Thread: [Pokémon] White Heart Black Bones [PG-14]
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Old January 6th, 2012 (04:44 PM). Edited January 30th, 2012 by OpenDoorLeia.
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OpenDoorLeia
The Will of One
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Gender: Female
Nature: Lonely
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…I keep asking myself… when will things change?

I tried to pull open the window I had reached, trying to wedge my fingers between the divide of wood. There were no handles on this window, no surprise there, still, I was hoping by some impossible convenience that there would be. I tried to peer through the musty glass on one of the eight segmented sections that made up this window, cupping my hands around my face to stave off the harsh glare. Even with all the cloud cover it was tough to see through with the unnaturally bright light emanating off the sky, but from what I could see the room beyond seemed to be some sort of library. I could just make out the figures of towering bookshelves through the sky's glare. I squinted hard as I tried to pick out some sort of motion or movement that would announce if the room was occupied or not. After a few minutes of looking, and seeing not a stir, I decided to break the window down.

I shoved my shoulder against the frame, testing its strength as the wind whipped by in all directions and tousled my hair into my face. The window was sturdy, and another one that wasn't meant to be opened inward. It meant I would have to break it in, and I was nervous considering the glass and all. I took a few wide glances along the face of the castle to see if I could spot an easier entrance, but every window I found was too far out of reach. This was the only way I was going to get in. I sucked in a breath and began to throw my weight against the wooden frame but it wouldn't give way.

After a few attempts at entry, and a bit of colourful language, I tried a different approach. I stood up with my back towards the window, holding onto the wall above it with all my strength and threw my rear against the wooden frame. It didn't yield on the first attempt at butt-smashing but a loud, splintering crack caught my attention. It was beginning to buckle! Again! I threw my rear against the window a second time and it gave slightly inward. My heart fluttered in excitement and the realization that I was pulling this off. I spun around, eager to see what progress I had made. The wooden frame of the window was caving inward right at the divide.

One more shove ought to do it, I thought, licking my lips nervously.

I took in a huge breath, braced myself for the impact and charged, throwing my weight against the weakened frame, concentrating the force onto my right shoulder. And man did that window snap. I ran into it much harder than need be, and it shattered against my weight. Whipping violently inward with a smash, I was sent tumbling into the room below.

The momentum of my fall had sent me spiraling out of control. Everything happened so quickly that my mind couldn't keep up with my body. I hit something in my decent which I thought was the floor at first, but I continued to topple downward. I was still falling?! I was dumbstruck with numbing fear and sickening vertigo; I couldn't make a move to save myself. The world finally ceased in its nauseating spiral when I smashed into the floor with crippling force, having the air I'd took in forcefully pushed out of my lungs. It felt like a punch to the stomach. I saw my saliva flick across the wooden ground as I sputtered painfully, the force of the impact ran through my body like a wave.

My vision flooded back in speckles as I lay paralyzed. I tried to figure out what had happened. I gave a pained moan as the ceiling faded back in. It was hard trying to move my body, and for a frightening moment I thought I'd crippled myself, or banged something crucial that would leave me immobilized. Thankfully that wasn't the case and I pulled myself up on shaking limbs taking in deep, heaving breaths. Shards of glass sprinkled the floor around me, their sharp edges glistening in the cloudy daylight.

I looked up towards the window to see the damage I had done. The wooden frame was just barely hanging onto its hinges, rocking back and forth with a creak in the breeze. The glass in the framed segments had been shattered out and now scattered the floor. I jumped in shock, padding my body down to see if I had been cut by the jagged shards. I found many small cuts and gashes coating my arms and legs. It left my clothes a bit of a mess, but I wasn't seriously injured. The most unnerving of the cuts rested right below my left eye, on my cheek. I poked at it, wincing, just to feel the wetness of my blood.

That was too close…

A bookcase lay under the shattered window. I figured it was what I slammed into during my fall before hitting the ground. It unnerved me. I hadn't even seen it there before. I curled myself up in a trembling ball in the shadow of the bookcase. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to come out of that incident with only a few cuts and scratches. I knew that it could have been much worse. I could have smashed my skull on the floor, my neck could have broke and my limbs could have snapped in two. I couldn't suppress a laugh. I know you're probably thinking I'm crazy, I know I was too. But I had cheated death, not once but twice however since leaving N's room and I was still alive. My sides were aching and my throat felt dry as sand but I still cackled like a maniac.

