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Old August 19th, 2014 (3:43 PM). Edited August 31st, 2017 by Publications.
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    Of Knights and Pawns

    "A deal with no consequences is like a lion without claws. That's why when I was offered a way to hold on to my life, I begrudgingly accepted, knowing that someday my choice would come round and bite me in the ass."

    Chapter 1: No Strings Attached

    I pulled my covers over my head, yearning for the false sense of protection that they would offer without fail during my childhood. But, I knew my effort was in vain. I had to admit that my chances of survival were slim; after all this wasn't Hoenn with its nice sunny beaches, constant summer, and tanned beauties. No, this was Sinnoh, the harsh and unforgiving north, where the cold would kill you in minutes if you weren’t prepared. And naturally the women weren't much to look at once they piled layers of clothing upon themselves. And so I resolved that I needed to survive the night even if it was just to see Hoenn babes.
    Shame that my pokémon had gone missing and it was my first night camping out.

    Hastily I crawled out of my sleeping bag and made my way towards the thicket to find my pokémon. I was a city boy born and raised and naturally my heart was racing, there could be anything in the dark and my struggles would be futile if it decided to attack. As I neared the tree line I decided to turn my flashlight on hoping that I would spot any assailant prior to entering the woods. The light beam illuminated the tree line and revealed a dark trail, I knew what it was yet felt the need to have a closer inspection. I edged cautiously towards the trail, the scent confirmed my thoughts. Blood.

    "There's as good a clue as any," I mumbled as I concluded that my pokémon may be severely injured or worse. I gulped as I pushed ahead, whatever fate Chubbs met would reach me if I didn’t act decisively.
    Chubbs was my zigzagoon and companion since birth. Admittedly he was rather dumb but in spite of that he was unwaveringly loyal. Thought I lived a largely sheltered life Chubbs offered me all the joys and comfort that a regular kid would have. Since we started our journey he had grown rather keen on chasing a particular wild bidoof every time we crossed paths. Presumably the two had managed to get into a fight. Knowing this I was more than a bit antsy at his absence.

    I tried my best to not let my emotions cloud my judgement. I reasoned it would be best if I stayed close to the clearing so that I would have a clear course to follow in the event of a chase. Though I doubted my ability to outrun even a bidoof. Regardless I pressed along, following the trail as best as I could and while doing so I picked up a large branch out of from the ground for some sense of security, though I knew it was useless.
    A cold breeze blew through the woods and I felt it to my bone. I didn’t remember it being this cold. Reflexively I rubbed at my arms and realized that I was wearing nothing but my boxers into a forest abound with wild pokémon. Which was rather fortunate as I usually slept naked.

    Progress was slow but measured by the increasing stench of blood, which was hard to grow accustomed to. But I persevered as I sensed how close I was getting. I had in fact seen a few tufts of brown fur strewn around recently, a sign of my pokémon as well as a battle And so the need for urgency ushered me to take less care in my steps and walk faster. Which inevitably led to me tripping on a root, and come crashing to the ground.

    A loud thud must have resounded through the silence of the forest, which happened to be unusually quiet. I didn't damage anything from the fall and my branch was just an arm’s reach away from me lying beneath a tree. I glanced around to make sure that no pokémon was searching for a midnight snack. Finding none I edged towards the branch and as I reached for it the canopy yielded to the weight of hundreds of starlys that poured over me.

    I screamed as I leaped out of the way. Though I evaded most of the downpour a few bodies still fell on top of me and I could feel that they were still warm.

    My heart was thundering in my ears as I bolted back the way I came. Hearing no sounds behind me I slowed down and looked at myself. There was no blood or gore on me, which meant the starlys may not have been dead as I had originally thought.
    I turned around and examined the bodies from a distance. All of them appeared to have no injuries but their bodies lay still on the ground. I edged closer step by step and poked the nearest starly.
    No response.
    However, that wasn't the disturbing part. Whatever had done this had clearly done so out of malice and used some supernatural means to kill all these starlys at once. I gulped realizing that should we cross paths, it was very likely that I would meet the same fate. My mind was blank and I was at a loss. Defeated I turned around and began to walk back along the path I took. Each step brought me closer to the familiarity of my campsite.

    When I returned to camp I expected to be greeted by the company of misery for giving up in my search so early. Yet I could make out a small figure waiting by my bag. I approached it hoping that it would be my pokémon. I flashed my light on the figure and was taken aback by what I saw. A zigzagoon looked back at me, and I knew for sure that it was my zigzagoon, Chubbs. I could feel tears well up in my eyes as waves of endorphins coursed through me. I spread my arms and fell onto my knees as I expected him to come rushing towards me.

    But, no.

    He remained motionless, his eyes stared back at me. And within moments it was clear, that his stare was dead. Not a flicker of life.

    My arms dropped to my sides at that sudden realization. There he was, devoid of life without a blemish on his soft fur.

    Every nerve of my body fired to propel me onto my feet and out of the clearing in mere seconds.

    Manic laughter erupted from the woods around me as I bolted towards the road. The fluttering of hundreds of wings filled the air above me. The air was thickening, making each breath harder to draw in than the last. I could feel the heavy hand of death closing in on my life.

    My legs struggled to keep up with my drive to evade death as thoughts of death and defeat crossed my mind. The road provided no safety for there was darkness all about as the flock of starlys blotted out the moon and any light it would afford me. And the laughter only seemed to magnify by degrees, boring into my skull urging me to tear my own head off to rid myself of it. My death was assured it seemed to taunt, and frankly I didn't doubt a single word of it.

    With death at the door, I realized my incompetence and shortcomings. All the opportunities I wish I had taken and the mistakes I hadn’t made. But what stung the most wasn’t what I had behind me. It was what I wanted from life and would never get to have. I wanted to live.

    But, desire alone never conquered any barrier. Instead, it was the adrenaline coursing through my veins that forced me to press on. I would run till my legs failed me, for giving in was not an option. Not after I had put so much on the line to set out on this journey.

    A bright light illuminated the night in tandem with my new found resolve, and blinded me forcing me to either stop or run blindly. Of which I chose the latter, and predictably fell to the ground.

    Before I could open my eyes I felt the air abruptly thin out to its normal consistency and the laughter vanished along with the wings above me. I wanted to cry in relief but the better part of me knew that there was still more to be done.

    As my eyes adjusted to the new lighting I could make out a man walking towards me with a flashlight in hand. Instinctively, I put one hand between the light and my eyes and the other over my family jewels. The man noticed this and lowered his flashlight. I dropped my raised hand on top of my other hand and gazed at the man.
    The first thing that stood out about him was his pale skin, shining like a beacon in the dark. As he approached me I noticed he was quite old and tufts of white hair poked out from below his brown hat. Despite his age he had a spring in his step that would shame even younger folk. He was wearing a tattered old brown suit that appeared slightly too large for him.

    "Why hello, almost naked youngster!" he said as his wrinkly lips curled into a smile, "I didn't expect to run into anyone outside on this ... lonely night."

    His words sent shivers down my spine, they had a hollow and wispy ring to them. I got onto my feet so I could meet him eye to eye. His eyes were a deep brown, almost a dark red.

    "Show some decency!" he exclaimed.

    "Oh, yeah. Sorry." I muttered as my hands returned to their original position.

    "Anyway, before I was interrupted by your barbaric conduct I was going to say, you look so scared and alone. Defenseless. Stranded even," he said slowly as he licked his lips in anticipation, "Your life just hangs in the balance, ready for the taking of anyone who so pleases."

    I took a large step away from him. His cryptic words were unsettling and I felt the need to put some distance between us in case he tried something funny.

    "Not so fast!" he said as he closed the distance faster than I could react. "You know there is no escape. Unless being found a gutted pig is your fancy." He laughed as he grinned at me.

    "Look sir, I don't know who you are. You don't know who I am. So, how about both of us just turn around and go along our merry way?" I proposed to the man in the best diplomatic voice I could muster, which wasn’t much considering

    The old man chuckled and said, "Nonsense! I couldn't leave you out here for the scavengers to feast on!" He draped his arm over my shoulder before continuing in a lower voice, "Brother, comrade, friend… whatever! Something is out there tonight… and it is on the hunt."

    "What do you mean?" I questioned him. He seemed to have some knowledge about the recent happenings in the woods and I tried to pry some out.

