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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 .

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
The fun won't stop! (TCQ ch 39~2)

*continued from last post*

***​

There was a great deal of excitement in the recovery ward of the Utopia Island Pokémon Center as eight Pokémon who belonged to Sapph interacted loudly.

<Good to see you again, Might,> Crimson said cheerfully as he greeted his early team mate.

<Audio sensorsss have detected salutation of amplified goodwill,> Might droned in its usual lifeless voice. <Unsure of what appropriate reply should beee...>

Arcana laughed raucously as Lavender afforded a more controlled chuckle lest she hurt the now-shiny Magnemite’s feelings.

<At least you have retained your colourful charm, soldier,> Ace said with a swift salute.

<You’re the only one who could call Might a colourful character, aren’t you, Ace?> Crimson said with some disbelief. Turning to the three newcomers who both appeared to be napping nearby, he said, <Hello, I’m Crimson. Who might you be?>

Yawning slightly, the little Castform opened one beady eye and after a large yawn, drawled, <You can call me...> Another yawn. <...Cloude.>

<The glorious Keynid does not proffer his name to lowly insects,> the small black husky pup snapped without turning around.

<Um, you just gave him your name, Wolfie,> Lavender said blithely. Turning to where she correctly assumed Arcana was, she added <Is it just me, but does he sound kinda cute?>

<Lavender, he’s over there,> Arcana said trying hard not to laugh at her best friend. <And if you're into guys who put up a tough front...>

<Where?> Lavender said feeling slightly red in the face as she quickly turned to Might.

<... never mind,> Arcana sighed with a smile.

Cloude turned a bleary eye to the Five Star Pokémon who shrugged and said, <Don’t go there. What about you, big feller?> He then directed to the large jellyfish like Pokémon.

<Tentis,> he said succinctly. <An’ I don’t shake hands... I break them. And arms... and legs. You had a broken leg before?> He said before adding with a manic glint in his eye. <Would you want one?>

Crimson withdrew his hand very quickly.

<Arcana, I’d like you to meet Might,> Lavender said to the large Fire type. <He was sent to Professor Yew’s about a week before you joined the team.>

<Nice tan, Might,> Arcana giggled as she looked towards the small Magnet Pokémon.

<Unfamiliar vernacular detected,> Might droned as it hovered towards Crimson, gazing unblinkingly at the Legendary Pokémon. <Vocabulary databank search yields zero results. Requesting definition of ‘tan’...>

Crimson sweat dropped as Keynid barked, <Would you keep it down? The majestic Keynid can not sleep with this incessant blathering!>

<Who’s Prince Snobby?> Lavender said distastefully.

<Dunno, galfriend,> Arcana said fervently.

<Like, Keynid just likes his space,> Cloude said slowly as he hovered over. <Nobody quite knows what Tentis likes. But he gets happy when he hears about others pain. I suspect causing it makes him even happier, so I usually avoid him as much as I can, ya know?>

<You seem OK,> Lavender said fairly. <Despite the constant lack of energy.>

<Nah, dudette,> Cloude said slowly. <I’m just real conservative. Like, real conservative...>

<Um, has anyone seen Pyrrhus?> Crimson said fluttering over. <The professor’s looking for him.>

<Detected the Ninetales dubbed ‘Pyrrhus’ absence approximately seventeen minutes, forty eight seconds and...> Might paused as he recounted this fact, <sixty two microseconds from the time my last word is to be utterrrrred...>

<That’s approximate?!> Crimson faltered as he gave his friend a blank stare.

<Affirmative,> Might said in a monotonous drone.

Lavender sweat-dropped as Arcana turned to Cloude and said, <What ah don’t git is why the professor brought you peeps down here. No diss or nuthin’, but ah don’t quite see the occasion...>

<Like, no offence taken,> Cloude said calmly, his twin ‘bangs’ fluttering as he shook his head from side to side. <The Sapph dude wanted to give you guys a break while we trained for the tournament thing end of July, ya know?>

<I dig it,> Arcana said brightly.

<By the way,> Cloude went on. <Which of you dudettes is Lavender?>

<Present,> Lavender said cheerfully. <How may I help you?>

<I kinda overheard the Sapph man talkin’ ‘bout making you team leader or something during the Trigello tourney training period,> Cloude said lazily, blinking back another large yawn. <So, I was just wondering, ya know, if I should call you ‘Captain” ... or just Lavender. Cuz either one’s groovy IMO...>

Lavender’s smile slipped off her face suddenly. <wha... wait, what? Why?>

<Syntax error,> Might beeped, shuddering slightly. <’IMO’ not found... ‘IMO’ not foooouund...>

<Like, I dunno, dudette. I just rolled with it,> Cloude said with its best attempt at a nonchalant shrug despite his lack of shoulders of any sort. <Pleased to be working with you, ya know. Hope I, like, meet your expectations!>

<Humph,> Keynid snorted, his back still turned firmly to the group at large. <The great Keynid pledges his allegiance to no ruler, nor his assistance to such an unworthy leader.>

<That’ll do, you insubordinate private!> Ace snapped sharply. <The General has given his orders and they will be followed!>

<The fantastic Keynid follows no man, woman or beast’s orders, and yields to no trainer or Pokémon’s authority!> Keynid declared magnanimously.

<M-me? Team leader?!> Lavender said faintly. <I can’t be team leader... what is Sapph thinking?!>

<Relax, homie! You’ll rock!> Arcana said encouragingly.

But Lavender couldn’t quite shake the feeling that somehow, Sapph had made a terrible mistake... not to mention a gross over estimation.

***​

“Zen, Aura Sphere!” Sapph commanded desperately as he fought what seemed to be quite the losing battle.

Zen prepared and fired off a pulsing pokéball-sized orb of aura at Cleopatra’s Arbok that had taken out Anuvi with nearly no effort at all due to the latter’s fatigue.

“So desperate,” Cleopatra sighed as without an order, Arbok arched its body and let the Fighting type attack speed through its coils.

<Wait... it dodged?!> Zen said blankly, huffing and wheezing as his jaw nearly fell off. <You don’t dodge Aura Spheres... they make you go splat.>

“...how ugly,” Cleopatra finished with another sigh. “Arbok, Crunch that Jutunkik into pieces and spit out the bones!”

Zen was too tired after the whole day of battling he’d had to pull off and defending Sapph from the snake Pokémon’s earlier attack on Sapph. The Arbok seized the Combatant Pokémon’s arm in its serrated maw and bit down with all the force its jaw could muster.

Zen screamed in pain as Sapph snapped out of his fatigued haze to scream, “Come on, buddy! Use Aura Sphere at close range!”

“Discard the filth,” Cleopatra said remorselessly.

With a swift flick of its head, the long serpentine Pokémon twisted Zen around (causing the simian Pokémon to scream some more as he was forcibly jerked through the air) and in the middle of its arc of movement, released the Fighting type like a fast ball straight at one of the stacks of steel containers.

Sapph watched, stunned silent in horror as his last Pokémon available hit, toppled and was promptly buried in the pyramid of containers and what seemed to be a horde of various and apparently heavy machinery.

“ZEN!” Sapph screamed, abandoning Nicola in the moment and running towards the avalanche of metal before being noosed by the Cobra Pokémon’s long tail and lifted slowly into the air.

“Stop you’re childish screaming,” Cleopatra scolded in her dispassionate voice. “If you cannot, I shall have it done for you. Arbok, you may finish him off.”

“Ungh...” Sapph murmured in pain as he clawed desperately at the Arbok shiny coils, unable to prise the cobra’s powerful grip on his neck, which was tightening by the second. Just as Sapph’s vision was about to fade to blackness, a loud, terrified musical cry pierced the air and a large, dusty green form flew into the room and barrelled into them, sending the Arbok, and Sapph along with it, for a loop.

Sapph felt the Arbok’s grip loosen slightly in the shock of the sudden attack and opening an eye, heard footsteps and a voice he dimly recognized saying, “Well, well... so you’re useful for something after all... now beat it, you dumb reptile.”

A second, brash voice bellowed from the depths of the cavernous entrance, yelling, “I have you now, my beauty!” prompting a second, musical squeak of terror and the familiar voice to spit out, “What part of, ‘get off me’ don’t you understand, you ignorant Flygon?!”

Sapph barely had the time to register any comprehension of the events around him before the coils begun to tighten again. Kicking and gasping as his air supply was squeezed off, he gasped and blinked back tears, rasping for help in a voice no one could hear... before the pressure on his throat was miraculously lifted.

Sapph thudded limply to the floor and choked and spluttered as his vision sharpened. Looking up at the ceiling as he struggled to catch his breath, he heard another struggle not too far off as his captor hissed and spluttered and the mystery saviour brawled a few feet away.

“...Zen...” Sapph said weakly, rolling on his side and focussing on the debris that lay several yards away from where he lay. “Zen...” he repeated feebly, his voice cracking with fear that his Pokémon may not respond.

Just as the Flygon and Arbok separated in the midst of their battle, Arbok beaten and mad, an invisible force seemed to clock it around the head, making its eyes go oddly blank and toppling it like a felled tree.

“What the...?” Kamren murmured, turning towards the pile of parts as it shifted slightly and a long grey arm pushed its way out, followed by the rest of the near-fainted, scratched and badly bruised Jutunkik.

<It’s you! You’re that Taebrawl!> Burner who had up to that point kept silent blurted out in shock, prompting Kamren’s mind to flashback to the day when he met the then-rebellious brawler...

-Flashback-

Pamap City Dojo, three and a half months earlier...


“What the- what are you, shrimp?” Kamren yelled rudely, earning a cold glare from the creature that sat or stood (it was hard to tell because of the cloak) before him.

The being said nothing; just stared.

<Yo, my master asked you a question? Or are you dumb?!> Burner yelled.

Still no sound escaped the Pokémon’s lips.

“If you can use Light Screen, you must be a Pokémon!” Kamren said in glee.

So, a Pokémon is in charge of Pokémon? Sapph thought, bewildered. Must be a Psychic type to intimidate Fighting types like Rumboo... but wait, Rumboo are part Ghost too, so why would they choose to serve a Psychic type?

“And if you’re a Pokémon,” the reddish blond trainer cackled, enlarging an empty pokéball. “It simply means I can catch you! Go, pokéball!” Kamren roared, throwing the pokéball towards it.

“Wha-?” Sapph started in surprise. “No fair, Kamren!”

“All’s fair in my book, widdle Sapphire!” Kamren mocked as the pokéball made its progress towards the strange Pokémon.

Reacting quickly, the being’s eyes snapped forward onto Kamren’s Therline, who was stepping out of the pokéball’s path. The yellow orbs glowed an extraterrestrial blue as Burner felt his body move out of control, his whole being also enveloped on a light of matching hue to the cause’s eyes.

<Hey!> Burner yelled, his eyes dilating in fear. <What d’you think you’re doing? HEY!> He yelled as he was thrown bodily by unseen forces into the pokéball’s way. The stranger released its psychic hold on Burner as the pokéball struck him in the back, splitting the ball open and sucking him in.

“What the-“ Kamren gasped stunned as the pokéball hit the ground with a thud, rolled around a couple of times before the light which had been blinking in the centre went off with a loud PING!, signaling that it had successfully captured its accidental target.

“Wow, way to go, Little Kammykins,” Sapph choked out having a hard time controlling his laughter. “What a classic catch!”

“Shut it, you wannabe! OK, you!” he added at the Pokémon. “Let’s see you dodge this!” he said with a flourish, pulling out a black and white pokéball with two yellow stripes running on either side of a yellow letter ’H’ parallel to each other, all embossed on the black half of the pokéball.

Whoa, that’s an Ultra Ball! Sapph thought, suddenly jealous. Why’s he get all the good stuff?

“Ultra ball, go!” he exclaimed, cocking back his fist and throwing the enhanced capture device at his elusive quarry.

The creature’s eyes went blue again, this time ensnaring the Ultra ball in a halo of shimmering blue light.

“Hunh?!” Kamren practically screamed in frustration.

<Sorry,> the being said softly. <But I can’t play with you anymore.>

With that, the creature under the cloak raised a fingerless gloved hand out of the cloak, pointing it at Kamren. Suddenly, as had happened with Burner, Kamren found himself completely out of his own control.

“Hey, what gives?” Kamren roared in panic as he was lifted bodily in the air. “What’s the meaning of this? Put me down NOW! I order you to...”

<Nobody orders me to do anything,> the creature said coldly, slightly clenching his fingers and he bent his fore arm towards his chest. With a sweep of his hand (the glove seemed attached to his hand), he sent Kamren and the Ultra ball soaring out through the wall.

-End Flashback-

So, you let Sappy catch you?
Kamren thought as he watched Sapph return the Jutunkik and turn to the Mystic Pokémon with a word of praise for each. Pathetic...

“Kamren?!” Sapph’s voice registered frank surprise as its owner recognized his rival’s presence. Kamren turned to find the Johton being supported by the anxious Flygon. “Is this Flygon yours? And more importantly... what are you doing here?”

One part from the pile rolled towards Kamren’s foot and he stooped to pick it up, said in a cold voice, “None of your business. And that Flygon,” he went on, studying the part intently, scoffed. “Who would want such a cowardly Pokémon anyways?”

“I believe I’d fit the bill, ya stowaway,” the gruff voice Sapph heard earlier reverberating around the cavernous dock bellowed. “All power and no spine makes a nice test subject, wouldn’t you say?”

Test subject? Sapph thought furiously as he felt the Flygon quake beside him. “You’re experimenting on the Pokémon here, like at Chinooka City?!” Sapph roared, his anger and indignation at Team Shadow’s gall exceeding his fear at the appearance of what seemed to be a second Team shadow Captain, dressed more for the part of a pirate captain than a terrorist. “You make me sick!”

The beefy man came to stand beside Cleopatra and barked, “And what have we here? Fancy-dressed free booters? Arrr, yeh’ll all walk the plank for this!”

“That’s what you’ll think!” Sapph said loudly as Cleopatra returned her Arbok and tossed a second pokéball forwards which split open to reveal another large Poison type Pokémon, whose pre-evolved forms Sapph had battled on numerous occasions that day.

Damn, a Nidoqueen, Sapph grimaced mentally, watching the large blue Poison and Ground-type Pokémon flex its powerful, armoured arms and wiggle its mouse-like ears in deliberation. It smacked its muscular tail on the ground three times and let out a roar that caused the Flygon to squeak in fear once more.

“Arr! Let’s keelhaul ‘em, Moryock!” The Second captain yelled; raising, enlarging and opening a pokéball of his own, spilling white light onto the cavern floor and forming yet another creature local to the Corei region.

Once the low-slung Pokémon had gained a corporeal form, the ground formed a deeply-cracked crater under nearly nine hundred kilograms of dusty brown rock. Moryock opened hazel eyes which lay under rows and rows of strong, raking studs that, despite their dullness, would make a Rollout attack something to avoid.

Ah, Moryock! The Mountain Dragon Pokémon, Kamren’s Pokédex began to say. They’re well known for creating new mountain trails by burrowing through mountains with ferocious Rollout attacks. They’re quite rare, both in number and typing, being the only Rock and Dragon type species known today.

Finally, information I can use! Kamren smirked as he watched the Moryock and Nidoqueen lumber to stand side by side and said, “Burner, you’re up.”

As Burner rose to his six foot two inch erect height, Sapph called out in warning, “Kamren! What are you doing?! Those guys are too much for you to handle alone!”

“I’m not you, Sapphire,” Kamren said shortly. “Nor am I as weak as you. So if you’re too Torchic for this, then butt out of it. I’ve got questions,” he added, glancing at the two captains and smirking, “and who better to answer them than two Team Shadow captains?”

“Tch!” Sapph hissed vehemently, glancing at his presently useless right arm, and back at Nicola’s inert form sprawled out on the floor behind him. He then turned to the Flygon supporting him, who was still shivering at the sight of Doracus, thinking hard...

He’d never been in a worse fix. He was injured, out of Pokémon, and his only assistance was a boy he’d rather have nothing to do with. And even though he’d rather get eaten by Cleopatra’s Arbok than admit it, he would be of no help at all to the boy trainer before him, assisting him...

Even that thought sounded weird to Sapph, given the rivals’ history.

He could try catching the Flygon, but he had no means to weaken it. And he could see from the desert Pokémon’s demeanour that it had had enough of people trying to subjugate it for one day.

Lowering his voice to a whisper, Sapph hissed in the Dragon Pokémon’s ear, “Hey, Flygon. I know things look bad right now. I know I’m about to ask you for something I presently have no right to, but... we really need your help to escape.”

The Flygon’s eyes flicked towards the youth he held with some surprise at the change in tone. It was less demanding... the Flygon seemed to muse as he studied the boy as he went on.

“You don’t have to help, you could just fly away,” Sapph said as Burner got double-whammied by a Sludge Bomb attack from Nidoqueen and a Rollout attack from Moryock. “I’m begging you, OK? I’ve no reason to be proud here,” Sapph murmured as Burner retaliated with Flamethrower. “But if you don’t help us, we’re all toast.”

“Sorry to put it so bluntly,” Sapph said, noticing the scared look in the Mystic Pokémon’s eyes, “but it’s not a threat, it’s cold fact. We need to escape, not fight. When we get out, you’ll be free to do what you want. I’m not your trainer, I can’t command you-” Burner got caught by a second Rollout attack from Moryock as Nidoqueen charged in with a Hammer Arm attack. “- I can only ask you. You’re welcome to join us,” he added, touching Anuvi and Zen’s pokéballs which were attached to his belt. “But that’s your choice to make. We haven’t got time either,” Sapph said as Nidoqueen clothes-lined Burner with the Hammer Arm and Moryock scored a third hit by steamrollering Burner’s arm deeper into the floor, causing a roar of agony.

“Ugh,” Cleopatra said distastefully as she watched Burner roll about the floor, clutching his arm. “Your lack of strength is so... ugly...”

“Best let us put yeh and yer pussy cat outta commission, laddie,” Doracus laughed as Moryock uncurled itself and turned to face the opposition once again.

“Not to mention your unsightly pride at assuming you could take us on single-handedly,” Cleopatra went on, causing Kamren’s blood to start boiling.

“Well, it was fun,” Doracus said with a cruel leer. “But it’s time for naughty kids to go nighty-night... permanently! Moryock!” He yelled in a commanding voice.

“Nidoqueen!” Cleopatra said in a vapid voice, stretching her hand towards Kamren and Burner for emphasis.

“...USE HYPER BEAM!” The duo roared in unison.

Kamren’s eyes narrowed in the light of the two balls of energy that began to swell in the two Pokémon’s mouths as Burner bared his fangs in pain as he rose to his feet determined to shield his trainer.

“Flygon, use Sandstorm quickly!”

Kamren and Burner quickly shielded their eyes as a powerful desert wind blew in from nowhere and form a powerful cyclone around the two Pokémon and their trainers.

“Grrr,” Doracus voice snarled from within the sand hurricane as his Rock Dragon Pokémon shifted a little for its next attack. “You lot are working together, eh?”

“OH, HELL NO!” Sapph and Kamren roared back in unison, catching everyone, even themselves, by surprise.

“Well, what do you know?” Sapph said with a sardonic smile. “We actually agree on something for once.”

“I’m not agreeing with you,” Kamren said stubbornly. “I’m disagreeing with him!”

Sapph smirked slightly despite their predicament and said “Heh. If you say so... by the way, this place will be filled with Team Shadow operatives in a few minutes given the racket you made down here...”

“’I made’?!” Kamren repeated in disgust as Sapph ordered a Flamethrower from Flygon to follow up his last order. “You made some of it too, if I recall!”

