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The Bonds That Break (PG-13)


Master Procratinator

He's going to let Eldes nab Ardos, then go back on the deal so he has them both.

Bwahaha. Nope. (Although that is a good guess)

Think about it. The warden doesn't like Eldes or Greevil at all. Eldes + hot, dry, desert + loads of people that also hate him + a very, very large amount of criminals that have no problem hurting somebody they don't like...

Hmm. I think I just made it a bit obvious. :p


As good as this is, I do have a small crit: In the prologue, you said Eldes' eyes were green. Now you say they're yellow. So now I'm not quite sure and I'm imagining one of his eyes green and the other yellow.

Y'know, after a few hours trying to get to sleep last night, I remembered that and was like, "Aw, crap!" *not exact wording* Sorry, that was my stupid mistake and is exactly why I should wait until the morning to post chapters instead of late at night. XD

So, I think I'm gonna go back and edit the prologue to make his eyes yellow, like I meant to do last night, since I can imagine them yellow much more than I can green. :p


...Call me Loffyglu.
Think about it. The warden doesn't like Eldes or Greevil at all. Eldes + hot, dry, desert + loads of people that also hate him + a very, very large amount of criminals that have no problem hurting somebody they don't like...

Hmm. I think I just made it a bit obvious. :p

I think I know now.

The warden wants Eldes to go into the desert where he will either get very dangerously dehydrated/die of starvation or get slaughtered by the many ebil d00ds in the desert. Methinks there will be a killing scene sometime in the fic . . . involving Eldes. I'm not sure whether Eldes will kill or get killed, but I think it'll be one of the two. Dog eat dog. Kill or be killed. That's how it is . . . in Orre's desert.


Y'know, after a few hours trying to get to sleep last night, I remembered that and was like, "Aw, crap!" *not exact wording* Sorry, that was my stupid mistake and is exactly why I should wait until the morning to post chapters instead of late at night. XD

So, I think I'm gonna go back and edit the prologue to make his eyes yellow, like I meant to do last night, since I can imagine them yellow much more than I can green. :p

Yeah, I hate when that happens, too. Yellow? Weird, I've always thought that Eldes' eyes were blue and Ardos' were red. Yanno, for the whole YinYang thing. So yeah. Onion rings.


Master Procratinator

The warden wants Eldes to go into the desert where he will either get very dangerously dehydrated/die of starvation or get slaughtered by the many ebil d00ds in the desert. Methinks there will be a killing scene sometime in the fic . . . involving Eldes. I'm not sure whether Eldes will kill or get killed, but I think it'll be one of the two. Dog eat dog. Kill or be killed. That's how it is . . . in Orre's desert.

You, my friend...

Are pretty much correct. *uber-cookie*

Of course, the warden orignally intended this for Greevil, since he hates Greevil more than he does Eldes, although he hates him too. But as long as he could get rid of one of the most powerful former Cipher members once and for all, then its no skin off his back.

Eldes figured that out imeddiately. That's why he was so nervous and anxious when Greevil basically turned the job over to him. Greevil, on the other hand, was so caught up in just the thought of leaving the prison that he didn't see that. Of course, the fact that his mind was a little screwed up, as made a bit obvious, also contributed to his poor judgement.

Also, I want to mention that I'm well aware that I take such a long time to update. Because of that, I think people's memories might have gone poof and forgot this thing ever existed. XD So I think it might be a good idea if I start a PM list, so people will know when the fic has been updated and such. If you want to be on the PM list, just ask me and I'll put you on. ^_^


Master Procratinator
Eldeslicious, definition: make them fangirls go crazy. XD

Bluey finished a chapter.

A little more than a week after she posted the previous chapter...


...I think the apocalypse is upon us. :p

Chapter Four: Smoke and Mirrors

Ten… Eleven… Twelve… Thirteen… Fourteen… Fifteen.

This couldn’t be right…

Terran groaned and held the list closer to his face. He recounted each Shadow Pokemon carefully, making sure not to count one twice or leave one out. But it came out to the same result. Fifteen…


“FIFTEEN?! GOD DAMMIT!” Terran exploded with anger, throwing the list and a stack of papers off his desk. He buried his head in his head and desperately tried to calm himself down before he knocked the entire desk over.

Failure after failure after failure. Was there anything Terran could do half-way right? No matter what he did or how hard he tried to do it; there seemed to be no pleasing Ardos. If he was so worried about the lack of Pokemon to be shadowfied, why doesn't he just get off his lazy bottom and get more himself?

Terran was truly starting to regret the day he was practically on his knees begging Ardos to let him become an admin of the new Cipher. After years of flying under the radar while the other commanders got all the attention, he finally got the chance to prove himself useful. But as Terran found every time he'd have to give a progress report to Ardos, begging for the position just came back to bite him. Sick of the constant criticism from Ardos, Terran almost didn't want to talk to him altogether. Sometimes he thought that maybe life would be a lot easier if Ardos just stripped him of the position and gave it to someone else. Then, he wouldn't have to be the one that was struggling to meet every one of Ardos' impossibly high expectations. Being a peon at that moment didn't sound too bad to Terran at that time.

The other side of Terran disagreed with him, though. Perhaps all he needed to get back on his feet was to push himself harder. But then again, how much harder could Terran push himself before he reaches the breaking point? And even then, the breaking point seemed to be in plain sight.

A knock at his electronic steel door suddenly interrupted Terran's thoughts and caused him to speak frustratingly, “Yeah, come in.”

The door slid open and revealed a peon, clad in the same structure of armor as the old peon suits were, but was colored black instead of white. The ribbon-like bandana was still a part of the outfit, but had changed from scarlet to a deep blue.

“Terran sir! I...” the peon began by saluting to Terran and straightening his posture. But at the sight of dozens of papers sprawled across the crimson carpet in front of Terran’s desk, the peon paused and stuttered, “I... err... came to inform you that we succeeded in making another Shadow Pokemon.”

“Great! Just great! One more Shadow Pokemon! Why don’t I call up Ardos now and tell him? I’m sure he’ll just be delighted!” Terran threw his arms up in the air and growled through his teeth, causing the peon to back up closer to the exit.

Terran groaned loudly and spun his swivel chair so his back was facing the peon. He lifted his head and stared at the stone ceiling above him. Somehow, he needed to think of a way to get more Shadow Pokemon if he didn't want to face Ardos' anger again, "We need to get more Pokemon... but how?"

"Well... I, uh, was also going to mention that a couple peons just came back with six Pokemon," the peon, whom much to Terran's surprise hadn't left the room, awkwardly continued, "And besides, there are plenty of wild Pokemon we could use."

"Six Pokemon isn't going to make Ardos much happier," Terran mumbled glumly and crossed his arms, "And the wild Pokemon around these parts can't battle for crap. Even if we made them into Shadows, I still doubt they'd be able to hold their own against trained Pokemon. If we tried training them beforehand, Ardos would still have a fit about out progress long before we'd get done with them."

Terran hated having to shoot down possible solutions, especially when they involved a problem he was struggling with. He closed his earth-colored eyes and tried to brainstorm other solutions.

Ardos said something about using Terran's own Pokemon for Shadowfication. But he quickly crossed that possibility out. No. Just no. If Terran was ever going to consider Shadowfying the Pokemon he's trained since he was ten years old, it would be as a last resort only.

Terran's first choice of eligible Shadow Pokemon were ones that were already trained and strong. But that would mean taking them from trainers. And after two Shadow Pokemon incidents, they were beginning to get a lot more cautious. Teaching the peons how to steal effectively and not get caught would be too time consuming. And it wasn't like Terran, or anyone around him, knew how to take Pokemon from trainers anyways.

He needed someone who was good at thievery, but who? Team Snagem was definitely out of the question. The moment they'd even get a glimpse of Cipher's faces, they'd slash open their throats and leave the bodies for the Murkrows. Things were bad enough as it was. Terran didn't need it to get any worse.

Come on, think. There had to be someone out there that could solve Terran's problems. Crime wasn't too prevalent in the area around Terran. But back in Orre, the crime rate couldn't be any phenomenally higher. And most of it consisted of robberies. Going back to Orre to look for help may be risky, but if Terran couldn’t take risks, how could he expect to get anywhere in life?

Maybe my solution isn’t as far away from Cipher as I think. Terran had a farfetched thought at first, but it soon blossomed into what could possibly be the idea that could solve everything. Terran spun back around in his chair and opened up his gray laptop sitting on his desk. After waiting for what seemed like forever just for the old laptop to turn on and warm up, Terran began searching through Cipher’s database. Eventually, he found himself in Cipher’s old archives that must’ve been sitting there for over five years, collecting virtual dust. Information about admins and other members that haven't been part of Cipher for the longest time was everywhere. Terran scanned through the biographies of each member until he found what he was looking for. Perfect.

Terran smirked with satisfaction for the first time that day, or all week for that matter. He looked up from his laptop and to his astonishment again, the peon hadn't moved a muscle, "You're still here?"

"You never dismissed me..." the peon reminded Terran exactly how much he was caught up in his thoughts.

"Well... don't leave just yet," Terran told his peon as he right-clicked an image on the laptop and selected the "Print" option. He got out of his chair and walked over to the printer sitting in the corner of the room. After waiting for another few minutes for the printer to start up, it clanked and whirred inside of it as it shook violently. Just before Terran was about to yank the printer out of the wall and toss it out the nearest window, the printer spat out the paper with the image on it. Terran grabbed the paper and handed it to the peon, "You know who this is?"

The peon took the picture from Terran and examined it. It didn't take long for him to recognize the face on the picture. Even behind the black visor shielding his eyes, Terran could see that they were wide and looked like they were about to pop out of his head, "But... But sir! This is..."

"Yeah, I know who that is!" Terran interrupted the peon sharply, "I was asking you a simple yes or no question!"

"Uh, yeah. I know him." the peon answered meekly.

"Good. Now listen up," Terran quickly ran the instructions he was about to give through his head. He needed to make sure his orders were clear and thorough. He simply couldn’t screw up, “From what I could gather, he was last seen around Gateon Port. Search around there first before you look anywhere else. When you find him, contact me and bring him to Citadark Isle, where I‘ll be waiting. And for the love of Mew, make sure you don’t get yourself caught. Clear?”

“Crystal, sir!” the peon shouted affirmatively as he saluted and straightened his posture.

“Great! You can leave now.” Terran dismissed the peon, feeling rather confident for once. But after the peon bowed his head and left the room, a sudden feeling of paranoia and anxiety struck Terran. Even as much as he wanted to trust that his idea would work, he couldn’t help but having the notion that something would go wrong. Horribly wrong.

No. No. I can’t think like that. Terran shook his head, trying to force the idea out of him. But despite how much he tried, the stressing notion kept coming back to him. Moaning, Terran sulked over to the nearest wall and slumped back against it, holding his hand against his forehead. This needs to work... it just has to work...

About ten minutes was spent drowning in Terran’s own stress and worries. Only after those minutes passed did he bother to move away from the wall. It was then Terran finally noticed the pile of papers on the floor that he knocked off his desk an hour earlier. Sighing, he strode over to the papers, gathered them, and placed them back on his desk.

* * *

Eldes hated nights like those.

Which meant he hated all nights.

There was nothing but insomnia left and right. He seemed to be completely unable to fall asleep, despite his futile efforts to drift off. Hour after hour passed by as Eldes spent most of the night staring at the waning moon outside his barred window.

And even if he could fall asleep and refresh his exhausted body and mental state, would the emotional torture that would be sure to follow be worth it? If it wasn't the insomnia that slowly sapped away his energy; it was the nightmares that tormented him and left him terrified of everything when he would wake up. He didn't know which to hate more, the insomnia or the nightmares. But in the meantime, he just hated both equally.

Eldes dragged himself away from the window and fell back onto his cot. He reached for the sheet and pulled it over his entire body, shielding himself from the frigid air. Anyone looking in Eldes' cell would spot a lump in the middle of the cot tossing and turning, refusing to stay still.

While one instinct told him to close his eyes while another told him not to; Eldes was absorbed with the events that took place earlier. Eldes couldn't find it in himself to hate Greevil, but he truly began to wonder how much sanity he had left. The warden's real, malicious plan stuck out clearly to Eldes, but couldn't Greevil see that? Eldes knew his father probably meant well, but he quickly became nervous about his rash actions. Eldes shuddered to think about what would happen to him and if he'd live to tell about it.

Eldes rolled over on his stomach and buried his face in his pillow. He tried to derive positive things from the mission he was forcibly given. On one hand, there would be no more dank and miserable jail cells he'd have to spend every accursed night in. And there would be no more dealing with every complaint that would shoot out of the warden's mouth.

Then there was Michael.

As much as Eldes wanted to think positively of the fact that he could see Michael again, a plethora of worries began to swarm his head. Michael didn't like Eldes when he was still part of Cipher and Eldes started to believe those feelings haven't changed. Even if he could find the courage to tell Michael who he really was, Eldes doubted anything would change. Michael would still hate him even if he told the truth. But even though Eldes couldn't hide the truth forever, those torment-filled thoughts just made him want to put it off even longer.

Eldes got himself in a comfortable sleeping position and decided to take the advice that Greevil gave to him earlier. Don't think about sleep. He shut his heavy eyelids and tried as best as he could to keep his mind clear of sleep itself or anything troubling. With as blank a conscience as could make it, he succumbed to sleep and allowed his tired being to drift off...

"You! Get up!"

...until one of the prison guards interrupted him. Figures.

The prison guard slid open the barred doors, not even making an effort to be quiet. The clanking of the door forced Eldes out of the ball he was curled up in and made him sit up. Eldes wearily glanced over to the guard and got the notion that he was getting impatient already. He forced himself to stand, despite his tired, worn-out muscles begging him not to.

Just as Eldes began to head out of his cell for what he knew would probably be the last time, he suddenly remembered something. The moment the guard took his eyes off Eldes, he quickly reached under the thin mattress, pulled the photograph out, and slid it under his neck collar.

As Eldes left his cell, he instinctively held his hands behind his back. The guard clasped the cold handcuffs around his hands, like he had done so many times before. The guard forced Eldes to walk down the long hall. The unbearable, seemly infinite hall. Eldes had made walks down that path countless other times, but that one seemed... different.

Eldes may have been the one feeling it, but he wasn't sure what to make of the enigma of a sensation that suddenly struck him. It was rather odd. He could feel so many positive emotions, but just as many negative ones at the same time. So many emotions that were polar opposites of each other were intertwining inside a hazy soup of confusion. They jumped out at Eldes, forcing him to feel things that were like water and oil at the same time. Confusion and knowing. Anger and joy. Fear and courage. Why? Why was he feeling such things that pained his mind just at the mere thought of them happening.

In the midst of the mental haze, Eldes realized. Realized the possibility that he could be rebuilding one bond while breaking another simultaneously.

Before Eldes knew it, he found himself standing in front of the warden. Both men, with their hands behind their backs, exchanged disdainful glares between each other. The warden snickered under his breath and gave a smirk, a smirk that Eldes grew familiar with throughout his life.

"Put these on," the warden took his hands out from behind his back and threw something at Eldes out of the blue as soon as his handcuffs were taken off. Still half-asleep, Eldes barely got a grip on the soft object and almost let it drop to the floor, "Just leave your prison clothes in the bathroom. I'll deal with them later."

Although Eldes had a fairly good idea what he was holding, he looked down at it anyways. Sure enough, the old red and gray-patterned robe he wore as a Cipher Admin was sitting folded in his hands. As his hands felt the silky cloth, they also felt something hard inside it. Eldes peeked in between the layers of his folded robe and found his black shades sitting there.

Eldes lifted his head and looked at the warden irately. The warden didn't reply to Eldes' realization of the game he was playing with words, but rather, with a malicious smile. Before he entered the bathroom next to him, Eldes gave an annoyed scowl, something that was rare for him to do.

* * *

Eldes didn't bother folding his prison clothes back up. Instead, he simply tossed them in the top of one of the bathroom stall doors. Any other time, Eldes might've taken the time to fold them. But at that moment, Eldes barely had the motivation or enthusiasm to stand on his own two feet, let alone do anything else.

As he stood and examined himself, Eldes did have to admit that it felt nice to be wearing something comfortable for once. The gray prison clothes that were hanging on the stall door was the exact opposite of comfortable. Hot and tight, Eldes wouldn't have minded throwing the clothes into a garbage bin.

Eldes walked over to the bathroom counter, where his folded-up photograph was sitting. As Eldes was searching his robe for the non-existent pocket he could put it in, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. After gazing at his reflection, Eldes took his photograph, unfolded it, and compared the two images. Between the photograph that was taken many years prior and the reflection he saw at that moment, Eldes was easily able to spot several differences. Perhaps too many obvious differences. His skin was considerably paler as opposed to the tan face in the picture. His eyes in the past were lively and awake; Eldes saw a pair of bloodshot eyes with black circles underneath them staring back at him in the mirror. But most of all, the picture showed a joyful man without a worry in the world. The mirror showed a cold, emotionless husk with more worries than he could handle.

Eldes moaned with disgust and clamped his eyes shut. Unable to bear the sight of someone he didn't even recognize, Eldes put his shades on, stuck the photograph back down his neck collar and left the bathroom.

"Let's get going, already!" the warden griped impatiently when Eldes was barely out of the bathroom.

The warden proceeded to leave the building and the guard forced Eldes to follow. But Eldes insisted on keeping a slow pace, giving him enough time to speak up before they were out of the building, "What about my Pokemon?"

Stopping dead in his tracks, the warden turned his head and narrowed his eyes at Eldes, "What about them?"

"Don't I get to use them during my 'mission'?" Eldes asked the warden as casually and innocently as possible.

"Oh, you can do fine without them, can't you?" the warden laughed and smiled, doing a bad job of hiding the oncoming anger.

"But what if somebody I'm about to capture uses their Pokemon? I can't battle them with my bare hands." Eldes countered the warden and for a split second, showed a smirk himself before quickly getting rid of it.

The defeated look on the warden's face quickly transformed into an enraged scowl. He spun around and stomped rapidly in Eldes' direction. At first, Eldes thought that the warden was going to take his hands and grasp Eldes' neck until he suffocated to death. But instead, the warden brushed right past Eldes and stormed into an storage room. A few seconds later, the warden stormed back out, clenching two Poke Balls in his hands. After practically pushing the Poke Balls into Eldes' chest, the warden continued on his path, emitting a furious feeling.

As he and the prison guard struggled to keep up with the warden's speeding pace, Eldes checked the bottoms of the half-red, half-white balls. Just like he expected, Eldes saw his name written on the Poke Balls with marker ink that was faded. The writing on one of the Poke Balls was rather messy, and looked like it had been scribbled. The other, although slightly neater, also showed signs of bad handwriting. Smiling weakly at the reminders of the moments he shared with his Flygon and Ninjask since he was a child, Eldes latched his Poke Balls on his belt, feeling slightly more confident.

Once outside the prison, Eldes crossed his arms and held them firmly against his chest. The sun was only just starting to rise, meaning that the air was still freezing cold. Every breath that Eldes took froze in the air and made itself visible before his eyes.

When the warden led Eldes outside the prison gates, he could see a shiny white van sitting in the parking lot with the driver waiting next to it. The van may have not been new, but it was certainly well taken care of. The exterior was clean, polished, and lacking any dents as opposed to the other vehicles parked nearby. As Eldes got closer to the van, he could see that the interior was also orderly and lacked any damage.

"Get in!" the warden ordered Eldes bitterly, obviously still angry from before.

Eldes reluctantly, but almost gladly at the same time, opened the van door and sat down on the soft seat. As soon as Eldes shut the door behind him, he spotted the warden walking over to the driver. Eldes could hear the warden talking, but it was impossible for Eldes to make out a word he was saying.

But it wasn't long before Eldes lost his concern over what the warden was saying. The seat he was in was so comfortable, a lot more comfortable than anything else he had to sit on in the prison. Eldes laid back in the seat and soon found himself drifting off. The opening and closing of a pair of doors, as well as the engine starting up, were the last things that Eldes heard before his mind disconnected itself from the physical surroundings.

* * *

The shopkeeper paced back and forth, observing each crate carefully. Each berry was with the others of its own kind. The Oran berries were with the other Oran berries and not the Pecha's. The Aspears were neatly placed in a row next to each other with no Cheri's mixed in.

The shopkeeper stepped back and gazed upon the rainbow of berries in the new section of his store. Completely satisfied with the perfection of it all, a wide smile spread across his face.

Who would've guessed that it would come to this? Transforming from a tiny shop in Gateon Port into the largest Poke Mart in all of Orre was simply mind baffling. And all in a matter of a year, no less. Now, the shopkeeper was about to witness first-hand the unveiling of a new, groundbreaking feature in his own shop. His shop... his shop would become the first inner-city Poke Mart to offer berries as a part of the shop's selection.

He happily strode over to the cash register and absorbed himself in the joyful thought. Finally, after working so hard to achieve everything his shop had earned, he was going even further than the top. It seemed like each and every one of the shopkeeper's dreams was becoming a reality.

All of a sudden, the shopkeeper spotted a gray blur out of the corner of his eye. The shopkeeper turned his head towards the direction the blur was heading, and it sped towards the brand-new berry section. He followed the blur, tiptoeing silently, but swiftly. Once he had come to the entrance to the section, he hid behind the nearest wall and peered into the room.

With the cross-bones mark on the back of its cloak-like body, there was doubt about the species of the blur. The Duskull hovered above the crates scanning each berry with its single, glowing, red eye. After a few seconds of observation, the Duskull swooped down jubilantly to the crate of Rawst berries and proceeded to shove them under its skull-shaped mask.

"Hey!" the shopkeeper yelled out, not about to let a thieving Pokemon devour all of his berries.

The Duskull turned around slightly, not appearing to be threatened by the shopkeeper. The ghost Pokemon continued to feast on the abundance of berries even as the shopkeeper got few up and charged at it. Only when the shopkeeper was a mere few feet away from it did the Duskull stop eating, grab a handful of berries, and float straight over the shopkeeper's head.

The shopkeeper halted himself just in time to avoid crashing head-on into the crates. Taking a quick second to catch his breath, the shopkeeper spun around to find the Duskull hovering at the room's entrances, just waiting. It swung itself back and forth in mid-air in a taunting manner. The Duskull let the shopkeeper get close to it again before it swooped out of reach and then fazed through the shop walls out into the street.

The shopkeeper dashed to the exit and flung open the door. The Duskull was waiting for him again, gradually munching on the berries it held in its arms. For a considerable length of time, the Duskull played its predictable game with the shopkeeper until it led him out of the market district.

The shopkeeper could barely keep moving on his legs anymore. While the shopkeeper continuously chased the Duskull that was always moving slightly faster, the Duskull was simply toying around with him. The shopkeeper, become exhausted, stopped running and took a moment to catch his breath. The Duskull also paused, using the free time to snack on the last few stolen berries.

"H...Hey, come on! Stop... stop eating those!" the shopkeeper gasped for air as he struggled to catch his breath.

Once again, the Duskull remained indifferent to the shopkeeper's threats. Shoving down most of the remaining berries, the Duskull took the very last one and wrapped the end of its flimsy, cloth-like arm around it. It flung back its arm and lobbed the hard Rawst berry at the shopkeeper, hitting his forehead with a bonk. As the shopkeeper shouted out in pain and held his hand against the area of impact, the Duskull seemed to be laughing at him. The Duskull turned itself upside-down in the air and waved its arms in a teasing manner.

Finally losing his temper, the shopkeeper took what energy he had left and rushed at the Duskull. Not even waiting for the shopkeeper to get close to it, the Duskull made a sharp turn into an alley nearby. The shopkeeper followed the slowing-down Duskull, hoping that he might just be able to catch it.

But out of nowhere, something sticky struck the side of his face. The shopkeeper wiped off a bit of the substance with his fingers and examined it. It was clear and stringy, having small droplets of some sort of liquid oozing down it.

The shopkeeper turned towards the source of the substance, only to be bombarded with another round of it directly in his face. Shouting in disgust, the shopkeeper was forced to move backwards until he hit the wall. When the sticky string ceased shooting at him, the shopkeeper opened his eyes and glared at the culprit.

The lime-green spider clung to the wall across from the shopkeeper where he couldn't reach it. The Spinarak, squeaking high-pitched growls at the shopkeeper, raised its smiley-face marked abdomen at him. It shot its natural silk at him again, this time gluing one of the shopkeeper's arms against the wall.

As the shopkeeper tried to pry his arm off the wall with his free hand, the Duskull and Spinarak fell into a fit of laughter watching his plight. Once the Duskull gathered itself, it plucked its partner in crime off the wall. The shopkeeper was forced to watch helplessly as the two Pokemon floated away and made their escape.

By the time the shopkeeper freed his arm from the wall, the Duskull and Spinarak were already out of sight. Sighing, the shopkeeper let go of his anger towards them. Probably just a couple of wild Pokemon looking for food, that's all. Besides, it was just a few berries.

