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Apocalypse (Rated PG13+)

Torlen

aka Thanatos


apocalypse

chapter directory;

prologue&chapter1; the day of fire [scroll down]
chapter II; a legendary lead
chapter III; entei
chapter IV; a challenge met
chapter V; a gift of power
chapter VI; jason's history lesson
chapter VII; right back where we started
chapter VIII; separated
chapter IX; escape

Apocalypse is an FF based on the original (yes, the original) G/S/C games. It's a survival action horror about the "apocalypse" coming to Johto. Ho-Oh, along with her three legendary dogs, have been coerced into laying waste to the Johto region. In a single day, the entire area is demolished from raining meteors, intense storms, and blazing wildfires. Stephanie Storm, a young sixteen year old, will meet up with people she never expected to be allies with, and search for the cause of this disaster. Her search for the truth will bring her face to face with one of the most dangerous underground criminal group, named the Avengers.

The story is rather dark and although the entire story is generally PG-13 (as listed on the titles) there will be forewarnings to particularly nasty chapters. As always, ratings are provided before the story. Also, criticism and reviews are not only allowed, but welcome, so if you have something to say, feel free.

Enjoy!

Torlen

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RATING (for prologue+chapter1)

Violence: slight brutality (a boy being dragged onto the street).

Gore: Hints of an injured Pokémon, speak of corpses due to natural disaster.

Sexuality: None.

Profanity: the S word, but it's censored.

Other: Mention and use of a firearm.


----


prologue

Fire.

Fire leaked from the sky, spilling onto the ground and relentlessly burning everyone underneath it. Anyone who was there could tell you - the sky rained fire - and nothing else. Nobody really truly remembered what happened that day. They could tell you that meteors cut through clouds like butter and smashed into brick houses like cardboard. They could tell you the sky was blood-red and the sun was crimson from all its burning fury. They could tell you that Pokémon had lit the surrounding forests on fire in their fear.

Not one of them, however, could tell you why it happened.

Since that day, many scientists have been searching for the exact reason why it all came together. Why the Pokémon seemed to react to it before it even happened. Why they betrayed their trainers and went berserk. Why the meteors fell. Why any of this happened.

Perhaps the most important questions that have yet to be answered:

"What's next?" and "Why us?"

----​
chapter I; the day of fire

It was a bright, sunny day.

It was only one week after it had stopped raining fire.

That's what they called it in Johto. The Day it Rained Fire. It had a certain ring to it, I'll admit. It couldn't describe the type of horror the entire region - perhaps the entire world - had endured. There wasn't much to do now, and there were only three things that I could do.

One, scavenge for any food - or any people - still left in Olivine City.

Two, constantly check the radio for any signs from Goldenrod. Since the day of disaster, there had only been static on each station.

Three, cry. Which, I happened to do a lot of, and happened to be very good at.

My name is Stephanie Storm. I am 15 years old and I used to be a student, but I suppose now I'm just a survivor. I used to have a family - my younger brother David and my mom Karen and dad Richard. They perished that day. They had decided to go for a day at the beach while I chose to stay in my house. Doing homework. I noted it was the only time that homework had ever paid off, but I suppose being the last survivor in the entirety of Olivine City was an arguable situation.

The things that I had inherited from my parents were countless, especially considering the destruction. Their food, their clothing, their possessions, but there were things that I had inherited that I didn't even want. Thick, dark brown hair that never seemed to stay straight or do what I wanted, pale skin that made me look like a ghost, scrawny limbs and weak ankles. My nose was crooked to the right and my teeth had been covered recently in wires and metal shrapnel which my dentist like to call braces. I wasn't pretty in any respect, sometimes I tried to listen to my mother when she told me I was a "beautiful unique little snowflake and people that couldn't respect me for who I am, are no good at all".

But... she is dead, so what does it matter, I find myself saying sometimes.

Houses were half destroyed; roofs had caved in, ashes had flown into the wind, various furniture had been dragged out in my effort to find survivors and anything useful, and bricks lay scattered amongst the dried yellow and black grasses. Fire had burned the houses, while the wind had swept away fences and signs and left them impaled in several things such as neighboring houses, to corpses. I had gotten rid of the dead bodies as soon as I could. However, the smell still lingered.

The infamous lighthouse managed to survive, although the creaking drove me mad. Its flawless ivory-coloured bricks had been singed and were now a mix of gray and pure black. The light flickered and sometimes rotated in a circle, only to stop and return to being stationary. Its antenna, however, had snapped right off, and I had found it along the beaches and I had a habit of carrying it around like a weapon nowadays.

The water was turbulent and the waves on the beach seemed to reach up with desperate fingers and pull in whatever object they could into the relentless tide. Despite it being a calm day, the sea was furious. Legends my grandfather used to tell me when I was a child about the Lord of the Sea came to my mind. If there was a legendary Pokémon down there, perhaps it was angry of what had become of the surface world.

Or perhaps it was angry that it didn't get a chance to take part. I thought glumly. I dismissed the thought from my mind. It's not like I needed any more despair in my life.

A Larvitar I had nicknamed Pepper stood on the edge of the ocean, watching aimlessly as the ocean grabbed at her tiny toes. She seemed to be indifferent about the destruction that had claimed my town, and somehow I could not blame her. She was only a Pokémon - Pepper had not known my home like I had. Olivine City perhaps was a blemish on the nature that she loved.

"Pepper," I called while I rushed to her. I was desperate for company. Pepper, the tiny Larvitar with a scarred face, was the only friend I had left. We had known each other for a couple years after I had found her in the hills beyond Olivine and fed her. I had never once thought that she was mine, per se, like how some people called themselves trainers and raised Pokémon to fight in glorious competitions.

Pepper turned and jumped up and down gleefully. "Steph!" she cried. I had taught her words such as 'hungry', 'thirsty', 'tired', and 'Steph' so she would know how to communicate with me. Pepper was such a fast learner. Cute, too. "Hungry," she echoed.

I dug through my jeans for the trail mix I found in an empty house the other day. The nuts were hard and the candies had all been eaten, but it was food. I held out the bag for her and she dug in greedily. I envied her. I couldn't tell if she was too innocent or too oblivious to realize that all the humans and Pokémon alike around her had perished. Yet, she was a friend in the desolate city and I couldn't turn away that. Pepper liked to follow her, and she especially liked to scavenge with her. Often, however, she would sit on the beach and just... well, stare. I even asked her, one day, what she was looking at, and she just replied, "hungry". She was always hungry.

Evening fell that night and I had considered making a fire but the summer air was warm and the persistent ocean had finally yielded and fell silent for a night. Pepper and I gorged on nicely preserved fruit cups we had found, and Pepper even learned how to say "fruit". I was proud of her.

The sound of footsteps deterred me from my short-lasting pride in my partner. Pepper heard them too; she dashed behind me as fast as her tiny feet could carry her and grasped onto the edges of my jacket. Whistles, hoots and hollers accompanied these, and quickly, I snatched Pepper in my arms - she was heavy! - and rushed behind the nearest destroyed house. It had never occurred to me why I ran - it was the first human contact I heard in a week, I should be happy, but I was glad that I didn't run out to greet them, after what they said next.

"Any survivors, ya think? Ya didn't find any in Ecruteak either, did ya?" A male voice, thick with a foreign accent that Steph didn't recognize.

"No," A female voice, cold and distant. "I doubt there are any rats in this s***hole either. If we do, they're probably going to be a child or an elder, that's for sure. What's the point of them?" She scoffed confidently. "Not like they're any use to us."

"Hehe, yer right as always. Well, maybe we should scan the place, ya know, to see if we can find anythin' that might satisfy us?"

The air was silent for a moment, and I saw two figures step out in the dark. They turned to survey the ruins for a moment, before I heard the girl whisper. "I think someone's here."

I froze. Surely, they couldn't be talking about me. I was hiding out of plain view and the ruined city had become so dark that you couldn't see much without a light, which they didn't have. The girl flipped on a flashlight, and I took cover behind the building, clutching Pepper in my arms. The two of us breathed heavily in our fear - our heartbeats matching each other in a panicked race.

A racket suddenly erupted, and shouts burst into the night. "Will, drag him out!" was all I heard from the girl as someone - a boy - screamed and the sound of gunfire silenced him.

At first, I thought the boy had been shot, but it was only warning fire. "Shut up, if ya value yer life," the man Will said. I peered out again and saw that they had pinned a teenage boy to the ground, who held his hands up to his face to avoid the glaring light from the girl's flashlight.

"P-Please, don't hurt me. I-I have nothing you want!" he whined loudly. The two that had dragged him out of the wreckage glanced at each other for a moment. I noticed the two had large, crimson 'A's embroidered on their black jacket sleeves. I couldn't tell if they were scavengers from a neighboring town or part of a bigger equation.

"If you don't have anything we want, why would we keep you alive?" the girl removed a small red and white ball from her pocket and opened the capsule carefully. A beam of light illuminated the area as a ten foot tall snake burst out of the ball into the area. With a ferocious hiss, the violet and gold snake leapt forwards and began to circle its prey.

The boy whimpered pathetically. "Please, please, spare me, I won't do anything, I won't hurt anyone-"

"Of course ya can't hurt anyone, yer pathetic," the man sighed. "Just leave him be, Rosette."

"No," she replied coldly. I heard the soft cha-click of the gun clip being changed. "If we show mercy here, we will never be forgiven."

Will seemed to have a change of heart. "Rosette, it's a kid. He's too weak to hurt anyone and he'll die out here anyway. There isn't a functioning city for miles."

Rosette growled. "You are too soft," she whispered dangerously, but began to walk away.

It was a few minutes before the two intruders were out of earshot. For the entire time, the boy had laid on the ground, only daring to breathe. I hesitated going near him, fearing he might scream and bring the two running back, but after a while I could feel Pepper's tiny hands tug on my jacket. She didn't waste any time dashing off to the boy either. I had no choice but to follow. I couldn't let Pepper run off into potential danger without me.

I tip-toed across the cobblestone road, careful to pause every once in a while and listen intently for footsteps. I reached the boy and observed his eyes had closed. Thoughts raced through my head. I didn't know what to do. Was he in shock? Was he dead?

Suddenly, his hand seized the collar of my hoodie and he tried to pull himself up. I bit my lip to stop from screaming. He drew his face close to mine, and then in a single puff of breath, exhaled the word "puffer".

I thought at first he said "Pepper", and wondered how on earth he knew about her. Then, to my shock, I looked as a shining white object was suspended in the air in front of me. I grabbed it and pulled it down, realizing that the boy had asked for his "puffer", not for "Pepper". I wrapped the boy's fingers around the small medicinal specimen and watched as he inhaled from the puffer and slowly sat up.

"Thank you," he whispered breathlessly. "I don't know why you didn't do that sooner."

I was astounded by his rude words after I had saved his life, but I paid no mind to it. He was on the verge of death - or at least I'll let myself think that. "No problem."

The boy was a tad chubby. A mop of curly auburn hair on his head fell to the very edges of his thick brow. He constantly adjusted his thick rimmed glasses with pudgy fingers. His clothes were dirty and stained with food remnants. He frowned when I had addressed him casually. "Not you," he snickered. "I was talking to Gregory."

Gregory appeared just then. First, as a wide smile of pearly white teeth, then as pasty pupil-less eyes, followed by two purple crooked hands and a small, detached violet body. It took me a while to realize just who Gregory was. It was the boy's Haunter. Whether this boy was a trainer or just a friend to Pokémon, I had no idea, but my curiosity soon overwhelmed me. I had been within the ruins of Olivine for a week now, and not once had I stumbled across another human. To my knowledge, before this, it was just Pepper and I. How this boy evaded my watch was beyond my comprehension.

"Who are you? How did you get here?" I found myself asking, still crouched by him as he looked back at me through fogged lenses.

He took his glasses off and began to wipe them casually. "I'm Ned. S-Sorry about before. I d-didn't mean to be rude. Th-Thanks for giving me my puffer."

I raised an eyebrow. His tough-guy attitude from before had completely melted. "I'm Steph," I said softly. "How did you get here?"

"I travelled from E-Ecruteak. Since the town was destroyed, I had no where to go. Do you have any food?"

I found it a bit unnerving talking to this stranger with Gregory staring wide-eyed at my every action. Pepper was at my side, stomach growling. Everyone's hungry. I don't think there's enough to feed everyone. "I don't," I replied glumly. "I don't think there's any left."

"Then we have to move," Ned sighed, lifting himself off his feet. Gregory's clawed hands appeared suddenly on either of his shoulders, and the Haunter's mouth chomped onto Ned's head, but the boy didn't seem to notice. "If you stay here, there might be more of those people."

"Did you know them?" I inquired. I hadn't ever seen them before. I hadn't seen anyone. It felt good talking again with another human being. Ned shook his head and glanced off towards the road that exited the city. His Haunter disappeared when he shook his head and reappeared at his feet, tongue hanging out.

"I don't know who they are, but I don't want to run into them again," he sighed, obviously discouraged. "Um, Steph? You haven't seen any other humans? All I see are wild Pokémon. I haven't seen another human since today."

I shook my head and patted Pepper's head. She looked up at me with pure glee. "It's only been Pepper and I since today."

"Do you think maybe we should... g-go?"

Go where? I thought despairingly. Goldenrod's radio was out, Ecruteak was as dead as Olivine and there were thugs running about. Survival seemed like a weak prospect in this situation. Still, I found myself agreeing with Ned. There was barely any food and barely a point to staying holed up in these ruins, especially if more thugs were appearing. I wanted to live - I wanted to survive. I wanted to find out who almost killed Ned, and I wanted to find out exactly what had happened. Why this tragedy happened.

"Alright, Ned," I started, completely set on what I was going to do. "Here's the deal. You, I, Gregory and Pepper, will go. Adventure, if you will. We'll only be searching for one thing."

"Food?" Ned said hopefully, so hopefully I was almost sad to shoot him down.

"We search for why. Why, and why only. Once we have answered why, we have to go our separate ways. Understand?" I said it confidently enough, but I began to wonder. If the world was as dangerous as it seemed, perhaps it would be good to have an ally like Ned. Looking over him now, he seemed like exactly the stereotype I placed him to be. Fat, sweaty, loser. Harsh, but accurate, it seemed.

"O-Okay." Ned pushed his glasses back up his face and stuttered. He didn't seem to like the prospect of splitting up either. Our destination was far off, though, and neither of us were prepared for what lay ahead. A quick glance at Pepper's eager, innocent eyes was all the inspiration I needed. I'd survive. Today, tomorrow, forever, if I had to.​
 
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Maze

I review too!
This was a good read. The concept of a post-apocalyptic journey isn't all that new, but I like your angle. Instead of there being a nuclear fallout or some other disaster, no one knows exactly why all of this happened. I'm really interested to go on the journey and solve the mystery with your characters. Let me know when the next chapter is out.
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: Man being bit by a Larvitar. No blood mentioned.

