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Pokémon Origins Vol. III: The War of Armageddon [PG-13]

Discussion in 'Completed Fics' started by ~RaikouRider243~, May 20, 2007.

  1. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Pokémon Origins Vol. III: The War of Armageddon [PG-13]

    Finally, the third and final installment of Pokémon Origins is here! The series, more colloquially known as "The Beast Riders", makes one final return to the Sinnoh region!


    1) This fic will make much more sense if you have read the first two books in the series. If you haven't read them, I suggest you do so now.

    2) There are a trio of fakemon in this fic, introduced in Return of the Beasts. If you need more description as to their appearence, reread portions of that fic.

    3) I have not held back in description and realism in this fic. IT IS NOT FOR KIDDIES. It bears a PG-13 rating for many reasons. Besides the mild language and Pokémon violence of the previous two fics, there will be more drastic violence, as well as blood, in this one. If you are squeamish to allow this type of realism in your reading, please turn back now.

    Pokémon Origins
    Volume I: The Johto Saga
    Volume II: Return of the Beasts

    Chapter 1: Recall
    Chapter 2: Life for Terrorism
    Chapter 3: All Roads Lead to Sinnoh
    Chapter 4: Shalin's Hidden Talent
    Chapter 5: No Time For Plan B
    Chapter 6: The Coronet Skycity
    Chapter 7: Archer's Training, Version 1.0
    Chapter 8: The Lighthouse of Winds
    Chapter 9: The Beast of the Sea Lives
    Chapter 10: The Eye of the Storm
    Chapter 11: Out of the Freezer, and Into the Fire
    Chapter 12: An Unbearable Heat?
    Chapter 13: Return of the Blaze
    Chapter 14: A Familiar Landscape
    Chapter 15: Whipping into the Fray
    Chapter 16: Climbing the Peak
    Chapter 17: Cold Storm
    Chapter 18: The Speed of Lightning
    Chapter 19: Power of the Phoenix
    Chapter 20: Tied to the Darkness
    Chapter 21: Backtracking
    Chapter 22: The Place of the Gods
    Chapter 23: A Race Against Magick
    Chapter 24: Mirrored Paths
    Chapter 25: Ancient Grudge
    Chapter 26: The Fate of a Chosen
    Chapter 27: Coping with Reality


    Before time began, one being roamed the black void of nothingness. That being was Arceus, one possessing unfathomable power. It was not a white beast as it is depicted to be in the present, nor was it even a spirit; it was more like a god. No one knows the true extent of its power; some believed it to be omnipotent and omniscient.

    At the dawn of time, Arceus began crafting the world. The complete project took it twelve days; three days for the Kanto region in the east, three days for the Johto region in the west, three days for the Hoenn region in the south, and three days for the Sinnoh region in the north.

    During the first day of each set of three days, Arceus shaped each of those regions of the world. The red earth had been created. It was a superheated, inhospitable place of nothing but bare rock and oceans. There were still mountains, plateau Arceus reviewed his work the next day, and saw the world was absorbing too much of the sun's radiation for it to be hospitable.

    During the second day of the first cycle of days, Arceus surrounded the world with a blue sky and a coat of air today known as the atmosphere. The coat of air blocked the sun's rays in varying amounts, creating the many climates of the world. He saw that the world was still bare, and thus, on the second day of each cycle, created plant life to cover the bare earth. Arceus flew back to see his creation from a distance, and saw it was very good.

    During the third and final day of each cycle, Arceus saw there needed to be someone taking care of the world, or it would wither and die. On those days, he populated the world with almost 500 different kinds of Pokémon. He also filled the world with human beings. The humans and Pokémon were just like the rest of Arceus' creation, with one major difference: they had been given a free will. Arceus commanded humans and Pokémon to work together in taking care of the world.

    After the twelfth day of creation, Arceus stepped back to look at his work, and saw that it was very good. At the end of that day, the creator of the world entered his creation in the form of a white beast with a yellow ring of power around him. Arceus stood about one-and-a-half times the height of a human. Realizing that after taking on the form of a beast, it could not be omnipresent, it assigned its first and most powerful Pokémon creations to watch over the humans; sixteen Pokémon in all were chosen. Arceus picked those Pokémon due to their resistance to breeding; it took very special conditions for these Pokémon to have offspring. When these special Pokémon watched over the human race, Arceus faded back into hiding, observing the world to see it still functioned as he intended.

    Thousands of years later, humans started to bond more closely with Pokémon, and discovered their capabilities--many of them making their lives much easier. Unfortunately one of the discovered capabilites was combat. Shortly afterward, the region of Johto was split in two as it became a war zone. Cities were obliterated, and many lives were lost. As the war escalated and the Pokémon gained more fighting experience, their destructive powers became more potent.

    When it looked like Johto would become a wasteland, three legendary Beasts sent by Arceus raced from a small, neutral village known as Ecruteak toward the center of the fighting. Armored humans were mounted on the super-fast Pokémon, one wielding powers over ice and water; another capable of spewing bright fireballs; another an incarnation of lightning itself. The lightning Beast sped ahead of the other two so fast, no one except its rider could see it clearly. 150, 200, 250, even up to 300 miles an hour it charged toward the battlefield, eventually ramming into armies of both humans and Pokémon. What remained of the forces tried retreating, but their efforts were futile due to the seemingly supernatural speed of these elemental Beasts.

    The intervention of the legendary Beasts quickly forced terms of peace between the two factions, and cities were finally able to be rebuilt without fear of destruction. Arceus was concerned at how the interaction of humans and Pokémon could destroy the entire world. Taking a lesson from the "Beast Riders" as he called them, he searched the world for thirteen other humans, pure of heart, that could bond with the legendary Pokémon and protect the world from future conflicts. Arceus spread the seventeen legendary Pokémon throughout the world, looking for potential guardians from each region.

    Thousands of years later, the world had changed almost completely. There had not been a major war for decades. Gone were the small towns and villages; Goldenrod City, just south of Ecruteak, had become a metropolis. It was legal for ten-year-olds to raise Pokémon with assistance from an adult. Battling Pokémon was now considered a sport that tested the bond between trainer and Pokémon. Teenagers moved away from home at a much earlier age to go on journeys across the region. One thing had not changed, however, and that was the order of the legendary Pokémon. Like a dynasty ruling the ancient world, the ability to bond with legendary Pokémon was handed down through the generations by birthright. Some of the lines, however, had been broken by untimely death. In such a case, Arceus would assign one of its closest legendary Pokémon to choose new guardians for them.

    Ho-oh chose Josh, Ace, and Aravan to ride the Beasts just like the warriors of eons ago did. They saved the region of Johto from factions seeking to abuse the legendary Pokémon. They saved the region not once, but twice, from different organizations. Reluctant to let Beasts and riders remain together, Ho-oh at first declined to let them stay together without Arceus' consent. Later on, Ho-oh got Arceus' approval, and Beast and rider were bound together for life.

    The system of legend and rider held up since the beginning of time. Arceus did well in choosing the humans that would guard the most powerful of Pokémon. Over time, however, the lines between "guardian" and "trainer" have blurred, and the reins of power have shifted. The power in the order of the Legends has slowly shifted out of balance, and climates around the world have started to shift with that balance slowly falling away. With Arceus asleep again, the world is completely in the hands of Legend and rider. With the balance of power upset, it will only take a small spark to ignite an explosive war that would put the entire world at risk of being destroyed.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  2. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    ::gets out popcorn::

    I'm looking foward to seeing how this plays out
  3. ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~

    ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~ BlackFalcon!

    Really can't wait for this fic. From what you have shown me already this promises to be a brilliant fic.
  4. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Since the prologue was short I'll go ahead and post chapter 1. The next could be up as early as Sunday or as late as a week from today.

    Chapter 1: Recall

    (Accompanying BGM: "Giza Plains" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    A bright rainbow shot across the partly cloudy skies over Ecruteak City. It glowed with such brightness that it seemed to illuminate the entire expanse. Students bursted out of the classroom buildings on campus as classes ending at three o'clock had been dismissed. Pushing and shoving his way through the crowd, Ace was the first one to make it out. "Spring break!!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. The public safety officials near the building turned their heads toward Ace and stared at him with a confused look for a few seconds before watching automobiles and Pokémon come in and out of campus, looking for students violating the speed limit.

    After the crowd had cleared, Josh and Aravan exited the west classroom facility. "The usual spot, right?" Aravan asked.

    "That's what Ace said," Josh replied. "Ah, spring recess. A whole week to sit back and do whatever the hell we want. At least I can do whatever the hell I want. None of my classes have major projects due in the immediate-term." Josh started walking toward the north at a fast pace, but not fast enough to be mistaken for running. Aravan followed him.

    "In a hurry are you?" Suicune's rider teased him. "I don't have any major projects due either, so it's all good."

    The two passed the soccer and football fields, which, not surprisingly, were completely empty. "Practices must have been cancelled. No wonder Ace was so excited."

    A few hundred feet past the sports fields, the fencing surrounding the west and east sides of campus curved in and stopped at a dense forest. Directly north of the football field was a dirt road cutting into the wooded area. When Josh saw that road and the clearing surrounded by forest, it all came back to him. He started to reminisce about his first day with Raikou; it was that wonderful day two years ago. "Ah, yes...those were the days..."

    "Save it for them!" Aravan shouted nearly in Josh's ear, waking him up from his daydream. Shalin and Eron chuckled. The red-armored Ace gave Josh the look of a Misdreavus.

    "Where have you been? We've been waiting for you for twenty minutes!" he snapped.

    Aravan stepped forward to explain. "We didn't push everyone out of the way like you always do for one, and for two, we stayed back to talk with the professor for a few minutes."

    "I was about to call bull-**** on you until you mentioned the professor. Okay, that's reasonable, I guess. Now, Josh, continue." Shalin and Eron turned their heads toward Josh, listening intently.

    "This is the field I first trained with Raikou in, and Aravan with Suicune. I can still recount what happened to this day perfectly..."


    "Wait!" Aravan yelled. "Suicune, catch up to him!" The beast followed Josh and Raikou to the spot he had talked about. The two legendary Pokémon were very impressed at how their riders were handling them. When Aravan reached the field, he was surprised at the size of the clearing.

    "You're right, Josh," Aravan said. "This would be perfect for Raikou and Suicune to run. With this large an area, it will still take a while for them to cross it, even at full speed.

    "Josh!" Raikou said directly to his rider.

    "Yes? Do you have an idea?"

    "This clearing is perfect for our training, Josh. With this much space, I have an idea for speeding up the training process. When I run around this field, I will slowly increase my speed. When you can't take it anymore, say so and I will quit accelerating. Then I will just run around the field, letting you get used to the speed."

    "That is a great idea!"

    Aravan and Suicune had a similar discussion regarding their training. Anxious to ride like the wind, Aravan had Suicune summon a large gust of wind behind itself. The water-type cheetah then made a low jump with the wind at its back, causing them to quickly accelerate to roughly forty-five miles per hour. The strong wind remained at Suicune's back, and intensified at the beast picked up even more speed.

    Josh's ride was less dramatic, but he seemed more interested in racing his beast than Aravan did his. They got a much slower start than Suicune, but picked up speed at a higher rate. By the time they caught up to Aravan and Suicune, the two beasts were running at about seventy miles per hour. Though that is fast, the two riders had a long way to go. Shortly after Josh passed Aravan, the speed was too much for either of them to bear. Josh and Raikou fell back, with both beasts leveling off their speed at eighty miles per hour.

    When the two of them reached the end of the field several minutes later, Josh wanted to ask Aravan a question, but he then realized the message would not reach him. The air around them both was moving too fast to hear a conversation. A good fifteen minutes of nothing but fun-filled racing across the field at high speed were Josh's and Aravan's to enjoy.


    "I didn't get the privilege of a joyride when training with Zoltin," Eron recalled, shooting an arrow at a tree branch behind Josh. It cut straight through the branch and fell to the ground.

    "Wow," the Raikou rider replied, "that must have been difficult, training in the middle of battle."

    "Actually I was just a watch for our squad, so I could ease into my Beast's speed so long as I did my job at the same time. Less a watch, more a spy. The only two things I had to do were gather information and stay out of sight. Other than that I was free to do whatever I wanted up there."

    "That's how you got so used to him to quickly. I spent days in this field training with Raikou until I could handle all of his speed. Aravan and Ace too. Speaking of Ace, where is he?"

    "He should be sitting right next to me," Shalin answered, then peered to her left. Ace was nowhere in sight. "Wonder what was so important that made him leave?" Josh and Aravan peered around the field, but Ace was nowhere to be found. A few moments after the group resumed chatter, a loud whinny pierced the ears of the four Beast Riders as a Rapidash charged toward Aravan from the east. He dove out of the way, but the fire Pokémon turned around to charge again. Just when the diamond-hard hooves were about to stop Aravan, the Pokémon leaped over him, soaring eighteen feet into the air before coming to a stop. Ace was onboard the Pokémon.

    "Wahoo!" Ace yelled after dismounting.

    "Next time, could you watch where you're going?!" Aravan hollered back. "You just about crushed my shoulder bone and more!"

    "Where were you, Ace?" Shalin asked. "You were sitting next to me one moment. The next, you were gone!"

    "Ho-oh summons us," Ace announced. "We must meet at the Tin Tower's peak." The Beast Riders held their weapons to the sky as Eron fired a light arrow straight into the air. The five legendary Pokémon raced into the clearing, awaiting their riders. The chosen mounted theit Beasts and sped out of the field, toward Tin Tower. The Beast Riders chose to take the back roads to avoid the speed-regulated, busy streets of Ecruteak.

    Storm clouds started to move in from the northeast at an alarming rate of speed.. Josh could tell something was amiss. "Storms don't come in this fast around here normally. We need to hurry before it starts raining and lightning! Raikou, let's go faster!" Electricity flowed among Raikou's legs as all five Beasts sped toward the tower. Just as Suicune caught up with the other Beasts, the largest lightning bolt Josh had ever seen struck two miles to the east, igniting a large explosion.

    (Accompanying BGM: "A Speechless Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    "Suicune, change course!" Aravan yelled. The five Beasts made a sharp right turn toward a residential and light commercial district of the city. As the fire loomed closer, they discovered what had been struck--a gasoline station, completely destroyed in the explosion as well as an automotive repair shop to the east of it. The strong northeast wind fanned the flames to the west of the station, threatening many homes and small businesses. When they were a third of a mile from the site, Aravan peered up into the sky. A bird just bigger than Pidgeot circled around the smoke caused by the explosion. Its feathers were colored the two colors of a warning sign--black and yellow. What shocked Aravan more, was a long, yellow cape somehow floating just above the bird.

    "Oh my god..."

  5. Saphira_Thorn

    Saphira_Thorn Banned

    Excellent chapter RaikouRider. I'm assuming the bird is Zapdos, although I've got no idea of why it would have a cape attached to it.
  6. ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~

    ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~ BlackFalcon!

    The cape is probably another rider.
    I wonder how Aravan and Suicune will handle this. Suicune's Ice attacks will be an asset but Zapdos' electric attacks are very strong and are super effective on Suicune. And Aravan's ice resistant armour won't help matters much.
  7. Max204

    Max204 *Boink!*

    Could you perhaps Post a link to the previous books in this series? Searching this forum is death.
  8. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Links added to first post as per request.

    This one turned out short...not even 3 pages in MS Word. I hope it isn't too short...


    Chapter 2: Life for Terrorism

    (Accompanying BGM: "A Speechless Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Puzzled at the sudden attack on his hometown, half of Josh wanted to take his rage out on the yellow bird, and the other half wanted to run away and figure out why it was attacking such a small city. As the avion heard emergency vehicle sirens, it started to create massive wind gusts with its electrically charged wings, fanning the flames closer to a residential area. More small businesses were set ablaze with no time to save anything; they could only be evacuated.

    Fire crews released water Pokémon and armed hoses to put the fire out. Dozens of Water Gun attacks were aimed at the blaze. Zapdos turned around to face the emergency rescue crews, and dropped lightning bolts all around them and their Pokémon as a warning sign. More buildings caught fire, including the Ecruteak Dance Hall. "Stop now," the bird's voice boomed, "or you're next!"

    The brave firefighters and their Pokémon continued to pour water over the burning buildings. After fifteen additional seconds of warning time, the sky erupted with lightning, and large bolts came crashing down upon the Pokémon and firefighters. Every single one died instantly from the massive electrical assault.

    Aravan pleaded with the Beast Riders that they intervene, and they did. The attacking Pokémon turned around to fan the dwindling fire onto the residential area. Several homes caught fire. Suicune fired an Ice Beam from the crystal on its forehead, but with a powerful wing beat, its target surged toward the sky, out of the beam's way. At the very least, it grabbed the bird's attention. It landed in front of the burning buildings, close to Ace and Entei. All five of them recognized the bird as Zapdos, not surprisingly. What made their hearts jump in fear was the yellow cape floating above it.

    The bird turned to one side, revealing a female human dressed in yellow robes, wearing said cape. In her right hand, she held a white rod with a large, lightning bolt-shaped jewel at the business end. No one could tell for sure at the moment, but Josh suspected that it was capable of harnessing some kind of lightning magick.

    Possibly the biggest shocker of all was the girl's age. She looked even younger than Shalin, yet had already mastered lightning in the same way Josh did with Raikou. She shouted, "Arceus claims what is rightfully his, and you WILL cooperate with him!" Lightning bolts struck all around Ace and Aravan.

    Josh stepped up in front of his other four allies, representing them in the conversation. "Okay, first of all, who the hell are you; second, why are you attacking the city; and third, what specifically does Arceus want?"

    "In order, I will answer. First, you have no right to know who I am; second, I am attacking the city as a first step to purge the world of idealists like you and your friends; and finally, Arceus wants to restore the balance of the world. Now it is my turn to ask the questions. By whose order do you command your Beasts?"

    "Ho-oh's. Has it taken this long for you to learn of this? We've been with the Beasts for two, going on three years now!"

    (Accompanying BGM: "Boss Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    "Arceus grows tired of your insurgence, as do I."

    "And what is an unsolicited attack on a city? Is that not insurgence?"

    "It is holy war. Enough meaningless talk, en garde!!"

    Zapdos flew back into low-lying storm clouds, finding a Beast Rider to put in its crosshairs. "Aravan," Eron started, "you should put out these fires. We'll focus on Zapdos in the meantime. Aravan and Suicune headed toward the raging fires, and the Beast sprayed powerful water blasts all over the blaze. Lightning bolts dropped around the two one time, then ceased as Zapdos centered its attention on the other four Beast Riders.

    "Eron, you're key to winning this fight with Zapdos," Shalin reasoned. "You're the only one of us that can reach it reliably. Try to lure them to the ground so we can hit them easier." Eron nodded, then Zoltin took to the air at tremendous speed, flying directly in front of Zapdos while shooting arrows at its face. It dodged Zapdos' counterattacks with bursts of Extreme Speed. With each successive counter, Eron led the bird lower to the ground, when finally, a pair of bolts struck the rider through his back, right over a vein. Blood oozed out of the electrical wound, making a spot on his back look like a giant rash.

    Shalin rushed toward the injured Beast Rider and protected him from further attacks as best as she could while tending to Eron's wounds. Zoltin, miraculously, was relatively unharmed after the attack. Midori helped assess Eron's condition. They deemed the injuries to be serious, but not life-threatening. Josh and Ace didn't even notice their comrade fall; the Raikou rider continued to lure Zapdos around while Ace and Entei let loose blasts of fire.

