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The Corei Quest...rewritten!

Which Corei Starter would you choose?

  • Mongle

    Votes: 10 33.3%
  • Fryger

    Votes: 10 33.3%
  • Aquari

    Votes: 10 33.3%

  • Total voters
    30
  • Poll closed .

MerlockVonBaron

Well-Known Member
what up, dawg? man, i know i havent been on in awhile, missed ya air dragon. Keep up the work and who is snowdrop?
 

EonMaster One

saeculum harmonia
Well, I've finally caught up and read all of the chapters rather thoroughly, and I believe that it is my duty as a fellow writer and as a friend to offer you a word of caution.

Your story is as well-written as ever, but I believe that the last couple of chapters - Chapter 29, in particular - are throwing up some serious red flags in the originality department. Simply put, Chapter 29 sounds like an amalgamation of about 4 or 5 different quality fanfics than I've either read or written in the last few years. With all of the originality you built from all this time of creating your own continent, characters, Pokemon, and even in some cases, languages, I would not only be disappointed, but I would be downright hurt if you somehow managed to blow it all in a matter of two chapters.

That said, it's very hard to do anything that hasn't been done before - but the luxury you get from doing that is that no one can really criticize its quality, as they have nothing to measure it against. On the flipside, if you're going to do something that's been done before, you'd better make sure that it's damn good. Especially in terms of a fanfic's plot. Frankly, this fic was interesting without the wrinkle of Team Shadow, and the one thing that Chapter 29 did do for me was offer some kind of explanation as to why Team Shadow (although I wish the name could have been a bit better) was around and bothering Sapph in the first place. Introducing this new, rather important, plot element (or Elemens, if you will...) answers several questions that have been around since the first part of the fic. In that sense it looks intentional. But I seriously recommend completely getting your head around the ideas of what you want to do with this major plot facet before you continue to write about it.

I'm speaking from experience here. If you read my old work on Revolution Johto (that is, chapters 25 and back), you'll quickly realize that AURA had a completely different identity back then than it did toward the more recent end of my writing career - that is, in the last two years or so. Therefore, I had to retcon a whole lot of stuff, and retconning's a ***** - especially when you have to write chapters and write scenes into your chapters that erase or arbitrarily change stuff that you want to alter from previous chapters. Don't put yourself in a position where you have to retcon a whole lot of stuff because that really sucks. Think your ideas through and at least get a skeleton of what you want to do with it. Trust me on this. It's the reason that Advent Phoenix has (IMHO) a better-organized storyline than Revolution: Johto did, and why Maverick Heart, while it will largely be in a looser format than the first two series, will be put together even better.

Invention before execution. Remember that. In terms of your grammar, all that kind of stuff - you're pretty much spot on. With as much as you proofread the ever-living **** outta some of the chapters I've been posting, I'd definitely call you on it if you didn't mind your "P"s and "Q"s. But always try to invent your ideas first. Think a couple of chapters in advance - that way, when you actually start writing, it only comes down to details, which makes for much better reading than just suddenly throwing in a plot twist in there. You look at that significant event that happened in Chapter 33 of AP - that's not something I decided to just throw in there. If you go back a couple of chapters...even toward the beginning of the entire fanfic...that was something that had been building up for a while and that I had planned to include for a long time. Since I planned it for so long, when I finally felt ready to write it down, it flowed a lot easier and looked a lot more intentional.

It seems like a lot of stuff, but let me try to make it a bit more condensed for you.

1: Using plot elements that you know have worked before isn't always the best thing for the originality factor of your story - but if you're going to do something that's already been done, make sure to do it better than everyone else that already did it.

2: Invention before execution. I can't stress this enough. When you start inserting new plot elements into the story, make sure they're well-thought-out so you don't have to come back and try to correct something you screwed up earlier. When you already have the idea in your head and you're just trying to figure out a way to make it sound good, that's when writing's fun. If it ever becomes a chore, it's when you have to take up chapter space to explain - or worse, to correct - something that happened several chapters ago.


Well, that's about all. It's a completely ungodly time of the night where I am right now - about four in the morning, to be exact - but I have nowhere to go tomorrow...er, later today. I hear those finals are really kicking your butt, so just hang tough.

- ;196; EM1
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Status report... and appreciation post

Hey! Time to follow a good friend's advice and let you guys know how my life's going, right?

First of all I'm alive, as the more perceptive of you have noticed, and chapter thirty has had 0% progress done on it...(shuffles away rapidly)

On a happier note, my last finals tomorrow, leaving me a nice, long break until my viva voce (where i have to defend my project work from the nasty lecturers) next tuesday, so i'll be giving it all i got before the defence rolls around.

@SamuraiDragon1: Glad you like this chapter! I reckoned the legend was a little sketchy (particularly in description) but glad you liked it all the same!

@DarkPersian 479: Well, Hiyori isn't much of a motherly figure. Sapph and Nora needed to know. And quickly (you saw how quickly she got snuffed afterwards, right?) And yeah, the Light are anti-pokemon. I display the side of humanity who are generally anti-pokemon as a whole or on religious grounds and don't like the lessons little kids learn from Ash Ketchum and co. in a much, much more violent manner.

As for Grandma Rose? It doesn't take a genius like Inspector Fulton to figure out what happened...

@Matt Silver: Oh, yeah... Sapph- Man to the rescues! (Old batman theme plays in the background) ok, stop that now, Anuvi!

Anuvi: Scrooge...

AD: And he wonders why he got coal in his stocking for the last two Christmases...

@MerlockVonBaron: Thanks, man! Your one-liners are a real inspiration!

Oh, and Snowdrop is Nora's Eevee. Yeah, if Eeveeness is asign of MAry-Sueness, everybody's a Sue/Stu in my fic.

@EonMaster One: Ah, I feel i should let the cat out of the bag now and say this has been a plot twist planned since the rewrite. Sapph and Travis will have a lot more things in common, but ol' Murphy's Law here won't be stealing any of your blue enero's thunder... i promise.

This paragraph is for those who think this story will take a nose dive for the supernatural:

The Elemens tweak will not be a major factor for the whole of Saga One and possibly for over half of the second saga. And Sapph won't go all out on his foes and blow them away with Gust. He'll be an ordinary eleven going on twelve year old kid who's life is only gonna get screwier...

Relax, even when he does release some Elemens-kick-*** action on his foes, it'll be in...

AD: CRIMSON!

Crimson: Scrooge...

So, scratch one more from Santa's list this year. In conclusion, I'd like to announce that my first one shot, Battle for Freedom, is ready and up on the boards! Please to be checking it out by following happy link below?

Link to 'Battle for Freedom'

L@er!
 
Last edited:

xXPorygonXx

Sort of active
Geez dude, you've got some pretty weird crap going on. Seems like everywhere they go now, Haley and Sapph get screwed (not literaly, of course ^_^).

Anyway, these Elemens, Shamans and Mages sound interesting. The concept of Sapph snd co. being in the middle-neither Light or Shadow- is also interesting.

Not mch else to say dude. Keep the work up!
 

Diddy

Renegade
Your story is as well-written as ever, but I believe that the last couple of chapters - Chapter 29, in particular - are throwing up some serious red flags in the originality department. Simply put, Chapter 29 sounds like an amalgamation of about 4 or 5 different quality fanfics than I've either read or written in the last few years. With all of the originality you built from all this time of creating your own continent, characters, Pokemon, and even in some cases, languages, I would not only be disappointed, but I would be downright hurt if you somehow managed to blow it all in a matter of two chapters.
It is completely possible that, whilst reading said 4 or 5 fics, AD subconsciously picked up the plot elements and when thinking of something to put in there, picked this out of his brain. Thinking it is entirely his own idea.

Derren Brown using techniques like these all the time to fool people into thinking he can actually read there minds. In fact during one theatre show he did, the whole performance was one big subliminal message into making any one random member of the audience to pick out a word in an article in a newspaper, which he had locked in a trunk since the start of the performance.

That said I belive some apologies are in order to AD for discontinuing the reading of his fic and whilst reading the one-shot I felt a duty to get caught back up. But then the forums crapped out on me and I had to let the modem rest for a while, countdown was on so it wasn't all bad.

Anyway, much reading is in order. Bye.
 

Araleon

Chill
Dude, that chapter rocked~! The Elemens thing sounds kinda cool, but I wanna know more about it. How many badges does he need to get now? I can't remember.

Araleon
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
TCQ ch 29! At last!

Yes, I'm finally done with this chapter! Before we get to why we're here today, I'd like to address the latest reviewers:

@xXPorygonXx:

The concept of Sapph and co. being in the middle-neither Light or Shadow- is also interesting.
You know what? I never even considered that scenario when i made the evil teams of Corei. It definitely gives you something to think about. And me more to write about.

@Diddy:

That said I believe some apologies are in order to AD for discontinuing the reading of his fic and whilst reading the one-shot I felt a duty to get caught back up. But then the forums crapped out on me and I had to let the modem rest for a while, countdown was on so it wasn't all bad.
No problem. I'm just glad you enjoyed it. Just relax and enjoy what you read. That's my motto.

@Araleon:

The Elemens thing sounds kinda cool, but I wanna know more about it. How many badges does he need to get now? I can't remember.
Thanks for the positive review! The Elemens things will predominantly be put on hold for a while, so you'll have to make do with the information available for you for now.

And come to think of it, it has been a while since ol' Sappy had a gym battle. That will be rectified next chapter, together with the answer to your question. Sorry, I'm not answering just yet cuz I'm evil like that.

This all said and done, it's time to get on with it and unleash the chapter. It's one of my shortest, but i decided that i have so much to write on in my next chapter, that it should make up for this one's length.

Yes i frown upon guns and schools, especially universities, and i sincerely apologize to those who are vehemently disgusted with the recent spree of gun violence in schools to pardon my possible opening of old wounds.

Let's go.

Chapter Twenty Nine: On Cloude Nine and a Half

OR

Sapphire and Haley Go to White Tower​

“So you two are headed for White Tower, hunh?” a large bus driver said in a nasal, bored-sounding voice. Her jaws methodically worked an hour-old wad of gum as she looked over the two preteens that had flagged down her bus about three hour distance’s drive away from Corei’s national university.

“That’s right,” Haley Kent affirmed, her goose grey eyes sparkling at the very thought as she jabbered away. “We’re just visiting, although I did graduate with a three-point-eight-seven GPA at Olville Academy.”