I must be the luckiest girl in the world.

After that small fit of insanity, I pulled my bruising body off the ground, deciding that I'd better get a move on. I left the scene, prancing nervously around the shards of glass still specking the floor and off into the maze of bookshelves beyond. I noticed rather quickly, after leaving the scene of my break-in, that the library I'd stumbled into was completely void of life. All was silent apart from the thrumming of my heart accompanied by shaking breaths and padding footsteps. I still feared that someone was hiding deep in this place, on one of the many floors of the room which stacked up towards the darkened ceiling. If this person, imaginary or not, had heard my break-in they could be watching me, studying my every move, waiting for the right moment to attack! But I knew my imagination was just torturing me. If the room really was habited my break-in would have already been noted and I'd been captured the second I crashed onto the floor. As far as my rational mind was concerned this place was a ghost town.

A nervous gurgle in my stomach sounded whenever I thought of N returning back to his chambers to see I'd vanished. With the windows of his chamber still agape, I wondered if he'd think that I'd thrown myself out the tower and plummeted to my death. I gnawed on my lip guiltily, hating to put him through that kind of anguish, but I couldn't let that hold me down. It took a bit of work to stamp out those thoughts, but I continued on, quickening my pace in search of an exit.

The library wasn't as wide as it was tall, and because of that I saved myself from running around blindly through aisle after aisle of books until I found an exit. I found a large wooden door bordered on either side by massive mahogany bookcases and Plasma flags. My heart jumped right to my throat in anticipation of this possible exit. This could be a way out! Or, worst case scenario, it lead to another room of the library, and if that was the case I swore I was gonna lose it. But just as my fingers grazed the cold bronze handle a glint of blue light caught my eye. I whipped towards the light just as it vanished. My feet felt like they were frozen in place.

What was that?

A dark hallway to my right lead deep into the belly of the library, and for some reason it felt like something was calling to me. I know that sounds ridiculous right? Even I thought I'd whacked my head too hard during my fall, but the feeling was overwhelming. I couldn't ignore it. So I put my escape on hold and dashed off down the hall to discover what was beckoning to me.

My heart was in my throat as I traveled the hallway I'd taken. It soon led to a wooden staircase taking me to the second level of the library. The layout was different on this level. A round, black table was the dominating feature, bordered on all sides by, you guessed it, bookshelves. I couldn't believe how many books there were in this place and I couldn't help wondering what they were written about, though I hardly had time to pull up a chair. A wooden door frame was set on the far wall which led into a book-lined hallway. A sharp glint flickered out from the depths.

I proceeded into the hall, bringing up my fists defensively if something unseen were to happen. I reached the end of the passage which terminated at another bookshelf, and shoved dead-center inside of the shelf was a thick brown book. A small jewel which resembled a shard of ice was embedded into its spine, glinting eerily in the absence of light.

This was it… I could feel it. I pulled the book from the shelf with haste and quickly scanned the cover. Kyurem, god of ice. It was written in sweeping golden font, sticking straight out from the dark brown surface.

Kyurem… I repeated the name subconsciously. Somehow… it sounded familiar to me.

I slowly pealed the book open, eager to learn more. I didn't have time to pull up a chair and read from cover to cover so I quickly flipped through the pages to see what I could find. I stumbled onto a shocking illustration mid-way through the book, which nearly made me drop it from my grasp. The image depicted a large, gray dragon towering over a world of frozen bodies and dead ice. Rivers of blood streamed through the snow covered ground where it stood. Bits of flesh and bone lay wedged inside of its spade-like teeth, glistening in snow light. I couldn't breathe for a moment. My eyes seemed locked onto the monstrous dragon in the illustration; with yellow eyes ablaze with fury it looked like it wanted to devour me.

