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LIVE-A-LIVE: Trial of the Cursed Town


Competitive Mijumaru

Magnolia, a quiet detective and Azu, an excitable young scientist, reach the peak of their love for one another. But even in the face of true happiness, all is not as it should be. Soon after the duo settle on their honeymoon, a strange request calls them to investigate a sacred dungeon.

Faced with a reality crueller than they could ever have imagined, they must become heroes through trials of hardship and adversity. Do not be daunted for them though - for they may know tragedy before triumph, and through their efforts, the Pokémon may once more know hope…


Prologue and Chapter 1: The Greatest Day of My Life
Chapter 2: The Emergency
Chapter 3: ARK
Chapter 4: Underworld
Chapter 5: Rapture
Chapter 6: Vine
Chapter 7: Soulstealer
Chapter 8: Anne
Chapter 9: Magnolia
Final Chapter: Heelvine
Epilogue: Fate


Contains the following themes:

-Foul language
-Adult references
-Depictions of blood and gore
-A Lopunny

At long last, my next fic begins. This'll be a shorter fanfic with much shorter chapters, but more of a miscellaneous story than a long adventure one. The story serves as a bit of an experiment for me, writing in different genres as well as attempting to draw all artwork myself, among other things.
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Competitive Mijumaru
The greatest day of my life

Ceremonial bells rung, confetti rained upon the crowds, cheers reverberated through the forest, and all in response to the success of a procedure I was inexplicably nervous about.

It was the most important day of my life, but the echo of praise and positive Pokémon all around me told me that I had done everything alright. Or at least, as alright as I was supposed to. The Pokémon in my arms didn’t seem to have a problem either, and was just as happy as I was. The important Pokémon said that I could kiss the bride, and when I did, that’s when the cheering started.

The concept of time died for me right there. I had no idea how long me and Azu kissed, but when we separated, I couldn’t tell what was in the background anymore. My eyes were fixated on this Azumarill and her perfect appearance. She had chosen for us not to go with any fancy dress, so she looked as any other Azumarill would. But to me she was perfect, her eyes glistening and fur smooth to the touch, like that of a well-pampered Wigglytuff.

She must have been worried that the lack of fancy dress would open herself up to getting dirty before the big ceremony, and made sure her fur was smoother and cleaner than usual or something. I couldn’t blame her – I was the same. Especially since Lopunny are known for their attractiveness, I made a really thorough point of making my fur shine this morning. I had an excess of it growing from my head, so it was even more important that I ensured that it was smooth, shiny, and neatly flowing behind me. It went alongside my ears and right down to my thighs in length, so that took all morning to sort out. Thank the almighty it paid off.

“Hey, Magnolia,” Azu said quietly. I made a sound, keeping my arms at her sides. “We’re celebrating with pie, tonight.”

“Carrots and seaweed pie?” I replied, smiling.

“Oh-ho, you bet,” she said, giggling back.

She quickly detached and reached for a bouquet to her right, and then tossed it overhead with as much effort as she could. The crowd of Pokémon went wild, some scrambling amongst themselves to try and catch it. It fell right into the hands of a Riolu who looked surprised and embarrassed about the sudden burst of attention. All the Pokémon were ones I hadn’t met before, but I knew their species.

Spotting some familiar faces amongst the crowd did calm my nerves a bit, though. A Shinx, my co-worker to be precise, was observing with a confident smirk on his face. He wasn’t paying attention to the procedures or the public around – he was looking out for me. It put a smile on my face, so I returned my focus to the important factors.

“Azu,” I said, getting her attention. She hushed me before I could continue.

“I know what you’re gonna say. Don’t say it unless you want me to laugh out loud,” she said, going half lidded.

“Oh? What was I going to say?” I did the same.

“You’re gonna go on a long, poetic, on-the-spot speech about how much you love me and how happy I’ve made you,” she said. I flinched a bit.

“Sorry, Azu honey. Embarrassment or not, that’s not going to stop me this time,” I said, scooping her up in my arms. She yelped and laughed, hugging me to make it easier. “I love you so much, Azu. And today, I’m happier than a Skitty in a playpen filled with yarn. I never thought my life would need anything to complete it, but then here you are, filling that jar to the brim and over!”

“Magnolia,” she whined, looking away and giggling. She blushed and looked back at me, kissing me again. “I love you too, Magnolia. So I’ll keep giving that happy Skitty their yarn.”

“Knew you’d play along. Not that I would’ve minded either way. But it means a lot that you took it this time.”

“Don’t get distracted now. We’re got an aisle to walk down.”

And so, the wedding festivities continued. I lost track of where I was besides the fact that Azu was there, and once our procedures were over, lost track of time in the celebrations, too. Our sappy little moments of love turned into drinks and merriment, and some hours later, a quiet evening back home in the local village.

The two of us were too tired to really do much when we got back, so I was surprised when I could still hear fireworks going off. When it comes to celebrating an event that’s got nothing to do with them, village Pokémon really don’t hold back with the partying, do they?

But as I lay back in the bed beside her, able to stroke her content, snoring figure, I knew that bubbling happiness within me wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. They say that the eggs of Chansey and Blissey are filled with happiness, and if that was true, then I could certainly see the lore behind it. My own little egg of happiness was right here, engaged to me. And from today onwards, she was just as happy to work with me as I was with her.

I stopped stroking her and pulled up the blanket so that it covered us both, having to flick my ears so that they both hung on the side opposite her. Once comfortable, I stared up through the glass pane on our ceiling as I waited for sleep to take me away. I could still hear outside where all the chatting and excitable playing was going on, though. I wouldn’t be sleeping with all that noise so clear in my head.

It was like this on the night I decided to talk to Azu, too. I could still feel how annoyed I was of my co-workers teasing me for being a Lopunny without a wife at the anniversary staff party. I stormed out of their little huddle of drinks and tobacco to go clear my head and watch the stars, where I found her laying on the grass, way ahead of me. We’d been loosely working together for years, but only then did we start to chat and get to know each other more personally.

Who would’ve thought that’d go as far as it had gone today? And I had no complaints, either. I was so happy with this that I could run out right now and show those villagers how to really throw a party.

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Competitive Mijumaru

The emergency

It’s been about a week since the wedding, but the feelings of its success were still buzzing in my mind. We’d gotten engaged, partied, slept well back at home, and then a day later, were off on a trip to our honeymoon location. It seemed like everyone in the village was equal parts happy and sad to see us leave, even if it was only a short vacation for us both.

Practically the whole village had come to see us off, exchanging heartfelt goodbyes and reminding me of the many times we had helped them all in the past. I had only ever dealt with simple detective work when it came to their affairs, such as figuring out who was stealing bread from a storeroom, or catching which kid messed up a vegetable garden. Azu hadn’t done much better, teaching Pokémon how to make scarves and other such simple technology. A simple village led simple lives, after all.

Still, it was a nice experience. Soon after we were alone in our coastal hut, Azu caught me off guard with a casual conversation. The conversation followed into something… more than I expected it.

And then several days later, when we were soon to return home…

“There. By tomorrow all the salt should be gone from the water,” I said, sighing from relief. “We’ll have plenty to drink for the next few days and the trip back. Heh, could argue that I’m a water type with how easy this was.”

“Look at you all proud of your work. Working so hard on a honeymoon; I ought to glue your ass to the couch if you keep this up,” Azu said, tapping me from behind.

“Not my fault. I didn’t know the river water here’d be salty. If I didn’t do this, we’d be out of a drink.”

“It’s a cottage by the sea. Of course it’s salty. C’mon, I told you how that works already,” she said, scratching her back. She walked over to the balcony, letting the buckets sit between us. She had to hop up to lean over the handrails, watching the sun set over the horizon. “Anyway, reason I’m here is, well, got an important announcement. Not that I’ve been bored or anything, but something exciting finally happened since we left on this little trip.”

“What happened? Will we have to fight?”

“Nope. Not that kind of excitement. It’s about that special little pie we cooked a couple nights ago.”

I cocked my head at her. “Pie? Wait, when did we cook a pie? Did you cook a pie without me?”

“Ssh, you silly-billy. Not that pie. Not that kind of pie,” she teased. “Though I won’t lie – I’ve been craving a carrot pie since that big one on the wedding day.”

“You’re losing me.”

“Okay- no. Not that kind of pie. You know, I’m talking about that kind of pie we made. At night. That one in bed.”

“I’m even more confused? How can you cook a pie in bed?”

“Oh. My gods. And you’re supposed to be a Lopunny,” she giggled. “You’re too cute sometimes. But you’re the detective here. I ain’t gonna tell you. You’re going to have to deduce it.”

“Okay. So it happened a couple nights ago, and it’s obviously relating to this ‘pie’ term you made up just now.” I raised an eyebrow at her. “Either you went out shopping and got surprise cooking stuff, or you’re coming down with something that’s gotten you all giddy. Are you ill?”

“Could be. Keep drawing connections,” she sung. I put a hand to my chin.

“I… wait… the laughter, illness… that analogy. You meant a cream p—”

“Pssh don’t say it!” she said, stifling laughter.

“You aren’t trying to tell me you’re having an egg, are you?” I raised my voice. She put a hand to her lips and hushed me, edging closer with a bright smile stuck on her face. “Azu—”

“It’s definite. Your happy little egg is having an egg.” She said softly.

My eyes could’ve left their pupils. I had to put all my strength into not screaming. I felt equal levels chilled and equal levels euphoric, followed by a rush of questions and scenarios. Were we ready to take care of a child? Why and how did this happen? Was it already at the point of no return? Why was she so giddy and weird about it? Or maybe I was acting weird?

“Wow. I was totally expecting you to like, use Explosion or something. You’re more resilient than you look,” she cut me off.

I shook my head, realising exactly what she meant. “Sorry. Force of habit. I have to hide my emotions when interviewing Pokémon, after all.”

“Would make sense. So is it a delayed outburst, or—”

“Azu oh my goodness, are you serious? When did this happen? And like, are you sure?” I cried, lifting her up to my face.

“Yes, I’m sure. I know it’s really soon since we’ve barely been married a week and stuff, but of this, I’m certain. I’m never going to turn my back on you. Wherever our work- no, wherever our lives take us, I’ll follow you with it. With that kind of commitment, I don’t see the point in prolonging having a child… even if it was an accident on my part.”

“Still, I wish you’d told me. I just- this is so sudden I honestly don’t know how to react. Having a kid changes everything!” I gasped. “Maybe I need to filter more water…”

“No no no you don’t, silly. It’s an announcement, but I do feel bad about it you know,” she said, beginning to pace. “Azumarill and Lopunny aren’t known to be compatible with each other. So when our breeding actually started showing symptoms of a child, I grew excited. This is a new discovery! I didn’t tell you because I like, really wanted to figure out why or how it happened. By the time I realised I was having a child for sure, it was too late to actually talk to you about it and—”

“It’s a miracle that you managed that, considering I was the only other Pokémon around this whole honeymoon,” I said, going half lidded.

She burst out laughing. “See, this is why I like you, Magnolia!”


“But yeah, you’re right. It’s ridiculous. But that’s honestly what happened. That’s why I’ve been spending all that time in the lab and stuff. But I know I’ve got to put family first and all that. S-so here I am, delivering the news and everything, haha,” she said, stretching her arms up. I cocked my head in disappointment, expecting better from her. She seemed to catch that thought at just my face, as she dropped the awkward act and hung her head. “I’m sorry, Magnolia. But I promise I’ll do my part, and I’ll make it up to you at some point.”

“Parenting is a commitment, as much so as is marriage. You don’t just ‘make it up to me’ for something like this,” I said, standing straight and tall.

“Oh geez. Alright. Well here I was sorta trying to be nice about it, but I guess you enjoy drilling Pokémon that much,” she replied, stepping away with her hands on her hips.

“That’s not what I mean. My feelings on the matter are unimportant – this doesn’t make me love you any more or less. It’s a shock for sure, and I do wish you had told me right when you started feeling symptoms, but what’s done is done. If we now have a child on the way, then we have to commit ourselves to raising them,” I said, crouching to her height. “So we have to get ready for them, right? Thinking of a name, sorting out the house and all that.”

“Oh, that’s what you mean. Well uh, if you can get some stuff, I can build a nest,” she said, trailing off at a knock on the front door. We both glanced at one another, our faces straight and confused. This would be our first unexpected visitor since the honeymoon.

“Commissioner Dogi,” I said a little too loud. The Weavile was accompanied by three Magnezone, all of which had their magnets and antennae blinking. They shut them off when the door opened, but just that was enough to make my heart skip a few beats.

“Thank goodness you’re both here. Good evening, Detective Magnolia, Professor Azeth,” Dogi greeted, bowing. Both claws were tucked behind his back the whole time.

“You know I prefer Azu,” she grumbled.

“And you know I prefer professional formality. May I come in?”

“Yes, o-of course,” I said, making way for him.

Moments later, we were sat opposite the Weavile and forces of defence accompanying him. The three Magnezone barely fit into the cottage, gathered behind the hay stack Dogi had chosen to sit on. Yet it was me that felt claustrophobic from it, as if I couldn’t walk near to them.

“It’s the usual procedure. We have a dangerous situation on our paws. But,” he began, trailing off with a great sigh. He sat forward and cupped his claws together, giving us a stern look. “You know that I’m a very careful Pokémon when it comes to decision making. You’re one of my best fighters, and I promised you that I wouldn’t come to you during this time unless I absolutely needed you. Even so, know now that the case I’m about to tell you about is fully debatable. If you decline, you will not be held the slightest bit in disregard.”

“So it is a case. Tell us first, then we’ll consider,” I said, folding my arms.

Dogi leaned back and relaxed, letting out another sigh. “On the northern end of this continent is a landmark known as Destiny Tower. It is a mystery dungeon, but in recent years, Pokémon have managed to turn the ground floor into a religious temple of sorts. Given the legends surrounding the place, it attracts all kinds of Pokémon. Explorers, rescue teams, even bandits hoping to make a profit.”

“Ah, I think I’ve heard about the transformation project that went down there. Some kind of religious landmark or cult or something. Pokémon go there to receive Arceus’ judgement and start a new life, right?” Azu said, shrugging. “Is someone making a hoax of it now?”

“I believe so, but we don’t even have that much information. Every single Pokémon that goes there ends up going missing, and all contact with them is lost. This is even with those communicators you made for us.”

“The communicators lose connection when used at too far a distance or underneath the ground,” Azu said.

“We’re aware. We’ve done everything – sent spies, fighters… even detective Miles,” Dogi said. Me and Azu’s eyes widened, and we exchanged glances. “All of them have gone missing, and all without delivering any kind of information that could prove helpful to us. We’re at our wits end.”

“Even Miles went missing? That’s so hard to believe. Miles would never mess up,” I said, huffing a bit. From claustrophobia to genuine fear, I didn’t know what to think.

“We’ll do it. You just want us to investigate, don’t you? Sounds easy enough,” Azu said.


“Investigate and find out everything you can. The friend in me wants to say get out of there as soon as possible, but the duty in me also says to search for a way to retrieve the missing Pokémon. If possible, find and rescue all those who went missing,” the Weavile said, leaning forward again.

“Yeah that shouldn’t be too hard. Besides a top detective making a slip up, this sounds simple enough,” Azu said with a smile, leaning back.

“Azu, but what about—”

“What about what? Our friends and co-workers have all gone hooky. So let’s go tell ‘em off and get ‘em back to work,” she said. I swallowed aloud.

“Alright. We’ll do what we can,” I said quietly.

“That’s all I could dare ask for, and I still feel like trash for having to do so. You’ll each receive twenty-thousand pokegold as an accepting payment. Success of the case will be remaining of that two-hundred thousand total each.”

“Wh-whoa, you for real? I’m pretty sure that’s like half the agency’s bank?” Azu raised her voice. Dogi didn’t reply, but he did tremble and shift a bit. I turned to Azu, a deep frown on my face. “I… I see. This case is that serious to you.”

“It’s becoming a bit of a national incident. But since it’s here on the Mystery Continent, it’s out of the jurisdiction of basically every group of authority there is. There’s simply that many Pokémon who have come to us to report cases of missing Pokémon who went there,” Dogi said, shutting his eyes. “And now with many of our own talented comrades on that list… and we can’t even so much as cut off the area or warn Pokémon. So more Pokémon will go there to disappear as well.”

“There’s no point in mourning over that idea. When we get there, that rubbish will stop,” Azu said.

“I’m counting on you. But more than anything else, please, take care of yourselves. I don’t think I could deal with myself if I sent you there to have something happen to you.”

“Then don’t think about that. We’ll investigate and then we’ll be out of there. It shouldn’t even take a day,” she said cheerily, standing tall.

And with that, Dogi was leaving. I was surprised that he didn’t ask for a drink or a snack. The Magnezone were careful on their way out as well, no longer blaring their sirens and lights. The sun was setting as they came in and it had barely set much further when they left. We watched them until they were dots in the distant fields.

“Why in the world did you accept?” I asked, shutting the door behind me

“Only because it’s exactly as I said it would be. We’ll go into the tower, investigate the ground floor, and then be out of there for good. We won’t be rescuing any Pokémon.”

“Azu, you’re having an egg! We can’t just pass that off and go back to work.”

“Why not?” she said, hands on her hips. I raised a finger to speak, but the tone in her voice had pinned me down and I lost my thoughts for a moment. “Exactly. You’re worrying too much. Besides, you know how this one goes. In a few days I’ll lay the egg, then that’s when we really have to get all careful and stop working for a bit.”

“But still, why? We don’t know what’s going to happen out there.”

“Because I’m bored, okay? I thought I’d like a honeymoon, but all we’ve really done out here is laze around and mate. Dunno about you but I prefer having work to do,” she said, turning her back. “Not that I’m a workaholic or something, but not having stuff to do gets to you after a while.”

“I’m not disagreeing with that. Dang it, should’ve just been honest from the start, shouldn’t you?” I said, shaking my head. “I’ve had to find stuff to occupy myself, too. If this were any other situation, maybe it’d be okay? But this is a kid we’re talking about.”

“We’ll be out of there long before I’m even due to lay the egg. Trust me, it’ll just be this case to get rid of our boredom. And with all the money we’ll earn from it, we’ll be spoiling the little baby.”

“… Okay. I’m trusting you on this. But you have to promise me that you’ll stay out of danger unless you absolutely have to,” I said. “There’s three Pokémon that’ll be badly hurt if you get hurt.”

“Yes sir! I’m counting on you then, honey,” she replied, saluting me. Her sudden pep made me smile, and I had to hide my mouth to avoid snickering. As long as this was a change of pace, it was alright. I had to trust her on that.
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Competitive Mijumaru


Destiny Tower loomed above us. It was nothing like anything I had ever seen – a tower made of white stone, sporting very few windows or vents for air as it stretched beyond the clouds. It wasn’t wider at its foot or any higher up, maintaining the exact same width all the way. Its colours were free of moss and weathering, too. Truly a structure worthy of the gods.

Commissioner Dogi was waiting outside for us. He had a small group of Magnezone and two Lucario with him, but his comrades were all merged with the shrubbery around to hide themselves. The main Weavile himself was calm and had his claws tucked behind his back the whole time, greeting us with a bow.

“Detective Magnolia, Professor Azeth.”

“Again with this,” Azu groaned. I laughed nervously.

“Me and my forces will wait outside in hiding. We have the place sealed off, while the Lucario I hired will keep tabs on you and everyone else involved. They can see your aura. Right now, they can’t see any other aura present inside. Yet, scouts say there is a priest in the centre of the altar.”

“Can they see the auras of the dead?” I asked.

“Geez. Straight in with the grim question,” Azu said. She had brought her staff with her, a large, bright pink pole that was taller than she was. It had a glowing golden star on the end. I was thankful, as although she normally used it to help her dig and investigate, it also doubled as a weapon of self-defence.

“Dead Pokémon do not release aura,” Dogi said, looking away. He must have caught my immediate thoughts.

“So a zombie priest is our only suspect,” I said, making my way to the entrance. A wide entryway up a few steps that any Pokémon could fit into.

“Don’t jump to conclusions. Be careful, detective,” Dogi said. I gave him a single wave and made my way in, knowing that Azu was behind me.

Inside was everything I could’ve expected from a place shrouded in religious legend. An altar in the centre of a huge room surrounded by an arty formation of water that cycled through quiet sprinklers. Some flowers were here and there around the altar as well, but besides that, the room was empty. Clean white walls, stone flooring made of uneven tiles of grey, and the standard of all mystery dungeons: the stairs.

But seconds into my observation, my ‘investigative senses’ turned on full force. I called them investigative senses because I had no other clever name for them. Whenever I knew something was wrong in an area, everything of interes would light up to me, highlighted in easy-to-see colours. I would catch on to anything unusual that didn’t outright make sense to me, and then run many calculations in my head to tie anything together in hopes of making a logical point.

The altar and its surroundings had been recently cleaned, and all by heavy duty cleaning equipment – the kind that the big companies would use to clean out a public swimming pool or something. I could tell because of that sickening stench of the chemicals that swimming pools usually have. There wasn’t enough water around the altar for that smell to be that strong.

