View Full Version : The Bonds That Break (PG-13)

29th July 2006, 4:48 AM
EDIT (4/8/07): Due to the fact that I take uberly-long to update, I've decided to start a PM list. Just ask me if you want to be on it and I'll put you on. ^_^

PM List:

Master Blastoise

Rated PG-13 for violence and mild swearing. (Although there's not too much of that in the beginning)

I guess I better post this before I back out at the last minute. Because I liked Pokemon XD so much and I was bored in Study Hall, I decided to write a Fan Fiction about the events after XD. (Although the Prologue takes place before XD) I first began writing this on paper and only now did I decide to get off my lazy bottom and type it.

DISCLAIMER: If I owned Pokemon, would I be writing a Fan Fiction? I barely own anything. As a matter of fact, only a few of the characters in this fic I made myself.

So let's begin, shall we?


The crisp fall air was carried throughout the forest by the cool breeze. Dead red and brown colored leaves dragged across the ground as the wind swept them away from the trees they fell from. The sky was painted with a golden hue from the sun mixed with scarlet colored clouds.

Michael reached for one of the leaves that skidded past him. He sat down glumly on the pavement and began twirling the leaf by the stem. Moving a strand of red hair away from his emerald eyes, he depressingly laid his hand on his cheek and sighed.

Everything had been so chaotic at the Pokemon HQ Lab for the past five months. The entire staff was running around the place non-stop, talking about a hero that defeated some organization somewhere in the desert, and about a new project that they were working on. They've been focused on those two things and nothing else. Even Michael's own parents were caught up in the mess.

The electronic door from behind the nine-year old boy opened and was followed by a set of footsteps. The tall man spotted Michael sitting down glumly on the pavement, and began to approach him. His snowy white lab coat swayed with the gentle wind, as did his long red hair. The words "Pokemon HQ Lab: Director" was stitched on to his lab coat.

"Mind if I sit down?" he asked Michael, his voice calm and cool just like the breeze blowing past them.

Michael didn't bother looking into his father's yellow eyes as he slightly nodded. The director sat down next to him and laid his hands on his knees. He stared into Michael's saddened face while his own began to copy the negative emotions.

Breaking the silence, the director spoke up while staring at the ground, "I've noticed you haven't been acting very happy lately. You've been looking rather sad, as a matter of fact. Is there something wrong?"

"You're always busy and going places. You never have time for anything else." Michael moaned, keeping all eye contact away from his father.

"So that's what this all about," the director whispered to himself. He moved himself closer to Michael and looked him straight in the face, "Michael, I know things have been pretty hectic around the lab lately, meaning that me and your mom have been very busy."

Michael still avoided looking at the director and began picking at the sides of the leaf in his hand. Being the head of the lab, Michael's father was always under a sea of work and stress. If he wasn't at the lab working on the new project, then he out in other places researching.

"Of course, that's no excuse for being so inattentive. I should be spending a lot more time with you and Jovi than I have lately.” Michael’s father admitted, full of sadness and regret.

At first, Michael believed that his father couldn't understand how he felt, but the tone of his voice was enough for the boy to finally look into his face. The director seemed about as sad as Michael was just moments ago, staring at the ground dully and watching the leaves blow past him.

“What are you working on, anyway?” Michael asked, changing the subject.

“Well, it’s a machine that we call the Purification Chamber. We’re trying to make it so that it will purify Pokemon whose hearts have been closed.” Michael’s father tried to explain, not exactly sure how to.

“What does it mean when a Pokemon’s heart has been closed?” questioned Michael. He had heard a lot of people talking about closed hearts, but he never understood what it meant.

“It’s hard to explain. You’ll understand it better when you’re older.” the director told him, knowing that the concept was too hard and complicated for a nine-year old to comprehend.

“Is that why you have to go away again?” Michael asked glumly, staring into the forest. The leaves from the top of the trees concealed the sunlight from the forest floor, just like loneliness shadowed Michael's emotions.

“Unfortunately, yes. I’m not too thrilled about it either, trust me.” he admitted, giving out a small laugh, hoping that he could lighten up his and Michael’s mood.

But Michael refused to smile. He failed to find any joy or happiness when his own father couldn’t spend time with him, even though that was all he ever wanted. Before this "Purification Chamber" came up, his father would spend time with him every day. Now, Michael would be lucky if he spoke to his father once every day.

The director sensed his son's negative sentiments; he didn't even have to look in Michael's direction to know how Michael was feeling. Ever since the day that the boy was born, the director knew there was a tight bond between them. He always compared such ties with a Spinarak and its web. The Spinarak was connected to the web, feeling the tiniest vibrations through the strands of the web, similar to the way the director could tell what Michael was feeling no matter how much he tried to keep his emotions hidden from everyone else. If the Spinarak's web was ever destroyed, then the spider-like Pokemon would just rebuild it, restoring the web back to its tight and firm state.

“However, I don’t know exactly how long I’ll be gone. Since things might be awfully lonely for you while I’m away...” the director began as he smiled and reached into his pocket.

Michael’s attention shifted to the object that his father slowly pulled out. His eyes widened and his face banished all of the sadness that was present in his emotions once he saw his father hold a small red and white sphere in his hands.

“I know you’re not quite ten yet. But your birthday is in a couple months and I wanted to give you this before I leave, just incase I don’t get back in time.” the director explained, handing him the Poke Ball.

Michael couldn't believe what he saw for a moment. Once he was sure that it wasn't a dream or an illusion, he reached for the Poke Ball and held it in his hands. He moved his fingers across the ball, soaking in the feel of the cool, smooth metal.

A smile widened across Michael’s face as the gloom that once filled him vanished. He flung himself into his father’s arms, nearly knocking him backwards.

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Michael repeated over and over, hugging his father with more force each time.

Once he regained his balance, the director wrapped his arms around Michael, holding him close. He relished every moment of the embrace, as if it was the last time he'd ever hug Michael again. The director reluctantly released himself from Michael, still trying to maintain a smile to hide his own negative emotions.

"Well? Aren't you going to open it?" the director asked, his attention on the Poke Ball.

Michael took his arms away from his father and excitedly pressed his finger on the small button in the middle of the Poke Ball. The top, red half of the sphere opened and released an orb of glowing ruby-colored light. The light rapidly formed into a brown, furry, fox-like creature. She had a mane of snow-white fur and a fluffy tail. She stared up at Michael with big, black eyes that would be able to melt anyone's heart.

"Veeee?" the Pokemon squealed in a soft, endearing voice.

"A... An Eevee!" Michael exclaimed, picking up the small and young Eevee.

Michael cradled the Eevee in his arms, petting her velvety fur. The Eevee reached up and gently licked Michael on the cheek, obviously taking a liking to the boy. Michael laughed joyfully as he scratched the Eevee behind her long ears.

As a flurry of leaves swept past Michael, the Eevee eyed them curiously, not taking her attention off of them. The Eevee squirmed in Michael’s arms, eager to examine the leaves. Michael bent down and carefully placed Eevee on the ground, excited to see her reaction.

The Eevee slowly crept up to one of the leaves once the wind had subsided for a moment. She sniffed the leaf and began swatting at it playfully. When the breeze had picked back up, the wind had picked the leaf up into the air. The Eevee chased after the leaf and jumped at it when it floated above her. The Eevee eventually found herself in a large cluster of leaves. She swatted its paws frantically after the leaves twirling in the air around her, trying to catch one of them.

Michael held his hand over his mouth, stifling his laughter. Watching the Eevee play around cutely with a bunch of leaves was so hilarious in his eyes, he couldn’t resist himself. Even his father let out a chuckle under his breath, struggling to keep the serious expression that was normally on his face.

“Come on, Michael. It’s late. We should be getting inside now.” the director told Michael, who was still in a fit of laughter watching the Eevee’s antics.

Michael nodded to him and ran after his Eevee. Even after the Eevee was lifted of the ground, she was still swiping at the leaves on the ground. She tried to jump out of Michael’s arms and attack the leaves again, but Michael’s hold on her was too strong. Michael found his Eevee’s stubborn and adamant behavior amusing and failed to stop laughing.

Once the Eevee had finally calmed down, Michael dashed back into the lab with his father. Seeing Michael that happy had brought a great amount of joy into his heavy heart. He turned to Michael and smiled at him, fearing that it would be the very last smile that Michael would see on his face.

* * *

Michael slept soundly wrapped up in the warm cotton blankets. His Eevee was curled up next to him, her paws twitching as she was trying to swat at something deep in its slumber. Both of them, absorbed in pleasant dreams, barely stirred at any noises that the occurred outside of their sleep.

A thin ray of light pierced through the darkness as the bedroom door slowly and silently opened. The director peered through the crack between the door and the wall. He quietly entered the room and tiptoed to his son’s bed. He stood above his bed for a moment, trying to keep back the flood of tears that gathering behind his eyelids.

Michael’s father bent down stroked the child’s head, letting the crimson hair pass gently through his fingers. He then kissed Michael on the forehead, hardly wanting to lift his lips up away from the boy’s skin.

"Goodbye, Michael." he whispered in his son's ears before he lifted his head away from the boy.

The director remained in the room minutes after he said his goodbye, staring at Michael as if he would never see him again. After imprinting the sight of the child in his memory, the director halfheartedly left the room, looking back several times.

* * *

The darkness of night fled away as the bright yellow sun rose over the hills. The small droplets of water that collected on the blades of grass sparkled dazzlingly when the light hit it just right. From deep within the forest, the morning songs of birds echoed through the trees.

In the road in front of the lab, an average-sized transport boat was hooked up to a rusty-looking truck. The truck was obviously aged, with the pale-white paint peeling and various scratches and dents covering the exterior. Instead of wheels, the truck was supported by disc-shaped devices that would cause the truck to hover in the air when it was turned on.

The boat, on the other hand, appeared to be fairly new. The black metal was polished enough that the reflections of the forest in front of it could be seen. On the side of the boat, the words “Black Dragon” was painted on it in a noticeable white paint.

A young man, whose head was covered in shaggy brown hair, observed the boat admiringly. His narrow eyes stared into the shiny metal that coated that boat, admiring every inch of the vessel and envying the owner.

As the man adjusted his glasses and continued to stare at the boat, the woman that was leaning against it shook her head and sighed. She didn't understand him one bit, obsessing over anything new and shiny that he laid his eyes on, whether it was a boat, automobile or a new piece of computer software.

A professional air surrounded the tall, slender woman. Her face and deep emerald eyes was straight and serious, like many of the other people that worked and lived at the Pokemon HQ Lab. Her light brown hair was fashioned into a beehive style. She was dressed in a light, lavender skirt and black high-heeled shoes.

“You wish, Krane.” a voice from behind the man laughed while he was circling the boat, looking like he was about to take it for a joyride in the nearest body of water.

The director strode down the concrete steps, smiling and laughing at Krane's obsession with the boat he rented. Krane stop examining his fascination for the moment and laughed back at the director. “When you get back, perhaps I could buy this beautiful thing and take it out for a spin.”

“When you learn how to drive a boat, that is.” the director chuckled, failing to imagine Krane on a brand new boat and keeping control of himself.

The woman couldn't help but laugh at her husband's joke, as it was hard to imagine Krane in a boat and remaining sane at the same time. She and her husband found out the hard way that Krane should stay away from anything with a wheel when they foolishly let him drive a brand new truck not long after they had graduated from college.

"You did say goodbye to the kids, right?" she asked the director once her laughing subsided.

“Of course I did, Lily. I’m not that caught up in my work.” he assured her as he wrapped his arms around him and tenderly kissed her on the lips. The melancholy aura around him that was present around Michael was present when he hugged Lily as well; though he didn't dare to show it.

“And don’t worry. We’ll be sure to keep the lab in order while you’re gone.” Lily guaranteed the director after she slowly pulled herself away from his lips.

“Good. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get what we need and come straight back before all havoc breaks loose in the lab,” the director joshed around before putting his serious face back on, “From the rumors I’ve heard, the island where I’m heading has been said to hold of the many shrines dedicated to Celebi. And if has to do with Celebi, then I might be able to find something having to do with purification.”

“Speaking of Celebi, the Relic Stone in Agate Village would be a much more logical place to research, since that was where the Shadow Pokemon was purified in the first place,” Krane mentioned after finally separating himself from the boat, “Are you sure about going to some far off place for research, when you could study in a place much closer to home? I mean, Timeshift Island isn‘t even close to the Orre Region.”

“I’m sure. We can’t just rely on one place for our studies. For all we know, everything we need could be on that island.” the director refused Krane’s advice, in a rather unwilling and forced manner.

Saying goodbye to his wife and friend, the director opened the creaky truck door and sat himself down on the driver's seat. He stuck his head out the window and waved goodbye one last time. After taking his eyes off Lily, Krane and the Pokemon HQ Lab, he turned to the wheel and started the engine. The truck's hover-devices forced a blast of lightweight, invisible gas at the ground, causing the vehicle to float in the air. The devices then faced the HQ Lab and thrust the truck forward down the forest road.

Once the Pokemon HQ Lab was concealed from sight by the branches and leaves of the forest, a sudden feeling of dejection leapt out of the director's darkest thoughts and overwhelmed him. He couldn't help but thinking about his family every minute as he drove down the dusty road, but he also couldn't help but being taken over by the fact that his entire life at the HQ Lab was a lie. As much as he wanted to turn the truck around and return to his family, the consequences of doing so would be fatal to them. Besides, he knew that they couldn't handle the truth. The truth that revealed the life he kept hidden in the shadows.

* * *

The Eevee skidded across the smooth, polished floor as she chased after a rubber ball that bounced past her. She clumsily dashed after the ball, not used to running on such a slippery surface. The ball ricocheted off the wall and flung itself straight over the Eevee’s head. The Eevee abruptly stopped running, but continued to slide across the floor as if she was on a sheet of ice. She slowed down and came to a stop only inches away from the wall.

The ball bounced back into Michael’s hands, who was standing above Eevee, chuckling. His father was right; the Eevee provided him relief from the usual boredom of the lab. The furry little Pokemon knew how to keep both itself and Michael amused. The Eevee playfully chased after nearly anything that moved, whether it was a rubber ball, dead leaves or Michael’s feet as he walked around. The Eevee’s tireless spirit meant that Michael had to play with her for hours at a time. Which wasn’t much of a problem, as Michael would just be staring off into space in his room otherwise.

“Maybe next time, I’ll throw the ball a little easier.” Michael laughed under his breath, tossing the ball up and down in the air.

The Eevee quickly sprang onto her feet and sprinted over to Michael with her tail wagging excitedly. She hopped up and down repeatedly like it was on a trampoline, trying to reach the ball in Michael’s hands. Even as she failed each time, the Eevee refused to give up. The ball had to be in her paws, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Michael grasped the ball firmly once it landed back in his hands. He stretched his arm back and proceeded to toss the ball, aiming it away from the windows which Michael knew he'd be in serious trouble if they were broken.

But just as Michael began to thrust his arm forward, something had jumped up and grabbed a hold of his hands. At first Michael flinched at the feel of somebody suddenly grabbing him, afraid that somebody was trying to kidnap him. But once Michael realized that the hands weren't firm and hard like somebody was trying to hurt him, and that they were soft, small, and gentle, he grew less shaken and more annoyed.

"Jovi wants to play with Michael's Pokemon too!" the little blue haired girl squealed, tugging at Michael's hands. Her high, childlike voice rang in Michael's ears, annoying him in nearly every way possible. Michael may have been free of boredom, but he certainly wasn't free from his little sister aggravating him every three minutes of his life.

"Jovi! Not now!" Michael moaned as he tried to free his arm from his sister's grip.

Only after constant struggle did Jovi finally release her hold on Michael. When tugging at her brother's arm didn't work, she moved on to her next strategy of persuasion. Her cheerful demeanor quickly transformed into a saddened state. She attempted to win Michael over with her big green eyes that began to look glossy from the tears forming. Jovi lowered her head, but continued to stare at Michael depressingly.

She's not going to fool me this time, Michael thought to himself as he rolled his eyes. Whenever Jovi didn't get her way, she'd always act sad and cute just to get sympathy. It might've worked on her and Michael's parents, but Michael was determined not to be gullible enough to let Jovi win him over.

Just as Michael was about to tell his sister to bug off, his attention shifted to the room next to him. His mother, Prof. Krane and a police officer had been in there for almost half an hour and they still haven't come out. Michael began to grow curious of what was being discussed inside as he stared pryingly at the closed door. A cold, chilling feeling came over Michael while his attention grew more focused to the room. Judging from the bad premonition that rushed through his thoughts, Michael knew that something was horribly wrong.

"Alright, fine." Michael blurted out, forgetting that he told himself that he wouldn't fall for Jovi's tricks.

Michael carelessly tossed Jovi the rubber ball, his attention barely on her. Once Jovi had the ball in her grasp after reaching for it clumsily, her fake tears disappeared and a smile replaced the frown that she believed won Michael over. Jovi's already rosy cheeks grew brighter as a joyful and victorious grin spread across her face. Charming other people easily was entertaining enough; but making somebody that isn't easily tricked -like Michael- to cave in was even more enjoyable to Jovi.

Michael tiptoed over to the metallic door as his Eevee pursed the ball that Jovi flung across the room. He looked behind him several times, not only to make sure that one of the staff members wouldn't catch him eavesdropping, but also to be able to dodge out of the way in time if the rubber ball came flying towards him. Michael laid his hands on the cold, steel door and pressed his ears against the metal. Luckily, neither the walls nor doors in the lab were soundproof, so Michael was able to make out faint voices through the door. Michael blocked out every other sound around him, which included his sister giggling annoyingly, so that he could focus on the voices he wanted to hear.

"How do you know it was his boat?" the voice of his mother asked, mixed in with mournful sobs.

"Some of the debris from the boat managed to survive the explosion. We recovered a piece of metal that had the words ‘Black Dragon’ painted on it with white paint. And if I'm not mistaken, the boat that your husband rented a week ago was named the 'Black Dragon'" another voice -who was obviously the police officer, since Michael had never heard that voice before- explained.

Michael's heart immediately sank at the officer's words. It couldn't be true. They couldn't be talking about his father. Michael shoved himself with his hands, hoping that he could wake up from such a nightmare. But he failed to jolt himself back into reality, because it was reality.

"But why? Why would somebody plant explosives in his boat? He would never hurt anyone! I don't even think he's made an enemy in his entire life!" Krane stuttered, full of shock and disbelief.

"Well my best guess is that some of the remaining members of the disbanded Cipher must've got word of the project. They probably figured that if they could kill off the director of the Pokemon HQ Lab, then the Purification Chamber project would fall apart and they would be able to rebuild Cipher." the police officer guessed with uncertainty.

The name "Cipher" rang a bell to Michael, as he heard it several times by the staff members. He then recalled that Cipher was brought up every single time that the news about the organization that used to be elsewhere in the region. It wasn't long before Michael realized that "Cipher" must've been the name of the organization.

"But no one outside this lab besides you has heard that we were working on a new project! We've hardly left the lab since we began working on the Purification Chamber!" Lily sobbed, pausing in between sentences.

"Did your husband leave for research at any time before this?" the officer asked, his voice full of sympathy for the woman weeping in front of him.

"Once. He said that he went out to the desert to try to find information about the Shadow Pokemon a while back, but it was only for a day," Lily answered, sniffling while trying to get herself together, "And besides, he would never leak out such information like that, knowing that there might have still been scattered members of Cipher!"

Shadow Pokemon? Michael questioned to himself. The topic of Shadow Pokemon was mentioned a few times, but only in whispers. Although Michael had heard Shadow Pokemon being discussed without rest inside the Purification Chamber room. Suddenly, he remembered his conversation with his father just the evening before. His father mentioned that the Purification Chamber was supposed to heal Pokemon that had their hearts closed. Michael began to wonder if the Shadow Pokemon and the Pokemon with closed hearts were the same things.

"Cipher must've heard about the Purification Chamber somehow. That's the only possibility I can think of." the officer sighed. The sound of his footsteps came closer to the other side of the door. Michael still had his ears planted on the door, knowing that from the sound of it; the officer wasn't close enough the door to leave the room.

"We still haven't managed to recover his body yet. And as massive and fiery as the explosion was, there was no way he could've survived it. If he did manage to live through the explosion, then he would've drowned in the ocean, since it was about five miles away from shore. We'll notify you once we do manage to find his body," the police officer glumly informed Krane and Lily. He came right up to the other side of the door and stopped in his tracks before he opened the door, "I'm sorry. I truly am."

Michael backed away from the electronic door seconds before it opened and the officer walked out. The tall man, dressed in the standard blue uniform of all police officers in the region, glanced at Michael solemnly before leaving the lab. Lily and Krane walked out of the room after the police officer did and stopped as soon as they saw Michael at the door. At any other time, Lily would've scolded Michael for eavesdropping, but with the grief filling her head, the thought never crossed her mind.

Michael stared at his mother's tear-filled eyes, hoping for some reassurement that what he just heard wasn't true. He wanted to ask her if it was a lie, but the mournful silence was enough of an answer. Krane lowered his head and clamped his eyes shut, preventing a flow of tears that were about to burst out. The loss of his best friend was too hard for even him to fathom.

Once Michael couldn't hold it in any longer, a river of water rushed down from his eyes as he threw himself in Lily's arms. Lily fell down to her knees and held her child tightly in her arms. Her shoulder quickly become soaked as Michael cried incessantly on it. His yelling and screaming for his father were muffled by his endless sobs.

"Dad..." Michael cried, still unable to fully believe that this was happening to him.

Michael's crying began to calm down after a few minutes, but he was still unable to see with the wall of water blurring his vision. Just as another cascade of tears was about to flow down Michael's face, a tiny, scratchy tongue licked Michael on the cheek. Michael looked over to his side, barely moving his head, and saw his Eevee sitting next to him, purring sympathetically. Michael reached his hand out to the Pokemon, stroking her soft fur. He hoped that the Eevee could help take his mind off his father, but no matter how hard Michael tried, the thought of him lingered in his head despite the Eevee’s attempts to cheer him up.

Jovi stood in front of Lily and Michael, confused at the sudden feeling of grief that conquered them. Too young to understand the concept of death, the four-year old girl failed to understand why Michael was crying for their father. But even though she didn’t understand, Jovi felt sadness take over her while looking at her family’s depressed state.

But even as Lily, Jovi and the Eevee offered him their sympathy, Michael eventually paid no attention to them. He was blind to the others around him for the moment. Sadness wasn’t the only thing that overwhelmed Michael’s thoughts and emotions. Anger ignited into a fiery hatred towards those people, this Cipher group, that killed his father. Michael simply didn’t understand. Michael didn’t understand why anyone would kill his father, why anyone would be so evil to do such a thing.

But that didn’t matter now to Michael. Michael was sure that with the right training, Eevee would become strong and adept at battling. He was confident that he would somehow obtain new Pokemon and build a strong, unstoppable team. Then, and only then, Michael would track down these Cipher people and get revenge, the only thing that Michael now longed for.

* * *

The molten hot rivers of lava oozed out of the crater of the volcano. Towers of steam erupted from the melted rock as it met the cold sea. Fierce waves crashed upon the rocky shores of the foreboding island. Dark, gray clouds surrounded the island, concealing it from the rest of the world. A large, silver dome rested above the volcano’s crater, overlooking everything below it.

Michael... Lily... Jovi..., the former director of the Pokemon HQ Lab thought painfully to himself. He stared out into wide open sea around him, regretting every second he stood on the wretched island. He betrayed the entire lab, his friends, his family. For all he was concerned, he no longer existed. He was dead to his family. At least that’s what they thought. He was no stranger to emotional pain, but nothing could ever amount to the heartbreak that he felt every moment. As long as he was with the very organization that the Pokemon Lab tried to stop, he could never see the faces of his family again. The family that was his children and wife, that is.

Another man that resembled him a great deal, obviously his brother, stepped next to the former director. He was a tall, slim man with soothingly blue hair that stretched down beyond his shoulders. Like his brother, the man wore expensive-looking and elegant robes, although it was marked with blue and gray patterns, instead of red and gray. Blacks shades like the ones that his brother wore concealed his eyes and seemed to symbolize authority. Premature wrinkles formed around his mouth where a sinister smirk usually spread across his face. But no such smile was present at the time. Instead, his entire face was straight and calm, failing to show any other sort of emotion.

“Eldes.” he addressed the former director, in a voice similar to his own.

Eldes simply nodded, his spirits too low to respond with words. Eldes’ brother stared out into the sea with him, but neither were exactly sure what they were staring at. For some people, screaming or punching at something was a way to release negative emotions. A few others talked about their problems to get their worries and pains off their chest. But Eldes did neither. For him, the only way to relieve the pain was to see his wife and children. But his position in Cipher forbade it, meaning that the pain and misery would linger in him until Cipher finally crumbled.

“Grand Master’s orders.” Eldes’ brother reminded him, breaking the silence.

Eldes’ head filled with anger at the reminder, though his face didn’t show it. His word meant nothing against the Grand Master’s, which meant that Eldes wasn’t able to stop him from ordering him to do such a thing. Forcing him to fake his own death and sever his bonds with wife and children just to cause the Purification Chamber project to crumble; Eldes was beginning to wonder if the Grand Master was completely insane. Of course, the fact that the Grand Master barely even considered Eldes and his brother his own sons anymore was enough of an answer.

Eldes never once thought that the Grand Master would command him to be separated from his family. The moment the Grand Master gave his orders, Eldes realized that he had somehow found out about the Purification Chamber, despite his attempts to keep it secret. If it was anyone else that had tried to commit treason against Cipher, they would’ve been put to death. Eldes figured that either the Grand Master still had compassion for him somewhere in his corrupted heart, or that Eldes was just too valuable of a trainer to throw away.

Of course, there was obviously consequences for trying to destroy Cipher. The Grand Master was well aware that Eldes loved his family more than anything in the world, and losing them would be a much more painful punishment then simply killing Eldes himself. Surprisingly, a small, tiny bit of mercy appeared in the Grand Master’s soul that day. He gave Eldes a choice of which punishment he would rather have. Either the entire staff of the Pokemon HQ Lab would be killed and all the data collected for the Purification Chamber would be deleted, or that Eldes would have to forever leave his family and fake his own death.

Shocked and horrified at the choices he was given, Eldes’ heart plunged into a sea of shadows and nightmares. Eldes would never be able to live with himself if the people he grown so close to was murdered, especially at the orders of his own father. But Eldes couldn’t stand never seeing his family again either. Both choices proved difficult and painful for Eldes to bear. However, he chose the latter, since he would much rather have his family live, yet never be able to see them anymore, then to have them killed.

Not even a day after the Grand Master’s orders were given, the way Eldes would fake his death was planned. Using a rented boat, Eldes would claim to his family and the rest of the staff at the Pokemon HQ Lab that he was using it to travel to research at Timeshift Island, where a shrine dedicated to Celebi exists. However, the boat would be set on autopilot while a time-bomb was set to explode after an hour at sea. The boat would sail off without Eldes while he was being transported by his brother to the Cipher Headquarters. By the time the time-bomb exploded, it would be a few miles off of the coast of the sea-side town, Gateon Port. The vessel would be far enough away that no one would notice that there was no one inside, but close enough that the explosion could clearly be seen.

“I know.” Eldes responded to his brother in a hardly audible tone.

His brother looked at Eldes one last time before heading across the bridge leading into the silver dome. Eldes wasn’t even sure if his brother was giving him his sympathy, or just rubbing it in. Lately, he failed to show any positive emotion whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the only emotion that ever came out of him recently was anger, and that was only when he was putting incompetent peons in their place.

As Eldes began to follow his brother, he questioned if the bond he used to share with his brother and father was severed as well. If he had any real family left was beyond him. His family back in the lab thought he and been killed, and the Grand Master just considered Eldes a pawn in his plan for all he was concerned.

Eldes knew for sure that the only way that he’d ever have his family back was if Cipher was defeated. But with the Shadow Pokemon that supposedly can never be purified in development; all Eldes could do was stand back and hope. Hope for a miracle.

Apoligies for the uber-long prologue. >_< I seriously didn't expect it to be this long.

I'm writing a fic about Eldes. I bet no one saw that coming. [/sarcasm] And I'm well aware that Eevee as a starter is terribly overused. But since it was Michael's starter Pokemon in Pokemon XD, I couldn't really get around it.

29th July 2006, 5:23 AM
Interseting how you put Eldes as Michael's father. But then would Michael reconigze Eldes when he battles him? Just asking.

This whole thing intersets me and I wanna see how you continue with this. Good job.

29th July 2006, 5:32 PM
But then would Michael reconigze Eldes when he battles him? Just asking.

Yeah, I realized that not too long after I finished typing the prologue. I'm going to try to explain why Michael wouldn't reconize Eldes in the first chapter; but I'm still brainstorming on how to do that. :p

And besides, since I'm such a procrastinator and I'm slow at writing, it might be a while before I get the first chapter up. Though I obviously might want to shorten the length a little bit. ^_^;

29th July 2006, 5:50 PM
Wow. Nice prologue. I'm glad you didn't just rehash the same XD story and instead are adding to it and making it much more suspenseful and exciting. Can't wait to see more.

The Great Butler
3rd August 2006, 4:22 AM
Very good work! I like how you incorporated Eldes in a different way, and then explained the relationship between Eldes, Ardos and Greevil. I'll look forward to seeing how Michael doesn't recognize Eldes (perhaps Eldes admits the truth after all, seeing as he's the last battle before Greevil himself?) and how Greevil discovered the Purify Chamber project.

3rd August 2006, 7:55 PM
Meganium: Thanks. I wanted to avoid retelling the same story I've played through several times. But since the fic itself takes place after Pokemon XD, it's not really going to repeat XD's storyline, anyways. Although:

There will be quite a bit of flashbacks to some of the events in Pokemon XD in the first chapter. A few of the flashbacks don't even take place in XD.

TGB: Heh. I've always imagined that Eldes used to have a close relationship with Greevil and Ardos. But it then went all 'asplode with Greevil going insane and Ardos turning into the evil and relentless person we all know and love. X3

And I'm still trying to figure out why Michael wouldn't reconize Eldes. :/ *kicks Writers Block*

But since Michael doesn't know who Eldes is, he sees him as a heartless Cipher Admin like everyone else in Cipher is in his eyes. Therefore, Eldes finds it's not going to be all that easy telling Michael that he's his father; especially since Michael doesn't trust him in the least bit.

1st December 2006, 3:24 AM
I is lazy. D:

I am SO sorry for the delay. Writer's Block kept me from progressing on this as quickly as I wanted to. So yeah, I need to learn how to post chapters at reasonable rates. XD Anyways:

Chapter One: Renegade:

At first, Eldes thought that he hoped in vain when he dreamt about Cipher's downfall. No matter how hard he tried, the image of Cipher finally crumbling just wouldn't form in his mind. For a while, he believed that the chances that the horrific organization would be defeated was slim to none. Even though Eldes lost all hope for a brighter future, the final battle was taking place. The battle that would decide Cipher's fate once and for all.

Eldes stood in front of the wide plasma screen that stretched across the control room, watching every second of the battle. Ever since Eldes was separated from his family, he dreamed of the day that some brave soul would finally take his father on. But little did Eldes know that the brave soul that he dreamed about was his very own son.

After almost two hours of ceaseless fighting, it had come down to a strong-willed Vaporeon that remained standing even after all her comrades had fallen, and a tainted Zapdos that attacked its victims without any mercy whatsoever. The lightening-yellow bird ruthlessly struck the exhausted Vaporeon with midnight-colored bolts of electricity, taking in sadistic pleasure at watching its opponent suffer. However, the resilient, blue-skinned Pokemon withstood the surges of electrical energy against all odds. Once she was able to get back on her feet, she proceeded to assault her enemy with fierce jets of rushing water that formed from the moisture that the air around it held.

It wasn't long before both Pokemon became downright exhausted. The Zapdos' wings grew too tired to support itself in the air, so it weakly stood on its feet while staring down its enemy. The Vaporeon struggled to keep herself standing on her wobbly legs, looking like she was about ready to collapse. Both Pokemon were nearly exhausted of all their energy. Neither of them had enough vigor to attack, nor protect themselves if they were attacked.

While the tired Zapdos struggled to catch its breath, all its master could do was laugh menacingly, not bothering to show any pity or sympathy for the worn-out Pokemon. At first glance, the Zapdos’ master seemed to be a bald, harmless looking man. But his small stature and elderly appearance deceived what he really was: the cruel and coldhearted individual that was the Grand Master of Cipher.

“Just give it up, child,” the Grand Master taunted the teenager that stood directly across from him, “What honestly made you think that you could defeat me? Your pathetic Vaporeon is on the verge of fainting as it is. All it will take is one more attack from my Zapdos for that worthless excuse for a Pokemon to put out of fighting for good! You don’t stand a chance!”

It was evident on Michael's face that his anger reached a boiling point. It had been glaringly obvious that he despised the Grand Master to begin with, but a look of pure hatred formed in Michael’s eyes after hearing the Grand Master‘s comment. “Open your eyes, Greevil! Your Zapdos is just as exhausted as Autumn is! It barely has the energy to lift up a wing, let alone send out another attack! You’re insane if you think that you can force Zapdos to battle any more! Just because it’s a Shadow Pokemon doesn’t give you the right to treat it like a mindless drone!”

“It is a mindless drone, you ignorant child!” Greevil erupted in a fit of laughter, “What did you think Shadow Pokemon were?!”

Michael’s eyes only grew more agitated as the sound of Greevil’s sinister laugh echoed throughout the wide open arena. Once Greevil had collected himself, he glared at Michael maliciously while a malevolent smile crept across his face.

“Should I remind you that Shadow Pokemon will listen to their master’s orders without argument? It doesn’t care how exhausted it is or how cruel it would be to mercilessly attack a Pokemon that has no chance of winning! All it’s concerned about is that it obeys it’s master! In other words, me,” Greevil chuckled confidently. “Zapdos! Finish this with Shadow Bolt!”

Zapdos feebly straightened its posture and painfully spread its wings. Dark, electrical energy charged around its body as it focused on the Vaporeon, who was apparently named Autumn. Once the electricity grew strong enough, Zapdos let loose a flurry of crackling bolts of lightening. Each bolt danced in the air in wild spasms before they all forced themselves in the direction of the helpless Vaporeon. But every last one of the bolts either came close to striking Autumn, or struck the ground nowhere near its target. Zapdos had completely missed its mark.

Greevil’s confident expression was quickly replaced with frustration as Zapdos came close to crashing to the floor. It attempted to attack Autumn again, but Zapdos proved to be too tired to attack with even the weakest Shadow Bolt. Zapdos’ legs shook uncontrollably as it strained to stay standing.

Seeing his chance, Michael pulled out the last Ultra Ball that remained in his pocket. If Cipher was to be defeated, then the Ultra Ball would have to succeed in snagging Zapdos where ten other Ultra Balls have failed. Michael grasped the ball firmly while the machine that was attached to his left arm lit up with a florescent yellow light. The light transferred to the Ultra Ball, surrounding the white, black and yellow sphere in a bright, fire-like aura.

Michael took in a deep breath and thrust the Ultra Ball forward, aiming it straight at Zapdos. The moment the Ultra Ball collided with the bird, Zapdos' body transformed into a glowing mass of red light. The Ultra Ball's top half opened and sucked in the mass that used to be Zapdos like a vacuum. The ball slammed shut and fell to the ground, where it began to wobble back and forth. Both Michael and Greevil eyed the ball anxiously, not sure whether to expect Zapdos to stay in the ball, or for the legendary bird to break free.

But after the Ultra Ball had rocked back and forth three times, it suddenly paused and made a clicking sound as it locked Zapdos inside.

A sigh escaped from Eldes' mouth the very moment the Ultra Ball succeeded in capturing Zapdos. It wasn't a sigh of disappointment or anger, but rather a sigh of relief. After years of endless toil for such a horrifying organization, after living without the slightest bit of hope and after forever damaging the lives of dozens of innocent Pokemon; it was finally over.

Eldes wasn't the only one overcome with relief, however. Michael's demeanor seemed to be less tense after seeing that his last Ultra Ball succeeded. His shoulders dropped and his breathing began to grow more calm and less stressed. Autumn stumbled over to him, smiling while gazing at the boy with eyes that were as black as coal. Michael bent down and congratulated Vaporeon, scratching behind her fin-like ears and rubbing her rubbery hide before returning her to her Poke Ball for a well-deserved rest.

But while Eldes and Michael were relieved, the only emotion that could be detected on Greevil's face was shock. His golden eyes were fixed on the Ultra Ball while his jaw hung open. When Greevil lifted his head, Michael saw that the disbelief had mixed with anger.

"You... You got lucky! That was nothing but sheer luck!" Greevil hissed, clenching both his fists and his teeth.

"So I got lucky. That still doesn't change the fact that I won." Michael retorted, picking up Zapdos' Ultra Ball.

Greevil's fists tightened as he clenched them harder, an obvious indication that he wanted nothing more than to run across the arena and strangle Michael. But as the boy's words sunk in, Greevil could do nothing more than fall to his knees in defeat.

"No... This can't be... He's just a child... He didn't win... He can't win..." Greevil muttered to himself, denying everything.

Eldes got a glimpse of silky, blue clothing swaying elegantly as the air conditioner blew against it out of the corner of his eye as he was still watching the plasma screen. Eldes turned his head to get a full view, even though he knew who was standing behind him.

"What happened here?!" his brother wasted no time demanding to know as he kept his eyes on the screen across the room.

"The boy won, Ardos. It's over." Eldes informed him, remaining calm and hiding his pleasure over the outcome.

Ardos growled lowly and muttered unintelligible swears under his breath. Ardos never liked Michael. As a matter of fact, he hated the boy, and being related to him didn't change a thing. All Eldes had to do was look at him, and the loathing and resentment that filled the air around Ardos would send chills throughout Eldes' body.

Ardos spun around and stormed off to the elevator that led to the arena, still swearing in whispers. As Eldes watched his clearly fed-up brother rush to the elevator, his head began to swarm with horrible premonitions. The infuriated aura that surrounded Ardos was enough to give Eldes the impression that he was up to something.

Not wasting any amount of precious time, Eldes dashed over to the elevator, nervously waiting for the platform to come back down. Although he knew that whatever was going through Ardos' head was certainly spiteful, Eldes had no idea exactly what he was going to do. But that didn't matter in the least bit to Eldes. He was sick of the shadows. Sick of the fear, sick of the hopelessness. And just when the torment seemed to end, just as the madness would finally be over, Ardos had to step in and try to keep the insanity alive. Eldes realized that it was about time that he stopped being a coward and stood up against Cipher for a change.

When the platform had finally lowered down to the floor, Eldes took one last deep breath before stepping in. Seconds seemed like hours as the elevator lifted Eldes up into the battle arena. Anxiety dominated him to the point where he could hear his own heartbeat. Beads of sweat formed and rolled down his face, not only from the extreme heat of the lava that bubbled below the silver dome, but also from the fear of what was to come.

The elevator opened its glass doors and revealed the gigantic, round arena. Every last bit of metal was either black or gray; lacking any trace of bright colors. Small beams of light escaped through small cracks in the dome-shaped roof above, which could open itself up at the press of a button.

Standing in the middle of the arena like an Onix towering over a Wooper; Ardos stood above Greevil while shooting several hateful glares at Michael. "...if we're to continue with our plans, then we should destroy Citadark Isle while the boy is still on it."

Eldes nearly felt his heart climb up into his throat, almost expecting it to stop altogether. At first, he refused to believe that Ardos said what he said. He did all he could to deny the fact that this was the same Ardos that Eldes knew from the very moment he was born, the same one that always stood by him and promised to always be on his side. Hearing such words be spoken by his own flesh and blood; it was almost if Eldes didn't know him anymore.

"You can't do that! You'll kill everybody on the island!" Michael exploded, directing his fiery waves of anger at Ardos.

“And that ‘everybody’ includes you,” Ardos retorted sharply before turning his attention back to Greevil, “If we don’t escape, then Cipher will surely be finished. There’s a helicopter waiting outside for us. We need to leave now!”

While Greevil stayed in the spot he was, deep in thought as he stared at the floor; a spark of hope lit up in Eldes’ gloom-filled heart. If Greevil was thinking about Ardos’ suggestion instead of imeddiately agreeing to mindlessly murder dozens of people and Pokemon; Eldes knew for sure that he wasn’t as heartless as he implied for the previous five years.

But even though hope still burned in his soul, dark, gray clouds formed and let loose a downpour of rain when Eldes noticed a glimmer of rage and fury in Greevil's yellow eyes. Instead of gambling on whether Greevil would agree or not, he stepped forward and yelled, "Wait!"

His voice echoed throughout the arena as the three people standing before him all turned their heads towards Eldes simultaneously. Ardos narrowed his sea-green eyes from behind his sunglasses, which suddenly began to fill with frustration, as if he could tell what Eldes was going to say.

"I thought that you were better than this, Ardos. You should be ashamed, even thinking about sacrificing dozens of lives just so you can carry out your plans!" Eldes responded to Ardos' obvious show of irritation, while feeling ashamed of himself for thinking that Ardos would never betray him.

"Ashamed?" Ardos simply laughed, tightening his growingly spiteful glare at Eldes, "Why should we waste our time saving worthless servants that failed us, when we can escape now and ensure that Cipher lives? Being caught up in your foolish morals will only guarantee that Cipher will die!"

Foolish morals? Eldes thought to himself over and over as he tried to grasp Ardos' words. What has become of him?! He can't be this cruel!

"You failed in defeating the boy also. Does that mean I have the right to kill you?" hissed Eldes, which seemed rather foreign to the way he normally spoke. He was done tolerating Ardos’ merciless nature, and his darker, more irritable nature couldn’t help but put a stop to it, “The Grand Master, you, me... There’s no use in denying it anymore, Ardos! Cipher is finished and nothing you do will change that!”

“Grow a spine, you coward! If you believe that Cipher is finished, then you mind as well just go up in flames along with that brat!” Ardos growled, showing more anger as each second passed. His pupils dilated into a ball of emerald flames and his teeth clenched to the point where Eldes thought they were about to break. The wrinkles that were prominent around his mouth grew more noticeable as his smirk was transformed into an infuriated frown.

“You‘re the spineless coward! You can’t even admit that you lost!” Eldes erupted like a previously dormant volcano. Michael and Greevil stared at him with astonished faces, like they were expecting Eldes to explode into a million pieces. Even Eldes himself was surprised at his own outburst.

“This never would have happened if that boy hadn’t interfered. The only way we can proceed is if we get rid of the boy...” Ardos snapped back, seemingly unfazed by Eldes’ furious reaction. His voice then dropped to a whisper as his malicious green eyes continued to direct their malevolence straight at Eldes, “...like we should’ve done a long time ago.”

Eldes took a heavy breath to extinguish the flames that fueled his temper, but they were adamant in burning with each threat to Michael Ardos made. Eldes found that he now had two problems to juggle with: Keeping Michael alive, which was his original motive, and preventing Ardos’ tainted soul from driving him into insanity. But new fears began to surface when his more darker thoughts told him that Ardos going insane was inevitable. If he couldn’t convince Ardos to change his ways, Eldes hoped maybe he could sway Greevil’s decision.

“Please. You can’t go through with this.” Eldes aimed at Greevil, his voice reverting to its original calm tone, “Think about everybody that worked tirelessly for you. You can’t just kill them off like tools that you could just throw away.”

Greevil kept his eyes on the ground, still absorbed in thought. Even after all Greevil put him through, Eldes couldn’t help but felt sorry for his father on his knees choosing between his two sons. Eldes could barely imagine himself in such a situation, having to choose between Michael and Jovi. But the more Eldes thought about it, the more he pondered whether Greevil was basing his decision on who was right, or who he could benefit more from.

The spark of hope that flickered deep within Eldes’ heart was blown out when Greevil lifted his head and announced his decision, “Ardos is right.”

Every last bit of good-natured and hope-filled thoughts that lingered in Eldes’ head plummeted into an abyss when Greevil’s words were uttered. But while Eldes was lost in his feelings of shock, Ardos’ mouth widened into a sinister and menacing smirk, a sight that Eldes was familiar with.

No... I can’t let him do this! Eldes screamed in his mind, terrified by thoughts of losing Michael forever, something that was impossible for him to fathom. Eldes realized that for the past five years, all he ever was a coward. Living each gloomy day in a hopeless shadow, fearing the worst out of everything that happened. Eldes couldn’t stand it anymore. He was done being afraid of the man that raised him from birth. Courage rose up from the depths of his soul and vanquished the fear that plagued him as he blurted out, “Please! Father!”

Any other time, Eldes knew that Greevil would punish him if he called him something besides "Grand Master", "Master Greevil", or "Sir". But instead of becoming enraged, as Eldes expected, Greevil simply shifted his eyes in Eldes' direction, looking at him like he wasn't even aware that Eldes was his own son.

"Don't call him that!" Ardos barked as he swiftly spun around the moment that Eldes spoke his words, "You're only to address him as the Grand Master!"

"He is not your master, Ardos. He is your father, as he is mine, in case you've forgotten." Eldes retorted, only making slight eye contact with Ardos as he approached Greevil.

As he strode past Ardos, Eldes' mind blocked itself from taking in any of Ardos' hateful words that he predicted would be said, although nothing more than a snarl escaped Ardos' mouth.

"You know that this is wrong and that Cipher is finished, Father. Trying to rule the world by forcing Pokemon into maddness isn‘t only cruel, but it's not possible, either. Out of all people, you should've realized that a long time ago," Eldes honestly spoke his mind for the first time in years, all while maintaining a soft, gentle tone, "I was in the wrong as much as you, Ardos, and the rest of Cipher was; I don't deny that. I should've said this much earlier, instead of waiting until it got to a point like this. We'll have to face justice sooner or later; we can't deny the inevitable."

"Are you suggesting that we turn ourselves in?!" Ardos screeched, his voice growing hoarse from the constant yelling.

"That's exactly what I'm saying." Eldes answered under his breath.

Eldes heard Ardos give out one last groan before turning his back and hissing like an Arbok, "You're a fool Eldes. Trust me, you'll regret this one way or another."

Ardos stormed off, sending forth a vicious gust of hatred and a shower of raindrops that were not made of water, but pure contempt. He never looked back even once as his blue robes swayed back and forth while he rushed to the elevator like a furious hurricane speeding along the ocean, aiming for land.

Once the elevator took Ardos out of his sight, Eldes gave a deep sigh and glumly shook his head. He felt like at that moment that a knife slashed through the connection they had and left it in a thousand broken pieces. All his life, he thought that their bond was unbreakable, like the hardest forged steel. Now, he realized that it more closely resembled glass, with which a single stone could indefinitely shatter it.

Once he could escape from the fog of gloom that Ardos left behind, Eldes shrugged off the darkened clouds and turned his attention back to his father. “For the past five years, I got the impression that you didn’t consider me and Ardos your sons anymore. But I have always considered you my father, regardless of everything that you did to keep Cipher running. Nothing will ever change that.”

It wasn’t hard for Eldes to tell that his words were starting to sink into Greevil. For the first time in what seemed like forever, Greevil had neither hatred nor sadism in his aura, but rather regret and guilt. He held his wrinkled hand to his forehead and clamped his eyes shut. “What... What have I done?”

Nodding his head in satisfaction, waves of joy surged through his veins, disintegrating the dejection that previous occupied his thoughts. A small -but still clearly noticeable to both Michael and Greevil- smile crept across a face that hasn’t experience a real smile in the longest time.

“You had the courage to admit your mistake and realize you were wrong. But please, will you now have the courage to stand up?” Eldes asked of him, holding out his hand.

Greevil extended his hand to Eldes, resisting at first. Once his hand met Eldes', Eldes grasped it and pulled Greevil up to his feet. When he still refused to look him in the eyes, Eldes could tell that Greevil was far more ashamed of himself than Eldes could have ever been.

"Everything... All of it... All of it was a mistake." Greevil muttered to himself, in such a low tone that Eldes could barely pick up the words.

"We all make mistakes. I've made the same ones you did. You're not alone." Eldes assured him, sharing his feelings of guilt.

But Eldes refused to let the guilt win over him at that moment. Cipher was no more, which was a cause for happiness, not looking back on dark memories. But still, Eldes couldn't find it in himself to celebrate when there was still one more problem to deal with...


Eldes turned his head, expecting the spot where Michael stood to be vacant. But to his surprise, the boy was still present, beginning to put his body in motion and head for the elevator. Eldes wasn't sure why Michael still remained, when he could've left much earlier. Two possibilities began to form in Eldes' thoughts. Either Michael was scared that if he tried to escape, Ardos might catch him and kill him on the spot, or that he had faith that Eldes would resolve the issue at hand. Though Eldes was hoping that the latter was true, his sense of logic told him that the former was more likely.