“That’s nice, dearie,” the woman said drily. “And what about you, Chinooka tanuka?” the large bus driver said, barely hiding a snicker behind the last three syllables as she looked over the young Water type trainer’s companion appraisingly.

Raising his head to look the surly woman in her piggy little eyes, Sapphire Manson said with a confused yet pained voice, “Wha- look, lady. I’m just passing through.” Jerking his head at Haley, who was bouncing on the balls of her feet eagerly as though she were a Spoink on high, he added, “She’s the one all eager to go, I’m just along for the ride.”

The woman gave him what Sapph thought was a sly look before stating in a knowing voice, “Ah, keepin’ yer lady happy, now are we? Well, get on ‘en,” she said, oblivious to Sapph’s stammers, “You’re letting the cold air in.”

“Yay!” Haley squealed, dashing in like a little girl. Sapph slapped his face with his palm and climbed in much more slowly, shaking his head.

Sapph and Haley’s travels away from the devastated Olde Teake City had taken them far north to the glacial belt of Corei and the next stop on their tour of the continent, White Tower University. Haley hadn’t been able to keep jabbering excitedly about the place and her dreams to attend once she turned eighteen and major in marine Pokémon ecology. Sapph was grateful at least for the fact that Haley wasn’t picking the usual fight with him, for once.

It left him free to think.

Sapph had been unusually thoughtful ever since they’d fled the scene of Frau Hiyori’s murder. As much as he disliked the woman for unloading the information she had on himself and Nora, he felt a twinge of shame for his inability to do anything, at his cowardice. Oblivious to the other passengers’ stares at his cloak, which had begun to drip on the floor of the bus, Sapph made his way to the window seat besides Haley and flopped down in exhaustion. It had been snowing heavily outside and coupled with his worries about Team Shadow, the Light and Nora leaving with Reg (whose story he couldn’t bring himself to accept), he was grateful for the warm interior of the bus.

“C’mon, Sapph! Lighten up!” Haley had a hard time controlling herself, Sapph reflected dully, sparing his friend a sideways glance as she continued to bounce ecstatically in her seat. “We’re going to White Tower!”

“Oh, joy!” Sapph said with fake enthusiasm, his face alight with a perky yet totally sarcastic look of pure delight.

“That’s the White Tower spirit!” Haley whooped energetically. “Go, Polaroos!”

Sapph groaned and stared pointedly out of the window and the fluttering snow whooshed past the window as they drove onwards.

***​

“Oh, wow, Sapph! That the famous White Tower Clock!” Haley beamed, staring up at the forty story alabaster clock tower which was shaped like an obelisk and for which the university was named.

“That’s cool,” Sapph said, the wintry wind ruffling his thick dark brown hair as he looked up at the black hands and numerals that were arranged in the form of a clock face near the apex, his long tan and green cloak drawn tightly around himself as he shuddered slightly in the cold. “Shall we go get a pizza or something?”

“Aww, c’mon, Sapph! Don’t tell me you’re not excited to be here!” Haley said, smiling what could possibly be the brightest smile he’d ever seen her procure.

Sapph gave it his hardest and actually managed to smile a small yet true smile in return. “Great, that sounds great. OK, then, look... I’ll go get the pizza then and you can stay here and turn into a popsicle, OK? I get to eat, and you can know exactly what time you die of overexposure.”

“Oh, all right,” Haley said in a slightly disgruntled voice, trudging up the narrow campus streets after the boy trainer.

Smiling slightly, he thought, So you can reason with Haley... who’d have thunk it?

Brightening up, she added in an animated voice, “And then we go and see the science faculty!”

Sapph groaned and slapped his face again.

After navigating the modern student residence facilities for twenty minutes, they made it to the White Tower Mall, a large, open air shopping strip which was filled with undergraduate students shopping, meeting appointments and deadlines (in the case of the older students) and generally hanging out. Sapph and Haley had found a nice pizza corner which was bustling with activity as students inside joked, laughed and enjoyed delicious pizza.

Sapph and Haley picked a table near the window and as Haley gushed over the official students who walked by and what a charge she was going to get from attending classes there Sapph engaged a teenage boy who seemed to be the sole waiter on duty.

“So what will it be, my man?” the boy said with what seemed to be a South Sea accent. His skin was dark and his dark green eyes sparkled beneath his curly, bobbed hair. He stood a lot taller than Sapph thought as he looked up into his friendly face, which he was glad looked friendly although a little tired, as the youth was very tall and lean with a generous amount of muscle.

“Uhh, can we have the Salami Slammer, please? Uh... and three fizzy Pecha drinks,” Sapph said cheerfully.

“Thank heavens you wanted the salami,” the boy said relieved. “We ran outta Flaming Torchic Special, and me poor ol’ Combusken was gettin’ edgy. The boss was givin’ ‘im some scary looks. ‘Ang on, a’ight?” The young man said, walking back into the kitchen to get their order.

Haley turned to Sapph and said in a bubbly voice, positively writhing with excitement, “Do you know we’re sitting in the very pizzeria where they conceived the Students’ Representative Council exactly two hundred and thirty nine ago, on this very day?”

“Y’know what, Haley? I did not know that!” Sapph said in a sarcastic voice. “Oh, here’s the pizza!” Sapph said as the black boy returned with a large platter measuring twenty inches across with three chilled bottles of fizzy Pecha.

“’Ere ya go! Enjoy!” the boy said, setting the pizza down between them. Hesitating just before doing the same with the drinks, he asked, “So, who’s the third bottle for?”

“You,” Sapph said, cheerfully, shifting slightly on the seat to make room. “Care to join us for a slice?”

“Gee, thanks, mate!” the boy said cheerfully, sitting down and helping himself.

“So, erm... you’re a trainer?” Sapph asked, giving the boy a quizzical look that seemed to be inquiring a name.

“Oh, me name? It’s T.J.,” the boy said brightly, looking happy. “Y’know you’re the first customer to ask me me name since I started work here? Right nice of ya.”

“Really? How long has that been?” Sapph said as Haley continued to stare at the students outside the window with what seemed like an aching passion to wear one of their university jackets.

“’Bout a week,” T.J. said airily, scooping as much cheese as he could onto his slice. “Where you two from? You look kinda young to be faculty.”

“Well, I’m from Cherrygrove Town, Johto and she’s from Olville Town,” Sapph said, creasing his slice down the middle to make room for it in his mouth. “You?”

“Pacifidlog Town, Hoenn. I’m a Fighting type enthusiast,” T.J. said cordially, taking a swig of juice. “Swam from home to Slateport and hoofed it ta Littleroot to pick my starter six years back. I’ve been all over the world... Hoenn, Sinnoh, Kanto... Johto’s next on my list... Cherrygrove has some gnarly beaches. Great for training.”

“You’ve been to Hoenn?” Sapph said excitedly. “How long ago?”

“Ah... four and a half years ago, I reckon,” T.J. said thoughtfully. “Yeah, I was thirteen and a half back then...”

“So you’re eighteen?!” Sapph said, stunned.

“Yeah, well, not until the twenty-ninth of the month,” T.J. said cheerfully. “I’ve been ta all the fighting type gyms in the world, learning from true Fighting type masters... I mean, Master Brawly was really demanding. Master Maylene was downright impossible. Word of advice... don’t ever compliment her looks. Gets her upset for some reason. Talk about a chick that’s seriously lacking self-esteem.”

“Such a thing exists?” Sapph said incredulously, throwing a sideways glance at Haley, who had thoroughly ignored the pizza and the boys’ discussion.

T.J. laughed and said, “Ah, don’t worry. I’m sure Red over there likes you... somewhere deep down...”

Sapph choked and spluttered, “Wha- y-y-you mean Haley?! No. No, no. No, no, no, no. No, I’m not seeing Haley, we were just roped together to journey together by our moms. There’s so nothing there.”

“So, there’s something somewhere with someone, is there?” T.J. said with a sly laugh, causing Sapph to go Spelon-red.

“Uhm... uh...” Sapph said in a faint mumble before a loud voice blared over the jukebox. “Oi, T.J.! Do I pay you for eating with the customers, or to serve them? Get back here!”

Sapph looked up startled to see a man with a well-defined belly and a greasy air to him. What was left of his slicked back hair was ted back in a little ponytail and the man’s whole countenance, from his grimy white T-shirt down to his dirty sneakers, smelled of wood smoke. He wore a clean apron which had the words ‘Giorgio’s Pizzeria – The Finest in White Tower’ printed on it in red and green letters and a name tag that told Sapph that he was looking at the owner of the establishment.

“My slave driver,” T.J. explained apologetically, as he rose to go. “Take my advice: get your money ready. Ol’ Giorgio got me here working off a week load of pizza debt.”

“Thanks, T.J.,” Sapph said appreciatively, reaching into his backpack for his wallet. Groping around for a few minutes, his relaxed look was suddenly overtaken by a molten rush of blind panic. “Haley, my wallet’s gone!” He gasped, as T.J. did a fearful double-take at the mention of the words ‘wallet‘ and ‘gone’.

“Oh, right. I forgot to tell you I took it for safe keeping,” Haley said nonchalantly, reaching into her satchel. “Judging by your lucky streak, I felt it was safe to- to... ohh, no. No. No, nononono... NO! It is gone! So’s my purse!”

Sapph and T.J. stared at Haley in indignation and horror respectively as Haley riffled through her belongings frantically. Staring at each other, T.J. mouthed the word, “Run!”

***​

Two men in pure white robes lurked in a shadowy warehouse near the Theology Department of the campus. Their robes which had hoods pulled up were long and trailed on the floor as they stood stock still, almost as though expecting some one important.

The large door to the store house opened and two more people walked in, their robed heads bowed down against the vicious wind. The first pair went respectfully on one knee in unison as a large brown envelope was dropped at their feet.

“You have your orders,” one of the shadows said enigmatically.

“May the Light prevail over the shadows,” the second said in a misty female voice as they made their exit.

The two men bowed their heads slightly and murmured, “Light shall prevail over the shadows,” as the doors slid shut with a bang, enveloping them in silence once more.

Rising to their feet, one of them with raven dark hair scooped up the envelope and slit it open.

“So,” his companion said with a hint of pleasure not unlike a child about to open a Christmas gift he’d been dying to have all year. “Who are we to ice?”