    He chuckled once more as if it were obvious, much to my disdain. He replied, "Something is… different about the woods tonight, if you live in the wilds you develop a sense for these things. Likewise, I can tell that your pokémon is... dead," The final bit startled me and I took a small step back. He noticed this and explained further "Lots of pokémon are dying tonight. Without a mark to bear as if the cause was some internal meltdown of sorts. And I assure you, that your loss is not the only one that will be remembered on this night. In fact, you yourself are quite lucky to survive," he smiled as he said this.

    "What do you mean?" I replied.

    "Let's just say that there won't be many that see the break of dawn."

    I gulped. Shit had gone down in the woods and I survived, not by my own guile but this man’s intervention.

    "How many hours until the sun rises?" I asked, hoping that sunrise would yield some safety.

    "A few," he simply stated, "I'd advise you however... to return to the safety of Jubilife."

    As we spoke the man had led me up a hill and on cue bright shimmering lights flooded the horizon. Tall peaks of steel and glass reached high into the air bearing the ensigns of their respective owners. The skyline was impressive, it spanned most of the plateau that Jubilife rested on and made the entire plateau seem to glow. But amongst all the buildings one stood out the most. It easily towered over the neighbouring skyscrapers and bore a large hologram of a green rice bowl with chopsticks lying in it. Alae Rigel.

    Despite the disastrous start to my quest I wasn’t exactly keen to return as a failure who has no choice but to return to a mundane life with a negligent mother and an overbearing father.

    "But, I know you have other intentions," he seemed to have read my mind prompting me to glance suspiciously at him. "And, I can help you with that," he said as he smiled and looked into my eyes. "If you head to Oreburgh unarmed, you’ll be as dead as your pokemon,” he laughed, “after all you seem to be the only one to have escaped the pursuit of our hunter… it’s not out of the question that it would want you dead. Simply to keep its record clean. Can’t blame it myself" He looked around before continuing, "As this is the case, and that I have taken a fancy to you. I am willing... to be of assistance to you." At that his hand reached into his pocket and pulled out a small green and black ball in a very deliberate manner.

    The old man held out his open hand as his smile spread wider than humanly possible.

    There was no doubt that it was a genuine smile, but clearly he had some sort of sinister motivation. It seemed as if I had played into one of his traps, his entire approach did seem rather rehearsed. I suspected foul play yet I had no choice, I either took the dusk ball or I would be hunted down by the one that had killed hundreds like me tonight. The old man's smile somehow seemed to stretch even wider, as he seemed to follow along my thoughts. He knew that I had sacrificed too much to go back. I wasn't fond of another person holding such immense power over me, yet I was a coward and chose the ball over death.

    I slowly reached for the ball and as I moved closer I felt an invisible chain being drawn around my neck. As my hand drew closer to the ball the chain got tighter. My fingers were greeted by an abnormal chill as they wrapped around the ball. Then the knot was tied, the chain tightened around my neck and I was shackled to a destiny that I had lost control over.

    I sighed in resignation and as I pulled my hand away it brushed against his open palm, sending shivers down my spine. I didn't think much of it and instead decided to examine the ball.

    It was old. Very old. The metal was scratched all over and the hinge was nearly broken. The paint was also faded. I tossed the ball up and caught it, to my surprise it made rattling noises, much like a chain would.

    I suddenly felt like a traitor for accepting this pokémon, was I disregarding my history with Chubbs by accepting a replacement from a man I knew nothing about.

    I fought back tears as I reached for my old pokéball. Plain old red on top and white below. But I grasped at air as I was wearing nothing but boxers. For the first time in my life I felt my voice fail and body shake as it sunk in that the previous life I had known had fallen apart. I wanted to do nothing more than to reunite with my fallen friend.

    But that was a foolish dream. The dead were dead, and there was nothing in my power to change that. All that was within my capacity was to right the wrong inflicted on his innocent soul. And so, just as anyone else in the heat of the moment would, I vowed to hunt the hunter.
    I was reminded of the old man's existence when he broke into uncontrolled laughter. I quickly looked towards the man and fell back in shock. He had vanished leaving nothing behind. I looked around confusedly but caught no sight of him. He left as he came, seemingly out of nowhere.

    I rolled the ball around in my hand, it was still unusually cold but it comforted me. I knew that whatever beast resided within, was capable of protecting me. And if I played my cards right I might be able to come out on top in this peculiar arrangement.

    I looked around and decided that I had no choice but to go down the road away from Jubilife and towards Oreburgh. I got back onto my feet and glanced at the ball one last time before attempting to pocketing it. Whatever was in it, would have a long struggle ahead to gain my trust. For, despite being a tool for me, it clearly had its own goal prescribed by the old man.

    I sighed as I brushed aside these draining thoughts, my long-term goals could wait. As of now, I needed to escape route 203 and pass through the Oreburgh Gate and into safety.

    So began my trek along the road with Jubilife's shining skyline as my backdrop. Every step that I took made the chains rattle, seemingly to remind me of my foolish decision to get involved in affairs that I did not comprehend.
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    Old August 30th, 2017 (1:30 PM). Edited August 31st, 2017 by Publications.
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    Publications Publications is offline
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      A/N: Only took 3 years lol

      Chapter 2: Gatekeeper

      It's a strange feeling knowing you are the only living thing walking down the well-worn roads of route 203. Some may consider it a tranquil and humbling experience, but for me it was the opposite. I was utterly frightened by the silence around me, and found myself singing or humming to myself to keep myself from breaking down. As I walked I noticed campsites along the edges of the road some with the campfires still alight, but I lacked the stomach to approach any of them.

      It was a dumb decision. Thought it was still early fall the night was chilly and walking around nearly naked didn't help on top of that I could feel my physical stamina waning—I needed to rest. I had stopped at a stream earlier to quench my thirst and wash my face and noticed that my fingertips and toes were beginning to numb and slightly blue. It seemed that I would perish at the hands of nature rather than my hunter.

      The dusk ball was the only possession I had, and the pokemon within could certainly help my situation, but no matter what I did I couldn't bring myself to open it. I just wanted to forget everything that happened, and the chill of the dusk ball was a constant reminder that things would never be the same.

      Truth be told, I never expected my journey to take such a turn on its first day, and I still found it difficult to take it all in. I felt drained emotionally too. My thoughts were a mess and there were only two things that were clear to me. First was that my body seemed to be walking forward on its own. Second was the feeling of a total loss of control.

      The sun was finally beginning to creep over Mt. Coronet its golden rays illuminated the snow being blown off by the harsh mountaintop winds. But more importantly cast light and the faintest sense of warmth on me. I rubbed my shoulders and looked ahead and thought that I might just make it out alive.

      After another hour or two of walking I could hear movement ahead. Being startled more than anything I dove into the bushes nearby to hide from whatever it was. I remained their still and looked ahead. I could see a small man—an extremely small man walking down the path. He held his chin high and his chest puffed out. As he passed by I noticed that he was wearing the dress of the Sinnoh National Guard, but a smattering of ribbons and medals on his breast caught my attention. Judging by the sheer number he seemed to be quite highly ranked.

      I let out a deep breath. I was finally saved.

      Before I stepped out of the bushes a thought occurred to me. Wouldn't it be suspicious if I was the only person to survive? I mean, literally nothing else was walking these routes last night and to see a trainer wearing boxers on the first day of his adventure somehow emerging scatheless would provide grounds for an investigation.

      As these thoughts crossed my mind the person had already passed by and I was left on my own again. It seemed I had no choice but to get through this on my own. Once I got into Oreburgh I would be safe. I could just make up a story about any which direction I came from. Got mugged by a bunch of punks or something of the sort.

      After the person was far enough away I began to move again. This time staying off the path and in the woods so that I would be harder to see. The sun kept rising higher and higher and I felt more energized and alive.

      Surprisingly I hadn't seen any other members of the Guard, nor their pokemon. Which as a citizen of Sinnoh was concerning as the response time was rather slow. If I made it into Oreburgh I planned to tip off some hungry journalist on this to make a quick penny. After all I had to recuperate the loss of my wallet.

      The trees around me began to thin out and before I knew it I could see the Oreburgh Gate before me. I ducked behind a rather thick palm tree next to me as I observed what lay ahead.

