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The Child of Thorns - A Platinum story.

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheAlpar, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    This is a fun (maybe not fun for them!) chapter. I enjoyed the temporary shift to the horror genre, as I think that you executed a solid horror chapter. While it felt a little on the short side, the scenes were sufficiently spooky. I'm intrigued as to where the scene with Barry is going to end up, as it seemed like you're building up to something regarding Inyssa's family. The chapter as a whole is a pretty fun diversion that makes us of the Chateau and Rotom.

    The fact that this chapter feels a little like filler is my only real gripe. Having Inyssa capture Rotom is a plot point and not everything needs to be plot railroad, but overall, it feels like this chapter could be taken out of the work and it wouldn't be missing much. Just something to think about.
     
  2. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    Well, this is a fun spooky interlude! I think I had an inkling the Chateau rotom was going to be involved from the fact that, well, there's canonically a rotom here, and when Inyssa started to smell fried electronics that cemented it for me. Rotom is a strange one; its primary type is electric, rather than ghost, so I'm sort of undecided on how I feel about it possessing Inyssa. I guess I wouldn't have said that was a thing it could do, but there's definitely room for various interpretations there, so it's not really an issue.

    I do think it would be a little more effective to not say that Barry falls down on Inyssa at the end of her section of narration; that way, you could end with the line where she closes her eyes and waits for the end and have it be this really tense hanging thread that only gets resolved when we cut to Barry deciding on his (incredibly foolhardy) plan to drop through the ceiling. (Side note: I really like that this is what he comes up with; it's so similar to Inyssa's 'jump out of a window' plan, which he himself said was ridiculous, and it helps to build up that sense of how similar they are, underneath Inyssa's insistence that she is really nothing like Barry in the slightest.)

    It looks like the elemental plates are involved, huh. It's been a while since I saw them made use of in fic; in fact, I think I've only ever seen them thoroughly explored once before, quite a long time ago, and that story made quite heavy use of their weird magical powers. From the effect that the spooky plate had on the rotom possessing Inyssa, it looks like these weird powers might be a plot point here, too. Like, going by what we've seen already, weird powers are most certainly within this fic's purview, so I'll be interested to see how that thing develops.

    And there's a lovely heartwarming moment to end with, too! Very nice. I like a good companionable silence like that; the relationship between Niss and Barry is developing really nicely. They're such kids, and I mean that in the best possible way. You just want to see things turn out well for them, the poor dorks.

    Anyway, here are some typos and things:

    There should be a 'together' there after 'glued' – 'glue' is one of those verbs that always needs to have like an auxiliary preposition come after it, whether that be 'to' (for gluing something to something else) or 'up' (as in gumming something up with globs of sticky stuff). I don't know if that's the correct terminology. Possibly I'm not qualified to be giving this level of grammatical advice.

    This is an easy mistake to make – that should be 'was that', not 'were those'; it's difficult to explain why, exactly, but I think it has to do with the fact that technically Barry is talking about an encounter (a singular thing) and not the pokémon that made it up (which are obviously plural subjects). I'm not sure of that, but I am sure that it should be 'was that'. Sorry I don't quite have the technical nous to explain it properly. D:

    That should be 'Gastly', rather than 'Ghastly'.

    This structure is technically correct, but it reads much more naturally to not insert an adverb in between the subject and the verb – so like, 'Unconsciously, he grabbed Inyssa's hand' or 'She raised her wrist lazily to his face'.

    I can't quite tell if you're using 'She chastised him' as a dialogue attribution there. If you are, that should be a comma after 'this', and no capital S on 'she'. If not, never mind!

    That semicolon should either be a comma or a dash.

    'He' shouldn't be capitalised here.

    The opposite of 'existent' is 'nonexistent', rather than 'unexistent'.

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

    That should be 'to' rather than 'towards'.

    Here, Niss refers to the rotom as both 'he' and 'it'; she should stick with one or the other for the sake of consistency.

    That should be 'lay', rather than 'laid' – 'laid' is the passive form, 'lay' is active.

    But yeah! Exciting stuff. Relatively little plot developments here, but as far as ways to move your characters on to the next stop on their journey go, this is a pretty cool one! Ghost stories are a good tonal fit for this fic, I think, and I feel like as a kind of journeyfic, you can get away with these kind of side episodes that don't directly advance the main story as long as they're fun and they fit, which this does. Journeys aren't always very focused affairs, after all. As usual, I'll be looking forward to your next chapter!
     
  3. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    To Firaga: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this spooky side-adventure and all the hijinks in it :D oh and don't worry, this was far from a filler chapter. I hope you'll see why in the future ;)

    To Cutlerine: Once again thank you so, so much for your help with editing and stuff, you really are a miracle worker. You're absolutely right in that the first transition would work better if I didn't spoil Barry falling from the ceiling, so I took that out. I always wanted to explore the idea of the elemental plates and the whole myth territory of Sinnoh more, so there will be lots of that. Also I'm really glad you enjoy Niss and Barry being dumb and going on ill-advised adventures together, because that's most of the charm of this early part of the fic :D I love them too, and I can't wait for you to see how they develop.


    With that said, let's hop into the next chapter. I'm really sorry for the delay; I'll try to be more consistent with posting in the future.

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

    Chapter 13: Strain
    After falling on top of a very sturdy table and almost breaking his spine, the last thing Barry needed was to walk a mile uphill. Alas, with their only path back blocked by a mountain of rubble, they had no choice but to proceed ahead.

    Every step he took felt as if someone had exchanged his spinal cord with a burning iron rod, and the fact that he was covered in the dust raised by the Chateau's collapse didn't give him a very pristine look. His left arm was wrapped around Niss' shoulder, who had adamantly forced her aid on him, not letting him walk a single step on his own in fear of hurting himself more. She seemed to be struggling with part of another person's weight on her shoulders, but she hadn't complained once.

    The hidden grotto behind the house led to a small, narrow path which ran up the hills at the east of Eterna City. The map didn't show it for some reason, and according to Niss' guess it should take them to the mountain path right past Route 206, letting them enter the city while bypassing any security around it.

    As the minutes passed, Barry tried to subtly show Niss that he was getting better, putting more force into his steps and walking proudly, even though it hurt a lot. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy being so close to her, but he felt bad letting her do all the work when it came to their journey. After all she had gone through in the past days, he felt the need to step up to her somewhat. Not literally, because he could barely stand, but it was time he took things seriously. He wouldn't get to be Champion by letting Niss babysit him.

    "Yeah, that's right..." he told himself, not realizing he was talking out loud.

    "Wanna include me in your private talk with yourself?" Niss said at his side, breathing heavily. "What are you thinking about?"

    "Oh, nothing. Just thinking how great it'll be when I kick your butt atop Victory Road and become the Champion. That kinda thing"

    Niss shot him an icy look, sweat forming on her forehead.

    "I could just leave you here, you know." She tried to sound nonchalant, though the exhaustion and effort made it difficult. "It would be easy, and no one would ever find you. Would be a nice way to get rid of a competitor for the throne."

    "...Fair enough."

    After a few more minutes they arrived at the top of the mountain path. Below them lay the distant shapes of Eterna City's buildings and houses, flashes of green and maroon mixed together with a tinge of yellow making it look like some kind of painting. A gust of wind hit him in the face and ruffled his hair, reinvigorating him with every breath he took. Below them. the dark stone of the mountain tilted down slightly, circling around the city in a path that would have been impossible to see unless one were looking from above.

    "At least Metchi didn't lie about this," Niss said, relief clear in her tone. "We should take a break now, the downward path might hurt your back."

    "What? No!" He jumped out of her arms and stood up as straight as he could. "Trust me, I'm as healthy as a Tauros. I could keep walking for hours. Heck, I could run for hours!"

    "No you couldn't," she said, succinctly. "But if you say so, let's keep going."

    He jumped down toward the base of the path, the pain from the impact almost making him pass out. Next to him Niss landed gracefully, while trying to clean dust off her red coat.

    "I can't wait until our Starly evolve and can carry us around," he said, trying to distract her from his poor condition. "Flying with dad's Salamance was awesome; I want to do that with my Pokemon too."

    "I wouldn't count on that soon, on my end at least." Niss sighed. "I haven't been able to train Steven lately. He's not feeling too well after... what happened in the Windworks."

    He mentally cursed himself for bringing up that loaded topic. He looked around, trying to change the subject, but he couldn't think of much.

    "Sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up," Niss smiled weakly. "We've been through enough **** already, we should think positively."

    "Yeah! Like the next Gym!" He smiled cheerfully. "Man I'm so excited, you're finally gonna see me fight. Though I don't know what type they use."

    "Grass, according to the guide inside the Pokétch," she said. "The leader is named Gardenia I think."

    "Wow, talk about applying for the job you're made for," he said, and Niss had to stiffle a laugh. "Grass is really easy though, it has a ton of weaknesses."

    "You shouldn't base your Pokemon choice just on types," she warned him. "You need to put more thought into it if you want to be the Champion."

    "Oh yeah? Then let me try to guess your team." He stroked his chin and frowned as if he were in deep thought. "Shadi, Steven and... Enma maybe? Wow, that was hard to figure out."

    Niss looked away, pouting. "You don't know me. I could use... uh..." She bit her lip, considering her options. "Well... my new ghost buddy might be strong enough to surpass the type disadvantage."

    Barry felt his stomach drop at the mention of that... thing. Images of that pale girl and the stone tablet she'd given him flashed through his mind, and for a moment he could've sworn he heard a distant gust of wind. He shook his head and tried to reply.

    "You haven't named him yet?"

    There was a pause before Niss answered.

    "I'm not sure about it. I just... I don't know how I feel about having that thing in my team. I don't even know what it is! And the Pokédex has no information about it either."

    "Then it has to be a super rare Pokemon!" he offered. "Maybe a legendary, even."

    "Wohoo, lucky me." She raised both hands and wiggled them. "Must be the shittiest legendary ever. I'll probably just ask Rowan about it later. He might know something about him."

    There was silence as they continued walking downhill toward Eterna City. Both avoided the other's gaze, trying to ignore the Donphan in the room.

    "So..." Barry crossed his arms, trying to appear casual. "Do you... wanna talk about what happened back there?"

    "Not now," she replied, shoulders dropped. "Just... too much **** at once. Let me rest before we discuss Murder Ghost Funhouse again."

    "Wow, how long did it take you to come up with that amazing name?" he spat back, feeling a hint of irritation.

    "**** off."

    The path became narrower as they approached the bottom of the mountain, the enormous shadows of the walls around them hiding their presence. Barry could hear Niss' breathing get shallower, and he could swear she was walking faster than before as the dark swallowed the path; the same thing that had happened the last time they entered a cave. He did his best to ignore it and kept the pace with her, wanting nothing more than to get to the city and throw himself at the first bed he found.

    His body almost cried in relief when rays of sunlight hit him in the face as the hillside finally opened up. They emerged from the east near Route 211, close to the vegetable fields which rested behind some of the buildings of the city, which obscured them almost completely.

    "No wonder no one knows about this place," Niss commented, breathing heavily.

    With utmost care they sneaked through the sides of the buildings, trying to get as few eyes on them as possible. Once they emerged into one of the side streets they were relieved to see that there was no security around, only a few civilians doing their last stroll through the place before the sun went down. Niss grabbed him by the arm and they both started walking south, trying to locate the Pokemon Center before anyone noticed them.

    Barry couldn't stop looking around, admiring the beautiful architecture of the city. Most of the houses were built on what appeared to be a mix of cobblestone and ancient rock, although they didn't look as old as those in Sandgem. The town still had a very traditional feeling to it. The colors around them were mostly cold; blues and greens and soft yellows which gave the place a very relaxed look, almost like the city itself was part of the nature around it. He was beginning to feel like himself more with every step he took, his bright smile returning to his face as he remembered the reason he set out in his journey, the wonders of the world being reward enough for him.

    He turned to say something to Niss but found her looking at something in the distance, eyes narrowed.

    "The hell is that?" She pointed south, beyond one of the old houses, and Barry got on his toes to see it more easily.

    His eyes set on what appeared to be a towering shape of bronze, standing out above everything around it. The floor beneath it was elevated, with shiny marble steps leading up to it. The statue stood proud at about eight feet tall, its imposing shape seemingly attracting everyone's eyes to it, or at least theirs and the few people in the streets around it.

    Without thinking, he walked toward the statue, the pain on his back disappearing to the back of his mind. He couldn't get his eyes off the bronze of the statue, and as he came within within arm's reach he could feel something stirring behind his eyes.

    He stopped just a feet away from it, slowly shaking that feeling away and placing a hand against his temple. What... had just happened? He heard Niss stopping at his side, her eyes also set on the statue. It had the appearance of a dragon, with robust wings growing from its back and something which appeared to be armor covering the body, with big, strong extremities; arms raised towards the sky.

    "It looks like a Pokemon," she whispered, eyes narrowed, "but I have no idea which."

    He got closer and tried to read the inscription on the lower part of it, but the silver of it was extremely old, and the words on it had vanished a long time ago. The people around him, including Niss, were simply admiring the statue for its beauty, but something inside Barry told him there was something more there, he couldn't exactly tell what, but...

    "Such pitiable, misunderstood praise."

    His heart jumped at the sound of that voice, coming from the other side of the statue. He and Niss exchanged a knowing look, her face paling as realization hit her. As they looked over the towering shape of bronze they noticed another man staring up at the statue, hands behind his back.

    "Time and space, intertwined in a spiral around Sinnoh." He kept talking to himself, seemingly not noticing them. "These Pokemon, revered not for logic, but for fear. To think that this beauty is tainted by such unnecessary emotions, it truly is a shame." He closed his eyes for a moment, and Barry felt like time began to move again. "Wait for me, Dialga and Palkia. I shall weave your powers into a new, better world."