“Very funny,” the other man said in a snide, exasperated voice. “Let’s see... Professor Robert Neuwmann Cumulos, head of the Pokémon Meteorolgy Department. What a sad fool...”

“Well, let’s go get him,” the second man said with a grunt as he opened the heavy doors and allowed a brisk icy draft to enter the secluded store.

“Wait. Did you pack the silencer?” the first man asked sharply.

“Uh... yeah, of course I did!” the man’s companion said back heartily with only an edge of uneasiness in his voice.

“Good,” the first man said calmly, walking past his partner and out into the street towards their destination. “I would be extremely vexed if you didn’t. And I tend to kill those who vex me... on the spot.”

The second man gulped and slid the door shut behind them as they walked up the street and vanished into the swirling snow.

***​

“So! Thought you’d skip out of paying me, did you?” Giorgio sneered as he hung up Sapph and Haley’s Pokéballs on his kitchen wall next to four Sapph could only assume belonged to T.J. Turning to face his newest ‘employees’, his stubby face split with an evil leer. “So, Boy! You’re in charge of deliveries! You’re gonna haul butt like there’s no tomorrow to get those deliveries done on time.”

Sapph closed his eyes to avoid the flecks of spit flying all over the place doing damage to his sapphire blue irises. He wore a grubby old jacket with the words ‘Giorgio’s Pizzeria’ on the back.

“And the little lady here will be waitin’ on the tables!” Giorgio informed Haley, a smirk on his face as Haley tugged at her dirty waitress’s apron in distaste.

“You ate one pizza and drank one fizzy each,” Giorgio said importantly. “That should be a day’s work from the two of you. T.J., for the fizzy you drank, you stay on an additional three hours.”

“B-but...” Haley spluttered, appalled. “I didn’t eat...”

“QUIET!” Giorgio roared. “Now we have new, hungry customers out there. So go wait on them! And no tips!” he added as he thrust Haley into the front of the restaurant.

“Hey, T.J.! Come on, back to the oven!” Giorgio snapped. T.J. winked at Sapph and with a slight smile returned to work.

Just then the old phone that hung on the wall near the service hatch rang. Giorgio leaned over heavily and picked up the receiver, leaving Sapph to fume at the predicament Haley had stuck them in.

“Hey, shoreh! Got a delivery order! Two Salami Slammers to Whisker Hall, four-oh-nine! Go, go, go!” Giorgio snapped, thrusting two wide, flat boxes into Sapph’s arms and pushing him out the back door and into the biting cold. “An’ no...”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it!” Sapph snapped irritated, sprinting off to find Whisker Hall as quickly as possible, fishing his roller blades out of his bag as he ran. “No tips!”

***​

“And this is how the barometric differences affect the rainfall distribution of central Hoenn. Are there any questions?” A thin, redheaded man in a white lab coat addressed his class, who sat on twenty stools behind lab work benches, taking notes.

Letting loose a variety of dissent noises, the class began to pack away their books and shoulder their bags, the lesson having reached its end.

“And don’t forget,” the professor raised his voice to be heard over the babble of cheerful young adult voices. “I’d like your essays on the behaviour patterns of Castform found along isotherm regions by next Monday!”

Exhaling softly, the professor gathered his books and walked into the laboratory prep room through a door on which a small nameplate read ‘Professor Cumulos, Pokémon Meteorology’, where a large cage stood against the wall just below the ventilation shaft. Several piping voices sang out shrilly upon his entry into the room. The lecturer smiled as his laid his books on his desk and proceeded to fill their owners’ feeding trough with organic Pokémon food. The flock of grey weather-influenced Normal types congregated on the food and began eating with gusto, save for one. This Castform, other than being smaller than the others, had an extra ‘bang’ emerging from in between his beady black eyes and a growth of what looked like a premature goatee under his mouth.

“Come on, buddy! Go get some food,” Professor Cumulos egged the Pokémon on, attempting to coax the Castform with a morsel.

The Castform opened one eye disinterestedly and said in a mellow voice, <No thanks, man. I’m cool.>

“Aww, c’mon, Castform! It’s yummy!” The professor cooed in a voice only a newborn baby wouldn’t consider annoying.

<Yummy, yummy, yummy!> the other Castform echoed happily.

The Castform rolled his eyes and went back to his nap, muttering darkly about the falsehood under which the commercial society packaged its factory-manufactured lies.

Scratching the back of his head in exasperation, Prof. Cumulos sighed and said, “So... pizza?”

The wiry man moved towards a videophone on the wall near his desk and began to dial the pizzeria all his students made a huge fuss over. A man who seemed to be in a harried mood answered on the second ring.

Giorgio’s Pizzeria,” the man said in a businesslike voice fraught with exhaustion. “What’ll it be, sir?

“Erm, yes,” Prof. Cumulos said in an uncertain voice. The man was clearly new at ordering food on the phone especially since his wife would clobber him if he dared do it at home. “One small vegetarian pizza and one medium salami, please.”

OK, so where are these to be delivered t- hey, girl! Just whaddya think yer doin’?!

“Erm,” Prof. Cumulos said in a quavering voice, cowed by the man on the other end’s temper. “White Tower Meteorology Department, Prof. Cumulos’ Office.”

Now clean it up and get them another pizza! An’ step on it!” Giorgio’s voice yelled over the speakers. “What a... oh, right. Sorry about than, man. It should be there in about twenty minutes!

“Th-thank you,” the professor quavered as he hung up the phone.

“Hey, kid!” Giorgio called to Sapph who was chatting with T.J. in the kitchen as the older youth, added more kindling to the kiln. “Got a delivery order for you!”

Sapph hopped down of the counter and walked up to the man. Sure, he was a little gruff on the outside, Sapph thought as he reflected on how his day had gone so far, that after ten successful deliveries, Giorgio had refrained from calling him shoreh. But at least he appreciates good, hard effort.

“Got one Salami Slammer and One Veggie Venus to go. Meteorology Department, Prof. Cumulos’s office,” Giorgio grunted, handing over two flat boxes smaller than most of the ones he’d been delivering throughout the day.

“OK, I’m on it!” Sapph said, stretching a little and taking the boxes from his boss for the day.

As he trotted out of the back door, Giorgio thought, Now, there’s a good, hardworking kid. Hard to find such a mould in the present generation...

A loud crashing noise and an outbreak of angry yelling from the front of the restaurant caused Giorgio to grimace.

“Hey, girl! Don’tcha know how to serve anybody?”

“Shut it, you! Do you know who I am?” Haley roared back.

“Hey, are we meant to care? Just get us another pizza!”

“You wanna pizza? Take this!”

***​

Professor Cumulos leaned back in his office chair and laid a thermos mug full of hot cocoa on the desk as he mulled over his lecture notes. The Castform were merrily dancing around in their cages, making their piping native cries as they played a game that vaguely resembled tag but had all the players chasing each other randomly.

The smallest Castform however had slipped through the bars of the cage and had sneaked over to the bookshelf near the door so that the man hadn’t noticed and was engrossed in a dusty copy of ‘The Were-Mightyena of the Olvilles’, a thrilling mystery novel.

Looking up from his notes as his stomach gave off a large rumble, he rubbed his stomach and declared, “Oh, dear. I do hope those pizzas get here soon.”

A knock sounded on the door at that moment and the professor looked up eagerly; the Castform with a lot less zip.

“Ah, finally! Do come in!” the professor called cheerfully.

The door creaked open and two men dressed in white robes stood framed in the doorway. Both were ominously tall and had identical pudding bowl cuts. The two men stared at Prof. Cumulos with passionless eyes which were obscured by their dark Ray-bans. The looked a little like monks from the future as they stepped into the room in unison; their mouths set in identically curled lines of displeasure.

<Whoa, like, totally high negative aura energies in the vicinity,> the tiny Casform muttered as he peered from behind the door at the two hulking figures. Even the Castform in the cage, who were usually cheerful all the time, became quiet and apprehensive.

“Professor Robert N.Cumulos?” the skinnier one of the men inquired in a flat voice, his midnight black hair unruffled as he stared at the man without a flicker of emotion on his face.

“Y-yes?” the lecturer said warily, wondering which student in his class was responsible for the bizarre visitors he was entertaining. “May I help you?”

“For your sacrilegious declarations that abominations such as these little demons,” the man jerked his head over at the cluster of Castform which had shrunken slightly under his awful glare. “Cause fluctuations, and even create a gift of nature such as the weather to men and women of the next generation that have taken to scholastic endeavours, your sentence is...”

Prof. Cumulos’s eyes widened in horror as he saw the beefier man draw a Glock pistol from under his robe and point it directly at his heart, said with a simple voice, “death.”

The Castform’s eyes widened as a loud gunshot rang out and a mixture of window pane and blood splattered the floor of the office. The professor crumpled against the wall of the office under the window, through which an arctic chill blew, clutching his left shoulder as blood seeped through his fingers, staining his stark white lab coat.

“I told you to use the silencer!” the first man snapped at the second as the concealed Castform decided that this was not going to end well if he didn’t get help. Hovering silently behind the two men, whose attention was fixed on each other and the professor too intently to notice, the Normal type Pokémon slipped out of the open door and made to fly off for help as quick as he could, colliding and bowling over a young boy in a red jacket noisily.

“What was that?” the gunman said in shock as the wind blew his straw blond hair about. The other man said nothing but strode over to the door to see a mess of lab stools, pizza and human appendages on the floor about three feet away from the door.

Grabbing Sapph Manson by the scruff of his anorak, the Light operative shoved Sapph into the office and closed the door behind them. Thrusting Sapph into Professor Cumulos, the two of them, with the little Castform, fell tangled up at their feet.

Pulling out an automatic pistol of his own, the first man said, “We are the Light. We come to purify the world of the abominations called Pokémon which have caused so much suffering to befall the world man was created to rule. You may be an innocent bystander, we have orders to maintain our actions’ secrecy until the time is right to reveal the light to the world.”

Sapph, although ready to piss his pants in sheer fright, gathered up his courage and declared, “What the hell are you people? Who are you to call Pokémon abominations? Don’t you see how many people are made happier by Pokémon daily? How can you be so blind to the truth? This is a world where Pokémon and people grow and support each other! They’re our friends!”

The man looked somewhat surprised at Sapph’s outburst and sighed slightly. “I had hoped we’d be spilling untainted blood today, but unfortunately I was wrong. Your misguided thoughts are dangerous to the new world order... the true world order we intend to create. You are a threat to that world’s peace. You, too, must be disposed of.”

