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The Child of Thorns - A Platinum story.


Journey Enthusiast
WARNINGS: This fic will contain occassional violence, blood, and swearing.


The Waking Dawn.

Eterna Forest - 6 A.M

The first Light Holder got tired of running, which always spelled bad news for whoever was chasing her.

She veered right and threw herself beneath a fallen tree trunk and now rested between a broad, moss covered rock and a small mound of earth and grass.

She heard their steps, seven or eight pair of feet tapping against the wet floor of the forest, and tried her best to control her breathing. It wasn't easy; she'd been smoking before the group of jackasses fell on top of her, forcing her to drop her last cigarette and run for her life. She wasn't sure which one of two she found more offensive.

Relax, She told herself. Breathe in and breathe out, ignore the burning pain in your lungs and focus on finding a way out.

She wasn't sure if the voice was hers or not, but it was good advice nonetheless. Thinking was good, thinking distracted you from the Everything around me sucks and focused you on the Okay, we can make it out of this.

Problem was, plans and ideas were hard to come by recently. She'd lost her backpack, lost everything she'd managed to scavenge for the past weeks and was left with an empty cigarette pack and a heavy steel lighter, old enough to have been made in war times.

"Let me take control."

She couldn't help but wince at the feeling of someone else speaking inside her mind. That certainly wasn't her voice, which coupled with the warmth flashing behind her eyes could mean one thing.

"I can handle this," she whispered, her voice being drowned by the incesant steps around her. "I just need an opening to escape."

"That will not be possible without risking our lives to a degree that I find unacceptable. I will eliminate them."

A painful, cold shiver ran down her spine. Great, she was more scared of her partner than the actual goons trying to kill her.

"There has to be another way," she pleaded.

"I admire your valor, but you're letting your emotions get the better of you. They saw us. They will report us to Jupiter or Mars or even worse, Saturn. We can't let them go."

She closed her eyes and swallowed down all the anger and fear building up inside her. She pushed them to the furthest part of her mind, where they wouldn't interfere with her mission. To think she'd have to do this again...

She let her body fall against the cold grass, "Fine, but take over completely. I don't want to see it."

Before consciousness left her she saw one of them appear from behind a nearby tree. She was young, probably younger than her, and was dressed in the grey and black uniform she was so familiar with. Her eyes went wide with surprise, and immediately her expression changed to one of fury.

"Here she is!" she yelled for the entire forest to hear. "You! Give us back what you stole! Give us back Az...!"

Her hand moved on its own, covered in a powerful golden glow, and she fell into a silent darkness.

Waking came with a painful jolt, followed by enough dizziness she almost fell to the ground. Thick bangs of pink hair obscured her vision, and after a few moments of standing still she realized nothing in her body hurt, which was good. She closed and opened her hands, trying to get back the sensation of touch, and then looked around.

A big mistake. All eight bodies were laying on the cold ground, their limbs motionless and their eyes dull. None of them were breathing.

She stared wordlessly for what felt like an eternity. A boundless fury grew from her stomach outward, coating her skin completely. The grass and dirt rustled beneath her feet.

"Y-you... I told you to..." she stammered, the words not quite coming to her. "I didn't want to..."

"That was all the time I could keep your conciousness at bay. I am sorry."

She choked down on the vulgar variations of I don't believe you forming in her head and simply closed her eyes, forcing herself to take deep breaths. It was done, and there was nothing she could do about it. Just another few names to add to the list of people who'd end up dead because of her.

She spoke in as firm a voice as she could manage, "Let's go. I don't want to stay here any longer."

She took two steps before the voice interrupted her again.

"You should take whatever they had in them. We need supplies, and they won't be using them anymore."

Her feet stopped. She stood still for a few heartbeats, and turned toward the corpses.

"I hate you so much," she whispered, voice devoid of all strength.

Twinleaf Town - 9 A.M

Inyssa was a human burrito at the moment, reason why she didn't notice someone entering her house. She was technically awake, but being wrapped in three different blankets and with the morning cold assaulting her she would need at least half an hour to get up.

Three consecutive knocks resounded through her room, and half conscious she let out pale whispers of vulgarity. She pushed herself to her feet, still surrounded by blankets, and searched for the light switch in the darkness of the room, making sure she didn't step into any of her pens or notebooks.

"Come in, Sarah," she said with a raspy voice, and turned around to the solitary chair where she'd hung her clothes.

An older woman entered the room. She was short and stubby, with dark hair that fell to her shoulders, "How did you know it was me?"

"Well, you didn't break anything while coming up to my room so you're not Barry," Inyssa threw the blankets to the floor and started changing into her usual outfit, "and it's still morning so you're clearly not my mother."

She let out a short, fruity laugh, "Right. Sorry for waking you up so early. And for entering your house without permission."

"Again, Barry has woken me up plenty of times by himself, and with considerably more force. This is nice, in comparison," she tried to sound courteous, though she hadn't gotten much sleep last night. If anyone deserved such a treatment it was Sarah. "So, can I help you with anything?"

Sarah showed her a smile with a clear apology glued to it.

"I know it's really early and it's not your responsibility, but could you please go find him?" the worry lines on the woman's face were as clear as if they were sculpted in marble. "I need to be at work by ten and I can't go looking for him right now."

Inyssa closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Barry. Of course it was Barry.

"Sarah, I know he's not the most careful kid out there, but I doubt he's in trouble. He's probably just climbing trees or crashing into things."

The woman took a piece of paper out of her pocket, "Normally I would agree, but he gave me this before he left. I think he wanted me to give it to you."

Inyssa grabbed the paper and unfolded it, revealing a short and very clumsily written letter. All the words were wobbly, as if someone had written them as fast as humanly possible:

Hey Niss! Did you see the thing in the TV!? The reporter thingy, they were talking about professor Rowan! Looks like he came back from his journey to wherever and now he's back in Sandgem Town!

He's like a super smart dude and he's full of Pokemon to give to kids and we're more than kids! Come on Niss we can't let this opportunity pass, I'm going crazy waiting for my eighteenth birthday and when he sees what great trainers we are he'll give us a Pokemon for sure and we can go in our travels!

I'll wait for you in Route 201, we'll figure something out to get to Sandgem, maybe we can ride a bike, or a Rhydon! I'll wait as long as I can, if you're late I'm fining you a million dollars!

She lowered the letter, an indescribable look on her face, "Dear Synn... I don't... how does he get these ideas?"​

"I don't know," Sarah sighed, "but I'm really worried that he'll be impatient and run through the tall grass without a Pokemon. I don't want him to get hurt."

Inyssa crumpled the paper furiously in her hands, swallowing her frustration down. That dumbass, what the hell was he thinking? She didn't want to believe he'd be stupid enough to cross the route by himself, but she knew how much he hated not being able to do something. The last months had been a nightmare: with his eighteenth birthday so close the kid had been twice as energetic as usual, only talking about how much he wanted a Pokemon. Not that she minded, she was quite similar in that regard, but it became a problem when it affected someone other than her.

She felt bad for Sarah. Taking care of that Emolga in human form must've been the equivalent of having a full time job, on top of her actual full time job.

"I'll go get him," she told her, resigned. "I'll bring him back, even if I have to drag him by his stupid scarf."

"Oh, thank you so much," Sarah was about to grab Inyssa's hand in thanks, but she stopped herself in time. "I'll be sure to order something delicious for both of you when I get back."

Inyssa showed her a warm, yet tired smile. She didn't have anything to do for the day, like usual. She could waste some time looking for her idiot of a friend.

"I'll be on my way then. I'll make sure to punch him in the face for worrying you so much."

Inyssa was half dead by the time she arrived at Route 201. She reached the sign marking the start of the path and had to stop to breathe, leaning against it. Her legs felt like jelly, her lungs were like a furnace and her mouth was as dry as a desert. Still, she had to find Barry before he did anything dangerous. Well, more dangerous than usual.

Luckily, the boy seemed to have held his Ponytas for once in his life and was waiting for her a few feet ahead.

He was tall and slim, with blond hair in a disheveled, crescent haircut. From behind she could see him arms crossed, impatiently slamming his foot on the dirt. Ahead of him lay a long patch of tall grass, which he looked like he was going to cross any second now.

"B... Barry, hey Barry!" she slowly walked towards him, gasping between words. "Whatever you're thinking of doing, just don't. Please."

He jumped at the sound of her voice, his hair getting seemingly pointier. He recovered almost instantly, and formed a massive grin on his face.

"Looks like you're late again Niss. Jeez, what's with your face? It looks like you ran for an hour."

"I ran for twenty minutes," she admitted.

"Wow, are we really that far from town? You must be as excited as I am for my super plan!"

"I'm not, I was just worr..." she stopped herself. If she wasn't already so agitated the red on her face would have been easy to notice. "It's cold, I didn't want to freeze coming here. And by the way..."

Inyssa drove her fist into Barry's arm, with as much force as she could manage.

The boy let out a screech, "Augh! The heck was that for?"

"For worrying Sarah," she replied, suddenly feeling a lot better. "And your plan is stupid, we can't cross the tall grass without Pokemon."

Barry's eyes gleamed at her words, like they did whenever he was about to explain his dubiously working plans.

"Alright, hear me out," his expression changed, already forgetting about the punch inflicted on him. "You know how wild Pokemon appear when you cross the grass? We just need to sprint as fast as we can through it and we'll be in the other side before you know it!"

Inyssa looked at him, mesmerized by his ability to warp logic into such a strange thing.

"That's the stupidest plan I've ever heard. And I'm counting the time we tried to get honey from that Combee nest."

"Oh come on Niss, I'm really really sure about this one! Come on, let me show you!" he put his hands together, doing those Poochyena eyes that had stopped working on her years ago.

Without waiting for her response Barry turned around as fast as wind. He lowered his knees and put one hand on the ground, ready to start sprinting at any second.

"Here we go!"

"Barry, wait! Don't...!"

A booming voice shook the route, almost making them jump out of their skin.

"What do you think you're doing!? Stop right there, young man!"

Both kids froze on their tracks. Barry's body stood still for the first time since Inyssa arrived, and the girl herself felt chills up her spine. That voice...

They both turned at the same time, heart in their throats. Behind them stood an unreasonably tall man with ashen white hair and a thick mustache. He wore a dusty brown suit with a blue vest underneath. His eyes were cold and stern, and Inyssa felt like they were looking right through her. She recognized him instantly.

Professor Rowan had discovered them doing something stupid and dangerous, Inyssa realized. She opened her mouth without thinking and said the first thing that came to mind.

"Aw, ****"

Author Notes: This fic is probably my longest project so far, and the one I'm the most proud of. I really hope people will enjoy this because I put all my heart into it.

Also, here's a pic of Niss I drew so that you can have a good mental image:

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Journey Enthusiast
Chapter 2: Winds of a New Beginning

Rowan raised an eyebrow, the tips of his mustache twitching slightly.

"Watch your language, Miss." His voice was deep and gruff, like the sound an Ursaring would make if it could speak. "And while you're at it, please step away from the tall grass".

Inyssa slowly looked down, coming to the realization that she'd unconsciously put herself between the patch of grass and Barry. Heat ran to her face, tinting her cheeks red.

She straightened up, stiff as a plank, and bowed to the man, ""I... I am very sorry professor! I wasn't trying to... you see my friend here wanted to..." She was at a loss for words, she couldn't believe that the region's most prestigious Pokemon expert had caught her during such an embarassing moment.

For better or for worse, Barry opened his mouth to speak:

"Holy Beedrills!" The boy's eyes shot wide open and he placed both hands on his head as if he were about to rip his hair out. "Are you professor Rowan!? Like, the professor Rowan? I can't believe my freaking eyes!" His eyes went from the professor to her. "I told you we would meet him, look he's even taller than on TV! And he looks like an Ursaring like I told you, now we can finally get our Pokemon and start our journey and...!"

Inyssa placed both hands on top of his mouth, face turning red. She was probably strangling him a bit, but that wasn't important at the moment.

"Please disregard whatever he says, sir. He's simply over caffeinated at the moment."

Rowan's expression changed, becoming softer, and there was a glimpse of a smile on his eyes, "Well, aren't you two an interesting pair. Would you mind telling me what you were doing here?"

Barry finally managed to get off the choke-hold she was holding him in, and started talking without even taking the time to breathe, "We wanted to go to Sandgem so you would give us a Pokemon and we could become trainers!"

"Barry, shut up!" She growled at him.

Rowan narrowed his eyes, and Inyssa felt like she was being stared at through X-rays. He stroked his mustache with one hand, only speaking after a long silence.

"A Pokemon, eh? That's a strange request coming from kids reckless enough to go through tall grass without protection." He gave both of them a stern look. "Am I expected to reward that kind of behavior? What sort of professor would that make me?"

Inyssa felt her heart drop to her stomach, the inside of her skin itching as if a million ants were running under it. This couldn't be happening, she thought. To have someone like Rowan be so disappointed in them...

"I... I'm sorry, we..." She tried to say something, but her mouth was completely dry.

Just then, Barry put his arm between Rowan and her, "Hey, don't blame Niss! It was my fault, sir! I tried to convince her to do something stupid and she tried to stop me! If you're not going to give me a Pokemon then at least give her one. Then she can catch another one for me when you're not looking."

She turned toward Barry, not believing what she'd just heard. Rowan did so as well, his expression unreadable under that thick mustache.

"Well..." he whispered, looking down contemplatively, "you do seem like an honest and earnest boy. And you must have at least some common sense as to try to stop him from putting himself in danger." He turned his eyes to her. "How old are you two?"

"I'm seventeen and a half," Inyssa answered fast, not giving Barry any more opportunities to embarass both of them, "and Barry will be eighteen in a couple months."

Rowan seemed surprised, as much as he could with his usual stern expression, "Hold on, Barry Paladino from Twinleaf Town? And he just called you Niss, are you Inyssa Dawn by any chance?"

Both of them narrowed their eyes in confusion.

"How do you know that?" Inyssa asked.

"Yeah! What gives, gramps? Are we famous and we didn't knew it?"

"Gramps?" Rowan's mustache twitched a bit. "...In any case, I'll have you know I'm the head of Pokemon investigation in Sinnoh, and I have contacts with every trainer school in the region," he announced proudly. "I am expected to keep tabs on the most promising trainers of every town. I think I remember reading your names in Twinleaf's yearly student reports."

He looked at his wrist, where his Poketch was, and started fiddling with the controls.

"Ah, here it is! You're both at the top of your respective classes, it seems. Very high scores, at least when it comes to Pokemon battling," Inyssa felt her heart skip a beat, and next to her Barry formed the biggest, stupidest grin ever. "Then again, it's no wonder. The blood of distinguished trainers runs through your veins, does it not?"

Inyssa's smile froze, and she suddenly felt as if the route had grown a little bit colder. It was a good thing neither Rowan nor Barry were looking at her; otherwise they would've noticed the way her eyes went dull and distant for a moment.

"Y...yeah. I guess," she spat out, voice barely a whisper.

Rowan, still looking at the device on his wrist, didn't notice anything. He continued reading for a few seconds before he spoke again.

"I suppose... I might've judged the both of you too quickly."

Barry gasped so hard Inyssa thought he might've bursted a lung.

"Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Does that mean you're going to give us a Pokemon!?" He jumped in place like a Pachirisu on a sugar rush.

"These are strange circumstances for this to happen," Rowan nodded, "but I suppose that's the way some of the greatest trainers have started their journeys. Very well then, I will give you both a Pokemon as a way to express my patronage." He adjusted his tie and cleared his throat. "Wait for me here. My assistant is carrying the briefcase where I have my Pokeballs, and he must not be far."

The man turned his back on them and started walking toward the path leading to Verity Lake. Inyssa turned to Barry, who seemed to be vibrating with excitement.

"I can't believe your plan worked." She tried to suppress a smile, but her body betrayed her.

"I told you, I'm an unappreciated genius!" He put his arm around her, a wide smile stretching across his face. "Niss, we're gonna be famous! We'll be the greatest trainers in Sinnoh and it'll all be thanks to me!"

Inyssa couldn't help but laugh, and she put an arm around him as well, messing with his hair, "In Sinnoh? Aren't you falling a bit short? We'll be the best in the entire world! Although that's assuming you can keep up with me, banana head." A sly smile formed on her lips. "Remember our score?"

"Don't give me that crap, you're only ahead of me by a couple wins!" He pointed at her with his finger, as if giving her a warning. "Tell you what, whoever defeats Oreburgh's Gym Leader first wins the next point."

"We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, we don't even have our Pokemon yet," she reminded him, trying to hide her excitement. "But I accept that challenge."

They kept snarking at each other for a couple minutes until the professor came back. He was accompanied by someone else: a boy their age, quite a lot shorter than Rowan and dressed in a weird outfit. On top of his short, black hair was an oversized red berret that almost covered his eyes. To Inyssa he looked like someone trying to pretend he was older and appearing ridiculous in the process.

"Is this them, professor?" The kid asked with a soft, fruity voice. "Are you sure about this? They look young."

"Yes Lucas, I'm sure," Rowan intervened before Inyssa or Barry could protest to his comment. "They are talented trainers, and I believe having a Pokemon with them will put them in less trouble than if they didn't have one."

He approached them with a briefcase in hand, nervousness clear in his voice, "H-hello, my name is Lucas. I'm Professor Rowan's assistant and..."

"Are our Pokemon in there!?" Barry almost trampled the poor kid, who jumped back a few inches at the blonde boy's excitement. "Which ones do we have to choose from!?"

"I... well..." Lucas backed off a couple steps, clearly frightened. Inyssa sighed at his friend's lack of tact.

"Sorry for that," she apologized on his behalf, faking a smile. If they wanted a Pokemon then at least one of them had to pretend to be polite. "I'm Inyssa, and this is my friend Barry. Nice to meet you."

"Oh, yeah..." He smiled shyly and nodded, "the pleasure is mine. I was trying to say that I have your Pokemon right here." He placed the briefcase on the ground, and opened it to reveal three red Pokeballs. "We only have three right now, but they're good Pokemon. They are Chimchar, Turtwig and Piplup. Choose whichever you want."

They were each branded with a sticker representing the Pokemon's type. Inyssa could feel her eyes gleaming at the sight of them, and expected Barry to be all over the briefcase, but when she turned to look at him she noticed him standing still, eyes on her.

"Come on, what are you waiting for?" he inquired, pointing at the briefcase. "You can choose one first. I'd feel bad if I got the best one before you had a chance to pick."

She smiled, and without hesitation her fingers closed around the one with the flame sticker. She always knew that she would start with a fire type if the opportunity presented itself to her. It was a strong choice and quite uncommon in Sinnoh, so it was strategically the best option.

Plus, it was the same type she had started with.

"Aw man, I wanted the fire one," Barry complained, placing his hands behind his head, "I guess that's what happens when you're such a gentleman. It doesn't matter, I'll just pick this one." He grabbed the Pokeball with the water sticker on it. "Piplup is still pretty cool."

"Yeah, what a gentleman, picking the one strong against mine," she snickered. "Well, only in theory. I'm still gonna be stronger."

Barry smiled, and he pointed the Pokeball at her with so much force it almost went flying from his hand, "Is that a challenge!? I've been waiting for this, our first official Pokemon battle!"

Lucas looked confused, and Rowan slightly amused. The grown man let out a strong laugh and picked up his briefcase.

"Ah, the wonders of having a rival. I remember when..." He trailed off, shaking his head. "Ah, I'm sure you don't want to hear the tale of an old man. I will be making my leave now, kids. I will wait for you in Sandgem Town, make sure you tell your parents about what happened before coming over." He looked at them for a couple seconds, smiling, as if they reminded him of something, "Let's go, Lucas! We still have a lot of paperwork to turn in."

Lucas waved goodbye to them, and with that the kid and the old man took their leave, heading straight towards Sandgem Town. Inyssa stood still, not believing what had happened. She looked down at her Pokeball; it felt so real and heavy, she never expected to be holding one so soon. Something stirred inside her, a funny feeling in her stomach that sent heat to her entire body.

"Still wanna fight?" Barry asked, rolling the Pokeball on his finger like a basketball. "If I'm going to have my first official battle then I'd like it to be against you."

She avoided eye contact, smiling nervously, "Come on man, don't make it weird. Let's just try to kick each other's butt."

"That's the spirit!" he shouted, throwing his Pokeball into the air. "Come on out, Pedri!"

The Pokeball erupted in light revealing a small, blue creature with a round head, fins for hands and a sturdy looking beak. He looked around with his huge black eyes, confused as to where he was. Barry introduced himself in the most grandiose way possible, claiming to the Piplup that he was the best trainer in Sinnoh and that he was going to be his partner from now on; the Pokemon was even more confused after that.

"Anyway, your name is Pedri now, and we have to defeat her," he explained, pointing at Inyssa. "You think you're up for that?"

The Piplup looked over to where she was, and for a moment seemed frightened by her, but after breathing in deeply he composed himself and nodded.

Inyssa followed his example. From the beam of light emerged an orange and yellow creature with thin arms, fire burning from his short tail. He turned around , apparently much less confused about the whole situation. He looked at her expectantly, as if waiting for Inyssa to say something. She got on her knees to meet the Chimchar's eyes, not paying attention to how cold the dirt was, and attempted to smile.

"Hey there little guy," she spoke calmly. "I'm Inyssa, your new trainer, and I think I'm gonna name you Enma. Do you want to team up?"

The Chimchar moved his head to the side, studying her carefully, trying to judge whether she was worthy. He seemed satisfied enough, since he showed her a smile full of sharp teeth and turned towards Barry.

She stood back up and put herself at a reasonable distance for a Pokemon battle; Barry did the same. "Alright then. Ready?"

"You know it!" Barry stood in battle position, which was him just squatting a bit, "Pedri, Pound!" he yelled, gesticulating heavily.

"Use Scratch," Inyssa ordered without moving an inch.

The Piplup jumped straight towards his opponent, preparing to kick him in the face. Inyssa expected Enma to dodge, since he was probably faster.

The kick landed straight on his face, and he didn't move an inch. Pedri looked at him confused, not expecting to land a hit so easily. But Enma hadn't suffered much damage and his eyes were set on the Piplup, a huge smile on his face.

"What the... the heck is that thing made of? Come on Pedri, try again, Pound!"

"Enma, what are you doing?" Inyssa frowned, "I said use Scratch. Come on, don't embarrass me in our first fight."

Pedri backed up, nervous, and he jumped right back at him again, preparing for another kick. However this time the Chimchar dodged out of the way, moving left at the last second. Before the Piplup realized what was happening Enma was behind him, claws out and a grin pasted onto his face.

The battle was over as quickly as it started. The attack from Enma was devastating, sending the small penguin Pokemon straight into a tree, knocking him out with a single hit. Both Barry and Inyssa stared at the result, dumbfounded.

Barry ran towards his partner, returning him back to his Pokeball, "Come on, that's cheating! You got the one with crazy strength, not fair!"

"Hey, don't start sounding like a sore loser now," she smiled, equally surprised, "though I have to admit, that was better than I expected," she stared down at the Chimchar, "What was that? You could've ended the fight a lot quicker, why did you take that hit straight on?"

Enma shrugged and pointed at his left cheek, where Pedri had hit him. It didn't seem like he'd suffered much damage.

"He probably wanted to show just how much stronger he was than my Pokemon," Barry complained, arms crossed, "Great, you got a Pokemon with a bigger ego than yours, and that's saying something."

"Obviously it was my mastery as a trainer that made the difference," she said sarcastically, before kneeling down and patting the Chimchar on the head. "Good job buddy, but I'm gonna need you later to cross the route, so rest for now." She put him back in his Pokeball before he had the chance to protest.

"That was just a fluke and you know it," Barry put Pedri's Pokeball in his bag, and he pointed right at Inyssa. "I'll catch a bunch of Pokemon and I'll challenge you later! Now I gotta go back to my house to tell my mom that I'm travelling, and to get food. I don't wanna starve on the road."

Inyssa's smile faded as quick as it had appeared. Right, she had to tell her mother the good news. Suddenly all the excitement from having her first Pokemon evaporated. She sighed deeply, and tried not to look too down.

"Yeah, me too."

"Alright then, I'll go first. Let's meet here in two hours," he was still pointing at her. "Remember, if you're late you owe me all your money!"

He took off before she had a chance to say anything, leaving her alone in the middle of the route.

She looked at the Pokeball in her hands, feeling a lot heavier than before. The wind was howling and yet she stood still, lost in thought, enduring the cold. She had dreamed for so long about this moment; getting her first Pokemon, having her first rival battle, meeting the profesor. And still...

"We'll make it through," she said to no one. "now is not the time to worry about that."

She attached the Pokeball to her belt and started walking towards Twinleaf, hopefully for the last time.
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Journey Enthusiast
Chapter 3: The Man in the Lake
Inyssa's gaze was so set on the wall's clock that she could visualize its gaudy floral pattern every time she closed her eyes. Her head lay on her arms, which were resting on top of her living room's table. Next to her was a medium size, finely crafted white backpack, full of everything she could possibly need for her journey: food, clothes, medicine and... something else she didn't feel like thinking about at the moment.

The cold had subsided somewhat, and strong rays of sunlight filtered through the windows into the room, slowly warming up the place. It was almost twelve o' clock, which she constantly muttered to herself under her breath. She had finished packing by ten, foolishly hoping for that for once her mother would wake up at a reasonable hour. But alas: Hope and experience, hats and weather, as her favorite writer Shauntal liked to say.

Usually she'd simply yell at her to get up, but considering the occasion she thought maybe that was too aggressive of an approach. Yeah, nothing like waking up to your daughter telling you she's going away in a dangerous journey. That'd go well, she thought.

At twelve ten she heard her mother's grunts upstairs. Ten minutes later her footsteps echoed through the floorboards into the room below, and by twelve thirty the woman finally came down from her room, messy dark hair and eyes barely open, with huge shadows under them.

She spoke with a melodious and firm voice, with a hint of raspiness hidden in it, "Good morning, dear."

Inyssa grit her teeth, the dear coming from her mother piercing her ears like poison.

"I made coffee, though it must be cold by now." She pointed at the kitchen. "I need to talk to you, so it'd be great if you sobered up as soon as possible."

"Oh... that's lovely," she replied between yawns, weakly scratching her face, "but I think I'll just have water. Coffee can mess up your teeth you know."

Coming from someone who used to drink herself to sleep every night? she thought bitterly.

She bit her lip and tried to hide the venom in her eyes, "That's nice. But as I said, I need to talk to you about something."

"Can this wait, Niss? Please?" Her mother pleaded, almost falling asleep on her feet. "I had a rough night, and I need some peace and quiet right now. You don't mind, right honey?"

If Inyssa had something in her hand it would have snapped in half.

"I'm serious. This is important," she repeated, reminding herself to breathe slowly. "Today I went with Barry to route 201 and..."

She was interrupted by her mother raising her hand, "I said not now," her honeyed voice was breaking up, letting out a hint of impatience. "You can tell me about you and Barry playing later, ok? Now, can you go to the pharmacy and get me a couple of aspirins? That would be wonderful."

Inyssa stood up so fast she almost toppled the table into the ground. She could feel the blood rushing to her face, along with the pain of her fingernails digging into her palms.

"I'm going away!" she spat at her. "Barry and I met Professor Rowan today, and he gave us a Pokemon. I'm going on a journey with him and we're going to challenge the Gym Leaders." She was out of breath by how fast she said all that. "That's all. Thanks for listening, I'm going now."

Her mother froze, as if not yet fully grasping what she had just heard. After a couple seconds her eyes went wide like plates and she almost tripped to the ground trying to get to Inyssa.

"Wait, what!? What do you mean... a Pokemon journey? How did you...?" The gears inside her head started turning, being slightly slowed down by the soporifics in her body.

"I'm not going to repeat myself," Inyssa said scathingly. "I came to say goodbye. Don't worry, I'll be back by summer or autumn, it depends how strong the Gym leaders are."

"But... but you're not of age yet, are you?" She blinked fast, a look of confusion on her face. "You're... only seventeen, right? Are you sure about this? Don't you want to... wait a little bit? You're still young Niss, what if..."

Inyssa shot her an icy look, "Nothing's gonna happen to me."

"It's just... I..." her mother put her hands on Inyssa's shoulders, and she allowed it for once. "I hadn't realized you grew up so much. I mean, you know what they say, time flies, right?" She smiled at her, but Inyssa did not smile back. "Are you... sure?"

"Yes, I am." She wanted to sound strong and secure, but her voice was wavering.

Her mother stared at her for a while, as if trying to determine something from her expression. Her hands strongly gripped Inyssa's shoulders, not wanting to let go, and she tried to pretend she didn't notice the sudden wetness on her eyes.

Her voice came out wavering and slow, "I should've seen this coming. First your father, then Shadi. And now you're going away too," she let out a sigh. "Just... promise me you won't follow in their footsteps Niss. Please... you're the only one I have left."

As she heard her mother's words something sharp began to grow on the inside of her chest, "I'll be okay, don't worry about it," she shrugged dissmisively. "I'll send you letters."

She grabbed her backpack and headed for the door, avoiding her mother's eyes. She was almost there when she heard her voice again.

"Inyssa..." she whispered, tone fearful. "Is it... is it because of me?".

Her mouth was dry, and her hand was grabbing the doorknob so strongly that it would've broken if it weren't made of metal. She opened her mouth and tried to think of something hurtful to say.

"It's not," was all she could muster. "Bye mom. I'll miss you."

Before she knew it she'd arrived at the intersection of Route 201. Lost in thought, she'd almost walked right into the tall grass, until Barry stopped her. She hadn't even noticed him standing there; he stared at her with a puzzled look on his face.

"Hey there lady, don't you know it's dangerous to go alone around these places?" he smiled nervously, and Inyssa tried to do the same. "Uh... hey Niss, are you okay? You didn't even see me."

Inyssa straightened herself up and moved a bang of hair that was obscuring her vision, "Sorry about that. Just thinking about something else, you know?"

She avoided Barry's eyes, but the boy immediately understood the problem. As dim as he was, he had been Inyssa's friend for years, and he knew that the only thing that could get her so down was a talk with her mother.

"It's all cool, I'm not the type of guy that holds grudges." He placed both hands behind his head and smiled. "Besides, you gave me time to train Pedri. Starly and Bidoof are much easier to beat than I imagined."

Inyssa gave him a non verbal thanks for not pressing on the subject.

"Is that really all there is around here?" she asked, disheartened. "Well, I guess I have to start my team with something."

"Oh! Oh!" Barry started jumping in place with a gleam in his eyes. She knew exactly what that meant. "Niss, I have an idea! A really, really good one, even better than today's idea!"

"Now now, let's not push our luck. Even a broken clock is right twice a day."

"Just hear me out. See that path right there?" he pointed at the forked road that went away from Route 210 into a bunch of pinetrees. "That way is Lake Verity. Now that we have Pokemon I bet we can go there!"

Inyssa narrowed her eyes. Lake Verity was a place that no one in the town was allowed to go to unless they had a Pokemon with them. Even then, most of the trainers in town seemed to avoid the place. She had once asked Shadi about it, and her sister's answer had been nothing short of cryptic.

That place is very... ancient, even more so than the route that surrounds it. You should stay away, for your own good.

"I don't think that's a good idea. We won't get different Pokemon there if it's so close to Route 201."

"Unless..." Barry paused for a moment, probably for dramatic timing, "the legendary Pokemon is there."

She narrowed her eyes, wondering if she'd heard him right, "That's... really dumb. If the pixie legendary really lives in there someone would've seen it by now."

