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Old December 12th, 2017 (11:51 AM).
Delirious Absol's Avatar
Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
Call me Del
     
    Join Date: May 2015
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    Chapter Twenty Four



    Two disks down and three to go. That’s what Macro kept telling himself as he looked over the list of four remaining locations. Botnet City, Cyan City, Meta City, and The Cache. Since he’d hit two and retrieved two disks, he was getting dangerously close to eventually hitting the red herring. If there even was one. There was always the possibility Surge had been incorrect in discovering there were only five disks.

    His eyes lingered over Meta City for a moment. The huge red cross on his internal map. Even the name reeked of danger, and after DL’s revelation that yet another hole had been torn in time and space right in the centre of it, he was even less inclined to venture there. Surely Socket knew DL could pinpoint these rifts. What if she’d simply been trying to lure him in?

    “Struggling?” Switch poked his head around the cockpit door.

    Macro looked up at him and sighed before turning back to the list of cities.

    “You could say that,” he said.

    The talonflame strutted into the room and peered over his shoulder. Heat radiated from his feathers and Macro found himself instinctively feeling for his laser.

    “I’d like to see Cyan City, personally,” said Switch.

    Macro snorted. “You’ve been here for what… a day? And you already have a list of sight seeing destinations?”

    “Not exactly,” said Switch. “Back home, I spent a lot of time in a place called Cyan Island. A drifting continent. You know them, right? They float over System, and I’m guessing it’s been moved to a city status now. I want to know what changes have been made.”

    Macro raised an eyebrow at him over his shoulder. “Drifting continent? Don’t be ridiculous. Cyan City, like every other city in System Sky, is an artificial slab holding towering skyscrapers above the clouds. It can’t go anywhere. It’s encased in a perspex dome like everywhere else up here.”

    “So what’s happened to the drifting continents?” Switch asked. “Are they barren now?”

    “There are no ‘drifting continents’,” said Macro. “Rumors and legends like you humans and that Fracture nonsense.”

    “You still don’t believe the Fracture even happened?”

    “Oh, I believe it now, but it’s still nonsense. If it weren’t for the fact I’d managed to obtain a human, I’d still think it were all fairy tales.”

    Switch let out a sigh and ruffled his feathers. “Then what happened to Cyan Island?”

    “I haven’t a clue. Some say they crashed and that’s why they don’t float any more. But there’s no evidence to support that.”

    “Then… has anyone searched the oceans? They had engines in them, Macro. And they were huge! They couldn’t just vanish. There must be remains somewhere, right?”

    Macro stared at him for a moment, then flicked his computer off and stuffed it back into his pouch.

    “All right, Switch, I’ll make you a deal.” He shifted his weight to one foot and pointed a claw at the talonflame. “I’m gonna show you System Ground, and you can see for yourself this ain’t your world no more. All right?”

    Switch frowned but said nothing, keeping his golden eyes on Macro as he moved out of the cockpit.

    The mawile poked his head out of the exit hatch, squinting in the bright sunlight. Anchor was still fiddling with the small wishiwashi turret, whistling a jaunty tune as he worked away with DL sat beside him. The pachirisu’s nose was streaked with grease, and she clutched a spanner in her paws, watching the granbull intently.

    She looked tiny compared to the large, pink bulldog, but she wasn’t the least bit intimidated by him. With the belt around her waist she didn’t look out of place either, and at some point she’d acquired a green neckerchief that did look out of place amongst her blue markings. Sunlight reflected off her white fur with an almost dazzling intensity. Macro tore his eyes away and cleared his throat to address the granbull.

    “Almost done, Anchor?” he asked. “Kinda wanting to fly soon.”

    “Yup,” said Anchor. “Just gotta fasten this panel back in place. It got a bit bent, so it’s tricky, but we’re nearly there.”

    DL looked up at Macro and smiled. That smile alone flooded his chest with warmth, killing any retort on his tongue. He snatched his head back inside the hatch and leant back against it. With a sigh, he tugged his goggles free and ran a paw over his face.

    “I really need to do something about this,” he muttered.

    ...

    “Where do we even find a human?” Widget asked.

    The eevee skipped along beside Tracer, his mask completely hiding his face. It was near impossible to tell if he was joking or genuinely curious without seeing that cheeky glimmer in his eye.

    “I’ve no idea,” Tracer answered. “And since we’re forbidden to interview anyone about this, then finding its trail is going to be incredibly difficult.”

    “Didn’t Socket’s guards faint at the sheer sight of it?” Widget asked. “’Cos I’d say we just look for a trail of stunned and terrified civilians.”

    “I’m beginning to wonder if you’re being sincere.”

    Tracer stopped at his office and opened the door. Defrag didn’t even look up from her desk, too focused on whatever task she was occupied with.

    “Of course I’m being sincere!” Widget hopped on his toes with enthusiasm.

    Before he’d even fully entered the office, he started to remove his mask. Tracer slammed the door quickly in a desperate bid to prevent the eevee from being poisoned. Despite Widget’s claims to be immune to sickness, he was taking no chances.

    Widget looked up at Tracer then nodded to Defrag. “We telling her?”

    “Telling me what?” The lopunny flicked her long ear back to look over her shoulder.

    Tracer shook his head at Widget and sighed. The eevee gave him an apologetic grin and slinked over to his desk. Tracer flopped heavily into his chair and turned on his computer.

    “There’s been… a problem in Meta City,” he explained. “But it’s top secret and if I tell you, it must not leave this office.”

    Defrag turned her chair fully to face him and crossed her legs. “Go on.”

    “I trust your professional attitude, Defrag-”

    “But not enough to tell me before Widget spilled the beans,” she retorted.

    Tracer rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Let me finish, please.”

    “No. I get a little tired of being left out of your investigations.” She folded her arms and her nose creased in a frown. “You do this all the time. It’s like I’m just some kind of desk jockey to you.”

    “You are not a desk jockey, Defrag. You’re admin. You do the administration work, which is just as, if not more, important!”

    “But it’s less fun.” She paused. “Now tell me, what’s going on?”

    “There’s a human in System,” said Widget.

    Defrag stared over her shoulder at him. Widget picked up his cup and sipped at it with all the nonchalance he could muster.

    “Don’t insult my intelligence, eevee,” she said dangerously. “We all know humans don’t exist.”

    “He’s not lying.” Tracer pulled out his computer, along with a fresh cigar, and opened Socket’s email. “See for yourself.”

    Defrag took the computer and the room fell into silence as she watched the footage. Any sound had been muted out, but the image was as clear as day. A shape shifting human, lying in one of the mayor’s rooms, resulting in the gothitelle being assaulted.

    Once it had played out, Defrag lowered the computer to her lap and met Tracer’s eyes.

    “Is this some kind of joke?” The waver in her voice betrayed her anxiety.

    “Oh, it’s no joke.” Tracer gently retrieved his computer from her grip. “Socket sent me the footage herself. She seemed very intent on catching this shape shifting human. Evidence states that its highly dangerous, as you’ve seen for yourself.”

    “If it were dangerous, why not kill Socket?”

    Tracer shrugged and lit his cigar. “Maybe they simply didn’t want to? Either way, assaulting a figure of authority tells me its dangerous and has no fear or respect for those around it.”

    “And did you see the way it just left the room?” Widget feigned a shudder. “Terrifying.”

    “You’re not remotely scared,” Defrag snorted.

    “Nope,” said Widget. “Crazy human? Bring it on.”

    “You think it might be crazy?” Defrag asked.

    “Of course! Did you even see it? It has crazy written all over its face!” Widget took another swig of his drink. “Either that, or they just have no emotion whatsoever.”

    “History states humans were indeed emotional beings,” said Tracer.

    “Ordinarily, I’d be inclined to correct you that they are in fact fairy tails,” said Defrag. “But after seeing that, I don’t know what to believe any more.”

    Tracer blew out a stream of smoke and leant back against his desk. “You don’t think it’s enough evidence?”

    “It could easily be fake,” said Defrag. “I mean, we have the technology to create convincing videos. The only thing that makes me think it might even remotely be real is the fact that Socket sent it to you, and asked you to capture this creature.”

    Tracer shrugged. “Then I guess we’ll have to accept that, for the time being, there’s a potentially dangerous creature living in System. We’ll have to be extra careful, and make it our number one priority to catch it.”

    “’Our’?” Defrag asked.

    “Yes, ‘our’. You are every bit as involved as Widget and I. I want you to scour the internet and dig up every shred of evidence you can about where this human is located. Sightings, hoaxes or otherwise. Suspicious damage, crimes, missing pokemon. Anything that might lead us to this creature’s whereabouts.”

    Defrag pursed her lips and glanced sideways at her computer. “So, yet again, I’m to remain in the office?”

    “Not indefinitely.” Tracer turned his chair so he was facing his desk. “I’ve no idea how powerful this creature is. We might well need your assistance in the field.”

    ...

    The ship was finally ready to go, with Cyan Island as the next main destination. Macro stood beside his chair, watching Pulse City turn out of their field of vision as Wildcard Gamma pulled out of the docks.

    Cyan Island may well be their next destination, but there was something he desperately wanted to do first. That was prove to Switch that the world he knew was no more. Any sign of the ‘drifting continents’ that were rumored to have once filled System’s skies were gone.

    Macro hadn’t believed in them. He hadn’t believed in any of it, and the human’s constant yammering about things of legend were really beginning to grate on him. If showing him what state System now lay in would shut him up then he was more than keen to do so.

    Raster Town. That was the destination he’d chosen. It was one of - if not the most - worst places on System, almost tying with the Analogue Isles. A smirk tugged at his lips and he glanced over at the navigation desk. It would be dawn by the time they arrived at Raster Town. Somewhat safer than it would be at night. Somewhat.

    Switch huddled in the corner of the cockpit with his wings slightly spread. The motion of the ship turning clearly unsettled him. Macro had never considered a flying pokemon wouldn’t like traveling in a flying vehicle, but in some way it made sense. Having no control over the movements, and only having two legs and a pair of wings to balance with, he could only begin to imagine the difficulties.

    DL strolled into the cockpit, yawning widely. Her fur was still damp from her late shower. Either she didn’t know how to use the fur drier or she couldn’t be bothered with it. Her fur stuck out at funny angles around her shoulders, and crinkled around her ears. Somehow, she still managed to pull off the look.

    She clambered up into his seat and he looked down at her, forcing a leer.

    “Why do you insist on stealing my seat?” he grumbled.

    “I’m not stealing it, I’m borrowing it,” she said. “Besides, there’s plenty of room.”

    “It’s the captain’s seat,” he said.

    “You’re not using it.” She fastened the seatbelt around her waist and leant back, keeping her melted chocolate eyes on his. “Would you rather I fall about, instead?”

    “She has a point,” said Switch. “You really could use two extra seats.”

    “I’d vouch for three,” said Matrix. “We’re picking up new pokemon at an alarming rate recently.”

    “We have no room for any more,” said Macro. “We’ve already filled the two spare bedrooms we had. If we pick up anyone else, we’d have to share.” He frowned. “And I’m not sharing with Anchor.”

    “Don’t worry ‘bout that, Cap’n,” said the granbull. “I don’t quite fancy sharing with you, either. You’re a cover hog.”

    Anchor met Macro’s glare and laughed, striking the dashboard with his paw.”

    “You can’t talk to me like that,” said Macro.

    “Why?” Switch asked before Anchor could even throw a playful retort. “You talk to everyone else like that.”

    “Because I’m the captain.” Macro rounded on him and his right paw fondled the handle of his laser. “You need to watch it, human, or you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of my water laser.”

    “Water pistol.” Switch smirked then winked.

    Macro opened his mouth to throw a remark but caught DL’s concerned face in his peripheral vision. Instead, he let out a sigh and ran a paw over his face.

    “I’m getting a headache,” he said. “I’m gonna get to bed. And don’t anyone dare disturb me.” He threw this last comment at the pachirisu.

    She sank slightly in his seat, but that concerned expression never fell. Was she worried for him or for Switch? He didn’t know, and he didn’t want to know.

    “I’ll be back out before dawn.” He stomped from the cockpit.

    “What if we need you?” Anchor’s voice froze him at the door.

    “Define ‘need’,” said Macro.

    “Erm… government fleet attack?”

    Macro snorted. “Throw up the shields and fly fast. Maybe tie Switch down so he doesn’t break anything.”

    As he stormed down the corridor, he heard Switch ask Anchor in a wavering voice;

    “Does he mean bones or computers?”

    Macro slammed his bedroom door behind him and threw himself onto the bed, flinching as the handle of his right laser jabbed him in the kidney. He wriggled out of his belt and tossed it unceremoniously onto his chair. With a groan, he fell onto his back and pressed his paws over his face. Things were beginning to get rather confusing.

    Ordinarily, he wouldn’t help anyone directly. Space pirates took on jobs - heists, for the sake of a better word. His jobs had always consisted of raiding machine and weapon parts to sell on the black market or to clients; obtaining information about the state of an area; invading government buildings to obtain maps for those who wanted to raid it but wanted low risk (and taking the things they wanted in the process).

    Having unfamiliar pokemon on board was never part of the question. Switch’s situation was beyond unusual, and as for DL, obtaining her memory disks could have been described as heists in their own right.

    DL…

    Scratch that. Things were becoming ridiculously confusing.

    He was beginning to get rather worried - no, scared - that he was developing feelings for the pachirisu. Feelings brought pain. He needed to nip that in the bud and fast.

    Space pirates always looked out for Number One.

    If he was going to stop things growing any more confusing than they already were, he needed to do something about DL. Of course, he couldn’t just let a pokemon without her memories walk around System on her own.

    He groaned again and dragged his claws down his face. That was the gentlemon talking. After all her memories were retrieved, that was it. She had to go.

    ...

    Wildcard Gamma chugged along in the sky at a steady pace. The cockpit was awfully quiet, but it also meant it was much less tense. Macro was still in his room, refusing to come out. Not that anyone had even dared to wake him for fear of laser retaliation. DL was still sat in his seat beside Anchor, watching the world outside with a look of awe. Anchor hummed to himself, carefully steering the hulking mass of a ship through the darkening sky. Matrix monitored the navigation screen, or at least that’s what he was meant to be doing. The radar had been minimized to occupy a quarter of the screen while he played some strange retro game Switch hadn’t seen in years even inside his own time line.

    The talonflame squatted down in a corner, fearing he’d be tossed back and forth around the ship like the pixel ball on Matrix’s screen, but things were going so smoothly it was like they weren’t moving at all.

    “Everything seems…” Switch cleared his throat as he thought over how to word things. “Very relaxed.”

    “Mm-hmm,” said Anchor. “We have our orders, and now we’re simply sticking to them without claws at our back.”

    Switch chuckled and looked over at the door. “Can I ask you something?”

    “Ask away.”

    “Is he always so… strict with you?”

    Anchor burst out laughing and struck the dashboard with a heavy paw. DL leapt slightly in her seat and watched the dog’s arm warily.

    “That’s a funny way of putting it,” said Anchor. “But I’d keep your voice down. Don’t go blaring that around the Cap’n.”

    “I’m serious,” said Switch. “The way he talks to you makes me wonder why you stick around.”

    Anchor fell silent, the jovial smile melting from his face. DL looked up at him curiously, while Matrix wound his antennae in his paw and looked at each of the other pokemon in turn.

    “It’s a long story, Switch,” Anchor explained. “I can tell you, but… if I hear his door open, I’m gonna stop. You all right with that?”

    Switch cast a cautious glance into the hallway, then nodded.

    “Okay. Prepare yourself.” Anchor pushed the steering stick forwards then looked over his shoulder at the talonflame. “This crew ain’t always been the way it was, you know. I met Macro a long time ago. Six years ago, to be exact. Was only a wee kid at the time, myself.”

    “Kid?!” Switch’s eyes flew wide open. “How old are you?”

    “Sixteen.”

    “Pull the other one!”

    Anchor roared with laughter again and looked away. “Nope. I tell no lie, Switch.”

    “Then how old is…” Switch fell silent, fearing the mawile might respond to the sound of his name and cut off the granbull’s story. So he merely nodded down the hallway.

    “The Cap’n’s older than me by like… three years, I think. I lose count. Too many crew members and I don’t do numbers.” He paused as he steered the ship past a high cloud. “Anyway, like I said. It’s not always been this way. He used to belong to another crew, quite a mixed one. Can’t remember the name, but when I met him there were just him and a young lass named Digit. Pretty little buneary, she was. Think he were soft on her.”

    DL’s ear twitched and she looked up at the granbull.

    “Anyway,” he went on, “When I met Macro, it was in Seed City. He were stealin’ sheet metal from one of the supply depots. I were gonna stop him initially, but when I spotted his lasers I knew he were a pirate. Terrified, I decided to help him. Carried several sheets back into one of the surrounding villages. Can’t remember its name. Him and his friend were fixin’ up a ship, see. Looked like a magikarp and he’d named it Wildcard. Pretty basic thing. Not one of them knew how to build a vehicle, and suffice to say the ship never even took off. Burst into flames, actually. We put it out and I told him I’d design the next one. That’s when Wildcard Beta came along. He designed it, decided he wanted a huntail ship. Went with his alias. Way back then, he went by the name Hunter everywhere. It were the name given to him by his former captain.

    “He told me exactly what happened. They’d been on a raid in the Analogue Isles, but run into another pirate fleet. This was all dragon types, and they decimated the ship’s crew. In a bid to save Digit, Macro had got hit really bad by the leader - a garchomp wearin’ steel claws. Almost lost his eye. But he managed to fight him off and get Digit to safety. After that, they decided to set up their own crew, but first they needed a ship.

    “I were pretty moved and scared, if I’m honest, but I decided to join them. Personally, I felt he’d kill me if I didn’t. But of course, I learned really soon he’s got a heart bigger than he shows. Sadly, that weren’t enough for Digit. Thanks to Macro’s wiles, they were often at odds, and after a rather… unfortunate heist… she decided he couldn’t take things seriously. Like everything was a joke. He takes too many risks, I’ll admit, but she couldn’t take it any more. So she up and left, leavin’ us down a navigator. Neither of us can navigate to save our lives, so we put out some feelers in Pulse City, and that’s where we found Matrix, lurkin’ in the Moonlight Lounge.”

    Matrix released his antennae and nodded towards the kitchen. “Cookie wasn’t too far behind, either. We needed a cook.”

    “Could burn water, our Cap’n,” said Anchor. “And I hate to cook.”

    Switch chuckled and gave another glance down the corridor. “So… you see through that icy exterior.”

    “Right through.” Anchor gave him a warm smile. “Give it time, Switch. He ain’t all bad. To be honest, he ain’t got a bad bone in his body. Besides, someone has to keep him sane. I often fear if I weren’t around, he’d take one risk too many and be dead in less than a week.”

    Switch nodded. “Makes sense. We all need someone.” He paused, his mind going to the mental image of a huntail ship. “So… what happened to Wildcard Beta?”

    Anchor took in a sharp breath through his teeth. “We don’t talk about Wildcard Beta.”
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      #27    
    Old December 15th, 2017 (7:55 AM).
    Delirious Absol's Avatar
    Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
    Call me Del
       
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      Chapter Twenty Five


      As Wildcard Gamma descended below the clouds, the temperature inside began to escalate. The air conditioning whirred as it tried to keep the occupants cool, and Matrix buzzed his wings rapidly to keep his own body temperature down. The only one who had no complaints was Switch, huddled in the corner keeping his eyes on the windscreen.

      “I think we’re here.” Macro stood and motioned for the talonflame to follow him.

      “Five more minutes,” said Matrix. “We’re still passing over the desert, but the town is right ahead of us.”

      Macro nodded his acknowledgment, but went to the hatch anyway. It would take five minutes just to get set up. He reached into the cupboard inside the hatch and pulled out two masks. One for himself, one for Switch.

      “What are these for?” Switch asked as he eyed the offered mask.

      “Air’s toxic,” said Macro. “You breathe that stuff in, you’ll die in days.”

      The talonflame didn’t need telling twice. He took the mask and tugged it over his head with his talons. Macro fastened his in place, watching the large raptor struggle to get the mask on. It was certainly not designed for a bird, despite the beak-like nose piece.

      Macro reached up to help Switch fasten it around his head, and he gave it a quick check over to make sure there were no gaps. It was actually a little on the small side.

      “Thanks.” Switch’s voice came out muffled and he shook his head sharply.

      “Don’t dislodge it,” Macro scoffed as he returned to fastening his own mask in place. “You don’t want any of that air getting in.”

      “You said it’s toxic.” Switch turned the green glassy eye covers on him. “So surely you’d be immune, right?”

      “Doesn’t work like that. It’s not toxic like say a nidoran or a salazzle. It’s pollution. Even a poison type doesn’t wanna breathe that stuff in.”

      “But surely grimer and muk would thrive?”

      Macro shook his head. “They still have to breathe, Switch. That polluted air rots the lungs.”

      “So it’s uninhabitable?” Switch asked.

      “Completely.” Macro leant back against the cupboard and looked out through the small window. “Pokemon cleaned up in places like Meta and Seed City. So efficiently that the local grimer and muk began to transform. With no sewage left to eat, they had to eat garbage instead, but then the civil war struck and all poison types were shunned to the toxic outskirts. Those transformed grimer and muk died out in mere days. You’d think something would adapt to be able to survive in those areas, but nope. No life can live in it.”

      Matrix’s voice echoed out over the intercom. “Arriving in Raster Town now. Get ready to drop.”

      Anchor strode into the hatch and grabbed a large mask from the cupboard. It was over his face in seconds and he braced himself behind Macro.

      “You’re joining us, too?” Switch asked the granbull.

      “Of course,” said Anchor. “Wouldn’t leave my Cap’n to fend for himself in the desert of all places.”

      Macro said nothing, but his jaw clenched tightly shut. Fire and ground types. Bane of his existence.

      He grabbed the neon pink ladder and plummeted towards the barren landscape. Hot air assaulted his body and his pads began to sweat. Switch zipped past him like a red dart, but the ladder picked up speed, passing the talonflame and hitting the ground before he even had time to land. Anchor dropped down behind Macro and the pair of them looked up as Switch swooped gracefully down beside them.

      The sand was red hot on Macro’s pads and it wasn’t even noon yet. He dreaded to think how hot Raster Town got during the middle of the day. He could already feel himself weakening.

