Fanfiction of the Month (April): Midsummer Knights: DREAM
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March 27th, 2006 (6:39 PM).
Your aquatic overlord
Chapter Three: Duel
The train clacked along the track as the passengers aboard its third car rearranged themselves. Most of the passengers crammed themselves into one end of the car, just behind a trembling Viola. They had their wits with them; it was most likely going to be Viola who would be at fault for any stray attacks. Rosaline, who was just moments before a mere stranger, strutted confidently to the other end of the car with her Poké Ball still in hand. She turned, and her light brown eyes fixed themselves on Viola.
The latter felt her knees go weak. Doubts settled in her. She knew there was bound to be some fights because she was a Knight, but she still felt reluctant to do anything. Was it right for her to use her father's Pokémon this way? Granted, he gave them to her in his will, but wouldn't it be treading on his memory to put them in danger?
Rosaline, however, didn't waste any time. With a flick of her wrist, the ball was sent spiraling to a spot just in front of her. The ball tapped the gray floor of the train and cracked open to send brilliant, white light flowing in an arc to a point just in front of it. Light illuminated the walls of the car and sent trembling shadows where there normally wouldn't be, almost like the shadows cast by a flashlight in a room lit with candles.
As soon as it appeared, however, it faded away to reveal a slender, plant-like creature standing on two pointed feet. Its thin arms – both tipped with a different-colored rose – were crossed in front of it as its head bowed in the same way that ballet dancers sometimes bow their heads just before the curtain rises.
The ball, meanwhile, snapped back together and floated gracefully into Rosaline's hand. She grinned as she watched Viola's actions.
"Well, child?" she said after a moment's pause. "Aren't you going to send out a little playmate for my Roselia? She could certainly use some exercise."
Again, Viola hesitated. She wanted to be a Knight, but was she ready for what it meant?
Maybe I should just go back, she thought. It's not too late. Go back home.
With that, she turned and walked a few paces as a sign of retreat. No sooner had she done so, however, than her pocket began to beep. Startled, she reached into it and drew out the PDA. On its face, bold words appeared.
"Knight Illusion, you are ignoring orders. Therefore, your rank has been decreased to Rank R."
She stared at the words. What did they mean?
"Got a reprimand, girl?" Rosaline questioned.
Viola looked over her shoulder in confusion. Rosaline's eyes narrowed at her as the rest of the woman's body leaned forward. A harsh smirk remained etched into the Asian's face.
"Didn't anyone tell you, girl?" she said. "Weren't you paying attention? The more you defy orders, the more you'll drop in rank. That means you can get kicked out of the Knights just by failing to do something as simple as this." She paused to straighten up. "Of course, I'd hardly say it's fair at all that the Controller would send a new Knight out to battle someone as talented as me, so I don't blame you if you don't want to finish your task."
At those words, Viola turned completely around. Her eyes were wide, and she shot her opponent a perplexed look.
"The Controller?" she whispered.
Rosaline smirked again as she reached into the folds of her dress and drew out her own PDA. "Someone has to send these orders off to our Masters, girl. You really are a newbie if you didn't know that."
"Who is he then? That someone, I mean."
After a brief moment of laughter, Rosaline hid her PDA – or Master, as she called it – somewhere in her dress.
"No one knows," she said, "and no one cares. And that's neither here nor there. After all, look at your Master."
Viola glanced down. To her dismay, her rank was dropping even as they spoke. By then, she was at Rank U. She had to act fast, but she didn't know what to do. All she knew was that she couldn't bring herself to hurt Haunter.
The unique thing about Pokémon training is that the longer a Pokémon spends with a human being, the stronger the bond between them grows until they become so close to one another that no word needs to be spoken between them to express their feelings. Even in the world of high technology and the need for individuality over unity, the ancient bond between human beings and Pokémon still lingered. Such is the case with Haunter. Many years had passed since the demise of his former master, and since then, he had been the guardian of his master's daughter. At first, she was scared of him and constantly kept her distance. Then, little by little, as the years passed, they built a relationship together to the point where Haunter was closer to Viola than any human being on the planet. He was the essence of her father, the guardian against harm, and the best friend she ever had.
At that moment on the train, he stopped floating about the car and playing with the energy of the passengers. Instead, he lifted his eyes towards Viola and studied her carefully from his perch just above a napping man's head. He could see it from that point: the fear and the hesitation and the need for someone else to give her a push in the right direction. Whether he knew it or not, Haunter was about to make one move that would change Viola's life.
He moved between Viola and Roselia.