      It was anything but normal. A spontaneous military headquarters had sprung up. Vehicles, pokemon, and soldiers were bustling between the various metallic buildings that were built to provide temporary facilities to the Guard. It was an impressive sight to know that they somehow managed to build all of this in the few hours they had been notified of the incident.

      "Great, now I have to sneak past this somehow," I mumbled to myself.

      "That would be tough especially if they have even a single well trained pokemon."

      "That's right, I need another way."

      "Hmmm, maybe a psychic type could teleport you across?"

      That could work I thought.

      At that I felt a tingling sensation from the base of my skull quickly spread across my body and before I could turn around a brilliant flash of white blinded me momentarily. Next I opened my eyes I was staring down the barrel of a gun at a man wearing the outfit of the Guard and flanked by the imposing physique of a rhypherior.

      I quickly glanced around and noticed other soldiers circled around me with their guns trained at me. My legs trembled and gave away beneath me as I fell backwards and into a tree. And then the tree moved as it stepped away from me, I quickly turned around and saw the same palm tree from earlier except I now realized it was an exeggutor facing away from me.

      "Ahh, it seems our teleportation didn't quite work," a voice spoke out from on top the exeggutor. I looked up and saw the small man from earlier grinning down at me. "Well, its not like we had something to hide now did we?"

      I tried to speak but the sight of all these men and pokemon trained to kill left me pale, trembling, and utterly speechless. I was a fool to think that I would even have a chance at evading the Guard, in all likelihood they had noticed me far before I had even thought they would be investigating the incident from last night. They were simply in a different tier than any other people I had encountered in my life.

      My mouth opened to speak up but nothing came out. Quite frankly this was the first time I had ever seen a gun in real life. Regulations in Sinnoh were extremely strict, practically only the Guard had access to guns. Even crime syndicates such as Team Galactic would be hard pressed to get their hands on even a pea shooter.

      "Well, if you can't speak there's no point wasting our time. Take him to the Commander, Ace." With that I felt the familiar tingling sensation from before except this time I was lifted into the air as my body turned stiff. I was locked in place by some psychic power. I tried my best to move but it was to no avail. It simply felt like I had lost control over my body.

      The exeggutor began to waddle towards one of the buildings deeper in camp. We walked by other soldiers who glanced at me suspiciously as well as other extremely powerful pokemon. Everyone looked on edge and the air was filled with tension. Turning a corner, we walked into one of the buildings. Rather I floated harmlessly through but the exeggutor was too tall to fit through the doors. It made what I could only guess was a sad sigh as it stood outside patiently.

      The whole room was very chromatic in its design. Bright and slick furniture lay around the room, and white lights from above made the whole place seem a little too bright. I glanced nervously around but couldn't figure out the purpose of the room.

      A few minutes had passed before a wall in front of me slid to the side revealing a person behind. A woman with brown hair and green eyes confidently walked up to me. Her hair was pulled back in a neat bun. She wore a white lab coat with a loosely fitted green t-shirt underneath that hung just below her collarbone. Her features were sharp and straight a contrast to her smooth skin.

      Eyeing me over she sneered and took her lab coat off as she threw it at me. Like myself it became enveloped in psychic energy and it was pulled over me and buttoned up, presumably to cover up my indecency.

      "Sorry," I managed to mumble as the psychic force around my face began to relax. I expected some sort of question or comment from her but she kept staring straight at me as if she were trying to figure something out. After a long pause she let out a frustrated sigh and exclaimed, "I can't believe they want to waste my time with a runt like you!" with that she stormed back towards the door where she came from.

      I blinked as I tried to figure out what was going on. I waited for her to come back to see if this was an attempt to get a reaction out of me but minutes passed and nothing happened. I strained my ears and heard movement outside but nothing seemed to be coming in this direction. I was simply just hung up in the air.

      The brightness of the room began to hurt my eyes and I closed them as I thought about my next tip to the journalist: the Guard is suffering an organizational crisis. As I began to relax I noticed the pleasant smell of cherry blossoms. I opened my eyes and sniffed at the air, it seemed to be coming from the lab coat.

      "So our hard ass has a feminine side huh," I muttered softly to myself. I looked down to myself and noticed I was still clutching on to the dusk ball in its reduced form. I tried to tighten my grip on the ball and for a second it felt like I did. I looked around both cautiously and excitedly before I tried to move my hand. Thought it took a lot of effort I could definitely feel my hand moving. After a few minutes of desperately fighting the psychic power I was able to raise my arm a few centimeters higher in the air.

      The door in front of me opened again and the Commander stepped out holding a bag in her hand. She looked at me with disgust and spoke up, "I thought I told you to get rid of this monkey. Get someone to call his parents to pick him up before he gets homesick."

      Ace seemed to shuffle a bit on his feet, seemingly used to the Commander's demands, before he began to move me towards the door. Moments before I was pulled out of the door I saw the Commander's eyes narrow before she commanded Ace to stop. She walked right up to me and gave me a piercing glare.

      "You worked up quite a sweat. Bad family life?" she taunted, "or maybe it's this?" with that she reached for the dusk ball in my hand and pried it out without any effort. In truth, it was both but she didn't need to know that.

      She rolled the ball in her hand as her bright eyes took in all the details. She cast a quick glance up at me and took a step backwards. She rose a pensive eyebrow and asked, "did you pick this ball up somewhere?"

      "No, it's mine."

      "Looks like its seen more years than you've been wasting everyone's time."

      "Someone gave it to me."

      "Seems people will do anything to get rid of an annoying kid these days."

      My face was beginning to turn red from her constant insults and I was growing less interested in trying to talk my way out and keener on giving her a taste of her medicine.

      "So, are you going to do something to get rid of me or do you plan on keeping me around?"

      She looked at me for a second before she continued, "I like feisty guys but don't get me wrong you're a bit too young. So, I'll be throwing you out with the trash in a few minutes," with that she gestured at the bag she was holding.

      "Didn't think a girl that used cherry blossom perfume would be the one to take the trash out herself," I grinned at her.

      Her composure broke and I could see her cheeks flush red as she looked down for a moment. She recovered quickly, "well you do look like the type to go around sniffing a woman's clothes." She smiled as she walked past me, "I'll throw out the trash and then we can talk."

      I sighed. It was a small victory but everything mattered. She seemed much more amiable than before and willing to listen to me. Now the question was, what would I tell her? There wasn't any harm in telling her the truth, in fact it would be best for everyone in Sinnoh if I did. But it would cost me, who knows where they would take me and what they would use me for as that would make me a rare subject and a valuable resource for the Guard. Whatever happened last night will probably be breaking headlines across the world, and the Guard will have to settle matters quickly to save face.

      "You can let him go on one of the chairs, Ace" the Commander spoke as she returned and sat down at a table. Ace gently lowered me onto a chair and then released the psychic force. Suddenly weight returned to my body and I felt awkward, and stiff all over. I stretched around in my seat and met eyes with the Commander.

      "I'm Commander Lucia of the Sinnoh National Guard. As you are surely aware, something strange happened in route 203 last night. We aren't sure as to the cause but the aftermath is clear. Every living thing pokemon, human, and even plants have been killed without a single mark of battle. In a situation where even seasoned trainers perished, its hard to think that an individual, especially one as green as you, would come out unscathed. If you wouldn't mind, an explanation is in order."

      I was taken aback by her sudden formality and quickly gathered my thoughts. I didn't want the hunter to rampage through Sinnoh but I also valued my own freedom. I had to make up a story to get her off my tail but set the Guard on the right track too. I knew that a good lie rested in the details. In the end, it wasn't a tip I was giving to a journalist then after all.

      "I'll admit that last night was the first of my journey, and I wouldn't say I came out unscathed," I glanced at her and she seemed to be taking notes. "I caught a zigzagoon while I was out and it… didn't make it," my voice had trailed off naturally but it seemed to have the right effect. "To be honest all I remember is the fluttering of wings overhead—and laughter? I'm not sure what was going on because I was diving in a small lake by some hills. When I got out everything was still, I returned to my camp and that's when I realized something awful had happened."

      "And why did you try to avoid the Guard when you were hiding by the treeline?"

      "I didn't want to get involved in something I didn't understand," I almost laughed as I said that. "To be honest, I just consider myself lucky to survive."