"Unless..." he started doing the dramatic pause again, but Inyssa punched him in the arm softly. "Agh! Fine, but what if it only shows up when close to a great trainer or someone with a pure heart? I mean, we definitely don't have the second one, but we're so good with Pokemon that it should be good enough, right?"

She tried to argue that the legend of the pixie Pokemon was nothing but a bunch of bull, but Barry was having none of it. Inyssa sighed, defeated, and threw her arms into the air. It was impossible to argue with Barry.

She turned around towards the path and stomped the dirt beneath her as she walked, "Fine, let's hurry it up. I want to reach Sandgem before the sun goes down."

The path became narrower and darker the more they advanced, trees growing in size and casting a deeper shadow on top of them. Inyssa swore she could feel the temperature drop way more than it should have, and even strangest yet they didn't encounter a single Pokemon on their way. She walked with her arms crossed, trying to protect herself from the cold, while to her left Barry went at a much slower pace than usual. He seemed nervous as well, evidenced by the fact he wasn't talking her ear off for once.

"Keep your eyes open," she said, barely above a whisper.

"Oh, now you believe there's something in here?" Barry intended to sound playful, but he came off as scared.

"There's nothing here, but... just in case."

They arrived at the feet of the lake, after passing through an unusually dense patch of grass and trees. The dirt close to the water was almost frozen, and several banks of snow were piled up under the pinetrees close to them. Despite the cold, the actual lake looked very inviting. The crystalline water was glistening against the light of the sun, almost blinding them, and for a second, Inyssa felt the strange need to jump in and start swimming.

"Jeez, this place's giving me the willies." Barry whispered, rubbing his arms vigorously.

She took a couple whiffs of the air, nose wrinkled, "Something feels wrong. It's not supossed to be this..."

Someone was there. They hadn't noticed him before due to the mist covering the entire lake, but only a few feet from the water stood a tall, slim man. He was dressed in a black and grey suit, hands behind his back. She gestured at Barry, who was as surprised as she was, and they both moved closer, trying not to make too much noise.

"The stillness of this place... it truly is beautiful."

Both the kids froze. They shouldn't have been able to hear him from that distance, and yet it felt like they were standing next to him. His voice was sharp and cold and both of them felt a painful chill up their spines at the sound of it. Inyssa grabbed Barry's arm without thinking, arching her back like a scared Glameow.

"It's been so long," he continued, not paying any mind to them. "Why do you continue to avoid me, my friend? I have forgiven you for what you did to me, so why? Are you that afraid? So much that you would abandon your home and your brethren." He sounded so... odd, like he was trying to emote through his voice in a very forced manner. "The flowing time... the expanding space... I shall weave them to create a new, perfect world. My name is Cyrus; remember it well, my dear Mesprit."

As he turned around the pale blue of his eyes cut through the mist, meeting with Inyssa's. Her heart dropped, and she felt her veins turning to ice. There was no word to describe the terrible cold and apathy behind his gaze.

They exchanged looks for what felt like a minute, and then the man began to walk. He moved as quietly as a ghost, hands behind his back, and only stopped once he was inches away from the both of them. Inyssa could now see him clearly; his face was as pale as snow, with marked cheekbones and enormous bags under his eyes.

"Allow me to pass," he ordered.

Their bodies moved before they could reply. The man walked between them, not even glancing in their direction, and went up towards the path that they had just walked through. As soon as he was out of sight Inyssa breathed a sigh of relief and let go of Barry's hand.

"The heck was that about?" he asked, whispering. "Who was that freak?"

She tried to force her legs to stop shaking, "He said his name was Cyrus. Other than that, no idea. And I don't want to find out, either."

"Did you hear what he said though?" Barry's eyes shone again, and he smiled for the first time since they'd arrived to the lake. "He mentioned the legendary Pokemon! He knew Mesprit's name!"

She crossed her arms, "Yes, but he also said it wasn't here anymore. Normally I wouldn't listen to a crazy guy's ramblings, but he seemed... dangerous. Maybe he's right, and Mesprit left a long time ago."

"Oh come on, it's obviously hiding in the lake," Barry pointed at the misty body of water, smiling. "It must be waiting for us."

Inyssa was too late to stop him as he headed for the lake, fast as a Jolteon. Luckily he stopped right before reaching the water, so he wasn't going to dive in. Unfortunately his idea wasn't much better.

"Hey Mesprit! It's me, the legendary trainer you've been waiting for!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. "Come and face me so I can catch you!"

His voice echoed all throughout the lake, fading a few seconds after and submerging the lake into silence once more. Both of them simply stood there, waiting for some kind of response; Barry expecting the legendary Pokemon to appear, and Inyssa feared a bunch of Starly would come and attack her friend. They waited for almost a minute, until Inyssa's patience ran out.

She came down to where he was and grabbed his arm strongly, "I'm telling you, it's not here. Let's go, we don't want to keep the professor wait..."

She felt a sudden chill, and the rushing sound of a gust of wind hit the back of her head. A grumbling noise came from behind them, and both trainers turned around as quickly as possible, Pokeballs in hand. A few feet from then, the grass started rustling.

"It's here!" Barry screamed, exctatic.

"No ****ing way," she whispered.

The grass kept rustling in their direction. They both prepared for battle, but Inyssa knew that if that was a legendary Pokemon they would have zero chance to beat it. The only reason she agreed to go with Barry was to get him off her back. If Mesprit really was there...

A dark shape jumped at them. They were about to throw their Pokeballs, when they saw what emerged from the grass. Contrary to what they imagined, it was just a small rodent, fuzzy and brown, with long buck teeth.

"Oh," Barry's expression changed in an instant, his smile vanishing, "it was just a Bidoof."

Inyssa couldn't help but laugh at her friend's heartbreak. She patted him on the back and stepped in front of him, Pokeball still in hand.

"Maybe next time buddy," she teased him. "Let me take care of this one, I need to start catching Pokemon if I'm hoping to get stronger."

She opened the Pokeball, releasing Enma through a flash of light.

"Are you sure you want that thing?" Barry asked, raising an eyebrow.

She shrugged, "I need to start somewhere. Besides, every Pokemon can be powerful with the right trainer." She headed next to her starter. "Now Enma, use..."

The Chimchar dissapeared in a flash, running at full speed towards the poor Bidoof. Before anyone could react, the rodent went flying towards the grass, landing with a resounding hit, the same way Pedri had done before. She seemed barely concious by the time Inyssa got to her.

"Jeez, that thing is savage!" Barry laughed nervously. "Sure you don't want to trade, Niss?"

She stomped her feet and curled her fingers into fists, "What do you think you're doing, Enma? You have to wait for my command, if that attack was just a bit stronger you could've seriously hurt her!"

Enma shrugged, clearly not caring for her desire to catch such a weak Pokemon.

"I'm gonna have to teach you manners later," she put him back in his Pokeball. "As for this girl..." She barely had to aim to get the Bidoof, she wasn't even moving. With a couple wiggles, the Pokeball closed itself, confirming her first catch. "Great, your name is going to be Bertha."

"Yikes, I'm glad I'm not one of your Pokemon," Barry whispered to himself. "Now that you took care of that dangerous beast, we should get the heck out of this lake. I'm freezing my butt out here."

"Yeah, we need to get to Sandgem quickly." She saved the Pokeball in her belt. "I want to get my Pokedex as soon as possible."

"Let's get going then!" he yelled as he lowered his knees and pointed west with his finger.

He put himself in running position once again, but this time Inyssa was fast enough to grab him before he began sprinting.

"Wait a second!" She grabbed her backpack with her free hand, and started looking for something inside. "Before you go, your mom told me to give you this."

She handed him a big paper parcel, folded three times and with a small drawing of a green heart. Inside there was what appeared to be a very detailed map of the region.

"She said you forgot this because you ran off so quickly," she explained. "She also gave one to me, because she's great and you're like... the worst son of all time."

He grabbed the parcel and stared at it excitedly, "Aw, that's so considerate! Thanks Niss, I don't know what I'd do without you guys."

"That's what I'm here for, to get you out of trouble." She smiled, and then remembered something. "Oh... right. There's something else I have to give you."

"Huh? Did my mom pack something else for us? Is it food? Please let it be food!"

Inyssa tried not to let herself be too embarassed by it, while looking for Barry's gift. After a couple seconds she found it, and took it out of the backpack. It had the shape of a rectangle, and was as big as a tea box. It was made out of finely crafted ceramic, and was painted with oils in a sharp yellow color.

"Here, I made it for you," she said, trying to sound nonchalant. "It's a badge case, for when you get through the Gym Leaders."

Barry grabbed the case, and stared at it for a couple seconds. His expression was unreadable.

"Wow... thanks, Niss." He looked at her and smiled brightly, and Inyssa felt something jump inside her. "It's awesome, I'll use it all the time!"

"I mean, hopefully you'll only need to use it eight times." She smiled back. "I knew you would probably lose the badges once you got them without a case, and I couldn't have that. We still have to face each other for the title of Champion, remember?"

He gave her a thumbs up, "We'll get there Niss, trust me. And once we beat the Champion, we'll decide once and for all who's the best."

"Just don't feel bad once I kick your ass on top of Victory Road."

"Yeah yeah, keep yapping," he turned around again, ready to leave. "We'll se about that once we reach Oreburgh. Until then, see you in Sandgem! And don't keep me waiting!"

He ran away as fast as usual, once again leaving her alone there. She was starting to notice a pattern.
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Journey Enthusiast
Chapter 4: Sour Memories.

Inyssa thought training her Pokemon wouldn't be too hard, considering her talent, but as her Bidoof flew in her direction and hit her in the stomach, sending her straight to the floor, she realized it might be a tad more complicated than she first assumed.

Flying above them both was a small bird Pokemon, flapping his wings agressively. She had encountered the Starly almost at the entrance of Sandgem Town, and figured it would be a great chance to both train Bertha and catch a new companion. She hadn't considered that the little flying bugger would be so tough, however.

"Ugh... come on Bertha, get up!" she growled, struggling to get to her feet; she was covered in dirt and her vision was partly obscured by her hat. "We've got him on the ropes!"

The Bidoof turned to look at her, legs trembling, and made sounds of pain that might have been slightly exaggerated. With her head she pointed at Inyssa's belt, where Enma's Pokeball was resided.

Inyssa shook her head, "He can't help you with this. We are a team, but we also have be strong individually if we're to challenge the Gym leaders." She tried to form a reassuring smile. "I know you can do this Bertha, because you are my Bidoof and there is not a single Pokemon I can't achieve victory with!"

Bertha seemed to gain strenght from her trainer's words, and with renewed determination she turned toward the agressive Starly. The bird Pokemon shrieked and threw himself against the Bidoof, who did the same. Their heads clashed together, but Bidoof's attack was more powerful and pushed Starly back with enough force to send him to the ground. His strength left him as he fell unconscious.

"See? Told you we could win," Inyssa approached the Bidoof and patted her on the head; the small Pokemon was hurt all over her body but was still smiling. "You earned your rest, great job."

She returned her to her ball and sighed, relieved. She could've probably defeated the Starly with much more ease if she'd used Enma, but she needed to build confidence in the other members of her team if she wanted them to get stronger. From her bag she grabbed another Pokeball and threw it at the unconcious Starly without paying much attention. It wiggled thrice, as it did, and then locked itself with a digital beep.

She grabbed the Pokeball and examined it closely, "Starly, eh? Very good attackers, quite fast and with access to a myriad of moves. I'm sure you'll be a great addition, and I think I'll call you... Steven," she smiled, satisfied with the name as she put the ball in her belt.

With that particular obstacle out of the way she finally made her way to Sandgem Town's entrance. A huge, wooden sign rested atop two thick pillars along the path, announcing the town's name and some of the most important facilities that one could find there, like the Pokemon Center, the Laboratory and the Trainer School; the two latter of which she was more interested in.

Inyssa strolled through the small town, in part looking for Barry, but also just taking a minute to admire her surroundings. It was quiet, much more than Twinleaf ever was even without her friend causing a ruckus. The houses and buildings seemed much older than anything she'd seen, most of them made of sturdy rock and obsidian instead of bricks and cement. The town felt ancient and still, to a strange degree. It was beautiful, but daunting.

After about ten minutes of walking she finally found the lab, which seemed to be one the only modern building around, to the extent that it looked completely out of place. To her surprise the porch was surrounded by a field of flowers, and at the side there was a small mailbox with the name Rowan engraved in it. Were it not for that she'd think the house belonged to some old, kind lady.

She waited in front of the door, readying herself to enter. She'd already met the professor once, but he was still a very intimidating man; she had to make a good impression this time.

A plan that went out the window when Rowan himself opened the door and found her standing in front of it like some sort of stalker. She froze, as the man stopped and looked at her sternly.

She put a hand behind her head, trying to look casual, "H...hey, professor. How... how's it going... man?"

Rowan raised an eyebrow, and let out a small chuckle.

"Well hello there, Inyssa." He tipped his hat. "I've been waiting for you and your friend, though I expected you later tonight at the very earliest."

"Oh, yeah... well what can I say," she glanced to the side, avoiding the man's gaze. "I was just... so excited to start my journey. I couldn't wait."

Rowan stared, as if sensing something was off. Luckily, he seemed to realize that there was no point on pressing the issue, so he changed the subject.

"Nevertheless, I'm on my way toward the Trainer School right now." He glanced north. "Your friend Barry stopped by half an hour ago, but he left before I could give him his Pokédex."

She nodded, "He does tend to do that. So he went to the Trainer school?"

"Indeed, as soon as I mentioned it he started jumping in place and saying something about challenging all the students." He stroked his mustache contemplatively. "Before I knew it he was already gone. Lucas went looking for him, but I had to arrange some papers before following."

"Well, I could accompany you if you want, sir. I'll make sure to scold Barry for being so disrespectful, too," she tried to sound offended by her friend's actions, altough she also considered defeating the school's students for experience. "I could carry your briefcase as well, it may be a long way to the Trainer school."

"Thank you for the offer Inyssa, but I'm not that old yet." He smiled , though it was hard to see due to the mustache. "However I'd like you to come with me, that way I can give both of you a Pokedex so you can officially start your journey." He straightened his hat, and closed the door behind him. "Alright then, let's get going. We should finish this whole ordeal before the sun goes down."

The sky was starting to darken by the time they arrived, though they probably still had an hour at least before night finally set in. As they approached Inyssa noticed that the Trainer School looked more like the other buildings in the city; an old, worn building that still had a lustrous appearance to it.

The inside looked much more modern, however; the first floor was a huge room divided by a wall; and in the center of it there was a small battle arena. An honestly staggering amount of kids surrounded the place, yelling and making surprised sounds at something that neither of them could see from where they were.

Rowan narrowed his eyes, "This place isn't usually so loud."

From the pile of kids emerged Lucas, gasping for air as he made his way towards them. His weird berret was covering part of his face and his cheeks were red as tomatoes. Inyssa thought that he looked kind of cute that way.

"Professor! I'm here." He adjusted himself and bowed to the old man. "I'm sorry sir, I told him it wouldn't be a good idea and he should have gone back to the lab, but he just wouldn't listen to me!"

Inyssa snorted, "Gee, I wonder who he's talking about."

"Calm down Lucas." Rowan placed a hand on his shoulder, reassuringly. "Tell me what's happening."

"It's Barry, sir! He challenged all the students and..."

The boy was cut off by the sound of something crashing into the nearest wall. Everyone turned to see a small, orange Pokemon laying unconcious at the other side of the arena. Above the beaten Buizel there was a Starly, proudly flapping her wings and flying around the room. She looked hurt, but apparently not enough to stop her from fighting.

"Yeah, take that!" Barry's voice resonated from the center of the room. "Good job Paulette! That's the fifth Pokemon in a row!"

Inyssa pushed aside everyone near her, trying to get closer. When she made her way to the middle of the arena she saw her friend laughing at a poor trainer who must have been around their age. Next to him Pedri was resting after what must have been quite a number of battles.

"So? Is that all?" he asked the crowd, smiling from ear to ear. "Is there another best trainer from this school?"

All the younger students started clapping and yelling, while the older, defeated ones stood silently, glaring daggers at Barry.

She approached him, smiling, and put a hand on his shoulder, "Man, if this is what we're facing then this journey's gonna be easy."

"Oh! Oh, hey Niss did you see that?" Barry jumped excitedly after realizing she was there, and pointed at the boy he just beat. "That was just training for our next fight! Sorry I didn't leave any of them for you."

"Eh, I wasn't interested in fighting these losers anyway." She lied, shrugging. "Though I'm happy to see you're taking this rivalry seriously."

Before they could keep yapping at each other, Rowan cleared his throat, making everyone nearby shut up and look at him. The man congratulated Barry and urged the rest of the students to go back to class, and Inyssa was surprised that they all listened to him without second thought. The man must command a lot of reputation around town, she thought.

"Well well, I have to say I'm impressed." He addressed Barry after the four of them were left alone. "Altough disrupting class to challenge my students is something I would usually be cross about, I'll turn a blind eye to it this time, as a sign of my patronage."

Barry looked down, blushing, "Oh, yeah... sorry about that. I was just so excited when I heard there were a lot of trainers like me here."

"It's understandable," Rowan nodded. "However, you left before I could give you your Pokedex and credentials. But now that you're both here, we can finally proceed with that. Lucas, if you may..."

Inyssa's heart jumped a bit, and she could see that Barry was just as excited as she was. She couldn't believe it; she knew that they both already had Pokemon, but getting a Pokedex and trainer card was the true proof that they were embarking on the League Challenge. Lucas looked around in his backpack and took out a small, square laptop as he approached them.

"Alright then, now that I'm not being trampled by a bunch of kids..." He glanced at Barry, altough more jokingly than mad. "I can now legitimize you as official trainers of Sinnoh. Let's see here..."

He took out a couple red, electronic devices from his backpacks, what Inyssa assumed were their Pokedex, and connected them both to the jacks on the laptop. He typed on it for a while, configurating them with their personal information.

"Your Pokedex will serve as your most important source of information while traveling the region," Rowan explained. "It will give you data on any kind of Pokemon you may encounter; including types, moves and behaviour. Anything you could use for making your battles easier."

"And you can also surf the internet and play games with it," Lucas mentioned, grinning. "Alright, that should be it. Now to register your trainer IDs. Let's see, Paladino and Daw... wait... what?" He stopped and narrowed his eyes, mouth slightly open.

The professor twitched his mustache and looked down at him, "Is there something wrong, Lucas?"

Barry and Inyssa looked at each other, heart in their throats. Did they do something wrong? Were they not going to get their Pokedex? Her stomach revolted at the thought of it.

"It's just... there's someone else here on the records besides them." Lucas squinted. "Another Dawn, by the name of... Shadi," he pronounced it slowly as his mouth fell and his eyes opened wide. "No way..."

Inyssa stopped breathing, and she could feel a horrible cold hitting her spine like needles. At her side, Barry turned at her, gulping. Professor Rowan's expression was unreadable.

She tried to speak, to tell Lucas that it must be a strange coincidence, but her mouth was completely dry. The boy didn't even notice her expression, he was staring directly at the screen of his computer.

"I can't believe it, I knew your last name sounded familiar!" He smiled excitedly, and Inyssa curled her fingers into fists. "Shadi Dawn was that really famous trainer, wasn't she? The one who got through the Elite Four a couple years back, I saw it on the news! She must be your sister, righ..."

He looked up at her, and his smile dissapeared as soon as their eyes met. Inyssa's glare stung him like fire. She didn't realize what she looked like, nor the fact that she was breathing heavily or that she was clenching her fists so much she was hurting herself. Behind her, Barry was doing gestures at Lucas telling him to stop talking, and Rowan was avoiding everyone's eyes. The entire room was filled with silence, until Lucas spoke again.

"I... uhm... I'm sorry, did I..." he muttered as his body language clearly said he wanted to get as far from Inyssa as possible. "I didn't mean to..."

Inyssa's opened her mouth to speak, and what came out was more poison than words. "Its fine. Can I have my Pokedex now?" She extended her hand in a way that said that it wasn't a request.

Lucas finished updating the devices and gave it to them in complete silence. Inyssa simply put it inside her bag and adjusted her hat, foolishly trying to act like nothing was wrong.

"I'll be going now," she said, voice as sharp as a knife. "It was a pleasure, professor. I'll head to Jubilife tomorrow; I hope we can meet again."

And with that she went away first for once, while the other three stood looking at her. She could feel their eyes on the back of her head, but she didn't care. Only half paying attention she threw her bag on her shoulder and started heading for the Pokemon Center.

In the middle of the arena the three of them were quiet, until Lucas spoke again.

"What... happened? Did I do something wrong?" he looked at Rowan worriedly.

"Don't worry about it Lucas, you couldn't have known." The voice of the man was low, and his gaze was distant. "Shadi Dawn... she used to be my student, and I was her patron, just like I am for Barry and Inyssa."

"But why did she get like that when I said her name? Is she..." He stopped himself. "Is she... dead?"

"We don't know," for the first time Barry spoke, voice devoid of its usual energy. "She dissapeared two years ago ago when she was training on Victory Road for a rematch against the Champion. No one's heard of her since. It's kind of a touchy subject for Niss, that's why she... reacted that way."

Barry didn't seem annoyed with Lucas, though it was clear that he wasn't happy about what had happened.

"But... how? She was one of the greatest trainers of the region, who could have...?"

"No one knows," sighed Rowan, "and no one has a theory about what happened either. One of my best students..." he looked at the distance, lost in thought. "In any case, you probably shouldn't mention her in Inyssa's presence."

Lucas lowered his head, a sour feeling growing in his chest, "I'm sorry. I had no idea..."

"Hey, it's okay man," Barry attempted to smile and gave the boy a pat on the shoulder. "It's like the professor said, you couldn't have known about it." He started heading towards the door. "I should go find her."

And with that he exited the room, his usual cheery demeanor completely absent.

It was the dead of night by the time Inyssa reached the Pokemon Center. She'd been walking for almost an hour, gaze lost and wandering without paying much attention to the path ahead. She was so distracted she had tumbled and crashed on signs a couple times, which didn't help with her terrible mood.

Why did it always happen? she thought. Every time she was having a good time and just forgetting about everything someone had to mention her family and ruin her day. Was it because she was trying so hard to get away from it? No, that made no sense, she was just being stupid. She slapped herself in the face. She had to stop being so mopey all the time, it was unbecoming of the future Champion. And she also had to stop hitting herself in public places; she didn't want people to think she was nuts.

She could see the blinding light of the Pokemon Center less than a block away, looking warm and safe as usual. She forced herself to smile; she would get a delicious meal, she would have a full night's sleep in a comfy bed and tomorrow she would make her way to Jubilife, and no sad thoughts or insensitive nerds would get in the way of tha...

Barely a few feet from the entrance she noticed something; at the foot of one of the windows of the Pokemon Center there was what seemed like a small red pile, which happened to be moving. Inyssa kneeled in front of it, her curiosity taking the better of her, and tried to identify what it was amidst the darkness.

"Oh, what the hell..." she whispered to herself after taking a closer look.

What looked like a pile to her was in fact a Pokemon. It was the size of her backpack and had a red tint all over her body, with two huge black eyebrows. The Kricketot was curled up in a ball, trembling and presumably trying to sleep in the cold. Her body was covered in scratches and other injuries, as if she'd been in a really ugly battle recently.

"What happened to you?" She extended a hand over the Pokemon but she recoiled from the touch, growling with the little strength she had. "Who did this to you?"

A shimmer caught her eye. At the side of the Kricketot two pieces of metal lay, covered in dirt. Inyssa picked them up; they appeared to be the two halves of a broken Pokeball. She held them in her hands, eyes narrowed and heat going up to her face. She knew exactly what it meant; this Pokemon had been abandoned.

Determined, she took off her overall and put it around the Kricketot, trying to keep her warm. She kept growling weakly, trying to get away from what she must have thought was someone who wanted to hurt her.

Inyssa struggled with keeping her on her arms on top of the chilling cold covering her entire body, "It's okay, please stop moving. I need to get you to the nurse, you're badly injured."

She didn't know if the Kricketot could hear her, but whether it was because she was running out of energy or because she decided to trust her, the Pokemon stopped moving. Inyssa could feel her breathing as heavy and irregular, and from up close her injuries looked even worse. She grit her teeth, horrified. Who could have done something like this?

"I am not going to hurt you," she said, voice full of determination. "I'll get you fixed up, you need to trust me."

The Kricketot slowly opened her eyes, staring directly at Inyssa. They were a pale, muddy green, and they emitted a warmth that reminded her of someone, of times long gone.

"In the meantime, you'll need a nickname." She gave the poor Pokemon her best friendly smile, which wasn't anything to write home about. "How about Shadi? I think it fits you."
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Journey Enthusiast
Chapter 5: Forest of Steel.

Even with the heater all the way up the Pokemon Center still felt cold to Inyssa. Sitting on one of the sofas across the counter her body was completely still, limbs frozen and hands not letting go of the cup of hot chocolate that the nurse had given her. Her muscles ached from not moving and she could feel her breathing slow and painful , the frigid air turning her lips and throat dry.

Her blinks came slowly as she moved her gaze from the door leading to the nursery and looked at Barry instead. He was in the couch across hers, body covered in a thick blanket she'd placed over him once he'd fallen asleep. She had promised him that she would do the same after finishing her drink, just to stop him from worrying so much. She had lied. The boy had found her only a couple minutes after she gave the injured Pokemon to the nurse, and for once in his life he held his tongue and simply kept her company while they waited.

The door opened, bathing her face with light and making her grunt like a sleepy Beartic. She could see the nurse's silhouette aproaching, so she made an effort to get up despite her body protesting.

"How's Shadi doing?" She spoke without thinking, and realized she'd never told the nurse that name. "I mean... how's Kricketot doing?"

The nurse showed her a gentle smile and whispered as to not wake up Barry, "Her wounds weren't that deep, so I think she'll be fine. Unfortunately she's still scared and might need to rest here for the night, as should you," she spoke with a warm, motherly tone.

"Can I talk with her?" She asked. "Or just stay with her?"

"Now now, you really should get yourself to bed." The woman put a hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eyes. "It will do you no good to stay up all night, young lady. You'll see her tomorrow morning, after eating a nice breakfast and having a full night's sleep as a developing trainer like you should."

Inyssa felt heat rushing to her face; she wasn't used to people being so nice to her. She would've liked it if it weren't against her current objective.

"Please, just this time." She made her best attempt at Poochyena eyes; although she wasn't as good at it as Barry. "It's just... she shouldn't be alone there, not if she's scared."

She could see the nurse's expression shifting, as if considering her options. Finally she closed her eyes and sighed, being defeated by the enchanting power of a sad, young seventeen year old girl.

"Fine," she frowned. "But don't tell anybody. I don't need all my rooms full of worried trainers."

She guided her to Kricketot's room while trying to avoid making too much noise. All around her there were kids like her and Barry sleeping on the big, comfy sofas, and a couple of them even held hands while resting, and as she noticed that suddenly Inyssa felt glad that the darkness of the room hid the color of her cheeks.

They entered the room, and her eyes had to adjust to the sudden light which felt like a hammer to the face. It was small, only enough room for a bed, a couple metal tables and a small chair next to where Kriketot was resting. She noticed the usual hospital smell trying to be concealed by what felt like an entire bottle of room fragance, which only made the place feel more uncomfortable. The Pokemon was tucked in with a white blanket, only her head in sight.

The nurse approached the Kricketot with hands behind her back, as to not appear hostile, "How are you feeling, sweetie? Sorry to bother you, but there's someone who wants to see you."

Inyssa awkwardly strolled towards the side of the bed, trying to make herself as unthreatening as possible. The Kricketot's eyes were wide open, staring at everything around her, and her body language suggested that she wanted nothing less than to run away. She could relate to that feeling.

"Hey there Sh... gal, how are you feeling?" She spoke in hushed tones, her voice rough and throaty.

Shadi averted her gaze from Inyssa, first looking at the nurse and then back to her. It was as if she wanted to tell her something.

"Oh, right." She turned toward the nurse and whispered in her ear. "Can I get a moment alone with her? No offense, but I think she'll be nervous if you're here."

"I understand," she nodded. "It was a pity but I had to use force to anesthetize her, so she'll have a hard time trusting me. Make sure you take care of her, all right?"

She waited until the nurse was gone, and then she sat in the chair next to the bed, letting out a big sigh. Both of them stayed still in silence until she finally got out the words she wanted to say.

"Look, I get it. I get how you're feeling." She tried to sound more confident than she was, for the Kricketot's sake. "You're scared. Someone you knew left you, and you don't know what to do. And yeah, it sucks."

She could feel her voice getting higher, and now the Pokemon was looking right at her, listening to every word.

"But the thing is, you shouldn't live fearing it to happen again. You can't let one or two horrible experiences shape you up as a person. Or... a Pokemon, I guess." She placed her palm against the side of her head. "Ugh, I have no idea what I'm saying, but trust me in that I know that you have to keep going. You have to prove to everyone who left you behind that they were wrong. The fear and rage that you're feeling, make it so they fuel you, or you won't be able to move on. And you'll just end up as a shell who doesn't care about anything and ends up driving away the few people you have left."

She could feel her face hotter than it was in the better heated room, but she didn't care. She had to say those words, because they were exactly what she would've needed to hear when she was younger. The Kricketot was now immobile, not shaking anymore, gaze set on her.

"So... just come with me, and I promise you that whatever you want to do, I'll help you do it." She extended her hand to the Pokemon. "Do you want to find your old trainer?"

The Kricketot narrowed her eyes for a moment, thinking, and finally moved her head from side to side.

"Then, do you want to come with me and defeat the Gym Leaders?"

Shadi extended her hand slowly, grabbing Inyssa's finger with it. She could see a weak smile on her face as she nodded. A devious, wonderful idea appeared on her mind, and she smiled.

"Do you want... to get away from here and head to Jubilife? No one will see us in the middle of the night."

The Kricketot's eyes gleamed, clearly enamoured with the idea, and Inyssa felt that she understood how she felt. Sure, Barry and the nurse would probably be worried and angry, and that might put her in trouble with Professor Rowan, but she didn't care. She wasn't going to sleep anyway.

"Welcome to the team, Shadi. Just hop in here and we'll be ready to go." She pointed at her backpack. "Come on, let's sneak out before anyone hears us."

The road through route 202 was completely deserted, both Pokemon and people having better things to do than running through it at five in the morning, that statement not including Inyssa or Shadi of course.

Sure, she was falling asleep on her feet and the weight of her new Pokemon on her shoulders was more than a little bothersome and she would probably have hypothermia by the time she arrived at the next city, but sometimes you had to live a little, she thought. Looking up, she could see plainly every known constellation (even if she couldn't recognize most of them), being far away from any source of light that would have obstructed such a beatiful view. Her lips formed a weak smile, and she started walking faster, feeling great despite her physical condition.

Shadi shifted on top of her backpack and her tiny feet scratched her side, "Kurii," she raised her short stubby arm and pointed at a particular point in the sky.

"That star is Ursa major, the constellation of Ursaring." She said with jovial tone as her eyes were set on the beauty of the cosmos. "I'm guessing you've never seen one of those since they're native from Johto."

"Ki-kurii!" Shadi nodded in agreement, and proceeded to point at another spot in the sky.

"That's... Mars, I think." Inyssa narrowed her eyes as she studied the red, shining dot. "Goddess of war and rage. It's actually a planet, not a star, but it still looks pretty."