      “So this is Raster Town?” Switch hopped in a circle as he took in the scene. “The sky is yellow!”

      “That’s the pollution,” said Anchor. “I wouldn’t worry yourself over that. What you need to worry about is what’s on the ground.”

      Switch looked down then followed Anchor’s eyes towards the town.

      They were right on the edge of it. Squat sandstone buildings dotted throughout the small town, many of them boarded up. It was a common sight in the outskirts of Meta City. Raster Town was one of the furthest towns away from the capital, and just like the outskirts it couldn’t afford to keep shops open. Mainly because it struggled to fill them with produce in the first place.

      Only a small number of pokemon were awake. Macro spotted a young larvitar scurrying about in the dusty streets with no sign of a parent. A few feet away on a rock outside the town, a salandit lay basking beside a gabite. Early risers. Neither of which he wanted a run-in with.

      Macro tapped Switch on the wing and nodded past the basking reptiles.

      “Follow me,” he said.

      Switch looked around warily and hopped after the two space pirates. Keeping one eye on the two sunbathing lizards, Macro led the talonflame around them. What he wanted to show him lay at the end of Raster Town. One of the very reasons it fell into such disrepair, if legends were to be believed.

      A huge hulking mountain rose out of the ground, surrounded with small boarded-up houses and shops. Only one or two of the buildings even had pokemon living in them. The mountain, however, was barren. Dotted with ruins and the remains of blackened trees. Cacti had taken up growing over it, supported by the dry and sandy terrain.

      “This,” Macro said, “is what is believed to be the remains of a ‘drifting continent’.” He raised his paws in an air quote.

      Switch stared up at it, his eyes wide behind the glass protectors.

      “This?” he stuttered. “Why didn’t they get it flying again? Why leave it?”

      “I’m not even completely convinced it was one,” said Macro. “But, if what they teach us in history books has any truth behind it, there are three of these mounds. Two of them are in the ocean. This one is said to have crushed half of Raster Town. Apparently they’d crashed once before, and they got them back in the air again. But when they crashed down about one hundred years later, they were deemed too dangerous and stripped of their mechanical parts. Rumours covering up a pile of tauros poop if you ask me.”

      Switch ducked beside the mound, trying to peer inside a tiny cave.

      “I don’t believe you,” he said. “What really happened to them?”

      “Is this not one?” Macro asked.

      Switch flapped his wings and rose up to inspect higher up.

      Macro sighed and shook his head. “I really thought this would put him to rest.”

      “He doesn’t belong in this time line,” said Anchor. “I think we need to get him back and fast.”

      “I agree. And then he’ll be out of my fur.”

      A deep rumble shook the ground and Macro staggered backwards into Anchor. Sand exploded beside them and he looked up with a start, right into the gaping jaws of a steelix. The metal snake roared, revealing row upon row of lumpy alien growths. Not a tooth in sight. The stench of death and decay poured from its mouth, permeating the vents on Macro’s mask and causing him to gag. The large spikes along the metal snake’s segmented body rotated like a windmill, filling the air with a deafening grating screech.

      Macro pressed his paws over his ears and moved behind Anchor. He really needed his gun, but that screech was too much to bare.

      “Look out!”

      Switch darted down from the mound, his body glowing orange with intense heat and distorting the air around him. He collided with the steelix, the pair of them exploding in flames. The steelix opened its mouth wide and roared as it surged sideways. Switch arced up into the air and swooped back down for a second attack.

      Macro and Anchor leapt apart in a bid to avoid the intense heat radiating from the talonflame. Macro reached for his gun, quickly loading up his ground laser.

      “I’m gonna blast this thing back into the hole it came from!” Macro barked.

      “Don’t be too harsh, Cap’n,” Anchor warned him. “He’s sick.”

      “Sick or not, he attacked us first.”

      Macro aimed his laser, firing out what looked like a stream of sand and dirt. It vanished as it collided with the steelix’s body, and Switch recoiled back with a squawk of surprise. The huge metal snake hit the ground, throwing up a cloud of dusty sand. Switch screeched and flew backwards, shaking his head violently.

      Macro swore under his breath and fired off another stream. There was no way any sand got through the bird’s mask. It was impossible.

      The steelix rolled backwards with the impact, his long tail flailing like a bludgeon. It came crashing down sideways, right towards the disoriented talonflame.

      “Switch!” Anchor roared. “Move it!”

      The granbull leapt towards him as Macro readied another shot to fire at the steelix’s immense tail. His shot missed by a hair’s breadth. Anchor collided with Switch head on, ramming him into the ground. He grunted and rolled backwards, pulling Switch out of harm’s way.

      The steelix’s bludgeon of a tail came crashing down, and Switch let out a shriek of pain.

      Anchor sat bolt upright, clutching his stomach with one paw. Macro let his gun fall to his side. There was no way the talonflame had been hit? Was there?

      Macro stepped warily to the side. Switch flailed, flapping on his back as he strained to pull himself away from the steelix. That heavy tail had landed on the tip of his wing, pinning him to the ground.

      Anchor stood up, keeping his paw clasped to his stomach. He shoved his other paw beneath the steelix’s tail and lifted. Tendons showed in his arm as he strained beneath its weight, but it wouldn’t so much as budge. He moved his arm from his stomach, leaving a tiny trail of blood as it trickled from his claws, and tried to hoist the tail up with both arms to no avail.

      Macro raised his laser again and aimed it about a foot from the talonflame’s pinned wing.

      “Stand aside, Anchor.”

      Anchor looked back at him, confusion reflecting behind the green glass of his goggles. He looked from the laser to the talonflame and cautiously returned to Switch’s side.

      “Brace yourself, Switch,” said Macro. “I’m gonna have to blast you free.”

      The talonflame seized his frantic flapping and snapped his head around to fix on Macro’s laser. His golden eyes opened wide with fear and his entire body froze.

      Macro fired.

      Sand and dirt exploded beneath the steelix and talonflame, blowing the latter into the air with the intensity of a geyser. The steelix rolled sideways, creating a trail of dust that blocked out the sight of the mound and run-down town.

      Switch squawked, flapping his wings helplessly as he tried to right himself. He came down on his back and turned in the air, using his wings to glide the rest of the way. Regardless, he still hit the ground with some force and he grunted with the impact. He skidded forward slightly, marring his underside with a sandy yellow-brown.

      Anchor stood up slowly, his paw once again clasped to his gut.

      “You all right, Switch?” he asked.

      Switch winced and turned sideways, lifting his wounded wing cautiously. The effort alone caused him to whine. He rolled onto his back, using his talons to switch his form back to that of a human. Then both hands clasped around his ankle as he let out a rather loud scream.

      Macro looked up with a start, checking the unconscious steelix and making sure no one in the town could see them. Switch was making a lot of noise despite the mask that must have been suffocating him. A gabite sat outside one of the bars, his neck straight as he listened to the racket. Fortunately he hadn’t seen them, thanks to the angle of the mound.

      “Change back!” Macro demanded.

      Reluctantly, Switch released his ankle and pressed his watch, shrinking back down to a talonflame. Anchor dropped down beside him and checked his wing, much to the human’s complaints.

      “He’s broke it,” he said. “We’re gonna have to get back to Wildcard and fast.”

      Macro rolled his eyes and tugged his computer from his pouch.

      “Matrix?” he said into it.

      The ribombee didn’t reply with his voice. Instead, the words ‘is there a problem?’ appeared on the screen, followed by a smiley face.

      It was no time for a smiley face.

      “Yes, there’s a problem!” Macro snapped. “I’ve got a wounded talonflame and I’m pretty sure Anchor’s wounded as well. Send down the ladder.”

      ‘Just a moment’ was the ribombee’s response.

      Macro sighed and stuffed his computer back into his pocket. He eyed the two wounded pokemon and shook his head. How on earth were they meant to get Switch back up there if Anchor only had one free arm to hoist himself up?

      He pulled his computer back out again and said into it, “Maybe come down yourself, too, with some rope.”

      Moments later, the neon ladder flashed into place with metallic ‘chinks’. It appeared long before Matrix did, and Macro had long since finished discussing his plan with Anchor.

      The mawile kept a wary eye on Raster Town. So far, no one had ventured from it, and the steelix was still unconscious. Macro was beginning to worry he’d accidentally killed the huge steel snake, but due to the consistency of its body it wouldn’t be easy to check without standing by its head, and there was no way he was putting himself anywhere near its deadly mouth.

      Matrix landed beside them and unwound the rope from over his shoulder.

      “I hope there’s enough,” he said. “What do you plan to do with it?”

      Anchor released his abdomen, revealing two deep gashes just below his ribs. When Switch noticed them, he poured out a string of apologies interspersed with grunts at his own pain.

      Anchor ignored them, instead hoisting the talonflame onto his shoulders. Macro grabbed the rope and fastened it around Switch’s wings and body, tying him firmly in place over the granbull’s back.

      “All right,” said Macro. “That should at least get him on board the ship. You go first, just in case anything disastrous happens.”

      He fired another glance at the town as Anchor mounted the ladder, leaving Macro to grab the bottom two rungs. Matrix zipped up ahead of them, and once he was inside the hatch the ladder began to ascend.

      “I’m really sorry,” Switch gasped out.

      “Don’t worry about it,” said Anchor. “It’s only a scratch.”

      Macro snorted at the granbull’s response, his eyes going to the ground as he followed several drips of crimson blood. ‘Scratch’ his left foot.

      ...

      Annie stared up at the slatted ceiling, clutching the duvet over her chest. She had no recollection of falling asleep in such a strange room. It smelled damp and a little of feces. She glanced under the cover. Nope, she was good. The smell must have been coming from the bathroom. Oddly enough, she knew where that was, but the bedroom was rather unfamiliar.

      Things slowly came back to her as she perched on the edge of the bed, stretching her arms until her shoulders and back popped. This wasn’t a cell. It was a house that belonged to some weird pokemon. Ones that didn’t want to fill her up with tablets so she’d stop rambling about the colour of the walls.

      Tablets!

      Her eyes flew to the blue container perched on a dresser, right beside a glass of yellow-tinted water. The water was rather warm and had a funny earthy smell to it. Not exactly palatable, but it would do. Her plan began to come back to her. Time travel. Time archeops. Wait until the effects of the tablets wore off before taking another one, and hope she’d secure the feathered form of the exotic reptile bird thing.

      She tapped her foot in irritation and looked over at the window. The pair of yellowed curtains billowed as wind whipped through the cracked windows. Daylight. It was totally daylight. So why was nothing happening?

      There was a soft rap at the door, followed by it moving inward with an audible, complaining creak. A rather gentle face peered in. Purple and white, with thick fur around her jaws. She stood almost bipedal as she held the doorknob in one large paw. A skuntank. Web. That was it.

      “You’re awake,” she said. “That’s good, I was a little worried you might still be dozing. Are you free?”

      Annie looked from the skuntank to the pill bottle and back. With a shrug, she stood up and carried the bottle and glass of tepid ‘water’ with her as she followed Web down the creaking stairs.

      “It was touch and go most of the night,” said Web. “Up until around three AM when the little guy finally opened his eyes. Then things were much easier.”

      Annie inclined her head on one side as she tried to absorb the skunk pokemon’s words. Her answer came in the form of a bucket beside the kitchen sink. Trojan - she recognized the scrafty - tucked into what appeared to be sandwich with some berry filling. His eyes went from the bucket to Annie and he frowned.

      “You snore,” he scoffed. “Really loud, n’all. Kept me up for hours.”

      It was then that Annie noted the dark rings under his eyes. Not exactly something she wasn’t accustomed to, herself. She shrugged off the scrafty and went over to the bucket. Peering up at her from beneath the off-colour water were the wide, slightly bugged eyes of a goldeen. His lips curled up into a smile and he flicked his tail, splashing water spray over the edge of the bucket.

      “Hi!” he said. “You’re the one who helped me yesterday!”

      “Yesterday.” Annie looked up at the ceiling and raised a finger to her chin. “Yes. You’re that little fish.”

      “Thanks to you, I’m healing! My name’s Zip! What’s yours?”

      Annie stood up straight and stared down at him for a moment longer. The stitching on his side certainly looked like small zips.

      “It’s Annie,” she said. “At least… I think it is.”

      “You think?” He chuckled.

      “It’s been a long time. I’ve probably forgotten and warped it over the years.” Pause. “Or made it up entirely.”

      Trojan took a huge bite out of his sandwich. “You’re not entirely sane, are you?”

      Annie turned to Web and nodded at the bucket. “He needs to be in the river like a normal fish. Where is it?”

      Web blinked a few times and eyed the bucket warily. “The river… would not be safe for him right now. In his state there’s no way he could escape the nets set for water dwellers.”

      “Nets?”

      “Yes. Pokemon catch and eat them.” She looked up at Annie, her eyes wide with confusion. “Have you forgotten what we talked about last night?”

      “Maybe.” Annie paused and looked over the skuntank’s shoulder. “So he can’t go back in the river. That means you have a fish in your kitchen.”

      Web laughed and shook her head. “I really don’t mind. And I’m sure both Waveform and Trojan are okay with it, too.”

      Trojan snorted. “Kinda in the way, but whatever.”

      A strange feeling began to surge through Annie’s body, making her fingers tingle. She clenched them tightly and glanced around the room with quick movements, like she was trying to track a yanma.

      “Well. I’ll leave him in your hands then.”

      Her limbs exploded with yellow feathers and the room suddenly grew larger. She hit the floor with a yelp. Wait… no, that was Web’s yelp. The skuntank fell back from her, and her face grew so pale it made her nose look white. Trojan even dropped his sandwich.

      Annie looked down at her feathered body and leapt to her feet with a cheer.

      “They wore off! The pills wore off!”

      She scrambled up to the table and scooped up the tablet bottle. Her scaly claws fumbled with the container until she managed to prise the child-locked lid free. Two tablets were all she needed. Two to fasten her in the form of an archeops, provided she didn’t change last minute and stick to the non-time-traveling human form.

      She grimaced slightly at the taste of the tepid water, but once the tablets were washed down she slammed the glass back onto the table top with a satisfied sigh. Then she spread her wings and looked down at herself, waiting.

      One.

      Two.

      Nothing.

      She was still an archeops.

      A grin spread across her face, flashing two rows of sharp teeth.

      “Space!” she shouted. “I need space!”

      She scrambled from the kitchen on all fours, her claws skittering over the wooden floor. The stairs were nothing in her archeops form. She scrambled up them like a lizard until she reached her room.

      Space. There was ample enough of that in the sparse bedroom.

      “Now what was I doing,” she asked herself slowly, “when I time traveled?”

      It was a good question. She’d been doing a lot of things. Talking to herself, answering questions that had come up in her mind. Arguing with herself when her mind told her the answers were wrong. Discussing the wall colour. White was such an abrasive colour, and it was everywhere in that cell. Eating. Yes, she’d had some berries.

      Leaping.

      That was what she’d been doing.

      Whenever she took on that bird’s form, she liked to see if she could fly. She’d been leaping, her form changing intermittently in the process. The archeops could leap higher than her human form. So it must have been that. She’d been an archeops, leaping around until she’d leapt so high she’d managed to change time lines. That must have been it!

      So she leapt.

      Back and forth in the bedroom, flapping her undeveloped wings and gaining some level of altitude. Her head struck the dangling light fitting, and it swayed back and forth dangerously. She didn’t care. She needed to be higher.

      She stopped and looked over at the window. The roof. Maybe she should try the roof.

      She scurried to the window, prising it open against its stiff latch. It barely moved an inch.

      “Stupid window!” she snapped. “Let me out!”

      “Annie!”

      She froze and turned her head to look over her shoulder. Web stood in the doorway, her face twisted with concern. Trojan stood behind her, chewing on his sandwich with a look of amusement.

      “What are you doing?” Web asked softly.

      “Trying to time travel,” Annie said, as though it was the most obvious thing ever. It’s how I got here, right? I jumped around and here I am.”

      “I don’t think it’s that simple,” said the skuntank. “Come down from the window before you hurt yourself.”

      “No! I need to get higher! I leapt super high before I got here!”

      “Leave her.” Waveform appeared behind Web, and Trojan stood aside wearing a disgruntled expression on his face. “If she wants to leap higher, then let her. It might be rather enlightening for her.”

      Web looked up at the decidueye, and her eyes widened as realization fell on her. With a nod, she looked back at the archeops.

      “Fine. You take her to the roof the safe way,” said Web. “I don’t want her falling out of the window or cutting herself on glass. We’ve had enough casualties under this roof to last a lifetime.”

      “I’d hardly say one fish is gonna last you a lifetime.” Annie hopped from the bed and turned to Waveform. “So you’re taking me to the roof?”

      The decidueye appeared rather nervous, but he nodded regardless.

      “How are your wings?” he asked. “Can you fly?”

      “Kinda. I more hop and flap around.”

      “Like a hatchling.” He reached down and placed his wing feathers over her shoulders. “Come on. I’ll carry you if I have to.”

      “This I’ve got to see,” said Trojan.

      Annie trotted after Waveform, following him down the stairs. He went straight out of the door, grabbing his quiver on the way. She thought she heard Web tut.

      The decidueye stopped just outside the house and looked up at the roof.

      “Follow me,” he said.

      In one graceful bound, he spread his wings and lifted himself towards the roof. Not a single sound came from his wings. Deadly silent. It almost gave Annie chills.

      She shook out her own feathers and leapt after him, flapping her wings constantly to try and stay airborne. She didn’t even make it to the second story window before she crashed back down to the ground, knocking the wind out of herself with the impact.

      “Try again!” Waveform called.

      She shook her head sharply and tried once more, this time reaching the window before crashing back down like a sack of spuds.

      Before she could stand back up, a set of talons dug into her back and she let out a surprised yelp as she was lifted from the ground. Waveform carried her effortlessly up to the roof and let her go on the slippery tiles. She had to dig her claws into them to stop herself from sliding off.

      He towered over her, locking her in a vermilion stare. It wasn’t aggressive, impatient or threatening yet somehow she found it oddly intimidating.

      “Try here,” he said. “There’s no ceiling blocking your reach of the sky.”

      Annie pushed herself up and looked up at the clouds. Her entire body was trembling with the effort of holding herself in place. There was no saying she wouldn’t slip to her death. But if she didn’t try, she’d never get back.

      And if she could do this, she could go anywhere.

      She relaxed her claws and, with her back legs, sprang straight up. Her wings were nowhere near as developed as Waveform’s, but she beat them as hard as she could, sending herself over his head and landing in a sprawl behind him. Her claws slipped over the tiles and she clawed at them until she managed to scramble back onto the peak. Then, another leap, sending her back over his head to the other side.

      All the while, he watched her, turning his head almost one-eighty as she leapt back and forth. Every time she slipped, he tensed up and raised his wings ever so slightly.

      After her seventh attempt, she landed behind him, gasping for breath.

      “What am I doing wrong?” she asked herself. “I’m a Time Archeops!”

      “You’re not a ‘Time Archeops’.” He reached down and tugged her to her feet, turning her with both wings to face him. “I think we’ve proved that, don’t you?”

      She blinked at him, meeting his somewhat intimidating vermilion eyes.

      “Then explain how I got here,” she said.

      “You said you were leaping,” he said. “What else happened?”

      “I got sucked through a smoky mist,” she said. “Then someone took me to the mayor.”

      “Who?”

      She shrugged. “I don’t really remember. Some creepy guy and something that looked like an onion.”

      He stared at her, unblinking, for an uncomfortably long time.

      “Did you ever stop to think,” he said slowly, “that this ‘creepy guy’ and ‘onion’ might have had something to do with it?”

      Huh.

      She glanced away at the vast array of rooftops.

      “Because,” he said, “as much as I struggle to believe it, there’s drawings of a pokemon that looks like an onion that is said to be able to travel through time.”

      She looked down at herself then met his eyes again. “I do not look like an onion!”

      “Not you!” He took a deep breath and shook his head. “It’s some pokemon called Celebi.”

      “Huh.” She raised a claw to her chin and looked up at the yellow sky. “Then if I want to get back, I need to get my claws on this onion.”

      “I’d say so.”

      “Waveform, right?” She met his eyes again and set her jaw. “You gonna help me?”
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        #28    
      Old 4 Weeks Ago (9:23 AM).
      Delirious Absol's Avatar
      Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
      Call me Del
         
        Join Date: May 2015
        Location: UK
        Age: 32
        Gender: Female
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        Chapter Twenty Six

        Fortunately, Cookie knew a thing or two about first aid. The brown slurpuff sat with his tongue poked between his lips as he fastened the splints in place around Switch’s wing. The talonflame grimaced, but at least his screaming and groaning had come to an end.

        Macro sat back in his seat, having turned it all the way around to observe Cookie’s first aid skills. No one would assume a chef would have a clue about binding bones, but with all the accidents he’d inflicted on himself it wasn’t much of a surprise.

        Anchor had retired to his room for a lie down. Cookie’s first priority had been to stitch up the deeper of the two gashes. The second was merely a scratch in comparison. He didn’t think any damage had been done to Anchor’s internal organs, and neither did Anchor. But the pain killers had wiped him out and he’d fallen asleep before his head even hit the pillow.

        Macro rubbed the bridge of his nose and stifled a groan, not for the first time. Things had taken a major whack, putting every one of his plans on hold. At least Switch had seen some of Raster Town to get an idea of how things worked in System. Now, Macro would have to take the bull by the horns and steer Wildcard Gamma himself if they were to have any chance of reaching Cyan Island in the next twenty-four hours.

        “All done!” Cookie released Switch’s wing and stood up, beating his paws together. “Don’t go bumping it, okay?”

        Switch eyed his wing cautiously and tried to fold it at his side. His face twisted with pain and instead he held it at a funny angle at his side, not quite completely tucked in place.

        “Thank you,” he said, forcing a smile.

        Cookie beamed. “No problem! I’ll get right on making some sitrus berry waffles! That should help us all feel better, right?”

        With that, he waddled from the cockpit.

        Switch tentatively flexed his wing and turned to look at Macro. Macro merely turned back to the dashboard, scanning his eyes over the complex controls.

        “That thing was barely alive, was it?” Switch asked.

        Macro looked over his shoulder with a start. “Huh?”

        “The steelix,” said Switch. “It was barely alive.”

