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The pin missiles flew like a tidal wave toward Exploud, forming an overwhelming wall, impossible to evade. I smiled to myself, completely unfazed. The end of the battle was already in sight.
“Hyper voice, Exploud.” I ordered. Air was drawn in through the ports riddling Exploud’s head and the ends of his tail and he let his jaw drop wide, like an over exaggerated cartoon animation. The sound waves that ensued were invisible, but appeared to shake the very atmosphere with its force. Even I, who was directly in the blind spot of Exploud’s attack, felt the vibrations shake through my entire body and make my legs feel like led, impossible to move. The pin missile barrage was easily shattered and the attacking Maractus was blown away from the attack, flying straight into its owner’s arms. My challenger, Louis, was shaking violently from the sound waves even after Exploud ceased his attack, dropping to his knees as he trembled.
“Sorry, was the volume to loud?” I asked, slightly concerned. The last thing I needed was to traumatize my challenger. Steven was already annoyed enough with me for accepting so many challenges at once unconditionally. But Louis shook his head.
“I’m just surprised, is all.” He told me. “You really are strong, just like they say. Thanks for battling me.”
“No problem.” I grinned at him, relieved that he wasn't a poor sport, like so many of my other challengers. “You can challenge me any time; my schedule’s more or less free now. I'm sure that with time, you'll become an excellent trainer.”
Exploud snorted as Louis thanked me and left, heading back toward Mauville. I glared at Exploud once the boy was out of sight. Once more, with the attitude?
“I don’t want you to be trying to give any comments.” I warned, poking the side of his head. “You were once an under-leveled Whismur, if I recall, who couldn’t make a sound louder a pen dropping.”
In response, Exploud turned toward me, opened its mouth wide, and belched directly in my face. I felt the hairs on my arms stand in
shock as a shiver went through my entire body.
“Agh, ugh!”I moaned as I stumbled back, rubbing my eyes. “Dear god, man! That reeks My eyes are stinging!”
Exploud just snickered in response, paying no mind to my vengeful kicks on his thick thigh. I ran a hand through my hair in an attempt to flatten it once more. I had pretty lifeless hair, though. My bangs were cut just perfectly so they wouldn't hinder my vision, but otherwise, it was void of anything to give it life of any kind, so it was quite flat. My eyes, on the other hand, burned like warm butterscotch. The ichor color they had was a strange characteristic I had that no one else in my family shared. I didn't mind this--I liked my individuality. I wore a closed long sleeved jacket that splits at the waist, letting my 'coattails', or whatever you call the bottom portion of my jacket, hanging loosely down to my ankles and exposing my legs. I wore black pants tucked into my knee high boots and on my belt was my favorite yoyo. Childish, I know, but I'd attached my pokeballs to it so I can release my pokemon from them at will with a single toss, allowing me to place them in hard to reach places. I know what you're thinking--innovative, right? Well, I just suck at tossing normal balls, so this is the best option for me. Don't judge.
“You’re pretty unbecoming for a member of our Elite. Can’t you even be bothered to bathe every once and a while, dearie?”
I frowned as I turned around and saw no one behind me. This was a pretty secluded area where I had brought Louis out to as to not attract too much attention. Even so, there were hardly any trees to hide in around here. I pocketed my hands as I looked up and found my visitor, who was floating in midair, seemingly without any help, aside from the Sableye that was hiding shyly behind her.
“Well, well, long time no see, Phoebe.” I greeted with a raised eyebrow. My fellow Elite Four member grinned brightly down at me. I seriously had no idea how she was floating. I assumed one of her ghost Pokémon was invisible and holding her up, but since I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t really confirm this guess. “I don’t recall having extended a party invitation to you.”
“Don’t be like that.” Phoebe said as she descended gently like a flower until she planted her bare feet onto the ground. She strode forward and drew me into an embrace, and I stubbornly refuse to hug her in return. “I missed you.”
“Sure you did.” I rolled my eyes. “More like you missed teasing me.”
“You’re basically a brother to me. How can I not tease you? You’ve been in Sinnoh for all of, what, sixteen months now?”
I shrugged indifferently. It had been something like that. I’d wanted to study some myths in Sinnoh. While Hoenn was more focused on the weather and climate, Sinnoh’s legends were centered on the genesis of the world, such as space and time. I had hoped to find my answer there, but sadly I had no such luck. I could see it in Phoebe’s eyes—she wanted to know about everything I had found. I had learned some things, things that may or may not be clues, and Phoebe was the only person who knew of my ‘problem’. I could only hope that she could provide some insight on this.
“First off,” Phoebe began as we sat within the Pokémon Center of Mauville Town. “You owe me BIG for all the pending challenges you had that I took care of for you. I had to spend less time with my sick grandmother and more timing defending the title of the Elite Four. You know I don’t like dealing with unnecessary challenges!”
“Yes, yes, I understand.” I sighed in exasperation, rubbing my temples. “Although, it’s kind of your own fault. If you dislike the duties of the Elite Four so much, you should have been the one to resign, rather than Drake—ow!”
Phoebe glared at me as I rubbed my bruised shin with one hand. She’d kicked me under the table when I’d suggested she resign, and I didn’t have to ask why. We both know why she hadn’t despite being the least motivated at the position of us all. My Linoone ignored us as it chewed through a basket of Oran berries to satiate its hunger. He was used to our usual bickering whenever we met and had developed the ability to tune us both out. I needed him to impart that talent to me.
“Just tell me what you learned.” Phoebe told me as she laid her head on the table and swung her legs back and forth, like a child. I took a textbook from my bag and set it on the table, flipping it open.
“Well then,” I sighed. “Let’s start with time then, shall we?”
I stopped abruptly as Linoone lifted its head from the basket of berries, looking toward the window. Phoebe raised a finger to pet him under its chin, wiping off some of the berry juice drooling from the side of his mouth.
“Who is it?” She asked quietly, almost indifferently. I frowned as I focused on the figure’s face before another figure stepped in front of
“They’re wearing a hood.” I told her as I set the textbook back in my bag and unhooked my yoyo from my belt. “Brace yourself.”
A large, heavy object sailed toward the window with deadly velocity and I hopped back out of my seat, raising my yoyo up before me.
“Snorlax, catch that rock!” I called as tossed my yoyo out. It spun rapidly as one of the six pokeballs attached to it released my Pokémon. Snorlax braced himself as the large boulder smashed through the window of the Pokémon center and he caught it in his harms, skidding back several feet from the force. I took one glance around to make sure that everyone behind me was alright, and grimaced at the amount of people now cowering in fear. We couldn’t fight here. That rock wrecker attack had been more powerful than I had anticipated
“Make sure they don’t get away, Phoebe!” I called as Snorlax set the boulder down with a grunt.
“Already used mean look.” Phoebe assured me. She was standing not too far away, well away from the path of the boulder. Her Sableye was by her side, glaring through the shattered remains of the window, toward the Rhyperior waiting outside. I held a hand out and my Linoone climbed up my arm to wrap around my neck like a scarf. I rushed outside through the window along with my Snorlax, heading toward the Rhyperior and its hooded owner. I'd thought it would be a hit and run, but fortunately this guy seemed to be above that.
“Rock blast.” The hooded man ordered.
Snorlax slammed its fists into the rocks fired with deadly velocity from Rhyperior’s arms, knocking them into the ground like tossed bowling balls. We stopped just a few feet from the hooded man, who stared back at me with dark eyes from under his hood. Now that I was up close, I was able to say for certain that I had no idea who this man was. His hood still covered most of his face, but I could at least make out some of his facial expression.
“Zephyr of the Elite Four?” He asked in a rough voice. I narrowed my eyes suspiciously.
“Who wants to know?” I asked cautiously.
“That’s answer enough. Mega horn!”
Rhyperior charged forward, thrusting its horn forward. Snorlax caught the horn reflexively before it could be pierced, holding back the rhinoceros Pokémon with its brute strength.
“Snorlax, use earthquake—” I began, but Snorlax suddenly went flying back as Rhyperior continued its charge, picking Snorlax off the ground slightly, barreling into the wall of the Pokémon center. I was surprised. Snorlax had been over powered?
For someone strong enough to do that, I’d imagine that they were either a gym leader or an elite four member. This guy was clearly neither.
“You’re an assassin sent after me, aren’t you?”
“Figured it out that fast, have you? You’re just as they described you to be.” The hooded man folded his arms across his chest. “But I’m not exactly an 'assassin'.”
I blinked in surprise at this. Someone had described me to him?
“I’m afraid you must be mistaken.” I said quickly, recovering from my surprise. “I haven’t been around for quite a while. For someone to have sent you after me…”
“I assure you, I’m not mistaken.”
I gritted my teeth as I observed his expression. He didn’t seem to be lying. Someone had had sent him after me. But who?
Snorlax began thrashing violently and threw Rhyperior off of him. Rhyperior held its arms over its head as Snorlax proceeded to batter Rhyperior ferociously with its arms, its limbs flying out without hesitation, refusing to allow Rhyperior a break until it forced the rhinoceros all the way back to stand before its master.
“I’d heard about your fighting technique as well.” The man went on calmly, as if my attack wasn’t a surprise to him. “You use unique and unorthodox methods in combat, utilizing your normal types’ versatility, but that’s not the end of it. You have an ingenious knowledge of berries that allow you to use them in ways beyond their original use. Your Snorlax using a Persim berry to cure its confusion is a pretty basic tactic, though.”
“How do you know this?” I demanded, completely surprised now. My knowledge of berries wasn’t a well-known fact. I didn’t go beyond the most basic uses during my challenges or most other normal combat. I only used it in serious situations that weren’t related to official fights. Who exactly was this guy?
“You needn’t worry about how I know this. It’s necessary that I do, however, in order to defeat someone as strong as yourself.”
“Wha-?!” I gasped in surprise as I felt something lock around my waist, forcing my arms to my side. I looked around to see a Geodude holding me in a pin. One had grabbed Linoone as well and pinned it to the ground. Several of them had grabbed Snorlax and forced it to the ground. “Where did these come from?!?”
“Rhyperior can launch rocks in its palm in order to use rock blast and its signature move, rock wrecker. On some occasions, they’ve been known to fire Geodude as well.
The rocks from earlier, I realized. I’d thought they had been normal rocks. The oversight was my own loss.
“Self-destruct.”The hooded man ordered. The Geodude holding me began to glow white with energy before releasing it all at once, along with the others. The blast enveloped me and seared my body painfully, and for a moment, all I could see was white.
I must have blacked out, because the next thing I saw was Phoebe’s face. She was staring down at me with a worried expression that melted away once she saw that I was awaking, turning to relief.
“I’m alive.”I realized.
“You’re alive.” She nodded. “Though barely. If my Bannette didn’t drag you into the shadows at the last second, you would have been seriously injured.”
I immediately swiveled my head around, looking for my Pokémon. I winced as I did—my cheek touched the warmth of skin, and I realized that my head was lying in Phoebe’s lap. I considered sitting up, but my muscles were aching. Honestly, this was as comfortable as I was going to get.
I saw both of my Pokémon nearby. Snorlax was on its back, fast asleep, and Linoone was curled in its stomach, possibly asleep too, though I doubted it. He had been knocked out before even getting the chance to fight. We’d been that bad off. Still, I was glad that Phoebe hadn’t gotten involved until the last second. The fight had been mine entirely—and my loss entirely. And I had learned some interesting things.
Like the fact that there was someone out for my head.
“I’m going to need to cancel all of my challenges for the week and deny any others who ask for a battle for the next few months.”
I expected her to object or even whine, but instead, she just sighed.
“They’re going to be disappointed—you’re the only one of us Elite Four who willingly accepts challenges on a regular basis, since Sydney has his concerts to deal with.”
“They’ll have to settle for the gym leaders like everyone else."
“Speaking of which, Wattson had come to the battlefield right after you passed out.” Phoebe blinked, as if just remembering. “He managed to fight of that strange man and had you brought into his gym to have your burns looked at. He’s outside now, checking the damages.”
The man I had lost to had been chased off by a person who specialized in a type with a disadvantage against his Rhyperior. If I cared, I'd have been ashamed.
An avid writer, willing to join any worthwhile creative writing effort. For the Gs: Google, Games, and Gallade!!!
Because if we can't protect the earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it. -Red, Pokemon Adventures
Well, I should explain first: In this fic, there will be five main characters in Hoenn who will deal with events independently, sometimes with each other, sometimes without each other, until they eventually all come together. I suggest you keep an eye out for certain things, as they are clues for future events in the plot :D
And without further ado, the chapter from my dear Solana's POV.
“Please hang on, Tropius!” I cried as I clung to its neck tightly. Tropius responded with a low wail as it barrel rolled through the air, evading the flying Skarmory as they shot at us with a dangerous peck attack. The last thing we needed was to be struck out of the sky.
My name is Solana. I was born in Mossdeep, Hoenn, which was not far from where I am currently. I’m an expert healer and had been in Sinnoh in order to deal with a small crisis concerning some Skuntank poison. I was now headed to Lavaridge, due to some ‘issues’ regarding the soot spewing from a volcano, which was dubbed ‘Mt. Chimney’ for obvious reasons.
I wore a small white windbreaker that would bare most of my skin beneath my rib cage and had a red shirt underneath that to hide the mentioned skin exposed. I wore yellow shorts, knee socks, and sneakers. I never worried too much about my clothes, honestly. Anything clean would do. I was often accused of being pretty without trying, but I was sure people we just being nice. But I could understand it when they complimented my white bonnet that I wore over my head. It was a cute accessory I’d gotten in the Goldenrod department store a while ago, and I was obsessed with it. It matched my pale skin and looked great over my dark raven colored hair (which was tied into two ponytails that laid on either of my shoulders across my chest), albeit a bit old-fashioned, but I didn’t mind that.
One thing to know about me, though, is that I’m a pacifist. I preferred to do things without anyone or anything getting hurt. I had been flying to Hoenn over my Tropius, and since my Tropius is so durable, I figured the trip wouldn’t be too difficult. But as we approached the Hoenn boundaries, we had quickly run into a storm cloud and were forced to fly above it. Normally, that would be no problem. But I had failed to notice that the storm cloud was moving in the same direction we were going. Even worse, we were supposed to land in Evergrande City to rest before continuing our flight. I was pretty sure that we had missed our stop by a long shot.
To top of my already fabulous day, these Skarmory didn’t seem pleased to see me and my Tropius here, gliding above the storm clouds. Though we had done nothing to provoke them, they began attacking us violently. Even if I were willing to fight them, I wouldn’t try. Tropius was way too tired to fend them off and keep flying at the same time. So our only choice was to move quicker and flee.
What surprised me, however, was the tower that I saw looming ahead of us. I had never heard of any building with such a massive structure before. I mean, it pierced right through the clouds and towered high above us even at this elevation! Just what was this thing? It seemed ominous and dangerous--like it was taken right out of a story book and placed in reality.
I screeched as I gripped Tropius tighter as we did another barrel roll in order to evade a Skarmory as it dropped down on us. This one came so close that it scratched my arm with one of its talons. Tropius was beginning to tire, and at this rate we'd be swarmed by the Skarmory in no time.
“Eeek!” I gasped as a stream of flames past Tropius by an inch, colliding with the attacking Skarmory. It yelled as it dropped into the clouds, disappearing below. The other Skarmory didn’t seem to be deterred by this. In fact, they seemed angrier now.
“Be careful!” I shouted at the attacker. A Charizard was floating in the air directly in front of us now with a man standing on its back. He had wavy blonde hair and a beige jacket on, but from the looks of things, the high elevation didn’t bother his breathing. I was able to manage because I’d practiced to hold my breath for long periods of time while under water and in dangerous gases for several purposes. I supposed that this guy had gone through some sort of training like me to make this height seem like nothing.
“Relax, missy.” The man smiled at me eagerly. “It will be over in a flash. Flamethrower!”
Tropius dove downwards as the Charizard spewed another stream of flames and swung its head around, making a wide arc that slammed into most of the Skarmory with searing force, knocking them out of the sky. Skarmory were steel types, making them weak to a fire attack like this. I had to be a little impressed, though I didn’t like the violence.
“Oh!” I gasped once more as Tropius’ flight seemed unsteady to me. He dipped in his flight slightly and almost threw me off in the process. He was really tired. Well, since we had stopped anyways, we may as well take advantage of it and try to add a little more stamina. “Use sunny day, then synthesis.”
Tropius directed its head to the sky above, where the bright sun blazed bright, and a golden glow enveloped its body as its wounds healed. Its fatigue still remained, but at least its body wouldn’t give in to it. Loud screeching then filled the air, like nails on a chalk board. I realized that some of the Skarmory were using the attack, metal sound, to weaken our special defense as the others swung their wings, sending sharp currents of air in our direction with an air cutter attack. I prepared to take evasive action,but the main acted first.
Charzard swung one of its clawed hands and a slash of air cut through the air cutter attacks and struck the Skarmory as well, scattering them with a flinching effect.
“One more time, Charizard.” The man ordered. “Full power flamethrower!”
The flame on the Charizard’s tail burned large and bright as it took a deep breath and spewed more flames at the Skarmory, knocking the rest from the sky. I didn’t pain myself by watching any longer. I directed my Tropius to head toward the high tower before us and enter one of the large holes in the side of the building that must have been a window. I was slightly taken aback to see it was dilapidated and falling apart on the inside. This place had clearly been around for a long time. Very strange.
I paid it little mind, though. I clutched Tropius’ head in my hands gently as I allowedmy energy to flow from my palms and into Tropius’ body. I felt its warm delight in response and its eagerness made me giggle as it attempted to lick my cheek with its tongue.
That warmth disappeared faster than it had appeared as Tropius suddenly drew its head back and whirled around, standing in front of me as if to protect me. I saw a Claydol floating in the air, facing us, channeling its psychic powers, probably to use an attack. More Pokémon attacking without being provoked?
Suddenly, a red figured barreled into the building, slamming into Claydol, which went flying back from the force of the attack and disappearing into the darkness.
“You should be careful—the Pokémon here are vicious.”
The man with the Charizard dismounted his Pokémon as he faced me. He pressed one hand to his necklace, which was riddled with beads shaped and colored like pokeballs, and his Charizard was sucked into one of the beads, just as if they worked like normal pokeballs.
“Who are you?” I asked curiously as I patted one hand on Tropius’ head, indicating for it to relax. Whoever this guy was, he didn’t seem to mean any harm to me.
“I’m just a traveler, just like you. My name is Francois. I’d come to roost on this tower a while ago from flying for so long when I was attacked by the Pokémon in this tower. It took some time to catch a break, then I see you flying in this direction with those Skarmory on your tail.”
“Oh...well, thank you for saving me.”
“It’s not a problem. By the way, you never told me your name.”
“Solana.” I frowned as I looked around. This place was looking more and more dangerous with every moment we stayed here. It looked so…breakable. “Um…did you do this?”
“What? You mean the damage to this tower? Hah! No way. This was years of wear and tear—I couldn’t manage something like this even if I wanted to.”
“Then what exactly is—”
Before I could finish my sentence, a loud crack of thunder suddenly echoed through the tower from outside and the entire structure shook suddenly. This tower was so precarious that it could be threatened by a strike of lightning?
The floor beneath us gave away beneath our weight and we were soon free falling toward the ground among the rubble of the ceiling. There was another floor beneath us, and I knew that if we hit the ground, we’d be flattened by the massive slabs from the cieling that had given away that was falling with us.
“Tropius!” I called as I held my hand out. I grabbed onto Tropius’ side as it flapped its leafy wings and slowed its fall, allowing me to climb on. I looked around for Francois and was relieved to see he had summoned an Arcanine and was hopping from one rock slab to the next, heading toward the nearest window they could reach. If he had used his Charizard again in this situation, the Pokémon would have been surprised by the sudden situation and been caught underneath therubble. This guy showed excellent judgment.
Tropius shot through the nearest window we passed, gliding out into the rain. We’d fallen so far that we’d descended below the rain clouds. What I hadn’t been expecting was how heavy the rainfall was. Tropius wailed as its wings were pelted and I shut my eyes against the heavy rainfall to shield them against the hail-like water. I could feel us losing altitude fast. Tropius couldn’t stay aloft in this weather.
I felt Tropius jerk suddenly as something knocked into it from below and our fall was abruptly halted before we fell again, but only for another few feet, landing on a solid, albeit wet, floor. I groaned as I pushed myself up and realized that we had landed on the deck of some sort of large sea vessel. I raised my hand to one of the small pokeballs within the cloth wrapped around my custom bonnet and returned my Tropius for safekeeping.
“Are you alright, missy?”
Francois was nearby on his Arcanine, looking slightly shaken, but not entirely freaked out, like I had been. I nodded as I stood up, shivering slightly as I felt the chilly rain continue to soak my body thoroughly. A heavy looking raincoat was offered to me by a tall man in a sailor’s hat and dark cloak. My eyes widened as I recognized his face—no one who lived in Hoenn would mistake his face.
“Elite Four Drake!” I gasped in awe. He tipped his hat to me in greeting.
“Hello, lassie. But it’s simply Captain Drake, now. I’m no longer a member of the Elite Four.”
“Good thing you were here, or else we would have been fighting against the sea for our lives.” Francois grinned toward Captain Drake gratefully. “But can your ship handle this weather? It’s pretty fierce.”
“Don’t you worry about a thing—the Piercing Dragon won’t fall to any weather, no matter how fierce.” Captain Drake assured us as he raised his pipe to his mouth. The rain had put out the flame long ago, so I assumed that he simply did it out of habit. “Why don’t you tell me your names?”
“I’m Solana.” I hastily bowed my head. “I’m really thankful that you saved us. I hadn’t expected to be attacked on my way here, so your help is definitely appreciated.”
“I’m Francois, gym leader of Cinnabar.” Francois replied grimly. He’d covered his Arcanine in a rain coat, but the Pokémon’s fur was still sopping wet.
“A gym leader?” Drake raised his eyebrows as I stared at this man. He’d never mentioned that before! “So you’re from Kanto? What brings you here to Hoenn, then?”
“I had gotten a request from the gym leader of Lavaridge to visit Mt. Chimney, which is just north of the town. Something about charcoal. I was going to get the details once I arrived.”
“Well I’m sorry to keep you from your destination for even longer, but we’ve got business to take care of. So can you two sit back and relax until we can drop you off on the mainland?”
“Eh?!” I blinked in surprised. “But I’m already late!”
“I don’t mind.” Francois sat on the nearest crate and rested his hands on the back of his head as he leaned back. He regarded my disappointed expression with a frown. “Come on now, missy; these people were kind enough to pick us up eventhough they were already busy. The least we can do is wait a little bit.”
I wanted to object, but he was right. I didn’t have the right to insist these people prioritize me over their objective.
So I simply sighed and nodded my consent reluctantly.
“Excellent.”Captain Drake grinned at me briefly before turning his attention to the dark skies above. “Don’t worry too much about it. If our timing is right, then you’ll get to see a spectacular sight.”
He then looked toward the main deck of the ship and called out.
“Do you see it yet?! None of our eyes can match yours through this rain—has it appeared?!”
“Yes!” A voice called back. I narrowed my eyes to see through the sheet of rain to see a short old man standing by the side of the boat. The winds were tossing his white cloak around as he raised his hands up as he cheered hysterically, apparently excited. “I see it! It has finally appeared!”
“Excellent, me boy! Our wait is finally over!”
“Wait for what?” Francois asked as he sat straight a little, curiosity apparent in his eyes. I was curious as well. What were they looking for, so deep out at sea?
“The wait to find an island.” Drake tossed a Pokéball out and a Vibrava appeared, sitting gently atop his Shelgon’s back. “Vibrava is known as the vibration Pokémon. Thanks to its ability, we’ll be able to smoke it out. Supersonic.”