      "Fair enough," she closed her notepad and set it down in front of her. Now I just needed to convince her to let me go. Before I could bring up the topic she set the dusk ball on the table, "Now tell me what's in this."

      I froze.

      I wasn't prepared for this. Hell, I had no clue what was in the ball! My best guess was that it was a dark pokemon, judging from its interaction with the psychic field I was in. But pokeballs don't normally take on the properties of its resident pokemon. That must have been what tipped her off. My mind raced for a possible answer before my mouth opened on its own, "I don't know."

      She raised an eyebrow and leaned forward. My feet were on hot coals but I couldn't stop myself from noticing her perfume again.

      "My grandfather gave it to me a few years ago. I've never been able to open it, it's more of a memento than anything really."

      "I would like to run some tests on it, if that's fine with you."

      "I mean I don't feel that welcome in this base so I'd like to be on my way quickly."

      "Shouldn't take too long, and you can watch if you promise not to interfere with anything."

      Backed into a corned I had no option but to agree, "I'll promise as long as you can promise me a meal."

      "Sounds good," she smirked and reached for the dusk ball and walked into the back room and gestured for me to follow.

      What happened next is beyond me to explain, but simply put she ran various tests scratched her head and then ran more tests. I was given a hot meal which I wolfed down while I watched. The results were indicating that it was a regular dusk ball. The Commander chipped pieces of the ball off for later inspection and when she put the ball in a PC, the ball showed up as empty. There was no pokemon. Frustrated she ran more tests, she had Ace use psychic on the ball all the way from the door but it behaved like an ordinary ball.

      Then her eyes shifted to me. As she began to conduct her tests on me, she took down all my personal details though I wasn't able to give her a point of contact for the future as I had no belongings. She helped me out on that end by making me an email address. It was a thoughtful gesture, until I found out the email address was spicyboy . I mean the .gov was appreciated, but no one would ever take it seriously with a handle like that.

      But no matter what tests she ran the results were the same. An ordinary boy.

      Defeated after nearly a day's worth of hard work she led me outside. Ace had seemingly wandered off somewhere and the sun seemed to have set long ago. It was slightly unsettling to be out during the night but the presence of the Guard soothed my anxiety, they were the strongest trainers in Sinnoh. The Commander led me to the Oreburgh Gate and turned to face me.

      "For the life of me I can't tell anything special about you. I'm surprised you managed to live as long as you have let alone last night. I'm willing to write it off as mere luck but it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Go on you're free to go and you can keep the coat."

      She grabbed my hand and put the dusk ball in it. I felt a chill go down my spine as the cold metal rested in my palm. Her long fingers brushed my open hand as she pulled her hand away, they were surprisingly soft for a military woman.

      I turned to go, more than nervous of traveling alone through the cave to Oreburgh, especially after finding out the dusk ball was empty. Not wanting to lose face I craned my head back and called out, "Thanks for everything Lucy!"

      The Commander's face immediately flushed a much deeper red than before. "Ace, lets teleport our friend into the city, I heard he was quite fond of diving at night."

      Before the look of horror could set into my face I was already gone.
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      Old September 2nd, 2017 (3:44 PM).
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        Chapter 3: A New Quarry

        Needless to say, I made quite the entrance into the pokemon center wearing nothing but a dripping lab coat.

        I didn’t mind the attention as trainers turned to look at me stumbling up to the counter. I wondered what they thought of me, a researcher who’s experiment went wrong?

        “Is everything ok, sir?” the nurse behind the counter stood up, concern ringing in her voice.

        “Yeah, just went for a swim is all,” I joked dryly, “do you have any rooms available?” my voice sounded slurred but I didn’t pay much mind to it.

        She nodded, “Umm sure? Can I please see your ID?”

        I stared blankly at her for what must have been too long as she was beginning to look uncomfortable. I began to look through my pockets to buy some time, but I was surprised to find a phone in the pocket. I pulled it out and looked at it. It appeared to be quite an expensive model and had a charm hanging from it, a small potted cactus. As long as it wasn’t locked I could use it to get a room. I pressed the button on the side and the screen flashed before turning off. It appeared to be out of batteries.

        “Are you sure you’re fine?” she asked as she looked at me.

        I looked back up at her and realized my vision was fading. I looked around the room in a panic and couldn’t make out any details. Looking back at the nurse I opened my mouth to speak but fell forward onto the counter as I lost consciousness.


        I don’t know how long I was out, but I was relieved to know that I had managed to get a room. I was wired up to various machines but I felt as if whatever treatment I was subject to had already taken effect. I felt healthier and more alive than I ever had since the night at route 203.

        I looked around the room and no one seemed to be around me. I laughed to myself as I thought this was usually the perfect moment for a nurse to walk in and tell me what happened. I noticed a newspaper on the table next to me and reached for it.

        “Sinnoh Guard Announces Team Galactic Is Not Responsible For The Silence.” I looked up, so that’s what they’re going to call it. After what I experienced I doubt the deaths were silent, more so the aftermath. I continued to read through the paper, the death toll was at 244 humans and uncounted pokemon. The author commented that there was not a single survivor. I sighed somewhat in relief that my identity had been kept secret and partly at the enormity of the situation. An event like this would redefine the modern world especially if it was a recurring problem. I skimmed through the paper and it seemed the Guard hadn’t made any new discoveries yet. Or rather, they kept them from the public.

        I set the paper down and looked around for my belongings. Not seeing them I reclined back into the bed. A few moments later the door opened and the same nurse stepped in. A more perfect time, I thought.

        “Are you feeling better?’


        “You were out for quite some time. I don’t think you realized, but you were poisoned by a qwilfish and had developed frostbite on your extremities. Fortunately, modern medicine has come a long way and we were able to treat you in time. Now here you are after a night’s rest,” the nurse summarized.

        “What happens now?” I asked.

        “Well, you would be free to go but we haven’t been able to confirm your identity. Well, there’s this,” she said as she raised the phone and smiled, “but you don’t look like a Celine Lucia.”

        “Oh, that’s not my phone,” I paused as I gathered my thoughts. She just might lend me a hand. “That’s my older sister’s, we call her Lucy. I was running an errand for her and some punks pushed me into the pond. You can call her if you’d like.”

        The nurse raised an eyebrow as she looked at me, “How am I going to call her if I’m holding her phone?’

        I laughed, “Good point. I could try sending her an email to bring my stuff over. Shouldn’t take too long.”

        She nodded in agreement and led me to a computer. I quickly logged in to my email and was surprised to see an unread message from the Commander already. It read:

        Do not touch my phone. Do not look at my phone. Do not think of touching my phone. Do not think of looking at my phone. I’ll find you as soon as I have time. In the meantime, do not do anything to my phone.

        Two things stood out to me. First was that the Commander and to an extent the rest of the Guard weren’t exactly the most professional group; definitely not what I would suspect from some of the most powerful people in Sinnoh. Second was that she was hiding something on her phone. Brushing aside those thoughts for later I typed up an email:

        Your phone is safe, if a bit wet. More importantly I don’t have any of my belongings and can’t leave the pokemon center until you can retrieve, at the very least, my ID for me. Thanks in advance, Lucy.

        I fired off my email and sat back as I waited for a response. “She’s usually quite on the ball with these things so it shouldn’t be a while,” I called out to the nurse who was busy dealing with some paperwork.

        I opened a new tab and began to browse the web, catching up on the news about the Silence. Many people suspected this to be the work of Team Galactic in spite of the Guard’s announcement. I couldn’t exactly blame them. When something as bizarre as this happens, people want explanations that they can believe in. Team Galactic has been a growing threat to Sinnoh so it made sense to blame them, even if it was just for peace of mind.

        “You were very careless to walk around outside last night,” the nurse spoke up suddenly.

        “What do you mean?”

        “Well, with everything going on people have been advised to stay indoors when they can. I’ve had trainers with several gym badges even checking in to the pokecenter until things settle down. There is safety in numbers.”

        “I don’t think so. Whatever happened at route 203 killed almost two and a half hundred people in a single night. We’re no safer here than we are in—” I cut myself off.


        “I’m sorry.”

        She only nodded as she returned to her paperwork.

