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Old May 29th, 2013 (12:17 PM).
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Knightfall Knightfall is offline
Unforeseen Consequences
     
    Join Date: Apr 2013
    Location: Sawgrass Town
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    Nature: Modest
    Posts: 31
    Chapter Seven: Interlude
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “During the chaos following the Falling Star Incident ten years ago, tribute on the Colonists was placed at an all time high. Queen Alexandria Lucario, wife of recently crowned King Nickolas Lucario went on a mercy mission to aid her citizens in their time of need. During her stay in the Colonies, a member of the revolutionary group, ‘The Knights of Arceus’, was able to gain an audience with her and subsequently killed her and himself with several Blast Seeds. This proved to be the breaking point.
    Stricken with remorse, fury, and a desire for revenge, Nickolas levied a crushing tax on the province and all but destroyed their meager rights under Kingdom law. It was no surprise that following the brief period of disorder after the Restoration of Time two years ago that the Colonies seceded from the Kingdom after a series of violent attacks on the Boarderlands.”

    Excerpt from the Chronicles of King Nickolas Lucario, as recorded by Scizor of the Rescue Team Federation

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “I already told you: I’m closed,” Aleck growled as he dumped the day’s meager earnings into a small cloth bag. Why can’t customers come before I decide to close up shop? The shopkeeper thought bitterly.
    The Pokemon on the other side of the counter was not to be denied however.

    “Please, I only require a minute of your time,” the Pokemon said, trying to hold the shopkeeper’s attention.

    “Sorry pal, I’m not about to waste my time haggling over a price with you. I have to make a living after all. The price doesn’t change!” Aleck yelled as he systematically swiped each item off the counter and into a chest on the ground.

    “Wait, please. I just want—” the Pokemon started before being rudely cut off by the Sableye.

    “Go away, I don’t want to hear---” he grumbled as the other Pokemon calmly spoke over him.

    “There is a potential for a great profit on your part,” the Pokemon said, tapping the counter with his scythe in irritation.

    Aleck nearly dropped his sack of Bronze Poke as he whirled around to face the customer, greed flashing in his crystal eyes.

    “Great profit, you say? I’m listening,” the Sableye said, licking his lips in anticipation as piles of Gold Poke filled his thoughts.

    Gotcha. “Indeed, it requires virtually no effort on your part,” he said, casually sharpening his right scythe on his diamond-like carapace armor.


    “Hmmm,” the Sableye thought for a moment, “you say there’s a great reward, but only a little effort? What’s the catch? There’s always a catch. I’ve seen enough of these deals go sour to know that much,” Aleck responded, eyeing the Scyther closely.

    “No catch; just deliver something to a certain Pokemon. And to motivate you to complete the job properly …” the Scyther said, as he produced a small cloth bag on the counter. He watched as Aleck’s crystal eyes grew slightly brighter as he heard the audible “clink” of coins.

    “Are those what I think they are? How in Heatran’s holy mines did you get Royal Poke?” Aleck asked in mystified awe as the stranger chuckled.

    “I see your senses have not dulled at all when it comes to currency. You are correct in your guess, friend. They most certainly are Royal Poke,” the Scyther stated as he carefully sliced the sewn top of the bag open, allowing the Sableye to see the many gold doubloons contained inside.

    “W-what do I need to do?! I-I’ll do anything! Anything! Kill someone?! Hide the body?! There’s some caves nearby in the mountains, no one will ever find the--” Aleck stuttered as the amount of money in front on him nearly gave him a heart attack. The Scyther stopped him before his babbling could continue with a gentle tap with the broad side of his scythe.

    “Nothing so morbid, comrade. Just deliver this parcel to a Pokemon I will disclose to you shortly, after that, you are free to enjoy your reward in any greed-filled way you like,” the Scyther reassured Aleck as he used his scythes to carefully place down a folded set of papers tied with Caterpie silk.

    “I’ll do it! Just one thing though. What is in this parcel you speak of?” Aleck asked as he reached toward the knot on the papers. The stranger swung a scythe down onto the counter, missing the Sableye’s curious claws by millimeters.