I watched as Vibrava lifted into the air to hover slightly and its wings began to flutter so quickly that it appeared invisible. I expected it to release some high pitched sound, but when it didn’t, I realized that it must have been such a high frequency that we couldn’t hear it. Drake remained silent, patiently waiting until Vibrava made some reaction. The Pokémon eventually did. It turned in the same direction the old man aboard the ship was looking and the Pokémon made a small grunt as it nodded.
“You may want to brace yourself for this one kids—sonic boom.”
The entire boat shook violently as Vibrava’s wings suddenly became visible as it abruptly stopped flapping them, and a powerful invisible force went through the air, vibrating every bone in my body as it passed through.
“Whoa!” I gasped as my legs gave away. I felt Francois’ arms grab me before I hit the floor and I smiled at him gratefully before another shockwave went through the boat and shook us again. Vibrava was repeating this process over and over, and as I focused, I could see a ripple in the air with every shockwave, as if a near invisible sonar was being emitted through the air.
“There it is!” The old man said suddenly yelled, pointing directly to our port side. I looked up to see what he was talking about and my eyes widened in shock. Hidden through the current of rain was a hazy figure, surrounded in ominous mist. wasn’t quite sure, but...was it an island?
Before I could try to focus and get a better look, it was gone. It defied all logic. One moment, I’m seeing the silhouettes of trees and land, and the next second there is only the expansive ocean before us. I jumped slightly as the sound of pounding rain returned to my ears. Had the sonic booms made me go temporarily deaf from shock?
“So we only got here in time to see it for a brief few seconds, eh?” Captain Drake sighed as he pocketed his hands.
“What the heck was that?” Francois asked in aweas he continued to stare at the spot where the island had been. “Wait—stupid question. I really mean, where the heck did it go?”
“It didn’t necessarily go anywhere.” Captain Drake corrected calmly as he turned to face us. His eyes were sparkling with an adventurous sort of excitement that was lost on me. “What you saw was the Mirage Island. It’s a slab of distorted land that exists in its own time plane, so to speak. An hour here can be a week on that island, as well as vice-versa. It’s completely erratic and random. However, when the time on the island and the time here is in sync, one can get on and off of it as if it were a normal island. But if you are on it when the clocks are once again out of sync, you’ll be stranded until the phenomena we just saw occurs again. Just catching a glimpse of such a legendary myth is rare—only my old friend over there has ever seen it more than once, thanks to his good vision.”
“So this is your first time seeing this, too?” Francois gave a low whistle under his breath. “No wonder you wanted to come here. Any idea when the next time it appears will be?”
“Not a clue. But I’m hoping I’ll get to set foot on that island next time it appears. Until then, I’m gonna be sailing near Pacifilog. But that aside, I hope you two enjoyed the sight. I’ll sail you straight to Slateport, since you were so patient.”
“Is that a good idea?” I frowned. “I heard there are rapids between here and Slateport.”
“The Piercing Dragon can sail through any waters, kiddo! Some rapids won’t stop us. Full steam ahead!”
I watched the grey skies as the ship turned around through the storm, heading west. I couldn’t shake this feeling in my gut…this strange feeling of nostalgia. Where did it come from?
An avid writer, willing to join any worthwhile creative writing effort. For the Gs: Google, Games, and Gallade!!!
Because if we can't protect the earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it. -Red, Pokemon Adventures
I had never been on a real cruise boat before, though I'd often been by the water. Hoenn was filled with all sorts of tropical pokemon and was an island-like area to the southern part of the globe. As such, people not from Hoenn often reffered to the place as the country, or the tropics in general. Whether that's a good or bad thing is really up to you. I've never minded either reference.
My name is Zane--I'm a field worker for the Pokemon Association. I deal with pokemon and people up close for my work. I'd been born in Mauville, Hoenn but once I was of age, I'd travelled to the mainland of the Kanto/Johto continent. It was a surprise to suddenly go from the countryside to the urban regions, but I'd managed to cope.
I have dark matted hair that is really all over the place and a skin tone that was right in the middle of pale and tan. I wear a casual pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a converse jacket, as well as sneakers. Since I was always outdoors and getting dirty, I never wore anything permanent. The only thing that I always kept with me was my wristband that had six pokeballs attached to it--my pokeballs. I'd caught hundreds of pokemon for the sake of research, but these six were the ones I've raised personally and were my favorite partners. After nearly dying nearly a thousand times along side these guys, you learn to look past any personality differences you may have.
Anyways, back to the cruise ship. I was heading to Hoenn once more on a cruise boat that had departed from Johto. The stop would be Lilycove, but the trip wasn't so direct. Since it was a cruise, it made a single trip around the entire Hoenn continent before stopping at Lilycove. Right now, we were nearest to Petalburg on the most south western side of Hoenn.
The boat itself as glamorous, but not to big--thank god. Most of the residents were trainers, so I was never bored just watching the scenery as we passed. In fact, I spent most of my time battling my fellow trainers. It was the best bonding experience we could have.
"Camerupt, take down!"
My Camerupt and James' Marowak clashed fiercely in close range, Marowak's bone slamming into Camerupt's thick head. They were apparently evenly matched in power.
A vein appeared on Marowak's temple as it was thrown back from Camerupt's attack and it rushed forward again, only to be knocked aside again. It was letting my Camerupt use its weight and size against it, rather than attacking from above. I already knew why. Rage increased attack power with even hit sustained.
"Now, bone rush!"
Marowak rushed it suddenly, swinging its bones fiercely at Camerupt, who braced itself, gritting its teeth as it took the hits.
"Your Camerupt won't be able to handle a super effective attack in succession for too long." James warned. "My Marowak's going to knock it out like that."
"Supereffective attack?" I raised an eyebrow. "Don't be ridiculous. Camerupt, now!"
Camerupt opened its mouth just as Marowak swung it's bone at the side of its face and caught the bone between its teeth.
"Now, lava plume!" I grinned as Camerupt exploded with ash and flamed from its body that enveloped Marowak completely. When the ash settled, it showed Marowak lying on the ground, entirely incapacitated.
"How?!" James cried in surprise. "It shouldn't have had the energy to deal out such a powerful hit!"
"Camerupt's ability, solid rock, halves the damage of all super effective attacks." I reminded him as I patted my Camerupt's head gratefully. "So they're basically not even supereffective anymore."
I continued to reassure the distressed James jokingly when I suddenly heard a bunch of clapping echo from outside the room we were in. The battles had to take place inside certain battlefield rooms so others wouldn't get caught up in them. Curious about the commotion, Camerupt and I headed to the door and looked outside of it. I was surprised to see a crowd had gathered out of no where while I'd been battling. All their backs were too me and they seemed focused on something going on at the front. So I returned Camerupt to its pokeball and I began to squeeze my way through the crowd, apologizing as I bumped into people. I was cut off as I was apologizing for accidently knocking the phone out of a business man's hand when the crowd suddenly began applauding again loudly. I looked up to see that I'd made it near the front and could see what was going on.
A stage that had been empty before was now occupied by an MC with a microphone, announcing the name a woman with a Buneary, who stepped onto the stage as the crowd applauded. I watched as the Buneary performed elegant dance steps as it twisted and spun to music. It was strange how intoxicating it was. It was mesmerizing in a way a human dancer could never hope to imitate.
"That was a taste of the contests in Hoenn mixed with the unique flavor of the Pokemon Musical from Unova!" The MC was telling the crowd as the woman and her Buneary curtseyed politely before turning and heading off the stage. "You will be able to experience the full thing in Lilycove once we arrive--each and every one of you will be given the opprotunity to try it out! We look forward to seeing you all there!"
The crowd applauded once more as the MC bowed to us elegantly as the curtains closed.
Contest, huh? I'd forgotten about those. It was the chance for people to show off their pokemon with appeals using moves, as well as compete in dancing and show off how well they are taken care of. The Musicals from Unova were simply where pokemon danced according to a script on stage for fun. It wasn't as competetive as the contest, though. I'd heard that Wallace, a champion contest coordinator, had met with Elesa of Nimbasa to discuss expanding the entertainment industry. I suppose that this had been what they had come up with.
The crowd was beginning to disperse and I decided to head back to the battle arena to see if there was anyone else who wanted to battle. I was distracted, though, as I my eyes grazed over a figure not too far from me, and I stopped.
The person I'd notice was, without saying, gorgeous, in a pale, snobbish way. She had long dark hair the color of the starless midnight and fragile skin that may have been paper. She wore a lime green sundress and sun hat to match, as well as flat sandals with straps that went up past her ankles. She had a bored look on her face, her eyes still trained on the stage, as he stood beside her Lilligant, who was looking up at the woman with a curious expression.
I hadn't stopped simply because she was pretty--I'd seen lots of attractive girls while traveling. Something about her had taken me by surprise. Everyone I'd seen had a relaxed countence. They were here to enjoy the cruise, and so they had their guard down. But this girl was different. Just by looking at her, she was clearly calm and composed. But I'd studied body language and many subjects related for years. I couldn't put my finger on it, but for some reason, I felt like this girl was...special. Unable to deal with the strange sensation in my gut, I came to stand a few feet behind the girl.
"Enjoy the show?"
Her shoulder tensed for the smallest second as her grey eyes flickered toward me in a glare and I felt a chill go down my spine. I was at a distance even the most paranoid people would be comfortable with, and yet she'd given me such a deadly look?
Then the girl turned completely around and smiled at me with so much warmth that the frosty feeling I'd had melted immediately. Could I have imagined the nature of her glare?
"It was certainly interesting." She told me genially. "I intend to try it out once we land in Lilycove. The Buneary was well-trained. It didn't miss a step."
"Only because it improvised at the end..." I muttered, mostly to myself, at that. She looked at me uncomprehendingly.
"What do you mean?"
"It's nothing, really. The Buneary's dance was fine up until the end, where it began to move a little less surely. It didn't look nearly smooth enough to have been planned. Either the trainer was too lazy to create the full dance or the pokemon had forgotten the end."
"Hmm...?" The girl put a finger to her chin as she listened. "You must have a good eye. Are you going to enter a contest?"
"Me?" I nearly laughed at that. Seriously, I had to bite down on my lip to stop myself from chuckling. That would have been rude. "No, I'm not. My pokemon are FAR from being as skilled as the Buneary. I may be able to criticize, but I can't do better."
"Really? I think you're selling yourself up short. You look like you'd do well."
Her warm smile melted away my previous doubts. No one could pretend to be so cheery as this. Maybe I was the one being paranoid.
"Besides, if you just try the beginner level, I'm sure you'd see just how fun a contenst can be. I could teach you if you want, urm...."
"Zane." I offered my name when she was a loss. "I appreciate the offer but I'm just not photogenic enough to get out stage."
"Nonsense." She giggled. "You radiate with the necessary confidence. My name is Susana, by the way, but you can call me Suzy."
Right then, the entire boat shuddered. It was minor--almost passable to as rough currents. But the feeling made me look out the nearest window showing the outside.
Strange. We couldn't see the land any more.
What is happening to the boat? What do these two have to do with the previous three mentioned? Who was that hooded man who attacked a member of the Elite Four? The plot gets rolling in the next chapter! Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, I'm going to work out ways to help define certain character traits that I feel I am failing to impress upon you people. Especially Madame Hiver, avec ses belles cheveux D:<
An avid writer, willing to join any worthwhile creative writing effort. For the Gs: Google, Games, and Gallade!!!
Because if we can't protect the earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it. -Red, Pokemon Adventures
Well, here's the next chapter. It's a bit early, but the last chapter didn't mean much and I wanted to put something that revealed a bit more about the plot. For the next while, I'm going to be focusing on Zane and Susana, because what they go through is slightly more relevent at the moment than the other three XD.
It had been specifically stated that the boat would be close enough to the land that we could see the shore at all times. It was a cruise displaying the beautiful landscape of Hoenn, after all. But for some reason, as I looked out the window, all I could see was the wide expanse of the ocean. What was going on here?
Just then, the sound of static echoed through the air and I winced in pain at the volume level.
"Hello, hello!" A voice spoke over the crowd's voice and everyone immediately fell silent. Even if they all kept talking, though, the volume on the speaker was loud enough that everyone on the boat could easily hear. "I apologize for the inconvenience, but as some of you sharper folks may be aware, this cruise ship has been hijacked!"
"You've got to be kidding me." I groaned in irration as a collective gasp rang out from everyone around me. A boat hijacking? That wasn't even funny. The voice on the speaker sounded like a small girl's. Was this some sort of joke?
"Don't worry too much about it." The voice continued. "We Schola have no interest in harming any of you, nor are we so petty as to rob you." The voice giggled, as if she found this funny. "No, no--we care little for money. If you'd all be so kind as to had back your rooms and stay there, you'll be perfectly fine."
I frowned for a moment, considering the tone of their voice. They didn't sound like they were lying, at least. So I sighed as I turned on my heel and moved along with the crowd toward the elevator. I was surprised, however, when a felt a hand tug on my elbow.
"Where are you going?" Susana asked, her eyes wide with wonder. "Are you going to do as they say?"
"Of course I am." I replied with a shrug. "They said they weren't going to harm us or anything. Besides, I'm sure the ship's security will take care of things."
I didn't believe the last part, obviously. I was positive that the security had already been taken care of, or else these guys wouldn't have announced that they hijacked the ship. I did want to know, however, why they had taken us off course. What was their goal?
"Oh, yes!" The voice suddenly returned to the speaker and I winced at the volume once more. "I almost forgot! Will Zane of the Pokemon Association please surrender and head to the control room immediately? If not, the ship captain and the rest of his crew with be slaughtered one at a time every five minutes. That is all!"
Now they must have been lying, I thought as I accidently bit down on my lip in surprise. I wiped the blood away quickly as I glared upward at the loud speaker, as if I could see the culprit through it. Knowing my name aside, they couldn't really intend to kill the captain! That was absurd! What could I have that they wanted?
But no matter how I looked at it, it would be taking a huge risk to simply not go. I had wanted this to go along smoothly, but it looked like that was not a possibility.
"Go to your room and stay there till it's safe." I ordered Susana as I strode past her. Once again, if felt her hand grab my elbow, stopping me.
"Are you going to surrender yourself?" She asked now. I answered her without looking back.
"Don't be ridiculous." I muttered. "I'm going over there to kick the butts of these hijacking jerks, find out how they know my name, and rescue the captain and his crew while I'm at it."
"Really?" Susana's voice changed then, to my surprise. It lost its innocent ignorance and became a bit more wry and amused. I looked back at her and was surprised to see a sly smirk, along with a hard gaze on her face, replacing the airhead that had been there previously. "In that case, I'm coming with you."
"Why would you want to come? It'll be dangerous."
"Because it sounds more interesting than waiting around in my room."
I frowned for a moment, intending to refuse her, but something made me change my mind. That sensation I'd felt when I'd first seen her...and the look on her face now...something about them warned me not to think of her so shallowly.
"Alright," I sighed in defeat. "Just don't get into trouble and stay with me."
"We're not going to the control room?" Susana asked as elevator we were on continued up floor after floor. Everyone was already in their room, thank god, so we didn't have to make any unnecessary stops.
"We're going to the captain's quarters first." I replied darkly. "I'm not just going to walk into a trap without first making sure that there are actual hostages."
"But if they have the control room, then they can see you on the cameras, right?"
"Yep. There's no doubt that they're watching us right now on the elevator. But they haven't stopped the elevator yet. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, though."
Susana didn't ask me any more questions after that. She simpy watched the floors we passed through the clear walls of the elevator silently as we continued to the top floor.
Once we arrived at our desination, I glanced up and down the halls, hoping to see a worker. There was no one, not even any sign of the hijackers.
"So you're from the Pokemon Association?" Susana asked as we rushed down the halls. "Do you know why they're after you? And do we have to run so quickly, my legs are tiring."
"Yes, no, and yes." I replied to her questions in order. "I have no clue why I'm being targetted. I didn't bring anything of value with me, so assume that I know something they don't want me to."
"Or perhaps you are a threat to them in some way?"
I glanced back at her for a brief moment. "Do you know something I don't?"
"Nope. I'm just randomly guessing here."
We came to a stop as our path was suddenly barred by two people in black robes with hoods over their heads. From their necks hung a rosary with a strange horse-like figure hanging from the end that I could not identify.
"We're here to see the captain." I told them firmly.
"You were told to go to the control room." One of them told me, remaing in front of the door to the captain's quarters. "It's in the other direction."
"I don't care. I came to see the captain."
The lifted their hands, which held one pokeball each, and I immediately took a pokeball from my wristband and tossed it outward. My partner, Aggron, charged outward as the two released a Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee. I had the disadvanage of types and numbers, but I wasn't in the best of moods.
"Aggron, lift you right foot and sheild your chest with your arms!"
Aggron followed my orders exactly, blocking Hitmonchan's salvo of punches with it's arms raised. Hitmonlee swept one leg at Aggron's right leg, but Aggron lifted it in time to evade the hit and stomped down on it, crushing Hitmonlee's leg beneath its weight.
Aggron's body glowed with bright light that it released in a single burst, enveloping the two pokemon completely and throwing them back into their masters. I hopped onto Aggron's back, holding onto Susana's hand as I gripped on tightly.
Aggron barreled into the four enemies with dangerous force, and rammed straight into the door, turning it to splinters like it was nothing. Once we were in the room, Susana and I hopped off of Aggron's back, careful not to jump onto the unconscious hooded men or their pokemon.
"Wow! Nice entrance!"
I stared at the girl sitting behind the captain's desk at his chair, watching us with big pink eyes. She wore a black robe as well with the hood down and her hair was a bubblegum color. I had no doubt that she had dyed it. Judging from her stature, she was young. Maybe eleven or twelve--clearly too young to be in charge of the hijackers.
"Aw, how cute." Susana giggled. "The little girl is playing captain."
"Excuse me, miss, but I'm not playing." The girl rolled her eyes with indignance as she rested one of her thin hands on the desk. "And my name is Jasmine, in case you forgot to ask."
I frowned as I heard muffled sounds and looked to see the captain and his crew tied up beside the desk, sitting on the floor. They didn't look fearful, as if their lives were in danger. Just shaken up and a little banged up, probably from the resistance they'd put up.
"What's going on?" I demanded as I returned my attention to the girl. "I thought you were threatening to kill these guys?"
"Don't be ridiculous! I was ordered not to kill anyone!" The girl named Jasmine frowned, as if she found the thought absurd. "Well, anyone except for you."
"So you lied." Susana said with finality. "In order to lure him."
"Why?" I demanded. Aggron stepped forward to stand over her fiercely, bearing more than four time her height, and many times her weight. She'd be easily crushed on accident if Aggron got too exuberant with the intimidation. "What are you after?"
"Well, I came to trap you." She seemed completely unfazed by Aggron as she continued to watch me with her big eyes. "I'm from the Schola--a religious group in honor of our lord and savior Arceus. We were ordered to do away with you five who hold a piece of the savior by taking your lives."
"What? But--what the heck is 'Arceus'?"
"Just an old legend." She drummed her fingers on the table a few times absently, not seeming the least bit rushed. "Anyways, I suggest you hurry. You're wasting time by pretending to threaten me."
I grimaced at her and she raised a pink eyebrow at me, amused by my expression.
"Come on, who do you think you're fooling? I don't have any pokemon with me, and I'm completely defenseless. As if you'd hurt me. But the control room, is still under our control. This ship is heading far out to the middle of the sea. In the case that you aren't dealt with in the next fifteen minutes, the entire ship blows up." She glanced down to the two men and their Pokemon, who were beginning to come to. "But if you'd prefer to stick around, be my guest."
"That's seems a bit radical." Susana offered when I could only stumbled in surprise. She'd blow up the whole ship?! "You expected Zane to come here first too, huh?"
"It is radical." Jasmine replied calmly. "I'm ready to die for my mission, even if it means hundreds of others die as well. You're that dangerous."
"How am I dangerous?" I demanded. "What do I have to do with your 'Arceus', and how do I have a piece of it?"
I was frustrated enough to strangle this girl, honestly. What the heck was going on here? But even if I wanted to be violent, I wasn't accomplishing anything by wasting time here. The control room was roughly ten minutes away by running.
"Aggron, return." I said finally as I held its pokeball up and returned it to my armband. Then I whirled around and headed out the door, grabbing Susana's hand and bringing her along with me.
"I'm going to need your help!" I told her as she looked at me, bewildered. Despite her surprise, she didn't resist too much, and her Lilligant followed behind us. No one pursued, which meant that they weren't bluffing.
When we arrived at the control room, there were several men waiting as I expected. They released their pokemon to bar the door. But rather than attacking back, I continued running, under the cover of a storm of leaves that swirled through the corridor, battering the pokemon and opening a path for me to rush through.
I looked around the control room once and knew what was going on. In the corner of the room was a large box with a clock counting down in big red letters. It was attached to one of the computers, so I could guess that it was programmed to explode every electronic connected to the ship.
"Metagross!" I called as I released him from its pokeball. "I need you to find a way to diffuse that bomb and regain control of the ship. And hurry--you've got three minutes and fifty seconds."
Metagross didn't hesitate to question me--it simply set to work tapping at the keyboard furiously with its three-clawed arms as it floated, giving it two sets to work with. Metagross had the brains of a super computer--I could only hope it was enough.
"How's it going?" Susana asked as she walkd in behind me. Her Lilligant had sealed off the entrance with its leaf storm, keeping the members of the Schola from entering through pure, overwhelming force. She may not have been necessarily trained for battle, but Susana definitely knew some tricks, it seemed.
"If I'm guessing right, a Porygon has hacked the computer and set that bomb." I answered as I pointed to the bomb in question. "It's probably still in there as a defense mechanism to stop anyone from disabling or delaying the detonation. I just hope we're in time to stop it."
"A Porygon? What is that?"
"A cyber pokemon that can enter machines at will." One that I never expected to see. I didn't know too many people who had a Porygon since they didn't naturally exist in any habitats. But the signs were obvious--no one was manning the computer, after all. The screen on the computer Metagross was using was furiously switching between programs as I saw the word [ERROR] more times than I would have liked. Two minutes left.
"It doesn't look like you'll make it." Susana said as she peered over my shoulder. "Even if you stop it from blowing up the computers, it will take longer to stop the bomb itself from blowing up. And if that happens, the whole control room will be destroyed and they won't be able to navigate back to land."
Another unexpected moment of sharpness, but I already knew this. I was hoping for better, but the remaining minute and ten seconds wouldn't be long enough. It was going to be close. Far too close. Which meant that I had to take stupid and desperate measures.
"Metagross, meteor mash."
Metagross paused from its work and slammed one fist into the cords attached to the bomb, severing them all at once. Susana winced in surprise as I picked up the bomb and hopped onto Metagross' back.
"What are you doing?" She demanded as Metagross slammed a fist into the wall, forcing a huge opening for him to fit through.
"Getting rid of the bomb." I replied as Metagross took the to air and shot out of the hole, flying at a diagnal arc into the air as fast as it could. I kept an eye on the timer, watching it carefully as it continued to countdown.
I chucked the machine away from me immediately and threw myself down onto Metagross' body, bracing myself as the explosion commenced. I groaned as burning pieces of charred metal flew through the air and fell onto me and Metagross who's flight became shaky. The next thing I knew, I was falling toward the water at a terrifying pace. I remembered that falling into water from to high up made it no different than falling into a sea of asphalt. Oh goody...
I groaned as I cracked and eye open and sat up. My head was spinning and my stomach didn't feel to well. I flipped myself from my back and immediately threw up into the ocean to myself and I shuddered. How much sea water did I swallow?
Then I realized that I was sitting atop my Metagross, who was floating gently in the water, bobbing up and down like a booey.
