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Tales of Reborn: The Six Rifts of the Heaven

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheAlpar, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Warnings: This fic contains swearing, blood and violence. Reader discretion is advised.

    Author Notes: This one might take some explaining for it to make a bit more sense. This fic is a translation and adaptation of a DnD-like Pokemon campaign played a few years ago by some friends, which is why the cast is so expansive at the beginning and the characters act wildly different. I imagine it as The Adventure Zone meets Pokemon, in a way.

    The reason I'm adapting it is because, honestly, this is one of the greatest Pokemon stories I've ever seen and both the DM and the characters managed to weave together such an incredible, creative world that I can't help but be amazed with it, and I hope all the readers will be as well. Of course I'm adapting this with full permission of the DM Yuki, the man who came up with all of this. Full credits go to him and all the players.

    With that said, please enjoy.

    -------------------------------------

    Lost Anthology

    That night the station had been swallowed by a harsh cold, enough to pierce lungs and turn skin as pale as marble. The only visible light nearby belonged to a rusty lamp sitting atop a metal pole. It twinkled in and out once every few seconds, threatening to plunge the whole place into darkness.

    No train had circulated through those tracks in years, and by all means the place should've been abandoned. And yet, strangely, three dark figures stood behind one of the platforms. The first two leaned back on the freezing benches sprinkled all around. The third was the one closest to the rails, arms crossed and expression darkened.

    The clock struck midnight, startling them with its buzzing, electronic gong. Two round, yellow lights could be seen approaching from the east, making the ground rumble the closer they got.

    The train that greeted them had certainly seen better days. The rectangular advertisements at the sides had been turned into an incomprehensible garble of bright colors. The windows were so dirty they could barely make out the light inside and the ceiling and lower parts of the wagons were covered in a thick layer of rust.

    It opened its gates with a whirring sound of nails against chalkboard. Its front lights illuminated a worn sign that read Viridian City Train Station.

    Two of the three people looked at each other for a moment, and set foot inside the ninth wagon. The remaining dark figure turned away from them and entered through the tenth.

    The train stood still for a few seconds before roaring back to life, disappearing into the night soon after.

    -------------------------------------
    The inside of the train wasn't much better than the outside, they realized.

    The seats were made of cheap plastic and a grey, dirty carpet covered most of the floor. The edges of the windows were being consumed by a thick layer of filth that made it impossible to see anything through it. Some of them feared the ceiling would collapse any second, as its whirring roars threatened to do.

    The train gained velocity at a slow, steady pace. At a distance the persistent sound of something crinkling against metal didn't sit well with some of the passengers, who shifted uncomfortably in their seats and focused their senses on their surroundings.

    There were three on the ninth wagon. Looking curiously at the door was a tall man with a messy appearance, wearing a garish red and black jacket and a gigantic yellow thread that hung from his hip toward his left leg. Next to him another young man tapped his foot impatiently, hands on his pockets and worry clear on his face. His brown hair was somewhat covered by a pair of black triangular glasses that hung above his forehead, and the only thing protecting him from the cold was a jacket with a fuzzy white collar. The man who'd entered the wagon alongside him was standing in the middle of it, staring past one of the windows with a look of concentration.

    The one with glasses ruffled his hair nervously and grabbed a tarot card from the deck holster hanging from his hip. Closing his eyes he threw it upwards, managing to catch it flawlessly. When he opened them again the image of a winged angel with a trumpet met him on the front of the card.

    "Inverted Judgement... an unexpected travel?" he whispered to himself. "Wait... that's already happening."

    Mom was right, I should've trained more.

    He couldn't help but laugh at himself, and forming a soothing smile he turned towards the two men sharing the wagon with him.

    "How about you two? Also traveling because of necessity?"

    The tallest one stared at him with a curious, somewhat unhinged look. A pair of unfocused eyes could be seen behind his dark, tea shade glasses.

    "Necessity, you say?" His voice was strangely calm, and yet they could feel laughter bubbling underneath it. "Let's see, if my math isn't wrong then there's three of us here, plus the four in the wagon in front of us and two in the one behind. Either this is all a coincidence or we all got the same letter and we came here because we're the perfect group of credulous idiots."

    Without giving time for a response he turned towards the door leading to the next wagon, hands inside the pockets of his jacket.

    "I'm going to make friends, wanna join me?"

    I wonder if they got my sarcasm, he thought to himself. Wait… they're complete strangers. Ah, nevermind…

    The one who hadn't spoken yet approached him with a gentle smile and put a hand on his shoulder.

    "Forgive me, partner, but wouldn't it be courteous to introduce ourselves?" His tone was low and soothing. "I know what you're thinking: 'This person who doesn't even know me is accusing me of impoliteness!'"

    The garish man stared at him as if he didn't understood half the words coming out of his mouth. Either that or he was extremely drunk.

    "In any case…" he continued, still smiling, "my name is Siegfried, it's a pleasure to meet you. Well… technically it depends on you whether you want to introduce yourself or not and… ah… I'm sorry, I tend to ramble sometimes."

    The man he was speaking to showed him a smile that, he realized, couldn't belong to anyone entirely sane.

    "Name's Ñako." He winked playfully. "What about mister tarot over there?"

    "You can call me Rhin." The third man also smiled, saving the card inside the deck. "A pleasure."

    -------------------------------------
    Four other people were in the tenth wagon. Leaning against one of the chairs at the back was a young girl with bright red hair, eyes lost on the barely recognizable landscape outside. Standing close to her but looking in the opposite direction stood a well dressed boy wearing a scarf, a white beret and a long, brown coat. A man with disheveled, spiky white hair sat down far from everyone else, a constant frown on his face.

    But strangest of all was the one who'd just stepped inside through the Viridian Station. He wore a wide, bright smile and a simple-minded look, yet what surprised the rest of the passengers the most was his strange hair. A puffy, pink afro.

    A dry chuckle came from where the white haired man was sitting, his eyes going from the newcomer's unusual hair to the window next to him.

    He let out a sigh, mist escaping his lips, "I don't like it."

    The young man with the pink afro turned towards him and smiled.

    "There is no need for such praise, my young fan!" he spoke, startling everyone with the volume of his voice. "I can see in your eyes your incipient admiration!"

    They all turned to look at him, with varying degrees of surprise and confusion. They stood quiet for a few seconds, and the eccentric man took this as an opportunity to keep speaking.

    "If that's what you wish, then I shall introduce myself." He raised his palm toward the ceiling, his hair glistening under the fluorescent lights of the wagon. "I… am Vard!"

    The two other men exchanged a puzzled look, and the girl at the back simply looked away, disinterested. Vard interpreted this as a result of his endless charm having boggled the minds of his poor companions. He needed to act fast, to regain their attention.

    "Now, my indecipherable friends…" His expression turned darker, perhaps unconsciously. "Let's say… I make this wagon explode."

    That certainly got the girl's attention, whose sharp yellow eyes quickly turned towards Vard. Both her and the white haired man moved their hands to their belts, where their only Pokeball resided.

    However, the sharply dressed boy simply let out a laugh, half incredulous and half sarcastic.

    "A pleasure, Vard." He raised his palm. "Let's say you actually do blow it up. Well, I'm curious as to what method you'd employ to accomplish such a thing, but…"

    He formed a satisfied, smug smile and crossed his arms.

    "I'm afraid the world isn't ready to see me blown to bits, and I'm sure the same applies to someone of your… uniqueness." He slightly bent his knee and put a hand over his stomach, in the form of a mocking bow. "My name is Mycroft, by the way. Enchanté."

    -------------------------------------
    In the middle of the eighth wagon stood a short, dark haired girl with a thick wool hat covering part of her head. Specks of ash fell from the cigarette she was holding in her right hand. Her eyebrows seemed glued together and the incessant tapping of her feet didn't help with the calm demeanor she was trying to portray outwardly.

    Her mind was in the process of going through every possible escape route, should go south. Which, knowing her luck, could happen any second.

    What if they were the ones to send her the letter? She thought. No, there's no way they'd bother with something so elaborate if they already knew where she was hiding.

    "This is something else," she whispered to no one, leaning against the nearest wall. It was cold as all ****.

    Close to her another man laid down between two of the seats, fingers playing with a rusty Pokeball. He had short, brown hair and wore a messy white shirt with the image of a sunflower painted on the middle.

    After a couple minutes of fiddling with the device he pressed the button on the front. A flash of light blinded him momentarily, and from it emerged a small, blue bird with two wings that looked like they were made of cotton. His soft brown eyes set on his trainer.

    "The **** do you want?" he asked with a bored expression.

    "Bluu!" the creature replied excitedly.

    He narrowed his eyes and let out a sigh of irritation, "Ah, dunno why I bother. Hope you don't end up being a weak piece of **** or whatever cause I'm gonna throw you off this thing."

    The Swablu didn't seem to understand his words and started bouncing on top of his legs. The man looked towards the girl standing a few feet from him and studied her carefully.

    She seemed tough, that was for sure. Alert and probably ready for any kind of fun that might happen that night. Not the kind of girl he'd want to mess with.

    "Yo, Flaca." He winked at her. "What do I call you? Name's Silver."

    She took the butt of the cigarette to her mouth and exhaled deeply, closing her eyes as she tasted it. A thin line of smoke escaped her lips, turning her eyes itchy.

    "Sabrina," was her simple response. "And don't call me…"

    Before she could finish a sudden jolt almost threw both of them to the ground. Silver leaned into the wall and tried to look through one of the nearby windows, eyes narrowed in concentration.

    The landscape outside stood still. The train had stopped.

    Sabrina took a step back and grabbed her only Pokeball, biting down on the cigarette almost strongly enough to break it. There was no need for panic, she assured herself. It had probably just been…

    The sound of shattered glass made its way from one of the nearby wagons towards them.

    She cursed under her breath and opened the Pokeball, its light forming the shape of a yellow, triangular Pokemon with small blue eyes and a big mouth of perfect white teeth. The Snorunt started bouncing in place happily while Sabrina briefly considered kicking her before remembering she might need the stupid thing. Next to her Silver got to his feet, eyes glued to the door leading to the ninth wagon.

    What do we do? his expression seemed to ask.

    "We ambush whoever that was and beat them up in the most cowardly way possible," she replied, dropping the cigarette to the ground and stepping on it. "I hate complications."

    Sharing a nod they walked towards the door, kicking it in unison.

    -------------------------------------
    Two of the men in the ninth wagon threw their Pokeballs into the air at the same time. From Rhin's appeared a blue creature with an amphibian face and two long, thin arms. The one belonging to Siegfried was a short anthropomorphic fighting Pokemon with white sweatbands on his wrists and three protrusions coming out of his head.

    "Those things are ugly," the garish man spoke, hands on his pockets and looking very casual for the situation.

    "Alright!" the first yelled, smiling widely at his Croagunk. "Can't have a party without a main event, and we're not gonna make them wait! Keroro, get ready!"

    Siegfried raised an eyebrow, surprised by the boy's sudden change in attitude. Where had his apparent mild mannerisms gone to? And… were his eyes a different color or was the exhaustion messing with him?

    "Itsuki, we are under attack," he told his Tyrogue, deciding not to think about it too much. "Stay alert. We should go where the others are…"

    Before he could finish two dark blue creatures jumped inside the wagon, moving so fast they had trouble following them with their eyes. They landed in front of their Pokemon and brandished their sharp claws in unison, forming a wide and sadistic smile. A long, red feather adorned their heads, growing from the back of their left ear.

    The Sneasel jumped forward and slashed at their opponents, who barely got out of the way before their bodies could be shredded by their claws.

    -------------------------------------​

    The redhead jumped from her seat as soon as the windows started to crack, as if she were expecting such a thing to happen.

    "Let's go!" she yelled with a commanding tone, and started running to the door leading toward the ninth wagon, grabbing Mycroft by the arm.

    They heard the sound of shattering glass, too close for comfort.

    Vard smiled, "Looks like I only needed to proliferate my intentions for the wagon to start exploding. Sometimes I even surprise myself!"

    He was the first to cross the door, pushing it aside with a flourish of his arm and showing himself to Siegfried's group. There were two strange, dark Pokemon between them, which Vard didn't seem worried about.

    "There's no time to admire my hair!" he exclaimed, taking a Pokeball from his belt. "I don't know your intentions you foul beings, but I will not let you harm these innocent bystanders!"

    The light from the Pokeball materialized on top of the man's hair, and from it emerged what appeared to be a brown cylinder with two small eyes and a pink nose, its body hidden under a pile of dirt.

    I wonder where the dirt comes from every time, Vard thought to himself.

    "Everyone, stand back! The overwhelming power I'm about to unleash might drive you all mad!" He threw his hand forward. "Digda, Sand Attack!"

    From his mouth the Diglett spat a small torrent of dirt that hit the Sneasels in the eyes, rendering them momentarily blind.

    "Keroro, Cross Chop!"

    "Itsuki, Mach Punch!"

    Without being able to see where the attacks came from the dark creatures couldn't defend against the blows of the Croagunk and Tyrogue, and with their overwhelming weakness to fighting attacks they fell unconscious immediately.

    All nine passengers finally converged in the same wagon and the eyes of the newcomers fell on the immobile bodies of the recently defeated Pokemon. The girl with the black wool hat stared doubtfully, ready to order an attack were it necessary.

    However she saw the confusion in the faces of the rest. They probably had nothing to do with what had happened. In the other extreme of the wagon the red haired girl spoke:

    "What was…?"

    The door separating them from the eighth wagon was torn from its hinges, falling to the ground with a deaf thump that turned everyone's attention to it. The cigarette almost fell from Sabrina's mouth as she saw what was on the other side.

    Oh you cannot be serious.

    Three tall figures walked through the recently made hole, cloaked in black robes. Identical red masks covered everything except their eyes.

    A Spearow flew close to the one on the right, while the one on the left had her hand on top of the head of a Drowzee. However that paled in comparison to the creeping horror that sent shivers through their spines as they saw what the one in the middle was holding in his hands. A thin wooden pole with a curved blade at the end of it, as long as the man's torso.

    A scythe. That's a goddamn scythe, Sabrina thought, eyes wide like plates.

    "So this is the talented group of trainers he was talking about…" They heard his rough voice muffled through the mask. "They don't look like much."

    The woman with the Spearow nodded, "Still, I'm sure they'll entertain us all the way to Saffron."

    Okay yeah, **** this.

    "Son of a…" Sabrina whispered as she took a step back, looking at her Pokemon. "Adler, Powder Snow at his arms! And don't screw it up!"

    Attack first, ask questions later. That's the rule she'd committed herself to and she wasn't about to break it when a tall bastard with a scythe appeared in what was supposed to be a pleasant travel towards her next job.

    The Snorunt spat a cloud of icy mist that made its way towards the three… reapers, she decided she'd call them. However it didn't seem enough to freeze anything as it barely bothered them.

    The garish looking man was the next to act. From behind his back he grabbed what looked like a folded shuriken, each blade as long as a sword. Smiling, he jumped forward with weapon in hand, aiming at the one in the middle.

    "SUCK MY D…!"

    His war cry was cut short as his foot slipped on one of the big pieces of glass, sending him forward to the ground face first. The shuriken flew to the side and one of its blades stuck to a nearby chair.

    Even the three strangers trying to kill them couldn't help but stare in confusion as the man got to his feet, clothes covered in glass, and looked around with a slight blush on his face.

    "Ah… did any of you see my shuriken flying around? It does that."

    That was enough to bring everyone back to reality, and those who'd just been staring in disbelief grabbed their Pokeballs, releasing their partners into the shaking wagon.

    "Geek, it's your turn!" the red haired girl yelled. "Pound!"

    "Sousuke, these are your opponents." the quiet man spoke. "Bite."

    "L-Ludovic, do your best!" Mycroft ordered, voice shaking. "Quick Attack!"

    From the simultaneous light of the three Pokeballs appeared a green, bipedal reptile with a red stomach, an angry looking chubby creature with red eyes and a canine looking Pokemon with black dreads. The Treecko, Larvitar and Riolu threw themselves at the man with the scythe before he had time to react.

    "Spearow, cover us!" The cloaked woman yelled.

    The flying Pokemon flapped his wings energetically, creating a strong gust of wind that hit all the trainers and managed to throw Geek and Ludovic back. Sousuke, being made of stone and considerably heavier, was the only one to get close enough to attack, but before he could close his maw around the man's leg the Spearow flew down and intercepted it, hitting him in the face with its wing.

    Silver threw his hand forward, "Flancito, throw a… uh… ****ing, Dragon Rush or something, at that guy's arm!"

    Swablu surrounded her soft wings with a dark red energy and flew towards the one with the scythe. She crashed against his shoulders and almost managed to topple him to the ground, but he stomped back strongly with one foot and smiled under his mask.

    "Looks like you know how to defend yourselves…" he whispered, and set his dark eyes on the trainer who'd just ordered the attack. "Good, that makes it all the more interesting!"

    He moved so fast Silver almost didn't have time to react. The blade of his scythe cut through the air in an arc, tearing through his shirt and scratching his shoulder and part of his arm as he jumped backwards. He landed next to Sabrina and almost collapsed from the pain and his poor footing. Droplets of blood fell from the folds of his shirt to his hand.

    Next to him everyone's Pokemon did their best to try and pierce the psychic barrier the Drowzee had created, while the Snorunt at Sabrina's feet hopelessly spat ice forward, which evaporated as soon as it left her mouth.

    "They do know how to play…" the cloaked girl said sarcastically. "I can see why Mullac is interested in them."

    As soon as she uttered those words a wave of psychic energy hit all the Pokemon on their side of the wagon. The Tyrogue, Croagunk and Riolu fell to their knees, grabbing their heads in their hands as they let out a pained cry. The rest flinched but managed to resist it for the most part, although it certainly stopped them in their tracks.

    The man with the scythe raised his hand to the side, "In any case, I doubt they're good enough to get to Saffron alive. Sorry kids, but it looks like this is your last stop."

    Sabrina clenched her teeth, hands closing into fists. She looked down to her own Pokemon and almost heaved at the sight of her pathetic attempts.

    This isn't working.

    If there was any time to bring out the big guns, this was it. Whatever those robed bastards were talking about was irrelevant; all that mattered was that she left the train alive, and that wouldn't happened if she didn't do something. Fast.

    Her backpack fell to the ground with a weak thump and she kneeled down to open it, smiling at what was inside. Without doubt she grabbed a heavy, worn out crossbow from its folds and raised it with difficulty, its weight making her arms shake.

    Even though she couldn't see their faces she greatly enjoyed the gasps of surprise coming from the reapers' mouth.

    Weren't expecting this, were you?

    "Get back!" she yelled to the rest. "And you, Silver, try not to die! I'm gonna need all of you to get out of this one!"

    She raised the weapon to her shoulder and took a deep breath, which wasn't easy in the middle of such a commotion. She focused her eyes on the man's hand and pulled the trigger. He tried to move out of the way but the bolt was too fast and it lunged into the back of his hand. Letting out a cry of pain he let the scythe slip through his fingers, as his two companions stared at him in horror.

    "Nice one, Flaca!" Silver let out a high pitched laugh. "I owe you one!"

    Before anyone could stop him he ran forward and threw himself to the floor, grabbing the ghastly weapon with his right hand. The cloaked man attempted to step on him but he managed to roll to the side and get on his feet without much trouble. Something that surprised the rest of the group as he still had a pretty ugly wound on his shoulder.

    "Agh, you…!" The robed man screamed, taking a couple steps backwards. "How did you…!?"

    "Come on pendejo, you're gonna wet yourself 'cause I stole your toy?" He brandished the scythe with a strange familiarity, pointing it at its previous owner. "Party's only getting started and I ain't leaving without your head as a trophy!"

    Everyone stared dumbfounded at his bravado, and even Sabrina couldn't help but whistle.

    Siegfried took a step forward and pointed towards the two Pokemon still obstructing them, "Itsuki, destroy that barrier."

    The Tyrogue didn't need to be told twice. With a strong punch he shattered the psychic wall in front of them, sending a jolt of pain through the Drowzee's body, who fell to one knee and almost slammed into the ground. She had one eyed closed, and her breathing was irregular.

    "L-Ludovic, finish that tapir abomination, s'il vous plait!" Mycroft ordered.

    "That's what I'm talking about! Keroro, to the bird!" Rhin followed.

    Riolu disappeared in a flash and materialized behind Drowzee. With a resounding kick he sent her a few feet forward, where she fell unconscious. Meanwhile Croagunk jumped with his powerful legs and buried one of his thin hands in the Spearow's gut, throwing him to the ground.

    Burning anger could be seen through the holes of the leader's mask, and his two partners stared at each other worriedly as their Pokemon fell before them.

    "This… can't be happening…" he spoke between gasps, grabbing his own bleeding hand. "How did Mullac find these trainers before B… no, it doesn't matter. None of you will leave this train alive!"

    A few of the trainers smiled at his words. A couple of them furrowed their brows and took a step backward, and Vard simply threw his palm to the skies again as he spoke.

    "Evil beings who dare importunate Vard and his incredible friends…!" his voice broke through the cold entering through the wagon, filling everyone with a strange kind of warmth, "you will suffer the wrath of this rapacious breeder!"

    He pointed at the three robed creatures, and everyone followed the scream that came out of his mouth.

    "Attack!"

    All Pokemon with the exception of Digda jumped forward, and the combined power of their assault almost destroyed the wagon they were in. Screams of agony came out of their opponent's mouths as they all collapsed to the ground, covered in blood and barely breathing.

    As soon as the three of them stopped moving the train came back to life. The sudden jolt put all of them in alert and ready to fight, until they saw the landscape passing by through the windows. Mycroft and Rhin let out sighs of relief.

    "Well, that was convenient," the red haired girl said. "Think we were supposed to kill them to advance?"

    "Looks like it."

    Ñako started walking towards the three presumed corpses. For a moment most of them thought he was about to loot them, but he simply kneeled to the side of one of the seats and grabbed the strange shuriken stuck to its side.

    "Agh, there we go..." He smiled as he pulled it out and made it spin on his hand. "So… there's eight of you, and with me it'd be nine. In my town we call that a pretty nice group."

    He folded it back to its original size and hung it on his back, turning towards the rest of them.

    "And speaking of my town…" he smiled. "The name's Ñako, and I'm from Fuchsia."

    The rest of them with the exception of Vard exchanged looks of Is this really the time?

    "You might have heard of me; I used to flirt with Koga's daughter every chance I got. I was also feared by the local mafias and had the title of sex symbol." Most of them raised an eyebrow at his words. "That's all a lie of course, except the flirting part. Anyway, my point is that it's a good time for introductions and stuff."

    A few of them shifted in place, unsure if it really was the time for such a thing, especially with what they assumed were three corpses still in the same wagon as them. After a few seconds of silence the owner of the Tyrogue took a step forward and spoke with a calm, low tone.

    "I'm Siegfried, from Viridian." He performed a short bow. "I think it would be most fortuitous to tend to the wounded, especially our friend with the scythe."

    The man with the disheveled white hair spoke next, holding a small revolver on his right hand. Everyone close to him silently wondered why he hadn't used it during the fight.

    "Wolfswift," he whispered. "Ready to break this party."

    "My name is Mycroft." The sharply dressed man introduced himself again. "I'm from Violet, and I'm traveling towards Saffron. You already met my Riolu, Ludovic, and… I think that's it. Any questions?"

    The red haired girl nodded slowly, "I'm Samantha, or Sammy if you'd like. I'm here because of a letter I received."

    The boy with black glasses spoke next, smiling brightly.

    "Of course, how impolite of me! My name's Rhin, and I'm from Viridian City. I'm a tarotist by trade and my amphibian friend here is Keroro!"

    Silver was barely listening, eyes fixated on the Swablu flying around him. Both his scythe and shoulder were dripping with blood, though he didn't seem to mind.

    "The **** are you looking at with that flan face?" he asked, shaking his head. "Think I forgot about that Dragon Rush that did nothing!?"

    He realized everyone was staring at him, and promptly let out a nervous laugh.

    "Ah… can't be the only jerk who doesn't say anything." He scratched the back of his head. "They call me Silver and I'm from the Orange Islands. Came to Kanto for a vacation after they kicked me out of my old job."

    Without prompt Vard took a step forward, and as he'd done twice already he raised his palm to the ceiling. Those who had previously met him expected him to break into a poetic spiel, but he only said three words.

    "I… am Vard!"

    The girl with the black hat felt everyone's eyes fall on her. She had to take a few seconds to think the situation over. Did they really want her to…? Judging by the looks they were giving her, they did.

    I must look like an antisocial dick, she thought to herself. And they say appearances lie.

    She didn't want to associate herself with these people, even if they'd just helped her survive a horror movie situation. Still, it was possible she'd need them in the future, so she didn't have much choice. Even the weird guy with the shuriken (why did he look so familiar?) had introduced himself. She let out a deep sigh.

    "Sabrina. I'm from…" she smiled to herself, "let's say I'm from Saffron, why not."

    She couldn't help but roll her eyes as she felt the tension evaporate from the air. As if knowing these people's names could ever make her trust them.

    As soon as she thought that, the sound of coughing reached them from behind. They turned quickly towards the pile of bodies, where the leader was slowly pushing himself upwards with his bloodied hands.