Gore: None

Sexuality: None

Profanity: None

Other: Someone blacks out.

----​


chapter II; a legendary lead

Life had come to me on a silver platter before the Day of Fire. My parents loved me and provided me everything that I needed. I had gone to a school, had a best friend, and I was even on track to become a Pokémon professor.

Gregory and Ned... those two were a different story. They were more like best friends rather than Pokémon and trainer. Gregory the Haunter said nothing but rather liked finding new objects. Every so often, he'd return to the group and in his transparent purple hands he held a shiny rock, an empty pokéball, and sometimes various burned or forgotten objects.

After about the second time in the same day that Gregory had dropped several bowling balls in my purse when I wasn't looking, I got agitated. "Buzz off," I screamed at the air, where two blinking eyes stood staring at me. Ned shuddered at my loud voice and the Haunter promptly disappeared.

"S-Sorry about him," Ned stuttered.

I felt bad whenever Ned stuttered. It made him sound more pathetic than he actually was. Ned and I had departed Olivine when the morning came, heading for Ecruteak City. Destruction had seemingly increased along the way. Fire had scorched the trees and rendered them completely useless. That farm that used to stand at the halfway point between Olivine and Ecruteak had burned to the ground. The Miltank had disappeared, and we didn't find any bodies of either the Pokémon or the owners inside.

Pepper rummaged through the empty barn, and found an untouched crate of Moomoo milk and corn meant for the Pokémon. Ned and I found the corn to be bitter and unsatisfying, but at least we didn't leave on an empty stomach. The Moomoo milk was refreshing and Pepper seemed to love it, which was all the comfort I needed.

"So," Ned piped up after we had been on the road for some time. "uh, I... how did... you and Pepper meet?"

I told him the story. He nodded nervously. An awkward air hung over the both of us. Gregory appeared to munch on his shoulder again. "Well, uh..."

My eyes drifted away, disinterested. As we edged over the hill, I spotted four figures standing on the road. The ridge we were staying on was elevated above the four of them below, so I grabbed Ned's arm and dragged him down beside me. "Keep quiet," I whispered threateningly when he began to whine. We both peered down on the operation below, trying desperately to hear what they were discussing.

"...so then I said to him, that's no Pikachu, that's my wife!" a large man said. A small rat was at his side, gnawing on a piece of bark. A smaller man stood on the opposite side of the path, patting a cat with a springy tail on the head. The two of them chuckled together.

"A Rattata, and a Glameow," Ned whispered. He looked utterly confident in his deliberation. "There's no mistaking it - the purple rat and the cat with the spring tail."

"Are they any good?" I asked him cautiously. I had never seen those Pokémon before and Ned had named them without any hesitation. Perhaps he was more useful than I assumed.

"No, they're typically weak Pokémon, given to grunts and new trainers," he looked at me. "Who do you think they are?"

I shrugged. "Only one way to find out," I told him, before hopping down from the ledge and strolling towards them.

I could hear Ned groan and fret as I moved out, but I didn't care. I was tired of hiding from people. Thankfully, Pepper tagged along, so I had someone to go with. I shoved my hands into my pockets. I could hear my dad's anxious voice in my head. Even though he had perished only a week ago, and his death was still fresh in my mind, I heard his voice like it was yesterday. "What do you think you're doing, Stephy? You could get hurt." Hurt... No, not me, Dad. It was you who got hurt. You burned while I survived.

But maybe I did get hurt too.

"Hey, you." The stranger's voice jarred me from my thoughts. They were much taller down here. A jolt of fear crossed my heart, but I felt Pepper's tiny hands clutching my pant leg and suddenly I felt better. I had to protect her. "Refugees have to hand over their gold in order to pass." The fat man shrugged. "I'm sorry."

All our gold? I thought angrily. If these were decent people, they would be helping us, not taking our money. "You're not sorry," I whispered suddenly, fists clenching. "Who are you?"

The two looked at each other and nodded. "Kid, just give us your money and maybe we won't hurt you."

Pepper bristled at my side. "Fruit!" she screeched, running forwards and suddenly chomped on the large man's leg. He shrieked in anguish and flailed his leg. Pepper was sent sailing back into my arms. The weight of her - the crushing weight! - sent me falling back onto my back. When did my little girl get so heavy?

"You think you're funny, eh?" the younger man bellowed. "Glameow!" The cat reacted with a hiss and lunged at Pepper, who came to meet her.

There was barely anything I could do for her - the impact of Pepper from earlier burned my chest so badly I could barely breathe. I clutched my neck, massaging it in hopes that I could soothe the whiplash, but it didn't seem to do much. Pepper was locked in a struggle with the cat creature. The two were biting and scratching each other, without a clear winner.

Suddenly, the fat man's Rattata leapt at me, revealing its wide, sharp fangs. I flinched, closing my eyes and waiting for the impact, but it never came. Hesitantly, I opened my eyes again to see Gregory suspending the Rattata in the air by its tail. Ned crouched beside me, offering a hand to help me up. I accepted it, and he helped me stand. It was rather amusing to see Ned's Haunter whip the Rattata around by its tail, and even funnier to see it fly across the forest and out of our view. Gregory plucked the Glameow's tail and it squealed, turning its head long enough for Pepper to deliver a KO-punch.

"Okay, okay!" the younger one said. "Stop, we're done, we're done, just stop!"

Ned helped me over to the two. The fat man had recoiled into the fetal position and was rocking back and forth while holding his wound. "W-Who are you working for?" Ned asked timidly. We exchanged glances. This past battle, my opinion of Ned had completely changed. He might be stupid and timid, but he did save my life and he was asking the questions now.

The two of them hesitated. "W-Working for?" The young man hesitated. "I have no idea what you're talking about." Gregory appeared at the man's side, placing both of his purple hands over his eyes. The young man yelled out in surprise, struggling to see. "Okay, okay! I'll tell you!" The Haunter withdrew to Ned's side.

He cleared his throat. "Uhh, alright. The group we work for is called the Avengers." He brandished the red 'A' that was on his sleeve. "We formed... a-after the Destruction."

I narrowed my eyes. "I don't believe you." Pepper growled and bared her teeth beside me.

"Okay, okay, maybe we had a few meetings and a group social before the actual destruction."

"How many of there are you?"

He sighed. "Maybe... five thousand."

"Five thousand?!" Ned and I said, incredulous.

He nodded. "And growing, I think. Captain said that people are willing to join now that their lives are at stake."

"Where are you based?"

The man shrugged. "I don't know, honestly. I joined after they raided my house in Cherrygrove."

Cherrygrove... Cherrygrove was pretty far away. If this organization had spread that far, would we find anyone in any town that wasn't a part of this place? Or were we doomed from the start? Ned must have seen my troubled face and he patted my back comfortingly. "Can I go?" the man wailed suddenly. "He's losing blood and if I'm found here like this..."

"Just go," I whispered breathlessly. My head hurts. I can't bear to listen to him anymore. Was everything a waste? Pepper's by my side now and whimpering. "Steph, Steph," she cried, even though she's hurt and I can see that. Ned's saying something but I can't hear it. All I can think about it my family in the sky's fire, and then thinking that my entire life from here on in is going to be working for that organization and...

----​

First thing I noticed is the heat. For a while it's warm and comforting, but then all I can think about it the death and destruction it brings.

I sat up and regret that. My head hurt and my stomach felt like it was ready to jump out of my throat. "W-Whoa," I heard Ned say, and he rushed to my side. "C-Careful!" Pepper jumped up beside me, constantly wailing and crying, "Steph, Steph!" and I can't hear anything but her, so I give her a reassuring pat on the head and she seems to accept that.

Ned came into focus. He was carrying a bowl of soup - where did he get that? - I thought, then, where am I? I decided to voice that question. "Where are we?" I croaked.

"We're in Ecruteak. This is my house. Or, well, the ruins of it." I took moments to look around. It was well-kept, despite some of the walls showing signs of the walls being burned. Ned must have stayed here for a while and cleaned up. A fire was burning in the middle of the floor. Gregory and Pepper seemed to be getting along just fine - they were bouncing a tiny ball back and forth.

"We made it, then. Any signs of those thugs?" I asked warily. I had hoped the answer wouldn't be yes, and I was pleasantly surprised. He shook his head.

"No, but you should see the town. I-I think you'd be... interested, to say the least." Ned looked away, suddenly shy. This interested me, just like he predicted, so I got up with his help and walked out the doorway.

The door blew open in a flash, almost ripping off its hinges. The town was... a mess. It looked nothing like Olivine, however. The wind was blowing so hard I thought I might fall over if not for Ned's steady hands. Several buildings were burned, but more importantly was the storm that raged above them. Most of the buildings were burned or destroyed, except for the marvelous Tin Tower, which stood strong in the storm. Lightning flashed in the distance and thunder roared. There was an odd noise behind the thunder, like a Pokémon's growl. I couldn't quite place my finger on it.

Ned sensed my wonder. "You can hear it too, then." He sighed, oddly calm. "I figured you might not know," he said as he pulled me back in and shut the door with difficulty. "but every Ecruteak citizen knows that this city isn't... normal, per se."

He had changed his clothes. It made him look more comely. The lack of food-stains really helped. He seemed calmer now that we had settled in. Gregory and Pepper seemed to be in a good mood too. I suppose that we all needed a break. "Here, I'll show you what I found while you eat."

I had almost forgotten about my soup. I picked the bowl up in my hands and accepted the warmth graciously. Ned didn't have any spoons but I was happy enough to eat. Pepper clambered onto my lap and attempted to get into the soup bowl. I was comfortable enough to let her eat it, but... "Did you feed Pepper?" I called after him.

"Yeah, I must have given her everything in the fridge. She's eating a lot. That's a good sign, Steph. Might mean she's ready to move on." Ned answered.

Move on. Evolve, he meant. I wasn't as familiar with Pokémon as Ned was, so I had no idea what she would turn into. She was cute as a Larvitar. I wasn't sure if she'd be as cute... but hopefully she might not as heavy. By the time I was done wondering what Pepper might look like, Ned was back with a heavy leather-covered book in his hands, flipping through the pages.

"The Legends Within Ecruteak," I read calmly. "Give it here." Ned obeyed, and I flipped through the pages absentmindedly. It was in a language I couldn't read, so I observed the pictures. There was a triangle of three Pokémon: a cobalt dog with white ribbons flowing around it, a golden tiger with a flowing white-cloud cape, and a crimson lion with a star face mask and silver spikes. "Suicune, Raikou, Entei," Ned said, revealing their names.

"The legend said that these three Pokémon were born of water, lightning and fire. They could not contain their excessive power, so they ran like the wind into the grassland. A rumor says that they rest within the bottom of the Burned Tower. They test chosen humans by allowing them to get close," Ned explained, his green eyes lighting up with excitement. I could tell he had read this so much he had it memorized.

There was something about those Pokémon. Something strange. "You think that maybe..."

"...they are the ones causing this storm?" Ned frowned. "I-I had thought of that but..." He adapted his nervous guise again. "T-The storm is blocking us from getting to the Burned Tower."

"Nonsense," I scoffed. I wasn't going to let Ned duck out of this. If they truly were causing the storm... then they needed to be stopped. It reminded me of the ocean and how it raged constantly at Olivine. Rumor had it that a Pokémon rested deep within the Whirl Islands. If that was true, and it had awoken due to the disaster, then perhaps it was the one who was causing the ocean to rage. The storm had no end and it would end up flooding Ecruteak and the surrounding areas if it didn't stop. The Avengers seemed like smalltime compared to what these three Pokémon could do. "How soon can we set out?"

Ned groaned. "I knew you wouldn't let this go. I just knew it." He considered it, and then thought. "The storm calms down a bit during the daytime, s-so I guess we could leave then."

"Perfect. We'll set out tomorrow then." I smirked, and Pepper was excited too. I was thinking that I might have rubbed off on her a bit. She admired my adventurous spirit, as I admired her company. With her, Ned, and Gregory, the challenges ahead didn't seem too hard. But that didn't stop my dreams from being flooded with the images of the three Pokémon.

Suicune, Entei, Raikou.
 
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Torlen

aka Thanatos

character sheet; steph

Name: Stephanie Storm

Age: 15

Physical Description: Thick, dark brown wavy hair, falls down to her shoulders, pale skin, pale green eyes, thin and lanky, 5'7'', freckles, braces, defined jaw line, thin nose. Her general clothing falls along the lines of warm hoodie, jeans and sneakers. She likes to keep it casual and yet she likes her clothes to serve purpose. She hates having fashionable items that have no purpose (ex, necklaces, jewelry, or scarves).

Family: A younger brother David, mother Karen and father Richard. They all perished in the Day of Fire. She has an uncle that lives in Goldenrod and works on the train.

Friends: Stephanie wasn't popular in school but she did have a few dedicated friends, who all perished in the Day of Fire. Ned, the boy she met in the ruins of Olivine remains her only friend - she considered him a welcome ally after his Haunter Gregory had saved her life.

Pokémon: Stephanie's partner is Pepper, her Larvitar. They met two weeks before the Day of Fire. Without anywhere to escape to, Pepper attached herself to Steph and the two mutually accepted each other.

Hometown: Steph was born in Sootpolis, Hoenn, but moved to Olivine City shortly after due to strange weather effects that threatened the city.

Personality: Steph inherited her father's stern and judgmental attitude, and her mother's affinity for Pokemon. Steph tends to be a loner - after learning in school that people judge quickly - and based on appearance - she likes people to prove themselves to her before they can trust her. She loves her Pokemon and would do anything to protect them, because she believes in how innocent they are and how they are unable to judge human beings. Once someone has proven themselves, however, she gives them her undying support and attention.

Beliefs: Believes strongly that she has power that no one can usurp from her. Hates betrayal and holds honour about everything.

Influences/Heroes: Steph was always told that she was so much like her dad, so she aimed to be like him - he was the Gym Leader of the local Steel gym, so he had a reputation to be strong and unfailing. In public, he was the epitome of vigor and strength. At home, however, he was affectionate and caring towards his family. Steph loved him with all her heart and wished to be "his daughter" as well as she could be.

Strengths: Steph is strong-willed and powerful - she knows how to battle with her Pokémon and inspire those to lead her. She believes in those who have proved themselves to her and does everything she can to help them succeed.