    “No. You are not to open it. You are to deliver it and then leave. Nothing more, nothing less. Or else no reward. Got it?” the Scyther growled coldly as he slowly removed his embedded scythe from the wooden counter with a loud crack as the table surface splintered.

    “Y-yes, of course. You shall not be disappointed, my good customer! Weheheheh!”

    “Shut up. Just listen and I’ll tell you where you’re supposed to go.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “ZT! No. This can’t be! BZT!” Gear exclaimed as his crimson optics scanned over the printed text for the fifth time.
    He glanced over to his head deputy; the sentient amalgamation of three Magnemites had already read through the context of the report and was awaiting his superior’s orders.

    “Sir? Do I muster the squads? ZT!” the Magneton asked, idly spinning his magnets as Gear slowly rechecked the parchment for any possible sign of error or misprint.

    “No. Stay put, Axis. You will do nothing until I give the order. Got it? ZT!” Gear snapped as he started hovering in circles around the room in worry.

    “B-but, sir? That report. ZT! I-it’s from the Inner Council! BZT! We can’t ignore an order from them! They’ll deactivate us for dereliction of duty! ZBT!” the deputy screeched as his leader stopped his midair pacing.

    “I don’t care what the report says, Axis! ZTT! They are all wrong this time! I won’t do it! BZT!” Gear screeched, his speech processors straining as they struggled to vocalize the officer’s emotions.

    “Is that so, Gear?” a voice, a bitter mixture of royal dignity, arrogance, and subtle charm sounded from behind the Magnezone. Gear turned around in a circle to face the unauthorized intruder.

    A large falcon stood in the doorway, gold glinted off his entire covering of metal feathers. He slowly walked into the room, as if reluctant to step on “common” ground. An honor guard made up of five Magnemites silently orbited around him, ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

    “Richelieu, it’s been a while hasn’t it?” Gear growled, the static buzz foregone in his hatred.
    The Skarmory chuckled as he strutted across Gear’s office.

    “It’s ‘Governor’ now, actually. Governor Richelieu, it just rolls off the tongue, or rather, the speech processor, does it not? I was appointed by the king just last week,” he corrected as he eyed Gear disapprovingly.

    “I don’t care if it’s ‘Lord’, ‘Governor’ or ‘Janitor’. I do, however, want to know why you’re gracing me with your presence,” Gear grunted as the Skarmory smirked.

    “Now, now, Gear. There is no need for such harsh vocabulary. My business in this backwater village does not require your authorization; I am here on assignment from the Inner Council. If you really must know, it was all because of a small incident you had in the Western Quarter. I believe you know what I am talking about,” the golden bird said as he slowly walked over the Gear’s desk, the bodyguards repelling the chief officer a safe distance away from the governor.

    “ZT! We were able to contain the incident before it grew out of control, if you remember correctly. BZ!” Gear stated as the bird faced him once again.

    “That may be, but it does not change the fact that Colonial terrorists were able to enter your city unnoticed by you or your forces. I’m simply here on behalf of the Kingdom to ensure you are up to the task of protecting it,” Richelieu replied, lowering his neck to stare at the Magnezone.

    Gear let out a sound similar to grating machinery as he answered the Skarmory, “We might be even more capable if your Council stopped sending us lists of potential traitors that we have to arrest. Jack, Rhone, Flare, Clip … they were on your lists for no good reason! ZT! Yet we arrested them without giving them a chance to explain the accusations brought against them! BZZT! And your most recent list; those Pokemon are all innocent! ZT!” Gear buzzed, directing the governor’s attention to the piece of parchment on the desk.
    Richelieu gently pierced the report on the desk with the tip of his steel wing and held it up to his eyes as to read it.

    “I do not make the lists Gear, and the ones that are charged with that responsibility put the names you see on it for a good reason. These individuals have obviously been acting against the wishes of the monarchy, so it is your job to capture them for further questioning,” he said, shaking the paper off his wing as if it was a vile substance.

    “ZT! Well, I refuse to do so! The list is flawed; the Pokemon on it are innocent,” Gear stated as all three of his magnets whirled around erratically.

    The Skarmory slowly turned to face the chief officer. His eyes glinting with a spark of fury at the officer’s words.

    “You … Are you saying you’re disobeying a royal order?” Richelieu asked incredulously, his honor guards buzzing to themselves frantically. Axis backed away from Gear and the governor, bracing himself for the worst.