"Metagross?" I blinked in surprise. "But...how?!"
"He descended to the water not long after you after trying to catch you in midair and missed." A voice responded. I looked up to see a old man with a long white beard wearing an assortment of wet garments smiling at me through several wrinkles. He was standing in an old looking fishing boat, holding a rope that was attached to one of Metagross' arms, so we drifted along with them as they drove forward. Despite his apparent age, he was quite muscular, easily visible as he had his sleeves rolled up, baring his forearms.
"Long time no see, Mr. Briney." I smiled miserably, happy to see my old friend. I remembered a long while ago when this old sailor had helped me explored the Abandoned Ship. I didn't have any pokemon that could surf for long distances at the time, so it was thanks to him that I had managed. It was a real bonding experience of sorts. His partner pokemon, Peeko the Wingull, was perched on the steering wheel and greeted me with a raised wing and a cute little growl.
"Zane, me boy, glad to see you're still alive and kicking!" Mr. Briney grinned at me. "You gave me a fright when I saw you falling through the sky!"
"Did you save me?"
"No, actually." I saw a nervous expression flicker across his face behind his beard. "I only saw you falling from my cabin. I rushed out immediately and was surprised to see you floating in the water unconscious, but alive, along with this girl."
I blinked in confusion and looked beside me. I jumped as I realized that Susana was fast asleep beside me, apparently exhausted. She was soaking wet, like me, and her Lilligant was beside her, asleep as well. She was cuter like this, I'll admit, when I was confused as to what kind of person she was.
How had she gotten here, though? Had she somehow followed me? I couldn't imagine she would be so stupid, though. Whatever the case, I was glad to see she was okay. In my moment of rash action, I'd managed to find room to worry about how she would deal with the Schola alone once I was gone.
What is the Schola after? How did Susana end up with Zane despite having no means of flying? What will the two do now that the boat has left them behind? Find out inthe next chapter of Pokemon: Shattered Realities!
"Hmm..." Mr. Briney rubbed his chin thoughtfully as I finished explaining to him everything that happened. "That's quite the tale, Zane, me boy."
"I know, but it really did happen."
"Oh, I believe you. There is no way you could make up something like that. The people you described--the Schola. I know of them."
I blinked at the old man in surprise. I could hardly read his expression beneath his beard, but from what I could tell, he was serious. "You really know them?"
"Well, not personally. I know about them. The Schola are a religious group from a different region that hold a powerful faith in a pokemon deified as a sort of god--one that was born when there was nothing, and created everything."
"Wasn't it Groudon and Kyogre who created the land and sea?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. "And Dialga and Palkia who created time and space?"
"Yes, this is true. But who do you think created them?"
I had no answer to that. Indeed, it had always been a mystery to the Pokemon Association as to how the legendary titans and pokemon of creation had been born. We assumed from an egg, of course, like all pokemon. But had that egg not been laid by a pokemon before it?
"That explains why that girl reffered to Arceus with such reverence..." I muttered. "But she also called it a 'savior'. What was that about?"
"Well, that truly is an old story--one before the existence of the titans. It's been passed down by oral traditions for ages, but not many believe it, so it is not accepted as truth by anyone aside from the Schola."
"Can you tell me?" I insisted. "If this is the foundation for their faith, then it might explain why they're after me."
Mr. Briney sighed deeply as he took a sip from his tea. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention. The three of us were inside his little single room cabin on route 104, sitting at the short table in the center so low that we had to sit on the floor. Mr. Briney had fed us two after nearly drowning, which I was grateful for, and Susana had promptly passed out. She simply lied her head on the table and shut her eyes, and she was out like a light, despite having woken up after me. I would have gone to sleep as well, but I was too conserned about what had happened.
"I'll tell you." Mr. Briney decided finally. "But don't put too much stock behind this tale, lad. Eons ago, back before this world even existed, another world did, in a dimension all on its own. It was a world where three pokemon governed as rulers, with only one sage above them whom was reffered to as father. For the most part, everything was left to the three pokemon to do as they please. But the older of the two of the Pokemon had a terrible feud with one another and fought one another to prove themselves superior. In the fighting, they forgot all about the third and youngest Pokemon, who wisely retreated from the fighting. Time and space clashed between the two feuding and the world they lived in slowly began to crumble in deteriorate, turning into a ghost of the beautiful land it once was. The Pokemon that those feuding saw as a father finally had enough of the fighting and descended upon them in order to mediate. Blinded by fury and impulsive with anger, the two Pokemon lashed out without thinking, weakening their father greviously. The father, however, refused to allow himself to perish, and used all of his power to banish the two who attacked him. He placed great burdens on them both. He set the regulation of all space onto the shoulders of one Pokemon and forced the other to become guardian of all time. The two, bound by this fate, were unable to vent their fury any longer and saw what they had done. The land had been harmed so badly, the distortions in space and time could not be fixed, and so the the pokemon had to leave and create another world with their powers over time and space--a world that we know today quite well. The father, tired from taxing himself so badly, shattered his own existence in order to preserve his life, scattering them across time and space, for a purpose we do not know. Left behind, the third ruler who loved the land now so distorted, remained behind the govern the empty world alone, forever hounded by bitterness and hatred for what had transpired so long ago."
Mr. Briney sighed as he picked up his tea and took a long drink from it. It took me a second of him not continuing before I realized he was done.
"That's it?" I blinked. "Is that all there is to it?'
"Aye, lad. What did you expect? It's a myth only those in the Schola truly believe."
"But the three rulers, they are Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina, right? The creation trio from Sinnoh?"
"Correct. Sinnoh is supposedly where Palkia and Dialga appeared in this world, exactly the center of Mt. Coronet to be exact, and created this world. From then on, the legend is as we know."
I folded my arms as I frowned. The story was interesting, but far-fetched. What did it have to do with the Schol aattacking me? What exactly where they after?
"I've gotten an entire religious group chasing after me and I can't figure out why." I moaned in exasperation as I pressed the palm of my hand to my forehead. "What a mess."
"You haven't really got the entire group after you, I'd imagine." Mr. Briney said consolingly. "Only five of them, if things haven't changed."
"What do you mean?"
"Anyone can convert to their faith, but there are a specific five who act sort of like the ones in charge, protecting anything directly related to Arceus."
"There were a bunch of grunts with the one who attacked me earlier. Five, I think, all with trained pokemon."
"Really? Well that's a surprise..."
"Surprise? For me? Oh, you shouldn't have." Susana yawned as she raised her head, rubbing her eyes with her hands. Her dark hair was draped over her face lazily. She stared at me and Mr. Briney giving her odd looks, then blushed in surprise. "Oh! You weren't talking about me, were you?!"
"Good morning, sleepy-head." I sighed. "You just missed a great seaman's story."
"Really?" Susana smiled at Mr. Briney. "It must have been pretty interesting."
"It was just an old story about creation." Mr. Briney shrugged without making eye contact. Strange. I'd never known him to be nervous around any woman. "But you really took a long rest. I guess you too will be heading out soon?"
"Yep." I nodded. "We're going to need to head north-east, to Lilycove."
"But how?" Susana's eyebrows nitted together in confusion. "The boat left us behind."
"We'll just hike straight through Hoenn and get their before them. I know this region like the back of my hand, so it'll be easy."
"Eeehhh?!" Susana was now dismayed. "We're going to walk there?"
"Got a better idea? All of our stuff is on board that ship."
Susana just buried her face in harm arms, moaning aloud. I chuckled to myself. Clearly she wasn't the type used to adventuring.
"It's so gloomy here." Susana whined as we trudged through the forest. The trees were so thick, they created a canopy above us that filtered the light. "And damp."
"It's just a short walk through here." I assured for the tenth time. "So long as we know where we're going and don't get lost, we'll be out in no time. Besides..." I looked up to her, sitting on my Camerupt's back with her legs pulled up rather than hanging loosely at the sides. "You seem to be pretty comfortable."
"Actually, it's very bumpy and uncomfortable." She replied, probably just to be contrary. "And your Camerupt seriously needs to be groomed. I've seen worse, but there is ash all over its fur!"
As she said this, she covered her mouth and sneezed. Her Lilligant, who was beside her on Camerupt's hump, offered her a spare leaf and Susana accepted it gratefully.
"Camerupt hasn't had a bath since the last time we fought a battle, so I'm afraid that we can't do anything about it, unless you want to clean it."
Susana muttered something about me being a barbaric, uncultured slob that made me chuckle.
"You talk like some sort of rich family's daughter." I informed her. "Although that's not much of a surprise."
"I'm not rich. My parents passed a way long ago. I haven't had the chance to visit their graves in Unova for over three years."
I blinked at her in surprise. Her parents were dead? It made me feel kind of bad asking about it now.
"How did you grow up, then? Were you on your own, or...?"
"You're probably wondering where my refined personality came from, right? I lived in an orphanage in Iccarus city where this man named Brycen visited often. He taught us about pokemon and how to care for them, and he personally introduced me to the Pokemon Musical. I fell in love immediately, along with my friendly Petilil, and dreamed of joining one ever since. I have, of course, and did fabulous."
"Hmm." Was all I could say in response. No wonder she reacted to negatively to having the travel by foot. She had never done it before--at least, not to this extent. She may not even have been that profficient at battling. I feared that I would have to protect her the entire way to Lilycove. Maybe it would be better to teach her to fight myself....
Then I remembered what had happened on the boat, and how she'd somehow been floating beside me in the water when Mr. Briney had found us.
"Say, Susana," I began slowly, hopping carefully over a puddle of mud. "After I fled the boat with that bomb, what did you do?"
"Well," She hesitated at well, refusing to meet my eyes. "I saw you toss it away from yourself, but the explosion still knocked you off of Metagross. I wanted to cushion your fall with Lilligant's petals, but we were way to far to reach you. We moved to the window to get closer, and...fell."
I stared at her as kept her eyes trained on the canopy above for a long moment before I burst out laughing.
"Oh dear god!" I hooted as Camerupt snickered along with me. "You fell?! Of all the ways to go overboard, that has got to be the best one I've ever heard!"
"Well excuse me for worrying about you." She said scathingly. That sobered me up quickly.
"Alright, alright." I said, raising my hands in surrender. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make fun of you or anything."
"Sure you didn't." She continued to pout, her face trying to be angry, though I could see the corners of her lips twitching as she struggled not to grin. Then her expression was wiped away as she noticing something.
"What are those?" She asked as she pointed. I looked to see what she meant. Several hedges were lined up to her left--our right, too-- with brownish mushrooms sitting on them with green splotches all over their bodies. I could see the large mushrooms shuddering as the tensed, the faces on them scrunched up in effort. I immediately knew what was going on. The Shroomish were preparing to fire off their spores--stun spore specifically.
"Camerupt, lava plume--" I faltered as I remembered that Susana was on Camerupt's back. If the ashes in his fur bothered her, inhaling them directly might actually kill her. Which meant only one thing...
"Run for it, Camerupt!" I ordered as I began running myself. Camerupt didn't hesitated to follow right after me as we charged through the trees. Shroomish all around us began spouting a yellow dust into the air around us and I covered my mouth and nose with one hand.
"Don't breathe in the spores!" I warned Susana, whow as hanging on for dear life.
"Thanks for the warning!" Susana called back as her Lilligant firmly held one of its leaves over her face, protecting her. We rushed right out of the woods in to the daylight, putting a lot of distance between us and the forest, coming to a stop on a bridge spanning over a still lake. I sat on the nearest bench to take a breather.
"That was a close one." I said as I stood up to help Susana down from Camerupt. She sat on the bench and quickly swatted the stray spores from her hair and off of Lilligant's petals. "Are you alright?"
"I cannot believe those pokemon attacked out of NO WHERE!" Susana seethed in fury. "Don't they have any manners, rather than choosing to paralyze first, and possibly ask questions later?"
"Pokemon don't just attack out of no where." I assured her. "I think my laughter may have disturbed them, so they attacked out of self-defense because I was so loud."
"Don't try to excuse them...hmm?" Susana muttered insolently before glancing at the figure nudging one of her legs with its read nose. She drew in a sharp breath and jumped as she realized what it was.
"What manner of a creature is that?" She demanded as she pulled her legs up onto the bench to keep the pokemon from touching them.
"It's a Nosepass." I told her as I knelt down beside the rock pokemon and petted its head gently. It seemed to appreciate the friendliness, rather than reacting as surprised as Susana. There were no wild Nosepass around here and the only person I knew who owned one in Rustboro was...
"Roxanne!" I grinned up at the gym leader as she approached. The scholar held a textbook in one hand and had her hair tied in two loops around her head that drooped down into ponytails. She was probably the second youngest gym leader in Hoenn. She grinned back at me as we embraced each other quickly.
"Zane, it's been ages!" She exclaimed happily. "I was nearby studying when Nosepass suddenly ambled off in this direction and I had to follow after it to see what was up. But I didn't expect you to be here!"
"Nor did I." I laughed. "It was kind of an accident. By the way, this is my friend, Susana, who's traveling with me. Susana, this is Roxanne, gym leader of Rustboro City and a fellow field worker of mine in the Pokemon Association."
Susana ceased poking Nosepass's indicative nose and looked up to Roxanne with curious eyes.
"Hello." She greeted. "You just seem to know everyone, don't you Zane?"
"He's been everywhere, no doubt." Roxanne chuckled. "Pleasure to meet you. So, Zane, what are you doing here this time around?"
"Let's see, where to begin? How about we start with time?"
My, isn't that last sentence indicative in and of itself? The next chapter should be out sometime next week, as soon as I get my groove on to make one of my favorite gym leaders look good in battle. Pay close attention to that long legend that I had Mr. Briney ramble about. It's pretty relevent throughout the story and I may not write the whole thing out again.
Any suggestions, comments, questions, blah, blah, etc. are welcome
"Wow, you could make a biography of your life right now and it would sell like a novel." Roxanne said after I finished explaining to her everything that had happened. "Are you really okay after all of that?"
"I'm fine." I assured her with a shrug. "A little shaken, I'll admit, but nothing physical. But didn't anything I tell you sound somewhat familiar?"
Roxanne shook her head as she turned around to face the chalkboard on the wall. We'd walked inside the Trainer School, a signature part of Rustboro, of which Roxanne had graduated as top student. She waved toward some of the children in the back to be silent as she began drawing on the chalkboard briskly.
"According to your story...this world is not the first, but the second of two, and the first one was destroyed by two of the three rulers. Regulator of space and guardian of time...Clearly Dialga and Palkia. Those are two legendary pokemon told in Sinnoh's legends that are as powerful, if not more so, than the three titans of weather told in Hoenn's lore. The third one you mentioned may be Giratina. I don't know if you've heard about it yet..."
"I have." The existence of Giratina wasn't a well-known fact, and only a few important people and scholars knew of it. The Pokemon Association's Director had told me himself not long ago. "It's the ruler of a place called the 'Distortion World' which acts as a mirror directly connected to ours."
"Exactly. There are only a rare few people who have ever been inside the Distortion World, but it is said that Giratina can bend it to its will absolutely and helps control the balance. It's a little different from what your story said, but the Distortion World and the first world may be one and the same."
I stared at her in surprise. Was that possible?
"But the Distortion World is just a mirror of our world, isn't it? The first world in the story is completely independent and was annihilated."
"Not really." Susana murmured as she fingered a small pencil in her hand, sitting at the desk behind me. I didn't think she'd been paying attention. "From what I've heard, the Distortion World is a place that follows its own laws of physics and is unfit for people to live in for a long time. Sounds just like another world to me. And if it really is the first world, it would make sense that it is still connected to this one in some way, since the ones who created this world came from there first."
Roxanne raised an eyebrow at me and I just shrugged in response. I didn't know what to say either.
"Then tell me this," Roxanne said as she set down the chalk, turning her back to the diagram of two earths beside each other with a rough sketch of Giratina between them. "Why do you think they are after Zane?"
"How the heck should I know? I just want to get to Lilycove, wait for the cruise boat to arrive, and take my stuff back so I can participate in the contests. What he does after guiding me there is his own problem."
"Leave it." I sighed when Roxanne opened her mouth to argue. "She has a point--I left a lot of stuff on the boat too. We don't have much time to waste. Can we go through the RusturfTunnel?"
"Of course." Roxanne said as she flipped her hair haughtily, giving Susana one last lingering look of dissaproval. Susana ignored it completely. "It's only been a three days since you were tossed from the boat, right? You should be able to beat it to Lilycove with plenty of time to spare if you take the sea route from Mauville. Come on, I'll show you there."
The route to Rusturf Tunnel was a grassy path with a scarce amount of trees that cut of abruplty as they reached the mountain ahead. It was possible to scale, of course, but it was a dangerous hike. Going through the tunnel that had been dug through the mountain's center was far safer. Rusturf Tunnel and its surroundings were known for its high population of Whismur, the whisper pokemon, which was ironic considering how deadly loud they became with training.
It was a surprise when we were intercepted by two men standing among the rocks laying at the foot of the mountain, staring directly in our direction. One had dark hair swept forward, much like a mowhawk, and wore a strange bronze visor that hid his eyes from sight under the glare of the sunlight from above. He wore dark robes and boots and had his sleeves rolled up past his elbows. A Breloom stood beside him, eyeing us with a completely neutral expression that I didn't understand.
Beside the first man was another with similar black robes, only with a belt tied around the waist. He had long white hair that reached his shoulders lightly and he wore a large brimmed hat with a feather from a Chatot's wing. Essentially, he looked just like a bard with a blue flute hanging from his belt. A Grumpig bounced beside him, hopping from one foot to the other.
And they were blocking our way into the tunnel quite obviously.
"Oh wonderful..." I muttered darkly as we came to a stop, my hand reached to the armband of pokeballs on my wrist. The one with the visor noticed this and smirked.
"Well, well, so you already know who we are?" He said as he stepped down from the rocks easily, heading directly toward us. "That makes it easy. Please come with us."
"Fat chance, Schola." I snarled. "There aren't any hostages for you here."
"You speak as if you have a choice." The man with the visor raised his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his dangerous colorless eyes. "You will come with us, whether you like it or not."
"Don't be so rough, Quincy." The bard touched a hand to his companion lightly as he grinned at us. I disliked this one on sight. Something about that smile was entirely fake. "Let's at least introduce ourselves first."
The man bowed his head to us as he took his hat from his head politely. "I am Fonrose, one of the Schola's four advisors. My companion, Quincy, and I have come on official business. I apologize for Jasmine's sloppy job earlier--we do not intend to take any more lives than necessary."
"Sloppy was right." Quincy snarled as he continued to glare at me. "She should have taken care of her task quick and easy, just like Sir Xansa. It's shameful to leave your unfinished work to others!"
"Don't you worry," Fonrose chuckled. "We'll be sure to take care of the two of them."
"Pardon?" Susana blinked in surprise. "Did you just say 'the two of them'?"
"Though I ridicule Jasmine for her blunder," Quincy glared at Susana through his visor. "We may not have been able to identify and track our fifth and final elusive target."
"Me?" Susana looked back and forth between the two like they were crazy. Fonrose, the bard, sighed in exasperation.
"Feigning ignorance is homely. Grumpig, psywave!"
A beam of multiple colors bounced on the rocks around us and shot at us at an impossible angle. Susana and I threw ourselves to the ground just in time as it flew over our heads. I prepared to release one of my pokemon, but Susana grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet, quickly running through the raised dust toward the tunnel.
"What are you doing?" I demanded in surprise. Susana grinned without turning back to me, her grip tightening on my shirt sleeve. She could run surprisingly well.
"A change of scenery." She replied as we ran through the tunnel entrance.
"Don't let them get away, Fonrose!" Quincy ordered as he spotted our backs dissapearing. "That tunnel is a straight path into the heart of Verdanturf! We may lose them among the crowd!"
"You needn't rush me." Fonrose replied serenely as his Grumpig danced strangely and the two teleported instantaneously. Quincy's eyes focused on the mountain's top. If he caved the tunnel in, he might strike lucky and get rid of them both without further trouble.
"Breloom, dynamic punch!"
Breloom darted forward to hop up in the direction Quincy pointed and rammed into an invisible wall of force that prevented the pokemon from advancing further. Quincy narrowed his eyes at the rocks shifting slightly where Breloom stood and understood instantly. Magnetic waves that are spread out to form a harmless, yet impenetrable, field to trap the enemy...The Nosepass standing before them with its stubby arms spread wide was clearly the source. Quincy focused his gaze on the grinning brunette sitting on a boulder nearby, having taken advantage of the raised dust to get behind him as well.
"Tell your Nosepass to drop its "block", gym leader." Quincy said warningly. Roxanne raised an eyebrow.
"You get an 'A' for observation." She congradulated. "But a 'D' for ettiquette. Until Nosepass is knocked out, he won't be dropping his "block"."
"None of this concerns you. The Pokemon Association has no right to intervene with the actions of the Schola without a formal excuse."
"Yes, I'd heard about that. But right now, I'm not acting as a gym leader. I'm helping out an old colleague of mine."
"So that's your pitiful reasoning?" Quincy muttered darkly. "Fine then, we'll just force our way through you! Breloom, get rid of the Nosepass with your mach punch!"
Roxanne tossed a pokeball in the air and her Cradily landed heavily in front of the charging Breloom as the mushroom Pokemon swung its fists out in rapid succession, so quick that it was almost invisible. The fists battered Cradily as it braced itself, but Cradily didn't give an inch against the attack.
"Stockpile may increase your defenses, but it doesn't stop Brelooms powerful attacks from being doubly effective." Quincy said as he patiently waited for Cradily to succumb to the attack.
"Sorry, but you'll have to hit harder, I'm afraid." Roxanne said without showing the least bit of anxiety. Cradily showed no signs of collapsing against the attacks whatsoever, to Quincy's surprise. "My rock types will only stand again and again until the enemy tires and falls."
Cradily's tentacles whipped out and entangled Breloom, throwing the attacker back with great strength. Quincy knew that Breloom could shrug off that blow easily, but why were Cradily's wounds dissapearing?
"You crafty woman..." Quincy murmured as he found his answer in the ground at Cradily's feet. Roots were spreading through the ground, anchoring the fossil pokemon deeply and sucking nutrients out of the earth to strengthen the user. "You used "ingrain" to hold your ground."
"What a well deserved 'A' for your observation! Yes, ingrain replenishes the user's energy and prevents them from being switched out by force, such as by whirlwind or roar. Along with the ability, Suction Cups, Cradily isn't going anywhere. You won't be able to even touch my Nosepass, let along the tunnel!"
"You want to draw this battle out, do you?" Quincy gave a heinous smirk that made it seem as if the temperature dropped ten degrees. "I am Sir Xansa's strategic advisor and most loyal subordinate! A lone gym leader won't be able to stop me from accomplishing the mission given to me!"
"Strategic advisor, eh?" Roxanne smirked. "I'm the top student of the Trainer School here and the best when it comes to using strategy to wear down your opponent. Let's see you try and get past me!"
"Prepare to have that arrogant smirk wiped off your face!" Quincy roared as Breloom shot forward, hands up like a boxers as it charged toward the awaiting Cradily.
The Schola vs. a gym leader! The battle of tactics begins! Meanwhile, Susana is not whom she appears to be?! Next time, Zane vs. Fonrose ?? More questions to be answered, while others to be asked! (next chapter will be up quicker than this one was)
"Hold on a minute." I pulled my hand from Susana as we went deeper into the tunnel. "Susana, what's going on? Why are they after you too and why do they know who you are?"