    The legendary bird's rider raised her magick rod into the air. Shortly afterward, a lightning bolt struck it, recharging its power fully. She held it at her side, then Zapdos rushed in wild circles around the Beast Riders, making the female dizzy. The rapid twirling of the rod discharged electrical energy in shock waves, knocking the Beast Riders off their mounts. Entei leaped at Zapdos, knocking it and its rider out of the sky and into a vulnerable position on the ground. However, the legend was far from defenseless. It traded blows with Entei, jabbing its beak into the fire-type and slowing its movements with a paralyzing burst of electricity in return for its rival's Flamethrower.

    Just as Entei began charging another Flamethrower attack, Zapdos recovered from the first inferno and flew over to where its rider was. The young female jumped back onboard her Pokémon. "It...isn't over!" she yelled laboriously before Zapdos flew back into the thunderstorm, out of sight.

    (Silence BGM)

    The damage from the lightning strikes and the battle with Zapdos was heavy. Twenty people lost their lives in the blaze, with sixteen more injured. Two homes and four small businesses burned to the ground completely, with many more buildings suffering fire damage. Early estimates put the damage from the lightning strikes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    When the legendary bird had long been gone, Beasts and riders crowded around Eron. "Are you alright?" Ace asked. With a glow of Suicune's forehead crystal, Zoltin and Eron were bathed in a blue healing light. Eron sat up.

    "Depends on your definition of 'alright'," he replied. "I'm going to make it, if that's what you mean. But I feel far from alright; I'm in a great deal of pain."

    "Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?" Josh asked.

    "Get me back in bed, with a proper wound dressing, before I lose any more blood."

    Rather than Eron flying on his own back to campus, Josh propped him up onboard Raikou, in front of him to be sure he kept his balance. When the five arrived at the dormitory, Shalin placed several large bandages over the electrical burns and tears, minizing further blood loss. After the bandages were in place, Eron's head fell into the pollow on the end of the bed, and he fell fast asleep. From the way his head fell, it looked like he lost consciousness. Josh placed his first two fingers over Eron's neck. "He has a pulse. He's not in a coma, just asleep. We can't do anything without him, so we should relax and rest up ourselves." At that, the heroes of the day scattered to their rooms, assuredly resting after a hard-fought battle.

  9. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 3: All Roads Lead to Sinnoh

    (Accompanying BGM: "The Dalmasca Estersand" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Fully refreshed from the battle with Zapdos, Ace was the first of the Beast Riders to wake the next morning. Not surprisingly, he was glued to his computer almost immediately, even eating breakfast in front of it. When Josh came knocking on his door over two hours later, the Entei rider wasn't even dressed. "Ho-oh has summoned us," he delivered the news once more. "It's been a day since our leader called for a meeting; best we don't wait any longer."

    Ace sighed, then turned the computer monitor off. "I'm not even dressed yet!" he hollered.

    "It's ten in the damn morning and you're still not dressed?!"

    "Dude, yesterday was tiring--I just about passed out from all the lightning in the air. Gimme a break!"

    The arguing at Ace's door continued for almost fifteen minutes before the other riders found Josh seemingly talking to a wall there. He finally opened up after getting dressed.

    "It is a sin to defy Ho-oh's words," Eron said to Ace. "No time for games now, we must scale the Tin Tower again."

    "Gimme a damn break, I'm still a little tired from yesterday!!" Ace screamed loud enough to disturb people inside the rooms both directly east and west of his. He came out of the room in his usual red light armor. The group exited campus, mounted their Beasts, and raced off toward the northeast, toward Tin Tower.

    About halfway toward the tower, after leaping over a large hill, Aravan noticed Shalin and Midori were nowhere to be found, but kept to himself about it. He knew she wouldn't run off without a reason, but he couldn't help wear a look of worry on his face the rest of the ride to the sacred structure. He told Suicune to pick up the pace, which it did. When the other riders saw Suicune moving faster, their Beasts raced alongside, the tower coming into visibility.

    Just then, a green blur rushed by Ace on the right. He sped ahead to discover Shalin was pushing Midori as hard as she could run, all the way up to unsafe Extreme Speeds. The Beast kicked up a large amount of dust in the sudden deceleration upon reaching the tower. The dust didn't clear until after the others arrived behind her. "What's the big rush?" Ace asked. Shalin's face was red; it was red with anger and frustration.

    (Silence BGM)

    "Ecruteak's Dance Hall is gone, that's what!" she cried. "I used to go there every week! But now...burned to the ground by fire and lightning! All because of that freak on Zapdos!" Her cry turned into a scream. "In the name of Ho-oh, I swear that I will kill that woman with these hands and this whip!!" That out of her mouth, she started crying again. When the Beasts trod up the spiraling ramp on the inside of the tower, Shalin and Midori lagged way behind, rider in great sorrow over the loss of the dance hall.

    Midori's rider felt slightly better upon seeing Ho-oh perched at the top of the tower. "Shalin's feeling a bit angry at the destruction Zapdos and rider wreaked on the city," Aravan said to the bird. "The city's only Dance Hall was destroyed in yesterday's explosion, and she used to go there once a week to dance the night away."

    (Accompanying BGM: "Theme of the Empire" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    "I understand her sorrow," the rainbow avion replied. "Losing something or someone you love very much can be an almost insurmountable hurdle to overcome. I have had to go through that the first time the humans hunted your Beasts down. Their success was not perfect, as they could not live apart from me, as slaves to power-hungry people. Now, to the reason why I called you here."

    "I can form a reasonable explanation myself," Josh interrupted, "but please confirm why we are here again."

    "That attack on Ecruteak City was just the beginning. Similar strikes are taking place all over the world. The balance of power among the Order has been loosened out of place; men are trying to reclaim the reins of history. You five are fine examples of how humans and Pokémon as powerful as your Beasts are supposed to act together. Some of the others, not so much."

    "Like that brat on Zapdos," Shalin added.

    "Precisely. They are hell-bent upon 'purging' the world of 'corrupt' trainers. What they really are doing is forcing anyone who is a match for them to come out and perish at their hands. Zapdos was not himself; I could tell that much. The bond of love and care between legend and guardian has shattered, reformed as a mental whip; a one-sided relationship with the rider as a slave-driver of sorts. The legends rage out of the power imbalance, and power-hungry humans in this faction intended to use that rage to brainwash them while their thinking was not clear. I, for one, am happy that as Beast Riders, you have not let that power get to your heads."

    "Well, Josh let the speed get to his head many times before," Ace joked.

    "You too, Ace, almost getting us the biggest speeding ticket in Ecruteak history!" Josh snapped back. "You're just as much of a speed freak as I am!"

    "Only because your directions to the mall were slightly wrong--"

    "Enough, you two boys," Ho-oh interrupted, bringing the argument to a sudden end. "Being bent on thrilling speed isn't wrong at all; you're encouraged to have harmless fun while not on duty. Don't think I forgot the time you spent in the field Beast riding after you dealt with Akuji, though the speeds you achieved were a bit unsafe. I've gone too far off on a tangent now; I need to explain what's going on and what you can do to stop this madness. Draw your weapons."

    The Beast Riders did so, Ace even assuming a fighter's stance. "And why are we doing this?" Aravan asked.

    "You may have noticed this by now, but there are hollows in the guards of your swords. Relics from the ancient war were placed in there, but were hidden away in remote areas of the Sinnoh region for safekeeping. And even if one were to know the locations of these relics, it would take both the appropriate Beast and the skill with that Beast to make it out alive with the relic. The places these relics rest in are dangerous labyrinths with traps only Beast and rider can cross, and only with the most cunning of minds."

    Eron stood forth to accept his task, shooting an arrow into the sun. "So, where exactly are these labyrinths located, and what exactly do these things do?"

    "I'm not sure; the Great Arceus never filled me in on those details. I did a couple times overhear him talking about it though, and this is what I can piece together. Listen carefully. Five shrines in Sinnoh are the entrances to these labyrinths; they will be easy to recognize because of the archaic building style and the wear on the structure itself. Now as to their locations, I do now know exactly where they are. What I do know, however, is that one lies atop a peak ravaged with lightning, making the naturally mountainous terrain even worse to travel."

    "Sounds like my destination," Josh deduced.

    "Another was carved inside an active volcano, this one radiating of flames so hot that most people who enter cannot breathe. The heat slowly melts the corpses of fallen adventurers away, but that process is often accelerated by lava splashing up as a result of the very powerful Pokémon that make their homes there."

    "Ace, that sounds like where we're going," Entei reasoned.

    "Another lies atop a high cliff far to the east, where heavy storms constantly batter the peninsula it lies on. Just making it through the intense winds is an accomplishment."

    "Aravan, that sounds like where you and Suicune should go," Eron suggested. "If Zoltin were to try to fly there, we'd be blown out of the air from the sound of it."

    "A fourth lies on a remote island far to the northeast, filled with a lush jungle all around, and a view of a mountain range in the distance. A place where all sorts of trees grow."

    "That sounds vaguely familiar," Shalin replied.

    "The final shrine floats above the highest peak in Sinnoh. Floating a thousand feet above the peak, it is only accessible by air."

    "Blatantly obvious who goes there," Ace jeered, "seems how you're the only one who can fly." Eron remained silent.

    "What sort of things are we to expect there?" Shalin asked Ho-oh.

    "The labyrinths were designed specifically with the Beasts in mind. If you are familiar with all of the skills of your Beast, you have all the tools you need to uncover the relic inside. However, you cannot rely totally on your Beast. You must rely on both your Beast and your own skills. This is why you have been given swords and such."

    "So I guess all that sparring we did will finally pay off, Josh!" Ace snickered.

    "At least my arm or shoulder won't burn this time," Josh jeered back. He turned to Ho-oh. "Sinnoh's way north of here, past the desert even. How are we gonna get there?"

    "I was getting to that. I'll create a rainbow, one your Beasts can carry you across. If you recall, I did this same thing taking you to Birth Island two years ago. Now, Ace, I believe I still owe you a reward for your change of attitude." After a rainbow shot out from the Tin Tower straight north and everyone was mounted on their Beasts, Ho-oh lowered its right wing next to Ace. "I'll give you and one of your friends a chance to fly across the sea to Sinnoh."

    Excited to fly on the rainbow bird, he quickly chose Josh. Each one stood on one of Ho-oh's wings as it lifted them onto its back. "I feel honored to fly on you, Ho-oh," Josh complimented.

    "No need to be formal with me at the moment," the avion replied. "Now, are you ready for a wild thrill ride?"

    The two gripped Ho-oh tightly, not knowing what to expect. A white and yellow flame lit up on Ho-oh's tail feathers, flinging it ahead of the Beasts. As not to leave the others completely in the dust, the bird swooped up high above the rainbow walkway, flying erratically. Ace almost went flying after a sudden dive to loop around to the other side of the rainbow. Ace and Josh should have been scared of the incredible speed, but weren't--the joy of flying on Ho-oh overshadowed any fear of wild speed.

    Keeping that in mind when a large city came into sight, the white and yellow flames on Ho-oh's tail turned blue and white, shooting it forward faster than a Charizard sprays a Flamethrower attack. Ace and Josh screamed out of both joy and fear, as if on a roller coaster about to go over the big hill. The extra speed gave Ho-oh time to land before the Beasts arrived just outside Jubilife City's borders. As the legendary Pokémon jumped off the rainbow, it disappeared.

    "Do not take your Beasts into the city; they should wait outside it. And try to be quick about your stay here. You've come to obtain a Sinnoh region map from Tourist Information as well as ask around for clues as to the shrines' exact locations."

    "Will do," Josh replied promptly, leaping from the legendary bird with Ace. At the moment they jumped off, Ho-oh sped away toward the south once more. The three remaining riders leaped off their Beasts and headed into town, Josh and Shalin leading the way.

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2007
  10. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    I'm not that pleased with how this turned out. Special Thanks to FlamingRuby for help with this chapter. Hope you like it.


    Chapter 4: Shalin's Hidden Talent

    Jubilife was far and away the largest city in Sinnoh. Skyscrapers dotted the center of the town, and almost every business was built with high-quality building materials. Josh spotted a building called "Tourist Information" on the left side of the main street, but another building piqued Ace's interest.

    "Hey, there's an arcade on the other side of that street!" Ace said to his fellow Beast Riders as they passed through Jubliife City's main street.

    "Ho-oh sent us on a mission here guys, not to loaf around and play games," Josh replied, trying to keep the group on task. "We're supposed to be researching the locations of the ancient shrines where we are to receive more power from the Great Phoenix." Somewhat stern in his tone of voice, Josh made it clear that the faster they complete their mission, the less likely a major power imbalance among legendary Pokémon would occur.

    As they passed the window, one particular machine piqued Shalin's interest. She stopped to get a closer look. "Come on, Josh, there's a Dancing Star machine in there! And it's even the tenth anniversary edition!" she pleaded.

    When she mentioned Dancing Star, Josh stopped. "On second thought, I guess we could use a break. So long as we collect our information in there...I suppose we could have a little fun." Shalin rushed ahead into the building, not even holding the door for her friends. By the time the others entered, she had already made a beeline to the dance cabinet. Josh collected the four remaining riders' money and exchanged it for gaming tokens at the counter.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Xepher" - Tatsh - Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA)

    By the time they reached Shalin at the dance cabinet, she was already moving her feet like crazy, in Eron's eyes. "What is this crazy game?" he asked.

    "Dancing Star, a rhythm game that is played using your feet. The basic concept is pressing the correct panels on the floor, in time with the music. It's sort of like real dancing, but way more intense and not really dancing." Josh led the way to the source of the fast organ music accompanied by medieval choir vocals. The volume was set high enough that it could be heard from just about the entire arcade--the largest one in the entire region. "She plays that song every time."

    There was a large, light blue sign on the right side of the machine, indicating that the arcade they were in was being used as a test location for the game. It explained all the new features of this edition of Dancing Star as opposed to the last edition.

    New features include:
    - Over 450 songs, including 50 brand-new tunes not on any other edition in addition to 20 new crossovers from other rhythm games!

    - Classic hits return to Dancing Star, such as "Butterfly" and "So Deep"!

    - New "Cooperative" play! Tackle charts designed for two players to obtain the highest score together!

    - New "Expert" difficulty! Artists from the former rhythm game series "Groovin'" have added even more difficult note charts to almost every song for the hardest of the hardcore players!

    - Return of "Long Version" songs! Play longer versions of your favorite songs!

    - Expanded modifier menus! Customize your game like never before!

    - USB and Memory Card support to play your own edit steps and save your dancing stats!

    - Custom Songs! With a compatible USB memory stick, you can load your own songs and steps, and play them in front of everyone watching you!

    In small print below, details on custom songs are as follows:

    Memory stick must contain both music file in .ogg format and note chart file in .edit format. Song length limit: 6 minutes. Songs longer than 2 minutes require 2 stages to play. Songs longer than 4 minutes require 3 stages to play.


    Eron was completely dumbfounded when he saw Shalin's feet move even faster across the four panels, picking up the sixteenth notes near the end of the song perfectly. "She'll break her legs up there!"

    "Eron, she's been playing for longer than I have, and I've been playing for almost three years now. This song isn't hard for her, even on the highest difficulty." Just as he said this, Shalin finished the song with a high grade without even breaking a sweat. Josh turned toward her. "Nice A, Shalin. Mind if I demonstrate for Eron next round?" She nodded in response. "Eron, watch her. She's really good."

    "I don't know if I can...my eyes are practically bleeding from watching her feet move inhumanly fast!"

    (Accompanying BGM: MAX 300 - OMEGA - Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix -Max-)

    After browsing through the song wheel for over a minute, Shalin finally stopped on a very fast hardcore techno song feared by many dancers as the first truly difficult song in the game. Not many people pass. Most players knew this kind of hardcore techno by one name: MAX. The "Voltage Bar" in the preview graph of the song was so long, it broke the scale. The Zoltin rider turned away, unable to watch what he deemed was "insanity". When she pressed the down arrow twice to move to "Expert" difficulty, the radar on the left receded to form a blue question mark. The difficulty level to the right of the word "Expert" was also indicated by a question mark. Seeing that the chart had not been passed yet, Shalin stepped on the up arrow twice to set the difficulty back to "Heavy".

    Almost right after the song started, arrows for Shalin to follow were flying up the screen. It took them less than a second to make it to the top, leaving her with very little time to react and get her feet in place.

    Shortly after the unmistakable beat echoed through the arcade, a crowd of gamers migrated toward the machine, watching in awe as Shalin nailed the first string of ten-steps-per-second madness. "Apparently no one around here is any good, if this impresses people," Josh remarked. "At the arcade I play Dancing Star at, I didn't get any kind of crowd when I missed only five steps on this song." She tightly clutched the red bar behind her as the most difficult string began: a series of 33 arrows, moving all around the pad, at a rate of ten arrows per second. Her body dropped lower to the ground as she put most of her weight on the bar to nail the entire run. The crowd cheered her on the whole way. Eron shivered after hearing the machinegun-like footsteps. "Amazing, Shalin. Keep it up."

    About halfway through the song, the arrows--and the song--came to a complete stop. For about a second and a half, there was complete silence. Then without warning, the song started up again, resuming its breathless pace with more steps sounding like an automatic weapon. It wasn't just the steps--the drums in the background sounded that way, too. A seemingly synchronized groan echoed around the machine as the restart caught her off guard, causing her to miss the next several notes. The word "DANGER" in large, red print flashed in the background, signaling she was about to lose if she missed more. Heavy breathing could be heard when she made it to a part with relatively simple steps and jumps. Her steps sounded anything but steady in the home stretch, particularly on the last string of insanity to end it.

    Shalin leaned heavily on the bar as she awaited her results. When they came up, the observers crowded around the machine even closer, most of them unable to believe what they saw. "Machine Record #1" flashed below her percentage score of 88%, with a letter grade of "A" just above that. The crowd of gamers applauded, with Aravan emerging from the crowd, updating Josh on his progress. Next to him was a young lady still applauding for Shalin even after the crowd had stopped. "You're not from around here, are you?" she asked. "No one around here is nearly as good as you are."

    "My name is Shalin, and I am from the region of Johto. The great Ho-oh has sent us on a mission here, but we need the right information. There supposedly is a peak ravaged with lightning and an active volcano in the region. Can you help?"

    "Maya is my name, and I'm not from here either. I'm from the Hoenn region, on a tour of Sinnoh. Since I'm a big fan of Dancing Star, I popped in here for a break. You're an awesome dancer, Shalin!"

    "Thanks. I've been waiting for more difficult charts to try, since Josh doesn't make them for me very often."

    "Josh...that a friend of yours?"

    Shalin gestured toward Josh, who was about to man the left set of arrows on the machine. Maya, saying nothing more, ran up to Josh and asked, "Mind if I join you?"

    "Not at all!" The two inserted credit into the machine. "I'll take first and third songs?"

    (Accompanying BGM: "Giudecca" - D.J.SETUP - Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3)

    "Works for me." Ace and Aravan left for the food lounge on the east side of the arcade. They thought that would be the best place to gather information about Sinnoh. Josh scrolled through the song list, sorted by music genre. When there were 30 seconds left on the selection clock, he highlighted a very trancey, almost ambient song. "This alright?"

    "Never played it." Maya noted the "Standard" steps to have a difficulty of 6--just her level. Josh, on the other hand, kept flipping his difficulty back and forth between "Heavy" and "Expert". Just as the clock was about to run out, he stopped on "Expert" and held the selection button down to enter the modifier menu. "How fast is this song?" she asked.

    "154 beats per minute," Josh answered. "Two-and-a-half speed for me. Even though it's Expert, I can handle it. Maya adjusted her arrow scroll speed to 1.5 times normal. When the song began playing, the difficulty of the Expert chart was revealed: 10. In previous editions, the difficulty scale ranged from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest. Now, with Expert charts added, no one knew what number was at the top of the curve.