I barely had to look much further to see why the place had been cleaned, too. The ground was the slightest bit discoloured in places. There were splotches of black amongst the dark grey ground, almost like Pokémon attacks had gone off. This would make sense given Destiny Tower was a mystery dungeon, but from what Azu had told me on the way here, the ground floor was a public space. Attacks had no reason to go off here. Maybe they cleaned them to try and cover it up?

I walked ever so slowly. My head didn’t turn as I very slowly walked right up to the altar. Only my pupils darted around to spot anything of interest. As soon as my feet touched the steps leading up to the altar, I caught another thing of note. Those steps were light. Hollow. There was a heavy wind beneath them, unlike the thick stone that kept out everything else around the tower.

Underground,” I thought to myself, increasing speed just a little. At the top of the altar, the priest stared back at me with a nervous frown on his face. An aged Venusaur that was probably losing his health, choosing to stand here rather than outside in the sunlight. Behind him was where the water from the fancy waterways was accumulating, but it was so shallow that a Joltik could bathe in it.

“Welcome to Destiny Tower, young Mareep. You stand in the presence of the Father, the embodiment of all that is holy. How may I assist you in receiving his guidance today?” Venusaur said. He spoke slowly but grandly, having that voice that was just perfect for speaking amongst large groups of quiet Pokémon.

“I… you’ll have to forgive me. I’m not well versed in religious dialect. Please tell me what it is that you do here?” I asked.

But I already knew the answer to that question. Azu had told me on the way here. I just needed to buy time while she looked around the altar at everything else of interest.

“This tower stands as the closest place in the whole world to our creator, the Father. Non-believers would have come to know the almighty via the name of Arceus,” the priest recited tiredly. “Many Pokémon escape to this land in hopes to receive his blessing. It is through the blessing of the Father that one may have the role of their life changed, starting anew with a new name, path, or even through reincarnation.”

“Reincarnation?” I said. That one was new to me. The priest smiled the slightest bit.

“The Father can erase the life you currently lead and reincarnate you as an entirely new being. In doing so will begin the very first day of your new life as a species chosen by the almighty,” he carried on. “You are aware of the tales of humans who have transformed into Pokémon, correct? It is through this ritual that such magic is possible. And that they return to their world. It is all the will of the almighty.”

“I see,” I mouthed. “I have actually heard of those stories. But I’m certain it was proven to be for other reasons that the humans transformed. What exactly happens here? I can’t really reincarnate into an entirely new species, can I?

“We also offer a service of confession. Confess all you have done and join me in prayer, and then the almighty will bless you with suggestions to improve your lifestyle. And lastly, of course, is the application to become a priest yourself. But that one requires climbing the tower to the peak. Very few do that for the purpose of joining us in priesthood.”

“… I’m going to have to stop playing, here,” I said, revealing my authorities badge from my bag. “My name is Magnolia. I’m a detective. You seem like an experienced worker here, so I’m going to have to ask you a few questions.”

“Ah. I was concerned about the way you and that lady came in, examining everything so carefully,” he replied.

My face tightened a bit. He noticed the way me and Azu were looking around?

“You may ask me anything. I can only hope that I can answer your questions in a helpful manner.”

“Hey, Magnolia! Come look at this,” Azu called out. She was leaned over some of the black marks on the floor, rubbing it with her hand. I hopped over the side of the altar to join her. “Go ahead. Feel it.”

I answered her by following her instruction. The floor was as cold, rugged, and dirty as expected. But between the black marks where the attacks had gone off and the normal flooring, the black marks were completely clean. Rubbing the floor with my left hand covered it in dirt, while my right that rubbed the black marking was spotless, even as I continued to rub over it. In fact, it wasn’t even rugged, almost like it was an entirely different part of flooring.

“It isn’t a blast? This looks like a fire attack,” I said.

“Weird, right? But it’s a fire attack alright. The chemical reaction matches up,” she said, standing back up. “But I’ve looked all around the room and it’s consistent. Somehow, it’s like they drained all traces of the actual Pokémon attack and nothing else. Normally I can tell you exactly what attack went off, but all I can say this time is that it’s a fire type move.”

“So there’s my first question,” I called out, getting Venusaur’s attention. “A recent battle happened here. Tell me all the details. And how you cleaned this up.”

He signalled for us to go back up to the altar, so we did. “Those blasts are the result of the reincarnation process. We had an… unfortunate situation in which one Pokémon that was not happy about their new form went on a rampage. He attempted to attack me with his new Flame Burst attacks, but was quickly subdued by surrounding Pokémon,” he said, shutting his eyes. He turned around, revealing similar burn marks tucked away amongst the flowers on his back.

“I’m inclined to believe you, but… every single Pokémon that has come here recently has completely disappeared from the world. On top of that, the way in manner the attacks were cleaned off the ground is physically impossible,” I said, becoming stern. “Father Venusaur. You have something to do with the missing Pokémon, don’t you?”

“Those marks don’t match up with Flame Burst either, you know,” Azu added. “The clue is in the name. Flame Burst causes sparks to burst out on impact. That would leave black burn marks surrounded by smaller marks from the scattering embers. But the marks on the floor leave no small marks – only big ones, the kind caused by something like Flamethrower.”

“The evidence is on my body, though it is healing.” Venusaur replied, a hint of anger showing in his voice.

“Still wrong. There would still be smaller marks where the sparks landed on the ground. But there aren’t any surrounding the altar at all!” I shouted, pointing at him. Venusaur shut his eyes.

“… That’s because there is water surrounding the altar.”

“That- oh. Wait. Right,” I said, looking around again.

Picturing the attack in my mind, it would make sense if the sparks all scattered into the surrounding water. But if that was the case, then that would mean that the marks on the ground would come from a different fire attack, one likely not directed at Venusaur, and one that definitely wasn’t Flame Burst.

“No need to rush now, Magnolia. Take it easy,” Azu said, patting my back. I spared her a glance and took a deep breath.

“I apologise for that. But are you aware of the reports of Pokémon going missing? Their last whereabouts were reported as right here,” I said, tucking my hands behind my back.

“The only Pokémon I have seen for the past few months are those seeking our services. There have been a few explorers and treasure hunters who have set out to climb the tower, however. Perhaps there is something nearby that threatens the Pokémon’s safety that I am not aware of?” Venusaur said, taking a grumble of a breath.

“So there’s some new info. Some of the Pokémon might’ve climbed a few floors,” Azu said. “C’mon! Let’s go check it out.”

“A-Azu, wait, Azu!” I hissed, snatching her arm. She was confused, bothered by my serious look. “That’s a mystery dungeon.”

“I know, and? If it’s where the Pokémon went, then we’ve gotta check it out.”

“You said we’d only be checking the ground floor and that was it.”

“Yeah but the situation’s changed—”

“We can’t take any chances. You are in no position to go through such a dangerous place,” I said, speaking slowly and loudly. She gulped, shook her hand free, and then bowed at me.

“Alright. I’m sorry. I get it,” she said, looking away. A wave of relief washed over me.

“Don’t worry. I’ll go and be back in a little bit.”

“If I may,” Venusaur said, waving a vine in between us. “It is customary to offer Escape Orbs alongside a prayer to ensure the safety of all who intend to climb the tower. Join me in prayer, even if you do not intend to ascend to the heavens.”

“You give out free Escape Orbs?” I said. He moved aside, revealing a whole collection of wonder orbs floating on top of the shallow water behind him. I walked over to examine them, impressed by the honest gesture. They were genuine Escape Orbs.

“Take one and join me in prayer. I recommend one each, so that your travel away from this place might be a safe journey, as well,” Venusaur said, glancing at Azu. She nodded happily and bounced over to me to pick one up.

“So that was all it took. You can serve me all the same as the rest,” Venusaur said. My heart skipped a beat and I glared back at him. It took only a second, but a dozen thoughts erupted in my head, each ringing alarm bells that told me that I was extreme danger here, telling me I needed to get out.

The hollow floor of the altar and the shallow puddle at the peak. Then the offering of the free items to lead me there. It was such a basic Rattata trap, yet the anxious dressing lured me right into it.

With a light cough and a desperate reaction, I attempted to lunge at Venusaur, but it was already too late. I tripped and fell face flat, and a cry from Azu implied she was no better. Glancing back, my right ankle was now wrapped tightly in a thick bundle of vines from a Grass Knot attack. But with the strength of my feet, I knew I could kick my way out of that one.

What I feared I couldn’t power my way out of however was the Venusaur’s cryptic casting. Whatever he had done, a crystal-clear orb had appeared above me. It blinded me enough to make me look away, and then an intense burn took over my whole body, earning a cry of pain. It felt like my very being was getting physically sucked out of me, as if my blood, oxygen, and all else were being vacuumed out into the shimmering orb above.

But I was already in the mind to attack this Venusaur the moment I learnt that he somehow wasn’t releasing aura. His attack had shaken me, but it was probably no greater than a well-trained Giga Drain attack. I let it go on for a few moments while I braced myself, culminating every bit of strength I could muster into the foot that was strangled by Grass Knot. It hurt so much that my vision blurred and my chest tightened, but surely enough, it was enough. I roared out loud and swung my body as hard as I could, pulling my foot free.

Venusaur’s eyes widened and he shifted away, but not nearly far back enough to escape me. Scrambling on all fours, I threw my body into another spin, kicking the side of his face so hard that he spun to the side, releasing an alarming amount of spit. My movements seemed to have loosed me from his Giga Drain as well, so I fell back to all fours and sprung into a Quick Attack.

Or so I thought. I wanted to use Quick Attack, and I felt myself tensing up to use it, but no power came. If anything, my body strained itself into a sharp ache by just trying to use the attack, enough to make me growl in fury. It was enough time for Venusaur to recover from my kick as well, where his eyes began to glow with a bloodshot appearance.

In my panic, I glanced at Azu to find that she in just as panicky a state. Whatever that glowing orb had really done to us, its effects had drained all the colour from her fur. She was still blue, but the blue from her fur was so faded that it was as if she was severely sick. She looked like she was coughing up a Bubble Beam attack and failing to even generate a single bubble. A quick look at my arms and legs revealed that I had gotten the same treatment, having turned a very faded brown.

“By the power vested in me, become tools in the life experiment of the great Vine,” Venusaur announced. At his word, the floor below me collapsed, draining the water with a loud rush.

“No!” I cried at the top of my voice, tripping in attempt to escape. The floor tilted hard enough to throw me backwards, but I desperately kicked and crawled whatever way to try and hold on. Thanks to the water, the floor I could grab had little traction, and I helplessly fell into whatever hole formed behind me.

I tumbled as I fell, losing sight of everything around me except mountainous rock and the light from the altar above me. Azu was flipping with her fall as well, also screaming and flicking her arms and legs to try and right herself.

“Aqua Jet’s not working!” she cried, and my heart sunk. That was the only way to avoid getting badly hurt from a fall of this height.

Seconds later, we both crashed hard against the surface of water, wrecking my side. I plummeted right to the bottom of the water, but with my breath all gone from the recent screaming, I choked right away and attempted to get myself under control. I had to fight with the water and the surrounding rock, but my muffled hearing and weak chest kept my movements frantic and logical.

It was still impossible, as right after I flipped around so that I was standing, I realised that the water had a current that was pushing me at full force. I continued to flip and strain for air until I met Azu, who was way ahead of me in getting things under control. She had an arm stretched out which I grabbed with a gurgle, and then she pulled us both to the surface. Her tail had been there whole time, so it was easy.

Still, I was in for it. I took in an anxious breath the moment I breached the surface of the water, only to be thrown right back under by the river’s force. I gurgled on the freezing cold water once again, hitting rock walls and random stags of earth as I was pulled along the course of the river, all the while Azu was crying out and doing her best to try and keep us both surfaced. Before I knew it, we were flung out over a waterfall so far high up that we were suspended in mid-air for a few seconds before smashing to the bed of a lake.

Fortunately, there weren’t any more rocks that could’ve stabbed us upon diving like this. But the whole trip had drained my strength so much that I couldn’t help but stay there on the lake bed for a few moments, eyes clenched shut, bubbles lifelessly escaping my gawking mouth as my consciousness threatened to give in. My body hurt so much more than I had ever experienced, even with my line of work in fighting criminals. It hurt too much for me to even have the strength to move. It wasn’t until my lack of breath truly put me on the verge of drowning did I instinctively begin to curl up and my arms scrambled for breath, saved by Azu who grabbed one arm and made for the surface again.

“C’mon you, we’re not giving up like this,” I heard her say, followed by a loud splash. The moment my head came free of the water, I coughed and sputtered on massive gulps of air, but that was all. My eyes were still shut and my body still ached, laying limp while my partner began to paddle for the nearest land.

We both collapsed onto our backs to catch our breaths. I was lost for words, not able to tell how long that whole thing had just lasted. Or that it even happened, cursing myself for not being careful enough. Thanks to the slightest slip up, I felt like I was dying, almost wishing I had since I would have to deal with finding out where we now were. I opened my eyes, surprised to see Azu covered in harsh bruises, one of which on the side of her head that was actually bleeding slightly. Her blue colours were back, but with those injuries, she wouldn’t be going anywhere far anytime soon.


“Don’t bother, you’re just as bad, too,” she said, not opening her eyes.

I was taken by surprise, but a quick attempt to examine myself unveiled that it was true. I wasn’t bleeding anywhere, but my body was covered in large, black bruises from all the impacts I’d taken. They hurt so much that it was like my skeleton wasn’t there, that if I attempted to stand, my body would just fall to pieces.

I gave in and sat back with a loud breath. Yes, we were in an emergency, but she was right. In this state, we’d be sitting Ducklett if we fell into another spot of trouble.

“Gods damn it,” I hissed, coughing up spit. I snuck a glance at her again, making sure my breath was steady before I spoke again. “Hey. Th-thanks for your help back there.”

She giggled a bit, managing a smile at me. She linked our hands, and then went back to trying to relax. “You know I wouldn’t leave you out. You’re welcome.”
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Competitive Mijumaru


Azu was the first one to wake up despite her request to have us both rest and recover our energy, and once she was up, we were off to whatever was the closest place with civilization. There was a town not far from the lake we landed in, thankfully.

I had no idea what the time could have been. Wherever that river had taken us, we were now in a place where the sky was rendered in a foggy darkness. Everything up above was shrouded in distance mist; smoky, grey, and devoid of all detail otherwise. There were no stars or clouds or whatever bright texture the sky was supposed to have, only grey colour and nothing else.

I walked slowly, scanning the environment intently. Poorly nourished weeds that barely maintained a natural green made up the surrounding plain, of which was enclosed by hard stone walls in almost all directions bar the town. There was another lake opposite the one we landed in, but that one had a nasty purple hue coming from it, telling of its poisonous contents. That wasn’t an option as far as I could tell.

Other than that, there wasn’t anything to note down here. We were trapped by these unclimbable rock walls that towered far beyond the grey sky, had no source of water besides the muddy lake and the poisonous lake, and then whatever waited for us in that town.

“Is that even a town? It looks so run down,” I said, losing hope as we got closer.

There were structures set up, but they were makeshift habitats clearly constructed of whatever materials the builders could get their hands on. Hardened mud and mounds of soil moulded into shape, with the occasional plank of wood placed somewhere for support. Many of the buildings did not have windows, stunk of putrid nature, and were covered in the same dying weeds as the plains outside. At least it gave this place some colour.

“I… actually feel kind of sick,” Azu said, walking ahead. She seemed confused by the lack of roads marked out into the ground.

At least there were Pokémon who gathered around at our arrival. Many came from the habitats, while some sat up from the streets they were sleeping on. There wasn’t a lot of them, but there was enough to make us stop in place, wary of what kind of greeting we might get.

There wasn’t even any coherency amongst the species. A shrivelled and elderly Chesnaught, a fiercely glaring Gardevoir that looked as though they hadn’t washed in months, a Vanilluxe that had lost its snowy white colour, an Oshawott with a headband tying a blue leaf to it; to name a few. And none of them said a word, standing guard. Okay, maybe their only consistency was that all of them showed signs of a neglectful lifestyle.

“We don’t mean any harm. We need to get out of here,” Azu said, raising both hands. She realised she forgot her staff after a second and pulled it from her back to lay it out in front of her.

“We fell from high up, so our way out must be towards higher ground. Does anybody know the way?” I asked.

There was a moment of pause, and then some of the Pokémon started to make a path through their crowd. The Chesnaught pointed through the path, revealing another exit at the other end of this unsanitary town. Azu smiled at them, retrieved her staff and then led to way, to which I snatched her arm again.

“Let me lead from here on out. Just to be on the safe side,” I said. She groaned at me but played along with it, making sure she walked beside me but just a little bit behind.

“There is a cave at the far end of the poison pond. If you can cross it and make your way through the dungeon there, you can return to the surface,” the Gardevoir said, revealing her broken, aged voice.

“Thank you,” I said, unsure of what to think. The insecurity in everyone’s faces told me to be careful of their thoughts and actions, especially given we were in no position to fight.

But surely enough, they let us walk right through their mess of a town and back out into the weedy plains. This half of the world was worse than where we landed, having literally nothing but the plains, the poison pond, cave entrance behind that, and then the heavy walls keeping everything enclosed. No matter where we walked, the sky kept up that dark, misty cloak. It didn’t take long for my mood to plummet because of the whole thing, almost as if my sight was becoming colourless.

“How’re we going to get through the poison? There’s way too much to clear away with Water Gun,” Azu said once we got close enough. I crouched by it, daring to dip a tiny bit of my fluffy wrist into it. There wasn’t an immediate effect, so I dipped a finger into it, finding it only incurred a burning sensation and nothing else. My fur or features didn’t melt away or have any lingering effects.

“We can walk through it, but still,” I mumbled, looking out ahead. It was shallow, but it would take minutes to wade through. The poison would surely do its damage by then. “Aqua Ring.”

“Aqua Ring?” she said, going half lidded. I hoisted her up onto my back, giving her a confident smile.

“Aquatic Ring,” I said, making her snicker. She gave a quick prayer that surrounded us both in a blob of water.

Sure, it hindered my eyesight by making everything look as if I was underwater, but it trapped me in a bubble that soothed those burns I had just given myself, too. With this new shield temporarily up, I bounced ahead in a bunny-like sprint, ignoring the effects of the poison completely.

That was one trial complete. Once we reached the cave entrance, I set Azu down, and then we continued our trek with me in the lead. She looked like she had more energy than me however, making me lose my nerves a bit.

I love how headstrong you are, but please take it more carefully,” I moaned to myself, doing my usual intense scanning of the new area. The path was jagged and littered with pebbles and dung, but it did go uphill.

It didn’t take long for our walk through the cave to be met with a hard obstruction. Once we climbed a few tiny slopes, a line of huge stalagmites walled the main path, with only one entryway that required tiptoeing along a thin bridge to reach. It was nothing me and Azu couldn’t handle normally, but the mist that discoloured the sky outside filled this cave like a rampant river, smothering everything that wasn’t a few metres in front of me. Me and Azu had actually taken to holding hands to avoid losing one another, even though there weren’t any splits in the road.

“Gonna have to go one at a time here. There’s no telling how steep it is,” she said, starting to sweat.

“Are you nervous?” I asked.

“Are you nervous? You’re the one quiet as a lemon, here.”

“I just don’t want anything bad to happen, okay? We’re in gods knows what territory here.”

She walked around me, getting dangerously close to the edge. She playfully leaned over it, and then tucked her arms behind her back. “The feeling’s mutual, honey. But nerves and anxiety don’t help. Acting does.”

“And when you’re having a fricking child, managing stress is important.”

She sighed and walked back over. “Look. The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can start worrying about that. But right now, it’s our lives that’re in danger.”

“I know that, but still. I know you hate the idea, but… you can’t do everything you want to be able to while you’re like this.”

“Because I’m going to be a mother?” she said with a flat tone.

“Not even that. It’s not an independence or a domestic thing. Your body simply won’t let you. Trust me, you’ll get tired more than usual and stuff.”

“Won’t know until I try.”

“Just let me do the heavy lifting for a while,” I groaned, rolling my eyes. She paused as I held out my hands. “… Literally.”

“Oh? You’re gonna carry me across there?”

“You’re a bunny, too. You know how it feels to jump a hundred metres.”

And so, I hoisted her up onto my back again, making space to do a run up. Azu wasn’t heavy or very big, but she was shapely, and that was where the problems came with carrying her. Her legs weren’t long enough to properly wrap round my front either, so at the times I needed to sprint at full speed, I knew I couldn’t because my hands would need to hold her tight.

Still, I knew how to get through this. I wasn’t going to jump despite my spacing, instead using Azu as a weight to help me balance my way across the walkway. One foot directly in front of the other, both arms tied back to help hold her back, while her arms stretched out and did the balancing for me. We made it across in no time, disappointed to reach a dead end immediately after.

“To the left, Magnolia,” she said. I kept feeling the wall for a solution but followed her direction anyway, only to come across more huge stalagmites blocking the way. There was a gap between two of them large enough for us to squeeze through. Only individually, though.

