The Fall to Redemption [PG-13]
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September 29th, 2012 (05:59 AM).
Join Date: Aug 2010
Chapter 8 - The Pirates of Slateport City
While the Dewford islanders feasted around bonfires, Zebedee and his gang of merchants huddled in a dark alley to discuss matters of survival. "We're traitors to the Empire," one declared. "There'll be no mercy."
"Hang on, this new Leader looks young," another chimed. "If we keep him happy he should leave us be."
"Did you see how quickly he took out Brawly?" a third snapped. "That boy is an animal! Let's send word to the Cult while we still can. Better to be protected by those fanatics than suffer another day under the Emperor's boot!"
I coughed to make myself known. The conspirators immediately put on their most pleasing faces, bowing and scraping before me even though my presence clearly revolted them. "I got what I came for," I explained. "So I'm leaving. You guys do whatever you want."
"Leaving? Where will you go, Dear Leader?"
"Mauville. That's where the next leader is stationed, right?"
It was like I'd flipped on a light switch - the merchants' faces suddenly brightened with realization. "You've come to free us all," Zebedee gasped. Then he laughed and launched into planning. "Brilliant strategy, my Lord! We'll lure the Emperor's armies to our island; they'll leave only a token guard within the cities. The leaders will be easy prey for you, the assassin of Dewford!"
"Umm, okay." I'd been serious when I told them 'go do whatever', but if they wanted to wrap a noose around their necks, be my guest. Zebedee carried on.
"Samson, gather every bird on the island! We've got a story for that news reporter out in Fortree: Dewford is going to war!"
"A badge?" Norman's puzzled voice crackled over the pokenav. "That's what makes Leader White so strong - some sort of magic pendant?"
It was morning and Barclay and I had set sail for the harbour city of Slateport - the closest dock between us and Mauville City. Steering the boat was a one person affair, so that left me with time on my hands to catch up with Norman. The ranger had been shocked to hear from me after I'd challenged Brawly's unstoppable makuhita, and dumbfounded to learn I had completed the first of the Oracle's seven trials. It was a day to be amazed, especially after I explained the secret to my victory.
"A badge - that's all there is to it. Yank it off and Leader White will be harmless as a skitty."
Norman's sad laugh told me that would be easier said than done. "Have you seen all the jewellery that man wears? Even if you managed to pin him down, how'd we figure out which was the magic one?"
"I'll be able to tell. When I grabbed Brawly's badge it gave me this weird flashback and I remembered something from Johto."
"No kidding. What'd you see?"
It was like watching a movie from my point of view. At first, there were only rapid cuts. Another teenage boy - chubby, greasy hair and glasses. Our voices laugh together. We whisper in class together. My hand high-fives his own. We are inseparable.
Then a longer scene. The empty halls of a high school bob through my vision. I zero in on the chunky boy at his locker. My voice calls out. "Rodgerigo, how's it going?"
He's fast for such a husky fellow. His hands grab my collar and he throws me into the lockers. "How could you do this to me?" he hisses. "I thought you had my back!"
My past self understands the situation as poorly as I do. "Whoa, what's gotten into you?" Roderigo's face is red and sweaty. The guy is off his rocker! He's trying to decide how best to lash out at me when a set of footsteps interrupts. He lets me go, pretends to act natural, but he whispers a warning.
"I swear to God, Virgil, I'm going to kill you!"
"I didn't see much," I told Norman. "Just an old friend."
"Well for now you just concentrate on getting to Mauville City. I'll keep an eye on things here in Petalburg - see if I can't figure out any more about these magic badges. Oh, and before I go, I've got someone here that'll leave you surprised as a sucker-punched sigilyph." There was some shuffling on the other end, and then a woman's gentle "hello?" whispered through the line.
"Linda?" So Norman was broadcasting from Littleroot. "Um, hey! How's it going?"
"Oh, things are quiet back here, but you probably don't want to hear about my days."
"No, it's cool. I mean, it's not like I've got much to do right now except sit around and wait for dry land to show up." And to be honest it was kind of nice to speak with Linda. Between all the islanders shoving their fake smiles in my face and the thinly-veiled disgust of Zebedee and his gang it was refreshing to hear from a voice that genuinely liked me.
What a weird thing to say. Linda liked me.
"So, Norman tells me you're on some sort of journey around the continent."
He probably left out the more violent details of my odyssey. "Something like that. If I can collect these seven special jewels, the Oracle will send me home. I've already got one!"
