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The Bonds That Break (PG-13)

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
LadyMiir: Sorry for the late reply. Anyways, I'm really glad you like it! Thanks for your comment!

X-ice: Ahaha, you just reminded me that my PM-list even existed! I had completely forgotten about that! I got to get to that. Well, I'll add you regardless! Thanks!
 

X-ice654

Angry Dawn is Angry
LadyMiir: Sorry for the late reply. Anyways, I'm really glad you like it! Thanks for your comment!

X-ice: Ahaha, you just reminded me that my PM-list even existed! I had completely forgotten about that! I got to get to that. Well, I'll add you regardless! Thanks!

Your welcome. I look forward to more chapters.
 

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
Whaaaaaat?! What is this?! Is Bluey... actually trying to get back on schedule?!

Why yes. Yes she is. Well, granted, it still took two months to finish this chapter. But hey. An update is an update.


Anyways, Chapter Eleven, everyone!

Chapter Eleven: Trust

Eldes was truly starting to struggle to keep up his façade.

As he had done for the past six years, he attempted to keep his face and mannerisms from displaying any kind of emotions. He kept his hands tucked in his sleeves and placed behind his back. His expression was straight, striking down any subconscious attempt at change.


But now every little thing was threatening to shatter his wall completely.


There were just so many emotions rushing through him all at once. Eldes had never thought before that a mere building could stir so much in him. The Pokémon HQ Lab, the place where he was standing inside at that moment… He worked there. He lived there. Memories were bombarding him every second. He remembered the grand opening, which he declared to be the beginning of a new hope for his struggling region. He recalled several sleepless nights over research, all while Lily was fruitlessly trying to convince him to turn in. Eldes could still see and hear perfectly in his mind Jovi’s first steps and Michael saying, “Daddy” for the first time. There was his old office in the basement where the crayon pictures, depicting hairy suns sitting above a group of squiggly stick figures with joined hands and wide smiles, covered entire sections of the walls.


Every thought swimming in his head at the time all told him one thing, “You’re home.” But something in his mind was fighting that notion. Something was different, and whatever it was prevented him from truly listening to his thoughts.


Eldes scanned the area nearby. He held a degree of nervousness, unlike the kind that he usually felt. He faced Michael, who was still staring him down a few feet away. “I said earlier that I don’t have any ill intent.”


Michael, however, just scoffed at him. He wasn’t convinced. “Yeah? I’m just making sure it stays that way.”


Michaels’ voice was laced with confidence as he talked back to Eldes. He had every reason to be, as Eldes stood in the middle of Michaels’ entire Pokémon team circled around him. They all eyed Eldes carefully, ready to strike with an attack at any provocation. The Vaporeon was partially crouched down, baring her teeth and hissing. The Mawile had his back turned, but his horns were wide open, ready to lash out at any time. Sticking very close to the Mawile was the Sandslash mostly balled up, but Eldes could see her peeking at him very slightly. Both the Breloom and Electabuzz held their fists out at him, the Electabuzz in a rather haughty manner. The Lunatone, who seemed more focused than any of the others, gave a sharp, unwavering glare at Eldes with his bright, red eyes.


That had been the situation ever since Eldes stepped foot in the building. He hadn’t been keeping track of the time, but Eldes could see from the glimmer of impatience in some of the Pokémons’ eyes that it had been a while.


One of them in particular was starting to show signs of boredom. The Electabuzz, whose name was Zaprong if Eldes could remember correctly, began to lower his fists as well as his eyelids. His effort in making sure Eldes didn’t do anything Michael didn’t like was rapidly declining. Eventually, his impatience for something to happen reached the point where he gave out a snort, turned around, and smugly walked off.


Michael, who had been preoccupied with seeing that Eldes didn’t try to pull anything shady, almost didn’t notice his own Pokémon walking off. He glanced to his side when his peripheral vision caught Zaprongs’ movement, but he didn’t seem to register it in his head until Eldes saw him do a double take. “Hey! Zaprong! Where’re you going?!”


Zaprong, however, completely ignored his trainers’ yells, not even giving the slightest reaction, and continued walking until he was outside. Michael was about to go after him, but he seemed to think otherwise and stopped himself. He clenched both his teeth and his fists, all while giving out a low growl at his disobedient Pokémon.


Michael was growing visibly frustrated, to an even greater extent than he was before. He paced around a little, scuffing his feet at the floor as if he was desperately yearning for something to kick around. Eldes almost tried to say something to calm Michaels’ anger down, but his conscience stopped him before he could get the chance. He then reminded himself that anything he said to Michael with the view he held against him would only enrage him further.


Michael lifted his head back up and looked at his Pokémon that still remained. All of them, except the Lunatone, had taken their attention off of Eldes to watch the drama that Zaprong nearly caused. At that point, Eldes could see a trace of impatience in all of their eyes, like they were beginning to wonder if he would do anything at all. Michael had apparently noticed it as well. He held his hand against his forehead and gave out a half-groan, half-sigh. “Autumn, stay here. The rest of you can go.”


The rest of Michaels’ team were a bit reluctant at first, glancing at Eldes warily. After looking at each other for a while and coming to some kind of non-verbal agreement, they began to leave the area rather slowly as if they were still unsure about Eldes. The Breloom hopped off in his own direction while the Sandslash continued to stick close to the Mawile, following him by rolling along as he sauntered off.


However, the Lunatone was still frozen in place. Not doing so much as budging in response to Michaels’ command, he continued to stare at Eldes with the same focused look he had several minutes ago. It seemed that the Lunatones’ complete and undivided attention was on Eldes, and no outside force was about to break it. Eldes didn’t think much of the scowling at first, but after a while of watching those huge, ruby-red eyes locked on him, the situation became rather unnerving. Eldes had heard tales of grown men stricken with fear at a Lunatones’ eyes and now he was beginning to believe them.


Michael was beginning to show his unease at his Lunatones’ attitude as well, even though it wasn’t directed at him. From what Eldes could read from the look on Michaels’ face, he seemed to be a bit… worried. Eldes remembered facing the Lunatone in battle, but he didn’t pay much attention to his personality at the time. But it appeared that the behavior he was showing was unusual, and it was beginning to make Michael a bit anxious. “…Eklei? Hey. I said you can go now.”


But Eklei was still unresponsive. Michael waved his hands in Ekleis’ line of vision, but that didn’t seem to stir him either. Ekleis’ demeanor and expression remained completely static for what seemed to be a long time.


Then all of a sudden, his eyes widened and Eldes heard a short, telepathic, “Oh!”come from him. Eklei swiftly moved closer to Eldes to the point where he completely shattered any notion of personal space he had. “I REMEMBER YOU NOW!”


The sudden, obnoxious scream startled Eldes enough that he briefly lost his balance. The Lunatone lost all traces of the seriousness that he had just minutes prior and his eyes were instead glimmering with a naïve sort of cheerfulness. His voice followed suit, with the volume turned down enough to barely be qualified as an indoor voice, “You’re the guy that used to hang around Stumpy and Wrinkly! Why are you a cross-dresser?


The last part of Eklei’s sentence caught Eldes off guard. He simply stared at the Lunatone, not quite sure if he heard him correctly. “E…Excuse me?”


You know! Why do you wear that dress?”


Realizing that Eklei was being utterly serious, Eldes was at a complete loss for words. The… absurdity of what he was just asked made him unsure whether he should even be insulted or not. When he did manage to figure out some kind of response to the odd Lunatone, he stammered slightly as he tried to keep his composure, “T…This is a robe…”


Ekeli, however, just looked back at Eldes in the same cheery manner, but with a strong hint of sheer disbelief. He just gave a laugh, “Yeah, okay!”


Eldes glanced at Michael, who was holding his head in his hands and shaking it. His expression shifted from worry to pure annoyance, and clearly Eklei was the subject of it. He then tried to push the Lunatone away, with little success. “That’s enough Eklei…”


After Michael strained to get the floating, psychic rock to do so much as budge, he shot a glare at Eldes. Eldes flinched slightly, as it quickly became clear to him that short distraction didn’t make Michael forget about him.


A voice came from a room nearby calling Michaels’ name. Michael turned his head in response, but made sure to keep Eldes within sight. He then turned back and scowled at him as he growled, “Follow me. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”


Michael moved around Eklei and began to head into the room, with his peripheral vision set on Eldes behind him. Autumn took up the rear, picking up her trainers’ hostility towards Eldes, quickly following suit. She hissed at Eldes as she watched him, showing off her distrust of him as well.


Eldes was reluctant to follow Michael. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be around him; for the past six years, Eldes wanted nothing more than to be with his family again. But it was the way that Michael acted towards him made Eldes feel so uneasy. He understood why, and Eldes couldn’t find it in himself to blame Michael for his feelings towards him. Still, seeing Michael look at him with so much hatred and speak so disrespectfully towards him stung a little inside. Eldes knew better than to expect Michael to show the same love and admiration that he did so long ago now, but it hurt nevertheless.


The doors slid open and the two people and one Pokémon entered. Both the left and right sides of the room were lined with machines and computers with people managing them. In the middle of the room was a raised disc, large enough so that one person could stand in the middle. The disc was connected by wires to the machines, which Eldes had assumed was what the computers were controlling.


The moment Eldes stepped in, all noise in the room ceased. All heads in the room turned to look at Eldes; aside from that there wasn’t the slightest movement. The expressions on their faces were very familiar to Eldes by now: distrust. He saw that they were all extremely wary of him, and also appeared to be rather uncomfortable that they were sharing the same room.


The two people that seemed to be the most distrustful aside from Michael were Lily and Krane.


Again, Eldes struggled to hold back a cringe in response to the animosity emitting from two people so important to his life. Seeing his best friend have so much suspicion towards him that it was clearly visible even with his narrow eyes was painful enough. But what hurt even more was watching Lily give him just as harsh of a stare that Michael had been giving him all night.


Lily… Krane…
There was so much that Eldes wanted to say and ask. But he knew that none of it would do any good and it would do nothing to change anyone’s’ opinion of him. Still, there so much that he wondered. Never during the six years that he was locked away on Citadark Isle did Eldes’ love for Lily waver. Did she feel the same way towards him? If Eldes somehow brought up the courage to reveal himself towards her, would she still love him? How did she and Krane react to his “death”? How did they manage to cope? Did they try desperately to remember him completely, or did they push what shallow memories were left away? Would they ever forgive him?


Eventually, Lily put aside her hostility towards Eldes long enough to get down to the business that she wanted with Michael. “Michael… You told me before that you met somebody here in Orre that owned a Munchlax. Do you remember anything about it?”


“Uh… It belonged to this old lady that sold herbs in Gateon Port. The little crap ran away a lot to steal the food that I set out in Poké Spots.” Michael tried to remember any details he could.


“Were there any identifying features; such as gender?” Lily asked again.


“Oh. Err, I think I remember the lady calling it, “he”, once.”


Lily shook her head. “Well, if that’s true, then this isn’t the same Munchlax. This one’s female.”


Eldes briefly wondered what the reason was for Lilys’ question, but it didn’t take long for him to figure out why. Because Orre had very few wild Pokémon, if anybody wanted one, they had to have it imported from another region. The vast majority of imports came either from Hoenn or Kanto. Imports from the other regions, especially from Sinnoh and Isshu, were extremely rare. Therefore, it would not be too unusual for only one member of a Sinnoh-native species like Munchlax to be present in Orre. As such, Eldes thought that Lily must have figured that there was a high chance that the Munchlax came from somewhere other than Orre.


Michael, however, either didn’t see or didn’t listen to Lilys’ point. “Well then it’s a different one, then. There can’t be just one Munchlax in the region.”


Eldes glanced at Lily and Kranes’ faces. He could tell they were holding back something. It was as if they had realized that the probability that Cipher has come back and is making Shadow Pokémon again was high and they wanted to get that across to Michael. Something, however, was keeping them from doing so.


“Anyways…” Krane spoke up, a little eager to change the subject, “We have the Purification Chamber set up. It took a while, since we haven’t used it in so long, but it’s ready.”


Purification Chambe
r?! Those two words resonated in Eldes’ head. For years, that phrase only served as a painful reminder. It represented an abandoned dream and part of the reason he lost everything. But now, the context seemed to change the nature of those words.


His heart started beating loud enough that it blocked out any other noises. Something was coursing through him at that moment, something that he hasn’t felt in a long time. He began to feel eager as Michael made his way towards the disc in the middle of the room. He was trying to be subtle, but Eldes found that he couldn’t help but move his head constantly to follow both the people running the computers and Michael in the center.


He saw one of the operators pull a switch and at that moment Eldes saw what appeared to be multicolored musical notes swirl around Michael. At first, Eldes was stunned at their presence and wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but that quickly became trivial. The room suddenly turned dark, but was just as rapidly illuminated by an explosion of notes bursting out of the ground. They danced around in a rhythm as they floated towards the ceiling.


Next to Michael appeared a projection of what was on the computer screens. He seemed to be observing the hologram in front of them and then relaying instructions to the operators. In response, the holograms changed. Somehow, Michael and the operators were able to make a hologram of the Munchlax along with its shadow aura suspended above Michael. Furthermore, holograms of four other Pokémon appeared and began to circle around the Munchlax. In tandem with the dancing notes in the background, the four other Pokemon started to spin around the Munchlax, and with every beat, Eldes could see the dark aura weaken slightly.

Eldes could see Michael talking, and the other people in the room replying.

However, Eldes could hear none of it. It wasn’t the music that was playing to match the musical motif of the chamber that was overpowering all other sounds. Rather, it was the Purification Chamber as a whole.


Completely mesmerized, Eldes’ complete and undivided attention was on the machine doing its job before his very eyes. For a few moments, his shell collapsed and he stood there staring at the process with his jaw dropped. Just a few minutes prior, only two words were running through his head. Now, two different words were the only prominent thought in his mind.


It works…


* * *

“The Purification Chamber?”


Eldes nodded. The two people across the table from him stared at him with expressions of both interest and confusion. He was starting to think that perhaps he should have planned how to discuss the idea further, as the looks that Lily and Krane were giving him was starting to discourage him a little.


