was unfortunately just quiet enough to avoid drowning out the bickering Pokemon.

“Let’s see what going on in the news today…” he mumbled quietly, clicking on the Internet link to Ulthuan’s daily news service. Suddenly, his screen flashed green, totally obscuring any news that may have happened. The light cleared, and Jeff saw a screen very much like a chessboard overlaid on a map: small soldiers were scattered all over the board, with gray ones greatly outnumbering the red ones. He scrolled the screen up, and saw a very familiar Porygon2 alongside an undeniably creepy Wynaut. Jeff paused, calmly shut down the laptop, and stood up. Suddenly, Kurtzwick’s cryptic comment that morning made much more sense.

”Hey, Jeff, we’re gonna go do some experiments with 99 about the Internet. Later.”

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t terribly cryptic.

Jeff grabbed his knapsack, snatched the TM out from the center of the argument, and dashed out the door.

***

A few mere moments later, a very out-of-breath Jeff arrived at the lab. He barreled past Kurtzwick and Trezzatura and placed the TM on the scanner. He flipped the switch, watched the TM disappear, and then turned back around to berate his teammates.

***

99 watched resignedly as the gray soldiers eliminated one more red soldier. He didn’t have much choice; the Wynaut kept him in a perpetual Encore of Tackles, allowing the gray soldiers to counterattack and pick off his weakened red team. Suddenly, a brilliant white glow alerted both combatants to a new presence: when it faded, a small light green cube floated in front of 99. It burst, scattering a green dust all over the Porygon2, which immediately disappeared. At the same time, 99 noticed a small meter over his head, which read 99 and had a small row of stars at the bottom, had completely lit up. He tapped the meter somewhat painfully, and it disappeared, only to be replaced by the phrase “CO Power.” 99 turned to the Wynaut, who had backed up, quivering.

“N-no! That’s cheating! You can’t do that!” it whined.

“Observation: computer virus is a coward. Solution: elimination,” 99 clicked as a beam of sunlight appeared from nowhere and absorbed itself into his body. After a few moments, the beam, reborn as a powerful green-and-yellow blast, shot forth, plowing straight into the Wynaut. 99 glanced down at the field, and noticed that the sole remaining red soldier had managed to KO every last gray one.

“The pain is… horrendous…” the virus moaned. “I am… done for.” With that elegant parting phrase, the Wynaut transformed slowly back into its original, blob-like form, and dissipated.

Battle over! 99 gains a level! 99 has learned Solarbeam!

Immediately after the virus vanished, 99 felt his body begin to fade away as well. He closed his eyes as the world around him melted away…

…and when he opened them again, he was floating in front of Jeff, back in the lab. Everyone in it (with the exception of the trainer) looked thoroughly embarrassed.

“99! Are you okay?” Jeff exclaimed upon seeing him.

“…Affirmative,” 99 replied after a pause. “However, I have no desire to go back any time soon.”

“That’s okay, nobody will force you,” Jeff said, ignoring a disappointed groan from Kurtzwick and Mona. “Now, let’s head back.” With that said, the team exited the lab against the backdrop of a setting sun.

Skye
6th January 2006, 11:07 PM
Hn, I was wondering if I could get a few things. First, I would like an extension for this scenario, it sounds too interesting to pass up. second, I would like to see if I could get a refund for my RBG of Rayne against a Poochyena (Page 3). Thirdly and lastly, I would like a 2 on 2 RBG for Menos and Radek at the Caledor's Nature Protection Agency. Please and thank you. ^^; *pays 14 Stamps*

Lady Vulpix
7th January 2006, 04:33 AM
Darkfire: you get the extension, and your pokemon will battle a Growlithe and a Trapinch. As for the refund... they're not contemplated in the rules, so for now I'll have to say no, sorry. I'll discuss the issue with the others when I can find them, but I don't promise any changes.

Jeff: yes, it was inded odd. Now that I think of it, it reminds me of Reboot. 99 speaks funny, by the way. Is ThiefKurtzwick a real AIM account? How does he manage to type? Take 13 stamps. ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

The Blue Avenger
7th January 2006, 08:44 AM
ThiefKurtzwick is a real account, yes. Had it registered solely for this story. And as for how he can type, I believe that's filed alongside "how can he carry things with no arms?" Nobody knows as of yet except for Kurtzwick himself. ;)

Wolfsong
7th January 2006, 10:37 AM
Sorry just wanted to get the first part of the story for the previous scenario done before I had to go out of town. I’ll try to get the other part finished during or after my trip which is hopefully lasting only one night. Had some trouble getting started writing and I haven’t been able to write for fun in a while so bear with me if I seem rusty. I also had trouble getting started so I just started forcing myself to write and towards the end it was getting easier. Also I though I was supposed to leave Sunday and stay till Monday but I’m supposed to go tomorrow afternoon and I’ll most likely be back Sunday night unless the weather gets bad.

Before story notes: I gave Ebony the Blaze Kick Tm that I have had in my possession for a while now. I also gave Jasmine the slam Tm that I had bought from Darkfire. I also bought then traded a hidden power tm to becca for her aurora beam tm that I gave to Colby. Darin evolved at the eevee house where he got a psychic tm from becca and Ares as a late birthday present. As far as the character’s colors, Darin now has the color purple, Tiny – maroon, Colby – Navy, and Ebony – black. Last but not lease I shuffled a few items around. I took the gold berries from sweetie and jasmine and gave them stat modification dies. I also gave one of those stat modification dies to flame. I bought a collar for tiny and gave Colby the beach ball that I had. Ebony also gets the earring that I had. I also bought blazer a crunch tm. I’ve decided to give Darin the psycho boost and mind reader tms that I had.