"Well I'm not surprised," Linda smiled. "You're very stubborn about doing things your own way. Are Megumi and Beatrice behaving themselves?"
"Oh, they're doing great." I popped out her zigzagoon and let the stripy girl bark 'hello' across the pokenav. "And listen to this: Beatrice evolved! She's a beautifly."
Linda didn't respond right away. "I was expecting a dustox," she remarked. "Well that must be your doing, Virgil. She's had a strong role model to guide her."
We went on trading small talk - Linda chatting about her garden, and how Professor Birch's roof had started leaking - but I couldn't get her comment about Beatrice out of my mind. Wurmple are finicky pokemon when it comes to evolution. Biologists all agree that personality is a big influence on each bug's metamorphosis; so much so that the emotions and vibes given off by a trainer can affect the outcome. Beautiflies are the exclusive pets of bright and peppy teenage girls while dustox are the poster pokemon for miserable emo kids. Did Linda really think so little of herself as to expect a dustox?
She's always so cheery, though.
It made me wonder what sort of scar Linda kept hidden under her bandaged arm. It made me wonder how she died.
Eventually Norman had to get back to the capital and Linda had to sign off. "Take care of yourself," I mumbled. Then Norman returned to the line.
"One last piece of advice: when you get to Slateport, move through as quickly as you can. That city was taken by the Cult of Aqua years back and no amount of pressure from the Emperor's army has been able to reclaim it."
"Yeah, I got the feeling we were headed into pirate territory," and it wasn't just because of the half-sunken ships we kept passing. Barclay was a nervous wreck - hands trembling as he worked the ropes, and legs wobbling as though he'd never set foot on a ship. I guess he still wasn't over his deadly brush with the Cult or his survivor's guilt over losing his friends. I only hoped he wouldn't have a complete nervous breakdown once we got to Slateport. "What's with these cultists, anyway? I get that they're against the Emperor but they beat up on regular people just as much as the Leaders. What're they after?"
"Virgil, in their sick and sad little minds they're just trying to save us all."
We disconnected, and I took a good hard look over my pokemon, wondering if they were ready for another clash with pirates. Beatrice and Winry might hold their own. The taillow lead my flying team up in the air, coaching Linda's beautifly and newcomer Dolce on how to keep aloft over the ocean currents. Winry paused frequently to admire the ropes and pulleys of our magical floating machine, but the others knocked her back into focus. Megumi was racing up and down the boat looking for little bits of rope or wood to add to her shiny object collection.
Yeah, big help there.
I tried releasing Trisha but the sable-gull still couldn't shape herself beyond a puddle.
The pirates wouldn't recognize her as wingull, anyway.
I wouldn't get any more free passes on account of being 'chosen' by the ocean.
Robin had planted herself at the ship's prow, nervously clenching her talons and trying to keep brave before the rolling water. Still, every time we hit a big crest she would wail and run back to seek comfort from Amon. The wolf wasn't any help - he just barked in her face and forced her to shamble back and confront the waves. Okay, that mutt was getting ridiculous.
"Dude, she's practically throwing herself at you. Lighten up and quit ragging on her to be tough; you might just get somewhere with her."
Amon actually snapped his jaws at me. I guess wolves didn't take kindly to relationship advice. Well, I hope he enjoyed being alone because right now he was my best bet against any pirate attacks.
I should have been fishing all this time,
I need a water type, or something that can hold its own against a whole bunch of fish...
It didn't matter much anyway. Barclay stuttered out a "Land Ho," and I had to help paddle though the shallow waters until we slid onto a sandy beach. "This reef is too shallow for the Cult galleons to approach," Barclay explained. "We should be able to disembark unnoticed."
Actually, our landing was greeted by a loud barking. Barclay and Mish-Mush squealed and hid themselves while I ran to the prow to check out the welcoming committee. From a distance the pokemon had the shape of a green sandile, but as it trotted close I could make out its short fur, bobbing tail and happily panting tongue. An electrike. I jumped down to the sand.
"Well hey there, fella!" He seemed friendly enough, sniffing my hand and then pouncing on my chest to cover me in sloppy kisses. "Aww, yuck! What's this you got around your neck?" A necklace with dog tags? "Says here you name's Michael, huh?" I scanned the beach for possible owners then very discreetly tagged the pup with a pokeball and let him out again. Michael didn't seem to object; if anything, he seemed pleased to be recognized by a master. "I guess you're with me, then." It was weird how all of these random wild pokemon were running up to befriend me but I wasn't too phased by it anymore. Maybe the animals of the land were all fed up with the Emperor's rule of terror and looking to join the resistance movement. Well, I wouldn't say 'no' to an electric type! I found a stick and tested Michael with a game of fetch. "Go get it, boy!"