The shopkeeper sulked back to his shop, wiping the Spinarak's silk off his face with his apron. The shop was going to open in just a few hours; he couldn't open up with his face and arm covered with silk. Once he got back to his shop, the shopkeeper would have to wash up quickly. And then perhaps get in touch with some Pokemon Rangers. Maybe they could find the Duskull and Spinarak and put them in a wildlife reserve.

When the shopkeeper reached his shop and entered it, a chilling feeling ran down his spine. It felt empty, somehow. As if something was missing. Something just felt wrong. The shopkeeper strode over to the new berry section. His face turned white at what he saw.

Or rather, what he didn't see.

Shattered shards of glass that were once part of a window above and broken crates littered the tiled floor. The shopkeeper searched frantically in the crates that were still intact. But not the smallest berry remained in any of them. Every last berry that he owned just ten minutes prior was gone. All gone. This time, it seemed like each and every one of his nightmares was becoming a reality.

That's when he realized the truth about the Duskull and Spinarak. They weren't wild Pokemon at all.


They were trained by somebody else.

* * *

"Hey! You!"


"Get up!"

"Mmm... no..."

Eldes turned his body, slightly adjusting his sleeping position. He was so absorbed in the sleep he rarely got that it took him a while before he realized who he had just disobeyed an order to.

"Yes! Get up! NOW!"

Eldes abruptly woke himself up and straightened his posture. He found himself staring straight into the warden's annoyed eyes. The warden dropped his annoyance for a moment in order to speak to Eldes without screaming at him, "Now listen up. Remember that you got a month, or the deal's off. And don't even think about leaving Orre. I don't want to have to deal with you and trust me; you don't want to have to deal with me either."

For once, the warden spoke words of truth.

Eldes quickly reached for the door handle, as the van wasn't in motion and had obviously reached the destination. Before Eldes got out of the van, the warden smirked at him one last time, "Have fun."

Eldes wasted no time in exiting the van and shutting the door behind him. When Eldes was barely out of the van, it sped off, throwing a cloud of exhaust gas at him. He quickly covered his mouth and nose with his hands and clamped his eyes shut. When the gas cleared, Eldes slowly opened his eyes and observed his surroundings.

His heart sank and became overwhelmed by fear when he realized where he was.

Gateon Port.

Directly in the center of the city.

The weather was mild and the sun was barely up, but the heat that his nervous body gave off made him sweat nevertheless. From all around him Eldes could spot numerous glares in the crowded area all directed at him. Every contemptuous whisper that Eldes' ears could pick up forced him to breathe harder and shakier.

"Isn't that guy a Cipher Admin?!"

"I thought he was arrested a year ago!"

"He has a lot of nerve showing his face around here!"

"Do you think he's responsible for that robbery that happened earlier this morning?"

Eldes couldn't take it anymore, even though he had only been exposed to the hatred for a short period of time. Eldes knew he wouldn't last ten minutes if he stayed in the city. He need to find some way out immediately.

Instinct took over Eldes' actions. He slowly made his way north, anxiously keeping an eye on everyone he passed. It was practically impossible to avoid the spiteful stares. He would have to withstand them while trudging forward. All he could do was keep moving and hope that he could make it out of the city.

Eldes found that his pace was beginning to speed up the longer he remained in the city. Even though time was passing through his mind slowly, it didn't take long before the number of people around him began to decrease. Eventually, as the city's exit was in sight, Eldes' slow, nervous pace turned into a full-fledged run.

Before long, Eldes was no longer surrounded by people that despised him, but by a forest of evergreen trees. He looked behind him, seeing that he was completely out of Gateon Port and its people were no where near him. Eldes knew that he wasn't completely out of danger yet. He continued with his anxious pace until he couldn't see Gateon Port anymore.

Once Gateon Port was completely out of his sight, Eldes slouched against a tree and finally got the chance to relax. He had made it. Gateon Port was behind him and he no longer had anything to fear from its citizens. At last, Eldes could sit under the cool shade of a tree and listen to the sounds of the forest. He could finally lose himself in the sweet songs of birds and the calm running of a nearby stream after being withdrawn from them for so long...

...Eldes wanted to kick himself for thinking such things.

How could he engross himself in fantasies about relaxation and safety when he was still immersed in danger? Anyone at that very moment could've snuck up behind him and sink a dagger through his head. He may have been out of Gateon Port, but he certainly wasn't out of danger. And as long as his feet was on Orre soil, he never would be.

Eldes glanced down at his waist and stared at the two Poke Balls at his belt. Smiling weakly, he unlatched the Poke Balls and held them in his hands. You two are my only hope.

Eldes placed one Poke Ball in each hand and pressed the buttons in the middles of them. The ruby energy that escaped from the balls quickly took form into the only real friends Eldes had in the world.

The energy that escaped from one Poke Ball shaped into his oldest Pokemon. The large, majestic dragon was a bright, breathtaking green color around most of his body. His tail alternated between bright and dark green before ending with what resembled a scaly fan. Two dark green antennae-like protrusions grew between the round, red shields around his eyes. Sprouting out of the Flygon's back were two lime-colored, red-lined, diamond-shaped wings. The wings were rather flimsy and looked like parts of the edges were clawed out.

Eldes' second Pokemon was much smaller and younger. The insect had mainly yellow, black, and gray exoskeleton. Her ruby eyes were placed far apart from each other, giving her a wide range of vision. The Ninjask's back legs were small and stumpy, but her front arms were long, sharp, and perfect for slashing things. She hovered in the air awkwardly, relying on her left, clear wings with a pattern of red triangles on the edges. Her other wing was mostly charred black and flapped gingerly.

At the sight of their trainer, the Flygon and Ninjask squealed joyfully and dashed over to Eldes. The Flygon curled up next to Eldes and nuzzled his face, while the Ninjask perched on his shoulder and buzzed happily. By the sounds of the soft, but excited, sounds that his Pokemon were making, Eldes could tell that they couldn't have more ecstatic at that time.

Eldes chuckled and held his hand against the Flygon’s head and gently rubbed his smooth scales, “I missed you, Dasn.”

When the Ninjask screeched shortly, Eldes laughed again and used his other hand to scratch under her chin, “You too, Ria.”

With the company of his two loyal Pokemon, Eldes felt less tensed up. As Dasn and Ria stayed right next to Eldes, not letting an inch of his skin leave contact, Eldes began to retell the events of the past year to them. Eldes paused several times in his tale, both to collect himself and dry his eyes. But never once did Dasn or Ria interrupt or judge Eldes, even when he told of his most shameful times. They just sat there. Sat there and listened. Eldes wasn’t just revealing himself to some extent like he would to certain other people. He was revealing himself to the full extent.

Eldes barely finished talking when he started to become drowsy again. Feeling secure for once that day, Eldes fell asleep and counted his blessings.

* * *

After an hour or so of one of his guards doing the driving, the pine forest was behind the warden and he entered the desert. As he watched the sand dunes go by him, the warden smiled at his own devious plan. Even with his Flygon and Ninjask, the warden was sure that Eldes wouldn’t last for more than a few days. It would be one less Cipher Admin that he or Orre would have to bother with.

“Um, sir?” the driver interrupted the warden’s train of thought.


“What if that Cipher Admin tries to leave Orre anyways?” the driver apparently had just thought up a potential flaw, judging by the tone of his worried voice. The warden, however, didn’t seem to be worried.

“He won’t get too far,” the warden laughed, calm and confident as ever. When the driver still had a blank look on his face, the warden grinned, “I planted a tracking device in his robe and sunglasses.”

Heheh. I'm actually quite shocked myself that I managed to not be lazy for once and finish a chapter at a reasonable date. XD I think I few things kinda contributed to that. One, I have vacation right now, so I have more than enough time to work on the fic. And two, since D/P's release is this Sunday, I wanted to get as much as I can done before I start neglecting the computer altogether starting Sunday. :p

Also, please spare a thought for those affected in the Virginia Tech. shootings.
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...Call me Loffyglu.
Aw, poor Eldes, the prison dudes watching is every mooooooove. LET'S ALL MOO LIKE COWS! MOOOOOOOOOO!

Anyway, this was very good, as usual. You have plenty of punctuation errors, and a few grammar mistakes, but you did good aside from that.

I'll be looking forward to more!

And as I said in our PM conversation, I am indeed very shocked at how quickly you posted the chapter.


Master Procratinator

Aw, poor Eldes, the prison dudes watching is every mooooooove. LET'S ALL MOO LIKE COWS! MOOOOOOOOOO!

Moo? XD

Eh, sorta. The tracking device can't spy on him in the sense that the warden can see everything Eldes sees. It just shows Eldes' location. Heh. I think that's what you meant, though. ^_^; But anyways, in other words, if Eldes leaves the Orre region, the warden can hunt him down and things won't look too pleasant for poor Eldy-kins. XD *inside joke*

And as I said in our PM conversation, I am indeed very shocked at how quickly you posted the chapter.

I'm still trying to convince myself that I managed to post it within a reasonable time range. XD But boy... did it ever take a lot of writing. x_X Ten hours at the very least.

...Now if only I could do that all the time... XD


Master Procratinator

Really good, again! Things are starting to pick up.....though I am wondering who Terran's "idea" is about...

'Bout time it got into an actual plot, eh? XD Heheh. That's what happens when I spend two chapters talking 'bout flashbacks. :p

Heheh. Trust me. The person who Terran's idea will involve will make itself glaringly obvious when you meet the first two characters that appear next chapter. ;)


...Call me Loffyglu.
Heheh. Trust me. The person who Terran's idea will involve will make itself glaringly obvious when you meet the first two characters that appear next chapter. ;)

I think I know who the man in Terran's idea is.

I have guesses of three men. One, Folly. Two, Trudly. Three, Miror B. I know you like Trudly and Folly quite a bit, and you said TWO characters. Plus, Miror B. has much to with them, hence my third guess.

Just my guesses, really. Sorry about the spammy post of death.


Master Procratinator
My Eldes brings all the n00bs to the boards, and they're like, "1T's B3TT3RU THN URS!!11"

^Good god, I hate that song. XD

I have to say that this one was pretty damn hard to write at some points, but also a bit fun as well. Still, I can't shake off the feeling that I messed up on this one. =_=

Be warned, as this chapter contains some strong swearing.

Chapter Five: Echo

For some people, watching the ocean sunrise was one of the most serene sights in the world. The way the sun's reflection rippled as the gentle waves made its way towards the shore and how the light made the water sparkled could be considered breathtaking to some.

To others, however, it was just another boring thing in the world that made them wonder what the big fuss was about.

He had walked down the edge of the beach more times than he could count. As he sped up his pace, the less the sand being pulled by the receding waves made him feel like he was being dragged into the ocean. He didn’t have time to stop and gaze into what he thought was just a big ball of fire that kept things from being cold all the time. Luck was never on his side. If he stopped to look at such a trivial thing, there was no doubt that someone would catch him.

Apparently, not everybody was so serious.

As he gradually walked faster, the fainter the sound behind him became. He moaned, bracing himself for the speech he’d have to give every time he went through this. Just as he expected, the blond, spiky-haired incarnation of naïveté was lagging behind him, observing something in the sand. His friend bent down, and dug through the sand until he found what he was looking for and plucked it out of the ground. He lifted his round blue shades and took his sweet time in examining the object, possibly not even caring that the police might have been on his trail.

“Dammit Folly! Keep up, will ya?” he yelled to his friend, knowing that it would probably fall on deaf ears.

To his surprise, Folly perked his head up in a matter of seconds. Gathering the plethora of objects he held against his chest, Folly clumsily stood up and ran to his friend, struggling to keep the objects from falling.

When Folly was close enough to his friend that he could feel his breath on his face, he yelled, “Trudly!” Trudly threw his head back at the sudden scream ringing in his ears, but Folly didn’t seem to think much of it. Instead, he shot expectant looks at Trudly and the pile back and forth.

“Seashells?” Trudly said awkwardly, staring at the assortment of shells in Folly’s arms. None of the shells were similar; each of them were distinctly different. While Folly’s cerulean eyes sparkled with child-like wonder at the rainbow of shells, both in color and structure, Trudly couldn’t be anymore bored with them.

Folly began to move his arm, but he quickly moved it back into place when the shells started to tumble out. Instead, he jerked his head back in the direction he just came from. “Found ‘em!”

“No kiddin’,” Trudly retorted, holding back his impatience as best as he could. But he was unable to keep it inside any longer and the volume of his voice shot up, “Folly, c’mon! Stop wastin’ time ‘n throw ‘em ‘way!”

“Throw ‘em ‘way?” Folly echoed with a slight, but growing, hint of irritation.

“Ya got nuff junk layin’ ‘round in dat packrat pile of yers!” Trudly, beginning to lose his temper, turned around slightly, signaling Folly to keep walking. But although Trudly just wanted to get back home without any issues, he knew Folly was going to drag it out as long as he could. And the two brown sacks Trudly held on his shoulders wasn’t getting any less heavy during the time they stood around.

As Trudly turned around even further, he heard a loud, vibrating moan coming from Folly. Out of the corner of his eye, Trudly saw Folly literally throw the shells away into the ground. Leaving the group of shells jutting out of the wet sand, he dragged his feet through the mud and followed Trudly grudgingly.

Trudly rolled his brown eyes behind his red, hexagonal sunglasses, not concerned with Folly’s attitude. It didn’t come to much of a surprise to him. Whenever Folly didn’t get his way, he’d always put on the same act. Stomping behind Trudly with his arms folded and face scowling. When they were younger, it was somewhat believable. Nearly thirteen years later, it was just old.

Trudly knew to ignore Folly’s tantrum. And just like expected, the pair of foot steps behind him grew closer and calmer before long. Eventually, Trudly glanced over to his left and saw Folly right next to him. His arms hung beside his thin body and his head was slightly lifted off the ground. Occasionally, he would look over in Trudly’s direction and give a minute grin, replacing the rapidly ebbing away frustration.

Trudly found as he returned the smile that he couldn’t stay mad at Folly for very long either.

Further down the sandy beach path, the sacks that Trudly held grew unbearably uncomfortable. His breath was becoming short and heavy the longer they rested on his shoulders. Unable to take the excruciating pain any longer, Trudly paused for what was supposed to be a brief moment and set the sacks down.

That was when Folly blurted out the stupidest thing Trudly had heard all morning, “Those heavy?”

Mouth agape and eyebrows cocked, Trudly stared at Folly almost disbelieving at what he just said, but still not very surprised. Trudly replied in the only fashion he knew how to respond to such idiotic comments: rudely, “No! Not at all!”

“Oh,” Folly said simply, adding another entry into the list of gullible moments that Trudly stored in his head. Folly stared at the sacks for a good amount of time, his face becoming a little less believing. “Look kinda heavy.”

Trudly counted the seconds in his head. Approximately three minutes. That was a new record for Folly. “Well geez! Of course they’re heavy!”

“Just said it wasn’t! Not at all!” Folly squealed, his face flooding with confusion.

“I was bein’ sarcastic, ya idiot!” Trudly growled through his teeth, holding his hand to his forehead, “Good Mew, Folly! How long have ya known me for?!”

“Dunno. Since six?” Folly ignored the fact that Trudly had just insulted him and answered his rhetorical question. Staring at the two bags beside Trudly, Folly inched closer to them, extending his arms slightly. “Carry those?”

“No!” Trudly groaned as he picked up the bags and threw them over his shoulders. It barely took a second for the aching to back and shoot through his body again.

“No?” Folly began the same act again, crossing his arms and scowling. Trudly tried to tell himself not to fall for it, but the weight on his shoulders was simply painful.

Although he tried his best to ignore the pain, Trudly grunted and moaned as he spoke, “If I give ya one of ‘ese bags, you’ll do what ya always do! You’ll start eatin’ ‘em ‘n then you’ll start complainin’ dat yer hungry and we don’t have ‘nuff food!”

“Won’t eat ‘em! Please, Trudly? Please? Wanna help out. Just a lil’ bit.” Folly begged, looking like he was about to fall to his knees and clasp his hands together.

Trudly understood that Folly wanted to help him out. But why he was so willing to carry those behemoths was completely beyond him. As much as Trudly knew better than to let Folly get his way with such things, the stabbing pain forced him to cave in, “All right! Fine!” Trudly loosened his grip on one of the bags, letting it drop to the ground. Almost immediately, the pain on the shoulder it used to rest on slipped away, feeling a lot more free and comfortable. “Now ya listen up, Folly. Ya ‘member what I told ya, got it?”

“Got it!” Folly dashed over to the bag on the ground. Enthusiastic over carrying a painful load of weight. Trudly sometimes didn’t understand Folly, and he knew that probably never would.

The very moment that Folly heaved the bag up and landed it on his shoulders, a loud, “Ow!” escaped his mouth. Trudly hated shiny trinkets that everyone in society seemed to obsess over, but he really wished he had a watch at that moment. Just to see exactly how long it would take Folly to start running his mouth.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Folly’s tirade of complaints to begin.

“Trudly! Really heavy! Really hurts, too. Much longer ‘til home? Getting’ kinda tired. Lotta berries in ‘ere. Any Aspears? Hate Aspears! Hate ’em! Take a break? Please? Dis sucks…”

Trudly would’ve loved it if a vicious sea Pokemon jumped out of the waves and ripped his ears off. Anything to shut the complaints out of his head. He sped up his pace, wanting to get back home as quickly as possible so Folly would shut up.

After about another half hour regretting giving that bag to Folly, Trudly could see a small opening in the cliffs that lined the beach. The opening was much bigger than it looked, however. It was partially covered by a makeshift rock wall. They were a bit taller than either Trudly or Folly. The boulders were carefully aligned and was made sure that there was as few gaps in the wall as possible. Another set of rocks were piled next to each other to create a stone staircase leading into the cave.

“…Always steal the heavy berries. Never the light ones. Should steal the light berries. Really should…” Folly ran his mouth endlessly with his eyes on the ground. If Trudly hadn’t stepped him, Folly would’ve walked straight into the wall without even taking a breath to stop talking for a moment.

“Ya can shuttup now, Folly!” Trudly hollered as he climbed the stone staircase.

“Huh?” Folly was suddenly broken out of his talkative state. He swiveled his head around, like he had no clue where he was. His eyes fell upon the staircase and after muttering, “Oh”, he made his way up them.

On the other side of the wall was another staircase. Trudly bother using it, though. He’d use that staircase when he wanted to leave the cave, but he figured using them at that moment would’ve been redundant when he could just throw his bag down and jump off the wall instead.

The cave was dark, dank, and gloomy, but Trudly didn’t look for comfort when he looked for a place to live. If it hid them from the rain and the authorities, then that was all that mattered. Trudly couldn’t care less that the place stank to the point where it felt like the odor was going to burn off his nose. The cave was numbingly cold, but that’s what blankets were for.

The only thing about the cave that Trudly griped about was the fact that a small colony of Zubats loved to make it an obligation to do their business directly above his head. Trudly could remember the first time that happened clearly. It didn’t seem like it was that long ago, but it had been a little over a year. It was in the early evening at that time. It was light enough that Trudly and Folly could see what was going on, but dark enough that the nocturnal Zubats were becoming active. When the colony was leaving the cave, Trudly made the huge mistake of lifting his head and looking up at them. That’s when one of the smaller Zubats swooped a few feet above Trudly and excreted into his face.

While Trudly was screaming every curse in his colorful vocabulary at the vermin and wiping off the excretions that was oozing all over his face, Folly burst into a fit of laughter. Trudly could’ve sworn that the continuous laughter was either going to kill Folly, or make him explode into a million pieces. Folly’s hysteria didn’t do much good for Trudly’s temper and he ending up yelling, “Yeah, yer laughin’ now! But jus’ ya wait ‘til one of ‘ose god damn things sh*ts in yer face!” at him.

In the present, Trudly regretting yelling at Folly in such a manner. That was the last time Trudly heard Folly laugh like that. Or at all.

While Trudly was absorbed in memories, he heard a whoosh above him. Instinct took over his actions and forced him to jump away from the spot he was in. Moments after jumped away, the other sack slammed into the ground right were Trudly was just standing. Staring at the bag, Trudly could barely hear himself shout over his heartbeat, “FOLLY!”

Folly peered over the wall, not looking guilty, apologetic, or anything along those lines. His face looked like it always did, straight, yet clueless. Folly’s expression didn’t lose its naïveté even when Trudly’s boiling anger was just as obvious as if he flashed a neon sign describing it. “What da hell’s wrong with ya?! Ya nearly flattened me with dat damn thing!”

“Did da same thing…” Folly mumbled, picking up just a slight hint of Trudly’s frustration.

“Well at least I look first ‘fore I smash somebody!” Trudly growled as he grabbed the two bags and threw them against the cave wall. As usual, Folly didn’t seem to take much of it in. Instead of apologizing that he could’ve just snapped his best friend’s spinal cord in half, Folly clumsily tried to balance himself on the stone wall and then casually walked down the staircase.

As Trudly shook his head, he suddenly felt a sequence of thin legs crawl up his back. To anybody else, especially Folly, the sensation would’ve made them scream, scratch whatever’s on their back, and flail their arms wildly. Trudly, however, just laughed under his breath and grinned, “Yeah, I know dat’s you back ’ere, Spitz!”

The legs traveled up Trudly’s back at an even faster rate as their owner gave a cheerful, high-pitched screech. Trudly’s shoulder stung in pain when even his Spinarak’s six light legs touched it, but he quickly got over it. Spitz delicately bit the skin on Trudly’s face with her tiny mandibles. Trudly owned Spitz for many years, and knew that the pinch was a sign of affection, but it still felt odd and a little painful.

Immediately after Trudly was greeted by Spitz, his other Pokemon came bolting out of the darkness. He almost blended in with the cave’s shadows, being a mostly dark colored Pokemon. If it wasn’t for his glowing red eye swaying back and forth, Trudly wouldn’t have seen the Duskull coming and would have had the living daylights jumped out of him.

Spook certainly earned his named that way. Trudly thought it was the best name in the world when he gave it to his Duskull. But now he realized that his name-giving abilities when he was a small child were horrendous.

Spook glided through the air like a Seel though water, swerving all around Trudly. He finally rested on Trudly’s vacant shoulder, making him clench his teeth in pain again for a moment.

“Ya guys did good today,” Trudly complimented his Pokemon, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in his shoulders. As his Pokemon squealed in delight, Trudly chuckled under his breath and strode over to the two sacks, “Yeah, jus’ a sec. I…”

After Trudly untied the string sealing the sack shut, he was interrupted when he opened it and laid his eyes upon what he called, “The Two Little Pink Balls of Constant Annoyance”. And lo and behold, they were sitting on top of the berries, shoving as much as they could into their big mouths with their stubby hands. Right in front of Trudly, no less. Only when Trudly cleared his throat did they notice him. Even though Trudly considered both of them incredibly stupid, the one he thought of as smarter pulled her long, pink, yellow-tipped ears over her cross-shaped eyes and abruptly dropped the berries. The other one continued on his merry way eating the berries. After a while, he looked up at Trudly innocently while tilting his head, or rather, his entire body. “Whisma?”

Like Pokemon like trainer.

Trudly plucked the two Whismur out of the sack, spun around, and glared at Folly sternly, “‘Ese yers?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Folly nodded his head, once again answering a rhetorical question like it was a normal one.

He took the two Whismur, flinching slightly when they climbed up his body. The female Whismur knew well enough to leave Trudly alone, preferably by getting out of his sight, and hid behind Folly’s neck. The male one climbed on top of Folly’s head and sat there, hanging on to the red-dyed strands of hair. Trudly could’ve sworn that while the male Whismur was riding on Folly’s head like a Ponyta, he was sticking his tiny tongue out at him. Trudly thought that the Whismur was lucky to be alive. Anyone else would’ve ripped that thing apart at that moment.

Trudly glanced over to Spitz and Spook, who were staring at the sack that Folly didn’t drag across the cave with him. Trudly held the sack shut, giving Spitz and Spook expectant looks of his own. “Hey, c’mon. Ya guys know da drill.”

On the cue, Spitz crawled off Trudly’s back and sped up to her web hanging in the cave’s entrance. Spook also left Trudly’s shoulder and glided over to the opposite side of the cave, almost invisible in the shadows.

Trudly reached into the bag and picked out a handful of Rawst berries. He examined them in his hands, noticing that the roughly triangular berries were more rounded, plump, and greener than usual. The ones he usually wound up with were skinny, small, and had nearly nothing in them. Trudly hated Rawst berries to begin with, though. They were just too bitter for his taste. Every time he gave them a chance and bite into one, the bitterness made him gag and feel like his taste buds had died. Folly hated them even worse. Like the Aspear berries, Folly would avoid them like the plague, even if his stomach was as vacant as his head. Spitz and Spook adored Rawst berries, however. Tired of waiting for him, they screeched impatiently at Trudly from opposite sides of the cave.

“Yeah, yeah! Jus’ a sec!” Trudly shouted, silencing the two Pokemon. Trudly grabbed one Rawst berry from his right hand and clenched it in his left. “Yer first, Spitz!”