        I wanted to slap myself. Ever since the Silence I found myself running my mouth more and thinking aloud. I didn’t mean to make the nurse uncomfortable, she was kind enough to tell a stranger to be safe and this was how I treater her. I felt like shit, but I couldn’t help but think that I raised a valid point. Was anywhere truly safe?

        Almost an hour passed before I got a response from the Commander.

        Here’s your ID. Well, your new one, since the old you is dead. Since we’re playing this nickname game I took some liberties.

        I almost laughed, there was no way the Commander would actually do it, but a large part of me was left unsure. Of course, she had more important matters to attend to than taking some petty revenge on a random kid. The mouse hovered over the attachment, I took a deep breath and clicked on it.

        She did it.

        My face flushed red. I couldn’t believe that the Commander of the Sinnoh National Guard was wasting valuable time and resources on a bad joke like this? This was an abuse of power if I had ever heard of one. She stood to gain nothing from this, and to make matters worse there was a killer on the loose that should have been the focus of her attention. In that one moment, my faith in the Guard fell apart. They wouldn’t be the ones to solve this mystery. Not with a clown like that in charge.

        I didn’t notice the nurse over my shoulder until I heard her try to stifle a laugh.

        “I’m sorry I thought I was going to sneeze,” she lied badly.

        “T-this is my ID,” I stuttered, I wanted to die inside as I said those words.

        “Yes, this will do.”

        Thus, began my life as Spicy Boy.


        Even for a dead city, Oreburgh was something else. I’d guess the problem was only made more apparent by the Silence, as people were rightfully too frightened to step outside of whatever crumbling shack they lived in.

        Still, walking through dilapidated streets was a wholly new experience for me. Jublife was an immaculate city, you would have to squint to find any flaws. But Oreburgh seemed dirtier than its hallmark coal. Most of the buildings lining the streets were boarded up to keep squatters out, or maybe to keep the junkies in. Piles of trash lay uncollected on street corners with the occasionally dirty pokemon sifting through for scraps. It was a sorry sight.

        As I walked through the city I ended up at the pond where I was teleported. Taking in my surroundings in the daylight I noticed that it lay directly across from the newly built pokemon gym, a large glass and steel building that stood out from the rest of Oreburgh’s uninspired and spartan buildings. A bit further down the path I could make out the gate to the Oreburgh Mines. I noticed an older man sitting on the other side of the pond looking contemplatively at the water, his physique was large but the way he was lost in thought made him seem almost invisible. Noticing nothing else, I made my way towards the mines.

        Boasting the largest coal reserves in the world, Oreburgh was once a bustling and thriving city, but ever since the Sunnyshore Accord, an international ban on fossil fuels, Oreburgh was never able to adapt to the times. Several terms of political mismanagement and embezzlement were to blame, but to most people, the city was dead even before these problems were realized. Thousands were left unemployed who quickly left for other cities to find work. The Sinnoh government opened a gym in Oreburgh in hopes of revitalizing the city, but the effects of this initiative were yet to be seen.

        And on that note, it was time I decided what exactly I would do from here. Now that the Silence existed, circumstances were different.

        My original goal had been quite simple, I just wanted to get away from it all. My family life was anything but idyllic, and I did my best to get along by doing exactly what I was told. But as I grew older, I became angry at it all. Call it a childish tantrum, but for the first time in my life I knew what my own heart wanted, and I listened to it.

        I left my old life behind simply because I wanted to live life on my own terms. Being a trainer is as free a person can be in this day and age. And with freedom being what I wanted most, I disappeared.

        There wasn’t any doubt that continuing my journey was the most dangerous option available to me. Even going back had its own problems, especially now that I was officially dead. But deep down I knew that I couldn’t escape the Silence, even if I went back.

        I pulled out the dusk ball. It was still cold to the touch and after the Commander’s analysis, it seemed to hold nothing but questions. I enlarged the ball and threw it in front of me, hoping it would reveal its secrets. It fell to the ground and rolled a few feet before hitting the gates to the mines.

        I had read that the gates were the last thing to be made with the coal from the mines, a final mark of Oreburgh’s legacy. The once pristine and coal black gates were now covered in vulgar images and words. Above it all was a tattered banner, “Thank you for all the memories– Oreburgh Mines”.

        I was never one to believe in destiny, but I knew I would face the Silence again. And if I wasn’t prepared I would die. I left home because I wanted a life of my own. Chubbs was dead for this dream, and I would be damned if I would let that go to waste. I simply had to grow stronger and smarter if I wanted any chance at protecting my life.

        I smiled as I realized that my heart was telling me to keep pushing forward, carve my own path, and defend my freedom.

        But there were many obstacles I still had to face. The world was dangerous and I had no pokemon to protect me. Looking through my person, the only possessions I had were an empty dusk ball, a lab coat, the Commander’s phone, and a fresh pair of underwear the pokemon center staff gave me. Seeing as the Commander kindly gave me a new identity, I lost all access to my prior savings and had no insurance to boot, leaving me with a hefty hospital bill. I looked at my feet and saw they were already covered with filth. If I couldn’t get my hands on some money I would quickly end up like the other street rats of Oreburgh.

        Good thing, I’ve always been a crafty kid.


        I had almost forgotten the feeling of having money in my pocket, even though it had been just a day since I lost everything. It felt good, but the feeling was temporary. I had a deadline to solve all my problems, tomorrow noon.

        I walked out of the pawn shop with a lure ball and a second-hand fishing rod that came with a box of bait. I was lucky that the phone fetched such a high price as I would otherwise have to settle for a great ball at best. It was still early in the day and I decided to stop by the pokemart to pick up some snacks and a pair of pants, the shoes had to wait. I didn’t see any point in being stingy with my money. If I lost my gamble I simply wouldn’t be able to recover without licking the Commander’s boots.

        I made my way towards the pond from earlier and as I walked I realized that I had not seen a single person outside ever since I arrived other than the man sitting by the pond. But looking around now he was gone too. Setting down myself by the bank of the pond, I took off my clothes in case I got wet. It was a rather warm day so the sun was actually quite refreshing on my skin. I hooked the bait to my fishing rod and cast it into the water. I sat still for several minutes. Nothing. Reeling the bait in, I cast the rod again. Again. And Again.

        The plan was to catch the qwilfish that attacked me last night. With that I could at the very least leave the city and go be homeless in a nicer city. I had heard good things about Hearthome.

        The biggest, and I’ll admit it was quite big, flaw in my plan was I underestimated the patience needed for fishing. With nothing to keep me entertained I focused on the water. It was dirty, disgustingly so. In fact, I was quite surprised that any pokemon chose to live here. Well I guess it wasn’t a choice as the pond seemed to be a flooded quarry closed off from everything else. Which begged the question how did anything even get here?

        I was pulled out of my thoughts by a strong tug at the fishing rod that nearly pulled it out of my hands. My body quickly filled with adrenaline and excitement as the first step of my plan was in motion. I reeled in the rod as best I could but the pokemon fought back. I stood up on my feet and began to walk backwards. I could feel the tension in the line as it was about to snap. I edged closer to the water to put some slack in it. Satisfied with the slack I began to draw the line back in, and with all my might I pulled the qwilfish out of the water.

        Its small eyes looked at me as it puffed up in size before blasting a jet of water from its mouth sending the hook flying out of it’s mouth and me falling backwards.

        My heart was racing and I couldn’t help but grin at the challenge. After recovering my breath, I cast the rod again, but as I would find out the qwilfish proved to be much more experienced than I was.

        I blew through the remainder of my bait over the next several hours until I had only a single piece left. I was getting better, but not nearly good enough to land the qwilfish. It was an extremely clever fish, I had to give it credit, it was always changing its pace and pattern making it impossible to predict. I also felt that it knew exactly what was going on and played along with my game because it knew it would win.

        I cast the rod one more time and waited for several minutes. The qwilfish was teasing the bait and I tensed in preparation. It swam circles around it and nudged it gently, it was making itself known. And then it disappeared. I was prepared for a sudden bite, but the qwilfish chose to jump out of the water instead and blast my face with water. I stumbled backwards but held onto the rod, before I could even open my eyes again I was yanked harder than ever before pulling me into the water. I panicked and let go of the rod as I swam back to the shore. Trying to catch it in the water would be a losing battle, but it seemed the whole venture was one. Pulling myself back up I coughed up some water as I rolled onto my back defeated.