I nearly jumped out of my skin as the sound of a door opening echoed through the library. I gasped, fumbling around with the book clumsily and slamming it shut. I clenched the tome to my chest gritting my teeth in the tension, perking up my ears and listening for noise.
A steady clomp, clomp, clomping of footsteps alerted me to this unexpected visitor. I slunk back against the wall, my breath caught in my throat as I waited for something to happen. I hoped against all hope that the intruder, whoever they were, wouldn't wander up to the second level of the library where I was hiding. Worst case scenario they'd want a book from my hallway and that thought alone made my heart tremble. It felt like the whole world had turned against me when I heard the visitor slowly stomp up the stairs which lead to the second level. I crouched low, hoping to hide myself in the gloom of the hallway if they passed by. I cringed outwardly, dreading the thought of my break-in being discovered. The window was still smashed open, already filling the room with a chilled breeze. I began cursing profanities inside my head.

A member of the Seven Sages slowly hobbled into view, not even glancing in my direction. He appeared to be a senile old man, having a long gray beard coming down from his face which wagged to and fro with every step he took. A pair of small eye glasses lay perched on the bridge of his prominent nose. He shuffled by, heading in a different direction towards the far side of the room. A gleam of hope ran through me. If he headed off somewhere into the library then I could slink away unnoticed.

Go away, go away, go away. I tried to signal him telepathically.

As if hearing my unspoken demands he walked by out of view, and the following sounds of clomping footsteps lead me to believe that he was heading up to the third level of the library. I slid the book I clenched back onto the shelf and hurried to the edge of the hallway to see if the Sage really was heading off. And indeed he was. I noticed the large pointed cap, which was standard dress-code for the sages, disappearing into the deep halls on the third level. Good. If I was gonna go then I'd better do it now.

As quiet as a Patrat I hurried out of the hallway, sped down a staircase, without tripping, to the bottom floor. I ran back to where I found the door and yanked it open. It gave a sharp squeal which made me flinch, but I didn't hesitate. I slipped right out the door and jumped with joy when I saw that it led out of the library and into the castle. I sped down the crystalline halls, grinning like a fool, unable to believe that I had gotten out of that scene without being captured.

I must be the luckiest girl in the world! I thought as I turned a corner and slammed head-first into a duo of Plasma soldiers. I staggered back from the force of our impact, flailing in shock, trying to stop myself from crashing onto the floor. The weight difference between the guard and I did the work. I flopped down onto my rump without him even giving me so much as a nudge. Before I could make an attempt at standing up and speeding away, the Plasma guard took hold of my forearm, hauling me up with a violent jerk.

"Well, well. Now what do we have here?" He asked, smirking deviously under his shaggy beard. I tried some feeble attempt at resistance but the guard overpowered me. There's just not much a ninety pound, bony girl can do against a burly duo of Plasma soldiers. There was no conceivable way I could wriggle out of his grip, unless… I cast a glance toward his crotch, preparing to kick, but when I found his hips clad in armor I became limp in defeat.

I'm the unluckiest girl in the world…

Still, I wouldn't give up, not now after I'd come so far. "Let go!" I cursed angrily, bringing up my offence again; trying to whack the guy with my flailing limbs minus my left arm which he still had hold of in his iron grip. The bearded guard who had hold of me, shoved me into his partner who grabbed my arms and restrained them behind my back.

"Well now… we can't let the prisoner go now can we? We wouldn't be very good guards if we did that." The soldier behind me said with a mocking edge.

"How did a little girl like you break out anyway?" The bearded soldier inquired, scanning me uncomfortably with his emerald eyes. The look he was giving me sent chills down my spine. This guard was one of Ghetsis' soldiers. I could tell by his uniform. But he wasn't wearing the customary black visor over his face for some reason. He flashed a mocking smile under the scruffy hairs on his face which put me on edge.

"I guess she still has a little bit of fight in her," The one behind me said. The guard with the beard scoffed, bringing his face right up to mine, so close that I could taste the fishiness on his breath.

"Did you really think that you could escape this place? Or did you forget your last defeat against Lord Ghetsis?" He smirked, "You failed, little girl."

I glowered at him, wishing that looks could kill.

"There's no hope left for you," He laughed and my heart was nicked with sadness. The malaise was building back up inside of me, aroused by this soldier's mockery. It was the last thing I needed. But I refused to give in to the sadness; not again.

The guard brought his face even closer until it was just inches from mine. "You are nothing" He sang. I responded by shooting a wad of spit at his face. He reeled back angrily, rubbing the saliva off in fury.