As Trudly heard Spook moan behind him, Spitz positioned herself firmly on her web. Trudly dropped his hand, heaved it back up, and threw the Rawst berry in the air. Spitz raised her abdomen and shot a string of silk at the berry, connecting with it. After Trudly dodged the falling berry, Spitz pulled it to her with her two front feet. Once the Rawst berry was within reach, Spitz snapped the strand in half with her mandibles and used the rest of the silk to wrap up the berry. She then attached the sticky berry to her web and resumed staring at Trudly.

Trudly smirked and move the remaining berries into his left hand. He tossed the berries slightly in the air as Spitz watched them in deep concentration. Trudly then threw the handful of berries upwards. Spitz reacted immediately, shooting a spray of silk at them. Each strand of silk connected with the berries, but Spitz struggled to hold the berries and keep herself attached to her web at the same time. Her middle and back set of legs gripped the web tightly as she gingerly pulled each strand to her. After each berry was wrapped and stuck to the web, Spitz relaxed her muscles and hung onto the web loosely.

She’s getting better, Trudly, impressed, looked upon the knots of Spinarak silk in the flimsy, fragile-looking web. He stood in thought for a moment before bending down and picking up a rock from the sandy ground. Trudly whistled to get Spitz’s attention and showed her the rock, “Break dis rock with a Signal Beam, and I’ll give ya a few extra berries, ‘kay?”

Spitz squeaked and put herself back into position. Spitz closed her black eyes and fell into an even deeper state of concentration. Just as Trudly threw the rock into the air, Spitz opened her eyes and the horn on her head glowed furiously. When the rock reached as far into the air as it could go, a pair of red and blue laser beams shot from the tip of Spitz’s horn. The beams sped towards the rock, swerving around each other, faster than Trudly’s eyes could keep up with them. They exploded in a brilliant flash of red and blue sparks, illuminating the entire cave. But instead of shattering the rock, the beams made it crack slightly and sent it flying deeper into the cave.

Within moments, Trudly suddenly heard Folly cry out in pain. Trudly spun around and saw Folly holding his hands against his forehead. His eyelids quivered as they were shut tightly and Trudly could hear a whimpering moan coming from him. When Folly opened his watery eyes, he reached for the rock that just struck him, flung his arm back, and glared right at Spitz.

“Drop it!” Trudly quickly shouted at Folly, causing him to abruptly release his hand and drop the rock to the ground. Trudly realized that his tone of voice might’ve been a bit too harsh, but he didn’t think about it at first. That sharp tone had become instinct to him, since he’d use it every time Folly was about to do something painful or stupid. Or both.

Folly didn’t seem to be bothered by Trudly’s tone, however. He probably wouldn’t have noticed it anyways, even if his attention wasn’t on the pain in his forehead.

Trudly walked over to Folly and bent down, “Folly,” Trudly got his attention with a much softer tone, so Folly wouldn’t be surprised and have a panic attack when he found out that somebody was physically close to him. When Folly glanced over slightly to him, Trudly said, “Lemme see it. Lift ya hand up,” and did as he was told. Trudly moved his own hand towards Folly’s forehead, careful not to be too quick. But Folly still flinched and gasped shortly when Trudly’s hand touched him.

Trudly carefully slid his hand up Folly’s forehead, moving his sunny blond hair out of the way. He saw a small cut there, nothing that anyone else would dramatize over. It was bleeding a little, but certainly not an amount to worry over. Trudly didn’t bother yelling at Folly, though. Not only was he sick of yelling for one day, but he knew better than to shout at Folly at that moment, “Ain’t too bad of a cut. Jus’ keep da pressure on it and when it scabs over, don’t pick at it.”

“Pressure. Scabs over, don’t pick at it.” Folly sniffed as he put his hand back on his forehead, trusting Trudly’s words. His Whismur didn’t seem to believe that Folly was alright, though. They were clinging to him tightly and whimpering like his head had been split open.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it. It was jus’ an accident...,” Trudly stood up and reassured Folly before turning back around to Spitz, “...which won’t happen again!”

Spitz gave out a moaning screech as she crawled up her web even further. She was almost on the ceiling when she stopped moving and hung her head, ashamed.

Trudly then gave a moan of his own. He probably shouldn’t have tried to make Spitz use Signal Beam around Folly anyways. When Folly was nearby, all sorts of accidents were prone to happen.

Trudly approached Spook, who was sound asleep on the worn out blankets that Trudly and Folly used. There was no doubt that Spook got bored and tired of waiting. The Duskull only needed to be bored for a minute before he’d doze off. Chances were that Spook missed out on all the drama, so Trudly woke him up with a whistle and filled him in. Afterwards, Trudly pointed behind him with his thumb, urging Spook to get up. “Yer turn. Ya be careful not to hit anybody, ‘kay?

Spook groggily lifted himself in the air and floated to the middle of the cave. He hung in the air tiredly and looked like half of his mind was still sleeping.

Trudly reached into the bag of berries again and pulled out another handful of Rawst berries. Like before, he tossed the first berry straight up in the air. Spook held both of his flimsy arms out and surrounded himself with a light blue aura. The berry froze in the air as it was also enveloped in the blue aura. Spook pulled his arms back and at the same time, the levitating berry was being pulled to him. Once the berry was close enough to Spook that he could grab it, he took it and shoved it under his skull mask. Spook twirled around in the air, his way of showing joy. He suddenly looked more motivated and hungry for more berries.

Replying to Spook’s desires, Trudly grinned and continued throwing the berries and having Spook catch each of them with the psychic energy. Catching berries that were near him, even multiple ones, wasn’t too hard for Spook. The only berry-catching exercise that proved somewhat difficult for Spook was the one where Trudly tossed the Rawst berry behind him. It took Spook a considerable amount of time to pull the berry to him from such a distance.

When the berries in Trudly’s hand were all gone, he dug through the bag in search of more. “Think ya can pull off a Will-o-Wisp?”

Spook unconfidently shook his head and backed up. Trudly had to admit, Spook could do a Will-o-Wisp as good as Spitz could do a Signal Beam. Knowing the way his luck goes, accidents usually happened in succession of each other. And Trudly could just picture the entire cave bursting into flames perfectly. “On second thought, how ‘bout ya try dat later?” Trudly could hear the loud sigh of relief coming from Spook like he wasn’t yards away from him.

After he watched Spook glide back over to his sleeping spot, Trudly looked over in Folly’s direction. His Whismur were still attached to him like leeches. And when one of the parasites cried out, Folly handed them one of the berries in the bag next to him. Spitz and Spook noticed that as well, and were glaring at the two Whismur grudgingly. While Spitz and Spook worked for their food, Folly’s pampered Pokemon didn’t even have to make an effort to lift their stubby hands. Even Trudly grew a bit irritated at Folly spoiling the Whismur. “Why don’t ya eva’ train ‘ose Whismur?”

Folly perked his head slightly, his way of acknowledging that someone was talking to him, rather than looking at them. For a while, Folly sat there muttering unintelligibly to himself. At first, Trudly could make out what Folly was saying. But as Trudly listened more carefully, he heard Folly repeating the question he was just asked to himself before answering, “Whis ‘n Mur don’t like battlin’”

Whis and Mur. Trudly really had no right to say his name-giving abilities were downright awful when Folly’s was ten times worse. Granted, like Trudly, Folly named his Pokemon when he was still a small child. But Trudly would’ve thought that he could have come up with something more creative than Whis and Mur.

“Don’t have to be for battling’,” Trudly sat down next to Folly and reached into the bag, “Y’know how Spitz ‘n Spook bought us some time by distractin’ dat idiot of a shopkeeper dis morning’? Train ‘em to do what they did,” As Trudly pulled a Cheri berry out of the bag and began picking off the poisonous leaves, he laughed dryly under his breath, “Shouldn’t be too hard for ‘em. They’re naturals at distractin’ people.”

“Don’t gotta train ‘em then.” Folly counted Trudly as he stuffed a handful of Pecha berries into his mouth.

Trudly raised his eyebrow at Folly as he bit into the round, red Cheri berry. He had to let the surge of spiciness that made his mouth feel hot die off before he could get any words out of his mouth, “How do ya figure?”

Folly stared at the floor for a long moment. He muttered under his breath again, spitting out pink chunks of Pecha berries in the process. It was well after Folly chewed and swallowed all the berries he crammed into his mouth before he finally spoke up, “Naturals. Don’t gotta train ‘em. Already know.”

“Yeah, well…” Trudly started talking, but then paused as he became at loss for words. He stammered several syllables, but was unable to put together complete words. Trudly just couldn’t come up with a good comeback. He hated it when Folly caught him in a dead end in an argument.

But at the same time, he admired him for it.

* * *

The one thing Trudly hated more than anything, even more than Rawst berries, was when people hoarded the most useless things. For that reason, he despised going into any big city. He’d always walk by massive, extravagant mansions that flaunted the owner’s wealth in every way possible. And the majority of the decorations sitting outside of them had no purpose other than to rub it in other people’s faces.

Statues had a dual purpose unlike other decorations, however. One was to say indirectly, “I’m richer than you, so I’m a better person”, and the other was to be wrecked and watch the owner’s priceless expression.

Trudly could remember when he and Folly lived in a small port town many years ago. They didn’t stay there very long, so there wasn’t much about it that he could remember clearly. The one thing that involved the town that Trudly could recall was when a large, brand-new stone statue was put up in front of a swanky mansion. Trudly didn’t know exactly what the statue was supposed to be, but he assumed it was some kind of Pokemon. It looked like some sort of water bird, having a sleek body and a thin, delicate beak. On top of its head was an odd ornament that resembled two conjoined crescent moons. It’s tiny paw-like hands were held against its chest where its heart was supposed to be. Attached to its back and hands was what appeared to be rings that would be circling some far-off planet. Folly whispered to Trudly, saying that he thought it was “pretty”. But Trudly just snorted and said that it was stupid to make such a big fuss over a hunk of rock.

And that was just what the new owner of the rock did. The wealthy, well-dressed man complimented the sculptor next to him with a multitude of long, fancy words that probably didn’t make any sense at all. The new owner, in Trudly’s perspective, was acting like the rock was his newborn child. Trudly’s face scrunched up and his teeth clenched when the new owner pulled out several huge wads of money that had to be held together with rubber bands.

Just as the wads were handed to the sculptor, a massive swarm of distressed Pokemon, some that weren’t even native to the area, burst out of the forest behind them at top speed. A panicking Skuntank charged at them, screeching and bushing out its already bristly purple and beige tail. It seemed completely blind to any obstacles, as it leapt straight at the statue and smashed into the head.

As the head fell to the concrete ground and shattered into several broken pieces, Trudly exploded into a fit of hysteric laughter. The then former owner looked down on his precious, crushed rock with an agape mouth and furious eyes. He then spun around to Trudly, told him to shut up and called him a “rude child”. Trudly, however, just kept right on laughing and swore at the man, causing his jaw to drop even more.

Both of them were suddenly silenced when an ear-shattering explosion boomed in the air. Shock waves swept through the town, shattering every window in its path. Mixed in with the shock waves were giant tremors that shook the buildings and caused all the people to struggle to stay on their feet.

Folly had always been jumpy. Even the slightest physical contact by someone he didn’t know or like made him flinch and shout. When the sudden explosion, shock waves, and tremors came, Folly just went into a state of panic. He burst into tears, starting screaming at the top of his lungs, and bolted off away from Trudly and everyone else's.

Trudly chased after Folly throughout the town, yelling his name as he went. It was nighttime when Trudly found Folly huddled alone in the corner of an abandoned warehouse, still crying. The very moment Trudly made himself known, Folly began hurling rocks at him as if he didn’t know or care that Trudly was his friend and not somebody that was going to hurt him. Trudly stayed with Folly even though flying rocks were assaulting him.

What became even more heartbreaking to Trudly was just looking at Folly. From what Trudly could see with limited light, Folly’s entire face was soaked with sweat, looking like he had just come out of a marathon. Folly was acting like he had come out of one, as well; his breath was short and rapid. Just looking at Folly’s body anxiously trembling and his crazed, manic eyes, made Trudly burst into tears himself.

Folly began to trust Trudly and regain his sanity by the next morning. In a weeks time, the city was starting to make a recovery as well. Most of it, that was. When Trudly and Folly passed by the slum district, he saw several shacks that were owned by people that couldn’t afford real homes toppled to the ground. Such a sight was depressing to begin with. But it was even more depressing for Trudly to know that he and Folly weren’t the only ones that were struggling to live.

Yet, only footsteps away from the slum district was the part of the city where the people that lived there could swim in their own money. The windows that were shattered by the shock waves were replaced and the walls that were cracked by the tremors were patched up. Even that useless hunk of rock from the week before was repaired.

Trudly’s anger and hatred for that town boiled to the point were he simply stormed out of the city, Folly following him without a complaint. But no matter where they’d go, Trudly always ran into selfish moneybags that hoarded all their useless possessions while other people right under their raised noses were starving on the streets.

Ironically, Trudly lived with a hoarder every day.

The things that Folly’s packratting instincts picked up certainly weren’t valuable as far as money went. But they were still useless all the same. A huge pile of miscellaneous items half as tall as Trudly stood across from him. Rocks, wilted flowers, litter found on the beach, and driftwood were just among the items sitting idly there. Anything that looked even remotely new to Folly wound up in that pile. And no matter what Trudly would say to convince him to get rid of all those things, Folly would just reply, “Might need ‘em later.” Yet, Folly still had yet to come up with a good use for the majority of those items.

Trudly glanced over beside him and saw that Folly was fast asleep. His Whismur were sleeping as well. Mur, the male Whismur, had ever attempted to cover himself up with Folly’s long, untidy hair. Looking around, Trudly noticed that he was the only one that was awake. Spook was still in the spot he was in about an hour earlier and Spitz was napping in the center of her web.

The timing was perfect, but Trudly still sat in place for a while. After mulling it over, Trudly reluctantly got up and silently walked over to where Folly’s pile was. Next to it was a minute pile in comparison which contained what few possessions Trudly had. One of them was what was supposed to be a fishing pole, but was really nothing more than a stick that had a string and hook tied to it. Trudly picked up the stick and the small plastic container next to it and headed for the cave’s exit.

As he climbed up the stairs as quietly as he could, he heard Spitz overhead stirring in her sleep. The Spinarak awoke and stared down at Trudly from her web. She let out a confused screech, but was quickly silenced by Trudly, “I ain’t gonna be long. Don’t wake Folly up, ‘kay?”

When Spitz nodded her head, Trudly nodded back and jumped off the wall. Immediately after he left the cool shade, the high sun began to beat down on him. The thick, humid air forced Trudly to gasp for breath. Even when the shade was right behind, Trudly pressed on along the scorching beach.

Trudly hated to leave the cave behind, however. It wasn’t because of the heat, though. After living in the inferno that was called Orre for nearly six years, he had gotten used to the hot weather. Of course, that still didn’t mean he liked it.

The pangs of guilt stemmed from leaving Folly alone in that cave. Trudly almost wanted to turn back, but he knew that Folly had the largest fits when he was woken up against his will. Then Folly would spend the entire fishing trip chattering about the most stupid things and complaining about how much he was bored. Trudly’s concentration and patience would shatter and he wouldn’t be able to catch a thing. Ironically, Folly was the one who would always gripe about how they rarely ate anything but berries. Without Folly, however, things got incredibly lonesome. The feeling got heavier as he walked further away from the cave. As usual, it was a situation where Trudly couldn’t win either way.



Master Procratinator
Eventually, Trudly came to a part of the beach where the sand was replaced with a field of large, black rocks. As he climbed on top of them, Trudly could spot several indentations and gaps in the rocks that were filled with water. The tiny tide pools were filled with small, bright colored mollusks clinging to the sides of the rocks. Trudly left them alone, since he learned from experience that those kinds of shellfish tasted nasty and caused a horrible stomachache.

Trudly sat on the edge of a rock slightly above the ocean and placed his equipment next to him. Trudly’s holed boots met the water when he sat down, so he decided to take them off. The gentle waves splashing his bare feet did feel good and provided some relief against the summer heat.

Trudly opened up the plastic container next to him. He pulled out a soft, yellow cube and stuck it onto the hook after he unraveled the string wrapped around the stick. The bait smelled awful and probably tasted awful as well, but the fish loved it for some reason.

Trudly cast out the line and the dullness immediately set in. The bait sat in the tranquil water without so much as a baby Magikarp nibbling at it. The entire time was spent pulling the line back in, casting it out again, and waiting. Pull, cast, wait. Pull, cast, wait.

As he yawned, Trudly’s eyes wandered in search for something interesting to occupy his mind. A Wingull gliding the cloudless sky, a Wailmer surfacing to breathe, anything.

This was why Trudly preferred lakes to the sea. The lakes he had been to always had something interesting swimming beneath him. The ocean was just too big and everything was spread out far away from each other. To find anything in the ocean, Trudly would have to go miles into it. If there wasn’t anything in a lake at a particular moment, there was sure to be something in the lush, surrounding woods. But still, the majority of the time, there were actually fish that would bite.

Trudly recast the line frustratingly and caught a glimpse of his reflection in a nearby tide pool. Trudly knew that anybody who saw him, with the exception of Folly, would say that he was an incredibly disgusting-looking person. Just about everything about Trudly's appearance was filthy. He had dirt caked between his long fingernails and on every square inch of his skin. His blond hair was greasy and tangled, which came from not having contact with a brush for so long.

His clothes were equally filthy. Trudly's gray, baggy jeans had several holes in them and had dried mud attached to the bottoms of the legs. His orange vest and black t-shirt was dappled with berry stains. The red sunglasses that rested in front of Trudly's eyes were scratched up on the lenses. The dark-blue hat that had two rounded, white-striped nubs opposite of each other, which Trudly guessed was supposed to resemble Umbreon ears, was falling apart.

The filth that covered Trudly from head to toe had apparently brought a nose-burning stench with it. Neither Trudly nor Folly paid much attention to it, since they lived with the odor every day. But other people could smell it a mile away. Trudly would always see nearby people gagging and holding their noses. Trudly wasn't concerned with their disgust with him, though. Trudly stopped caring what other people thought of him a long time ago.

Folly seemed to be a bit different, though. He didn't care about what the general public thought of him either, but for someone who didn't own a bar of soup to his name, he was awfully obsessive about hygiene. Trudly would often see him picking out the dirt under his fingernails multiple times a day. Almost regularly, Folly would go out into the ocean as far as he could go and still touch bottom and start washing the dirt off him. It wasn't unusual for Folly to spend hours cleaning himself. It was like he felt the need to remove every grain of sand attached to his body. And chances were that Folly would just get dirty again within five minutes.

Trudly scowled and yanked in his line. He wrapped the line around the stick, grabbed bait container, and stood up, giving up on catching anything. What the hell did I expect? This entire region is a lifeless wasteland!

He didn't even bother putting his boots back on. It was getting even warmer outside, so Trudly decided to keep them off until he reached the burning-hot sand. Instead, he tied their laces tightly around the stick and held it behind him as he walked back to the cave. His bare, wet feet made the journey across the rocks slippery. Before long, Trudly wished he had worn his boots. Especially when his foot slipped into a small gap in the rocks.

Before Trudly could pull his foot out, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain. Screaming, he pulled his foot out of the gap and found a Krabby hanging onto it by the tips of its large red pincer. Trudly shook his foot frantically, but the irritated crab didn't plan on letting go. As a matter of fact, the Krabby tried to swing itself into a position where its other snapping pincer could get a hold of Trudly's other foot.

When simply shaking his foot in a panicked manner didn’t work, Trudly resorted to swinging the Krabby at the rock wall beside him. At first, the Krabby didn’t seem to be fazed. But after several more times of being banged against solid rock, causing its spiky shell to crack slightly, the Krabby finally released its claw. The Krabby fell to the ground and tottered back and forth, struggling to keep standing on its six, thin feet.

While the Krabby was still dazed and confused, Trudly took the chance to make his getaway. As his heart was racing, he ran across the rocks as fast as he could on an injured foot. Once Trudly reached the sand, he sat down and checked the damage. The Krabby’s claw had created a bleeding cut on the sole and top of his foot. Anxiety swept over Trudly, fearing that he’ll lose too much blood by the time he’d get back to the cave. With his mind focused on getting the wound patched up, Trudly stood back up. His injured foot gingerly stood on its toes while most of Trudly’s balance was in his other. Touching the cut spread a stabbing pain throughout his foot and Trudly would’ve rather not get sand in his wound.

Just as Trudly began to limp back to the cave, he spotted a red blur in the corner of his eye. He turned his head around and saw the enraged Krabby scuttling sideways straight towards him. Trudly yelled, “What da hell?!” and tried to outrun the Krabby, but his injury slowed him down. The Krabby caught up to him and began snapping its claws and spitting bubbles from under its lower, tan part of its shell. The tiny clear bubbles were forced out of the Krabby’s foaming mouth and assaulted Trudly. Trudly’s skin felt like it was burning as the acidic bubbles barraged it.

The bubbles forced Trudly to stumble backwards. Each time his injured foot hit the sandy ground, a wave of pain surged through it. Gritting his teeth, Trudly kicked red-tinted sand at the Krabby with his other foot once he regained his balance. When that didn’t work, Trudly grabbed anything on the ground within reach and flung them at the furious Pokemon. But even so, the Krabby still advanced toward him faster than he could get away.

Trudly crammed his hand into his right pocket, frantically searching for something else to throw at the Krabby. His hand met something cold and round, about the size of an Oran berry from what his sense of touch could tell. He pulled out the object, an old, minimized Poke Ball. Trudly had completely forgotten that he left the Poke Ball in his pocket, or that he had any left at all. Thinking quickly, he pressed the button in the middle with his thumb, expanding it to a size where in barely fit in his palm. He hurled the Poke Ball at the Krabby, converting it into red energy and sucked it in, and dashed off.

The idea of standing around to watch how many times the ball would twitch didn’t appeal much to Trudly or his bleeding foot at that moment. He limped toward the cave that was now in sight as fast as he could. He hoped that the Poke Ball could stall the Krabby long enough so he could get inside the cave. Then Spitz and Spook could take care of it if it was still intent on its pursuit.

When no cloud of acid bubbles struck his skin and the sound of claws clicking together was absent, Trudly turned his head around. The Poke Ball was sitting there motionlessly, letting the soft breeze blow grains of white sand over it. The salty air grew quiet; the only sounds that Trudly could hear was his own breath and heartbeat. Did I... actually catch something?

At first, Trudly thought that he was dreaming. But if that was so, the sharp pain in his foot would’ve woken him up long before then. Even so, the fact that Trudly captured a wild Pokemon seemed unreal. Before that, every single attempt to catch a Pokemon in his entire life ended up in failure.

One instinct told Trudly to run over and grab the Poke Ball, but another told him to get back to the cave. He could always go back and get it later when his wound was patched up. But what if the wind picked up and buried the Poke Ball, making it so Trudly wouldn’t be able to find it? Or what if somebody came along and took it? On the other hand, what if he took too long to stumble over to retrieve it and lose too much blood? Then Trudly wouldn’t get out with either his life or the Krabby.

Trudly really hated dilemmas like those.

Feeling like he was taking a huge chance, Trudly quickly dashed to the Poke Ball. Not even bothering to stuff it in his pocket, Trudly sped back towards the cave. His heart gradually stopped banging in his ears and his breath became easier as he reached the stone wall, still conscious. Even though he gingerly and carefully walked up the stairs, Trudly slipped when he reached the top. He tumbled off the wall and shouted when his back hit the ground.

Trudly’s shout wasn’t very loud, but it still made Folly wake up with a gasp. He flailed around for a moment before forcing himself to sit up, causing Mur to tumble off of his head and into his lap. Folly looked in Trudly’s direction and scowled. He set Mur down next to Whis beside him and laid back down, his back facing Trudly.

“Geez... sorry ‘bout dat,” Trudly moaned as he stood up and balanced himself, rubbing his back with his hand, “Good Mew, ya were still asleep?!”

Was!" Folly snapped loudly and angrily at Trudly.

“Smart ***,” Trudly muttered under his breath. He knew he probably should’ve left Folly be at that moment and show him the Krabby’s Poke Ball later. But he figured if he did, Folly would be asking him why he didn’t show him earlier. Trudly sat down next to Folly and held out the Poke Ball, “Hey. Check dis out.”

Folly rolled over, his face still scrunched up in a scowl, “Don’t care! Jus’ a Poke Ball!”

“No kiddin’! It’s what’s in da Poke Ball, shithead!” Trudly groaned, rolling his eyes, “I caught a Krabby out on da beach.”

“Still don’t care!”

Trudly growled and tossed his equipment next him, Folly’s bad mood becoming contagious, “Boy, yer real pleasant to talk to!”

“Am when not...” Folly began, but was suddenly cut off. After a brief pause, Folly’s eyes widened and he yelled, “Foot’s bleedin’!”