Real smart, Sapph Manson, Sapph thought as the men cocked their weapons and took aim at the helpless duo before them. Real smart... you are so dead...

The two men squeezed the triggers of their firearms in unison and the next few microseconds seemed to pass in slow motion for Sapph... as the bullets left the smoking barrels of their guns and began the tortuously slow march of death towards their prey, a cold wind whipped up around them suddenly, creating a foot thick wall of something translucent that stopped the bullets dead cold.

Sapph stared up ad noticed the wall of air that had stopped the harbingers of death’s path was rather a wall of ice, as a small, oddly-shaped apparition hovered before them, its purplish circular head encased in a smooth, curved floating stalactite of frozen vapour.

“What the?” Sapph gasped as the Castform stared the dumbfounded assailants down coldly before muttering, <Man, I sense like so much evil aura around you guys. Stop the hate. Chill out.>

And with that, the Castform released a barrage of icy sleet that bombarded the two goons relentlessly, encasing them in ice from the tip of their guns down to the soles of their feet.

“Whoa, talk about power,” Sapph said in an awed voice.

The Castform turned around and grinned back. Speaking in a slow, deliberate yet piping voice he said, <Thanks for sticking up for Pokémon there, man. Your natural aura is like so totally overwhelming. I’d love to tag along with a trainer who defends nature like himself, man.>

“First things first, though,” Sapph said, catching up to the present with a moan of pain from Prof. Cumulos. “We need to get him to a doctor and get security up here to take care of these two clowns.”

About fifteen minutes later, Sapph, with the Castform back to normal and perched on his shoulder, sat on the chair next to professor Cumulos’ bedside, the occupant having the left side of his upper torso bound in bandages by the resident Nurse Joy.

“You’re very lucky,” the matron told the professor. “The bullet only just grazed your collar bone. About six inches lower and you’d have had a punctured lung... at least.”

“Thank you, Nurse Joy,” the scientist said weakly. “Turning to Sapph and the Castform, he added, “and thank you two, too. I reckon you make a pretty solid team with that Castform.”

“Uhh, thanks, sir,” Sapph said modestly. “But this little guy here did all the work.”

<D’aww, you shouldn’t have, man,> the Castform said slowly, blushing faintly.

“I know it’s a little unorthodox, but this Castform has never seemed at home with the rest of his kind here in the lab. Would you like to take care of him for me...uhh,” the man faltered, bringing Sapph’s awareness to the fact that he had as of yet not introduced himself.

“Sapphire Manson,” he said, offering his right hand in a friendly handshake. “And if there’s no objection from the little guy, I guess I’d be honoured to.”

<You mean it, dude?> The Castform said in a stunned yet somewhat controlled voice. “You’re mellow with that?>

“Yeah, Cloude,” Sapph laughed as he addressed his latest ‘capture’ by his new nickname. “I’m... ‘mellow' with that.”

***​

So, Sapph,” Prof. Yew’s voice crackled as though through a storm of static that clouded the screen. “Been keeping busy, have we?

“I suppose you could say that,” Sapph replied drily from the White Tower University Meteorology Lab’s videophone from which Sapph had sent Cloude to the Yew Observatory to join Silver. “How’s Silver?”

Ah, about Silver,” Prof. Yew said in a tired voice. “There’s a problem with him I’d like your help on...

“What’s wrong?” Sapph said at once, perching himself on the edge of his seat.

Prof. Yew sighed once and said tiredly, “Nothing’s really wrong, Sapph. I’m just a little... anyway, watch this.

Sapph watched the screen bemusedly as the professor panned out the videophone’s camera to display a large number of Magnemite all clustered together in a corner and communicating in their native high pitched pings. Professor Yew rubbed his eyes vigorously and called out, “Silver!

Sapph sweat dropped as all fifty or so of them replied, <Voice prompt frequency identified as Professor Theodore Yew. Acknowledged. Now will proceed to answering prompt sequence.>

“I... erm... see your, problem,” Sapph said fighting the urge to laugh.

So, I’ve been waiting for the trainers who send these Magnemite in to call so that I can ask them to think up new nicknames for their Magnet Pokémon. But no one really does want to help even when they do call and that’s totally understandable,” Prof. Yew explained worriedly.

“I see,” Sapph said slowly. “So you’d like me to rename Silver?”

Prof. Yew’s eyes were brimming with happy tears as he exclaimed, “Oh, YES, please!"

Sapph sweat dropped again and said, “N-no problem, professor...hmm, let’s think... Steel? Nah, that’s too action-y. Magnet? Bleh, no way. Mite? Nah, he’s not a... wait a minute,” Sapph said with gleaming eyes as his usually dormant muse awoke and belted him with a baseball bat called inspiration. “Might... Mighty! How’s Mighty?”

Mighty the Magnemite,” Prof. Yew said thoughtfully, nodding happily. “It certainly has a ring to it!

“Then it’s settled,” Sapph said triumphantly. “Silver’s new nickname is Mighty!”

It would suit him to a T now he’s not exactly what you’d call silvery anymore...” Prof. Yew said in an undertone which Sapph caught.

“Say what?” Sapph gasped, staring holes into the videophone screen. “What’s wrong with Mighty?”

Nothing critical,” the professor reassured the young trainer. “I believe you’ve heard of the pokérus?

“Can’t say that I have, professor.”

Pokérus, or Pokémon virus, is a life form that grows on a Pokémon. It’s rather infectious, but beneficial at the same time. Are you with me so far?

“Yeeeeeaaaa...no,” Sapph said slowly. “How is a Pokémon virus beneficial to the Pokémon?”

Prof. Yew sighed and began to explain. “Pokérus usually enhances the stat gain of Pokémon that were formerly infected with pokérus. Prof. Elm of New Bark once hypothesized that shiny Pokémon usually gain higher stats than their regularly coloured counterparts. This, however, was a rumour quashed by Professor Birch of Littleroot Town.

“I don’t get it,” Sapph said slowly. “What’s being a shiny got to do with pokérus?”

I’m getting there, Sapph. It would seem that Mighty has contracted a unique strain of the pokérus that is converting his colouration to that of a shiny. It’s nothing major, I assure you. He will just look a little rusty when you next see him but he’ll be the same.

Sapph flopped back in the chair and stared blankly at the screen. Despite the fact that he had just acquired a hippie Castform...he’d worked as a pizza delivery boy... Mighty was turning into a shiny Pokémon and he wasn’t there to see it... not to mention riled the Light, the last group of Anti-Pokémon extremists he’d want to cross...all in one stupid day.

...it looked like his bad luck was back.

***​

CHARACTER PROFILE OF THE WEEK

Name: T.J. King
Age:
17
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: June 29th, PA 1996
Eye Colour: Green
Hair Colour: Black

Theme: The Anthem by Good Charlotte
Current Teammates: Phoenix (Combusken), Oza (Makuhita), Torrent (Poliwhirl), Torque (Hitmontop)
Pokémon at the Yew Observatory: None

Background: T.J. was born in Pacifidlog and raised on the waves of the southern seas of Hoenn. T.J. has always admired fighting type trainers and emulated their rigorous training methods by swimming through the dangerous rapids and reefs in the vicinity. T.J. swam to Slateport and trekked to Littleroot alone at the age of ten to receive a Torchic from Professor Birch, which has been his most trusted and competent battler throughout the years and their travels.

T.J. has come to Corei to train at the Dopeak City Gym and compete in the Trigello Island Cup challenge, a tournament for monotype Pokémon experts where future gym leader material is usually discovered.

***​

AND TO ROUND EVERYTHING UP, THE COREI-DEX ENTRY FOR THE CHAPTER!

Name: Polaroo

Corei-Dex Number:
140
Classification: Kangaroo
Pronunciation: POE-lah-roo
Element: Ice/Fighting

Height: 3’06”
Weight: 46lbs
Name Derivation: POLAR + kangarOO
Evolutionary Line: Polaroo usually follow the following evolutionary line:

POLAROO -(30)-> WALAROI

Author’s/Artist’s Note: POLAROO's huge feet can send its victim flying over ten feet through the air. Due to its reliance on its feet, its fists are unreliable for close range combat. Its tail is heavily muscled and can launch a Polaroo up to twenty five metres into the air.

In Fic: Well, T.J. will obtain one of these for his team when they make it to Dopeak City.

Next Time on TCQ:

Sapph Haley and TJ finally make it to Dopeak City for Sapph's sixth gym challenge... against two nine-year old boy monks who are so different, Sapph feels he'll have no problem securing the Power Badge! Will he succeed? And when shadows from the past come back to attack Team Sapph, will their resolve and beliefs hold firm or come crashing down around their heads? And is that a good thing?! Only TCQ Chapter 30: T.K.O. has the answers.

Finally, I'd like to say, a new journey fic will hit these forums soon. It's shorter than TCQ and several characters from this fic will make appearances there as well, as it's set in TCQ's future.

That all said and done, it's time for me to say... L@ER!
 
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Araleon

Chill
Hey! You updatd! Sweet! I liked TJ, but id h take their wallets? Hmm... nd a Castform? Ok, and Silver converting colors? That's unique.

So, I like Polaroo. If Corei was real, I'd want one.

See ya next chappie!

Araleon

EDIT: Woot! First Post!
 
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asperger1981

good reader
It is me, or Saph is getting all the socially rejected and neglected pokemon? (e.g: taebrawl)
Besides that detail, I really missed this series, it is probably one of the best series of fiction in here.

Welcome back, Saph!
 

FinalForm

Active Member
Yeah, all of Sapph's Pokemon all are so unique and so...similar (I guess in that respect), that the hippie Castform doesn't really surprise me. I do love Castforms though, so the fact that he got one is definitely a plus in my book.

I;m glad you had Silver change colors (and nicknames). It was just something unique that set the story apart a bit from other trainer fics. However, the Light guys just make me think of the Crimson Dawn from Shrike's fic, so they don't really do anything for me. In fact, I believe both teams refer to Pokemon as abominations.
 

Matt Silver

Rest My Chemistry
New chapter!

Woot!

All good work as usual, AD. The chapter felt oddly rushed to me, but it's still good - a very unique idea of getting a protagonist in a sticky evil team run-in by having him/her deliver pizza and waltz in to said sticky situation. And a Castform to come with? Cool, Castforms are pretty awesome - how many Pokemon does Sapph have/had now?