"You little *****!" He roared throwing his fist right into my stomach. The air was sharply pushed from my lungs for a second time today, and I doubled over in pain: coughing sporadically.

"I'll teach you not to mess with me," He seethed reaching for the collar of my shirt. I was still recovering from the blow he dealt and I had no energy to strike back or resist. And his partner still had tight hold on my arms. This wasn't looking good. However, just as the soldier grabbed hold of my shirt a thick haze began to build in the hallway.

The guards looked around in alarm as a thick purple fog rolled in, snuffing out the ivory stone halls of the castle. The bearded guard looked to his partner in question and I heard him say through my ringing ears, "What's going on!?" He pulled harder on the cuff of my shirt, "Is this one of your tricks you witch?" But I could hardly even hear what he said through the pain still pulsing in my gut. I was too fear stricken to respond either way, for behind the guard I caught sight of two yellow orbs, eyes that pierced right out of the haze.

"S-Sir…!" The soldier holding my arms pointed a trembling finger towards the ominous light. The bearded guard spun around just in time to see a Chandelure meld through the haze. Its glass body, five times larger than a regular Chandelure's, was heavily cracked and smeared with crimson webbing which looked horribly like blood. A nearly headless body hung from a noose tied to one of its twisted steel arms. The guards turned pale as the ghoulish Chandelure leered over us menacingly, burning with black flame.

"BE GONE!!!" It screeched. But the guards were frozen in place: paralyzed by fear. I was much the same.

"BE GOOOONE!!!!!" It shrieked again with ear splitting force. The guards didn't need to be told again. They dropped me, pushing me towards the ghost and ran like hell down the hall: wailing like babies.

I looked up towards the Chandelure, feeling helpless under its paralyzing glare. I flinched away from the creature, waiting for it to strike me down. But instead of pain, I heard someone calling out to me.

"Touko!!!" I looked up. Strange. I could have sworn that dead body, hanging from the Chandelure's arms, had just spoken to me. And taking a closer look I could see it waving at me.

I must be going mad… I thought, putting my fingers to my forehead. But just then, the bloodied body jumped down from its noose, melded out of the haze and landed right before of me. I gasped at the man standing before me; it was N!

"Wha-wha-wha…" I blubbered stupidly. I turned to the Chandelure quickly and it too, with a puff of smoke, morphed back into Laika the Zorua. I sat there frozen for a moment. IT WAS AN ILLUSION!!!???

"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!!" I exploded, and N raised his hands in sheepishly in an attempt to calm me down. "YOU SCARED ME HALF TO DEATH YOU…YOU!!!"

"I'm sorry," He said honestly, sweating slightly. "It was… mostly Laika's idea…"
I turned to the Zorua to see it leering at me mischievously. She loved my reaction. I was about to blow my lid a second time but I forced myself to calmed down. Now wasn't the time to get worked up.

"Don't try to stop me N…I'm getting out of this castle," I said to him, being as straight forward as I could.

"Alright," He said understandingly. I stared at him blankly. Had I misheard? I wasn't expecting that reaction from him, especially with the scene he'd made earlier this morning. I looked into his eyes with confusion and he stared directly at me with a stern but somehow calm expression.

"Then how exactly do you plan to get out of this place?" He asked. I was about to answer but stopped when I realized I didn't know what to say. He continued anyway, "Many more soldiers, besides the ones that nearly captured you just now, patrol this castle left and right. How do you plan to evade them all?" I stood there motionless under N's unbreaking gaze. "And let's say you could, somehow, get passed them. Where is the exit? Do you even know how to get out of this castle?"

My silence was a good enough answer.

"I thought so," He said closing his eyes, finally breaking that hard stare before resuming it a moment later. "Do you really think you can win Touko?" He asked, staring into me again with a look so heavy I'm surprised I didn't collapse under the pressure. But I already had an answer to his question. He was right, he was right more than anything. I didn't know the way out. I didn't know how I would get passed the guards without Pokémon of my own. I didn't know if I could really free the world but…

"I'm not going to let the world burn because of me," I answered, looking straight into N's eyes, "I'm sick of just rotting here and doing nothing! I'm going to change something, and I'm not going to give up! No matter what happens, whether you help me… or not," I frowned deeply, not daring to break my gaze.