“Ladies first?” Azu said, half-lidded as she slid to the floor.

“And throw you straight into danger? No thank you. Let me scout out first,” I said, about to climb through.

“Oh my gods Maggy, you’re so boring sometimes,” she groaned. I froze.

“We’re still going through this?”

“Oh yeah, we are still going through this. Since I told you I’m carrying, you’ve been treating me like I’m some disabled in a hospital bed!”

I reversed to confront her properly. “I’m just playing it safe.”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything, okay? You said I’d get tired, but I’m perfectly full of energy, thank you. My brain still works, too. And my Pokémon moves haven’t gone anywhere, either. I just have to be more careful than usual.”

“Or else we suffer the heaviest loss of our lives? Because of that cost, we can’t risk not being too safe.”

“I know that- argh, look,” she said, pulling my arm down so that I crouched to her face. “We’re both pros at our jobs, we both know what’s at stake, and we’re both super wary of everything right now. Just because I’m having an egg, that doesn’t suddenly make me a might drop less than you. If anything, I’m better than you at my job, and still am.”


“If you keep acting like some gentlemanly Gary Stu, you’re gonna draw attention to me. And of course, we don’t want that. So let me take care of myself. If I need help, you know I’ll ask.”

I couldn’t help but look away, swallowing a huge lump of guilt. This had to have been one of those times where neither of us were wrong, yet still she managed to make me feel bad about myself. I had convinced myself this was different to work, but in a way, it wasn’t.

Azu’s knowledge and mastery of forensics, materials, and construction was an invaluable asset to my investigations, especially when we had to be out exploring hideouts or mystery dungeons. And with the types of crimes Pokémon could get away with, that happened far more often than I liked. I usually worried about her, but Azu was as capable as she made herself out to be, usually so much that I never had to keep an eye on her when we were at work. She just delivered her end of the job, if not several steps ahead of me, constantly boasting her experience.

“But what about how I feel?” I said. She blinked. “I can’t stress how much I just don’t want you to get hurt. I know you like your independence, but seriously, it’d put me at ease if you stood on the side-lines this time. Not because you can’t do anything, no, I’d be surprised if you couldn’t do anything.”

“So then what? So I can sit and watch my husband literally break his back?”

“So that I don’t have to see you break your back when you don’t have to!” I said, shivering with aggression. She moved at that, and her face changed. “I just… I’m sorry, I know it’s not you and stuff, but I seriously just couldn’t bear it if something happened now. Let me protect you, and if I can’t, then I’m counting on you.”

“… Fine. I hate it, but fine,” she said, sighing and shaking her head. “But can we at least use some logic here? There’s no Pokémon around here, and I know how to walk on a balance beam.”

I looked back at the thin pathway, then back at her, then snickered and scratched my head fur. “Okay, maybe I was being a bit excessive, hahaha.”

“Oh thank the gods, you two were having a the couples argument!” someone called out, making me shift mood immediately. I slid in front of Azu, and she readied her staff, both of us facing the thin walkway. Someone was coming that we somehow hadn’t heard. And we still couldn’t hear them besides their voice just now.

“Who’s there?” I said.

“Keep your panties on, but just don’t the move,” the low but friendly voice replied. I felt like I recognised it, and then relief washed over me when the figure began to materialize through the mist. It was a Shinx, though he wasn’t clothed in anything special.

“Miles?” me and Azu said aloud.

“Yeah yeah, cue the fancy cool dynamic entry and the character card and all. Glad I found you lot having a little the couple’s argument; it means yer marriage is healthy.” He said, walking in between us as if we weren’t even there. He climbed in between the rocks and began to scout, getting our interest.

“Detective Miles,” Azu said.

“You two are the lucky that I showed up just now, you know. Any further, and you’d have been the cook-able meat,” he said, not looking back. He glowed brightly and created a Substitute of himself, kicking his decoy into the clearing beyond the stalagmites.

The instant he did, a very intense noise filled my ears, and presumably Azu’s. I had barely a moment to take in the danger the noise foretold, the turning of several heavy bits of machinery somewhere in the invisible distance. Before I could prepare, the deafening pang of gunshots fired off from many directions within the clearing where the substitute was thrown. Me and Azu couldn’t help but cry out and cover our ears, cringing in irritation. It was a whole round of gun bullets worse than a rapid-fire Bullet Seed.

It was over sooner than anticipated, but it still had us shivering. Miles had made room for us to look into the clearing, finding the substitute shredded in more ways than a cheese grater. A whole collection of bullet shells surrounded it, too. If that had been me or Azu… well, I couldn’t even picture it.

“What the hell?” I whispered. My fear spiked to infinity when Azu hopped right through the gap, and I grabbed her tail like my life depended on it. “Azeth!”

I yanked her back so hard she hit the rock, but at least she didn’t retaliate. In her hands were two of the bullets that had scattered, and her face had gone intense, like the kind she had when she was hitting a breakthrough in an investigation.

“Actual gun bullets,” she said, unbothered by what she had just done. Me and Miles exchanged glances.

“Azu, you’re crazy, you know that?” I hissed.

“Why are there man-made gun bullets here?”

“Azu! After all that talk about keeping safe, you just vault right into danger like that?” I raised my voice.

“Just look at these, will you?” she replied. I took a few moments to sigh and force myself to calm down, taking one of the bullets. “Machine gun bullets. And they’re military grade. So those were turrets.”

“Basically, this way out is a no-go,” I said.

“Never mind that, what the heck are military grade turrets doing here? Humans have never set foot on the Mystery Continent, let alone anywhere the mystery dungeons are. They can’t survive. What’s man-made technology of this calibre doing here?”

My eyes widened. She was right. I have been in this line of work for over fifteen years, and never before had I come across human technology like this. I had dealt with it before, but it was always some kind of contraption adapted for use by Pokémon, the kind that Pokémon hunters used. That led to research into human firearms and weaponry, thus our knowledge on guns.

“But what does this mean?” I said, unable to take my eyes off the bullet. No one replied. “Does this mean a human is the culprit?”

“Why are you asking me that?” Azu said.

“… Yes. You’re right, we don’t have enough information for that. The loosest theory I can come up with is that Venusaur being a man in a suit… no, he could use Pokémon attacks, so that’s impossible,” I said, starting to mumble.

“I had heard that there were the new faces down here. I guess that means you two. How strikingly unfortunate,” Miles said, turning and leading the way back. “Follow me. We have much to learn about this place.”

“We’re going back? Isn’t this the way out?” I asked.

“Clamperl that idea. If Miles is here, then I bet he knows a crud ton about what’s going on here,” Azu said, following him. I scratched my head fur and followed, grumbling to myself.

“Every single Pokémon that comes to Destiny Tower has fallen prey to the dread priest that mans the altar,” Miles said. He’d been silent until the town came into view and we were entering. “They all have stories to tell. Families who wished to erase their history, rescue teams, explorers, even aspiring kids on an adventure. Males, females, and every the gender in between, disabled Pokémon, rich Pokémon… a newlywed couple is child’s play to add to this accursed town.”

“And those turrets hold them all back. They can’t leave,” Azu said. Miles nodded at her, addressing both of us when we were in the centre of the town.

“We call this place the Ark. You know, like the tale of Noah. We don’t know why Pokémon are being gathered this way, but we are being gathered, and each new addition makes life here every bit more difficult. We cannot grow enough food here, let alone provide for all the diets needed for all to be healthy. So I apologise if you get the hungry.”

“It’s like you can tell,” Azu said, rubbing her belly.

I made a sound of bother. “What’s important to us? How do we get out?”

“By bypassing that cave. Father Venusaur calls the cave, the Rapture. That the only way to pass through it is to complete his trial and become the almighty… wait, here he is. I believe he’ll explain the rest,” Miles said, looking up.

I glared at the misty sky, unable to find what he was talking about until it occurred to me. Shinx cannot be blinded and can see in any light conditions, so he could see through the mist clearer than anyone else here. I just had to trust him.

Surely enough, Father Venusaur was descending upon us. I would probably never learn how, but he was attached to stiff and tight chains via his plant and hind legs, hanging from the distant ceiling like some sort of spider. Several Crobat surrounded him, but the whole lot of them seemed devoid of colour and life thanks to their backdrop.

“It would seem that we have many new faces joining us recently, so I will entail to you the course of this place once again,” Venusaur said, his voice booming loud and clear. “You are here now, and you will die here, unless you are worthy of walking in the almighty’s perfect world.”

“What the heck is all this?” I said. Azu hushed me.

“To become worthy, you must prove you are worthy. You must summon the almighty’s hand, and receive his judgement. To do so, strip your Pokémon powers by wielding the Soulstealer, the lance that seals the powers of all who come into contact with it.”

Two of the Crobat flew in front of Venusaur, latching themselves to his side. There, they raised five wings between them, and Venusaur continued talking. “Five. Using the Soulstealer, and only the Soulstealer, you must take the lives of five other Pokémon within the Ark. Do so, and I may take you to salvation, the realm of the almighty.”

I turned my attention to the centre of town, finding the Soulstealer directly below Venusaur’s exact spot. A tall spear with a perfectly transparent blade, short and curved the slightest bit. The weapon sat in a large spot of soil, sticking straight up as if bound to the spot. Its appearance took away my breath, but generated an uncontrollably fierce glare.

The only way to leave was to take that weapon and kill five other Pokémon in the area. The very thought was so sinful that it was no wonder this case had been going on for so long. It was no wonder a town had been built and all these Pokémon were now suffering from malnourishment and lacking hygiene.

“Do not try to cheat the system. Death by any means other than the Soulstealer will not count. Taking your own life will only disqualify you from the trial as well,” Venusaur said.

“You’re a freaking demon,” I said, stepping forward. “What kind of monster are you? What is all this?”

Venusaur didn’t answer. Instead he began to ascend back into the fog above, to which I growled, stretching my feet out. Cold energy gathered by my mouth, but before I could release the Ice Beam, Miles pulled me back a bit.

“Do not waste your energy. You’ll only provoke the Crobat. He has heard it all before,” he said. I glanced at him and then back at Venusaur, locking eyes with the cold, emotionless grass type.

I withdrew my attack and turned around, surprised to see all the Pokémon that had gathered to see Venusaur’s announcement. Way more than what had greeted us when we arrived, but all the same with their run down, tired, lifeless appearances.

My face sunk as their silent cries for life bawled through the still air, even though their looks told their stories. These were Pokémon who had been subjected to this torture for so long that they had given up on hope, dreams, of seeing freedom ever again. Yet their bodies held on, as if there was some final flicker of something that existed amongst them.

But I would never consider myself amongst them. This was the worst case I had ever been on in my entire life, but that was all the more reason I would have to stay who I am. I would have to cling to a future I had in store, getting out of here and starting a family with Azu.
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Competitive Mijumaru


“This way, now. This house is the refuge I own,” Miles said, directing us into a cube in the corner of the town. At first glance it was nothing special compared to the other sorry excuses for homes in the town, but when I thought about it, this one had solid logs on each side to keep its shape. It didn’t stink, either. On second thought, it just didn’t stink of farm.

“Can you believe it? Me of all Pokémon owns a house of my own. It is a the miracle,” Miles said, smiling.

“C’mon man. You’ve got to stop putting yourself down,” I said.

“I was jesting.”


“Just normal Magnolia things,” Azu said. I gave her a cheeky pinch, but she tickled me back.

Inside was totally empty besides a large rock jutting out of the ground. Walking around the rock revealed that it obscured a set of stone stairs which were all uncomfortably tiny and close to each other. Me and Azu held each other to get down, where we found another room that more resembled a decent living environment. It was dark down here, but candles and a campfire kept the room warm and orange. There was a bed and a pile of books and things, as well as a makeshift desk of stone.

“One of the ground type Pokémon that lived here dug this place out. Said it was the convenient place for a home. But they passed away soon after I arrived,” Miles said, answering our obvious question.

“Uncle Miles!” a cheery voice squeaked, making my heart jump. A tiny Maractus bounced over, waving her arms in glee until she noticed me and Azu, where she became scared.

“Do not be alarmed. They are workmates from the surface. They’re here to help me create another miracle,” Miles said, smiling at her. His peppiness returned. Judging from her voice and pudge on her face, I could tell that she was very young. “This is Asor. She’s the adopted daughter of some Gardevoir that came here. But that mother is just… losing it. So I take care of her here.”

“I suppose you’re gonna teach us how to parent soon, too?” Azu said, half lidded.

Miles raised an eyebrow. “You asked me to tell you anything important. So I will. You must promise me that you will keep this one the secret, too. For even I am at my wits end on how to resolve it,” he said, walking around the room. We followed him until the bed came into view, where our eyes popped out at once.

I could’ve screamed. Sound asleep on a mattress of weeds and soil was the mythical Pokémon Mew. It didn’t look comfortable or even like it was breathing, especially since it didn’t even have a pillow. But there it was, hands clasped in one another, eyes shut quietly. The thing that took my attention the most was that its fur wasn’t the pale pink that legends spoke of. It was white, the same kind of illusive, colourless white as the mist that shrouded the sky around here.

“Why… what in the world?” Azu said, whispering and shaking her head.

“Mew’s been here for a while now. I keep doing everything I can, but it just won’t wake up,” Asor said, hanging her head.

“You weren’t wasting strength with Synthesis again, were you?” Miles said.

“No uncle! No I wasn’t,” she cried, shaking her hands. There was silence until her stomach rumbled, making her blush and clutch it. “O-okay… maybe I t-tried again.”

“It’s still many hours until the mealtime. You’ll have to go hungry until then, I’m afraid,” Miles said, shaking his head in disdain. “I told you that Synthesis will not work very effectively here. There is little to no the natural light. You are just expending your own energy.”

“I’m sorry uncle Miles.”

“This can’t be real,” Azu said, shaking her head. She started to pace, her breathing becoming erratic.


“We might actually be doomed,” she said, widening my eyes. “Please tell me this is some kind of sick joke. Because if it is, it’s way too far.”

Miles didn’t reply, staring up at her with an unusually stern look. She went back to pacing, her head falling into her hands. “Why the heck is the mother of all Pokémon here? If Mew’s here, incapacitated, then that means that freaking Venusaur got it. It can get anyone. With Mew here, that’s like… how can we expect to get out?”

“Azu?” I said again.

“How can we expect to get out?” she raised her voice. “Venusaur beat freaking Mew. That’s not power or smarts you just compete with!”

“Calm down. I’m sure even Mew has its bad days. It was probably taken off guard the same way we were. I mean, how good are we, and we couldn’t have seen that coming,” I said, raising a fist. She started to calm her breathing.

“… Y-yeah. It’s just… hungry. And worried a bit. This was a bit of a Wake-Up Slap. But this is a considerable disadvantage,” she said.

“Or an advantage. If we could wake up Mew, we could surely get the freedom the out of here,” Miles said. “I have one more thing to show you. Will you follow me? Asor, please stay down here until we get back.”

“Yes Uncle Miles,” she said, still saddened.

I tilted my head. “Does she always stay down here?”

“It’s the only place that’s safe in the Ark. Many of the grass types down here are made to use their support moves on other Pokémon in a selfish manner. When the reality is, the grass types suffer the most down here. They cannot photosynthesize, so they often the whither first.”

“But she’s a Maractus? They get their energy at night in the dark.” Azu replied.

“Assuming that this place has any real light or darkness,” Miles said, leading the way out the house. “This place has nothing. Only the evil in everyone’s hearts waiting to be unleashed.”

I held Azu again as we climbed upstairs, deep in thought. Mew being here opened up the potential for many theories, many dark and many hopeful. I didn’t have enough information to properly consider any of those theories yet, but Mew’s drained fur was a huge note that I knew to keep in my mind. I must have looked menacing while I thinking about this, as Azu’s sudden giggling fit made me snap out of my thoughts.

“Sorry I lost my cool there. But Magnolia, I thought you were gonna tell me not to look so deep! You look like you’re going to punch a dude,” she said. I couldn’t reply, only blush.

“Don’t the Lopunny always look like that? Pokémon are always giving them the look, after all,” Miles said, snickering as well.

“Oh ha ha. Thanks guys. Just thinking,” I said, rolling my eyes. The sound of commotion took my attention right when we got upstairs, and my body tensed a bit.

“Oh boy, that’s not good,” Azu said, obviously sensing it as well. Miles looked concerned when we bolted out, spotting a crowd of Pokémon gathered around the centre of town.

“She’s at it again!” Miles said, gritting his fangs. We both glanced at him. “The Soulstealer is our only known way out of here. When the Pokémon grow sick of struggling to live down here, their temptations to use it rise. Anne is the latest to succumb to it.”

“Anne… the Gardevoir?” I replied, watching the scene intently. Many Pokémon were pulling a Gardevoir back by her loose ‘dress’, some smaller Pokémon jumping to its arm to try and pull her down, and all the while she shouted and screamed back at them. “Azu, wait here!”

“Oh for goodness—”

“I would recommend it my dear!” Miles said, joining me in sprinting for the battle.

We wound up avoiding a Psychic blast that sent the gathered Pokémon flying, but that seemed to drain Anne’s strength. She crouched and breathed heavily, letting us get close enough to engage her. She looked up at me before I was in hand-to-hand combat range however, so I posed, ready for battle instead.

“Strategy. Use Thunder Wave. Then we’ll take her down,” I said quietly, not looking at him.

“L-leave me alone. I’m so close, all I have to do is use the spear,” Anne said, sounding desperate. “Just let me. It’s just five Pokémon. Just five. I take five, and then I can save everyone. I can save Asor!”

“Asor? Oh right, she’s the Maractus’ mother,” I said, shaking my head.

“And that’s why I’m looking after her,” he replied, shaking his fur to crackle with electricity. Miles leapt forward as he released it, sounding like he was straining hard to do so. The attack still came out well, a pulsing beam of crackling yellow bolts that showered Anne and brought her to her knees again.

The Gardevoir cried out and shivered on all fours, but was still able to look up in rage at her new enemies. Her body flashed a shiny yellow, and then the same shower of bolts that had paralysed her suddenly surrounded Miles, doing the same to him.

“Wait, what?” I gasped.

“Maggy what’re you doing? That’s Synchronize!” Azu shouted from behind me. I glanced back at her. “Just get ‘em while you have the chance!”

“Oh, right. But that’s,” I said, shaking myself off again. I leapt forward to engage Anne, but she got to her feet the moment I was face to face with her, making me change my plans on the fly. I stood on my left leg and spun my body to kick with my right, aiming for the face. She parried it with both arms, only skidding back across the floor a bit. I didn’t give up there though, continuing to spin. Once my right foot hit the ground, that was the foot holding me up, while the left spun into another kick. Again, it was blocked.

I couldn’t keep spinning forever and styled into various punches and kicks, but each one was blocked by careful parries that kept me a safe distance away. This Gardevoir had good fighting experience.

At least until she hovered backward and thrust a palm at me, obviously intending to release a psychic type attack. I guarded my face with the fluff of my arms, only to not take any hit at all. She kept thrusting that palm, becoming increasingly panicked as no move came out.

She can’t use her attacks?” I thought, half expecting it to be a fluke and the move to come out when I let my guard down.

“N-no. This is why I need the Soulstealer!” she cried, turning her back on me. I reacted right away and leapt forward, tackling her to the ground. She fought under me, screaming and cursing as I pulled her arms into a lock.

“Gah- calm down already! So- strong!” I growled, getting kicked all over. She got an arm free and rolled out of my grip, throwing herself back around to engage me. I didn’t give chase though, keeping my distance safe as I strafed her.

“Uncle Miles!” Asor cried out, distracting us both. The little Maractus bounced toward the fight, having to push through the crowd of Pokémon completely to lean over Miles. The paralysed Shinx growled at her, but she ignored it, putting her hands together to use a move of her own. Aromatherapy came out, curing Miles’ paralysis within seconds.

Wait a minute. For a paralysed Gardevoir, she sure can move,” I realised, glaring at Anne again. She seemed completely distracted by Asor. “Thunder Wave didn’t paralyse her properly, but it still activated Synchronize, which managed to paralyse an electric type Pokémon. It’s like all the rules have gone loopy.

“I told you to wait in the safety!” Miles snarled at her.

“I-I know. B-but I snuck out and saw all the fighting and… M-Mum. I can’t just sit here when Mum’s in trouble. We all have to do our best,” she said, trying to make fists with her arms.

“Th-that’s right. Tell them, honey. Asor, if they let me—”

“Just stop, Mum!” Asor cried, taking the lead. “I won’t let you hurt anyone. We’re all in this together. If you use the weapon, you’ll hurt lots of Pokémon!”

Anne growled at her child, then at me, and then shifted away. “These Pokémon are going to die anyway. We’re all going to die unless someone does something. And I’m going to be that Pokémon! Their sacrifices will grant us all safety.”

“No! We’re all going to get out of here together,” Asor cried.

“If it’s any consolation,” I said, getting Anne’s attention. “I am detective Magnolia. I was appointed to take on this case, so me and my partners are hard at work solving it. I promise I’ll find a way to get everybody out. No sacrifices, no one dying.”