An electric bolt fried the stick in mid-air. Only when the smoking husk imbedded in the sand did Michael deem it worthy of 'fetching'. "Very good boy!"
Megumi and my flyers landed on the beach and exchanged greetings with the newcomer. The thunder-pup shied away from the huge crowd but eventually he gave everyone a careful sniff. Then Robin hopped off the boat. Michael took one look at the fire chick and his legs fell out from beneath him. Well, all of sudden he was bounding with energy, racing around the combusken with his tail wagging up a storm! Robin seemed flattered by the sudden attention and gave Michael a careful scratch behind the ears. The pup's eyes rolled back and his foot kicked as though he'd entered paradise.
Then Amon leapt onto the beach. The wolf cub had grown big during our trip - his legs had lengthened, his coat had grown shaggy and black and he was standing a lot taller and a lot meaner than little Michael. The electrike's tail dropped between his legs as the mightyena prowled up and started sniffing. Robin chirped out what I assumed was an introduction. Amon barked at her, and didn't stop snapping in her face until she'd stepped far away from the green dog. Michael yapped in her defense.
Don't talk to her like that!
Amon zeroed in on the new pack member, crushing the electrike under a paw and leaning close to demonstrate just how sharp his teeth were. Michael whimpered and averted his gaze. Amon snorted.
You're not even worth it, kid.
I was wondering whether to intervene when something behind us caught both dogs' attention. Barclay had plunged an oar into the water and was pushing our boat out to sea! I splashed into the water and grabbed the ship. "Hey, what's going on?"
"My apologies, good Virgil, but I can assist you no further. I've reached the limits of my endurance." The monk was trembling all over, and when he saw me holding back the ship he actually tried to smack off my fingers!
"Ow! Come on, Barclay - stop beating yourself up! You're just a monk! No one expected you to save your friends from a bunch of armed pirates!"
"Well of course not!" he roared. "My brothers never asked the unreasonable.
Stay on the ship, Barclay. Keep watch while we go ashore.
Well I kept watch and I saw the Cult galleon approaching the island. I saw that it would intercept us before my brothers could return, and I saw my choice. I could stay with my brothers and fight, or I could leave and save my shroomish." Barclay paused to wipe his eyes. "Well... here I am."
Our struggle froze. "Wait, you left them? As in, on purpose?" I thought the monks had all run their separate ways! "You left them so you could save a stupid mushroom!?" I ducked a rather nasty swing at my head.
"Shut up! You're one to talk, you spoiled brat - throwing away pokemon because they're sick or disabled! You don't know what it's like, having only one or two companions! I go out into a world where every man is my enemy and the only thing keeping me safe is my poor Mish-Mush! I can't lose him!" The pokemaniac swung down his oar like an axe. This time I caught it and used my leverage to shove him off his feet. I grabbed the boat and continued pulling.
"Man up, Barclay! Somebody's gotta show me through this land, and Roxanne said you're staying with me until I'm finished."
Barclay glared as he wiped the blood from his nose. "Don't think my Lady will be too heartbroken when she hears you've failed." Mish-Mush bounded atop the railing and sprayed a jet of yellow spores in my face. I suddenly felt weak, and just gripping the boat felt horribly tiring. I plunged into the water and let sleep overtake me.
Once more I woke up in the sand, surrounded by pokemon. "Let me guess, he got away?" Amon shrugged. "Yeah, thanks for the help, you lot." Although I guess they had pulled me ashore...
I looked around - nothing but sand and surf; I couldn't even see the pinprick of our ship on the horizon. Marooned on Pirate Island.
Thanks a lot, Barclay.
Well, I could either build an impromptu fishing rod to catch a whole school of magikarp, tie myself to the flopping fishies and use them to drag me back to Dewford, or I could take my chances in Slateport.
Not much of a choice. Magikarp are lousy swimmers.
Slateport was a town of two minds. To my left I found a meadow of simple homes and a huge, open-air market. Very colourful, very inviting. On my right I discovered a harbor of smoke-belching factories and cranes loading weaponry onto pirate ships. Very nasty, very disturbing. The city's main street was lined with suspended cages holding prisoners of the Cult. Four of the fresher bodies wore green robes.