“What do you suppose that boy’s up to?” Cleopatra said in a bored voice, watching the spinning sand circle around them glow red hot as the Flygon’s Fire attack heated it up exponentially.

“Doesn’t matter,” Doracus snarled. “I’ll blow it away! Moryock, get ready to fire on my mark!”

“Again, whatever,” Sapph said dully as he clutched his arm in pain. Reaching down and hoisting Nicola by the arm and over his shoulder and staggering a bit under the weight, he turned to Kamren and said seriously, “We’re outta here...”

Kamren snorted with impatience at the scene before him and said, “Hmph. Do whatever you want, you coward. Just stay outta my way, Sapphire.”

Rising to his feet, Sapph turned towards the cyclone that trapped the two captains and with barely a glance at his rival said loudly, “Whatever, Karen.”

A vein began to pulse at Kamren’s temple as he spun to stare daggers at Sapph and hissed, “It’s Kamren, you loser!”

Sapph’s lips turned upwards into a smirk as he replied with a whisper, “I know. Flygon! Time for DragonBreath, go!”

“Arr, Moryock! Blow that sandstorm away! Hyper Beam... FIRE!” Doracus yelled as, unbeknownst to him, a burst of ocean blue winds escaped the Flygon’s fanged maw and hit the hot sandstorm with enough force to knock over a barn.

Moryock fired the beam of Megacite energy which hit the sand... and bounced back in all directions within the now reflective glass cylinder.

“AARGH!” Doracus yelled as he nearly got bowled over by the force of his own pokémon’s attack which missed him and struck Nidoqueen in the gut. Nidoqueen gasped in pain as her attack misfired and added to the confused and dangerous lightshow.

Time to go, Kamren!” Sapph called, dragging Nicola along as the Flygon hurried to help.

Kamren remained rooted to the spot as shouts and footfalls coming down the stairs to the docks grew louder by the second.

“KAMREN!”

Kamren looked at the machine part he still held in his hand and turning towards the pile of scrap parts as Team Shadow agents began to swarm onto the docks, muttered, “Burner... Flamethrower.”

One flash of fire later and an enormous explosion filled the cavern as the parts blew sky high, throwing the first wave of Shadow operatives and the captains for a loop.

Casting a last glance towards the flames that spread all over the dock, blocking the horde of Team Shadow agents from rushing him, he let out one last noise of frustration and, returning Burner bitterly, fled towards the small dinghy Sapph, the Flygon and the unconscious Nicola occupied.

“About time, Kamren!” Sapph said scoldingly as Kamren leapt into the boat.

“Shut up and gun it,” Kamren said tersely, exercising all self control not to hit Sapph as he looked back to see Cleopatra and Doracus rising to their feet, the latter positively livid.

Sapph complied, screams of “STOP THEM!”, “CAPTAIN DORACUS! LADY CLEOPATRA!” and “FIRE, FIRE!” filling the air behind them.

***​

Haley strolled along Utopia Island boardwalk, her mind full of the things she’d heard from Orion. Truth be told, she’d gleaned very little from him about her father’s whereabouts, but the little she had gotten was turning the search mission into something of a daunting task.

So, it seems Team Shadow has my father, she thought to herself as the noise of the people around her, which included skaters practicing tricks in the street to bikini-clad ladies riding bicycles past her. And Sapph is a member of their crew... what a thing to tell someone on the eve of the biggest tournament of their life! Just what does it all mean?

She was apparently so absorbed in her thoughts that, without knowing it, she ran right into the back of someone, knocking them down. The sound of numerous tins and jars rolling across the boardwalk filled the air as the person toppled, caught entirely unawares.

“Sorry about that,” she said apologetically, bending down to help the person she had assailed up. “That was totally my... it’s YOU!” she gasped as she looked into the purple eyes of a young girl whom the researcher knew by reputation more than anything else.

The young thirteen year old girl looked up and parting her long black hair (which also sported some violet highlights that matched her eyes) that had fallen into her eyes, looked up and said confusedly, “I’m sorry, but do I know you?”

“So Roni didn’t tell you about me, did he?” Haley said angrily, retracting her helping hand and leaving Zayina to find her own feet, dusting her knee-length, blue denim skirt off as she stared at Haley.

“You know Roni too?” Zayina went on in frank bewilderment. “Are you friends?”

“Not anymore,” Haley said curtly. Thanks to you and your losing to Reg at the Gatonda Tournament, she added mentally.

Aloud though, she said, “But what would he tell a girl like you about me anyways? You are dating him now, aren’t you?” she gave the girl’s clothes a look of distaste before spitting out her name. ”Zayina Edwadssen.”

A look of slight understanding crossed Zayina’s eyes as she tugged at her black and white striped top and said, “Look, friend, I’m sorry for whatever history you and Roni had...”

“DON’T YOU TALK TO ME LIKE I’M YOUR FRIEND!” Haley yelled causing the people nearby to stop and stare at them. “We are not friends. Not even by the remotest means of association. Are we clear?”

“Hey, crystal,” Zayina said, raising her hands defensively. “What are you doing here anyways?”

“That’s my business,” Haley said shortly.

“Look, can’t you at least try...” Zayina began exasperatedly before a ringing noise came from her pocket. Pulling out a PokéNav, she flipped it open and said, “Excuse me.”

Haley seethed at the girl as she took a few steps back and began to talk on the phone. Haley watched her face light up in surprise for a moment and she looked away to see what Zayina had been carrying. A sudden click brought her investigation abruptly to a halt.

“Well, I guess I’ll be heading to the dock,” Zayina said, scooping up the tins and jars she’d dropped and cramming them back into the bag. “Roni’s picking me up there. Apparently Sapph Manson is with him. Strange coincidence, isn’t it?” She went on, missing Haley’s look of shock. “I’d always wanted a crack at that action since the Gatonda Tournament... maybe we can have a little... tete-a-tete or two en route to Azura City...”

“The hell you will!” Haley blurted out angrily. “What, Roni’s not enough for you? Sapph as well?!”

“...what are you talking about?” Zayina said. “I was referring to battling him, dummie! Well, not like you’re the type to play it cool,” Zayina said exasperatedly, “so I guess I’ll leave you and your overactive imagination alone. So long fr- oh, yes,” she added, her shoulder-length hair whipping out behind her as she looked back coolly. “We’re not friends, are we? Guess I’ll have to see what kinda guy Sapph is for myself... if you get my drift...” She smiled a mischievous grin and said, “Ciao!”

“Oh no you won’t!” Haley yelled as she gave chase to Zayina all the way up the street, calling the older girl a bunch of names that caused scandalized mothers to quickly clap their hands over their young children’s ears as she ran past them in a vain attempt to block their innocent minds from the vulgarity of her speech.

***​

Once out on the sea a good distance away, Kamren turned a suspicious eye on his rival who had been attempting non-stop to revive his senseless companion, still decked out in Team Shadow garb.

“Nicola! Hey, Nicola! Snap out of it! Hey!” Sapph called frantically, shaking her shoulders roughly and slapping her face as the Flygon watched.

Kamren’s eyes narrowed as he fixated on the small silver ‘S’ on the side of the younger boy’s shirt and, rising to his feet , walked over to the trio gathered at the stern of the boat and grabbing Sapph roughly by the scruff of the neck, slammed him to the deck of the boat.

“So... you’re with Team Shadow, are you?” Kamren spat, his reddish blond hair falling wildly into his eyes. “Maybe you can answer my questions then...”

“Get real, Kamren!” Sapph snarled, kicking Kamren off him and rising to his feet quickly as the Flygon cringed. “If I were really Team Shadow, wouldn’t I just try to capture you and the Flygon and hand them over? You really think Team Shadow have enough men that captains can just strangle their ‘subordinates’,” Sapph sketched heavy quotation marks around the word and winced himself as his arm throbbed painfully again, “at a whim? And still have men wiling to follow them?”

Kamren glared icy daggers at his rival as he asked, “Then what’s with the uniform?”

“Stolen,” Sapph said shortly. “We received a report about Team Shadow’s activities in the cove and we came to investigate ad stop them if we could.”

“Yeah, right,” Kamren said coldly. “And why should I believe you?”

“I really don’t care about that either way at the moment,” Sapph said levelly as Nicola started to stir feebly. “We have an injured person here. If you’re not gonna help, get lost.”

Kamren opened his mouth to retort before a loud voice came out from somewhere nearby, “This is the UAS Hydro. Calling unidentified vessel... please identify self. I repeat, please identify self.

“Hey... that’s Tony!” Sapph said, once he’d heard and recognized the voice of his best friend. Reaching for the intercom, he said loudly, “Tony, it’s me, Sapph! I’m with Nicola Brambles, Herbert Brambles’s granddaughter, and...”

CLICK! The radio dangled off the hook as Sapph stared at his empty hand.

“Darn it, Kamren! What was that for?” Sapph demanded.

“The AGENTs aren’t really my crowd,” Kamren said simply, plucking a second pokéball off his belt and releasing its contents into the water.

“The AGENTs aren’t really your... what’s that meant to mean?” Sapph demanded as Dracya’s snout poked its way out of the water out of Sapph’s line of vision off the starboard side of the small boat, waiting for an order.

“Next time we meet, it’ll be at the League finals,” was all Kamren said in a cryptic tone. “I’ll find out the truth and expose you for the man you truly are then. Don’t wimp out... Manson.”

“Wh-what? Oi, Kamren!” Sapph yelled as he watched his rival jump over the side of the small dinghy as the UAS Hydro came closer.

Cradling his arm as the large battleship drew up beside theirs, Sapph stared at the point of the ocean where Kamren had vanished and, registering the use of his surname by his rival for the first time, said calmly, “So it seems, Kent. So it seems.”

Noticing that Kamren dropped something on the deck of the dinghy before jumping ship, Sapph stooped to retrieve the machine part Kamren stole, leaving Sapph to ponder Kamren’s actions and motives for investigating Team Shadow in some bemusement as he pocketed it.

“Ahoy there, Sa-,“ Tony began jovially as he was helped aboard, only to be cut short by a second, jarringly familiar voice.

“Just what are you wearing?!” A tall redhead with a moderate amount of freckles and a high-collared red jacket said brashly, marching down the steps that led to the navigation room.

“Roni?” Sapph said incredulously, recognizing the angry youth as Roni Ridlowski, a local Junior Sea Ranger from Nightspark City, and from what he gathered, Haley’s ex-boyfriend for a brief spell during the Gatonda Tournament.

“So, you’re with Team Shadow are you?” Roni said coldly, striding towards him. “Then we’ll just have to take you in for questioning! AGENTs, apprehend him!”

“AGENTs, at ease,” Tony commanded and the ship hands all around moved in, and they stopped at once. Raising his voice for all to hear, Tony went on, “Sapphire Manson is our Corei affiliate and as such must be accorded the respect due to a field lieutenant. Are we clear?”

“YES, SIR!” The AGENTs chorused.

“See to Miss Brambles’ safe retrieval, would you, Roni?” Tony asked politely. “Lieutenant Shrader, have the helmsman set a course for Utopia Island once Miss Brambles is secured on the vessel. I’ll be in my quarters in fifteen minutes’ time with Mr Manson if and when I’m needed.”

“Of course, Captain Parito,” Lieutenant Shrader said with a swift salute as Sapph and Tony went below, the Flygon hot on their heels.

“Why are we heading to Utopia Island?” Sapph asked his friend when they were a flight below. “And what’s Roni doing here?”

“We also got wind of Team Shadow’s latest activities in the Cove,” Tony said as he led the way into the infirmary and Sapph handed the medic Anuvi and Zen’s pokéballs for treatment. “We’re performing a joint sting operation when we saw you leaving the cove by radar. This country’s terrorists sure keep us busy.”

“No... ARGH! – kidding...” Sapph whimpered as another medic tended to his arm a bit more roughly.

“So,” Tony went on with a wry smile ten minutes after Sapph’s treatment as he and his good friend were seated at a table in the former’s quarters, the latter having changed out of the Team shadow uniform he’d stolen and his arm in a sling. “What is the story behind your choice of wardrobe? And your new companion?” He nodded to the Flygon, which let out a timid squeak and hid behind Sapph’s chair shyly.

“Oh, he’s not mine yet,” Sapph said quickly. “Right, buddy?”

The Flygon nuzzled Sapph much like a Meowth, Mogshex or a Skitty would and let out a friendly cry.

“Looks like the Flygon thinks otherwise,” Tony smiled. “You gonna nickname him now?”

“Maybe later,” Sapph said, stroking the Mystic Pokémon’s head with his good hand and smiling back.

“Good,” Tony said calmly, “because we have a lot to discuss, apparently.”

Fixing his serious face back on, he said once more, “So, Sapph, to business. Why not tell me what happened form the top?”

Setting the machine part Kamren had left behind on the table between them, Sapph began to tell him all that he’d seen and done.

***​

The blazing orange sun kissed the ocean as Utopia Island came into view. Sapph and Tony stood side by side at the hull watching the sun set as the island drew nearer.

Taking in a deep breath as the sound of Wingull and the occasional Pelipper filled the air, Tony said, “Y’know, buddy? I’ve been all over the world... Kanto, Orre, Almia... even Sinnoh. Corie has some of the most beautiful sunsets all around.”

“I dunno,” Sapph said with a chuckle. “Cherrygrove’s could give ‘em a run for their money.”

The two friends laughed for a bit before Tony, hiccoughing himself back to seriousity, asked, “Well, what now?”

“Wel, I can’t go after Team Shadow with a dislocated shoulder,” Sapph said reasonably glancing down at his right arm. ”So I guess I’ll revert to my initial plan of training the rest of my crew for the League finals. Gotta keep the level of my team equal, don’t I?”

“True,” Tony said with a nod.

“What about you? What’s your next move?”

“Sorry, Sapph,” Tony said with a smile. “But that’s classified.”

“No faaaair, dude!” Sapph whined as Tony laughed. “So not fair!”

“Well, you did ‘catch’ a Flygon today,” Tony said jovially. “Why don’t we call it squares at that?”

“Hmph,” Sapph pouted, putting on a good show of being irritable.

“Captain Parito, Mr. Manson,” the voice of Lieutenant Shrader said curtly as the AGENT joined them on the deck. “We have arrived at Utopia Island and have successfully docked.”

“Good work, Lieutenant,” Tony said appreciatively.

“Miss Brambles is also stabilized and ready for debriefing,” Lieutenant Shrader went on in a professional tone. “She has changed clothes and is awaiting you in the interrogation room.”

“My thanks, Lieutenant,” Tony said calmly.

“Not at all, sir,” Shrader said crisply and with a second salute, walked back to the navigation room with a brisk march.

“’Not at all, Sir’,” Sapph said in a pompous singsong voice, leaning on the rail with his left arm and chortling a bit. “Must everyone be so stiff about you?”

“You manage to avoid it just fine,” Tony retorted with a smirk. “Come on, I need to debrief you, too... standard procedure,”

“Yes, sir!” Sapph said with a mocking salute with his left hand and, shuddering with repressed laughter, followed Tony below.

***​

Fifteen minutes later, Sapph stood on the dock with Haley, Nicola, Herbert Brambles Sr. Zayina, Roni, Tony, Lavender and Professor Yew as the ship made preparations to sail them to Northern Isle, where the first test for Haley’s Trigello Tournament qualification campaign was situated.

“Here are Anuvi and Zen, professor,” Sapph said handing two pokéballs over.

“And here are the rest of your Pokémon,” Professor Yew said in reply, handing four pokéballs over and noticing the fifth one on his belt, added, “Ah, a new catch, I see!”

“Yeah,” Sapph said proudly. “A real softie on the outside but all power within!”

“Now, you do your best, Haley,” Professor Yew said steadily as he fixed the young Water type specialist with a kindly eye. “Just do your best, and stay out of trouble. Neither of you can afford to go looking for it, especially with the tournament season so near.”

“We don’t go looking for trouble, professor,” Haley sighed. “Trouble usually finds us. Thanks to a certain somebody, anyways...”

Sapph ignored the jibe and turning to Nicola, asked, “How’s your head?”

“Less sore now, thanks for asking,” Nicola said brightly. Their adventure in the Cove together had wrought some measure of trust and respect for the Johton trainer in the older girl.

“You’re not bowing out now, are you?” Haley said in a taunting voice. “Not scared, are we?”

“Pssh, you would be so lucky,” Nicola scoffed. “I’ll follow soon enough. And I’ll show you once and for all just which type is the strongest!”

“Please, you don’t need to show me, I already know Water types rule!”

“Hmph, we’ll see,” Nicola said in what she thought was an indifferent scoff.

“Ready to go, Lavender?” Sapph called to his Eevee who was playing with Tony as he turned to board the Hydro.

<Yep,> Lavender said, her sunny voice failing to hide the worry etched in her dead, brown eyes.

“Don’t worry, Lavender,” Sapph said quietly to his Evolution Pokémon as he scooped her up and planted her on his good shoulder. “You’ll be a great leader. Anuvi always thought so...”

<Anii said that?> Lavender gasped.

“Yup!” Sapph said brightly as Roni, Haley, Zayina and Tony followed suit, the former calling out orders to the crew and Tony nodding to Lt. Shrader to comply. “Told me so on our way to White Cliffs...”

Lavender was speechless in awe at the confidence her trainer and foster brother showed in her. One thing bothered her...

...if trust is what is needed to make an Espeon... just what was keeping her?

END OF SEASON TWO

***​

CHARACTER PROFILE OF THE WEEK

Name: Tony Weston Parito

Date of Birth: May 24, PA 2002
Hometown: Ecruteak City, Johto
Pokémon
On Hand:
Roley (Politoed), Genghis (Gengar), Steele (Steelix), Epona (Ponyta), Saffron (Jolteon), Verdant (Venusaur)
In Storage: Not known
Likes: Vanilla fudge, reading comics, adventuring, studying
Dislikes: Injustice (comes with the job), people who don’t play fair, bullies
Contemporaries: Sapph, Haley, Kamren, Nora, others secret.
About Tony: Tony is Sapph’s long time friend and classmate since he was forced to repeat a year of his education due to his family moving from Ecruteak in the Mount Mortar area of Johto. Being slightly sickly, he was the constant prey of bullies everywhere he went, up until Sapph stood up for him five years ago.

Tony then caught Roley, his first Pokémon (then a Poliwag) and left home after graduating elementary school for Pallet Town, Kanto. There he received Verdant, his then Bulbasaur and journeyed the Kanto and Orange Island regions, gaining reputation as a skilled trainer.

Tony disappeared from the radar over the next couple of years reappearing in Corei as an AGENT. No one knows what they do, but if the straight-laced, honest and chivalrous Tony Parito is any measure to go by, you can be sure they’re the good guys.

Finally, time for a triple threat Dargon Corei Dex entry!

Pokemon Name: Lizeu
Classification:
Sun Dragon
Type: Fire/Dragon
Height, Weight: 12’11”, 688kg
General Habitat: Mountain
Gender Ratio: 75%:25%
Pokedex Entry: Despite their calming looks, Lizeu can be rather aggressive, searing all who endanger their Solaron colony with an unmatchable heat.
Name Origin: LIZard + fEU (French word for fire)
Evolutionary Line: SOLARON-(35)->LIZEU-(50)->INFERGON

Pokemon Name: Rapteau
Classification:
Sea Dragon
Type: Water/Dragon
Height, Weight: 3’2”, 53.1kg
General Habitat: Cave
Gender Ratio: 50%:50%
Pokedex Entry: Rapteau mostly reside in damp caves where they make their nest under subterranean lakes using their tough and powerful upper arms to hew aquatic caves to which they retreat when under threat.
Name Origin: RAPTor + EAU (French for water)
Evolutionary Line: RAPTEAU-(Water Stone)->RHINODON
RAPTEAU-(Dragon Scale)->LOCHQUA

Pokemon Name: Moryock
Classification:
Mountain Dragon
Type: Rock/Dragon
Height, Weight: 7’6”, 894.9kg
General Habitat: Cave
Gender Ratio: 50%:50%
Pokedex Entry: Moryock are used extensively by road contractors especially when new mountain roads are being constructed. No amount of rock can withstand this pokemon once it gets going.
Name Origin: MOloch (type of lizard of which model was made (or thorny devil)) + RYu (Japanese for Dragon) + rOCK
Evolutionary Line: Does not evolve

***​

Well, not as long as I anticipated, but hopefully, it should satisfy. I felt this was as good a place to clip Season Two in half for a few reasons:

1, Lavender's rhetorical question may leave you wondering what will become of Team Sapph in the future. If it doesn't, I'm not doing my job right.