    “Yes. Yes, I am. ZT!” Gear said, hovering so that his red center optic aligned with the Skarmory’s yellow ones.

    “Did you forget your place, Gear? You and every single other Magne-class unit were built to serve the Kingdom; that is your only purpose! I’m going to give you five milliseconds to rescind your previous statement or else I will assure your immediate deactivation,” Richelieu said, jabbing the tip of his wing at Gear’s metal front.

    “ZT! I am a Pokemon sworn to protect the citizens of Loyalty Square, nothing more, nothing less. I am not some ‘machine’ under the control of the Kingdom, and I will not be treated as such, even by you, Governor. ZT! I will do what it takes to ensure that my citizens’ liberties are not compromised by anyone, much less the discolored, sniveling bureaucrat that is currently polluting my town with his presence. ZT!”
    Richelieu recoiled instantly as if the officer’s words were hot steam.

    “And I am Governor of the Between lands, and as such I am enacting Executive Order Forty-Seven. Guards, dispose of this defective automaton,” the riled governor squawked as he retreated a safe distance from the inevitable fight.

    The five guards suddenly halted their protective orbit around the Skarmory and advanced toward Gear, their magnets sparking with electricity.
    Gear backed away from the guards, analyzing his combatants while also readying an attack of his own. Axis let out a screech in terror and fled to the side of the room nearest the door as the fight commenced.

    The Magnezone let out the first shot, a concussion of supersonic air that tore a magnet off one of the guards. Before the others had time to retaliate, he sent duel bolts of electricity into their pack, scattering the units as they swerved to dodge the attack.

    Static accompanied the many curses and swears that bounced off the stone walls of the office chamber as Gear turned in a complete circle, firing off quick bursts of electricity from all three of his magnets, keeping the assailants at bay.

    “Destroy him! The Kingdom cannot have such abominations within it’s work forc—Ah!” Richelieu screeched as Gear shot a bolt of plasma at him. The bird ducked to the side as the attack burned its way into the stone.

    That attack cost Gear as one of the Magnemite managed to land a shot on his auxiliary eye causing his vision to fizzle slightly before stabilizing. The Magnemites charged Gear, their magnets attaching to the Magnezone’s body.

    Before he could repulse, them they let loose bursts of electricity that coursed through the officer’s body. Gear swerved wildly in agony, slamming his body into the walls in an attempt to scrape off the Magnemite.
    One of the guards let out a garbled scream shortly before he was violently crushed against the wall, his core exploding in a burst of electricity and wiring.

    After seeing their comrade destroyed inches from their eyes, the other guards instinctively let up on their assault and retreated. Gear hovered low in the air, heavy static “breathing” emanating from his speakers as he tried to recover from the near short circuit.

    The guards quickly regrouped and charged Gear once again. However, this time the battered officer was anticipating such a move. He aimed his magnets at the four remaining guards, and blasted them into the wall with an opposite magnetic charge.

    “ZT! You can’t ZT! beat me ZT! Rich. ZT! I will not let you destroy my town! BZZZT!” Gear shouted, as the Magnemite slowly raised themselves up off the ground.

    Not giving them a chance to recover, Gear fired another round of energy at the units. The electricity quickly arced through the air like lightning and impacted the group of guards. It was all that was needed to put them out of commission. The increased voltage caused their center cores to smoke and explode.

    “ZZZT! My eye! My ZBZBZBT! eye! SZSZZS!” one guard, the only one still alive from the squad, screeched as he whirled around in the air in agony. Fire and smoke hissing from his destroyed center. Fortunately, his suffering was short-lived as his core detonated
    with a flash of fire. Small bits of metal shell scattered throughout the office.


    His enemies eliminated, Gear rested his chassis near to the ground as he tried to recover his lost energy. His central eye almost shuttered as his systems went into power-saving mode. His rest was interrupted by the grating sound of iron scratching on iron. His gaze wearily looked up at Richelieu, who was slowly clapping his wings together.

    “I’m impressed Gear, you managed to hold your own against my most incompetent set of guards. However, there is still the issue of your deactivation that needs to be dealt with; insubordination will not be tolerated,” he said as he walked a wide circle around the injured officer, kicking aside the shattered remains of his honor guard as he went.