The new guy TJ is unique - in a good way of course - and he was a good addition to the chapter. Haley was rather funny in this one, as well as the fact that the mention of her and Sapph being a couple has Sapph all stammery and blushy. I wonder what his Pokemon would think about that? (I predict several jokes at his expense).

Enough of this review - keep it up etc.

P.S. : With DJ gone, this, Omnipotence and Advent Phoenix are the only ones I read...
 

king of blue

That's me!
Hi, I've been reading your fanfic, and while I was re-reading it, I came across a problem. It was that some of your links on your first post are linked to the wrong pieces of the story. For example, you chapter 13 pt 2 link is to chapter 14 pt 2. I've found problems also with your pt 2 of chaps 14, 15, and 20, where the second pt is a second part one. The second and first links are exactly the same. On your season finale for season 1, the links don't work, but I still haven't checked season 2.
I will continue to read your fic, as I think it is pretty good, so I hope to actually review it when i am finished catching up. Thank you for writing this fic, and I shall review later.
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Hey, guys! What's up?

Time for an appreciation post, but first:

THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH FOR THE AWESOME BIRTHDAY WISHES!

Now to the posts:

@Araleon:

I liked TJ, but id h take their wallets? Hmm... nd a Castform? Ok, and Silver converting colors? That's unique.

So, I like Polaroo. If Corei was real, I'd want one.
Glad you did. I revamped Polaroo from it's first sketch. It makes it much cuter, neh?

@asperger1981:

It is me, or Saph is getting all the socially rejected and neglected pokemon? (e.g: taebrawl)
Besides that detail, I really missed this series, it is probably one of the best series of fiction in here.
Yeah, that trend will keep up for pretty much all of saga one. Sapph feels closer to these pokemon because they, like him, were second best (OK maybe not Mogshex or Mighty) but they're willing to commit themselves totally to being the best the world has ever seen.

@FinalForm:

I;m glad you had Silver change colors (and nicknames). It was just something unique that set the story apart a bit from other trainer fics. However, the Light guys just make me think of the Crimson Dawn from Shrike's fic, so they don't really do anything for me. In fact, I believe both teams refer to Pokemon as abominations.
Thanks. Which fic of Shrike's? I know he's also quite the seasoned writer and i've seen his works tempting me to peruse them, but i always seem to resist.

Oh, and it's only the Light who abhor pokemon. Team Shadow operatives are all trainers, including Theologos.

@MerlockVonBaron: Hey there, man! Thanks for reading!

@Diddy: Well, yeah. Don't you hate it when you have nothing to comment on? LOL

@Matt Silver:

All good work as usual, AD. The chapter felt oddly rushed to me, but it's still good - a very unique idea of getting a protagonist in a sticky evil team run-in by having him/her deliver pizza and waltz in to said sticky situation. And a Castform to come with? Cool, Castforms are pretty awesome - how many Pokemon does Sapph have/had now?
It was a little rushed, wasn't it? Anyways, to answer the question, Sapph currently owns eight, but has caught ten. In order of acquisition, they are: Anuvi, Crimson, Mogshex, Mighty (formerly Silver), Ace, Zen, Grandpa, Lavender, Arcana and Cloude.

The new guy TJ is unique - in a good way of course - and he was a good addition to the chapter. Haley was rather funny in this one, as well as the fact that the mention of her and Sapph being a couple has Sapph all stammery and blushy. I wonder what his Pokemon would think about that? (I predict several jokes at his expense).
TJ was included to replace another character who had to make a hasty exit from the fic. More on that when the time is right.

Yeah, and that part was mostly to keep the SapphxHaley fans happy! Viva la Shipping!

@king of blue:

Thank you so much for catching and notifying me of those errors! I'll get to work on them right away!

As I leave, my gift to you all is a lovely cyber cake!

(The cake is NOT a lie! LOL...)

Keep stayin' alive...

L@er!
 

DarkPersian479

Well-Known Member
“So you two are headed for White Tower, hunh?” a large bus driver said in a nasal, bored-sounding voice.
“And what about you, Chinooka tanuka?” the large bus driver said
she added in an animated voice, “And then we go and see the science faculty!”
exactly two hundred and thirty nine years ago, on this very day?”
“’Bout a week,” T.J. said airily, scooping as much cheese as he could onto his slice.
T.J. said cordially, taking a swig of juice.
“You have your orders,” one of the shadows said enigmatically.
“Wait. Did you pack the silencer?” the first man asked sharply.
walking past his partner and out into the street
So go wait on them! And no tips!” he added as he thrust Haley into the front of the restaurant.
<Yummy, yummy, yummy!> the other Castform echoed happily.
“Ah, finally! Do come in!” the professor called cheerfully.
“Professor Robert N. Cumulos?” the skinnier one of the men inquired in a flat voice,
“Y-yes?” the lecturer said warily,
You, too, must be disposed of.”
Sapph stared up and noticed the wall of air
its purplish circular head
I've seen the whole "payback by working in a restaurant" subplot before on several TV shows, so that part really didn't surprise me too much. It was interesting to see how Sapph's first throwdown with the Light would go, and having the dudes flash-frozen by Castform was a unique way of handling things.

TJ makes for an interesting new character, although it does seem that Sapph and Haley have gone through a lot of traveling partners lately... wonder if he'll stick around for the long run...

“Hey, girl! Don’tcha know how to serve anybody?”

“Shut it, you! Do you know who I am?” Haley roared back.

“Hey, are we meant to care? Just get us another pizza!”

“You wanna pizza? Take this!”
LOL, looks like someone can't handle her new job... Wonder if they'll find whoever robbed them? I bet Haley tears them a new one...

Oh yeah, and belated happy birthday!
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
That many grammar errors?!

Damn it...

oh and belated thanks for the birthday wishes!

Well, chapter 31 is snailing along. But i did say it was gonna be a big one. Maybe i should split it...

nah.

I've started on the meatier parts of the chapter and i should hopefully be done with it by thursday, cuz i'm travelling on friday. for a month. on holiday.

Relax, this is a good thing. A month with no work? and free type time?

Either way, i won't stop typing. besides, 32's a reasonably short chapter in my head.

This has been Air Dragon with TCQ's Newswatch.

OH, yeah... I just posted the TCQ soundtrack in the appropriate thread in the Author's Cafe. Go check it out if you're bored!

Link

Hope you're all well...

L@er!
 

EonMaster One

saeculum harmonia
Whew...sorry that I'm ridiculously late.

I will agree with others' opinion that this chapter felt a bit rushed, but I'm going to take that a step further. It felt very unfinished - like there should have been a lot more there, but there wasn't. I think you're trying to push the plot onward much too quickly.



The chapter itself wasn't bad - I actually found it (with the scene where the Professor gets shot being the obvious exception) refreshingly lighthearted in comparison to the darker tone of the chapter before. My issue is with Sapph and (probably moreso) Haley. Considering what happened to them in the previous chapter, I wouldn't expect them to act, in most cases, like nothing had happened.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you really want to continue this story, and really want it to finish with the same high level of quality as it had when it started, you need to take a break for a week...or, at least a few days.

You're not getting tired of writing this, are you? Because that's the impression I'm getting. There's nothing wrong with admitting that - I daresay it comes with the territory when you're writing a very long journey fic. Believe me, I know. The last couple of chapters have felt like you're trying to feed us the remainder of the plot in huge gulps rather than small spoonfuls. There's nothing worse than a story that starts out like a house on fire and then ends up being really blah because the author was just going through the motions by the end. I don't mean to be harsh, but maybe you should take a break from writing for a few days - or at least from writing this. Maybe you should brainstorm for future projects for a little while or just writing something completely different for the heck of it. Let me use this example, just stay with me for a second.

I like Butter Pecan ice cream. It's my favorite flavor. But I don't get it every time I get the chance because then I get bored with it and want to do something else. So every now and again, I'll get Vanilla or Strawberry or something like that, just to mix things up a little. That way, I can break the monotony and don't get sick of my favorite flavor of ice cream.

Your writing is still good, don't get me wrong. But 'good' isn't your usual standard. You're closer to 'outstanding' - one of the better writers on this forum, in fact - and, as a friend, I just don't think that this chapter (though entertaining) was quite up to your potential. Maybe it's just a rough patch - I've had a couple of times recently where I haven't even liked the chapters that I've written but couldn't think of any way to make them better. Just remember - you're the author and it's up to you...not a date, not another reader, not circumstances, to decide the pace of this story.

- ;196; EM1
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
In reply...

EM1, there's no problem with being late. It frankly gives me more time to, as you put it... adequately brainstorm for ideas.

Your advice was intriguing, so to say, as i have another idea that i'd wanted to start work on. so i'll follow your advice and start with that for a while.

Your ice-cream scenario reminded me of a manga i'd recently read, and how that explanation made more sense to the character than the more accurate, complex meaning. but that's just by the by...

So, i guess i'll hit the hiatus button on this fic for a while whiles i work on improving the chapter quality, and put a little more effort into working on the other project... (i think i mentioned it to you, no?)

Well, the timing is perfect too, (for details, check my profile page).

Thank's so much for your two cents. They always feel like two hundred dollars from my readers...

L@er!
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
At long last... the wait is over!

Phew-ee! After two months of waiting, the time has come to get on with the story. I'll take the time now to apologize for any undue inconveniences such as nervous breakdowns, self-wetting and half-crazed suicide attempts the wait may have caused.

Rated T for first-class violence.

And yes, I know Machamp can't learn Shadow Punch. Bite me.

Chapter Thirty: T.K.O.​

Wispy cirrus clouds swirled around an ancient Far-Eastern style city seated high atop a snowy mountain. Houses with scarlet pagoda-shaped roofs ringed the mountain top crested by an enormous temple, so similar to the numerous dwellings surrounding it, but on a much bigger scale. A hundred-to-one size scale.

Children ran up and down the windy cobbled streets that meandered between the numerous houses, all of which wore simplistic clothing that would befit the formerly nomadic lifestyle of the people. Women conversed as they went about their daily business, their hair arranged in a variety of simple styles that would heavily hint their dislike for the flashy hairstyles many women would like to go for.