    His eyes opened slowly, and his sight shifted towards them. Sharp pain flared in his chest as the icy grey of his eyes fell on him.

    "Pardon me." He spoke slowly, his voice akin to white noise, a continuous line of sound. "Stand aside."

    He walked between them, once again leaving them breathless as he dissapeared toward the growing darkness of the now still city. The noise around them suddenly returned, and Barry could breathe again. He felt Niss' fingers wrap around his, and when he looked down at her he noticed her face paler than ever.

    "It... it was him," she whispered, lower lip trembling. "The man in the lake."

    "Cyrus." The name sprouted from his mouth like poison. "What's he doing here? Does he just go around saying stuff like that near kids?"

    Niss was standing still, her eyes still set on the place the man had disappeared to.

    "I don't know and I don't want to find out either," she said. "Let's not worry about that; he's probably just a creep."

    Barry heard her, but he didn't move an inch. He approached the statue, his hand gracing the metal in front of him, as if looking for something. He felt like he was being called to.

    "Uh... Barry?" he heard Niss' voice behind him, almost distant. "What are you doing?"

    He didn't respond. His fingers grazed the cold metal as he moved them from the Pokemon's shoulder down toward its chest. Something inside his pocket felt heavy, though he didn't worry about it at the moment. The bronze started feeling warmer and warmer as his fingers got close to the spot he was looking for. Finally he laid his hands on top of the core at the middle of the Pokemon's chest, and the moment he touched it he knew it was made of a different material, a lot rougher and colder than the bronze covering its body. Without thinking he grabbed the edges and pulled the stone rectangle out.

    "You broke it!" Niss' voice took him out of his trance, and he turned around to see her horrified face.

    "No I didn't," he replied, voice unusually low. "This wasn't part of the statue."

    She got closer and peered at what Barry held in the palm of his hand. A piece of square stone, flat and tinted in dark red, its sides engraved with strange symbols. Much like the one he'd found back at the Old Chateau.

    "Isn't it just like that thing you got from... the house?" Niss was clearly about to mention the ghost girl, but she stopped herself. "What was it called? The Specter Plate?"

    He nodded weakly, feeling the piece of rock with his fingers, "Yeah, seems like it. They both look the same and have those words written on them."

    "Too bad we can't read them," Niss sighed. "Who knows what these things are, maybe we could sell them to a museum or something."

    Barry paused, then slowly looked up at Niss, brow furrowed.

    "What do you mean?" he asked , incredulous. "Is it too dark to read it or something?"

    Niss gave him the exact same puzzled look, and a smile formed on her face.

    "Unless you know the language it's written in..." She let out a laugh. "I mean, you did know morse code so who knows."

    "You mean Sinnohan? Yeah I'm pretty sure I can read that," he spat back, not understanding Niss' sudden sarcastic tone.

    Her smile faded, and slowly she opened her eyes, lower lip trembling. "W... are you serious? You can actually read those scribbles?"

    Barry was completely lost. What did she mean by scribbles? The words were clear as day, almost like they were written on a white piece of paper. He took the other plate out of his pocket and held both of them in front of him, confirming that he could indeed read both.

    "May this fourteenth key grant Him the blood of dragons, imbued with infinite potential." Once again he heard a distant gust of wind as he spoke. "That's what the one we got from the statue says, as for the other one..." He raised the other plate. "May this thirteenth key grant Him the peace of death, imbued with second chances."

    As soon as he stopped talking, he felt a heavy silence set in around them. Confused, he turned to look at Niss and froze at her expression. Her face was pale as that of a corpse, and her eyes were wide and full of shock. The strenge feeling behind his eyes suddenly disappeared, and Niss let out a gasp.

    "What is it?" he asked, afraid that something was wrong with him.

    "Y... your eyes," she whispered. "No... no, it's nothing, I must be way too tired." She placed a palm against her face, and took a deep breath. "Dear god, I really need to collect myself. I feel like I'm going crazy."

    Barry put a hand on her shoulder. She'd been acting weird ever since they had entered that mansion, and that hadn't stopped after they escaped either. He wanted to say something, but he wasn't sure what, giving the current circumstances.

    "We should go to the Pokemon Center," he proposed, forming a warm smile. "I think we've been through enough trouble today."

    A voice that wasn't Niss' answered him.

    "I agree completely."

    Oh... crap.

    They turned around in unison toward the familiar voice, panic clear in their expressions. Sarah stood behind them, arms crossed and face like that of a furious Ursaring.

    "I've been looking for you two." She spoke every word slowly, as if trying to hold back her anger. "Pokemon Center. Now. We need to talk."

    -----------------------------------------------
    Not a single word was said as they walked toward the Pokemon Center, the sun finally disappearing behind the mountains, the only lights illuminating the path being those of the lanterns at the sides of the street. In front of him, his mother moved swiftly, her pale hands clenched into fists and the sound of her steps echoing inside his head. He felt an oppressive anxiety making its way up from his stomach, and one look at Niss told him that she was as scared as he was. Sarah was not the kind of woman one wanted to anger.

    The doors of the red building opened for them as they approached, the warm light inside filling him with something like relief, and the smell of fresh food making his stomach growl. He saw his mother stop momentarily, looking around the entire lobby, and then walking straight towards one of the nearby tables, where another woman was sitting. Barry's stomach made a small turn at the sight of her, and he felt his face getting slightly hot. Her hair was short and orange, with small streaks of black beneath it, and her bored eyes were a beautiful dark honey. She wore what appeared to be a green poncho which didn't cover her midriff, and her bright orange pants were very worn out and torn around the knees.

    "I'm sorry for making you wait, Gardenia." Sarah's tone was cold and to the point, her eyes almost obscured by her dark hair. "I ran into my son and her friend on the way."

    Something in the back of Barry's mind lit up. Gardenia? The name sounded familiar.

    "Seems your efforts paid off, in one aspect at least." Gardenia relaxed back into her chair, lazily smiling at the older woman. "Finally found the little sprouts, eh? They seem like a couple of troublemakers, no wonder they made you work so hard."

    "Wait, was that a plant pun?" he couldn't help but ask, and as soon as he did realization dawned on him. "Oh! You're the Gym leader, right? The one with the weird name?"

    Niss facepalmed, letting out a sigh. "Oh my god..."

    "The one and only, my pal." She rested the back of her head on her palms, looking as relaxed as a Slakoth. "You're Sarah's and Palmer's son, and that behind you must be Dawn Jr, second edition." She laughed at her own joke. "Nice to meet ya', I've heard of the two of you."

    "Y... you have?" Niss asked.

    "What are you doing hanging out with mom?" he added, trying to avoid his mother's flaring gaze for as long as possible.

    "Sarah and I have been in contact for quite some time now," Gardenia replied between yawns. "She's pretty much the only Association member I can stand, and we've been working together on that whole bridge business." She sighed. "We've made some progress but it's still a long way to go methinks. Haven't had to work this hard since I became a Gym leader, but helping investigations is in my contract, so what can I do, right?"

    "Yes, quite." Sarah pushed her glasses up, her lips thin and pale. "Gardenia, would you mind giving us some space? I need to have a talk with them. We will review the police's documents tomorrow."

    "Jeez..." Gardenia stood up and threw her hands up in the air, stretching like a Glameow. Barry tried really hard not to stare at the way her poncho was lifted up, revealing the woman's midriff. "Sorry kids, hope she doesn't scold you that much. I'll be in my Gym all day tomorrow, so feel free to come by."

    She made a peace sign with her fingers as she left the Pokemon Center, leaving them alone with Sarah. Neither of them said anything for a while, until his mother finally sat down where Gardenia was previously and looked at them with a glare which could've paralyzed a Salamance. Without saying a word both kids sat down at the other side of the table, waiting. Sarah leaned back into her chair, closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. When she opened them again they had lost part of the anger behind them, now only reflecting something akin to sadness.

    "What were you two thinking?"

    Her words hit him like a hammer. He was expecting her to yell at him, but somehow her disappointed tone was more hurtful than anything he could've prepared for. He glanced at his friend, who was similarly speechless, a drop of sweat running down her face.

    "Do you know how worried I was?" Her shoulders dropped as she spoke, all semblances of rage disappearing from her face. "After I heard what happened in Floaroma I dropped my assignments immediately and had Palmer fly me there, but you were nowhere to be found. Then a couple hours ago I get a report that someone saw a massive cloud of dust and smoke rise up from Eterna Forest, and once they approached it they told me the Old Chateau had collapsed on itself, possibly due to someone's intervention." She made emphasis on that last word. "I want you to explain me what happened."

    She crossed her arms, and waited. Barry opened his mouth to respond, but Niss managed to cut him out.

    "It was my fault." Her words came out garbled, as if she wanted to get them out as fast as possible, "I convinced Barry to follow me through Eterna Forest, and I went alone to fight those Galactic thugs. He didn't have anything to do with it."

    "What!? No, that's bullcrap!" Barry slammed a hand on the table. "I would've followed you to fight those creeps if I knew, and we both decided to go throught the forest!"

    "You were just following me because I gave you no choice," she spat back, tone sour.

    "Screw you!" he yelled, startling his friend, "I'm not your sidekick Niss, I'm a trainer like you! My decisions are my own, and if I want to go with you to do something dangerous that's because I do actually want that, because I like being around you!" He didn't realize the people around him could hear him, although he wouldn't have cared either way. "Stop blaming yourself for both of us. If we both act like idiots then we should share the blame, that's how this works!"

    Niss raised her eyes to meet his, and he could see a trace of wetness in them. She bit her lip and clinched her fists, not saying another word. Sarah cleared her throat as to get their attention.

    "Well, I see there's also plenty you two should talk about," For the first time Barry could make up a hint of a smile in her voice. "I'm glad to hear that you know what you did wrong, but that doesn't mean I can simply ignore it. You do realize that if anyone but me had found out about this, they would be required to take away your trainer card, right? You would not be able to participate in the League Challenge until you both cleared your names, which could take months," she explained, and could see the horror in their faces. "I will not turn you in, but I need you to understand that if it happens again, my hands are tied. I need you to promise me you will not do something so reckless again."

    Barry could hear a Or if you do, don't get caught, in her voice, though he decided not to comment on it. They both nodded, heads low. Sarah then looked at Niss, and put one of her hands on top of hers.

    "Inyssa, I know that I'm in no position to tell you what to do." Her tone was soft as she spoke. "But I want you to know that I do care about you as if you were my daughter. Please, don't put yourself in that kind of danger anymore."

    Niss didn't say a word, simply looking away from Sarah as if she wanted to ignore everything around her.

    "You are your own person and you don't have to live up to anyone's image. You're both already great trainers, and you'll only improve with time. I'm already proud of both of you."

    Barry's eyes began to sting, and next to him he could see a small shine behind the shadows covering Niss' eyes. His friend opened her mouth and spoke, her voice barely above a whisper.

    "Can I go book a room? I'm really tired," she tried to say as plainly as possible, her voice breaking slightly.

    Sarah took two things out of her pocket, one of them being a key, and the other a square piece of paper. "I already did that for you. I was also told to give this to you. Your mother sent you a letter."

    She handed both objects to her, and Niss grabbed them weakly, her eyes moving towards the wax stamp in the front of the envelope which showed her family's symbol. She stared at it for a few seconds, until she finally saved it and the key in the pocket of her coat.

    "Thanks." She said, barely any force in her voice. "I'll go to my room now."

    "Have a good night. Tomorrow I'll escort both of you to the gym if you want."

    She simply nodded, and without much fanfare she got up and walked toward one of the staircases heading to her new room. Barry was left alone with his mother, not knowing exactly what to say to make the situation less awkward.

    "Mom... I..." He paused, trying to form the words. "...Sorry."

    "As long as you've learned your lesson..."

    "It really wasn't her fault, mom," he insisted. "I just wanted us to be on equal footing, I didn't want to leave her alone."

    "I understand." Sarah nodded. "Inyssa has her family's fire inside her. Her father was the same, as were Johanna and Shadi, although in a different manner of course. And I just need to look at your father to understand why you did what you did. You two are like flame and spark, and the entire world around you is made of gunpowder."

    He couldn't help but smile, remembering what had happened at the Chateau. "Well... you're not wrong."

    His mother put both hands in the table, and with difficulty she helped herself up, exhaustion reflected in her eyes.

    "I have to go back to work now." She scowled at the prospect. "But I'll be back in the morning to see how you're both doing." She walked towards him and put her hand on top of his head, ruffling his hair. "Take care, alright? I would sleep better at night knowing that you're not in trouble the moment you're out of my sight."

    Barry smiled brightly at her, and put both arms around her. Sarah returned the hug with twice the strenght and planted a kiss on top of his head.

    "I love you. Stay safe, and help each other."

    -----------------------------------------------
    Almost an hour later Barry was laying on his bed, eyes set on the roof and mind restless. In a chair next to him were his orange and white jacket and his green scarf, waving with the wind from the open window like the leaves outside. After a hot meal and a cold shower the pain on his back had almost completely disappeared, now only a numb feeling. He thought he'd be asleep the moment his head hit the pillow, but something was keeping him awake, the thoughts inside his head overpowering his exhaustion.

    He reached with one hand to his pocket and retrieved both strange plates he'd gotten recently. Something told him there was a certain significance to them, like a riddle hiding an answer that he couldn't quite reach yet. The strange girl in the Chateau, the strange feeling when he approached that statue, the way Niss reacted to him reading aloud the inscriptions... something was off, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

    A knock on his door got him out of his trance, as he put the plates back in his pocket and looked towards the dark wooden frame. Before he had time to respond the door opened and through it appeared the shape of Niss, the light at the other side illuminating everything but her face. She was missing her usual coat and hat, her short hair freely covering part of her face.