    There was a strange gleam in his eyes, a mix of hate and a twisted form of happiness.

    "You… you're all a bunch of talented trainers, aren't you?" He laughed through the blood spurting out of his mouth. "It's a shame you'll never make it to Saffron. This train isn't gonna stop, and when… once it reaches the last station…"

    Light shone inside the wagon, and everyone turned towards the windows. Through it they could see the outline of a gigantic city in the distance. They were approaching fast.

    "It'll crash…" the man struggled to keep himself conscious, still smiling. "You'll all die with it."

    And with that he collapsed, and didn't move again.

    The trainers stood frozen for a couple seconds, until Ñako took a Pokeball from his belt. From its light appeared a yellow creature with closed eyes and thin limbs, who appeared to be sleeping.

    "Well, that sounds lovely but…" he said with a nervous smile as he grabbed the Abra by the arm. "That ain't the end I want. See you later suckers! Ah… you come with me."

    Without further explanation he grabbed Mycroft by the shoulder and urged his Riolu to do the same.

    "Paja, Teleport!"

    The four of them disappeared in a flash of light, leaving the rest understandably startled.

    "We need to jump!" Siegfried raised his voice for the first time, walking towards one of the doors and forcing it open. "The train has to slow down when it nears the station, even if it won't stop. That will be our chance!"

    He threw himself forward, his Tyrogue hanging from his back. The rest of the trainers stared for a couple heartbeats before they started running around the wagon and prepared themselves. Sabrina, not caring about keeping appearances anymore, ran to the pile of bodies and grabbed the chubby psychic Pokemon laying down on the floor, still unconscious. Silver and Wolfswift followed her example, stealing the Spearow and one of the Sneasel respectively.

    "Adler, we're going. And you pal, you'll come with me," Sabrina said, the Drowzee hanging on her back. "As for the rest of you… hey, it was fun."

    "Alright! Spearow in hand, scythe with daddy…" Silver recounted, smiling to himself. "That's what I'm talking about."

    Vard laughed, "Excellent! Everything went according to plan, except for the firefighters falling to the train in parachutes!" he steadied the Diglett on top of his hair and pointed to the exit. "Now we must fly, my friends!"

    With their new Pokemon in hand they ran to the door and jumped, bracing themselves for the impact. Vard covered himself with his pink cape mid fall, though it did little to protect him from the ground as he slammed into it. Sabrina was ready to suffer a similar fate, but just before her body reached the platform a purple glow surrounded her and she landed as if she'd only taken a short hop.

    The rest didn't have as much luck, and after they painfully got to their feet they saw that Ñako, Mycroft, Sammy and Sabrina were the only ones unharmed.

    The train sped through the station, leaving them behind. Between them and the rails was a tall, metal fence. A white envelope hung from it.

    "Wh-what happened!?" Rhin jumped in place, eyes wide open. He looked extremely confused, and his eyes had returned to normal. "How did I get here? What happened to the fight in the train?"

    Mycroft gulped and looked at Ñako, not quite understanding why he'd been chosen to be saved by him.

    "T-thank you. I don't know why you got me out of there but…" he smiled, though not very enthusiastically. "Mycroft doesn't forget these things. I owe you one, je suppose."

    They made their way towards where the others had fallen and saw as Sammy walked to the fence and grabbed the letter stuck to it. She opened it and coughed as to grab everyone's attention.

    "This must be from the person who sent us here," she exclaimed. "Did he want us to jump to this exact place?"

    "Why are you not hurt?" Ñako asked.

    Sammy ignored him, "Here, the letter says…"

    If you made it to Saffron that means you deserve both my praise and trust. You have also earned the right to work under me.

    Do not be afraid by what happened; I needed to know you were capable of surviving a simple test before I could reveal to you who I am or why I'm doing this.

    I can assure you that you will be rewarded handsomely if you wish to take on my offer, as I've mentioned in my introductory letter.

    I will wait for you in the tenth floor of Silph Co, at the center of town.

    Good luck.
    Silence covered the station for a few heartbeats until, as usual, Ñako broke it.

    "Well… judging from those people in the train we can assume that whatever work relationship we might have with this guy has an expiration date," he said. "Still, it's not like I have anywhere better to go, so I think I'm gonna follow this letter."

    He then grabbed the collar of his jacket, and sighed.

    "By the way, do you think I should buy a scarf? They say they look good on ninjas."

    Okay, now they were definitely staring at him weird. He gulped and blamed his performance anxiety.

    "What? Can't you tell by my clothes?" He gesticulated towards his garish outfit. "I'm a ninja!"

    Sammy rolled her eyes before turning her attention back to the letter. Everyone else simply looked at him as if trying to determine what kind of drugs he was on. He supposed it was a good time as any to change topics.

    "Oh, by the way, it's very likely one of us works for the guy who left this letter here." He pointed with his head towards Sammy. "We should find out who they are, hit them, torture them, get information out of them, steal from them, kill them and then say they died in a boking accident. I mean a boating accident."

    Siegfried took a step forward and cleared his throat, wanting to get attention to the current issue.

    "I agree, and I also think we should visit this strange person, even if we don't trust him," he explained, calm as always. "I'm sure most of us don't have a better alternative, and as they say… unity makes strength."

    Sabrina laughed. A low pitched, dry laugh so full of disdain she regretted it as soon as it left her mouth. Everyone turned towards her and she silently cursed for not being able to contain herself.

    She muttered something under her breath and nodded, which was enough to make some of them turn their heads.

    God, why does this have to happen to me? she lamented herself, sighing.

    All she wanted was some easy cash, enough to get her off the rotting region and towards somewhere nice and warm where they could never find her. Perhaps Dewford or Pacifidlog. The beach would certainly fit her.

    She was so focused in her own fantasy that she barely noticed Adler grabbing her by the ankle. Looking down she saw wetness appear on the small creature's eyes.

    Oh no…

    She began to cry. Really ****ing loudly at that.

    "Wait, no! Adler!" She took a bag out of her backpack and showed it to her. "Look, food!"

    But it was in vain. The Snorunt kept wailing with all the strength of her lungs, and Sabrina could feel everyone's eyes on her again. Her cheeks turning red, she lowered her head and whispered low enough for only her Pokemon to hear.

    "You… you did well." She heaved as she said those words. "You weren't completely useless."

    Adler stopped crying immediately and forming a huge grin she grabbed the bag of food and shoved it into her mouth. Sabrina gave her a look colder than the night around her and shook her head. She'd catch the first Pokemon she encountered, even if it was a Togepi. All so she could get rid of this waste of space.

    She returned her to her Pokeball as soon as she stopped eating, heading to where the rest of the group was a moment after. They seemed to have reached some sort of agreement, since they were all looking towards the distance past the fence, where the outline of Saffron could be seen.

    Sabrina felt a tug inside her chest, and her fingers curled into fists. To think she'd have to come back to this place…

    "Uh… Vard?" Ñako's voice took her out of her thoughts, and she turned around to see the guy with the stupid pink afro staring at the stars. "You haven't said anything yet. You coming with us to meet this guy?"

    Vard closed his eyes for a second and breathed deeply, as if considering his options carefully.

    "Karma can only be portioned out by the cosmos."

    Without another word he headed towards the door of the fence, leaving eight confused people behind.

    "I… guess that's a yes?" Ñako shrugged.

    And with that the rest of the trainers followed him, walking towards something that could easily be both a chance at a new life or a death sentence. Sabrina had experienced more than her fair share of both and had managed to **** up said opportunities wonderfully.

    She took a deep breath and raised her gaze towards the city, eyes full of determination.

    Not this time.


    -------------------------------------
    Author Notes: A few fun facts for those who like campaign stuff:

    -Ñako falling on his face was indeed a crit miss.

    -Similarly, Sabrina pulling off that crossbow shot was due to a lot of successes.

    -Vard is the best.

    -The scythe was not meant to be stolen, but the DM let it happen because he's awesome.

    Here's some art of the characters courtesy of the DM Yuki.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
    DreamSayer likes this.
  2. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    Hello again! And welcome to the forums; it's an unexpected pleasure to bump into you again. This is a cool fic to start off with: massive cast of very distinctive characters, adapted from a tabletop (or tabletop-style) original. There aren't so many of those around, but it's something I quite like; I'm always interested in how games and fiction can interconnect with one another. You can definitely see the tabletop roots, but the premise translates really well, I think – you have this one mysterious character operating in the background and orchestrating events like a DM would, which is both very convenient from a conversion point of view and for building some mystery early on.

    I'll be interested to see what you plan to do with your nine major characters, though. That's … a lot to handle, really – definitely quite a few more than I've ever attempted to juggle at once – but given that you zoom in on just a couple of them here, I wonder whether or not some of them will be demoted to secondary characters, or even got rid of entirely. Especially since you mention that the cast is expensive “at the beginning”, as if it might not be later on. Whatever you plan to do with them, they're a very colourful bunch, although there are a couple of show-stealers – Sabrina, because we spend so much time with her perspective and I feel like she has a Past, and Vard, because I just like characters who aren't afraid to destroy everything from the ambience to the proper usage of the word 'proliferate' in their attempts to be the most fabulous person in the room, I guess.

    I do think that on occasion you tend towards overdescription – which is understandable, because I'm guessing these characters originally had really specific and striking appearances, but in a fiction context spending so much time on the initial “this is what this person looks like” phase kinda slows things down before they've even got started. I don't think you need to cut anything, but I think it might benefit from being rearranged so as to be better paced; maybe just restricting yourself to the most striking features – pink afro, etc. – during the introduction and bringing more details in as and when they become relevant (i.e. when our current POV character takes in someone's appearance, when someone's eyes change colour as happens here, that kind of thing) would help to avoid being too infodump-y at the start.

    Other than that – not much critique to offer, given that we're so early on in this story and know pretty much nothing about anything. I've just got a few typos, inelegant bits, and other stuff to point out:

    That repetition of “look” is a little grating – the first one is probably the easier one to change.

    Looks like that should be “eighth” rather than “eight”.

    You don't need to put a comma between “bright” and “red”, since they're not separate attributes – her hair is bright red, not bright and red, if you see what I mean.

    That should be “in” rather than “on”, I think.

    If a line of dialogue – thought or spoken – segues into an attribution like that, then you don't need to capitalise the first word of the attribution, even if it follows an exclamation or question mark. Technically, they're all part of the same sentence.

    That reads a little oddly, probably because plates don't open, and the way the sentence is structured compares the opening of the eyes to plates. “As wide as plates” might be one way of making the comparison one between plates and the wideness of the eyes, instead.

    It's something I forget myself quite often, and I had to go and look it up to make sure, but “treecko” has a C in it.

    You've transposed a couple of letters in “understandably” here.

    But yeah, interesting start! And like I said, this sort of stuff is kinda my thing, so I'll definitely be checking back in to keep an eye on future developments here. Nice work!
     
  3. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Hello again!! I'm so glad you're reading my stories; it really is a huge honor :D

    You have no idea how much I love this one; the campaign itself was lots of fun and had some of the best characters and events Pokemon could offer, so I'm extremely excited to get to those points. It is true that there's a lot of characters, but I believe I can deal with that for the time being, if my next chapter is anything to go by. Hopefully you'll learn to appreciate most of them and the roles they play in the story :D

    Though... yeah, I'm right there with you, I always had my favorites from the group if you could tell. Sabrina being the biggest example, with Vard and Ñako as close seconds. Also... yeah, it's true that the beginning is rather heavy when it comes to description; I was trying mostly to get it out of the way early so I didn't have to bother with it much afterwards, but you're right in that it kinda boggles that part.

    Once more thanks so much for your comment and your helpful grammar fixes!!
     
  4. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Saffron - Part 1

    ----------------------------------------------
    Saffron, we meet again.

    The city looked even shittier than before, as unbelievable as it sounded. Then again, carrying a seventy pound unconscious Pokemon on her back might've been staining her impression of it.

    Maybe.

    The rest of the so called group walked alongside her, making small chitchat here and there though mostly staying in silence. She could tell some were concerned about going to Silph Co. right away, when perhaps finding someplace to rest and recover their strength might've been a better idea. One of the guys –the one with the Tyrogue who was rather verbose– approached her and asked for directions, quoting back what she'd mentioned about being from Saffron.

    "That would make sense normally, but…" she stopped, searching for the best way to phrase it, "I'm not exactly the most popular person in the city. I don't think having me with you will make for a good first impression."

    More than a few eyebrows were raised her way. Exactly what she needed, for everyone not to trust her right away.

    "Besides, the market won't be open this early." She shrugged, trying to change the topic. "I know we all want to collapse under a rock and rest, but I'd like to get this over with before that."

    She hated the idea as much as them, but if the person from the letter had gone to such lengths to contact them, he wouldn't kill them at first sight. Silph Co. was safer than the outskirts of the city, as far as she knew.

    Said building came into view after they passed through the outer slums, rising into the sky as a black pillar of glass. At the top of it a giant symbol hung; a long segmented S with two circles inside it. The skyscraper was the only structure she'd seen so far which didn't look damaged, dirty or ready to fall into itself, which in any other situation might have been reassuring. It wasn't, if what she'd heard of the place had any traces of truth in it.

    She grabbed onto strongly to the unconscious Drowzee's legs, gulping.

    Her new life might be inside that building, were luck to shine on her for the first time in her ****ing life.

    ----------------------------------------------
    Vard took a notebook out of the infinite folds of his hair and started writing on it as he walked.

    Finally, the Dispute of Death in the Train of Gale has ended.

    Great adventurer that he was, he always knew exactly what to call every interesting event he came across. When people spoke of his legend, they would need a way to name each one of his stories.

    He looked up, noticing how one of his new subjects had effortlessly cleaned up the scythe wound he'd suffered during the train altercation with his trusty first aid kit. Such determination, such providence. Such… wait, was that thing next to him a Pokemon? Well, nobody's perfect.

    "Hear me, my faithful servant!" he spoke to the man named Silver, grinning from ear to ear. "Yes you, the one with the jocular bird. From now on you will be the official foreman of the great Team of Vard!" He raised his palm to the sky. "You've proven yourself to be an invaluable asset worthy of this recognition. Now, give me that first aid kit; I think I hit my head when I fell from the train and I'm seeing a blue thing with cloud wings flying around."

    The man did as he was told, as happy as a Shellder. After a few minutes of walking and taking care of the wounds on his beautiful body they finally arrived at the twin glass doors of the building. The inside looked as dark as an Arcanine's maw, and no one could be seen guarding the entrance.

    Vard formed a wicked smile, turning around towards his companions.

    "You've all done well to keep up with me! Now, those with enough strength to follow me in my prowess, to look at danger in the face, to put your manliness to the test, to…"

    "Pass." Rhin said.

    "In any case, follow me!"

    Waving his pink cape dramatically he pushed the doors aside, plunging into darkness.

    ----------------------------------------------
    The building was completely empty for the first few floors. Toppled tables and abandoned research cubicles covered in dust littered the place as if it hadn't been used in ages. As the group advanced they could see the rest of the city from a panoramic view; they noticed a few weak, dwindling fires in the distance surrounded by dark figures.

    Once they reached the tenth floor the air seemed to become heavier as they noticed not only the pristine state of the room they'd walked into but also the man standing at the other side of it, wearing black robes and staring through the enormous glass windows into the distance. He turned his head slightly as the last trainer entered the room and with a whirring sound the door closed behind them. Small lights appeared at the edge of their vision as the candles resting on the walls came to life with a pulsing, purple flame.

    A round, black table sat in the middle of the room, so pristine it looked like it hadn't ever been used. Nine rickety wooden chairs were placed around it, with a finely crafted velvet sofa at the extreme of it.

    The strange man walked towards it, sitting on it with swift movements. He urged with his hand for them to do the same, and once each one found their seat they could see his lack of a face. He wore an oval mask, half red and half blue split in the middle. Two tired eyes stared at them from behind the cut circles in it.

    Vard was the first to speak.

    "The Feng Shui of this room is a disaster."

    The man ignored him. He cleared his throat and after a few moments of consideration spoke with a deep, calming voice.

    "Before I introduce myself I would like to congratulate all of you. I understand some of you might be upset due to what happened in the train, but the selection process was very important," he said, moving his gaze from one end of the table to the other. "With that said, you may call me Mullac. If I'm not mistaken you all received a letter from my, let's say, organization."

    Most of them shifted uncomfortably under the sound of his voice. Next to the man, Sabrina curled her fingers into fists, ready to flee at a moment's notice.

    "You might think this is madness, but I needed to know you were capable of surviving such a test. For you see, my mission… our mission, will be infinitely more complex. Of course, we will talk about rewards soon, but first…"

    He raised one hand, his long and wrinkly fingers pointing to one of the nearby walls, from which hung a gigantic map of Kanto and Johto.

    "As you all know, the situation in Kanto… it's not the same as it's been in the past," he said. "We're headed directly into a war with Orre, which would mean the end of our region and countless innocent lives. That…" his eyes fell on them, "is where I need the help of all of you."

    Sabrina raised an eyebrow, "So… you want to use us to stop this supposed war?"

    "Ha!" Silver chuckled, hands behind his head. "Yeah sure, where do we sign up?" he said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

    Rhin narrowed his eyes at the strange man, "Forgive me, but I really doubt your intentions are noble."

    The rest either mumbled or agreed silently, while Mullac sat still with his fingers interlaced. Once silence settled back in he continued to speak.

    "Please. I understand that you're all worn out by today's events, so before continuing I would be happy to offer you a place to rest inside this tower, and…" He made a gesture with his hand and the middle of the table retreated inside it. A moment later it came back up, but there was something different. Nine Pokeballs were arranged in a circle, each facing one of the trainers. "I am aware that some of you took a Pokemon from my employees. You may keep them if you want, but otherwise you're free to take one of these."

    Before any of them could process the offer Ñako lunged his arm forward, taking one of the Pokeballs with gusto. He leaned back into his chair, no hint of concern of fear in his expression.

    "Well, I'm gonna stay," he declared. "I don't think this place is more dangerous than the trip back and I'm already here anyway."

    Sabrina nodded, crossing her arms.

    "I'll keep this one," she said, pointing at the passed out Drowzee on the floor.

    Silver placed both feet on top of the table, smiling cockily while patting the head of his newly acquired Spearow, "I prefer this one. No offense but I'm a humble kinda guy; I don't want one of your stuck up Pokemon."

    The rest made their decision, Wolfswift being the only one left who chose not to take one of the free Pokeballs. As the rest examined theirs, spinning it on their hands, they heard Sammy speak. She looked bored, staring mindlessly at her new acquisition.

    "I guess if you wanted us dead you had the chance to make it happen already" she said. "Now, back to this mission…"

    The man nodded, raising his hand once more to speak.

    "As I said, I need all of your help to bring Kanto to its former glory." They noticed a strange intensity in his voice that hadn't been there before. "Of course, you won't do it directly. First I need you to find something for me. A group of certain objects, which might be able to end this conflict once and for all. Objects which are tied to the legend of Ho-oh, might I add."

    Some of them flinched at the mention of the name, while others like Sabrina simply frowned, incredulous. What could a legendary Pokemon have to do with their quest?

    "In ancient legend it is stated that Ho-oh once gave humanity a gift," Mullac continued, his tone one of reverence. "A divine, incredibly dangerous power, something we humans could never achieve on our own. That's why these objects were closely coveted and hidden in secret, until they became no more than simple myth."

    He turned his head slightly, once again looking at the gigantic map at his right. Without prompt a powerful light fell on top of it, illuminating a specific spot northwest of it.

    "According to my research, one of these objects is hidden within a certain construction in Kanto. The abandoned prison of Pewter, which was said to be built on top of…"

    "An ancient burial ground?" Ñako offered.

    "No, on top of an underground dungeon. I need all of you to travel to Pewter and investigate the prison in search for this object." His voice trailed off, leaving the room in silence for a few moments. "Of course I don't expect an answer right away. Feel free to rest and think it over, and tomorrow we can talk about remuneration."

    There really wasn't any need to complain or turn away know, and Mullac was keenly aware of this. The group silently accepted his request while mulling it over inside their heads. As usual, Vard was the first to speak.

    "Ho-oh…" he whispered, smiling to himself. "The only one capable of rivaling my omnivorous being, whose beautiful colors are even more dazzling than my own mane. If it's to revive such a beautiful creature…"

    "I never said anything about…"

    "IF IT'S TO REVIVE SUCH A BEAUTIFUL CREATURE…!" Vard yelled at the top of his lungs, smiling. "Then me and my gentle men will be at your services."

    He walked towards Mullac, extending his arm forward. Their fingers met tentatively and they shook on it, sealing the deal.

    ----------------------------------------------
    The next morning came without much complication. Sabrina was one of the first to wake up, and as she walked downstairs with a cigarette hanging from her lips and the memory of last night still fresh, one single phrase came to mind.

    What a **********er.

    She shook her head, still thinking about what Mullac had said. Honestly, she couldn't give less of a **** whether Ho-oh existed or not. As for the war, as long as it didn't affect her she didn't have any reason to intervene. The glory and wellbeing of Kanto? Ha! What a joke.

    Still, she had no choice but to accept and Mullac knew it. She needed to escape the region and with her current capital she wouldn't make it to Lavender. She could try, but the chances of being found and end up floating face down on the sewers were pretty big. She needed money, and this guy had lots of it. If she could complete this one job then all her problems, her pathetic life of constantly running away… it would all come to an end.

    Finally, she could be free like she'd promised him so long ago.

    Trying to shake the thought off her head she kept walking, eventually reaching the base floor. Before exiting she took the two Pokeballs from her belt and opened them, the explosion of light revealing its occupants.

    The Drowzee was conscious, though not very pristine. Still, judging by the intense look of resentment she sent her way, it was evident resting had done her well.

    "Oh come on, don't be like that," she said, patting her head. "Your previous master is dead and I saved your chubby life when I took you out of that train, with a lot of effort on my part. So… let's be friends, alright Gouda?"

    Drowzee opened her mouth and, if she were a person, she was pretty sure she would've repeated the name to herself in disbelief. Seeing as she couldn't, she decided to simply look at Sabrina in a way that made it evident she wished her the worst of fates. Adler on the other hand bounced happily like the filthy triangle she was.

    Good enough.

    As soon as she returned them to their Pokeballs two people crossed through the door to the lobby. One of them was the skinny guy with the sunflower shirt and the giant scythe, Silver was it? The other one was the multicolor ninja.

    "Hey."

    They stopped talking amongst themselves and raised their heads to look at her.

    "Wanna come with me somewhere?" she said, perhaps a bit more grimly than intended. "I promise it'll be interesting."

    Silver had helped her yesterday during the train and he was pretty good at fighting. At the moment there was no reason not to trust him. As for the other one… well, his moral compass seemed looser than most, which would come in handy for what she had in mind.

    They listened to her explanation and nodded without much doubt. They exited the building, heading towards the center of the city.

    She silently wondered what the others would do in the meantime.

    ----------------------------------------------
    An hour later, Mycroft realized they might be completely lost.

    He'd ventured into the outskirts of the city accompanied by Rhin, Samantha, Siegfried and the freak with the pink afro in the vain hope they'd be able to find a good market, someplace to gather provisions for the harsh quest ahead of them.

    Mullac's words danced around in his mind, especially his mention of the legendary Pokemon Ho-oh. As much as he hated the idea of having to traverse a dirty, old prison there was something stronger than him compelling him to accept.

    After what seemed like an eternity they arrived at the city's gates, made from heavy stone and at least thrice as tall as any of them. Still, there didn't seem to be any guards around, so they could slip through to the outside if they wanted. A completely insane idea of course, and he was sure no one would…

    "We might be able to find some kind of market through these gates," Siegfried spoke next to him, startling Mycroft. "I seem to remember seeing houses outside the walls."

    Of course they were considering it, Mycroft thought as he shook his head. Then again as long as he was the only one to…

    "Inverted priestess, eh?" Rhin said as he brandished one of the tarot cards from his deck. "Excellent, this means we'll find something in there. Either that or yesterday's food isn't gonna sit well with my stomach. Hopefully the first thing."

    Bordel de merde.

    He silently pleaded to Samantha, but she seemed interested in the proposition as well. So much for her being the only one worth trusting in his mind.

    "We must get through the gates of evil!" declared Vard, pointing forward.

    Samantha rolled her eyes, and walked towards the door. Almost effortlessly she pushed both of them aside, letting in a cold mist which shook Mycroft to his bones.

    "Exploring a bit won't hurt," she said, narrowed eyes. "Let's go."

    ----------------------------------------------
    The market was uncomfortably familiar, Sabrina realized.

    A gigantic black canopy stretched through at least five streets like some kind of creature with an ungodly amount of legs. It was separated into a few dozen small busineses, mostly people with a single table on top of which they put the valuables they wished to sell. Nothing impressive, though it would certainly be enough for what she had in mind.

    The stench of burnt grass and incense made its way to her nostrils, forcing her to crinkle her nose. About a street and a half away she could make up the shape of a circle of people, at least thirty of them, all looking at something in the middle of it and laughing.

    Not her problem.

