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System:Reboot (PMD)

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Let me start off by saying that, yes, Macro you are getting paranoid. And I'm surprised you haven't been more paranoid earlier on given the big price on your head. Unless he's just gotten so used to it and so indifferent to the concept of folks trying to claim his bounty that he doesn't care any more. Which is kinda sad, admittedly. Also, the Macro can't keep a scarf to save his life joke is back! I'm kind of hoping the one Switch got him is what bucks this trend. I feel like that's what's supposed to happen, but I could be wrong.

I do like how the effect of the dream on Macro's behavior ends up spilling into the Cyan City stuff. Previous attempts to retrieve discs had Macro going in guns akimbo and getting pretty reckless against the government flunkies. But now he's totally spooked and going about things super cautiously, like he thinks he's going to get swallowed up by a trap. However, all of that is sidetracked by a literal kidnapping. I think I missed something somewhere, because other than water-types being sort of hunted(?) in System, I'm not sure what sort of conflict Cyan City's embroiled in... or why for that matter. There was a mention of a small war, but I must've forgotten what it's about. ^^;

In any case, it looks like you're setting things up for the next chapter to be something very different for Macro. Curious to see ho he approaches a rescue mission.
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Also, the Macro can't keep a scarf to save his life joke is back!
Lol, I love that joke myself!

I think I missed something somewhere, because other than water-types being sort of hunted(?) in System, I'm not sure what sort of conflict Cyan City's embroiled in
There's a difference between the water dwellers and other water types. Pokemon who can not go on land are deemed 'useless' and turned into food, whereas pokemon such as oshawott, croconaw, piplup etc. can move around on land, therefore don't fall under the 'useless' category. I may need to rectify the confusion on this in earlier chapters, as I'm not sure how clear I made it =/

In any case, it looks like you're setting things up for the next chapter to be something very different for Macro. Curious to see ho he approaches a rescue mission.
I am pretty happy with this arc, despite the fact it came out of nowhere and seriously delayed the scene I was itching to write for weeks XD you guys are in for a ride, I hope you enjoy it!

...

Chapter Twenty Eight​

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

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

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

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

“You brought her with you?” he scoffed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freshly fallen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… be done with this place before dawn.”

“But what about these two?”

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

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

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

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

“Anything?” the granbull whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

She nodded.

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

“It’s Lossy,” she choked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Exactly. Borderline,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A map? What for?”

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

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

“Then where can I get one?”

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

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

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

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

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

She shook her head again.

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

Or he was, at least.

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

“You serious?” the granbull scoffed.

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

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

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

...​

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

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

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

“Not bad,” she said finally.

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

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

“You’re good at it,” said Annie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daylight.

Weren’t decidueye nocturnal?

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

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

Maybe that would be her one day?

...​

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What was it?” he asked. “A crime?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracer stood up fast, almost knocking his chair over.

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

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

“Widget!” he barked. “Mask.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Allegedly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess he needed his stick after all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stranger danger!”

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

“Wretched human!” Widget roared.

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

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

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

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

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

“Hold on,” Waveform told the human.

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

After that, they were gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Evidence?”

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

“I don’t think you’re using that right. But whatever. Take it.” Tracer looked back over his shoulder at the silent street. He was still rather dazed, but one thing was seriously bugging him and he wasn’t going to dispute the eevee’s interest in the arrow. “I am wondering, though, what on earth Waveform wants with a human.”
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Macro can now add detective to his ahem unique resume. Don't like, Detective Captain Macro has a great ring to it and he'd totally call himself that. I'm pretty sure having kidnappers take their victims to farmlands is one of those things that you encounter in a certain niche of police/investigative media. Though, in this case, it makes perfect sense given the culprits are a whole bunch of living plants.

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

“Exactly. Borderline,” she said.

He shrugged his paws. “I was being generous. It’s absolutely impossible.”
That's our Macro! *laugh track*

And, unsurprisingly, Macro does dip back into her reckless side, opting to go after the kids by himself. Here I thought he'd have to pull out his inner teamwork. Oh well. Also, I thought Annie had opted to stabilize her Archeops form. When did she go back to being human, again? I swear I'm not losing my mind. It strikes me as an especially boneheaded decision considering it pretty much lands her in trouble right off the bat. I'm assuming there'll be some sort of explanation coming up about that? Along with one about Tracer's relationship with Waveform (unless that was the gist of it)? Because now I'm very curious how the two view each other.
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Also, I thought Annie had opted to stabilize her Archeops form. When did she go back to being human, again? I swear I'm not losing my mind.
No, you're not going mad. She figured out the tablets allow her to stabilize a form. And, given her archeops form can't time travel, she doesn't care a jot about which one she's in. As such, she chops and changes. There's no explanation this time, I just like to think she overslept and stabilized her human form after taking her pills.

Chapter Twenty Nine​

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

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

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

“Grab you?” Web asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annie’s attention drifted to the opaque yellowed window.

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

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

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

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

“Every credit?” Web asked.

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

“You never thought to wait and ask him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is pretty important,” said Annie.

Web looked up sharply, still sprawled across the table.

“The ship,” Annie added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you want?” he snapped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...​

Macro was seriously beginning to question his sanity.

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

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

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

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

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

Not to mention a sticky mess.

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

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

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

Locked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A caterpie.

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

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

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

“Cap’n?”

“Where are you?” Macro demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Contagious?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What on earth is that?!” she gasped.

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

Lossy stared down at it, mouth agape.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What makes you say that?” said Macro.

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

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

“But it panicked,” said Macro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You all right, ma’am?” he asked.

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

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

“Give her a rest, Cap’n.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macro frowned and aimed the phone at him. “Shut up.”
 
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Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Wow, Annie is like... not a good leader... at all. Macro can at least do right by his crew on occasion. But it feels like Annie is really just taking advantage of her so-called friends generosity. I mean, I guess it's nice she's helping Zip, but she's doing it for all the wrong reasons. And at this point, I hope the Pyukumuku ship lives up to the hype.

*sees Macro's part*

Oooooooooh... so that's what you meant by a sticky situation. Clever. Veeeeeeeery clever. Also, +1 Macro ruins his scarf counter. That makes it, what, +6 in 29 chapters, now? Very impressive. Also very costly, I'd imagine. As for the Caterpie, good grief, it's a DL situation but somehow actually worse? It's like things just keep getting more corrupt and more corrupt. At first, I wasn't exactly sure what you meant when you claimed Cyan City was going to be an arc of sorts. But now it looks like things are starting to come together. And, man, Macro really got fired up about this pretty quickly. I find it a little bit odd, considering how "look out for number one" he had been prior to this chapter. But I guess this was meant to serve as a kick in the teeth that gets rid of that sentiment pretty quickly. I can only imagine what sort of reckless, impromptu craziness he's going to plunge into soon.
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Woo! It's nearly Christmas! =D

I have a special Christmas Episode to upload this weekend. I'll try to get it up Christmas Eve ;)

Clever. Veeeeeeeery clever. Also, +1 Macro ruins his scarf counter. That makes it, what, +6 in 29 chapters, now? Very impressive.
I don't think he'd agree about it being impressive... it must get pretty tiresome for him after a while. But it's certainly a fun ongoing gag XD

Chapter Thirty​

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello?” it asked.

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

“Oh yes! Hold on one second.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” said Macro all too quickly.

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

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

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

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

“That is fine.” The bibarel sat back in his chair and replaced his spectacles.

Macro kept a close eye on him, but he didn’t look back up from his computer. Once Lossy was done, the bibarel retrieved the notepad and pushed a buzzer on the desk.

“You have-” he read over the notepad. “Lossy here to see you. And…”

He trailed off and looked back up at Macro and Anchor. A look of realization began to cross his face, but before he could say anything more, the Governor’s voice rang out from his speaker.

“Fantastic! Send them in right away.”

“Okay…” The bibarel cleared his throat. “It’s just through those double doors. Room Two A.”

Macro met the secretary’s gaze, but Lossy grabbed him by the elbow as she mumbled her thanks and steered him alongside her towards the Governor’s office.

Two A was exactly where Macro would have expected it to be. The words ‘Governor Jumper’ were even printed in gold over the window.

Lossy knocked twice and a deep voice from beyond the door instructed them to ‘come in’. Two simple words that chilled Macro to the bone.

A lithe frogadier hunched over a low desk, decorated to resemble an old mahogany antique. But like most antique-style furniture, Macro could easily guess it was made from plastic and chrome. He looked up when they entered and his yellow eyes went from worried to furious to plain confused in a split second.

“Lossy, right?” he asked the dewott. Then he look up at her two companions. “Why, may I ask, are you accompanied by Hunter of Wildcard Gamma?”

“Because…” She wound her paws together and her eyes flitted from Macro to Anchor. “Because they helped me… They… They know what happened to my children…”

“And… let me guess…” Jumper let his pen drop to the table and sat back in his chair. “That writhing thing leaking silk is the caterpie you were telling me about?”

Macro’s eyes snapped to his writhing scarf. He’d been clutching it so tightly the caterpie had begun to protest violently and a gap had opened in the folds, letting sticky silk flow out onto the linoleum floor like a faucet.

“Oh right… yeh.” He chuckled nervously and pulled the fabric back from the caterpie’s head. “Yeah, it’s-”

The frogadier waved his paw. “Don’t say anything, Hunter. Lossy told me everything. Let me look at it.”

Jumper’s voice was laced with venom. It pushed Macro’s fur on end and he had to bite back a sneer. He took a confident stride forward and deposited the sticky caterpillar right onto the Governor’s paperwork. He folded his arms and took a step back, letting a smirk spread over his lips. At least it covered up the fact he was deeply regretting folding his arms over his immensely sticky scarf.

Jumper sighed and tried to rescue some of his paperwork from beneath the silent bug.

“Wipe that smile off your face, Hunter,” he said. “You should know full well the risk you’re taking being here in Cyan City.”

Macro snorted. “If I weren’t here, you’d have no idea that grass army was in your City. Or that they’re releasing bug pokemon to attack your orchards.”

Jumper narrowed his eyes at him and shook string from one of his files. “That is the only reason I’m not throwing you behind bars. Now… I think I know full well why you’re here. Socket warned me you might show up. Nevertheless, right now… I hate to say this, but… I’m in your debt.” He raised a paw before Macro could chip in with a snippy comment. “But don’t go demanding anything off me. All you’ve done is alert me to something that would have become obvious in a day or so. I can pay you back by letting you keep your freedom and get out of this city. If you’re not gone by nightfall, my word will no longer protect you and you’re back to being free game. Understood?”

Macro snorted and turned his back on the frogadier. He struck Anchor in the lower back with his paw.

“Come on, Anchor. Let’s get that disk and scat.”

“But…” Lossy clutched her paws together and looked between the space pirates and the governor. “My children…”

“Don’t worry, Lossy,” said Jumper. “Cyan City’s army will deal with the grass threat and rescue your children.”

Macro paused by the door and fixed the Governor with a sneer. “You send an army in there guns blazin’, those kids are as good as dead.”

Lossy let out a wail and fell heavily into the nearest chair. Jumper looked up at Macro with a start and his eyes narrowed dangerously.

“I think my army knows what they’re doing, Hunter,” he said. “Don’t you go scaring a worried mother with your lies!”

“They ain’t lies,” Macro retorted. “I’ve seen enough combat to know things can go from bad to worse. I heard with my own ears that army is keeping those kids as a bargain to get away.”

“Murder is illegal and punishable by death,” Jumper said slowly. “I sincerely doubt that a law abiding army-”

“Law abiding?! Yeah right! Look what they’ve done to that caterpie then tell me they wouldn’t hesitate to murder a couple of kids!”

Lossy sobbed loudly and her face fell into her paws.

Jumper met Macro’s leer for a long, painful moment, then sighed, letting his pen drop beside the caterpie. His eyes went to the bug, watching as it scanned the room with its blank, black eyes.

“Maybe there are risks,” he said. “But I can assure you we will get those kids back.”

“Yeah?” Macro pulled the door open. “Let’s see who gets there first, then.”

Jumper narrowed his eyes again. “What are you saying, Hunter?”

“I’m sayin’ I never leave a job unfinished.”

With that, he let the door slam shut behind him.

...​

Socket’s office filled with digital ringing, penetrating her sound filter which was primarily thrown up to tune out Tweak’s incessant jingling. She frowned at the chingling bouncing in the corner of her office while he leafed through and stamped her paperwork, then brought up her holoscreen. Yobi’s tired face filled it and he looked up from his indescribable nicknacks to address her.

“Good afternoon, Madam Mayor,” he said.

“Good to see you out of your sick bed, Yobi,” she said. “What are you ringing me for, exactly?”

“To be honest,” he looked back down at his work, “to let you know I’m out of my ‘sick bed’.”

Socket did not appreciate his air quotes. She steepled her paws together and narrowed her eyes at him.

“You look just as dreadful as you did before you fainted,” she said.

He gave a dry laugh but didn’t look up from whatever he was attacking with his screwdriver. Part of her wondered if he was imagining whatever it was to be her face. Not that she cared.

“Someone has to make these things,” he said. “Besides, I’m still trying to work out the kinks in that worm you want me to send to Download Database.”

“Oh yes, the worm.” She let her paws drop onto her desk and leant back in her chair. “When will that be ready?”

“Like I said, it has kinks,” he said. “Obviously we don’t want it to kill the host. But we do want it to incapacitate her and make her easier to retrieve.”

“I am less concerned about retrieving that pachirisu than I am Hunter. I just want that nuisance of a pirate to stop meddling in my plans.”

“Then the virus is a win-win,” he said. “It will incapacitate her, we can retrieve her along with Hunter and his goons, and it will also prevent him working around her database to access confidential files.”

“Tweak already dealt with that,” she said. “Download Database’s reach is severely limited.”

“Doesn’t mean she can’t be hacked around,” said Yobi. “If there was a surefire way to stop other pokemon from accessing databases, hackers would have been powerless centuries ago.”

Socket snorted, then covered up the rather unfeminine sound by scratching her nose.

“I know it sounds ridiculous, but believe me,” said Yobi. “There’s a massive risk. We definitely need to either retrieve the pachirisu, or shut her down until we manage to obtain her. The worm will do both. Not only will it shut down the database, it will also allow us to track her down.”

“Yes, since the last tracker was destroyed,” said Socket. “I hired a mercenary to track down Hunter and her last update was less than reassuring.”

“Well.” Yobi scratched behind his ear with an oily paw, leaving an unsightly black streak on his orange fur. “Unless they have some means of detecting, isolating and destroying a worm, then this method will be much more reliable than a little tracking chip.”

“Fantastic news.” Socket steepled her paws again and leant forwards on her elbows. “When will it be ready?”

Yobi cleared his throat and shot her a fleeting glance. The kind he often gave her before he fled a room.

“I already said, it has some kinks.” His voice came out with as much haste as a rapidash trying to escape a tsunami. “That last episode of mine cost me some serious time, but I’ll keep working on it, and as soon as it’s ready, I-”

Socket raised her paw to cut him off. “You will make sure you rest, young man. I don’t want you to lose yet more time with another fainting episode. You understand me?”

Her dagger voice caused his eyes to widen, and he closed his mouth tight and nodded.

“Yes, Madam Mayor,” he said. “I understand completely. I’ll set this android aside and get to working on the worm as my number one priority.”

Before she could even ask what importance the new android served, he vanished, and her holoscreen retreated into its desk entirely of its own accord.

She sat back in her seat and sighed, rubbing at her forehead with one paw. “Stupid technology.”

...​

It certainly wasn’t dawn when the materials arrived. It was more like dusk.

Cold wind whipped at Annie’s hair as she stared up at the skip of scrap metal. Sheet upon warped sheet of varying grey, splashed here and there with the occasional neon colour. Most of which was marred with rust.

Waveform crouched on the edge of the skip with admirable balance. He rifled through the jagged sheets, the sharp edges snagging and snipping at his brown wing feathers. He didn’t seem to mind, or notice. One or the other. Finally, he turned his sharp eyes onto Annie and Web.

“It’s all here,” he said. “All three thousand five hundred credits worth.”

Web stifled a sigh. “You paid all that for this?”

“In all fairness,” he said, “it isn’t a lot of money for sheet metal. But it got enough scraps to build the entire shell of a ship.”

“And what about all the parts that will make it work?” Web asked. “An engine? Steering controls? Fuel? Not to mention the paint it will take to get this looking like…” She waved a paw.

“A pyukumuku,” said Annie.

The skuntank shrugged and looked back up at Waveform.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said. “While the rest of you are building this ship, I’ll keep hunting pirates. We’ll hopefully have enough for the remaining parts before too long.”

“You’ve said a billion times that space pirates don’t just fall out of the sky!” said Web. “What about the necessities? You can’t keep wasting all those credits on a toy that might not even fly!”

“Oh, it’s not a toy,” said Annie.

Web turned her large head to face the human. “Annie, could you please go inside and see what Trojan is up to?”

Annie shrugged. “Sure. Maybe he’ll let me see what designs he’s come up with.”

Web watched the human stroll into the house, then look around as though she’d lost her way before finally finding the stairs. Web turned back to Waveform who was once again rifling through the tatty sheet metal.

“Waveform, I think we made a huge mistake taking in a human,” she said.

“Really? Because I think it was a fantastic decision,” he said.

“I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.”

“I’m not being sarcastic.” He straightened then glided down to the ground with one silent beat of his wings. “It was just what we needed to get a jump start on dealing with Socket.”

“What is your issue with the Mayor?” Web asked. “The environmental conditions don’t even directly concern you. You could easily be living in luxury inside Gear Village yet for some reason you choose to live in the slums hunting down space pirates!”

He said nothing as he tossed a stray, and somewhat heavy, sheet of metal back onto the heaving pile. It teetered precariously at the top before sliding into place with a sound like claws on a chalkboard.

“Seriously, Waveform. What is it? You’ve always been shrouded in mystery and I think it’s about time you told us what’s going on before dragging us - and a child! - into your ominous plans.”

“That water dweller doesn’t need to come with us,” said Waveform.

“But he wants to,” said Web. “And the last I heard, Trojan was designing him a pair of legs! He’s much too young to have mechanical enhancements!”

She watched with despair as Waveform dragged the skip on its creaking wheels towards their home’s rickety gate.

“Oh, where are you taking all that?” she asked with exasperation.

“What? You think I’m leaving this on the street?” he scoffed.

She opened her mouth to speak, but instead she shook her head and sighed. Leaving it on the street would certainly solve her problems. Or delay them. But it would certainly be a waste of three and a half thousand credits.

“Fine,” she said. “Lock it in the back garden. Maybe it will rain and finish off rusting it all away.”

The decidueye snorted and turned his back on her, dragging the skip behind him effortlessly.

“Do you really think we can trust her?” she asked.

He paused by the gate and fixed his vermilion eyes on hers. “You’re the one who let her into our home.”

“It was pity,” she said. “Besides… I can’t decide if she’s unwell or if all humans are a bit loopy.”

“Oh, she’s unwell.”

He turned away from her again and pushed the gate open, dragging the rattling skip behind him.

“How do you know that?” she asked. “You’ve never met a human before. None of us have.”

He said nothing. Her only answer came in the slam of the gate, splintering around its already worn hinges.

She shook her head again and dragged herself into the house. Between Annie and Waveform, her sanity was being plucked limb from screaming limb. A good hot cocoa was what she needed right now.

And a lie down.

...​

Defrag sighed at her computer as she brought up yet another article on a potential ‘monster’ sighting. There were certainly a lot of them, most of them concentrated at the northern end of System Sky. Yet not one of them matched the description Tracer had shown her of the human. Either winged, looking every bit like an archeops; or gangly and ape-like with very little fur.

These sightings, however, looked nothing like either. Neither winged nor gangly. Each sighting described a creature that resembled a tentacruel or tentacool, or even frillish in some descriptions. Part of her deeply wondered if Tracer had been wrong. Maybe the human had more than one pokemon form, and the second was aquatic, and not an extinct pokemon at all.

Or maybe it was. An extinct pokemon they knew nothing or very little about. Jellyfish pokemon didn’t have skeletons. They didn’t fossilize. There was every possibility that a prehistoric pokemon could have been terrorizing the northern most point of System Sky, then vanishing back into the darkness.

But there was no ocean in System Sky. So this monster’s presence made no sense. Were there flying jellyfish?

She pursed her lips together as she skimmed over the article, all of it information she had already read elsewhere. Attacks on the northern cities. Three pokemon dead from toxic stab wounds. Her eyes trailed down to the related news headlines below.

Jellyfish attacks Favicon City. Is this the water dwellers’ revenge?

She mouthed the words as she selected the headline. Once again, it was all news she’d read before. Favicon City was one of two that had been attacked, and sported two casualties. But this time, something else accompanied the article.

A photograph.

The blurred picture looked every bit like a jellyfish, but she wouldn’t have said it looked like any pokemon she was aware of. It had twelve tentacles of varying length on either side of its body, in perfect symmetry. Two at the sides and two at its ‘rear’ were longer than the others. Almost gangly… was this actually the human?

She stared at it, trying to work out whether or not it fit the description - and somewhat crude drawing - that Tracer had left her with. (Due to confidential reasons, he hadn’t wanted to leave a screen shot of the CCTV footage.) It didn’t remotely fit. It didn’t even match her mental image of it. Yet there was something oddly human-like about it.