        “It seemed pretty alive to me,” said Macro as he turned back to the controls. “But I don’t know for how much longer.”

        “It didn’t even have teeth. It’s mouth was riddled with something else, instead.” Switch paused. “Is that was the toxic air does? Or is there some disease I’m not aware of?”

        “It’s the air all right,” said Macro. “It rots the air ways, often resulting in tumors. That steelix were riddled with them.”

        “Yet it still attacked you?”

        “Yeah. Either it wanted to die, or it wanted the money from turning me in, maybe hoping it could afford the medical treatment to remove those tumors. Maybe even buy some bionic lungs.”

        “Do they even exist?” Switch sounded mildly amused.

        “Oh, there’s bionic everything,” said Macro with some disgust. “You name it, they’ve made it. Some wealthier types even shell out to have their organs or skeletons replaced with bionic versions.”

        “I don’t see the point,” said Switch. “I mean, medically, sure, it makes sense. But pokemon just buy modifications?”

        “Yup.”

        “What if they have to evolve?”

        “They can’t,” said Macro. “End of story. Need to use an everstone or they’d die a horrible death in the process.”

        Switch tutted and shifted uneasily. “Why? I just don’t get it.”

        “Fashion. Plus, if you lived in the rough areas you’d find loads of pokemon with bionic body parts. A lot of them are cowboy jobs as well. Pokemon take risks if they fear for survival. Weaker, unevolved sorts desire a quick fix to boost their strengths at the cost of their evolution. Worm is one of them. You might have seen him in Pulse City. He was young and foolish at the time. No idea what he’s had done, he’s never said, but he probably regrets the decision.” He paused. “That might be why he drinks so much.”

        Switch shuddered and rose to his feet. “I’m gonna get to bed and sleep this pain off. Thanks for the nightmares.”

        Macro chuckled dryly and watched the talonflame leave the room. It was just him now. Matrix was still in the kitchen ‘having a snack’. Macro was beginning to assume it was a three course meal. As for DL, he guessed she was helping out Cookie. He sighed and turned back to the controls. Still daylight, and they were wasting it drifting aimlessly in the air miles above Raster Town.

        He shook his head and growled under his breath. “Where do I even begin?”

        ...

        Annie sat at the kitchen table, sipping at a bowl of berry soup. It was strangely bitter, and the bread to go with it was stale. But she was hungry.

        Everyone else was silent, slowly tucking into their own meals. Web claimed she wasn’t the best chef, but Annie felt it impolite to agree. Instead, she said nothing. If there was one thing she remembered from her childhood, it was her mother telling her ‘if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing.’ It had taken her several months to realise she didn’t mean literally say ‘nothing’.

        The goldeen poked his head out of his bucket and fixed them all with a smile.

        “Do you have any sitrus berries left?” he asked. “I’m really hungry.”

        “You’re gonna have to ration that appetite, Zip,” said Trojan. “We barely have enough berries for dinner.”

        Annie let her bowl clatter to the table. “Then we have to get more!”

        “With what money?” Trojan scoffed. “I’ve been out of work for a month now, since my bar closed down. And as for him,” he nudged Waveform with an elbow, causing him to spill soup down his feathers, “he ain’t exactly turning up with pockets full either.”

        “Space pirates don’t just drop out of the sky, you know,” said the decidueye.

        “Space pirates?” Annie raised an eyebrow.

        “Yes,” said Web. “Rebels of the skies. They steal, cheat, raid, even take lives.”

        “They murder?”

        Web flinched. “That’s a harsh way of wording it. They’re reckless. Accidents happen.”

        “Webber should know about that,” said Trojan. “She used to be one”

        Annie looked from Web to the other two pokemon, then counted things off on her claws. She looked back up with a start, turning her head back and forth between the skuntank and decidueye.

        “Waitaminute,” she said.

        “We have a weird relationship,” said Trojan before she could even ask her question.

        “We all struggle to make rent,” said Web. “I’m no longer an active pirate. Haven’t been in two years. There’s a truce between us in exchange for helping one another out.”

        Annie pointed a claw between Web and Waveform. “So I won’t have to pull you two apart, then?”

        Web chuckled but Waveform picked up his bowl and closed his eyes.

        “Her help is worth far more than the five hundred credits I’d get for turning her in,” he said.

        Trojan grunted and folded his arms. “I’d saw my own leg off for five hundred credits. But I ain’t one to break a truce.”

        Annie let her feathered limbs fall onto the table on either side of her bowl. “So life’s hard then?”

        “You could say that,” said Web.

        “I blame Socket,” Trojan scoffed. “Won’t help out anyone who can’t afford it. That’s why the outskirts have virtually turned to sludge.”

        “Sludge, eh?” Annie scratched her chin. “Socket’s the mayor, right?”

        “Yeh,” said Trojan. “The one you slapped.”

        “Whoa!” Zip almost fell out of his bucket. “You slapped her?!”

        “Oh, yeh, the grabby one.” Annie looked up at the ceiling in thought. “Then why don’t you just get a new mayor?”

        “It ain’t as easy as that,” said Trojan.

        “One would have to be voted in,” said Web. “And no one is brave enough to confront her.”

        “All who have tried died trying,” said Waveform somewhat unemotionally.

        “Hmm.” Annie pursed her lips. “Then we should try en-mass.”

        Web and Trojan sat up bolt upright, the former with such force her chair teetered dangerously backward and she flailed her forelegs to right herself. Waveform’s bowl clattered to the floor, sloshing the remains of his soup all over the table and his feathers.

        “We?!” Trojan spat. “You’re saying we should do something?!”

        Annie shrugged. “You want to see an end to this struggle, right? Get a new mayor? I can offer to help you, since I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. At least not until I get my Time Onion.”

        “Okay.” Trojan turned in his seat and waved a paw at her. “Firstly, I’d really like to know why you suddenly believe there’s a Time Onion. But more importantly, what the jack are you suggesting?”

        “I’m suggesting a rebellion.”

        Web’s jaw dropped, while Trojan merely stared at her. She could see Waveform beginning to tremble over his shoulder. Was he cold? She shrugged it off and picked up her bowl to swig more of her soup.

        “Okay, Annie.” Web waved her paws as though trying to calm down a tantruming child. “You need to think about what you’re saying here. A rebellion would be… Well, it would be…”

        Annie looked up and smiled. “Awesome?”

        “Not… quite the word I was looking for,” said the skuntank.

        “Look, you said space pirates are rebels of the skies, right?” said Annie. “And from what I’ve gathered, pirates are a problem. Like rattatas back in my world. Too many of them, so humans try to execute them. Like Waveform is doing with space pirates.”

        “I don’t execute them,” said Waveform. “I turn them in.”

        “That, to me, says there’s a lot of them.” Annie folded her wings. “So. We’d have a lot of potential pirates to get behind us. Overwhelm the mayor.”

        Everyone fell silent, staring at her slack-jawed. All except Zip. He placed his flippers on the edge of his bucket and pushed himself up so he could meet her eye.

        “I can help, too,” he said. “I… because of Socket’s silly law about eating us, I lost my mum and all my brothers and sisters. My dad was killed long before we even hatched. I never met him. I… I want to see an end to all this!”

        He looked away from her to meet everyone else’s gaze, his huge eyes pleading.

        Web placed her face in her paw and sighed.

        “You know what you’re askin’, right?” Trojan looked down at Annie. “You’re suggesting we start a war.”

        “I’m suggesting we start a rebellion.” Annie folded her wings again and locked her green eyes on his. “’Rebellion’ sounds cooler.”

        Waveform gave Trojan a sideways glance. “She’s right. It does sound cooler.”

        Trojan, just like Web, placed his face in his paw and sighed.

        “Now, if we’re gonna recruit space pirates,” said Annie, “we need to think like space pirates. How do space pirates think?”

        This question was directed at Web. The skuntank ran a paw through the fur between her ears and glanced away.

        “How do they think? Wow that’s a tough one. Well…” She looked thoughtful. “They steal and cheat, like I said. And given the name, they fly around in ships.”

        “Like boat ships?” Annie asked.

        “No, not quite. But in tribute to their traditional sea-faring ways before they took to the skies, the ships are all marine themed. A majority of them being designed after fish pokemon.”

        “Like me!” Zip puffed out his chest.

        Annie leant her head on her wing claws and stared at Zip. “No offense, little fish, but I don’t really want a… girly looking ship.”

        The goldeen pouted his bottom lip.

        “It needs to be more imposing.” Annie sat back in her chair and turned her attention to the ceiling again. “Now what kind of marine pokemon would we use?”

        “Well, if you want imposing,” said Trojan, “I’d suggest a sharpedo. Most imposing pokemon in the sea.”

        “Or a huntail,” said Waveform.

        “No, no! Kyogre!” Zip thrashed with excitement, spilling water onto the tiles.

        “Kyogre don’t exist!” Trojan snapped.

        Annie pointed a claw and her eyes widened. “Pyukumuku!”

        Everyone went slack-jawed again.

        “What’s imposing about a pyukumuku?” Trojan scoffed. “You poke them and they spit!”

        “Yes! Spit like a rebel!” Annie laughed.

        “Come on, if you wanna do this, be serious!”

        “I am being serious!” Annie rammed her claws onto the table top. “We are having a ship designed to look like a pyukumuku! And y’all will like it!”

        Trojan crossed his arms and sulked.

        “Now, how do we make it?” Annie asked. “I guess ourselves, right?”

        “You need the materials,” said Web. “Which are expensive, and we don’t have any scrap metal lying around.”

        “You said pirates steal, though, right? So we’ll just have to get some.”

        “Don’t go thieving,” said Waveform. “I’ll get the metal.”

        The decidueye pushed his bowl away and stood up from the table, marching silently from the room.

        “He’s gonna go turn in some pirates,” said Trojan with a chuckle. “Oh, the irony.”

        “I never said we were space pirates,” said Annie. “We’re merely masquerading. You a good artist?”

        He eyed her with a sideways glance and frowned. “I throw graffiti up around Spool City. So yeh, I’d say so.”

        “And you can build things?”

        “I’ve dabbled with engines here and there.” The scrafty tried his best to not look smug.

        “Good. Design me my pyukumuku ship and I’ll make you my chief engineer.”

        Trojan stood up so violently his chair fell backwards with a clatter and skittered across the floor. He stuffed his paws into his baggy trouser-like fur and stomped from the kitchen muttering something about pyukumuku under his breath.

        Annie beamed and struck the table with both paws. “Meeting adjourned!”

        Web stood up straight beside the bucket, holding a wet towel in her paws. Zip was diving up and down, splashing yet more water onto the floor with cries of ‘yay! Rebellion!’

        The skuntank shook her head sadly. “I don’t know about this, Annie.”

        Annie climbed from her seat, not taking her eyes off the larger pokemon.

        “You want this mayor gone, right?” she asked.

        Web rung the towel absently, draining the water back onto the tiles. “I think we all do.”

        “Well then. Let’s ride this ship to freedom and clean air.”

        With that, she strutted from the room to find something a pirate might wear. A space pirate wouldn’t look the part in a white hospital robe.

        ...

        It had taken Macro the whole of an hour to figure out how to firstly get Wildcard Gamma moving, and also how to keep it moving in a straight line. It didn’t help that Anchor’s chair was significantly lower down than his own, and he’d had to crank it up to its full height and stand on it in order to reach the controls. He muttered under his breath about size discrimination then fell onto his bottom, running his paw over his face. At least it was moving now, hopefully in the right direction.

        There was absolutely no way he was going to try and figure out the navigation system, too. He wasn’t exactly oblivious when it came to computers, or maps, but he’d had enough for one day. It was moving in the vague direction of Cyan City. He’d worry more about getting it right on target later. Right now, he was emotionally and mentally exhausted.

        With the hum of the engine as his only company, he found all those niggling thoughts clearing from his mind. Humans, time pockets, BackDoor, DL… It was like white noise, blocking out everything else and replacing it with peace. He began to feel himself being lulled to sleep. He shuffled down in the over-sized seat and closed his eyes, letting the dull drone drag him into a light slumber.

        It was a seemingly uneventful dream that followed. Wildcard Gamma was flying through System Sky, but there was nothing there. No cities. No other ships. Just blackness. Despite the lack of anything, it all felt tranquil.

        They flew along for what felt like hours, just cruising through the night sky. Random banter erupted between Anchor and Matrix, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. He was aware of Switch dozing behind them, and DL pressing up against his side, but nothing bothered him. Everything was just… ordinary.

        Then something flickered in the distance like a star. Macro’s eyes flew to it, realising there had been no stars at all up until that point. Just one light, flickering in the darkness.

        Then it grew, blinding him and sending him off his chair onto the floor.

        His eyes flew open, and he found himself lying on the cockpit floor, his fur covered in a slick sweat. Yet that strange dazzling light remained on his vision, slowly fading out until it left a small dazzle spot that looked like the combination of a flower and a sun, its rays extending off it and alternating in size, narrowing towards the end like petals.

        He rubbed his eyes to remove the lingering effects and pushed himself back to his feet.

        What on earth was that? It had been like any other mellow dream up until that point. His shoulder hurt where he’d landed on it, and it pulsed as he strained to pull himself back into the driver’s seat. Maybe he should have lowered it first.

        Forget it. He was gonna take his own comfortable seat, or go to bed. One or the other.

        As he looked out of the window, he realised it was still daylight. A quick check of his computer told him it was growing closer to dinner time. He’d only been asleep a few minutes.

        That didn’t make sense.

        He rubbed at his eyes again and stared out of the window, shielding them from the brightness as the sun reflected off the surface of the fluffy white clouds.

        Despite how much he tried to rub it away, he could still see that sun-like spot.
        __________________
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        A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
        A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
        Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
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          #29    
        Old 3 Weeks Ago (6:30 AM).
        Delirious Absol's Avatar
        Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
        Call me Del
           
          Join Date: May 2015
          Location: UK
          Age: 32
          Gender: Female
          Nature: Quirky
          Posts: 305
          Chapter Twenty Seven


          Macro hadn’t slept again since that dream. He’d been wide awake, even after the sun had set. The dazzling light in his eyes had subsided, although it had taken a while. System Sky was now as dark as it always was at night, dotted with twinkling stars that he couldn’t help but obsess over.

          It was just a dream. He knew it was just a dream. Yet every time a star caught his eye, he stared at it, nearly daring it to flash and dazzle him.

          Just a dream.

          One of the bedroom doors opened and he leapt in his seat, turning his head and straining his ears. Heavy footsteps. Anchor. Yet Macro’s fur was still on end.

          The granbull yawned and strode into the cockpit, and his eyes opened wide when they fell on the mawile.

          “Cap’n?” Anchor seemed to be questioning whether or not he was still asleep.

          “Yeh, it’s me.” Macro turned and leant back in his chair. “I’ve been watching the cockpit. No sense in risking us crashing into a city.”

          “You could always have set it on auto,” said Anchor. “Circle somewhere inconspicuously for a while, you know?”

          “I don’t know how to set that up,” said Macro. “And Matrix had gone to bed before I could even think to ask him.”

          “Coulda woke me, I’d have done it real quick.”

          Macro waved a paw. “That was out of the question.”

          “Anyway. You should get some sleep.” Anchor narrowed his eyes at him. “Otherwise you’ll be nodding off trying to fight off soldiers in Cyan City.”

          That was a very good point.

          Macro slid from his seat, mumbling a thanks to the granbull before marching from the room. He paused in the doorway and looked back over his shoulder.

          “How’re your stitches?” The words surprised him as they left his mouth.

          Anchor gave a belly laugh and shook his head. “I’m fine, Cap’n. I’ll be by your side tomorrow, fists ‘n’ all.”

          Macro smiled and chuckled nervously before leaving the cockpit. He hadn’t even been asking that. For some reason, he’d merely felt the urge to check up on his first in command… without even thinking.

          Was he turning paranoid?

          He ran a paw over his scar and paused by the rest room. Maybe a shower was what he needed to clear his head.

          Tugging off his belt, he strolled into the room and tossed it aside on the unit. Lavender scented water cascaded down, soaking into his fur, and he realised all too late he’d forgotten to remove his scarf. He cursed silently under his breath and wrenched the now-sodden black scarf from his shoulders and launched it across the room.

          What had got into his head?

          Once the shower was off, he collected his discarded garment under one arm and his belt under the other, and made his way to his room. Hopefully he’d remember which one it was.

          Thankfully he did.

          Once the scarf was hanging over the foot of his bed frame, he climbed under the sheets and tried to summon sleep.

          Unfortunately, it didn’t come. His attempt was wrought with racing thoughts and much tossing and turning. After that dream, nothing felt normal. Things felt… different… and he couldn’t place what had changed.

          Paranoia didn’t even seem an appropriate word to use.

          The moment daylight leaked from his window, he abandoned all efforts to sleep and dragged himself out of bed.

          His scarf was still soggy, and had even left a nice pool of lavender scented water on his tiled floor. He opened his draw to search for a spare and let out a groan. The only one left was worn and tattered. His first one, if he remembered correctly, and it smelled of must.

          He looked over at the chair, still sporting the neatly-folded package Switch had given him. Black. With blue squares at either end, drifting away from their black and blue brick-like formation to meet in the middle as though they were being pulled apart by some invisible force.

          Two colours wasn’t that bad.

          He let out a defeated sigh and grabbed the new scarf, tossing it over his shoulders like he always did. It was a little longer than his chosen scarves, but nevertheless, it kept his tiny form neatly disguised.

          He almost threw himself from his room, and stomped his way towards the cockpit. Anchor raised an eyebrow at him and fixed him with a look of concern.

          “Wow, Cap’n. You’re up early.”

          “Couldn’t sleep.” Macro climbed into his seat and fastened the seatbelt over his waist.

          Anchor shook his head slowly and turned back to his controls. “Well, I sure hope you’re fit for battle. ‘Cos we’re almost at Cyan City.”

          “I’ll be fine.” Macro brushed back a lock of long black fur from his eyes and sighed. “How long?”

          “About an hour. Enough time to grab a quick breakfast, unless you wanna hover over the city for a while. Give us time to prepare.”

          “No. In and out.” Macro leant back in his seat and disguised hugging himself as ‘folding his arms.’

          “You all right, Cap’n?”

          Dang. It hadn’t fooled Anchor in the slightest. Macro sighed again and shook his head.

          “I’m fine. Let’s just get this over with, okay?”

          “Really, Cap’n-”

          “I said I’m fine!” He flashed his canines at the granbull.

          Anchor shook his head and looked back out of the window. “If you say so.”

          Macro couldn’t take much more. He unfastened his seatbelt and dropped from his seat, aggravating his sore shoulder. He’d completely forgotten about that.

          The kitchen was filled with inviting smells and Cookie looked up with a start when he entered. He clutched a ladle in one paw, hovering it over a pan as it dripped melted chocolate back into it. Macro’s stomach rumbled and he grabbed his usual seat at the table.

          “It’ll be a while yet,” said Cookie. “You’re up mad early!”

          “Just serve me whatever’s ready first,” said Macro, slumping over the table with his head in one paw.

          “Okie dokie!” Cookie began to spoon the chocolate sauce into a bowl.

          Macro watched curiously. Was this some kind of new recipe, or a joke at his statement? He couldn’t tell.

          The bowl was popped down before him, complete with a side of cookies.

          The slurpuff beamed. “Chocolate dip with cookies! Bit of an improv, but… the sauce was ready first, so…”

          Macro wasn’t going to complain. He was hungry and the combination sounded oddly tempting. He picked up one cookie - complete with its own chocolate chips - and dipped it into the steaming chocolate. One bite and he practically swooned.

          Cookie let out a sigh of relief. “I was really worried you were gonna throw it back at me!”

          Macro chuckled and waved the slurpuff away. “Get back to your cooking, all’s good here.”

          Cookie waddled back to his stove and continued working away, stirring at something Macro couldn’t identify from the table.

          As he moved onto his second cookie, the door opened and DL looked around, her nose twitching at the different smells. Her eyes fell on Macro and his ‘breakfast’ and she raised an eyebrow.

          “That’s an odd combination,” she said. “Is it one of Cookie’s latest creations?”

          “It is now!” the slurpuff quipped.

          DL pulled up a seat and waved at the chef. “I’d like some too, please.”

          “Coming right up!”

          Macro stared at DL, his chocolate-coated cookie hovering mere millimeters from his lips. His appetite had been shot in the gut, replaced by some fluttery feeling he really didn’t want. He grabbed his bowl and plate of cookies, and headed straight out of the kitchen.

          “Wait! Where are you going?” DL asked.

          “I’ll eat this in the cockpit,” he said. “You stay right there and enjoy your breakfast.”

          He didn’t see the pachirisu’s reaction. He didn’t want to. He just wanted to put as much distance between DL and himself as possible.

          And if that meant spilling chocolate all over the ship’s controls, so be it. He’d explain to Anchor later.

          ...

          Cyan City floated miles below them, its vibrant lakes reflecting the blue of the sky. The lakes were by no means natural, but Cyan City tried to make them look as if they were. Surrounded with stone, they gave the pokemon-made structures a natural feel, and that was also aided by the berry bushes that grew in abundance, maintained by the clean air pumped up and filtered through from System Ground. Wild trees didn’t exist. Everything was cultivated, grown only in areas that had clean air and the pokemon willing to farm them.

          As Macro dropped down on the neon ladder, the pokemon below came into view. Marill and azurill gathered around the lakes, harvesting berries into the backs of small trucks. Squirtle played in the lake along with froakie and mudkip. Totodile and croconaw basked on the rugged rocks.

          Macro diverted his gaze to the horizon. Tall skyscrapers. A common sight. Above them rotated tall, white windmills, generating the city’s electricity via the air. Fortunately they generated more than the air conditioning used.

          His feet touched the ground, hidden away from the working and playing pokemon. Anchor landed beside him and quickly checked his wrist computer.

          “Location is right nearby,” he said. “It’s stored on the second floor of a storehouse. Usually stores berries and food produce. Bit of an odd location if you ask me.”

          “Maybe Socket was desperate,” said Macro.

          Anchor shrugged. “Maybe she thought it would throw you. Be a good disguise.”

          “Or this place is the red herring.” Macro scratched his scar and sighed. “Oh well, we’re here now. Let’s get it over with.”

          “What’s the rush?” Anchor fell into step behind him, glancing over at the workers beyond the bushes. “You seem rather hasty today.”