    "Niss!" he yelped, surprised by her sudden appearance. "What are you doing here?"

    "I couldn't really sleep." He heard the smile in her voice as she approached him. "And I wanted to see how you were doing."

    She walked towards the chair close to his bed, throwing his things on top of the nearby table before sitting on it

    "Rough day, huh?" she sighed, smiling. "Man, how embarrassing. Between the Chateau and your mother I've been handed around like a ragdoll."

    Barry didn't exactly know what to say, and he felt like he shouldn't interrupt. Niss stood silent for a few seconds, and then began to speak again.

    "Sorry for what I said before." Her head hung low. "I didn't want to imply that I didn't respect you as an equal or anything. I just... didn't want you to get in trouble with Sarah."

    "Oh... yeah, don't worry about it." Barry waved his hand and tried to smile. "I got a bit emotional too."

    "Sometimes I feel like our friendship revolves around us trying to out-stupid each other and then blaming ourselves for it."

    "I think that's what it's always been about," he said. "But that's what fuels our amazing adventures! Come on Niss, I've gotten more fun out of these past few days than everything we did back in Twinleaf. And I have you to thank for that."

    The light coming from outside illuminated Niss' eyes, and he could see the warmth in them.

    "Yeah, I guess we've been part of some strange stuff. The whole Chateau incident was sort of like that horror movie we saw that time when we were kids. The one with the poltergeist in the kitchen, remember?"

    "Oh yeah! You mean Pastrygeist!" He smiled, memories of them watching the movie together on Niss' couch flooding his mind. "Yeah it was kind of like that, except we were missing the food puns."

    "Well, our journey is still young, so who knows."

    They couldn't help but laugh, which sent pain rippling through Barry's back. After a few seconds Inyssa got up, eyes still set on him.

    "So, we're cool?"

    "Yeah... we're cool," he replied, giving her a thumbs up.

    "Great, then get ready for tomorrow, because it's time we get our second badge."

    She began to make her way towards the exit of the room, and stopped just before putting her hand on the doorknob. She stood there, considering her words, and finally turned towards Barry.

    "You know..." she whispered, choosing her words carefully, "being around you, going in dumb adventures together, it reminds me of why I chose to be a trainer rather than anything else." Her voice was warm and clear, and it made the knot inside Barry's chest disappear. "I guess what I'm trying to say is... thanks. For putting up with me."

    And before he had a chance to respond Niss walked out of the door, her face tinted red. The boy stood there, laying on the bed and repeating her words in his head. His lips slowly curved into a smile.

    A few minutes later he was sleeping soundly, like a Snorlax.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  4. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    Chapter 14: Guilt and Flowers.


    Not sooner had the sun risen through the east that Inyssa set foot on the door of Eterna City's Gym, posture rigid as steel and eyes brimming with determination.

    She inhaled the sharp, cold air around her and the sweet scent of her ivory cotton scarf, freshly washed that morning of all the dirt and soot which had clung to it ever since the Chateau's collapse. She felt something poking her in the forehead. Steven's tiny legs were adjusting his body while he was on top of her hat, the wind from the north threatening to topple him backwards. To her left and right stood Shadi, her thick mustache shivering with the morning's cold, and Enma, his body steaming and the flame on his tail burning brightly. Behind her, she could barely hear Barry's breathing, and when she turned around she found him in the same state she'd seen him since they had left the Pokemon Center; chin up and hands clenched into fists. His smile was thin and pale, stretched across his face in the same way Sarah's always was. His body was still but she could almost feel the electricity coming from his pores, a good night's sleep apparently being enough to restore the boy to his usual overexcited state.

    She smiled back, the dryness in her lips hurting slightly, and she felt her heart starting to beat faster.

    "Last time this didn't go as expected." She broke the silence, inadvertently delaying their entrance to the establishment. "But this place does seem to have an actual Gym Leader, so I say we mark this as our official first test in the Sinnoh League."

    He nodded, arms crossed."Back in Oreburgh we didn't even give each other points after our battles. How's the score right now?"

    "Forty six to forty four." She allowed herself a coy smile, which she made sure Barry could see. "I'm winning."

    "Well, I'm feeling lucky today. Whoever has the least fainted Pokemon at the end of the battle wins a point. If you lose the fight, you lose a point. Sounds good?"

    A simple nod was her only response, and after another moment of hesitation her hands moved towards both sides of the door, pushing them aside. The path ahead opened up to a mess of green and browns, with ocassional different colors adorning what appeared to be a mix between an in-door park and a winter garden. Unlike Floaroma, the place didn't have an overpowering smell, but a subtle citric scent which danced around them like mist, complementing the cold wind. As she walked through the dirt road beneath her feet, her gaze moved between the flora of the place: camellias, winterberries and witch hazels created a mix of colors that were quite pleasant to the sight, so much that she started walking slower just to appreciate their beauty. Unfortunately, Barry protested by clashing his head against her back, in a similar way to when they were kids.

    "Come on Niss! We already smelled flowers in Floaroma, let's go fight the Gym Leader!" he yelled, and next to him Enma nodded energetically.

    She shot them an icy look and reluctantly moved forward until the beautiful garden was behind her and the second door towards the actual Gym was at hand's reach. Once again she walked through, and at the other side she found the place they had gotten into so much trouble trying to find. The room was twice as big as Oreburgh's arena, the steps at the side shining brightly below the sunlight, and the sand beneath her feet covering every inch of the battlefield. A few kids and teenagers were scattered through the place, either talking to each other or training their grass Pokemon. In the exact middle of the place stood Gardenia and Sarah, the only two adults that could be seen around.

    "Mom! When did you get here?" She felt her body being jerked forward as Barry almost jumped on top of her to get a better view. "We didn't find you when we woke up so we though you were working!"

    Sarah's turn was sudden, her body freezing for a fraction of a second before her eyes moved towards them with the speed of a Ninjask. Inyssa could see a glimpse of surprise in her face, altough it only lasted a second before she relaxed her guard, her lips forming a relieved smile. She appeared to be on edge, ready to jump to action at a moment's notice. Dark bags adorned the underside of her eyes, revealing just how little sleep the woman had gotten the night before.

    "Barry... Inyssa..." She spoke in a low, raspy tone, and behind her Gardenia winked at both of them. "Good morning, I wasn't expecting you until twelve at least."

    "Is everything okay?" Inyssa asked.

    "Yes, don't worry about me." She raised a hand, showing a thin smile. "We were simply discussing town matters."

    "Still working on that terrorism case," said Gardenia, both hands on her hips. "We haven't got much info on those Galactic guys, but there's some weird stuff going on around here. A couple citizens have been missing, and Pokemon all over the place are acting strange. We had to deal with some violent cases last night."

    Sarah scowled at her. "Gardenia, they don't need to hear that."

    "Right, right, sorry." She smiled nervously, wiping her palms on the fabric of her pants. "Aaaanyways, it's nice to finally met you two, I've been waiting for ya." She moved her gaze from the kids to Inyssa's Pokemon. "I see you already got your companions ready."

    "We didn't want to wait in line for our fight," Inyssa admitted, trying to imbue her voice with as much confidence as possible. "And we figured it'd be better for your reputation if as few people as possible saw you lose against two children."

    Gardenia's eyes sparked with either amusement or irritation, perhaps a mix of both. She approached the kids, her cinnamon hair waving with the wind coming from the open roof of the arena, and with a simple movement of her hand she produced a shiny, Green Pokeball.

    "Oh I like these kids," she whispered, and Inyssa noticed Barry's slight blush at her side. "Alright sprouts, how many badges do you have? I wanna make sure I get a proper fight; I might be a gardener but tending to flowers and plants ain't the only thing I'm good at."

    "We have one badge, miss... I mean Gardenia!" Barry replied, his voice an octave higher than usual.

    "Yeah, we got it from Grumpy McFossilFace," Inyssa added. "Also you already used that sprout pun last night."

    "Ah, you must have fought against Roark," she nodded. "I can see how that would drop your spirits a bit. Poor kid's not really made for the job, is he. But don't you worry, I'll make sure you get your time's worth here!" She punched the palm of her own hand, eyebrows raising and eyes full of fire.

    Inyssa couldn't help but feel weirded out by the woman's changing behaviour. She'd seemed so chill and relaxed back in the Pokemon Center.

    "We're ready when you are."

    "Actually... before we start, I have a proposition for you two." She told them while spinning her Pokeball on her index finger. "As long as Sarah doesn't mind if I bend the Association rules a little bit."

    "Pretend I'm not here," said the woman.

    "Perfect! Alright you two, listen carefully. League regulations set three Pokemon as the maximum I can use against trainers with five badges or less, but that doesn't sound very fun, does it? And since you both seem to know each other..." A devious smile formed on her lips. "What do you think about a double battle? Both of you against me, four Pokemon on each side. That way I can really see what you kids are made of."

    The idea caught both of them off guard. Inyssa stood there, weakly stomping her feet in the ground, her eyebrows knit. But before she had time to consider it, Barry's voice boomed at her side, almost deafening her.

    "Oh my gosh, can we do that!?" She hadn't seen Barry so excited since he'd gotten that Snorlax plushy from her on his last birthday. "You're on! Right, Niss!?"

    She shrugged. "Fine by me."

    Gardenia needed to hear no more. With a simple smile she turned around and started walking towards the other side of the arena, ordering her students to clear the field as she passed through. Sarah shot them a warm look and headed towards the stands.

    "Guess that means we can only use two Pokemon each." She whispered, biting her finger. "Sorry Enma, but you'll have to stay out of this one."

    Enma's flame shot up until it was twice its size, and from his flaring eyes and the fact he was showing his teeth at her she guessed he wasn't too happy about her decision.

    "You've already gotten a ton of experience these past days," she said. "Your other teammates need to fight once in a while too."

    Enma simply spat at his side, crossing his arms and looking away from her. She figured that was the best possible reaction she was going to get from him, so she took it. Turning towards Barry she found him lost in thought.

    "Do you mind telling me what Pokemon are you going to use?" she asked him, bringing him back to reality.

    "And ruin the surprise? Come on Niss, you know me better than that," he said, grabbing a Pokeball from his belt. "Trust me, I've got an amazing idea, probably the best I've ever come up with! You'll absolutely die of shock."

    She shrugged, and figured that she would find out eventually. Without another word they walked towards the designated ring for challengers, and before a minute passed the arena had been completely cleared. At the stands on the side were a couple spectators, mostly Gym students. Gardenia's voice filled the stadium, with a booming sound like that of a sport's commentator.

    "This will be our first battle of the day so y'all better pay attention, you might learn something for once!" She bellowed to her students on the stands. "Barry Paladino, Inyssa Dawn, are you two ready?"

    "Yes we are, Miss Gardenia!" Barry yelled, his voice cracking from excitedness.

    "Bring it!" Inyssa yelled.

    "In that case, today's Gym battle..." She threw her hand up, pointing at the sky. "...oficially begins!"

    Inyssa closed her eyes for a moment, and for the first time in days she felt perfectly in place. All her worries about what had happened recently disappeared from her mind and she felt the wild beating of her heart warming up her entire body. She allowed herself a simple smile; that was exactly the feeling she'd been looking for, what she had been seeking for so long. She clenched her right fist, and once she opened her eyes she pointed directly at Gardenia, voice shaking with enthusiasm.

    "Shadi, I choose you!"

    The Kricketune jumped into action, her thin scythes glistening beneath the sunlight. Gardenia took two Pokeballs from her poncho and threw them into the air, the light from them materializing into two somewhat familiar Pokemon. One of them was the same green tortoise she'd seen with Lucas, while the other one was a taller, graceful figure with two roses instead of hands whom Inyssa recognized as Bret's evolution. The Turtwig and Roselia stood still, waiting.

    "Ohh I'm so pumped!" Barry yelled next to her, and with as much force as possible he threw his Pokeball into the air. "Go, Kitsune!"

    That piqued Inyssa's interest, and she set her sight directly on the shape appearing next to Shadi, excited to see what new Pokemon Barry had managed to catch. The pulsing light turned into a small, yellow and brown fox with thin arms and legs and slanted, almost completely closed eyes. The creature's butt hit the floor as soon as he appeared, and the bobbing of his head told her that he wanted nothing more than to be left alone so he could go back to sleep.

    "An Abra," she whispered, not believing what she was seeing. "Are you serious!? You're going to use an Abra in a Gym battle!?" Her arms were slightly trembling, and she felt a strong urge to put her hands around his neck. "What is wrong with you?"

    Barry simply smiled, not being fazed by her rage, and pointed at his Pokemon.

    "Quick, jump onto Shadi's back!" he ordered.

    The Abra turned around to look at him, and with a deep sigh he did as he was told, lazily grabbing onto the bug's back with his thin arms. Inyssa's mouth hung open, her brain trying to determine just what the hell was Barry thinking. Abra were useless in battle, the only move they knew was...

    A light lit up in her head, and she couldn't help but laugh. Barry's expression turned smug as he stroked his chin, staring at her expectedly.

    "Turtwig, use Curse!" Gardenia yelled from the other side of the arena. "Roselia, Razor Leaf!"

    The tortoise planted his four feet firmly on the ground, and a pulsing, dark energy began to glow around him, making him heavier and stronger. Meanwhile the rose Pokemon put both her buds forward and with a ragged scream they began to glow, expelling wave after wave of sharp, knife like petals towards them. Barry simply gave her a side look, urging her to do the honors.

    "Shadi, use Fury Cutter on Roselia!" she yelled.

    "Kitsune, Teleport!" Barry followed.