She ran a paw over one of her long ears as she stared transfixed at the odd jellyfish. No. It wasn’t the human. This was something else. Something more threatening than a creature from another world assaulting the mayor.

Whatever it was, it was attacking System Sky.
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Legitimate question: in British politics, does a Mayor outrank a Governor? Because over where I am, it's the exact opposite. So, that makes that tidbit a little bit confusing. @.@

And, naturally, Macro doesn't gel with authority figures at all. I was tempted to think that, when Jumper gave him a free pass, he was just going to get the heck out of dodge and grab the disc. But, naturally, that same sense of stubborn self-righteousness that makes him act against Socket is having him do the same thing right here. Odds are he'll probably be able to beat this so-called Cyan City army because, well, he's the "hero" in this story.

And hey, Socket has some decency. Letting her assistant rest up and– oh, wait, she's more just mad he was working too much on a personal project of sorts. And that worm certainly sounds like it's going to get activated at some point in the near future. The parts with Annie I continue to be really unsure about. Mainly because not much has happened other than the Pokémon helping her talking about their uncertainty with trusting her. The ending part, on the other hand, was very well-timed. I was finding myself thinking 'so, what about that Nihilego that popped up?' And, well, here it is starting to go on a rampage. So, yay, I have a strong feeling that's going to be colliding with everything else that's going on. XP
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
I said it was coming! Here it is. System:Reboot's completely NOT canon Christmas Episode.

It's just for fun, really. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you guys enjoy reading it!

...

A Christmas Root Vegetable

It was the night before Christmas, and all through the ship, not a pokemon was stirring, not even a hoppip.

“Wait.” Matrix blinked and looked up from his computer. “We don’t even have a hoppip on board.”

He deleted everything he’d written and resigned himself to start again. It didn’t help that he didn’t even know what a ‘Christmas’ was, he was merely going off everything Switch had told them.

The human huddled in a corner and blinked at Macro and his crew. “So you don’t celebrate Christmas in System anymore?”

“You mean we did?” The surprised note in Macro’s voice didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Switch nodded slowly, not taking his golden eyes off the mawile. “For years. You were still celebrating it before I got sucked out of my own time line, at least. Did it really just die out like that?”

DL scratched behind her ear and made a thoughtful noise. “There’s no records of it in my database, either.”

Switch let his head fall into his hands and groaned. “Then I guess I’ve got a lot to teach you.”


Matrix sat back in his seat and stared at the open text document, still completely blank. Why on earth he’d decided to re-write the poem Switch had told them he’d no idea. He wasn’t exactly the best poet. Instead, he leant forwards and decided to take things in a different direction.

“This should be fun,” he muttered.

…​

It was early.

Macro didn’t do early.

He dragged himself from his room, rubbing sleep from his violet eyes.

Too early.

He warred with the urge to go back to bed, but a sweet smell drifted down the corridor, drowning the idea in sugar and syrup. Lured by the delicious scent, he trudged towards the kitchen, adjusting his goggles as he went. His mind fixated on what sweet delights Cookie had whipped together to wake him up and prepare him for the day. They still had more disks to find for DL, and there was still the ordeal of a human on his ship. A human mourning the absence of Christmas in System. A human who had made Macro very late to bed because he’d been struggling to string up items he’d substituted for Christmas decorations.

One such intrusive obstacle smacked him over the head as he passed under it. A dangly branch of green leaves and maranga berries. Overripe maranga berries, since it was all Cookie was willing to spare. One of them struck Macro over the goggles and split, coating him with thick, sticky, sweet juice. White blobs dripped down his muzzle and slimed their way over his scarf and fur, leaving gloopy trails in their wake.

He cursed under his breath and beat them off to the floor, but they merely squished under his paw and congealed between his pads and claws. He cringed and resigned himself to licking them off, grimacing at the taste.
Certainly overripe. They left a sour aftertaste.

He took a step forward, placing his right foot right into the gloopy mess and it shot right out from under him. He slid like a rocket down the corridor, flailing his arms behind him. Cookie rounded the corner, clutching a paper bag in both paws. The slurpuff’s eyes widened and he span, shifting the heavy bag to one paw and raising the other in a desperate bid to stop the sliding pirate. Cookie’s mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Or if they did, they were lost on Macro.

The two collided, rolling tail over head over tail over paper bag into the opposite wall. The bag exploded, throwing brown, grainy vegetables into the air. They rained down on them, long green sprouts protruding from their bodies. Macro opened his eyes wide. He had no time to raise his paws to defend himself. One of the vegetables struck him right between the eyes, dazzling him and making everything go black.

The last thing he thought as he crumpled to the floor was, ‘What a morning.

...​

When Macro opened his eyes, he was back in his bed. Memories came back to him like a jigsaw. One that started from the middle as the impatient individual assembling it scrambled to fill it out before first finding all the edge pieces.

A brown bag. Vegetables. Cookie. Slimy maranga fruit.

Christmas.

He groaned and placed a paw over his face. Maybe he’d dreamt it.

Splurp

Nope.

He lifted his paw and discarded the squashed maranga innards across his room.

“Ew! What…”

The feminine voice took Macro quite by surprise and he sat bolt upright, tugging the duvet up to his chest. He looked around to see DL sat in a chair beside his bed, peeling the discarded maranga slime off her cheek.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I didn’t realise I was in your way.”

“What are you doing in my room?” he squeaked. “Girls aren’t allowed in my room.”

“I know,” she said. “You keep saying.”

“Then why are you in my room?”

DL smiled and leant back in her seat. “I’m on a valiant quest.”

Macro blinked a few times. That wasn’t something he ever expected her to say. Maybe she was malfunctioning?

“Pardon?” he said.

“A valiant quest,” she said. “I’ve been sent by the masters of Time and Space.”

Then she held something up in both paws. Something brown sprouting long green shoots. Something that Cookie had quite blatantly told Macro the day before had been forming a jungle in his vegetable cupboard.

“DL,” Macro said slowly. “Is there a reason you’re holding an onion?”

“It’s not just any onion,” she said. “It is a Time Onion.”

“Okay.” Macro tugged the duvet back up to his chest and lay back down slowly. “Clearly I have a concussion. Please leave and check on me again in an hour. Make sure I’ve not choked on my tongue or something.”

“No, I cannot allow that,” said DL. “We have to go now.”

“What?” He twisted his head around to fix his violet eyes on hers. “Go where?”

“The past.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“This onion wants me to take you back to the past,” she said.

“Why on earth does a freaking onion want you to send me back to the past?!”

“Because it’s not just an ordinary onion,” she said, matter-of-factly. “It’s the Root of Christmas Past.”

That was it. He’d had enough. He rolled over, turning his back on her, and screwed his eyes shut, willing himself to sleep. Or to wake up. Whichever one came first.

The duvet was ripped from him and a loud scream exploded from his throat. He raised both paws to his chest and stared up at DL’s oddly emotionless face. Then his eyes went to the onion, sitting in one of her paws. The other paw was still clutching his sheet.

“Get up,” she said. “We’re leaving.”

Yep, that cinched it. She’d gone mad. He swallowed drily and pushed himself up, nodding slowly. He could fight off a hoard of fighting pokemon, single-handedly defeat the most feared space pirate in all of system, throw himself off a building to escape capture. But facing a woman afflicted with onion insanity? No thank you.

A smile curled her lips and she stood back from him, retreating to the centre of the room. She held out a paw to him.

“Take my paw,” she said.

He took it.

“Now touch the Root of Christmas Past.”

He looked around the room and tentatively lifted his paw to the old onion, which he was sure was beginning to rot.

“If I find out there are any cameras in here,” he muttered, “I’m gonna find out who set up this prank and shove this onion where the sun don’t shine.”
His paw fell on the onion, its skin crumbling beneath his pads. Then the room warped and wobbled, almost throwing him off his feet. If it weren’t for the sudden distortion, he’d think they’d just plowed straight through a trash belt.

“What on earth?!” he roared.

“Give it a minute,” said DL. “It’s a pretty old onion. I think it’s out of practice.”

The ship vanished from around them, and cold ground appeared beneath his feet. Cold and wet. And… was that grass?

No. There was no grass on System Ground, it was all fake.

The world solidified and he stood in the centre of a city with DL, his paw still resting on the old vegetable.

“Where are we?” he asked, then snatched his paw back to his side. He wiped it subtly on his scarf, then regretted it. His scarf now smelled of overripe maranga and ancient onion.

“This is Seed City,” said DL. “I think the Root of Christmas Past wants to show you something.”

“What could an old onion possibly wish to show me?” he asked, sarcastically.

“I don’t know.” DL turned her head to look at him. “Maybe you need to learn something?”

“From an onion?” Macro blinked once. “Okay…”

DL moved away from him through the city and he followed after her, folding his arms over his scarf. This had to be a dream. Onions didn’t time travel. Although he’d been fairly certain humans didn’t exist, let alone time travel, right before they’d picked up Switch so… what did he know?

A long shadow fell over him and he looked up into the bored face of a florges. The large fairy pokemon hadn’t seemed to notice him and almost stood right on top of him. He leapt to the side, his face contorting with fury.

“Do you mind? Watch where you’re feakin’ goin’!” he barked.
The florges didn’t even look his way.

He muttered under his breath and turned to follow DL, but a young snubbull on a skateboard rocketed towards him. The wheels rattled over the uneven road and Macro had to duck and dive to avoid being mowed down.

Macro turned his head to watch the small fairy pokemon perform a kickflip, retract the wheels under the skateboard, and take off into the air as they span over a low building.

“They can’t see you.”

Macro yelped and looked up at DL.

“This is just an image of the past,” she explained. “Come on. It’s this way.”
Macro followed her closely through the busy streets. Fairy type pokemon moved back and forth, carrying overladen shopping bags. Fresh snow fell slowly and dusted the ground where it was trampled into oblivion, but on the faux grass it quickly formed thick layers.

“I only recall it snowing in System once,” said Macro. “Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

“Then don’t eat it,” said DL.

“I wasn’t talking about eating it,” he snapped. “I meant the memory.”

“Oh.” DL shrugged. “I can’t suggest an alternative to that.”

Macro muttered something profane and tucked his paws under his scarf. Snowflakes formed around his shoulders and soaked through any exposed fur, biting him with cold. If the pokemon around them couldn’t see them, then why was the snow still freezing him? And why did it make him feel… wretched?

DL stopped beside a detached house and peered through the window. Frost peppered it with its fancy webs and snow piled up on the windowsill.

“I think this is the place,” she said.

Macro leant over her shoulder and looked inside. Sat by the fake fireplace was a pair of mawile. The older one’s fur was turning grey around her ears, and she fussed over her child. But he was too preoccupied with drawing something with a set of combee wax crayons. Closer inspection revealed it to be a sky ship.

“That’s my mother.” He nodded towards the older mawile, eyes fixed on the brown stripes across her back. “I remember this day. She was asking me to go out and gather something for dinner. She’d been wanting sitrus berries, but I didn’t want to go.”

“Why not?” DL asked.

Macro shrugged. “I dunno. I just wanted to play. I was drawing air ships, fantasizing about being a space pirate. I was pretty obsessed as a kid. I wanted to get off System Ground, take my mother with me. She was always tired, and I got fed up with it. She always wanted me to do things, and I was only eight.” He paused and took a deep breath as he watched the older mawile leave the room. “She’s going to bed now. Poor little guy has no idea that when he goes upstairs later to ask about dinner, he can’t even wake her.”

DL’s face fell and she looked down at the aged vegetable. “I don’t know why this Time Onion wants to show you that.”

Macro turned his back on the window and shrugged again. “I dunno. Maybe ‘cos it’s the day I became a space pirate?”

“Really?” DL sounded a little surprised. “You became a space pirate on Christmas Day?”

“I guess, yeh. I was a rather lousy son.” Macro sighed and shook his head, looking back at the small mawile still scribbling away. “Wouldn’t even go to the shop for my sick mother.”

The little child melted away as the ground wobbled and warped once more, and Macro and DL found themselves standing in the sands of Raster Town.
Macro wasn’t expecting the sudden change in temperature. Heat rushed over him and he tore his scarf free before dizziness consumed him.

“At least give me some warning!” he snapped at the pachirisu.

She pointed to the onion in her paw then shrugged.

A group of pokemon trudged out of Raster Town. A throh, servine, buneary, and a mini Macro almost drowned in a black scarf. The throh was carrying a large leather bag and grinning widely.

“Well, you certainly proved yourself.” He smiled down at the young Macro. “Guess you passed your initiation. Here.” The fighting type reached into the bag and tossed a pair of goggles to Macro. “Now you look the part.”

“Initiation? What went on in there?” DL asked.

Macro cleared his throat and looked away from her. “We had to beat on some guys. Looted one of the few shops that still provided weapons in Raster Town.”

“So that’s where you got your goggles?” she asked. “From some heist?”

“Not quite. My old Captain already had them,” said Macro. “I’d wanted a pair, you see. So he gave me his old ones after we finished up in there. They’re a bit… sentimental, I guess.”

The ground vanished around them and Macro found himself back in his bedroom. His paws felt warm and he looked around to find himself clutching DL. He diverted his gaze and released her, taking a step back towards his bed.

“Listen, DL,” he said. “I dunno what just went on, but I’m pretty concussed and I wanna go back to bed.”

“Okay, go back to bed.” She turned towards the door and it slid open. “But be warned that the Root of Christmas Past isn’t the only onion set to visit you this evening.”

Macro’s eyes flew wide open and he span to face DL. “What?”

“Good night.”

“It isn’t night!” Macro barked.

DL nodded and the door slid shut behind her.

...​

Macro lay dozing in his bed, his back propped against the wall with a pillow. His laser lay beside him, loosely clasped in his paw.

“Oi, Macro.”

His eyes snapped open and a squeak left his throat. Staring down at him was the large face of Switch, his golden eyes reflecting the dim light.

“You know you shouldn’t sleep with a concussion?” the human asked.

Macro sat up and groaned as pounding radiated through his skull. How much damage had that falling onion done? His claws touched a soft spot between his eyes and he flinched back from it. Great, there was a bump.

“What time is it?” he asked Switch.

“Midnight,” replied the human.

Macro looked up at him with a start. “How long have I been out?”

Switch shrugged. “Cookie said he saw you this morning, so I’d guess all day.”
Macro shook his head and kicked his sheets away. “I had the weirdest dream.”

“Oh?”

“Yeh. DL came in here and she was all weird, going on about time traveling onions. Then she took me back in time and showed me my mother, and the day I became a space pirate. Like… what was all that about?”

He looked around at Switch, expecting a reply, but instead Macro’s heart sank like a lead brick. Switch stood beside his bed with one hand on his hip, and in the other was a flippin’ onion.

“No… no, please, no,” said Macro. “Don’t you dare tell me that’s a time traveling onion!”

“What, this?” Switch looked down at it, then back up at Macro. “No, this isn’t a time traveling onion.”

Macro let out a long sigh and closed his eyes. “Thank goodness.”

“This is the Root of Christmas Present.”

Macro’s eyes snapped back open and flew towards the human. Switch stared back at him then nodded to the door.


“Come on. It wants to show you something.”

Macro shook his head and kicked his legs over the edge of the bed. "Whatever. I’m losing all hope in my sanity anyway.”

Macro strolled after him into the corridor, which was oddly dark. For a brief moment, Macro thought he might have been dreaming, but seeing Switch march into the shadows, still clutching the onion, swept that thought right back under the rug. With a sigh, he followed after the human. He paused as something swung before his face, and he ducked, chuckling at his victory over the sneaky maranga berries.

A faint light trickled out of the cockpit. Anchor sat in his usual seat, steering Wildcard Gamma through a pitch black System Sky. Not a city in sight. Matrix snored from the navigation deck, oblivious to the small red dot that was trailing after them like a mareep after its mother.

A soft yawn came from behind Macro and he leapt slightly, stepping aside as he saw DL walking towards them. He didn’t move fast enough and expected her to crash into him, but she slipped right through him like smoke.

“Can’t sleep?” Anchor asked.

“No.” She fell into Macro’s seat, shuffling as far into the arm as she could. “I rarely sleep well, to be honest.”

Anchor raised an eyebrow. “I find that surprising. You’re always so perky.”

The pachirisu shrugged and leant back into the seat. “I think it has something to do with these memories. If I do sleep, I rarely dream.”

“Well. If I were you, I’d head back to bed.” Anchor turned back to the controls. “Nothin’ to see here. Just blackness. If I knew any better, I’d say we were lost.”

“You could always wake Matrix and ask?” DL looked back at the sleeping ribombee.

“I ain’t wakin’ him. I don’t wanna get bit.”

“What about Macro?” she asked.

“Again. I don’t wanna get bit.” Anchor looked over at her and chuckled dryly. “Besides. You really think he cares where we end up? Guy’s about as fun lovin’ as a kakuna.”

“I disagree.” Matrix looked up groggily. “I’ve met some pretty fun kakuna.” He slumped back onto the deck and recommenced snoring.

“Hnh.” Anchor shrugged and returned to steering the ship. “Less fun lovin' than a kakuna then. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the reason you couldn’t sleep, DL. After what he said earlier, the ship’s been feelin’ pretty dank.”

DL shuddered and hugged herself, sinking further into the seat. “Maybe. It has been hovering over me.”

“Think it’s hoverin’ over all of us,” said Anchor. “Poor Switch went to bed in tears.”

Macro jolted and looked up at the human, but his face was blank and emotionless.

“He just doesn’t want anything to do with Christmas,” said DL. “I thought it sounded like fun, and I really enjoyed stringing up the decorations before he exploded like that.”

“He didn’t have to go out like that, though,” said Anchor. “But to be honest, I’m not surprised. He’s a right bitter one. Always has been. Dunno why I bother stickin’ around sometimes.”

“I thought you were friends?” DL asked.

Anchor shrugged again. “Thought we were. But he’s shown his true colours.”
A flood of nausea drifted through Macro and he staggered back. It was made all the worse as the room wobbled and warped, and he found himself back in his room, still staggering backwards. He landed softly on his bed, where he stared at the far wall. He looked up at Switch and the human stared down at him and smiled.

“Pretty insightful, huh?” he asked.

“What on earth was that?” Macro spat.

“That was Christmas,” Switch explained. “Or what has become Christmas after your little fandango.”

“I’ve never heard Anchor talk like that.”

“Of course. He’s not exactly gonna say all that to your face, is he?” Switch shrugged. “I guess everyone’s pretty fed up with you right now.”

Macro frowned and flashed his canines. “What trick are you tryin’ to pull?”

“I dunno.” Switch scratched behind his ear and looked over at the wall. “I’m not pulling a trick. Ordinarily I would have liked to show you Christmas festivities, but that would involve traversing time and space to get back to my world. And this is a Time Onion, not a Dimensional Garlic.”

Macro’s jaw dropped. If it weren’t for DL walking right through him, he’d think this was all some elaborate prank. So he was sticking with ‘bad dream’. He desperately wished for Switch and that wretched onion to vanish.

Switch winked at him and turned towards the door. “Someone else will be with you shortly. Maybe they will give you some better insight into the Christmas spirit?”

Macro watched the human vanish right through the door. Without opening it.
He rubbed a paw over his forehead and leant back against his pillow. He felt wretched. Sick. Dizzy. And all he could smell was maranga fruit.

...​

Someone cleared their throat all too loudly. Rude.

Macro snapped his eye open and looked over his shoulder. Someone stood in his room, yawning widely. They looked very similar to Switch, but female. Long black hair trailed over their shoulders, almost blending with their black waistcoat. A white shirt stood out from the dark fabric, finished with loose trousers hanging over a pair of heavy, black boots. She fixed her green eyes on Macro’s violet ones and shrugged one shoulder.

“You gettin’ up then? I ain’t got all night, yanno.”

Macro sat up and his nose twitched. Why did she smell like a skuntank?

“Who are you?” he asked. “And how did you get onto my ship?”

“Name’s Annie,” she said. “And this brought me here.”

She flicked her left hand and launched an onion into the air. She caught it in her right one, then juggled the sprouting vegetable back and forth.

Macro let out a groan and his head fell into his paws. “Why? What do you want with me?!”

“I don’t want anything to do with you,” said Annie. “Nor do I want anything from you, either. In fact, I don’t even have a clue where I am. I feel like this isn’t my plot, you see. That I’ve been dragged in here for nothing more than…” She trailed off and looked over at his wall. “Dark blue? Seriously? Why couldn’t you paint your room a brighter colour? Dark colours in a bedroom aren’t great for your mental health, I have you know. And neither’s white. I’m sick of seeing it.” She steadied the onion in one hand then pointed at the door. “You coming?”

“You haven’t told me why you’re here.” He fixed her in a leer.

Annie blinked, then held up the onion. “This is the Root of Christmas Yet to Come.”

Macro rolled his eyes and groaned. “Seriously?”

“Maybe. Guess we’ll see. Now get a wiggle on.” She marched out of the door, pausing only to open it first.

Macro shrugged and slid from his bed. “Go on. What have I got to lose?”

“I already did the thing,” she said. “I had no patience, so I wobbled time before you woke up.”

“Eh?”

Annie led him out into the corridor, and immediately the sounds of singing reached his ears. Macro froze and looked up and down the corridor. Something was off, and it wasn’t just the singing.