Gulping, I zapped up my team and ordered lone-wolf Amon to circle around town. If that hobo from the forest had found his headband and made his way home I did not want to be noticed. Only Megumi stayed in my arms; hopefully people would focus on her goofball face instead of my own.
Like their city, the people of Slateport were neatly divided: pirates and civilians. If you wore the blue bandana of Aqua you were king. You could grab food from any market stall, harass anyone who looked at you funny and generally make a pig of yourself. Otherwise, you kept your head down and your mouth shut. You could go about your business so long as you kept out of Aqua's way. I vaguely remembered a similar occupation taking place in Goldenrod ...
Clothing seemed to indicate your status within the cult. Don't get me wrong, they all dressed like filthy hobos: some pirates wore only pants, others managed a shirt, and one brave weirdo strutted about in a toga, but they all featured the same sloppy patchwork I'd seen in Petalburg Forest. I passed two pirates locked in a fistfight; the winner tore a strip of black cloth from the loser's pants. He high-fived his buddies and modeled the new sleeve for his t-shirt. I made a mental note to stay far away from any pirates in three-piece suits.
A church bell rang. Civilians dropped their business and shuffled off to the piers. One pirate saw my startled face and shoved me along. "Sermon's starting," he growled.
Mass was conducted in the middle of the harbor. One of the boating docks had been built up into an elevated stage complete with a blue skull-and-crossbones banner and a crane looming over the water.
Maybe they'll try fishing for their god.
Pirate guards took position around the perimeter so no one could sneak off. A woman with fiery red hair and a predator's eye took the stage. She must have been one of the higher-ups: besides the rag wrapped around her chest she also wore a vest made from the same sparkling blue cloth as her bandana. I pushed forward to get a better look and ended up bumping a kid in a pink dress. The skitty in her arms hissed.
"Watch it," the girl snapped. "I wanna see deacon Shelly talk!" On stage the red-headed woman raised a metal cone to project her voice.
"People of Slateport! We, the sons and daughters of the Ocean, give thanks for your generosity. We prayed for a home at which to rest our bodies and you welcomed us unquestioningly. We prayed for bread and honey to nourish our souls and you gave selflessly. We prayed for a vessel to embark on our sacred journey -" she gestured past the cult battleships to a factory churning out black smoke, "and now the
is all but complete."
The speech confused me. "When she says 'prayed' she means 'demanded with violence', right?" The little girl shushed me again.
"The Ocean sees your good deeds and takes pity on you tainted masses. It bids us, the children of Aqua, to baptize another of you unbelievers into our fold! Today, the Ocean has called a man steeped in the sins of blasphemy!" Two pirate guards shoved a young man with a goatee on stage. His hands were bound and his face looked incredibly weary, as though he hadn't slept in a week. He immediately fell to his knees. Deacon Shelly came to the prisoner's side and offered her megaphone. "Tell them your name."
The boy's voice was thin and scratchy from dehydration. "J-Jacob..." he whispered. The deacon kicked his gut. "J-JACOB!" he shouted for those at the very back. Shelly turned to the crowd.
"Like you, Jacob was an unbeliever! Like you, Jacob refused homage to the Ocean! Tell them, Jacob, of the dark paths your life of sin led you down!"
Jacob struggled to find his words. "I d-d-don't unders-s-tand. My pokemon was sick so I went d-d-diving for shoal shells -" Shelly slapped him across the face.
"You went diving! You violated the Ocean with your sinful body! You pillaged the sea floor of its bountiful treasures!" The pirates in the audience booed and cursed.
"N-no," Jacob sputtered. "I mean, I didn't mean to -"
"So you acted in ignorance! You admit to a life of sin and stupidity!" Every defense Jacob raised, the deacon tore down with her water-worshipping logic. "I feel your pain, Jacob. When the Father found me, I was like you. I was a farmer - living off the land in woeful ignorance of the bounties given unto us by the Ocean. I suckled on the lies of the Emperor, gorging myself on empty promises of salvation! But today I stand before you, cleansed and reborn by the waters of the Ocean! Jacob, the day of your resurrection is at hand!"
It was a beautiful sermon but wasted on the prisoner, who'd regressed to sobbing and blubbering up snot and making an embarrassment of himself. "P-please, I just wanna go home..." The crowd was growing restless with the delays. "Get on with it!" the pink-dress girl roared. Shelly rolled her eyes and knelt at Jacob's side. I think she was trying to whisper out a heart-to-heart but her megaphone remained close enough to accidentally project her voice.