Before Michael had the chance to leave, Eldes approached him just as Michael began walking. The more Eldes looked into his face, the harder he found it to believe that this was his son standing before him. This was the very same boy that begged Eldes to play with him outside every chance he got. This was the same boy that turned to Eldes first out of all people when something troubling was on his mind. The same boy that was always dreaming that he could be a Champion Pokemon Trainer, was the same boy that defeated the strongest trainer with the most powerful Pokemon that Eldes has ever known.

And yet, that same boy that showed Eldes more love than he could imagine at one time was the same boy that was glaring at him with the deepest feelings of resentment that Eldes had ever seen in a child's eyes.

Eldes almost found it hard to speak, frozen in place just from seeing the bitterness that Michael was showing him. I can't keep this from him anymore, Eldes admitted in his mind, He has to know sooner or later.

"Michael." Eldes addressed him, the nervousness becoming the prominent feature in his voice.

Michael didn't bother answering. He just continued his bitter stare at Eldes as his feet inched closer to the elevator. His sharp, icy look chilled Eldes' blood. Seeing that sort of expression on his face, an expression that Eldes would've expected to see in Ardos, was a clear indication to Eldes that Michael loathed him.

"If it wasn't for your bravery, then neither me or Father would've realized that we were following the wrong path all this time," Eldes finally spoke up, gathering all his courage, "For that, I sincerely thank you. I would be honored to have another battle with you someday, just not as enemies as we were the first time."

Eldes once again held out his hand, hoping in his mind that Michael will not decide to hold a grudge and forgive him. But when Michael turned his head away, refusing to shake his hand, Eldes found that he couldn't hold it in any longer, "Michael, there's something that I need to tell you."

Michael's emerald eyes slightly moved to make eye contact with Eldes, showing interest in what he had to say. But his unforgiving aura remained the same, no matter how much guilt absorbed Eldes' thoughts.

"I never should've hidden this from you. You had a right to know and I'm done being scared of telling you who I am.", Eldes took a deep breath and let the words flow out of his mouth, "Michael, I'm your fa-"

The ground suddenly and violently shook like an earthquake was splitting Citadark Isle in half, cutting Eldes off. Cracks began forming in the metal floor and small bits of steel fell from the dome-shaped roof over their heads. The fiery explosions from below that echoed in the arena failed to have an effect on Eldes' ears as his heavy heartbeat blocked out all other sounds once he realized what was happening. Ardos! He activated the self-destruct function by himself!

The terrified expressions on both Greevil's and Michael's faces seemed to be out of place to Eldes. Never before had Eldes ever seen Michael in such a state of fear. Shivering in fright was the only motion that Michael's body made, as he was so terrified that he was frozen to the spot he was standing in. His uneasy hands trembled as his vision set itself on the floor, never focusing them on something else.

Eldes couldn't bear to see Michael in such a condition, yet, he couldn't take his attention off of him. As much as Eldes wanted to run over to him and comfort Michael, he found that he was frozen in fear himself.

While Eldes was still glued in the spot he was standing, the sound of the floor cracking behind him suddenly leapt into Eldes' ears. The moment he spun around, the floor beneath Greevil split open and revealed a pit of ravenous flames and a sea of bubbling lava. Greevil didn't even get the chance to let a horrified scream out of his mouth before he plunged into the lava and was consumed by the relentless inferno.

"FATHER!" Eldes yelled with tears welling up in his eyes while towers of flames erupted from the merciless pit of death that boiled below him.

The clouds of gloom and darkness returned to Eldes' soul, fogging his vision with grief-stricken tears. The darkness erupted with sorrow-filled thoughts that blinded his mind‘s eye to any of the brighter thoughts that remained in him. Is fear and grief the only emotions I have to live with?! My life is nothing but a living nightmare! Why can’t my life be a dream for once?!

Immersed into a pool of bleak sentiments, it was only by chance that Eldes heard the floor cracking again. He broke himself free from the gloom that imprisoned him and instinctively dashed towards Michael as fast as his long legs could carry him. He had already seen the destruction of his and Ardos' bond and the death of his father. If he witnessed Michael's downfall, Eldes would be emotionally torn apart.

Every move Eldes made felt like he was moving in slow motion. The area around him was distorted; Michael being the only clear image in front of him. As every second passed, the floor came closer to caving in and beams of red-hot light escaped from the cracks beneath Michael. Just as the floor finally broke apart and nothing but thick, heated air existed between Michael and the awaiting pool of lava; Eldes dove for Michael's hand, extending his own as far as it could go. Eldes' hand came closer and closer to Michael's until Eldes could feel the boy's hand touch his.

But it wasn't enough.

Before Eldes could get a tight grip on Michael's hand, the boy fell out of his reach and plummeted into the flames right before Eldes' horror-struck eyes. As soon as he slammed down to the ground, Eldes closed his watery eyes shut, not be able to bear the sight of his son's body being reduced to ashes. A waterfall of anguished tears rushed down Eldes’ eyes, soaking every inch of skin the cascade came in contact with. The broken-down man slammed his fists on the floor. Nothing at that moment held Eldes back from letting out an agonizing scream that was spawned from every nightmare that haunted Eldes. A scream that felt like a tremor shaking the interior of his mind.

* * *

The startling sound of his own cries forced Eldes to bolt upright and open his soaked eyes. Every breath he took was a heavy gasp. His heart pounded in his chest and boomed in his ears. Only once he realized that he was not in a battlefield awaiting to be swallowed by the merciless fire, but rather in a cold, stony cell behind iron bars, did he begin to calm down.

With a hissing groan, Eldes laid his head back down on the old, worn out cot that he was forced to sleep on night after night. Though his eyelids wanted desperately to close in front of his eyes, Eldes strained to keep them open. Every night was the same barrage of nightmares from his worst fears by twisting events from his past. Prison seemed like heaven compared to the plague that expected him every time Eldes would drift off to sleep.

Prison didn’t frighten Eldes in the first place. Almost no one dared to approach him. The ones who did harass him screamed their insults from afar, like he was a fatal disease. Eldes knew exactly why he was so hated, even if being called a “disgrace to humanity” and a “Pokemon torturer” every day wasn’t enough of a clue. Eldes found it rather ironic that everybody who he’s come in contact with lately fears a person whose life is occupied by fear.

It was no surprise to Eldes that not only the entire prison he served his sentence at, but everybody across the globe, hated Cipher and anybody associated with it. Being the highest ranked Admin at one time didn’t help Eldes in the least bit. Only one other person was hated more than he was, and that person was the only one in the whole world that shared a real bond with him. Even so, that bond was still weak, only starting to repair itself from repeated blows over the years.

But it was still a bond.

Over time, Eldes had began to notice that the Grand Master part of Greevil’s personality was starting to disappear, for the first time in a long time, Eldes could have an honest discussion with him. Besides, Greevil was all Eldes had and the only person Eldes could turn to if there was a problem.

Even though Eldes could barely feel the bond between him and Greevil, he shuddered to even think what life would be like if his father never changed his ways. During time that Eldes worked for Cipher, he wasn't even sure if Greevil was his father anymore.

* * *

Feelings such as hatred was not normally part of Eldes' nature. Even though he tried to keep himself away from such emotions, he hated one thing more than anything: lies. Yet, he was forced to do what he despised everyday. Truth and honesty was rare in the words he spoke to the ones he loved. But Eldes was aware in his mind that the truth would hurt them much more than the lies would.

Unusually calm waves splashed against the sides of the metal boat as it approached the volcanic island, carrying Eldes with it. It was unlike Citadark Isle not to be surrounded by vicious waves that would tear a boat apart in a matter of seconds. However, these waves were not created by violent storms or slashing blasts of wind, but by a machine hidden deep in the island that was designed to produce strong, artificial waves. The machine could shut off easily, giving a powerful figure of Cipher -like Eldes- a chance to reach the island upon notification, without being killed by the deadly waters.

Within a few minutes, Eldes laid down the boat's anchor in a small bay protected by the island's rocky shores. He looked to his right, surprised that he didn't see a luxurious white yacht docked next to him, as he expected. Eldes quickly grew to ignore it and proceeded across the island, making his way across several bridges stretched across burning rivers of lava. He came to an electronic elevator built into a glass tube, scaling a sheer cliff that loomed above Eldes. The platform rose up the moment both of Eldes' feet made contact with the platform. The elevator brought him to the crater of the volcano where the grand, silver dome hovered above the lava, supported by large metal beams that was attached to the crater's edges. He made his way across the bridge leading into the dome, moving quickly to avoid being affected by the heat rising from the molten rock below.

Once Eldes entered the dome through the automatic doors, he was relieved by the breezy air produced by the air conditioning in the dome as it cooled down his body after it was exposed to the sweltering heat. Once he grew adjusted to what felt like icy winter air compared to the hellish flames that burned below his feet, he strode through another set of doors that led into the main control room.

In front of Eldes, Ardos stood before three peons, each sporting the same suits of armor. Each of their faces was concealed by white metal helmets and black visors that covered their eyes. Around their necks were scarlet colored bandannas that waved behind them as the air conditioning blew at the cloth. Their arms, shoulders, chests and legs were shielded by the same white metal as the helmet. The rest of their bodies was dressed with a black fabric that Eldes thought looked rather tight and uncomfortable. They each stood next to each other in a horizontal line, standing in a position with their backs straight and without the slightest hunch in their stance. Eldes could make out the faint outlines of their eyes from behind their visors and saw that their eyes were focused solely on Ardos without ever wandering off.

"...once you are inside the lab, gather as much of the Shadow Pokemon data as you can and get out immediately. Cipher doesn't need to attract anymore attention than it already has. We've learned from what happened five months ago that making ourselves known to the public only results in utter failure. Neither me or the Grand Master will be very pleased if anyone finds out that we are still operating." Eldes caught some of the orders that Ardos was making to the three peons. His eyes scanned each of them as they stood motionless in silence. "Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes sir!" the peons responded simultaneously in a soldier-like fashion.

"Good. You're dismissed." Ardos informed them sternly.

The peons marched out of the dome past Eldes in a single-file line. Once they had left, Eldes couldn't help but comment on Ardos' orders, "Shouldn't we wait awhile before attempting to return to our old bases? Since Evice was defeated, the Orre officials have been on high-alert across the region. Because their police force is currently scanning the region for anybody relating to Cipher, they might spot us recovering Ein's information and our cover would be blown."

"And if these 'officials' find the lab, then they'll delete the data and leave us with nothing to rebuild Cipher from." Ardos argued smugly. Eldes wondered why he even bothered getting into a debate with him. Ardos always seemed to have an answer to prove Eldes wrong, and then enjoy his effortless victory.

"I see that the Grand Master hasn't returned." Eldes changed the subject to avoid arguing with Ardos even more.

"He informed me a while ago that he'd be running late," Ardos told him bitterly, still upset that it was one of the few times that Greevil left Citadark Isle without Ardos or Eldes, "Apparently, his meeting with Team Snagem was longer than he anticipated."

"Why did he want to speak with Gonzap anyways?" wondered Eldes.

"To cut all ties with Team Snagem, I assume," Ardos answered. It made sense to Eldes, since Greevil had often expressed his displeasure with the loss of Team Snagem's Snag Machine. "But we don't need them anyway."

Ardos began to move forward to the elevator leading to the arena as his lips curled into a smirk. He turned to Eldes and widened his grin even more. "Come here. There's something you need to see."

Even though Eldes wasn't sure if whatever Ardos had to show him was something he wanted to see, Eldes followed Ardos without a word. While the elevator lifted the two brothers up, Eldes considered each possibility for what Ardos wanted to show him. When he arrived at the arena, however, he threw away all his previous guesses, as Eldes thought he just saw the impossible.

Electricity flowed along curved iron beams to form a cage almost tall enough to reach the top of the dome. The iron was newly forged and made from the sturdiest material. But the cage itself wasn't what created the awe that forced Eldes' jaw to drop; it was what was inside the cage that brought him into amazement.

The Pokemon's coal black eyes leered at Ardos and Eldes as its slender neck arched up like a snake's. Its smooth white skin shone like glass when even the smallest ray of light hit it; while its ocean-blue was dully-colored in comparison. The Pokemon made a half-roar, half-growl inside its tightly muzzled jaws as its long tail swished furiously as much as it could without hitting the electric cage. Indigo, rectangular spikes lined its back and tail. It stood on two clawed feet and had a pair of monstrous, hand-shaped wings folded against its body.

Despite the unpleasant glare that it shot at Eldes and Ardos, Eldes sympathized with the Pokemon. Eldes could almost feel himself in the Pokemon's position, enclosed in a cramped up cage that would send volts of electricity through his veins if his body touched the edges even just a little; and a steel muzzle locked against his face, unable to even move his mouth.

"How... How did... Where did you..." Eldes at loss of words while gazing upon the magnificent creature above him.

"We located it around the Whirl Islands in the Johto region. Although it took our peons days, we eventually managed to exhaust it enough to bring it back here." Ardos replied without stuttering like Eldes did. While the Pokemon looked down upon him with raging eyes, Ardos simply let out a pitiless chuckle, smiling in the face of a Pokemon that could easily kill him.

"I can't believe I'm seeing Lugia in front of my very eyes," Eldes gasped while his attention was on the breathtaking Pokemon, "What do you plan to do with it?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Ardos tried to hold back a laugh while Eldes rolled his eyes.

I swear he thinks I'm stupid sometimes. One of the things about Ardos that always annoyed Eldes like a Beedrilll hovering in his face was that Ardos took every opportunity to try to look more intelligent than him. Ardos knew as well as Eldes did that Eldes was the farthest thing from stupid; but Ardos simply didn't care. Eldes tolerated it when they were younger, as Ardos didn't try to be a showoff as often. But recently, Eldes often held back the urge to slap his hand across Ardos' face. There was no doubt that Ardos vied for Greevil's attention to make himself look better than Eldes; but Ardos had to be a know-it-all even when Greevil wasn't around, which vexed Eldes to no end.

When Eldes remained silent, Ardos continued, "Once we can recover the Shadow Pokemon information from the lab and copy it like Ein was supposed to do, we plan to create a Shadow Pokemon out of this Lugia."

"But how do you expect to turn Lugia into a Shadow Pokemon? Creating Shadow Tyranitar was hard enough as it was. Entei, Suicune and Raikou was just as difficult. Turning Lugia into a Shadow Pokemon would take years." Eldes regrettably argued with Ardos, expecting another show of egotism from him.

"True, the process will be long and hard. But it will be worth it. And this time, our strongest weapon won't be in the hands of a fool that fell to children. The Grand Master himself plans to use this Lugia as the figurehead of his future Shadow Pokemon army.” Ardos explained, and to Eldes’ surprise, lacked any haughtiness in his tone of voice.

“But what if the children that defeated Evice learns about our plans? They’d just snag Lugia and purify it.” Eldes tried to point out every flaw in the plan.

“We’ll take care of that when the time comes. As long as nobody knows of our existence, then we will not have to worry about those children. The Grand Master figures that by the time Project XD001 -which is what he calls Lugia’s transformation into a Shadow Pokemon, by the way- is completed, there will be nothing anybody can do to stop us. To ensure our success, we will take every measure to guarantee that Lugia will be unpurifiable.” Ardos shot down Eldes’s hopes of pointing out critical weaknesses in the project.

Before Eldes could have the chance to object to the project even further, the elevator doors behind them opened and dropped off a Cipher peon. “Sirs! The Grand Master has just returned to Citadark Isle. He wishes to see both of you in the control room,” the peon paused for a moment, opening his mouth several times with no words coming out, “...immediately.”

Eldes cringed at the emphasis on “immediately” that the peon put in the word. If a peon came to him and Ardos and carried on the message that Greevil wanted to see them; it was never a good sign if the words “immediately” or “now” was used. Eldes figured that the meeting with Team Snagem got on Greevil’s nerves; but he feared that there was something more.

Eldes and Ardos followed the peon down the elevator and walked into the control room where Greevil awaited them. As Eldes had suspected, Greevil had a sense of irritation around him. He sat in a throne-like chair that hovered above the floor, tapping his fingers on the armrest. He was silent for a while without saying a word. Yet, his yellow eyes spoke words of anger as he stared down Eldes like a Seviper would to a Zangoose.

"Eldes." he spoke up calmly, although mixed with anger, "Step forward."

Eldes glanced back at Ardos once before moving closer to his father. He had no idea what to expect from Greevil, as he rarely singled him out for discussion.

"Closer." Greevil instructed once Eldes stopped in his tracks.

He continued to move closer and once he stopped, he was only inches away from Greevil. If he was any closer, he would've been in Greevil's face, something that Eldes tried to avoid. Eldes and Greevil remained quiet, their eyes on each other. Eldes noticed that Greevil was grasping his wooden cane firmly as if it was a sword and he was warrior about to go into battle. Before Eldes could even take action, Greevil stood up on his chair and swung his cane at Eldes' chest.

Eldes doubled over in pain, holding his hands over the area where the cane hit. While he was still gathering his thoughts, he felt another blow from Greevil's cane, this time, on his side. The blow sent Eldes falling to his knees, gasping for breath. Greevil's cane might have been made of wood, but it was just as hard as a rock. The throbbing pain prevented Eldes from standing. He remained on his knees, applying pressure with his hands on the area of impact.

Weakly turning his head, Eldes saw Ardos looking down on him with shock and surprise, yet, no sympathy. He just stood there with his mouth half-open while constantly looking back and forth between Eldes and Greevil.

"You have a lot of nerve pulling a stunt like this behind my back! You were sorely mistaken if you thought I was too stupid to let this go unnoticed!" Greevil hissed, clenching his fists even tighter around his cane.

"I... I don't know what you're talking about." Eldes exhaled deeply, barely able to speak.

"Don't lie to my face!" Greevil yelled, swinging his cane at Eldes again, "You know exactly what I'm talking about!"

Eldes was desperate to keep the urge to yell out and cry inside of him. When Greevil considered both a sign of weakness, Eldes couldn't afford to show them.

As Eldes stayed silent with nothing to say, Greevil asked, "Do the words, 'Purification Chamber' mean anything to you?"

Eldes almost felt like he'd have a heart attack.

How did he find out?! It was as if his entire world collapsed before his very eyes. He didn't need to be able to see the future to know it was all over. What he didn't know however, was whether it was over for the Purification Chamber and everyone who worked on it, or if it was over for his life in general.

"Obviously, it does." Greevil continued, finally sitting down, "I shouldn’t have to tell you that I'm not going to take this lightly. However, I'll offer you a choice. Either you can choose to have everyone who knows about the Purification Chamber eliminated; or detach yourself from the Orre region and everyone that knew you."

Eldes became dumbfounded by the choices Greevil had just given him. Making such a choice to Eldes was like having to choose whether he'd rather die by having a dozen spears gradually lodged in his chest one by one; or having burning acid dissolve every inch of his body from the inside.

"Do... you mean... fake my death?" Eldes said, even though he already knew what Greevil meant.

"Yes! What the hell did you think I meant!?" Greevil sighed with a roll of his eyes. When Eldes still remained silent, Greevil's irritation began to return. "Make your choice! I have better things to do than wait for your decision! I could just kill off your family now if you plan on remaining indecisive!"

"No! Please! Don't hurt them Fa-" Eldes lifted his head and shouted, before abruptly cutting himself off. "...Sir."

"Then I assume you'd rather have the second option." Greevil ignored Eldes' slip in his words.

"Yes sir." Eldes answered halfheartedly.

Greevil didn't show much of a response. All he did was slightly nod his head before saying "Get out of my sight."

Eldes would have gladly stood up and get away from Greevil as fast as he could, but his legs struggled to lift up his bruised body. He waited for a moment, hoping that Ardos would run over to him to help him on his feet. But Ardos never even moved an inch. Eldes was forced to lift himself up without anyone's help. Still hunched over, Eldes dragged himself out of the control room with no desire to look back.

Continued in next post 'cause it's too long. XD

1st December 2006, 3:26 AM
* * *

Eldes carefully laid himself on the cotton sheets of the bed and pressed one of his feathery pillows on his stomach, expecting the pressure to relieve the pain.

But then again, no amount of pressure would quell the pain that his thoughts produced. Eldes should have known that Greevil would discover the Purification Chamber project sooner or later. However, Eldes never suspected that he would find out after only five months into the project. He had barely even started on it and it had already been destroyed. At that pointed in time, the thought of the Purification Chamber being completed seemed like a distant dream to Eldes.

The Purification Chamber wasn't Eldes main concern, however. What would become of the ones he would leave behind? Would they move on, or would their lives be completely shattered.? Eldes felt like he mind as well have taken a mallet and crush their hearts personally.

Eldes stared at the tiled ceiling, overcome by loneliness. With Michael, Jovi and Lily soon to be absent from his life, and with Ardos' and Greevil's obvious distrust in him, Eldes was left with nearly no one to turn to.

The bedroom door opened while Eldes still had his eyes on the ceiling. Bitterness kept Eldes from moving his head. The last thing he wanted was to make eye contact with someone that refused to help him when in need.

"Why didn't you say anything, Ardos? Why did you just let him do that to me?" Eldes spoke his thoughts out loud.

"You know damn well that my word means nothing against the Grand Master's." Ardos replied coldly.

"Even so!" shouted Eldes, "You shouldn't have just stood there! I needed your help and you never gave it to me! I would've been there for you if you were the one in my position!"

"Oh, really?" Ardos gave a humorless laugh.

Eldes turned his head with the intention to make Ardos realize that he was being truthful, and to let off his anger at the same time. However, the notion to do so vanished when Eldes saw the clearly visible, dark red circle that enveloped around Ardos left eye. The bruise that forced Ardos' eye to squint was similar to the streaks of red that ran across Eldes' chest.

Without another word, Ardos spun around and left the room, leaving another weight of anger for Eldes to carry. It was then Eldes started to predict a bleak future for him and Ardos. Never before had Ardos shown strong and dark feelings directly towards Eldes. Once inseparable, Eldes could sense their bond slowly coming apart. Anything that Eldes knew, Ardos knew as well and vice versa. It had been that way since as far back as Eldes could recall. Little did Eldes suspect that the one thing that Ardos didn't know about was the thing that would cause them to drift farther apart.

I'm a traitor... to everyone.

With thoughts of betrayal still fresh in his head, Eldes closed his eyes and sought refuge in his dreams. Yet, not even in his dreams would he be free from the grief life just handed him.

* * *

There was no turning back now. The deed had already been done and there was nothing that Eldes could do to change it. Even if he could escape from the island that felt like a living hell and return to his family, the truth would have to be revealed to them, and Eldes could barely live with the truth himself.

He wanted to let the pain go, but it wasn't possible when Greevil had called him up to the control room, and Greevil just loved to rub salt into the wound.

The first thing Eldes saw when he walked into the control room was a row of light-weight, purple creatures floating above the floor. These Pokemon smiled wickedly with their ghostly eyes watching Eldes' every move. Horn-like protrusions scaled their purple backs. Their clawed hands were detached from their bodies, floating in place with the use or need for arms. The Pokemon's appearence unnerved Eldes, as he was growing more uncomfortable with each second the Pokemon watched him.

However, Eldes found the spiteful stare Greevil was giving him even more unnerving. His father wasn't the one to forget things easily, especially not after only three days.

"I assume you're wondering why I've called you here." Greevil asked with the same tone he had three days earlier.

Greevil strode past the row of the ghost-type Pokemon; stopping in front of one that stood out in particular. The Pokemon was of the same species as the others. However, it was colored with a slightly darker purple color and had one abnormally large hand bigger than the other.

"And you're probably also wondering why I have these Haunter assembled next to me." Greevil added.

The Haunter may have had a chilling sensation to them, but there were ghost Pokemon, after all. However, they didn't give Eldes such an icy feeling as Shadow Pokemon did. Greevil was normally only interested in using Pokemon that obeyed him without question. Why Greevil assembled Pokemon that could use free will was beyond Eldes.

"I should inform you that these are not ordinary Haunter. You see, these Haunter have been trained over many years to be able to reach into someone's mind. Once inside, they can erase certain things from that person's memory," Greevil explained, "I'm sure you can figure out what I intend to do."

Once Greevil stopped talking, it took only seconds for Eldes to realize Greevil was beating a dead Rapidash. To force Eldes to cut all ties with his loved ones broke his spirit enough. But now to erase their memory of him rendered Eldes broken beyond repair.

In his state of shock, Eldes barely noticed that the darker-colored Haunter had its stare directed at Eldes. However, unlike the other Haunter around it, this one had the first sympathetic look Eldes had seen in days. The Haunter still wasn't free of the dark sensation that came naturally with it, but the difference in its eyes that separated it from the other Haunter soon became clear to Eldes.

"However, these Haunter cannot completely wipe a person's memory. They have the ability to delete three things: what me, you and Ardos look like, the sound of our voices, and our names. They are also to find any photographs, documents or tapes including us and destroy them," Greevil continued while part of Eldes was still focused on the Haunter, "These Haunter can wipe the things I mentioned from the memories of three people each night. With twenty Haunter here, it will only take a few weeks for them to affect the entire Orre region."

The Orre region was one of the least populated regions in the world, mainly because of the dry, arid desert. Most of the people lived in the pine forest that was dwarfed in comparison to the desert that stretched across the land. With sixty wiped memories each night, it wouldn't take long for the little fame Eldes had to be gone.

When there was nothing else to be said, Greevil dismissed Eldes, who sulked out of the room. Disheartened, he left behind any hope of reuniting with his family ever again.

* * *

That night became the start of many sleepless nights. Eldes' eyes were closed, yet, sleep failed to come to him.

When so many thoughts screamed in his head, Eldes was not surprised he was developing insomnia. He tried to ward off bad thoughts with good ones, but he was fighting a hopeless battle.

All of a sudden, the air filled with a sinister feeling. The silence in the room became worrying with the sensation of somebody watching Eldes. He sat up in his bed, unable to take the paranoia anymore. He reached for the small desk lamp sitting next to the bed. The light bulb only produced a dim light that barely reached the end of the bed, but it was enough to reveal the mass of darkness hovering over him.

"Hauuuuunnnter!" the Pokemon breathed in a raspy voice.

Fear froze the blood in Eldes's veins, rendering him motionless. When he tried to scream, all that came out was heavy gasps. Every thought disappeared from his mind, except for the frightening images of what the Haunter might do to him.

Moments passed without the Haunter making a move. Eldes became less tense after he saw the Haunter meant him no harm. But if it's not here to attack me, what is it here for?

The Haunter held up its index finger while its face showed concentration. It then opened up its black hole of a mouth and shoved its larger hand inside. As the hand remained inside its body, Eldes debated with himself whether he should have been scared or disgusted.

The Haunter's hand came out of its mouth with a crumpled up piece of paper. Eldes' face twisted as he watched the Haunter's saliva slowly drip off the wet paper. He leaned back gagged when the Haunter reached its hand and the paper closer to Eldes.

"Hauuun. Haunnnter!" it urged Eldes, reaching out even further.

Reluctantly, Eldes extended his hand toward the ball. He made the mistake of grabbing it with his entire hand instead of with his fingertips. As a result, his palm became soaked by a thick, sticky liquid that caused his hand to shake. Eldes quickly withdrew his hand and carefully took the paper with the fingers of his dry hand.

He looked back up at the Haunter, who was patiently staring at the paper. Sighing, he opened up the ball, careful not to rip it. When it was completely unraveled, Eldes thought he was dreaming.

Michael's wide and joyful smile was the first thing that stood out to Eldes in the photograph. The picture also showed an equally cheerful smile on Eldes. Michael was sitting on Eldes' shoulders, laughing with all the happiness a child could show. In the background was a wide, open arena surrounded by sandstone walls.

Eldes could remember the day the photograph was taken like it happened just days early. Michael was six years old at the time, with Jovi's due date in a few months. Eldes had decided to take Michael to the recently opened Orre Colosseum. It was just the two of them that day. Eldes had told Lily that he promised that they could go out and spend the day together. Lily understood completely, saying that days like that day in which they could spend a lot of quality time together would be good for Michael.

Not only did Michael enjoy the day, but it had also sparked his interest in Pokemon battles. Whether it was reenacting Pokemon battles with plastic figurines or discussing possible winners of battle tournaments, Michael and Eldes found an interest that the both of them could always talk about.

After a few minutes of relishing those happy thoughts while staring at the picture, Eldes looked back up to the Haunter with a sincere smile on his face. "Thank you."

"Hauuun! Hauuun! Hauuuuuunter!" the Haunter replied, nodding its head enthusiastically.

Eldes became so focused on the picture in front of him, he hardly noticed the Haunter leave by fazing through the walls. Only when the dim light finally blacked out did Eldes put away the photograph by hiding it under his mattress. At the very least, he now had some way to see Michael, even if he wasn't in person. Eldes still had doubts that he'd reunite himself with Michael, but the picture gave him some much needed faith.

It was a start.

And as you can see, I failed miserably at trying to not go overboard with length. XD

Also, I know somebody is going to ask me this, so I'll answer it now. No, the Haunter can't make people forget that Cipher existed. They can make people forget Cipher's name and what the peons and admins look like, but the people would still know that there's an organization trying to take over the world with deranged Pokemon. Heh, I don't know if the reason why Michael has no idea who Eldes is will work for you guys, though. :p

1st December 2006, 5:13 AM
That AMAZ-Z-Z-ZING! That was just ZOMgath! I'm not a rabid fangirl like you on the Ardos or Eldes (#1 I ain't a girl) but, seriously, I knew Eldes was always a kind guy inside but you just gave me this new perspective on him. Battling your own kid, having to fake your death, having your father and son die, having your brother betray you. Oh.My.GAWD!

Ftw, I love how you said, "Eldes's life was a nightmare." cause' it truly is. . .

Hopefully, your gonna write more and won't keep such a god forsaken long time to update! xP

I wuv it, Bluey. . .


Saffire Persian
1st December 2006, 10:19 AM
Don't worry about an uber-long prologue. I've done it myself before. : P. And whoever had the guts to rate this story one or two stars (whatever) deserves to be mauled by a Persian.

I've been meaning to read your work after my debut in Bulbagarden (which I have sense abandoned pretty much). Thanks for reviewing my work there, BTW. It was much appreciated in that pretty-much-post-mortem fanfic forum. *cough*.

So lets get on with this review, shall I? Excuse any incoherentness. It's 1 AM thank you very much.

Everything had been so chaotic at the Pokemon HQ Lab for the past five months. The entire staff was running around the place non-stop, talking about a hero that defeated some organization somewhere in the desert, and about a new project that they were working on. They've been focused on those two things and nothing else. Even Michael's own parents were caught up in the mess.

Michael? This an XD 'fic then? o.0 Guess so. I'm not entirely 'up' with the canon of the game. Despite the fact that I own it and have played it.. not beaten, but played. I got to the point where I caught the Meowth, purified it, and evolved it. (XD). So can't help you on characterizations much here (though the characterizations were rather shallow).

"Mind if I sit down?" he asked Michael, his voice calm and cool just like the breeze blowing past them.

Why a semicolon? I see no need of one. A comma is what you're looking for.

"I've noticed you haven't been acting very happy lately. You've been looking rather sad, as a matter of fact. Is there something wrong?"

Again, no semicolon. Comma. A semicolon is used to join otherwise independent clauses -- as in, said connected sentence could stand on its own if need be. "As a matter of fact"-- just that little bit -- could not stand on its own four feet if you gave it wheels. It leaves you hanging as a solitary sentence, leaving a very distinct 'as a matter of fact... what?" inscribed in your internal thought processes.

"So that's what this all about," the director whispered to himself.

No period. When you are having tags afterward, you always use a comma, if you were just going to use a period of it was just a slab of dialogue with no attribution tags (he said, she said, he whispered, she whispered). You seem to be doing this throughout, but I'm not going to point them all out; it'd just be beating a dead horse after all.

“What are you working on, anyway?” Michael wondered, changing the subject.

I think 'asked' would be a better word to use here. Wondered seems more like a thought - or something that was said that was only meant to be heard by Michael himself.

“It’s hard to explain. You’ll understand it better when you’re older.” the director told him, knowing that the concept was too hard and complicated for a nine-year old to comprehend.

Ah, the older excuse. Gotta love it. Oh, and methinks nine-year-old should be hyphenated all the way. As..erm.. shown. o.o'

The director sensed his son's negative sentiments; he didn't even have to look in Michael's direction to know how Michael was feeling.

Now here's where a semicolon could come in to play - just between the two sentences here. The second could stand as a separate sentence, but it just sounds better connected.

"A... An Eevee!" Michael exclaimed, picking up the small and young Eevee.

Yay! An Eevee. >.> Wonder what it'll evolve into. I chose Umbreon.

It swatted its paws frantically after the leaves twirling in the air around it, trying to catch one of them.


“Come on, Michael. It’s late. We should be getting inside now.” the director told Michael, who was still in a fit of laughter watching the Eevee’s antics.

As I pounded into Iceking, comma before a direct address. Thankyouverymuch. Methinks it's a typo... since I don't think you do that all the time.. but meh. It needs a comma. *eyes twitch*.

"Jovi wants to play with Michael's Pokemon too!" the little blue haired girl squealed, tugging at Michael's hands. Her high, childlike voice rang in Michael's ears, annoying him in nearly every way possible. Michael may have been free of boredom, but he certainly wasn't free from his little sister aggravating him every three minutes of his life.

Did Jovi insist on using third person with herself in the game to? Can't remember.. But Good Mew. XD Jovi needs to learn that Jovi is I. XDXDXD

Her cheerful demeanor quickly transformed into a saddened state. She attempted to win Michael over with her big green eyes that began to look glossy from the tears forming. Jovi lowered her head, but continued to stare at Michael depressingly.

Depressingly is very odd sounding to me. :/

"But why? Why would somebody plant explosives in his boat? He would never hurt anyone! I don't even think he's made an enemy in his entire life!"

aww. Poor guy.

"We still haven't managed to recover his body yet. And as massive and fiery as the explosion was, there was no way he could've survived it. If he did manage to live through the explosion, then he would've drowned in the ocean, since it was about five miles away from shore. We'll notify you once we do manage to find his body."

What a little ray of sunflower-y sunshine. XD.. Kinda made me laugh on how he said that basically "he's dead no matter what, so don't hold on to hope." Methinks he would've tried to leave an opening that he might be alive... being a policeman. XD Must be some kind of cynical dude.

Once Michael couldn't hold it in any longer, a river of water rushed down from his eyes as he threw himself in Lily's arms. Lily fell down to her knees and held her child tightly in her arms. Her shoulder quickly become soaked as Michael cried incessantly on it. His yelling and screaming for his father were muffled by his endless sobs.

Aww. Poor kid. Nice portrayal of emotions there.

But that didn’t matter now to Michael. Michael was sure that with the right training, Eevee would become strong and adept at battling. He was confident that he would somehow obtain new Pokemon and build a strong, unstoppable team. Then, and only then, Michael would track down these Cipher people and get revenge, the only thing that Michael now longed for.

And so the journey begins, eh?

For all he was concerned, he no longer existed.

How about, "As far as he was concerned', or 'as far as his family was concerned'. It flows better, as the above sentence of yours is rather awkward. I prefer the latter, as it lends more impact.

Surprisingly, a small, tiny bit of mercy appeared in the Grand Master’s soul that day. He gave Eldes a choice of which punishment he would rather have. Either the entire staff of the Pokemon HQ Lab would be killed and all the data collected for the Purification Chamber would be deleted, or that Eldes would have to forever leave his family and fake his own death.

First bold: I like how you wove that sentence together. Sounds nice. Second bold, I suppose a semicolon could work here, but a comma is more befitting.

Eldes’ heart plunged into a sea of shadows and nightmares.

Again, nice wording.

all Eldes could do was stand back and hope. Hope for a miracle.

I'd say that's all he could do, too. XD.. Though that sounds awfully pessimistic of me.

Anyways, nice job with the long-ish prologue here. You do a great job with narrative and portraying actions in a way people can actually picture it easily and with little effort. Your vocabulary is mastered well, as really, aside through a few semicolon/comma things, it was very good. No spelling errors as far as I could see; it's nice to see that you've taken the time to thoroughly proofread this.

I also like the twist about Eldes faking his own death (dun think that was in the game.. or was it? Ah well.). And it lends more belivability for him dissapearing, and serves as a fuel for Michael's anger and thirst for revenge, which no doubt leads him to set out on his journey with the yet nick-nameless Eevee that is as darling as heck. Though, is Eevee a he or she? I would like to know - as it seems a bit impersonal for my tastes. :/

Personality-wise, you do a pretty good job as giving each character a rather distinctive personality - and it's nice to see they aren't cardboard cutouts. And as said before, you manage to flush out each character's motivations so their actions are believable. It'll be interesting to see where you go with this.

However, I felt the dialogue sounded a bit... stiff at times. I got what you were trying to say, but it seemed to not be backed up by pure emotion some of the time. It sounded mechanical sometimes, and it was hard to detect any emotion vibrating from it. This could be on account on a few things. Pacing through dialogue could be one reason - breaking at certain times lends to the effect, and makes things less stiff, and moves the pace along accordingly. For example - quoted from your story:

"Jovi!" Michael groaned, attempting to pull his arm from his sister's firm grip. "Not now!"

I might even argue to do that "Jooooviiii" thing to make it sound like what I imagined it sound like. You also seem to tend to use more passive sounding sentences, which often slow the narrative down at times when it doesn't need slowing. Passive sentences are less action-y and more calm. It's like a still pond compared to a sea. The sea moves with waves lapping at its corner periodically, a pond contents itself by staying rather still.

You want the majority of your sentences to sound active, if possible.

For example: "Dinner was being cooked by Lilly" is passive. "Lilly was cooking the dinner" is active.

I'm not saying you do this all the time, and on the whole of things, you do what you need to do quite well. Just make things more 'active' - run, don't walk.

Also, you tend to use the same length of sentences over and over and over and over and over and it gets as blah as using that over and over thing at times. You want to vary sentence lengths. Find a good balance. Remember: long paragraphs slloooow things down, short ones (and dialogue) tend to speed things up. Long paragraphs are all fine and good, but try to slim them down when need be. You don't always need to describe every action or thought at length (though I'm sure there are many times tha tyou will). And don't be too wordy if you can help it. When you can say things in two instead of five, do it into. "More is less, less is more."

Also, you tend to always use 'tags' at the end of dialogue. You don't always need that, and it lends to a bit of variety in your narrative. ^_^ Just a tidbit I picked up while reading.

It's also fun to portray physical actions as they happen in certain situations to make tensions rise, or whatever you might want to do. Example:

"But why?!" Krane stuttered, eyes widening with shock. "Why would somebody plant explosives in his boat? I mean"--her hands clenched together tightly --"he would never hurt anyone! He doesn't have any enemies or anything like that. So I don't think anyone would want to hurt him..."

And yeah. XDXD... Just things that I noticed during the prologue of your tale. You do a nice job throughout, and it was an enjoying read. Nice job.

Oh, and as a word of advice, I wouldn't post a new chapter more than once a week. Posting more often than that is rather intimidating. (A week in a half is pretty nice, too.)

7th December 2006, 2:03 AM
Divinity: WHO ARE YOU CALLING RABID?! *foams at mouth*

^Joking. Just joking. ^_^

Heheh. If was really as much as an Eldes/Ardos fangirl as I often imply, I probably would have used up three or four paragraphs describing how hot Eldes and Ardos are. X3 *shot*

Battling your own kid, having to fake your death, having your father and son die, having your brother betray you.

Eh, I thought I made it clear in the chapter, but I guess not. :p Michael and Greevil are both alive. That part about them dying was part of Eldes' nightmare. A rather frequently occuring nightmare, as a matter of fact.

Hopefully, your gonna write more and won't keep such a god forsaken long time to update! xP

'Course I'm gonna write more. :D And if I ever take this long to update again, I give everyone that reads this fic permission to smack me silly with whatever random Pokemon they see necessary. That’ll make me learn. XD

Thanks. :D

Saffire Persian:

And whoever had the guts to rate this story one or two stars (whatever) deserves to be mauled by a Persian.

Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of a giant, man-eating Trapinch. But Persians work good too. :D

Hahaha. It’s alright, though. I heard that somebody has been going around rating just about all fics one star lately, regardless if they deserve it or not.

Ah, the older excuse. Gotta love it.

Hahaha. Still not as bad as the “Just because” or “I’m an adult” excuses, though. :p

Did Jovi insist on using third person with herself in the game to? Can't remember.. But Good Mew. XD Jovi needs to learn that Jovi is I. XDXDXD

Yep. Although there was one time in the game she slipped and used “I”. So I think she just does that to annoy Michael. XD

I also like the twist about Eldes faking his own death (dun think that was in the game.. or was it? Ah well.).

No, it’s just my crazy and probably untrue theory. XD (I will be VERY surprised if I turn out to be right) I don’t know. I just saw a bit of a resemblence between Michael and Eldes. And besides, Eldes being Michael’s father WOULD explain an awful lot.

the yet nick-nameless Eevee that is as darling as heck. Though, is Eevee a he or she? I would like to know

0_0; Eeek! I forgot a nickname and a gender! TO THE EDIT BUTTON! *flies away with cheesy fanfare*

Oh, and as a word of advice, I wouldn't post a new chapter more than once a week. Posting more often than that is rather intimidating. (A week in a half is pretty nice, too.)

I’ll be lucky if I can get a chapter in once every month. XD From what I have planned for the second chapter, I’m guessing that it’ll be much shorter than the ridiculously long first chapter, so it shouldn’t take me long to get the fic updated. (Of course, now I jinxed it.)

Thank you so much for you comments/advice. I appreciate it. ^_^ And I’ll keep those commas and semicolons in mind. ;)

7th December 2006, 2:42 AM
Eh, I thought I made it clear in the chapter, but I guess not. Michael and Greevil are both alive. That part about them dying was part of Eldes' nightmare. A rather frequently occuring nightmare, as a matter of fact.

I am so god damn stupid! I was skimming it really quickly. . .I guess I'l l have to read the damn long chapter again. -___-


7th December 2006, 6:07 AM
Uber long chapter uber long chapter is all that is one my mind the ever drawing of continuing to read even when tired...i love that lol. Great great fic you got there. lol though I find it hard to believe that it took like a long long time for you to get chapter 1 up but you did so thats cool. Everything has a good flow to it there isn't any bumps in there that makes it quite noticable or forces you to reread something due to a confusion. Uh not much to say really sapphire persian really pointed out all of the stuff that felt like it should be fixed. Other than that I do look forward to the next time you post your next which should be soon I hope.


8th December 2006, 1:58 PM
I am so god damn stupid! I was skimming it really quickly. . .I guess I'l l have to read the damn long chapter again. -___-

Nah, don't feel stupid. I'd probably do the same exact thing, seeing as how impatient I am. :D And how long my damn chapter is... 0_0

I find it hard to believe that it took like a long long time for you to get chapter 1 up but you did so thats cool.

*sings very badly* 'Tis the season to be lazy... *inhales* FA LALALALA LALALALA! *windows shatter*

... I'm sorry you had to hear that...

Eh, what I was trying to say was that the delay was mainly because I'm such a lazy procrastinator. :p Of course, High School and Writer's Block didn't help much either.

Thanks for your comments. :D

Oh yeah, I finally decided on a gender and nickname on that Eevee/Vaporeon. It's a girl and I decided on the name Autumn. 'Cause y'know, she likes to chase leaves and Michael got her in the fall and... well, you get the idea. :) Yeah, I know. Not my most creative name, but I can't imagine that a nine-year-old would give his Pokemon some really complicated name like I do. XD

4th February 2007, 10:42 PM
Attention Duelists! My hair is posting a new chapter! *yugioh abridged series reference lolz*

Heh, yeah. I was the one that said you guys are free to attack me with random Pokemon if I take this long to update again. *shields self* But before you do, I just want to say that about two weeks ago, my computer went asplode and kept me from working on my fic. Well, it didn't explode, but it did get messed up big time. I'm actually surprised I didn't lose the entire fic. So I probably would have gotton this up sooner if that didn't happen.

Enough of my rambling. I made you guys wait this long in the first place, so, here's the next chapter:

Chapter Two: Power Corruption

Gateon Port had always been a city full of activity, sights and sounds, for as long as Eldes could remember, that is. The gentle waves that rolled into the harbor brought along a salty aroma that filled the air. Along with the sound of the ocean waves, the occasional cry of a Wingull could be heard in the city as well. The most prominent sight in the city was the tall stone lighthouse that watched over the rotating bridges and the warehouses below it. Aside from the rare bar fight breaking out at the Krabby Club when too much Mago Berry juice had been served, Gateon Port had a relatively peaceful atmosphere. It was hard to believe that such a forbidding place such as Citadark Isle was only a few miles away.

Five years ago, Eldes would have stopped by the seaside town at least once every week. But ever since being virtually chained to Citadark Isle, he had only been to Gateon Port three times; and all three visits had been made in the past few weeks.

Had he not been wearing a pair of dark shades, Eldes would’ve had to squint his eyes when he stepped off the yacht that pulled into the harbor. Because Citadark Isle was constantly surrounded by storms, the sun rarely reached the island through the clouds. Eldes’ skin became a pale and ghostly white from the lack of sunlight. Ardos and Greevil on the other hand, both looked like they were one of the living, as they could leave Citadark Isle whenever they pleased. Eldes felt like a zombie in a city full of sun and liveliness.

...A rather famous zombie in Gateon Port, that was.

It wasn’t just Eldes that caught Gateon Port’s attention. The threesome of Eldes, Ardos and Greevil had not only become frequent visitors, but the main topic of gossip throughout the town. No one knew exactly who they were or where they came from. They only knew that a short old man named “Mr. Verich” with two bodyguards suddenly came into town one day and started paying the tab for everyone at the Krabby Club with an amount of money that seemed like pocket change out of Greevil’s wallet.

Once Greevil had stepped off the yacht, Ardos and Eldes followed at his side with Ardos being on Greevil’s right and Eldes on his left. As they strolled down Gateon Ports’ paved streets, the locals began to notice them. Eldes could hear a plethora of whispers coming from everywhere around them.

“Isn’t that the guy that pays for everyone at the Krabby Club?”

“I wonder where they came from? I don’t think they’re from around here.”

“I hear he’s fabulously rich!”

“His bodyguards look like they’re awfully strong. I wouldn’t want to mess with them.”

“The red bodyguard looks awfully pale...”

The closer Eldes came to the Krabby Club, the more the whispers increased. Eventually, Eldes began to hear giggles coming from young girls in either their late teens or early twenties staring at him and Ardos. Just as Eldes tried to shut out the annoying giggles that were ringing in his head, they became even louder when Ardos found the need to smile at the girls.

Suddenly, the town became silent as the locals all turned their heads in the same direction. A loud, booming voice soon became the only sound that could be heard.

"You little brats aren't gonna mess with me and get away with it! My Shadow Pokemon's gonna crush you into pieces!” the thundering voice shouted, followed by the sound of a Poke Ball opening.

The moment the word "Shadow" was uttered, Greevil exhaled deeply and approached the owner of the voice, "That'll be quite enough."

Ardos and Eldes followed Greevil and ended up on the opposite side of the harasser. Taller than even Eldes, he was a large, bulky man with thick muscles and a tall, blond mohawk. His red t-shirt that had a lightening bolt pattern printed on it seemed far too small for him, as it left his bellybutton exposed.

Standing below the man was a Zangoose. The Zangoose was covered in a coat of thick, white fur, with the exception of a stripe of red fur -resembling a scar more than it a marking- stretched across its eye and chest. On its front paws, the Zangoose was armed with a pair of sharp and deadly claws. Its tail was bushed out while its red feline eyes kept its cold glare on its targets.

After observing the man and his Zangoose, Eldes glanced over to the people that upset him. Eldes looked at them once, but had to do a double-take when he realized who they were.

Standing across from the man and his Zangoose, was Michael and Jovi.

For a split second, Eldes' eyes widened and his jaw hung open. He quickly gathered himself and hid everything he felt at that moment before anyone could notice. After five years of living without them and never expecting to see them again; Michael an Jovi were only a few steps of a distance away from Eldes. Eldes desperately kept the urge to run over to the two children, hold them in his arms and tell them how much he missed them.

Aside from being much taller than she was five years ago, Jovi did not change much to Eldes. Her innocent demeanor, rosy cheeks and sky-blue hair remained with Jovi after half a decade. Jovi was wearing a light, white skirt that reached down to her knees, resembling the same kind of skirt she often wore the last time Eldes saw her.

Michael, who Jovi was using as a human shield, had gone through many changes, however. He wore a much more serious expression on his face than Eldes had ever seen him show. His choice of clothing had changed entirely as well. His yellow vest and baggy blue jeans replaced the t-shirts with one-liner jokes printed on them and the colorful shorts he wore in the past. Michael was now wearing a blue sweatband on his head with a small machine fastened to it next to his left ear. In addition, a pair of brand-new goggles hung from his neck.