    Taking in a deep breath she lowered her wool hat until it almost covered her eyes. There was no way anyone would recognize her, she tried to convince herself. It was like looking for a tree in the forest; who could fathom she'd be suicidal enough to come back to her own city? She felt a certain satisfaction, prancing around under their noses without them ever being the wiser. Then again she had no desire to run any kind of risk, not after getting so far. She needed to be stealthy, or as stealthy as she could be looking like a thief and being accompanied by a carnival freak and a guy with a giant ****ing scythe.

    "Nice place you brought us to," Silver said, as if on cue. "I have a feeling I'm gonna have some fun here."

    "I know right?" Ñako smiled. "With joints like these it's hard not to be optimistic."

    Sabrina frowned, "Just don't do anything stupid. And if you do then make sure it's far away from where I am." She looked around until her gaze stopped on a nearby store. "I need to do some business here."

    "Yeah I want to explore too," the ninja said. "I have a feeling it's better to stay close, but I also have a feeling you bought that awful hat from one of the hicks in these stores."

    She looked at him with a glare capable of melting ice and promptly turned away as she walked north. She arrived at the store she'd been eyeing up; on top of the dirty table were countless Pokeballs, all used judging by how rusty and scratched they looked.

    Exactly what she was looking for.

    A man sat behind the counter, reading a newspaper. He wore a military jacket and a red bandana under his black hair. An ornate dagger hung from the pocket on his arm. He addressed her before she could speak.

    "A trainer, eh?" he said, his voice as rough as sandpaper. "And one of those sneaky ones that can read minds, too. What do you want?"

    Sabrina froze, shocked he'd noticed her abilities without looking at her. However, she decided it wouldn't be a problem as long as he kept it to himself. Without further ado she took Adler's Pokeball from her belt and opened it. The small bugger appeared on top of the table, grinning from ear to ear.

    "I want to get this thing off me," she said, pushing the Snorunt as it tried to hug her. "For a good price."

    "A Pokemon from Hoenn?" For the first time the man lowered his newspaper, raising an eyebrow. "I don't know if I can buy something that valuable, but… maybe you're interested in some kind of exchange?"

    ----------------------------------------------
    "Ah, these hicks are getting impatient," said Ñako as he and Silver made their way through the inner streets. "They're looking at us wrong. Maybe they know we're with the crazy old man."

    As if on cue one of the young men from a nearby store glared at them furiously, though he turned around before he could say anything else. It was quite clear the people of the city weren't big fans of the man employing them.

    "Whatever, it's too early to start the fun," Ñako shrugged. "Silver, I think you might like that store over there. Looks like they sell all that medicine stuff you like."

    "Nice find," Silver smiled, grabbing onto the handle of the scythe strongly. "Thanks papu."

    As he approached he pushed the dirty curtains aside, revealing the inside of the store. Contrary to what he would've expected, the person behind the counter was a young, cute girl with rosy cheeks and her blue hair tied into pigtails.

    "H-hello sir," she spoke softly, almost a whisper as she bowed down slightly. The nervousness in her face was as clear as if reflected through a mirror. "What do… what do you need?"

    "Good day!" Silver replied, grinning widely. "My multicolor ninja friend told me you have some toys for me. I might not look the part but I'm an apprentice doctor, so let's see what I can get…"

    After a few minutes of looking around and choosing the merchandise he put everything into his backpack and gave the money to the young girl, who accepted it with trembling hands. She wasn't even looking at him, her gaze kept going to something outside the store.

    Silver sighed. This was simply unacceptable.

    "Alright, to hell with it," he said, startling her. "Look girl, sorry for meddling but you're way too scared of something and that's not cool. I know you don't know me, that I'm carrying a huge scythe and that I look like I'm high as ****, but… let's see if I can make you smile."

    From the Pokeball in his hand appeared his Swablu, faintly flapping his cotton wings as he flew on top of the table. Silence covered the store for a moment, while the blue haired girl stared wordlessly at the tiny Pokemon in front of her.

    "It's… so cute!" she lunged at the poor creature, enveloping him with her arms. "Oh my gosh your Swablu is so adorable! You must take really good care of her!"

    Two things came to mind. First; apparently his Swablu wasn't effeminate but a girl, and second; he was getting credit for raising a thing he couldn't stand in the first place. Life was surprising sometimes.

    "Thanks, I do what I can," he shrugged. "And I'm glad I could make you smile but… please, tell me what's making you so nervous. I'd love to help you however I can."

    Her smile died as soon as he said those words, shoulders tensing up once more as she glared past the curtains covering the store. She gulped, and it took her a few tries before she could get the words out.

    "My… my father…" she said, pointing outside. "He did something bad, something Mullac's men didn't like, and now he's…"

    Silver didn't need to be psychic to understand what she wanted to say.

    "STOP IT! YOU'RE GOING TO KILL HIM!"

    The scream traveled through every inch of the market, making sure everyone turned their heads towards the spectacle outside. Silver didn't make himself wait; grabbing the blue haired girl by the hand he led her outside. Ñako was the first person he saw, hands on his pockets and looking directly at the circle of people in the intersection between two streets. Most of them were spectators and bystanders, but in the middle of it they could make out three of the robed men with masks, looking the same as they'd done in the train.

    Between them lay a broken, bloodstained shamble of a man, face down on the ground and desperately trying to push himself up. Before he could however, the boot of one of the masked men fell on top of his hand. The man shrieked in pain, rolling to the side once more.

    Silver frowned, looking at the girl next to him. Her eyes had started to water and she had both hands over her mouth.

    "D-dad…"

    That's all the incentive he needed.

    "Ñako." He spoke to the man next to him, brandishing his scythe. "Should we break this party up?"

    He smiled in that unhinged way of his and grabbed the hilt of his giant shuriken from his back.

    "Just what I was thinking."

    ----------------------------------------------
    Sabrina put the two Pokeballs she'd gotten from the man on her belt, and turned towards what was once her partner.

    "Sorry, but this is where I say goodbye," she told the Snorunt. The creature looked at her with tears shining on her eyes. "It's not that I hate y–… ah, who am I kidding. The point is... you did some things that weren't so stupid, I mean, good…"

    She was in the middle of her speech to try and make the thing not feel like trash though she was, when she noticed Adler had stopped listening to her and was now nuzzling the man's arm, who looked at her with surprise and disgust.

    Not my problem anymore.

    It all looked ready to go her way for once, until the scream reached her.

    She really didn't want to follow it, but she knew Silver and the ninja must've had something to do with it. With heavy steps she approached the source of the sound and was pleasantly surprised to discover than her two companions were simply watching the spectacle in the middle of the market, even if they'd already brandished their weapons and were ready to attack.

    Couldn't wait until I bought all the stuff I needed, huh?

    She walked next to them, hands on her pockets, and watched as one of the masked bastards kicked the poor old man in the ribs, making him flinch in pain.

    "This will be a good lesson…" one of them spoke, rugged voice filtering through the mask, "for all those who want to leave the city without thanking master Mullac for his infinite compassion and benevolence."

    "Maybe we should bring you to him," one of the others offered. "And see what he does with someone like you."

    Sabrina could simply stare as the two idiots in front of her started walking towards the group of reapers. She sighed deeply, and resigned herself to her fate.

    God I hate this ****ing town.

    The one closest to the old man raised his boot once more, ready to stomp on his head.

    "Now you'll…"

    Something slashed at his leg before he could finish speaking. Silver moved almost too fast for Sabrina to follow, hitting the masked man under the knee and throwing him to the ground. He'd been lucky not to tear the entire leg off.

    "Alright boys, let's see how tough you are against someone who can defend himself!" Silver yelled, grinning from ear to ear.

    "Yeah, how about you stop stomping on the old man and fight!" Ñako added, pointing at them with the blades of his shuriken.

    Sabrina simply sighed and, while the reapers stared at them in horror and confusion, she took the metal lighter out of her pocket and lit another cigarette.

    She then looked down at the beaten thing and realized she'd have no use for it anymore, not with the fire Pokemon she'd acquired as trade for Adler. She stared at it for a moment, feeling something close to nostalgia, and produced flame on it one last time.

    "Oh well."

    The lighter made an arc of flame as she threw it backwards. It landed on one of the many arms of the black canopy and it didn't take long for the fire to start spreading, slowly swallowing the market around them as it grew and grew, bathing their backs with a potent warmth.

    "I always hated this place," she whispered to herself, grabbing one of her new Pokeballs. "It smells bad."

    ----------------------------------------------
    As soon as they crossed the town doors they realized the run down and baleful ambience inside was nothing compared with what was outside. A spiraling, all encompassing mist obscured the floor and beyond it almost all the houses had collapsed into themselves, looking like they'd been hit by some kind of heavy artillery.

    Broken glass, bricks and occasional dry blood met them as their feet dispelled the mist under them.

    "How quaint," Mycroft whispered under his breath, looking around.

    "Wait!" Sammy raised one arm to the side, stopping everyone behind them. She craned herself a bit forward, looking through one of the nearby corners. "What… what is that?"

    There were metal cages in every corner, big enough to contain a human being. The bars were entirely brown due to rust, though even then they seemed impossible to bend.

    "W-why would they have cages here?" Rhin asked, voice shaking.

    Siegfried stroked his chin contemplatively, "Perhaps this is Mullac's doing?"

    Rhin nodded, and his hand unconsciously went to the tarot deck hanging from his belt, but he stopped himself. "There's something very wrong here. I can feel it."

    "Thanks, I hadn't noticed," Sammy whispered, rolling her eyes.

    "I'm not talking about the state of the place!" he replied, nervousness clear in his voice. "It's something in the air. The stars tell me that we're not alone here, we need to get our Pokemon out now."

    As much as Mycroft didn't like the idea of having to take orders from someone like Rhin, he couldn't help but agree something didn't feel right about the place. He followed the example of the rest and released Ludovic from his Pokeball.

    In front of Rhin materialized a small orange Pokemon with a bald head and a long tail with fire burning at the tip.

    "A Charmander, eh?" the boy whispered, the presence of his new companion giving him confidence "I can feel your fiery spirit. You'll be called Wyvern."

    Vard and Siegfried's Pokemon were a Pikachu and a Cyndaquil, and judging by the fact he hadn't seen them before Mycroft deduced they were the ones Mullac had given them.

    "I am very glad to meet you, my partner." Siegfried bowed to his Pokemon, complete seriousness in his voice. "May we work together to achieve greatness."

    The mole looking creature tilted his head to the side, confused by his trainer's words. He didn't have much time for that however, as Vard's voice soon filled the street they were in.

    "What an auspicious day this is, for I have a new great beast under my care!" He yelled, extending his palm towards the sky. "Pikachu, show yourself to Vard!"

    The small rodent timidly walked towards his trainer, clearly frightened by the sound of his voice.

    "Come on Pikachu, there is no time to be afraid!" The man declared, extending both arms to the side. "As Vard's partner you must face your fears, throw yourself at danger and obtain mon… I mean peace!"

    "Would you stay quiet for a second!?" Sammy growled, her golden eyes almost beaming with rage. "I can't hear anyth…"

    The sound of glass shattering startled her, and soon the rest followed her eyes as she looked towards the thick mist ahead.

    Dark, tall figures took shape within the mist, getting clearer the closer they got. Low, almost imperceptible growling came out of them, like the sound of someone trying to speak with a terrible cold.

    "Are those…"

    Rhin's voice died as soon as he saw what was walking towards them.

    At least five or six people, all wearing terribly worn garb and covered in blood and dust. Their eyes were completely white and their skin had turned into a plain grey. One of them, the one in the back, had a gigantic cut in the middle of his stomach and part of his guts were spilling out.

    They were too horrified to notice the figures approaching from between the houses. A small creature jumped towards Rhin, its sharp front teeth scratching his arm as he lunged towards it.

    "Agh!" The boy took a step back, startling everyone around him. "R-Rattatas!"

    At least ten of the rodent Pokemon had appeared from the shadows and were now surrounding them. Their bright red eyes gleamed with hostility.

    "W-what's going on?!" Mycroft hollered, trembling from feet to the tip of his hair. "This isn't… woah!"

    One of the white eyed people threw herself at him, attempting to grab him by the arm. He barely managed to take a step back, avoiding her as she fell to the ground with a weak thump.

    "These people aren't okay!" he declared, the obviousness of his remark dawning on him a few seconds after.

    Siegfried stared at the large man approaching him, a hint of hesitation in his voice, "Excuse me gentleman, but I believe your intentions may be hostile."

    "Are you serious!?" Sammy yelled, thowing her Pokeball to the ground. "Geek, help us out! We need to make our way out of here!"

    As soon as the Treecko's feet touched the ground he jumped forward, kicking one of the Rattata towards the wall, where it fell unconscious. Three others ran towards him, their overgrown incisors glowing with energy.

    Vard stepped forward, his smile not wavering an inch.

    "Don't panic! I know exactly what to do!"

    From the pocket of his belt he grabbed a big, red onion and took a bite out of it. For a moment they thought that's what he was talking about, but then he threw his arm forward.

    "I could defeat all these Rattatas in the time it takes my hair to take form, but I'm not here to brag," he said. "Pikachu, destroy these miscreants with Storm of Osiris!"

    Pikachu turned towards him, raising an eyebrow.

    "Thundershock, Pikachu. I meant Thundershock."

    Pikachu concentrated for a moment, releasing a small beam of electricity from his cheeks. It tore through the air towards the mindless person next to Siegfried, hitting him right in the chest. He was stunned, but only for a moment. As soon as the crackling energy left his body he threw himself at the closest victim once more. Siegfried had to take a quick step backwards to avoid him.

    "It's… it's not working?" Sammy narrowed her eyes, incredulous. "But then… wait! Mycroft!" she turned towards the boy next to her, eyes wide open. "Your Riolu! He can…"

    "Yes, of course!" He nodded. "L-Ludovic, Allez-y! Use Foresight on those zombies!"

    Ludovic planted both feet firmly on the ground, and looking at the enemies in front of him he made his eyes glow with a potent red light. For a moment nothing happened, until they noticed something forming in the mist. Pitch black spheres with enormous white eyes hung above each one of the so called zombies, surrounded by an ever changing purple smoke that traveled down to their bodies.

    Sammy took a step back, horrified, "Gastly? Then… they must be controlling those corpses like puppets!"

    "Then that's our target," Siegfried nodded. "Though it might be smarter to simply defeat the Rattata and try to run away."

    The rest seemed tempted with the idea, until Vard opened his mouth to speak.

    "No, we must firmly plant ourselves in front of the enemy and emerge victorious!" He raised a fist, smiling. "As it is declared by the Law of Vard!"

    Mycroft shook his head, "I'm… almost afraid to ask, but what does the Law of Vard say?"

    "The Law of Vard is like his hair; firm and leafy!"

    "That… doesn't clear up much."

    "I don't pretend to understand the Law of Vard, I just enforce it!" Vard pointed at their enemies once more. "Now we must fight! Pikachu, once more!"

    The shock of electricity pushed the rest of the zombies back, giving them enough space to get into position. Sammy studied each and every single one of the enemies surrounding them, trying to come up with a strategy to get out of alive of such a situation.

    "Alright, if we're gonna do something stupid then let's at least do it right," she said, pointing forward. "Everyone, attack the Gastly!"

    As all their Pokemon threw themselves towards their enemies, none of them noticed that a pair of eyes were watching them from behind a nearby corner.

    A pair of very human eyes, belonging to a confused girl with a letter in her right hand, bearing Mullac's seal.

    ----------------------------------------------
    Wolfswift walked alone through the endless expanse of Route 6, hands on his pockets and his partner Sneasel walking alongside him.

    He had no need for supplies or anything of the like, unlike the rest of the group he'd unfortunately have to join forces with. He didn't trust any of them, and would much rather go out to train his Pokemon alone. Strength would be necessary for their job, so it wouldn't hurt to start early.

    Something shrieked next to him once he took a step forward. Looking down he noticed the distinct shape of a small, yellow bell that was a Pokemon's head, hiding amidst the tall grass. He then saw that he was stepping on the thing's vines, and lifted up his foot.

    The Bellsprout jumped a few feet back, still shrieking at him for what he'd done. His thin, vine like arms extended at his side and his eyes shone with hostility.

    His Sneasel walked next to him and brandished his sharp claws, smiling maliciously. But before he could throw himself at the poor grass Pokemon Wolfswift interrupted him.

    "Don't bother," he said, tone bored. "This one's too weak to be worth fighting. I'll take care of it."

    He took the small revolver from the holster on his hip, about as casually as one would grab one of their Pokeballs. Almost without looking he pointed the barrel of it at the Bellsprout, finger hovering over the trigger.

    A sharp sound cut through the air before he could shoot, followed by an intense pain in his wrist as something coiled around it.

    "Agh, wh...!"

    Wolfswift's revolver fell to the ground as his arm was pulled backwards. Looking over his shoulder he saw what had grabbed him; a long, leather whip, extending towards someone's hand.

    "Well, what do we have here?"

    His eyes went wide. Six figures stood behind him, their appearances blurry due to the sun hitting him in the eyes. The only thing he could see were the teeth of the one holding the whip as he smiled.

    "It would be a shame, to waste bullets on a filthy Bellsprout," he said, voice thin and raspy. "Don't you think?"

    That's the last thing Wolfswift heard before everything went black.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  5. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    Man, Vard is so obnoxious. I love it. You just know you couldn't spend five minutes in this guy's presence without wanting to run away or slap him in the face; you've done a great job capturing that. I wonder if there's another note to his tune, so to speak? Maybe he genuinely believes what he's saying, maybe there's something underneath all this relentless pretence. Also, I'm delighted to note that he appears to be a fan of raw onion. There's a preference that doesn't get represented very often in fiction. Mostly I guess because it doesn't come up. I don't think many characters ever get the chance to talk about their onion opinions.

    I also like all these hints of history you're building up – those huge city walls, for instance, which seem of an earlier time than the skyscrapers in Saffron's city centre, kinda like the way the remnants of London's walls are still there in the City except much more present. But obviously they've been put back into use since whatever it was that happened to Kanto happened, if Mycroft's expectation that they'd be guarded is anything to go by. So the big question is – what on earth happened here? I was going to say “zombies”, but then, everyone is so surprised to see them that I doubt that can be it. (Side note: I really love the use of foresight to spot the gastly puppeting the bodies; I'm always delighted to see fic writers doing interesting things with moves that you barely even think about in-game.) I'm definitely looking forward to the answers, when they come – and in the meantime, I'm relishing the mystery while it lasts.

    I think my main point of critique would be with regard to Sabrina burning down the market. Even allowing for the fact that she's just standing there with her back to it while all these townspeople can see her torching their livelihoods – which seems like (a) a great way to attract the attention she doesn't want and (b) a surefire plan to get yourself torn apart by an angry mob – it makes her much, much less sympathetic. Like, she's not particularly nice, and that's fine, it's part of what makes her interesting – but when she commits a random act of violent arson that puts a huge number of lives and possessions at risk basically just so she can stand around in front of it and look cool, that's … kind of pushing the limits of what a reader can sympathise with. I also have a few doubts about whether or not fire would really spread that fast – I kinda feel like the canopy would have to be super dry or soaked in petrol or something for it to go up in flames like that – but honestly, those sort of pale in comparison to my reservations about Sabrina's actions themselves. Maybe you do intend for her to be that vicious. And that's fine if you do, but I think it's still strange that she would risk drawing attention to herself, and that nobody would react at all to her tossing fire around when, you know, they live and work there.

    Other than that, I've just got a few little bits and pieces I spotted while reading through:

    That should be “skyscraper”.

    You don't need to capitalise “declared” there – dialogue ending with an exclamation mark behaves exactly the same way as with a comma, so the attribution following it is uncapitalised.

    That should be “led” rather than “lead”.

    I think you're missing the word “up” between “break” and “this”.

    “Garb” doesn't need an S on the end – it means a type of clothing, rather than individual items of clothing, and since it's intangible like that, it doesn't need to be plural here.

    Anyway! This is certainly shaping up to be intriguing. We've got a direction now, it seems -- and mysterious interference from some other force. Should be interesting to see what happens next!
     
  6. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Vard is, honestly, one of the most interesting and weird characters I've ever come across, and I cannot wait to portray his most memorable moments. There's a reason he was a fan favorite when the campaign was happening; part of it was people not knowing if his personality was for real or not.


    Sabrina is... probably the most popular of the characters, reason why she has so much protagonism when it comes to the POVs. And yes, you are absolutely right in that what she did goes beyond pettiness and enters the realm of being a horrible person.

    Because yeah, Sabrina is not a good person by any stretch of the imagination, much like Ñako and Silver. Unlike them, however, she seems to be completely aware of what her actions mean and what an impact she has on other people, which is kind of horrifying. Ñako and Silver are... well, weird people who've found a place in this cruel and strange world, but you can tell that Sabrina is quite sane and fully in charge of what she does. Makes you wonder what happened in her life that made her so cruel and apathetic towards the life of others.

    Ahh.... these are so helpful T-T thank you so much!! You have no idea how much I appreciate your comments. You're the best!!
     
  7. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Author Notes: There's a small flashback in this chapter which will be marked with 》and《 at the start and end of it.
    ---------------------------------------

    Saffron - Part 2
    Three against three would've sounded like a fair fight to most, especially when one of the people they were up against had a severe limp due to a scythe cut.

    Sabrina disagreed. Fair fights were for chumps who didn't know how to turn the tide of battle in their favor. Idiots who masqueraded their weakness with honor instead of ingenuity.

    She spun one of her new Pokeballs with one finger as the fire grew behind them, slowly consuming the market. The three reapers facing her seemed somewhat startled by what she'd done. Her gaze fell on the beaten old man between them, covered in dirt and blood.

    It would've been merciful to take him out of his misery, but she had plans for him yet.

    "Aren't those…" spoke the masked woman whose leg was bleeding. "…Mullac's men?"

    "They are," the one next to her confirmed, narrowing his eyes through his mask. "We have orders not to kill them but… they did just set the market on fire."

    The third one smiled under his mask, "And accidents do happen."

    Sabrina rolled her eyes at their pathetic attempt at intimidation, deciding it was time to get this over with. Taking in a deep breath she looked at the back of Silver and Ñako's head, concentrating. It had been a while since the last time she had to use her powers.

    "Hey."

    Both men shivered as a voice boomed inside their heads, almost immediately turning to look at Sabrina. Her eyes were closed, lips pursed.

    "Yes I am talking to your minds and no, you are not crazy."

    "W-Wha…?" Silver tilted his head to the side. "Flaca, you got yourself a Walkie-Talkie or somethin'?"

    Ñako placed his fingers on his temples, wincing, "Is this one of those witch things that talk to your head?"

    "Just listen. If we get this old guy out of here he'll be indebted to us. And we all know we could use some extra cash."

    Ñako and Silver exchanged looks for a moment and then proceeded to shrug in unison.

    "Well, if you say so…"

    Silver grabbed his remaining Pokeball and smiled as he opened it. Spearow emerged from its light, flapping his wings strongly and looking at the reapers with a strange mix of malice and boredom.

    "Alright Pogo, we're gonna follow the Flaca's advice," he told the bird, pointing towards the young girl at his side. "You and Flancito, fly her out of here! I'm sure her dad's gonna want her alive."

    The girl seemed horrified as the two flying Pokemon grabbed her by the arms with their talons, but once her body lifted off the ground she seemed to understand Silver's plan. Desperation clear in her voice, she screamed one last thing before being carried away by them:

    "S-sir! Please, save my father!"

    Her silhouette became smaller as she was flown towards Route 7. Silver grinned in relief.

    "Very noble of you." One of the reapers said, clear sarcasm in his voice. "Giving away your only route of escape…"

    "Yeah yeah shut the **** up already," Ñako interrupted him, pointing his blade forward. "We doing this or what?"

    Sabrina felt the heat of the burning market in her back. They needed to end the fight and escape as fast as possible.

    With the familiarity of someone who'd done it a million times before she threw the Pokeball forward, releasing her new partner. The light materialized into a green creature a bit taller than her, her body segmented into various oval pieces and two enormous scythes where her arms should've been. Her eyes were red as rubies.

    "I'm aware we don't know each other and all that…" said Sabrina, hands on her pockets, "but I'm gonna need you to help me kill these guys. Also, you're gonna have an awful name and you'll be in countless bloody battles without ever receiving an iota of gratitude. Nice to meet you, Carrie."

    The insect Pokemon lowered her glare shyly, as if their meeting had been some kind of emotive, epic event.

    "Now, kill."

    She jumped forward with enough speed to form a small vacuum of air behind her, translucid wings flapping fast enough to turn invisible. She wound her arm back and slashed at the reaper in front, slicing both the fabric of his cloak and the skin beneath. His body hit the floor, head bouncing on the cold cement, as blood started spouting from the wound.

    "****!" The woman next to him yelled, eyes going wide. "We need to…!"

    Silver and Ñako jumped forward, weapons in hand, before she had a chance to finish her sentence.

    "Eat it hoodie!" the first declared, grinning from ear to ear.

    "Ah… senseless killing," the latter whispered to himself. "I like these people."

    It was over before it began. Soon enough the only people still in the market were the three trainers, the beaten old man, Sabrina's Scyther and the newly added pile of corpses in front of them.