The walls were decked out with sparky tinsel and delicate rows of maranga berries. Spiky leaves protruded out from the tinsel at even intervals, and smelled unlike the leaves Macro was familiar with. They smelled real, for one thing.

He hugged his scarf about himself, still sticky from his collision with the overripe fruit, and followed Annie into the cockpit. Something brushed against his horn and he let out a shrill shriek and looked up sharply. The singing continued jovially, but above him swung a garland of paper rings that had managed to come unstuck from the ceiling at one end.

Annie looked down at him and shook her head. “Needs more glue.”

Macro whisked his paw over his head and desperately tried to regain his composure. But he had to resign himself to the fact that that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. His eyes wandered around his cockpit, which didn’t look anything like the cockpit he knew and loved. It looked like a tinsel factory had exploded, and thrown a few sparkly balls into the mix. Anchor sat at the ship’s controls, feet on the dashboard, draped in fluffy garments and tinsel. Switch squatted at his side, nodding along and whistling through his beak to the music. Matrix buzzed about trying to stick decorations to the ceiling, and he made his way over to Macro and grabbed the loose end of the paper garland, lifting it well above the mawile’s head.

DL sat in Macro’s seat, leaving no room for him. She either didn’t expect him to join them or didn’t rightly care. She was one of the sources of the singing. Cookie was the other, busying himself around a small table that had been dragged in from goodness knows where, and laden with so many cakes and sweets it was surprising it hadn’t buckled beneath the weight. The brown slurpuff joined in with the singing, and every so often Anchor leapt in with a deep repetition of whatever the two had sang.

Music blared from the navigation deck, and Macro’s eye wandered over to it. No navigation system was loaded. Just a video streaming site playing through some jolly musical play list.

“What on earth’s going on?” Macro finally ventured to ask.

Annie shrugged with one hand and scratched her chin with the onion’s stalk. “It’s a Christmas party.”

“But we don’t hold Christmas parties,” said Macro.

“Well, you apparently do in the Christmas Yet to Come.”

Macro glared up at her. “You sassin’ me?”

“Oi.” Annie put a hand - and the onion - on her hip and pointed a delicate finger at him. “Watch how you talk to me. I’m a lot bigger than you.”

As though to contradict her point, her form shrank right down and feathered out. If Switch hadn’t performed a similar maneuver, Macro would have been more surprised. But since he wasn’t expecting it, a squeak still left his throat and he took a step back.

But he was still looking up at her. She just had a lot of sharp teeth this time, fixed in a reptilian mouth.

“You’re just like Switch!” he gasped. “But… why an archeops?”

Annie looked down at herself as if for the first time and let out a ‘huh’. “Guess I forgot to take my pills.”

She turned back to the crew of Wildcard Gamma and tossed the onion absently up and down in her wing claws.

“Why do you think the Time Onion wants to show you this?” she asked. Then she muttered, “Can’t get me back to my own time-line though, can it?”
Macro sighed and leant back against the wall. He folded his arms over his scarf and watched the odd events unfold.

The music stopped and Matrix buzzed back over to it to set it back off again. Switch cheered and raised a glass in his talons.

“Here’s to our third Christmas,” said Anchor, raising his own glass. “They just get better every year.”

“Here, here.” Switch tipped his glass back and downed the lot.

“Easy!” Anchor gasped. “It ain’t juice.”

“Oh.” Switch wiped his beak with his wing and flushed a little. “I thought it was.”

Cookie chuckled and waddled over to them, carrying a tray. “I can get you some juice if you like. Would you like a fruit pie?”

“Ooh!” DL leant across the arm of her seat and reached for one. “Which ones are cherri?”

“Oh! Sorry, Captain.” Cookie turned to her and his smile melted away.

“Captain?” Macro kicked himself back from the wall. His heart was racing. What was going on?

“I only made mixed fruit,” Cookie explained. “I was trying something new, you see-”

DL waved him off with a paw. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” Her lips curled into a warm smile. “Which one do you recommend?”

Cookie relaxed and his smile returned to his face. His tongue poked out between his lips and he practically bounced with joy.

“Oran and mago!” He plucked one from the tray and handed it to her. “I even spiced it with occa berries.”

“Thank you, Cookie.” DL held it gently and took a huge bite. Her face lit up and her tail drooped over the arm of her chair. “It’s amazing!”

Cookie let out a deep sigh and swiped his paw over his brow. “I tell you now, two years ago I would have been skinned alive if I forgot to make Macro’s favourite pies.”

“Don’t need to worry about that anymore,” said Anchor. “DL’s much less of a tyrant.”

DL sank in her seat and lowered her pie to her lap. “I still feel responsible, though.”

“Don’t.” Anchor waved a paw. “Was his own stinkin’ fault. He didn’t have to march off like that.”

“Yeah.” Matrix caught the garland as it fell once more from the ceiling. “He practically walked straight into Socket’s waiting paws.”

“Put it this way,” said Anchor. “If he’d just celebrated with us rather than being… how did you word it again, Switch?”

Switch lowered his drink and looked back at him. “A Scrooge.”

“Yeah, if he hadn’t been such a Scrooge, it would’ve been a lot easier.” Anchor spread his paws. “No one would’ve got hurt, we’d all still be friends, and Macro would still be alive.”

Macro hugged himself tightly and fell back against the wall. The room warped and turned to butter, and he fell back through the wall and heavily onto his bed. The wind was knocked out of his lungs and he sat up, gasping.

Annie stood in the middle of his room, tossing the onion back and forth between her hands.

“Harsh stuff,” she said. “Kinda gives me chills. Wouldn’t wanna be you right now.”

Macro choked back a sob and looked away from her. “I don’t wanna be me right now.”

“Well, I guess you’ve got something to think about.” A look of confusion spread across her face and she looked over his shoulder at the wall. “I wish I knew what it was.”

She vanished as though someone had switched her off, leaving Macro feeling cold and alone. His eyes felt heavy, and he slumped onto his bed with a deep groan.

His head was pounding, and with each pulse he felt like he was going to be sick.

...​

“Is he okay?”

The voice sounded like Anchor’s.

“I dunno,” came Cookie’s worried tones. “I was just walking and-”

Macro’s eyes fluttered open, revealing the concerned faces of Anchor, DL and Cookie. The slurpuff let out a sigh and a smile split his face.

“Thank goodness!” he cried.

“What?” Macro rubbed his head, feeling the bump between his eyes, and pushed himself up. “I’m not in my bed?”

Something rolled off him, hitting the floor in a series of thumps. He lowered his paw and looked down. Overgrown onions rolled away from him, their long sprouts slapping the bare floor.

Macro leapt up with a yell and threw himself between Anchor and DL, staggering down the corridor.

“Get them away from me!” he cried.

“Cap’n!” Anchor stood and turned to face him. “What on earth’s the matter with you?”

Macro looked from the onions to Anchor and back. “What day is it?”

The granbull scratched his cheek and raised an eyebrow. “December twenty fourth.”

Macro’s arms flopped to his sides and his jaw went slack.

“Is there a problem, Cap’n?” Anchor stood up and raised a paw. “Have you got a concussion.”

Macro snapped his mouth shut and shook his head. “No. Just a headache. I’m fine. Oi, Switch!”

Switch’s talonflame head popped around the cockpit door. “Yes?”

“You said you humans dress up trees at Christmas, right? Well, there ain’t no trees in System.”

“You can’t buy a fake one?” Switch asked.

“Nope,” said Macro. “Any other suggestions?”

Switch looked up at the ceiling in thought.

Matrix’s small head appeared above him. “How about a standing lamp?”

Macro snapped his claws. “Perfect! We’ll buy one!” He turned and rushed towards his bedroom. “Matrix, get making some paper garlands. Oh!” He paused and span on the spot. “And Cookie, you and DL get making the best cake ever! We’re gonna blow the roof off this ship!”

“I hope you don’t mean literally!” Cookie called after him. After Macro had vanished into his room, Cookie beamed. “Well, I’m not going to say no to making a cake.”

The rest of Wildcard Gamma exchanged worried glances.

“Do you think Macro’s sick?” DL asked.

Anchor grunted and glanced after the mawile. “I hope not. ‘Cos I kinda like him like this. Yet at the same time…”

“It’s creepy,” said Matrix.

Anchor chuckled and tucked his paws behind his back. “At least he seems more eager than he did last night.”

“Yeh.” DL stooped to gather up the onions. “I guess he’s had some Christmas joy knocked into him.”

~End~

…​

Matrix sat back and folded his paws behind his head as he read over his text document. All finished and ready to be released to the world.

Hopefully Switch wouldn’t mind that he’d completely butchered one of his Christmas stories.

The ribombee yawned and fluttered into the air. It had been a long night, but hopefully it would be worth it. Part of him couldn’t wait to see Switch’s - and Macro’s - faces when he read it to them. But first, he needed a good night’s sleep. Then he’d be fresh enough to recite his festive masterpiece to the rest of the crew in the morning.

As ridiculous as the story was, he hoped it would bring some joy.

...

A/N - Did it? I hope so.

Well, now I've most likely effectively ruined A Christmas Carol for you all, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled story from Friday! I'll reply to feedback from this AND the previous chapter then, also.

Merry Christmas, everyone! =D
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
It was the night before Christmas, and all through the ship, not a pokemon was stirring, not even a hoppip.
That's one heck of a way to start off a Christmas special! XD

Also, I'm amazed (but not surprised) that Switch was able to mope his way into getting Macro to let him hang Christmas decorations. I know this isn't canon, but Macro's clearly willing to act OOC if it gets Switch to shut up.

White blobs dripped down his muzzle and slimed their way over his scarf and fur
Macro's ruined scarf count: 7!

“What are you doing in my room?” he squeaked. “Girls aren’t allowed in my room.”
Apparently the blow to the head de-aged Macro. Yeah, you fend off those cooties! You're steel-type, so I doubt they'd effect you. But, still...

“DL,” Macro said slowly. “Is there a reason you’re holding an onion?”

“It’s not just any onion,” she said. “It is a Time Onion.”
I've got a bad feeling about this...

“Because it’s not just an ordinary onion,” she said, matter-of-factly. “It’s the Root of Christmas Past.”
... my bad feeling now has a bad feeling about this.

“I guess, yeh. I was a rather lousy son.” Macro sighed and shook his head, looking back at the small mawile still scribbling away. “Wouldn’t even go to the shop for my sick mother.”
Yup, this is getting me in the feels. Abort! Abort! Abort! *hits big red button repeatedly*

“No… no, please, no,” said Macro. “Don’t you dare tell me that’s a time traveling onion!”

“What, this?” Switch looked down at it, then back up at Macro. “No, this isn’t a time traveling onion.”

Macro let out a long sigh and closed his eyes. “Thank goodness.”

“This is the Root of Christmas Present.”
Macro, you fool! You walked yourselv right into that one. And you're supposed to be a smart space pirate. e.e

“I disagree.” Matrix looked up groggily. “I’ve met some pretty fun kakuna.”
Yeah, I hear those kakuna can really... party hard. sorrynotsorry

Oh, so Macro did protest Christmas and sent Switch to bed in tears. Wow, impressive. Also, reminiscent of their actual canon spat when switch was lamenting the state of the current System and Macro was telling him not to waste his strength.

So, usually the Ghost of Christmas Future is supposed to be right scary. Annie is, like, the exact opposite of that. But, hey, she finally found her Time Onion. Guess the story's over, huh? No, you do manage to go through the stereotypical "death awaits you" scenario that is Christmas Future. But the fact that you overlay with this cheerful disposition of the Macro-less crew enjoying Christmas makes it black comedy instead of just straight up nightmare fuel.

But I quite enjoyed the little parody for what it was. Merry Christmas to you, as well. ^_^
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Legitimate question: in British politics, does a Mayor outrank a Governor? Because over where I am, it's the exact opposite. So, that makes that tidbit a little bit confusing. @.@
I don't know much about politics... but Jumper's rule is only over Cyan City. Not System. So either way, it wouldn't really affect Socket. She also has the final say in the way Cyan City is run.

So, usually the Ghost of Christmas Future is supposed to be right scary. Annie is, like, the exact opposite of that.
I dunno... I think I'd be pretty scared of Annie XD

Glad you enjoyed the Christmas Special, too =D

Chapter Thirty One​

The sun was well into setting as Macro and Anchor skulked by the orchard. Macro had resorted to hiding himself inside a razz berry bush, and much to his irritation the tiny thorns kept catching in his fur and the leaves clung to his sticky scarf.

“Can you hear anything?” he asked.

Anchor grunted. “Yeh. You.”

Macro tutted and turned his violet eyes back onto the iron gate. There was no sign of grass pokemon beyond it. They’d long since retired to their tents, hidden out of sight. Or maybe they’d left Cyan City. If they’d left… then that meant they’d took the children with them.

The mawile pushed himself out of the bush and plucked thorns from his thick fur. He never took his eyes off the gate. Slowly he crept towards it, and the bush behind him rustled as Anchor climbed out from it. Macro threw his back up against the wall and drew his laser. He didn’t know if he’d need it, but having it ready would save vital time. And lives.

He strained his ears, but not a whisper came from beyond the wall. Carefully, he edged closer to the gate. The branches were motionless, but in the rapidly dimming light he could see a lone caterpillar pokemon - a caterpie or a sewaddle going off the colour - dozing amongst the lush leaves of a sitrus tree. So they slept? It made sense, given DL’s need to sleep. But he hadn’t expected it. He’d expected a horde of ravenous, untiring, empty caterpillars munching their way through Cyan City’s food supply. He didn’t even know if they could evolve. If they could, the consequences could be disastrous.

He turned his eyes back onto the orchard, searching frantically for any sign of the grass army amongst the shrubs and trees.

Nothing.

“Can’t see a thing in this light,” he snorted.

“Yeh,” said Anchor quietly. “It would be a lot easier if I’d remembered my heat tracker.”

“You don’t have it?” Macro saw Anchor shake his head. The mawile rolled his eyes. “Moron.”

Something warm fell on his shoulder and his mouth flew open, releasing an involuntary scream. It echoed around the square and his eyes flew to his assailant.

Lossy stood stock still behind him, her black eyes impossibly wide. Her sleek fur bristled like a brush and she stared at him, her breath coming in quick bursts.

Anchor stood behind her, his eyes and ears trained on the orchard. Macro followed his gaze while trying to calm his racing heart.

Silence.

Where was the grass army?

“I’m sorry,” Lossy whispered. “I… wanted to know if you wanted… somewhere to sleep.”

Macro slapped his paw into his face and groaned. This dewott was going to be the death of him.

Sleep wasn’t a bad idea, but if the grass army was sleeping then now was a good time to sneak into their camp and rescue the twins.

He rounded on the dewott and flashed his canines.

“I don’t want sleep,” he hissed. “Now let me do my job.”

She snatched her paw back and clutched it to her chest. With a curt nod, she took a step away from him, and her eyes flitted to the orchard.

“And go home,” Macro added as he turned back to the gate. “I don’t want you slowing me down by getting yourself caught.”

“I can’t,” she said. “It feels so…”

She glanced over her shoulder at the apartment blocks and her eyes welled with tears.

Macro sighed and shook his head. “Fine. Then stay hidden somewhere. Sleep in a bush or something.”

He turned to the gate and reached into his pouch for his lock pick. Another scan of the orchard beyond confirmed there were no nearby grass types. His pick flew expertly into the lock and within seconds it flicked open with a loud snap. The gate creaked open on its hinges under his paws, creating an ear-splitting screech that made him freeze in his tracks.

The caterpillar pokemon nearby raised its head and looked around. Macro braced himself for the wretched thing to let off an alarm, but instead it moved towards the nearest sitrus berry like a magnet to metal.

He let out the breath he’d been holding and squirmed through the narrow gap the gate had left him. Then he shot into the nearest bush like a dart.

Silence.

The orchard was oddly silent, almost eerie. Nothing but a slight breeze could be heard, rustling through the branches of the trees and stirring the leaves. The rustling sounded like the flapping of hundreds of wings, and each gust sent a chill down Macro’s spine. He leapt as the gate creaked open to allow Anchor inside. The granbull’s pink body was visible through the bush’s branches, but he didn’t join Macro in the bush. Instead he skulked beside it, sniffing the air. Macro could tell by the way he was snuffling that he’d picked up on something.

He reached for his laser and his arm brushed across cool, damp leaves and they shifted beneath his touch. He froze and looked down at his right, his breath still in his throat. What he’d dismissed as wind became more apparent that it was the soft, deep breathing of a sleeping pokemon. Almost invisible amid the foliage, the sleeping ivysaur’s ribs rose and fell with each deep breath.

Macro didn’t know much about grass type pokemon. Some were definitely nocturnal, such as oddish. But most needed to photosynthesise as well as consume berries. With no sun to warm their leaves and, in the case of the ivysaur, blood, then it would be unlikely that they’d be awake. If he was correct, then that explained the leafy reptile’s hiding.

Macro took a deep, steadying breath and reversed out of the bush, not taking his eyes off the ivysaur. As his feet touched soft grass, he finally let out the breath and looked up at Anchor. The granbull raised an eyebrow at him then turned back to the orchard. Macro swallowed dryly and trotted around the bush to join his side, keeping a paw clasped over the butt of his laser.

“There’s an ivysaur in that bush,” he whispered.

Anchor looked down at him with a start, then over at the bush his captain had just scurried from. His nose twitched again as he sniffed the air, then he scratched it with a broad claw.

“It makes me wonder how many are left here,” Macro whispered as he looked up at the branches. “Because this orchard was teaming with grass types earlier on.”

His heart pounded. Any one of those bushes or shrubs could be attached to an unsuspecting and invisible pokemon. He was fortunate enough he only ran into an occupied berry bush. If he’d taken up refuge in a tangrowth’s vines, he’d be crushed half to death by now.

He tapped Anchor with the barrel of his gun. “Let’s find those twins.”

Soft grass rustled beneath their paws as they pressed their way through the orchard. Macro paused beside each bush, carefully analyzing it before pulling aside the branches. Every one he checked was nothing more than a razz or bluk berry bush, but most of them contained one or two sleeping pokemon. Mostly chikorita and bayleaf. One bush even contained a leafeon.

He paused beside a massive orchid to check it for any small, sneaky grass types and his breath caught in his throat as his eyes trailed up it. It was no flower. Closer inspection revealed it to be bug-like, but it was also no bug. Long, petal-like limbs folded neatly over equally petal-like legs. Yet he knew full well those ‘petal-like limbs’ were as deadly as a scyther’s scythes. The lurantis slept soundly, its antennae twitching at every sound. He desperately hoped it wouldn’t wake up. He had nothing in his arsenal to deal with grass pokemon, let alone something as volatile as a lurantis.

Anchor ushered him on with a paw on his back and Macro tore himself away from the dangerous grass pokemon. Every step felt like he was treading on egg shells. Three tiny cherubi sat huddled beneath a cheri tree. Clever. Very clever. Beside the cheri tree slept the torterra he’d seen earlier. In its branches lay a roselia, while a tropius slept beneath it. How had he missed all this from outside the orchard? Now he knew they were there, they were as clear as day.

Almost half way around the orchard, and he’d seen no sign of the oshawott twins. No sign of a tent. He bit back the urge to call out for them. That would be suicide, and would likely also result in the death of those kids.

The two pirates froze as something caught their eye. Movement to their left. Beside a tangled bush Macro guessed to be a tangela sat two squat pokemon. An oddish and a gloom. Both were deeply involved in a game of chess. Each piece was lit up green as they floated over the holoscreen of a pocket computer. Macro tutted under his breath. The night watch. It had been too easy to skulk about the orchard unseen. If those two were awake, then they were probably guarding something. The twins? He could hope so. But with the size of their army, he couldn’t exactly go in guns blazing.

He nodded to Anchor and trotted towards the shadows of a tree, carefully checking they were vacant first. A quick survey of the branches confirmed their safety and he pressed his back against it while keeping one eye on the oddish and gloom.

Anchor joined his side and folded his arms as he frowned at the two pokemon.

“Any ideas?” he asked Macro quietly. “’Cos we’ve dealt with large armies before, but nothing to this scale.”

Macro bit his lip. “I’ll be honest… I’m seriously rethinking my method.”

Anchor jerked his head to look down at him. “You are?”

“We can’t deal with this alone,” said Macro. “You’ve seen the size of them. They’re perfectly camouflaged.”

“They wake up, they’ll be sluggish,” said Anchor.

“Sluggish or not, one stun spore and we’re easy prey.”

“Then what do you suggest we do?”

Macro sighed and threw a paw in the air. “Message Matrix. See if he has any ideas. Failing that…”

He trailed off, watching the two pokemon playing chess. Surrounded on all sides by a grass army he felt helpless. He could only remember two occasions he’d felt helpless. One, he was puny kid surrounded by a squad of dragon type pirates, desperate to defend his friend. The other… he hated even thinking about it.

No… he wasn’t a helpless kid anymore. But those two oshawott were.

He took a step forward, reaching for his second gun. But before his paw reached it, something snaked its way around his wrist and up his arm. His eyes snapped to it, but the green tentacle wormed its way around his chest and tightened before it reached his throat. He turned to reach out to Anchor, but his paw faltered. The granbull was surrounded by green tentacles, leaving only his legs and eyes visible. The owner sat atop his head, its large green mouth spread in a grin peppered with long, green, bristle-like teeth.