    “Now listen closely Gear, if you can. I can call my seven other units waiting in the hallway in here, and I think you will know how that will end, Gear. I’m not going to be dance around the issue here, either you accept that I am in control here now, or else I will have you killed. What’s your choice, Gear?” the Skarmory asked, his ultimatum working its way through Gear’s damaged core.

    “Bzttzt … Errrt … Hzzrt … ZT!” he groaned in response, his voice distorted by his destroyed speakers.

    “Erm, what was that, Gear?” Richelieu asked, leaning towards the nearly broken unit.

    Gear struggled to reply. After a series of loud static noises, he finally aligned his speakers.
    “BZT! What I meant to say was: FZZZT! You!” he shouted as he suddenly rose off the ground and rushed the royal official.

    Richelieu’s squawk of surprise was cut short as he was tackled by the equivalent of an enraged Aggron. His golden outer wings crumpled as he was crushed against the stone.
    Gear let loose a quick burst of electricity from his exposed circuits, jolting the governor as he struggled to break free.

    “SHHZ! Never. Threaten. My. Town. ZT! Again! DZT!” Gear stated, his mechanical breath heavy with static and exhaustion. Just then, the twin wooden doors that separated the office from the main prison burst open as no less then twelve Magnemites rushed into the chamber, knocking Axis aside as they surrounded Gear and the governor. Some where under Richelieu’s employment while others still pledged a grudging loyalty to Gear.

    “S-see? He’s clearly corrupt! He’s trying to kill me!” the metal falcon screamed, feigning innocence, as Gear tried to pin him harder against the wall.

    “ZT! He’s tryiNG to KILl inNOcent PoKEMon! BBRZT!” Gear grunted as his processors’ volume controls failed completely.
    The horde of hovering Magnemite silently watched the exchange as the two struggled to sway them to their cause.

    “Don’t let him kill me. Please, I-I don’t want to die!” Richelieu squawked pitifully as Gear sent another jolt of electricity through the bird.

    “I can promote you all! Any position in the force! It’s yours! Pay raise included!” the governor bargained as Gear slowly upped the voltage.

    That offer did it for the guard corp. Gear’s optic widened with horror as one unit after another let out a yell and tackled the officer, trying to pull him off the Skarmory with their magnets. They all piled on their former chief officer, eventually pealing him off Richelieu.

    As soon as the governor crawled to safety, the swarm started attacking Gear. Ripping off his metal armor and frying his inner wiring around his core.

    Gear nearly blacked out, his core overwhelmed by the amount of surging electricity coursing through it. Just as his systems nearly failed him, he found the strength to charge up a magnetic pulse blast.

    Like before, the guards were forced off Gear’s chassis. However, they recovered and slowly circled around the barely levitating Magnezone. Gear scanned the situation: he’d lost control of his units, Axis, displaying his loyalty as always, was shaking in fear in the corner, and Richelieu wanted him deactivated all because he had refused to obey yet another falsified kill list. Overall, the scenario didn’t look good.

    Richelieu had been right; there was only one way he was getting out of here: his core ripped out and destroyed. He could not calculate another alternative, if he somehow managed to win this battle, more Magnemites would pour in from the depths of the prison to dispose of him.

    He knew how it was going to end for him, but he would end it on his terms.
    With a buzzing sigh of acceptance, he closed his center optic as he concentrated what little energy remained in his power cells into his slowly spinning magnets.

    Time seemed to grow slow as sparks danced around the three appendages, rapidly building up a charge. The rebellious units only just now seemed to realize what their former commander was doing, and it was too late for them to change course.

    With a pained screech, Gear’s magnets became orbs of white-hot light, as they lit up with electricity . Richelieu’s yellow eyes widened for a split second as he scrambled along the floor with his crumpled wings, hiding behind the cowering Magneton.

    “BBBZZTTTGGRRHHZZZTT!!!!” Gear screeched as his optic flared a bright red; streams of code flashed before his eye as the built up electricity made his body the equivalent of an exploding star.