Anne glared at me with fury all over her face. It looked like she was going to pounce on me like a feral Persian, but Azu, Miles, and Asor joining my side made her hesitate. She eventually roared up into the air and sprinted off, falling over her own feet a moment later. She got right up before anyone could help, disappearing into the distance.

“Is she going to be alright? She sounded really intent on drawing that weapon,” Azu asked. She had her staff out.

“I did tell you she’d lost it. But come. That was not what I intended to show you,” Miles replied, walking off. We were confused by his lack of concern for what had just happened or the clean-up of it.

Then again, glancing back at the Soulstealer, maybe he was right to show how much he didn’t care about anything related to it. This weapon obviously had something special about it that would make easy work of taking the life of another. And if a Pokémon like Anne was giving into her temptations to use it, then the town was on the verge of suffering five murders.

Those murders could happen at night when Pokémon were trying to sleep. Someone could’ve taken advantage of that fight there to kill five Pokémon in one swoop, too. Someone with psychic powers could even use it from a distance, and we might not even realise. My face tightened at those thoughts, and a hefty foreboding began to smother my heart.

As long as we were here, nowhere was safe.

A little while later, I realised that Miles was leading us back into the cave with the turrets. We walked in silence, but for me, it was getting over the thoughts of how difficult this was becoming. I was getting hungry and tired, and the dead surroundings had taken their toll on me.

“You know, many Pokémon have already taken and used the Soulstealer. Whenever someone takes it, the townspokémon give it their all to take that Pokémon down and then return it. But they don’t always get out unscathed,” Miles said, not looking at us.

“I’m guessing there’s no first aid down here. No healers, either,” Azu said.

“Even if there were, I doubt they would have the power to help,” he replied. We straightened up in concern. “I am no scientist, but I’m believing the lance has the power to cut through the anything. Its power is the fearsome. I’ve seen steel types torn through like fleshy bugs.”

Me and Azu went into thought poses, hands by our mouths. “Worse still, the Pokémon who dares to take it up seems to lose their sense of will. My hunch tells me that it is an accursed weapon that turns its wielder into a demon.”

This just doesn’t add up. A weapon that can cut through anything, and Venusaur wants someone to kill five other Pokémon with it. Why? This can’t be all some crazed vision of a religious extremist. And then there’s that battle, and Mew.

“By any chance, when a Pokémon uses the Soulstealer, can they use their Pokémon attacks?” Azu asked.

Miles turned back to her with a frown. He looked like he didn’t want to answer until he saw concern on her face. “I can’t confirm that. But the Pokémon that pick it up do get a case of the missing colours.”

I had to take a moment to realise what he meant. “You mean like what Venusaur did to us? When he hit us with Giga Drain, our fur turned colourless.”

“In case you’re wondering, Mew never picked up the weapon,” he said. “Asor found the Mew by the lake one day. We found it like that.”

“But Mew isn’t dead,” Azu said, becoming even more intense.

“Notes taken, but where are we headed?” I asked, concerned about how close we were getting to the area with the turrets. Miles didn’t hesitate, walking right across the thin pathway.

“Just follow him you klutz,” Azu said, shoving me.

“Wait but—” I stumbled over, forcing myself to keep balance. We stopped at the gap in the rocks again.

“We’re going to climb to the peak. If we can get there and back without any problems, we’ll be back in time for a meal.”

“The… peak? Wait, what?” I replied.

“I can make my way to the peak of the Rapture. But up there is something I absolutely cannot get past. You won’t be able to, either. But I still feel like this is invaluable information for you. As a fellow detective, I know how important it is for you two to see this for yourselves,” he replied.

“Woo. Ominous foreboding. Like we haven’t had enough of this,” Azu said. “How about some good news? What do we eat?”

“Nutrients in their rawest form. Or… meat. Rationed from the unfortunate.”

“Can’t believe I wish I didn’t ask about food.”

Miles started by climbing through the gap, keeping all fours pressed up against the rocks to his sides. He glanced back at us, a more serious than usual look on his face. “You must follow me and my actions perfectly, now. Right the down to the very timing. Otherwise, you will get us all killed. That includes walking on all the fours.”

“That’s fine. Magnolia knows a thing or two about doggystyle,” Azu smiled. I gave her a weird look.

“Doggystyle? What?”

“You are so innocent sometimes that it’s hard to believe you’re considered an ace detective,” she giggled, following after Miles. I shook myself off and made sure I went before her, trying to copy Miles’ shape as best as I could.

He waited until we were directly behind him before moving, and every time he did, we had to move so that we were right behind him. I felt a little awkward crawling on all fours this close behind a Shinx, but given what would happen if I didn’t, I put aside any pride and did it anyway. What was more concerning was that he didn’t walk straight, or a zigzag, or in any coherent direction for that matter. It was almost like he was timing his moves to avoid something, something I couldn’t see because of the mist.

Said mist only got thicker as we progressed, too. At one point I couldn’t even see the rocks where we’d started this dangerous task. At another point, we were right below one of the turrets, but he ordered us not to dare touch it. We didn’t even speak.

Reaching the end of this room revealed that I’d been holding my breath for an unhealthy length of time and hadn’t realised it. We weren’t out of the mist yet, but he did signal that we could stand properly. Before I could ask questions, he sprinted through the arch shaped tunnel and down the stony hall that awaited us, stopping before heading into the next room.

“Up there,” he said, backing up. I spotted an open air vent just before he leapt into it, impressed to see him jump that high. Reaching that was no problem for bunny Pokémon like me and Azu, but if we were going through the vent, that meant more crawling. I sighed, already sick of it.

“Is it safe to talk?” Azu asked, speaking quiet.

“Fart and you’ll definitely kill us all,” he responded. I leaned back and hit my head, cursing under my breath. “That was a jest. Best to focus.”

That was an answer enough for me. Another few minutes of shuffling through this tight space and we eventually reached another open spot in the vent, this one showing evidence of having been kicked open.

“Good. No one patrols here,” Miles said, hopping down. This time we landed in a very sterile looking corridor, a white and grey themed area that was so clean and shiny that I slipped a bit upon landing.

“What is all this?” I asked, completely taken aback. Azu cleared her throat, making me focus. I caught her with ease, earning a smile.

“I’ve not been able to the figure that out yet, besides the obvious. It is definitely the laboratory. But what they experiment with here, nothing. I have even stayed here for upwards of twenty-four hours. I saw not a soul enter or leave,” Miles said.

I started swaying habitually. “A laboratory in a place like this, seemingly unused. Is it just because you can’t gain access to it?”

He blinked at me, then waved to get us to follow. A little walk around a corner or two brought us to an enormous containment chamber made of stone, which had a checker pattern of perfectly cuboid rock on all sides. Half was rock, the other half was nothing, allowing us to see what was inside the chamber.

A white sphere that was sparkling with shimmering, snowy energy. Particles and glitter orbited the sphere in several streams, creating a mesmerizing pattern across its surface. But the sphere was the slightest bit transparent, just enough to see that there was something inside. A symbol. A lightning bolt symbol with a button in the centre.

“Looking at that doesn’t make me feel too good,” Azu gurgled, falling back all of a sudden, I caught her, making her gasp and get a hold of herself.

“You okay? If you’re tired, please say.”

“I… I am. I just… that sphere,” she huffed, leaning on the checker stones.

“What’ve you got?”

She paused for a moment, and then leaned back in fright. “Gods, no that’s- shoot, I…”

“Azu, speak to us,” I said. She looked left and right anxiously before moaning and leaning back a bit, having to have me catch her again. “Azu!”

“I just… damn it, I mistimed,” she breathed out, one hand on her belly, the other wiping her forehead. “Magnolia, the egg.”

It took me a moment to register what she just said. “What, are you for real? But it’s only been a few days!”

“Azurill eggs can form rather quickly. The child’s not due, but,” she said, huffing every now and then. She pushed me aside and stood on her own, using her staff to help her. “I can’t lay the egg here. It’s way too stressful.”

I shuddered, about to lose my mind. In a way, this was a crisis I would have to think on my feet for, something that wasn’t new to me. If Azu was due, then we needed to get out of here, or at least back to the Ark. She could make it that far, but we’d need to leave, and now. I nodded to myself, standing tall.

“Miles. We need to get back,” I called out.

“No. You need to see this!” he shouted back with astounding enthusiasm. Me and Azu glanced at each other and bounced over, spotting him hiding before an open door.

I hid with him, Azu taking the opposite side of the doorway, and then snuck a glance inside the next room. A tall, oakwood desk, sliding windows, generic indoor plants, a human computer, several papers and files neatly sorted and stacked on the desk… someone’s office for sure. There were two more doors to the room, one on the left and the other on the right, both oakwood to match the desk with twisty doorknobs. The doorknobs were at the height perfect for a human. The more I looked, the more my heart sped up, recognising the alien appearance of all the familiar items before me.

And then I realised what had Miles so worked up. The windows led right outside and were at ground level. We were seconds from escaping, and with the room empty, it was within our grasp.

“That’s not a projection, that’s not a painting, either. Wh-what’re we waiting for? Let’s get out of here!” I said, standing up. Miles didn’t follow.

“It’s a way out for us, but this is the concerning. The human that is normally at work here has never once left this post. I don’t the sense any security, either.”

“Then take the opportunity?” Azu said.

He shook his head. “I took on this case and promised the Pokémon I would help them escape. I can’t leave this job. Not after I’ve been here for so long. I can’t leave the Asor… You have your predicament, though. Go, and aid me from the outside.”

“Miles,” she said, going quiet. And thank the almighty I did. My ears picked up the sound of footsteps so close by that I almost freaked out, half expecting the source to have snuck up on us from behind. “Wait, someone’s coming! Hide!”

Not even a moment later, a figure came through the door on the left. It was a he at first glance, a tall man with a dry, middle-aged look to his face. He had scruffy grey hair and clothing considered elaborate. Black, straight, and protective, covering him from neck to wrist and all else.

Someone came in behind him. Another man, this one supported by a wheelchair. The second man was easily double the age of the first, possessing dead, white hair, a loose-fitting lab coat, and noticeably bushy eyebrows.

This went from zero to a hundred, fast. If they walk over here, this could be it,” I told myself, sweating. A quick glance at Miles told me he was just as intense, keeping himself hidden but ready to pounce at any time. Azu however, she was calm. She had her head bowed and both ears straight up, one hand helping to keep them from flopping. She was listening to them with everything she had.
Last edited:


Competitive Mijumaru


The two men walked around the desk like machines following a pattern, stopping in place on either side. The standing man pulled out a chair as if to sit on it, but after a little silent snicker at his handicapped companion, slid the chair back in. He leaned on the desk with one hand instead, keeping a confident smile on his face.

“Why have you brought me here?” the older man in the wheelchair asked. His voice reflected his age, although it had a certain energy to it. He may have required a wheelchair, but he had enthusiasm and a high tone.

“Can’t I offer you a drink? Perhaps a charger for your chair? It would be a shame for you to have come here and not stay a while,” the standing man replied. He was a lot deeper and louder, the perfect voice for giving a speech.

“I am a busy man, Professor Vine. And I don’t have much time to spend here.”

“Of course you don’t. I suppose you can go expend your retirement years interviewing kids for Pokémon journeys. It isn’t like any of them are going to come back with a complete ‘dex before you kick the bucket,” Professor Vine said, shrugging as he slowly spun around. He came to a halt and twisted the other way, pointing at the older man. “But with my work, you might just be able to get that done before your time is up.”

The old man didn’t respond, prompting Vine to continue. “You’ve said time and time again that it’s your dream to make a complete encyclopaedia on every Pokémon in existence. That dream led to you creating the Pokédex. Such a miraculous marvel of technology, Oak! So much so that your technology was taken and upgraded in every region across the planet.”

Vine slammed his hand on the desk again, going back to that snide smile. “But now you’re too old to do it. To go out there and catch ‘em all.”

“I’m afraid I didn’t come here for a reminder of my life story,” Oak said, showing the tiniest bit of tensing up.

“Ah, but this is the point of my meeting with you. That I’ve done it. I’ve made my own upgrade. An upgrade that will change the revolution you’ve created. An upgrade that will allow even you to get back in the ring,” Vine replied. He kept staring, but Oak made no move or anything. “… Jesus, professor. Would it kill you to at least show some interest or excitement?”

If anything, that line prompted Oak to remain the same. He didn’t even move his hands, but one was on the control stick of his wheelchair, earning a sigh from Vine. “Fine, I’ll move this along.”

Vine slipped an arm under his side of the desk and flicked an unseen switch which soon caused the wall behind him to open up. The floor moved as well; the corner of the room rearranging itself to reveal a hidden storage.

My eyes thinned at the contraption that came from that hidden wardrobe. A high-tech, robotic suit of armour that was the perfect fit for a human of average height. With a shiny, metallic, orange and yellow theme across the board, the sleek design of the suit looked like it was made for a comfortable trip through outer space or something. Despite its comforting curves, it looked more than capable of providing protection as well. The knees and shoulders were jagged, while even the helmet boasted a tinted green visor, the whole thing looking tougher than a Tyranitar.

What was most eye-catching was the utility, however. What looked like jet boosters were very neatly and cleverly fitted into the back of the armour, while the right arm was one large, army-green cannon of some sort. Lined with neon slits glowing with energy, I could already picture what futuristic attack would come out of it.

“What is this?” Professor Oak asked, leaning forward as if to stand.

“Only the culmination of my research and development over the past two decades. This is the masterpiece of a creation that will revolutionize the Pokémon world the very same way your Pokédex did twenty-odd years ago,” Vine said, walking around it to show off. “A helmet containing the most advanced computerized neural-technology known to mankind, for scanning and observing terrain and bio forms. Sleek, energy powered barrier armour for ease of design and exploration. As long as you’ve got battery in an energy tank, this thing can take Hyper Beams from whatever legendary you want to pit it against.”

Battle armour?” I guessed in my mind.

“Jet thrusters in the feet and back that’re powered by kinetic prompt. Jump, and you will be propelled to any height you desire. And last but not least, the arm cannon. A multi-universal tool capable of firing energy tech in any shape that I desire. Grappling hooks, missiles… Pokémon attacks. With this, you can fire any projectile Pokémon attack you desire,” Vine said, stretching his arms out. “I call it the Varia Suit. It is the end result of—”

“What is the purpose of this contraption?” Professor Oak asked, an easily noticeable uncertainty in his voice.

“This is no mere ‘contraption’, Oak. Wear this, and you can access anywhere in the world. Traverse mountains, explore the ocean… even fly through outer space. No matter where you take the suit, you can fight off anything with its energy powered weapons. Like a Pokémon. As if you are a Pokémon. Wear this, and you will never have to rely on a Pokémon ever again.”

“I have no need for this monstrosity of an idea,” Oak replied, turning his chair.

“Professor Vine, if everything you say about this suit is true, then do you have any idea of what you have truly created?”

Vine smiled, an unsettlingly giddy smile. “It’s just like Mewtwo, isn’t it? That’s what you’re worried about. We created the world’s strongest Pokémon, expected it to do our bidding, and then its powers grew beyond our control.”

Oak went quiet again, but his gaze was tightening and sharpening. Vine only snickered under his breath. “But this is all neural controlled. You step into the suit and you gain a new life. You become a hunter behind a visor. Everything of its power is under your control. Never again do we need to rely on the limitations that Pokémon have, as the living beings they are. We can become the Pokémon.”

“The only people in this world who would ever have any need for a thing like this are those who do not understand what Pokémon have done for us as humans advancing through life.”

“Don’t try and lump me with some Team Rocket scoundrel like I want to rule the world or some rubbish,” Vine hissed. “You send children as young as ten years old on lifelong journeys to catch and train Pokémon. It screams danger, yet you do it, all so that you can one day have a complete Pokédex. But with this technology, we can complete the Pokédex without having to do that. No longer will we ever have to capture a Pokémon and force it to dedicate its life to our cause. That is why I created the Varia Suit, Professor Oak. So that you can achieve your dream on your own.”

The dead-haired professor shut his eyes and calmed his breathing, keeping still. His eyes opened when Vine kept talking.

“It is nearly complete. With my knowledge of Pokémon powers and attacks, I am doing everything I can to gather the raw essence of attacks. Once a good number of these powers have been loaded into the arm cannon, I can begin testing the weapon. I would like you to see the Varia Suit in action. See its potential, how safe it is. Then with it, we can change the world.”

“Is this really everything you’ve been working on since you quit Silph Corporation?” Oak asked.

Vine’s face shifted to one of fire. “I didn’t ‘quit’ Silph Co. Those bastards at Silph stole my technological breakthrough and fired me. I created the Technical Machine, their shitty attempts to follow up created the Hidden Machine. Those flimsy excuses for technology hurt Pokémon so much they couldn’t even forget the moves that they taught. They couldn’t even hope to understand how to extract Pokémon powers into a raw form the way I can!”

“… What really happened?” Professor Oak asked, facing his comrade again. Vine sighed, going back to leaning on his desk.

“I remember how angry I was that day. I succeeded in creating the technical machine, and I was so overjoyed that I showed everyone around the labs. But I soon learnt in practice that my device for teaching Pokémon moves gave them great strain. It forced them to limit their memories, reducing the number of attacks they could utilize. Some of the machines were so flawed that some Pokémon would never be able to forget the attacks the machines taught. Such traumatizing effects could never be released to the public.”

Vine sighed again, finally pulling that chair out to sit on it. He held his forehead with one hand, while the other flicked and twirled with irritation. “I kept working on them, but the higher ups at Silph must’ve started mass-producing the TMs as they were. I eventually came up with the blueprints for a better device, one that could allow us humans to use the attacks of Pokémon. If that strain was on us, it wouldn’t be as bad. I wanted to save the Pokémon; I swear it. I never stopped thinking about them while I worked.”

“What did you do?” Oak asked, still calm.

“I presented my blueprints to the head of Silph. Not only did he argue with me about the worth of the suit, he fired me there and then. He knew that they could sell the TMs for far more profit since the TMs could only store one move. And with each one being single use, it’d be an easily monopoly of the Pokémon training market. I was kicked out onto the streets of Saffron City that night, and my research stayed there with the company.” Vine said, his livid gaze returning. “But I’d never forget the pain I saw the TMs put Pokémon through. I had to right the wrong. So I did everything I could, and over two decades later, here I am.”

“Please, Professor Oak. Your approval is all I need to know that my intentions are in the right. With this suit, we can free Pokémon from human exploitation. Young people can dedicate themselves to education, as they should. Pokémon can go back to being free in nature, unbound by sporty battles and forced breeding.”

“The things that you are missing are what Pokémon have done for society, Vine. People and Pokémon dedicate their lines to one another, and in turn, harmony is established,” Oak explained, his face stern. He folded his arms. “The existence of hunters, evil gangs, those who misuse Pokémon, all of that is but a natural balance between the darker side of nature and the good of mankind. Without the existence of drastic evil such as Team Rocket, we would not have those who stand against evil, such as Red. And Red did not fight against the threat of the rockets alone. His Pokémon gave him the power to do so. It was their determination together that allowed him to become the legendary trainer he is today.”

“This is another chapter in the creation of legendary people like Red.”

“One that steps too far outside of the bounds of the harmony we’ve created. The potential this suit has is far greater than a pokéball. If mankind had a means to conquer life, this is it,” Oak said, raising his voice and glaring at Professor Vine right in the eyes. “Cease and desist this instant, Vine. Destroy that suit and everything you have relating to it. We cannot afford to have such technology in the eyes of the public.”

Vine stood up to retaliate, but turned away instead. “I see,” he said, shaking his head. He took in a sharp breath and gave the older professor a livid glare. “It threatens you. That’s why you don’t want it. You’re not thinking about the Pokémon either, but your income. If kids didn’t have to come to you to become trainers, your pension will disappear in a flash.”

“Do not let your past experiences blind you, professor. You are far too intelligent for that,” Oak said. “HMs are a thing of the past. TMs are now reusable. Their infrastructure has been updated greatly to better the lives of Pokémon. The need we have for this suit by far under weighs the risk it brings to the world.”

“Don’t think about the negative potential. Think about what we can do!”

“As leading minds in the creation of Pokémon technology, we cannot allow that kind of thinking, Professor Vine.”

“Fine then!” Vine shouted, swiping an arm aside. Silence fell between the two, but they were visibly breathing heavy. While Oak didn’t move, Vine was shuddering, fighting an urge to retaliate. “You can get out.”

“Think about the circumstances, Vine. The danger that this suit can cause is precisely why I believe that it is better that it doesn’t exist,” Oak said. “Dedicating your life to the betterment of Pokémon and the convenience of humans is honourable, but there are better ways to do so.”

“I don’t need your judgement anymore.”

“Think about it,” Professor Oak said, turning his chair around. He made his way to leave, but he had to wait for Vine to open the door so that he could drive his wheelchair out.

Now that he was alone, Vine shut the doors of the room, including the one that we had been eavesdropping through. I could still hear the room rearranging though, indicating that he was hiding the Varia Suit again.