2, From Chapter 40 going, the Trigello Tournament qualifiers officially begin. Sapph more or less takes a backseat for now and Haley steps into the limelight for a while. Hopefully I can pull this off well enough.

Dedicated to: Divinity_123 (happy belated, dude... yeah, I know i suck...)

L@er!
 
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Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Air Dragon said:
Looking up, he saw a large double door with the word ‘LAB’ etched into a door plate set at eye level.
Obvious much? :p

It seemed that no matter how many more of them there was than there was him
I don't know why, but this part doesn't sound right to me. I know what you're saying. It just doesn't sound right in my head or when I say it out loud.

dove for cover as they collided; creating a powerful mist that filled the corridor with a thick fog that snaked down the corridor in both directions.
Maybe replace the semicolon with a comma.

<Here. Halfsies.>
Best line ever.

Sapph said evenly as he recalled Anuvi and Zen back into their pokéball.
Pokéballs unless they go into the same one.

And believe me,” Sapph’s eyes looked dangerous as they beheld a shocked Nicola,
Missed a coma :eek:

“It was ugly,” the voice said again as its owner stepped in front of him and the large snake wound itself lightly around her body.
Fixed it for ya :)

You are dating him know, aren’t you?” she gave the girl’s clothes a look of distaste before spitting out her name.
Now. Just take off the 'K'. :)

An excellent returning chapter. I love all the different characters popping up in this chapter. It seemed like a family reunion but with friends :p Keynid is still awesome as well as Kamren. Too bad he doesn't trust Sapph. Will he be able to make it to the quarter finals? I'll be waiting to find out
 

GastlyMan

Ghost Type Trainer
Great fic!

Ok, I just read this fic last weekend and I have to say, I really like it. There were a few minor mistakes though:
-At the beginning, you described Dex as being a smart know it all who is nine years old. However, later, when he was catching the Aron, he seemed pretty clueless. You also changed his age to fourteen.
-Calvin was referred to as "Chaz" for the first couple of chapters, and
-Tora was referred to as "Vulca," the same name as the Team Shadow member.

Anyway, great story. It's the best one I've ever read, no exaggeration. I like your plot, region, and characters. Also, you have really good Fakemon.

Drayca is cool. And Zen owns. He is easily my favorite character. I'm waiting patiently for the next chapter - of course, take as much time as you need. Oh, and is it too late to be on the PM list? Thanks
-GastlyMan
 

PsychicChampion

Well-Known Member
Ok love this fic Air but im tottaly confused on what happened to Anuvi?!?! I guess he got released or is staying with herbert?? Just like got confused at the very end and Lavender-badd *** blind eevee btw- is made team leader. Haha a cowardly flygon, what could be funnier but that unless it was like a Luxray or Glalie or something.

Anyways Awesome fic, a few mistakes in the previous chapters but other then that keep on writing!
 

Charoshi

Charmander is best
I guess I shall come out of the closet, heh. I'm a big fan of Corei. It has some of the best fakemon I've ever read about. I actually can picture your pokemon, which I can't do for a lot of fakemon stories. I would like to be put on the PM list, so I can continue following this story openly. Now that I have an account on the forums, I can follow this story properly.
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
All right, OK, let's attend to your immediate concerns now! :p

@GastlyMan

Ok, I just read this fic last weekend and I have to say, I really like it. There were a few minor mistakes though:
-At the beginning, you described Dex as being a smart know it all who is nine years old. However, later, when he was catching the Aron, he seemed pretty clueless. You also changed his age to fourteen.
-Calvin was referred to as "Chaz" for the first couple of chapters, and
-Tora was referred to as "Vulca," the same name as the Team Shadow member.
You read it all in one weekend? Wow, you're good... :p

Really? Wow, must go back and check that, then... thanks for the heads up!

In Tora's case, however, the change in nickname was to differentiate between the Fryger and the Team Shadow Captain. Sorry it was so sudden, I should have put a warning on that.

Anyway, great story. It's the best one I've ever read, no exaggeration. I like your plot, region, and characters. Also, you have really good Fakemon.
Thanks. I've been told that a lot... Guess I have to kick it up regarding The Project... (more info to come)

Drayca is cool. And Zen owns. He is easily my favorite character. I'm waiting patiently for the next chapter - of course, take as much time as you need. Oh, and is it too late to be on the PM list? Thanks
-GastlyMan
Sadly, Zen's taking a bit of a sabbatical for a while... don't worry though, they'll be back soon :)

Trust me... with what's to come, It's anything but too late to join the PM list... :) Added, btw...

@PsychicChampion

Ok love this fic Air but im tottaly confused on what happened to Anuvi?!?! I guess he got released or is staying with herbert?? Just like got confused at the very end and Lavender-badd *** blind eevee btw- is made team leader. Haha a cowardly flygon, what could be funnier but that unless it was like a Luxray or Glalie or something.
OK, let me bring the low-down on Team Sapph:

Anuvi, Crimson, Ace, Zen and Arcana are taking some time off at Professor Yew's Observatory on Olville Town. To honour his promise to help her reach her desired evolutionary goal, Sapph is having Lavender stay on as team captain and has brought Might, Cloude, Keynid, Tentis and the new Flygon Diamond onto the squad as the reserve lineup.

Diamond is not strictly cowardly. He's just a pacifist. I won't say much, but he can hold his own in a fight.

Anyways Awesome fic, a few mistakes in the previous chapters but other then that keep on writing!
Cheers, mate! And thanks for making my fic the place for your first forum post! Truly touched!

@Charoshi

I guess I shall come out of the closet, heh. I'm a big fan of Corei. It has some of the best fakemon I've ever read about. I actually can picture your pokemon, which I can't do for a lot of fakemon stories. I would like to be put on the PM list, so I can continue following this story openly. Now that I have an account on the forums, I can follow this story properly.
Will be added a.s.a.p. Thanks for the confidence booster... and for popping out of the closet

Well, there's a lot more to come, so don't go too far! From here on out, Haley takes pole position as a main character as her Trigello Tournament campaign begins with one of the most offsetting battles she's ever competed in... or witnessed! Next time on The Corei Quest: Chapter Forty: The Island Hidden in the Fog. Right here, on Sppf...

L@er!
 

PsychicChampion

Well-Known Member
Alright thanks man and Cloude a pokemon ersion from shaggy dude from the old scooby doo if you catch my drift. Oh phew for a minute you were saring me but I realized the whole physicals things with Proffesor Yew. Anyways try to get the next chapter up soon!
If you need a few OC for the Tournament I can give you a few.
 

Cryptic Blaze

Blinded by the light
Hey, I just got through reading your fic and it is very well written! I like the originality of the fakemon and the Corei region in general. You could give Nintendo a run for their money.
Air Dragon said:
<M-me? Team leader?!> Lavender said faintly. <I can’t be team leader... what is Sapph thinking?!>
You left out the 'a'.

That was the only error I could find that wasn't already found.

Aw, man... Sapph said grimly. Why is this suddenly not my day?
Poor Sapph...It's rarely ever his day.

<Um, you just gave him your name, Keynid,> Lavender said blithely.

<Lavender, he’s over there,> Arcana said trying hard not to laugh at her best friend.

<Where?> Lavender said feeling slightly red in the face as she quickly turned to Might.

<... never mind,> Arcana sighed with a smile.
That must be very embarassing for Lavender.

<Unfamiliar vernacular detected,> Might droned as it hovered towards Crimson, gazing unblinkingly at the Legendary Pokémon. <Vocabulary databank search yields zero results. Requesting definition of ‘tan’...>
<Syntax error,> Might beeped, shuddering slightly. <’IMO’ not found... ‘IMO’ not foooouund...>
Might definitely needs a dictionary upgrade.

Anyway, this chapter was awesome. Orion seems to be up to something to me because he is telling Haley that Sapph is not to be trusted. I can't wait for the next chapter. Also, can you add me to the PM list?
 

GastlyMan

Ghost Type Trainer
Thanks for the response and putting me on the list! Well it took me a little bit longer than a weekend (4 days maybe) to read but you know what I mean. : )
I looked at your website. It's pretty cool. Keep it up!
 

MerlockVonBaron

Well-Known Member
hey read the chapter thanks for sending me a message finally its up after god knows when? ill send you an im on yahoo somepoint soon.
 

Divinity_123

shove 'er in! ;O
Thanks for the dedication, AD :)

<So, I was just wondering, ya know, if I should call you ‘Captain” ... or just Lavender. Cuz either one’s groovy IMO...>

Lavender’s smile slipped off her face suddenly. <wha... wait, what? Why?>

<Syntax error,> Might beeped, shuddering slightly. <’IMO’ not found... ‘IMO’ not foooouund...>
The conversation between Sapph's main party was pretty funny. This was the best part though, I must admit... xD Might's a funny character along with Cloude, who's rocking the surfer/hippy personality.

“I’m begging you, OK? I’ve no reason to be proud here,” Sapph murmured as burner retaliated with Flamethrower. “But if you don’t help us, we’re all toast.”
You forgot to capitalize Burner.


Another good chapter. That battle between Cleopatra/Doracus and Sapph was great. Of course, Kamren just had to come in to save the day (along with Sapph's newly acquired powerhouse of a Flygon). I'm really interested into seeing how the Orion/Haley AGENT development will unfold. Haley's totally getting played it seems and it's quite sad that she seems to be falling for it. Sapph and her have been together on their journey through Corei for so long that it seems rather foolish to be swayed by a random stranger. I wonder how she'll go about spying on Sapph and his supposed Team Shadow "activities"...

Cool little flashback with Kamren trying to capture Zen btw.

Keep it up, dude ;)

Divinity_123
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
I can't wait to fly...

I'm alive.

Now to prove it...

@PsychicChampion: I may reopen the OC entry form soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

@ Cryptic Blaze: added. So glad I'm competition for Game Freak. But that's not too hard a feat these days... :p

@ GastlyMan: thanks for the feedback!

@ MerlockVonBaron: who knows? :p

@ Divinity_123: No problem. It's a shame, but that's what happens when you don't get close to the ones you should. Only time will tell if she really goes through with it though...

@DarkSpace2010: Thanks, man!

Now in addition to telling you I'm alive, I feel i must inform you that due to health issues, the chapter was not ready for posting yesterday as planned, but I can at least give you a sneak peek at the next TCQ Chapter (and Season Three premiere), The Island Hidden in the Fog:

Both trainers released their pokéballs into the air, where they spilled open, releasing their contents in the usual flash of white light. As Sapph's solidified in midair and dimmed, Crooney's hit the ground before taking a shape familiar to his opponent.

Opening his beady eyes blearily and yawning widely, Cloude gazed dimly at the larger Pokémon, who had taken his shape and was rubbing its right shoulder with a red-gloved hand. The Hitmonchan's eyes fixed on the bobbing Normal type and after casting a look that clearly said "This is it?" in a rude and incredulous manner to his trainer.

Crooney spoke up and called to Sapph in a disbelieving voice, "Can't believe you're using a Normal type against my Tekken. Don't you know anything about your types?"

"Battles aren't all won based on type, Mr. Battle Expert," Sapph called back. "And besides, I wanted a challenge."

Shaking his head in disbelief, Crooney replied scornfully, "And you say you won five gym badges? Don't make me laugh. Tekken, let's show this fool that there's a limit to cockiness."

Sapph smirked to himself as he recounted a battle between a Hitmonchan and a Cubone that had happened some four months ago. He really felt bad for the Hitmonchan, but showing up this guy was going to be fun...
That's all for now... catch ya sooner than... L@er!
 
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Paddypower

Well-Known Member
I'm here, I'm here, don't startvthe chapter without me. Last time I read through chapter 38 I believe it was, I realised "I've read this over such a long time, I hardly know what's going on any more." And hey. I had some free time. So I read the story again. From chapter 1. To 39. Yeah. So now Sapphy boy's swapping half his team? Pretty strange move there, pretty strange. I mean, HELL YES, Mighty is back and more lifeless than ever but, Cloude, Tentis, and Keynid haven't had any real formal train from Sapph yet, have they? That can't be too good for them. Looking forward to seeing Flygon around. My second favourite dragon type and all that. If you'd given Sapph an Altaria I would've exploded probably. Well, Trigello should be fun, and yeah. Bye.
 

Kindrindra

大事なのは自分らしいくある事
Woot. Apparently vanishing for two months has its upsides.

Loved the latest chapter, was a perfect way to transition from Sapph storming the TS base to getting ready for the league. Also, I've been thinking on re-reading this from the beginning, as my memories of some characters are a bit rusty (thankfully, though, I recall who all of Sapph's pokemon are and how he got them).

Also, Mighty is awesome. As is Lavander. And the husky (can never quite remember the name...) is as stuck-up and awesome as always. Especially since he said this:

<The glorious Keynid does not proffer his name to lowly insects,> the small black husky pup snapped without turning around.

Also, this finally being continued reminded me that I really should get working on my Fan Fics. Yeah...
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Season Three begins with TCQ Chapter 40! (AT LAST!!!)

I really should stop taking roughly six months to get one of these out... :( I don't know whether to apologize for taking six months to pull another rabbit out the hat (again) or to thank you for waiting so long for it, ears and all (you were still waiting, right?)

Forget what I said about ages earlier. Sapph’s a lot easier to understand as an eleven going on twelve year old. Two little things before we get this party finally started:

1. The character Tempest is property of Legendary Mistress on PokeCommunity Forums.
2. This chapter may go up a bit in the rating. It gets a bit violent. As in, over-the-top, no-holds-barred, insanely violent. Be cautious.

So, without further ado, let's get to it. Season Three of The Corei Quest's premiere, Chapter 40.

SEASON ONE

SEASON TWO

Season Three

Chapter Forty: The Island Hidden in the Fog Part 1 - THIS POST Part 2 Part 3
Chapter Forty One: Yin to My Yang Part 1 Part 2
Chapter Forty Two: Year of the Cows Part 1 Part 2
Chapter Forty Three: Water Battle, Full Throttle Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Chapter Forty Four: Drawing a Blank Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Chapter Forty Five: Game On Part 1 Part 2
Chapter Forty Six: Round Two... Fight!
Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade
Chapter Forty Eight: Deal or No Deal
Chapter Forty Nine: End of the Road
Chapter Fifty: The Wind and Mountains
Special Five: Blind Faith
Chapter Fifty One: Going Solo
Chapter Fifty Two: Mythbusters
Chapter Fifty Three: Heroes of Corei
Chapter Fifty Four: The Final Challenge

SEASON FOUR

SEASON THREE PREMIERE

Chapter Forty: The Island Hidden in the Fog​

Lieutenant Shrader’s dark eyes scanned the foggy surroundings as the UAS Hydro made its slow yet purposeful way towards the gate of the Trigello challenge, Northern Isle. The atmosphere on the bridge, although abuzz with activity, was frosty at best. The young man in particular that stood next to Shrader’s superior officer was being especially cold.

“Does approaching Northern Isle usually take this long, Roni?” Tony Parito asked pensively. “This fog gives me some bad vibes.”

“Well, unless you want the Hydro wrecked and all of us to swim to Northern Isle, I’m sure speeding up would be just fabulous,” Roni replied bitingly. “Go wake up our guests. We’ll be arriving in fifteen minutes.”

Shrader moved forwards angrily, but Tony raised a hand calmly and said courteously, “It’s alright, Lieutenant. Could you please let our passengers know we’ll be making landfall soon?”

With a cold glare at the redheaded Junior Sea Ranger’s back, Shrader saluted swiftly and said, “Yes, sir.”

As Shrader walked off the bridge, Tony turned back to face the bow of the ship and said to Roni calmly, “I wouldn’t be so rude if I were you, Ranger Roni. A good leader knows how to get results from his followers without the use of forceful means.”

“A good law-enforcement officer knows no one is above the law,” Roni shot back, also without looking around. “Including said law-enforcement officer’s old school buddies.”

“Trust me, I’m not making exceptions,” Tony said levelly. “If it comes to my knowledge that anyone breaks the law, I will bring them to justice.” And in a voice so soft and calm it was eerie, he added, “And don’t you forget it.”

“What?” Roni said with a slight shiver at the brief and startling change in Tony’s persona.

“Oh, nothing,” Tony said with a smile that unnerved the young Sea Ranger further. “So I heard you and Miss Edwardssen are an item.”

Roni was seriously wrong-footed by the speed at which his temporary co-captain was changing tacks but managed to answer with a mumbled, “Uh, yeah.”

Tony grinned as he said, “Must be tough having such a strong trainer for a girlfriend. How’re her chances for the Corei League looking?”

Roni was silent for a few seconds before he answered. Keeping his eyes fixed on the swirling mist, he said in a firm voice, “She’s not competing.”

“Excuse me?” Tony said in a politely incredulous voice.

“She’s not competing. As a matter of fact,” Roni continued firmly, “she’s given up Pokémon Training altogether.”

“But... why?” Tony spluttered after finally gathering himself. “She’s one of the strongest trainers in the whole Nightspark Bay area! Why would she quit?”

“Because it has come to her notice that if she kept trying, she’ll never make it!” Roni snapped.

“Now hold on!” Tony said blankly. “It’s one thing for nay-sayers to have that opinion, but you’re her boyfriend! Would it kill you to show some...”

“What? Some ‘what’, exactly?” Roni challenged the taller boy with his tone of voice and a cold askance glance. “‘Confidence’? ‘Compassion’? Where would they get her?”

“A lot more than helping her beat up on some bad luck streak,” Tony muttered.

“What would you know?” Roni countered gruffly. “You ever dated a girl?”

Tony’s eyes went cold for a moment, before adding in a low voice, “That’s irrelevant.”

“Au contraire, Captain,” Roni said coldly. “When you date someone, then you can talk.”

“Still...” Tony blurted out before Roni cut across him once more.

“You weren’t there when she got thrown out of the Gatonda Tournament this year,” Roni said coldly. “The semi-final round was brutal on her. It damn nearly destroyed her. She’s not doing it ever again! She clearly could not handle the pressure!”

Unsticking his tongue once more, Tony spluttered in anger himself now, “Says who? You?”

“Yeah, me!” Roni growled back. “Listen, I’m sure you have some ‘sagely wisdom’ and all that, but I’d rather hear it from someone who has a clue as to what he’s talking about!”

Tony’s eyes went wide with shock and he lowered his shaking fists to his sides. A few of the AGENTs and Junior Sea Rangers were likewise shaking in rage at Roni’s gall, as they knew he’d struck a low blow to the older leader.

After a few tense minutes, Tony’s glaring eyes softened and turning towards the bow of the Hydro, he said calmly, “How long ‘til landfall, Lieutenant?”

“Five minutes,” Roni said in clipped tones, a small triumphant smirk on his face.