    “ZT! H-He’s Discharging!!! VT!” one of the units screamed as Gear’s body exploded in an almighty wave of pure electricity. The supersonic energy electrified the swarm of Magnemites surrounding the officer.

    The arcing voltage ripped apart the mob of Magnemite that were within close proximity to Gear. Their piercing screeches were forever silenced as one by one their cores exploded in a blast of fire and sparks. Shrapnel whizzed through the air and embedded itself in the stone walls with as if they were clay.

    The smoke had not yet cleared when a metal-plated avian head popped up from behind the shuddering Magneton deputy. His eyes started watering as the acrid smell of smoldering wiring assaulted his nose. Unscathed from Gear’s attack, courtesy of Axis, Richelieu got to his feet and dusted his wings off.

    He glanced around the destroyed room taking in the full extent of Gear’s attack. Every inch of the stone walls were either filled with black scorches or pocket marks from the plasma volleys. The ceiling rafters were cracked and looked ready to collapse. The handsome, wooden desk was aflame and in ruins.

    Pity, it was truly an excellent piece of craftsmanship, the Skarmory thought as he walked out from behind a slowly recovering Axis. Richelieu strode into the center of the room, kicking aside the sizzling remains of the guards who saved his life as if they were nothing.

    He heard the commotion of the legion of other units from down the hallway; they would be here soon enough and he would have to explain exactly what happened here to them all.

    He approached Gear’s ruined chassis cautiously. After examining Gear’s burnt metal body he let out a snort.
    “Funny how all fairy tales of rebellions succeeding are just that,” he said with a mirthful chuckle.

    Suddenly, Gear’s body let out a spark, followed by several wires arcing with electricity as Gear’s cracked center eye slowly lit up once more. Gear’s processor was reeling; against his calculations, he had somehow survived the suicidal attack.

    “Ahh, decided to join us once again in the realm of the living, I see. You are one tough Pokemon, I will give you that,” Richelieu said as he slowly walked right in front of Gear’s eye. Gear didn’t even have the energy to respond if he wanted to, but he wasn’t going to give the bird the satisfaction of begging for his life.

    “I’m sorry it has to end like this, Gear. All you had to do was obey your superior’s order, but you refused. This is your reward, I suppose. I pray your forgiveness,” the governor stated as he lifted one of his talons and gripped the sides of Gear’s center optic, cracking it even more.

    The Skarmory pulled on the eye, ignoring Gear’s weak screeches of protest. To Gear it felt as if his brain was being ripped from his head. The fallen officer let all pretenses of dignity behind as his buzzes of pain swiftly turned into screeches of agony.

    Richelieu flapped his metal wings as his talon crunched down on the optic and tugged harder on it, exposing bits of internal circuitry. Gear scanned around for anything that could save him, but there was nothing. His power was completely gone, Axis was shaking in a corner, and his units had turned against him. He was utterly defeated.

    With one final yank, Gear’s center eye, and the core behind it came loose. Richelieu staggered backwards as the cylindrical core came out in a shower of sparks and trailing wires. The governor turned the officer’s core over in his talon, and gave a satisfied huff before tossing it away dismissively. The metal cylinder clattered on the floor, before rolling to a stop before Axis’s hovering form.
    As soon as the deputy saw his former commander’s core, he came out of the state of horrified shock he was in.

    “W-what have ZT! you done!” Axis squeaked. His magnets discharging small sparks as he hovered in front of the Skarmory.

    The golden bird pushed him aside. “Gear proved to be incompetent and failed to perform his basic duties as a unit of the Kingdom. I used my authority as governor to dispose of him as commander and take complete control of Loyalty’s security to ensure stability in my province.”

    Richelieu narrowed his piercing, yellow eyes at Axis. “Transmit that message to every Magnemite within range. And as soon as you are finished with that, I want you to muster the hunting squads. It is my understanding that we have traitors in our midst that must be dealt with.”

    The Magneton buzzed in discomfort as he turned his side magnets up in an affirming salute. Pleased with the display of loyalty, Richelieu strutted out of the ruined office and into the assembly areas of the prison leaving Axis alone.

    “H-have to ZT! f-follow orders. Follow ZT! orders …”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If Leo hadn’t collapsed on his shoulder as soon as they started to head back, Jay knew he would have put the Charmeleon under a military tribunal. Frustrated with the fact that he had to carry his wayward team member over two miles through the forest, Jay tried his best to make sure Leo knew his displeasure with a new insult every step he took.

