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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 .

Saturn

New Member
Hey Air Dragon, obligatory statement of long time reader, first time poster. I am ashamed to admit that I've read this since before rewritten and only now am I getting around to reviewing it. (my excuse does involve cyrogenetically sustaining myself)

Anywhoo I've throughly enjoyed this story from the get go. Thank you for not presenting the usual let down of a new region where the author doesn't take the time to think before about they spew out another city out of nowhere (but city sprouting would be a cool superpower XD)

Btw Sapph and his entire team ftw

In closing sorry for not posting sooner, and hope you welcome me aboard the wonderful world of Corei

Thanks 4 reading, Saturn
 

Kindrindra

大事なのは自分らしいくある事
Oh, Sh**!
I thought I had reviewed! Damanations!

Anyway...
Oh... My... Gosh. Lavender as an umbreon puts the Oni in Dark. Like, Yikes. Keep her as far away from dark attacks as possible. She reminds me of the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors with her whole:
What? You want to win, don't you?
I luv Lunar Beam... but I'd give up seeing it again to stay away from UmbreLav.

Oh, and don't get me started about EspLav. My chair fell over when she unleashed Team Spirit. And, thanks to your amazing powers of description, I eternaly have a image of that poor Grovile's entire body suddering and cunvulsing as its entire body was encoated with scorching flames burned (No pun intended) into my mind... Yeowch. Oh, nice one, having her transform by barly nicking Grovile as he used agility. ^_^
Oh, wait... what would happen if she ended up imitating Zen's power? ...*Shudders at thought of her getting STAB with a Psychic type Hyper Beam*

Oh, something I've ment to ask for a while. Was the 'Wind Spirit' that aided them in their battle against Grass-obssesed team Shadow member a Legendary pokemon of sorts, or something else all-together? Oh, speaking of Team Shadow... when will we get to see Brisinger (Or whatever that awesome attack Houndoom used was) again? Cause that was one cool attack. Wait... you little devil. We still know nothing whatsoever about your legendaries! Hmm... *Begins to speculate*


See Ya Later!... And I can't wait for the next chapter!
 

shac

Well-Known Member
Okay, so I just caught up with you........I discovered this AWESOME fic. last Tuesday, and after two sleepless nights, a couple of Aspirins and a minor back ache I have finally completed the last chapter.

This story just keeps getting better with every new chapter. While I really do not like the Team Shadow interruptions (I never liked the evil gangs of the pokemon world!), and I do tend to skip portions where they come out and dilute the plot, I must say that the rest of it - the battles, the romances, the pokemon themselves - are just soooo great that I could hardly stop reading it all in one sitting.

My hugs to Lavender (when you're an eevee, that is) and salute to Ace (you are so cool and composed!). These two are my most favorite characters.

I am still not sure if I got the mage-stuff correctly (sometimes your brain becomes less receptive if you are depriving yourself of timely sleeps), but what a cool ploy that is!

I am still ****** at Clyff (how come he got to be a gym-leader? I thought all gym leaders are saints or something)..............I do hope someday Sapph will face him again and burst his *** into smithereens. And I never could believe how Rubin turned out to be like. I thought he was a Drew, but what he did to Clara was so uncool! I do hope there's some explanations to that kinda behavior, and that he simply just does not turn out to be a jerk. I am loving where you are going with Kamren - at first I hated him, then I sorta started to feel sorry for him, then I begin to grow respect for him, and now I think I actually like him. Man, can't wait for the Sapph vs. Kamren final showdown.........(umm, there will be one, right? RIGHT?)

Another thing I can't wait for is Might! I soooo miss those robotic speeches!! Why aren't you bringing in the reserves already? They will get character development, right? I mean, I do understand that it can get crammy to deal with half a dozen wayward guys and then some, but I will surely like to see how that ice-jackal does in a pokemon battle.

To end this, I salute you for this cool creation! I do hope you will keep returning with more awesome chapters. And do write me in on the PM list, please!

Hiyya Crimson, buddy, do one thing, try absorbing some dark energy sometime soon, and see how it turns out to be like!! :)

P.S. I guess, this will be longest I'll ever write to you. So don't snap if the later ones turn out to be one-liners. Cheers!
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Time's up!

@Saturn:

Hey Air Dragon, obligatory statement of long time reader, first time poster. I am ashamed to admit that I've read this since before rewritten and only now am I getting around to reviewing it. (my excuse does involve cyrogenetically sustaining myself)
LOL... well you're here now, so all's forgiven.

Evil AD: Says who? *gives evil eye*

Anywhoo I've throughly enjoyed this story from the get go. Thank you for not presenting the usual let down of a new region where the author doesn't take the time to think before about they spew out another city out of nowhere (but city sprouting would be a cool superpower XD)
Meh, I'd rather have Space/Time manipulation as a superpower... ;)

Btw Sapph and his entire team ftw
A Sapph fan! I'm glad, I was afraid I messed up my protagonist's persona. Wish i did a better job on him, like I did with Kamren.

In closing sorry for not posting sooner, and hope you welcome me aboard the wonderful world of Corei

Thanks 4 reading, Saturn
Welcome to Corei!

Thanks for reviewing, Air Dragon. XD

@Kindrindra:

Oh, Sh**!
I thought I had reviewed! Damanations!
O...K... take it easy... :p

Anyway...
Oh... My... Gosh. Lavender as an umbreon puts the Oni in Dark. Like, Yikes. Keep her as far away from dark attacks as possible. She reminds me of the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors with her whole:
Quote:
What? You want to win, don't you?
I luv Lunar Beam... but I'd give up seeing it again to stay away from UmbreLav.
UmbreLav is teh mistress of EEVIL! MUAHAHAHA!

Oh, and don't get me started about EspLav. My chair fell over when she unleashed Team Spirit. And, thanks to your amazing powers of description, I eternaly have a image of that poor Grovile's entire body suddering and cunvulsing as its entire body was encoated with scorching flames burned (No pun intended) into my mind... Yeowch. Oh, nice one, having her transform by barly nicking Grovile as he used agility. ^_^
Oh, wait... what would happen if she ended up imitating Zen's power? ...*Shudders at thought of her getting STAB with a Psychic type Hyper Beam*
Nah, I don't think there will be a Psychic Hyper Beam... well, for now. You never know...;)

Oh, something I've ment to ask for a while. Was the 'Wind Spirit' that aided them in their battle against Grass-obssesed team Shadow member a Legendary pokemon of sorts, or something else all-together? Oh, speaking of Team Shadow... when will we get to see Brisinger (Or whatever that awesome attack Houndoom used was) again? Cause that was one cool attack. Wait... you little devil. We still know nothing whatsoever about your legendaries! Hmm... *Begins to speculate*
Yerse..... speculate! Wonder! Drown in the bowels of mystery! ahahahaha!

*slaps self*

See Ya Later!... And I can't wait for the next chapter!
Can't wait to let you guys have it!

@MerlockVonBaron:

sorry for not giving you a shout out often but been busy working cant wait till see my oc in the act again
That makes two of us...

@shac:

Okay, so I just caught up with you........I discovered this AWESOME fic. last Tuesday, and after two sleepless nights, a couple of Aspirins and a minor back ache I have finally completed the last chapter.
Two sleepless nights?! Wow, You must really like this... :)

This story just keeps getting better with every new chapter. While I really do not like the Team Shadow interruptions (I never liked the evil gangs of the pokemon world!), and I do tend to skip portions where they come out and dilute the plot, I must say that the rest of it - the battles, the romances, the pokemon themselves - are just soooo great that I could hardly stop reading it all in one sitting.
Well, the Shadow's role will grow gradually. They're presently the reason behind a lot of evil on the continent and help create scenarios for Sapph's team to grow more powerful (Ace and Zen especially)

My hugs to Lavender (when you're an eevee, that is) and salute to Ace (you are so cool and composed!). These two are my most favorite characters.
Wow, that makes you the first Ace fan! I think...

I am still not sure if I got the mage-stuff correctly (sometimes your brain becomes less receptive if you are depriving yourself of timely sleeps), but what a cool ploy that is!
Don't worry. Like the Shadow and Light, they're not a significant plot element... yet

I am still ****** at Clyff (how come he got to be a gym-leader? I thought all gym leaders are saints or something)..............I do hope someday Sapph will face him again and burst his *** into smithereens.
Well, Fuego's no saint either. You get all kinds with humans. No one's exactly pure good or evil. We're all varying shades of gray.

And I never could believe how Rubin turned out to be like. I thought he was a Drew, but what he did to Clara was so uncool! I do hope there's some explanations to that kinda behavior, and that he simply just does not turn out to be a jerk. I am loving where you are going with Kamren - at first I hated him, then I sorta started to feel sorry for him, then I begin to grow respect for him, and now I think I actually like him. Man, can't wait for the Sapph vs. Kamren final showdown.........(umm, there will be one, right? RIGHT?)
Well, to put it bluntly, Rubin is sort of like Drew and Harley rolled into one. As a prodigy, he will let no one stand in his path to the top. Although the line he toes gets thinner and thinner, few people try to stop him as they look at him and either fawn or proclaim proudly about him.

Yay for Kamren! He is possibly the character that has undergone the most character development in the whole fic, next to Anuvi and Zen, I think. I'm really glad he's developed, but still want to retain his dark side, sort of like an anti-hero. it's getting harder, but still... I'm not exactly gonna give up!

Another thing I can't wait for is Might! I soooo miss those robotic speeches!! Why aren't you bringing in the reserves already? They will get character development, right? I mean, I do understand that it can get crammy to deal with half a dozen wayward guys and then some, but I will surely like to see how that ice-jackal does in a pokemon battle.
Your questions make it hard to surprise you people. :(

Ah well, they'll return sooner than you think... ;)

To end this, I salute you for this cool creation! I do hope you will keep returning with more awesome chapters. And do write me in on the PM list, please!
Thanks, and done!

Hiyya Crimson, buddy, do one thing, try absorbing some dark energy sometime soon, and see how it turns out to be like!!
Again with the questions... It's actually an idea i'm playing with. but i'm thinking maybe three elements is enough.

Just maybe...

P.S. I guess, this will be longest I'll ever write to you. So don't snap if the later ones turn out to be one-liners. Cheers!
Relax. I get a lot of one-liners and they're still alive... for now.

And now, to the main issue at hand:

As of midnight today, the deadline for OC entry closed. I still have slots open, but I'm gonna fill them myself. But if you get some ideas in sharpish (say by the weekend), I might consider them.

Our OC finalists for the Corei League are from
YamiRubi
Divinity_123
Kindrindra
Araleon
Saturn

and MerlockVonBaron will reappear in the Trigello Tournament.

Now that today's a holiday of sorts (here in Ghana, I mean) it's time to get cracking on the next chappie!

If you'll all excuse me...

L@er!
 

Araleon

Chill
Sweet! My character gets to be in the League.

<Jackson's team does a dance>

Ok, I'm looking forward to seeing Brian (man, it's been so long I'm not sure this was his name, it was Brian, right?) again, he was an awesome character.
 

Evil_Lord

Active Member
Hmmm, have fun explaining why Bryan came back.

Also, I've just finished reading this story(again)I thought I posted quite a while ago on it, but I guess not D: What can I say? You're an amazing writer, and your ideas never cease to amaze me. Also, idc what you say, Anuvi will evolve in this fic again........or else.

Omg, Mighty the now shiny Magnemite would be pretty underleveled by now and I assume on it's return it will evolve;)

Huskup sounds cool and so does the abandoned Tentacruel.

Dragon Cove, I can't wait. Btw, the wind spirit is awesome.


Oh, and one more thing, the essence bearers on Sapph's team are Anuvi, Crimson, Zen Nd Arcana, right?













Still not done. I'd love to be on the pm list. Also, I'd love Sapph to just pan some famous trainer in the first round of the league. OH! Old Granny was the champion once upon a time?
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
One of those 'I'm Alive' posts...

As the title suggests, this is sadly not the update we all wish it would be.

Before people started to think I'd forgotten about this fic, and to assure people that Brian would have a good reason to come back, I'd like to set the record straight, and let you know why there isn't "TCQ #39" Splashed across the top of this post.

1. I just got engrossed in platinum and have decided to will myself to finish it before HG/SS comes out. Weak reason, but it's very deserving of its spot on the 'things that waste my days' list

2. I'm still working and that's taking a considerable chunk out of my time and mood.

3. In addition to attending MCSE classes five days a week from 7-10 a.m. my time, I have another test to prepare for next week, and as I hate to retake tests, I'm gonna have to put my best effort into passing first time.