Unfortunately the stars started disappearing and the sun showed itself across the sky by the time they reached Jubilife; both the dirt road and the grass around her were covered in dew, and the enormous metal gate leading to the city glistened with the morning light. She stopped for the first time in hours, and ignoring the pain in her feet she tried to memorize the detailed map that was pasted on to a sign along the entrance.

Jubilife TV? No, she hadn't watched television since they cancelled her favorite show; now she just watched online. Global Trade Center? She didn't have many Pokemon as it was and she wasn't going to get rid of them. Pokètch Co? She'd love to get one but she didn't have enough money, and she was not going to ask her mother for any more; that was out of the question.

Inyssa clinched her teeth, furious. So there was nothing worthy to do there? Not even a Gym? It was the biggest city in the region for god's sake!

"Who the hell designed this place!?" She angrily muttered to herself.

"Rii..." Shadi let out a sad growl and hid her face on Inyssa's coat.

She entered the town stomping her feet angrily, as if that would fix anything. There were quite a lot of people in the streets to her surprise; a bunch of business employees and blue collar workers were either going towards their jobs or getting away from a late nigh shift. Between her tired, dead eyes and her fancy overcoat that made her look way more classy than she was, she fit right in with all of them. Looking up, all she could see were endless blocks of concrete that were the buildings of the city, almost blocking the sky. The entire color of the town seemed to be dull grey, and there wasn't much brightness in the places around she could see. She walked through the busy streets, looking for the Pokemon Center, and she only found one small green park, which seemed to be mostly for decoration.

"Mental note: never come back here again," she whispered, voice drier than ever. "Sorry Shadi, guess this isn't much of a tour anymore."

The Kricketot let out another small growl, and Inyssa noticed she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. Warmth made its way from her chest outwards as she allowed herself to show the bug Pokemon a sweet smile.

She took out a Pokeball from her pocket and presented it to her, "Wanna take a nap? I promise we'll do something fun when you wake up."

Shadi stared at the artifact for what seemed like an entire minute, her eyes dull and colorless, until she decided to poke the button with one of her tiny fingers. A beam of light swallowed her body as she disappeared into the Pokeball, which wiggled three times and then stood still in Inyssa's hands. She put it in her belt next between Enma's and Steven's as she resumed her walking, this time without the extra weight or the happiness of having someone with her.

The more she strolled through the place the more she realized the map she saw at the entrance wasn't on scale; the city was enormous and she had no idea where she was. She could've asked someone in the streets for direction, but with how much everyone looked like zombies she thought that may not be the best idea.

After a couple minutes of walking she was stopped by a large man in a blue suit and black hat. He was quite tall and smiled in a way that told her he must been some sort of salesman.

"Well, well, well!" He had a grating voice that made Inyssa grit her teeth. "You are a new Pokemon trainer, aren't you? And yet you don't have a Pokétch!"

"Oh what the hell now."

He stroked his mustache, altough in a much more grandiose way than Rowan, "You are quite the rare trainer indeed. But do not worry, I can get you one Pokétch with just..."

"Look buddy, I'm not interested in buying a second hand watch for double the original price."

"Ah, you must be confusing me for a dirty retailer! No no no, I am the president of the Pokétch Company! I'm the real deal, young trainer." He tipped his hat to her and smiled once more.

"I'm still not impressed."

"In any case!" He spoke up, ignoring her comment. "As part of a partnership with the League Association, we are now giving free Pokètchs to all new trainers! What do you think of that?"

"That it's either a terrible business strategy or our taxes are being used for much stupider things than I thought," she said, almost falling asleep on her feet.

"Yes, it is a great idea!" The man nodded. "And now I present this opportunity to you! And all you have to do to get a new exclusive Pokétch is play a minigame! Around the city there are three mischievous clowns, and all you need to do is..."

She raised her hand at the man and he stopped talking, "No. Whatever you were about to suggest, just no. You lost me at clowns. Either give the Pokétch or go bother someone else."

The huge man stopped smiling and sighed, shoulders down. He seemed much smaller when he wasn't doing the salesman act.

"Fine... You can just take the Pokétch." He grabbed a small, pink package from his pocket and gave it to her. "James from marketing was probably right, the clowns were a terrible idea."

"Clowns are always a bad idea, regardless of context," she whispered as she spun the box on her hands. "Do you have it in another color? Maybe purple or green?"

"Huh? What do you mean another color? It's pink! We made pink ones for the girl trainers and blue ones for the boys!" He smiled, as if he'd just explained something extremely obvious.

"Wow, you sure have an understanding of the current youth," she said, voice dripping with sarcasm. "Kids love being color coded by their perceived genders. It's a new fad."

He smiled smugly, and tipped his hat once more. "Well thank you. I appreciate your insight into our marketing strategy, young lady. Have a good journey!"

And with that he disappeared, leaving Inyssa in the middle of the town completely confused and with a new tech device.

"Those were five minutes of my life I'll never get back," she said to no one. "Oh well, who cares."

After a couple of minutes of aimless wandering she decided that continuing forward was not only foolish, but also phisically impossible. With a huge sigh she let herself fall on one of the generic benches around the streets. She threw her head back, and closed her eyes due to the pain in her feet. Being a starter trainer was tough, she tought. Maybe when she had more badges she could use Steven to fly her to places, but for now she had to do all of her traveling by foot. For a moment she wished she had attended the gym classes back when she was in school.

Her eyes started to feel heavy. She didn't want to fall asleep, but her body was betraying her. Maybe just five minutes, she thought. Then she could find the Pokemon Center and have a nice bed to rest in and wow having her eyes closed and not moving sure felt nice. Maybe she could just...

"Inyssa? Is that you?"

She got up like a spring, wildly swinging her arms to anything nearby.

"AH! NO I'M NOT ASLEEP GET AWAY FROM ME CREEP!" She screamed, half concious and eyes almost closed.

When she finally stopped she could see that the person in front of her was not a creep, but in fact a very terrified Lucas. The boy's face was pale, his body frozen due to Inyssa's odd behavior. She stood still, staring directly at him, and could feel her face getting red.

"Oh. Hey Lucas." She tried to sound casual. "I was just... resting. These benches are really comfortable." She lied, the pain in her back killing her.

The boy gave a small nod, and stammered as he spoke, "G... greetings. I'm sorry, I just saw you here and thought you might be hurt or something."

"Well, I'm not tecnically hurt," she said, hand on the back of her head. "Anyway, what are you doing here? Aren't kids supposed to be in bed at this time?"

Lucas frowned, not sure if taking that as an insult or just Inyssa being Inyssa.

"It's eleven in the morning, you must have fallen asleep for a while," he said. "And I'm seventeen and three quarters, for your information."

She opened her eyes wide, not believing what she was hearing, "Wait... you're older than me!? But you're like... a cute little Pancham. You don't look like a teenager at all!"

"C...cute?" The boy whispered, a soft pink covering his cheeks.

Inyssa froze, painfully aware of what she'd just implied, "Don't... listen to me, I'm sleepy." She shrugged it off, trying to hide her blushing. "So... do you know where the Pokemon Center is?"

"Yeah. I can take you there... if you want." He averted his eyes.

"Awesome," she said, tone dry. "Lead the way."

The boy showed her the way in his Pokètch while they walked, and in the meantime he taught her how to use her new device, including GPS, party tracker and a lot of other strange apps that she only half paid attention to Lucas' explanation of how they worked. But even with their idle chitchat Inyssa could feel that the boy was nervous because of something, and she didn't think it was because of the cute comment.

"So... ummm..." the boy spoke up, voice barely above a whisper. "Hey Inyssa, I wanted to talk to you about... I mean I wanted to say that I'm... that you're... you..."

"Just spit it out man. And call me Niss."

He sighed as he dropped his shoulders, "I'm sorry, Niss. Back in the trainer school, I didn't mean to..."

"I only needed those first two words." She formed a tired smile. "It's okay, no offense taken. Let's just pretend it didn't happen and we'll both be golden, okay?"

He opened his eyes wide, fingers nervously playing with each other, "R-really? Are we... cool?"

"Sure. The way I see it, we'll probably run into each other a lot in our journey, with you being Rowan's little elf helper," she smirked. "So let's just be on good terms, it's much less awkward that way."

"That sounds good," Lucas nodded. "Wow, that wasn't as bad as I thought. You sound much more mature than you look."

Inyssa gave the boy a pat in the back, and suddenly thought of something as her lips curved into a sly smile.

"Yeah, about that." She pretended to be thinking about something. "How did you know my age before? Are you stalking me or something?"

"What! No!" The boy's ears turned red, and he looked at her horrified. "I was just... I saw it when I was making your trainer card! I'm not a creep, I wasn't..."

"Come on man, I'm just messing with you." She let out a fruity laugh, which eased the pain a little bit. "You're easily riled up, eh?"

"Yeah, look who's talking." He frowned, adjusting his hat as he tried not to look at her. "Besides, I'm not... wait! Look out!"

Something crashed against her body and sent her towards the ground. She landed on her arm, altough luckily not with enough force to harm it. Though that didn't mean it didn't hurt like a *****.

"Augh, come on!" She grunted, face to the ground, "I just want to sleep on a bed."

"Hey, watch where you're going!" She could hear Lucas yelling to someone, while he tried to get Inyssa to her feet.

She stood up slowly, and noticed two weirdly dressed men only feet from her. They were wearing bizarre body suits with a yellow G in the middle, and they both had strange dyed hair with the same style. I must definitely be dreaming now, Inyssa thought.

"Get out of our way, kids!" One of them yelled, turning his hand into a fist. "We have places to go."

The other elbowed his partner, "Stop yelling at them, we have to hurry! Come on, we have to get to the professor before he reaches the Trainer School!"

Both of the men ran away north, leaving the kids dumbfounded.

"Did... did they mention the professor?" Lucas frowned, still trying to help Inyssa. "Are they talking about Rowan!? He was supposed to head to the school now, are they going to attack him!?

"Oh great, now this," Inyssa whispered to herself, cursing every single deity in existence. "Let me guess, we have to go help him, don't we?"

Lucas took out a Pokeball from his pocket, "I'll go! You can stay in the Center and rest."

"And let you defend the professor? Sorry, but I'm the trainer here," she did the same, brow furrowed. "Besides, I'm really angry now. I need to take this out on someone."

And with that they followed the strangely dressed men, determined to kick some oddly dressed butts.
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Journey Enthusiast
Chapter 6: Thorny Cooperation

If nothing else, running through the city in pursuit of what Inyssa thought were circus performers certainly managed to wake her up a bit. She was still convinced that at least part of what was happening wasn't real, but decided to go along with it nonetheless.

She wondered if this is what it felt like to take a dose of Gloom acid; if so she wasn't impressed. Behind her Lucas was having a hard time keeping up; his face was completely red as he tried to keep his beret in place with both hands.

"Hurry up!" She yelled. "We're about to lose them and I'm not looking through the entire city again!"

"I can't... my legs are shorter than yours!" Lucas responded through gasps. "Besides, we know they're going towards the Trainer School, they mentioned it before."

She moved her head to the side to look at the boy, "Oh, I haven't been listening for hours. Also, why are you looking at my legs?"

"Agh, stop doing that!"

Inyssa smiled to herself and moved her gaze forward. As fun as teasing Lucas was, she had to keep her eyes on the road if she didn't want to face-plant the asphalt. They took a right in one of the street intersections and ran for almost a minute, until they saw the two men standing a block away from where they were. A tall, burly man with a brown overcoat stood between them; Rowan's eyes studied the two, without any trace of fear in his expression. Behind him were the steps to Jubilife City's trainer school, the biggest Inyssa had ever seen.

"Now, now! Professor Rowan, I'm afraid you'll have to comply to our demands." The tallest one pointed a finger at the professor. "Hand over all of your research, now. Of course, it's in the name of the charitable science of Team Galactic, so it'll be for free."

The other one elbowed his partner, his chubby face red with anger, "Oh my god Janus, stop explaining our plans you dumbass! This is why Mars never sends us in missions!"

"Oh... yeah, you're right." The man named Janus bit his finger, brow furrowed. "Sorry Dione, I just wanted to sound cool."

"It's okay, you can be yourself with me." Dione gave him a pat on the back, and turned to the professor. "Give us your papers now! Or we'll have to use force," he brought a Pokeball out of his Pocket, and his partner did the same.

Inyssa and Lucas cought up to them, standing just a couple feet from the two grunts. The boy had to put his hand on his knees to catch his breath, his face flushed and covered in sweat, something Inyssa would've found funny if it weren't for the current threat in front of them. She helped him back to his feet and they both grabbed their respective Pokeballs, the boy's one being a worn out Cherish Ball.

"Professor, we're here!" Lucas shouted, both arms raised. "Don't worry, we won't let them hurt you!"

Inyssa gave him a small nod, too tired to be polite, "Hey, Rowan."

The grown man adressed the kids, his mustache twisting into a small smile. He grabbed his hat and bowed to both of them, completely ignoring the strange men.

"Ah, kids! Nice to see you again." He passed right between the two of them, to their befuddlement. "How is your Pokedex going, Inyssa? Are you enjoying your journey so far?"

"It's okay, though it could use more beds," she shrugged. "My journey I mean, not the Pokedex. That's going fine too, I already have four Pokemon."

"I see. And you only got your starter a day ago, very impressive." His eyes gleamed. "Perhaps being a trainer is second nature to you?"

Inyssa blushed; even though her brain was half asleep she could still appreciate being praised by the professor. The two grunts on the other side didn't seem too pleased by being ignored; the one who called himself Dione looked about ready to explode from rage.

"Oh professor, why must you be so difficult?" Janus spoke, voice low and rich. "I am warning you, we are not to be taken lightly."

Dione growled, pointing at him with his Pokeball, "Do what we say before things get ugly!"

Rowan's eyes narrowed, and for the first time Inyssa saw a speck of annoyance cross his face. He turned around slowly towards the grunts, his presence as intimidating as a Tyranitar.

"Quiet. Stop being such a nuisance," he ordered, shadows covering the space between his eyes. "I am attempting to socialize with my students, and your interruption is very impolite. You shouldn't raise your voice just because you are getting impatient," he told the shorter of the grunts. "And you shouldn't think yourselves strong because you are in a group. Moreover, what's with those outlandish costumes you're wearing? If you want to be intimidating, you should consider dressing with more class." The two men Rowan was speaking to seemed to shrink after the man's speech. "And you call yourselves adults? What a disgrace. Kids! Don't grow up to be like these bafoons."

Inyssa smiled from ear to ear. If only she could roast people with such skill, "Sir, you are the most amazing old man I've ever met."

"Don't you have a verbal filter!?" Lucas shook her shoulder, eyes open wide in embarassment. "It's okay sir, you can count on me to grow up to be a respectable adult like you!"

"Alright, that's enough! I'm sick and tired of being ignored!" Dione threw his Pokeball into the air, and a second later his partner did the same.

Light erupted from both as small figures began to form; the first was a grey cat with a crescent shaped head and a coiled tail, the other one a tiny green bulb with short legs. The Glameow's eyes were narrowed, and she was looking at everyone around her as if she were bored. The Budew simply smiled and danced in place, unaware of what was happening. Rowan narrowed his eyes, turning toward his students.

"Kids: take them out for me, please. I don't currently have my Pokemon with me; not that I would need them to deal with them, but I would like to see you two in action."

They nodded and stepped forward, determination burning in their eyes. It didn't matter how much of a wimp these guys were, if Rowan was watching then they were going to give it their all. Lucas sent his Turtwig to battle; the small grass Pokemon growled the moment he came out of the Pokeball, staring at his opponents defiantly. Inyssa deliberated for a second, and after thinking about it she threw Steven's Pokeball in the air; the bird Pokemon came out doing a little twirl, as if he were in the middle of a performance.

"These stolen Pokemon are weak, but they should be enough for this battle," Janus observed. "Budew, Stun Spore on the Starly!"

"Not a chance, freak! Use Double Team!" Inyssa ordered Steven, who stopped doing his twirls for a moment to follow her trainer's order; but just when he flew off and started copying himself the short grunt spoke.

"Glameow, use Fake Out on him!"

The cat Pokemon disappeared in a flash, so fast that Inyssa could barely follow her movements. In the blink of an eye she appeared in front of Steven; and before the bird could react she slapped him on the face, stunning him. The small distraction, while not doing much damage was enough for the Budew's spores to reach him. The Starly started coughing, and his flight became slower and lanky.

"Son of a...!" She exclamed, gritting her teeth. She turned around to her partner, elbowing him to action. "What are you waiting for!? Attack one of them!"

Lucas gulped, his legs trembling. Slowly he raised one of his fingers and pointed it at the Budew, "R-right! Archimedes, use Tackle on him!"

The turtle Pokemon ran as fast as he could towards the Budew, and with a big thumping sound he send him flying a few feet with his attack.

"What are you doing?" She questioned him. "Attack the cat! Budew already did all he's going to do this battle, there's no point in focusing him right now!"

Lucas lowered his head to the girl, avoiding her eyes. "I'm sorry! I'm just not used to this..."

"Then maybe you should spend some more time with Pokemon instead of just reading about them." She stomped the ground, forcing the boy to take a step back. "Ugh, whatever. Steven, Wing Attack on the Glameow!"

"Knock him out of the sky with Scratch, darling," Janus ordered calmly.

Starly flew high up and dropped from the sky towards the Glameow, compensating for his lack of speed with the momentum of his fall. Inyssa smiled, the small bugger was pretty smart. His wings started glowing white, and his eyes were set on his opponent, ready to strike. The cat Pokemon crouched, preparing herself to jump at the right moment.

Steven was only inches away from the Glameow when the paralysis took hold and he felt his wings not responding. His opponent gave him a sly smile and jumped like lighting towards him, claws out. With a resounding hit she sent the bird Pokemon flying towards the floor, where he collapsed. The Starly was still concious, but he was badly hurt and struggling to get up.

"Good job, small one." Janus smiled brightly. "Now finish him off! Then we can take care of the boy."

"You too Budew, use Absorb on him!"

Both Pokemon launched their attacks at the same time, racing towards Steven with the intent to kill. Inyssa's heart skipped a beat, and she started looking desperately through her bag for Steven's Pokeball. She hadn't expected to need it, she thought the battle would be a piece of cake...

"Archimedes, Protect him!"

The Turtwig threw himself in front of Steven, taking both hits directly. He managed to stand his ground, being able to resist attacks much better than the Starly. He stomped his feet and growled aggressively towards his opponents, eyes full of fire.

"I'm not dead weight, and you shouldn't leave me out of this." A blushed formed on Lucas' cheeks. "A-and you should stop being such a jerk sometimes! Archimedes, Razor Leaf!"

Archimedes' back started glowing, and from it emerged a torrent of sharp, glowing leaves. The projectiles flew through the air like arrows, too fast to dodge. Glameow and Budew were ruthlessly pelted all over, their bodies now covered in cuts and scratches.

"I... you..." Inyssa didn't know what to say, she hadn't expected Lucas to stand up to her. "Like I care what you think of me. Steven, Wing Attack again!"

Starly finally got on his feet, covered in dirt and with a notable cut across his chest. He flapped his wings and flew up, determined not to let that Glameow humilliate him again. With the wind behind him he once again dropped directly towards the cat Pokemon, pain covering his entire body. His wings glowed once more, this time so brightly that they were blinding.

The attack shook the ground, sending dust everywhere from the impact point. When it cleared Inyssa could see Steven barely able to stand, one foot on top of a now unconscious Glameow. There was a gleam of pride in the bird's eyes.

Janus's smile dissapeared, and he returned the Glameow back to her Pokeball, "Well, that was disappointing."

"****! That was terrible!" Dione took a look at his grass Pokemon, and threw his Pokeball to the ground. "Screw this, there's no way to win now, these Pokémon are useless! Janus, we're getting out of here now."

"Oh man, Mars is going to be so disappointed."

Inyssa cringed at the sight of that jerk abandoning his Pokemon like that. A part of her knew that it was stolen, but she didn't care in the slightest.

"Hey, come back here! I'm not done with you two incompetent cosplayer losers!" She took out Enma's Pokeball, ready to continue the fight. "You're not escaping on my watch, not after leaving that Budew behind!"

She took a step forward, despite the professor and Lucas' complaints that she should calm down. She was about to let Enma out when something came out of the bushes near them, and flew towards the grunts fast as lightning.

"Here I come you jerks prepare to- Oh shoot!" Inyssa's blonde friend tripped a few feet from them, going straight towards the floor between Inyssa and the two grunts. "Ugh... that didn't work like I planned."

Inyssa and Lucas froze in shock, and Rowan simply raised an eyebrow at the boy's flashy entrance. The girl kneeled in front of him and helped him get up, still not understanding what had happened. When she looked towards where the two men where now there was only a single Pokemon; the Budew was still happily dancing, not aware that his owners had fled.

"Hello again Barry," Inyssa whispered in his ear, voice full of poison. "So, do you want me to kill you now or later?"

He gave her a sour look and shook his arm away from her grasp.

"Kill me? That's weird, I would've thought you would just leave me behind and run away in the middle of the night. Oh wait, you already did that," Barry put his face so close to hers that she could count his freckles. "Wanna explain that, Niss? I had to run double time to catch up with you here! I barely had time to find those clowns to get my new Pokétch!"

Inyssa opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out. A wave of shame washed over her as she lowered her head and tried to avoid her friend's eyes.

She didn't have an excuse. Not for him.

She raised both her hands dismissively, "Alright, let's say we're even."

"Oh no, you're not getting out of this one that easily," Barry bopped her in the nose so suddenly that she was stunned. "You owe me all your money now. You can pay me once you're the Champion."


Both kids looked up to Rowan, who was watching them intently, the shadow of a smile across his face.

"Nice to see you join us Barry, though next time please choose a more formal method of introducing yourself." He tipped his hat to the boy. "As for Lucas and Inyssa, that was an excellent battle. You could still improve your teamwork, though."

Both kids looked at each other, and Inyssa frowned and stuck her tongue out at him.

"Oh yeah, what was that about?" Barry asked, looking in the direction the two grunts escaped towards. "Who were those guys?"

"They introduced themselves as Team Galactic," Rowan mentioned, curling his mustache. "I don't recognize the name, but they were interested in my research papers, so they must be working on something related to that."

Lucas frowned, making a face that was unquestionably adorable, "You mean your research regarding Pokemon evolution? They could be trying to learn what you discovered about that energy that Pokemon release when they evolve..."

"And you lost me again," Inyssa whispered, all the excitement from the previous battle gone.

"It could be," Rowan nodded. "But we should not worry about that right now. You two should continue on your journey, and Lucas must accompany me towards my lab again. I have some thinking to do."

"Yes sir, about that..." Lucas scratched his ear, embarrassed. "Can I talk to you about something later?"

"Of course Lucas, whatever you want," Rowan looked at Barry and Inyssa, and tipped his hat to them. "Goodbye children, I hope we meet again under better circumstances."

The youngsters both bowed to the man as he walked away with Lucas. After a couple seconds Inyssa turned away and put Steven back in his Pokeball, she then approached the happy dancing Budew, and grabbed the other Pokeball in the ground next to him.

"Well, I guess I have to take care of you little buddy," she said, and the Budew jumped towards her, smiling. "Great, another misfit for my team. Welcome aboard, Bret."

And with that she put him back in the ball, leaving only Barry left with her. She stood there for a while, not wanting to turn around and look at him.

"So hey, how's your team doin..." She started speaking but was quickly interrupted.

"Don't do that again," His voice was devoid of any humor, and his expression was unreadable. "I was worried. I thought something happened to the Kricketot and you."

Inyssa's lip trembled, and she felt that she had a block of ice in her chest. She sighed, and put a hand behind her head, adjusting her hat.

"I... felt that I had to get out of there." Her voice came out wavy and weak, barely above a whisper, "and Shadi too, she wanted to travel with me. You would've just objected to it. I just... sometimes I have to go away, you know that."

Barry smiled weakly, but she could see the hurt in his eyes, clear as crystal.

He streched his arms to appear calm and smiled widely, "That's okay, we all need some alone time now and then. Just, next time leave a note or something, jeez."

Inyssa walked towards him, and smiled as brightly as she could. She wanted to say sorry, she wanted to hug him and tell him she did trust him, she wanted to tell him so many more things than it would be smart to. She knew what happened when you didn't appreciate the people around you, and yet...

She gave him a pat in the back, not looking him in the eyes.

"Wanna come with me to the Pokemon Center?" She asked, voice almost estinto. "We can grab something to eat, and maybe I can get some rest for once."

"Yeah, sounds good," Barry replied, and from so close she realized that his voice felt deeper than before, "I'm starving, and it's your turn to pay."
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Name's Adam.
Chapter 1 Review

I must say, the opening of this chapter got me pretty interesting in what the rest of it had to offer. It raises a lot of questions and keeps one wanting to know more.You should be careful with this trope however, as it can hurt the impact of some scenes leading up to that specific moment. Like if a character in the future scene is shown dying in a chapter leading up to the scene. We'll already know they'll survive, which takes away from the emotional impact.

That aside, your use of description is good. I also enjoyed reading Niss' interactions with the characters, and you can tell they've been friends for a long time with Barry.

I'll return to this story again in the future to see how it goes.


Journey Enthusiast
DreamSayer: Thank you so much for the feedback! I hope you'll continue to enjoy the fic :D


Chapter 7: Smoke and Ash
Route 206 - 1 PM:

She never thought she'd find herself driving a stolen bike while being pursued by a criminal organization she used to be a part of. Fate was funny that way.

What wasn't funny was the three foot flying creature which dived at her at that moment, its poisoned claws barely missing her back as she made a sudden turn right. The wheels screeched and growled as the brakes tried to stop them from crashing against the handrail of the bridge, which would've sent her plummeting to her untimely, ironic death.

Choking on a curse, she stepped hard on the pedal and accelerated, the hills at both sides of the bridge becoming a blur of green and brown. One more minute, that's all she needed. If she could only get to the other side of it...

"The Crobat is approaching from the left. We will not be able to dodge this time."

Or maybe she'd just die right there. That certainly would solve all her problems in a very drastic manner.

"I'm on it," she whispered to herself. "Lend me some power."

Her right hand, horribly callused and numb, grabbed onto the grip as strongly as she could while she rotated her waist, looking up at the purple bat. His four wings moved so fast they were almost invisible and his fangs were bared, eyes set on her. The horrible creature did a barrel roll and once again dived in her direction.

It was fast, really ****ing fast. She held her breath and her entire body clenched in anticipation. Just a little more, he had to be at the right distance...

Once she could see the hostile gleam in his eyes she raised her left hand towards him, and her entire body glowed gold. A stream of psychic energy was expelled from her hand, clashing against the Crobat like a hammer. His wings froze as he was expelled backwards, disappearing in the distance.

She allowed herself a proud smile. That Crobat was the fastest of Saturn's Pokemon, if he couldn't keep up with them...

"Right ahead! Look out!"

She was too late by the time she managed to turn around. Her eyes set on a bell shaped creature that stood not too far from them, floating in the middle of the air. Its metalic body shone with a white glow as the round hole in it's stomach gathered light.

Of course, Teleport.

"Son of a..."

The screech of metal against metal rang in her ears as it shot a torrent of light towards them. She felt her body being lifted from the bike as the attack swallowed it whole.

Her eyes focused on the sky above, and then in the floor as she fell into it. The impact made her ears buzz and she felt something warm running through her nose to her upper lip. Something red, as she discovered once she opened her eyes.

"That was close."

She wanted to reply something not very polite to the voice, but instead she willed her limbs to move. They eventually did, after she told them that acting as if they were made of jelly would not be acceptable right now. Death was not acceptable. Not until she finished her mission.

She noticed the charred remains of the bike a few feet ahead, through the blur that was her vision. Slowly she got up, one leg at a time, and tried her best to focus on the enemy in front of her. The metallic creature was still floating there, and it still looked like a giant blue bell with two arms and red dots at the bottom which might've been its eyes. So she hadn't imagined that after all.

"You did a good job getting so far."

The voice caught her off guard, mostly for the familiarity of it. A short man stood next to the strange Pokemon, hands behind his back. He wore a modified version of the Team Galactic uniform, with a long grey tunic and black pants that reached to his ankles. His dark blue hair was combed backwards in a crescent shape, and his droopy eyes were focused entirely on hers.

"But I think it's time you give up this pointless insurgence. Give me back what you stole, Ursa."

She recoiled at the sound of her old name, its two syllabes burning the inside of her chest. Of course they had to send Saturn himself to hunt her down, she should've known so ever since she ran away from the base. Still, she'd hoped they wouldn't have a need for the second in command until they deemed the situation to be that of life or death.

Then again, the boss had always been a savvy guy. He must've known that every second she was away meant another chance for her to interfere.

"Keep him occupied. I can gather enough energy to teleport us out of here but you need to gain some time."

She laughed. A dry, bitter laugh that ended up serving as one of defiance without her realizing. Saturn raised an eyebrow.

Well, it's not like she had anything better to do. Preferable to die while telling your enemies to **** off than doing nothing.

"You really think you can hold me here by yourself?" she shook her head, "I took out every single grunt you sent to find me. With this thing at my side there's nothing you can do to me."

She saw Saturn's shoulders raise slightly, and his eyes narrowed. She smiled; no matter how much he tried to emulate the boss there was no doubt that her words were getting under his skin.

He raised his chin even higher, a look of disdain on his face, "Without its body the power you can extract from it is very limited, and you know that."

"I'm good at rationing," she smiled coyly. "Wanna flip that coin? Trust me, I have enough juice left to blow up this entire bridge with you in it"

An outrageous lie; not even in peak form could she accomplish such a feat. Still, Saturn didn't seem to know that and she saw the way his foot moved backwards slightly, as if he wanted to take a step back. The floating behemoth behind him let out a metallic growl.

"Why are you doing this, Ursa?" he whispered only loud enough for her to listen. There was a plea in that voice, a sadness that she wasn't able to ignore. "Why turn away from what we've given you? We were your family. I cared for you as if you were my sister."

She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. Something was forming a knot in her throat, and that very same something was grabbing at her heart and squishing without holding back.

"Come on, just a bit more time. Keep this up."

The voice, as annoying as it was, gave her enough strength to respond. With wetness forming in her eyes she opened her mouth to speak.

"What can I say? I'm in my rebellious phase." She did her best to smile again. "You're not gonna get me back, Saturn. I've seen what you people are planning and I'd die before I let it happen."

The man took a step forward, stomping the ground as his hands appeared from behind his back, turning into fists. "What we are planning is for the good of all! A new world, one free of everything that holds us back! How could..." his voice shook, as well as his lower lip. "Ursa, how could you betray something as beautiful as that? How could you choose to side with them? I thought you understood..."

"I'll end Team Galactic with my own hands," she growled back. "And my name isn't Ursa, it's Metchi!"

She defiantly took a step forward, the voice ringing inside her head.

"What are you doing? That's the opposite of distracting him!"

"If... if that's the road you choose..."

Saturn inhaled deeply, and when he opened his eyes again they had changed into a cold, deep intensity that froze her where she stood. He raised his thin right arm and pointed his index finger at her.

"Blowing up the bridge, was it? I belive that will be a fitting end for you."

Metchi realized at that point just how much she'd ****ed up. The bell Pokemon extended its arms outwards and pointed its stomach once again towards her, gathering light until she was almost blinded by it.

"Bronzong, Flash Cannon! Let this sacrifice be in the name of Team Galactic!"

It fired the attack before she had time to react, and all she saw was white as the light started to envelop her body.