Weaknesses: Steph is wary and distrustful. She tends to judge too quickly.​
 

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
Interesting fic, I didn't see too much wrong with it but it was good. I bet Larvitar is going to evolve any day now.
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
This was a good read. The concept of a post-apocalyptic journey isn't all that new, but I like your angle. Instead of there being a nuclear fallout or some other disaster, no one knows exactly why all of this happened. I'm really interested to go on the journey and solve the mystery with your characters. Let me know when the next chapter is out.
Thanks so much for the read. :)

Interesting fic, I didn't see too much wrong with it but it was good. I bet Larvitar is going to evolve any day now.
Thanks for the read. :) And haha, perhaps she will! You'll have to find out.
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: a woman's legs are crushed by a ruined building, blood mentioned.

Gore: None

Sexuality: None

Profanity: None

Other: n/a

----​

chapter III; entei


Ned and I left the house the moment the storm was gone. Gregory had been out for some time exploring the town, so we weren't surprised when he came back waving his arms like he had found something. The sky rumbled above with the distant thunder: a warning that the storm would soon resume. When both of us dismissed it, insisting we head towards the Burned Tower, Gregory wouldn't take no for an answer, and threatened to stay in the house if we didn't come along. So, we did.

We found her underneath a pile of rubble; a rustic historical building had completely collapsed. Her black hair was spilled out in front of her, slick and shiny from the rain. Her lower half had been cut off by a large piece of the ceiling, but her garb was a traditional robe, decorated with tiny Pokémon print. It took all of us to move the rubble off her and both Ned and me to help carry her.

Her legs were crumpled - they would definitely be broken, but whether or not she'd ever be able to use them again or not, I wasn't sure. She wasn't responsive, but she was horrendously cold and shivering. "Is she even alive?" I whispered cautiously.

Ned didn't answer. We both shuffled her along to his house and lay her carefully on the sofa. She groaned and narrowed her eyes, and we both stood still as we waited to see if she would awaken. The girl didn't awaken, but it was our first time to get a good look at her.

She was beautiful. Make-up stained his cheeks, but there was a plain gorgeousness in her face. Her skin was smooth and flawless, her cheeks were full and her brow was soft and even. "I-I... know who she is!" Ned said suddenly. "I thought it was strange at first, but now I know."

"Well?" I folded my arms. "Who is she?"

"T-There used to be a theatre in Ecruteak," Ned explained, blushing. "There were... d-dancers there. I think this is one of them. If I'm not mistaken, this one is... S-Sayo."

I raised my eyebrows. "You... went there often?"

Ned's face turned an even deeper red, to my amusement. "N-No. My father did, though. He was one of the people who built the theatre. The dancers aren't... like those dancers you're thinking of. They're traditional and dance with Pokémon. They're professionals."

I wasn't about to question what kind of person Ned's father was. We didn't have time. "The storm will return soon," I warned. "What are we going to do? We can't hide here forever. The storm will knock down this house too, you know. It's only a matter of time."

Ned looked back from Sayo and me hesitantly. I couldn't tell if he actually cared about the dancer, or if he was just having fun playing the white knight. "I-I don't know, Steph. We can't just leave her."

"What if she never wakes up, Ned?" I asked sternly. "What if she's in a coma? We don't know how long she's been there, we don't know if she'll ever come around. We need to think about ourselves here a bit. We can't afford to have a body to carry around."

"N-No, we can't," Ned agreed reluctantly. His hands slowly turned into fists. I could understand his pity, but we had things to do, places to go, and dragging around a half-dead body wasn't going to help them at all. "Listen," he said suddenly. "You go to the Burned Tower."

"What?"

"Y-You... You heard me." Ned was being assertive. Ned, assertive? The words didn't seem to go together well. He turned to Gregory, who was twisting and turning in the air. "Gregory, I need you to search the town for any type of medical supplies. The shop isn't too far from here." The Haunter obediently melted through the walls.

"Ned," I growled. "What do you mean?"

Ned took a moment to reassure himself. "You go to the Burned Tower. You find the legendary Pokémon. You do it. I'll stay here and watch Sayo. I'm not leaving her alone. You might be able to disregard human life, but I... I w-won't."

I was shocked. Ned was looking at the floor in embarrassment, but his words were strong. I didn't want to mention that I was scared to go against three legendary creatures that might rip my head off. I couldn't. If Ned didn't want to look weak in front of me, I couldn't look weak in front of him. "Fine," I whispered bitterly. Pepper looked up at me in wonder and curiosity. "Let's go, Pepper. Leave them to the storm, see what we care."

"Steph..." Ned and Pepper said suddenly, but I ignored them both. Pepper took one last look at Ned and Sayo, before she followed me out the door.

The winds had picked up again. Chimes that hung from above Ned's door tinkled viciously in the winds. I shoved my hands into pockets and shielded my eyes with my shoulders. Pepper tagged along dutifully, although her guilt showed in her every movement. The rain began to spit from above, and the thunder gradually became louder with every passing minute.

I managed to find the Burned Tower easily - the giant half-burned towers stuck out like a sore thumb in the ruins of Ecruteak. The doorway was wide open, and although the wind tunnel was fierce through the doorway, ducking right or left brought a sweet shelter from the wind. It was dark at first, until my eyes adjusted to the torches on the walls. Wood covered the floors and the walls, and the place smelled heavily of oak and ashes. I searched anywhere for some kind of clue as to where to go, but found nothing. Pepper hung close to me as I moved down the room, hugging the wall for extra comfort.

I moved along the perimeter of the walls, and found that the center of the room was covered in darkness. Something must lie there, I realized suddenly. Gathering my courage, I stepped forwards, and immediately I realized my mistake.

Rrrrrrrrrrip! The floor below me gave away. "Steph!" Pepper cried, but her voice grew weaker as I fell. Desperately, I tried to place my feet below me, so wherever I may land, I could hopefully land on my feet. A sickening thought of Sayo's crushed legs rushed through my legs before I hit the ground.

"Ngh!" I grunted as my legs found the floor. The breath was knocked out of me suddenly, and I gasped in shock. I rolled over quickly after I heard Pepper whistling through the air above me, just in time to avoid being a Stephanie sandwich yet again. Pepper bounced up immediately - just as I expected with her brimming vitality. She rushed over to my side and I patted her head comfortingly. I couldn't be weak in from of her. Not now.

Darkness enveloped us. I strained my eyes to see something, anything, but nothing would have it. We were lost, for sure, unless we had some light. I felt around the ground, until my hand came in contact with something furry. Furry! my mind realized. I reeled back, but it was too late.

With a ferocious roar, the basement lit up instantly as the torches on the walls went alight. There was no mistaking it - the face mask, the cloud cape, and the white ribbons. The three of them stood before me, crimson eyes glaring at me with contempt and hate. Entei snarled, while the other two circled Pepper and I.

"Human," Raikou bellowed. His voice was deep and crackly; the spirit of thunder. I was frozen with fear. I could feel my limbs shaking and tears coming to my eyes. "Why have you crossed this sacred domain?"

"Human," Suicune growled. His voice was soft with an odd poison within it. "Have you nothing to say in the face of your death?"

I looked up at Entei pleadingly. "P-Please," I stuttered. It reminded me of Ned. Ned. Thank God he stayed behind. I couldn't bear to hear him stammer and cry in front of these beautiful legendary beings. Cry and stammer... just like I was. I felt weak. Weak and young. I hated it. The beasts lined up and continued to stare. To judge. I shut my eyes from their piercing glare.

Pepper suddenly lunged from my side. "Hungry!" She screamed, launching herself into the chest of Entei. The beast roared so loud I thought my eardrums would shatter. Pepper sent the brute tumbling back. A deeper rumble than Entei's fall echoed through out the basement. Suicune and Raikou stopped, glanced at each other for half a second, and then bolted; faster than anything I had ever seen. A bright, white light enveloped the area, so bright I had to shield my eyes. Pillars from the ceiling plummeted onto Entei, followed by rocks and various other rubble. They covered both Entei and Pepper.

For moments, all that followed was silence.

Silence...

...

"Pepper," I croaked. I crawled over to the rubble and began to tear at the pile. "Pepper!"

No response.

My nails began to bleed but I didn't give up. Larger chunks of rocks were harder to pull apart, but the smaller chunks were flung apart easily. The deeper I dug, the more disappointed I was. When I finally reached the bottom, all I found was a large blue worm, covered in protective rock-coating. I tried to pick it up, but to no avail. It was too heavy. Tears welled up in my eyes, until I realized...

"She eats a lot. She might evolve soon, Steph."

"Was this Pepper's evolved form?" I murmured absent-mindedly. It wouldn't matter, though, Pepper wasn't responding, yet I couldn't wrap my head around the fact she might be...

"Of course it is," Entei growled. He had shaken off the rubble over him as well. He stood above me threateningly.

Apparently, he wasn't finished.
 
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Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: None

Gore: None

Sexuality: None

Profanity: hell, if you count that as one.

Other: Emotional distress

----​


chapter IV; a challenge met

Ned

I spiked a volleyball absent-mindedly from wall to wall. The leather ball turned my hands and wrists red as I practiced what I remembered my sister doing before she melted away too. She was so good at all these sports. Mom loved her for it. She absolutely adored her 'little girl'. Couldn't say much for her son though, some days I really thought she wouldn't mind if I just ran away. Enough reminiscing, I convinced myself glumly. It's not that I didn't miss my family. It was just that some days, I really didn't know how to feel about them.

Sayo was still in a painful sleep. Gregory had found countless medical supplies in the PokéMart and brought them back obediently. He had stayed by Sayo's side, invisible, only appearing whenever Sayo would groan in pain, to administer more pain-killing cream to her legs. Besides the occasional cry of pain from Sayo, most of my day was waiting for Steph to come back.

Steph...

Every time I thought of her, guilt brought me down. I couldn't believe she just left. Then again, I couldn't believe I suggested it. I was just so... angry. Steph and I may have our differences, but it was important for us to keep together. Steph was foolhardy enough to go off on our own. I couldn't survive without her, and she couldn't survive without me. We had saved each other's lives already. I just knew we had to keep together.

"W-Water..." Gregory tapped feverishly on my shoulder. I turned around to see Sayo's eyes reeling back and forth - she was teetering on the edge of consciousness.

"Watch her," I told Gregory. After grabbing a pitcher from the kitchen, I ran outside to where I had positioned a barrel that Gregory had brought back. It was filled with crystal-clear rain-water from the storm. Natural rain would have probably carried contaminants, but as I suspected, this rain was caused by a legendary Pokémon. It was pure, good enough for drinking, especially since the taps weren't working. I filled the pitcher and brought it back to Sayo, who drank from it eagerly. Water spilled down her neck and drenched her dress again.

"Whoa," I chuckled nervously. "Careful there."

After Sayo had had her fill, she lay back and swept the hair from her face. Her lips were cracked and her face was covered in bruises, but there was a certain beauty in her face still. She squinted at Ned. "Jason?" She cried weakly. "Jason, is that you?" She reached up to touch Ned's face, and then shook her head sadly. "No, you're not Jason."

"N-No, I'm not," I stuttered. Damn, my stutter. Always pops up around girls. Haunter appeared at my side, waving frantically.

Sayo's eyes widened. At first, I was afraid she was fearful of ghosts, but suddenly she started to moan. "Estelle, Estelle!" I had no idea who Estelle was.

"Uhh," I blinked. I literally was speechless. Was she afraid, or did she want something else? Suddenly, she reached for my hand. Upon making contact, I blushed - stupid, stupid! - and she looked up at me.

"My Espeon," she whined. Tears fell from her eyes and soaked her dress even more. Of course - Kimono Girls always stayed close to their Eevee evolutions. They lived their lives beside them as eternal partners. Gregory hadn't seen any other Pokemon - if he had, I'm sure he would have told me. "Estelle, my Espeon. Where is she?"

"I-I don't know," I fumbled for the right words to say. Immediately, Sayo burst into tears, crying and screaming for Estelle. I looked at Gregory and he melted away, leaving me to deal with this. Thanks, buddy, I thought angrily.

There was a knock at the door, slow and drawn-out. Gregory reappeared, and like the wonderful host he was, opened the door. Standing there was a small purple cat with a ruby on its forehead, and two tails stemming from one. It mewed, and brushed up against my legs before hoping besides Sayo. Sayo hugged the cat and began to cry even harder.

At a loss for words, I just stood there before Sayo tried to stand. "Whoa," I rushed to her side and convinced her to sit down. "There's, uh, something we need to talk about." I waited until Sayo regained her composure - which involved constantly stroking Estelle, more water, and a blanket, before I tried to tell her what had happened to her.

"I don't believe I know your name," Sayo said calmly. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, but her voice was gorgeously tranquil and her body was still and peaceful. "I'm sorry for how I acted. I just don't feel the same without Estelle."

I looked sideways as Gregory began to brew tea at the fire I had set up earlier for Steph. He was helpful, but hearing Sayo talk about Estelle made me think. Could I live without Gregory? I had always had him. As a boy, whenever I was made fun of at school, I go to the forest outside Ecruteak, and Gregory was always there. I relied on Gregory for all those painful years. My heart stirred as I realized it. Sayo and I had the same bond towards our Pokemon. No wonder she was so upset that her Espeon was gone.

Sayo coughed. "Oh, sorry," I laughed nervously, knocked out of my trance. "My name is Ned Conway, and this is Gregory." Gregory left the fire and extended a ghostly hand to Sayo. She laughed - it echoed like wind chimes in the small, silent room - and accepted it graciously.

"Gregory, what a charming man!" She turned to Ned and beamed at him as well. "And Ned, his partner. What a delightful duo."

I laughed with her, and despite my face turning red, she seemed to accept my company. "Yes, well," I reminded myself. "Uh, well, my friend Steph and I found you underneath the collapsed theatre. I'm sorry to tell you this, but..." I swallowed. How did you effectively tell someone they wouldn't be able to use their legs for the rest of their life, after being a dancer? Sayo looked at me eagerly. It seemed even worse now that I was going to break her heart. She has to know, I reminded myself. Right. She has to know. "Your legs were crushed underneath the ruins." The blood drained from her face. I took a breath to steady myself. "I-I'm not a doctor, but it doesn't look like you'll be able to use them anymore."

She sighed despairingly, but managed to force a smile. Eerily, she patted Estelle who looked up at her with joy. "I wondered why I could not move them. It seems what you're saying is true. It's okay though," She beamed. I couldn't tell if the smile was forced or not. "It is what Arceus has willed for me, just another trial for me to overcome."

Arceus. The name of the great Pokemon god, said to have created the four major regions of the world - Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh - and beyond. It was easier to believe in its existence before the world had blown to pieces. Why would a benevolent god, whose duty it was to protect the world, destroy it? I sighed. "I'm sorry. I know you were a dancer, but-"

"But perhaps it was not meant to be," She nodded. "You saved me, though, and for that, I must thank you. I would bow, if I could." Sayo giggled, and her Espeon bobbed up and down. "I don't wish to burden you, but... where are you heading next? Surely you can't stand in the ruins of Ecruteak..."