The start of this chapter of the story, however, lies in the temple; home to the upper echelon monks of Dopeak City, which have included the gym leader and the town guard since the ancient town’s conception so many years ago. Many monks with silk robes of red and gold went about fulfilling their duties, be them to themselves (in the form of rigorous training or meditation) or to the community (as in safeguarding the cultural heritage and peace of the city.) Innumerable training fields dotted the temple, making it chilly and bitter cold, but the people there were not there for comfort, for their way of life was to live with as little complications as possible. Despite being well cared for in general, these parts of the temple still had grass poking out through the edges and cracks of the paving slabs.

In the middle of one field in particular facing the eastern sun was a boy monk scarcely older than nine, draped in a monk’s outfit with several slight differences. His yellow undershirt only provided cover for the right side of his upper torso whilst the left side down to the chest was left exposed. A red robe slung over the same shoulder offered little extra protection from the bitter cold. The cloak stopped at his waist where a red and gold belt held up a pair of dark brown trousers which stopped a few inches shy of his bare feet. His legs crossed in an intricate fashion, the boy’s eyes were closed as he sat in a meditative position.

An older sage walked out onto the field in a towering temper, his grizzled toothless mouth forming a severe line as he strode out towards the boy who gave no indication that he was aware of his company.

Bowing respectfully, the old, balding sage began, “Brother Lhi...”

“...Brother Chen is missing again, is he not, Master Hang?” the boy said softly, not opening his eyes as continued his meditation.

The sage bowed again and went on in an irritable tone, “the boy has no regard for tradition whatsoever. His constant roaming the city should bring his role as gym leader into serious...”

“We have been over this, Master Hang,” Lhi said without a trace of irritation. “Brother Chen is part of a gym leader team. I am another part. We complete each other and we work together. If one of us goes, the other goes with him.”

“B-but his disregard for the rules!” the sage spluttered. “His utter disrespect for tradition...!”

“Are little more than a desire for freedom and fun,” Lhi replied slowly, his deep, steady breathing remaining uninterrupted. “He is, as I am, only nine, and as a leader,” he went on, overriding the older Hang’s imminent interruption, “I deem it wise of him to want to be with the people we are charged to safeguard.”

“But... but...” Elder Hang said in spluttering disbelief.

“I wish not to discuss this any further, Master Hang,” Lhi said with a trace of finality in his calm, lilting voice. “As his best friend and spiritual brother, I have understood him perfectly and assure you there is no monk in this temple who is more suited to be a gym leader.”

Lhi then rose to his feet and walked out of the clearing meditatively, leaving the seething sage in his wake. In an undertone, he added, “Not even myself.”

***​

The bustling market place was teeming with townsfolk attending to their stores, chores or simply meeting to discuss life. At a small earthenware shop, a young girl, with her shiny black hair in a long plait that reached the small of her back was showing a customer some of their merchandise.

“Ming! Come over here, please!” A loud voice called from the back of the store.

Bowing respectfully to the customer, she trotted through the back door towards a low couch where a man who was unmistakeably her father lay on his back, his leg which lay in a cast propped up on the arm rest.

“What is wrong, Father?” Ming asked, worry etched in her blue eyes as she crouched near where her father’s head lay.

“Nothing severe, my dear,” her father reassured her, propping himself up into a sitting position as he reached for his cane. “I just recalled that we needed to send the order of bone china bowls to the noodle shop on Light Street today and I was wondering if you could get them there. Of course, I’d have asked your brother, Weng, but he has not returned from the hills as of yet.”

“But, of course, Father,” Ming replied, rising to her red-and-gold slipper-clad feet. “Shall I close the shop?”

“No, no,” the middle aged man replied softly, his long thin moustache waving as he used his walking cane to rise to his feet, favouring his good right foot. “I shall manage until you return.”

Ming nodded dutifully and pulled off her white storekeeper’s apron, hanging it on a nail above the doorway as she walked out and towards a wagon laden with ceramic merchandise. Ming exhaled a couple of times and for a girl so small and seemingly frail managed to pull the cart along.

Unfortunately, many of Dopeak’s cobbled streets were sharp inclines up and down the mountainside and no matter how often it is done, many nine year old girls simply cannot pull a heavy cart uphill behind them for long. It was not long, therefore, when Ming noticed that she had reached her limit and leaned against a lamppost whilst clutching the cart, gasping for breath.

“Tired already, Ming?” A spritely voice called from somewhere above her head, and with her long curtain of shiny black hair following her, she glanced up into the branches of a nearby tree and cracked a tired smile. Wheeling the barrow towards the tree, she simply said, “Hello there, Chen.”

A boy of nine years dropped out of the tree, brushing leaves off his bright blue and gold tracksuit, which was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to features that set this boy apart from others in the city.

His hair which, he had let grow in what may have been considered sacrilegious rebellion, although short, was laid messily atop his round, cheery face. Walking towards Ming, his dark eyes spelled concern as he took hold of the bar where an animal would be yoked and said brightly, “Girls shouldn’t carry heavy stuff around. They should leave it for the strong boys and men of the village.”

Ming shook her head in mild exasperation, a humoured expression on her face as she relinquished possession of the cart. While many a person would take offense at the boy’s cheerful wisecracks, she knew Chen didn’t really mean to sound arrogant and was far too used to his smart-alecky comments to be bothered.

“You’re a brat, you know that?” she said, pretending to be annoyed.

“I know you are, but what am I?” Chen quipped with a wink.

With a theatrical pout, Ming said, “You’re going to get the monks angry at you if you keep skipping out of the temple, you know. Don’t you care what’ll happen when they find out?”

“Frankly, they already know,” Chen said nonchalantly. “But the temple gets boring after a while. And you know me,” he added with a smirk. “I’m allergic to stuffy old stiffs like Master Han and the rest of my Hate Club up there.”

Ming giggled. Her friend was truly a master of keeping things light-hearted, no matter how tough things were or could be.

“So,” Chen remarked, as they meandered their way in between shoppers on their way up the hill. “How is your father’s foot?”

“Much better,” Ming replied, keeping up with her friend as they took a detour down a side street to avoid the human congestion. “The herbs you got for him really helped.”

“That’s great,” Chen said happily as the duo emerged into a less crowded street which led down past the town square, in which a crowd was seemingly gathering.

“I wonder what’s going on over there,” Ming said curiously.

“Let’s go see,” Chen said eagerly and using the bulky cart to their advantage, Ming and Chen were able to get close enough to see what the center of attraction was.

Three trainers faced each other in a free-for-all one a piece battle. The shortest of the trainers, a young boy with messy dark brown hair and donning a bright red and white hoodie stood behind a green Pokémon that was probably a Grass type. Chen faced this pair and so couldn’t see the cape of leaves that grew behind the Pokémon’s back. Its purple eyes darted from the two Pokémon it was to face.

On the Squirrage’s left was a yellow and orange fowl, the upper half of its body sausage shaped white three feathers adorning the crown of its head. Its flat-looking hands ended in three sharp white claws that could do some serious damage. This Pokémon kept its orange eyes on the Pokémon on his and his trainer’s (a tall gangly teen with dark skin and black bobbed hair) left and her trainer.

The third trainer, and the only girl, and her Pokémon stood ready on the Squirrage’s right, the breeze ruffling the Water Hare’s cerulean fur and the girl’s long reddish-blonde hair which she wore in a single plait under her wide-brimmed cowboy hat. Her white shirt and denim, knee-length skirt danced a hampered dance in the wind as they waited for the signal to start, the trickling of the water fountain behind them tinkling merrily in the background amidst the crowd’s eager mutters.

Chen watched the match expectantly. He couldn’t place his finger on a reason, but he knew watching the match was important.

“After you, guys,” the boy in red said genially, almost as though offering them the first slice of a tasty pie.

“Your funeral, Sapph,” the Black boy shrugged before issuing his orders. “Phoenix, use Fire Punch on Anuvi.”

<Got it!> The Combusken yelled as he ran towards the Warrior Pokémon, his fists and claws alight with flames.

“Let’s go, Bubbles! Turn that squirrel into a snow cone with Blizzard!” The girl commanded her Water Pokémon.

Et tu, Haley?” Sapph joked as he watched Bubbles inhale deeply. “Then fall T.J.... you know what to do, Anuvi,” he added to his entrant for this encounter.

Anuvi merely nodded and directed his attention to the Combusken who was almost on top of him, and tensed his leg muscles in preparation to act. Bubbles the Aquala unleashed a frozen wave of wind just as the Combusken moved into range, its flaming claws reared back ready to strike.

Chen blinked twice as what happened next seemed not only impossible... it had happened in the blink of an eye. The crowd gasped as the Squirrage suddenly appeared in front of the black haired boy and the Combusken was washed over by the Blizzard attack intended for the Grass type counterpart.

If one could slow down everything, they’d have seen Anuvi duck under Phoenix’s fist, climb onto his assailant’s shoulder and kick off him twenty feet straight up, where he sped through towards the ground at the bewildered T.J.’s feet.

“Ay, Haley!” T.J. said angrily, as Phoenix exhaled heavily; throwing up his Fire Punch into the Blizzard was the only thing that had kept him from becoming a flash-frozen TV dinner. “Watch it!”

“Why?” Haley exclaimed in affronted tones as Bubbles glared at Anuvi, who smiled back. “This is a free-for-all!”

<Yaiba no Hayashi time, Sapph?> Anuvi asked calmly as the two trainers bickered on.

“No,” Sapph said quietly. “I don’t want us to use it every single battle. Let’s rely on speed to win this one!”

<You’re the boss,> Anuvi shrugged before jumping for safety; while they were talking, Bubbles had lunged for Anuvi with streaks of golden light trailing behind her – trademark of her Take Down attack – and had rolled quite literally into the line of fire: Phoenix inhaled deeply, a ball of fire forming in his beak.

“Anuvi, Quick Attack!” Sapph called enthusiastically, and Anuvi vanished and reappeared in a heartbeat. Phoenix was sent flying into the fountain, gripping his gut in pain.

“Bubbles, use Blizzard again!” Haley ordered, hoping to catch Sapph’s starter off guard. Bubbles sent another draught of arctic air at the woodland Pokémon, who leapt aside and ran around the ring of spectators so quickly he seemed to have teleported.

Bubbles' sharp hearing picked up a whistling sound and looked around behind them as a small comet streaked towards them, his claws raised in preparation to slash right through the two of them.