N stared at me with a look that made it seem like he wasn't convinced. For a few moments of dread, I'd thought that he was going to take hold of me and escort me forcefully back to his chambers. But that didn't happen. N broke his steely expression with a huge smile.

"Good answer!" He said happily, "I knew you had an unbreakable spirit Touko!" He turned around and began to walk, "Follow me."

"Wha… wait! Where!?"

He paused, glancing over his shoulder; viewing me with a grin spreading over his blackened cheek, "I'm going to bring you to your Pokémon."


Chapter 5
Breaking Out [Part Two] (…The puppet king betrays the seven gods)


"I'll take you to your team"

I kept running that line over and over in my head, but the more times it played the less real it seemed. I wasn't imagining it was I? Did N really say those words? Even as I followed behind Team Plasma's king, as quickly as my battered legs would allow, I could not be sure of our destination. Was N really taking me to my Pokémon or was he leading me to my death? N seemed so resolute about keeping me away from my Pokémon before, so why the change of heart now? Was it because I had finally acted on my own and escaped? I couldn't make sense of it.

It's obviously a trap… The subconscious voice of negativity bubbled to the surface of my thoughts again. It drove me insane. I thought I'd silenced it once and for all the second I stepped foot out the windows of N's chambers. But it was back seemingly stronger than ever now.

You're being disposed of… how thick do you have to be not to see that? You're too dangerous for your own good. Now the king of team Plasma will deliver personally your requiem.

I had to refrain from bludgeoning myself over the head to silence those thoughts. I didn't want to give in and believe those words, because I knew N wasn't the type of person for deception or hate and I knew he didn't want to hurt me. My confidence in N far outweighed any thoughts of negativity which fought against him. I would have to put my trust into the young king and see where he took me.

We didn't run into a soul during our walk which came as a surprise. I kept half-expecting another duo of Plasma soldiers to show up and cause trouble, but they never did. I guessed it was because N was keeping away from the more populated areas of the castle. He knew this place far better than I did. He knew how to maneuver these halls unnoticed. Eventually, after a fair amount of walking, we reached a hallway built with white tile terminating at a featureless black door.

We came to a stop in front of the door and N placed his hand over the empty surface, and it slid open with an electronic whine.

"They are in here," He gestured for me to enter, "After you."

I gave him a quiet stare. Hesitating as the negative voice within my head took its final chance to shout its last warnings at me. I sucked in a breath and proceeded into the dark room.

The lights flickered on upon my entry, illuminating a large empty room built out of some black material. But the more I stared at it I couldn't figure out what it was. It wasn't stone nor tile, but it held resemblance to some sort of electronic grid. Jagged lines ran across the floor, flashing from time to time as if catching sunlight in a windowless room. I walked in, staring all around quickly, trying to find signs of danger or signs that my Pokémon were present. At the far end of the room I spotted a large white box which resembled a safe in nature resting atop a black table-like platform. N drifted past me as silent as a ghost, heading to the safe box. Once reaching his destination he turned to me and smiled.

"Come on," He coaxed. I hurried over to him quickly, padding silently across the grid-like floor.

N reached over and began punching numbers into the key pad set in the center of the box. After the digits had been inputted into the safe's locking mechanism, and the code was approved, the lid popped open. N grabbed the door, pulling it to reveal a group of six Pokéballs resting on a pillow inside. My breath was caught in my throat.

N smiled at my reaction, which was anything short of astounded, "Go ahead. Take one…"
I glanced at him in numb shock with thoughts too muddled to process anything. I hardly even heard what he'd just said. Laika barked impatiently beside me nipping my leg softly.
"Ouch! Alright, alright!" I reached into the safe and grabbed hold of the first Pokéball that caught my eye. I held onto the ball capsule in my trembling fist, feeling a dull heat emanating from within. My heart was going wild. I turned to the empty room and called out my first Pokémon.

In a flash of red light a figure landed onto the ground with a thud. As its image began to materialize my heart was overcome by a rush of emotion. An Emboar sat huddled on the floor, curled up protectively as if expecting to be struck. Once it realized it had been released it brought up its guard, snarling angrily, spewing smoke from its nose, probably expecting to be greeted by Plasma soldiers. But instead it saw me.