"No, I can't. Truthfully, I was waiting for my friend Steph to come back, but..." she doesn't look like she'll ever be coming back. True, the storm had stopped, but that was several hours ago and Steph hadn't come back yet.

"She hasn't returned." Sayo nodded. "I understand. How long has it been?"

"A couple hours."

She laid her hand on mine. "Have faith. I'm sure she is near." Was Sayo psychic? A knock on the door came after her words. Gregory obediently opened it again, but couldn't shut it after what burst in after that.

The giant fire dog I described to Steph only hours ago was now standing in my living room. It gazed upon Sayo and I with contempt. Steph, I thought instantly. "What did you do to her?" I found myself whispering. Even I was surprised with the venom in my voice.

"He didn't do anything," Steph replied, and vaulted off Entei's back. The beast stood at least three heads above her. "Close your mouth, Ned, you look dumbfounded."

I was dumbfounded. Steph, riding Entei, my living room. Not a lot of time to process this information. Sayo was sitting calmly with Estelle in her lap, gazing up at the legendary Pokemon with a grin. "Hello there, Entei."

Entei followed the voice to see Sayo, said nothing, but bowed his head. "Humans," He boomed. "I have brought you your leader. Now you must complete my request."

"W-What?" I looked to Steph.

Steph nodded. Her face switched from light-hearted to serious. "That's right, Entei, tell them what you told me."

Afterwards, after Gregory had brought the tea to the three of us and we had all settled down on the couch, Entei paced back and forth before he found a suitable spot to rest. Pepper was at Steph's feet - and changed! I almost cried in happiness when I saw it had evolved. I knew that it would, and the fact that it had reassured me that I would be a good Pokemon professor. Or rather, I would have been, if the world hadn't, you know, died.

Entei started off when all of us were ready. "My brethren and I have been sleeping in the basement of what you humans call the Burned Tower for centuries, at the request of our Mother." He cast a look out the window. "She rests at the top of the Tin Tower, and almost never leaves unless there is danger. However, there was a strange sound coming from the south that drove her to insanity. She fled after listening to the noise for several days. No matter where she went, the noise followed her. Eventually, she grew so exhausted because she could not sleep, and woke us.

"When we were awoken, she commanded us to drown the world within our storms in order to destroy the noise. We sent days of rainfall and thunder, but the noise kept going. Finally, she commanded me to siege the earth with meteors and bathe the people in fire. It was not my wish to do so, but I obeyed. Still, the noise persisted. After weeks of being exposed to this noise, my Mother lost her composure, and began to destroy the world around us. We chased after her and attempted to stop her, but as we drew closer to the noise, we, too were affected by it.

"It... controlled us. We became bent on destroying everything. It wasn't long before all of us had ruined Johto, but still, the noise persisted. When your leader Steph, knocked me from my state by bringing me close to death, I no longer heard the noise. I have not found any humans besides yourself, but your leader's courage has been proven. I have chosen your leader as the human who will save my Mother, and therefore the rest of the world, from her wrath."

Sayo and I turned to Steph, whose chest was puffed out with pride. I didn't know how Steph had done it, but I wouldn't accept her own word for it. Entei was convinced - and so was Sayo. I could see the girl grinning at her, obviously impressed. "Uhm," I spoke up. "How exactly is Steph going to do this?"

Entei turned to her. Steph answered, "Either find the source of the noise, or destroy Ho-Oh."

Destroy a legendary creature, or find some inconspicuous noise that seems to be bothering legendary Pokémon. Such choices. "Why is it that you can only hear this?"

Entei did not answer. I supposed that meant that he didn't know. Steph stood now, and Pepper the Pupitar rocked back and forth on the ground. "It doesn't matter. We know why Johto is destroyed. We know how to prevent it, so why don't we?"

I had a bad feeling about this. My memories about Will and Rosette crept into my mind. "Do you think the Avengers could have something to do with this?"

Steph nodded confidently. "No doubt. They seem rather cult-ish. I have a good feeling we'll find some clues to this noise if we seek them out."

"Sounds good to me," Sayo agreed. "But, my legs..." She looked hopefully up at Entei. "I have heard legends of your trio being able to heal. Is it true?"

Entei cast his crimson gaze on Sayo. "It is true," He growled. "yet it is not I who may heal. My power is of fire, and fire may only heal through destruction. You may be speaking of my brother Suicune, but he is under the spell of our Mother. He will only attack you, should you see him. You may talk to him if you can knock him out of the trance like you did with me, or you can destroy the source of the noise and I am sure he will return to normal."

Sayo looked at me, pleadingly. "We can't leave her here, Steph." I said quietly. I didn't want to get in another argument with her, but after I helped Sayo I couldn't leave her.

Entei rose. "I believe I may be able to help." Without warning, he roared, something so ferocious and so powerful I had to cover my ears. Minutes past in silence before rapid footsteps could be heard from within the town, and a large, tiger-striped orange dog came bounding through, panting heavily. It was a head shorter than Entei, but still large in its own respect.

"Arcanine," I identified quickly.

Entei nodded. "A most loyal servant. Arcanine, will you serve me in carrying this girl around?" The large dog barked happily, and lay down in front of Sayo. She giggled, and I helped her onto its back. She seemed to fit perfectly, and adored its soft fur. Estelle fit neatly behind her, and didn't seem to bother the Arcanine either.

"Are you set?" Entei said as we all piled out of the house. Steph looked around, and noticed that Pepper was struggling to follow. Without legs, she could only vent pressurized gas that was kept within her. It was good for giving her a couple meters of distance, but it took time for her to recharge. Noticing this, Entei said, "I believe you humans have designed a ball to capture Pokemon and carry them around with ease."

"A pokéball," I nodded. "I have some upstairs, I think. If not, the Mart always carries some."

Entei looked off into the distance. "I thank you, humans. You have restored my faith in your race. Should you require my advice, please burn these gems. I will speak to you through the flames." Entei rubbed against the wall and broke off a piece of his face mask. Steph picked it up. "Simply snap off a piece and feed it to the flames."

"Thank you," Steph replied, her eyes glittering with excitement.

"Do not fail me," Entei answered.

"We won't," Steph met his eyes with a challenge.

This was going to be one hell of a journey.
 
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bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
I really like this fic thus far, have to say. The post-apocalyptic setting is portrayed rather well (I like the constant reminds of it through description of the setting and seeing the thoughts of the characters as well, such as thoughts back to their deceased families). And as Maze said it's interesting how there was initially no clear reason behind the destruction...and now we know the cause as well - I quite like this twist on the Ho-Oh and legendary beasts relationship - a legendary Pokemon going mad because of a sound which may not even exist is quite a different take on things, and an intriguing one in itself.

I quite like the characters as well - Steph and Ned (who btw made for an interesting character to have a POV in the last chapter) are well established and I quite like their personalities, although at times the simplicity of Pepper win out for me. XD I wonder how being a Pupitar will change things for Pepper now...

To celebrate the evolution, have a bunch of quotes!
Anyone who was there could tell you - the sky rained fire. - and nothing else.
Random thought - I'm unsure if the full stop after fire is actually necessary - seems it isn't so much to me..
They could tell you the sky was blood red and the sun was crimson from all its burning fury.
Methinks it should be blood-red. But again quite liked the description, particularly in the opening part.
My name is Stephanie Storm, I am 15 years old and I used to be a student, but I suppose now I'm just a survivor.
Might be better to make a new sentence and make the comma into a full stop - otherwise it's a bit of a run-on sentence.
The houses were half destroyed; roofs had caved in, ashes had flown into the wind, various furniture had been dragged out in my effort to find survivors and anything useful, and bricks lay scattered amongst the dried yellow and black grasses. The fire had burned the houses, while the wind had swept away fences and signs and left them impaled in several things such as neighboring houses, to corpses. I had gotten rid of the dead bodies as soon as I could. The smell, however, still lingered.

The infamous lighthouse managed to survive, although the creaking drove me mad. The flawless ivory-coloured bricks had been singed and were now a mix of gray and pure black. The light flickered and sometimes rotated in a circle, only to stop and return to being stationary. The antenna, however, had snapped right off, and I had found it along the beaches and I had a habit of carrying it around like a weapon nowadays.

The water was turbulent and the waves on the beach seemed to reach up with desperate fingers and pull in whatever object they could into the relentless tide.
Watch for starting sentence with the same word/structure too often - in these two paragraphs-and-a-bit nearly all of them started with 'The __' Mix it up more for as-is it reads like a point-form list of events somewhat like this.

"Steph!" She cried. I had taught her words such as 'hungry', 'thirsty', 'tired', and 'Steph' so she would know how to communicate with me. Pepper was such a fast learner. Cute, too. "Hungry." She echoed.
To be honest I quite like this idea of teaching one's Pokemon how to speak - cute as mentioned and seems quite realistic as well.

With dialogue, quite often you made the consistent mistake of starting a new sentence right afterwards when it doesn't fit in - e.g. '"Steph!" She cried.' However the sentence 'She cried', or 'She said', etc doesn't work as a sentence by itself in this situation, and so it must link up with the dialogue, the two parts treated as one sentence. Hence, change it to this:
"Steph!" she cried. I had taught her words such as 'hungry', 'thirsty', 'tired', and 'Steph' so she would know how to communicate with me. Pepper was such a fast learner. Cute, too. "Hungry," she echoed.
i.e. uncapitalise 'she' and change the full stop after 'Hungry' to a comma- basically treat as one sentence while ignoring the quotation marks. Of course, if the part following the dialogue can stand on its own as a independent sentence, start a new sentence right after the dialogue and end the dialogue with a full stop before the quotation mark (unless you use something like a question mark or the such already). I'll be listing the other instances of this for ease's and maybe explanation's sake.
"Any survivors, ya think? Ya didn't find any in Ecruteak either, did ya?" A male voice, thick with a foreign accent that Steph didn't recognize.

"No," A female voice, cold and distant.

"Shut up, if ya value yer life," The man Will said.
For instance here, change the comma after 'No' to a full stop, and The to the.
"P-Please, don't hurt me. I-I have nothing you want!" He whined loudly.
Small 'h' there as 'he whined loudly' is in reference to the dialogue (but you _could_ leave it as-is if say he said his dialogue and then whined, potentially, but it doesn't quite work as well that way. =/)
"Thank you," He whispered breathlessly.
uncapitalise.
"Not you," He snickered.
uncapitalise.
"I'm Steph." I said softly.
Change to a comma.
"I don't," She replied glumly.
uncapitalise.
I never actually had a Pokémon before Pepper, and I never really considered her mine either. I never asked Pepper to follow me; she just did.
I do feel this was established the previous chapter, the fact she didn't feel it was hers...:
I had never once thought that she was mine, per se, like how some people called themselves trainers and raised Pokémon to fight in glorious competitions.
So maybe consider removing this part in chapter two then as you've already established this fact.
I felt bad whenever Ned stuttered. It made him sound more pathetic that he actually was. Ned and I had departed Olivine when the morning came, heading for Ecruteak City. The destruction had seemingly increased along the way. The fire had scorched the trees and rendered them completely useless. The farm that used to stand at the halfway point between Olivine and Ecruteak had burned to the ground. The Milktank had disappeared, and we didn't find any bodies of either the Pokémon or the owners inside.
than over that, and again watch for starting sentences with 'The' too often. Also Miltank, rather than Milktank.
Pepper rummaged through the empty barn, and found an untouched crate of Moo-Moo milk and corn meant for the Pokémon. Ned and I found the corn to be bitter and unsatisfying, but at least we didn't leave on an empty stomach. The Moo-Moo milk was refreshing and Pepper seemed to love it, which was all the comfort I needed.
I believe the game name is actually Moomoo milk, but a pretty minor point and no point hating on hyphens. ;P
"...so then I said to him, that's no Pikachu, that's my wife." A large man said.
Change to comma and uncapitalise (...that's my wife," a large man said.). And...amusing joke? XD
Pepper bristled at my side. "Fruit!" She screeched, running forwards and suddenly chomped on the large man's leg. He shrieked in anguish and flailed his leg.
A moment of awesome for Pepper here. XDDD Fun to imagine this. Also shrink that S to an s.
"Okay, okay!" The younger one said.
Small 't' there.
Might mean she's ready to move on." Ned answered.
Change to a comma. I also like how Steph hopes that when she evolves she won't get heavier. XD Come the third evolution...
Pepper suddenly lunged from my side. "Hungry!" She screamed, launching herself into the chest of Entei.
Pepper's a pretty cool Pokemon. Eh says she's hungry and ain't afraid of Entei. XD Another cool moment there - but change that She to a she.
Couldn't say much for her son though, some days I really thought she wouldn't mind if I just ran away.
Suggest changing the comma to a hyphen on semi-colon.
"Jason?" She cried weakly.
"I wondered why I could not move them. It seems what you're saying is true. It's okay though," She beamed.
Same dealy as before.

Overall I rally like this story so far - your writing style is entertaining and the story gets more intriguing each chapter. I believe I'll be keeping an eye on this - well done thus far and good luck with the rest - keep it up!
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
character sheet; ned

Name: Ned Conway

Age: 17

Physical Description: "The boy was a tad chubby. A mop of curly auburn hair on his head fell to the very edges of his thick brow. He constantly adjusted his thick rimmed glasses with pudgy fingers. His clothes were dirty and stained with food remnants." (ch1)

Ned is sloppy. He rarely shaves, trims his hair, or cares about what he wears. As such, he tends to be a bit over-zealous with people and disregards his appearance. Ned likes to wear baggy clothing that sometimes accentuates his chubbiness and doesn't seem to know what colours go well together and which ones don't.

Family: He had a sister two years his junior, who was into sports like volleyball and didn't like Pokémon that much. His mother was far too interested in her daughter to care adequately for Ned. His father died when he was very young due to unknown causes. His father was in a coma for six months with terrible nightmares before passing away in his sleep.

Friends: Ned's only friend was his Haunter Gregory who he had known for years, but now that he has embarked on his journey, his friends are Steph, Sayo, and the rest of the group. Ned had little friends in school and rarely would he talk to anyone.

Pokémon: Ned's only Pokémon is Gregory, his Haunter. Gregory tends to be a bit of a jokester and loves finding random objects and giving them to his friends. He is silent, says nothing, and will tend to fade into invisibility if you say something to hurt his feelings.

Hometown: Ned's hometown had been Ecruteak for his entire life, and he had never left it, even to shop or anything. He left the travelling to his mother and sister, who were avid travelers. Being at home all the time allowed him to become an avid cleaner and caretaker.

Personality: Ned is horribly shy, tends to stutter, and dislikes social and public interactions. He always does what he believes his right, but he often lacks the courage to pursue his goals. He cares for those who are close to him and would do whatever he can to keep them both alive and interested in being his friend.