(Amy’s POV)

I sighed, rubbing my temples as I watched the tape of Armand DiAnnio’s broadcast that Flame had recorded. It just so happened that the broadcast had aired when I was returning from what seemed like my first vacation in ages. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t even that much of a vacation. It was basically a three day trip home to visit my parents as well as meeting up with an old friend. She was taking a new job and wanted to see me before she moved. We had grown up together. Anyways, I didn’t see the broadcast because the plane that I had taken didn’t have a TV on it. With everything that had been going on, I had asked my team their opinion before I had made arrangements for my trip. They had all agreed that I should go though Darin had been unusually quiet. At the time, I just figured that hew as still trying to adjust to being an espeon.

Anyways time to get back to the present. I immediately knew that something was up by the looks on my team’s face when I walked in the door. They quickly filled me in on what had happened while I was gone as well as showing me the message that had aired while I was on the airplane. I shook my head as I hurried into the den and turned on my computer. As soon as I could, I signed on to the internet and began checking my messages. Sure enough, there were plenty of them. To make things worse, I had even missed a meeting. I was just about to log off of the computer when I was alerted to an instant message. It was Gabi. She basically filled me in on what I had missed and told me what she knew about the plan. When she asked me which wave I was going with, I admitted that I didn’t know at the time.


* * *


(Kiara’s POV)

After Amy had finished with the computer, she logged off. After which, we had a team discussion where it was decided that Amy, Kovu, Sweetie, Yana, Dodger, and myself would go with the first wave. Flame, Blazer, Sugar, and Talut were going with the second wave. It was also agreed upon that Jasmine, Colby, Tiny, Ebony, Sinopa, and Darin would stay at home.

Once we had decided on who was going with which wave Amy set about making the necessary calls. When she had finished with the calls, she checked her pack to see if she had the necessary supplies before she headed off to bed. The plane ride had tired her out and who knew how late we would be up tomorrow. Most of the team decided to follow Amy’s lead. Before I headed to bed, I checked in on Darin and the others that were staying home and I had to smile. They had gone through Amy’s stack of movies and pulled out all the comedies that she owned and were beginning to watch them.


* * *

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was glad that Caledor was here with me. As we walked, I glanced over at the espeon beside me and smiled briefly. Pretty soon it was time for the stun spore group to do their part. At first, I was surprised to see that Kovu had joined them but it wasn’t long before I remembered that he knew how to use the move mimic.

“I was expecting chaos, but not so soon. What should we do?” Caledor asked.

“I guess we make do the best we can under these circumstances.” I answered as I looked around. It really was complete and utter chaos. I shook my head slowly.

Amber was the next to speak. I don’t think it will be long before some Crimson Blades can breach the barrier. Maybe we should go ahead and try to strike first.” She suggested. The two charizards took off but were quickly met by a pair of altarias.

From somewhere in the crowd behind the stun spore line came a female’s voice. She seemed to be shouting commands at the two altarias that were trying to force the stun spore towards us but ultimately failing. “It’s not working. Take down the charizards and make room for Briar to walk through.”

“Any ideas on what we should do?” I asked.
“I think we should go ahead and try to stop this Briar, whoever it is.” Caledor suggested. I nodded my head in agreement. “Good idea.” I told him.

Amy turned to look at us. I’m going ahead to see if I can see what kind of pokemon this Briar is.” Sweetie stepped forward. “I’m not letting you go alone. I’m coming with you.” Amy nodded her head in acceptance before turning to look at the rest of our small little group. “All right. Anyone else?”When no one else volunteered, the two of them took off.

I was watching Amy and Sweetie so I failed to see the altaria until a split second before it hit Caledor. Even then I only managed to catch a brief glimpse of blue and white out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head in time to see Caledor hit it with a psychic blast. Shortly after that, Amber arrived. Glancing back in the direction that the altaria had came from, which happened to be the same one that Amy and Sweetie had been heading towards, I saw a large venusaur forcibly making its way through the crowd. That must be Briar I thought to myself.

My mouth dropped open when I saw a cloud of light blue spores heading towards Amy and Sweetie. To my horror the two of them collapsed to the ground, sound asleep. Thinking quickly, I turned to face Caledor. “Caledor, can you use a fire attack on me?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter which one.”

“Sure!” Caledor agreed. He then began to glow red before launching a flamethrower at me. I felt the temperature of my body rise powering up my fire attacks as my flash fire ability was activated. “Thanks.” I called over my shoulder as I ran forwards and placed myself between Briar and the sleeping forms of Amy and Sweetie. “Anytime!” I heard him say.


Kiara L.44 F Flareon Vs. Briar L.45 M Venusaur

As I stared at him, I quickly realized that he hadn’t noticed me yet so I decided to make the most of my brief advantage. I quickly used double team and I had six clones effectively surrounding Briar in a circle. Needless to say, it was hard for Briar not to notice me now.

I wasn’t prepared for the speed with which Briar was moving. Two vines shot out from the underside of the flower on his back and slammed into the clone that was closest to me on my right. That was close, I thought to myself as I took a deep breath before exhaling a swirling cyclone of flames that enveloped Briar and trapped him.

I heard a whooshing sound shortly before a flurry of leaves shot out from the innards of the fire spin. As I watched, the leaves tore through one clone after the other before slamming into me. I did the best that I could to focus my energies on the battle that I was currently in. I knew that I couldn’t afford a single mistake.

The next object to come hurtling out of the fire spin was a sludge bomb. I tried to jump out of the way, but I was positive that it was going to hit. Then, all of a sudden, things seemed like they were moving in slow motion and I managed to avoid getting pelted by the sticky sludge. I was confused at first, but quickly figured out that it must have been because of the detect move that I knew.

As I watched, the fire spin faded from sight revealing an angry venusaur. With a mighty roar, three seeds shot out of the flower on his back and hit me. I gasped in surprise as the seeds buried themselves within my fur and slowly began to sap my health. My fur began crackling with electricity as I concentrated on my hidden power and soon a lightning bolt shot from my mane and struck Briar.

A familiar cloud of light blue spores was heading straight towards me. My eyes widened as I used all the speed that I had in my body to propel myself out of the attack’s path.