"…Hyle…" I choked out the name of my first Pokémon, my starter, the one who had been with me since the very beginning. The rush of nostalgia I was feeling was almost unbearable. I ran towards my Emboar, tears already flying from my eyes and threw my arms around his bulk, sobbing like a maniac. Hyle overcame his shock quickly and returned the hug, nearly crushing my tiny frame with his burly arms.

"I can't believe you're okay!" I babbled through a wave of tears, "I thought you'd…" I couldn't finish that thought. I didn't want to think about any member of my team being dead. Hyle snorted an affectionate response, spewing more acrid smoke into the air which soon had me gagging. I couldn't blame my Emboar though. I'd be spewing smoke out of my nostrils in joy too if I were him.

"Let's go bring out the others okay!" I shouted with excitement, rushing back to the safe where N and Laika were waiting patiently and scooping up the rest of the Pokéballs in my arms. I threw out another Pokéball from the pile in my arms and my Galvantula named Terra materialized before me. Her reaction was much the same as Hyle's. She flung herself unto me, embracing me with all four of her spiny legs. I hauled her up in my arms, laughing as my hair sprung up from static.

Hana, my female Carracosta, was the next to be called out. I was shocked to find many deep cracks and gashes coating her obsidian shell. I reached out a trembling hand, touching the gouges lightly with the tips of my fingers, feeling the broken shell against my skin.

"I'm sorry," I croaked, trying to halt another wave of tears from gushing out of my already puffy red eyes. Hana smiled back humbly, understandingly. Even though we couldn't communicate through words I knew she didn't blame me for this. Her eyes said it all.

With another bright flash, the remainder of my Pokémon team forced their way out of their balls and appeared around me, nearly scaring me right out of my skin. They must have sensed I was near and they were too excited to wait until I called them out individually.

Ophelia my Lilligant, Rhoden my Braviary and Luca my Bisharp crowded around me. My heart jumped straight to my throat when I laid eyes on my Bisharp. Luca, much the same as Hana, was covered head to toe in deep gashes and scars. He had been marred from the Focus Blast that Hydreigon shot. His armor was brutally cracked and the many sharp blades which coated his body had shattered off. Even the axe-like blade on his helm had broken. And looking to the rest of my Pokémon I could see all of them carried some scar or old wound from the battle with Ghetsis. Ophelia's torn leaves. Rhoden's tousled feathers just barely concealed soft pink scar lines. Terra's limping gait, Hyle's bruises…

I broke down.

"I'm sorry," I sobbed, falling to my knees. "I… I never wanted…" I couldn't continue through the tears that just kept gushing out. I'd been bottling up the sadness for so long, never giving it an outlet, and now it all came rushing out as if a dam had collapsed. My Pokémon drew near, hoping to offer some comfort.

"They don't blame you," I looked up to see N approach, his image blurred by my tears. He smiled down at me, "They want you to know that none of this is your fault, Touko…" I stared at him, blinking away the moisture in my eyes. "You no longer have to blame yourself either… if you're willing to stand up and fight."

He was right. I didn't have to sit around and feel sorry for myself any longer. A rush of determination flared through my body. My Pokémon weren't dead and neither was I. My heart was still beating and I knew that we could change this world together. We were alive.

"Alright guys!" I roared, jumping to my feet. "I know we've been out of commission for a long time. And during that time Ghetsis has used our weakness to consume Unova with his
power," My heart fluttered, seeing the determination sparking in my Pokémon's eyes. "But it's not going to stay that way for long!" I shouted, "We're going to knock Ghetsis off this throne and put everything back to the way it's supposed to be!"

"Hyle!" Plumes of dark smoke erupted out of my Emboar's nostrils. "Ophelia," My Lilligant smiled humbly. "Terra," The air crackled with electric current around my Galvantula's body. "Hana," My Carracosta stomped the ground hard. "Rhoden," Braviary beat his massive wings heavily, flaring the plumage on his chest. "Luca," My battle-scarred Bisharp sliced at the air.

"We're breaking out of here tonight!"