However, he quickly swallowed such sentiments. If he was going to be as adamant about this project as he resolved to be, he could not doubt himself. “It’s been a couple months since Ciphers’ main forces were defeated at Realgam Tower. And yet, a lot of the Shadow Pokémon still have not been purified yet.”


Eldes unfolded his hands, gesturing with them as he began to explain further. “I got to thinking. If Cipher –or anyone for that matter- were to make Shadow Pokémon again, purifying them at the current rate could cost a lot of precious time. Therefore, I was thinking about proposing a project. I want to try to create something that will purify the Pokémon at a much faster rate,” Eldes paused for a moment before continuing, “We’ve been keeping track of Cipher and Wes’ campaign for a couple of months now. But… I feel like we’ve just been sitting at the sidelines. I want to do something to help. We certainly have the potential and means to make a difference, but I just feel horrible that we’re not putting it into use.”


The room grew silent, as all three people sat around looking at each other. Lily stared at Eldes, as if she was waiting for him to elaborate even more, and Krane peered at him over his mug as he took a sip of the coffee inside. Once again, Eldes was beginning to doubt himself. Was the idea a little too farfetched?


Eldes sat up straight and waved his hands slightly as he broke the silence with a small stammer, “N… Now just keep in mind that I don’t have much fine details planned yet. It’s really just a theory at this moment…”


“Well…” Lily took a breath before finally giving her thoughts, “Then I suppose we’ll just have to work those details out.”


Eldes perked up at Lilys’ comment. “You… You want to go through with this?”


“It’s just like you said,” Krane spoke up as well with a smile on his face, “We have the ability to do something, but we haven’t. Personally, I think it’s a great idea.”


The reassuring from Lily and Krane boosted Eldes’ confidence over the matter. He grinned and gave a small laugh in response to the two of them, “I just hope that everyone else will be as willing as you.”


“Don’t worry about it. Just tell them what you told us and it’ll be fine,” Lily laughed back as she stood up. She walked over to where Eldes was sitting and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, “And don’t look so nervous. You should know by now that we’ll support any ideas you have.”


Eldes’ smile only grew wider and any hint of uneasiness faded. Eldes couldn’t put his current feelings into words at that moment, and instead let his own arm pulling Lily closer to him convey the message. He had forgotten it briefly in those few moments of nervousness, but Eldes always knew that he could rely on Lily and Krane to lend him their support. After all, if that was untrue, Eldes probably would not have gotten as far as he did in life. That degree of trust that they had in each other was something that he could always count on.


* * *

Eldes had experienced several moments in the past few years where his emotions began to fight their way through his shell and completely overwhelm him. That moment was starting to one be of them. He wanted to believe that this one was no different than the others he had in the past, but Eldes could feel that this one was considerably… powerful.


For countless nights lying on his back, staring at the ceiling and unable to sleep, Eldes thought about the Lab. He thought about Lily and Krane, and whether or not they would be able to pick things back up. Were they able to take charge and keep going? Or did they and the Lab completely crumble without him? His pessimistic nature fought defiantly to convince him of the latter. And for a long time, he believed it.


But at that moment, any doubts, any worries that his premonitions were right were utterly destroyed. He began to feel somewhat ashamed that his faith in the abilities of his wife and best friend was beginning to waver. What Lily said all those years ago, she truly did mean it. Even in his absence, they still supported his dream.


They may not have been able to remember his face, voice, or name, but the fact that they saw his wish to completion told Eldes that they never truly forgot about him.

Eldes blinked. He could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. He struggled hard to try to keep them from rolling down his face, but he knew that failure was likely. Eldes tilted his head down to hide those few streaks of tears that managed to make their way down his cheeks to the rest of the room.

Thank you…


Suddenly, the pulsing green waves and the dancing notes disappeared, as well as the holograms of the Pokémon. The room returned back to normal. It took Eldes a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the sudden light, but he also began to pick up the conversation going on again.


“Michael,” Eldes heard Krane speak up, “I know that you did quite the number on Cipher, and I’m not saying that you didn’t do a good job on it. But the fact that we have another Shadow Pokémon on our hands suggests that Cipher might not be as gone as we thought.”


Eldes saw Michael give a heavy sigh, as he was trying to hold his own emotions in. When he spoke, Eldes could catch some hints of annoyance breaking through,
“Cipher’s already been beaten to the ground twice. I’m sorry Professor, but I doubt that they’d be stupid enough to come back again, knowing that I’ll just do the same thing I did last time. Besides, just because one Shadow Pokémon popped up doesn’t mean anything. For all we know, it could just be a leftover from last year that was never put on that master list.”


Eldes was a bit shocked at Michaels’ retaliation at Krane. For somebody that hates Cipher so much, Eldes would have thought that the first thing on Michaels’ mind would be their return. He was baffled as to Michaels’ reasoning over the matter, but he eventually figured it out. He thinks that he defeated Cipher totally. He doesn’t want to believe that they’ve returned, since that would mean that he didn’t complete the job…


He felt a little like sighing himself. While Eldes could understand Michaels’ thought process, that didn’t mean that it didn’t worry him. Michaels’ arrogance was beginning to overpower sensible thought; Eldes had hoped that such traits wouldn’t surface in Michael.


The more Eldes thought about it, the less he could stand to stay silent. He hesitated at first, but then swallowed his pride and spoke up, “May I say something?”


Michael was quick to shoot a glare at Eldes for interrupting. Soon, the entire room followed suit. It lowered Eldes’ confidence for a moment, but he forced himself to stay strong and continue, “Neither me nor my father have any interest in reviving Cipher. My brother –however- is an entirely different matter,” he took a deep breath, “He is very… persistent. If Ardos has a goal in mind, he’ll take any measures necessary to achieve it, and he will not back down. Cipher is one of those goals. Ever since the day he joined, he has been fiercely loyal to the organization. I highly doubt he would give up on it so easily. That is why I am not particularly shocked at the emergence of this new Shadow Pokémon. I know Ardos very well, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he has at least attempted to revive Cipher and start making Shadow Pokémon again.”


“Furthermore, Ardos is a rather cautious person. He’ll do anything in his power to protect his goal, and will avoid anything that could cause issues. I don’t believe that he would try operating in Orre again after two failures, at least not initially. The Shadow Munchlax arriving here in Orre was probably an accident; I can’t imagine that if Cipher is indeed back, that they would try to hold operations here so soon.”


Once Eldes stopped talking, an unnerving silence hung around in the room. Everyone stared directly at Eldes. Some, like Michael, looked at him with considerable intensity. Michael was the first to say something in response, and it carried his usual biting venom, “I don’t trust you.”


Lily was next, and she herself also held an amount of harshness to her remark, “I don’t trust him either,” Eldes cringed at her comment. The looks that she gave him earlier hurt enough, but her stinging words only piled on the emotional pain. “However… I do believe that there is some degree of truth to what he’s saying.”


Krane nodded in agreement with Lily and stepped forward. He then turned slightly to address the rest of the room, “Even though we have a Shadow Pokémon in our possession, we still don’t have a lot to go on. For the time being, stay alert to anything that might give us more leads. However, there is a chance that this may indeed be a small incident, so don’t go around spreading panic. Regardless, we should remain vigilant and ready for anything that does happen.”


Krane and Lilys’ words not only soothed some of the stinging that Eldes had felt previously, but they gave him another boost of faith in them. It was just even more proof that they had taken charge and had handled the responsibilities of running the Lab very well in the past few years. Eldes was starting to feel that they were doing better than he ever could.


That, however, didn’t bother Eldes in the slightest.


* * *

It had been a while since Eldes, Michael and Autumn left the room with the Purification Chamber. Michael leaned against the wall, looking at the elevator down the hall, but making sure to glance at Eldes every now and then. He was waiting for someone, but Eldes wasn’t quite sure what. Regardless, Eldes was forced to wait as well. If he made even the slightest motion to move away, he knew the Vaporeon sitting next to Michael would react in milliseconds.


Eldes looked over at Michael, who –while staring that the elevator- had a rather pensive look on his face. He figured that Michael was thinking about what had been discussed earlier, that Cipher isn’t completely dead. Eldes wasn’t sure if what he, Lily, and Krane said to him had any sway, however; Michael also held a hint of ire in his expression as well.


Down the hall, Eldes heard the elevator doors open. He and Michael turned their heads to the noise and to the person coming out. The man was an older fellow, with white hair that stood up straight and an average length mustache. He had an air of authority to him; he wore what resembled a long, blue regimental jacket and was much more adorned than the usual officer. There was just an overall feeling of justice to Chief Sherles which never seemed to waver much.


Sherles seemed to be the one that Michael was waiting for, as he perked up slightly when he saw him. Michael walked away to meet him halfway down the hall and said, “So… anything yet?”


Sherles was about to answer Michael, but took notice of Eldes standing nearby. He didn’t seem to know what to think of the convicted criminal standing right in front of him when he should have been in prison. The chief simply stared at Eldes with wide eyes filled to the brim with pure confusion and unease.


“Yeah, I know.” Michael groaned exasperatedly, knowing exactly what Sherles was so bewildered over, “Anyways, did you find out anything?”


Sherles took a moment to answer, apparently trying to make some sort of sense of both Eldes’ presence and Michaels’ dismissive acknowledgement over the matter. “Y-Yes… Well, I have two of my officers upstairs. One of them’s interrogating Miror B., and the other is interrogating his two henchmen. I just got done speaking with both of them.”


“And…?”


Sherles took a deep breath and crossed his arms, “Miror B. is being extremely uncooperative. He flat out refuses to say anything about where and how he got the Shadow Pokémon. He has also made it quite clear that it’s not so much because he wants to hide the information and is scared of reprisal, but more out of sheer dislike for us.”


“His henchmen aren’t much better. One of them is talking, and he claims innocence over the matter. He says that he doesn’t know anything about where his boss got the Shadow Pokémon, or even that he owned it in the first place. Of course, it was pulling teeth just to get that much out of him. His statement was laced with profanity, so I wouldn’t say he was very cooperative.”


“What about the other one?” Michael asked.


“He hasn’t said a word. He’s not responding to any of my officers’ questions. We think that he might be hiding something, but we’re not sure.” Sherles answered back.


When it became clear to Michael that was all Sherles had to say, he let out a loud sigh and leaned back up against the wall. He tilted his head up and stared at the ceiling, “Then we’re right back where we started. Geez… We’re getting nowhere with this…”


Sherles noticed Michaels’ doubt over the situation as was quick to reassure him, “We’ll keep trying to get them to talk. We don’t know how long it’ll take; they might not even spill anything until after we take them back to Pyrite Town with us. Regardless, I’ll let you know if anything comes up.”


“Sure. I’ll tell Mom and the Professor too.” Michael groaned in response as he stood up straight and began to walk off.


Michael turned to face the lobby and the front doors when he stopped abruptly. Eldes, who trained himself at that point to follow him, faced the direction that Michael was looking at, and saw the lobby doors open for a man coming inside. Michael looked at him with uncertainty, not recognizing him. When he got close enough, however, Eldes immediately knew who he was and strengthened his shell in response.


The man stopped right in front of Eldes, with a huge, condescending grin on his face, “Well, well! When I heard that some criminals had been captured in this area, I had a feeling it had something to do with you!” The warden started to laugh, “I expected hear something about you soon, but I didn’t think it would take less than forty-eight hours!”


As usual, the warden was very quick to test Eldes’ patience. He held back a scowl, careful not to anger him, and instead kept his façade up. But Eldes had learned by that point that any encounter with the arrogant and belittling man that it was a fight to keep his emotions back.


“W-Wait a minute! Who are you?!” Michael, completely in the dark, spat out at the warden, not realizing who he was talking to.


“What are you doing here, Perro?” Sherles questioned him, with the displeased tone of voice that Eldes would have used if he wasn’t so adamant in hiding his emotions. Apparently, Eldes’ feelings towards the warden were not exclusive to him alone.


Perro?
Eldes thought, a bit surprised. Back in prison, he never went by anything other than, “warden”. Eldes never knew up until that point what his real name was.


Perro, completely ignoring Michael, turned to Sherles instead, “Oh, it’s you,” He said with an unenthusiastic tone, “I’m just checking on an inmate of mine. And what about you? What are you doing here all by your lonesome?”


“I’m apprehending the criminals here. And I have two officers here with me.” Sherles, while restraining himself from getting too annoyed, made it clear to Perro that his patience with him was thin.


“Ha! Two? Is that all?” Perro once again gave a short laugh, this time directed at Sherles.


Sherles, however, didn’t find it so funny. The frown on his face grew slightly bigger as he said with a small trace of a groan, “They were all I could get to come at such short notice.”


The humor quickly drained on Perros’ face. In its place appeared just as high of a level of impatience as Sherles had. “Ugh, I can see where this is going… It’s late at night; I’m not in much of a mood to hear another one of your complaints on how understaffed Pyrite Town is.”


Despite the restraint that Sherles had been using, he was clearly becoming angry over Perros’ comments. His last one especially seemed to strike a chord with Sherles. For as long as Eldes could remember, Sherles served as the chief of the police force in Pyrite Town. But there wasn’t truly much of a “force” in Pyrite to begin with. Eldes believe that the most at one time was less than a dozen officers serving in that area. With that knowledge, it was no wonder that crime was so rampant in that city to the point where it overtook any kind of law at all.


Pyrite Town was the prime example of how understaffed the police was, but it wasn’t the only one. All of the other towns in Orre had the same situation, even if it wasn’t extreme. As a matter of fact, most of the overall police force in Orre worked in the prisons, guarding the criminals that had already been caught.


“Also, what’s the deal with this inmate of yours?” Sherles said suddenly, breaking Eldes’ train of thought. He gave a quick glare at Eldes as he spoke. Eldes knew that Sherles wasn’t a bad person, but it still unnerved him a little.