4. The ideas are there in my mind, but the fingers remain stiff and stubborn.

5. I've so many reviews to dish out, i dunno where to turn first...

6. I'm toying with ideas for NaNoWriMo this year, and that's not healthy for a fic like this' continuation (for the last time, I'M NOT QUITTIN'!).

7. The net has being a pain in the butt for the past two days, which is why I'm posting this apology now before it starts acting up again.

and that's what's been going on in the life of me.

But rest assured, I'm making progress in my regular, snail's pace. If i'd stuck to the plan, we'd be in the early 40s by now, and for not being able to keep to this is no one's fault but my own.

I'm going to try going all out tomorrow. For real. The deadline may be extended by this post, but i'm not gonna abuse it... If by some miracle I get it done tomorrow, It will be put here immediately.

Again, sorry for all delays... gotta get some Z's before I go to class again today.

L@er!
 

shac

Well-Known Member
Good to know you are still at it. I was beginning to worry. But I do understand how messy life can get sometimes, though it does not help the hopeful readers to be patient; that's sad............
 

LadyMiir

Nat. Dex COMPLETE!!!
... I just spent 3 hours reading this fic, and I am absolutely blown away. I love your Fakemon, and the real ones too. This was fantastic, and I'm looking forward to the next update.
 

Kindrindra

大事なのは自分らしいくある事
Ah. I know what you mean with the whole platinum thing. And tests.. and thinking about other creative things...

Well, I'll just say I can't wait for the next chap! But take all the time you want, after all, I don't want you to keel over and die... just yet. (Just Kidding about those last two words).


See Ya Later!
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Sneak peek!

@shac, MerlockVonBaron and Kindrindra (and all who share their sentiments): you guys are the best. Now i feel like a heel...

@LadyMiir: Welcome to Corei! Glad you're liking the journey thus far! Best buckle up though, cuz things are gonna get wild!

Everybody calm down! I have something I want to say...

Firstly, I want to apologize for the inordinately, insanely long time it's taking to get this done. You alll don't deserve this waiting game crap i'm putting you through...

Secondly, I've come to the decision to inform you that I'm going to renumber the chapters, add a few and rearrange others. As the first special was given a number and the decision apparently debated thoroughly, it has dawned on me that it wouldn't be fair to keep treating you this way. and given the amount of detail i intend to throw into the next 'arc' of the story, it is only reasonable to do so.

Next, after analyzing how insanely long this chapter's going to be, i'm deciding to split it into two. this is not to restore the chapter count to normal, but to ease up the pressure on all parties involved (you, my readers, and me)

Lastly, I wish to apologize for what comes next before you shoot me with a rocket launcher. But i feel that, after waiting so long, you deserve a bit of a sneak peek at the newly renamed Chapter 38, 'Where the Truth Lies':

Half an hour after her battle with Rachel, Haley left the Trigello Tournament Office, having successfully registered Tempest as part of her line up for the tournament.

“Well, that’s that,” Haley said, clapping her hands as the bright sun gleamed from the brow of her ten gallon hat. Looking around at the crowds that thronged all over the plaza, she muttered, “Now to wait for Sapph to get back from the Dragon Cove. I probably should train Tempest a bit, but according to the staff, the Tournament’s already...”

“Excuse me,” a voice said in her ear behind her. “But did you say Sapph? As in Mr. Sapphire 'Sapph' Manson?”

Haley swivelled around and came face to face with a youth who seemed to be several years older than herself. His red eyes sparkled in the sunlight which shone off his ebony locks.

“Depends,” Haley said cautiously. “Who’s asking?”

“So you did say Sapph,” the mystery boy said cheerfully, his bright facial expression reflected in his manner of speech and ease at which he carried himself. “You must be Haley Kent.”

“OK, buddy,” Haley said, mildly creeped out. “First of all, how did you know who I am? Second, how do you know Sapph? And most importantly, who in blue hell are you?”

“Whoa, whoa,” the boy said genially, taking his hands out of the pockets of his black leather jacket and raising them in surrender. “I’m sorry. Orion’s my name, and I’m a field commander of the AGENTs.”
That should raise a few "What the hell?"s in your mind, but now that I've done this, I will work harder (or as hard as my schedule will allow me) to get this thing done!

OK, L@er!
 

KingT

Burn
Hello Air Dragon. I've been a closet reader for some time, and I just wanted to notify you of my existence. So without further adieu...

I exist.

So there you go. I''l be waiting for next installment with bated breath. Ciao.
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Finally! It's been long enough!

@KingT: welcome aboard. And thank you for saving me the trouble to double post. I wouldn't have enjoyed that. Your wait is finally over...

To all who have waited so eagerly, I'm truly sorry for keeping you. I've made you wait for some time, haven't I? I have no excuse in addition to the slew I've fed you these past, what... six months? I feel terrible and must explain something: This chapter is only half done.

I know you'd have wanted the full deal, but let's be reasonable. This alone was 35 pages. If i had kept going and typed out the whole thing, you'd be looking at an Sppf record right here.This is part one of the Dragon Cove now double chapter, but I assure you, the second half will not suffer or lack in the action and intrigue departments because of the chapter split.

Without further ado, let's get back into the adventure...

A/N 1: I really need to contact a mod to change the title slightly. Having to say 'this chapter is rated T' every time is starting to get old...

A/N 2: Rachel Savina, Maverick and Tempest are not mine. They belong to Kanto Lover @ PokeCommunity Forums.

Chapter Thirty Eight: Where the Truth Lies​

“There it goes!”

“Don’t let it get away!”

A tail striped with alternating shades of lime and shiny forest green whipped around a large stone pillar, its owner panting desperately as it tensed its thin arms. The creature pressed itself to the damp, cold rock despite the discomfort it made it feel, its breath escaping its fanged mouth in small clouds of condensation.

The Flygon had no idea who the mystery people who had settled in the home of the Mystic Pokémon and his fellow Dragon Pokémon. They had kept to themselves mostly for the past couple of months, fiddling with contraptions that were otherworldly to the dragons. But they weren’t hurting them, so, save for the Gyarados, who were by nature violent and destructive, the majority of the Dragon Cove population left them alone.

Then, all of a sudden, things changed.

The strangers had sealed the inner caves off from the rest of the cove and begun hunting them and forcing their weird inventions upon them.

What the machines had done to his fellows, what they had become after the humans had completed their strange rituals on them... did more than upset the Flygon.

It scared him.

It had been four hours since the humans had set their sights on the Mystic Pokémon and though the floating reptile could have easily taken on his pursuers, he would not. He couldn’t hurt his comrades the strangers in black had set upon him, and perhaps, noticing this, had withdrawn those with violet ‘S’s embroidered to their morbid uniforms leaving the others to continue the hunt.

The coarse voices of his pursuers grew louder as Flygon gulped in large dollops of air as though each breath was his last. Light filled the cavernous room as four grunts trotted into the area, torches held aloft as they began to scan the room for signs of the Flygon.

Ducking low behind the boulder, the dragon Pokémon held his breath.

“The beast doesn’t seem to have lingered, Hal,” one of the hunters called to another in a feminine voice. “Do you propose we should carry on?”

“Hmm,” another one hummed, apparently thinking hard.

“Who cares what you think, Anya?” A rough voice snarled. “I say the beast’s still in here and say we should...”

“No one gives a toss, you overgrown tosh-pot,” a fourth, clipped voice said sharply. “Hal’s in charge here, remember, Blake?!”

“Watch yer flap, boy!” Blake said fiercely. The Flygon winced at the sharpness of his voice. “Speak out o’ turn ter me again an’ I’ll slap tha’ smart yacker o’ yo’rs sideways, Kevin!”

“Enough,” the one called Hal said softly. Their target guessed it was their leader who spoke even without being able to see them from behind the rock as the violent Blake became instantly quelled. “It’s obvious where our target is hiding...”

The Flygon’s heart began to beat a violent tattoo against its chest.

“It’s over there!” Hal roared, startling the Flygon so badly it backed away from the boulder and hit the wall behind him with a dull thump, sending loose gravel skittering down to the cavern floor. The three men and the woman turned around and the oldest and stoutest, with silvery white hair locked his violet eyes onto the Mystic Pokémon’s red-lensed ones and muttered, “Got you.”

All four humans drew red and white pokéballs from their belts and threw them in unison calling out, “Get him!”

Anya and Kevin pokéballseach released a richly coloured blue bipedal creature of medium height with sharp faces and sharper teeth and claws. Their red underbellies gave the impression that they were carnivorous and messy eaters and their large sharp looking fins that adorned their upper limbs, tails and back (Kevin’s creature had one less notch that the other one on its back fin).

Blake’s, the other hand, yielded a much more terrifying version of Anya and Kevin’s Gabite. Aside from its darker colouring, larger size and longer claws, the Garchomp looked every bit as mean as its trainer as it opened its fanged maw and released a threatening growl into the damp air, its crimson underbelly rising and falling with the sheer ecstasy injuring his opponent usually brought it.

Hal had unleashed a large orange draconian Pokémon of roughly the same height as the Mach Pokémon, with large leathery wings, a long tail and a mean look in its left sky blue eye. Its right eye was closed and a grisly scar ran down the length of the right side of its face clean across the eyelid. The end of its tail burned with a brilliant red and gold fire and it folded its thinner than usual arms across its chest as it fixed its one eyed stare on the terrified Flygon.

“Gabite, use Dragon Rush!” Anya and Kevin called in unison.

“Slash ‘im good, Garchomp!” Blake roared; his voice full on blood lust. “Show no mercy!”

The three Ground/Dragon Pokémon took off running, Blake’s a little ahead of the others. Anya and Kevin’s begun glowing vivid purple as they dashed in from both flanks, attempting to pincer the Flygon as Blake’s Garchomp took a great leap and bore down from above, his long claw poised to strike a vicious blow.

Cornered and with nowhere to run, the Flygon’s eyes widened fearfully as he watched each of the Dragon Pokémon close in one after the other. In the seemingly infinitesimal pause between its opponents’ charge and the connection of their attacks, the Flygon’s heavily suppressed instinct warred with his exceedingly gentle nature. He didn’t want to fight his comrades. Yet he didn’t want to be caught. He knew what he must do, and it would take all his restraint not to overdo it. As the Garchomp’s yellow-tipped snout closed in, the Mystic Pokémon closed its eyes and exhaled softly.

<Praying won’t save you now!> Blake’s Mach Pokémon roared barbarically as it slashed down as viciously as possible and its wrist met scaly palm: the Flygon, in apparent desperation, had raised its clawed hands and caught the falling Garchomp’s claw inches away from its face. Loosing a musical cry the Flygon made two wide, pointed swings at his other attackers, whilst still holding his larger foe.

With two sickening thwacks, the other Cave Pokémon were sent soaring back towards their trainers’ feet like meteors, creating craters and mild tremors in the rocky floor as they impacted. Another musical cry later, the third and larger one followed, thrown straight at Hal’s Charizard like a two hundred miles-per-hour fastball. Stepping backwards calmly, Hal and his Blaze Pokémon let the unfortunate Garchomp hit the ground at their feet. Unlike the others, Blake’s Garchomp hit the floor hard and didn’t get up.

The Charizard gazed up as the hovering Flygon as the first two Pokémon to fall rose uncertainly, favouring their injured limbs and breathing in a haggard manner. The Flygon looked horror-struck at what it had done whilst Hal’s Charizard looked at the floating Mystic Pokémon with one-eyed interest.

The Flygon backed away in midair as Hal muttered, “Interesting. It fought back. It never did before...”

<So... you can fight,> his Charizard growled as he beheld his ‘underlings’ staggering back onto their serrated legs. <What kept you?>

The Flygon let out a saddened cry and without a coherent word sped off down a side tunnel in an attempt to lose its pursuers.

“Darn it!” the youth named Kevin cried out in frustration. “Get up, Gabby, we gotta get after that limey!”

“You too, Gabite!” Anya egged on remorselessly. “Pick up the pace!”

“Give it a rest,” a low voice growled. “You lot have done your part.”

Another man stepped into the cavern; his frightful eyes locked on the cave opening where the Flygon had vanished into. A blood red bandanna and long tattered admiral’s coat gilded with gold flapped and fanned out behind him as he strode towards the defeated foursome.

“That was pathetic, Hal,” he growled, his yellow eyes boring into their leader’s calm ones. “Is this the strength of the elite Hunters unit? Miserable...”