Susana stared at me for a long moment with her luminous grey eyes that seemed to sparkle in the dull light. Though her face was void of guilt, I knew that something was up. Ever since the beginning, I knew that I was missing something--that Susana was hiding something. I'd ignored it at first, thinking that it was none of my business, but now I had to know. Why was she being targetted now as well? What were the Schola really after? They'd said she was feigning ignorance--something she didn't deny. I struggled to not ask the main question tugging in my mind. Just who was she?
When I only stared back at her without saying a word, she spoke without any expression crossing her face.
"Aren't you also wondering what they meant by 'fifth and final' target?"
Her single sentence struck me hard. Five people? They were chasing five different people, and Susana and I were apparently two of them. That meant that the Schola were targetting three others. But for what?
"What do you know?" I asked darkly. "And don't give me a vague answer, I want the whole truth. What do we have that the Schola want?"
"Arceus." Susana replied without batting an eyelash. "We have their beloved savior hostage."
I could only stare at Susana in deep shock, unable to reply. Before I could completely recover from my surprise, the sound of something scratching against rock caught out attention and we looked toward a rock slab sticking out of the tunnel wall above us. The Pokemon that was standing on the slab had beautiful white fur and a regal posture that earned it its infamous name. At this moment, the black horn sticking from the side of its head resembled a scythe's blade perfectly.
"What...is that?" Susana appeared to be as affected by the Pokemon's presence as me. Just the sight of it would send goosebumps down the back of anyone, even if they didn't know what it was.
"That's an Absol." I replied hoarsely. I cleared my throat and began again, frowning at the Pokemon as it continued to stare down at us. "It's a Pokemon said to herald disasters. They reside deep in the mountains because of the strife they cause among populations. Floods, droughts, earthquakes...they're like a grim reaper. It is..."
I jumped slightly as Susana's voice rang out through the tunnel, reverbrating and echoing loudly. She clapped her hands together as she stared up at the Absol with the eyes of a giddy five year old. Startled by Susana's sudden exclamation, the Absol quickly hopped down from its perch and dissapeared into the tunnel at a running pace. Susana watched with the same entranced smile.
"Such beauty...such grace...such majesty!" Susana swung her hands out, nearly smacking me in the face as she did. "Even though it is wild, it puts to shame many of the Pokemon I've seen throughout my life! Trained, there is no doubt that it will be completely unmatched in pure sheen! I must have it!"
"Didn't you hear me?" I began, instantly dissaproving. She could not be serious. At a time like this?! "That thing has brought disaster time and time again. It has an infamous reputation and is not well recieved by people."
"Don't you know?" Susana raised an eyebrow at me, not at all fazed by my description. "There is untamed beauty in destruction. Such a reputation suites me just fine!"
"You should really try to keep your voice down. Do you want the Whismur to rampage?"
I threw myself into Susana, throwing her to the ground as several sparkling ray of light sailed through the air, deflecting against the ground and walls around us at it attempted to strike us. Standing ahead of us was Fonrose and his Grumpig, grinning at us serenely. I wasted no time in hopping back to my feet and releasing my Camerupt just as Grumpig raised its hands again as it continued to hop its strange dance. The "power gem" attack deflected against the walls once more, surrounding us, but they did little damage against Camerupt's high defenses. My Pokemon simply shrugged off the attack as if it were nothing.
"You people really are persistent." I muttered darkly and Fonrose chortled.
"Well excuse us for doing our job." He said as he drew his flute from his belt and began to play it. Upon hearing the musical notes, Grumpig took another stance, clapping its hands together.
"Curse!" I ordered as particles of purple and grey energy materialized around Camerupt. Camerupt shut its eyes and its body shuddered before the energy particles struck Camerupt's body. Fonrose continued to play and Grumpig crouched slightly.
"Camerupt, use rock slide!"
Camerupt slammed its legs onto the ground and the stalagmites hanging above Fonrose and Grumpig fell. Grumpig "bounced" into the air and slammed its feet into the falling spikes, knocking them away to keep Fonrose safe.
"Excellent job." Fonrose said as Grumpig landed beside him once more, getting ready for another attack. "I may not be using verbal commands, but your piece allows you to see what attacks are coming before they happen just by looking at the opponent."
"What 'piece' are you talking about?" I muttered as Camerupt braced itself to counter-attack once more, snorting ash from its nose.
"Never you mind, boy." Fonrose chuckled as he pressed his lips to his flute again. Once he began playing, Grumpig raised its hands and its black pearls shined. It was using psywave.
"Brace yourself, Camerupt." I warned as the beams flew from Grumpig's raised hands, bouncing from the walls to angle themselves toward us.
A floating wall of energy suddenly erected itself before us and the psywave bounced off the surface and shot back toward Grumpig, who quickly hopped into the air to dodge. I blinked at Susana, who had released a Glaceon to use the reflective move. Like her Lilligant, Glaceon was visibly well cared for. But unlike Lilligant, it didn't seem cheerful and happy-go lucky, like her master. Glaceon shot me a cool glare that reminded me of the one Susana had given me when we'd just met. Interesting...
"You're taking way too long." Susana chided as she frowned at me. A few wrinkles formed between her brows from the expression, though I had no idea why she was mad. "We don't have the time to waste with this guy!"
"The cruise boat's pretty slow, we have plenty of time--" I began to explain, but she cut me off, waving her hands in exasperation.
"Not that! I mean Absol! It's going to get too far away at this rate!"
I stared at her for a moment, waiting for her to roll her eyes at me for taking the joke so seriously. She did no such thing. She was still obsessed with that Pokemon? But Susana didn't give me the chance to argue. She turned her glare toward Fonrose, who stared back apathetically.
"Do you plan on letting us go?" Susana asked coldly. "I have business elsewhere."
"Don't be ridiculous." Fonrose didn't seem the least bit amused. "You aren't leaving this tunnel alive."
"Then you'll have to be the first to go. Glaceon, ice beam!"
Grumpig prepared to evade the attack as Glaceon fired a beam of pure frozen energy at him, but the attack simply grazed the ground and walls around him, not making contact. Fonrose chuckled, humor returning to his face once more.
"I guess when someone focuses too much on aesthetics, they grow rusty in battling." He taunted. "Unless your Pokemon is simply blind."
"You're the idiot who's blind." Susana muttered as she brushed a stray her from her face, shooting me a glare. I understood immediately. Impatient as she was, Susana was showing an uncanny amount of sharpness once again.
"Camerupt, use rock slide!"
"How redundant." Fonrose shook his head pitifully as Camerupt slammed its feet on the ground. "Now you're just struggling. You used up your ammo for rock slide with the last attack--"
Fonrose cut off as he looked up to see the falling stalagmites of ice that rained down on him and his Grumpig like deadly spears. Susana had only hit the walls and ground to distract Fonrose from the real target; the ceiling. Since there were no more stalagmites, she simply created more that were sharper and more plentiful. I didn't like having to take such a drastic action, but this guy was trying to kill us.
"There," Susana said as she started forward. "Now the road is clear-"
She suddenly stopped, her eyes widened is sudden surprise as she stared at the area where the stalagmites were. I hurried over to her, worried.
"What's wrong, Susana?" I asked, touching a hand to her shoulder to shake her. She didn't respond whatsoever.
"Yes, Suzy." A coy voice rose from the debris--a female voice. "Why are you suddenly so stiff? Don't tell me that you scared!"
I watched as the ice particles and dust settled to show another figure now standing with Fonrose, who was glaring at us with hate in his eyes. Beside him was a woman with reddish colored hair with two braids hanging beside her ears, wearing a brown woven stole and a single black robe that hung just above her ankles, showing her bare feet. It was strange--she had far more color in her skin than Susana, who was pale as a blanket of snow, and yet when I looked at her, I immediately drew a connection between her and Susana. Clearly they knew each other, but they also looked like they were the reciprocal of one another.
Beside the woman was a Medicham, sitting with its legs crossed on the point of one of the frozen spikes, remaining in meditative form with its eyes closed. I knew that the Medicham had destroyed the lethal spikes before they made contact. Though Medicham usually have thin arms this one had arms that were slightly thicker than typical of the species. I could imagine that its martial arts strength was above that of its brethren.
"Ophelia." Susana greeted with a dangerous smile. "What a pleasant surprise. Why are you here?"
"I'm the Schola's priestess; I'm here to make sure an advisor doesn't die in battle."
"I wasn't going to die!" Fonrose snapped angrily. "They caught me off-guard! Watch now; I'll bury them both six feet under!"
"Don't get so worked up, Fonrose; you'll become sloppy and graceless."
Medicham swiftly swung one blazing fist out and smashed it into the beam of frozen energy that Glaceon fired directly at Ophelia's face. Steam hissed from the contact and Ophelia snickered.
"Angry, are we?"
"You're blocking our path." Susana replied simply as she raised a hand. Glaceon poised itself to pounce as the air around it began to freeze instantly, creating a spreading mist. Camerupt and I prepared to back her up immediately as Grumpig began to dance once more in preperation to attack and Medicham hopped down from the icicle it was meditating on took a martial arts stance.
"Medicham, psycho cut!" Ophelia ordered as Fonrose played angry, sharp tunes on his flute that caused Grumpig to fire another fierce psywave with high intensity.
"Glaceon, mist!" Susana called. The frozen air around Glaceon enveloped us both completely and the psycho cut and psywave passed through harmlessly, missing us. I prepared to call out my next attack, but Susana's hand suddenly clapped around my mouth, preventing me from speaking.
"Stay quiet." She whispered into my ear and I stopped struggling. I listened to muffled movement outside of the mist and heard footsteps pass right by us. After a few moments of silence, Susana released me.
"What just happened?" I asked, confused as Susana stroked Glaceon's head with a grateful smile.
"Since those two were all hyped up to fight, I led them to believe that I was resolved , so they let their guard down a bit. They didn't even realize that my mirror coat was still up."
I stared in surprise as Glaceon's mist dissapated into thin air and I noticed a large clear slab of ice that was erected right before us. It reflected the light strangely, making all sorts of magnifications.
"They thought we had escaped in the mist and went outside to chase down." Susana grinned mischeviously. "I bought us more than enough time to move on and lose them. Good thing too--Absol is getting away."
Susana had never intended to fight from the very beginning; she'd only been plotting to trick them. Was she really that obsessed with the Absol? I felt uncomfortable, complying with such deceitful tactics, but Susana was pulling me along before I could even object. Again, I ask, just who was she?
Outside, the battle had yet to end. Both Roxanne and Quincy were breathing raggedly as they glared across at each other. Their battle had dragged on for a long time, ever since we'd entered the tunnel. Nosepass had yet to be moved an inch, but both Cradily and Breloom were exhausted from effort. Cradily had also yet to move, due to its ingrain, but the technique was no longer as effective as it once had been. Breloom was sweating painfully from the toxic attack that was eating away its health. Originally, Breloom's Toxic Heal ability had allowed Breloom to replenish its health with the poison status, but Roxanne's Cradily had cleverly mixed a gastro acid in the toxic to nullify the ability. Breloom, on the other hand, had continued to batter Cradily mercilessly with its fighting attacks and had spread seeds deep into the ground around them with leech seed to mimic something like ingrain. It wasn't as effective as it would be if it had been used on a pokemon, but it helped Breloom hold on long enough to chip away Cradily's health. By this point, both Pokemon were struggling. Neither trainer had expected the battle to last this long, expecting a quicker victory. Switching Pokemon would have made it quicker, perhaps, but thanks to ingrain and block, and their pride, it wasn't really a plausible strategy. Both were unsure of how to clinch their victory now--it was down to which Pokemon could survive with a sliver of health when the other fell.
The sound of Fonrose's exasperated screech echoed from the tunnel entrance and both glanced breifly to see Fonrose and another girl emerge, looking irate. At the same time, Cradily collapsed a moment before Breloom fell as well, unable to battle any longer.
"This is my victory." Quincy grinned in satisfaction as he returned his Breloom to its pokeball. "Though you didn't do half bad."
"I'm afraid I can't agree." Roxanne flipped her hair defiantly as she returned Cradily. "My Nosepass's block is still in effect. And from the looks of it, Zane and his friend got away, just as I intended."
"That's on Fonrose. In our one on one battle, Cradily fell first."
"Are you dense? Since when did standard rules apply?"
"A gym leader should stick to the uniform under any circumstance--if you're really a competent gym leader."
The two glared at each other, sparks flying, prepared to argue until they both dropped as well. It was the shrill voice of the woman with Fonrose that broke it up.
"Quincy! We're leaving now!"
Quincy sighed in reluctance. "We'll settle this another time, gym leader."
"I'm looking forward to it, Schola."
Controversial and upsetting endings to the battles, the true face of the Schola begins to reveal itself, along with the strange priestess! Next time, more light is shed upon things as Solana and Francois investigate Mt. Chimney, where another gym leader will assist the main protagonists! Gotta love those canon characters
"Well, my shoes are officially ruined." I sighed as I glanced down at them, now blackened by soot. The three of us were trudging through the knee deep mess, slowly making our way uphill along the Jagged Pass. Flannery took the lead, easily navigating through the 'black snow' without any problems. Her shirt was already black, and she wore jeans, so of course none of this bothered her. Solana didn't seem worried about her clothes in particular, but she did constantly brush the falling ash off of her bonnet regularly.
"Atchoo!" She sniffed as she rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. "Ugh, this stuff is clogging up my nose."
"You get used to it after a while." Flannery assured and I nodded in agreement. "Just be sure not to inhale too much of it at once."
"You two are both fire type gym leaders, right?" Solana asked as she indicated us with one finger. "Why did you also ask Francois to come here all the way from Kanto?"
"Because of what happened to his home, Cinnabar, a long time ago. He's experienced first hand how dangerous volcanic activity can be. I was hoping that he might be able to help with what's going on. Lately, the Pokemon on this path have become scarce. The ones we've seen have all gotten sick for some reason, and we can't seem to figure out what exactly is wrong, no matter what we do."
"An unknown illness?" Solana frowned in thought. Just then, the ground beneath us began to shake, throwing us off balance as low rumbling sound echoed from below us. It sounded as if the heart of the volcano itself was angry, for some reason. The quake was apparently strong enough to loosen a boulder further up the slope we were on, as a large rounded boulder began to tumble toward, picking up speed toward Solona, who'd tripped in surprise.
"Arcanine!" I called as my Pokemon manifested from one of the pokeballs around my neck and charged forward. Arcanine carefully bit its teeth into Solana's jacket and quickly dragged her out of the way of the boulder as it went rolling past, shattered as it slammed into a jagged rock we'd passed.
"That's sort of thing is fairly common recently." Flannery informed us as she sighed in relief, seeing that Solana was alright. I motioned to her to climb onto Arcanine's back so he could carry her up the rest of the way. "The volcano itself seems to be having problems. Something similar happened years ago, back when the legendary Groudon had awakened."
"Do you think that it might have awakened again?" I asked as I gave up trying to make Solana comply. She stubbornly refused, wanting to continue climbing with us. I held a hand out to her to help her up the slope nevertheless and kept Arcanine out of its pokeball in case another emergency appeared.
"I doubt it." Flannery sighed. "There would be a lot more earthquakes in places aside from Mt. Chimney as well if it had. But I don't really have any other leads to go on, so..."
"Hmm." Was all I could say in response. I didn't know what to make of it either. I noticed Arcanine sniffing around curiously, but when I raised a questioning eyebrow, he simply shrugged, apparently not sure of what it was trying to sniff out.
"Watch out!" I heard Solana cry out suddenly and I whirled around just in time to see three figures fly at me suddenly, slamming into my chest and gut. The force of the attacks threw me onto my back roughly and Arcanine immediately hurried to stand between me and the attackers, arching its back angrily. The three figures were quickly bouncing around on the rocks in front of, using the move "bounce".
"What are those things?" I muttered as I sat up. Flannery released her Torkoal from its pokeball as she stood beside me.
"I don't know." She admitted. "Do you think there is an enemy who's causing all of this?"
"One way to find out. Arcanine, iron tail!"
Arcanine charged forward with intense speed, shooting toward the bouncing Pokemon as Torkoal spewed flames right behind him. With the flames limiting the attackers' movements, Arcanine was able to swipe its claws at them and knock them back with ease, stopping their bouncing. But as Arcanine moved in to deal the fainting blow, Solana suddenly threw herself in front of Arcanine and my Pokemon stopped immediately, digging its paws into the ash below to kill his momentum.
"Stop it!" She cried angrily. "You're hurting them!"
"What are you talking about?" I demanded. "They attacked us first!"
"They must have been startled by the earthquake like we were! Don't attack them anymore!"
It was then that I finally looked to see what Pokemon had been attacking us, and I was surprised to see that it was three injured Spoink. They had obvious unjuries sustained by Arcanine and Torkoal's flames, but there were also older wounds on them as well, probably caused by falling debris. And above all, the did look sick. Very sick. I was impressed that Solana had been able to spot that while they were moving around so quickly. But because of these injuries, the three Spoink were hostile, glaring at us with hurt pride apparent in their eyes. So I was annoyed when Solana hurried over to them.
"Wait!" I said as I started forward, but Solana knelt beside one of them and picked it up in her arms. The Spoink glared at her for a moment and began to use an extrasensory attack, but before it could unleash the attack, its hostile expression faded and instantly became more relaxed. I came to a stop and stared in surprise as the Spoink's wounds faded quickly and soon a rejuvinated Spoink was hopping around happily. Solana quickly moved on to the next two, and the same strange phenomenon happened, leaving three Spoink nearly healed from their external wounds. However, all three were clearly still suffering from an illness, but were no longer in pain.
"How did you do that?" Flannery asked in awe as Solana walked over to us with the three Spoink following right behind her, cuddling by her legs gratefully. Their attitudes sure changed fast. "How did you heal them like that?"
"It's a special ability I was born with." Solana shifted uncomfortably as a shyness crept onto her face. "When I touch a Pokemon or person, I can sort of feed my own energy into them and heal most wounds. At the same time, I can glean their thoughts and memories, so I try to avoid using it too much, since it invades privacy..."
Solana kept her eyes trained on the ground for a long moment before glancing up at me, seeing my frown.
"You think I'm a freak." She didn't ask, she was sure I thought so. I shook my head.
"I admit, it's weird. But it suites you. You said you can see their thoughts and memories, right?"
She nodded, looking directly at the two of us as her timidness vanished. It was only the topic that bothered her, huh?
"These three Spoink are the only ones left on the mountain down. All the others have fled because the environment is...changing. They're not sure why it is, but they've been scared lately. They didn't want to leave their home behind, but once they saw it would only get worse, they were too sick to leave on their own."
"The environment?" Flannery repeated. "Ash in, the mountain itself? So it's not just a sickness, but they're getting sick because everything around them is different?"
"I think so. Like I said, they're not sure of things."
"Then we'll just have to investigate a bit more." I decided with finality. "I say we go to the top of Mt. Chimney and see what we can find. Something about all of this just doesn't sit right with me."
The two nodded in agreement and we continued scaling the mountain. Solana, of course, took the three Spoink along with her. I didn't doubt that they would follow her anyways. As the last three Pokemon on the volcano, I'd imagine that they were pretty lonely.
As we neared the top of the volcano, Arcanine became more and more agitated. Soon, he was sticking his nose into the sooth and breathing in deep, closing his eyes in concentration, then sticking its head up as it inhaled the air. It even sniffed the three Spoink several times, annoying them.
"Alright, seriously. What's up?" I asked, now exasperated as Arcanine came up to me and started sniffing. "Did you suddenly get a fetish for sniffing people?"
Arcanine whimpered as it shook its head, sniffing at the air once more. Solana and Flannery watched as it made a frustrated grunt and stuck its nose in the soot below once more.
"Maybe it's trying to remember something." Flannery suggested. "It might be smelling something familiar."
"Neither me nor Arcanine have been here before." I assured.
"Let me see." Solana knelt in front of Arcanine and touch one hand to his head. Both shut their eyes in concentration.
"He seems to find the soot here to be vaguely familiar..." Solana murmured after a moment. "It's an old memory that he's nearly forgotten. Have you ever been to another volcano before?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "Some years ago, before Cinnabar kind of, you know, exploded. He was a Growlithe then, though."
Arcanine suddenly jumped up and barked excitedly, nodding vigorously. Apparently, I'd been right on the money.
"So you're smelling Cinnabar's soot?" I was clearly confused. "But this isn't Cinnabar. Why would you be smelling that here?"
"Because time and space have been warped."
"Hmm, really?" I blinked, then looked up to see who had spoken. Two figures stood at the top of Mt. Chimney, which we had only been a few paces from. One was a man in a black trench coat with a black fedora worn over his head. He had pale skin and black hair that was long enough to be drawn into a single ponytail that laid between his shoulder blades. Beside him, an Armaldo stood, smirking down at us. The other figure was wearing a black hood that hid his face and the rest of his body. His Rhyperior stood right beside him, looking quite intimidating.
"Who are you?" Flannery demanded, looking surprised. "And how did you get up here? The lift has been shut down until further notice!"
"We are the Schola." The hooded man replied simply. "We are the loyal worshippers of Arceus and the guardians of the reality he sought to protect. The strange phenomenon you are investigating is the warping of time and space. Cinnabar Island's civilization was once annihilated by an eruption from the volcano there. That volcano is now dormant and is in a far away region. However, thanks to the warping of time and space, the climate Cinnabar once had is now present here, causing abnormalities and the deteriation of nature."
"Warping of time and space..." Solana repeated. "But...that's just like the stories I heard in Sinnoh! Why is it being warped here?"
"Because." The man poined slowly toward Solana, then me. "You are here."
"You're telling us we're the cause of all of this?" I snorted. "That's a lot of bull you're trying to feed, 'Schola'."
"You don't need to believe us." The man with the ponytail said rudely as he stepped forward. "Fact is, because of you two, this world--this reality--is in danger."
"And why is it our fault?"
The hooded figure stepped forward and pushed his hood back, revealing his locks of spiky blonde hair and luminous blue eyes. He looked down at us with an apathetic expression.
"If you are left alone, the "Guardian of Time" and "Regulator of Space" will return and destroy this world in favor of another, once freed from their prisons in the depths of their banishment. I understand that you two are ignorant. I, Xansa, leader of the Schola, personally apologize to you in advance. Rock slide."
Both Rhyperior and Armaldo slammed their feet on the ground and numerous boulders began to tumble toward us with dangerous velocity. I considered dodging out of the way with Arcanine, but with Solana and the three Spoink weight us down, I wasn't sure we'd be quick enough.
Torkoal spewed a powerful wall of pure heat from its mouth that formed a thick barrier between us and the falling boulders, allowing them to pass around us harmlessly.
"I don't get what they're talking about, but it looks like they intend to get rid of you guys." Flannery looked me in the eyes, as if trying to see what I was thinking. "Are you okay with me helping?"
"Go ahead." I shrugged. "Just leave one for me to strangle some information out of. Arcanine, iron tail!"
I hopped onto Arcanine's back as we charged through the wall of heat almost completely unharmed and hopped up the slope, jumping into the air. I gripped onto Arcanine's main as he spun in midair and swung its tail down fiercely toward the composed Xansa. Armaldo quickly shot forward and intercepted with a metal claw and sparks flew through the air from the collision. Arcanine skidded back as he landed on the ground once more. The man with the ponytail smirked at me as the Armaldo stepped in front of him, claws at the ready.
"I am Kinsley, an advisor to Sir Xansa." The man introduced himself without much civility in his voice. "And the last person you'll be seeing today."
"I'm Francois, gym leader of Cinnabar Gym." I couldn't help but chuckle. "And if you think one guy alone can take me down, you've got another thing coming. Thunder fang!"