          “I’m not hasty, I just want this job done.” Macro grit his teeth together. “Then we can finally get back to a normal life.”

          “You’re talkin’ about DL?” Anchor asked. “Or Switch?”

          “Switch doesn’t need these memories,” said Macro with some venom. “Nevertheless, I’ll be glad when we’ve got him back home, too.”

          “This is all wiggin’ you out, ain’t it?” Anchor scratched at his stitches and his face twisted in a way that said he regretted it.

          “Kind of.”

          “Kind of?”

          “Look, I don’t wanna talk about it.” Macro waved him off. “Forget it. Let’s focus, shall we? We’re gonna end up drawing attention to ourselves.”

          Anchor fell silent, his heavy footsteps the only reassurance Macro had that he hadn’t bailed on him. The mawile clenched his paw beside his gun and looked over at the lake. No one had spotted them. Fortunately.

          “Peaceful, ain’t it?” Anchor asked.

          Macro looked over his shoulder. The granbull’s eyes were on the lake, his paws clasped behind his head.

          “You wouldn’t think they were currently at war,” said Anchor. “Makes one glad it’s only on a small scale.”

          Macro nodded but his paw didn’t leave his laser. If they got caught up in the water type pokemon’s war, he wanted to be prepared. He flexed his claws, keeping his ears and eyes open as they moved silently towards the city’s depths.

          As they reached the end of their cover, he faltered, scanning the streets around the lake. It wasn’t as busy as Binary City. Few places were. But he had to remind himself he was no longer safe in System Sky. His reward had spread. Anyone could turn him in now unless they were a pirate.

          That reminder left a bad taste in his mouth.

          Anchor’s sturdy paw fell onto his back and nudged him forwards. The granbull’s eyes were on a young family across the lake - a mother slowbro ushering her two children along. Even if they spotted Macro they wouldn’t be able to keep up with him.

          He darted from his hiding spot and paused at the corner of the road leading into the city. With his back pressed against the cold stone wall of an apartment block, he searched the road. Windows. Doorways. Only the odd pokemon, most of them heading away from the lake towards the centre of the city. Many of them carried re-usable shopping bags.

          The city centre… that would be where they’d have the hardest time, he could smell it. His paw went to his pouch and he considered strongly adding the electric laser capsule to one of his trusty lasers. Water wasn’t exactly a weakness, but would it be ethical to add it? He didn’t need it. He always had his grass laser to fall back on if need be.

          He cursed under his breath, drawing Anchor’s attention. Macro scratched his neck beneath his scarf. He’d never considered ethics before. Usually if he had a new laser capsule he’d use it, no questions asked. Or sell it.

          Maybe he should sell it.

          Flicking his right laser to grass, he marched down the road, keeping his eyes ahead but his ears open to his surroundings. The quicker they got to the facility the faster they could get the memory disk and leave.

          Childlike laughter reached his ears, accompanied by the irregular hollow thud of a ball bouncing off walls. He glanced down a wide alley, spotted the culprits. A pair of oshawott twins chasing after an orange ball designed to look like a giant sitrus berry. Keeping an air of nonchalance, he crossed the road and put the giggling children behind him.

          Then a sweet smell reached his nostrils.

          His nose twitched and he raised his head to follow the smell. It was oddly irresistible, yet he couldn’t place it. Every building along the road was an apartment block. No bakeries in sight. No restaurants. His only assumption was that it was coming from a window or air vent. He tried to ignore it, but his nose kept going back to the air and his head turned almost involuntarily.

          Anchor was in no better state. He’d turned a full one-eighty and stared back towards the alleyway.

          “We should have packed snacks,” said Macro.

          “It ain’t food, Cap’n.”

          Macro licked his watering lips and returned to the granbull’s side. “What is it then?”

          “You know when Cookie is in a real bad mood and starts to sweat?”

          It wasn’t the most attractive image, but Macro nodded anyway.

          “Well, it’s like that,” said Anchor.

          “So someone’s baking pokepuffs. Let’s get a move on.”

          It was easier said than done. All Macro wanted to do was retrace his steps to find the source of that smell.

          “It ain’t pokepuffs,” said Anchor. “Like I said, it ain’t food.”

          Macro looked up at him with a start. He hadn’t noticed earlier, but Anchor wasn’t all that interested in the smell itself. It hadn’t pulled him in like it had Macro. Anchor’s brow was furrowed as he stared back at the alleyway. He wanted to know what was causing it. No… he knew.

          It was blindingly obvious now.

          Macro’s paw shot to his laser and he pushed past the granbull.

          “Wait, Cap’n.” Anchor grabbed his shoulder. “I’ll go help the kids. You go and get that disk.”

          Macro looked from the alley to Anchor, then towards the city. A space pirate looks out for number one. He wasn’t going to get caught up in the water pokemon’s war. Besides, what would a grass type want with a pair of oshawott barely out of their eggs?

          Yet he refused to relinquish his laser.

          Anchor met his eyes and his jaw set in place. “Look. I know it ain’t what we usually do, but I can’t ignore kids in trouble, Cap’n. And I know-”

          “We don’t look out for others,” Macro said, emotionless. “It only comes back to bite you in the ***.”

          His eyes drifted again to the alley. To the source of that smell. Then he rolled his eyes and struck Anchor in the hip with his laser.

          “Come on,” he said.

          If he’d looked away fast enough he’d have missed the look of surprise that flashed across the granbull’s eyes. The larger pokemon followed him closely back towards the alley, keeping up with Macro’s brisk trot.

          No more laughing. No more bouncing ball. Instead, the sitrus-like sphere lay motionless in the middle of the road. The scene was like something from a horror movie. As he stood staring at it, their laughter echoed in his head and sent shivers down his spine.

          Whoever had taken them had either been incredibly stealthy, or invisible.

          Then he realised that smell had gone. His spine stiffened and he looked up, fixing wide eyes on the back of the alley.

          That smell had been a lure, like it had almost lured him in. Yet it had had little to no effect on Anchor. Targeted. The kids were targeted.

          He grit his teeth together, letting out a low growl, and cocked his laser beside his head.

          It was like the Analogue Isles all over again. A lone kid drawn in by an irresistible signal. A cry for help that had ended three lives and almost claimed two children.

          Almost claimed his own.

          He shoved the thought aside and focused on following the non-existent trail through the alley, being careful not to nudge the ball. Any sound would be detrimental, and he needed complete silence if he was going to pinpoint the kids’ invisible abductor.

          Anchor snuffled and lifted his head.

          “Keep going,” he whispered.

          “You can smell it?” Macro replied.

          Anchor nodded. “Trail’s faint, but it’s there.”

          Macro gave a curt nod and pressed on, daring not to breathe. The end of the alley seemed oddly ominous, when just moments before it had been a place of fun. He half expected to see blood on the walls or hear a whimper coming from a trash can.

          “Giga! Gigi!”

          Macro leapt out of his skin, spinning on the spot to aim his gun towards the alleyway mouth. A dewott stood with her back to them, shouting into the streets. Great. The mother. He grimaced. Any chance they had of catching the culprit had been shot in the foot.

          Anchor groaned and slammed a paw into his head.

          “You deal with it,” Macro spat. “I’m gonna find those kids.”

          Anchor pointed a thick claw at the dewott and his eyes widened. “You want me to go and talk to her?”

          “Yeh. Use your words.” Macro turned his back on him and crept further into the alley.

          “Okay.” Anchor was hesitant and he cleared his throat. “I’ll think of something to say. Shout if you need me.”

          “You come straight back,” Macro hissed. “I ain’t doin’ this alone.”

          ...

          The young dewott looked close to tears, her paw clasped at her mouth as her black eyes searched the empty road. Anchor had no idea what to say to her. He moved slowly, keeping one paw raised as he reached her.

          “Excuse me, ma’am.”

          The dewott span on the spot and her eyes bulged. Clearly she wasn’t expecting to see a fairy type in Cyan City, let alone a space pirate. Her jaw dropped and her scream died in her throat as Anchor hushed her, waving his paws in a desperate bid to calm her down.

          “Are you lookin’ for two kids?” he blurted out.

          Her mouth snapped shut and she nodded, eying him suspiciously. Then she looked past him and her cold look melted as tears filled her eyes.

          “That’s their ball…” Her voice choked. “Where are they?”

          “That’s the thing,” said Anchor. “We don’t know.”

          “We?”

          Anchor waved her question away. “They were right there, playin’ as we passed. Then there was this smell. Almost drew my Cap’n away until I told him it weren’t food.”

          “A smell?” The dewott looked up at him again and blinked her tears back. There was that look of suspicion again. “What kind of smell?”

          “I dunno. A sweet one?”

          Her eyes widened and she pushed past him, but he reached around and grabbed her by the arm.

          “Let me go!” she barked.

          “You go after them, you might ruin everything! Calm down! I’m tryin’ to help you here!”

          “Help me?” Her eyes went from his face to his gauntlets and back. “Aren’t you a pirate?”

          “I admit, ma’am, I ain’t exactly here with good intentions. But I ain’t heartless enough to ignore a pair of missing kids.” He paused, watching her eyes go from cold to tearful again. “Now. You gonna accept our help or not?”

          “They’re my babies…” She glanced back down the alley and her voice croaked. “I guess I don’t have much choice. But who is this other mysterious pirate?”

          “You know him as Hunter.”

          Anchor raised an eyebrow as a look of fury flashed across her eyes, but it was quickly replaced by tears again as she fidgeted her paws together, looking back down the alley.

          “He… he’s gone after them?” Her voice was hesitant.

          “Yeh.” Anchor paused and cleared his throat. “You still want his help? ‘Cos I can nearly guarantee you those kids will come out of this alive.”

          “How? He’s dangerous.”

          “That’s exactly why. He might be crazy and take a lot of risks, but he gets the job done.” Anchor folded his arms and smiled. “You want our help or not? ‘Cos I need to get back in there. He’s relyin’ on my nose.”
          __________________
          I believe in Jesus Christ my Savior. If you do too, and aren't scared to admit it, then copy and paste this in your signature.

          A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
          A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
          Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
          Fancy some Cyberpunk PMD action with space pirates? System:Reboot
          Other Fics - SWC entry 'Rivers and Waterfalls'
          'Where else can I find Del?' -FFnet/Wattpad
          Reply With Quote
            #30    
          Old 2 Weeks Ago (8:43 AM).
          Delirious Absol's Avatar
          Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
          Call me Del
             
            Join Date: May 2015
            Location: UK
            Age: 32
            Gender: Female
            Nature: Quirky
            Posts: 305
            Chapter Twenty Eight

            Several times, Macro had considered turning around and going back. There was no sign of whatever had taken the twins, but he couldn’t shake the ominous feeling that something was very wrong. He’d told himself over and over ‘only look out for number one’ but his feet had kept moving forwards regardless.

            Not much time had passed at all when Anchor’s large feet crept over the near-spotless concrete floor to join him at the end of the alley. A wall stretched across at either end, with only a narrow gap between the row of buildings. Neat little trash cans stood at the back doors to the apartment blocks, but there was almost no space for a large pokemon to squeeze between let alone a waste disposal wagon.

            Anchor sniffed twice then pointed towards Macro’s right. “That way.”

            The mawile looked over his shoulder at the granbull, then spotted the petrified dewott behind him. Macro grit his teeth together and tutted before following Anchor’s indicating paw.

            “You brought her with you?” he scoffed.

            “Yeh,” said Anchor. “Ain’t gonna leave behind a terrified mum, am I?”

            “So long as she can watch her own back. I’m not carrying her.” Macro pressed his back against the cold stone wall and cocked his laser beside his ear.

            The dewott let out a sharp gasp and her black eyes flew to his readied weapon. Macro mentally rolled his eyes and began to crawl along the wall. Cyan City. Yet another place with a weapon ban. Well he wasn’t putting it away. A weapon ban didn’t guarantee anyone that whoever had kidnapped the oshawott twins wouldn’t be carrying any. Even if the kidnappers didn’t carry a weapon, a little ban wasn’t going to stop him shoving his laser right in their nose.

            Keeping all eyes forward, they crept along in silence. Well… save for the dewott’s erratic, rapid breathing. Every gasp grated on him and he felt his fur prickle. Surely she would give them away? He bit back the urge to snap at her and took in a steadying breath, focusing all his attention on the task at hand.

            The narrow passageway spread on towards a dead end, right before it would reach the lake. The building along Macro’s left ended at a low wall, and beyond that were a few berry trees, their branches reaching over the passage. Clearly in dire need of a good cutting back. Splintered twigs stuck out from the spindly branches, a hazard to the eyes for pokemon as tall as Anchor. Fresh pecha berries lay scattered along the ground, many of which had rolled up against the cold wall.

            Macro stepped forwards, unconsciously ducking beneath the branches, but something snapped beneath his feet, jabbing into his pads. He lifted up one paw and beneath it was a broken twig, its leaves still as green as those attached to the branch above him.

            Freshly fallen.

            Why would a tree deposit a living branch? Only strong winds could whip it off, and there’d been no strong winds that day.

            He trailed his eyes over the branch and reached up a paw for a closer look, but it was well out of his reach. He tapped Anchor’s hip with the butt of his gun and pointed up at the branch. The granbull understood immediately and tugged it down towards the mawile effortlessly. Macro grabbed hold of it and trailed a claw over the shattered twigs. Fresh sap was still leaking out of them. It wasn’t often he got a close look at a berry tree. They only grew in selected cities. But he was fairly certain it shouldn’t be freely leaking sap. Further along the branch the pecha berries were crushed and fell away at the slightest brush of a paw.

            “Someone’s been climbing this,” he said quietly.

            Anchor grunted in agreement. “That smell’s pretty strong here, too.”

            “So… that means…” The dewott wrung her paws together.

            “They’re probably on the other side of the wall,” said Macro.

            He shoved the side of his laser into his mouth and grabbed hold of the branch in both paws. Anchor gripped the branch tighter and fixed his wide eyes on the mawile.

            “Hang on, Cap’n,” he said. “Don’t be doin’ anything silly now.”

            Macro frowned and shook his head. He wasn’t going to risk speaking and dropping his laser. He wriggled up the branch, dislodging yet more berries, until his head was over the wall. The other side was nothing more than a berry field. Lush green grass dotted with vibrant trees each sporting its own variety of berry. Amongst the trees were other plants - flowers, small trees - so many he couldn’t even begin to name them. He was certainly no botanist. The wind whipped up and that sickly scent beat at him, and it took everything in his power to not let go and drop back down into the alley.

            The wind carried with it more than a smell, however. Voices reached his ears and he gripped tightly at the branch and strained to hear over the rustle of leaves.

            “… be done with this place before dawn.”

            “But what about these two?”

            “Keep ‘em. We’ll need something to make a getaway if we get caught first.”

            Laughter. Sobbing. At least… he thought it was sobbing.

            One of the larger plants moved and his eyes flew to it, then widened. He’d been very wrong. All the plants around the trees weren’t cultivated plants at all. They were pokemon. Each and every one of them. And the one that had moved was an ivysaur. He trailed his eyes over the orchard once more. A perfect hideout for a grass type army. Torterra and grotle; a herd of bulbasaur; bayleef; tangrowth and tangela. In the trees he spotted something else moving. A carnivine. Twigs snapped and fell down into the long grass and it dropped down so it was hanging upside down to say something to one of the bayleef. Macro grit his teeth so tight over his gun it hurt. He’d have bet his ship that was what had snatched the kids.

            He loosened his grip on the branch and shimmied back down it, then let go and landed in a crouch beside Anchor.

            “Anything?” the granbull whispered.

            “Oh yeh,” said Macro. “Think I found the twins.”

            The dewott let out a yelp and rushed towards the wall. Macro’s heart lurched into his throat and he grabbed her by the scruff, throwing her behind him. Before she could scream, his paw was over her mouth. He fixed a violet glare on her terrified eyes and spoke in a hiss.

            “Fool! There’s a whole army of grass pokemon on the other side of that wall! You leap over there, you’ll only get all of us killed!”

            Her eyes widened slowly as tears filled them. A choked sob came out of her throat, muffled by his paw.

            “So are you gonna be quiet?” he asked.

            She nodded.

            He pulled his paw back and wiped it down his scarf. “Right. What’s your name, dewott?”

            “It’s Lossy,” she choked.

            “All right, Lossy,” he said. “We’ve got quite a predicament in our paws. We can do one of two things. One - we alert whoever’s in charge here, which is my least favourite option since… you know… I’m a wanted ‘mon. Two - you co-operate with me and we rescue your kids safely with a few paw-picked friends of yours. Which one will it be?”

            The dewott stared at him for an uncomfortable amount of time. It didn’t help matters that he was already jumpy. Both he and Anchor were straining their ears to figure out what was going on beyond the wall. Finally, the dewott nodded.

            “Okay,” she said. “I’ll co-operate on one condition.”

            Macro visibly grimaced. “And what will that be?”

            “You get those grass types out of Cyan City.”

            Macro’s brows knitted together and he pulled the corner of his mouth back, flashing a sharp canine. She wasn’t serious? Two pirates chasing out an army of grass type pokemon? She had to have a screw loose!

            He waved his laser and turned away, marching back down the alley. “Not on your life.”

            “You’re just going to walk away?” Her whisper came out as a squeak and Macro jerked his head around to the wall. “You can’t just leave them! They’re kids!”

            Anchor stood over her, waving his paws to calm the seething otter down. It took everything in Macro’s power to not point his gun at her. It wouldn’t be remotely gentlemonly at all. Instead, he forced himself to stick it back into its holster and folded his arms.

            “Look, Lossy,” he spat. “What you’re askin’ is borderline impossible.”

            “Exactly. Borderline,” she said.

            He shrugged his paws. “I was being generous. It’s absolutely impossible.”

            “Then we take it to the authorities,” she whispered. “They’ll know what to do.”

            “Okay, I’ll make a deal with you.” Macro leant against the door frame of an apartment block and kept one eye on the spot by the overhanging branch. “We’ll swoop in there and rescue your tiny kids, then we’ll swoop off. You can alert the authorities and deal with your leafy invasion. All right? ‘Cos I ain’t playin’ no part in your little war.”

            “Except for a small rescue mission,” said Anchor.

            Macro nodded. “Except for a small rescue mission.”

            Lossy sighed and shook her head. “All right, fine. But if you helped get rid of them, then they might think-”

            “That you’d ganged up with some other type and got yourself a little back up?” Macro smirked and let out a chuckle. “Then what? The grass types on System Ground rise up and retaliate against Seed City ‘cos they think the fairy type has turned on them? That’s how full-blown wars start, Lossy. I ain’t playin’ no part in it. I’m already worth forty thousand credits. You think I really wanna crank that up?”

            He kicked away from the wall and began walking back towards the mouth of the larger alley. After a few steps, he looked back at the dewott. She still stood by the low hanging branch, rubbing her paws together while staring at the wall.

            Macro sighed and waved his laser at Anchor. “Grab her.”

            The granbull obliged, scooping up the dewott and placing a paw over her mouth to stifle her scream. He hushed her and trotted after Macro, keeping one eye on the orchard wall.

            Once they were back in the alley, Macro stopped again and holstered his gun.

            “Do you have a map of this city?” he asked Lossy.

            Anchor set her back down and stood between her and the route to the orchard. She looked up at him with a feeble whine and turned back to Macro, fixing him with a leer.

            “A map? What for?”

            “To scout out every route to and from the orchard, what else would I want one for?” Macro waved his arms in exasperation.

            “Well you are a pirate. Anyway, no. I don’t have a map.”

            “Then where can I get one?”

            Macro pulled out his computer and did a quick internet search for Cyan City. None of them were as detailed as he’d have liked. Just as he’d expected. This was going to be impossible.

            It was at times like this he wished he could fly to get a clear aerial view. If Switch wasn’t recovering from a splintered wing, he’d have messaged him to get his feathered tail down into the city and scout out the vicinity.

            He folded his arms and leant back against the wall. “Know any flying types who can help us?”

            Lossy shook her head and stared weakly at the road. “I… don’t have many friends.”

            “Huh.” He scratched his scar. “No one who can help us?”

            She shook her head again.

            Macro tutted. He found that hard to believe. But he wasn’t going to force her. They were just going to have to do this alone.

            Or he was, at least.

            “Anchor, get her back home,” he said. “Keep her sane. I’ll go and find a way into that orchard without being seen. See what they’re up to, and take it from there.”

            “You serious?” the granbull scoffed.

            “Deathly.” Macro met his frown with a leer. “I don’t want her doing anything foolish. Leave this to me. I’ll message you if anything goes wrong.”

            Anchor groaned and pushed back his mohawk. “Seriously, Cap’n. Don’t do anything crazy, all right?” He placed a paw on the dewott’s shoulders. “Come along, ma’am. Let’s get you a hot cup of tea or something, yeah?”

            Macro watched them go, feeling a cold chill wash over his body. Do this alone… why did it suddenly feel like a bad idea?

            ...

            Annie turned in her new outfit, trying to catch it in the right light. The waistcoat jacket came down to her hips. A little shorter than she would have liked, but it had belonged to a skuntank and they were a bit smaller than a human even on their hind legs. Somehow, Web had managed to acquire a pair of trousers. When Annie had asked, all the skuntank had said was that she’d just looked in the right place. The thread and needle lying on her bedside table told Annie that Web had been patching things up, and going off the colour of the thread it had been the trousers. They were baggy, which she liked.

            No shoes, however. She was walking around bare foot. She’d need to do something about that.

            The white robe had been fashioned into a frilly white shirt. She certainly had to admire Web’s sewing skills. The poor skuntank hadn’t slept a wink and kept yawning as Annie turned before the full-length wall mirror.

            “Not bad,” she said finally.

            Web paused mid-yawn and frowned slightly, but she hid whatever she had to say behind a nod.

            “I’m just glad it fits,” said Web. “I was a bit concerned the trousers would be too big, or too small to be honest. I’ve never made clothes to fit a human before.”

            “You’re good at it,” said Annie.

            That elicited a smile from the skuntank and she drew closer to Annie to look in the mirror.

            “I can’t sew to save my life,” said Annie. “Well done, Web. I might make you my personal tailor.”

            The skuntank laughed and turned back to her night stand. She gathered her sewing equipment up noisily into its tin container.