Briar just smirked at me. I eyed him warily, wondering what he was planning. It wasn’t long before I found out. Where only a minute ago a single venusaur had stood, there were now two. I took a deep breath before using fire blast. Unfortunately, my attack hit the only clone.

Briar began laughing as he stomped the ground and within seconds the earth began to shake. Almost immediately, I was knocked off my paws. I knew that I was going to be sore tomorrow from the way I was being bounced around. Finally, the earth stopped shaking. If it hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer.

Weakly, I climbed to my paws. When I looked up, Briar was charging towards me. I took a deep breath before exhaling a huge star shaped wall of flames that slammed into Briar. He was immediately knocked unconscious but his momentum was still carrying him forwards. I quick attacked out o the way and stood there on wobbling legs.


I won!
I grew to L.46

I’ll try to get the second battle for this scenario done soon, but I would like an extension for the current scenario please, and I’ll see everyone hopefully Sunday night.

Ace64
9th January 2006, 03:23 PM
I'm not sure whether this scenario is going to change soon or not, but I'd like to know if I could get an extension. Might as well try my hand at this battle thing, and see how I do.

Lady Vulpix
15th January 2006, 04:01 PM
Ace, you get the extension.

The scenario will change by the end of the upcoming week.

Amy, take 7 stamps for your battle. Sorry for the delay. ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢
By the way, you said something about Amber and then said the two Charizards took off, but never mentioned who the other was. I think adding some more detail would improve your stories.

Skye
15th January 2006, 08:15 PM
Notes -
1. Crappy
2. I'm mad cause I lost my floppy disk with the original battle on it
3. All Pokemon legally adopted/bred...
4. At least it's done, lol
5. ... Hola?

"Maybe it was the other way," a voice admitted grudgingly.

"Maybe?" pressed a similar but softer voice.

"Okay, we should have taken a left, so sue me,"

"Well, we need to go back,"

"And we’re going to get past the giant boulders… how…?" the first voice replied with bitter sarcasm.

"Okay," the winged serpent sighed, gliding effortlessly next to a human woman. "Maybe we can find our way around."

"Around? Hah, I’d rather see if this trail leads to Sector Alpha on its own," replied a voice from the woman’s backpack. Shortly after his comment, a second serpent poked his head out of the woman’s bag. "Darkfire, can I have a Berry?"

"No, Radek. Menos, why don’t you fly up and see what’s ahead?" the woman asked, for once getting say in where they were traveling. The winged Dratini nodded his head and flapped his great wings to catch a sudden thermal that had arisen. Soon, he was soaring high overhead. Darkfire stopped and felt something walk into her leg. Drystan muttered a soft apology and yawned, feeling drowsy from the long trek.

"It’s alright, we’re all getting affected by the traveling," Darkfire knelt down and stroked the Bagon’s head softly. Radek yawned in response, and Darkfire yawned as well. Drystan chuckled softly at the chain reaction and all of them watched as Menos began to descend from the sky.

Feeling refreshed, he rested on the ground next to Drystan and opened his mouth to begin his report when he yawned. He looked at them for a moment, suspicious as everyone chuckled.

“We are about three days away from Sector Alpha if we stay on this path,” he turned in the soft snow and began to sketch a map with the tip of his tail while everyone watched. “Though we will have to brush across some more mountains. Thankfully, they appear to be more stable, so the chances of another rockslide are slim to none.” He concluded, drawing incomplete triangles to symbolize what he was talking about, and a city off to the side.

Darkfire nodded thoughtfully as she looked at the map. “Good work, Menos,” she praised him. He shrugged his wings and tucked them against his sides, tired of flying. Darkfire crouched down so Radek could slither out of her bag and down her arm. Soon he was next to his brother. They looked like twins, one an angel and one a devil. Radek had always said he was the devil of the group, and Darkfire had to agree. He was a vicious joker, sometimes pulling nearly dangerous pranks. But she knew his father well, and knew he was a lot like him.

One thing she knew was that if you scolded him for his pranks, he wouldn’t listen. Instead, he would get angry and lash out furiously in his training exercises until he had calmed down. Then he would go back to his carefree, sarcastic lifestyle without even giving it a thought. In fact, he had held grudges, long and vicious, against Darkfire for taking away his fun. They were in friendly territory again, but she didn’t understand where he was coming from. It was as if he just couldn’t recognize just how dangerous some of his games were. His twin brother was the exact opposite.

The angel, Menos passively watched his brother pull his pranks, advising him against it to little effect. However, Menos was the only one who Radek had never held a grudge against, and probably never would. They were closer than Darkfire could understand. They cared deeply for each other, even though Menos never showed it and Radek was too wild to openly admit to it. However, neither denied it either.

Darkfire straightened and resumed the trek to Sector Alpha, Drystan following at a walk and the Dratini twins following at a hypnotic glide across the otherwise prefect snow. The cold powder eventually gave way to rocks and hard, icy stone that bit into the Dratinis’ tender underbellies and the climbs soon began to exhaust Drystan’s short legs and arms. Darkfire managed to convince the Bagon to rest in his Pokéball, but could not convince the Dratinis to return. They followed stubbornly until Radek had to crawl unto Darkfire’s shoulders and Menos had to take wing again.

Hours later, as the sun reached its zenith, they arrived on a plateau devoid of snow and ice and took a break for lunch. Darkfire released Drystan and examined the scratched on the Dratinis’ bellies. No one was hurt enough to bleed and refused her help once again. With a sigh, she pulled out a sandwich for herself and snacks for her Pokémon. They accepted the food, at least.

Soon, a clattering was heard as a Growlithe and Trapinch climbed up on the plateau as well, a large egg in the Trapinch’s mouth. He set the egg down, both Pokémon oblivious to the fact they were being watched. The Growlithe turned to the egg and breathed in deeply before the Trapinch stepped in front of her.

“What are you doing? We can’t cook the egg like that. We need to hard boil it,” he growled. The Growlithe snorted.

“Scrambled is much better than hard boiled. And where are we going to get water, Mr. Genius?” she retorted.