A carnivine.

Macro’s violet eyes narrowed into a leer.

The fly trap pokemon pulled him in towards him, slamming his back hard into the tree. A low purr came from deep within his throat and he moved his maw closer to the two pirates.

“You two have a fine set of sharp teeth,” he said as he wrapped his vine around Macro’s muzzle. “Now tell me. Is it just me, or should all water type pokemon be treated as water dwellers? I mean… they’re the same, right? They need water to survive. Much more so than we do. And we’ve all gotta eat, so I say we just farm those berry-loving suckers.”

The carnivine’s words pushed bile up into Macro’s throat and it took everything in his power to not bite down hard on his slimy vine.

“You agree with me, right?” The carnivine’s voice was laced with venom. “Because why else would a pair of fairy type space pirates be skulking around a berry orchard in Cyan City? Certainly not intervening with Luma City’s plans, no, no, of course not. That would be… really… very… foolish.” With every final word, his vines tightened, crushing his prey.

The carnivine’s breath stunk of rotting meat. Macro feared he would be sick. He wriggled one of his paws to rotate his laser and pressed the trigger. Whatever laser was set didn’t matter. It would be enough to startle the carnivine so they could break free of its wretched, strangling grip.

A flash of green sent Macro’s heart plummeting. Grass. It was enough to sear the fly trap’s dangling vines. Enough for his grip to loosen and for Anchor to break free. But Macro was snatched back into the carnivine’s body to be entangled in a death grip. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of red as Anchor’s canines lit up, but it went unnoticed by the grass pokemon. However, the flames only flickered briefly. A reflex. Anchor knew full well if he hit the carnivine with a fire attack it would harm his ally.

“So you are here to meddle in our plans,” the carnivine hissed. “Well…” He paused to sniff Macro’s head and chuckled. “Let’s just say that little Hunter has become the hunted.”

Anchor smashed his gauntlets together in a shower of sparks. The sound drowned out anything he said before he raised his fist and brought it down onto the carnivine’s jaws. Acid leaked from his needle-like teeth and splattered over Macro’s fur, acting as a conductor to carry the sparks over his own body.

The mawile tugged the stunned vines free and staggered from his grip. His entire body tingled as electricity coursed through him and he struggled to catch his breath. Each one came in a raspy burst and he rubbed a paw over his scar to try and get some feeling back in his face.

Anchor lunged past him, snapping his canines down onto the carnivine in a torrent of flames. The orchard lit up red and orange for a brief second before the flames fizzled out.

The carnivine lay in a heap of sparking, smoldering vines, each one twitching like a sack full of rattata kits.

“I think…” Macro’s voice croaked and he cleared his throat. “I think I’m gonna stick with what I said earli-”

A cloud of dust engulfed him, choking off his sentence, and he collapsed to the floor. His eyes remained open long enough to see the oddish rush Anchor, only to be met with his sparking gauntlet and sent rolling through the sky like a shuttlecock.

...​

Wallpaper peeled off the wall, blackening in the intense heat. Hot flames licked at Macro’s fur and thick, black smoke curled up and filled his senses. His body shook as he choked, forcing himself to his feet. There wasn’t a drop of moisture in the small room. Even his mouth felt bone dry, and his eyes stung. But somewhere, there was sobbing. A child… trapped in the deadly flames.

The only door sat beyond the ring of fire, as black as the heavy smoke. His only option was the window. Somehow, the ring of flames hadn’t reached it. It was as if they were being held back by some invisible force.

He made a beeline for it, but before his paws touched the window sill, that sobbing intensified into a panicked screech.

Of course… the twins!

He snapped his head around to focus on it. Beyond the flames, he saw a movement. Someone sat huddled in the corner, small and pale. As they looked up, they fixed a pair of chocolate eyes on his.

No…

He pushed himself back from the window, searching the room for a way through. There was no way he was leaving her.

The antennae behind the pachirisu’s ear began to flash between blue and orange and her paw flopped onto the dry ground. One word flew from her mouth, sounding oddly warped.

“Jump.”

He stood watching her. Watching as the antennae blinked from orange to red and those chocolate eyes slowly closed. He shook his head, bracing himself to run through the flames. There was no way he was leaving her. She wasn’t going to die in this furnace. But his feet fought to move forwards as something pulled him towards the window.

He turned to face it, to fight back, but light blinded him. A strange, soothing light. The heat from the flames cooled as they were forced back, and he felt himself dragged from the window.

Green grass rushed up to greet him, faster and faster. It spread out like a mattress, curling and coiling into a fluffy green cloud.

Macro sat bolt upright, launching the suffocating duvet across the bed. His heart was racing and he looked around the tiny room. No flames. No grass. No blinding light. But once again, that odd sun-like dazzle spot occupied his vision, distorting the blue cheri blossom wallpaper.

His duvet shifted and he snapped back to it, reaching for his laser. It fell away from its heap to reveal Anchor’s surprised face, and he looked at Macro with a twinkle of amusement.

“Aren’t you too old for night terrors, Cap’n? ‘Cos I always thought pokemon grew out of them as they got older.”

Macro rubbed the base of his horn and frowned. “I don’t have night terrors.”

“Well, it were somethin’ nasty.” Anchor folded the duvet back onto the bed. “You were screamin’ DL’s name before you woke up.”

Macro’s face heated up and he diverted his gaze to the closed door. His paw absently rubbed at his arm. Despite the dry heat in his dream, his fur was sopping wet. His heart was also still racing.

He turned back to Anchor and cleared his throat. “What happened? Where are we?”

“You got doused with spore and it put you into a right deep sleep.” Anchor retrieved the magazine he was reading which Macro noted was about orchard care. “After I wiped the floor with those two night watchers I carried you back to Lossy’s apartment, since you were in no fit state to fight.”

Macro frowned and his claws wound into the bed sheet. “We were in a berry orchard! Just force a chesto berry down my throat!”

Anchor snorted and looked up at him. “Can’t say the idea didn’t cross my mind, but what was to stop them tossing another spore our way? Grass types are tricky, Cap’n. You were right. We need more pokemon to take them down and rescue the kids. Hopefully that oddish and gloom don’t rat us out, but that’s a golden dream right there. Those twins could already be in trouble, especially if they think they’re what we were after.”

Macro muttered under his breath and slipped from the bed. A flicker of light caught his eye and he span towards the window. Light blue curtains billowed in the gentle breeze.

“It’s daylight?!” He turned on the spot to face Anchor.

“Aye,” said the granbull without looking up from whatever article he was reading. “You slept the entire night.”

“Why couldn’t you have woken me?!”

“Spore.” Anchor shrugged. “Besides. I think you needed the sleep, if I’m honest. Not to mention we need a plan.”

Macro sighed and closed his eyes. Of course. They did need a plan. Two lone space pirates running into an army camp guns blazing was the epitome of a suicide mission.

Unfortunately, he didn’t know enough pokemon who would be willing to help him.

The door opened and Lossy stood in the corridor rubbing her paws together. Her face was pale beneath her white fur and her eyes were bloodshot.

“There’s been another incident,” she said. “Cyan City’s army have apprehended a fire type pokemon. It looks like… the grass army might have formed an alliance.”

“Unlikely,” said Macro. “You might have just found a stray. The three of you are at war, after all.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know. They found the talonflame flying over the orchard where you found that caterpie.”

Macro’s eyes widened and Anchor dropped his magazine.

“Talonflame?” they asked in unison.

“Yes,” she said. “They’re holding him in the cells. What are we going to do?”

Macro exchanged glances with Anchor and the granbull stood up.

“You think it’s Switch?” Anchor asked.

“If it is,” said Macro, “I’m gonna kick his feathered tush all the way back to Wildcard Gamma.”

He made for the door and Lossy stood aside to let him past.

“You might know him?” she gasped.

He looked back over his shoulder. “There’s a fair chance I do. And if it’s who I think it is, he’s meant to be recovering on my ship. Did they say if he was injured?”

“Yes, but they think it was from their battle.”

“That cinches it then.” Macro waved a paw at her and marched down the corridor. “I’m gonna go get him. Where’s this holding place?”

“At the police station,” she said. “But erm…”

He paused and his ears twitched as she sniffed a couple of times.

“I think,” she said slowly, “that you should have a little shower first.”

He looked down at his fur, still damp from his nightmare. His drying fur was definitely beginning to let off quite the doggy smell. With a sigh, he turned into the bathroom.
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
and much to his irritation the tiny thorns kept catching in his fur and the leaves clung to his sticky scarf.
I'm counting it!
Macro hates scarves counter: +8

Also, can I just say that, while I know crop fields have been used for action sequences, the idea of staging a rescue in an orchard seems very unique, to me. The initial parts seem to make use of things nicely, too. Hiding in berry bushes, having to contend with walling and gates, and the little bug-types attracted to all the delicious food growing.

Macro sighed and shook his head. “Fine. Then stay hidden somewhere. Sleep in a bush or something.”
Is it any wonder Macro's a bachelor? :V

I also like some of the tension. Having Macro feeling a slight breeze, only for it to turn out to be the breath of a slumbering Ivysaur? Pretty creepy. Lord knows I'd freak at that. But that's why Macro's a professional, I suppose. Not to mention the grass-types being able to naturally blend in with some of the orchard's foliage. I didn't you could make some of these cute little buggers be menacing, but somehow you pulled it off. Case in point: the Carnivine who tried to go all, "FEED ME, SEYMOUR!" on poor little Macro.

I'm not entirely sure what that nightmare scene in the middle was all about. I think it might've thrown me off because there was no break between it and Macro waking right up. But since it's not really touched on at all, it left me a bit confused.

And, oh boy, Switch managed to get himself jailed for trying to be a goody-two-shoes. This can only end spectacularly. ^^;
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Is it any wonder Macro's a bachelor? :V
Given he's meant to be a rather attractive mawile, a little. But his sour attitude does leave little to be desired. Gotta say he brings it on himself XD

I also like some of the tension. Having Macro feeling a slight breeze, only for it to turn out to be the breath of a slumbering Ivysaur? Pretty creepy.
Thanks! =D Oh yes, I'd have ran out of that bush like a bullet... Gotta say, I'm no space pirate.

I'm not entirely sure what that nightmare scene in the middle was all about. I think it might've thrown me off because there was no break between it and Macro waking right up. But since it's not really touched on at all, it left me a bit confused.
I'm now wondering how much of a gap I left since Macro's last fire flashback. He suffers from them, but I'm not sure how obvious that's been. The dream was meant to be confusing like dreams are, mainly to help people realize it was a dream while having a bit of insight into his head. Things will become much clearer eventually, however.

Chapter Thirty Two​

There wasn’t enough coffee in the whole of System to quell Annie’s headache.

The constant clattering from down the hall had kept her awake most of the night, and she’d developed quite the banger as a result. She lay sprawled on the table in a mass of feathers and irritation, watching the long fluffy purple skuntank tail as it swished back and forth while Web clattered around the kitchen. The sound was like a marching band, striking away at tin drums. Annie clenched her sharp teeth together and clawed at her head, letting out a pitiful groan that oddly enough caused the skuntank to freeze on the spot and cast her a wary glance.

“Is everything okay?” Web asked.

“Just dandy,” Annie hissed.

The skuntank watched her for a moment, then turned back to her task… at a much quieter pace. The sweet sickly scent of stewing overripe berries filled the air in a mist of steam, creating a sticky condensation over the yellow windows.

Annie closed her eyes, feeling herself begin to drift off into a light doze. But she was rudely awakened by yet more clattering, followed by a shrill excitable voice. Her eyes snapped back open and she raised her head to berate the noise-maker.

A happy, gold and white face beamed at her from the doorway. Zip floated in a glass bowl, held up on a metal frame. Three long, mechanical legs spread out at even angles from beneath the bowl, while inside the water in a rubber shell was a steering stick. If she removed the mechanical components, the bowl wasn’t entirely dissimilar to the kind humans kept their aquatic pokemon in when they weren’t inside their pokeballs. In all fairness, it was rather small. Not much exercise space.

Zip didn’t appear to mind this, however, as he nudged the stick forward and the legs skittered across the floor with all the grace of a tap-dancing araquanid with three left feet.

“Look at me!” he squealed. “I have legs! I’m a land pokemon now!”

“Now, now.” Web turned towards him and placed her paws on her hips. “You might well be on land, but you’re still a water dweller. I won’t have any accidents while you’re trying to find your land legs. Calm down in that thing.”

Zip skidded to a halt and beamed at the skuntank. She returned his smile and waved a paw.

“Darn it, kid. Can’t resist that smile.” She turned back towards the stove. “Join us at the table and I’ll dice you up some berries.”

The goldeen cheered and turned his device towards the table. The long mechanical legs flailed at a seat, and he teetered dangerously backwards. Deciding to give up, the bowl lurched forwards, sloshing water onto the floor. He shoved the chair to one side, its feet screeching on the floor and echoing around Annie’s pounding head. Zip gave the archeops a beaming smile and waved a fin.

“Good morning!” he quipped.

Annie grunted and propped herself on a wing-elbow while she swigged at her scalding coffee. It took every ounce of restraint she had to resist pouring it into the kid’s bowl.

“Not a morning ‘mon?” Zip asked.

She snorted and took a smaller sip. “On days like this, I can’t stand anyone.”

“Tell me about it.” Waveform slumped into the seat beside her and shot the goldeen a glare as he eyed his contraption. “So it was you making all that racket?”

Zip’s smile fell and he sank to the bottom of his bowl. “I’m sorry… but at least now I’m more helpful to you, right?”

The decidueye shrugged and reached across the table for the newspaper. “I suppose. It certainly beats carrying you around.”

Web craned her neck around to eye the three pokemon. “Where’s Trojan? He never misses breakfast.”

“Probably sleeping,” said Waveform.

“Aye, he said he wanted some rest,” said Zip. “We were up most of the night!”

“So was I,” Annie scoffed.

Waveform grunted and shook the newspaper open.

“You could always go back to bed,” said Web. “No one is forcing you to stay awake.”

“Sod that,” said Annie. “If I go back to bed, my whole sleeping pattern is gonna go to whack. And that’s gonna help no one in this… what was I running again?”

“A rebellion,” said Waveform.

“Oh yeh, that.” Annie slumped forwards and groaned. “It feels like there’s a rock slide in my head.”

Waveform let out a gasp and the newspaper almost fell out of his wing fingers. Annie looked up at him with a start, which she regretted as she placed a claw on the side of her head.

“Hey, it ain’t that bad,” she told him. “It’s just a migraine.”

“Not that.” Waveform waved her off and lowered the newspaper to the table. “This. There’s been some… beast thing… attacking Favicon City.”

“Favicon?” Annie scratched her head and looked up at the ceiling. “Think I had one of those when I was a kid.”

She followed one of the decidueye’s fingers to a blurry photograph. Some blob-like thing hovered in the air above a skyscraper, its tentacles reducing the formerly splendid building to rubble while pokemon ran for their lives.

“You know what?” she said. “Some people really have nothing better to do than stand around watching a disaster taking photographs, do they?”

The owl pokemon fixed her in a glare.

Web crept behind Annie to look over her shoulder, and Zip’s mechanical feet trotted over the floor as he joined them around the newspaper.

“What is that thing?” Web asked. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Looks like a tentacruel,” said Zip. “But… they can’t fly.”

“It looks like a hoax photo to me,” said Annie. “A convincing one. But until I can see what that thing is, I’m sayin’ nothin’.”

“The descriptions they have,” said Waveform, “liken it to a tentacruel or frillish. But it apparently has no face to speak of, and is a silvery colour.”

“Is it ‘mon made?” Web asked.

“Witnesses said it looked organic. It was last sighted heading south-east from Favicon City.”

Web’s paws fell to her sides and she glanced out of the window.

“They say at the speed it was traveling, it could be at Meta City within three days,” Waveform went on.

Annie looked up at Web and shrugged. “Wouldn’t worry. By then our ship should be built, right? Besides, is it really gonna wanna live in this toxic swamp?”

Web said nothing as she wound her paws in her apron.

“You all right, Webber?” Waveform asked. “You’ve gone awfully quiet.”

“It’s heading towards pirate territory,” she said quietly.

Waveform raised an eyebrow. “Well, you’re not in Pulse City any more. We’re here on System Ground.” He sighed and retrieved his paper. “Besides. If they all bail on the place, they’ll be easier to round up, won’t they?”

She glanced at him and cleared her throat as she beat the creases out of her apron. “I guess.”

Annie watched her as she strutted back over to the stove and idly stirred the steaming pot of berries.

“We could head it off,” she said.

Waveform shot her a look out of the corner of his eye, and Web’s spine stiffened. She looked back at Annie with a look of concern.

“Head it off?” she asked.

Annie nodded slowly, if only to avoid jiggling her aching head. “Yeh. We’ll get that ship built and shoot that… blob thing… out of the sky.”

“I wouldn’t be so hasty,” said Waveform. “Not only are space pirates never to be trusted, that ship of ours is never going to be up in the air in less than three days let alone enough time to head it off at Pulse City.”

Annie gave him a sly smile. “You underestimate me, Mister Form.”

Waveform dropped his paper and looked down at her with an unreadable expression, and a snicker came from the stove.

Annie slipped from the table with her coffee mug clasped tightly in her right claws. She sipped at it as she waddled from the room towards the stairs.

“Wait for me!” Zip skittered from the room.

“What about your berries?” Web called after him.

“Later! I’m needed to build this ship!”

The two remaining pokemon watched them leave, and Waveform let out a long sigh.

“She’s got pretty high expectations,” he said.

“And you want to start a rebellion with her,” said Web. “I suppose there’s worse captains, eh?”

“Oh, she won’t be captain,” said Waveform.

“I’d be wary of challenging her. I think she’d put up the fight. Besides.” Web placed her paws on her hips and smirked. “You’d probably end up with a high rank regardless. She seems to have taken a shine to you.”

Waveform raised an eyebrow and his beak fell open before twisting into a confused frown.

Web chuckled again and turned back to the stove. “Eat your berries, Mister Form.”

...​

The police station was ablaze with chaos. Crowds of water pokemon surrounded it, their voices mashing together in a crescendo as they demanded the talonflame be done away with. The look of fire behind millions of eyes made Macro visibly bristle.

He began to march towards the crowd, but Anchor grabbed the scruff of his scarf and tugged him backwards.

“Don’t be hasty, Cap’n,” he said. “That crowd will have your neck.”

Macro glanced up at him and brushed dried string-shot from his scarf. It flaked away beneath his paw but left an unsightly grey residue.

“Then what do you suggest we do?” he asked. “That crowd is huge. We can’t even get close enough to the station let alone inside it without being seen.”

“I have an idea.”

Macro almost leapt out of his skin. He fixed Lossy with a raised eyebrow and looked from the heaving crowd to the dewott and back.

“You have an idea?” he snorted.

She nodded slowly. “You have a huge bounty on your head. I could pretend to be apprehending you and get you through that crowd.”

“And who’s to say they won’t tear your head off to get his?” Anchor nodded at the mawile.

“That’s a rather morbid metaphor, Anchor,” Macro muttered.

Anchor folded his arms and grunted. “It made my point.”

“Listen to me.” Lossy wound her paws together, cowering slightly as she scrutinized the crowd. “Everyone in Cyan City knows each other. I doubt they’d try to hurt me, or cause a fuss as I get you through. I can’t speak for everyone, though, so I know it’s a risk, but…”

Anchor sighed and rubbed his snout. “It’s all we’ve got. I’m with the dewott.”

Macro rolled his eyes and tried to smooth out his creased and unsightly scarf. “All right. Get us through, before they end up roasting Switch or something.”

“It would increase my chance of getting you there successfully if I used one of your lasers against you,” she said.

Macro’s spine stiffened and he fixed Lossy with a glare. “I’m sorry?”

“Everyone knows you have a grass laser,” she explained. “That crowd is full of water type pokemon. They’d be even more unlikely to start anything if they thought I’d shoot them with it.”

Macro frowned. “But you’re a meek little dewott.”

“I’m also a mother. I’d do anything to get my babies back, and everyone here knows they’ve been taken now. It’s all over the papers.”

Macro rolled his eyes and let his paws drop to his sides. “Fine.”

He stuffed one of his lasers into her paw, the action alone leaving him feeling breathless as though someone had taken one of his lungs. As the cold nozzle touched his back his blood turned to ice and he instinctively raised both his paws.

“Move,” she said softly.

Macro kept one eye over his shoulder as he slowly walked towards the crowd. Anchor kept steady pace at his sides until he came to a sudden stop and looked down at his paws.

“You’re probably gonna wanna hold onto these,” he said, removing his gauntlets.

The dewott took them gingerly and tucked them under one arm. Despite the determined look on her face, she staggered slightly under their weight. Regardless, she pressed Macro forwards with the nozzle of the laser.

The mawile bit his tongue, reluctant to voice his discomfort. Was this really just an act? The look in her eyes and the pressure of his laser against his spine certainly made him doubtful.

Hundreds of eyes shot their way as they approached the crowd. Leers and scowls fixed on the space pirates, then traveled over to Lossy and her threatening laser. Her assumption was correct. Pokemon stepped back and parted to let her through, but not without the green flash of envy.