            “It’ll keep you warmer than that robe,” she said. “Just be careful not to tear it. I don’t think I could afford the fabric to make you anything new. I was fortunate enough to find the stuff to make the trousers.”

            Annie spun on the spot, wafting up the smell of dust and skunk. Her nose crinkled slightly but she forced a smile.

            “Don’t worry. I won’t go snagging it on any wire or anything,” she said. “Now. Is Waveform back yet?”

            “I’ve not seen him all morning,” said Web. “I don’t think he came back last night, either. He might still be trying to make some money to buy all the stuff to build your ship.”

            Web’s voice was thick with disapproval that Annie chose to ignore. She folded her arms and puffed out her chest.

            “Ah yes. My pyukumuku ship. Maybe I should go and look for him.”

            “I wouldn’t go out like that, dear,” said Web. “Not many pokemon would be quite as accepting as we are. You might cause quite the fright.”

            Annie waved a hand. “Fright schmight. I’m gonna go have a look for him. Rebellions can’t dither around forever.”

            “They also don’t happen overnight,” said Web. “They take time to plan.” She narrowed her eyes. “Carefully.”

            Annie gave another dismissive wave and strolled from the room, wafting away a cloud of musty skunk that she was convinced she could see. Oh well. Some fresh air might make it dissipate.

            As she strolled through the front door, she walked smack into a thick wall of putrid air. Her nose almost retreated into her face. Great, she’d almost forgotten about that. She wafted a hand before her nose and looked up at the sky.

            Daylight.

            Weren’t decidueye nocturnal?

            She shrugged and marched on, keeping her ears open and her wits about her. There was no sense in being careless.

            The cold concrete floor felt wet on her feet, but she trudged along regardless. Slight movements in passing windows drew her eye ever so fleetingly, meeting the retreating baffled faces of various colourful pokemon. She thrust her hands into her pockets and looked up at the passing buildings. Worn out. Boarded up. Covered in heavy graffiti and posters. Some leapt out at her, depicting the faded faces of various grumpy-looking pokemon beneath a red ‘wanted’ sign. Most of them rewarded a hefty price.

            Maybe that would be her one day?

            ...

            Tracer’s computer lit up with a bright dancing telephone as it rang away at him. One flick of his paw across the screen and the image expanded out into an anonymous black window. The voice that came out of it was hoarse and scratchy, and he pulled his ears back to reduce some of the awful grating.

            “Is this the detective office?” the voice asked.

            “Yes, you’ve reached Tracer.” They could have given him time to announce himself, he thought.

            “Oh good. ‘Cos I’ve just seen a terrifying thing walking around Spool City.”

            His ears flicked up again, and Widget leapt up to place both paws on his desk, straining to see the anonymous black box. Did he think they were going to show it? And wait… was his tail wagging?

            Tracer fired the eevee a disapproving look from the corner of his eye then turned back to the screen. He couldn’t see them, but there was always the chance they could see him.

            “What was it?” he asked. “A crime?”

            “A thing!” the voice replied. “Walked on two legs like some pokemon, but it looked like none I ever saw. Just strolled right past my house.”

            Tracer frowned and took a long drag on his cigar. Was this the human Socket had told him about? He couldn’t see it being anything else, unless there was a sudden invasion of humans.

            “About how long ago was this?” Tracer asked.

            “About five minutes ago,” said the voice. “If that.”

            “Please tell me your address? I’ll investigate.”

            “No chance I’m givin’ my address out to the fuzz,” said the voice. “But it was on Proxy Boulevard.”

            The delphox let out a stream of smoke and reached across to the screen. “I’m on it. Take care if you go outside.”

            “Ain’t goin’ outside with that walkin’ around!” The voice cut off, leaving behind nothing more than Tracer’s desktop wallpaper.

            Defrag turned her head to look at him and pushed back one of her long ears.

            “Do you need me to go with you?” she asked, somewhat hopeful.

            Tracer stood up fast, almost knocking his chair over.

            “No,” he said. “There might be more sightings. Take as many messages as you can, and search message boards and news sites to map this creature’s route to narrow down its whereabouts. There’s every chance we might not find it this time.”

            Tracer turned to the door and grabbed his trench coat and mask from the wall hooks. Widget, however, was almost out of the door.

            “Widget!” he barked. “Mask.”

            The eevee moaned loudly and turned to grab his mask from Tracer’s offered paw. Once they were outside, the delphox made a pointed effort to check Widget had put his on properly.

            “I’ve told you a billion times,” Widget whined. “I’m immune.”

            Tracer looked up at the roof of his office as they moved away from it. “I refuse to believe you until I have hard, scientific evidence.”

            Widget spread one paw. “I am ‘hard, scientific evidence’!”

            “Keep your voice down,” Tracer told him. “We’ve got a human to find.”

            Widget mumbled under his breath and trotted to keep up with Tracer’s long strides. His paw steps were deceptively loud for his small frame. Both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation, and right now they gave away any indication that at least one pokemon was about to turn the corner.

            Proxy Boulevard stretched out on either side, curving around the bend to their left where it would inevitably end in Proxy City, where it also began. The once spectacular road linked all three outskirt towns of Meta City, but despite its presence it was rarely active. Very little transport passed through, mainly because most of the pokemon couldn’t afford it, and those that could avoided the outskirts like the plague. As such, it had sadly fallen into disrepair.

            “So this is the place it was spotted?” Widget asked, looking back and forth.

            “Allegedly.”

            Tracer reached around his back to check his stick was still properly stored within the thick fur of his tail. Then he pressed on, moving slowly along the boulevard.

            Boarded up buildings and tatty houses spread on either side in typical outskirts fashion, but just because they were boarded up didn’t mean they were uninhabited. That meant whichever house it was that had spotted the human was impossible to say.

            The wind picked up, followed by a noise like a cracking whip. Tracer leapt to the side and instinctively reached for his stick, then berated himself. It was only a torn poster flapping in the wind.

            Widget chuckled, which the delphox returned with a glare through the green glass of his goggles. It wasn’t like him to be jumpy at all. This human nonsense had got to his head. He placed his stick back in his tail and continued his way down the boulevard with an air of nonchalance.

            On the other side of the road, two small scraggy bolted around the corner from a side road. The front one stopped with his back pressed against the building and waited for his friend to catch up, before they turned and raced along the boulevard. The look of sheer terror on their faces was enough to twig Tracer in.

            “I think we’ve found our human,” he told Widget quietly.

            Guess he needed his stick after all.

            He considered reaching for it, then decided against it. He might just need both paws free.

            The two detectives ran across the road, but neither scraggy looked up. He spotted the two children run into an alley where he greatly hoped they actually lived and wouldn’t end up trapped if the human gave chase. Who knew what this creature was capable of?

            He retraced their footsteps and slowed down when he reached the side road. A quick glance down it solidified his fears. There stood the human, but not in the white robe it had previously been wearing. Now it was kitted out to look like a space pirate.

            His muzzle creased with confusion and he watched curiously as the gangly creature strutted along the road, eying up the various posters, most notably the ‘wanted’ ones. Dressed as a pirate… checking out the wanted posters. Regretting a life decision? Or just plain curious? Or… like Surge… masquerading?

            He shook his head and motioned to Widget to wait. Carefully he crept along, keeping both eyes on the human. With his long strides, he soon caught up with them. Reaching out, he grabbed it by the arm and reached behind him with the other paw for his stick.

            “Sorry,” he said. “But I’m afraid you’re coming with me.”

            Before he’d finished his sentence, the human snapped its head around and fixed him with a pair of baffled green eyes. Then it shouted in a feminine voice;

            “Stranger danger!”

            One large furless paw swung around, clasped into a fist, and struck him in the side of the jaw. Spit flew from his lips and coated the inside of his mask, and he flew sideways into the wall. Pain radiated through his shoulder, and his stick clattered to the floor where he’d been standing.

            “Wretched human!” Widget roared.

            The eevee launched himself full throttle at the retreating ape-like creature. All Tracer could do was watch as he nursed his sore jaw. The impact had fractured the filter on his mask, and putrid air flowed through it like a faucet.

            Something flashed through the sky and Widget dropped his haunches as he desperately tried to break.

            “Whoa!” he shouted. “I’m immune to disease, but not arrows! Who’s throwin’ stuff?”

            The eevee looked up and Tracer followed his eyes. A decidueye shot down towards him, talons bared, but instead he grabbed the human and whisked her away out of Widget’s reach.

            Waveform… Tracer shook his head. He knew that pokemon. He was a mercenary. Tracer had reached out to him before he found Surge, but the decidueye blatantly refused to help him.

            “Hold on,” Waveform told the human.

            She reached up one slender paw to fasten around the owl pokemon’s leg, then with the other… she gestured something by her face right at Tracer. Something juvenile. And stuck out her tongue.

            After that, they were gone.

            Tracer pushed himself to his feet, keeping his paw fastened firmly over the broken filter on his mask. His eyes never left the spot the decidueye had appeared.

            Widget rejoined his side and looked back at the still quivering arrow.

            “Almost hit me he did,” he said. He looked up at Tracer and raised an eyebrow. “You all right?”

            “Yes, fine. She broke my mask is all.” He sighed and turned on the spot. “Let’s get back to the office.”

            “Want to borrow my mask?” Widget asked. “Unlike you, I don’t need it.”

            “Thanks for the offer, but yours might be a little small, my friend.”

            “All right.” Widget paused and glanced back at the silver weapon. “I might grab that arrow. Consider it evidence.”

            “Evidence?”

            “Yeh!” said Widget. “He tried to assault a long arm of the law!”

            “I don’t think you’re using that right. But whatever. Take it.” Tracer looked back over his shoulder at the silent street. He was still rather dazed, but one thing was seriously bugging him and he wasn’t going to dispute the eevee’s interest in the arrow. “I am wondering, though, what on earth Waveform wants with a human.”
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              #31    
            Old 1 Week Ago (6:56 AM).
            Delirious Absol's Avatar
            Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
            Call me Del
               
              Join Date: May 2015
              Location: UK
              Age: 32
              Gender: Female
              Nature: Quirky
              Posts: 305
              Chapter Twenty Nine

              Annie barged through the door and stomped into the kitchen, leaving mucky footprints on Web’s freshly mopped floor. Waveform followed her closely, having neatly hung up his quiver beside the door. Annie then flopped into a chair, and Web watched with regret as the human kicked her feet up onto the table.

              “You’ll never believe this,” said Annie. “Some fox tried to grab me!”

              A soft glug came from the bucket as Zip rose up to the top, his mouth gaping open.

              “Grab you?” Web asked.

              “Oh, I’d believe it.” Waveform fell down in a seat beside Annie. “He’s a detective. Probably been asked to hunt you down.”

              “I’m more surprised he tried to grab her,” said Web. “Tracer isn’t exactly one to spare a flamethrower.”

              “Wait, you know this fox?” Annie asked. “What’s he doin’ grabbing at a defenseless girl in the streets?”

              “Trying to take you back to Socket, I’d reckon.” Waveform took two glasses of juice from Web and shoved one towards Annie. “Get that down you. It’ll stave off some effects of the air.”

              Annie eyed the brown ‘juice’ with suspicion, then sniffed it. Chocolate? What?

              “I don’t know what you were doing outside like that anyway,” Waveform scoffed. “You don’t exactly blend in.”

              Annie’s attention drifted to the opaque yellowed window.

              “Looking for you,” said Web. “That’s what she told me, anyway.”

              “I was?” Annie looked around with a start, then scratched her chin. “Man, I’ve forgotten after all that kerfuffle.”

              Web’s brow knit together with concern and she looked from Annie to Waveform. “How did it go, anyway?”

              “I made two thousand five hundred credits throwing two space pirates behind bars,” he said. “And every credit went on materials for the ship. All of that should be here by dawn.”

              “Every credit?” Web asked.

              “Yeah. I just hope it’s enough to meet Trojan’s expectations.”

              “You never thought to wait and ask him?”

              Waveform narrowed his eyes. “Could you have personally guaranteed me I could have put all those credits in a jar and no one would have touched them?”

              Web sighed and glanced away. “We do have bills to pay…” She shook her head then looked back up at Waveform. “You could have considered that, at least.”

              “Like I’ve said before, space pirates don’t just drop out of the sky into my lap! If we’re gonna get this thing built-”

              “Why is this so important to you?” Web asked.

              Waveform necked the contents of his glass and slammed it down onto the table, then he rose to his feet and marched from the kitchen.

              Annie watched him leave then turned and met Web’s grey eyes. The skuntank sighed again and reached across the table for the discarded glass.

              “It is pretty important,” said Annie.

              Web looked up sharply, still sprawled across the table.

              “The ship,” Annie added.

              The skuntank shook her head and scooped up the glass. “I don’t know why you want to start a rebellion so badly, either. I’m hoping some sense comes out of all this, because clearly Waveform can see something I just can’t.”

              “It would help us marine pokemon,” said Zip. “So I can see good in it.”

              “I guess,” said Web. “I mean… there’s always a risk that law could get out of hand.”

              “It’s already out of hand!” said Zip. “And I want to help stop it.”

              “Oh no,” said Web sadly. “A nice young boy like you isn’t going to get into a rebellion. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

              “Hey, hey,” said Annie before Zip could retaliate. “Numbers are numbers. The kid wants in, he’s on board.”

              “Oh really?” Web turned and gave her an exasperated look. “And how do you suggest he moves around? You know… in case we have to run to safety?”

              Annie scratched her chin again and met the goldeen’s pleading gaze. No legs… that certainly was a predicament. She stood and retrieved the bucket, splashing water in her attempt to lift it.

              “Oh, come now,” said Web. “Where do you plan to take him?” As Annie left the kitchen, Web’s voice called after her, “The rest of the house isn’t water proof!”

              The bucket was oddly heavy. Annie staggered up the stairs and paused at a closed door. Techno music blasted from it, and a dim light spread out from the gap beneath. She placed the bucket down and knocked twice.

              The door jerked open and Trojan’s tired eyes leered at her from the green-lit room. Then the colour changed to a red. Then a purple. Annie craned her neck to see over his shoulder. Some strange light sat beside his desk, smoothly changing colour.

              “What do you want?” he snapped.

              Annie turned her attention back to him and pointed to the goldeen.

              “He needs legs,” she said. “Can you make him legs?”

              The scrafty looked from Zip then back to Annie. “You kidding me?”

              “Nope. Kid needs legs.” Annie turned from the door and waved. “I’ll leave him with you. Talk things over, okay?”

              “I’m already designing your wimpy ship!” Trojan snapped.

              She paused on the stairwell and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t you hate on pyukumuku. I’ll make you eat those words.”

              Trojan’s leer fell away and he reached up with one paw to rub at his head fin. He watched Annie trudge down the stairs then looked back down at Zip.

              “She’s right, you know,” said the goldeen. “Pyukumuku might not do much, but they sure are prickly!”

              ...

              Macro was seriously beginning to question his sanity.

              He stood with his back to the wall, keeping one eye on the low branch with his ear pressed up against the cold stone. All that reached him were muffled voices, but that was enough evidence to prove the grass army was still there. Climbing over the wall was out of the question. If they’d come armed, they would very likely have the weapons to deal with him. Ground, most likely. And the presence of torterra amongst them was very unnerving. An earthquake from one of them would be enough to take him out and drag the wall down with him… if it didn’t also reduce one or two of the apartment blocks.

              Sticking close to the wall, he scurried along it with one paw on his laser. It had to end somewhere. There had to be an entrance to the orchard. If he had to guess, those grass types hadn’t come via the lake like he had. There were too many of them for that. Their ship would have dropped them in the orchard itself, or some other secluded place. The entrance could be on the other side of the orchard, which was too far away for his liking. He wanted to get this over with quickly and report back to Anchor. Come up with a plan to get the twins back safely.

              The more he followed the wall, the longer it seemed to get. Looking back over his shoulder didn’t alleviate the feeling, either. It wasn’t until he reached another narrow alleyway forking from his right that he realised the orchard wall extended all the way out to the lake. So it was right behind the apartments. Perfect cover, unless someone were to look out of their window and spot the grass types, and with the trouble he’d had doing so, the grass army could rest assured that each one of them was camouflaged amongst the trees and bushes.

              Finally, the wall came to an end, curving neatly away from him along an empty square. On the far side of the square stood a town hall, and it was surrounded by empty market stands. A conveniently placed sign told any passers by that the next market day was two days away. Three a week, selling locally made produce. He could almost smell the cakes and pies that would be filling the stalls, amongst other bits and pieces.

              He tore his eyes from the empty stands and focused on following the wall. More branches poked over the top and swung down into the market square. Some of them contained tempting berries and his paw reached up towards a red cheri. He’d never seen one so big. DL would have loved that on a cake. He flexed his claws and let his paw fall back to his side. No. It didn’t feel right. Even if he did take it, it wouldn’t survive in his pouch. It would just be a waste.

              Not to mention a sticky mess.

              Something moved overhead rustling the leaves and his eyes flew to it. Munching away on one of the cheri berries was a caterpie. What was a caterpie doing in Cyan City? Was it with the grass army? No, impossible. It wasn’t a grass type. The grass type pokemon resented them almost as much as they resented the water and fire types. Obviously the bugs had moved in to help themselves to the berries, benefited only by their small size. Easier to hide.

              He shook his head and hugged the wall until he spotted something sparkling in the distance. A gate, caught in the noon sunlight.

              Keeping himself low and his steps light, he scurried along the wall until he reached the gate. He stopped with his back against the wall and gave the gate a once over.

              Locked.

              He wasn’t getting in there easily. If he used his lock pick, not only would the grass army hear him, he’d be stood around long enough for them to see him, too. He grit his teeth together and peered beyond the gate. Now he knew what he was looking for, it was easier to see the grass pokemon. A pair of tangela stood a good way away, poking around the bushes with their tentacle-like vines. Closer to him was a grotle, also poking about in the bushes. What were they doing? Raiding?

              A razz berry bush just beyond the gate rustled and he ducked aside, craning his head around to peek through the silver bars. What emerged rolling backwards on a fat berry wasn’t a grass type. It was another bug. A weedle. The orchard must have been infested by bugs. He looked over at the grotle again. An ivysaur strolled towards the turtle pokemon on its hind legs carrying something in its paws. A white box.

              The grotle opened it eagerly, and several caterpie rushed out of it, drawn to the bush like magnets.

              Macro’s eyes widened and trailed over the hundreds of berry trees and bushes. This wasn’t just some invasion with the intension to fire lasers at any water types they saw. No… it was biological warfare. The grass army intended to wipe out Cyan City’s food source, forcing the water types into a famine. It was hardly a subtle move, either. Those poor oshawott twins would likely die if the army was caught. He had to warn someone before the situation got wildly out of hand.

              He looked back down at the weedle, now lying on its back with the purple razz berry clasped between its tiny legs. Something wasn’t right about it. Sure, bug types had a large appetite. Especially ones that would be classed as a larval stage. But there was something very wrong he couldn’t quite put his claw on.

              It was too far away to grab. He had to lure it somehow.

              He turned away from the gate, creeping back down the wall towards one of the low-hanging branches. A pecha tree lay not too far away, and was too high up to grab. He crouched down then jumped, snatching at the branch. His paw closed over the leaves and he was left hanging as his other paw flailed for one of the berries. A long green shape dropped from the leaves and struck him on the face. Stifling a yelp, he dropped and landed hard on his bottom. The green thing fell away from him and landed on its back, flailing four button-like legs.

              A caterpie.

              Well, it wasn’t the weedle, but he only needed one specimen to prove his point.

              He scooped up the bug and rose to his feet, glancing left and right over the wall. Muffled voices, nothing frantic. He’d not been spotted, thankfully. He turned and retraced his steps along the wall, clutching the writhing bug to his chest. Not a squeak came from it. Silent, mute, no voice. What on earth was wrong with it?

              It seemed to take forever to reach the alley that lead back to the main road. Once he was inside it, he pulled out his pocket computer, keeping the bug locked firmly under his left arm. It only rang twice before Anchor’s voice spoke oddly loudly into his ear.

              “Cap’n?”

              “Where are you?” Macro demanded.

              “Apartment to the left of the alley where those little kids went missing.” Anchor answered. “Where are you?”

              “Just in that alley.” The caterpie began to struggle and Macro almost dropped his computer in an attempt to control it. “Meet me at the door.”

              Before Anchor could respond, Macro hung up and pushed his computer back into his belt pouch. With both paws, he locked the caterpie tightly against his scarf. Soggy string flowed from what he guessed was its mouth, winding around his arms and creating a sticky waterfall of web down his scarf. Macro stared down at the mess, then followed the white strands along the floor, all the way back to the end of the alley. The thread vanished around the corner. Wretched bug had left a trail!

              He tutted and stuffed the caterpie into his scarf head first, wrapping the fabric firmly over is head where it began to bulge with sticky string. Clutching it tightly, he trotted to the main road and turned sharply left. The apartment door flew open and Macro almost collided with Anchor’s torso.

              “Whoa!” The granbull caught him with both paws and pushed him back, checking him over once then looking over his shoulder. “Were you chased or somethin’?”

              “No, I wasn’t chased! What do you take me for?” Macro pushed past him into the lobby and made a beeline for the elevator.

              “What do I take you for?” Anchor scoffed. “You often end up in trouble. What’ve you got hold of?”

              “What floor?” Macro stepped into the elevator, but Anchor beat him to the panel, selecting the third floor. “And I’ve got a bug.”

              “Contagious?”

              Macro fixed his violet eyes on the granbull’s and pulled back his scarf from the caterpie. Thread pooled out onto the floor, and Anchor took a step backwards to avoid it.

              “What did you pick that up for?” Anchor asked.

              Macro tucked it away once more, stifling its silk-spewing.

              “I can explain when we get to Lossy’s apartment,” said Macro. “If you wouldn’t mind cleaning up that mess, that would be great. Darn bug’s been leaving a silk trail.”

              Anchor rolled his eyes and silently scooped up the sticky mess.

              The elevator pinged and Macro strolled out, pausing to look back at Anchor. He rose to his feet, grimacing at the white sludge coating his paws. Most of it had come off the tiles, but there was still a nice patch of silk clinging to the surface. Not noticeable unless one knew what they were looking for, but it wouldn’t be very pleasant on a pokemon’s feet.