    Shadi brandished her two scythes, which began to glow with a pale, maroon energy. The razor petals were still advancing towards them, but the moment before they hit both Pokemon blinked out of existence in an almost imperceptible flash of purple. Gardenia's eyes went wide. A pop was heard as they materialized behind Roselia, who was too slow to react to the incoming attack. Inyssa was only able to hear the impact as the rose Pokemon went flying through the arena, landing face first onto the sand.

    "Turtwig, they're close to you! Bite them!" Gardenia ordered.

    Turtwig nodded and ran towards his opponents, maw opened wide. However his previous attack had rendered him too slow, and before he could reach them they teleported once again, slipping through his jaws. Roselia was still trying to get up, her body shaking from the previous attack, when Shadi appeared behind her and with another arc of her scythe sent her up ten feet towards the roof, the power of her attack increasing the more she used it.

    "Finish her off!" Inyssa yelled, fists clenched.

    The air pressurized around Shadi and Abra, and with another violet flash they appeared on top of their victim, the Kricketune's scythe contracting as far back as possible. Inyssa had to look away as the impact sent Roselia downwards like a cannonball, raising clouds of sand around her body as she went completely limp. At the other side of the arena, Gardenia froze for a moment. Her mouth went from being slightly open to forming a fiery smile.

    "Oh hell yes," she said, her voice only a whisper. "That was a pretty nifty strategy. I can tell you two ain't gonna disappoint me." She returned Roselia to her Pokeball, and immediatly took another one from her poncho. "But I'm afraid that won't work again. Go, Cherrim!"

    Her new Pokemon appeared in the field next to Turtwig, light turning into what appeared to be a purple flower bud with two tiny legs. Inyssa couldn't even see a face or arms on it.

    "The hell is that?" she whispered, narrowing her eyes. "I've never seen that Pokemon, it's kind of like a lame version of Bret."

    "Looks super weak," Barry concluded. "Just focus on the Turtwig! Come on, before he has time to buff himself even more."

    Inyssa thought about it for a second, her eyes still set on that strange Pokemon. Gardenia wouldn't have sent it if he wasn't useful, but then again what could something so small do to them? She decided to go with Barry's plan. For now the tortoise was the clear target to attack.

    "Fury Cutter again!" she ordered, a speck of doubt in her voice.

    Shadi brandished her scythes once more, and being the fourth time she used the same attack the energy emanating from them began to shake the ground beneath her. The Kricketune set her eyes on her opponent, and with a small jump she pushed herself towards him.

    "Turtwig, Sunny Day, before she reaches you!" Gardenia shouted.

    Turtwig raised his head towards the sky, and with a deep roar he gathered energy in a small, grey ball inside his maw, launching it upwards with extreme force. Inyssa couldn't help but follow its trajectory as it flew through the clouds above, disappearing above them. For a short moment nothing happened, and she entertained the idea that the attack had failed, but before she got her hopes up the sky started clearing, all the clouds above the stadium parting and letting space free for strong rays of sunlight to fall into the arena.

    Which didn't particularly help the Turtwig as Shadi and Kitsune teleported in front of him and wrecked him with a single hit, his body flying backwards and almost breaking the stone of the wall. He landed with a deaf thomp and altough that had been the strongest slash from Shadi yet, the small Pokemon wasn't unconcious yet due to his fortified defenses. She was about to order another attack when Barry interrupted her.

    "Whoa, what's that thing doing!?"

    Furrowing her brow, she looked at what Barry was pointing at. The petals on the Cherrim's body were slowly opening, dark purple turning into a pale pink as he revealed his true form, two tiny pink arms coming out from inside the bud and finally showing his round, cute face. Inyssa stood in shock for a few seconds, head leaned to the side.

    "Do you like this cutie over here?" Gardenia asked, smug smile on her face. "Cherrim's ability lets him change his form when under strong sunlight, and it gives him a whole lotta speed and power!" she explained, arms crossed and pride clear in her voice. "Oh and trust me, that's not the only trick this little guy has..."

    Barry and Inyssa exchanged a worried look. She mentally cursed their lack of experience and her mind began to race trying to think of the possible implications of Gardenia's words. Whatever she meant with that, it didn't matter. As long as they had that powerful teleport combo on their side they had everything under control.

    "Fury Cutter one more time!" she yelled, wanting to get it over with as soon as possible.

    "I already told you that won't work again," Gardenia replied, voice firm. "Cherrim, Solar Beam!"

    The woman greatly enjoyed the look of horror on their faces as they realized what they'd walked into. Inyssa's heart dropped as she witnessed the flower Pokemon slowly raising from the floor upwards, a tremendous amount of solar energy gathering around his body until he looked like a miniature sun. She wanted to yell to Shadi to hurry and attack immediatly, but it was too late even before the words left her mouth.

    The flash of light blinded her. Even without being able to see anything she felt the tremor in her bones while the ground of the arena shook violently as if an earthquake were happening under them. Dust covered the entire place, extending towards them like mist, and she had to force her vision to finally find their Pokemon.

    Both Shadi and Kitsune laid on the sand, face down. The Abra was completely still, unconscious, while her Pokemon was weakly trying to get up, her resistance to grass moves being the only reason she was still standing. Her red body was covered in burn marks and a few drops of blood fell to the ground under her.

    Of course... how could she forget about Solar Beam? It was one of the strongest grass moves in existence, and while it usually took a long time to charge, under such strong sunlight that disadvantage had completely disappeared.

    "That... was amazing!" Barry spoke with a thin voice, a huge smile on his face. "Niss did you see that? I've never seen that attack in real life, it looked just like one of those cool attacks in anime!"

    "Barry, shut up!" She snapped at him, her brain still trying to come up with a strategy. "Listen, do you have your Buizel?"

    "Huh? Oh, yeah." He took one of his newest Pokeballs from his belt. "But he's water type, I don't think he'll get much done here."

    "Just trust me." She approached him, and whispered something in his ear. "... did you get that?"

    He nodded, and pointed Kitsune's Pokeball towards his body. "Yeah! That sounds like a good plan." The small fox Pokemon came back to him, and he threw the new one towards the field. "Razen, come out!"

    The Buizel materialized on the field, arms crossed. His resolve seemed to falter at the sight of what he had to face, but only for a moment.

    Inyssa looked at Shadi, who had just finished getting up and was now breathing deeply and unevenly, barely conscious. She thought her plan through three more times, and while she admitted it wasn't perfect they really didn't have that many choices.

    "Wow, thanks for bringing my Cherrim a free snack there, boy!" Gardenia shouted from the other side. "Solar Beam one more time!"

    Once again the flower Pokemon flew upwards, his body glistening with the energy of the sun. Inyssa bit her lip, she had no time to think anymore.

    "Shadi, use Fury cutter, but don't attack anyone!" The words felt crazy coming out of her mouth, and her Pokemon's expression told her she shared the sentiment. "Just trust me, charge the attack and turn towards your partner!"

    The Kricketune did as she was told, and only with a bit of hesitation she turned towards Razen, putting her scythe hands in front of her in an X shape. Being the fifth time she used the attack consecutively the power was stronger than ever, so much that Shadi was having problem containing it in her body.

    "Razen, it's your turn," Barry told his Pokemon, "Water Gun at Shadi!"

    The Buizel inhaled deeply before expelling a small torrent of water from his mouth toward his partner. Inyssa couldn't help but smile at Gardenia's bewildered expression, and she mentally crossed her fingers for this to work. The moment Razen's attack hit Shadi the water started dissipating, turning to steam due to the incredible amount of energy in her scythes. A cloud of mist rose from her exhausted body and filled the entire stadium, blocking everyone's view and rising towards the open roof, where it hid the light of the sun and cancelled Cherrim's attack.

    "Oh you clever little shits." Gardenia whispered, not being able to contain a laugh. "Nice, very nice."

    The light disappeared from the Cherrim's body. The flower Pokemon fell to the ground and painfully started to squirm, not being able to contain his true form anymore. The petals behind his head started contracting once again until it fully covered his body, now making him look the same as when he had come out of his Pokeball.

    "Shadi quick, attack them before the steam dissolves!" Inyssa ordered.

    Only half concious and with ragged breath the Kricketune turned towards the Cherrim and Turtwig. The power from her previous attack was still on her scythes, and without moving an inch she formed an X once again, and took a deep breath. Mist gathered around her feet like a tiny hurricane and pressure started bulding in her hands.

    "That... doesn't look like Fury Cutter," Barry leaned forward, furrowed brow.

    "It's not." Inyssa lifted her chin and let out a small chuckle. "It's X-Scissor."

    Shadi looked backwards once, and her eyes met with Inyssa's. She could see her mustache twitching into a weak smile, pride shining in her eyes. She didn't understand Pokemon language, but Inyssa could see a Thanks in that gaze. Without hesitating the Kricketune slashed the air in front of her, and a cross shaped projectile of green energy flew towards Gardenia's Pokemon, leaving a trail of sand on its path. Cherrim and Turtwig desperately tried to run away, but they were too slow and the attack too powerful. The impact raised another cloud of dust as both Pokemon hit the ground, not being able to fight anymore.

    In the midst of those moments Inyssa could swear she heard a weak, proud laugh coming from Shadi, just before her body collapsed. She put a hand on her chest, a warm feeling growing inside her, and walking towards her she pointed at her with her Pokeball.

    "You did so, so well," she whispered, her nose crinkling. "Good job."

    "Oh man!" Gardenia raised both arms to the sky, and to Inyssa it seemed like she was enjoying the battle a little too much. "Gotta admit, it's been a while since I had to fight this hard against a couple of children. You two are wonderful, I'm kinda sad this is almost over!" She returned both Pokemon to their respective balls, and with a bit of fanfare took the last one out of her pocket. "But this has gone on for too long and I do have other challengers, so I'm afraid I'll have to cut this short."

    Gardenia punched the air in front of her, Pokeball in hand, and it opened up on a flash of light which dropped to the floor, forming an unfamiliar shape. Her last Pokemon was almost as tall as her, slim and shiny green, with white hair and what looked like two rose bouquets on his hands. His mouth was covered with a green bandana and a red scarf was tied around his neck, flowing with the cold wind. He looked quite similar to the Roselia she'd summoned before, but just different enough to raise Inyssa's suspicions.

    "Say hello to Roserade." Gardenia introduced her Pokemon, raising her head and forming a thin smile. "He will be ending this battle now."

    Inyssa froze for a second, not sure of what to do. If that thing was Roselia's evolution then it meant it was a fully evolved Pokemon, and she remembered too well what happened the last time she faced against one of those. Her eyes drifted upwards to her hat, where Steven was still sitting, a nervous expression on his tiny face. She was planning on using him for this battle, but now...

    The small bird Pokemon hadn't evolved yet, something he should've done already according to her estimates. He was too weak to fight something like that, and she knew that if that thing got a single hit on Barry's Buizel the water Pokemon would be defeated instantly. Maybe she could use Enma just this once, she thought. She would have time to train Steven later, she didn't have to...

    She felt the weight of Shadi's Pokeball in her hand, and she looked down toward it. She remembered how weak she had been when Inyssa found her at the door of that Pokemon Center. If she'd never given her a chance, would she have become as strong as she was now?

    "Steven, it's your turn," she said. "Are you up for it?"

    She heard Enma's hmph behind her, but she decided to ignore it. Steven awkwardly shifted his body a couple times, and finally jumped off her hat, extending his wings and flying towards the arena, his eyebrows knit together in worry. She felt a knot in her stomach, still not sure if she was making the right choice, but it was too late to back down now.

    "Our best bet is rushing that thing as fast as possible," she told both Pokemon and Barry, attempting to sound more confident than she was. "Use Aerial Ace!"

    "Razen, Aqua Jet!" Barry joined her scream, fist punching forward.

    The Buizel moved like lightning, blurring into a smear as he rushed to attack the Roserade. As he let out a scream his body was fully covered in a mantle of water, and before his opponent had time to dodge he launched himself at his stomach, toppling him backwards and making him lose his balance. Above them Steven soared to their location, his wings sharp as knives. The impact finally managed to knock the Roserade down to the floor, where he let out a low sigh of pain, receiving only moderate damage from those attacks.

    "One attack that never misses and another one that always strikes first," Gardenia spoke under her breath. "Well, I think I know which one I should take care of first. Roserade, use Energy Ball on the Starly!"

    Roserade stood up almost instantly, his tiny legs dancing through the sand beneath him like a ballerina. He raised the hand that contained the blue roses and pointed it towards Steven; a vibrant, pulsing orb of green energy formed in front of him, easily twice the size as the target of such attack. The bird Pokemon watched this and started flying in circles around the arena, panic dictating his actions. But the Roserade was calm, and without moving an inch he aimed at a particular spot in the air, and fired.

    Inyssa stared, her eyes opened wide as the ball of energy made direct contact, exploding upon touch with Steven's body and blowing him out of the sky. His wings lost strength and he dived towards the left extreme of the arena, falling onto the floor. Her brain took a couple seconds to register what had happened, and part of her hoped that she would see her Pokemon stand up defiantly like Shadi had. But the Starly was motionless, only his chest moving up and down slowly, mirroring his irregular breathing.

    "Holy... oh my gosh," Barry whispered at her side, his lower lip trembling. "But... shouldn't he resist that attack? Energy Ball is grass type, right?"

    She didn't answer, not that she would've been able to. She could feel ice in her throat and a shiver in her spine as the realization came to her.

    She'd lost the fight.

    "Don't worry Niss, I'll avenge him!" Barry tried to reassure her, and immediatly turned towards the fight. "Razen, Aqua Jet again!"