We still didn’t move from our spot outside the room, but that was more because my mind was racing rather than being afraid of being discovered. For starters, humans were definitely behind this whole situation. But it also sounded like there was more to their reasoning than a few misguided religious ideals.

The look on Azu’s face was one I’d seen countless times before. Her thoughts were coming to a huge breakthrough, and she wanted to talk an evening away with them. For some reason, this created a hefty fear in my heart, a baseless foreboding of something dreadful to come.
Last edited:


Competitive Mijumaru


“Alright. He’s finally the gone,” Miles said, and I let out a breath. Azu did the same, though she warily stood tall to look around before relaxing.

“We don’t have much time though. Let’s get out of here,” I said. Azu raised a hand.

“Listening to all that, I think I might’ve cracked this whole case already. But I have to be sure. When we get back, let me check some things out, won’t you?” she said. Miles blinked at her.

“Do you mean to say that you’re not leaving?” he asked.

“Wait, what? Of course we are—”

“No we’re not. Not when I’m onto something,” she said, going straight faced.

“Azu, we can get out of here. We need to move now.”

“We said we’d help these Pokémon. We can’t do that if we leave.”

“But your egg! We can at least get you to safety and then come back?”

“How can we come back if leave? I’m the only one who can do this,” she argued, raising her voice with a shrill squeak when I tried to argue. “Damn it Magnolia, this isn’t the time to worry about me. I know I’m due and all that, but this is way more important. Besides, I have a plan, and I need you to be with me on it. You just have to trust me!”

I took in a breath for a hasty reply, but hesitated. “Let us hear it, then I’ll decide.”

“Let me look at the Soulstealer. If what I heard—”

“I already don’t like it.”


“You’re risking so much by not leaving now. Please, just let’s get you to safety and let the other authorities handle it. We can report everything to Dogi, he’ll probably put your plan into practice,” I said, clenching a fist.

“Oh be serious. We’re the only ones who can do this. Well, I am, anyway. Those other sorry excuses for scientists won’t even understand what I’m on about,” she replied, rolling her eyes. “Look, Magnolia. I’m not gonna be happy if I just leave these Pokémon behind if I know I can help them. But even then, I’m taking this risk because I know you’re a worrywart that’s going to take care of me when it matters.”

“Listen to yourself for a moment,” I said, freezing up. There was a pause.

“Alright. If that’s how you want to be, then fine. I’m staying here, like it or not. You can be petty little princess in distress and run away.”

“Nothing I say is going to convince you to do anything sane, is it?”

“That’s what you got when you decided to marry me,” she said, shrugging and twirling around. “But on a serious note, I don’t have to fight or do anything athletic. Egg in my tummy or not, I’ll be fine so long as you do your part. Please, you just have to trust me, Magnolia.”

I sighed deeply, shutting my eyes. My heart began to hurt like it was swelling in my chest and falling into my stomach. That sick feeling killed my voice, but not enough to stop me from forcing myself to reply. “Alright. What’ve you got?”

“Let’s walk,” Azu said, marching back the way we came. She stopped to look at the sphere of light in the checker cage, laying a hand on the wall. “I’m sure of it. That’s the essence of Pokémon power that Vine mentioned.”

“That big orb?” Miles replied.

“So I’ll start by making a connection between what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard,” she said, continuing the march. “That guy invented Technical Machines, which Pokémon can absorb into their brains to learn new Pokémon attacks. But he mentioned his understanding of the essence of Pokémon attacks, which leads me to believe that that’s how TMs work.”

“Did you find a TM when we weren’t looking or something?” I asked.

“Oh I wish. It’s just that if he understands how to extract essence and play around with it enough to make something like a TM, then I imagine he can do a lot of other stuff with it, like making a suit that can fire Pokémon attacks.”

“… That is what that machine was, the yes,” Miles said.

“But he said it wasn’t finished. That he didn’t have the attacks for it. So he must’ve gathered Pokémon that he could extract the essence from.”

I came out a thinking pose, my eyes widened. “Father Venusaur. That wasn’t a Giga Drain that stopped me from using Quick Attack.”

“Right. Vine knows how to physically drain power from Pokémon. Father Venusaur must’ve been a machine that does that and traps us down here, where we have to use the Soulstealer to get out.”

“And if the Soulstealer was made of the essence of Pokémon attacks, it would be capable of dealing major damage to any Pokémon. Miles, you even said it can make short work of steel types,” I said, glancing at the Shinx, who nodded. “But then, why use the Soulstealer? Does the Soulstealer drain abilities from Pokémon?”

“It must do. When you fought Anne, she couldn’t use Psychic correctly. Her Synchronize ability barely activated, which ignored Miles’ latent electric typing and paralysed him. But it isn’t like we absolutely do not have our powers. If Venusaur could cripple us enough to get us down here, then the Soulstealer would do the rest,” she explained.

I went back to rubbing my chin. “But if his TMs make use of the essence of Pokémon attacks, then why not use those? Why result to forcing us to murder each other with his weapon?”

“To gain the abilities as well. Let’s say I took the Soulstealer. He’d gain the essence of Thick Fat, Huge Power, all of my attacks, and then the attacks and abilities of the five Pokémon I kill with the Soulstealer. I serve my usefulness to Vine, so his Venusaur lets me out of the Ark.”

“So there’s that. What does this have to do with getting the everybody out?” Miles asked, taking the lead as we were nearing the air vent.

“Because I understand the essence of Pokémon attacks as well. If my theories on Vine’s technology are correct, then that means I can reverse-engineer the Soulstealer itself,” Azu said, raising a hand. “If I can work with it, I can make it so that it gives Pokémon back their essence. We can then use it to awaken Mew.”

“And with Mew’s power, we can definitely get the out of here,” Miles said. He was smiling a bit, the first time I saw him smile since we met him here.

“Plus, the Soulstealer becomes a weapon we can safely use. We storm the Rapture, destroy his Varia Suit, and we’re free. But that last part is where you come in, Magnolia. I couldn’t possibly fight in this state.”

“This is assuming I’m any good with a spear,” I groaned. “You’re lucky I am.”

I know you are, hun.”

“… I know you aren’t happy about the circumstances, but I’m jealous of your wife, Magnolia,” Miles said.

“Excuse me?”

“A male with such a capable female is the dream come true. You’ll come to respect it in time.”

“C’mon now, Miles. That’s a bit much. If the circumstances were any different, I’d be leaving, too,” she replied, her tone shifting. That got a smile out of me.

“Okay, something we haven’t really thought about,” I brought up as we neared the town. “How do we convince Pokémon that we’ll be okay with you handling the Soulstealer?”

“I’m sure that ‘problem’ will right itself. Besides, you know what happens when someone picks that thing up,” Azu replied, picking up the pace. “We don’t have much time. Will you assist me?”

“You’re getting right to work?” I asked, eyes widened. “Don’t you want to eat first? We haven’t eaten since we got here, after all.”

“It didn’t sound like you had a very good menu to choose from. But if there is something I’ll like, bring it to me, will you?” she replied, ignoring everything else around. I actually snickered a bit, having to skip to keep up with her.

“You always get like this when your mind is set. I know you’re excited to work on this, but this is the Soulstealer we’re talking about here. Pokémon are going to look at you.”

“I’m an overweight Azumarill. Everyone looks at me anyway.”

“Oh why’d you bring that up here?” I groaned, catching sight of the other Pokémon already coming out of their homes to watch us. They must have heard me mention the weapon, and of course, Azu was heading right towards it. I almost stopped her, but I was convinced I could get them to see reason. Especially if it turned out Azu was right and we had our way out of here.

But when we reached the stone the Soulstealer was sealed in, someone was already there. Azu didn’t seem to realise that Anne was there until she was face to face with the Gardevoir, the Soulstealer being the only thing that separated them. Azu had to look at up her wavering, panicked eyes, but she refused to flinch. In fact, she kept an eager smile on her face, blinking at Anne.

“If you’ll allow me, I have a way out of here,” Azu began. “But it involves using this. Will you let me have it?”

“Have you too, seen reason? That you have to make sacrifices?” Anne replied.

“No sacrifice on my part. I’m the world’s greatest scientist – and to prove it, I’m going to take this thing apart and turn it into our saving grace,” she said, stretching her arms out. She spun around to address the crowd that had gathered, prompting me to do the same. “That’s right everyone! Thanks to me and Detective Magnolia, we’ve figured out a way to end this suffering. We’re going to set you all free!”

“So much for the clarity,” Miles snickered.

“But I will need a bit of time. Perhaps a day or two. I’ll work right here where all of you can see me. And if the Soulstealer turns me into a monster, feel free to strike me down.”

“Wait wait wait we didn’t talk about this—”

“That’s your job right now, Magnolia. Keep me safe until I turn into a monster. If I do, it’s up to you to finish the job,” Azu said. She drew an arm back and then thrust it, vigorously clutching the lance.

“Azu!” I cried, sticking a hand out.

Even Anne was surprised to see Azu’s bold move. The moment she grabbed the lance, she let out a screech and arched back, grabbing her arm with her free hand to keep it from detaching. She went from screeching to struggling with moans that reeked of oncoming death, her voice weakening at a scary pace. Her fur was turning white all over as her stance wavered toward the floor. I was afraid to touch her until I saw that, and grabbed her to help keep her standing.

Amongst her struggles, she gave me a cocky smile. Thanks to my aid, she was able to grip the Soulstealer with both hands, and then yanked it straight upwards with a cry of effort. The blade flashed as it came loose, its clear colour fluttering with streams of glistening, snowy particles as it came into shape.

Azu was left heaving for breath, managing no better than two dry gasps before she fell forward. There was an attempt to use the Soulstealer to help her stand, but even that was fruitless, and she fell face flat into my grip, dropping the lance in the process.

“Azu? Azu?” I raised my voice, shaking her. I flipped her around, but her eyes were shut. Her colour slowly returned along with her breathing. “Hey, don’t mess about. Azu!”

“It looks like she underestimated its draining effects,” Miles said, walking around us. I glanced at him and then Anne, surprised to see the Gardevoir calmly pick up the Soulstealer with her psychic powers. She just stabbed it back into the earth, backing off.

“You don’t just pick up the Soulstealer and play with it. For ‘the world’s greatest scientist’, she sure is a child,” Anne said. My gaze tightened. “You wield it, it takes your powers, and then you become a merciless killing machine. Only a Pokémon with powerful control over their emotions like myself could control themselves after taking it up.”

“You didn’t tell us about this? What’s going to happen to Azu?” I shouted.

“She figured it out, didn’t she? That’s why she warned you to strike her down,” Miles replied. I growled. “She failed to even keep a hold of it, though. I would like to believe that she just doesn’t have the strength.”

“Gods,” I whispered, looking at her in my arms.

“Just come back to mine. She will be awake in a few hours.”

And what an excruciating few hours that was. The best I had to nurse her was the floor and what spare weeds and smooth soil Asor could bring us from outside. The humidity caused by the candles was uncomfortable down in Miles’ house as well, while the dark ceiling kept me down. Yet I sat and waited by her the whole time, legs crossed and hands finding things to occupy themselves with.

“Mister Magnolia? The Pokémon brought you and Azu dinner,” Asor’s upbeat voice broke through my thoughts. She bounced over with a sack in hand, placing it by the two of us. “It’s extra good this time! So Azu will be happy when she wakes up.”

“Thank you. Have you eaten yours already?” I asked.

“Yep! I made sure I ate everything. And you have to make sure you eat everything, too. Otherwise you’ll go hungry,” she said, almost teasing me. The mere mention of food reminded me that I hadn’t touched a morsel since I was knocked down here however. I was probably sick from hunger, and my attempt to stand only evidenced that. It didn’t even feel comfortable to leave the sitting position, so I just leaned over and took a look in the bag instead.

Tropius fruits. The banana shaped fruits were known for their sweetness and crunch, and if the Tropius they came from were healthy, they’d taste even better. If a Tropius was living down here for a while, then this was probably the best I was going to get regardless of how healthy it managed to stay.

I retrieved one, hesitantly gazed at it, and then took a bite. Those bites turned into chomps, and then chokes when the whole thing was gone.

“M-Mister Magnolia!” Asor cried. I pushed her back and patted myself, steadying my breathing.

“Sorry about that. Was hungrier than I thought,” I huffed, looking in the bag again. Four Tropius fruit left and a strange bundle of greens. They weren’t weeds, so I assumed they were edible. They didn’t look it, though. “I’ll take one more and leave the rest for Azu.

I looked back at Asor, realising that she was watching me intently. She was smiling though, a little goofily. “You don’t have to call me Mister, by the way. Just Magnolia is fine.”

“I-I… Mum and Uncle Miles said to always do that, though.”

“Well I’m me. And I say it’s fine,” I said, managing to smile as well.

“Hey, er, Mi-Mister- I mean, Magnolia, does Auntie Azu really have a way out of here?”


“You know… I… she said she could get us out, but then she got hurt. All the other Pokémon are talking about it,” she said, looking away. “I-I mean I’m happy if she really can save everyone, but if she has to get hurt, too, then I don’t want it. N-not in a selfish way or anything, I swear!”

I blinked. They say that children are smarter than adults would like, but only because they’re observant and their memories are better. Part of me wanted to be patronizing and brush it off with an easy ‘sure’, but a bigger part of me was saying to be honest. I glanced at the resting Azumarill, not catching any hint of advice. She was sound asleep.

“We have a theory that’s very likely. But she needs to be strong enough to pick up the Soulstealer for it to work. She got really far, but she fainted right after picking it up.”

“Do you think I can help, then?”

“No way. I’m not letting a little kid like you even get near it.”

“But I don’t need to get near it. I can power her up with helping Hand and Aromatherapy!”

I rose a hand to object, then paused. Gods, she was right. “You know a lot of supportive Pokémon moves like that, don’t you?”

“Mum doesn’t let me battle, but I really want to help her. I don’t like being useless, so yeah, I did my best to use moves that could help,” she said, looking away. “When we fought the Venusaur, she didn’t even let me fight with her. She saved me, but she fell into a trap hole. I could’ve run away, but I… I got scared and jumped after her.”

“Wait a minute. That’s important,” I said quietly, pointing at her. “Venusaur didn’t hit you at all, did he?”

“Na-uh. Mum did a really good job protecting me.”

“Then your powers and abilities are still intact. Completely intact,” I said, standing up. I started pacing, habitually tapping a foot and my chin. “Which means that out of all the Pokémon down here, your moves work perfectly. If you used moves on the Soulstealer, they’d take effect, since it carries the essence of Pokémon abilities and stuff. That means… aha!”

She flinched when I suddenly turned to her, pointing both fingers at her. “Please tell me you know the move Grass Whistle!”

“If the essence of Pokémon attacks and abilities stored within the Soulstealer will enable it to take effect from Pokémon attacks, then it is as if the Soulstealer itself is a Pokémon. With that rule, that means we can weaken the Soulstealer by affecting it with a status effect. Is that what you’re onto?” Azu’s voice said, making us both freeze. We both slowly turned to her, finding her lying back with her eyes still shut as if she was asleep. “Go on. Is that what you think?”

“How long’ve you been awake?” I cried.

“Wow, you thought I could sleep on this rock. Heck no,” Azu said, sitting up. She stretched and scratched herself, giving us both a tired look. “But seriously. Is that your theory?”

“Based on yours, yes. Asor being able to use her moves without restraint is going to be a key to this. I know it,” I said, folding my arms.

“This is something I love about you, you know that? You actually get what I’m talking about when I talk about stuff, no matter what it is,” Azu replied, hopping up to peck me in the cheek. “If the Soulstealer falls asleep, it temporarily stops functioning. This will give me more than enough time to take it apart and work with it.”

“You mean that will actually work?”

“I hadn’t even considered it, you know. But all in theory, yes. We need to try everything. So Asor, honey, you can use Grass Whistle, right?”

“Y-yes Auntie Azu! Yes I can!” Asor chirped.

“Just like Magnolia here, you can drop the ‘auntie’, by the way. We’re your friends,” Azu said. She used the wall to support herself while she stood up, struggling to even take a step.

“Whoa, hey! Sit down and eat and rest. You need it,” I said.

“Just bring the food with me or something. I can’t sit and rest while—”

“You need it,” I said. She met my serious stare with one of surprise, but sat back down. She leaned against the wall, shutting her eyes. “I know you don’t like it, but thank you, still. We’re going to be here for too long to push ourselves beyond health. If we don’t eat and rest when we can, we could only die quicker.”

“No one’s gonna die, though,” Asor replied, looking worried. I realised what I’d just said and reconsidered.

“Besides, Asor brought us food. You’re not going to let her see you on an empty stomach, are you?” I said instead.

Azu opened her eyes and sat forward a bit, snickering at me. “You’re really excited about this child, aren’t you?”

“Wrong deduction. But I see why you’d think that.”

“Excited about a child? About me?” Asor asked, tilting her head.

“No no, me and Magnolia are having a baby,” Azu said, giggling. “I can’t have the egg, though. Not while we’re here. Keeping it like that is making me weaker than I’d like to be.”

“So you admit it,” I said, half-lidded.

“Shut it, smart-ass.”

“Oh, that’s so exciting! I didn’t know you two were that close. That’s so cute! What’re you going to name the baby?” Asor gasped, putting her hands together. Me and Azu’s eyes widened and we glanced at each other.

“You know what? We haven’t even had the chance think about that. It’s going to be an Azurill or a Marill, right?” I said, laughing awkwardly while scratching my head fur.

“M-Marill. Unless something really weird happens and it’s a Buneary,” she said, shrugging. “Hope you’ve got four names for that possibility.”

“I got my fluff full just remembering the names during cases. That one I’m happy to leave on you.”

“Sodium it is. Or if it’s a girl, Ariala.”

“Why does the girl get the normal name, but the boy gets the chemical?”

“I dunno. I’m no good with boys names!”

“U-um, can I say a name, too?” Asor perked up, raising a hand. We both smiled at her. “Your names are colours, right? So what about something like that, too? Something like, er, Jade?”

“Jade?” Azu said. We faced each other again. “… I like it.”

“I er… yeah. That actually works. Jade it is,” I agreed, nodding. “Thank you, Asor.”

She giggled and blushed, rubbing her cheeks.
Last edited:


Competitive Mijumaru


“Is everything in place?” I asked out loud, getting a good look at the area. Quite a few Pokémon had gathered and some of them were still at work, but they raised their thumbs up or whatever they could to signify an OK.

We’d surrounded the Soulstealer in a makeshift tent. Really it was just a thickly sewn web of Galvantula silk, since that’s all that was available. Some Pokémon held it down with Pin Missile pegs, while others cleared the space and acted as guardians. With all that in place, Asor and Azu were brought up close to the weapon, where me and Anne stood opposite.

“If it starts to hurt, hold off and we’ll try again. There’s no reason to force yourself with this,” I said, patting Azu. She nodded and gave me quick peck on the cheek. She downed both ears, keeping both hands cupped around the Soulstealer without actually touching it.

“We’re all okay. Asor, use Grass Whistle, exactly as I taught you,” Anne said, swiping an arm aside.

I watched Asor intently, keeping my own ears pressed down to try and muffle the sound. But I’d have to be deaf or have little notice for music to not be taken away by her little performance. The Maractus shut her eyes and held a thorny wrist by her mouth, using one of the spiked leaves there as her instrument. I was expecting her to sing rather than leaf blow.

She was careful and quiet, too. Almost entrancing to look at. I recognised the song as Oracion, too. The way she played; it was clear that the song meant as much to her as it did the legends attached to it. She was serene, hitting notes perfectly, unmoving to prevent her maraca-like arms from disturbing the tune in any way. I wasn’t supposed to be listening, yet I found myself taking it all in, eyes locked to the young girl and her passionate playing.

When the song finished, I was close to clapping due to how moved I was. If that was the way she used Grass Whistle, then I was a prime target for its secondary effect. I was calmed. Despite what we were doing all this for, any concerns I had vanished, only briefly returning when Azu lifted up her ears.

No one said anything. They all knew the plan and the warnings. With those in mind, I stood back and let her do what she needed to do.

Azu barely hesitated. She planted both hands on the Soulstealer and pulled exactly as she did when she tried to take it the first time. And this time, there wasn’t any pain or slowdown at all. She just pulled it as if it was any old weapon lodged in soil.

“It worked. Gods, it actually worked,” she whispered, resisting getting too excited. Pokémon began to shuffle about and mutter, all concerned that she was handling this dangerous weapon so easily. But she ignored them and got right to work, snapping the lance into three segments. Some previously unseen screws allowed it to do so, showing it was intended to be split into three.

“Azu!” I said, sticking an arm out. She paused, unaffected by it. “Is it…?”

“It’s okay. No effect whatsoever. The Pokémon essence really did prevent its ‘ability’ from working,” she replied. “And now that I’ve taken it apart, it’s totally useless. I can work with this, now.”

“It actually worked? It can’t wake up again or anything?” Asor asked.

“Not until I put it back together and turn it back on. But I don’t intend to put it back until I’ve got it working the way we want it to,” she said, looking up at Asor. She turned to everyone else. “It’s only a matter of time, now.”