              Anchor deposited the silk into a trash can then nodded for Macro to follow him. “It’s this way.”

              Macro trotted after him, trying in vain to stop the thread from leaking through the gaps in his scarf. Anchor stopped at the fifth door along and knocked twice before slipping inside.

              Soft blue carpet greeted Macro’s feet, a welcome change to the cold tile. Lossy sat behind a coffee table, sipping at a steaming cup. Her eyes widened when she spotted him and immediately went to his silk-leaking scarf. She let the cup clatter onto a metal coaster and rose to her feet.

              “What on earth is that?!” she gasped.

              “Caterpie.” Macro let the green bug drop onto her coffee table in a pool of silk, where the spewing finally came to an end.

              Lossy stared down at it, mouth agape.

              “Again,” said Anchor. “What are you doin’ with a caterpie?”

              “I found it in the orchard,” said Macro. “The grass army is releasing bug pokemon that are just devouring berries and leaves.”

              Lossy looked up at him slowly. “You aren’t serious?”

              “I’m deathly serious,” said Macro. “Why else would I have carried this sticky thing back with me?” He pawed feebly at the silk clinging to his scarf. “This is never gonna come out…”

              Anchor dropped to his knees to get a good look at the caterpie. His brow knit together as he watched the bug turn its head to look around the room.

              “We have to tell someone,” said Lossy. “We can’t just let bug pokemon roam in the orchard! Unless we reason with them… We do have two common enemies.” She scratched between her ears. “Which makes me wonder why the grass types would have formed an alliance with them? They hate bug pokemon.”

              “I wouldn’t think it’s an alliance,” said Anchor.

              “What makes you say that?” said Macro.

              “Well, this thing’s as empty as DL when we got her, Cap’n.” Anchor looked up at him. “I mean… look at its eyes. They’re lifeless.”

              Macro squatted beside Anchor, watching the caterpie’s black eyes. No sparkle. Blank. Unchanging. Its antennae twitched at every movement in the air, but it was clear it was looking for something. Or sniffing for something.

              “But it panicked,” said Macro.

              “You don’t need to have a personality to panic,” said Anchor. “It’s basic survival.”

              “So you think they removed its personality like DL?” Macro growled.

              “Not quite.” Anchor reached across to the caterpie and moved a claw before its eyes. They didn’t even move to it. “I’d say they’ve gone even further. There’s nothin’ left in this thing other than primal instinct.”

              Macro stood up so quickly Lossy squeaked. “What is wrong with this stinking world?!”

              “Calm down, Cap’n! We don’t want to get all of Cyan City into an uproar!”

              “I’d say that’s exactly what we need.” Macro rounded on Lossy. “Who’s in charge here? I want to show them exactly what that grass army is doing not only to your city but to the bug types as well.”

              “But…” Anchor lowered his voice. “But what about your bounty, Cap’n?”

              “Sod it.” Macro folded his arms and leered down at the green caterpillar. “We’ve got bigger things to worry about right now. If this grass army has unleashed a biological warfare on this orchard, what’s to stop them doing it elsewhere? A famine in one city can easily spread to a famine across System. I’m willing to risk my own life to stop an all out war before it starts.”

              Anchor’s eyes widened. “Are you serious? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk like that. What changed?”

              “I realised this could affect more than one measly city.” Macro fixed him with a sideways glare. “I happen to live in this world. I don’t wanna live through a war!”

              Anchor sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “And here I thought you were just being humble.”

              Lossy sat back down heavily, staring blankly at the bug pokemon. Anchor looked down at her and placed a paw on her shoulder.

              “You all right, ma’am?” he asked.

              “I’m… just a bit shaken up.” Her voice wavered and she diverted her gaze to the closed door. “First my kids… then space pirates… an invasion… bug pokemon… I don’t understand what’s going on any more. And what’s this DL you were talking about? No personality?” She looked back down at the caterpie and her face paled.

              “DL doesn’t concern you,” Macro said bluntly. Then he pointed at the bug pokemon. “This, however, does. Now tell me… who’s in charge?”

              “Give her a rest, Cap’n.”

              “No.” Macro swatted his large paw away and turned back to Lossy. “I want you to contact them.”

              Anchor sighed again and retrieved the dewott’s cup from amongst the silk. “I’ll make you another coffee.”

              Macro continued to stare at her, meeting her terrified eyes. DL’s voice echoed in his head. ‘You really need to remember your p’s and q’s.’

              He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index claws. “Can you contact them? Please?”

              Something dropped in the adjoining kitchenette and shattered off the tile floor. Anchor’s mohawk stiffened along with his spine and he glanced at the mawile over his shoulder.

              Lossy looked up at Macro and her eyes softened slightly. “I can, but I’m still feeling rather shaken. If you wouldn’t mind getting me my phone… it’s on the kitchen counter.”

              Macro flexed his claws and turned away from her. Just like she’d said, her small touchscreen phone lay on the counter beside a vase of faux flowers. As he reached for it, he caught Anchor’s bemused stare.

              “Are you feelin’ all right, Cap’n?” he asked.

              Macro frowned and aimed the phone at him. “Shut up.”
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                #32    
              Old 1 Week Ago (10:04 AM).
              Delirious Absol's Avatar
              Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
              Call me Del
                 
                Join Date: May 2015
                Location: UK
                Age: 32
                Gender: Female
                Nature: Quirky
                Posts: 305
                Chapter Thirty

                Lossy led Macro and Anchor all the way to the town square. Macro clutched the writhing caterpie to his chest, enveloped in his scarf, as his mind stretched back to the events that had followed in the dewott’s apartment. His mouth was dry and he licked his lips as he looked around the square. Her phone conversation had been somewhat shaky and had avoided mentioning her helpers were space pirates at all costs. She’d only spoken to the Governor’s assistant, promising a call back after he’d passed on the news. Then not even ten minutes later, the Governor himself rang back, demanding to speak to Lossy and her two ‘helpers’ without asking for any further information over the phone.

                Macro was dreading what this Governor’s reaction would be. Given he only had authority in Cyan City, his power and influence paled in comparison to Socket’s. But he’d still be the first line of contact should she want to find out what was going on in Cyan City.

                The Governor’s office was situated at the edge of the market, being the main focal point of the square, especially since the market was closed for the day. Beside the building sat a police station that was rather unimpressive in comparison. Cyan City’s flag fluttered atop the Governor’s office in the artificial breeze, depicting a rain drop against a deep azure sky.

                The door was unguarded from the outside. A quick scan of the wall told Macro there were cameras, and not the stealthy hidden kind that some government bodies used. The white-shelled, black-eyed cameras looked like something out of an old sci-fi movie, and they fixed the group with a suspicious stare. He even saw the camera lenses focus.

                Lossy rang the buzzer and waited. The voice that followed was familiar. Gritty, like the one he’d heard back in her apartment.

                “Hello?” it asked.

                “It’s Lossy,” she replied. “The Governor asked to see me?”

                “Oh yes! Hold on one second.”

                The voice cut out then the buzzer gave a deafening ring. Macro leapt as the lock clicked up and he hugged his writhing scarf tightly. His heart was hammering in his chest but he did his best to hide it, boldly following the dewott into the lobby.

                A large bibarel stood behind the counter and he removed his reading glasses to get a good look at them.

                “So you’re the young lady who called?” His gritty voice didn’t remotely suit him.

                He looked up from Lossy to eye Macro and Anchor, and his eyes narrowed as he squinted at them. Maybe he needed the glasses for more than just reading?

                “You two don’t look like water types,” he said. “Are you here with this young lady?”

                “Yes,” said Macro all too quickly.

                His heart was still hammering. He was beginning to fear that the secretary’s hearing made up for his poor eyesight and he’d actually be able to hear it.

                “Very well.” The secretary reached for a pen and notepad. “I’ll need you three to sign in.”

                Lossy took the pen and glanced back at the two space pirates.

                “I-” she stammered. “I’ll sign in for all three of us, okay?”

                “That is fine.” The bibarel sat back in his chair and replaced his spectacles.

                Macro kept a close eye on him, but he didn’t look back up from his computer. Once Lossy was done, the bibarel retrieved the notepad and pushed a buzzer on the desk.

                “You have-” he read over the notepad. “Lossy here to see you. And…”

                He trailed off and looked back up at Macro and Anchor. A look of realization began to cross his face, but before he could say anything more, the Governor’s voice rang out from his speaker.

                “Fantastic! Send them in right away.”

                “Okay…” The bibarel cleared his throat. “It’s just through those double doors. Room Two A.”

                Macro met the secretary’s gaze, but Lossy grabbed him by the elbow as she mumbled her thanks and steered him alongside her towards the Governor’s office.

                Two A was exactly where Macro would have expected it to be. The words ‘Governor Jumper’ were even printed in gold over the window.

                Lossy knocked twice and a deep voice from beyond the door instructed them to ‘come in’. Two simple words that chilled Macro to the bone.

                A lithe frogadier hunched over a low desk, decorated to resemble an old mahogany antique. But like most antique-style furniture, Macro could easily guess it was made from plastic and chrome. He looked up when they entered and his yellow eyes went from worried to furious to plain confused in a split second.

                “Lossy, right?” he asked the dewott. Then he look up at her two companions. “Why, may I ask, are you accompanied by Hunter of Wildcard Gamma?”

                “Because…” She wound her paws together and her eyes flitted from Macro to Anchor. “Because they helped me… They… They know what happened to my children…”

                “And… let me guess…” Jumper let his pen drop to the table and sat back in his chair. “That writhing thing leaking silk is the caterpie you were telling me about?”

                Macro’s eyes snapped to his writhing scarf. He’d been clutching it so tightly the caterpie had begun to protest violently and a gap had opened in the folds, letting sticky silk flow out onto the linoleum floor like a faucet.

                “Oh right… yeh.” He chuckled nervously and pulled the fabric back from the caterpie’s head. “Yeah, it’s-”

                The frogadier waved his paw. “Don’t say anything, Hunter. Lossy told me everything. Let me look at it.”

                Jumper’s voice was laced with venom. It pushed Macro’s fur on end and he had to bite back a sneer. He took a confident stride forward and deposited the sticky caterpillar right onto the Governor’s paperwork. He folded his arms and took a step back, letting a smirk spread over his lips. At least it covered up the fact he was deeply regretting folding his arms over his immensely sticky scarf.

                Jumper sighed and tried to rescue some of his paperwork from beneath the silent bug.

                “Wipe that smile off your face, Hunter,” he said. “You should know full well the risk you’re taking being here in Cyan City.”

                Macro snorted. “If I weren’t here, you’d have no idea that grass army was in your City. Or that they’re releasing bug pokemon to attack your orchards.”

                Jumper narrowed his eyes at him and shook string from one of his files. “That is the only reason I’m not throwing you behind bars. Now… I think I know full well why you’re here. Socket warned me you might show up. Nevertheless, right now… I hate to say this, but… I’m in your debt.” He raised a paw before Macro could chip in with a snippy comment. “But don’t go demanding anything off me. All you’ve done is alert me to something that would have become obvious in a day or so. I can pay you back by letting you keep your freedom and get out of this city. If you’re not gone by nightfall, my word will no longer protect you and you’re back to being free game. Understood?”

                Macro snorted and turned his back on the frogadier. He struck Anchor in the lower back with his paw.

                “Come on, Anchor. Let’s get that disk and scat.”

                “But…” Lossy clutched her paws together and looked between the space pirates and the governor. “My children…”

                “Don’t worry, Lossy,” said Jumper. “Cyan City’s army will deal with the grass threat and rescue your children.”

                Macro paused by the door and fixed the Governor with a sneer. “You send an army in there guns blazin’, those kids are as good as dead.”

                Lossy let out a wail and fell heavily into the nearest chair. Jumper looked up at Macro with a start and his eyes narrowed dangerously.

                “I think my army knows what they’re doing, Hunter,” he said. “Don’t you go scaring a worried mother with your lies!”

                “They ain’t lies,” Macro retorted. “I’ve seen enough combat to know things can go from bad to worse. I heard with my own ears that army is keeping those kids as a bargain to get away.”

                “Murder is illegal and punishable by death,” Jumper said slowly. “I sincerely doubt that a law abiding army-”

                “Law abiding?! Yeah right! Look what they’ve done to that caterpie then tell me they wouldn’t hesitate to murder a couple of kids!”

                Lossy sobbed loudly and her face fell into her paws.

                Jumper met Macro’s leer for a long, painful moment, then sighed, letting his pen drop beside the caterpie. His eyes went to the bug, watching as it scanned the room with its blank, black eyes.

                “Maybe there are risks,” he said. “But I can assure you we will get those kids back.”

                “Yeah?” Macro pulled the door open. “Let’s see who gets there first, then.”

                Jumper narrowed his eyes again. “What are you saying, Hunter?”

                “I’m sayin’ I never leave a job unfinished.”

                With that, he let the door slam shut behind him.

                ...

                Socket’s office filled with digital ringing, penetrating her sound filter which was primarily thrown up to tune out Tweak’s incessant jingling. She frowned at the chingling bouncing in the corner of her office while he leafed through and stamped her paperwork, then brought up her holoscreen. Yobi’s tired face filled it and he looked up from his indescribable nicknacks to address her.

                “Good afternoon, Madam Mayor,” he said.

                “Good to see you out of your sick bed, Yobi,” she said. “What are you ringing me for, exactly?”

                “To be honest,” he looked back down at his work, “to let you know I’m out of my ‘sick bed’.”

                Socket did not appreciate his air quotes. She steepled her paws together and narrowed her eyes at him.

                “You look just as dreadful as you did before you fainted,” she said.

                He gave a dry laugh but didn’t look up from whatever he was attacking with his screwdriver. Part of her wondered if he was imagining whatever it was to be her face. Not that she cared.

                “Someone has to make these things,” he said. “Besides, I’m still trying to work out the kinks in that worm you want me to send to Download Database.”

                “Oh yes, the worm.” She let her paws drop onto her desk and leant back in her chair. “When will that be ready?”

                “Like I said, it has kinks,” he said. “Obviously we don’t want it to kill the host. But we do want it to incapacitate her and make her easier to retrieve.”

                “I am less concerned about retrieving that pachirisu than I am Hunter. I just want that nuisance of a pirate to stop meddling in my plans.”

                “Then the virus is a win-win,” he said. “It will incapacitate her, we can retrieve her along with Hunter and his goons, and it will also prevent him working around her database to access confidential files.”

                “Tweak already dealt with that,” she said. “Download Database’s reach is severely limited.”

                “Doesn’t mean she can’t be hacked around,” said Yobi. “If there was a surefire way to stop other pokemon from accessing databases, hackers would have been powerless centuries ago.”

                Socket snorted, then covered up the rather unfeminine sound by scratching her nose.

                “I know it sounds ridiculous, but believe me,” said Yobi. “There’s a massive risk. We definitely need to either retrieve the pachirisu, or shut her down until we manage to obtain her. The worm will do both. Not only will it shut down the database, it will also allow us to track her down.”

                “Yes, since the last tracker was destroyed,” said Socket. “I hired a mercenary to track down Hunter and her last update was less than reassuring.”

                “Well.” Yobi scratched behind his ear with an oily paw, leaving an unsightly black streak on his orange fur. “Unless they have some means of detecting, isolating and destroying a worm, then this method will be much more reliable than a little tracking chip.”

                “Fantastic news.” Socket steepled her paws again and leant forwards on her elbows. “When will it be ready?”

                Yobi cleared his throat and shot her a fleeting glance. The kind he often gave her before he fled a room.

                “I already said, it has some kinks.” His voice came out with as much haste as a rapidash trying to escape a tsunami. “That last episode of mine cost me some serious time, but I’ll keep working on it, and as soon as it’s ready, I-”

                Socket raised her paw to cut him off. “You will make sure you rest, young man. I don’t want you to lose yet more time with another fainting episode. You understand me?”

                Her dagger voice caused his eyes to widen, and he closed his mouth tight and nodded.

                “Yes, Madam Mayor,” he said. “I understand completely. I’ll set this android aside and get to working on the worm as my number one priority.”

                Before she could even ask what importance the new android served, he vanished, and her holoscreen retreated into its desk entirely of its own accord.

                She sat back in her seat and sighed, rubbing at her forehead with one paw. “Stupid technology.”

                ...

                It certainly wasn’t dawn when the materials arrived. It was more like dusk.

                Cold wind whipped at Annie’s hair as she stared up at the skip of scrap metal. Sheet upon warped sheet of varying grey, splashed here and there with the occasional neon colour. Most of which was marred with rust.

                Waveform crouched on the edge of the skip with admirable balance. He rifled through the jagged sheets, the sharp edges snagging and snipping at his brown wing feathers. He didn’t seem to mind, or notice. One or the other. Finally, he turned his sharp eyes onto Annie and Web.

                “It’s all here,” he said. “All three thousand five hundred credits worth.”

                Web stifled a sigh. “You paid all that for this?”

                “In all fairness,” he said, “it isn’t a lot of money for sheet metal. But it got enough scraps to build the entire shell of a ship.”

                “And what about all the parts that will make it work?” Web asked. “An engine? Steering controls? Fuel? Not to mention the paint it will take to get this looking like…” She waved a paw.

                “A pyukumuku,” said Annie.

                The skuntank shrugged and looked back up at Waveform.

                “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said. “While the rest of you are building this ship, I’ll keep hunting pirates. We’ll hopefully have enough for the remaining parts before too long.”

                “You’ve said a billion times that space pirates don’t just fall out of the sky!” said Web. “What about the necessities? You can’t keep wasting all those credits on a toy that might not even fly!”

                “Oh, it’s not a toy,” said Annie.

                Web turned her large head to face the human. “Annie, could you please go inside and see what Trojan is up to?”

                Annie shrugged. “Sure. Maybe he’ll let me see what designs he’s come up with.”

                Web watched the human stroll into the house, then look around as though she’d lost her way before finally finding the stairs. Web turned back to Waveform who was once again rifling through the tatty sheet metal.

                “Waveform, I think we made a huge mistake taking in a human,” she said.

                “Really? Because I think it was a fantastic decision,” he said.

                “I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.”

                “I’m not being sarcastic.” He straightened then glided down to the ground with one silent beat of his wings. “It was just what we needed to get a jump start on dealing with Socket.”

                “What is your issue with the Mayor?” Web asked. “The environmental conditions don’t even directly concern you. You could easily be living in luxury inside Gear Village yet for some reason you choose to live in the slums hunting down space pirates!”

                He said nothing as he tossed a stray, and somewhat heavy, sheet of metal back onto the heaving pile. It teetered precariously at the top before sliding into place with a sound like claws on a chalkboard.

                “Seriously, Waveform. What is it? You’ve always been shrouded in mystery and I think it’s about time you told us what’s going on before dragging us - and a child! - into your ominous plans.”

                “That water dweller doesn’t need to come with us,” said Waveform.

                “But he wants to,” said Web. “And the last I heard, Trojan was designing him a pair of legs! He’s much too young to have mechanical enhancements!”

                She watched with despair as Waveform dragged the skip on its creaking wheels towards their home’s rickety gate.

                “Oh, where are you taking all that?” she asked with exasperation.

                “What? You think I’m leaving this on the street?” he scoffed.

                She opened her mouth to speak, but instead she shook her head and sighed. Leaving it on the street would certainly solve her problems. Or delay them. But it would certainly be a waste of three and a half thousand credits.

                “Fine,” she said. “Lock it in the back garden. Maybe it will rain and finish off rusting it all away.”

                The decidueye snorted and turned his back on her, dragging the skip behind him effortlessly.

                “Do you really think we can trust her?” she asked.

                He paused by the gate and fixed his vermilion eyes on hers. “You’re the one who let her into our home.”

                “It was pity,” she said. “Besides… I can’t decide if she’s unwell or if all humans are a bit loopy.”

                “Oh, she’s unwell.”

                He turned away from her again and pushed the gate open, dragging the rattling skip behind him.

                “How do you know that?” she asked. “You’ve never met a human before. None of us have.”

                He said nothing. Her only answer came in the slam of the gate, splintering around its already worn hinges.

                She shook her head again and dragged herself into the house. Between Annie and Waveform, her sanity was being plucked limb from screaming limb. A good hot cocoa was what she needed right now.

                And a lie down.

                ...

                Defrag sighed at her computer as she brought up yet another article on a potential ‘monster’ sighting. There were certainly a lot of them, most of them concentrated at the northern end of System Sky. Yet not one of them matched the description Tracer had shown her of the human. Either winged, looking every bit like an archeops; or gangly and ape-like with very little fur.

                These sightings, however, looked nothing like either. Neither winged nor gangly. Each sighting described a creature that resembled a tentacruel or tentacool, or even frillish in some descriptions. Part of her deeply wondered if Tracer had been wrong. Maybe the human had more than one pokemon form, and the second was aquatic, and not an extinct pokemon at all.

                Or maybe it was. An extinct pokemon they knew nothing or very little about. Jellyfish pokemon didn’t have skeletons. They didn’t fossilize. There was every possibility that a prehistoric pokemon could have been terrorizing the northern most point of System Sky, then vanishing back into the darkness.

                But there was no ocean in System Sky. So this monster’s presence made no sense. Were there flying jellyfish?

                She pursed her lips together as she skimmed over the article, all of it information she had already read elsewhere. Attacks on the northern cities. Three pokemon dead from toxic stab wounds. Her eyes trailed down to the related news headlines below.

                Jellyfish attacks Favicon City. Is this the water dwellers’ revenge?

                She mouthed the words as she selected the headline. Once again, it was all news she’d read before. Favicon City was one of two that had been attacked, and sported two casualties. But this time, something else accompanied the article.

                A photograph.

                The blurred picture looked every bit like a jellyfish, but she wouldn’t have said it looked like any pokemon she was aware of. It had twelve tentacles of varying length on either side of its body, in perfect symmetry. Two at the sides and two at its ‘rear’ were longer than the others. Almost gangly… was this actually the human?

                She stared at it, trying to work out whether or not it fit the description - and somewhat crude drawing - that Tracer had left her with. (Due to confidential reasons, he hadn’t wanted to leave a screen shot of the CCTV footage.) It didn’t remotely fit. It didn’t even match her mental image of it. Yet there was something oddly human-like about it.