    Ñako folded the shuriken, still dripping with blood, and hung it on his back as he approached Sabrina.

    "Not that I didn't enjoy that…" he said, raising an eyebrow, "but do you mind repeating why we're provoking the guy who's paying us?"

    "That geezer Mullac needs us. It'll be fine," she shrugged. "Besides, you saw how much he cared about the guys he sent to the train."

    Silver nodded, "And we're saving this guy, which means a sure reward!"

    Their collective gazes fell on the almost unconscious old man, still covered in a not negligible amount of his own blood.

    "Oh right, we should probably make sure he doesn't die," Ñako said, walking towards him.

    The flames were almost on top of them as he opened his Pokeball, releasing the Abra they'd all seen in the train the night before. He fell on his butt and leaned his head to the side, breathing in deeply with his eyes closed.

    "Paja, could I get a Teleport out with this guy?" he asked, grabbing the man by the collar. "I'll take your snoring as a yes."

    The Abra lazily extended his arm to touch his trainer, a purple light coating their bodies a moment after as their shapes began to dissipate.

    "See you outs-!" Ñako said as he vanished into thin air.

    Silver looked around with a certain amount of worry in his expression, seeing the fire get closer and closer. Sabrina however didn't seem very bothered by it as she tapped her Scyther on the shoulder.

    "Carrie, fly me and this guy out of here," she ordered, tone bored. "And make it quick. I hope you're getting used to this."

    She lowered her head once more and obeyed without hesitation. Flying two humans on her back was a bit much, but they managed to get through above the fire just fine. After a couple minutes they spotted the funny looking ninja and his Pokemon next to the old man they'd saved and his daughter. They were on the outside of town, next to the tall grass of Route 7.

    As they touched ground Sabrina noticed the girl with her arms around her father, tears running down her cheeks. Judging by all the bandages covering his body it seemed she'd gotten herself busy and patched him up as fast as humanly possible.

    "I'm so glad you're okay!" she sobbed, hands shaking. "Oh dad, I was so worried!"

    "I… I know," the man replied, smiling weakly. "It was thanks to these youngsters. I owe my life to them."

    Next to her Silver approached his two Pokemon and let them land on his shoulder, patting them both in the head.

    "Nice one! You two deserve the best birdseed money can buy!"

    Carrie looked at the scene with unmistakable hope in her eyes and turned towards Sabrina, who simply frowned and turned around. She could almost feel the sadness of the insect's glare on her back, and sighed.

    Making sure no one was looking, she slowly raised her hand, giving the Pokemon a thumbs up. She could swear the thing lightly screeched in glee.

    Once father and daughter stopped crying over how happy they were or whatever, Sabrina approached them with the look of someone ready to do business. They both raised their heads towards her and saw as she extended her palm forward.

    "Money," she said.

    The man narrowed his eyes in confusion, looking all around as if he expected her to be talking to someone else.

    "Wh-…"

    "The money, geezer, the reward for saving you," she repeated, shaking her palm. "And make it quick, I wanna get out of this dump as fast as I can."

    More silence, more confused looks. Had she really done all that for nothing? No, she still had one more card to play.

    For the first time since meeting her, Ñako and Silver saw as she took out her hat, grasping it strongly with one hand over her chest. She closed her eyes, expression turning to one of intense sadness.

    "She's… she's almost her age, my little sister." She pointed at the blue haired girl with shaking fingers. "They even look alike. The doctors say there's no cure for her sickness... all I can do is try to mitigate her suffering." She tried to summon tears and forcibly made her lower lip shake. "But the treatment is too expensive."

    She could almost picture the look of surprise and disgust in the faces of her companions behind her, but decided to ignore it.

    "For two years I've been travelling the world as a mercenary, accepting the most dangerous jobs from the wealthiest of clients." She clenched her fist, voice breaking. "Without stop, without rest, all so… all so I could see her smile, one last time…"

    With her act finished she looked up, taking in the reaction of the two. The man looked down, biting his lip and clearly moved by her words. The girl was a whole different story; new and bigger tears ran down her cheeks as she tried her best not to sob.

    Hook, line and sinker.

    At least so she thought, until the girl lunged forward and grabbed her hand with both of hers, smiling with difficulty.

    "I… I'm studying medicine and I'm good at healing people and… and…" she tried to speak through the tears. "I'll follow all of you, and I promise I'll do everything in my power to help your little sister!"

    Sabrina's smug smile died as soon as she heard those words, soon followed by the stifled laughs of Silver and the ninja behind her.

    She looked down at the girl's hands, sighing as she let her shoulders fall.

    "God dammit."

    ---------------------------------------
    Awful people, asking me to come here all of a sudden. I should've stayed in the Orange Islands with all those pink Pokemon and be stupidly happy.

    Those were the thoughts going through the girl's mind as she walked the outer slums of the city with Mullac's letter in hand. Her brown hair was separated into two well crafted braids and on top of her head sat a white hat with a mouth, eyes and cat ears. The blue sweatshirt she wore was more than a few sizes too big for her, making the sleeves go past her hands, flopping around with every step she took.

    She heard something past the corner of the next street and froze with her heart in her throat. She'd seen that group of strange people before and they were fighting… things. She'd decided it would be to her benefit to get away from them.

    What came out of the shadows didn't look like any of them, which at first she thought was a good thing. Then she noticed the state of the person walking towards her; empty eyes, several cuts and injuries all over and clothes covered in blood.

    The thing swatted at her. She choked on a scream as she took a step back and dodged, eyes going wide in horror. The smell hit her, as potent as a punch to the nose and all encompasing. She had to summon all the will she had in her not to throw up on the spot.

    "A-agh, what the…!?" She took an arm to her chest, hand shaking. "People in decomposition? What…?"

    She heard various steps approaching and feared more… whatever these things were would surround her. Fortunately it was just the group of people she'd seen before, running through the street as a small army of undead followed them.

    "The politics of failure have failed!" declared the one with the pink afro, a chubby Pikachu hanging from his shoulder. "We must look for shelter!"

    The ones in front of her turned towards the sound and, for a moment, she hoped they would chase those people instead of her. It was short lived as the second one made another attempt at grabbing her.

    Looks like I have to choose between the pink afro and this, she thought to herself, cursing her luck.

    She considered it for a good five seconds before making the decision.

    "Pink afro, goddamit!"

    She lunged past the two zombies and ran in the same direction as them.

    ---------------------------------------
    Rhin felt guilty for jokingly thinking they would encounter a zombie movie situation when they entered the outer slums. Now he was pretty sure the cosmos did listen to him, except instead of trying to help him they simply laughed while watching him suffer.

    He smiled to himself as he ran from the zombies, Wyvern hanging from his back. If the stars wanted a good show then he'd give them one.

    "There, that place!" Sammy yelled, pointing towards a nearby building. "The door is open, come on!"

    A worn sign hung above the entrance: Winchester II.

    Once all of them were inside Sammy and Siegfried locked the heavy wooden door by putting in front as many chairs and tables as they could find. Rhin decided to make himself useful and tumbled his way to the fuse box, turning the lights on.

    The first thing he saw after being momentarily blinded was a beautiful, ornate pool table in the middle of the room. At its right was what looked like a counter full of unopened bottles of alcohol, covered in dust. A jukebox sat at the other extreme, its weak light still twinkling after what must've been years.

    Of all the places, it had to be a pub, he thought, frowning.

    "We need to check for other entrances so we can block them," Sammy ordered, looking around desperately.

    "Ugh, this place is dirty," Mycroft shuddered as he tiptoed through the filth covered floor. "Wait, why are we boxing ourselves in?"

    "These aren't real zombies," she said. "Either the Gastlys stop possessing them and come inside to fight, or they get bored and leave after a while."

    Or they wait forever because they're ghosts and they have all the time in the world, Rhin thought hopelessly.

    He looked at Vard, who walked around the room curiously and studied the place. Probably considering turning it into his base of operations or something similar. He smiled; he really couldn't be mad at a guy like that.

    He was in the middle of wondering where the man's confidence came from when the sound of breaking wood made him jump. A long, pale arm made an attempt at his neck, but Rhin's reflexes allowed him to lower his head and barely avoid the swat.

    "****, they're coming in!" he yelled, gritting his teeth.

    "Ah, bastards!" Vard said. "We must teach them a lesson!"

    More and more arms broke through the crumbling defense they'd managed to put in front of the door. They all gathered in the back of the bar, Pokeballs in hand.

    A few more seconds is all it took before the shattered splinters of the doors flew to the side, letting in at least ten of the corpses inside. They growled and walked slowly towards them, heads leaning to the side and eyes empty.

    Mycroft took a step back towards the jukebox. "Merde, we need to do something!"

    Siegfried nodded, looking down to the Cyndaquil. "Elliot, I'm counting on you," he said, voice completely calm.

    "Our only chance is to attack the Gastlys and take them out," Sammy said, lower lip trembling. "We need to combine our Pokemon's strength and attack all at once."

    "That is, if our Pokemon can even see the Gastlys," Siefgried whispered.

    "Oh, right!" Mycroft said, "Maybe I can…"

    As he took a step back he accidentally bumped his elbow on one of the buttons of the jukebox. The machine roared with an electronic buzzing sound and came to life, startling all the trainers in the room.

    "Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time…"

    A voice came out of the device, bathing the bar with the low hums of music. Mycroft looked at the jukebox, then at the zombies and then at the jukebox once more.

    "Why is Queen playing?" he asked, nose crinkled. "Ah, it doesn't matter. Ludovic, Foresight!"

    The Riolu's eyes turned red once more, and just as it had happened before the gaseous shapes of the Gastlys appeared above the corpses' heads, smiling maliciously as they approached.

    "Now!" Sammy yelled, throwing a Pokeball to the ground. From it emerged a bulb like Pokemon with four stubby legs, and a leaf coming out of her head. The Chikorita planted herself in front of her opponents. "Fiona, Razor Leaf!"

    "Wyvern, Scratch!"

    "Elliot, use Tackle if you may."

    "Pikachu, destroy those mutants!" Vard ordered. "Storm of Osiris!"

    As their Pokemon pushed back the zombies and tried their best to leave the Gastlys out of commission, someone approached from the back entrance of the bar. The girl with the strange hat scurried as silently as she could through the dark corridors, hearing commotion close. She carefully opened the door at the end of the hallway, finding herself behind the counter of the bar. At her right were the five people she'd followed, furiously battling what was at her left. At least ten of the horrible living corpses, their combined stench flooding the room like poison gas.

    "Agh, disgusting!" she yelled, covering her nose with the sleeves of her sweatshirt.

    Everyone in the room turned towards her, including the zombies. She froze for a moment, cursing herself, and grabbed the Pokeball hanging from a small holster in her jeans.

    "I need to get out of here! Milkshake, Icy Wind!"

    In front of her appeared a creature resembling a snake, with soft blue scales covering everything except her belly. Two small, white wings grew from the sides of her head.

    The Dratini wound her head back, inhaling deeply, and spat a powerful torrent of frozen air into the room. The miniature blizzard swallowed every single Gastly, releasing enough mist at the sides to hide her and her Pokemon from the trainers sharing the room with her.

    "W-what was that!?" Rhin asked, covering his face with the folds of his sleeve.

    Once the mist and cold dissipated they were left alone with a room full of immobile corpses, the Gastlys controlling them having fled after the devastating attack.

    "S-she took them all out at once," Siegfried said, incredulous.

    "Wait, where is she?" Mycroft asked.

    They looked towards the door behind the counter where the strange girl had previously been. It was now empty, no trainer or Pokemon to be seen. They waited for a few moments to see if more zombies would approach them, but only silence met them.

    About a street away from the bar, the girl they'd just met ran as fast as her legs allowed, her long sleeves flapping in the wind behind her. Dratini slithered as she followed her, a look of boredom in her eyes.

    "That place didn't look very safe, Milkshake!" she smiled nervously. "We should probably run back to Saffron at once!"

    ---------------------------------------
    Route 7 spread in front of them endlessly, only tall grass and clear skies there to meet them. Sabrina would've considered the sight beautiful were it not for the pillar of black smoke coming out of the city.

    After some deliberation they decided to stick around the route a bit longer, looking for chances to train their Pokemon for the upcoming mission. For some ungodly reason the young girl had decided to follow them, now skipping alongside Silver as she held his Swablu in her arms.

    Can't really blame her, Sabrina thought. If I were her I'd take any chance I could get to escape that shithole.

    "So… Loli's coming with us then?" Ñako asked, raising an eyebrow. "Or did I get this wrong?"

    "My name isn't Loli," she frowned. "It's…"

    "From now on your name is Loli because we say so."

    Judging by her lack of protest she seemed to accept the terms rather easily. After a moment of consideration she grabbed onto Silver's arm and smiled.

    "We're going to the house of that sir's sister now?" she asked, excitement clear in her voice. "So I can help her!"

    Sabrina froze for a moment, not sure if she'd heard right. Slowly she turned her head towards the girl; the look she gave her cold enough to freeze a lake.

    "Wow…" she said. "Are you braindead or what?"

    Loli reeled back for a moment, "U-uh… so, your little sister is okay?"

    "No, she's dead," Sabrina said, voice taciturn. "I killed her."

    "O-oh."

    "And you're next if you keep calling me sir."

    Ñako walked next to her, an eyebrow raised, and leaned in to whisper something into her ear.

    "That thing about your sister... that's a lie too, right?"

    "God…" she sighed. "Just… just shut up, all of you."

    Before she could finish considering whether punching the ninja in the face was worthwhile or not, everyone's attention turned towards the grass as it rustled next to them.

    A small, round creature peeked through it, her soft blue eyes staring curiously at the group of trainers. The moment Loli's eyes fell on the Jigglypuff she let out a huge gasp and put both hands on her chest.

    "IT'S SO CUTE!" She yelled, almost blowing everyone's eardrums up. "Can we catch it? Please, please!"

    Silver scratched his cheek and smiled, "Alright, but only if you behave." He looked at the Spearow on his shoulder. "Go ahead Pogo, try not to eat her. Oh, and her name's gonna be Regordeta!"

    Pogo let out a loud chirp and dived towards his opponent, opening his beak in anticipation. The Jiglypuff's eyes narrowed and her cheeks puffed. She wound back her arm, which caught ablaze as she threw it forward. Spearow felt the heat even before the stubby hand dug into his cheek, sending him a few feet back with a burn that stung badly.

    "Sir, that's not a normal Jigglypuff!" Loli exclaimed. "She knows how to use Fire Punch!"

    "Didn't I tell you to beh-" Silver saw as his Pokemon was so easily repelled. "Hey Pogo come on, hit the chubster!"

    Sabrina headed north, looking for her own training opportunities. Soon she noticed a few blades of grass which looked different than the rest; a lot shorter and darker. Beneath them was the figure of a creature which looked like a blue onion, with two small red eyes. The Oddish shuddered under her gaze, and soon a couple more joined him. They moved the leaves on their heads ominously, releasing a yellow cloud of powder. However it didn't seem too effective as the wind carried it in the opposite direction.

    The three Pokemon seemed to shrink in fear as they saw this and Sabrina almost felt pity for them. Not enough not to fight them, she thought as she opened two Pokeballs. From the first emerged a fox like creature with six fluffy tails and from the second appeared Gouda.

    "Gouda, take care of the one in the middle," she ordered. "Rokon, the other two are yours."

    The Vulpix turned his head towards her and his expression sent shivers down her spine. Not only were his eyes bloodshot and almost bulging out of their sockets, but a concerning amount of saliva dripped down his sharp fangs to his chin as he smiled wickedly.

    Huh, so that's why he was so cheap.

    Gouda also looked at her, but with disdain instead of whatever Rokon's expression was. Sabrina didn't know what kind of tasks she was used to from her previous master, but taking on an onion with legs was probably beneath her.

    "Hey, can't jump out of a moving train every day," she shrugged. "Let's shrink that belly, alright?"

    While the two completely obliterated the defenseless Oddish, she decided to spectate the other fights. Ñako faced against a similar number of grass Pokemon with the Bulbasaur he'd received from Mullac, while Silver still had trouble against the fluffy ball of pink, which seemed bent on hitting her opponent with as much fire as possible.

    "That Regordeta is on fire!" Silver yelled. "She wants to cook Pogo!

    In the time it took her to listen to that and turn back, all the Oddish had been defeated. One of them had fallen face first into the ground, while the other two were burnt to a crisp, the ground crackling with fire from under them.

    She noticed another pair of eyes on her, these ones belonging to something a bit more respectable looking. Another Drowzee, identical to Gouda with the exception of his look of fear, hid a soon as they noticed him.

    Gouda took a step forward, but Sabrina patted her on the shoulder before she could attack.

    "Sorry for interrupting your battle for honor, but this one's for Carrie."

    Scyther appeared like a shadow behind her, expression darkening as she faced her opponent. Sabrina placed a hand on her forehead.

    "Your first battle," she declared. "Impress me."

    She didn't know what she expected, really. Perhaps for Carrie to jump forward and flat out eat the poor thing. She would've even tolerated her walking away from the fight, considering the Drowzee too beneath her.

    How naïve of me.

    What Sabrina didn't expect was for Carrie to hide behind her, shaking from tip to toe like a wet Poochyena.

    "Ah… should've imagined it."

    It wasn't enough with a schizophrenic Vulpix and a Drowzee with an attitude, no sir. The Scyther needed to have a personality flaw ridiculous enough to be part of the team.

    "You fear Pokemon combat, don't you?"

    The Scyther lowered her head, cheeks turning a dark green.

    "Oh well, nothing I can do. You'll be a means of transportation for the rest of your days," she said, not bothering looking at her. A Pokemon who didn't fight was garbage who didn't deserve her time. "Rokon, you go."

    Unexpectedly Carrie took a step forward, still shaking, and faced her opponent. She was clearly afraid out of her mind.

    "Well, if you insist. Go ahead."

    She noticed movement at the edge of her vision. The grass rustled almost imperceptibly, revealing something that ran through it at high speeds towards her Pokemon. Her eyes went wide as she saw it jump at Carrie, long claws wound back and shining under the sunlight.

    "****, Carrie!"

    She didn't have time to dodge. The Meowth slashed at Carrie's face with all the strength he had in him, penetrating skin and leaving three deep cuts over her right eye.

    Sabrina felt her throat turn to ice. The cigarette fell from her fingers. Images flashed through her eyes and, for a moment, she could hear it clearly.

    ---------------------------------------
    》"Here again? Aren't you tired of being beaten to a pulp every day?"

    A furious man stood at the other side of the arena, a heavy iron crucifix hanging from his neck. From the Pokeball in his hand emerged his only Pokemon; a grim looking Scyther.

    "Shut up!" He pointed at Sabrina, eyes lit with fury and disbelief. "I'll show you that I can win without resorting to dirty tricks like you, brat!"《

    ---------------------------------------
    "Gouda, protect Carrie!" Sabrina yelled, the words leaving her mouth before she had time to process them.

    Her Drowzee only raised an eyebrow at her before obeying. She pointed one hand at the Meowth and released a small wave of psychic energy, which threw him backwards and stunned him momentarily.

    Sabrina stared in horror, the realization of what she'd done flooding her. Heat rising to her face, she returned Carrie to her Pokeball and looked around to make sure no one else had seen that.

    Why did I have to remember that now? She lamented herself.

    "Scythers are very rare and valuable, I can't find one in the dumpster like you idiots." She pathetically excused herself to her Pokemon, who weren't listening to her in the first place.

    Gouda emerged victorious against both the Meowth and Drowzee, though it was clear the battle had taken a heavy toll on her. Sabrina was sure of one thing; she hadn't done it out of respect for her or to protect her teammate, but because she'd been trained to obey blindly, no matter what were to happen to her.

    Does she see me like one of those robed bastards? She thought, Am I the same as them for her?

    With a sour taste in her mouth she gave her a pat on the head and returned her to her Pokeball, trying not to think about it.

    In the distance she noticed Ñako straight up kicking Oddish left and right, who didn't stop coming towards him.

    "I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL KILL EVERY ****ING ODDISH IN KANTO!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. "EVERY SINGLE ONE!"

    ---------------------------------------
    After a while she decided to find greener pastures for her training, walking away from the rest. Silver managed to catch the Jigglypuff after a lot of effort on his part, and Ñako took the opportunity to catch the Meowth Gouda had left unconscious.

    The tall grass became more peaceful as she kept walking, until she began to loop around towards Saffron once more. She was about to call it quits when a strange sound of metal hitting the ground reached her.

    She froze, silently debating what to do. The obvious answer would be to run, obviously, but something akin to curiosity told her she shouldn't.

    After a few seconds of walking she spotted the source of the sound. Standing on the middle of the field was a young man with curly black hair, wearing a sleeveless shirt and worn out jeans. But what caught her attention was the thing in his right hand; an ornate, heavy looking silver sword. It was almost as tall as he was, which spoke volumes of the man's strength considering how easily he was carrying it.

    Her steps were heard by him, and their eyes met once he turned around. His were narrowed, though more due to boredom than anything else.

    Another trainer hired by Mullac? She thought, Or a mercenary trying to make a name for himself?

    The two stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, green eyes clashing against soft brown. Finally Sabrina broke the ice, staring down to the strange collar hanging from his neck and then away as she showed him her back.

    "Be careful if you plan to go to Saffron," she said, putting her hands on her pockets. "Later."

    ---------------------------------------
    Vard breathed in deeply, admiring the landscape before him.

    "Ah, mother nature spreads before us like a cheap whore of Pallet Town!"

    They'd made it out of the slums and walked uphill through the nearest route, stopping on a small mound just outside the city. Behind him Sammy and Siegfried sat against a nearby tree, recovering their strength, while Rhin and Mycroft looked around for wild Pokemon.

    "I don't know about you," said Sammy, "but I think I had my fair share of exploring for today."

    "We should probably go back to Saffron and rest," Siegfried offered. "It can't be safe to stay outside the city."

    Sammy sighed, one hand on her knee, "I doubt those things will come back, since we're in an open field."

    The sound of flapping wings made its way towards Vard, who perked up his nose curiously. On top of the fence separating them from the city now rested a bird Pokemon covered in black feathers, with something that looked like a hat on top of his head.

    Those black wings flapping, the blood red eyes, the funny beak… a single thought came to Vard's mind.

    Could he take the hat off if he wanted?

    "You rascal bird!" he pointed at him, his other hand curled into a fist. "You shall be Vard's new servant in the skies! Pikachu, make your will known!"

    An explosion of light came out of the man's afro, where the Pokeball was located. Pikachu climbed his way through the prison of hair and emerged with a clear look of Please never release me there again.

    "Storm of Osiris!"

    While Vard was busy with his fight both Mycroft and Rhin saw the grass rustling their way. Two canine looking Pokemon approached, one covered in orange and black fur and the other one sporting a skull like mark on his forehead.

    Rhin smiled, looking directly at the Growlithe, "I'll take care of this one. Keroro, out!"

    Next to him Mycroft released the Pokemon he'd received from Mullac; the Squirtle stared down his opponent with clear worry in his face.

    "Alright Barty, I'll need your help," Mycroft said, smiling. "This time it won't be a battle for our lives, so it'll be okay."

    The fire Pokemon they were facing were quick and powerful, but with a bit of strategy and taking Barty's type advantage into consideration the battle slowly began to tip in their favor.

    "Barty, careful!" Mycroft warned, "That Houndoom will…"

    Grass rustled behind him. Another wild Pokemon? He turned around as fast as he could but only managed to make out the vague shape of… a hat with cat ears? He had to be hallucinating.

    Oh well.

    The fight didn't last much longer, and soon all three of the trainers managed to catch the Pokemon giving them trouble. Mycroft kneeled to pick up the ball with his new companion inside, and smiled.

    "This wasn't in the plan, but welcome to the team nonetheless Helga," he said. "I hope we can become…"

    Something traveled through the grass too fast for him to see properly. Something long and thin, which proceeded to coil around his leg strongly enough to almost topple him to the ground.

    "Agh, what the…!"

    Thick, blue vines were grabbing his ankle, and as he followed them he saw the Pokemon they belonged to. A tiny ball of vines with feet and two dark eyes hidden underneath.

    He could swear he saw the thing smile happily at him.

    ---------------------------------------
    The sun had almost gone down by the time Ñako and Silver walked back to Saffron. The city itself was livelier than usual, though the ninja attributed it to the fact that they'd recently burnt down the market. Not that anyone could know that, considering all the witnesses were either dead, indebted to them or grabbing Silver's arm. It was a shame that didn't stop most of the people they came across from hurling insults at them.

    "Those are Mullac's people!"

    "Scum that's ruining the region!"

    "Get out of our city!"

    Loli was shaken by such strong words, but the two trainers simply ignored them as they walked, the shape of Silph Co. growing in the distance.

    They kept walking for a few minutes, the barrage of screams and insults never stopping for more than a few seconds. None of them startled Ñako, until they were a couple streets from the building and he heard something actually surprising.

    "It's… it's you! You came back!"

    They were approached by the exact opposite of what he expected from a citizen of Saffron. A frail, old lady with a bag of groceries still hanging from one of her arms. Her wide smile exacerbated the dozens of wrinkles around her face.

    Ñako was too stunned to speak as the woman walked towards, eyes watering.