“Somewhere. We got the egg, didn’t we?” he then noticed the human and Pokémon not native to this part of Ulthuan. “What are you doing here? Go away, shoo!”

Darkfire had heard enough. That egg belonged to a pair of frightened parents, and those poachers were preparing to eat it. “Give me that egg,” she demanded, putting her lunch aside. Menos and Drystan got up to show their support while Radek resumed eating. He didn’t really seem to care, but to Darkfire’s eye she saw him watching the egg with extreme interest.

“No way,” the Trapinch seemed very young, maybe not that much older than the Dratinis. He stepped close to the egg, but leapt away when a blast of ice was shot at him. He glared at the patch of ice, then at Radek, who moved arrogantly up beside his brother.

“Let’s rock their world,” he smirked, eager for his very first battle. Menos nodded and Drystan backed down, not wanting to cheat in battle and make it a three against two. He was almost too honest for his own good.


Menos and Radek Level 5 Vs. Trapinch and Growlithe Level 5

Menos flew up high and dove at the Trapinch, who countered with a large Gust. Menos cried out, shocked, as he was sucked into the tornado and thrown around. He crashed into the ground and skidded into this brother, who had been charging a powerful Ice Beam. Radek lost control and released his Ice Beam and missed by yards.

Growlithe laughed and advanced, beginning to give off waves of heat until even Menos was flinching from the temperature. She opened her mouth and out poured a tsunami of flames what reared up and crashed down onto the Dratini. Menos screamed out in pain from the Heat Wave, his beautiful wings singed badly. Radek wrapped himself protectively around his brother as they endured the powerful Fire attack. When it was done, Menos was lying very still, his wing charred and smoking.

“Menos… Menos!” Radek shouted, scared. It was the first time Darkfire had seen him look so afraid. He nosed his brother, not seeming to notice his own burns. Menos gave a soft whine but didn’t open his eyes, in too much pain.

Growlithe laughed loudly. “Now THAT’s a cooked snake, Sige!” she sneered cruelly. The Trapinch observed the now sobbing Radek with grim, uncertain eyes. Darkfire figured he must be Sige.

“Damn you!” he cried, tears streaming down his face and eyes blazing with hatred. He fired a hard Ice Beam suddenly, knocking into Sige hard and blasting him off of the edge of the plateau. The Trapinch screamed, then was suddenly silent as he met the end of his fall. Now he faced the Growlithe, eyes narrowed coldly. Her arrogant smirk was gone, replaced by fear of the Dragon what would kill in battle.

“Now, easy there,” she began and barely dodged an Ice Beam. She backed away as he advanced, looking scared now. She opened her mouth and fired another Heat Wave at him, giving him the full blast of the attack. Only by sheer will was he able to pull through the attack. He glared angrily and opened his mouth to deliver the strongest attack he had ever used.

A beam of ice shot at Growlithe, freezing her to the spot. The impact was just enough to knock her out, and freeze her to the ground so she wouldn’t go over the cliff. Radek let the power of his Ice Beam dwindle into nothingness as he looked back and saw Menos sitting up with a weak grin on his face.

Radek grew to Level 6!
Menos grew to Level 6!

The brothers went to each other and nosed the other’s wounds while Drystan recovered the egg. Darkfire, however, went to the edge of the icy summit and peered over at the Trapinch, Sige. He was lying at the bottom, scratched up and unconscious. Worried, she slid down the bank and climbed over to him.

Sige opened his eyes and tried to crawl away. “Hush, Sige. I’m going to help you,” Darkfire soothed him. He probably wasn’t a bad Pokémon at all, unlike that Growlithe. He held still as she picked him up. Then he gave a pained cry as she cradled him against her chest. He was pretty badly hurt, but nothing life threatening from what she could tell. At least not immediately.

Drystan watched her climb back up over the edge of the plateau, holding the wounded Trapinch in one arm. Her strength always surprised him. She had been a horse trainer back in a land called America, and she had picked up good habits training these horses. He hoped they would help her train them. Training horses and training Pokémon couldn’t be that different, could it?

“How is the egg?” Darkfire asked as she laid Sige next to it. The Trapinch looked guiltily at the egg and closed his eyes in shame. Drystan kept his eyes on the Trapinch as he replied,

“It’s about ready to hatch,” the Bagon replied. Sige sighed and Darkfire began to bandage his wounds. A few gashes were deep, but nothing was broken, torn, or otherwise damaged beyond the ability of time and rest to repair.

“Alright,” she said finally. “You’re all ready to go.”

“Thank you, ma’am…” he murmured, not looking up to moving right that second. She nodded and headed over to Menos and Radek, noticing that they had gotten their Shed Skin abilities to work. Patches of old, burnt scales and charred feathers littered the ground, and both Pokémon shone with their new flesh and feathers. Darkfire smiled at them.

“Good battle, you guys… Radek, you really ought to try to control your temper a tad more,” she added.

“Temper? What temper?” Radek stretched himself as if he had never worried over his brother. “Why did you help that… bug?” he added a sneer of disgust at Sige, who was just getting up. Menos sighed, things were back to normal.

“Because we must know how to be kind to one another,” Darkfire replied. “I’m sure Sige is a good Pokémon at heart, he’s just a little misguided.”

“Feh, I should throw him off the cliff again!” Radek threatened, but the threat was empty. Still, Sige cringed away from Radek and actually hid behind Drystan.

“Ignore him,” the Bagon advised the Trapinch. “He’s a great windbag.”

“Windbag!” a few unmentionable words and threats accompanied Radek’s trademark outburst of anger. Sige flinched again. Suddenly, the egg near Drystan began to crack. Everyone gathered around and murmured excitedly, all but Sige, as a tiny Charmander rolled out of the egg shell. He opened his tiny eyes and looked right up at Darkfire. He crawled over to her and lay across her foot, just tiny enough to do so.

“Awe,” she crooned and stroked the baby gently. He nipped at her fingers playfully, wagging a tail with a small flame already burning on the end of it. “I think I’ll name him Matthias.”