Macro resisted the urge to meet their eyes. More so because he was scared they’d see fear behind them. His pulse was racing, and it only worsened with every nudge from his own weapon.

The police station loomed before them, and the taut face of a blastoise leered down at them. When he spotted Lossy and the laser, his muzzle twisted into a sneer.

“Turning in the pokemon who were apparently ‘helping’ you?” he scoffed. “Trusting filth like that…”

“Just let me see Governor Jumper,” she said bluntly.

“He’s busy with the talonflame,” said the blastoise. “Besides, what makes you think I’m gonna let you march in there with an armed laser?”

“If I remove it, he’ll use the other one against me and run,” she said.

The blastoise’s eyes locked onto Macro’s for a painfully long second. Then his large paw stretched down towards him and he wagged a claw.

With a sigh, Macro reached to his right holster and plonked his laser into the blastoise’s calloused paw. His trusty weapon looked tiny as it was whisked away, leaving him feeling helpless. He reminded himself over and over he didn’t need his lasers. He was more than capable of dealing with other pokemon with his own attacks. He’d dealt with threats the size of the blastoise officer. He’d even thrown them.

“If I hand over this one,” Lossy said after she’d handed the blastoise Anchor’s gauntlets, “he might still fight back. My aquatic attacks won’t do anything to him.”

“Then I’ll take him through,” the blastoise said with a smile, but Macro could see the smirk hidden behind it.

Lossy wasn’t exactly blind either. Her tiny nose creased and the butt of the laser clicked as she tightened her grip. Macro’s fur stood on end and he gave her a wary glance. One misfire and she’d blow a hole in his torso.

“Fine.” The blastoise sighed and threw the door wide open. “Make it quick.”

Macro staggered forwards as Lossy jabbed him in the spine. Biting back a remark, he strutted towards the door. He caught a sneer from the tortoise pokemon before it slammed shut behind him, drowning out the ruckus from the crowd.

Macro glanced back at the dewott. “Okay. We’re inside. You can put my laser down now.”

She jabbed it into his back once more and he flinched, almost jogging along the corridor. He looked up at Anchor with wide, pleading eyes, and mouthed the words ‘help me’. The granbull gave him an apologetic shake of the head and kept pace beside him as Lossy marched them towards Jumper’s office.

The office door was shut, and Macro found himself sandwiched between it and his laser as Lossy leant over him to knock politely. His muzzle crinkled as he shot her a sideways leer at the sheer irony.

“Come in,” came Jumper’s muffled voice.

She pushed the door open and marched the two pirates ahead of her. The frogadier was sat beside a floatzel, and the governor’s expression switched from frustration to confusion to surprise then did a full loop back to frustrated. He cleared his throat and sat back in his seat, while the floatzel reluctantly discarded the paperwork he’d been slaving over.

“What is this?” The floatzel waved a paw at the two space pirates.

“It looks like two pirates didn’t leave the city when I told them to,” said Jumper. “What a foolish mistake.”

The floatzel leant towards him and muttered, “Governor, I hate to question you-”

“If you wouldn’t mind,” said Jumper, “could you leave me to deal with this for a few minutes?”

The floatzel reluctantly rose to his feet and left the room, pausing to fire Macro a disapproving sneer. Once the door had closed - well, slammed - Jumper turned back to the pirates and a painful silence washed over the office.

“I thought I told you two that you could leave safely provided it was before nightfall.” His eyes snapped onto Macro. “Clearly you didn’t listen.”

Macro folded his arms and shrugged. “I think you’ll find we just didn’t do it.”

“You know what I think?” Jumper leant forwards on the desk and steepled his paws together. “I think you should watch your mouth while you’re at the mercy of your own gun.”

Macro glanced back at Lossy over his shoulder. “We’re in. You can put it down now.”

The dewott’s paw trembled, but she kept the laser pressed into his spine. Her eyes were fixed on the frogadier, sparkling with tears.

“Do you think…” Her voice cracked and she visibly restrained herself from looking at the two pirates. “Do you think the grass army would trade them for my children?”

Macro’s jaw almost hit the floor. Every word that popped into his head came out of his mouth as a strangled gasp, and his violet eyes flew to the dewott with stunned accusation.

“After all we’ve done for you?!” he roared.

“You didn’t get them back,” she whimpered. “I want my babies!”

“We’re supposed to be here to clear Switch’s name, not sever my head!”

Jumper was oddly silent as he watched the three pokemon. He leant his chin on his steepled paws and looked at each of them in turn. Finally, he let out a sigh and sat back in his seat.

“To be honest, Lossy,” he said, “I understand your suggestion, but I highly doubt this army of grass types would see forty thousand credits a good substitution for bringing an end to an entire city. It might seem a lot of money to an individual, but it doesn’t go far.”

The dewott’s arm slackened and she let the gun fall to her side. Her eyes went to the floor and her shoulders shook with sobs.

In one fluid motion, Macro snatched his gun from her grip and popped it safely into his holster. The weight sent a wave of relief through him and he let out a satisfied sigh. It was swiftly washed away when he met the frogadier’s cold eyes, freezing him to the spot.

“You said you want to clear someone’s name?” Jumper paused and tapped his paw on the table. “I sincerely hope you don’t mean that talonflame…”

“Why not?” Macro asked. “I thought it would be a relief to you to learn that the grass army aren’t liaising with Magenta City.”

“No, but it would mean that yet another space pirate has invaded Cyan City.”

Macro folded his arms and smirked. “Switch ain’t a space pirate. He’s a client.”

Anchor leant towards him and whispered in his ear. “Don’t give too much away, Cap’n.”

“I ain’t stupid, Anchor.”

“I think you’ll find my hearing is impeccable,” said Jumper. “But, I guess locking an innocent pokemon behind bars is a crime in itself. If you can vouch that this talonflame is not in any way associated with the grass army’s invasion, then I suppose I can let you meet him.”

The frogadier rose and marched passed them towards the door. Macro watched him move, but his eyes met Lossy’s and his fur bristled like a ferroseed. He grit his teeth together and waved a clenched paw.

“Tryin’ to trade my life!” he barked.

Lossy stiffened and took a step back, her eyes going to the door. “I’m sorry! I… I just want-”

“I don’t want to hear it,” Macro hissed.

Jumper cleared his throat. “Excuse me. But there’ll be no fighting here. Lossy, you are free to go. You two.” He pointed at Macro and Anchor. “You come with me.”

Macro watched the dewott skulk off, then followed Jumper out of his office. The frogadier paused to lock up then gestured for the two space pirates to follow him down the narrow corridor.

“We caught him early this morning,” said Jumper. “He was flying over the city just before dawn. One of my officers shot him out of the sky with a water pulse, and he appears to have injured his wing in the fall.”

“If it’s Switch, he didn’t hurt it when he fell,” said Macro. “Unless he landed awkwardly. He hurt himself in a battle with a steelix in Raster Town.”

“What on earth were you doing in Raster Town?” Jumper looked back with some surprise then shook his head and waved a paw. “Never mind. I don’t think I want to know.”

He paused at another door and unlocked it. It led into another corridor lined with cells. Each one was closed off with a sheet of shock resistant plexi-glass. Scowling faces, most of which belonged to water types, leered back at them. Macro counted three prisoners, separated by empty cells, until they came to the one containing a talonflame. The disgruntled bird sat huddled in a corner, and his yellow eyes lit up when he saw the space pirates.

“Macro!”

“Macro?” Jumper looked down at the mawile.

The space pirate said nothing as he watched Switch skitter across the floor to reach the glass.

“I thought I was done for!” the talonflame gasped. “They think I’m assisting some army with an invasion!”

Macro frowned and tapped his claws along his arm. “You’re supposed to be on my ship. What about your wing?”

“I’m fine, honestly!” The way Switch held his left wing didn’t spell ‘fine’. “I whacked it a bit when I fell. Anyway, Matrix sent me.”

Macro slammed his paw into his face. “Why would he send a wounded pokemon?!”

“I insisted,” Switch said quickly. “Anchor sent message that he needed his heat tracker, and I came down here to deliver it. But… well… it was confiscated.”

Macro exchanged glances with Anchor and sighed. “If you’d just remembered to bring it yourself…”

Anchor shrugged. “I’m sorry, Cap’n. But I thought it would be necessary to help find those kids.”

“We also wanted to confiscate his watch,” said Jumper. “But when we tried, he had a panic attack. Convinced us it’s a medical implement.” He leant against the cell and fixed Anchor with a frown. “So the weapon belongs to you? I already told you this invasion is being dealt with. Cyan City’s army is planning a line of defense, and those two oshawott will be rescued. I’m reluctant to say you can’t leave after what you’ve done, but at this rate I fear you never will and I will have to contact Socket. Turn all three of you in.”

“What?!” Switch almost collapsed with shock. “No! Please! I told you, I can help you!”

Jumper turned to Switch and shrugged. “If you’re innocent, I’m sure she won’t harm you.”

Switch trembled from head to foot but he never took his eyes off the frogadier.

Macro’s heart was in his throat. He raised a paw to get the governor’s attention. “That won’t be necessary. We’ll finish what we came here for and be out of your fur.”

“I don’t have fur,” said Jumper. “And besides. What makes you think you’re getting your paws on that disk? I was informed it’s confidential information. Leave, otherwise you’ll face a lot worse than being turned over to Luma City.”

The reminder of Lossy’s threat chilled Macro to the core and he tore his eyes off the frogadier. His jaw tensed and one of his canines poked from his lips.

“I’m not goin’ anywhere,” he said. “I’m takin’ that disk back. It doesn’t belong to you, or Socket. As for you.” He pointed a claw at Switch. “You’re getting your feathered tush out of this city!”

Switch ruffled his feathers. “You think I’m leaving this place knowing there’s an army here causing trouble that I can deal with very well?” He spread his wings, flinching slightly. “I already told them I can help but they won’t believe me! Instead they now want to throw my life into Socket’s paws!”

Jumper ran a paw down his face. “One fire and flying type isn’t going to stand up against an entire army of grass types!”

“And neither is an army of water types! They’d wipe you out before you even stood a chance! I’ve spent years helping other pokemon, I know what I’m doing! Let me help!”

Anchor looked down at the flustered frogadier. “How long has this been goin’ on?”

“Since morning,” said Jumper.

“Years, eh?” Macro chuckled. “Interesting. Okay, how about this?” He turned to Jumper. “You take Switch’s help, and loan Anchor and me a couple of flying lasers. We’ll wipe this grassy threat off the face of Cyan City.”

“And what makes you think we have weapons here?” Jumper asked. “We’re under a weapon ban.”

A small smirk tugged at Macro’s lips. “How do you plan on taking on this army? ‘Cos like Switch pointed out, they clearly have the upper paw.”

Jumper’s expression fell and he tapped his fingers on his arm rapidly. A small sigh flew out of his lips and he rolled his eyes.

“Fine. We’re armed,” he said. “Like I said, we can handle this.”

Macro chuckled, then burst into fits of gleeful giggles. He fell into the glass and stretched out a paw to hold himself upright.

“A law breaker workin’ inside the law!” he gasped. “I love it!”

Jumper narrowed his eyes dangerously. “I strongly suggest you stop that, Hunter, or you’ll find yourself behind glass.”

Macro took a few deep breaths to calm himself and stood with his back to the glass. He fixed his playful smirk on Jumper and grinned.

“I think we’re at an impasse,” he said. “You’re holding weapons outside of Socket’s knowledge, while we’re trying to not be caught by her goons. You turn me in, I spill the beans. You let me do my thing, we tell no one and you’re safe.”

Jumper pursed his lips and stood silently analyzing the mawile. For a painful moment Macro really wished he could better read an opponents’ motives.

“I don’t like that,” Jumper said suddenly. “I’m not going to just let you roam free and take government property. You’ve already gone against my orders by staying here. If you want to ‘do your thing’ and escape with your lives, you can start by pulling your weight. I’ll loan the two of you a flying module each and you can assist us in rescuing those twins and removing the threat from this city. Only then will I let you three go free, and only if the oshawott brothers are rescued unscathed.”

Macro tutted and crossed his arms. “That’s hardly fair. What if they’ve already harmed them? Ain’t my fault.”

“That is unavoidable,” said Jumper. “But if they are harmed in the process of you rescuing them…”

Macro waved a paw. “Pish posh. We’ll get them out. But my price for this job-”

“Is your life,” said Jumper. “All three of your lives.”

Macro’s eye flew to the nervous talonflame. A few of his feathers had come loose and lay scattered on the ground.

“For the time being,” said Jumper, “I’m going to put the two of you in your own cells. I have to run things by the tactical officer first. Make sure no one tries to earn themselves a quick credit by going after your bounty.”

“You can assure that?” Macro asked.

“Of course. I’m the ‘big cheese’ here. My word is law until Socket overrules it.” Before he unlocked the nearest empty cell, he turned to Macro and held out a paw. “Laser.”

Reluctantly, Macro handed over his laser. Once again it left him feeling exposed and vulnerable. The cell door beside Switch opened and he was marched inside.

“Great,” said Anchor. “This will be the first time someone’s put me in a cell.”

“Thank your stars it’s only temporary,” said Macro as he watched Jumper lock the glass door.

“So if we lose this…” came Switch’s small voice. “What do we do? Flee?”

“There’s a higher chance of us losing in battle than there is being turned over to Socket,” said Anchor.

“You guys fret too much,” Macro spat, sinking to the floor. “Don’t worry, we got this.”
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
There wasn’t enough coffee in the whole of System to quell Annie’s headache.
*quietly adds this to "Things I'd never thought I'd read to start a chapter" list*

Also, for a crazy person, Annie is surprisingly well aware of the fact that migraines suck. And she's rather perceptive about circadian rhythms. Now I'm suspicious she's not quite as crazy as she claims to be. But it's nice to see Nihilego running amok and doing more to frighten the average person than Annie with her shenanigans previously. It's only had some scattered references, but I can't help but feel like, given what the UB's are, it's actually the much larger threat compared to Socket. Especially since, in Glitched, the main threat pretty much came out of nowhere. Just like this Nihilgo! Alternatively, Hoopa-bot decides to strike out on its own...

But the second scene... you got me there! It started off simple enough, but then you pepper in these tidbits that Lossy may not be playing with her suggestion. And, sure enough, she tries to sell Macro and Anchor out for her kids. Pretty desperate, but it's cool to see this meek little Dewott trying so desperately to do something for her kids. I'm just surprised Macro replied so angrily. Like, he's a pirate, shouldn't he have expected something like this? Or is this your way of telling us he's starting to go soft, huh? And then they're trying to create this sort of "enemy mine" against these grass-types. But, given how things went with Lossy, I'm firmly expecting double crosses to happen. The question is who's going to do the double crossing? I'm going to guess Jumper, just because he seems like a shifty enough government official. But I'll probably be wrong. XP
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
(There wasn’t enough coffee in the whole of System to quell Annie’s headache.)
*quietly adds this to "Things I'd never thought I'd read to start a chapter" list*
It's probably my fave start to a chapter ever XD

I do enjoy your reviews and speculations =D thank you so much!

Chapter Thirty Three​

If there was something Macro had learned from his short time in the the cell, it was two things. Firstly, prison food was disgusting. Secondly, the cells were oddly quiet.

Not a peep came from the other criminals locked inside them, but Macro wasn’t sure how much of that was down to the glass muffling them out. Even Anchor’s deep voice was slightly hindered by the cell’s structure.

There hadn’t been much to discuss, and Macro was finding himself growing increasingly restless. He paced back and forth with the taste of twice-fried potatoes and berry stew in his mouth, he tried to work out whether or not it was a trick. Was Jumper really going to use them to fight their battle, or was he secretly being turned over to Socket for his bounty?

He turned on the spot to march the other way for what must have been the hundredth time, but the ground moved beneath his feet, sending him half-running, half-falling across the cell. He landed face down on the tiled floor with an ‘oomph’, then as he looked up he became aware of a deep rumbling. The noise shook the very glass and he pushed himself up on his paws, straining his ears to pinpoint the noise.

Then it stopped as quickly as it had started.

The rumble was replaced by sirens and the roar of voices as their cell-mates tried to work out what had just happened.

One pair of red eyes fixed on him as the golduck opposite pushed himself to his knees. He rubbed a paw over his head and grimaced.

“Did you have somethin’ to do with that?” he asked. “You sneaky pirates plant a bomb somewhere?”

“What makes you think I’ve done anything?” Macro placed a paw on his chest. “I’m stuck in this cell!”

“Could be liaising with the grass types,” said the golduck. “I mean, you have a fire type ally! Who’s to say you’ve not sided with both of them and are conspiring against us?”

“I agree.” Macro couldn’t see the speaker from where he was sat, but their voice was feminine. “They could have been hired. As far as I know, space pirates will do anything for a quick credit.”

Macro flashed his canines and leapt towards the glass, pausing with both paws pressed up on it. He strained to see the speaker so he could bite back at them, but the door to the cells flew open, drawing all eyes towards them. Jumper’s flat feet flapped on the floor as he quickly checked on each and every prisoner. Voices erupted again, each one warring to be heard over the other.

“What was that?!” Macro roared, echoing the same question everyone else had thrown at the frogadier.

He ran past them to check the rest of the cells before he finally trotted back, waving his paws.

“Silence!” he shouted.

The frantic voices ebbed out and Jumper cast Macro a sideways glance before turning to the rest of the cells.

“There’s been an explosion,” he said. “One of the store houses has been attacked. We’re working on rescuing any survivors, but we believe it’s the work of the grass army.”

“A suicide bomber?” Anchor asked.

“We believe so,” said Jumper. “But it’s still too early to be certain.”

“I reckon it were a space pirate,” snorted the golduck.

Jumper ignored him and turned his attention to the swinging doors. “Sadly, I don’t even think the police station will be safe for much longer. If this persists, we’ll be sending you all down to Proxy Prison until this blows over.”

As he left the cells, the locked up pokemon whined in protest.

Macro choked at the idea. Proxy City with it’s putrid air… He could personally guarantee no one in this cell deserved that.

...​

The setting sun painted the sky with an orange hue, reflecting off the discarded sheets of metal. They lay about the yard in a haphazard fashion, reminiscent of jagged teeth. Annie clutched a mug between two claws, trying not to spill it as she waddled out into the cold air.

Trojan sat astride the frame of their ship, hammering the scrap metal into shape around it. So the frame was complete. It was big, but not as big as she’d pictured it. If the frame was any indication, all of them could stand on top of it, which meant inside would be pretty cozy.

She sipped her coffee, watching the scrafty with a smirk.

“Looks good.”

He leapt at her voice, almost falling off the frame. The hammer clattered to the concrete, bouncing then landing hard on one of the metal sheets. He cursed under his breath and slid from the ship, landing in a squat and pausing only to fire the archeops a leer.

“Zip said you were making progress,” she said. “I have to admit, I had my doubts.”

He snorted and snatched up the hammer. “What are you doing out here anyway? I came out here for some peace and quiet.”

She stretched out her right wing claws. “I thought I could lend a hand.”

“I don’t need a ‘hand’.” He turned his back on her and clambered back up onto the frame. “Get back inside and start planning your rebellion strategy or something.”

She pursed her lips together and watched as he began hammering away. The racket reignited her headache and for a moment she did consider going back into the house.

“You know what?” she said. “I feel like you’re unhappy.”

He froze, the hammer still held in mid-swing. His eyes narrowed as they locked onto her.

“You think I’m unhappy?” he said dangerously. “Well, what makes you think that?”

“You’re moody,” she said. “And I know a thing or two about being moody. I was takin’ medication for it for years! I bit the doctor on more than one occasion. He told me that wasn’t healthy, and for two months I had to wear a muzzle. But anyway, that was all this.” She waved at her feathered form then shrugged. “I got a better handle on it. Wanna know how I did that?”

“Not really.” He turned back to his work and brought the hammer down in three heavy swings.

Annie frowned and leant against the wall. “I’m gonna tell you anyway. I told myself, ‘Annie, you need to stop biting the doctor. He’s only trying to help.’”

Trojan turned to look at her slowly, his eyes narrowed but this time with curiosity and confusion. He let the hammer slide to the floor then cleared his throat.

“You’re the doctor in this crazy scenario, aren’t you?”

Annie sipped her coffee but she kept both eyes locked onto his.

“There’s one difference here,” he said. “I don’t bite.”

“You don’t need to bite with teeth,” she said. “You can bite with words, too.”

He let out a long sigh and waved a dismissive paw. “Whatever. Pass me the hammer.”

With a giggle of glee, Annie set her coffee mug down on the window sill. She scurried across the yard, almost scrambling on her wing claws, and retrieved the hammer. Trojan watched with amusement as she almost collapsed under its weight in a bid to lift it up to him.

Once it had been snatched from her claws, she flapped her wings to lift herself up onto the frame. By the time she was sat behind the scrafty she was breathless.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked between gasps.

Something above them fluttered and flew away with a noisy flap of wings, dragging the archeop’s attention, but Trojan didn’t seem to notice it.

“Go back inside and grab my diagram.” He didn’t even look back at her. “I think I left it on the kitchen table.”

...​

The thud of a soft body colliding with the window, followed by Defrag’s squeak of surprise, made Tracer drop his cigar. He let out a sigh of exasperation and retrieved the burning stub before it set fire to the carpet.