With the voice came that golden glow again. Her body shifted and dissipated into thin air just moments before it could be incinerated by Bronzong's attack.

Her entire being evaporated, and everything turned black.

Route 203 - 9 AM:

On one hand, Inyssa thought Pokemon Centers were great for starting trainers. One could use them as a free hotel, the food was cheap and the staff was sickeningly sweet to everyone. On the other hand, free pancake Sundays meant that Barry had to be dragged away when it was finally time to leave the city. The nurse had felt so bad for the boy that she let him take a plate full of pancakes for his travels, along with a fork and honey.

"I've never been more embarrassed in my life," Inyssa spoke under her breath, after about an hour of not talking to her friend.

"Look Niss, the point of a Pokemon journey is to try new things and explore the world," Barry explained himself, walking through the grassy route while still holding the plate, "and the world presented me free pancakes; what did you expect me to do?"

She sighed deeply, earning herself a small pat from the Kricketot walking at her side, "Try to act like a respectable human being for once?"

"Life's an adventure Niss, and I'm gonna throw myself right at it, face first," he clenched his fist in front of him, eyes closed.

They were almost at the entrance of the Oreburgh Gate when something emerged from the grass in front of them. A small, cub-like Pokemon was staring directly at them, yellow eyes sparking. The Shinx seemed to want a fight.

"Oh hey, look at this little guy," Barry spoke with food in his mouth. "You think he wants pancakes?"

Inyssa noticed something touching her leg; behind her Shadi was hiding from the Shinx, eyes closed and arms strongly grabbing her trainer.

She got on her knees to be on her level, and put one hand over her head. "You okay there? You don't have to fight if you don't want to."

It took Shadi a long time to respond. Her small hands were shaking, but little by little she walked forward until she was standing in front of Inyssa and facing the Shinx.

"You're really brave. I'm glad you're my Pokemon," Inyssa complimented the Kricketot, knowing very well she needed all the encouragement possible. "Hey Barry, you don't mind if I get this one?"

"I can't eat and fight at the same time," he shrugged.

The Shinx did not seem amused by their idle chat; as soon as Inyssa had looked away he began running toward Shadi, eyes flashing maliciously. She didn't have much time to react, but luckily Inyssa had a plan.

"Shadi, use Bide!"

The Kricketot took a deep breath and planted her feet firmly on the ground, preparing herself for the impact. The tackle coming from the Shinx hit her dead in the stomach, only slightly budging her.

"Wow, that thing is tough," Barry commented between bites.

"Darn straight she is, you should be worried," she smiled, a spark of pride flowing through her. "Use Bide one more time! Come on, you can do it!"

The Shinx took a couple of steps back, realizing that his attacks weren't doing enough damage. He stood still for a second, thinking. His body started glowing yellow and the air around him sparkled with power. Once again he ran towards the Kricketot, this time covered in a mantle of electricity.

"Oh ****, he knows Spark," Inyssa whispered."I mean, you can do this Shadi! Just stand your ground!"

The clash was enough to lift the bug Pokemon off her feet, sending her to the ground. She was still for a moment, but after a few seconds she pushed herself to her feet. Her body was now glowing red, energy coming from every pore of her body.

"That's the spirit! Now hit him with all you've got!"

Shadi focused all her energy into her head, and with a single jump she tackled the Shinx with enormous strength, almost burying him into the ground. When the dust settled Inyssa saw the small Pokemon laying completely unconscious, ready for catching.

"That was brutal," Barry said with worry pasted on his face. "Jeez, I definitely don't want to go against her."

Inyssa was about to speak when she noticed a glow behind her. Shadi was now covered in light so strong it was almost impossible not to look away; her body started changing, her torso getting slim and her arms extending greatly and becoming sharper until they were long enough to be scythes. Once the light subsided Inyssa could see her Pokemon's new form, along with her giant new mustache.

Inyssa patted her head, now being able to do that without being on her knees. "I had no idea you were so close to evolving, you look amazing!"

"She has scythes and a mustache?" Barry's expression was full of indignity. "Why do you get the best Pokemon!?"

"Because I'm the best trainer dummy," Inyssa replied while giving a hug to her Pokemon. "And I'm about to get another one too."

She walked towards the unconcious Shinx, and got a Pokeball from her backpack.

"Your name will be Kuro," she told him even though he couldn't hear her, "hope you like being with the best."

She threw the ball at the Pokemon, and after three wiggles it locked up, sealing the deal. She grabbed it from the ground and added it to her belt.

"Well I'd say that was a lovely turn of events," she said, enjoying Barry's worried expression. "Now let's go to Oreburgh, I feel ready to challenge the gym."

An hour later they exited the cave that connected the previous route with Oreburgh city. Inyssa had her hands on her eyes and was breathing heavily, while Barry guided her with his arms.

"I hate caves I hate caves I hate caves." Inyssa kept repeating under her breath, her body trembling, "Is it over now?"

"Yeah, we're past the cave," Barry gave her a pat in the head. "You could've mentioned before that you had claustrophobia you know."

"Well I didn't know it until now," she finally opened her eyes, and felt that she could breathe now that she was in the open. "I just hope there aren't many more of these in Sinnoh."

In front of them lay a giant stone gate, welcoming them to Oreburgh. As usual there was a small sign with a map that described all the important locations on the city.

"Let's see, we have a mining museum, we have the mines and we have... uh... some buildings, I guess," Barry exclaimed as he read the map.

"I don't want anything to do with mining ever again," Inyssa pushed him aside and studied the sign herself. "Oh come on, there's nothing worthwile here either!?"

"Hey, the museum might be..." Barry started talking, but he stopped himself with a sigh, "ah, who am I kidding, this place is boring."

Inyssa tried to ignore the heat coming to her face; she didn't want to admit it but she really expected someplace to have a nice lunch with Barry in the city, "Let's just go to the gym. I'll fight my frustrations away."

The trip through the city was quite depressing; Inyssa thought Jubilife was dull but at least it had some class to it. Oreburgh didn't even look like a place people might be interested to live in; it seemed like a city for workers, which was clear by the amount of miners running around everywhere. All the buildings were small and old, as if they'd been constructed a hundred years ago and they hadn't bothered making any more since.

They found the Gym before they expected it, only about fifteen minutes after they entered through the main road. It was a small, black building made of black rock, quite a lot smaller than the ones Inyssa had seen on TV.

"I feel like I've been lied to. This isn't nearly as cool as it should be."

"I mean... yeah it looks bad but it's only the first gym," Barry argued, hands behind his head. "We have to climb our way up to earn all the fancy stuff."

They walked up the steps until they reached the entrance; it was a simple metallic door without any windows to look inside. In front of the door there was a single person, a woman looking at her own hands, clearly bored.

"Sorry kids, but the leader isn't here right now," she said without even looking at them.

"W-what?" Inyssa couldn't believe what she was hearing. "But it's the middle of the day, it's supposed to be open until midnight!"

"Well tough bits, the man's not here," the woman shrugged. "What do you want me to do? He went to the mines to spend some time alone. If you want you can go and tell him to move his butt to work, then I can let you in."

Both kids angrily walked away from the gym, being denied the only thing they could possibly do in that city. Inyssa's ears were red and she seemed like she was about to explode.

"That's such bullshit! How can he not be here, the gym is his responsibility!" She yelled to no one. "He can't just go do whatever the hell he wants, it's his job!"

"I guess we'll have to go look for him," Barry sighed, looking down.

"And in the mines on top of it," she scratched her head through her cotton hat. "When I find him and I get his badge I'll shove it right up his..."

"Now now, that's not the language I expect from someone like you, Inyssa."

They spun around rapidly, not noticing that there was someone behind them. A middle aged woman was staring at the kids, with short black hair and blue electric eyes, a huge smile pasted on her face. Next to her was the man who'd just spoken. He was almost six feet tall, blonde and with spiky hair and a huge green overcoat. His eyes were full of the same energy as Barry's.

"Mom! Dad!" Barry yelled, jumping in place.

"Sarah? Palmer?" Inyssa narrowed her eyes. "What are you two doing here?"

"Well, we heard you two were about to reach Oreburgh and..." Sarah began to speak, but the man interrupted her.

"We came to spectate your first Gym battle of course!" His voice was even more booming than Barry's, and his pose was full of confidence. "It's a very important moment for a young trainer, and we wouldn't want to miss it."

"Oh my gosh that's amazing!" Barry's eyes became starry, and his smile was huge. "Thanks! I'll make sure to win my first battle for sure!"

"Well, I had to look for your father for hours, he's a hard fella to find," Sarah admitted, giving the stink eye to his husband. "But it's going to be worth it to watch you two battle here."

Inyssa smiled at her, although she didn't really feel like it. So Barry's parents had come to see him, she wondered if...

"Hey, Sarah..." She spoke barely above a whisper, embarrassed. "How's... have you talked to my mom recently?"

Both Palmer and Barry heard that and tried to look away in the least subtle way possible, which actually made her want to laugh, they were so alike. Sarah locked eyes with her, a compassionate smile on her face.

"She's been getting better," she put a hand on Inyssa's shoulder, "but she couldn't come with us, she said she was busy with her job."

"Yeah... I figured."

"Come on kid, let me see a smile!" Palmer clenched his fist strongly. "We came here to see you too, so you better not disappoint me! As an aspiring trainer I have to keep an eye on you if you ever wish to visit my Battle Facility."

Inyssa smiled, happy that she had a chance to change the subject.

"You better watch out Palmer, Barry and I are going to dethrone you pretty soon," she put her hand around her friend. "It's just a matter of time. Unfortunately the Gym Leader doesn't seem to want to work today; the receptionist told us he's down in the mines."

Palmer put a finger on his mouth, as if he was thinking of something.

"Ah yes, that would be Roark right? It doesn't surprise me that he's not at his post most of the time," He whispered contemplatively.

"What do you mean? What's wrong with him?" Barry asked.

"Huh? Oh, it's nothing, just family issues." He waved his hand dismissively. "Don't worry, I'll go talk to him and remind him of his status as a Gym leader."

"OH! OH! Can I come with you, dad!?" Barry grabbed his father's arm, shaking it strongly. "It could be like an adventure, just you and me!"

"Ah, but of course! It's been a while since we had some bonding time." He put his hand on Barry's shoulder with enough force to make him flinch. "I'll teach you a couple things that'll help you against your rival, I have a suspicion you'll need it," he winked at Inyssa. "You want to join us, battle girl?"

Inyssa smiled, and refused politely. She didn't want to interrupt Barry's time with his father; he didn't see him enough as it was. Besides, she wanted to spend some time with Sarah and ask her a few things.

"Alright then, to the mines!" Palmer pointed south, yelling at the top of his lungs. "Are you ready son? This is going to be intense!"

"I'm ready!" Barry looked like he had flames coming out of his eyes. "For glory!"

"For glory!"

They yelled together as they began to run toward the mines, looking like a couple of Tauros in the middle of a stampede.

"They're going to cause so much trouble," Sarah sighed.

Inyssa wanted to tell her that they could take care of each other, but knowing the two guys as well as she did she couldn't just lie to her like that.

"Yeah, they will," she admitted. "But at least they'll have fun. Come on, let's get some coffee while they run around."
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Gone. Not coming back.
Well, this is interesting! It's a familiar kind of opening, but one that I think you do quite well here, with lots of pleasantly mysterious things going on. After that, it's quite a surprise to return to the standard Platinum opening – although again, there are lots of hints about stuff in the offing: someone from Inyssa's life who isn't there any more, some kind of strain on the family relationships she has left. And true enough, there's a strained relationship with her mother (I like how you contrast the way her mother acts towards her and the way Barry's mother acts towards him, by the way) and a sister who was both an excellent trainer in whose shadow Inyssa has to live and has also gone missing. That's clearly going to come up again later, and there's probably going to be some sort of connection to this mysterious other plotline that we've got going on, so I'll look forward to seeing how all the dots join up.

Inyssa herself is really interesting – she bounces off Barry really well, and in fact it's quite easy at first to miss how similar she is to him just because he's more exaggerated than her. But they both have that heady kind of conceit that goes with childhood, which in Barry comes out as near-unquenchable exuberance and in Inyssa as a kind of mean cockiness – although Inyssa is quite possibly doing this in part to cover up the void left by her sister when she went missing. Someone who names a pokémon after their missing sister is … well, it doesn't strike me as the healthiest thing in the world, you know? That's definitely someone with issues.

Speaking of pokémon, I like the pokémon in this – they really have quite a lot of personality, which is something I always really love. So often in fic, pokémon are mere adjuncts to their trainers, but that definitely can't be said of Shadi, and if the other pokémon appeared more often, then I think it would apply to them, too. There are a lot of them, though, and I can't help but wonder how this all works, logistically. Inyssa has to look after and train all of these creatures, and even assuming she can do that as a rookie trainer, I think it's questionable whether the story can give each of them the proper amount of attention to let them develop as characters. Emna, for instance, has barely appeared in ages, despite being a really strong personality right at the start.

To get back to Inyssa for a moment, I really like the part when Lucas calls her out on her meanness; everyone has just kinda accepted it up till now – and honestly, I think that because we see her interior life and her talk with Shadi, it can kind of slide by the reader too, so it's good to force it out into the open by having her be a jerk to Lucas and, better yet, have him respond properly.
Also, while we're on the subject of the two of them, I really like that part where Inyssa's trying to help Shadi but really she's trying to convince herself. That's always a lovely device and I adore it to bits.

Your Cyrus is an interesting one. This is a particularly creepy take on him, which given your oeuvre I probably shouldn't have been surprised about, but I kinda was anyway. The cult he presides over seems different to the one we're familiar with from canon, too; they're darker and more serious – an entirely reasonable approach, given they are pretty much a millenarian apocalypse cult, and involved in some deeply weird stuff, with whatever it is that's happened to Metchi. Neat. Not much more to say about it all than that, at this point, but that's fine – it's still early days, and it's good to hold onto the mystery for now.

Some notes now from the latest chapter: interesting that Barry doesn't appear to react to the fact that Inyssa's called her kricketot Shadi; I wouldn't have thought he had the guile to hide his reaction to something like that, and I definitely would expect him to have a reaction. Speaking of that, Shadi gets an evolution! Wasn't expecting that, but maybe I should have – bug-types do evolve fast, after all. Wonderful stuff. You don't often see the kricketune line take a starring role in fic, so it's cool to see that now.

And, as is traditional, here are a list of nitpicks:

Relax. She told herself

There's a lot of this throughout the story – a lot of dialogue that doesn't quite interact right with the attributions or the narration. I won't pick out every example, because there's honestly too much, but here, for instance, there should be a comma after 'Real', and then 'she' should be lower-case. This particular mistake happens quite a few times.

over caffeinated at the moment”.

The full stop needs to be inside the quotation marks, not outside. Again, this happens multiple times.

they were branded each with with a sticker

I think it would read more naturally to say 'each branded' here.

it felt so real and heavy

Surely she's held a ball before? It seems like she's done a lot of practice battles, so I feel like she would be familiar with the heft of a poké ball by now.

nothing like waking up to your daughter telling you she's going away on a dangerous journey; That'd go well, she thought[/i.]

You can't connect the narration to the dialogue with a semicolon like that; these need to be two separate sentences.

considering the ocassion

That should be 'occasion'.

I made coffe, though it must be cold by now

That should be 'coffee'.

get me a couple of aspirines

That should be 'aspirins'.

the cristaline water was glistening against the light of the sun

That should be 'crystalline' and 'glistening in', rather than 'against'.

As for this girl … she barely had to aim to get the Bidoof

'She' needs to be capitalised here.

Wow … thanks, Niss,” he looked at her

You can't join dialogue to narration like this – again, this happens a lot. Unless it's specifically a dialogue attribution ('she said', etc) it should be punctuated like this:

Wow … thanks, Niss.” He looked at her

he smiled , though it was hard to see

You've got a superfluous space after 'smiled' here. This sentence is also another of those times where you've joined dialogue to narration in a way that doesn't work – 'smiled' can't act like 'said', so it should really be a separate sentence.

Inyssa noticed that The Trainer school looked

'The' shouldn't be capitalised here.

disrupting class to challenge my students is something I would normally be crossed about

That should be 'cross' rather than 'crossed' – you're describing the emotion, not the action.

growling with the small strenght she had

I think I'd say 'little' rather than 'small', and also you've misspelled 'strength' as 'strenght'.

She promised him that she would do the same

That should be 'She had promised'.

making her best attempt at Poochyena's eyes, altough she wasn't as good at it as Barry

The phrase 'puppy-dog eyes' isn't possessive, so nor should this – that should be 'Poochyena eyes'. You've also missed the H in 'although'.

“I can't say no to that face,”

This doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd say aloud to someone, even if you'd think it – especially to someone who isn't a lover or small child.

a couple of them even holded hands

That should be 'held'.

something that gave Inyssa a though that made her glad no one could see the color of her face

A word or two is clearly missing here; the sentence doesn't make sense.

she spoke with a jovial tone

This should be 'said', not 'spoke'; you can't quite use these words the same way. 'Speak' can't attach to dialogue the same way 'said' can (well, maybe it can in very specific circumstances, but mostly it can't), so here – and in a couple of other places – you should be using 'say instead'.

Godess of war and rage

'Goddess' should have two Ds. Also, Mars is a god – is there a reason you've changed that here? Because if not, it's an odd thing to edit just for a throwaway line.

she hadn't watched television since they cancelled her favourite show, now she just watched online

That should be a semicolon rather than a comma.

she was not going to ask her mother for any more, that was out of the question

Same here.

our taxes are being used for much stupider things that I thought

That should be 'than', not 'that'.

the clowns were a terrible idea.

The quotation marks are missing off the end of this bit of dialogue.

Kids love being color corded by their percieved genders.

That should be 'perceived'.

And with that, he dissapeared

That should be 'disappeared'.[/quote]

she wished she would've attended the gym classes

That should be 'she wished she had attended'.

she lied, the pain on her back killing her

That should be 'in', rather than 'on'.

"Glameow, use Fake out on him!"

'Out' should be capitalised here.

the house belonged to some old, kind lady

Archimedes' back started glowing, and from it emerged a torrent of glowing sharp leaves; the projectiles went flying towards Budew and Glamew too fast for them to dodge; both Pokemon endured the attack barely, covered in scracthes and cuts.

I think I'd say 'sharp, glowing' rather than 'glowing, sharp' – there's a specific order that adjectives take in English that's hard to define but easy to get wrong, and 'sharp' definitely comes before 'glowing'. Similarly, I'd say 'kind old' rather than 'old, kind'. I'd also say 'barely endured the attack', rather than 'endured the attack barely' – the way you've put it is really kind of awkward. Additionally, you've misspelled 'scratches' here.

"Like I care what you think of me... Steven, Wing attack again!"

'Attack' should be capitalised here.

His four wings moved so fast they were almost invisible, and his fangs were bare, eyes set on her.

That should be 'bared', rather than 'bare'.

She recoiled at the sound of her old name, it's two syllabes burning the inside of her chest.

That should be 'its', rather than 'it's'.

"What can I say? I'm in my rebellious phase," she did her best to smile again. "You're not gonna get me back, Saturn. I've seen what you people are planning and I'd die before I let it happen."

This is far from the only example, but here's another instance where a bit of inset narration within some dialogue has been bracketed with commas. It should be a full sentence, with a capital letter and full stop, and the preceding bit of dialogue should also end with a full stop.

A small, rodent-like Pokemon was staring directly at them, yellow eyes sparking.

That's an odd description of a shinx – I feel like they're much more like the cub of a big cat than a rodent.

and with a single jump she tackled the Shinx with enormous strenght,

That should be 'strenght', not 'strength'. That's come up a few times now – maybe one to watch out for in future, or possibly just set your word processor to auto-correct it. I have a bunch of words I do that for myself.

"Well I didn't knew it until now,"

That should be 'know', rather than 'knew'. The active verb is 'do', so only it needs to be made past tense.

quite a lot smaller than the ones Inyssa'd seen on TV.

I think I'd advise against contracting 'had' like that in the main body of your prose – it works for dialogue, but since you don't see it often in narration it comes across a bit weirdly and is a little more distracting than it needs to be.

"Sorry kids, but the leader isn't here right now," she spoke without even looking at them.

This is another instance where you've used 'speak' as if it were 'say' – as I mentioned earlier, the two words can't quite be used in the same way.

Once she could see the hostile gleam in his eyes she raised her left hand towards him, and her entire body glew gold

That should be 'glowed' rather than 'glew'.

Well! That ended up being really long. Let's draw a line under all this for now – but yeah, this is pretty cool! Definitely looking forward to whatever it is that comes next.


Journey Enthusiast
To Cutlerine: There's really no proper way to thank you for the incredible feedback you give <3 you're amazing, really. I'm really glad you're liking the story so far, it's the biggest project I've ever worked on and yeah I know the start is kind of unpolished but I hope you can get to the newer stuff!

Also, I don't know what I'd do without your fixes :p Man, reading some of those mistakes.... I'm cringing, how the hell did I not see those. I already fixed the quick ones, and I'll edit these chapters further as soon as I have time, thank you so much for telling me. Also for your question, in this fic the planet Mars and the corresponding deity are indeed referred to with feminine pronouns. There are a few more of these little details which are different from our world, but I'll make sure to point them out next time. Again, thank you soooo much!!!!


Chapter 8: Fire and Mustaches

Inyssa had trouble believing it, but there actually was a small café near where they could sit down for a bit and have a talk. She was pretty sure it was the only non-mining related business around, only open because it was close to the Gym. Sarah cordially invited her for a cup of tea and to give her what she described as a small gift for her first official battle.

Inyssa leaned back into her chair, which felt stiff and wet. "And to think I'm going to do my debut in a dump like this..." She sighed exageratedly. "What a joke."

Sarah raised her cup and took a sip of her Earl Grovyle tea, which smelled like burned mint. She was sitting with her back completely straight, looking like she was enjoying the wind on her face.

"You shouldn't be so judgmental, Inyssa," she advised. "This city is full of hard working and passionate people."

"Don't get me wrong, I'm sure everyone here is nice." She shrugged, taking a tentative sip. "But why would the League commitee turn this place into a Gym city? Aren't they supposed to be touristic places for trainers to enjoy? Isn't that how the Association makes their money?"

"Well, this place does make them money. All kinds of fossils, evolution stones and precious gems are harvested in the mines every day."

She snorted, shaking her head lightly. "So they just wanted a piece of that cash for themselves. Figures, bunch of greedy farts. No offense."

"Oh, none taken, don't worry about that." Sarah's lips curled into a playful smile, "I'm just an employee, I have no say over these kind of things."

Inyssa was about to reply when she noticed a couple people at the other side of the street, walking toward them. The dust clouds obscured them until they were almost at the doors of the Gym. Palmer and Barry stood around with giant smiles on their faces, and next to them was a rather short man wearing a mining hat, under which she spied a mess of dark, red hair.

They left the money on the table and crossed the street. When they approached Barry immediately turned toward Inyssa and placed both hands on her shoulders, shaking her so strongly that she feared he might liquify her brain.

"Niss, Niss, Niss! You won't believe what happened, we found this guy and he said he didn't want to but I said I wanted to and then he told me he would but I told him you were here too and...!"

Barry's words came out of his mouth like water from a hose, so quickly and garbled that he was out of breath by the moment he finished his first sentence. Palmer stopped him by placing a hand on his shoulder and making a sign to let him speak.

"What my incredibly talented son is trying to say is that he just beat the Gym leader." The older man gave Barry a look so full of pride Inyssa felt somewhat inadequate, "Roark wanted to make it quick and have the battle in the mines. I tried to tell him that there was another contender in the city but Barry already had a Pokeball in his hands so..."

Inyssa shot her friend a scowl full of anger, "What!? You doof, I wanted to see you battle!" She bopped him in the forehead strongly enough to push him away.

"Ouch! I'm sorry Niss, it's just... I couldn't help myself." He formed his best Poochyena face in an attempt to calm her anger, but to no avail. "Besides, we convinced him to come here anyway, so you'll have your battle too!"

Both kids heard Roark clear his throat behind them, and when they turned they found him looking at them with a shadowed expression, no sign of a smile on his face.
His arms were crossed and he tapped the floor with one foot impatiently.

"Yes, my associate Palmer persuaded me to come back here. I'm guessing you're the other challenger?" He studied Inyssa with a disinterested look. "First that hyperactive mess of a kid and now you. Great." He closed his eyes and sighed. "Let's go inside, we'll finish this quickly and I'll go back to my work."

"Your work is the gym," Inyssa spouted back, tone full of disbelief. "If you want to spend all your time messing around with rocks then maybe you should leave the job to someone else."

Roark's ears turned as red as his hair, and Inyssa noted that Barry and Palmer were looking at the girl nervously, while Sarah shot her a look to warn her to watch her words.

"What do you know about my work?" His voice flared up, and Inyssa felt a shiver down her spine at the sound of it. "Ugh, I don't have time to be listening to an entitled brat and her Frontier Brain father. Let's just get this over with."

"Palmer's not my f...!" Roark entered the Gym and closed the door behind him before she could finish. "Agh! What the hell is wrong with that guy!?"

Palmer fixed his collar and tried to avoid the girl's gaze, "It's... a long story. I apologize in his behalf, but please try not to provoke him." He gave her a thumbs up. "Just head in there and show us what you've got, okay? We'll be watching from the stands."

An electric buzz echoed throughout the arena as the lights came to life, momentarily blinding Inyssa. The inside of the Gym was quite small, sporting only a regulation-size arena and a couple stands at the sides, where Barry and his parents would be spectating. At the other extreme of the field stood Roark, arms crossed and posture firm as steel. Alongside him stood a dusty table with a few small boxes on top of it, each containing between three and six Pokeballs.

"I'm guessing this is your first Gym battle, just like with that brat." His booming voice reached her, as he grabbed a Pokeball from the first, smallest box. "Good, we can get this over quick. We will each use three Pokemon. The first one to run out loses."

"I know how battles work," Inyssa spat back. "I won't need more than this."

They both opened their Pokeballs in unison. The two blinding lights flooded the arena; the Gym leader's Pokemon materialized into a small boulder with two muscular arms, and Inyssa's Budew appeared in response, happily shifting his body back and forth in a strange dance, a sly smile on his face.

"A grass Pokemon, what stunning originality," Roark whispered under his breath. "Sorry Geodude, I'll make it up to you with food later. Rock Throw!"

"Don't let him keep you away, get close and use Mega Drain!" Inyssa shouted, closed fist forward.

Geodude's arms burrowed into the floor, and with a much higher speed than she thought possible he grabbed head-sized pieces of rock and threw them at Bret with the hope of squishing him. The small sprout jumped to dodge the first boulder, which went past him and crashed a few feet ahead of Inyssa. Two others immediately followed. and the Budew dived left for the first one and jumped on top of the second one, using the momentum to plunge himself toward his opponent.

Roark's eyes opened slightly, surprise clear across his face, "Geodude, Tackle him before he reaches you!"

Geodude used her arms to launch herself toward Bret, who simply smiled and used the closed petals on his head to do a little flop and position himself perfectly above his opponent. With a green flash of light he absorbed the Geodude's energy, leaving her to smash into the ground, unconscious.

"****, that was fast." Roark cringed, and with a movement of his hand returned the Geodude to her Pokeball. He grabbed another one randomly from the box.

"Great job Bret, keep it up!" Inyssa felt heat rushing through her body as she yelled. "So Roark, when does the actual Gym battle start? This warm-up is fun but I think I'm ready now." She formed her best crap-eating grin and crossed her arms at the Gym leader, taking satisfaction in his frustrated expression.

"You shouldn't be so cocky after winning a battle with type advantage." He clenched the Pokeball in his hand and threw it in the air. "A trainer's first Gym battle is always easy; the Association doesn't want kids to get discouraged too early."

The light which emerged from the Pokeball expanded immensely, coiling around itself to form what appeared to be a giant snake made of rocks. The Onix opened his enormous maw and roared at Bret, who didn't even notice his presence.

"He might look scary, but Onix's defenses are very weak so we still have the advantage." She advised her Pokemon, who wasn't planning on worrying about anything in the near future. "Mega Drain again!"

"Use Rock Throw, don't let him come near you!"

The Onix slithered forward, his weight enough to make the ground beneath his tail crumble, and with a sudden movement he used it to throw an avalanche of boulders towards Bret. The small bud Pokemon moved as fast as his small, dangly legs would allow, running left and right towards the Onix while trying to avoid the hail of rocks falling around him. He was almost at the tip of his opponent's tail when one of the smaller ones hit him from the left, throwing him into the ground where he bounced.

"Shake it off!"

Without too much difficulty the Budew got in his feet again, his body flexible enough that a small rock wouldn't be able to harm him much. Jumping forward he started running along the Onix's body, trying to reach his head.

Roark grit his teeth, a drop of sweat falling down his forehead, "Onix, at least try to hit him! Use Tackle!"

Onix's head moved slowly towards Bret, trying to slap him away, but the small grass Pokemon was too flexible. Once again he vaulted over his opponent, and once on top of the giant rock Pokemon's head he planted his bulb on his skin. Another, even more powerful green light flooded the room as Onix screeched in pain, strongly enough that Inyssa had to cover her ears. A moment after, Onix collapsed to the ground, unconscious.

"Wh-what...?" Roark stood still as he tried to process the image in front of him. "How the hell..."

"Woohoo! That's what I'm talking about!" Inyssa jumped high in the air, fist raised towards the ceiling. "Bret you're the best grass Pokemon ever! Those Galactic idiots don't know what they missed by dumping you!"

The Gym Leader shot her a venomous look as he returned his Onix to his Pokeball. He spent a few seconds deliberating before speaking again.

"Well, since this went from bad to worse..." He let his shoulders drop. "Look kid, I have another Geodude in this box and you still have all your Pokemon left. I wouldn't be above ending this without harming anymore of my friends."

Inyssa's smile froze, slowly shifting into a look of confusion. She hadn't heard right, had she? Was he proposing...?

"I give up." Roark threw his hands in the air. "You can have your badge if you want."

Inyssa's body flared up, and she felt her hands curling into fists. A part of her -the logical one, most likely- told her that Roark was right, that it would be pointless to keep going, after all a trainer's first Gym battle was designed to be easy enough for anyone with a half decent team to be able to win. However, such thoughs were quickly deafened by the intense, venomous heat growing from her stomach outward.

"What!?" The scream came out without her realizing, her voice echoing through the room. "Are you serious!? You're a Gym leader and you haven't acted like it in this entire battle, and now you're just going to give up!?" She started walking towards him, feet stomping the ground. "**** that! I came here to prove myself, not to be given the badge like it's a cheap gift!"

Roark pointed at her, brown eyes flaring, "Prove yourself? Oh spare me your excuses, the only reason you're taking on the Gyms is to appease your ego. That's all you damn trainers ever do, you just want to waste your parents' money on a Pokemon journey to get recognition because you don't have anything actually important to do! You think having an easy battle is bad? Try having your entire city turned into a tourist trap for spoiled brats just because the Association wants all the money our mines produce!"

Inyssa wanted to grab him by the collar and slap him around; what the hell did he know about her? He had no idea what she'd been through, to have the nerve to accuse her of something like that...

"Roark, behave yourself!" Palmer walked from the stands towards both of them, arms crossed and stern gaze set on the young man. "You're a Gym leader, you have to act like it no matter what trainer you're facing."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Inyssa asked, voice full of poison.

"And you Inyssa, I told you not to provoke him." Palmer stared her down. "You need to control your temper or it will get the better of you before you know it."