Perro, however, wasn’t fazed in the slightest. “Oh, him. He’s just on an assignment I gave him. I made a deal with him that-”


“You let him go?!” Sherles interrupted Perro mid-sentence, all restraint shattering, “You’re telling me that you’re letting someone that isn’t supposed to be out of prison for another ten years walk around Orre completely free?!”


“Oh relax. He’s only off for a month.” Perro dismissed Sherles’ comment impatiently.


“One month is all that it takes! Someone like him doesn’t need a lot of time to chase chaos!” Sherles’ voice began to rise as he grew more and more fed up with Perros’ decision. His expression turned into a full-out scowl, not bothering to hide anything. It seemed like the last few things the warden said finally made the chief snap.


Eldes listened and watched the argument unfold, the two men talking about him like he wasn’t even there. Still, Eldes did have to agree with Sherles. Perros’ plan to have the Orre public off Eldes was too risky and extraneous, even in Eldes’ own mind. He himself had no intentions to cause the “chaos” that Sherles spoke of. But if it had been someone like Greevil in Eldes place like Perro originally wanted, one month would be ample time to truly cause a lot of damage.


Perro, however, was just as stubborn as Eldes had always known he was. It seemed like what Sherles had tried to get to him went in one ear and right out the other; Perro made it clear that he wasn’t going to listen to any of it. Instead, he simply ignored Sherles, with a scowl on his face, and turned back to Eldes.

“Anyways, about those criminals you brought in. Miror B. was a Cipher Admin back during the first Shadow Incident and his two henchmen served under him as peons at that time. However, they left Cipher years ago. And I remember very clearly telling you that I wanted somebody from Cipher that was a member when the second Shadow Incident occurred,” Perro gave out a chuckle and patted Eldes on the shoulder, much to his discomfort, “Sorry. Try again.”


Standing near both Eldes and Perro was Michael, swiveling his head at both of them. His expression suggested that he was completely lost over the matter. “Um, hi? Mind explaining what on earth is going on?!”


For the first time that night, Perro gave Michael some kind of form of acknowledgement. But even that was just a slight turn of his head in Michaels’ direction. After that, Perro continued to pay Michael no heed.


“So… Let me get this straight.” Michael began, trying to make sense of what he had heard. He pointed at Perro first, and then Eldes. “You’re saying that the bullcrap he was spouting earlier today was true?!”


Eldes was about to confirm what he had been trying to tell Michael earlier, but Perro quickly did the job instead, although not quite the way Eldes would have put it, “Ha! Bragging about your freedom already, are you?”


For once, Michael had nothing to say in response. He stood there utterly astounded and confused. Michael stared at the two men for a while, both shocked and unimpressed.


Perro began to turn around. “Well, seeing as how I pretty much found out everything I wanted to know, I’m done here. You can handle those three criminals on your own, Chief; they don’t interest me in the slightest.” Appearing completely bored with the current situation, Perro decided that he had enough and was starting to head for the exit.


Perro, however, didn’t get very far. All of a sudden the elevator doors opened up behind Eldes, letting out two police officers. Both wore the standard uniform, a blue jacket with a yellow ribbon tied around their neck, as well as a rather tall hat. The officers looked rather young and inexperienced to Eldes. They stumbled out frantically, as if they were in a state of alarm. The two anxiously and quickly surveyed the area before turning to Sherles. “Did you see them Chief?! Did they come through here?!”


“Did I see who? What’s going on?” Sherles asked, perplexed. He looked his two officers over, noticing what Eldes had noticed just a few seconds prior. One of the officers had a fresh black eye, while the other staggered somewhat while holding his side. “You two are injured; what happened?”


Continued...
 

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
Both of them grit their teeth at being reminded of their injuries. The one with the black eye was first to explain the situation through his clenched teeth, “The three criminals that we were interoggating escaped! We’ve looked all through the building! If they didn’t come through here, then they must’ve used the other exit!”

“What?! They escaped?! How?!” Anger was welling up again in Sherles at the officers’ news. After dealing with so much frustration from Perro, there wasn’t much more restraint that he had left to use.


The officer with the black eye spoke up again, “I was trying to get something out of that one henchman that wouldn’t talk. His partner starting yelling at me about how I better not touch him and that I would, ‘be in a world of hurt’ if I did.”


“So you touched him.”


“No! I mean, I got close to him, but I didn’t touch him in the slightest! His partner flipped out on me and punched me in the face! While I was down, they made a run for it!”


After the first officer was done, the second one gave his part of the story, all while trying to hide the pain in his voice, “I heard the commotion going on in the other room, so I went to go check what it was. When I had my back turned, Miror B. went and kicked me into the wall. When I came to, he was long gone.”


“Humph. Well isn’t that wonderful, Sherles? Your officers can’t handle so much as a small bunch of petty thieves.” Perro scoffed at the officers’ story. Eldes read in his voice that he found the situation somewhat humorous.


“That’s enough! You said you were going to leave, so just do so!” Sherles was already completely tired of Perros’ arrogance and disrespect, and his latest insult only incited him further.


It seemed like nothing Sherles said or the way he said it made Perro take him seriously. All in said in response in his usual condescending tone before walking away was, “Fine. Have fun.”


Once Perro had gone through the lobby doors, Sherles let out a sigh; he almost sounded relieved. He turned his attention back to the three escapees and addressed his two officers, “Both of you search the parameter of the building. If they’re still nearby, try to apprehend them again. If not, at least try to find out which direction they went in.”


The two officers saluted to Sherles and rushed out of the building immediately, although they were still careful not to irritate their injuries.


Once the officers made a dash for the door and left, Michael, who was still recovering from the shock he experience earlier, spoke up rather quietly, “Do… Do you want me to try to find them?”


Sherles took a deep breath and leaned up against the wall, as if he was considering Michaels’ proposal for the moment. However, Sherles eventually shook his head at Michael. “Thank you, but…” He paused for a moment to give another sigh, “Do you know the three that escaped?”


“Unfortunately.” Michael groaned.


“We’ve been having trouble with those three for a long time. In Miror B.s’ case, most of the issues we’ve had with him were back when he was an Admin on Cipher. For the past few years, he’s been laying low and surprisingly quiet in terms of criminal activity. Up until now, very few officers around the region have even seen him ever since he left Cipher. Though, I don’t believe for a second he’s kept his hands clean.”


“His two henchmen, Trudly and Folly, are a different story. They don’t make much of an effort to hide the fact that they’re causing trouble. Up until about sometime last year, they lived in Pyrite Town for around seven to eight years. We’ve been trying to catch them ever since then, but they’d always slip away. Once they’re out of your sight, you can pretty much give up on catching them. That’s why even though I sent those two men of mine out to look for them, I doubt they’ll find them. Truthfully, the only thing we can do is wait until they show their faces and then catch them when they do.”


Michael dipped his head down slightly, apparently just as uncomfortable with not being able to do anything as Sherles was.


All three of them stood there without saying anything for a while. It felt rather awkward for Eldes, standing between two people that were both agitated at the moment and incredibly distrustful of him. Eldes had not been inside of the Lab for six years and he truly didn’t want to leave. If it was up to him and the circumstances allowed it, he would stay there for as long as he could. But with apprehension and dislike being the popular opinion of him around the building, Eldes thought that staying in Lab for much longer couldn’t yield any positive results. “I… believe that I’ve overstayed my welcome…”


Michael looked fiercely at Eldes and growled, “You weren’t welcome to begin with.”


Eldes managed not to flinch at Michaels’ comment. He could only take his insults so many times and be affected by them. Instead, he bowed his head and started to back up. “I should be leaving. I’m sorry if I caused any trouble.”


Both Sherles and Michael stared at him intently as Eldes backed up. They clearly weren’t comfortable with letting him go. Michaels’ vicious stare and Sherles’ stern look gave Eldes the impression that they wanted to do something, but something was preventing them. Even Autumn, who had been guarding him the entire time, was remaining still. He wasn’t sure if what Perro said earlier had affected them or not, but it still made Eldes feel uneasy, regardless.


He knew that he was dealing with a double-edged sword. If Eldes stayed, the Lab would eventually grow even more wary of him than they already were. He was sure that no one, especially Michael, would feel comfortable with him being in the same building as them. But as Eldes walked towards the doors, he heightened his senses, expecting something to happen soon. While he couldn’t imagine Michael letting Eldes stay, he couldn’t see him letting him leave very easily either. Despite his nervousness that he was holding inside him at having his back turned, Eldes tried to move as calmly and non-threateningly as he possibly could. He didn’t want to invoke a reaction from Michael, but he also stayed on guard to be ready to react if he did anyways.


To his surprise, Eldes managed to make it to the door without incident. He still didn’t feel safe, however, and took a quick glance behind him. He saw Michael and Sherles standing in the same position they were in just a few seconds ago. Feeling less anxious, but still on guard, Eldes activated the sensors that allowed the doors to slide open and walked out.


It had grown quite dark since Eldes first arrived at the Lab. The sky was clear, with the stars and the moon shining up above without many clouds obscuring them. With the exception of the fountain in front of Eldes running, the night was quiet as well. There wasn’t much of a breeze to rattle the trees with, and the forest was normally quiet anyway. As Eldes walked down the brick path next to the Lab, the area was silent enough that he could hear his own footsteps.


Eldes made it down to the dirt path that he arrived on. There was the road straight ahead that was made for larger vehicles, but Eldes turned to the narrower path leading straight into the forest instead. He figured that he would have less of a chance of running into someone at that time of night on that path than if he went on the other one, where cars and trucks were more likely to pass by.


He started to head to the forest path, but suddenly froze in place. Eldes heard the distinct sound of shoes walking on bricks behind him just a moment ago and now Eldes had the strong sensation that someone was behind him. He turned his head and saw that he was right; Michael stood there behind Eldes with his arms crossed. He stared him down, not looking like he was about to pull anything violent, but he didn’t look like he was going to let Eldes leave as easily as he thought either.


Michael snorted, unimpressed and not in a good mood. When he spoke, his tone was not as brash and loud as it was earlier, but it was still filled with spite, “What that guy said back there, about everything you told me being true… To be honest, I really don’t give a crap.”


Michael paused for a moment. Eldes turned around completely to face Michael as he took a deep breath and continued, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I. Don’t. Trust you. That idiot might believe that you’re harmless, but I don’t. People like you don’t redeem themselves. You’re mistaken if you think I’m going to let you walk around scot-free, and then end up doing something disastrous. I’m not going to sit around and let that happen. And if I have to follow you around all month just to keep you from doing that, then I will.”


The thought of Michael following Eldes around for an entire month, watching him closely with his distrustful eyes, didn’t do anything to ease Eldes nerves at all. Eldes would have loved to spend time with Michael again, but this wasn’t exactly how he would have preferred to go about it.


“I suppose I don’t have any say over the matter…” Eldes sighed, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to convince Michael otherwise, “Very well. I’ve said that I don’t intend to cause any trouble, but you don’t seem to believe my words.”


“So you think that you’re going to convince me with actions, huh?” Michael laughed humorlessly, “The only reason you’re not going to cause trouble is because I’ll make sure you won’t.”


With that, Michael turned his back on Eldes and walked back into the Lab. Eldes was a bit surprised he would do that after just getting done talking about how he would keep an eye on him, but he knew better than to underestimate him. Eldes was certain that Michael had something planned.


Eldes went on his way into the forest, no less nervous than he was when he left the Lab.


* * *

Michael paced around in the small dining area in front of his room. Autumn was right at his heels, following him as he went back and forth. I don’t like this. I don’t like this…


A lot was still sinking its way through his head. He just couldn’t comprehend that what Eldes told him about being temporarily let out from prison was true. Michael was almost certain that was just a lie to attempt to make Michael feel less wary of him. However, even finding out it wasn’t a lie didn’t increase his trust in Eldes a bit.


Michael was starting to think that perhaps he shouldn’t have let him leave. Michael was more than willing to keep an eye on Eldes and keep him from repeating his crimes, but there wasn’t much he could do at night. How was he going to explain that to Lily? Was he going to go up to her and say, “Hey Mom, can I go and stalk a convicted criminal for thirty nights and days?” Truth be told, Michael feared his mothers’ wrath more than he did Eldes’.


Still, he didn’t feel good leaving Eldes alone all night. Knowing him, he would probably try to pull something while Michael had his back turned. Even if Michael caught up to him early in the morning, Eldes still had more than enough time to stir up trouble.


But how was he going to get around this? He needed some way to prevent Eldes from doing anything, but how?


Michael happened to glance into his room, where he saw that the speech he gave earlier that day was spoken to a brick wall, as Eklei was staring with great interest at Michaels’ computer. Instead of being angry as usual, a wide grin formed on Michaels’ face as an idea popped into his head. “Eklei!”


Still smiling, Michael ran into his room. Eklei didn’t take notice of him at first as he was completely fixated on what was on the screen. “Wow… When they say ‘no exceptions’, they really mean it!”


Trying his best to ignore what Eklei was looking at, Michael cheerfully walked up to Eklei and put his arm around him. “Eklei! Buddy! Pal! Friend! Let’s play a game!”

Without the slightest hesitation, Eklei spun around excitedly the moment Michael got done speaking. “A game?! I love games! What kind of game?

“It’s called, ‘Watch the guy I don’t trust and make sure he doesn’t do anything’!” Michael happily told him, making sure to keep his tone as cheery as possible.

I’ve never heard of that game before! How do you play?” Eklei was falling straight into Michaels’ plan as he eagerly went along.

“First, you have to find that red-haired guy we saw earlier today. He shouldn’t be too far away, so that probably won’t be too hard. Then, you have to watch him until I come by in the morning and make sure that he doesn’t do anything bad. If you do that, you win! But if he does do something bad, you can beat the ever-loving crap out of him!” Michael explained to Eklei what he wanted to do and desperately hoped that it would work.


However, Michael was starting to see a bit of doubt in Eklei. His rocky eyelid lowered as he said less enthusiastically, “Oh. Uh, are you sure this is a fun game? It doesn’t sound very fun…


Michael quickly tried to alleviate Ekleis’ potential boredom, waving his hands nervously as he did so. “Oh, it is! Trust me! It’s very fun!”