But what truly stood out most of all was the strange machine on Michael’s left arm. The metal was new and shiny, reflecting light from the sun right at Eldes’ eyes. The machine was attached to his shoulder with a single wire connecting it with the metallic glove on his hand. The odd machine had not only caught Eldes’ attention, but Greevil’s and Ardos’ as well.

Greevil quickly took his attention off of Michael’s machine and turned back to the man in front of him, “I don’t know whether you’re just trying draw attention to yourself or actually willing to attack two innocent children, but either way, there’s no need for it. Return your Pokemon to its Poke Ball and leave quietly. Pokemon shouldn’t be used in such a manner in the first place.”

While the onlookers standing around the area nodded their heads in agreement, Eldes wanted to shake his. Though Greevil’s advice sounded honest to those that didn’t truly know him, it sounded forced and unnatural to Eldes.

“Aw, zip it, old man! Or do you want me to stomp you flat too?” the man growled and ignored Greevil’s advice, stamping his feet on the concrete ground.

The man wasn't about to let go of his anger easily, and Eldes knew it. With the man's sights on Michael and Jovi, Eldes was not going to let the anger be taken out on them. He clutched one of his Poke Balls and began to move forward, but Ardos stepped directly in front of him and said, "I'll handle this, Mr. Verich."

Ardos stood in between Michael and the Zangoose with a rather amused smirk on his face. He casually reached for one of his Poke Balls at his belt, pressed the small white button in the middle and released his Alakazam.

His Alakazam seemed just as threatened by the man and his Zangoose as Ardos was, which wasn’t a whole lot. The Alakazam’s yellow body appeared to be rather fragile, having a thin body and weak limbs that looked like they could easily be torn apart. His brown torso and kneecaps looked like a form of armor at first glance, but they looked just as breakable as the rest of its body. However, he did not seem to be in any state of worry over his brittle form. In a relaxed manner, the Alakazam stared down his adversary without the slightest hint of fear in his eyes. He held two silver spoons, one in each three-fingered hand at his side without a care in the world.

“You think that you can just waltz up here and tell Zook what to do?!” the man snarled at Ardos, who was smiling and chuckling at every taunt thrown at him, “You’re goin’ down! Zangoose! Shadow Rush!”

The Zangoose crouched down on all fours with its rabid eyes fixed on the Alakazam. As the Zangoose sped towards the Alakazam, the feeling it gave off become colder and darker. Once it was only a few feet away from its carefree enemy, the Zangoose leapt up in the air and spread out its claws and aimed them right at the Alakazam.

With lighting-quick reflexes, the Alakazam pointed one of the spoons he held at the Zangoose. The flowing golden moustache he wore on his snout straightened out. His eyes glowed a bright blue and a psychic energy of the same color surrounded his body. The psychic energy enveloped around the Zangoose and froze it in mid-air. The air between the Alakazam and the Zangoose rippled like water before the Zangoose was sent flying backwards into a group of trashcans yards away.

Zook quickly became dumbfounded at his crushing defeat as he stared at his Zangoose that was lying in a pile of trash, moaning painfully. The onlookers gathered around the area -including Michael and Jovi- were just as speechless at Ardos’ and Alakazam’s power, while Eldes simply rolled his eyes behind his sunglasses.

“Is that all? Pity. I was hoping for somewhat of a battle,” Ardos gave taunts of his own as he returned his Alakazam to his Poke Ball, “And you’re not fooling anyone by claiming that your pathetic excuse for a Zangoose is a Shadow Pokemon. Even if it was, I’ve faced Magikarp that put up a more challenging fight.”

Zook clenched his fists, looking like he was going to snap Ardos in half. But instead, he took a deep, aggravated breath and stepped back, "Dammit all... You're too strong... I'll let you be today; but I ain't forgettin' 'bout this!"

With a grunt, Zook brushed past Michael and Jovi without another word. Michael and Jovi turned around and watched him stomp out of the port with his fists still tightened up. After he was out of sight, Michael turned his head slightly towards Eldes, and then looked at him directly in the eyes.

Say something... Eldes waited hopefully for Michael to realize that his father who he thought had died years ago was standing only a few feet away from him. Eldes was expecting such a thing too hopefully, however. Michael soon turned his head towards Ardos and Greevil without saying a word to or about Eldes.

"Should I go after him?" Ardos asked Greevil, still not satisfied with his victory.

"No, no. He won't cause anymore trouble. Leave him be." Greevil answered with his mask of calmness still on, "We should be on our way."

Ardos bowed his head and went with Greevil towards the large, Krabby-shaped building ahead. Eldes reluctantly followed the two, lagging behind them after lingering for a moment to look back at Michael and Jovi. As painful as it was to leave them, Eldes couldn't stay behind.

"Umm... Thank you?" a little voice spoke up behind Eldes.

Greevil, Ardos and Eldes turned around to get a full view of Jovi with her big, astonished eyes still set on them. Michael still remained silent, but nevertheless was as amazed as Jovi was.

"There's no need for thanks, little girl," Greevil chuckled with the fake, cheerful smile on his face, "We were only doing what needed to be done and nothing more."

Greevil, Eldes and Ardos soon had their backs on the children and were back on their way to the Krabby Club. With every moment that Eldes spent walking with Greevil and Ardos, the more he wished he could run over to Michael and Jovi and leave Cipher forever. But he had already tried to do so once before. Betraying Cipher once wreaked the lives of those Eldes loved. Betraying them again would almost certainly take their lives.

* * *

If there was any place in Orre that Eldes could take his frustration out on, Mt. Battle was the place.

Eldes mind as well been in chains and shackles; Ardos was dragging him around everywhere whether Eldes liked it or not. The one day Greevil gave Eldes and Ardos the day off and it was being spent doing what Ardos wanted to do; never mind what Eldes wanted. As much as Eldes enjoyed a good battle, he was sure his killjoy brother would mess it up somehow.

The facility built into a dormant volcano was home to one-hundred Pokemon Trainers that lived for challengers to take them on. Trainers of all sorts traveled from across the Orre region to train at the world-famous Mt. Battle. Even with the sheer number of people raring for battles, no one was foolhardy enough to take on all one-hundred battles in a row. Only once in Mt. Battle's history had a trainer made it through one-hundred consecutive battles.

In the reception room of Mt. Battle, a large portrait hung from one of the walls with the words "1st Trainer to complete the One-Hundred Battle Challenge" engraved on the golden frame. The picture portrayed a sandy-haired boy in his late teens with a strange white streak across his face.

Just as Eldes began to observe the six Pokemon that surrounded the boy in the picture, a hand suddenly grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. Ardos looked at Eldes sternly in the eyes like a parent scolding a child and whispered, "You had better stay put while I'm on the Battle Mountian. The last thing you want is for me to catch you wandering off somewhere else. Understand?"

"Yes..." Eldes groaned, deeply wanting to have his head acquaint itself with the nearest wall. Ardos was acting like the annoying little brother that went out of his way to torment his older sibling to Eldes. Even though Ardos was younger than Eldes by only half an hour, Eldes felt as if Ardos was at least three decades younger.

As Eldes watched Ardos walk away and go through the mountain's entrance, the more he wished he could have a few battles himself. But Eldes overheard the receptionist saying to Ardos earlier that a training session would be taking place soon and they would only let one more trainer through. And of course, Ardos just so "happened" to be that one more trainer. He gets to have all the fun while I'm stuck here counting the floor tiles.

With a sigh, Eldes plopped himself on the nearest bench and laid down. As the seconds grew into minutes and the minutes became an hour, Eldes’ eyelids became heavy and he found himself drifting off. As the afternoon hours were slowly being transformed into the evening hours, the more he lost touch with the real world and entered the world that came to him only in sleep.

Eventually, Eldes completely dozed off and became fully unaware of his surroundings. While he was deep in his slumber, Eldes did not notice the presence beside him.

"Um... Excuse me?"

Startled by the sudden voice, Eldes abruptly awoke. With a shout, Eldes tumbled over the bench and slammed down to the ground on his back.

"Aw, geez! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to jump you!" the voice quickly apologized.

"No, no. It's alright." moaned Eldes, his yawns indicating that he was still half-asleep.

"Are you okay?" the voice asked Eldes as he lifted himself up off the ground.

"Yes, I'm fi-" Eldes was suddenly cut off when he realized that the voice was familiar somehow. Now fully awake, Eldes raised his head and saw Michael staring at him.

"I... uh, was gonna ask you if I know you from somewhere. 'Cause you look awfully familiar." Michael explained, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. His voice had become deeper and less childlike from what it was five years in the past.

Eldes was left speechless at Michael's sudden appearance. The only things that he could manage to speak were a few "umm's" and "uhh's". Eldes' failure to get full words out of his mouth had earned him a raised eyebrow from Michael.

"Oh! I know who you are now!" Michael snapped his fingers as soon as he was reminded, causing Eldes' face to brighten, "You were one of those guys that was with Mr. Verich the other day, right?"

"Right..." Eldes sighed monotonously, his face darkening back up as he stood up from the floor.

"Hey, listen. Thanks for helping me and my little sister out back there." Michael muttered rather modestly while he stared at the ground, his feet pawing the floor.

“No, you don’t need to thank me for that,” Eldes said with a slightly lighter tone at first, but then returned to low and glum mumbles, “Besides, it was my brother that did all the work...”

“Oh. Well... tell him I said thanks if you see him.” Michael said with his voice in a much more audible tone and his stare lifted from the ground.

“I’ll be sure to do that.” Eldes replied with his attention more on the Battle Mountain’s entrance rather than on Michael. What if Ardos suddenly walked back into the lobby and saw Eldes talking to Michael? What would he tell Greevil? Then what would Greevil do to Eldes? Worse yet, what would Greevil do to Michael?

For the next few seconds, there was nothing but silence between Eldes and Michael. Awkward silence. Eldes was usually never the one to be talkative and rarely ever started conversations. But when Michael was silent and looked at Eldes expectantly, he assumed that Michael wasn’t much of a conversation starter himself.

Even though there was so much that Eldes wanted to tell Michael, Cipher’s restrictions muzzled him. It was then that Eldes truly started to despise the situation he was in. Nearly every emotion that Eldes felt for five years was locked away so no one could see. His positive emotions stirred up suspicions among Cipher and negative ones aside from anger were seen as weak. Eldes was then left with nothing but anger and a cold, heartless mask. As much as Eldes wanted to take that mask and smash it to pieces, he felt as if it had a permanent grip on him.

“Sssooo... I... don’t think I got your name back there...” Michael prompted Eldes to say something after obviously being tired of the silence.

“It’s Eldes.” he responded without the smallest bit of time passing after Michael finished his sentence. Although Eldes was ecstatic on the inside that he was finally getting the chance to talk to Michael again, he wanted to get the conversation over with before Ardos came back.

“Mine’s Michael.” Michael introduced himself to Eldes with a little enthusiasm, but not as much as he used to have five years prior. Eldes quickly noticed Michael’s new serious personality that replaced his cheerful one. Eldes began to wonder if this was because of his absence and if it took a bigger toll on Michael than he expected.

“So are you here for the battles?” Michael asked while Eldes was still in thought.

“Hmm? Oh. Uh, no. I’m waiting for my brother to finish with his.” Eldes quickly said, his thoughts abruptly interrupted.

"Well I came to talk to this guy named Vander. But I was thinking about trying out a few battles myself afterwards." Michael explained as he put his hand on his chin and gazed at the reception counter.

"It's a wonderful place for training. I used to train here when I was younger." Eldes told Michael, reminiscing about memories of his Flygon and Ninjask pulling through hot battles and earning miraculous victories. Despite the battles that Eldes and his two Pokemon unexpectedly won through eight areas; the exhaustion finally caught up to them after a Charizard brought them down single-handedly. The Charizard's explosive blasts of fire and the draconic slashes dealt by its dagger-sharp claws were no match for Eldes' tired Pokemon and brought a swift end to the failed challenge. However, nearly ten years had passed since Eldes had attempted the one-hundred battle challenge. The Charizard's trainer had since retired and Eldes' Pokemon had grown much stronger. As much as Eldes loved the intensity of tough battles, especially consecutive ones, he couldn't find it in himself to put his Pokemon through such a feat again, even if Cipher didn’t contol him like a puppet.

"Back then, my main reasons for battling was to become stronger. I may have loved the thrill of Pokemon battles, but power was what I truly desired," Eldes continued, musing about his thirst for power and the painstaking battles his Pokemon fought to achieve it. Eldes lowered his head in both shame and regret, "I eventually achieved the power I sought for so long. But even though I got what I wished for, I now wonder why I worked so hard and put my Pokemon under such stress, just to reach my own selfish goals. Why was I willing to give blood, sweat and tears just to obtain this power?"

When Eldes lifted his head, Michael seemed reflective and contemplative, as if he soaked in Eldes' words with deep thought. Eldes had often heard Michael say as a young child that he wanted to be exactly like his father when he grew up; Michael viewed Eldes as his idol. But the lust for power that Eldes formerly held was the one thing he did not want Michael to inherit, and it seemed like his fears became a reality. With Michael looking like he was identifying such greed with himself, Eldes hoped that it was just in his twisted imagination.

"When you have a goal in mind that you want to reach, ask yourself why you want to reach it first. I strongly advise it." Eldes said solemnly, finishing his speech.

Another moment of silence developed with regret filling the air around Eldes and Michael. Michael's eyes lowered to the floor again as Eldes also did.

"I... uh, think I should be going right around now. Um, it was nice talking to you." Michael spoke up dully. Eldes' half-expected Michael to add "I guess" to the end of his sentence.

"Likewise." Eldes replied with a weak smile.

After giving a slight nod, Michael walked away from Eldes. Before Michael reached the reception counter, Eldes sat back down on the bench with more thoughts and memories than he could handle. Despite the fact that Eldes had finally got the chance to speak to Michael after five years, he did not feel as happy as he knew he should have been. He began to fear if he had put Michael's life in danger by talking to him. As much as he hated such images, Eldes could imagine gruesome thoughts of Cipher peons hunting Michael down and hurting him. Or even worse, killing him. All because of a five-minute conversation.

A few seconds passed before Eldes heard Michael say "Hey" to somebody across the room. At first, Eldes thought that Michael was greeting an acquaintance of his. But when Eldes glanced over in Michael's direction, Ardos was standing near the reception counter, watching the boy walk into the Battle Mountain, much to Eldes' horror. Eldes immediately took his eyes off Ardos and Michael and acted as casual as possible, as if he had never seen Michael. But even so, Eldes could almost feel Ardos' deadly stare boring into his back.

"Eldes!" Ardos sharply called him as he began to head for the door.

Although Eldes was still nervous, he calmed down when Ardos said nothing more inside the building. Eldes followed Ardos outside even though he would have rather stay behind.

When Ardos and Eldes got outside and stood in the courtyard in front of the building, the sky had turned into a vibrant pink as the sun began to set. The clouds closet to the sunset were a deeper pink than the others, resembling huge balls of cotton candy.

The courtyard itself had shown signs of obvious care by those that worked at Mt. Battle. The bright green lawn was perfectly manicured and the round hedges were neatly trimmed. Strips of raised pavement separated that dirt paths that began at the facility's entrance and the lawn. Aside form Eldes and Ardos, not a soul stirred in the courtyard.

Gazing at the serene scenery for even the slightest moment caused Eldes to lose himself in the calmness. But while Eldes had his guard down, Ardos seized the chance and shoved Eldes into the wall. Ardos' hands firmly pressed against Eldes' shoulders kept him from moving and getting away, no matter how much he struggled.

"You were talking to that boy, weren't you?!" Ardos angrily hissed in Eldes' face.

"What boy?" Eldes nonchalantly asked like Ardos had not had him pinned against a stone wall.

"Don't play stupid! You know who I'm talking about! I turn my back on you for one hour and then you go and talk to somebody you are clearly forbidden to!" Ardos raised his voice, hugely understating the time he spent on Mt. Battle, "I have every right to report this to the Grand Master!"

As Ardos paused, Eldes could feel his angry breaths against his face and then traveling down his neck. Ardos loosened his grip on Eldes slightly, enough that Eldes could push him away. But he was obviously in enough trouble as he was and breaking himself free of Ardos would just make matters worse. Anything that Eldes did or said at that moment could cause problems, so Eldes stood still and refused to open his mouth.

Growling like a frustrated Mightyena trying to catch a Grovyle in a forest, Ardos threw Eldes off the wall and onto the dirt ground. Small bits of rock embedded into the path scratched against the skin on Eldes' face. After he pushed himself off the ground, Eldes wiped off the brown dirt with a slight hint of crimson red off his cheek.

"Don't. Let it. Happen. Again." Ardos slowly snarled at Eldes and stormed down the path, kicking up clouds of dust on his way.

As the two brothers walked silently down the path for the rest of the time they were together that day, Eldes stayed a considerable distance away from Ardos. But as the time passed, Eldes gradually moved closer to where Ardos was walking, the imaginary chain that Ardos held around Eldes growing tighter.

* * *

Months passed. Each one becoming closer to the shadows that awaited the world.

Maybe there is hope... Maybe... Maybe I'm... just... a dreamer...

It was a bittersweet day for Eldes. But it was more bitter than it was sweet. After Eldes had talked to Michael at Mt. Battle, the boy had quickly annihilated the forces of Cipher in Orre. The day had finally came when he stepped foot on Citadark Isle to stop Cipher once and for all. But as Eldes, Ardos and Greevil watched the battles taped on the monitor cameras stationed all over the island, it did not take long for Eldes to notice that with each victory Michael earned, the more the rage inside the boy became visible.

And now with Eldes being the only person keeping Michael from confronting Greevil, he got to witness the rage near its full capacity.

The battle between Eldes and Michael was coming down to the wire. A single Lapras stood on Eldes' side of the battlefield that used to be the main control room. Lapras by nature were gentle creatures unsuitable for violent battles. But this one was different. No amount of gentleness could be detected in the blue, plesiosaur whose back was protected by a thick, spiked shell. Instead, its brown eyes were filled with bloodlust and an almost hypnotized viciousness. This was nothing new to Eldes. He had seen many Shadow Pokemon before and the Lapras fighting on his side was no different.

The looks on Michael's Pokemon were completely different, however. The Vaporeon and the Breloom that stood opposite of Eldes' Lapras -as well as the other three Pokemon of Michael's that had battled- exhibited an excitement for the battle. But unlike the Shadow Pokemon that Eldes' had, they had shown signs of actual emotions during the long battle. Happiness, anger, sadness, fear; Michael's Pokemon had souls as opposed to the fighting machines that Eldes regrettably controlled.

Both the Breloom and the Vaporeon may have been physically tired, but neither looked like they were about to give up. The Breloom's legs were like they had springs in them; each step the Breloom took was a bouncing one. He kept his red clawed fists in front of his tan and green spore-covered body, ready for delivering swift and almost invisible punches. The mushroom cap on the Breloom's head shaded most of his roughly triangular face. With each swish of his tail, the seeds attached to the Breloom's tail rattled.

The Vaporeon, Autumn, was not as riled up as the Breloom, but she was still excited. She stood on all four of her thin blue legs and her mermaid-like tail straightened out when she attacked. As seemingly clear raindrops fell to the ground, Autumn's gill-like collar vibrated.

However, the naked eye could not tell that the rain was tainted with darkness. As each drop from the invisible dark clouds looming above them hit both the Breloom and Autumn, their posture and energy weakened. Even Eldes could feel the sharp, stinging pain of the rain. His Lapras, on the other hand, was not harmed in the least bit.

"Lapras! Shadow Storm!" Eldes ordered his Shadow Pokemon in a stern tone he rarely and hated to use.

The Lapras arched its neck and stood on its large flippers. All of its focus was on channeling the invisible dark power around it; the Lapras allowed no outside distractions.

As the Lapras energized itself for attack, Eldes spotted Michael whispering commands to his two Pokemon. Autumn's posture became firm and solid as he stood her ground. The Breloom, however, hastily sprang into action and sped towards the Lapras.

The moment the Breloom moved his feet, the Lapras released the pent-up energy. The layer of tainted water grew rough and violent like the sea outside. The energy created a twister that slashed furiously against everything that it came in contact with. The Breloom was caught in the middle of the artificial storm and struggled to move forward and keep himself from being blown away at the same time.

"C'mon Pogo! Keep trying to break through the storm!" Michael urged his struggling Breloom as he tried to reach his opponent.

The claws on Pogo feet scratched against the metal floor as the Lapras' storm fought against him. Pogo inched through the water everytime the storm lowered its strength by even the smallest amount. Eventually, Pogo became motionless and abandoned his goal of reaching the Lapras. The full power of the tempest was upon him and the only thing the Breloom could do was resist being blown away.

Eventually, Pogo lost his stamina and finally gave into the storm. The wind swept the Breloom off his feet and threw him into the middle of the twister. The dark energy sapped away Pogo’s health and induced painful cries that stabbed at Eldes’ ears.

Upon hearing the cries, Autumn gave out ones of her own and ran towards the Breloom in excruciating pain. But as she came close to the twister that was throwing Pogo around like a toy, the dark energy that blew with the wind stopped the Vaporeon in her tracks. Yelping as the storm slashed at her sleek hide, Autumn was forced to accept there was nothing she could do and was forced to step back.

When the storm subsided, Pogo fell to the ground with a slam. Although his body was limp and nearly motionless, Pogo was still clearly alive. The Breloom’s crying moans tore at Michael and pangs of guilt came over his face, Autumn feeling the same way. The Vaporeon looking upon her fellow Pokemon seemed almost as painful to her as if she was in Pogo’s place.

Standing aside, watching someone she cared about go through so much pain without being able to do a thing…

…Eldes understood the feeling.

Sighing, Michael held up a Poke Ball to his Breloom. A ray of red light shot from the ball’s center at Pogo. Pogo’s body glowed a bright red before it transformed into a scarlet silhouette. The energy that used to be the Breloom withdrew back in the Poke Ball.

Michael latched Pogo’s Poke Ball back on his belt and grabbed the last one he hadn’t used during the battle, “Go! Zaprong!”

The Poke Ball opened and released Zaprong, an Electabuzz. Vaguely human-like in structure, the yellow and black lightening patterned Pokemon stood on his two clawed feet with his fists balled up.

The Electabuzz seemed to be a bit of an oddity to Eldes. Electabuzz were naturally energetic Pokemon, but Zaprong displayed a fiery attitude in his presumptuous stares at the Lapras and the flicks of his black-ringed tail. The oddest characteristic that this Electabuzz showed was that instead of sparks of electricity flying out of his body, Zaprong instead taunted the Lapras with a show of hot embers shooting from his fists. The Lapras, however, did not seem to be swayed by Zaprong’s bold attitude.

Being a Shadow Pokemon, Eldes’ Lapras would take any order, no matter how cruel. If a Shadow Pokemon was told to rip its enemy to shreds, it would do so without hesitation. But even though Eldes could simply tell his Lapras to mercilessly let loose another Shadow Storm at Zaprong and Autumn and win the battle, Eldes never uttered another word to the Lapras. The Lapras stood motionlessly, watching its enemies while they watched back.

For once, this was a battle that Eldes did not want to win. Besides, he had already lost long before the battle began. But Michael still had a chance to win. This was Eldes’ only chance to be rid of Cipher and finally live without fear.

But ironically, it was all relying on fear itself.

Almost like he could see Eldes’ reluctance to attack, Michael confidently seized the chance. “Autumn! Hydro Pump! Give it all you got!”

Autumn leapt forward and closed her big, black eyes and fell into a state of deep concentration. Her collar vibrated at an even faster rate as she manipulated the water in the room. All the water on the floor pulled away from its original spot and into a towering mass of liquid beside the Vaporeon. Even the raindrops from above all directed themselves to the watery tower.

When the tower was taller than even the Lapras, Autumn opened her eyes and threw back her head. The tower stretched itself almost to the point where it reached the ceiling. The top of the watery column bent downwards in the Lapras’ direction like an Arbok’s head staring down at its foe.

Autumn swiftly brought her head back down to its original position. With the force of a fire at full blast, the tower rushed at the Lapras. The Lapras moved its head away from the whitewater torrent slamming at its hide.

But the water seemed to do more good than harm to the Lapras. Its posture strengthened and the water gave it the energy and stamina to face the torrent head on instead of turning away. After the last drop of water from the jet hit the Lapras, raised its head and bared its small, yet sharp teeth at Autumn. Stronger and refreshed from the water, the Lapras eagerly waited for an order to attack.

At first, Eldes was confused at Michael’s strategy. He expected him to know by now that water only strengthens water-types, especially when Michael had a water Pokemon like Vaporeon. But Eldes soon realized that Michael was using one of the oldest -yet, effective- strategies in the book.

“Alright, Zaprong! Let’s finish it with Thunderpunch!” the nervous anticipation present in Michael’s orders, but was overpowered by the rather arrogant confidence. He raised his arm and swiftly lowered it with his finger pointed at the Lapras.

“Eeeelec! Eeeeeelllec buzz!” Zaprong barked sharply, stomping his foot on the ground and his fists igniting into flames.

“Zaprong, please… don’t be like this… not now…” Michael’s confidence disappeared and his tone became softer. Barely looking at his trainer, Eldes was not sure if Zaprong noticed the pleading look in Michael’s eyes.

“Vaa! Poreeeon!” a high-pitched call directed at Zaprong came from Autumn. She stared at Zaprong expectantly with her scornful look driving into Zaprong’s eyes, “Vaapooor! Va poooor eon!”

“Lec! Eeelec buzz!” Zaprong snapped back at Autumn with his teeth clenched.

The Electabuzz and Vaporeon exchanged hisses and looks of anger between each other. All through the argument that Zaprong and Autumn had, Zaprong looked like he was ready to lash out on his own teammate. Autumn, however, was hardly threatened and continued trying to put Zaprong in his place.

With a frustrated scowl and a defeated moan, the flames that Zaprong held in his fists faded and was replaced with crackling electricity running through his fingers. After a moment of hesitation, Zaprong dashed towards the Lapras, who was a still target in front of him. Up until the second Zaprong came close enough to strike his enemy, his arm held his electric fist stretched out to his side. Only feet away from the Lapras, Zaprong flung his arm back even further and then swung it at the Lapras.

His fist may have only grazed the skin of the Lapras, but the electricity that that it held traveled from Zaprong’s fist and into the Lapras’ body. Zaprong jumped backwards and watched the Lapras become completely immobilized by the electricity flowing through it’s veins. After the electric onslaught was over, the Lapras fell over to its side, paralyzed and unable to lift itself up.

With the Lapras unable to attack any further, Michael reached into his pocket and grabbed the Ultra Ball that would end the long battle. Neither Eldes nor Michael had any anxious feelings as the Ultra Ball sucked the Lapras into its interior and locked it inside. Both knew the battle was over and there was the rest of the war to be worried about.

Within seconds, Lapras’ Ultra Ball became a white silhouette and suddenly vanished into thin air. When Eldes was a small child, the process of a Poke Ball teleporting to some far-off place had always fascinated him. But his fascination for such a thing faded, especially after seeing the Ultra Balls of his three other Shadow Pokemon go through the same process.

“Good job, guys.” Michael congratulated Autumn and Zaprong, giving a weak smile at Zaprong and nodded. But the only way Zaprong even acknowledged that Michael was speaking to him was by snorting rudely and turning away.

Groaning under his breath, Michael returned his two Pokemon to their Poke Balls, Zaprong first and then Autumn. He then looked back at Eldes for a moment and then looked away like Zaprong just did to him.

“Impressive,” Eldes commented, talking to Michael for the first time since their battle began, “I did not expect this to be an easy battle, but you are much stronger than I expected. If there is anybody that is capable of defeating the Grand Master, then it’s you. By all means, you have the power to put an end to Cipher once and for all.”

A short laugh that would resemble a laugh that Zaprong would make forced its way out of Michael’s mouth, “If you’re trying to make yourself look better by pretending to be on my side, then you’re doing an awfully bad job of it.”

Sighing low enough that Michael couldn’t hear him, Eldes solemnly lowered his head and walked past Michael to a glass wall. With a press of a button on the wall beside Eldes, the tall transparent barrier disappeared into a slot in the floor. The glass wall gone, the hallway connecting the control room and the outside was now accessible. Greevil originally had it installed as his way of saying “Leave me alone” when he didn’t want anyone bothering him. He never expected it to stop an intruder like Michael in his tracks for a few hours, although the boy did find a way around it eventually.

In the hallway on Eldes’ right was a healing machine for Pokemon. Everyday in the arena above Eldes’ head, every employee of Cipher fought harsh battles for training. The ability to heal Pokemon quickly was invaluable, especially when the matches were fought with short intervals of each other.

Eldes stood in the hallway’s entrance, unsure whether Michael was looking at him or not. He did know that Michael was still in the control room; the silence between them was almost deathly unnerving. The ongoing grudge from Michael and the unbearable fear from Eldes mixed and twisted into a cold feeling that made Eldes’ heart race.

Despite the fear that had a tight hold on Eldes, he broke free long enough to spin around and abruptly shout, “Michael! Wait!”

When Michael turned to Eldes, Eldes found that he was looking into the eyes of the boy he betrayed and made into the grudge-filled person before him. Fear’s icy arms wrapped itself around Eldes and immobilized him again. There were words that Eldes wanted to say, but fear took them away from him. Like the small weak child facing others that were much stronger and bigger than him, Eldes thought over and over to himself, I can’t do this… I can’t do this…

“Good luck.” Eldes forced himself to say, turning his head away in self shame.

Eldes turned around and left the dome without even looking to see Michael’s reaction. His head was still low and his sight on the ground. Eldes never looked back on the dome as he crossed the bridge over the crater. Once across the bridge, Eldes lost his will to stand and fell to the rocky ground on his knees.

“I shouldn’t have let him go forward. He wasn’t ready…” Eldes said out loud, though there was no one around. No one to comfort him in his time of doubt or lift him off his feet. Alone and ashamed, Eldes struggled to hold back the oncoming tears, “I don’t deserve to be his father… Not after this…”

Eldes convinced himself at that time that the only reason Michael won their battle was because of his reluctance to attack. Eldes threw the entire battle, just so he could see Cipher’s downfall. If he had ordered Lapras to attack while Zaprong gave his show of blatant disrespect for Michael, Eldes would have won, Michael would leave Citadark Isle and go home where it was safe. But Eldes began to think that he had just put Michael in more danger he could handle when he wasn’t ready.

Eldes knew that Michael would need every bit of luck Eldes wished upon him back in the dome…

…For Eldes’ sake…

…For Michael’s sake…

…And for the world’s sake…

* * *

Michael did need every bit of luck he could afford, and he got it.

Perhaps Greevil was right. Maybe Michael only did win the final battle by sheer luck. But he did win after all. And Cipher was nothing but a memory.

Especially for Eldes. The haunting memories of Cipher still lingered in his head as he stared at the concrete ceiling inside his cell. Reminders of the terrible organization was all around him, whether they came from the glares people gave him or his own mind going mad.

Eldes knew that even though he kept a small, invisible glimmer of hope alive for five years, only part of what he wished for came true. Cipher may have been gone and his family may have been safe, but Eldes still wasn’t happy. He still couldn’t reveal himself to his family nor return to life he once knew. Eldes expected that it would be impossible anyways for the next ten years he would spend in prison, still locked up. And even if iron bars did not hold him in his cell, Eldes still could never go home as long as Michael still hated him.

Eldes reached under the old mattress he lied on and pulled out the folded picture he kept for half a decade, the only reminder of the good in his life. The picture had become flimsy over the years, but wasn’t any less heartwarming for Eldes’ to see. Seeing a scene frozen in time of him and Michael… A time where Eldes was always around and Michael loved him.

After the looking at the picture caused his hopes to be lifted back up and put a weak smile on his face, Eldes slipped the picture back under the mattress. Pulling the light sheet over his shivering body, Eldes concentrated on sleep, avoiding nightmares at every turn his mind took.

Pogo... *snort* The names I give my own Pokemon are even weirder, though. XD

And yeah, this is the last chapter for a while that focuses solely on flashbacks. We will see some more chapters like this eventually, just not for quite a while.

Hmm, I think I might have chosen a bad time to post this, as I'm sure a lot of people are "OMFG SUPER BOWL!!11" right now. XD *shot*

The Great Butler
5th February 2007, 2:36 AM

You've fleshed out the characters perfectly---annoying, evil little brother Ardos (I always saw him as the older one because of the wrinkles on his face O_o), merciless crime master who actually still has a heart Greevil, and so on. One scene I liked in particular was the part where Gateon Port's citizens were fangirling over the three and Ardos smiled at them. The description of Shadow Storm was spot-on too.

5th February 2007, 12:47 PM

(I always saw him as the older one because of the wrinkles on his face O_o),

Heheh. From what I've seen, I'm probably the only one that does think Eldes is older. :p But y'know, I figured he was the older one since his name is one letter away from being "Eldest".

One scene I liked in particular was the part where Gateon Port's citizens were fangirling over the three and Ardos smiled at them.

Sounded like something I would do, didn't it? :) Heh. Although if I was there in Gateon Port at that moment, there would have been an extra scene in the chapter where a crazy, insane fangirl glomps them and squeals, "ZOMG I LUV U! MARRY ME!!!11" And then Eldes and Ardos files a restraining order on her. XD

...0_o I need to cut back on the sugar...

Glad you really like my fic. Thanks~ :D

7th April 2007, 4:07 AM
All your Eldes are belong to me. D:

Yes, I procrastinated again. I really need to stop doing that… XD

So anyways, here’s Chapter Three. You can put down that pitchfork now.

Chapter Three: Second Chances

The Orre desert was a place of transformations. Whether they took place over a matter of hours, or a matter of years, cycles were forever embedded into the ways of the land. Searing hot days to frigid cold nights. Blazing sun to icy moon. Love to hatred. Light to darkness…

…then back to light. Darkness again. Light once more. Then the darkness returns.

Somewhere in the sandy desert of cycles, life existed where there was desolation all around it. Even from beyond the surrounding sand dunes, the soft, serene sound of water running gently echoed. Water pumped from an underground oasis flowed around the calm city in man-made streams and waterfalls. The entire city was made to adapt itself to the flow of the life-giving liquid. The streets and houses were all made from white, non-porous rock. Water could run on the roofs of houses day and night without a single drop seeping through.

Phenac City was the city of oasis waters. It was the city of the sun fiery sun watching overhead. It was the city of never-ending cycles.

In the center of Phenac City was a large building that resembled a wide cylinder. The outside of the building looked simple and plain; it did not look like anything truly promising. But the building’s looks deceived it. Inside was the main attraction inside Phenac City. The Pre-Gym was the closest Pokemon battling facility to Phenac’s citizens. The old water-filled stadium behind the gym had been abandoned for years, and the newer Realgam Tower was miles away.

A sole figure appeared near the Pre-Gym. Although the purple-haired man was young, his fame within the city stretched outside Phenac. Known for being the owner of the gym and one of Phenac’s finest trainers, Justy had become a household name around the city.

Justy took a deep breath as he reached for the gym keys inside his white coat pocket. It was another day that Justy had to live through of what he believed was the stressing part of the year. The summer sky was upon him and school had let out, which meant that Justy had to handle even more children at the Pre-Gym than before. Many of the kids were beginning trainers and were still struggling to comprehend the most basic rules of Pokemon battles.

The door clicked open when Justy found the key and turned it inside the keyhole. Justy stepped inside the wide room and was greeted by the battling arena on a raised platform. At the edge of the arena facing the Pre-Gym door was a cylinder elevator leading to the lush training field below. On opposite sides of the buildings was Justy’s control room and a small classroom. The insides of both rooms could be seen from the arena through transparent plastic walls.

Justy flipped the lights on, illuminating the entire building. He walked up a few steps into his control room, past the crescent-shaped control panel, and to the wide, tall closet at the end of the room.

As Justy heard the faint sound of a truck approaching and then coming to a stop outside, he searched through his ring of keys and opened the closet doors. Inside the closet was seventeen metal cells, each holding a couple small boxes. Justy grabbed a nearby stool, stood on it, and began scanning each of the boxes. When he found what he wanted, he reached for a box with the words, “Normal: Beginners” written across it and carefully pulled it out. He stepped off the stool and placed the box on the carpeted ground.

Justy reached for the closet doors to shut them, but was suddenly grabbed and pulled away from them. Before Justy’s mind could even process the thought of what just happened, the edge of sharp, cold metal was touching the skin on Justy’s throat. A hand that was dressed with a black leather glove slammed itself against Justy’s mouth, muffling his confused cries. Justy’s entire body locked up out of fear and his racing heartbeat made his ears deaf to the sounds around him.

A tall man dressed completely in black, leaving only his eyes exposed, dashed to the open closet and quickly began throwing each of the boxes inside a brown sack. Justy watched helplessly as each box fell into the sack until the closet cells were bare.

The anger inside Justy’s immobilized body boiled up to the point where it overwhelmed the fear and broke him free of its hold. Justy instinctively stomped the foot of the man that held him with his own. The man dropped the knife that he held at Justy’s neck and his grip on Justy loosed enough that he could break away. Justy quickly grabbed the knife off the ground and slashed at the mans’ legs, ripping the fine black clothing opening and creating thin red gashes on his skin.

Before the other thief could even know what was going on, Justy tackled him against the wall and cut open the brown sack he was holding. The boxes spilled out of the sack and created a disorganized pile of boxes on the floor.

The thief pushed Justy off him and threw him into a corner. He began to gather the boxes on the floor, but his partner motioned his hand to the door as he headed out of the control room. The two thieves dashed out the Pre-Gym, carrying only one box with them. Within seconds after they left, a truck engine hastily started up and roared out of the city.

Justy remained in the corner he was thrown in, gasping as he tried to catch his breath. Everything happened so fast, Justy almost didn’t know what to think of it. As he gathered his thoughts, Justy looked upon the scattered boxes on the floor and the drops of blood in the carpet.

Once Justy had gathered himself, he ran over to the nearest telephone and tried to shut out the many confused voices outside as he reached the police.

* * *

“This just in! We are getting reports that the Pre-Gym in Phenac City was robbed early this morning,” the anchorwoman of ONBS’s news program announced as she held her hand to the microphone in her ear, “We have Marcia live in the field. Marcia?”

The television screen switched from the black-haired anchorwoman to a spirited young girl in her early twenties. She held the microphone steadily to her mouth as she focused on the camera in front of her.

“Ancha, Phenac City has been in an uproar ever since the robbery this morning,” Marcia reported with a large group of citizens behind her, “Thankfully, no one was severely injured. However, six Pokemon were stolen.”

The camera shifted to Marcia’s left and showed the tense purple-haired man next to her. Marcia held the microphone to him and asked, “Justy, you were the only witness to the robbery. Can you describe for us the culprits?”

Justy leaned his head slightly forward and spoke into the microphone with his voice shaken, “Well… they were covered in black clothes from head to toe…”

“So there were no distinguishing features?”


“What about the Pokemon that were stolen? Do you know which ones were taken?” Marcia asked with a concerned tone.

Justy stood silent for a moment. He held his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes. When Justy opened his eyes back up, he seemed to be unsure with his thoughts, “Uh… I think they were all Rock-types, ones that I were saving for my more experienced students. I’m not really sure though.”

“Thank you for the information, Justy,” Marcia thanked Justy and turned back the camera, “Police are still trying to uncover details. So far, they do not believe that there are any links to the Cipher syndicate that was destroyed last year.”

“Idiots.” Greevil muttered to himself as he watched the news report on the prison wall across from him.

He was lucky to even see or make out what was going on the television in the first place. The reception was horribly bad. Every few words that were spoken were distorted by the static and the images could barely been seen behind the gray fuzz. But of course, the prison officials were well aware of that. That’s why they didn’t bother to fix it.

But Greevil rolled his golden eyes at what he did hear. Sometimes he would wonder why he even tried to take over Orre in the first place. But after hearing about Pokemon being stolen on the news for the third time in a week and hearing “No apparent connection to Cipher” over and over like a broken record, Greevil remembered why. Orre is a wasteland of stupid, oblivious nitwits.

Greevil thought that the residents of Orre would’ve grown half a mind to be more suspicious of frequent criminal behavior after Cipher nearly took control of the dry wasteland twice. Of course, the smart ones were not as oblivious and naïve. Unfortunately, to Greevil, morons made up at least two-thirds of the population.

The short, elderly man tapped his wooden cane against the steel walls, watching every move that anyone that came near him made. Greevil didn’t need the cane for walking, he could walk perfectly fine without it. The prison officials didn’t need to know that, though. When there was so many people around him that were eager to break every bone in his body, Greevil needed something for protection. And besides, the expression on a man’s face when they underestimate him and then find out he had a vicious swinging arm was just priceless to Greevil. Simply priceless.

Greevil’s thoughts were interrupted when his pale skinned son leaned against the wall next to him, almost falling into it. Eldes looked like he was sleepwalking at the moment. His eyelids were half-closed and his gaze was straight and dull. The black circles under his eyes could easily be seen against his ghostly white skin.

“You slept well.” Greevil remarked and earned himself a dull glare from Eldes.

“Father…” Eldes sighed, taking his glare off Greevil, “You know I’ve had insomnia for the longest time now.”

“You never used to. You used to sleep like Slakoth. And then it was up to either me or your mother to drag you out of bed.” Greevil chuckled under his breath before growing somberly silent for a moment.

“I was a child.”

“You were twenty.” As Greevil shot down Eldes’ defense and smirked, he received a groan and another dull glare from his son.

“It’s been getting worse, though,” Eldes changed the subject as his eyelids fell and raised, “Lately, I haven’t been able to get much sleep at all.”

“Count Mareep.” Greevil simply and bluntly told Eldes.

Eldes held his hand to his mouth and yawned, “I have. All two-thousand of them.”

“Well…” Greevil rubbed his hand against his forehead as he thought, “Try not to think about sleep so much. Just let yourself drift off and…”

Greevil was suddenly cut off when he heard a snore coming from Eldes’ direction. He turned his head and saw that Eldes’ head was lowered and his eyes closed shut.

“Eldes!” Greevil raised his voice and lightly smacked his hand at Eldes’ arm.

“SIR!” Eldes abruptly awoke, pulled his arms to his side and straightened his posture. When Eldes looked around and remembered where he was, his posture loosened.

“…Or I can just talk to you all night. How about that? It seems to work quite nicely.” Greevil moaned and sighed as he crossed his arms.

“I’m sorry! I…I can’t help it…” Eldes apologized quickly and timidly like he was a child in trouble.

Suddenly, one of the prison guards strode past Eldes and Greevil. The guard’s pace slowed down as he walked near Eldes and Greevil and eyed them suspiciously. Greevil remained silent and returned the guard’s distrusting glare. Once the guard was past them and sped his pace back up, Greevil scanned the room. In the midst of the numerous inmates in the room, there were several other prison guards with their heads turned in Greevil’s direction. But what Greevil noticed most of all was that most of them were looking at him specifically.

“Damn it… I hate it when they keep their eyes on us like that,” Greevil under his breath as the guards kept on staring at him suspiciously, “Thinking that were going to commit murder or something like that every time they turn their backs.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

Greevil paused before taking his eyes off the prison guards and looked into his son’s face. Eldes refused him eye contact; his musing gaze was straight and focused on no one in particular. For years, a pair of black shades concealed Eldes’ eyes. But now that they were absent, Greevil had the chance to view the emotions stirring in the golden orbs. At first, they seemed nonexistent. But after a few moments into Eldes’ pensive state, Greevil noticed that Eldes’ lower eyelids twitched and his eyebrows furrowed. The movements were slight and subtle. To anyone else, they would’ve gone unnoticed. To Greevil, however, they were like thick black ink on white paper.

Once Greevil had picked up the negative emotions on Eldes’ face, he began to repeat Eldes’ words in his head. Normally, Eldes’ voice was monotonous and was not a good indicator of what he was feeling. But when emotions were present in his voice, they were glaringly obvious and his tone drastically changed. It did not take long for Greevil to recognize the two emotions he heard. Anger and bitterness.

These were emotions that Greevil did not usually see in Eldes, prior to and even during the time of Cipher. But now that those foolish times were over and the shadowy cloud was lifted, Greevil finally realized the full extent of what he did to his son. He had turned the once happy and content Eldes into a cold, hollow shell of his former self.

Greevil took his eyes off of Eldes and hung his head shamefully. Looking back on himself, Greevil began to wonder what compelled him to do such a thing in the first place. Was he so desperate to hold on to power that he was willing to destroy the life of his own flesh and blood? Worse yet, why was he just realizing this now?

Neither Greevil nor Eldes said anything to each other for the rest of that day. Greevil knew that Eldes had already said everything he wanted to say anyways. And all it took to speak to his mind was to say five words.

* * *

Patience was never one of Ardos’ strong points. He had always hated waiting for anything that was even the smallest bit late. As a child, Ardos would often display his temper by kicking, screaming, and going on about how much he wanted it and how much he wanted it now. But now, as an adult, Ardos tapped his fingers on his marble desk and stared at the blank, plasma screen with irritation showing in his scowls.

Ardos glanced over to the digital clock next to him. As the green neon fourteen changed into a fifteen, Ardos took a deep breath to hold in his temper.

His eyes wandered away from the digital clock and looked at his Alakazam standing next to him. Unlike Ardos, the Alakazam didn’t seem impatient, just bored. The Alakazam’s undisturbed gaze was fixed on the screen, looking like he was about to nod off at any moment.

Finally, after what seemed like forever to Ardos, the plasma screen flicked on. Looking directly into the camera was a young man that looked like someone that Ardos would find on an interstate, speeding on a motorcycle. The light from the light bulb above shone off his black leather coat and his slick brown hair styled into a mullet. Despite the tough image that he attempted to show, the fear that Ardos saw in him couldn’t have made itself more obvious.

“You certainly took your time, Terran.” Ardos snarled, just waiting for what kind of excuse Terran would run by him this time.

“I… I’m sorry, Master Ardos, sir. I… uh, didn’t know you were expecting a progress report.” Terran’s nerves got the best of him and forced him to give an excuse that made Ardos laugh under his breath.

“Don’t even try that with me! I told you five days in advance that I’d be expecting you to call in at precisely six o’ clock P.M.,” Ardos, although still angry, couldn’t help but laugh at Terran’s stupidity, “But enough of that. Let’s just cut to the chase. How many Shadow Pokemon?”

Even though Ardos’ impatience couldn’t be made clearer, Terran insisted on delaying his response. Terran lowered his head and avoided eye contact with Ardos. When he finally did speak, his voice was barely audible, “Three.”

“Three,” Ardos repeated Terran’s answer while his wrinkles highlighted his annoyed frown, “I give you two months to increase the numbers, and the best you can come up with is three Pokemon?!”

“Sir, let me explain!” Terran quickly lifted his head up and tried to cover himself. Despite the fact that Ardos was starting to get fed up with Terran’s excuses, he sat back and listened to what he had to say, “We have enough Shadow Energy to make at least twenty Shadow Pokemon. It’s just that we don’t have enough Pokemon to use it on.”

“And what do you suppose you should do about that?” Ardos questioned Terran, crossing his arms.

“Um… Get more Pokemon?” Terran guessed timidly like he had predicted what Ardos’ reaction was going to be.

“Exactly!” Ardos let loose his frustration and let the anger raise the volume of his voice, “I don’t care how you obtain more Pokemon, just do it! Use your own if you have to! Next time I check in, those numbers had better be higher!”

Ardos reached for the control panel on his desk and nearly slammed his finger on one of the buttons. Before Terran even got a chance to respond, the screen flicked off on him.

With a groan, Ardos leaned back in his chair and slid his hand up his forehead. He never expected Cipher to rise back up to its former glory in such a short period of time. But he had at the very least hoped that progress would be going faster than it was. Three Pokemon in two months? Damn it… The Lair would’ve made the same amount in a week!

"If you deem Terran such a failure, why do you bother keeping him around?" a telepathic voice echoed in Ardos’ mind.

Ardos glanced at his Alakazam, who was gazing back at him and sighed, “What other choice to do I have? Even Terran is more competent than half of my peons. And the ones that are half-way intelligent can’t battle for the life of them.”

“Perhaps the problem does not lie within Terran’s intelligence, but rather that you may be overworking him. Two projects at one may be providing him with more stress than he can handle.”

“Maybe,” Ardos sat back up in his seat and folded his arms on his desk. After a pause, Ardos sighed again and lowered his head, “I don’t know… Sometimes, I think I might be expecting too much, Magek.”

“Not entirely,” Magek said rather positively, as opposed to his usual indifferent tone, “As far as expecting Terran to juggle two projects, you are quite possibly aiming too high. But even without the Lair to mass produce Shadow Pokemon, we should have more Shadow Pokemon than we do. While no one can expect for us to have as many Shadow Pokemon as Cipher used to after only a year, everyone expects that we have at least a decent amount.”