Widget clambered out of his seat and went to open the window.

“What is it?” Tracer asked.

Limbs smacked at the concrete, followed by a lot of ranting and swearing. The eevee leant out of the window then dragged himself back inside, depositing a small zubat onto the carpet.

“Did… did someone just bite me?!” the zubat shrieked.

Tracer sighed again and looked down at the stunned bat.

“Java,” he said slowly, “I thought I told you to enter via the mail box?”

“I missed it.” The zubat twitched his right ear and grunted. “Echolocation is off.”

The delphox scooped up the small zubat and set him down on the windowsill. Like all zubat, he didn’t have any feet to speak of, so he propped himself up on his wing claws. He turned his head slowly to face the delphox and twirled his ears around to fix on him. Completely blind, he pinpointed Tracer by sound alone.

“I got some news for you,” he said. “That human you asked me to follow? Well… she’s up to something.”

“I thought as much.” Tracer let out a stream of smoke. “What is it?”

“They’re building a ship,” said Java. “Not just her, but the whole group she’s stayin’ with. Reckon Waveform’s got something to do with it. I heard him buying scrap metal not too long ago, but I didn’t think much of it.”

“Why on earth would a human want to build a ship?” Tracer asked.

“Isn’t she staying with an ex space pirate?” asked Defrag. “Maybe she’s returning to the skies and taking the human with her?”

“Hey, that’s not necessarily the case,” said Widget. “We don’t know much about humans. Maybe she’s stuck and wants to get back home?”

“You’re both leaping to conclusions,” said Tracer. “Java, did you gather a reason as to why this human wants to build a ship?”

“Aye,” said Java. “Some other ‘mon she were with… Trojan I think he’s called… said something about her planning a rebellion.”

Tracer dropped his cigar again, but it landed on his desk this time, scattering ash all over his paperwork and fur. He beat himself down then retrieved it calmly.

“A rebellion?” Tracer frowned at his computer screen. “So Waveform is backing a rebellion now?”

“It was only a matter of time before pokemon began to rebel,” said Defrag. “I mean, look at the state of these outskirts.”

“Nevertheless, we can’t allow it.” Tracer stubbed out his cigar and turned fully to Java. “Thank you, Java. I shall pay you as promised.” The delphox reached into his pocket and pulled out his palm computer. “I think we agreed on four thousand credits?”

“Yeh, we did,” said Java.

“Well, I’m gonna make it five thousand,” said Tracer. “After that nose dive into my window, I really think you aught to put this towards getting your hearing fixed rather than funding your organized crime gang.”

His voice was laced with warning, but the zubat merely shrugged it off. “Ain’t nowt wrong with my hearing, fox.”

Java spread his wings and launched himself off the windowsill, curving in a neat arc towards the door. He missed the mail box by a foot and smashed into the solid woodwork.

Tracer rose with a sigh and scooped up the dazed bat, then he threw the door open and tossed Java into the evening sky. He fluttered off without a word of thanks.

...​

Cyan City’s tactical team was huge, and not just in number. Macro couldn’t even see over the shoulder of the bibarel in front of him. His paw twitched beside his empty holster. Only one of his lasers had been returned - the one Jumper had confiscated - and inside it was just one laser module. Flying. His trusty ground, grass and water modules had been taken from him, and to make matters worse, the laser the blastoise officer had taken had also not been returned. Leaving him with only one. He deeply hoped he wouldn’t find himself outnumbered in battle, because as things stood he could only aim at one head.

Between the mass of bodies, he caught the glimpse of a feraligatr marching back and forth with his paws clasped behind his scaly back. A large belt hung at a lopsided angle, weighed down by a gun that made Macro’s look like a hatchling’s toy. His huge mouth flapped open and closed as he spoke loudly, each syllable showing two rows of sharp, white teeth.

“As you all well know,” he boomed, “Out in the orchard there’s an army of grass types. We don’t know how far they’ve penetrated Cyan City. Like most grass pokemon, they look like plants. They can camouflage themselves with ease. That’s how they managed to sneak into the storehouse and slaughter everyone in there with one explosion. No survivors, not even the culprit. We managed to round up two miscreants shortly after, before they invaded yet another storehouse, but before we could get them behind bars, they died. Each one had some kind of detonator hidden in their bodies that killed them at the push of a button, destroying their vital organs.”

Macro’s blood turned to ice. That news hadn’t reached them.

“Did you know about that?” he whispered, looking up at Switch and Anchor.

The two pokemon shook their heads, keeping their eyes on the marching feraligatr.

“Obviously we’ve not been able to press them for information,” he said. “Several caterpillar pokemon have been retrieved from the orchard, and the damage to food supplies is increasing vastly. That’s why we need this problem wiping out. Don’t be scared to shoot to kill, because they’re most certainly not. This has gotten wildly out of paw and needs to be brought to an end now.” He fixed the group with a commanding glare and pointed one claw to the ground, before returning to marching back and forth. “You’ll be broken into three groups. One will take the orchard and wipe out any plant that moves. The other will patrol the lake with the same instructions. The third group will take the city, splitting up into threes to pick off those that get cocky and venture out of the grassy areas. Listen for your number, because I’m gonna split you all up in the next five minutes.

“But first thing’s first. You all know there’s three space pirates in this army. Governor Jumper tells me to tell you all you’re to keep your paws off. If it weren’t for them, we’d have found out about this a lot later, and by then it might have been too late to save the orchard and the oshawott twins. You’ll co-operate with Hunter and his friends and let the Governor deal with him. You hear me?”

A few grumbles radiated through the army and one or two leers were shot Macro’s way, but he did his best to ignore them. His paw found his laser and he kept both eyes on what he could see of the feraligatr as he broke them into teams.

Macro found himself stood between Anchor and an empoleon. He eyed the large penguin pokemon warily, noting the orange hue from the setting sun reflecting off his bladed flippers. This was the imposing pokemon the feraligatr had put in charge. The one Macro was meant to listen to and take orders from. He suppressed a sneer and took note of the rest of their group. There was a number of wartortle and prinplup, a pair of politoed and an alert-looking vaporeon. There was also a quagsire who he couldn’t help worrying was going to go down like a sack of rocks. Why on earth would they send a quagsire to fight an army of grass pokemon?

He gave himself a mental slap. Almost every single pokemon in Cyan City was weak to grass, but the quagsire was a perfect choice to send into battle against fire types. That dual water and ground typing would go far in that scenario, yet crumple under a razor leaf from a grass type.

“Listen up!” The empoleon’s voice snapped Macro from his reverie. “For those who don’t know, I’m Sergent Heatsink. In less than five minutes, we’ll be marching down to the orchard. Our mission is to rescue the oshawott twins. That. Is. All. Understood?”

Loud replies of ‘yes sir’ came from everyone except Macro and Anchor. Switch, however, had fallen into character.

The empoleon leered at Macro then turned to Anchor.

“I’m of the understanding you have a heat tracker,” said Heatsink.

Anchor nodded. “That I do, yes.”

“Use it,” said Heatsink. “It will be a valuable tool in uncovering hidden hostages.” He turned to Switch with an unimpressed scowl. “Switch, right?”

“Yes sir.” Switch saluted with his wing.

“Let me make one thing clear,” said Heatsink slowly. “I don’t trust you. I trust you less than I trust these pirates, and I wouldn’t even trust them to handle my own droppings. You’re here for one reason only, talonflame. As a means of dispatching grass types who prove problematic. Now let me introduce you to Floppy.”

He waved a flipper at the vaporeon. The aquatic dog stood to attention, his glassy black eyes sparkling, but his mouth was turned into a frown as he kept Switch in his sight.

“Floppy is my sniper,” said Heatsink. “He’s more than equipped to deal with a nuisance like you. He’s never missed a hydro pump, and he can shoot a pidgeot out of the sky with a water pulse. You understand, bird?”

Switch nodded with as much confidence as he could muster, but every feather on his body had stood on end.

Heatsink turned to the rest of the group and barked a command to move out.

Macro and Anchor marched along, trapped between the wartortle and politoed. No one paid them much attention, but Switch found himself right behind Heatsink with Floppy on his tail. Macro’s heart went out to him, and he hoped deep down that Switch wouldn’t find himself on the receiving end of the vaporeon’s sniping attacks.

It seemed to take forever to reach the orchard. Once again it was plunged into the darkness of night. Silent, yet deadly.

Heatsink used his bladed flippers to cut the padlock off the gate. He caught it in his other flipper before it had chance to hit the sidewalk and wake the entire grass army.

Anchor frowned into the shadows, his brow creasing around his heat tracker.

“They’re definitely in there,” he said quietly. “But… there seems to be less of them this time.”

Heatsink turned his head to look at him. “You think there’s less?”

Anchor shrugged. “They could be further back, or I’m misrememberin’. Last time I didn’t have this, you see. But we passed loads of grass types. I’m warning you now, though, the berry trees and bushes are swarmin’ with bugs.”

Heatsink grunted his acknowledgment and pushed the gate open. “Well, let’s hope this is an easier job than I’m fearing. Once we’re in, we stick together. Don’t you pirates go marching off on your own, or I won’t hesitate to shoot you. Understood?”

“Understood.” Macro saluted then let out a snicker.

Heatsink narrowed his eyes at him, more than enough of a warning to nuke the mawile’s rebellious spirit, and went on ahead into the orchard.

Just like the last time, it was difficult to tell the plants from the pokemon, but Macro kept an eye on Anchor. Heatsink kept pace beside them, watching the granbull more than his surroundings. He had the same idea as Macro. With his heat tracker, Anchor could easily tell the plants from the pokemon.

Macro let his eyes wander over the dark orchard. Anchor was right. It did look like there were much less grass pokemon than there were previously. He froze at the spot he’d seen the tropius. Not there. Of course, it could be sleeping elsewhere. But nevertheless, the lack of grass pokemon left him feeling anxious. Where were they? Somewhere else in Cyan City? Or had a majority of them gone back home to Luma City?

“There’s one.” Anchor’s whisper seemed oddly loud.

Macro and Heatsink followed his claw to a large bush.

“It’s inside there,” he said. “From the shape of it, I’d say it were a snivy or servine.”

Heatsink waved a flipper and a wartortle joined his side. At the Sergent’s command, the wartortle drew their gun and fired at the bush. Macro didn’t see what it was, but he was certain it was no laser. A soft yelp came from the bush and after a moment’s pause, the wartortle ran forward. They fussed around the bush then staggered back, dragging a long, reptilian form after them.

A servine.

The empoleon stared down at it then grunted. “Well done, pirate. You were right.”

Anchor grinned and tapped a claw against his heat tracker. “Nice to know it works, eh?”

“Apprehend this grass type,” Heatsink told the wartortle. “We’re gonna want him for questioning.”

The wartortle stooped and fastened shackles over the servine’s short limbs. Heatsink turned away from them and cast his eyes over the orchard.

“Any more?” he asked Anchor.

The granbull shrugged. “It’s hard to pick them out from all the bugs, Sergent, but like I said. There seems to be less.”

“Alright, then let’s keep moving. We need to find these twins.”

Heatsink marched on ahead and Macro hesitated for a second before following him. Something seemed wrong. Why were there less grass types than before? Red flashed beside him and he looked up at Switch, his beak twisted in a frown. The servine had been placed across his shoulders yet the talonflame didn’t buckle under his weight. The wartortle that had shot it walked beside him, his gun still held in his paws.

Fear tactics.

Placing the grass type on Switch would serve nothing more than to terrify the servine. One overheat and he’d be well and truly toasted. Macro’s lip curled up into a sneer. He couldn’t help thinking that in this pointless war all three factions were the same.

“Hang on.” Anchor’s large paw swooped down to block the empoleon. “There’s a tangrowth that way.”

“Tangrowth, eh?” Heatsink scratched his head. “That’s gonna take at least two sedatives. Hit it with three to be safe.”

He turned and left the wartortle to fire at the sleeping pokemon. Three shots in quick succession. Macro heard each one go off and the soft thud as the first hit home.

A rustle of vines drew their attention back to the bushy pokemon. It rose, stretching out its vine-like arms as the second one hit it. Its arm struck the ground, paralysed and the tangrowth crumpled to its knees. A loud cry came from its hidden mouth, slightly muffled by all the vines covering its body. But it was as clear as day.

“Help!”

Then it hit the ground, just before the third shot struck it in the back.

Silence, save for Macro and his allies’ panicked breathing.

Floppy appeared beside Switch, searching the darkness with his glassy black eyes. His breath came out cold, misting in the air and peppering Switch’s wings with frost that melted no sooner than it appeared.

Yet nothing came.

Heatsink shook his head and turned away, waving a flipper at the fallen tangrowth. The wartortle took the message and rushed to shackle him with two of the prinplup and the quagsire. The latter was more to help lift the huge tangly beast than anything else.

Macro followed after Heatsink and Anchor, keeping a tight grip on his laser. He couldn’t remember drawing it, but there was no way he was putting it back in its holster now. Every single rustle of leaves or grass set his fur on end. His heart had gone into overdrive, trying to hammer its way out of his rib cage. All he wanted to do was bolt from the orchard and never come back.

Something long and green fell down beside his head and he let out a shrill squeak. He leapt back and aimed his laser at it, but before he could fire, a quick stream of water struck it like a bullet. The green pokemon swung back and forth before his eyes like a pendulum.

A caterpie.

That’s all it was. A caterpie, suspended on a strong, sticky thread.

Macro silently berated himself and lowered his gun. But there was something different about the caterpie. It hung there, silently, its body changing colour and consistency.

It was evolving.

Genetically modified, and it had no everstone.

Heatsink let out a grunt and looked up at the tree. Whatever berries it contained were now few and far between.

“Things are evolving, huh?” said Anchor. “That means this situations gonna get a lot worse real quick.”

“You’re telling me,” said Heatsink. “I think I might borrow your talonflame friend and have him pick the lot off.”

“They’re living things,” said Switch. “I’m not killing them.”

“They’re barely alive anymore, bud,” said Macro. “You’d be doing them a favor.”

Switch snorted and fixed Macro with a golden leer. “I’m not harming them. It goes against everything I believe in.”

“Keep your voices down,” Anchor hissed.

Macro and Switch looked up to meet matching glares from Anchor and Heatsink. The granbull nodded ahead of them. A large patch of razz bushes. The look in Anchor’s eye told him there was something… maybe even plural… lurking in those bushes.

Then Anchor’s eyes widened so much so he almost lost his heat tracker. He nudged the empoleon and pointed, drawing his attention towards Macro. No one said a word.

The mawile gulped and looked up at the tree above him. The caterpie - now a metapod - still hung there, still swinging. The branch it was attached to dipped and two long vines reached down towards him. He brought his laser up to meet them, but it was knocked from his grasp. The vines looped down, one over his arm and the other around his neck.

“Well… what do we have here?” The voice was nightmarishly familiar. “You came back? And look, you brought me lots of watery snacks.”

The carnivine’s grinning face appeared upside-down before Macro’s, each word breathing out a smell like rotten meat. Once again, Macro wanted to be sick, but any efforts to do so were suppressed as its vine tightened around his neck.

And no one was doing anything about it.

He strained to look behind him, but all he saw were a twitching Switch lying in a crumpled heap with Floppy the vaporeon beside him, his legs tangled in vines reminiscent of those that belonged to a tangrowth.

No…

He screwed his eyes shut and used his claws to prise himself free, to no avail.

“Just so you’re aware,” the carnivine breathed, “I’m not afraid of your flaming bird friend, no. Especially not now my allies have dealt with him. You should be more careful, shouldn’t you? More quieter? Especially since not all of us are diurnal.” He twisted his head to aim a grin at Heatsink.

The empoleon took a step back, trying to avoid the tangrowth’s vines as they reached across the grass towards his feet. His left flipper brushed against something and he leapt aside, his eyes fixing on a moving flower. Two vileplume and a gloom stepped out of the shadows, their tiny eyes reflecting the moonlight.

Anchor lifted a foot and brought it crashing down onto one of the vines as it snaked between his legs. Its owner shrieked from behind Macro and the vine retracted, but the one beneath the distracted Heatsink tripped him and brought him to the ground with an almighty crash. The flower pokemon scattered, filling the air with an awful stench that made Anchor choke. Heatsink soon found himself wrapped up in a cocoon of vines, cutting off yells of protest as they stifled his beak.

Anchor aimed his laser at the empoleon and fired. Small flames shot through the air as it ignited the offensive pollen around them. The flying energy sliced through the vines, eliciting another shriek from their owner and freeing Heatsink from its embrace. He rounded his laser on a spot behind the carnivine, but the carnivorous plant grinned, tightening his hold on Macro until he choked. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe.

The carnivine tutted and waved one of his free vines. “I’d be careful if I were you. Unless you want me to snap his neck?”

Macro’s violet eyes opened impossibly wide, fixing on Anchor’s.

“I might just do it anyway,” said the carnivine. “I mean, you did both hit me the last time. It was embarrassing. But… I think this is more fun. Pokemon will do anything to keep their lives. I might see what I can get you all to do.” A dry chuckle. “Drop your weapon, granbull.”

His mocking laugh filled the air.

Tears welled up in Macro’s eyes, but he had no free paw to wipe them away. He looked down at Switch, still twitching as he fought off a stun spore. Floppy lay in a tangle of vines, and not far from him were the prinplup and wartortle, all of which were trapped under vines or fighting off paralysis. He met Anchor’s gaze again, sending him a silent plea for help, but Anchor only returned his look with an apologetic shake of the head. He let his laser fall to the floor and took a step back. Macro’s heart sank.

It was useless.

Any minute now, he could die.

For the first time in a long time, Macro felt absolutely helpless… and it terrified him.
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Mmm-hmm... sure, there was a grass-type bomber. This isn't a setup or anything. I don't believe that for a second, dangummit! *shakes fist angrily*

The second part confused me a bit, for a few reasons. Firstly, I'm not really sure what purpose is serves other than showing us that progress is being made on Annie's ship (which previous chapters already led me to believe was happening) and Annie still has a few screws loose (she really should get a screwdriver). The other part is that, well, I'm not entirely sure what the point of her speaking to Trojan is there. Like, it seems like she's trying to calm him down, but her own story doesn't really have a resolution. I guess, if you were trying to show that "this is a crazy person trying to calm down their so-called friend," then you did that correctly? I don't know, it just felt like a really superfluous scene, that's all. Like, I know it plays into the stuff with Tracer, but I don't think it was needed just to set that scene up. You could've had Java just come and report on the stuff anyway, and I think it would've worked out fine.

That’s why we need this problem wiping out.
Think this should be, "That's why we need this problem wiped out."

Macro found himself stood between Anchor and an empoleon.
*standing

Loud replies of ‘yes sir’ came from everyone except Macro and Anchor. Switch, however, had fallen into character.
You're such a goody-goody, Switch. Bless ya.

“Floppy is my sniper,” said Heatsink.
Wonder why they callh im Floppy? *snicker* *snicker*

So, not to be that guy or anything, but isn't it really stupid for them to just march to the orchard out in the open? They're giving away their positions and I'd like to think the grass army would be able to know what it is they're doing. I know you're not going for realism here, but I just can't help feeling that way. Especially since Macro and Anchor pretty much did the same thing and, well, it lade to a bad confrontation with that Carnivine. So, you'd think they would've learned their lessons. I guess not. :/

The tension at the end was well done, though. It's a nice, solid cliffhanger.
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
The second part confused me a bit, for a few reasons. Firstly, I'm not really sure what purpose is serves other than showing us that progress is being made on Annie's ship
From feedback I've had off other sites too, I think some of Annie's scenes may be a bit redundant. I felt I needed to show her progress, and the arc's title is 'Rise of the Rebellion', so I wanted to keep her in the arc. Things do pick up for her very soon. But I'm wondering if I brought her into the story a bit too early =/ Maybe I need to rename the arc?

Chapter Thirty Four​

Macro flailed, raking his claws over the carnivine’s strangling limbs. Bleeding welts appeared over the vines, but all the carnivine did was laugh. Each deep laugh breathed putrid breath in his face and he gagged.

“You know what?” said the carnivine. “This is fun! All I have to do is hold you here until the boss is done with his plan. I think I might take my time.”

Macro opened a violet eye, fixing it on the carnivine’s grinning face. Plan? What plan? A lone canine poked out of Macro’s lips in a sneer.

“Is this to do with the twins?” he choked.

“Twins?” The carnivine turned to face him fully and his lips curled up, widening his grin further. “Oh, you mean those water babies? Oh no, they’re but a bargaining tool.” He chuckled. “Although there’s no saying we’ll hold up our end of the bargain. Is there?”

Macro’s fur stood on end. Oh how he wanted to claw the carnivine’s limbs off and put an end to that sinister grin.

“You sick freak!” The shout had come from Heatsink. He dragged himself to his feet, still choking on the pollen. “They’re only children!”

“Now now.” The carnivine waved a vine and tutted. “With that attitude, I might just kill your ally.”

“Go ahead.” Heatsink shrugged. “I couldn’t care less about these space pirates. My job is to rescue those oshawott twins, not baby sit some punk teenagers.”

Macro fixed the empoleon in a violet leer, but all words were choked off before he could spit them out.

The carnivine let out a thoughtful purr and turned to look down at the rest of Heatsink’s army.