    Leo, however, never seemed to notice the Riolu’s anger with him as he drifted in and out of consciousness. When he was awake, he only seemed able to mutter a few disjointed phrases before slipping back into whatever fever dream his was stuck inside of.

    Jay began to grow a little concerned when Leo started mumbling about “… not the first…” and other nonsense. If that wasn’t blatantly foreshadowing a bad future, Jay didn’t know what was. With a grunt Jay shifted his partner higher on his shoulders and continued his trek.

    The hike through the woods shouldn’t have taken any longer then half an hour, but due to Kelly’s desire to check on Leo every few minutes, it ended up taking much more time to complete. So when they finally entered their base, Jay roughly plopped Leo down against the wall and went to find something to wake him up.

    “Jay, if you hit him with that, I swear to Raikou I will zap you into next year!” Kelly snapped as Jay slowly lowered the Cleanse Orb clutched in his paw.
    It wasn’t enough that he and Kelly had basically gotten the base for free, it had been fully stocked with several crates of expensive Orbs of all sorts. Luck had somehow favored them that day, possibly trying to make up for the hardship they both suffered before.

    “Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to hit ...” Jay said before trailing off as he felt the temperature of the room drop dramatically. His breath turned to mist as he quickly glanced around for the source of the cold, but found nothing out of place in their home.

    “Did Kyurem drop by for a visit?” he asked with a feeble chuckle. He waited a few seconds for Kelly to respond with a standard groan or something of the sort, but when none came, he turned around to her. She was looking at him with an agitated glare, but she did not move.
    It was as if time had decided to pause around everything but him.

    “What…?” Jay asked, cautiously waving a paw in front of her face. Nothing. Not even a blink to indicate she was still aware of anything. As confused as any normal Pokemon would be in this circumstance, he ran through the door of the base and looked at the surrounding area.

    Oak and pine trees stood frozen mid-sway, a distant flock of Pidove were locked in their migratory “V” formation, and leaves were paused in the air as the now dead wind blew them across the ground. The entire world, it seemed, had stopped. Except for him.
    Bewildered, he returned inside and looked toward Leo and Kelly.

    The Charmeleon was still slumped against the wall, stuck in the unconscious state he had been in previously. Taking a timid step closer to his teammate, he saw that not even his shallow heartbeat was still going.
    What the heck going on here? Jay wondered as he forced himself not to start panicking. It was then he heard a voice he hadn’t expected to hear again in his life.

    ”Why hello, Jay. It’s been a while. Since our last ‘discussion’, has it not?” the voice said as the entire room was instantly flooded by a dark mist that poured in from the windows.

    The dim light of the Luminous Orb shards was completely covered up. The only source of light being the gleam of a pair of golden eyes. Jay involuntarily shivered from the increased chill as Kelly and Leo disappeared from his view.

    “Y-you! Why are you here?!” Jay shouted into the wall of shadow, his voice seemed like it was confined to his mind, like it wasn’t making any audible noise. The voice gave a slight chuckle as the eyes faded, but the voice began to resonate from all around the Riolu.

    “You are not pleased to see me after so long? I was merely being polite when we first conversed. I thought you might want to speak with the one who saved your life … Well, whether you want to or not, I believe it is time for a little ‘heart to heart’ concerning recent events, ” the voice said, taking a hurt tone as Jay stamped the ground with his foot.

    “Saved me?! I don’t think so. I was doing fine until you showed up,” Jay retorted as the voice let out a roar of shrill laughter. Jay was forced to cover his ears as he waited for the voice to regain its composure.

    “I … hehe… I am sorry for that. Truly. It is very unprofessional of someone as high caliber as myself. However, I do recall that imperial soldiers were very close to catching you. If I hadn’t decided to intervene, you would have almost certainly have been incarcerated for your crimes,” the voice pointed out casually, causing Jay to growl in anger.

    “Hmph! So what? What does that have to do with anything?” Jay asked as the temperature dropped another few degrees.