        It was night time. The sky was darker in Oreburgh on accounts of it being an almost abandoned city. Consequently, I could actually see the scattering of stars next to the waning full moon. I closed my eyes as I reached for the lab coat to warm myself.

        “Tryin’ to fish up some rocks?” a rough and thickly accented voice spoke up from behind me.

        An older man walked into my field of view. His tanned face was worn and beaten, scars lined his face but he still smiled brightly—even if he was missing more than a few teeth.

        “I think I would have had better luck with that,” I responded as I sat back up. The man was massive. Maybe it was from years of labour in the mines but his body looked like it had been sculpted out of marble. I recognized him as the person I saw earlier in the day.

        “I don’t know bout that. I been liftin’ rocks ma whole life. This one lookin’ more like a pebble,” with that he stepped into the water and picked up my fishing rod and cast it into the water.

        “You don’t have any bait,” I pointed out.

        “Don’t need it.”

        The moment the lure touched the water I could see the line grow tense as the qwilfish bit down. I had seen the qwilfish use the same tactic against me and it always caught me off guard. But the qwilfish made a mistake, this time there was a goliath of a man holding the rod. Before the qwilfish could so much as tug on the line, the man turned around and swung the rod as if he were swinging a pick axe, literally flinging the qwilfish overhead and out of the water.

        I reacted quickly as I reached for the lure ball and tossed it at the qwilfish. The pokemon turned into red energy as it was sucked into the ball. The ball landed on the ground before it started shaking. Once. Twice. And then it broke free.

        “Gee, boy. What now?”

        It was a good question. The qwilfish was far enough inland that it would take it a bit to roll back into the water. Normally a pokemon had to be weakened before it could be easily captured. Except I had no pokemon. Beating it physically on my own was an option but if someone saw me I could be arrested, but in a ghost city like Oreburgh that wasn’t much of a problem. The problem was that even a glancing cut could poison me and I also had to worry about its water attacks. I circled around and picked up my lure ball again. I had to keep my distance. The qwilfish’s eyes were trained on me as it rolled towards the water, it knew it was in a bad situation and in spite of being much smaller than the other man I was the biggest threat as long as I held the ball.

        I reached into my pocket and pulled out the dusk ball. I tossed it in front of me but it fell on to the ground without doing anything. The qwilfish, seemingly expecting a pokemon, responded quickly by blasting the ground with water sending it shooting towards the water.

        “Boy! You gotta throw the ball at the fish!”

        I waited a few moments to see if the ball would do anything before abandoning that plan. I threw the lure ball at the qwilfish again but this time it blasted it out of the air knocking it away from me and into the water.

        The grizzled man looked at me confused, and I couldn’t help but return the look. We watched as the qwilfish nearly rolled back into the water. Its dumb eyes gave me the smuggest look as it turned around and wagged its tailfin at me.

        “It ain’t over till it’s over!” The man cried out as he ran for my dusk ball which was laying in the qwilfish’s blind spot now. He picked it up and tossed it to me. Seeing no other option I threw the ball as hard as I could at the qwilfish.

        There was a loud cracking noise from the force of the impact and the qwilfish made a strange squeaking noise. It rolled around to face me and began to puff up in size, this time the poisonous needles began to stand straighter. Before it could release whatever attack it planned. The air around qwilfish began to distort, twisting until a single black bead formed in the center. Dark flickers of red energy emerged from the pinhole and surrounded the fish.

        The qwilfish closed its eyes as it appeared to be in immense pain, it pointed its mouth downwards and blasted water launching itself backwards into the pond. The attack seemed to dissipate the distortion, but as the qwilfish flew through the air it began to convulse in the before dropping into the water. Moments later the still body floated back up to the surface.

        I turned to face the man next to me and we both had the same expression of utter bewilderment. We stood in silence for a few moments before he spoke up, “This is your chance?” he asked, unsure himself.

        “Uhh, maybe I should wait a bit before I go in,” I responded.

        “Good idea.”

        The two of us were lost in thought. The old man didn’t lie. The ball could clearly keep me safe, but with no apparent pokemon, it was a bit hard to believe, let alone explain what occurred. I cautiously stepped toward the ball and with a nervous gulp I bent down to pick up the ball expecting the same attack against me. Instead I was met with the now familiar cold chill of the ball. I sighed as I picked it up and stood back up. I rolled the ball around in my hand, I felt more confused and frightened about it than I ever had before. I looked out in front of me and saw a red orb floating in the air. I blinked and it disappeared.

        “Did you see that?” I called to the man.

        “You talkin’ bout the dying fish?”

        I turned to face the pond and even in the dark I could see a pool of blood forming around the qwilfish. Knowing it was my ticket, I quickly tore off my lab coat and dove into the water. I fumbled around in the dark before finding my lure ball. I swam up to the qwilfish and pressed the ball against it. It turned into red light and was pulled in once more. The ball shook again but this time there was a click.

        The first part of my plan was complete. If the qwilfish was still alive anyway.

        The man helped pull me out of the water and handed me my lab coat and pants. I dressed myself and we began to make our way to the pokemon center. I didn’t want to talk or think about what had just happened so I decided to occupy our minds with some idle conversation.

        “What’s your name, by the way?” I asked.

        He smiled at me as he looked up at the dark sky. “I had a name. These days I ain’t the same person. Ya could say I ain’t got a name.”

        “What am I going to call you then?” I prodded, not entirely sure what he was getting at.

        “Call me what ya want. ‘Til I find ma new name.”

        I nodded as we walked in silence for some time. He was a strange man on a strange quest. Couldn’t say we were that different in that respect.

        “What’s yer name?” he asked suddenly.

        “Ah, my name…” I trailed off. There was no way I was going to parade myself as Spicy Boy. But using my real name would only complicate matters. My mind raced to an easy solution. The C and Y in my name were silent leaving me with Spi, pronounced Spy, but by some stretch I might be able to argue it was Sai. Fairly standard, if a bit exotic. As for my last name, I would worry about that later.

        “My name is Sai.”

        “It’s nice.”

        I couldn’t help but laugh, knowing that I had just made up the name. I looked at the man, eager to continue my conversation, but he seemed lost in thought. I listened closely and I could hear him repeat my name over and over under his breath. After a bit of this he looked at me again and said, “You ain’t from ‘round here and ya don’t look like yer plan on staying. What ya gonna do now, Sai?” I noticed that he said my name with a soft care and respect. It was quite flattering and a part of me wished he said my real name.

        “Believe it or not, I have a plan to get out of here and come out with a tidy profit.”

        “Was catchin’ the fish part of your plan?”

        “Only the first half.”

        “Ya sure ya ain’t skipping any steps?” he asked with a wide grin.

        I laughed at the comment, “I’m sure.”

        “What’s your second step then?”

        “I’m going to get my first gym badge before noon tomorrow.”
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        Old 4 Weeks Ago (1:32 PM).
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          Chapter 4: Breaking Point

          “I’m sorry, I don’t t think I understand.”

          A plan is never complete without hitches, but even then, there are some things that come from so far outfield that they leave you stumbling and more than anything, dumbfounded.

          “It’s not entirely accurate and unbecoming of me as a doctor to say this, but… your qwilfish is um… retarded.”

          My mind was empty. There wasn’t a single thought in my head as I tried to come to terms with this turn of events. The head doctor continued, “He must have suffered some extreme mental trauma, I’m sure he’s lucky to even survive. If you don’t mind, could you tell me exactly what happened? I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

          “I’m not sure, I just found it floating in the old quarry,” I lied without thinking.

          “Hm,” he jotted down what I mentioned quickly, but I could tell he was disappointed. I looked around the room one more time. I was in the doctor’s cluttered private office. Normally pokemon were returned at the counter, but the nurse had called me into a back room away from everyone else. I was suspicious, but not prepared for this kind of news.

          “I found it interesting that this pokemon was already registered in our system when you brought it in. Looking through the data, it belonged to another trainer just a few days ago. However, as you were able to catch it, I can only imagine that it was released,” the doctor explained.

          It made sense. That’s why the qwilfish was so familiar with how humans caught pokemon; it also explained it’s extensive skills which would be difficult to acquire had it spent its whole life in that isolated quarry. What puzzled me was why a trainer would abandon such an obviously talented pokemon.