    But Inyssa wasn't paying attention. With weakness weighing her down she slowly raised the hand with Steven's Pokeball in it and returned him to it. She stared directly at it, the sounds of the fight booming around her, and she couldn't help but feel a pint of irritation. No, she thought, Steven wasn't at fault for that, she was the one who had sent him to a losing battle. But then again, she had thought that type advantage would tip the scale in his favor, and she could have never imagined he would go down so easily against an attack he resisted. Shame crept up on her at the thought of how angry she felt, and she mentally cursed herself for it. She would not put the blame of her failures on anyone else, even if...

    She chased all thoughts away from inside her head and saved the Pokeball in her belt, turning towards the battle once more. To her surprise the Buizel was still holding his own against the powerful grass Pokemon, his quick feet being only barely enough for him to avoid most of his attacks.

    "Alright this isn't working, I think we need a change of strategy," Gardenia spoke to herself, a hand on her chin. "Use Grass Knot on him!"

    The Roserade put both hands against the sand. The ground shook, and all around the Buizel it broke apart, dozens of small vines slithering towards him. It was sudden enough to catch him off guard, and one of the vines grabbed him by the ankle, grounding him. Three others soon followed, spiraling around his torso and his other leg, inmovilizing him completely. Without needing orders the Roserade aimed his free hand towards Razen and shot another Energy Ball. The attack flew at him like a cannonball.

    "Razen, Sonic Boom on the vines!" Barry screamed, rushing his words.

    The Buizel allowed himself a coy smile as he spun, his two tails glistening with power and cutting all the vines binding him. With only moments to spare he inhaled deeply, shooting a torrent of water into the ground, propelling himself high enough to avoid the Energy Ball, which kept traveling forward and dissipated into the air.

    "That was so sick!" Barry jumped in place excitedly. "Aqua Jet one more time!"

    In mid air the Buizel set his eyes on his opponent, and with a powerful slap of his tails he boosted himself towards him, his body covering itself once more with water. The Roserade tried to side-step it but Razen had much more control over his trajectory thanks to gravity being on his side, and with a powerful impact he hit the grass Pokemon directly in the stomach, burying part of him in the sand. Inyssa feared he would get up any moment and destroy the Buizel, but Roserade's body stood still, now unconcious.

    A few seconds of silence passed, and then the sound of clapping filled the arena, the people in the stands cheering and yelling at Barry and his Pokemon for achieving victory. Gardenia contemplated the result for a moment, and after returning her last Pokemon to his ball she started walking towards them, a proud smile on her face.

    "I... I did it!" Barry yelled in a high pitched voice. "Niss! Niss did you see that? I won! I won with type disadvantage against Gardenia!"

    She forced herself to give Barry a smile which didn't extend to her eyes. She wanted to be happy for him, she wanted to go towards him and give him a hug, but her mind was elsewhere. The image of failure danced inside her head, becoming more prominent the more she tried not to think about it.

    "That was amazing," she said, voice plain. "Good job, Barry."

    A persistent clap approached them, and they both turned around to see Gardenia and Sarah near them, the first with a reddish face and breathing quickly, and the other one calm and reassuring, her expression that of pride.

    "I can't thank you kids enough for that." The Gym leader performed a short bow, only half sarcastically. "That was intense! It's been a long time since I got such a challenge from novice trainers. I can still feel my heart throbbing in my chest!" She put both hands on her face, eyes closed and a blush on her cheeks. Inyssa and Barry almost took a step back out of concern alone. Was she a different person from the Gardenia they'd met last night?

    "Yes... quite." Sarah coughed, slightly perplexed by her partner's behaviour. "A very impressive display, I have to say."

    Inyssa had to supress a laugh at the sight of that, and after giving Barry a side glance their eyes met, and she was pretty sure they had a brief mental conversation.

    She's hot, Barry's body language seemed to say.

    Hell yeah she is, Inyssa's eyes replied.

    Gardenia finally composed herself; slightly ashamed she approached both trainers, and with a flick of her wrist she took something from her poncho.

    "As proof of your mastery over this establishment, I hereby... uh..." She frowned. "Damn, I forgot the speech I was supposed to say. Anyway, here are your Forest Badges."

    She handed them both a small, metal emblem with the shape of three rhombuses stuck together, emerald stones filling the insides of them, making them look like trees. The badge sat on Inyssa's right hand, feeling a lot heavier than it was.

    "But I lost the battle," she couldn't help to say, a knot in her stomach. "Maybe I shouldn't..."

    "Don't be ridiculous!" Gardenia's yell made her jump in place. "A double battle is a pact between two trainers, and if one of them wins, then both of them do. You pulled your weight wonderfully at the start of the battle. Hell, your Kricketune took out three of my Pokemon!" she yelled with a decisive tone. "And while your Starly went down quickly, his Aerial Ace was still paramount to this victory."

    "Yeah Niss, come on! I couldn't have done it without you," Barry gave her back a pat strong enough to sting. "Also I'm now tied with you on points, so it wouldn't be benefitial for me if you fought her again and won."

    She adjusted her hat, slightly misplaced by Barry's enthusiastic pat, and tried to hide a smile. Her thoughts were still cloudy and dark, but she figured she'd have time to figure them out later. Now it was time to celebrate.

    "Thanks," she whispered, voice barely audible.

    Sarah put her hands together, smiling widely, "This definitely deserves a prize for both of you. I have a few hours free so we might as well take advantage of that. How does a meal on the Smokey Camerupt sound? We can order a nice barbeque, and if you get bored the Game Corner is only a block away."

    "Damn, that sounds good," Gardenia whispered, eyes going wide. "Mind if I join you later? After I get through my work shift of course."

    "Yeah! That sounds great mom!" Barry bumped her on the shoulder, laugh on his eyes. "Right Niss?"

    Inyssa closed her eyes for a moment, allowing herself a weak smile.

    "Yeah, that would be lovel..."

    The ground shook beneath her. Only a little bit, a simple burr which escalated from the sand beneath her to her feet, and then through her entire body. She froze for a second, mouth still open, and looked up to the people around her. Both Sarah and Gardenia blinked confusedly, and next to her Barry had stopped moving in place.

    "What was that?" Sarah spoke, her voice cracking slightly. "Did you feel..."

    She felt the explosion in her bones before she heard it. The resulting force of it caught her off guard, making her fall backwards towards the sand. She felt the vibrations in the floor beneath her hands and the powerful sound deafened her for a moment, throwing her mind into disarray. Screams rung around her as the kids in the Gym started to yell and the lights of the floor turned off, now only the sunlight above them lighting the place. A hand grabbed her by the shoulder and helped her up, her eyes still spinning. When she could see clearly once more Barry's face appeared in front of hers, his previous smile gone and replaced with an expression of fear.

    "What the ****!?" she heard Gardenia scream in front of her.

    "What was that?" Sarah's face appeared at her side, contorted into a mask of confusion and anxiety. "It felt like..." her voice slowly dissipated as she looked upwards, eyes opening as wide as they could."Oh no..."

    Inyssa followed her eyes, and she couldn't help but gasp at the sight. From the open roof of the arena she could see a dark pillar of smoke being carried by the wind, coming from the north of town. It looked eerily similar to the one she'd seen when she was flying towards Floaroma. A myriad of images and colors flashed in her eyes, from the pink of Metchi's hair to the cold red of Mars' eyes, back in the Windworks. The rational part of her mind told her there was no way it was happening again, they would not be stupid enough to attack Eterna City while both the Association's police and the Gym leader were nearby, it was probably just an unrelated incident.

    "Galactic..." The word came out of her mouth without her realizing it, disappearing into the commotion around her.

    Her body moved on its own and Inyssa ran towards the exit as fast as she could, her mind a hurricane of thoughts and Sarah's worried scream ringing in her ears.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  5. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    Oof. I'm really behind, aren't I? Sorry, with all the recent activity I guess I completely missed these last couple of updates! Anyway, I'm here now, let's get caught up. And it's straight back into trouble with these two idiot kids, huh. I was thinking that falling through a floor wouldn't be something that Barry could just shrug off. D: Like, the ceilings in houses like the Old Chateau are high, you know? Fortunately, it doesn't seem like there's any lasting damage there (or at least, it doesn't seem that way yet); I guess Barry's still young and bouncy.

    And another plate, so soon! I guess I kinda should've expected that, given that that's where the Draco Plate is in-game, and you've stuck very closely to the game so far, but somehow I wasn't.

    Another thing that's kind of surprising: the way that it's Barry who's collecting these plates and potentially become infused with their mysterious powers, rather than Niss. That's interesting to me; I'm always fascinated when our main protagonist is a sidekick rather than the hero, and there's potential for Niss to slide into that role, I think. Or not. It's still a little unclear to me quite what this is building up to, but I'm enjoying the build-up all the same.

    More generally, the developing relationship between her and Barry is great, too; all those little touches, like the shared oh crap she's hot moment when they're looking at Gardenia exhilarating in the battle, or their realisation that they're basically just out-stupiding each other, add up really nicely. You do a great job of filling your reader half with parental disapproval and half with, like, parental pride.

    I like the scene with Sarah, too – this is exactly the kind of thing that should come with some kind of parental reaction, especially given that it's a great big deal that probably made the news and also that Sarah is the kind of person who would absolutely find out about this stuff and come investigating. There are two things about it that strike me as sort of odd, though: one, they never explain the Old Chateau thing, which, since she's already figured out it has to do with them, I would have thought she'd have pressed harder on; two, the letter from Inyssa's mother (unless I'm missing something) just kinda vanishes after that. Even if she's choosing to forget about it and not read it, I feel like a line or two saying that she can't face opening it right now wouldn't go amiss, just to show that the story hasn't forgotten about it completely.

    I also like the double battle. A good fic battle focuses on the pokémon as living, moving creatures in a way that the games can't represent, and that really happens here! There's a lot of teamwork and combination attacks, and all that good stuff that a double battle gives you licence to explore. It's fun, too, to see a gym leader who's really into it in a way that Roark wasn't, and is actually trying to put on a good show for both the challengers and the spectators, and to push her challengers right to the limits of their ability. Excellent stuff.

    And then … well, then Inyssa just runs off straight back into trouble. It hasn't even been twenty-four hours since someone last tried to kill her, and she's got an Association cop and a gym leader to turn to, but she still just sprints directly in the direction most likely to result in her death. That's so her.

    Okay, as usual, a few notes I made as I read through:

    Missing a C in 'succinctly'.

    That looks like a typo for 'utmost'.

    That should be 'its'.

    This comes up twice – later on, you say there's a 'pint of wetness' in Inyssa's eyes. I feel like you may be confusing this word with another; a pint is a measure of liquid, and it's a much bigger one than would fit in an eye. Not sure what word you might mean instead, though.

    Normally, this position is referred to as having your hands behind your back, rather than arms; that one might be a translation thing, I think.

    Not an error, but like, this was the point at which I fell in love with your Gardenia. Anyone who says my pal unironically is kind of awesome in my book, if in a really dorky way.

    That comma after 'voice' should be a full stop.

    This is a way of phrasing it that doesn't quite make grammatical sense for reasons that I find hard to articulate – I think it might be a word order issue? Something like 'I've been handed around like a ragdoll' would work. Sorry I can't be more specific! D:

    Two things here. One, this isn't quite grammatical; you could say 'freshly washed that morning of all the dirt and soot', or 'with all the dirt and soot etc. freshly washed off that morning'. Two, the past participle of 'cling' is 'clung', rather than 'clinged'; it's just one of those odd irregular verbs.

    Missing a full stop at the end here. Also, that should be 'We', rather than 'We've'.

    'Ya' doesn't need an apostrophe.

    There should be a comma here after 'job'.

    Not an error, but it's just occurred to me that Palmer's full name is Palmer Paladino, which, sheesh, his parents were a bit mean, huh?

    When titles are attached directly to names, like here, they're capitalised. So this would be 'Miss Gardenia'.

    'Disappeared' has one S and two Ps. This crops up a few times; ctrl+F should find them all.

    That should be 'onto' – you jump into things if you're going inside them, like if you're jumping into a hole, but onto things if you're landing on top of them, as on someone's back.

    Missing an 'on' between 'focus' and 'the'.

    'On top of' denotes something resting on something else – like a book on a shelf. Unless the stadium is really, really tall, I think what you want is 'above', which denotes anything that is generally upwards of another thing.

    That should be 'Kitsune's' here.

    'It's' should be capitalised here. Also, X-Scissor has a hyphen in it.

    A sneer is a facial expression; you can see it, but you can't hear it. Maybe you mean a harrumph or a hmph or something like that, which is a noise you might make while sneering?

    More preposition confusion here. 'Lodged' takes 'in', so you could say 'he lodged himself in his stomach', but I think maybe what you meant was more like 'he launched himself at his stomach'? In which case, yeah, 'at' is okay, as 'launch' takes 'at'.

    More irregular verbs! The past participle of 'creep' is 'crept'.

    'She' should be capitalised here.

    And it shouldn't be capitalised here.

    That should be a comma, rather than a full stop. Also wow, Gardenia, way to just invite yourself to this thing that didn't involve you.

    Again, 'she' shouldn't be capitalised here.

    'Eerily' has only one L in it.

    Yeah! A really fun couple of chapters. I liked these a lot!
     
  6. TheAlpar

    TheAlpar Journey Enthusiast

    To Cutlerine: Thank you so much once again for your amazing feedback!!!! I'm really glad you enjoy Niss and Barry's relationship, they are pretty much the focus of the fic and it makes me happy to see people having those feelings toward them. As for the letter Niss got, don't you worry, it'll come into play soon :D all your feedback was super nice <3 I'm glad you like Gardenia too, she's feisty. Also once again thank you for all the corrections, they are life savers.

    Now, on to the next chapter.