“Captain Doracus!” Kevin and Anya gasped in shocked unison, bowing swiftly with their left arm across their chest as Hal’s Charizard scowled at the Team Shadow Captain’s slight on their abilities. “Forgive our disgrace, Sir!”

“That’ll do, you bunglers,” the large, bearlike man growled, his mouth a severe line above his full black beard. “So much for the elite... at least we know now that it won’t attack Dragon types that were originally raised here.”

“Sir!” Anya said loudly. “Give us one more chance, Sir!”

“I think not,” Doracus said acidly. “You’ve done your part. Now, report to the Trident for recovery and debriefing. The Dragon Squad grunts will take it from here.”

As Doracus strode off back down the tunnel from which he entered, Kevin found his voice again and spluttered, “D-debriefed, Sir?”

“That’s correct, Braggan,” Doracus said without looking back. “Your role ends here. You’re all getting reassigned for your failure.”

And without another word, the Team Shadow Captain swept off down the rocky passage to rally the next group of pursuers.

Rounding on their leader Blake roared, “What cha yeh do nothing fer, Hal? Yer coulda taken it on, no pro’lem, yer slimy coward!”

“That’s enough, Gavington,” Hal said meditatively, returning his Charizard before he reduced his subordinate to a smouldering briquette. “We’ve done our part...”

“More like you did nothing,” Blake snarled under his breath, shooting daggers at Hal as he also returning his fallen Garchomp and huffing off towards the Trident.

“Why did you do nothing, Commander?” Anya inquired in a much calmer albeit hurt voice. “You would have won without a doubt!”

“Would I, Setskha?” Hal muttered quietly. “I wonder if Doracus’s unwitting pride and determination to acquire that Flygon will push him to bite off more than he can chew...”

“And as for how they treat us,” Hal added in an undertone. “They shall receive their just desserts in due time. I promise you that.”

***​

A small white motor boat jetted across the foamy surf, its two occupants tense as the yawning mouth of the national Dragon type reserve drew nearer. The pilot swept her short light brown hair back and called to the boy hunched near the prow, “We’ll be there in ten minutes. Just who is in those caves, anyways?”

Her ‘first mate’ looked back and holding back his near shoulder length locks to see her better, replied, “My guess is Team Shadow. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this before either. Did you hear about the Pidgey Postal incident at Chinooka City? ”

“Bits and pieces,” Nicola Brambles replied in a preoccupied tone as she began to steer their vessel past the first wave of sharp rocks. “Are you saying that they were behind it?”

“Yeah,” Sapph agreed, his blue eyes fixed once more upon his destination. “Looks like a repeat performance on a bigger scale.”

Steeling her eyes, Nicola said sternly, “Well, if it is, we’ll have to stop it!”

Sapph nodded in reply, adding to himself, before it’s too late.

The last few minutes of the journey passed in silence as Nicola expertly steered the small craft into a sheltered cave half-submerged by the rising tide. Sapph looked up at the imposing red iron gates that led to the inner sanctuary, lost in thought about the task ahead, and wondering if it was a mistake coming here with only Anuvi and Zen available.

<You worry too much, kid,> a calm voice chided him with a bite of amusement.

Sapph started as the sound of his Jutunkick Zen’s filled his mind. Pulling off the Combatant Pokémon’s pokéball, he stared at it and could almost see the chimp-like Pokémon grinning back as he continued, <You know we can handle anything they throw at us. Besides, they usually surprise us. This time...>

“... we’ll be surprising them,” Sapph finished in an undertone, now grinning himself. “Gotcha.”

“Who are you talking to?” Nicola said quizzically.

“Never mind,” Sapph replied quickly.

Pulling up to the rocky shore, Nicola leapt nimbly from the boat and onto the slick, smooth ‘pier’ of sorts that the tides of centuries past had created. Sapph tossed her a rope and she began to pull the boat in. When it seemed close enough for the boy trainer, he took a great spring off the boat, slipped upon his landing and cracked the back of his head frightfully against the stone floor.

Sweat dropping slightly, Nicola stifled a scream and rushed to his side, where he laid curled up, his hands upon his head.

Shaking his shoulder urgently, Nicola hissed in worried tones, “Sapph? Sapph! Can you hear me? Do you feel alright?”

“Owww,” Sapph groaned, curling up tighter as Nicola’s whispers sounded like clashing cymbals in his head. “I can feel a lot, Nicola... and it’s all in pain.”

Helping her friend up and slapping the back of his head scoldingly, she chided, “Quit goofing off, and let’s go then!”

Sapph rubbed the back of his head gingerly, scowling as he watched her take the nearby flight of stairs at a trot, “No, you’d think I did that on purpose, wouldn’t you?”

“Hello, trying to get into a cave filled with terrorists surreptitiously?” Nicola whispered angrily. “Keep your head low and your voice down too!”

Muttering darkly, Sapph followed Nicola up a flight of smooth hewn steps at a sprint, taking in the scenery as the stairway rose in a spiral all around the cave.

Beads of condensation gleamed like gems from the rocky spikes that grew from the cave floor and ceiling, some joining in the middle of the space between. A disjointed snarl and growl wavered out at them as they mounted the stairs in a hurried yet silent manner, Sapph nervously fingering the two pokéballs at his belt, and hoping he wouldn’t need them too badly.

A rocky partition rose from the middle of the stairwell halfway up, splitting the stairs into left and right roads. Without pausing, Nicola whispered again, “Head down and voice low, Sapph...” before skirting up the smaller and shadowed left stairwell, ignoring the right one entirely.

“Where are we going?” Sapph hissed as they passed the pair of cold blue doors embellished with many weathered looking embossments that rose in an imposing manner off to their right as they continued to climb. Two sentries stood guard there causing Sapph and Nicola to slow down lest their footsteps gave them away. Taking cover behind several large rocks that kept the staircase split into left and right halves, Sapph jerked his thumb back at the large doors he asked, “Wasn’t that a way in to the cove?”

“We’re already in the Cove, silly,” Nicola panted in a slightly huffed tone. “We need to get into the Dragon Catacombs – or inner sanctum – now. Without being caught,” she added as Sapph opened his mouth again. “That was a well-known entrance. No doubt it would be heavily guarded,” she added as a footnote, pointing unnecessarily at the Team Shadow grunts that stood guard.

“Right,” Sapph said slowly as they continued to ascend. “So we’re heading for a concealed entrance or something?”

“Clever boy,” Nicola said in a cooing voice, affecting another stab of annoyance towards his guide.

After a few more minutes’ ascent in huffy silence, Nicola said calmly, “Here we are, Sapph. We go in through here.”

Sapph reached the landing and looked to his right again and saw, niched behind a large moss covered boulder a second, smaller steel door, this one newer that the first set they had passed earlier on.

“You sure this isn’t guarded?” Sapph said warily, giving the door an appraising look.

“Of course I’m sure,” Nicola said in affronted tones.

“Easy!” Sapph said nervously as he literally saw sparks begin to fly. “I’ll take your word for it, OK?” As Nicola continued to glare, Sapph decided to take the initiative and go first. Laying his hand upon the handle he said, “Let’s go...”

<Hold it, kid.>

“Zen?” Sapph said in surprised as his Jutunkick’s voice resounded in his head once again. “What’s wrong?”

Before Nicola could ask who he was talking to this time, two blasts of white and green light filled the narrow space revealing Sapph’s Squirrage Anuvi and his telepathic brawler Zen the Jutunkick.

“A Squirrage, hunh?” Nicola said, somewhat impressed by Anuvi’s appearance. “No wonder you beat Grandpa...”

<Anyways,> Zen said waspishly, not at all used to being ignored. <There’s someone on the other side of the door.>

“What did it say, Sapph?” Nicola asked impatiently as Anuvi walked slowly to the door and placed a broad forepaw to it, his eyes fluttering shut as he concentrated.

“Zen said there’s someone guarding here too...” Sapph answered quickly. Turning to his Warrior Pokémon, he asked in an undertone, “What are you doing?”

<Trying to sense how many more people are back there,> Anuvi said calmly. <Where are Lav and the others?>

<I’m guessing back at Utopia Island, Fearless Leader,> Zen answered wittily. Turning to Sapph, he added in a low voice, <I don’t sense any presence down the right side of the passage.>

Nicola had joined Anuvi at the door and was likewise examining the door more closely as well. Straightening up, she announced awkwardly, “The door’s locked. From the inside. That’s odd, it never has been before...”

“’Locked’?” Sapph echoed in disbelief. “Locked?!”

<Some guide,> Zen thought with some eye-rolling, making a gesture with his head to Anuvi, who took the hint and stepped aside.

“We’ll have to keep going up,” Nicola said in a manner that suggested she was trying to save face. “There are some concealed air ve-“

A loud, high-pitched keen shot through the corridor, causing Sapph, Anuvi and Nicola to swivel around at Zen, whose palm was raised at a neat, circular hole in the door. Sapph peered through and saw the guard rendered completely insensible by the Aura Sphere that had thrown him into the opposite wall, where his head had undoubtedly hit stone.

<Unlocked,> Zen said in a satisfied voice, lowering his palm slowly and reaching through the hole to open it with a low clunk.

“ARE... YOU... INSANE?!” Nicola spluttered indignantly. “What did you do? What if others turn up to investigate?”

<Relax, Nicola,> Anuvi said in his calm voice, shooting Zen a stern look nonetheless. <It’s not like Zen killed him...>

“And with all the shouting you’ve done lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes round to see what went down here,” Sapph said snarkily. Recalling Anuvi and Zen, he pushed the door open and disappeared around the right side of the door frame. “Are you coming or what?”

“That guy’s nuts,” Nicola gasped as she pelted after Sapph’s receding footsteps, away from the dozens that could be heard coming up from the other end of the corridor to investigate the source of the disturbance.

***​

Back on the shores of Utopia Island, a young pre-teenage girl stood on the sandy beach near the sea, the brisk breeze whipping her reddish blonde hair about. A red and white sphere reflected the glorious sunlight that bathed the secluded stretch of beach in friendly warmth.

Haley opened her eyes and exhaling deeply, clutched the pokéball more tightly and letting it fly, called out, “OK, Royal, let’s see your stuff!”

The ball seemed to split along the middle line that separated the blurred red and white halves, releasing a torrent of blazing white light into the gentle surf. A moderately sized fish surfaced and fixed Haley with magnanimous blue eyes.

Squatting down to bring her face to a closer level with the steel grey fish, Haley said, “Hey. I’m Haley, your new trainer...”

<I know, little girl,> the creature said shortly, the two thin strips that flowed from either side of its horn rippling lazily. <Don’t waste your breath, or my time.>

Taken aback by the Browler’s brusque nature, Haley decided to opt for the gentle way of breaking in her newest team mate. “Uhm, right.... OK! So, we just want to get a good idea of what you’ve got because we have a tournament coming up and we need to see how well you fit in. So if you could, oh, I don’t know...” she trailed off, her thoughts lost in her surroundings as the disc-shaped Pokémon attempted to avoid rolling its eyes with much difficulty.

Haley’s goose grey eyes fell on a boulder some ten feet off and said, “Ah, try Water Gun on that rock over there, would you?”

<Why...> the Browler said in a voice riddled with contempt, <would I want to do that?>

A vein began pulsing in Haley’s temple as she prayed for patience. “Just do it,” she said through slightly gritted teeth. “Please?” she added, in a desperate bid to be polite.

<I can’t.>

A couple seconds on ringing silence followed this statement before Haley yelped, “WHAT?”

<I forgot Water Gun ages ago,> Royal said smugly.

“Fine, whatever! Will you just use any water attack to hit... that... rock!” Haley snapped, her patience all but gone.

Royal glared at Haley for a second or so in an appraising manner, and inflating his bright blue underbelly and expelled a concentrated bullet of water towards the rock Haley had pointed out earlier, the force of the technique blowing him a couple of feet further out to sea. The Water Pulse sped on target but somehow before covering the full distance dropped in altitude and hit the sandy beach with a dull thud and skidded to a halt inches from the rock.

A loud peal of laughter shattered Haley’s preconception that she had privacy on the beach and caused her to stop sweat dropping long enough to turn around and glare at a slender girl clad in a scarlet jumpsuit clutching her sides in uncontrollable mirth.

A light brown quadruped with coffee brown paws and large green leaf like ears gave Haley and Royal a cynical glance at her heels, consumed with contempt at the Trawler Pokémon’s feeble attempt at Water Pulse. As his trainer began choking on her laughter, he said, <Was that it? I’ve seen Magikarp with more terrifying Splash attacks than that...>

<You braggart! Rogue! Come closer and say that again!> Royal snarled, blotchy red patches appearing on his scales as though badly sunburned.