“Yeah, I know,” Trudly moaned as he looked at his sandy and blood-covered foot. The pain had subsided a bit, but the wound still stung, “Stupid Krabby got me back ‘ere. Better get dis washed out ‘fore it gets...” All of a sudden, Trudly saw Folly get up, pick up a nearby bucket, and dash towards the exit before he could even finish his sentence, “...worse... Uh, Folly? Whattaya doin’?”

Folly climbed up the stairs and didn’t even look in Trudly’s direction until he was at the top. He then sat down and looked behind him, “Gettin’ water. Gotta get dis washed out ‘fore it gets worse.”

“Not with salt water, ya ain’t! Don’t ya know what happens when ya put salt water on an open would?! It stings! Like hell!” Trudly yelled quickly before Folly ran off and threw the bucket of seawater at his foot.

“Know dat,” Folly said simply, “Gettin’ water from da stream.”

“Dat’s like, an hour ‘way, Folly!” Trudly reached for a canteen sitting next to him and popped it open, “‘Ere’s plenty of water I could use here!”

Just as the first drop of fresh water hit Trudly's skin, Folly frantically yelled, "Dat's drinkin' water!"

Despite Folly's anxiety, Trudly continued to pour the water on his foot. The lukewarm water made the blood and most of the sand slip off onto the ground under him, "And its also da only water nearby dat won't burn my foot! I'll get some more after dis damn thing's taken care of, all right?"

"All right!" Folly replied as he climbed back down the stairs. Just as Trudly motioned to get up, Folly ran over to his packrat pile and began digging through it. Eventually, he found a roll of white tape that was made to cover up large wounds. Trudly had no idea where Folly had picked that up, but he didn't say it as Folly began wrapping the tape around the cut.

"Y'know, I was just 'bout to do dat..." Trudly sighed as he watched Folly wrap his foot more than enough times than he needed to.

"Do it wrong." Folly said innocently, his tone contradicting his words.

Yeah, because your way is always the right way! Trudly kept the words in his head, even though he wanted to blurt it out. It was times like those that Trudly wished his mind worked more like Folly's. Trudly found that his conscience forced him to frequently lie through his teeth. The things he would say would often contradict what he thought. It was either that, or Trudly would keep his mouth shut on certain subjects that he wanted to comment on. After years of experience, Trudly found lying extremely easy. But that still didn’t mean he liked it.

Folly, on the other hand, had no problem speaking his mind. There was practically no filter between his mind and his mouth. Sometimes, it was difficult, nearly impossible for people other than Trudly, to get him to talk. But when he did speak, he meant everything he’d say. There was no doubt in Trudly’s head that Folly was the most honest person he knew.

Maybe a little too honest. Due to the lack of a filter, Folly would often blurt out the most rude and disrespectful things instead of keeping them in his head. Most of the time, it was factually true. But Folly was never the one to choose the best times to point such things out. In addition, Folly usually never intended to be rude. He rarely realized what he said was out of place, which often made things worse. Trudly admitted that he wasn’t the most polite person out there, but at least he knew when to not say anything.

Folly continued to wrap Trudly’s foot with no sign of stopped. Before long, a thick ring of tape was stuck to it and barely any was left on the roll, “Dude, I think ya got ‘nuff tape on ‘ere! Ya can stop now!”

Folly stopped wrapping a few moments after Trudly spoke up. He then attempted to tear off the end of the tape, but seemed to be having difficulty. The tape wouldn’t rip when he tried to pull the roll apart from what was attached to Trudly. Before Folly yanked his entire foot off, Trudly reached for the tape. He took the edge of the tape with the fingertips of both of his hands and pulled them in opposite directions, ripping the tape.

Trudly withdrew his foot and gently sat it down. Folly’s eyes were still on it, however, and he didn’t stop staring for a few seconds. He then raised his head slightly and said, “Pressure. Scab over, don’t pick at it.”

Trudly looked back at Folly dryly, his face exploding with sarcasm, “Yeah, I’ll keep dat in mind.”

All of a sudden, something in one of Trudly’s pockets began to vibrate. He quickly reached into his pocket, the feel of it shaking against his leg felt rather odd. Trudly pulled out his small, thin, vibrating PDA, half-tempted to throw it against the wall. He restrained himself from doing so and pressed a button that forced the Poke Ball-shaped part that covered the screen to slide open.

The screen was already on the e-mail function, which was the only thing Trudly needed the PDA for. Trudly wasn’t very good with electronics and didn’t understand the other functions very well. He barely understood the e-mail program, as a matter of fact. Trudly wasn’t very interested in the PDA anyways and rarely used it.

The sender of the new e-mail had the same PDA number as the rest of the e-mails that Trudly's inbox was loaded with. All those e-mails from the same person that Trudly never bothered to delete was close to making his inbox full. Sighing, Trudly reluctantly opened the new one, which read:

"Missing: Two nineteen-year-olds known as Trudly and Folly.

Last Seen: Three days ago slacking off.

If you have seen them, please contact Miror B. at the Krabby Club and drag their lazy asses over to him."

Sometimes, Trudly really hated his boss' sense of humor.

Trudly first reaction to Miror B.'s e-mail was instinctively fear. The tone that he used in e-mails was usually a good indication of his mood. And from what Trudly could tell, it didn't sound too good. Trudly knew from experience that Miror B.'s bad moods were the worst. Even though he was reluctant to face it, Trudly just wanted to get it over with before Miror B. got even angrier.

But as he was about to stand up, Trudly looked at the Poke Ball next to him. Reminded of the Krabby he just caught, Trudly's own mood brightened a little. Maybe with his recent success at catching a Pokemon, Trudly thought that Miror B. might be more lenient with him and Folly.

When Trudly stood up, his stance and posture was in an awkward position. The tape wrapped around his injured foot elevated one side of him while the other was at its normal height. His slanted posture felt incredibly odd and he could imagine it looked odd as well.

"Da boss wants us." Trudly groaned, trying to get over the weird stance he was in. It felt even more awkward as he slipped on his boots and lifted one side of him even higher.

Trudly only took a few steps before he stopped and turned around. Folly was sitting firmly in place, staring at the ground, "Folly, c'mon! Let's go!"

"Ain't goin'," Folly muttered almost incoherently as he ran his fingers through the sand on the ground, "Don't wanna go."

"Folly! I..." Trudly began to raise his voice, but quickly paused. He sighed, beginning to feel guilty. Trudly didn't want to force Folly to go, but he knew only problems could arise if he didn't, "I know ya don't wanna, Folly. But if both of us don't show up, da boss is jus' gonna get madder."

Folly still didn't budge an inch. By then, his fingers had created a deep gash in the sand. As his eyes continued to stare straight into the ground with no sign of lifting up, Trudly's confidence began to dwindle. Guilt mixed with hopelessness began to fill the void, which almost made Trudly sit down and stare at the ground himself. Trudly hated to see Folly like that, and he hated it even more when couldn't bring him out of his sullen state.

Despite the chance of lifting Folly's mood was abysmally low, Trudly attempted to anyways, "You'll be fine, Folly. I ain't gonna let anythin' happen to ya."

Folly turned his head minutely and mumbled, "Sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure," Trudly nodded his head and held his hand out, "C'mon. Get up."

Even though Folly looked directly at Trudly's hand, he took it upon himself to lift himself up. Trudly to let that one slide by, however. Folly was uneasy enough. Trudly didn't need to add onto that.

As they were about to leave the cave, Trudly walked over to where Spook was sleeping and nudged him with his hand. Spook didn't even bother to lift himself up and just stared at Trudly as he whispered, "Hey listen. Da boss wants to see me 'n Folly. We're gonna try to get back as soon as we can," Trudly glanced over to the sleeping Whismur distrustfully and pointed at them, "While we're gone, make sure 'ose two don't do anythin' stupid." Spook nodded wearily, probably too tired to know what he was agreeing to.

Trudly and Folly both left the cave reluctantly. Neither of them enjoyed the visits with Miror B. very much. He would always yell at them about how they weren't good for anything. Trudly thought sometimes that he was right, but he still didn't need to rub it in their faces.

Trudly couldn't say that he liked Miror B. all that much, but he kept his opinions quiet and tried to remain on his good side. Folly, however, had no problem saying to Trudly that he hated Miror B.. Folly had never said that directly to him, since he was also downright scared of him as well. Chances were that Miror B. knew it, though. Trudly could tell that Miror B. was picking up Folly's nervous vibes. He would stay a good distance away from him, never make eye contact, or speak to him. Which was how he acted toward everyone else. Folly had every right to be nervous, and Trudly knew better than to criticize him for it.

Little by little as they walked down the beach, Folly's uneasiness began to ebb away. He looked like Trudly's words were sinking in and that he believed them. When they were halfway to Gateon Port, Folly began rambling about how Shellders make pearls out of the blue. The monologue was spontaneous, random, and frankly, something that Trudly could care less about. Despite that, Trudly kept his mouth shut and let Folly on for about an hour.

In the middle of Folly's long-winded discussion, Trudly smirked minutely. He really didn't need to convince Folly to come with him. Regardless if he was scared or not, Folly would follow Trudly just about anywhere. If Trudly hadn't said anything and began to leave without Folly, he knew that Folly would change his mind as soon as Trudly was out of sight.

But even though Trudly didn't need to say anything to get Folly to leave the cave, he knew that being reassured felt nice every now and then.

C'mon, people. Don't tell me you didn't see this coming.

But eh, something tells me I kinda screwed up on Folly and I'm gonna get pelted with rocks 'cause of it. *sigh* Hope he works for you guys.

Heheh. Umbreon ears. That was the best I could come up with without saying "Mickey Mouse". XD Seriously, what the hell is that thing on Trudly's head?! *pokes at weird hat-thing*


...Call me Loffyglu.
But eh, something tells me I kinda screwed up on Folly and I'm gonna get pelted with rocks 'cause of it. *sigh* Hope he works for you guys.

*pelts Bluey-chan with rocks*

Sorry, but you more than screwed him up. You raped him, cut his wrists, kicked him in the nuts, bit off his head, and threw him out the window of a 100-story building. xD

Seriously though, he's very OOC here. Apologies for not pointing this out in the PM, but . . . I could understand if he's emo and all, but he's just downright immature and insane. *shotshotshot*

But geez, whatever Miror B. did to him after the Miror Radar was discovered (I think), it must have really taken a toll on him.

Heheh. Umbreon ears. That was the best I could come up with without saying "Mickey Mouse". XD Seriously, what the hell is that thing on Trudly's head?! *pokes at weird hat-thing*

I know, right? xD I wonder what he would look like without it . . .

Anyway, aside from Folly's OOCness, this is a great, well-written chapter. And as I said earlier, I can see you've greatly improved with your punctuation. :)
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Master Procratinator
*pelts Bluey-chan with rocks*

*rock'd* *impact with skull makes a odd, hollow sound* XD

Seriously though, he's very OOC here. Apologies for not pointing this out in the PM, but . . . I could understand if he's emo and all, but he's just downright immature and insane. *shotshotshot*

*loads AK-47*

Naw, just kidding. XD But, ehh... I ain't gonna try to deny that I screwed up on this chapter.

This is kinda repetitive to you Anita-chan, since I already said it over PM, but I completely intended Folly to be like that. *brick'd* Of course, that still doesn't mean I did an awesome job on his character. Yeah, I know I went overboard. :/

But geez, whatever Miror B. did to him after the Miror Radar was discovered (I think), it must have really taken a toll on him.

Trust me, it did. (You could've a least put that in spoiler tags, though. XD) What I plan on doing later on is writing flashbacks that took place during and shortly after XD, and I'm sure you'll see quite a difference in his personality. Although, of course, they won't be as ridicuolously long as the ones that took up both Chapter One and Two. XD

It certainly took a toll on Folly, but took quite a toll on Trudly as well. Really, think about it. Here you have Trudly watching Folly get closer and closer to hitting rock bottom. And no matter how much he tries to keep his best friend from completely losing his mind, (He does still have some of his sanity. I won't deny that he's immature and bordering on insane, but he'll show plenty of mature and intelligent moments as the fic goes on.) he can't seem to stop it. If Trudly seems like the person that's easily irritated and frustrated with Folly (Or easily irritated and frustrated in general), that's why.

I know, right? xD I wonder what he would look like without it . . .

Somehow, since he wears that weird thing all the time, I can imagine he has the worst case of hat hair. XD


Master Procratinator
I like big chapters and I can not lie. You other SPPF'ers cannot deny... *tomatoed*

If you're wondering why this took a bit longer than I usually do on these chapters... Well, I'm sure you can figure it out by seeing how gigantically large this chapter is.

Be warned as this chapter contains consistant swearing. Compliments of your Not-So-Friendly, Neighborhood Swear-Happy Trudly. :)

Anyways... Chapter Six!~

Chapter Six: The Voice of Silence

Folly never was much of a talkative person. At least not to most people. He would always overhear such interesting conversations in public that he would just love to take part in. Most of the time, Folly held so many of his opinions in his head about the discussion that he wanted to blurt out. But every time he even came close to attempting to join in, that small part of his conscience would whisper in his mind that it wasn’t a good idea and force him to back out. It didn’t matter whether it was starting a conversation or joining one; Folly found that talking to complete strangers gave him the most uncomfortable feeling.

Maybe that was why he never felt nervous about talking to Trudly. He had known him since he was six years old and was practically the only person on the face of the earth that he had no problems opening up to. While it was like pulling teeth to make himself utter a single word to everyone else, Folly could say whatever was on his mind to Trudly without a thought.

But even if Folly could speak to Trudly freely, it still didn’t mean he could usually talk for long periods of time. This time was a bit different. Half the time, when he spoke for so long, Trudly would eventually moan, “I don’t give a damn, Folly!”, but he had yet to do so. Folly thought that Trudly would’ve been bored out of his skull before long, but he hadn’t said so, so Folly kept on talking. Besides, he needed talk about something that would allow him to get his mind off of unpleasant thoughts.

Folly thought that what he talked about as he and Trudly walked down the beach was interesting, though. He found it fascinating that all it took was a grain of sand, or any irritant for that matter, to enter a Shellder and within a few years, a person could find a pearl inside of it. Contrary to the image that came to mind when he thought of a pearl, round ones were actually quite rare. It didn’t really surprise him when he first learned that. He knew already that things didn’t usually turn out the way the plan went.

About thirty minutes after they left the cave, Folly could see the rocky hills surrounding Gateon Port jutting out from the horizon. With the knife-sharp rocks sticking out of it and the slopes at a near ninety-degree angle, the entire thing screamed "death trap". Nobody else dared to climb the hills, since all a person had to do was trip and they'd impale themselves. Since no one went within two yards of the hills, it was pretty much impossible for anyone to notice the tunnel that went through it. It was a miracle he and Trudly even found a safe way through. They seemed to be the only ones that knew about it, though. Otherwise, they would've been seeing people pass through the small tunnel for months.

Small was an understatement. The tunnel could be more accurately classified as low and claustrophobic. It was wide and high enough to fit two people carrying bags full of berries, but it was still too low to stand up in. In addition to having to crawl through it, Trudly and Folly had to feel around just to know where to go. The place was dark beyond comparison. It was easy for Folly to completely lose his sense of day and night inside the darkness. When they finally would reach the end of it, they'd be blinded by the sun the moment they'd set foot outside.

As they came closer to the hills, the entrance to the tunnel gradually became more visible. It appeared as tiny, horizontal slit in the steep walls. Trudly and Folly climbed up a less steep, but just as rocky, slope to get to it. Trudly climbed it, at least. Folly had to be pulled up the hill in several spots. Just reaching the entrance expended enough effort. And they'd have to spend even more to get through it.

Before they entered the tunnel, Trudly took off his hat, revealing a giant mess of long, tangled, blond hair. It was so disorderly and filled with knots that it looked like at least four generations of Starly had made their nest in it. As a matter of fact, something probably did live in that mess of Trudly's. In the past few weeks, Folly would frequently see Trudly scratching at his hair like a maniac, all while groaning and cussing.

After stuffing his hat inside his pocket, Trudly got down on his knees and crawled inside the tunnel. Folly reluctantly copied him and followed Trudly inside. He couldn't stand that place. Being in the dark wasn't the main problem. Folly was used to being in the dark and sometimes preferred it to the light. Even so, he'd still liked to be able to see what was more than an inch away from him.

But his central issue with the tunnel was how small and cramped it was. It didn't make Folly very relaxed to know that he could easily cut himself against one of the sharp rocks lining the wall. Pain didn't appeal much to Folly, and neither did the uncomfortable confinement and the inky darkness.

The real problems arose halfway through the tunnel, however. His left leg began to grow heavy and painful; it felt like somebody had stuck knives into it. Eventually, it got to the point where he had to drag it behind him as he crawled. As his leg continued to throb with sharp pain, Folly's urge to stop moving altogether intensified.

His leg never used to act up like that, but such pain recently became typical. Approximately a year ago, his leg had been bent into a position where it faced away from the right one at an unnatural angle. And on top of that, shards of glass had stabbed into the bone when he fell on a pile of them. The leg was able to be turned back close to how it originally was and the glass was taken out, but it still caused him frequent spasms of pain. Sometimes they happened spontaneously, but they also occured when he’d move faster than a short sprint.

Moving too much also presented problems. Usually, he and Trudly made one trip to Gateon Port a day. That still brought some stinging in his leg, but at least it wasn't pushing his limits. Folly wasn't used to moving so much in a few hours like he was that day. They didn't regularly travel such a distance even before Folly's leg had been bent.

Folly hated changing his typical routine. Certain things about his life he did want to change. But those were different. He wanted change to happen when he wanted it to happen. He remembered telling himself the previous day that he wanted to explore the PDA's functions a bit more to see what he could make it do. Instead of doing that like he planned, he was forced to crawl though some miserable and musty tunnel, straining himself just to move. All to meet up with someone he hated with every shred of his soul.

“Hey!” Folly heard Trudly yell ahead of him, “Quit laggin’!”

Folly was still scowling at his thoughts and ended up snarling, “Can’t.” He stopped moving and needed to rest for a brief moment.

“Whattaya mean ya...” Trudly began to shout, but quickly paused. Folly heard him moan and sigh to himself before saying in a much calmer tone, “Yer leg’s actin’ up again, ain’t it?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Folly muttered, placed his head between his arms on the ground. The pain was becoming less easier to withstand as each second ticked by. His entire body began to sweat profusely, which was by not only the stabbing in his leg, but by the stagnant, hot air around him. As he breathed in and out heavily, he could feel his body shaking and his fingers digging into the ground without a conscious effort.

The sound made by his trembling breath filled his ears to the point where he couldn’t make out much of anything else. Folly could hear Trudly talking ahead of him, but it was difficult to decipher what he was saying through his clogged ears, “H... huh?”

“I said I can’t turn ‘round in here to get ya. Do ya think ya can make it to da end of da tunnel?” Folly focused less on the sound of his own breath and more on Trudly’s voice as he repeated himself. Most of the time when Trudly had to repeat himself to Folly, he’d scream his words back to him. But this time, his words seemed a lot... calmer.

And that was saying something. Usually, Trudly and the word “calm” was never used in the same sentence. Unless the word “not” was thrown in there as well. Trudly wasn’t known for placidness. He was known for his explosive temper. Trudly and Folly were extremely infamous throughout Orre, which meant that nearly everyone knew who they were. That also meant that most people knew better than to get Trudly angry. Trudly’s vocal conniptions were usually enough to deter the person that was ticking him off from doing it again. But it still wasn’t uncommon for him to use physical violence. And if Trudly didn’t resort to using his fists to get his point across, he’d see to it that some of the agitator’s possessions would wind up either missing or broken.

But recently, Trudly had been turning his anger against Folly as well. Granted, he had never hit Folly, but he’d yell at him a lot more frequently than he used to. It seemed like Folly couldn’t move a muscle without Trudly criticizing him. Folly started to feel like there was nothing he’d do that wouldn’t frustrate Trudly.

Ironically, at other times, Trudly was calmer than he ever was before. One second, he’d be screaming at Folly, and the next he’d be rather tolerant of him. It was like flipping a switch on and off. Frankly, the continuous alternating between two opposite emotions began to worry Folly. And Trudly was usually the one to make complaints that Folly “wasn’t his usual self.”

Trudly was a bit of a hypocrite that way.

“N...no...” Folly answered Trudly with a shuddering moan. Any movement that involved his impaired leg would intensify the strong pain. All Folly wanted to do was to just lay there and wait until his leg wasn’t throbbing anymore. He was willing to stay in that muggy tunnel all night if he had to. Discomfort Folly could handle. Pain he couldn’t.

Trudly was silent for a while; it took him a minute just to respond to Folly. When he finally did speak up, he also began to moan, “I don’t think we got much longer to go through here. Y...yer gonna have to keep movin’ Folly.”

The moment Trudly stopped talking, Folly lifted his head without a thought. It was too dark for Folly to see anything, so he figured Trudly was sightless in the tunnel as well. But despite that, Folly shot an incensed glare and scowled in his direction.

How on earth did Trudly expect Folly to just ignore the pain in his leg that escalated with every pulse of blood in his veins? How could he just figure that Folly could just shrug it off and go on acting like everything was perfectly normal? Sure, Trudly could get over physical pain quickly. If he got hurt, Trudly would swear at the injury and that would be the end of it. He was probably disregarding the wound that the Krabby made earlier that day.

But Folly wasn’t Trudly. He couldn’t ignore pain. He couldn’t ignore the stinging dead weight he was forced to drag behind him though the tunnel. And he certainly couldn’t just “get over it.”

He'd never get over it. He wanted to, but Folly knew that it would always stick in his mind even if he lived to be one-hundred. Besides, how would eighty-one more years of thinking about the same thing again and again do any good for him? How on earth could time be his friend? Folly's tolerance for pain was low. His tolerance for thoughts of pain was just as abysmal.

Folly pulled himself along the tunnel's floor languishingly, asking himself why he couldn't be more like Trudly. Why couldn't he be tougher like Trudly was? Why couldn't he dismiss pain as if it was nothing at all. Trudly could look fear in its cold eyes and not budge an inch. But two feet behind him would be Folly shivering and having the hair on the back of his neck stand up straight. While Trudly always seemed to have the right thing to say in the most terrifying situations, Folly became so locked up inside he couldn't ever mutter. Folly would've thought that being around Trudly for so many years would've made him brave like him. Instead, he turned out to be a coward that feared fear itself.

It seemed like forever and a day before Folly saw sunlight peer at him. The small rays blinded him at first, even with his blue shades on. But after his eyes got used to the light being there, Folly was almost compelled to move faster. However, his legs was still in pangs and practically motionless.

He watched Trudly crawl out of the tunnel long before he was able to get close to the exit. When Folly finally did manage to come to the exit, Trudly's hand suddenly appeared as a shadow in the sunlight in front of him, "Grab my hand. I'll pull ya out."

Folly wanted to get out of that damned tunnel more than anything, but he was actually reluctant to grab Trudly's hand. His foremost pet peeve was making physical contact with another person. It didn't matter whether it was somebody hitting him or giving a light tap on the shoulder, being touched always made him tense and nervous.

Despite his anxiety, Folly was willing to overcome it for a brief moment just to get out of the tunnel. But a chill still ran down his arms and through his spine when he grasped Trudly's hands with both of his. For a few seconds, Folly felt himself freeze up and allowed himself to be pulled out without any resistance.

Within seconds, Folly was laying on the rough, rocky ground with the sun beating on his back. The shards of rocks poking at his stomach was highly uncomfortable and the humidity wasn't any more soothing. The only thing that was even remotely comforting was being out in the open air. But he still would've rather stayed in that one spot than get up and move. Besides, any energy he had to do so had been sapped away.

But of course, Trudly had to object to staying in one place, "Hey. Not here. People are gonna see us."

Folly tried to lift his head up and defend his decision, but he had lost the energy to even do that. His eyes nearly closed and breath rapid, Folly muttered weakly, "C...c...can't... can't move... no... no energy..."

His senses began to become scrambled as his mind forced him to drift off, even in such a discomforting place. His unconscious desire to fall asleep muffled the sound of Trudly's approaching footsteps. Folly could hear Trudly speaking in an audible tone, but he was unable to make out much of what he said. Trudly usually didn't mumble, so Folly knew that it had to have been his own exhausted self that was turning words unintelligible.

Before Folly could interpret any of what Trudly was saying, he suddenly felt Trudly's hands slip under him. A series of shudders shook his entire body and stole his breath for a moment. He froze up from head to toe and a cold, unnerving feeling spread through him yet again as Trudly lifted him off of the ground.

As Trudly slowly carried Folly down the slope, his mind raced with thoughts of both panic and self-reflection. When the panic faded away, Folly was left to muse about himself. Being nervous when people he didn't know or trust touched him he could understand. But what he couldn't understand was that he became just as paranoid when Trudly touched him. He knew that Trudly would never bring any harm to him; he could trust Trudly with his life. But why did he still flinch and shake like he was going to hurt him?

