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Spliced… the rewritten version
Here is another fic by me. It’s influenced by a combination of my very first fic; all of my other fan-fics and some co-written help from Sparkling Dragon. Hope you enjoy. Rated PG 13, maybe possibly go higher. Thanks to my mentors for beta-ing this for me.
Disclaimer: This fan-fiction, “Spliced… the rewritten version”, stems from a collaboration of author/co-author partnership ideas. It contains some moderate language, violence and mortal peril, but nothing too bad. Pokémon is © Game Freak and Nintendo, 1995-2009. All other characters are © Kanto Lover.
List of Chapters
Book 1: The Beginning
Chapter 1: Preparing for the Adventure
Chapter 2: Lost
Chapter 3: The First Day
Chapter 4: Galactic Trouble
Chapter 5: Onwards to Pewter
Chapter 6: The Silver Conference
Chapter 7: Victory over Brock!
Chapter 8: Mobilization
Chapter 9: The Perils of Mt. Moon
Chapter 10: The Quartet
Viridian City, Spring 2008…
If one was to step down the stairs of the Viridian Pokémon Mart’s off limits area without knowing what was held down below, all they would see to their horror, was a row of narrow tubes lined up against all four sides of the large underground area. The tubes spawned from the ground to near the ceiling; their contents inside would seem like nothing but dark, lifeless objects huddled in the clear water to minimize their size. Several bubbles would float up from time to time from the oxygen tanks installed down below, and at the very back of the cave, a large monitor attached to the rugged stone would flicker every once in a while with long streams of coded characters running one after the other.
But for Professor Robert Jones who knew what the area really held, however, he would take four certain steps to the left and flick on the switch hidden behind a panel of stone. He would then watch the lights descend down from the ceiling to illuminate the environment below. Sterile equipment, glistening white in the bright light of the room, would lead up to the many laptops sitting innocently on the large counters, their screens black as they hummed in sleep. Thick wires attached to the backs of them would slither over the tabletops to the cylinders against the walls where many Pokémon rested, floating in their drugged sleep, before separating to join up with the main screen at the back of the room.
Beside at least five black, thin computer screens rested a silver platter of tools that lay beside each other one by one, as clean as the day they were made. Their metal almost had a malevolent feel to them as they glinted off their reflections under the lamps. Several cabinets stood tight against each other, on both sides of the large screen that served as the main database. Each handle was locked tightly together by small, golden lockets.
Deep in an underground facility, experiments were being conducted and Pokémon were being cloned. Due to the processes involved, they gave off tremendous amounts of gamma radiation, a dangerous kind of wave. It is because of this radiation that the facility had to be located underground. The cloning was normally done at level seven and the average depth was around five thousand, six hundred metres. Professor Robert Jones, the head scientist, was currently working on cloning a Meowth. The process had been successful so far.
He waited for a few minutes and smiled faintly to himself when a Meowth – exactly as he had imagined it – appeared in the cloning tank beside him. The tiny cat, with pale cobalt fur spotted with lavender blotches and a gold trinket on its brow, slept serenely. Its small front legs and huge hind paws were seen underneath it in a curled, foetal position. The cloning tanks themselves were circular glass tubes and connecting the Pokémon to the tanks were thin, flexible wires. Each of the several dozen cloning tanks had a screen in front of them that displayed vital statistics in complex graphs and detailed charts. Percentages flashed across the screen, slowly rising.
Stopping work to have a well needed break, he strolled over to have a look at the work of his colleagues’. In one tank was a sound asleep Growlithe. The small, orange dog also lay in a foetal position. A mane of amethyst hair covered the top of its head, while below its chin was a large beard of the same fur. Black stripes covered its body, giving it a feline look, and the normally fluffy tail was actually two small, ribbon-like tails that swerved by movements known only to them.
Adjusting his glasses, Robert spoke to his colleague. “How is the progress of the Growlithe clone?”
“It’s going well, sir,” the junior scientist replied, trembling from a little excitement. “Its vital statistics are slow to rise, which is worrying. Other than that, everything is going according to plan.”
“Very good,” the head scientist answered back, placing a hand on his colleague’s shoulder. Dressed in a white laboratory coat and black boots, with the traditional glasses that scientists wore, he had a look of power about him. “It doesn’t really matter that its statistics are rising a bit too slowly, as it will reach one hundred percent sooner or later.”
Turning away from the junior scientist, he faced the other cloning tanks and observed the rest of the scientists working on the other genetically engineered Pokémon. It looked as though Professor Robert Jones was about to speak, when he was interrupted by a hesitant cough.
Another junior scientist, whose scientific intellect was inferior to that of his superiors, raised his hand in a questioning way. Prone to talk out of turn, he carried on, regardless of the fact that Robert hadn’t even turned his cold blue-eyed gaze on him. “Boss, who gave us all of this money in the first place?”
“You imbecile!” Professor Robert Jones started. “We will find that out in due time! For the moment, keep your head down, bottom up and get working!”
Shaking his head in dismay as he walked away, Jones couldn’t help thinking. Some of these junior scientists are just not meant to be in the scientific workforce.
An hour later, the scientists had finished their work on the cloned Pokémon. Taking in each of the experiments’ features didn’t take long, and Professor Robert Jones nodded slowly. “This Treecko,” he began, “what’s the progress report on it?”
The Treecko was a small bluish-grey reptilian being. It happened to be gifted at ascending trees in no time at all, and its hands and feet had spikes on them. An outstandingly thick and cumbersome tail, more or less the length of its body, grew from its rear.
“It was one of the last to reach one hundred percent, sir,” another scientist answered.