Beliefs: Ned believes strongly in "doing the right thing" - even if it isn't the popular opinion. He also believes in helping out others for the sole purpose of just doing it for good, rarely accepts gifts for his good deeds.

Influences/Heroes: Ned doesn't have any heroes, although he does admire Gregory's constant indifference to fear.

Strengths: Ned means well and he does his best to do everything right. In this, a morality that not many people have comes to light, and he can search for the true, "good" answer in every situation.

Weaknesses: Ned has a physical weakness, as well as an emotional weakness for anyone in trouble. He is very susceptible to betrayal and traps.
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
@bobandbill; Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into the editing. :) i'll be sure to fix this as soon as I can.
 

maxelle

Shadow Stalker
This is a very interesting story. I like how the characters just meet up and decide they are going to figure it out. I'm glad you gave them personality and it gives the reader a sense that they are going to be proactive. Those first four chapters were really interesting. Can't wait to read more.
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: A man is hit with a tail of a Pokemon, becomes disorientated.

Gore: None

Sexuality: None

Profanity: None

Other: A girl becomes emotionally distressed at the loss of her family.

----​

chapter V; a gift of power


Jason

If they found me before I found them, I was dead.

The only thing I could hear was my own breathing. The trees provided the most cover in the city of Goldenrod, but seeing as there was only one every two blocks, there was hardly enough room to run. The whole city was a warzone now. One false move could get you in the Avenger's jail, or worse. Death would seem to be the easy way out, but I had to survive. I had to warn someone. I had to get out of the city, maybe the country, before they found me.

I placed a hand over the one of the two pokéballs fastened to the utility belt holding up my cargo pants. My sports jacket was soaked to the bone with water from the relentless rain. My white t-shirt was practically see-through and held no purpose. Through the thick branches and my blonde hair sticking to my face, it was nearly impossible to see. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I missed the signal, I was dead. If I went too early, I was dead.

There! The flare launched up into the gray clouded sky. Instantly, the golf-ball sized pokéball in my hand grew to the size of an orange in my hand. With a crimson burst of light, a bright orange dragon roared and began its flight. Without a moment to waste, I leapt onto its back. "Go!" I roared above the thunder and gunfire. Charizard pushed off of the trees, and with blinding speed, soared through the battle zone.

Shots came left and right, whizzing above, below, behind and in front of us; everywhere but directly on its target. I only dared to breathe - I knew the torrent of rain was hard on Charizard, but both of us knew we had to keep pushing - push or die. We flew among the main road in a zig-zag pattern in order to try and dodge the bullets.

One had hit its mark - my left ankle. The pain seared up my leg like wildfire, and I bit my lip in order to stop from screaming. Charizard was doing wonderfully - an orange blur amidst a city of ruins and a bleak gray sky. Only a bit farther and we would be free of Goldenrod forever.

Suddenly, the torrent of rain became an icy waterfall. Gasping in fear, I whipped around to see two enormous, cobalt flying lizards. Gyarados, I recognized, and cursed silently. Beams of water were pouring down on us in a constant shower. At this rate, Charizard's water weakness would be exposed and I would lose my wings - followed by my head.

I closed my eyes. "Charizard, veer left. We need to deal with these guys the moment we exit Goldenrod." If I was right, the only reason they sent the Gyarados was to try and get us to fight them within the city limits. That way, they're snipers could pick us off with ease. Charizard followed my orders without objection, and I was forced to hold on for my life as Charizard whipped around.

"Give them everything you've got!" I screamed above the rising noise. Charizard found the first Gyarados and bathed the giant water snake in flames. The attack seemed ineffective, but by the time that Gyarados turned around to meet it face-to-face, Charizard had already charged its fists with lightning and plowed into its open mouth. The snake plummeted to the earth below, and with a sickening crunch, became immobile. "One to go."

The second one was smarter and kept at a distance, berating Charizard with blasts of ice and water. Lithe and agile, Charizard danced around them and attempted to get closer. A sudden burst of ice from the Gyarados was met with a blast of fire, and the two were cancelled out. Charizard's claws raked the belly of the Gyarados, but its rampant, blunt tail smacked me directly in the face.

Instantly, my head snapped back from the force and my arms flew up as I was knocked from Charizard's back. The ground and the sky blurred together, creating a dangerous horizon. For moments, I couldn't tell if I was falling up or down. My eyes watered as I tried to get a good sense of my being. I could taste blood in my mouth and my vision was blurry. The wind whistled in my ears and the ground was rushing towards me. Unable to scream, I braced myself for death, but found myself snatched away in the arms of my lovable ginger beast. I hastily climbed back on its back, and both of us entered the fray yet again.

We didn't have time to waste. Charizard played defensive and let Gyarados get on the offensive. The moment Gyarados leapt forwards to try and snap at Charizard, he rushed forwards to meet it, again with a fist imbued with the electric magic. Gyarados roared in pain and fell, joining its partner.

I didn't know when more would follow, and wasn't really intent on finding out, so I kicked Charizard's sides and we sped off again.

By the time I felt it was safe enough to descend, the forest was thick and my head was throbbing. The forest would provide perfect cover, but my head - my ankle - my injuries as a whole - were uncertain. I could feel my head become foggy and I became drowsy. Charizard landed and I rolled underneath the cover of the foliage.

My head was pounding. I rolled it back and forth, and to my horror I realized my jaw was looser than I thought it was, and my tongue was much shorter than I had last checked. Blood filled my mouth. I panicked, and turned to Charizard, who was watching over our spot like a stone sentinel. My words came out sluggish and slow, and Charizard didn't even seem to hear over the roaring storm. Perhaps I ought to wait for the storm to finish. Maybe I'll take a nap. It didn't occur to me that might be a bad idea.

----​

Steph

It took a couple days to get ready. One last trip to Olivine in order to say goodbye, one last scavenge through Ecruteak for supplies, and one final check of everything else. While in Olivine, I figured I'd check the one place I had originally refused to check - the local Pokémon Gym.

"Why didn't you check this place before?" Ned asked me casually, ignorant at usual. "It's probably got loads of stuff in it."

"Don't take anything," I warned him sternly. If anyone was going to take anything, it would be me. "There's a reason I didn't go here before."

"What was that?" Ned persisted, clearly interested.

I sighed. There was no use keeping secrets from these people. It wasn't a dangerous secret anyway, in fact there was no use keeping it anymore. "My dad was the second gym leader to own this gym. He died here."

"I'm sorry," Ned murmured, but I ignored him. There was no time left for sentimentality. There was only time to move forward. I pushed the steel doors open and marched through the long, narrow hallway. The ruby carpet that used to be flawless from challengers footprints was torn and tossed across the room. No longer did the flames burn gallantly on the torches placed even distance from each other. Only defeat lingered in this hallway; the aura alone made me shiver. Before, when I had entered here, there was a challenge in the only man that could adequately present one - my father.

He was strong, both in physical terms and emotional. I was often told that we were shaped from the same stone. Challengers who came and failed, whether they ended their journey here altogether or persevered over the Steel-Gym after perfecting their method, all left their mark here. Whether it was the worn handprints on the door, or the scratches on the walls for the many battles, it was plain that this was a place of honor.

I would usually find my father sitting on his steel throne. He'd have that coy smirk; chin resting on his left hand, with his right firmly attached to a pokéball at his side. "Stephanie," he'd whisper to me. "My little girl." I'd rush to his arms and the world would be alright again. No matter who came, it would always be my father - my father and his Pokémon - to protect us.

And now...

I turned away from the empty throne. A pain rose in my throat. Tears. Get a hold of yourself, I hissed. Not here.

When I turned to face the group again, Ned was looking at the inscriptions on the wall brought in from Ecruteak. I could remember the day that those came in; it was shortly after my father had been named Gym Leader, following his mentor Jasmine to the "throne". The west gym wall had been destroyed in a battle where a man's Salamance had torn down the wall in a blazing fury. To pay tribute to his hometown, my father brought in old inscriptions from the ruins of the Burned Tower in Ecruteak. True to his word, my father promised that the gym walls would never fall again. They didn't.

Sayo, however, was looking at me intently, sympathetically from atop her tiger-beast Arcanine. I had to look away in order to keep from bursting into tears. I couldn't have these people undermining me. Plus, there were things to do.

I tore myself away from the nostalgic throne and entered the "off-limits" door, which led into my father's study. Portraits of old Pokémon lined the walls, painted decoratively and framed in gold; an old oak desk with a ruby-velvet chair behind it stood untouched from destruction in the back. I moved towards it suddenly, compelled by the smell of the aged wood. I remembered it. So well, so well.

His notes were still here. Analyzing the recent trends in pokemon trainers, their starters, what they came to challenge him with, good movements and strategies he saw, how so-and-so could improve their etiquette and challenge routines, as well as notes on his own pokemon, his own training routines, what they faced on what date - it was all here. I knew my father was always a dedicated man, but this blew me out of the water. Everything was so detailed - neatly labeled, organizated, factual evidence from sources, well-known Professor's research notes...

Of course, there was one other thing on my father's desk that shattered my concentration in that moment.

A picture of us. It was a summer day, out on the coasts of Olivine. In the distance you can see ships pulled into the Olivine Harbour, the bright blue sky and the cobalt ocean. My father is in his swimsuit, and his well-trained muscles are evident. I'm on his back - I must be six in this picture - smiling away with crooked teeth, tugging at my father's cheeks in order to get him to smile too. His smile never showed in his mouth, but rather in his eyes, and the way his pale blue eyes are twinkling, I can tell that's when he was his happiest.

I had this picture framed for his 50th birthday. Messily scribbled on the frame is a quick "I love you, Daddy" from yours truly. Tears fell from my eyes onto the floor, soaking his research notes and hitting the floor in soft patters. I uttered no noise but the shaking of my body was uncontrollable like a phone on vibrate. I bit my thumb but I still can't stop from shaking. That's when I noticed that the desk seemed to vibrate at my emotion too - I didn't pay any attention to it until the floor seemed to shake, and so I opened up the main drawer.

Inside it, it was completely empty except a small, ping-pong sized pokéball and a sealed letter. 'Steph.' I picked it up cautiously and examined it back and front - it was sealed with the Gym Leader's Badge sign - his was a plain, solid steel rock. I removed it and began to read.

Steph,

I do not know when you will receive this letter, but when you do, you will know that I am no longer with you.

You have meant so much to me over our years and I could not bear to see anything happen to you, but there is only so much a father can do. Wherever you go, please know that you have both your parents love and pride with you.

This is all that I can give you. May it help you in the road ahead.

Love,
Your Daddy.


That's when I lost it.

Without thinking in my sorrow, I flung the pokéball across the room. Upon smacking on the stone walls, it opened up and a red flash emitted from the ball. Too bright to focus, I could only huddle in a tiny ball as the shelves of books and lamps around me crashed to the ground in a thunderous roar.

Sayo and Ned rushed into the room and gasped. When I finally opened my eyes, the only thing I could see were the high boulders of steel enclosing me from my friends. I rushed to the exit but saw there was no way to reconnect with my friends. Just then, it occurred to me, whatever this thing was, it came from the pokéball. So then...

I readjusted my view and saw that the series of boulders were truly huge. They overlapped and got smaller as they cascaded downwards, and larger as they returned to the head. I slowly peeled my head around and realized what exactly my father had given me.

A thirty-foot, pure steel snake weighing approximately 880 pounds.

My father had given me his prized Pokémon - his champion Steelix.​
 
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bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
Another good chapter here - and a new character! I liked the action-packed scene for Jason, although he seemed to have suffered a heck of a lot and still continued for a rather long time conscious, I thought... being shot and then bing attacked by a Gyarados strikes me as something that should have killed him then and there, but I can still buy what happened here - just seems a touch much is all. Certainly very dramatic though, and I liked the atmosphere of the chapter.

But what I really liked was the scene with Steph looking through her father's things in the gym - there I thought you nailed it in the emotion department. You did a good job showing her thoughts and feelings with that part, and I liked how she broke down from reading the message from the grave, so to speak. =p And a Steelix - I suppose that'll come in real handy later on. XD The description of the gym interior was also quite enjoyable to read, I feel.
I only dared to breathe - I knew the torrent of rain was hard on Charizard, but both of us knew we had to keep pushing - push or die.
I feel 'push or die' would work better as its own sentence, or you could alternatively drop the 'push' - but a suggestion and it works fine as-is too.
That way, they're snipers could pick us off with ease.
their
I had this picture framed for his 50th birthday.
fifteth over 50the, as generally one writes out numbers less than 100.

Nice work - keep it up!
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
Another good chapter here - and a new character! I liked the action-packed scene for Jason, although he seemed to have suffered a heck of a lot and still continued for a rather long time conscious, I thought... being shot and then bing attacked by a Gyarados strikes me as something that should have killed him then and there, but I can still buy what happened here - just seems a touch much is all. Certainly very dramatic though, and I liked the atmosphere of the chapter.

But what I really liked was the scene with Steph looking through her father's things in the gym - there I thought you nailed it in the emotion department. You did a good job showing her thoughts and feelings with that part, and I liked how she broke down from reading the message from the grave, so to speak. =p And a Steelix - I suppose that'll come in real handy later on. XD The description of the gym interior was also quite enjoyable to read, I feel.
I feel 'push or die' would work better as its own sentence, or you could alternatively drop the 'push' - but a suggestion and it works fine as-is too.
their
fifteth over 50the, as generally one writes out numbers less than 100.

Nice work - keep it up!

Thanks for the review - and Jason's pain tolerance will be explained later on, there's a twist with it, don't worry. :)
 

Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: none

Gore: none

Sexuality: none

Profanity: none

Other: none

----​

chapter VI; jason's history lesson


Steph

Along the road to Goldenrod, we saw another injured refugee. Like I expected, Sayo and Ned refused to advance forwards until we had addressed his wounds. I would have complained, but I needed time to fiddle with the radio - since being on the road, I had raised a couple of questions that needed to be answered.

Ned set up camp - Sayo began to address the stranger's wounds - I grabbed the radio and let Pepper and my new Steelix - who I've decided to name Gray - out of their pokéballs for a while. Time to start fiddling.

I had an inkling feeling that despite the old radio that I could reach stations other than Goldenrod. While it was the most powerful broadcasting station for miles upon miles, if there was even a faintest trace from Hoenn or Kanto, it would serve. I needed to know if Ho-Oh had reached there or not - if the destruction had spread that far.

Static was evident through the first 100 channels. From there, there was a station of silence around FM 104.5, and then there was a hiccup - a channel of silence - on channel FM 106.4, and then it returned to static. I turned the dial back to the silent channel, boosted the volume, and just like I thought - there was the faintest chatter. Despite the volume being on high blast, there was only the quietest talk coming from it, and it was choppy, but it was still broadcasting. I pressed my ear up to the radio and listened.