Anuvi jumped away as on Haley’s command, Bubbles’ tail glowed silvery white as she swung it around at where Anuvi’s head was. Anuvi flipped onto his feet about five feet out of range and watched the collision between Iron Tail and Slash: in which Bubbles’ attack had slammed into the side of Phoenix’s head whilst T.J.’s Combusken’s claws raked the Water Hare’s side savagely leaving a trio of angry red scratches.

<Oh... de... arrr...> Anuvi chuckled as he saw both opponents go sailing towards opposite ends of the field and crumple up, each looking the worse for wear. <You know something, Sapph? If I didn’t know better, I’d think they’ve been trying to hit me just now.>

“Do you guys give up?” Sapph asked his friends brightly. “Or are we taking five?”

Both trainers scowled in unison and without a further word, returned their Pokémon to their pokéballs.

The crowd began to disperse, talking eagerly about the match they had just witnessed and the unbelievable speed and agility the Squirrage had displayed.

“Guess that’s a wrap, Anuvi,” Sapph said, sounding a little let-down at their eagerness to throw in the towel. Fishing out Anuvi’s pokéball, he pointed it at his Pokémon and said, “Return.”

As the Grass Pokémon returned in a blaze of green light, Sapph smiled and said to the others, “Looks like we're ready for the prime time tomorrow, eh guys?”

“Tomorrow?” Haley queried in some surprise. “You’re not going to the gym now?”

“Nah,” Sapph said calmly. “The gym isn’t going anywhere. And easy as that may have seemed (T.J. and Haley scowled again), I think it’s best we get some rest and think up a strategy for tomorrow... this is the third strongest gym leader, after all...”

And with that, Sapph turned and strolled up the road to the Pokémon Center, past a gawking Haley and a distracted T.J., who seemed to be looking for someone or something in the crowd that wasn’t there anymore.

“Sapph... thinking up strategies? The world’s come to an end,” Haley said in disbelief.

Further up the road, Chen had an excited, eager smile on his face as he pushed the cart up the road, Ming walking beside him in ponderous silence.

“So... what did you think?” Ming finally asked her friend as they reached the delivery address and as she knocked on the door.

“Well... T.J.’s not here to challenge us for a badge... and Haley’s certainly not ready to do so,” Chen said calmly. “That boy in the red jacket – ‘Sapph’, they called him – he seems to be the one to expect something from.”

“And what do you expect?”

“Quite the match.”

***​

The full moon hung high in the sky that night as Chen executed some complex shadow boxing kata in the middle of one of the temple’s airy training grounds. The night’s cold wind was wintry and the fact that Chen wore nothing but a plain white vest over his torso made it look likely that the boy was sure to catch a cold.

“You’re breathing’s a little off, Brother Chen,” a soft lilting voice announced, causing the young boy’s head to bring his training session to an end as he said without turning around, “Evening, Brother Lhi.”

The close-shaven boy walked into the clearing, still dressed in his monk’s habit, a totally unfazed look upon his face as he approached his fellow monk-in-training.

“Master Han spoke to me again today,” Lhi said in a calm voice as he sat down on the edge of the training ground under the glow of the moon and assumed a meditative stance. “Must you aggravate the higher elders every day?”

After drying himself off with a towel, Chen walked over to where Lhi sat and sat by his side, assuming an identical meditative stance. “Aw, c’mon Lhi,” he said in a false, whiney voice. “Where would the fun be around here if I didn’t keep everybody’s blood pressure up?”

“You are as irresponsible as ever, Brother Chen,” Lhi said with a bite of irritation in his voice. “I frankly wonder if the only reason they haven’t replaced us yet is due to our insistence to fight as a tag team... or the results that we usually yield whenever we do so.”

“You and Ming are so alike,” Chen chuckled. “Are you sure you’re cootie-free?”

“At least your girl friend has some sense of responsibility,” Lhi said, in his patient voice. “Someone could use a lesson in keeping a level head...”

“Hmm,” Chen said calmly, staring up at the moon.

“Something big must have happened today to make you get lost in thought,” Lhi said calmly. Flashing a rare smirk, he said coyly, “Did Ming kiss you today?”

Chen shivered from head to foot and fell slowly onto his side with a comical clunk, and in a voice of dead calm that would scare the meanest Gengar, said in a menacing whisper, “Don’t ever ask me that again, Lhi.”

Laughing softly, Lhi said, “So that’s a no. So what is on your mind?”

“Tomorrow’s challenger, Sapph Manson,” Chen said, sitting up properly and staring down at his trembling hands as he clasped them tighter in meditation. “He seems extraordinarily strong. I saw him take down two Pokémon at once.”

“Ah,“ was all Lhi could say.

“And you know what was amazing? He didn’t seem to be trying,” Chen said, a slight quiver in his voice.

After a moment’s reflection, Lhi said calmly, “I’ve heard of him. He’s aroused mixed reactions amongst the gym leaders. Clyff and Fuego think he’s an arrogant troublemaker, but no one would really take a narcissist like Fuego seriously. Arlene and Ricon were highly impressed with his prowess, particularly Arlene. I suppose winning the Gatonda Tournament must have added fuel to her admiration. Cassandra’s somewhere in-between.” Noticing Chen’s trembling voice, he added, “Are you afraid of him, Brother Chen?”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Chen said. “I’m more shaken up than an overexcited Toxicroak after its anticipation kicks in!”

“That’s good. Fear dulls the force a fighter and blocks a warrior’s Qi,” Lhi said exhaling calmly.

“Thanks for the sermon, Guru Peachy Preachy,” Chen said with a rolling of the eyes and a smirk of his own.

***​

“Phew! Would ya get a load of this place!” Sapph whistled in appreciation as he, Haley and T.J. had been ushered in by the monks who stood guard at the entrance. Sapph stared around at the statues that lined the stairways up the draughty temple which despite a crack here and there gave off the impression of being well-maintained.

“It certainly is a gym with a difference,” Haley mused, taking in the architecture with interest. Shivering slightly, she added, “The locals certainly seem inappropriately dressed though, don’t they?” eying a pair that sparred nearby, bare-chested and wearing only long pants of a light material.

“It’s all in the name of training both body and spirit, Haley,” T.J. said matter-of-factly. “I’m so excited to be here... I hope they accept me apprenticeship letter... I’m totally nervous!”

“Well, I don’t see how they couldn’t, so relax. Help me find the gym leaders...” Sapph said when a loud voice interrupted him.

“STATE YOUR PURPOSES!” A loud call resounded as twenty or so monks came from the top of the stairs ad formed three ranks, seemingly intent on preventing Sapph and company from climbing any higher.

“Oh, boy,” Sapph said enthusiastically, pulling off a pokéball and enlarging it with a roll of his fingers. “A warm-up act.”

“Stand down, brothers,” a soft voice said authoritatively, and all the monks fell to the sides and bowed, creating a pathway through their formation.

A boy who looked younger than Sapph and dressed in identical fashion to the monks on either side of the stairs, walked down towards them slowly, another boy in a navy blue and white chengsam and long blue pants strolling along besides him. Stopping about four steps above Sapph, Haley and T.J., the boy in the habit said slowly and deliberately, “We have been expecting you, Sapphire Manson. And you, T.J. King. Welcome to the Dopeak City Gym. My name is Lhi...”

“... and I’m Chen! Here’s to a Gym battle to remember, right?” Chen said happily, bursting with energy.

Bowing respectfully, T.J. said loudly, “Thank you for your recognition, Master Lhi... Master Chen!”

Haley was taken aback as she spluttered, “Say what? You’re both Gym Leaders?!”

“Indeed,” Lhi said calmly. “Is that a problem?”

“Not to me!” Sapph said confidently. “Hope you have my badge under that robe!”

Chen snorted. “Hmph, we’re not exactly pushovers, Sapph! We can call you Sapph, right?” Turning to walk back up the stairs, he looked back at the trio and said, “Well, let’s get moving, we haven’t all day!”

As Sapph, Haley and T.J. looked at each other before following the boys into the temple, Chen turned to Lhi and muttered, “Watch out for his Squirrage... it’s got a lot of power and speed...”

“Relax, Brother Chen,” Lhi said confidently as they arrived at the expanse of space where Chen had been training the night before. “We are strong enough to beat anything that he may have up his sleeve...”

Sapph and the boys took their places on the field as Haley and T.J. hurried to get front row seats in the stands which many monks seemed to be occupying already. A bald monk whom they assumed to be the referee stepped up to the sidelines and raised his voice to explain the rules of the battle.

“The Official battle between Sapphire Manson and the Dopeak City Gym Leaders Lhi and Chen will now begin. If Sapphire wins, he will earn a Power Badge. Each side may use four Pokémon apiece,” the referee bagan.

“That’s funny,” Haley began in a wondering voice.

“What is?” T.J. asked turning in his seat to look at Haley.

“Usually, when people call Sapph by his full name, he gets a comical look on his face like he’s trying to lay an egg,” Haley said nonchalantly. “But today, Sapph seems... I dunno, focused.”

“Is that right,” T.J. said in surprise, turning back to glance at Sapph’s face, which indeed held a determined gleam seemingly absent during their training match the day before.

“It’s like the man wasn’t taking yesterday’s match seriously at all,” T.J. said in surprise as the ref went on in a loud voice.

“The format for the battle will be a double set format battle. Pokémon may be returned only in pairs and when it is unable to battle. Are all battlers ready?”

All three boys nodded in unison, none sparing words on anything other than the battle ahead of them.

“Let’s rumble!” Chen exclaimed, first off the mark. “Go, Champ!”

“Harleking, I require your aid!” Lhi called out, throwing down a red and white sphere of his own.

Sapph stared as his first opposition formed on the field from the familiar blasts of white light. One stood at over six feet tall, its four arms all muscle. This was putting it lightly; every single square inch of this Pokémon was muscle; from its paving slab-sized pecs and square inch abs. Its red eyes narrowed on the side of the arena where Sapph would release the Pokémon he would battle with.

Harleking, on the other hand, looked almost doll-like. Its balloon-shaped head was covered with what looked like a black yamakah and what looked like a white hakama was draped loosely over its sloping shoulders and slender arms which drooped to the floor. To Sapph, it looked like the Harleking’s biggest problem was standing up straight as he watched it slouch and slope from side to side.

Harleking, the Harlequin Pokémon, Sapph’s Pokédex chimed in. Harlekng's the most flexible Pokémon in existence with every joint in its body capable of full three-sixty degree rotations which it uses in spinning slaps and kicks.