“Very good,” Tony replied in a professional voice. Raising it to a commanding tone, he ordered the crew, “All right, people, let’s get this done right! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not swim to Northern Isle this time of year. Or any time of year, once it comes to that...” he added as a joke.

As the crew returned to their tasks either with appreciative chuckles at Tony’s joke and angry murmurs at Roni’s gall, Tony turned away from the smug-looking Junior Ranger and turned out towards the looming island with unfocused eyes, his mind on a face from his past; a young girl with short hair, coffee brown eyes and a loud yet warming laugh...

Mel...

***​

Haley stretched and gave herself one last look-over in the full-length mirror that stood against the wall of her cabin. Grey eyes and a heart-shaped face framed by reddish-blonde hair that had been done up in two long ponytails looked back at her as she fiddled with the zipper on her short white jacket. Haley pulled her bag over her shoulder, her mind on the instructions she’d received from her contact in the AGENTS as the UAS Hydro was still a ways off from the Northern Isle shore.

As much as we want you to stick close to Mr Sapphire Manson, the young man who’d dubbed himself Black Cherub had said, your safety and cover are more important. Continue your Trigello challenge as you normally would. And keep your ears peeled at the Pokémon Centres for any information on your target’s activities. The opportunity to investigate Mr Manson will come soon enough.

Roger that, B.C. Haley thought as she slipped out of her room and headed off down the gangway towards the top deck.

As she stepped out onto the deck which was abuzz with activities as human and Pokémon crew members bustled around, finalizing the docking procedures.

“Not waiting for Sapph? Some girlfriend,” A voice said behind her with a slight edge of derision.

Haley stopped walking and without turning around at first muttered, “Zayina.”

“Bit cold-shoulder, isn’t it?” Zayina said, straightening up from a smallish weasel like creature with a large yellow ring around its neck. “Talk about your Growlithe in the manger, eh, Bui?”

Haley’s eyes narrowed. “If Sapph wanted to come and watch, he’d have woken up earlier. Furthermore, I don’t need a cheer squad to fight a gym leader, or whatever.”

“And Sapph does?”

“Apparently,” Haley said in a sniffy voice. “What does it matter to you, anyways?”

“Not much,” Zayina said coolly, turning back to her Vulpix, who had whined a little impatiently for her breakfast and kneeling dwn to pour some feed into her empty bowl. “Only...”

Haley’s eyes narrowed as she snapped, “Only, what?”

“For the jealous, possessive type, you sure don’t do a lot with what you keep the world away from,” Zayina said with a smirk. “Have you ever even kissed him before?”

Despite the furious blush that had filled her face, Haley managed to snap back defiantly, “None of your business.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’, then,” Zayina said with a mirthless laugh. “Has he ever shown any inclination to kiss you?”

Haley raised an eyebrow coldly, and turning her back firmly on her interrogator, departed as haughtily as possible.

Guess I’ll take that as a ‘no’, too, Zayina thought as she smirked to herself and turned towards her Pidgeotto to add some pellets to its bowl in turn.

“Zayina,” a voice called brusquely from the direction of the bridge.

The Coreian teen looked up to see her boyfriend Roni approaching, muttering random orders to one or two crew members as he passed. Her Vulpix growled slightly as he drew up to them.

“What’s going on here?” He said abrasively, looking over Zayina’s Pokémon suspiciously. “You weren’t planning to train today, were you?”

“N-no,” Zayina said in a slightly defensive tone, holding herself almost as though afraid of being attacked by something.

Glancing back at the Pokémon assembled around Zayina he looked back to Zayina and said, “I just don’t want you to get any ideas, Zai. The last thing either of us wants is for you or your Pokémon to get hurt again. You do understand that, right?”

Taking a step forwards, Zayina’s Vulpix was stopped as Buizel stuck a paw in between them and shook his head slightly. Vulpix chanced a glance at Buizel’s firm look and stepped back obediently although still looking like she’d wish nothing more than to sink her teeth into the annoying boy Ranger before them.

“No,” Zayina said almost robotically, not meeting her boyfriend’s searching eyes. “I mean, yeah. Yeah, I understand, Roni.”

Stepping up to Zayina and stroking her arm he said with a satisfied look on his face, Roni said, “Good. You know I love you, right?”

Zayina felt her face being guided to look into his and rearranged in into a small smile and nodded slightly.

“I know it seems tough,” Roni went on, caressing her cheek and oblivious to Zayina’s Vulpix’s growls. “But I’m only trying to protect you.”

And with a swift peck, he turned back towards the navigation deck, missing her face fall back into lines of misery.

Vulpix and Buizel were straining against the psychic bonds that a small blue and white Pokémon with an onion-shaped head had placed on them to prevent them attacking Roni when his back was turned.

<Damn it, Medi, let me go!> They snapped in unison. <I can still get him from here!>

***​

Sapph felt a slight ticking sensation on his nose as he lay in his cabin, blissfully unaware of the lightening dawn outside his window. Reaching over to swat whatever it was away, something cold and wet that seemed to have been placed in his open palm assaulted his face, snapping him awake, instantly.

Loud giggling rang through the room as Sapph fought off his beddings that had tangled themselves around him after falling out of bed from the shock of the cold feel of shaving cream on his face. His blue eyes focused on the rolling vulpine Pokémon rolling around laughing on his bed as what looked like a small white cloud bobbed overhead, saying, <Like, I told ya it’d work.>

<Probability calculations for juvenile shenanigan success re-calculated,> a low monotone blipped from somewhere near the window. <Adding gullibility and insensibility variablllllllesssss...>

“Ha, ha,” Sapph said bleakly as a pair of slim arms each ending with a clawed hand reached down to help him up. “Let me guess: Zen taught you how to escape a pokéball on your own, right?” Not waiting for an answer from his laughing Eevee, he turned to the others and asked, “Whose shaving cream did you steal?”

<Not too sure, man,> the small cloud with eyes said in his lazy drawl. <One of the crew mates.>

Finally free of his trappings and giving Diamond his Flygon a quick and grateful pat and a smile looked around at the three other Pokémon assembled before him and said drily, “Is there any reason for the new alarm clock?”

Lavender stopped giggling for a while and hopping off the bed and into his bag, fished around for something as Sapph looked on, slightly nonplussed. After a few seconds, the Evolution Pokémon resurfaced with a small blue and gold box and placing it on the box said, <You really should check your calendar more often. Did you forget what day today is?>

Sapph picked up the box and blinked for a second, still looking confused. Suddenly conscious of what his Pokémon were trying to clue him in on, he reached up and face palmed himself with the hand which still had some shaving cream on it, causing Lavender to break out into fresh giggles and Mighty to drone, <Subject has fallen for the same trick again. Calculating possibility percentiiiiiiile...>

<Like, happy twelfth birthday, dude,> Cloude said happily as a knock on the door interrupted their thoughts. Checking to see that he was properly dressed, he strode over to the door and opened it, looking up into Lieutenant Shrader’s face as he yawned and said, “Oh, g’morning, Lieutenant.”

“Good morning, Sapphire...” Shrader began.

“Sapph,” the boy trainer interrupted sleepily.

“Sapph,” Shrader said with a smile at the state of his face. “Um, did I interrupt anything?”

Sapph frowned at the look on the lieutenant’s face and groaned, “I still have shaving cream on my face, don’t I?”

Nodding, Shrader informed him, “We’ll be making landfall soon. Maybe you’ll want to wrap up your shaving soon and get ready?”

“Yeah, OK,” Sapph said wearily and watching the lieutenant’s smile grow wider, closed the door gently and turned to his Pokémon and said, “Next time, we use the alarm clock. I wonder what this is.” He added, looking at the small parcel which according to its courier he was now entitled to open.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he pulled the wrappings off and opened the box within to see a blue and gold styled PokéGear Mark IV within. Speechless, he powered it on and saw two messages saved to it already.

Puzzled as to why his family would send him two messages, he went to the messages screen and saw the word ‘HOME’ next to one message icon and an unknown number next to the second.

After a few seconds of internal debate, Familiarity outdid Curiosity and tapping the first message icon and began to read the message from his family:

Hello, Sapph! And happy birthday! I thought I’d get you something new for your birthday instead of a hand-me-down. I know receiving all of Rubin’s can’t be fun for you.

Everybody’s fine here. Emma says thank you for Bagheera...
Here, Sapph paused thinking hard, wondering what on earth a ‘Bagheera’ was. A few seconds later, he realised just who Bagheera was and smiled as the memory of a small black cat with tufts of white fur came to his mind.

She evolved the day we bought this. Professor Oak himself actually passed by to take a look as he said Lyncto were quite rare. I stored a picture in your photo gallery on your PokéGear. Your father wasn’t too thrilled with her at first (especially after she shredded his favourite slippers), but he’s more or less resigned to have her as part of the family, as long as Emma keeps her away from his closet.

I’ll wrap this up here. I hope you are doing well. Send a message back so we’ll know you got this. We might have a surprise for you next time we see you.

Love, Mom and Dad.


Flipping to the picture folder (which took a couple of minutes), Sapph immediately found the picture of a young girl of nine standing in between his mother and father and next to a slightly stocky cat that resembled a young panther with a growth of white fur around its yellow eyes much like a masquerade ball mask. White fur sprouted from its tail much like a Charmeleon’s tail flame and a small pink nose stood out against its midnight black fur.

Smiling to himself, he made his way back to the message folder and opened the second message as Lavender laughed at Mighty’s manner of speech and Cloude chatted with Diamond. Wondering why Keynid and Tentis did not pop out with the others, he began to read:

Hiya, Sapph! It’s Nikke! Long time, no hear, hunh?

Sapph stared, unsure if he was really reading what he was reading. The memory of a small boy with freckles and pink hair flashed across his mind as he nearly dropped the PokéGear. Turning back to the message, he read on:

I got your new PokéGear number from your mom just as she was about to send it off to you! Lucky break, hunh? Here we were in Ruova, me and Rae (yeah, we’re going steady now) and we were wondering how you were doing. I mean, if it wasn’t for your advice to be myself and not to give up, we probably wouldn’t be together.

Sapph allowed himself a minute of reminiscing. Rachel “Rae” Micheals was the cutest first year back in his second year at Earl’s Pokémon Academy, but it was his friendship with the socially-awkward Nikke that spurred him to help bring them together... with mixed results. Happy that they were a couple (not to mention a bit miffed – Nikke and Rae were both a year younger than him), Sapph read on...

Added a picture to the message to show you what we look like now. Rae’s now Ruova’s League Champion, and I’m working hard at becoming a Pokéathlon Master after losing to her in the semi-finals. And no, I didn’t lose on purpose. People wonder how it feels to be weaker than your girlfriend and the tabloids had a field day when it came out, but neither of us cared much what the rest of the world thinks. I’m just happy we work out.

Sparing a minute to wonder where Ruova and what Pokéathlon were, Sapph resumed his reading once more:

Oh, Ruova’s a continent far to the west of Johto and Pokéathlon’s a collection of sporting events. It’s really cool. I heard they’re building a Dome in Corei where you are, near Pampa City. You should give it a look-in when it’s complete, or just come over to Ruova and watch me in action. (Ha, ha...)

Gotta go now. Oh, and before I forget, Happy Birthday!


Turning back to the photo gallery, he soon found the picture Nikke had mentioned in his mail. The only other picture there, it showed a young boy with green eyes and bright pink hair which partially hid what looked like a healing scar (or was it the light? The Nikke in the picture did have sunglasses perched atop his head) arm in arm with a pretty girl in a white and yellow floral print sun dress who had shiny black hair held back with a white bandanna-turned Alice band save for her bangs which were a shade of sandy yellow. Both were all smiles and a large gold trophy gleamed in the crook of the girl’s free arm. The picture was taken presumably just after Rae became champion, a large white villa of sorts Sapph presumed to be the League Champion’s Residence.

Smiling at how much the little tag-along he’d somehow picked up at school had grown, Sapph got up to get dressed.

Sapph emerged from his cabin fully dressed twenty minutes after Haley had departed; finally free of the sling he’d worn for the past two days’ journeying. The messages he’d had read weighing on his mind as he made his way up to the bridge. True to the first message, he’d sent a reply telling his mother he was fine, had received the gift (which he wore on his right wrist) and that he wished his father and sister well. He’d also sent a “Happy Birthday” message to Rubin... as an afterthought.

It has been a while, hasn’t it? He thought to himself as he walked down the gangway towards the top deck. I wonder how everyone’s doing? Mom must be worried sick, and Emma’ll probably be really ticked off at me for not calling...

Amusing himself with the thought of what Emma would say when he called for a moment; the weak sunlight that peeked through the swirling mist kissed his face as he reached the main deck and stepped out into the mill of crew members performing various duties.

“Well! I’ve got the whole day to myself. How should I spend it?” Sapph said to himself as he stretched a little, shivered and tugged at his jacket’s zipper, pulling it all the way up. “Guess I’d better go see Haley’s match... should be interesting.”

Sapph had just begun to make his way towards the gangplank when aloud voice called, “Stop right there, Sapphire Manson!”

Turning around in tandem with several of the crew workers, Sapph was intrigued (although not entirely surprised) to see the redheaded, scowling form of Roni Ridlowski fast closing the gap between them as he stalked down the steps that lead from the bridge to the deck. Leaping the last few steps and landing heavily on the deck, Roni stomped up to Sapph and, jabbing him in the chest with a finger, bellowed, “You are not cleared to leave this ship, bub!”

Fixing his hands into his long denim shorts and fixing a lazy eye upon the slightly taller boy (Sapph marvelled slightly at how much closer he and Roni were in height now, considering the last time they’d met, Roni more or less towered above him, and said calmly, “Really? Why not?”

“Do I really have to explain it, or are you really as dumb as they come?” Roni snapped back.

A twinge of annoyance crossed Sapph’s face at the insult and he replied hotly, “I was under the impression that you were escorting us through the Trigello Islands...”

“’Escorting’? Don’t flatter yourself,” Roni drawled. “As far as I’m concerned, you are under suspicion of having part in a terrorist ring, and as long as you, Sapphire Manson-”

“I know my own name, thanks,” Sapph said irritably.

Continuing as though he had not been interrupted, Roni went on, “- are on my ship, you will-“

“That will do, Roni.”

Roni and Sapph looked around to the opening that lead below deck to see Zayina, Tony and Shrader coming up together, a firm look in the latter’s face that Sapph hadn’t seen before. Even more startling was the fact that Lieutenant Shrader was dressed in a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a pair of faded blue jeans and carried what appeared to be a folded blue vest in the crook of her arm.

“Well, excuse me, Captain Parito,” Roni said with a gruff inflection to his voice, “but this happens to be my ship...”

“... and you happen to be under my jurisdiction,” Tony completed levelly. “At least for these manoeuvres,” he added as an aside to no one in particular. Shrader and Zayina could hardly fail to notice the lack of enthusiasm the young captain presently had at the prospect.

Roni gave him a look that clearly said ‘Are you mad?!’ and said coldly, “And just who is authorizing this guy’s little excursion from the ship?”

“I’m authorizing his excursion from the ship,” Tony said calmly. “As well as all further ‘little excursions’ during our operations here in Corei. But for today, I don’t believe Mr Manson will need permission. It’s not every day you turn twelve, after all...”

Tipping Sapph a swift wink and a smile, he turned to the lieutenant and said in his usual courteous voice, “Would you care to accompany Mr. Manson for the day and see he stays out of trouble?”

“A babysitter, Tony? Really?” Sapph said with a smirk of his own. “Maybe Shrader should stay behind. Keep you away from lockers.”

The two friends laughed as Shrader and Zayina shot each other quizzical looks and shrugged in unison. Shrader slipped on the sleeveless jacket and after saluting Tony swiftly and nodding to Sapph, made to walk alongside the youth down the gangplank and into the island township.

Seething, Roni turned to Tony and snapped, “That’s how you run an investigation? Pitiful.”

“At least I didn’t blow the whole damned operation!” Tony snapped back, his normally calm and poised facade completely gone. A look of abject rage seized his face as he stomped up to Roni and jabbed him in the chest with a finger and hissed, “Foul up my investigations again, and you’ll be answering to authority more powerful than anything you’ve got at your little kiddie club!”

Roni took a step back and began to sweat profusely under Tony’s incensed glare. Even the crew members from the AGENTs recoiled in fear as they watched; this was exactly why you didn’t piss off their captain.

Turning on his heel, he strode back to his quarters, leaving Roni in a cold sweat and his girlfriend visibly shaken. Gathering her wits, Zayina darted off the ship and caught up with them after a minute or so of hard running past Ecruteak-styled buildings and many children and women going about their daily business dressed in a mixture of Chinooka styled cloaks and kimonos.

Sapph and Shrader were in full conversation as she fell into step on Shrader’s left as the latter inquired into how Sapph and Tony had met.

“Well, it was the winter trimester at Earl’s Academy,” Sapph recounted as the scene played before his eyes...

-Flashback-

Earl’s Pokémon’s Academy, Violet City. Five years ago...

Rubin and I had arrived for our second year at the Academy to continue after the Christmas holidays, and Rubin had been mobbed by his “adoring fans”... leaving me to my own devices...


A six-year old Sapph Manson bent down to pick up his books that had been knocked all over the floor in the gaggle of young girls’ haste to surround his older twin brother. Dusting off the last one and his russet brown school pullover, Sapph walked off into the school building without a backwards glance.

Entering the warmer and more orderly hallways, a voice called out eagerly, “Sapph! Hey, Sapph!”

Pausing in recognition of the voice and sighing slightly, Sapph turned to see another boy run up to him his green eyes glowing with eagerness. “Oh, hullo, Nikke. Have a good holiday?”

Nikke skidded to a halt and looked up at Sapph with that look of adoration that caused Sapph some slight discomfort.

Nikke Starling was a first year kid who I’d stood up for the previous trimester after the school made fun of his mad amount of freckles, buck teeth, funny first name and his bubblegum pink hair. Stuck to me like glue the first term of the year, and drove me nuts. Anyways...

“Hey, hey, Sapph! Guess what?!” Nikke said sidling up to Sapph and walking beside him as Sapph made his way to his locker, sniffling a little through a stuffy nose. “I took your advice on the bullies from third year, and they only roughed me up a little! How’s that? Cool, hunh?”

“Not too much of an improvement,” Sapph said wearily as he reached his locker. “But I suppose half a step forwards are better than none. How’s your cold?” He added, casting a glance at the younger boy’s reddish nose.

“Cold? I don’t have a cold,” Nikke said brightly. “This is what happened after they hit me!”

On closer inspection, Sapph noticed a slight trickle of blood escaping Nikke’s right nostril. Sighing again as he slammed his locker shut, he muttered “You best let the nurse take a look at that. It’s really getting swollen.”

“Okie dokie, Sapph!”

“And while you’re taking advice, Nikke,” Sapph said with a slight sense of finality, “Why does your haircut look a lot like mine?”

“Uhh... I think it looks... you know, cool?” Nikke said a little uncertainly, twiddling a lock of pink hair which he’d let grow wildly indeed like Sapph’s had nervously, afraid he’d offended his idol.

“It’s a lot of things, Nikke. But 'cool' is not one of them,” Sapph sighed as Rubin and his budding “fan club” walked past, chittering like an irritable flock of Chatot. “I’ll see you later.”

Sapph made his solitary way down the corridor, dodging spit balls and paper aeroplanes with near nonchalance. He didn’t really need a tagalong kid at school, when he had one at home. Wondering how much grief his little sister Emma was giving his mother, Sapph became lost in his thoughts and found his feet carrying him up to the second floor of the classroom block where the sound of a locker clanging shut drew his attention back to the world around him.

Three larger boys were crowded around a cupboard from which loud thumps were issuing and a thin voice whined, “Come on, Doug! Let me outta here!”