    As one would expect, Maya's steps were relatively simple, for the most part only stepping with the beat of the song as well as the occasional eighth note. A sudden, short pause in the music threw Maya off guard completely, almost failing out before finding her rhythm.

    Josh's steps on the left side were rather complicated. He clutched the bar behind him, stepping the odd rhythms of the opener perfectly. After an eighth note run that could be considered a break, his steps started matching the main melody of the song, sixteenth notes and all. "Why are Josh's arrows moving faster than Maya's?" Eron asked Shalin. "Is it part of the increased difficulty?"

    "In the options menu, you can set how fast you want the arrows to move," she answered. "Anywhere from normal speed to six times that in increments of one-half."

    "But why would anyone want to make the arrows move faster than they had to?"

    "Spread them out, make them easier to read. I find it much more difficult to read slow-moving clumps of arrows than ones that move very fast. Also you have less information to process at once, making it much easier to stay close to the beat and keep getting Marvelouses and Perfects."

    After another break like the one in the beginning, Josh faced the most difficult part of the song: a machinegun run of sixteenth notes followed by some very syncopated rhythms. The combo counters continued to climb, the announcer screaming for Josh when he hit a milestone, "Four hundred combos!!"

    The closer the song came to a close, the more syncopated and odd the rhythms got. The ending mess was a bunch of seemingly random steps sounding at first like gallops, but that quickly changed over into sixteenth rhythms getting longer and longer until it finally stopped to let the dancers see their results. Josh was happy with his full combo but dismayed at what he called "horrible" accuracy. Maya smiled over her "A" grade.

    Maya flipped through the alphabetical song wheel, flipping to a song called "Golden Sky". "Let's do this last," Josh objected, "I'd like to see what the extra stage is." The Raikou rider flipped over one letter to "H", and scrolled down to a song in red letters.

    (Accompanying BGM: Healing-D-Vision - DE-STRAD - Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA)

    "Any song in red is considered to be a "boss" song," Shalin explained. "Those tend to be the most difficult songs in the game, and are usually rated a difficulty of 10 on Heavy. These are the songs I stay away from Expert on for sure." When Josh saw the 12 difficulty rating for the Expert steps, he immedialely slammed the up arrow twice.

    "Expert chart is a piece of crap," Josh said after changing his difficulty. "Maya, this is hard. Might want to drop down to Light," he suggested.

    "I'll be fine," she replied. "You won't fail, right?"

    "Probably not," Josh answered, but not confidently as he held the song selection button down and adjusted his speed back to normal. "The end of this is very fast. Turn your speed mod off," he advised. Maya did so before exiting the modifier menu.

    Another trance song blared out of the speakers, but this one was more of a hard trance; a song befitting of a battle even. It started out very easy for both players: a few simple gallops for Josh, and the occasional eighth note for Maya. It stayed this way for the entire first half of the song until jumps matched each accented note on Josh's side. He was getting quite a workout keeping up with the double steps.

    The double speed Josh warned came in the last third of the song, and Maya started to lose her beat, her green eyes unable to read the arrows fast enough to tell her legs what to do. Stomping on random arrows to stay in the song as long as she could, she tripped over an arrow bracket and sprained her right ankle, falling off the stage. "Are you alright?" Aravan asked out of concern.

    "Tried too hard. Aside from pain in my knee and ankle, I'm fine."

    What Maya tripped over was nothing compared to what Josh was going through. After the speed-up to 360 beats per minute, he had to tackle runs of four to seven eighth notes at the super-fast tempo: a tall task indeed. "Keep that bar up!" she cheered. Raikou's rider started to fall behind the more intense the streams got. "DANGER" flashed in the background the moment he made it to the closing series of jumps, which he nailed. By the end of the song, his breath was labored, but a smile was on his face. "Whew...I actually...passed..." it took Josh seemingly forever to say. He didn't care about the low grade; he was just looking for a pass.

    (Accompanying BGM: Golden Sky - SMiLE.dk - Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA)

    For his final song, Josh highlighted "Golden Sky" for Maya--the song she had in mind. "Are you well enough to do this?" he asked her.

    "My ankle feels horrible...sorry."

    Shalin cut in on the right side of the machine to take Maya's place, adjusting the difficulty to Expert and her arrow speed back to 3. This, however, was a very easy Expert chart, garnering only a difficulty rating of 8. The entire time, the chart followed one of two things exactly: the vocals or the melody.

    There was nothing unique, or even difficult about the chart; what made the song so high in the popularity rank is the euro dance tune was catchy, easy to get stuck in one's head. Unable to dance with her ankle in the shape it was, she instead broke out in song, singing along.


    Welcome to the wonderland
    A place for you and me

    If you treat me right
    Then maybe you will have a key

    This world is very special
    And I’ll show it just for you

    All you have to say is "yes I do"

    Let us fly-ay-ay ay-ay
    To the golden sky
    It’s the paradise of smile
    Where the sun always shine

    Let us fly-ay-ay ay-ay
    To the golden sky
    It’s the paradise of smile
    Where the sun always shine

    Let us fly-ay-ay ay-ay
    To the golden sky
    It’s the paradise of smile
    Where the sun always shine

    Let us fly-ay-ay ay-ay
    To the golden sky
    It’s the paradise of smile
    Where the sun always shine


    Right up until the ending note, her voice seemed to echo the one coming out from the machine. As soon as the results screen flashed, a siren blared out of the speaker in response to a pair of "AA" grades from Josh and Shalin. "Uh-oh..." Josh moaned. Hearing the siren, nearly everyone in the arcade, including staff members, crowded around the machine, amazed at the scores the two achieved.

    (Accompanying BGM: Fascination MaxX - 100-200-400 - Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA)

    The song wheel popped up again after the timer expired, with the words "Extra Stage" flashing at the top of the screen. All the songs were darkened except two. Both songs were in red print, and the difficulty setting was locked on Hard. The song radar again became a question mark, and even the speed of the song was hidden. Modifiers were locked also; the song had to be played at 1.5x arrow speed. Knowing the difficulty of the song, Josh immediately flipped to the other, slightly easier, song.

    (Accompanying BGM: Fascination ~eternal love mix~ - 2MB - Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA)

    The song being previewed had a touch of fast techno, a touch of ambience, and oddly enough, a phone ringing in the background. A muffled voice repeated the phrase "I'm calling you" deep in the background. Raikou's rider was dismayed at this tune as well.

    "Nooooooo...phone! No phone! Phone bad!" he joked as he shaked his head in disgust. "You are way too hard, no!" He turned to Shalin. "Can you do this?"

    "I'm not sure. Hopefully I can," she replied, pressing the green button to begin the song. Unlike normal gameplay, the arrows scrolled down from the top to the bottom of the screen. It was, in a way, playing in reverse.

    "It's a matter of how quickly I die on this song." Also, the players' life bars started out full but could only decrease. Only six missteps were allowed; any more would cause failure. The arrows started out nice and slow in simple patterns. However, once the phone in the background "hung up", the real test started. The arrows took literally half a second to fall from the top to the bottom of the screen; too fast for Josh to make sense of them. He managed to keep himself in the song, but all of his steps were late. He breathed a sigh of relief when the arrows slowed down again to a readable speed.

    The real challenge of the song was in the speed and various tempo changes. There was one part, though, that needed to be memorized. In a 15-second period, the song made twelve stops each lasting just a tenth of a second. These pauses ate up Josh's concentration and the rest of his life bar. Rather than waste the rest of his energy, he merely leaned on the bar behind him and watched Shalin. Both of them were sweating profusely, Shalin more so.

    The next difficult section sounded like a Rapidash gallopping
    wildly fast. The rapid tapping on a single arrow started to wear on her right leg, causing her to make another costly error. Once again, "DANGER" flashed in the center of the screen, indicating she could only miss once more without failing. The slow section after the wild gallops was a relief, but a short-lived one. In the rapid steps before the final speed-up, she misread where the speed change took place, fell too far behind, and the doors of the Extra Stage closed on her.

    (Silence BGM)

    "Those are some of the most ridiculous steps I've ever seen in my life," Shalin panted.

    "If you could play this on a normal stage, you could pass it for sure," Josh complimented.

    "I don't understand how you two do that," Ace interrupted, "but I think I got the whereabouts on a couple of the places we're supposed to go...at least some of them."

    "Go on," Josh replied.

    "There are a couple islands to the northeast, one of which is a still-active volcano, and the other a lush jungle. THe region is divided in two by a mountain range, the tallest of which is Mount Coronet. I marked the spots on the map."

    "Well, shall we report back to our Beasts regarding our findings?" Aravan suggested. "We shouldn't keep them waiting too much longer."

    "Okay," Shalin agreed, "but I want to rest my feet before we take off for these shrines!" Laughter erupted from the Beast Riders as they exited the gaming center, heading south to reunite with their Beasts.
  11. ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~

    ~*Mudkip Fantastic*~ BlackFalcon!

    Not exactly the kind of chapter I would expect to find in one of your fics, but everyone has to do something different once in a while. But as always you have used excellent description.
    Let's just hope that chapter 5 brings back some action!
  12. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 5: No Time for Plan B

    (Accompanying BGM: "Dalmasca Estersand" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Despite the sun setting, a light breeze, and cooling air temperature, Josh and Shalin were still drenched in sweat after leaving town. Midori practically tackled Shalin in excitement to see her again. "Hey, take it easy!" she asked her Beast kindly.

    "So, Ace, since you didn't dance, what did you find out in there?" Eron asked.

    "The 'lightning-ravaged peak', as Ho-oh put it, is a snow-covered mountain," Ace answered. "I find that hard to believe, as thunderstorms shouldn't form when it's cold."

    "Has Ho-oh ever been wrong before?" Josh asked Ace.

    "I'm not sure."

    "That was a rhetorical question. Now please continue."

    "This snow-covered peak lies at the northern edge of the Sinnoh tundra, past Mount Coronet and Snowpoint City. Speaking of Snowpoint City, there is a large island east of there called Stark Island. It is named after a large, active volcano in the center of the island. That's where I have to go. The third location I confirmed was the 'lush jungle'. It is on a remote island far to the north of the Sinnoh Pokémon League stadium, and normally accessible only by air. You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone that'll take you there, so unless you have a flying Pokémon you can ride on, you'll have a tough time getting there."

    "I'll take you there, Shalin," Eron assured her.

    "Don't go making any promises yet," Ace rebutted. "The other two locations I've been able to deduce from just the map. The highest peak in Sinnoh is Mount Coronet, where you're supposed to go, Eron. The last location is just to the east of the Pokémon league, on the edge of the eastern peninsula. I don't know if there are high winds there, but there is certainly a high cliff."

    Zoltin sighed. "So I guess I'm going to have to give you guys flights again?"

    "Appears to be that way," Aravan answered.

    "Okay, now that we know the locations," Josh interrupted, "we should form a plan to visit these places in the most efficient manner possible. Since it will be too hazardous, or in some cases, impossible, for us to go there solo, we should split ourselves up into two, perhaps three groups. Ace, based on our knowledge, how should we split ourselves up? I'm pretty sure I can climb Snowpoint Peak alone."

    "No one is going alone, dammit!" Ace screamed. "You want to go on a suicide mission or something?!"

    "I agree with Ace," Eron said. "Going it alone in territory you're not familiar with it a bad idea, especially where you're headed. You know how many people die in blizzards because no one was there to help?"

    (Accompanying BGM: "Where the Wind Doesn't Reach" - Yasuhiro Kawasaki - Illusion of Gaia)

    "Alright then," Josh conceded, "but who will go with me?"

    "First off, we should decide who absolutely needs to go where."

    "The only 'must' I can think of is Eron or Aravan must accompany Shalin to the jungle island, seems how it's in such a remote location." He paused to think for a few seconds. "I got it. Since Mount Coronet is so high up, it will be good practice for when I have to climb Snowpoint Peak. Ace, you go with Aravan to the peninsula east of Victory Road. We need someone stout to protect Aravan and Suicune in these high winds."

    "But what about me?" Shalin asked.

    "There's really nothing you can do. It'll be too windy over the cliff and too cold where we're going. Take a tour of Sinnoh or something. Eron will be back here to take you to your destination across the sea. You can do anything you want until then, but you'll meet Eron at that location."

    "Yay, I get to tour Sinnoh!" she screamed joyfully. "But how am I getting to the jungle island?"

    "We'll regroup here when the three of us are done. Shalin, I want you to see if it looks possible to cross to the island via an ice bridge from Suicune. That will give us a second option."

    "I'll make sure and do that for you, Josh."

    "Alright, after we regroup, here's the plan. Ace, you and I are going to go to Stark Mountain together. That means we have to take the ferry from Snowpoint to Stark Island. Aravan, if it is possible to cross by an ice bridge, you are to accompany Shalin to the island. Otherwise, Eron will have to fly you there. When you're done there, Eron, meet me near Stark Mountain, just outside the town north of the Battle Tower. After that, we see what Ho-oh wants us to do. Most likely, it's chasing down Zapdos and rider. Any questions?"

    "When do we leave?" asked Aravan.

    "Tomorrow morning."


    (Accompanying BGM: "Boss Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Josh was glad to see the clear night sky above him during his sleep, even though he didn't express it. Another terrible storm ravaged the north side of Ecruteak that night. Sudden and massive downpours flooded the city's lowest streets, stranding nighttime commuters. Rain pounded on houses all across town, keeping residents awake through the massive storm. With the high winds and torrential rain, visibility was quite limited.

    Ho-oh watched the lightning batter the mountains to the north of town, with the occasional lightning strike in a rural area of the town. Its rainbow wings emitted a light made much brighter by the gloomy conditions. As a massive lightning bolt struck just yards from the remains of the Burned Tower, the legend caught a glimpse of yellow and black feathers. "They're back! I have to warn the town!" The flying-type did its best to glide through the battering rain to the foot of the tower. "Rade! Rade!" Ho-oh's voice echoed around the tower.

    A teenager rushed out the door of a home near the tower, almost blinded by the rain. He only had the light of the rainbow bird's feathers to go by. "What's wrong Ho-oh?!" he yelled through the downpour.

    Ho-oh lowered its neck to the ground. "The Beast Riders, the guardians of Johto, are fighting the war in Sinnoh, and the city of Ecruteak is under attack by Zapdos again! We must drive it out before the the city's Twin Towers are destroyed!"

    Without hesitating, Rade ran up to the bird, jumped onto its neck, and slid down between its wings. He drew a long, thin sword with a rainbow-colored blade and hilt. The light the blade emitted made it a little easier for Rade to see through the rain.

    The moment the Burned Tower came into visibility, Rade saw a large lightning bolt strike the southwest corner of the ruin--the most stable of the four corner walls. None of the remains were flammable, but the sheer energy from the lightning tore the corner of the structure apart, causing the sacred chamber in the basement to be nothing more than a hollows in the ground with debris almost completely covering the floor. It was now impossible to enter the chamber without flying down into it. Zapdos glided from above the clouds, revealing itself to Rade and Ho-oh. He immediately noticed a yellow cape floating above the bird. He, too, noticed a female rider onboard Zapdos, and started screaming. "Who the hell are you to destroy the lives of innocent people?!"

    "Someone screamed those words in my ears two days ago," she replied, her voice muffled by the pounding rain. "Very well, I will reveal myself." Zapdos flew closer to Ho-oh, then turned sideways to reveal the female rider. She wore a yellow robe infused with lightning magicks, protecting her from the static surrounding her mount. In her right hand was a long magickal rod with a yellow, lightning-bolt shaped jewel at the business end. "I am Ashelia, sorceress of lightning!" Zapdos sounded a loud shriek, causing a lightning bolt to strike in front of itself.

    "You defile and destroy the very history of this town," Ho-oh said in disgust. "This is an unacceptable sin against me. To think Arceus would allow you to ride one of the most powerful legendary Pokémon...you disgrace the Order."

    "How can you speak of the Order when you allow these children to have free control over three of Arceus' fastest creations? You have defied the direct order of Arceus not once, but thrice!"

    "Ashelia, you need to learn that two wrongs do not make a right."

    "Ho-oh, those are fighting words!" Rade let out another battle cry as Ho-oh charged toward the electric bird. Zapdos beat its wings hard twice to dodge above the rainbow Pokémon. "Exactly what I wanted you to do! Zapdos, a burst of Agility!" At its rider's command, Zapdos swirled and looped around for a few seconds, then started flapping its wings faster for more speed. Ho-oh raced off after it but couldn't match the increased speed. When Rade sighted Zapdos again, it battered the central support of the Tin Tower with lightning bolts.

    Ho-oh fired rapid bursts of a white flame known as Sacred Fire toward the attacking Pokémon, these bursts made more powerful by the rainbow legend's building rage. Zapdos flew around to the other end of the tower--right into a white fireball. Ashelia's skin and robes were charred from the flame, as was Zapdos' left wing. The bird's flight was labored and off balance. They were still intact and functioning at almost full capacity due to the heavy rain putting the fires out. She uttered a grunt of pain. "Curse you, Ho-oh...May you forever be damned to eternal punishment! This isn't over!" Zapdos flew back into a storm cloud, where Ho-oh couldn't safely follow.

    Before the two left for good, however, Rade glimpsed the unthinkable: Ashelia grabbed a lightning bolt with her bare left hand from the cloud she was inside of, and threw it toward the support column of the Tin Tower. The powerful bolt struck the column, piercing through the center of it. A sound like a loud explosion filled the air as the ceiling of the ninth floor of the tower collapsed to the floor, putting enough pressure on the structure to cause the next floor to collapse on itself. This chain reaction continued until the entire tower fell to the ground. The only thing that remained unchanged was the roof of the tower, where Ho-oh roosted. The rest of the structure was nothing more than a large, smoldering pile of debris. Rade screamed at the top of his lungs again, enraged at the destruction of both of Ecruteak City's tourist attractions. Without the historical landmarks, the town became more like a village in the middle of nowhere.

  13. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 6: The Coronet Skycity

    (Accompanying BGM: "Giza Plains" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)
    Josh and Eron were the last of the Beast Riders to wake up the next morning. The sun was already fairly high in the sky; a sign that the two had overslept. Josh freaked out for a couple seconds when he saw everyone was gone, but calmed down after reading a note filled with Ace's messy handwriting:

    "We already left. We tried to wake you up but you wouldn't move your lazy asses an inch, despite being slapped around a bit. We made sandwiches this morning and left one for each of you before we took off. Good luck, Eron!
    -- Ace"

    Josh noticed peanut butter sandwiches in plastic bags next to where the two slept. He grabbed both and gave one to Eron. "While we eat, we should discuss how to approach the peak." Josh took a bite out of the corner of his sandwich and swallowed after sufficient chewing. "Should we approach the mountain from the east or west?"

    "We're already on the west side of the mountain, so let's approach it from there. Either side of the mountain is a good distance from here. I'd say the fastest, most painless way to get there would be to follow..." Eron stuttered, then reacheed for his copy of the Sinnoh region map. After looking at the map for a minute or so, he came to a conclusion. "Let's follow a route east of Jubilife City. There is a rocky hill in front of Oreburgh City that Raikou would be able to jump if need be, plus there is a tunnel that goes straight into town. We head north out of town, and a bridge east takes us straight to the foot of Mount Coronet. The most painless way for us to get there would be flight."

    Josh grabbed a Poké Ball from his belt. When he was about to toss it, Eron interrupted him. "That won't be necessary." The Raikou rider's smile turned into a grin of glee.

    "I get to fly on Zoltin again? That's awesome!"