It didn’t seem to take a lot to convince Eklei of that, as he immediately took Michaels’ word for it. “Okay! I’ll do my best to win!” After saying that, Eklei swiftly floated out the room. Michael followed him briefly and watched him leave the Lab and speed off into the forest.


As Eklei disappeared from view, Michael heard a small whine come from Autumn below him. Michael patted her head to calm her down and said, “Don’t worry about him. Remember how much trouble he gave against Eldes when we fought him? He’ll be fine.”


Michael felt a little more relieved knowing that Eklei was taking care of things. Even though he acted like a pest half the time, Michael would not have put him on his team if he wasn’t reliable and strong.


He may have felt better for the moment, but Michael knew well that he was probably going to be anxious again come morning. Michael was certain that Eklei could handle it for the night, but he needed to take it off of his shoulders as soon as he could tomorrow. Michael just couldn’t feel completely comfortable unless he was taking care of such things directly.


* * *

Eldes rested his head on Dasns’ side. The Flygon curled his tail and neck around Eldes both affectionately and protectively. Ria also took it upon herself to rest on Eldes shoulder as she prepared to fall asleep as well. The initial excitement that they felt yesterday over seeing Eldes again still didn’t fade much. They seemed bound and determined not to let Eldes disappear from their lives again.


Eldes was far enough away from the road so that anyone happening to pass through wouldn’t notice him easily, but also close enough to not to get lost in the woods. He was a fair distance from the Lab and had gone as far as he could in a short amount of time. All the events that went on during the day had tired Eldes out.


He never thought that he would be so eager to leave the Lab. He had hoped in his dreams that his return would carry a more accepting atmosphere. Of course, those were just dreams, and Eldes was forced to accept that. He wanted to believe that the next time he went to the Lab things will be better. But in order to think of that while being realistic, there needed to be a certainty of a next time.


Then there was the matter of Michael. He said that he would make sure that Eldes didn’t attempt anything, even if he needed to watch him to do so. Michael has always been rather headstrong and motivated; he was the kind of person that would follow through on that promise. Even if the entire month passed and Eldes proved that he wasn’t out to cause trouble, he doubted that would change Michaels’ view of him. The best he could hope for was to grin and bear it and do his best not to cause any incidents.


So much running through his head… Eldes quickly realized that it would be another sleepless night. He tried not to think of all the stress, but he wasn’t sure how well that would work. Regardless, he closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would come soon enough.


Yay! I found you!


The sudden voice caused Eldes’ eyes to snap open. When he did, he was greeted with a pair of huge, glowing red eyes hovering above him. Eldes jolted and gave a short shout at the sight, which startled Dasn and Ria awake as well.


Dasn was calm enough to stand his ground and simply snort defensively at the pair of eyes, but Ria wasn’t as mild as him. She immediately readied her claws and was about to lunge at whatever jumped her, but Eldes quickly stopped her.


“Wait, Ria.” Eldes held his hand in front of the Ninjask and managed to calm her temporarily. He then turned back to the floating eyes, which still gave him a chill when looking at them in the dark. “You’re Eklei… Correct?”


Yup! And you’re the cross-dresser!” Eklei loudly declared. His voice echoed in the forest, enough so that Eldes became slightly nervous that anybody nearby would pick up on his location.


He ignored that sentiment and being called a cross-dresser for the moment, however. “What are you doing here?”


Me and Michael are playing a game,” Eklei replied, “To win, I have to watch you all night. Oh, and I’m going to have to beat you up if you do anything bad. Is that okay with you?


“Not really…” Eldes said, trying to hide the fact that Ekleis’ cheerful tone while saying that he might attack him bothered him somewhat, “We’re not going to do much of anything.”


Eldes’ last comment told both Dasn and Ria not to retaliate against Eklei, much to Rias’ displeasure. Besides, Eldes could remember that during his and Michaels’ battle, both Dasn and Ria were at a disadvantage against Eklei. It probably would not do much good to attack him anyways.


Luckily for Eldes, Eklei didn’t seem to be that eager to fight. Instead, he continued levitating in place as he happily said, “Okay! In that case, I’ll just watch you sleep now.


Eldes’ eyes widened at what Eklei had just said. “That disturbs me. Greatly.” He backed up a little closer to Dasn, and tried to remain collected as he could. “I wasn’t expecting to sleep much anyways…”


Alright then! We got more than eight hours to kill, so what to do you want to do?” Eklei asked. Eldes was about to suggest being quiet for the rest of the night, but Eklei quickly cut him off, “Ooh! I know! Let’s talk! I love talking!


“Uh, actually, I would rather prefer to-”


Speaking of talking, a lot of humans are usually surprised to hear me talk. I don’t see what the big deal is; humans do it all the time. You think that they wouldn’t be shocked to hear a Pokémon talk just like them, but they do. It’s not hard or anything. Lots of Lunatone do it too. I heard that other Pokemon can talk too. But most can’t. I don’t get that. Are they stupid or something? It’s a mystery. You know what else is a mystery? I heard that two really different Pokémon can breed with each other. Is that true? It seems really strange for something like a whale and a cat…


Eklei continued to branch off from there. Eldes tried to drown out the continuous noise, but there wasn’t much success. If Eldes already didn’t have enough going through his mind preventing him from sleeping, this cemented that he wasn’t going to be able to that night. He wanted to believe he would only have to deal with this for one night, but he soon realized that Michael would probably rely on his Pokémon to watch him in his place from that point on.


It was going to be a long month.




I apologize for not much happening in this chapter. It's also one of the shortest chapters I've written in a while. Well, it's short compared to the thirty-page behemoths that made up the last few chapters.

Like Roy, I didn't plan for the warden to have a name either. But then I got to thinking, and eventually decided to give him one.
 

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
I did not procrastinate on TBTB! It's not true! It's bullcrap! I did not procrastinate! I did naaaht. Oh hi, SPPF.

Yep, I seem to be getting back on track with my "One chapter per two months" routine! Well, not that it's very good in itself, but it's still a lot better than once per year I suppose.

Be warned as this chapter contains swearing and violence. That being said, here's Chapter Twelve!

Chapter Twelve: Fools' Gold

"C'mon! Keep runnin'!"

"I… I'm gettin' tired…"

"I know! Just push it for a little longer!"

The sound of leaves and pine needles crunching beneath their feet dominated everything that Folly was hearing for the past thirty minutes. He didn't know where he was anymore, but he wasn't sure Trudly did either. Ever since they left the Lab, the only destination was, "away".

Folly fully expected having to do this at some point during the night. Neither he nor Trudly were about to let themselves get thrown into jail that easily. However, he didn't quite expect what happened at the Lab to be their escape method.

Although he was sure that escape wasn't the first thing on Trudlys' mind when he punched that officer out. Not that Folly was complaining that Trudly was being protective as usual. Back at the Lab, the officer that was interrogating them had gotten far too close to Folly for his own comfort. Folly couldn't stand it when people got within arms reach of him and broke his sense of personal space. As close as that officer had gotten, any closer would have thrown Folly into a complete panic. And if Trudly hadn't punched him when he did, that was exactly would have happened. It did provide a way for the two to escape, but Folly was certain that wasn't Trudlys' intent.

He couldn't stop. Folly couldn't be the reason that they would get caught. Trudly had already slowed down considerably from his usual speed because of him; Folly couldn't slow him down even more.

But his leg… his left leg had been throbbing for the past few minutes. He was forcing it to move despite it feeling like someone was constantly pounding it with a hammer. Folly tried gritting his teeth and pushing forward, but he soon found out that he just wasn't that strong-willed.

The night was cool, but Follys' face was soaked with sweat. His breathing was heavy and ragged as he began to drag his leg behind him. He clamped his eyes shut and was finally forced to relent to the searing pain.

He released the shout that he had been holding in and stumbled over to the nearest tree. He slid down to the ground and propped himself against the trunk. "Tr…Trudly… I can't… I can't run anymore…"

When Folly managed to pry his eyes open, he saw Trudly walk towards him. Even though he was in such a hurry just a few minutes prior, he didn't seem angry or impatient. "It's alright. We got pretty far; ya did a good job."

The two of them remained silent as Folly rested. Trudly didn't sit down and instead opted to stay on his feet. He seemed to be scanning the forest, cautiously watching for any threats.

After quite some time had passed, Trudly moved from his position. He walked behind the tree that Folly was sitting at. Folly tried to see what Trudly was doing, but he couldn't turn his head far enough. Eventually Trudly came back within sight and knelt down next to him. He held in his hand a tall stick, reaching up to his shoulder. He spoke up, albeit quietly, "How are ya feelin'? Can ya move?"

Folly immediately caught what Trudly meant; he wanted to keep moving. He wasn't too thrilled about that prospect. His leg wasn't in pain as much as it was earlier, but it was still stinging and Folly didn't feel confident putting pressure on it.

But Folly thought about it. If he said no, what would happen? What if they got caught? It would be his entire fault. How could he live with that? He was already a big enough burden to Trudly and he didn't want to make it even worse.

With those thoughts in his mind, Folly just couldn't disappoint Trudly. He tried to force himself to have more resolve, and took a hold of the stick. He stood it up straight as he used it to pull himself up. His arms shook as his legs wobbled and struggled to get his footing. Once he managed to stand -albeit in an unsteady manner- he shifted the stick over to his left side. Folly slowly lifted his leg up and tried to use the stick as a temporary substitute.

It took a little while to get used to it, but Folly eventually adapted himself to walk with the stick. It was still rather uncomfortable, having to hobble around with his leg folded up; he didn't think he would be able to walk like that for too long.

"Take it slow, and if ya start to get tired, tell me." Trudly calmly told Folly as he himself began to get ready to move.

Folly tried to move along with Trudly, but still found himself unsteady and struggling to keep himself standing. As he quivered while trying to walk, he saw Trudly make a motion with his hand, like he was about to reach out to Folly. Folly was well aware that he was just trying to help, but he still couldn't help but tense up as his hand came closer. Trudly saw this, quickly withdrawing his arm the moment he noticed discomfort growing in Folly.

Folly heard a small sigh come from Trudly as he turned back into the direction they were originally heading in, "Try to look for somewhere we can hide for the night. I don't wanna be out in the open with a bunch of cops lookin' for us."

Folly's leg wasn't burning up like before, but it still stung enough to make him cringe every few minutes. Nevertheless, he tried to fight the pain back and mask it from showing up in his expressions. He managed to bring forth a weak smile and a raspy laugh, "I think you're givin' 'em too much credit…"

Trudly turned his head towards Folly, where he could see a smile forming on his face as well. It was weak like Follys', but still somewhat stronger and accompanied by a small chuckle, "Probably."

With that, Trudly began to press forward, with Folly trailing behind. Folly staggered for a bit, moving as fast as he could with a crutch, as well as to keep within his limits. Trudly took notice and eventually slowed down enough so that they were only a few inches short of standing side by side.
At such a slow pace, it became apparent that the level of urgency that the two of them felt had died down. Regardless, their senses were still heightened. They knew better than to let their guard down, especially when they knew that someone was likely looking for them. This wasn't the first time they had been in this kind of situation, and had developed a permanent sense of apprehension as a result. They watched every movement in the woods intently, and their heads swiveled at the slightest sound.

Folly kept his guard up just as much as Trudly, but he also diverted a small bit of his attention to anything that he could perceive as shelter. He kept an eye out for anything, whether it was a tree with low-hanging branches, an abandoned bridge, or even a bunch of large bushes. Folly constantly looked to both his left and right, searching for such a place to stay. At one point, he glanced through the trees and caught a glimpse of something. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but when he stared at it and took a harder look, he could almost make out the wooden side of a house.

"Trudly!" He whispered quiet enough not to alert anybody following them, but still loud enough to grab Trudlys' attention. Once Trudly turned around, he pointed his finger in the direction of the wall. Trudly stared at it for much longer than Folly did earlier, a little unsure. A bit apprehensive, Trudly walked past Folly and made a wide turn, giving the house plenty of distance. He slowly approached the house while remaining concealed by the trees. Trudly held up his hand slightly with his index finger sticking out and pulled it towards him repeatedly, motioning for Folly to come closer.

They ran from tree to tree, gradually getting closer without letting anybody that was possibly nearby see them. Eventually, they reached the last line of trees where the boundary of the clearing stood. Both of them peered from behind the trees they were using to hide behind. Folly got a better look at the house; he saw that the place had fallen into disrepair. The spots of grass that managed to grow among the several bare spots had grown waist-high, as if it hadn't been cut in a long time. Several shingles on the roof had fallen off, and a few planks on the walls were split and broken. The windows were cracked and had several gaps. The glass that still remained was dirty, making it futile to try to look through them. Every little detail about the house wasn't even trying to hide its vacancy; it was just so obvious to Folly that no one had lived there in a long time.

Still, Trudly was cautious about the whole thing. He held his palm to Folly, telling him to stay put for the moment. Folly watched Trudly inch up to the house, heading first towards one of the walls. He edged along the side and sneaked up to one of the windows. Trudly only revealed a small portion of his face as he peeked inside the building through one of the gaps in the glass. He moved from that spot after a while and then slowly approached the door. The door was already partially unhinged, so Trudly didn't have to put in much effort to be able to see inside.

After a while, Folly saw Trudly turn around to face him, not bothering with stealth anymore. "Ya can come over here, now! It's abandoned!"

Folly thought as much, but he was still glad to finally be able to let go of the anxiousness he had all night. Relieved at the promise of rest, he hobbled over to Trudly and the front door of the house. Trudly opened the door the rest of the way, nearly causing it to completely break off, and entered after Folly went through.

The inside wasn't much better than the exterior. It was a single-room house, but it was still absurdly small. Not a single piece of furniture or anything that suggested previous human habitation was present. The very first step that Folly took caused dust to fly up into the air and eventually in his face. Worse, his movements caused the floor to squeak loudly, as if it about to collapse at any given moment. The only thing the house was missing was an infestation of small Pokémon; which Folly had to admit, was one of the few pros of living in Orre. Regardless, there was nothing about the house that made Folly feel comfortable. For his own safety, he deeply hoped that this would be the first and only time they stayed there.