Ardos looked back at Magek and chuckled under his breath. Even though the smile that suddenly appeared on his face was weak, it made the wrinkles around his mouth even more obvious, “You do know how to criticize me and motivate me at the same time.”

Magek returned the smile and nodded back to Ardos. As Ardos had to live through each stressful day, dealing with every problem that arose with Cipher, perhaps Magek’s reassurance was just what he needed.

But as Ardos tried to keep his mind on relaxing thoughts, he couldn’t help but dwell on more troubling ones. When was the last time he heard any positive reinforcement from anyone but Magek? When Ardos had to think for a few minutes just to try to remember when others would reassure him, he knew something wasn’t right. For over half a decade, Ardos put his all into his work to the point where the stress nearly exhausted him. And hardly did he ever hear a “Thank you, Ardos” or a “Good job, Ardos”. Not even from those he’d expect a compliment from.

Ardos wasn’t going to let all those years of hard work go to waste, however. Even if he hardly ever received acknowledgement for his efforts, Ardos wasn’t about to throw everything he did for Cipher away. He kept telling himself that he will rebuild Cipher from the ashes, even if it takes him another six years.

And he wasn’t about to let anything, or anyone, get in his way.

Not this time.

* * *

If only he could just get his hands free…

The handcuffs locking Greevil’s hands behind his back was more irritating than anything he could think of at that moment. Struggling to get his hands free wasn’t going to do much good, though. The handcuffs were made of iron, and even as much as he wished he could, Greevil knew there was no way he could break them.

Even if he could get his hands free, what on earth was he going to do against four prison guards surrounding him? Greevil figured they would make him leave his cane behind. Though Greevil stood firmly by his belief that the guards had skulls as hard as rock, they weren’t as stupid as he previously thought.

Paranoid? Yes.

Completely brain-dead? Unfortunately for Greevil, no.

Greevil smiled wickedly as his imagination toyed with the thought of what would happen if he did have his cane with him. Smashing the cane into guard’s thick skulls and getting away from that damned prison once and for all… Greevil absorbed himself in the vivid images in his head to the point where time flew by him quicker than he could realize.

By the time Greevil’s mind snapped back to reality, he found himself in a familiar section of the facility. The guard behind him led him, or more appropriately, pushed him down the long hall with his hands firmly gripped on his shoulders. Within seconds, Greevil stood before the door that led to the room he hated most in the entire building. Greevil could picture himself running to the electric chair much easier than he could ever imagine wanting to go into the warden’s office.

Two of the guards stationed themselves on opposite sides of the doorway while the other two walked into the room with Greevil. Once inside, the two guards shut the door behind them and blocked Greevil’s only exit out of the office.

The first thing that Greevil noticed when he entered the room was Eldes standing next to him. Eldes quickly noticed Greevil too, acknowledging his presence with a slight nod in his direction. Greevil saw that Eldes was apparently in a much better mood. There wasn’t as much anger present in his face, and any that was present was probably due to the fact that Eldes hated the office as much as Greevil did.

The second thing that met Greevil’s eyes was a much less pleasing sight. The warden, who couldn’t be much older than Eldes, stared at Eldes and Greevil from across his cedar desk. His dark, jet black hair matched everything he thought about the two inmates to the very core. The warden wore a smile on his face, but it wasn’t the welcoming kind of smile. On the contrary, his smile was arrogant and looked like he was about to take the power he had over Eldes and Greevil and rub it in their faces.

“Haven’t seen you two in a while,” the warden spoke in false joy through a mock smile, “What has it been now? Two? Three weeks? That’s a new record for you!”

Greevil narrowed his eyes at the warden and realized the real reason he hated the office so much. It wasn’t the office itself he hated, just the person, whom by some miracle, got the right to work in it.

“I’ve heard from the guards that you two have been talking quite a bit to each other lately. A lot more than you used around here, they’ve said.” the warden changed his tone slightly to a more serious and suspicious one, but was still mocking.

So now I can’t even talk to my own son without you having a panic attack over it?!, Greevil first said in his head and then repeated it in an angry, hissing manner, to the warden. The warden scowled at him and stood up from his chair and all of the taunting looks he had on his face disappeared.

“I don’t know who the hell you think you’re talking to. If you’ve got any notion in that big head of yours that makes you think you’re better than me and gives you the right to talk to me like that, then I would get rid of it. Quickly.” the warden growled, suddenly completely serious.

“Think I’m better?!” Greevil laughed and blurted out without even thinking. It took a few seconds and Eldes’ eyes widening before Greevil realized what he said and that he might have just made a huge mistake on his part.

Greevil looked back at the warden and no doubt, did his expression grow furious. He took deep breaths and stared back at Greevil with eyes that looked like they were about to burst into flames, “Care to repeat that?”

After living in a prison for over a year and making several trips to the office over that span of time, Greevil got to know to the warden quite well. Even if it wasn’t in the way he would’ve preferred. After spending hour after hour putting up with him, Greevil knew that if the warden ever got angry, chances are he wasn’t going to cheer up anytime soon. So trying to cover himself and apologize wasn’t going to do Greevil any good, not that he would’ve apologized to the warden anyways. Nothing Greevil was going to say was going to calm the warden down. But there was so many things that Greevil could say that would anger the warden further, but would be so relieving to get off his chest.

“You’re so full of talk!” Greevil laughed and shook his head at the warden. The warden was obviously growing even more furious with Greevil, as his fists started to clench and his scowl tightened. Greevil’s eyes wandered slightly in Eldes’ direction and saw that Eldes was looking at him like he was a complete madman, “You’re always bragging about how much power you have to throw around. Power over what? The miniscule, not to mention pathetic, police force this wasteland has? Sure, there’s the guards around here, but I haven’t seen them do a damn thing except wave their guns and nightsticks around, saying how much they uphold the law!”

“And yet, this seems to be coming from Cipher’s Grand Master in handcuffs.” the warden struggled to calm himself down. But when he failed to do so, his words came out as growls.

“You have me, Eldes, and a few peons while the other big names of Cipher are running around scot-free! And the only reason me and Eldes are standing here putting up with you is because we turned ourselves in!” Greevil let the words that he wanted to say for so long flow out of his mouth without even processing them through his mind first, “Your police force is unable to arrest a couple of delinquent teenagers! How the hell do you expect to capture the real criminals waltzing around Orre?! As far as having a large amount of subordinates and making use of them, I don’t think I’ve done better than you. I know I’ve done better than you!”

When Greevil finally stopped talking, he saw Eldes cringe and step back slightly. Greevil wasn’t worried like Eldes, though. He knew that the chances that the warden was going to have a hissy fit and kill him was rather high. But if it meant not having to put up with the warden anymore, then Greevil really didn’t care.

The warden remained silent much longer than Greevil expected. Although the warden looked like he wanted to jam a knife into Greevil’s head, he didn’t move a muscle. Then, much to Greevil’s surprise, the warden laughed and sat back down in his chair, “Funny how something as simple as wondering what you two were talking about turns into this.”

The anger seemed to slowly drip out of the warden’s face. His usual taunting smile reappeared, but slightly different. The warden’s smile looked like something that Greevil would see in his own reflection, “You seem to be so confident that you can do better than me or my police force… Well tell you what. I’ll make a deal with you.”

Both Greevil and Eldes were surprised and shocked at what he just said. The warden? Making deals? With Greevil? Greevil could barely believe it and Eldes didn’t seem to believe it at all. But of course, when was the warden going to make a deal ever again? Despite being a bit suspicious and wary, Greevil quickly became interested, “I’m listening.”

“I’ll let you go free for a month. If you can capture anybody was a significant part of Cipher when it disbanded a year ago and bring them back here,” the warden paused and then gave a foxy grin, “you get to stay free.”

At merely hearing the warden say “free” and “stay free”, Greevil felt like he was immediately about to yell “Deal!”. The very thought of leaving the hellhole that was the prison and never going back excited Greevil more than he’s ever been before. And all he needed to do was grab anyone that worked for him and throw them at the warden? At that point in time, how could anyone give him a better offer?

But just as Greevil was about to take the offer without so much as mulling it over, he looked in Eldes’ direction and then was forced to think about it. Not even two feet away from was the man he forcibly separated from his family, and Greevil was thinking about taking the offer for himself? He didn’t expect Eldes to completely forgive him anytime soon, but at the very least, Greevil could make up for what he did, “Let Eldes go. Make the deal with him.”

Any color that was left in Eldes’ pale face was suddenly drained at Greevil’s words. His widened eyes seemed to show more shock than it did anything else, even gratefulness, “Wha… What?!”

The warden also looked surprised, but in a displeasing way. At first, he began groaning in annoyance, like he always would when he didn’t get his way. But after a few moments, he sighed and put back on his crafty smile again.

“Fine then. You,” the warden turned to Eldes before he could have a chance to speak and smirked, “You’ll leave here first thing tomorrow morning. So I’d get plenty of sleep, if I were you.”

After Eldes glared at him with narrowed eyes, the warden signaled to the two guards listening to the entire thing, “You can take them out now. I’m done with them.”

The two guards bowed their heads at the warden and motioned towards Eldes and Greevil. They took their hands locked behind their backs and led them out of the warden’s office, for what Greevil hoped, would be the last time for Eldes. After they met back up with the other guards waiting outside of the room, they proceeded to lead Greevil and Eldes back to their cells.

Greevil looked over at Eldes and failed to see a trace of pleasure in his worried eyes. Greevil would’ve imagined that Eldes would have been ecstatic that he had the chance to redeem himself, but he seemed more fearful than anything, “What on earth is that look for? Don’t you want to get out of here?”

“W…Well yes! But…” Eldes stuttered anxiously as if he had no clue what to say. Eldes moaned and hung his head, his voice matching the expression he wore on his face, “I don’t know about this… Father… You really shouldn’t have…”

“You’ll be fine,” Greevil interrupted Eldes before he could doubt himself even further. He then gave a reassuring smile to Eldes, a kind that he hasn’t given in a long time, “Besides, I’m not the one that has bonds to rebuild.”

Eldes opened his mouth to say something more, but he closed it and smiled back. The expression on his face became more positive, although it was still obvious by the somber look he showed that he was somehow worried.

The more Greevil saw the anxiety in Eldes, the more he began to blame himself for it more than anything. He couldn’t deny it any longer. Eldes would’ve been a much happier person if Greevil had just let go of the power he was obsessed over. Even Greevil was beginning to become sick to his stomach just thinking about it.

He wasn’t sure if anything he did for Eldes in the future would ever rekindle the bond they once had. Trust was hard to regain when someone shattered it before another’s very eyes. And Greevil knew extremely well himself that some things in life are just too hard to forget. But even if Greevil couldn’t build back up the trust that was destroyed between him and his son…

…perhaps Eldes at least had a chance rebuilding the trust between him and Michael.

Somehow… I get the feeling I screwed up royally on Greevil’s personality… But heh. Can you tell that Greevil’s not exactly all there in the head? XD

And if anyone can tell me what the warden was really trying to do to Greevil, and now Eldes, I’ll give you an uber-cookie. Because he certainly isn’t trying to help them out. :)

The Great Butler
7th April 2007, 5:21 AM
Was wondering where this was. Very, very good once again, and I think I know the answer to the riddle of the warden's intent.

He's going to let Eldes nab Ardos, then go back on the deal so he has them both.

7th April 2007, 5:29 AM
Good job here, Bluey-chan! ^_^

I'm not quite sure what the warden's trying to do. No, I haven't the slightest clue, and that was NOT sarcasm. Go me.

As good as this is, I do have a small crit: In the prologue, you said Eldes' eyes were green. Now you say they're yellow. So now I'm not quite sure and I'm imagining one of his eyes green and the other yellow.

This is still pretty good, though. Can't wait for the next chapter!

7th April 2007, 12:47 PM

He's going to let Eldes nab Ardos, then go back on the deal so he has them both.

Bwahaha. Nope. (Although that is a good guess)

Think about it. The warden doesn't like Eldes or Greevil at all. Eldes + hot, dry, desert + loads of people that also hate him + a very, very large amount of criminals that have no problem hurting somebody they don't like...

Hmm. I think I just made it a bit obvious. :p


As good as this is, I do have a small crit: In the prologue, you said Eldes' eyes were green. Now you say they're yellow. So now I'm not quite sure and I'm imagining one of his eyes green and the other yellow.

Y'know, after a few hours trying to get to sleep last night, I remembered that and was like, "Aw, crap!" *not exact wording* Sorry, that was my stupid mistake and is exactly why I should wait until the morning to post chapters instead of late at night. XD

So, I think I'm gonna go back and edit the prologue to make his eyes yellow, like I meant to do last night, since I can imagine them yellow much more than I can green. :p

7th April 2007, 4:44 PM
Think about it. The warden doesn't like Eldes or Greevil at all. Eldes + hot, dry, desert + loads of people that also hate him + a very, very large amount of criminals that have no problem hurting somebody they don't like...

Hmm. I think I just made it a bit obvious. :p

I think I know now.

The warden wants Eldes to go into the desert where he will either get very dangerously dehydrated/die of starvation or get slaughtered by the many ebil d00ds in the desert. Methinks there will be a killing scene sometime in the fic . . . involving Eldes. I'm not sure whether Eldes will kill or get killed, but I think it'll be one of the two. Dog eat dog. Kill or be killed. That's how it is . . . in Orre's desert.


Y'know, after a few hours trying to get to sleep last night, I remembered that and was like, "Aw, crap!" *not exact wording* Sorry, that was my stupid mistake and is exactly why I should wait until the morning to post chapters instead of late at night. XD

So, I think I'm gonna go back and edit the prologue to make his eyes yellow, like I meant to do last night, since I can imagine them yellow much more than I can green. :p

Yeah, I hate when that happens, too. Yellow? Weird, I've always thought that Eldes' eyes were blue and Ardos' were red. Yanno, for the whole YinYang thing. So yeah. Onion rings.

8th April 2007, 4:07 PM

The warden wants Eldes to go into the desert where he will either get very dangerously dehydrated/die of starvation or get slaughtered by the many ebil d00ds in the desert. Methinks there will be a killing scene sometime in the fic . . . involving Eldes. I'm not sure whether Eldes will kill or get killed, but I think it'll be one of the two. Dog eat dog. Kill or be killed. That's how it is . . . in Orre's desert.

You, my friend...

Are pretty much correct. *uber-cookie*

Of course, the warden orignally intended this for Greevil, since he hates Greevil more than he does Eldes, although he hates him too. But as long as he could get rid of one of the most powerful former Cipher members once and for all, then its no skin off his back.

Eldes figured that out imeddiately. That's why he was so nervous and anxious when Greevil basically turned the job over to him. Greevil, on the other hand, was so caught up in just the thought of leaving the prison that he didn't see that. Of course, the fact that his mind was a little screwed up, as made a bit obvious, also contributed to his poor judgement.

Also, I want to mention that I'm well aware that I take such a long time to update. Because of that, I think people's memories might have gone poof and forgot this thing ever existed. XD So I think it might be a good idea if I start a PM list, so people will know when the fic has been updated and such. If you want to be on the PM list, just ask me and I'll put you on. ^_^

17th April 2007, 8:24 PM
Eldeslicious, definition: make them fangirls go crazy. XD

Bluey finished a chapter.

A little more than a week after she posted the previous chapter...


...I think the apocalypse is upon us. :p

Chapter Four: Smoke and Mirrors

Ten… Eleven… Twelve… Thirteen… Fourteen… Fifteen.

This couldn’t be right…

Terran groaned and held the list closer to his face. He recounted each Shadow Pokemon carefully, making sure not to count one twice or leave one out. But it came out to the same result. Fifteen…


“FIFTEEN?! GOD DAMMIT!” Terran exploded with anger, throwing the list and a stack of papers off his desk. He buried his head in his head and desperately tried to calm himself down before he knocked the entire desk over.

Failure after failure after failure. Was there anything Terran could do half-way right? No matter what he did or how hard he tried to do it; there seemed to be no pleasing Ardos. If he was so worried about the lack of Pokemon to be shadowfied, why doesn't he just get off his lazy bottom and get more himself?

Terran was truly starting to regret the day he was practically on his knees begging Ardos to let him become an admin of the new Cipher. After years of flying under the radar while the other commanders got all the attention, he finally got the chance to prove himself useful. But as Terran found every time he'd have to give a progress report to Ardos, begging for the position just came back to bite him. Sick of the constant criticism from Ardos, Terran almost didn't want to talk to him altogether. Sometimes he thought that maybe life would be a lot easier if Ardos just stripped him of the position and gave it to someone else. Then, he wouldn't have to be the one that was struggling to meet every one of Ardos' impossibly high expectations. Being a peon at that moment didn't sound too bad to Terran at that time.

The other side of Terran disagreed with him, though. Perhaps all he needed to get back on his feet was to push himself harder. But then again, how much harder could Terran push himself before he reaches the breaking point? And even then, the breaking point seemed to be in plain sight.

A knock at his electronic steel door suddenly interrupted Terran's thoughts and caused him to speak frustratingly, “Yeah, come in.”

The door slid open and revealed a peon, clad in the same structure of armor as the old peon suits were, but was colored black instead of white. The ribbon-like bandana was still a part of the outfit, but had changed from scarlet to a deep blue.

“Terran sir! I...” the peon began by saluting to Terran and straightening his posture. But at the sight of dozens of papers sprawled across the crimson carpet in front of Terran’s desk, the peon paused and stuttered, “I... err... came to inform you that we succeeded in making another Shadow Pokemon.”

“Great! Just great! One more Shadow Pokemon! Why don’t I call up Ardos now and tell him? I’m sure he’ll just be delighted!” Terran threw his arms up in the air and growled through his teeth, causing the peon to back up closer to the exit.

Terran groaned loudly and spun his swivel chair so his back was facing the peon. He lifted his head and stared at the stone ceiling above him. Somehow, he needed to think of a way to get more Shadow Pokemon if he didn't want to face Ardos' anger again, "We need to get more Pokemon... but how?"

"Well... I, uh, was also going to mention that a couple peons just came back with six Pokemon," the peon, whom much to Terran's surprise hadn't left the room, awkwardly continued, "And besides, there are plenty of wild Pokemon we could use."

"Six Pokemon isn't going to make Ardos much happier," Terran mumbled glumly and crossed his arms, "And the wild Pokemon around these parts can't battle for crap. Even if we made them into Shadows, I still doubt they'd be able to hold their own against trained Pokemon. If we tried training them beforehand, Ardos would still have a fit about out progress long before we'd get done with them."

Terran hated having to shoot down possible solutions, especially when they involved a problem he was struggling with. He closed his earth-colored eyes and tried to brainstorm other solutions.

Ardos said something about using Terran's own Pokemon for Shadowfication. But he quickly crossed that possibility out. No. Just no. If Terran was ever going to consider Shadowfying the Pokemon he's trained since he was ten years old, it would be as a last resort only.

Terran's first choice of eligible Shadow Pokemon were ones that were already trained and strong. But that would mean taking them from trainers. And after two Shadow Pokemon incidents, they were beginning to get a lot more cautious. Teaching the peons how to steal effectively and not get caught would be too time consuming. And it wasn't like Terran, or anyone around him, knew how to take Pokemon from trainers anyways.

He needed someone who was good at thievery, but who? Team Snagem was definitely out of the question. The moment they'd even get a glimpse of Cipher's faces, they'd slash open their throats and leave the bodies for the Murkrows. Things were bad enough as it was. Terran didn't need it to get any worse.

Come on, think. There had to be someone out there that could solve Terran's problems. Crime wasn't too prevalent in the area around Terran. But back in Orre, the crime rate couldn't be any phenomenally higher. And most of it consisted of robberies. Going back to Orre to look for help may be risky, but if Terran couldn’t take risks, how could he expect to get anywhere in life?

Maybe my solution isn’t as far away from Cipher as I think. Terran had a farfetched thought at first, but it soon blossomed into what could possibly be the idea that could solve everything. Terran spun back around in his chair and opened up his gray laptop sitting on his desk. After waiting for what seemed like forever just for the old laptop to turn on and warm up, Terran began searching through Cipher’s database. Eventually, he found himself in Cipher’s old archives that must’ve been sitting there for over five years, collecting virtual dust. Information about admins and other members that haven't been part of Cipher for the longest time was everywhere. Terran scanned through the biographies of each member until he found what he was looking for. Perfect.

Terran smirked with satisfaction for the first time that day, or all week for that matter. He looked up from his laptop and to his astonishment again, the peon hadn't moved a muscle, "You're still here?"

"You never dismissed me..." the peon reminded Terran exactly how much he was caught up in his thoughts.

"Well... don't leave just yet," Terran told his peon as he right-clicked an image on the laptop and selected the "Print" option. He got out of his chair and walked over to the printer sitting in the corner of the room. After waiting for another few minutes for the printer to start up, it clanked and whirred inside of it as it shook violently. Just before Terran was about to yank the printer out of the wall and toss it out the nearest window, the printer spat out the paper with the image on it. Terran grabbed the paper and handed it to the peon, "You know who this is?"

The peon took the picture from Terran and examined it. It didn't take long for him to recognize the face on the picture. Even behind the black visor shielding his eyes, Terran could see that they were wide and looked like they were about to pop out of his head, "But... But sir! This is..."

"Yeah, I know who that is!" Terran interrupted the peon sharply, "I was asking you a simple yes or no question!"

"Uh, yeah. I know him." the peon answered meekly.

"Good. Now listen up," Terran quickly ran the instructions he was about to give through his head. He needed to make sure his orders were clear and thorough. He simply couldn’t screw up, “From what I could gather, he was last seen around Gateon Port. Search around there first before you look anywhere else. When you find him, contact me and bring him to Citadark Isle, where I‘ll be waiting. And for the love of Mew, make sure you don’t get yourself caught. Clear?”

“Crystal, sir!” the peon shouted affirmatively as he saluted and straightened his posture.

“Great! You can leave now.” Terran dismissed the peon, feeling rather confident for once. But after the peon bowed his head and left the room, a sudden feeling of paranoia and anxiety struck Terran. Even as much as he wanted to trust that his idea would work, he couldn’t help but having the notion that something would go wrong. Horribly wrong.

No. No. I can’t think like that. Terran shook his head, trying to force the idea out of him. But despite how much he tried, the stressing notion kept coming back to him. Moaning, Terran sulked over to the nearest wall and slumped back against it, holding his hand against his forehead. This needs to work... it just has to work...

About ten minutes was spent drowning in Terran’s own stress and worries. Only after those minutes passed did he bother to move away from the wall. It was then Terran finally noticed the pile of papers on the floor that he knocked off his desk an hour earlier. Sighing, he strode over to the papers, gathered them, and placed them back on his desk.

* * *

Eldes hated nights like those.

Which meant he hated all nights.

There was nothing but insomnia left and right. He seemed to be completely unable to fall asleep, despite his futile efforts to drift off. Hour after hour passed by as Eldes spent most of the night staring at the waning moon outside his barred window.

And even if he could fall asleep and refresh his exhausted body and mental state, would the emotional torture that would be sure to follow be worth it? If it wasn't the insomnia that slowly sapped away his energy; it was the nightmares that tormented him and left him terrified of everything when he would wake up. He didn't know which to hate more, the insomnia or the nightmares. But in the meantime, he just hated both equally.

Eldes dragged himself away from the window and fell back onto his cot. He reached for the sheet and pulled it over his entire body, shielding himself from the frigid air. Anyone looking in Eldes' cell would spot a lump in the middle of the cot tossing and turning, refusing to stay still.

While one instinct told him to close his eyes while another told him not to; Eldes was absorbed with the events that took place earlier. Eldes couldn't find it in himself to hate Greevil, but he truly began to wonder how much sanity he had left. The warden's real, malicious plan stuck out clearly to Eldes, but couldn't Greevil see that? Eldes knew his father probably meant well, but he quickly became nervous about his rash actions. Eldes shuddered to think about what would happen to him and if he'd live to tell about it.

Eldes rolled over on his stomach and buried his face in his pillow. He tried to derive positive things from the mission he was forcibly given. On one hand, there would be no more dank and miserable jail cells he'd have to spend every accursed night in. And there would be no more dealing with every complaint that would shoot out of the warden's mouth.

Then there was Michael.

As much as Eldes wanted to think positively of the fact that he could see Michael again, a plethora of worries began to swarm his head. Michael didn't like Eldes when he was still part of Cipher and Eldes started to believe those feelings haven't changed. Even if he could find the courage to tell Michael who he really was, Eldes doubted anything would change. Michael would still hate him even if he told the truth. But even though Eldes couldn't hide the truth forever, those torment-filled thoughts just made him want to put it off even longer.

Eldes got himself in a comfortable sleeping position and decided to take the advice that Greevil gave to him earlier. Don't think about sleep. He shut his heavy eyelids and tried as best as he could to keep his mind clear of sleep itself or anything troubling. With as blank a conscience as could make it, he succumbed to sleep and allowed his tired being to drift off...

"You! Get up!"

...until one of the prison guards interrupted him. Figures.

The prison guard slid open the barred doors, not even making an effort to be quiet. The clanking of the door forced Eldes out of the ball he was curled up in and made him sit up. Eldes wearily glanced over to the guard and got the notion that he was getting impatient already. He forced himself to stand, despite his tired, worn-out muscles begging him not to.

Just as Eldes began to head out of his cell for what he knew would probably be the last time, he suddenly remembered something. The moment the guard took his eyes off Eldes, he quickly reached under the thin mattress, pulled the photograph out, and slid it under his neck collar.

As Eldes left his cell, he instinctively held his hands behind his back. The guard clasped the cold handcuffs around his hands, like he had done so many times before. The guard forced Eldes to walk down the long hall. The unbearable, seemly infinite hall. Eldes had made walks down that path countless other times, but that one seemed... different.

Eldes may have been the one feeling it, but he wasn't sure what to make of the enigma of a sensation that suddenly struck him. It was rather odd. He could feel so many positive emotions, but just as many negative ones at the same time. So many emotions that were polar opposites of each other were intertwining inside a hazy soup of confusion. They jumped out at Eldes, forcing him to feel things that were like water and oil at the same time. Confusion and knowing. Anger and joy. Fear and courage. Why? Why was he feeling such things that pained his mind just at the mere thought of them happening.

In the midst of the mental haze, Eldes realized. Realized the possibility that he could be rebuilding one bond while breaking another simultaneously.

Before Eldes knew it, he found himself standing in front of the warden. Both men, with their hands behind their backs, exchanged disdainful glares between each other. The warden snickered under his breath and gave a smirk, a smirk that Eldes grew familiar with throughout his life.

"Put these on," the warden took his hands out from behind his back and threw something at Eldes out of the blue as soon as his handcuffs were taken off. Still half-asleep, Eldes barely got a grip on the soft object and almost let it drop to the floor, "Just leave your prison clothes in the bathroom. I'll deal with them later."

Although Eldes had a fairly good idea what he was holding, he looked down at it anyways. Sure enough, the old red and gray-patterned robe he wore as a Cipher Admin was sitting folded in his hands. As his hands felt the silky cloth, they also felt something hard inside it. Eldes peeked in between the layers of his folded robe and found his black shades sitting there.

Eldes lifted his head and looked at the warden irately. The warden didn't reply to Eldes' realization of the game he was playing with words, but rather, with a malicious smile. Before he entered the bathroom next to him, Eldes gave an annoyed scowl, something that was rare for him to do.

* * *

Eldes didn't bother folding his prison clothes back up. Instead, he simply tossed them in the top of one of the bathroom stall doors. Any other time, Eldes might've taken the time to fold them. But at that moment, Eldes barely had the motivation or enthusiasm to stand on his own two feet, let alone do anything else.

As he stood and examined himself, Eldes did have to admit that it felt nice to be wearing something comfortable for once. The gray prison clothes that were hanging on the stall door was the exact opposite of comfortable. Hot and tight, Eldes wouldn't have minded throwing the clothes into a garbage bin.

Eldes walked over to the bathroom counter, where his folded-up photograph was sitting. As Eldes was searching his robe for the non-existent pocket he could put it in, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. After gazing at his reflection, Eldes took his photograph, unfolded it, and compared the two images. Between the photograph that was taken many years prior and the reflection he saw at that moment, Eldes was easily able to spot several differences. Perhaps too many obvious differences. His skin was considerably paler as opposed to the tan face in the picture. His eyes in the past were lively and awake; Eldes saw a pair of bloodshot eyes with black circles underneath them staring back at him in the mirror. But most of all, the picture showed a joyful man without a worry in the world. The mirror showed a cold, emotionless husk with more worries than he could handle.

Eldes moaned with disgust and clamped his eyes shut. Unable to bear the sight of someone he didn't even recognize, Eldes put his shades on, stuck the photograph back down his neck collar and left the bathroom.

"Let's get going, already!" the warden griped impatiently when Eldes was barely out of the bathroom.

The warden proceeded to leave the building and the guard forced Eldes to follow. But Eldes insisted on keeping a slow pace, giving him enough time to speak up before they were out of the building, "What about my Pokemon?"

Stopping dead in his tracks, the warden turned his head and narrowed his eyes at Eldes, "What about them?"

"Don't I get to use them during my 'mission'?" Eldes asked the warden as casually and innocently as possible.

"Oh, you can do fine without them, can't you?" the warden laughed and smiled, doing a bad job of hiding the oncoming anger.

"But what if somebody I'm about to capture uses their Pokemon? I can't battle them with my bare hands." Eldes countered the warden and for a split second, showed a smirk himself before quickly getting rid of it.

The defeated look on the warden's face quickly transformed into an enraged scowl. He spun around and stomped rapidly in Eldes' direction. At first, Eldes thought that the warden was going to take his hands and grasp Eldes' neck until he suffocated to death. But instead, the warden brushed right past Eldes and stormed into an storage room. A few seconds later, the warden stormed back out, clenching two Poke Balls in his hands. After practically pushing the Poke Balls into Eldes' chest, the warden continued on his path, emitting a furious feeling.

As he and the prison guard struggled to keep up with the warden's speeding pace, Eldes checked the bottoms of the half-red, half-white balls. Just like he expected, Eldes saw his name written on the Poke Balls with marker ink that was faded. The writing on one of the Poke Balls was rather messy, and looked like it had been scribbled. The other, although slightly neater, also showed signs of bad handwriting. Smiling weakly at the reminders of the moments he shared with his Flygon and Ninjask since he was a child, Eldes latched his Poke Balls on his belt, feeling slightly more confident.

Once outside the prison, Eldes crossed his arms and held them firmly against his chest. The sun was only just starting to rise, meaning that the air was still freezing cold. Every breath that Eldes took froze in the air and made itself visible before his eyes.

When the warden led Eldes outside the prison gates, he could see a shiny white van sitting in the parking lot with the driver waiting next to it. The van may have not been new, but it was certainly well taken care of. The exterior was clean, polished, and lacking any dents as opposed to the other vehicles parked nearby. As Eldes got closer to the van, he could see that the interior was also orderly and lacked any damage.

"Get in!" the warden ordered Eldes bitterly, obviously still angry from before.

Eldes reluctantly, but almost gladly at the same time, opened the van door and sat down on the soft seat. As soon as Eldes shut the door behind him, he spotted the warden walking over to the driver. Eldes could hear the warden talking, but it was impossible for Eldes to make out a word he was saying.

But it wasn't long before Eldes lost his concern over what the warden was saying. The seat he was in was so comfortable, a lot more comfortable than anything else he had to sit on in the prison. Eldes laid back in the seat and soon found himself drifting off. The opening and closing of a pair of doors, as well as the engine starting up, were the last things that Eldes heard before his mind disconnected itself from the physical surroundings.

* * *

The shopkeeper paced back and forth, observing each crate carefully. Each berry was with the others of its own kind. The Oran berries were with the other Oran berries and not the Pecha's. The Aspears were neatly placed in a row next to each other with no Cheri's mixed in.

The shopkeeper stepped back and gazed upon the rainbow of berries in the new section of his store. Completely satisfied with the perfection of it all, a wide smile spread across his face.

Who would've guessed that it would come to this? Transforming from a tiny shop in Gateon Port into the largest Poke Mart in all of Orre was simply mind baffling. And all in a matter of a year, no less. Now, the shopkeeper was about to witness first-hand the unveiling of a new, groundbreaking feature in his own shop. His shop... his shop would become the first inner-city Poke Mart to offer berries as a part of the shop's selection.

He happily strode over to the cash register and absorbed himself in the joyful thought. Finally, after working so hard to achieve everything his shop had earned, he was going even further than the top. It seemed like each and every one of the shopkeeper's dreams was becoming a reality.

All of a sudden, the shopkeeper spotted a gray blur out of the corner of his eye. The shopkeeper turned his head towards the direction the blur was heading, and it sped towards the brand-new berry section. He followed the blur, tiptoeing silently, but swiftly. Once he had come to the entrance to the section, he hid behind the nearest wall and peered into the room.

With the cross-bones mark on the back of its cloak-like body, there was doubt about the species of the blur. The Duskull hovered above the crates scanning each berry with its single, glowing, red eye. After a few seconds of observation, the Duskull swooped down jubilantly to the crate of Rawst berries and proceeded to shove them under its skull-shaped mask.

"Hey!" the shopkeeper yelled out, not about to let a thieving Pokemon devour all of his berries.

The Duskull turned around slightly, not appearing to be threatened by the shopkeeper. The ghost Pokemon continued to feast on the abundance of berries even as the shopkeeper got few up and charged at it. Only when the shopkeeper was a mere few feet away from it did the Duskull stop eating, grab a handful of berries, and float straight over the shopkeeper's head.

The shopkeeper halted himself just in time to avoid crashing head-on into the crates. Taking a quick second to catch his breath, the shopkeeper spun around to find the Duskull hovering at the room's entrances, just waiting. It swung itself back and forth in mid-air in a taunting manner. The Duskull let the shopkeeper get close to it again before it swooped out of reach and then fazed through the shop walls out into the street.

The shopkeeper dashed to the exit and flung open the door. The Duskull was waiting for him again, gradually munching on the berries it held in its arms. For a considerable length of time, the Duskull played its predictable game with the shopkeeper until it led him out of the market district.

The shopkeeper could barely keep moving on his legs anymore. While the shopkeeper continuously chased the Duskull that was always moving slightly faster, the Duskull was simply toying around with him. The shopkeeper, become exhausted, stopped running and took a moment to catch his breath. The Duskull also paused, using the free time to snack on the last few stolen berries.

"H...Hey, come on! Stop... stop eating those!" the shopkeeper gasped for air as he struggled to catch his breath.

Once again, the Duskull remained indifferent to the shopkeeper's threats. Shoving down most of the remaining berries, the Duskull took the very last one and wrapped the end of its flimsy, cloth-like arm around it. It flung back its arm and lobbed the hard Rawst berry at the shopkeeper, hitting his forehead with a bonk. As the shopkeeper shouted out in pain and held his hand against the area of impact, the Duskull seemed to be laughing at him. The Duskull turned itself upside-down in the air and waved its arms in a teasing manner.

Finally losing his temper, the shopkeeper took what energy he had left and rushed at the Duskull. Not even waiting for the shopkeeper to get close to it, the Duskull made a sharp turn into an alley nearby. The shopkeeper followed the slowing-down Duskull, hoping that he might just be able to catch it.

But out of nowhere, something sticky struck the side of his face. The shopkeeper wiped off a bit of the substance with his fingers and examined it. It was clear and stringy, having small droplets of some sort of liquid oozing down it.

The shopkeeper turned towards the source of the substance, only to be bombarded with another round of it directly in his face. Shouting in disgust, the shopkeeper was forced to move backwards until he hit the wall. When the sticky string ceased shooting at him, the shopkeeper opened his eyes and glared at the culprit.

The lime-green spider clung to the wall across from the shopkeeper where he couldn't reach it. The Spinarak, squeaking high-pitched growls at the shopkeeper, raised its smiley-face marked abdomen at him. It shot its natural silk at him again, this time gluing one of the shopkeeper's arms against the wall.

As the shopkeeper tried to pry his arm off the wall with his free hand, the Duskull and Spinarak fell into a fit of laughter watching his plight. Once the Duskull gathered itself, it plucked its partner in crime off the wall. The shopkeeper was forced to watch helplessly as the two Pokemon floated away and made their escape.

By the time the shopkeeper freed his arm from the wall, the Duskull and Spinarak were already out of sight. Sighing, the shopkeeper let go of his anger towards them. Probably just a couple of wild Pokemon looking for food, that's all. Besides, it was just a few berries.

The shopkeeper sulked back to his shop, wiping the Spinarak's silk off his face with his apron. The shop was going to open in just a few hours; he couldn't open up with his face and arm covered with silk. Once he got back to his shop, the shopkeeper would have to wash up quickly. And then perhaps get in touch with some Pokemon Rangers. Maybe they could find the Duskull and Spinarak and put them in a wildlife reserve.

When the shopkeeper reached his shop and entered it, a chilling feeling ran down his spine. It felt empty, somehow. As if something was missing. Something just felt wrong. The shopkeeper strode over to the new berry section. His face turned white at what he saw.

Or rather, what he didn't see.

Shattered shards of glass that were once part of a window above and broken crates littered the tiled floor. The shopkeeper searched frantically in the crates that were still intact. But not the smallest berry remained in any of them. Every last berry that he owned just ten minutes prior was gone. All gone. This time, it seemed like each and every one of his nightmares was becoming a reality.

That's when he realized the truth about the Duskull and Spinarak. They weren't wild Pokemon at all.


They were trained by somebody else.

* * *

"Hey! You!"


"Get up!"

"Mmm... no..."

Eldes turned his body, slightly adjusting his sleeping position. He was so absorbed in the sleep he rarely got that it took him a while before he realized who he had just disobeyed an order to.

"Yes! Get up! NOW!"

Eldes abruptly woke himself up and straightened his posture. He found himself staring straight into the warden's annoyed eyes. The warden dropped his annoyance for a moment in order to speak to Eldes without screaming at him, "Now listen up. Remember that you got a month, or the deal's off. And don't even think about leaving Orre. I don't want to have to deal with you and trust me; you don't want to have to deal with me either."

For once, the warden spoke words of truth.

Eldes quickly reached for the door handle, as the van wasn't in motion and had obviously reached the destination. Before Eldes got out of the van, the warden smirked at him one last time, "Have fun."

Eldes wasted no time in exiting the van and shutting the door behind him. When Eldes was barely out of the van, it sped off, throwing a cloud of exhaust gas at him. He quickly covered his mouth and nose with his hands and clamped his eyes shut. When the gas cleared, Eldes slowly opened his eyes and observed his surroundings.

His heart sank and became overwhelmed by fear when he realized where he was.

Gateon Port.

Directly in the center of the city.

The weather was mild and the sun was barely up, but the heat that his nervous body gave off made him sweat nevertheless. From all around him Eldes could spot numerous glares in the crowded area all directed at him. Every contemptuous whisper that Eldes' ears could pick up forced him to breathe harder and shakier.

"Isn't that guy a Cipher Admin?!"

"I thought he was arrested a year ago!"

"He has a lot of nerve showing his face around here!"

"Do you think he's responsible for that robbery that happened earlier this morning?"

Eldes couldn't take it anymore, even though he had only been exposed to the hatred for a short period of time. Eldes knew he wouldn't last ten minutes if he stayed in the city. He need to find some way out immediately.

Instinct took over Eldes' actions. He slowly made his way north, anxiously keeping an eye on everyone he passed. It was practically impossible to avoid the spiteful stares. He would have to withstand them while trudging forward. All he could do was keep moving and hope that he could make it out of the city.

Eldes found that his pace was beginning to speed up the longer he remained in the city. Even though time was passing through his mind slowly, it didn't take long before the number of people around him began to decrease. Eventually, as the city's exit was in sight, Eldes' slow, nervous pace turned into a full-fledged run.

Before long, Eldes was no longer surrounded by people that despised him, but by a forest of evergreen trees. He looked behind him, seeing that he was completely out of Gateon Port and its people were no where near him. Eldes knew that he wasn't completely out of danger yet. He continued with his anxious pace until he couldn't see Gateon Port anymore.

Once Gateon Port was completely out of his sight, Eldes slouched against a tree and finally got the chance to relax. He had made it. Gateon Port was behind him and he no longer had anything to fear from its citizens. At last, Eldes could sit under the cool shade of a tree and listen to the sounds of the forest. He could finally lose himself in the sweet songs of birds and the calm running of a nearby stream after being withdrawn from them for so long...

...Eldes wanted to kick himself for thinking such things.

How could he engross himself in fantasies about relaxation and safety when he was still immersed in danger? Anyone at that very moment could've snuck up behind him and sink a dagger through his head. He may have been out of Gateon Port, but he certainly wasn't out of danger. And as long as his feet was on Orre soil, he never would be.

Eldes glanced down at his waist and stared at the two Poke Balls at his belt. Smiling weakly, he unlatched the Poke Balls and held them in his hands. You two are my only hope.

Eldes placed one Poke Ball in each hand and pressed the buttons in the middles of them. The ruby energy that escaped from the balls quickly took form into the only real friends Eldes had in the world.

The energy that escaped from one Poke Ball shaped into his oldest Pokemon. The large, majestic dragon was a bright, breathtaking green color around most of his body. His tail alternated between bright and dark green before ending with what resembled a scaly fan. Two dark green antennae-like protrusions grew between the round, red shields around his eyes. Sprouting out of the Flygon's back were two lime-colored, red-lined, diamond-shaped wings. The wings were rather flimsy and looked like parts of the edges were clawed out.

Eldes' second Pokemon was much smaller and younger. The insect had mainly yellow, black, and gray exoskeleton. Her ruby eyes were placed far apart from each other, giving her a wide range of vision. The Ninjask's back legs were small and stumpy, but her front arms were long, sharp, and perfect for slashing things. She hovered in the air awkwardly, relying on her left, clear wings with a pattern of red triangles on the edges. Her other wing was mostly charred black and flapped gingerly.

At the sight of their trainer, the Flygon and Ninjask squealed joyfully and dashed over to Eldes. The Flygon curled up next to Eldes and nuzzled his face, while the Ninjask perched on his shoulder and buzzed happily. By the sounds of the soft, but excited, sounds that his Pokemon were making, Eldes could tell that they couldn't have more ecstatic at that time.

Eldes chuckled and held his hand against the Flygon’s head and gently rubbed his smooth scales, “I missed you, Dasn.”

When the Ninjask screeched shortly, Eldes laughed again and used his other hand to scratch under her chin, “You too, Ria.”

With the company of his two loyal Pokemon, Eldes felt less tensed up. As Dasn and Ria stayed right next to Eldes, not letting an inch of his skin leave contact, Eldes began to retell the events of the past year to them. Eldes paused several times in his tale, both to collect himself and dry his eyes. But never once did Dasn or Ria interrupt or judge Eldes, even when he told of his most shameful times. They just sat there. Sat there and listened. Eldes wasn’t just revealing himself to some extent like he would to certain other people. He was revealing himself to the full extent.

Eldes barely finished talking when he started to become drowsy again. Feeling secure for once that day, Eldes fell asleep and counted his blessings.

* * *

After an hour or so of one of his guards doing the driving, the pine forest was behind the warden and he entered the desert. As he watched the sand dunes go by him, the warden smiled at his own devious plan. Even with his Flygon and Ninjask, the warden was sure that Eldes wouldn’t last for more than a few days. It would be one less Cipher Admin that he or Orre would have to bother with.

“Um, sir?” the driver interrupted the warden’s train of thought.


“What if that Cipher Admin tries to leave Orre anyways?” the driver apparently had just thought up a potential flaw, judging by the tone of his worried voice. The warden, however, didn’t seem to be worried.

“He won’t get too far,” the warden laughed, calm and confident as ever. When the driver still had a blank look on his face, the warden grinned, “I planted a tracking device in his robe and sunglasses.”

Heheh. I'm actually quite shocked myself that I managed to not be lazy for once and finish a chapter at a reasonable date. XD I think I few things kinda contributed to that. One, I have vacation right now, so I have more than enough time to work on the fic. And two, since D/P's release is this Sunday, I wanted to get as much as I can done before I start neglecting the computer altogether starting Sunday. :p

Also, please spare a thought for those affected in the Virginia Tech. shootings.

17th April 2007, 10:52 PM
Aw, poor Eldes, the prison dudes watching is every mooooooove. LET'S ALL MOO LIKE COWS! MOOOOOOOOOO!

Anyway, this was very good, as usual. You have plenty of punctuation errors, and a few grammar mistakes, but you did good aside from that.

I'll be looking forward to more!

And as I said in our PM conversation, I am indeed very shocked at how quickly you posted the chapter.

18th April 2007, 12:46 AM

Aw, poor Eldes, the prison dudes watching is every mooooooove. LET'S ALL MOO LIKE COWS! MOOOOOOOOOO!

Moo? XD

Eh, sorta. The tracking device can't spy on him in the sense that the warden can see everything Eldes sees. It just shows Eldes' location. Heh. I think that's what you meant, though. ^_^; But anyways, in other words, if Eldes leaves the Orre region, the warden can hunt him down and things won't look too pleasant for poor Eldy-kins. XD *inside joke*

And as I said in our PM conversation, I am indeed very shocked at how quickly you posted the chapter.

I'm still trying to convince myself that I managed to post it within a reasonable time range. XD But boy... did it ever take a lot of writing. x_X Ten hours at the very least.

...Now if only I could do that all the time... XD

The Great Butler
18th April 2007, 4:01 AM
Really good, again! Things are starting to pick up.....though I am wondering who Terran's "idea" is about...

19th April 2007, 2:35 AM

Really good, again! Things are starting to pick up.....though I am wondering who Terran's "idea" is about...

'Bout time it got into an actual plot, eh? XD Heheh. That's what happens when I spend two chapters talking 'bout flashbacks. :p

Heheh. Trust me. The person who Terran's idea will involve will make itself glaringly obvious when you meet the first two characters that appear next chapter. ;)

19th April 2007, 3:27 AM
Heheh. Trust me. The person who Terran's idea will involve will make itself glaringly obvious when you meet the first two characters that appear next chapter. ;)

I think I know who the man in Terran's idea is.

I have guesses of three men. One, Folly. Two, Trudly. Three, Miror B. I know you like Trudly and Folly quite a bit, and you said TWO characters. Plus, Miror B. has much to with them, hence my third guess.

Just my guesses, really. Sorry about the spammy post of death.

7th June 2007, 1:11 AM
My Eldes brings all the n00bs to the boards, and they're like, "1T's B3TT3RU THN URS!!11"

^Good god, I hate that song. XD

I have to say that this one was pretty damn hard to write at some points, but also a bit fun as well. Still, I can't shake off the feeling that I messed up on this one. =_=

Be warned, as this chapter contains some strong swearing.

Chapter Five: Echo

For some people, watching the ocean sunrise was one of the most serene sights in the world. The way the sun's reflection rippled as the gentle waves made its way towards the shore and how the light made the water sparkled could be considered breathtaking to some.

To others, however, it was just another boring thing in the world that made them wonder what the big fuss was about.

He had walked down the edge of the beach more times than he could count. As he sped up his pace, the less the sand being pulled by the receding waves made him feel like he was being dragged into the ocean. He didn’t have time to stop and gaze into what he thought was just a big ball of fire that kept things from being cold all the time. Luck was never on his side. If he stopped to look at such a trivial thing, there was no doubt that someone would catch him.

Apparently, not everybody was so serious.

As he gradually walked faster, the fainter the sound behind him became. He moaned, bracing himself for the speech he’d have to give every time he went through this. Just as he expected, the blond, spiky-haired incarnation of naïveté was lagging behind him, observing something in the sand. His friend bent down, and dug through the sand until he found what he was looking for and plucked it out of the ground. He lifted his round blue shades and took his sweet time in examining the object, possibly not even caring that the police might have been on his trail.

“Dammit Folly! Keep up, will ya?” he yelled to his friend, knowing that it would probably fall on deaf ears.

To his surprise, Folly perked his head up in a matter of seconds. Gathering the plethora of objects he held against his chest, Folly clumsily stood up and ran to his friend, struggling to keep the objects from falling.

When Folly was close enough to his friend that he could feel his breath on his face, he yelled, “Trudly!” Trudly threw his head back at the sudden scream ringing in his ears, but Folly didn’t seem to think much of it. Instead, he shot expectant looks at Trudly and the pile back and forth.

“Seashells?” Trudly said awkwardly, staring at the assortment of shells in Folly’s arms. None of the shells were similar; each of them were distinctly different. While Folly’s cerulean eyes sparkled with child-like wonder at the rainbow of shells, both in color and structure, Trudly couldn’t be anymore bored with them.

Folly began to move his arm, but he quickly moved it back into place when the shells started to tumble out. Instead, he jerked his head back in the direction he just came from. “Found ‘em!”