Menos rolled his eyes. Darkfire would take in anything that looked cute. Any chance that they had had of returning the baby to his parents had obviously vanished. For now, it was a member of the team, whether he wanted to be or not. He had imprinted on Darkfire now, and had her scent all over himself. No parent would be able to distinguish the child, and if it was a wild Pokémon it might not even take him back if it could.

“Uh… human?” Sige asked, turning to face Darkfire.

“Yeah?”

“Could I join you…? I want to get stronger,” he added swiftly as if Darkfire would say no on the spot without an explanation. His relief was evident when she nodded.

“Of course. Welcome to the team, Sige. We’re on out way to Sector Alpha to join the Dragon’s Guild.”

“Sounds promising,” the Trapinch nodded. “I know a path that leads through a forest to a human city. It might be Sector Alpha.”

“Then let’s go!” Darkfire cheered. She offered Sige a shiny new Pokéball and smiled when he went in without a fight. Now a new friend was on their team.

Lady Vulpix
19th January 2006, 03:53 PM
Nice start, Darkfire. Sorry to hear that you lost the old version, but the new one was good. By the way, your new character seems to be very different from the old Darkfire. Even though she mentioned knowing the Dratinis' father; will we hear more about him? And it was a bit strange when she said "we must know how to be kind to one another", it felt like she was helping Sige out of obligation and not because she wanted to. Was that intentional? And how did she understand Sige's words?, does she have psychic abilities or something? Or is it something we'll get to know as the story progresses? Take 12 stamps. ¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢¢

Ah, and hola. :)

Skye
19th January 2006, 04:50 PM
Muchas gracias. Yes, she is what the real Darkfire is like, and VERY much different than the last time I was trying this out. We'll more than likely see, if not hear, from Rayne soon. Maybe in a few chapters. Yes, I still consider each entry as a chapter. ^^; I'm just not writing them out like one. And that wasn't intentional that she sounded like it was an obligation. I was thinking that it was more of a required moral or something. ^^; And you'll learn about her abilities soon, or luck rather. I like to write my stories so that they unravel slowly. The only reason no one is shocked about her ability yet is Sige was still recovering from the attack and Growlithe didn't notice, Matthias is too young to understand what's happening and the twins are used to it already.

Anyway, I'm a day early but I would like another RBG for Drystan my Bagon at Caledor's Nature Protection Agency please. It might take a few RBGs to lead up to the scenario since a lot is going to happen between the mountains and Sector Alpha. ^^ *pays 7 Stamps and keeps 5*

Wolfsong
21st January 2006, 02:03 AM
Drystan will be battling a vulpix

Lady Vulpix
22nd January 2006, 09:14 AM
Since at least one person has a pending extension for the Crimson Blades scenario, I'm going to postpone the next scenario until tomorrow. Please contact me if you have any problems reaching the deadline. Otherwise the scenario will change in approximately 19-20 hours from now.

Lady Vulpix
23rd January 2006, 05:04 AM
Alright, the time has come. Sorry about your extension, Amy. I hope you can get back to writing soon. Maybe you can wrap things upa little in your next story, making a short recap of what happened to Yana at the Crimson Blades base.

ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸ ¸,ø¤º°`°º¤

The time came when it was impossible to put it off. The break had been taken, the reconstruction was mostly over, the reports on the war had been filed and everything was running smoothly once more. To most people in Ulthuan, and especially in Sector Alpha, that meant life was going back to normal. To a few Dragon Tamers and Dragon's Guild members, it meant it was time to go on yet another dangerous mission, with little to no information regarding what they would find.

Gabi made the call, just like in the old times. It had been her idea, after all, and she was the one in charge of writing the report on the mission... or on "Ponytas in high places" anyway. The guidelines were few: all those who wanted to assist would go to the base of White Mountain in the southern part of Ellyrion, and conduct some research in small groups, looking for anything strange or suspicious, on or around the mountain. Those who decided to stay in Caledor, were free to go about challenging other trainers and doing whatever they normally did. Those who chose to go, would have to be particularly careful: they might find nothing, but there was known to be a very dangerous presence somewhere in the mountain... feeding slowly on the souls of those who sought glory, or a change in their lives... presumably waiting for the moment to strike. But that was, once more, mostly speculation: the Dragon Tamers knew there was a female green dragon named Yssera, who had been known to hide in the mountain and lure humans and pokemon alike with false promises, putting them into a trance that felt like a prophetic dream, and from which they woke up half the beings they used to be, with no bonds to anything or anyone, and no purpose in life; and they all seemed to feel grateful to her somehow. But that was all they knew for certain.

Yssera had already spent a few years in the mountain, which used to be a peaceful sanctuary before her arrival. Unbeknownst to the Dragon Tamers, she managed to gather a force of pokemon determined to follow her and protect her, if only because her promises of fame, glory and a bright future just for being on her side were all they had left. These pokemon would try to stop any attempts to find Yssera in terms other than her own, by persuasion or by force.

Note: the mission is optional, and open to Dragon Tamers and Dreagon's Guild members alike. If you want to stay, you can still have friendly battles in Sector Alpha. You can fight up to 2 pokemon from the list, as usual. You simply have a little more variety to choose from this time.

(up to level 15)
Bulbasaur and/or Spearow LV8 +1 level
Beedrill and/or Pikachu LV15 +2 levels

(level 15.5-25)
Houndour and/or Bagon LV19 +1 level
Houndoom and/or Kadabra LV25 +2 levels

(level 25.5-35)
Charmeleon and/or Swablu LV28 +1 level
Vibrava and/or Shelgon LV35 +2 levels

(level 35.5-45)
Ponyta and/or Haunter LV38 +1 level
Meganium and/or Rapidash LV45 +2 levels

(level 45.5-55)
Fearow and/or Dragonair LV49 +1 level
Altaria and/or Gengar LV55 +2 levels

(level 55.5-70)
Heracross and/or Girafarig LV62 +1 level
Charizard and/or Blaziken LV70 +2 levels

(level 70.5-85)
Tropius and/or Flygon LV76 +1 level
Dragonite and/or Alakazam LV85 +2 levels

(None of us has pokemon above level 85, so another category would be useless.)