“No such luck, second year!” The largest of the three laughed as the other two looked around and saw Sapph standing like a Stantler in headlights, cursing his luck.

Damn... fourth years! Sapph thought in a panicked tone. Just play it cool, Sapph... just walk away...

“Hey! Let me outta here! Anybody!” The voice within the locker cried out again.

Now, don’t ask me why I didn’t walk away. I couldn’t tell you... I was never big on running away from bullies, nor was I the best at keeping my nose out of other’s problems. All I remember of the next few minutes was the first thing I said to them...

“Why don’t you jerks pick on someone your own size?”

“Like you?” Doug said menacingly as the three boys focused their attention as one.

Half a heartbeat later, Sapph realised just how dumb a move that was and his bright blue eyes dilating in horror at his stupidity could only express his dilemma with a clipped “Oops.”

Not the brightest thing to say to a trio of bullies each about a foot and a half taller than you. But you go to school to learn, right? And I learned something that would take some time to stick: Do not run your mouth to fourth years when in second year.

The next few minutes were a bit of a blank, next thing I knew I had a mop bucket for a hat and a little less leg room than I’d have liked.


Sapph bumped his head against the back of the locker and mentally slapped himself. Once again, he’d gotten himself in trouble for not keeping his nose out of other people’s troubles. And had gotten locked in the adjoining cupboard.

“This sucks,” Sapph muttered to himself.

“Tell me about it,” the voice said glumly.

Silence lapsed between the two lockers.

“What year are you in? Third?” The voice asked after a while.

“Second,” Sapph said grimly.

“Get out!” The voice exclaimed in surprise.

“Nothing I’d like better, really,” Sapph said drily. “But Doug and his buddies had other plans.”

Silence rang out for a few seconds before the guy in the next closet let out a dry chuckle. “Good one.”

“A better one would be getting out of here,” Sapph said, kicking the metal door in frustration. “Any idea why fourth years were picking on you?”

“I’m actually meant to be starting fourth year this year, but I fell sick. Took three years to get back on my feet.” Plus my dad transferred to Violet from Ecruteak for work.”

“But how come they were bullying you?”

“I look like a three-and-a-half foot tall strand of spaghetti with blue hair and glasses,” Tony said bitterly. “To bullies, that equals lunch.”

“Oh.”

A slight thump sounded on the partition between the lockers. “Thanks for standing up for me. Kinda...”

Sapph smiled slightly despite the growing discomfort in his knees and knocking his fist against the locker wall said, “Not a problem.”

Nikke tried to let us out at break time and he got stuffed in the locker next to us. We became tight buddies after Earl, the head teacher found us and gave us a week’s worth of detention for skipping classes... me, Tony and Nikke. Been tight ever since...

-End Flashback-


“Well,” Shrader said in some surprise, as Zayina cracked a small smile. “That would explain the locker joke...”

“Yeah, good times, good... hey, what’s going on over there?” Sapph said, distracted by a small crowd gathering around the practice field as they walked behind the maroon-roofed Pokémon Centre.

As they drew close to the dirt field, they saw a battle reaching the last stages.

On one side stood a chubby looking boy in a blue and gold-trim body suit commanding a medium sized Pokémon with a large fuzzy yellow body and long brown limbs sprouting from it. Mean looking eyes and a round pink snout dotted its face as it hopped about staring down their faltering opponents: a red and black insect Pokémon with what looked like violin bows for arms and a spectacular black handlebar moustache.

“That’s a Primeape, right?” Sapph said, elbowing his way through to the front of the crowd. “Then what’s the other Pokémon?” Flipping open his Pokédex, an image of the Bug type Pokémon appeared on the screen as the device began its lecture: Kricketune, the Cricket Pokémon. Bug type Pokémon. Kricketune rub their knifelike arms against each other to create enchanting melodies with which they convey their emotions.

“Had enough?” The Primeape’s trainer said cockily as he watched Kricketune’s trainer, a tallish boy with sea green eyes stare back at him with a strained look on his thin face.

“Kricketune, use Aerial Ace!” He commanded valiantly. His Pokémon chirped back tiredly and firing its long, black wings took off into the sky speedily, gathering energy for the unavoidable attack.

“Sore loser,” the other boy snickered. Raising his voice authoritatively, he told his Primeape, “Let’s end this one quickly, Primal. Use Overheat!”

Sapph, remembering the powerful Fire type attack from his battle with Fuego knew this match was over before the attack had even begun.

Primeape crossed his arms and growled as his body grew steadily hotter, watching Kricketune loop-de-loop gracefully and come in with a speedy dive, streaks of white energy wrapping around it. Three feet away from striking, the Pig Monkey Pokémon uncrossed its arms powerfully and with a feral roar emitted a sphere of intense heat which engulfed both Pokémon, although it was clear to see that the red Pokémon was suffering all the damage.

Sapph, Shrader and Zayina shielded their faces from the intense heat of the flames as Kricketune literally crashed and burned on the field at the Fighting type’s feet, completely spent. His trainer ran a hand through his sandy hair in frustration and returned his charred Pokémon as the Primeape let out a victory roar and pounded his ‘chest’ proudly.

“Good work, Primeape. That makes nine straight battles already,” his trainer said proudly as he returned his slightly smoking Primeape to his pokéball, a smug look on his face. Calling around to the watching crowd around the practice field, he announced with a healthy overdose of a swagger, “Anyone else wanna get schooled by the top trainer around, Battle Expert Crooney?”

“I don’t know about ‘getting schooled’,” a voice to his left said calmly. “But I’ll take you on.”

Shrader and Zayina blinked as they saw that the voice belonged to Sapph, who was already in the challenger’s box and running a finger along the pokéballs that dotted his belt.

“OK, did you see him move at all?” Zayina said, a small animé sweat drop forming near her temple.

Scraping her jaw off the ground, Shrader could only shake her head.

“I don’t fight weaklings,” Crooney said dismissively. “If I can help it,” he added with a sneering inflection to his voice. “What are your creds, kid?”

“Five badges, annual PokéVolley and Gatonda Tournament Champ, Sapph Manson,” Sapph reeled off shortly, enlarging his selection. Smiling confidently, he added, “Pleased to beat you.”

Looking somewhere between bored and mildly intrigued, Crooney enlarged a different pokéball and said, “Well, then, don’t let me down, Champ. I want my tenth consecutive win to be a good one.”

“Just do me a favour,” Sapph said flippantly. “Don’t cry... when you lose.”

“Hmph,” Crooney said contemptuously.

Both trainers released their pokéballs into the air, where they spilled open, releasing their contents in the usual flash of white light. As Sapph's solidified in midair and dimmed, Crooney's hit the ground before taking a shape familiar to his opponent.

Opening his beady eyes blearily and yawning widely, Cloude gazed dimly at the larger Pokémon, who had taken his shape and was rubbing its right shoulder with a red-gloved hand. The Hitmonchan's eyes fixed on the bobbing Normal type and after casting a look that clearly said "This is it?" in a rude and incredulous manner to his trainer.

Crooney spoke up and called to Sapph in a disbelieving voice, "Can't believe you're using a Normal type against my Tekken. Don't you know anything about your types?"

"Battles aren't all won based on type, Mr. Battle Expert," Sapph called back. "And besides, I wanted a challenge."

Shaking his head in disbelief, Crooney replied scornfully, "And you say you won five gym badges? Don't make me laugh. Tekken, let's show this fool that there's a limit to cockiness."

Sapph smirked to himself as he recounted a battle between a Hitmonchan and a Cubone that had happened some four months ago. He really felt bad for the Hitmonchan, but showing up this guy was going to be fun...

***
*continued next post*
 
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Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
TCQ Chapter 40~2

*continued from last post*

After getting directions from some of the locals on the island, Haley soon found herself in front of the Northern Isle dojo, and the site of her first battle against the Trigello Crew. Having been ushered in by a tall, bald man at the gate, Haley tried to locate the arena, a task complicated by the intricate maze of corridors the building held within.

“Hello?” Haley called to the seemingly abandoned halls as her footsteps caused creaks and squeaks to issue from the floor panels that made the corridor floors, only slightly miffed that she had to spend so long just trying to get a battle.

Sapph never had to go through this nonsense, she thought grumpily as she took her fiftieth right turn and came face to face with another dead end. Looking to her right, a large set of double doors stood open, showing the outer courtyard through which she came thirty minutes ago.

Something nearly snapping in her tired mind, Haley roared and took a swing at the wall to her left and gasped as her hand went right through it!

Haley gasped and pulled her hand “What the...” she gasped walking slowly up to the wall and pressing her hand against the wall, only to meet no resistance at all. “This wall’s a fake!”

And with fresh heart, Haley did the only thing she had yet to try and walked straight into the wall, feeling a slight tingle as she emerged on the other side of the wall and on the edge of the arena.

Haley walked forwards out onto the straw mats and studied the outline of the arena which had been laid out with thin wooden boards painted black. The main arena was slightly sunken into the ground where she saw the regular demarcations of an official battlefield.

“Well, that took an annoyingly long enough time,” Haley said to herself. “Now where is this place’s leader?”

“Right behind you,” a voice murmured, causing the young girl to jump about a foot in the air and land on her rump in the arena.

Massaging her butt as she rose to her feet, she looked up into the slanting eyes of what looked like a ninja. He certainly seemed dressed for the part. His top recalled the one Herbert had worn during his match with Sapph on Utopia Island and baggy leggings tucked into his high socks gave the Coreian trainer the feeling he was a little too into ninja cosplay. Both were dark red as a small emblem of sorts adorned the top left side of his kimono top.

“My name is Mekki,” the man (Haley was having a hard time figuring out his age thanks to the mask he wore over his nose and mouth. “And if you seek the Trigello Crew, I am the one you seek.”

“Haley Kent, Olville Town,” Haley replied, pulling off a good impression of calm despite still feeling a little jittery about how her opponent had appeared out of nowhere. “So, you are the gym leader here?”

“Not exactly,” Mekki said calmly. “I am the guardian of the North Star Badge, and a widely acclaimed Poison type user...”

“Sounds like a gym leader to me,” Haley interrupted brusquely, clambering out of the arena to face Mekki properly. “Sorry, but I have somewhere I need to be, so if a referee could get out here, can we get this going?”

“The official battle between Haley Kent of Olville Town and Lord Mekki of the Trigello Crew will now begin!” A referee said appearing out of thin air on the sideline of the battle area, also wearing a ninja outfit (his was a dark blue and had a pokéball emblem on the left side of his chest). His sudden appearance and entry startled Haley once again to near cardiac arrest.

Damn it, are all you ninja against using the door? Haley vehemently exclaimed.

“Each trainer may use only three Pokémon apiece. When all three of either trainer’s Pokémon are unable to battle, the match will be over! As it were, only the challenger may freely substitute Pokémon at any given time. Are both combatants prepared?”

“Ready,” Haley said confidently, readying her first pokéball.

“As are we,” Mekki said through his mask, readying his first choice himself.

“Let’s go, Ento!” Haley cried, throwing down her first fighter.

Slamming his palm holding the pokéball into the straw-mat floor, Mekki countered, “Ninja summoning! Come forth, Chiiratty!”

Both balls broke open at the hinge and the room was bathed in bright white light for a minute. When it was safe to look once more, two strange creatures ‘stood’ in the arena.

On Haley’s end stood a low-slung beetle of sorts, its long, transparent wings covering its abdomen, thorax and two large bubbles through which it breathed. It looked up through blue, gem-like eyes to another creature that was a hue of purple so dark it could have been black. Its orange eyes surveyed the Scubug curiously as it clung to the rafters.

Chiiratty, the Fruit Bat Pokémon, Haley’s Pokédex beeped. Not much to look at, is it?

Haley stared at her Pokédex, unsure that it was seriously being unhelpful at a time like this.

Raising his right hand above his head, the referee announced, “The first match, Scubug versus Chiiratty.” Bringing his hand down sharply, he added, “Please begin.”

“Of all the Pokédexes in the world, I get the one with lazy tendencies,” Haley muttered. Getting down to business, Haley commanded, “Ento, let’s start this one with Bubblebeam!”

Ento’s bubbles glowed blue and a stream of quick-moving, translucent bubbles issued from his mouth and made a beeline for Chiiratty, who regarded the incoming assault with a look of polite curiousity.

“Ninja Art, Poison Gas technique!” Mekki replied swiftly.

Chiiratty chirped and jumped off the rafter nimbly, leaving the bubbles to stick to the rafter and pop, each with the force of a mini-bomb. Chiiratty opened its small mouth and revealing small, sharp teeth, released a purple fog cloud which enveloped Ento rapidly.

<What is this horseplay?> Ento spluttered indignantly as the poison began make him gag. <Such a bother...>

“Ento, Chiiratty’s trying to block your vision!” Haley coached her Pokémon as Chiiratty flew into the toxic fog bank. “Jump back and use Bubblebeam once more when he comes out or when it dissipates!”

<As painfully obvious as your first observation was, it is acknowledged nonetheless,> Ento said as he complied, taking a few steps backwards so quickly it was like he used a Quick Attack backwards and waited patiently, his eyes glued on the poisonous cloud for any sign of Chiiratty.

“Ninja Art, Scapegoat technique,” Mekki murmured almost to himself.

“What was that?” Haley said ponderously before Chiiratty shot out of the purple cloud heading straight for the Water Beetle Pokémon, black leathery wings spread wide. “Never mind,” she amended hastily. “Ento, Bubblebeam attack, once more!”

Complying swiftly, Ento fired a second salvo of explosive bubbles which Chiiratty was too slow (or too fast) to avoid in time. The bubbles surrounded the panicked Chiiratty, clinging to his small, body and large wings, the rapid explosions sounding out in tandem with its squeaks of pain.

“Gotcha!” Haley cheered.

<Indeed!> Ento echoed proudly.

“Hmph,” Mekki smirked as his Pokémon hit the tatami floor... and fell apart.

Haley’s goose grey eyes widened as Chiiratty seemed to disintegrate into a bundle of straw and fall apart.

“That was Substitute,” she said blankly.

<Then where would you propose the real one is?> Ento said his eyes scanning the field.

“That’s obvious,” Haley said as the poison cloud began to clear. “He’s still...”

<...in the Poison Gas attack!> Ento finished as a powerful wind began to blow from within the cloud, sucking the poison into three small tornadoes that had appeared in the cloud.

“Very astute. However,” Mekki said calmly. “You are too late! Chiiratty! Wind Element, Sickling Winds technique!”

Chiiratty, who was hovering in the middle of the three spinning (and now purple-hued) tornadoes, flapped his overlarge wings sharply, unleashing several sickles of powerful winds upon Ento’s unguarded form.

“Ento, Double Team attack!” Haley said sharply.

Ento, for once, did not waste words and blurred as he moved quickly, several more Scubug filling the area around him. They, however vanished quickly as the toxic winds hit them causing them to all fade out of existence.

“OK, time to mix things up a bit,” Haley mused, pulling out, Ento’s pokéball. Holding it up, she shouted, “Ento, return for now!”

<There’s no real need to yell, I can hear you...> Ento said indignantly before he was transformed into red light and sucked back into the pokéball.

So she recalled her Scubug, Mekki thought. Her next choice should confirm if she’s a Water or Bug type specialist...

“Let’s go, Blitzkrieg!” Haley called, throwing her second pokéball into the air. The familiar spilled out in midair, high above Chiiratty’s curious form, where it solidified into Haley’s Voltog.

<Birdie, birdie, Blitzie is a birdie!> Blitzkrieg said happily, flapping his arms comically like a Delibird attempting to remain aloft.

Knowing his cue, the referee announced the change-up, “Second match: Voltog versus Chiiratty. Please continue.”

“A Voltog... typical of a Water type specialist,” Mekki murmured. Aloud Mekki asked, “And just what do you plan to do in midair?”

“Why don’t I show you?” Haley said brashly. “Blitzkrieg, Thunderpunch!”

Mekki’s eyes widened behind his ninja mask as they beheld electricity begin coursing through Blitzkrieg’s right arm. Slightly panicked, he called out, “Damn! Ninja Art, Scapegoat technique!”

Too slow! Haley boasted to herself as Blitzkrieg sang, <I’m a little teapot, here’s my spout!> and on the last syllable, the Electric Frog Pokémon clouted his aerial opponent clean in the gut.

“Yes!” Haley cheered, looking at Mekki triumphantly and becoming severely unnerved to see him smirking. “Wait... why are you so...? Ohhh... No!” Haley blanched as ‘Chiiratty’ once again fell apart around Blitzkrieg’s electrified fist into a bundle of scattered straw. The surprises were, as they say, far from over as a brilliant white light bathed Mekki’s Chiiratty and he began to glow a few feet above Blitzkrieg.

Haley swore again as she watched Chiiratty’s body begin to elongate in several areas. His arms and feet stretched as his wings shrunk to form a cowl similar to Anuvi’s, though they seemed to still extend beyond his fingertips.

As the light died down, Chiiratty had become a newer, stronger-looking Pokémon; his orange eyes and new tail which seemed studded with dark purple thorns giving off a creepy aura as it watched Blitzkrieg begin to lose altitude. The new Fruit Bat Pokémon flapped larger light grey wings in an effort to keep its altitude.

“Hmph... Ninja Art, Round-trip technique!” Mekki commanded swiftly.

Blitzkrieg barely had time to register shock at not only his attack missing, but Chiiratty’s evolution before the larger Fruit Bat Pokémon became bathed in white light and, flying through the debris of his Substitute, caught the Voltog clean in the gut with a powerful headbutt, all before Blitzkrieg could hit the gym floor.

Blitzkrieg went flying backwards painfully but dug in heroically as he hit the floor, barrel-rolling once before righting himself into a backwards skid.

<That... wasn’t yummy,> Blitzkrieg said with a groan as he clutched his stomach and watched the new Pokémon pull off a graceful aerial backflip and turning into red light, vanish into his pokéball which hung from Mekki’s sash.

Haley’s eyes were popping in her sockets. Not only had her opponent’s Pokémon evolved in the middle of the match, he had substituted his Pokémon when he was not permitted to do so by the rules.

Haley screeched, “What the hell was that?! And didn’t he just switch Pokémon? Isn’t all this against the rules?! Hey, ref! Shouldn’t he be disqualified or something?!”

“Did you actually see Lord Mekki actively switch Pokémon?” The referee said calmly.

“Is that a freaking trick question?!”

“Indeed, the master’s Winglyde was returned,” the referee went on. “But as an added effect of Round-trip. That’s U-turn to you,” he added, spotting Haley’s bemused look. “It’s perfectly allowed.”

“Wait... U-turn? Winglyde?” Haley muttered bemusedly. “Since when have gym leaders been above the rules?”

“You misunderstand,” Mekki said gruffly. “Have I ever said I’m a Gym Leader?”

“What do you...?” Haley spluttered before Mekki overrode her.

“So many questions,” Mekki said in such a plaintive voice he sounded chiding. “I’m no gym leader. I’m one of the Trigello Squad, and the master tactician Mekki. You are gravely mistaken if you think we are in the same league as the Corei Gym Leaders.”

“What?” Haley gasped, appalled at the young master’s gall.

“Furthermore,” Mekki said tauntingly. “If you are entered in this tournament, you are, as I believe, confident in your prowess as a type specialist. Every trainer must show confidence in their Pokémon. Type specialists more so.”

Haley grit her teeth in anger as Mekki went on, “They need to adapt to changes in battle. Not every battle is fought at an advantage. A true type specialist can win even at a disadvantage. That is, if you are one...”

His last taunt had crossed the line. Raising her voice angrily, she bellowed, “And who’s the one without a Pokémon on the field? Get on with it already!”