Those final words felt like a battle cry and I was spurred into action. I returned my team back into their Pokéballs, eager to finally get out of this castle and escape. If the king would let me that is. I turned to N, blinking away the tears in my eyes. "Will you help me?"

"I will." His answer was instant.

"Why?"

He simply stared.

"I mean…" I felt a sudden flush come to my cheeks, "You never wanted to help me escape before. Why now? What's changed?" I hated asking him that kind of question because it felt like I was cutting down to the bone. But I needed an answer from him. I needed to make sure he was on my side.

It was N's turn to avoid my gaze, "I just… don't want you to be sad anymore Touko."
My heart felt heavy, and I couldn't seem to find words to form an answer. I just kept staring at the bruise on his face. N was never easy to read, and even though I'd known him for a long while and got considerably close to him, I still couldn't see past the wall he'd crafted. I couldn't read him, or see what his true intentions were. But I knew he was acting out of kindness. He wanted to help me save this world, and all the people and Pokémon within it.

Even though I knew there was more than what was told to his answer, he wouldn't let me waste anymore time here.

"We should leave," N said, breaking his gaze with the floor. I nodded, although a bit reluctantly, and both of us headed to the door. But before we could leave the room the door slid open for us. I gasped, expecting to be swamped by a rush of Plasma soldiers. N, on the same train of thought as I, stepped forward defensively but stopped abruptly when he saw the figures standing there were not Plasma soldiers.

"Peace…Love…" He gasped. It was Anthea and Concordia who stood silently in the doorway. I was surprised to see them and honestly they were the last people I was expecting to see. Instead of attacking or halting our passage, they bowed respectively at the presence of their king.

"We are not here to stop you," Anthea said in her usually soft voice.

"We thought that you might be needing this, miss Touko," Concordia held out a folded pair of clothes and the old bag from my travels. They both smiled at me, "We can't have you running around in those clothes." I looked down at the thin T-shirt and shorts that I was still wearing. They were right. These clothes were the furthest thing from battle-wear.

"R-right!" My cheeks were flaring again as I took the clothes and bag from Concordia, "Thank you so much."

N and company waited outside the room as I got to changing. I yanked on a pair of dark blue jeans and tied up my pink-laced black boots. I pulled a white shirt over my head and shrugged on a black, long-sleeved jacket. Tying my hair into a tight pony-tail and putting on my old white cap were the finishing touches. It was time to go. I took a quick glance inside my old pink bag to find it stocked with Pokéballs, clothes, food, other useful supplies and the like. It made me wonder how long Anthea and Concordia had been planning to see me off with this.

I waited not a second longer and exited the room to find them waiting. I wanted to thank Anthea and Concordia for all that they had done for me but my emotions got the better of me and I threw my arms around them, sobbing out my gratitude.

N held his hand out to me, "Let's go. Touko." I looked down towards his feet to find Laika smiling eagerly, ready to take off. I returned the look twofold, grabbed onto N's hand and the three of us sped down the halls together, exit bound.

As we raced through the castle, running beside lapping streams and belting down staggering stairwells, I realized that without N I would have been completely lost. Team Plasma's castle was immense and there were so many unmarked hallways and paths that lead everywhere or nowhere at all. Without him as my guide I'd be better off dead.

We encountered some resistance on our way out, which didn't surprise me. I felt more shocked by the lack thereof of Plasma soldiers. It was almost refreshing running into some opposition. I know that sounds crazy enough, but now that I had my Pokémon with me again I wanted nothing more than to beat down some Plasma grunts. The thought delighted me and when I saw a duo of Plasma guards rushing at us from the end of a long hallway. I didn't even hesitate.

"Watchog go!" One of them shouted under his black visor, calling out his ferret like Pokémon.

"Krookodile, end them here!" Another one called out a beastly looking, burgundy crocodile which barred its gleaming fangs.

"I've got this!" I shouted to N, taking the lead, not breaking our dash.

"Hyle! Ophelia, let's go!!" It felt great to say that again. Emboar and Lilligant launched out, ready to fight. "Hyle, use Brick Break on that Watchog. Ophelia use Giga Drain on Krookodile!" I shouted.