    "More than that. I want to see how you pilot him. In the event that I die, I want you to command my Beast or find someone that can do it."

    Josh let loose a joyful scream. "I can't believe it! Eron, you're the best!" In what seemed like a split second to Eron, Josh hugged him, then scurried onto the white-winged Beast. Eron followed him, jumping on directly behind.

    "You remember how to control his flight don't you?"

    Josh felt embarrassed at the way he acted in front of one of his best friends. "I think so, but refresh my memory."

    "It's all mental. Zoltin can read the thoughts of its pilot. Whatever you want him to do, he'll do it."

    Josh nodded, then focused on his flight. Zoltin backed off toward a small lake outside town, then started running toward the main street. Just before they entered city limits, Zoltin leaped into the air and was airborne with a powerful flap of its wings. It quickly soared high above the city. Josh was speechless at the takeoff, and became more so when the white legend ran across the sky as if it were solid ground.

    "Josh," Eron started, "keep Raikou in sight, and don't fly too high." When Josh and Eron saw Raikou leap over the rocky path connecting Jubilife and Oreburgh, the sacred mountain came into sight. A fog of unimaginable density shrouded the peak from view. Zoltin's gait in the air was incredibly smooth; it felt like the flight of a bird.

    When Eron saw the west entrance to the mountain interior, he knew it was time to land. Zoltin started arcing around the ground on the west side of the bridge, obviously trying to land. "Josh, instead of landing, how about we dive to the ground?" The moment Josh mentally agreed with Eron, Zoltin started flapping its wings violently, diving to the ground at a very sharp angle. When the ground beneath them became clearly visible, the light Pokémon beat its wings downward, uprooting much of the grass in the small field they were above. The wind from its wings, as well as the force of the beating wings, slowed Zoltin down enough to make a landing in what was left of the grassy field after reaching a peak diving speed of 294 miles an hour. Raikou was already across the bridge.

    Josh hopped off the flying Pokémon, slightly dizzy from the crazy dive. After regaining his balance, Beasts and riders entered the mountain. Immediately after they entered, a Golbat dove from the ceiling and rammed Josh from the side, knocking him to the ground. Eron quickly grabbed his bow and shot three arrows toward the hostile Pokémon. The first two missed, but the third one struck it in the face, piercing a hole through its head. The Golbat fell to the ground, dead from the arrow.

    "Josh," Eron asked for his attention.

    "Yes, Eron?" he replied, grunting as he got up from the rock floor.

    "The wild Pokémon here sense the crisis at hand and know what they guard, and as such, are hostile and extremely aggressive. Keep your sword drawn at all times."

    "Will do," Josh confirmed. Sparks flew from the yellow sheath as he drew the Lightning Sword.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Dalmasca Westersand" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    The passage to Hearthome City was straightforward, but that was not what the Beast Riders were interested in. Josh hopped on Raikou's back, and the Beast got enough of a running start to leap across the water, up a small hill, then again up a large cliff to a passageway leading up. Zoltin simply flew up to Josh's location.

    The second floor was quite a maze of ramps and bridges; very time-consuming for most trainers to pass. The two Beasts, however, crossed it easily with flight and many small jumps. The group found a tunnel at the northwest corner of the maze. Josh and Eron jumped off their Pokémon, for it was too small of a tunnel to ride through. Stepping through it, they found on the other side, to their dismay, an Ursaring lying in wait for trespassers. The bear Pokémon slashed at Josh's chest. Its claws bounced off the yellow, metallic plate protecting him, but the sheer force from the Pokémon's attack sent Josh flying, slamming him against a cave wall. Eron fired an arrow at the enemy's head, almost putting its eye out. A second arrow to the heart was the cause of the Ursaring's last breath. "Are you alright, Josh?" Eron asked, running toward his injured friend.

    "My hip hurts a little, and I'm a bit shook up from it all, but I'll be fine."

    The next floor up was merely a crossroads. Eron and Josh saw a rock staircase with light at the end of it. When they stepped out of it, the two riders and their Beasts took in as much of the view as they could. They could see almost all of western Sinnoh, but had to keep moving just to stay warm--a light snow fell from the dense clouds just barely above them. This level of the mountain was covered in white.

    "We have to keep moving or we'll freeze!" Eron chittered. After a few more leaps up, the fog started to become an issue, greatly reducing the riders' visibility. As the cliffs got higher and higher, it became more difficult for Raikou to make the leaps up. It became so bad that Eron started looking for an entrance back into the mountain, where it would be a little warmer. He finally found one, in a northwest alcove. Zoltin sat down inside the slightly warmer cave, thawing out its wings a little before Eron hopped back onboard. Their relief was short-lived, though, as the mountain path headed east led back outside again. Visbility was much better now that they were above the dense fog shrouding the peak of the mountain, but they couldn't see anything below them.

    "We're so high up," Josh noted. "How much higher does this mountain go?"

    "Shouldn't be too much farther," Eron replied. Raikou had to make a precarious diagonal leap from a narrow ridge to a higher ledge. At that point, Josh wished Raikou could fly, then dismissed it as a prepostrous fantasy. Another diagonal leap led to an opening in the west side of the mountain, heading east. Many Machoke guarded the spiraling path to the top of the mountain. Josh leaped off Raikou and around a corner, slicing an arm off one of the guard Pokémon.

    "Let's try not to spill too much more blood, human or Pokémon," the Raikou rider said to Eron, seeing the massive blob of red ooze next to the corpse of the dead Machoke. The loud cry of pain put all the other Machoke on high alert, each one pacing its assigned corridor. The Zoltin rider carefully listened to the next Machoke's footsteps. When he heard its steps getting softer, he sidled around the corner and fired two arrows from the Lightbringer, straight at the back of the Machoke's neck. One became lodged in there; the other one flew straight through. Relative to the previous one, it was a pretty clean kill; if the second arrow had gone through, the Machoke's head might have fallen off as it collapsed.

    The footsteps Eron picked up around the south passage sounded strange compared to the last two. "I think there's two of them this time," he reported. The moment Eron peeked his head around the corner, one of the Machoke turned around and saw him. His white and sliver clothes stood out like a Houndoom in broad daylight. Eron shot a flurry of arrows toward one of them. It blocked or sidestepped most of the arrows, but one flew into its lower chest. It stood there stunned for a second and a half, trying to shrug off the blow. That time was enough for Raikou to rush in front of Josh, tackling it hard and sending it flying. As the Beast watched the Machoke go flying into the wall, the other one, demonstrating incredible strength, picked the Beast up by its hind legs and threw it against the north cave wall--but not before the legendary Pokémon surrounded itself with an electrical sphere, sending the fighting Pokémon into a state of shock, flailing its arms and legs around in a seizure.

    Raikou "limped" around the corner and toward a tunnel with light out the other side. To most people, it looked like Raikou was running at a fairly high speed, but Josh could tell his Pokémon was in pain. "We have to run for it, now!" Josh shouted. Zoltin and Eron followed them.

    On the other end of the tunnel was the peak of Mount Coronet, which was surprisingly warm. It wasn't even snowing. The only things audible were their own voices, which seemed to echo for miles, and a howling wind. The ruins of a shrine, apparently dedicated to a god, covered the peak of the mountain. Eron hopped onboard his Beast and peered into the sky. Just like Ho-oh had said, a structure floating hundreds of feet above the peak was visible, with the sky apparently flashing a faint yellow periodically. "Josh, this is where Zoltin and I must go it alone. The trip back down Mount Coronet should be much easier. Remember, you are to go to the other side of the mountain and meet Ace in Snowpoint City to take the ferry to Stark Mountain."

    "Good luck, Eron. If it gets too dangerous, come back here to rest. Nothing will attack us up here."

    "You too, Josh." Eron waved a sign of farewell toward Josh, then turned to face forward on Zoltin. "Here we go. Let's fly!" The winged Beast gallopped across the ruin, getting just enough of a running start to leap into the air and fly. As he got closer to the structure, he could see flashing lights all over it; clearly the building was from a future era. When Zoltin landed on the deck of the floating fortress, he could see snow bouncing off a faint, yellow energy sphere. "So that's why we couldn't fly up here. The gods protect this place well. Well, Zoltin, shall we go in?"

    (Accompanying BGM: "The Beginning of the End" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    On the other side of the door was a winding platform that split off in two directions in the very center. The wind blew so harshly that a strong gust could blow Eron off his feet. This ordinarily would not be an issue due to the metallic plating guarding the edges of the walkway. Some of the plates, however, had collapsed and left many holes in the guard, oftentimes sending adventurers to early graves. When he felt a strong wind gust, he ducked behind the metal guard to avoid being blown away. He could make out a chain and keyhole covering the door on the right, so he opted for the open route to the left.

    On the other side of the door was, thankfully, a closed room where the wind couldn't sweep him away to his death. The north door bore a timeworn inscription:

    "This tower, wrought by Hands Most Holy, heaven-bound path.
    Those who trespass in Avarice will pay with tears.
    They who master Power, Wisdom, Magick...
    The tower's secrets are for them, and them alone."

    A second inscription was carved into the wall just to the right of the door:

    "This tower yields to none but the Scion of Light.
    Show proof of being Chosen and the Skycity of Coronet shall yield to you.
    Those lacking proof, your trip is for naught."

    After reading the inscriptions, he tried pushing the door open, but he could not; strong magicks bound it in place. He scanned the room for anything unusual, and found directly above the door a large, metallic eyeball against the wall. He pulled out the Lightbringer and shot an arrow toward the eyeball, hitting it directly in the center. The eyeball closed, and the magicks binding the door faded. On the other side of the door was a spiraling walkway, again in the heavy winds. Beast and rider ran up the walkway as fast as they could, ducking down to avoid large gusts.

    The second floor of the west wing of the fortress was a three-dimensional maze. Eron jumped onboard Zoltin, then read another timeworn inscription on a gate barring the way into the maze:

    "So indeed, you are the Chosen of Light.
    Blind the eye before you, then you must make haste
    Through the labyrinth of yore.
    Beware the danger, Chosen; nay you fall to an early grave."

    The moment an arrow from Eron's bow hit the metallic eyeball above the gate, the floor gave way. Zoltin had to dive almost straight down to get enough air moving over its wings for flight, almost making Eron sick. With powerful wing beats, the Beast flew through the now-open gate. Flying Pokémon, such as Pidgeot, Swellow, and Staraptor, roamed the three-dimensional maze as impediments to Eron's progress. A timer counting down from 99 seconds, showing the hundredths tick away, was visible on the upper portions of the blue walls, indicating the amount of time Eron had to make it through the maze.

    Zoltin seemed to jerk from side to side frequently, upsetting both Eron's balance and his aim at the birds he was trying to shoot down. The two Swellow cross-sliced Zoltin, nicking its tail and one of its paws. Eron shot a barrage arrows in the birds' general direction, hoping to nail one as his Beast flew past them. Only one of the arrows hit its target, but it was enough to distract them for Eron to make an escape.

    The rider peeked to the ceiling to check his time remaining; 52 seconds. Zoltin weaved around the many poles hanging from the ceiling. They crawled up into a corner and reached a dead end, wasting ten seconds of precious time. Turning around and going down another passage, Eron was relieved to see the northwest door leading up--but dismayed to see a pair of Staraptor guarding it. The one on Eron's right shot up to the ceiling after an arrow was fired its way, then dove back down and pecked at his hand hard as he was opening the door. The flying-type Beast bucked Eron off and shot a Lucent Beam at the attacking Staraptor. The second one dove into the door as it closed behind Eron and Zoltin. They followed another windswept, spiraling path up to the third floor.

    The third floor consisted of a matrix of platforms floating above the clouds, with a seemingly endless fall to those who miss a leap. Zoltin bypassed the jumping by merely flying across the entire room, to a door on the north side. On the other side of that door, an enraged Dragonite lay in wait for something to take its anger out on. When the dragon sounded an ear-piercing roar, the door behind Eron sealed shut, as did the one on the other end of the room. He was forced to fight.

    Zoltin circled the octagonal room at very high speed in a counterclockwise direction, making sudden slowdowns to dodge Dragonbreath attacks. Eron's accuracy with the Lightbringer was still sharp as ever, even at wild speeds. His arrows, though, seemed to bounce right off the Dragonite's scales. Just as one lucky shot hit the back of the dragon's head, the room started heating up. Eron dove off Zoltin and into Dragonite's shadow as white fireballs fired in all other directions from around its body, scorching Zoltin and sending the flying-type flying into the west wall, breathing heavily labored. After the attack, the dragon Pokémon collapsed to the ground, and the magicks binding the doors faded.

    On the other side of the north door was another winding passage, this one buffeted by an even harsher wind. There was only shelter at the five corners of the pentagonal walkway, meaning they had to sprint from one end to another to reach the top. Each run seemed longer than the last, except the last of the five, because the goal was in sight. Inside the top room of the west tower was a sight Eron could not believe. An insignia looking like a curving beam of light covered the entire floor. A crossbow and matching quiver of bolts hovered in the center of the room, just above the ground. They matched his current set of bow and arrows in color. A message for Eron flashed on the north wall:

    "You who reach this final sphere,
    No paths herein will you find.
    The heights you've climbed, their Glyphs,
    These shall be your guide.
    To seal of East look first.
    Not easily this realm to pass.
    Failing thrice, punishment you will face."

    Reading the message, Eron grabbed the crossbow and the quiver of bolts, leaving his old equipment in its place. When the ancient letters faded, a white key became visible on the wall where the writing was. He took it with him, certain it was to the door to the east tower. Certain, he was, that the locked door was the "seal of East."
  14. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman


    Chapter 7: Archer's Training, Version 1.0

    (Accompanying BGM: "To the Peak" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Eron inserted the white key into the lock and turned it. The lock clicked off, and the chains holding the door fast fell into a mountain crevasse below. The room on the other side of the door was a mirror image of the one in the west tower. With nothing blocking his way like before, he continued across the small room to the north door. Not surprised, he found himself on the outside of the tower again, on a path circling up and to the right, as opposed to the left during the climb up the west tower. This path was significantly easier to traverse due to much of the wind being blocked by the tower itself.

    On the second floor was a room glowing blue and looking like the inside of a computer. A giant, flat screen computer monitor of sorts was embedded into the wall. When Eron closed the door, the computer greeted him with a message indicating his objective. The message was accompanied by an almost human, but still robotic, voice.

    "Chosen, we have been expecting you. You have quite a name to live up to, Eron; the name of Pravia, the previous Chosen to ride onboard the Scion of Light and defend the land from those who defile the Order of the Legends. Her legacy you must carry on."

    "I don't know any Pravia," Eron replied.

    "Pravia was the last Chosen rider of the Scion of Light. This was over 200 years ago."

    "How is this possible?!" Eron screamed. "Zoltin and I were sealed up together after the war!"

    "You were sealed away with your Beast in a condition of near-stasis, as you are most likely aware. However, it was the will of the gods that the Scion of Light and a human being pure enough of heart work together to defend the world."

    "Why didn't Zoltin tell me this before?!"

    "Had you not been in a state of stasis, you would have been alone for sixteen years, at the end of which Pravia met an unfortunate end. Also you would have aged significantly, unlikely to be able to carry out your task as effectively."

    "I understand now. That explains why my body has not aged during my time in the old Capital's cells; it was indeed frozen in time. I always thought a potent magick was cast upon me when I was thrown in with my Beast."

    "Now, for the reason why you are here. In order to master the powers of the Scion of Light, you must show outstanding proficiency with the Lightbringer." Six small, narrow altars rose from out of the floor in a hexagonal pattern with the center of the hexagon in the exact center of the room. Each altar was about 15 yards from the center. Each altar, about three and a half feet high, had on top of it a hollow stone looking like a lightbulb of a lamp. Eron's quiver was instantly recharged to its maximum capacity of four clips of sixteen bolts each, for a total of sixty-four additional shots. The mechanical voice continued:

    "The six Way Stones surrounding you take you to places where your skills and dexterity with the Lightbringer will be put to the test. You must pass all six of the tests before you. They can be retaken if failed, and can be take in any order. Remember the words of the tablet on top of the west tower, and good luck." The voice faded, and the words "SHOOT SCREEN" appeared on the wall, in very large print. Eron pulled the trigger on his new crossbow, the bolt hitting the screen and revealing on it the aspects of archery he was to be tested in: speed, intelligence, precision, judgment, marksmanship, and a simulation. Much to his surprise, the Lightbringer automatically reloaded itself with another bolt.

    When he shot a bolt at the box with the word "Speed" on it, the Way Stone to the northwest of him glowed a yellow color. Eron reached out toward the altar while still mounted on Zoltin, and touched the glowing Way Stone. A yellow light enveloped Beast and rider, and they were whisked away to the third floor, in an enclosed room looking much like the one they were just in. Eron replaced the two bolts he fired with ones from his quiver, reloading his weapon to the maximum capacity of sixteen shots. The quiver started to glow a faint white as it slowly regenerated his supply of primarily light-energy bolts.

    An image of a grid of three-by-three targets, each target roughly a third of the size of a standard dartboard, appeared on the screen on the north side of the room, along with instructions for the Beast rider:


    When that text faded, the sound of a whistle blowing filled the room as a target materialized in the lower left corner of the grid. Eron fored a crossbow bolt right at it, making contact. Subsequent targets popped up every half of a second, going around the grid in a counterclockwise direction. It was slow enough for him to nail them all. The second time around, the white-and-red targets cycled around faster; this time there was a 0.4 second interval between each appearance. Eron nailed all of these as well. By the time he reached back for another bundle of ammunition, the first two of the third circle of targets had already faded away, not being hit. The fourth and final circle came at Eron blindingly fast, taking only a second and a half for the circle to complete. After the third target, he started shooting late, unable to keep up with the pace. A dummy buzzer echoed in the room as Eron attempted the trial again. This time, a single red "X" appeared in the lower-left corner, indicating the number of failures he had.

    He employed a different strategy this time; a little riskier but it would be much easier to reload his weapon in between the second and third set. He held the crossbow with just his right hand, still shooting the first two sets perfectly. The moment he fired the fifteenth shot, he slammed a bundle of bolts into the weapon and picked up his pace. The targets seemed to fall like dominoes. A smile came about his face as he saw the word "PASS" in large, all capital green letters. He touched the glowing Way Stone to return to the main hall, and saw a green check mark over the Speed test box on the main screen.

    He activated the Way Stone corresponding to the "Intelligence" was next; this one was the one directly to the west of him, and it glowed green. When Eron touched it, the supply of energy bolts in his quiver instantly regenerated before whisking him to another enclosed room in the third floor. On the screen was a timer set for seven seconds and an array of targets in a four-by-four square. They were numbered from one to sixteen, each group of four color-coded. One through four were green, five through eight were blue, nine through twelve were red, and thirteen through sixteen were white. There was no pattern to the arrangement of the tiles. "COUNT TO 16" in large yellow print flashed four times in the center of the screen. The challenge required fast shooting and rudimentary counting skills, both of which Eron knew he had. The timer started ticking down from seven seconds the moment the first crossbow bolt struck target number one. He used the color-coding to find the next target in less than half of a second each time. Had it not been for the color-coding, he wouldn't have heard the smile-inducing high-pitched bells and seen the green "PASS" text for the second time.