Arcanine charged forward and ducked underneath the initial swung from Armaldo's claws, and quickly dug its claws into the ground to push itself out of the way to evade the second swing. This Armaldo was quicker than it looked. But my Arcanine was ultimately faster. After evading several more strikes, Arcanine rushed in on a small opening, smashing its large paws against Armaldo's body and pushing the fossil pokemon to the ground. Arcanine dug its fangs into Armaldo's body as they crackled with electricty, scoring a direct hit that shocked the Pokemon badly. But Arcanine's teeth themselves found no purchase on Armaldo's thick Battle Armor. Armaldo's claw came flying up and slugged Arcanine across the face, throwing him back and nearly tossing me to the ground as a result.
"That's one sturdy Pokemon you've got." I praised with a grin. "It's not half bad."
"Thanks, though your Arcanine's not too shabby either." Kinsley passed his thin tongue over his lips hungrily as a dangerous look sparked in his eye. "Armaldo, finish that thing with stone edge!"
"We're going in for the kill this time, Arcanine. Flare blitz!"
Flames spread across Arcanine's whole body as he charged forward and I gripped his fur even more tightly. Despite the heat, I was nearly unaffected by the flames myself. We charged through the flying shards of sharp stones that rained on us, and I ignore the feeling of them grazing my flesh, cutting through my clothes, as we rammed straight into the Pokemon, throwing it back against Kinsley. I was slightly dissapointed, however, as the Pokemon stood back up off of its master.
"Still not down, huh? I guess we'll just have to hit you again."
"Actually, this battle's over." Kinsley smirked as he pointed to my right. I looked and my eyes widened as a fearful shock went through me. Flannery was lying across her defeated Torkoal, completely unconscious among several shattered boulders. Solana was standing in front of the three Spoink with her arms held out protectively, showing no signs of hesitation before the Rhyperior looming over her.
"Arcanine, extreme speed!" I ordered frantically. Arcanine charged to the right at top speed, just in time to ram into the "Rock Wrecker" attack Rhyperior fired, deflecting its path. I hopped to the ground as Arcanine suddenly gave in under my weight, the damage from intercepting the attack having injured his left thigh badly. Nevertheless, Arcanine forced himself to continue standing as he stood beside me, glaring at the Rhyperior and Xansa, who eyed me silently.
"It's futile." He warned. "You may have more Pokemon to fight, but it's useless if the trainer himself collapses first."
"I don't really care." I shot back angrily. "As if I'll let you attack this girl. She didn't even fight back, did she?"
"That was her choice. I already told you what our intentions are."
"Really? Cause it seems pretty stupid to me. How do you know it is us who are causing this space/time distortion, or whatever? What if you're wrong?"
"Still trying to find a way to argue--?" Kinsley began, but Xansa raised a hand to cut him off. Xansa continued to watch me curiously.
"I suppose you should know this much. The reason we know it is you is due to simple observation. We know that you two aren't normal. Why is that? Because you hold the pieces of our savior, Arceus."
"What?" I asked blankly.
"Surely you've at least heard the legend? Arceus shattered to pieces after stopping Palkia and Dialga's feud, banishing them to the deepest trenches of the rifts within this world, shackled to the duties of guarding time and regulating space. 'Shattered', not 'vanished'. Meaning, his pieces can be salvaged. Those pieces are you."
"That's insane! How on earth could a piece of the so-called, 'Perfect Being' be inside me?!"
"It all begins with a prophecy. A foretelling of a specific five who will cause planetary paralysis."
"And what if you're prediction is wrong?"
"It is no ordinary prediction. Someone from where the world has been paralyzed has told us this herself. If nothing is done, the world will end."
"From where the world is paralyzed...you mean the future?! That's impossible!"
"Is it? Take the girl behind you for example. The ability to communicate and heal Pokemon with her bare hands...is that normal to you? A piece of Arceus gave her that talent, a talent that transcends human restraints. You have an ability of your own."
"And what is that?"
Kinsley grinned. "Remember when we fought a few moments ago? You stood by your Pokemon the whole time without even thinking about the pain. You withstood each of my attacks, putting yourself in danger. Well, let's see just how reckless you are. If you dodge this, the girl being you will die. Armald, hyper beam."
I stepped directly in front of Solana and spread my arms around without hesitation as the beam of energy sailed toward me.
"Francois!!!!" Solana cried in terror as the attack hit its mark perfectly, slamming into my chest. Even Arcanine barked angrily as I stumbled, but I didn't fall. My shirt had been completely blown off and my chest was bleeding badly, but I was still breathing. I'd hardly even felt the attack.
"Immense durability and sturdiness." Kinsley nodded. "Just as she said. I wonder just how many of these you can handle? Armaldo, hyper beam."
I didn't move an inch, ready to take the next attack, but a barrier of energy erected itself right before me, stopping the "hyper beam" cold. Solana was holding her bonnet in her hand, touching a pokeball on it, having released the Audino that now stood beside me, holding up the protective barrier, "protect".
"Stop this, Kinsley." Xansa said sharply as Kinsley prepared to have his Armaldo attack until the protect collapsed. "We did not come to make them suffer. There is no need to finish them now anyways--I have already dealt with the Elite Four."
"Even so, I don't feel the need to let them live." Anger flashed in Kinsley's eyes as he glared directly at me. "They could still prove to be a problem."
"We're leaving, Kinsley. We have a duty to fulfill at Mt. Pyre. If it goes well, there will not have been a reason to finish them."
Kinsley continued to stare at me with sadistic longing, but it eventually subsided into a reluctant nod. Kinsley raised another pokeball up as Armaldo and Rhyperior were returned and an Aerodactyl appeared for them to stand on before flying up into the soot filled skies.
"Wait!" I yelled as I stumbled forward. For some reason, my body wouldn't move as I wanted it too. Solana grabbed me before I could get too far, pulling me to the ground.
"You're too hurt!" She told me firmly as she sat beside me. Her Audino was standing beside my Arcanine, using heal pulse. "If you try to follow them now, you'll die!"
"If it was a fair fight, I would've won." I growled angrily as Solana quickly assessed my wounds. "How is Flannery?"
"She's fine. She was knocked out my a rock blast to the head. I don't think Xansa intended to kill her as well. The Schola tend to follow their own rules pretty well."
"You know about them?"
"I've heard about them once or twice. They have a church in Hearthome City in Sinnoh. But...this Arceus thing is new to me. Did you..."
I shook my head. "This is my first time hearing about it too. But it won't be the last."
"Why is that?"
"I'm going to go to Mt. Pyre and find out just what the heck is going on, that's why."
"It's been a while since you've come to restock on berries." The Berry master commented as the two of us strode through the plentiful garden. On Route 123, east of Mauville, my old master lived in his cottage with his wife. Their garden had just about every berry planted and growing imaginable. The Berry master had lost what little hair he'd had left since I'd last seen him and he'd found som more wrinkles, but he still managed to keep up with my stride quite easily, barely making use of the cane in his hand. He was picking berries left and right along me, easily using his sharp eye to pick out the ones that were ready and tossing them back toward Snorlax, who lumbed behind us, stuffing its face with loads of edible berries. My master's wife sat on Snorlax's shoulder, holding a basket full of berries for Snorlax, making sure he didn't accidently eat any of the ones we tossed back. The ones we picked went straight under Snorlax's fur--the perfect storage area since my own bag wasn't big enough to carry them all. Snorlax's capacity to hide berries in his fur was something he'd learned from when he was a Munchlax some time ago.
"I'm sorry for not visiting more often." I apologized absently. "I rarely get the chance to come by here with any free time. Honestly, I have somewhere to be even now."
"You'd think you'd work less, since the Elite Four's only required duty is during the Pokemon League once a year." My master chuckled. "But you're actively working as a mythologicial researcher. You've always been so independent and over-engrossed."
"Speaking of myths...master, have you ever heard of the Schola?"
"Ah yes, that group of people who worship that legend about the parrellel world, yes? It's been a long time since I've heard about it."
"Exactly that one. For some reason, I was attacked by the Schola just yesterday."
"A member of the Schola attacked you?" My master blinked in surprise as we came to an abrupt stop. I turned to face him and he eyed me carefully, taking in my expression. "You're not just exaggerating this time, are you?"
"I wish I was, but once I got the chance to think, it all came back to me. That cloak, that voice, even the battling style. He kept his face hidden, but I've encountered Xansa once in the past, though briefly. His mastery in rock types is relative to his personality; solid, unrelenting, impossible to be swayed. I'm not yet sure as to why he attacked me, but I'm confident that there is a good reason for it. He's not the type to attack people simply on malicious intent."
"And you? What do you intend to do? Considering you came to collect all these berries, you must plan on having a grand old picnic to celebrate the good times before surrendering your life, eh?"
"Hardly." I laughed. The old man knew me well. I'm sure that there is a way to settle things without pointlessly sacrificing a life. I won't do something stupid like self-sacrifice--that only looks good in the movies and books."
"Your strong will reminds me of those two you used to travel with." The Berry master sighed proudly. "It seems like only yesterday that Wattson introduced me to a sharp-tongued adoloscent who lacked manners of any kind, in need of discipline and knowledge of the under-appreciated art of berry cultivation. And now you're older! Brings tears to my eyes..."
"Hey now, don't go all sentimental on me." I warned. "I don't want to have to give you an awkward hug."
"Don't be ridiculous!" The Berry master smacked my knee sharply with his cane as he frowned. "It was a figure of speech! As if I'd cry over you! Honestly, I'm never this worked up until you come by. No wonder I never missed you."
"Wow, mean." I chuckled as the Berry master grinned at me. "Looks like I managed to teach you something after all."
"I have some special berries that I can lend to you, if you like." My master said after a moment as we continued gathering berries. "You turned them down last time, but I'm sure you'll find use for them now somehow."
"Go ahead." I said, not paying much attention anymore. I was vaguely aware of the Berry master being picked up by Snorlax and yelling, "Onward!" as they lumbered away, back toward the cabin. I stared at a Pomeg berry for a long moment before a smiling face appeared through the leaves.
"Something still bothers you, huh?" Phoebe asked as I ignored her, taking a bite out of the berry.
"Something isn't adding up." I murmured. "You heard Xansa, didn't you? Based on what he said, he wasn't acting completely on his own will. He was at least using information given to him by someone else. But the closest contact I've ever had with the Schola in person before today was years ago. Xansa is the very top of the Schola. He has the strongest faith and would die for the sake of Arceus. But because of this, he tries to kill me? That's the complete opposite from what I anyone would expect. I would assume his source of information is the cause of this, but I can't imagine who that would be. The only people who could influence his actions that I know of would be his four advisors, but they're the same. Why would they want to have me killed?"
Phoebe stared at me blankly for a long minute.
"Zephyr..." She began slowly. "What are you talking about? Arceus? What does that have to do with you being attacked? And what advisors?"
I sighed. I'd forgotten that I hadn't said a word to Phoebe about anything yet. I'd been so absorbed in my thoughts that I'd just assumed she was as informed as me by accident. Phoebe frowned as she stepped out of the bushes.
"Just how much am I missing, Zephyr?" She prodded. "Do you know something?"
"I know a lot, Phoebe." I muttered. "Too much, but not enough."
She continued to frown at me but let it go rather quickly, simply shrugging.
"I guess I expected this. You tend to be one step ahead of things, so I'm not mad. That's why we're heading to Mt. Pyre, right? I sensed somethign wrong in my home and you somehow drew a connection to the most spiritual place and Hoenn and being attacked by Xansa. That's why we headed east instead of going north after Xansa."
I nodded. Phoebe had the rare talent to communicate with Pokemon--but it was only the ghost type, which she specialized in. She had an empathic connection to Mt. Pyre, the graveyard of Hoenn and resting place of the red and blue orbs. When she began to feel uneasy and told me that she felt that something bad was going to happen at Mt. Pyre, my suspicions were only further aroused. But I still hoped I was wrong. I couldn't believe that it could happen in Hoenn, but if there was even a chance...
"Zephyr, I'm going to go on ahead, if you don't mind."
I blinked at Phoebe in surprise as she said this. "Actually I do mind. If there is danger over their, I'm not fool enough to let you go alone. Just wait until those two return and I'll-"
"Nope. Too long. I'm worried about my grandmother, Zephyr. I've been part of the Elite Four longer than you. I'll be fine until you come, okay?"
Before I could refuse her again, she released her Dusclops from its pokeball and the two melted into the shadows. I considered pursuing, but it wasn't worth it. She was right on one point--she was part of the Elite Four too. I didn't have to worry so much.
It wasn't much longer until the Berry master returned with the berries he wanted to give me. The five berries were special berries that his wife cared for herself and only gave to those she favored, such as another discipile who had wanted to use berries for the sake of contests, unlike me. Honestly, these berries were useless to me as they were, so I'd refused them last time. But I wasn't like I was then, so I gratefully took them and hid them in Snorlax's fur before returning the Pokemon to its pokeball. The Berry master and his wife came along as we headed uphill, deciding to remain with me until we reached the water to go to Mt. Pyre. I didn't mind--gave me something to talk to. The two of them hiked upward quite easily with my master's wife's Shuckle using its tentacle-like arms to climb. We'd nearly reached our destination when our path was blocked by several people in black cloaks. It took me one moment to recognize the strange horse hanging from the rosary around their necks.
"Geez, their quick." I muttered miserably as a salvo of attacks from Pokeball flew toward us. The attacks were deflected as Shuckle quickly erected a protective barrier with "Protect", surrounding the three of us completely. I swung my yoyo out and my Linoone appeared on the ground just behind the barrier, glaring at the attackers. Several Octillery, it seemed, and Makuhita. The enemy didn't seem particularly strong (like Xansa) but dear god, there was a lot of them.
"You didn't happen to see a dark skinned girl in a sarong pass by here, did you?" I asked calmly as the attacks ceased and Shuckle dropped the "protect". No reply; they only advanced closer.
"These are the Schola, eh?" My master asked as he released his Donphan, getting ready to fight.
"Hold on, master." I said quickly before he could attack. "Could you please stand back? I want to get this done with quickly, so you can just head back to your cottage."
"Oho, you mean you're going to take this seriously? I wouldn't want to get in your way then! Come, dear, let's leave Zephyr to play."
"Do be careful." The Berry master's wife said gently as she sat behind her husband on Donphan's back. "And don't forget the Custap Berry--it could save your life!"
I waved toward them as they headed down hill and out of sight. Once they were gone, I took a few berries from my pocket and tossed them into the air. Linoone jumped up and caught them in its mouth easily, and his cheeks bulged as he stored them in the pouches for later use. Linoone stood on its hind legs and bared its claws as he prepared to fight. The Makuhita stepped in front of the Octillery at the order of the Schola, letting the ranged attackers prepare and aim as the close ranged attackers got ready to charge.
"Let's see if you guys will be enough for me to vent my frustration out on. If not, you're only a waste of my time."
Things come to light as the fighting ensues! What does Zephyr know that others do not? Do his answers truly await at Mt. Pyre? What is up with these grunts despite what Mr. Briney said? Next time, Zephyr vs. Jasmine!
"Linoone, they're using formation to try and box you in." I warned as Linoone quickly came to a stop and narrowly dodged as several Makuhita smashed their fists into the spot he'd been a moment before with "rock smash". "Instead of evading, use fury swipes to break their tempo."
Linoone shot toward the Makuhita abruptly, swiftly making the smallest of shifts in movement in order to dodge the bullet seeds flying at him from the Octillery in the background. The Makuhita attempted to rush Linoone at once and use "rock smash" again, but Linoone hopped lightly into the air and used their great bodies as a spring board, jumping over their punches easily. Linoone whirled around in midair, and the moment he touched the ground, he shot forward on his hindlegs, his claws a whirl of motion as he slashed at the Makuhita, dealing heavy blows. The injured Makuhita quickly retreated away from Linoone and another wall of them stepped forward. Using a vanguard to gauge Linoone's speed and strength before sending in the stronger group, eh?
"Belly drum." I ordered. Linoone drummed its forelegs on its stomach in a rhythmic motion, converting his health to physical prowess all at once. The Makuhita did the same, drumming their bellies with the same manuever, every one of them.
"It's like these guys have a counter for every one of my actions." I murmured, becoming irritated. "But they're still slower. Linoone, snipe them with pin missile."
Linoone's fur bristled as he finished restoring his health with the sitrus berries in his mouth and began to fire hairs like arrows from his tail, right toward the Makuhita. The Makuhita quickly sidestepped away and made room for the wall of Octillery, who fired a mass of "bullet seeds" to knock away the "pin missiles". Linoone and I promptly moved as the "bullet seeds" overwhelmed Linoone's attack and nearly hit us.
"Obnoxious...really obnoxious. If there's weren't so many of them..." I sighed, knowing that complaining accomplished nothing. They were here to fight, not battle. The semantics made a big difference. "Guess we'll have to really take the offensive. Linoone--extreme speed!"
Linoone didn't hesitate when I told him to use our special reserve move. We didn't like to show off such a unique attack for a Linoone, but now was hardly the time to make that a priority. Linoone rushed forward with me running directly behind him and plowed right through the force of Makuhita, chomping down on chople berry after chople berry every time one was lucky enough to land a strike before being knocked aside by Linoone's incredible velocity. Linoone knocked aside several Octillery as well, though they tried to get out of the way, and several of the Schola trainers, until we were on the complete other side. Linoone's "extreme speed" managed to tear a big whole the enemies' line of defense--in our wake, to be exact--but it didn't last long. All the ones who'd taken the heavy damage quickly retreated and had their place taken by a fresh batch of opponents, completely healthy. Linoone was going to seriously tire out at this rate--and exhaust his supply of chople and sitrus berries en route.
My yoyo came spinning back into my hand, which caught the attention of several of the Schola members. They knew that my six pokeballs, as well as any others that I carried with me, were built into this single yoyo. They were wondering what trick I pulled, no doubt.
"If you won't fight me with even numbers," I said calmly as I tossed my yoyo down once and caught it back in my hand. "Then I won't bother being fair either. Spinda, psybeam!"
Too late, the Schola noticed my Spinda standing among legion of Makuhita, mimicking their movements like the clown it is. Spinda fired beams of psychic energy from its hands, blasting all the Makuhita away at once with devestating damage. Linoone charged forward as the chaos ensued, slashing at the Octiller with "fury swipes" before they could barrage Spinda with long ranged attacks. Already, they were trying to switch out the weakened Pokemon with the healthy. I had to act fast.
"Spinda, teeter dance!"
Spinda was special--she was a normal type who could make use of both psychic and dark techniques. "Teeter dance" was a confusing move that utilized Spinda's powers of hypnosis to perform a mesmerizing dance to engross all who look at her and confuse them. Thanks to Linoone's persim berry, he was unnaffected, but the Schola didn't have anything to combat the attack. So can you imagine my surprise when they remained unnaffected completely? I doubt it--I completely expected that.
"Stay strong, you two." I said as the Makuhita rushed forward with their "arm thrust" attacks and pressured my Pokemon back. "We need to endure their numbers, so we can't give in yet."
The problem was, their numbers had no end. Even if we knocked them all out at once, they had back ups to send in. Meanwhile, they healed the injured in the back, too far for us to reach with the enemy facing us blocking the path. Just like Xansa, they'd come prepared with a highly effecient plan. It must have been the work of the Schola's tactical advisor, no doubt. But for these people to execute it so perfectly...
I was beginning to plan out my next move in my head when Linoone sniffed at the air and glanced behind me. He shot me a look that told me to turn around before he focused back on dodging the flying "bullet seeds". I turned and raised my eyebrows as I saw a petite figure in black robes standing some yards away. This person resembled Xansa, with the black robe and hood over their head, but was much smaller in comparison.
"So the ringmaster of this freakshow finally shows." I grinned slightly. "Linoone, I need you to handle yourself for a while on your own. Spinda, may you come with me?"
Linoone nodded back to me with a grin. He knew I was abandoning to handle the 'impossible odds' situation alone. If it was one thing normal types--no, my normal types--could do, it's stall using unorthodox tactics. Spinda didn't contest as I asked her to come over. She began to run over with her stubby little legs, tripped, and cartwheeled the rest of the way. I strode toward the cloaked figure, tossing my yoyo up and down a few times. The whirring sound it made was calming to me, due to nastolgia. The figure pulled their hood down as I approached, showing bubblegum color hair and luminous pink eyes as she stared at me.
"You're quite good." She commented politely as she watched me play absently with my yoyo.
"Thank you." I replied with a smile. "You're...Jasmine, correct? I don't know if there are any other females in the Schola's advisors."
"You're right. I'm the only one--and the youngest. You are Zephyr of the Elite Four, correct?"
"Even if I said no, would you believe me?" I sighed. She shook her head.
"Your yoyo was a dead give away."
"Point taken. Well, I'll get right to the point, then. Send out your Pokemon; I'm going to put an end to this endless fight."
Jasmine ignored me, tilting her head to the side to look around me to watch the fighting briefly.
"You're letting it fight alone?"
"Linoone was and is my first and most reliable partner." I said firmly. "Worry about yourself. Spinda, psybeam."
Spinda's attack was shredded instantly by an overwhelming invisible force that caused Spinda to whimper in surprise. I frowned at the water directly behind Jasmine. A low cliff cut off just a few feet behind her and the expanse of the sea was clearly visible. The foggy sillhouette of a large mountain was visible in the distance. My destination, Mt. Pyre. But a large tentacle of water blocked my view of it and I blinked as I watched the large figure extend out of the sea and curl through air, just above Jasmine, like a tube. In it, a Gorebyss was swimming gracefully back and forth. Hmm...pink hair, pink Pokemon. I was beginning to see a resemblence.
"Aqua ring...?" I murmured curiously as I watched the curling tube of water twine through the air, almost independantly.
"Close." Jasmine nodded. "Gorebyss has unique psychic powers, despite not being psychic--just like your Spinda. She's using it to create this lovely display. Pretty, isn't it?"
"I'm sorry, but I'm not fond of flamboyant things. Spinda, psycho cut!"
Spinda did a front flip and launched herself into the air, directly to the portion of the tube where Gorebyss was swimming at that moment. Spinda slashed her stubby, fingerless hand through the water that barely reached its target, but the water temporarily shimmered and splashed, as if Spinda had cut through it with an invisible cut. The attack, however, missed completely as Gorebyss easily swam out of the way.
"Swift Swim allows Gorebyss to move twice as quick in the water." Jasmine informed me calmly. "Your Spinda will have a hard time catching her."
Strange. That honest way of explaining how she had the upperhand without meaning to insult the person...it reminded me of someone. Sort of like me, but I tease. She had little to no expression, for some reason. A pokerface, maybe?
The sound of the fighting behind me echoed in my ears and I remembered that Linoone wouldn't last forever. We didn't have time to think things through and observe the opponent. Especially with Phoebe now so far ahead of us...
Possibly sensing my impatience, Spinda hopped into the air and used psycho cut once more. Jasmine kept her eyes on me as Gorebyss glided through the larg tube of water, evading each of Spinda's fiercely repeated psycho cuts. I glanced up at Gorebyss' fish face and looked back at Jasmine's. No expression whatsoever. I couldn't tell what she was thinking. Honestly, a little arrogance would have been nice. This was just...creepy. Then I thought, the way she had her hair pulled into a ponytal, like the fin over Gorebyss' head, the color...she was clearly imitating Gorebyss' appearance. Was she mimicking Gorebyss' expression as well? Wait, but that meant...dear god, this girl was making fun of me!
"Stalling is unsportsmanlike." I sighed, trying to contain my laughter. Honestly, it frustrated me a little, but I felt the urge to laugh nonetheless. This girl was quite unique, to say the least. "Instead of waiting for your cronies to help you out, why not fight me with your own strength?'
"I am fighting with my own strength." She assured me, and I sighed again. "If I beat you with my strategy, there is no difference."