“I see,” he replied.
“Sir,” the junior scientist started off. “How will we know how strong these Pokémon are?”
“I’m not sure, Blake,” Robert responded. “But I hope we find out soon enough.”
Later, the ageing Professor Oak was having a conversation with an aide who had just come back from a secret mission. The Professor was old, and the aide young, but Oak still insisted that he was young-spirited.
Oak’s greying hair was trimmed neatly, as it came down just short of his ears; whereas the aide’s long brown hair came down to his shoulders and he also had the beginning of a goatee. Both Oak and the aide wore long white lab coats, but Oak’s fell down to his black boots and the aide’s stopped in between the knee and the ankle. The assistant also wore a short-sleeved grey v-neck jumper over a blue business shirt.
“How was everything? Were you able to smuggle a few of them away, Mike?” Professor Oak asked quietly, his voice a bit hoarse.
“It went perfectly,” Mike answered. “And yes, I got a few of them with me. But being a double-crosser isn’t easy. If they find out, we’re history.”
Mike paused and drew four gleaming, red and white Poké Balls from his pocket. “The majority of them were Kanto-based creatures, but there were others – from Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh – who weren’t native. The security cameras were malfunctioning, as well, which proved handy.”
“Are these four worthy of being classified as you-know-what?” the researcher questioned, his grey eyes appearing to glint for a moment.
The aide looked at his mentor and nodded silently. He handed the four spheres over to Professor Oak, who placed them in the small dome. Mike looked away briefly, thinking of the scientists he had deceived, but was jerked out of his reverie by an expectant Professor.
“Did you not hear me? I asked which ones they were,” the researcher repeated.
“Budew, Growlithe, Spheal and Shinx,” the aide answered.
“Thank you for your time,” Professor Oak replied, with a genuine smile on his face.
At the same time, he wondered what had been going on in his aide’s head before he had had to repeat himself. But for now, the next Pokémon League season was rapidly approaching and that meant he would have to devote time to drafting up trainer cards.
That evening, the sunset cast long shadows over the town of Pallet. As Charles Ryder Harris, blonde-haired husband of Fiona, sat in his wheelchair on the back patio he reflected on how one incident changed his life forever.
All I had been doing was watching the Dratini evolve into Dragonair in the Fuchsia City Safari Zone. I suppose I should’ve kept my eye on the Rhydon herd as well, because all of a sudden there was an explosion. They panicked and started stampeding in my direction. Even to this day I knew I should have gotten out of their way then, but I was still entranced with the evolving Dratini colony and I failed to realize that the herd’s speed was deceptive. Because of that, I misjudged my escape time. They loomed ever closer; I tried to get out of their way, but it was too late. The herd steam-rolled over me and that’s how I ended up the way I am today.
Like I said, I still love this story and I absolutely cannot wait until the next chapter. Go, woman, go! XD Hope my review helps. =3
I won't say anything about grammar... would be ironic, given the fact that you're my beta reader xD
I think, although it has lot of vocabolary I didn't get very much (which is a good thing, 'cause it means you have an expensive vocabulary ), the story is mysterious and a bit dramatic... am I wrong?
This is good, 'cause the readers (I included) will wanna know what's going to happen next.
The only thing that didn't like me was this part:
“Did you not hear me? I asked which ones they were,” the researcher repeated.
“Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle and Shinx,” the Aide answered.
You choose the Pokemon, of course, but I think we already seen enough of the Kanto Starters... may be Pokemon to whom we're not that used to would be great..
Anyway, keep writing friend!
My reply to SL’s review thus begins.
Moving on to Feathing’s review…
I understand your complaint about everyone being too familiar with the Kantonian Pokémon, but fear not.
Edit: Due to my forgetting to save the edited prologue to my USB, the changes will be made in a couple of days. Sorry everyone.
Chapter 1: Preparing for the Adventure
Autumn, six months later…
The town of Pallet was relatively small in comparison to the other cities and townships in Kanto. Most of the houses were built from wood, with the exception of a row of brick houses on the eastern boundary of town which belonged to the families with lots of money. The sun rose steadily in the sky, lighting up and warming the town as a small breeze wafted along, drying clothes which were hanging on various clotheslines and rustling leaves on trees.
Professor Oak was one of the most highly regarded Pokémon researchers in the world. He had won the Kanto region’s Indigo League – a tournament held every five years at the furthest point north-west in Kanto – twice and has dedicated his life to the study of Pokémon, their habitats, lifestyles and interactions with their trainers. Since he was always known as the most renowned Pokémon expert in the entire world, the citizens of Pallet Town had always considered it an honour that he has continued to work in his home. Visitors felt that Professor Oak’s Pokémon laboratory was the only real attraction in the town. It wasn’t so much a tourist attraction, but more a place where interesting Pokémon events and discoveries occurred.
Pallet Town was hardly ever bustling except when the newest Pokémon trainers graduated from the magnet school – usually at the age of ten. The school taught the core subjects such as maths, science, history, reading language arts, and so on, as well as courses involving studies of Pokémon, which ranged from raising, training, breeding and battling of Pokémon. Their journeys would usually start by travelling north to Viridian City, as it was the closest city to Pallet, and the only city accessible by going on foot. Nothing but deep forest lay to the east and west, and the south was a large stretch of water where Cinnabar Island resided.
As the sun rose even higher, shouting was heard from within a house on the eastern boundary of town.
“Josephine! If you don’t get out of bed right now and come downstairs, then Eevee will have to go up there and wake you up!!” Shouted a forty-one year old woman, with pale red hair and hazel eyes which burned with fiery impatience. She wore a bright red sleeveless top and blue three-quarter pants. This was Fiona Harris, mother of a Pokémon trainer-to-be. She was a very kind and caring person, but she didn’t want her daughter to miss out on one of the most important days of her life.