“No kiddin’,” Trudly retorted, holding back his impatience as best as he could. But he was unable to keep it inside any longer and the volume of his voice shot up, “Folly, c’mon! Stop wastin’ time ‘n throw ‘em ‘way!”

“Throw ‘em ‘way?” Folly echoed with a slight, but growing, hint of irritation.

“Ya got nuff junk layin’ ‘round in dat packrat pile of yers!” Trudly, beginning to lose his temper, turned around slightly, signaling Folly to keep walking. But although Trudly just wanted to get back home without any issues, he knew Folly was going to drag it out as long as he could. And the two brown sacks Trudly held on his shoulders wasn’t getting any less heavy during the time they stood around.

As Trudly turned around even further, he heard a loud, vibrating moan coming from Folly. Out of the corner of his eye, Trudly saw Folly literally throw the shells away into the ground. Leaving the group of shells jutting out of the wet sand, he dragged his feet through the mud and followed Trudly grudgingly.

Trudly rolled his brown eyes behind his red, hexagonal sunglasses, not concerned with Folly’s attitude. It didn’t come to much of a surprise to him. Whenever Folly didn’t get his way, he’d always put on the same act. Stomping behind Trudly with his arms folded and face scowling. When they were younger, it was somewhat believable. Nearly thirteen years later, it was just old.

Trudly knew to ignore Folly’s tantrum. And just like expected, the pair of foot steps behind him grew closer and calmer before long. Eventually, Trudly glanced over to his left and saw Folly right next to him. His arms hung beside his thin body and his head was slightly lifted off the ground. Occasionally, he would look over in Trudly’s direction and give a minute grin, replacing the rapidly ebbing away frustration.

Trudly found as he returned the smile that he couldn’t stay mad at Folly for very long either.

Further down the sandy beach path, the sacks that Trudly held grew unbearably uncomfortable. His breath was becoming short and heavy the longer they rested on his shoulders. Unable to take the excruciating pain any longer, Trudly paused for what was supposed to be a brief moment and set the sacks down.

That was when Folly blurted out the stupidest thing Trudly had heard all morning, “Those heavy?”

Mouth agape and eyebrows cocked, Trudly stared at Folly almost disbelieving at what he just said, but still not very surprised. Trudly replied in the only fashion he knew how to respond to such idiotic comments: rudely, “No! Not at all!”

“Oh,” Folly said simply, adding another entry into the list of gullible moments that Trudly stored in his head. Folly stared at the sacks for a good amount of time, his face becoming a little less believing. “Look kinda heavy.”

Trudly counted the seconds in his head. Approximately three minutes. That was a new record for Folly. “Well geez! Of course they’re heavy!”

“Just said it wasn’t! Not at all!” Folly squealed, his face flooding with confusion.

“I was bein’ sarcastic, ya idiot!” Trudly growled through his teeth, holding his hand to his forehead, “Good Mew, Folly! How long have ya known me for?!”

“Dunno. Since six?” Folly ignored the fact that Trudly had just insulted him and answered his rhetorical question. Staring at the two bags beside Trudly, Folly inched closer to them, extending his arms slightly. “Carry those?”

“No!” Trudly groaned as he picked up the bags and threw them over his shoulders. It barely took a second for the aching to back and shoot through his body again.

“No?” Folly began the same act again, crossing his arms and scowling. Trudly tried to tell himself not to fall for it, but the weight on his shoulders was simply painful.

Although he tried his best to ignore the pain, Trudly grunted and moaned as he spoke, “If I give ya one of ‘ese bags, you’ll do what ya always do! You’ll start eatin’ ‘em ‘n then you’ll start complainin’ dat yer hungry and we don’t have ‘nuff food!”

“Won’t eat ‘em! Please, Trudly? Please? Wanna help out. Just a lil’ bit.” Folly begged, looking like he was about to fall to his knees and clasp his hands together.

Trudly understood that Folly wanted to help him out. But why he was so willing to carry those behemoths was completely beyond him. As much as Trudly knew better than to let Folly get his way with such things, the stabbing pain forced him to cave in, “All right! Fine!” Trudly loosened his grip on one of the bags, letting it drop to the ground. Almost immediately, the pain on the shoulder it used to rest on slipped away, feeling a lot more free and comfortable. “Now ya listen up, Folly. Ya ‘member what I told ya, got it?”

“Got it!” Folly dashed over to the bag on the ground. Enthusiastic over carrying a painful load of weight. Trudly sometimes didn’t understand Folly, and he knew that probably never would.

The very moment that Folly heaved the bag up and landed it on his shoulders, a loud, “Ow!” escaped his mouth. Trudly hated shiny trinkets that everyone in society seemed to obsess over, but he really wished he had a watch at that moment. Just to see exactly how long it would take Folly to start running his mouth.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Folly’s tirade of complaints to begin.

“Trudly! Really heavy! Really hurts, too. Much longer ‘til home? Getting’ kinda tired. Lotta berries in ‘ere. Any Aspears? Hate Aspears! Hate ’em! Take a break? Please? Dis sucks…”

Trudly would’ve loved it if a vicious sea Pokemon jumped out of the waves and ripped his ears off. Anything to shut the complaints out of his head. He sped up his pace, wanting to get back home as quickly as possible so Folly would shut up.

After about another half hour regretting giving that bag to Folly, Trudly could see a small opening in the cliffs that lined the beach. The opening was much bigger than it looked, however. It was partially covered by a makeshift rock wall. They were a bit taller than either Trudly or Folly. The boulders were carefully aligned and was made sure that there was as few gaps in the wall as possible. Another set of rocks were piled next to each other to create a stone staircase leading into the cave.

“…Always steal the heavy berries. Never the light ones. Should steal the light berries. Really should…” Folly ran his mouth endlessly with his eyes on the ground. If Trudly hadn’t stepped him, Folly would’ve walked straight into the wall without even taking a breath to stop talking for a moment.

“Ya can shuttup now, Folly!” Trudly hollered as he climbed the stone staircase.

“Huh?” Folly was suddenly broken out of his talkative state. He swiveled his head around, like he had no clue where he was. His eyes fell upon the staircase and after muttering, “Oh”, he made his way up them.

On the other side of the wall was another staircase. Trudly bother using it, though. He’d use that staircase when he wanted to leave the cave, but he figured using them at that moment would’ve been redundant when he could just throw his bag down and jump off the wall instead.

The cave was dark, dank, and gloomy, but Trudly didn’t look for comfort when he looked for a place to live. If it hid them from the rain and the authorities, then that was all that mattered. Trudly couldn’t care less that the place stank to the point where it felt like the odor was going to burn off his nose. The cave was numbingly cold, but that’s what blankets were for.

The only thing about the cave that Trudly griped about was the fact that a small colony of Zubats loved to make it an obligation to do their business directly above his head. Trudly could remember the first time that happened clearly. It didn’t seem like it was that long ago, but it had been a little over a year. It was in the early evening at that time. It was light enough that Trudly and Folly could see what was going on, but dark enough that the nocturnal Zubats were becoming active. When the colony was leaving the cave, Trudly made the huge mistake of lifting his head and looking up at them. That’s when one of the smaller Zubats swooped a few feet above Trudly and excreted into his face.

While Trudly was screaming every curse in his colorful vocabulary at the vermin and wiping off the excretions that was oozing all over his face, Folly burst into a fit of laughter. Trudly could’ve sworn that the continuous laughter was either going to kill Folly, or make him explode into a million pieces. Folly’s hysteria didn’t do much good for Trudly’s temper and he ending up yelling, “Yeah, yer laughin’ now! But jus’ ya wait ‘til one of ‘ose god damn things sh*ts in yer face!” at him.

In the present, Trudly regretting yelling at Folly in such a manner. That was the last time Trudly heard Folly laugh like that. Or at all.

While Trudly was absorbed in memories, he heard a whoosh above him. Instinct took over his actions and forced him to jump away from the spot he was in. Moments after jumped away, the other sack slammed into the ground right were Trudly was just standing. Staring at the bag, Trudly could barely hear himself shout over his heartbeat, “FOLLY!”

Folly peered over the wall, not looking guilty, apologetic, or anything along those lines. His face looked like it always did, straight, yet clueless. Folly’s expression didn’t lose its naïveté even when Trudly’s boiling anger was just as obvious as if he flashed a neon sign describing it. “What da hell’s wrong with ya?! Ya nearly flattened me with dat damn thing!”

“Did da same thing…” Folly mumbled, picking up just a slight hint of Trudly’s frustration.

“Well at least I look first ‘fore I smash somebody!” Trudly growled as he grabbed the two bags and threw them against the cave wall. As usual, Folly didn’t seem to take much of it in. Instead of apologizing that he could’ve just snapped his best friend’s spinal cord in half, Folly clumsily tried to balance himself on the stone wall and then casually walked down the staircase.

As Trudly shook his head, he suddenly felt a sequence of thin legs crawl up his back. To anybody else, especially Folly, the sensation would’ve made them scream, scratch whatever’s on their back, and flail their arms wildly. Trudly, however, just laughed under his breath and grinned, “Yeah, I know dat’s you back ’ere, Spitz!”

The legs traveled up Trudly’s back at an even faster rate as their owner gave a cheerful, high-pitched screech. Trudly’s shoulder stung in pain when even his Spinarak’s six light legs touched it, but he quickly got over it. Spitz delicately bit the skin on Trudly’s face with her tiny mandibles. Trudly owned Spitz for many years, and knew that the pinch was a sign of affection, but it still felt odd and a little painful.

Immediately after Trudly was greeted by Spitz, his other Pokemon came bolting out of the darkness. He almost blended in with the cave’s shadows, being a mostly dark colored Pokemon. If it wasn’t for his glowing red eye swaying back and forth, Trudly wouldn’t have seen the Duskull coming and would have had the living daylights jumped out of him.

Spook certainly earned his named that way. Trudly thought it was the best name in the world when he gave it to his Duskull. But now he realized that his name-giving abilities when he was a small child were horrendous.

Spook glided through the air like a Seel though water, swerving all around Trudly. He finally rested on Trudly’s vacant shoulder, making him clench his teeth in pain again for a moment.

“Ya guys did good today,” Trudly complimented his Pokemon, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in his shoulders. As his Pokemon squealed in delight, Trudly chuckled under his breath and strode over to the two sacks, “Yeah, jus’ a sec. I…”

After Trudly untied the string sealing the sack shut, he was interrupted when he opened it and laid his eyes upon what he called, “The Two Little Pink Balls of Constant Annoyance”. And lo and behold, they were sitting on top of the berries, shoving as much as they could into their big mouths with their stubby hands. Right in front of Trudly, no less. Only when Trudly cleared his throat did they notice him. Even though Trudly considered both of them incredibly stupid, the one he thought of as smarter pulled her long, pink, yellow-tipped ears over her cross-shaped eyes and abruptly dropped the berries. The other one continued on his merry way eating the berries. After a while, he looked up at Trudly innocently while tilting his head, or rather, his entire body. “Whisma?”

Like Pokemon like trainer.

Trudly plucked the two Whismur out of the sack, spun around, and glared at Folly sternly, “‘Ese yers?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Folly nodded his head, once again answering a rhetorical question like it was a normal one.

He took the two Whismur, flinching slightly when they climbed up his body. The female Whismur knew well enough to leave Trudly alone, preferably by getting out of his sight, and hid behind Folly’s neck. The male one climbed on top of Folly’s head and sat there, hanging on to the red-dyed strands of hair. Trudly could’ve sworn that while the male Whismur was riding on Folly’s head like a Ponyta, he was sticking his tiny tongue out at him. Trudly thought that the Whismur was lucky to be alive. Anyone else would’ve ripped that thing apart at that moment.

Trudly glanced over to Spitz and Spook, who were staring at the sack that Folly didn’t drag across the cave with him. Trudly held the sack shut, giving Spitz and Spook expectant looks of his own. “Hey, c’mon. Ya guys know da drill.”

On the cue, Spitz crawled off Trudly’s back and sped up to her web hanging in the cave’s entrance. Spook also left Trudly’s shoulder and glided over to the opposite side of the cave, almost invisible in the shadows.

Trudly reached into the bag and picked out a handful of Rawst berries. He examined them in his hands, noticing that the roughly triangular berries were more rounded, plump, and greener than usual. The ones he usually wound up with were skinny, small, and had nearly nothing in them. Trudly hated Rawst berries to begin with, though. They were just too bitter for his taste. Every time he gave them a chance and bite into one, the bitterness made him gag and feel like his taste buds had died. Folly hated them even worse. Like the Aspear berries, Folly would avoid them like the plague, even if his stomach was as vacant as his head. Spitz and Spook adored Rawst berries, however. Tired of waiting for him, they screeched impatiently at Trudly from opposite sides of the cave.

“Yeah, yeah! Jus’ a sec!” Trudly shouted, silencing the two Pokemon. Trudly grabbed one Rawst berry from his right hand and clenched it in his left. “Yer first, Spitz!”

As Trudly heard Spook moan behind him, Spitz positioned herself firmly on her web. Trudly dropped his hand, heaved it back up, and threw the Rawst berry in the air. Spitz raised her abdomen and shot a string of silk at the berry, connecting with it. After Trudly dodged the falling berry, Spitz pulled it to her with her two front feet. Once the Rawst berry was within reach, Spitz snapped the strand in half with her mandibles and used the rest of the silk to wrap up the berry. She then attached the sticky berry to her web and resumed staring at Trudly.

Trudly smirked and move the remaining berries into his left hand. He tossed the berries slightly in the air as Spitz watched them in deep concentration. Trudly then threw the handful of berries upwards. Spitz reacted immediately, shooting a spray of silk at them. Each strand of silk connected with the berries, but Spitz struggled to hold the berries and keep herself attached to her web at the same time. Her middle and back set of legs gripped the web tightly as she gingerly pulled each strand to her. After each berry was wrapped and stuck to the web, Spitz relaxed her muscles and hung onto the web loosely.

She’s getting better, Trudly, impressed, looked upon the knots of Spinarak silk in the flimsy, fragile-looking web. He stood in thought for a moment before bending down and picking up a rock from the sandy ground. Trudly whistled to get Spitz’s attention and showed her the rock, “Break dis rock with a Signal Beam, and I’ll give ya a few extra berries, ‘kay?”

Spitz squeaked and put herself back into position. Spitz closed her black eyes and fell into an even deeper state of concentration. Just as Trudly threw the rock into the air, Spitz opened her eyes and the horn on her head glowed furiously. When the rock reached as far into the air as it could go, a pair of red and blue laser beams shot from the tip of Spitz’s horn. The beams sped towards the rock, swerving around each other, faster than Trudly’s eyes could keep up with them. They exploded in a brilliant flash of red and blue sparks, illuminating the entire cave. But instead of shattering the rock, the beams made it crack slightly and sent it flying deeper into the cave.

Within moments, Trudly suddenly heard Folly cry out in pain. Trudly spun around and saw Folly holding his hands against his forehead. His eyelids quivered as they were shut tightly and Trudly could hear a whimpering moan coming from him. When Folly opened his watery eyes, he reached for the rock that just struck him, flung his arm back, and glared right at Spitz.

“Drop it!” Trudly quickly shouted at Folly, causing him to abruptly release his hand and drop the rock to the ground. Trudly realized that his tone of voice might’ve been a bit too harsh, but he didn’t think about it at first. That sharp tone had become instinct to him, since he’d use it every time Folly was about to do something painful or stupid. Or both.

Folly didn’t seem to be bothered by Trudly’s tone, however. He probably wouldn’t have noticed it anyways, even if his attention wasn’t on the pain in his forehead.

Trudly walked over to Folly and bent down, “Folly,” Trudly got his attention with a much softer tone, so Folly wouldn’t be surprised and have a panic attack when he found out that somebody was physically close to him. When Folly glanced over slightly to him, Trudly said, “Lemme see it. Lift ya hand up,” and did as he was told. Trudly moved his own hand towards Folly’s forehead, careful not to be too quick. But Folly still flinched and gasped shortly when Trudly’s hand touched him.

Trudly carefully slid his hand up Folly’s forehead, moving his sunny blond hair out of the way. He saw a small cut there, nothing that anyone else would dramatize over. It was bleeding a little, but certainly not an amount to worry over. Trudly didn’t bother yelling at Folly, though. Not only was he sick of yelling for one day, but he knew better than to shout at Folly at that moment, “Ain’t too bad of a cut. Jus’ keep da pressure on it and when it scabs over, don’t pick at it.”

“Pressure. Scabs over, don’t pick at it.” Folly sniffed as he put his hand back on his forehead, trusting Trudly’s words. His Whismur didn’t seem to believe that Folly was alright, though. They were clinging to him tightly and whimpering like his head had been split open.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it. It was jus’ an accident...,” Trudly stood up and reassured Folly before turning back around to Spitz, “...which won’t happen again!”

Spitz gave out a moaning screech as she crawled up her web even further. She was almost on the ceiling when she stopped moving and hung her head, ashamed.

Trudly then gave a moan of his own. He probably shouldn’t have tried to make Spitz use Signal Beam around Folly anyways. When Folly was nearby, all sorts of accidents were prone to happen.

Trudly approached Spook, who was sound asleep on the worn out blankets that Trudly and Folly used. There was no doubt that Spook got bored and tired of waiting. The Duskull only needed to be bored for a minute before he’d doze off. Chances were that Spook missed out on all the drama, so Trudly woke him up with a whistle and filled him in. Afterwards, Trudly pointed behind him with his thumb, urging Spook to get up. “Yer turn. Ya be careful not to hit anybody, ‘kay?

Spook groggily lifted himself in the air and floated to the middle of the cave. He hung in the air tiredly and looked like half of his mind was still sleeping.

Trudly reached into the bag of berries again and pulled out another handful of Rawst berries. Like before, he tossed the first berry straight up in the air. Spook held both of his flimsy arms out and surrounded himself with a light blue aura. The berry froze in the air as it was also enveloped in the blue aura. Spook pulled his arms back and at the same time, the levitating berry was being pulled to him. Once the berry was close enough to Spook that he could grab it, he took it and shoved it under his skull mask. Spook twirled around in the air, his way of showing joy. He suddenly looked more motivated and hungry for more berries.

Replying to Spook’s desires, Trudly grinned and continued throwing the berries and having Spook catch each of them with the psychic energy. Catching berries that were near him, even multiple ones, wasn’t too hard for Spook. The only berry-catching exercise that proved somewhat difficult for Spook was the one where Trudly tossed the Rawst berry behind him. It took Spook a considerable amount of time to pull the berry to him from such a distance.

When the berries in Trudly’s hand were all gone, he dug through the bag in search of more. “Think ya can pull off a Will-o-Wisp?”

Spook unconfidently shook his head and backed up. Trudly had to admit, Spook could do a Will-o-Wisp as good as Spitz could do a Signal Beam. Knowing the way his luck goes, accidents usually happened in succession of each other. And Trudly could just picture the entire cave bursting into flames perfectly. “On second thought, how ‘bout ya try dat later?” Trudly could hear the loud sigh of relief coming from Spook like he wasn’t yards away from him.

After he watched Spook glide back over to his sleeping spot, Trudly looked over in Folly’s direction. His Whismur were still attached to him like leeches. And when one of the parasites cried out, Folly handed them one of the berries in the bag next to him. Spitz and Spook noticed that as well, and were glaring at the two Whismur grudgingly. While Spitz and Spook worked for their food, Folly’s pampered Pokemon didn’t even have to make an effort to lift their stubby hands. Even Trudly grew a bit irritated at Folly spoiling the Whismur. “Why don’t ya eva’ train ‘ose Whismur?”

Folly perked his head slightly, his way of acknowledging that someone was talking to him, rather than looking at them. For a while, Folly sat there muttering unintelligibly to himself. At first, Trudly could make out what Folly was saying. But as Trudly listened more carefully, he heard Folly repeating the question he was just asked to himself before answering, “Whis ‘n Mur don’t like battlin’”

Whis and Mur. Trudly really had no right to say his name-giving abilities were downright awful when Folly’s was ten times worse. Granted, like Trudly, Folly named his Pokemon when he was still a small child. But Trudly would’ve thought that he could have come up with something more creative than Whis and Mur.

“Don’t have to be for battling’,” Trudly sat down next to Folly and reached into the bag, “Y’know how Spitz ‘n Spook bought us some time by distractin’ dat idiot of a shopkeeper dis morning’? Train ‘em to do what they did,” As Trudly pulled a Cheri berry out of the bag and began picking off the poisonous leaves, he laughed dryly under his breath, “Shouldn’t be too hard for ‘em. They’re naturals at distractin’ people.”

“Don’t gotta train ‘em then.” Folly counted Trudly as he stuffed a handful of Pecha berries into his mouth.

Trudly raised his eyebrow at Folly as he bit into the round, red Cheri berry. He had to let the surge of spiciness that made his mouth feel hot die off before he could get any words out of his mouth, “How do ya figure?”

Folly stared at the floor for a long moment. He muttered under his breath again, spitting out pink chunks of Pecha berries in the process. It was well after Folly chewed and swallowed all the berries he crammed into his mouth before he finally spoke up, “Naturals. Don’t gotta train ‘em. Already know.”

“Yeah, well…” Trudly started talking, but then paused as he became at loss for words. He stammered several syllables, but was unable to put together complete words. Trudly just couldn’t come up with a good comeback. He hated it when Folly caught him in a dead end in an argument.

But at the same time, he admired him for it.

* * *

The one thing Trudly hated more than anything, even more than Rawst berries, was when people hoarded the most useless things. For that reason, he despised going into any big city. He’d always walk by massive, extravagant mansions that flaunted the owner’s wealth in every way possible. And the majority of the decorations sitting outside of them had no purpose other than to rub it in other people’s faces.

Statues had a dual purpose unlike other decorations, however. One was to say indirectly, “I’m richer than you, so I’m a better person”, and the other was to be wrecked and watch the owner’s priceless expression.

Trudly could remember when he and Folly lived in a small port town many years ago. They didn’t stay there very long, so there wasn’t much about it that he could remember clearly. The one thing that involved the town that Trudly could recall was when a large, brand-new stone statue was put up in front of a swanky mansion. Trudly didn’t know exactly what the statue was supposed to be, but he assumed it was some kind of Pokemon. It looked like some sort of water bird, having a sleek body and a thin, delicate beak. On top of its head was an odd ornament that resembled two conjoined crescent moons. It’s tiny paw-like hands were held against its chest where its heart was supposed to be. Attached to its back and hands was what appeared to be rings that would be circling some far-off planet. Folly whispered to Trudly, saying that he thought it was “pretty”. But Trudly just snorted and said that it was stupid to make such a big fuss over a hunk of rock.

And that was just what the new owner of the rock did. The wealthy, well-dressed man complimented the sculptor next to him with a multitude of long, fancy words that probably didn’t make any sense at all. The new owner, in Trudly’s perspective, was acting like the rock was his newborn child. Trudly’s face scrunched up and his teeth clenched when the new owner pulled out several huge wads of money that had to be held together with rubber bands.

Just as the wads were handed to the sculptor, a massive swarm of distressed Pokemon, some that weren’t even native to the area, burst out of the forest behind them at top speed. A panicking Skuntank charged at them, screeching and bushing out its already bristly purple and beige tail. It seemed completely blind to any obstacles, as it leapt straight at the statue and smashed into the head.

As the head fell to the concrete ground and shattered into several broken pieces, Trudly exploded into a fit of hysteric laughter. The then former owner looked down on his precious, crushed rock with an agape mouth and furious eyes. He then spun around to Trudly, told him to shut up and called him a “rude child”. Trudly, however, just kept right on laughing and swore at the man, causing his jaw to drop even more.

Both of them were suddenly silenced when an ear-shattering explosion boomed in the air. Shock waves swept through the town, shattering every window in its path. Mixed in with the shock waves were giant tremors that shook the buildings and caused all the people to struggle to stay on their feet.

Folly had always been jumpy. Even the slightest physical contact by someone he didn’t know or like made him flinch and shout. When the sudden explosion, shock waves, and tremors came, Folly just went into a state of panic. He burst into tears, starting screaming at the top of his lungs, and bolted off away from Trudly and everyone else's.

Trudly chased after Folly throughout the town, yelling his name as he went. It was nighttime when Trudly found Folly huddled alone in the corner of an abandoned warehouse, still crying. The very moment Trudly made himself known, Folly began hurling rocks at him as if he didn’t know or care that Trudly was his friend and not somebody that was going to hurt him. Trudly stayed with Folly even though flying rocks were assaulting him.

What became even more heartbreaking to Trudly was just looking at Folly. From what Trudly could see with limited light, Folly’s entire face was soaked with sweat, looking like he had just come out of a marathon. Folly was acting like he had come out of one, as well; his breath was short and rapid. Just looking at Folly’s body anxiously trembling and his crazed, manic eyes, made Trudly burst into tears himself.

Folly began to trust Trudly and regain his sanity by the next morning. In a weeks time, the city was starting to make a recovery as well. Most of it, that was. When Trudly and Folly passed by the slum district, he saw several shacks that were owned by people that couldn’t afford real homes toppled to the ground. Such a sight was depressing to begin with. But it was even more depressing for Trudly to know that he and Folly weren’t the only ones that were struggling to live.

Yet, only footsteps away from the slum district was the part of the city where the people that lived there could swim in their own money. The windows that were shattered by the shock waves were replaced and the walls that were cracked by the tremors were patched up. Even that useless hunk of rock from the week before was repaired.

Trudly’s anger and hatred for that town boiled to the point were he simply stormed out of the city, Folly following him without a complaint. But no matter where they’d go, Trudly always ran into selfish moneybags that hoarded all their useless possessions while other people right under their raised noses were starving on the streets.

Ironically, Trudly lived with a hoarder every day.

The things that Folly’s packratting instincts picked up certainly weren’t valuable as far as money went. But they were still useless all the same. A huge pile of miscellaneous items half as tall as Trudly stood across from him. Rocks, wilted flowers, litter found on the beach, and driftwood were just among the items sitting idly there. Anything that looked even remotely new to Folly wound up in that pile. And no matter what Trudly would say to convince him to get rid of all those things, Folly would just reply, “Might need ‘em later.” Yet, Folly still had yet to come up with a good use for the majority of those items.

Trudly glanced over beside him and saw that Folly was fast asleep. His Whismur were sleeping as well. Mur, the male Whismur, had ever attempted to cover himself up with Folly’s long, untidy hair. Looking around, Trudly noticed that he was the only one that was awake. Spook was still in the spot he was in about an hour earlier and Spitz was napping in the center of her web.

The timing was perfect, but Trudly still sat in place for a while. After mulling it over, Trudly reluctantly got up and silently walked over to where Folly’s pile was. Next to it was a minute pile in comparison which contained what few possessions Trudly had. One of them was what was supposed to be a fishing pole, but was really nothing more than a stick that had a string and hook tied to it. Trudly picked up the stick and the small plastic container next to it and headed for the cave’s exit.

As he climbed up the stairs as quietly as he could, he heard Spitz overhead stirring in her sleep. The Spinarak awoke and stared down at Trudly from her web. She let out a confused screech, but was quickly silenced by Trudly, “I ain’t gonna be long. Don’t wake Folly up, ‘kay?”

When Spitz nodded her head, Trudly nodded back and jumped off the wall. Immediately after he left the cool shade, the high sun began to beat down on him. The thick, humid air forced Trudly to gasp for breath. Even when the shade was right behind, Trudly pressed on along the scorching beach.

Trudly hated to leave the cave behind, however. It wasn’t because of the heat, though. After living in the inferno that was called Orre for nearly six years, he had gotten used to the hot weather. Of course, that still didn’t mean he liked it.

The pangs of guilt stemmed from leaving Folly alone in that cave. Trudly almost wanted to turn back, but he knew that Folly had the largest fits when he was woken up against his will. Then Folly would spend the entire fishing trip chattering about the most stupid things and complaining about how much he was bored. Trudly’s concentration and patience would shatter and he wouldn’t be able to catch a thing. Ironically, Folly was the one who would always gripe about how they rarely ate anything but berries. Without Folly, however, things got incredibly lonesome. The feeling got heavier as he walked further away from the cave. As usual, it was a situation where Trudly couldn’t win either way.


7th June 2007, 1:21 AM
Eventually, Trudly came to a part of the beach where the sand was replaced with a field of large, black rocks. As he climbed on top of them, Trudly could spot several indentations and gaps in the rocks that were filled with water. The tiny tide pools were filled with small, bright colored mollusks clinging to the sides of the rocks. Trudly left them alone, since he learned from experience that those kinds of shellfish tasted nasty and caused a horrible stomachache.

Trudly sat on the edge of a rock slightly above the ocean and placed his equipment next to him. Trudly’s holed boots met the water when he sat down, so he decided to take them off. The gentle waves splashing his bare feet did feel good and provided some relief against the summer heat.

Trudly opened up the plastic container next to him. He pulled out a soft, yellow cube and stuck it onto the hook after he unraveled the string wrapped around the stick. The bait smelled awful and probably tasted awful as well, but the fish loved it for some reason.

Trudly cast out the line and the dullness immediately set in. The bait sat in the tranquil water without so much as a baby Magikarp nibbling at it. The entire time was spent pulling the line back in, casting it out again, and waiting. Pull, cast, wait. Pull, cast, wait.

As he yawned, Trudly’s eyes wandered in search for something interesting to occupy his mind. A Wingull gliding the cloudless sky, a Wailmer surfacing to breathe, anything.

This was why Trudly preferred lakes to the sea. The lakes he had been to always had something interesting swimming beneath him. The ocean was just too big and everything was spread out far away from each other. To find anything in the ocean, Trudly would have to go miles into it. If there wasn’t anything in a lake at a particular moment, there was sure to be something in the lush, surrounding woods. But still, the majority of the time, there were actually fish that would bite.

Trudly recast the line frustratingly and caught a glimpse of his reflection in a nearby tide pool. Trudly knew that anybody who saw him, with the exception of Folly, would say that he was an incredibly disgusting-looking person. Just about everything about Trudly's appearance was filthy. He had dirt caked between his long fingernails and on every square inch of his skin. His blond hair was greasy and tangled, which came from not having contact with a brush for so long.

His clothes were equally filthy. Trudly's gray, baggy jeans had several holes in them and had dried mud attached to the bottoms of the legs. His orange vest and black t-shirt was dappled with berry stains. The red sunglasses that rested in front of Trudly's eyes were scratched up on the lenses. The dark-blue hat that had two rounded, white-striped nubs opposite of each other, which Trudly guessed was supposed to resemble Umbreon ears, was falling apart.

The filth that covered Trudly from head to toe had apparently brought a nose-burning stench with it. Neither Trudly nor Folly paid much attention to it, since they lived with the odor every day. But other people could smell it a mile away. Trudly would always see nearby people gagging and holding their noses. Trudly wasn't concerned with their disgust with him, though. Trudly stopped caring what other people thought of him a long time ago.

Folly seemed to be a bit different, though. He didn't care about what the general public thought of him either, but for someone who didn't own a bar of soup to his name, he was awfully obsessive about hygiene. Trudly would often see him picking out the dirt under his fingernails multiple times a day. Almost regularly, Folly would go out into the ocean as far as he could go and still touch bottom and start washing the dirt off him. It wasn't unusual for Folly to spend hours cleaning himself. It was like he felt the need to remove every grain of sand attached to his body. And chances were that Folly would just get dirty again within five minutes.

Trudly scowled and yanked in his line. He wrapped the line around the stick, grabbed bait container, and stood up, giving up on catching anything. What the hell did I expect? This entire region is a lifeless wasteland!

He didn't even bother putting his boots back on. It was getting even warmer outside, so Trudly decided to keep them off until he reached the burning-hot sand. Instead, he tied their laces tightly around the stick and held it behind him as he walked back to the cave. His bare, wet feet made the journey across the rocks slippery. Before long, Trudly wished he had worn his boots. Especially when his foot slipped into a small gap in the rocks.

Before Trudly could pull his foot out, he felt a sharp, stabbing pain. Screaming, he pulled his foot out of the gap and found a Krabby hanging onto it by the tips of its large red pincer. Trudly shook his foot frantically, but the irritated crab didn't plan on letting go. As a matter of fact, the Krabby tried to swing itself into a position where its other snapping pincer could get a hold of Trudly's other foot.

When simply shaking his foot in a panicked manner didn’t work, Trudly resorted to swinging the Krabby at the rock wall beside him. At first, the Krabby didn’t seem to be fazed. But after several more times of being banged against solid rock, causing its spiky shell to crack slightly, the Krabby finally released its claw. The Krabby fell to the ground and tottered back and forth, struggling to keep standing on its six, thin feet.

While the Krabby was still dazed and confused, Trudly took the chance to make his getaway. As his heart was racing, he ran across the rocks as fast as he could on an injured foot. Once Trudly reached the sand, he sat down and checked the damage. The Krabby’s claw had created a bleeding cut on the sole and top of his foot. Anxiety swept over Trudly, fearing that he’ll lose too much blood by the time he’d get back to the cave. With his mind focused on getting the wound patched up, Trudly stood back up. His injured foot gingerly stood on its toes while most of Trudly’s balance was in his other. Touching the cut spread a stabbing pain throughout his foot and Trudly would’ve rather not get sand in his wound.

Just as Trudly began to limp back to the cave, he spotted a red blur in the corner of his eye. He turned his head around and saw the enraged Krabby scuttling sideways straight towards him. Trudly yelled, “What da hell?!” and tried to outrun the Krabby, but his injury slowed him down. The Krabby caught up to him and began snapping its claws and spitting bubbles from under its lower, tan part of its shell. The tiny clear bubbles were forced out of the Krabby’s foaming mouth and assaulted Trudly. Trudly’s skin felt like it was burning as the acidic bubbles barraged it.

The bubbles forced Trudly to stumble backwards. Each time his injured foot hit the sandy ground, a wave of pain surged through it. Gritting his teeth, Trudly kicked red-tinted sand at the Krabby with his other foot once he regained his balance. When that didn’t work, Trudly grabbed anything on the ground within reach and flung them at the furious Pokemon. But even so, the Krabby still advanced toward him faster than he could get away.

Trudly crammed his hand into his right pocket, frantically searching for something else to throw at the Krabby. His hand met something cold and round, about the size of an Oran berry from what his sense of touch could tell. He pulled out the object, an old, minimized Poke Ball. Trudly had completely forgotten that he left the Poke Ball in his pocket, or that he had any left at all. Thinking quickly, he pressed the button in the middle with his thumb, expanding it to a size where in barely fit in his palm. He hurled the Poke Ball at the Krabby, converting it into red energy and sucked it in, and dashed off.

The idea of standing around to watch how many times the ball would twitch didn’t appeal much to Trudly or his bleeding foot at that moment. He limped toward the cave that was now in sight as fast as he could. He hoped that the Poke Ball could stall the Krabby long enough so he could get inside the cave. Then Spitz and Spook could take care of it if it was still intent on its pursuit.

When no cloud of acid bubbles struck his skin and the sound of claws clicking together was absent, Trudly turned his head around. The Poke Ball was sitting there motionlessly, letting the soft breeze blow grains of white sand over it. The salty air grew quiet; the only sounds that Trudly could hear was his own breath and heartbeat. Did I... actually catch something?

At first, Trudly thought that he was dreaming. But if that was so, the sharp pain in his foot would’ve woken him up long before then. Even so, the fact that Trudly captured a wild Pokemon seemed unreal. Before that, every single attempt to catch a Pokemon in his entire life ended up in failure.

One instinct told Trudly to run over and grab the Poke Ball, but another told him to get back to the cave. He could always go back and get it later when his wound was patched up. But what if the wind picked up and buried the Poke Ball, making it so Trudly wouldn’t be able to find it? Or what if somebody came along and took it? On the other hand, what if he took too long to stumble over to retrieve it and lose too much blood? Then Trudly wouldn’t get out with either his life or the Krabby.

Trudly really hated dilemmas like those.

Feeling like he was taking a huge chance, Trudly quickly dashed to the Poke Ball. Not even bothering to stuff it in his pocket, Trudly sped back towards the cave. His heart gradually stopped banging in his ears and his breath became easier as he reached the stone wall, still conscious. Even though he gingerly and carefully walked up the stairs, Trudly slipped when he reached the top. He tumbled off the wall and shouted when his back hit the ground.

Trudly’s shout wasn’t very loud, but it still made Folly wake up with a gasp. He flailed around for a moment before forcing himself to sit up, causing Mur to tumble off of his head and into his lap. Folly looked in Trudly’s direction and scowled. He set Mur down next to Whis beside him and laid back down, his back facing Trudly.

“Geez... sorry ‘bout dat,” Trudly moaned as he stood up and balanced himself, rubbing his back with his hand, “Good Mew, ya were still asleep?!”

“Was!" Folly snapped loudly and angrily at Trudly.

“Smart ***,” Trudly muttered under his breath. He knew he probably should’ve left Folly be at that moment and show him the Krabby’s Poke Ball later. But he figured if he did, Folly would be asking him why he didn’t show him earlier. Trudly sat down next to Folly and held out the Poke Ball, “Hey. Check dis out.”

Folly rolled over, his face still scrunched up in a scowl, “Don’t care! Jus’ a Poke Ball!”

“No kiddin’! It’s what’s in da Poke Ball, shithead!” Trudly groaned, rolling his eyes, “I caught a Krabby out on da beach.”

“Still don’t care!”

Trudly growled and tossed his equipment next him, Folly’s bad mood becoming contagious, “Boy, yer real pleasant to talk to!”

“Am when not...” Folly began, but was suddenly cut off. After a brief pause, Folly’s eyes widened and he yelled, “Foot’s bleedin’!”

“Yeah, I know,” Trudly moaned as he looked at his sandy and blood-covered foot. The pain had subsided a bit, but the wound still stung, “Stupid Krabby got me back ‘ere. Better get dis washed out ‘fore it gets...” All of a sudden, Trudly saw Folly get up, pick up a nearby bucket, and dash towards the exit before he could even finish his sentence, “...worse... Uh, Folly? Whattaya doin’?”

Folly climbed up the stairs and didn’t even look in Trudly’s direction until he was at the top. He then sat down and looked behind him, “Gettin’ water. Gotta get dis washed out ‘fore it gets worse.”

“Not with salt water, ya ain’t! Don’t ya know what happens when ya put salt water on an open would?! It stings! Like hell!” Trudly yelled quickly before Folly ran off and threw the bucket of seawater at his foot.

“Know dat,” Folly said simply, “Gettin’ water from da stream.”

“Dat’s like, an hour ‘way, Folly!” Trudly reached for a canteen sitting next to him and popped it open, “‘Ere’s plenty of water I could use here!”

Just as the first drop of fresh water hit Trudly's skin, Folly frantically yelled, "Dat's drinkin' water!"

Despite Folly's anxiety, Trudly continued to pour the water on his foot. The lukewarm water made the blood and most of the sand slip off onto the ground under him, "And its also da only water nearby dat won't burn my foot! I'll get some more after dis damn thing's taken care of, all right?"

"All right!" Folly replied as he climbed back down the stairs. Just as Trudly motioned to get up, Folly ran over to his packrat pile and began digging through it. Eventually, he found a roll of white tape that was made to cover up large wounds. Trudly had no idea where Folly had picked that up, but he didn't say it as Folly began wrapping the tape around the cut.

"Y'know, I was just 'bout to do dat..." Trudly sighed as he watched Folly wrap his foot more than enough times than he needed to.

"Do it wrong." Folly said innocently, his tone contradicting his words.

Yeah, because your way is always the right way! Trudly kept the words in his head, even though he wanted to blurt it out. It was times like those that Trudly wished his mind worked more like Folly's. Trudly found that his conscience forced him to frequently lie through his teeth. The things he would say would often contradict what he thought. It was either that, or Trudly would keep his mouth shut on certain subjects that he wanted to comment on. After years of experience, Trudly found lying extremely easy. But that still didn’t mean he liked it.

Folly, on the other hand, had no problem speaking his mind. There was practically no filter between his mind and his mouth. Sometimes, it was difficult, nearly impossible for people other than Trudly, to get him to talk. But when he did speak, he meant everything he’d say. There was no doubt in Trudly’s head that Folly was the most honest person he knew.

Maybe a little too honest. Due to the lack of a filter, Folly would often blurt out the most rude and disrespectful things instead of keeping them in his head. Most of the time, it was factually true. But Folly was never the one to choose the best times to point such things out. In addition, Folly usually never intended to be rude. He rarely realized what he said was out of place, which often made things worse. Trudly admitted that he wasn’t the most polite person out there, but at least he knew when to not say anything.

Folly continued to wrap Trudly’s foot with no sign of stopped. Before long, a thick ring of tape was stuck to it and barely any was left on the roll, “Dude, I think ya got ‘nuff tape on ‘ere! Ya can stop now!”

Folly stopped wrapping a few moments after Trudly spoke up. He then attempted to tear off the end of the tape, but seemed to be having difficulty. The tape wouldn’t rip when he tried to pull the roll apart from what was attached to Trudly. Before Folly yanked his entire foot off, Trudly reached for the tape. He took the edge of the tape with the fingertips of both of his hands and pulled them in opposite directions, ripping the tape.

Trudly withdrew his foot and gently sat it down. Folly’s eyes were still on it, however, and he didn’t stop staring for a few seconds. He then raised his head slightly and said, “Pressure. Scab over, don’t pick at it.”

Trudly looked back at Folly dryly, his face exploding with sarcasm, “Yeah, I’ll keep dat in mind.”

All of a sudden, something in one of Trudly’s pockets began to vibrate. He quickly reached into his pocket, the feel of it shaking against his leg felt rather odd. Trudly pulled out his small, thin, vibrating PDA, half-tempted to throw it against the wall. He restrained himself from doing so and pressed a button that forced the Poke Ball-shaped part that covered the screen to slide open.

The screen was already on the e-mail function, which was the only thing Trudly needed the PDA for. Trudly wasn’t very good with electronics and didn’t understand the other functions very well. He barely understood the e-mail program, as a matter of fact. Trudly wasn’t very interested in the PDA anyways and rarely used it.

The sender of the new e-mail had the same PDA number as the rest of the e-mails that Trudly's inbox was loaded with. All those e-mails from the same person that Trudly never bothered to delete was close to making his inbox full. Sighing, Trudly reluctantly opened the new one, which read:

"Missing: Two nineteen-year-olds known as Trudly and Folly.

Last Seen: Three days ago slacking off.

If you have seen them, please contact Miror B. at the Krabby Club and drag their lazy asses over to him."

Sometimes, Trudly really hated his boss' sense of humor.

Trudly first reaction to Miror B.'s e-mail was instinctively fear. The tone that he used in e-mails was usually a good indication of his mood. And from what Trudly could tell, it didn't sound too good. Trudly knew from experience that Miror B.'s bad moods were the worst. Even though he was reluctant to face it, Trudly just wanted to get it over with before Miror B. got even angrier.

But as he was about to stand up, Trudly looked at the Poke Ball next to him. Reminded of the Krabby he just caught, Trudly's own mood brightened a little. Maybe with his recent success at catching a Pokemon, Trudly thought that Miror B. might be more lenient with him and Folly.

When Trudly stood up, his stance and posture was in an awkward position. The tape wrapped around his injured foot elevated one side of him while the other was at its normal height. His slanted posture felt incredibly odd and he could imagine it looked odd as well.

"Da boss wants us." Trudly groaned, trying to get over the weird stance he was in. It felt even more awkward as he slipped on his boots and lifted one side of him even higher.

Trudly only took a few steps before he stopped and turned around. Folly was sitting firmly in place, staring at the ground, "Folly, c'mon! Let's go!"

"Ain't goin'," Folly muttered almost incoherently as he ran his fingers through the sand on the ground, "Don't wanna go."

"Folly! I..." Trudly began to raise his voice, but quickly paused. He sighed, beginning to feel guilty. Trudly didn't want to force Folly to go, but he knew only problems could arise if he didn't, "I know ya don't wanna, Folly. But if both of us don't show up, da boss is jus' gonna get madder."

Folly still didn't budge an inch. By then, his fingers had created a deep gash in the sand. As his eyes continued to stare straight into the ground with no sign of lifting up, Trudly's confidence began to dwindle. Guilt mixed with hopelessness began to fill the void, which almost made Trudly sit down and stare at the ground himself. Trudly hated to see Folly like that, and he hated it even more when couldn't bring him out of his sullen state.

Despite the chance of lifting Folly's mood was abysmally low, Trudly attempted to anyways, "You'll be fine, Folly. I ain't gonna let anythin' happen to ya."

Folly turned his head minutely and mumbled, "Sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure," Trudly nodded his head and held his hand out, "C'mon. Get up."

Even though Folly looked directly at Trudly's hand, he took it upon himself to lift himself up. Trudly to let that one slide by, however. Folly was uneasy enough. Trudly didn't need to add onto that.

As they were about to leave the cave, Trudly walked over to where Spook was sleeping and nudged him with his hand. Spook didn't even bother to lift himself up and just stared at Trudly as he whispered, "Hey listen. Da boss wants to see me 'n Folly. We're gonna try to get back as soon as we can," Trudly glanced over to the sleeping Whismur distrustfully and pointed at them, "While we're gone, make sure 'ose two don't do anythin' stupid." Spook nodded wearily, probably too tired to know what he was agreeing to.

Trudly and Folly both left the cave reluctantly. Neither of them enjoyed the visits with Miror B. very much. He would always yell at them about how they weren't good for anything. Trudly thought sometimes that he was right, but he still didn't need to rub it in their faces.

Trudly couldn't say that he liked Miror B. all that much, but he kept his opinions quiet and tried to remain on his good side. Folly, however, had no problem saying to Trudly that he hated Miror B.. Folly had never said that directly to him, since he was also downright scared of him as well. Chances were that Miror B. knew it, though. Trudly could tell that Miror B. was picking up Folly's nervous vibes. He would stay a good distance away from him, never make eye contact, or speak to him. Which was how he acted toward everyone else. Folly had every right to be nervous, and Trudly knew better than to criticize him for it.

Little by little as they walked down the beach, Folly's uneasiness began to ebb away. He looked like Trudly's words were sinking in and that he believed them. When they were halfway to Gateon Port, Folly began rambling about how Shellders make pearls out of the blue. The monologue was spontaneous, random, and frankly, something that Trudly could care less about. Despite that, Trudly kept his mouth shut and let Folly on for about an hour.

In the middle of Folly's long-winded discussion, Trudly smirked minutely. He really didn't need to convince Folly to come with him. Regardless if he was scared or not, Folly would follow Trudly just about anywhere. If Trudly hadn't said anything and began to leave without Folly, he knew that Folly would change his mind as soon as Trudly was out of sight.

But even though Trudly didn't need to say anything to get Folly to leave the cave, he knew that being reassured felt nice every now and then.

C'mon, people. Don't tell me you didn't see this coming.

But eh, something tells me I kinda screwed up on Folly and I'm gonna get pelted with rocks 'cause of it. *sigh* Hope he works for you guys.

Heheh. Umbreon ears. That was the best I could come up with without saying "Mickey Mouse". XD Seriously, what the hell is that thing on Trudly's head?! *pokes at weird hat-thing*

7th June 2007, 1:30 AM
But eh, something tells me I kinda screwed up on Folly and I'm gonna get pelted with rocks 'cause of it. *sigh* Hope he works for you guys.

*pelts Bluey-chan with rocks*

Sorry, but you more than screwed him up. You raped him, cut his wrists, kicked him in the nuts, bit off his head, and threw him out the window of a 100-story building. xD

Seriously though, he's very OOC here. Apologies for not pointing this out in the PM, but . . . I could understand if he's emo and all, but he's just downright immature and insane. *shotshotshot*

But geez, whatever Miror B. did to him after the Miror Radar was discovered (I think), it must have really taken a toll on him.

Heheh. Umbreon ears. That was the best I could come up with without saying "Mickey Mouse". XD Seriously, what the hell is that thing on Trudly's head?! *pokes at weird hat-thing*

I know, right? xD I wonder what he would look like without it . . .

Anyway, aside from Folly's OOCness, this is a great, well-written chapter. And as I said earlier, I can see you've greatly improved with your punctuation. :)

17th June 2007, 3:11 AM
*pelts Bluey-chan with rocks*

*rock'd* *impact with skull makes a odd, hollow sound* XD

Seriously though, he's very OOC here. Apologies for not pointing this out in the PM, but . . . I could understand if he's emo and all, but he's just downright immature and insane. *shotshotshot*

*loads AK-47*

Naw, just kidding. XD But, ehh... I ain't gonna try to deny that I screwed up on this chapter.