    “I believe that the price of your preservation is enough reason to listen. You still owe a debt to me for your own survival for … plucking you from the midst of the chaos in Silver that day,” the voice responded, a hint of frustration breaking through its calm manner.


    “You’re the one who got me out?” Jay asked in a mixture of confusion and awe.

    “If you’d simply allow me time to speak, your questions will be answered ... more or less.”

    “What did you have to do with that day? Based on your answer, I may have no choice but to hurt you,” Jay threatened as the voice chuckled again.

    “Such a temper, you really should work on that. That day when I saw your … predicament ... well, I could not simply let fate take its course. It wasn’t your fault, I firmly believe that. Nevertheless, history cannot be easily reversed. The status quo ante could never be again,” the voice explained. Jay remained silent after this, which the voice took as a cue to continue.

    “I saw potential in you, Jay, much like your friend. You and he share tenacity, even when the odds appear to be overwhelming. It was that trait that I foresaw a good use for in these troubled times.”

    “……Leo? What do you have to do with him?” Jay asked softly as the voice all too gladly responded.

    “When I found him, he was on the verge of starvation in the Fields, how he got there even I do not know. However, I saw that he could be useful if he was guided in the right direction. Using my abilities, I altered the nature of the dungeon and allowed him to escape … right where you and the Jolteon were patrolling for minimum wage.”

    “You …You did that?

    “Indeed. And now I must alter the topic of our discussion ever so slightly. If I may be so bold as to ask you a simple question?

    “… fine. What do you want?” Jay growled as he grudgingly allowed the enigma to explain itself.

    “From what I’ve observed over the past few hours, you have been … troubled by your teammate’s actions as of late, yes? His mental state, as it were, correct?” the being inquired, its voice softly echoing off the dark walls of wherever “here” was.

    “Not so much troubled as annoyed …Wait? What would you know about that? We haven’t told anyone about that. What does Leo have to do with you?” Jay asked suspiciously as the darkness rippled violently. Jay clutched the Cleanse Orb even more tightly, threatening to accidentally activate the sensitive crystal.

    “Well, you can say that Leo and I have had a … rocky business relationship. He is one of the many focal points of my observation, but regrettably, in his case, direct intervention has been required on multiple occasions to ensure that plans continue as they were. He has been somewhat … resistant of the changes I suggested. So I, in an act of desperation, imposed them without his consent and guided him through the changes more or less successfully,” the darkness responded, the business-like nature it had originally reappearing.

    “Wait. So you’re the reason why he’s like this? Paranoid, angry, and insane? It’s your fault?!” Jay exclaimed, as the mist let out a low chuckle.

    “You allot me too much credit in your partner’s mental downfall, Jay. I tried to prevent his imminent demise. An endeavor that was successful,” the being with the golden eyes retorted, staring at Jay once more from within the mist. Jay didn’t talk back, his thoughts were running wild with this revelation about his teammate.
    This is why Leo is this way. This creepy son of---

    “Manners, Jay. Civilized Pokemon have no use for language of that caliber,” the creature scolded Jay’s thoughts. Jay scowled at the eyes.

    “If your father knew you possessed such a colorful vocabulary he would probably have you exiled,” the Pokemon noted as he let out a small laugh at his own personal joke.

    “Never mind that. Why are you here? I think you’ve said all that you’ve needed to say,” Jay said, changing the course of their conversation.

    “Ah, yes. My reason for troubling your mortal mind with my higher plane of existence. I am here to make sure that you stay well out of my affairs. That includes your plans for ‘interviewing’ Leo. He is under my influence, and I do not need you interfering more than what is absolutely necessary,” the being ordered, its tone hardening almost immediately.

    “What are you talking about?!” Jay asked. Without an answer from the voice, the dark mist began retreating and Jay suddenly dropped to his knees as his mind was violently released from the creature’s control.

    Jay’s world began to tilt and swim. The dark walls of his vision disintegrated into the vague shapes of the center room of the base. Colors blurred as his hallucination collapsed and reality returned with a fresh wave of nausea.
    Retching on the floor, his vision slowly pieced itself back together.

    “Remember, the sacrifice of a few is required for the good of everyone.”