“Oh well! Eevee, if you don't mind, could you please wake her up so that she's not late for her big adventure?” Fiona asked the creature standing next to her, who happened to be the family pet. The Pokémon was small and fox-like in appearance; his tiny body was brown in colour, with creamy coloured neck fur and his face wore a hardened, serious expression. Two long, rabbit-like ears, which emanated from the top of his head, twitched periodically as he listened to the human’s request.
<No problem. In fact, I would have done it myself even if you hadn't asked,> replied Eevee. He swiftly sprang up the wooden staircase, bounding down the long hallway, and hurled his small body against a door at the end of the hall. He glanced up at it, rushed inside and grumbled to himself, because even after making that entire racket to come to the girl’s room, she still hadn't woken up.
Josephine Harris was born into a rich family as the third child of four. Unlike other children from wealthy families, she wasn’t overly spoiled. As with all of the other children in Pallet, she studied at the Pokémon Trainers’ Academy. However, instead of beginning her journey at the age of ten – which was the minimum legal age – she chose to hang around Professor Oak’s lab for four years, studying about the different types of Pokémon and learning more which would, in the end, help her a lot in her upcoming journey.
Three walls of her room were made of brick – which had been painted a light green colour – and were completely devoid of anything, with the exception of a wooden framed unicorn picture on the wall opposite her bed and a painting of a girl feeding some duck-like Pokémon in the country on the right-hand side wall. On the third were posters of her favourite Pokémon. The last wall consisted of a security grill protected sliding door.
It was behind the sliding door that an oddly shaped grey table was positioned with the girl’s laptop and story writing material on it. She had only one laptop – but she badly wanted the internet on it, so she wouldn’t have to keep going down to the local library. A reasonable sized TV and DVD/VCR combo (the combo of which was currently kaput and needed to be looked at) rested near the printer she owned, with two Nintendo DS consoles sitting on top of a spare old-styled school desk.
<Forgive me for this, Ho-oh, but I've got a lazy person who won't even get off her behind. Bloody hell, Josephine, wake up!> Eevee said loudly.
Seeing that he got no reaction, Eevee's eyes narrowed and an evil sort of smirk appeared on his face, as he said, <Bugger you, kid, I'll wake you up myself.>
After saying that, the Pokémon jumped onto the girl's bed and tore off the covers with his paws. He then placed his fluffy brown tail in front of the girl’s nose and proceeded to tickle the olfactory. Moments later, a loud sneeze ripped through the air, as Josephine sat up and wondered what sort of pollen had drifted through her open window.
Seeing the brown coloured fox sitting on her bed with his tail curled around his body, she asked, “Why did you do that?” seemingly appearing to forget that today she was to leave Pallet to begin her journey.
<We have to get downstairs and you need to get ready for your journey. Remember?> the fox-like Pokémon gently reminded the girl.
“You make it sound like the Pokémon Trainers’ Academy. But I know that this journey is going to be a lot better. Okay, let’s go,” Josephine answered, smiling at the family pet.
She moved Eevee off her and jumped out bed, as she headed towards her ensuite. The red-haired girl opened the door, closing it upon entering and then turned on the water.
After showering herself, Josephine proceeded to dry off her thin frame of medium height and build. She then rubbed the moisture out of her hair, allowing the wet strands to fall to her shoulders, and then dried and brushed it until it was in a suitable enough position for her to wrap a hair tie around it, creating a pony-tail look.
She went over to her closet and removed two hangers; one of which held a bright red sleeveless top, with the other holding a sky-blue miniskirt. She dressed herself, before slipping her feet into a pair of brown boots, and casually placed her black sun-glasses over her hazel coloured eyes.
Placing her digital watch on the wrist of her left arm, she headed down the hall.
Heading into the reasonably large kitchen and preparing herself a bowl of cereal, she spotted her mother relaxing on the cyan sofa. Eating the cereal as fast as she could without making herself sick, she then checked to ensure that her bright yellow backpack with the imprint of a Poké Ball on the side was packed. Finding out that everything was in there, she placed the breakfast bowl in the sink, ran some water in it and headed to the door.
“Honey, wait,” the voices of Josephine’s parents spoke up. The girl’s mother rose from the sofa as her father wheeled himself into the room. The masculine toned voice had come from Charles, Fiona’s husband. Charles had been an Indigo League Champion at the age of twenty, but after having an accident in the Safari Zone at twenty-three, he ended up in a wheelchair, as a paraplegic.
Saying goodbye was going to be difficult and sad.
“Yeah?” The teen turned and looked at her parents as tears started to form in her eyes.
“It’s good to see that you are finally ready. Professor Oak rang and said he wants you to meet him at his lab,” Fiona told her, relieved to see that her second oldest living child was finally setting off.
Josephine stood there with a puzzled look on her face, wondering what the researcher needed to give her, but then it clicked. “Of course! My Pokémon, Pokédex and Poké Balls… how could I forget…?” Josephine mentally slapped herself for forgetting such a simple thing.
As she was about to run to the lab, she remembered that this would be the last time she saw her parents before she left. She turned around and looked at them. “Mum, Dad… this is goodbye for now. I’ll miss you.”
Her father stared desperately at her, while her mother placed a hand on her shoulder and answered, “Yes, we’ll miss you too. You have grown up incredibly fast Josephine, and we understand that you want to go on this journey.”
“Alright, I’ll see you later guys.”