Trudly was apparently thinking the same thing, as he scanned the room with an unimpressed look on his face. They were used to dirty environments and abandoned buildings, but that didn't mean they had to like it. He huffed, not too pleased with what they were stuck with, "Looks like nobody's lived here for ages."

More dust shot up into Follys' face as he walked further. Sneezing several times as the dust irritated his nose, Folly moaned in response, "I guess…"

While Folly still wasn't too thrilled with the fact that the house felt like it was going to topple over at any moment, it was still a roof over their heads. He forced himself to ignore all of the massive shortcomings the house had and instead was glad that he could take it easy for a little while.

Finally being able to rest came as a great comfort to him. The moment he reached the middle of the room, he slowly lowered himself to the floor, threw aside the walking stick, and laid on the floor. The bare floor wasn't very relaxing, nor was the layers of dust directly making contact with his skin, but he was simply too exhausted to care. With all that had happened in the past few hours, it didn't take long for him to drift off at all.

* * *

It was dark.

There was nothing; nothing all around him. He couldn't see a thing. There was just an empty, endless void in front of him. Folly held his hands out, but they were completely invisible. He could feel them and he could feel the rest of his body, but the darkness swallowed up any visual evidence that he was even there. There seemed to be no choice, no other option. He was forced to wander aimlessly, not knowing where he was or where he was going.

The absence of sight allowed him to dwell on the things that weren't physical, mainly his emotions, which were dominated by fear. It was always there, but the blackness only amplified it. Darkness brought terror, and it also brought coldness. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to quell his shivering. He searched the blank horizon desperately for even the slightest bit of light.

Suddenly, he found that his hopes were granted, but in the oddest way. His entire body became illuminated. Folly held out his hands again and could see them in full detail this time. He looked himself over and saw that the rest of his body was fully visible again.

But he seemed to be the only thing he could see. He searched the surrounding area again, and still found nothing. Even the ground right at Follys' feet was black and featureless. Folly lifted his head and looked above; there was no light source or anything shining above him. He was just one visible feature with a black background.

It didn't put Folly at ease at the slightest. He took a deep, quivering breath, and continued to press forward. He still searched for something or somewhere he could see. But as the time passed with no results, his sense of hope was becoming invisible as well.

You're lost.

Folly froze. That voice… that voice echoed in the inky darkness and resonated in his head. He recognized it. He was already scared, but that sound took a hold of any ounce of fear in him that had adamantly refused to show itself, yanked it out, and then firmly placed it in his face. The trembling only intensified and his breath grew even shallower. His first instinct was to lock up all together, but the terror forcing its way through him caused him to switch his second instinct. He forced himself to move, against everything else in his mind and body trying otherwise. His quickened his pace, at the same time spinning around frantically and desperately trying to locate the source of the voice.

He couldn't find it.

You're lost.

But it was still there.

The voice hissed at him, it's dark tone whispering vile words about its intent. Hatred, anger, bloodlust… it was all present, and all of it caused Follys' instincts to scream in response, urging their holder to do one thing: escape.

Without another thought or inkling of hesitation, his fast walking transformed into a full-blown sprint. He ran blindly in the opposite direction of where he heard the voice. His mind locked onto that one command to run. He didn't look back and he didn't slow down; he just ran as fast as his body would allow before it would collapse altogether. He had to fight the fear, lest he wanted more to spawn from the darkness as a result of slowing down. He could never stop, no matter how tired he grew.

Nowhere to run.

He clamped his eyes shut. His legs began to move even faster.

Nowhere to hide.

Folly broke out into a cold sweat. His entire body shook at both the icy atmosphere and voice. His panting quickly transformed into desperate, terrified cries.

Suddenly and without any warning, he felt his entire body stop against his will. He tried to move, but it was of no use. He could feel something wrap around him, gripping him tightly. Folly felt the crushing presence throw all of his senses into a panic. His breath grew even more erratic, his sight became disoriented, and every pore of his body felt like it was being stabbed solely by the feel of the monstrous aura.

It was all so familiar. And that was what terrified him the most.

His mind, already in pieces from the dread he felt, shattered even further. He didn't care where he was, or how he got there. The strangeness and oddities of his surroundings was of no concern to him anymore. All that he could see and think about was pure fear. His actions became wild and uncontrollable, impervious to any sense of reason or thought. Folly screeched and flung his fists madly. He bit, kicked, punched, and did everything his instincts and body would allow him. "NO! NO! STOP!"

None of it did any good.

You're weak.

The presence gripped him even tighter as it lifted Folly up in the air. He flailed and struggled even more, not even thinking about how useless it was. He knew what was coming. He tried to do anything he could to stop it. But that small glimmer of conscious thought buried in his panic told him that there was nothing he could do.

The presence pulled back swiftly and then swung forward, letting go of Folly. He was hurled across the landscape before smashing into the ground. He could feel the force of the impact shoot through his body, cracking and destroying any bone it could find. As his insides took the blow as well, he felt a gob of blood make its way through his throat before forcing him to cough it out, causing it to splatter all over the ground. The burning, scathing pain was too much to bear; he couldn't move. He lay there motionless and limp. Part of him wanted to clench his fists, grit his teeth, and cry out to the black sky, all in an attempt to ease the pain. There was no physical ability to command his body, nor was there any will too.

Suddenly, amidst the searing pain, he felt something splash on him. It felt almost like… raindrops. It managed to pull him out of the dim, feeble state he was in somewhat. He gathered up what he could salvage of any strength he had left, and shakily stretched out his bruised hand. Holding it in place was a chore in itself, and once he managed to catch a drop, he pulled it back within his blurry eyesight.

The drop was red.

You're worthless.

Folly had no time to react. The presence, still invisible and indescribable, slammed into Folly, grinding him into the ground. The enormous pressure stomped onto him, causing another massive surge of pain. His already broken bones shattered even further, and his insides felt like they were close to rupturing. His entire body was on the brink of completely breaking. The blood welled up in his mouth again, this time at greater frequencies and amount. The moment the blood from his mouth hit the ground more drops fell from the sky.

He tried, desperately, to hold onto that bit of will that he found earlier. But it was nowhere near enough to do any good. It was hopeless. Nothing he could do meant anything. Everything he did was fruitless. That small part of him attempted to deny it even further, despite the rest of him knowing better. He opened up his reddened mouth again and pulled out every last ounce of strength he could muster. "STOP! STOP!"

Another impact came, along with another series of raindrops.

"HELP! SOMEBODY!"

No one is going to help you

The presence lifted Follys' broken and limp body again, and then threw him back against the ground.

because no one cares about you.

The impact came again.

"ENOUGH! PLEASE!"

And again.

"NO MORE! STOP!"

And again.

"STOP!"

It began to pour.

Why aren't you dead yet?

"I DON'T WANT TO DIE! HELP ME!"

Folly!

A voice… A voice, different and free of malice, suddenly pierced through the darkness. It reached Folly briefly, silencing his shouts. But it was only for a brief moment, as the voice was quickly drowned out by his shrieks.

"STOP IT! GO AWAY! PLEASE! EN-"

* * *

"-OUGH! NO! NO MORE! NO MORE!"

"Folly! Folly!"

Follys' eyes jolted open and his screaming stopped. He caught a brief glimpse of his surroundings, which was much different than the one he in was in just a few moments ago. He saw the splintered, creaky floors and walls of the house, and the moonlight peaking through the broken windows. For that slight moment, there was an air of calmness, with the only sound being his breath.

But then those previous images and senses flashed through his mind. He shut his eyes, yet he could see it all again; it was as if he actually there once more. The darkness, the rain, and the presence… He could see himself, limp and barely holding onto life, awaiting the next round and begging for mercy.

The silence was once again broken thoroughly with Follys' blood-curdling screams. His hands made their way to his shaking head, where his nails started to dig into his scalp. He feared pain so much, but at the same time he inflicted it on himself. Every image of what he just experienced was seared into his head, mocking him by throwing themselves right before his eyes. He just wanted to reach into the depths of his mind and tear those memories apart and make it all go away. His frantic efforts to forget caused him to thrash around, completely blind to what was around him. "PLEASE, NO! GO AWAY! STOP!"

"Folly! It's not real! Calm down!"

That voice… It reached him once again. This time, it pulled him back into reality enough for him to recognize the source. He grew quiet once more, and forced his eyes open. When his vision came into focus, he saw Trudly sitting in front of him. Folly realized it now; the voice he heard earlier was Trudly, using his own desperate cries to call Folly and snap him out of his bouts of insanity. Trudlys' voice was loud enough for Folly to hear him over his own manic screams. But there was that tone of patience and concern in his pleas that began to disintegrate Follys' panic from the core.

Folly's heart was still pounding and his breathing was still rapid, but his yelling ceased. He let out a few trembling groans as he tried to block those images from slipping back into his mind. As those images would try to push further at him, the urge to scream came back, but the encouragement and softness he heard earlier gave him the extra resolve to fight back.

"That's it… That's it… It's okay. It was just a bad dream. You're gonna be okay." Trudly calmly and gently whispered to Folly, persuading him to settle down.

Trudlys' mere words were having an astonishing effect on Follys' behavior. His heavy breathing eased and the thrashing stopped. Earlier his body was shivering from the chills that the darkness dealt him, but now he felt his body feel somewhat warm and less tense. He was starting to become more aware of what was around him, instead of being grounded in his nightmare. The images were still there, but they were pushed into the back of his mind instead of threatening to dominate his thoughts. Just a few minutes ago, Folly felt that he was hanging by a very thin thread. Now Trudly had taken that thread and pulled Folly back into reality.

He now realized that the nightmare he was experiencing wasn't real. But he couldn't help but reflect and dwell on it, which reminded him of things that were real. He tried to block much more vivid memories from appearing in his head, but his attempts to so caused his negative emotions over the matter to show themselves. Folly felt his eyelashes catch the teardrops beginning to well up as he blinked. He had used up what little will and strength he had just to ward off his nightmare, and there wasn't any left to prevent him from crying. After countless nights with the same exact situation, Folly didn't even try to stop himself anymore.

Folly pulled his legs in and buried his head in his arms as they sat on his knees. The tears fell freely, without any restraint whatsoever. He couldn't help it anymore; he couldn't help but cry nor become completely terrified even after the nightmare was over. Fears both rational and irrational were able to overcome him very easily. While in reality he knew that he was safe for the moment, his warped and horrified inner thoughts told him otherwise.

The sobbing went on for quite some time. He didn't know exactly for how long, but he knew that a while passed before he finally settled down. Folly had plenty of time to reflect on the matter that was for certain. He shoved the thoughts that frightened him away, and instead focused on his own actions. He knew he was weak. It didn't take much to scare him, crying was absurdly easy, and he was always burdening Trudly with his problems. He was so susceptible to nightmares where he woke up screaming in the middle of the night, that he couldn't even give an accurate estimate of how many he has had. He hated it. He hated being worthless, and he hated being scared. But Follys' attempts to change it never did any good; sometimes they would just make things worse.

Folly lifted his head up and glanced over to where he last saw Trudly. He was still there, although lying down this time. Folly could tell that he was awake, though. His body was straight and his arms crossed as he stared straight at the ceiling. When he was asleep, Trudlys' position was far less rigid.

Follys' lips trembled a little, unsure whether or not to open his mouth. It wasn't just because of his subconscious urge to stay silent, but also because he wasn't quite sure what to say. He swallowed those feelings however, and whispered, "Trudly?"

He saw Trudly stir a little, moving his head to look at Folly. "Mm?"

Folly didn't answer for a moment. He still didn't know how to convey to Trudly what he had just mused about, and ended up blurting out whatever words he happened to grasp onto. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry? For what?"

"I…" Folly stammered a little, "I woke you up."

Trudly gave out a short laugh. Folly wasn't sure if he found what he just said funny or if he was laughing at the absurdity of what he just said. Nevertheless, Folly could feel his face turn warm, and he was sure it was also becoming quite red.

"Don't apologize for stuff like that. It ain't your fault. Besides, I'd rather ya wake me up then sleep through somethin' like that." Trudly replied, somewhat easing the redness in Folly's face. "And Folly?"

Still mainly focused on his own embarrassment over saying something so ridiculous, Trudlys' question caught Folly off guard a little. "Y-Yeah?"

"Don't feel like ya can't talk about somethin'. It won't do ya any good to keep stuff like that all pent up. And ya know I'm always here to listen."

Trudlys' words sank in a little. Yet, Folly still remained silent. He knew that he could talk to Trudly. He always knew that. Folly could always take comfort in telling Trudly what was on his mind, and know that he was listening. It had always been the same vice-versa as well. But somehow, Folly just couldn't find it in himself to talk at that moment.

For a long time, Folly was completely unable to open his mouth around other people. He could only feel comfortable talking while alone with Trudly. But he still experienced a bit of distress talking about certain things, mainly the same subjects that haunted Folly in his nightmares. That was the case at that moment, as he felt the urge to seal his mouth shut regardless of what he was just told.

Folly felt something touch his side all of a sudden. He nearly jumped, but had been pulled back from falling into another panic when he heard the soft muttering beside him. Folly looked down, and saw one of his Whismur holding on to him, as if it was trying to hug him as much as it could with its stubby arms. His other one toddled over and quickly followed suit. Folly couldn't tell either Whis or Mur apart from each other, as the moonlight wasn't nearly enough to do so. However, as tightly as those two held on to him, it really didn't matter much.

Folly didn't remember letting them out of their Poké Balls; he must have been too exhausted when they arrived at the house to think of it. The only thing Folly could think of was that Trudly let them out afterwords.

Regardless, Folly figured that Whis and Mur had kept their distance as usual when Folly's nightmare was slipping into real life, and were just coming back to him. Both his own Pokémon and Trudlys' knew better than to get near Folly while he was in such a state, unless they wanted to get hit in a fit of panic.