"Today on Good Morning Kanto! We have special guest Professor Oak who is here to discuss his thoughts on Pokémon Evolution. Good morning, Prof. Oak."

"Good morning, Cynthia."
"

The chatter continued. The host and the professor laughed calmly and began to delve into his research methods and findings. It made me want to cry. They weren't even slightly concerned about the state of Johto. I continued to listen to the program, partially because I was on the edge of tears from frustration, and partially because I really had nothing else to do.

Finally, the program switched. "We bring you this urgent update from the frontlines..." Frontlines? I thought. This might be interesting.

"Day 23 of rescue efforts have gone absolutely nowhere. The turbulent storms have proven treacherous as any aircraft and Pokemon wanting to cross have been stalled or struck by ferocious lightning. The sea is still much too turbulent to cross and officials are still having difficulty salvaging a path through the Tohjo Falls after the recent explosion on the opposite side. Things are looking grim as military officials say that they are still searching for a way to pass into the region.

When asked the possibility of reaching Johto soon, military advisor Trevor Vandermere had this to say. "Nature seems to be against us here, uh, the sea is far too dangerous to cross on boats... all the ships we've sent over have returned with injured and dead crewmembers, or not returned at all, we've seen airplanes and sky Pokémon shot down by the lightning and unable to pass due to turbulence... the last explosion from the Tohjo Falls had buried over half of the volunteers and injured another half of the available workers... we've tried to go through to Mt. Silver but the Pokemon there are too dangerous to set up a working camp to get things running... things aren't looking good."
"

I sighed, turned off the radio, and buried my face in my palms. At least they were trying. The way they described the fact that the storms and the sea were causing trouble for the rescue efforts probably inferred that Raikou and Suicune were blocking them from getting in. There were a lot of things I still didn't understand.

"Hey, Steph," Ned came calling for me. Pepper raised her head and blinked. I was really beginning to miss the vibrant and vocal Pepper I once knew. She wasn't able to talk after her transformation. "Dinner's ready, and our friend is up."

Friend. He meant the new straggler, of course. The new child we had to babysit. Grudgingly, I got up and left the radio. Pepper bounced after me. Sitting around the fire was Sayo, eagerly chatting away with the new kid, Estelle, Gregory, and Ned, who was handing out the cooked chili in plastic bowls. The place became tense when I walked in.

"Hello," I said nervously to the boy. He couldn't be more than eighteen, but he was pretty good looking - short, blonde hair, faux-hawk style, stunning blue eyes, smooth face - his eyes were a bit red, his ankle and his head were wrapped up, and his nose looked like it had been swelling but had calmed down some. Bruises littered his body and face and made his skin a collage of purples and yellows. He smiled despite this.

"Hello. Steph, I take it?" He rose courteously and extended a hand. "You're the leader, then? Thank you for rescuing me."

I took and shook his hand. He had a firm handshake - something my father would have liked - and a nice smile. I merely nodded with a lack of anything to say. Really, what could I have said? I didn't want to stop, I thought you were another dead body, but my companions made me? Maybe you better be useful is better. A quick glance at his belt told me he had one Pokémon. I sighed. Together, all four of us made an army of four Pokémon. We needed more. More Pokémon... and stronger ones too.

"You're welcome," I finally responded, with a forced smile. He returned with his own smile, charming, and yet sympathetic.

"I don't mean to be a burden. I've got a Pokémon of my own, I'd like to contribute." He pulled out a small pokéball, and opened it, releasing a bright red light. The light pooled in the ground and formed into a shadow of a massive dragon. Instantly, the light dissolved and was replaced by an amber-orange lizard - Charizard. It yawned precociously and blinked in the early morning light.

Ned couldn't hide his curiosity. "No way!" he squealed, examining the dragon from every angle. "Charizard are incredibly rare. You must have been really lucky to see one in the wild!"

Just like Ned couldn't hide his curiosity, Jason couldn't hide his pride. "Charizard was given to me; we've been partners for almost my entire life now." Ned gasped in amazement. While the Charizard and Ned gazed at each other in interest (and suspicion, in Charizard's case), Sayo, Jason and I began to talk about the road ahead.

"We were planning to head to Goldenrod," I explained to Jason, and was promptly greeted with a frown.

"Not a good idea. Goldenrod has been turned into a warzone. Have you heard of the group the Avengers?" he responded adamantly.

Sayo and I glanced at each other quickly, and then slowly explained to him Entei's mission and what we knew - or what we didn't - about the Avengers. Jason nodded slowly, glanced back at his Charizard, and then sighed.

"Alright. Well, I'll tell you what I know." He seemed to hesitate at first, and then he began to explain. "The Avengers were started about twenty years ago by a man named Dante Bryant. At the same time, the former Tin Tower became known as the Burned Tower. Within it, three Pokémon perished, and one young lady also perished, but that was never published for one reason: nobody knew of the three Pokémon, and undiscovered Pokémon scared the public. Recently, with the discovery of Pokémon like Steelix, and Tyranitar..." Jason took a moment to look at me - I had to look away. "...they seemed to be gaining more and more strength, and we as humans have begun to realize that we can no longer control them."

Jason stood for a moment, approaching Gray and holding out his hand. The Steelix groaned as it moved forth, and gradually rested its enormous head on the ground so Jason could touch it. "If a Pokémon as quiet and gentle as a Steelix could be turned into a massive war machine, the world as we know it would be destroyed - possibly within a matter of seconds. There are still Pokémon in places we have never been to, and they could be stronger than the ones we have come across." Jason threw me a chilling look. "Imagine a Pokémon stronger than your giant steel snake, able to tear him apart without a second thought? And all this time, it was hiding in the basement of an ancient tower you thought was safe, just sleeping there.

"Kate Bryant - Dante's wife - was an investigative journalist. She had been investigating the validity of Pokémon myths and legends for over a year. She followed a lead from an unknown source that led her to that basement. Just then, the fire of the beast enveloped the tower and Kate as well as those three Pokémon, perished." Jason paused for a minute. His eyes grew dark. "The three Pokémon were revived by the legendary bird you know as the Mother - Ho-Oh. Later, the three became identified as Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Kate, however, was not revived.

"Dante went mad with rage - the government refused to admit that any Pokémon died in that fire. In fact, they refused to admit that anyone died in that fire - they refused to believe that anything was there to begin with. Only a select few know this story."

"So," Sayo peeped up. "Dante was angry that his wife's death was never admitted? Why was that bad? Surely he could've gotten over it."

Jason shook his head. "Partially, he was angry because of that, no doubt, but the real reason he was angry is because later the government recognized the existence of the legendary Pokémon, and denied that they knew about it before. One look into Kate's research would have told you otherwise. They had found these Pokémon thirty years before Kate found them. More digging and Dante found that the government had sent Kate the information about the Pokémon in the basement - and set up the trap, as well."

"That's awful," Sayo whispered, downcast.

"Indeed. Dante saw the world against him, and acted only in defense of his own sanity. By recruiting others who were already suspicious, and then strong-arming others, he created one of the most feared underground gangs in Johto history."

I scoffed. "In defense of his own sanity? You have to be kidding me. He sounds psycho. There's no way you can defend him. Look at what he's done to Johto now!"

Jason sighed and returned to the fire pit. Ned and Charizard had also joined us. "True enough. More people don't even know about his methods. He does seem a bit... careless as of late."

"You talk about him like you know him," Ned added.

"I don't," Jason was quick to reply. "My father was a detective. He knew more than anyone on the Avengers."

Ned adjusted himself and pondered about it a while. "So, what is Dante trying to do? What's his ultimate goal in throwing everyone out of Johto?"

"By proving he can overthrow the government," Jason folded his arms and grew serious. Charizard became a silent sentry, hovering over Jason. "he becomes a threat to every nation. Every day, his army grows, and it shows no signs of stopping. Honestly, it's only a matter of weeks before you are all strong armed into joining as well."

"I'll never join him," I spat.

"You may not have a choice," Jason retorted sadly. There was a pang of pain in his voice - something obviously happened to him. Jason's ties with the Avengers must be much deeper than he's letting on. I decided at that moment I might as well bring it up later.

"Okay, so, we don't go to Goldenrod then," Ned scratched his head. "If we don't go to Goldenrod, then... where?"

"Honestly, make your way towards Kanto. Just get out of here as fast as you can. There's no hope for anyone left here." He massaged the bridge of his nose.

I stood. That was enough of that. "We have a mission, and I promised Entei I wouldn't leave until I finished." I found my hands curling into fists. Gray and Pepper became agitated at my anger, and both of them began to growl. Jason, however, only smirked, which made me even angrier. "What are you laughing at?"

He waved his hands. "Nothing. You just reminded me of someone. Alright, well, if you refuse to leave, then what do you still have to complete for Entei? You have to find Ho-Oh, but she's under Dante's control and he won't let her get near anyone, or his plan is over."

I looked to the south. Dark, menacing clouds were gathering over Violet City. If anything, that's where we needed to go. "We still have two legendary dogs to find - we've got some storm chasing to do."
 
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Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

WARNING: high violent situations and frequent drug addiction mentioned. Read at your own discretion

RATING

Violence: a man is wrestled to the ground and choked, implied that someone will be assassinated, a hostage situation, a man is punched

Gore: a man is shot through his palm

Sexuality: none

Profanity: 2 s-words, 1 f-word

Other: drug addiction is mentioned and portrayed

----​


chapter VII; right back where we started


Dante

Executive Jason Meyer had been missing for at least two days. The reports listed that he had left during his lunch hour break, awaited the flare signal, and used the ensuing madness of employees returning to their positions in order to break. It created enough confusion that he could slip by most of the sentries without resistance. One sniper reported he hit the target in the ankle as it escaped, but that meant nothing to me. Jason was incredibly resilient - for reasons our scientists could not grasp, his skin regeneration rate was through the roof. There's a high chance that he shrugged that bullet off without a second thought. The Gyarados sentries also reported knocking him from his Charizard, but that's also not important.

The only important fact you can take from this was that he escaped, and now he's gone. Jason must have disabled his tracker as well; no reports of his location had come in. He could be anywhere - Kanto, Hoenn, even Sinnoh by now. I pounded my fist on my desk in frustration. Executive Meyer was one of our best, and he had outsmarted all of us and left. Maybe he was only 18; maybe he was a little emotionally flustered; maybe he had trouble firing a gun; maybe he had a little hesitation in killing civilians. Yet, he always got the job done; he always reported to me first; he never strayed beyond the limits - what made him leave? Perhaps he saw through it all. Maybe he was one of the ones with the ability to pierce through the illusion I had set up. Either way, he must be killed.

I pushed the call button on my desk, twiddling my fingers absentmindedly. There was much to do today, why not start off with this?

"Yes, Mr. Bryant?" the secretary responded, trying to sound as chipper as possible. Ms. O'Malley was an admirable individual, however, she didn't seem to function well knowing that her brother's death could have been prevented had she not put up such a resistance to the Avengers.

"Tell Executive Wilson to meet me in my office as soon as it behooves him, 'behooves', of course, being as soon as possible." I cut the call without receiving confirmation. Clearly, she'd tell him, or risk losing her job, possibly her life.

Executive Daren Wilson was always a bit skittish - he hated my office, the drab, beige walls and the fluorescent lights; the fake plants that gave off an odd plastic smell; the portraits of the directors that had long occupied this office - a reminder that it was the Avengers that overtook the radio tower truly, thwarting Team Rocket's attempts years ago. Perhaps Wilson hated my desk the most, the flawless oak wood with the sleek black monitor of the computer and the modern keyboard. Whatever Wilson hated, he let everyone know it by twitching fantastically every time he entered the room. He was a strong soldier, loyal, yet he had issues with killing just like Executive Meyer did, and perhaps that's why they constantly hung around each other.

Executive Wilson showed up not ten minutes after I sent the call, and he found me adjusting my Rubik's cube. "You called, sir?"

"I did call, yes, Wilson, please, have a seat," I gestured to the chair in front of my desk, and so I stood when he found comfort in the chair. I took moments to study Wilson. He was twitching like he usually did in my office - perhaps due to my presence, since I never saw him calm and relaxed - and his blonde hair was rather messy today.

There was always a rumor going around that Executive Wilson had somehow gotten into the drug ring that was "available" in the junction. He was a particular fan of stimulants - cocaine, caffeine, the amphetamines - he had the scabs on the arm, the constant twitching to prove it. Normally, I wouldn't keep such an incompetent person around, but he was a splendid battler. Together, with his Electivire, they could mow down any resistance, and that's exactly what I needed.

"Did you want to--" Daren started off, but I interrupted quickly.

"Daren, you were friends with Executive Jason Meyer, were you not?"

"Y-Yes, yes sir, Meyer and I were f-friends, good friends, s-sir," he stuttered uncontrollably. Under pressure, his eyes darted everywhere but my face; he twiddled his thumbs; he stuttered and began to shake. How pathetic.

"Then you are aware that Executive Meyer has recently escaped the complex, disabled his tracker, and is nowhere to be found?"

Daren bit his lip and seemed reluctant to admit it, but nodded rapidly after he decided not to hide it. "Y-Yes, yes, Jason is m-my friend, he tells me e-everything."

"Everything, huh?" I approached him slowly, and his eyes seemed to sink lower - his twiddling became faster. "Did he tell you exactly how he managed to disable his tracker, Daren?"

Hesitation, the guilty man's respite. "N-No sir, no sir he did not t-tell me."

I grabbed Executive Wilson by the collar of his shirt and knocked him to the ground. He began to writhe, squealing like a pig, but didn't have the strength to pry his arms from underneath my legs. "Listen, Wilson, you little ****, I hired you to design those trackers to be absolutely flawless, you hear me?" I shook him and he released a cry of shock and surprise. "I know it was you that destroyed that tracker for him - nobody else knew how, except maybe the creator - YOU!"

"NO!" Wilson sobbed, banging his head back against the ground and trying unsuccessfully to get free of my grip. "I-I had no choice, he th-threatened to take the pills away, I couldn't, I-I had to! P-please, f-f-f-f..." He couldn't stop sobbing enough to say what he wanted to. It didn't matter. I needed Wilson more than I let on. I shoved him onto the ground and got up, leaving him to curl into a ball and continue to bawl.

"Get up, you disgust me," I snarled, returning to my desk. He scrambled up slowly, shivering and twitching like he just came out from the cold, but stood at attention for me. "Listen to me. This is your last chance." Wilson nodded rapidly. I could tell him anything now, and he'd go to it. Rather than gloat in my power over this man, I decided to cut to the chase. "Find Jason. Find what he's doing. If he's with rebels, kill him. Don't let him escape. I don't care what you have to do - guilt him, scream at him, drag him back here, or slit his throat, just do it. If I can't have him, nobody will."