“Goodbye dear. Know that whatever happens, I’ll always think of you as a Pokémon Master, because you went and attempted to accomplish your dream,” Fiona said, as she smiled at her daughter. Charles manoeuvred his wheelchair backwards, determined to talk to Fiona in private once Josephine had left.
Just before Josephine set off, she gave her mother one last farewell hug and this resulted in the tears flowing freely.
Wiping away the tears, Josephine started walking towards the research facility that was run by Professor Oak.
After trudging along for about ten minutes, she finally arrived at the location of the building. The lab’s foundations were on top of a hill that was accessible by a long stairway, which took one to the entrance of the lab. It was a two-story ivory edifice that had a maroon roof which, from the top, allowed one to view the landscape as far as the eye could see.
There was a lake to the east of the hill and to the south was an untamed forest with no paths. The forest was cut short by an open range, which was met in the north by rocks and boulders. There were Pokémon scattered all over the landscape.
Josephine rang the doorbell and waited, because she knew that Professor Oak wouldn’t be able to rush to answer the door. The wooden door opened a few minutes later.
“Ah, Josephine! Come to collect your Pokémon, Pokédex and Poké Balls, have you?” Professor Oak questioned.
“Yes, Professor,” she replied.
“Right this way, then,” he answered, as he turned and led the red-haired girl into the lab. The first thing that was seen when entering was an array of bookshelves that were stacked against the wall, stretching from one corner of the room to the other.
To the right were small computers that blinked with all sorts of dazzling lights, with the monitors scrolling down with data that she could only guess was the research that Professor Oak and his assistants had compiled.
In the middle, between the computers, was a rather large door. It was used to go out to care for or to study the Pokémon which were kept at the lab.
To the left was a very large storage room in which the Poké Balls that contained the Pokémon were kept. One could only guess how many were amassed there.
At the top of the staircase to the right of the Poké Ball storage room, the upper level was desolate except for three bookshelves that were lined up against the left wall; an enormous computer that took up the entire southern wall and finally, a small dome which was the place were the Poké Balls were kept.
“Professor, there you are! We have everyone here, sir,” one of Oak’s aides appeared when they entered the large room which contained the small dome.
“Very good, John. Any news of the others?”
“Rachel Savina has already been and gone, collecting her Pokémon, Pokédex and Poké Balls along the way. You already know about Paul’s hasty departure,” John answered.
“Good. Now, Josephine, I have a few important things to give you. They are your Pokémon, Pokédex and Poké Balls.”
Taking a deep breath and trying not to become too hyper, thought Josephine. “Can... can I look at it? Properly, I mean?" she asked.
Picking up the last remaining red and white sphere, Professor Oak issued a command. “Go, Shinx!”
Emerging from the Poké Ball was a creature covered in blue fuzz called Shinx. Her stout feline body and short azure fur shivered from the wind which was coming from the open windows, while her tail and ears glowed bright yellow; useful in dark places, but hardly noticeable once they were outside. Hissing, the Shinx leaned down on her front legs, her yellow bands gleaming in the sunlight.
Then, the researcher handed her a large red electronic device, which looked like a calculator and five small balls. The Professor allowed Josephine the time to register her partner’s data into her Pokédex.
“Shinx, the Flash Pokémon – a Pokémon of the Electric type. Shinx’s forelegs have a muscle-based system of generating electricity. Their bodies shine if endangered,” the device reported in a monotonous voice.
“Let me explain what I handed to you before,” Professor Oak began, just as the newbie trainer recalled her starter.
“The large red device which you hold in your hands is what I call a Pokédex. A lot of research by my colleagues’ and I was done and we were finally able to release a small hand-held device. It will record information about any wild Pokémon, including its type and special attacks. Thus, its pages will be filled.”
He then pointed to the five small balls.
“These are crucial to capturing Pokémon, so please pay close attention. Once you weakened a wild Pokémon, you can trap it in one of these Poké Balls. Be absolutely sure that your opponent is weak enough before using one of these. If you fail to capture a Pokémon with the same ball five times, it will break. Also, note that you can only carry around six Pokémon with you at any given time. Once you’re out of Poké Balls, you can buy more in the Pokémon Marts. You can even purchase Potions for your Pokémon if you’re really far from a Pokémon Centre.”
“How much do these items cost?” Josephine asked.
“About two hundred Pokédollars for each sphere… and I think the Potions are a little dearer,” the researcher answered.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” the fourteen year old red-haired girl answered. “I won’t let you down, Professor. I’ve never been more ready for anything else.”
“Very good…” he replied.
She walked back through the building and out the front door, waving goodbye to Professor Oak as she did so. Then, she looked up as she began to walk along Route One. The sun was now in plain view, almost blinding from where she was standing and the grass was glimmering as the dew dropped from each blade.
Josephine’s Pokémon journey, as well as the day, was just beginning. She had her first Pokémon, and already knew where she was to go next – Viridian City. Now with determination in her hazel eyes, Josephine continued to look at the sky. As an official trainer, she then looked down at the orb which contained her partner.
“Shinx, you are my key to becoming one of the best,” Josephine murmured, smiling proudly.
Well, there's not too much difference between the rewritten prologue and the original, and as only three parts hit me as odd, they'll be all I comment on.
What was held down below where? Why would one step down the stairs? This was an intro that left a lot to be desired. Usually, buildings are described in the same way, a reader would see it in his/her mind... from the outside in, the one exception being if your story begins within the location with a bit more action. The description is flawless and makes it all seem so real, just pick your opening point a little more carefully.