“You’re amazing,” I breathed out, a hand on my chest.

“I’m not amazing. You guys’re the amazing ones, figuring that out based on my theories and nothing else,” she cheered. “Especially you, Asor! Where’d you learn Oracion of all things? Using that as Grass Whistle, you’re no ordinary village kid.”

“Ahuh, I just, eep,” the little Maractus giggled, going bright red. “M-mum taught me it. I-I practice when she’s not around.”

“Alright, that’s all, Pokémon. This is not a pantomime,” Miles said, walking around our group. “Let us allow the scientist to work. No the staring. Guards, keep watch from a distance. C’mon now, get moving, back to your duties!”

“Magnolia. You get to stay here if you want,” Azu said, getting to work on the Soulstealer properly. It looked like she was removing parts; small, flat chips that were smaller than my finger. She eventually found and unscrewed a bulb which she proudly held up out to me. “Look at it, I was right!”

“It’s only the size of a candle, but it holds Pokémon essence,” I said, carefully taking it from her. It was a bulb filled with the same snow-white glow that we saw near to Professor Vine’s office. I gave it back to her and she set it down just as carefully.

“So I just have to reconfigure this so that it doesn’t steal the essence from the wielder. If I can get it to do the opposite, we can awaken Mew,” she said, laying out the parts to examine them. She wasn’t even looking at me as she spoke.

“If worse comes to worse, we can use the bulb to energise Mew again too, right?” I suggested.

“Yes. We can do that, too. Part of me believes we’ll need the essence part of this weapon though, so I’ll try not to resort to that,” she said. “Oh, hey. Can you do me a massive favour, though? Hopefully before I finish.”

“You don’t want me to stay with you?”

“I do and I appreciate it. Gives me someone to mumble to. But this is important. Go find out who that Anne Pokémon really is, if you can.”

“So you feel it, too,” I said, tensing up a little.

“Hey I was on the good side of this. An emotional Gardevoir that adopted a kid. Seemed like a reasonably normal, touching tale. But then I heard that the kid knew Grass Whistle, then she started playing Oracion, then when she said she was ‘taught’ the move, it hit me right in the fears.”

“She can’t be an ordinary mother if she’s teaching a child a special move they can’t normally learn. But it could also just be in relation to legend. Asor was pretty good at it,” I said.

“You’re telling me. I wish I could sing that well or something,” she said, eyeing the inside of a lance part. “This is just to be on the safe side at this point. Miles said that she’s mad, and you’ve already had to fight her once. Now she’s hovering around the Soulstealer. I don’t want her to interfere.”

“If you’re sure you’ll be alright,” I said, standing up.

“I’ve got too many Pokémon watching me to come up with anything naughty.”

I rolled my eyes at that remark, but it did put a smile on my face. I looked around before moving anywhere, having my patented investigative senses kick in at full force.

Down here with all these Pokémon from all over, I had limited resources to try and find out about Anne. No backup documents, authority records, or anything us spies could normally fall back on. Just word of mouth.

That said, the Pokémon of interest lit up various colours to me. Asking Anne herself could raise risk if she took my questioning as a challenge, so that was a last resort that came up red. Pokémon like Miles who had had run-ins with her lit up blue, since they could only give me bits about their experience living with her down here. And Asor, if she cooperated, was the gold that had the most history with her. As such, I made my way back to Miles’ home.

When I got there, Anne and Asor were talking outside, making me keep my distance. I didn’t hide or anything, but I stopped to watch them. It wasn’t until Asor noticed and waved me over that Anne dropped their conversation, approaching me with huge, heavy strides.

“You’re not staying with Azu? Isn’t she your wife?” she said. Even her voice was heavy enough to make my chest tighten.

“She prefers doing stuff like this on her own. We’ve both got our ways of doing things,” I said, smiling.

“You’re either a fool or a playboy. Judging from the species, it’s probably the latter.”

“Seriously, everyone’s always on about the Lopunny. Do I seriously look like pervert bait?” I groaned, shrugging and looking away.

Anne’s face tightened. “Take it from someone older than you, the Pokémon who have decades more experience than you. In a place like this and a situation like this, you never know when the last time you could see your loved ones is. If I were you, I would stay by her whenever you can.”

“I appreciate your concern, but we’re in the charge to lead everybody out of here. We’ve both taken it upon ourselves to get some work done.”

She didn’t seem to take that well, her right eye twitching as if irritated. She stared for a moment and then swung an arm, aiming for my face. I caught her hand so quickly it was as if I had read the move perfectly, but really it was just dumb luck. Our eyes never left one another, even as she tried to shift more strength into that arm to make that connection to my face. I retaliated in kind, staring and keeping her arm held back.

Without a word, she gave in. Her crimson eyes kept burning into mine, fusing with a livid frown to keep me on edge. I feared she knew she had won this little confrontation and even though she stomped off after that, leaving me with that metaphorical hole in my chest.

I watched her until she was a blur in the distance. The way she bore into me with her gaze just now, it wasn’t a new experience. It was all too familiar to me, and it defeated me every single time. Between victims of crime and innocent Pokémon, those who I interviewed and had to accuse had always destroyed me from the inside with their words and looks. I had taken to avoiding showing any emotion during interviews as a result, but the experience still left me with zero appetite.

“Mister Magnolia!” Asor called out, taking me back to reality. I shook my head and blinked, surprised to see her looking so sunny about what she’d just seen. She casually swayed side to side, making maraca sounds with her movements.

“Remember, you can drop the ‘Mister’ part,” I said, coming over.

“S-sorry. That’s going to take me a while.”

“Don’t worry about it too much. You’re excited, though.”

“Yes! You and Azu are going to get everyone free. I’m really happy for everyone!”

I knelt down and sat by her, leaning against the side of the house. “Do you mind me asking? How long have you been down here?”

“I… I don’t know. It’s hard to tell the time here. I’m sorta used to it though, so I guess like… a few weeks?”

My heart sunk. The fact that she sounded this cheerful spelt how eager she was to get out of here. “I’m guessing Anne’s been looking after you for longer. And that she’s doing her best here, too.”

“Mum is Mum. I haven’t called anyone else mum, ever,” she said, smiling. She tried to sit back against the wall with me too, but was happier to stand by it instead. “Say, you and Mum aren’t going to fight, are you? I heard you had to fight already.”

I almost cursed, wishing she didn’t drop that one so suddenly. Once again being reminded of how smart kids really are. Knowing I might regret it, I responded sternly. “If she keeps going on the way she is, I might have to. She has to learn to trust me and Azu and avoid using the Soulstealer. It won’t be long until we’re out anyway, so maybe we won’t have to fight.”

“Please try not to hurt her. Trust her, she only wants peace. She really doesn’t mean to hurt anyone,” Asor begged, looking over at the distance. “She’s been through a lot of battles, from way before she had me. She was… I find it hard to believe, but she was in a war.”

“A war?”

“The Kalosian war. She taught me all sorts of things because she said she hates fighting. All my moves, what to do if a feral Pokémon attacks, everything. She… really just wants to protect me.”

History and experience with war… If I’m recalling correctly as well, there was a war that was stopped by Oracion being played on a large instrument. I wonder if that’s the same battle Anne was part of?” I asked myself, scratching my chin. “Sadly, that isn’t how it goes where I work. If she puts us in more danger than we need to be in, me and Azu have the right to apprehend her.”

“… I know,” she moaned, looking down. “I’m sorry, Magnolia.”

“There’s no need to apologize. Everyone’s hungry and on edge. So I just have to ask everyone to be patient for just a little while longer.”

“Of course! I believe in Azu. I know she can do it.”

Although, this at least explains why Anne is so capable in combat. If it wasn’t for Asor stopping us before, I might’ve gotten into a rougher battle than I bargained for,” I told myself, recalling my first fight with the Gardevoir. I glanced at Asor. “You know, Miles played a big part in setting us free, too. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

“Wait really? Wa-wait, yes of course! That’s why he’s always going in and out of the house.”

Yes, Miles took over taking care of Asor. But it looks like that wasn’t a thing that was properly arranged, but more so for the child’s safety…” I thought, standing back up. “Asor… do you mind if I ask a little bit about Anne in the Kalosian war?”

“H-huh? What about it?”

“Just anything you know about it, really. Do you know what she had to do? What side she was on?” I asked. Asor cringed the slightest bit, going quiet and looking away. “Asor?”

“I… I don’t know anything else. Only that she told me she was there,” she replied slowly and quietly.

I took in a deep breath, knowing I would definitely regret this next bit. I knelt down to put my arms beside her. “You have to trust me. I won’t hurt her, I promise.”

She cringed again, but this time, she was making the slightest noises of thought. “Do you promise?”

“I won’t hurt her if I have no right to. That’s the best I can promise.”

“… I found her diary and I read it… but I was scared, so I put it back. I just… I didn’t think it was her. It didn’t seem like her at all.”

“What did you find in it? And when did you read it?”

“This was a while before we fell down here. But it was from her time in that war, I think. She was… she called herself ‘Yveltal’s weapon’ and ‘a messenger of torture’.”

My eyes widened. “She was on Yveltal’s side.

“I don’t know what any of that means, though. But then the stuff she was talking about in the diary… it… it sounded like… it sounded like she really hurt a lot of Pokémon,” she said, hiding her face. “But I can’t picture it. Mum’s only fighting now because she really wants to get out of here. I know she wouldn’t want to fight another Pokémon. She wouldn’t hurt a Flabébé.”

… Unless the situation called for it, she wouldn’t hurt a Flabébé. With that much experience, let alone possibly trauma… it’s no wonder Miles said she was losing it. But with the threat of what she can do—

A scream rang out, and we both flew to our feet. For me, said scream was so loud and clear that my ears were still ringing a few seconds later. I didn’t recognise the voice, but it still put my heart in the most fearful spot possible.

“It came from the centre of the Ark. Wait inside the house,” I said, hopping off.

As soon as I arrived, I knew fate was playing with me. Finding out about Anne’s past as I came to a scene with her holding the Soulstealer felt like no coincidence. Azu was floored a few metres away, though she was conscious. A few surrounding Pokémon were on edge, all in poses that showed they were ready to run or defend themselves.

My arrival pushed Miles into a bit of a frenzy and he kicked me in his attempt to stop me from getting closer. I growled at him, but his halt caused me to observe a little more. Father Venusaur was hanging from the chain again, observing the scene. He was here again, which meant he must have issued another act of violence… which had long since started before I arrived. There were bodies behind Anne. Bodies with mortal wounds in their faces, enough to make me gag on sight.

“He picked a good time to show up. If he finds out about the Mew, it makes things the harder for us,” Miles said, gritting his teeth. I tensed up as well, keeping my eyes on Anne.

“Put it down, Anne. Trust me. You have to trust me. We’re so close to getting out of here,” Azu said, raising both hands.

“And then what? Let this situation reverse?” Anne replied, her eyes twitching. “I’m so close. You have to trust me.”

“Trust you with what?” I cried. She seemed to calm down a bit.

“Let me take five lives. I have already taken three. Just two more, and I can go free. With freedom, I can and will do everything in my power to free the rest of you.”

She’s already killed three Pokémon?” I gasped in my mind, sneaking a look at the damaged bodies behind her. There were indeed three of them, and they were even still bleeding. Considering they were all in one spot, this attack must have been very sudden.

“You allowed this to happen so that you could do the same thing, didn’t you?” Anne said, turning my attention back to her. “Two Pokémon from the authorities get thrown down here. They work on the Soulstealer, miraculously removing its ability to steal the powers of Pokémon, but retaining its ability to destroy anything. With a weapon like that in your hands, you make easy work of taking five lives for yourselves, and then vanishing, leaving the rest of us to rot.”

“I wouldn’t do something like that. That’s why I let all of you watch me work!” Azu cried.

“So that you would have easy pickings when it comes to taking five lives. You rich authorities are all the same,” Anne replied. “It doesn’t matter how much work the lower class do for you. They’re all your fodder. Tools which do your bidding and follow your orders, one day hoping that they’ll live a life of luxury.”

“That is assuming I live a life of luxury,” I said.

“But we never do. We follow your orders, no matter how heinous, and then you have us die when we’re no longer useful. We fight your wars like we’re your little chess pieces, shifting us aside into retirement when your game is over,” she said. Her eyes squinted, their red pupils searing into me. “And then when we retaliate, we’re breaking your laws.”

“Look, none of this is important right now. I built the Soulstealer that way so that it could help us to escape, I promise you that. But that’s not in the way where it’s meant to be used,” Azu cried.

“Then what do you propose we do? Why keep it a secret?”

Azu hesitated, and a quick glance at her showed she was keeping an eye on Father Venusaur. “… I can’t say.”

If we can just get her to drop the attack so that Venusaur leaves, then we can explain everything. But if he finds out, he’ll rally to Professor Vine and things will get more complicated…

“And this is why I hate you Pokémon. You are the two that deserve to die more than anyone else,” Anne said, raising the weapon. My eyes widened, and I hopped to stand guard over Azu.

“Look, stop this! This doesn’t have to be this way. Just put the spear down and we’ll explain everything. I mean it, I promise!” I cried.

A thin smile stretched across Anne’s face, though she looked no less sinister than before. “You really piss me off. I will make you suffer before you die.”

“What?” I whispered. She thrust an arm at me, and just like that, I was trapped by Psychic. I choked, arched back, and then squirmed as I felt my body being stretched and strained in ways I wasn’t moving it. I was lifted into the air and held in place while the Gardevoir began to advance on her real target. It took me a moment to realise who that was, where I brought up all my strength. “Azu, run!”

Miles was the next to act, shifting his way in between them to help fight. He shivered and crackled in attempt to use Thunder Wave, but it wouldn’t come out by the time Anne approached him. He didn’t bank on his attack working and jumped aside long before Anne could stab him, which only allowed her to keep running straight until she made it to Azu.

Thankfully, Azu wasn’t distracted in any way either. She had turned tail, but was still aware enough to have drawn her staff and use it for defence. To my surprise, it blocked the Soulstealer perfectly, its pink length unharmed by the Soulstealer’s sharp edge.

“It blocked it?” Anne hissed, pushing against Azu. Azu could only growl in reply, making Anne’s eyes thin. “You took some of that power for yourself and your own weapon, didn’t you? That’s how you can block a blade that can cut through anything.”

“So what if I did? It only helps in emergency against psychos like you,” Azu growled. Their weapons detached, and they immediately engaged in a close exchange of slashes and swipes. They swung their weapons across their fronts; Anne using one hand to twirl and spin the Soulstealer stylishly, while Azu relied on both hands to keep still and not get pushed back.

“It only gives away that you really were planning to stab us in the back. What reason do you have to turn your weapon into a Soulstealer?” Anne said, almost unhindered by her battle.

It took Azu a while to respond thanks to her concentrating so hard, but she eventually held her weapon against Anne’s, holding a clash in place. “To save Mew!”

“Mew?” Anne gasped, hopping away. Azu let out a breath and slumped forward. “To hell with that. What does Mew—”

“Mew is down here!” Azu shouted.

Anne’s eyes thinned until Miles spoke up, making her spin around. “Mew has been the unconscious in my house for much time, now. But Azu and Magnolia figured out how to use the Soulstealer to save it. With the Mew’s power, we can all defeat Father Venusaur and get out of here.”

“We were trying to hide that fact from Venusaur,” I said, daring to glance at the grass type. He watched the scenario alongside his Crobat entourage, seemingly unbothered. “We can’t do anything with you trying to kill us—”

“Shut up. I didn’t give you permission to speak, snob!” she hissed, pointing an arm at me again. She clenched her thin fingers into a fist, which caused my body to tighten and strain inwards. The pain was so great that I arched back and yelled out again, shutting my eyes. “Do you expect me to believe this? Should anyone believe you?”

With that, she twirled around and addressed the surrounding Pokémon, ignoring the fact that many were now trying to take care of dead bodies. “Well? Do any of you really believe that? That by making this weapon more proficient for killing, that these rich snobs are going to set you free?”

No one responded.

Anne twirled back to me, clenching that arm again to increase the pain. “See? Their faith should be in Pokémon of their status. They know they won’t magically get out of here without suffering greatly. None of your supposed miracles.”

“Then I’ll bring Mew to you,” Azu said, raising her arms. Anne’s eyes thinned until she dropped her staff, kicking it over to the Gardevoir.

“Wait Azu, don’t let Venusaur see Mew!” Miles shouted.

“We don’t have a choice anymore. Anne isn’t going to calm down until she sees and understands the truth,” Azu replied. There was a pause until Anne’s pose loosened up, letting go of her Psychic hold on me. I fell to the ground in a heap, cursing under my breath. My body felt like it had just been thrown through a grater.

“Allow me to go and get it. Mew is asleep in Miles’ house,” Azu said. She waited until Anne nodded before lowering her hands. She was clearly hesitant, but turned around to jog back to the house. “Asor?”

“Asor?” I said, pushing myself up with my hands. I didn’t even get the chance to look for why her name was brought up before Anne’s movements silenced everything to me. The moment Azu turned her back, Anne stood tall, pulled her arm back, and held the Soulstealer like a javelin.

Words left my mouth, as did the involuntary action of my body trying to use Quick Attack. It all happened so fast that I couldn’t even tell what I’d said, but I could tell that the power required to use Quick Attack didn’t come. My body only strained, bringing me to my knees with a painful scrape.

By that point, Anne had already tossed the Soulstealer, and of course, her throw had more than enough force to piece her target right through. Miles had seen and made some attempt to help as well, but he merely ended up in between Azu and Anne, his gaze fixated on the screaming Azumarill.

Asor turned out to be there after all. Azu had obscured her for that brief moment before staggering around in agony, and amazingly enough, remained on her feet. But Asor, her face had gone whiter than any of the Pokémon I had seen down here. Stunned couldn’t begin to explain how still she was, mouth gawking and eyes fading at what she had just seen happen.

“How does it feel?” Anne said, taking a step toward me. “It’s fine. It’s just another lower-class tool of yours thrown away through the orders of those who stand above.”

“… Why?” was all I could mutter, not looking up at her.

“Because I will never obey you rich ever again.”

The sound of fluttering disturbingly close by felt out of place, so I dared to look up out of fear of further action. The Crobat were surrounding Anne as if celebrating, and in turn, me. I couldn’t stop trembling both with my body and breath, and so couldn’t bring myself to my feet. Everything burnt, my body, my sight, everything I could hear. I couldn’t even think.

The Crobat closed in on Anne, causing her to retaliate until Venusaur spoke. “Well done. By your actions, you have gained the right to ascend beyond the Ark.”

“What? But I’ve only killed four Pokémon. The fifth is right here at my feet.”

My whole body tensed up at that line. Not from fear or foreboding, but of some inner fury. Something awakened deep within me, an explosive feeling that shrouded me in violence.

“The Azumarill was carrying an extra soul. A figure yet to be born that sufficed as another kill. That is all the essence and evidence we require from one who would be worthy of walking in our ideal world,” Venusaur explained. Anne’s arms fell limp.

“So you mean I’m done? I no longer need to fight like this?” she asked. Venusaur’s expression didn’t change. “A-Asor. Asor, come here! We’re free!”

“Only the one who decided who to sacrifice is worthy,” Venusaur said, a certain level of sternness in his tone that made Anne retract.

She still waved at the young Maractus, getting her attention. “Stay here. Stay here and survive for just a little while longer. Asor, I will come back for you. I promise, I’ll save everyone. You know Mummy keeps her promises.”

She didn’t even get a chance to properly speak to her daughter. The Crobat lifted her up from three sides, soon having Venusaur’s Vine Whip take over, and the lot of them began to rise into the colourless mist above. She kept spouting and crying out her promise and motherly cues the whole time, all the way until she was a recent memory.

And the whole way through, no one said a word.
Last edited:


Competitive Mijumaru


“I’ve got too many Pokémon watching me to come up with anything naughty.”

That was it. That was the very last thing Azu said directly to me. Just like Anne had warned, or perhaps even planned, this day would mark the very last time I got to see the bubbly water type.

Her grave was pathetic. Amongst a whole host of other disrespectful excuses for graves, her body had been buried in the dead soil that sprouted weeds just outside of the Ark. This was specifically on the side of the town where Pokémon would enter from after falling into Venusaur’s trap. They were mounds of earth where the weeds had been noticeably cut away, but more had already grown back over the other recent deaths.

I sat in front of them with my legs crossed. Four new graves. I wasn’t the only one. Yet I was the only one here, as if the other Pokémon who had suffered a loss had unanimously decided that I deserved the time alone first.

Or maybe they didn’t even have family or friends to mourn for them.

Being here now, my head was drowning in thoughts. Memories and thoughts of everything Azu had done for me and the world, what we had to look forward to, and all else. If she were here now, she would probably punch my back, crack a dirty joke, and then pick me up with that uplifting smile of hers. And then I would make a disapproving comment, despite the fact that I truly appreciated every word she said to me, however crude or mocking.