"Y-y-y-yes y-ye-yes sir," Wilson stammered, slinking towards the exit, holding his throat

"And for ****s sake," I growled quietly, mainly to myself. "Do something about your addiction."

----​

Steph

According to Sayo, whenever Entei was awake, sunny skies would appear in the area he was. Rain and high winds for Suicune, and full-out storms for Raikou. In the ruins of Violet City there wasn't a massive storm like there was before, so that could've meant that either Raikou was gone, or he was sleeping. Most of us (especially Ned) hoped it would be the former, but it was a high chance of being the latter.

"Look," Sayo gasped. "The Bell Tower!"

The magnificent tower that used to stand tall and waver in the wind was completely dilapidated. The building lay in pieces in one neat circle, and an inner circle of lightning strike-like burn marks was also present. This had to be it - the place where Raikou must have lay at some point between the apocalypse and now. It proved that Raikou wasn't here, but it also proved that it would come back at some point.

"Well, I suppose we can wait it out," Jason murmured, folding his arms. He didn't seem happy that the confrontation wasn't immediate. He seemed driven and willing to accomplish his goals no matter the cost. Well, at least Pepper had taken a liking to him.

Sayo steered Arcanine to a suitable campground within the edges of the circle. Well protected by the trees, it could absorb the smoke we gave off from the campfire and prevent anyone from noticing we were there. Ned and Gregory got started with the dinner - no surprise, beans and stale bread again - and Sayo began to brush Arcanine's hair while Estelle sat on its back and slept soundly. Jason was on the outskirts of the camp, chattering away with Charizard. I released Pepper from her pokéball, but I decided to keep Gray inside his - a giant steel snake seemed easy to spot from above, and we were trying our best to prevent that.

I decided to approach him - I needed time to adjust to the four of us. I knew Ned was capable, and Sayo was proving herself, but Jason... I just didn't trust him yet. I wanted to. He was... captivating, I'll admit, but the mystery surrounding him was too great to ignore. I just had to know, in order to trust him.

Charizard took off the moment he saw me coming. Jason turned back to head towards the camp, and seemed startled that I was approaching him. "Steph," he commented loudly. "Sorry, I just sent Charizard to scout for oncoming enemies. Is that okay? I should have asked. My apologies."

I raised an eyebrow. His manners were certainly adept. I somehow wished my father was here beside me, he would have been more impressed than I was. Pepper bounced up and down at my side "That's fine; I just wanted to talk to you for a minute before dinner."

"No problem. Hey, mind if I ask something?" He smirked, like he already knew the answer. "You're father was Richard Storm, right? Steel gym leader in Olivine City?" When I nodded, he only smiled more. "I knew I recognized that Steelix from somewhere." He pulled out the plain silver hexagonal badge of Olivine City. "I fought him. One of the best I've ever battled."

"You... fought my father?" Somehow, I was surprised. Surprised that he had made it that far. Surprised he beat him. Almost no one beat my father. I accepted the badge when Jason gave it to me, glancing over it. On the back, the motto gleamed in the evening light, but I didn't need light to know the motto. "Steel is impenetrable," I echoed. A new welt of pain appeared in my heart.

"Steel may be impenetrable, but it can melt. Truly, nothing is the ultimate defense," he said sadly. "Please, by all means. Keep it."

"But-"

Jason chuckled solemnly. "I think you need it more than I do. Badges don't mean anything here, seeing as the gyms have burned along with the rest." He shook his head. "But no matter. You said you wanted to talk?"

I accepted the badge graciously. It was actually a much more personal gift than I could have thought - both Gray and this badge meant I was still close to my father. "Y-Yes," I stuttered, when he returned back to the subject. Oh, what was I saying again? I lost myself in his gift. The smooth steel badge felt good against my skin again. Right, right, the Avengers. Keep it together, girl, just for a while more. "You were talking about the Avengers yesterday, I had some concerns."

"Please, share."

His intense gaze was overpowering. I felt my face getting red. Dammit. "Well, you just know them so well, it's--"

"Suspicious, I know," he finished off, sighing. "Like I told you, my father was a detective. The Avengers were his life, before he... well, you know."

"I know that, but you seemed to follow him so closely. You knew his work like you conducted it yourself," I found my confidence again. Pepper rocked back and forth, as if to nod her head. "Normally, isn't a detective's work supposed to be private?"

"Normally," he agreed, "but I've always wanted to follow his footsteps and become a detective as well. Sometimes a father cracks when his son seems so interested," Jason shrugged sheepishly. "I knew the information would come in handy one day."

It seemed convincing enough, but I knew that it was probably more than that. I decided not to pursue it anymore. Jason seemed as attached to his father as I was to mine. Wounds that we were busy trying to seal had no business being reopened. Maybe it was because my pain was still so fresh that I decided to let Jason go that day. Maybe it was just because I was on the verge of tears. "Okay," I smiled. "I just wanted to know."

"Heh," Jason smirked, and walked by me as Ned called us for dinner. "You're your father's daughter, you know?"

I could only smile in return.

----​

Jason

Charizard returned just before dinner and claimed he saw nothing. It would be around midnight before I knew he was wrong.

Ch-click. "Don't m-move."

Instantly, I opened my eyes. I expected to see the cold steel shaft of the gun in front of me, but it was beside Steph's instead. The night was deadly quiet; perhaps I was the only one who had heard this. I thanked Dante for the training I received - I could catch this intruder so long as he thought I was asleep. I watched as Steph's silhouette climbed out of her sleeping bag and stood. The gunman's hands were shaking profusely and he appeared to be gripping the gun with two hands - a sign of weakness and a lack of confidence. The light was dim enough that I could open my eyes all the way and it wouldn't be noticeable to the attacker.

Steph's bond with her Pokemon was close - at that instant, the groan of Steelix and Pepper's rocking became incessant. Charizard opened his mouth to yawn, releasing a roaring that shocked the gunman. He fired off a shot in Charizard's direction.

Just as I guessed, Charizard had been awake and watching as well. He released a belch of fire that illuminated the dwindling campfire and immediately jumped back. "C-C-Control your beast or the girl dies!" I leapt to my feet and settled Charizard down before calming both a confused Ned and an alarmed Sayo down as well.

Wilson. Dammit, Dante! I cursed myself for being careless. Of course, Dante would have sent someone after me, and only Wilson can recognize my Charizard from miles away. He must've seen him scouting and followed him back to the campsite. Sayo's scream knocked me back into reality. I've got to save Steph.

Steph, who was remaining incredibly calm for having a gun to her head, barely struggled despite the gunman's constant shaking. "Wilson," I slowly rose, and he switched the gun from her head to mine. "Don't do anything rash."

"D-D-Don't move!" He was sweating profusely - he'd probably just taken a hit before he came here. His arm was locked around Steph's neck and squeezed any time someone made a movement. "I-I'll shoot, I swear!"

"No, you won't, Wilson, because you came here for someone else, right?" I slowly took a step towards him. I'd seen him like this before - completely paranoid, fearful of anything with two arms - he could be coerced into putting the gun down, I knew it better than anyone. "Who did you come here for, Wilson?"

"D-D-Don't call me that, he calls me that, I hate him, I hate him..." His eyes bulged from his sockets. He must be talking about Dante. By the looks of it, he came straight from Goldenrod. He was still wearing the dark gray suit, red tie and red armband of the Executives.

"You're right, Daren. I'm sorry. But Daren, who did you really come for?"

"I came for you, I came for you, I came for you," he shuddered. I immediately felt all the gazes come towards me, and for the first time I felt ashamed. Of course, I should have told them. I would have risked escaping alone, but at least they would have known and I wouldn't have been in this situation to begin with.

"Right, you came for me. So why are you holding her hostage, Daren? She isn't the one you want, not her, not at all. It's me. So let's put the gun down," I explained slowly and cautiously, taking easy steps forward. "Let's just talk, okay?"

"NO!" He screeched, making Sayo jump and hug Arcanine's forearms. The sudden scream made all the Pokémon nervous. "No, we don't talk, you got me in a l-lot of trouble, you made him s-scream at me, beat me s-senseless, I n-never should have disabled that tracker, but you made me, you threatened me, just like you're doing now!"

His grip on Steph's neck grew tighter, and this time she gasped in surprise. ****. Got to calm him down. "Daren, it's okay. I know what he can be like. Trust me."

"No, the last time I trusted you, he yelled at me, he screamed, he threatened to take it away," The gun returned to Steph's head, Daren's finger hovering dangerously on the trigger. "I'll never let you near me again. You come with me, or I shoot the girl."

"Don't be stupid, Daren," I hissed, horrified. In that instant, Gregory appeared behind Daren and covered his eyes. The seconds of confusion and terror that occurred was long enough for me to vault over the campfire and wrestle the gun before it went off into Steph's skull. Daren let her go and Steph fell to the ground, coughing wildly.

In the next instance, it was nothing but chaos. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins, and my surroundings became blurred. Daren shot the gun, and the bullet flew through the palm of my hand and exited into the night sky. Pain only added to the adrenaline rush and I was able to knock the gun away. I looked up fast enough to see electricity brimming over Daren's Electivire's fist just before he punched in.

"Gray!" Steph shrieked, and the Steelix moved in front of me. The electric punch dissolved over the steel snake's body and was grounded. Gray roared and immediately head butted the Electivire into the forest. Instantly, shadows poured from the resulting trees and tackled me from Daren. Face down into the dirt, I was unable to see my companions become incapacitated as well. The clicking of guns was all over the place. Someone had their hand over my head, pushing hard into the ground. My nose was still sore from a week ago and pain flared up as it was driven into the ground.

"G-Game over, Jason," Daren sneered as I was handcuffed and raised up. The pokemon had vanished - most likely called back - and Sayo and Ned were coerced into dropping their resistance. Steph put up a hell of a fight trying to reach Pepper, and either couldn't hear me screaming for her to stop, or was ignoring me completely. Eventually, she was forced to the ground, still shrieking for her Pupitar as it was wrestled into submission.

"Please," I sputtered. Steph's scream was unbearable. I'd do anything I could to get her to stop. "Give her her Pupitar back."

"No can do, pal-y," Another familiar face came out of the trees. Another executive, dressed in the Exec garb, black leather gloves and smoking a cigarette, bald and a big smile plastered on his face. Scars littered his head. He was a small man but had a huge ego, never was a friend of mine but he was competitive enough that I remembered his name.

"Alex, please, this is madness--"

"Aww, ya remembered my name, didja? Just fer that, sweetcheeks, I'll make sure ya get a good cell back home, where ya belong, ya know, provided ya don't lose ya head," he laughed uncontrollably. "Ah, ya kill me, Alex, ya really do. Anyway, ship 'em off, I don't wanna see them anymore. To Goldenrod boys!" He whipped his hand around and a few minions picked up the unconscious rebels and began to move them.

Alex turned back to me and grinned maniacally. "Y'know, I never really did pay ya back fer leavin' us." He bent down to my height and tapped my cheek. "Boss got real mad, ya know? You were his fav, Jason, his fav Exec, and ya never even said goodbye to the rest of us. Breaks a brother's heart. Boss had plans for ya, ya know? He wanted ya to go stand guard at Tohjo for a while, wreck some civvies away with yer best friend Charizard. But, ya gave it all up, ya know? Ya gave up yer life too. What a shame." He shook his head and frowned. "Funniest of all, ya thought you could get away. Well, Jason, take it from me, take it from yer crazy friend Daren, take it from anyone ya want - ya mess with Dante, ya mess with the rest of us."

He punched me solidly in the face then. I wish he had been strong enough to knock me out. The helicopter ride back to Goldenrod was unbearable. Somehow the laughter of my ex-comrades made me infuriated. I'll get out of this somehow. I have to.
 
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Torlen

aka Thanatos
----

RATING

Violence: a man is beaten

Gore: none

Sexuality: none

Profanity: swearing is implied

Other: none

----​


chapter VIII; separated


Ned

I swore that the moment I got out of this cell, I'd pledge myself forever to ghost Pokémon.

Truly, Gregory was the kindest soul I'd ever met - and the smartest. Within the first day of being here, he'd appear to sneak me food from the kitchens, and on the second day, found me the key to my cell. It took him three more to find a spare uniform I could use, and two more after that to gain enough energy back to create an illusion of my sleeping form. A week later, we were ready to roll.

In the dark of night, when only the moonlight shone through the glass ceiling above, I changed my clothes into the black and red Avengers uniform. Gregory set up my original clothes to look as though I had been sleeping on the cold stone floor. Together, the two of us unlocked the cage, and walked down the hallway like nothing had happened.

First order of business, since I had no Pokémon to look for (Gregory was already with me, despite the fact the Avengers assumed I had no Pokémon), was to find Sayo, Jason or Steph. Sayo was my main priority since she had no legs to escape with, Steph second, and Jason last, since he failed to protect himself as well as us well enough to prevent this whole thing from happening. The first day I was here, I was ready to leave without him, but then I realized he was probably going to die with the rest of us.

Most of the cells were empty, which was odd considering there were rows and rows of them. Were they expecting a greater resistance? Or, I gulped, had they already dealt with their prisoners? In that case, the rest of them could already be... No, don't think about that. They're still alive, and it's up to you to save them. Right. Me. The constant screw-up.

The jail wasn't that complex - it was designed with lines of cells facing a center aisle, all created of rusty iron bars and the cold stone from the earth it was made from. Each cell was small in size, but tall to make up for that. The ceiling was made entirely of thin glass that let both the moonlight and the cold night air through.

"Gregory, go see if you can find any of them in the upper cells. I'll check the bottom ones." He nodded slowly and floated upwards, while I began to walk slowly through the hallways. Nobody was in the cells near my row, so I continued to the next one. As I turned the corner, though, I came face-to-face with another guard.

"Whoa!" he exclaimed, and picked up the empty bowls he was carrying. "Sorry, buddy, I was just on kitchen duty. What are you up to?"

"I-I..." I paused, my heart being rapidly. "I was looking for a prisoner... Boss told me to pick them up."

"Ah," the man sighed. "It's their time, eh? What one are you looking for?"

I pretended to sound confused. "Sayo? Steph? Jason? Something like that."

"Oh, the kids," he mumbled, and shook his head. "I saw Sayo, you know, before this region went down the tubes. Talented dancer. Too bad she lost her legs. Now her life too, I guess. Oh well. Okay," the man twiddled his thumbs, trying to remember. "Sayo is block A, bottom row, second from the stairs. Steph and Jason aren't here, though, I think the boss already took them. You sure he asked for them?"

I shook my head. "Maybe not. Sorry. I just got transferred here."