The lastt part of the intro that struck me as odd was Oak. Maybe it's just me, but the world's foremost authority on pokemon does not seem like the kind of person to dabble in skulduggery and place other people in unnecessary danger, barring handing out pokedexs to wet-nosed ten year old kids. I'm also with Feathing, it's your fic, your world (no excuse to throw ground canon rules out the window) but the Kanto starters are a little overused, though it's not a major issue. But if you were going to throw in Shinx, you could have tried for some other pokemon of the grass-fire-water trio like, oh i dunno: Budew, Magby or some other Fire type line that follows a three stage evolution pattern (if there's none- and there isn't- that's where you get creative)/Vulpix/Growlithe and Poliwag for instance. This however is NOT the issue at hand. Let's look at what mike said:
OK, prologue review done. Now to chapter one:
*decides to stop being silly and takes off the suit*
Wait just a minute! She was relieved that her last but one child was leaving home to run around tangling with creatures with otherworldly abilities that could kill her in a heartbeat, or agonizingly longer? Of all emotions, relieved?! Nuh, uh, don't buy it.
I'd suggest taking things a little more slowly. a back story, or bits of it, thrown here and there would help explain things better. Don't try to force story elements or styles into your work or you lose originality points. This may be harsh, or sound so, but it's what i got. You've gone over this way to many times to think of doing it again.
Gotta go, so I'll talk to ya [email protected]!
"Just before Josephine set off, she gave her mother one last farewell hug, allowing the tears to freely flow down her cheeks.
Well, it wasn't as exciting as I had originally hoped for, but it wasn't bad either. It was interesting in some parts, like with Eevee, but then dull in others, like the very beginning. But it was much better than your very first attempt.
You seem to have given the different characters different personalities, like Eevee and his serious, impatient nature and Paul being so hasty. However, Josephine is a little bland as of now. You haven't really given her a personality, but you did give her interests. But interests and personality are not the same thing. I suggest making her personality shine through a bit more in the next chapter.
Hullo! I still would like to figure out a way to chat with you, but anywho, here's my review. Yay for rhymes.
This is a definite improvement from the old one. There was more description in this one and less clichés. I absolutely loved the juxtaposition you used in the beginning; it set the tone very nicely. I can't say much about the characters right now because it is only the first chapter.
There were a few parts that bugged me.
I'm not sure the long description of the Pokedex and Pokeballs was necessary, at least not that much in depth. I would hope that most readers understand how a Pokedex and Pokeballs work, and I assume Josephine would know as well because she has been working with Professor Oak for the past several years.
This was the other thing that bothered me:
This is an awkward way to introduce the fact that one of Josephine's older siblings is dead. I would just scratch out this part and leave it for when the information is actually prevalent.
Anyway, overall I like the beginning. Keep up the writing!
Here's the next chapter!
Not for the first time in his life, Lucas was incredibly worried. Usually, it was about something trivial, like the amount of battery left in his Pokétch. Right now, however, he felt justified in being scared out of his wits. He was completely and utterly lost, and night was approaching.
The GPS on his Pokétch told him he was on Route 214, in the southern section. That didn’t help him at all. Route 214 was notorious for being winding, confusing and easy to get lost in. The fact that it was dark didn’t help at all. Lucas kept imagining that he saw things hiding behind trees, under bushes, everywhere he looked. He couldn’t turn his back on anything, because he just knew there would be something hiding there. Yet he couldn’t manage to keep his eyes on everything around him, so he found himself rotating warily, his eyes quickly jumping from place to place in order to ensure nothing was going to attack him.
A twig snapped under his foot, and Lucas jumped about a foot in the air. His heart pounding, he realised that he wasn’t going to get anywhere by spinning in circles. Choosing a direction at random, he struck out, stumbling a little on the uneven ground, his left leg throbbing slightly with each step.
His leg always throbbed like that. He had gotten used to it in the last six years, sure, but that didn’t make it any more comfortable. It was his curse, his little annoyance that was always there, no matter how much he tried not to think about it. It essentially crippled him.
Right now, it was preventing him from running. He hadn’t been able to run since he was eight, but never had he wanted to more than right now. As he strained to go faster, he tripped and fell, landing in a pile of small, sharp objects. The distinctive scent of pine needles filled his nostrils as he moaned and tried not to cry out. Dragging himself into a sitting position, he snatched his red hat from where it had fallen and jammed it angrily back onto his head, trying to prevent tears from welling up in his eyes.
He knew was being silly and immature. It was just a fall, and he wasn’t seriously hurt. Even so, he found himself desperately wishing that he was back in Veilstone City. This place was just too much, especially at night.
Dragging himself to his feet, Lucas gritted his teeth and dragged himself to his feet. Before he could stumble off again, however, he was gripped by a sudden, inexplicable sense of being watched. Although he could see nothing, he had the distinct impression that hundreds of red, glowing eyes were watching him, waiting, biding their time. But every time he looked, there was nothing.
“Come on,” he muttered to no-one in particular, his voice shaking slightly. “Let’s get out of here!”
Something huge and black leapt from the bushes, knocking him to the ground with a snarl. Lucas cried out as he hit the ground hard . . . again. His vision was full of a snarling canine-like head, with two gleaming white horns curling behind it. Desperately, Lucas tried to tug himself out from underneath the thing, but it had him firmly pinned. He tried desperately to reach the Poké Balls at his belt, but again he was thwarted.