He picked the two Whismur up and placed them at his chest, hugging the two fluffy Pokémon almost like he would a stuffed toy. The Whismur in turn responded by cuddling up to him, quickly falling asleep. It did feel somewhat comforting to Folly, and almost therapeutic in a way. For a while, he had begun to forget about the reason why he was sitting up wide awake in the first place.

Still, he found it hard to go back to sleep. He felt scared to, knowing that the nightmares were just waiting for their chance to strike again. He was still so tired and exhausted, and he found out before long that his body was going to force him to sleep whether his mind liked it or not.

Before he did, he took another glimpse at Trudly. His position wasn't so rigid anymore, meaning that at least he had been able to fall asleep. Despite what Trudly said, Folly still felt somewhat bad for waking him up in the middle of the night all the time. He had to have gotten tired of it by now, being jolted awake by Folly's sudden screams. It never took Trudly that long to respond to them; it was almost like he was expecting it.

But the whole thing was kind of strange. Folly had known Trudly for a long time. He had always used to be such a heavy sleeper.

* * *

One year ago…

If someone was to poll the citizens of Orre where their ideal place to live would be, chances are Pyrite Town would be the very last thing they would say. There were a lot of nicknames for that town; "The Scum of Orre", "The Largest Slum in the World", and a rather popular one, "Hell". People in the other towns and cities loved to gossip about every horrid aspect that place had to offer. Rumors such as the con men being the tamest people you could find and that the obituaries took up half of the newspaper were quite widespread. A lot of those rumors were true, as a matter of fact.

One thing was for certain, though. Trudly and Folly fit right in.

They had been in many cities and towns over the course of their lives. In each of them, they would rob any store they found useful blind. All of the attempts to catch them failed spectacularly, and they would quickly become the bane of the market district. When they had experienced far too many close calls, they would simply pack up and jump to the next city.

But with Pyrite Town, a couple of petty thieves were the least of its problems. Sure, they were still rather infamous, but with so much worse people roaming the streets, a lot of the focus was taken off of them. That was a large part of the reason why they had been able to live there for almost eight years straight.

That didn't mean Folly had to like it, however. He liked quiet and small places, towns that were calm and sleepy. Pyrite Town, of course, was the farthest thing from that. He didn't know what woke him up, whether it was distant gunshots or the colorful language being shouted from the Duel Square. Whatever it was, it broke Folly from his sleep, which wasn't hard to do.

His vision was out of focus as his eyes strained to open, still wanting to rest. He fought that notion, however, and quickly sat up. Folly rubbed his crusty eyes as he tried to get his eyesight to clear up. It slowly came into focus, and he found himself having barely enough light to see the dirty and stained stone walls in front of him.

"Uggh… What time is it?" Folly groaned to himself, still half-asleep. He didn't even realize at first that he had spoken out loud, but it didn't really matter. He looked beside him and found Trudly sprawled out on the floor with Spook curled up on his back, completely dead to the world. Trudly usually didn't wake up for anything; someone could scream in his ear and he would just snore in response.

Folly allowed himself a few minutes to try to wake himself up. It wasn't easy, as almost all of him wanted to sleep more. Still, he had a reason to get up early, so he forced his body to stay awake as much as he possibly could.

Once Folly was about as awake as he was ever going to be, he gently moved aside the two Whismur cuddled up next to him and tiptoed over to the nearest window. He parted the rags they had been using as curtains, careful not to disturb Spitz as she slept in the middle of her web, and slightly poked his head out. Folly looked out at the dull town, colored almost exclusively with brown and gray. The older buildings, most of which were falling apart, were constructed with sandstone. The modern buildings in Pyrite Town, however, at least tried to keep up with the times and used metal instead. That attempt wasn't too successful, however, as most of the products looked hideous and appeared to be built out of scraps.

There wasn't any light peeking through the desert horizon, so that at least gave Folly somewhat of an idea of the time. Still, he strained his eyes to find one certain building out in the distance with a lit-up clock on it. He eventually found it, but he couldn't quite make it out clearly. Two… Three… Three o' clock?

Folly quickly gave up trying to figure it out and just settled on the fact that it was early. Trudly probably wouldn't be waking up for quite some time, and that was all that mattered. He took another look at him, still in the same exact, relaxed position, which only confirmed that fact.

It was settled, then. Seeing his opportunity, Folly silently inched out of the room that he and Trudly slept in. He knew that Trudly probably wouldn't hear him, but he just wanted to be safe. Once he was past the threshold, Folly quickened his pace, sharply made a turn around the nearest corner and entered the room nearby.

Their current dwelling was one of the old, two-story buildings in Pyrite Town, unique in that it was still in fairly good condition. That was relatively speaking, of course. There was no lighting, no electricity, no heating, no air conditioning, and no running water. Folly was used to living without all those things, though, so it didn't really bother him much.

The room he entered was what used to be the bathroom. The toilet, sink, and tub were still present, but none of them worked anymore. Therefore, Trudly usually ignored that room, as there was nothing useful in it. Folly knew that, which was why he chose it as his own personal workspace.
Folly reached into the tub, which was where he held all the little things he picked up over the years. Most of it was mechanical parts that he liked to fool around with when he was bored. What he was looking for, however, were the electrical parts that he stole a few months back. He gathered them all, including the small little box that was going to be the finished product.

He and Trudly usually lived alone with each other, but there was a third influence in their lives. A long time ago, they worked for Cipher under an admin named Miror B.. After a string of events that both he and Trudly would rather forget about, they were forced to leave Cipher for their own safety. Then a few years later, Miror B. came back into the picture, asking the two if they would form their own team with them. Miror B. was rather ecstatic about it, and spoke excitedly about ruling Orre and then the world by owning all its Pokémon. He promised food, a small sum of money, and an overall better quality of life, so naturally Folly and Trudly accepted.

Then again, they didn't so much work for him as they did hope to get lucky somehow and get rewards from their boss, which didn't happen too often. But still, Miror B. would always arrive completely unannounced in an overly flamboyant manner, startling Trudly and Folly half to death. Then they would have to sit through yet another lecture from him over being empty-handed as usual. They had no time to prepare and were always left in limbo over when they could expect Miror B. to show up.

Folly got to thinking, though. If they could have some way to know when Miror B. would be making his appearance, life could be so much simpler and quieter. He thought up a plan to make a simple radar and bug Miror B. with it, so that they could always have some idea where he was. Once he had settled on that idea, it took him a few months just to learn how to carry it out and then a few more to try to make it happen.

Now, he was so close to completing his plan. He just needed a few more hours to work on it, which was why he was so anxious to wake up early. He didn't get a lot of time to himself to make much progress, as he and Trudly were practically glued to each other for most of the day. Folly knew that it was nothing that Trudly would be upset over, but he still didn't tell him about it; he wanted it to be a surprise. He had already missed a golden opportunity to finish it before Trudlys' birthday about a month ago, so Folly was determined more than ever to finish it before long.

Among his possessions that he kept in the room was a flashlight, which he was forced to use with it still being so dark. It was barely working, as the light was starting to turn dim. That only slowed Folly's progress down, as he had to take a few moments to strain his eyes just to see what he was doing. Nevertheless, Folly eventually turned off the flashlight as the light from outside began to flood in. He didn't even realize it at first, as he had been so absorbed in his work that he lost track of the time.

After what he could only assume was a few hours of putting together the right parts, tweaking the programming, and fixing everything that prevented the radar from working properly, Folly sat up. He found himself in the red-tinted room, illuminated by the sunrise, looking down on his creation. He held the small, black receiver in one hand, and glanced over to the tiny antenna sitting a few feet away from him. It was done. After months of struggling to find the time to work on it and hours of frustration over failing to get it right several times, it was finally done.

He cracked a bit of a smile and was about to internally congratulate himself, but he stopped those notions from appearing too early. The way his luck worked, the moment he felt that he succeeded this time would cause it to fail as usual. He gulped, and then had his finger move its way over to the small switch on the side of the receiver. Hoping for the best and ready for the worst, he turned the radar on.

"BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP-"

The shrill and high-pitched noise sent Folly jumping backwards, forced a yell out of him, and caused him to fling the radar up into the air. He was knocked into the wall behind him, startling him even more and increasing his already racing heartbeat.

But as he happened to look up, he was forced to recover from being jumped in an instant as he caught the sight of the radar falling towards the hard, stone floor. "Sh*t!" He scrambled to his feet and made a mad dash to the radar, having to quickly calculate in his head where it was going to land. Folly desperately shot his hands out at the radar, grabbing it in his hands before it could reach the ground.

His grip on the radar was tight and his position was frozen, despite it no longer being in danger of shattering right in front of Folly. As he let the fact that he saved all his hard work to being reduced to wasted time from an extremely close call sink in, his breathing and heartbeat calmed down. With a relieved sigh, he stood up straight again and turned off the radar, silencing its piercing shrieks. "Well… It works, that's for sure…"

As he shut the radar off, a thought raced through his head. He knew that Trudly may have been a heavy sleeper, but he wondered if the radar's beeping might have been a bit too much. He flinched at the thought of Trudly waking up in a bad mood and gingerly left the bathroom to take a quick, nervous peek in the room where Trudly was. Amazingly, Trudly was still sleeping and the noise didn't startle his Whismur and cause a chain reaction. Yet another disaster was barely averted.

Folly tiptoed back into the bathroom, where he both praised his good luck and took the opportunity to celebrate. The smile that began to form on his face earlier grew into a full grin as he began laughing in joy. "I did it! I finally did it!" He kept his jolly cheers at a low volume, but he still couldn't help but cause a bit of noise in his excitement. Folly danced around, completely unable to contain his joy over the matter.

Part of him couldn't wait to show it to Trudly, but after considering it for a while he decided to hold off on that. Gathering up what was left on the floor, he put it all back into the tub, out of Trudlys' sight if he happened to walk past the bathroom. He picked up the antenna and slipped it along with the radar in his pocket, ready to pull it out to show Trudly when he felt the time was right.

Still feeling rather euphoric over his success, the smile on his face not weakening in the slightest, Folly didn't pay much attention to what was around him. He left the bathroom, glancing at his pockets as he walked. When he lifted his head up, he was once again jumped backwards when he saw Trudly standing right in front of him.

Folly felt himself begun to sweat. Did Trudly see anything? He tried to hide his nervousness over the potential that his surprise was just ruined, but he knew that Trudly could see right through him a lot of the time.

However, it didn't seem that Trudly could see much of anything at that point. He was the last thing from a morning person, and it showed. His eyes were still clamped shut, enough so that Folly wondered if he was sleepwalking. Trudlys' long hair was unkempt and frazzled in a terrifying and unholy combination of hat hair and bed head.

Trudly just stood there for a while, wobbling every now and then as he tried to stay awake. Considering how dazed and half-asleep Trudly was, Folly doubted he saw anything. Still, he locked his anxiousness away and hid any bit of suspicion from Trudly. "Uh… Mornin'?"

Trudlys' response was nothing more than an unintelligible mutter. It took him a few more minutes for Trudly to even look somewhat conscious. His eyes cracked open slowly as he gradually woke up. Eventually, he managed to become slightly coherent when he moaned, "Ugh… The hell was that noise earlier?"

"I didn't hear anythin'." Folly blurted out quickly before his poker face had any chance to break.

As groggy as Trudly was, he seemed to buy it without a second thought. He sauntered over to the wall and slouched against it to keep his balance. He pulled his hat and red sunglasses out of his baggy pockets and put them on, making him look a little less frightening in appearance. After a while, Folly went over a stood next to him when he appeared to be fully conscious.

"What are ya doin' up so early, anyways? Usually, you'd sleep 'til noon if ya could." Trudly asked, yawning at the same time.

"I dunno. I just couldn't sleep, I guess." Folly replied with a straight face. Technically, he wasn't lying, as his excitement over working on the radar loved to rob him of a few hours sleep.

Folly shifted his eyes over to Trudly, who was starting to look a little skeptical. If continued to ask any more questions, Folly wouldn't be able to keep up his façade for much longer. Therefore, instead of lying through his teeth, he decided to try another tactic: changing the subject. He put on a cheery smile and said, "So what're we gonna do today?"

Trudly's skeptical expression disappeared. He stood silent for a moment, but only for a moment. It didn't take him long to give an answer at all.

Continued...
 

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
* * *

"GET BACK HERE, YOU LITTLE BAST*RDS!"

The two tore across the streets of Pyrite Town, throwing up the dust in the filthy road. They shoved aside anyone and anything in their way. Their destination was ambiguous at best, as their only objective was to run as fast as they could.

Folly took the last bite of the Pecha Berry he was holding as he ran. As he finished it off, he casually said, "He's gettin' good."

"Idiot!" Trudly sharply snapped at him, "That's 'cause he's expectin' us!"

Folly glanced behind him. There he was, the large, muscle-bound grocery store owner doggedly pursing them across town. His face usually looked angry, but this time it was bursting at the seams with fury. After all, he was a favorite target of Trudly and Folly. Most of the time, they had managed to be out the door and half-way across the city by the time the shopkeeper noticed. The last time they stole from him, he futilely tried to throw his fists at the two as they made off with his products. This time, however, he made sure to carry a large knife with him. It made Folly a little nervous not only for the fact that he was ready to slice them apart, but also that the next logical step was a rifle.

As he and Trudly sprinted through the streets and back alleys, Folly swiveled his head every now and then to keep an eye on how far away the shopkeeper was. It had been a while since they left the store, and he was still right behind them. Folly took a closer look, and saw that he was actually moving faster as well. "Uh… Trudly! I think he's gettin' his second wind!"

Trudly took a look behind him as well, and gave a frustrated glare when he saw the shopkeeper gaining on them. "Then we're gonna have to get ours! Step it up!"

Folly nodded and grunted in response. He knew better than to waste all of his stamina at once, and had not been running at full speed. It was times like that, when their pursuer was getting far too close for comfort, when Folly shifted gears and started moving as fast as he could. He sped up, quickly putting a large distance between both the shopkeeper and Trudly.
He had begun to move faster so rapidly that Trudly hardly had any time to do so himself. "Dammit Folly! Wait for me!"