Guess that’s what you expect from a gym leader, Sapph thought with a slight smile.

“From your smile, I’d reckon you think you can take us!” Chen called out.

“Please do not disappoint us, Sapphire,” Lhi added quietly.

“Oh, I plan to do anything but,” Sapph said, still grinning. “Go, Zen... and... Ace, you too!”

With two more flashes of light, the Combatant and Swoop Pokémon took their places on (or in Ace’s case) above the field and stared down their opposition before noticing that they weren’t alone.

<What’s going on, kid?> Zen said coldly, flexing his prosthetic arm. <I can handle those lightweights solo... call Sergeant Bird Face back already!>

<While you’re the last Pokémon I’d want to work with,> Ace said in a clipped and affronted tone. <General Sapph’s orders are for us to team up. Also, I’d deem it unsightly for a comrade-at-arms to make light of any opposition, no matter how weak they may or may not be.>

“Round one: Taebrawl and Mawhoot versus Machamp and Harleking. Begin!” The referee announced with his arms crossed and a deep note from a large drum sounded, beginning the battle for the Power Badge.

“Zen, Aura Sphere! Ace, use Cyclone, go!”

<Don’t tell me what to do, kid!> Zen snapped as he charged up a sphere of spirit energy the size of a large orange as Ace reared back and lunged into the two Fighting types below her, spinning in her familiar spinning furrow of air.

“Champ, take the Aura Sphere head on and use Shadow Punch!” Chen commanded swiftly as Lhi’s only words to his Pokémon were, “Dodge it.”

Harleking swayed drunkenly in time with the spinning Mawhoot and avoided the spinning tornado nearly effortlessly. In the meanwhile, the Machamp took a few lumbering steps forward and with no external sign of pain took the powerful attack to the chest, but for all the world Zen might have well as shot it into the air; Champ the Machamp hardly fell out of step as he charged on, his eyes focused.

Sapph gasped as his mind which was focused on trying to accept the impossibility that a Pokémon had stood up to Aura Sphere and seemingly felt nothing finally registered the counterattack Chen had ordered.

Responding to Haley’s yelled, “SAPPH,” he called out, “Zen, try to use Confusion, quickly! Ace, double back and try an Aerial Ace!”

Ace promptly broke out of the spin and with an enormous loop-de-loop, sped towards the straightening Harleking, who looked at the descending Swoop Pokémon as his trainer called out the next command, “Detect.” And Detect, the Harleking did, swaying once more like bamboo in the wind as the Mawhoot breezed past with no effect whatsoever.

Zen, it seemed had other plans... breaking into a quick sprint, he bounded off the stone floor and twisting in midair launched himself into a Rolling Kick, that the Machamp blocked and rebuffed with one of its four arms. In what seemed to be one effortless motion, the Machamp swung its two opposite fists, which glowed with ghostly purple energy, into the Combatant Pokémon’s face and gut, sending Zen barrel-rolling back a few feet before he skidded to a halt, breathing hard as he used his metallic thumb to wipe a trickle of dark red blood from the corner of his mouth.

Fluttering down to flap beside Zen, Ace said indignantly, <Would you stop your blatant insubordination and do as you’re commanded?>

<By that kid? Guess again,> Zen scoffed, readying another Aura Sphere at Harleking. <Eat this!> He cried, flinging forward the orange-sized ball of energy careening for the seemingly fragile Fighting type.

Chen saw this coming a mile off and said, “C’mon, Sapph... work with me here! Champ, you know what to do!”

“You too, Harleking,” Lhi added to his Pokémon. “Be sure not to miss.”

<Yes, Master,> the Harleking muttered as the Aura Sphere was seconds away from impact.

<Aright! Let’s wrassel!> Champ bellowed, stepping in front of his partner and taking a second pulsing attack to the chest, shuddering slightly, but showing no other form of injury.

“He can’t take two attacks at the same time,” Sapph mused to himself. Aloud he ordered, “OK, we’re focusing on the Machamp first! Ace, use Aerial Ace! Zen, As soon as she hits, use Confusion!”

<Yes, sir!> Ace said, swooping high into the sky and looping back into another speedy assault.

“Now it’s time for us to attack,” Lhi said calmly. “If you will, Brother Chen... Harleking...”

Nodding, Chen turned to Champ and said, “Alrighty, buddy! Time for the Tag-team Rush!”

“What’s the Tag-team Rush?” Haley wondered aloud. T.J. shrugged, his green eyes on the four Pokémon as the next few seconds seemed to lengthen before his very eyes...

Ace was about five seconds away... Champ clasped his lower arms behind him in a leg-up fashion...

Four seconds... Harleking stepped onto the lift and sprang into the air. Ace, as her eyes were closed didn’t see this happening...

Three seconds... Harleking planted his foot into the juggernaut’s shoulder, and cocked back his left palm as Ace came closer...

Two seconds... Zen, in a fit of disobedience, turned to face his opposition sideways and with a stomp of his heel sent a row of boulders rising from the ground in a wave straight for the Machamp...

One second... Harleking brought down his palm onto Ace’s head sharply, discharging a blast of fighting energy as he did so and numbing the poor bird’s mind. In that instant time seemed to speed up for T.J. again as Machamp slammed two Dynamic Punches into the dizzy Flying type, sending her screeching backwards... right into the Ancientpower attack.

The onslaught of consecutive (and super effective) attacks would have been too much for any other Flying type to take. Due to the rigorous training she had undergone in her colony days, Ace somehow hung on, despite being severely wounded as the Harleking landed neatly on his toes, his blank, impassive face one of indifference.

“I think that’s the Tag-team Rush, Haley,” T.J. said in shock.

“No fooling,” Haley murmured back. “How Ace keeps flying after all the stuff she’s taken throughout this journey... I’m just glad she’s on Sapph’s side...”

“Zen, why’d you use Ancientpower?” Sapph demanded. “They’re Fighting types; using Psychic type moves is our best shot of succeeding...”

<Sorry, kid,> Zen said with a tone that plainly said that he wasn’t sorry in the slightest. <But I’m fighting this fight my way.>

“Would it kill you to try a little team work for once?” Sapph said indignantly.

<Hmm, let’s think,> Zen said, pulling a look of serious thought. <Yes, it will.>

And without a backwards look, Zen ran straight for the fighting type Pokémon, his cybernetic left hand raised with the purpose of decking them.

“This has gone on long enough,” Lhi said softly. “Brother Chen?”

“Well, all right,” Chen agreed, nodding once to his Pokémon.

As Zen got close enough, he thrust his fist forward, looking like he’d finally score a clean hit on the Harlequin Pokémon... only for his arm to jam inches from Harleking’s face.

<Damned!> Zen thought, too close and moving too fast to stop as Harleking’s form seemed to ripple like water before his very eyes as Harleking leaned back and out of harm’s path, leaving an expectant Machamp waiting... with no pleasurable agenda in mind.

Zen’s world went from just plain bad to black as the Machamp seized him by the face with one dustbin cover-sized palm and lifting him bodily by the head, proceeded to smash Zen into the stone floor, back first. Zen’s body erupted in pain all over as the force of Zen’s collision with the earth sent him flying about three feet into the air and into a world of dizzying pain.

“Ace, you need to help him!” Sapph cried out. “Use Cyclone!”

<Yes, Sir!> Ace said through gritted beak, and rising into the air, spun herself into a tornado once more and shot towards the defenceless Superpower Pokémon.

“Oh, no you don’t, Sapphire,” Lhi said staunchly. “Harleking! Let’s block that attack!”

Harleking nodded once to show his compliance, and using its high speed rotation, dug its palms under the freshly-unearthed rocks used by Zen’s Ancientpower attack and sent them flying towards the tip of the spinning wind serpent that was Ace with a Russian Lariat motion.

Sapph winced as they made contact, forcing Ace out of the spin and looping back painfully, her strength fading fast. A loud sound coming from Zen and Machamp’s general direction distracted him though, and as he watched, Zen was kicked in the small of his back like a soccer ball thirty feet into the air with a painful gargle.

Crouching low, Champ propelled himself into the air using his lower body strength until he came up level with Zen’s limp body. Zen took the chance to lash back with an impromptu midair Rolling Kick, which Champ blocked by catching the kick in his bare hand. Snatching hold of Zen’s metallic arm as gravity began to arrest their movement through the air, the Machamp spun once, twice and with an earth-shaking force, slammed Zen into the ground... chest first.

Many a monk winced and Haley clapped a hand to her mouth in horror as T.J. swore, “Damn... now that was a Seismic Toss...”

Zen’s face was screwed up in pain he was refusing to show, by closing his eyes tightly. As he felt himself being lifted bodily from the Zen-shaped dent he’d left in the ground by his left arm, Zen felt little strength left in his body to fight against the pressure building up in his false appendage. He dimly registered Chen and Sapph’s protests before with a splintering cacophony, he felt the limb that had given him the opportunity to carry on fighting for a year, his lifeline to being completely whole...

...shatter into a billion pieces of metallic shrapnel.

Bored, Champ tossed the Taebrawl to the floor where he landed on his already tender chest and skidded to an ungainly halt still on his belly about eight feet away. Jeers and disappointed sounds filled the air as spectators began to protest at the treatment Zen had received or at the Combatant Pokémon, telling him not to get up again and just lie there. Opening one saffron eye painfully as he raised his oddly-lopsided body up slightly, he stared up into the crowd... where one face made his world come crashing down around his ears, trebling the aches and pain his bruised body was feeling in comminute spasms.

For in the crowd, even amongst a sea of strangers’ faces... his stood out sharply, vividly... transparently clear...

He hadn’t changed at all since they had parted ways for what seemed like a lifetime ago to Zen... the same crew cut... the same moustache... the same face... only the eyes seemed different now: cold, appraising and... disappointed.

Zen began to tremble as he saw to the man’s right, a small, grey muscly figure with a slight pot belly and the same red eyes and three cranial ridges as the Machamp seated quietly, watching his former confidante get the snot kicked out of him effortlessly. Zen could hardly believe they were here... could hardly believe the evidence his senses presented him with... that after a year of abandonment, of solitude... he’d look into the eyes of that man...

The man who’d laughed with him, supported him, kept him going when all seemed to stand against him up till a year ago, when the man, rather than face shameful exile, abandoned him, his most faithful friend...

<Master?>

*continued next post*​
 
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