Things just didn't make sense anymore.

* * *

Folly found himself about an hour later under the shade off a conifer tree. The soft breeze blowing at his face felt pleasant and the gentle rustling of the pine needles above sounded dulcet as well. Everything felt so relaxing, he was reluctant to move away from it all.

Although he probably could've then if he wanted to. He lifted his injured leg slightly, testing it out. It stung and tingled a small amount, but it certainly wasn't as painful as before.

As Folly gently laid his leg back on the soft grass, he heard some sort of scraping sound next to him. He turned his head in the sound's direction and saw Trudly, his hat back on his head, whittling away at the point of a stick with his pocket knife. Trudly's face was scrunched up a bit, like it was whenever something annoyed him.

It took a few seconds before he turned his head towards Folly. When he looked at Folly, his face loosened and he set the knife and stick down, "Yer leg feelin' better?"

"Mmm-hmm," Folly mumbled in response, adjusting his position against the tree, "For da most part, yeah."

Trudly sat up from his leaning position against the tree and stretched his arms. Before long, he picked the stick and knife back up and began peeling the wood off of it at an angle, "Think ya can walk with it?"

"Dunno. Maybe," Folly guessed rather blindly. His leg wasn't hurting as much anymore, but he wasn't sure how far he could go with it before it did again, "Whatcha doin'?"

"Y'know da Krabby I caught dis mornin'? 'Ere's gotta be more of 'em. So since I can't catch **** by fishin', I figure I might be able to find another one and eat dat. 'Course, I need somethin' to stab it with." Trudly explained, not taking his eyes off of the stick and knife.

Just hearing Trudly's plans for the soon-to-be spear made Folly's stomach rumble. He didn't dislike the Cheri, Pecha, and Oran berries he usually ate, but he did have a desire for meat every now and then. Sometimes, Folly got a bit sick of the vegetarian diet he and Trudly had been forced to eat for the past few months. Live game might've been hard to find in Orre's wilderness, but packaged meat wasn't in the stores. But it always seemed like matches were never in stock when Trudly and Folly would break into the them. And Trudly's attempts to get Spook to make fire with his Will-o-Wisp technique hadn't been going so well.

Just as the point of the spear was getting fairly sharp, Trudly made a slip and sliced the point clean off. He growled, clenched his teeth, and threw the dulled stick in front of him, "If I can get it sharp, dat is! Dammit! Jus' ya watch! 'Ventually I'm gonna end up slicing my hand with dat damn thing!"

Why Trudly even processed the idea of doing that to himself was beyond Folly, he held out his hand before he did, "Lemme see it. Hand it over."

Trudly bent over, grabbed the stick, and placed it in Folly's hand. Only the stick.

"Da knife too!" Folly groaned, sticking his hand back out after he placed the spear next to him. Trudly hand was even right on the pocket knife.

Trudly narrowed his eyes and stared at Folly for a long moment. Folly recognized that look on Trudly's face; he often had that look around people he didn't know. But why was he looking at him like that? Trudly's glare didn't disappear even after he finally placed the pocket knife in his hands.

Folly grasped the handle of the knife as slowly as Trudly put it there. He returned the strange look Trudly was giving him and attempted at whittling the spear himself. Folly wanted to make it sharp like Trudly tried to, but his concentration was disappearing with each glance he'd return to him. He'd look back at him several times, but Trudly expression failed to change.

"Stop starin'." Folly eventually got tired of Trudly looking at him like he was. He couldn't stand it when people would just stare at him. It always made him nervous, uneasy, and unable to concentrate on anything knowing that somebody had their eyes on him unyieldingly. Folly thought Trudly knew that, but apparently he didn't.

"I ain't starin'. I'm watchin'." Trudly defended himself shortly.

He still didn't stop watching Folly and it seemed like he wouldn't any time soon. Folly tried to turn his concentration solely on the spear, but he still glanced at Trudly periodically. Staring or simply watching, it was still unnerving all the same.

Folly lost track of the time eventually. Sometimes he'd get so engrossed in what he's doing that he couldn't say for sure how long he had been doing it for. The same went for sharpening the spear. He wasn't sure whether he had been whittling for thirty minutes or ten. Either way, it was starting to look a lot sharper.

"Hey listen," Trudly abruptly interrupted his concentration. Folly set the knife and spear down before he'd ruin it with his lack of complete focus, "Y'know dat da Krabby Club is right next to da shop we hit dis mornin', right?"

"Umm... right..." Folly replied curiously, wondering what Trudly was getting at.

"I don't got a good feelin' 'bout goin' 'round 'ere. If people see us in da area, they're gonna think somethin's up 'n then we're gonna get arrested. That, 'n da boss's never where he says he is, so we'll have to wait a few hours 'til he does show up. Da longer we stay in one place, the more likely somebody's gonna catch us. Plus, I'd rather get da whole thing done 'n over with." Trudly began to explain, but still left Folly a bit in the dark. Being nervous about seeing Miror B. went without saying. Folly could honestly desire being arrested and locked in jail more than he could meeting up with him.

Trudly paused for a moment and sighed before continuing, "'Ere's dis bar in Gateon dat Reath told me 'bout. It's underground 'n they only allow people who have a decent criminal record in. Da boss has probably been 'ere, knowin' him. I wanna check dat place out and see if anyone knows for sure where he is."

"Reath? Haven't seen her in years!" Folly exclaimed, changing the subject.

"Good. Better stay dat way." Trudly spat with a groan.

Trudly never did like Reath or her friend, Ferma, very much. Unfortunately for him, they worked for Miror B. too when he was still part of Cipher. So Trudly and Folly had to spend nearly every day with them, much to Trudly's annoyance. Folly could remember Trudly griping about them once, saying "Reath 'n Ferma are kinda like us with boobs. 'Cept Reath's a lot *****ier than I could ever be. 'N Ferma ain't quiet 'cause she's 'fraid of being social. She's quiet 'cause she's a lil' priss dat don't give a **** 'bout anything dat don't involve her!" Maybe it was a good thing neither he or Folly had seen them since they got fired from Cipher. It would certainly explain why Trudly had been a bit less choleric for a few years since then.

"Anyways," Trudly got himself back on track, "Problem is dat its 'round da Parts Shop. 'N we gotta go through da center of town to get 'ere."

Just by hearing Trudly say "center of town" and "go through it," Folly's heart climbed up to his throat. Folly glanced past Trudly and at Gateon Port below, which looked like a ten minute walk from where he was sitting. Even from that distance, Folly could see how many people were there. And there was a lot of them. As he looked upon the dense crowds, he could feel the nervousness coming back, "L...lotta people 'ere..."

"I know. Dat's why I'm tellin' ya now," Trudly said as he stood up. He began to walk towards the city, but didn't get too far before he turned around, "C'mon, get up. We'll try to get through 'ere as fast as we can."

Folly planted himself firmly on the ground. Fast or not, Folly didn't want to go through such a daunting crowd and was determined to keep himself from doing so, "Can't run."

Trudly glared at Folly sharply and said with a low tone, "Ya can walk fast, Folly. I've seen ya do it."

"But... people still gonna notice us. More than they would at da Krabby Club. 'Cause... y'know. 'Ere's more people dat can see us. 'N we stick out. Blond hair ain't common 'round here. 'N we stink. Bad." Folly still wouldn't give up, even though Trudly was seeing through him like glass.

"Folly, I don't wanna fight with ya! I'd rather not go into da city at all if I could. But dat ain't an option! I know ya don't like a lotta people. But it's either walk through a crowd dat'll take us five minutes to do, or sit in one for three hours!" Trudly began to raise voice, which caused Folly to flinch slightly.

Folly realized that nothing he'd say would convince Trudly from not going, so he didn't bother fighting it anymore. He still wasn't too happy about it, though. He reluctantly stood up and wouldn't even shoot a glance towards the city.

Before he walked over to Trudly, Folly remembered the pocket knife and spear and picked them up, "Don't know if it's sharp 'nuff." Folly commented on the quality of the spear before he handed it to Trudly.

Trudly didn't even glimpse at the spear before he glared at Folly again and held his hand out, "My knife?"

Folly gave Trudly his knife back carefully, confused at that look he kept giving him. Trudly continued his firm gaze at him as he folded the blade of the knife into the worn-out, leather handle. He finally took his eyes off Folly when stuffed the knife in his pocket and began to examine the spear.

"Well?" Folly asked Trudly as he gently tapped his finger on the point, anxiously waiting for his opinion.

"Eh...It's okay," Trudly shrugged his shoulders as he strode over to the tree with the spear, "I don't feel like draggin' dis all through town, so I'm just gonna set it here."

Trudly's reply was a bit broad to Folly, and he wanted a more detailed answer. "Sharp 'nuff? Too dull?" The longer the delay in Trudly's response became, the more Folly's confidence began to dwindle. He dropped his head and stared at the ground, refusing to even look at the spear as he muttered, "Screwed up again, didn't I?"

"I said it was okay!" Trudly finally responded with a groan, stemming from the fact that he had to repeat himself. "Y'know, not too sharp, not too dull."

Folly gave a sigh of relief, knowing that he didn't completely mess up for once. For as long back as his memory could take him, he had always been labeled as a "Screw-up", or somebody that couldn't do anything right. Folly wasn't usually the one to become insulted at simple comments, but having almost no one believe in him was something that struck deep. Eventually, he became sick of it and continuously told himself that he'd never mess up on anything ever again. But despite that, it seemed like every attempt to do something right ironically ended up with him falling even harder.

After Trudly set the spear against the trunk of the tree and headed down the gradually less steep slope, Folly followed behind, carefully keeping his footing on the sharp rocks. Trudly seemed to be having a tougher time with it, as every time the foot that the Krabby attacked touched the rocks in just the right way, he'd wince and withdraw it with a jerk.

Folly looked back on the spear behind him, and began to think more about what Trudly wanted it for and then voiced his thoughts, "Couldn't ya jus' drop a rock on da Krabby?"

"Great idea, Folly!" Trudly exclaimed, but was rather unenthusiastic about it. Even though Trudly wasn't looking at Folly directly, he could still see Trudly's in the midst of a long eye-rolling sequence, "I'll jus' have to remember to drag a ten-pound boulder with me everywhere 'case a Krabby come 'long!"

Once he could balance himself, Folly stopped in his tracks briefly to look at Trudly with a raised eyebrow. That was just like him to take Folly's words and blow them way out of proportion.

"Don't need to be dat big..."

* * *

Folly was still breathing and his heart was still pumping blood through him with no signs of stopping in the near future. Since he was very much alive, he figured he would be ignorant to what hell really felt like for a little while. But he did get a fairly good idea of how it would be.

In his eyes, crowds were just an expansion of the two things he hated the most. Dozens of people were incessantly making physical contact and bumping into him, and dozens more were staring. Merely thinking about it sent a chill down his spine. Experiencing it first-hand made him break into a cold sweat.

As he pushed through the crowd as fast he could without his bad leg shutting down on him again, he began to wonder if he’d ever see the end of it. He didn’t know exactly how big the center of town was, but Trudly said it would take about five minutes to go through. But Folly’s distorted mind multiplied those five minutes into an amount that seemed like forever.

The crowd was so dense that it was hard to see anything that was farther than a few feet. The overabundance of people with their hands clasped around their noses made it exceedingly easy for Folly to lose sight of Trudly. And when that happened, his heart leapt a beat and his breath trembled. He knew that feeling. That cold, nervous feeling that was carried along with the sensation of being alone. It was like his vocal cords were being choked, rendering him helpless to say anything. He was left to scream Trudly’s name in his head, despite the fact that it was in vain. It would be nearly impossible for Trudly to hear him through the plethora of voices overlapping each other, even if he yelled. All Folly could do was trudge on in the faint hope that he could find Trudly while immersed in the paradox of it all. How there could be so many people around him, but still feel so alone.

He didn’t know where it came from, but he was glad it did, although not right away. As he was still absorbed in loneliness, a hand came out of nowhere and grabbed his arm. Having somebody touch him like that, especially in such a place made Folly panic and lose control of himself. Breathing even heavier than before, Folly instinctively ran in the opposite direction, but was futile as the hand pulled at him. Since he didn’t see a wide selection of options left, he let his thoughts of resorting to violence took control of his actions. He clenched his fists and teeth tightly, spun around, and blindly threw his fist in the direction the hand came from.

It wasn't until after the owner of the hand screamed Folly's name in a familiar voice was he able to put a face on him. Folly's eyes widened and he turned his head slowly and gingerly, afraid of his sight confirming who the hand belonged to. There Trudly was, standing in front of him with the most infuriated look on his face. He could see Trudly's eyes dilate into brown fireballs, even behind his red sunglasses. Trudly's entire face was turning into a hot, explosive red, but what truly made Folly's heart sink was that his right cheek was considerably redder and stood out.

Trudly grit his teeth firmly, almost to the point where Folly could picture them bleeding at any moment, before he finally released Folly's arm and spun around furiously. His heavy stomping and enraged breathing suggested he was about to storm off like a hurricane and leave Folly in the wake of the destruction. But surprisingly, he kept a pace where Folly could keep up.

But Folly wasn't about to get too close to him. Sure, Trudly got angry often, and Folly always seemed to be the catalyst of his frustration. But to see him look like that... it wasn't something that Folly witnessed frequently. He hated to think about it, but even as much as he tried to force his thoughts to deviate from that incensed image of Trudly's face, Folly couldn't escape the fact that for a few minutes, he became scared of Trudly.

The crowd was starting to dissipate, but that didn't make Folly any less uneasy. He knew that Trudly couldn't keep his angry, nerve-wracking silence for much longer, and he dreaded the anger finally erupting. The longer the silence lasted, the longer Folly's head was filled with thoughts of self-hate. Why? Why did he let that foolish instinct of panic blind him? Why did he let it strike the one person out of dozens that surrounded him, or more accurately, the one person out of billions in the entire world that he truly considered a friend? Why did he have to be such a nervous wreck in the first place? Why did he have to break down in a anxious fit every time someone touched him?

It wasn't long before Folly's thoughts that made him hate everything he was evolved into thoughts that made him paranoid about what would happen next. What would Trudly do? He had seen the way Trudly acted towards people in a fit of rage. In certain instances, Trudly would end up beating whoever is causing him to go into such a frenzy until they became unconscious, bleeding, and broken-boned. What if Trudly did the same to Folly?

No... He wouldn't do that... Trudly would never do that...


...Would he?

"Ya friggin' dumbass! What da hell's wrong with ya?!"

Folly was so engrossed with thoughts he hated to be absorbed in, his guard was let down. That meant that Trudly screaming at him furiously seemed to come out of nowhere and caused Folly to back up hastily. He expected to back into a group of people and be bumped around like a ball in a pinball machine, but instead kept going until he stumbled into the side of a building.

Trudly still had the same look on his face as he did earlier, not toned down in the least bit. He walked, or rather stomped, towards Folly with a fierce glare aimed right at his eyes. That made Folly extremely nervous and uneasy, even more than he already was. He countered by dropping his head swiftly, but knowing that Trudly's death glare wasn't about to let up didn't help.

He didn't dare to look up at Trudly, and even the slight sound of Trudly's boots tapping against the concrete rapidly made him flinch. But knowing that Trudly wouldn't let him stay silent for much longer, Folly was forced to mutter timidly with his voice shaking, "S...s... sorry... D... didn't.... didn't know dat was you..."

"Dammit Folly! Dat's why I tell ya not to lag behind so much! If ya jus' listened once in a while, **** like dis wouldn't happen!" Folly heard Trudly's yells start to become more of an angry hiss more than a enraged snarl. Even though he began to tone down his voice, it still made Folly's heart pound in his ears.

"Sorry..." Folly repeated himself almost incoherently as he stared straight into the concrete below him. He lifted his head enough to see Trudly, but not enough to see his eyes, hoping he'd accept his apology. He still could barely fathom that he, out of all people, struck Trudly. If he had known the person who grabbed his arm was him, the thought of even clenching his fists wouldn't have crossed his mind.

Trudly's delay with his response was much longer than it previously was. Puzzled, Folly raised his head a little more, but still very slowly. He saw Trudly's eyes begin to shift gradually away from Folly. Within a matter of seconds, Trudly was not only not looking at Folly, but he had his back at him.

Folly's first thoughts about that was asking himself whether Trudly was still mad at him or not. He wasn't screaming at a frequency that normally only Riolu would be able to pick up, nor was Folly able to see if his face was still about to crack and burst into flames from so much scowling. So honestly, Folly found it impossible to figure it out.

“I heard ya da first time,” was all Trudly said to break the silence. His attention seemed to be off Folly completely, as he saw Trudly swivel his head slowly, like he was watching each person scattered around them, “I think dat most of da crowd’s behind us. C’mon, we’re almost ‘ere.”

Trudly continued on his way, seemingly perfectly normal again. His steps were a bit heavy, but of course, Trudly wasn’t a quiet walker. But Folly didn’t dare to think for a millisecond that Trudly’s anger ebbed away. He didn’t say anything more about it and his vocal conniptions ceased, so how could Folly tell? The ignorance did nothing to assuage Folly’s fears, and still made sure to keep a bit of a distance between him and Trudly. Besides, Folly would hate to have the mindset that Trudly had calmed down only for his volatility to rear it’s ugly head again.

Being out of the crowd and able to see more than a bunch of tall people looming over him, the open space gave Folly a chance to observe his surroundings. The southern section of town was drastically less crowded than the northern section, due to the lack of abundant businesses. The only notable business in the area was the Parts Shop, a long, two-story building with what looked like a giant scooter rotating on a platform. Folly had heard that the selection inside was fascinating; there were supposedly more parts of various machinery then he could possibly imagine. But even though he also heard that it didn’t get as superb business as the owners claimed, there were bound to be lots of people, people he didn’t know, and that alone was enough to repel him. And besides, even if it was dead as a graveyard inside, Folly didn’t want to be met with that repetitive question coming out of Trudly: “What da hell are we gonna use ‘ose for?”

The Parts Shop was surrounded by a multitude of houses, most of them looking like they were former warehouses. They had similar structures as the larger warehouses nearby, such as being much broader than normal houses. There were few windows; the ones that were there were either placed relatively high up or looked like the owners had just altered the architecture to be able to put some in. But even though there were few windows, there seemed to be more doors leading inside than one would usually need, and they seemed a lot bigger than usual. The warehouse-residence hybrids had a noticeable lack of colorful paint and most of them still retained the dull, gray color that came with the concrete walls. The roofs on them used the same kind of ridged metal as the bigger warehouse, and even in the same silver color.

To the right of the shop was the only other reason anybody would come to the area other than to live in dingy shacks or buy spare parts. A small dock was placed at the end of a strip of concrete stretching out into the sea. Folly would’ve thought that more ships would be there than the few that was sporadically docked there, since it was less of a hassle to go back to the sea from there instead of from the city’s center. But as he thought about it more, he realized that the bay in the center was probably a safer place to lay anchor rather than on the edge of the ocean where frequent storms could tear it apart easier.

Trudly led Folly to an old warehouse in between the docks and the Parts Shop. It had to be at least three times the size of the smaller ones that people lived in, but was also falling into obvious disrepair. Most of the paint from the roof had peeled off and chips got scattered everywhere when the wind would gust at it. The majority of the windows near the roof were broken and shattered. The dented and scratched up door was barely holding on to its hinges and nearly broke off completely when Trudly and Folly opened it.

The inside was even worse. The only light came from the cracks in the boarded up windows, and the thin rays still didn't do the dark interior much justice. There was nearly nothing in there except musty, still air, save for the occasional crate and a Rattata scurrying to them. The floor was covered with a layer of dust that propelled into the air with every step Trudly and Folly took.

Folly's coughing from the clouds of dust entering his lungs echoed in the empty space, as well as his voice, "Don't look like a bar."

"I told ya already; it's underground!" The spacious room's ability to make sounds echo amplified Trudly's deep, heavy sigh. Folly flinched for a moment, since he expected Trudly to get angry again, judging by his annoyed retort.

Trudly scrutinized the room carefully, despite the limited light. Folly followed suit, assuming that he was looking for a entrance to the bar. In the midst of his examination, he shot a glance at a section of the floor that was illuminated by a ray of light. Folly limped over to it and bent down, spotting something suspicious. It was a footprint, one far too big to belong to either him or Trudly. Observing it closely, Folly found that the footprint was relatively fresh, since not much of a layer of dust had covered up the bare concrete made by the feet it belonged to. He guessed that it was made just that morning at the earliest. Folly looked behind and ahead of the footprint and saw a succession of them starting at the entrance of the warehouse and ending at a pile of crates stacked against the wall.

"Find somethin'?" Trudly asked behind Folly, jumping him for a moment. He continued to watch him even as Folly stood up and strode over to the crates, wanting a closer inspection.

Despite knowing that he was being stared at, Folly looked over each of the crates in the pyramid-like pile meticulously, although glimpsed at Trudly periodically. He knocked his fist against one of the crates and produced a hollow sound, meaning that there probably wasn't much of anything in them. But when Folly tried to pull the one on the top of the pile off, it wouldn't budge.

Just like he suspected.

"Trudly!" Folly called him over as he pressed his hands against the crates, "'Ese crates... they're all attached to each other! Bet 'ere's somethin' behind 'em. Help me push 'ese!"

Trudly strode over to Folly in silence. They both placed their hands against the crates and pushed at them in synchronization with each other. The crate pile grinding across the filthy floor caused another cloud of dust to fly up in their faces. Once they had gotten over their coughing fits, they frantically waved their arms to clear up the remaining dust. When the cloud faded away, Folly saw what he knew would be there: a winding tunnel leading underground.

Trudly was quiet for a moment longer, staring down the tunnel in front of him. Eventually and all of sudden, he began to laugh under his breath and crossed his arms, "Leave it to ya to find what we're lookin' for."

Folly smiled weakly at the rare words that came out of Trudly's mouth. During a time when Trudly would criticize him about every other thing, compliments were uncommon. Knowing that he didn't screw up on something for once also felt rewarding to Folly as well. And it certainly made Folly a lot more comfortable to know that Trudly was no longer in such a mood where it was hazardous to get near him.

Trudly squeezed through the small space between the crates and the wall and into the entrance first. Wondering how they were supposed to get out after they were done in the bar without trying to topple the pyramid over, Folly lagged behind and began to search it again. In the dim light from the lamps hanging above him, Folly found that the back of the pyramid was entirely metal. Bolted onto it was a handle that one could pull in order to make the disguised entrance slide open.

That tunnel was the exact opposite of the one that they used to get into Gateon Port in the first place. It was tall enough to stand up in, wide enough to provide elbow room, and fairly cool. Instead of jagged rocks lining it, the tunnel was surrounded by strips of ridged metal, much like the kind on the roof.

It was still somewhat long, however. The length must've caused Trudly to be bored out of his mind, since he started telling Folly more about where they were all of a sudden. It did catch Folly's interest, though. Trudly said that he heard that there were a bunch of similar places scattered across Orre. Apparently, they were originally used as secret meeting places for Cipher agents. When the distance between two members was too great and the situation called for them to meet in person, they would rendezvous at one of those points. Trudly told Folly that there were places like that in every city, even in peaceful towns like Agate Village.

The rendezvous points in Pyrite Town weren't as modest, however. Just about the entire population were criminals in some fashion, so such places were free to advertise themselves above ground. Folly knew that quite well. He and Trudly used to live in one.

Before long, the end of the tunnel, an old wooden door was in sight. Standing guard there was a thin man looking like he was around Trudly's and Folly's age. He was wearing a style of clothing common in Orre, especially in places like Pyrite Town. The style was similar to what Trudly was wearing; both had baggy pants, a vest, and a hat that was hard to imagine what was supposed to be. But Trudly's vest was orange while the guard's was red. The guard's peculiar hat was brown instead of blue and the nubs were positioned on the sides of his head. He also wore a pair of sunglasses that resembled the ones Folly had, although his was a brighter shade of blue than the guard's.

Fashion didn't matter much to either Trudly or Folly. After all, they haven't changed a shred of what they wore for years. Trudly's hat was certainly laughable, even to Folly. But Trudly said that it was comfortable and he didn't care what people thought about it. Folly had also taken to following Trudly's philosophy about clothing. His blue tank top and his mud-stained jeans were worn-out, old, and not too pleasing to look at. But Folly could imagine that they would feel a lot better than some stuffy and hot clothes that others saw as fashionable.

It didn't take long for the guard to notice Trudly and Folly coming, and when he did, he backed right into the door. Folly heard him swear under his breath before hissing out loud, "What the hell do you want?"

"Jus' to find out somethin'," Trudly replied nonchalantly at first, but soon returned the hiss, "Get outta may way."

The guard didn't budge, however, even as Trudly proceeded further towards him. Trudly was forced to stop eventually, as he was soon practically in the guard's face. The guard gave him a stern glare while standing his ground firmly and holding his nose.

Trudly looked back at him, but not at his face. Rather, he seemed to be examining his clothing, "Y'know, dat's a pretty nice vest ya got 'ere."