    Eron fired a bolt toward the test box for Precision, and the Way Stone to the southwest of him glowed orange. Again, the moment he touched it, his quiver was totally refilled before he was whisked off to another enclosed room upstairs. This time, in front of the screen, there was a red star on a white background, the red star out of thick paper and the white background out of a thick plastic. The structure was held in place by a metal frame. Eron's instructions were to "SHOOT OUT THE STAR" as depicted by the screen in back. "AUTOMATIC WEAPON" was also flashing on the bottom, indicating to Eron that he could merely hold down the trigger to fire many shots quickly. The moment the first bolt hit the red star, a timer counting down from twenty-four seconds started. He found that the rapid fire not only went through ammunition clips at a large rate, but also threw off his aim slightly for no apparent reason; the crossbow, when fired, threw back little or no recoil. Eron started out in the center of the star. Holding the crossbow with both hands to ensure attack precision, he shot out the entire core of the star before moving onto the five points with a healthy thirteen and a half seconds left on the clock. Grabbing another bundle of bolts when his old one was exhausted, the only thing going through Eron's mind was "fire, fire, fire." When the timer buzzer sounded, a red light shone through the target Eron was shooting at as the computer system used it to read how well Eron shot the star out. "PASS", once again in large, green letters, flashed on the back screen. He was halfway done, and only with one strike on the board.


    (Accompanying BGM: "An Imminent Threat" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    The sun was starting to set in the western skies of Slateport City. The city streets were full of automobiles and riding Pokémon, mostly Arcanine. It was the middle of rush hour on an afternoon that, for some reason, would not cool down. It had remained a warm seventy degrees Fahrenheit for the last two hours--a very unusual weather pattern. People were going home for the day--aspiring Pokémon trainers from school as well as adults returning from a hard day's work. No less than a minute after the traffic started to clear, the sky glowed red unusually early, and the temperature started to rise.

    A group of these aspiring trainers peered into the sky, and found it was getting more and more red by the minute. The heat continued to build until it felt like a sizzling summer day. By the time embers fell from the sky, giving one of the children a severe burn, everyone knew what was up, and panic ensued.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Esper Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Wings of flame's fury beat over the town, raising the temperature to unbearable levels well over a hundred degrees. Older people wandering the streets fainted from heat exhaustion, some breaking critical bones and dying altogether. The lower the wings descended to the ground, the hotter the streets got. The trainers identified it as a Moltres--but most unusual was a red, obviously fire-resistant cape seemingly floating above it. A human was riding onboard the fire-type bird!

    Every flap of the bird's wings released embers into the sky, the wing beats getting harder as the bird sounded a loud shriek, reins of flame being pulled hard. It released a Flamethrower attack down the main street, turning those who couldn't dive into an alley into piles of smoldering flesh. Many buildings were caught in the white blaze, and were dangerous to be near due to collapsing debris burning with a fire that burned much hotter than normal flame.


    At the time, Maya was wandering the southern borough of Jubilife City when her specialized PokéNav indicated with a sirenlike noise that there was a disaster in Hoenn. She ran just barely into an alley next to a bakery in the outskirts of a commercial district, and pulled out a red magician's rod carefully camouflaged against her outfit. A red magick circle lit up from the alley. It took a few long minutes of chanting archaic language and seemingly dancing back and forth in what space she had, but her call for help was answered by Latias speeding down from high in the air. Those who saw the red legendary Pokémon from Hoenn tried to take pictures of it, but found they had only taken an illusion of it--a ruse designed to trick the eyes. By the time the crowd discovered the image of Latias that wasn't an illusion, Maya, now wearing red mystic armor, had already mounted the eon Pokémon and began racing skyward, on the lookout for her companion and fellow legend guardian.

    Latias, now high in the air, scanned the city for the telltale blue magick circle that Maya would recognize. The nimble but cute dragon-type weaved around the many tall skyscrapers in the center of the city before finding the reflection of the blue glyphs the two were looking for--all the way outside town! She saw Latios descend from the west to pick up Maya's partner, far and away the youngest legend guardian at the age of just sixteen. To become chosen by Rayquaza, Hoenn's guardian dragon, at such a young age was most unusual. He wore blue mystic armor, the pair to Maya's magick-augmenting garments. Unlike Maya, though, this boy was an archer. Much like Eron, his quiver contained a supply of arrows made almost totally out of energy derived from the power of the Pokémon he guarded. "Slateport is under attack!" he informed Maya.

    "Roger that, Alex," Maya replied. Without another word, the two riders had the eon Pokémon turn toward the southeast, directly toward the port town of Slateport. The two dragons left red and blue energy circles in a trail behind them, their bodies shaking hard from the intense acceleration. A sonic boom echoed over the skies of Jubilife City as their speed climbed to incredible levels approaching a thousand miles per hour.

    (Silence BGM)

    Despite the incredible speed, the flight was very smooth due to the highly streamlined bodies of the dragon Pokémon. Air resistance was almost nonexistent, making the wild flight speed much easier on the two Pokémon. The waves of the sea flew by so fast, the ocean looked a solid blue color. When land came into sight, Latios shot upward at a forty-degree angle to kill its speed off. Latias followed upward.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Esper Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    By the time they arrived, every building down the main street leading to the port was on fire or had already burned to the ground. Hundreds of human corpses were still on fire, the white flames eating away at the flesh of the dead. The people who were still alive and fleeing from Moltres were jumping into the water, which was quite polluted from the many cargo ships docked there. A young girl shrieked in pain as a white burst of flame scorched her body before she landed in the water. Much of her hair had burned away by the time she immersed her body in the dirty sea.

    Maya and Alex wanted to pinch their noses shut, for the city of Slateport reeked of nothing but searing flesh. The two hid behind an undamaged storage shed. With the destruction they witnessed, the intent of the riders of the legendary birds was clear: they indeed wanted to purge the world of those who rebel against the will of Arceus at any cost; even if it meant tearing the world apart, piece by piece.

    Latios poked its head out from behind the shed, then quickly hid itself again and descended to the ground. Alex hopped off his Pokémon and peered around the same corner, the blue-and-white Bow of Aeons drawn. He loaded it with an arrow glowing a light blue and aimed for the Moltres' head. When he let go of the bowstring, he realized he'd forgotten to take the wind into account. The arrow drifted to the right of its target's head and into its left wing. This was enough for Moltres to quit spewing fire over the city. When it saw Alex's head poking out from behind the shed, it shot another spray of white flame toward it. The rider of Latios quickly remounted his Pokémon, following Maya's retreat away from the building. The two got away just in time as the entire storage complex exploded, sending shrapnel flying everywhere. The two legends of Hoenn were well outside the blast radius when the explosion sounded. When they approached the city razed by phoenix fire, they could clearly see a male dressed in mystic armor and wearing a red cape. This mystic armor was of a different red than Maya's; it was more of an orange shade than red. Moltres was about to launch another Flamethrower toward the two, but the rider pulled hard on the reins of fire, causing the bird to shriek. "To think the great Arceus trusted you with such power," Alex started, "only to see it used for the taking of hundreds, even thousands of innocent lives!"

    "Just who are you," Maya asked, "and why is Moltres setting fire to this city?"

    Moltres landed next to the smoldering storage shed and rested its wings, revealing a young man sitting atop the legendary firebird, keeping a tight grip on burning reins connected to the Pokémon's long, yellow beak. "I am Fuoco, sorcerer of fire!" he shouted as flame jets erupted all around him. He toned down his scream to a more normal voice after introducing himself. "I am thrilled to see the guardians of Latios and Latias here."

    "Enough of the shallow talk," Alex interrupted, "explain what's going on!"

    "I am not at liberty to explain everything, but I will do the best I can. I am under a direct order from Jade, who is under a direct order from Arceus to purge the world of those who defy his will. Jade has given us instructions to find Ho-oh, the Beasts, and all their riders, and relieve them of their lives. Whatever stands in our way of accomplishing that will also be purged away. To defy the will of Arceus and rebel against him is to commit a sin unforgivable; a sin punishable by death." He raised his voice again. "Now tell the truth from the bottom of your hearts; whose side are you on? Do you side with the Beast Riders, those who defile the will of the gods; or do you side with us, justified by executing Arceus' holy will?"

    "I will not side for all this meaningless destruction," Alex replied. "If the will of Arceus involves the planned destruction of countless innocent lives, I will side with the Beast Riders!"

    "I side with Alex," Maya concurred. "I understand that the will of Arceus is a high priority, but he isn't infallible. I believe Arceus is making a mistake in how he is going about purifying the world."

    "You know those words condemn you, correct? And yet you still say and believe them?" The two nodded in agreement. "Very well then, you must be purged away with the rest of the defiant. En garde!" Fuoco grabbed a red sorcerer's staff from behind himself and began chanting a type of magick presumably for burning things. The business end of the staff was forged out of flint, and burned with a hot, purifying fire. Alex and Maya scattered before the flames launched, charring the ground beneath where their Pokémon hovered. Latios, flying so fast it left trailing images of itself behind, circled Moltres with such impressive speed that it had to fly almost totally on its side. The spinning got fast enough that Fuoco couldn't tell what to aim for.

    The rider of the Kanto phoenix was tipped off, though, when Alex loaded an arrow into his bow. Only the arrow coming from the true Bow of Aeons glistened in the light. The Rod of Hellfire glowed in shades of orange and yellow, a large fireball growing at the business end by the second. The arrow Alex fired pierced right through Fuoco's right shoulder, sending the magick staff spinning through the air. The fireball flew straight into the path Latios was spinning around, exploding right above its wings. Latios' flight started to become unsteady as its wings fell to its sides instead of outward in a flying position, causing it to fall to the ground. Alex was in even worse shape--if it weren't for the healing shower Maya chanted for with the aid of the Rod of Aeons, his body would have burned to a crisp.

    Fuoco slumped forward in the crimson saddle thrown onto the phoenix, his shoulder stinging as if a pair of enraged Beedrill injected their rear barbs into it. For a second or two, he debated retreating, leaving another path of destructive flame in his wake, but instead decided to stick it out and eliminate at least one of the riders.

    Maya knew she couldn't sit back and play cleric anymore--she had to fight for her friend's sake. Just as Moltres was about to release another Flamethrower toward Alex's head, Latias charged toward the firebird. A psychic energy field created a dense mist around Fuoco and his mount, putting out the white flame about to erupt from its beak as well as shortening the length of its fiery wings. The sorcerer turned his Pokémon north, and screamed, "You may have won this battle, but we will win the war!" He pulled downward on the burning reins hard, sending the bird high into the air and well out of sight. With the bird gone, the fire department of Slateport could now approach the remainder of the fires at port without realizing certain death.


    (Accompanying BGM: "To the Peak" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    With five of six tests passed and two red X's in the lower-left corner, only one test remained: the simulation. When Eron shot a crossbow bolt at the test activation box, the Way Stone to his northeast glowed white. When he touched it, he was whisked away to not the third floor, but the top of the tower. It took him to a dome of respectable size, the wind blowing in from the top half of it being open. His goal, as the computer system revealed, was to "HOLD BACK THE ENEMY" for 40 seconds. Many second-level bird Pokémon, such as Staravia and Pidgeotto, circled Eron, approaching him at a fairly rapid pace. One bolt from the Lightbringer was enough to cause a retreat. About 25 seconds in, a Swellow dove at him from behind, knocking him flat onto his face. The moment he was hit, all the Pokémon retreated as the telltale dummy buzzer echoed all over the dome, giving him the third failure. When he touched the Way Stone to travel back to the test selection room, instead he was whisked to an enclosed room underneath the tower, with a sealed door to the north and no other way out. There were a brutally large number of hostile Pokémon in the room, including Golbat, Misdreavus, Rotom, and even a single Salamence.

    Eron quickly remounted Zoltin. The flying-type leaped and beat its wings downward hard to get into the air, avoiding three Shadow Balls that would have hit Eron in the chest otherwise. He was glad that the Lightbringer had semi-automatic fire--staring down at least ten Pokémon, he'd need it. The four Rotom charged themselves such that a current flowed among the group, forming a quadrilateral of electricity. They seemingly bounced around the room, trying to catch Eron and Beast in one of their paths, which would result in the two being electrocuted perhaps to death. As per Eron's mental request, Zoltin kept its eyes on the four electric spirits, trusting the rider to tell it to dodge out of the way of other attacks.

    Eron fired a flurry of bolts at three of the Misdreavus, going through his backup ammunition bundles quickly. Two of the white bolts went right through one of the spirit's face, causing no harm at all. The other two Misdreavus weren't so lucky; a couple of lucky shots shattered the red necklaces they wore--the source of their ability to stay undead. When the necklaces broke into pieces, the two Misdreavus vanished into thin air.

    "Only a million more to go," Eron mumbled as his quiver glowed faintly white, regenerating his ammunition supply slower than he'd like. The bolts flew from the crossbow fast enough that the Misdreavus wouldn't be able to dodge them, given proper aim. He put his concentration into utmost accuracy and it paid off--all four Misdreavus had been shot down. Next to go down were the Rotom. The lone Golbat prowling the room dove for Eron's face, but didn't reach it--a beam of light fired from Zoltin's beak fried its left wing so badly that it couldn't even fly anymore.

    Next up were the Rotom, which would almost definitely get in the way of taking down such a large target. The electric jewels on the Rotom were much easier targets to shoot down than the Misdreavus were. When Eron shot one down, the Salamence released a massive Hyper Beam, singing one of Zoltin's legs and ripping a giant hole in the center of the east wall. The strong wind howled inside the room, strong enough to push the Beast to the west when it crossed that part of the toom. The Beast's flight was much more labored as Eron shot down the remaining three Rotom with amazing, almost inhuman accuracy. That left Salamence.

    The dragon Pokémon stayed on the ground, firing elemental beams from the center of the room. When a Flamethrower was about to burn Eron alive, Zoltin bucked him off, the line of fire burning the tips of the Pokémon's wings. Eron landed on the wild dragon's back, almost on top of its wings. He held on for his life as the Pokémon kicked its front legs high into the air, then its rear ones. Even after taking to the air, it continued to buck Eron in this way, doing everything it could to toss him off. When the blue dragon started slamming itself into the walls to throw Eron off by force, he fired an entire bundle of bolts--his last reserves--straight into the dragon's neck. When the Salamence fell to the ground, he noticed a blue seal erupt from the door; a sign that the magicks binding the way out faded. Eron jumped off the body of the incapacitated dragon, and took the north exit. On the other side of the north door was a Way Stone that took him back to the testing room. With the punishment room survived, there was no need for a simulation. Eron took the Way Stone leading to the simulation chamber. Unlike before, a magick circle glowing white glowed in the center of the room. When he and Zoltin stepped into it, the two became bathed in a holy light. The only immediately noticable effect of the light was instantly replenishing Eron's quiver. Zoltin, however, noticed something more.
    The light took them back to the entrance chamber. The Beast noticed a door leading up the central tower; however, there appeared no way to access it. The new power granted Zoltin gave him the ability to cross the gap despite the intense winds. All they needed was the courage to cross. "Eron, are you ready for the ride of your life? I can take you across here but not just in ordinary flight. It's going to be much faster than anything you've ever been on before."

    He nodded in agreement but was nervous on the inside. Zoltin ran the length of the entrance walkway, folded its wings in, and jumped into the air. The moment it jumped, though, its body glowed with a brilliant light. The speed that it crossed the gap at almost blinded Eron; it was so fast that the high winds affected its flight path by only a negligible amount. When Zoltin hit the wall, the glow faded, and the Beast fell to the door on the other side of the gap. They had crossed the gap in a split second, but it seemed like quite a few seconds to Eron. "Do you realize what just happened? The hidden power bound by Coronet lets me become, literally, a white laser beam. When you ride me as a beam of light, it's so fast that even in high winds, my flight path is unaffected."

    "If that's the case," Eron asked, "can we dive down to Mount Coronet again?" Without verbally answering, Zoltin leaped from the platform with its wings folded in, just like before. Even with the added distance, this time almost a thousand feet down, the ride on Zoltin took only a fraction of a second longer than the one across. He learned that the longer the distance he needed to ride on the light beam, the faster the crazy ride would be.

  15. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 8: The Lighthouse of Winds

    "Phew, glad to be out of that dank, hellish cave!" Ace shouted in relief, the sun being a welcome sight to his eyes. They were east of the Sinnoh Pokémon League headquarters, home to some of the most prestigious Pokémon battling arenas in the world. More specifically, they were east of Victory Road; the headquarters was past the top of a large waterfall hundreds of feet tall.

    "The view from here is beautiful, Aravan said as he took it in. "You can see the ocean for miles."

    Completely ignoring Aravan, Ace pulled out the copy of the Sinnoh he was given during the trip to Jubilife City. "The location Ho-oh has sent us to is uncharted on any map," Ace complained as Entei and Suicune sped up to a brisk run.

    "You have no trust in the Great One?" Aravan rebutted. "The rainbow bird has saved our lives often before. Remember escaping from the dark tunnel two years ago? Ho-oh came in and gave us the speed necessary to escape before being crushed!"

    Ace totally ignored his fellow Beast Rider as he put the "useless" map away. "Do you even know what we're looking for?"

    "Ho-oh said it was on this island, as far east as you can go on foot. That sounds like enough of a hint to me!" When the terrain turned to a grassy incline, Ace noticed a dark cloud in the sky. Aravan felt the wind pick up. Because the wind his Beast generated was almost the same speed as it was traveling, Aravan could feel local winds no matter how fast Suicune ran.

    "We're not very far off the map, and I see a storm cloud in the sky," Ace advised Aravan. "A pretty dark one, too. Which way is the wind blowing?"

    "East-southeast, I believe."

    "Then I strongly suggest we turn back, right now!"

    "We'll make it to the Shrine of Winds, or whatever Ho-oh called it, before it gets here. It's still pretty far away."

    (Accompanying BGM: "The Barbarians" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    As their location disappeared from the Sinnoh map, Ace became more and more worried. So did Aravan as the wind picked up rapidly, and suddenly. Downdrafts gusting as much as sixty miles per hour made it difficult for the riders to maintain control.

    "Entei, can we go faster?" Ace asked his Beast. "We gotta make it before it gets too bad out here!"

    "It's hard enough to run as fast as I am now in this wind. I don't think I can go any faster for you. I'm sorry!"

    To make matters worse for Ace and Entei, rain started falling. It was a chilling rain. Both riders lowered their helmet visors to keep the precipitation out of their faces, but the drops that hit their faces beforehand still stung both with impact and with cold.

    "The temperature had to have dropped at least twenty-five degrees," Aravan said to Ace with a worried look. "I should have listened to you. I feel this is no ordinary thunderstorm."

    The hill finally peaked as an old, abandoned lighthouse came into view. It was still quite far off. By this time, flashes and lightning bolts had filled the air. The crystal on Suicune's forehead temporarily blinded Aravan with its far-brighter-than-normal blue glow. Before long, the entire Beast was glowing the same color. Some of the raindrops froze and became small ice crystals, which seemed to pierce through Ace's red armor and made him feel chilled to the bone. Marble-sized, then eventually dime-sized hailstones fell from the cloud as well, making a loud bang ring in the riders' ears every time a stone struck their helmets. "Suicune, what's going on?" Aravan asked his Beast.

    "The storm is somehow drawing power from me. I have no idea why, or what will happen. If we can make it to that lighthouse quickly, we should be fine."

    "I feel that is not going to be the case," Aravan replied. Just as he said that, a lightning bolt struck between the two of them. Ace nearly jumped off Entei's back in fright.

    The two could now see the lighthouse through the heavy freezing rain and hail. Lightning continued to flash almost every other second. Hail battered the Beasts, slowing then down further. "Almost there!" Aravan shouted, relieved that they were going to make it.

    When they arrived at the entrance, Ace jumped off his Beast. Just as the three of them were about to enter, three lightning bolts struck around Entei. Then, the totally unthinkable happened. Another array of lightning bolts struck around the fire legend, accompanied by an additional one. But this one was no ordinary lightning strike. This bolt was black.