Mekki smirked. Enlarging his second pokéball after a series of quick hand seals, he slammed it on the ground as before and said, “As you wish. Summoning technique! Come forth... Muk!”

The third flash of white light came and went quickly. Soon afterwards, a terrible stench filled the air as a purple goop bubbled and rose up from the gaps in the matting. As it bubbled and swelled, Blitzkrieg took a half step back and recoiled as the purple mass reached its maximum height of nearly four feet and small beady eyes opened up on the slimy film and beheld the Electric Frog Pokémon. Dark purple (what was with this thing and disgusting shades of purple?) goop dribbled out of its gaping, near-shapeless mouth like a Gloom’s drool.

“Well, that explains their nose masks,” Haley said grimly, as Blitzkrieg began to take on a greenish tinge to his coral blue skin.

“One more thing,” Mekki said through his mask. “I have a prediction.”

Haley’s eyes narrowed as they began to water uncontrollably. “Oh, do you?” She said aggressively.

Mekki nodded and said, “This battle will not last three turns.”

“Say what?!” Haley screeched indignantly as the referee stepped up to the sidelines and announced, “The third match: Voltog versus Muk. Please begin!”

“First move,” Mekki said, forming a quick hand seal which Muk imitated. “Fire Element, Flame Emission technique!”

“Stop making up your own attack names!” Haley yelled angrily as Muk puffed up his cheeks. “Blitzkrieg, use Vital Throw!”

It only took Haley four seconds to realize what a BIG MISTAKE that move was.

Blitzkrieg complied by leaping forwards, ready to give Muk the old heave-ho, when Muk exhaled, a huge stream of crimson and gold flames washing over Blitzkrieg angrily, causing the Water/Electric type to cry out in pain for several long seconds.

As the attack passed, Mekki was politely surprised to see the Voltog still standing right before his Muk. Before he could verbally acknowledge this feat, Blitzkrieg had grasped Muk’s terrible body around its middle (which would be just under the mouth) and heaved.

Yeah, that’s the way! Haley cheered mentally just before Blitzkrieg’s knee buckled.

Gasping, Haley demanded, “Blitzie! You OK?”

<Blitzie no feel good,> Blitzkrieg slurred heavily. His eyes suddenly glinted with steely determination, and veins began popping in his muscular arms as he added in a yell, <IT ALL YOUR FAULT!> as he chucked all thirty kilograms of Muk high into the air.

Haley clenched her fist and cheered, “Thatta boy, Blitzie! Go after it with Thunderpunch!”

One eye closed in pain, Blitzkrieg however followed orders as he clenched his right fist, golden electricity coursing through the Water type’s entire arm. Summoning all his strength to his legs, Blitzkrieg leapt into the air just as Mekki’s Muk righted himself and delivered a swift jab to Muk’s gut.

“That’s two. We have you now,” Mekki said grimly. “Muk, don’t let go! Use Earth Element, Mud Bomb technique!”

Muk groaned in pain, but like Blitzkrieg, followed orders and began to engulf his opponent’s arm, holding him fast as it formed two hands from his usually formless body and clasped them together almost as though in prayer. Taking a deep breath as Blitzkrieg winced once more in agony, Muk hocked up a filthy great mass of mud striking Blitzkrieg clean in the face as they fell back to earth.

“Argh! Blitzkrieg, no!” Haley cried out as Mekki’s strategy became obvious and Muk came crashing down on the field, landing his whole weight on Haley’s Voltog with a slight shudder. Muk slid off Blitzkrieg back towards his trainer, leaving Blitzkrieg fully visible to Haley, as well as his inability to continue the battle.

“Winner, Muk,” the referee announced unnecessarily as Haley ground her teeth in anger and returned Blitzkrieg without a word.

“I told you this match wouldn’t even last three turns,” Mekki said in a confident voice.

“What I don’t get is,” Haley muttered more to herself than to her adversary, “why Blitzkrieg’s attacks had such little effect...”

“Easy,” Mekki said. Haley looked up angrily as Mekki began to lecture her once more. “I trained Muk, in addition to using a large amount of nature-manipulating techniques, to heighten its already-powerful defences. In addition, Muk’s Flame Emission Technique burned your Voltog, lowering his attack power considerably. It wasn’t helped much by the amount of physical attacks you ca-“

“Shut up,” Haley said coldly. “I’ve had about enough...” her voice rising to an enraged scream as she enlarged Ento’s pokéball angrily. “OF YOUR CONDESCENDING SERMONS! ENTO, GET OUT HERE AND END THIS!”

Mekki sighed and shook his head as the yellow and blue Water Beetle Pokémon took the field once more and the referee announced, “Fourth match, Scubug versus Muk. Please begin.”

***​

The Pokémon Centre was usually abuzz with activity due to the high patronage of the battle arena outside, which served as the meeting place of the local Battle Club members. Many of the people presently inside had suffered defeat at the hands of Crooney and his Fighting type team earlier that morning. The boy whose Kricketune had lost minutes earlier was just receiving his healed Pokémon back when a great shout went up from out back.

The people inside who were up until that moment chatting and arranging match-ups for later all looked around as someone stuck his head in announced loudly, “You’ve gotta come see this, everybody! Crooney losing to some kid and a Castform!”

A shocked silence ran through the lobby as the guy shut the door swiftly behind him. Crooney was known by reputation to be as tough as nails and all the people milling around knew Castform to be a Pokémon many would overlook in competitions, and a Normal type, which usually don’t last long against Pokémon one would expect Crooney to use.

There was a sudden avalanche of movement as everybody stormed out to take a look at once, forming a scrum at the glass door. In the confusion, several of the smaller trainers were able to squeeze their way out and ran to the field just as Sapph called out, “Incoming, Cloude!”

Crooney’s Hitmonchan Tekken lunged in with both fists blazing in execution of a Close Combat attack aimed right at the small Weather Pokémon who ducked and weaved in and out of Tekken’s continuous lunges, a feat made easy thanks to Cloude’s smaller than usual size and the Hitmonchan’s steadily sluggish movements.

Crooney and Tekken’s tempers were peaking as Cloude returned to float in front of his trainer as the crowd cheered and whooped.

“This... isn’t possible...” Crooney snarled as Hitmonchan gasped for breath. “We should be walking that pipsqueak! What’s going on?”

“Simple,” Sapph said calmly as Cloude yawned once again. “My dad owns a Hitmonchan and I’ve watched them train many times. So I’d know a Hitmonchan’s weak point well.”

“’Weak point’?” Crooney spluttered. “WHAT WEAK POINT?!”

Sapph smiled slightly as he told Crooney, “A Hitmonchan needs rest after every three minutes of fighting, idiot. Don’t tell me you didn’t know that?!”

The slight on Crooney’s intelligence was too much for the Hitmonchan who roared and, despite his limbs feeling like lead, leapt towards Sapph, his fists glowing with pure Megacite energy.

<Like, bad move, dude,> Cloude said, zipping to interpose himself between Tekken and Sapph and inhaling deeply. The enraged Punching Pokémon was barely an inch away from hitting the stoic Castform when the latter unloaded a tremendous gale right into Tekken’s face, causing the Fighting type’s eyes to widen in shock and fear. Crooney, caught badly off guard, was thrown off his feet by the intense wind which seemed to blow away the Hitmonchan’s consciousness and send him for a twenty foot loop.

“Blizzard?” Sapph said to himself in shock as Tekken landed head first on the field in a dead faint. “But in this weather, it shouldn’t have that much power, considering that I haven’t exactly trained Cloude that much...”

Sapph’s Pokédex sprang to life and spoke in its robotic voice, which for once sounded more like Mighty than its pseudo-human self: That's odd... Castform has successfully learned... Hurricane. Odd thing is, Castform usually cannot learn that attack on principle.

Hurricane? What’s that? Sapph thought curiously, pulling out his faithful Pokédex and reaching to scroll the attack database. However, as usual, the Pok’edex was one step ahead and supplied the answer to Sapph’s very thought:

Hurricane, Flying type attack. Power, one hundred and twenty; accuracy, seventy percent. Hurricane has a thirty percent chance of confusing the opponent whenever it hits.

<Dude, like, you groovy?> Cloude turned back to watch Sapph out of concern, his voice as slow as ever.

“Yeah, Cloude. I’m groovy. Thanks for the good job,” Sapph replied, flashing a grin and a thumbs up as he pulled out the Castform’s pokéball. “Well, whatever triggered you to learn it, Windstorm came in handy. It probably will again in very short order,” he added, returning Cloude to his pokéball and turning to see the crowd watch him almost silently and Zayina and Shrader hurry up to him.

“That was... insane,” Zayina said bleakly, still looking wigged out by the final move Cloude has executed.

“Quite a battle,” Shrader said, seriously impressed.

“Yeah, that Hurricane attack...” Sapph began, before Shrader cut him off and Zayina shook her head.

“Not just that,” Shrader said with a smile. “The whole thing. Most people wouldn’t dream of using a Castform to battle a Hitmonchan, let alone winning.”

Sapph thought back to his first “battle” and smiled. “I’ve seen people do similar. Now come on. We’d better move it or we’ll miss Haley’s battle...”

“Hold it!” Several voices in the crowd yelled.

Sapph, Shrader and Zayina all jumped as several people pulled pokéballs out of nowhere.

One young boy with hair as dark as Sapph stepped up and announced, “If you wanna leave, you gotta battle me first!”

“No, me!” A girl with her sandy hair tied up in pigtails shouted.

“You crazy? He’s battling ME first?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Me first!”

“No, me!”

Soon, the air was filled with shouts and yells of “Me!”, “No, I’m next!” and “You’re nuts! He’s battling me next!” filled the air all around the trio.

Sapph and Shrader turned desperately to Zayina and asked, “Does this happen often?”

Zayina shrugged and said, “Well, Battle Clubs are new here. And they are the rage. Looks like you have a rep to uphold.”

Sighing in resignation, Shrader moved to get the multitude of challengers organized and Sapph smiled a weary smile at Zayina.

Sorry, Haley, Sapph thought with an apologetic grin. Looks like this might take a while... as the first trainer stepped into Crooney’s place and released a Monferno onto the field.

Pulling a second pokéball free, he enlarged it and called, “Let’s go, Keynid!”

***​

Back at the Trigello dojo, things were certainly heating up, to say the least.

“Fire Element, Flame Emission technique!”

“Ento, use Aqua Jet!”

Muk blew out a second stream of red and white flames towards Haley’s low-slung insect, which wrapped itself in water before charging straight into the flames. Fire and water clashed magnificently, creating a second screen of misty vapour.

“OK, that didn’t work,” Haley said to herself grimly. “I wish Ento had more training before this. Oh, well...”

Her Scubug is quick, Mekki mused. Very quick... and while I’ve kept her at bay, I can only do so much. Muk cannot keep this up for long...

Aloud, Mekki called for his Muk’s next attack: “Storm Element, Thunder technique!”

Ugh, can’t he use conventional names for his attacks? Haley groaned to herself as she watched storm clouds gather overhead for a Thunder attack. “At least I can see what this one is!” She said aloud. “Ento, Double Team!”

<Naturally,> Ento said confidently as he blurred, creating six illusory copies of himself that surrounded Muk, as he groaned dully as though to call down the lightning bolts which struck four of the Scubugs surrounding him, all of which screeched in pain and vanished.

Muk’s slanting eyes stared into Ento’s crystalline ones and Mekki smirked. Haley really couldn’t see why. No matter how you sliced it, three against one are not odds to laugh at... especially if you were the ‘one’.

“The next two attacks will end this,” Mekki said confidently, raising two fingers to his forehead level.

“Cocky, aren’t we?” Haley retorted. “Ento, keep on your toes!”

<You really love to state the obvious, don’t you?> Ento said stiffly, causing Haley already taut nerves to strain further as she snapped, “Zip it.”

“First move: Water Element, Rain Prayer technique!” Mekki announced. Muk complied with another low groan and forming a new hand seal, invoked rain clouds to fill the rafters with cumulonimbus, from which thunder rumbled and rain fell in sheets, soaking the charred tatami floor below.

Haley almost laughed out loud at Mekki’s choice of attack. True, she was rapidly getting waterlogged, but a firm smirk was plastered on her face.

“So much for the Trigello crew,” Haley crowed. “This won’t take two attacks because your Muk won’t last that long! Ento, use Aqua Jet!”

Ento felt the rain surround him as fresh strength returned to his long, slender legs. All three Scubugs dived into the mat and sped towards Muk with speed quicker than blinking and slammed into him as hard as they could.

Muk wordlessly grunted in pain and hunched as the two remaining doppelgangers vanished into the downpour and the remaining Water Beetle Pokémon reappeared for a second before shifting out of sight once again, reappearing in about four places at once.

“Thanks for activating Ento’s Swift Swim ability,” Haley mocked. “Not only are we faster than ever, all our Water attacks gain a significant boost! Now how could an exalted Trigello Crew member forget that?”

Mekki didn’t answer her. In fact (to Haley’s utter indignation), he seemed to regard her words unworthy of consideration as he kept his eyes closed.

“Nothing to say? Oh, well,” Haley sighed in mock sorrow. “Ento, use Bubblebeam once more!”

As Ento inhaled deeply to release a souped-up stream of explosive bubbles, Mekki commanded, “Now, Muk! One more time; Storm Element, Thunder technique!”

Muk bellowed once more and formed the same hand seal as he’d done earlier and lightning flashed throughout the room, throwing everything into sharp relief as dark shadows against the blinding white light that surrounded them all accompanied with thunderous booms.

Haley screamed and covered her eyes as the bright light assaulted the Water type specialist’s eyes. Now she understood why Mekki had his eyes closed, not to mention why he called for Rain Dance earlier...

The flashes finally died down and Haley gasped as her Scubug lay sprawled out at her feet, totally defeated.

“You used Rain Dance,” she said, unsure how she could have fallen for such a simple trick. “To make sure Thunder didn’t miss?!”

“Correct,” Mekki said calmly as Muk slithered back to his end of the battlefield and the still-pouring rain doused the flames that danced over the scorched battle field. “I believe you called me ‘cocky’, earlier. With only one Pokémon left to call after your Scubug’s fall, I believe you were being somewhat so yourself.”

Rekki the referee raised his hand towards Mekki and Muk and announced, “Winner, Muk. The challenger has one Pokémon left. Will she make the selection or forfeit the match?”

That’s just wrong, even for a joke, Haley thought as she gritted her teeth and returned Ento. I can’t retreat now. If I do, I lose by default and I’m out of the tournament!

I only have one Pokémon, and Mekki still has three. Worse still, only his Muk’s taken any real damage and I don’t even know which Pokémon he has besides his Chii- I mean, Winglyde now. Oh, boy, this is gonna be tough... even with the boost Rain Dance offers! OK, I’ve never fought with her before, but there’s no time like the present for ‘desperate measures’!


“You ready, Mekki?” Haley called over the precipitation, injecting more confidence into her voice than she presently felt.

“Who’s the one without the Pokémon on the field?” Mekki parroted her coolly. “Let’s get this show over and done with.”

“Fine! Tempest, you’re up! I’m counting on you!” Haley called, releasing her last Pokémon into the rolling storm.

Haley’s largest Pokémon appeared in a flash of light and into her first battle since her former trainer Rachel Savina had traded her away for training. Looking around with coffee brown eyes as she began to levitate in the rain, she commented in a lilting voice, <Father Sky weeps... to soothe Mother Earth’s wounds.>

“Er,” Haley uttered uncertainly, not too sure how to relate to her newest team mate. “Tempest, use Thunderbolt!”

Mekki was quick on the counterattack as the Transport Pokémon’s horn began to glow with electric power. “Earth Element, Mud Bomb technique!”

“Psyche! Tempest, switch to Surf, now!”

Mekki’s Muk had already hocked up a large glob of mud and was about to let fly when Tempest, using the torrential rain that had filled the arena to created a wave as large as she could manage in the space of time available to her.

The opposing duo’s eyes widened comically as Tempest let the wave fall with a resounding crash upon the straw covered arena, the downpour swelling the wave to greater proportions as it swamped the Poison type Pokémon entirely.

She may not have great aim yet, but in such a close-quartered battle, there’s pretty much no way she would miss! Haley thought triumphantly as the surface crested and broke violently all over the battle field and formed what seemed to be a miniature ocean as Tempest sunk her four flippers into the broiling waves and watched the rain clouds clear overhead. As the surface of the now water-filled field calmed, a slimy purple mass floated to the surface, completely spent.

Recovering from his shock at the sheer power of the Surf attack, Rekki raised his hand towards Haley for the first time and announced, “Winner of the fifth match, Lapras.”

Mekki returned Muk silently, his mind processing Haley’s first successful counterattack.

Hmm... it seems that she has acquired that Lapras very recently, Mekki mused. Her initial awkwardness confirms that. Does that mean it is poorly trained? No, it had the power to deep-six my Muk in one shot, so it is by no account weak, although I must take my Rain Prayer technique into consideration... so she either called for Surf for one of two reasons... time to see if my hunch is right!

Enlarging a second pokéball, he weaved a couple of swift hand signs and slammed it on the matted floor and said “Summoning Art! Winglyde, come forth!”

A blast of white light filled the arena and the large Fruit Bat Pokémon reappeared in the air above Haley and Tempest, its evil yellow eyes locked on the larger Pokémon’s gentle brown ones.

Winglyde again... Haley thought as she watched the winged Poison type latch itself to the rafters once more. It hasn’t taken any damage so far... but why does it seem somewhat winded?

“The sixth match: Lapras versus Winglyde. Please begin.”

“Let’s take point, Winglyde! Ninja Arts, Poison Needle Technique!” Mekki called quickly.

“Tempest, use Ice Beam!” Haley countered quickly, praying that her Lapras’s beginner’s luck would hold out a little longer.

Tempest generated a ball of subzero energy and fired a thin beam of arctic energy at her aerial foe as it leapt aside, its winged arm cocked back and glowing a sickly purple at the fingertips...

***​

Just as several yards away, back on the Battle Ring, Sapph’s shiny Magnemite Mighty took an identical attack right to the flank and blipped in discomfort.

<Damage calculations reveal a seventeen percent decrease of self’s health levels,> Mighty droned dully as his opponent, a shaggy-haired behemoth with the tusks of a Prehistoric elephant and the snout of a large hog. <Analysis also depict the opponent possesses great stamina coupled with an immunity to Electric attacks. Awaiting next battle protocoooolllll...>

“Why don’t you give it up?” Sapph’s opponent, a curly haired girl dressed in an unzipped parka said as her Mamoswine let out a low bellow and pawed the ground proudly. “Not even you can beat a Ground type with an Electric type.”

Sapph glanced at the large tusks of the Mamoswine and thought hard to himself as Zayina and Shrader watched intensely, the latter in spite of her assignment. The young lieutenant was quite taken with Sapph’s battle style that had since that morning won him a total of forty-nine battles, each one fought at a type disadvantage of sorts. Shrader had not only witnessed his Castform take out a Hitmonchan by learning Hurricane in the middle of the battle, his Flygon win several battles against a persistent Dragon trainer and his Garchomp without landing a single blow, and an Eevee perform brief and miraculous evolutions ending half her battles with moves no Eevee evolution should be able to pull off, let alone its basic form.

Zayina was silent too, wondering if she could have ever defeated Sapph back at the Gatonda Tournament as she was then. Even in Sapph’s toughest battles, which mostly involved Sapph using a Husky Pokémon he’d dubbed Keynid, Sapph had showed great tenacity and was able to pull off decisive wins against all manners of opponents ranging from little Eskimo Mouse Pokémon called Inaus to towering Blast Pokémon called Magmortar and flaming Charizard.