<Yeah...> the Leafeon said sarcastically. <That’s gonna happen.>

“Just where do you Grass-loving hippies come from anyways?” Haley snarled angrily as she watched the Leafeon disdainfully.

The girl straightened up off the palm tree she’d slumped against in laughter and said coolly, “That wasn’t nice. Just because you see Maverick, it doesn’t mean I only raise Grass types.”

“Shut up!” Haley snapped. “All you Utopia Island freaks worship the stupid type! What else am I gonna think?!”

“You brat!” the girl said, her cool gone. “And here I thought Coreians were polite and easy to get along with! Or are you the queen of the Loudmouth Convention?”

“Brat?!” Haley echoed furiously. “How dare you?” Taking some calming breaths, she turned away and walking back towards where Royal floated in the crystalline water and said in a cold voice, “Come on, Royal. We’ve got practicing to do for the Trigello Tournament and don’t have the time to waste on nobodys!”

“Oh, yeah?” the girl said slyly. “You plan to compete in the Trigello at that level? Girl, please... you wouldn’t make it past Northern Isle...”

“What was that?!” Haley said, her rage rapidly approaching maximum. “I can dance circles around you and your little Leafeon in my sleep!”

“Oh, yeah?” the girl said again, leaping lightly onto the sandy beach and plucking a fresh pokéball off her belt. “Prove it.”

Rounding on the girl, Haley smirked, “Two on two. Double battle. Deal?”

The other girl shrugged dismissively. “Whatever, kid. Maverick, it’s game time. You too, Tempest!” she added with a shout as she launched her second pokéball at the waves with a backhand toss that Haley had to grudgingly admit to herself looked cool.

White light spilled from the orb onto the water, forming a large creature with a long neck and horned head. The light faded away to reveal a dark blue body, slate grey and knobbly shell and yellow bellied form of a Lapras.

Haley’s mouth fell open in a comical O as the creature’s coffee brown eyes locked on the small lime green quadruped which had trotted up to stand beside her on the beach. Speaking gently, she said in mild surprise, <You’ve evolved, Maverick. But how did that happen? I thought you would evolve when we went to Sinnoh after watching the Trigello Tournament.>

<Met a girl on the island this morning,> Maverick said in an offhand voice. <She had a shard of the Icy and Moss Rock on her. She had no objection to use using her Moss Rock. Saved us the trouble, though not the trip, I hope... I heard Sinnoh Leafeon are foxy...>

The large Transport Pokémon rolled her eyes and looked towards to the flash of light that had just receded revealing Haley’s level-headed Vaporeon, Vapor.

Yawning widely, Vapor took one look at Tempest and drawled lazily, <Oh, brilliant. Can we just say we’ve fought already and don’t? Not that I’m scared. I’m just not a fan of overexertion.>

<I’d rather we not fight either,> Tempest concurred. <But if Rachel wishes me to fight, then I have no objections to beating you into the dirt.>

<Aw, man,> Vapor said with a little groan. <Not cool.>

“Let’s go, guys!” Haley hollered, taking the initiative. “Vapor, Ice Beam the Leafeon! Royal, keep the Lapras occupied with Horn Attack!”

The Vaporeon sighed once more and opened his mouth slightly, a bluish white sphere of energy building up in his mouth. At the same time, Royal barrelled towards the stationary Lapras, his horn gleaming slightly in the sun.

Rachel shook her head grimly and muttered, “For a self-proclaimed Water type expert, you really are kinda clueless. Maverick, fall back and use Energy Ball! Tempest, use Thunderbolt now!”

Maverick leapt backwards as the Ice based attack was let loose, a ball of green energy growing in his mouth as he widened the gap between himself and his fellow Eeveelution. Tempest’s face did not change as she lost no time in gathering golden lightning around her blunt horn, her eyes glued on the charging Browler as storm clouds began to accumulate over all four Pokémon’s heads.

Hitting the sand a few feet back, Maverick grunted as the Ice Beam attack found its mark just above his right shoulder. The afflicted part of his body turned whitish blue for a second as a light frost glazed it.

“Got you!” Haley cheered.

Rachel rolled her eyes heavily and said loudly, “Girl, you better take another look!”

Haley looked again and blanched as she saw Maverick still on his feet and his Energy Ball still gaining power by the second.

<Oh, ouch. The pain... not,> Maverick laughed before releasing the greenish ball of energy straight at Vapor’s cerulean face.

Tempest chose the moment whilst Haley was distracted to release the Thunderbolt attack into the dark clouds over her head, her stare directed towards Royal, who had seen it coming but was moving in too fast to avoid it.

Looks like it’s my victory again... Rachel began to think in a self-satisfied manner, her smirk mirroring her mood as she watched her attacks fly. A second later, it was the older girl’s turn to be shocked as the Energy Ball attack veered to the right towards Royal instead of Vapor as intended, hitting him hard in the side and sending the pompous Pokémon veering straight into one of the large rocks that dotted the coastline, ramming that instead with enough force to deal Royal a nasty headache.

“What the?” Haley exclaimed in shock as she watched the attack that was actually able to hit home do considerable damage to its target. A second later, the lightning bolt dropped out of the purplish sky... right on top of Maverick.

<Maverick!> Tempest screamed softly, her eyes widening as she saw her attack do a nasty number on her teammate, the Verdant Pokémon squealing in pain. His muscles began to seize up as Rachel and Haley watched, powerful paralysis washing over the tan Pokémon. <Are you alright?>

<Oh, yes,> Maverick said in his heavy-with-sarcasm voice, <Getting fried by thousands of volts of electricity by my own team mate always puts me inn a jolly mood!>

“At least Tempest didn’t paralyse your mouth, Mav,” Rachel said, her eyes doing a barrel roll.

<Hallelujah, praise Arceus,> Maverick snapped back testily.

Haley blinked a couple of times to get the hang of what just happened and said, “O...K, let’s try that again. Vapor Ice Beam! Royal, if you’re up to it, use your Water Pulse attack!”

No, Maverick can’t move! Rachel thought in a panic. “Maverick, try to use Energy Ball again! Tempest, create a wall of water to protect Maverick with Surf!”

Tempest tried to create a big enough wave to stop the zigzagging beam of bluish white energy that erupted from Vapor’s open mouth once more as Maverick the Leafeon shot another large orb of natural energy towards his evolutionary cousin in retaliation. Royal tried to fire off a second ball of water towards the Transport Pokémon but in the dazed state hitting the boulder had left him in, he opened his mouth a fraction of a second too late and shot himself in the opposite direction back towards the rock.

Maverick’s attack shoot off at a narrower tangent than his first one arched upwards towards a nearby coconut tree, blowing the foliage apart on contact. Vapor’s attack, in the meanwhile, shrank as the gap between both Eeveelutions closed and fizzled to nothingness in a pathetic manner as Maverick winced slightly as a second wave of paralysis kept him rooted to the spot. Maverick opened one eye, saw what happened and gave a big, <HA!> before a large wave slammed into him and Vapor courtesy of the gentle Lapras as the Browler’s second collision with the rock rendered him insensible.

<Tempest> Maverick coughed and spluttered as the Vaporeon emerged from the attack looking totally unharmed thanks to his Water Absorb ability, <I think Rachel may have said, ‘Protect Maverick with Surf’, not effing drown him!>

<I’m sorry, I’m sorry!> Tempest wailed. <I dunno what’s coming over me today!>

“OK, time out everybody!” Rachel said loudly, bringing Haley to silence as she was halfway through giving Vapor another command. “It’s obvious what the problem is here...”

“’You suck as a trainer and decide to forfeit’?” Haley asked smugly.

“You’re no hotshot either, sister,” Rachel said coldly. “While it’s true that my Pokémon lack accuracy, yours lack attack power and you personally lack common sense.”

Haley’s smug look vanished faster than a Dodrio on caffeine as she exploded, “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

“I mean, Ice Beam in ninety three degree Fahrenheit weather? Come on...”

“Yes,” Haley snorted in amused derision. “That’s about as smart as hitting a Vaporeon with a Water attack and expecting it to do any damage.”

“Anyways,” Rachel went on, totally nonplussed that she had just been shot another insult by Haley and struggling not to inflame the situation further with retaliation. “The point is, we both excel where the other is lacking. You apparently know your way around Water Pokémon and I know how to up a Pokémon’s power potential efficiently. I was planning to train during the Trigello Tournament and get my team’s accuracy improved, but it may not last long enough for me to get a good grasp on it.”

Haley calmed down in spite of herself and said acidly, “So what do you propose?”

“A helping hand,” Rachel said walking over to her Lapras as she returned Maverick. Placing one hand gently on the Transport Pokémon’s neck, she asked, “So, Tempest... how does helping Haley win the Trigello sound to you? She’s bound to be able to help you get the hang of your attacks in time for our trip to Sinnoh...”

<What? Travel with her?> Tempest asked in surprise. <Are you sure?>

“Yeah,” Rachel said calmly. “I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll pick you up on Southern Isle once the tournament’s over and I think Mav and the others would be happier if your attacks don’t hit them in future tag battles.”

“One problem,” Haley said calmly. “How am I supposed to take care of Temepest when I have a full team for the Trigello already?”

Rachel rolled her eyes and said, “Easy, simple. Trade me one of yours. Hmmm.... how about your Browler? Goodness knows he’s not ready for this...”

Haley opened her mouth to retort but memories of the past hour swam to the surface. No matter what she might have said, Rachel had a point. Royal was too proud to follow instructions and their bond was a little premature to count upon in the thick of battle.

“Maybe a trade wouldn’t be so bad,” she said thoughtfully, pulling off the unconscious Browler’s pokéballand retrieving it. “I’m sure Royal won’t mind... once he regains consciousness, that is.”

“Then it’s settled,” Rachel said with an air of reaching a decision for the group at large as Tempest nodded and added to Haley, <I look forward to battling with you.>

<See you on Southern Isle, then,> she added to the Leafeon as she got sucked back into her pokéballas a flash of red light.

<Yeah, whatever,> Maverick said gruffly, his paralysis making him slightly more cranky than usual.

Royal and Tempest’s pokéballs glowed white momentarily as they switched hands, signalling a successful trade. When this was done, Haley returned Vapor and after a cheery farewell and an exchange of PokéNav numbers, took off towards the Trigello Registration office downtown to modify her registration.

<Well, isn’t that lovely?> Maverick said sarcastically. <Now that you’ve gotten the mush outta your system, can I get some treatment, please?>

*continued next post*​
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
It's ain't over yet! (TCQ ch 38~2)

*continued from last post*

***​

Where did that boy get to? Nicola thought as she peeked from out behind a blue steel door halfway down a brightly lit corridor that resembled an Onix burrow. Zen’s entrance had thrown the whole base into less turmoil than she expected as fewer Team Shadow agents than she expected ran helter-skelter attempting to capture the intruders. She ducked back out of sight as a quartet of Team Shadow agents ran past, barely missing her.

“I’ve got to keep moving,” Nicola mused as she backed out of the room and raced down yet another stone corridor, more cobalt blue doors on either side flashing by as her shoes made sharp slapping sounds against the uncommonly smooth floor. “It’s a miracle that I haven’t been cau-“

Her thoughts were sharply contradicted as she trotted past a slightly opened door and a pair of hands seized her from behind without warning and dragged her inside, the door closing with a muffled thud.

Briefly caught off guard by her assailant’s surprise attack, Haley felt a hand smaller than hers close in on her mouth and a voice in her ear mutter, “Keep it down, will you? You’ll alert the others...”

Nicola had no intention to ‘keep it down and struggled violently against her captor’s grip. “Coward!” She bellowed. “You miserable coward! How dare you sneak attack a lady like me?!”

The grunt grunted inaudibly as the Grass type specialist’s elbow found his solar plexus and forced him to relinquish his grip. As she sought to get her bearings in the deep gloom, the attacker had recovered and clapped a hand to her mouth as she opened it to scream once more.

“Ssh!” He hissed frantically, pushing her back into what seemed like a steel shelf and gasping in pain as Nicola’s right fist made contact with the crown of his head. Swearing in a muffled voice, the smaller combatant seized the taller girl’s wrist but could not keep her other hand at bay as she used it to punch and pummel every inch of his body she could find.

“You scoundrel! Have some of this, and that, and...” Nicola panted, ignoring the gasps and grunts of pain as she started to focus her blows on his face before a sharp snap was heard and the room was flooded in light.