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

    Chapter 15: Galactic Trouble
    In the most remote, far back part of her mind Inyssa felt lucky that her legs started moving on their own. Her mind was currently struggling between a myriad of different emotions that would've frozen her if she were actually thinking about what her body was doing.

    Once again the pillar of smoke had gotten in her way, erasing all the warmth she'd been feeling back in the Gym. But now she knew what it meant, she knew what that augur that was attached to, the name which clung to her chest and burnt her from the inside. Galactic.

    Her vision was blurry, though she didn't know if it was due to the speed at which she was running towards that smoke or the strong, uniform beating of her heart. She closed her eyes for a second and saw her face, Mars' face, grinning at her the same way she'd done it back in the Windworks. Those cold red eyes and those thin lips that couldn't have created a warm smile if she were forced to. She felt that chill again, that debilitating, all consuming fear that Mars instilled in her that time. Like cold poison running through her veins, paralyzing her limbs and stealing her breath.

    But there was something else too. Pulsing, growing from her heart outwards, like an ember being fanned by a light breeze. It started to boil inside her, a white, furious flame which heated her entire body and burnt the fear away, chasing it to the back of her mind where it would not interfere with her current plan of action.

    She would find her, she decided, and she would break that stupid tiny nose of hers. Perhaps a few other things too, if the opportunity presented itself to her. The thought made her smile, or at the very least twitch the corner of her lips slightly upwards. She was going to make her feel the same thing she felt back then, she was going to...

    Her legs stopped, feet sliding on the floor beneath her and almost making her fall. Her body was jerked backwards, an iron grip grabbing her by the right arm and nearly dislocating her shoulder again. The air inside her lungs escaped as she came back to reality, and with a confused expression she turned around to see Sarah, face red and eyes spelling out a clear Don't even think about it.

    Behind her appeared Barry, hair ruffled and cheeks red. Inyssa opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. She felt a painful stab in her chest and she suddenly realized she needed to breathe. Closing her eyes she inhaled as quickly as possible, her legs burning and the beat of her heart resounding in her ears.

    Right, she thought to herself, I'm as fit as a Snorlax.

    "Let... me go," she said between gasps.

    "No. Absolutely not." Sarah squeezed her arm painfully. "You're both going back to the Pokemon Center while I take care of this."

    She looked at Barry, who was staring at both of them full of doubt, the fear of his mother slightly overpowering his desire to help her. She frowned at him.

    "It's... it's them. Team Galactic," she explained, voice slightly high pitched. "I have to go."

    "We don't know that," said Sarah. "And even if that were the case..."

    A beeping sound filled the air, coming from Sarah's wrist. Everyone's attention was drawn to the Pokétch as she lifted it up and answered the call.

    "Sarah, we need your assistance north of town!" It was a grumbled voice, panic clear in its tone. "There was an explosion in the Energy Research Lab, three blocks behind the Pokemon Center! We believe it might be Team Galactic's doing!"

    Sarah would've facepalmed if her hands weren't busy already.

    "Great timing, jackass," she whispered to herself before she put the Pokétch close to her mouth. "Sarah Paladino here! Transmitting on all Association frequencies; any agents in Eterna City must head directly to the building where the explosion took place. Don't do anything until I arrive, I'm already on my way!"

    Inyssa stared daggers at Barry's mother, her expression a mix between See? I told you so and Can you just let me go already? There's a redhead who needs to be punched in the face, though it was unclear if Sarah picked up on the nuances of her gaze or not.

    "It's too dangerous," Sarah told her. "Let us take care of it; we'll apprehend them."

    "I know what they look like, I can identify one of their leaders!" she tried to explain. "And I can help with my Pokemon if they want to start a fight."

    "I'm not letting you go near terrorists Inyssa! How do you think I'd feel if something were to happen to you?" The woman put both hands on her shoulders, and she immediately recoiled. "Please, let this go. Don't go near these people, it won't accomplish anything."

    "They killed my Pokemon!" Her scream rang through the entire street, hurting her throat. "And you want me to just let it go!? **** that!"

    Silence fell on them as Inyssa and Sarah stared each other down, gazes firm and unwavering. She would never admit it, but she was struggling not to shake under the look on the woman's face. It continued for about five seconds before Barry spoke.

    "Okay, let's all calm down." He raised both hands and Inyssa almost laughed at the ridiculousness of him being the one to say that. Almost. "Mom, you had a lot of people here in town, right? There's no way they'll be a problem for you, so if we go with you it's gonna be safe for us!"

    "Even then..." Sarah barely got those words out before being interrupted.

    "Sarah, please!" Inyssa begged, all semblances of pride going out the window. "I... I have to go. I have to prove that I'm not scared of them. I have to..." She couldn't find the words, and for a moment she felt the fear come back. "I... I have to..."

    Sarah looked at her with a raised eyebrow, her lips a thin line.

    "You will both stay behind me. At all times." She pointed first at Barry, and then at her. She was talking slowly and clearly. "And you will obey every order I give you. If you don't then I swear to god I will rip your trainer cards in half myself. Understood?"

    They both nodded energetically.

    "Follow me."

    ------------------------------------
    The question in her mind just before they reached the building was How the hell do these two have so much stamina? Sarah and Barry ran through the streets like two Tauros, as fast and elegant as she was slow and awkward. By the time they arrived at the crime scene she could feel her heart beating like a drum inside her chest, while the two Paladinos hadn't even broken a sweat.

    The laboratory was half a street wide and two stories tall, being mostly glass and a few foundations of stone and steel. On top of the roof was a giant, square sign with the strange logo of the Energy Research Lab; a yellow, angular G with black borders. It would've been a cool building were it not for the giant, smoking hole in the middle of it.

    Where the door should've been now lay only a freshly created entrance thanks to the previous explosion. Bricks and pieces of glass adorned the front of it and it was impossible to see inside due to the slowly dissipating smoke coming out of it. Sarah took a single glance at the place, and immediately went towards the side of the lab, where six people were waiting. They were all dressed in similarly blue outfits with thick clothing and even a bulletproof vest around them. Sarah addressed the one who was closest to her, a short man with black hair.

    "Where is everyone else?" she asked, hands behind her back.

    "They're on their way, miss!" The man gave her a salute, tone nervous. "But they will not arrive for at least fifteen minutes."

    "We don't have time to wait for them," she said. "We'll have to go inside with the people we have now. These two..." She pointed at Inyssa and Barry. "...will follow behind us and help if needed. Our numbers should be enough to find and apprehend any culprits without trouble.

    "Two of you will stay out here to make sure no one exits or enters the place," she continued, and then looked at two of the armed people in front of her. One of them was a tall, fit man with brown hair and a shadow of a beard, while the other one was a short, dark haired girl with a big frown on her face. "Kyle, Zofia, that's you. Everyone else will follow me inside."

    "Yes sir!" Kyle yelled, a speck of sarcasm in his voice.

    "Fine by me." Zofia whispered under her breath, crossing her arms.

    "Alright, we're moving in." Sarah turned towards the ruined building, and indescribable look on her face. "Let's go!"

    ------------------------------------
    Inyssa had to cover her mouth as they passed through the wall of smoke at the building's entrance, the smell of soot and ash and whatever chemical engineers used to keep bricks together making her nose itch. Barry followed at her right, his fingers tapping the side of his pants quickly as if the boy needed to expel his energy some way. In front of her all she could see was Sarah and her four companions as they slowly walked forward, their hands firmly grasping some heavy looking black pistols.

    Her heart made a jump when she felt everyone in front of her stopping, their steps coming to a sudden but unanimous halt. She waited for a few seconds until finally Sarah spoke, her voice tinted with confusion.

    "What is this?" she whispered.

    She had to force her vision between two people to see what was the problem, Barry resting his hands on top of her shoulders, trying to do the same. The room they walked into seemed like a normal office lobby, various sofas and chairs at the side walls, a small but elegant fountain in the middle and the receptionist's table at the other end of it. It looked awfully familiar to the Windworks, Inyssa thought, and she tried not to let that fact fill her mind with fear again. Her eyes kept exploring the room, until she finally found what had surprised everyone. Near the elevators and the staircases leading to the different rooms were three bodies laying on the floor, completely immobile.

    They were Galactic grunts. There was no question about it, they were all wearing that same stupid body suit which made them look like rejected space men.

    Barry let out a breathy Huh?. "Wait, why are they on the floor? Weren't they the ones who made that explosion?"

    "I wonder..." Sarah whispered. "All the debris and glass seems to be on the inside of the building, which would indicate that the explosion came from the outside. Perhaps someone trying to forcefully enter..."

    Inyssa stared at the place, her mind working overtime trying to think of the possibilities. If Team Galactic was already inside before the explosion happened, then who caused it?

    "I don't understand… where are all the scientists?" Sarah asked herself, her brow furrowed. "The trail of bodies seems to go down." She pointed towards the staircase at the other extreme of the room, which led to what Inyssa imagined would be the basement. "We'll explore there first. Everyone stay close to each other!"

    She felt everyone's stomps inside her head as they advanced, a nervous feeling growing in her chest and making her hands tremble. She was not alone, she had to remind herself. There were five trained professionals in front of her, not to mention Barry at her side, his bright almond eyes giving her the strength she needed. She had no reason to be scared; even if Mars was somewhere around, not even she would have a chance to hurt her again. She felt a shiver in her stomach, in the exact place Mars had buried her fist in that time, but she forced herself to ignore it.

    The steps were made of pure stone, and the railways at the side felt cold and painful to the touch. She started biting her lip as they went down, feeling them dry, and she really wished the beating of her heart would stop being so honest about how she felt. Didn't it know she had a reputation to uphold?

    "I hear something," Sarah whispered, although it was enough to almost make Inyssa jump. "Someone's talking down there. Quick."

    The end of the staircase opened up to a narrow hallway heading to another huge room, so they all had to squeeze through to pass, the bodies of the people in front of her completely blocking her vision. She could see both sides of the door laying on the floor, their metal frames bent into strange shapes as if someone had bent them with their own hands.

    Sarah was right, but only partly. What they thought were whispers slowly started to sound like whimpers and moans as they approached the giant room, Inyssa's teeth shaking from the sound. When they finally crossed to the other side, she almost couldn't believe what she saw.

    The room was enormous, easily the size of a small cathedral. Concrete and metal covered the walls and ceiling, and the look of it told Inyssa that the place wasn't meant to be seen by people not working there. A couple feet from them the floor turned into a wide metal bridge, under which lay a jungle of wires and cables running towards the gigantic machine at the other side of the room. From afar she could clearly see it, standing at least ten feet tall and glowing with a strange white light. Two people were standing close to it, their shapes that of a young woman and an old man, and next to them was a large Pokemon that she couldn't see quite clearly. But that wasn't what caught her attention. In the middle of the bridge, hands on the floor and slightly panting, was another person. A familiar girl, tall and with pink hair falling to her shoulders. Inyssa's heart made a slight jump at the sight of her.

    "Metchi!?" her voice betrayed her, making everyone on the room turn towards them.

    "Whoa! What is she doing here!?" Barry's voice followed, having to almost jump on top of one of Sarah's coworkers to see her properly.

    The girl slowly turned her head towards them, and Inyssa would've laughed at her horrified expression if she weren't on the floor and bleeding.

    She let out a chuckle that sounded like a sob. "Oh great, it's you two."

    With one hand she helped herself to her feet, the other one holding her own stomach, where blood was slowly running through her fingers. The cloth around it was stained in red, and from the looks of it the wound seemed somewhat serious. Behind her laid the unconscious body of a Scyther, the blade on its left arm stained with the girl's blood.

    Looking up her eyes set on the three figures next to the strange machine, two of which were facing their way. One of them was a woman, tall and slim, wearing the same body suit Mars had when she encountered her, minus the short skirt. Her hair was dark purple, long and being held by two crescent shaped buns, and her lips were painted maroon. Her hands were set on her wide hips, quickly tapping her fingers on them, and her expression was that of someone dealing with a slight, annoying inconvenience. Behind her stood a short man with a hunchback and grey, colorless hair who was currently typing something on the keyboard at the base of the machine, and to his right there was that Pokemon that she could now identify as an Alakazam. His slim arms were extended forward towards them, two giant spoons on his hands and his eyes glowing blue.

    Barry didn't waste a second. He broke formation and ran toward Metchi, kneeling next to her.

    "What happened to you?" he asked, his hands moving around as if he didn't know what to do. "Are you okay? Wow that's a lot of blood."

    "Smooth," Inyssa followed him with caution, her eyes still set on the Galactic people in front of them.

    Sarah let out an annoyed sigh, and with a flick of her hand she ordered her agents to keep their eyes on the targets, ready to fire. She walked towards Metchi and the kids, her gaze cold and calculating.

    "Do you two know this girl?" she asked, as if she expected the entire room to listen to her. "Who are you? What happened here?"

    Metchi stood still, head tilted to the side and expression unreadable. She heard everyone's questions slowly, and after a few seconds finally opened her mouth.

    "I need a ****ing smoke," she whispered, eyes almost closed.

    The strange woman at the other side of the room stomped her foot on the ground, cheeks turning red.

    "Yeah Metchi, why don't you tell them everything you filthy narc!" Her voice wavered between volumes as if she were slightly drunk. "Are these your new friends you betrayed us for!?"

    Metchi simply gave the woman a look Inyssa wouldn't have liked to be on the other part of.

    "I hate you," she stated plainly, "I hate you so much."

    Sarah raised her hand with an open palm, and suddenly all her agents drew their guns and pointed them at the purple haired woman. Her eyes were tired and cold and Inyssa could see she was not joking around.

    "I assume you two belong to Team Galactic..." she said, hand still raised, "I will need you to come here with your hands behind your head. You are charged with acts of terrorism, theft and murder, and you will be judged by the Sinnoh League Association. Give up willingly or we will be forced to make you."