"There is a difference. In the interest of personal pride--"
"What use do I have for personal pride?" Jasmine cocked her head curiously. Religion is meant to refute those sort of things."
"Hmm." Though I would love to argue with her or a normal occassion, I didn't have the time now. One glance toward Spinda told me she was ready. All that moving had given Spinda to accurate guage Gorebyss' speed and reflex, and to crush a berry I'd given her and wipe it over her hands and feet. We couldn't keep up with Gorebyss speed even with a berry to increase our velocity, but there was another, better way. This berry was meant to be used defensively, nullifying super-effective psychic attacks. But thanks to the way it had been grown, it was strong enough to be used offensively as well. Spinda jumped into the air and backflipped in midair, kicking at the Gorebyss once more. Gorebyss dodged it easily, speeding to the left, and the slash cut harmlessly through the water. All the floating water in the air on the right side of the attack lost its ability to fly and drenched Jasmine, who blinked in surprise. Spinda spun in the air with its arms and legs spread-eagle and she cut through the water on the left side of Gorebyss, forcing the Pokemon to move to the right. The water on the left fell and soaked the ground as well, trapping Gorebyss in a short cylinder of suspended water now.
"How did you--" Jasmine exclaimed, an actual expression of shock breaking through her stoic and childish face before she sniffed at the air with a frown. "A Payapa berry?"
"Didn't Xansa tell you about my prowess with berries?" I asked in mock surprise. "I am the 'Hyper Deductive Berry Expert', Zephyr Rainsville of the Elite Four. Being so near to my master's home, it would be a shame if I didn't perform some impossible feat with his fantastic berries."
I grinned, proud with how grand that sounded. That was how you sound arrogant and awesome all at once. Now I could only hope that this girl could grow an ego from the seeds I was planting. Though it would probably take a while, as she wasn't even fazed by my words.
"Usually people just turn berries into pokeblocks of poffins." She informed me.
"Shut up." I grumbled. Jerk. "You know what I meant. Spinda, skill swap!"
I tossed my yoyo out in Gorebyss direction for effect and Spinda did the exact same movement, only without a yoyo. Gorebyss squirmed as it attempted to do the same movement, failing as it had no limbs. Aesthetics aside, I was happy (and relieved) when Spinda pointed her hands toward the Schola members behind us and the fighting ceased immediately. Both the Pokemon and the trainers took a step back and ceased moving entirely. Linoone immediately collapsed, exhausted form all the battling. I spun my yoyo in his direction and returned him to give him a rest. Jasmine stared at me with unfathomable eyes.
"You're a liar." She told me bluntly. "You said you don't like flamboyant things, but just now you used your zeal and essentricity to distract me and somehow outwit me."
"It was not flamboyance!" I spoke over her as I folded my arms over my chest. "It was class! I do things as I like to do them. I don't care if I'm essentric or subtle while I'm doing it, so long as I don't get killed because of it."
"How did you figure it out?"
"I had a guess earlier on, but your hint gave it away. Those guys were clearly acting under a collective conscious when fighting. That was why they could pull off that strategy so flawlessly. Spinda was meant to test to see if that guess was right, and I was. I couldn't put them under a hypnosis because they were already under one. I didn't think it was Gorebyss at first, but than I wondered what it would mean if another Pokemon capable of controlling minds used its hypnosis on those guys and transferred control over to you with skill swap. 'I am fighting with my own strength'. In other words, you had control of their actions. So I used Spinda to commandeer that control with her own skill swap after restricting Gorebyss' movements."
"You're everything she said you would be, and more." Jasmine smiled faintly. "Your hyper-deductive talent is just as dangerous as the others."
"My talent...as in my piece of Arceus?"
A slow smile spread across Jasmine's face as she drew a Pokeball out and returned Gorebyss into it. The water floating in the air fell to the ground with nothing to support it.
"Exactly. How much do you know?"
"The story says it all. Or so I thought. I'm still not certain as to why you want to do away me with, or the others. But now I'm conserned about this 'she'. Why does 'she' know so much about me? Aren't you the only female advisor in the Schola?"
Jasmine simply continued to grin as she turned her back to me, striding to stand directly by the water.
"Whoa, shameless much." I murmured as Jasmine pulled her black robe off over her head and held it draped over one arm. Her body was completely exposed, save for the essential areas that were covered by a pink bikini. I now saw that she had a big purple bead that held her hair together instead of a hairtie, which really resembled Gorebyss. She really had a child-like physique--it would be a serious let down for a curious person.
"A few months ago," Jasmine told me without turning. "A woman who claimed to know everythign approached the Schola, claiming to be from the future. She told us about her ability, the Dimensional Scream, and about how five people in our time would cause planetary paralysis if nothing was done. Three decades from last week, the whole world will cease to rotate. The sun will not rise, the wind will not blow. Warmth will be forgotten and the cold with be our eternal companion. All of mankind will be unable to survive in the harsh climate and be wiped off the face of the earth, save for the few who natural selection work in favor of. In other words, this world will become the desolate land the Distortion World is now. I can tell by looking at you, Zephyr Rainsville; you aren't the type who'd be interested in a literary device like meaningless 'self-sacrifice'. But what if your sacrifice wasn't meaningless?"
Without waiting for a reply, Jasmine hopped into the water, dissapearing beneath the waves. I tossed my yoyo out angrily, letting it spin up and down with a furious whirring sound. Just when I'd though I was figuring things out, something like 'planetary paralysis' was thrown at me? The sad thing was, it made perfect sense. The research I'd been doing in Sinnoh had pointed toward the same result. All the signs were there--distortions were appearing. This world would die, just like the Distortion World had before this world even existed. That put me back at square one, with the same questions. Was it our fault? Me and the five others--were we really the cause of it all? If so, then the Schola would indeed have a reason to attack us after all. At the same time, however, it made no sense. No sense at all...
"Agh!" I roared angrily as I caught my yoyo back in my hand. "Spinda, send those Schola guys back to my master's home and release their hypnosis. When you get back, we're going straight to Mt. Pyre."
Spinda nodded to me as she began waddling downhill. The Schola followed after her, mimicking her strange movements. Now that was a freakshow. But refreshing all the same. Good thing I could find some humor after all of this. A priestess of the future...no amount of hyper-deduction would help with something like that.
"Don't do anything stupid, Phoebe." I muttered darkly as I stared at the looming figure of Mt. Pyre. "We may be in over our heads with this one."
Dun-dun-duuuun! Answers are given, questions are raised! Next time, we head north to see the progress of the first two toward Mt. Pyre! Will they be as epic as Zephyr? Probably not! But they should come close! Some of you may hard-core Pokemon fans may recognize the references to my favorite spin-off game. Don't mind them--it makes the plot easier to understand using those references. It'll have a completely different plot developement, I assure you.
"Koffing, use sludge!"
"Kirlia, double team!"
Kirlia raised his arms over his head acrobatically as he suddenly split into several twirling figures as the wave of poison approached. The attack washed over several of the fakes, leaving the true Kirlia completely unaffected as he danced through the rain fluidly, almost as if he enjoyed the weather like this.
Kirlia hopped forward suddenly, closing the distance between him and the Koffing with a single leap as his eyes glowed with energy. Koffing reeled back as the invisible force hit it, sending the poison gas Pokémon into a nearby puddle, severely injured.
"That’s a quick Kirlia." My opponent, Riley, said as he held his Pokéball out and returned Koffing into it. "Though it seems a little reckless to let a long distant psychic type get so close when attacking."
"It’s my Kirlia’s nature." I shrugged as Kirlia spun to a stop before me, curtseying politely. "His attacks are stronger up close."
"I see…" Riley narrowed his eyes slightly as he drew his next Pokéball. "Then let’s see how good it’s footwork is. Ninjask, go!"
A Ninjask appeared from Riley’s Pokéball and shot forward quickly, swinging its claws quickly at Kirlia. Kirlia spun and twirled quickly to evade, backing up all the while. This dance did not last long, though. Ninjask soon gained the upperhand, slashing one claw out and striking Kirlia on the chin, leaving a sizeable scratch. Kirlia skidded through the water as she ceased twirling, touching the scratch with one hand and wincing. The rare few moments Kirlia was as fast as Ninjask were over now, thanks to Speed Boost. Time to recycle a tactic.
Kirlia multiplied into several forms of itself as he touched his hands gently together in front of him in a ballerina pose. Ninjask glanced around frantically at the surrounding figures, unsure of which to attack. Riley frowned as he looked around critically before pressing two fingers to his temple and shutting his eyes.
"Ninjask," He ordered. "Use mind reader!"
Ninjask stopped looking around for a brief moment and remained hovering in one spot before suddenly vanishing and reappearing directly in front of a single Kirlia abruptly, claws out to attack. Kirlia cringed in surprise at first, but used the back step to quickly make a back bend, evading the "fury cutter" with perfect timing and luck.
"Confusion!" I ordered, clenching my hands in anticipation. That was the exact moment I was waiting for. Kirlia kicked out one leg while remaining in her back bend as Ninjask attempted to use its speed to get out of the way. But it was already too close; Kirlia’s glowing leg knocked into Ninjask’s side, slamming psychic energy into the bug Pokémon and throwing it back. Despite being fast, Ninjask were quite fragile. That single hit knocked it out completely. Riley stared in awe for a long moment before groaning.
"I lost!" He looked up to the dark, stormy skies in exasperation. "Master will kill me!"
"Great job, Kirlia!" I praised my Pokémon as she twirled over to me happily. I knelt in the mud and I patted the center of her head, careful not to accidently hit either of her horns by accident. "It was dangerous at the end, but we pulled through!"
"Kirrrlia!" Kirlia rolled her tongue on the ‘r’ whenever she was proud of herself. She continued to spin absently as I stood up, knocking away the crust of mud on the knees of my jeans. God, these things were filthy. I hadn’t had the chance to properly wash my clothes in days. The rain was only going to serve to make it smell worse, no doubt. Route 120 was notorious for its chronically stormy weather.
I looked down at Riley as he bowed low to me, hands at his side before straightening again. He was quite shorter than me; several inches, really. He was just a kid, but an excellent battler. He wore a black jumpsuit and had his red hair cut low, like a buzz cut. I’d met quite a few ninjas in Hoenn back when I’d first traveled through here, but it was always surprising when I ran into them to see how disciplined and polite they were, especially to their elders. Not that I’m old, of course.
"Thank you for the battle." Riley said gratefully. "It’s was a good experience to have such an unorthodox opponent. I’ve never met a Kirlia like yours."
"He’s a little young but on his way to be an excellent battler." I grinned at the twirling Kirlia, who had his eyes shut. Kirlia smiled nonetheless, singing her name under her breath rhythmically.
"Here is the prize we agreed on." Riley held up a Pokéball to me and placed it in my hand. "I have to say, though, it’s rare that someone specifically asks for something like that rather than money. I had just caught while I was training…"
"I know, I saw. But something like this is a rare find. I couldn’t help it when I saw it. By the way, I have a small request for some information about another rare Pokémon. Have you seen an Absol around here, by chance?"
"An ‘Absol’?" Riley looked at me uncomprehendingly. "What’s that?"
"A four legged Pokémon, about this tall…" I raised my hand in the rain to indicate the height. "Had bleach white fur and a black horn sticking from the side of its head…probably send shivers down your back on sight?"
"Oh! You mean that thing! Yes, I’d something like that run past here about half an hour before you arrived, running at high speeds. My eyes barely grazed it, and yet I got a sense of foreboding…"
Looks like I’d asked the right guy. Ninjas typically trained to hone their senses, so he’d be able to recognize my description of Absol no matter how short the encounter. I didn’t know if the was the same Absol we’d seen before in Rusturf Tunnel, but I doubted that it would matter, so long as that girl got what she wanted.
"Thanks for your help." I told Riley before turning and heading through the rain. Kirlia followed after me, still completely unfazed by the weather.
"Be wary of that creature!" Riley called after me. "My master told me that it heralds great disaster and chaos; you may want to evade something of that terrible reputation!"
I raised a hand to acknowledge his words without turning. I’d said the same thing, but apparently this fact only encouraged the little lady.
"That took you a while." The aforementioned girl said as I approached. She stood waiting with an umbrella over her head, shielding her pretty black hair from the falling precipitation. Beside her, a sleek red/black bike stood on its kick stand with waterproof pain keeping it from rusting. "You’ve been accepting challenges for battles ever since Mauville—are you sure that Absol hasn’t shaken us?"
"He’s a half-hour’s ride away at most." I assured her as I took a Pokéball from my wristband and returned Kirlia into it. "Trust me; I’ve been tracking Pokémon for a while."
"A half hour?" Susana raised an eyebrow before holding out her hand. I held out the Pokéball I’d received from Riley and she gently touched her fingers to it. She stared at it for a long minute before blinking again and retracting her hand.
"Looks like you’re right." She conceded as she placed herself on the seat on my bike right above the back wheel. Ever since we managed to cross the water route between Mauville and route 118, we’d rode this bike I’d bought with the remains of my money up to Foretree and now back down in pursuit of Absol. Luckily, it was headed in the direction of Lilycove, our main destination, so we weren’t really going out of our way. "What Pokémon did you get that you wanted so much?"
"The perfect Pokémon to help you catch that Absol." I grinned as I held the Pokéball up and kicked up the kick stand. A Scyther appeared from the Pokéball, regarding me with a slightly irked expression, though not necessarily hostile. "We’ve got some tall grass that the bike can’t really go through ahead, so this fella’s going to help mow it down. Scyther, cut!"
The Scyther shot me an exasperated look before turning and holding its scythes out, then charging forward through the curtain of rain. I pedaled after him, shooting through several puddles as we approached the tall grass that nearly reached our necks. It looked impossibly thick—normally, a bike would have to navigate its way around it. But thanks to Scyther, the grass was reduced to small blades of grass instantly as the Pokémon swung low, slashing and hacking, mowing a path for us to follow. Scyther was so quick; I didn’t have to worry about overtaking him or running him over by accident. Behind me, Susana was gripping her sunhat tightly to make sure it didn’t fall off, the other hand busy keeping the umbrella over her to keep everything aside from the fringes of her dress from getting wet.
Throughout our journey, Susana and me had really ‘bonded’, per se. I’d been taking challenges all throughout our traveling, partly to train Kirlia (which had been a baby Ralts at first), but mostly to gain money. Once we reached Foretree, the city in the trees, I’d used the prize money to buy Susana her umbrella for the rain and food, since she was strongly opposed to eating food raw and struggled to eat anything for a while. I guess I couldn’t blame her—she threw up on her first attempt. The rest of the money had been used to buy a sufficient amount of Pokéballs to catch Absol. Sadly, she hadn’t had any before and forgot to mention it until we had left Mauville, so even if we somehow managed to catch up with Absol earlier, it wouldn’t have made a difference. And in return for all my efforts, Susana told me about her strange ability; the dimensional scream.
"Phew!" I sighed as Scyther slashed through the last bit of tall grass and we hopped over a ledge onto flat ground. I skidded to a stop and glanced up at the dispersing rain clouds. We’d gotten out of the danger zone, it seemed. We were by an expansive lake that was very familiar to me. Across it, up the mountain, was a cave I’d once explored on request from the Pokémon Association. Supposedly, one of the three legendary golems used to sleep there. Now, however, as far as I knew, it was empty. I attempted to spot the entrance to the cave from my position, but it was difficult to see from my perspective. Rather than finding any signs of the cave, I spotted Absol instead, standing regally on the mountain side, staring in our direction.
"Susana, it seems like we’ve finally found it."
"I told you," Susana sighed as she slipped off of the back seat and released her Lilligant from its Pokéball. The Pokémon danced around happily, apparently enjoying the sunlight. I suppose that it had no idea it had been dreary and storming moments before. "Call me Suzy. It sounds weird when you keep calling me ‘Susana’."
"Right, right, whatever you say." I shrugged indifferently. I didn’t care what she wanted me to call her, honestly. "Just remember what I told you—don’t let your guard down. You can’t injure it too severely when trying to catch it, nor can you be too gentle and let it get away."
"I know." Susan—I mean, Suzy—smiled back at me. "I also have to be careful where I aim the Pokéball when I throw them. Its horn is its most dangerous feature, able to split a Pokéball in half. But at the same time, that single bare area on its forehead is the vital spot where I have the best chance of success."
I just nodded. I’d lectured her about my pain encounter with an Absol some time ago as I attempted to capture it some years ago. Dark types were reputedly vindictive and even ruthless. While that was mostly a stereotype, it wasn’t as if they had no base.
"Take Scyther with you." I told her. "It has an attack called "false swipe" that will make it easier for you to weaken Absol."
"Thanks." She grinned at me once more as Scyther grudgingly walked over to her, attempting to ignore the sweet look she gave him. I knew Scyther was a guy since it had a small abdomen, which may actually have made it easier for him to move so swiftly when mowing the high grass. With its combination of bug attacks and false swipe, I knew he was the best choice to catch the dark type Absol. Finding one in Hoenn was an incredible find, hands down. I’d never seen one in here before, so I knew I had to get it, even if I had to battle for it.
The same species of Pokémon from different regions could look quite different from others, due to natural selection. Often, it was just different colors, but it could even be minor differences in anatomy. That was what I’d seen through my job, anyways. This Scyther seemed far more agile and swift than the ones in Kanto, Johto, or Sinnoh. But that wasn’t all. As they approached Absol, both Lilligant and Suzy trembled a little under the force of his glare, I myself could feel the familiar pull of gravity that made my arms and legs feel like lead. Absol’s ability, Pressure, put strain on those nearby and forced them to make a bigger effort when attacking. Scyther, though, simply glared back at Absol defiantly. Such a powerful will couldn’t have been normal.
"Hello, my dear Absol." Suzy smiled gently toward the disaster Pokémon, apparently shrugging off the Pressure with her own willpower, though I saw a bead of sweat roll down her neck. "All along the way here, I’ve heard stories about how you bring disasters to mankind and how you were shunned. Such a reputation is a mere testament to your true magnificence! With me, your true beauty will flourish to levels beyond that of any other!"
Absol narrowed its eyes slightly at Suzy as it listened to her monologue that sort of surprised me as well before swinging its head around, whipping up winds with its ominous looking horn. Absol shot into the air, leaping over Suzy gracefully before landing on the bridge, between the two of us. I reflexively reached a hand to my Pokéballs on my wrist as Absol glanced at me, but the Pokémon simply turned away to face Suzy. He was acknowledging her challenge and indicating that I was not to get involved. Not that I intended to anyways.
"Lilligant, quiver dance! Scyther, use your fury cutter!" Suzy ordered, holding out her hands in a dramatic gesture all the while. Scyther shot forward as Lilligant danced behind him swiftly, wiggling her leafy arms as if to mimic waves. Absol swung its head fiercely and a slash of pure cutting wind flew toward Scyther, who raised its scythes up and charged right through it without a second thought. Absol shot forward to intercept, slashing its horn to intercept Scyther’s "fury cutter" attack at close hand. Their fighting was mostly even—though Scyther was faster, Absol’s attacks were dangerously fiercer. As Absol lashed out with its claws, Scyther was forced to hop back to avoid being struck. At the same time, Lilligant danced gracefully behind Absol as a tornado of leaves swirled around her and enveloped Absol, tossing him high into the air. It was an excellent executed "leaf storm" that took advantage of Lilligant’s heightened speed.
"Scyther, your false swipe!" Suzy called as she held out a Pokéball—a quick ball. I’d even gone as far as to teach her how to properly utilize the individual Pokéballs I’d bought for her. It looked like she was intending to make this quick. She took a deep breath as Scyther slashed through the leaves, opening a wide path directly to Absol and threw the quick ball with perfect timing to hit right after Scyther’s attack connected.
But Absol was a step ahead. Using the whirling winds from "leaf storm", it managed to fire a powerful "razor wind" attack, slashing straight down on Scyther, knocking the Pokémon back down toward the ground. He attack also split the Pokéball in half before it could reach Absol, who landed gracefully on the ground before charging toward Lilligant. Lilligant quickly took evasive action to avoid the swipes from Absol claws, sustaining a single cut on her side as she quickly retreated to Scyther’s side. Absol tossed its head arrogantly as he prowled toward the two Pokémon, charging up another "razor wind". I was beginning to worry that this was a little too tough for Suzy. We’d planned out a strategy ahead of time, but she wasn’t used to predicting the opponent’s moves on short term. Adapting to the situation when facing a Pokémon like Absol was key, after all.
So I was surprised as Suzy suddenly smirked.
"You truly are the Pokémon I want." She murmured calmly. "This is checkmate. Lilligant!"
Vines and roots suddenly shot out from below Absol, which immediately attempted to evade. Scyther shot forward suddenly and lashed out with its scythes, using "false swipe" and knocking Absol to the side. The vines wrapped around Absol’s legs firmly, disabling its ability to move and throwing it to the ground. She’d managed to have Lilligant hide a "leech seed" under the ground in order to catch Absol off guard. An excellent strategy, one I hadn’t seen coming. Suzy’s friend ball connected right with Absol’s forehead and fell to the ground, shaking a few times before becoming motionless.
"Well, Zane," She smiled brightly at me as she picked up the Pokéball. Scyther returned to my side, snorting as if the effort he’d put in was nothing. "I guess I should be thanking you first."
"No problem—it was fun." I shrugged, though Suzy was already releasing Absol from the Pokéball and hugging it tightly, burying her arms in its fur. Absol didn’t seem to mind the sudden display of affection—it already seemed quite fond of its new master. "So, now that this is done, we’re moving on, right?"
"Yep." Suzy grinned as she returned her Lilligant to its Pokéball and I returned Scyther to its Pokéball as well. Suzy sat on Absol’s back as a mount this time so I could ride my back without the extra weight quite easily.
"You know," Suzy began as she stroked Absol’s white fur gently. "I think that this guy was heading there as well all this time—sort of leading us as an envoy of nature."
"How do you know? Your ability?"
She shook her head. "No. Just a feeling. Absol are the disaster Pokémon, but they only predict them. In a way, it’s just like me. This is nature that is at stake, after all."
"Hmm." I replied simply as I touched the brakes slightly, slowing my race downhill as we came quickly onto a port. East of here, Lilycove waited. But our new destination was beyond the waves here, looming in the fog in the distance. Several rocks made a scattered trail toward it in an ominous way. I swear that I could see small will-o-the-wisps hanging over the rocks sitting closer to the mountain. Considering it was a cemetery and home to a high concentration of ghost types, it was hardly a surprise. Nevertheless, it still gave me the creeps. But according to Suzy, we needed to head there. By this point, I trusted her opinion. If she was right about the natural phenomenon plaguing Hoenn lately, then there was no doubt that she was right about coming here, to Mt. Pyre.
I summoned Aggron from his Pokéball and folded my bike up, fitting it in my bag as I hopped onto his back. With a large splash, he entered the water and began to swim across it with higher speeds than his body weight hinted toward. Absol, with Suzy on its back, hopped easily on the highly spread rocks over the water. As we slowly approached, I felt a strange sense of foreboding, along with the same feeling of nostalgia I got from seeing Scyther. Hopefully, we’d be able to put all these questions to rest, finally…
[The base of Mt. Pyre, 7:00 a.m., the Day of Summoning]
Within Mt. Pyre’s rocky interior, five figures in robes were waiting with their Pokémon, and air of impatience hanging over them, making the still air feel thin and stale. At the sound of movement, the five turned their attention to a petite girl heading toward them through the shadows, pulling a black robe down over her head to drape over her thin, wet body.
"It’s about time, Jasmine!" Quincy barked as he adjusted his visor to fit better over his eyes in order to hide the relief that crossed his face for the briefest of moments. "We were prepared to move on without you!"
"Sorry for the wait." Jasmine apologized as she stretched her arms out over her head with a small moan. "I got held up. Those Schola grunts won’t be showing up, I’m afraid."