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

*Murkrow
23rd January 2006, 05:08 AM
I am not here....this is just somebody else randomly logging onto my account while I'm busy revising.

Honest.

If we have an extension for the Crimson Blades scenario, am I right in thinking that you can post your battles and gain the levels, but you just won't get any Stamps for them? Or can you just not post and have to automatically skip to the next scenario?

Though regardless, I might just do the latter...meh, I hated trying to write for that last Blades one. Something just bugged me. *Shrugs*

Thanks anyway. *Goes back to revision*

Ace64
23rd January 2006, 05:53 AM
Well, if it doesn't bother anyone, I'd like to post my battle for the maze scenario even if I do lose the stamps. Seeing as how I have so few, it doesn't bother me too much, and I'd hate to have to re-do my character's introduction in a different setting once more. It took me long enough just to write the maze one. (Dunno why, it just seemed hard to write when I don't know all of the story.)

AntiAsh Superstar
23rd January 2006, 09:27 AM
Ace64, you had an extension for the maze anyways. The extention lasts until the end of the current scenario so you won't lose stamps.

Hannah, it has worked like that in the past I think in the sense that you can get levels but no stamps (somebody do correct me if I'm wrong). btw, if you can pinpoint what was up with the Blades scenario and PM me about it that'd be great, I confess in some ways the whole campaign was an egotistical 'I've come up with a good bad guy let's inflict it on EVERYONE' thing but I'm always up for some constructive critisism (as long as you break it to me gently-ish) and would love to know any flaws so I don't repeat them. ^^;;

Anyways, have my previous double RBG folks. => Oh and can I quickly get one for Scratchy and Brandy? I'd like to try getting tmy current plot out of the way before I write for the actual scenario. ^^;;
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The small town of Kala Bier would have been a most pleasant place to be passing through under any ordinary circumstances. It was the sort of untainted, cute little habitat that took one back to a more innocent age. Where shop owners were on first name terms with all their customers. Where one could go outside at night without worrying about being mugged. Sure, most of Ulthuan had mercifully escaped the distrust that now enveloped the rest of the world but... well, Kala Bier was something else even by those standards, a town that was almost unreal in its simplicity. It was, it had to be said, a most refreshing change from the hectic life living so close to a Dragons Guild base brought with it.
“Ade, is it me or have we stepped into the setting for a black and white movie here?” As ever, Milliardo was the first off the mark with a stupid yet scarily accurate quip about the whole situation.
“We can't have,” Beckham answered for me. “We're still in colour.”
“Yet again you totally miss the point, dummy.” My Umbreon rolled his eyes. “Anyway, is it me or does this place seem a little too perfect?”
“You have a point,” I conceded. For the closest inhabitation to the troubles I was supposed to be investigating the town was unusually peaceful! “Maybe the problems just haven't reached here yet. Or maybe there's a perfectly natural explanation for the behaviour Lady Ninetales was telling me about. Speaking of whom, I'd better give her a call the instant we find a local inn or something just to let her know we've arrived.”
“What is she, your mother or something?”
“No, but I really don't want to give her any more excuses for fixing me with a dirty look when I return to Sector Alpha than I absolutely have to. I'd say it's pretty much certain that we'll overstep our boundaries at some point during this investigation anyway.”
“Well I'm glad you've accepted that already,” Thunderblast beamed, joining in the conversation. “It'll make things a lot easier later on. Now do you think we ought to find that local inn or something instead of standing in the middle of the street like a bunch of idiots?” My Raichu had a pretty good point actually! First and foremost we had to secure ourselves a base of operations. Then, and only then, could we hope to settle down to business.

