"…Just what is going on over there!?"
The one speaking aloud to himself was an elderly man in a suit with spiky silver hair partially hidden by his bowler hat. He had a briefcase held in one hand, but his grip loosened slightly as he stared across the sea before him toward what was known as Mt. Pyre, a famous landmark in Hoenn.
This man was Mr. Stone, the president of a major corporation in Rustboro City that had influence over all of Hoenn—Devon Corp. He’d come all the way to Lilycove for a business conference—a completely normal and even dull circumstance. There was nothing strange or abnormal about him heading to a designated area to be picked up by helicopter now that the conference had ended.
Nonetheless, it seemed some other people were involved in rather complicated things. Just by looking at Mt. Pyre, he got a headache. He could hardly focus on the distant view of the mountain graveyard and his chest felt tight, causing him to grip his jacket with one hand to make sure it wasn’t heartburn.
This wasn’t a natural phenomenon. Mr. Stone knew had no clue as to why something like this was happening. He was linked to many networks of information, which meant that this wasn’t a harmless government testing or some other science experiment.
Whatever the case, something was going on, and it wasn’t good.
So he drew his Pokénav out of his pocket and prepared to call contact someone immediately.
As if in response to this, a sudden gale of wind slammed into him, causing him to stagger for a moment and even drop his bag. The wind was forceful enough to completely catch Mr. Stone by surprise and he dropped his Pokénav as well as it forcefully swept upwards like a hurricane.
Mr. Stone could only gape in awe at the figure standing before him, numb from the wind and shock. Just a few yards further up the route, a single young man stood before him. He wore a tawny suit—completely with a jacket and matching pants, a red tie visible in the low-cut front. This person’s attire was flawless—not a single wrinkle or hair out of place. Even now, he was casually adjusting his tie to make sure it was straight as he gave Mr. Stone a friendly smile. He had flat dark brown hair and his face was handsome, like a young college graduate.
Mr. Stone knew this person. He was Notus, a friend of his son’s.
"I apologize for my rude greeting, Mr. Stone, but I’m afraid that I do not have the time to explain." Notus spoke calmly, as if he was giving Mr. Stone the time of day, but his words were somewhat ominous. "For now, please rest peacefully. Shifty; nature power."
The Shifty that had used whirlwind to send such a powerful gale of wind at Mr. Stone now called upon the surrounding grassy area to use a move that varied with the environment. Notus must have already known what would happen, as the attack turned into stun spore. The yellowish powder sprinkled over Mr. Stone and the old man’s eyes widened as he collapsed stiffly to the ground, completely incapacitated.
"Well then," Notus sighed calmly as he stepped over Mr. Stone’s body and crouched beside him. He pinched a small object in the grass with his forefinger and thumb and observed it closely. It was a small needle containing dangerous poison, but could easily be stopped by the a strong enough force—such as wind. "Care to show your cowardly face?"
There was a long moment of silence before a figure stepped out from behind the trees that blocked easy access to the Safari Zone. Notus stood back up and raised an intrigued eyebrow at the young redheaded girl in a lab coat who stood before him, frowning with discontent.
It was in bad taste to acknowledge the irony, but with the way they were dressed, one looked like he was majoring in business while the other looked like she was a science major. In other words, they looked like college students.
"Firing a poison sting at a human being is dangerous." Notus warned as he tossed the needle in the girl’s direction. It landed in the grass at the girl’s feet, but she paid no mind to it. The small Roselia perched on her shoulder regarded Notus coolly. "This man is getting on in years, but he’s very important. What if you had hurt him?"
"Am I hearing this from the person who just knocked the president of Devon Corporation out with a Pokémon move?" The girl dismissed Notus’ criticism by simply pointing out that one fact. "Just who are you?"
"A researcher of world mythology; that is all. You can call me Notus. But I’m the one who is truly confused. From the looks of things, you’re not from Schola, are you? What is your goal? Your incentive? Why are you here and who’s side are you on?"
The girl in the lab coat narrowed her eyes slightly, though her stance didn’t tense. She kept her hands in the pocket of her lab coat in a casual manner to rival Notus.
"Can I assume that you will decide on what to do depending on my response?"
"That is correct."
Neither gave any way with their expression. Even their eyes left nothing to be appraised, preventing one from reading other. The girl in the lab coat eventually sighed.