“I see you don’t know when to quit,” the girl went on pompously. “Well, don’t say I didn’t give you a chance to back out. Forty-eight wins is impressive. Just not as good as the big Five-Oh...”

“Now who said I wasn’t going to get ‘the big Five-Oh’ today?” Sapph said confidently. “Mighty, charge up a Thunder attack now!”

<Scanners detect satisfactory energy levels. Battle command prompt acknoooowwllleeeeedged...> Mighty droned as its magnets began to sparkle with tremendous power.

“I don’t think so, Sapphire Manson!” The girl said, her icy blue eyes alight with determination to shut Sapph and Mighty down for good. “Mamoswine, use Ice Beam once more!”

Mamoswine bellowed and formed another large ball of icy energy in between its gleaming tusks. Sweat began to bead Sapph’s face as the stand-off lengthened; a mixture of cheers and boos for both battlers filling the air.

“Mighty, strafe to the right and fire on Mamoswine’s tusks, now!” Sapph yelled, pointing at the Ice/Ground type behemoth for emphasis just as Mamoswine fired another chilling blast at the Magnet Pokémon.

<Command prompt accepted. Shifting angle of offensive trajectoreeeeee...> Mighty droned as it shifted itself sharply to the right and unloaded several hundred thousand volts of electricity into Mamoswine’s tusks.

Mamoswine seemed to bellow in pain as the attack hit. Not that Sapph’s opponent seemed to notice; as far as she knew, Mamoswine was safe from Electric attacks.

“What was that for?” She crowed as the light from the attack died down. “Didn’t I tell you Electric attacks would be useless no matter how powerful they are? Mamoswine, one more Ice Beam, and make it stick!”

Mamoswine made to comply but a look of discomfort crossed its blue-masked face with an accompanying splintering noise as it began to accumulate ice energy once more for another attack.

Mamoswine never made it.

The attack literally blew up in the poor Twin Tusk Pokémon’s face and all six hundred and forty pounds of Mamoswine went down, hard. The girl trainer looked on in horror as she studied Mamoswine’s tusks, which were deeply fissured all around.

<Opponent health energy levels reported to have taken a thirty-nine percent depreciation,> Mighty droned, hovering back to where he was before. <Query: Estimated number of hits target can take. Variable: One.>

“B-but... h-how...?!” She gabbled as Mamoswine winced with the pain his tusks presently felt.

“You really shouldn’t play around in the middle of a battle,” Sapph said calmly, a smile on his face as he explained. “A Mamoswine’s tusks are made of pure ice. In other words: frozen water. And I’m sure you know just how much Water types simply love electricity.”

The young girl blanched. “No way! You mean all this time...?”

“Yeah,” Sapph said matter-of-factly. “Looks like we’re going to get our ‘big Five-Oh’, anyways. Mighty, let’s wrap this up with Magnet Bomb!”

<Energy levels reading at sixty-eight percent... power levels satisfactory. Initiating Maaaaaagnet... Bommmb.> Mighty droned, all manner of metallic substances in the surroundings including underground floating towards it. Bringing his magnets together and pointing them at Mamoswine, Mighty gathered the scrap metal into a cluster of small hovering metallic spheres which hovered around the Magnemite for a moment and then shot towards the crippled Mamoswine, each hitting him with explosive force.

The smoke that kicked up after the volley of explosions finally cleared to reveal the arctic titan laid out flat, totally spent.

“Battle over! Winner, Sapph Manson!” The referee announced, raising his hand and pointing to Sapph.

“Good job, Mighty. Come back for some rest.” Sapph said a little wearily as he returned Mighty to its pokéball, another battle well-fought.

After Mighty and Mamoswine had been returned to their pokéballs in the customary red flashes of light, Sapph hooked Mighty’s back to his belt and walked over to where his two companions sat and applauded his efforts.

I play too much?! Look who was playing around,” his defeated opponent said to his back scathingly.

“I wasn’t playing around,” Sapph said calmly. “Jumping into an opponent who has a type advantage over you without a plan is simply retarded. I was simply waiting and watching for the right moment. That’s all.”

And leaving his opponent gazing at his back, Sapph moved on to join Zayina and Shrader at the bench, rubbing his recently recovered shoulder.

“Good battle,” Shrader said in a cheerful voice, handing him a water bottle. “You must be good. Heck, you even gave her advice after handing her butt to her.”

“Not as good as Zayina,” Sapph said modestly, flopping onto the bench between them. Turning his head to look at the surprised younger girl, Sapph confessed, “My biggest fear at the Gatonda Tournament was that I’d have to face you in the finals. You beat your first round opponents in about thirty seconds flat, right?”

“Yeah...” Zayina said glumly, looking back at him with a wistful smile on her lips. “That’s right.”

“What’s the matter?” Sapph said a crease on his brow as he sat up to stare at Zayina. “A good battle should get your pep back. You are still battling, right?”

Still smiling wistfully, she sighed and said, “I’ve quit battling, Sapph. I’ve quit training too. I’m just no good at it.”

Sapph dropped the water bottle and missed a pokéball on his belt glow white for a few seconds as he gawked at Zayina.

“’No good at it’?! Zayina, you’re the best in the entire circuit! You won all your battles for the last two years of your career with unevolved Pokémon! There’s no way you’re ‘no good at it’! What the heck are you trying to pull?!”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Zayina mumbled.

Sapph didn’t flinch. Keeping his gaze steady, he said in a level voice, “Try me.”

“I try every time to win the Gatonda Tournament. You’d think I’d have won it by now, unevolved Pokémon or not,” Zayina choked out, tears forming in her eyes as she looked at her knees. “If I can’t cut it at a little league tournament, why bother for the big time? Why keep going if we’ll never win it altogether?”

“Who the hell told ya that?!” Sapph said quietly.

Before Zayina could answer, a voice close to Sapph’s right ear piped up, “Excuse me? Are you Sapphire Manson?”

“Yeah, I’m Sapph,” the boy trainer said, turning around to see a young girl who look a few days shy of ten dressed in a white floral print dress and black leggings standing behind him. “And you are?”

“Milane Carter,” she said, her long hair done up in a single ponytail. “I heard you were the best around, and I wanted to test me and my partner out. Would you help us out, please?”

Wordlessly looking at Shrader to see if there was a problem with it and receiving a mute shake of the head in reply, Sapph turned back to Milane and said, “Not to claim the title of the ‘best around’, but sure, why not? One more battle couldn’t kill.”

As they took their places in the Battle Ring, Sapph had no idea how much he’d regret his last five words.

*continued next post*​
 
Last edited:

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
TCQ Chapter 40~3

*continued from last post*

Milane raised a sea-green and white pokéball with a black criss-cross design embossed on the green upper half and said, “Volbeat, time to shine!”

Sapph shielded his eyes from the flash of light which formed itself into a squat, insectoid creature that hovered in the air in front of Milane. It looked to be half of Crimson’s height, but had somewhat bulkier features including a red collar, a bloated black thorax with yellow horizontal pinstripes and stubby, conical legs. A golden light similar in hue to its irises seem to flicker on and off from its butt.

Sapph took in his opponent’s slightly comical appearance and scanned it with his Pokédex.

Volbeat, the Firefly Pokémon. Swarms gather in the night sky to sketch pictures with their glowing tail lights which are crucial in their mating dance with Illumise. Volbeat is a Bug type Pokémon, the Pokédex instructed.

Sapph watched Volbeat wiggle his yellow and black banded antennae which looped like bendy straws and made his pick.

“No secondary type, hunh? OK. Haven’t used this guy at all today,” Sapph said to himself. “Guess there’s no time like the present for a first battle. Tentis, let’s go!”

Out of Sapph’s pokéball burst a much larger and more predominantly blue Pokémon that resembled a large jellyfish. Evil-looking, slanting eyes glared up at the Volbeat and it clicked his large pincers which grew out from under his belly menacingly. Fourteen greyish tentacles also grew out from the dark underbelly and three blood-red spots gleamed like gems in the late sunlight.

This battle would make fifty consecutive wins, Shrader thought as she crossed her arms and sat back to watch the battle unfold. Very few trainers manage that kind of feat. I heard the world record was one hundred and seventy two battles by a certain A.J., founder and proprietor of the Savage Gym in Kanto...

“You get first move, Milane!” Sapph called as Tentis’s eyes narrowed maliciously.

“OK, Volbeat,” Milane called to her hovering Pokémon. “Use Tail Glow!”

“Hmm… never seen that move before,” Sapph mused quietly as he watched Volbeat rise into the air, his abdomen glowing bright gold. Raising an outstretched hand towards the Firefly Pokémon, Sapph countered, “Tentis, let’s kick things off with an Icicle Spear!”

Tentis leaned back and, opening its clawed jaws wide, fired off three sharp looking icicles high into the air.

“Dance, Volbeat!” Milane countered cheerfully. “Flower step!”

In response, Volbeat seemed to dart through the sky tracing a shape through the air as it artistically dodged all of Tentis’s icy assault. After a few seconds, the spectators left gasped and applauded as the shape revealed itself to be a simple flower motif shining against the ruby-streaked twilight sky.

“Impressive,” Shrader said, craning her neck back to look up into the sky as well. “She must have some expertise in Pokémon Contests...”

“Pretty flashy,” Zayina commented herself, her woes slightly forgotten as she looked up at the sparkling flower sketch, which Volbeat has just completed. “But,” she added with a slight smile, “style alone isn’t enough to beat Sapph.”

“Nice,” Sapph said drily. “But not nice enough! Tentis, Bubblebeam!”

Tentis complied by firing off a stream of pokéball-sized bubbles which Sapph knew would explode on contact with the currently defenceless Volbeat.

“Volbeat, fly in and use Protect!” Milane countered swiftly.

Volbeat flew straight into the oncoming Water attack, a light green bubble emerging to life around him as he dived in. The bubbles exploded on contact with the weird shield, yet none whatsoever to the caster of the technique.

“Looks like Contests aren’t her only thing, Shrader,” Sapph said aloud as the collision of Bubblebeam on Protect created a thick smokescreen which blocked the Firefly Pokémon from view. “She’s good...”

“OK, Volbeat!” Milane called out. “Time for Zen Headbutt!”

Before Sapph could register surprise at Milane nerve, Volbeat had flown out of the dust cloud, much too close for Tentis to afford any means to protect himself, his shiny head glowing with Psychic power.

“Tentis!” Sapph cried out as the Tentacruel let out a feral bellow on getting headbutted by the Bug Pokémon between the eyes. Tentis flew back a couple of feet and was sent sprawling into the dirt by the super effective hit, which had not only disoriented it by the brute force behind it (thanks to Volbeat’s dive) but also due to the attack’s type properties.

“...she’s real good.” Sapph smiled as Tentis struggled upright, a furious look in his narrowing eyes.

“OK, Volbeat, once more! Zen Headbutt!”

“No sale, Milane! Tentis, grab Volbeat with Constrict!”

As Volbeat tried to back away for a second charge, Tentis unleashed no less than twenty tentacles which filled the air around the startled insect Pokémon and, within a flash, bound him tight, increasing pressure with every second.

Pumping his fist, Sapph called across to his younger opponent, “Yes! How do you like that?”

“Very much, Sapph,” Milane said with a smile. “Thanks for making this easier for me.”

“Hunh?” Sapph uttered nonplussed.

“OK, Volbeat, time for Thunderbolt!”

Sapph’s heart almost failed for a second on hearing the command, sure she was bluffing. The next three seconds, however proved him wrong as before his eyes, Volbeat gathered tremendous power to his curly antennae and fired off a massive bolt of lightning through the tentacles that connected him to his target and caused another inhuman bellow to erupt from Sapph’s Jellyfish Pokémon.

“Damn! How’d I fall for that one? How did Volbeat have such a powerful Thunderbolt attack? And while I’m asking questions, how does Volbeat even know Thunderbolt?!” Sapph asked, completely lost between shock and amazement.

“For your first question, I believe was a rhetorical one, so I won’t answer,” Milane said humbly. “As to the second one, Tail Glow is a Bug type attack that drastically increases the power of special attacks like Bubblebeam and Thunderbolt. And thirdly, I taught it Thunderbolt with a Technical Machine I bought in Azura City.”

Oh. Well, that explains it, Sapph thought, a little put out.

“But I suppose the big question here is, ‘How is your Tentacruel still standing after two super effective hits?’” Milane said in some surprise, pointing at Tentis. “Look.”

Sapph, already in the process of reaching for Tentis’s pokéball, obliged and was stunned to see his Tentacruel still have a powerfully tight grip on Milane’s Volbeat, and a look that went beyond furious in his eyes.

“Excellent, Tentis! Now use Bubblebeam up close!” Sapph ordered, his Pokémon’s toughness giving him fresh heart.

<No way,> Tentis snarled, unravelling several more feelers and filling their tips with a sickening purple hue. <This bug is DEAD!>

And before Sapph could order him to stop, Tentis started smashing and lashing across the captive Volbeat’s face with Poison Jab after Poison Jab.

“Volbeat, no!” Milane cried out. “Try to break free!”

“OK, Tentis,” Sapph commanded, unsure if the Tentacruel had simply misheard him somehow. “Let Volbeat go and use Bubblebeam!”

But Tentis kept on mashing Volbeat’s face with Poison Jab, the Firefly Pokémon’s face now adopting a purplish hue.

“Tentis, stop! STOP!” Sapph yelled as Tentis paid no heed and kept up his relentless assault.

“Sapph! Tentis will kill it if you don’t stop him now!” Shrader yelled as a sobbing Milane ordered a weak Protect, which kept Volbeat safe, but for how much longer, no one knew.

Nodding in panic, Sapph pulled Tentis’ pokéball free and raising it, said, “Tentis, enough! Ret-AAAAARGH!”

The Jellyfish Pokémon was apparently having none of it and noticing Sapph’s movement, lashed out with a poison-laden tentacle and whipped Sapph across the back of his hand viciously, causing Sapph to scream and drop the pokéball with a clunk.

Sapph’s knees buckled as an odd ringing filled his ears, his hands trembling so badly he could hardly grab the pokéball he’d reached out to snatch up as a second tentacle descended on it and shattered it completely.

The ringing noise began to reach a fever-pitch as several people yelled his name, yelled for the Tentacruel to stop and a flash of light and a firm female voice called, “Espeon, use Psychic.”

And as the poison rendered his world silent, Sapph retched violently and blacked out, insensible.

***​

Back at the Northern Isle dojo, the arena now distinctly resembled a winter wonderland: snowflakes danced through the air and Winglyde lay face down in the gradually receding pool of water that Tempest occupied, breathing a little heavier than she had at the beginning of the battle, but still standing strong.

Rekki the referee raised his hand towards Haley and Tempest and announced ain a voice that betrayed slight surprise, “Winner, Lapras. The Trigello Crew member Mekki has one Pokémon remaining. Will he continue?”

“Of course,” Mekki said, forming a hand seal with one hand and returning his defeated Winglyde. “I can still fight. And thus, I shall keep fighting.”

Winglyde wore us down a lot more than I thought he would, Haley thought to herself as she watched the water recede. And soon we won’t be as mobile as we were before... if this water keeps going down.

Aloud, she asked Tempest, “Tempest! Can you keep going?”

<Not for long, Lady Haley,> Tempest rasped hoarsely. <I think the Winglyde poisoned me with his first attack!>

Haley swore mentally as Mekki unclipped and enlarged his last Pokémon’s pokéball.

“I hope you are prepared for this. We’ve been together for many years, ever since my first day as a Pokémon trainer some twenty years ago. And we’re as strong as ever!”

“Just get on with it!” Haley yelled angrily. Was he stalling on purpose?

“Behold my strongest summoning! Summoning Technique!” He weaved his hand seals for the last time that day and slammed his pokéball hard on the soggy tatami mat and called out, “Come forth... NINJASK!”

“Wait a sec,” Haley said, shock struggling with confusion. “Isn’t Ninjask a...?”

Instead of the usual flash of white light, a white cloud of smoke exploded from his hand, engulfing the arena in a smoky haze. Haley and Tempest looked around for their last opponent, but could see nothing. For some reason, a loud buzzing seemed to fill the room.

Haley covered her nose and mouth as Tempest coughed on the smoke. <Lady Haley, our opponent has no regard for the environment,> the normally even-tempered Lapras said angrily. <I am going to punish him soundly now.>

“Relax, the gas isn’t toxic,” Mekki said calmly as a two foot tall insect seemed to materialize out of thin air before Mekki. Black and Gold with red, staring eyes, its large, translucent wings were a blur, the only thing confirming their existence being a slight ripple in the air and a blinking red zigzag pattern on either side of its body.

Haley, however had more pressing points to address. Pointing angrily at Mekki, she yelled, “Since when the hell was Ninjask a Poison type?!”

“Sorry?” Mekki said, his face looking totally nonplussed.

Building up steam Haley launched into a storming tirade, “Some Poison type specialist! I thought you were best known for your use of Poison type Pokémon! Ninjask is a freaking Bug type! Poison type specialists are meant to use only their specified type! Ref! Isn’t that cheating or something?!”

Mekki looked at her in blank surprise for a few seconds as she ranted, but now composed his face into an unfazed look and said calmly, “So?”

“’So’?! What the,” Haley used a couple of words here she’d have a lot of trouble explaining to her mother if the latter had heard her use it, “do you mean ‘So’?!”

“Just that.” Mekki said calmly. “I did say I’m well-known for my use of Poison type Pokémon. But since when did I say I only use Poison types? Or that I was best known for using Poison types? If you recall, I called myself an expert on Poison types, not a specialist. There’s no law or rule that states that I’m bound to use only one type of Pokémon, is there?”

Haley could only splutter in indignation at his lackadaisical answer.

“Furthermore, as a type specialist yourself, can you claim to have only raised Water type Pokémon?” Mekki questioned, raising an eyebrow in skeptism.

Haley opened her mouth to retort, remembered Pyrrhus back at the lab, and shut it silently.

“If I were you,” Mekki concluded, his voice now possessing a sharp edge to it. “I’d stop whining like a little brat and battle. Rekki, call the match to order.”

Rekki nodded and raising both his hands announced, “The seventh and last battle: Lapras versus Ninjask. Please begin.”

Mekki took point quickly and forming a hand seal by crossing his index and middle fingers together, commanded, “Ninja Arts, Shadow Divide technique!”

“Tempest, use Thunderbolt!”

Golden electricity danced over Tempest’s horn as Ninjask flitted out of sight startling Haley. As hers and Tempest’s eyes danced around looking for their adversary, the buzzing sound Ninjask seemed to multiply exponentially.

A few seconds later, no fewer than fifty doppelgangers peppered the air around them, all with less that friendly intentions meant in their blank eyes and long, hanging forearms.

“Good, Ninjask! Now, Ninja Art, Consecutive Cut Technique!”

Panicked by the sheer number and increased speed, of her opponents, Haley attempted to rally her Pokémon, whose earlier attack was quelled by shock at the sheer numbers, with a quick counter command. “Quick, Tempest, use Ice Beam!”

All the Ninjask’s forearms adopted a neon red glow as energy enveloped them from the golden claw tips up the arms and adopted a sharp look. Not to be outdone this time, Tempest opened her mouth and a ball of cold formed within.

The Ninja Pokémon swarm began to blur into streaks of black, red and gold as they flashed around the startled team of Haley and Tempest and Tempest fired, crying out, <Feel the icy sting of the north wind!>

There’s no need or time to worry about aim, Haley thought worriedly as the first Ice Beam arced high and wide to the right, passing through two or three fakes. Tempest screamed as the Ninjask’s first attack hit her dead on the cheek, narrowly missing her eye and taking a chunk of her with it. Time for rapid fire...