Both trainers stared daggers at Palmer, unable to find any appropriate response to his statements. Roark's hands were still curled into fists, but he gave a long sigh and side-glanced at his opponent.

"Fine, do you want a real challenge?" he asked.

"It'd be a nice change of pace," she replied.

"Great. Go back to your spot and let's continue."

Both contenders returned to their respective rings, while Palmer sighed in relief as he walked towards the stands. Roark deposited the Pokeball which contained his second Geodude into the box where it belonged, and grabbed another one from the box next to it. He turned to face Inyssa and with a simple movement he freed his Pokemon into the field. The light from it formed into a bipedal creature, half of his trainer's height and with a spiky-blue head. She had to squint for a couple seconds to recognize it; it was Rampardos' pre-evolution: Cranidos.

"I'll end it with one move." Roark smiled for the first time during the battle. Cranidos lowered his head, eyes set on Bert. "I hope you like what you reap; Gundyr, use Headbutt!"

The Cranidos moved so fast she barely had time to react. He ran like a bullet toward Bret, head pointed directly at his round chest.

"S-****!" Inyssa yelped. "Use Stun Spore, now!"

Bert opened his bulb-like head and released a yellow dust which surrounded him, but the Cranidos simply dispelled it with the speed of his advance. Before the Budew had time to dodge he felt something dive into his stomach, sending him like lightning towards the Gym's wall right behind Inyssa. She watched horrified as her Pokemon crashed onto the floor with enough force to break the ground beneath him.

"Bert!" She ran towards him, kneeling at his side. "Are you okay?"

The Budew was still conscious, but barely. Sighing with relief that he wasn't dead Inyssa grabbed his Pokeball and sent him to rest; he'd done enough for the day.

"Alright, you caught me off guard. It will not happen again," she told Roark, voice fierce.

From her belt she grabbed her first Pokeball, the one containing her starter. She threw it into the air and from it came the silhouette of his Chimchar. Enma fell into the arena, a savage smile pasted on his face.

"You seem to be pretty confident on your legs Enma, so I'd recommend you dodge this guy," she told his Pokemon, and since she knew he wouldn't listen to her unless she gave him an incentive... "Though maybe he's too strong for you; maybe you're not up to the task."

Enma's flame flared red, turning into a blinding light, and the small Pokemon set his eyes on the Cranidos. His abilities would not be underestimated.

She smiled proudly, "Use Ember!"

"Headbutt again!"

The Chimchar exhaled air, and while the Cranidos ran at him he spat a small torrent of fire towards him; quite bigger than a normal Ember but not as big as a Flamethrower attack. The fire engulfed the rock Pokemon, and when he emerged his body was covered in small burns. Seconds before his attack reached him, Enma propelled himself over his opponent's head by releasing an explosion of fire from his palms. He landed on Roark's side of the field, while Cranidos used his momentum to turn around and ran at him once more.

"That's it, you can keep dodging him and using Ember!" Inyssa said, happy that she'd figured out a strategy. "It'll be easy, come on!"

But those were not the words that Enma wanted to hear; he desired nothing more than a fair fight, and escaping from a foe over and over was unacceptable. Stance wide, he grounded himself, arms in front of him and ready to receive his opponent's attack head on.

"What are you doing!?" Inyssa protested, panic washing over her. "You can't stop him you dumbass, you'll just...!"

The impact from his attack shook the ground and raised a cloud of dust around them, obscuring their view. When it finally settled both figures could be seen together, completely still. Cranidos' head was being held by Enma with both hands, although he'd been unable to fully stop the attack. His legs were shaking, eyes hidden by shadows.

Inyssa's eyes went wide, "Enma..."

The Chimchar smiled. He would not be defeated so easily.

His body began to glow. It changed and shifted to almost twice his size, and his tail grew a few inches in length, its flame burning even stronger than before. The Monferno was now taller than Cranidos, and his unhinged smile was as present as ever. He raised one of his hands towards the sky, which started glowing with a white light.

"Wait, I know that attack..." Inyssa barely managed to shook free from her surprise. "Enma, use Mach Punch!"

Enma drove his fist directly into the Cranidos' face, landing his body into the ground and breaking one of the spikes around his head. The dinosaur Pokemon screeched in pain, trying to keep himself in the fight.

"Yeah, that's it!" She pointed towards Roark's Pokemon and yelled. "Once more, Mach Punch! End this now!"

Enma jumped towards the Cranidos, fist extended backwards. However before he could land the hit his body failed him; his arms felt heavy and his eyes started closed up. He slumped next to Cranidos, immobile. It seemed that Headbutt had been a lot stronger than he'd anticipated.

Inyssa gulped, somewhat disappointed, and returned him back to his Pokeball."It's okay, you did your best. Even if you're a little ****, you deserve some rest."

She deliberated for a second, not sure of what Pokemon to choose. She knew Cranidos couldn't have much energy left; a single attack could end the battle, but unless it was something strong...

She narrowed her eyes, and nodded to no one. She grabbed another Pokeball from her belt and threw it into the field. From it came the silhouette of one of her latest acquisitions; her Kricketune. Shadi looked around confused, and set her eyes on the wounded Cranidos who looked at her with fierce red eyes, ready to attack.

"Shadi, listen to me." Inyssa went to her Pokemon and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know you're probably scared, but I need you for this battle. Just follow my lead and I'm sure you'll be able to defeat that thing." She wasn't sure what words were coming out of her mouth, but it didn't matter, she had to make Shadi trust herself if this was going to work. "Just like we practiced with what Sarah gave us, okay?"

Shadi nodded slowly, eyes burning with determination, and turned to her opponent. Both Pokemon got ready, and at their trainer's orders they ran towards each other, ready for the final impact.

"Kricketune? What are you going to do, Bide my Cranidos?" She could hear the Gym leader snickering. "Come on Gundyr, one more attack and we'll win!"

"Hit him first Shadi, use Rock Smash!"

She smiled at the look of panic that appeared on the Gym leader's face. Sarah had given her that TM right after meeting her in front of the gym, probably knowing she'd need an aid like that.

Shadi's scythes glowed with black energy, while Cranidos ran like a bullet towards her. Both Pokemon collided in a violent impact which cracked the rock beneath their feet. Time slowed to a crawl, she saw the huge X-shaped scar on Cranidos' side; Shadi had managed to break his armor. The Kricketune was standing beside him, her body shaking but still standing.

Cranidos groaned and fell to the floor. There was a brief moment of silence, where Inyssa felt like the entire world had shut down. But soon something inside her exploded and she started jumping in place, a huge grin pasted on her face.

"Yes! Yes! I did it!" She could see Barry running towards her, with a similar expression to hers. The boy tackled her and they both started laughing while hugging each other. "I told you all I could do it! I'm going to be the future Champion!"

Palmer and Sarah approached from the stands, sporting similar smile. When they reached her Palmer have her a pat in the head while Sarah hugged her strongly enough to squish the air out of her.

"I'm very proud of you," she whispered in her ear so no one could hear it.

"That was amazing!" Barry yelled while still grabbing her hand. "First that Budew with those two wins and then Enma evolving and then Shadi and then...!"

"We don't need a recap son, I think we all saw what happened." Palmer said, barely containing his laughter. "That was very impressive though, good job kid."

She didn't have words to reciprocate with, so she simply smiled and tried not to think about the warm feeling inside her. Shadi finally reached her, slightly limping and with a huge bruise on her chest. Inyssa hugged her and told her she'd definitely earned her place in her team. And with a flick of her Pokeball she returned her to it, so she could recover from that battle.

"Well, that was pretty embarrassing for me..."

Inyssa turned to see Roark beside her with something on his hand, expression unreadable. An uncomfortable silence filled the room, as both trainers were thinking about what to say.

"That was a good battle," he admitted, sighing. "Good enough to clear my head I suppose. I'm sorry for what I said, it was completely out of place and very unprofessional of me."

Inyssa wanted to reply with a witty remark, but what came from her mouth was something she wasn't expecting at all.

"I'm sorry too." She attempted to form a smile. "I was too demanding, and I probably sounded like a bratty kid when I started yelling. It was... unbecoming of the future Champion." She chose her words carefully, she didn't want to insult herself too much. "And you did give me a good challenge at the end."

"Let's both say we acted like children, and I will accept that I had less excuse than you." Roark smiled back. "It's just... I never asked to be a Gym leader, I just offered myself to keep my city from being overrun by the Association."

Inyssa frowned, understanding perfectly the feeling of trying to protect something you loved. She swallowed and thought about the problem for a couple seconds, and what came out of her mouth surprised even her.

"Once I become the Champion, I'll change that," she assured him. "I'll let you have your city and your mines, and you'll be able to work in peace."

He studied her for a few moments, brow furrowed, "That sounds like a very farfetched dream. Almost unachievable I'd say. But I'll take your word for it." He put his hand over hers and left something in it. "For now though, you've earned this."

She looked down to a small metal pin shaped like a Pokeball and a boulder; the Coal Badge.

"My first badge..."

Inyssa felt her eyes sting at the sight of it, right up until Barry gave her a slap on the back hard enough to make her flinch.

"And definitely not the last!" He smiled, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Aren't you glad I let you go last?"

"Agh! Barry!" She turned to him and punched him on the arm, her expression a mix between a smile and a frown. "I'm still mad about that; next time we both take the challenge at the same time, got it?"

Palmer and Sarah exchanged an amused look.

"Ah, the wonders of being a young trainer." He sighed dreamily.

"It takes one back, don't you think?" Sarah whispered, holding his arm. "I just hope things won't go... like last time."

Palmer's eyes lost part of their color for a moment, and his smile wavered.

"It's different now." He sounded like he was trying to convince himself. "They'll be fine... as long as they have each other."

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Gone. Not coming back.
This is an interesting one! I like how you deal with that particular Oreburgh vibe; it feels like the kind of place that's central to the Sinnish economy, full of heavy industry. Which could either make it important to see on your trainer journey – if the goal is to learn, then seeing the cornerstones of your country's industry feels like it should be part of that – or somewhere you wouldn't expect to visit, depending on how exactly you imagine the journey. There's definitely a strong sense of place here, and I love the sense of beleaguered civic pride that you give Roark; it's not a take on him I've seen before, but given that he has all the personality of a cardboard cutout in-game, I'm completely down with you turning him into someone much more interesting.

The battle is great, too. The first phase feels short and cheap, as well it should; Roark is giving Inyssa an absurdly easy fight, clearly sending out underpowered pokémon for the sake of getting this over with quickly. (I wonder if he did a similar thing with Barry? That's never brought up, but given the mood he was in, I imagine that that might be how it went down.) The second phase, in sharp contrast, is all a good Gym challenge should be – it's not an assured thing by any stretch of the imagination; Inyssa's lack of experience with her pokémon really shows in the way that she hasn't built her rapport with Enma sufficiently for him to trust her commands and hold back when necessary. I love how he evolves and then still loses, too; that's a nice change from the evolve-to-snatch-an-unlikely-victory trope. And of course Shadi is the star of the show, precious baby that she is. <3

Finally, it wouldn't be one of your stories without something bitter hidden beneath the victory, huh. I wonder if that's Shadi they're talking about there at the end? The original, I mean, rather than the kricketune.
Inyssa leaned back into her chair, which felt stiff and wet, “And to think I'm going to do my debut in a place like this.”
This thing with dialogue punctuation still crops up from time to time – that really needs to be a full stop after 'wet'. There are fewer of these mistakes in this chapter, but still a few. Also, you 'make' a debut, rather than 'doing' it.
“Don't let him zone you out
'Zone out' usually means to kinda drift into a daydream out of boredom or fatigue or whatever; I've never seen it used synonymously with 'psyche out' before. Is that a regional thing?
“Once I become the Champion, I'll change that.” She assured him.
Another dialogue punctuation issue – since 'she assured him' is the attribution here, the full stop after 'that' should be a comma, and 'she' shouldn't be capitalised.
Gundyr! Good name, especially for a pokémon that waits for approaching challengers in a dark and stony arena – and for the first boss of Inyssa's journey. Nicely done.


Journey Enthusiast
To Cutlerine: Once again thank you so much for your feedback!! I'm glad you're enjoying the bits of worldbuilding along with the battles; both those things improve later in the story so I'm excited for you to get there :D As for the "zone out" thing; that's a problem of how I learned english. Since it was entirely from the internet, I don't remember from exactly where I learned some terminology and sometimes that's a problem.

In this case, "zoning out" is a term I remember from League of Legends, in which you try to keep your opponent at a certain distance so you don't get hurt while attacking from a distance. I changed that line now, thanks for bringing it up!

And now to the chapter:


Bloody Pink.

Inyssa wanted so badly to stick her new badge to the flap of her coat like a mark of pride, though part of her knew that she'd probably look like a novice who was too excited for her first, easy battle if she did so. Barry on the other hand had no second thoughts about it, proudly showing it to anyone who came close to him. She had to force him to save it in his badge case after a few minutes; he'd lose it otherwise.

Sarah and Palmer invited them to a fancy dinner in the most respectable (if one could use that word to describe it) restaurant in the city, but Inyssa didn't want to spend another minute around the smoke filled dump; besides, they had to hurry if they wanted to reach the next town on time.

"That's the correct answer!" Palmer nodded, arms crossed. "There is no time to sleep or eat in a Pokemon journey; all that matters is the next obstacle in the way!"

"Don't listen to him, please do make sure you're getting enough food and rest," his wife replied, looking at the man with knit eyebrows. "In any case, where are you planning to head next?"

Barry tilted his head to the side, still holding his badge case as if it were his own son, "Isn't the closest Gym in Eterna City?"

"Yes, right past route 206 and 207," Inyssa recounted, trying to remember the map of the region she'd studied. "It's a long way but we should be able to make it in a couple days if we hurry. And if I know your son as well as I do..." she glanced towards Barry and gave him a small bump with her elbow. "He'll make sure we don't slack off on the road there."

Barry's parents glanced at each other for a moment and tried to hide a smile, though Palmer was much less subtle about it.

"If you say so," Sarah gave her son a pat on the head. "Then I guess we should take our leave if you kids are..."

Her words were interrupted by a loud, persistent beeping noise coming from the woman's wrist. With an exasperated sigh she looked at the Pokétch and answered the call. Her device was much bigger and personalized than the version Inyssa had gotten from Jubilife city.

"Yes, hello?" Sarah's voice changed instantly, becoming firmer and colder. "Yes, Sarah Paladino here. I'm not in a position to talk right now, I notified that I would take a day out for my son's..."

She stopped talking. Her expression changed slowly, almost unperceivable; her eyebrows knit together and her lips became pale.

"What? Where? What do you mean there was an... was it even an accident?" She turned away from them, shoulders tensing up. "Are there any wounded? Oh good, that will make things easier." She breathed a sigh of relief. "I'll get there as soon as possible and I'll take Palmer with me. Make sure not to let anyone through until the officers from the Association show up."

With a loud beep she finished the call, lost in thought for a moment. She turned again to the kids and then to her husband, an ominous look on her face.

"I have bad news," she announced. "Something happened on route 206..."

"What's wrong!? Tornado!? Lava!? Legendary Pokemon!?" Palmer's eyes lit up with the same fire as Barry's. "What am I needed for?"

"Calm down you imbecile!" Sarah pushed him out of the way, face red. "There appears to have been a terrorist attack. Someone destroyed the bridge leading to Eterna City."

A cold silence surrounded the three trainers, passing through them like winter's cold.

"Destroyed?" Inyssa repeated without noticing it, not believing her ears. "What do you mean... it couldn't have been..."

"The entire bridge!?" Barry yelled next to her, for one second taking his eyes off his badge case. "But isn't like... really big?"

"At least half of it collapsed, and from what my coworker reported it wasn't an accident," Sarah crossed her arms, her foot tapping down quickly. "The people below heard Pokemon fighting, and then a huge explosion took down the bridge. Luckily there aren't any wounded, but that just means there are no witnesses either. And whoever did it probably escaped."

Inyssa felt something in her chest become heavy, and her stomach turned. "But... what's going to happen now?"

"I'm afraid the Association is not letting anyone through the route, they're trying to identify the culprit," Sarah said. "Getting to Eterna City will be impossible for now."

"Aw, we have to stay here until then?" Barry's smile dropped in an instant, his shoulders lowering. "But that'll be boring!"

"Kids please, this is serious," Sarah glared at them, arms crossed. "I will let you know when the path opens again, but until then..." she dropped the sentence, and tried to smile again. "But it's okay, you can visit Floaroma Town in the meantime; I heard it's beautiful this time of year."

Inyssa had to stop herself from cursing in front of Sarah, though she almost failed at that. She put a hand on her head, nervously shuffling her hair under her hat; this couldn't be happening. What were the odds? Just when she was in such a good mood too...

"This is just great," she closed her eyes and sighed. She didn't want to protest and sound bratty but this was a less than ideal development. "Is there anything interesting to do in Floaroma?"

"Yeah, we don't have time to smell flowers, mom!" Barry placed his hands on his hips as if he were giving her a lecture. "We're extremely busy Pokemon trainers you know!"

"It'll be good for you, trust me," Sarah replied, her patience running thin. "You two could afford to relax for a couple days."

Palmer nodded and grabbed a Pokeball from the pocket of his big green coat, "Good life lesson kids; sometimes you gotta follow whatever path your adventure puts in front of you. Unless it leads to a volcano, that was a bad idea on my part. In any case, we'll let you know when the roadblock is lifted; and if you want I can take you two to Floaroma right now."

"Palmer, I need you on the scene," Sarah told him, grabbing his arm. "If you're going to give them a ride then make it quick, you'll have you to run some reconnassaince around the crime scene."

"I'll be back before you know it. Or even before that, that's how fast I am!"

He threw the Pokeball upwards into the sky, which exploded into a white light that started growing more and more until the silhouette above them covered the light of the sun itself. The strange form grew two giant, crescent shaped wings and a small head with a long neck . Wind roared in their ears as the behemoth started flapping his wings. Inyssa's body was frozen, the sight of such a beast leaving her breathless. The Salamance's eyes were set on the two kids, red shining like suns.

"W...wh...Th..." Inyssa tried to speak but her brain wasn't cooperating. "Holy..."

"This is the best day of my life," Barry whispered, eyes unblinking.

Palmer stroked his chin, satisfied with the kids' reactions.

"Are you impressed? This is Makura, my best buddy." He whistled to the dragon Pokemon to come down, who did so reluctantly. "He's a bit of a grump but he has a heart of gold. What do you think?"

The Salamance turned his gaze slowly towards Inyssa, as if expecting her answer. The moment his eyes met hers the girl's legs turned to jelly and a violent shiver ran through her spine. She had a feeling that thing could eat her if he didn't like her opinion of him.

"...I've seen scarier," she said, high pitched.

The dragon's eyes narrowed, and for a second she thought she saw him snicker a bit, after which he turned to his master, awaiting orders.

"He seems to like you, so that's something," Palmer put a hand over his snout. "Alright boy, I'll need you to take all three of us to Floaroma, think you can handle it?"

Inyssa could feel the dragon's roar in the ground before he opened his mouth, shaking the air around them and forcing them to block their ears. She assumed that was a yes in Salamance speak.

Palmer performed what appeared to be a circus jump right into the back of the Salamance, who barely felt the adult human on top of him. "Hop on, kids! He won't bite, probably."

With a slow pace she approached the dragon , while Barry simply ran towards it and jumped on his back like his father did. However the Salamance's eyes were not set on him, but on Inyssa. The girl felt the red gleams piercing her body, and for once in her life she wasn't going to be a smartass and try to anger the incredibly powerful beast. With as much tact as possible she put one leg on top of his knee while she pushed herself upwards, landing face first behind Barry.

"Are you sure this is your best form of transportation?" she asked Palmer, her hands shaking.

"The best legal one at least," Palmer smiled and looked down at his wife. "Would you mind covering for me again? Just tell them I'm doing very important Frontier Brain things and I'll be there as soon as I'm done."

"Yeah sure, I already have a speed dial for covering you up," Sarah said as she showed her Pokétch. "Just try not to crash into another airplane."

"A what!?" Inyssa screamed from behind Barry, suddenly not feeling too sure about their current situation.

"That's in the past Sarah!" He pointed a finger at her. "I'm a better man now. Let's go Makura, towards Floaroma!"

Inyssa couldn't see what was happening but she felt the Salamance's wings flapping around her, and the horrible feeling in her stomach told her they were slowly ascending. When she finally dared to look down she saw only a black spot that she assumed was Sarah, many feet below her. She was debating herself wether to put her arms around Barry to keep herself steady, since no one could see the color of her face while they flew, or just grab the scales of the dragon Pokemon and possibly slip off and die. She was seriously considering her options when she heard Palmer speak.

"Grab on to something! This will get intense fast!"

The Salamance's body began to glow with a scarlet aura, wings arched back, and Inyssa felt a strange pressure in the air around her ears. Her arms moved on their own, grabbing on to Barry as strongly as possible, and she inhaled deeply.

The immense force almost made her fall from the dragon's back, the air around her exploding into a sonic boom and obscuring the view below into a blur of lights and shapes barely recognizable. The small part of her brain that was still working thought that there was no way she could hold on, but she slowly felt that the wind around her became less and less violent as seconds went by, and when she dared to open her eyes she noticed that they were now traveling at a more reasonable speed. They were still fast, but she could at least recognize the landscapes below as they soared. In front of her Barry was either trying to say something or just making random excitement sounds as his blonde banana hair waved violently behind him, hitting Inyssa in the face.

Slowly the knot in her stomach unraveled, and her eyes started exploring everything below her, from the brown stone around Oreburgh's caves to the endless sea of green that were the surrounding routes. A smile formed on her lips as her breath was taken by the amazing view. Excitedly she turned her neck in all directions, trying to take it all in; but her gaze finally set in on a single point, almost directly behind her. Her smile disappeared as she witnessed a giant, oppressive wall of smoke coming from the north of Oreburgh, covering most of the sky around it. That must have been where the bridge was destroyed, which meant...

A flash of green appeared from the pillar of smoke and flew in front of her eyes, passing all of them towards what she guessed was Floaroma Town. The Pokemon almost crashed with them but made a last second pirouette and his green leaf wings almost touched her face. The person on top of the Pokemon turned her face towards them, and Inyssa could only see a flash of pink that she assumed was the girl's hair.

"Watch where you're flying you jackass!" She barely heard the woman's voice as her Pokemon sped towards the town, slowly disappearing.

"Ah, lovely," Palmer said in front of her, only a speck of sarcasm in his voice. "We're almost there kids, hold on tight!"

Her stomach turned as the Salamance dropped downwards and they started falling into Floaroma at an alarming speed. She could see a blur of colors that she assumed were the fields of flowers. Only seconds before reaching the ground the Salamance's wings extended greatly, absorbing momentum and decreasing the speed of his fall, until it finally landed on solid ground as smoothly as a falling leaf.

Inyssa tried to get off the dragon but her body was too stiff and she simply slipped off and went straight to the ground. While her face was getting acquainted with the dirt beneath her she heard Barry talking to her.

"That was... WHOOHOO! That was the best!" He grabbed her by the arm and janked her upwards, helping her to her feet. "Wasn't that the best, Niss?"

"It was... something, alright." She tried to clean the dirt off her clothes but her arms were still shaking. "I think I need to... lie down for a second."

The Salamance made a growly sound that Inyssa thought was a laugh. She was going to kick that dragon's ass once she had a better team.

"Well, I have to go before I put Sarah in even more trouble." Palmer spoke on top of his Pokemon. "Have fun kids! And remember, don't accept weird flowers from people unless they're a declaration of love! Goodbye!"

Before she even had the change to say something crude to him the Salamance extended his wings once more and flew up towards the sky, disappearing from their view. Barry smiled, his hair still an indescribable mess from the wind, and breathed deeply, taking in the sweet aroma. She had to admit to herself, this place was very pretty, all around them brightly painted houses filled the place and countless trees, flowers and plants grew at the sides of the streets and in the walls, making it seem like nature was overrunning the city. Hundreds of different flower smells traveled the air, confusing her nose and making it hard to breathe.

"Did you hear that Niss? If you wanna confess your love to someone then here you can find all the flowers you want!" He patted her on the back strongly and let out a high pitched laugh. "Just make sure it's not a Sunflora."

"If I had to do that I don't think I'd get you a bunch of lame flowers," she spoke without thinking, still concentrating on the overwhelming smell. "Maybe a stack of pancakes."

There was a long silence that Inyssa didn't notice until she turned to Barry. He was looking at her, one eyebrow raised and a sly smile on his face.

"I didn't specify who you were gonna confess your love to."

Inyssa froze, and suddenly she felt like the temperature rose a bit.

"So hey, what is there to do around here?" she looked away. "We should probably look around, see what we find."

Barry put a hand over his stomach, "I'm hungry, I haven't eaten since like... breakfast. We should find the Pokemon Center first."

"Breakfast was two hours ago."

"It was a really uneventful breakfast," he sighed. "Toast and coffe, the same as nothing."

"I had nothing and I'm not complaining, you big crybaby," she started looking around, trying to find any recognizable landmark. "Let's split up. You look for the Pokemon Center and book us a couple rooms, and I'll search for something to do later."

"Alright, I'll try to save you something," Barry put himself in his usual running position, and turned his head to her before taking off. "Don't get in trouble without me!"

And with that he disappeared into the distance.

Inyssa's stroll through the town was as uneventful as it was pleasant, taking in every single sight that presented itself to her and slowly appreciating the beauty of everything. Part of her thought that as tacky and overdone as the whole flower aesthetic was, she wouldn't mind living here after becoming the Champion. Sure would beat living in Oreburgh or Jubilife.

Everyone she met and talked to seemed unusually nice, and while they were a couple sleazy flower sellers around most people were just happy giving them away to any stranger that passed by. She imagined she must've looked like a foreigner from her clothes, since everyone seemed to be wearing some variation of summer attire, lots of sundresses and beach shorts.

She was walking around a bright violet painted block of houses when she heard something close to her, at the other side of one of the hallways in between two houses. She didn't have any reason to stop, but something inside her made her body freeze at the sound of that voice. She stopped right before the hallway and put her ear close to the bricks.

"...his strongest commander, just to get us. It was a smart, but that doesn't mean they don't have their full attention on us." It was a young woman's voice, and it sounded jagged and tired. "...No, we're not hiding. I don't care how many people they throw at us... can you listen to me before complaining!? We'll stay low for now, but we have to keep going if we want to stop them. Sorry but if you're gonna use me I'll have to make you pay rent, metaphorically speaking. We'll start with..."

She stopped talking, and a long silence extended from that hallway towards where Inyssa was. After a couple seconds she realized that the silence felt heavy somehow, as if it were surrounding her like weightless water. Before she had time to turn away the woman appeared from the other side of that hallway, and Inyssa almost had a heart attack from the surprise.

She was easily six feet tall and looked around twenty, beefy and wearing a sleeveless black shirt with fishnet under it and a golden halo in the middle, under which were the words No God. Her hair was a bright pink on the tips and brown on the base, making her head look like a paintbrush.

The strange woman blinked, and for a single moment the blue of her eyes seemed to change into a bright yellow, although it changed again as soon as she blinked. She didn't seem to have any sort of Pokétch or ear piece or any device that would explain who she was talking to. Her left shoulder was covered in a white cloth that seemed to be stained with blood, and she appeared to be hurt in other places in her body, even if her posture didn't reveal that.

She stared right at Inyssa for a couple seconds, her expression shifting between surprise, anger and obliviousness as she quickly blinked and turned away from her gaze. She walked right past her, shadows covering her eyes.

"Good day," she whispered while passing, slightly limping.
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Firaga Metagross

Auferstanden Aus Ruinen
Enjoying the story so far, I'll give a couple reviews of chapters 8 + 9 since they're recent and I've got words to say.

Chap 8

Definitely one of your more interesting chapters. I like the attempt to flesh out Orebourgh City by grappling with the implications of what being a mining town in Pokemon really means. It's a pretty simple idea, but you tie it directly into the plot of the chapter well, which raised the stakes of what could have been an otherwise predictable battle. I like what you did with Roark being the unwilling and resentful gym leader, although I think Roark seemed a little too openly hostile for someone who's a league employee and all. I definitely like the moment where Inyssa refused Roark's forfit; it reinforces Roark's apathy towards his position and shows inyssa's wanting to prove herself by winning on her terms. Plus, the chapter sets up some sort of long term goal for her, so there's that to look forward to.

Chap 9

This chapter seemed a little weird to me, like it felt like half a chapter due to where it was cut off or like a transitional sequence between two plot points. The chapter ends just as something that feels somewhat plot-ish (the introduction of the mystery lady) happens. She's definitely the most intriguing part of the chapter and I want to learn more about her, but it just sort of... stops.
Also, Barry and Inyssa's reactions to a terrorist attack seemed out of character; I know they're supposed to be selfish children occasionally, but they don't come off as the sort of people who wouldn't care at all about potential deaths and such. Having a couple lines expressing some sort of worry or remorse before complaining about their own issues would feel much more appropriate.
Most of the writing I think would work fine in any of your other chapters (the scene about the flowers between Barry and Inyssa was cute, and it's good that she doesn't have a monopoly on embarrassing the other Pokedex holders), but these scenes needed more of a skeleton to work with.

I'm excited for your chapter. I get the feeling you've got something interesting planned for it


Journey Enthusiast
To Firaga: Thank you so much for your feedback!! I'm really glad you've been enjoying the story. As for your comment on chapter 9; Niss and Barry's response to the bridge being attacked was mostly due to the fact there were no victims of it beside the bridge itself. Also; it will get brought up again ;) Oh and about the chapter feeling short, it absolutely does, because it was meant to be a much longer chapter. Unfortunately I cut it in two because back then I wasn't used to posting such long chapters and thought people would be weirded out by it. Oh well.

Now, on to the next chapter.


Chapter 10: The Shapeless Vanguard

The scream reached her before the storm did.

The strange girl disappeared into the sea of people walking through the main streets, and yet at no point did Inyssa stop looking her way. She'd vanished as soon as she had invaded her sight, only leaving in her mind that flash of pink that seemed so familiar to her.

But she wasn't thinking about that, nor about the blood staining the girl's arm or her rugged appearance. Her mind was completely focused on that bright, maybe imaginary golden hue that for a fraction of a second had appeared behind her eyes. Had she imagined it? It was probably just a trick of light as she exited the dark hallway, or maybe the oppressive aromas all around her were messing with Inyssa's head. But still she didn't believe her mind could make up such a powerful color, not even for that second.

How did she...

Part of her was debating whether to follow her, when the scream rang out behind her.

She turned around fast, feeling a chill run through her body. Had she imagined that too? All around her, people kept walking as if they had heard nothing.

Inyssa closed her eyes and concentrated; a few seconds passed without any change, and just when she convinced herself it had been her imagination another scream reached her. This time the cry was more faint; she turned around and entered through the same dark space between houses the girl had appeared from, running towards the source of that sound.

She spiraled between the strangely shaped alleyways around the nearby houses until she came out at the feet of one of the smaller side streets, leading north toward the city's exit. She ran in that direction, wind roaring in her ears, until she finally got past the last house at the edge of the town and saw Route 205 unfold before her. An even wider patch of flowers grew in every direction, with no buildings to block the view. Focusing her sight on the side of the route she spotted the figure of a man next to one of the many robust oak trees which gave shade to the road. The scream she heard came from something hidden between its leaves.

As she approached it she could make out the man's appearance; he was short and chubby, with a strange haircut and wearing the same body suit as those wackos she'd encountered in Jubilife City.