                She ran a paw over one of her long ears as she stared transfixed at the odd jellyfish. No. It wasn’t the human. This was something else. Something more threatening than a creature from another world assaulting the mayor.

                Whatever it was, it was attacking System Sky.
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                A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
                A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
                Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
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                  #33    
                Old 2 Days Ago (9:18 AM).
                Delirious Absol's Avatar
                Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
                Call me Del
                   
                  Join Date: May 2015
                  Location: UK
                  Age: 32
                  Gender: Female
                  Nature: Quirky
                  Posts: 305
                  Chapter Thirty One

                  The sun was well into setting as Macro and Anchor skulked by the orchard. Macro had resorted to hiding himself inside a razz berry bush, and much to his irritation the tiny thorns kept catching in his fur and the leaves clung to his sticky scarf.

                  “Can you hear anything?” he asked.

                  Anchor grunted. “Yeh. You.”

                  Macro tutted and turned his violet eyes back onto the iron gate. There was no sign of grass pokemon beyond it. They’d long since retired to their tents, hidden out of sight. Or maybe they’d left Cyan City. If they’d left… then that meant they’d took the children with them.

                  The mawile pushed himself out of the bush and plucked thorns from his thick fur. He never took his eyes off the gate. Slowly he crept towards it, and the bush behind him rustled as Anchor climbed out from it. Macro threw his back up against the wall and drew his laser. He didn’t know if he’d need it, but having it ready would save vital time. And lives.

                  He strained his ears, but not a whisper came from beyond the wall. Carefully, he edged closer to the gate. The branches were motionless, but in the rapidly dimming light he could see a lone caterpillar pokemon - a caterpie or a sewaddle going off the colour - dozing amongst the lush leaves of a sitrus tree. So they slept? It made sense, given DL’s need to sleep. But he hadn’t expected it. He’d expected a horde of ravenous, untiring, empty caterpillars munching their way through Cyan City’s food supply. He didn’t even know if they could evolve. If they could, the consequences could be disastrous.

                  He turned his eyes back onto the orchard, searching frantically for any sign of the grass army amongst the shrubs and trees.

                  Nothing.

                  “Can’t see a thing in this light,” he snorted.

                  “Yeh,” said Anchor quietly. “It would be a lot easier if I’d remembered my heat tracker.”

                  “You don’t have it?” Macro saw Anchor shake his head. The mawile rolled his eyes. “Moron.”

                  Something warm fell on his shoulder and his mouth flew open, releasing an involuntary scream. It echoed around the square and his eyes flew to his assailant.

                  Lossy stood stock still behind him, her black eyes impossibly wide. Her sleek fur bristled like a brush and she stared at him, her breath coming in quick bursts.

                  Anchor stood behind her, his eyes and ears trained on the orchard. Macro followed his gaze while trying to calm his racing heart.

                  Silence.

                  Where was the grass army?

                  “I’m sorry,” Lossy whispered. “I… wanted to know if you wanted… somewhere to sleep.”

                  Macro slapped his paw into his face and groaned. This dewott was going to be the death of him.

                  Sleep wasn’t a bad idea, but if the grass army was sleeping then now was a good time to sneak into their camp and rescue the twins.

                  He rounded on the dewott and flashed his canines.

                  “I don’t want sleep,” he hissed. “Now let me do my job.”

                  She snatched her paw back and clutched it to her chest. With a curt nod, she took a step away from him, and her eyes flitted to the orchard.

                  “And go home,” Macro added as he turned back to the gate. “I don’t want you slowing me down by getting yourself caught.”

                  “I can’t,” she said. “It feels so…”

                  She glanced over her shoulder at the apartment blocks and her eyes welled with tears.

                  Macro sighed and shook his head. “Fine. Then stay hidden somewhere. Sleep in a bush or something.”

                  He turned to the gate and reached into his pouch for his lock pick. Another scan of the orchard beyond confirmed there were no nearby grass types. His pick flew expertly into the lock and within seconds it flicked open with a loud snap. The gate creaked open on its hinges under his paws, creating an ear-splitting screech that made him freeze in his tracks.

                  The caterpillar pokemon nearby raised its head and looked around. Macro braced himself for the wretched thing to let off an alarm, but instead it moved towards the nearest sitrus berry like a magnet to metal.

                  He let out the breath he’d been holding and squirmed through the narrow gap the gate had left him. Then he shot into the nearest bush like a dart.

                  Silence.

                  The orchard was oddly silent, almost eerie. Nothing but a slight breeze could be heard, rustling through the branches of the trees and stirring the leaves. The rustling sounded like the flapping of hundreds of wings, and each gust sent a chill down Macro’s spine. He leapt as the gate creaked open to allow Anchor inside. The granbull’s pink body was visible through the bush’s branches, but he didn’t join Macro in the bush. Instead he skulked beside it, sniffing the air. Macro could tell by the way he was snuffling that he’d picked up on something.

                  He reached for his laser and his arm brushed across cool, damp leaves and they shifted beneath his touch. He froze and looked down at his right, his breath still in his throat. What he’d dismissed as wind became more apparent that it was the soft, deep breathing of a sleeping pokemon. Almost invisible amid the foliage, the sleeping ivysaur’s ribs rose and fell with each deep breath.

                  Macro didn’t know much about grass type pokemon. Some were definitely nocturnal, such as oddish. But most needed to photosynthesise as well as consume berries. With no sun to warm their leaves and, in the case of the ivysaur, blood, then it would be unlikely that they’d be awake. If he was correct, then that explained the leafy reptile’s hiding.

                  Macro took a deep, steadying breath and reversed out of the bush, not taking his eyes off the ivysaur. As his feet touched soft grass, he finally let out the breath and looked up at Anchor. The granbull raised an eyebrow at him then turned back to the orchard. Macro swallowed dryly and trotted around the bush to join his side, keeping a paw clasped over the butt of his laser.

                  “There’s an ivysaur in that bush,” he whispered.

                  Anchor looked down at him with a start, then over at the bush his captain had just scurried from. His nose twitched again as he sniffed the air, then he scratched it with a broad claw.

                  “It makes me wonder how many are left here,” Macro whispered as he looked up at the branches. “Because this orchard was teaming with grass types earlier on.”

                  His heart pounded. Any one of those bushes or shrubs could be attached to an unsuspecting and invisible pokemon. He was fortunate enough he only ran into an occupied berry bush. If he’d taken up refuge in a tangrowth’s vines, he’d be crushed half to death by now.

                  He tapped Anchor with the barrel of his gun. “Let’s find those twins.”

                  Soft grass rustled beneath their paws as they pressed their way through the orchard. Macro paused beside each bush, carefully analyzing it before pulling aside the branches. Every one he checked was nothing more than a razz or bluk berry bush, but most of them contained one or two sleeping pokemon. Mostly chikorita and bayleaf. One bush even contained a leafeon.

                  He paused beside a massive orchid to check it for any small, sneaky grass types and his breath caught in his throat as his eyes trailed up it. It was no flower. Closer inspection revealed it to be bug-like, but it was also no bug. Long, petal-like limbs folded neatly over equally petal-like legs. Yet he knew full well those ‘petal-like limbs’ were as deadly as a scyther’s scythes. The lurantis slept soundly, its antennae twitching at every sound. He desperately hoped it wouldn’t wake up. He had nothing in his arsenal to deal with grass pokemon, let alone something as volatile as a lurantis.

                  Anchor ushered him on with a paw on his back and Macro tore himself away from the dangerous grass pokemon. Every step felt like he was treading on egg shells. Three tiny cherubi sat huddled beneath a cheri tree. Clever. Very clever. Beside the cheri tree slept the torterra he’d seen earlier. In its branches lay a roselia, while a tropius slept beneath it. How had he missed all this from outside the orchard? Now he knew they were there, they were as clear as day.

                  Almost half way around the orchard, and he’d seen no sign of the oshawott twins. No sign of a tent. He bit back the urge to call out for them. That would be suicide, and would likely also result in the death of those kids.

                  The two pirates froze as something caught their eye. Movement to their left. Beside a tangled bush Macro guessed to be a tangela sat two squat pokemon. An oddish and a gloom. Both were deeply involved in a game of chess. Each piece was lit up green as they floated over the holoscreen of a pocket computer. Macro tutted under his breath. The night watch. It had been too easy to skulk about the orchard unseen. If those two were awake, then they were probably guarding something. The twins? He could hope so. But with the size of their army, he couldn’t exactly go in guns blazing.

                  He nodded to Anchor and trotted towards the shadows of a tree, carefully checking they were vacant first. A quick survey of the branches confirmed their safety and he pressed his back against it while keeping one eye on the oddish and gloom.

                  Anchor joined his side and folded his arms as he frowned at the two pokemon.

                  “Any ideas?” he asked Macro quietly. “’Cos we’ve dealt with large armies before, but nothing to this scale.”

                  Macro bit his lip. “I’ll be honest… I’m seriously rethinking my method.”

                  Anchor jerked his head to look down at him. “You are?”

                  “We can’t deal with this alone,” said Macro. “You’ve seen the size of them. They’re perfectly camouflaged.”

                  “They wake up, they’ll be sluggish,” said Anchor.

                  “Sluggish or not, one stun spore and we’re easy prey.”

                  “Then what do you suggest we do?”

                  Macro sighed and threw a paw in the air. “Message Matrix. See if he has any ideas. Failing that…”

                  He trailed off, watching the two pokemon playing chess. Surrounded on all sides by a grass army he felt helpless. He could only remember two occasions he’d felt helpless. One, he was puny kid surrounded by a squad of dragon type pirates, desperate to defend his friend. The other… he hated even thinking about it.

                  No… he wasn’t a helpless kid anymore. But those two oshawott were.

                  He took a step forward, reaching for his second gun. But before his paw reached it, something snaked its way around his wrist and up his arm. His eyes snapped to it, but the green tentacle wormed its way around his chest and tightened before it reached his throat. He turned to reach out to Anchor, but his paw faltered. The granbull was surrounded by green tentacles, leaving only his legs and eyes visible. The owner sat atop his head, its large green mouth spread in a grin peppered with long, green, bristle-like teeth.

                  A carnivine.

                  Macro’s violet eyes narrowed into a leer.

                  The fly trap pokemon pulled him in towards him, slamming his back hard into the tree. A low purr came from deep within his throat and he moved his maw closer to the two pirates.

                  “You two have a fine set of sharp teeth,” he said as he wrapped his vine around Macro’s muzzle. “Now tell me. Is it just me, or should all water type pokemon be treated as water dwellers? I mean… they’re the same, right? They need water to survive. Much more so than we do. And we’ve all gotta eat, so I say we just farm those berry-loving suckers.”

                  The carnivine’s words pushed bile up into Macro’s throat and it took everything in his power to not bite down hard on his slimy vine.

                  “You agree with me, right?” The carnivine’s voice was laced with venom. “Because why else would a pair of fairy type space pirates be skulking around a berry orchard in Cyan City? Certainly not intervening with Luma City’s plans, no, no, of course not. That would be… really… very… foolish.” With every final word, his vines tightened, crushing his prey.

                  The carnivine’s breath stunk of rotting meat. Macro feared he would be sick. He wriggled one of his paws to rotate his laser and pressed the trigger. Whatever laser was set didn’t matter. It would be enough to startle the carnivine so they could break free of its wretched, strangling grip.

                  A flash of green sent Macro’s heart plummeting. Grass. It was enough to sear the fly trap’s dangling vines. Enough for his grip to loosen and for Anchor to break free. But Macro was snatched back into the carnivine’s body to be entangled in a death grip. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of red as Anchor’s canines lit up, but it went unnoticed by the grass pokemon. However, the flames only flickered briefly. A reflex. Anchor knew full well if he hit the carnivine with a fire attack it would harm his ally.

                  “So you are here to meddle in our plans,” the carnivine hissed. “Well…” He paused to sniff Macro’s head and chuckled. “Let’s just say that little Hunter has become the hunted.”

                  Anchor smashed his gauntlets together in a shower of sparks. The sound drowned out anything he said before he raised his fist and brought it down onto the carnivine’s jaws. Acid leaked from his needle-like teeth and splattered over Macro’s fur, acting as a conductor to carry the sparks over his own body.

                  The mawile tugged the stunned vines free and staggered from his grip. His entire body tingled as electricity coursed through him and he struggled to catch his breath. Each one came in a raspy burst and he rubbed a paw over his scar to try and get some feeling back in his face.

                  Anchor lunged past him, snapping his canines down onto the carnivine in a torrent of flames. The orchard lit up red and orange for a brief second before the flames fizzled out.

                  The carnivine lay in a heap of sparking, smoldering vines, each one twitching like a sack full of rattata kits.

                  “I think…” Macro’s voice croaked and he cleared his throat. “I think I’m gonna stick with what I said earli-”

                  A cloud of dust engulfed him, choking off his sentence, and he collapsed to the floor. His eyes remained open long enough to see the oddish rush Anchor, only to be met with his sparking gauntlet and sent rolling through the sky like a shuttlecock.

                  ...

                  Wallpaper peeled off the wall, blackening in the intense heat. Hot flames licked at Macro’s fur and thick, black smoke curled up and filled his senses. His body shook as he choked, forcing himself to his feet. There wasn’t a drop of moisture in the small room. Even his mouth felt bone dry, and his eyes stung. But somewhere, there was sobbing. A child… trapped in the deadly flames.

                  The only door sat beyond the ring of fire, as black as the heavy smoke. His only option was the window. Somehow, the ring of flames hadn’t reached it. It was as if they were being held back by some invisible force.

                  He made a beeline for it, but before his paws touched the window sill, that sobbing intensified into a panicked screech.

                  Of course… the twins!

                  He snapped his head around to focus on it. Beyond the flames, he saw a movement. Someone sat huddled in the corner, small and pale. As they looked up, they fixed a pair of chocolate eyes on his.

                  No…

                  He pushed himself back from the window, searching the room for a way through. There was no way he was leaving her.

                  The antennae behind the pachirisu’s ear began to flash between blue and orange and her paw flopped onto the dry ground. One word flew from her mouth, sounding oddly warped.

                  “Jump.”

                  He stood watching her. Watching as the antennae blinked from orange to red and those chocolate eyes slowly closed. He shook his head, bracing himself to run through the flames. There was no way he was leaving her. She wasn’t going to die in this furnace. But his feet fought to move forwards as something pulled him towards the window.

                  He turned to face it, to fight back, but light blinded him. A strange, soothing light. The heat from the flames cooled as they were forced back, and he felt himself dragged from the window.

                  Green grass rushed up to greet him, faster and faster. It spread out like a mattress, curling and coiling into a fluffy green cloud.

                  Macro sat bolt upright, launching the suffocating duvet across the bed. His heart was racing and he looked around the tiny room. No flames. No grass. No blinding light. But once again, that odd sun-like dazzle spot occupied his vision, distorting the blue cheri blossom wallpaper.

                  His duvet shifted and he snapped back to it, reaching for his laser. It fell away from its heap to reveal Anchor’s surprised face, and he looked at Macro with a twinkle of amusement.

                  “Aren’t you too old for night terrors, Cap’n? ‘Cos I always thought pokemon grew out of them as they got older.”

                  Macro rubbed the base of his horn and frowned. “I don’t have night terrors.”

                  “Well, it were somethin’ nasty.” Anchor folded the duvet back onto the bed. “You were screamin’ DL’s name before you woke up.”

                  Macro’s face heated up and he diverted his gaze to the closed door. His paw absently rubbed at his arm. Despite the dry heat in his dream, his fur was sopping wet. His heart was also still racing.

                  He turned back to Anchor and cleared his throat. “What happened? Where are we?”

                  “You got doused with spore and it put you into a right deep sleep.” Anchor retrieved the magazine he was reading which Macro noted was about orchard care. “After I wiped the floor with those two night watchers I carried you back to Lossy’s apartment, since you were in no fit state to fight.”

                  Macro frowned and his claws wound into the bed sheet. “We were in a berry orchard! Just force a chesto berry down my throat!”

                  Anchor snorted and looked up at him. “Can’t say the idea didn’t cross my mind, but what was to stop them tossing another spore our way? Grass types are tricky, Cap’n. You were right. We need more pokemon to take them down and rescue the kids. Hopefully that oddish and gloom don’t rat us out, but that’s a golden dream right there. Those twins could already be in trouble, especially if they think they’re what we were after.”

                  Macro muttered under his breath and slipped from the bed. A flicker of light caught his eye and he span towards the window. Light blue curtains billowed in the gentle breeze.

                  “It’s daylight?!” He turned on the spot to face Anchor.

                  “Aye,” said the granbull without looking up from whatever article he was reading. “You slept the entire night.”

                  “Why couldn’t you have woken me?!”

                  “Spore.” Anchor shrugged. “Besides. I think you needed the sleep, if I’m honest. Not to mention we need a plan.”

                  Macro sighed and closed his eyes. Of course. They did need a plan. Two lone space pirates running into an army camp guns blazing was the epitome of a suicide mission.

                  Unfortunately, he didn’t know enough pokemon who would be willing to help him.

                  The door opened and Lossy stood in the corridor rubbing her paws together. Her face was pale beneath her white fur and her eyes were bloodshot.

                  “There’s been another incident,” she said. “Cyan City’s army have apprehended a fire type pokemon. It looks like… the grass army might have formed an alliance.”

                  “Unlikely,” said Macro. “You might have just found a stray. The three of you are at war, after all.”

                  She shook her head. “I don’t know. They found the talonflame flying over the orchard where you found that caterpie.”

                  Macro’s eyes widened and Anchor dropped his magazine.

                  “Talonflame?” they asked in unison.

                  “Yes,” she said. “They’re holding him in the cells. What are we going to do?”

                  Macro exchanged glances with Anchor and the granbull stood up.

                  “You think it’s Switch?” Anchor asked.

                  “If it is,” said Macro, “I’m gonna kick his feathered tush all the way back to Wildcard Gamma.”

                  He made for the door and Lossy stood aside to let him past.

                  “You might know him?” she gasped.

                  He looked back over his shoulder. “There’s a fair chance I do. And if it’s who I think it is, he’s meant to be recovering on my ship. Did they say if he was injured?”

                  “Yes, but they think it was from their battle.”

                  “That cinches it then.” Macro waved a paw at her and marched down the corridor. “I’m gonna go get him. Where’s this holding place?”

                  “At the police station,” she said. “But erm…”

                  He paused and his ears twitched as she sniffed a couple of times.

                  “I think,” she said slowly, “that you should have a little shower first.”

                  He looked down at his fur, still damp from his nightmare. His drying fur was definitely beginning to let off quite the doggy smell. With a sigh, he turned into the bathroom.
                  __________________
                  I believe in Jesus Christ my Savior. If you do too, and aren't scared to admit it, then copy and paste this in your signature.

                  A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
                  A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
                  Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
                  Fancy some Cyberpunk PMD action with space pirates? System:Reboot
                  Other Fics - SWC entry 'Rivers and Waterfalls'
                  'Where else can I find Del?' -FFnet/Wattpad
                  Reply With Quote
                    #34    
                  Old 1 Day Ago (5:03 AM).
                  Delirious Absol's Avatar
                  Delirious Absol Delirious Absol is offline
                  Call me Del
                     
                    Join Date: May 2015
                    Location: UK
                    Age: 32
                    Gender: Female
                    Nature: Quirky
                    Posts: 305
                    Chapter Thirty Two

                    There wasn’t enough coffee in the whole of System to quell Annie’s headache.

                    The constant clattering from down the hall had kept her awake most of the night, and she’d developed quite the banger as a result. She lay sprawled on the table in a mass of feathers and irritation, watching the long fluffy purple skuntank tail as it swished back and forth while Web clattered around the kitchen. The sound was like a marching band, striking away at tin drums. Annie clenched her sharp teeth together and clawed at her head, letting out a pitiful groan that oddly enough caused the skuntank to freeze on the spot and cast her a wary glance.

                    “Is everything okay?” Web asked.

                    “Just dandy,” Annie hissed.

                    The skuntank watched her for a moment, then turned back to her task… at a much quieter pace. The sweet sickly scent of stewing overripe berries filled the air in a mist of steam, creating a sticky condensation over the yellow windows.

                    Annie closed her eyes, feeling herself begin to drift off into a light doze. But she was rudely awakened by yet more clattering, followed by a shrill excitable voice. Her eyes snapped back open and she raised her head to berate the noise-maker.

                    A happy, gold and white face beamed at her from the doorway. Zip floated in a glass bowl, held up on a metal frame. Three long, mechanical legs spread out at even angles from beneath the bowl, while inside the water in a rubber shell was a steering stick. If she removed the mechanical components, the bowl wasn’t entirely dissimilar to the kind humans kept their aquatic pokemon in when they weren’t inside their pokeballs. In all fairness, it was rather small. Not much exercise space.

                    Zip didn’t appear to mind this, however, as he nudged the stick forward and the legs skittered across the floor with all the grace of a tap-dancing araquanid with three left feet.

                    “Look at me!” he squealed. “I have legs! I’m a land pokemon now!”

                    “Now, now.” Web turned towards him and placed her paws on her hips. “You might well be on land, but you’re still a water dweller. I won’t have any accidents while you’re trying to find your land legs. Calm down in that thing.”

                    Zip skidded to a halt and beamed at the skuntank. She returned his smile and waved a paw.

                    “Darn it, kid. Can’t resist that smile.” She turned back towards the stove. “Join us at the table and I’ll dice you up some berries.”

                    The goldeen cheered and turned his device towards the table. The long mechanical legs flailed at a seat, and he teetered dangerously backwards. Deciding to give up, the bowl lurched forwards, sloshing water onto the floor. He shoved the chair to one side, its feet screeching on the floor and echoing around Annie’s pounding head. Zip gave the archeops a beaming smile and waved a fin.

                    “Good morning!” he quipped.

                    Annie grunted and propped herself on a wing-elbow while she swigged at her scalding coffee. It took every ounce of restraint she had to resist pouring it into the kid’s bowl.

                    “Not a morning ‘mon?” Zip asked.

                    She snorted and took a smaller sip. “On days like this, I can’t stand anyone.”

                    “Tell me about it.” Waveform slumped into the seat beside her and shot the goldeen a glare as he eyed his contraption. “So it was you making all that racket?”

                    Zip’s smile fell and he sank to the bottom of his bowl. “I’m sorry… but at least now I’m more helpful to you, right?”