    "Are you... serious?" Metchi helped herself up with Barry's aid, and Inyssa couldn't tell if she was angry or just in a lot of pain. "Just shoot them! You have them right here!"

    "That is not how it works." Sarah spat back at her, surprised by the girl's nerve. "I can't use lethal force unless certain conditions..."

    "They're going to get away!" she bellowed, desperation clear in her eyes. "Jupiter's just buying time until they can teleport out of here, and if Charon gets all that energy they're..."

    "Stop spilling out our plans you piece of ****!" The woman Inyssa assumed was Jupiter screamed. "See? It's exactly that kind of attitude that earned you being slashed in the stomach!"

    "Okay, that's enough, I'm done with this." Sarah took a step forward, and extended her hand towards the two strangers. "Bring those two to me!"

    The four agents in front of Inyssa advanced towards them with swift steps, weapons at the side of their bodies even though their postures told her that they were ready to shoot at a moment's notice. She barely had time to think about the possibility of releasing one of her Pokemon to help when a purple flash filled the room. The first person to get to the other side of the bridge stopped to a halt, his body being momentarily paralyzed as he flew backwards through the room, landing a few feet back. Another one soon followed, and the other two agents simply stopped, fearful.

    "There's... a barrier there," Metchi had to put her right arm around Barry's neck as to not fall again, while her left was covering her abdomen. The boy was struggling with trying to keep her on her feet. "The Alakazam put it... just before you arrived."

    "And you couldn't have told us before because..." Sarah frowned, the veins in her neck now slightly visible.

    "Hey leave me alone, I'm bleeding out over here," Metchi complained, hand still covered in red. "Besides, I told you idiots to shoot them didn't I?"

    "I already told you!" Sarah lowered her gun, face turning red. "I can't shoot at civilians unless..."

    "Fine! You want a ****ing incentive!?" She leaned so strongly on Barry that the boy's face started to get pale. "Then look at what's behind the damn machine!"

    Everyone's heads turned towards the Galactic commanders, silence forcing its way into the room for a few seconds. Jupiter froze at everyone's gaze, a drop of sweat running down her forehead.

    "Ah, ****," she whispered.

    Inyssa set foot on the metal bridge, trying to get a better look at it. It was hard to make out, due to the machine's impressive frame and the light it was emitting covering most of what was behind it. But it almost looked like... grates? Metal grilles covered the opposite wall entirely, and for a moment she thought it might have been used to cool down the machine, but the bars seemed to be... shaking. She forced her vision, furrowing her brow a bit to make up what was behind them. Tiny shapes, all of different colors. They were moving, squirming and...

    Her shoulders dropped as she realized what was behind those bars. She could see a tiny, furry arm hopelessly attempting to escape with almost vacant strength.

    "Oh my goodness." Sarah's tone gave her chills, a mix of shock, disbelief and a terrible, cold rage.

    "Are those Pokemon!?" Barry yelled at the top of his lungs, eyes opened wide. He almost dropped Metchi to the ground.

    Inyssa could only nod, any other form of communication being impossible for her at the moment. She could make up the appearances of many different Pokemon behind those cages, and with every one she identified the flame in her stomach grew, swallowing her whole. A Clefairy was holding tight to the metal trapping her, meekly attempting to shake it open; a pale Growlithe lay on his stomach, his weeping cries turning her veins to ice. Gloom, Vulpix, Pikachu and even a couple Eevee all adorned the back of the machine like a twisted painting, it's canvas that of the sinister machine which was glowing menacingly. Strange cables were attached to different parts of the Pokemon's bodies.

    Just when anger was about to take her over and force her to say some less than flattering things to Jupiter, all the Pokemon in the cages started glowing. Their forms surrounded themselves with a blinding white light as their bodies started to expand slowly. Inyssa couldn't help but form a minuscule smile at the sight of that. They were evolving, they were going to escape and...

    An electric buzz resounded through the room and the Pokemon started screaming. A debilitating, screeching sound which froze her body and bounced inside her head, forcing her to block her ears with her hands. The powerful glow dissipated slowly as the Pokemon turned back to their original forms, collapsing onto the floor of their cages once more, their breathing ragged and their bodies shaking.

    "Well... this is certainly awkward..." Jupiter scratched her cheek. "Uh... Charon? How long until we can get out of here?"

    The old man behind her stopped operating the machine for a moment, and with a side glance he gave the woman an irritated look, his thick half moon glasses covering part of his eyes.

    "A couple more minutes," he stated, voice low and raspy. "Stop interrupting me, this is extremely delicate equipment!"

    What took Inyssa out of her stupor was a slight movement at the side of her hip. One of her Pokeballs attached to her belt shook strongly, as if what was inside were attempting to escape. A simple glance told her that said Pokeball belonged to that strange ghost Pokemon she'd caught recently. But she had no time to worry about that; without missing a beat she looked once more towards the Galactic commanders.

    "What are you doing to them!?" The scream came out of her mouth without her realizing, her throat hurting from the effort.

    "They're... forcing them to evolve with evolutionary stones,. Metchi's voice carried a sort of sad acceptance, as if that answer didn't surprise her at all. "And they're stopping the process by hurting them. They want... the energy..."

    Inyssa's stomach revolted at the sound of that, her insides turning into mush and making her want to vomit. But in the back of her mind something came to light; a memory, something she'd heard from those Galactic idiots just when she had started her journey. Back in Jubilife, those documents that they'd tried to steal from Rowan, didn't they entail something about this? The energy that Pokemon released when they evolved... she started connecting the dots in her head, and the picture she created wasn't a very pretty one.

    "Disgusting..." Sarah's voice took her out of her thoughts, her tone that of disbelief. "Listen to me! Release those Pokemon immediately and give yourselves up! This is your last chance before I open fire!" She yelled with enough force to even startle Inyssa, although from Jupiter's expression she wasn't as intimidated as nervous.

    "Yeah! Let them go before we kick your butt!" Barry took a Pokeball from his pocket.

    Inyssa took a deep breath, trying to contain the fire inside her body. She was trying with all her might not to run directly towards that Jupiter woman and punch her in the face, which wouldn't have worked for a variety of reasons. She had to be pragmatic, she'd get her chance eventually. Her hands went to her oldest Pokeball and she held it in front of her, clenching her hand around it strongly.

    "Return those Pokemon to the people they belong to!" she yelled. "And also tell me where that ***** Mars is!"

    "Inyssa!" Sarah turned her head towards her, a horrified look on her face. "Language!"

    "What!?" She protested. "Am I being too rude to the terrorists!?"

    Jupiter tapped her fingers on her temple, biting her lip and switching her gaze between everyone in the room. She seemed more annoyed than scared, and the older guy behind her didn't even flinch at their words.

    "Look, we'll take this energy and after that we'll let these Pokemon go, if that makes you feel better." She spoke jovially, as if she were offering an amazing deal. "Oh, and as for Mars? I have no idea where she is, which I am grateful for. Trust me, if I knew I'd tell you immediately, that way either you or her would die and I'm honestly fine with both those options."

    Inyssa's jaw was completely clenched, her teeth hurting from the pressure. How could someone speak so casually about something so horrible? Those Pokemon... were they missing their trainers? Were their trainers even alive? She didn't doubt Team Galactic would be willing to kill someone to take their Pokemon, not after meeting their commanders. The thought almost made her choke from rage, and without hesitation she threw her Pokeball into the air, the light coming out of it quickly materializing into Enma. Barry quickly did the same and released Pedri from his, the penguin Pokemon appearing in front of him ready to fight. Enma shot her a glare full of disdain.

    "Look, I know you're an idiot and you're mad about not getting to fight the Gym Leader, but this is really not the time!" She pointed with one hand towards the machine. "I need you to help me with that!"

    Enma lazily turned his body until he could see what was behind those cages, and once he realized it his cocky smiled completely disappeared, being replaced with a mix of surprise and rage.

    "Exactly," she nodded, sharing her Pokemon's anger. "Use Ember on that barrier, we have to get to those two!"

    "Pedri, Bubble Beam!" Barry ordered next to her, Metchi's arm still around his shoulder.

    Both Pokemon attacked together, torrents of their own elements traveling through the air directly at the Alakazam. The impact shook the basement they were in and part of the barrier seemed to pale for a second, but it immediately returned to its full force. Inyssa frowned; they would need more power than that.

    Sarah's scream rung through the room, "Everyone, shoot at the same time!"

    The four agents nodded energetically, and with one smooth movement they followed their leader's example, now five guns aimed directly at the barrier separating them from the two Galactic commanders.

    "Keep attacking!" Inyssa and Barry ordered at the same time.

    Pedri and Enma shot once again walls of fire and water, converging together at their target's location. Around them five shots were heard, slightly hurting Inyssa's ears, but she didn't care. The immense power of their assault almost dissipated the barrier, but the Alakazam managed to keep it up. The psychic Pokemon's face was twisted into an expression of pain as he desperately tried to keep them out. Behind him she could see Jupiter's breathing become heavy, and her eyes widen.

    "Charon! I'm not ****ing joking!" Her voice was tinted with desperation as she put a hand on the old man's shoulder. "Just get the energy we have now and let's get out!"

    "Agh, insolent child!" She heard his raspy, nasal voice through the noise of the gunshots and Pokemon attacks. "We can't until the vessel is completely filled. I already told you, I only need one more minute!"

    "We might not have a minute you old ****!" she complained, both hands clenched into fists.

    Inyssa felt that strange shake in her belt once again, and when she looked down it was still that one Pokeball. Did that ghost Pokemon want to come out? She could certainly use the power, but she wasn't sure if he would obey her at all. What if he made everything worse? She looked again toward the barrier, where Alakazam was still holding his own against the barrage of attacks they were throwing at him. She didn't have a choice, if they didn't hurry those two would escape, and she wouldn't let that happen. With fierce determination she took the Pokeball from her belt and threw it into the air, only then realizing she hadn't given that thing a name.

    "Attack that Alakazam... uhh... Hao!" She would have time to regret that name later. "Use some... electric attack, I guess!"

    The ghost Pokemon's strange form appeared in mid air, crackles of electricity jutting out of his body. For the first time since they arrived the old man operating the machine stopped, his arms frozen for a moment as he heard that unique clicking sound. He turned around slowly, eyes wide, and when he set eyes on that thing Inyssa could swear he almost had a heart attack.

    "Rotom!?" His voice lost all semblance of calmness it previously held. "How... when did you...!?"

    She couldn't help but be confused at the man's words, and everyone else stopped for a moment too, their gazes switching between the ghost Pokemon and him. Hao simply opened his mouth, and from it came a horrible, daunting sound that one could hardly qualify as a roar. Pulses of electricity filled the room as the Pokemon yelled with all its might, forcing everyone to back away from it.

    "What the hell is that!?" Jupiter yelled, voice high pitched.

    "Curses! Jupiter, quickly, help me seal the vessel!" With a jerk of his body he turned around towards the machine once more, his arms shaking. "Darn brat, where did she find the… no, it doesn't matter. We must get all the energy cooled down before..."

    His words were interrupted by a loud crackling sound as the ghost Pokemon began buzzing, his body vibrating as the air around him turned into electricity. With another astounding roar he fired a bolt of lightning at the barrier, the light from the impact momentarily blinding Inyssa. With a deaf scream she covered her face with her palms, her eyes burning. By the time she was able to open them again her vision was slightly blurry, but even then she saw Hao wasn't there anymore. She turned her head around, everyone close to her still getting their bearings, and when she looked towards Jupiter she noticed the psychic barrier was still there.

    It happened gradually. First one of the cables under the bridge exploded, sending sparks everywhere and forcing Inyssa and Sarah to back up. Soon followed another and another until the floor under the metal bridge was sending electricity everywhere, making it impossible to pass through. Then the lights started flickering above, as if the power were about to go off. And then he appeared.

    The main screen at the front of the machine changed. From a myriad of numbers and grids which she couldn't possibly hope to understand it changed to a single, still image. The ghost Pokemon's eyes appeared on the other side of that screen, that piercing blue staring down everyone in the room. For a single, still moment the image didn't move, until Hao blinked, and a huge, white smile formed beneath his eyes.

    The screen exploded.

    "****!" Jupiter jumped back from the machine, glass falling around her. "What is that!? What's going on!?"

    A simple blip sound resonated through room as all the cages behind the machine opened up, releasing its prisoners. With desperation a wave of Pokemon started flowing from it, screeching and running towards the exit as they tried to avoid the electrified bridge. She saw a couple Eevee and a Pikachu run past her and toward the staircases.

    "No! Not now!" Charon's face was red, his lips trembling and his hands in his hair. "Jupiter, seal the vessel! We'll take what we can get!"

    "Uh... yeah, about that..." Jupiter's eyes were fixed in the machine. "The vessel is..."

    Inyssa's eyes set on the machine's core, that strange metallic ball which was glowing with a blinding white energy. She couldn't see what was different until she realized it was much brighter than before, to the point where she could barely see the people in front of it. She could feel it too, almost taste it. A powerful, oppressing force flowing from the machine towards her, its intensity growing with every second that passed.

    "Something is overflowing the vessel's capacity!" Jupiter rushed towards the machine's controls, desperately hitting the keys. "I can't shut it off! It's going to melt down!"

    "Take the core off! Quickly!" Charon tried to help his partner, but a jolt of electricity sent him backwards as soon as he approached the machine. "Agh! I can't get close to it, you have to retrieve the vessel before it's too late!"

    "I can't, all the controls are locked! That stupid Pokemon is inside the machine!" Jupiter lifted one of her legs and started kicking the panel in front of it. "Stop! Exploding! You! ****!"