Lucas didn’t know what the thing wanted, but he didn’t feel it had just dropped in for a chat. His mind racing, he tried to work out what to do. The beast was still pinning him firmly, but not making any more moves. Lucas relaxed momentarily, and to his great surprise, the monster backed off him. Desperately, Lucas grasped a Poké Ball at random and thumbed the release button. Only by great luck, it was Floatzel. Breathing slightly easier now that his Pokémon was between him and the thing, Lucas stumbled towards the nearest tree. When he reached it, he leant heavily against it, grasping the bark as if it would save him from the beast.
Floatzel, who was well used to his Trainer being too paralysed with fear to give orders, Floatzel identified his opponent as a Houndoom, a Fire-type. Knowing full well that he had an advantage, Floatzel fired a powerful Water Gun. The jet of water blasted across the distance between the two Pokémon, slamming into the Houndoom and knocking it off its feet.
Lucas, having recovered himself slightly, found the strength to stand on his own and watch the proceedings. Houndoom pulled itself to its feet, and Lucas noticed something strange about it. Its silky black fur was disfigured by a horrible scar that began on its muzzle and ran across its face, through one eye, and between its horns. The scarred eye was closed, and he doubted it would ever open again. In the midst of his terror, Lucas felt a pang of pity; this disappeared instantly, however, when Houndoom roared and fired a jet of bright orange flame at Floatzel. The Water-type leapt out of the way and fired another Water Gun. Houndoom, however, dodged skilfully and leapt at Floatzel, fangs bared.
Floatzel barely managed to duck, but Houndoom kept going. Now headed directly for Lucas, it charged at him, jaws gaping wide. Lucas felt as if he was paralysed. The Houndoom’s one remaining eye glowed crimson, seeming to pin him to the spot. He felt his heart beating at several times its usual rate. He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. He could only watch in terror as the Houndoom hurtled towards him, fangs gleaming yellow in the faint moonlight.
The next few seconds seemed to happen in slow motion.
The Houndoom made one final leap – flew through the air towards him – there was nothing he could do – too close! Lucas wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn’t. There was nothing he could do at all, nothing anyone could do, except –
The Houndoom went flying past him. Lucas blinked, suddenly finding himself able to do so. Gasping, he stepped away from the tree and fell to his knees, the world spinning. Why had it passed him by? It had seemed intent on killing him, until . . .
He noticed then that a strange sound filled the air. It was soft and melodic, barely audible. It floated through the trees, slipping around the edge of his consciousness. It slowed his pounding heart and calmed his breathing. Then the world started to turn fuzzy and black.
When Lucas came around, he was dripping wet. Glancing up at Floatzel, leaning anxiously over him, he could easily guess where the water had come from.
“Yeah, I’m alright, Floatzel,” he mumbled, sitting up slowly. Shaking his head to clear the fugue, he looked around. Light was starting to peep through the trees. “How long was I out?” Pulling himself to his feet and leaning on Floatzel, he put a hand to his aching head. “Aah,” he moaned, “I don’t feel so good!” Floatzel nodded in understanding and put a paw behind his back, guiding and supporting him.
Staggering and leaning heavily on Floatzel, Lucas started off again, praying that he was going the right way.
Just fifteen minutes later, he was rewarded. As they passed through another thick stand of trees, he caught a glimpse of sparkling blue.
“Lake Valor!” he exclaimed. “We made it, Floatzel!” Floatzel didn’t say anything, but Lucas felt his relief as clearly as he felt his own. Emerging from the trees, they were greeted by the marvellous sight of Lake Valor. The glittering azure waters of the lake lapped gently at the beaches as a light breeze stirred the treetops surrounding it. The morning sun glanced off the water at a million different angles, dusting the world with a spider’s-web of eternally shifting light. A few hundred metres around the lake, Lucas could see the famous Seven Stars Resort, a cluster of creamy-white buildings; one of which, he was glad to see, sported a large pink ‘P’ on the roof.
Stumbling around the lake to the Pokémon Centre, Lucas felt his spirits begin to lift. The horrors of the evening before seemed distant and fuzzy, even if still terrifying. With the morning sun shining down brightly, it was all but impossible not to smile.
The Pokémon Centre was fit to burst. People and Pokémon bustled about busily, making an awful lot of noise. Lucas and Floatzel stumbled between buzzing groups of people, and up to the counter. It was a large Pokémon Centre, and as a result, was staffed by two Nurse Joys. Lucas was familiar with Nurse Joy’s extended family. At first, it had been confusing; now, it was just a fact of life.
“Excuse me . . .” he began uncertainly.
Three hours later, Lucas was dozing quietly in a small room in the back of the Pokémon Centre. A light tapping roused him from his uneasy stupor, and he looked up, blinking blearily, to see Nurse Joy pulling back the sliding door, with the ever-present Chansey hovering behind her.
“Lucas? Your Pokémon are fully rested now,” she said, smiling.
“Chan-sey!” chipped in the round pink Pokémon, bouncing energetically.
“Thank you, Nurse Joy,” Lucas yawned. “I’ll come and collect them, then.”
“All right, then. I’ll meet you at the front counter when you’ve woken up properly, OK?”
“OK,” mumbled Lucas, rubbing his eyes. He vaguely registered Nurse Joy closing the door again. Standing up and stretching, he absently glanced out the window. What he saw made him rub his eyes again to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. A group of about six or seven people were sneaking through the trees behind the Pokémon Centre. What made this remarkable, though, was the fact that every single one of them was wearing what appeared to be a tight-fitting white and grey space-suit, sans the helmet. Each of them also had an identical bowl-cut, green-dyed hairdo. Two of them seemed to be lugging a large suitcase between them, and the others were all carrying large pieces of ominous-looking hardware.
Lucas blinked. It was Team Galactic, he was sure of it. But Dawn had shut them down three years ago, hadn’t she? Well, whatever they were doing, it couldn’t be anything good. He had to get out there.