    (Silence BGM)

    The unusual bolt struck Entei. The last thing the Beast saw was Ace's lips clearly mouthing the words "Entei! No!" When the flashes cleared, a coat of blue ice covered Entei's entire body. The rider in red armor could not stop shedding tears. Aravan had to drag Ace into the lighthouse to keep him safe from the hazardous storm outside.

    Ace wailed like a toddler away from his mother. Every time Aravan asked him something, he responded with the phrase, "Entei...why?" Suicune's rider could barely make out what Ace said every time.

    "Ace," Aravan said in a calm, soothing tone, "once this storm clears, we'll be able to see what kind of shape Entei is in, if not, thaw him out."

    "Then make it stop!!" Ace shouted, unable to think about anything but his Beast.

    "I assure you, the moment the storm stops, you'll be able to check on Entei."

    "Suicune, make the goddamn storm stop now!!" he cried, still shedding tears. "Make it stop, god damn it!!"

    Suicune paused for about ten seconds, then spoke up. "Ace, I cannot stop a storm of this magnitude, particularly since it only seemed to draw power from me. I do not know how long it will be before the storm clears, either."

    Ace fell to the ground out of anger, his sanity unable to keep up with his emotions. When he found himself on the ground, he peered over toward his arm. He noticed the thin metallic plating of the light armor covering him had faded from red to grey. Realizing that with his powers linked to Entei's, and that Entei was at the time powerless to do much of anything, he spewed even harsher and more frequent profanities than before.

    Ace drew the Crimson Blade, and saw the aura of fire had faded away, in addition to the red color of the blade. It had become an ordinary sword with blade in the mere shape of fire; in fact, the blade was cool to the touch. The enraged, emotionally unstable Beast Rider flung the sword across the room, almost heaving it into Aravan's face on the way across. The moment he saw Aravan come forward, trying to console him again, he shouted at the top of his lungs. "Get the hell out of my goddamn sight!!"

    "Aravan, he's emotionally unstable right now," Suicune told him, implying an order to stay away from the sobbing Beast Rider. "Being cut off from your Beast is like having a part of your personality snatched from you. He needs time alone; time for him to vent and recover. When the storm clears, he'll be able to look at his Beast again and realize that there is a way to save Entei, and he will discover it. In the meantime, shall we press on and find what Ho-oh sent us here for?"

    (Accompanying BGM: "Challenging the Empire" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Without answering verbally, Aravan jumped back onboard Suicune. The Beast walked slowly into the north chamber and into shallow water covering the lower half of the room. Suicune approached the center of the room. Aravan peered up to the ceiling and noticed a tall, circular opening in the very center of the chamber; it went up for at least a hundred feet, maybe further than that. It was large enough for Suicune to jump down into from a higher level, but not large enough for it to leap up to the next floor. Water from a higher level dripped down through the opening, the cause of half the room being covered in shallow water.

    The moment Aravan reached for the door at the edge of the western high ground of the chamber, a Croconaw dropped into the room through the center opening, ready to leap up and tackle the rider in the back. Suicune fired an Ice Beam at the water, freezing it while both of the water Pokémon's feet were waterlogged, making the Croconaw totally immobile.

    What Aravan did not expect to see was that in the northwest room, the water was also frozen. A trio of Snorunt bounced around the walls courtesy of the ice covering the entire room. Suicune's rider was forced to hang on for his life as the Beast looked like a bucking Rapidash hopping over the Pokémon and short-ranged ice attacks coming out of their mouths. Each hop up felt like an enraged rodeo Tauros slamming its body upward into the rider's backside--quite painful at times. The Snorunt didn't follow the two into the next chamber, its walls fashioned with dark blue tile. A staircase leading up north was in plain sight on the north end of the room. "Sorry about bucking you around so hard," Suicune apologized. "I had to do it to keep from being hit. Are you okay?"

    "That was one of the most harrowing experiences since almost losing my life in the Dark Void!" Aravan replied. "Could you please not be so wild when I'm on your back?"

    "I'll do my best not to make that mistake again. Rest assured, I was in control of my motions." The two pressed on to the second floor and immediately noticed the source of the water coming down to the first floor. The chamber was sectioned off into a hexagon, with walls from each of its vertices toward the beacon opening. The northeast, northwest, and south sections had water flowing from them; the others did not. This room was designed to test Suicune's ability to control its jumps, which Aravan could handle with ease. The sections were wide enough that the Beast could land one part away from the section directly across from it, given the correct jumping angle. It took three leaps across the beacon opening to make it to the room on the west end.

    An electronic door closed behind the Beast as a trio of Dewgong poked their heads out of the deep water, firing blasts of water toward Aravan. Suicune shielded the rider from the impact, but the force of the attack caused it to throw Aravan into the shallow water on the north end. He rolled out of the way of a Bubblebeam before getting back up and rushing for the shallow water next to the entrance. "Suicune, jump!" Aravan shouted. Suicune leaped up to the top of the chamber as commanded. Aravan drew the Crystal Brand from its sheath, stabbing the ground. A coat of ice transformed the pool of water covering most of the west end of the chamber. The Dewgong were frozen in the water; even a Water Gun attack from the middle one froze in mid-air.

    When Suicune landed, it noticed a glint in the ice on the north side of the room. "Have a look at this," the Beast asked. The water near the now-opened door flowed slowly out of the room, which is why Aravan stood where he did to freeze the water. By the time Aravan slowly walked toward Suicune to avoid slipping, the Beast had cut out a block of ice with the glint in it, which was clearly a small, silver key.

    "Where there is a key, there has to be a locked door," Aravan replied, then chucked the ice block against the north wall, shattering it and exposing the key. Upon exiting the room, he immediately saw the use for the key--a locked and chained door on the other side of the beacon opening chamber. Suicune made a graceful leap over the gap to the door. Aravan unlocked it promptly, revealing a staircase to the next floor up.

    On the third floor, a guard wall prevented water from falling into the chambers below. A fast-moving, shallow band of water flowed from north to south. Aravan tried to open the north door, but pushing with all his might, he still couldn't. "Something on the other side must be blocking it." He chose to take the south exit instead of going up the west stairs. The room on the other side of the door was flooded and Carvanha-infested. One of them chomped on Suicune's front left leg, causing a loud roar to echo in the small chamber, hurting Aravan's ears. The water started to become red with shed blood as the Beast did its best to leap out of it. Aravan chucked his sword into the water, sticking it straight down into the ice that formed around the blade almost instantly. The rest of the water gradually froze, trapping the carnivorous fish in the water. Aravan could now clearly see Suicune's blood frozen in place in the water. A blue, healing light enveloped the two of them as the Beast's forehead crystal glowed, accelerating the healing process. It could still run fast as before, just its steps would be much more labored.

    The chamber to the west arced around the structure. Winds from the storm howled inside the room, with broken glass on the far side. Suicune did its best to sprint across the room after Aravan hopped off. The Beast's Chosen crawled along the near side of the windows, staying away from the broken glass on the east half of the arc. The two pressed on through the narrow hallway heading to the room directly north of the third floor's main hub. Aravan immediately noticed the source of the fast-moving water in the entry room: a large volume of water fell out of a grid in the ceiling. "So that's why the door wouldn't open," he thought, then turned to Suicune.

    "Suicune, aim an Ice Beam at that vent!" he shouted. The Beast fired an arctic, white beam toward the grid. The water slowed to a mere drip as a coat of ice covered the grid, preventing the water from passing. Another glint caught Aravan's eye; as the water receded, it revealed a small key almost exactly like the other one. Aravan picked it up before the Water Beast leaped down to the previously one-way door. Another small key in hand, the two took the west stairs up to the next floor, the fourth by the rider's count.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
  16. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    Personally, I really like that Ace was the one to accompany Aravan to the Lihthouse, as the combination of their personalities makes things more interesting, Aravan being more reserved and Ace being, well... Ace. :D I loved the part where Ace ignored Aravan going on about Ho-oh. xD

    Furthermore...having something like that happen to Ace's beast, of all of the characters, I see why you made it him.

    Crap, I don't have time to say much else. ^^;

  17. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman


    Chapter 9: The Beast of the Sea Lives

    (Accompanying BGM: "An Imminent Threat" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Dark clouds rolled over what was left of the sun and blue sky that late Johto afternoon. Nowhere in the entire region did sunlight shine through. Air and water temperatures plunged. A chilling rain covered the northern cities of the region. Just as it did three years ago, the waters between Olivine City and Cianwood City became turbulent, with whirlpools dotting the route. One giant whirlpool looked like it was going to suck the Whirl Islands into the sea, but the islands held up. Lightning flashed across the skies as the leviathan of Johto surfaced from the massive water cyclone. A scream pierced the air. It sounded like a battle cry, but human.

    Perched in front of one of the leviathan's dark purple stability feathers was a human holding a spear of sorts. She was dressed in an indigo outfit with a silver cape flapping in the wind of the storm. The lance was forged out of a lightweight, sea blue metal, with the tip of it a superheated metal the same color as the leviathan's mighty wings. It was cumbersome on the ground, and arguably impossible to use in close combat, as it was the length of one of her mount's wings. Another lightning bolt lit up the sky, and anyone who could make out the shape of the flying Pokémon above the Whirl Islands knew exactly what it was: Lugia, known as the Beast of Johto's Seas.

    Lugia whipped its tail hard, then generated a large wave pulse that traveled from its tail to its neck, giving the female rider a quick buck before ascending into the stormy sky. "Where the hell is everyone?" she muttered to herself. "They should be here any minute now!" Lugia circled the Whirl Islands several times, creating gargantuan waves with its giant wings, flying sideways around the sea, and even bucking Jade several more times before she spotted a familiar face in the distance. Burning wings in the distance signaled Fuoco and Moltres' arrival, with Articuno and another mysterious rider aboard it.

    "Jade, we have arrived from our executioner duties in Hoenn," Fuoco reported as his Moltres slowly circled Lugia upon arrival. "Slateport City has been wiped off the map."

    "Did you find the Chosen?" she asked sternly.

    "Yes, but there were two of them, and together they were too much for us to handle. Latios and Latias and their Chosen came to defend the city. We weren't able to destroy them, but Moltres here gave the Chosen of Latios a third-degree burn he won't soon forget."

    "If you run into that Chosen again, I want to see him...preferably alive, but if you happen to kill him, it won't matter." Lugia turned toward Articuno's rider. "Cory, status report." Similar to Moltres, a blue saddle was beneath where Cory sat on Articuno, and it blended in with its feathers perfectly.

    "We haven't found the Chosen, but we did overhear where the Beast Riders are--in Sinnoh, by the orders of Ho-oh. As for the whereabouts of any other Chosen, we don't know."

    "Interesting...they have abandoned their homeland after Ashelia's attack. Where is she anyway?" The moment after Jade asked, a powerful lightning bolt struck the island behind Lugia. Zapdos was gripping the lightning bolt in its talons, riding the bolt to the ground while carrying Ashelia.

    "Sorry I'm late, just had to finish my errand at what's left of Ecruteak City...more like nothing. There's nothing left of the place. I did see Ho-oh and a Chosen, and we fought for a while. Neither of us really made a dent in each other, so we left."

    "Do you know where they were headed?" Jade asked Ashelia.

    "No, but I don't think they'd leave Johto."

    "Thank you. Since we know the Beast Riders are in Sinnoh, that's where the three of you should be going. Find them and bring them back here, whether they be alive or dead." At that, the three riders left Jade and Lugia alone, taking off to the northeast.


    (Accompanying BGM: "Challenging the Empire" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    The fourth floor of the Lighthouse was completely flooded, some of it deep enough that Aravan couldn't see to the bottom. The closer he got to the top of the structure, the smaller the floors became. On the other side of the beacon column was a staircase leading up, but the east half of the room was in deep water. Recalling what he did to deal with the Dewgong on the second floor, he had Suicune leap up and fire an Ice Beam at the water, creating a coat of ice above it. From there, it was an easy slide across the ice to the next level up.

    The fifth floor, like the fourth, was completely flooded. This one, however, was much more complicated. Several Carvanha leaped out of the deep waters surrounding a narrow, winding bridge of shallow water, ready to chomp on anyone who tried crossing the bridge. Once again, Suicune simply froze the water to get to the next chamber. Aravan spotted a locked door on the west side of the beacon room. The key he picked up on the third floor fit into the lock, and up to the sixth floor he went.

    This time, it wasn't as simple as freezing the water. Pumps kept areas of deep water flowing enough so that even if Suicune were to Ice Beam the water, it wouldn't be frozen for long. Furthermore, a howling wind of hurricane force blew the water around into large waves on both the north and south ends of the outer room of the floor, making it impossible for Suicune to simply swim or run across. The waters were too rough. The only way forward was right in front of him.

    The moment he stepped into the flooded room, an electronic door closed behind him. The outer ring of the chamber sunk into deep water, forming an arena in the beacon chamber of the sixth floor. On the other side of that arena waited a barbaric Feraligatr.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Boss Battle" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    The Pokémon, even larger than Suicune, got down on all fours and charged across the beacon room toward Aravan. Suicune leaped up to dodge the charging gator Pokémon, then fired an Ice Beam at the water, causing the aggressive, blue Pokémon to slide into the sealed door. Aravan leaped off his Pokémon, drew the Crystal Brand, and sliced at Feraligatr's back repeatedly, ice crystals forming in each wound. Feraligatr's large feet flailed about as the the creature's back was in great pain from the water in its cells freezing. Its left leg whipped its way into Aravan's chest, sending him flying across the ice and into the far wall. If it weren't for the helmet covering his head, he would have had a concussion for certain. Even with the helmet, Aravan became a bit dizzy after crashing, and had to take a couple of blows from the Feraligatr's sharp nails before Suicune landed an Ice Beam just under its neck.

    The ice covering the arena collapsed as the moving water shoved miniature ice flows around the deep water. Aravan struggled to get himself onto Suicune's back. The moment he was able to swing his leg over and mount, the Beast surrounded itself with a blue glow that acted as a pain reliever and healing accelerator for his bleeding shoulder and upper left arm. It gave him the burst of energy he needed to continue battle with his opponent.

    Suicune and Feraligatr circled the edge of the arena, waiting for the other to strike. When the Beast of Water lunged toward the other water-type, Aravan slammed his blade into the water, freezing it again and causing the enemy Pokémon to slip while defending itself. Aravan pulled the blade out of the ice and jabbed it directly into the Feraligatr's head, causing it to breathe its last. Suicune's rider pulled the bloodied Crystal Brand out of the dead Feraligatr's head before it tumbled into the water below the cracked ice.


    (Accompanying BGM: "Challenging the Empire" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    The remainder of the ice in the room thawed out as an insignia of a tornado began glowing green in the center of the room. Aravan wiped his sword off, then washed his gauntlet in the water on the opposite side of the chamber. He remounted Suicune, then the two basked in the light the insignia was emitting. A rush of power entered the Crystal Brand in addition to the Beast of Water.

    "A new power has awoken in us," Suicune informed Aravan. When it began rushing around the room, a wave of pressurized air flew from the tip of the Crystal Brand, creating large waves in the deep water. "Hold on tight, Aravan." The Beast's body began to fade out as a swirling air mass formed around it. This air mass was strong enough that it sucked all the shallow water out of the chamber. When the air around the Beast swirled faster, the grey outline of a tornado turned blue, and the Beast's body seemed to disappear completely. Aravan didn't disappear or fall into the twister, oddly enough. It became clear to him that Suicune has become the twister itself, from the blue hue that surrounded the swirling winds. He was riding on the wind's strongest incarnation--a tornado!

    Reacting to the swirling wind, the green glow faded, but the east door still did not open. "That was the most incredible experience of my life!" Aravan shouted. "I could feel the wind swirling beneath my legs--it felt so powerful!"

    "With the power to be as a tornado, I can run even faster now. Hold on, I'm going to race again!" It seemed like Suicune was running on air at the speed it rushed around the room at. It disappeared into the wind, with Aravan finding himself on a tornado again. The cone of the twister was on its side compared to normal twisters, and it was narrow--as narrow as Suicune's body. It was a small tornado but had the potential to be more powerful than any twister that nature could possible create. It depended on how much energy Suicune put into it. The tornado flew just above the deep water of the room, spraying it high into the air.

    When the water had completely drained from the outer ring, Aravan spotted an ice blue-colored switch. "Stop, Suicune! The twister calmed down as Suicune's body reappeared inside. The water the Beast shot up rained down hard. Almost passing by the switch the second time around, it slid to a stop and reared up high, almost throwing Aravan off. He slashed the Crystal Brand toward the switch, a cutting wave of air flipping the button, causing the electronic door to open. With a running leap, Suicune made it back up to the top level and out the door back to the opening room of the sixth level. The only way to go, Aravan thought, was into the hurricane room.

    The waves in the next room crashed against the south wall, making a loud banging noise each time. Aravan gripped Suicune tightly, its mane flapping violently in the high winds. Suicune had to leap over some of the waves when it got out on the water, until it got going fast enough for the Beast to disappear into the wind once more. The blue tornado rushed across the water before too much of the water drained out of the room to make the leap up to the other side. The side with the staircase leading to the seventh floor was shaded, shielded from the wind.

    The deep water in the beacon chamber of this floor bubbled. Before reaching it, Suicune reared up high, nearly kicking Aravan off. "What's the deal?" the rider asked.

    Suicune's crystal glowed with a blue healing light once more. "It is full of toxins that I must remove." Suicune shone its healing light over the water, and the purple water became crystal clear, more so that the water on the previous floors. Without warning Aravan, the Beast became a twister again, draining the water out of the lowered area directly around the beacon. The moment he pushed the button to open the electronic door to the other side of the room, more toxic water from the next room over flooded the pit, flooding the open wounds of Beast and rider with poisonous fluid. Before it became impossible for the Beast to stand, it hopped out of the way of the water, then leaped out of the pit.

    Aravan fell from his Pokémon, dizzy from the poison that seeped into his body. Another healing light, this one directed at Suicune and the rider laying on the floor, removed the poison from their bodies, but Aravan still felt weak, his flesh festering with disease from the toxins. He tried to stand up and remount his Beast, but could not muster the strength to do so. Even if he could, he would just slump forward on its back, the slightest jerk causing him to fall. "I think this is a good place to rest," Aravan suggested, his voice coarse from feeling faint.

    "I concur," Suicune agreed.

  18. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 10: The Eye of the Storm

    (Accompanying BGM: "Challenging the Empire" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    By the time Aravan woke from his rest, night had fallen. It was still bright as ever inside the lighthouse, internal electric lighting keeping the chambers visible. With its crystal glowing a bright blue again, Suicune extracted the toxic waste out of the water, making it safe for the two to traverse. After Aravan remounted, was a simple hop up to the other side of the floor past the beacon room earlier filled with polluted water. On the south side of the east half of the room, stairs beckoned Aravan to climb up.

    The eighth floor looked much like the seventh, but it was all one room. This time, a thick, translucent wall barred the way to the next staircase. The way around the wall was at the bottom of a deep pool of water; the wall wasn't flush to the bottom. The true obstacle was a pair of Sharpedo prowling the waters; one on each side of the barrier.

    "It's not as simple as freezing the water," Aravan started. "If we freeze it, we can't make it to the other side."