    "I knew it, it really is you!" she said, voice trembling but full of emotion. "You look a bit younger, but your eyes! Your eyes are the same as the last time I saw you!"

    "Wh-hey!" Ñako moved his arm urgently as the woman tried to touch him. "I don't know what you're talking about, hag! I've never set foot on this dump!"

    He got away from the woman as fast as he could, Silver and Loli following behind with frowns of confusion adorning their faces. He shook his head and tried to get what had just happened out of his head; what the hell had that been about?

    Finally they reached the street in front of Silph Co and noticed Vard's group waiting for them. The man with the pink afro turned towards them as they approached, smiling thoughtlessly.

    "You lot look like you fell on a pit full of dung," he said. "And then you fornicated with it."

    "Ah… we had something of a situation," Ñako admitted. "When the black market burned down and all that."

    Rhin glared daggers at him, arms crossed. He then looked at the girl accompanying Silver.

    "You got tired of killing people so you've resorted to kidnapping?" he asked, voice full of poison.

    "Geez, what an attitude."

    They exchanged stories while they waited for the rest to arrive, the only ones silent being Rhin and Mycroft who seemed preoccupied with their own thoughts. Once the sun went down all the way they noticed Sabrina approach from a nearby street, hands on her pockets.

    "Ah… if that duck gave me a cold…" she whispered to herself, eyebrows knit together.

    Sammy raised an eyebrow, "Duck?"

    "Oh hey, we're almost all here," Sabrina ignored her. "Where's the guy with white hair? Wolf…something."

    As if on cue the glass doors of the building opened up and five people stepped through it. In front were two of the men working under Mullac, their faces hidden by identical masks. They held Wolfswift as he walked towards them, the state of his body even managing to make Sabrina flinch momentarily.

    He was covered in gauze and his eyes were bandaged. Several cuts and bruises could be seen on him, blood staining the black fabric of his shirt.

    "They found him outside the city."

    Mullac was the fourth person, accompanied by someone who seemed to be hiding behind him. He spoke with his usual calming tone, pointing at the wounded boy.

    "My men did everything in their power to heal his wounds," he assured them. "However, I'm afraid that his eyes are beyond recovery."

    The two men holding Wolfswift let him go. He tumbled forward and fell to his knees, clenching his teeth in pain.

    "This mission will be incredibly dangerous," Mullac said, "and there will surely be others looking for the same objects; it wouldn't be a stretch to consider the possibility that you'll run into them. You might end up like this boy, or even worse."

    Rhin took a step forward, wanting to help the man but afraid he might attack him, "How… what happened to you?"

    "Tsk…" Wolfswift got to his feet with difficulty, legs still wobbling. "There were… too many of them. I couldn't do anything."

    Sabrina simply stared at the sorry state he was in, wondering if he'd even be useful for the mission. What if he turned into a burden? What if that burden cost them their life? It would've been merciful to either force him to stay or take him out of his misery.

    Would someone miss him if he were gone? She thought, shoulders dropping. Does he have someone back home waiting for him?

    Silver tapped Loli in the shoulder and pointed at Wolfswift, "Hey, see if those hooded guys did anything to him."

    She nodded enthusiastically and kneeled next to the man, swiftly inspecting all his wounds with a steady hand.

    "Sir, he was very well taken care of," she said. "But… they were right, his eyes…"

    A few feet from them Vard crossed his arms and smiled.

    "Very well done, my foreman!" He patted Silver on the shoulder. "That girl will be a good asset for the Team of Vard! For your foresight I give you this!"

    He fumbled around inside his cape for a moment until he found what he was looking for. Grabbing it by the tail he showed Silver an upside down, passed out Rattata with his tongue sticking out.

    "He's not dead, just shake it a little."

    "You've had that thing in your cape for hours?" Sammy asked, horrified.

    "Thank you so much, Vard sir!" Silver said, voice turning bubbly in excitement. "I promise I'll train him as if he were my own sister!"

    While everyone around him wondered what the hell he'd meant by that, Mullac approached them and cleared his throat, grabbing their attention.

    "By the way, I believe it's time for me to introduce you."

    He moved to the side, revealing the person who was hiding behind him. Everyone who'd been at the slums that afternoon recognized her immediately by the unmistakable hat with cat ears and the long sleeved sweatshirt.

    "She is a trainer that will travel with you," Mullac explained. "She calls herself Muffin."

    "It's the girl from the bar," Mycroft said, eyes wide.

    "Bar?" Silver smiled, "What bar? You guys had fun without us?"

    The girl apparently named Muffin introduced herself quietly, though it was clear by her narrowed eyes that she didn't quite trust the group she'd been stuck with.

    After a few minutes of preparations Mullac gave each one of them a small backpack, which felt comfortably heavy as they carried it. Sabrina had to dump her old one and put the crossbow inside the new one along with everything else.

    "Those have a few rations of food and a tent," Mullac said. "It's all I can give you until your return, I'm afraid."

    The man turned to the side, eyes lost on the endless landscape leading north. He waited for a few moments before speaking again.

    "As I've explained before, your mission is to find the underground dungeon hidden within Pewter's abandoned prison. Inside one of the cells you will find the object I want. I recommend you travel through Route 5 tonight, as you will be safer under the blanket of darkness.

    "The first city you'll encounter will be Cerulean; you might stop there to rest and buy more provisions were they to run out. After that you'll walk towards Mt. Moon and head north. It's a long, arduous path but I trust you can handle it."

    He narrowed his eyes, and a gleam of something like sadness appeared behind them.

    "That is all. Good luck."

    ---------------------------------------
    They were almost an hour into the road through Route 5 when Mycroft slowed his walking, purposely falling behind.

    He'd been so nervous in front of Mullac he hadn't gotten a word in. How could he? He'd been lucky to put that inside his pocket instead of the backpack he had to empty in front of the man. Had it been there, he would've seen it and all his plans would've collapsed on the spot.

    As the others went ahead he put one hand inside the pocket of his overcoat. He had to make sure it was still there, as stupid as it was. Slowly he took it out, and the light made his eyes itchy.

    In his hand he held a long, pristine golden feather. It glowed with a powerful, multicolor gleam and the very touch of it sent shivers through his skin. Its warmth had been the only thing keeping him from fleeing as soon as their mission had been revealed.

    Mullac's words came to mind once more. The legend of Ho-oh, and the divine power it had given humanity long ago…

    If the man knew he held one of the objects he was looking for, Mycroft would surely be killed on the spot. He needed to protect it.

    He needed to keep Ho-oh's feather safe.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  8. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    Ah, right. I'm starting to get the measure of this fic a bit more now, the kind of people it's trying to describe and the sort of work it's doing, so! Expectations adjusted, on with chapter three. I like the way that Sabrina's bluff works way too well and ends up getting her a wrong result; that's a very tabletop game kinda thing, where (in a good game, anyway) rolling brilliantly isn't always a guarantee of success, and you translate it really nicely into more traditional fiction.

    Also, this is a very combat-heavy fic, but like, there's a lot of variation in the way you set up the combat situations. The assault on the train, the market fight with the fire at the back, and now a siege situation (in a pub, with zombies clawing at the walls, which is obviously quite familiar, and which made me smile) – these feel like they've been quite carefully planned out. I don't know how many liberties you took when rewriting this campaign as a story, so I'm not sure whether that's down to you or to the original DM, but it's definitely a strength; if there's going to be two or three fights a chapter, it's best that they be distinctive.

    Which is probably why the battle against the growlithe and the houndour feels a bit too compressed; after all these cool, detailed fights, this one is over and done with in just a sentence – which might be a missed opportunity. You make Sabrina's pokémon really distinctive and characterful, and if other team members' pokémon got some more screentime, so to speak, they could have some of the same treatment.

    And then it looks like Mycroft's been put in a difficult situation by responding to Mullac's ad, huh. A rainbow wing? I wonder how he came by that – and what it will mean for him later on, because I seriously doubt that that's going to stay secret forever.

    Finally, here's the usual list of little nitpicky things I noticed:

    That should be “on” rather than “in” – she's tapping the surface of the shoulder, not the interior.
    There should be a comma after “you” there.
    “Declared” doesn't have to be capitalised here – a bit of dialogue ending with an exclamation or question mark behaves in the same way as dialogue ending with a comma, so there's no need to capitalise the dialogue attribution.
    These lines before the dialogue should end with full stops – since they're not a “he said” kind of line, they can't really attach to the dialogue like that.
    I think what you mean here is that his eyes are bulging out of their sockets – if that's right, then I think saying that they're “out of their orbits” would make that clearer. Each eye has an orbit of its own, so it should be pluralised.
    Should be “on” rather than “in”.
     
  9. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Ahh your replies are so nice :D

    Well if you like that then let me assure you; the DM of this campaign absolutely loves using this strategy. Hopefull you'll get a few chuckles in the chapters to come because of this :D And yeah, Sabrina totally deserved that.

    If there's one strength to this story it's (at least to me) the huge variety of combat situations/problems the characters have to deal with. I hope I'll be able to portray that accurately.

    Yeah... I can definitely see this, unfortunately. When I re-edit this chapter I'll try to add a bit more detail to that particular fight as to expand the characters and Pokemon. As you said, Sabrina's are definitely the most charismatic ones. Problem is; that's because the girl playing her was amazing at that and gave every single Pokemon of hers a distinct quirk and personality. The others tried as well, but definitely not with as much intent as her.

    With that said, I'll try my best to give the others a bit more screentime and see what I can do to make the other Pokemon seem more lively.

    I can never thank you enough for these xD damn, some of these are embarassing, and I edited the chapter like four times.

    Seriously, you're the best :D Thank you so much for your helpful comments, they always make me happy.
     
  10. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Name's Adam.

    Chapter 1 Review

    As far as first impressions go, I'd say this story is... intriguing, for lack of a better term. Now, I won't say you handled your massive cast in the first chapter exceptionally, but you didn't do it poorly either. At best, it could've been done better, but it was done well enough to make it fun for the most part.

    You especially did well with some of the jokes, and the characters have colorful enough personalities to make them all stand out from one another. I can't say which one of them is my favorite yet, cuz there's too many to choose from right now, and we've not seen enough of them to become attached.

    Still, this story is different, and I can definitely see potential in it. I'm definitely hooked for more of this.
     
  11. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    DreamSayer: Thank you so much for reading!! I hope the rest of it will leave you intrigued and entertained enough to want to come back.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Rivals - Part 1

    A pestering, ever-present uneasiness followed Mycroft as they made their way toward Cerulean. The decrepit city they’d left behind was nothing more than a miniscule speck in the horizon now, which did little to ease the anxiety bubbling in his stomach. He wouldn’t be surprised if Mullac could still see them, all the way here.

    He headed to the right of the dirt road they were traversing, sticking next to Samantha who spearheaded the walk with both hands on the wrinkly map she’d found inside her backpack. He felt a bit more comfortable in that position; not that he trusted any of them but at the very least she wouldn’t randomly burn down the first thing she encountered.

    “I’ve never gone through this road before,” she told the rest, eyes glued to the map, “but as long as we keep going north…”

    “Who put the redhead in charge?” asked Ñako, stomping the ground with wild abandon. Muffin walked behind him, a constant frown on her face.

    Samantha scowled, the bridge of her nose getting all wrinkly, “No one, and I don’t want to be in charge either but someone has to get us to Cerulean.”

    As soon as she said that her legs stopped moving, which led Mycroft to crash against her back. The rest of the group stopped as well, half confused and half irritated.

    “Did you hear that?” she whispered, narrowing her eyes. “There! Look!”

    “Already giving orders?” said Silver, forming a lascivious smile. “Nice. I like them fierce.”

    “Shut up and follow me!”

    They did as they were told –some reluctantly– as she sneaked her way through some nearby bushes at the side of the road. Soon they were all kneeling in wet mud behind a tall line of brambles. Samantha’s gaze was set on a familiar shape in the distance.

    “See? There’s a cabin in there,” she told the rest, pointing at the lone, small building. “And the lights are on.”

    Sabrina raised an eyebrow, “We’re hiding… from a cabin,” she asked, cigarette still hanging from her mouth.

    “We don’t know who’s in there, and Mullac did tell us to be careful,” she replied. “Besides, if what he told us is true, then there might be… others, looking for the same object as we are.”

    A long, awkward silence followed her statement, and some eyebrows were raised her way. Most of them realized her scenario was a bit too specific for it not to be a coincidence. However before anyone could bring it up, Siegfried spoke:

    “Sammy is right. The prudent option would be to silently move through the tall grass until…”

    His words were interrupted as Vard stood up, startling his companions and splashing mud all around him. He pointed forward with one finger, sporting a wide grin as he yelled:

    “Humbug! Only a coward hides in the wet grass of Route 4!”

    Mycroft stared at the man slack-jawed, a single thought going through his mind.

    You cannot be serious.

    The ninja was the first to reply, “Vard, this is Route 5.”

    “Humbug I say!”

    Strong rays of light broke through his pink afro, and after a few moments emerged from it a Pokemon with black, long wings and a sharp yellow beak.

    “What are you doing!?” protested Sammy, eyes wide in anger.

    “Do not fear my friends, leave this to Vard!” he replied, raising his hand to the sky. “Yamikarazu, take me to the ceiling of that cabin!”

    Rhin scoffed, “Yeah right, and I’m sure they won’t see you with that pink cape of yours.”

    “Never underestimate your leader!” He grabbed the edge of his cape. “Secret technique of Vard Nº 32: Reversible cape!”

    With a quick motion he draped himself with the inside of the cloth, which was pitch black.

    “Sometimes my genius scares even me,” he said from inside his disguise. “I know you’d be trembling in fear like little girls were I to abandon you, so I’ll leave you this camouflage!” He looked up at the Murkrow flying above him. “Yamikarazu: Aero-distortion!”

    A strong flapping of wings was heard, followed by a sudden, thick layer of mist that started covering everything in between them and the cabin, to the point where it became difficult to see a few feet ahead. Sabrina recognized this as the effect of the move called Haze.

    A moment after, Vard was lifted from the ground as Murkrow grabbed him by the shoulders, slowly carrying him through the air towards the cabin.

    None of them spoke for a few seconds, either too dumbfounded or offended by what had just happened. Finally Ñako got to his feet, stretching both arms, and said.

    “All right, let’s steal.”

    “Huh?” Sabrina stared at him, frowning.

    “If you think about it, it’d be too much of a coincidence if the guys who want to kill us were to be in the only shining spot in the entire route,” he shrugged.

    Sabrina considered this, being the only one who understood his intentions right away. After a few moments she raised to her feet as well, sighing as she threw the cigarette to the ground.

    Siegfried was the next to stand up, sporting a frown full of worry, “You’ll need help if something happens.”

    “I’m going too!” Silver said, still holding on to Loli and with the Rattata Vard had given him on top of his head. “Loli, Raty, let’s go help our leader Vard.”

    All five of them –including Wolfswift who’d followed without a word– started walking through the thick of the fog toward the cabin. Soon the shapes of their bodies were swallowed by the mist, leaving the remaining four trainers staring at nothing.

    “They… they can’t be serious, right?” asked Muffin, forming a nervous smile.

    Mycroft placed his palm against his face, sighing deeply into it, “God, what is wrong with them!? Why are they all so useless!?”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Sabrina was slowly getting used to the group’s stupidity, to the point where the actions of the freak with the pink afro only somewhat managed to surprise her. She would’ve liked to believe this was a good omen, but only time would tell.

    The ninja did have a point, though. At worst they would find an empty cabin without anything to steal inside. The chances of running into someone hostile were astronomically low, or at least that’s what logic dictated. God knows her bad luck had displayed the ability to **** into even the most solid of logic in the past.

    As if prompted by her thoughts, she saw as Vard reached the ceiling of the cabin and set foot on it, smiling as he turned around to face them.

    “I am okay, the great Vard will never l–!”

    The tiles broke from under him. Through the thick of the fog she saw the dark figure that was his body fall down at an alarming speed, followed by the sound of him crashing against something that shattered upon impact.

    “It looks like he fell,” said the one who talked a lot, pointing out the obvious.

    “Oh my god,” Sabrina whispered, rubbing her temples. “I’m guessing the whole stealth plan kinda fell off.” It took her a moment to realize the pun she just made. “If we’re gonna pillage we might as well do it already.”

    The gunfreak with white hair stared all around him, clearly confused.

    “Pillage? Where?” he asked. “Who just talked?”

    “Oh yeah, you… Wolfsomething,” the ninja gave him a poke on the shoulder. “Stay here and watch our backs.”

    Without another word he approached the cabin like a kid excited for his Christmas presents. He stopped just before the door and raised his leg as high as he could, a deranged smile on his face. She didn’t need to be psychic, which she was, to guess what he was about to do.

    “GOOOOOD DAY!” Ñako yelled as he kicked the door with all his strength, making it fly off its hinges and into the inside of the cabin.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    The first thing he saw was Vard, his torso slightly buried into the wooden floor and two halves of a broken table at his right and left. Next to him was a chubby man somewhere in his forties, sitting on a chair and clearly in shock. At the other side of the room, standing on the sill of the door leading to what looked like a kitchen, was an old lady with a silver plate on her hands, which had two glasses and a jar full of water.

    Not exactly what he expected.

    Vard raised his trembling hand and gave him a thumbs up, still covered in wood planks, “Your leader is fine!”

    “Uh…” the old lady looked at Vard, then at Ñako and then at his husband, “V-visitors?”

    The rest of the group arrived at the door. Siegfried let out a sigh, halfway between relief and exasperation, as he entered the cabin.

    “Vard, you should be more careful with that bird of yours,” he said, his voice that of a scolding parent. His knees bent slightly down as he performed a cordial bow towards the old couple. “My most sincere apologies, you two. Me and my friends thought this cabin was abandoned.”

    “Oh… yes, it’s fine dear,” the woman said, forming a nervous smile.

    “Is it!?” Her husband asked, standing up from the chair, brow furrowed.

    She shot him an icy look and the man crossed his arms, looking to the side.

    “Ah, of course, I forgot to introduce myself!” Siegfried added, rubbing the back of his head, a warm smile on his face. “My name is Siegfried, and I’m a Pokemon trainer.”

    “It’s a pleasure, dear,” the woman nodded, leaving the plate in another, smaller table next to her. “We don’t see many trainers around here these days. Me and my husband… we’re in charge of a daycare, as you can see.”

    She pointed at a small wooden plank protruding out of the wall. On top of it sat two Pokemon eggs; each one covered in differently colored spots. Both had a small piece of paper stuck to them with a name: Caroline and Nobu.

    “It’s a shame we don’t get many clients these days,” she sighed, the lines on her face exacerbating. “Times being what they are.”

    Siegfried was about to reply politely when he felt a tap on the shoulder. When he turned around he found himself face to face with Sabrina, whose eyes had a gleam in them he didn’t like one bit.

    Let me handle this one, her gaze said.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Sabrina stared with disdain as Siegfried went on and on, putting on the scout boy act and getting on the old couple’s good side. He’d probably get one of the eggs for his troubles too, if things kept going his way. She looked at the plank; there was still another one there. It wasn’t too late to perform a little magic.

    Besides, she needed something to distract Silver and the ninja before they got bored and started doing something stupid. Cracking her knuckles she gently pushed Siegfried aside, presenting herself to the owners of the cabin.

    She put her hat into place, already forming that fake, courteous smile she’d used before. She could almost hear the unanimous Oh no in everyone’s minds.

    “I deeply apologize for any trouble we might have caused you, my wrinkly friends,” she said, imitating Siegfried’s bow. “As my companion said, we thought this house was empty, which is why we choose it to film the choreography for our next single.”

    The couple blinked a few times, until the woman mumbled:

    “S-single?”

    Sabrina leaned her head to the side, faking surprise, “Oh, do you not recognize us? Then allow me to introduce our group.”

    She extended her arms to the side, pointing towards the five other people with her.

    “We… are Rosita Storm,” she declared with a smile. “The founding band of the musical genre Death Metal Trash Cumbia.”

    She had to try hard not to laugh at everyone’s expressions once they processed her words.

    “A-ah…” the old man said.

    “That one over there is Silver, our singer and lead guitar, accompanied by his faithful assistant,” Without missing a beat the aforementioned winked and raised his hand as if greeting his fans. “The one outside is Wolfswift, our drummer," White hair guy reacted at the sound of his name, looking around in confusion. “Next to me is Ñako, main bassist.” The ninja started playing air guitar, eyes tightly closed in concentration. “And my very educated friend here is Daniel Agostini, master of organ and tambourine.”

    Why am I the only one with a different name? his expression seemed to ask.

    “And of course, the man fallen from the sky,” She pointed at the pink afro freak, who promptly got to his feet and glamorously draped himself in his cape. “Vard, choreographer and in charge of outfits.”

    Another moment of silence. She needed to get to the point fast.

    “Ah, how impolite of me. I am Sabrina, the manager,” She pressed the button on her Pokeball, and a flash of light materialized on top of her hat. The bloodthirsty Vulpix started shaking his head up and down as soon as he appeared. “And this is Rokon, the band’s mascot.”

    “I…”

    “In any case!” she interrupted, clearing her throat. “We are very sorry for your troubles; I assure you that our roadies will pay for all the damage done to this cabin.” She looked at the two eggs, it was time for the final act. Summoning all the seriousness in her she spoke again. “But before we go, and if it’s not a bother, my venerable elders… would you mind doing a favor to one of our youngest fans?”

    The couple nodded slowly.

    “Jaime is 8 years old, and is suffering from a terrible disease for which there is no cure…”

    Again!? was clearly written on Silver, Loli and Ñako’s face.

    “His biggest dream has always been to witness the birth of a Pokemon, and we wish…” She lowered her head, leaving space for a dramatic pause. “Since our music isn’t enough… we would like to, at the very least, fulfill his dream before he has to pass into the next world. Would you… would you be kind enough to help us accomplish that?”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    The old couple exchanged a look, not quite convinced that what the strange woman in the worn hat said was true.

    “Well…” said the man. “The first egg… I guess you could have it, since its trainer hasn’t shown up.”

    “Are you sure that’s a good idea, dear?” his wife asked, eyebrows knit together. “Maybe there’s a reason that person couldn’t come to retrieve it.”

    “In that case we should still give it away,” he argued. “The longer we have these the higher the chance the authorities find out, and you know what they think about us.”

    He grabbed the one with Nobu written to it and handed it over to Siegfried, to the great indignation of Sabrina. She formed a scowl that could’ve frozen a lake and took a cigarette from her pocket, raising it to her head so Rokon could light it.

    “Can we get out of this ****ing cabin already?”

    The couple turned towards her, startled by her sudden change in attitude. But before they could say anything a strong, fruity smell entered the cabin from outside, followed by the sound of wooden heels hitting the ground.

    “Granny, sorry for entering…” A soft, slightly grating voice flooded the room. “Oh… oh no, what a disaster! What horror!”

    Through the sill of the door walked a rather tall and voluptuous woman in her mid twenties. A messy curtain of hair fell towards her hip, blonde turning into pink at the tips of it. She wore a short jean skirt and a bright pink top. She chewed on a piece of strawberry gum, its strong smell hitting everyone as soon as she took a step inside.

    “Oh my gosh, like… this thing with the door on the floor, it’s super in! Very rural and junk.” she exclaimed, smiling brightly. “Oh my, I love this one’s hair? What is it?” she walked next to Vard, studying him as if he were part of the house’s decoration.

    Every single person in the room was stunned by either the girl’s appearance or her strange way of speaking. The old lady was the first to address her, clearing her throat as she did so:

    “Caroline…” she smiled nervously. “What a pleasant surprise; just last night your two Pokemon had the egg you wanted. Here, allow me.”

    She handed the remaining egg to the girl, who held it in her hands with delicacy.

    “I’m like… totally a genius, am I right?” she grinned from ear to ear, her teeth pearly white.

    “Y-yes. By the way, is Nobu with you?” the woman asked, her gaze veering toward Siegfried. “Would he like his egg as well?”

    “Nah, he liked the last one I gave him so like, he doesn’t want that one.” She pointed to the egg in Siegfried’s hand. “He said you can have it.”

    “Oh, what a good news for you, then!” The woman turned towards Siegfried, smiling. “Though… Nobu should’ve told me he didn’t want the egg. A responsible trainer doesn’t let his Pokemon get into situations like this,” she scolded Caroline.

    “Uh… yeah,” the girl replied, clearly not understanding the situation. “Alright granny, I gotta go! The boys are outside waiting and like, it’s really cold outside and we gotta travel a lot. Oh hey, you’re drinking water?” She looked at Sabrina and Ñako, who were next to the table with glasses full of water. “Aw, I like that! Take care of your health, okay? Bye!”

    She waved enthusiastically and left through the door, leaving a room full of very confused people behind. Sabrina blinked a few times, still unable to fully process what had just happened.

    “Did… did she say that the boys were waiting for her outside?” she asked, still somewhat shaken.

    Ñako gulped and tried to wipe off the drool off his chin, “Ah… I wasn’t really listening, to be honest.”

    He addressed the old lady, “Excuse me, who was that… uh, girl? We would like to… recruit her to be the dancer of our band. Yeah, that.”