"Look kid, the boss needs more muscle and I gotta baptize somebody today. Now I can take you, or I can take that sweet little peach you went shell diving with. So who's it gonna be?" Jacob's body went stiff. Satisfied, the deacon stood up and resumed her preaching.
"Do you, Jacob, reject the land and all its empty promises?"
"Yes," Jacob mumbled. "I mean, I do." Shelly motioned for his restraints to be cut and a chalice was brought forth.
"Do you reject the Emperor, prince of lies, and all his works?"
"And what do you ask of the Ocean, Jacob?"
Jacob tipped his head back and in a loud, plaintive voice, cried, "Salvation!" The Aquas of the crowd whooped. Even the civilians started a slow clap. Jacob had chosen wisely.
"We're getting to the good part," a man behind me grinned.
Shelly handed over the chalice and Jacob slurped down the clear liquid. "Accept the Ocean, Jacob! Let it purge the sins of the land from your body!" As if on command, the ex-diver started retching.
That's salt water!
Deacon Shelly waited until Jacob's bowels were emptied, then she turned once more to the crowd. Jacob turned to face them too, marveling at how the squall of enemies had suddenly become a sea of applauding friends.
"Th-that wasn't so bad," he laughed. The deacon just looked at him with a maniac's grin.
"Your spirit is found willing, Jacob, but your body is weak. To enter among the true believers you must be cleansed; stripped of your tainted and sinful flesh." To the crowd she asked, "And how shall we cleanse him? What instrument has the Ocean delivered unto this purpose?"
The crowd roared as one. "Carvanhas!!"
My jaw dropped along with Jacob's. He didn't even have time to try and run. Two guards grabbed him and pinned his body to a huge log - lashing down arms, chest and neck and then hooking up the log to the giant crane behind the stage. "You can't do this!" Jacob screeched. "Help me! Somebody get me outta here!"
The crowd couldn't hear him over its maddening cheers. Pirate and civilian alike, they lived for these horror shows. Everyone was fighting for a front row seat and I was pushed along to the water's edge, now bubbling like a boiling pot as a school of savage pokemon snapped their hungry jaws at the descending meal. Megumi and I shut our eyes, but we couldn't keep out the screaming. Jacob screaming as the dark fish swarmed his body; the mob roaring and clapping at the show. "Rip him good!" yelled the pink-dress girl.
When I finally peaked, the pirates were winching up the leftover hunk of meat and picking off the fish still persistent enough for one more bite. The ropes were cut and the torso fell to the stage. One guard quickly covered the mess with a white blanket - the cloth that would become Jacob's patchwork uniform - and a second carefully secured a blue bandana over Jacob's untouched head. I could hear the squish and crackle of re-growing bones and I looked away.
Deacon Shelly, for all her rabble-rousing, had lost all interest in the aftermath, kneeling at the pier's edge and scanning the red liquid like a fortune teller scrying tea leaves. Suddenly, her face lit up and she plunged her arms into the water, pulling up a squealing azurill. Shelly carried the pokemon to Jacob's side, where it immediately jumped and clung to the half-eaten man. "The Ocean has bestowed unto you a protector, Brother Jacob. May you both grow strong in the service of Aqua."
No response. Jacob's mind was broken with pain. Shelly closed his eyes and tousled his hair.
"Who else?" the deacon bellowed. "Who else among you unwashed masses has the courage to seek salvation?"
The crowd shuffled and backed away, coughing and averting their eyes as Shelly's gaze swooped over them. The pink-dress girl flashed me a devil's grin before shouting, "This guy! Hey, over here! Do him next!" I ducked my head but the damage was done: a few people started glancing our way. I backpedaled but the girl grabbed my shirt and dug down her heels. "He's getting away!"
I shoved her to the ground. Pure self-defense, okay? Well the brat started bawling, and nothing gets a mob's attention like a little girl's tears. Her skitty hissed and bristled its fur, preparing to attack. Megumi growled back and wriggled out of my arms to intercept. The hellcat swiped at Megumi's neck and Linda's zigzagoon froze.
Megumi went limp as a rag doll. Her eyes were wide with shock and her chin dribbled out a river of blood. "Megumi?" I dropped to my knees, shook the stupid, rock-chasing zigzagoon to get a response. Nothing.