Both Folly and the guard raised a single eyebrow simultaneously. Folly thought Trudly would've went into conniptions at the stubbornness of the guard. But instead he was going off at an irrelevant tangent about fashion, something he didn't even like?

"I like it," Trudly laughed briefly before crossing his arms and smirking, "I mean, I really, really, like it."

The guard was silent for a few more moments. Folly's heart leapt in fear when the guard growled with clenched teeth under his breath. The guard calmed down, however, when he dragged himself out of Trudly's path. His fists were still balled up and muttered irately, "Go in."

The guard apparently figured out what Trudly meant by his statements, but Folly still didn't. Still confused, Folly followed Trudly inside, who was silently smirking with his hands stuffed in his pockets.

The faint sound of a television was the first thing that Folly noticed. He scanned his surroundings even more as he and Trudly advanced further into the tavern. The walls and ceiling were made of a rusty metal. If it wasn't for the darkness of the room and the atmosphere, Folly would've completely forgotten that he was underground. Against the wall in front of them were several glasses and a rainbow of bottles sitting on a series of shelves.

Much to Folly's surprise, there wasn't a whole lot of people there at the time. But of course, Gateon Port was no Pyrite Town. There may have been plenty of roughneck sailors in the city, but there certainly wasn't an overabundance of criminals. The only people that was there besides Folly and Trudly was the bartender ahead, and a single man sitting alone at one of the several round tables. As Folly and Trudly strode past the man, Folly saw him out of the corner of his eyes gaze at them and made Folly swiftly drop his head.



Master Procratinator
As they approached the bar, the bartender, a middle-aged man with light gray hair, finally took notice of them. At first, he merely took a glimpse at them, but quickly did a double-take. Just like the guard before him, Folly saw him wince, back up, and mutter a swear. The bartender's wide-eyed expression rapidly changed into a much more untroubled one before he spoke up, "Well I'll be damned. Been wondering how long it would take before you two showed your faces."

Folly could imagine that the bartender had been wondering how long it would take for anybody to show their faces around there. From the looks of it, he wasn't getting a whole lot of business, seeing as how he only had three customers there. And since the bar seemed just as filthy as the falling-apart building it was situated below, Folly couldn't picture himself going there frequently either. Since he was forced to live in a cave everyday, he had a fairly good view of what dirty was.

Trudly simply grunted in reply to the bartender. The bartender didn't seemed too fazed, though, and began talking again as Trudly and Folly pulled themselves up the creaky wooden bar stools, "I saw both of you limping over here. Get in a fight or something?"

"Yup." Trudly said dully and shortly. Folly found the way Trudly replied to the bartender rather strange. Even though Trudly wasn't the one to chatter incessantly, he was usually a lot more talkative than he was being.

His statement was a lie, though. Sure, Trudly woke the dead with his screaming at Folly on the way to the bar, but it was way too one-sided to be called a fight. And besides, the only fights he ever got into with Trudly were always vocal and never physical.

The bartender huffed curtly and stared at Trudly for a brief moment before turning his back on him. "So what can I get you?"

"We ain't thirsty." Trudly's reply was once again brusque. Folly first thought that his bad mood had begun to return. But then again, that was how Trudly treated nearly all of the general public, regardless of what he was feeling.

Trudly's answer was, of course, another complete lie. Folly couldn't say much about Trudly, but he was parched. His throat and mouth became more coarse and more sore with every breath of air he took. He could’ve had something to drink before they left the cave, but it just figured that Trudly dumped the last freshwater they had on his foot.

He set his elbows on the surface of the bar, held his head against his fist, and stared at the bottles full of colored wine. Folly had his eyes set particularly on the bottle with the pink wine, which he assumed was made from Mago berries. He remembered hearing that the people who harvest the Mago berries only choose the curviest ones to use for wine. Supposedly, the way the tip of the berry curves into itself was an indication of how sweet it was. And for Folly, the sweeter, the better.

Folly moaned at the fact that he probably wouldn't get his hands on one anytime soon. For one, a single bottle by itself was likely to be fairly expensive and Folly barely had any money on him. Being able to steal it wasn't even close to being an issue. Folly may have lost the speed he used to be known for when pulling off robberies, but he still had his stealth. He was completely confident that he could get up, take the bottle off the shelf, and sit back down before the bartended would notice he even got up in the first place.

The problem was Trudly. He had a strong hatred of things he deemed "useless", or anything they didn't need to survive. Wine was just one of those items on his mental list. Folly could picture him going into such a fit if he caught him with such a thing. Even worse for Folly's thirst was that Trudly became even more stern about that in particular as of late.

The bartender turned back around and looked at Trudly sharply, but then gave him a small chuckle, "Well if you didn't come here for a drink, what'd you come here for?"

"Y'know my boss? Y'know, tall, lanky, huge 'fro?" Trudly began to describe Miror B., his dull, short tone still not wavering.

"Miror B.?"

"Yeah. Y'know where he is?"

The bartender leaned himself against a nearby wall and sighed. As he spoke, his eyes were on the ceiling and his arms crossed, "The guy comes here frequently. Not enough to be an actual regular, though," He paused for a few seconds and began chuckling for a short while, "He says this place needs 'brightening up'. Actually, as a matter of fact, he was here a little earlier than noon today-"

"I don't give a Rattata's *** 'bout he was! I wanna know where he is! Y'know or not?!" Trudly's anger and impatience finally broke loose as he snarled through his teeth.

There was a long silence following the beginning of what could've been an outburst of anger from Trudly. The bartender scowled at Trudly through narrowed eyes. He groaned to himself and then copied Trudly's tone, "He said he was going to the lighthouse and then the Krabby Club a few hours after that."

Folly wasn't surprised much. The lighthouse that overlooked the sea was Miror B.'s favorite place in Gateon Port, if not all of Orre. The one thing Miror B. loved more than anything was dancing. There was plenty of space on top of the lighthouse, more than any stage Folly knew of. That made it a perfect place to practice his dancing in solace. Miror B. did love attention, but Folly remembered him saying years prior that there were times he just didn't feel like being watched.

Folly's attention shifted to the television that he heard on the way inside. It was a brand-new plasma screen television that was attached to the wall next to him. In such a dingy place like the bar, the television almost seemed out of place.

Trudly had also noticed the television and stared at it with Folly. While Folly was neutral about it, he saw that Trudly's eyes were narrowed and his eyebrows furrowed. He hated televisions as well, especially the extravagant sort like the one in front of them. In Trudly's opinion, they were, "A big ol' metal box dat people buy 'cause they're too lazy to 'perience life themselves, so they substitute dat for a fake one. Then they lose da ability to think on their own and 'stead only thinks what dat damn screen tells 'em to. Yeah, ya can get it for da news 'n stuff, but we all know dat people are jus' too damn impatient. They gotta have every bit of information at their whim when they want it. Arceus forbid they gotta wait 'til da newspaper comes out 'n forbid it even more dat they gotta read it!"

Folly thought about it, and realized that there wasn't a whole lot about society that Trudly did like.

Without another word, Trudly suddenly stood up and began to head towards the exit at a fast, angry pace. Folly was absorbed in the television screen and didn't notice right away that Trudly was leaving. It may have been just a flashy commercial that the screen was showing at the moment, but it still hooked Folly's attention all the same. It featured some billionaire in extravagant, gaudy clothing, and a giant of a mansion in the background. The billionaire bragged about how he made tons of money my entering the world of business. Then he pointed his index finger, illuminated by the gold rings that it was adorned with, straight at Folly. The billionaire said that Folly could too and then a row of numbers separated by an occasional dash flashed below him.

But before Folly could look at and memorize the rest of the numbers after "1-800", he noticed Trudly beginning to leave and hastily followed suit as fast as he could. It was a shame, really. In a way, Folly wished he could be more like the billionaire in the commercial. He didn't care if he got rich or not. Besides, Trudly would have at least three hemorrhages if even a percent of that idea got processed in his head. But he did wish that he could have enough money so he wouldn't have to worry at night when his next meal would come.

Of course, that was why he began saving his money over a year ago. It wasn't a whole lot, but it was something. Loose change was practically useless in most eyes, but Folly knew it would add up eventually. Then maybe he could buy him and Trudly a better life.

He realized that would take a considerable amount of time, however. But since he knew he was good at making things, Folly figured that he might be able to invent something useful. Something that people would want. Then he could sell that and make money off of it. He had plenty of material to use, since he had a pile of things he found interesting over the past year building up back in the cave. All he needed to do then was figure out how to put it all together.

Folly's daydream and train of thought was suddenly halted when he felt something hit his arm. It may have only tapped his arm lightly, but it was enough to set off his usual nervous response. His fists balled up again and his breath shook rapidly. The cold sweat also came back and filled Folly's head with thoughts of paranoia. But before Folly became blinded by anxiety and got the chance to swing his fist, Trudly swiftly stepped in front of him.

The last bit of self-control struggling to survive at that moment overcame the anxiety and halted Folly. Reminded of he accidentally punched Trudly and how guilty he felt after that, he unfurled his fists. Within seconds, Folly regained control of the rest of his body. His senses were no longer blurred and his breathing became regular again.

Once he got a hold of himself, Folly looked over the raging fireball that Trudly became. Trudly's own fists became clenched as well as his teeth. Though his teeth once again came a heavy breath filled with anger enough to make a Tauros jealous. His voice became elevated at a high volume as he snarled and spat, "What da hell's ya problem?! Ya lookin' for trouble?! 'Cause ya came to da right person!"

Folly peered at who Trudly was screaming at while staying a fair distance away from both of them. The same black-haired man that was sitting alone at a table was the target of Trudly's anger. But he didn't seem too bothered by him. He sat firmly in place without so much as a dirty look. The man took a swing of the yellow wine in front of him and emptied what was left of it in the glass. After he took a quick breath and set the glass back on the table, he calmly spoke up, "I was looking to get your attention."

"Well now ya got it!" Trudly barked sharply, even though his shouting didn't seem to be doing any damage.

The man, still unfazed by Trudly, withdrew one of his hands into his coat pocket. Trudly adjusted his position where he stood directly in Folly's point of view. Folly groaned shortly and moved himself so he could see better, but every attempt was annoyingly thwarted with Trudly continuously blocking him. Instead of seeing what was going on like he wanted, he could only hear the man say, "When you see your boss, hand him this."

Folly, fed up with not being able to see anything but Trudly's back, decided he was going to see what the man was talking about regardless of what Trudly wanted. But to his surprise, Trudly didn't object to it and stayed in one spot.

In Trudly's hand was a piece of paper folded up in a little square. Just as Trudly began to unfold it, the man stopped him with a sudden, sharp tone, "His eyes only."

Trudly's response was nothing more that a rude snort. He stopped trying to open the note, even though Folly was curious as well, and stuffed it in his pants pocket. He spun around and silently stormed off in the exit's direction. Folly followed behind him fast enough to keep him in sight, but slow enough to not be near him the next time he lets in anger loose.

* * *

Folly didn't hate Gateon Port as a whole. There were some qualities about it that was to his liking, such as being a mostly visibly appealing town and being a place that was slightly easier to live in compared to the rest of Orre. The latter was mostly thanks to the faulty security in the stores. Before he and Trudly arrived, crime wasn't too prevalent in Gateon Port. For that reason, it had no need for much of a police force.

But then again, Pyrite Town was in desperate need of a good police force, but it didn't have one either. Large amounts of people that were willing to uphold the "law" was practically unheard of. And most people that did work for the police were stationed in the prisons scattered around the desert, dealing with the criminals that have already been captured.

The only time that Folly had seen any of the police in Orre even attempt to capture somebody in the first place was while leaving an idiot of an officer named Johnson in the dust back in Pyrite. The police force mostly relied on bounty hunters to bring in wanted criminals. A lot of people made their living that way.

There was no way Folly could try to take that up, though. He once wanted to, but as usual, Trudly countered with an objection. Trudly said that if Folly tried bringing in a criminal to the police, they would lock up the criminal along with Folly and pay him zilch. For all Folly knew, he and Trudly were likely to have a bounty on them as well. He didn't know for how much, and hopefully, he never would have to find out.

Even though Folly didn't direct his hatred towards Gateon Port in general, there were characteristics he did take aim at. There were three main things in particular that irked him. One, there was just too many people. Orre's population wasn't very impressive, but Gateon Port had mind-numbingly large and uncomfortably dense crowds, as Folly would know.

Secondly, the rotating bridges annoyed Folly to no end. Since boats were constantly entering and leaving the bay, they couldn't have normal bridges connecting the mainland and the lighthouse directly in front of the bay. They could've put in a drawbridge, but instead they installed bridges that rotated when a panel was stomped and made Folly green with nausea. It did the same to Trudly, and he hated them just as much.

The third thing that Folly severely disliked about Gateon Port was the lighthouse. He didn't hate the way it was built. On the contrary, the tall lighthouse was a nearly perfectly rounded cylinder with no apparent errors that occurred in the building process. The strongest and toughest steel was chosen to form the thick rings that braced the stone body of the lighthouse. The architectural masterpiece was said to be practically impervious to fierce, crashing waves, since it had stood firmly through decades of hurricanes.

He didn't hate the methods of getting up it. Sure, there was an elevator that would probably make him sick as well. But that was why he used the staircase.

What he hated the lighthouse for was the stigma that got attached to it. Namely the memories that he'd give anything to forget.

After tottering off the rotating bridges, both Folly and Trudly had to pause before moving on. Folly's head ached and everything he saw began to spin around and around like a wheel. As Folly plopped himself on a nearby wooden crate, the humid air intensified his pounding headache. He bent over, asserting pressure on his upside-down stomach. No matter how many times he went on those bridges, his body would just never adjust to the dizziness that came from it.

Trudly was just as green in the face, if not more, as Folly. Just looking at him made a horrible, bitter taste jump into his mouth and his stomach turn even more. Trudly didn't bother sitting down, but instead leaned against a rusty oil barrel. He stayed in that one spot with his sunglasses removed and his hand over his eyes. Eventually, he slowly removed his hand, but still didn't move before staring off at seemingly nothing, blinking furiously.

Once Trudly appeared to get a hold of himself, he began to head towards the sliding doors that served as the entrance to the lighthouse. "Hey Folly. C'mon."

Folly dropped his head. He didn't want to go into that damned lighthouse knowing who was waiting for him. Even if Miror B. wasn't at the summit, Folly still go inside on free will easily. There was too much associated with the lighthouse. Too many horrible and vivid memories that brought him pain just thinking about them.

He severely doubted Trudly would waver from his decision that both of them had to go inside. But despite that, Folly blurted out words of stubbornness, although rather meekly, "Ya go 'head. Gonna stay out here."

Trudly slipped his hands over his eyes again, shaking his head and sighing, "Folly..." He then went back to what he was doing previously: hanging his head for a long period of time while keeping his eyes covered. "We already went through dis, Folly. Da boss is gonna be ticked as hell if both of us ain't 'ere."

Folly expected Trudly to say that. He still didn't have the motivation to get up, however. What could Trudly say that would convince him to go in there? Were there even any words in existence to make that possible? And besides, what did Trudly know? Did Trudly live through the memories that plagued Folly at every turn? No. He didn't. So how could he ever understand?

"Please Folly... don't make dis difficult. I told ya yer gonna be jus' fine. Jus' stay behind me and let me do da talkin'," Trudly softly, a tone that seemed unnatural coming out of his mouth, instructed Folly to do everything that came natural to him, "I promised ya dat I ain't gonna let anythin' happen to ya."

Common sense finally took a hold of Folly and forced him to get up. Trudly probably wasn't going to go in without him anyways, and would've stayed there until he had to drag Folly up the lighthouse.

And even if Trudly wasn't so strict and went up by himself, Folly wasn't sure he could handle being alone. It didn't matter whether he was inside or outside the lighthouse, just being around it made him tense and edgy. But when Trudly was nearby, things were a bit different. He didn't think about things that made him nervous as much. Thoughts such as the sheer drops that would take places from even the first set of windows and how hard the cold, gray concrete was below didn't come to him as often.

Even though he still didn't like it, Folly trudged over to the lighthouse and follow Trudly inside. The interior of the lighthouse was dark with the exception of the sunlight peering through the square windows. However, the shade didn't do much justice to cool Trudly and Folly down. With the stagnant air, darkness, cramped space, and hatred Folly had for it, the lighthouse was a miniature version of the tunnel they used to get to Gateon Port.

There was a small elevator that greeted both of them a short distance from the entrance, but they took the spiraling flight of stairs instead. Though the elevator could take them to the top quicker, and Trudly was so adamant about getting everything done and over with, neither of their stomachs could handle the ride up. Trudly and Folly didn't use things that lifted or rotated them as frequently as most people in Orre who were used to it to get around. They preferred old-fashioned walking as opposed to having their insides flopped around.

Having the option to stand in a metal cylinder and let that bring him to the top instead of dragging his bad leg along a bunch of stone steps began to sound rather appealing to Folly. But by the time the muscles in his leg began to pound pain through him and refuse to work anymore, it was too late to go back. Folly ended up falling back against the wall, needing rest whether Trudly liked it or not.

His back slammed against a section of the wall that was close to a large, wide window that was almost as tall as Folly. It had a firm screen of metal formed into a grid-like pattern over it, which never used to be there. But covered or not, Folly couldn’t stand being near that thing. With what energy in his injured leg he could draw from, he hurriedly scooted along the wall away from the window until he felt secure again.

However, his rash action came with a price. His leg couldn’t take anymore stress and failed on Folly completely, causing him to slide to the floor. The pain got to the point where a twitch felt like taking a hammer to it. Folly knew that Trudly just wanted to hurry up, but he couldn’t stand it anymore and had to stay still for a while.

But all Trudly did was ask if he was going to be alright. It became stranger every time Trudly did that. Being so set on doing something and then turn around and be okay with doing the opposite.

Even though it was a simple yes or no question, Folly didn’t know what to answer with. Yes, the painful stinging in his leg that he felt at that moment would stop eventually and would be alright for a short while. But no, he wouldn’t be alright in the long run because the pain would just keep coming back on and off until the leg either fell off or he dies altogether. To save thinking about it for any longer, he simply said, “Yes ’n no.” which earned him a strange, awkward look from Trudly.

After a minute or so passed by, Folly began to think about how sad and pathetic the situation was. He remembered years ago that he and Trudly used to have footraces up and down the lighthouse. There really wasn’t any reason to them other than bragging rights. Prior to the very first race they had, Trudly didn’t believe Folly when he said that he could run faster. And even after Folly proved Trudly wrong by a long shot, Trudly kept denying it and demanded rematches. Back then, they would tear up and down the lighthouse several times in a row. Now Folly couldn’t even get past the first flight of stairs without needing a break.


This is pathetic...

Folly knew for the longest time how weak he was. He couldn’t run fast anymore, moving too much hurt, and if things got really bad, he literally had to be carried just to make it through. What if Trudly wasn’t there? What if Trudly wasn’t around to lift Folly off his feet every time he tripped up? The answer was simple and one that Folly didn’t need to think much about. Without Trudly, Folly would be dead.

After so long of being forced to wallow in self-pity, Folly finally decided to do something about it. He was sick of depending on Trudly so much instead of trying to stand on his own two feet.

Well no more.

Folly lifted himself off the floor, allowing assistance from only his own hands and his uninjured leg. He pressed his hands against the cold wall to support himself as his good leg tried to lift him up by itself. Even though Folly tried to move the other one as little as possible as he slid up the wall, it instinctively lifted itself anyways. That only made things worse and hindered Folly’s progress. Despite the fact that the pain got progressively worse with every movement, that voice of willpower in his head convinced him to keep going.

Trudly didn’t react much when Folly stood up, but did when he tried to move away from the wall. His eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets and his tone was quick and loud, “Folly! Whattaya doin’?!”

Folly heard Trudly, but ignored him. It took nearly all of his concentration just to be able to walk. He couldn’t afford to be distracted, or else that would just lead to him crashing down to the ground.

Earlier that day, Folly remembered griping to himself about how he couldn’t ignore pain like Trudly could. And he still couldn’t. But instead of trying to pretend it wasn’t there, Folly pressed on with the mindset that he wouldn’t let the pain stop him. He still had two more floors to go through, and it wasn‘t even a straight path to the staircases. He had to maneuver around a bunch of walls and obstacles sitting in his path. When he reached the top and proved to Trudly that he wasn’t a weak person, then he could rest.

“Wha... Get back here! Ya haven’t even been restin’ for five minutes! Y... ya gonna hurt yourself!” Trudly’s volume increased with every syllable, causing his words to echo in the room.

It was next to impossible not to hear Trudly, but Folly took none of it in. He continued to lumber towards the staircase with a complete disregard of what Trudly was yelling. More and likely, Trudly’s loudness would’ve frightened him at any other time. But he was sick of that as well.

I’m done being weak. I’m done being scared.

The staircase couldn’t have been more than a few more feet away, but it took Folly a good few minutes to reach it. As he held his hands against the wall while inching closer, he beheld the monstrous, curving series of steps. It seemed monstrous at the time, however. In his condition, the staircase and the ones that followed it compared to a mountain range. And Folly knew that was a living hell in itself.

Just as Folly began his trek up the stairs, he heard Trudly bark at him again, who was evidently starting to get angry, “Are ya deaf?! Folly ya get back down here now!”

Folly slumped against the wall, the next staircase within a few steps reach. But he’d never make it up as long as Trudly’s screaming orders were stealing his concentration, and he need every shred of it, “Sh... shut up!”

Trudly suddenly grew silent.

He stared at Folly with his mouth open, but with no words coming out of it. It was a rare occurrence to be louder than Trudly, since his own ragged breath was the noisiest thing he could hear.

Being completely silent wasn't the only uncharacteristic thing he was doing. Usually when Folly glimpsed that Trudly's face, he could tell whether he was happy, angry, or sad. All he normally needed to look at was his mouth, since the other features, such as the eyes, said nothing about emotion to Folly. If Trudly was grinning, he was happy. Clenching his teeth meant he was angry, and frowns stood for sadness. It was usually just as straightforward as that. But when Trudly finally closed his gaping mouth, it became a straight line with no curves at all to it. Without any indication of what Folly could draw Trudly's emotions from, he was left clueless as to what he was feeling during that long, atypical silence.

Feeling like his short break had been long enough, Folly began to pull himself up the stairs. Being unable to lift his left leg up enough to walk up the steps like a normal person would, he ended up having to drag it limply behind him. Folly not only had to withstand the usual pain he felt in his leg, but also the pain that intensified the existing one every time his leg scraped against the stone steps. Creating cuts and bruises on unscathed skin made Folly cringe enough, but it made him cry out when it hit existing wounds.

Once he made it to the top of the staircase, Folly stopped for another rest. He wiped the sweat that was pouring off his forehead and gazed at the next staircase, which he knew would be a repeat of what he just went through. But even so, the determined thoughts in his head were very persuasive in their argument and convinced Folly to keep going.

Before he got up, he noticed that the area around him seemed... vacant. Paranoid and suddenly feeling lonesome, Folly swiveled his head frantically, searching for Trudly. He spotted him still standing at the foot of the stairs and haven’t budged an inch since Folly last faced him. Trudly was still utterly silent and his head was now lowered as opposed to looking at Folly directly. It struck Folly deep to see Trudly doing something he usually did; it was like Trudly became his own reflection. And when the silence finally broke, it shocked Folly even more to hear Trudly speak so quietly, “What’s wrong with ya, Folly?”

What’s wrong with me?,Folly wondered in his head amidst all the disbelief that Trudly was acting the way he was. He wanted to repeat himself out loud and ask Trudly to clarify, but he didn’t want to spend the precious energy doing so. What did Trudly mean by that? Did Trudly think that trying to overcome weakness meant there was something wrong? If so, when did trying to be strong become a bad thing? Didn’t Trudly want Folly to be strong? Folly thought he didn’t like weakness. So why was he complaining?

With those thoughts fresh in his head, Folly’s motivation began to fade. After all, Folly put himself through that much pain in order for Trudly to see him as something besides helpless. But after thinking about the possibility that Trudly didn’t want him to be strong, Folly felt that there wasn’t any other reason to keep going. Sure, boosting his ego did feel nice, but he knew that once he got to his destination, all that confidence would simply be shot down and wasted. And besides, he was putting up with such exhaustion to go somewhere he didn’t even want to go.

Folly thought about it more, and came to the conclusion that maybe he just wasn’t trying hard enough. He had only scaled one set of stairs on his own will, so it figured that Trudly wasn’t impressed just yet. But once he got through the last ones, Trudly would be.

Folly waited until Trudly finally walked up the stairs before he headed off again. The sound Folly began to hear was faint at first, but became clearer as Folly approached the next staircase. It was the distinct tempo of loud, upbeat, disco music. True to Miror B.’s fussy taste in music, there wasn’t a depressing note to be found in it. He made sure that every millisecond of the songs he listened to were put himself in a positive mood.