    “Oh, Caroline?” she said. “All we know about her is that she’s a very talented trainer, despite what one might think at first sight.”

    Sabrina raised an eyebrow at that statement, though before she could say something she heard Silver’s voice calling to her.

    “Hey, Flaca!” he yelled, peeking his head into the cabin. “We might have a situation outside.”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Mycroft cursed under his breath the whole time they sneaked through the tall grass, trying to get past the cabin.

    “Bunch of clueless baboons, each and every single one of them,” he spat out, voice full of venom.

    Next to him the girl with the cat eared hat twiddled with her fingers through the fabric of her long sleeves. Worry was written all over her face.

    “It’s been a while since they’ve gone in,” she said, looking towards the cabin. “Maybe they need help.”

    Mycroft rolled his eyes at that, “Muffin, was it? I’m sorry to interrupt your train of thought…” he said, not even fazed by her stupid nickname due to how angry he was, “…but it looks like our companions lack all semblance of both common sense and manners. They kicked the door down for god’s sake!”

    “Wait…” Samantha whispered, raising her arm to the side. “I hear something. Stay still.”

    They didn’t need to wait much to see what she was referring to. The sound of multiple steps reached them, and after a few seconds they noticed dark figures approaching from the mist, headed toward the cabin. At least six people, and the only thing visible about them was the weapon one of them held: a scythe similar to the one Silver had, except the blade went both ways and was considerably bigger. Just above where the pole met with metal there was a strange inscription or rune: what appeared to be the letter A with an eye in the middle of it. The man holding it was draped in a long, purple cloak which had certainly seen better days, its tattered hood covering most of his face.

    While Mycroft was too busy freaking out over the sight of that weapon, Samantha spoke, “That must be them! We need to hide until they pass us.”

    Rhin let out a short laugh, as if her words were the most ridiculous thing he’d heard in a long time.

    “Come on Sammy, that just looks like a group of trainers to me,” he said. “Besides, we’re not a bunch of criminals like the rest of the group; why should we hide as if we were?”

    He stood up before Sammy could stop him, and a moment after all of the dark figures turned towards him. Six pair of cold eyes fell on the boy, who tried his best to smile cheerfully.

    “Hey there! Nice night to travel, eh?” He waved with one hand. “Oh of course, where are my manners? My name is Rhin.”

    As he approached he was finally able to make out the group’s appearance. The one in front was a man with curly hair and a heavy looking sword resting on his right hand. He studied Rhin from tip to toe, though judging by his expression he didn’t consider him much of a threat.

    “Hello… Rhin, was it?” he spoke with a rather calm voice, curling the corners of his lips into a smile. “My name is Ryan. This guy over here is Dexter.” He leaned his head in the direction of the man with the scythe. He was the second tallest of the group; his bare arms and what he could see of his face were covered in a multitude of scars. “And this one next to me is Travis,” He pointed to the boy at his right; he was at least two heads shorter than Ryan, with vine tattoos curling around his arms and sporting a few piercings on his face. He held a drumstick in each hand.

    Rhin bowed to both of them though he could feel the raw animosity hitting him like a blizzard. Dexter hadn’t moved an inch, and neither had the grin of sharp teeth he showed him. He could barely make out the other three people behind them.

    “By the way…” said Ryan, his eyebrows knitting together in a way he didn’t’ like. “Isn’t it… dangerous, to travel alone through these parts?”

    He caressed the handle of his sword as he said that, and for a moment Rhin thoroughly understood the stupidity of his previous actions, as he tended to do a few seconds after making them.

    Luckily Ryan turned his head to the side as more footsteps approached. Rhin noticed the silhouette of Silver’s scythe breaking through the mist, soon accompanied by the rest of the group.

    “Ah, I see you have friends,” said Ryan, frowning.

    Ñako was the first to spot them and, surprisingly, he ran towards Rhin and smiled as he put one arm around his shoulder, a bit more… tenderly than he’d expected.

    “There you are!” the smelly ninja said, letting his weight fall on Rhin’s shoulder. “Thought we’d lost you!”

    “Agh!” Disgust was clear on his expression as he shoved the ninja to the side. “Don’t touch me, scum!”

    Ryan raised an eyebrow, amused, and a few giggles were heard from the people behind him.

    “Ah… I’m sorry you two, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” he tried to stifle his laughter. “If you want some time alone I’d be happy to…”

    His words drifted into the night as he noticed something behind one of the nearby bushes. A long mane of red, bright hair attached to a pair of eyes he knew too well. The mist had cleared enough for their gazes to meet, and they both pointed at each other simultaneously as they yelled:

    “YOU!”

    Sabrina, the second one to arrive, raised an eyebrow as Sammy and the sword guy she’d met in Saffron stared at each other, too stunned to say more.

    “Night of coincidences?” she whispered, eyes going from one to the other.

    --------------------------------------------------------
    》Outside of Saffron – A few hours before.

    Ryan raised his sword effortlessly, its edge only inches away from Sammy’s face.

    The two stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, a cavalcade of emotions storming inside them.

    “I saw you running around with that group of trainers,” he said, voice coming out a lot rougher than he intended. “Have you turned into a babysitter, Sammy?”

    The raw anger behind that pair of golden eyes almost made him regret his words. She took a deep breath before replying.

    “I believe I’ve always been one.”

    He formed a smile that didn’t extend to his eyes, “Always so quick with the snark. But I doubt the rest will be happy to see you. Especially after…”

    He didn’t need to say anything else. Both trainers shared a knowing look with too long of a history behind it.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Sabrina didn’t like the idea of interfering in other people’s business, especially when it had nothing to do with her. Still, judging by the way Curly and Sammy were staring each other down, she figured one of them might jump at each other’s throat any second now. She didn’t care much for the redhead, but would’ve preferred to postpone the bloodshed until a later date.

    To tell the truth, she somehow knew she’d run into that guy again, though not in the circumstances she was currently in.

    The wisest choice would’ve surely been to run away as fast as possible, though at the same time she had the inkling these guys would be their rivals for the rest of their mission. This was a good, and somewhat low stakes, opportunity to get to know them better.

    “Hey, Curly,” she said, making him turn towards her. Almost indifferently she grabbed a Pokeball from her belt. “Looks like our teammates are busy getting to know each other.”

    Indeed, the rest of the group had not only caught up to them, but they’d gone to where the rest of Curly’s friends were and were, hopefully, only striking a conversation.

    “What do you say we find a way to pass the time?”

    He looked her in the eyes, and Sabrina understood she was playing with fire. Still, sometimes one had to take risks.

    After a few moments of silence the man smiled.

    “A battle, eh?” he said, brandishing an Ultraball. “It’s been a while since I’ve done this officially.”

    Sabrina curled up her lips in a sarcastic smile, “Already making excuses? The fight hasn’t even started yet.”

    She could feel the burning hatred of Sammy’s gaze stinging her back, and knew she might come to regret her actions later. It was a risk she was willing to take, however.

    Both Pokeballs opened simultaneously in a cross explosion of light. In front of her appeared the familiar silhouette of Rokon, who still shook his head from side to side, froth coming out of his mouth.

    She immediately recognized the Pokemon they would face. Almost as tall as its trainer, with a segmented body which was entirely blood red. One metal pincer in each hand, and four small wings coming out of its back.

    “Sean, this one’s yours,” Curly told his Scizor.

    “Alright Rokon,” she replied, looking down at the small fox. “Let’s see what you can do.”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Silver thought he was having a pretty surprising day already, and that was before meeting the guy with the giant scythe.

    First he got an actual job, then he got a personal assistant and then it turned out he secretly was both a singer and a lead guitarist all along? If only his mom could see him now; she’d probably regret kicking him out of the house for being such a screw-up.

    Those kinds of thoughts were the ones crossing his mind as he followed Ñako and Sabrina through the thick fog. Life was good, as far as he knew. Things were certainly looking up.

    Then that group of people appeared. At first he didn’t care much for them; a loser with a sword and a short guy with drum sticks? He wasn’t even motivated to kick their asses. That’s when his eyes fell on the person behind them.

    Their gazes met, sparks flying between them, and Silver couldn’t help but smile. That familiar heat started running through his veins as his fingers curled around the pole of the scythe. Next to him Loli seemed to notice something different, and raised an eyebrow at him.

    “This is the only one who doesn’t look like a scared boy scout,” the man said, his voice sharp and rough like sandpaper. “Just what I wanted.”

    A shiver of excitement ran down Silver’s spine as he brandished his scythe, pointing it at the man. The smile on his face was somewhat unfocused, and some might say a bit too deranged.

    “Whaddaya know, that’s what I was thinking too!” he hollered. “I wanna test you here and now!”

    He was about to jump forward when a voice broke through the clearing, startling them both.

    “Stop it, you two!”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Rhin thanked the stars someone had stopped his teammate from throwing himself against the guy with a scythe twice as big as his. He could barely believe Silver had challenged him in the first place; the bravado and stupidity of his teammates still surprised him, it seemed.

    He took a look at the girl approaching from the mist. Professional was the only word appropriate enough to describe her; she wore a black pencil skirt and a white shirt perfectly kept, along with librarian glasses and shining black shoes. Her black hair was tied into a short ponytail, and in her hands she held what looked like a black folder with a white triangle stamped in the middle of it.

    “I was told you’d only come here to get a couple eggs,” she said, eyebrows constantly knit, “and this is how I find you!? This completely demolishes our plans of traveling unnoticed!”

    Her eyes fell on someone behind Dexter; a short and scrawny looking boy with enormous round glasses which completely obscured his eyes.

    “Dick!” she yelled. It took Rhin a moment to realize that was the boy’s name. “I leave you in charge for two minutes and this is what happens?”

    “M-miss Nancy!” The boy’s hands shook as he looked down. “I’m… I’m so sorry, you see… uh…”

    She dismissed him with a wave of her hand, “It doesn’t matter. And you, Dexter,” she shot the cloaked man an icy look. “Put that scythe down, now.”

    Dexter did as he was told, reluctantly, though the bloodthirsty smile never left his lips.

    “And where in the places is Caroline!?”

    After a few moments a new voice broke through the mist:

    “Oh hey! It’s the boys from the cabin!” the blonde girl said as she approached them with a Pokemon egg in her hands. “Like, what’s up!”

    Nancy’s frown stopped the girl on her tracks, like a small Pokemon suddenly encountering its predator.

    “Nancy! Like… I’m so sorry for not telling you!” she seemed to shrink into herself, smiling awkwardly. “But like… girl, those bags under your eyes! I told you to take care of that!”

    Rhin heard grass rustling behind him. Mycroft and Muffincat had finally stepped out of their hiding spot, sighing in defeat.

    “I guess there’s no point in hiding anymore,” said the former.

    A bright idea came to Rhin, as bright as the stars guiding him, or so he would’ve liked to believe. Now that the librarian looking girl had arrived it didn’t seem like there would be any kind of bloodshed; that gave them the opportunity to learn some things about these strangers, were they to meet again in the future.

    “Nancy, was it? I see you’re the leader of the group,” he said, walking towards both girls with a cheerful smile. “Now that you put a nice leash around your dogs, and seeing as we’re all trainers here, I think I might have a good idea to put our differences aside.”

    Luckily, Mycroft was very quick on the uptake. After only a moment of confusion he formed a wicked smile and followed Rhin’s gesture, bowing to both girls.

    “Bonsoir, mademoiselle.” He winked, forming his best smile. “Your name was Caroline, was it not? Mine is Mycroft, Enchanté.”

    The girl placed her hand on the back of her head, eyes narrowed, “Uh… some of your words are kinda weird. I’m cool with words, I use them too, but like… what?”

    “What do you say?” he offered, ignoring Caroline’s nonsensical spiel. “A double battle, like real trainers. Me and my partner Rhin against the two of you.”

    Nancy considered it for a moment, and her lips curled ever so slightly into the tiniest of smiles.

    “Caroline,” she said raising her head high. “Let’s put these tramps in their place.”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Ñako had the strange feeling he was getting left out of something. As he saw everyone else go to talk to a certain member of the opposite team, he couldn’t help but wonder what was that about.

    Oh well.

    He walked to the first stranger he saw that was still alone. A runt with vine tattoos who held two… sticks? They made a pleasant swoosh sound as he hit the air with them. Judging by his closed eyes and the passionate way in which he did it, Ñako figured he was lost in his own little world.

    “So…”

    The boy looked up at him, eyebrows knit in annoyance.

    “…What’s up with those sticks?” he asked. “Do you really like Chinese food or what?”

    There was a rather long and awkward silence before the boy replied

    “…What?”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Vard smiled, satisfied with himself.

    “I see you’re all participating in practice rounds without any kind of aggressive undertone to them,” he said to everyone around him. “That’s good; socializing is important if we are to become known all over the world. I’m very proud of all of you.”

    His gaze veered left, and found one of the only two of their team not currently fighting or talking to someone. He was a veritable mountain of a man, at least a couple heads taller than him and twice as wide.

    Vard couldn’t help but be intrigued by his appearance. He wore a leather body armor dyed in bright red, and a strange cross shaped crown that covered his nose. His face was worn and scarred, and he noticed a few grey hairs amidst the light brown adorning his mane and beard. Two of what seemed like heavy battle axes hung from his back.

    He walked towards the man with glamorous abandon, and stopped only a few inches from him.

    “Excuse my nerve, my good sir,” Vard said, looking up at him, “but I find your appearance to be quite jocular.”

    The man raised an eyebrow, and replied with a gruff, surprisingly polite voice.

    “I beg your pardon?”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Siegfried’s shoulders dropped at the sight in front of him. Not only would this delay their travel towards Cerulean considerably, but there was also the very present possibility of someone getting severely hurt.

    “Please, there is no reason to fight,” he pleaded to his teammates, to no avail. The egg the couple had given him felt heavy in his hands. “We need to get to Cerulean right aw…”

    “Hey there.”

    He almost jumped out of his skin. A voice appeared from behind him, soon followed by a ghastly looking man. As Siegfried turned towards him he realized he’d never seen someone so… worn out, before.

    The man had long, light blue hair that fell to the back of his knees, tied just behind his neck with string. Both his face and his body were skeletal looking, as if he hadn’t eaten in months, and his eyes reminded Siegfried of those of a snake. A brown, leather whip hung from his right leg, stained with dry blood.

    “That egg…” His voice was thin and throaty. “Could it be…?”

    With every step he took towards him Siegfried had to suppress his desire to flee. The man took a hand to his mouth and grabbed the butt of the cigarette he was smoking, blowing a small cloud into his face.

    Nobu… I always hated my real name,” he said, furrowing his thin brow. “Sid suits me a lot better, don’t you think?”

    Nobu? The owner of the egg he was holding… was it really this person in front of him? He could barely believe someone like him would want anything to do with Pokemon breeding.

    As if to prove his point, Sid raised his lit cigarette, holding it as if it were a magic wand, and smiled.

    “I guess you can keep that trash, boy scout. I already have the one I needed.”

    He lowered the burning tip of the cigarette, pressing it against the paper with his previous name written on it. A wave of panic hit Siegfried as he took a sudden step back, hugging the egg protectively.

    “Don’t touch it!” he yelled for the first time in a while, blue eyes glistening with fury. “Whatever is inside of this egg, I will take care of it! And I will prove to you that it’s not trash!”

    --------------------------------------------------------
    Invisible wisps of rage traveled through Silver’s veins as he saw Dexter lower his weapon and turn away. He stood stunned for a few moments, unable to believe what he was seeing.

    “Thank goodness…” Loli said next to him, letting out a sigh of relief.

    He clenched his teeth, fingertips turning white from the strength he was grabbing his weapon with.

    The disappointment was clear on his opponent’s face too. His eyes studied the cracks and crevices of his scars, following the way his nose crinkled and his eyebrows became one in irritation. They both felt the same way.

    He would not let such a good opportunity slip by, not after everything having gone so well for him today.

    “Hey Flaco!” he yelled. Dexter stopped, slowly turning his head to him. “What’s wrong, your mommy Nancy doesn’t let you defend yourself?”

    The man’s lips curled into a wicked grin of sharp teeth.

    “I knew you weren’t going to disappoint me!”

    Spinning on the ball of his feet he made an arc with his weapon, its wide blade lifting the grass into the air as it cut it effortlessly. Silver grinned and raised his weapon as well, their eyes meeting once more.

    “Sir, please don’t!” Loli complained, eyes wide in terror. “You can’t, he’ll…”

    A few feet from them the tall, muscular guy turned to look at them. Silver heard his sigh even from where he was.

    “Dexter, try to contain yourself,” he complained, his tone strangely soft.

    “Oh come on Fat Mike, this one’s asking for it!”

    “I sure am! I said I wanted you here and now, and I always keep my promises!”

    No sooner did those words left his mouth than he leapt forward, the wet grass rustling under him. Dexter waited for him, feet firmly planted and scythe wound back.

    Silver smiled. What better way to cap off such a day than with a battle to the death?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author Notes: This was probably one of the hardest chapters to write due to the insane amount of new characters to introduce. Hopefully I'll be able to portray them well in this and the next chapter, since I think they're amazing.

    Also, for those who like fanart, I have to of them which are relevant to this chapter in particular. First, a doodle of this enigmatic group of trainers, drawn by the DM himself, Yuki:

    [​IMG]

    And secondly, fanart of the incredible Rosita Storm, drawn by the amazing Muffin:

    [​IMG]


     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  12. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    Nice to see someone's unsettled by Sabrina's arsonist tendencies; Mycroft's response honestly feels like the most natural one here. Possibly there are one or two relatively balanced people among the tricksters, killers and one-man self-advertising campaigns that seem to make up the rest of the party. His annoyance later on at the way his team are all just wandering off at the first sign of a distraction cements his position as the sensible one, I think – although he isn't without his flaws, is he; there are touches of an unwarranted self-importance here and there.

    That I've been able to come to this conclusion is really positive, I think: the deeper we get into this story, and the more time we spend with each of the characters, the more each of them takes shape and the easier it gets to remember who each of them are and what their deal is. Samantha, for instance, didn't have a whole lot going up up till this point, but now she's acquired a subplot and backstory of her own I have a much easier time of keeping track of her. Given that you seem to be following your source material very closely, and that that kind of stops you streamlining and organising this in the same way you would if you were just writing this from scratch, I feel like you're not doing that badly at all when it comes to introducing and following this huge number of characters.

    Relatively few typos and spelling mistakes this time around, so that's good! Here's what I've got:

    That should be “worry” there.

    That should either be “A responsible trainer doesn't let his pokémon get into situations like this” or “A responsible trainer doesn't leave his pokémon in situations like this”, I think – as it is, it doesn't quite make sense.

    Either you mean that he wears his sword on his right-hand side, or that he has the sword in his right hand – whichever it is, something needs to be changed there for the sentence to work.

    You repeat the phrase “a multitude of X” a bit too close to itself here – wording one of these instances differently would avoid that.

    Finally, not a mistake, but:

    That's quite good. I like that. :p
     
  13. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Author Notes: Cutlerine as always your comments are super helpful and amazing; I'm glad the huge cast is slowly coming alive in the story and in your mind, that was my intention and I'm happy it's working so far. You're the best, thanks for helping <3

    -----------------------------------------

    Rivals - Part 2

    The mist cleared in a circle as Silver took the first step, the unmistakable heat rush of an incoming battle washing over him.

    He wound back his scythe as he ran, lips stretched into an unhinged smile.

    "S'been a while since I had some real fun!" he yelled, fingers gripping tightly to the pole of the weapon, "so don't disappoint me!"

    Just when he was about to swing, Dexter smiled. Time seemed to stop.

    For that one, stretching moment Silver felt painfully aware of his surroundings. He could count every heartbeat, see every wisp of mist as it dissipated in front of him, and more importantly he saw as the cloaked man began to move.

    His foot slid forward, parting the grass in front of it. But no, that wasn't just it; it wasn't just his foot that moved, but his entire body with it. Only a couple inches, just enough to gain a better stance. In those fleeting milliseconds Silver understood how the complex machinery of his body worked, from his shoulders to his hips, legs and feet, all to take a single, perfect step. A movement so fluid, so simple, he could feel the years of intense training behind it.

    Time began to move normally once more. Silver, now aware of the astronomical skill difference between them, felt a tinge of fear that only served to fuel his excitement.

    Dexter's entire body moved as he spun on the ball of his feet, slashing the air in front of him with the enormous arc of his scythe.

    "You do get it, don't you!"

    Silver leaned back, sliding on the mud as he tried to stop himself. The edge of his vision caught the gleam of his opponent's scythe, fastly approaching. The speed of the swing had caught him off guard.

    With the momentum he still had he threw himself back, and felt the rush of wind as the scythe flew over him, rustling his hair.

    "Those idiots with their Pokemon fights, they have no idea…"

    He'd barely dodged the attack, but now he was moments from falling to the ground. Judging by the way Dexter squared up his shoulders in preparation for his next swing, doing so would be lethal.

    He rotated his body to the side, right hand touching the ground. Using it as his center of gravity he pushed himself to the side with all the strength he had. The familiar sound of scythe cutting through air, followed by the cold as part of his shirt was torn open and his skin exposed, told him he'd barely dodged again.

    "…of the adrenaline a true battle can generate!"

    The world became a black and green blur for a moment before he fell on one knee, his grip still iron tight against the pole of his weapon. He gave himself less than a second to breathe, and looked up.

    Dexter's eyes met his, and Silver felt his veins turn to ice. He faced him from the side, arms raised high along with his weapon. How'd he move so fast? Just before he was…

    "Your weapon is rather pretty," he whispered, the scars at the side of his mouth as clear as cracks on marble. "But mine is a bit more customized, you could say."

    Silver's mind had no time to react as the scythe fell on him like a guillotine. By reflex alone he grabbed his with both hands and raised it to meet the man's strike.

    The blade struck the metal snath just between Silver's hands, its impact raising a cloud of dust around him as his feet dug slightly into the mud. Somehow it didn't break, which briefly started both of them.

    Dexter's smile faltered for an instant, cracks of doubt filtering through his maddened expression. A moment's hesitation, one that Silver had no qualms exploiting.

    Taking a page out of the man's book he stood up, using all his strength to push him back, and spun around, readying a counterattack. His opponent was out of balance and didn't have time to dodge or cover as Silver raised his leg and kicked him square in the chest.

    Dexter flailed his arms wildly as he was thrown back, a gurgled growl of pain escaping his lips. Silver took the opportunity to breathe in deep, his limbs shaking slightly

    "Sorry pal, but I've got someone waiting for me," he declared, forcing himself to smile. "So this ends now!"

    Dexter finally regained balance and, eyes still covered in shadows, copied his smile to a T. He raised his free hand in front of his face and moved four fingers towards himself in a Come get me gesture.

    Silver felt as if his body moved on its own, the wild beating of his heart deafening him to everything around him. With bliss flooding his veins he lowered his knees and jumped as high as he could, out of Dexter's slashing reach. He saw the man take a step back and move his scythe behind his leg.

    Time stopped once more as their eyes met, and in that fraction of a second he could swear he heard him speak.

    "Indeed…"

    Silver raised his weapon as high as his arms could go and, grinning from ear to ear, threw it down as he fell on top of Dexter, ready to cleave him in half.

    "This ends now!"

    The strange rune on the man's scythe glowed with a purple, pulsing light as he slashed up. It seemed to almost go through Silver's weapon as it reached him. The last thing he saw before his vision went black was a splash of blood, followed by a pain so intense he almost lost consciousness.

    In the fleeting moments before his body hit the ground, Silver's eyes went wide in shock. How'd… how had his scythe…?

    Reality crashed into him as the air was knocked from his lungs. Through a heavy daze he noticed the distinct shape of his opponent's weapon, now stained with some of his blood, raising once more as Dexter prepared the finishing blow.

    "STOP IT!"

    A very familiar set of colors and shapes ran between him and Dexter, extending both arms to the side as if wanting to shield him. The man did not attack, too stunned by the sudden intervention.

    "That is enough!" the girl yelled, fulminating both of them with her gaze. "This fight ends now!"

    Contrary to what he would've expected, Dexter did not protest or attack her. Instead he stood still, smile absent from his face for the first time. He looked as if he'd seen a ghost.

    "Loli…"

    Silver tried his best to push himself to his feet, to no avail. His muscles were numb, and while he still had feeling on his right arm, the pain alone was enough to discourage him from moving it.

    A familiar pair of soft hands pressed against him, pushing him back.

    "Stay still, I need to stitch and bandage this," she said, grabbing him by the arm and pushing the broken fabric of his shirt to the side.

    Silver clenched his teeth, "N-no, we're not done here. I still gotta…"

    "Do what she says, kid."

    He had to check twice to make sure those words really came from Dexter. The man's tone was completely different from before, and even though most of his face was obscured he noticed something strange in his expression. Regret, perhaps?

    "Get that wound checked, and go back to your friends," he said, no signs of the joys he'd displayed present in his voice. "I'm done playing around."

    Shame and anger were the only reigning emotions within him as he saw Dexter turn around and start walking away. He stopped a few moments after, however, and through the daze of pain and humiliation he heard him speak.

    "Next time, it will be just you and me," he declared, voice strangely devoid of strength. "No third parties involved. Got it?"