The hallway was just long enough that I didn't have to stop running while my Pokémon attacked, which was great since I didn't want to break our momentum. Both of their Pokémon were taken down in one hit. Hyle smashed his fists into the ferret's gut, causing it to spew a wave of blood onto the shimmering floors. Ophelia drained all of Krookodile's energy from a bundle of vines which shot from under the folds of her leaf-like body. Her methods weren't as bloody as Hyle's but they were just as ruthless. The Krookodile fell into a heap over the ground; completely drained of all its strength. I called my Pokémon back into the confinement of their balls as N and I sped past the defeated grunts. We left them in silence.

After running what felt like a marathon through this ridiculously large castle, N and I finally reached the exit. We burst through a grand door, after leaping down another staircase, and entered a massive hall built out of light blue rock. Another staircase descended below us which connected with the ground floor. And beyond that was a massive door built with the same light blue as the rest of the area, embellished with golden swirls and runes. This was unmistakably the exit.

"That's it!" N said taking my hand and leading me down the staircase with haste, watching to make sure I didn't trip and fall on my face, which I'm surprised didn't happen considering how fast we were going. We touched down at the bottom of the stairwell, belting forward on aching legs. My legs were searing with absolute pain and I could imagine that N was feeling much the same. It was hard to not just flop down and give up but I'd abandoned that state of mind now. Giving up as not an option. N and I reached the door and when he began pulling it open I expected an army of Plasma guards to fly down from the ceiling and crush us. Though, oddly enough none of them ever did.

Once the door had been jarred, we launched ourselves through the opening and out into the world beyond. An icy breeze blew across the landscape, not even stirring dust. The temperature change came as a shock to me; the wind even found a way to pierce through my sweater.

The world outside of this castle looked just the same as it always had from my perch above the clouds, dead and barren. Even the trees avoided growing in this ground, apart from a single tree I saw waving in the distance, blackened by death, scratching the distant sun with its claw-like branches.

"Over there!" N pointed to a massive metal wall looming over the horizon, "The grounds of the castle end there!"

"Let's go!" I shouted, trying as best I could to ignore the protest of my legs.

The black wall crowning in the horizon inched closer and closer at a snail's pace as we sped along. I huffed, my lungs now burning with each breath. I couldn't keep up this running and I didn't want to chance calling out my Braviary. We were still too close to the castle for flight. I dreaded the soldiers launching attacks from their battlements. Running seemed like the best option, no matter how excruciating. I suddenly noticed with a nauseating jolt that N wasn't running beside me anymore. I whipped around to see him standing behind a few feet away.

"N…!" I gasped, desperately trying to catch my breath, "Come on!"
He smiled at me sadly and shook his head. "You go on ahead, Touko. Laika and I will hold them off here," Laika came up beside him and growled ferociously. Although I couldn't take it too seriously while looking at her size.

"No!" I shouted, winded, "I'm not leaving without you!" I ran over to him, grabbing hold of his arm and staring straight into him, "I'm not going to leave you to die here!" He stared at me with barely legible remorse.

"I won't abandon you," I choked out. A spark of shock flickered across N's face and it was anything but hidden. I must have plucked a heart string, though I didn't have the time to mull over those thoughts as a voice cut through the howling wind: stopping my heart.

"Well, well, well,"

N and I both froze. Our heads spun around towards the looming obelisk of Team Plasma's castle to see none other than Ghetsis treading over the desolate landscape, the wind lashing at his hair, a snicker brandished across his face.

"It seems the mouse has escaped."

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

Author Note:
Hope you all enjoyed this one. Also, to avoid the confusion of dumping all of Touko's Pokemon on you at once, I have devised this little list to help you tell who is who.

Legend: Species Name (gender) nickname [Type] *nature {ability}

Emboar (male) Hyle [Fire/fight] *Hasty nature {Blaze}
Lilligant (female) Ophelia [grass] *Quiet nature {Own Tempo}
Carracosta (female) Hana [water/rock] *Modest nature {Sturdy}
Braviary (male)Rhoden [normal/flying] *Brave nature {Keen *****
Bisharp (male) Luca [dark/steel] *Serious nature {Inner Focus}
Galvantula (female) Terra [electric/bug] *Naive nature {Compoundeyes}

and if you haven't guessed already, Laika is naughty nature, hehehe.
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