"And why is that?" Fonrose frowned in discontent as he eyed Jasmine suspiciously. "You didn’t leave them behind, did you?"
"Yep. That Elite Four member managed to find a way to release their hypnosis. Don’t blame me; your Grumpig’s technique was weaker than his Spinda’s, Fonrose."
Fonrose glared at Jasmine angrily and opened his mouth to speak, but Kinsley spoke before him, a grim expression crossing his face.
"That’s impossible." He said firmly. "Sir Xansa had killed him off a long time ago, right milord?"
Xansa had his back to the others, staring at the dark tunnels ahead without a word, showing no interest in answering Kinsley’s question. His eyes were shadowed as if he were in deep thought, though he didn’t share his concerns with the others if that was so. His companions eyed his back for a long moment quietly before anyone spoke.
"Well, no matter how he survived, it is of no matter." The red haired Ophelia said firmly as she grinned slyly. "All five of them are approaching, as I had predicted. If we do exactly as instructed, they won’t serve much of a problem. The Day of Summoning is finally here—we won’t allow anyone to stop us."
"Then let’s greet our guests, shall we?" Fonrose said serenely as he fingered his flute impatiently. "I’m sure we all have debts to repay to those five."
"This is not about revenge, Fonrose." Xansa muttered harshly, surprising the other five. He began to stride toward one of the tunnels that sloped upwards, his hands clenched at his sides. No one could ever seem so composed and yet so stressed at the same time. "Perform your duty without sin within your heart, or you will fail. Have faith in each other—there is no turning back at this point. Pour your every effort into making sure our effort comes out with success."
"Yes sir." The four advisors bowed their heads as Ophelia continued to grin before they turned to head down their respective tunnels, either walking quickly with anticipation or slowly with anxiety. Their mission as Schola was coming to its climax—they could not afford to hesitate any longer.
[Solana: West exterior of Mt. Pyre, 7:25]
Tropius whined worriedly as I hiked up the mountain side with my bare hands, wincing as the rocks chafed my skin. I wished I had worn pants instead of these shorts. It was much colder here than I had thought possible in such a tropical region. But I could deal with the cold, even the freezing updrafts. Tropius whined nonetheless, probably preferring that I simply ride on his back to the peak. But I couldn’t do that—the winds were strong. Even like this, Tropius was struggling to keep aloft at the same speed that I climbed, which was rather slowly. If I were on his back, I’d be plunging to the sea and starting from square one all over again.
Francois had been flying with me on his Charizard’s back all the way from Mt. Pyre. I was worried about his wounds, since they were so severe that they wouldn’t heal for another day, even with my powers. But he didn’t show any signs of pain or the slightest of soreness the entire flight, which was pretty strange to me. The moment the ground beneath us had turned to sea water, Francois had ordered his Charizard to fly ahead, shooting right through the hanging fog and disappearing completely. Charizard was, no doubt, a much stronger flier than my Tropius, so I guess they didn’t have the same problems as me. The howling winds made it sound like the mountain itself was wailing at me, and I winced as another updraft blew up and made my fingers even more numb as I gripped a rock for leverage. This mountain gave off a strange sensation, as if it were somehow suffering. I wanted to press my hands to it and heal it, but, of course, it wasn’t a sentient creature.
I blinked in surprise as the sound floated along the wind, sending a shiver up my back. Had it been the wind?
"Did you hear that?" I asked Tropius, who looked at me blankly. Had I just imagined it? I must have been getting sick from the weather.
That time I was sure I heard it. Even Tropius looked startled. I quickly looked around until my eyes zeroed in on a figure lying sprawled out on the ground, fidgeting slightly. Was that…a Chimecho?
I gritted my teeth as I began to scale the wall to the right carefully, making my way closer, placing myself above the isolated ledge that the Pokémon was lying on. I took a deep breath and, ignoring the wail of Tropius all the while, I jumped.
"Oof!" I gasped as I rolled several times in order to break my fall as I landed. It shook me up a bit, but sadly, I’d jumped further distances before. I barely took the time to look at my own scrapes that I’d sustained from the fall before hurrying over to the injured Chimecho, aware of Tropius descending and landing on the ledge behind me.
"Chime…" The Chimecho murmured as I picked it up into my hands and looked it over swiftly. There were no physical injuries, but I was able to recognize the afflicting illness quite easily. It was the same as the Spoink from Mt. Chimney, only to a much lesser extent. I began to feed my energy into the Chimecho and instantly felt a surge of gratitude and relief greet me in the form of empathic emotion. I was surprised as my own scrapes began to close as well. The Chimecho smiled at me tiredly as I stared at it in wonder. It had begun using heal pulse on me as soon as I did the same to it, even though I was in far better shape than the Pokémon.
"Oh, dearie…" I murmured as I pulled the Chimecho up to my face and cuddled it softly. "You’re so kind-hearted! Tropius, if you would?"
Tropius leaned its head down and I picked one of the fruits hanging from its neck and held it up gently to Chimecho’s mouth. The Pokémon bit into it slowly at first and its pace began to quicken as its energy was suddenly revitalized. Soon, the Pokémon was floating in the air once more, still a little fatigued, but in much better shape.
"Chime, Chime, Chime-echo!" The Chimecho rang with joy and I giggled. I knew she (after connecting with her mind, I could tell her gender with ease) was thanking me for helping her.
"You’re the one who healed my scrapes even though you didn’t need to." I said softly as I petted the Pokémon’s head. "Thank you, sweetie. But what on earth could have done this to you? Has Mt. Pyre’s climate changed as well?"
"No. This is on a much deeper level, I’m afraid."
I yelped in surprise as several Gravelers and Geodudes suddenly rolled down the hill onto the ledge or climbed up from below, surrounding us completely. I grabbed Chimecho in my arms instinctively as I backed toward the center of the ledge along with Tropius, who lowered his head low and grimaced, tensed protectively around us.
"Xansa!" I gasped as I spotted the man standing on a small ledge just a few yards higher than us to the right, standing with his arms folded behind his back as he stared at the sea melancholically. He turned his attention to me as I called his name and I saw the same fathomless eyes I’d seen back at Mt. Chimney. Why did this man hurt so much? It made me want to hug him. I would have, too; if only these smirking boulders and rocks weren’t in the way.
"You should have remained at Mt. Chimney, girl."
[Francois: Mt. Chimney, just below the summit 7:30]
"Agh." I gritted my teeth as I shielded my eyes against the winds. Ever since reaching a certain point, Charizard had been able to advance any further by air. No matter how we tried, we didn’t seem to be able to break the barrier of wind that was surrounding the summit. We’d been forced to descend and land on a path leading up to the summit and I returned Charizard to his Pokéball, since the winds were too strong for his wings. It was creepy, but I could have sworn that the grass a certain distance from me wasn’t thrashing nearly as much as the grass near me. It was as if the winds were after every living thing here, trying to throw them off. I’d seen several wild Pokémon clinging for their lives before spiraling off the side of the mountain, too far away for me to be of much help, which was definitely irritating. It was difficult to forcibly walk up to the shrine waiting at the summit, but I was determined to do so. I had begun there on whim at first, but once these winds tried to keep me away, I knew it was where I had to go. Something was going on at the summit, I knew it.
My suspicions were only further confirmed as I spotted the small figure in a black cloak standing right in my path. I released my Arcanine immediately as the girl raised Pokéball up and a Porygon appeared. My Arcanine fired a blast of flames that collided with an orb of electricity and I covered my eyes as the winds sent the flames and electricity flying everywhere, nearly making me lose my balance. Another goal appeared before me: one I was set to accomplish. If I wanted answers, the best way was to defeat one of these Schola and ask them myself.
"Arcanine! Flare blitz!"
"Zap cannon, Porygon!"
[Zane: Tunneling underneath Mt. Pyre 7:18]
You could really gain a new appreciation for things when they either convenience or inconvenienced you. As I rode my back down the rocky tunnel at a mid-slow pace, I was pretty appreciative of how tall Aggron was. I barely had to duck my head down in order to keep my hair from scraping against the top of the tunnel he was digging, and that was while I was on my foldable bike. It was as if he had grown to the perfect size just in time for this.
Mt. Pyre was practically the graveyard of Hoenn. All throughout the mountain, whether above or below its surface, there were graves for dead Pokémon. I’d seen them enough times to last me for a while, so I didn’t even bother using the conventional exit like Suzy on her Absol. I’d ordered Aggron to drill right into the side of Mt. Pyre as we approached and start heading downwards. At the peak, there was a shrine to Hoenn’s creatures of legends on the outside among several stone pillars. Just below there, the highest point within the mountain held a chamber filled with the graves of Pokémon who belonged to once legendary and powerful trainers of Hoenn who probably have passed away by now as well. It was arguable whether the highest point outside the mountain with the shrines or inside the mountain with the graves, since there was a noticeable amount of ghost types below the ground whereas the shrine was connected to legendary Pokémon. So logically speaking, the Schola would probably be in one of those two places. I was sure that the other four Suzy spoke of should be heading there as well, including Suzy herself.
Aggron roared victorious as he smashed through the wall, completing his tunnel. We were well below sea level by now, enough that I struggled to breathe a little. It was dark in the cavern we’d found below Mt. Pyre—and cold—but for some reason, there was still enough light to see. For somewhere so far away from the graveyard above, it was far more desolate and empty. Only wet rock was around us in this naturally made area. I had to wonder how many people had ever set foot here before.
I noticed something shoot toward us out of the corner of my eye and I immediately recognized the footwork and angle.
"Aggron!" I said immediately. Aggron stepped in front of me with its arms raised up in a defensive posture as a powerful "dynamic punch" flew from the attacking Breloom’s hand, slamming into Aggron’s thick forearms. A cold sweat rolled down Aggron’s metal neck as the Breloom’s momentum caught up with it and the force it exerted increased. Cracks appeared before Aggron’s feet before he sunk an inch or two through the soft rock, anchoring him in place. A dent appeared in Aggron’s right forearm thanks to Breloom’s unrelenting force. The moment Breloom’s midair stance slackened and the force he was exerting lessened, I made my move.
"Aggron, metal burst!"
The attack came quickly as Breloom landed on the ground and attempted to back away. Its arms flew out quicker than a boxer’s, barely scraping Aggron’s chest as it continued to back away. Aggron glowed with silver light that engulfed Breloom and tossed the mushroom Pokémon back, but the damage was minuscule. Had Aggron reflected the damage from "dynamic punch", the attack would have finished Breloom instantly. However, thanks to "mach punch", he reflected the damage from the fast, but significantly weaker, attack.
I already knew who the tactical genius behind the attack was. Quincy stepped out into view with his arms folded tightly over his chest as he eyed me critically. Breloom raised its arms up to attack as Aggron maintained a battle stance, ready to intercept the next attack. He was breathing heavily and probably was going to have trouble using that right arm.
"Once more; dynamic punch!" Quincy ordered.
"Aggron." I said through gritted teeth. "Iron defense."
Aggron raised its arms up again, this time with its left over its right, and took the punch without moving, partly thanks to the footholds around his feet. Breloom didn’t rush forward from as far away, so had less momentum and power than last time. Even so, the damaging attack power was too much to handle. If Aggron even hesitated for a moment and allowed the shock to get to his head, the confusion would render him helpless in an instant.
"Now Aggron, heavy slam!"
Aggron grabbed Breloom’s small body with its injured right arm and pulled it close so he could grab its body with both arms at once, pinning it completely. With a roar, Aggron hopped out of its footholds and positioned Breloom right below the full force of its weight before smashing flat onto the rock, burying them both, rendering them both incapable to battle at once.
"Guh…" I breathed in relief as my heart rate began to settle. I had taken a serious gamble with that last move. It was good to know I had been right. Breloom had healed its physical wounds, but the fatigue from fighting Roxanne a while ago still linger. There was a rarely a trainer who fought with a serious Roxanne who got away without any lasting wounds. The bottom half of Quincy’s face that I could see showed his impatience and frustration. His lips were contorted in a ‘tch’ position and his gloved fingers were digging into his own arms with a tight grip.
"Not bad." Quincy said after his face relaxed ever so slightly. "Extremely reckless, but not bad. Your survival instinct is unusually sharp."
"Thanks for the praise." I muttered bitterly. Quincy snorted in derision.
"There’s no need for that attitude, boy. It was more of an observation than a compliment anyways."
I was about to reply when a sudden wave of numbing cold passed over me. It wasn’t like the temperature had dropped—no, this was far different. It was more like that moment when you’re completely relaxed, then a devastating fear washes over you, taking away the warmth of relief and replacing it with despair. My eyes focused on the flickering shadows far behind Quincy, dancing against the walls as if a fire were crackling nearby. These shadows were just as ominous and creepy, towering over a redheaded woman her held her arms spread wide.
"Wonderful!" Ophelia’s triumphant voice echoed through the entire cavern. "Magnificent! Be sure to get rid of that idiot, Quincy! I don’t want anyone interfering!"
Quincy simply clicked his tongue impatiently, as if he didn’t like to be given orders by Ophelia. I was too busy gazing at the figure of shadows in awe. I had just realized that technically speaking, there was no real light source. So nothing could have been casting a shadow by blocking the light, as normal. Which meant that these shadows were far from natural. They were alive.
I was caught off guard as a long blade came out of nowhere and pierce my left shoulder. Pain shot through me as I staggered back immediately, and a warm sensation blossomed as the blade was drawn from my flesh. I gripped my injured shoulder and gritted my teeth as a red liquid drooled down my arms to my fingertips before dripping slowly onto the ground.
"You took that rather well." Quincy said indifferently as the Pawniard standing before him held both of its long bladed arms up in my direction. "You didn’t even make a sound."
I slid my hand down from my shoulder and quickly grabbed a Pokéball from my wristband. Scyther appeared just in time to intercept the attacking Pawniard with its own scythes and the two of them immediately began to slash fiercely, their weapons almost a blur. Though I knew that Scyther was inherently fast, I was unsurprised that the untrained Pokémon wasn’t able to out speed a domesticated Pokémon. Scyther’s attacks weren’t really made to counter a steel type either, which gave us the disadvantage when it came to defense. But what I noticed right away was that this Pawniard’s forte was offense.
My newly acquired Scyther was strange due to its smaller abdomen that gave it more movement and freedom. Similarly, this Pawniard was not ‘normal’. Unlike the others I’ve seen, this one had blades that extended out in front of its further than I’ve ever seen. They surpassed the general length of a Pawniard’s arm blades by several inches, I would guess, and they were much, much sharper. I could say that from experience.
"That’s an interesting Scyther you have there." Quincy said calmly as he unfolded his arms and continued to eye me carefully. "Extremely fast and versatile. It acts quite well on its own and its swordsmanship is superb. Were it properly trained, it might actually be a match for my Pawniard. However, aside from being a veteran fighter, my Pawniard comes from a world where his species fight constantly to be superior, or die. In order to survive, they must become strong, be better than the others, and prove their use. This Pawniard surpassed its physical limits throughout a few generations and developed superior swordsmanship, able to defeat any Scyther, Gallade, Farfetch’d or Skarmory. Allow me to show you just how devastating a monster you face. Pawniard…guillotine."
Pawniard raised both of its long piercing blades up as it folded its arms over its chest, as if hugging itself. The blades began to shine with a silver color as the extended nearly half a foot in length, giving an unrealistic reach. Without even giving us a chance to stare in shock, Pawniard shot forward and slashed both of its blades out at Scyther, aiming to pincer its neck. Scyther bent its back completely to evade the merciless strike, narrowly avoiding an instant knock out. Pawniard stepped in immediately and slashed its blades once more in a wide arc. Scyther’s wings fluttered as it hopped back and Pawniard’s blades cleaved through an afterimage of Scyther. Thanks to the wide movement, Scyther saw its chance to strike and charged in immediately.
"No!" I cried immediately, wanting to stop the hotheaded Pokémon. During that last attack, Pawniard’s long reached had let the tips of its blades touch the ground. Instead of sliding against them and creating sparks, the blades went through the wet rock like butter. No matter how fast he was, Scyther couldn’t handle even being within Pawniard’s range without a sure knock out attack of its own.
Sure enough, Scyther’s scythes glanced off of Pawniard’s metal hide as the Pokémon swing its blades in a circle around it, practically splitting the air. The attack connected with Scyther’s abdomen, and it was over immediately.
"Damn it." I bit my own tongue by accident in frustration as Scyther collapsed. I fell to my knees as I gripped my bloody shoulder even tighter, though it wasn’t due to the pain. I was losing blood ever second—I needed to do something about it soon. But my attention wasn’t on the wound. Standing right before me, Pawniard held one blade out, the tip nearly touching my Adam’s apple. Quincy stood beside his Pokémon, close enough that I could see his eyes through the visor. There was no pity or mercy, nor was there any mocking triumph either.
"Quincy, I’m heading to the inner-summit!" Ophelia’s voice rang through the now silence cavern. I could see shadows flowing into the cavern ceiling like water being drained before it vanished from sight. "Follow me once you’re done!"
Quincy didn’t reply as the sound of her footsteps faded as she headed up through the same tunnel they had probably used to come down. I focused my eyes on Quincy’s face once more, staring at his colorless eyes right through the visor. My breathing was ragged, but I wasn’t going to let myself pass out.
"That…" I struggled to keep my voice steady. "That was Giratina, wasn’t it?"
"Indeed it was." Quincy said without any hesitation. "In order to stop the distortions, we need to capture and force the regulator over the other world to erase the irregularities. If we are successful, then killing you people will not be necessary."
"Why Giratina…? Why not…Palkia?"
"Both the guardian of time and regulator of space have been banished to the depths of separate dimensions. We do not have the means to summon them without the red chains, and it would take far too long to mimic Cyrus’ ambitions, especially in another region. But I have a question for you. In this mountain, everyone knows of the graves within it and the shrine atop it. The summit both above and below the ground are the most spiritual places here. With Susana with you, I’m sure you knew that we were going to summon a legendary Pokémon. However, you came straight down here to a place most people don’t even know about. Of any place in Mt. Pyre, this is the most depressing and least likely spot due to its lack of connection to the spiritual world. My question to you is this: why? Why did you come here?"
I trembled as I took a deep breath in order to answer.
"From what Susana told me, it didn’t really sound like you were summoning Giratina. It seemed more like he was already here, attracted by the distortions. But…if he was…why would he be at the summit? He now embodies all the bitterness of the first world that was destroyed. I would imagine that being near spiritual places would pain him. I guessed that Giratina would come to a place where no Pokémon would be, where no people normally ventured to pray to the dead. The opposite of a summit would be the bottom most floor—if not below that."
Quincy sighed in exasperation. "Both the empathic ghost type master and the hyper deductive normal type master failed to realize such a possibility, and yet noticed. I suppose I should praise you. Of the five, you are the most aware of Pokémon natures and idiosyncrasies. It even allows you to guess their movements and attacks before them do them to act accordingly. I hadn’t anticipated it to be on such a large scale, though. As I thought…you people are dangerous."
Without any further wait, Pawniard drew back its blade and raked both of its arms across my chest in an instantaneous movement, and searing pain scorched my body as I collapsed.
[Francois: Mt. Chimney, just below the summit, 8:20, Day of Summoning]
"Wow! You’re getting used to this pretty fast!"
I snorted in derision as a pink figure flashed out of the corner of my eye and flames immediately shot up out of the corner of my eye in time with a signal from my hand. The pink figure came to a screeching halt, unable to advance any closer thank to the heat, and immediately darted around us, looking for an opening. It fired a blast of energy in my direction but I easily hopped out of the way. But rather than stopping there, I immediately whirled around to see the attack I had supposedly dodged shooting toward me. I didn’t move however, once I was facing it, and the attack bent and missed me completely.
"This graveyard has been giving me the creeps ever since I got here." I said as I whirled around again and motioned to Arcanine. The flames scattered in the fierce wind and Arcanine pounced forward, aiming at the petite girl. She darted out of the way just as quickly as the pink figure retreating several feet as a barrage of "zap cannons" rained on Arcanine. Arcanine moved lethargically to the side and ended up quickly evading them all, sliding through the ground to my side once more, crouched against the wind to keep his balance. "At first, I thought it was just your "trick room" that was screwing with us, changing out speeds and messing up out timing. But then I figured that since time and space were supposedly screwed up already, you were probably distorting distance and accuracy too. I’m just lucky that I was right."
"Oh no, it’s not luck." The pink haired girl giggled as her Porygon came to a stop beside her. "A normal person’s body wouldn’t be able to keep up like this. Thanks to the distortions concentrated here, I can have Porygon bend them a bit to our advantage. But you’re close that handicap through sheer willpower and effort alone. Kudos!"
"Enough talk! I want to know what the hell you people are doing here! What are you after?!"
"You’re not very persuasive."
I gritted my teeth in frustration. I didn’t like these indirect combat strategies that she used. It required more thinking than actual battling, which didn’t suit me. I need to find a way to catch that Porygon to stop it from moving. Easier said than done, since it was using ranged moves. When it came to observing the changes around him, Arcanine was best. But I needed to fight distance with distance…
"Alright then, let’s make this quick…" I muttered as I took two Pokéballs off of my neck. I returned Arcanine into one as I tossed the other into the air. My Ninetails appeared on the ground, rolling its neck casually as the air heated up quickly thanks to its Drought ability. "Solar beam!"
Ninetails held the tips of its tails together in front of its snout and green beads of light began to form, condensing rapidly into a single orb of energy before shooting out abruptly as a large beam toward the pink haired girl and her Porygon. They both shot out of the way with incredible speed and the girl landed on a nearby rocky slope as Porygon shot forward, surfing just over the surface of the "solar beam" as it approached.
"Ninetails, will-o-wisp behind you!"
Ninetails pointed its nine tails backwards without turning and immediately fired a barrage of fireballs, ignoring the fact that I was there. Porygon, who had been charging head on just a moment before, was surprised to have been caught while attacking from behind in that instant. It had used sharpen to make its body smoother and increase its potency of piercing with its beak, but the fire balls scattered the Porygon before it could even get close. The attacks singed my clothes slightly but I it was a small sacrifice to burn Porygon. Injured by the status infliction, the moment’s hesitation was all I needed.
"Ninetails," I stared at my Pokémon firmly. "Use Inferno."
Ninetails regarded my close proximity briefly as the pink haired girl gave a short yelp in surprise. Knowing that the look of my face meant that I wasn’t going to change my mind, Ninetails gave a short sigh before spreading its nine tails apart and aiming them in all different directions around her before erupting into flames that began to spin around us quickly, turning into a massive vortex of fire. Thanks to how quickly the air had become dry thanks to Drought, not even the fierce wind could do anything but stoke the flames as the spinning inferno erupted into to the sky, burning a hole straight through the clouds above. The pink haired girl had been lucky enough to be at the edge of the inferno and managed to escape with only her robe in flames. She quickly tossed it away from her and the wind grabbed it and tossed it into the air where it turned to ash almost instantly, leaving the owner with only a few small burns.
"Incredible!" She laughed as I suddenly burst out of the inferno as well and grabbed her by the arm, forcing her to stand. "You took advantage of your innate ability to ignore pain and flawlessly worked with you Pokémon on trust alone to break the handicap! Though crudely, you are probably the strongest battler of the five!"
"You’re going to answer my questions, girlie." I said firmly as I gripped her arm tightly to make sure she couldn’t slip away. Ninetails strode out of the inferno to stand behind me. "I’ve got a ton of them."
"But," She went on, completely ignoring me. "Unlike the other two, you don’t deal with traps well, do you?"