    -----------------------------------------
    Sabrina hadn't expected to face a goddamn Scizor.

    Last time she'd run into Curly she'd come to the conclusion that he must've been an experienced trainer, but this was something else. He must've really wanted to humiliate her.

    He shot her a cocky look –aware of his overwhelming advantage–, and for a moment Sabrina forgot that she was simply trying to study his weaknesses.

    Now all she could think about was how much she wanted to win.

    "Go," she told Rokon, tone frigid.

    The Scizor moved too fast for her eyes to follow. Rokon, who'd jumped out of her head excited at the prospect of a battle, vaulted over his opponent –with reflexes she didn't think him capable of– and smiled savagely, embers filtering through his fangs.

    The flames hit Scizor's wings, spreading at an alarming rate and, judging by the look on his face, causing enough pain to momentarily stun him.

    "Sean, what are you doing!?" she heard her opponent's distressed voice, fingers curling around the handle of his sword. "Use Steel Wing!"

    A pulsing, white energy covered the Scizor's wings, extinguishing the fire and restoring his focus. Using his segmented body to his advantage he spun wildly, flying towards the airborne Rokon.

    However it seemed that an attack with quadruple weakness had taken a toll on him, though it might've also been due to the shock of having been eluded completely just before. His assault missed the Vulpix again, this time without the need for the small fox to do more than move slightly to the side.

    The incredulous expression on Curly's face, she couldn't lie, made her smile, even though it was obvious it'd been nothing more than luck. She could feel the wound on his pride and decided to provoke him a little bit. How dangerous could it be?

    "Hey, what's wrong?" she asked, spitting out a line of smoke. "Steel Wing against a fire Pokemon? Haven't memorized the chart yet?"

    "That was just a lucky shot!" he replied, setting his jaw. "Sean, Metal Claw! And don't miss!"

    Landing behind his opponent, Rokon jumped towards him once more. He saw as the Scizor rotated his body, pincers glowing with a powerful energy, and slashed at him with all the strength he had left.

    Smile never wavering, he spun vertically and hit the pincer with his six tails, pushing himself above Sean's head, who was too shocked to react as a small torrent of flames engulfed him. Parts of his carapace and his lower wings began to melt as he screamed in agony.

    Rokon landed behind him, not even bothering to look as his opponent's body hit the ground. Sabrina stood frozen, cigarette limply hanging from her lips. She didn't know whose expression was more priceless; hers or Curly's.

    I think I like this one, she thought, giving her Pokemon a smile and a thumbs up.

    "Useless…"

    Curly muttered angrily as he retrieved his Scizor, whose body turned to light as it was absorbed into the Pokeball. The man's dark eyes stared at it for a few moments, expression unreadable. Then, letting out a sigh, he threw the device upwards. Sabrina's gaze followed its trajectory; it hovered in the middle of the air for an instant before falling back down. Curly raised his sword ever so slightly, the sharp end facing up, and simply stared as the Pokeball fell into it.

    The sound of metal against metal made her wince. The thing didn't break in half, though barely. The button at the front flew off into the tall grass, leaving no way for it to ever be opened again. Curly kneeled to pick the Pokeball up, and spoke into it.

    "If you can manage to get out of there, I might consider training you again."

    Not only did he seem rather calm about his defeat, but not even her mocking and taunts had affected him. Not just that, but he'd condemned his Scizor to a slow, agonizing death inside his Pokeball without even batting an eye.

    "Rokon, come back."

    The Vulpix, who hadn't stopped shaking his head and spitting smoke after his victory, turned into light and went back to his Pokeball. Sabrina didn't see that however, as her gaze was entirely focused on the man in front of her.

    This guy… he's dangerous.

    He stared at her for a moment, as if waiting for her to do something, perhaps yell at him for what he'd done.

    "Here, catch."

    A small leather pouch fell at her feet, full of what looked like stacks of bills .

    "For your victory; it was an official battle after all," he said, not fazed at all by his previous action. "Your Vulpix is… decent. He's got a future ahead of him."

    She kneeled to pick up the bag, appreciating its pleasant weight in her hand. She was aware that any person with even the slightest sense of honor would've thrown it back at his face.

    She was not that kind of person.

    Curly placed his hands inside his pockets, in a similar way to her. Was he really not going to attack her? Everything seemed to indicate that he didn't have any desire to cause her harm, even though she'd beaten him in such a dirty way and hadn't let go of the opportunity to rub it all over his face.

    Could she really turn her back on him?

    She did, despite what her instinct told her, and started walking towards the rest of the group.

    "Until we have to kill time again,"

    -----------------------------------------
    As much confidence as Nancy had displayed while accepting the battle, she still took her sweet time choosing her Pokemon.

    Mycroft saw as the woman turned her back on him, stroking her chin and staring at the six Pokeballs she carried; all of different patterns and colors. He could barely make out her mumbling from that distance.

    "Belly Drum sweeper? No, not now…" she whispered, biting her thumb. "F.E.A.R Rattata? Maybe but… Perish Trapping? No, too risky."

    After what felt like an eternity she finally grabbed one. Her thick glasses hid her eyes from view as she walked next to Caroline –who was on the verge of falling asleep on her feet– and faced them.

    "I already chose mine," Nancy said, glancing to her teammate. "Do not mess this up."

    They opened their Pokeballs in sync, and from their lights materialized two very strange creatures. The one belonging to Nancy looked like a small dog on two legs, with white and brown fur covering him. A long tail grew from his lower back, ending in the shape of a brush stained with green paint. The one in front of Caroline was quite more abominable; a humanoid looking thing with a white and pink body and two long strands of dark hair growing from the sides of its head. Its cheeks were painted red like a mime, and its eyes were covered by stylish black glasses.

    A Smeargle and a Mr. Mime? This might be tricky.

    Without taking his eyes from his opponents he released his own Pokemon, and Rhin did the same a moment after. Keroro the Croagunk and a round bundle of vines with feet appeared in front of them, ready to fight.

    The first to declare an attack was Nancy, with a tone that made it clear she was not in it for fun.

    "One Hit-KO…!" she yelled, pointing at the Smeargle, "…use Spore on that #453!"

    With springier legs than he would've expected, Smeargle jumped into the air and pointed the tip of his smudged tail at them. From it grew a sizeable cloud of green dust, thick enough to hide him from view. It moved faster than a normal cloud of smoke, falling down towards Croagunk.

    "Keroro, dodge!"

    He started running in the opposite direction, but the cloud seemed to have a mind of its own and pursued him wherever he went. It was almost on top of him when Caroline spoke:

    "#I'mYourMime, throw a Psywave girl!"

    The first thing that came to Mycroft's mind was that he had no idea where the two girls had learned to nickname their Pokemon, but he didn't like them. The second was that if that wave of psychic energy hit Rhin's Croagunk, it would instantly knock him out. He couldn't have such a thing happen; he had plans for the insignificant thing.

    "Stalker, you know what to do!"

    Two of the countless vines covering his Pokemon's body grew to the side, slamming against the ground as he pushed his body forward. Flying like a bullet, he barely managed to reach Keroro as he pushed him to the side, taking in the blunt of both attacks. The psychic wave made him wince in pain, and his immunities to spore based moves meant the cloud of dust was absorbed by his tiny body.

    Mycroft turned towards Rhin, frowning.

    "It will not happen again," he spat out, tone dry.

    The boy raised an eyebrow, and if they weren't looking at each other he was pretty sure he would've rolled his eyes.

    "You're just a ray of sunshine, aren't you?" he whispered under his breath, before turning back to the fight. "Keroro, get moving! Cross Chop at the Smeargle!"

    Croagunk jumped high into the air, crossing his arms in front of him as they started to glow. A few feet ahead Rhin saw through Nancy's glasses as panic flashed across her eyes.

    "Caroline, this is a double battle!" she screamed, furious. "Take care of that thing!"

    "I'm going, I'm going…" her teammate smiled, sticking out her tongue. "You're gonna get wrinkles if you're so mad, girl!"

    Caroline's Pokemon raised his hand, pointing it at the airborne enemy as he concentrated his psychic power into it. He carefully took aim, ready to fire.

    Something cut through the air with the distinct, sharp sound of a whip. Mr. Mime winced as one of the Tangela's vines wrapped around his arm, breaking his concentration and forcing him to lower it. The strength of the grip was tremendous.

    "That's it Stalker!" Mycroft smiled. "Do not let go of him; use Absorb!"

    Mr. Mime felt his strength leaving him, as his opponent's vine sapped his energy and redirected it back to himself. Clenching his teeth in pain, he pulled back with all his strength to break free of his grip, forgetting completely about his teammate.

    Smeargle tried his best to jump out of the way of the incoming dive, but his body wasn't accustomed to physical combat and he wasn't quick enough. Keroro fell on top of him, both arms slashing at his back in an X. Consciousness left him as he hit the ground like a brick, releasing a small cloud of dust around him.

    "W-what!?" Nancy's lower lip trembled, hands turned to fists. "One Hit-KO fell against that pathetic #453!?"

    "That's what I'm talking about, Keroro!" Rhin punched the air up, smiling brightly at his companion.

    Mycroft couldn't help but laugh at their opponent's shameful display. What had he been so worried about? In the midst of his sudden relief he decided to press his luck a bit, squaring his shoulders and smiling as he spoke:

    "I'm astonished by your incredible coordination, ladies. Honestly, c'est admirable," he said, trying to stifle another laugh. "That was me being sarcastic, by the way. I hope you at least managed to pick up on that."

    It was easy to imagine the fumes coming out of Nancy's ears. She stared at the battlefield, either too stunned or too angry to reply to his taunt; perhaps a mix of both. Caroline laughed at the boy's words, and turned to her teammate with a carefree smile.

    "Sorry girl!" she shrugged, turning towards her Pokemon. "Okay, let's finish this 'cause my skin's getting dry! Another Psywave!"

    Enraged by his teammate's defeat, the Mr. Mime broke free of the vine holding him, snapping it at the stem and throwing Stalker off balance. Before Mycroft could utter a command he threw his hand forward and released another wave of energy that flew towards Keroro.

    Ah, shouldn't have bragged like that.

    "****, dodge!" Rhin screamed, caught off guard by the speed of the attack.

    But he wasn't fast enough, and the overwhelming strength of the attack left him unconscious only moments after hitting him. His body fell backwards into the mud.

    "K-Keroro…" Rhin muttered, clearly shaken by seeing his friend hurt. "It's… it's okay buddy, you did great. You can rest now."

    As Mycroft saw him return his Pokemon to its ball, he forced himself not to panic. The Croagunk had already done its primary job during that battle, and he didn't expect someone as pathetically weak as Rhin to last long anyway. Everything was still within his plans.

    "That was acceptable, je suppose," he said, looking down at his companion. "Stalker, let's finish this."

    He raised his chin (or whatever passed as his chin, considering he was covered in vines) high, facing Caroline's Pokemon with the same moxie as his trainer. His body still ached and hurt from the Psywave he'd endured, but he would not fall so easily.

    Both remaining Pokemon stared each other down, waiting for their trainer's orders to strike.

    -----------------------------------------
    "Ah, this might take a while."

    Ñako looked down to the guy holding giant chopsticks, wondering what he meant by that. The two of them, Wolfswift and Muffincat had spent the last few minutes awkwardly avoiding talking, while waiting for their teammates to stop flirting, battling or killing each other. Or in Silver's case, all three.

    A gust of wind ruffled the hair on the back of his head, making him shiver in a way that felt strangely familiar. He turned towards the direction his short friend was looking at, regretting doing so only a moment after.

    An endless patch of tall grass stood before them, covered in mist which –if his memory wasn't failing him– used to be a pearly white. Now it'd changed into a dense, cold purple. From it emerged black circles with huge white eyes, smiling at them. At least thirty Gastly, all floating towards them and, he guessed, not there to make friends.

    "O-oh!" Muffincat pressed her sleeve covered palms against her mouth, eyes going wide in horror. "Not these things again! Milkshake, Icy Wind!"

    From the light of her Pokeball appeared a very drowsy looking Dratini, who took a look at the Gastlys and seriously considered going back to sleep. Knowing she'd get no treats if she did so, she decided to accept her trainer's orders and spat a small blizzard in the ghosts' direction.

    Unfortunately, at such a distance all that accomplished was to create another layer of mist, hiding their enemies.

    "Again?" muttered Ñako, raising an eyebrow.

    "It's… a long story," she said, gulping. "And… sorry. At least they're not zombies this time."

    "…What?"

    He was too busy raising an eyebrow towards her to notice that one of the Gastly had dived straight for him, fangs bared and sporting a wide, bloodthirsty grin. Ñako tried to move out of the way, but just then a flash of light appeared between them.

    "Sousuke, behind the florid ninja!"

    The Larvitar raised both hands as soon as he appeared, grabbing the Gastly by its sides and giving it a good chomp. Half its body evaporated as it shrieked, soon after dissipating to mist.

    Ñako stood frozen for a moment, and then turned towards Wolfswift.

    He smiled, "Pretty fast for a blind guy."

    "Pretty slow for a ninja," he replied, not missing a beat.

    They threw their Pokeballs in sync. Abra and Sneasel materialized in front of them, one clearly more motivated to fight than the other.

    "Paja, teleport the blind guy's Sneasel up there!" Ñako pointed to a high spot between all the Gastly.

    "Tsume, get rid of them," Wolfswift ordered.

    Not feeling any sense of urgency, the Abra climbed on his teammate's back, and a moment after they both disappeared in a flash of light. From then on all their trainers heard were the sounds of slashing, teleporting and ghostly shrieks as their enemies were cleft in twain one by one.

    Chopsticks guy formed a lazy smile next to him, spinning a Pokeball on his finger.

    "Sid, this is getting boring."

    ...Who the hell was Sid? Ñako tried to force his sight through the mist, and noticed another person close to them he hadn't noticed before. Mister antisocial skeleton with long hair, standing back and smoking while he stared at them. Creepy.

    "Travis, we're attracting too much unwanted attention," he said, voice like a snake who had a serious smoking problem. "Let's finish this at once."

    They threw their Pokeballs at the same time. Three floating metal balls stuck to each other appeared in front of Travis, floating around as they crackled with electricity. Next to Sid was now a short, round creature with stubby, muscular arms and a stomach that was a black and white spiral. The Magneton and Poliwrath waited for orders.

    "Magne, Discharge!"

    "Wrath, get those ghosts off us."

    Poliwrath threw his hands upwards, and gathering all the moisture in the air summoned a powerful wave, many times taller than he was. With a flick of his finger he sent it forward, spiraling towards the now weakened Gastly. Meanwhile Magneton concentrated for a moment before exploding in countless lightning bolts, hitting all but its allies around it.

    The combined attack wiped out all the remaining enemies, and it would've done it for Paja and Tsume if they hadn't teleported out just in time. The wave of Wrath's attack crashed against the ground, flooding the place with an ankle-deep sheet of water that extended all around them.

    -----------------------------------------
    The last thing Mycroft expected was for his shoes to get wet. He was just about to declare an attack when a sudden wave crashed behind them, followed by a sizeable amount of water covering the small battlefield they were on.

    Everyone, including him and Rhin, turned towards the source of the attack.

    "That's enough."

    The man who'd talked was the most disheveled person Mycroft had ever seen, and the nails against chalkboard sound of his voice sent a shiver down his spine. He saw as he returned his Poliwrath to his Pokeball and started walking in their direction.

    "Dick, catch those Gastlys," he said to the short one with the glasses. "We can always use some more bait. And Caroline…"

    Even the always cheery blonde seemed put off by her own teammate, and recoiled at the sound of her name.

    "Finish that fight now or we're leaving without you," he declared, his tone making it clear he was not bluffing.

    The rest started gathering around them, having finished their particular fights. Mycroft had to do a double take as he noticed Silver with his arm around the blue haired girl, his shirt torn and heavy bandages covering his arm and abdomen, stained with blood.

    Is he... bleeding? Dear God, can't I leave these barbarians alone for a second!?

    "While I'm sure we could have a lot more fun…" the man said, a thin smile stretching across his face, "…we unfortunately have a long road ahead of us. And if I'm not mistaken, that applies the lot of you as well."

    Caroline did not hesitate before returning her Pokemon to its ball, the way her lips were curled a clear sign of how much she didn't want to anger her teammate.

    "W-wait!" Mycroft protested. "We haven't finished the fight yet!"

    "Oh I'm sorry honey, but like… I gotta go!" she said, waving at him as she walked away. "I loved your beret tho! Like… buy me one for next time, okay?"

    Mycroft failed to respond, as he stammered incomprehensibly, a deep blush covering his cheeks.

    She... she likes my beret? He thought, heat rising to his face.

    She ran enthusiastically to where her teammates were, all of whom stared at their leader with some amount of disdain. The thin man took a drag from his cigarette before speaking again.

    "We still need to travel all the way to Pewter," he said. "But… I suppose it's not unthinkable that we might run into each other again."

    Mycroft didn't fail to recognize his words as bait, and before he remembered the kind of people he was traveling with, he took solace on the fact no one with half a brain would fall for that.

    That is, of course, until Vard took a step forward and spoke.

    "But of course, my amicable new admirers!" he yelled, raising his palm towards the sky. "For you see, we are also traveling t-!"

    "VARD!"

    The man with the pink afro was silenced as Sammy, Rhin and Mycroft jumped on top of him, doing their best to silence him.

    -----------------------------------------
    Glad was not the first word Mycroft would've used to describe how he felt about the (relative) low amount of bloodshed that had occurred in their encounter with that group of trainers. Content might be a better candidate, though somewhat satisfied was also somewhere in there.

    Still, he liked being on the road again, next to Sammy who looked a lot more upset than he'd ever seen her. Did it have something to do with that barbaric looking gentleman with the sword she'd yelled at?

    "Cerulean was gonna dry up before you two finished that double battle," the smelly ninja said in front of him, hands behind his head. "By the way, where is Cerulean?"

    "According to the map it should be…"

    A hand fell on Mycroft's shoulder, distracting him from what everyone else was saying. Startled, he turned towards Sammy, whose piercing yellow eyes felt as if they were looking straight through him.

    "W-what's wrong, Samantha?" he tried to imbue his voice with politeness, despite the unease he was feeling. "The rest are leaving us behind."

    She furrowed her brow, and whatever stormed inside her flashed through her eyes, sending a painful shiver through his entire body. She spoke after a few moments of silence:

    "We need to talk." Her tone was serious and heavy. "About the object you're hiding in your pocke
     
  14. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Silver Notes: This chapter will include flashbacks, marked with 》 and 《 at the beginning.

    -----------------------------------

    Cerulean - Part 1

    "We need to talk. About the object you're hiding in your pocket."

    Mycroft was not proud to admit he nearly jumped out of his skin at Samantha's words which, accompanied by the gleam of her golden eyes, made him feel as if someone had dumped a bucket of water on him.

    He stood silent, hopelessly trying to hide his reaction. She never stopped staring at him, not for one moment, and he could swear she didn't blink either.

    How could she know? Was she working with Mullac from the beginning or…?

    Calm down, fear will only make you look weak. This is a good chance to ask questions; behave like a true Sproutbury would.

    "Alors… I have a few doubts I'd like answered as well," he said, clearing his throat. "If you don't mind."

    It took her a few moments to reply, as she studied him from head to toe. Wondering if she could trust him? If so, he was confident saying that the feeling was mutual.

    "You have one of the six objects, don't you?" she asked, a strange force behind her voice. "Don't ask me how I know; not only would it take me a long time to explain but it would be dangerous for you to know. The only thing that matters is that you keep that object safe; no one else can know about it."

    He scoffed, "Is that all? Thanks, I could've come to such a conclusion myself."

    The way she crinkled her nose made it clear his snark was not appreciated.

    "There's something else," she said. "I have strong reason to believe someone in our group knows about the object as well, and want to take it for themselves."

    Something heavy dragged at the pit of his stomach. Probably a livewire, if the tingling on his skin was any proof.

    "I'm guessing you can't tell me who they are either," he smiled nervously.

    Her pursed lips were response enough.

    "It's only a hunch for now," she said. "But I hope to confirm my suspicions on the way to Pewter."

    "For our sake, I hope you do," he replied, his tone perhaps a bit more threatening than he intended. "Though right now I'm more interested in knowing your relationship to the group of trainers we came across tonight."

    For a moment Samantha's eyes seemed to flash, and he feared she might attack him. Contrary to what he expected she simply lowered her shoulders and formed a thin smile which didn't extend to her eyes.

    "I'm sure I don't need to tell you this," she spoke almost in whispers, eyes unfocused, "but… Ryan, Caroline, Sid and the rest are all after the same objects we are. They're our rivals, so to speak, and they've been hired by someone even more powerful than Mullac."

    A thin drop of sweat fell down her forehead as she turned towards him, fingers curled into fists.

    "Black; the man responsible for what happened to Kanto and Johto," she pronounced the word almost fearfully, her voice shaking as she did so. "He's the one pulling the strings of the regions from the shadows; for all intents and purposes, Black is the government.

    "I don't know exactly why he and Mullac are after the same thing, though I doubt the latter's intentions are worse than what the government might do with objects of such… characteristics."

    He didn't like the way she said that last word, especially while looking down at his pocket. His hand unconsciously pressed against it.

    "That's all I can say for now," she finally looked away, looking almost sad. "I trust you'll keep that safe. For everyone's sake."

    She began walking towards the rest of the group (whose silhouettes were barely visible through the mist), not giving him a chance to respond. Not that he would've had anything terribly insightful to say; he was still reeling from what he'd learned.

    Was there any reason to distrust her information? Of course not; why would she choose to tell him such a specific lie, what would she gain from it?

    Black, he repeated the name inside his mind, lips trembling. So he's the one responsible for…

    Something caught his attention; the distinct shape of a square piece of paper flying out of Samantha's backpack. It spiraled through the air for a couple seconds, finally landing on the road behind her, the girl none the wiser.

    He kneeled down to pick it up, and was about to tell her when he realized what he was holding. A small, polaroid photo with two people in it. The first was unmistakably Samantha, perhaps a year or more younger and wearing a yellow shirt with black and white sleeves.

    His mouth hung agape, eyes going wide. Samantha's eyes were a completely different color in the picture. A faded, dull red. He would've considered it a printing error were it not for the pristine state of the rest of the photo.

    Though the worst part was the realization that he knew the man she was with. Both he and Samantha were holding each other, smiling brightly at the camera as if they were extremely close.

    He was younger as well, though he would've recognized that torn sleeveless shirt and that curly hair anywhere.

    "R-Ryan…"

    -----------------------------------
    Captain's Logbook.

    (The captain is me: Vard.)

    Our odyssey towards Cerulean has been packed full of vibrant emotions and endless adventures, thanks to my brave subjects. Everyone has been working non-stop to climb the steps of the Team of Vard.

    Sabrina, our admirable and manly sub-leader has demonstrated her navigating capabilities, showing us the way in the vile maze of routes and roads between us and our objective.

    My beloved ninja has caused no shortage of hijinks, including the time he kicked an unconscious Bellsprout for five hours straight while we walked. I still don't know exactly why he did that; but I am still proud of him.

    Wol…Welf… uh, our white haired companion still wears those bandages around his eyes. Poor man must still be expecting that piñata to appear, though I don't see a baseball bat in his hands. Perhaps he intends to shoot it with his pistols? If so, quite the interesting idea.

    Rhin and Muffincat have begun to know each other, as observed by me from behind a bush. They seem to have exchanged Pokemon as a sign of peace; a hearty looking Growlithe for a… thing, that looks like a penguin. Well, no one said friendship gifts had to be pretty.

    Mycroft and our sizzling redhead have been rather quiet lately, for reasons I am unaware of at the moment. I must investigate this as soon as I have the chance; perhaps they need more time looking at my beautiful mane?

    And finally, my good foreman still seems down by the result of his peaceful strife against the gentleman with the humongous scythe. His lively assistant has done her best to not only patch up his wounds but his spirits as well.

    Friendship, adventure, romance… and my hair looks better than ever.

    Though finally; we've arrived at our mysterious destiny: Cerulean City!

    What epic challenges must the Team of Vard face in this new scenario? I suppose only time will tell.

    Vard closed the small diary, shoving it and the pen inside his hair. He breathed in deeply as he took in the sight of the city beneath them.

    Raising his palm towards the sky, he proclaimed:

    "Our final objective: Cerulean!"

    "Uh…" Muffincat raised a hand, nervous. "Wasn't our final objective Pewter?"

    -----------------------------------
    Sabrina yawned as she stretched her arms, covering her eyes from the sunlight filtering through the mist.

    For some reason she found herself smiling. Maybe being so far from Saffron was all she needed to lift her spirits; she felt free again, without worries, without that horrible black cloud hovering over her.

    Just the way she liked it.

    "Is this really Cerulean?" asked the one who really liked fiddling with tarot cards, frowning. "I expected something better than this pigsty."

    "The town has seen better days," said Siegfried, a strange shadow of sadness washing over his eyes. Was it because of the proximity to Viridian, where he was from?

    Sure, the town didn't look much better than Saffron, at least from afar, but she would take what she could get.