Then, there was a pause. Viola tried to call him back, but she seemed frozen in place with her body defying every order her brain sent to it. She watched as he floated there, prepared to fight for his master. Rosaline, however, barely acknowledged how touching the moment was.
"Roselia, begin the match with Leech Seed!"
Without any hesitation, Roselia gracefully swirled her arms out of their crossed position and pointed her red rose straight at the floating specter. In the center of the blossom, a small, brown tip poked between the petals and remained there for a brief period of time. With a smirk just as dirty as her owner's, Roselia tensed the muscles in her blossom hand and pushed forward to shoot the seed straight out of the flower. The brown bullet soared through the air towards Haunter. Air space closed between the object and its target. Time slowed.
Then, just as quickly as the bullet was moving, Haunter's body drifted towards the floor. His hands stayed in the same place, but the rest of him slid smoothly downward to let the seed project cleanly over his head and land at Viola's feet with a tap. As soon as it was gone, he snapped back into place and merely laughed as Roselia stared dumbfounded at the insolent beast.
Rosaline was none too happy with this outcome. "Roselia! Strike with Leech Seed again!"
The rose didn't need to be told twice. She quickly lifted her red-tipped arm as another seed poked between her petals. With another push, the seed went flying at the specter, but again, the ghost slid out of the way. Suddenly, the train filled with a strange, scratchy noise as Haunter bounced about the cabin in delight. Naturally, his egotism was met with disgust on his opponent's side.
"Fine," Rosaline said. "Roselia, use Stun Spore to stop Haunter in his tracks!"
Obediently, Roselia raised her rose-tipped arms again and aimed directly at Haunter. She was sure she wouldn't miss this time as she tensed her muscles to prepare for an attack. Soon, a fine cloud of gold dust sprayed from the centers of her blossoms and towards the waiting ghost.
Then, he disappeared completely.
Roselia looked like she had inhaled her own noxious cloud as the gold dust passed completely through the space Haunter had formerly occupied. It drifted to the side and coated a plastic seat not too far away with a fine layer of gold. In the meantime, Roselia and Rosaline looked around to spot the ghost, but neither could see a speck of purple. Frustrated, Rosaline turned to Viola, who stood still throughout the whole thing.
"Where is it?!"
Viola shrugged. "****ed if I knew."
"You're its trainer!" Rosaline's face began to turn as red as the silk of her dress. "And you're supposed to be dueling me!"
At that, Viola only grinned and gave Rosaline a dark look. The Chinese woman took a step back. She couldn't remember seeing such intensity and confidence in the other's eyes. In fact, her eyes widened at the realization that she couldn't remember Viola's eyes being sapphire blue – deep and near black.
All of a sudden, a bolt of black lightning struck Roselia from the side. Viola didn't move; she only watched Rosaline tear her gaze away from her and notice for the first time that Haunter had appeared on the left. Rosaline cursed, knowing full well that she allowed herself to be distracted long enough for Haunter to reappear.
"You!" Rosaline's eyes turned back to Viola. "You did that on purpose!"
"All I did was look at you," Viola explained calmly. "The rest was your own fault for letting your guard down… just like you are again."
Rosaline's eyes turned back to the Haunter just in time to see him slide a pin of pure light into his ghostly body. His lips moved without sound, but Rosaline didn't need to hear him to know what was happening. The sacrifice, the spell… Her eyes looked downward at her own Roselia, only to see her doubling over as a black aura suddenly began to surround her body. The rose's spindly arms were wrapped around her shivering frame. The damage had been done.
Knowing she had to act fast, Rosaline went through all the possible strategies in her head.
"Roselia, Leech Seed!"
Viola smirked. "Again? A tired strategy, my dear."
Rosaline smiled. "But we're not aiming at Haunter."
Quickly, Roselia lifted her red arm as the tip of a brown seed emerged from it. Every muscle in the cabin tensed as the Grass-type smiled at her target: Viola herself. With a small "phut," the seed went completely airborne.
The next instant went by in hours. Viola watched as Haunter glided between the seed and her to protect her, and the next thing she knew, green tendrils snapped around to the back of his head to bind his face. A red, eerie aura began to surround the tendrils as small, red energy bubbles pulled from the tip of the seed in the center of Haunter's face back to Roselia. Haunter lowered himself slightly as his ghostly hands, though struggling to tear the tendrils off, began to work sluggishly.
At that point, Viola's sudden burst of confidence faltered. It wasn't so much because she was hesitant to hurt her father's Pokémon. It was because of something else. The fear of a cornered animal lingered in her eyes, and the darkness of the realization of what Haunter had done pulled at the corners of her mouth. Her fingers fumbled in her coat pocket for a moment before bringing out a single Poké Ball. With a press of a button, it enlarged in her hand. Quietly, she aimed the same button at the back of her Pokémon.