All of Follys' concentration and energy was focused on running faster and getting away. He didn't pay much heed to Trudlys' yells as he raced through the alleys, taking every turn he could. He did so without even thinking much about it, only being concerned with losing the shopkeeper.

Of course, by doing that, he wound up in an unfamiliar part of town. He figured he had gone far enough and stopped. Folly scanned the area, not recognizing anything. He turned around, not seeing a single soul, let alone Trudly or the shopkeeper. All that was there was a wide alleyway sandwiched between two run-down, metal buildings and trash and scrap metal littered on the ground.

He took that opportunity to catch his breath, but was also starting to become unnerved. Folly paced around, trying to find some detail that he could recognize and get his bearings. He couldn't see the windmill, the Colosseum, the ONBS building, or any of Pyrites' landmarks.

It wasn't comfortable at all not knowing where he was, and it was becoming even more uncomfortable being separated like that from Trudly, especially when he knew that someone was out for their blood. He took a deep breath, and began to yell, "HEY! TRU-"

At that very moment, he felt someone slap their hand over his mouth, silencing him abruptly. He was pulled around the nearest corner and was placed against the wall. It happened so quickly and with the thought of the shopkeeper still fresh in his mind, Folly was about to panic. Several thoughts flashed through his mind, first about being caught by someone that wanted him dead, and then about the only choice he had left. In that short span of time, Folly prepared himself to fight back; he knew that he was never going to let anyone have their way with him without putting up a fight first.

But then he stopped himself. Just as he was about to struggle against the person that had a hold of him, he turned his head and saw who exactly it was. Trudly held Folly in place as he silently mouthed the words, "Don't move."

Folly froze up at his words and after seeing that Trudly was completely motionless as well. Without making the slightest movement, they could hear footsteps nearby. Considering Trudlys' reaction, it was most likely the shopkeeper, still looking for them. The footsteps seemed slow and had considerable intervals between each other. Folly figured that chasing after him and Trudly must have gotten to him. Still, Folly didn't move an inch. His eyes followed the sound of the steps, and his body began to tense up when he heard them get rather close.

They stopped for a moment, then resumed. However, that time the sound began to fade, as if the shopkeeper was going away. Did he finally give up and assumed that he had lost them? Folly thought that was the case, but neither he nor Trudly were willing to risk it so quickly. They still remained glued to the spot they were in well after the footsteps had disappeared completely.

Eventually, Trudly slowly took his hand off of Folly's mouth and moved from his frozen position. He treaded gradually to the edge of the corner and peeked around it so that only a small part of him could be seen from anyone in the alleyway. He moved his head out further until his entire body was around the corner. Folly began to follow suit and took a glance behind the corner as well. He saw Trudly slowly inspect the area, poised to run or attack if it turned out to be unsafe after all.

After a while, Trudly came back, looking a lot more relaxed. He was breathing heavily, only now getting the chance to truly catch his breath. "I think he's gone."

Relieved, Folly slid down the wall and sat against it. Trudly did the same, falling right next to him with a thud. That was just too close. He should have been used to it by now; he and Trudly have come dangerously close to either being caught or killed several times before, all in similar situations. But it was still nerve-wracking and scary every time.

Right in the middle of his reflection, Folly felt a hand come up and lightly smack the back of his head. Follys' own hand went and held the area of impact while he shot a glare at the culprit. "What was that for?"

"What the hell were ya doin' yellin' like that? Did ya want him to find us? If I didn't shut ya up when I did, we'd be stuffed in body bags right about now!" Trudly growled.

Folly wasn't intimidated in the slightest. Folly took the sharp snarl that Trudly gave him and threw it right back, "I yelled 'cause I couldn't find you."

Trudly shifted his position so that he was able to give a direct glare at Follys' face as he snapped back, "'Cause ya ran off ahead without me!"

Folly did the same as Trudly and stared back at him. "Oh what? Ya want me to apologize 'cause ya were bein' too slow?"

"I'm not too slow! You're too goddamn fast!"

"So now ya want me to slow down so I can get caught?"

"Well it would be nice if ya would at least let me catch up so that we can back each other up!"

Folly closed his mouth tightly. Scowling and mumbling, he fidgeted in place for a while before he spat out at Trudly, "Shut up."

"Oh, so that's all ya got left? Tellin' me to shut up?" Trudly laughed at him, "Sh*thead."

"A**hole."

"Dumba**!"

"Prick!"

They continued to volley insults at each other for a good while. Folly eventually found that he couldn't keep up with Trudlys' extremely colorful vocabulary and became silent. Instead of trying to dig deep to find something else to throw at Trudly, he crossed his arms and turned away from him, making an effort to look in the opposite direction.

It was like that for quite some time, just sitting there without saying a word to each other. Folly held that same scowl on his face, seething with anger. Trudly had just annoyed him so much, and at that moment he wanted nothing to do with him.

But somehow, that feeling didn't last long. After a while had passed, the tight expression on his face loosened. He found himself turning his head a few times to get a quick look at Trudlys' face and a read of what he was feeling. At one point, Folly tried looking at him again only to meet Trudlys' eyes looking at him; apparently, he had been doing the same thing. Folly swiftly looked away, acting like nothing happened.

Still, Folly started to think a little more about their argument. He didn't enjoy fighting with Trudly, he really didn't. He annoyed Folly a lot, sure. But Folly was also aware that he was just as guilty of being a pest to Trudly. When he really thought about it, most of their fights had been rather petty, caused over minor little things. It truly wasn't worth taking a vow of silence around him over.

Folly took those sentiments to heart and turned around fully to face Trudly. "Tru-"

"Fol-"

Once again, Folly was met with an echo. Another bit of silence emerged over how awkward the situation was, but Folly decided to break it with a short laugh, "I guess I already know what ya were gonna say."

Trudly mimicked him once more, this time the laugh being genuine instead of condescending, "Same with you, huh?"

Folly gave a weak smile before saying to Trudly, "Sorry for runnin' away from ya."

Trudly smiled back at him. "Ya usually don't, which is why it made me so mad. But yeah. Sorry for blowin' up at ya."

Folly sighed, relieved that Trudly wasn't too willing to keep a hold of all that frustration. With that clear to him, Folly felt that he didn't want to dwell on it too much anymore. "So… How much did ya get back there?"

Trudly let out a groan. "Not much." He grabbed the large, worn out bag that he had slung over his shoulders the entire time and set it on the ground. He opened it up, revealing the rather minuscule amount of food that he managed to steal from the store before they were noticed.

Folly took a hold of the nearly identical bag that he used and peered in it as well. His bounty wasn't much better. "Me neither…"

Trudly began to rub his forehead, and then ran his fingers through his bangs as he sighed, "Dammit… We probably used up more energy runnin' than what we got here…"

Trudly was right in that regard. Folly felt his stomach rumble, as it had been doing for quite some time. The little bit of food in front of him might be able to bide him over for a very short period of time at the most before the hunger pains came back. He was exhausted and hungry, which was just going to make the next time they needed to go out and steal all the more harder.

Trudly took a deep breath, not happy in the slightest with the result; his stern face showed that he knew there wasn't much they could do now. "Better than nothin', I guess. C'mon, let's get back home before it gets too hot."

As Trudly stood up, so did Folly. The prospect of spending the rest of the day eating and sleeping sounded rather appealing to him. Of course, they had to get home before they could do that. And to get home, they need to figure out where home was in relation to their current position. "Uh, do ya have any clue where we are?"

Trudly looked around him without the slightest hint of recognition in his eyes. "Not really. Just keep walkin' 'til ya see somethin' familiar."

Folly moaned under his breath; that didn't make him feel much better about the situation. He and Trudly tied their bags up and left the alleyway, with neither of them really knowing where they were going. Although Folly did attempt to make himself feel a little more optimistic about their predicament. After all, Pyrite Town wasn't the largest town they've been in, and they've lived there for years. In theory, it shouldn't take them long to find their bearings at all.

* * *

Trudly slammed open the door. He shot his hand out beside him and grasped the doorway, use it to balance himself. Hunched over in that position, he panted and gasped with a very clear trace of a growl mixed in with them. He stared at the interior of the house for a while, which had grown shady and dark from the lack of light as the sun disappeared in the west.

Slowly, his head turned around. His eyes, narrow, frustrated, and accusing came into Follys' line of sight. Folly flinched at the look, only able to give a very slight scowl back at him. "Look, I said I was sorry…"

Folly was at a rather considerable distance away from Trudly as he gave him that irritated look. After spending half the day wandering around in the blazing sun, searching for shady spots to rest, and running away from some of their former thievery targets, it was really no mystery as to why Trudly had been so upset for the past few hours. They might have finally made it home, but Trudly was still looking like he was about to explode; and that was something that Folly did not want to be in close proximity of.

Trudly staggered into the house with a bit of a stomp in his step. Folly followed behind, but still making sure he wasn't too close to Trudly. Trudly threw aside his bag, which was nearly empty at that point and dropped to the ground, exhausted. Once he was inside, Folly closed the wide-open door before only be able to make it to the middle of the room before having to lie down as well.

Neither of them even had the energy to make it up the stairs where they usually slept. Both Trudly and Folly stayed in the spot they were, completely worn out. Laying on the cold, stone floor was actually a luxury for once, as Folly could still feel the sweat pouring down his face. Compared to being exposed all day to the dry, sweltering heat outside, the inside of the house felt like an ice box.

Folly was more than content to fall asleep right there, regardless of how early in the evening it was. He felt the time slowly slip by and the room gradually darkening as the minutes passed. Shutting his eyes, he attempted to doze off.

"GOOOOOD EVENING, BOYS!"

Folly shot upright and Trudly jumped up a few inches at the sudden and loud yell followed by the door bursting open. Any inkling of being able to go to sleep was rapidly stomped on, crushed, and thrown out the window with the cheery assault on their ears. Both Folly's eardrums and heartbeat wasted no time and started pounding.

Folly looked up at the source. The suddenness and the volume of the yell had thrown Folly into a state of nervousness and fright. With those feelings, he stared into the glittery silver glasses that were staring back at him.

But when his brain got the chance to register who exactly it was in front of him, his nerves quickly disappeared. He could barely see with such little light, but he had more than enough clues as to whom it was; the loud, overly merry voice, the tall figure standing in the threshold, and the enormous mass of hair barely able to squeeze through the door. He sighed and smiled; comforted that it wasn't someone that meant harm to them, "Oh… Boss."

Miror B. tilted his glasses down slightly at Folly. "Oh come now, Folly darling. You couldn't have sounded less enthusiastic if you tried. You sound like you just got done running a marathon!"

Folly glanced back at Trudly. He flatly looked at Miror B.. He could tell he was desperately trying to hold it in. And by the looks of it, it seemed that he was losing. Folly quickly turned back around before Trudly had the chance to spit anything out. "Uh, well not really…"

Miror B. shrugged it off rather easily. He moved past the doorway, dancing somewhat as he made his way into the center of the room. "Now let me tell you something!" Miror B. froze in place for a moment, and then dramatically spun around. "I am in the absolutely worst mood tonight!"

He said so while his voice was still coated with its glitzy joyfulness. Folly just stared at him, while Trudly coughed out sarcastically, "Sure sounds like it."

"How come? What happened?" Folly asked curiously, ignoring the dissonance between Miror B.s' voice and mood.

"Well!" Miror B. said, holding up his finger as he prepared himself for a story, "You see, I've spent most of today trying to yet again to get more Pokémon for our team. Seeing as how no one is polite enough to just fork them over to me, I tried being a little more… forceful, shall we say? Well, I didn't try mugging them or anything. I tried to be a little stealthier, like you two are. But I simply couldn't do it! They always noticed me! Some of them even managed to smack my lovely face before I ran off!" He stomped around. "Ooooh! I don't get it! How does everyone notice me like that? It pisses me off!"

Folly watched Miror B. ponder over how he failed at stealth. Miror B.. The man in the purple vest and pants, wearing platform shows, flashy glasses and earrings, and a huge red and white afro three times the size of his head.

Folly stifled back a laugh, "Beats me."

"Me too!" Miror B. obliviously agreed with him. Folly thought that he himself was bad in that regard, but it seemed that he had some pretty strong competition.

"Oh yeah! Speaking of Pokémon…" Miror B. clasped his hands together and showed off a large grin to his two henchmen. "…You do have some for me, right?"

With those few words, the atmosphere became so much more awkward. When Miror B. dropped that question during his visits, it almost never ended too well. Both he and Trudly knew what the answer was, but neither of them was very willing to vocalize it. Instead, Trudly simply looked away with a short groan and Folly began to scratch the back of his head.

Miror B.s' hands unclasped and his expression promptly lost its cheeriness. With a frown and a dull look on his face, he unexcitedly moaned, "I guess that means 'no'…" His hand made its way too his forehead. "Why did I bother even hiring you boys if you never even get me anything?"

"'Cause Reath and Ferma told ya to p*ss off?" Trudly replied with a smile.

"Oh hush," Miror B. retorted. He then held out a plastic bag, which Folly didn't even notice he had when he walked in. "Well, in that case… I did go out and get something for you two so you wouldn't starve to death. But somehow most of that food just went and magically disappeared in the last few seconds."

Miror B. reached into the bag that clearly had a considerable sum in it and pulled out what didn't "magically disappear". He took a single, rather small loaf of bread and tossed it between Trudly and Folly, Trudly catching it before it hit the floor.

Folly stared at it disappointingly. After all the trouble he and Trudly went through just to get that extremely small amount of food earlier that day, Folly was dearly hoping for a lot more than another minuscule amount. "That's i-"

At that moment, Folly felt Trudlys' elbow jab into his side, cutting him off. He gave him a sharp look that was just screaming out, "Stop." Folly didn't say anymore as he rubbed where Trudlys' elbow hit him, but it didn't help his mood any.