Eventually a base of operations presented itself in the form of The Roving Ranger, a quiet little family-run inn with comfortable beds, clean rooms and good meals. Plus, as an added bonus, a reasonably cheap bar that I had every intention of taking advantage of as soon as I could.
“I was rather under the impression that we had an official Guild assignment to undertake,” Marius had commented drily upon hearing that I fully intended on spending that evening with a glass of brandy or three. “Surely if something is amiss we should endeavour to reveal the truth as hastily as possible, don't you think?”
“A nice idea,” I nodded. “But I'm not as foolhardy as I once was and I think we're best off waiting until tomorrow morning to start the investigation proper. I for one don't intend on roaming around in a strange forest when the sun is setting. Besides which, who said I'm not making... hmm, what would be Guild-speak for what I'm planning on doing tonight? I know, 'initial enquiries' works well.”
“Meaning remaining in the bar whilst justifying it with the occasional question directed at the locals.” My Dratini rolled his eyes. “If procrastination was an official sport you could compete at an Olympian level.”
“Hey, don't knock pro-crasty-wotsit,” Beckham beamed from a bar stool next to me. “It hasn't done us any harm so far has it?”
“Nor has it done you any good”, Marius reminded.
“Oh, leave them be,” Pandora sighed. Most of my team were surrounding me as we commandeered a table in the corner of the bar normally reserved for private parties. Amazing, really, what flashing an official Dragons Guild ID could get you, especially when it bore as impressive a title as 'Lord Umbreon'. “I can see Ade's logic, you know, we only just got here an hour or two ago, it's silly launching straight into work. Just relax for once, dear.”
“I suppose.” Not for the first time the Dratini reluctantly conceded to his foster mother's advice. “I would feel better if I saw some actual investigations being carried out, however, if for no other reason that so far I really do feel like I'm the only one who hasn't forgotten that this isn't some kind of Guild-sanctioned vacation.”
“Relax,” I commented, noting that my glass was nearly empty. “I know what I'm here for, but right now I don't think it such a great idea to go storming out there so we might as well have a little fun while waiting for a better moment to start the investigation, no? Anyway, I'm going to head down and get another drink, and maybe see if the bartender knows anything. Anyone want anything bringing back?”
“Yeah, a Slow Comfortable Screw,” Thunderblast giggled.
“We can work on that later on,” Kasumi commented.
“I meant the cocktail,” my Raichu beamed.
“Ade, don't give her anything,” Milliardo commented. “Her tolerance for drink is as bad as her eyesight without the stupid shades, as in absolutely abysmal. I mean, last time she got drunk she started picking fights with everybody.”
“Did I?” Thunderblast seemed genuinely confused.
“She can't even remember that occasion. I rest my case. I recommend milk or water for everyone, except Becks who I guess would like a triple tequila slammer with added grapefruit.”
“You know, that would probably work quite well,” I mused. “Anyway, hold the fort for me for a second guys. I trust you can manage that without arguing, hm?” I looked rather pointedly at the usual troublemakers within my team... well, Scratchy and Milliardo, at any rate. And then I made my way over to the bar, to be greeted by a greying man who looked as if he had seen his fair share of trials.
“Everything okay, Lord Umbreon?” the man asked.
“Great, thanks. Er... one double Jack Daniels and coke, one pint of scrumpy cider, one coke... um, two orange juices, one with a straw...” One of these was for Katnip, the other for Thunderblast. No matter what my Raichu said I was inclined to side with Milliardo on the subject of her drinking! “...and a few more bowls of water, please.”
“Certainly,” the barman beamed. “I have to say I think it's sweet the way you handle your pokémon. Most trainers would just keep them in pokéballs when coming into this place, but you keep them out and let them join in. You must really care for them.”
“Well we've been through a lot together, sometimes I forget that they're my team and just think of them as friends.” I shrugged, grabbing the first pair of bowls of water and signalling for one of my pokémon to come help move them over; the role ended up being amusingly taken up by Thunderblast and Kasumi who both used their telekinetic powers to transfer the bowls to the table. Not without spilling water everywhere, of course. “By the way...” I began as the barman simultaneously worked on two large glasses of cola, “...speaking of pokémon I've been hearing that the wild ones around here have been acting oddly.”
“Oh it's not just the wild ones, you know,” the bartender commented, passing over the colas and beginning to pour the cider that was undoubtedly going to end up in Beckham's mouth. “All pokémon in the area are being kind of skittish, at least the bug ones. I'm surprised that Paras I see you have hasn't started acting oddly, actually.”
“Well to be honest he's always been too good at masking what he's really feeling for comfort,” I sighed. “I never can get much out of him unless I ask.”
“Well, that's pokémon for you,” the barman grinned. “They're as varied in personality as humans, and sometimes can be just as awkward.”
“Amen to that,” I chuckled, accepting the final drinks. “Anyway, put this all on my tab, okay?”
“Sure thing.” Carefully I made my way back to my table and sat back down.
“Well?” Marius asked.
“Gee, haven't you become the little slave-driver?” I rolled my eyes, rather bemused by my Dratini's almost annoying desire to push on. “As it happens the barman was telling me that it seems as if all Bug-types in the area have been acting rather strangely. Which leads me to ask... Scratchy, have you been sensing anything weird about this place?”
“It's hard to say,” the Paras scoffed. “I'm so used to feeling weirdness all around me...”
“Listen,” I seethed, having had about as much of my pokémon's attitude as I was going to take. “Just answer my question for once instead of turning everything that's said into a tirade about how you think everybody else is stupid, insane or both. I'm sick of it, Scratchy, and in case you were unaware you're not without flaws yourself. Now let's try again. Have you been sensing anything weird about this place or not?”
“I...” Scratchy was thrown completely by this outburst. He wasn't used to being told off like that! “There's nothing weird about the town but I'm feeling something from the forest. It's odd. It's like some sort of signal... it makes me uneasy, like something's in there we really ought to be staying away from.” The Paras shrugged. “That's about it, really, I couldn't say more without actually going in there.”
“See, Scratchy, you can really be quite an asset to the group when you put your mind to it,” I beamed before throwing the topic out to the rest of the group. “Anyone any ideas what this might be?”
“Some sort of unearthly signal?” Bolovayr offered.
“We hardly think so,” Rhiannon countered. “If it were that we would be able to detect it, but we can't. Besides which, if this happened to be a supernatural matter then the Guild would have referred it to Lord Absol's department rather than that of Lady Ninetales. More likely it's some kind of mechanical impulse.”
“What, like those transmitters Team Rocket uses to drive pokémon mad?”
“Precisely.”
“So how come only Bug types can sense this thing then?” Milliardo interrupted. “If it was one of those don't you think we'd all be getting a little deranged right about now? Well... more deranged than we all are already, at any rate.”
“Father has a point,” Marius added. “Here's my hypothesis. We know for a fact thanks to Guild research that many wild Bug pokémon have something of a hive mentality; that is to say they have some sort of mental connection which allows them to know the precise state of every other member of the colony. Supposing that one of the wild colonies, maybe even more, encountered such a problem that, out of sheer desperation, its collective hive mind managed to transcend the limitations of this mental bond? As in they send out a generic message to all those in the area to stay away and avoid falling into the same problem that particular colony has encountered?” He shrugged as best as a Dratini could. “I don't know. I'm only really speculating here but this theory does seem to fit in well with the facts that we currently have at our disposal.”
“It does make a sort of sense,” I mused, sipping at my drink. “I'll let you take a good long look at the data the Guild gave me when we get back to our room, Marius. I'm guessing that if anyone can make any sense out of it you can.”
“Certainly,” came the satisfied response.
“So what about the rest of us?” Katnip asked from across the table. “Anythin' we can be doin'?”
“Not until daylight,” I shrugged. “At which point we'll all be doing a lot, because I want to get in there as soon as possible. In the meantime... well, how does stay here and ask the innkeeper to fix us some food sound?”