Above all else, the thing I regretted the most was my inability to protect her when I most needed to. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that my confrontation was nothing short of plain stupid. I ran right into that Psychic attack and then could do nothing else. If anything, I should’ve bolted to her side the moment I was free from the Psychic.

The more these thoughts brewed, the more I promised myself I wouldn’t hold back any more. Anne was to be sentenced to death, death by my hand alone. And no matter what happened, I was to ensure that this was something I’d see through to completion. As if reacting to my resolve, the Soulstealer in hand flashed and its blade sharpened.

Azu’s work on the accursed weapon was a miracle, especially given the time it took her to get it to work. My abilities as a Lopunny returned very soon after I merely took hold of it. I was as proficient as if I had never lost my powers at all, and yet, the weapon still held the capability of slicing through anything. It almost felt like my continued wielding helped to channel its power, like it was a part of me, its blade changing shape with my thoughts and feelings.

I don’t know how long I had been sitting here, but after I had settled my resolve, I stood tall and swiped the weapon aside. “If you haven’t ascended to Heaven yet, hold on just a little bit longer. I want you to see Anne get sent to Hell.”

My walk back through the Ark was met with as much awkwardness as was to be expected. Some Pokémon gave me sorrowful looks, some bowed and prayed from a distance, while others feigned eye contact. I couldn’t hear any of them anyway. My head was so clouded and blurry that I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t change my face, I couldn’t walk faster, I couldn’t even speak clearly if I tried. Everything of me was set on killing everyone who perpetrated this whole ordeal, and nothing else.

“Magnolia!” Asor cried upon my entry to the house. Her and Miles were upstairs, possibly talking about Asor’s loss in this. The thing of note was that Asor was holding Azu’s staff, having to use both hands. It was clearly far too tall heavy for her.

I ignored them both though, heading right for downstairs. Just when I got there, Asor huffed as she hopped in my way, putting on her best stern look. “Magnolia.”

“Move,” I said, fixated on her eyes. But she didn’t even flinch.

“I just… I just want to let you know that I’m done, too. I’m not gonna sit here anymore. I’m going to fight, too! So… so let me come with you when we all try to escape. I’ll fight, too!”

I blinked. The other side of children being more capable than adults make them out to be: their determination. The way she stared at me; I knew she had recovered from the experience quicker than many of the adults here. Her unmoving eyes and the way they stared directly into mine, she made more eye contact than any other conversation we’d had.

“Why?” I replied, not moving an inch. She finally sighed and looked away, swaying a little.

“I… I don’t want to rely on Mum. I want to get out by myself…”

“Then do as you please,” I said, walking around her to reach Mew.

“Don’t be like that, Magnolia. This is a child we’re talking about—”

“Do you really think you can stop her?” I interrupted, not looking back at Miles. He couldn’t respond, uttering words instead. “You and I both know how this is going to go if we try and stop her.”

He stopped making noise after that. I didn’t need to turn around to know he’d accepted it, leaving me to deal with Mew. The mythical psychic type was still deep in slumber.

“Please come back to us,” I said, raising the blade of the Soulstealer. I halted for a second, and then carefully laid the blade flat onto Mew’s chest, tightening my grip on the weapon to ensure I couldn’t harm it in any way. There was no response for long enough for Miles and Asor to edge closer in expectation, but surely enough, the blade eventually began to glow.

The glittery, snow-like particles of the Pokémon essence within the Soulstealer began to flow out of the blade, fizzling out of shape until they were outright sinking into Mew. Mew’s body glowed with the absorption, getting brighter and brighter until it was literally one big glob of blinding pink. I shielded my face at that point, though I kept the Soulstealer in place as much as I could.

Soon enough, Mew burst to life, flying out of the glow like a bird taking flight for the first time. The glow vanished in a flash, replaced by Mew’s upbeat cheers and patterned swirls through the air. I couldn’t help but watch for a moment, not expecting it to have the voice it had. It sounded like a young boy, though it was high-pitched and smooth like it had come of age.

“I’m free! I’m finally awake!” it screeched at the top of its voice, finishing its little flight dance by smashing its head on the ceiling. It went silent right then, fluttering back down with a weak moan.

“M-Mew?” Asor said in surprise. Mew righted itself and flew up to her.

“Yep, that’s me! Hello,” it said, putting its hands by its mouth. “I was stuck in a really deep dream. I couldn’t wake up at all! You all helped me though, didn’t you?”

All eyes turned to me without a word, making Mew approach me. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Stop shouting.”

“But I’m really happy and I wanna thank you!”

“Then help us get out of here,” I said, walking around him to leave. Miles and Asor’s mouths were on the floor.

“… But I’m really hungry,” Mew whined, floating toward me.

“You’re aware of what’s going on, aren’t you?” I asked, half looking back.


“Then you know how little I can do about that,” I said, heading upstairs. “The sooner you do what you do and get us out of here, the sooner you can do whatever you want.”

“Magnolia,” Asor said quietly.

“His name is Magnolia?” Mew asked. Asor nodded. “Master Magnolia, wait for me!”

“Master?” I raised my voice, stopping.

“Yeah! You’re my master. You used the Soulstealer to give me most of my energy back. But I can really help you if I get all of it back.”

“You’re still missing energy?” I asked, only just noticing the strange detail. I’d been so used to seeing Mew with this colourless colour scheme that I’d forgotten what its original colours were. It was still white, having only large, blue eyes. The tales of it having pink fur were either false, or the Soulstealer had only let it wake up, restoring only its consciousness.

That was until its stomach growled and it rubbed it, giggling to itself and blushing. My face turned fierce, but it didn’t seem to care. “If I have food, I’m sure I can do anything. But seriously, right now I can barely float. My tummy feels like it’s eating itself!”

Is this thing serious?” I gasped in my mind, resisting the urge to growl. I shut my eyes and sighed instead. I walked toward the centre of town, confusing him enough to have him follow me.

The sight of me walking back through the town with Mew floating behind me got the attention of every Pokémon nearby, and some left to get others. In minutes, I was stood where the Soulstealer was originally positioned, overlooking what looked to be every single Pokémon that had fallen down.

“Pokémon of the Ark. This is what me and Azu were working towards,” I began. I held the Soulstealer up high and signalled for Mew to go up with it. “I now wield the Soulstealer without penalty, while the power of the mythical Mew is on our side. Freedom is but a battle away.”

The Pokémon began to talk amongst themselves, but it was unlike anything I had ever heard from them. It was chatter that resonated character. As if some sort of spirit had awoken within the Pokémon and their enthusiasm returned. “However, Mew has lost its powers, and the Soulstealer isn’t enough. We are about to begin our ascent, so prepare yourselves to leave. If any of you have any food that can be shared, please, lend it to Mew. If it can restore its strength, it can fight.”

“Wa-wait, i-is this the only way to get food? You’re embarrassing me, Master! I’m not that strong,” Mew cried, flailing its arms at me. I gave a silent sigh again.

“If you don’t have the strength to fight, then this is the best we can do. And if you don’t take it now, we’re leaving, and you can go hungry. Pick your poison.”

“Come now, is there a reason to sound that mean?” Miles asked. He flinched when a Tropius’ head showed up beside him, offering its fruits to Mew. The legendary was confused, pointing to itself to get a nod of confirmation before reluctantly taking what it could. There were three fruits left.

“Th-this is more than enough. Thank you, but you really shouldn’t have to…” it whined, twiddling its feet.

“Just actually get us out of here,” I said, turning away from them all. “If the legends surrounding you are true, then Mew… you give these Pokémon hope. To that end, sacrificing their own hunger for what few more hours it takes to get us to escape is more than worth it.”

“Okay, you’re clearly intent on this. Do you at least have a real the plan? Because that’s how we do things here,” Miles said.

“There were no guards or threats. We climb the Rapture, we kill Professor Vine, and destroy the Varia Suit. Then we send all the forces over so we can safely get everybody out. There’s nothing else to it,” I said.

“… And Mum?” Asor dared to ask, looking down. I hesitated.

“That’s for me and you.”

We gave the Pokémon time to sort themselves out for the escape. Soon enough, my group of four were setting off towards the Rapture while the rest of the Pokémon waited in the Ark. They may not have had much, but they were all basically preparing to move house, more than ready and hopeful to return home after a long and forced camp away.

I led the way, making sure I was a good three seconds in front of the others. Mew seemed to think this was a fun trip, swirling around the group as it pointed out various things of interest and endlessly asked questions. For the trump card we knew we needed to escape, I almost wished Mew wasn’t here. But really and truly, I just wanted it to at least give me some thinking level of quiet.

“They’re all weeds. Only weeds grow down here,” Asor said, listening to Mew’s rambles about the plants all around them. Thanks to Asor’s slow hopping, the others had to stop on occasion to let her keep up with them.

“There’s so many of them though! Pokémon don’t like them, but it looks pretty now that there’s so many,” Mew said with a giggle.

“If they were flowers, maybe I’d agree,” she replied, sweating a little.

“What kinds of flowers?”

“The ones on my head.”

“Aren’t those your ears? They look like ears.”

“They’re… they’re… urf, Mew,” Asor sighed, hanging her head.


She looked up, blushing a bit. “They’re just… the flowers, okay? H-haven’t you seen a Maractus before?”

“Nope. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of you Pokémon before.”

“I’m starting to think that the stories about you aren’t all the truth,” Miles said. “That only makes this more the interesting.”

Miles finally making a comment brought my head up. He was the only one of our group who technically hadn’t suffered greatly, but that only brought to question how he really felt. He was always such a stale character to me that I could never truly tell what he was thinking, besides the obvious fact that he really cared.

He’d done what any cool friend would do during me and Azu’s wedding, and looked out for me. When it was clear that I was getting too nervous, he’d pop up amongst the background and signal that to me. And before even that, he talked me through procedures and reassured me on every question I had about the wedding, even if he couldn’t answer it. I could argue that he was a big brother to me.

I was lying to myself, now that I was thinking about it. I glanced back for only a moment, and he was smiling. He was smiling and commenting alongside Mew and Asor, almost encouraging Mew’s curious behaviour. It was as if he hadn’t suffered, and in turn, didn’t care at all.

I stopped at the poison lake before the cave. If he didn’t care, then that was fine. I had lost everything of my future, and cared about little other than to inflict my pain onto those responsible. If the Pokémon behind me didn’t care about my feelings or my future, then they were just tools to achieve my end goal.

Just like Anne had said about the rich.

“There’s… purple water. Is it poisonous?” Asor asked.

“Very, yet not the very. It will start to burn for a bit if you the spend too long in it,” Miles replied. He stopped right before stepping in. “I’ve braved its damage before, and then had the benefit of Azu’s the Aqua Ring to get through. But it will surely have the greater effect on Asor.”

“Then what do we do? I don’t think I can carry the Asor. She’s too the spiky,” Mew said.

“Copying my way of the talking now, are we?”

“It’s funny!” Mew giggled.

I held my breath, trying not to curse. Too much messing about for right now. Drowning out their continued rambles, I took two steps into the lake, cringing a little as its burning sensations melted away at my leg fluff. I let out a slight cry as I jammed the Soulstealer into the floor beneath the water, and then roared my loudest as I pulled up, swinging the weapon in a wide arc before me.

My actions channelled an attack from the Soulstealer, one of a great level that bordered a miracle. A paper-thin wave forced its way right across the lake, both sides of the wave splitting the water apart. None of the Pokémon could believe their eyes as my single attack created a path through the water, a path walled by torrents of it that spilled over to the left and right.

I didn’t hesitate to use this new path, finding it to be surprisingly dry. The water to my left and right didn’t even splatter on me as I hopped through, though that also revealed a lack of life on the lakebed. Everything that should have been on the floor of a lake wasn’t there. Only a few rocks and floor resembling a wasteland.

“Master, you’re amazing!” Mew cried as it caught up to me.

“I have my concerns, however. That was a the bold move,” Miles did the same. He made sure to run beside me, letting me see that he was no longer smiling. I ignored him. “Don’t you think the Soulstealer may be having an effect on you?”

I concentrated on the path ahead. “Mist will be taking over. Stay close.”

“Magnolia,” Asor said in a worried tone. Miles gave her a pat on the back, and then we were moving slow again.

I had concerns about the turrets, but when we got there, my worries faded. The area was the same as ever. Some rocks standing in the way, and then a big clearing with some likely artificial mist to prevent us from seeing or attacking the turrets.

“Mew, destroy the targets with a psychic move,” I ordered, not looking back at it.


“I don’t care what move. Just do it.”

It swirled ahead of me for a moment, one hand underneath its muzzle. “I-I can’t attack what I can’t see!”

“You will have to follow my lead again,” Miles said, walking between our group. “Again, I worry for Asor, however. You can’t crouch.”

“If we don’t destroy these turrets, the other Pokémon won’t be getting through. So stop messing around. Miles, use Substitute. Then Mew, trace the direction of the bullets and use Psyshock in that direction.” I said, hand on a hip.

“Ooh. That’s a strategy that works. I’ll do my best,” Mew said, saluting me. Miles’ face was straight.

“You look like you want to say something,” I commented.

He didn’t respond, though he was stifling some frustration. He jumped between the gap and put the order to action, kicking a Substitute into the clearing. A moment later, the gunshots fired out, their volume loud enough to make me cringe. I couldn’t help but crouch to cover my ears, forgetting that they were this irritating.

Thankfully, Mew was quick to work. It finally boasted its legendary status, almost immediately picking up on its targets. With a swerve to the left and right, eyes glowing and body surrounded in a light blue glow, it released powerful attacks at invisible targets in the distance. Three explosions went off, close enough to heat up the area and for flames to be visible, as well as chips of metal and machinery to scatter around us.

That didn’t save me from the obnoxious noises around, however. Soon after the turrets were destroyed, an alarm went off. A siren went off in this very room many others, alongside the area taking on a blinking red hue. I didn’t need to be told that Vine had been alerted and pushed a surprised Miles aside to move.

“What’s going on? Master?” Mew cried.

“Hurry up!” I called back to them.

“Gah, fool. There weren’t any guards because we successfully snuck through. Now the whole lab knows that we’re here,” Miles shouted, letting Asor go in front of him.

“Ahh, I can’t go very fast!” she squealed.

“There’s little need to. Hold on tight!” he said, nudging her. She was surprised, but did her best to climb onto his back. She cared more about not pricking him with her thorns than she did actually holding on.

To our surprise, we didn’t encounter anything of the expected. With the alarm going off and the turrets destroyed, I felt that there was no need to use the air vents like we did last time and hopped along the main hallways instead. We passed through workstations filled with computers, stasis tubes, extremely tall desks, and more, but not a single living person or other security measure was in place. There were signs of someone recently being there, however.

The lack of life drew me to stop wasting my breath, so I resorted to walking quickly. It didn’t take much work to trace the path of the air vent either, making my way up staircases and slopes to ascend the area. None of it was as unsettling as anticipated, besides the stasis chambers. Miles had walked off to investigate one at some point, but I ordered him to focus. All we needed to do right now was reach Professor Vine and kill him.

We didn’t stop again until we reached the top floor, where the alarm and lighting seemed to have calmed down. Neither were going off on this floor, but I could still hear the alarm going off in the background.

Now that I had been through the whole dungeon, I had questions about how this whole place functioned. From a misty cave to a sterile lab filled with computers, to this ancient stone layout with lots of open space and a checker cage storing Pokémon essence; some careful yet admirable architecture was in use here that had finally brought me to look around curiously. Vine’s office was behind the stone cage with the Pokémon essence in it, a mere few seconds away now.

“You,” I hissed, finally spotting a figure leaned back against the cage. Anne was there, head hung, arms limp, and one leg bent. Her colours had been drained completely and the texture of her skin was visibly crusty and dying.

“Mum!” Asor cried, hopping over to her. That got her to look up, revealing that her eyes retained their natural red.

“Asor… you’re here,” she said so softly I could barely hear her.

“Mum…” Asor shuddered, stuck before her. There was quiet until I walked over, where I immediately pointed the Soulstealer at her face. Anne looked down while Asor gave me a terrified look.

“You’ve seen it, now,” I said. Anne shuddered.

“Yes… I’ve seen it all, now… the professor, the suit, the essence… I…” she replied. “And now you come, with Mew. Precisely as you said you would.”

I didn’t say anything or move for a few moments, but Miles still nudged his way beside me. “You don’t have to do this, Magnolia!”

“What’s happening to her? She didn’t get hit by the Soulstealer, did she? You’ve had it the whole time,” Mew said.

My eyes widened a little, but it didn’t matter right now. It wasn’t surprising that Professor Vine had an alternate method of draining Pokémon essence. Knowing that, I blinked and clenched my hands. “Then what do you have to say?”

“What I have committed is treason. You need not hear my plea for forgiveness. Though, Asor…” she said weakly, looking up. “I’m so sorry for letting you down.”

The Maractus couldn’t find the words to respond with, it seemed. She couldn’t smile, but stared at her mother with occasional shudders, a mixture of desperation and frustration showing through.

“What you need to know is that he took the Pokémon essence. The human in the suit. If you fight him, I fear that he may even resist the Soulstealer… His suit is powered by essence, and my attacks had little to no effect,” Anne said, trembling in effort just to hold her head up. “It’s too late for me, now. But the Venusaur is still here. If you made it this far thanks to Mew, then escape while you can. Don’t fight the human.”

Taking that as my go ahead to execute her, I drew both arms back, pointing the blade directly at her chest. Miles immediately flew into overdrive, bashing me and then standing between us.

“Magnolia! Don’t kill her right in front of her daughter!” he cried.

I squinted, becoming furious. “And that’s any better than what she did to Azu?”

“Whether it’s better or worse, it makes no the difference?” he replied, shaking. “We came here to get everybody the out of here. We can—”

You’re here to get everybody out. I came here to kill. And morals like that only create needless hesitation,” I said, locking eyes with a surprised Asor. Despite her visibly conflicting emotions, she hopped out of the way, bringing Miles’ jaw to the floor.

“Asor, you don’t have to!”

“Um, guys!” Mew squeaked. “I know it’s all serious and all, b-but—”

It cut itself off, causing me to hesitate and sneak a glance in Mew’s direction. Father Venusaur had come around the corner, surrounded by his three Crobat. I didn’t sigh, curse, or comment here, I just turned to confront him and readied the Soulstealer.

“What is the meaning of this? That other Pokémon should set foot here,” he said, walking closer.

I held the Soulstealer across my front so that he could clearly see it. “We’re going to end this twisted trial of yours. So unless you have anything useful to say, shut up and die.”

Venusaur slowly shut his eyes. “A perfect creature has been created. A creature so perfect that there is no longer any need for any other being on this planet to exist. And this creature was founded by the harsh sacrifice of the lives that have endured this trial. Out of thousands, you are the first to escape.”

“Thousands?” Asor gasped.

“For how long has this been going on before we arrived?” Miles did the same.

“That now the trial has presented us with three things: Pokémon with enough will to escape, Pokémon with enough desperation to wield the Soulstealer, and then…” Venusaur said, opening his eyes. He looked intimidating. “Mew. Your presence tells of woe.”

“Really? I’m just here ‘cos I felt lots of Pokémon we’re coming here,” he said, sounding too happy.

“Get to the point,” I said, tightening my pose. Venusaur and the Crobat did the same.

“The perfect creature has been birthed. And now… we shall see to whether it is fitting of the world or not,” he said, revealing his vines. “If you can defeat it here, then the Almighty has allowed you disembark the Ark. If you are defeated, then it shall replace every living creature in the world.”

“So you acknowledge that you could be wrong. But you’re so deep into this, you have to fight to see for yourself, anyway,” I said. Venusaur didn’t reply. After a moment, I cracked a vicious smile. “You know what? At least you’ve got an idea of what’s at stake here. Even if you win, you’re sentenced to death the moment you step out of this place!”
Last edited:


Competitive Mijumaru


Bursts of electricity crackled and smashed against orbs of green and purple, and then a duo of vines whipped hard against a Spiky Shield. The shield bashed against those vines to knock them back, and then I flew over the top of that conflict, kneeing Father Venusaur in the face so hard that I heard cracking bones.

That barely deterred it, though. It skidded across the ground, roared a grunting cry of anger, and then lifted its hind legs to point its enormous, flowered back toward us. A spray of huge, sludgy orbs burst from it, many launching at such frequency that it was impossible to tell the frequency of fire. Still, it forced me to scrape myself back towards my group, and then slice into the poisonous bombs to try and stop them. The Soulstealer made it look easy, but everything those bombs touched caused them to explode and shower in burning fluid, so it was as if I was getting hit anyway.

Not even a moment later, Miles was upfront and gnawing into Venusaur’s flesh on the side of its face. Electricity exaggerated his fangs, briefly forming a giant, sharp yellow jaw that crushed Venusaur between them. Despite that painful scenario, Venusaur didn’t even flinch; it shook Miles free and then erupted a cloud of purple spores, so much filling the air around it that Miles and Venusaur became blurry within.