This is kinda repetitive to you Anita-chan, since I already said it over PM, but I completely intended Folly to be like that. *brick'd* Of course, that still doesn't mean I did an awesome job on his character. Yeah, I know I went overboard. :/

But geez, whatever Miror B. did to him after the Miror Radar was discovered (I think), it must have really taken a toll on him.

Trust me, it did. (You could've a least put that in spoiler tags, though. XD) What I plan on doing later on is writing flashbacks that took place during and shortly after XD, and I'm sure you'll see quite a difference in his personality. Although, of course, they won't be as ridicuolously long as the ones that took up both Chapter One and Two. XD

It certainly took a toll on Folly, but took quite a toll on Trudly as well. Really, think about it. Here you have Trudly watching Folly get closer and closer to hitting rock bottom. And no matter how much he tries to keep his best friend from completely losing his mind, (He does still have some of his sanity. I won't deny that he's immature and bordering on insane, but he'll show plenty of mature and intelligent moments as the fic goes on.) he can't seem to stop it. If Trudly seems like the person that's easily irritated and frustrated with Folly (Or easily irritated and frustrated in general), that's why.

I know, right? xD I wonder what he would look like without it . . .

Somehow, since he wears that weird thing all the time, I can imagine he has the worst case of hat hair. XD

18th August 2007, 3:19 PM
I like big chapters and I can not lie. You other SPPF'ers cannot deny... *tomatoed*

If you're wondering why this took a bit longer than I usually do on these chapters... Well, I'm sure you can figure it out by seeing how gigantically large this chapter is.

Be warned as this chapter contains consistant swearing. Compliments of your Not-So-Friendly, Neighborhood Swear-Happy Trudly. :)

Anyways... Chapter Six!~

Chapter Six: The Voice of Silence

Folly never was much of a talkative person. At least not to most people. He would always overhear such interesting conversations in public that he would just love to take part in. Most of the time, Folly held so many of his opinions in his head about the discussion that he wanted to blurt out. But every time he even came close to attempting to join in, that small part of his conscience would whisper in his mind that it wasn’t a good idea and force him to back out. It didn’t matter whether it was starting a conversation or joining one; Folly found that talking to complete strangers gave him the most uncomfortable feeling.

Maybe that was why he never felt nervous about talking to Trudly. He had known him since he was six years old and was practically the only person on the face of the earth that he had no problems opening up to. While it was like pulling teeth to make himself utter a single word to everyone else, Folly could say whatever was on his mind to Trudly without a thought.

But even if Folly could speak to Trudly freely, it still didn’t mean he could usually talk for long periods of time. This time was a bit different. Half the time, when he spoke for so long, Trudly would eventually moan, “I don’t give a damn, Folly!”, but he had yet to do so. Folly thought that Trudly would’ve been bored out of his skull before long, but he hadn’t said so, so Folly kept on talking. Besides, he needed talk about something that would allow him to get his mind off of unpleasant thoughts.

Folly thought that what he talked about as he and Trudly walked down the beach was interesting, though. He found it fascinating that all it took was a grain of sand, or any irritant for that matter, to enter a Shellder and within a few years, a person could find a pearl inside of it. Contrary to the image that came to mind when he thought of a pearl, round ones were actually quite rare. It didn’t really surprise him when he first learned that. He knew already that things didn’t usually turn out the way the plan went.

About thirty minutes after they left the cave, Folly could see the rocky hills surrounding Gateon Port jutting out from the horizon. With the knife-sharp rocks sticking out of it and the slopes at a near ninety-degree angle, the entire thing screamed "death trap". Nobody else dared to climb the hills, since all a person had to do was trip and they'd impale themselves. Since no one went within two yards of the hills, it was pretty much impossible for anyone to notice the tunnel that went through it. It was a miracle he and Trudly even found a safe way through. They seemed to be the only ones that knew about it, though. Otherwise, they would've been seeing people pass through the small tunnel for months.

Small was an understatement. The tunnel could be more accurately classified as low and claustrophobic. It was wide and high enough to fit two people carrying bags full of berries, but it was still too low to stand up in. In addition to having to crawl through it, Trudly and Folly had to feel around just to know where to go. The place was dark beyond comparison. It was easy for Folly to completely lose his sense of day and night inside the darkness. When they finally would reach the end of it, they'd be blinded by the sun the moment they'd set foot outside.

As they came closer to the hills, the entrance to the tunnel gradually became more visible. It appeared as tiny, horizontal slit in the steep walls. Trudly and Folly climbed up a less steep, but just as rocky, slope to get to it. Trudly climbed it, at least. Folly had to be pulled up the hill in several spots. Just reaching the entrance expended enough effort. And they'd have to spend even more to get through it.

Before they entered the tunnel, Trudly took off his hat, revealing a giant mess of long, tangled, blond hair. It was so disorderly and filled with knots that it looked like at least four generations of Starly had made their nest in it. As a matter of fact, something probably did live in that mess of Trudly's. In the past few weeks, Folly would frequently see Trudly scratching at his hair like a maniac, all while groaning and cussing.

After stuffing his hat inside his pocket, Trudly got down on his knees and crawled inside the tunnel. Folly reluctantly copied him and followed Trudly inside. He couldn't stand that place. Being in the dark wasn't the main problem. Folly was used to being in the dark and sometimes preferred it to the light. Even so, he'd still liked to be able to see what was more than an inch away from him.

But his central issue with the tunnel was how small and cramped it was. It didn't make Folly very relaxed to know that he could easily cut himself against one of the sharp rocks lining the wall. Pain didn't appeal much to Folly, and neither did the uncomfortable confinement and the inky darkness.

The real problems arose halfway through the tunnel, however. His left leg began to grow heavy and painful; it felt like somebody had stuck knives into it. Eventually, it got to the point where he had to drag it behind him as he crawled. As his leg continued to throb with sharp pain, Folly's urge to stop moving altogether intensified.

His leg never used to act up like that, but such pain recently became typical. Approximately a year ago, his leg had been bent into a position where it faced away from the right one at an unnatural angle. And on top of that, shards of glass had stabbed into the bone when he fell on a pile of them. The leg was able to be turned back close to how it originally was and the glass was taken out, but it still caused him frequent spasms of pain. Sometimes they happened spontaneously, but they also occured when he’d move faster than a short sprint.

Moving too much also presented problems. Usually, he and Trudly made one trip to Gateon Port a day. That still brought some stinging in his leg, but at least it wasn't pushing his limits. Folly wasn't used to moving so much in a few hours like he was that day. They didn't regularly travel such a distance even before Folly's leg had been bent.

Folly hated changing his typical routine. Certain things about his life he did want to change. But those were different. He wanted change to happen when he wanted it to happen. He remembered telling himself the previous day that he wanted to explore the PDA's functions a bit more to see what he could make it do. Instead of doing that like he planned, he was forced to crawl though some miserable and musty tunnel, straining himself just to move. All to meet up with someone he hated with every shred of his soul.

“Hey!” Folly heard Trudly yell ahead of him, “Quit laggin’!”

Folly was still scowling at his thoughts and ended up snarling, “Can’t.” He stopped moving and needed to rest for a brief moment.

“Whattaya mean ya...” Trudly began to shout, but quickly paused. Folly heard him moan and sigh to himself before saying in a much calmer tone, “Yer leg’s actin’ up again, ain’t it?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Folly muttered, placed his head between his arms on the ground. The pain was becoming less easier to withstand as each second ticked by. His entire body began to sweat profusely, which was by not only the stabbing in his leg, but by the stagnant, hot air around him. As he breathed in and out heavily, he could feel his body shaking and his fingers digging into the ground without a conscious effort.

The sound made by his trembling breath filled his ears to the point where he couldn’t make out much of anything else. Folly could hear Trudly talking ahead of him, but it was difficult to decipher what he was saying through his clogged ears, “H... huh?”

“I said I can’t turn ‘round in here to get ya. Do ya think ya can make it to da end of da tunnel?” Folly focused less on the sound of his own breath and more on Trudly’s voice as he repeated himself. Most of the time when Trudly had to repeat himself to Folly, he’d scream his words back to him. But this time, his words seemed a lot... calmer.

And that was saying something. Usually, Trudly and the word “calm” was never used in the same sentence. Unless the word “not” was thrown in there as well. Trudly wasn’t known for placidness. He was known for his explosive temper. Trudly and Folly were extremely infamous throughout Orre, which meant that nearly everyone knew who they were. That also meant that most people knew better than to get Trudly angry. Trudly’s vocal conniptions were usually enough to deter the person that was ticking him off from doing it again. But it still wasn’t uncommon for him to use physical violence. And if Trudly didn’t resort to using his fists to get his point across, he’d see to it that some of the agitator’s possessions would wind up either missing or broken.

But recently, Trudly had been turning his anger against Folly as well. Granted, he had never hit Folly, but he’d yell at him a lot more frequently than he used to. It seemed like Folly couldn’t move a muscle without Trudly criticizing him. Folly started to feel like there was nothing he’d do that wouldn’t frustrate Trudly.

Ironically, at other times, Trudly was calmer than he ever was before. One second, he’d be screaming at Folly, and the next he’d be rather tolerant of him. It was like flipping a switch on and off. Frankly, the continuous alternating between two opposite emotions began to worry Folly. And Trudly was usually the one to make complaints that Folly “wasn’t his usual self.”

Trudly was a bit of a hypocrite that way.

“N...no...” Folly answered Trudly with a shuddering moan. Any movement that involved his impaired leg would intensify the strong pain. All Folly wanted to do was to just lay there and wait until his leg wasn’t throbbing anymore. He was willing to stay in that muggy tunnel all night if he had to. Discomfort Folly could handle. Pain he couldn’t.

Trudly was silent for a while; it took him a minute just to respond to Folly. When he finally did speak up, he also began to moan, “I don’t think we got much longer to go through here. Y...yer gonna have to keep movin’ Folly.”

The moment Trudly stopped talking, Folly lifted his head without a thought. It was too dark for Folly to see anything, so he figured Trudly was sightless in the tunnel as well. But despite that, Folly shot an incensed glare and scowled in his direction.

How on earth did Trudly expect Folly to just ignore the pain in his leg that escalated with every pulse of blood in his veins? How could he just figure that Folly could just shrug it off and go on acting like everything was perfectly normal? Sure, Trudly could get over physical pain quickly. If he got hurt, Trudly would swear at the injury and that would be the end of it. He was probably disregarding the wound that the Krabby made earlier that day.

But Folly wasn’t Trudly. He couldn’t ignore pain. He couldn’t ignore the stinging dead weight he was forced to drag behind him though the tunnel. And he certainly couldn’t just “get over it.”

He'd never get over it. He wanted to, but Folly knew that it would always stick in his mind even if he lived to be one-hundred. Besides, how would eighty-one more years of thinking about the same thing again and again do any good for him? How on earth could time be his friend? Folly's tolerance for pain was low. His tolerance for thoughts of pain was just as abysmal.

Folly pulled himself along the tunnel's floor languishingly, asking himself why he couldn't be more like Trudly. Why couldn't he be tougher like Trudly was? Why couldn't he dismiss pain as if it was nothing at all. Trudly could look fear in its cold eyes and not budge an inch. But two feet behind him would be Folly shivering and having the hair on the back of his neck stand up straight. While Trudly always seemed to have the right thing to say in the most terrifying situations, Folly became so locked up inside he couldn't ever mutter. Folly would've thought that being around Trudly for so many years would've made him brave like him. Instead, he turned out to be a coward that feared fear itself.

It seemed like forever and a day before Folly saw sunlight peer at him. The small rays blinded him at first, even with his blue shades on. But after his eyes got used to the light being there, Folly was almost compelled to move faster. However, his legs was still in pangs and practically motionless.

He watched Trudly crawl out of the tunnel long before he was able to get close to the exit. When Folly finally did manage to come to the exit, Trudly's hand suddenly appeared as a shadow in the sunlight in front of him, "Grab my hand. I'll pull ya out."

Folly wanted to get out of that damned tunnel more than anything, but he was actually reluctant to grab Trudly's hand. His foremost pet peeve was making physical contact with another person. It didn't matter whether it was somebody hitting him or giving a light tap on the shoulder, being touched always made him tense and nervous.

Despite his anxiety, Folly was willing to overcome it for a brief moment just to get out of the tunnel. But a chill still ran down his arms and through his spine when he grasped Trudly's hands with both of his. For a few seconds, Folly felt himself freeze up and allowed himself to be pulled out without any resistance.

Within seconds, Folly was laying on the rough, rocky ground with the sun beating on his back. The shards of rocks poking at his stomach was highly uncomfortable and the humidity wasn't any more soothing. The only thing that was even remotely comforting was being out in the open air. But he still would've rather stayed in that one spot than get up and move. Besides, any energy he had to do so had been sapped away.

But of course, Trudly had to object to staying in one place, "Hey. Not here. People are gonna see us."

Folly tried to lift his head up and defend his decision, but he had lost the energy to even do that. His eyes nearly closed and breath rapid, Folly muttered weakly, "C...c...can't... can't move... no... no energy..."

His senses began to become scrambled as his mind forced him to drift off, even in such a discomforting place. His unconscious desire to fall asleep muffled the sound of Trudly's approaching footsteps. Folly could hear Trudly speaking in an audible tone, but he was unable to make out much of what he said. Trudly usually didn't mumble, so Folly knew that it had to have been his own exhausted self that was turning words unintelligible.

Before Folly could interpret any of what Trudly was saying, he suddenly felt Trudly's hands slip under him. A series of shudders shook his entire body and stole his breath for a moment. He froze up from head to toe and a cold, unnerving feeling spread through him yet again as Trudly lifted him off of the ground.

As Trudly slowly carried Folly down the slope, his mind raced with thoughts of both panic and self-reflection. When the panic faded away, Folly was left to muse about himself. Being nervous when people he didn't know or trust touched him he could understand. But what he couldn't understand was that he became just as paranoid when Trudly touched him. He knew that Trudly would never bring any harm to him; he could trust Trudly with his life. But why did he still flinch and shake like he was going to hurt him?

Things just didn't make sense anymore.

* * *

Folly found himself about an hour later under the shade off a conifer tree. The soft breeze blowing at his face felt pleasant and the gentle rustling of the pine needles above sounded dulcet as well. Everything felt so relaxing, he was reluctant to move away from it all.

Although he probably could've then if he wanted to. He lifted his injured leg slightly, testing it out. It stung and tingled a small amount, but it certainly wasn't as painful as before.

As Folly gently laid his leg back on the soft grass, he heard some sort of scraping sound next to him. He turned his head in the sound's direction and saw Trudly, his hat back on his head, whittling away at the point of a stick with his pocket knife. Trudly's face was scrunched up a bit, like it was whenever something annoyed him.

It took a few seconds before he turned his head towards Folly. When he looked at Folly, his face loosened and he set the knife and stick down, "Yer leg feelin' better?"

"Mmm-hmm," Folly mumbled in response, adjusting his position against the tree, "For da most part, yeah."

Trudly sat up from his leaning position against the tree and stretched his arms. Before long, he picked the stick and knife back up and began peeling the wood off of it at an angle, "Think ya can walk with it?"

"Dunno. Maybe," Folly guessed rather blindly. His leg wasn't hurting as much anymore, but he wasn't sure how far he could go with it before it did again, "Whatcha doin'?"

"Y'know da Krabby I caught dis mornin'? 'Ere's gotta be more of 'em. So since I can't catch **** by fishin', I figure I might be able to find another one and eat dat. 'Course, I need somethin' to stab it with." Trudly explained, not taking his eyes off of the stick and knife.

Just hearing Trudly's plans for the soon-to-be spear made Folly's stomach rumble. He didn't dislike the Cheri, Pecha, and Oran berries he usually ate, but he did have a desire for meat every now and then. Sometimes, Folly got a bit sick of the vegetarian diet he and Trudly had been forced to eat for the past few months. Live game might've been hard to find in Orre's wilderness, but packaged meat wasn't in the stores. But it always seemed like matches were never in stock when Trudly and Folly would break into the them. And Trudly's attempts to get Spook to make fire with his Will-o-Wisp technique hadn't been going so well.

Just as the point of the spear was getting fairly sharp, Trudly made a slip and sliced the point clean off. He growled, clenched his teeth, and threw the dulled stick in front of him, "If I can get it sharp, dat is! Dammit! Jus' ya watch! 'Ventually I'm gonna end up slicing my hand with dat damn thing!"

Why Trudly even processed the idea of doing that to himself was beyond Folly, he held out his hand before he did, "Lemme see it. Hand it over."

Trudly bent over, grabbed the stick, and placed it in Folly's hand. Only the stick.

"Da knife too!" Folly groaned, sticking his hand back out after he placed the spear next to him. Trudly hand was even right on the pocket knife.

Trudly narrowed his eyes and stared at Folly for a long moment. Folly recognized that look on Trudly's face; he often had that look around people he didn't know. But why was he looking at him like that? Trudly's glare didn't disappear even after he finally placed the pocket knife in his hands.

Folly grasped the handle of the knife as slowly as Trudly put it there. He returned the strange look Trudly was giving him and attempted at whittling the spear himself. Folly wanted to make it sharp like Trudly tried to, but his concentration was disappearing with each glance he'd return to him. He'd look back at him several times, but Trudly expression failed to change.

"Stop starin'." Folly eventually got tired of Trudly looking at him like he was. He couldn't stand it when people would just stare at him. It always made him nervous, uneasy, and unable to concentrate on anything knowing that somebody had their eyes on him unyieldingly. Folly thought Trudly knew that, but apparently he didn't.

"I ain't starin'. I'm watchin'." Trudly defended himself shortly.

He still didn't stop watching Folly and it seemed like he wouldn't any time soon. Folly tried to turn his concentration solely on the spear, but he still glanced at Trudly periodically. Staring or simply watching, it was still unnerving all the same.

Folly lost track of the time eventually. Sometimes he'd get so engrossed in what he's doing that he couldn't say for sure how long he had been doing it for. The same went for sharpening the spear. He wasn't sure whether he had been whittling for thirty minutes or ten. Either way, it was starting to look a lot sharper.

"Hey listen," Trudly abruptly interrupted his concentration. Folly set the knife and spear down before he'd ruin it with his lack of complete focus, "Y'know dat da Krabby Club is right next to da shop we hit dis mornin', right?"

"Umm... right..." Folly replied curiously, wondering what Trudly was getting at.

"I don't got a good feelin' 'bout goin' 'round 'ere. If people see us in da area, they're gonna think somethin's up 'n then we're gonna get arrested. That, 'n da boss's never where he says he is, so we'll have to wait a few hours 'til he does show up. Da longer we stay in one place, the more likely somebody's gonna catch us. Plus, I'd rather get da whole thing done 'n over with." Trudly began to explain, but still left Folly a bit in the dark. Being nervous about seeing Miror B. went without saying. Folly could honestly desire being arrested and locked in jail more than he could meeting up with him.

Trudly paused for a moment and sighed before continuing, "'Ere's dis bar in Gateon dat Reath told me 'bout. It's underground 'n they only allow people who have a decent criminal record in. Da boss has probably been 'ere, knowin' him. I wanna check dat place out and see if anyone knows for sure where he is."

"Reath? Haven't seen her in years!" Folly exclaimed, changing the subject.

"Good. Better stay dat way." Trudly spat with a groan.

Trudly never did like Reath or her friend, Ferma, very much. Unfortunately for him, they worked for Miror B. too when he was still part of Cipher. So Trudly and Folly had to spend nearly every day with them, much to Trudly's annoyance. Folly could remember Trudly griping about them once, saying "Reath 'n Ferma are kinda like us with boobs. 'Cept Reath's a lot *****ier than I could ever be. 'N Ferma ain't quiet 'cause she's 'fraid of being social. She's quiet 'cause she's a lil' priss dat don't give a **** 'bout anything dat don't involve her!" Maybe it was a good thing neither he or Folly had seen them since they got fired from Cipher. It would certainly explain why Trudly had been a bit less choleric for a few years since then.

"Anyways," Trudly got himself back on track, "Problem is dat its 'round da Parts Shop. 'N we gotta go through da center of town to get 'ere."

Just by hearing Trudly say "center of town" and "go through it," Folly's heart climbed up to his throat. Folly glanced past Trudly and at Gateon Port below, which looked like a ten minute walk from where he was sitting. Even from that distance, Folly could see how many people were there. And there was a lot of them. As he looked upon the dense crowds, he could feel the nervousness coming back, "L...lotta people 'ere..."

"I know. Dat's why I'm tellin' ya now," Trudly said as he stood up. He began to walk towards the city, but didn't get too far before he turned around, "C'mon, get up. We'll try to get through 'ere as fast as we can."

Folly planted himself firmly on the ground. Fast or not, Folly didn't want to go through such a daunting crowd and was determined to keep himself from doing so, "Can't run."

Trudly glared at Folly sharply and said with a low tone, "Ya can walk fast, Folly. I've seen ya do it."

"But... people still gonna notice us. More than they would at da Krabby Club. 'Cause... y'know. 'Ere's more people dat can see us. 'N we stick out. Blond hair ain't common 'round here. 'N we stink. Bad." Folly still wouldn't give up, even though Trudly was seeing through him like glass.

"Folly, I don't wanna fight with ya! I'd rather not go into da city at all if I could. But dat ain't an option! I know ya don't like a lotta people. But it's either walk through a crowd dat'll take us five minutes to do, or sit in one for three hours!" Trudly began to raise voice, which caused Folly to flinch slightly.

Folly realized that nothing he'd say would convince Trudly from not going, so he didn't bother fighting it anymore. He still wasn't too happy about it, though. He reluctantly stood up and wouldn't even shoot a glance towards the city.

Before he walked over to Trudly, Folly remembered the pocket knife and spear and picked them up, "Don't know if it's sharp 'nuff." Folly commented on the quality of the spear before he handed it to Trudly.

Trudly didn't even glimpse at the spear before he glared at Folly again and held his hand out, "My knife?"

Folly gave Trudly his knife back carefully, confused at that look he kept giving him. Trudly continued his firm gaze at him as he folded the blade of the knife into the worn-out, leather handle. He finally took his eyes off Folly when stuffed the knife in his pocket and began to examine the spear.

"Well?" Folly asked Trudly as he gently tapped his finger on the point, anxiously waiting for his opinion.

"Eh...It's okay," Trudly shrugged his shoulders as he strode over to the tree with the spear, "I don't feel like draggin' dis all through town, so I'm just gonna set it here."

Trudly's reply was a bit broad to Folly, and he wanted a more detailed answer. "Sharp 'nuff? Too dull?" The longer the delay in Trudly's response became, the more Folly's confidence began to dwindle. He dropped his head and stared at the ground, refusing to even look at the spear as he muttered, "Screwed up again, didn't I?"

"I said it was okay!" Trudly finally responded with a groan, stemming from the fact that he had to repeat himself. "Y'know, not too sharp, not too dull."

Folly gave a sigh of relief, knowing that he didn't completely mess up for once. For as long back as his memory could take him, he had always been labeled as a "Screw-up", or somebody that couldn't do anything right. Folly wasn't usually the one to become insulted at simple comments, but having almost no one believe in him was something that struck deep. Eventually, he became sick of it and continuously told himself that he'd never mess up on anything ever again. But despite that, it seemed like every attempt to do something right ironically ended up with him falling even harder.

After Trudly set the spear against the trunk of the tree and headed down the gradually less steep slope, Folly followed behind, carefully keeping his footing on the sharp rocks. Trudly seemed to be having a tougher time with it, as every time the foot that the Krabby attacked touched the rocks in just the right way, he'd wince and withdraw it with a jerk.

Folly looked back on the spear behind him, and began to think more about what Trudly wanted it for and then voiced his thoughts, "Couldn't ya jus' drop a rock on da Krabby?"

"Great idea, Folly!" Trudly exclaimed, but was rather unenthusiastic about it. Even though Trudly wasn't looking at Folly directly, he could still see Trudly's in the midst of a long eye-rolling sequence, "I'll jus' have to remember to drag a ten-pound boulder with me everywhere 'case a Krabby come 'long!"

Once he could balance himself, Folly stopped in his tracks briefly to look at Trudly with a raised eyebrow. That was just like him to take Folly's words and blow them way out of proportion.

"Don't need to be dat big..."

* * *

Folly was still breathing and his heart was still pumping blood through him with no signs of stopping in the near future. Since he was very much alive, he figured he would be ignorant to what hell really felt like for a little while. But he did get a fairly good idea of how it would be.

In his eyes, crowds were just an expansion of the two things he hated the most. Dozens of people were incessantly making physical contact and bumping into him, and dozens more were staring. Merely thinking about it sent a chill down his spine. Experiencing it first-hand made him break into a cold sweat.

As he pushed through the crowd as fast he could without his bad leg shutting down on him again, he began to wonder if he’d ever see the end of it. He didn’t know exactly how big the center of town was, but Trudly said it would take about five minutes to go through. But Folly’s distorted mind multiplied those five minutes into an amount that seemed like forever.

The crowd was so dense that it was hard to see anything that was farther than a few feet. The overabundance of people with their hands clasped around their noses made it exceedingly easy for Folly to lose sight of Trudly. And when that happened, his heart leapt a beat and his breath trembled. He knew that feeling. That cold, nervous feeling that was carried along with the sensation of being alone. It was like his vocal cords were being choked, rendering him helpless to say anything. He was left to scream Trudly’s name in his head, despite the fact that it was in vain. It would be nearly impossible for Trudly to hear him through the plethora of voices overlapping each other, even if he yelled. All Folly could do was trudge on in the faint hope that he could find Trudly while immersed in the paradox of it all. How there could be so many people around him, but still feel so alone.

He didn’t know where it came from, but he was glad it did, although not right away. As he was still absorbed in loneliness, a hand came out of nowhere and grabbed his arm. Having somebody touch him like that, especially in such a place made Folly panic and lose control of himself. Breathing even heavier than before, Folly instinctively ran in the opposite direction, but was futile as the hand pulled at him. Since he didn’t see a wide selection of options left, he let his thoughts of resorting to violence took control of his actions. He clenched his fists and teeth tightly, spun around, and blindly threw his fist in the direction the hand came from.

It wasn't until after the owner of the hand screamed Folly's name in a familiar voice was he able to put a face on him. Folly's eyes widened and he turned his head slowly and gingerly, afraid of his sight confirming who the hand belonged to. There Trudly was, standing in front of him with the most infuriated look on his face. He could see Trudly's eyes dilate into brown fireballs, even behind his red sunglasses. Trudly's entire face was turning into a hot, explosive red, but what truly made Folly's heart sink was that his right cheek was considerably redder and stood out.

Trudly grit his teeth firmly, almost to the point where Folly could picture them bleeding at any moment, before he finally released Folly's arm and spun around furiously. His heavy stomping and enraged breathing suggested he was about to storm off like a hurricane and leave Folly in the wake of the destruction. But surprisingly, he kept a pace where Folly could keep up.

But Folly wasn't about to get too close to him. Sure, Trudly got angry often, and Folly always seemed to be the catalyst of his frustration. But to see him look like that... it wasn't something that Folly witnessed frequently. He hated to think about it, but even as much as he tried to force his thoughts to deviate from that incensed image of Trudly's face, Folly couldn't escape the fact that for a few minutes, he became scared of Trudly.

The crowd was starting to dissipate, but that didn't make Folly any less uneasy. He knew that Trudly couldn't keep his angry, nerve-wracking silence for much longer, and he dreaded the anger finally erupting. The longer the silence lasted, the longer Folly's head was filled with thoughts of self-hate. Why? Why did he let that foolish instinct of panic blind him? Why did he let it strike the one person out of dozens that surrounded him, or more accurately, the one person out of billions in the entire world that he truly considered a friend? Why did he have to be such a nervous wreck in the first place? Why did he have to break down in a anxious fit every time someone touched him?

It wasn't long before Folly's thoughts that made him hate everything he was evolved into thoughts that made him paranoid about what would happen next. What would Trudly do? He had seen the way Trudly acted towards people in a fit of rage. In certain instances, Trudly would end up beating whoever is causing him to go into such a frenzy until they became unconscious, bleeding, and broken-boned. What if Trudly did the same to Folly?

No... He wouldn't do that... Trudly would never do that...


...Would he?

"Ya friggin' *******! What da hell's wrong with ya?!"

Folly was so engrossed with thoughts he hated to be absorbed in, his guard was let down. That meant that Trudly screaming at him furiously seemed to come out of nowhere and caused Folly to back up hastily. He expected to back into a group of people and be bumped around like a ball in a pinball machine, but instead kept going until he stumbled into the side of a building.

Trudly still had the same look on his face as he did earlier, not toned down in the least bit. He walked, or rather stomped, towards Folly with a fierce glare aimed right at his eyes. That made Folly extremely nervous and uneasy, even more than he already was. He countered by dropping his head swiftly, but knowing that Trudly's death glare wasn't about to let up didn't help.

He didn't dare to look up at Trudly, and even the slight sound of Trudly's boots tapping against the concrete rapidly made him flinch. But knowing that Trudly wouldn't let him stay silent for much longer, Folly was forced to mutter timidly with his voice shaking, "S...s... sorry... D... didn't.... didn't know dat was you..."

"Dammit Folly! Dat's why I tell ya not to lag behind so much! If ya jus' listened once in a while, **** like dis wouldn't happen!" Folly heard Trudly's yells start to become more of an angry hiss more than a enraged snarl. Even though he began to tone down his voice, it still made Folly's heart pound in his ears.

"Sorry..." Folly repeated himself almost incoherently as he stared straight into the concrete below him. He lifted his head enough to see Trudly, but not enough to see his eyes, hoping he'd accept his apology. He still could barely fathom that he, out of all people, struck Trudly. If he had known the person who grabbed his arm was him, the thought of even clenching his fists wouldn't have crossed his mind.

Trudly's delay with his response was much longer than it previously was. Puzzled, Folly raised his head a little more, but still very slowly. He saw Trudly's eyes begin to shift gradually away from Folly. Within a matter of seconds, Trudly was not only not looking at Folly, but he had his back at him.

Folly's first thoughts about that was asking himself whether Trudly was still mad at him or not. He wasn't screaming at a frequency that normally only Riolu would be able to pick up, nor was Folly able to see if his face was still about to crack and burst into flames from so much scowling. So honestly, Folly found it impossible to figure it out.

“I heard ya da first time,” was all Trudly said to break the silence. His attention seemed to be off Folly completely, as he saw Trudly swivel his head slowly, like he was watching each person scattered around them, “I think dat most of da crowd’s behind us. C’mon, we’re almost ‘ere.”

Trudly continued on his way, seemingly perfectly normal again. His steps were a bit heavy, but of course, Trudly wasn’t a quiet walker. But Folly didn’t dare to think for a millisecond that Trudly’s anger ebbed away. He didn’t say anything more about it and his vocal conniptions ceased, so how could Folly tell? The ignorance did nothing to assuage Folly’s fears, and still made sure to keep a bit of a distance between him and Trudly. Besides, Folly would hate to have the mindset that Trudly had calmed down only for his volatility to rear it’s ugly head again.

Being out of the crowd and able to see more than a bunch of tall people looming over him, the open space gave Folly a chance to observe his surroundings. The southern section of town was drastically less crowded than the northern section, due to the lack of abundant businesses. The only notable business in the area was the Parts Shop, a long, two-story building with what looked like a giant scooter rotating on a platform. Folly had heard that the selection inside was fascinating; there were supposedly more parts of various machinery then he could possibly imagine. But even though he also heard that it didn’t get as superb business as the owners claimed, there were bound to be lots of people, people he didn’t know, and that alone was enough to repel him. And besides, even if it was dead as a graveyard inside, Folly didn’t want to be met with that repetitive question coming out of Trudly: “What da hell are we gonna use ‘ose for?”

The Parts Shop was surrounded by a multitude of houses, most of them looking like they were former warehouses. They had similar structures as the larger warehouses nearby, such as being much broader than normal houses. There were few windows; the ones that were there were either placed relatively high up or looked like the owners had just altered the architecture to be able to put some in. But even though there were few windows, there seemed to be more doors leading inside than one would usually need, and they seemed a lot bigger than usual. The warehouse-residence hybrids had a noticeable lack of colorful paint and most of them still retained the dull, gray color that came with the concrete walls. The roofs on them used the same kind of ridged metal as the bigger warehouse, and even in the same silver color.

To the right of the shop was the only other reason anybody would come to the area other than to live in dingy shacks or buy spare parts. A small dock was placed at the end of a strip of concrete stretching out into the sea. Folly would’ve thought that more ships would be there than the few that was sporadically docked there, since it was less of a hassle to go back to the sea from there instead of from the city’s center. But as he thought about it more, he realized that the bay in the center was probably a safer place to lay anchor rather than on the edge of the ocean where frequent storms could tear it apart easier.

Trudly led Folly to an old warehouse in between the docks and the Parts Shop. It had to be at least three times the size of the smaller ones that people lived in, but was also falling into obvious disrepair. Most of the paint from the roof had peeled off and chips got scattered everywhere when the wind would gust at it. The majority of the windows near the roof were broken and shattered. The dented and scratched up door was barely holding on to its hinges and nearly broke off completely when Trudly and Folly opened it.

The inside was even worse. The only light came from the cracks in the boarded up windows, and the thin rays still didn't do the dark interior much justice. There was nearly nothing in there except musty, still air, save for the occasional crate and a Rattata scurrying to them. The floor was covered with a layer of dust that propelled into the air with every step Trudly and Folly took.

Folly's coughing from the clouds of dust entering his lungs echoed in the empty space, as well as his voice, "Don't look like a bar."

"I told ya already; it's underground!" The spacious room's ability to make sounds echo amplified Trudly's deep, heavy sigh. Folly flinched for a moment, since he expected Trudly to get angry again, judging by his annoyed retort.

Trudly scrutinized the room carefully, despite the limited light. Folly followed suit, assuming that he was looking for a entrance to the bar. In the midst of his examination, he shot a glance at a section of the floor that was illuminated by a ray of light. Folly limped over to it and bent down, spotting something suspicious. It was a footprint, one far too big to belong to either him or Trudly. Observing it closely, Folly found that the footprint was relatively fresh, since not much of a layer of dust had covered up the bare concrete made by the feet it belonged to. He guessed that it was made just that morning at the earliest. Folly looked behind and ahead of the footprint and saw a succession of them starting at the entrance of the warehouse and ending at a pile of crates stacked against the wall.

"Find somethin'?" Trudly asked behind Folly, jumping him for a moment. He continued to watch him even as Folly stood up and strode over to the crates, wanting a closer inspection.

Despite knowing that he was being stared at, Folly looked over each of the crates in the pyramid-like pile meticulously, although glimpsed at Trudly periodically. He knocked his fist against one of the crates and produced a hollow sound, meaning that there probably wasn't much of anything in them. But when Folly tried to pull the one on the top of the pile off, it wouldn't budge.

Just like he suspected.

"Trudly!" Folly called him over as he pressed his hands against the crates, "'Ese crates... they're all attached to each other! Bet 'ere's somethin' behind 'em. Help me push 'ese!"

Trudly strode over to Folly in silence. They both placed their hands against the crates and pushed at them in synchronization with each other. The crate pile grinding across the filthy floor caused another cloud of dust to fly up in their faces. Once they had gotten over their coughing fits, they frantically waved their arms to clear up the remaining dust. When the cloud faded away, Folly saw what he knew would be there: a winding tunnel leading underground.

Trudly was quiet for a moment longer, staring down the tunnel in front of him. Eventually and all of sudden, he began to laugh under his breath and crossed his arms, "Leave it to ya to find what we're lookin' for."

Folly smiled weakly at the rare words that came out of Trudly's mouth. During a time when Trudly would criticize him about every other thing, compliments were uncommon. Knowing that he didn't screw up on something for once also felt rewarding to Folly as well. And it certainly made Folly a lot more comfortable to know that Trudly was no longer in such a mood where it was hazardous to get near him.

Trudly squeezed through the small space between the crates and the wall and into the entrance first. Wondering how they were supposed to get out after they were done in the bar without trying to topple the pyramid over, Folly lagged behind and began to search it again. In the dim light from the lamps hanging above him, Folly found that the back of the pyramid was entirely metal. Bolted onto it was a handle that one could pull in order to make the disguised entrance slide open.

That tunnel was the exact opposite of the one that they used to get into Gateon Port in the first place. It was tall enough to stand up in, wide enough to provide elbow room, and fairly cool. Instead of jagged rocks lining it, the tunnel was surrounded by strips of ridged metal, much like the kind on the roof.

It was still somewhat long, however. The length must've caused Trudly to be bored out of his mind, since he started telling Folly more about where they were all of a sudden. It did catch Folly's interest, though. Trudly said that he heard that there were a bunch of similar places scattered across Orre. Apparently, they were originally used as secret meeting places for Cipher agents. When the distance between two members was too great and the situation called for them to meet in person, they would rendezvous at one of those points. Trudly told Folly that there were places like that in every city, even in peaceful towns like Agate Village.

The rendezvous points in Pyrite Town weren't as modest, however. Just about the entire population were criminals in some fashion, so such places were free to advertise themselves above ground. Folly knew that quite well. He and Trudly used to live in one.

Before long, the end of the tunnel, an old wooden door was in sight. Standing guard there was a thin man looking like he was around Trudly's and Folly's age. He was wearing a style of clothing common in Orre, especially in places like Pyrite Town. The style was similar to what Trudly was wearing; both had baggy pants, a vest, and a hat that was hard to imagine what was supposed to be. But Trudly's vest was orange while the guard's was red. The guard's peculiar hat was brown instead of blue and the nubs were positioned on the sides of his head. He also wore a pair of sunglasses that resembled the ones Folly had, although his was a brighter shade of blue than the guard's.

Fashion didn't matter much to either Trudly or Folly. After all, they haven't changed a shred of what they wore for years. Trudly's hat was certainly laughable, even to Folly. But Trudly said that it was comfortable and he didn't care what people thought about it. Folly had also taken to following Trudly's philosophy about clothing. His blue tank top and his mud-stained jeans were worn-out, old, and not too pleasing to look at. But Folly could imagine that they would feel a lot better than some stuffy and hot clothes that others saw as fashionable.

It didn't take long for the guard to notice Trudly and Folly coming, and when he did, he backed right into the door. Folly heard him swear under his breath before hissing out loud, "What the hell do you want?"

"Jus' to find out somethin'," Trudly replied nonchalantly at first, but soon returned the hiss, "Get outta may way."

The guard didn't budge, however, even as Trudly proceeded further towards him. Trudly was forced to stop eventually, as he was soon practically in the guard's face. The guard gave him a stern glare while standing his ground firmly and holding his nose.

Trudly looked back at him, but not at his face. Rather, he seemed to be examining his clothing, "Y'know, dat's a pretty nice vest ya got 'ere."

Both Folly and the guard raised a single eyebrow simultaneously. Folly thought Trudly would've went into conniptions at the stubbornness of the guard. But instead he was going off at an irrelevant tangent about fashion, something he didn't even like?

"I like it," Trudly laughed briefly before crossing his arms and smirking, "I mean, I really, really, like it."

The guard was silent for a few more moments. Folly's heart leapt in fear when the guard growled with clenched teeth under his breath. The guard calmed down, however, when he dragged himself out of Trudly's path. His fists were still balled up and muttered irately, "Go in."

The guard apparently figured out what Trudly meant by his statements, but Folly still didn't. Still confused, Folly followed Trudly inside, who was silently smirking with his hands stuffed in his pockets.

The faint sound of a television was the first thing that Folly noticed. He scanned his surroundings even more as he and Trudly advanced further into the tavern. The walls and ceiling were made of a rusty metal. If it wasn't for the darkness of the room and the atmosphere, Folly would've completely forgotten that he was underground. Against the wall in front of them were several glasses and a rainbow of bottles sitting on a series of shelves.

Much to Folly's surprise, there wasn't a whole lot of people there at the time. But of course, Gateon Port was no Pyrite Town. There may have been plenty of roughneck sailors in the city, but there certainly wasn't an overabundance of criminals. The only people that was there besides Folly and Trudly was the bartender ahead, and a single man sitting alone at one of the several round tables. As Folly and Trudly strode past the man, Folly saw him out of the corner of his eyes gaze at them and made Folly swiftly drop his head.


18th August 2007, 3:27 PM
As they approached the bar, the bartender, a middle-aged man with light gray hair, finally took notice of them. At first, he merely took a glimpse at them, but quickly did a double-take. Just like the guard before him, Folly saw him wince, back up, and mutter a swear. The bartender's wide-eyed expression rapidly changed into a much more untroubled one before he spoke up, "Well I'll be damned. Been wondering how long it would take before you two showed your faces."

Folly could imagine that the bartender had been wondering how long it would take for anybody to show their faces around there. From the looks of it, he wasn't getting a whole lot of business, seeing as how he only had three customers there. And since the bar seemed just as filthy as the falling-apart building it was situated below, Folly couldn't picture himself going there frequently either. Since he was forced to live in a cave everyday, he had a fairly good view of what dirty was.

Trudly simply grunted in reply to the bartender. The bartender didn't seemed too fazed, though, and began talking again as Trudly and Folly pulled themselves up the creaky wooden bar stools, "I saw both of you limping over here. Get in a fight or something?"

"Yup." Trudly said dully and shortly. Folly found the way Trudly replied to the bartender rather strange. Even though Trudly wasn't the one to chatter incessantly, he was usually a lot more talkative than he was being.

His statement was a lie, though. Sure, Trudly woke the dead with his screaming at Folly on the way to the bar, but it was way too one-sided to be called a fight. And besides, the only fights he ever got into with Trudly were always vocal and never physical.

The bartender huffed curtly and stared at Trudly for a brief moment before turning his back on him. "So what can I get you?"

"We ain't thirsty." Trudly's reply was once again brusque. Folly first thought that his bad mood had begun to return. But then again, that was how Trudly treated nearly all of the general public, regardless of what he was feeling.

Trudly's answer was, of course, another complete lie. Folly couldn't say much about Trudly, but he was parched. His throat and mouth became more coarse and more sore with every breath of air he took. He could’ve had something to drink before they left the cave, but it just figured that Trudly dumped the last freshwater they had on his foot.

He set his elbows on the surface of the bar, held his head against his fist, and stared at the bottles full of colored wine. Folly had his eyes set particularly on the bottle with the pink wine, which he assumed was made from Mago berries. He remembered hearing that the people who harvest the Mago berries only choose the curviest ones to use for wine. Supposedly, the way the tip of the berry curves into itself was an indication of how sweet it was. And for Folly, the sweeter, the better.

Folly moaned at the fact that he probably wouldn't get his hands on one anytime soon. For one, a single bottle by itself was likely to be fairly expensive and Folly barely had any money on him. Being able to steal it wasn't even close to being an issue. Folly may have lost the speed he used to be known for when pulling off robberies, but he still had his stealth. He was completely confident that he could get up, take the bottle off the shelf, and sit back down before the bartended would notice he even got up in the first place.

The problem was Trudly. He had a strong hatred of things he deemed "useless", or anything they didn't need to survive. Wine was just one of those items on his mental list. Folly could picture him going into such a fit if he caught him with such a thing. Even worse for Folly's thirst was that Trudly became even more stern about that in particular as of late.

The bartender turned back around and looked at Trudly sharply, but then gave him a small chuckle, "Well if you didn't come here for a drink, what'd you come here for?"

"Y'know my boss? Y'know, tall, lanky, huge 'fro?" Trudly began to describe Miror B., his dull, short tone still not wavering.

"Miror B.?"

"Yeah. Y'know where he is?"

The bartender leaned himself against a nearby wall and sighed. As he spoke, his eyes were on the ceiling and his arms crossed, "The guy comes here frequently. Not enough to be an actual regular, though," He paused for a few seconds and began chuckling for a short while, "He says this place needs 'brightening up'. Actually, as a matter of fact, he was here a little earlier than noon today-"

"I don't give a Rattata's *** 'bout he was! I wanna know where he is! Y'know or not?!" Trudly's anger and impatience finally broke loose as he snarled through his teeth.

There was a long silence following the beginning of what could've been an outburst of anger from Trudly. The bartender scowled at Trudly through narrowed eyes. He groaned to himself and then copied Trudly's tone, "He said he was going to the lighthouse and then the Krabby Club a few hours after that."

Folly wasn't surprised much. The lighthouse that overlooked the sea was Miror B.'s favorite place in Gateon Port, if not all of Orre. The one thing Miror B. loved more than anything was dancing. There was plenty of space on top of the lighthouse, more than any stage Folly knew of. That made it a perfect place to practice his dancing in solace. Miror B. did love attention, but Folly remembered him saying years prior that there were times he just didn't feel like being watched.

Folly's attention shifted to the television that he heard on the way inside. It was a brand-new plasma screen television that was attached to the wall next to him. In such a dingy place like the bar, the television almost seemed out of place.

Trudly had also noticed the television and stared at it with Folly. While Folly was neutral about it, he saw that Trudly's eyes were narrowed and his eyebrows furrowed. He hated televisions as well, especially the extravagant sort like the one in front of them. In Trudly's opinion, they were, "A big ol' metal box dat people buy 'cause they're too lazy to 'perience life themselves, so they substitute dat for a fake one. Then they lose da ability to think on their own and 'stead only thinks what dat damn screen tells 'em to. Yeah, ya can get it for da news 'n stuff, but we all know dat people are jus' too damn impatient. They gotta have every bit of information at their whim when they want it. Arceus forbid they gotta wait 'til da newspaper comes out 'n forbid it even more dat they gotta read it!"

Folly thought about it, and realized that there wasn't a whole lot about society that Trudly did like.

Without another word, Trudly suddenly stood up and began to head towards the exit at a fast, angry pace. Folly was absorbed in the television screen and didn't notice right away that Trudly was leaving. It may have been just a flashy commercial that the screen was showing at the moment, but it still hooked Folly's attention all the same. It featured some billionaire in extravagant, gaudy clothing, and a giant of a mansion in the background. The billionaire bragged about how he made tons of money my entering the world of business. Then he pointed his index finger, illuminated by the gold rings that it was adorned with, straight at Folly. The billionaire said that Folly could too and then a row of numbers separated by an occasional dash flashed below him.

But before Folly could look at and memorize the rest of the numbers after "1-800", he noticed Trudly beginning to leave and hastily followed suit as fast as he could. It was a shame, really. In a way, Folly wished he could be more like the billionaire in the commercial. He didn't care if he got rich or not. Besides, Trudly would have at least three hemorrhages if even a percent of that idea got processed in his head. But he did wish that he could have enough money so he wouldn't have to worry at night when his next meal would come.

Of course, that was why he began saving his money over a year ago. It wasn't a whole lot, but it was something. Loose change was practically useless in most eyes, but Folly knew it would add up eventually. Then maybe he could buy him and Trudly a better life.

He realized that would take a considerable amount of time, however. But since he knew he was good at making things, Folly figured that he might be able to invent something useful. Something that people would want. Then he could sell that and make money off of it. He had plenty of material to use, since he had a pile of things he found interesting over the past year building up back in the cave. All he needed to do then was figure out how to put it all together.

Folly's daydream and train of thought was suddenly halted when he felt something hit his arm. It may have only tapped his arm lightly, but it was enough to set off his usual nervous response. His fists balled up again and his breath shook rapidly. The cold sweat also came back and filled Folly's head with thoughts of paranoia. But before Folly became blinded by anxiety and got the chance to swing his fist, Trudly swiftly stepped in front of him.

The last bit of self-control struggling to survive at that moment overcame the anxiety and halted Folly. Reminded of he accidentally punched Trudly and how guilty he felt after that, he unfurled his fists. Within seconds, Folly regained control of the rest of his body. His senses were no longer blurred and his breathing became regular again.

Once he got a hold of himself, Folly looked over the raging fireball that Trudly became. Trudly's own fists became clenched as well as his teeth. Though his teeth once again came a heavy breath filled with anger enough to make a Tauros jealous. His voice became elevated at a high volume as he snarled and spat, "What da hell's ya problem?! Ya lookin' for trouble?! 'Cause ya came to da right person!"

Folly peered at who Trudly was screaming at while staying a fair distance away from both of them. The same black-haired man that was sitting alone at a table was the target of Trudly's anger. But he didn't seem too bothered by him. He sat firmly in place without so much as a dirty look. The man took a swing of the yellow wine in front of him and emptied what was left of it in the glass. After he took a quick breath and set the glass back on the table, he calmly spoke up, "I was looking to get your attention."

"Well now ya got it!" Trudly barked sharply, even though his shouting didn't seem to be doing any damage.

The man, still unfazed by Trudly, withdrew one of his hands into his coat pocket. Trudly adjusted his position where he stood directly in Folly's point of view. Folly groaned shortly and moved himself so he could see better, but every attempt was annoyingly thwarted with Trudly continuously blocking him. Instead of seeing what was going on like he wanted, he could only hear the man say, "When you see your boss, hand him this."