"Hah, I feel your pain dude. Alright, well, good luck. I'll see you around, eh?" Without a second glance back, the man left for the exit.

It took me a couple moments to catch my breath and slow my heartbeat down before I went again. Gregory reappeared at my side in that instant. "Hey, did you hear that?" When he nodded, I grinned. "You see her down there then?" Gregory began to float off in her direction of Sayo's cell, and I followed quickly.

Sayo was in bad shape - her threadbare clothes hung loosely off her shoulders, and she was backed into the corner, shivering. She flinched at me first, but recognized Gregory. "Ned!" she cried, and tried her best to scramble over to me. I placed a finger over my lips, and carefully unlocked the door. "How'd you get that uniform? How'd you escape?" she whispered, deathly quiet. "Oh Arceus, where are Steph and Jason?"

"I don't know. They're not here, apparently. Do you know where Estelle or Arcanine might be?" It was easy not having to worry about where Gregory was, but for everyone else's Pokémon, that was another story.

She shook her head sadly. "Oh, Ned, I have absolutely no idea. We have to find them. They could be anywhere! And for Steph and Jason... where could they be? Do you think they're already...?"

"No, we can't think like that," I frowned, although the two of us were clearly thinking along the same lines. "I'm sure they're somewhere. We've got the liberty to walk around. At least, I do," I said sheepishly.

"Okay. Maybe you should look around for a bit? I'll wait here for you." She smiled confidently, but I wasn't as willing to just leave her.

"Uhh, maybe I should take you with me. I don't like leaving you here. If I come back and you're gone, I'd have to look for you too. Not that that would bother me, it's just... what if they killed you while I was gone?"

"If they were going to kill me, I think they would have done that a long time ago," Sayo disagreed. "I'll be fine. Trust me."

"Can you just come with me? It will make me feel better. I'll carry you, until we find Arcanine."

Sayo groaned, but accepted her defeat. "I guess if I have to. You're the one that has to put up with all the dead weight, though," she giggled, and grabbed onto my shoulders when I bent down. She was surprisingly light - I suppose she lost a lot of weight like I did over the past week.

"Just pretend you're knocked out if we find someone, alright? Things will go easier that way."

"Alright," she smiled. "Let's go get them."

----​

Steph

The intense glare of the candles surrounding me woke me up at first. My head was pounding; my pulse was low and weak; completely disorientated - where was I? Is it someone's birthday? Not mine, I hope. Dad always embarrasses me... maybe I'll get my first Pokémon today...

Wait. I have a Pokémon. Pepper. Pepper. Where is she? Where am I?

My vision was clearing up, and the dim light cast by the candles was making it oh-so-much easier. I was alarmed at first to find that my arms couldn't move - waking up in a foreign place made me thought that someone had sawed them off, until I realized it was only because I was tied to a chair. Finally, my vision came into focus and I could see I was just sitting, tied to a chair in some room. It was too dim to notice anything of importance, so I figured my first line of duty was to get myself out of the chair.

I struggled with the ropes a bit before they seemed to come loose. The ones on my legs were easy as soon as I got my hands free. At the instant I stretched from the chair, however, a voice boomed over a loudspeaker.

Tell me, Ms. Storm, at what temperature does steel melt?

"What the..." I searched for the speaker but found none. The floor began to shake and the wall behind me rose. Instantly, a blast of heat sent me to my knees. It was overpowering - every inch of my body began to sweat to try and fight off the intense heat. Approaching the wall made me realize it was a huge drop into a furnace of open flames hungrily gulping down a maze of ruined steel.

Your Pokémon are hidden somewhere within this maze. Spend too long looking for them, and you'll die. Get out too early, and you won't be able to return, and your Pokémon will slowly melt away.

"You..." I was shocked. "You sick *******! How could you?"

Best hurry, Ms. Storm. You don't have a lot of time.

----​

Jason

My rather short sleep was plagued with nightmares. Dante's face kept reappearing, constantly haunting my lucid dreams. I felt sluggish when I woke up. Nothing beats waking up with a bad headache.

"Morning, Executive Meyer."

Well, maybe waking up with your old, psychotic boss standing threateningly in front of you is great too. I looked up through a swelling eye. Hand? Throbbing, barely healing. Nose? Painful. Legs, arms? Tied to a chair. Escape? Looking grim. Dante looked as fanatical as always; a smooth, power-tripping grin on his face told the whole story.

"Morning, Dante," I responded weakly. Whap! A smack across the face. I gasped in pain. Blood welled up in my mouth. "...Mr. Bryant," I corrected myself.

"That's much better," he laughed quietly. "Well, Jason, whatever am I going to do with you? You know better than anyone what happens to little puppies when they run away, don't you?"

He bent low, face only inches from mine. His breath smelled like nicotine; a sickening rotten smell, pouring out of his mouth like spilt milk from a glass. I coughed, and Dante saw fit to hit me again. Reeling now, teetering on the edge of consciousness, I did nothing as a trickle of blood appeared out the corner of my mouth.

"Listen to me for a while, will you?" Dante asked. No, he didn't ask. He commanded. "It's like this, Jason. I have some dogs. Puppies, if you will. Those who are loyal enough, courageous enough, those who have proven themselves, they themselves become dogs. Big, devoted, reliable, dependable, loyal dogs. Do you know what happens then, Jason?"

"No, sir," I sputtered.

"Of course you do, Jason, you're living my very tale." Whap! "These dogs become so superior in their own minds, they think they can run around and bully the other puppies, they think they can stick their noses in whatever they please, get into any substance they think they can, they even think they can jump the fence and run. Well, do you know what happens to dogs when they try and run, Jason?"

"Yes sir. They die."

"Good boy." He petted me condescendingly on the head. Had I not been in such a compromising situation, I would have hit him right back. "Listen, Jason. A friend of yours. Brown hair, nice looking girl, braces--"

"Steph," I sat up. "What'd you do to the rest of them?"

"In due time, my little puppy," he smiled sadistically. "She had this notion that somehow, her steel soul could save her from anything life threw at her. Well, Jason, do you know what I did? Do you know what I did?"

I could only glare in response.

"I threw her in a pit of fire, Jason."

"You fuc--"

Whap!

"And you know what I'm going to do to you?" He snarled viciously, grabbing my jaw. "I'll throw you in a pool, since you seem to think that your fire can save you. Go on, find your fire lizard, and escape if you can." The floor beneath me gave away in that instant, dousing me in a vat of water.

Adrenaline took over. The movement of the water around me, the closing gate above me, and the rush of the cold water flowing into the vat slowed tremendously. Despite the water burning my eyes, I managed to get a good look around. Steel walls enclosed the vat, with no obvious weak point or dent. The room was flawless. Time to get to work.

Struggling wildly, the ropes on my legs came loose the more I kicked. I softened the landing and stood, snapping the back of the wooden chair, and then wiggling out of the ropes that followed. It was only a matter of seconds to make it to the top of the water. The moment I brushed the surface, I realized the ceiling was only about a meter above me. "Not much time to waste."

The whole room was just a very giant rectangle. Who knows how and why Dante set up rooms like this, and who else had died here. I dived deeper and deeper, scouting the bottom. So far, nothing. The more trips I made to the surface, the higher the water climbed. Only inches from the surface, and tons of room left to cover. Charizard could be anywhere.

I took a deep breath - one that could possibly be my last - and dived.

----​

Steph

Within the heart of the flames were two, untouched, unburned, flawless crimson pokéballs. Burned all over, I crept towards the two, nesting amongst the embers like eggs, and opened Gray's pokéball. The casing split open and Gray emerged, knocking weakened debris from all around us. Gray's heavy tail covered any debris from hitting me, and then he immediately turned to me, eyes narrowed.

"Exit," I wheezed, snapping Pepper's pokéball to my waistband. "Find a way out of here."

I clutched one of Gray's steel spikes as he slithered along the maze. The smoke was building up without a proper ventilation port, and creating very dangerous gases mixed in with the sterling flames. Gray moved gracefully despite being at least as high as a three-storey building, and finally found a wall.

Gray groaned loudly and deposited me at the side of the wall, banging his head against it. I knocked in certain places, waiting for the hollow sound. Pressing my ear against the wall, I could hear it...

The faintest sound of pouring water...

"Here," I coughed, and pointed to the wall. Gray nodded readily and I stood back, crouching low to the ground in order to avoid the smoke.

An intense screeching sound of steel meeting steel rang out into the room. The roar of the flames accompanied with Gray bashing his head against the wall didn't make me feel any better. The heat was closing in and the flames licking hungrily at anything they could find. I put my hand over Pepper's pokéball and felt the pulsating of a healthy Pokémon within. Please, just let this be over soon.

VSHT! A giant hole unleashed a tidal fury upon the burning room. Instantaneously, flames disappeared and the embers hissed in retaliation. The water seemed scalding hot on my burns and I tried to back away but soon found there was no where to go. Neither Gray nor I could fight the oncoming wave, so we waited patiently for the waves to stop.

When it didn't seem the flow would ever cease, Gray ripped a bigger hole in the side to get more water pouring. I had to climb on top of his head in order to escape the oncoming flow. Eventually, the water evened out, so I returned Gray to his pokéball and swam through, despite the intense pain.

I broke through the top and saw the pipe dumping water into the enclosure. A quick scan told me that this room was almost completely identical from the last. Suddenly, from behind me, a splash of something else breaking the surface rang out.

"Steph!" I turned, and saw Jason, gasping for breath, swimming towards me. I hesitated for a second - you realize it was his fault you're here, right Steph? I asked myself, but quickly ignored it, feeling the weight of the Olivine badge in my pocket. "You're safe? Thank Arceus."

"Where are we?" I asked tentatively.

"I have no idea, but Steph, you're burned--"

"I know," I hissed. "Listen, we don't have time for this. We need to find a way out."

Jason nodded, suddenly determined. "No, you're right. Sorry. I need to find Charizard before I can do anything. He's somewhere in here. Please, I can't leave here without him."

I thought of Pepper in that instant and suddenly couldn't say no. Next thing I know, I'm facing the rush of cold water and endless depths looking for a single golf ball sized pokéball. Every time that Jason and I dived, we could only find an empty bottom surrounded by and endless depth of despair.

I broke the surface. "Jason, I can't find it."

He sighed. His chin trembled as if he was going to cry. "No, I can't either. No sense looking, either. We're getting closer to the ceiling again." The two of us looked up at the ceiling and figured it was only about a couple meters away. I lifted up Gray's pokéball and showed it to Jason.

"He got me into this room, I'm sure he can get us out. Pick a wall, they must lead somewhere." Jason swam back and forth from corner to corner, testing out walls and what sound them gave off. Finally, after five minutes, he picked the westward wall. "This one." The poor guy still looked downcast - I remembered for an instant how proud he looked when Ned complimented his Charizard.

I placed a hand on his shoulder. "We'll find him. Ned and Sayo too." He looked away in response.

Gray roared and sunk fast to the bottom, but started to work immediately. Banging his head on the wall sent vibrations through the water. The two of us said nothing until we were dragged under by the torrent of water. Afraid, I grappled for something to grab onto to slow the intense pull, and instead found Jason's hand. I thought about letting go in that instant, but he didn't want to and I really didn't either. I made sure to return Gray to his ball before we were ushered into the next room.

We both splayed out over the floor, coughing and sputtering like crazy, getting up quickly and running in order to avoid the oncoming downpour. The hallway was thin and covered with crates and various cargo. Jason began to leap over the crates, dragging me along before I had time to clip Gray's ball back onto my belt. The water came rushing in after us, roaring in our ears and spraying salt at our backs.

"I know where we are now," Jason yelled over the howl of the waves. "We're in the prisoner cellars. If Ned and Sayo were here, they'd be in the bunkers. Let's go!"

We both rushed off. He didn't even bother to let go of my hand. I didn't really want him to either. Despite him almost killing us, he was the only one I had until we found Ned and Sayo. I didn't want to be alone again.
 
Last edited:

bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
And I reappear again! A rather eventful set of chapters here I have to admit. XD And certainly entertaining. I'll add that I find the reason behind Jason's durability against the Pokemon to be satisfactory now (although I do have other questions about how he came to be like this in full detail. =P And how they will continue on from here as well).

But really, you're doing rather well here - good character interaction - the only qualm I would mention is that it seemed a bit too much of Steph seemingly being attracted or forgiving of Jason for my liking - I see them as possible and believable, just that it seems to be repeated a tad much at times (namely when Steph is questioning Jason before the ambush, and in the last scene there). I quite like Ned's role in the last chapter as well, and how he got out with the help of his Pokemon, and I'm rather curious to where all the other Pokemon are...

I do wonder about Dante's (rather crazy, and I do like the idea of a psycho ruling over people who is called Dante, heh) plans with Steph and Jason by drowning them in fire/water - it seemed he underestimated Gary's power (or maybe didn't realise it was a Steelix that belonged to a gym leader before?) allowing them to get out easier than I expected... not sure if he would have done such an oversight, or if he's just mad enough for that to be a given. (Of course, there could be another trick/plan up his sleeve so this is merely speculation). Another minor complaint is that Steph seemed rather unaffected by her burns, and I'm not sure that even a lot of adrenaline would block out all of that - maybe showing some more reactions of pain from here would make it seem that much more real.

But bar those minor qualms this is still quite good - great description all round and plot as well. Another moment I quite liked was Steph accepting her father's badge - felt the emotion in that scene was well carried.
"Good morning Cynthia.""
As she's being addressed by her name by Oak (btw nice cameo there), a comma should precede her name methinks.
The reports listed that he had left during his lunch hour break, and awaited the flare signal to return to his post and ensuing madness of employees returning to their positions in order to break.
This read a bit awkwardly around 'return to his post...to their positions' - maybe reword it slightly so it's clearly that he waited for everyone else to rush back before escaping.
There was much to do to day, why not start off with this?
today as one word rather than two.
He was twitching like he usually did in my office - maybe my presence, since I never saw him calm and relaxed - and his blonde hair was rather messy today.
maybe consider adding a bit to change to '- maybe it was due to my presense, since...' just to clarify? Feels a bit that you're cutting minor corners with the wording there, although it seems all right as is anyway.
Rain and high winds for Suicune, and full out storms for Raikou.
full-out.
In that instantly, Gregory appeared behind Daren and covered his eyes
drop the y there.
He pet me condescendingly on the head.
petted
Neither Gray nor I could fight the oncoming wave, so we waited patiently for the waves to stop.
When it didn't seem the flow would ever cease, Gray ripped a bigger hole in the side to get more water pouring.
Hmm, maybe adding in a bit more to give more of a feel of endless waiting for the water to cease only for it to continue might be something to consider?

Good job, so keep it up - I'm eager to read more. =P
 
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