Pulling back the sliding door, Lucas headed for the entrance. Nurse Joy was waiting behind the counter for him.
“Lucas!” she said with a cheery smile. “Here are your Pokémon; they should be as good as new!” Lucas had almost forgotten about his Pokémon with the appearance of Team Galactic.
“Thanks,” he said, clipping the Poké Balls to his belt. “But listen, I saw a bunch of Team Galactic goons sneaking around out the back. What could they be up to?”
“I don’t know,” said Nurse Joy with a slight frown. “They’d better not be trying to cause trouble, though, or they’ll find it!”
“Chan-sey!” Lucas was already heading for the door, limping slightly as usual.
“Let me know how you go with that,” he said absently. If Team Galactic were going to try something, he didn’t want to be around when it –
BOOM! The front wall of the Pokémon Centre crumbled with a colossal explosion. Rubble flew everywhere, and a large cloud of smoke filled the room. For a few seconds, the blast rang in everyone’s ears. Then the chaos began. People were yelling, Pokémon were running around helplessly, crying out for their Trainers, unable to see through the smoke. Amidst all the noise and panic, Lucas was lying on the floor, clutching his head. He had been hit by a chunk of wall when the explosion went off, and now he was struggling to stay conscious.
You’re going to die, his subconscious told him. It certainly felt like it. His head was on fire.
But I’ll come back, he told his subconscious. Won’t I? Reincarnation. People scoffed at it, but Lucas knew that if he died now, he wanted to come back.
“Lucas!” That wasn’t his subconscious. Was it? “Oi, Lucas, get up! If you don’t get up in ten seconds, I’m gonna fine you a million Pokédollars!” What on earth . . . “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six . . . Ah! Who’s got time to count? Get up already!” Lucas’ head spun. He wasn’t dead after all. Barry wastalking to him, and –
Lucas’ eyes snapped open.
“Barry?” he said incredulously. “What are you -”
“Doesn’t matter! Get up!” Rubbing his head, Lucas did as he was told, sitting up and peering around through the smoke. The first thing he saw was Barry, with his crazy blonde hairdo and goofy grin. The grin didn’t last long, however. The smoke dissipated; people stopped screaming. What they saw made everybody in the room stand still.
The Team Galactic members Lucas had seen behind the Pokémon Centre before were standing in the hole in the wall. The two that been carrying the large suitcase had opened it and laid it on the ground, and were now rapidly assembling something from its contents, clipping on the pieces the other grunts had been carrying as well. When they finished, a small machine was sitting in the hole in the wall. It looked like a high-tech gramophone of some sort, gleaming white and silver. It was square and boxy, covered with switches and buttons. A large silver trumpet snaked up from it, pointing directly into the Pokémon Centre. Emblazoned boldly on the device was the stylised yellow ‘G’ that everybody knew all too well.
“What is that thing?” asked Lucas in confusion.
“I don’t know,” said Barry, “but I don’t think they’re about to serenade us!”
It was at this point that a woman stepped forward from behind the device. Tall and slim, she was strikingly beautiful. With her high cheekbones and lightly bronzed skin, she looked like a princess out of a fairytale, especially with the golden-blonde hair cascading down her back. What spoiled the illusion, though, were her eyes. A bizarre shade of violet, they were as cold and hard as ice, seeming to pierce whatever she glanced at. Before anybody could move, she spoke.
“Team Galactic will be requiring your cooperation in this matter. Your Pokémon have been volunteered as test subjects for new Pokémon-based energy sources. Please remain calm while the Pokémon are . . . collected,” she said with a slight smile, pressing a button on the machine. Immediately, it sprang to life, beeping and whistling, before the funnel on the top seemed to vibrate, and every loose Poké Ball in the room was sucked right into it at great speed, and deposited in a large bag held by two grunts.
“My Poké Balls!” shouted Lucas in concern.
“Don’t worry,” muttered Barry confidently. “I got ya covered.” He tapped his belt, which still had six Poké Balls stuck to it.
“How did you do that?” Lucas asked. All around them, people were shouting and panicking, or trying desperately to cling on to Poké Balls. Barry grinned cockily.
“Magnetic clips,” he said. “I ran into Team Galactic – with one of these machines – before, so I made some modifications. Nice to know it works.”
Seemingly satisfied, the woman pressed another button on the machine. The vibration stopped, and the grunts with the bag started tying it up. Barry strode forward, pulling a Poké Ball from his belt.
“Give the Pokémon back!” he said. “You’ve got ten seconds!”
“Until what?” asked the woman, slightly disdainful. Barry frowned.
“That’s it, Pokémon battle!” he yelled, throwing his Poké Ball. In a flash of red light and a shower of sparks, his Empoleon emerged, glaring impassively at the Galactic woman. Lucas stood well behind Barry – more to the point, Barry’s Empoleon - and observed the goings-on safely. The woman chuckled, waving away a couple of grunts who had eagerly stepped forward to deal with Barry.
“I will battle myself,” she said. “But trust me; you will regret tangling with Venus!” She pulled a Poké Ball from her belt, expanding it and tossing it casually. In a familiar flash of red light, a Pokémon appeared. It was a grey and black canine, with glowing red eyes and large teeth. It snarled menacingly, and Lucas flinched. Those eyes . . . they reminded him of the Houndoom. Everything about the Pokémon in front of him reminded him of the Houndoom. The doglike appearance, the fangs . . . Combined, they gave him the shivers.