"Hey, Galactic clown!" She yelled as loud as she could, making the man stop in his tracks and turn to look at her, eyes open wide. "Leave that tree alone!" She said, only after realizing how lame of a one liner that was. "I mean, leave alone whatever is up there. You're not gonna steal another Pokemon on my watch!"

His eyes set on her and his shoulders dropped,."Oh great, it's you again." He spat back, face red with anger. He took a Pokeball from his pocket and pointed it at her. "I don't have time to deal with you, so run along before I hurt you."

"Again?" Inyssa knit her eyebrows. "Oh! You were one of those losers back in Jubilife! Jonathan, was it? Well I'm sad to disappoint you but I'm in a bad mood and I don't feel like running from a weird cosplayer with anger issues." She also grabbed a Pokeball from her belt, a smile pasted on her face. "How about another battle? One on one this time."

"I'm Dione! That one was my partner, and his name is Janus, not... agh!" He threw both hands up in the air. "No point in talking, I'm gonna have to force you to leave."

He opened his Pokeball, and from it emerged a winged oval figure, purple and with a huge gaping mouth, sharp fangs glistening with poison. The Golbat soared in a circle above them, waiting for his master's orders.

"I'm going to see that in my nightmares," Inyssa whispered, eyes set on the horrible creature. "Kuro, take that thing out of the air!"

The Shinx appeared from the flash of light, and the moment he came into view a deep roar came from his mouth, shaking the grass around him and unnerving the bat Pokemon.

"Oh right, Intimidate." Dione grabbed a tuft of hair, biting his lower lip. "Good move, but I'm prepared for that. Air Cutter!"

"Spark! Right on his dumb mouth!"

Kuro ran at full speed towards his opponent, crackles of electricity covering his fur. Only a few feet from reaching him the Shinx jumped with all his strenght while Golbat batted his wings at incredible speed toward him. The wind created by his opponent cut Kuro's momentum short, sending him back towards the ground before he had a chance to land a hit. The Golbat suddenly stopped and his wings started vibrating quickly, coating them with a blue-ish glow as he prepared his next attack, the energy emanating from him being much stronger than Inyssa thought possible.

"Oh... right, Air Cutter is pretty strong." She bit her lip. "Kuro, try to dodg-"

Before she could finish her sentence something flew in between the leaves of the nearby tree and towards the Golbat. A small stone hit him right between the eyes with enough force to break his concentration. The energy from the attack he was readying dissipated into the air. He began to fly in circles, shrieking in pain.

A high pitched voice came from the tree, startling both trainers. "Yeah, take that you dum-dum!"

"Oh hey, it wasn't a Pokemon," Inyssa whispered, curling her lips into a smile. "Kuro, use Spark again!"

The Shinx didn't have to be told twice; before she even gave the command he ran once more towards the Golbat, and this time as he jumped he tackled him with so much force that the electric impulse sent him falling onto the bed of flowers at the side of the route. Dione's mouth gaped, his face turning red as realization came to him.

"Aaand the yellow devil Kuro takes his first official win against that flying abomination!" Inyssa yelled with her hands around her mouth, imitating a commentator's voice. "So Dyrone, do you have any more Pokemon or was that all you had to offer?"

She looked up at him, waiting for a response, but as soon as she did so her smile disappeared. All the signs of anger from the grunt's face were gone, turned into a mask of desperation and fear as he stood still looking at his defeated Pokemon.

"Oh man, oh man... ****, ****, ****!" He drove his hands into his hair, looking like he was about to rip it out. "This is bad... I'm going to... Mars is gonna..." He stammered as his voice broke. "No... I have to find reinforcements, maybe if I'm with Janus she won't... I have to hurry up before she finds out!"

Dione shot Inyssa a look that was a mix between anger and frustration, and without saying a word he turned around, running east towards a side path of Route 205. Inyssa took a deep breath, a satisfied smile on her face, and put Kuro back in his Pokeball for a very deserved rest. She walked towards the tree that the noise was coming from, and at its feet she looked up to see two almond eyes set on her.

"You can come down now," she told the kid, trying immitate Sarah's calming tone. "I scared the bad guy so he won't be bothering you anymore."

She heard a faint whimper coming from up there, and slowly the little girl started making her way down the tree, her limbs trembling. Inyssa put her hands up and helped her down by grabbing her legs as she slid towards her. Part of the girl's hair got on Inyssa's face as she fell on her arms, dark brown covering her vision and making her cough hair. As she placed her feet on the ground Inyssa could finally see her appearance; the kid must not have been more than eight, she was skinny and was wearing a green sundress with brown boots. Her breathing was heavy and her lips trembled from fear.

"Th...thank you Miss." She spoke almost in whispers, trying to form a smile. "You were really cool!"

"Heh... well, what can I say." Inyssa scratched her cheek, face reddening slightly. "All in a day's work I guess. Anyway, are you okay? Why was that loser chasing you, did he want to steal your Pokemon?"

"I'm Katie." She introduced herself, vowing down slightly. "I don't have Pokemon. He wanted to take me back, you have to help me Miss!"

"Hey, calm down." Inyssa placed a hand on the girl's shoulder. "You're safe now, okay? And you can call me... Niss." She paused for a second. "Huh, I guess it does sound kind of like Miss..."

"No, you don't understand, you have to help me!" Katie turned her hands into little fists and pouted. "Those weird people have my dad! I ran away and then he chased me but dad is still there!"

"Those Galactic guys kidnapped your father?" Katie nodded, her eyes welling up with tears. "Where is he?"

"He was working and I was there, and then those people appeared and they didn't want anyone to leave," Katie explained, talking faster and faster. "They're back there in the... wind thingies." Inyssa could see the kid trying to remember the place's name, but it wasn't necessary; she had studied the region's map very closely.

"You mean the Valley's Windworks?" she asked, and Katie nodded. "That's not too far from here."

"Dad is all alone and he needs help!" she cried, her voice breaking. "And the other lady's in there too! She was there and then she wasn't herself and it was scary and I..."

"Katie, listen to me," Inyssa whispered, looking her in the eyes. "It'll be okay, I'll get your dad, but I'm gonna need your help, okay?"

She nodded once more and Inyssa started to form a plan in her mind. If Katie's father was in trouble then the faster she moved the better, but she didn't know how well guarded the place was. Although even with a dozen of those fashion disasters running around she was pretty sure she could handle them as long as she was careful; besides, that would certainly look good on the news when the story spread around.

"Do you know where the Pokemon Center is?"

Katie pointed west, towards the main street of Floaroma. "Yeah... it's like five blocks away there."

"Good, I need you to run there and tell the nurse what happened." Inyssa said, trying to sound more confident than she was. "Make her call the police, and if you spot a blonde kid my age, with hair that looks like a banana, tell him too and explain to him where I am."

"Y-yes Niss." The kid smiled nervously. "Are you gonna go there alone?"

Inyssa twitched one corner of her mouth into a smile, and took a hand to her hair, attempting to look cool.

"I can handle it, don't worry about it," she assured her. "Now hurry before more of them show up."

Katie did as she was told and started running as fast as she could towards the city, her long brown hair waving behind her. Inyssa stood still on one knee, thinking. She felt a strange, cold shiver in her stomach but she did her best to ignore it. As she stood up her gaze turned toward the east, where Dione had run to. Without thinking twice about it she started walking in that direction, towards the Valley Windworks.

The air became heavy as she approached the building, the unique geography of the valley turning the place into a wind maelstrom. She needed both hands on her hat at all times just to prevent it from flying away, and pieces of grass were constantly hitting her in the face, forcing her to walk with her eyes half closed. On the bright side there was no way they could see her coming with so much dust in the air. The Windworks lay only a few feet from her; a wide, sturdy building with only two floors and almost no windows, the few it had being purposefully hidden from the wind's direction.

The first sign that something was wrong came to her as she saw the door wide open, the frame going forwards and backwards, slamming itself repeatedly due to the wind's strength. The inside looked like a poorly illuminated hallway, leading towards a bigger circular room in the middle. Inyssa stood in the door for almost a minute, thinking about how to proceed. Something inside her was telling her to turn around and leave; her legs were trembling and her lips were dry, but she attributed that mostly to the wind. Slowly she grabbed one of her Pokeballs, and stared at it for a few seconds.

"I can do this," she told no one, the wind swallowing her words. "I can do this. Steven, come out!"

The flash of light illuminated everything around her as the bird Pokemon appeared from it, his body instinctively adjusting to the powerful wind. Without much trouble he started flying in the same direction as it, moving his wings accordingly.

"Listen carefully, I need you to cover my surroundings," Inyssa told him when he came down to her shoulder. "I'm gonna go in and I don't know what's inside. You'll have to fly around the building and spy in between the windows. If you see people coming for me then distract them, and if the police or Barry come here you'll have to guide them to me. Do you understand?"

Steven nodded with his little head, and gave Inyssa a small bite on the cheek with his beak. She smiled, happy to have such a smart Pokemon around, and with a movement of her arm sent him upwards where the Starly began flying in circles once more.

Not wanting to put it off any longer, she entered through the door, her feet moving slowly and her eyes open wide as to take everything in. As she advanced the sound of the wind began to dissipate, the thick walls blocking any sound coming from the outside.

When she reached the end of the hallway she leaned her body against one of the walls and carefully looked around the corner, ready to grab a Pokeball in case of any trouble. However the lobby was empty, only a spacious circular space filled with nothing but pots, a couple of sofas and an empty receptionist's table in the middle. At the sides of the back right wall there were two other doors, one of them leading deeper into the building and the other one opening to a staircase which led to the second floor.

A deep, guttural grunt of pain made its way towards Inyssa, freezing her body as she heard it. Was that the girl's father? The thought made her legs move, and throwing caution to the wind she began running through the circular room and toward the hallway.

As she made her way through the narrow path the sound became clearer to the point where she could almost hear it next to her. She ignored all the office doors that she saw and simply kept running towards the main lab room. When she finally arrived she forgot to hide herself and busted through the door by kicking it.

The place was small, only containing two huge, strange-looking machines at the sides of the room and safety rails on the middle, forming a small path that led toward the next room. Inyssa came expecting a fight, but her body relaxed when she saw that next to the rails were only two people, one of whom was lying on the floor, hands covering his face and a moan of pain escaping his lips. Next to whom Inyssa recognized as Dione was his partner Janus, trying to help his friend to his feet. As soon as she appeared however, the tall Galactic grunt turned his head towards her, his previously gentle expression turning into a mask of rage.

"You!" His voice was nothing like his usual sultry tone, now becoming a guttural growl directed towards her. "You did this to him!"

Inyssa stopped in her tracks and tried to study both grunts, unable to see Dione's face. She frowned as she tried to put the pieces together.

"I only beat him in a Pokemon battle," she replied. "If later he tripped and broke his nose that's not my problem. Now tell me where do you have that girl's father before I make you." She tried to sound fierce, but a strange feeling in her chest made her words sound dull.

"You... you don't understand anything." Janus' spat back, arms still around his partner. "Because he failed... if I would've been there with him..." His voice broke down, and for a moment he seemed to be about to cry. "It doesn't matter; when she shows up you'll be done for. She's going to..."

"No one is going to harm anyone else here."

The voice came from the other side of the hallway, filling the entire room. From the door appeared a tall, bearded man dressed in a brown suit and hat. His facial features made him look around thirty, and although Inyssa could see most of his face, part of his eyes were obscured by his hat and flocks of brown hair.

"You two will cause no more harm in my laboratory." He spoke with a calm, low pitched voice that made Inyssa felt a small shiver on the back of her neck. "Greetings Miss, I assume you were the one to beat this... well I hesitate to call him a trainer," he said as he looked down at Dione.

Janus's face went from surprise to confusion, and for a second he seemed to be about to say something, but the tall man shot him a puzzling look and the Galactic grunt closed his mouth. Inyssa stared at him for a couple seconds, refusing to drop her guard.

"Yeah, I'm the one," she replied, head high. "Are you the girl's father? She told me you were being held prisoner."

His mouth twisted into a strange smile as he let out a small laugh. "Ah yes, Katie that wonderful angel. If it weren't for her I wouldn't have had the chance to set myself free, but with only one of these idiots around that ceased to be a problem."

Inyssa's body relaxed after hearing Katie's name, and she allowed herself to smile.

"I'm glad I could help out. Your daughter... she's a very brave girl."

"I guess she got that from her father." The man laughed, slowly walking closer. "Where is she now? Did she make it safely to the city?"

"Yeah, I made sure she went straight to the Pokemon Center." Inyssa explained, putting her hand away from her belt full of Pokeballs. "She was going to tell the nurse to contact the police, so they should be here any moment now."

"Perfect, that should wrap up things here." He slapped his palms together and smiled, perhaps too brightly, while close to him Janus trembled with fear. "I believe that would be those shapes approaching from the west, don't you think?" He pointed towards the window at the back of Inyssa, eyes covered in shadow.

"What? Oh yeah they sh..." She turned around, gaze trying to focus in the outside of the building.

There was no one there.

She didn't have time to process what happened. Her entire body trembled as the air around her became heavy and she was suddenly unable to breathe. Her limbs froze and her throat turned dry. A hand grabbed her by the arm with almost enough force to dislocate her shoulder and lifted her upwards, taking her feet of the ground and forcing a painful grunt out of her. Before she could react she felt another hand taking grabbing her belt, and with it all of her Pokeballs.

"To be honest..." The voice behind her spoke slowly, savoring every word. "I didn't think the person who defeated Dione would be so easily fooled by a trick like this."

She tried to turn around but as soon as she did the person holding her threw her forward, her body flying a few feet toward the hallway's entrance. A sharp pain pierced her left arm as she fell on it, her mind going momentarily blank by the impact. She heard a couple of voices near her, and the vibrations of someone walking towards her resonated inside her head. Painfully she tried to get up, only managing to sit, right arm supporting the rest of her body, gaze looking upwards to the man who had just assaulted her. She could see his eyes now, a dull, muddy red looking down at her, as his lips were contorted into a cold smile. On his left hand he held Inyssa's belt with all of her Pokeballs in it.

"Wh..." She tried to speak, but her voice came out weak. "You... give me that back!" She yelled with all the strength she had. "Aren't you the girl's... are you on their side?"

"I'm afraid I... ah, pulled your leg, metaphorically speaking." He laughed at his own joke, placing a hand over his mouth. "But no, I'm not Katie's father, he is safely tied up in the back room, waiting until this all blows over." He explained, his voice melodious. "As for my true identity... well, just see for yourself. I'm sure that will be much more educational than a boring explanation."

The man took a step forward, positioning himself a few inches from her. He closed his eyes and raised both hands slightly. For a few seconds nothing happened, but just when Inyssa was about to stand up she heard it; a horrible, reverberating sound filled the air as the man's body began to melt. She couldn't find another word to describe it; she watched in horror as his skin, hair and clothes began to bubble and shift as if they were made of rubber, turning into a bright, pink substance. The strange blob contracted and began accumulating on the stranger's shoulder, forming what appeared to be an irregular flat body with two dot eyes and a stretched mouth which was a simple line.

What a few moments ago was a tall, dark haired man now appeared before her as a young woman dressed in almost the same uniform as the two Galactic grunts behind her, with a Ditto sitting on her shoulders. Her hair was the color of blood, and her face was angular and slim, a long smile pasted onto her thin lips. The only thing that hadn't changed about her were those cold red eyes, now set directly on Inyssa.

"What... what the **** are you!?" The words came out of her mouth without her realizing, and she unconsciously started sliding backwards, away from the strange woman.

"You may call me Mars," she stated matter of factly as she performed a short, mocking bow. "I am one of Team Galactic's four commanders. And this right here is my dear companion." She looked to the side at the Ditto on her shoulder, who's expression was still blank. "He doesn't have a name, so feel free to call him whatever you want, all right?"

She slowly walked toward Inyssa, whose body was frozen by the horrible chill behind the woman's voice. Behind her, Dione's whines had stopped, and now the man simply stood still as he held his face on his hands.

"Get away from me!" Inyssa's voice came out as a shriek, until she realized that yelling was pointless. That woman called Mars still had all of her Pokeballs, and even if she tried to run she wouldn't get far. She had to think of another way out. "I... I mean... how did you... do that?" She tried to sound collected but her voice was breaking from fear.

Mars smiled as her eyes glanced towards the Ditto. "I'm afraid that's a secret," she replied, crossing her arms playfully. "If I went around telling everyone then no one would find me interesting! Let's just say... my Ditto here is a very cooperative fellow."

Inyssa frowned, not understanding a word out of the woman's mouth. She looked everywhere, her mind racing to think of a way to get out of the situation she was in. Maybe if she just bought some time the police would arrive and save her.

"Who are you people?" she asked, hoping for a long answer. "What are you trying to do here?"

"We are Team Galactic." She performed another mocking bow. "But according to dear Dione you already knew that. We've been trying to create a new world that's better than this one, although people have shown little understanding about our goals and motives. I would hope a bright youth like you would understand, but unfortunately I am not allowed to say more. It's a little saddening..."

She nodded slowly, pretending to understand her words, and when she realized that was the only answer she was going to get on the matter she decided to change the subject.

"Then, if Katie's father didn't break out, what happened to him?" She pointed at Dione, momentarily supporting her body with the rails at her side.

"That's none of your business!" Janus' scream was heard from the other side of the room as he held his friend in his arms. "It was all your fault!"

"Now now Janus, don't be rude." Mars raised her left hand toward him and he instantly closed his mouth. "For your information, this is now the third time Dione has failed to complete his objective, and every time, just before it happened, he assured me he had everything under control." Her gaze drifted from the wounded man to Inyssa. "Whether from lies or misjudgement of his own abilities, I don't appreciate being misinformed. So I punished him slightly, as to motivate him to grow stronger in the future."

For the first time since Inyssa entered the room, she heard Dione's voice.

"And I deserve what happened, my commander!" His high pitched voice sounded pained and irregular, as if he were having difficulty speaking. "I promise... I won't let you down again!"

Janus simply looked at his friend, lips trembling and eyes wide open. Mars glanced back at him and smiled.

"That doesn't answer my question. What did you do to him?"

Mars stood still for a few seconds. The silence around her became heavy and opressive, swallowing everything in its path.

"Have you ever heard the story..." she whispered, eyes lost in thought, "...of the hero who traded their eye for a better sight?"

Inyssa's heart sunk, a painful cold washing over her. She looked towards the wounded man at the other side of the hallway, a part of her not wanting to see it but too curious to avoid it. The hand Dione was using to cover part of his face was dripping with blood, right over where his left eye should have been. A gasp got caught in her throat. Her entire body was shaking now, any sign of bravery or calmness thrown out the window as she lay kneeling on the floor, immobile and scared out of her mind.

"Now..." Mars broke the silence, her voice cutting the air like a knife on cloth. "Do you have any more questions, kid?"

She spoke as if she were a teacher prompting a student, but Inyssa could feel the threat in her voice. She tried to think of anything to say to buy a little more time, but her mind was blank. Her eyes darted around the room looking for anything that could help her, and right when she thought she was doomed she saw a speck of grey behind one of the windows near her. Mars couldn't see it since it was behind her, but Steven's silhouette was on the other side, watching Inyssa intently, waiting for orders.

With enormous effort she got to her feet, fingers closed around the bar of the handrail next to her.

"I think that's all; thanks for the information." She did her best to smile, even though her body was still shaking. "And my name is Inyssa, not kid." She finally managed to stand up, and with burning gaze she set her eyes on Mars' red ones. "Steven, now!"

The window exploded into a hail of broken glass as Steven crashed in, wings covered in energy. Mars was taken aback for a moment as the flying Pokemon's beak approached Inyssa's belt. Unfortunately she was quick to react and was able to get it out of the way just before Steven could reach it; as it was he could only hit one of the Pokeballs with his wings, sending it rolling towards Inyssa. He veered upwards and flew to his master, landing on her shoulders.

"Commander Mars!" Janus' voice was heard over the torrent of wind now entering through the window. "Are you okay?"

Mars lifted her left hand towards him, and once again Janus stopped talking immediately.

"I'm fine Janus, thanks for your concern," she said. "It was my own fault for not paying attention."

Inyssa gripped the Pokeball on her hand as strongly as possible. Her plan had only half worked, she couldn't retrieve her belt but maybe with two of her Pokemon at her disposal she could get the rest back. Steven was chirping loudly on her shoulder, ready to fight, and with both aerial and ground coverage she could probably overwhelm whatever Mars had in store. She pressed the button on the Pokeball and a flash of light invaded the room. She crossed her fingers, hoping Enma would appear, but her heart dropped as she saw the silhouette of a Bidoof forming itself from that light. Bertha emerged in between Mars and her, eyes sunken and a concerned expression on her face.

"Bertha..." Inyssa's tone of disappointment was as plain as day. "It... it doesn't matter, I can still do this." She told herself, breathing deeply. "Bertha, listen! We have to fight to save the rest of our friends!"

The small rodent Pokemon didn't move for a few seconds, looking directly at her master. Her head moved up and down slowly, in what she considered a nod, and with her whole body shaking she turned to face Mars. The woman was simply cleaning off specks of dust of her uniform, not a line of concern on her face.

"A Pokemon fight, eh? I'm a bit rusty on that field but..." She shrugged. "I can't say no after you got me like that." She looked over her shoulder toward the door at the other side of the room. "Hey, how much until we finish gathering all the energy we need!?"

Two figures appeared at the other side of the door; the Galactic grunts seemed to be trying to spy on their boss and the intruder. One of them approached Mars carefully, eyes avoiding hers.

"It'll only be a couple more minutes, commander." He spoke reverently, head down. "We should probably ready our escape."

"Tell Charon to ready the Pokemon, instruct them to teleport us away when it's needed. And as for Dione..." She turned to the wounded man, and for a moment Janus looked like he'd throw himself between them. "Help Janus carry him, and make sure he gets medical care once we're back at the base."

The grunt did as he was told; he grabbed Dione by the arm and together with Janus they helped him get on his feet. Once he got up Inyssa could finally see the mess of red that showed what was left of his left eye, now only a mush of meat that made her stomach turn. The man looked up for the first time, and his remaining eye tried to find hers. The part of his face that wasn't covered in blood was twisted into a terrible expression of rage and pain that paralyzed Inyssa. Just before he was carried away he opened his mouth and uttered words that were lost into the wind. Whatever it was, she didn't think it was something nice.

"And now that we're finally alone..." Mars spoke with a melodious tone, hiding her right hand behind her back. "Shall we begin?"

From the pocket of her skirt she grabbed a completely white Pokeball, with only a small red line going through the middle. She pressed its button without much fanfare and another flash of light exploded in front of her, taking the shape of a fat, quadruped cat-like Pokemon. His body was quite bigger than it's pre-evolution and his face had lost all prettiness it previously had. The Purugly produced a sound from its throat that was half between a growl and a purr, his expression that of annoyance.

Inyssa cringed at the sight of that thing, her heart pounding on her chest. A fully evolved Pokemon? Even two on one it was going to be a nightmare fighting that thing. But she couldn't let worry consume her now, her friends needed her.

"Bertha, use Defense Curl! Steven, Double Team!" She did her best to put all her will into her voice, even if the wind was covering most of it.

"Faint Attack on Starly." Mars spoke, arms crossed and only barely paying attention to the fight.

The Bidoof positioned herself on the ground, and a strange blue aura started covering her entire body, fortifying her defenses. Meanwhile Steven jumped into the air and his body began glowing, many different fakes of himself surrounding him and obscuring his location. The Purugly simply observed this happen as he lazily walked towards both of them, eyes gleaming with hostility. His body crouched, the muscles on his legs contracting, and with a sudden jump he appeared in front of all the Starlies, claws brimming with dark energy. With a huge arc the slash hit every one of them, effortlessly finding the real one and sending him towards the floor where he barely managed to stay above ground, a deep cut on the side of his body.

"Steven! ****, I forgot about Faint Attack..." She bit her thumb while thinking about her next move. "Use Wing Attack! Bertha, cover him with Rollout!"

"Fury Swipes." Mars whispered.

The Starly flew as high as possible, and with all the power of his fall he threw himself at the Purugly, wings glowing white. The cat Pokemon prepared himself for an attack, but just before he jumped Bertha started running towards him, turning her body into a fur ball and rolling with enormous strength at him. The impact distracted him long enough for Steven to fall on top of him, pushing him back a few feet and throwing him off balance.

Inyssa thought he was down, but the moment he fell his body sprang right back into action, now moving as if his laziness hadn't existed before. His eyes glowed bright red, and his expression shifted into one of bloodlust. With a mighty roar he jumped right back at his opponents with a flurry of slashes that caught both Pokemon off guard. Inyssa heard their screeches as their bodies hit the floor near her, both Pokemon having deep wounds on different parts of their bodies. Bertha was still conscious and trying to stand up with much difficulty, while Steven was breathing heavily, unable to move.

Her mouth was dry as she watched her only hope being defeated so easily. Mars formed a sly smile and tried to contain a chuckle.

"I..." She didn't want to say those words, but she wasn't going to put her Pokemon in any more danger. "I give u-"

A barely audible growl interrupted her, coming from Bertha. She had managed to stand up, and her eyes were brimming with determination, gaze set on the Purugly.

"You can't fight anymore." Inyssa told her. "It's okay, we'll find another way to..."

It happened before she had a chance to stop it. Bertha started running once more towards her opponent, body turning into a rolling ball which traveled a lot faster than before. Inyssa didn't get a chance to let a word out, she simply searched desperately for Bertha's Pokeball on her pocket, but it was already too late.

"Faint Attack." Mars' voice reached her. The Purugly in front of her formed a wicked smile.

Bertha's body, now covered in blood, accelerated with incredible speed towards the cat Pokemon, as he once more jumped into action, sharp claws brimming with light. The impact destroyed the near safety rails and the dust forced Inyssa to close her eyes. When it finally settled she could see two bodies on the floor, immobile. The Purugly lay unconscious in front of her master, growling in pain, and in front of him...

Inyssa's heart stopped. Bertha's body was motionless, every part of her covered in red. Her chest didn't move; she wasn't breathing.

She fell to her knees, eyes wide open and limbs frozen. A few feet from her, Mars returned the Purugly to his Pokeball.

"What a shame, having to take a Pokemon's life..." Her voice was now slow and contemplating, eyes still set on Inyssa. "I assure you that was not my plan; I'd hoped you would have better control over your Pokemon..."

Inyssa's body moved on its own. While on her knees she grabbed a piece of broken glass that was near her, and before she knew it she began running towards Mars, a weapon on her hand and the sound of the distant wind deafening her scream. She expected the woman to dodge or to call upon another Pokemon, but she didn't move. Inyssa was merely inches from her; she punched the air with the piece of broken glass, aiming directly at her face.

There was a flash of movement, and then an indescribable pain flared throughout her body. Inyssa glanced down, noticing the distinct shape of Mars' left fist buried in her gut. Air escaped her lungs and before she knew it she was on the ground again, face against the cold, ceramic floor. Mars' voice rang above her.

"What an interesting girl you are," she said, laughter in her voice. "You... remind me of someone. As a sign of my gratitude for helping me kill time, I'll return this to you."

Inyssa's belt fell next to her face, full of her unopened Pokeballs.

"I'll be taking my leave now, but I do hope that we'll meet again." For once she could feel a speck of honesty in Mars' voice. "Until next time."

She tried to raise her head, her blurry sight only catching a glimpse of the woman's body as she turned around and left through the door. Her vision began to darken as her body became more unresponsive. In the distance Inyssa heard a familiar voice, Barry's voice, coming from behind her. She tried to respond, tried to say something, but she couldn't even open her mouth.

She finally closed her eyes, her last sight that of Mars' back, and fell into unconsciousness.
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Gone. Not coming back.
Ah, so the story threads are starting to cross over now! I suppose I should have expected that – a destroyed bridge really should make the news; like, bridges are there because people need to get from A to B, and when they're not there any more that's really kind of inconvenient. And the mysterious woman from the opening has returned to the western edge of Sinnoh, too – which of course brings her straight into Inyssa's path. At the same time, Inyssa herself is getting more and more involved in Galactic's affairs, so I suppose these two are going to run into each other again before all this is over with.

Speaking of which! She's now actively disrupting their operations, which is quite a sudden step up; I like that her impulsiveness takes her just as far as the front door before her brain catches up with everything and goes wait, uh, this is actually kinda scary. And then obviously she falls at the first hurdle, gulled by someone pulling the most obvious trick in the world. She really needs a better eye for judging a situation, huh. C'mon, Niss, they're not gonna let Katie's dad wander around intimidating the Galactic grunts! Although I have to say, you caught me off guard with the whole 'wearing a ditto as a molten meatsuit' thing; I was wondering where Mars was and how this random dude figured into all this. You admittedly also caught me off guard with the fact that she literally pulled Dione's eye out. That seems pretty drastic! Cyrus must have a really high opinion of Mars' abilities to have promoted her to this sort of position, I guess; he seems like the kind of man who'd find this sort of brutality distasteful. Or possibly he just doesn't bother interfering and doesn't particularly notice.

Anyway, Inyssa then proceeds to get the crap kicked out of her, which I think I started to see coming somewhere around the moment when she fell for Mars' trick. That's a really interesting scene in-game, of course, where you beat Mars and then, you know, everyone just leaves anyway because they already did what they came here to do; you can definitely reinterpret that as the protagonist having lost without actually having to change anything, which is kind of cool. And Bertha goes down, too! Man. Wasn't quite expecting that, although as I think I mentioned before this did give me a nuzlocke kinda vibe in terms of its tone, so perhaps I should've expected a bit of character death here and there.

Also, and this is really just a nice character touch, Inyssa continues her trend of strenuously insisting that she's much too cool to enjoy things. I quite like that about her; she can't just come out and say she likes how cheerful and bright Floaroma is, of course, but these things sort of slide grudgingly out of her into the narration anyway. It's rather endearing.

It's a long way but we should be able to make it in less than a day if we hurry.

Interesting! I'm always intrigued by the scale of other people's interpretations of the pokémon world. I always end up making these places much bigger than the game implies, because I feel like interpreting each region as a whole country is a way of getting across the sense of scale that Pokémon world has for me, but I quite like these small-scale versions of things, too. It gives things a different feel that I rather enjoy.

And of course, here's the usual list of typos and other nitpicky things:

She had to force him to save it on his badge case after a few minutes

That should be 'in' rather than 'on'; that it's a case implies you keep things inside it.

but Inyssa did not want to spend another minute in such smoke-filled dump.

You're missing an 'a' between 'such' and 'smoke-filled'.

"He'll make sure we don't slack off in the road there."

This time, that should be 'on' rather than 'in'.

With an exasperated sigh she looked at the Pokétch and answered the call; the device being much bigger and personalized than the version Inyssa had gotten from Jubilife city.

That second clause there doesn't quite work; it needs to be a full sentence to be grammatical. I might rewrite the start so it goes something like 'her device was much bigger and more personalised'.

"Something happened in route 206..."

Again, this should be 'on' rather than 'in'.

Palmer's eyes lit up with the same fire that Barry's.

That should be 'as' rather than 'that's'.

"But... what's going to happen now?" She asked, desperation on her voice.

Two things here: one, that should be 'in' rather than 'on', and two, you don't need to capitalise 'she' here.

"Kids please, this is serious,-

Looks like you've accidentally put a hyphen instead of a quotation mark at the end here.

Se dropped the sentence,

Missing an H in 'She' here.

tough she almost failed at that.