“You might not care about Hunter,” he said slowly. “But what about the rest of your allies? I’m guessing the talonflame is pretty key to you, yes? Or is he just another space pirate?”

Heatsink said nothing, his gaze fixed on Floppy and the pile of incapacitated water soldiers. The carnivine didn’t need words, however. A deep chuckle came from his throat and he lifted a vine to wave at the surrounding flower pokemon.

“Take the water types away,” he said. “I’m sure Root will want to deal with them later.”

The vileplume and her army closed in on the prinplup and wartortle, and all Heatsink could do was watch. If he put one claw wrong, the whole of his army, including Macro and his team, would be wiped off the face of System.

In Macro’s peripheral vision, Switch moved. It wasn’t a large movement, but enough to catch the mawile’s attention. He remained frozen in the carnivine’s grip, but he saw the talonflame lift his head weakly to look at him. His beak opened slightly and Macro groaned inwardly, half expecting him to aggravate the situation. To whine or throw some snarky comment.

A flash of flames streamed from his beak and struck the carnivine’s offending limb. The carnivine howled, slackening his grip enough for Macro to duck and dive out of the way.

He spun his horn in a wide arc, striking the carnivorous plant right in the cranium. He went flying from the tree, his vines snapping the branch from its trunk. Macro snatched up his laser and aimed, firing a stream of air right at the carnivine. It struck him before he hit the ground, slicing through his limbs. The heat from the laser ignited the lingering pollen which engulfed his entire body in a quick burst of flames.

Macro turned to the rest of the grass army, clutching the laser in both paws. His lip curled up in a sneer and he narrowed his eyes, looking at each one in turn.

“Anyone else want to meet my little friend?!” he roared.

Anchor retrieved his own laser and joined Macro’s side, keeping it fixed on the vileplume. The flower pokemon didn’t move a muscle, frozen in place with what Macro hoped was fear. Floppy’s spasming body was merely a foot from her own.

However, the vileplume vanished under a torrent of soil. It covered half of Floppy and peppered Switch’s feathers with soggy, brown clumps. The talonflame let out a cry of protest and sputtered, shaking his stiff limbs to remove it. The vines entangling Floppy’s legs snapped away, allowing the vaporeon to leap to his feet. He sprayed his body with water to remove the dirt then looked up with some surprise.

Macro and Anchor followed his gaze and the mawile’s jaw dropped. Marching towards them, dragging a stunned tangrowth, was the quagsire.

“Torrent!” Heatsink said with some surprise. “Where did you get to? I thought you were caught with the rest of us.”

“Sorry, Sergent,” the quagsire replied. “I’d spotted this big old oaf a while back, recovering from the sedative. I’m not sure we hit him with enough tranquilizers, so I waited to take him out.”

“And you also took out the vileplume and her gang,” said Heatsink. “Well done.”

Macro stared down at the pile of soggy mud. The vileplumes large petals were just visible beneath the mound. One mud shot and the quagsire had taken out a small army of grass types. A pokemon he’d previously doubted to be of any use in this battle. A pokemon he’d completely forgotten about.

He chuckled and let his laser fall to his side.

“Has something amused you, Hunter?” Heatsink asked.

Macro looked up at the quagsire’s confused face and smiled. “I completely underestimated you.”

Torrent blinked a few times then shrugged. “I do my best.” He lifted a pair of cuffs, dragging the tangrowth up by one leg. “What shall I do with him?”

Heatsink crouched beside the mound of mud and began to dig out the vileplume.

“We’ll take him back to the cells with the rest of them,” said Heatsink. “We’ve got a lot of questions to ask. Right now, however, you can start giving cheri berries to your stunned team mates.”

The quagsire didn’t need telling twice. He handed the cuffs to Macro then rifled through his bag for solutions to the paralysis.

Macro stared at the cuffs then back at the quagsire. His first stop had been Switch, and the talonflame took the cheri berry gratefully. Macro’s heart sank slightly as he realised Switch was the only reason he’d managed to get out of that carnivine’s trap.

Before the quagsire could even draw out the first berry, an audible, nauseating pop resounded in the air. Heatsink let out a yell of surprise, then a groan.

“Not again…” He dragged the vileplume aside.

Blood trickled from her mouth, and her face was frozen in a state of terror.

“We’re not gonna get a single word out of these, are we?” Heatsink muttered. “Guess we’ll need to sedate them until we can remove the detonators, then make them talk. Otherwise they’re all gonna off themselves.” He paused and muttered under his breath, “This is just makin’ me even more suspicious.”

Anchor placed a paw on Macro’s shoulder and nodded into the shadows.

“He’s got a point. I’m gonna look for that carnivine,” he said. “If he survived that attack, then I think we’ve got some questions to ask him. I can’t say I liked what he were sayin’.”

“Me neither.” Macro tapped him on the arm as he passed. “Watch your back. There might be more. And make sure he’s not detonated himself, either.”

He turned away from the granbull back to Switch and cleared his throat. The talonflame looked up at him and lowered his berry.

“Thanks,” said Macro. “You really saved my hide there.”

“Well, you already saved my life.” Switch shrugged and took another bite of his cheri. “I’m just returning the favor.”

...​

Tracer looked up at the run-down house, straining to see through its murky windows. He hadn’t needed to get a location off Java. He knew where most pokemon lived in Spool City, it was part of his job.

He turned his eyes to the door, deeply regretting that he couldn’t smoke a cigar around his mask. Something gnawed at him. Something that said this was going to be a rather tense confrontation. He quickly exchanged glances with Widget then raised a paw and rapped on the door three times.

Shuffling footsteps came from beyond it, then it creaked open, revealing a pale face surrounded by long black hair.

“Oh,” said the human. “Good morning, Mister Fox.”

Tracer’s eyes widened behind his mask. He hadn’t expected such pleasantries.

Her eyes went to Widget. “Who’s the puppy?”

“Puppy?” Widget’s fur bristled over his hackles.

Tracer raised a paw to his muzzle to stifle a laugh and cleared his throat.

“Pardon me, but I’m afraid we’re not here on a visit,” he said. “I’ve had a little information given to me and I need to investigate it.”

“Oh?” The human raised an eyebrow.

A series of footsteps marched over the wooden floor, one of which sounded oddly mechanical. Two pokemon joined her, one of which was a goldeen encased in a glass bowl, held up on mechanical legs. Tracer wanted to say something, but the other pokemon’s words cut him off.

“Who is it, Annie?” The familiar face of a female skuntank appeared over her shoulder.

Unlike many of her kind, she didn’t always carry her tail over her back. Something that had become a bit of a trademark back in her pirate days. When she spotted Tracer, she placed a protective paw over the human’s shoulder and pulled her back from the door.

Tracer frowned slightly, but it went unseen. “Sorry to intrude, Webber, but I’ve heard you’re building a ship in your back yard. Is this correct?”

Web said nothing, but Annie’s face split into a huge grin.

“That’s right, it’s mine,” she said, with way too much pride.

“Why on earth would you want to build a ship?” Tracer asked. “You’re not planning on joining the space pirates, are you?”

“Well, the truth is-” The human’s words were cut off as Web placed a paw over her mouth.

Web looked up at him and her eyes turned serious. “She merely wants to go home.”

Annie rolled her eyes to look at the skuntank then pushed her paw away from her face. A smile spread over her lips, then split into a broad grin.

“Oh right, yeh.” She turned back to Tracer. “Yeh, I wanna go home. Ship’s gonna take me back.”

The goldeen chuckled, covering his mouth with his fins.

Tracer’s brow furrowed and he stared at Annie for a good long minute.

“Lies,” muttered Widget.

“Where?” Annie leant past the door and looked up at the brightening sky.

More footsteps came from inside the house. The stairs, if Tracer’s mental map of the place was correct. He reached into his tail and fastened his claws over his trusty stick.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you in for questioning,” he said. “All of you. Also, Socket has requested I bring the human in to her, and I can’t very well leave without her.”

Web’s face turned pale and she locked her claws over Annie’s slender arm. Annie, however, didn’t look remotely phased.

“Socket’s the creepy gothitelle, right?” she asked. “Nah. I have no interest going back to her.”

“I’m afraid it’s not your decision,” said Tracer.

The door was yanked wide open and Waveform stood there, his vines pulled back into a bow string. Tracer yanked his stick from his tail, but before he could ready it, an arrow whizzed through the air and shot it from his grip. Widget let out a yelp of surprise and leapt to stand before the delphox.

Tracer’s eyes locked onto the decidueye’s and they both frowned.

“You’re taking her nowhere.” If words could poison, Waveform’s certainly would have.

“Chill out, man.” Annie placed a paw on Waveform’s wing and looked back at Tracer. “Listen. That mayor said something about taking me to a lab. I spent years with four white walls around me. I ain’t bein’ locked in no lab. Capiche?”

Tracer blinked. Lab? He shook his head slowly, but Annie had interpreted it as a denial. Her eyes narrowed, sending a chill down his spine. She waved a paw at Web and the skuntank shoved the door. Just before it was flown shut, the goldeen reared up in his bowl and sprayed a torrent of water, soaking the delphox’s ears.

“Meat eater!” he barked.

The door slammed with such force it shook the windows.

Tracer shook the water from his ears and muttered under his breath.

“Oh no you don’t.” Widget lowered his head and rammed his right fore-paw onto the ground. “We’ve got a job to finish.”

He sprang forwards, launching himself towards the door.

“Widget.”

Tracer’s voice brought him to a halt and he turned back, but the weight of his body sent him rolling towards the door. His head and shoulders collided with the wood and he let out a stunned ‘oomph!’

The door creaked open again and Annie stared down at him. “Yes?”

“Close the door!”

The voice was deep but the owner went unseen as the door was yanked from her grip. It slammed shut with such ferocity it almost sent Widget sprawling into the street.

“Ouch!” he whined, rubbing the back of his head with a paw. He looked back at the house and pouted. “That hurt.”

Tracer retrieved his stick and placed it back into his thick tail.

“Are you all right, Widget?” he asked.

“I’m fine. Just slightly concussed is all.” The eevee pulled himself to his feet and shook out his fur. “You know what? I think we should climb into their garden and check out this ship anyway.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Tracer eyed the flimsy fence. “Do you think it would hold us?”

“No.”

“I didn’t mean at the same time.”

“Neither did I.”

Tracer raised a claw to his chin and stared at the fence, calculating roughly how high it was, and from the shape of the house how much space would be on the other side. Even if he couldn’t get over himself, he could send Widget in to take some photos.

“Widget,” he said. “I’m going to lift you over the top.”

“You are not trapping me in a psychic bubble,” the eevee protested.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to. I can’t climb over it, and I can’t lift myself. And if we try to climb it, or go through it, they’ll hear us.”

Widget met his eyes, silently protesting. Tracer knew if Widget had his way he’d just charge through the flimsy wood no matter how much of a racket it made. The eevee let out a sigh and shook his head.

“Fine,” he said. “Just… be gentle, okay?”

“Always.” Tracer retrieved his stick and with one flick engulfed Widget’s small form in a large purple bubble.

Widget yelped and whined as he was lifted over the fence as slowly and carefully as Tracer could. He deposited him on the other side and released him, the bubble giving a purple flash that flowed through the cracks in the fence. Tracer peered through it, spotting Widget trembling on the other side.

“Pull yourself together,” Tracer hissed. “It’s just a little psychic bubble, not water.”

Widget looked back at him over his shoulder. It was impossible to see through his mask, but Tracer just knew he’d stuck his tongue out at him. The eevee’s fur leveled out and he skipped off towards the back yard, vanishing around the narrow corner.

Tracer’s heart was in his throat as he waited, keeping an eye on both the street and the garden fence. He could hear the tell-tale click of the camera application on Widget’s computer and his small paws plodding over the concrete floor. The occasional flap of wings came from somewhere unseen, likely zubat or murkrow lurking about around the roof tops.

Then there was a shout.

Tracer span to face the fence as tiny footsteps grew louder. Heavier ones followed, and Widget’s powerful body crashed through the fence, splintering the rotting wood into tiny pieces. Shards peppered Tracer’s fur and he ducked to shield himself. Widget landed before him and turned to bolt down the street.

“Run!” he cried.

Tracer shot after him, but not without glancing over his shoulder. A scrafty gave chase, waving his fist. He didn’t pursue them for long, though. He was more distracted by the destroyed fence.

Tracer followed Widget into an alleyway where the eevee finally came to a stop to catch his breath.

“Did you get the photos?” Tracer asked.

He stood with his back to the damp wall and looked back onto the main street. The scrafty had definitely stopped chasing them, but he didn’t know if he’d pick up the chase again.

“Oh, I got them all right.” Widget’s eyes sparkled behind his mask. “Java was right. They’re definitely building a ship.”

“Hmm.” Tracer rubbed his chin with a paw. “I still don’t understand why a human would want to build a ship.” He looked up at the sky, the sun now leaking through the smog. “It makes me wonder what city Socket found her on.”

“Humans don’t exist in System, Tracer,” said Widget. “Besides. Didn’t that human mention something about a lab?”

“She did, yes.”

“Maybe she found herself in this world and Socket wants to run some tests on her. You know… like an autopsy to see what humans are like on the inside.”

“Your imagination frightens me,” said Tracer.

Widget chuckled and shook his head. “You can’t say I’m wrong, though, can you? Why else would she want to take her to a lab? To give her a job?”

“’Dangerous and unstable’.” Tracer quoted Socket’s words as he scratched behind his ear. “I’m really worried your suspicions, despite how warped, might contain some element of truth.” He sighed. “This makes me rather apprehensive to hand her over to the mayor without knowing any more details.”

“So what are you gonna do?” Widget asked. “Question Socket about her intentions? Because if she knows you’ve botched up two chances to turn her in-”

“The first of which I was assaulted, don’t forget that.”

Widget shrugged. “Whatever. You botched up two chances.”

“So did you.”

“Yeh, but she already hates me.” The eevee chuckled and looked up at him. “You’re still in her good books. Wanna keep it that way? ‘Cos I’d be wary of admitting you’ve messed up twice.”

Tracer sighed and rubbed at his ears some more. They still felt damp. He really wanted to remove his mask and light up a cigar. Maybe it was time to head home? He glanced back down the alley then turned his back on it.

“I think I want to catch that human for myself,” he said. “Then I can question her about where she came from, work out Socket’s intentions, and see what this ship is really for.”

“Good plan,” said Widget. “But you’re gonna need a pretty big net ‘cos I doubt she’d come willingly.”
 

DreamSayer

Name's Adam.
Review for Chapter 5

This chapter is definitely a turning point for this story, having introduced some new characters and shed some light on Surge. We also got to know about System's mayor, and that she doesn't exactly have the highest moral standards in town.

I'm interested to she the repercussions and adventures this will entail. The part where Marco's bounty was being increased really gave me a One Piece vibe lol, if One Piece was about sci fi space Pirates. I'll be tuning in shortly soon to see what happens next.
 

Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
Hooray! Brief action! I'm rather partial to the bit where Macro's wind laser causes a bit of an infernal corona that totally swallows up that Carnivine. I mean, I did that myself to some degree, so naturally I'm going to be biased. Combining moves like that always makes for a fun time. And we have mention of one Root, who I suspect is our behind-the-scenes arc villain for this whole ordeal. The cyanide(?) detonators in the grass-types just make things all the more sinister here.

“Oh,” said the human. “Good morning, Mister Fox.”

Tracer’s eyes widened behind his mask. He hadn’t expected such pleasantries.

Her eyes went to Widget. “Who’s the puppy?”

“Puppy?” Widget’s fur bristled over his hackles.
I do so love Annie's silly moments like this. XP

“Chill out, man.” Annie placed a paw on Waveform’s wing and looked back at Tracer. “Listen. That mayor said something about taking me to a lab. I spent years with four white walls around me. I ain’t bein’ locked in no lab. Capiche?”
Though, I admit I'm a bit confused. It feels like sometimes you're trying to write Annie as having an accent of some sort. But it doesn't show up in all her lines and her use of slang is pretty... inconsistent, to be honest. Either have her stick with certain slang words or don't. Otherwise, it seems a bit awkward. Unless you're trying to tell me she just makes up random accents/voices on the spot?

I did like the brief standoff bit between Tracer and Waveform. That kind of tenser stuff is more what I was expecting with Annie making her decision to engage in some nefarious activities. Personally, I'd say if these are more of the types of scenes you have in mind for her going forward, then you should be fine. But if they're more like the "progress updates" in the previous chapter, you might just be better off skipping them.
 

DeliriousAbsol

Call me Del
Hooray! Brief action! I'm rather partial to the bit where Macro's wind laser causes a bit of an infernal corona that totally swallows up that Carnivine.
Thank goodness XD that was a fix to a blunder I'd made where he suddenly ended up with a fire laser instead of flying! I wanted the same results to the carnivine, so I'm glad it worked out well!

I do so love Annie's silly moments like this. XP
I had to cut out a scene in the upcoming chapter that had a couple of awesome Annie moments (and a comical 'cartoon-esque' part where Waveform swoops in with an engine), but due to the fact it slowed the chapter down I removed it. I've saved it in its own little folder though, so I'm mulling over whether to add a collection of deleted scenes post-story if I end up cutting enough of them out! XD

Though, I admit I'm a bit confused. It feels like sometimes you're trying to write Annie as having an accent of some sort. But it doesn't show up in all her lines and her use of slang is pretty... inconsistent, to be honest.
Reading this had me thinking over it a LOT this past week. Her use of foreign language is kinda random. During one of her initial scenes, she shouted 'bakudan!' while jumping for cover, for example. As for slang, I guess she picks it up and uses it when she wants to? 'Chill out' is something I often hear, although maybe less now it's no longer the 90s. To me that's fairly ordinary. Unless you meant 'capiche' which takes me back to my previous statement.
Accent though... I really had to think about this. In my head she speaks fast, loud and sharp. Occasionally drawls. And mutters. Nothing that really dictates what words she uses. As the story goes on, she ends up using the term 'y'all' a fair bit, but doesn't have a Texan accent. But I use it too, online, and I'm British! It just kinda suits her.
The more I thought about her random use of odd words, the more I came up with a reason which is pretty key (and spoilery) to her history ;) Let's just say you gave me a lot to think about. Thank you! =D

Chapter Thirty Five​

What was left of the grass army was now safely behind the impenetrable glass of Cyan City’s prison cells. Jumper paced back and forth, examining each of them through the glass. The tangrowth still looked groggy from the sedative. It had taken a long time to wear off, and in that time the small detonator that had been placed inside him had been removed. The trigger for it was in his back tooth, and that had also been removed. Unseen to all of them, beneath his heavy coat of vines, his jaw was still swollen from the process.

The only other surviving members of the mob that had attacked them in the orchard were a pair of oddish, both of which had been knocked unconscious by rocks hidden inside Torrent’s mud shot attack, and the carnivine who was recovering from severe burns. Surgery had revealed the detonator had actually malfunctioned under the heat and would either be unable to detonate, or would do so itself at some point with or without his wishes.

The servine they’d apprehended had detonated himself just like the rest of them, taking any answers he might have had with him.

Macro leant against the barrier between two cells, watching the frogadier as he plodded back and forth with his paws clasped behind his back. Anchor had gone for dinner with Switch, Heatsink, and some other members of the force, but the only appetite Macro had was for answers.

That carnivine had given him a hard time, memories of which would join his nightmares of fire for years to come. But during all that, he’d made the fatal mistake many gloating evil masterminds made. He’d spoken.

Somewhere in Cyan City was a pokemon named Root, and that Root was up to something, all while using poor Lossy’s terrified children as a bargaining tool. However, despite their efforts, the carnivine was now silent. No more information. Nothing more about Root, the oshawott twins… nothing.

There was a chance the carnivine couldn’t speak after his injuries, however. But he’d still been smirking. Even after he’d realised his detonator had been removed. That smirk told them one thing. He thought the grass army had won, and with the rate the information was coming at, they very likely had.

“There’s one thing that concerns me, Macro.” Jumper came to a halt and turned to face him. “And that’s the sheer number of grass types you said was allegedly hiding in that orchard. It vastly outweighs those we’ve managed to find - living or dead.”

Macro shrugged. “I remember a tropius, ivysaur… there’s every chance my mind were playin’ tricks on me. I don’t have fantastic night vision.”

Jumper sighed and looked through the glass cell at a cowering oddish.

“Look,” said Macro. “We might not know how many are in this city, but there are some things we do know.” He counted them off on his claws. “Giga and Gigi are missing, and their lives are likely at risk. Your orchard is full of bugs munching away your food source. Your store houses are under threat since you’ve already been struck by suicide bombing grass types. And there’s some pokemon called Root who’s got a master plan behind all of this. So whether or not the orchard is or was teaming with grass types, your city is still in pretty bad shape right now.”

Jumper leant against the glass and sighed, rubbing his face with a paw. “You’re right. The numbers don’t matter, it’s the effects. Two tiny lives are at stake… in fact, the entire of Cyan City might be at stake, but that doesn’t matter right now. We can always grow more fruit, but we can’t just bring those little twins back if anything happens to them.”

Macro shook his head. “Nope. That you can not.”

The frogadier rubbed his chin and stared at the floor. “We need to find out who this Root is and what he’s doing. But we don’t even know what species of pokemon he is.”

“He’s an ivysaur.”