Quickly, Rosaline flung her hand in an outward gesture. "Roselia, Magical Leaf!"
With swift and graceful movements, Roselia stretched out her arms and twirled. Each quick, violent turn shook free a razor-edged blur of green and pink that flew through the air like a boomerang and sliced across Viola's wrist. With a sharp shriek, Viola dropped her Poké Ball and stepped away. The ball landed on the floor with a muffled tap, and Viola's free hand fluttered to her open wrist. Even with her hand encircling it, blood trickled from the ripped skin and dripped onto the floor. Viola clenched her teeth as the pain still bit the severed nerves.
"Sorry, baby, but a duel is what it sounds like," Rosaline said with a soft giggle. "It's a fight between only two Pokémon. Unless, of course, you were surrendering, at which point I'll have to apologize and accept it. Oh, where are my manners? No need to force the newbie into battling me!"
Viola growled and turned back to her Haunter. "Haunter, hang on! We can get them! Do your worst!"
With narrowed eyes between the tendrils, Haunter acknowledged, and a ball of pure, black energy formed between his open hands. Roselia stared at it, purely stunned by the power being put into one of the most infamous Ghost-type attacks. Her trainer, meanwhile, only watched quietly. In moments, the ball was almost as large as Haunter's head, and that could only mean that it could possibly rip a hole in the train's floor. Rosaline's fists tightened. Her mind drew a blank, unable to concoct a possible counter, and Roselia wasn't nimble enough to evade even the powerful shockwaves.
In seconds, she didn't even have to. Haunter gave one last push, and the ball careened towards Roselia. The rose didn't dodge; she instead allowed herself to take the full brunt of the hit. No scream filled the cabin. She just vanished into shadow for several moments before reappearing at her master's feet. She was bruised and battered, but she still didn't look any worse than the Haunter that was still struggling with the tendrils on his face. With a small boot from her master (an action which earned a flicker of disgust across Viola's face), the Roselia rose to her stubby legs and walked forward. Her back was straight, and a glint shone in her eyes. The bruises meant nothing to her, and Haunter's movements were becoming more sluggish by the minute.
"You call that your worst?" Rosaline taunted. "Pathetic. Let me show you true power. Roselia, it's time. Hidden Power!"
With a cry, Roselia crossed her arms in front of her and closed her eyes. Viola watched in wonder as the rose gathered her energy. White orbs danced in rings around her as she pooled all of her energy into her arms and hummed quietly to herself. In a low voice, Viola leaned forward and whispered something to her own Pokémon. Rosaline didn't notice; she was too intent on watching her Roselia finish charging. By that time, the orbs threw a white glow around the yellow-lit cabin.
Then, all at once, a battle scream rose from Roselia's throat as her arms snapped forward. The white orbs surrounding her pooled into a larger ball just beyond her blossom-hands, and from that ball shot a large beam of light. Viola quickly dove out of the way before Haunter took the hit and was blasted backwards several feet. When the beam finally released him, he fell to the floor of the car and didn't stir.
However, just as Rosaline opened her mouth to gloat, her own Roselia fell flat on her face as well.
"A draw," Viola said calmly as she stepped forward to pick up her Poké Ball.
"How dare you!" Rosaline's voice alone revealed how livid she was. "How dare you do that when I was clearly winning! How dare you cheat like that!"
"Cheat?" Viola smirked. "Haunter learns Destiny Bond naturally. It's a nasty move, yes, but it's completely legal according to Pokémon League rules that have existed for centuries. You can't deny them, nor can you deny this."
To prove her point, Viola reached into her pocket and pulled out her PDA. On it, bold words proclaiming the completion of her task were displayed. As if to verify the truth, Rosaline produced her own PDA and examined it to see the same message.
"You didn't deserve that win," Rosaline hissed.
"Maybe not," Viola said, "but I knew I wouldn't have won if I had played completely fairly. Apparently, neither did you, judging by your treatment of a downed Roselia."
With that, Viola turned and recalled Haunter with only a few inaudible words left to say.
"What was that?" Rosaline demanded.
As the train came to a halt, Viola looked over her shoulder and gave Rosaline an emotionless stare, as if the woman had only just noticed Rosaline even existed.
"I'm warning you, Knight Illusion," Rosaline said. "I know many powerful Knights, and I will see to it that they know you exist. You may have been my match in wits now, but there will be a time when you make a mistake."
Viola turned away from Rosaline and walked through the open doors of the train. She didn't really feel like responding to the threat.
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