    They were in the middle of deciding how they'd approach the city when the sounds of wings flapping reached them. Sabrina looked up, and through the thick mist she noticed a small ball of feathers with two enormous eyes flying down towards them; a Hoot-Hoot.

    It landed on Mycroft's shoulder, holding something on its tiny beak. The boy's eyes went wide at the sight of what appeared to be a wax seal in the middle of it.

    "A letter from home?" he whispered to himself. After a few moments of hesitation he turned towards them. "I'm afraid I'll have to leave you for a few hours while I take care of some family business. Besides, I'd rather that than having to keep following the advice of the Nobel prize for barbarics."

    Sabrina raised an eyebrow, grateful that she was in too good a mood to be bothered by his insult. As if on cue, tarot guy raised a hand and smiled.

    "I guess I'll look around the city as well, see what I can find," he shrugged. Judging by his expression she guessed there was a reason for his decision, but decided not to push.

    "I'll go as well," said Wolfsomething.

    "Very well then," Sabrina said, mockingly bowing to them. "I liberate you from my barbaric mandates, oh dear prince and his lackeys."

    Strangely, it was Sammy who stared at her with what was clearly a very intense hate. She wondered if she'd done anything to earn that; probably yes.

    After a few moments of consideration she left as well, taking cat ear girl and Siegfried with her, leaving Sabrina alone with Silver, Loli, Vard and the ninja.

    "So, we gonna go buy some stuff?" asked the first, cracking his neck and moving the scythe from one shoulder to the other.

    "I doubt it'll be that easy this time," said the ninja. "Unless hat girl here has some underworld contacts on this city as well, which seems to be her specialty."

    "Nothing that can't be fixed by looking around a bit," she replied, ignoring the ninja's (not entirely inaccurate) accusation.

    They walked through the outer streets of the city for a while, looking for any sign of shadiness without much success. That is, until they ran across an aged man, sweeping the street with earphones on.

    Sabrina took a deep breath, and fixed her hat as she approached him. She could feel Ñako and Silver facepalming behind her.

    "Excuse me, my good sir."

    "Huh?" the man said, frowning as he took his earphones out.

    "You see…" she clapped her hands together, forming her best smile, "we are members of a very popular Death Metal Trash Cumbia band. Rosita Storm is our name."

    His expression was priceless, though she decided to continue before he could fully process her words.

    "We're actually working on our next single: Gore Whore Choripete in the Mix, and have been stuck for the past weeks, unable to keep working on it thanks to lack of… inspiration." As she said that Silver placed his thumb and index finger in front of his mouth, smoking an imaginary joint. "Besides, we need to see… you know, those creatures, Pokemon, and any related objects to use them as base for a song about stepping on Torchic. Do you have any idea where we might find such a place?"

    Her longwinded explanation seemed to overwhelm the man. He stared at them with the deepest of confusion for a few moments, before replying.

    "Ah… yes, I think I know your band's name from somewhere," he said, deep in thought. "Well… I don't know what kind of inspiration you're after; this is a city of humble and peaceful folk, for the most part. Though…" His gaze went towards the northeast part of the town, where they could see a long steel bridge which looked abandoned. "Under that bridge there's a more… picturesque place. You might find what you're looking for there."

    She thanked the man, who still seemed somewhat doubtful of her words. Without wait they headed towards the place he'd pointed at, feeling as the warm and peaceful atmosphere of the city evaporate as they got closer. The bridge (whose red paint had washed away a long time ago) hid a street that ran under it; full of tracks where trains probably ran years before.

    Now there was a single, giant warehouse painted with a multitude of graffiti. Its doors were opened; and from inside various purple lights flashed on and off. The music coming out was almost deafening. It shook the sheet iron of the place, and made Sabrina wish she'd stolen the old man's earphones.

    "Now this is my kinda place," said Silver once they arrived, smiling in a way she didn't appreciate much. "The music makes me feel like I'm back home."

    "Sir, please…" the young girl pleaded, grabbing him by the arm. "Your wounds aren't healed yet."

    Vard smiled, raising his palm from within his cape, "Do not fear! Vard will guide you through this hapless hovel!"

    All eyes inside the place turned towards them when they entered. A multitude of disgusting people adorned every corner; from bikers with leather jackets to robed men smoking something that smelled horrible to young girls with brightly colored hair serving drinks.

    But strangest of all was the giant steel cage in the middle of the warehouse. There were two young men locked inside, each one commanding their Pokemon as they fought. The floor under them was covered in blood and bright coins people threw at them through the cracks of the cage.

    "There sure are a lot of ugly people in this neighborhood," the ninja whispered, holding the back of his head with both hands.

    "Come on Ñako, don't say that," Vard put a hand on his shoulder. "Not everyone is as lucky as your handsome leader."

    Sabrina barely heard them however, as realization came to her.

    Something in that place was terribly wrong.

    At first she thought it was just one of the many underground Pokemon fighting rings, but soon she began to notice certain… details. The cages, the way the arena was laid out, even the faces… here and there she noticed familiar expressions and laughs. Could it be…?

    No. Out of all the places in Cerulean…

    A group of teens, looking a bit too innocent for such a place, talked close to her with clear excitement. She caught some of their words with sinister clarity, despite the cold running through her veins:

    "Did you see her today? Misty…"

    Her hands began shaking so badly she almost dropped the cigarette in her fingers. She saw herself back inside a cage like that, with resounding screams of Let her out! booming inside her head. It… it couldn't be…

    -----------------------------------
    Two trainers stood across each other inside the steel cage. The one on the far right was a young girl wearing a black hat and hoodie, holding a cigarette with her lips.

    She grabbed it with two of her fingers, and began to speak.

    "I suppose you know the rules, though it wouldn't be a bad idea to repeat them," she said with a cold, dispassionate tone. "Three against three; you can use your Pokemon in any way you wish as long as you don't have more than one out at the same time."

    She took a slow drag of the cigarette while she walked back towards a small table inside the cage. Over it were a few boxes full of Pokeballs.

    "The leader, that would be me, will use random Pokemon from these boxes," she pointed at them, looking bored. "They haven't been raised by me nor do I care about their wellbeing, so don't expect me to go easy on you."

    She closed her eyes for a moment, throwing the cigarette to the ground and stomping on it.

    "You can try to kill me to win, and in fact I recommend you do. I'm not allowed to kill any challenger, too much paperwork, but then again…"

    Her eyes set on her opponent, a boundless, cold abyss behind them.

    "Accidents do happen."

    High above the arena, sitting in the highest spectator stands were two people. One of them was somewhere in his forties, smoking as he stared down with something akin to boredom.

    "Is that the new Gym Leader?" he asked. "She looks like a guy. Is she good?"

    The young man next to him crossed his arms, replying with a cold, yet calm voice.

    "Well… her physical strength is terrible, her attitude is abysmal and she urgently needs someone to take her down a peg," he listed with a strange calmness, one hand holding his cheek. "However… her skill in Pokemon battles is something you don't see every day. And most importantly: she doesn't ask questions."

    "And what's her name?"

    The young man smiled, turning his head towards his associate. He was thin and handsome, wearing an all black uniform with a single white triangle badge on his chest. His hair was smooth and mostly light brown, with the tips dyed a strong blue. His eyes were two different colors; the same two as his hair.

    "She doesn't have one anymore." The corners of his lips formed a lazy, yet unhinged smile. "From now on she's just... Sabrina."

    -----------------------------------
    Sabrina came back to reality with a jolt. She took a deep, somewhat hurried breath and blinked furiously, her chest hurting.

    Her gaze went towards the arena against her will, and she vaguely distinguished the… exuberant hair of Vard.

    Ah… no, I don't want to know.

    Without waiting a moment she turned around and started walking towards the exit, panic fueling her body.

    Where are you going? A voice inside her heads asked.

    "Far away."

    But this is an excellent opportunity, don't you think? All you need is to ask some questions here and there and you'd learn the location of those people.

    She stopped just before reaching the doors, clenching her teeth and stabbing her palms with her nails.

    Don't you want revenge for what they did to you?

    "No, I'm not into pain and revenge but thanks for asking."

    Is that really it? Or is it because you know that no matter how hard you try, you'll never be more than a fly buzzing around the ears of their organization?

    "Shut the **** up."

    She pressed a hand against her forehead. Great, she was arguing with herself again. She needed fresh air.

    Walking out she found a small pile of old tires, where she decided to sit for the time being. She took a cigarette from the package, but her fingers were shaking so hard she needed Rokon's help to hold it while he lit it.

    And to think she was in such a good mood before.

    Did she really think she'd escape so easily? What a ****ing moron. Now she knew better; she couldn't escape. Not while she were in Kanto. And yet…

    Unconsciously her fingers closed onto something cold and metallic hanging from her neck, hidden within the folds of her clothing. She smiled bitterly as she felt its familiar, reassuring touch.

    "That thing you asked of me… it's a lot harder than I thought, you idiot."

    -----------------------------------
    "I'll be honest Vard, this is probably not the best idea we've ever had."

    Vard jumped slightly at the sound of Ñako's voice as he appeared inside the cage. He didn't even make a sound; as a good ninja shouldn't.

    "I understand and appreciate your concern for your wonderful leader my good ninja, but there is no reason to fear," he declared, giving him a thumbs up. "This is nothing compared to the Odyssey of Derangement of 86'"

    Ñako raised an eyebrow, and then turned his attention towards their two opponents at the other side of the cage. A man and a woman somewhere in their twenties, sporting so many tattoos and piercings it was hard to tell their true appearance from underneath them. The only thing they had in common was a tear shaped black marking, just under their right eye.

    "Not to be a downer," he said, "but I'm pretty sure those punks are going to kill us, and then piss all over our corpses."

    "Humbug!" yelled Vard, grabbing a Pokeball from his afro. "It will take more than twenty points of damage to kill me!"

    "Where did you get that number?"

    "The internet. But this is no time for diatribes; we must teach these vagrants a lesson!"

    From the combined light of their Pokeballs emerged Pikachu and Gordolfa the Bulbasaur, the latter of whom stared at her opponents with her unfocused eyes, each of which looked at a different direction.

    Their opponents did the same; the man released what looked like a pile of purple sludge with a mouth and two eyes, while in front of the woman appeared a bat looking creature with a long, segmented pink stinger at the end of its tail.

    "You're pretty brave going up against us," said the man, smiling widely. "But you're pretty off if you think we'll let you reach Misty."

    "How about we make this more interesting?" added the woman, taking a drag of her cigarette. "The winner gets to take a Pokemon from the loser."

    Ñako smiled, "Heh, a pile of **** and a Gligar, hard choice. But fine, we accept."

    -----------------------------------
    On the northwest outskirts of Cerulean, in a small, empty field next to the big road.

    That was the place mentioned in the letter, and Mycroft headed towards it as fast as he could, not wishing to make her sister wait. Looking around he saw nothing but grass and bushes; and in the distance the ominous shape of Mt. Moon.

    "She must be about to arrive," he told himself, gripping the straps of his backpack. "She's always been very rigid about punctuality."

    On cue, he saw a shape approaching from the horizon. At first all he noticed were the two Ponytas next to each other, their fur so pristine it almost shone and the flames coming out of their bodies burning proudly.

    They were tied from the torso and snout, pulling forward the carriage behind them. It was a pearly white, with ornate decorations of his family's flower all over it.

    Mycroft gulped as the vehicle stopped next to him. He didn't like to admit it, but he felt a bit more nervous than during his talk with Sammy.

    The door to the carriage opened, and from it stepped down a beautiful young woman, a few years older than him. She wore a sleeveless, close fitting white dress with pink outlines and a sash around her waist, tied by a broach with the shape of the family's flower. Her hair, a similar dark grey to his, was beautifully braided.

    She closed the paper fan in her left hand as she approached him, eyebrows knit together in a way which made Mycroft more than a little nervous.

    "C-Clotty…" He bowed to her, muttering as he did so. "How lovely to s…"

    She raised a hand to interrupt him, "For you it's Lady Clothilde Hiragizawa-Sproutsbury, soon to be Lilycoveshire, you inept brat. And don't think I'm here for a pleasant family reunion; the only reason I came is because Mother asked me to."

    He reeled back, eyes going wide, "M-mother? What could she…"

    "Mycroft, I hope you haven't forgotten why you're here, smearing our dear family's name" she cut him off once more. "We need that money desperately; our funds are practically nonexistent at this point."

    "Y-yes, I know that," he nodded, almost bowing. "I'm in the middle of a job… you see, the people working with me…"

    "Calling them people is a bit too generous of you, ne pensez-vous pas?" she scoffed, looking to the side. "Mercenaries more like it, a bunch of failures not unlike you. All I ask is that those filthy criminals don't implant their habits on you; Mother is counting on you after all, despite my best warnings against it. I certainly hope you don't disappoint her again, as you've done for all of your life."

    Mycroft unconsciously shrank into himself with every word his sister said, looking down in shame. Heat rose to his face, and he wished the ground would just swallow him already.

    "In any case, that's not why I'm here," she sighed, fanning herself. "I came here to give you this."

    From the folds of her dress she grabbed a white letter, just like the one he'd received earlier, and handed it to him. The seal looked like a bird's wing, and on top of the envelope was a single word: Scarmiglione.

    "What is this?" he asked, studying the outside of it.

    "Fortunately, we've been invited to the most prestigious wedding in all of Johto this year; all the important families will be there," she explained. "It will be a good way for Mother to forget her worries as well. Personally I don't think it's a good place for you, but I've been ordered to give you this invitation nonetheless."

    He looked down at the letter once more, incredulous. Did Mother really… want him there?

    "If you still have any respect for our family, I suggest you don't show up," she said. "Though that is up to you, je suppose. And now that I've done what Mother told me I bid you farewell, little brother."

    Without saying another word she walked back to the carriage, not even bothering to look him in the eye.

    Mycroft stood still for a few minutes after she left, staring down at the letter being held by his shaking fingers.

    -----------------------------------
    After a few moments of consideration Sabrina decided to promptly **** off from the makeshift Gym and go back to the city, where there was less of a chance to end up dead.

    Or at least she planned to, until two people cut her off while she headed for the exit.

    "Hey, you."

    She looked up at the man blocking her path, silently cursing her own existence. He was at least a head taller than her, with a prominent beer gut and the voice of someone who'd eaten fifty pounds of sandpaper. The other one looked like a punk teenager who'd spent a few years inside a washing machine. She noticed the distinct tattoo of a black water drop beneath their right eye.

    "Your face and that grubby hat… I know you, brat," he smiled, showing his stained yellow teeth. "From Saffron, you're S…"

    "You must be confused, I'm just a traveler and nothing more," she said, trying to sound casual. "Step aside; your smell is making my stomach turn."

    He let out a throaty laugh, soon followed by his bald friend.

    "Kitty got claws, eh?" His hand went to something in his belt. "If you're so brave then…"

    His voice trailed off as he stared toward something behind her. The sound of steps made their way to her, and as she turned around she saw Silver approach, his scythe on one hand and Loli on the other.

    "What's going on here, Flaca?" His smile grew bigger. "Hey fatty, if you wanna get out of here with all your limbs then you better let us pass."

    She saw as fear clouded their expression for a moment, before they could gather their wits and reply.

    "That's very nice, but in here we solve things with Pokemon battles," said the bald one, forming a lascivious smile as his eyes set on Loli. "Oh, I like this one. If we win you're gonna have to lend her to me for a while, y…?"

    Silver grabbed the man's wrist as he extended an arm towards her. His eye twitched for a moment as he lowered the scythe, placing the edge just below his arm.

    "Careful with that hand there," he said, furrowing his brow. "It'd be a shame if you lost it."

    To say baldy looked like he was about to **** his pants would've been putting it lightly, and Sabrina would be lying if she said she didn't greatly enjoy his terrified expression.

    At least until Loli intervened.

    "P-please, don't!" she tugged at Silver's shirt, lower lip trembling. "You already got hurt once… I don't want to see any more blood, please…"

    He glanced towards her, smiling in a way Sabrina had never seen before, dropping his usual demeanor for a moment.

    "You're too good," he said, shaking his head. "These assholes don't deserve your pity."

    Letting go of baldie's arm he placed the handle of the scythe against his shoulder again, sighing as he did so.

    "Though I guess it's fine this time. I don't like making Pokemon fight my battles for me, but if that's what you want…"

    Baldie almost tumbled his way back to his partner, relief clear in his face.

    "Fine then, you and hat girl against the two of us," he said, tone furious.

    Sabrina really wished she still had a cigarette with her. She wasn't exactly in the mood for a battle, especially so close to Misty's joint, but she had an idea to make it worth it.

    "We accept, but only if we get to add a wager." She grabbed a Pokeball from her belt. "If we win you'll pay our stay in the best hotel of the city, for me and all my traveling companions. Breakfast included."

    The taller one grit his teeth, spitting to the floor, "Brat, you're pretty insolent for just a traveler, don't you think?"

    "That wager's fine with me," shrugged the other one. "But if we win then not only that girl but you too will have to spend some quality time with us, got it?"

    Sabrina frowned, already regretting not going with the lethal solution for these guys.

    "It's not like you have a chance, but fine," she shrugged.

    Silver let out a dry chuckle, "Ha, you guys really have to go to those lengths to get laid?"

    "You're not gonna laugh so much when you lose," baldie growled. "If you'd known before that we were trainers officially recognized by Misty you would've…"

    Sabrina rolled her eyes, "Just start the battle already before I throw up."

    The man's eye twitched, "Fine then, I hope you won't regret this!"

    They threw their Pokeballs to the ground, their light blinding them for a moment. The bigger one looked like a rugged boulder with legs and four muscular arms, and at its side was a short, humanoid looking creature with gills on its ribs and three sharp protrusions coming out of its head.

    The Machop and Graveler smiled in a similar way to their trainers, staring them down.

    "Whoa there, these ones are pretty grown," said Silver, not a hint of worry in his voice. "What do you say, Flaca?"

    "Hmph."

    Loli walked in between them, grabbing Silver's arm to get his attention.

    "Sir, that Graveler is very strong against your Spearow!"

    "Forget the Graveler," Sabrina said. "I hope the hotel's breakfast is Unovan."

    "Heh, I'd settle for warm water."

    Another pair of lights shone below them, materializing into their Pokemon. The energetic Spearow flew up and began flapping his wings furiously, while the yellow duck in front of Sabrina held his head with his hands. He turned towards his trainer and let out an adorable sound of appreciation. She could almost imagine the sparkles and hearts coming out of his eyes.

    "Hey, I haven't seen this one," Silver smiled, looking down at the Psyduck. "When did you get him?"

    "Back in Saffron. It was…"

    -----------------------------------
    Sabrina put both hands in front of her face to block the torrent of water, which filtered through them and threw her back a few feet, almost sending her tumbling to the ground.

    She looked up at the Pokemon who'd attacked her, hiding within the tall grass. Two big, beady eyes stared at her full of false innocence. The duck was surely messing with her.

    Gouda turned to look at her trainer, and naively she thought maybe she was worried, but her expression was blank. She wasn't smiling, but neither did she show any sign of worry towards her.

    She supposed that, compared to the things she must've seen while working for those masked bastards, this had to be a joke.

    We have a lot in common, after all.

    After gaining back her balance she took off her hat and wringed it as to get the water out.

    "After failing your attack so pathetically, are you sure you have time to look somewhere else?"

    She looked at her with spite (and maybe a bit of shame), and turned towards the Psyduck with both arms raised.

    -----------------------------------
    "…irritating," she frowned. "But it's the best option for this fight."

    Silver scratched the back of his head, "Ah, in my hood that weakness thing doesn't matter, you either hit or you get hit."

    "But sir, Spearow will be almost useless against Graveler," Loli said, biting her thumb. "You could have him use a special attack, it won't be very strong but at least it'd be more effective!"

    "Jeez, you really like these things, huh?" he sighed. "Fine, why don't you tell him what to do, then?"

    "Thank you so much!" she smiled, turning towards the battle. "Pogo, use Swift!"

    "Van Damme, Water gun!"

    Pogo dived forward, spiraling around Machop as it threw a punch against him, emerging just in front of the Graveler. Extending both wings he chirped loudly, forming beams of energy in the form of stars in front of him and throwing them forward.

    The shower of stars pelted the rocky body of his opponent, barely making him flinch. Graveler smiled and readied himself to attack.

    Only he didn't get much of a chance to. Van Damme took a deep breath and spat up a gigantic torrent of water forward, not only dousing Graveler from tip to toe but pushing him back towards the wall, where he crashed unconscious.

    His trainer's Pokeball fell to the ground as he stared at what had happened, incredulous.

    "Whoa!" Silver yelled, eyes going wide. "Loli, write this in the notebook."

    "Uh… what notebook?"

    "Never go up against the Flaca."

    Baldie frowned, clearly upset by how easily his partner's Pokemon had been defeated. She could see the gears spinning inside his head, wondering how he'd pay his part of the wager. She couldn't help but smile.

    "You *****…" he whispered, sending his hand forward. "Machop, Rolling Kick!"

    Pogo flew down in an attempt to intercept him, but in reverse of what happened before Machop slid under him, appearing in front of the Psyduck before he could do anything. Rotating on his hand he threw his body backwards and kicked up, hitting his opponent in the chin and sending him flying towards his trainer.

    "Tsk… that attack better not have knocked you out, Van Damme."

    The duck got to his feet with difficulty, wobbling as if about to fall, and yet he turned around and winked to Sabrina. Once again she could swear she saw sparkles appear around him.

    "Hey Pogo, the hell are you doing with all that flapping?"

    She turned her attention back to the fight, especially to the Spearow in the middle of the field. For some reason he'd flown upwards and was now flapping his wings furiously, gathering a strange white energy around them.

    "Oh, oh!" Loli put both hands in front of her chest, smiling. "After defeating that Graveler Pogo must have learned a new move!"

    She punched the air in front of her, looking livelier than she'd ever seen the girl.

    "Pogo, use Aerial Ace!"

    Sabrina glanced at Silver, without much subtlety. She found the way he smiled warmly at her both kinda touching and extremely cheesy.

    "She really likes this Pokemon stuff, huh," he whispered to himself.

    The battle was pretty much over by the time she set her eyes on the field again. Silver's Spearow flew down at incredible speed, dodging the Machop's Rolling Kick by juking under it and slashing at his chest with his wings. The humanoid creature was thrown backwards into his trainer, knocking him to the ground.

    "Yay!" Loli punched the air up, giggling. "It's my first time doing this and I won!"

    Silver gave her a thumbs up, "Nice one Flaca!"

    She stared at them, somewhat taken aback by their cheery reactions. The fight had been very high stakes, and yet still…

    It'd been such a long time that she'd almost forgotten… these things were supposed to be fun. She raised her thumb as well, trying to contain a smile.

    The Spearow flew down to them and raised his wings, giving Van Damme a high five to celebrate their victory.

    Forming the biggest **** eating grin she could, she approached the two men and extended her palm forward.

    "I will be taking that prize in cash, thank you very much," she said. "It was a pleasure doing business with you."

    After she was (reluctantly) handed the money she saved it inside her pocket, and would've seriously considered keeping it for herself if it weren't for the fact that Silver heard her talking about the hotel she was going to pay.

    She didn't have much time to lament that, as they felt a vacuum of air between them followed by a bright flash of purple light. From it appeared Vard and Ñako, the latter of which held his Abra with one hand and a Gligar with the other.

    "I assume your fight didn't go very well?" she asked, noticing the copious amounts of blood covering both of them.

    "Yeah we should probably go like… right now," said the ninja, cracking his neck painfully. "Because we kinda stole that guy's Gligar and he didn't take it very well."

    Silver smiled, "Yo, you've got some nice chocolate all over yourselves. Had a fight without us?"

    "It turns out the whole thing was a battle to the death, and also we kinda suck at Pokemon fighting," the ninja shrugged. "But hey, I got the Gligar so we technically didn't lose."

    "Even in defeat the Team of Vard emerges victorious!" Vard raised two fingers in a peace sign. "Though I do admit I'm seeing blurry. We should probably retreat for now."

    -----------------------------------
    Cerulean slowly shrank as Rhin and Wolfswift made their way through the desolated route, the sun rising behind them.

    "Thanks a lot for coming with me," Rhin smiled at his companion, the sound of his excited steps resounding around them. "I appreciate you realizing that staying with that band of criminals was not a good idea, Wol… Wul… uh…"

    "Wolfswift," he corrected him, voice hoarse. "And I won't lie, I thought you were the ninja. I think my lack of vision is playing tricks on me."

    Rhin gulped, not accustomed to being around such a silent and serious man, especially not one with a pistol hanging from his belt.

    "Oh well… while we're at it we should take the chance to travel ahead a little bit," he said, pointing forward. "Ahead is Mt. Moon, which we'll have to cross to reach Pewter."

    "Shouldn't we wait for the rest of the group before continuing?"

    "That's okay, friend!" he patted the man on the shoulder, smiling brightly. "We'll just go ahead a bit, I'm sure they'll catch up to us in no time."

    Wolfswift didn't argue further, and as they kept going forward they failed to notice that, at the side of the road, there was a rusty sign which had fallen down, covered in grass and dirt. The inscription in it was barely legible:

    Rock Tunnel ahead – 5 km.
     

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