"Wha-" I said in surprise as something darted through the air and Ninetails screeched as several slash marks appeared over her side in an instant. I whirled around to see what it was, but several cut appeared on my back as I did, to my surprise. I tried to turn again to see what it was and barely caught a glimpse of the Pokémon’s golden shell before the ground beneath me began to crack and break away before a pitfall appeared beneath me and I fell through the ground.
"You little-" My angry yell was erased by the wind as Ninetails leapt forward to try and send a tail out for me to grab. Instead, she ended up falling with me and the rubble, to the pink haired girl’s delight. She looked down into the hole to watch as falling into the darkness and waved one hand in farewell. I spotted the golden shell of Ninjask beside her right before she was out of sight and I cursed under my breath. Of course she would have another Pokémon.
[Zephyr: Mt. Pyre Summit, 9:00]
I sighed as I finally stepped into the shrine atop the highest point of Mt. Pyre. After swimming through the water and rushing through the entrance to Mt. Pyre while dealing with ghost Pokémon, I took more time than I had expected. What bothered me, though, was that I didn’t even know how much time I took. I couldn’t have been more than an hour, I thought, but the position of the sun had changed so drastically all of the sudden. It was as if my perception of time was out of sync with reality. Or would it be more proper to say that Mt. Pyre’s time was out of sync with the rest of the world?
On top of that, there were ripping winds all around the exterior of Mt. Pyre that had threatened to throw me off as I hiked up here. I could have sworn that I had heard someone fighting along the way, but I wasn’t able to go check because of how fierce the winds were. The moment I’d set foot between the columns here, however, the shrieking winds had ceased. I couldn’t even hear anything outside, though I saw the grass and trees whipping about wildly. Only a low howling tone, probably courtesy of the hurricane, could be heard throughout the entire shrine. It created an ominous tone. Was this place really the center of the chaos happening on this graveyard?
I didn’t let myself dwell on it too long. I strode forward as I gripped my yoyo in my hand tightly. I hadn’t seen any sign of Phoebe the entire way up, so I could guess that she was here, looking for her grandmother. Phoebe’s grandmother had been sick recently and was one of the three people who guarded the red and blue orb. I wasn’t surprised—just being near those disastrous orbs required a lot of mental strength. Any lapses in focus or emotional spikes could lead to dramatic changes in mood. Touching them could make one go crazy. I don’t even want to tell you what happened to the two men who had wielded the orbs years ago for their ambitions. One thing’s for sure—they were lucky to have kept their lives after that ordeal. So you could imagine why Phoebe was so worried.
While reminiscing about the bad memories this place held, it was then that I saw it.
It was then that I saw the scene that would be forever carved into my soul.
Phoebe’s beloved grandmother was sitting on a mat behind the pedestals, as still as a statue. Her shoulders weren’t moving due to her breathing, nor were her eyes open. I knew immediately that it was too late for her
So I was surprised to see Phoebe smiling.
She stood where she was, as gentle as an angel, looking up with a sad smile at the dark figure looming over her. Red spikes were sticking out of blackness that curled around her as if it were alive, but she ignored them as she showed such a loving and kind face to the creature that glared at her with all the bitterness in its soul. The bitterness was simply ignored and pushed aside by tender love as tender love was swallowed and devoured by bitterness. The result was a silence atmosphere of nothingness.
"Ah," Phoebe’s lips moved marginally as she spoke, her smile widening. "Is that it?"
The shadows clamped onto her body and she collapsed.
I was left staring at the crumpled body of Phoebe, my childhood friend and the person who I cared most for in the entire world.
Deep inside, a feeling that I could not identify began to boil and burn like lava, slowly spreading through a body that was stiff with shock. The normally mellow and levelheaded Zephyr was no longer present. Instead, he was temporarily replaced with a creature of hate and anger. His golden eyes burned with this newfound emotion as he was entirely possessed, his hands gripped so tightly that his fingernails dug into his palm so that they bled.
"I’m going to kill you."
The figure of shadows that was the object this man’s anger shifted its gaze toward him, merely glancing with a single beady red eye. The two stared at one another with absolutely negative emotion for the longest moment in the history of the second world before the creature of shadows opened its golden mandibles and released a screeching bellow that would have shaken the core of any sane man and made them cower from the pain in the undertone.
However, this man had already abandoned all sanity.
Even as several tentacles of black shadows slithered like arrows across the ground toward this man, he swayed to the side and evaded them as the shadows struck out like spikes, attempting to impale the man. This man who lost his sanity acted entirely on instinct. He was not concerned with what was humanly possible, whether he could win or not, or if it was even worth it. All he knew was that he wanted to kill this creature of shadows and took the best actions to do so. Evading these shadows came naturally. Swinging his yoyo out came naturally. Calling out his Zangoose, the only Pokémon on his team that shared this rare moment of fury by instinct, came naturally.
"Night slash!" This man of anger roared as he charged forward along with his Zangoose. The creature of shadows gathered the darkness in its long black wings as it watched the two recklessly approach without any real plan in mind. A wall of pure spikes of shadows flowered forward from the side in a pincer formation with more than enough numbers to lacerate the two completely. The intimidation alone was enough to stop a person in their tracks. But if one did that, they would immediately be run through from all sides. As such, this man of anger did no such thing. Nor did his Pokémon. They simply charged down the shortest path down the middle, ignoring the attacking shadows as they both roared with fury. The creature of shadows could only watch in shock as the man of anger only sustained some injuries over his shoulders, splitting open his skin and shredding his sleeves, but didn’t falter for a moment. Zangoose slashed its claws fiercely as it arrived first and struck the creature of shadows with a powerful strike, and the creature of shadows took a step back with its six legs in surprise. But its shock was not over. The man of anger, who was still bloody and roaring with fury, was still charging forward. What could this human do? Fighting a normal Pokémon would be madness. Fighting a legendary was pure stupidity. And yet this man’s fist was clenched all the same. The creature of shadows instinctively roared once more, and a shockwave shook the shrine, throwing back both the man of anger and his Zangoose. The two shook off the blow and were on their feet in no time, already charging forward. But the creature of shadows was not curious to see what would happen next. It immediately melted into living darkness and dove into the ground, turning into a shadow across the floor. The shadow of the creature of darkness sailed underneath the feet of the attackers, as if swimming through the concrete floor of the shrine, passing by harmlessly. The two attackers whirled around furiously, showing every intention of giving chase.
An Aerodactly shot down out of the air and slammed into Zangoose, throwing the Pokémon back. The man of anger paid no mind, too focused on chasing after the fleeing creature of shadows it had sworn to kill. But before he could get far, he felt powerful feet grip his already bleeding shoulders and lift him into the air.
Aerodactyl took the enraged man and shot into the air, aiming the slam him into a nearby pillar. It was then that sanity abruptly regained control of the man’s mind and I saw what was going on. Pain shot through my entire body and may have paralyzed me if my indignity were not stronger. I threw my yoyo whirring upward so the line would tangle with the base of Aerodactyl’s wings, and we immediately went tumbling down before hitting the pillar. I groaned as I rolled on the floor, making my wounds throb and ache. It took me only a moment to figure out what I had to do as I looked around. I saw one of the Schola (wearing a black trench coat and fedora) standing between me and the direction Giratina had fled in. Aerodactly had already untangled itself from my yoyo, which cam spinning back into my hand perfectly, and Zangoose had rushed over to me in order to fight. If we remained here, there was a chance of winning. But at the same time, it was irrelevant. There was a bigger problem that I had to deal with, and since Giratina was long gone, I couldn’t do anything else at the moment. Though I’d been lost in my anger before, I was now able to think clearly enough to realize that I might not be too late…
"Exploud," I said as I spun my yoyo out and swapped Zangoose out for Exploud. I ignored the throbbing sensation in my shoulders all the while. "Hyper voice!"
Exploud took a deep breath and released a full powered bellow, but I didn’t even stay to watch the damage. I already knew it would probably destroy half the shrine, which would be painful to see, and would probably fail to knock out the Aerodactyl completely. I whirled around and rushed over to Phoebe’s unmoving body and quickly picked her up in my arms. I tossed my yoyo out to return Exploud immediately as I rushed through the pillars of the shrine and into the howling wind once more, sliding down the side of the mountain as I searched for the nearest entrance to go inside of Mt. Pyre once more. All while denying the angry tears that wanted to show themselves. I refused to submit once more to my emotions. Not again; not if I wanted to save Phoebe.
[Solana: West exterior of Mt. Pyre 8:00]
I stood firmly in front of Chimecho with my hands trembling, but not because I was afraid. I just didn’t like being at the center of battling. Blades of grass fiercely blew around us among the storm of water with shot like bullets at the Gravelers and Geodudes around us. They kept their arms linked together firmly to avoid being thrown off as the circled quickly, firing rock blasts at us like machine guns. The rocks were either blasted away by the water bullets or cut apart by the sharp blades of grass. Tropius’ long flexible neck as he quickly covered us with the attacks, not letting a single Geodude or Graveler get by unharmed. Xansa watched the fighting with the same composure he had before, and I couldn’t look him in the eyes. Every time I did, the pain I saw threatened to shatter my resolve. I hated to see anyone in pain for any reason, and he looked as if he were having a war of internal conflict.
"That’s an interesting strategy." Xansa said at last. "Using "natural gift" to use both water and grass attacks, which are both doubly effective against rock and ground types. You shouldn’t be able to carry so many berries on you, but your Tropius has the Harvest ability, doesn’t it?"
"That’s right." I nodded firmly as I plucked up the courage to look in his direction. I needed to put on a brave face, or I wasn’t going to get out of this in one piece. As I spoke, several berries hanging from Tropius’ neck shriveled up like prunes before falling off. They were quickly replaced by perfectly healthy berries of the same exact kind that began to shrivel up as Tropius took their energy to attack. "Tropius eat the same fruit every day and begin to grow them from their neck naturally, but my Tropius eats any and every fruit, so he has the biggest assortment in the world, especially with its Harvest ability to regrow them no matter how many are used up. By using Liechi berries and Nanab berries in quick succession, we can exploit your type disadvantage pretty easily."
Of course, I knew that my strategy wouldn’t work for long. Xansa was clearly a powerful trainer. He would find a way through my strategy sooner or later. I needed to get out of there before he did. I could only hope that my thoughts projected to my Pokémon properly. When I’d landed on the mountain, I’d prepared for the worst by releasing one of my Pokémon into the sea around the mountain just in case we needed to a quick escape. Of course, the dear was quite useful for diversions as well. Xansa was focused on me, Tropius, and probably even Chimecho, so he was probably surprised when I called out at the top of my voice.
There was only a delay of a few seconds before the sound of rushing water could be heard. Xansa looked just in time to throw himself to the ground as a powerful geyser of water shot through the air and smashed into the mountainside, knocking away the Geodudes and Gravelers in the chaotic torrent. For a brief moment, the attacks stopped thanks to the wall of water. From Xansa’s position, he probably though he had to wait until the geyser ceased. However, he didn’t realize just how powerful the attack was. By time the water faded, his three targets were gone, having vanished into the hole in the mountain the geyser had created, forcing a path into the enormous labyrinth of tunnels inside Mt. Pyre.
"And to think," Xansa sighed. "She looked so harmless."
[Mauville, Hoenn 9:00, Day of Summoning]
Roxanne sighed impatiently as the sound of men’s voices echoed throughout Mauville’s gym. It was times like this that made her wonder if this man was Hoenn’s most senior gym leader. Wattson acted like a child so often, Roxanne honestly forgot that he was her senior at times. Of course, it was Roxanne’s choice to come to Mauville seeking help from this very man, so she was beginning to wonder if she herself was the idiot. Roxanne touched her fingers to one temple as she sighed in exasperation, sitting in one of the few chairs in the gym with her legs crossed. The entire gym had several giant lightning rods that created nets of electricity in order to create a maze, but they were shut off since the gym was not currently open. Wattson noticed Roxanne’s sigh and turned to her.
"Whoa, Rocky, that was a pretty ‘smooth’ sigh. You’re normally a lot ‘rougher’ than this."
Roxanne completely ignored his terrible puns. She knew that he was probably trying to energize her a bit on purpose, but she was honestly not in the mood for it.
"Can we please get back to the problem glaring right at us?" Roxanne attempted to bring the tone of urgency back into the gym at last. "We’ve seen people be attacked by hostile trainers mercilessly, and we’ve yet to do anything about it in the long term."
"That’s not all too much of a problem." The third man sitting in the room with them disagreed as he absently batted Donphan’s trunk away as the Pokémon attempted to irritate a Manectric by poking its strange hairdo with its trunk. Sparks ran across Manectric, but Donphan was evidently immune to the irate shocks. "Those who were targeted are no novice trainers—some are pros, even."
"But Flannery seemed quite upset when she called from the hospital." Wattson frowned for a moment in discontent. "She’d actually been knocked out before the fighting was done with. When I’d arrived to aid Zephyr, he was already unconscious. And Roxanne, didn’t you barely manage to keep one of these guys at bay, despite being a gym leader?"
"Well, yes." Roxanne frowned as cupped her chin between her thumb and forefinger as she wrinkled her eyebrows together. "They are pretty strong. But that’s not the main concern. We couldn’t chase after them if we wanted to—we have no idea where they may have gone. Zane isn’t even answering his pokenav whenever I call, so I don’t even know if he’s still being chased. But the worst thing is what the goal of the Schola is. We shouldn’t be able to directly interfere with these people, but they might be putting all of Hoenn in danger. We can’t turn a blind eye to that."
"What do you think, lass?" The Berrymaster asked as he leaned forward with anticipation. "What are they after?"
"In order to figure that out, we’d have to figure out why they’re targeting these particular five. What do they have in common? What relationship do they hold that catches the eye of the Schola?"
Roxanne shook her head back and forth, her pigtails swinging about. "I can think of a lot of possibilities, but they fall through whenever I start to really look into it. It’s giving me a headache just to guess without any information."
"Well, something abstract won’t be able to penetrate that ‘rock head’ of your—ow!"
Wattson whimpered as Roxanne mercilessly kicked out and the heel of her shoe connected with the old man’s shin.
"One thing bothers me, though." Roxanne looked toward the Berrymaster as he swatted Donphan once more. "You say that Zephyr, one of the attacked, headed toward Mt. Pyre after fighting with the Schola?"
"That’s what one of the men who’d been under hypnosis told me and my wife." The Berrymaster nodded solemnly. Roxanne’s gaze lost focused as the gears of her mind began to turn. Why Mt. Pyre? That burial ground was known for being an eternal resting place and the home of the two orbs that held the power of two titanic Pokémon of the sea and earth. The legend of the other world spoke nothing of those two legendary Pokémon.
Roxanne was known for being a genius among geniuses, having worked with Sinnoh’s Lucian on several occasions. She was also called the ‘brain’ of Hoenn, capable of tracking and analyzing the geography in order to better understand the unique nature of the island region. She was quite famous despite her young age. Using that enormous brain power of hers, she attempted to put together the pieces of the puzzle laid out before her. It was like trying to push together pieces with way more edges than there should be, barely making a distinct shape, if at all.
Even so, she did it.
She finally learned of the connection between the five, the Schola, Mt. Pyre, and the legend it all revolved around.
She could barely widen her eyes in surprise at the revelation before the doors to the gym opened up suddenly on their own and a single man strode in, a stern look on his face. He wore a pinstripe suit and had spiky silver hair that set him apart from any crowd, yet let him blend in at the same time.
"Roxanne, Wattson." Steven Stone spoke with a voice edged with steel. "We need to talk."
"…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.
Zephyr grimaced as he strode through the interior of Mt. Pyre, his normally composed face taken over by fear and worry. On his back, he carried the unconscious body of a swarthy skinned girl in a blue sarong with floral designs.
This girl was his fellow Elite Four member and childhood friend, Phoebe. A ghost type trainer with a loving heart, she had attempted to communicate with the bitter overlord of the Reverse World, only to have her shadow reaped from her.
He’d only learned the true consequences after he’d calmed down from his tantrum and observed her carefully. His shadow was still plain as day while hers was nowhere to be found. She was not breathing and her body had gone stone cold, but her heart continued to breathe and blood continued to flood. He could only assume that she had yet to actually die.
He was determined to make sure that she did not pass on.
But first, how was he going to do that? He was focused on leaving Mt. Pyre promptly and finding help, but who should he go to? Who could help such a predicament, when he had never heard of such a thing happening before in all of his travels?
Perhaps Tate and Liza of Mosdeep could help? But even if they were psychic type gym leaders, it was doubtful they knew much about this. This was well outside the specialty of even a ghost type master, such as Phoebe.
Someone who studied ancient myths might be of help. If that was the case, he knew just to person. But that man tended to be a little difficult to handle. And even if Zephyr could somehow manage, that man tended to only be found when he wanted to.
"AAAAAHHHHH—Oof!!! Damn it; that could have hurt!"
Zephyr’s mind and body came to a halt as a figure fell through a weak portion of the ceiling above, surrounded by a mound of sand to help cushion his fall as they landed right before Zephyr on the ground. Zephyr knew the floors in this graveyard could be weak in some places, but this person had fallen with a lot more force than that—as if he’d come straight from the top.
This man had wavy blonde hair and wore a beige jacket and had sore areas all over his body that marked where injuries were. Zephyr narrowed his eyes slightly as he considered the man briefly.
"That accent…Are you from Kanto?"
"Huh? Oh, another person. Yeah, I’m from Kanto. Francois, gym leader of Cinnabar."
Francois stood up despite his wound, apparently not bothered by any pain he should have felt. Zephyr noted this curiously as Francois held out a hand to him. Zephyr shifted Phoebe’s body so that he could shake the hand.
"Elite Four Zephyr. It’s a pleasure."
"Elite Four? Well you’ve got me beat. Who would have thought I would meet one of Hoenn’s Four Heavenly Kings here? Although, I guess it’s not so strange when you consider the situation we’re in."
"‘Situation’…eh?" Zephyr murmured bitterly, mostly to himself. He could easily guess that this person was one of the people who held a piece of Arceus within him, though it was possible that he didn’t even know it. It seemed the Schola were not being half-hearted with their attempts if they managed to even involve someone from Kanto. "In any case, you should count your blessings that you’re alive. It would be smart to leave while you still have that life."
Francois’ brow furrowed as he heard those words and he prepared to refuse almost at once with a vehement tone. But he was cut off as the walls on either side of them suddenly had a hole burst into them, one side by the powerful pressure of water and the other side by physical force.
"Ugeh…I’m soaking wet now…Oh, Francois! What are you doing here as well?"
"…I finally reached the proper interior of Mt. Pyre, eh? Wait, why is an Elite Four member here?"
On the side with water, a young pretty girl with a small white windbreaker and bonnet stumbled into sight, closely followed by a Tropius. Hovering over her shoulder was a cheerful Chimecho who began singing upon seeing more people.
The person who came through the other side was a more traditional looking Pokémon trainer; jacket, sneakers, and jeans. He had dark matted hair and had followed his Aggron’s digging pace by riding uphill on back. Zephyr and Francois could guess that the reason he was so pale and unsteady was from the effort he’d put in the ride.
"Nice timing Solana," Francois greeted the girl easily enough before raising an eyebrow at the guy in jeans. "I guess you’re another one who was dragged into this, huh?"
"Call me Zane." The man nodded as he frowned in exasperation. "You have a piece of Arceus as well?"
Francois nodded in agreement along with Zephyr, but Solana didn’t seem to have heard. Her eyes widened to the size of dish plates as she stared at Zane’s shirt, particularly the chest area.
"Take off your shirt!" She cried as she hurried over toward Zane, stumbling a bit on her way. Zane was immediately bewildered, uncertain of what she meant. "Take it off!"
Solana didn’t bother waiting for him to understand. She gripped his shirt with her hands and ripped the front open with surprising ease, baring Zane’s chest. Francois’ eyes widened as Zephyr clicked his tongue, both reacting to the horrible sight of a bleeding gash across Zane’s chest.
"That explains why he’s so weak on his feet." Zephyr realized with a dark tone as Francois shook his head back and forth. "That’s a deep wound, too. You must have lost a lot of blood on your way up. It looks like you were attacked by an Excadrill or Armaldo."
"Armaldo…?" Francois repeated under his breath, but Zane shook his head. He wasn’t able to put up much of an effort to retain his pride as Solana took off his ripped shirt and jacket, leaving him bare-chested as she forced him to sit on the floor. Apparently, she had every intention of performing an immediate operation on the spot.
"It was a Pawniard with exceptionally sharp claws. If you guys don’t mind…can you tell me what’s happened to you so far?"
And so they three traded stories right there, starting from their first encounter with the Schola. Francois spoke for both himself and the occupied Solana, though she did try her best to explain her short battle with Xansa; Schola’s leader.
By the time they had finished, everyone’s eyes were on the unconscious girl lying in front of Zephyr. Tears were spilling down from Solana’s eyes even as she tried to finish bandaging Zane, having finished healing his wound with her unique ability. Zane remained silent as he felt how shaky her trembling hands were, murmuring all the while; "You poor thing…" He was sure she wasn’t just referring to Phoebe.
"Unless you can do anything about her current state, don’t dwell on it." Zephyr spoke without any apparent concern, though there was some pain hidden in his eyes. "She has a strong spirit; stronger than mine. We have a more pressing situation in front of us."
Francois could only sigh in response to Zephyr’s words. It seemed that being one of the Four Heavenly Kings meant that you were a strong person in more ways than one. If he had been in Zephyr’s situation, he would have snapped permanently. For this guy to calmly move, even if it was useless to dwell on things…It was incredible.
But he was right. They had bigger things to worry about.
"From what you all said," Zephyr went on in a thoughtful tone. "We all arrived at different times and have been here for a different length of time. And yet we’re all here after those sequences of events, all at the same time. That means that both time and space are really distorted."
"So this ‘planetary paralysis’ thing is actually possible." Zane sighed miserably. "This really is the worst. Maybe we should just let them use Giratina to erase the distortions. That way, we won’t have to be killed and the world can be saved."
"That’s just like giving up!" Francois suddenly flared up with fury. "Those people attacked us! That monster took this girl’s shadow and put her in a near death state! We can’t just let them do whatever them want just because we’re having trouble beating them! I refuse to run like a coward!"
"Francois…just what are you fighting against?" Solana eyed him in confusion as she shifted her body away from Zane now that she had finished with him. "If we just ruin whatever they are doing now, we may force them to kill us. And even if we prevent that from happening, we’d just ensure the world’s destruction. If that’s the case, is there any point in winning?"
"There’s got to be another way!" Francois insisted stubbornly, shaking his head back and forth. "You can’t lose your fighting spirit just because it looks a bit hopeless! You’re part of the Elite Four, aren’t you, Zephyr? And you have a piece of Arceus that gives you some super puzzle solving ability! Can’t you figure something out?"
Zephyr didn’t respond immediately. His dull eyes were locked onto Phoebe’s peaceful face in silence. The others wondered briefly if depression had caught up with him, but when he finally spoke, his words were calm and pensive.
"The whole world ceasing to rotate…and all of life disappearing in the unstable environment. Even if the world is suffering from distortions in time and space, what does that have to do with this seemingly scientific phenomena?"
This sent a jolt through the other three. It was true that it was strange to think that simply distorting time and space would result in the planet stopping. A number of other things possibly came to mind, such as reversal of culture, mass hysteria, worldwide destruction, spacequakes, and a few others. But simply stopping the earth’s movement…was that something that could be done even by distorting time and space?
Zephyr aimed his empty eyes in the direction of the three without really looking at them. His dull expression lacked any energy, but they could see gears turning in the back of his head as he spoke his next words, holding one finger up before slowly raising a second finger as he spoke.
"The answer lies with the self-proclaimed priestess of the Schola who came from the future…and the girl who is currently not present, claiming to be able to see the future."