And an H out of 'though' here.

you'll have you to run some recognisance around the crime scene."

That looks like a typo for 'reconnaissance' to me.

"Hop in, kids!

This one should be 'on' rather than 'in' – they're getting onto the salamence's back, rather than inside the salamence itself. Also, minor thing, but 'salamence' is spelled with an E rather than an A.

"Are you sure this is your best form of transportation?" She asked Palmer, her hands shaking.

Again, 'she' doesn't need to be capitalised; even if dialogue ends with a question mark, the following attribution doesn't take a capital letter.

"Yeah sure, I already have a speed dial for covering you up." Sarah said as she showed her Pokétch, sardonic tone.

That should be a comma after 'up' rather than a full stop, and I think there might be something like 'in a' or 'with a' missing before 'sardonic tone'.

A smile formed on her lipsas her breath was taken by the amazing view.

Missing a space between 'lips' and 'as'.

While her face was getting accustomed with the dirt beneath her she heard Barry talking to her.

I think that might be meant to be 'acquainted' rather than 'accustomed', although if you did want to stick with 'accustomed', you could do that by switching 'with' for 'to'.

She imagined she must have looked like a foreigner from her clothes, since everyone seemed to be wearing some variation of summer attires, lots of sundresses and beach shorts.

That should be 'attire' rather than 'attires' – it's an uncountable noun, so it can't be pluralised. In this sense at least.

She spiraled between the strangely shapen alleyways around the nearby houses

That should be 'shaped' rather than 'shapen'.

"Hey, Galactic clown!" She yelled as high as she could,

I think she might be trying to yell as loud as she could, rather than as high. Also, again, 'she' doesn't need to be capitalised here.

He threw both hands up in the air.

He threw his only Pokeball into the air,

The repetition of 'threw X in the air' is a bit jarring, I think.

Kuro ran at full speed towards his opponent, cackles of electricity covering his fur.

You're missing an R in 'crackles' here.

"Oh... right, Air Cutter is pretty strong." Inyssa whispered to herself,

"Oh hey, it wasn't a Pokemon." Inyssa whispered

Two more instances where there should be a comma rather than a full stop.

Dione's mouth gaped, his face turning read as realization came to him.

That should be 'red' rather than 'read'.

"You can come down now." She told the kid, trying immitate Sarah's calming tone.

That should be a comma after 'now', and 'she' should go uncapitalised.

they didn't want anyone to leave." Katie explained,

Another instance of a full stop instead of a comma.

"You mean the Valley's Windworks?" She asked,

'She' shouldn't be capitalised here.

"Dad is all alone and he needs help!" She cried,

Same here.

"I can handle it, don't worry about it." She assured her.

And here.

the Galactic grunts seemed to be trying to spy their boss and the intruder.

Missing an 'on' between 'spy' and 'their' here.

"Help Janus carry him, and make sure he gets medical care once we're back on the base."

That should be 'at' rather than 'on'.

this time with twice the strength of her previous attack

This seems odd – it's a very visual description, except for this one line; is there a visible difference between this rollout and the last that lets people know it's stronger? If not, it seems a bit of a strange thing to throw out there.

A few feet from her, Mars returned the Purugly to his Pokeball..

There's an extra full stop in there.

Ger voice was now slow and contemplating, eyes still set on Inyssa.

And you've got a G for an H at the beginning of 'Her' here.

Yeah! Really nicely done, I think. This story's opening act definitely feels like it's giving way to the main action at this point. I'm excited to see where you go from here!


Journey Enthusiast
To Cutlerine: Once more, thank you so much for your feedback and help <3 This is in my opinion when the story starts getting places, if that makes sense, so I'm really glad you feel the same. As for some of the things you said in your corrections.... oh my god, I always thought it was cackle instead of crackle... I'm gonna have to change so many chapters, but still thanks for telling me. And as for the Rollout thing I was trying to show in-universe its effect of getting stronger every time you use it, but I worded it poorly, so I fixed it a little bit.

Alright, next chapter.


Chapter 11: A Light Meeting

The nurse was kind enough to let Inyssa bury her Pokemon, which she appreciated.

A sharp pain hit her arm as she drove the shovel into the ground, the metal handle feeling cold against the bandages on her right hand. She took a deep breath, tasting the cold air and sent the shovel down again with enough force to send dirt flying everywhere, covering her boots in mud.

If anything, it was a good way to express her anger, she thought as she kept digging. Barry was next to her doing the same thing, head down and eyes missing their usual brightness. Behind her the nurse was still asking if she needed any help, and when she replied that she didn't the woman started talking again about how sometimes these things happened, how it wasn't her fault, and if she needed anyone to talk to...

But Inyssa stopped listening at that point. The only relief she could find now was the surge of pain every time she drove the shovel down. It gave her an excuse not to talk, an excuse to ignore everyone's inquisitive eyes and their questions, so many questions. She'd been the only person in the Windworks who wasn't a Galactic grunt, besides Katie's father who was at the time tied up in the basement, and as such the police relied on her to tell them what had happened. She'd already told the story once to them, by obligation, and she was not going to do it again to the rest of the kids in the Pokemon Center just because they were curious.

One of them even told her that she was really cool for trying to fight a criminal organization alone; if Barry hadn't stopped her that kid's nose would have been broken right there.

She raised her gaze to him, but his friend wasn't looking her way, only worrying about the hole he was digging. He hadn't said anything since they started, or more specifically since she told the story when he was near; he simply placed a hand on her shoulder and accompanied her to one of the flower fields outside the city, shovel in hand.

Inyssa figured he'd heard everything he needed, just her leaving him alone again and going off to do something dangerous. She could see he wanted to tell her something about it but the opportunity wasn't right; if he scolded her for abandoning him right after she lost her Pokemon he would look like a jerk. He was probably waiting until things blew over, bottling up his anger.

The thought made her even madder, sending heat to her arms and making her use even more force on her digging. So what if she didn't come for him for help? The opportunity just wasn't right, and she needed to hurry; she didn't know that Katie's father wasn't in mortal danger. It's what had to be done; it's what any respected trainer would've done.

It's what her sister would've done.

Her hands stopped, leaving the shovel inches from the ground. The thought killed all her strength and she suddenly felt cold and sore.

She'd never thought about it like that. Was that why... was that the reason Shadi disappeared? Did she go too far trying to do things alone? Maybe she had underestimated her enemies just like Inyssa did, except she wasn't lucky enough to survive it. Her eyes went to Barry once more. Was that what he thought of her? He probably saw her as just another Shadi, just another reckless trainer who was going to get herself killed because she never asked for help.

She bit her lip, furious. If that's what he thought then she didn't need him around. She didn't need anyone; one did not become Champion by asking others for help. And if that thinking lead her to her death... well, it was what everyone expected from her anyways, and it would be what she deserved.

She opened her mouth slightly, wanting to say something to Barry, something hurtful for what he surely was thinking, but his voice interrupted her before she had the chance to speak.

"I'm sorry." His voice came out faded, barely above a whisper. "I should've been with you."

His words caught her off guard, replacing the anger she felt with a numb feeling of confusion. She looked at him for a couple seconds, not sure what to think, and then just looked down and started digging again.

"What are you talking about? It wasn't your fault," she replied. "I screwed up so don't blame yourself for it."

She could see her friend's shoulders drop, and the expression she mistook for anger now looked more like guilt.

He stopped digging for a second, letting out a small sigh. "We're supposed to be like... like the two best trainers, you know? Always together, always saving each other's butts. But I'm never there for you. I'm never there to help you."

Inyssa stared at him dumbfounded. Was he... blaming himself for what happened in the Windworks? That didn't make any sense, there was no way he could've done anything, it had all been her fault. His thinking was so illogical that she wanted to walk to him and smack him on the back of the head for being such an idiot. She narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to say something, to say that she didn't need his help, but...

"I... I'll make sure to call you next time," she said. "It's not your fault, Barry. I underestimated those Galactic grunts. It will not happen again."

"You're darn right it won't!" For the first time in hours Barry drew a smile at her, and for a moment Inyssa's pain seemed to disappear. "Because next time we'll beat them right back to outer space or wherever they got those uniforms from."

"If you say so..." Inyssa shrugged, cleaning her eyelids with her sleeve.

And with a final, painful push into the dirt she finished the hole they had been working on. She threw the shovel to the ground and stood still for several seconds, her breathing ragged. It was around four feet deep and twice as wide as Bertha was, so she figured it'd be good enough. With slow steps she turned around and approached the small bundle of white that lay between the flower beds, looking so out of place amidst such vibrant colors. She grabbed the sheet-covered corpse of Bertha and without saying anything she deposited her in the hole.

Barry started pouring dirt on top of Bertha, while Inyssa simply stared with unfocused and foggy eyes. Barely aware of her movements, her fingers closed around the stem of the gracidea she had spent an entire hour trying to find, and tried to place it on top of the grave. For some reason she couldn't quite put it in the center; her arm was shaking too much.

Barry's fingers fell on top of hers, and with his help she was able to plant it.

She heard the nurse's steps getting closer, and a soft hand patted her on the shoulder.

"The flowers change here every year. Soon a new field of color will bloom on top of this grave," she said. "I'm sure she will be happy resting here."

"Eh, it'll do I guess." Inyssa shrugged, perhaps too strongly. "Could be better. If it were me I'd want a whole party around my funeral; some marble statues of me, maybe a couple flying jets doing pirouettes around my grave... you know, go out with some style."

Laughter sprouted from her, wild and sharp and just a little bit unhinged. The nurse shifted her gaze from her to the boy, unsure if that was a joke or not. It didn't last long however, and soon she felt her smile drop dead as the silence grew around her once more.

She stood there, waiting, expecting someone to say something. Should she say something? She remembered a lot of people giving eulogies for her father when she was young, but she was never good at talking about others. She simply put a hand over the cold dirt and lowered her head, trying to cover the wetness in her eyes.

"I'm sorry." She spoke between sobs, eyes closed and wind roaring in her ears. "You deserved better than this."

Two days passed before the nurse saw her fit enough to leave the Pokemon Center; not that she wouldn't have escaped again if she had any way to get to Eterna City, but as it was she decided to play the good little trainer act and for once did what she was told. She used that time to train her Pokemon, challenging any and all trainers she was able to find. She would not be underprepared for a fight again.

The only one of her Pokemon who didn't seem thrilled with the idea was Steven, who simply flew around town, occasionally coming to the Pokemon Center to eat and cuddle with her, not having any desire to fight. She didn't blame him, especially after what he'd seen in the Windworks. He deserved a rest.

She slid back on the sofa she was sitting on and took a sip of the cup on her hands, considering her options for the day. There was still no news about the Route 206 incident, and if she had to wait another day she could probably go challenge the Floaroma trainer school. She heard steps behind her and soon enough Barry sat alongside her, a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and a raisin covered cookie on the other.

"Do you know who ate all the donuts?" he asked, a defeated look on his face.

"No, do you know if leptons are compound particles?" she replied, her cheek resting on her hand.

"Is that a reference to something? I swear, you probably don't know half of the smarty pants words you always use." He took a big chunk of the cookie with a single bite. "So, what are we doing today?"

She opened her mouth to speak but Barry interrupted her by raising a finger.

"And before you say it, no more training." He knit his eyebrows. "Everything hurts from yesterday and I'm not the one who was in the infirmary."

"I can manage by myself if you wanna sit this one out." She shrugged. "I'm perfectly fine, thank you."

"A previously dislocated arm, two deep cuts on your hand, a swollen cheek and a lot of bruises..." Barry listed with his fingers like it was a grocery list. "Come on Niss, take it easy, if you keep at it I'm gonna have to pick you up with a wheelbarrow next time."

"I didn't think you'd have the attention span to remember all that."

"Wow, rude." He wrinkled his nose, pretending to be offended by her comment. "Seriously though, I have a great idea for today. Take a look at this!"

He bit the rest of the cookie and started rummaging through his pockets, finally finding what appeared to be a small poster that was curled into a ball. Inyssa deposited the cup on the table in front of her and opened up the piece of paper, revealing some artwork representing a small blue robot with a blaster gun on his right hand. On the top of the poster, with giant red and yellow letters it read Punkman: Super number 8.

"See? The new Punkman game is coming out today!" Barry extended both arms as if trying to showcase how amazing the poster was. "They're letting kids try it in the Game Corner of the city, and if we get lucky we could get the Poketch version!

"That... does actually sound really good. I've been waiting for this one for a long time." She admitted, eyebrows perking up. "I just hope after so many release delays the game will still be good."

"I'm sure it'll be awesome, I mean the main developer is still working on it." He pointed at the man's name on the poster, as if she couldn't read it herself. "So that's it then! We'll go to the Game Corner to play videogames and we won't worry about anything else today. Sounds like a plan to me!"

She sighed, trying to hide her excitement. "Fine, but remember: videogames won't save you next time."

"Great! Just let me get my backpack and we'll be off." Barry jumped out of the sofa like a spring and started heading towards his room.

Inyssa finished what was left of her drink and simply let herself lean against the pillow behind her, eyes closing slowly. Her body was stiff, and getting to the Game Corner was going to be hell although not as much as training her Pokemon all day again. Still, she refused to stay there doing nothing like half the trainers around; comfort wouldn't get her anywhere. She opened her eyes again and lazily got up from her seat, leaning on her left arm with difficulty. She breathed deeply and stretched her extremities, her entire body protesting. Absentmindedly she moved her sight towards the outside of the building, and her eyes opened up wide.

A flash of pink disappeared from one of the nearby buildings, so fast that she could only make up that color with a side glance. She froze, eyes still set on the corner she saw that colorful flash from, and she felt a need to go out and investigate for herself. There was no way, she thought, she probably just saw someone else by mistake and...

Before she could move she noticed another two figures approaching the Pokemon Center that she hadn't paid attention to before. She felt a shiver on her spine at the sight of a tall, well-dressed man with long brown hair and beard, his young daughter next to him. Katie and her father were coming right towards her. Panic hit her like a truck as she began clumsily looking around to pick up everything that belonged to her and putting it on her backpack at record speed. She looked everywhere around for Barry, and when she finally found him walking down the stairs she ran towards him and tried to hide behind him, attracting some side glances from the other kids around.

"Hey- whoah, what's going on!?"

"It's... it's the girl! It's the girl I saved and her father, they're looking for me!" She stuttered, grabbing onto the back of her friends' shirt. "Dammit Barry, you're too skinny for me to hide behind! If you're gonna eat so much then at least gain some weight for Mew's sake!"

"There are walls around you know," he replied, still thoroughly confused. "And why are you hiding from them? They're probably here to thank you for what you did."

She stomped the ground. "That's the problem! I... I don't want to deal with that, it's gonna be stressful and sad and I don't want anything to do with it."

"Well what are we supposed to do? They're coming from the front door," Barry pointed. "And I don't think there's a secret back door around, like the one in the school's cafeteria we used all the time."

"I... well..." She bit her lip. "I know! There's a window in your room, right?"

Barry tilted his head to the side, eyes narrowed, "Niss, my room is on the second floor. I don't think that's gonna fly, nor us for that matter."

She grabbed him by the arm and started dragging him towards the stairs with an air of desperation.

"Come on, I can handle it!"

Inyssa could not handle it, as it turned out. An ill-advised fall, some quite colorful insults and a couple minutes later both kids were walking through the busy streets of Floaroma, the pained girl leaning with one arm against Barry.

"Next time leave the crazy ideas for me," he said, a sly smile on his face. "That was a good one, lots of potential, but it lacked a bit of polish."

"I'm gonna break your leg if you don't stop talking," she grumbled while limping alongside him. "I... didn't have much time to think, okay? I had to go with the first thing that came to mind."

She could see Barry still smiling, but for some reason he felt more jumpy than usual. Maybe it was because she was leaning against him but she thought he was looking around way too often. Right after she said that she caught him looking behind them, eyes narrowed.

"Yeah, about that. I still don't get why we ran away," he said. "I thought you liked being praised by people."

"That's... not true. Stop making things up." She grit her teeth, her face flushed. "I didn't want to make things awkward. They probably wanted to thank me even though I didn't do anything; I didn't want to deal with that."

"Nothing? You saved that little girl! And who knows what that psychopath would've done to her dad if you didn't buy so much time?"

"They would've been fine," Inyssa assured him. "If I didn't interfere Katie and her dad would've been released after Team Galactic finished their job, and I would still have Bertha." There was a lot of bitterness attached to her tone. "And that guy, Dione, wouldn't have lost his eye if it wasn't for me."

Barry let out a strong chuckle that made her jump a bit; he looked at her as if he didn't believe her words. "Are you seriously feeling sorry for that jerk? He deserved to get both eyes taken out!"

Inyssa raised an eyebrow, unaccustomed to such an angry expression crossing her friend's face.

"You okay?" she asked in a soft tone. "That didn't sound like you at all."

"Huh? Oh, yeah..." His cheeks turned red. "Yeah... I'm just still mad about what happened. Don't worry about it."

They kept walking, every minute getting farther from the main street and the Pokemon Center. According to the map the Game Corner was placed somewhere in the north-east of town, where all the entertainment businesses were located. With some luck they could get there before mid day, and maybe after Barry and her could get something to eat in a nearby restaurant. The possibility was still dancing in her head when she noticed something strange; Barry was consistently poking her in the back in a rhythm that seemed... deliberate, almost. She looked at him expecting to see him smiling but she only found a grim expression on his face, eyes narrowed and teeth clenched. The boy met her gaze and glanced backwards.

Inyssa turned her head, completely oblivious. "Huh? Is there someone behind us?"

Barry couldn't help but sigh.

"Oh for Pete's sake!" He turned around quickly and took a Pokeball out of his belt. "You were supposed to be subtle about it! Come on Niss, you're usually smarter than that."

Before she could reply the boy threw his Pokeball into the air, towards a nearby hallway at their left. From its light appeared a tall, oval figure with two long arms and a small yellow beak. The Prinplup materialized and immediately looked through the passage, where Inyssa's eyes couldn't reach.

"We know you're there!" Barry yelled, attempting to sound intimidating. "Show yourself now before my Pokemon drags you out!"

Inyssa was completely lost, eyes wide open staring between her friend and the apparently empty hallway. But her confusion was cleared when she felt steps coming from the other side, approaching them. Her stomach turned when someone walked out, both hands behind her head. The girl's pink hair was covering part of her face, and she was wearing the same shirt Inyssa saw her in a couple days ago.

"It's you!" Inyssa pointed at her, eyes wide open, until she realized how inane a statement that was. "What are you doing here?"

"You didn't notice her following us?" Barry asked. "I've been trying to warn you since we left the Pokemon Center."

"By doing what, poking me in the back?" She protested, shaking her nose dismissively at him. "Besides, you have much better hearing than I do."

"That was morse code! You're telling me you don't know morse code?"

"D... do you?"

"Yeah, my mom taught me when I was little," he explained as if it were the most normal thing in the world. "I thought everyone knew it!"

"Um... excuse me?"

They both turned around towards the strange girl who was now staring at them, her expression a mix of confusion and amusement. Inyssa followed Barry's example and grabbed Enma's Pokeball.

"Why were you following us?"

"Yeah! And you better not try anything funny," Barry warned her, shaking his finger at her. "We're not on the mood for any surprises, right Pedri?"

The penguin Pokemon put one of his sharp fins close to the woman's face, eyes focused entirely on her.

"Whoa whoa, calm down!" She was completely still, a drop of sweat running down her face. "I don't wanna start anything, I swear! I just wanna to talk to you."

"Then why didn't you talk to us when we were in the Pokemon Center?" Inyssa asked, pointing Enma's Pokeball at her face.

She gulped and took a step back, "I... didn't want anyone to see me. I'm keeping a low profile for now."

"That doesn't really makes us trust you more you know," Barry said. "You could've come up with something better."

"I... I'm telling the truth. I just wanna talk to you... um..." She bit her lips, looking contemplative.

"Inyssa," she clarified. "And fine, suppose we don't see you as a creep, which we do, what do you want to talk to us about?"

The strange girl lowered her hands as slowly as possible while she tried to think of what to say. Her cheeks were flushed and her lips pale.

"Nice to meet you; I'm Metchi." She waved with one hand. "And... I wanted to ask you about what happened in the Windworks, if it's not a bother."

Barry narrowed her eyes and looked at Inyssa, waiting for her response.

"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you but it is a bother," she replied bitterly. "Go ask the police if you want a story, I'm not in the mood to entertain anyone."

And with that she put Enma's Pokeball back in her belt and turned around.

"No, wait, wait!" Metchi tried to walk forward but suddenly remembered the knife sharp fin pointed right at her. "Please... I can't go to the police, I can't talk to anyone else about this. I just wanna ask you a couple questions, I swear."

"Why do you need to know that so much?" Barry asked, incredulous. "Are you a paparazzi or something?"

"What? No..." she raised her eyebrows at him, only now realizing that she was talking with kids much younger than her. "I can't tell you why but I promise it's important."

"Listen, you can't just follow us around and expect us to tell you things after that," said Inyssa with an irritated tone. "Why should we trust you? For all we know you could be one of those Galactic idiots."

Metchi's eyebrows formed a line over the bridge of her nose. Her expression changed to one of anger so fast Inyssa felt compelled to take a step back.

"I'm not one of them!" She yelled, ears turning red. Pedri was about to put his fin even closer to her face when she spoke again. "L...look, if you tell me I can give you some useful information. You're trainers right? And you wanna challenge the Gym leaders?"

Barry and Inyssa exchanged a careful look.

"Yeah, so?" the boy asked. "Do you know where to find rare Pokemon?"

"Even better." For the first time Metchi formed a small, nervous smile. "You guys are stranded here until the bridge in Route 206 is fixed, right? Well, I know another way straight to Eterna City."

They glanced at each other, lips pursed. After a moment of consideration Inyssa replied.

"We're listening."

Metchi nodded. "Do you know where Eterna Forest is? You have to go through Route 205 to reach it; once you're there you'll have to walk all the way through until you find a big, fancy mansion." She started explaining, clearly having trouble remembering the path. "It's abandoned, but in one of the back rooms there's a secret passage that leads to a hidden grotto in the forest, and if you follow the path you'll appear east of Eterna City."

Inyssa raised her Pokétch and started fiddling with it, opening the map and carefully looking through it. Just like Metchi had described, there appeared to be a big, abandoned building in the skims of Eterna Forest.

"Wow, it's actually there," Barry said, pleasantly surprised. "How do you know about that? Is it haunted?"

"It was my hideout and that's how I got to Eterna City before... I had to come here," she admitted, her lips forming a sad smile. "And uh... I don't think it's haunted, as far as I know anyway."

Inyssa clicked her tongue, eyeing up the strange woman, trying to determine if she was to be trusted. On one hand she did seem to be trying to appear as unintimidating as possible, but that might be a trap to lead them somewhere, the middle of a dark forest to be more specific. But then again, if she was saying the truth she pretty much had no chance; she had to get to Eterna City as soon as possible.

"Fine, I believe you," she said, even before she made her mind about the subject. "What do you want to know?"

Metchi smiled so wide Inyssa almost started laughing, though she managed to contain herself. She lead both of them to a nearby hallway and asked for the story where no one else could hear them. Inyssa thought that reliving what happened again would've been even more painful, but as words started flowing she noticed the pain in her chest was duller than before, and she didn't knof if it was relieving or disheartening. It took her almost five minutes to summarize it, and when she finally finished the story she could feel her eyes getting watery again, which Metchi mercifully ignored.

"I can't believe they let Mars lead a mission like that," Metchi whispered to herself. "Out of the four commanders you could've encountered... I'm sorry kid, but you had **** luck that day."

"Yeah, you can say that again." Inyssa crossed her arms and sighed.

"How do you know those guys anyway?" Barry asked.

"Sorry, but I can't say anything about that." She put both hands in the air as a sign of apology. "Trust me, if I start running my mouth it'll be dangerous for all of us."

Inyssa grabbed her by the arm just before she turned around to leave, "Well, since you insist on being a mysterious jerk, do you mind if I ask you another couple questions?"

Metchi smiled nervously. "I have a feeling I'm gonna regret this. But yeah sure, shoot."

"Were you the one who blew up the bridge in Route 206?"

The question caught her by surprise. Metchi opened her mouth to respond, but she couldn't find the right words. She looked away from Inyssa, and finally after a few seconds she answered.

"So you were the brats on that Salamance." She laughed weakly. "Well, no, that wasn't me, though I was around when it happened."

Inyssa could feel that there was more to the story, but she decided not to press her luck; something told her the girl was telling the truth, if only partially.

"Sounds like it was quite the adventure," she commented, thinking about what to say next. "And my other question is... who were you talking to when I found you a couple days ago?"

Metchi froze, and Inyssa could see that she caught her by surprise even more than with her previous question. The girl looked down and her breathing became more heavy as her thoughts raced. Whatever the truth was, it seemed to be something that she really didn't want anyone to know. Even more incentive to find out about it, Inyssa thought.

"That was... ****, I can't make anything up." She bit her finger. "Look just... I was talking to an... associate." She pronounced the last word slowly. "I can't say anything else, sorry."

Inyssa sighed, somewhat disappointed. The exchange of information hadn't been as fruitful as she had expected.

"I have to go now," Metchi said after a few seconds. "I don't wanna say more than I should, and I shouldn't stay in the same place for so long anyway. Now that you told me all that..." She gave Inyssa a small bump on the arm. "I can actually plan a course of action. Thank you."

And with that she took a Pokeball from her rugged belt, which appeared to be the only one she had. She opened it with ease and from the emanated light emerged a robust, brown Pokemon with an extremely long neck and four green wings growing from his back in an X shape. The Tropius landed on the floor and immediately let out a deep yawn, lazily studying the two unknown trainers next to her.

"Whoa, what the heck is that!?" Barry yelled in excitement at the sight of the strange Pokemon. "She's super cool!"

"Oh, you mean this gal?" Metchi approached her Pokemon and gave her a pat on the neck. "Her name's Lyserg. She's lazier than a Slaking, but she's useful to get around."

Inyssa couldn't help but appreciate the beautiful Pokemon, which had clearly been taken care of with expertise, at least much more than she thought possible with someone like Metchi. The brown of her body was vibrant and her wings were long and robust.

"It has bananas on her neck!" Barry stated the obvious. "Can you eat them?"

"I'm... not sure actually." Metchi looked at her Pokemon contemplatively. "They usually fall off every other week, but I've never tried eating one since it seemed... weird. But I can save you one for next time, if you want." She gave Barry a warm smile.

"That would be amazing."

Metchi gave him a pat on the shoulder and approached her Pokemon, jumping on her back with no much difficulty and putting her arms around her neck. The Tropius began flapping her wings, and a powerful winds soon filled the street.

"Wait!" Luckily Metchi heard her and looked down at the young trainer. "Hey... I have another question."

"Another one?" Metchi asked, raising an eyebrow. "Fine, sure. Try not to make it anything personal this time."

Inyssa held her question for a few seconds, wondering herself it she should ask it. Barry was looking at her expectantly, and she felt like it wasn't the right time to be thinking about that. And yet...

"By any chance do you know someone called... Shadi?" She spoke slowly, almost in whispers as she avoided Barry's eyes. "Shadi Dawn. Sort of looked like me, a bit taller, longer hair and angular face..."

Heat rose to her face as she waited for an answer. She could feel Barry's eyes staring at the back of her head, but she didn't care. Even if the possibility was almost nonexistent...

"I'm sorry," Metchi replied. "I don't think I know anyone like that."

Inyssa's shoulders dropped. "That's... okay. Have a nice travel."

"Yeah... same to you guys," she nodded, and then looked straight ahead. "I hope we'll meet again. Until then!"

Dust exploded all around them as the Tropius took flight. When it finally cleared Inyssa looked up, only barely able to see the shape of the flying Pokemon as it soared through the sky towards the west, disappearing in the distance.
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Firaga Metagross

Auferstanden Aus Ruinen
Oh nice! These last two chapters were definitely an improvement over chap 9.

You've really raised the stakes both of the chapters were really gripping in their own ways.

Really enjoyed the battle with Mars. She comes off as sufficiently threatening while retaining a certain, I dunno, playfulness, levity, which makes her seem much more powerful. The trick with the Ditto was a cool idea that definitely could be used in other ways in the future.

Having Inyssa run in headfirst by herself, only to face the consequences of those actions was a solid idea that worked well. These two chapters as a whole did a great job of pushing her into the dirt face first. The first chapters showed her at her peaks and now she's being shown at her valleys so it's a good shift that demonstrates your understanding of her character.

The scene with Barry at the beginning of chapter 11 in particular was probably my favorite of the two chapters because of the previously stated reason but also because I like seeing Inyssa & Barry's serious time conversations. They really seem like close friends in this interaction and I like the characterization Barry gets from it too.

"Eh, it'll do I guess." Inyssa shrugged, perhaps too strongly. "Could be better. If it were me I'd want a whole party around my funeral; some marble statues of me, maybe a couple flying jets doing pirouettes around my grave... you know, go out with some style."

Laughter sprouted from her, wild and sharp and just a little bit unhinged. The nurse shifted her gaze from her to the boy, unsure if that was a joke or not. It didn't last long however, and soon she felt her smile drop dead as the silence grew around her once more.

I think this scene really shows Inyssa's use of emotional distance really well. She's really open to Barry, but her public face shows comical distancing which I think suits her well.

I'm glad the rest of the chapter was mostly their hanging out and having more light-hearted plot/character stuff. It's cool to see them finally meet up with our mystery character, although we didn't really learn too much. Kinda wish the chapter didn't end after their conversation though. IMO it felt like the chapter just kinda stopped there. I don't know if you're going to leave them going to the game corner for the next chapter or not, but I think the chapter needs some sort of arc.

Anyway, good to see you back in full form. Eagerly awaiting your next one.


Gone. Not coming back.
Things are really starting to get interesting now, aren't they? The two plot threads are beginning to twine with one another (I was wondering if maybe the mysterious woman was Shadi, but based on the last couple of chapters I guess she's probably not), and I can really feel the stakes getting higher and the pressure mounting on your characters. I like the opening quite a lot, with that long stretch of narration in Inyssa's head in which she thinks herself into a certain point of view – and then literally the moment anyone opens their mouth the whole self-recriminatory fantasy falls apart. That's quite effective.

I also really like that we're seeing more than surface conversations between Barry and Inyssa. I think it's been quite easy to dismiss Barry up till this point, but that's only because we see more of Inyssa's interior life than we do of his; now that he's actually having to talk seriously about serious things, he feels a lot more well-rounded as a character. There's a strong sense of history between him and Inyssa that wasn't nearly as apparent in earlier chapters, where I kinda got the idea that they were friends because they have superficially similar temperaments and live nearby. Now I can kind of see where the connection is, and why it's lasted.

I do feel like the authorities' response to the events at the Windworks feels a bit bare-bones, though. There's an actual investigation into the Galactic stuff, which is good, but I guess I'd sort of imagined that in a world built on human/pokémon relations, there might be some kind of official response to Bertha's death beyond the very low-level thing where the Pokémon Centre nurse tries to reassure Inyssa. Like, Bertha was killed by Mars in what was absolutely not a standard sporting battle – that feels like it would be a crime in the pokémon world, even this darker version. I think some kind of reference to that being a thing that the cops were interested in would help to solidify my sense of this being a real world with systems and stuff where actions cause some sort of response.