Night soon fell and most of our group retired to a cozy, spacious room that quite comfortably accommodated everyone bar Brandy (sadly my Onix was having to stay in her pokéball for the time being on account of her size). There were exceptions, of course. Bolovayr had now quite happily fell into a routine of only needing about four hours sleep a night and hence usually stayed up until three in the morning amusing himself with his own overactive imagination. Rhiannon was currently possessed by her adult mind and hence had elected to spend the night on the rooftop underneath the stars. And, of course...
“So you're having trouble sleeping as well, hm?” After going through the Guild's data about a hundred times Marius couldn't switch off. His mind was racing with possibilities and theories. So after about half an hour of laying awake he ended up sneaking downstairs into the inn's courtyard, hoping that maybe a breath of fresh air would cure his insomnia. He didn't find his remedy, however. Instead what he found was Scratchy.
“It's rather hard to sleep when you're being constantly bombarded with what I'm sure is a 'get the hell out of here' message, you know,” the Paras replied grouchily as Marius approached. “What's your excuse?”
“I'm used to late nights,” the Dratini replied. “And I can't make any sense out of this entire situation no matter how hard I try.”
“Aren't they paying Ade to do that?”
“True enough.”
“So why are you worrying about it?”
“Because I enjoy putting my mind to the test, especially when doing so could actually benefit others. Every one of us has our own unique abilities and when we can actually make a difference by using them why should we just stand by because it's supposed to be somebody else's problem?”
“You're such an idealist, you know that?”
“I get told that a lot,” Marius commented. “I also get told that I'm annoyingly inquisitive, cynical, over-analytical and I preach far too much about morality. I also get told that I'm aloof and have a superiority complex but I rather feel those last two judgements are somewhat harsh.”
“So you know your own faults. Well done. I don't see what that has to do with anything, though.”
“Well you were the one who brought up being an idealist as if it were a terrible personality trait. I fail to see what's so bad about having ideals. Without ideals and morals we're practically feral and I'm quite convinced that not even you want that.” Marius frowned. “I'm afraid I've gone off on a tangent again. I actually wanted to ask you what you make of this entire situation.”
“It troubles me,” Scratchy replied. For all his faults Marius was one of the few of the Paras' teammates he felt comfortable talking to. At least you could count on him sticking through a conversation without talking nonsense! “You're probably right about it being a warning call, in fact I'm sure of it. It's eerily similar to something I saw before, back before I joined the team.”
“Go on. Something about this situation is familiar to you and it may help us all if you explain.”
“I don't think it will.” Scratchy paused. All this time everyone had been telling him that it would help to open up once in a while... did they have a point? There was really only one way to find out. “But... well, make of it what you will.”
“I'm listening.”

“Back before I ended up in an adoption centre I was part of a Paras colony near one of the Caladorian mountain ranges,” Scratchy began. “It was a dull but peaceful enough life, you know. In fact I rather enjoyed it. We all knew our place, we all knew what needed to be done. The entire group worked as one. How did you put it earlier? Ah, 'hive mentality' you called it. That's how it was, that how it always remained. I was happy that way, you know, we took care ouf our own business and our own business helped the whole of the group.” There was a rather wistful tone in Scratchy's voice but Marius decided it better not to comment on it. Already he was starting to understand his Paras companion a whole lot better. Was his irritable attitude simply because he had been thrust into a quite unruly team after so long in such a simplistic lifestyle? “Anyway, we didn't know it for ages but our colony wasn't too far away from a fuel processing plant. Oh, I know this is Ulthuan and the humans around here for the most part try their best to avoid messing with the environment but it's still not really what you want to have a few miles away from your home is it?”
“No, not at all,” Marius conceded, being one of the first to rally towards any environmental issues. Or any issues where injustices were being done to anything, really. “So what happened with this plant?”
“Ah, you can already see where this is going. Anyway, one day I'm out collecting food for our stores as usual – I'm not going to go into the details of that, I'm sure the almighty Guild has plenty of records on what makes a Paras act as it does – when all of a sudden I get this blinding pain in my head. It's like a short, sharp burst but I know exactly what it means. We all do. It tells us to run. As fast as we can. Something has happened and our territory isn't safe any longer.”
“It sounds a lot like Ventura's psychic pulses. But go on.”
“Of course we didn't know what the hell was going on but we did as it said anyway. You wouldn't know about this; you were born and raised in a team. But when you're a wild pokémon instinct overrides all logic or curiosity. So I started moving away, as did many of my fellows in the colony. And eventually I risk a look back and see the horrible truth. The lands we had lived on for so long had become an inferno. It turns out that some idiot in the fuel plant had decided to risk a sneaky cigarette and set the entire place ablaze. Before you know it up goes the entire area and if it weren't for the warning message from those nearest to the blaze none of us would have survived.”
“What happened to the rest of your colony?” Marius asked.
“Most died in the fire. We're not fast pokémon and we burn very easily thanks to the mushrooms on our backs. Those left were scattered, panicked. We just ran until we found some place to settle. In my case it was in the arms of an adoption centre worker and the rest is history. But... well, if I ever get a bee in my bonnet about nature getting ruined because of anything that thinks it's superior to everything else on the planet that's why. Humans just use and abuse resources without a thought for the consequences, and when it all goes wrong they just damn well shrug their shoulders and go 'oh dear'. And they're not the only ones. I mean, remember Templa Taure? I hear that used to be a beautiful place before the demons corrupted it. It's thoughtless actions like that...” Scratchy frowned. “I can't stand it, it gets me on edge and it's all around everywhere we go. Anyway, there's me going off on a tangent now. Anyway, my point is this feeling here is very similar to the warning call I got back then. Although that was strong and short, this is... weaker, and carries on. Whatever's sending it out is still alive and suffering because of what's happening to it.”
“I have to admit I've reached the same conclusion,” Marius nodded. “I appreciate your confiding in me, Scratchy.”
“It's okay. Don't breathe a word of this to the others, though.”
“It's your secret to impart, not mine,” the Dratini replied. “Although I would advis