Folly, fed up with not being able to see anything but Trudly's back, decided he was going to see what the man was talking about regardless of what Trudly wanted. But to his surprise, Trudly didn't object to it and stayed in one spot.

In Trudly's hand was a piece of paper folded up in a little square. Just as Trudly began to unfold it, the man stopped him with a sudden, sharp tone, "His eyes only."

Trudly's response was nothing more that a rude snort. He stopped trying to open the note, even though Folly was curious as well, and stuffed it in his pants pocket. He spun around and silently stormed off in the exit's direction. Folly followed behind him fast enough to keep him in sight, but slow enough to not be near him the next time he lets in anger loose.

* * *

Folly didn't hate Gateon Port as a whole. There were some qualities about it that was to his liking, such as being a mostly visibly appealing town and being a place that was slightly easier to live in compared to the rest of Orre. The latter was mostly thanks to the faulty security in the stores. Before he and Trudly arrived, crime wasn't too prevalent in Gateon Port. For that reason, it had no need for much of a police force.

But then again, Pyrite Town was in desperate need of a good police force, but it didn't have one either. Large amounts of people that were willing to uphold the "law" was practically unheard of. And most people that did work for the police were stationed in the prisons scattered around the desert, dealing with the criminals that have already been captured.

The only time that Folly had seen any of the police in Orre even attempt to capture somebody in the first place was while leaving an idiot of an officer named Johnson in the dust back in Pyrite. The police force mostly relied on bounty hunters to bring in wanted criminals. A lot of people made their living that way.

There was no way Folly could try to take that up, though. He once wanted to, but as usual, Trudly countered with an objection. Trudly said that if Folly tried bringing in a criminal to the police, they would lock up the criminal along with Folly and pay him zilch. For all Folly knew, he and Trudly were likely to have a bounty on them as well. He didn't know for how much, and hopefully, he never would have to find out.

Even though Folly didn't direct his hatred towards Gateon Port in general, there were characteristics he did take aim at. There were three main things in particular that irked him. One, there was just too many people. Orre's population wasn't very impressive, but Gateon Port had mind-numbingly large and uncomfortably dense crowds, as Folly would know.

Secondly, the rotating bridges annoyed Folly to no end. Since boats were constantly entering and leaving the bay, they couldn't have normal bridges connecting the mainland and the lighthouse directly in front of the bay. They could've put in a drawbridge, but instead they installed bridges that rotated when a panel was stomped and made Folly green with nausea. It did the same to Trudly, and he hated them just as much.

The third thing that Folly severely disliked about Gateon Port was the lighthouse. He didn't hate the way it was built. On the contrary, the tall lighthouse was a nearly perfectly rounded cylinder with no apparent errors that occurred in the building process. The strongest and toughest steel was chosen to form the thick rings that braced the stone body of the lighthouse. The architectural masterpiece was said to be practically impervious to fierce, crashing waves, since it had stood firmly through decades of hurricanes.

He didn't hate the methods of getting up it. Sure, there was an elevator that would probably make him sick as well. But that was why he used the staircase.

What he hated the lighthouse for was the stigma that got attached to it. Namely the memories that he'd give anything to forget.

After tottering off the rotating bridges, both Folly and Trudly had to pause before moving on. Folly's head ached and everything he saw began to spin around and around like a wheel. As Folly plopped himself on a nearby wooden crate, the humid air intensified his pounding headache. He bent over, asserting pressure on his upside-down stomach. No matter how many times he went on those bridges, his body would just never adjust to the dizziness that came from it.

Trudly was just as green in the face, if not more, as Folly. Just looking at him made a horrible, bitter taste jump into his mouth and his stomach turn even more. Trudly didn't bother sitting down, but instead leaned against a rusty oil barrel. He stayed in that one spot with his sunglasses removed and his hand over his eyes. Eventually, he slowly removed his hand, but still didn't move before staring off at seemingly nothing, blinking furiously.

Once Trudly appeared to get a hold of himself, he began to head towards the sliding doors that served as the entrance to the lighthouse. "Hey Folly. C'mon."

Folly dropped his head. He didn't want to go into that damned lighthouse knowing who was waiting for him. Even if Miror B. wasn't at the summit, Folly still go inside on free will easily. There was too much associated with the lighthouse. Too many horrible and vivid memories that brought him pain just thinking about them.

He severely doubted Trudly would waver from his decision that both of them had to go inside. But despite that, Folly blurted out words of stubbornness, although rather meekly, "Ya go 'head. Gonna stay out here."

Trudly slipped his hands over his eyes again, shaking his head and sighing, "Folly..." He then went back to what he was doing previously: hanging his head for a long period of time while keeping his eyes covered. "We already went through dis, Folly. Da boss is gonna be ticked as hell if both of us ain't 'ere."

Folly expected Trudly to say that. He still didn't have the motivation to get up, however. What could Trudly say that would convince him to go in there? Were there even any words in existence to make that possible? And besides, what did Trudly know? Did Trudly live through the memories that plagued Folly at every turn? No. He didn't. So how could he ever understand?

"Please Folly... don't make dis difficult. I told ya yer gonna be jus' fine. Jus' stay behind me and let me do da talkin'," Trudly softly, a tone that seemed unnatural coming out of his mouth, instructed Folly to do everything that came natural to him, "I promised ya dat I ain't gonna let anythin' happen to ya."

Common sense finally took a hold of Folly and forced him to get up. Trudly probably wasn't going to go in without him anyways, and would've stayed there until he had to drag Folly up the lighthouse.

And even if Trudly wasn't so strict and went up by himself, Folly wasn't sure he could handle being alone. It didn't matter whether he was inside or outside the lighthouse, just being around it made him tense and edgy. But when Trudly was nearby, things were a bit different. He didn't think about things that made him nervous as much. Thoughts such as the sheer drops that would take places from even the first set of windows and how hard the cold, gray concrete was below didn't come to him as often.

Even though he still didn't like it, Folly trudged over to the lighthouse and follow Trudly inside. The interior of the lighthouse was dark with the exception of the sunlight peering through the square windows. However, the shade didn't do much justice to cool Trudly and Folly down. With the stagnant air, darkness, cramped space, and hatred Folly had for it, the lighthouse was a miniature version of the tunnel they used to get to Gateon Port.

There was a small elevator that greeted both of them a short distance from the entrance, but they took the spiraling flight of stairs instead. Though the elevator could take them to the top quicker, and Trudly was so adamant about getting everything done and over with, neither of their stomachs could handle the ride up. Trudly and Folly didn't use things that lifted or rotated them as frequently as most people in Orre who were used to it to get around. They preferred old-fashioned walking as opposed to having their insides flopped around.

Having the option to stand in a metal cylinder and let that bring him to the top instead of dragging his bad leg along a bunch of stone steps began to sound rather appealing to Folly. But by the time the muscles in his leg began to pound pain through him and refuse to work anymore, it was too late to go back. Folly ended up falling back against the wall, needing rest whether Trudly liked it or not.

His back slammed against a section of the wall that was close to a large, wide window that was almost as tall as Folly. It had a firm screen of metal formed into a grid-like pattern over it, which never used to be there. But covered or not, Folly couldn’t stand being near that thing. With what energy in his injured leg he could draw from, he hurriedly scooted along the wall away from the window until he felt secure again.

However, his rash action came with a price. His leg couldn’t take anymore stress and failed on Folly completely, causing him to slide to the floor. The pain got to the point where a twitch felt like taking a hammer to it. Folly knew that Trudly just wanted to hurry up, but he couldn’t stand it anymore and had to stay still for a while.

But all Trudly did was ask if he was going to be alright. It became stranger every time Trudly did that. Being so set on doing something and then turn around and be okay with doing the opposite.

Even though it was a simple yes or no question, Folly didn’t know what to answer with. Yes, the painful stinging in his leg that he felt at that moment would stop eventually and would be alright for a short while. But no, he wouldn’t be alright in the long run because the pain would just keep coming back on and off until the leg either fell off or he dies altogether. To save thinking about it for any longer, he simply said, “Yes ’n no.” which earned him a strange, awkward look from Trudly.

After a minute or so passed by, Folly began to think about how sad and pathetic the situation was. He remembered years ago that he and Trudly used to have footraces up and down the lighthouse. There really wasn’t any reason to them other than bragging rights. Prior to the very first race they had, Trudly didn’t believe Folly when he said that he could run faster. And even after Folly proved Trudly wrong by a long shot, Trudly kept denying it and demanded rematches. Back then, they would tear up and down the lighthouse several times in a row. Now Folly couldn’t even get past the first flight of stairs without needing a break.


This is pathetic...

Folly knew for the longest time how weak he was. He couldn’t run fast anymore, moving too much hurt, and if things got really bad, he literally had to be carried just to make it through. What if Trudly wasn’t there? What if Trudly wasn’t around to lift Folly off his feet every time he tripped up? The answer was simple and one that Folly didn’t need to think much about. Without Trudly, Folly would be dead.

After so long of being forced to wallow in self-pity, Folly finally decided to do something about it. He was sick of depending on Trudly so much instead of trying to stand on his own two feet.

Well no more.

Folly lifted himself off the floor, allowing assistance from only his own hands and his uninjured leg. He pressed his hands against the cold wall to support himself as his good leg tried to lift him up by itself. Even though Folly tried to move the other one as little as possible as he slid up the wall, it instinctively lifted itself anyways. That only made things worse and hindered Folly’s progress. Despite the fact that the pain got progressively worse with every movement, that voice of willpower in his head convinced him to keep going.

Trudly didn’t react much when Folly stood up, but did when he tried to move away from the wall. His eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets and his tone was quick and loud, “Folly! Whattaya doin’?!”

Folly heard Trudly, but ignored him. It took nearly all of his concentration just to be able to walk. He couldn’t afford to be distracted, or else that would just lead to him crashing down to the ground.

Earlier that day, Folly remembered griping to himself about how he couldn’t ignore pain like Trudly could. And he still couldn’t. But instead of trying to pretend it wasn’t there, Folly pressed on with the mindset that he wouldn’t let the pain stop him. He still had two more floors to go through, and it wasn‘t even a straight path to the staircases. He had to maneuver around a bunch of walls and obstacles sitting in his path. When he reached the top and proved to Trudly that he wasn’t a weak person, then he could rest.

“Wha... Get back here! Ya haven’t even been restin’ for five minutes! Y... ya gonna hurt yourself!” Trudly’s volume increased with every syllable, causing his words to echo in the room.

It was next to impossible not to hear Trudly, but Folly took none of it in. He continued to lumber towards the staircase with a complete disregard of what Trudly was yelling. More and likely, Trudly’s loudness would’ve frightened him at any other time. But he was sick of that as well.

I’m done being weak. I’m done being scared.

The staircase couldn’t have been more than a few more feet away, but it took Folly a good few minutes to reach it. As he held his hands against the wall while inching closer, he beheld the monstrous, curving series of steps. It seemed monstrous at the time, however. In his condition, the staircase and the ones that followed it compared to a mountain range. And Folly knew that was a living hell in itself.

Just as Folly began his trek up the stairs, he heard Trudly bark at him again, who was evidently starting to get angry, “Are ya deaf?! Folly ya get back down here now!”

Folly slumped against the wall, the next staircase within a few steps reach. But he’d never make it up as long as Trudly’s screaming orders were stealing his concentration, and he need every shred of it, “Sh... shut up!”

Trudly suddenly grew silent.

He stared at Folly with his mouth open, but with no words coming out of it. It was a rare occurrence to be louder than Trudly, since his own ragged breath was the noisiest thing he could hear.

Being completely silent wasn't the only uncharacteristic thing he was doing. Usually when Folly glimpsed that Trudly's face, he could tell whether he was happy, angry, or sad. All he normally needed to look at was his mouth, since the other features, such as the eyes, said nothing about emotion to Folly. If Trudly was grinning, he was happy. Clenching his teeth meant he was angry, and frowns stood for sadness. It was usually just as straightforward as that. But when Trudly finally closed his gaping mouth, it became a straight line with no curves at all to it. Without any indication of what Folly could draw Trudly's emotions from, he was left clueless as to what he was feeling during that long, atypical silence.

Feeling like his short break had been long enough, Folly began to pull himself up the stairs. Being unable to lift his left leg up enough to walk up the steps like a normal person would, he ended up having to drag it limply behind him. Folly not only had to withstand the usual pain he felt in his leg, but also the pain that intensified the existing one every time his leg scraped against the stone steps. Creating cuts and bruises on unscathed skin made Folly cringe enough, but it made him cry out when it hit existing wounds.

Once he made it to the top of the staircase, Folly stopped for another rest. He wiped the sweat that was pouring off his forehead and gazed at the next staircase, which he knew would be a repeat of what he just went through. But even so, the determined thoughts in his head were very persuasive in their argument and convinced Folly to keep going.

Before he got up, he noticed that the area around him seemed... vacant. Paranoid and suddenly feeling lonesome, Folly swiveled his head frantically, searching for Trudly. He spotted him still standing at the foot of the stairs and haven’t budged an inch since Folly last faced him. Trudly was still utterly silent and his head was now lowered as opposed to looking at Folly directly. It struck Folly deep to see Trudly doing something he usually did; it was like Trudly became his own reflection. And when the silence finally broke, it shocked Folly even more to hear Trudly speak so quietly, “What’s wrong with ya, Folly?”

What’s wrong with me?,Folly wondered in his head amidst all the disbelief that Trudly was acting the way he was. He wanted to repeat himself out loud and ask Trudly to clarify, but he didn’t want to spend the precious energy doing so. What did Trudly mean by that? Did Trudly think that trying to overcome weakness meant there was something wrong? If so, when did trying to be strong become a bad thing? Didn’t Trudly want Folly to be strong? Folly thought he didn’t like weakness. So why was he complaining?

With those thoughts fresh in his head, Folly’s motivation began to fade. After all, Folly put himself through that much pain in order for Trudly to see him as something besides helpless. But after thinking about the possibility that Trudly didn’t want him to be strong, Folly felt that there wasn’t any other reason to keep going. Sure, boosting his ego did feel nice, but he knew that once he got to his destination, all that confidence would simply be shot down and wasted. And besides, he was putting up with such exhaustion to go somewhere he didn’t even want to go.

Folly thought about it more, and came to the conclusion that maybe he just wasn’t trying hard enough. He had only scaled one set of stairs on his own will, so it figured that Trudly wasn’t impressed just yet. But once he got through the last ones, Trudly would be.

Folly waited until Trudly finally walked up the stairs before he headed off again. The sound Folly began to hear was faint at first, but became clearer as Folly approached the next staircase. It was the distinct tempo of loud, upbeat, disco music. True to Miror B.’s fussy taste in music, there wasn’t a depressing note to be found in it. He made sure that every millisecond of the songs he listened to were put himself in a positive mood.

Miror B. seemed to always be apt on lightening people’s moods and never tried to darken them, but he still did anyway.

The music was a signal that Folly was getting close. The fact that Miror B. was up there didn’t motivate Folly’s subconscious to tell him to keep going, but the fast, repetitive beat did. However, the closer he got to the top, the more the music became distorted. He could tell it was playing, but he could no longer make out a single note.

His mind started to scramble itself and scattered his thoughts as well. Folly’s physical exhaustion became his mental exhaustion. Every movement he made was no longer dictated by a conscious decision. It was like Folly switched onto autopilot and simply sat back and watched what was doing. He just thoughtlessly plodded ahead in a hypnotized-fashion without asking why anymore.

In addition, Folly’s warped psyche began to perceive time as nonexistent. Within at flash it seemed, Folly was at the top of the lighthouse with barely any memory of how he made it the rest of the way up. All of a sudden, he was shakily standing out in the blinding, dazzling sunlight with music blaring in his ears.

It didn’t stay like that for long, however. Just as quickly as everything appeared to him, it disappeared. His vision went completely black and the music silenced as he collapsed to the ground with a thud.


18th August 2007, 3:31 PM
* * *

He felt terrible.

The only feeling in his leg was severe, biting pain that gnawed at him. Nearly all of his energy was gone; he barely even felt like opening his eyes. All he felt like doing was falling asleep, but humid, sticky air was just plain uncomfortable to sleep in.

Folly’s sense of hearing was recovering, however. The music had stopped, but instead the wind whistled a soft, tuneless song for him. But above all, he heard a set of foggy voices within a short distance of him.


"Folly! Snap outta it, man!"

"I don't think he can hear us. Good Mew, he just passed out here just like that?!"

"Well, he was actin' kinda weird comin' up here. Seemed completely outta it."

"Ludi luuudi!? Cololo!"

Perhaps Folly was being a bit foolish back there. He knew trying to cover the lighthouse in one go might've been too much for him, but he shunned that voice of reason and instead listened to the inane one. Now he wished that he had gone up the lighthouse in small portions and not made himself so exhausted.

The one thing on his mind was sleep and he tried to achieve it despite the noise and thick air. But just as his consciousness began to slip once again, a light splash of water sprayed his face. His eyes abruptly forced themselves open and he began coughing furiously when some of the water found its way into his mouth. He lifted his head up gingerly once the coughing ceased in order to find out where on earth the water came from, only to have it spatter at him again.

Irritated, Folly wiped his face dry when the second assault of water stopped and glared at the culprit. The Pokemon in front of him was the exact opposite of the frustration in Folly at that moment. Energetic and cheerful, he smiled widely through his duck bill and gleefully looked at Folly back with his lively eyes. His yellow, husk-like down with thick brown stripes rustled as he swayed back and forth and spun around without an iota of negativity. The Ludicolo then skipped over to Folly and embraced him with his green, mitt-like hands.

Folly flinched when the Ludicolo suddenly hugged him, but that was only because the wide lily pad growing on his head hit Folly's. Having Pokemon touch him was a lot different that having people touch him. Sure, most Pokemon had the ability to kill him quicker than any human could, but Folly knew that Ludicolo personally and knew that he would never have the notion to hurt him. In other words, Folly thought that Pokemon were much more trustworthy than most humans.

Folly could hear other Ludicolo, about four of them, chanting in the same joyful manner across from him. But even though the other Ludicolo had a similar attitude as the one that was hugging Folly did at first glance, that one was different to Folly. Physically speaking, he was smaller than the rest, since he was a lot younger. But Folly knew the Ludicolo holding him, Luco, better than the others and vice-versa. After all, Luco was the only one out of all those Ludicolo that came up to him and made sure he was alright. Just knowing that somebody really cared about him made him a bit more at ease.

Folly's sight was obscured by Luco's down, so he could only hear the footsteps approaching him. He didn't worry about it though, since those footsteps were heavy instead of light and smooth, meaning that they belong to Trudly. "Hey. Ya okay?"

Luco moved out of the way, although reluctantly. Folly could now see Trudly standing directly in front of him looking down at Folly. After Folly mumbled an affirmative to him, Trudly bent down so he could look at Folly at eye height. "Good. 'Cause I need to tell ya somethin'. C'mere."

Curious, Folly leaned forward as far as he could without moving anything that hurt at that moment. Trudly, in turn, moved his head towards Folly's ear. He whispered, "Ya ready?" to Folly, who anxiously replied with a mutter, just wanting to hear what Trudly had to say. Folly listened closely when Trudly calmly and quietly opened his mouth and took a breath before telling him what was on his mind:


Folly flew himself backwards and slammed into the wall behind him when the thunderous blast of noise assaulted his eardrums. Even Luco jumped back in surprise. Deaf for a few moments, he couldn't even hear his own heavy heartbeat and rapid breath. Being screamed at from a distance Folly might have been able to get used to in time. But apparently, Trudly had caught on to his plans to ignore his rants and found a new way to get things across to Folly.

"Hey, now come on! There's no need to get so cross, now is there?"

Once Folly heard that voice, he wished he could've stayed deaf a little longer. To anybody else, that voice would've been smooth and joyful, an indication of someone of optimistic spirits. But to Folly, every word spoken through that voice sounded menacing.

When Trudly screamed at him, Folly could start to feel the beat of his own heart. Hearing that voice didn't make it calm down, but only heightened the intensity of the pounding sound. His breath was irregular again, and the fear muzzled him from uttering a single word. If Folly had any energy left to move away, he was blocked from using it, since he froze up completely.

Folly didn't want to be scared, but he just couldn't help it.

Since Trudly was in front of him and blocked most of his point of view, Folly hoped that he wouldn't have to look at Miror B.. But when he was as tall as he was, that was next to impossible. Miror B. was tall and lanky by himself without comparison. But the giant mass of hair made his height even more incredible in an almost inhuman way. The massive half-red, half-white afro bounced and wobbled on his head as he danced and walked at the same time.

Miror B.'s choice of clothing was unusually fashionable and extravagant, considering that he was the boss of two fashionless teenagers. He sported an dark purple open vest that matched his long pants. Around his neck was a silky and soft yellow scarf, which was one piece of clothing that was practically non-existent in Orre. His elevator shoes increased his height even more and were the only piece of clothing on Miror B. that had been scratched, due to his obsession with dancing.

When Folly saw Miror B. maneuver himself so Trudly wasn't blocking his view anymore, he instantly dropped his head and closed his eyes. He couldn't see Miror B.'s bright blue eyes behind his sparkly, silver sunglasses, so Folly didn't know if he was looking at him or not. But he didn't care. Folly didn't want to look at Miror B. and he didn't want Miror B. to look at him. He couldn't do too much about the latter, but could about the former.

Miror B. didn't say anything for a moment, but then suddenly and cheerfully burst out with, "So what are you boys doing here anyways? Didn't I say in my e-mail that we'd meet at the Krabby Club?" Miror B. was almost always like that. Trying to sound happy at every waking moment of his life.

"Yeah, well, we heard dat ya were here, and y'know..." Trudly muttered dully. Folly could imagine why. He couldn't see Trudly wanting to talk much to Miror B. either.

Miror B. began to laugh, but was only improving his own mood, not Folly's. He could laugh all he wanted to, but no smile would ever appear on Folly's face. "Ah, it's no big deal! Besides! I didn't expect to see you two for another few hours anyways!" Once Miror B. stopped laughing, his voice grew a small amount of seriousness as he asked, "So, do you got anything for me?"

"Well, actually..." Trudly grumbled as Folly heard him dig through the items in his pocket, causing them to rattle and clink together.

Folly could tell when Trudly pulled out the Krabby's Poke Ball, as Miror B. exclaimed, "You're serious?! You... you actually got a Pokemon for me?!"

"Yeah," Trudly sounded rather disbelieving himself. After all, neither he nor Folly had ever caught a wild Pokemon in their entire lives, "Caught it dis mornin'."

"Caught it, huh? So it's not going to strong right off the bat... But that's no problem! At least..." Miror B. first sounded as flamboyant and in good spirits as ever, but suddenly interrupted himself, "Wait... it's not a fire-type, is it?"

Miror B. always had something against fire-types, the one kind of Pokemon he couldn't stand. He had never said why and asking him to reveal his reasons would make him unusually glum. He'd just say "It doesn't matter." and never speak of it again. Of course, Folly remembered him saying once that he might make an exception for a fire-type if it could dance.

"Nah, it's a Krabby." Trudly corrected him bitterly, apparently still angry at the crab for attacking him that morning.

"A water-type! That just makes everything groovier!" Miror B. began laughing again, declaring his love for water Pokemon. Although, he had said several times that he preferred grass-types more, "Now this has just made my day! Here I was thinking that you wouldn't bring me anything as usual, but instead I get a sweet Pokemon like this! Now we're one step closer to-"

"'Catchin' all da Pokemon in da whole, wide, groovy world'," Trudly interrupted and finished Miror B.'s sentence for him, "We know."

Miror B. had always said that the sole objective of "Team Miror" was to own every last Pokemon out there, ever since an inkling of the idea formed in his head. Personally, Folly thought it was ridiculous. Catching every last Pokemon in the world? It sounded impossible to him. He thought Trudly would've agreed with him, but Folly has never heard him object to the nonsense idea even once.

Folly wished he could have a life that made more sense. But instead, his only meaning was apparently to work towards an impossible goal for someone that was out of his mind. He tried to convince Trudly to think rationally about Miror B.'s ideas, but he wouldn't listen. If had only listened... then neither of them would have to be living in the present with an invisible glimmer of hope for the future.

"By da way. Some guy told me to give ya dis." Trudly kept on going, even though Folly just wanted him to stop and let Miror B. leave.

Folly could tell that Trudly was handing Miror B. the note he was given in the bar, since Folly could hear the paper rustle as Miror B. opened it. There was a long silence, which was uncommon for Miror B. to be quiet for more than a minute or so. It made Folly curious, but he didn't want to open his eyes. So he decided he'd rather be left in the dark.

"Boss? What's it say?" Trudly, apparently, was inquisitive about it too.

"Huh? Oh... um... nothing." Miror B. stuttered quickly as Folly heard him fold the paper hurriedly back up, "Nothing you'd be interested in."

Actually, Folly was quite interested, but Miror B. obviously didn't know that. It wasn't like Miror B. understood anything about Folly in the first place.

Folly heard the rapidly approaching taps of Miror B.'s dance shoes and made sure he was absolutely motionless. His head stayed in his arms and refused to be encouraged from doing otherwise. The closer Miror B. got to him, the more frightened and locked up he got. Even if he wasn't exhausted at that moment, Folly was far too scared to even move away.

"Well, I'm off! I got a performance due at the Krabby Club, and hell, you know I don't want to miss that!" Miror B. announced loudly, which was even louder to Folly and caused him to flinch since he was right near him.

It was impossible to tell if Miror B. was walking away or dancing just by listening to his footsteps. Miror B.'s legs were quite restless and had to be moving all the time. As a result, his feet were constantly tapping in a rhythmic fashion.

The only clue Folly had about if Miror B. was leaving or not was the mechanical sound of the elevator doors sliding open. It was followed by a pitter-patter of synchronized footsteps all coming closer to Folly. Luco also skipped over to his kind, but not before squealing a "Luu di!" to Folly as a farewell. Eventually, Folly could no longer feel Luco's presence beside him.

He heard the elevator doors shut and after that, the air was silent. However, silence contradicted its own definition and possessed a voice. At that particular moment, there was only one word in its vocabulary: fear.

Without Miror B.'s contrived happy-go-lucky voice to overlap what the silence was preaching, there was nothing to stop Folly from realizing his other fears. His realization of the altitude turned into a gut-retching vertigo and forced him to keep his eyes shut. Folly's head then began to fill with vain wishes that he could go back on solid ground and be safe again.

"Hey. Ya can open yer eyes now. He's gone." Trudly suddenly broke the silence and thankfully, Folly's dark train of thought.

Folly, still knowing how high up he was, was reluctant to open his eyes. But things didn't seem so frightening when Trudly was around, and remembering that he was nearby eased his nervousness a little.

But even after Folly opened his eyes and Trudly sat down next to him, that train of thought started it’s engine back up and continued on its destination to melancholy. Folly reviewed the events of the day and sighed with each one. First, Trudly screamed at him for being too slow going to the cave. He hated how Trudly had to be such a prude just because he didn’t like to take time to look at the things around them like Folly did. Then he yelled at Folly when he tried to give Spitz a taste of her own medicine. She did start it, after all. Trudly took a vocal hammer to Folly both when he mistook Trudly for a threat and when he tried to overcome his physical weakness. All day it had been one conniption after another.

At first, Folly turned the angry focus of his thoughts to Trudly. But after a while, Folly finally took grasp of the fact that all those things were his own fault.

Trudly was well aware of Folly’s fears. Miror B., physical contact, crowds, heights, Rawst berries, among many other things. But Folly had one fear that he never had the guts to tell Trudly about. He still could barely bring up that kind of courage. However, he found it in himself to try to ask Trudly to either confirm or assuage his fear, “Trudly?”


For a split second, Folly held himself back. Maybe he was just being a bit overly paranoid. Why would he even thing such a thing in the first place? But he wanted to know if that worrying idea was true or not...

“Ya don’t like me anymore, do ya?”

Trudly swerved his head in Folly’s direction not even a second passing after Folly got done speaking in. That same disbelieving, wide-eyed, jaw-dropped expression from earlier returned on Trudly’s face. “Wha... What?!”

"Said dat ya don't-" Folly began to repeat himself, even though he didn't want to. He thought that such an idea was ridiculous, and Trudly probably thought so too. But did he have plausible reason to think that his friendship with Trudly had faded?

"I...I heard what ya said! Folly... Why would ya think dat?!" Trudly said loudly, but surprisingly, not angrily. Rather, he sounded more sad than anything. Was he upset over the thought of it too?

"Y... yer always yelling... at me. 'Cause ya... hate me... Right?" Folly stuttered and sniffed. Just thinking about how many times Trudly raised his voice at him and how that could lead to Folly being cold and alone for the rest of his life made tears well up. He didn't want to cry and give Trudly more reason not to be his friend anymore. But he couldn't control the rivers flooding down his cheeks incessantly.

Trudly turned his head away from Folly as soon as he started crying. He ran his hands through his long bangs slowly, stopping at his forehead. His hands stayed in that position for a while and held his head as he looked down to the floor. "I don't hate ya. I yell at ya 'cause... ya jus' get on my nerves sometimes."

"G...get on yer nerves an awful lot," Folly gasped as the tears began to choke him. He took a deep breath in hopes it would hold the crying back, but it didn't do much good, "'N ya said dat stupid people get on yer nerves..."

"Ya ain't stupid, Folly. Yer dense, but not stupid," Trudly laughed briefly, though Folly failed to find the humor in the situation, "Ya jus' don't got any common sense, dat's all."

Folly must've had common sense at some point. Because Trudly never used to get so angry like that at him before. Folly didn't want things to become unpleasant between him and Trudly anymore, so his first logical solution to the problem was to do things the way he used to before everything hit the fan. No more crying and no more being scared.

If he could forget everything that happened in the time span since then, it just might've been possible.

Folly didn't want to keep the subject going any longer, so he wiped the tears out his eyes and said, "Sorry". He was glad that he didn't have to fear about their friendship anymore, but he was still ashamed of himself that he was scared that it was going to end. Due to that, a few more tears rolled down his eyes even after he tried to dry them.

"Don't be. If anythin', I should be da one who's sorry," Trudly apologized himself, despite it being obvious that Folly was the cause of the issue, "I shouldn't be takin' everything out on ya Folly. Yeah, things have been frustratin' lately. But dat still ain't no 'scuse."

Folly didn't reply. He didn't want to have to remind himself that he was the reason that Trudly had been so irritated lately.

But he couldn't help but think. Even though he caused Trudly so much annoyance, he was still his friend? Folly wasn't complaining about that, but it was still puzzling.

Trudly had so much to offer as a friend. He always had the right thing to say, always stuck up for Folly, was brave, among countless other qualities. He was always there for Folly, even during the lowest, most painful parts of his life.

But all Folly did was be an annoyance.

Why did Trudly stay around him for so long? Everything bad that happened to Trudly was all his fault. But Trudly still stuck by him?

Maybe it was all true. Maybe Folly was being too down on himself. He didn't know. But what he did know at that moment was that Trudly was right there next to him, waiting for the sunset in the reddening sky. Folly was. He didn't know if Trudly was too. But that didn't matter. As the late afternoon sky gave way to the sparkling night sky, Folly realized that even though countless things in life made him wonder what the whole point was, there were things that made him see that there was a point. As long as Trudly was there, that point remained a prominent thought in Folly's head.

And he didn't want to lose that

Whaaat?! What is this?! Another chapter without Eldes in any way, shape, or form?! Blasphamy! D:

Originally, half of this chapter was going to be in Folly's POV, and the other half would've been in Miror B.'s. But since this was getting really long, I thought it would be better if they each had a whole chapter by themselves.

The Great Butler
19th August 2007, 4:45 AM
Heh, I really like this characterization of Folly and Trudly. Miror B.'s well-written too.

When will we see Eldes again? It's been so long I almost thought the guy in the bar was Greevil!

21st August 2007, 1:03 AM
TGB: You worried me for a while, TGB. I thought my previous chapter drove you away or something. XD

When will we see Eldes again? It's been so long I almost thought the guy in the bar was Greevil!

XD Heheh. Trudly probably would've wound up with a bunch of broken ribs if that was Greevil that he talked back to. XD And besides, Greevil's still locked up.

The guy at the bar was the peon that Terran sent to go find Miror B.. He ain't wearing his Cipher uniform because I can imagine somebody dressed like that would make people very suspcious, even in a bar made for seasoned criminals.

But yeah, it has been a while since Eldes last appeared, hasn't it? That's a sin! I miss my Eldes too. D:

From what I have planned at the moment, Eldes will appear in Chapter Eight, but it won't be in his POV. ;)

Master Blastoise
31st December 2007, 5:04 PM
great fic blueysicle.

you inspired me to write my own fanfic

never thought about Eldes being Michael's father but they both have red hair so it isn't unlogical

I also like the personality of Folly.
He's scared of people and the only person he trusts is Trudly and because of that he always wants to be close to him.
but when he loses him he panicks and attacks someone who was walking up to him.
And in the end that person turns out to be Trudly IMO that is ironic and a little bit deep.

could you put me on the PM list, please.

thanks in advance.

9th January 2008, 1:10 PM
Yeah yeah. I'm slow and lazy. You don't need to tell me... XD

So FINALLY here's Chapter Seven~ Be warned as the chapter contains violence and some language.

Chapter Seven: The Linoone, the Torkoal, and the Curved Road

"Red at night, sailors’ delight."

He remembered hearing that old proverb when he was a child. Being around an unfathomable amount of sailors nearly everyday made it hard to forget, too. But if it was true, then the next day would be perfect.

That worked out fabulous for Miror B.. Dark and stormy days were too depressing and was certainly not his style. He was no sailor by any means, but as long as sunny days were ahead, then he could take delight from that. The world was a stage, after all. And the script he read was a comedy, not a tradgedy.

The wing of the stage he practiced his flawless dancing on wasn't too suitable for him, though. The sand was so loose and not good for routines that normally involved sliding across the dance floor. Sure, the softness of the grainy earth below made it so falls wouldn't be so hard; but he never made that mistake anyways. Despite that, just the fact that he was dancing creating a wide grin on Miror B.s’ face, regardless of the stage.

Of course, dancing alone was no fun. That's why he made sure not a single fraction of a routine was performed without his own personal backup. The quintet of Ludicolo behind him were energetic and masterful dancers in their own right. They seemed like they were dancing in midair; their feet never remained on the ground for more than half a second. The sand below their feet spun in the air with their bodies and rustling down, creating minature dust devils. Their mitten hands were always stretched out away from them, constantly clapping. Sometimes as Miror B. glanced at them every now and then, he forgot whether he was mimicking their elegant steps or whether they were mimicking his.

The four adult Ludicolo, Lulu, Didi, Coco, and Lolo, were all perfectly synchonized with each other, both in their dancing and singing. The fifth and youngest one, Luco, wasn’t as much, however. By Ludicolo standards, he was still fairly young and still in the process of learning the ropes. But even for him, there was an unusual lag in comparison to the other Ludicolo.

“Luco, you’re off today!” Miror B. paused for an extrememly brief moment in order to make his comment, “Something isn’t bugging you, is there?”

“Di luu!” Luco shook and quickly shouted a negative as he tried to keep up with the adults.

Miror B. wasn’t too sure initially. Ludicolo were jolly by instinct, and they always sounded as such. That way, it was nearly impossible to tell if a Ludicolo was lying or not. But Miror B. quickly decided to trust Lucos’ words with a smile. “Glad to hear!”

Miror B. soon found his physical energy was running a bit low. That was an extremely rare occurrence, but even he got tired after continuously dancing for hours on end. The moment Miror B. took a deep breath and ended his lengthy dance routine, his Ludicolo took the signal and plopped down to the sand.

It wasn’t that Miror B. disliked dancing for three straight hours without a break; on the contrary, it was a dream come true. But waiting on the same beach without a change of scenery, other than the pink sunset, for a boat that still had yet to show up did get a little boring. Before long, he had started to wish that he had chosen to perform at the Krabby Club like he originally planned.

But of course, the note he received from Trudly was quite intriguing. After instructing him to wait at Gateon Ports’ southern beach until a boat came to pick him up, the note made mention of “an offer he couldn’t refuse.” It didn’t go into specifics, but the mystery behind it made the whole situation even more exciting. He was a little leery of the footnote that told him to come alone. But as long as his Ludicolo were with him and the person he was meeting up with didn’t know that, things would turn out just fine.

While on the thought of his friends behind him, Miror B. was suddenly reminded of the new member of his “posse.” The arrival of the Krabby was unexpected, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. He grabbed the Krabbys’ Poke Ball, spinning it on his finger for a few seconds before pressing the button in the center. “Let’s check this little guy out!”

After the red energy burst out of the ball and shaped itself to form Miror B.s’ new Pokemon, the Krabby blinked curiously as it scuttled in a circle. In the midst of observing its surroundings, it laid its eyes on Miror B. and immediately shot a glare at him. The Krabby began to spit foam and click its claws furiously at Miror B. with a coarse hiss.

He didn’t take the little Krabbys’ threats too seriously, though, as he bent down near its eye level and grinned. “Well aren’t you a feisty one! I like that! I love having Pokemon that are just teeming with energy!”

Almost as if upset over the realization that Miror B. was its trainer, the Krabby lunged at his face with a greater amount of seriousness in the snaps of its pincers than before. Miror B. backed up and stood on his feet just at the right moment, causing the Krabby to miss with its assault. Miror B.s’ spirits still weren’t dampened by the Krabbys’ sense of hostility and instead of yelling, he ended up laughing, “You know, it isn’t going to do much good to snap those claws at me! I’m a whole lot bigger than you!” The Krabby still didn’t seem too amused, as its claws were still outstretched towards Miror B..

Miror B. took a long look at the frustrated Krabby with a long train of thought to match. “Hmm, you need a name... but I don’t know whether you’re a boy or girl!” He chuckled over the conundrum, knowing that male and female Krabby and Kingler didn’t have any physical differences between the genders that one could see at first. “And I assume you’re not going to let me check, huh?”

Despite the mystery over the Krabbys’ gender, Miror B. still began to brainstorm names while tapping his feet rhythmically. He wanted to keep the tradition of pulling a couple of letters out of the species name and repeating them, as he neglected to do so with Luco. But every name he tried to derive from “Krabby” either didn’t have any vowels or sounded extremely unappealing to Miror B.. However, it didn’t take long for him to come up with a name he liked once he moved on to “Kingler”. “Kiki! Awesome! You think so, too? Of course, I’m just going to assume you’re a girl, so-”

When Miror B. looked down to where his newly dubbed Krabby was standing just minutes before, he saw that the spot was suddenly vacant. Lifting his head quickly, he began to panic when he saw Kiki fleeing as if it meant her life towards the overlapping waves. “ACK! NO! WAIT WAIT WAIT!”

Miror B. frantically began to reach for Kikis’ Poke Ball before she reached the ocean. But before he could get the chance to return her to her Poke Ball, a sudden ray of ice shot centimeters away from Kiki. Kiki jumped back and nearly tumbled over, probably not only from the sudden glare of light that reflected off the Ice Beam, but from how close it came to hitting her. She stared at the ice crystals jutting out of the sparkling, frozen sand for a long time, and then slowly turned herself in the direction the attack came from. As if the Ice Beam connected, Kiki was frozen in place as she laid her widened eyes upon Lulu, who glared at her back. Just the look alone suddenly made Kiki submissive.

Giving a sigh of relief, Miror B. pointed Kikis’ Poke Ball at her and withdrew the Krabby. “Phew. That was a close one...,” Once Kiki was completely inside her Poke Ball, Miror B. turned to Lulu, “Thanks for that!”

Lulu took the compliment to heart and began to spin around on one foot merrily in response. As the oldest and first member of Miror B.s’ team, her sense of authority didn’t come to as much of a surprise to him. The rest of the Ludicolo, as well as the many other Pokemon Miror B. owned, undisputedly saw her as second-in-command. Soon enough, Miror B. knew Kiki would follow suit.

Lulu was basically everything Miror B. saw in the Ludicolo species rolled into one. Beautiful, cheerful, optimistic, cool-headed, and most of all, loyal. To Miror B., Ludicolo were a flawless kind of Pokemon and nobody could change his admiration for them. After all, if he could effectively defend his love for Ludicolo during several past arguments on whether they or a bunch of purple oysters were better, then what else could challenge him?

Miror B. took another sigh as he was absorbed in his thoughts. For a split second, instead of looking at the sunset sitting on the ocean’s horizon, he stared at the darkening sky above. The cloudless sections of the approaching night sky were pitch black with a few sporadic sparkles scattered around. Other than that, the light in the darkness was limited. The shine that the moon was giving off was becoming less and less every night until eventually, the sky would be completely black.

Miror B. quickly shook off that attitude and went back to looking at the sunset. He forced himself to smile as he refused himself sight of the night again.

Within seconds, he saw a speck in front of the sun, which was gradually getting larger and more detailed. Before long, Miror B. saw it was a white speedboat skidding across the waves towards him. Knowing exactly what it was, the ride he had been waiting for, he quickly unlatched his Ludicolos’ Poke Balls and withdrew them. “I won’t be too long, my posse!” After reassuring them before the Poke Balls sucked them back in, he attached them to his belt and made sure that his long vest hid them from view.

As the boat slowed down and docked along the edge of the beach, Miror B. could see the two people on it. He couldn’t see their faces clearly, but that was part of the reason he was shocked to see them. The helmets covering everything but their mouths, the full-body armor, and the ribbon-like scarf dangling in the wind, there was no doubt that they were Cipher peons.

Things became difficult for Miror B. to put together. He was fairly certain that Cipher had been disbanded for good a year ago. And it was all by that same arrogant brat that kept causing him so much trouble. Miror B. certainly would’ve thought that after such a pounding that kid gave to Cipher, as he heard, they would’ve stayed down instead of crawling back for more.

Of course, Miror B. also heard recently of a bit of a hoopla about one of the Admins still running free. The name didn’t strike him personally, so he really didn’t care. But if this was this Admins’ doing, Miror B. admired his persistence, though was critical of his stupidity.

Miror B. wasn’t too admiring of his fashion sense either. Though the black and blue colors did reflect the dark theme that Cipher always had, they were still too tacky and unappealing. Miror B. always thought that if a criminal organization is going to try to forcefully appoint itself as the world’s tyrannical authority, they could at least do it in style.

The peon that wasn’t at the wheel of the boat stood up, pointed at Miror B., and said, “Get on” in the most unfriendly manner. The snappy tone was enough to put Miror B. off and made him have second thoughts. After a short debate with himself, he grew to ignore it and did as the peon said.

As if already impatient with him, the peon ordered him to sit down the moment Miror B. stepped foot on the boat. He looked at the small, barely cushioned seats in front of him unenthusiastically, like poison spikes were jutting out of it. “Err... Sit down?”

“Yes. Sit down.” the peon, obviously not the patient type, ordered in an even firmer tone.

Miror B. was still reluctant and stared at the seat as the peon’s breath was getting more irate. Sitting down and being still, that was close to blasphemy in Miror B.s’ eyes. It was practically habit for him to be dancing at all times. And he couldn’t very well do that when sitting down.

“For the love of Mew... Will you just plant yourself?!” the peon suddenly became very persuasive in his argument. It was certainly enough to make Miror B. suddenly drop into the seat, almost missing it, and to earn a stare from the peon at the wheel.

Immediately did Miror B. start to feel the awkward effects of not dancing. His restless legs itched for rhythmic movements, and not getting to do so was addiction withdrawal for them. The urge to shoot up in his seat and break into dance was so strong that if the boat didn’t suddenly start up and dash across the waves, he probably would’ve succumbed to it.

The constant vibrations of the boat skidding across the ocean was a sufficient substitute as far as movement went. It was either that, or a calm trip to wherever he was heading, which Miror B. could imagine that would be quite boring.

Miror B. quickly grew curious of his destination, but was a little reluctant to ask. For one, he loved the anticipation and the thrill that came from it. When something was expected and predictable, it wasn’t nearly as fun like the feeling of being on the edge of his seat.

Secondly, Miror B. found with astonishing rapidity that the short-toned peon was his complete antithesis. Miror B. loved to see happiness and good spirits in people’s faces. Even more, he loved to be the cause of it. Emotions were quite contagious, and he drew satisfaction from knowing that his art, the art of movement, could instigate such positive energy.

The peon seemed just as adamant in doing the opposite. So far, Miror B. hadn’t seen a single iota of positive emotion in him. On the contrary, he seemed to be a stickler for negativity, happiness’ Grim Reaper. It was like at the very glance of positive emotions, the peon was compelled to slash it to shreds. And all it took to do that was a short, impatient comment. Bad moods were contagious too, and Miror B. didn’t want to be exposed to such a virus.

His sense of curiosity was powerful as well, and caused him to cave in. "So where are we going, anyway?" Miror B. immediately afterwards told himself firmly not to ask too many questions. That way, too much wouldn't be revealed and there would be less room to be influenced by the peons’ energy.

Bluntness reared its ugly head again, as the peon made it evident that talking wasn't his favorite activity, "Citadark Isle."

Miror B. practically jumped out of his seat, but the speed of the boat that resembled skipping a rock across a lake forced him back down. "Citadark Isle?! Isn't that the island that all the sailors in Gateon told people to avoid like the plague?"

"Yes, but the sea around it isn't dangerous anymore. All the computers and machines are broken, except for the elevators."

"Whoa... wait. You're saying that a machine made all those awful storms?!" Miror B. leaned forward, with a hint of disbelief in his eyes that began to sparkle like his glittery sunglasses. When the peon nodded his head, Miror B. couldn't help but shout out in amazement, "Awesome! That's so cool! And it's genius too! Looks like Cipher wasn't as stupid as I thought! Though... of course, that little brat managed to find his way there and kick the crap out of your former boss..."

The peon looked less than amused. On the contrary, Miror B. got the impression that he might've said too much, as he could feel the peons' stone-cold, insulted glare. "You're misinformed. That amateur pales in comparison to the former Grand Master. He won out of pure luck, not skill."

"Oh really?!" Miror B. was at first a bit skeptical of the peons' claim. But after Miror B. recognized the tone as bitterness rather than denial, another laugh burst out of his mouth, "Now that is some juicy info right there! To think that rotten child had told everyone that the entire battle was a fantastic landslide! Turns out he was just boosting his ego all along!"

Miror B. had quite a few encounters with Michael, whom he liked to refer to as "brat", or any other insult that came to his mind. Every single time Miror B. managed to steal one of those nifty Shadow Pokemon, that arrogant boy would always snag it away from him. No matter how hard he worked to get it, Michael would make all of his efforts worthless. Plus, he ended up being half the reason that Team Miror didn't get the great start he wanted it to.

Thinking about all the times Michael caused Miror B.s’ face to turn red gave him the urge to plot. Miror B. knew how much Michael was a pride-swelled teenager. But he began to imagine what would happen if the interesting tidbit he just received spread around. The hilarious thought of Michael being caught in his own lie and his confidence dwindling caused Miror B. to smirk, earning him an odd look from the peon. Ooh... Blackmail! Quite the dirty tactic, but effective nevertheless!

It took a while before Citadark Isle came into view, even at the speed the boat was going. It appeared as a jagged rock sitting on the horizon. The sharp-edged island was aglow with a fiery, yellowish aura around the volcanoes' crater and the orange rivers draining it. But it wasn't the deadly coastline nor the flames bursting out of the lava that caught Miror B.s’ eyes. Rather, it was the shining, silver globe sitting above the crater, reflecting the blazing light erupting below it. "Holy crap! That looks like... like..."

An irritated, annoyed sigh burst out of the peon's mouth, as if he was hinting at hidden desires to inflict bodily harm upon Miror B., "A disco ball?"

"Yes!" Miror B.s’ optimistically predictable nature caused the peon to hit it on the spot. "Damn! Not only have you guys gotten smarter after the first Shadow Incident, but you've gotten more fashionable too! I mean, look at that! That's pure artistic brillance right there!"

Miror B. looked back at the peon and still could not find an inkling of a smile on him. He lowered his arms that were outstretched towards the dome and gave a brief, frustrated groan. Did the peon have no sense of humor? Was he an actual human being or a machine spitting automated responses at him? Miror B. knew his vibrancy made him annoying at times, and he used that to his full advantage. Usually, even when people just wanted to shove knives down his throat for the sole purpose of shutting him up, Miror B. could almost always see the tiniest indication of a smile on their faces. He had been told several times that he was "so annoying, he's hilarious", even if that didn't make a whole lot of sense.

But apparently, he was just annoying to the peon. Miror B. never liked to think of anyone as "hopelessly pessimistic", since he thought there was always some way to get a smile out of someone. Though whatever technique was needed for the peon was well hidden.