                    The decidueye shrugged and reached across the table for the newspaper. “I suppose. It certainly beats carrying you around.”

                    Web craned her neck around to eye the three pokemon. “Where’s Trojan? He never misses breakfast.”

                    “Probably sleeping,” said Waveform.

                    “Aye, he said he wanted some rest,” said Zip. “We were up most of the night!”

                    “So was I,” Annie scoffed.

                    Waveform grunted and shook the newspaper open.

                    “You could always go back to bed,” said Web. “No one is forcing you to stay awake.”

                    “Sod that,” said Annie. “If I go back to bed, my whole sleeping pattern is gonna go to whack. And that’s gonna help no one in this… what was I running again?”

                    “A rebellion,” said Waveform.

                    “Oh yeh, that.” Annie slumped forwards and groaned. “It feels like there’s a rock slide in my head.”

                    Waveform let out a gasp and the newspaper almost fell out of his wing fingers. Annie looked up at him with a start, which she regretted as she placed a claw on the side of her head.

                    “Hey, it ain’t that bad,” she told him. “It’s just a migraine.”

                    “Not that.” Waveform waved her off and lowered the newspaper to the table. “This. There’s been some… beast thing… attacking Favicon City.”

                    “Favicon?” Annie scratched her head and looked up at the ceiling. “Think I had one of those when I was a kid.”

                    She followed one of the decidueye’s fingers to a blurry photograph. Some blob-like thing hovered in the air above a skyscraper, its tentacles reducing the formerly splendid building to rubble while pokemon ran for their lives.

                    “You know what?” she said. “Some people really have nothing better to do than stand around watching a disaster taking photographs, do they?”

                    The owl pokemon fixed her in a glare.

                    Web crept behind Annie to look over her shoulder, and Zip’s mechanical feet trotted over the floor as he joined them around the newspaper.

                    “What is that thing?” Web asked. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

                    “Looks like a tentacruel,” said Zip. “But… they can’t fly.”

                    “It looks like a hoax photo to me,” said Annie. “A convincing one. But until I can see what that thing is, I’m sayin’ nothin’.”

                    “The descriptions they have,” said Waveform, “liken it to a tentacruel or frillish. But it apparently has no face to speak of, and is a silvery colour.”

                    “Is it ‘mon made?” Web asked.

                    “Witnesses said it looked organic. It was last sighted heading south-east from Favicon City.”

                    Web’s paws fell to her sides and she glanced out of the window.

                    “They say at the speed it was traveling, it could be at Meta City within three days,” Waveform went on.

                    Annie looked up at Web and shrugged. “Wouldn’t worry. By then our ship should be built, right? Besides, is it really gonna wanna live in this toxic swamp?”

                    Web said nothing as she wound her paws in her apron.

                    “You all right, Webber?” Waveform asked. “You’ve gone awfully quiet.”

                    “It’s heading towards pirate territory,” she said quietly.

                    Waveform raised an eyebrow. “Well, you’re not in Pulse City any more. We’re here on System Ground.” He sighed and retrieved his paper. “Besides. If they all bail on the place, they’ll be easier to round up, won’t they?”

                    She glanced at him and cleared her throat as she beat the creases out of her apron. “I guess.”

                    Annie watched her as she strutted back over to the stove and idly stirred the steaming pot of berries.

                    “We could head it off,” she said.

                    Waveform shot her a look out of the corner of his eye, and Web’s spine stiffened. She looked back at Annie with a look of concern.

                    “Head it off?” she asked.

                    Annie nodded slowly, if only to avoid jiggling her aching head. “Yeh. We’ll get that ship built and shoot that… blob thing… out of the sky.”

                    “I wouldn’t be so hasty,” said Waveform. “Not only are space pirates never to be trusted, that ship of ours is never going to be up in the air in less than three days let alone enough time to head it off at Pulse City.”

                    Annie gave him a sly smile. “You underestimate me, Mister Form.”

                    Waveform dropped his paper and looked down at her with an unreadable expression, and a snicker came from the stove.

                    Annie slipped from the table with her coffee mug clasped tightly in her right claws. She sipped at it as she waddled from the room towards the stairs.

                    “Wait for me!” Zip skittered from the room.

                    “What about your berries?” Web called after him.

                    “Later! I’m needed to build this ship!”

                    The two remaining pokemon watched them leave, and Waveform let out a long sigh.

                    “She’s got pretty high expectations,” he said.

                    “And you want to start a rebellion with her,” said Web. “I suppose there’s worse captains, eh?”

                    “Oh, she won’t be captain,” said Waveform.

                    “I’d be wary of challenging her. I think she’d put up the fight. Besides.” Web placed her paws on her hips and smirked. “You’d probably end up with a high rank regardless. She seems to have taken a shine to you.”

                    Waveform raised an eyebrow and his beak fell open before twisting into a confused frown.

                    Web chuckled again and turned back to the stove. “Eat your berries, Mister Form.”

                    ...

                    The police station was ablaze with chaos. Crowds of water pokemon surrounded it, their voices mashing together in a crescendo as they demanded the talonflame be done away with. The look of fire behind millions of eyes made Macro visibly bristle.

                    He began to march towards the crowd, but Anchor grabbed the scruff of his scarf and tugged him backwards.

                    “Don’t be hasty, Cap’n,” he said. “That crowd will have your neck.”

                    Macro glanced up at him and brushed dried string-shot from his scarf. It flaked away beneath his paw but left an unsightly grey residue.

                    “Then what do you suggest we do?” he asked. “That crowd is huge. We can’t even get close enough to the station let alone inside it without being seen.”

                    “I have an idea.”

                    Macro almost leapt out of his skin. He fixed Lossy with a raised eyebrow and looked from the heaving crowd to the dewott and back.

                    “You have an idea?” he snorted.

                    She nodded slowly. “You have a huge bounty on your head. I could pretend to be apprehending you and get you through that crowd.”

                    “And who’s to say they won’t tear your head off to get his?” Anchor nodded at the mawile.

                    “That’s a rather morbid metaphor, Anchor,” Macro muttered.

                    Anchor folded his arms and grunted. “It made my point.”

                    “Listen to me.” Lossy wound her paws together, cowering slightly as she scrutinized the crowd. “Everyone in Cyan City knows each other. I doubt they’d try to hurt me, or cause a fuss as I get you through. I can’t speak for everyone, though, so I know it’s a risk, but…”

                    Anchor sighed and rubbed his snout. “It’s all we’ve got. I’m with the dewott.”

                    Macro rolled his eyes and tried to smooth out his creased and unsightly scarf. “All right. Get us through, before they end up roasting Switch or something.”

                    “It would increase my chance of getting you there successfully if I used one of your lasers against you,” she said.

                    Macro’s spine stiffened and he fixed Lossy with a glare. “I’m sorry?”

                    “Everyone knows you have a grass laser,” she explained. “That crowd is full of water type pokemon. They’d be even more unlikely to start anything if they thought I’d shoot them with it.”

                    Macro frowned. “But you’re a meek little dewott.”

                    “I’m also a mother. I’d do anything to get my babies back, and everyone here knows they’ve been taken now. It’s all over the papers.”

                    Macro rolled his eyes and let his paws drop to his sides. “Fine.”

                    He stuffed one of his lasers into her paw, the action alone leaving him feeling breathless as though someone had taken one of his lungs. As the cold nozzle touched his back his blood turned to ice and he instinctively raised both his paws.

                    “Move,” she said softly.

                    Macro kept one eye over his shoulder as he slowly walked towards the crowd. Anchor kept steady pace at his sides until he came to a sudden stop and looked down at his paws.

                    “You’re probably gonna wanna hold onto these,” he said, removing his gauntlets.

                    The dewott took them gingerly and tucked them under one arm. Despite the determined look on her face, she staggered slightly under their weight. Regardless, she pressed Macro forwards with the nozzle of the laser.

                    The mawile bit his tongue, reluctant to voice his discomfort. Was this really just an act? The look in her eyes and the pressure of his laser against his spine certainly made him doubtful.

                    Hundreds of eyes shot their way as they approached the crowd. Leers and scowls fixed on the space pirates, then traveled over to Lossy and her threatening laser. Her assumption was correct. Pokemon stepped back and parted to let her through, but not without the green flash of envy.

                    Macro resisted the urge to meet their eyes. More so because he was scared they’d see fear behind them. His pulse was racing, and it only worsened with every nudge from his own weapon.

                    The police station loomed before them, and the taut face of a blastoise leered down at them. When he spotted Lossy and the laser, his muzzle twisted into a sneer.

                    “Turning in the pokemon who were apparently ‘helping’ you?” he scoffed. “Trusting filth like that…”

                    “Just let me see Governor Jumper,” she said bluntly.

                    “He’s busy with the talonflame,” said the blastoise. “Besides, what makes you think I’m gonna let you march in there with an armed laser?”

                    “If I remove it, he’ll use the other one against me and run,” she said.

                    The blastoise’s eyes locked onto Macro’s for a painfully long second. Then his large paw stretched down towards him and he wagged a claw.

                    With a sigh, Macro reached to his right holster and plonked his laser into the blastoise’s calloused paw. His trusty weapon looked tiny as it was whisked away, leaving him feeling helpless. He reminded himself over and over he didn’t need his lasers. He was more than capable of dealing with other pokemon with his own attacks. He’d dealt with threats the size of the blastoise officer. He’d even thrown them.

                    “If I hand over this one,” Lossy said after she’d handed the blastoise Anchor’s gauntlets, “he might still fight back. My aquatic attacks won’t do anything to him.”

                    “Then I’ll take him through,” the blastoise said with a smile, but Macro could see the smirk hidden behind it.

                    Lossy wasn’t exactly blind either. Her tiny nose creased and the butt of the laser clicked as she tightened her grip. Macro’s fur stood on end and he gave her a wary glance. One misfire and she’d blow a hole in his torso.

                    “Fine.” The blastoise sighed and threw the door wide open. “Make it quick.”

                    Macro staggered forwards as Lossy jabbed him in the spine. Biting back a remark, he strutted towards the door. He caught a sneer from the tortoise pokemon before it slammed shut behind him, drowning out the ruckus from the crowd.

                    Macro glanced back at the dewott. “Okay. We’re inside. You can put my laser down now.”

                    She jabbed it into his back once more and he flinched, almost jogging along the corridor. He looked up at Anchor with wide, pleading eyes, and mouthed the words ‘help me’. The granbull gave him an apologetic shake of the head and kept pace beside him as Lossy marched them towards Jumper’s office.

                    The office door was shut, and Macro found himself sandwiched between it and his laser as Lossy leant over him to knock politely. His muzzle crinkled as he shot her a sideways leer at the sheer irony.

                    “Come in,” came Jumper’s muffled voice.

                    She pushed the door open and marched the two pirates ahead of her. The frogadier was sat beside a floatzel, and the governor’s expression switched from frustration to confusion to surprise then did a full loop back to frustrated. He cleared his throat and sat back in his seat, while the floatzel reluctantly discarded the paperwork he’d been slaving over.

                    “What is this?” The floatzel waved a paw at the two space pirates.

                    “It looks like two pirates didn’t leave the city when I told them to,” said Jumper. “What a foolish mistake.”

                    The floatzel leant towards him and muttered, “Governor, I hate to question you-”

                    “If you wouldn’t mind,” said Jumper, “could you leave me to deal with this for a few minutes?”

                    The floatzel reluctantly rose to his feet and left the room, pausing to fire Macro a disapproving sneer. Once the door had closed - well, slammed - Jumper turned back to the pirates and a painful silence washed over the office.

                    “I thought I told you two that you could leave safely provided it was before nightfall.” His eyes snapped onto Macro. “Clearly you didn’t listen.”

                    Macro folded his arms and shrugged. “I think you’ll find we just didn’t do it.”

                    “You know what I think?” Jumper leant forwards on the desk and steepled his paws together. “I think you should watch your mouth while you’re at the mercy of your own gun.”

                    Macro glanced back at Lossy over his shoulder. “We’re in. You can put it down now.”

                    The dewott’s paw trembled, but she kept the laser pressed into his spine. Her eyes were fixed on the frogadier, sparkling with tears.

                    “Do you think…” Her voice cracked and she visibly restrained herself from looking at the two pirates. “Do you think the grass army would trade them for my children?”

                    Macro’s jaw almost hit the floor. Every word that popped into his head came out of his mouth as a strangled gasp, and his violet eyes flew to the dewott with stunned accusation.

                    “After all we’ve done for you?!” he roared.

                    “You didn’t get them back,” she whimpered. “I want my babies!”

                    “We’re supposed to be here to clear Switch’s name, not sever my head!”

                    Jumper was oddly silent as he watched the three pokemon. He leant his chin on his steepled paws and looked at each of them in turn. Finally, he let out a sigh and sat back in his seat.

                    “To be honest, Lossy,” he said, “I understand your suggestion, but I highly doubt this army of grass types would see forty thousand credits a good substitution for bringing an end to an entire city. It might seem a lot of money to an individual, but it doesn’t go far.”

                    The dewott’s arm slackened and she let the gun fall to her side. Her eyes went to the floor and her shoulders shook with sobs.

                    In one fluid motion, Macro snatched his gun from her grip and popped it safely into his holster. The weight sent a wave of relief through him and he let out a satisfied sigh. It was swiftly washed away when he met the frogadier’s cold eyes, freezing him to the spot.

                    “You said you want to clear someone’s name?” Jumper paused and tapped his paw on the table. “I sincerely hope you don’t mean that talonflame…”

                    “Why not?” Macro asked. “I thought it would be a relief to you to learn that the grass army aren’t liaising with Magenta City.”

                    “No, but it would mean that yet another space pirate has invaded Cyan City.”

                    Macro folded his arms and smirked. “Switch ain’t a space pirate. He’s a client.”

                    Anchor leant towards him and whispered in his ear. “Don’t give too much away, Cap’n.”

                    “I ain’t stupid, Anchor.”

                    “I think you’ll find my hearing is impeccable,” said Jumper. “But, I guess locking an innocent pokemon behind bars is a crime in itself. If you can vouch that this talonflame is not in any way associated with the grass army’s invasion, then I suppose I can let you meet him.”

                    The frogadier rose and marched passed them towards the door. Macro watched him move, but his eyes met Lossy’s and his fur bristled like a ferroseed. He grit his teeth together and waved a clenched paw.

                    “Tryin’ to trade my life!” he barked.

                    Lossy stiffened and took a step back, her eyes going to the door. “I’m sorry! I… I just want-”

                    “I don’t want to hear it,” Macro hissed.

                    Jumper cleared his throat. “Excuse me. But there’ll be no fighting here. Lossy, you are free to go. You two.” He pointed at Macro and Anchor. “You come with me.”

                    Macro watched the dewott skulk off, then followed Jumper out of his office. The frogadier paused to lock up then gestured for the two space pirates to follow him down the narrow corridor.

                    “We caught him early this morning,” said Jumper. “He was flying over the city just before dawn. One of my officers shot him out of the sky with a water pulse, and he appears to have injured his wing in the fall.”

                    “If it’s Switch, he didn’t hurt it when he fell,” said Macro. “Unless he landed awkwardly. He hurt himself in a battle with a steelix in Raster Town.”

                    “What on earth were you doing in Raster Town?” Jumper looked back with some surprise then shook his head and waved a paw. “Never mind. I don’t think I want to know.”

                    He paused at another door and unlocked it. It led into another corridor lined with cells. Each one was closed off with a sheet of shock resistant plexi-glass. Scowling faces, most of which belonged to water types, leered back at them. Macro counted three prisoners, separated by empty cells, until they came to the one containing a talonflame. The disgruntled bird sat huddled in a corner, and his yellow eyes lit up when he saw the space pirates.

                    “Macro!”

                    “Macro?” Jumper looked down at the mawile.

                    The space pirate said nothing as he watched Switch skitter across the floor to reach the glass.

                    “I thought I was done for!” the talonflame gasped. “They think I’m assisting some army with an invasion!”

                    Macro frowned and tapped his claws along his arm. “You’re supposed to be on my ship. What about your wing?”

                    “I’m fine, honestly!” The way Switch held his left wing didn’t spell ‘fine’. “I whacked it a bit when I fell. Anyway, Matrix sent me.”

                    Macro slammed his paw into his face. “Why would he send a wounded pokemon?!”

                    “I insisted,” Switch said quickly. “Anchor sent message that he needed his heat tracker, and I came down here to deliver it. But… well… it was confiscated.”

                    Macro exchanged glances with Anchor and sighed. “If you’d just remembered to bring it yourself…”

                    Anchor shrugged. “I’m sorry, Cap’n. But I thought it would be necessary to help find those kids.”

                    “We also wanted to confiscate his watch,” said Jumper. “But when we tried, he had a panic attack. Convinced us it’s a medical implement.” He leant against the cell and fixed Anchor with a frown. “So the weapon belongs to you? I already told you this invasion is being dealt with. Cyan City’s army is planning a line of defense, and those two oshawott will be rescued. I’m reluctant to say you can’t leave after what you’ve done, but at this rate I fear you never will and I will have to contact Socket. Turn all three of you in.”

                    “What?!” Switch almost collapsed with shock. “No! Please! I told you, I can help you!”

                    Jumper turned to Switch and shrugged. “If you’re innocent, I’m sure she won’t harm you.”

                    Switch trembled from head to foot but he never took his eyes off the frogadier.

                    Macro’s heart was in his throat. He raised a paw to get the governor’s attention. “That won’t be necessary. We’ll finish what we came here for and be out of your fur.”

                    “I don’t have fur,” said Jumper. “And besides. What makes you think you’re getting your paws on that disk? I was informed it’s confidential information. Leave, otherwise you’ll face a lot worse than being turned over to Luma City.”

                    The reminder of Lossy’s threat chilled Macro to the core and he tore his eyes off the frogadier. His jaw tensed and one of his canines poked from his lips.

                    “I’m not goin’ anywhere,” he said. “I’m takin’ that disk back. It doesn’t belong to you, or Socket. As for you.” He pointed a claw at Switch. “You’re getting your feathered tush out of this city!”

                    Switch ruffled his feathers. “You think I’m leaving this place knowing there’s an army here causing trouble that I can deal with very well?” He spread his wings, flinching slightly. “I already told them I can help but they won’t believe me! Instead they now want to throw my life into Socket’s paws!”

                    Jumper ran a paw down his face. “One fire and flying type isn’t going to stand up against an entire army of grass types!”

                    “And neither is an army of water types! They’d wipe you out before you even stood a chance! I’ve spent years helping other pokemon, I know what I’m doing! Let me help!”

                    Anchor looked down at the flustered frogadier. “How long has this been goin’ on?”

                    “Since morning,” said Jumper.

                    “Years, eh?” Macro chuckled. “Interesting. Okay, how about this?” He turned to Jumper. “You take Switch’s help, and loan Anchor and me a couple of flying lasers. We’ll wipe this grassy threat off the face of Cyan City.”

                    “And what makes you think we have weapons here?” Jumper asked. “We’re under a weapon ban.”

                    A small smirk tugged at Macro’s lips. “How do you plan on taking on this army? ‘Cos like Switch pointed out, they clearly have the upper paw.”

                    Jumper’s expression fell and he tapped his fingers on his arm rapidly. A small sigh flew out of his lips and he rolled his eyes.

                    “Fine. We’re armed,” he said. “Like I said, we can handle this.”

                    Macro chuckled, then burst into fits of gleeful giggles. He fell into the glass and stretched out a paw to hold himself upright.

                    “A law breaker workin’ inside the law!” he gasped. “I love it!”

                    Jumper narrowed his eyes dangerously. “I strongly suggest you stop that, Hunter, or you’ll find yourself behind glass.”

                    Macro took a few deep breaths to calm himself and stood with his back to the glass. He fixed his playful smirk on Jumper and grinned.

                    “I think we’re at an impasse,” he said. “You’re holding weapons outside of Socket’s knowledge, while we’re trying to not be caught by her goons. You turn me in, I spill the beans. You let me do my thing, we tell no one and you’re safe.”

                    Jumper pursed his lips and stood silently analyzing the mawile. For a painful moment Macro really wished he could better read an opponents’ motives.

                    “I don’t like that,” Jumper said suddenly. “I’m not going to just let you roam free and take government property. You’ve already gone against my orders by staying here. If you want to ‘do your thing’ and escape with your lives, you can start by pulling your weight. I’ll loan the two of you a flying module each and you can assist us in rescuing those twins and removing the threat from this city. Only then will I let you three go free, and only if the oshawott brothers are rescued unscathed.”

                    Macro tutted and crossed his arms. “That’s hardly fair. What if they’ve already harmed them? Ain’t my fault.”

                    “That is unavoidable,” said Jumper. “But if they are harmed in the process of you rescuing them…”

                    Macro waved a paw. “Pish posh. We’ll get them out. But my price for this job-”

                    “Is your life,” said Jumper. “All three of your lives.”

                    Macro’s eye flew to the nervous talonflame. A few of his feathers had come loose and lay scattered on the ground.

                    “For the time being,” said Jumper, “I’m going to put the two of you in your own cells. I have to run things by the tactical officer first. Make sure no one tries to earn themselves a quick credit by going after your bounty.”

                    “You can assure that?” Macro asked.

                    “Of course. I’m the ‘big cheese’ here. My word is law until Socket overrules it.” Before he unlocked the nearest empty cell, he turned to Macro and held out a paw. “Laser.”

                    Reluctantly, Macro handed over his laser. Once again it left him feeling exposed and vulnerable. The cell door beside Switch opened and he was marched inside.

                    “Great,” said Anchor. “This will be the first time someone’s put me in a cell.”

                    “Thank your stars it’s only temporary,” said Macro as he watched Jumper lock the glass door.

                    “So if we lose this…” came Switch’s small voice. “What do we do? Flee?”

                    “There’s a higher chance of us losing in battle than there is being turned over to Socket,” said Anchor.

                    “You guys fret too much,” Macro spat, sinking to the floor. “Don’t worry, we got this.”
                    __________________
                    I believe in Jesus Christ my Savior. If you do too, and aren't scared to admit it, then copy and paste this in your signature.

                    A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
                    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
                    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
                    Fancy some Cyberpunk PMD action with space pirates? System:Reboot
                    Other Fics - SWC entry 'Rivers and Waterfalls'
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