          “Its ex-trainer was confirmed as one of the casualties in the Silence,” the doctor commented after a pause.

          “From what we know so far, the Silence appears to be an internal affliction that kills without leaving a mark. Your qwilfish suffered something similar, as far as I can tell. Its prior records indicate that it was an extremely healthy male, but suddenly, its regressed to the point where by all medical accounts it would be considered mentally impaired,” the doctor paused and looked quite pleased with himself. “Ah that’s the word I was looking for. Well, the gist of it is, I would like to conduct more studies on your qwilfish. I’m sure you understand how important this is for the medical community, and more importantly in solving the Silence,” he finished his argument as he set down his pen on the table.

          I fully understood the importance of this decision, but I knew deep down that I was the only person who could actually do anything about the Silence. The doctor would only observe the aftermath, whereas I survived the actual thing. No one in the world knew the Silence better than I did. My own priorities would have to come first. I knew that there was the potential to glean valuable information by turning over my qwilfish, but at the same time they must already be testing the leftovers of route 203. These specimens were also directly involved with the Silence, and not the dusk ball. I had to separate myself as much as possible from the events of the Silence in the eyes of authority.

          “I think I’ll need some time to think it over.”

          The doctor sighed in disappointment, “As part of Pokemon League law, you will need a special license to prove you are capable of caring for a disabled pokemon. Unfortunately, you can’t get your license in Oreburgh. The closest place would be Jubilife.” The mention of Jubilife put a sour taste in my mouth but I tried not to show it to the doctor.

          “That’s sort of out of the way for me,” I responded as coolly as I could.

          “Regardless, you have one month from now or you will be forced to give up your qwilfish. If you do change your mind you can visit the Veilstone Medical Laboratory where my colleagues will gladly take a look at the qwilfish. Also, please take these medical reports for your qwilfish and read them over carefully. Fish biology is quite different from other pokemon.” I nodded as I picked up the lure ball and report before making my way outside.

          I had already been nervous about facing the Gym, but this made matters worse. I had thirteen hours left before I had to face Roark. In those thirteen hours, I had to somehow train a once genius, now retarded qwilfish to singlehandedly sweep the gym. I had a type advantage which could be significant if I leveraged it properly. Even then, it all came down to how well we could learn to work as a team.

          I stepped out of the sliding glass doors of the pokemon center and was greeted by the same grizzled man who helped me catch the qwilfish.

          “How’s the fish?”

          “It’s alive, but not the trump card I was hoping for.”

          The man nodded in response.

          I began to make my way back towards the flooded quarry to see exactly what I had to work with. I glanced at the middle-aged man next to me, if he was tagging along a name for him wouldn’t hurt.

          “I’ve been thinking about a name for you,” I commented after a while.

          “Let’s hear it.”

          “At first, I was thinking of something related to granite because you remind me of stone, and I guess granite is more polished than a regular stone.” He laughed at this before I continued. “Although, from what I can tell so far, you seem a good deal nicer than any stone could be.”

          “Yer right. When I was workin’ the mines can’t say I ever found a stone that was nice.” It was my turn to laugh.

          “So, I was thinking of something that’s both tough and nice. Well, have you ever heard the stories of the detective, Looker?

          “I ain’t nearly good lookin’ or hardboiled enough to be some bigshot detective.”

          “I wasn’t done. Recently our detective finally got to do a product promotion for G-Mint. He’s known for eating mints all the time, so he’s always looking and feeling fresh. So, I figured that I’ll call you Mint or Minty, because talking to you is very refreshing.”

          He laughed louder than before and slapped my shoulder jokingly, but the blow wasn’t soft to say the least. Even then, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing along, something about the man put me in a good mood.

          “I like Minty better. As a name, it will do fer now.”

          The two of us continued to walk along engaging in idle chatter before we arrived at the quarry. I released the qwillfish from the ball and it plopped into the water. It turned around to face me. As our eyes locked I couldn’t help but feel guilt as I stared into the now distant eyes of the qwilfish.

          “It looks dumber,” Minty commented.

          “That’s the problem. The doctor said it suffered severe brain damage, so I’m not sure how to proceed,” I explained. The qwilfish used to be an experienced fighter, there was the off chance that its instincts would still kick in. I cautiously reached forward with my hand to get a response from it. My hand touched its rubbery skin and the qwilfish seemed to smile, enjoying the stimulation. Defeated, I stroked the qwilfish’s head and it made what I can only imagine was a purring sound.

          “You reckon it had something to do with that ball?” Minty prodded cautiously.

          “Well, I’m not sure what else it could be,” I responded. “I also don’t think it’s a good idea to hand it over to any authorities. It’s clearly dangerous and I don’t trust the government to keep it safe, I mean just look at what they did to Oreburgh.”

          “Coulda told that jus’ from the way you been holdin’ on to that ball.” After he mentioned it I realized my left hand was rolling the ball idly in my pocket. “Can’t say I seen you much without so much as a finger on it.”

          I pulled my hand out from my pocket and glanced at the ball. I showed it to the qwilfish hoping for some reaction. The fish didn’t seem to respond at all as it began to turn upside down in the water.

          In its current state, it couldn’t tell what was a threat. A normal pokemon would react to unwanted attention, but the qwilfish seemed incredibly docile. Seeing it up close, I could make out the tight muscles flexing below its skin as it wagged its fins excitedly. All the wasted potential, I thought. I began to stroke it with both hands and was careful not to cut my hand on its spikes. Then I realized that its poison wouldn’t have lost its potency.

          “Its poison should still be potent, right Minty?” I tried to say his name with the same respect that he used for me. I looked over my shoulder at him and I could see him smiling gently.

          “I’d think so.”

          Roark would be cautious of the poison, but would be sure to underestimate its lethality. However, it was a trick that would only work once. If I could get the qwilfish to use some water attacks at my command, I would feel much better about my odds.

          I pulled my hands back as I tried to think of how to communicate with my qwilfish. With Chubbs it had been easy. Having him since he was a child really allowed us to grow with each other and come to understand one another on a deeper level. Even though he couldn’t speak I could always tell how he was feeling. That was the bond that successful trainers had with their pokemon.

          “Its like a baby,” said Minty.

          He was right. I had to treat it like a baby pokemon. I went through something similar with Chubbs, the only challenge was condensing fourteen years into thirteen hours.

          “You don’t happen to know any games we can play with a fish, do you?” I asked the man hopefully.

          “When I was young, we played a game called Rockin’. Everyone gets eleven rocks an’ all ya gotta do is balance ten rocks on toppa each other before someone knocks yer tower down with a rock.”

          Most games have a lesson in them. For example, a game of red ass teaches you that it’s never fun to lose. I’m sure I was overthinking it but, I reasoned that a game of Rockin’ would introduce the concepts of limited resources as well as balancing offense with defense. There was a problem.

          “I’m not sure if our fish can build a rock tower,” I pointed out.

          He frowned, “that’s true, you woulda lost anyway.”

          I just needed a way to encourage qwilfish to attack. The poison would suffice as defense, even if it would only work for one attack. I had to put the qwilfish into a situation where it would be on the offense. Throwing rocks at it were an option, but I didn’t want to make it suffer anymore than I already had.

          I reached into one of the pockets and pulled out my last remaining bag of snacks. I hoped that the qwilfish would like Sunkern Seeds (a brand name). I grabbed a fist full and reached my hand towards the water. The qwilfish swam back up to my hand and began to nibble at the seeds. Its body language was relaxed as it seemed to enjoy the snack.

          “You shouldn’t feed it those,”

          When I pulled my hand back I didn’t expect a jet of water that would knock me out.


          The first thing I noticed when I came to was that my neck was stiff and sore from the earlier attack. But as I fully regained consciousness I realized I wasn’t by the quarry anymore. I sat up straight and realized that I had been laid down on an old maroon sofa. By the looks of it I was in the living room of a long-abandoned apartment. All the pieces of furniture were in various states of decay and looking down at the couch I could make out clear stains over years of use. The air was thick and smelled of mildew. I felt a cool breeze blow in from behind me sending chills through my body. I stood up as I rubbed the back of my neck and turned to look behind me.