    “Jay?! Talk to me! What’s wrong?!” Kelly asked, standing right above the Riolu with an Oran Berry in her paw. Groaning in pain, Jay snatched the berry out of her paw without even looking at her. Another round of coughing hit him as his head finally cleared enough for him to actually see the room.

    There was no sign of the temperature drop he experienced earlier, or of everything suddenly freezing. It was as if it had never happened. Cautiously getting to his feet, he glanced around the base. Leo was still on the floor passed out, Kelly was waiting his response, and everything else seemed exactly the same as it had been.

    “W-we’re not. Not going to –!” Jay began to say before doubling over as a spark of pain arced through his head once more.

    “Jay!” Kelly yelped as she ran up to her partner, her mind pulling up various treatment options, or Pokemon nearby that could help. When she put a paw on his arm Jay roughly pushed it away with a grunt.

    “I’m fine! J-just no. No more. We leave him alone,” Jay struggled to say as he weakly pointed a paw at the unconscious Leo.

    “Wait! We need to find out —” Jay abruptly cut her off, pressing his paws against his temples.
    “No! Don’t ask him anything! Nothing!”

    Kelly stood there in disbelief as Jay slowly regained his composure. “What happened to you?”

    “I-I’m fine… Sorry, just … please. Don’t ask anything right now. Let’s just get some sleep, please.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “This is no accident, no coincidence, no way this can be: someone knows our trade secrets. They are trying to move Phase Two along ahead of schedule. This individual will ruin it all. This cannot happen. This will not happen. I refuse to allow it …”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Kelly drifted along the edge of an uneasy sleep, her head trying to make some sort of sense of what had happened to both Leo and Jay. Leo was her primary concern as whatever was troubling him was going to kill him eventually, but Jay’s sudden shift from wanting to tear Leo apart for information to insisting on leaving him alone was far too weird to be a coincidence.

    As she drifted along her troubled rest, she was unaware of the trace amounts of darkened mist slowly congregating around her. Her nose twitched slightly as the most closed in on her head. A low ramble of strange words in a language she never knew existed was all she heard before the voice made its presence known and the nightmare embraced her fully.

    “Introductions are never my strong point, so I will skip those formal pleasantries as this is no occasion to stand on ceremony.” The Electric Type’s body twitched in her sleep as the voice continued its soft speech.

    “I come with two urgent messages that you might find being worth listening to. The first being that you must not worry about your teammates. Though their actions may seem self-destructive, I assure you, they are in good hands.”
    Kelly wasn’t aware of the voice, but she subconsciously picked up every word it said.

    “Your memory will not retain this part of the conversation, but I am guiding them both on path that will lead to relative salvation. I understand your desire to protect them since they are the closest thing you have to a family, but interfering in my business operation would cause more harm than good.” The voice went silent for a few minutes as it browsed through her memories and experiences as if they were a card catalogue.

    “You were selectively chosen to fulfill this role, but if your curiosity gets the better of you, it will kill you much like the figurative cat. I will not allow the mercy of being both alive and dead; I will ensure that you die. So, please, for your own safety, remain out of my dealings with Leo.”
    The voice paused, as if it was trying to recall if there was anything else on its agenda.

    “Oh! Yes, of course. I nearly forgot, almost a fatal mistake on my part, I regret. There is a hunter squad of Magnemite on their way here. They will be crashing down the door to this base in about fifty-five seconds.”

    With that final phrase, the dark mist over her mind evaporated instantly. Her eyes shot open as she gasped for air. She looked quickly around her room for the source of the haunting voice she vaguely remembered hearing in her nightmare.

    As she struggled to remember what the voice had mentioned she heard a noise that was far worse than what that voice had put her through. Her eyes widened as the faint grating sound of whirring machinery penetrated the air.

    “So wake up, my dear. Wake up, and flee the corruption.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    End Chapter Seven
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Author’s Notes:

    This chapter proved to be strange to me as I wanted to incorporate some necessary backstory, some character-building, and also a good transition to the next big arc of the story. I think I was able to pull it off reasonably enough, but I want your opinions on it.
    As usual, I encourage silent or new readers to make themselves known. Every post helps, honestly.

    Well, that’s about all I have to say. Hope you enjoyed the chapter, and thanks again to my brilliant beta reader, and my friends on this site.

    Knightfall signing off…
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