“Tempest, stay strong! Blast as many of them as you can with Ice Beam!” Haley commanded.

“Good luck,” Mekki said calmly. “You’ll need to deal with more than the poison from before.”

As he said it, Tempest gasped as a purplish hue enveloped her body and Ninjask, seizing his chance, landed a second, stronger hit clean across the Lapras’s nose. Afterwards, the Ninjask inexplicably became more indistinct as the buzzing noise became even worse to deal with.

“Tempest! Are you OK?!”

Not answering, Tempest focused all her energy into firing off a random salvo of Ice Beams as the Ninjask slashed and swiped around her, the sound of their wings near-maddening.

A flash of white...

...Two fakes gone.​

A third slash...

...Tempest screamed as a fresh cut blossomed just above her shell, deeper than the last.

The poison kicked in again...

...Another grunt of pain from Tempest. Not as loud, but still aggrieved.​

A second flash of white...

...A complete miss.​

Another fierce claw attack...

...Blood spurted from her left fore-flipper.

The poison again...

...Tempest’s breathing seemed to double in weight.

Lather... rinse... repeat.

“This isn’t working...” Haley stated faintly, as she watched Tempest swipe again at the seemingly empty air which they both knew were full of dangerous Ninjask that, thanks to the Speed Boost ability, were now invisible to most eyes.

Remind me to find the guy who controls luck and karma and teach them that I am NOT Sapph! Haley thought furiously, her mind reeling from the sonic torture she and her Lapras were suffering.

“Now, Ninjask! The final blow!” Mekki said in determination as he watched the poison take effect once more, causing Tempest to throw up.

The buzzing sound, now at a fever pitch, was causing Haley extreme duress. Through what seemed like a haze she watched her Lapras... was it her Lapras? Did she catch it? She didn’t know. She couldn’t remember. Her mind was an utter blank as Tempest took the fifth consecutive Fury Cutter attack to the left temple and her head was forced into the straw floor with a loud thud.

“The challenger’s Lapras has hit the floor! I will now begin the countdown!” Rekki announced as Ninjask blurred into being before his trainer, his emotionless red eyes fixed on the downed Transport Pokémon. Rekki began to count, “One! Two! Three!”

On her hands and knees, Haley dimly remembered that in official Trigello League matches a questionable knockout in the last round was counted as a technical knockout after the count of ten. Tempest had seven seconds to get up.

“Four! Five!”

OK, maybe five seconds...

“Tempest, get up,” Haley said in a quiet yet strong voice. (“Six!”) Pushing herself shakily into a crouch, Haley hardly heard herself speak over the ringing in her ears the Ninjask’s buzzing had left there. “Please... get up. (Seven!) This can’t end here. We can’t end here. (Eight!) How can we face Rachel like this? GET UP!”

As Rekki counted nine, Haley raised her head to see Tempest do the same in tandem, blood flooding over her left eyelid which was kept shut in exhaustion and pooling on the floor.

“Lapras has got up! The battle continues!” Rekki announced, raising both hands and dropping them in the sign of continuing the battle.

Damn right it continues, Haley thought grimly. But how? I can hardly hear. Tempest can hardly see out of the left eye. Damn... what would Sapph do? Where is Sapph?!

“So... you got up.” Mekki said dispassionately as Tempest coughed again as poison racked her body once more. Ninjask, fake and real buzzed around them all, causing the scene to be filled with streaks of pale yellow light. “Have a taste of our Iron Claw.”

Please hit it... please hit it... Haley pleaded mentally and as the Ninjask all around them claws lit up with a whitish platinum shine and began to swoop and slip into and out of sight she yelled above her partial deafness, “Tempest, Ice Beam once more!”

Tempest shot her last Ice Beam so wide it took a chunk out of the rafters, which buckled under the extra weight of the ice and splintered.

No way... is this it? Haley thought in dejection, dropping to her knees in desperation as saliva and blood flew from the left side of her Pokémon’s jaw seemingly of its own volition, although she really knew Ninjask had become temporarily invisible and hit Tempest in the side of the head with Metal Claw. Faces brimming with determination and defiance swam before her streaming eyes, looking down at her almost as if from a greater height. She could almost hear the disappointment, the smugness, and the shock they’d express if they could see her now.

What else can you expect from an inferior type?

Slate, you pompous...​

Guess they don’t make Water type masters the way they used to, eh?

...Sky... that​
jardo...​


You’re not gonna make it?! But, gal, you promised to show me what you gat at the big time!

T.J....​

Well, if this is the best your ability can bring you. A shame, but I’m sure you tried...

...Damn you, Nicola...​

Haley...

...Dad.​

Pounding the ground in frustration and determination, Haley looked up furiously and whispered, “No, this won’t end! We won’t fail! I have something to prove, and I’m not going to stop until I do!” Pulling herself back upright as Tempest straightened her neck, winced as the poison sapped a painfully miniscule amount of health, Haley screamed. “Quickly, use Thunderbolt attack!”

Tempest’s attack, thanks to her imperfect aim amongst other things, flashed wide of the real Ninjask, struck the ice-laden and splintered rafters and broke them, causing part of the roof to fall in and weak sunlight to filter through the mist that cloaked the whole island and into the dojo.

“She’s on her last legs. Time to overwhelm her! Ninjask, Shadow Divide Technique, once more!”

Haley had never been in a worse fix: she was in one of the biggest battles in her career as a Water type specialist with a traded Pokémon as her last bet, as Mekki said, they were both on her last legs, and her opponent had multiplied exponentially leaving every square inch of the room filled with buzzing, dangerous Ninja Pokémon, there was no was whatsoever of telling the real one apart, and, even if she could, there was next to no way she could hit the target normally, let alone with its presently jacked-up speed.

“This is the end,” Mekki said quietly. “Earth Element, Metal Claw Technique!”

Haley reared back and screamed her last attempt at resistance to the heavens, desperate for Tempest... no, anybody to hear her and grant them the one chance they needed to fight back and win.

“TEMPEST... USE PSYCHIC ATTACK, NOW!”

All the Ninjask’s claws glowed with a platinum white sheen as they flashed out of sight once more. Summoning all her focus to the fore of her mind and let it explode outward in a burst of fierce telekinetic power of cyan light.

A cerulean hue seemed to have overtaken Tempest’s eyes as she opened them to stare directly into the blood-red and panicked orbs of Ninjask who had been miraculously stopped less than an inch away from Tempest’s face, his claw still alight with power.

It worked? Mekki gasped mentally as he watched his Ninjask sweatdrop and Tempest give him an uncharacteristically wicked smile. The clones all around them vanished in a cacophony of pops and poofs, a great amount of smoke accompanying their disappearance.

“It worked?!” Rekki said faintly as Tempest sent Ninjask flying into the wall behind Mekki, up into the half-frozen ceiling and down into the floor halfway between herself and the Ninja Pokémon’s trainer, each time with a greater force than before.

“IT WORKED! Yes!” Haley cheered. “Now, Tempest, while they’re down and dazed... use Thunderbolt!”

“Ninjask, quickly! Get away!” Mekki called out frantically as Haley’s Lapras gathered electricity to her horn for one last strike and the Ninjask struggled to gather itself to escape.

<This will hurt quite a bit,> Tempest said in a slightly mournful voice. <Forgive me.>

And with that, she fired a sizzling golden lightning bolt at the only Ninjask left, catching it clean in the golden head. Ninjask shrieked as the thunderbolt tore at his every nerve and the tatami mat around it that had yet to suffer any damage shattered.

Haley, Mekki and Rekki shielded their eyes and ears from the bright flash that engulfed the arena and the loud boom that followed that seemed to rock the dojo to its foundations.

With the sound of thunder, the battle was over.

***​

Back aboard the UAS Hydro, Shrader stood to attention in front of her commanding officer’s desk as the latter had his forehead pressed into the back of his clasped hands.

Since Tentis’s harsh battle at the Battle Club arena an hour earlier, twilight had since given way to night. The cabin was also in semi-shadow as the lone source of light was a reading lamp which stood upon the desk together with Tony Parito’s elbows and a tape recorder, which was recording the debriefing in progress.

“So, you’re saying Mr Manson lost total control over his Tentacruel?” Tony repeated, with the air of a man seeking final clarification.

“Yes, sir,” Shrader said in a slightly shaky voice due to some degree of fatigue the day had given her. “It had ignored Sapphire Manson’s command to use Bubblebeam and had instead assaulted the Volbeat with consecutive Poison Jabs to the head and face.”

“And when Mr Manson attempted to return it, it turned on him as well?” Tony went on in a businesslike voice.

“Yes, sir,” Shrader agreed. “It then went on to shatter the pokéball, rendering itself unable to be returned.”

“How was the Tentacruel stopped then?” Tony queried. “It didn’t kill the Volbeat, correct?”

“No, Sir,” Shrader said. “A passing trainer and her Espeon put a stop to the Tentacruel’s onslaught with a Psychic attack.”

“A passing trainer?” Tony echoed dubiously. “Any idea who they were?”

“Trainer bio files tell us it was a certain Zuzana Marsh...” Shrader began before Tony interrupted.

“Marsh, Marsh...” Tony mused. “Not Sabrina Marsh’s daughter?”

“I suppose so,” Shrader confirmed. “Intelligence’re looking into reasons for her presence at the Battle Club as we speak.”

“That’s not too hard to figure out, with the Trigello Tournament on at the moment, although a little more background checking won’t hurt.” Tony mused more to himself than to his lieutenant. Looking up through troubled blue eyes, he asked, “How’s Sapph?”

“After administering an antidote, Ms Edwardssen and I managed to get him and Tentis back to the UAS Hydro, uncertain of the reception the crowd would present should we take him to the Pokémon Centre.”

“And where is the Tentacruel now?”

“Sent back to Professor Yew’s Observatory for brain scan analysis,” Shrader replied.

“And Mr Manson?”

“In his cabin with Ms Edwardssen, tending to his cut. There still seems to be damage from the toxin. However, Mr Manson’s life is presently in no immediate danger after the ship’s medic administered further antibiotic treatment.”

“And Ms Kent?”

“Still not back from her battle.”

Tony nodded and clicking the tape recorder off, said “Good work, Lieutenant. Go get some rest yourself, you look exhausted.”

“Thank you, sir,” Shrader said and with a swift salute, exited the room, leaving her captain to contemplate his interlocked fingers in silence and near darkness.

Elsewhere on the ship, Zayina gave a final tug on a bandage and handed Sapph his hand back saying, “There. That ought to keep it clean for a while.”

Sapph nodded his head in thanks and looked down at his trembling, mummified hand.

Zayina noticed what Sapph was looking at and said as nonchalantly as possible, “Don’t worry, that ought to stop once the toxins are fully neutralized.”

Sapph noticed and mumbled, “Yeah.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure Professor Yew will be able to figure out why Tentis went crazy like that...”

Still looking at his hand, Sapph muttered with little energy, “Cool.”

Zayina looked Sapph over critically as they sat in silence; Sapph in the edge of his bed and Zayina in the chair she’d pulled up from the desk besides it.

“Will Milane and her Volbeat be OK?” Sapph murmured to Zayina.

The older girl exhaled slightly and said, “They’ll live. I’ll go check later. It might not be a good idea to leave the ship again after this afternoon. Roni’s in a bad enough temper as it is.”

“Roni can go stuff it for all I care,” Sapph said quietly. “Let me ask you something.”

Taken aback by the newfound strength the young Johton trainer’s voice had taken, she nodded mutely.

“Was Roni the one who made you give up training?”

“Wha- why do you ask?”

“Was he?” Sapph asked again, this time catching Zayina’s violet eyes in the full glare of his sapphire ones. Before she could stop herself, Zayina found herself nodding mutely.

It was Sapph’s turn to sigh as he looked down once more and said, “What does he know... what right does he have to tell you to quit the thing that obviously makes you happy?”

Caught off-guard, Zayina rambled into speech, “S-Sapph, you got it all wrong! I’m happy! Really!”

“Zayina, please. Stop lying,” Sapph said, looking at his feet or hands, one could not be sure. The latter were shaking worse than ever.

“Lying? Sapph, I don’t know what...”

“STOP IT, ALRIGHT!”

Sapph was on his feet, his whole body shaking with palpable rage as he attempted to slam his fist on the desk, but, unable to clench his fingers, banged the side of his hand instead. Flinching slightly, he saw Zayina make to rise and take his hand and he turned his back on her.

Fighting to master himself, Sapph went on in a voice of determined calm, “You’re the best trainer in the entire area. You have two more years experience than any trainer I know, outside of Tony and a few others I can mention. Why would you quit because some idiot tells you to?”

“Because the idiot cares about me, Sapph,” Zayina said in a voice filled with forced toughness, a scornful emphasis on the word ‘idiot’. “He loves me, Sapph!”

Sapph afforded a mirthless bark of laughter and said, “Oh, he ’Cares about you’, does he? ‘Loves you’, you say? Please... save the story for someone who’d actually buy it.”

“What are you talking about?” Zayina said angrily. “Like you have a girlfriend! Like you know what it’s like to be weaker than anybody!”

“Actually, I do have a girlfriend,” Sapph said quietly, careful not to betray any uncertainty about his relationship with Joy to Zayina. He had a point to make, and he was going to make sure she saw it. “And the last things I told her was how everybody liked my older, stronger, more handsome, responsible and more talented fraternal twin brother than me! You know what she said?”

Zayina tried to answer but found she had no voice with which to do so.

Sapph marched over to his backpack and after a few seconds rummaging in a side pocket pulled out a folded piece of paper, slightly dirty with age and after unfolding it gently yet clumsily, thrust Joy’s note into Zayina’s hand.

Zayina stared at the piece of paper for a minute and read the note, her eyes welling with tears.

“As to your second question,” Sapph said drily, “I naturally know what it means to have people stronger than you out there: Kamren... Rubin...” Sapph paused on mentioning each name as highlights of his earlier battles with them came to mind. Gulping, he pressed on, “Do you think I gave up? I have one chance to get into the Corei League finals and it’s in Sage City, the strongest gym of the region. If I lose, I’m out of the running. See me shaking? Do I look scared? Think I’m gonna give up even if things go south?”

Zayina looked up from the note to see Sapph staring hard at her, his voice and his gaze firm and unwavering. “No. Damn it all to hell, no. I’m going to fight on. I’ll come back. If not for myself,” Sapph said, picking the letter which Zayina had dropped onto the table. “Then I’ll do it for my Pokémon. The ones who put themselves through hell for me and my ideals. And those who believe in me: my mom, my sister, Professor Yew, Mrs. Kent... all of them don’t deserve to see me give up. And as long as I believe in you,” Sapph said, a smile on his face. “I will not give you the satisfaction of giving up either.”

Zayina stared at Sapph for several long moments, taking in his lengthened hair and sparkling blue eyes, her mind and heart somewhat miraculously freer than they’d ever been in a long time.

“What? Is something on my face?” Sapph said, a little unnerved at how intently Zayina was looking at him.

“I guess I owe Joy an apology then,” she finally said, taking a couple of steps closer.

Before Sapph could ask whatever for, Zayina leaned in and gave Sapph a quick, grateful peck on the cheek and said, with an impish smile, “For that. Not that it means anything more than ‘thanks’, Sapph. I’ll still kick your butt if you cross me at the Sterling Tournament.”

Still bemused at the expression of gratitude, Sapph grinned as he looked into Zayina’s smiling face and said, “I’ll take you up on that challenge.”

And grinning a real smile, she walked on past a puzzled yet pleased Sapph out of the room and down the hall.

Sapph, despite feeling a little dirty for getting kissed by another girl, pocketed the note in his breast pocket and feel back on the bed with a smile on his face.

Some birthday, he thought as he looked at his PokéGear and deciding to call Joy, reached over to pick it up as the door opened and the UAS Hydro’s medic came rushing in.

“Sapph, we have a bit of a problem!”

Sapph froze, his hand inches away from his PokéGear.

“Of course we do,” he said sardonically. “What’s up?”

The medic’s reply really paused Sapph’s heart for a few seconds when he heard it: “Your Huskup and Eevee are gone!”

***​

CHARACTER PERSONALITY OF THE CHAPTER

Name: Sarah Isabelle Saunders
Date of Birth: April 19, PA 1979
Hometown: Memoakee City, Ruova
Pokémon
On Hand: Not known
In Storage: Not known
Likes: Art, seafood, her family
Dislikes: Conflict
Contemporaries: Leopold, Grandma Rose, Reg, Nora
About Sarah: Sarah was raised as a child to be seen and not heard. Her life was all planned out for her by her parents up until she moved to White Tower University to pursue her master’s degree in Art and Sculpture, where she met and fell in love with Leopold, her husband. She then made the first decision of her life and didn’t return to Memoakee, marrying Leopold and moving to Pampa City with him, and then east to Nightspark, when he got a job at the Power Plant.

Sarah is not quite used to making her own decisions and often bows aside to avoid rowing with her forceful spouse, quietly agreeing to everything he says, especially when it comes to her children’s futures.

***​

Before we go on to the Corei-Dex Pokémon of the Chapter, I feel the need to explain the weird names Mekki gave his attacks. They’re actually the official names for the attacks used in the Japanese versions of the games and anime. I listed them below, together with their English equivalents where they differed:

Scapegoat – Substitute
Round-trip – U-turn
Sickling Winds (Kamaitachi) - Razor Wind
Flame Emission – Flamethrower
Rain Prayer – Rain Dance
Poison Needle – Poison Sting
Shadow Divide (Kage Bunshin) – Double Team
Consecutive Cut - Fury Cutter

Thanks to the gents at Bulbapedia for the transliteration assistance. Oh, and I know Castform can’t legitimately learn Windstorm. Having Cloude learn it was my way of telling Game Freak they should. :D

And now, before we get to the Corei-Dex ENTRY OF THE CHAPTER, I have a little surprise! Noticed the rising percentage in my signature? Well, now that it’s hit 100%, all future Corei-Dex entries are in colour! Stay tuned for the full thing!

Winglyde
Type: Poison/Flying
Species: Fruit Bat
Pronunciation: WIN-glide
Height: 3’11"
Weight: 39kgs
Habitat: Forest
Evolution Line: Chiiratty –(30)-> Winglyde
Name Derivation: WING + GLYDE (Corruption of the word GLIDE)
Notes: Winglyde swoop from tree to tree, tasting berries that grow on the trees they latch on. Unfortunately, the venom that seeps into the fruit renders them inedible to any other species of Pokémon around.

OK, L@er!
 

Diddy

Renegade
<Damage calculations reveal a seventeen percent decrease of self’s health levels,> Mighty droned dully as his opponent, a large and shaggy-haired cross between a Prehistoric Donphan with the nose of a large hog. <Analysis also depict the opponent possesses great stamina coupled with an immunity to Electric attacks. Awaiting next battle protocoooolllll...>

“Why don’t you give it up?” Sapph’s opponent, a curly haired girl dressed in an unzipped parka said as her Mamoswine let out a low bellow and pawed the ground proudly. “Not even you can beat a Ground type with an Electric type.”
Make your mind up dude!

Is it a Donphan or a Mamoswine? Okay, we know it's a Mamoswine, but I'm just buzzed I picked up a mistake from YOU?! Aren't you supposed to be like, good at that sort of thing :p

Anywho, I enjoyed this chapter, it had an epic battle vibe to it, that seems oddly familiar, if you know what I'm talking about ;D

Mighty just about won this chapter, what can I say?
 

Air Dragon

Ha, ha... not.
Aw, come on, Didds... you know what I meant... :p

No? OK, let me try to correct it slightly then...

Thanks for bringing that up, bud. :)

L@er!
 
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