Trudly took out his pocket knife and cut the loaf in half as best as he could with limited light. He tossed one half to Folly, who was forced to accept it and keep his complaints in his head. Folly spent the next few minutes picking apart the bread piece by piece instead of eating it all at once. He was still hungry and he doubted that would quell his stomach much, but he wanted to drag out the feeling of food in his mouth for as long as possible, since there was always doubt of when he get that feeling again.

As he ate, Folly felt something attempt to climb up his side. He looked down, and saw his two Whismur trying to scramble up to where his food was. Folly glanced over to Trudly, and saw that Spook and Spitz had come downstairs and were begging their trainer as well. Folly guessed that they heard Miror B. come in earlier and had figured that their trainers were home as well.

"Sorry guys, I don't got a lot for ya today…" Folly sighed as he caved into Whis and Murs' pleas and handed them a few small pieces of bread that he tore off.

Miror B. squatted down on the opposite side of the room, which was the closest thing to actually sitting down comfortably that Folly could see him doing. As both trainers and Pokémon alike ate their food, Miror B.'s mood rapidly increased in happiness as he gave a wide smile. He seemed itching to talk, as there appeared to be something else on his mind. That, and the fact that he skipped the usual lecture this time around indicated that he was eager about something. "So, boys! You'll never guess what I heard today!"

Both Folly and Trudly perked up at the way he said that. He seemed so excited about whatever it was, and his fidgeting in place implied that it was big news. Miror B. spoke quietly, but yet carrying the same emotion that someone would have when they were about to tell a juicy secret, "Cipher's back."

Trudly and Folly simultaneously lunged forward in place, struggling to keep themselves from spitting the food out of their mouths. The name, "Cipher"… It held so much meaning to the both of them. At one point, they were dedicated to doing whatever it takes to support them, as it was the only thing keeping them from living like they were at that current moment. But with one incident, that name became something that they wanted to run far, far away from.

Once Trudly had managed to gather himself, there was nothing holding him back from yelling out, "What?"

Folly quickly found that he couldn't help but vocalize his shock either, "Seriously?"

Miror B., not surprisingly, wasn't as troubled by the revelation as his two henchmen were. He nodded, still giddy with enthusiasm. "That's right! I heard a few people talking earlier today that there were people from Cipher doing operations in the old laboratory out in the desert. Can you believe it? They certainly took their sweet time in coming back!"

His eagerness over the matter wasn't too pleasing to Folly. Folly just couldn't see how his boss was so thrilled over an organization that probably had all three of them blacklisted, and that was starting to scare him. "B…Boss? We're not gonna go back, are we?"

To Follys' relief, that didn't seem to be what Miror B. was thinking and dispelled his fears, "Of course not. They'd kill us before we could even walk through the door!" Putting his cheerful expression back on, Miror B. continued, "Anyways, they're making Shadow Pokémon as usual. I also heard that this kid is going around trying to stop them; apparently he already managed to get over a dozen Shadow Pokémon from them."

Folly continued chewing on his piece of bread, calmed down and not as frightful. Miror B.'s last sentence did confuse him however; Folly thought that there was only one Snag Machine left in the world, since he could recall hearing that the others that Team Snagem made were destroyed. He didn't think about it too much, since how the kid was stealing something that he never even got the chance to use wasn't a big concern to him.

Trudly seemed to find the situation rather funny, as he laughed, "So this lil' kid is running around kickin' Ciphers' a**, now? They can't be too strong if that's what's goin' on."

Miror B. smiled back at Trudly, but Folly could see that it wasn't quite as cheerful as usual as well as carrying a considerable amount of ire. "Well, you also have to figure that the entire reason they've been gone for five years was because two certain 'little kids' didn't know what the hell they were doing!"

The humor in Trudlys' face drained as Miror B. struck a severe sore spot with Trudly that not even Folly was comfortable bringing up around him. "Ya can let that die any time now."

"But that's beside the point. I've been thinking about something all day," Miror B. got back on track and leaned closer to Trudly and Folly, "Now think about it. I doubt that kid is getting all the Shadow Pokémon that he comes across; he's probably making a few mistakes here and there. Well, regardless of the fact that those peons still have their Shadow Pokémon, I can't imagine that Cipher would be very lenient towards them. So they're probably high-tailing it as fast as they can. I was thinking that all three of us could go find these guys as they're fleeing then get them while they're alone and take their Shadow Pokémon from them!"

Both Trudly and Folly sat silently. But Miror B. jumped up on his feet and spread out his arms in a passionate zeal over the plan he was proposing, "Just think! If we had Shadow Pokémon in our possession, Team Miror might finally make its way up the ladder! Even if we have to follow those peons the moment they leave Cipher territory, it would be so worth it in the end! All these years of sitting back and laying low could come to an end just like that!"

Folly listened to Miror B. intently, as what he said was appealing to him. If he was right, just a few Shadow Pokémon could give them such a boost of power that it would change everything. They wouldn't have to scrape by with whatever they could sneak away with from other people, they could just demand it. There would be no more living in an old, run-down building and no more wondering when their next meal was. The three of them could have Pyrite Town under their thumbs like they did when Miror B. used to be a Cipher Admin. Folly was becoming just as excited over the matter as Miror B.; he began laughing through a grin much like Miror B. was doing earlier, "Let's do it, boss!"

Folly looked over to Trudly, who didn't seem to be quite as excited about the idea as Folly was. He sat there silently, rubbing the side of Spooks' face while he sat in his trainers' lap while Spitz was resting comfortably on his shoulder. Trudly seemed to be immersed in thought at that moment, but Folly could also spot a cynical look on his face as he listened to Miror B..

"That's the spirit, Folly!" Miror B. cheered him on. He then turned his attention to Trudly, who wasn't sharing Folly's feelings. "Come on, Trudly! Don't sit there looking so glum! You're excited too, right?"

Trudly moved his head up, then let out a halfhearted sigh, "Sure. Whatever ya want to do."

That wasn't the signal that Folly read from his face. He was sure that there was so much more on Trudlys' mind than the little bit of what he just said. Whatever it was, he didn't appear to want to say it out loud.

Folly dismissed it rather promptly. Trudly was just probably being a killjoy that was all. He shifted his attention to Miror B., who –despite Trudlys' indifference- pumped himself up with delight over the plan.

As the hours passed and the waning crescent moon rose in the cloudless sky, the atmosphere was packed with a sense of merriness. Miror B. spent the rest of the night dancing energetically under the moonlight while the sound of Follys' laughter over his antics filled the room. Folly even caught Trudly give a few small laughs and a smile over it, contradicting his normally serious attitude. Miror B.s' good moods were just contagious like that. That was the way it was for the next several hours, with the closest thing just three people could get to a party.

* * *

It took a while, but the night finally calmed down.

Folly lifted his head when he felt things were quiet enough. He saw Trudly and Miror B. laying down, appearing to have fallen asleep, which was just what Folly needed. He knew that Trudly had turned in for the night quite some time ago, and Folly was forced to feign sleeping himself for a few hours just to wait for Miror B. to do the same.

Quietly, careful not to make the slightest sound that could stir Trudly or Miror B., Folly inched over to his boss. Folly reached into his pockets, feeling around for the small antenna that he stuffed in there that morning. Once he found it, he pulled it out and held it in front of his face for a moment. I almost forgot about this.

The last part of his plan was just moments away from completion. He looked upon Miror B., whose legs were still moving rapidly as if he was trying to dance in his sleep. Folly needed to figure out where and how he was going to bug him with the antenna without waking him up. It needed to be someplace that Miror B. wouldn't notice by accident, either.

Folly scanned Miror B.s' body until his focus eventually became fixated on his afro. It would be perfect. His afro was more than large enough to fit a tiny little antenna in, and the chances that Miror B. could find it stuck in there was slim to none. Once he had settled on that idea and felt that Miror B. wouldn't wake up to it, Folly quickly took the antenna and stuck as far as he could within Miror B.s' hair.

Folly silently, but swiftly removed his hand when the antenna had gone far enough. He glanced at Miror B., who didn't appear to be stirred at all from Follys' actions. Before Miror B. did have the chance to awake, Folly made a quiet dash back to where he had been laying.

He shifted back into a relaxed position so that if Miror B. did wake up, he wouldn't suspect anything. But he kept his face out of view as he grinned to himself. He did it. All of his hard work finally paid off. Of course, there was still the matter of reaping the results, but all that involved was waiting and relaxing in the meantime. That, compounded with Miror B.s' new plan, which caused the doubts Folly had lately over whether "Team Miror" was worth it to dissipate, was making it hard for Folly not to show it in his expressions.

Everything seemed to be indicating that a bright future was coming.

* * *

In the eight years that Folly had lived in Pyrite Town, he often heard a story passed around verbally. It was spoken frequently enough that it stuck in his head, but he still couldn't remember it word for word. Still, he knew the basic idea of it.

The story was of the origins of Pyrite Town itself and the man that founded it. A couple hundred years ago, most of what was now the Orre region was still undiscovered. The people knew that there was an enormous desert in the south, but that was about it. The entirety of the population made their living in the woods next to Mt. Battle and the rocky coastlines.

One day, a man decided to head out alone to the desert on an expedition for resources. He packed up everything he had and left his hometown, where his fellow citizens never expected to see him again. The desert was known as a death sentence in that day and age. Anyone that did manage to make it out alive never came back with anything that would make the trip remotely worth it.

But defying everyones' expectations, he came back a few years later. Shocked, the townspeople gathered around him as he strolled through town, looking rather proud of himself. When enough people had concentrated around the man, he spoke. He told them of a place in the southwestern part of the desert where canyons and plateaus were in no short amount. He said that he spent some time there on a hunch, mining the rocks.

What he said next had thrown the people into an excited frenzy. The man loudly exclaimed that he had managed to find gold, and plenty of it. Word of his tale quickly spread; the man himself encouraged everyone to follow him on a second expedition to the same area. And people did just that. For the next several months, numerous people, entranced by the promise of gold, spent their time preparing to head out to the desert regardless of how dangerous they used to think it was. Several of those people had even gone as far to completely uproot their lives, selling their houses, quitting their jobs, and using every cent they had ever made just for that trip.

After a while, the time had come. A large group of people set off in the desert for that fabled land. The journey took months, and some had underestimated how taxing it was. Some gave up early and broke off when they felt they couldn't take it anymore. A few kept trying but eventually succumbed to everything the desert threw at them, their bones buried by the wispy sands miles away from their goal.

But nevertheless, what remained of the original group finally reached the gold mines. They saw it for themselves and the vigor that they had at the beginning of the journey was rejuvenated. The people had set up a temporary camp, and then as time went by, permanent dwellings built out of the surrounding sandstone. From dawn to dusk, everyone worked in the mines, risking life and limb just to get their fair share of the gold that the mines were stuffed with.

Once the new town felt they had enough gold to set them for life, they brought in a few people from back up north that would buy it from them. The entire community had gathered around the bankers as they evaluated the gold and eagerly awaited the price they would declare.

However, the bankers stepped forward rather early in the process and gave an announcement to the entire town. They had indeed examined what they were given, but it became glaringly apparent to them what was in front of them very quickly. What the people had mined up was not gold at all, but rather pyrite. Pyrite was a mineral that people had sometimes confused for gold, hence its nickname, "fool's gold".

The revelation came down on the town, crushing them with its weight. Their first reaction was pure dread. They had lost everything just to get gold, but in the end gained absolutely nothing. The emotions in the crowd simmered at first, but eventually boiled into a full-blown rage. The angry people melded together to form a furious mob, rampaging through the town and mines they broke their backs to build.

The mob-mentality quickly focused on one common thought, which was to find the man that had raised their hopes only to come crashing down. They broke into his home, ripped him out of it, and ransacked every last one of his possessions. He was dragged down the dusty streets, along with the bankers that had told them the bad news. They were thrown out into the open, and then riddled with bullets from every single person that they had felt they cheated. Long after there wasn't a breath left in them and their blood, tainted with lead, spread out across the sand, they were still kicked at, spit on, and lobbed with rocks before finally being tossed down the abyss that the town was built next to.

For weeks on end, their rage still burned. But even after those flames had been snuffed out, no amount of punishment they could deal to any scapegoat could erase the fact that most of their lives had been ruined. The vast majority of the original pioneers had lived out the rest of their lives in poverty. When word of the incident had reached the north, they were ridiculed and laughed at, effectively banning them from ever returning home. As the years passed by, immigrants trickled in, mainly consisting of outlaws and fugitives. The towns' reputation worsened and became known by the rest of the region as that forbidden place where rejects and criminals lived. In the couple of hundred years of Pyrite Towns' history, it had never been able to escape that stigma.

When Folly thought of that story, he had always assumed that the people of Pyrite Town told it to others, especially their children, in order to explain why they were forced to live the way they were. It had always come across to him that the tellers were doing the same exact thing the mob was: taking their anger over their problems out on a scapegoat just so they could feel better.

What Folly didn't realize until several years later was that the main objective of the story was much different.






Ha. Ha. Ha. What a funny story, Bluey.

And no, this isn't all of Follys' backstory. I'm planning to spread the rest of it out across the across instead of throwing a gigantic monstrosity at you guys all at once. Plus, it's no fun that way.
 

The Great Butler

Hush, keep it down
Hmmm. This is a pretty enjoyable chapter, even if not much really happened. I do wonder who that voice was.

However, the fact you actually wrote a detailed backstory for the Miror Radar... I love that. I absolutely love it.
 

Blueysicle

Master Procratinator
TGB:

My lord, you're a quick reader. XD

It's Miror B.s'. Which is why Folly was reacting very strongly to it. I thought it was kind of obvious, considering how Folly's been scared to death of him in all of his other appearances thus far, but I guess not. :p

Thank you very much~
 
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X-ice654

Angry Dawn is Angry
Been awhile since I was last here, and I see that there are now 12 chapters. Well anyway I have I enjoyed reading the new chapters, and I growing to like how charaterized Michael even more. All in all I really like how its all turning out.
 
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