Blinking in the light, she saw the grunt double up in pain and turning to her face towards the door was rather surprised to see a bipedal viridian creature with a short mantle of what seemed to be leaves stand by the light switch next to the door, staring at her with violet, reproachful eyes. Next to it, an monkey-like figure rolled around, paralyzed with mirth as it clutched its sides. Both looked really familiar.

“A-Anuvi?” Nicola stammered, her green eyes widening. “Zen?”

“It’s official,” the ‘Team Shadow grunt’ groaned as he felt his bruised person gingerly, his blue eyes watering in pain. “Girls have no appreciation for practical jokes.”

Wheeling towards the familiar voice, Nicola felt her jaw drop as she stammered, “SAPPH?!”

As her eyes became accustomed to the bright fluorescent lighting, she took in Sapph’s appearance which was now markedly different from his usual white and blue. Sapph was now garbed in a black tracksuit zipped up a few inches shy of the top. His hooded cloak was draped behind him and a balaclava was wrenched to the top of his head, leaving his now bleeding nose to drip blood on the floor.

Sapph pinched his nose with his left hand now clad in a black, fingerless glove and with his right returned Anuvi and the still-laughing Zen with dark muttering.

“Sapph, just what are you wearing?” Nicola demanded.

“A disguise,” Sapph replied hotly, his voice coming out nasally as he still pinched his nose gingerly, relived to note that it wasn’t broken. Glancing at her bemused expression, he added with a touch of scorn, “Oh, come on. How else did you think we were going to get around the base undetected?”

“And where the blue hell did you get a disguise?” Nicola said sceptically, folding her arms as she glared at Sapph suspiciously.

“Look around you.”

After shooting Sapph one suspicious glare, Nicola did as she was bidden and was startled to see that the shelves were laden with all manner of Team Shadow equipment and paraphernalia. Boots lined the floors all around and belts, trousers and hoods lay upon the shelves neatly folded and arranged by size.

“How did you find this place?” Nicola gasped.

“I found a useful guide,” Sapph grinned, holding out a small white card which Nicola took from him and studied carefully. A minute’s observation told her it was a floor map of the whole Dragon Cove’s inner sanctum, with specific caves which were being used by the invading Team Shadow operatives marked out.

“I picked it up as we went past the guard Zen stunned at the gate,” Sapph said, pulling the ski mask back down over his head. “Good thing you followed us as closely as you did, or you’d have been caught for sure.”

“Yes, well,” Nicola muttered, abashedly as she searched for a redeeming counterargument and brightening when she found one. “Now, if you’d excuse me, I’d like to change now.”

“Excuse me?” Sapph was clearly taken aback by the change in topic.

“Get out, you clueless perv!” Nicola said testily. “Did you really think a beautiful lady such as myself would disrobe in the presence of a man? Not likely!”

Sapph, who’d finally understood what she was getting at, turned incandescent red with shocked embarrassment and rage as he said, “Fine! Geez, I’ll go stand guard outside. Just don’t spend all year in here looking for your size. This is not a department store.”

As he left he added in an undertone, “Like anyone would want to peep at you...”

Nicola heard. As she spun around to yell, “What was that, you...” the door clanged shut in reply, cutting her off.

Boys, she thought darkly, walking down the shelves, taking note of the sizes available.

“Women,” Sapph muttered annoyedly, standing before the door and peering into the gloom that swallowed up the corridor on either side. He really didn’t get them at all. On one hand, you had girls like Nora and Joy, who seemed so nice and sincere. They brought out the best in a guy and required nothing in exchange but for them to be true to themselves.

On another you had girls like Sky, who was wild and unrestrained, but was the kind of person who made a lifelong friend. Girls like her were at complete odds with girls like Zeta, who seemed guarded despite her free-spirited outlook on life and spontaneous attitude (he lost track of his thought temporarily as his mind wandered back to his first kiss.)

The thought of Haley, Carla and Nicola brought himself back to reality faster than a falling Snorlax. Those kind of girls were just too bipolar for anyone to get a fix on them, let alone a totally clueless twelve year old. Sapph supposed they were likeable enough (he had certainly gotten on well enough with Carla, despite how he felt about Kamren – Sapph spared a moment to wonder where he was and gave the exercise up like a bad job) and Nicola and Haley weren’t so bad, once they weren’t trying to be all in-your-face about everything. Did being right all the time really matter to all girls or just the ones like them?

Sapph shook his head like a bothered Donphan and wondered how much longer Nicola was going to take when a loud voice called, “You! Grunt! What are you doing all the way back here?”

Sapph turned towards the shout and broke out in a cold sweat despite himself. Two semi-important figures walked up the corridor towards him, Sapph being too preoccupied to notice their approach. Both wore neckerchiefs in addition to the black uniform Sapph himself wore, although they had dispensed with the ski masks. The male wore a purple one around his upper arm and the young woman wore a royal blue one around her neck in a stylish manner, the knot at the side of her neck instead on behind.

The supervisors stopped a few feet before him and Sapph felt himself tense up involuntarily. Grunts weren’t a problem to deal with, but these two gave off an aura of shrewdness, toughness and open nastiness he had experienced in more intense degrees only from the captains he’d run into before.

Composing himself quickly, he muttered, “Guard duty, Ma’am. Thought the supply room would need tighter security.”

The woman seemed to relax slightly although the man did not. Sweeping his wavy blue hair back, he demanded, “What’s your call sign, Grunt?”

“Don’t have one, Sir. New recruit,” Sapph improvised wildly, willing himself to keep calm.

The female supervisor came in with her next question. “Where are you from, Grunt?”

Sapph paused for a split second before answering. “Azura City, Ma’am.”

“What’s your squad?”

“No idea, Sir. New recruit,” Sapph repeated feebly. He was running out of time.

“Squad captain?” The woman pressed on relentlessly.

“Ummm...”

“Who’s your squad captain, Grunt?” The man asked again roughly. “Answer me, Grunt!”

“V-Vulca, Sir. Captain Vulca,” Sapph said, hardly daring to breathe. Would they buy this?

The supers faces were unreadable as the Man turned to the woman for a second. He turned back to Sapph and said, “Very well. Were you given and specifications as to why the supply room would need protection?”

Sapph exhaled deeply. In relieved tones, he answered, “Command got wind of an intruder earlier today. They thought they’d attempt to blend in with personnel and reckoned they’d steal uniforms to get in.”

“Really?” The woman said in a voice that affected surprise.

“Yes, Ma’am!” Sapph said briskly. “There’ve been no sightings of ‘em yet, but it won’t be long now!”

“No,” the man said nastily, pulling a couple of pokéballs free from his belt. “It won’t. Nidorino, Seviper, apprehend the intruder!”

“Bagon, Charmeloen! Front and center!” The woman added, throwing down two of her own too.

Four large and mean looking Pokémon materialized in a bright flash of red light and quickly fanned out closing Sapph off away from the door and against the opposite wall. The shortest was a light blue with a yellow belly and snout. Its large head was crowned with a white grooved helmet and its mean little eyes glared at the young boy trainer. Its teammate was a Pokémon Sapph was familiar with, with its singular horn and burning red skin. Its violet eyes and long, ripping ivory claws made it indistinguishable from Riza, Sky’s Charmeleon, before she had evolved to Charizard sometime after he parted with them at Appleburn City. Yet there was a brutality about it that Sky must have been able to curb in her own Flame Pokémon.

They were separated by a stout, muscular Pokémon with a violently purple hide and long, sharp barbs which Sapph remembered from his Academy days were highly poisonous. It snarled and snapped its short fangs at Sapph, keen to battle. It had nothing on his partner as far as fear-inducing was concerned, in Sapph’s opinion, as he looked it over.

The last one was a large black snake which must have clocked at least ten feet in length easily. It’s red, purple and yellow markings weren’t the worst part of it as Sapph took in its long blood red fangs and sword shaped tail which it whipped across the rocky floor, creating sparks and a grinding noise rather like a knife or sword sharpening as it looked out from behind Charmeleon’s shoulder and hissed hungrily.

“Busted!” Sapph growled, feeling the hard rock wall behind him. “How did you figure me out?”

“Easy,” the man said victoriously. “No grunts have been informed of the break in yet. The only ones looking out for you are we supervisors.”

“And Captain Vulca isn’t anywhere near this facility,” the woman said smugly. “She and her battalion are with our overlord at the main HQ!”

“I see,” Sapph said calmly. “Well, thanks for the info. Let’s go, Anuvi! You too, Zen!”

Sapph clenched his fists as his Squirrage appeared in a blast of spiralling green light that rushed from his pokéball, Zen right beside him in the customary red light and wondered if they could work together as well as they must have done back at White Cliffs. He’d never used the pair in a double battle since the Rocky Path and hoped their team work had improved since then.

A fear which was confirmed when Anuvi took one look at their opposition and said coolly, <Dunno why you called Zen out, Sapph. I’m enough for these four.>

<Ooh,> the Seviper crooned with a hiss. <Kid’sss got jokesss!>

<I agree, Fearless Leader,> Zen said calmly, looking the Charmeleon intently. <But the kid’s the boss here. So, how do we split ‘em?>

<I’ll take the Charmeleon and Seviper,> Anuvi said dispassionately. <I trust you can take the others?> he added with a sideways smirk.

<Please,> Zen affected with a smile. <These guys aren’t anything special. I’ll take three minutes and back you up.>

<What?!> The Nidorino yelled angrily, taking a step forward as his aggression began to peak. <Say that again, I dare you!>

<Three minutes?> Anuvi repeated as he loosened up and Zen adopted his Tae Kwon Do stance. <Aren’t you slow... those two wont last a minute and a half.>

<Ego, ego,> Zen scolded lightly as the Charmeleon had had enough of been mocked lightly and opened up with an unordered Flamethrower attack, which Sapph, Anuvi and Zen had to dive aside to dodge. <And you really need to calm down,> he added to the Nidorino who fired off a salvo of purplish senbon needles that missed their mark by about a second as Zen leapt away a split second after touching down.

“Enough,” the woman said roughly. “Bagon, use Headbutt on the Jutunkick! Charmeleon, another Flamethrower, burn that Squirrage to a crisp!”

“By the way, kid,” the man said shrewdly. “You don’t happen to have an accomplice around, do you?”

Sapph’s eyes contracted slightly as Anuvi and Zen avoided being barbecued and headbutted into next week respectively.

The male supervisor noticed Sapph’s twitch. “So there is at least one more. Good to know. Nidorino, Horn Attack! Seviper, Poison Tail!”

Nidorino charged in towards Anuvi who slipped out of sight and out of harm’s way yet again as Seviper whipped his bladed tail towards Zen in what he hoped was an unnoticed motion. Zen sensed the unfriendly attack before it made contact and swinging his foot over his head and down hard on the ground in an axe kick and caused a pillar of stone to shoot out of the ground and block the glowing tail cold.

Nidorino ran straight into Bagon who was shaking his overlarge head dizzily as his failed Headbutt left him somewhat disoriented, his large horn piercing him short and stubby arm rather badly. Bagon let out a roar and Nidorino, realizing his mistake, leapt back before he impaled his own colleague severely.

Zen turned to the injured Bagon and Nidorino and said blithely, <Oh, shame. Horn Attack must give you horrible tunnel vision, hunh?>

Anuvi reappeared beside Seviper’s head and thrusting out a palm shot a wave of rushing wind into the side of the serpent’s head, snarling, <Can you hear right? Your opponent’s me!>

The Seviper’s long body crashed beside the Charmeleon’s who looked up at the Squirrage and smirked. Anuvi returned the smug look with one of contempt as he landed lightly and glanced at the Seviper who slithered back upright, looking dazed.

“Damn it, Seviper! Get back in there!” The man snapped his cool temporarily lost. “Use Poison Tail again!”

<Oh, great,> Anuvi said in a bored voice as Seviper charged in again. <A one-trick Ponyta.>

“Bagon, Crunch!” The woman commanded swiftly.

The Bagon leapt at Zen, his yellow mouth wide opened as the Nidorino fired off another salvo of Poison Sting at Zen who ran forward straight into Bagon, stunning the Dragon type so badly it was unable to shut its jaws in time before the wily Fighting type had grabbed them firmly.

<I have you this time!> the Nidorino yelled in jubilation as the Poison Sting raced closer and he followed suit with another Horn Attack aimed at the Combatant Pokémon’s... hindquarters. <Time for Pin the Horn on the Loudmouth!>

<Really?> Zen said flippantly, his eyes adopting a cerulean hue in sync with the Poison Sting, which stopped dead in midair and hovered there. Not missing a beat, Zen used his Confusion to send the needles right back where they came from and Nidorino, not seeing this, received a face full of his own attack.