    Inyssa couldn't move. She simply witnessed as those strange events happened in front of her, no idea how to react to them. Should she attack them? Help them? What did she mean the core was locked? She looked down at Enma, who was as dumbfounded as she was, and then to Barry and Metchi, the latter of which was barely conscious.

    "Charon, this thing is going to explode any second now!" Jupiter said, her voice filled with a grim realization. "We have to teleport away now!"

    "We can't! If we go back with our hands empty the boss will..."

    "I don't give a **** what he thinks!" yelled Jupiter. "I didn't bust my ass off getting two degrees on theoretical physics to die in a dump like this! Alakazam, teleport us to the base!"

    Inyssa's body reacted at the sight of Jupiter dragging Charon towards the psychic Pokemon, ready to escape. Her legs moved once again on their own, but this time she was stopped before her stupidity could take off. Sarah's hand gripped hers and stopped her on her tracks.

    "We have to clear this place!" She yelled, not only to her but to everyone else. "If that thing is really about to blow up..."

    "NO!" The scream made everyone jump, and made Inyssa momentarily forget about her rage. Metchi took a step forward, a strange strength imbuing her as her eyes were set on the Galactic commanders. "I'm not letting you go again!"

    "Wait you can't...!" Barry tried to grab her once again but the girl slapped his hand away, a terrifying expression on her face.

    "Don't touch me!" she yelled. "I'm not gonna wait here for those two to escape, not after what I went through to find them!"

    She ran forward, her feet moving swiftly considering the wound on her stomach. Inyssa wasn't sure if it was her imagination but she could swear there was some sort of golden glow surrounding her, and when she looked up at her eyes her heart froze. That gold, that exact same color she'd seen back then, and recently behind Barry's eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but before she had the chance Metchi threw herself forward.

    She wanted to scream at her, call her an idiot for heading toward an electrified path even though she'd tried the same only seconds ago. But to her amazement Metchi simply ran through the bridge, the electricity bouncing off her as if she were wearing a rubber suit. She reached Jupiter and Charon the moment they grabbed onto the Alakazam; they both put their hands on the Pokemon's shoulders, and a purple glow surrounded them as they started to dissipate. But the pink haired girl was determined, and her hand managed to grab on to his mustache just in time. All four of them vanished into thin air.

    She wanted to do something, but once again she felt Sarah's grip on her, the woman's face filled with worry. She looked up and witnessed as the core's light grew more and more powerful, until it was painful to look at it. Inyssa could feel disaster in it.

    "Everyone, run towards the exit!" Sarah commanded, her voice filled with desperation and her eyes set on her and Barry. "Quick, before...!"

    The entire world shook. Darkness swallowed everything.

    Inyssa's breath escaped her lungs, her body paralyzed and her limbs unable to move. It felt like a light vacuum, as if the opposite of thunder had struck the room. Time had stopped, she could not feel the beating of her heart or the sound of everyone in her ears. Only shadows covering her eyes, and death's hand closing around her neck.

    And then she heard it. The voice, shapeless, toneless, not a sound but simply words being implanted in her mind. She felt them clearly as crystal, her brain deciphering the soundless meaning behind it.

    Only this time. Try to stay out of trouble, will you, Niss?

    Her mind turned off, and her body fell into nothingness.

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

    When her consciousness came back it felt like she had woken up from the dead. Her muscles jolted into being awake, eyes opening quickly and lungs filling with air. Her body was cold, or at least half of it. More specifically the half that she now realized was laying on the cement floor under her. She moved her fingers first, making sure she was indeed alive, and a pint of joy sparked inside her as she felt the twitch of her muscles in her hand. Her back hurt a bit and the arm she was resting on was asleep, but other than that she felt fine. Definitely not burnt like she expected from that imminent explosion.

    Her eyes moved in the small cone in front of her. Her vision was blurry, but it was slowly focusing. A shape was in front of her, tall and imposing. Behind her she could hear the crackling of fire and smoke. Almost a minute passed before she could see clearly again.

    The shape had moved back, now barely at the edge of her vision. And yet she could make up her details clearly, not believing what she was currently seeing. The woman at the other side of the street was at least six feet tall, slim and graceful, wearing a black winter attire, a belt full of Pokeballs resting on her hips. Her gaze moved up slowly and she set her eyes on the woman's face, entranced by it. She was beautiful; even in her strange mental state that was the only word she could think to describe her. Her hair was long, reaching towards her knees and making it look like a coat of sunshine all over her. The gold of it covered part of her body and the entirety of her right eye, her left one staring directly at her, pale lips curved into a simple smile. Inyssa wanted to speak to her, reach her and meet her, but before she could say anything she felt a hand on her shoulder.

    "Hey kid! You awake?"

    Gardenia's voice shock her back into reality. She blinked slowly, and when she opened her eyes again the strange woman had disappeared. She felt her body being dragged upwards by the Gym Leader's arms, until she was now sitting on the floor, her head spinning.

    "Ugh... what... happened?"

    "No freaking clue. I came back from leading my students to safety and I find... well, this." Gardenia pointed with her head to her right.

    Inyssa followed her with her eyes, and what she saw at the other side of the street would have shocked her if she weren't so confused already. The building they were previously in had completely collapsed, now only a mountain of rubble and dust where before had stood such a proud place. She heard stomps coming toward her, Sarah and Barry walking their way, the boy having a huge smile on his face.

    "Niss, you're okay!" He got on his knees and put his hand around her, almost throwing her to the floor again.

    "H...hey Barry." She returned his hug, in no condition to be embarrassed at the moment. "And... Sarah. What happened?"

    "I'm... not sure." The woman's voice was pale and brittle. "We were there and then... we were not. We all woke up outside the building after that machine leveled the place."

    She could tell there was something more to it; Sarah's breathing was heavy and she noted that her hands were slightly shaking.

    "What else happened?" she asked, no time to be courteous.

    Sarah took her time to respond, and Inyssa could see both Barry and Gardenia bite their lips.

    "We were the only ones who were teleported out."

    She didn't understand what was wrong with that, that was a good thing, right? Sure, it was confusing but it was better than...

    She opened her eyes wide, realization coming to her.

    "What about those Galactic grunts? The ones who were there when we entered."

    "They... were there when it happened," Sarah looked down. "They're trying to uncover their bodies from the rubble now, but they only found two, and they were both..."

    Inyssa didn't need to hear the rest of it. Dead. That was the word Sarah tried to avoid, even though there was really no way around it. Death wasn't polite after all, it took and took and took without feeling an ounce of remorse.

    "Listen... Barry, Inyssa," Sarah whispered. "I talked with my superiors a few minutes ago. There's going to be a full force investigation around this town, they said they're even sending one of the Elite Four to help..."

    Inyssa couldn't help but gasp at the sound of that. A member of the Elite Four? Even after all the strange stuff that had happened, it still surprised her. One of the four strongest trainers in the region, bar the Champion of course, and all because of those clowns from Team Galactic.

    "If you don't want to be stuck here, I'd recommend you get all your belongings and move towards the next route as soon as possible. I'd love to have you around here, but as soon as the investigation starts the town will be locked down for at least two weeks."

    "We can't wait that long," Barry nodded, putting his hand on Inyssa's shoulders. "Um... Niss, you okay? Should we..."

    She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her mind was a mess, millions of thoughts flying around her head and making her dizzy. But there was no time for that right now.

    "Yeah, I'm fine," she helped herself to her feet with difficulty. "Where should we go next?"

    "Hearthome is the next city with a Gym Leader in it," Sarah explained. "There is no safer place for the both of you than that city. A very good friend of mine lives there; I'll make sure to tell her that you'll be coming."

    Inyssa nodded, trying to push her confusion and exhaustion to the back of her mind. "Sounds good."

    "I'll make sure you get all the equipment you need before you head out," Sarah showed them a tired smile. "You'll have to cross part of Mount Coronet, after all."

    Mount Coronet. The word formed an image in her mind, one that gave her vertigo just thinking about it. The tallest mountain in Sinnoh, dividing the entire region in half. She knew they wouldn't have to cross the thick of it, but it was still going to be a challenge.

    She guessed she would have a couple of intense days in front of her. Perfect for distracting her and not think about anything.

    "Awesome," she said, voice emotionless. "Let's get going then."
     
  7. Firaga Metagross

    Firaga Metagross Auferstanden Aus Ruinen

    Oh wow I've been really remiss about reviewing, but I'm glad you're still posting here!

    Chap. 14

    The double battle's a pretty cool change of pace as far as gym battles go. Seeing Barry and Inyessa team up for something was a treat. Inyssa moping after winning because she "lost" really seems like her.

    God they're such teenagers I love it

    Chap. 15

    This chapter is real heavy on the plot and intrigue and definitely held my attention the longest. As a nitpick, Sarah seems like perhaps too much of a pushover for someone who's ostensibly a professional with command of a small number of armed soldiers. I understand that Nissa and Barry need to be in the building for the plot, but honestly having them just sneak in or join separately somehow would work better.

    Jesus Christ

    Same, Inyssa, Same.
     
  8. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine a lonesome harp guitar

    This is an interesting one! I'm surprised Sarah caved and let them join her on the dangerous mission as easily as that; she seems much too aggressively sensible to do something like that. I guess she has a weakness for that particular kind of emotional appeal, and that Inyssa and Barry were able to work on that. Also surprised that she encourages them to leave town at the end of the chapter. Like, after all the trouble they've got themselves into, their repeated run-ins with Galactic, their constant getting into life-or-death situations, I'd kind of expect that she'd want to put her foot down and say nope, please don't go running off again. Presumably she really, really trusts in the friend she has in Hearthome.

    Anyway, obviously that rotom Inyssa caught comes in handy here, in a situation where there's both a big machine to play with and also Charon, who of course has history with rotom, if not necessarily with the Chateau rotom in particular. (I mean, I guess the fact that you only find one rotom in Sinnoh is supposed to imply that it is that rotom, as seems to be the case in this story, but like, correlation and causation and all that.)

    Something that did strike me as a bit odd was the fact that apparently none of the Association people had pokémon with them. Like it's something that strikes me as really useful in their line of work; enforcement and crisis response is definitely a career where it'd be helpful to have pokémon with you – particularly in situations like this, where their opponents have partners with superpowers and therefore a substantial advantage over people who only have conventional firearms. It's especially odd given that Inyssa and Barry end up taking the lead when it comes to breaking down the barrier.

    And a mysterious stranger with unusually long blonde hair that keeps getting in her face, huh. There's definitely at least one major Sinnoh character who fits that description – and who does indeed make an appearance in Eterna at this point in the story. Interesting stuff! I look forward to seeing how that develops. And the magic powers thing appears to be developing too, huh. The gold light is shared between Metchi and Barry. Looks like Niss is starting to put some things together!

    Finally, as usual, here are some typos and other nitpicks that I wrote down as I read through:

    'All-consuming' should be hyphenated, as it's being used to modify 'fear'.

    You could say it's a 'grumbling' voice, I guess, but not a 'grumbled' one. Also, 'grumbling' and 'panic' are kind of weird to use to describe the same voice – grumbling is a grouchy kind of thing, but a calm one, and not something that someone who's panicking can manage.

    That should be a comma, rather than a full stop.

    I think that might be intended as 'an', rather than 'and'.

    You don't need that second 'in', which is only making things awkward – 'bury' does often take 'in', but it doesn't have to. I think I can kind of partially see some kind of rule here that would tell you when to use 'in' and when not, but I'm not quite good enough at grammar to tell you how it works, sorry. D: All I can be sure of is that it's not needed here.

    'Them' is plural, but 'lip' is singular – they need to agree, so either Inyssa needs to bite her lips, or she needs to feel it dry. I think it'd be weird to feel a single lip dry, though, so maybe the first one is the better option.

    'Her' needs to be capitalised here, since it's not a dialogue attribution connected to “Metchi!?” Also, that should be in the room.

    That should be 'lay' – 'laid' is the intransitive version, that is to say, the form of the verb that you do to something. That's … not a very clear explanation, sorry, so here's a better example: the Scyther lay behind her (with 'lie' being an action that it performs), but Metchi laid it down there (with 'lie' being an action that she did to the Scyther).

    There should be a comma after 'up' here. Also, 'set' seems like an odd choice of word; I think it might work a bit better to say her eyes were caught by the three figures, or that they alighted on them, or something like that.

    I've not come across the phrase 'on the other part of' before; the phrase is usually 'on the receiving end of'.

    'Spilling out' seems to be a fusion of 'spilling' and 'spelling out' – one or the other of these would be fine, but this combination doesn't strike me as something someone would actually say. Also, 'the' shouldn't be capitalised, as the bit of narration here is a dialogue attribution.

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

    That should be a full stop and a closing quotation mark, rather than a comma and a full stop.

    'She' shouldn't be capitalised here.

    I think 'oppressive' would make more sense than 'oppressing' here – the former is the usual adjectival form of 'oppress', while 'oppressing' is mostly reserved for the verb form.

    Normally you say that you take a degree in something, rather than on it; I think Jupiter would probably be saying 'in' here.

    'Imminent' seems an odd choice of word – the explosion has already happened at this point in time, so maybe this is meant to show how Inyssa thought of the explosion just before it happened? I guess maybe that's it.

    Sometimes 'after all' has a comma before it and sometimes not – like, if something was thought to be one thing but turns out to be something else, it tends to not have one, but in sentences like this, where something previously known is being confirmed, it does have one. In this case, I think it should have one – and also that that comma after 'all' should be a semicolon, given that it joins two complete sentences.

    That comma should be a full stop.

    Anyway, things are definitely ramping up a bit, huh! Lots of stuff going on, and lots of threads starting to develop a bit further. I'll be looking forward to the next chapter!
     

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