    "It's going to be a bit hard, but I think I can drain the water away if I become as a tornado again. Hold on tight, Aravan!" The water Beast circled the room, gaining enough speed to become one with the wind. Water splashed over Aravan's legs as Suicune raced over the surface of the water. One of the Sharpedo approached the Beast, but was blown away by the intense wind before it could reach Suicune. The aggressive Pokémon flailed about on the upper level, eventually settling to a complete stop. The Sharpedo became devoid of life due to lack of oxygen. When the water was drained to a depth of about two and a half feet, the winds of the twister calmed. It moved back over to the higher ground. When Suicune reappeared as a Beast, it sat down on its hind legs. "Maybe I don't have it in me anymore..." the water-type sighed, a bit exhausted from the wild winds. "It's that water downstairs. It's got to be."

    "You're right," Aravan agreed. "It makes me feel weak, as well." Areas of Aravan's skin had turned a deep black from contact with the filth, and became fragile. Suicune's short fur didn't look quite as bad, but it was still spotty with the disease. Aravan slumped forward on his Beast as it carefully leaped into the water. The moment the other water-type heard water splash, it charged toward the Beast, serrated jaws wide open. The rider slashed the Crystal Brand toward it, a cutting wave of air flying in its direction. That attack sailed right over the foe. Just as the Sharpedo was about to chomp Suicune's head off, Aravan's mount fired an Ice Beam straight into the enemy Pokémon's mouth, freezing its jaws in place. The side effect was that the water also froze. Aravan dismounted his Beast and slid under the low, translucent wall with ease. For Suicune, however, it wasn't that easy. It had to get a running start, then lay down on its side and slide underneath the wall. It almost bumped its head on the edge of the beacon column on the slide down.

    After the slide under, Aravan quickly remounted Suicune, then had it carry him up to the upper level of the floor. On the south end of the chamber beckoned stairs for the two to climb. At the top of this last flight of stairs was the true beacon room--but no light came from it other than the interior lighting. The room itself, like many others--was flooded, with narrow pools of deep water dotting its edges, forming a regular hexagon. Another pool of deep water was directly over where the beacon's light would glow, but this water looked more like gelatin than real water.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Boss Battle" - Koji Kondo - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

    Another electronic door closed behind Aravan and Suicune, locking them in. Out of the gelatinous substance that was the center pool rose a gargantuan Tentacruel. Just its head covered the entire center pool. Rather than having 80 tentacles like most of its kind, this just had twelve--but they were thick, laced with poisonous and electrically charged barbs. Aravan immediately tried slicing at the mutated Pokémon's head, but his blade merely bounced off the gelatinous substance surrounding the water-type. Giant tentacles rose out of the three pools to the northeast side of the room, each group of them also covered in the jellylike substance.

    Suicune circled the arena carefully, building up speed to become one with a tornado. Aravan felt safer once he was onboard the swirling twister, but that safety was short lived when the group of four tentacles out of the east pool stretched out and lifted him from his Beast. He was trapped in the Pokémon's grasp, and there was nothing he could do. The electric tentacles, gripping Aravan tightly, flailed above the pool of water like Shalin's Rose Whip being lashed incessantly. The foe spun Aravan around as a cowboy would his lasso, then flung him into the south side of the chamber, head-first.

    Had it not been for the blue helmet on his head, the impact would have crushed the Suicune rider's skull. He was so dizzy from the attack that Suicune had to flip the rider onboard before another set of tentacles grabbed him to repeat the process. The Beast circled the chamber until Aravan came to his senses again. When that time came, the Chosen found himself tornado-back again. This time, the Pokémon circled the six pools of the chamber, draining the water beneath and shrinking the gelatin mass, exposing the Pokémon's tentacles. Aravan chopped off the tips of the tentacles with blades of air courtesy of the Crystal Brand's new power.

    With its tentacles chopped off and the Tentacruel's gelatin shield dissolved, Aravan was free to hack away at the foe. Wind blades cut through the Tentacruel's thin flesh, allowing ice crystals to freeze large portions of the creature's interior. After several slashes at the water-type, the gelatin shield formed again as the same water that Suicune threw to the top of the chamber refilled the six pools.

    The Beast proceeded to do the same as before, this time leaping out of the way of the tentacle clusters prepared to grab him again. Just as before, tornadic winds surrounded the Water-type legend, lifting the rider onto a twister. This time, though, after the gelatin shield collapsed, the electric tentacles that had been cut before came into contact with the watery surface. The water below flashed with electricity from the tentacles acting as live wires. Just before Suicune landed, Aravan leaped from the Beast and stuck his sword into the ground next to the Beast's landing point. Suicune howled a cry of pain as its body faced electrocution until the water froze. Having its feet frozen was still painful, but not as painful as the electric current flowing through it. Seeing the enemy stunned, the Suicune rider yanked his blade out of the ice.

    After more air blades cut the gelatin barrier out of the way, Aravan sliced the Crystal Brand through the semitransparent tissues of the Tentacruel, exposing its almost unprotected brain. He stabbed the vital organ in its center, blood spattering all over the chamber at impact. With the Tentacruel gone, a blue beam of light shone down from the top of the beacon column, visible all the way to the bottom of the lighthouse. When Aravan stepped into it, his skin changed from a festering purple and brown to a healthy, light, natural color. Suicune did the same, its wounds healed and its body rid of disease, poison, and electrical burns from the fight.

    (Silence BGM)

    With the lighthouse beacon lit, the chamber opened up to reveal a fresh, night sky. Aravan, fresh from the beacon's light, remounted his Beast. Once again, it became as a tornado. But this time was different--the water broke their huge fall, nine stories plus the cliff. Large amounts of water sprayed out in front of them at high pressure. Aravan was riding a typhoon back to town!

    Through the mist and howling winds, Aravan noticed someone at the top of the waterfall leading to the Pokémon League HQ building. "Damn," he said to himself, "I forgot about Shalin. Suicune, hang a right up that waterfall!" The closer the typhoon got to Shalin, the more he recognized the face in the middle of it. When it raced up the waterfall, she couldn't believe her eyes. The Beast stopped right next to the young Midori rider.

    "You could die out there--you were right in the middle of a typhoon!" Shalin hollered almost in Aravan's ear.

    "But Shalin, Suicune was the typhoon. In that tower, I found this." Aravan drew the Crystal Brand, its sharp edges now glowing green. A green gem in the shape of a tornado filled the hollows in the guard. "With this, we have unlocked a new power. So Shalin, ready to ride the wind?"

    Shalin was hesitant to respond. "Uh...alright, Aravan. I trust you." She mounted the Water-type, trusting her Beast to make it back to Veilstone City, the agreed meeting point. When the creature's body disappeared into a swirling wind, Shalin flinched, almost jumping off. The riders sped across the sea, the living typhoon spraying water everywhere around them.


    Again, the Beast Riders chose to camp outside town to avoid being seen by townsfolk. It was the middle of the night; Noctowl hoots echoed through the clear, moonless sky. Aside from the stars in the sky, it was almost completely dark out. Just after midnight that night, even the stars faded out, one by one. Even the street lights and neon lights in the city faded out. The howl of a Mightyena from the direction of town woke Ace, Josh, and Eron up. When Eron commanded Zoltin to release a Lucent Beam into the sky for illumination purposes, he identified something very unusual about the Mightyena: parts of its flesh had rotten away. The Pokémon had joined the ranks of the undead. There was only one Pokémon that could do this, but the riders had no idea what could have done it.

    (Accompanying BGM: "The Barbarians" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    A quick Lucent Beam from Zoltin dispatched the Mightyena, but that wasn't the only zombified Pokémon. Various Pokémon had also been transformed by the darkness, and even their trainers had become of the undead. They mindlessly attacked the city, and their numbers were so great that defeating the Pokémon without slaying the humans became impossible. Sadly, the Beast Riders knew they would have to take some innocent lives to save the masses. Eron and Zoltin led the way, shooting rainbow beams from its mouth at the undead trainers and Pokémon that crowded the midnight streets. Muffled screams of pain echoed all over the city as the disease-ridden bodies fell to the ground from being exposed to the light.

    The bursts shed light on Main Street, revealing a shadow on the asphalt. Almost immediately after the light shone on it, an almost completely pitch-black, ghostlike creature rose up from the seemingly light-resistant spot on the ground. Josh identified it as Darkrai, but even he was shocked to see what else came with it--a rider wearing pitch-black mystic armor designed for stealth after sunset. Teasing the Beast Riders, Darkrai circled Zoltin so fast that not even the Beasts nor their riders could follow it.

    "I take it you are also on the side of Arceus," Josh started, "and plan to 'purge' the world of those who have 'corrupted' the Order?" Raikou snarled at Darkrai, ready to lunge. Josh whispered to his Beast, "Raikou, don't. Did you see how fast it can move?"

    The rider gripped Darkrai as if it were a Pidgeot, almost laying on the back of the Pokémon. "Then I can skip most of the introductions then. Leon is my name, and I have protected Darkrai, only learning to ride on his back a year ago." White hieroglyphs depicting arcane magicks were seemingly tattooed onto his hands. A shriek echoed through the city as the zombified Pokémon and trainers fell asleep on the spot, some in the middle of the road. The sound of breaking glass echoed throughout the city as drivers of automobiles also fell asleep at the wheel, causing dozens of crashes.

    "It's sad to see all this talent go to waste," Eron sighed. "You seemed to blink in and out of existence, you were going so fast."

    "He can go even faster," Leon bragged, "but I can't stay on his back after about five hundred miles an hour." When the rider mentioned that, Darkrai's ghostlike tail rotated at high speed. "Josh, if only we were on better terms. But our ideals conflict. How about a little game?" Leon raised his hands into the air and mumbled in an ancient language. A veil of darkness separated Josh and Raikou from the other Beast Riders. Darkrai's body started to vibrate noticeably as its tail rotated faster. When Raikou lunged at the dark-type, it rushed farther down Main Street, moving like a spirit would--floating a few feet above the ground.

    Raikou surrounded itself with an electrical net to boost its speed and illuminate its surroundings, keeping Darkrai visible. Leon gripped Darkrai tightly as Raikou continued to close the gap. Just as the Beast lunged at the spirit-like Pokémon, ready to take a bite out of its tail, Raikou's target made a sharp turn toward the coastline of Lake Valor, which drained into the sea just a few miles out. The lightning Pokémon had to slide around the corner just to keep Darkrai in sight. Its body erupted in electricity as Josh asked for Extreme Speed. When a lightning bolt sparked past Leon's right, the black rider wrapped his hands over Darkrai's shoulders and gripped as tightly as he could--a sign for the dark-type to speed up. A large, black ring of energy erupted around Darkrai's tail, accompanied by the sound of a large explosion. Leon was racing toward Lake Valor at the speed he mentioned--just shy of five hundred miles an hour. Not even Akuji, the sprinting Beast, could catch it.

    A howling wind, getting stronger by the second, roared through Lake Valor and the coastline. In the process of chasing Darkrai, Raikou was nearly swept away by the wind, and Josh was thrown off entirely, sent flying into a Stop sign near the city's casino. A typhoon erupted over the lake, throwing Leon off Darkrai as well. When the typhoon made landfall, the coastline became flooded with the sacred waters of the lake, but the windstorm didn't stop. Visible on top of the unusual twister horizontal to the ground were Aravan and Shalin!

    (Silence BGM)

    Leon remounted Darkrai as the howling winds faded, revealing the water-type Beast. "Five against one is no fair. Darkrai, let's move!" The moment Leon's arms were around the dark-type's body once more, the Pokémon shot forward at seemingly impossible speeds, far too fast for any of the Beast Riders to track. When the two left the city, stars twinkled in the sky once more as confusion erupted in the city. Dead bodies, both human and Pokémon, lined the streets. The bodies trainers and Pokémon that survived the attack had been normalized, but were puzzled as to how it had happened. They had no idea that they were part of the assault on the city. Rather than go on about the destruction, the Beast Riders went back to bed, agreeing to have the discussion after they all woke up the next morning. It was past one in the morning.

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2007
  19. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 11: Out of the Freezer, and Into the Fire

    "That was amazing what you did last night to drive Darkrai away!" Ace complimented Aravan and his Beast. "Exactly what is it anyway? Everything happened so fast, I couldn't tell!" The sun, peeking through a gap in the dense cloud cover, was somewhat high in the sky for it being only half past nine in the morning. It was overcast, but no precipitation was forecast for southeast Sinnoh that day.

    "Okay, what happens is that Suicune builds up enough speed first. At its top speed, it becomes surrounded in a swirling wind, shrouding its body from view. It doesn't actually disappear, it just becomes hidden in the tornado. And you're not riding on Suicune's back in this, either; something causes you to float above the Beast, which causes you to ride right on top of the winds. And those winds can be faster than it can normally run. If you take Suicune over water, the winds will spray the water in a beamlike projection forward, and it'll look like a hurricane or typhoon from a distance."

    All the other riders except Shalin couldn't believe what they heard, and Eron even questioned whether Aravan was telling the truth. He replied by telling him he'd have to see for himself.

    "That's incredible," Josh added. "Shalin, you're lucky. Now, to our real business. Eron and Aravan, what was it like in the shrines? I feel that they are all similar in structure." The two tried talking at the same time, and couldn't stop, as each was trying to help the cause. "One at a time!" Raikou's rider shouted over them. "Aravan, you start."

    "Long story short, these shrines have labyrinths contained within them. They test your ability to fight alongside your Beast, your ability to fight alone, and your wit. Eron, did your Beast also get a special attack?"

    "Less an attack and more a wild thrill ride," Zoltin's rider answered. "Shall I demonstrate?" Aravan nodded as Eron jumped aboard his Pokémon. For the most part, it was a routine flight, puzzling the other riders as to what was special. After flying high enough that the Beast was barely visible from the ground, it pulled into a dive, a split second later becoming one with a white, laserlike beam. Eron leaned forward, almost laying on top of his Pokémon, to avoid being swept away by the wind the impossible speed created.

    It felt much longer to Eron, and was much longer by his count, but the beam hit the ground only a quarter of a second after the dive. When the light bounced off a tree, Zoltin took the form of a Beast once more, taking a short fall to the ground. No one, not even Aravan, could say anything; they were speechless at the new technique. "These abilities apparently let the Beast become one with their elemental attack," Eron explained. "If Suicune becomes as a twister, and I ride on light itself, and the pattern holds true...Josh, you'll be working closer to lightning than you ever thought. Entei's will have something to do with massive amounts of fire. Shalin, I have no idea what your Beast is going to do, but I'm guessing it has something to do with sunlight."

    Aravan continued on. "You will also, at the end, have to battle an unusual enemy. Defeating it will require the use of the technique your Beast learns. The main objective is to grab a special gem that fits in the hollows of your weapon, test its strength against a peculiar enemy, and leave."

    Josh still couldn't believe the special attack he witnessed. "Zoltin covered over a thousand feet in less than a quarter of a second!"

    Eron was fascinated by Josh's perception of the move. "Really? It felt like ten or so seconds when I was up there. Interesting...Zoltin as a light beam can distort the rider's sense of time. Want to race now, Josh?" he teased. Josh chuckled and politely refused. He called the attention of everyone to discuss the second half of the operation to visit the remaining shrines.

    "Okay, the remaining shrines are in the Flower Paradise, Stark Mountain, and Snowpoint Peak. Aravan, you help Shalin cross the sea to the Paradise. Ace and Eron, you come with me. We'll take you to the foot of Stark Mountain. After that, Eron, I need a lift back to Snowpoint. Don't endanger your Beast in the cold weather there more than you need to. We clear on that?" Everyone cheered and high fived before they split up in the directions given to them by Josh.


    (Accompanying BGM: "Seeking Power" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    After navigating a fog-ridden chamber of Mount Coronet, the Beast Riders emerged from the west side of the mountain, into a large snow field. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, which was a relief for the brave Beast Riders; blizzards in the Snowpoint area would make travel almost impossible. Choosing to avoid deep snow altogether, Zoltin took off, flying above the frozen plains. Raikou kicked up a lot of snow accelerating, but also avoided the deep snow by racing across the fresh powder.

    Various ice-types, such as Glalie, Piloswine, and Froslass, had to dive out of the way of the speeding Beast to avoid being trampled over. The snowy terrain flew by, but the wind from the wild speed was unbearably cold. Josh was nearly paralyzed from the icy wind, and acted nearly as a statue while he rode his Pokémon across the snow field. He breathed a sigh of relief when Snowpoint Peak came into view--that meant it was only a handful of miles to town. Raikou covered a mile every fifteen seconds, but each mile seemed like an eternity to Josh in the freezing temperatures. Eron spotted a fork in the snowy road, taking it to Snowpoint City. Josh had Raikou make the turn as well.

    "Hey, Ace," Eron asked, "want to try a light ride the rest of the way?"

    "But won't I have to lay right on top of you?" Ace replied, concerned about hurting his friend and fellow Beast Rider.

    "You have a helmet visor; you don't have to worry about wind in your face. I do. You'll be fine, just try not to lay right on me."

    "If that's the case," Ace grinned, "sure, I'll do it!"

    "You sure, Ace? This will be faster than anything you can imagine."

    "Dude, if I fall off for some reason, I'm responsible for being too reckless. Eron, just do it," Ace replied sternly.

    Without a reply from Eron, Zoltin began glowing with a blinding light, its body shrouded in the brilliance. Ace leaned forward as far as he could without laying on Eron's back. As the Chosen gripped his Beast tightly, it shot toward Snowpoint City at the speed of a laser rifle shot. They were moving so fast that everything at their sides was invisible--in complete darkness. Eron could only see a couple hundred feet in front of him--everything else was faded in darkness. Ace screamed as loud as he could, but no one could hear him--Zoltin was outracing even the shouting rider's voice.

    A split second after the brilliant flash, Josh and Raikou lost sight of their friends. All they could do was head east. The closer they got to town, the less deep the snow got, and the easier travel became--until Josh's Beast slipped on the ice underneath, sliding into Snowpoint Port.

    A free ferry ran between Stark Island and Snowpoint City--free for skilled trainers. The living light beam crashed into one of the towers of the ship, causing Ace and Eron to fall to the ship's deck. Zoltin landed on its feet. Seeing a Chosen mounted on his Pokémon, the attendant next to the ferry let him and his Beast on the vessel. Within ten minutes, they were headed for Stark Island.


    (Accompanying BGM: "Mosphoran Highwaste" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    Aravan and Shalin headed in the opposite direction, and quickly reached the south shoreline of Sinnoh, leading into Sunyshore City. The water route was a big issue, as Midori was unable to swim. "How are we to cross the sea together?" Shalin asked.

    "Simple," Aravan replied. "Suicune can utilize an Ice Beam to create a bridge over the water.

    Alarmed at the ice attack, Midori protested. "But I'll freeze my feet away! As long as it doesn't involve extreme heat or cold...anything but that!"

    Shalin and Aravan brainstormed for several minutes, when the Chosen of Midori finally came up with something useful. "I think I know of a way, if Suicune doesn't mind. How about Midori wraps her vines around you, Suicune, while you pull her across the sea?"

    Suicune reluctantly agreed. "It may be the only other way we have. How long do you think you could run on ice at a time?"

    "Not very long," she replied. "If I jump and buck to keep my feet on the ice the least amount of time possible, I'd guess about two minutes or so."

    "Alright. We'll alternate, then. Wrap your vines around me, Midori!" At that, the grass-type legend secured itself to Suicune's body, carefully wrapping its vines around the water-type.

    "Shalin," Aravan said somewhat sharply, "get off Midori. She's going to have a hard enough time on the ice."

    Shalin jumped off Midori and onto Suicune. "Say, wouldn't it be faster to just have Suicune become a hurricane?"

    "Only if Midori doesn't mind carrying an extra rider the rest of the way," he replied. "And it's a typhoon, not a hurricane!"