Roaring indignantly the Nidorino kept charging straight on towards where he was sure Zen still stood. It was no surprise to any of the battlers that Zen casually sidestepped the charging Poison Pin Pokémon and let him ram right into the wall, jamming his horn fast in the stony wall.

<Yawn,> Zen said in a bored voice. <Hey, Kid, shall I finish it now or are you enjoying the show?>

Taking his cue, Sapph said, “Right. Let’s put Nidorino to sleep then! Time to use your opponent’s head!”

<Sweetness,> Zen smiled in admiration of Sapph’s style and swung the now bug-eyed Bagon in a wide arc and slamming him – head first - right onto the crown of Nidorino’s head with a pronounced cracking sound. Nidorino stopped struggling to free himself and slumped instantly. Bagon seemed too dazed to make out night or day anymore as he weaved around drunkenly away from his unconscious colleague.

“Bah... Nidorino, return,” the male supervisor growled angrily. “It’s up to you now, Seviper! Use Poison Tail attack!”

“OK, Zen time to back Anuvi- watch out!” Sapph cried out a second or so too late.

Zen looked around a split second too late and felt a series of what seemed to be small nails digging into his furry arm. Yowling in pain he raised his arm to see the bemused Bagon latched tightly to his upper arm and not letting go.

<Augh! Get it off me, Kid! GEDDITOFF!> Zen wailed, running around theatrically and waving the Bagon around wildly as he capered all over the corridor.

Sapph and the Team Shadow operatives all sweat dropped in unison.

Sapph recovered first as the flashing of purple light erupted to his right and saw Anuvi dodging the furious stabs and swipes of Seviper’s Poison Tail with almost lazy ease.

<Seriously, don’t you have any other attacks?> Anuvi drawled, ducking beneath another Poison Tail attack aimed at his throat. The tail whipped around behind him and shot towards his back with a downwards stabbing motion.

“That’s it, now finish it!” the man said in a frenzied voice.

“Anuvi, run in close to Seviper now!” Sapph countered.

“Perfect,” the male supervisor said triumphantly. “Now, Seviper! Poison Fang attack!”

Sapph wasn’t fooled for a second. Smirking, he kept the tempo going and ordered, “Anuvi, grab his fangs and show him who’s boss!”

Anuvi leapt up towards the Seviper’s head just as Zen had done with Bagon a moment ago and grasped the Fang Snake Pokémon’s long namesakes and still holding on tightly, flipped over Seviper’s head, snapping the Poison type’s head back with him. Seviper struggled to regain control, and the Warrior Pokémon, smirking softly, pulled his arms down sharply, breaking off the squamate Pokémon’s prized teeth in one brutal movement, still glowing purple.

“Augh! Seviper, nooo!” The male supervisor shrieked, falling apart at the sight of his Pokémon’s and subsequently his own disgrace.

<SSSSRRAAAAAAH!> The Seviper spat in pain and horror as its fangs were torn from its skull.

“Do it now, Charmeleon! Dragon Claw attack, while it’s airborne!” the female supervisor commanded, totally unperturbed by her partner’s Pokémon’s fate.

Anuvi leapt away nimbly and Charmeleon, seeing his chance, lunged forward with his claws awash in greenish flames, intent on raking his Dragon Claw attack across Anuvi’s back.

“Anuvi, heads up!” Sapph cautioned swiftly. “Give him a taste of Seviper’s own attack!”

Anuvi nodded and turned on a dime, swinging the Seviper’s torn fangs around at the charging Charmeleon, whose eyes widened as the makeshift Poison typed attack approached his eye faster than he could retreat.

“Charmeleon, block and fall back!” its trainer ordered swiftly.

“Keep it there!” Sapph ordered.

Charmeleon raised his flaming fist to his face and took the poisonous tooth to the forepaw, snarling ferally as Anuvi expressionlessly dug in deeper and watched the Charmeleon twist helplessly in a vain attempt to break away.

“Now, Seviper! Avenge yourself! Poison Tail, now! Slice straight through them both!” The Fang Snake Pokémon’s trainer ordered, his voice full of malice.

<Honestly... can you do NOTHING ELSE?!> Anuvi yelled, flinging the Seviper’s second fang back towards the advancing serpent who bore down on the two struggling Pokémon, his poisonous tail first, glowing a venomous purple. The fang may have lost its poisonous nature but still did considerable damage as it impaled the Seviper just below the blade of its tail, causing it to spit and hiss furiously as its concentration broke, leaving its sharpened tail to slam down where Anuvi and Charmeleon stood once before.

“Charmeleon, get that Squirrage off you with a point-blank Flamethrower blast!” the woman ordered ruthlessly.

“Anuvi, back away!” Sapph said quickly.

Both Pokémon did as they were bidden, Anuvi was fortunate to have his tremendous speed to stay a second ahead of Charmeleon as he released his hold on the fang and vanished from sight as the Flame Pokémon released a river of fire that engulfed the Seviper below, making it cry out in pain.

“Hey! Watch where you aim that thing!” the man whined to his partner.

“Same to you,” the woman said coldly with an askance glance towards her ‘partner’. “’Slice straight through them both’, eh?”

Now’s our chance to level things up! Sapph thought as he watched the Seviper struggle to throw off the flames. “Anuvi! Use Kamikaze, one more time!” he ordered, pumping his fist.

Anuvi hovered above Sapph and flung a second pulse of wind right into the flames, causing them to erupt into a localised inferno that sapped the last of Seviper’s strength, knocking it out.

“Aw, no! Seviper, no! Return!” the man said in a weepy voice, his former arrogant persona all but gone.

“Hmm... just like at Lake Legendio, only this time we can localise the flames,” Sapph said thoughtfully, his mind going back to his fight with Zula:

-Flashback-

Lake Legendio, two weeks ago


“Shame,” Zula replied, yet not looking sorry at all for the excuse to destroy the figurative thorn in her flesh since the Javelin incident. Raising all her thorny whips high, she said with a sense of indecent pleasure in her voice, “You’re someone the world’s not gonna miss mu... what the?”

Carla and Sapph turned and instantly shielded their eyes against the blast of frigid wind that swept the lake and froze the swarming Polyporh and Kurbaza solid. Even Tora, a Fire type, was reduced to shivering.

Arcana instinctively threw up a Flame Wheel to protect herself from the cold and surprisingly felt her flames double in strength and size. After getting over the initial shock of the sudden increase in her firepower, Arcana smiled a wicked smile.

<Ready to end this, shorty?> Arcana howled, getting juiced up, as a ball of white and blue fire welled up within her maw.

“What did you call me, you mutt?!” Zula screeched in a deranged voice. “Die!”

“Arcana, no!” Sapph bellowed in worry, rushing in to shield his Pokémon, though he was rather lacking in size to do this anymore. “Move!”

Arcana unleashed a tremendous stream of fire as Zula brought all her projections into a final, fatal strike. A second freak blast of wind came rushing in from behind Sapph and Arcana a second later and something incredible happened: Arcana’s fire attack increased in range a power dramatically, swallowing up all the evil branches Zula had summoned up to attack.

The flames didn’t stop there, however. Zula’s eyes opened wide as she unleashed an unearthly shriek, the fire overcoming her explosively, hiding her writhing form from Sapph and Carla’s sight, the latter of whom Tora had shoved aside in a last ditch attempt to protect her trainer.

-End Flashback-

A useful tactic, I have a feeling it will come in handy again, Sapph thought as he watched the man return the Seviper and descend to wallowing in defeat.

Aloud, however, he said, “Stay sharp, Anuvi! We still have one opponent left! And haven’t you gotten rid of that thing yet, Zen?!”

<Easy for you to say, Kid!> Zen snapped back. <This stupid thing feels more like a freaking Totodile!>

The Squirrage nodded confirmation regarding his ability to go on and locked eyes with his Fire typed foe, who returned the glare with a look of quiet interest and disquieting glee which bordered on tranquil blood lust as he wrenched the Seviper's fang out of his hand.

<He’s skilled. Extremely so, if fact. Very well... for this calibre of opponent, it almost seemed appropriate,> the Charmeleon thought to himself as he began to glow white and grow larger.

<Hah?!> Zen blanched almost indignantly as he grappled with the Bagon’s large jaws which were still fastened tight around his arm as the Charmeleon grew wings Sapph knew would be large and leathery once the light died down. <No fair!>

<Oh, come on, big guy,> Anuvi said calmly as the light died down and a worn yet pumped up Charizard replaced the Charmeleon. <You’re making this even easier than it was before!>

“Nice,” the woman said coldly, flushed at the promotion she was sure to receive once the battle was over. Sweeping her green, shoulder length hair over her shoulder, she took command of the battle. “Bagon, keep your hold. Charizard, Flamethrower!”

“We can’t use Kamikaze here, Anuvi! It will only power up his attacks!” Sapph said sharply as Anuvi prepared a third Kamikaze attack. Raising his voice to a command, he added, “Get in close and use Fury Cutter!”

“Yeah, that’ll work,” the woman said with a cold sneer. “Fill the whole corridor with your Flamethrower!”

The fiery giant began to flap his wings with tremendous power generating a powerful gale that filled the corridor as he threw back his long neck, a fireball growing within his maw.

<Ah, forget this,> Anuvi snorted, raising his arm again as he shielded himself with his other forearm.

“Anuvi, don’t!” Sapph called out frantically.

Looking back for a fleeting second, Anuvi smiled and said, <Relax. We can localise the blast, right?>

And without a further clue fired off a concentrated Wind Attack just as the Charizard threw his head forward and began to open his mouth. If wind could be seen, the three trainers would be stunned to see the Kamikaze tear through the Wing Attack like it was nothing and land right on target in the Charizard mouth, expanding the flames to uncontrollable proportions faster than the Charizard was ready to contain them.

The Charizard howled in anguish as its own Flamethrower backfired (no pun intended) on itself, charring its mouth and searing halfway down its throat with a loud bang.

The large winged lizard spluttered angrily and turned to glare at the Squirrage through watering eyes as the smaller Pokémon clasped his forepaws together in what seemed to be a hand sign.

<Like I said... way too easy,> Anuvi the Squirrage said quietly, unleashing the torrent of bladelike leaves that was his Leaf Storm upon the Charizard.

“Charizard, block with your wing!” its trainer yelled.

“Leaf Storm?” Sapph looked bemused at Anuvi’s move. “But why?”

<F.L. has a plan,> Zen said telepathically to Sapph as he finally dislodged the Bagon with an Aura Sphere attack from inside its mouth, effectively disorienting it even more. <Trust me. Oh, and don’t blink. Not that you’ll see it happen, anyways...>

Charizard followed orders and was pushed back by merely the power of the forceful attack as the attack slammed into his shielding wing and spread far and wide into the air, creating a cloud of foliage all around him.

“What’s the matter, child?” the woman said brashly, sweeping a lock of black hair out of her cold eyes, barely noticing her Pokémon’s laboured breathing. “Given up already? You should know Grass type attack do nothing to a Pokémon of Charizard’s nature...”

“Too bad your Charizard seems to disagree,” Sapph countered wittily, as the leaves fluttered all around them. “Take a look. I won’t blame you if you don’t see it coming, though...”

“See what coming?” the older trainer demanded. “Charizard, burn all the leaves down!”

<Too late,> Anuvi’s voice echoed through the corridor. <It’s over, big guy.>

An arc of dark green flashed across the corridor and a long scar erupted on the Charizard’s yellow underbelly in a shower of crimson life. Charizard clutched the wound with a clawed hand but received a second cut, half a heartbeat later, across his right foot. Four more strikes rained down on the roaring dragon in such rapid succession they were impossible to tell apart and if it weren’t for the flashes of emerald for that seemed to dance among the leaves, it would be impossible to see Anuvi at all.

Sapph stared, mouth agape, at the attack‘s speed and precision. “What is that attack?”

The Grass/Flying type reappeared before the boy trainer and said softly, <That was my Dance of the Leaves. It’s just a series of high speed Leaf Blades within a cloud of my natural element, making it impossible to track my movements within the leafy vortex,> he added at the mystified look on Sapph’s face.

Sapph sighed and scratched the back of his head helplessly. “Must you always have a flair for the poetic in naming your attacks?”

The Charizard was apparently not impressed. It took one stomping step forward and let out a pained roar before passing out cold, with a tremulous thud.

“No... Charizard,” the woman hissed, returning her defeated Fire type Pokémon in a flash of red light.