The tiny voice almost sent Jumper flying into the opposite cell. Both Jumper and Macro snapped to look at the trembling oddish huddled into the furthest corner he could fit into.

“So you can speak?” Jumper gathered himself together and folded his arms. “You were less than willing to earlier.”

“You mentioned those twins,” said the oddish. “I didn’t want anything to do with that. I’ve got kids of my own! It was all Spider’s idea. He twisted Root’s leg and the pair of them decided to…” He trailed off and looked back at the floor. “That’s all I’m sayin’. They’ll kill me if I say anything else.”

“Who’s Spider?” Jumper demanded.

The oddish said nothing, keeping both of his tiny eyes fixed on his equally tiny feet.

“I’m gonna guess it’s the carnivine,” said Macro. “He didn’t seem to have any concerns about their wellbeing.”

Jumper made a thoughtful noise and turned back to the oddish. “Is he right?”

The oddish trembled and diverted his gaze to the wall beside him.

Jumper tutted and took a step back. “I’m going to take that as a yes. Hunter?”

The governor turned to face Macro and the serious look in his eyes made the space pirate’s jaw drop slightly.

“I have a proposition for you,” said Jumper. “As you’re aware, my army is at a disadvantage. That became apparent in the orchard. Fortunately, Torrent is a quick thinker, but he only managed to wipe out a small number of the oddish line. If your initial suspicions are correct, there may very well be a lot more grass types in this city than it currently appears. Yes, we have weapons that can deal with it, but I do think we need more help than I initially realised.”

“So you want more of my help?” Macro inwardly frowned at the thought.

“Yes,” said Jumper. “You, Anchor, and your talonflame friend. You could all be of valuable use to me in this regard, and I will reward you for your help.”

“You’ll give me that disk?”

Jumper shook his head slowly. “That is not mine to give. But believe me, the reward will be heavily in your favor.”

“Gotta say, Gov,” said Macro slowly. “That disk is more valuable to me than anything else you can offer.”

“Why do you want it so badly? What pleasure can it possibly give you?”

“Well, other than cheezing off Socket, not much.” Macro paused as he mulled over whether it was actually time to tell Jumper the truth. “Remember that caterpie I brought to you?”

“Yes, vividly.”

“Well.” Macro shrugged and met the frogadier’s eyes. “I got someone like that on my ship.”

“And you think a disk containing government data can help her?” Jumper tutted. “Seems a little far-fetched.”

“It doesn’t contain government data,” said Macro. “It contains her memories, and I’m trying to get them back.”

Jumper’s spine stiffened and his eyes widened slightly, but it was soon replaced by a frown.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Hunter,” he snorted. “Why on earth would Socket have her memories stored on a disk?”

“I’ll let you think about that for a while.”

Macro waved his paw and turned to the double doors, but any hope of a dramatic exit was destroyed as the ground surged and threw him off his feet. A deep rumble cut through the air, followed by sirens and a whole lot of shouting.

Jumper stooped beside him, offering a paw to help the groaning space pirate back to his feet.

“What on earth was that?” Macro mumbled. “Another attack?”

“Sounds like it.” Jumper rose to his feet and leapt through the doors.

Macro followed close behind him, quickly checking his laser was still in place at his right side. The lack of his second weapon still left him feeling rather defenseless, and his heart pounded as he followed the governor through the police station’s well-lit corridors.

The nightmarish smell of burning met his nostrils and he snorted to try and remove it. Something somewhere was on fire, and the image that filled his mind made his stomach lurch.

As they exited onto the streets, the smell grew stronger. Water pokemon gathered in the square, their voices a crescendo over the panic as a group of larger pokemon raced onto the scene. Small, green forms scattered across the square, causing yelps and screams from the onlookers as they rushed for safety. A gap in the crowd revealed a pair of turtwig, a grotle and several bulbasaur.

Jets of water and shimmering ice erupted over the square, scattering the grass types and causing the onlookers to dive back indoors where they could view the chaos from the safety of a window.

Jumper stood with his arm before Macro, holding him back as he surveyed the situation. The small grass types dodged and dived to avoid the water and ice attacks thrown at them from Cyan City’s police force. Wartortle retreated into their shells as they launched themselves into spinning attacks, bouncing off their targets and knocking them sideways. Ice engulfed two of the bulbasaur, sending them crumpling to the ground. A neatly fired water pulse knocked a servine off his feet, his long body acting as a trip wire to one of the grotle.

The prinplup that had struck him wore a smug smile, but it was wiped off his face as a large, green pokemon struck him in the back of the head, using him as a launch pad as he went soaring over his own army. The ivysaur landed on all fours at the head of his group, laughing triumphantly as he rocketed towards the end of the square.

Macro’s muzzle creased and he sneered. Root. He reached for his laser and pushed Jumper’s arm aside.

“After him!” Heatsink entered the scene and pointed with his large flipper. “Don’t let him get away!”

The ivysaur glanced back at the army then threw his head back. “Spider!”

Air whipped up around the square as the sound of heavy, flapping wings came over the roofs of the buildings. A tropius dropped down before Heatsink and his comrades and fixed the group with a devious smile. The air was filled with a sweet smell, overpowering the water type pokemon.

Macro clasped his paw over his muzzle and dragged Jumper back into the police station, slamming the door behind him. He fired a leer out of the tiny window then turned back to the governor.

“You all right?” he asked.

Jumper nodded and rubbed his head. Good. At least he was still in control of his faculties. Macro looked back out of the window. He couldn’t see much, but he could hear the crescendo of voices dying out as the pokemon retreated back into the city. All under control of that tropius’s sweet scent. The very same smell that had lured Giga and Gigi away. The same smell that had almost fooled Macro.

“He’s getting away,” Jumper muttered.

“No he ain’t.” Macro reached for his laser and strained to see more of the square from the tiny window. “You got another exit to this place? ‘Cos I wanna sneak up on that ivysaur.”

Jumper nodded and placed a paw on Macro’s shoulder.

“Come with me. You can use the fire exit.”

Macro shot one last leer at the door and turned to follow Jumper through the police station’s network of corridors.

“Any idea where he might be going?” Macro asked. “Got any food stores that way? Any places he might target?”

“There is one food store,” Jumper explained. “But that way is mostly residential housing.”

Macro snorted. “I might need a map.”

“I’ll be your map,” said Jumper.

Macro snapped his head around and fixed him with wide, violet eyes. “You’ll what?”

“You really think I’m letting you go alone?” Jumper laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“So you don’t trust me?” Macro crossed his arms and tutted.

“Far from it.” A small smile spread across Jumper’s lips. “I wouldn’t trust even one of my own ‘mon to walk into a battle on their own. Everyone needs a little back up, Hunter.”

...​

Switch swerved out of the way as a hydro pump narrowly missed him. The square had erupted into chaos, filled with disoriented water types scrambling to dodge the tropius and his allies while also squabbling amongst themselves. The sickly smell permeated the air, and he threw more embers into the fray to burn the aromatic spores before they reached him.

To make matters worse, he’d long since lost sight of Anchor. That left him a lone fire type amongst a rabble of confused and angry water types.

Another stream of water shot towards him and he barrel rolled through the air, giving it a wide berth. He miscalculated how far he was from the nearby tower block and his right wing bashed the window, shattering the glass. He rolled through it into a neat room, the shards slicing at his feathers and digging into his flesh. His face twisted in a grimace, and let himself fall onto the carpeted floor.

A shriek came from behind him and he turned his head to spot a cowering buizel beside a book case. Her entire body trembled and she didn’t take her wide, petrified eyes off him.

“Apologies, ma’am,” he said, giving her a wink.

But it only served to make matters worse as she opened her mouth wide, letting out a shrill scream. A torrent of water flew at him and he ducked. The stream flew straight through the window, dislodging bloodied shards of glass and sending them raining down onto the mob below.

Switch knew when he wasn’t wanted. He hopped onto the window ledge and launched himself into the sky. His left wing complained, but he tuned it out, desperate to find Anchor or Heatsink in the rabble.

The tropius was unmistakable, towering over many of the water types. What had the ivysaur called him? Spider? Something metal covered his right eye, with an antennae-like protrusion sticking out like the nozzle of a sniper rifle. Occasionally it would light up, reminding Switch of the antennae behind DL’s ear. Was he being controlled in some way?

Spider’s palm leaf wings fluttered, whipping up those sickly spores to further disorient Heatsink’s army and the lingering residents. The more disoriented they were, the easier they were to attack, and many of them found themselves trampled beneath the tropius’s feet or struck with a blade of air from his long, powerful wings.

Switch didn’t know much about tropius, but he knew enough about plants to know the wings weren’t the source of the sweet scent attack. Plain leaves didn’t smell sweet.

“Think, Switch,” he said. “What do you know about tropius?”

He wracked his brain, thinking back through his history in System. No… he was fairly certain he’d not met any tropius. Not even when he explored the exotic Analogue Islands. They were filled with exeggutor, oricorio in their various forms, kecleon, toucannon, and ice type vulpix. If tropius lived there, he’d not encountered any.

Maybe back in his time in the human world…

He swerved to dodge another water attack sent his way, only to move right in front of Spider’s air slash. It struck him square in the chest and he was sent barreling down into an open dumpster. He spat fruit peels onto the floor and wiped a feather across his beak. The sweet taste of overripe berries still coated his tongue, but knowing where they’d come from made him want to vomit.

Wait… fruit…

His eyes flew to what he could see of the tall grass type. His graceful neck rose above the heads of the water types and he raised his huge feet to bring them crashing down onto those smaller than him. But what stood out to Switch were the banana-like fruit hanging just below his jaw.

A grin split the talonflame’s beak and he fluttered out of the garbage to the ground. That was it. Many, many years ago he’d tried that fruit, and the one thing he remembered about it was its sweetness. He’d actually not liked it, much preferring nanab berries.

If he were to guess, that would be the source of the tropius’s sweet scent. If he could remove them, the attack would be brought to an end. He just had to get close enough to burn them away. Then he could focus on that antennae.

In two wing beats, he was back in the air. He pushed himself higher until he was above the roof tops and hovered there, searching the ground below. His keen eyesight could pick out each individual pokemon in the crowd, every single movement they made. Water types mixed with grass, but the grass types were unaffected by the sweet scent. They sent their vines and leaves whipping through the air, bringing down the defenseless water types with ease. There in the midst of the crowd he spotted a familiar face. Floppy, struggling against the attacks of his allies and the grass army. The vaporeon had seen better days, and aimed each of his ice attacks at his comrades rather than Spider or any of the other grass types. Switch could almost guarantee one hit of an ice beam would bring the giant crashing down.

A few feet away from Floppy lay Heatsink, tangled in vines and providing a trip hazard to those who were too disoriented to see the empoleon, while also posing as a barrier to those much too small to clamber over him. Switch’s heart sank. He’d really hoped Heatsink had withstood the tropius’s attacks. Where was Anchor?

He turned his head left and right, searching the crowd for the granbull. A hint of pink caught his eye and he span to get a better view. Anchor stood between two prinplup, fighting off an azumarill. The two penguin pokemon weren’t of much help though. One of them tugged at the granbull’s mowhawk while the other was too busy attacking the wall behind them.

Switch shook his head and tucked his wings to his side, swooping like a dart towards Anchor. As he drew closer, the granbull’s frantic eyes locked onto his. His long canines lit up with fire and he roared. Switch stopped short of him and beat Anchor’s face with his wings. Then his body heated up with an intense fire, and radiated it over the crowd. Spores turned to cinders, raining down around the water pokemon. It only affected a small radius, however. Spider’s disorienting spores would soon fill in the gap.

“Switch?” Anchor’s voice came out dreary, like someone who’d been woken from a deep sleep.

The talonflame grabbed him in his talons and lifted him from the crowd, carrying him high into the sky. Anchor didn’t protest, he just hung there, watching the city square shrink away beneath them.

“What happened?” he asked.

“That tropius is using sweet scent to disorient everyone,” Switch explained.

“Then why weren’t you affected?”

“I was for a short while but I burned them away trying to attack someone else,” said Switch. “I’ve been watching Spider’s movements since then, and I think he’s being controlled by that antennae over his eye.”

“Spider?” Anchor blinked and looked up at him.

Switch nodded. “I believe that’s what the ivysaur called him. But that doesn’t matter. He needs stopping if we’re going to turn this battle around.”

“And how do you suggest we do that?” Anchor’s voice came out clearer now, the effects of sweet scent leaving his system. “We can’t get close enough to him without-”

The strange antenna by Spider’s face flashed over and over until it turned orange, holding the light steady. He opened his mouth wide and roared. The orange light flashed, expanding out over the city square. Buildings exploded and water pokemon were blown backwards, their bodies smashing into stone walls where they were crushed under the rubble.

Switch’s beak fell open and he dropped towards the ground. Anchor let out a shout, bringing the talonflame back around. He steadied himself in the air, keeping his wings beating so he could hold both himself and the granbull airborne.

“Well,” said Anchor. “That ain’t no antenna, is it?”

Switch shook his head slowly. “What on earth is it?”

Whatever it was, it was flashing intermittently again, like a beacon in the dense dust cloud. Spider focused all his attention on flapping his wings and sending up more spores. The crowd he was fighting had significantly diminished. Many lay crushed under rocks, and the grass types now wildly outnumbered the remaining water types. Switch could no longer see Floppy or Heatsink. Dust filled the square, too thick in parts and he deeply hoped they’d survived whatever that was.

“It looked like a solar beam,” he said.

Anchor nodded. “It’s an amplifier.”

“A what?”

“A type of weapon,” Anchor explained. “They’re typically used for beam attacks like hyper beam and solar beam. They absorb the energy required and build it up until it hits maximum capacity, often to two or three times the original strength of the move.”

“Then what do we do?” Switch asked. “Can we defeat a pokemon like that?”

“We can try, but I recommend doing so between recharges. We can either take out the amplifier, which means his solar beams might be a lot more frequent. Or we can try to take him out. Use our fire attacks while avoiding his sweet scent. Given we’d need to get up close for that, I might not be of much use to you.”

“I can keep burning the spores away?” said Switch.

“That’s all well and good, but I’d quite like you to hit this Spider guy if I’m honest,” said Anchor.

“All right,” said Switch. “Well, here’s my plan. As rushed as it is.” He swerved to dodge a stray water pulse sent their way from the dust cloud below. “I drop you behind Spider, or on his back, and you aim your fire fang at his fruit. Take them out, you stop his sweet scent.”

“You sure about that?” Anchor grumbled.

“No, but it’s all I’ve got right now. I’ve watched him. His wings don’t create the smell, he fans it out with those. So it has to be generated somewhere, and that’s my best guess.”

Anchor grunted and gave a curt nod.

“Well then,” he said. “I can give your plan a try, but while I do that make sure you keep hitting him. Hard. Take out the amplifier if you have to, otherwise Cyan City will be reduced to rubble before night fall.”

“Right. But first we need to get close enough,” said Switch. “And I have a plan. You see the green leafy shields beside his eyes? They would create a blind spot. Once we’re towards his rear, he won’t be able to see us.”

Anchor nodded. “I hadn’t considered that. Good spot. But how do we get there? He sees us, we’re stomped.”

“If I can use the dust cloud, it will cover us. Hopefully enough that he won’t see us until it’s too late.”

“The dust cloud?” Anchor looked up at him and grinned. “Smart. I like it. Were you a ninja once or somethin’?”

Switch chuckled and shook his head. “No, but I’ve been in enough battles to know how to use terrain to my advantage. Now… I hope you’re ready.”

“I was born ready.”

Switch winked at Anchor then tucked in his wings. He swooped down, keeping them above the dust cloud. At its thickest point, he whipped the cloud up with his wings to surround them. The dust filled their nostrils and Switch fought the urge to choke. Instead, he breathed out slowly, and kept his golden eyes trained on the shadowy form of the tropius.

His long neck twisted away from them, and Switch could see the antenna-like weapon blinking yellow. Slowly. Spider raised his wings and beat them, sending the dust cloud away from him. The light blinked faster, pulsing like a heart beat.

The sun.

Switch glanced towards the sky. Overcast. Not a ray of sunshine in sight. He stifled a chuckle and followed the dust cloud to Spider’s side. Just like Switch had predicted, the leaves on either side of Spider’s face blocked out most of his peripheral vision.

Switch swooped up towards his back, getting Anchor as close to the tropius’s neck as he dared. The pair exchanged nods, and Switch let go.

The granbull landed at the base of Spider’s neck. The entire of Spider’s body went rigid, his wing beats freezing in mid flap. He craned his neck around, his face twisted with rage and confusion.

“Now!” Anchor roared.

Switch watched as the granbull launched himself up the tropius’s neck. Then Switch arced towards his head, flexing his talons to grab the amplifier. With two pokemon attacking him from either end, Spider didn’t know where to focus his attention first. He swung his head around to dislodge Anchor while trying to catch Switch in his jaws. His large wings distorted the air, making it difficult for Switch to fly. He twisted himself in mid air, stretching out his left talons to grab the amplifier. They locked over the protrusion, but Spider snatched his head back. The nozzle slipped from his grip, unharmed, and Spider brought his head back around in a brutal swing. He struck Switch in the chest, knocking all wind out of him. He flew backwards towards Spider’s rear and crashed into the ground. Pain jolted through his back and his wings lay spread-eagled at his sides.

The tropius bucked, bringing his hind feet up into the air, then crashing back down onto Switch. His eyes opened wide and a silent scream escaped his beak. He screwed his eyes shut again, bracing himself for impact. A scream split the air and a thud echoed by his right ear. He snapped his eyes back open and a sigh of relief left him. Spider’s rear end was coated with ice, and he saw his head swinging on his neck as he flailed, trying to dislodge Anchor as he held onto his throat with his flaming jaws. The yellow fruit that hung from Spider’s neck were ablaze, and the flames spread over the leaves on his head and ears. Terrified grass pokemon stood back from him, watching with their mouths hanging open. The braver ones sent razor leaf and vine whip attacks up at the flames to try and beat them out, even if it meant the fire spreading to their own bodies.

Switch pushed himself to his feet, wheezing heavily. A lithe form stood beside him and he looked up to see which pokemon had come to his aide. Floppy stood panting with his left fore-paw raised, his livid eyes fixed on the tropius. His blue fur was peppered with dust and blood, and deep, crimson rivets ran along his shoulders and back. Even his right ear was torn, dripping blood onto the dusty floor.

“Thank you,” Switch gasped.

“Don’t thank me just yet,” said Floppy. “The battle isn’t over.”

A huge roar came from Spider and he reared back onto his hind legs. Switch realised with horror that his wing beats had cleared a gap in the dust. The amplifier lit up orange and fired another beam into Cyan City, but it arced backwards as Spider bucked, cutting through one of the sky scrapers like butter. Rubble rained down around them, and both Switch and Floppy leapt aside to avoid it. Some of the grass types were less fortunate, their wails of terror almost deafening.

Switch skidded to a halt and turned back to the chaos. The dust was thick and heavy, but he could still make out Spider, bucking and swinging as he tried to dislodge Anchor’s fangs from his throat.

“We need to end this,” said Floppy. “Otherwise they’re going to destroy the entire city.”

The vaporeon lowered his body and breathed out another ice beam. This one struck one of the frightened grotle standing back from the tropius. Ice exploded over his body, freezing his scream before it could leave his lips.

Floppy fired Switch a sideways glare. “Pull yourself together and lets turn this battle around.”

Switch nodded and fluttered into the air. His body heated up as flames danced over his feathers. Drawing closer to the tropius and his allies, he kept one eye on Floppy. The lone vaporeon raced into the thick of the grass army, throwing his ice attacks at them in quick succession. Vines struck his fragile body, sending him crumpling to the floor.

Then Switch dropped, letting the heat race from his feathers in a violent heat wave. The last thing he heard were the grass army’s frantic screams, then his own as Spider’s hulking, blazing carcass landed right on top of him.
 
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Ambyssin

Winter can't come soon enough
So, we're getting a bit of a clearer picture as to who our arc villain is and what he's up to. Though things are still rather vague. Apparently Root wants to take Cyan City down, but I'm not entirely sure why. It's also so strange just how much leeway Macro's getting with Jumper. Or maybe it's just strange how much the guy's willing to trust Macro and rely on his help. I keep expecting something to go wrong, here. Like, Macro to get sold out. Maybe I'm just finding it a bit strange his crew mates are going out for a meal with government troops. <.<;

Oh, wait, it doesn't actually last that long because surprise Root attack out of nowhere! Well, that was... very abrupt. But effective. I was wondering if there would be a lull in the action before Root comes into the fray. Unlike the start of the chapter, I do think the Jumper/Macro team up here is framed in a much more believable manner (i.e. we're trying to save our hides, here).

As for the Switch part. This is probably the most threatening I've ever seen Sweet Scent manage to be in the fics I've read so far. And combining it with some sort of massive power aplication device to cause a ton of damage is pretty cool. His plan is practically Macro-levels of reckless. But I do lack that Tropius' larger frame is used to cause some serious damage in this battle. It's a nice use of a Pokémon attirbutes (and Dex characteristics) to do stuff beyond their typical learning movesets. And, at least, it's interesting given how a lot of the more creative battling elements so far have been related to the tech in System, as opposed to Pokémon characteristics. What I'm saying is, it's a nice change of pace. ^^
 
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