    "That's fine, so long as I don't have to run on any ice!" she cheerfully agreed to her Chosen's request. Despite that Shalin had been on the cyclone before, she still screamed in fear when the Beast disappeared into the wind. Faster and faster the winds accelerated and spun, causing Midori to flail across the sea like a flag in a storm. For most of the short trip across the water route, the winds lifted her high enough that she was parallel to the water. Her vines were stretched very thin at the fastest part of the run, which was quite a harrowing experience for the Beast.

    Suicune rushed straight up the waterfall blocking passage to Victory Road, bucking Shalin off by mistake as the intense wind threw Midori up the falls. 350 miles per hour of wind speed was more than though to throw them above the obstacle. The two landed near the entrance to the Victory Road cave complex, bearing moderate bruises on their legs but otherwise fine.


    (Accompanying BGM: "The Dalmasca Westersand" - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Final Fantasy XII)

    As soon as Josh and Ace, both onboard Raikou, left Stark Island's port town, ashes from Stark Mountain reduced visibility in the area. The lightning Pokémon had to slow down considerably to avoid tripping over the rocky terrain. The farther northeast Beast and rider headed, the denser the blinding ash became.

    "Well, there it is," Josh said to Ace as the volcanic ash impeding local visibility became even thicker. "Stark Mountain, where unimaginable flame power supposedly rests. I hope for your sake it's enough to thaw Entei out. I can't follow you any farther than this. The ash is too think and the terrain too rough. Good luck, Ace. When Eron finishes his work at Mount Coronet, he will come pick you up. If he isn't here when you get back out, head to one of the small towns in the area to rest up. Well, Ace, it's time for me to get going. Could you hop off Raikou's back, please?"

    A few seconds after Ace leaped from the lightning legend, it reared up high and leaped westward, quickly out of sight. When Beast and rider disappeared, Ace grabbed a Poké Ball painted with the image of fire and popped it open. Out came a Rapidash, its fiery mane diminished slightly by the massive amount of ash floating through the air. Its trainer climbed on almost immediately after releasing the Pokémon. "The terrain around here is rough and unstable, so don't go too--" Ace's sentence was cut off by his own scream as the flaming horse shot up the mountain path, reaching 150 miles per hour in just three running strokes. Ace held on for his life, not used to the sudden acceleration at all.

    After crossing the base of Stark Mountain, the path wasn't really much of a "path" anymore. Most certainly a riding Pokémon was required for any trainer to pass farther. Some rapid-fire jumps over unstable terrain felt like a wild Entei bucking an unwanted rider. Ace gripped his Pokémon even tighter when it made the first of several very sharp turns up to the only entrance to the volcano interior.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Fire Temple" - Koji Kondo - Ocarina of Time Dungeon)

    Rapidash slowed to a stop and reared up inside the entrance hollows. There was no path to follow. Anyone who got in here needed rock climbing equipment or a Pokémon capable of jumping high. "I think I'll need to stay on your back. Please don't go so fast this time. This place is dangerous, and I want to take it slowly to avoid getting hurt." Rapidash slid down to the lowest part of the floor, then bounded each of four slippery "hills" to the narrow tunnel to the north. On the other side was a walkway shaped like a religious cross, passages on each end. Below this cross was bubbling magma, creating an intense heat in the room. When Ace started coughing, Rapidash trotted back through the tunnel and into the entrance chamber. He fell from his mount and collapsed to the bottom of the room, bruising and cutting himself on the rough, rocky terrain of the mountain interior.

  20. ~RaikouRider243~

    ~RaikouRider243~ Lightning Swordsman

    Chapter 12: An Unbearable Heat?

    (Accompanying BGM: "Fire Temple" - Koji Kondo - Ocarina of Time Dungeon)

    Ace had a look at the magma-filled room from the entrance chamber. He noticed a large, green button on the floor that heavily contrasted against the metal walkway, and a barred-up passage requiring a key for entry. Rapidash gallopped back into the inferno, onto the switch. When the horse stepped there, two false volcano walls, one on each side of the cross, receded into the true wall, revealing two passages. Right when it stepped off, though, the button popped back up and the walls covered the entrances again.

    "Apparently to keep this open," Ace started, "there needs to be weight on that switch. Rapidash, stay right there and don't move until I get back." Ace jumped off his Pokémon and ran for the passage to the west. When he entered, a second false wall, this one moving from the side opposite the one linked to the switch, slammed against the volcano wall, locking him in. "Dammit, trapped!" Ace snapped. This room wasn't as hot as the previous one, as there was only a strip of molten rock stretching across the north-south diagonal of the diamond-shaped room. This strip was narrow enough ace Ace to jump across, but wide enough for him to fall into if he were to miss. As little exposed magma as there was in the small chamber, it emitted enough heat to make breathing difficult.

    When Ace leaped to the other side of the room, a pair of Ninetales came out of hiding, immediately firing crisscrossing streams of Flamethrower toward Ace. The Entei rider hopped to the right of the one coming from the west corner, avoiding the explosion resulting from the intersection of the blasts. Before it could fire a second stream off. Ace dove toward the Ninetales and stabbed it just below the neck, superheated blood spilling all over that corner of the room. The second one pounced Ace, but slipped off when it tried to claw him, thanks to the metallic equipment Ace had on. Seizing the moment, Ace jumped back on his feet, grabbed the Ninetales by its legs, and tossed it into the magma. When the Pokémon became buried in molten rock, the false wall receded. No key to the door was visible.

    When Ace trudged back into the lava-filled chamber Rapidash was in, he started choking from the heat, and stumbled back into the entrance chamber, breathing much labored. "This heat is killer!" he managed to say before collapsing on the stable rock at the north end of the entrance chamber. Rapidash followed him into the relatively cool chamber, intent on recovering its breath also.

    (Silence BGM)


    Falling ash blinded Raikou during the trip back to Stark Port. The Beast had to rely on Josh's guidance to avoid crashing in the rocky terrain. Several times during the trip, the rider had to wipe ash off his visor to be able to see at all. The farther away the two got from the mountain, the easier it was to see. The moment town was in sight, Raikou bucked Josh off hard, sending him flying into a tall, but smooth, rock. It shook all the ash off its fur before allowing Josh to climb back on. He wiped the ash off his visor once more, then raced westward, meeting Eron at the port.

    "There you are, Josh," Eron greeted him, looking majestic aboard his white Beast.

    "Why did you fly out here? I could have waited for the next ferry to come back."

    "We can get there faster by using the land bridge connecting Snowpoint and Stark Island--the tide's out."

    "Great, Raikou can run over that while I fly with you!" Josh suggested, his face beaming with excitement over being able to fly.

    "Hey, Josh, want to light ride back to Snowpoint?" Eron asked calmly.

    Josh didn't even reply; his grin was enough to communicate an answer of "Yes." The moment Raikou started running across the land bridge to the west, Zoltin's light attack blinded the entire port from view. Josh screamed for his life during the sudden acceleration, the white Beast racing toward Snowpoint City at over a thousand miles an hour.

    Everything to Josh's sides was completely black; he couldn't see anything to his side, nor could he see the ocean a few hundred feet beneath him. All he could see was a couple hundred yards in front; everything past that was black.

    Crossing the miles of sea took no more than a minute, even though it seemed like the length of a ride from Ecruteak to Azalea back home. They passed over Snowpoint City, its citizens peering up into the sky to see what the light was; it looked like a giant comet from their perspective. The beam took a turn to the northwest of town, the incredible speed almost throwing Josh off. Heavy snowfall bounced off the Beast, interrupting its course and crashing into a snow bank at the foot of Snowpoint Peak. The Raikou rider slid off Zoltin, dizzy from the impossible speed.

    "Josh," Eron said, "I need to go back and wait for Ace; this is as far as Zoltin can fly into this snow. From here, you're on your own. Good luck!" His friend didn't respond; he was still dizzy from the flight. "Too much speed maybe?" he mumbled to himself. "Oh, well. Time to go get Ace." In a split second, Eron and Zoltin disappeared in a brilliant flash, leaving Josh to wait for his Beast.


    (Accompanying BGM: "Fire Temple" - Koji Kondo - Ocarina of Time Dungeon)

    Ace had long since regained consciousness, but rested in the entrance chamber for fifteen more minutes to regain his strength. "Rapidash, go stand where you were." Ace's Pokémon stood back on the green switch and opened the doors. Ace took the east one this time. Like the west room, this one wasn't as hot as the junction chamber but still hot enough to make breathing moderately difficult. This chamber had a figure-eight pattern to it, the holes in the "eight" filled with molten rock. A key to the north door hung from the south wall, near the southwest corner of the room. It was in plain sight. The moment Ace removed the key from its position, a false volcano wall covered the entrance to the room, and two Charmeleon leaped out of the bubbling magma, splashing liquid rock all over the chamber. It singed Ace's left shoulder, dropping him to his knees for a brief moment.

    When one of the fire-types utilized a slashing attack, Ace slid under the Pokémon's arm and into its legs, tripping it. The Charmeleon fell to the floor, chin-first, knocking out two of its front teeth. Ace leaped into the air and came down with his blade, severing the tail of the lizard Pokémon. Separated from its source of fire, the Pokémon perished.

    Ace caught a glimpse of the other Charmeleon dipping its claws into the magma before leaping out of the way of a sudden stream of fire. He partially lost his balance upon landing from the jump and nearly fell into one of the magma pits. The fire Pokémon rushed toward Ace, molten rock dripping from its claws. Ace performed the same slide move as with the other Charmeleon, but this time the Pokémon's claws nicked the valiant warrior close to his right knee. When Ace cut the second Charmeleon's tail, the passage opened again. He limped out of the room and into the superheated crossroads. The key fit into the lock on the north door perfectly. He was relieved to find another cooled passageway, this one forking east and west.

    Rapidash followed Ace into the cooled room, the doors in the crossroads chamber slamming shut again. Ace hopped on his flaming stallion again, then pulled out a quarter. "Heads, we go left. Tails, we go right." Ace tossed the coin and caught it in mid-air. He covered the back of his left hand after putting the flipped coin there, then revealed it. "Heads. Rapidash, we go left."

    Ace followed the winding chamber to the next chamber of the mountain. It was even hotter than the crossroads he'd been in earlier. Rapidash turned around and retreated to the cooler passage as Ace poked his head in and out. He could make out a series of ascending cliffs on the north end as well as a broken bridge leading right up the center. A short pillar sticking out of the magma supported the bridge up to about two-thirds of the way across the room. There were also several "islets" of freshly-cooled molten rock dotting the room. Over seventy percent of the square-footage of the chamber was liquid rock, making passage difficult no matter what.

    "Rapidash, can you jump from that bridge to up there?" The horse sounded an uneasy neigh. Ace frowned for a second. "You say you can but you're not that confident. Take me across these small mounds of cooled rock, and don't miss." The fire-type confidently hopped from islet to islet, no fear at all of missing a jump and slipping into the superheated molten rock. With some high jumps, it scaled the staircase-like cliffs. Ace could make out a winding passage leading up. It led to a small empty chamber. On the east side was a spiraling passage leading down. "So it didn't matter which way we went. Both led up..."

    Rapidash trotted into another cool chamber, a lone Vulpix in the center. It stared at Ace but did not attack. He directed Rapidash slowly around the Pokémon standing guard. There were three passages; one to the southwest, one to the south, and one to the southeast. "My coin won't work for this...but my gut tells me the center is the way to go." Ace poked his head into the center room. A narrow catwalk connected the previous room and a spiraling passage leading up. The magma didn't reach up here but it was visible. A fall from this point would be a drop down an entire level, which would cause serious injury even if Ace didn't fall into the magma. The narrow walkway wasn't straight either, but short enough for Rapidash to jump. "Jackpot!" The Pokémon made a graceful leap to the other side of the room and up the makeshift stairs.

    The level above consisted of an even narrower catwalk, this one shaped like the letter "C". There was barely enough room for Rapidash to move, and slowly at that to avoid falling to their death. Ace followed the "C" to the west exit and another superheated room, magma bubbling over the entire floor of it. A metal grid linked a southern passage with the one he just came out of. An independent grid led to another chamber to the north. Ace chose to take that path. Perfectly in the center of the north wall, he noticed another barred gate requiring a key. He turned back, muttering choice words under his breath.

    Ace and Rapidash had to traverse the trecherous narrow walkways again to get back down to the second floor. After reaching the room with Vulpix standing guard, Ace dismounted from his Pokémon. His right leg still hurt from the Charmeleon attack, but now it wasn't enough of an impediment to keep him from walking on his own.

    Rapidash gallopped into the passage on the right, shaped like a reverse "C". Still no superheated room in sight, the Pokémon continued on. When they entered the rear chamber, the southernmost area this high up in the volcano, a key hung on the south wall in plain sight. The only thing separating it was a moat of lava slowly flowing in a circle. Rapidash raced forward wildly, gathering sufficient speed to make the leap. When Ace grabbed the key from the wall, nothing of immediate consequence happened. He could make out a passage on the other side of the room; it was a mirror image of what he came in from. In fact, the entire second level was symmetrical except for the center room. He soon realized that he made a big mistake. There was not enough room for Rapidash to get the running start required to make the leap back.

    Knowing he couldn't get back with Rapidash, he recalled the Pokémon. "I need a way to fly to the other side, and only Scyther would be able to do that. Ninjask just isn't strong enough or big enough to carry me. Well, here goes nothing!" As soon as Ace released Scyther, he climbed on the mantislike Pokémon and commanded it to fly over to the other side of the room. As soon as it started to hover over the lava, its body began burning from the intense heat. At the time the Pokémon sounded a loud cry of pain, Ace leaped off the bug-type's back and landed safely on the other side. He immediately recalled it, sad that he had to put it through that. He knew, though, that it was the only way to cross back over.

    When the Vulpix standing guard noticed the key Ace had, it turned around and started spitting embers toward Ace, like a Grovyle would shoot seeds from its mouth. Instead of sticking around to fight, Ace directed Rapidash to jump across the catwalk to the makeshift stairs leading up to the floor. He successfully avoided an unnecessary battle.

    "I guess I need to explore this place more thoroughly," Ace thought as he chose to take the east exit out of the catwalks this time. The room beyond was bizarre, best described as being on top of a maze with magma in the various gaps of the structure. When Ace and Rapidash stood on top of the structure, it started slowly sinking into the magma. The fire-type made several risky leaps over large gaps to make it to the south exit before the maze sank completely. On the other side of that exit was a very small chamber with another key--this one completely unguarded. Ace grabbed it, then Rapidash gallopped out of the west exit, into the room covered with bubbling magma. The metal grid was long enough for Ace's mount to build enough speed to make the high leap to the top of the chamber, where a wall of flames passed under them.

    "Finally, back to where we were," Ace said as he rectified his exploration errors. The bars blocking the passage upward fell back when he opened the lock on them. At the top of the winding passageway to the fourth floor...was yet another locked door. Using the second key he had stolen from the room downstairs, he opened the route to yet another room with bubbling magma. A false volcano wall locked him in. Magmafalls surrounded much of the stable ground. An insignia shaped like a burning flame was in the direct center of the floor, surrounded by a circle of magma with three bridges, each at 120-degree intervals. It was a breathtaking sight, literally--the room was so hot it became more difficult for Ace to breathe, despite being used to the heated environment.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Middle Boss Battle" - Koji Kondo - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

    A creature resembling Magmar leaped out from behind the east magmafall, splashing the molten rock around where it landed. It certainly was no Magmar, though. Fireball-spewing guns were grafted into its arms, and it was almost as tall as Ace. When the Pokémon fired a test volley to the top of the heated chamber, Ace wanted to cover his ears from the noise--it sounded like an automatic weapon of cannon shots; very loud indeed.

    Aside from the center of the chamber, there was not much room for either of them to maneuver. Ace hopped back to give himself a chance to dodge the fire bolts the guns would be shooting toward him. They didn't fire as fast as Bullet Seeds but were far more powerful. From his distance, Ace could dodge any fireballs thrown his way easily, giving him time to see what his opponent looked like and find any weak spots. He spotted the creature's fiery tail when it turned to the left. "This should be easy," Ace thought. "Just have to get behind him, but I have to be quick about it."

    Ace rolled out of the way of a volley of fireballs headed his way. They exploded like grenades upon hitting the volcano wall. He was able to roll under each successive volley, but couldn't make any progress in coming closer to Magmortar. The fire-type then tried leading individual shots into Ace. He seized the opportunity by moving closer to Magmortar in an unpredictable pattern. Ace's right foot was nearly caught in the blast radius of one of the shots. He charged straight at Magmortar and slid around to its other side. His sword just barely missed the enemy Pokémon's tail. When Ace tried crawling under it to get a more open slash at its weak point, Magmortar kicked Ace out from underneath itself, sending him flying back to the outer edge of the room and his sword nearly flying into the superheated rock. A wary fireball blasted his sword into the bubbling red ooze. Ace dove out and grabbed it by the hilt, singing his elbow in the magma in the process. His sword arm was paralyzed with pain from the intense heat that radiated from the cooling magma.

    After circling the arena several times, Ace recovered feeling in his sword arm and continued to edge closer to Magmortar while employing various methods of dodging fireballs. He faked the Pokémon out twice, then charged straight forward, leaping over a third fireball sent his way. As he landed from the jump, he plunged the Crimson Blade straight into the heart of the Pokémon, causing it to collapse to the ground. Making sure it was dead, he pulled the sword out of the creature's chest and severed its tail.

    (Accompanying BGM: "Fire Temple" - Koji Kondo - Ocarina of Time Dungeon)

    The south exit reopened, and the insignia on the floor glowed in a red hue. It slowly rose up out of the ground, revealing inside the hollows a flame-shaped red, orange, and yellow gem that fit perfectly in a hole on the guard of Ace's sword. He grabbed the relic and inserted it into the similarly-shaped slot in the guard of the weapon. The blade recovered its red color and heat. The edge of it glowed with a red flame, making it even more lethal to foes than before. A few seconds after the blade became ablaze with fire, Ace found it much easier to breathe in the superheated chamber. When he noticed the false volcano wall blocking the south exit had disappeared, he scanned the room for other changes, but to his dismay, could not find any. "If only Entei were here, I'd be able to see what's on top of that lavafall. I guess I have to turn back. Hey, I wonder if I can thaw Entei out with this!" Ace released Rapidash and mounted once more, racing back down the volcano. When they reached the second floor, Rapidash leaped down from the narrow walkway to one of the islets on the first floor, Ace knowing it could make the leap.

    The seemingly wild horse Pokémon rushed out of the volcano catacomb and into open air once more. It raced down the volcano path at full speed, excited to leave the inhosiptable place. Just before reaching the port of Stark Island, Rapidash thrashed about, bucking Ace hard. He held on for dear life, not knowing what he did wrong. He did nothing wrong; his Pokémon was merely shaking the ash off them both. Eron spotted a blazing fireball rush down the main road of the village. He knew it had to be Ace.

    "Finally, he's here. I've been waiting for almost an hour!" Ace recalled his Rapidash and sheathed the Crimson Blade. He climbed onboard Zoltin. When the Beast made its takeoff run toward the west, Ace tugged on it hard, frightening it and causing it to rear up high, sending Eron flying off.

    "You're going the wrong way!" Ace leaped off Zoltin's back, then quickly back on, in front of its wings.

    "What are you doing up there, Ace?" Eron asked sternly.

    "Jump back on if you don't want to be left behind!"

    Eron sighed, then clenched his teeth at Ace before climbing back on. Zoltin reared up again, then leaped straight into the air without the usual running takeoff. Ace guided the winged Beast to the southeast, the white creature flapping its wings hard for maximum acceleration.

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2007

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