Wait a second, she thought suddenly. It’s not over! I still have...

“Bagon! Fall back and use... hunh?!” the woman’s dark eyes blanched as she beheld her Bagon waddling around on its stumpy little legs worse than ever. The Rock Head Pokémon’s mouth now issued copious amounts of steam. “Bagon! What happened to you?!”

“Guess three Aura Spheres were bad for its health,” Sapph laughed, despite the situation. “Zen, finish it off with Rolling Kick!”

<Right!> Zen said, taking a couple of steps forwards and bounding lightly towards the confused Bagon, who could only weave about tipsily. Twisting gracefully towards the little dragon, Zen planted his first kick square in the Bagon’s little yellow underbelly, causing the Bagon to choke in pain.

“Hold fast, Bagon!” its trainer screamed.

“Once more, Zen!” Sapph said firmly.

Bagon tried to summon resistance to his legs to keep them strong but winced as Zen used his small belly as a pivotal point and spun around once more, the next Rolling Kick attack connecting the Jutunkick’s heel to the Bagon’s lower jaw.

Pulling his foot free from his smaller opponent, Zen used the force of his second kick to throw his opponent into the steel door of the supply room, leaving the light blue Pokémon to slump there in total defeat.

“That’s all she wrote!” Sapph said confidently, pulling out their pokéballs. “Great job, you two. Return...”

The sound of laughing caused him to stumble in his speech. Looking up, he saw the two supervisors laughing at something apparently hilarious. The sight unnerved Sapph slightly.

Feigning calm that he for some reason did not feel, Sapph spoke up, “What’s so funny?”

Clutching his side in hysterical laughter, the man said raucously, “You really can’t think you’d won, can you?”

The woman pulled out a small device that looked something like a remote control with only one button. Raising it to Sapph’s eye level, she taunted, “Can you guess what this is?”

Sapph stayed silent, but had a feeling it was not his dad’s long lost TV remote.

“It’s a panic alarm,” she hissed triumphantly. “If I press this, you’ll have Team Shadow operatives all over your butt so fast, it’ll make your head spin,” she finished with a leer.

Oh, no, Sapph thought grimly.

“Bottom line? You will be captured and we will take the credit,” the man said feverishly, his orange eyes glinting maniacally.

“Be seeing you,” the woman laughed as she began applying pressure to the button.

Something long and green lashed out with a sound like a whip crack and disarmed the female supervisor effortlessly. Clutching her wrist in pain, the woman and her colleague turned around to see two thick yet supple vines come into being and in less than a second, snap shut around them roughly, tying them together neatly.

“OK, Pythorn! Now use Pound!” Nicola said as she emerged from the storage room, now also decked out in black Team Shadow fatigues.

Another snakelike Pokémon roughly as long as Seviper, but without the bladed tail and with a flatter, snub-nosed head had the two operatives in a bind. With a nod, this new serpent, swung its spike-ridden tail downwards twice and clobbered its prey hard around the head, rendering them senseless immediately.

“Well done, Pythorn. Throw them in here,” Nicola commanded calmly, indicating the storage room they had just exited. Her Pokémon agreed and tossing them lightly. Leaving her victims sprawled on the floor senseless, Nicola turned to Sapph and said, “Really slick, Sapph. It a wonder there haven’t been any reinforcements along yet... are you even listening to me?”

<We try not to,> n said blithely. <You kinda live longer not worrying about what you have to say.>

Sapph in the meanwhile had scanned the floor for the device the female supervisor had held earlier and noticing it lying face down ran over to pick it up and study it. Turning it over in his hand, he noticed that the blue button had been depressed by its fall against the hard floor and that in doing so, had turned from blue to a pulsing red.

“Well, they will be now,” Sapph muttered grimly as he stood up again. “Anuvi, Zen... return!” Both Pokémon returned in a flash of red and green and seizing Nicola’s wrist, pulled her along and said, “Let’s get outta here, now!”

“What’s eating you?” Nicola said sternly as her Pythorn slithered after them as quickly as it could.

Sapph held up the alarm and said, “While you were busy playing Zorro with your Pythorn, the lady supervisor dropped this panic alarm on its face, and the force of the fall activated it. Now thanks to you, Team Shadow grunts will be converging on this signal from all over the base!”

Nicola seemed stunned that she had made such a crucial mistake for about two seconds before she came up with a retort. Pointing an admonitory finger at Sapph, she snapped, “So what are you doing then, carrying it around like that? You might as well, wear a ‘We are intruders. Arrest us’ sign and have done with it!”

Stopping by a chute a good distance away from the storage room, Sapph opened the hatch and as a truly revolting stench filled the corridor, threw the remote down it, shutting it quickly as Pythorn, who had caught up at last, and its trainer, who hadn’t pulled up her mask yet, began to gag despite its part Poison attributes.

“Laying a false trail,” Sapph said with a smile. “Unlike some people, I’m adept at thinking on my feet. Now, pipe down and come on! We’re in enough danger as it is.”

Unable to find a comeback for Sapph’s latest jibe, Nicola did as she was bidden for once and returning Pythorrn, pulled up her mask and followed Sapph at a smart trot, catching him up at the top of a stairwell leading to a lower level.

“So,” Nicola said meekly as they came off the stairway two levels down and darted up yet another corridor together, “how’s your nose holding up?”

Sapph muttered darkly once more and did not answer. For one who preached delicacy, this girl sure lacked it at times...

***​

Half an hour after her battle with Rachel, Haley left the Trigello Tournament Office, having successfully registered Tempest as part of her line up for the tournament.

“Well, that’s that,” Haley said, clapping her hands as the bright sun gleamed from the brow of her ten gallon hat. Looking around at the crowds that thronged all over the plaza, she muttered, “Now to wait for Sapph to get back from the Dragon Cove. I probably should train Tempest a bit, but according to the staff, the Tournament’s already...”

“Excuse me,” a voice said in her ear behind her. “But did you say Sapph? As in Mr. Sapphire ‘Sapph’ Manson?”

Haley swivelled around and came face to face with a youth who seemed to be several years older than herself. His red eyes sparkled in the sunlight which shone off his ebony locks.

“Depends,” Haley said cautiously. “Who’s asking?”

“So you did say Sapph,” the mystery boy said cheerfully, his bright facial expression reflected in his manner of speech and ease at which he carried himself. “You must be Haley Kent.”

“OK, buddy,” Haley said, mildly creeped out. “First of all, how did you know who I am? Second, how do you know Sapph? And most importantly, who in blue hell are you?”

“Whoa, whoa,” the boy said genially, taking his hands out of the pockets of his black leather jacket and raising them in surrender. “I’m sorry. Orion’s my name, and I’m a field commander of the AGENTs.”

“’AGENTs’?” Haley echoed quizzically. “What’s an AGENT?”

“A secret anti-terrorist group,” Orion said promptly. “Sorry, I can’t say more than that. For obvious reasons,” he added with a gentle smile.

“For a secret anti-terrorist op, you sure are free with your info,” Haley said suspiciously. “You didn’t answer my-“

“My fellow field commander is an acquaintance of your friend Sapph,” Orion said casually. “You met him back at Green Hill Town.” When Haley continued to look lost, he added swiftly, “The youth with the blue hair who gave you your Eevee.”

Haley’s jaw scraped bamboo walkway at this pronouncement. “Tony’s an AGENT? Sapph never mentioned that!”

“I’m afraid that’s not all your friend has kept from you,” Orion said calmly. “I’d like to disclose some information to you that you’d be very interested to hear. Might I treat you to a late lunch?”

“Alright,” Haley said, obviously intrigued, falling into step beside the charismatic enigma.

The two teens walked for a few moments in silence, Orion looking left and right at the row of stores and restaurants that lined both sides of the street.

As they turned onto a side street, Haley turned to Orion and said, “If you’re an AGENT field commander, you must have heard of a Team Shadow, right?”

“Not here, Haley,” Orion said genially. “Wait ‘til we... ah, this will do!”

And without another word, he led a mystified Haley past Lou’s Pizza Parlour which was ‘Closed for Repairs’ according to the sign and into the Spicy Torchic, which looked like a side tavern of sorts.

“Uh, why here?” Haley asked apprehensively.

Orion merely nodded to the barkeep, a large, portly man with a handlebar moustache, who donned a large white and red striped apron and manned his post with a large cloth in his right hand and a clean glass in his other. The man inclined his head towards the back room slightly.

“Undercover AGENT HQ,” Orion replied with a smile back at Haley as he led the way into a small seedy room with a single incandescent bulb flickering from overhead beneath a wicker lampshade. Several round tables for two had been laid intermittently throughout the room.

Orion and Haley settled themselves at the table nearest the door and the barman came in a few minutes later with two root beers on a tray and a couple of menus.

Orion raised his hand as the rotund man laid the beverages before him and said, “The regular for me. Haley?”

“Uhm, a salad will be fine.”

The barman nodded once and left the room.

“He’s an AGENT too?” Haley asked Orion curiously once he had left.

“Each member of the staff here is,” Orion smiled, placing his root beer to his lips and taking a swig.

Haley looked mildly surprised but curiosity concerning the circumstances of their meeting stifled further questions that she figured Orion probably wouldn’t answer anyway. She opted instead to get to the heart of the matter as directly as possible.

“Alright, you mentioned information I needed to know...”

Placing his bottle down with a light thud, Orion looked Haley square in the eye and said, “Well, for the most part, you must understand that while our investigation into the Shadow’s activities have gleaned very little intel, what we have been able to learn is something beyond doubt...”

“What intelligence?” Haley demanded in a businesslike voice.

“Intelligence regarding the whereabouts of your father, Haley,” Orion said gently. “Damian Kent, I believe?”

Haley, who was in the middle of taking a gulp of root beer, gagged violently.

“What’s my father got to do with Team Shadow?” She half-yelled in panicked tones.

Orion raised his hand for patience which Haley only grudgingly complied to give before he answered, “We’ve discovered him to be in Team Shadow’s employ-“

“You’re lying, Orion,” Haley said in an angry voice. “My father would never collaborate with terrorist for anything!”

“Actually, he would, and has,” Orion said calmly.

“I don’t believe you,” Haley said firmly. “What in Arceus’ name would make him leave us to work with terrorists?”

“You.”

Haley heard, but could hardly take in what Orion had just said.

“I’m sorry?” She said, unsure she’d heard right. “What was that?”

“You. His family,” Orion expounded calmly yet not unsympathetically. “Team Shadow had obviously threatened you with some form of harm had he not agreed to cooperate. Naturally, he had no choice but to comply.”

Haley sank back into her chair; her insides curiously vanished in the aftermath of this startling news. She buried her face in her hands and fought to keep her scream of anguish at the thought of what her father must be going through for the sake of their well-being inside her throat. The barkeep brought their meals in and left, directing a slight nod at Orion as he left.

The older boy clasped his hands together and surveyed the distraught girl sitting across him in a concerned manner.

“I’m sorry, Haley,” he said finally. “Are you alright?”

“So Sapph knew this?” Haley said finally, her voice sounding numb and distant from behind her hands. “For how long?”

“Well,” Orion said hesitantly. “Tony informed him during your sojourn in Green Hill, but our sources have revealed there’s a possibility that he’d known for some time prior to meeting his friend and my comrade Tony.”

Haley’s voice was muffled by her palms as she asked her next question: “How?”

“Revealing that would probably get me in trouble with my superiors, but...” Orion started but Haley interrupted brusquely, “Orion! I don’t care, just- just tell me. Please.”

As her voice began to crack on the last syllable, her hands began to grip her reddish blonde bangs and her tears began to splatter the desk as her shoulders shook.

Orion stared at her for a few seconds, obviously contemplating her situation. Coming to a decision, he placed his hand upon her shoulder and said gently, “I’m sorry, Haley. I can’t.”

“Please,” Haley repeated, her goose grey eyes pleading with Orion’s crimson orbs. “I have to know.”

Orion seemed to struggle with himself as he looked away from Haley’s eyes. Steeling himself, he took a deep breath, turned back to her and said, “Very well: we now have reason to believe Sapph is himself a member of Team Shadow.”

“What?!” Haley breathed in shock, searching Orion’s eyes for a hint, a gleam; anything that would betray the joke in his statement.

Orion’s look was deadly serious as he shook his head a fraction to each side.

“Arceus,” Haley whispered in horror, gripping her hair desperately once again. “When?”

“We’re not entirely sure when,” Orion said gently, “but we assume it must have been soon before or after he was accosted by Tony... probably in the Rocky Path during your brief separation.”