As per usual, I've got a list of typos and things that I noted down as I read through:

a cup of hot chocolate on one hand

You hold things in your hand, rather than on. English and its million different prepositions, huh.

eyebrows perching up

I think that might be a typo for 'perking'.

a tall, finely dressed man

There isn't really a clear reason why, but English speakers tend to say well-dressed rather than finely-dressed, possibly because of the way finely connotes something honed or ground to a fine degree. Not really a mistake, it would just read more naturally to use well here.

second floor

Okay, this one isn't a mistake either, but I'm curious: do you count floors starting from the ground floor, then the first, then the second, etc. (as in the UK), or from the first, then the second, etc. (as in the US)? I ask because if the former, Inyssa's plan is way more dangerous than if the latter – although I think she'd probably be foolhardy enough to try it either way! :p

“You okay?” She asked

“Yeah, my mom taught me when I was little.” He explained

Here are a couple of instances where you've improperly capitalised a dialogue attribution again – this crops up a few times. In that second example, the full stop should also be a comma.

She gulped and took a step back, “I… didn't want anyone to see me.

That should be a full stop after 'back', not a comma.

It was my hideout; and that's how I got to Eterna

That semicolon should be a comma.

She lead both of them to a nearby hallway

That should be 'led' rather than 'lead'.

as words started flowing she noticed the pain in her chest more dull than before, which she couldn't decide if it was relieving or disheartening

Two things here. One, there's a 'was' or something missing between 'chest' and 'more'; two, the second part of this sentence isn't quite grammatical. You've got two sentences here, the one ending 'she noticed the pain in her chest was more dull than before', and a second one that goes 'she couldn't decide if it was relieving or disheartening'. There are a number of ways to join these sentences together – with an 'and', or maybe a semicolon – but you can't join them with 'which' the way you have here, because 'which' can only introduce a dependent clause, as opposed to a full sentence in its own right. I think that's what it's called, anyway. @_@ Not sure how helpful an explanation that is, but it's the best I've got, I'm afraid.

She took a Pokeball out her rugged belt

I think you'd take objects from your belt – you can take things out of your belt if they're stuck through it, like a stick or a knife or something, but otherwise I think you'd be taking things off it that were clipped to it (like a ball), and for that you'd use from.

“It has bananas on her neck!”

Barry starts this sentence calling Lyserg 'it' and ends it calling her 'she'; that should be consistent.

Anyway! This story is really starting to get interesting now, isn't it! Definitely looking forward to the next chapter.
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Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Hi there! I've seen you posting around the forum quite a bit recently so I figured I might as well check out your work as some point or another. :)

I've only read the first chapter so far, but you've already caught my attention. That opening scene made a hell of an impression. I especially like how the opening line initially seems like a Vague Dramatic Opening Line, until a couple paragraphs down when you realize "oh.... oh no.... no, it's literal. oh crap." Of course my mind is immediately wondering if this scene takes place prior to the following scenes with the protagonists, or if it's something that will happen later. Is it the protagonist herself, or more likely, someone else we'll meet later. Not to mention the fact that the Galactic grunt tried to say something about Azelf... is that the voice in her head? You've set up a ton of mysteries in such a short amount of time, which is quite the efficient use of space!

As for the rest of the chapter proper, with our protagonists. You've got a fun introduction for both of them, and I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy reading their interactions. Also it's been ages since I've read any Sinnoh fic! I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes, so you should be seeing more of me before too long. ;3



Journey Enthusiast
To Firaga: Ahh thank you!!! I'm really happy you enjoyed these two chapters, they kinda form a two-parter even if they're separated. Also yeah, when I wrote this I still hadn't gotten the hang of how to end chapters so the end of 11 is kinda weird. Still, thank you for commenting!!

To Cutlerine: You are a god-send, your grammar fixes help me out so much and I don't know how to thank you. As for the chapter, that thing you mentioned where Niss kinda corners herself in her own mind and then Barry immediately breaks through... that's kind of the whole reason I love their relationship, and I'm glad you caught that. Their friendship is one of the most important parts of this fic.
As for the authorities' response, you are right in that I should probably add a couple more lines to the chapter elaborating on it. In any case, we'll see more of said authorities soon. Oh and about the floor thing, I count the second floor as the one above the ground floor, because that's how we do it here :p
Again thank you so much!!

To ChibiPika: I'm so glad you started reading!!! And that you enjoy Niss and Barry; I love them and I want other people to love them too. I hope you can continue to like them as you read forward.

Alright, now to the next chapter. Sorry it took me so long to get it out:


Chapter 12: House of Ashes.

Contrary to what Inyssa expected, finding the forest turned out to be quite easy. Getting through it, however, looked like it was going to be a challenge.

Her and Barry's shoulders were practically glued together as they walked, eyes peeled for any enemies that might jump out from the shadows. In front of them Enma walked proudly, hands balled into fists, while Pedri stood behind them carefully watching their backs as they advanced through the thick flora. Above them two other Pokemon cast shadows on the poorly illuminated ground; both Steven and Paulette had been released to keep an eye on their surroundings.

"Maybe we should've taken another path," Barry said through ragged breath. "This place is insane, how many Pokemon was that?"

Inyssa felt the need to scold him, though she couldn't deny that they were in rough shape. As soon as they set foot in the forest the rate of aggressive Pokemon increased tenfold. Before they knew it they were fighting an all out battle from every front as a bunch of Gastly, Misdrevous, Dustox and Beautifly appeared from behind the shadows of the trees around them. The thickness of the oaks surrounding their path did a good job of blocking the sunlight and making the Pokemon of the forest harder to see.

"There is no other path," she said. "Besides, this will be good experience for our Pokemon. Sure, it's been more... intense than we planned, but we can manage." She looked at her starter, whose flame was still burning brightly. "We'll get through it, no problem."

"Yeah, but I don't even know where we are. It's all darn green and black as far as I can see!" Unconsciously, he grabbed Inyssa's hand. "What if we're lost?"

She raised her wrist to his face, showing him the Pokétch. "Dude... there's a GPS on this thing. We're not lost, in fact we're almost the..."

A shadow jumped from the trees above and raced towards Inyssa, only the shimmer of white fangs visible. She barely had time to blink before the Pokemon was on top of her, the only reaction she could muster being a quick gasp. In a second she felt her body violently pushed to the side as Pedri intercepted the attack for her, his tough skin proving almost impervious to the Gastly's bite. The penguin Pokemon shot the ghost a furious glare as he sent him upwards with a swing. Moments after Inyssa saw Enma's ember flying through the air as it scorched his enemy, forcing it to retreat. The fire Pokemon let out a short, mocking laugh as he turned around with hands behind his head, clearly satisfied.

Inyssa placed a hand against the ground and forced herself up, heart pounding in her chest.

"See? That's what I'm talking about!" Barry hurried over to her. "I don't get it, they're not attacking our Pokemon, they're attacking us!"

"I don't get it either." She cleaned the dust off her coat and straightened her hat. "But it doesn't matter, we're here already."

From between two fat, old oaks they saw what appeared to be a dusty and worn cement path which led to a gratuitously enormous house. The forest had taken hold of the place, and what in other times might have been a beautiful chateau was now covered in green and brown as roots overrun everything. All the front windows were broken, pieces of glass adorning the floor around the main entrance, and from their angle they could see that parts of the roof had collapsed, giving the impression that whatever happened to the place hadn't been just due to nature.

"This is where Metchi said she lived?" Barry asked, incredulous. "Looks like it's gonna fall on itself any second now."

She felt the eyes on her disappearing one by one as they approached the entrance; she wasn't sure if it was her imagination, but it was a relief either way. They finally reached the door, and both of them simply stood there, staring at it. It was twice as tall as them and made of some kind of dark wood which somehow hadn't rotten compared to the rest of it. Inyssa slowly raised one arm to the doorknob, but she stopped before grabbing it, her hand shaking for some reason. She felt a knot on her throat, and when she turned to look at Barry she found him pale.

"Yeah I'm not feeling it," he confessed. "Let's turn around Niss, this is a bad idea."

"What's gotten into you? You're usually braver than this," she chastised him, an eyebrow raised. "There's nothing bad h..." She wanted to finish the sentence but something told her she shouldn't. "Well, if there is something here we'll take care of it."

"...Fine." He swallowed, and with a movement of his hand he returned both Petri and Paulette to their Pokeballs. "But just for the record, bravery is not the same thing as stupidity."

"Now that's something I didn't expect to hear from you." She smiled lightly as she also returned both her Pokemon. "Not the same thing? I don't believe that for a second."

And with that she grabbed the doorknob with fierce determination and opened the doors, plunging into the darkness of the abandoned Chateau.

The smell hit her like a punch to the nose. An almost metallic, noxious stench that made her eyes water just from contact with it. Inyssa looked down and noticed the wooden floor giving in beneath her feet, revealing the moldy cement under it; but it wasn't just rotten wood, there was something else, something much more potent. She couldn't quite make it out but it smelled like something... electric, like burnt cables.

"Motherf... what is this?" She put both hands against her nose, squinting due to the smell. "My nose feels like it's burning!"

Barry raised an eyebrow. "It's not that bad. Kinda smells like grandma's house."

"Remind me never to go to your grandma's," she whispered as she raised her scarf to her nose. "Let's go, the hidden exit should be in one of the rooms in the back."

The room laid in front of them was quite impressive, or it would have been if the place weren't so run down. From the doormat at their feet began a thick, expensive looking purple carpet that extended to the other side of the room, where a tall, broken door opened to another room covered in darkness. At both sides of such door were two robust mahogany staircases, their steps luckily made out of marble instead of the broken wood that was crumbling beneath their feet. Many of the rails had fallen off and were now adorning the floor like teeth fallen out of the mouth that was the upper floor. They could barely see another broken door up there.

With caution they proceeded forward, dust dancing around their feet as their steps unearthed the true floor under the decaying, rotten wood. Inyssa had a steady hand on her belt, gaze darting all around as if trying to uncover something hidden; but everything was still and dead, almost unnaturally so. She closed her hands perhaps too strongly, and her breathing became a bit more shallow, though she didn't notice it herself.

She was still entranced by that smell, the absolute breadth of it, how it pulled her mind every direction but forward, the way its strength took her out of her thoughts. She felt that burnt stench sensation inside her, like she was breathing cold fire. But where was it coming from? Unlike the rot and blight that plagued the wooden floor it felt like it was in the air itself, inside and all around her, impossible to escape. It clung to her body like cold, like a long, silent autumn night. Nothing but death and stillness and extinguished fires devouring the air...

Her walking suddenly came to a halt when she felt Barry's fingers close around her arm, the sudden jerking taking her out of those thoughts. Mind hazy, she blinked a couple times and looked in front of her, noticing that they were already at the door at the other side of the room. How long had she been walking? That door couldn't have been more than a few feet away, but somehow it felt like an eternity. When she gave Barry a side glance she could see a worried expression pasted on his face.

"You almost walked into the wall." He smiled, though his eyes did not reflect that. "And you're kinda pale. What's wrong?"

She swallowed, her lower lip trembling. What had happened? It felt like a momentary time lapse.

"Nothing. I don't know." She put a hand against her face and sighed deeply. "The smell is messing with my head."

"It's really not that bad," he said, sniffing around. "Are you sure you're okay? We can go back."

"No, I'm fine." She stood up straight and raised her chin. "We're here already, let's just find the hidden exit."

Without waiting for his response she set foot inside the room, pushing away a half broken door, which collapsed the second she put her hand on it. The wood fell to the floor, breaking into a hundred pieces, and the rusty copper hinges dissolved into thick dust. She did her best to ignore it and walked forward, the gloomy entrance opening to an enormous room, easily twice the size of the previous one. In front of her she could see a long, once majestic mahogany table sitting in the middle of the room. Roots grew up from the ground under it, circling the feet of it and making it look like they were trying to drag it underground. A wide ray of sunlight came from a hole in the roof, illuminating the center and giving it the look of an antique, ominous painting.

She approached the table with cautious curiosity and studied it from up close, strangely fixated by it. All the plates and cutlery were still where they belonged, twisted into rusty pieces of metal and moldy ceramic. But just where the main dish was supposed to be there was now an empty spot, marked by all the dust around it; someone must have taken part of it recently. Something inside her sparked, and for a moment she felt furious that someone would disturb such a beautiful table; but the moment passed and she was left confused. What was she thinking about? It was just a table, who the hell cared? She shook her head lightly and took her eyes away from it.

There appeared to be another, smaller room at her right, possibly leading to some kind of kitchen. In front of her the walls were adorned with paintings of varying sizes, all of which were too affected by time to make anything of them. Somehow the windows of the room had survived, though they were so foggy and dirty that not even a speck of light could come through.

"I don't think this is the place." She sighed. "We'll have to explore the upper floors, let's just hope it doesn't collapse on..."

She turned around to face Barry, the haze of the previous room already clearing from her head, when her heart jumped. Her friend wasn't there.

She felt the air in her lungs escaping her, and for a second she thought she would suffocate. But she took another breath and looked around, trying to find any trace of Barry, to no avail. Her body jumped like it was woken up by a jolt of electricty, and she ran towards the exit of the room, her heart pounding in her chest. But just when she was about to get out she clashed against something hard and cold. She slowly opened her eyes and she could almost swear she felt her veins turn to ice.

The exit wasn't there anymore. Where before stood a broken door now was a black, colorless wall, its darkness as thick as the silence surrounding her. Unwillingly she extended a hand to it and touched it, and the cold that she felt was almost painful. Breathing heavily she took a step backward, her entire body trembling. She reached for her belt, like she had done in the past when faced with something dangerous, and she almost had a heart attack when she didn't feel anything there. Her Pokeballs had disappeared.

"Wha... huh?" Her mind felt heavy and foggy. "What the... where are they!?"

She walked backwards into the table, almost toppling it over and sending a couple of plates flying into the ground, the smashing sound bringing her back to reality. Desperate, she looked toward where the windows used to be, but similarly to the door now all the other walls of the room were black slates. Her hands grabbed the edges of the table with enough force to almost break it, and she felt a cold sweat cling to her body.

She closed her eyes for a few seconds, taking quick erratic breaths, but when she opened them the sight didn't change a bit, in fact... were the walls getting closer? The thought made her skin crawl and forced her body to move, running to one of the walls and slamming her body against it.

"Barry!" Her scream was guttural, coming from the deepest part of her. "Barry! Can you hear me!? Hey!"

She kept screaming but for some reason it felt like she wasn't. She couldn't feel the air vibrating around her, almost like the silence was swallowing her words the moment they came out of her mouth. It was closing around her, turning her body colder and invading her mind and eyes, darkness consuming everything in its path. Her body curled and she began to feel dizzy from her ragged breathing. This had to be a dream, she thought. This couldn't be happening, it made absolutely no sense. The smell, the darkness, the cold, it was all too surreal, almost like...

Her eyes shot wide open, and for a second she stopped shaking. Almost like something was messing with her head. Suddenly she remembered the forest, how all those Pokemon had been attacking them ever since they set foot in the place. The way they were fighting felt almost... defensive, like they were trying to guard something, to keep them away from someplace. Perhaps they knew about the Chateau and wanted to protect them from what was inside it.

She had a hunch. With one hand she looked inside her bag, quickly rummaging through all of her stuff in search of a specific item. Finally her fingers touched something cold and metallic, and she smiled for the first time since entering that place. She grabbed it and raised it over her head, the small iron lighter almost shining in the surrounding darkness.

"Whoever is doing this, listen to me!" She yelled, and this time her voice penetrated through the dark. "I'm not afraid of you! I'll burn this whole place down if you don't let us go! I'm not joking around!"

She flipped the lighter open with one hand, releasing a flame which cut through the void around her like a knife through butter. She stood still, the fire on her hand keeping away the cold and reinvigorating her somewhat. She was hoping that whatever was causing this would take the bait and release them from fear of letting the house be burned down.

She waited for several seconds, each one feeling like an eternity as the shadows grew around her. She knew her father's lighter wouldn't last forever, and once the flame ran out she had a feeling she wouldn't like what would happen next. Her arm was getting asleep just holding it over her head. She looked around desperately, and for a second she thought that her plan wouldn't work, and she would just collapse into the cold around her.

She closed her eyes as the flame died, and waited for it.

For the first time in his life, running face-first into a wall hadn't been Barry's fault. The boy saw his friend walk into the dark room with utmost confidence, and he would've followed after her if a noise behind him hadn't distract him. He was about to lay a foot inside when he felt the air vibrating behind him, and a strange gust of wind hit him on the back of the head. He turned around, annoyed, but didn't find anything outside the ordinary. The place looked just as wrecked, and the smell of dust still filled the air. He shrugged, instantly losing interest, and went towards the door once more. Except this time he ran directly into cold stone with his face.

He recoiled, grunting in pain. The door leading to the kitchen had been replaced by a black, cold wall.

"...Huh? Where's the door?"

He searched all around but there was no entrance to where Niss had gone; the path had been completely cut off. Barry's feet started moving in place, and he heard wind inside his head.

"I knew it, this place is haunted!" he screamed with a mix of pride and horror. "Wait, shoot! Niss is still there! Hey Niss! Niss are you okay!?"

He drove his body against the wall with all his strength, but all he managed to do was hurt his shoulder. He kept kicking and pushing the wall for almost a minute, desperately trying to get a response from Niss, but no sound came from the other side. He backed up, sweat running down his face and his heart beating fast.

"This isn't funny..." he whispered to himself. "What do I do? Should I use my Pokemon? But then the whole place is gonna collapse! But I have to find Niss! But also I have to..."

His ramblings were interrupted by something above him. A speck of light appeared for a moment on the upper floor, close to the staircase, which made the boy look in that direction. It disappeared as soon as he raised his head, but that only gave him another idea.

"That's it! I can go up there and then break the floor to go to that room!" He proudly announced to no one. "That won't make the place come down on us... probably."

Without even considering another possibility he ran towards the staircase, wind on his feet. He started going up the marble steps, although he almost fell when part of the sidewalk collapsed when he tried to grab it.

"Right... everything's gone to crap here," he told himself, voice barely a whisper. "Let's try not to die while we do this."

Only slightly more carefully he walked up the steps until he found himself in the second floor, the visible part almost empty except for another big entrance identical to the one below. He kicked the wooden door without much difficulty and went in, appearing in a narrow hallway that opened up to another wide room with several doors on the other extreme of it. He considered his options for about half a second, and then immediately ran towards the closer one and attempted to kick it open.

"Listen up I have a belt full of Pokeballs and a missing friend and I'm not afraid to... ah, frick!" Contrary to what he expected, the door held strong and didn't collapse from the kick. The wood was darker and sturdier than the other ones, and it had metal reinforcements. "Agh... never mind."

He simply tried to open it, and to his surprise it worked. He swallowed, grateful that his friend wasn't there to see him humiliated. With a push from his shoulder he managed to open it fully, and with grit determination he walked in, ready for a fight.

But he stopped on his tracks the moment he saw what was inside. The door opened to a small bedroom, its walls almost entirely covered in moss. The only things inside were a worn out, half broken bed and a small desk at its side. On top of it there was a mirror as big as a child.

But there was also a person there. Sitting on a wooden chair in front of the desk was what appeared to be a small kid, long brown hair running down her back. She wore a blue, flower-patterned dress which seemed to be shifting with the nonexistent wind. He looked up, trying to make up her appearance but just where her face should've been reflected, the mirror was severely cracked. He stood on the edge of the room, unsure of what to do, until he heard her speak.

"Big sis, is that you?" The kid talked with a high pitched, emotionless voice. "No... you're not her. Who are you?"

The voice hit him like a powerful wind, making him take a step back. All of his senses were warning him, telling him to close the door and run away, but he couldn't. He had to find a way to get into the room Niss had disappeared in.

"I'm... Barry. I don't know who your big sister is." He talked slowly for once, carefully chosing his words. "I'm looking for my friend, Niss. Do you know where she is?"

The kid raised a hand and started fixing her hair with a brush, as if it were a daily occurrence. Barry felt a knot on his throat when he noticed her hands were as pale as paper, with a sickly blue hue all around them.

"She's not like you or Big Sis," the kid said, matter of factly. "She doesn't have one of them with her. The blue-eyed one will get her, and then she'll be lost."

He grabbed one of his Pokeballs from his belt and pointed it at the child. "Okay, stop talking in riddles. I don't know who big sister is, but if Niss is in trouble then you have to tell me how I can find her!"

"You do know her, dummy." For the first time he could feel a speck of emotion in her voice. "Only two people ever found this place, and you know both of them."

Barry took a step back, brow furrowing in confusion. He remembered the whole reason they were there, he remembered the girl with the pink hair and the Tropius, and the way her warm smile had convinced them to come to the abandoned chateau.

"Son of a..." he whispered. "She sent us here! She told us this place was safe!"

"It is safe," the girl said. "For you, and her, and for Big Sister. But not for your friend." She was quiet for a couple seconds, and just when Barry was about to yell something she spoke again. "If you're friends with Big Sister then I'll help you."

"Awesome! How about you help me right now?" He asked, voice full of impatience. "I'm kind of in a rush here."

"Then come forward."

He did as he was told and walked towards the center of the room, the atmosphere around him growing heavier with each step. Once he was behind her the kid raised one of her pale, corpse-like arms and he saw something resting on her palm. A dark, uniform rectangle stone which was about the size of his hand. He grabbed it quickly, feeling a deathly cold when his fingers brushed against hers. The stone felt heavier than it looked, and even in the darkness of the room he could almost make out some kind of inscription on it.

"Take that Specter Plate and keep it safe." Her voice was breaking up, literally, as if she were about to disappear. "Find your friend and get out fast, I won't be able to keep the house up for much longer."

"Wh..." he was about to ask something, but he suddenly felt the floor shake beneath his feet.

"And don't look down."

The ground split open and Barry fell to the room below, his last sight before that being of the kid's body dissolving into smoke.

It was a good thing the table was there, Inyssa thought, otherwise Barry might have broken his spine. He dropped from the ceiling like a cannon ball, and a rather loud one at that. A cloud of dust was raised from the spot he fell into, shards of ceramic and pieces of wood around him.


Her voice came out almost like a sob. Without wasting a second she saved her father's lighter in her pocket and ran toward him, desperation clear in her voice. She knelt in front of him, placing a hand behind his back as she helped him to his feet

"Ugh..." He grunted. "I think I died."

"Oh no the **** you didn't." She chastised him, unable to contain her smile. "You're not gonna leave me alone here, you jerk."

Slowly she helped him to his feet, his clothes covered in dirt and his body shaking from the impact. She could see he had something in his left hand, but she couldn't quite make out what it was. The boy's eyes lacked his usual shine, and Inyssa feared that he had seen something bad while they were separated.

"There's something here, messing with us." She warned him. "I think it's a Pokemon. It hid all the windows and I can't find my Pokeballs."

Barry froze at her comment, slowly turning his head to look at everything around the room, though Inyssa could still only see nothing but shadows.

"Niss, the windows are right there." He pointed at his left. She had no idea in relation to what, she had forgotten where anything was. "And the door is open now. Are you okay?"

"What? You don't see it?" Her voice became higher pitched, and she felt her lips tremble. "Then it must be messing with my head. If you can see the exit then let's get out of here!"

She grabbed Barry's hand without waiting for a response, and the moment their fingers touched the entire place shook. Inyssa felt a slight dizziness as the room they were in changed to its previous iteration. In the blink of an eye all the shadows and black walls disappeared, and she could see clearly the exit and the windows at the other side of the room. She froze for a second, and then the pain came. It jerked her entire body like a bolt of lightning and she was forced to let go of her friend's hand. Before she knew it the shadows came back once more, swallowing everything around them and filling the air with that noxious stench.

"Niss!" Barry rushed to her side, wanting to grab her for support but too scared that he would hurt her. "What's wrong!?"

The girl stopped for a second as her sight became more and more cloudy.

"I think I have an idea," she whispered, breathing heavily. "Barry, grab my hand and don't let go, even if it hurts me."

"Wh... what are you talking about?" Barry's eyes were open wide and his voice was shaking.

She looked him in the eyes, and for a second she tought she saw a golden, familiar light on them. "Just... trust me!"

He did as he was told, and once again the moment his hand touched hers the pain came back, stronger than ever. She forced herself to bear it, and witnessed as the room changed back and forth between its normal and corrupted form, until the first one became clearer and clearer and the fog in her eyes began to dissipate. She wasn't sure if it was just a hallucination, but she noticed a dark, reddish cloud of smoke coming out of her body and rising towards the ceiling.

"Whoa what the heck is that!?" Barry's scream pierced her ears, taking her out of that haze.

When he finally let go of her hand she was relieved to see that the room remained in its natural state. She put a hand on her belt, and almost let out a sob of joy when she touched the cold metal of her Pokeballs.

Right above them a Pokemon materialized from nothingness, dust and air turning into a red, jolting ball of smoke. For a second she thought it might have been a Gastly, but that wasn't it. The color was wrong and the form wasn't exactly round, since he had two energy spikes coming from above and below his body. The unknown ghost Pokemon opened his blue eyes and Inyssa could smell the electricity in the air.

"That's the thing that's been causing all this." She told Barry weakly, still relying on him for support.

Barry immediately grabbed one of his Pokeballs, ready for battle. "What is it? I've never seen one of these before,"

"Me neither. But it doesn't matter." She did the same, eyebrows perked up. "We'll find out after I capture him. I'm not letting him go after what he did to me."

The air crackled with electricity. The ghost Pokemon vibrated quickly, his eyes darting between the two kids in front of him. Then suddenly something like a voice came out of his mouth, and though she knew it was just the sounds of sparks there seemed to be a sort of rhythm about them, like the Pokemon was trying to communicate using only electricity.

"...nother...ixie...ibling...hought...only one..." She had no idea how she could understand that grating sound, but she interpreted every sound, and from the look on Barry's face he could as well. "...sprit... will pay... protec... her... any cos..."

His body shrouded itself with power, the dark clouds around him transforming into electricity as he prepared an attack. Both Barry and Inyssa threw their Pokeballs at the same time. From hers emerged the familiar form of Enma, who appeared in front of the strange Pokemon with one hand on the floor, ready to fight. At his right another flash of light materialized into an orange, otter-like Pokemon, with what appeared to be yellow floaters around its neck. The Buizel stood still, arms crossed and eyes set on his opponent.

The air around the ghost Pokemon exploded in sparks as a deep, shaky roar came from his mouth. Almost too fast to react, his body let out a wave of electricity which raced towards them.

"Razen, Protect!" Barry reacted, pulling Inyssa and himself behind the Buizel, who put both hands forward and created a green energy shield around them.

The electricity bolts hit Enma directly, not doing nearly enough damage to take him down, and it simply bounced from the barrier that Razen had created. It kept going until it hit the wall behind them, making the ceiling shake violently as debris started falling around them.

"Oh yeah, forgot to mention," Barry whispered, eyes opened wide. "The house might collapse any second now. The ghost girl told me."

"What!?" She turned towards him, mouth agape. "Ghost g... you know what, I don't want to know. Enma, Ember!"

Her starter took a deep breath and spit three torrents of flame in quick succession, all converging at the ghost Pokemon's current location. But he was too quick, and without any trouble managed to slip between them, appearing directly in front of Enma and shocking him once more, this time throwing him to the ground. Furious, he pushed himself up and jumped upwards toward his opponent, eyes glowing red.

"What are you doing?" Inyssa protested. "You can't punch him, you idiot! He's a ghost!"

But Enma simply smiled, and while in mid air he let out a mighty roar as he covered his entire body in a small coat of fire. He assumed a ball position and propelled himself towards the ghost Pokemon, turned into a fierce igneous wheel. Unlike his embers, this attack was too fast for his opponent to avoid, and before he had time to counter attack he was hit with the full force of the impact, dissipating part of his body and sending him flying toward the wall.

"Whoa..." Barry gasped behind her, an incredulous look on his face. "That was really cool."

"I forgot about Flame Wheel," she admitted.

Enma landed on one knee, hand against the ground and a victorious smile on his face. As for the ghost Pokemon, it was clear the attack had done too much damage to him, and now he was struggling to maintain enough energy to keep himself afloat, much less use any attack. Not missing a beat Inyssa looked for one of the Pokeballs that she'd bought on Floaroma. She could hear the sound of the ceiling slowly falling apart, and she knew that they didn't have enough time. But just when she was about to throw it the Pokemon flew upwards, heading toward the ceiling in an attempt to escape.

Barry sent his palm forward. "Not so fast you lightbulb jerk! Razen, Pursuit!"

The Buizel moved like lightning; in an instant he appeared in front of the ghost Pokemon and, with a tail infused with dark energy, hit him square in the face. The clash was enough to render him unconscious, leaving him floating in the middle of the room. Inyssa smiled, and while making a mental note to thank Barry later she threw the Pokeball at the ghost, managing a perfect hit which trapped him inside. The ball fell into the ground with a slight clank, and the light at the center blinked three times before it went silent.

"Booyah!" She pumped her fist upwards, a tired smile on her face. "Take that you short-circuited Gastly piece of ****!"

"Hey Niss, we should probably... WHOA!" Barry put a hand on her shoulder, but a piece of ceiling almost fell on top of his head. "Yeah, that!"

She nodded, and raced towards her new catch, avoiding debris as it fell around her. Once she secured the Pokeball into her belt she turned around towards Enma.

"We'll have to bust through the wall," she told him. "The hidden exit must be at the other side of this room."

"Did you inhale too much dust or something? That'll only make the place fall down even faster!" Barry protested, putting both hands on top of his head.

"We're almost there! Come on, I'm not walking all the way back to Floaroma." She set her eyes on the wall with all the paintings. "Enma, Flame Wheel!"

"I hate following your plans." Barry sighed, turning to his Buizel. "Razen, Aqua Jet!"

Both Pokemon surrounded themselves in their own elements, and with a quick jump they propelled themselves towards the wall. The impact shook the entire Chateau, fire and water exploding into a cloud of steam and dust that covered the room and made it impossible to see anything for a couple seconds. When it finally settled a ray of light entered through the hole made from both attacks, although they could see the walls beginning to crack around it, threatening to bury them alive.

Without a word they both returned their Pokemon to their respective balls and started running towards the exit, holding each other's hand while the house collapsed. Almost blinded, they managed to make it out through the previously made hole just as it broke and came down, sealing the exit. Both kids fell to the ground, legs shaking, and with the strength they had left they looked at the abandoned Chateau as it fell apart into debris and dust, burying everything inside it to oblivion.

They waited until the sounds of the collapse finished, and once the remains of the house were still and dead and clouds of dust surrounded the part of the forest they were in she finally stood up, not without difficulty. Silence surrounded them for almost a minute while they thought what to say, until Inyssa finally broke the ice.

"Remind me to punch Metchi in the face next time we see her." She spoke with difficulty, her throat hurting. "Safe passage my ass."

"Remind me to punch you when my body stops shaking." Barry shook his head. "That was the stupidest plan you could've come up with. And you're supposed to be the smart one."

She gave him a pat on the back and sat next to him, breathing deeply as she tried to recover her energy. She could feel her friend's heartbeat next to her.

"You keep saying that, and I don't think it's true. Besides, we made it through, the hidden path should be around here." She smiled. "And I have a new, weird Pokemon. Everything went as planned."

"And now I know that ghosts exist," Barry whispered, eyes almost closed. "That's gonna help me tonight when I try to sleep."

They both started laughing, their bodies and minds exhausted and their hearts beating fast still. The path to Eterna City now lay ahead of them, and it was sweeter than ever thanks to what they had to go through to get there.

"Well..." Inyssa took a deep breath, and looked at Barry in the eyes, smiling, "you can't tell me I don't take you on cool adventures."
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