The pink-dress girl blew a raspberry. "Nya-nya, stupid zigzagoon!"
My punch sent her flying in one direction and her teeth in another. I would have taken another swing except two pirate guards yanked me off my feet. "I see one among us in dire need of reformation," Shelly crowed. "Child, let's see if the Ocean can't temper your wrath!"
I ignored her. All I wanted was to get that girl. "You little monster! Lemmie at her!"
Shelly gave her audience a side glance. "What say you, brothers? I think we'd better dunk this one face-first!" She just might have, if her guards hadn't grabbed me under the shoulders. I plucked two pokeballs from my belt and pointed them skyward. Robin and Michael materialized in mid-air and each slammed down on a guard. "Go for the headgear!" I yelled. Hen and dog ripped off their targets' bandanas; the pirates withered like vampires under sunlight.
"AAH, my robe!"
"Don't look at me!"
On stage, Shelly grimaced at her idiot underlings. "Seize him! A cloth ration to the one who brings me the boy!"
Robin and Michael planted themselves between me and the oncoming mob. Not to be outdone, Amon made his signature last-minute entrance and joined my defensive line. We'd been forced to the water's edge; nowhere to run except through the pirates. "They killed Megumi. Give 'em hell," I ordered. Lightning, fire and fangs drew ready.
Then a man bellowed out, "Enough!"
We all stopped, petrified by the commanding voice. The pirates stepped back and parted to admit an imposing mountain of a man dressed in black. Maybe seven feet tall, this preacher was something primal and fierce: skin like brown leather, a beard of black thorns and a glare as merciless as the desert sun. This must have been the Father that Shelly had mentioned in her sermon. The grand master of the Cult of Aqua.
The priest planted himself before me - just a tap and he could knock me into the carvanha-infested pool. Instead, he took his time to size up my pokemon. "Combusken, Mightyena - typical Magma trash. But an electrike? Your master grows craftier by the day."
I didn't know what a Magma was, but I got the hint that Michael was the only thing keeping me from sleeping with the fishies. I scooped the thunder-dog into my arms and tried to look tough. "One more step and I'll drop him in your precious Ocean! Say goodbye to all your carvanhas!" Shelly and the other pirates gasped. The Father just used some blindingly fast ninja reflexes to sweep out my feet, nab me by the ankle and dangle me and Michael face-first over the snapping fish! Robin cawed. "Don't move!" I ordered. I'd just barely nabbed my wig and now my fingers were inches from the bubbling water. "This is a big misunderstanding. No one needs to get hurt, right?" The priest chuckled at my feeble negotiations.
"Pain is the key to salvation. The Ocean is vast, and the actions of men must be grand if we wish for it to hear our pleas. Only a mighty scream will rouse the Ocean from its slumber." My captor pulled a golden dagger from his belt and held it to my throat. "I could make you a monument to pain..."
Instead, he dropped me on dry land. "But I won't defile the Ocean with the blood of a terraphile! Know this, boy: we of Aqua extend the hand of salvation to all, but as for you Magmas who persist in your heresy our justice will rain upon you like a storm from the heavens. Go back to you mountain, spy, and tell your master that Archibald's patience grows thin."
Robin and Amon huddled close, awaiting my command. I gave a final glance at Megumi's bloody corpse, and then I ran.
When this is done I'll ... I'll bring them back for you.
I didn't need a mystic badge to dredge up the promise I'd made Linda. It pounded through my head with every heartbeat.
In the wilderness beyond Slateport, I collapsed. My pokemon were in bad shape. A carvanha had slashed Michael's paw and he whimpered in Robin's arms as she cooed and tried to stem the bleeding. Amon paced restlessly, shooting angry glances at the hen.
"Norman was right," I told them. "They're all crazy - everybody outside of Petalburg!" This world was a den of madness. "Everybody's out for themselves; it's all about keeping safe or being entertained! Let your guard down just a second and they'll abandon you!" Amon woofed in agreement. "Heck, that's the whole reason I'm here! I'm dead because I trusted somebody to be my friend!"
I swear to God, Virgil, I'm going to kill you!
"But we gotta keep going, because there's a way out of this place. I know it's only going to get crazier, but I need you guys to trust me. This is all happening for a reason."
Dog, hen and wolf all nodded their support. I picked out Megumi's pokeball and chucked it into the woods. "No turning back," I affirmed.
I had a leader to hunt down in Mauville.
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