"Then I’ll give you the limited truth. I’m here to assassinate the president of Devon Corporation as well as any survivors from the skirmish on that mountain over there. That is all."
The girl pointed in the direction of Mt. Pyre, but Notus didn’t even look. He simply sighed.
"I have no reason to protect those people, truthfully…In fact, it is arguable that I’d be better off if even just one of them was put out of commission. Either way, I can tell that you have some circumstances that have brought you to this point, am I right?"
"Will you back down?"
Notus shook his head back and forth, his lax smile never disappearing.
"I’m afraid that this man is the father of a good friend of mine. Plus…"
"You have some circumstances that brought you here…right?"
Notus nodded, pleased that she understood so easily. The girl sighed once more as she shifted her weight from one leg to the other, her long red hair swishing with her movement.
"Then I guess discussion won’t bring any compromise."
Those reluctant words were followed by the swift movement of what seemed like cotton. It was too quick for a person’s eyes to focus on it while it moved, which was a natural reflex. It was, in fact, a trap to take advantage of the human reflex, causing a person to hesitate and react slowly as they tried to figure out what was coming at them. Normally, a person would already have been hit by the sudden attack that was worthy of being called a ‘sneak attack’ even though it was in plain sight.
As it was, the multi colored powder deflected off of an invisible barrier that was surrounding Notus.
"A Whimsicott taking advantage of the Trickster ability, eh?" Notus observed with an impressed smile. "That’s dangerous. If I hadn’t had a safeguard up already, I would have been paralyzed almost immediately."
As Notus said this, he held up a single Pokéball in his hand, releasing an elegant looking Gardevoir. Assuming he had set up the safeguard before approaching the girl, or even Mr. Stone, he was probably renewing the fading veil of protection.
"Roselia, magical leaf."
"You do the same, Gardevoir."
A flurry of elegant leafs spun through the air, meeting one another halfway between them as both Roselia and Gardevoir held their hands out before them, waving them like a conductor directing an orchestra. But this stalemate only lasted for a moment before one side began to push through the other. Roselia’s leaves appeared to eat through Gardevoir’s on contact, like sticking a hot metal rod through a block of ice. Notus and his Pokémon had to move out of the way as Gardevoir continued to attempt to block the attack in order to avoid being hit by the dangerous magical leaves.
"By coating leaves in a corrosive poison, it can eat away whatever they come in contact with." The girl noted without expression. "Simply throwing leaves around with psychic power may look nice, but in the end, that is all it will ever be."
"It seems that you are right." Notus murmured dryly as the magical leaves changed their direction in order to continue flying toward them. It was an attack that could not be evaded simply by moving out of the way or relocating your position. "I suppose some sacrifice is necessary. Gardevoir, calm mind."
Gardevoir planted its elegant feet on the ground and shut its eyes as it held its hands together and looked toward the sky in a manner similar to praying. The magical leaves homed in on Gardevoir, but simply shattered after making contact, taking less and less damage with each passing moment.
Calm mind was a move that increased both special defense and special attack. Seeing a psychic type increasing special attack was never a reassuring sight, especially when using a poison type like Roselia.
"Protect Gardevoir, Shiftry!"
Whimsicott sailed into the air like a weightless balloon as it called upon a heavy gale of wind to come crashing down on the motionless Gardevoir. Shiftry planted one of its sandal-like feet powerfully into the ground before Gardevoir, digging the tooth almost an inch into the dirt as it swung its leafy fans with all of its might, sending a whirlwind forth to crash into the coming hurricane.
"Losing your cool, are we?" Notus chuckled in amusement as a flurry of white fluffy pieces of cotton rained down toward Shiftry, but was taken by the wind, flying around wildly. Some of it did reach Shiftry to slow down his movements, but it was already too late. "Gardevoir, use your stored power!"
Gardevoir held its hands out before it and psychic energy burst forth, almost like a bomb, sailing forth and slamming into Shiftry, Whimsicott, and Roselia. It was an excellent strategy, considering that Shiftry was not affected due to its type. Whimsicott went stiff in the air, as if its mind had been broken, and it floated gently and harmlessly to the ground as the howling winds died abruptly. At the same time, Gardevoir collapsed to the ground, fast asleep. Notus frowned at the greenish powder that sprinkled Gardevoir’s face similar to freckles.