Miror B. seemed to always be apt on lightening people’s moods and never tried to darken them, but he still did anyway.

The music was a signal that Folly was getting close. The fact that Miror B. was up there didn’t motivate Folly’s subconscious to tell him to keep going, but the fast, repetitive beat did. However, the closer he got to the top, the more the music became distorted. He could tell it was playing, but he could no longer make out a single note.

His mind started to scramble itself and scattered his thoughts as well. Folly’s physical exhaustion became his mental exhaustion. Every movement he made was no longer dictated by a conscious decision. It was like Folly switched onto autopilot and simply sat back and watched what was doing. He just thoughtlessly plodded ahead in a hypnotized-fashion without asking why anymore.

In addition, Folly’s warped psyche began to perceive time as nonexistent. Within at flash it seemed, Folly was at the top of the lighthouse with barely any memory of how he made it the rest of the way up. All of a sudden, he was shakily standing out in the blinding, dazzling sunlight with music blaring in his ears.

It didn’t stay like that for long, however. Just as quickly as everything appeared to him, it disappeared. His vision went completely black and the music silenced as he collapsed to the ground with a thud.

Last edited:


Master Procratinator
* * *

He felt terrible.

The only feeling in his leg was severe, biting pain that gnawed at him. Nearly all of his energy was gone; he barely even felt like opening his eyes. All he felt like doing was falling asleep, but humid, sticky air was just plain uncomfortable to sleep in.

Folly’s sense of hearing was recovering, however. The music had stopped, but instead the wind whistled a soft, tuneless song for him. But above all, he heard a set of foggy voices within a short distance of him.


"Folly! Snap outta it, man!"

"I don't think he can hear us. Good Mew, he just passed out here just like that?!"

"Well, he was actin' kinda weird comin' up here. Seemed completely outta it."

"Ludi luuudi!? Cololo!"

Perhaps Folly was being a bit foolish back there. He knew trying to cover the lighthouse in one go might've been too much for him, but he shunned that voice of reason and instead listened to the inane one. Now he wished that he had gone up the lighthouse in small portions and not made himself so exhausted.

The one thing on his mind was sleep and he tried to achieve it despite the noise and thick air. But just as his consciousness began to slip once again, a light splash of water sprayed his face. His eyes abruptly forced themselves open and he began coughing furiously when some of the water found its way into his mouth. He lifted his head up gingerly once the coughing ceased in order to find out where on earth the water came from, only to have it spatter at him again.

Irritated, Folly wiped his face dry when the second assault of water stopped and glared at the culprit. The Pokemon in front of him was the exact opposite of the frustration in Folly at that moment. Energetic and cheerful, he smiled widely through his duck bill and gleefully looked at Folly back with his lively eyes. His yellow, husk-like down with thick brown stripes rustled as he swayed back and forth and spun around without an iota of negativity. The Ludicolo then skipped over to Folly and embraced him with his green, mitt-like hands.

Folly flinched when the Ludicolo suddenly hugged him, but that was only because the wide lily pad growing on his head hit Folly's. Having Pokemon touch him was a lot different that having people touch him. Sure, most Pokemon had the ability to kill him quicker than any human could, but Folly knew that Ludicolo personally and knew that he would never have the notion to hurt him. In other words, Folly thought that Pokemon were much more trustworthy than most humans.

Folly could hear other Ludicolo, about four of them, chanting in the same joyful manner across from him. But even though the other Ludicolo had a similar attitude as the one that was hugging Folly did at first glance, that one was different to Folly. Physically speaking, he was smaller than the rest, since he was a lot younger. But Folly knew the Ludicolo holding him, Luco, better than the others and vice-versa. After all, Luco was the only one out of all those Ludicolo that came up to him and made sure he was alright. Just knowing that somebody really cared about him made him a bit more at ease.

Folly's sight was obscured by Luco's down, so he could only hear the footsteps approaching him. He didn't worry about it though, since those footsteps were heavy instead of light and smooth, meaning that they belong to Trudly. "Hey. Ya okay?"

Luco moved out of the way, although reluctantly. Folly could now see Trudly standing directly in front of him looking down at Folly. After Folly mumbled an affirmative to him, Trudly bent down so he could look at Folly at eye height. "Good. 'Cause I need to tell ya somethin'. C'mere."

Curious, Folly leaned forward as far as he could without moving anything that hurt at that moment. Trudly, in turn, moved his head towards Folly's ear. He whispered, "Ya ready?" to Folly, who anxiously replied with a mutter, just wanting to hear what Trudly had to say. Folly listened closely when Trudly calmly and quietly opened his mouth and took a breath before telling him what was on his mind:


Folly flew himself backwards and slammed into the wall behind him when the thunderous blast of noise assaulted his eardrums. Even Luco jumped back in surprise. Deaf for a few moments, he couldn't even hear his own heavy heartbeat and rapid breath. Being screamed at from a distance Folly might have been able to get used to in time. But apparently, Trudly had caught on to his plans to ignore his rants and found a new way to get things across to Folly.

"Hey, now come on! There's no need to get so cross, now is there?"

Once Folly heard that voice, he wished he could've stayed deaf a little longer. To anybody else, that voice would've been smooth and joyful, an indication of someone of optimistic spirits. But to Folly, every word spoken through that voice sounded menacing.

When Trudly screamed at him, Folly could start to feel the beat of his own heart. Hearing that voice didn't make it calm down, but only heightened the intensity of the pounding sound. His breath was irregular again, and the fear muzzled him from uttering a single word. If Folly had any energy left to move away, he was blocked from using it, since he froze up completely.

Folly didn't want to be scared, but he just couldn't help it.

Since Trudly was in front of him and blocked most of his point of view, Folly hoped that he wouldn't have to look at Miror B.. But when he was as tall as he was, that was next to impossible. Miror B. was tall and lanky by himself without comparison. But the giant mass of hair made his height even more incredible in an almost inhuman way. The massive half-red, half-white afro bounced and wobbled on his head as he danced and walked at the same time.

Miror B.'s choice of clothing was unusually fashionable and extravagant, considering that he was the boss of two fashionless teenagers. He sported an dark purple open vest that matched his long pants. Around his neck was a silky and soft yellow scarf, which was one piece of clothing that was practically non-existent in Orre. His elevator shoes increased his height even more and were the only piece of clothing on Miror B. that had been scratched, due to his obsession with dancing.

When Folly saw Miror B. maneuver himself so Trudly wasn't blocking his view anymore, he instantly dropped his head and closed his eyes. He couldn't see Miror B.'s bright blue eyes behind his sparkly, silver sunglasses, so Folly didn't know if he was looking at him or not. But he didn't care. Folly didn't want to look at Miror B. and he didn't want Miror B. to look at him. He couldn't do too much about the latter, but could about the former.

Miror B. didn't say anything for a moment, but then suddenly and cheerfully burst out with, "So what are you boys doing here anyways? Didn't I say in my e-mail that we'd meet at the Krabby Club?" Miror B. was almost always like that. Trying to sound happy at every waking moment of his life.

"Yeah, well, we heard dat ya were here, and y'know..." Trudly muttered dully. Folly could imagine why. He couldn't see Trudly wanting to talk much to Miror B. either.

Miror B. began to laugh, but was only improving his own mood, not Folly's. He could laugh all he wanted to, but no smile would ever appear on Folly's face. "Ah, it's no big deal! Besides! I didn't expect to see you two for another few hours anyways!" Once Miror B. stopped laughing, his voice grew a small amount of seriousness as he asked, "So, do you got anything for me?"

"Well, actually..." Trudly grumbled as Folly heard him dig through the items in his pocket, causing them to rattle and clink together.

Folly could tell when Trudly pulled out the Krabby's Poke Ball, as Miror B. exclaimed, "You're serious?! You... you actually got a Pokemon for me?!"

"Yeah," Trudly sounded rather disbelieving himself. After all, neither he nor Folly had ever caught a wild Pokemon in their entire lives, "Caught it dis mornin'."

"Caught it, huh? So it's not going to strong right off the bat... But that's no problem! At least..." Miror B. first sounded as flamboyant and in good spirits as ever, but suddenly interrupted himself, "Wait... it's not a fire-type, is it?"

Miror B. always had something against fire-types, the one kind of Pokemon he couldn't stand. He had never said why and asking him to reveal his reasons would make him unusually glum. He'd just say "It doesn't matter." and never speak of it again. Of course, Folly remembered him saying once that he might make an exception for a fire-type if it could dance.

"Nah, it's a Krabby." Trudly corrected him bitterly, apparently still angry at the crab for attacking him that morning.

"A water-type! That just makes everything groovier!" Miror B. began laughing again, declaring his love for water Pokemon. Although, he had said several times that he preferred grass-types more, "Now this has just made my day! Here I was thinking that you wouldn't bring me anything as usual, but instead I get a sweet Pokemon like this! Now we're one step closer to-"

"'Catchin' all da Pokemon in da whole, wide, groovy world'," Trudly interrupted and finished Miror B.'s sentence for him, "We know."

Miror B. had always said that the sole objective of "Team Miror" was to own every last Pokemon out there, ever since an inkling of the idea formed in his head. Personally, Folly thought it was ridiculous. Catching every last Pokemon in the world? It sounded impossible to him. He thought Trudly would've agreed with him, but Folly has never heard him object to the nonsense idea even once.

Folly wished he could have a life that made more sense. But instead, his only meaning was apparently to work towards an impossible goal for someone that was out of his mind. He tried to convince Trudly to think rationally about Miror B.'s ideas, but he wouldn't listen. If had only listened... then neither of them would have to be living in the present with an invisible glimmer of hope for the future.

"By da way. Some guy told me to give ya dis." Trudly kept on going, even though Folly just wanted him to stop and let Miror B. leave.

Folly could tell that Trudly was handing Miror B. the note he was given in the bar, since Folly could hear the paper rustle as Miror B. opened it. There was a long silence, which was uncommon for Miror B. to be quiet for more than a minute or so. It made Folly curious, but he didn't want to open his eyes. So he decided he'd rather be left in the dark.

"Boss? What's it say?" Trudly, apparently, was inquisitive about it too.

"Huh? Oh... um... nothing." Miror B. stuttered quickly as Folly heard him fold the paper hurriedly back up, "Nothing you'd be interested in."

Actually, Folly was quite interested, but Miror B. obviously didn't know that. It wasn't like Miror B. understood anything about Folly in the first place.

Folly heard the rapidly approaching taps of Miror B.'s dance shoes and made sure he was absolutely motionless. His head stayed in his arms and refused to be encouraged from doing otherwise. The closer Miror B. got to him, the more frightened and locked up he got. Even if he wasn't exhausted at that moment, Folly was far too scared to even move away.

"Well, I'm off! I got a performance due at the Krabby Club, and hell, you know I don't want to miss that!" Miror B. announced loudly, which was even louder to Folly and caused him to flinch since he was right near him.

It was impossible to tell if Miror B. was walking away or dancing just by listening to his footsteps. Miror B.'s legs were quite restless and had to be moving all the time. As a result, his feet were constantly tapping in a rhythmic fashion.

The only clue Folly had about if Miror B. was leaving or not was the mechanical sound of the elevator doors sliding open. It was followed by a pitter-patter of synchronized footsteps all coming closer to Folly. Luco also skipped over to his kind, but not before squealing a "Luu di!" to Folly as a farewell. Eventually, Folly could no longer feel Luco's presence beside him.

He heard the elevator doors shut and after that, the air was silent. However, silence contradicted its own definition and possessed a voice. At that particular moment, there was only one word in its vocabulary: fear.

Without Miror B.'s contrived happy-go-lucky voice to overlap what the silence was preaching, there was nothing to stop Folly from realizing his other fears. His realization of the altitude turned into a gut-retching vertigo and forced him to keep his eyes shut. Folly's head then began to fill with vain wishes that he could go back on solid ground and be safe again.

"Hey. Ya can open yer eyes now. He's gone." Trudly suddenly broke the silence and thankfully, Folly's dark train of thought.

Folly, still knowing how high up he was, was reluctant to open his eyes. But things didn't seem so frightening when Trudly was around, and remembering that he was nearby eased his nervousness a little.

But even after Folly opened his eyes and Trudly sat down next to him, that train of thought started it’s engine back up and continued on its destination to melancholy. Folly reviewed the events of the day and sighed with each one. First, Trudly screamed at him for being too slow going to the cave. He hated how Trudly had to be such a prude just because he didn’t like to take time to look at the things around them like Folly did. Then he yelled at Folly when he tried to give Spitz a taste of her own medicine. She did start it, after all. Trudly took a vocal hammer to Folly both when he mistook Trudly for a threat and when he tried to overcome his physical weakness. All day it had been one conniption after another.

At first, Folly turned the angry focus of his thoughts to Trudly. But after a while, Folly finally took grasp of the fact that all those things were his own fault.

Trudly was well aware of Folly’s fears. Miror B., physical contact, crowds, heights, Rawst berries, among many other things. But Folly had one fear that he never had the guts to tell Trudly about. He still could barely bring up that kind of courage. However, he found it in himself to try to ask Trudly to either confirm or assuage his fear, “Trudly?”


For a split second, Folly held himself back. Maybe he was just being a bit overly paranoid. Why would he even thing such a thing in the first place? But he wanted to know if that worrying idea was true or not...

“Ya don’t like me anymore, do ya?”

Trudly swerved his head in Folly’s direction not even a second passing after Folly got done speaking in. That same disbelieving, wide-eyed, jaw-dropped expression from earlier returned on Trudly’s face. “Wha... What?!”

"Said dat ya don't-" Folly began to repeat himself, even though he didn't want to. He thought that such an idea was ridiculous, and Trudly probably thought so too. But did he have plausible reason to think that his friendship with Trudly had faded?

"I...I heard what ya said! Folly... Why would ya think dat?!" Trudly said loudly, but surprisingly, not angrily. Rather, he sounded more sad than anything. Was he upset over the thought of it too?

"Y... yer always yelling... at me. 'Cause ya... hate me... Right?" Folly stuttered and sniffed. Just thinking about how many times Trudly raised his voice at him and how that could lead to Folly being cold and alone for the rest of his life made tears well up. He didn't want to cry and give Trudly more reason not to be his friend anymore. But he couldn't control the rivers flooding down his cheeks incessantly.

Trudly turned his head away from Folly as soon as he started crying. He ran his hands through his long bangs slowly, stopping at his forehead. His hands stayed in that position for a while and held his head as he looked down to the floor. "I don't hate ya. I yell at ya 'cause... ya jus' get on my nerves sometimes."

"G...get on yer nerves an awful lot," Folly gasped as the tears began to choke him. He took a deep breath in hopes it would hold the crying back, but it didn't do much good, "'N ya said dat stupid people get on yer nerves..."

"Ya ain't stupid, Folly. Yer dense, but not stupid," Trudly laughed briefly, though Folly failed to find the humor in the situation, "Ya jus' don't got any common sense, dat's all."

Folly must've had common sense at some point. Because Trudly never used to get so angry like that at him before. Folly didn't want things to become unpleasant between him and Trudly anymore, so his first logical solution to the problem was to do things the way he used to before everything hit the fan. No more crying and no more being scared.

If he could forget everything that happened in the time span since then, it just might've been possible.

Folly didn't want to keep the subject going any longer, so he wiped the tears out his eyes and said, "Sorry". He was glad that he didn't have to fear about their friendship anymore, but he was still ashamed of himself that he was scared that it was going to end. Due to that, a few more tears rolled down his eyes even after he tried to dry them.

"Don't be. If anythin', I should be da one who's sorry," Trudly apologized himself, despite it being obvious that Folly was the cause of the issue, "I shouldn't be takin' everything out on ya Folly. Yeah, things have been frustratin' lately. But dat still ain't no 'scuse."

Folly didn't reply. He didn't want to have to remind himself that he was the reason that Trudly had been so irritated lately.

But he couldn't help but think. Even though he caused Trudly so much annoyance, he was still his friend? Folly wasn't complaining about that, but it was still puzzling.

Trudly had so much to offer as a friend. He always had the right thing to say, always stuck up for Folly, was brave, among countless other qualities. He was always there for Folly, even during the lowest, most painful parts of his life.

But all Folly did was be an annoyance.

Why did Trudly stay around him for so long? Everything bad that happened to Trudly was all his fault. But Trudly still stuck by him?

Maybe it was all true. Maybe Folly was being too down on himself. He didn't know. But what he did know at that moment was that Trudly was right there next to him, waiting for the sunset in the reddening sky. Folly was. He didn't know if Trudly was too. But that didn't matter. As the late afternoon sky gave way to the sparkling night sky, Folly realized that even though countless things in life made him wonder what the whole point was, there were things that made him see that there was a point. As long as Trudly was there, that point remained a prominent thought in Folly's head.

And he didn't want to lose that

Whaaat?! What is this?! Another chapter without Eldes in any way, shape, or form?! Blasphamy! D:

Originally, half of this chapter was going to be in Folly's POV, and the other half would've been in Miror B.'s. But since this was getting really long, I thought it would be better if they each had a whole chapter by themselves.

The Great Butler

Hush, keep it down
Heh, I really like this characterization of Folly and Trudly. Miror B.'s well-written too.

When will we see Eldes again? It's been so long I almost thought the guy in the bar was Greevil!


Master Procratinator
TGB: You worried me for a while, TGB. I thought my previous chapter drove you away or something. XD

When will we see Eldes again? It's been so long I almost thought the guy in the bar was Greevil!

XD Heheh. Trudly probably would've wound up with a bunch of broken ribs if that was Greevil that he talked back to. XD And besides, Greevil's still locked up.

The guy at the bar was the peon that Terran sent to go find Miror B.. He ain't wearing his Cipher uniform because I can imagine somebody dressed like that would make people very suspcious, even in a bar made for seasoned criminals.

But yeah, it has been a while since Eldes last appeared, hasn't it? That's a sin! I miss my Eldes too. D:

From what I have planned at the moment, Eldes will appear in Chapter Eight, but it won't be in his POV. ;)

great fic blueysicle.

you inspired me to write my own fanfic

never thought about Eldes being Michael's father but they both have red hair so it isn't unlogical

I also like the personality of Folly.
He's scared of people and the only person he trusts is Trudly and because of that he always wants to be close to him.
but when he loses him he panicks and attacks someone who was walking up to him.
And in the end that person turns out to be Trudly IMO that is ironic and a little bit deep.

could you put me on the PM list, please.

thanks in advance.
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Master Procratinator
Yeah yeah. I'm slow and lazy. You don't need to tell me... XD

So FINALLY here's Chapter Seven~ Be warned as the chapter contains violence and some language.

Chapter Seven: The Linoone, the Torkoal, and the Curved Road

"Red at night, sailors’ delight."

He remembered hearing that old proverb when he was a child. Being around an unfathomable amount of sailors nearly everyday made it hard to forget, too. But if it was true, then the next day would be perfect.

That worked out fabulous for Miror B.. Dark and stormy days were too depressing and was certainly not his style. He was no sailor by any means, but as long as sunny days were ahead, then he could take delight from that. The world was a stage, after all. And the script he read was a comedy, not a tradgedy.

The wing of the stage he practiced his flawless dancing on wasn't too suitable for him, though. The sand was so loose and not good for routines that normally involved sliding across the dance floor. Sure, the softness of the grainy earth below made it so falls wouldn't be so hard; but he never made that mistake anyways. Despite that, just the fact that he was dancing creating a wide grin on Miror B.s’ face, regardless of the stage.

Of course, dancing alone was no fun. That's why he made sure not a single fraction of a routine was performed without his own personal backup. The quintet of Ludicolo behind him were energetic and masterful dancers in their own right. They seemed like they were dancing in midair; their feet never remained on the ground for more than half a second. The sand below their feet spun in the air with their bodies and rustling down, creating minature dust devils. Their mitten hands were always stretched out away from them, constantly clapping. Sometimes as Miror B. glanced at them every now and then, he forgot whether he was mimicking their elegant steps or whether they were mimicking his.

The four adult Ludicolo, Lulu, Didi, Coco, and Lolo, were all perfectly synchonized with each other, both in their dancing and singing. The fifth and youngest one, Luco, wasn’t as much, however. By Ludicolo standards, he was still fairly young and still in the process of learning the ropes. But even for him, there was an unusual lag in comparison to the other Ludicolo.

“Luco, you’re off today!” Miror B. paused for an extrememly brief moment in order to make his comment, “Something isn’t bugging you, is there?”

Di luu!” Luco shook and quickly shouted a negative as he tried to keep up with the adults.

Miror B. wasn’t too sure initially. Ludicolo were jolly by instinct, and they always sounded as such. That way, it was nearly impossible to tell if a Ludicolo was lying or not. But Miror B. quickly decided to trust Lucos’ words with a smile. “Glad to hear!”

Miror B. soon found his physical energy was running a bit low. That was an extremely rare occurrence, but even he got tired after continuously dancing for hours on end. The moment Miror B. took a deep breath and ended his lengthy dance routine, his Ludicolo took the signal and plopped down to the sand.

It wasn’t that Miror B. disliked dancing for three straight hours without a break; on the contrary, it was a dream come true. But waiting on the same beach without a change of scenery, other than the pink sunset, for a boat that still had yet to show up did get a little boring. Before long, he had started to wish that he had chosen to perform at the Krabby Club like he originally planned.

But of course, the note he received from Trudly was quite intriguing. After instructing him to wait at Gateon Ports’ southern beach until a boat came to pick him up, the note made mention of “an offer he couldn’t refuse.” It didn’t go into specifics, but the mystery behind it made the whole situation even more exciting. He was a little leery of the footnote that told him to come alone. But as long as his Ludicolo were with him and the person he was meeting up with didn’t know that, things would turn out just fine.

While on the thought of his friends behind him, Miror B. was suddenly reminded of the new member of his “posse.” The arrival of the Krabby was unexpected, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. He grabbed the Krabbys’ Poke Ball, spinning it on his finger for a few seconds before pressing the button in the center. “Let’s check this little guy out!”

After the red energy burst out of the ball and shaped itself to form Miror B.s’ new Pokemon, the Krabby blinked curiously as it scuttled in a circle. In the midst of observing its surroundings, it laid its eyes on Miror B. and immediately shot a glare at him. The Krabby began to spit foam and click its claws furiously at Miror B. with a coarse hiss.

He didn’t take the little Krabbys’ threats too seriously, though, as he bent down near its eye level and grinned. “Well aren’t you a feisty one! I like that! I love having Pokemon that are just teeming with energy!”

Almost as if upset over the realization that Miror B. was its trainer, the Krabby lunged at his face with a greater amount of seriousness in the snaps of its pincers than before. Miror B. backed up and stood on his feet just at the right moment, causing the Krabby to miss with its assault. Miror B.s’ spirits still weren’t dampened by the Krabbys’ sense of hostility and instead of yelling, he ended up laughing, “You know, it isn’t going to do much good to snap those claws at me! I’m a whole lot bigger than you!” The Krabby still didn’t seem too amused, as its claws were still outstretched towards Miror B..

Miror B. took a long look at the frustrated Krabby with a long train of thought to match. “Hmm, you need a name... but I don’t know whether you’re a boy or girl!” He chuckled over the conundrum, knowing that male and female Krabby and Kingler didn’t have any physical differences between the genders that one could see at first. “And I assume you’re not going to let me check, huh?”

Despite the mystery over the Krabbys’ gender, Miror B. still began to brainstorm names while tapping his feet rhythmically. He wanted to keep the tradition of pulling a couple of letters out of the species name and repeating them, as he neglected to do so with Luco. But every name he tried to derive from “Krabby” either didn’t have any vowels or sounded extremely unappealing to Miror B.. However, it didn’t take long for him to come up with a name he liked once he moved on to “Kingler”. “Kiki! Awesome! You think so, too? Of course, I’m just going to assume you’re a girl, so-”

When Miror B. looked down to where his newly dubbed Krabby was standing just minutes before, he saw that the spot was suddenly vacant. Lifting his head quickly, he began to panic when he saw Kiki fleeing as if it meant her life towards the overlapping waves. “ACK! NO! WAIT WAIT WAIT!”

Miror B. frantically began to reach for Kikis’ Poke Ball before she reached the ocean. But before he could get the chance to return her to her Poke Ball, a sudden ray of ice shot centimeters away from Kiki. Kiki jumped back and nearly tumbled over, probably not only from the sudden glare of light that reflected off the Ice Beam, but from how close it came to hitting her. She stared at the ice crystals jutting out of the sparkling, frozen sand for a long time, and then slowly turned herself in the direction the attack came from. As if the Ice Beam connected, Kiki was frozen in place as she laid her widened eyes upon Lulu, who glared at her back. Just the look alone suddenly made Kiki submissive.

Giving a sigh of relief, Miror B. pointed Kikis’ Poke Ball at her and withdrew the Krabby. “Phew. That was a close one...,” Once Kiki was completely inside her Poke Ball, Miror B. turned to Lulu, “Thanks for that!”