          A broken window, and past it I could see the crumbling city of Oreburgh. Lightless buildings blackened by soot and dust rose into the cold autumn air as snowflakes gently drifted towards the ground, coating the city in a soft layer of white. The streetlights many floors below cast a soft orange light on the snow on the ground, revealing its unbroken surface. Above the dying city hung a pale moon.

          I turned back around to take in the room in more detail as I pushed through the grogginess. All the furniture was mismatched. There was a heavily ornate Victorian cupboard along the far wall flanked by a dark brown colonial bed draped with thick and heavy linen sheets. At the foot of the bed was a large rustic chest and right in front of me was a slick modern table. On top of it was a note. I picked up the note and read the clean and elegant cursive.


          If you are reading this, I am still out getting dinner and looking for your qwilfish which ran away after attacking you. In the meantime, please make yourself at home. I did the same when I found this place. lol.

          I couldn’t help but smile as I held my head with my free hand. This was the first time I had seen someone say lol in a letter, and the contrast was only emphasized by Minty’s personality in real life and the quality of his handwriting. Which led me to believe that maybe he wasn’t just the simple miner I chalked him up to be.

          I found a pen on the table and wrote a quick response.

          If you’re reading this I probably got bored of waiting for you and decided to look for some fun.

          I set the pen and note down as I returned to the window. I glanced at the large grandfather clock, assuming it was accurate, it was three. Nine hours left.

          Even though I had lost five hours, I learned that the qwilfish’s attacks were as strong as they used to be. Though we still hadn’t ironed out a working relationship, I took comfort in the fact that qwilfish would probably one shot any of Roark’s pokemon, if it was pushed to that point. If it was a reaction to me taking away its food, that would make it difficult to replicate in battle. On the other hand, it hinted at a more aggressive personality so it may retaliate if it’s disturbed.

          I felt a coldness in my hand and realized that I had subconsciously reached for my dusk ball. There was still the mystery of this left to work out. The ball clearly made an attempt to catch the qwilfish, although it didn’t behave like a regular dusk ball should. In fact, it put the qwilfish through immense pain and ravaged it mentally, leaving it a crippled form of itself. My guess was the ball was given to me to catch something with, but it had failed. Although, it was hard to believe that something that could thwart the Silence would fail to catch a qwilfish.

          I enlarged the ball and threw it in front of me. As usual it rolled forward before hitting the trunk at the base of the bed. I sighed as I reached for the ball. The metal was colder than normal and I gripped it so tightly that my knuckles began to whiten. I could feel the hairs on my neck standing up. Something felt wrong.

          I looked around the room nervously. All of it seemed very bizarre to me now, the cacophony of different styles seemed something straight from the set of a horror movie. I walked through the apartment, stopping by the kitchen to pick up a large knife.

          I turned all the doors I didn’t bother checking earlier, but was greeted by empty and cold rooms behind them all. I didn’t step inside any of them. Growing tense, I reached for the door to the apartment and that’s when it struck me.

          I couldn’t hear a single sound.

          I got chills over my body as I cautiously turned to look over my shoulder, knife ready in hand. The cold wind whipped through the room sending small pieces of furniture crashing against the walls.

          “Hey!” I called out for Minty, “are you here?”

          Hearing no response, I tried the door to the hallway. It wouldn’t budge.

          “Hey!” I called out again desperation dripping from my voice. “Is anyone here?!”

          I tried the door again but my hands were shaking too much to be able to grasp the doorknob. I bolted towards the balcony door and slid it open. I wasn’t sure if it had gotten colder or it was my sweat that made it so. I looked around at the lifeless city for a saviour.

          “Help!” I screamed as loud as I could, but only a cold silence rang back.

          I ran back into the apartment and saw an old black and gold rotary phone. I picked it up and dialed 911. It was silent. I ran into the kitchen and pulled the fire alarm. It was silent. I went back onto the balcony and tried to scream for help. It was silent. My voice failed me and I fell to my knees.

          I could feel a familiar tightness in my chest. Tears began to gather in my desperate eyes as they looked for a way out. I noticed the fire escape on the balcony and tried to push it down, but years of disrepair had left the metal rusted and it wouldn’t even budge under my weight. Giving up I looked up, there was a ladder at the bottom of the balcony above. I jumped up but couldn’t grab onto it.

          Without even thinking I stepped onto the railing of the balcony. I made the mistake of looking down and my legs felt like jelly. I was standing on snow and my foot could easily slip. From a height like this I would end up as a smattering of gore on the white snow covering the road. I tried to step back on to the balcony but my body wasn’t moving. My eyes were locked to the ground below but something within me whispered faintly. If it wasn’t so silent that night I doubt I would have heard it.


          Without another thought, I jumped from the railing and grabbed onto the ladder above me. The piercing sound of metal scratching against metal broke the silence at last as the ladder crashed down on to the balcony. My left hand got caught below it and I screamed in pain as blood began to squirt on to the snow around me. I struggled with my other arm to pull the ladder off just high enough to slide my hand out.

          I tried to inspect my wound but I couldn’t make out anything as my hand was a mess of torn flesh and blood. Lowering the ladder must have activated some mechanism causing all the ladders above to fall down. I cursed as the bottom ladders didn’t fall. I quickly scrambled up the ladders, trying to get as far away as I could from the room. The old metal was chipped and jagged in places, cutting my hands and feet. I didn’t feel the pain as my mind began to feel heavy with intrusive thoughts. My eyes were wide with fear as I tried to cope with these thoughts, but I was being overpowered. Regardless, my body pushed through, climbing the ladders even faster than before

          As I pulled myself up from the last ladder I realized I was on the roof of the apartment complex. There was nothing on the roof save a few antennas in the corner and a layer of snow over everything. A tall fence ran along the edges of the rooftop.

          My body suddenly seized up as I felt a piercing sensation in my head. I clutched at my head as I fell to my knees and screamed in pain. The pain turned into an intense burning sensation as I fell onto the ground and began to roll around in agony. I pulled myself back onto my knees and began to bash my head against the floor to shake out this invasion.

          “Sai!” I heard a voice call out. I wasn’t sure who it was, but it gave me the jolt I needed to stand back up. I was disoriented and couldn’t think or recall anything. I began to hobble towards the fence as the pain inside my head and the dull throbbing of my head began to intensify. I stopped screaming but couldn’t stop the whimpering.

          My mind was a mess. Vivid images of the night at 203 flashed through my mind like a movie reel spinning out of control. I could see events that never happened, it was all too fast for me to comprehend. But then the reel stuttered, and I could see myself face half buried in the mud, dead.

          I fell forward and caught myself on the fence. Then I heard breathing inside my head. The deep and guttural breath of a hunter, filled with wrath and pride. My eyes opened and through the crisscrossed wires of the fence, I could see the moon staring at me.


          I felt the blood drain from my face, but I was transfixed by the moon.


          Its bright and pale perfection reminded me of her.


          It was beautiful.


          My legs gave out as I fell onto my back. Knocking up a small cloud of snow.

          I craned my neck to see the moon again. But I saw a different sphere. This one was green and black and in my hand. I brought it closer to my face and it looked as if its surface was crawling. I felt something drip on me and noticed I was bleeding heavily from my left hand. I turned the ball around in my hand and the blood began to roll down the ball. But it didn’t drip. It was being absorbed by the ball. I brought the ball closer to me, it was like there were thousands of mouths on the surface drinking my blood.

          It was a creepy ball. Not as beautiful as the moon.

          I tossed it aside and stared at the moon. Its light soothed my nerves, my body relaxed and I began to slip away. The world began to fade, but I still stared at the moon. I struggled to keep my eyes open, I just wanted to look for one more second.

          And then my reverie broke as reality dawned on me. My mind was clear once again and I immediately felt the absence of the dusk ball, I leapt to my feet and looked around. I could see bloody footsteps and spattering of crimson over the pure white of the snow. Off to my side I could see the dusk ball lying still on the ground. Without thinking I leapt towards it.

          It was frigid in my hands but I didn’t want to let go. I held it close to me as I curled around it and, even more than my first encounter, broke down into a sobbing mess. I had been Sai for less than a day but I felt as if I had already died.

          “Sai…” I heard a soft voice as footsteps approached me. Minty sat down next to me and tried his best to comfort my broken mind on top of a broken city under the vigil of an uncaring moon.
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