“Mightyena!” Venus commanded. “Use Crunch!” Fangs bared, the Pokémon – evidently Mightyena – leapt at Empoleon. Again, Lucas was reminded of the Houndoom attack. Empoleon, however, quickly crossed its arms in front of its face, blocking its opponent’s attack. Mightyena’s teeth bit down on the steely material of Empoleon’s forearm, instead of its throat.
“Throw it!” yelled Barry. Grabbing the shocked Mightyena in both claws, Empoleon swung it around like a ball on a string, finally letting go, which sent Mightyena flying through the air to crash into Venus headfirst. She was knocked off her feet, letting out a small scream.
“What’s the matter? Broke a nail?” Barry taunted. Venus growled, shoving the dazed Mightyena off her, propelling it back toward the battle.
“Get back in there, you useless Pokémon!” she hissed. “Use Take Down!” Mightyena yowled in acknowledgement, charging at Empoleon, head down. With the damage it took before, Lucas thought absently, it’ll probably knock itself out with that attack. As it turned out, it didn’t even reach Empoleon.
“Ice Beam!” ordered Barry. Empoleon opened its mouth wide, forming a crackling blue-white ball in its mouth. With a triumphant squawk, it fired it at Mightyena, transforming the ball into a bolt of ice that streaked across the gap between the two Pokémon and struck Mightyena, coating one side of it in ice. Mightyena yowled in pain, unable to move. “Finish it up with a Hydro Pump!” Barry said, grinning confidently. Empoleon obeyed happily, sending a powerful jet of water streaking toward Mightyena. Lucas closed his eyes, unable to watch.
When he opened them again, he saw a soaked Venus returning her Pokémon angrily. Barry was waiting expectantly, but Venus shook her head in defeat.
“What, no more Pokémon?” asked Barry in confusion.
“I didn’t think I’d need any others,” said Venus, looking just as nonplussed. “My Mightyena’s never been defeated in battle before.” She looked like she was ready to cry.
“Reality check!” said Barry. “You can’t win every time, you know! Now, if you don’t mind, these people need their Pokémon back!” Venus straightened up haughtily.
“Just because you beat me, it doesn’t mean I’m going to hand over the Pokémon. What do you take me for? We need these Pokémon to complete our research!” she argued. Barry rolled his eyes.
“Fine,” he said. “Staraptor, you’re up!” Staraptor materialised in front of Barry, screeching proudly. “Get those Poké Balls back!” Barry shouted. Staraptor took off in a flurry of wind, its large black wings beating at the air.
“Stop that Pokémon!” Venus shrieked at the slack-jawed grunts. Hurriedly, each of them pulled a Poké Ball from his or her belt and threw it. For a few seconds, the room was filled with a continuous stream of the familiar popping noises that accompanied the Poké Ball’s release mechanism. There were now four Zubat and a pair of Bronzor hovering between Staraptor and the Poké Balls. Barry grinned.
“Double Team!” Staraptor’s outline seemed to blur for a fraction of a second, and when it returned to clarity, there were two Staraptor flying toward Team Galactic. It didn’t stop there, however. Within a few seconds, there appeared to be at least a dozen Pokémon shooting across the Pokémon Centre. The Zubat and Bronzor didn’t know which one to attack, so in lieu of orders from their equally confused Trainers, they simply milled around in confusion. When the squad of Staraptor reached the Team Galactic Pokémon, all but one of them fizzled into nothing. The only remaining Staraptor – the real one – soared past them easily before swooping down and grasping the bag of Poké Balls in its powerful claws.
The bag was heavy, even for a strong Pokémon like Staraptor. It flew more slowly now, and the Zubat and Bronzor had recovered. Staraptor tried bravely to outmanoeuvre them, but the large bag made its movements sluggish. Team Galactic closed in.
“Empoleon, Hydro Pump!” ordered Barry. The Zubat and Bronzor were swept aside easily by the power of the attack. Staraptor was now free to return to Barry; it did so gratefully, its wings beating frantically to stay aloft with the bag in its claws. Happily, it dropped the bag at Barry’s feet and gladly succumbed to its Poké Ball. Barry grasped the bag – with some difficulty – and handed it to the Nurse Joys, who set about scanning each Poké Ball and returning it to its rightful owner. Barry turned to watch Team Galactic.
“You people sicken me,” he said. “Anybody who steals Pokémon for their own benefit is a crook! You’ve got ten seconds to get out of here before I-” He stopped when Venus held up a hand.
“No need,” she said regretfully. “We’ll leave peacefully. Mark my words, though, we will meet again.” She pressed a single button on the machine next to her before turning and leaving without another word. The grunts followed her, scowling. As soon as they were out of sight, the gramophone-like machine burst into blue flames. Within seconds, the metal had melted, leaving no evidence that it had been a Team Galactic device.
Lucas, after gratefully receiving his Poké Balls, came over to Barry.
“You’re good,” he said grudgingly. “I never knew you could battle like that. I certainly can’t.” Barry grinned at that.
“Oh, you can. I can tell you can. You just need to believe that you can.” Lucas frowned.
“Never mind,” Barry demurred. “Leave it for another time. Say, which way are you heading?”
“Pastoria City,” Lucas said. “The Professor wants me to challenge all the Gym Leaders,” he explained, distinctly unhappy with the prospect.
“Me too!” said Barry eagerly. “I know, we’ll go together! What do you say?” Normally, Lucas would have preferred to go it alone. But that Houndoom had scared him; not to mention the fact that Team Galactic were active again.
“All right,” he said. “We’ll leave tomorrow morning,” he suggested, remembering his experiences the last time he had been travelling at night. “Is that OK?”
“Fine by me!” Barry agreed happily.