Lulu took the compliment to heart and began to spin around on one foot merrily in response. As the oldest and first member of Miror B.s’ team, her sense of authority didn’t come to as much of a surprise to him. The rest of the Ludicolo, as well as the many other Pokemon Miror B. owned, undisputedly saw her as second-in-command. Soon enough, Miror B. knew Kiki would follow suit.

Lulu was basically everything Miror B. saw in the Ludicolo species rolled into one. Beautiful, cheerful, optimistic, cool-headed, and most of all, loyal. To Miror B., Ludicolo were a flawless kind of Pokemon and nobody could change his admiration for them. After all, if he could effectively defend his love for Ludicolo during several past arguments on whether they or a bunch of purple oysters were better, then what else could challenge him?

Miror B. took another sigh as he was absorbed in his thoughts. For a split second, instead of looking at the sunset sitting on the ocean’s horizon, he stared at the darkening sky above. The cloudless sections of the approaching night sky were pitch black with a few sporadic sparkles scattered around. Other than that, the light in the darkness was limited. The shine that the moon was giving off was becoming less and less every night until eventually, the sky would be completely black.

Miror B. quickly shook off that attitude and went back to looking at the sunset. He forced himself to smile as he refused himself sight of the night again.

Within seconds, he saw a speck in front of the sun, which was gradually getting larger and more detailed. Before long, Miror B. saw it was a white speedboat skidding across the waves towards him. Knowing exactly what it was, the ride he had been waiting for, he quickly unlatched his Ludicolos’ Poke Balls and withdrew them. “I won’t be too long, my posse!” After reassuring them before the Poke Balls sucked them back in, he attached them to his belt and made sure that his long vest hid them from view.

As the boat slowed down and docked along the edge of the beach, Miror B. could see the two people on it. He couldn’t see their faces clearly, but that was part of the reason he was shocked to see them. The helmets covering everything but their mouths, the full-body armor, and the ribbon-like scarf dangling in the wind, there was no doubt that they were Cipher peons.

Things became difficult for Miror B. to put together. He was fairly certain that Cipher had been disbanded for good a year ago. And it was all by that same arrogant brat that kept causing him so much trouble. Miror B. certainly would’ve thought that after such a pounding that kid gave to Cipher, as he heard, they would’ve stayed down instead of crawling back for more.

Of course, Miror B. also heard recently of a bit of a hoopla about one of the Admins still running free. The name didn’t strike him personally, so he really didn’t care. But if this was this Admins’ doing, Miror B. admired his persistence, though was critical of his stupidity.

Miror B. wasn’t too admiring of his fashion sense either. Though the black and blue colors did reflect the dark theme that Cipher always had, they were still too tacky and unappealing. Miror B. always thought that if a criminal organization is going to try to forcefully appoint itself as the world’s tyrannical authority, they could at least do it in style.

The peon that wasn’t at the wheel of the boat stood up, pointed at Miror B., and said, “Get on” in the most unfriendly manner. The snappy tone was enough to put Miror B. off and made him have second thoughts. After a short debate with himself, he grew to ignore it and did as the peon said.

As if already impatient with him, the peon ordered him to sit down the moment Miror B. stepped foot on the boat. He looked at the small, barely cushioned seats in front of him unenthusiastically, like poison spikes were jutting out of it. “Err... Sit down?”

“Yes. Sit down.” the peon, obviously not the patient type, ordered in an even firmer tone.

Miror B. was still reluctant and stared at the seat as the peon’s breath was getting more irate. Sitting down and being still, that was close to blasphemy in Miror B.s’ eyes. It was practically habit for him to be dancing at all times. And he couldn’t very well do that when sitting down.

“For the love of Mew... Will you just plant yourself?!” the peon suddenly became very persuasive in his argument. It was certainly enough to make Miror B. suddenly drop into the seat, almost missing it, and to earn a stare from the peon at the wheel.

Immediately did Miror B. start to feel the awkward effects of not dancing. His restless legs itched for rhythmic movements, and not getting to do so was addiction withdrawal for them. The urge to shoot up in his seat and break into dance was so strong that if the boat didn’t suddenly start up and dash across the waves, he probably would’ve succumbed to it.

The constant vibrations of the boat skidding across the ocean was a sufficient substitute as far as movement went. It was either that, or a calm trip to wherever he was heading, which Miror B. could imagine that would be quite boring.

Miror B. quickly grew curious of his destination, but was a little reluctant to ask. For one, he loved the anticipation and the thrill that came from it. When something was expected and predictable, it wasn’t nearly as fun like the feeling of being on the edge of his seat.

Secondly, Miror B. found with astonishing rapidity that the short-toned peon was his complete antithesis. Miror B. loved to see happiness and good spirits in people’s faces. Even more, he loved to be the cause of it. Emotions were quite contagious, and he drew satisfaction from knowing that his art, the art of movement, could instigate such positive energy.

The peon seemed just as adamant in doing the opposite. So far, Miror B. hadn’t seen a single iota of positive emotion in him. On the contrary, he seemed to be a stickler for negativity, happiness’ Grim Reaper. It was like at the very glance of positive emotions, the peon was compelled to slash it to shreds. And all it took to do that was a short, impatient comment. Bad moods were contagious too, and Miror B. didn’t want to be exposed to such a virus.

His sense of curiosity was powerful as well, and caused him to cave in. "So where are we going, anyway?" Miror B. immediately afterwards told himself firmly not to ask too many questions. That way, too much wouldn't be revealed and there would be less room to be influenced by the peons’ energy.

Bluntness reared its ugly head again, as the peon made it evident that talking wasn't his favorite activity, "Citadark Isle."

Miror B. practically jumped out of his seat, but the speed of the boat that resembled skipping a rock across a lake forced him back down. "Citadark Isle?! Isn't that the island that all the sailors in Gateon told people to avoid like the plague?"

"Yes, but the sea around it isn't dangerous anymore. All the computers and machines are broken, except for the elevators."

"Whoa... wait. You're saying that a machine made all those awful storms?!" Miror B. leaned forward, with a hint of disbelief in his eyes that began to sparkle like his glittery sunglasses. When the peon nodded his head, Miror B. couldn't help but shout out in amazement, "Awesome! That's so cool! And it's genius too! Looks like Cipher wasn't as stupid as I thought! Though... of course, that little brat managed to find his way there and kick the crap out of your former boss..."

The peon looked less than amused. On the contrary, Miror B. got the impression that he might've said too much, as he could feel the peons' stone-cold, insulted glare. "You're misinformed. That amateur pales in comparison to the former Grand Master. He won out of pure luck, not skill."

"Oh really?!" Miror B. was at first a bit skeptical of the peons' claim. But after Miror B. recognized the tone as bitterness rather than denial, another laugh burst out of his mouth, "Now that is some juicy info right there! To think that rotten child had told everyone that the entire battle was a fantastic landslide! Turns out he was just boosting his ego all along!"

Miror B. had quite a few encounters with Michael, whom he liked to refer to as "brat", or any other insult that came to his mind. Every single time Miror B. managed to steal one of those nifty Shadow Pokemon, that arrogant boy would always snag it away from him. No matter how hard he worked to get it, Michael would make all of his efforts worthless. Plus, he ended up being half the reason that Team Miror didn't get the great start he wanted it to.

Thinking about all the times Michael caused Miror B.s’ face to turn red gave him the urge to plot. Miror B. knew how much Michael was a pride-swelled teenager. But he began to imagine what would happen if the interesting tidbit he just received spread around. The hilarious thought of Michael being caught in his own lie and his confidence dwindling caused Miror B. to smirk, earning him an odd look from the peon. Ooh... Blackmail! Quite the dirty tactic, but effective nevertheless!

It took a while before Citadark Isle came into view, even at the speed the boat was going. It appeared as a jagged rock sitting on the horizon. The sharp-edged island was aglow with a fiery, yellowish aura around the volcanoes' crater and the orange rivers draining it. But it wasn't the deadly coastline nor the flames bursting out of the lava that caught Miror B.s’ eyes. Rather, it was the shining, silver globe sitting above the crater, reflecting the blazing light erupting below it. "Holy crap! That looks like... like..."

An irritated, annoyed sigh burst out of the peon's mouth, as if he was hinting at hidden desires to inflict bodily harm upon Miror B., "A disco ball?"

"Yes!" Miror B.s’ optimistically predictable nature caused the peon to hit it on the spot. "Damn! Not only have you guys gotten smarter after the first Shadow Incident, but you've gotten more fashionable too! I mean, look at that! That's pure artistic brillance right there!"

Miror B. looked back at the peon and still could not find an inkling of a smile on him. He lowered his arms that were outstretched towards the dome and gave a brief, frustrated groan. Did the peon have no sense of humor? Was he an actual human being or a machine spitting automated responses at him? Miror B. knew his vibrancy made him annoying at times, and he used that to his full advantage. Usually, even when people just wanted to shove knives down his throat for the sole purpose of shutting him up, Miror B. could almost always see the tiniest indication of a smile on their faces. He had been told several times that he was "so annoying, he's hilarious", even if that didn't make a whole lot of sense.

But apparently, he was just annoying to the peon. Miror B. never liked to think of anyone as "hopelessly pessimistic", since he thought there was always some way to get a smile out of someone. Though whatever technique was needed for the peon was well hidden.

Miror B. really didn't want to waste all of his optimism trying to figure out what it was, however. As the boat pulled up to the shore, Miror B.s’ eagerness took a hold of him once more, dominating his thoughts. He soon forgot about the dark clouds from above that were circling the peon like Murkrow over a dying Tauros. Why did he need to concern himself with such glumness when his excited heart pumped anticipation through him? The anticipation that filled him didn't give him nervous ideas of fear, but rather thrilled thoughts full of mystery that related to opening a pack of trading cards. If Cipher was anything like they used to be, then they could be quite an unpredictable bunch. And the lack of knowledge about what would happen was just what Miror B. loved.

"By the way," the peon suddenly interrupted the thrill that thinking about future events gave Miror B., "Everything that's about to happen is to remain confidential."

"And if I don't...?"

"I'll hunt you down and kill you."

Miror B. was taken aback by the peons' straightforwardness. He stared at him with wide eyes and slowly nodded his head understandingly. "Alriiight..."

He had every right to be nervous. After all, Miror B.s’ ability to keep secrets was practically non-existent. Despite that, he wasn't at all worried. What could a bunch of puny peons do to him? Miror B. had more Pokemon than could fit on his belt, and each of them, with the exception of Kiki, had the ability to bring a slow, agonizing defeat. They'd just be submitting themselves to drawn-out pain by going out of their way at a murder attempt.

The peon stopped off the boat on to the sandless shore, cueing Miror B. to follow. Miror B. expected the other one to get off as well, but instead he sat firmly in place.

Miror B. was relieved to be able to stand up. The moment he stepped foot off the boat, his legs filled with previously pent-up energy. He twirled around on the tips of his dance shoes and stopped abruptly. "Haha! It feels good to move again! I thought that boat trip would never end!"

Joy and jubilance spreading through him, Miror B. started his rhythmic footwork back up. As he advanced towards the elevator yards away, he hardly walked in a straight line. His movements were made up by a fast-paced dance routine. The rocky, volcanic earth was by no means a preferable smooth surface. But to Miror B., all solid ground was a dance platform.

He may have been forced to save his boundless energy during the boat trip, but ironically, he moved slower as he moved forward. Eventually, as he crossed the bridge over the lava river, he wasn't even dancing anymore. Instead, he dragged himself along, panting and sweating as his energy drained. "Phew... Damn, it's hot...," Miror B. lifted his head to the peon, who didn't seem too fazed by the heat. "Hey... You do have air conditioning here... right?"

It wasn't until the peon looked over his shoulder in an almost pitying manner did Miror B. catch his mistake. Suddenly remembering that the peon told him that the majority of the machines were broken, Miror B. felt compelled to smack himself on the forehead. But before he had the chance, the peon spat, "Suck it up."

Not only did the peon's bluntness amaze Miror B., but his rudeness caused his jaw to drop. He didn't care if he wasn't a Cipher Admin anymore; Miror B. hated to be talked to in such a manner. If the peon wasn't escorting him to someone that caught his interest, he would've been a puddle on the ground within three seconds...

...Or if the heat didn't drain his energy.

Miror B. always liked to think of himself as "on fire" during performances. But after feeling like he was literally, he decided that he wouldn't used that metaphor again. Living in Orre for over six years, Miror B. would've thought he'd be used to the heat. But the giant, searing desert compared to a glacier after crossing just that little lava brook.

Things didn't feel any better as they approached the epic hellhole that the crater on the summit was. It barely took half a second of being above the blazing lake before the energy to stand was being drained away. Miror B. slowly trudged along the bridge to the shiny silver dome, sweat pouring down his face. There wasn't much he could hear over the hissing and bubbling of the active volcano, and the dizzying heat and thick steam made it hard to see anything clearing.

But by dragging himself forward, Miror B. eventually found himself suddenly cooler. It wasn't as cool as he had mentally begged for while scaling the island, but it did relieve him. As his energy gradually began to return, he observed his surroundings with his revived senses.

He appeared to be in a huge control room. Directly across from where Miror B. stood seemed to be the main control panel, being large, crescent-shaped, and facing the giant plasma screen on the wall. There was a series of other computers situated in front of the control panel. But most of them were smashed and shattered, lying on the floor in an irreparable mess. Even from the distance away from the computers Miror B. was, he could still see the remains of the monitors filled with broken glass and snapped wires.

The stagnant layer of water covering most of the room made it feel even more like an abandoned ruin. Occasionally, Miror B. would hear the light sound of a drop of water plop into the puddles. Considering the inferno outside, it was a little hard for Miror B. to believe that any water could exist near the island other than the ocean itself.

The peon continued to lead Miror B. around the corner. As they approached what Miror B. assumed was the final elevator, the vitality began to reappear in Miror B.s’ steps. He found, by tapping his feet in the puddle of water, that he could create a much more audible form of music instead of trying the same thing on bare ground.

Eventually, he had to cease making a substitute for the loud, vibrant music he usually pumped into his ears. Still having the thought of the primary reason he was there, Miror B. rushed over to the elevator as the peon stepped in.

His heart raced as the realization that he was nearing his destination sank in. Of course, that just made time go slower. The forces of nature were weird in that sense. Whenever there was the anticipation that something bad was going to occur, Miror B. felt like a Linoone with no choice but to speed down a curved road. It may be running fast, but it still made an unfathomable amount of blunders along the way.

But then again, it was almost always the opposite for Miror B.. Therefore, the analogy of the Torkoal racing against the Buneary better suited him. Miror B. may have been a bit impatient at times, but if he knew that something good would come by clearing the racetrack at a steady pace, then he had no problem putting up with the anticipation.

Finally, the elevator, carrying odd, past feelings of nervousness with it, slid its doors open. A much colder air than what he felt previously swept at him. Miror B. knew from the rounded ceiling that he was at the top floor of the dome.

When Miror B. saw the exterior of the dome, he was amazed at its shining brilliance. Oddly enough, he became amazed at something else. It was as if the room with the dented, creaky floor and loose ceiling tiles created some kind of darkness. The air that filled his nostrils was not only strong and stagnant, but it also carried a disgusting odor. When he saw the bloodstained floor, he finally recognized the scent as carnage.

Miror B. realized that the sense of evil that came from the battle arena must've been born from a violent struggle. The now brown and dry blood of several different Pokemon was enough to make him think that alone. But he also noticed the several gashes in the floor, more gray and still puddles of water, and even the occasional tiny clusters of dark green spores.

Picking up the sense of foreboding, Miror B. quickly tried to neutralize it with the excitement he had just a few minutes prior.

In the entire battlefield that must've been the size of about a sixth of the whole island, there was but a single person waiting for him. He didn't seem like anybody of great importance at first. The man that appeared to be in his early-thirties had a light-brown mullet to match the black leather jacket and the denim pants he wore. But when put together with the pathetic, straight-faced facade to hide his painfully obvious stress, Miror B. saw his style as incredibly corny.

The first thing Miror B. expected the man to do was introduce himself in a "trying to look cool" method. Instead, he looked right past Miror B. to the peon behind him. His masquerade of cold, authoritative toughness disappeared as he asked the peon in a short, almost nervous manner, "What's your number?"

"Twenty-two, sir."

Miror B. heard the man swear quickly to himself before continuing in a slightly harsher tone, "Where the hell is seventeen? Because you are certainly not the peon I sent."

Despite his efforts to be intimidating, Twenty-two didn't seem very scared of him. "He was drunk."

The man swore again, looking like he was struggling to contain himself. "I'll deal with you later."

Twenty-two still stayed in a neutral emotion towards the man, as far as what Miror B. could tell. Apparently, the man wasn't too adept at striking fear into his subordinates.

At last, the man turned his attention to Miror B., who was finally starting to get impatient. The man looked Miror B. in the eyes, just barely, and smiled. But it wasn't a genuinely warm smile, it was more business-like than anything. "Sorry about that. Anyways, my name's Terran, and at the moment, I'm an Admin of the new Cipher."

"'At the moment'?" Miror B. blurted out an irresistible laugh. Miror B. first impressions of Terran weren't too impressive, considering his rudeness at the beginning. But now with his latest blunder, which he seemed to realize judging from his brief cringe, it was hard not to see Terran as a wreck.

Terran moaned and sighed before replying, his half-scowling face suggesting he, like his peon, didn't have much of a sense of humor, "Yes, 'At the moment'. You see, we're in a bit of a bind. That's why I've arranged to meet you here."

Miror B. raised an eyebrow, both curious and a little skeptical. He voiced his question at the matter without much hesitation, "And what on this lovely earth does Cipher have so much trouble with that they need my help?"

"Well, it goes like this," Terran began to explain with shakiness showing up in his voice, "I'm not too sure if you knew this during the time you were an Admin, but in order to create Shadow Pokemon, we inject them with the liquid form of a crystal found in certain mountain ranges. The problem doesn't involve that, though. On the contrary, another admin oversees the mining of this crystal, and he's just having a monumental success."

The last few sentences that Terran spoke before appearing to quickly gather his thoughts was even more proof that he wasn't any good at hiding his emotions. Miror B. sensed bitterness in him, perhaps stemming from the theory that Terran knew he was an inferior admin.

"But even though we have all this Shadow Energy, as we like to call it, we just don't have enough Pokemon to use it on-"

Miror B. suddenly spoke out, the anticipation finally becoming unbearable. Besides, he wasn't particularly interested in the mechanics of Shadow Pokemon and the fine details of Terrans’ issues. "And this applies to me how?"

"I was getting there," Terran spat sharply, becoming annoyed, "Though we don't dare to operate around Orre anymore, we still keep track of what goes on there. And I've heard quite a bit about your skill as a thief."

"So here's the deal. If you help us increase those numbers by gathering Pokemon for us to Shadowify, I have no doubt that the Grand Master will return you your adminship."

Miror B.s’ heart leapt at the words of Terrans’ proposition. My adminship?! Part of him was disbelieving, but another was completely hooked on the thought. To think that he could have everything he lost back; his power, his influence, his gaudy dance floor... how could he not be thrilled? He sorely missed it all after living as a near-penniless thief for the past few years. And now that it was all within his reach again just a few feet away, he yearned for it even more. He knew since the moment he received the note that the anticipation would bear fruit, but he didn't expect it in such a way.

"And of course, you'll have your choice of any Shadow Pokemon you help us produce." Terran continued his offer, evidently confident that he had just sealed the deal.

But on the contrary, it did just the opposite. "Shadow Pokemon? As in the singular form?"

Terran gave a short sigh, "Alright, two Shadow Pokemon."

Miror B. didn't show any signs of being impressed at Terrans’ negotiation.

"Then three!"

The silence still didn't break.

Terran stepped back a few paces, negatively amazed at Miror B.s’ suddenly unimpressionable attitude. He finally burst out, releasing the annoyance he kept pent up, "The hell... How many Shadow Pokemon do you want?!"

"Quite a few, actually." Miror B. answered, grinning even though he was awfully disappointed.

When Terran made the mention of the Shadow Pokemon, Miror B. suddenly remembered his ambitions that he had forgotten in the moment. The day Miror B. got word that Cipher had been disbanded six years ago, he made a vow to himself that he would start his own syndicate. "Team Miror" as he dubbed it, aimed to own every kind of Pokemon in the world, without Cipher's help. For the advancement of Team Miror, Miror B. was willing to let go of the part of his promise shunning Cipher.

But now that Terran had elaborated on the terms of the deal, Miror B. was having second thoughts about accepting it. Thinking about it during that silence, Miror B. began to wonder whether all that work for a measly few Pokemon would truly be worth it. After all, very little things made Miror B.s’ face red turn redder than deadweight that said they would forward his goals, but in truth, didn't.

Miror B. felt like doing some elaborating of his own, and voiced the purpose of Team Miror to Terran. Upon hearing it, Terran backed up even further until he was close to the center of the battle arena. "Are you out of your mind?! I know people that have worked their entire lives towards the same goal and never even came close!"

"Well I know that, silly! That's why I'm in the midst of forming Team Miror, see?" Miror B. laughed, completely ignoring Terrans’ crude remarks.

"You're still nuts." Terran shook his head, looking at Miror B. like he was the epitome of idiocy.

“Insane or not, I’ll have you know that I’m quite driven towards my future,” Miror B. leaned forward, cheerfully defiant of the lack of support Terran was giving him, “I understand that you Cipher babies have a shortage of Shadow Pokemon at the moment. But frankly, that’s the exact reason your ambition can’t coexist with mine!”

Terran crunched up his reddened face, clearly insulted by Miror B.s’ words. “It’s also the exact reason why I can’t let you leave this island.”

Miror B. spun around to see Twenty-two block the entrance to the elevator before he had a chance to escape. But he didn’t let that worry him and turned back to face Terran without an iota of anxiety. “Awfully determined to keep yourself from becoming an even more colossal screw-up, aren’t we?”

“I hate to say it, but you’ve nailed it. I can’t afford anymore failure, and neither can Cipher,” Terran snarled as his facade was deteriorating into an even finer dust by the second, “I did not invite you here to refuse my offer! I don’t give a flying crap about your idiotic goals, but I’m not about to let you have any choice but to assist me with mine!”

Miror B. knew Terran was just about at the peak of seriousness, but he still couldn’t help but not take him seriously. “Well isn’t this interesting!” Miror B. said under the concealment of a snicker. He lifted his head up to find Terrans’ face about to explode, yet still smiled at it. “I know you won’t, but I do like my freedom very much, thank you.”

Without a seconds’ warning, Miror B. put that fast-motion skills he had disciplined his lanky body into handling to a more violent use. He suddenly dropped himself to the floor, landing on his right hand. Before Twenty-Two had a fraction of a second to react, Miror B. spun himself using his hand as an axis and switching between his left at just the right moment. His legs were outstretched and hooked Twenty-two into the spinning trap. Terran didn’t have much time to respond either, as Miror B. released Twenty-two with just as much force as he caught him in the trap in the first place. Twenty-two was flung at Terran hard enough to send both of them a considerable distance away and to force a red cough to spurt out of Terrans’ mouth.

Once Miror B. slowed the spinning down a notch, he jumped back onto his feet. The dizziness factor didn’t amount to much; his body was used to routines of that sort.

Miror B. didn’t give it a thought to look back at Terran and Twenty-two. For all he was concerned, the free space in front of the elevator was the only thing that truly mattered. He sprinted inside and hurriedly pressed the down button. Miror B. wasn’t at all threatened by Terran or Twenty-two. But he didn’t feel like wasting his time with peons that were bound to show up if he went slowly.

Miror B. didn’t waste a moment after the elevator arrived in the control room to escape from the dome. Within seconds, Miror B. found himself dashing across the crater before it had the chance to drain his energy again.

His pace still ended up slowing down, however. But it wasn’t so much from the molten heat as the troubling thoughts that struck him. Initially, Miror B. had no issues with resorting to violence if the situation called for it. But no matter what the scenario or the methods used, he’d always be struck down with pangs of guilt and began hating himself for it soon after. He because immensely puzzled. If such actions brought self-loathing and the justification for it didn’t stay for long, why did he commit them in the first place?

No. No. I can’t think about that right now. I can’t think about it at all.

With the heat starting to take its effect, Miror B. couldn’t have arrived at the last elevator sooner. Once inside, Miror B. began to relax a little. As he was descending the long, glass tube, Miror B. figured that he had gotten enough of a head start to not be concerned about any member of Cipher. He took a deep, relaxing breath as he refocused his thoughts on that lovely boat he arrived on the island on.

The peon in the boat saw Miror B. dashing towards him the second the elevator dropped him off. This one seemed to be the only Cipher member in years to give Miror B. the honor of being perceived as a threat. The peon looked panicked, backing up to the point where one more inch backward would send him plunging into the water.

But before Miror B. could let the peon’s fears do the work of taking the boat for him, he felt something sharp slice his cheek. Miror B. put his hand on the cut as his eyes caught the green blur whiz by him into the ocean.

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