"So safeguard faded away at the last moment and you hid sleep powder in the wind along with cotton spore…"
"That’s not all."
Whimsicott was knocked out, but Roselia had apparently survived. The little Pokémon had taken cover beneath Shiftry, whose movements had become sluggish thanks to cotton spore. Though Roselia did not evade the full brunt of the powerful attack, it had managed to survive by using Shiftry, who was unaffected, as a shield.
Plus, it had set up roots beneath Shiftry with ingrain in order to recover health and handle the strong winds that would have thrown its small body away like paper.
Roselia pointed one of its flowery arms toward Notus, completely ignoring the proximity of Shiftry. A pinkish vapor spewed from the flowers, flying toward Notus. The attack itself should have been harmless, but Notus suspected another trick. She seemed to have worked hard to set this up—if Shiftry used whirlwind now, he’d only blow it toward Notus faster. But considering how his movement had been slowed, he wouldn’t be able to move quickly enough.
Or so it should be.
"Sunny day, Shiftry."
Shiftry merely glanced up toward the sun as its rays began to intensify, and the Pokémon shifted its weight before it practically vanished from its spot over Roselia, stopping between Notus and the approaching cloud of sweet scent.
"It has the Chlorophyll ability?!" The girl in the lab coat showed a rare moment of surprise and panic as she witnessed this, watching as Shiftry planted its feet in the ground once more.
Another fierce gale of wind sent the pinkish cloud of sweet scent flying back the way it came. Roselia didn’t seem the least bit worried for itself, though. It was crying out in concern as its master was swallowed by the cloud along with it.
"It seems that I was right to think it’s not a normal sweet scent, taking that reaction into consideration." Notus commented with a curious tilt of his head. "Shiftry, use whirlwind one more time."
Shiftry obliged and sent another gale to blow away that sweet scent. However, they were surprised to see that the girl and Roselia were no longer there. The only traces they had left were a piece of white cotton stuck to a nearby tree branch and a used revive.
"So she escaped." Notus sighed miserably. "Which means I only succeeded halfway."
He’d been sent here by Steven Stone, former Champion of Hoenn, who’d suspected that his father might be in danger because of his proximity to where several dangerous events were happening. Notus had agreed to come simply because that meant he’d be able to investigate the strange events up close and see for himself who it was that was acting in the shadows.
As it was, he still had no idea what side that girl was really on.
What troubled him the most was the fact that she said she had been sent to silence Mr. Stone along with any survivor from the fight on the mountain. Was there something that she knew that Notus didn’t?
Notus’ eyes drifted toward the paralyzed body of Mr. Stone and he sighed in exasperation.
"I guess I have to finish my part before I do anything else. You’d better do your part too…Steven."
Bayloupe grimaced as continued to hack and cough, doubling over as she felt her lungs contract and her throat burn. She’d managed to escape to the lower ground by the dock that stuck out into the sea where Mt. Pyre was located in order to evade the eyes of the man who’d managed to defeat her in battle. She stuck her hand into her lab coat’s pocket and drew out a small syringe, jabbing it into her forearm and emptying the contents. After about a minute of waiting while she regulated her breathing, the coughing ceased and the burning sensation in her throat began to subside. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly before opening her eyes again.
What she saw was an anxious Roselia and Whimsicott looking at her with worry.
"Don’t give me that look." Bayloupe said with a sigh. She was told she did that a lot, but she didn’t care. There were a lot of vexing and tiring things in the world. It is only natural that’s he who suffered from them would sigh often. "This just goes to show how potent and fast acting both the special poison we worked so hard to make and the antidote for it work. You should be proud."
That aside, what was she to do now?
It would be difficult to carry out her orders in the current situation. No doubt, that man would get in the way again. She wasn’t the sort who was even meant to be on the front lines. Her area of expertise was off the battlefield, after all. And considering how he’d managed to stop her assassination attempt when it was so flawlessly performed was a slightly unsettling prospect. Whoever that man was, he was definitely experienced, and there was no beating that.
"I guess I’ll have to retreat for now." Bayloupe sighed with reluctant acceptance. "This just means we’ll have to move up our schedule before the end of the world."
This fic will turn to third person from now on--it simply looks better that way. Plot development will be whisked away by the riptides of change (so to speak) and a lot will become clear--and hopefully properly done. If you have any suggestions about how to clean up earlier posts, I'm all ears.