I looked to jump back into the fray, but the Poison Powder was expanding in range. Asor called out my name and hopped just about in front of me, straining to surround us both in a clear barrier. Immediately after that Safeguard went up, more Vine Whip came in attempt to snap at Asor. They wrapped around her pink staff and pulled, yanking her to the ground since she attempted to keep hold of it. As soon as she hit the floor, I leapt forward and sliced the vines, leaving their bleeding ends to retract.

Then a heavy pink hue took over the whole scene. Venusaur only had an instant to look up to see himself surrounded by small, jagged bits of debris before they all clustered towards him, blowing up in blinding bursts of energy. Black smoke resulted from the attacks, but it very quickly came to light that the attack had been blocked. A light blue barrier stopped it, letting Venusaur peak through the smoke with his dead, red eyes.

I was frustrated with how long this fight had been taking, or the fact that this was even a fight to begin with. Venusaur had proven to be a formidable enough opponent to prevent me from cutting him with the Soulstealer, attacking almost non-stop since we began. His Crobat companions were dealt with without a sweat, their brutally wounded bodies left on the outskirts of the battle. I growled at him, tightening my grip as I rushed forward for another round of close combat.

We weren’t saying anything to each other anymore. There wasn’t anything more to be said. I wanted this to be a simple hit and run style job since this wasn’t even our main enemy, but now that I was actually trying to do as a criminal would and give someone a quick death, I realised that I’d be fighting against them beyond their absolute best. Fighting with them trying every desperate measure they could to not get killed.

Use of Protect every single time Mew prepared to use a psychic type move, status powder moves flying out every time we got close, and Vine Whip used to make fighting from a distance irritating. It was an impenetrable defence that I couldn’t help but be impressed with. But as our fight carried on and I could feel my body straining with the effort I kept putting in, I realised that Venusaur wasn’t tiring. The way how it proficiently used its moves every time, I was reminded that it was a product of Vine’s experiments, and not the honourable, twisted priest I had respect for.

But it had Pokémon essence, making it vulnerable to the effects of our attacks. That was to be our key to victory.

“Asor!” I shouted, twisting back. She was using Aromatherapy to cure Miles’ poison. “We’ll beat this the same way we conquered the Soulstealer. Use Grass Whistle!”

Venusaur squinted. I didn’t care if he heard me, though. He stomped his feet to release Razor Leaf, but me and Miles standing guard over Asor would remind him that we weren’t going to make this easy, either. We took the Razor Leaf with our bodies, me resisting the urge to scream or cry out in response to the pain of a dozen knives slicing through my fur.

Thankfully Miles had adapted to my idea. He staggered a bit, but sprinted toward Venusaur to use Thunder Wave. There was a bit of jumping about and stray attacks firing off from the two, but soon enough, the Shinx was gnawing at Venusaur’s skin as he surged with paralyzing bolts. Venusaur reared back and roared aloud, but the electricity crackling around him stalled any retaliation he could’ve tried.

Mew’s attack came in again, alongside Asor’s playing of Oracion in the background. Venusaur continued to shout and cry out, an enraged cry drowning out the song for only a moment before Mew’s attack hit. It looked like he attempted to use Protect again as well, but the shield did not form before the Psyshock hit. He was once again shrouded in black smoke, and this time, I knew it had connected.

I gave an aggressive huff, twisted back a bit, and then threw the Soulstealer with all my might, eliciting a violent screech from within the smoke. It cleared to reveal Father Venusaur with the weapon stabbed deep into his gawking mouth, right through the back of his throat.

I didn’t hesitate at all. The moment was perfect for me to finish him off for good. I charged ahead elbowed his face as hard as I could, pushing him back onto his hind legs just a bit. That gave me enough of a moment to grab the Soulstealer with both hands, where I drove it deeper and deeper until it was piercing right through the plant on his back. Some sounds were uttered in agony, but he was soon silent.

“And to make sure you’re beyond repair,” I said darkly, yanking the lance out. I continuously stabbed him again and again, piercing his body wherever, shouting and cursing with each stab.

“Magnolia!” Miles shouted at the top of his voice, shielding a cowering Asor.

I heard him but ignored him completely. It was almost therapeutic, being able to tear another Pokémon to shreds this easily. I didn’t stop until the Venusaur was a mushy mess of mangled organs, though my mutilation revealed some not-so-surprising insides. Blood and poisonous fluid drained alongside loud, sparking bursts of electricity and embers, which all came from unrecognisable mechanical components. Tubes and boards with all sorts of intricate tech was smashed to bits by my outburst. Azu would’ve loved to see this construction.

“Magnolia, listen to me you ignorant little ****!” Miles snapped, stomping his feet. I spun around aggressively, but he didn’t deter. “Will you stop and look at yourself already? You’re acting like a possessed Dusknoir!”

I gave him a disgusted look, but that didn’t stop him from pacing side to side, a relatable level of frustration in his rambles. Asor was going pale with fright, though she managed a shivering glance at me, locking eyes right away. I didn’t feel any sympathy.

“If you’re afraid, then this is where we part.”

“N-no… don’t say that, Magnolia…” Asor whimpered.

“The getting the revenge doesn’t the mean turning into some violent the monster. The the- the- gah, the Soulstealer is still the transforming you. Your the mind is the losing it!” he replied, spitting and taking a deep breath. “Listen to me. We’re close, but we need to be the rational.”

“I’m tired of leaving it up to words, Miles. All I do is take abuse from Pokémon day in and day out, colleagues and criminals alike. And now, because it’s made me so weak and docile, the Pokémon that meant the most to me to protect, I couldn’t even manage that,” I said, standing tall. I walked toward them, making them flinch and cower out of the way, even though I wasn’t after them. I was after Anne, who had been observing the battle from her position on the floor the whole time. “But now I have a weapon this powerful. A means to threaten those who do wrong against me and punish Pokémon who break the law. And I’ll sure as hell kill anyone who deserves it.”

That’s horrible… That’s a horrible way of talking,” Asor said, her voice a squeak.

“Are you going to try and stop me?” I said, looking back at them. Miles snarled while Asor put her hands together, looking even more pitiful. “Thought so. As for you…”

I raised the Soulstealer high above my head with both hands, aiming to stab straight downwards. Miles coughed a response, the sound of his feet scrambling against the floor telling of his hesitant wishes to stop me. Anne herself looked down, her helpless figure looking no better than a discarded doll.

But I stalled.

I shivered, and then growled, and then spat in my straining effort to bring the lance down through her. I couldn’t, and soon returned it to my side. Anne looked directly into my eyes, confused. I stared right back for a moment, eventually letting out a loud sigh.

“I made a promise. I can’t kill you here,” I said, blinking once. She didn’t say a word, only looking straight forward. “Stripped of your Pokémon powers while witnessing for yourself the truth of me and Azu’s claims. You’re already suffering a fate worse than death. You have to live with the guilt of everything that you’ve caused, the evidence right in front of you. And beyond that, your actions result in execution, anyway. You and I both know that the moment you set foot out of this place, you’re on deaths row.”

I left after that, walking off with large, quick strides. Mew was the first to catch up to me, and to my annoyance, looked as oblivious as ever. It didn’t say anything though, only making quiet whimpers of interest. Maybe it finally got the message.

“It’s gone,” I said, staring at the corner of the room. In Professor Vine’s office, the room where he spoke with Professor Oak, the Varia Suit was missing from its hidden corner.

Everything was missing from that room besides the desk and a few unimportant papers. Even one of the seats was missing.

“If you’re reading this, congratulations,” Asor said out loud, speaking slowly. We all turned and gathered around her. She was reading from a neatly written letter that was underneath the desk for some reason. “If you’ve made it this far, you’ll find me in the projection field outside.”

“Venusaur couldn’t have written this invitation. So why is it the written in footprint runes?” Miles asked, tilting his head.

“Never mind that. That ‘exit’ we thought we saw was a projection. That’s not really the outside world,” I said, looking out the window. “We might be further away from freedom than we think.”

“But that looks like it leads out of the tower. Even if it doesn’t, we have to be close, right Master?” Mew said. I took in a deep breath, edged back a bit, and then smashed one of the windows with the blunt end of the Soulstealer.

“Ladies first,” I said, turning back to my group.

“But Master, I’m a boy!”

“You sure don’t sound like one?” I replied, flinching a bit. “But fine. Then I’m not talking to you.”

Asor had to be carried over by Miles, then I dove through afterward, Mew right behind me. We landed in a vast plain that looked nothing like the world below.

There was colour in this plain. Fluffy white clouds, golden sunlight, uplifting blue skies, shades of green for the short grass, and slight bits of loamy brown soil poking through. It was such an illusion that I couldn’t help but slow down, my mouth hung open while my legs stumbled without command. A light wind blew against me, making me hold my head fur in place.

Yet the knowledge of it being a projection stole any immersion I could have felt in my heart. I felt stifled, here. Spinning around brought back all the realities of the unrealistic hell this was part of: Vine’s office was a big blue box smack bang in the middle of this field, surrounded on all sides by nothing but this expansive scenery. But the more I stared, the more the pixels that formed the image projection stood out, their two-dimensional corners not connecting properly.

But there he was. Once I focused, the nightmares of my thoughts cleared from my vision. In the direct centre of the field was the Varia Suit, posed to tell of someone wearing it. It was sitting on a chair right in the middle of the room. We approached and gathered around, though we remained many paces away.

“Welcome. And allow me a formal congratulations for making it this far,” the figure said, waving its left hand. That one was metallic while the right arm had been replaced by a cannon. The surface of the cannon was littered with buttons and lights.

We didn’t reply besides readying ourselves for combat again. Asor slid behind us all, though. “This is a suit that can replicate the state of Pokémon. Their powers, abilities, even their endurance… all of that is packed tightly into this suit’s capabilities. I’ve been using it in field tests so far, but once my comrade told me that Mew’s powers had also been drained, I realised that I was way ahead of schedule for creating this thing.”

We still didn’t say anything, so a finger was pointed at me. “Even better: one who took control of my Soulstealer was able to make it this far. So what better of a final test than to try actual combat against that very Pokémon? The champion of my Ark, you are.”

“This guy is way in over his head,” I said, shaking mine.

“I’m not out of it. I’m just overjoyed,” he replied. My gaze tightened. The visor of the helmet was tinted green, so I couldn’t read Vine’s emotions. “I’ve achieved my lifelong work; you must understand that. I couldn’t be happier.”

“Did he just… understand you?” Miles asked.

“I understood you all right. I may not look it now, but I am a Pokémon. That was what brought me to the final touches of work I needed to do on this thing,” he said, bowing to us. “Form. The first Pokémon to become a champion of my Ark would be the Pokémon whose form is perfect, the Pokémon whose form I take.”

“Don’t tell me—” I whispered as he tapped a few buttons on his arm cannon. Some digital effects began to cover him, far too bright and burning for me to look at fully. But after a brief transition, the alien form of the mech suit had transformed into the shape of a Gardevoir. A perfect replica at that, though it was cleaner and smoother than any normal wild Pokémon. It was hard to tell at first glance, but its body still looked metallic.

“He turned into Mum?” Asor cried.

“The ability to talk with Pokémon. To take their form. To use their attacks and abilities, all at will. To extend my life and physical capabilities… we need not kill each other, but merely try out the Varia Suit’s limitations in live combat. If it is capable enough, then I may discover this world’s greatest secrets,” he said, stretching his arms out. “Don’t hold back now. I’ll take on all four of you at once. And when I am satisfied with my findings, you may go.”

“… Do you have any idea how many lives you’ve stolen for the sake of your research?” I asked on a trembling breath. “Families. Children. Married couples. The innocent devout and the violent criminals alike. You’ve not even apprehended the wrongdoers. You’ve just ruined so many of our lives, like we’re your disposable tools.”

“Now now, there’s no need to get that upset. I’m just challenging you to friendly competition here,” he replied, opening his arms out.

I gave a silent sigh. “Miles, I’m going to tear this guy to shreds until there’s nothing left. And I mean grind him down until there isn’t even a speck of blood remaining.”

“What is the wrong with you?” Miles replied.

“There’s no point in talking about this, not to him or to any of you. I’m giving you the opportunity to take Asor and get out of here. Because whether you stay here or not, that’s what I’m going to do to this guy. Take it or leave it.”

“What about me, Master?” Mew asked. At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, Mew had turned itself into a glowing pink orb, trying to hide itself from view.

I didn’t answer, though. I didn’t even look at them. I didn’t need to to know that Miles was glaring with that stale yet infuriated glare of his. But I heard them all shuffle back, and what sounded like Asor climbing on Miles’ back. Knowing that, I began to tense up, cupping my fingers into fists, bending my knees as if to tighten my bones. My eyes focused, locking their sights onto Vine and nothing else.

“You’re making this sound like something it isn’t. But I suppose if you’re giving it your all, that only works better in my favour,” Vine replied.

“You know. Other Pokémon, mostly my family, liked to say that I was born to be detective. I had such a knack for apprehending wrongdoers that some Pokémon even went as far to say that it was fate,” I said, enjoying myself. “Now I think I understand that.”

“Huh?” Vine replied, leaning back.

“I’ve indirectly killed so many Pokémon. I’ve caught so many Pokémon who’ve gone on to be executed or lose their minds rotting behind bars that you could say that it really is something I was born to do. Until now, doing that the detective way was the way I killed Pokémon,” I said, starting to focus my breath as well. I stood up tall, stomped one foot, and gave Vine a cheerful smile. “But fate brought us to this scenario, where there’s no better an example of someone I want dead. I want to kill you more than anything else I’ve wanted dead in my whole life. I have the means to do it. The power to do it. And all the rights and motive. That’s fate. This is what I was born to do.”

“What’s?” Vine said, becoming visually nervous. But that was it.

I sprung forwards faster than I had ever known my legs could carry me. My senses remained perfectly in tune with my motive, my sight, hearing, and all else locked solely onto Vine and nothing else. Not the surroundings, not Mew, not even the Varia suit’s capabilities.

My speed must have taken him by surprise since I was able to impale him with the Soulstealer right away. I didn’t even cry or roar or any of the things that emphasized the effort I put into fighting. The weapon bounced right off his armour, but not without a wicked burst of sparks, electricity, and force that knocked us both away. Vine let out horrible yell of agony, retaliating with a stern stomp to prevent falling to his backside.

Fire Blast blew in my face, magically formed from the tips of his Gardevoir fingers. It must have been an optical illusion created by the suit, because that looked so unnatural that it disgusted me. It disgusted me but surprised me enough to not move out of the way, taking the full brunt of those flames to my face.

But it felt good. It felt relieving. My body shivered from heat and then shook it off like it was nothing, putting every last drop of energy it could muster into the idea that I needed to kill Vine. And so I smiled as I shook off the flames, leaning forward to sprint again.

“Sorry Azu, honey. This isn’t about you anymore.”

I kept smiling. I felt so light and free, like I had lost a weight that had been restraining me without me realising. A heavy weight that was all the things I had cared about to make me who I was.

My friends. My colleagues. My future. Azu. My work. My appearance. My reputation. My health. I no longer cared.

I was free. Free to stab and slash and kill the enemy before me. Every hit I did sent him flying, ripping away at the stability of his magical suit. He kept hitting me back with various beam attacks, and at some point, I started bleeding. I felt my face and pulled my hand away to reveal a flurry wrist stained with red. Yet, I didn’t feel a thing besides euphoria.

I wasn’t even getting weaker. I just kept trying to tear him to shreds with the Soulstealer, and each time I got in what should’ve been a fatal hit, the damage on the Varia Suit was becoming more and more apparent. From a clean, metallic Gardevoir, to a mutation of a human face, his brain showing through the head of a Gardevoir, all the while maintaining the shape of the Varia Suit.

I took so many hits that he was screaming at me for not being dead yet. I just kept smiling, going back time and time again. I saw it through from start to finish until whatever mechanical shielding was protecting him from the Soulstealer’s power had worn off.

It ended with him knelt before me, an aged, human body with an exposed brain and the head shape of a Gardevoir. His arm cannon was still intact, pointed right at my chest, firing away with Energy Ball. I bent side to side from two of the point-blank hits, and then lunged forward, swinging and arm around at his head as hard as I could.

“I’ll kill you.”

My punch sent him to his backside, but he scrambled back to his feet to fire at me again. One of my legs curled around to slam down onto his arm, sounding like it broke it before he could fire at me again. Vine yelled out, crawling backwards and quickly falling over.

“I’ll kill you.”

He kicked at me to keep me back. I took another two of those kicks, and then grabbed one of his feet, dragging him toward me. Letting go let him desperately escape, but he didn’t get very far. He was breathing madly and screaming, guarding his face. He had given up on crawling away, even though he still could.

“I’ll… kill you.”

Something blurred. I slowed. My grip on the Soulstealer was wavering, like it was becoming too heavy for me. I struggled to keep staring at this pathetic figure, to keep my stance over it. Vine couldn’t attack me anymore, but he was painful to look at.

“I’ll… kill… you.”

What was the point in all of this if I wasn’t going to see it through to its end? I couldn’t face anyone anymore. It was over. Or maybe this was the limits of my body. Whatever it was, I was now having thoughts like this. My senses returning. A horrifying, immeasurable pain surging all over me, inside and out. For just a moment, I staggered forward, picturing myself. But now wasn’t the time for that.

“I’ll kill you.”

I pulled back as far as I could and thrust the Soulstealer right through Vine’s heart, pushing and pushing until my fingers were soaked in the blood of his chest. The moment they did, the blade of the Soulstealer vanished.

Then I hung limp. Stood over Professor Vine’s corpse, piercing its chest, in the centre of this heavenly plain. My eyes were shut, but a smile was on my face.

I technically had done everything I promised. I protected Asor. I defeated Vine. I opened a way for all the Pokémon trapped underground to be set free. I had avenged Azu. I even allowed Anne to live. It costed me my life, but I did nothing but good for the world. Now the Pokémon world was ridded of one more great evil that terrorized it. That means I can go and see Azu now, right?

Who am I kidding? We’re all going to Hell.
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Competitive Mijumaru
Epilogue: Fate

Professor Oak stared, unmoving, seemingly struck with fright by the statue stood before him. It was a statue unlike anything he had ever seen, resonating with powerful yet equal levels of dread and hope alike.

But it wasn’t like a statue that depicted a Pokémon legend or the tale of a previous professor’s discoveries. He had seen many of those in his lifetime, more than enough for those kinds of works to not mean anything to him. This one felt genuine, like something that had magically happened for no reason other than to make him feel guilty. The very first time he saw it, he knew that he had everything to do with it, even though it was all new to him.

It didn’t even make much sense in hindsight. It was a Lopunny stomping on a Gardevoir with one foot, holding what looked like a lance. The lance went right through the Gardevoir’s chest, while the psychic type’s pose told of its pain and struggle to fight back. Gardevoir possessed a cannon for a right arm that gave it a means to fight back, but in this visual piece, it had lost that bout.

The Lopunny had some extra details to it, like what looked to be excess fur covering one eye and flowing far behind its head. The Gardevoir on the other hand, that looked bulky and exposed. Its usual green ‘hair’ was replaced by the shape of a human brain, whilst its body was fat and rigid, not with muscle, but with its sheer size and armour.

Why these Pokémon? Why these details? And why was it so intricately designed? Oak hadn’t even blinked when he first laid eyes on it. He was too busy asking himself these questions.

“This is the exact spot where we found it, Professor,” an assistant said, straightening his glasses. “You’re aware of the legends surrounding this place, aren’t you?”

Professor Oak didn’t answer, but he did blink. His concentration on the statue intensified, so the assistant continued. “It’s called Destiny Tower. At the very peak is a statue of the mythical Pokémon Arceus. They say Arceus created the world, all the legendary and mythical Pokémon and all. You could argue that it is the God of all Pokémon, the creator. If the God of all Pokémon awaits at the top of this tower, then what does this statue depict? We’re in the very opposite direction, below the tower.”

“It doesn’t really take a genius. It’s a Lopunny and a Gardevoir. People have had their fair share of sin with those two,” another assistant said, shaking his head.

“It shows what it shows. Only the person who created either of the statues you’re talking about could ever tell you what they’re for,” Professor Oak said, turning his wheelchair around. “There’s no point in trying to guess. But I want this statue.”


“Please extract it and take it back to the lab. Afterwards, we’re leaving. No further exploration of this place is to continue. Do I make myself clear?” he said. His assistants nodded and got to work, relaying their orders to the multitude of excavators around, leaving him to collect his thoughts.

He gave the statue one more look, specifically the cannon on the Gardevoir’s arm. He knew what that, and only that exact thing was, and that was why it scared him so. It could only be explained as one thing: fate.

To think that fate could befall him at this age. He was preparing for retirement, closing up the lab in Pallet Town so that he wouldn’t have to deal with anything anymore and could rest in peace until inevitable death took him.

Yet still, fate snuck up on him when he least suspected it. It was fate that he decided to respond to that mysterious call and meet Professor Vine. It was fate that he had been called back here weeks after that meeting, finding that cannon. And it was fate that he was taking it into his own hands, despite not having long left. He could just leave it here and let any old billionaire make a legend out of the statue. But no, he wasn’t going to let fate pass him up like this and regret it.

“Vine… what did you do here?”
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