“Why? Why would Sapph...?” Haley looked utterly lost as she gazed into Orion’s face. “Was he threatened? Forced?”

Orion shook his head slightly and said, “We have no idea. But we can safely assume he was neither forced nor coerced into it. I hate to say it, but it looks like he joined them of his free will.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Haley muttered more to herself than to Orion. “Team Shadow have been after him for months. They’ve nearly killed him twice. And that’s only as far as I know. Where’s the proof that he’s part of them.”

“There’s the possibility he was pretending to be hunted,” Orion said quietly.

“What? Why?” Haley gibbered, totally stunned. “You’re wrong. You have to be.”

“How so?” Orion asked curiously.

“The first time he met with Team Shadow,” Haley recounted, “they were ready and willing to kill us all...”

“And when was that?” Orion asked gently.

“He nearly got blown off an airship from fifty thousand miles up, for starters,” Haley said, an edge of rationality to her voice now. “If he was with Team Shadow then, why didn’t they save him?”

“An act, most probably,” Orion said calmly. “Team Shadow don’t necessarily portray much team spirit from intelligence reports gathered so far...”

“Are you hearing yourself?” Haley asked incredulously. “Who would throw himself off an airship just for kicks?”

“I’m under the impression Sapph was something of a daredevil,” Orion said slowly.

Haley had to mull his answer over for a few seconds before she could offer a counter argument. As she opened her mouth, Orion spoke again.

“We also have reason to believe that Mr. Manson has had a couple of run-ins with Team Shadow shortly before and soon after you started travelling together.”

“No, he hasn’t,” Haley said coldly. “The first time he met Team Shadow was...”

“...in EverWood Forest,” Orion interrupted her stoically, his eyes deadly serious.

Haley faltered, her argument, and her voice, seemingly lost.

“He next met them on a ferry bound for Nightspark City from Entover Harbour,” Orion went on dispassionately, his eyes boring into Haley’s. “And again in the Rocky Pass. I believe that is where you first met them yourself... in a manner of speaking...”

Haley had no retort to this as she shuddered at the recollection of Pyrrhus’s mother’s murder.

“Furthermore,” Orion said thoughtfully. “Do you remember how he escaped death that particular time? On the airship known as the Javelin, I believe?”

Haley’s eyes widened as her recollection of Ace diving after Sapph’s falling frame and evolving in mid-dive came back to the surface of her mind.

Shaking her head at the thought, Haley struggled with speech once more as Orion watched her carefully. Finding her voice at last, she muttered, “It sounds insane... mad, forcing your Pokémon into evolution by placing yourself in danger... but knowing Sapph,” she said more to herself as the memory of Anuvi’s evolution during the battle against Ricon and his Farfetch’d swam to the surface of her mind and pushing away that of Bubbles’, “it sounds almost plausible...”

Looking at Orion, she went on, “But it still doesn’t explain Olde Teake Town. Frau Hiyori’s death... Zula and Vulca burning down the house with us still inside. Hell, Sapph stayed behind to let Nora and I escape...”

“Nora?” Orion said, his eyes contracting slightly. “Who’s that?”

“A girl Sapph helped become a trainer,” Haley said dismissively. “She caught up to us around Appleburn City and left with her brother Reg a couple of days later.”

“I see,” Orion said calmly. “We believe he had done so to give himself time to communicate with and assist Team Shadow in dealing with the Light peons that actually committed the murder of Frau Hiyori...”

“...what?” Haley said, her shock beyond description.

“The Light is another group of terrorists, although with anti-Pokémon activism as their main forte,” Orion said calmly. “They believe purging the world of Pokémon will bring ‘true salvation’ to its people...”

“’Another terrorist group’?,” Haley echoed in a distant voice. “How many bloody terrorist groups can one continent hold?”

*continued next post*​
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Is this thing for real?! (TCQ ch38~3)

*continued from last post*

“Hoenn had two as well, but that’s not the point,” Orion said with the merest flicker of a smile. “The point is,” Orion went on, “their interest in Mr. Manson seems to further our suspicions of Mr. Manson’s involvement with Team Shadow.”

“What do you mean?”

“The Light’s first victim was a twenty seven year old citizen of Chinooka City called Trey Bolton,” Orion said calmly. “Further investigation revealed that Mr. Trey Bolton was a former Team Shadow operative.”

Haley took a deep breath and said, “But that must be coincidence...”

“Their second victim,” Orion interrupted her brusquely, “was, of course, Frau Hiyori. Their third target was the head librarian of the Legendio City Library, Ms. Kathleen Blair, who was second in command to the captain known as Zula’s regiment. Zula herself was killed by The Light shortly after the Legendio City crisis. Her corpse was burned beyond recognition.”

Haley clapped a hand to her mouth and violently willed herself not to scream or vomit, for surely both were on her mind and the likelihood of either was really high.

Orion went on remorselessly, “Mr. Manson was attacked shortly before these last two murders. Professor Robert N. Cumulos, a lecturer of the Pokémon Meteorology Department at White Tower University was nearly killed in Mr. Manson’s attempt to get away from his attackers.”

“What?” Haley blanched. “What would Sapph be doing the... wait,” the Coreian girl said as realisation hit her. “Do you mean when he was making the pizza delivery?”

Orion nodded sombrely as he said, “Professor Cumulos had several Castform in his possession. One was reported missing the day after Sapph made his delivery by the janitor. Mr. Manson also registered a new Castform in his name that day. I believe you can join the dots.”

Haley just looked at Orion’s face in numb silence as she worked her mouth, struggling to form the right words to say.

“Sapph stole a Castform?”

“Yes,” Orion said calmly. “Or should I say, so it seems. The Castform in the lab office were not registered to any trainer as of Mr. Manson’s... ‘visit’. We’re hard pressed to prove it belongs to university and as our operations require covertness handling. Thus, our hands are tied when it comes to apprehending Mr. Manson for the theft.”

Orion merely gazed at her unblinkingly.

“So?” Haley said defiantly, although there was a grain of uncertainty in her voice as she spoke. “Sapph’s a suspect to The Light as well?”

“From the pattern, it would appear The Light intend to destroy the interrelationship between all mankind and Pokémon, but are making individuals who use their Pokémon for evil their primary target,” said Orion. “Seeing as how radical their methods are, it can be safe to assume that The Light’s viewpoint regarding their... ‘justice’, is severely warped.”

Haley stared in horror, her eyes fixed unblinkingly upon the white table cloth, yet not seeing it at all...

All that time. Haley couldn’t even be sure when it had begun. But somewhere down the line, Sapph had descended into darkness.

She couldn’t explain to herself why it tormented her that Sapph would descend to the level Team Shadow had sunk to. That the danger she had encountered on several occasions were a result of his recklessness, his hot-headed desire to live on the wild side.

Why does it bother me so? She thought desperately. It shouldn’t, right? What was it that made this hurt so bad?

Sapph lied to you,
a sly voice taunted in her ear, echoing through to the core of her very mind.

No, he didn’t, Haley argued desperately with the mystery voice that sounded strangely like the Ninetails she had seen murdered and whose cub she now owned.

Oh, yes he did, the voice contradicted her, a trace of a taunt to its pitch now. He didn’t tell you about your father...

Probably because I didn’t ask him!
She cried out in her mind.

So what? You deserved to know the truth. You still do...

He must have had a reason...

Girl, please. Like what?
The voice said incredulously. He had no excuse. He still has no excuse...

He cares about me!
Haley howled in her mind. That’s gotta be it...

Ank, wrong answer!
The voice chided her, albeit with relish lacing her voice. Why should he look at you?

What do you mean?
Haley thought angrily, her pulse quickening.

Remember sweet, lovely Nora? The voice laughed at her. Remember the redhead from White Cliffs? Hell, Sapph even spent some... alone time, with Carla! And who knows how many others? We both know Sapph likes a thrill...

Stop...
Haley begged feebly. Please...

Hey, your own brother would rather hang with Carla than with you, the voice said her voice vibrating with joy at Haley’s distress. How you could kid yourself thinking Kyle would show interest in you, I’ll never know!

Stop... stop talking...
Haley pleaded, covering her ears with her fists although the voice she was intending to block out was trapped in her head with her consciousness.

I know you hate to admit it, but she’s hot, and you’re not!

Stop talking... I mean it...

Hell, you’re boorish, violent, always in your face around him,
the voice went on brutally. No wonder he couldn’t wait to be shot of you at the Safari Park...

Stop... it...

And that wasn’t even the first time,
the voice went on remorselessly. Remember before the Gatonda Tournament? Pampa City? The desert? Appleburn City? Hell, almost every step of the way, he’s been looking for a chance to ditch you...

You’re lying... you have to be...

Really, Little Miss Deluded?
The voice challenged her. Prove me wrong.

Haley struggled with trying to find the strand that would undo Orion’s story, but came up short. No matter where she picked at, the facts were there. Solid, immovable objects that brought the shelter she knew as reality crashing down around her ears...

She couldn’t see how it happened, but Sapph had had a myriad of possibilities to turn to Team Shadow... She struggled for a reason as to why he would do so, but the voice said calmly, And when has Sapph done anything for a reason? Seriously?

“This can’t be happening,” Haley muttered, gripping her hair desperately once more. “It just can’t be... I must be losing my mind...”

News flash, the voice chipped in tauntingly. You’ve been arguing with yourself for five minutes. You’re not losing your mind. You’ve lost it...

***​

Well, that was a circus, wasn't it? There are still many questions left unanswered. How will Haley handle "the shocking truth"? Is it the truth at all? What will happen to the Flygon? Are Sapph and Nicola truly alone in intruding on the company of Team Shadow? And will they succeed in their mission to thwart the terrorist syndicate's latest plot?

The tale gets even murkier in The Corei Quest Chapter Thirty Nine: Corei United.

Coming soon (hopefully) to a forum board near you...

Well, time to wrap this up firstly with our

CHARACTER PROFILE OF THE WEEK

Name: Damian Kent


Date of Birth: October 19, PA 1972
Hometown: Olville Town, Corei
Pokémon
On Hand: Poly (Porygon Z)
In Storage: Not known
Likes: Parfaits, his research, his family
Dislikes: people who interrupt or steal his research
Contemporaries: Melissa, Haley, Kamren, Orion, Theologos
About Damian: Kamren and Haley’s father is a research scientist whose whereabouts for the past years has been shrouded in mystery. Though they have taken different roads to get there, his children are determined to find him during the course of their journey and bring him home. However, with Team Shadow as his gaoler and the threat of harm coming to his family, even if they do find him, will he come home, or will his research and desire to protect his loved ones precede his desire to rejoin them?

And finally, it’s time for the...

COREI DEX ENTRY OF THE WEEK

108 Mimifly


Type: Bug/Flying
Species: Mimicking
Pronunciation: me-me-fly
Height: 6'10"
Weight: 44kgs
Habitat: Forest
Evolution Line: Does not evolve
Name Derivation: MIMIc + butterFLY
Notes: MIMIFLY are known to be capable of repelling any special attack aimed at it using its strong wings. It however is terribly weak to physical assaults.

Well, gotta go for now... hope you enjoyed it!

L@er!
 

Kindrindra

大事なのは自分らしいくある事
*Sets out to kill AGENT members*
Oh... Nevermind me! I'm just... Gardening! Ya, just killing some weeds...
Anyway, that was a uberz chapterz! And it once again proved Anuvi's poeticness...

Great, now I'm going to be on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one... XD
My fave line:
A loud, high-pitched keen shot through the corridor, causing Sapph, Anuvi and Nicola to swivel around at Zen, whose palm was raised at a neat, circular hole in the door. Sapph peered through and saw the guard rendered completely insensible by the Aura Sphere that had thrown him into the opposite wall, where his head had undoubtedly hit stone.

<Unlocked,> Zen said in a satisfied voice, lowering his palm slowly and reaching through the hole to open it with a low clunk.
Zen reminds me somewhat of myself there... 0_o


Well...
See Ya Later!
 

asperger1981

good reader
It is me, or you just put Saph's luck a little lower for a while. Barely stopping an attack to the dragons cave and then being a suspect to the authorities (and probably Haley)?

Major downer material, man.

On a similar topic, I have a few ideas in my head that I'd like to mention right after this:

1- I kinda suspect that Orion might be related to one of the previously shown antagonist
(team light, team shadow; Nora's relatives, Rubin, etc)

2- Type disbalance or not, Haley is having a serious case of idiot ball.

3- Saph needs a new travel mate, and some good luck.

Seriously.

;038;
 
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