Miror B. really didn't want to waste all of his optimism trying to figure out what it was, however. As the boat pulled up to the shore, Miror B.s’ eagerness took a hold of him once more, dominating his thoughts. He soon forgot about the dark clouds from above that were circling the peon like Murkrow over a dying Tauros. Why did he need to concern himself with such glumness when his excited heart pumped anticipation through him? The anticipation that filled him didn't give him nervous ideas of fear, but rather thrilled thoughts full of mystery that related to opening a pack of trading cards. If Cipher was anything like they used to be, then they could be quite an unpredictable bunch. And the lack of knowledge about what would happen was just what Miror B. loved.

"By the way," the peon suddenly interrupted the thrill that thinking about future events gave Miror B., "Everything that's about to happen is to remain confidential."

"And if I don't...?"

"I'll hunt you down and kill you."

Miror B. was taken aback by the peons' straightforwardness. He stared at him with wide eyes and slowly nodded his head understandingly. "Alriiight..."

He had every right to be nervous. After all, Miror B.s’ ability to keep secrets was practically non-existent. Despite that, he wasn't at all worried. What could a bunch of puny peons do to him? Miror B. had more Pokemon than could fit on his belt, and each of them, with the exception of Kiki, had the ability to bring a slow, agonizing defeat. They'd just be submitting themselves to drawn-out pain by going out of their way at a murder attempt.

The peon stopped off the boat on to the sandless shore, cueing Miror B. to follow. Miror B. expected the other one to get off as well, but instead he sat firmly in place.

Miror B. was relieved to be able to stand up. The moment he stepped foot off the boat, his legs filled with previously pent-up energy. He twirled around on the tips of his dance shoes and stopped abruptly. "Haha! It feels good to move again! I thought that boat trip would never end!"

Joy and jubilance spreading through him, Miror B. started his rhythmic footwork back up. As he advanced towards the elevator yards away, he hardly walked in a straight line. His movements were made up by a fast-paced dance routine. The rocky, volcanic earth was by no means a preferable smooth surface. But to Miror B., all solid ground was a dance platform.

He may have been forced to save his boundless energy during the boat trip, but ironically, he moved slower as he moved forward. Eventually, as he crossed the bridge over the lava river, he wasn't even dancing anymore. Instead, he dragged himself along, panting and sweating as his energy drained. "Phew... Damn, it's hot...," Miror B. lifted his head to the peon, who didn't seem too fazed by the heat. "Hey... You do have air conditioning here... right?"

It wasn't until the peon looked over his shoulder in an almost pitying manner did Miror B. catch his mistake. Suddenly remembering that the peon told him that the majority of the machines were broken, Miror B. felt compelled to smack himself on the forehead. But before he had the chance, the peon spat, "Suck it up."

Not only did the peon's bluntness amaze Miror B., but his rudeness caused his jaw to drop. He didn't care if he wasn't a Cipher Admin anymore; Miror B. hated to be talked to in such a manner. If the peon wasn't escorting him to someone that caught his interest, he would've been a puddle on the ground within three seconds...

...Or if the heat didn't drain his energy.

Miror B. always liked to think of himself as "on fire" during performances. But after feeling like he was literally, he decided that he wouldn't used that metaphor again. Living in Orre for over six years, Miror B. would've thought he'd be used to the heat. But the giant, searing desert compared to a glacier after crossing just that little lava brook.

Things didn't feel any better as they approached the epic hellhole that the crater on the summit was. It barely took half a second of being above the blazing lake before the energy to stand was being drained away. Miror B. slowly trudged along the bridge to the shiny silver dome, sweat pouring down his face. There wasn't much he could hear over the hissing and bubbling of the active volcano, and the dizzying heat and thick steam made it hard to see anything clearing.

But by dragging himself forward, Miror B. eventually found himself suddenly cooler. It wasn't as cool as he had mentally begged for while scaling the island, but it did relieve him. As his energy gradually began to return, he observed his surroundings with his revived senses.

He appeared to be in a huge control room. Directly across from where Miror B. stood seemed to be the main control panel, being large, crescent-shaped, and facing the giant plasma screen on the wall. There was a series of other computers situated in front of the control panel. But most of them were smashed and shattered, lying on the floor in an irreparable mess. Even from the distance away from the computers Miror B. was, he could still see the remains of the monitors filled with broken glass and snapped wires.

The stagnant layer of water covering most of the room made it feel even more like an abandoned ruin. Occasionally, Miror B. would hear the light sound of a drop of water plop into the puddles. Considering the inferno outside, it was a little hard for Miror B. to believe that any water could exist near the island other than the ocean itself.

The peon continued to lead Miror B. around the corner. As they approached what Miror B. assumed was the final elevator, the vitality began to reappear in Miror B.s’ steps. He found, by tapping his feet in the puddle of water, that he could create a much more audible form of music instead of trying the same thing on bare ground.

Eventually, he had to cease making a substitute for the loud, vibrant music he usually pumped into his ears. Still having the thought of the primary reason he was there, Miror B. rushed over to the elevator as the peon stepped in.

His heart raced as the realization that he was nearing his destination sank in. Of course, that just made time go slower. The forces of nature were weird in that sense. Whenever there was the anticipation that something bad was going to occur, Miror B. felt like a Linoone with no choice but to speed down a curved road. It may be running fast, but it still made an unfathomable amount of blunders along the way.

But then again, it was almost always the opposite for Miror B.. Therefore, the analogy of the Torkoal racing against the Buneary better suited him. Miror B. may have been a bit impatient at times, but if he knew that something good would come by clearing the racetrack at a steady pace, then he had no problem putting up with the anticipation.

Finally, the elevator, carrying odd, past feelings of nervousness with it, slid its doors open. A much colder air than what he felt previously swept at him. Miror B. knew from the rounded ceiling that he was at the top floor of the dome.

When Miror B. saw the exterior of the dome, he was amazed at its shining brilliance. Oddly enough, he became amazed at something else. It was as if the room with the dented, creaky floor and loose ceiling tiles created some kind of darkness. The air that filled his nostrils was not only strong and stagnant, but it also carried a disgusting odor. When he saw the bloodstained floor, he finally recognized the scent as carnage.

Miror B. realized that the sense of evil that came from the battle arena must've been born from a violent struggle. The now brown and dry blood of several different Pokemon was enough to make him think that alone. But he also noticed the several gashes in the floor, more gray and still puddles of water, and even the occasional tiny clusters of dark green spores.

Picking up the sense of foreboding, Miror B. quickly tried to neutralize it with the excitement he had just a few minutes prior.

In the entire battlefield that must've been the size of about a sixth of the whole island, there was but a single person waiting for him. He didn't seem like anybody of great importance at first. The man that appeared to be in his early-thirties had a light-brown mullet to match the black leather jacket and the denim pants he wore. But when put together with the pathetic, straight-faced facade to hide his painfully obvious stress, Miror B. saw his style as incredibly corny.

The first thing Miror B. expected the man to do was introduce himself in a "trying to look cool" method. Instead, he looked right past Miror B. to the peon behind him. His masquerade of cold, authoritative toughness disappeared as he asked the peon in a short, almost nervous manner, "What's your number?"

"Twenty-two, sir."

Miror B. heard the man swear quickly to himself before continuing in a slightly harsher tone, "Where the hell is seventeen? Because you are certainly not the peon I sent."

Despite his efforts to be intimidating, Twenty-two didn't seem very scared of him. "He was drunk."

The man swore again, looking like he was struggling to contain himself. "I'll deal with you later."

Twenty-two still stayed in a neutral emotion towards the man, as far as what Miror B. could tell. Apparently, the man wasn't too adept at striking fear into his subordinates.

At last, the man turned his attention to Miror B., who was finally starting to get impatient. The man looked Miror B. in the eyes, just barely, and smiled. But it wasn't a genuinely warm smile, it was more business-like than anything. "Sorry about that. Anyways, my name's Terran, and at the moment, I'm an Admin of the new Cipher."

"'At the moment'?" Miror B. blurted out an irresistible laugh. Miror B. first impressions of Terran weren't too impressive, considering his rudeness at the beginning. But now with his latest blunder, which he seemed to realize judging from his brief cringe, it was hard not to see Terran as a wreck.

Terran moaned and sighed before replying, his half-scowling face suggesting he, like his peon, didn't have much of a sense of humor, "Yes, 'At the moment'. You see, we're in a bit of a bind. That's why I've arranged to meet you here."

Miror B. raised an eyebrow, both curious and a little skeptical. He voiced his question at the matter without much hesitation, "And what on this lovely earth does Cipher have so much trouble with that they need my help?"

"Well, it goes like this," Terran began to explain with shakiness showing up in his voice, "I'm not too sure if you knew this during the time you were an Admin, but in order to create Shadow Pokemon, we inject them with the liquid form of a crystal found in certain mountain ranges. The problem doesn't involve that, though. On the contrary, another admin oversees the mining of this crystal, and he's just having a monumental success."

The last few sentences that Terran spoke before appearing to quickly gather his thoughts was even more proof that he wasn't any good at hiding his emotions. Miror B. sensed bitterness in him, perhaps stemming from the theory that Terran knew he was an inferior admin.

"But even though we have all this Shadow Energy, as we like to call it, we just don't have enough Pokemon to use it on-"

Miror B. suddenly spoke out, the anticipation finally becoming unbearable. Besides, he wasn't particularly interested in the mechanics of Shadow Pokemon and the fine details of Terrans’ issues. "And this applies to me how?"

"I was getting there," Terran spat sharply, becoming annoyed, "Though we don't dare to operate around Orre anymore, we still keep track of what goes on there. And I've heard quite a bit about your skill as a thief."

"So here's the deal. If you help us increase those numbers by gathering Pokemon for us to Shadowify, I have no doubt that the Grand Master will return you your adminship."

Miror B.s’ heart leapt at the words of Terrans’ proposition. My adminship?! Part of him was disbelieving, but another was completely hooked on the thought. To think that he could have everything he lost back; his power, his influence, his gaudy dance floor... how could he not be thrilled? He sorely missed it all after living as a near-penniless thief for the past few years. And now that it was all within his reach again just a few feet away, he yearned for it even more. He knew since the moment he received the note that the anticipation would bear fruit, but he didn't expect it in such a way.

"And of course, you'll have your choice of any Shadow Pokemon you help us produce." Terran continued his offer, evidently confident that he had just sealed the deal.

But on the contrary, it did just the opposite. "Shadow Pokemon? As in the singular form?"

Terran gave a short sigh, "Alright, two Shadow Pokemon."

Miror B. didn't show any signs of being impressed at Terrans’ negotiation.

"Then three!"

The silence still didn't break.

Terran stepped back a few paces, negatively amazed at Miror B.s’ suddenly unimpressionable attitude. He finally burst out, releasing the annoyance he kept pent up, "The hell... How many Shadow Pokemon do you want?!"

"Quite a few, actually." Miror B. answered, grinning even though he was awfully disappointed.

When Terran made the mention of the Shadow Pokemon, Miror B. suddenly remembered his ambitions that he had forgotten in the moment. The day Miror B. got word that Cipher had been disbanded six years ago, he made a vow to himself that he would start his own syndicate. "Team Miror" as he dubbed it, aimed to own every kind of Pokemon in the world, without Cipher's help. For the advancement of Team Miror, Miror B. was willing to let go of the part of his promise shunning Cipher.

But now that Terran had elaborated on the terms of the deal, Miror B. was having second thoughts about accepting it. Thinking about it during that silence, Miror B. began to wonder whether all that work for a measly few Pokemon would truly be worth it. After all, very little things made Miror B.s’ face red turn redder than deadweight that said they would forward his goals, but in truth, didn't.

Miror B. felt like doing some elaborating of his own, and voiced the purpose of Team Miror to Terran. Upon hearing it, Terran backed up even further until he was close to the center of the battle arena. "Are you out of your mind?! I know people that have worked their entire lives towards the same goal and never even came close!"

"Well I know that, silly! That's why I'm in the midst of forming Team Miror, see?" Miror B. laughed, completely ignoring Terrans’ crude remarks.

"You're still nuts." Terran shook his head, looking at Miror B. like he was the epitome of idiocy.

“Insane or not, I’ll have you know that I’m quite driven towards my future,” Miror B. leaned forward, cheerfully defiant of the lack of support Terran was giving him, “I understand that you Cipher babies have a shortage of Shadow Pokemon at the moment. But frankly, that’s the exact reason your ambition can’t coexist with mine!”

Terran crunched up his reddened face, clearly insulted by Miror B.s’ words. “It’s also the exact reason why I can’t let you leave this island.”

Miror B. spun around to see Twenty-two block the entrance to the elevator before he had a chance to escape. But he didn’t let that worry him and turned back to face Terran without an iota of anxiety. “Awfully determined to keep yourself from becoming an even more colossal screw-up, aren’t we?”

“I hate to say it, but you’ve nailed it. I can’t afford anymore failure, and neither can Cipher,” Terran snarled as his facade was deteriorating into an even finer dust by the second, “I did not invite you here to refuse my offer! I don’t give a flying crap about your idiotic goals, but I’m not about to let you have any choice but to assist me with mine!”

Miror B. knew Terran was just about at the peak of seriousness, but he still couldn’t help but not take him seriously. “Well isn’t this interesting!” Miror B. said under the concealment of a snicker. He lifted his head up to find Terrans’ face about to explode, yet still smiled at it. “I know you won’t, but I do like my freedom very much, thank you.”

Without a seconds’ warning, Miror B. put that fast-motion skills he had disciplined his lanky body into handling to a more violent use. He suddenly dropped himself to the floor, landing on his right hand. Before Twenty-Two had a fraction of a second to react, Miror B. spun himself using his hand as an axis and switching between his left at just the right moment. His legs were outstretched and hooked Twenty-two into the spinning trap. Terran didn’t have much time to respond either, as Miror B. released Twenty-two with just as much force as he caught him in the trap in the first place. Twenty-two was flung at Terran hard enough to send both of them a considerable distance away and to force a red cough to spurt out of Terrans’ mouth.

Once Miror B. slowed the spinning down a notch, he jumped back onto his feet. The dizziness factor didn’t amount to much; his body was used to routines of that sort.

Miror B. didn’t give it a thought to look back at Terran and Twenty-two. For all he was concerned, the free space in front of the elevator was the only thing that truly mattered. He sprinted inside and hurriedly pressed the down button. Miror B. wasn’t at all threatened by Terran or Twenty-two. But he didn’t feel like wasting his time with peons that were bound to show up if he went slowly.

Miror B. didn’t waste a moment after the elevator arrived in the control room to escape from the dome. Within seconds, Miror B. found himself dashing across the crater before it had the chance to drain his energy again.

His pace still ended up slowing down, however. But it wasn’t so much from the molten heat as the troubling thoughts that struck him. Initially, Miror B. had no issues with resorting to violence if the situation called for it. But no matter what the scenario or the methods used, he’d always be struck down with pangs of guilt and began hating himself for it soon after. He because immensely puzzled. If such actions brought self-loathing and the justification for it didn’t stay for long, why did he commit them in the first place?

No. No. I can’t think about that right now. I can’t think about it at all.

With the heat starting to take its effect, Miror B. couldn’t have arrived at the last elevator sooner. Once inside, Miror B. began to relax a little. As he was descending the long, glass tube, Miror B. figured that he had gotten enough of a head start to not be concerned about any member of Cipher. He took a deep, relaxing breath as he refocused his thoughts on that lovely boat he arrived on the island on.

The peon in the boat saw Miror B. dashing towards him the second the elevator dropped him off. This one seemed to be the only Cipher member in years to give Miror B. the honor of being perceived as a threat. The peon looked panicked, backing up to the point where one more inch backward would send him plunging into the water.

But before Miror B. could let the peon’s fears do the work of taking the boat for him, he felt something sharp slice his cheek. Miror B. put his hand on the cut as his eyes caught the green blur whiz by him into the ocean.


9th January 2008, 1:12 PM
Though Miror B. couldn’t see the object anymore, he quickly figured out what it was. It felt like the entire island was about to erupt as sudden tremors began to throw off Miror B.s’ footing. Each quake felt closer and closer until Miror B. turned to face the source. It leaped off one of the several cliffs about and landed a few yards away from Miror B.. The surrounding earth cracked and shattered at the impact, and Miror B. finally lost his balance at the shock wave beneath his feet.

However, he quickly regained his firm stance and got the chance to behold the monstrous Pokemon before him. It was a stout, reptilian beast that seemed to be the host for a tropical plant. Even when on all fours, it could glare at Miror B. with bright red eyes without having to look up or down. Its mouth was just as wide as his head, from which a deafening bellow erupted. The Pokemon rustled the plant on its back violently and pugnaciously. The plant itself was a large flowering variety, composed of square, pink petals sprouting from a round trunk with giant, rectangular leaves surrounding it.

It wasn't long after the Venusaur made its appearance did the elevator open its doors for someone else. Terran came staggering out with his right arm wrapped around his chest. "I told you... that... I won't let you... leave this island..." His voice was shaking just as much as his body, sounding labored. Despite the weakness that his voice held, his tone was strong enough in anger to make up for it.

"You're still conscious? Wow. I have to say, I'm honestly surprised. Still, no doubt I broke a rib or two." Miror B. said with his hand on his hip.

He then looked back at the Venusaur, his blue eyes ablaze with wonder and admiration. "But I love your choice of Pokemon! I mean, Grass-types are an instant recipe for grooviness! Though..." Miror B. scanned the area around Terran, disappointedly confused. "...don't tell me this is the only Pokemon you brought with you?"

Terran chuckled humorlessly, "One Pokemon... is all I need to stop you."

"Awfully overconfident aren't we?" Miror B.s’ awe over Terrans’ Venusaur quickly faded. He returned the laugh, reached for all six Poke Balls, and placed them between his fingers. "Personally, I don't feel like waiting for a bunch of peons that are too weak to be any fun to arrive. But I suppose I can play with you for a little while."

Miror B. hit the button on the Poke Balls with the side of his fingers, enlarging them. Since he had written the names of each Pokemon, except Kiki, on the capsules, all he needed to do was glance at them to know which five to toss in front of the Venusaur and which one to hold back for a second.

Even when his five Ludicolo burst out of their Poke Balls, they continued spinning in the same manner the capsules did in mid-air. They rotated in the air as if doing a cannonball during a synchronized swimming act. Only when the rocky earth was threatening them with natural daggers, the Ludicolo seemed to sense its approach and straightened their legs. They didn't stay on the ground for long before they were back in the air again. All five of them bounced off the ground and made a frontward flip in unison, landing firmly in front of the Venusaur with their right hands stretched out towards it. "Luu di!"

Miror B. didn't bother tossing the sixth Poke Ball along with the Ludicolo, but rather let the energy form by his side. The moment Kiki grew conscious again, she spotted the Venusaur and was like an internal fire was ignited. Her claws began clicking in rapid succession. She thrust them forward and drew them back several times, all while emitting a rough hiss in order to make herself look even more threatening.

Miror B. slid himself in front of Kiki before she had the chance to jump in the fray. "Oh no, little one. You may have that boundless energy, but you're no where near ready to fight!"

She still was quite set on fighting, as she scuttled back and forth, stretching her legs upwards in a vain attempt to elevate herself closer to Miror B.s’ height. Kikis’ protesting pincer snapping and pumped movements certainly had the energy and the ambition, but it was evident to Miror B. that it lacked the power he needed at the moment.

"You just stand by and watch how it's done, okay?"

Seeing the Krabby control her violent impulses, although reluctantly, Miror B. turned back to the issue at hand. Terran was still trembling at the throbbing pain in his chest, but he seemed to be just as fired up as Kiki. Although in a different way. "You coward! You're too afraid that you'll lose that you can't battle me one-on-one?!" His words suggested that they were meant for yelling, but instead came out in the form of a furious growl whose volume was weakened through his grit teeth.

Miror B. barely heard his pathetic show of anger. But once he was able to make it out, his already abysmal approval of Terran plummeted further. "So wait... You're an admin of Cipher, and yet you're ranting about cheating?" Once Miror B. was able to control his laughter, he shot forward a mischievous grin. "Sorry, but I don't play fair."

Miror B. could tell the Ludicolo could barely contain themselves; he could feel their overflowing vigor even from a distance. Soon, Miror B. found he couldn't keep back his excitement either. He twirled around jubilantly, halting suddenly with his finger pointed at the Venusaur. "I feel a tiny bit guilty doing this to such a gorgeous Pokemon. But Lulu? Didi? Give that lovely thing a taste of your Bullet Seed!"

The two female Ludicolo hopped forward and reached for the thick brown husk attached to their lotus hat, so precise of each other it was as if their minds were connected. After sticking their hands inside it, both of them pulled out a cluster of minute, pointed seeds. Popping them in their mouths like candy, Lulu and Didi heaved a huge breath from their nostrils. Giving each other some distance quickly as they still inhaled air, they positioned themselves facing the Venusaur in a flank formation. Instead of exhaling the way the oxygen came, Lulu and Didi used it to spit out the seeds like machine guns.

Most of the seeds bounced off the Venusaurs’ warty skin. Yet, some of them were able to sink in, though not too deeply. It took a little over a minute for Lulus’ and Didis’ supply of seeds to be depleted.

Once the barrage had ended, a deep roar matching the volume of a volcanic eruption exploded out of the Venusaur. The growls mixed in with it indicated fury and annoyance, as opposed to agonizing shrieks.

The Venusaur stomped its two forelegs wildly, shaking off any of the seeds that poked in its skin. Once the stomps had been calmed, the pinnately lobed leaves stretched and bent itself like extra limbs. They pulled themselves back and like a ballista, launched a flurry of sickle-shaped leaflets.

Lulu and Didi took the brunt of most of them, though some of the other three were hit as well. Despite the Ludicolos’ constant movements, they were unable to dodge the majority of the leaves. Miror B. saw their beautiful coats sliced off in places, making it horribly uneven as a whole. Not only that, but the cuts inflicted began to show up, creating a disgusting combination of scarlet and two shades of golden brown.

One would think that Miror B. would've been overcome with rage seeing the "ideal Pokemon" dishonored in such a way. Though that emotion was rare, it certainly wasn't impossible. But knowing his Ludicolos’ abilities and having complete trust in them, all he did was smile.

Miror B. felt like he was looking at his reflection, seeing Terran unimpressed with him. "Five-on-one or not, you'll never beat me using weak attacks like that!" He glanced at his Venusaur, who wasn't at all threatened either. "Raff, show him what I mean. Frenzy Plant!"

Miror B. looked into the Venusaurs’ eyes and saw his pupils shrink until they became difficult to see. He reared up, making himself look even more massive and monstrous. Sounding like a vicious beast ambushing its prey from the bushes, two giant vines burst out from under Raff’s leaves. Just as the leaves were similar to extra limbs, the pale green vines armored with thick thorns appeared to be additional heads. They loomed over Raff's head like two great serpents, arched over with their broad tips focused on the Ludicolo.

The towering monster slowly tipped forward at first, but picked up speed as he descended to the ground. Both Miror B. and the Ludicolo felt double tremors; first when Raff's feet slammed into the earth, and then an even greater one when the two vines crashed and bore into the solid layer of rock. They tunneled through the ground almost endlessly, giving Miror B. and the quintet a true perspective of how long they really were. The thorns turned the vines into drills, slicing and breaking down rock as they advanced into the earth.

All of Raff's opponents surveyed the ground in confusion after they regained their balance from the tremors. They weren't stupid. They knew the vines were under their feet and that they would erupt below them at any moment. They just didn't know where it would happen. Miror B. was clueless about it as well. Even Kiki searched for where the vines might strike from behind Miror B..

For a moment, everything was silent. The bubbling from the crater could clearly be heard from the foot of the volcano. The wind howled behind Miror B. and the Ludicolo, whispering ominously. The tune was grim and hollow. It was the kind of music they abhorred, yet anticipated.

In ways good and bad, the silence didn't last.

The loose pebbles clattered close to Luco milliseconds before the silence shattered. Miror B. saw a flash of dreadful realization in his wide eyes, something he though was nonexistent in Ludicolo. His species was the definition of "the bright side", and knowing that escape was impossible and pain was inevitable was unlike them.

The rock beneath Luco exploded as one vine burst through. The rounded tip of the vine missed, but the thorns hooked into Lucos' flesh, dragging him up with the plant. The young Ludicolo struggled to break free, which only made the spikes to deeper. Even if he could escape, the drop would be a long one. And it was only getting longer.

A second explosion suddenly boomed in Miror B.s’ ears. The other vine sped at Luco at a forty-five degree angle like the earth wasn't an obstacle at all. This time, the head of the vine connected, bashing into Lucos’ stomach. The impact ripped Luco from the thorns, inducing an unworldly shriek of anguish. It was abruptly silenced when the vice forced him into the solid rock wall. The scream was suddenly replaced with a gurgling cough that created a sick feeling in Miror B.s’ stomach.

Miror B. took his eyes off Luco, though only briefly. They wandered over to Terran, seeing not a similar emotion to what Miror B. felt, but an indifferent one.

His stomach only got sicker.

It didn't even take an order for the other Ludicolo to spring to the foot of the cliff as Luco tumbled down. Just in the nick of time, Luco landed in the adults' hands before he could hit the ground.

They gently lowered their arms, setting Luco down. Lulu held his head in one hand with her other on his heart. Miror B. couldn't hear her speak to her son, as her whispers were too soft. The other three were just as concerned, as they stood around Luco in a circle with part of their senses focused on Raff.

And for good reason too. While the false impression was given that the Ludicolo were only paying attention to their comrade, Raff took the opportunity to strike. A single vine shot towards Didi, Coco, and Lolo while they were partially preoccupied.

Didi and Lolo sensed the oncoming attack immediately. Both of their cheeks appeared to inflate like balloons, swelling with water that they had stored in their bodies. When their mouths were filled to its capacity, they were forced to expel it in the form of a torrent that appeared to be the aqueous twin of Raffs' vines.

But in a contest of power, the Frenzy Plant easily won over the Hydro Pumps. The vine effortlessly crashed through both of the Ludicolos' attacks, reducing them to nothing but a sparkling, scattered cloud of dewdrops.

The vine missed Didi and Lolo, though it seemed to be on purpose. Coco, being slow to react to danger, was only starting to prepare his attack when Raff struck him in the side. Like Luco before him, one of the vine' teeth caught onto his skin, dragging him across the sharp ground. When the vine stretched as far as it could, it twisted itself to pin Coco to the earth with the rocks poking at his stomach.

The situation appeared to create a dilemma for Lulu. She appeared to be torn between staying at Lucos' side, or trying to free her mate from the spiky prison. She swiveled her head frantically between Coco, her teammates, and Luco. Uncertainty spreading through her, she turned to Miror B., pleading for advice.

Miror B. thought about it quickly, knowing time was precious. He gave Lulu his orders by pointing his finger at Luco. Lolo and Didi were right there by Coco. If Lulu left to help them, who would be by Lucos' side?

Didi and Lolo read Miror B.s’ hand signals and didn't waste a second in trying to rescue Coco. They sped towards him with their retractable claws visible and held in the air.

As fast as a bullet and with the power of a giant fist, the second vine punched into Didi, forcing her to slam into Lolo. The swift jab acted like the spring in a pinball machine; it sent both Ludicolo flying past Miror B. and the boat. Like the way the boat made the trip to the island, Didi and Lolo skipped across the water like pebbles.

Coco watched it all happen helplessly. Unlike Luco, he knew that trying to escape on his own would only make things worse, so he instead remained motionless. But that still couldn't have made his situation feel any better.

Miror B. could also feel pangs of guilt during the entire scene. He knew he had a vicious kick that could easily injure another person with little effort. But that still in no way could amount to a Pokemon’s power. Therefore, aside from giving orders, there wasn't much he could do during a battle.

The vine that struck Didi and Lolo slithered back to Raff, disappearing under his leaves. The other one that was holding Coco in place began to snap back too. As it retreated, the thorns dashed against Cocos’ skin, shredding down and flesh, and spun his in place. After the vine was hidden from view, Coco remained still as if he were still immobilized. He took short, raspy breaths, restraining a painful moan in the process.

Miror B. surveyed the carnage around him. The scene was something that he expected the other side to be in. Two were barely hanging on by a thread, two more he couldn't even see, and only one was for the most part unscathed.

Miror B. knew better than anybody how resilient Ludicolo were.

But despite his faith in them, he couldn't help but harbor resentment towards him enemy.

Miror B. took his focus off of the grim bloodshed and decided to do something about it. "Lulu! Is Luco going to be okay?" Lulu nodded and squeaked in response with actual confirmation, not denial. Trusting her, Miror B. tilted his head at the rock wall. "Sit him up over there."

As Lulu did as he said, Miror B. saw Coco sit up on his own initiative. He doubted that Coco heard him speak to Lulu. Coco wasn’t a very attentive one, always in the midst of a daydream, even in battles.

Still, the slow-to-react Ludicolo cringed at every movement, despite his gingerly actions. Most of his energy gone, Coco sat up with his head lowered. Though the slight twitches inching his head upward suggested a will to continue.

Confidence in Lulu, Coco, and Luco, Miror B. turned to the part of the sea were Didi and Lolo blasted into. He called their names. His yell echoed in the breeze with no response. For a few seconds, Miror B.s’ heart was sucked further up his throat with each breath.

His briefly irregular breathing calmed down when two spouts of water spat up from the horizon. Miror B. knew in the back of his mind that Didi and Lolo were perfectly fine. Being sent into their own element, he knew no harm could come from that.

Miror B.s’ Ludicolo weren't the only ones who were exhausted. Raff himself was out of breath. His gargantuan mouth hung open, blasting deep, putrid breaths from the dark, internal cave. The stench was carried to Miror B. and his eyes were forced to expel tears when it met his nose. It seemed that even the Venusaur’s odor leaked poison, as Miror B. gagged when the sharp smell hung in the air around him.

Raff’s short legs began to give way to the lack of energy. They collapsed under the great pressure, causing the great monster to lie on his stomach.

Miror B. smirked cleverly. The extreme energy that Raff used to pull off Frenzy Plant exploited a weakness that Miror B. was more than happy to use to his advantage. Knowing that a Venusaur couldn’t lay on its stomach for long due to its girth, he realized he had a limited amount of time. But he still had more than enough to stall.

“You underestimated me, didn’t you?” Terran smiled, boosting his own ego. Ironically, he was also helping Miror B. along with his plan.

“Actually, yes,” Miror B. had no issue with admitting. His words began to flow from that point on, like there was no detours or roadblocks between his mind and mouth, “You didn’t think I knew that Bullet Seed was a weak attack? My posse is capable of far more than that. But what fun is using their most powerful move right off the bat? There’s no enjoyment in ending a battle a minute after it started!”

“Using such a weak attack is just part of the way I like to fight. The way it usually works is that while we’re using the least of our ability, my opponent will be using the most of their ability. But no matter how hard they try, they still can’t come close to having an inkling of a chance of beating me! To me, there are few more priceless sights than that!”

“Though... After seeing what your Venusaur did to my Ludicolo...” Miror B. looked at the bloodshed again. The sight of his pride and joy covered in crimson caused him to undergo an unusual change. His face contorted in a way that his nature tried to resist. But it was no use. His teeth pressed together in the manner that was opposite to the way he usually did. His eyebrows crunched up like the way the rest of his face did. The look he gave Terran was no longer one of mocking pity, but of pure seriousness.

“I’m done playing with you!”

Terran sensed the rage in his voice, beginning to back up. Miror B. thought that at least he wasn’t so much of a fool as to think was joking. Because Miror B. intended to show him what happens when he stopped clowning around.

But in order to do so, Miror B. knew his Ludicolo needed energy. And the perfect way to get that was right in their grasp. “Lulu! Rain Dance!”

A glimmer of the excitement that would come from showing off her skills shone in Lulu’s eyes. She lifted up one of her stumpy legs and brought it back down quickly. The same was done for the other one. The motion was repeated several times. The down shaking and the rapid stomping of her feet became an allusion to the pitter-patter of rain. Lulu’s energy pulsed upwards into the clouds. The more heart Lulu put into the routine, the thicker the airborne moisture became.

Terran sensed it. Miror B. sensed it. Raff felt it coming as well. The half-unconscious Ludicolo also anticipated it. The two trainers and the Venusaur lifted their heads and stared at the sky. Lulu’s mimicry of raindrops echoed in their ears as they waited for the real thing.

Lulu stopped. Her two arms shot straight out like lightening.

And then the thunder clapped.

The time between the boom and the downpour was almost nonexistent. Billions of droplets drenched the dry island. Plumes of steam paired with a hiss were created by the barrage on the lava.

The giant, globular mass of hair on Miror B.s’ head absorbed the rain like a sponge, causing it to become even heavier. But he didn’t really pay attention to that. The cool water carrying a fresh scent was refreshing as opposed to the bone-dry heat.

Miror B., however, wasn’t the only one feeling refreshed.

Terran brought his head back down from directly facing the rain. He wiped his face dry, though it became a futile effort within a few seconds. Water dripped down from stray strands of hair in his face, so he brushed them away from his eyes.

That’s when they widened from shock.

Miror B. could see it happen from behind, so he naturally assumed Terran had an even better view. They both saw the blood on Lucos’ and Cocos’ down wash away like watercolors. However, there was no more being expelled. Even more to Terrans’ surprise, the gashes in their skin was beginning to scab over right in front of him.

As the Ludicolo shakily lifted themselves both onto their feet and in consciousness, Miror B. grinned. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what happens to a Ludicolo in the rain! Well! I’ll have you know that they are fabulous healers!” His brags were timed perfectly; the rainwater collected in the Ludicolos’ hats, but was quickly soaked up to be used for strength. Before long, both of them were able to look Raff square in the eye like they did at the beginning of the battle.

Miror B.s’ plan came together quickly. Both he and Terran heard Didis’ and Lolos’ determined cries and glanced in their direction. The twin Ludicolo swiftly sped towards shore using the butterfly stroke. Their arms rotated through the water at a speed where they appeared as a green blur. Behind their rapid kicks were not only blasts of water being shot up by their legs, but a growing wave rolling behind them.

Once close enough to shore, Lolo and Didi leapt straight up out of the ocean. The Rain Dance-powered wave pulled itself up with them. The Ludicolo landed on top of the wave like it was a solid surface. They rode it towards shore at an accelerating speed and increasing height with a surfer's stance.

"Lulu! Get an Ice Beam ready!" Miror B. ordered swiftly as the wave drew closer.

Precipitation filled the air, both in the form of rain and haste. The generated tidal wave approached the battlefield rapidly. Realizing that everything had to be timed perfectly, Lulus’ cheeks quickly inflated like Didis’ and Lolos’ did earlier. Her breaths were visible and thin, caused by her falling body temperature.

Even Terran and Raff were quick in their actions. Per Terrans’ orders, Raff reared up on his hind legs again with the vines prepared for attack. The futile intent, as Miror B. saw it, was to counter the Surf technique with his Frenzy Plant.

Both the twin Ludicolo and the Venusaur braced themselves for impact. Like it was at Didi and Lolo's will, the wave dove down at Raff. The mass of water crashed down on him as if a liquid-filled bomb struck him. The mist that was caused by the blast obscured Miror B.s’ view of the action.

Lulu opened her mouth and shot the shining, whitish blue ray into the mist. Though he couldn't see what was going on, Miror B. could hear the light crackling of the water turning to ice. Eventually, he could see the waves freezing in place even as they were still moving. When the mist cleared, Miror B. gazed at the end result: a sparkling piece of scenery composed of slippery slopes and curves as well as jagged icicles that made the rocks look dull.

In the middle of the uneven sheet of ice, Raff was locked in place by frozen shackles. He struggled and squirmed to get free, but his legs were too deep into the ice. In addition large icicles jabbed at Raff's skin from all angles, immobilizing him further. Even his vines were covered in a layer of frost, frozen stiff.

Though Lulu's breaths were deep and just starting to become invisible again, she kept her body moving using several dance steps that she had learned. Though exhausting herself further when she was clearly tired might've appeared foolish, Miror B. knew otherwise. Being a non-Ice-type, Lulu's body wasn't made for such frigid attacks. Therefore, unless she wanted her heart to stop, she needed to make sure her body temperature wasn't low for long.

Didi and Lolo slid off the ice, spinning across it in the process. Though they couldn't heal themselves in the same manner as Luco and Coco could, they still were the most able-bodied Ludicolo at the moment. They bounced back and forth between feet, itching to jump back into the action.

Miror B. didn’t hesitate to give them what they wanted. “Coco and Luco need energy! I need you two to carry them over to the Venusaur! Lulu, you just stay put and rest for a moment, darling.”

Lulu nodded, not terribly disappointed to stand by for the moment as she jogged in place.

Didi and Lolo hopped over to Coco and Luco, urging them to get on their backs with encouraging squeaks. Their hands acting as leverage, Didi and Lolo hoisted father and son onto their shoulders with great care.

Before they dashed off, Miror B. quickly spoke to them with a smile, “Now you’re sure you’re up to it?”

Coco and Luco gingerly looked at their trainer, still reeling from the Frenzy Plant. But despite their condition, their optimism hadn’t disappeared a bit. They returned the grin with their thumbs held up. “Co lo!”

Miror B. felt their high spirits reach him. Their cheerfulness was just what he needed to get back into his regular attitude. The anger he previously had dissolved, indicated by the widening of his smile. “All right! Let’s do this!”

At a moments notice, Didi and Lolo sprang back onto the fluted ice rink. With Coco and Luco hanging on by their caps, they skated across the ice with both grace and speed. Flawlessly dodging the areas with icy stalagmites and sliding up the frozen waves, the trip to Raff didn’t take long. The twin split up as they approached the Venusaur, stopping at opposite sides. Lolo halted abruptly with an impish snicker, deliberately causing ice and slush to fly into Terrans’ face.

Unimpressed and irate, Terran flung the slush off him with his hand. He scowled at the Ludicolo, but the look turned confused as Luco and Coco protracted their claws. “What the...”

Though Miror B. saw that they had a good idea of what the next step in the plan was, he couldn’t help but to shout out the order, “Now! Giga Drain!”

Luco and Coco thrust their claws into Raff, much to his protest. But he didn’t squirm and roar inside his frozen prison for long. A fluorescent green aura appeared around Luco and Cocos’ hands. Rings of the same color pulsed into them from across Raff’s body. The energy could be seen traveling up Lucos’ and Cocos’ arms and spreading through their own bodies. With every pulse, they became more vigorous and robust. The wounds they had received earlier were healing at an even faster rate until they disappeared completely. Over time, they looked like they had just entered the battle.

The Giga Drain was having the opposite effect on Raff, however. The pulses entering the Ludicolo was his own energy leaving him. The tropical plant on his back began to wither; the fresh green leaves became a crisp, dry brown, and the petals of the bright pink flower began to droop. Raff’s blue-green skin was also deprived of nutrients, as it turned to a sickly pale yellow. The Venusaur became devoid of health, as his breaths were as ragged as Terrans' and he hung limply in his prison, not even making an attempt to escape.

Terran stood by in horror, watching his Pokemon being drained of all his liveliness. He grit his teeth in the same manner as Miror B. did and hissed, "Dammit! Stop... Stop it! You... can't face me head on?!"

Due to the spirits he saw in his Ludicolo, Miror B. found it in himself to laugh at Terran again, "Hypocrite! Weren't you the one to have your Venusaur immobilize my Ludicolo?"

Terran only got angrier at the comment. With violent intentions, he attempted to rush at Miror B.. But he didn't get far. Instead of moving forward, he stayed in one spot as he began to lose his balance. When he regained his posture after flailing his free arm, he looked down and saw way. The Surf and Ice Beam combination not only froze Raff in place, but it also bound his feet to the ground.

Once Coco and Luco were done with their vampirish attack, they leaped off Didis' and Lolo's backs, not needing the physical support anymore. Acting like they were never attacked by the Frenzy Plant, Coco and Luco glided back to Miror B. with their comrades.

The entire squad of Ludicolo stood before Miror B., anxious to fight again. Lucos' and Cocos' wounds were fully healed thanks to Raff, and Lulu's body was back to normal after the Ice Beam. Everyone in full health and spirits again gave them the drive to win the battle.

That contagious feeling took effect on Miror B. as well. As if he was a Ludicolo himself, the rain gave him the energy to aim for victory and think of nothing else. "I hope you guys are as pumped and ready as I am!"

The Ludicolo all responded with shout of gusto. Unable to hold themselves in, all five of them forced water to well up in their mouths in preparation for a combined Hydro Pump.

Sensing the oncoming attack, Terran urged Raff to take action as well, "Raff! Quick! Break yourself out of there!"

But all Terran received was an ailing moan. His eyes barely open, Raff just stared at the Ludicolo, aware of his impending doom. Miror B. could see in his fatigued eyes and his drawn-out, obstinate groans that he didn't want to give up so easily. But there really wasn't any other choice.

Their mouths pushing the limit to how much water they could hold, short stream began to spurt out of the Ludicolos' bills. Miror B. shot his finger at Raff and shouted his cheerful order before the water capacity was exceeded, "Hydro Pump!"

Before the aqueous explosion came, Miror B. heard a terrified curse come out of Terran.

Carrying the speed and force of a cannonball, the five torrents fused into one and shot at Raff. One giant burst of water held enough force to punch through the solid ice when the tropical monster couldn't. Within a blink of an eye, the frozen shackles shattered like glass. The rush of water broke Raff out of his prison, only for him to be trapped again. The Venusaur was pressed into the rock wall, causing parts of it to fracture at the impact. For an amount of time that felt longer than it really was, Raff was pinned between the stone and the pressured water, any of the screams he might've made being muffled out by the torrent. The Ludicolos' supply of water constantly being replenished by the rain, the combined Hydro Pump didn't let up for a long time.

When the Ludicolo finally eased up on their attack, it wasn't because they were exhausted. Rather, it was because they evidently grew bored. Raff was no longer any fun in his near-unconscious state, the quintet unanimously decided to end the battle.

The remains of the powered-down Hydro Pump splashing to the ground, Raff was once again visible. He crashed back to the ground, lying motionless on his stomach in a red, diluted puddle. Streams of the same color trickled down from all over his body.

“RAFF!” Terran, to Miror B.s' surprise, screamed in the most horrified and worried manner. He desperately struggled and squirmed to free his feet as if the Hydro Pump was turning on him. But instead of breaking his feet out of the ice, he unintentionally pulled himself out of his boots. Slamming on his chest, an agonizing holler erupted from him on impact. Even though his injury kept him immobilized, Terran still tried to reach to Raff in some form. “Raff... Say something!”

Raff grunted weakly in order to assuage Terrans' fears, but was still as immobile as his trainer was. Even the will to fight was gone; he never had so much as a whim to stand up as he slipped into unconsciousness.

While the opposite side was struggling to hang on and defeat the pain, Miror B. and his Ludicolo couldn’t be any different. All five Ludicolo danced with joy, the sensation of victory energizing them. They sang a brief, sunny tune together as their way of rewarding themselves. Even Miror B. couldn’t hold himself back in their celebration. He took it upon himself to join in on the congratulations. Laughing ecstatically, he rubbed the two nearest Ludicolos’ caps with his knuckles in a friendly way.


Miror B. stopped celebrating for a moment to turn to Terran. While the warmth among Miror B.s' team was growing, the animosity in Terran also grew. Anger radiated from the vindictive admin after having salt rubbed into his wounds in such a way. He struggled to his feet on his wobbly legs. Terran once again appeared to have that aggressive drive set on tearing Miror B. limb from limb. Foolishly and vehemently, he started to run at his opponent, defying physical limitations and vengeance flaring in his eyes.

But no sooner had he got up was he back to ground. Not learning the first time, Terran slipped on the ice and hit his chest against it again. The same howl burst from him, this time, paired with tears forcing their way out of his eyes.

“Tsk. You’ll just kill yourself by doing that. Miror B. chuckled at his patheticness, seeing no threat in him, “But I wouldn’t worry too much! I’m sure somebody will come by before you die of blood loss!”

Miror B. joyfully returned his Ludicolo to their Poke Balls, immensely proud of them. Though there were points in the battle where he had reached his boiling point, the end result was more than enough to make him happy again.

He reached for Kiki's Poke Ball as he snickered at her condition. The Krabby was tipped over on her back, claws and legs outstretched, and a mass of bubbles spitting out of her mouth. The poor thing! The excitement of the battle must’ve been too much for her! Miror B. sent her back into the comfort of her capsule, not even having to step foot into battle to faint.

Once all of his Pokemon were back into their Poke Balls, Miror B. held his hand up to Terran, waved, and smiled. “Later!”

Ignoring Terrans’ demands that he stop, Miror B. cheerfully jogged to the boat. Miror B. really didn’t feel like going back for him. And even if he did, Terran would just kill him afterwards anyway.

Unlike most of his enemies, the peon in the boat was incredibly compliant to Miror B.s' order, and he never even had to say anything. The peon begged Miror B. not to hurt him before hurling himself into the ocean.

The boat that he admired from the start all to himself now, Miror B. jumped in and started it up. The timing, Miror B. figured, was perfect. The rain was gradually stopping and before long, the island would become hot again. After seeing Terrans' stamina, he probably would have done a number to Miror B. if the ice wasn’t an obstacle, which would’ve been the case had he stayed there much longer.

Once the boat warmed up, Miror B. didn’t waste a second in speeding off away from the horribly bleak island. The two things he couldn’t stand, depression and heat, were embodied into the hunk of rock to the extreme. For all Miror B. cared, he wouldn’t mind never having to go there again.

Miror B., as eager as he was to get back to Gateon Port, zipped across the ocean as fast as the boat could handle. A sense of exhilaration came from the dangerously fast speeds he was going. His foot didn't lift up a bit from the tight hold it had against the pedal for the longest time. If it wasn't for his sunglasses, he was sure that the wind slashing at his face and the mist flying up from the surface would've made it hard to keep his eyes open. The roaring sound of the engine filled his ears...

...as well as something else.

Through most of the return trip, Miror B. kept hearing a strange sound that he perceived as something rolling and hitting the walls of the boat. He initially ignored it and went on with his joyride. But eventually, the continuous sound became too annoying to bear any longer.

Miror B. finally gave in and slowed down the boat. He figured that he was far enough away from Citadark Isle to no longer be in danger of Cipher peons. When the boat came to a full stop, he searched the floor for whatever was making that excruciating noise. There wasn't much stored on the boat as far as he could see when he first got on, so he couldn't imagine what on earth it was. The waves rolling past raised and lowered the boat in a constant rhythm. The motions caused the noise to continue, and in the silence, helped Miror B. find its location.

Eventually, he saw the object roll towards him, hitting his feet. The source of the noise turned out to be nothing more than a stray Poke Ball. “Ah. It must’ve slipped off my belt.” Not seeing it as a big deal anymore, he picked up the Poke Ball and tried to reattach it to his belt.

The confusion started when Miror B. found that there was no free room on his belt.

Raising an eyebrow, Miror B., thinking that he had to be imagining things, counted the Poke Balls on his waist. There was no mistake about it, though. He possessed six Poke Balls attached to him, and then there was that one in his hand. The only thing Miror B. could think of about its origin was that the peon driving the boat dropped it in his haste.

A cheerful smile quickly formed and gave way to an equally delighted laugh. The day just had to have been made for him. First he got Kiki, then he got to show off his skills as a trainer, which was always fun. And now a Poke Ball just appeared before him like fate left it there on purpose. Miror B. was tempted to open up the Poke Ball to see its contents, but decided against it. He had no idea whether it was a Pokemon that he could easily picture himself with, or one that could sink the boat in an instant. But the mystery of it just made the situation even more fun.

Slipping the newly found Poke Ball into a pocket in his vest, Miror B. had no qualms about waiting until later to see the Pokemons’ identity. After all, if the saying about seeing a red sunset had any truth to it, then waiting wasn’t too bad of an idea to him.

The hell... A Cipher Admin that cares about his Pokemon!? When will the blasphamy end?!

Master Blastoise: Thank you! Heh, though I got to say I never expected my fic to be a source of inspiration for anything. ^_^

And you're on the list~

The Great Butler
10th January 2008, 5:38 AM
That. Was. AWESOME.

Anything with Miror B. being kickass is awesome, but all the description and the AMAZING battle just make it better.

12th January 2008, 8:01 PM
TGB: Miror B. was kickass to begin with. D:

But I'm really glad that you enjoyed the battle. I was honestly afraid I didn't do it right, it being the first real battle of the fic. (Unless you count me skimming the Michael vs. Greevil/Michael vs. Eldes fights. And Ardos vs. Zook could barely be considered a battle.) So hopefully, I won't be so nervous to do the more epic fights in the future, especially the Admin battles.

Master Blastoise
18th January 2008, 7:46 PM
Blueysicle, this was such a great chapter. A few highlights.

"Yes, but the sea around it isn't dangerous anymore. All the computers and machines are broken, except for the elevators."

"Whoa... wait. You're saying that a machine made all those awful storms?!" Miror B. leaned forward, with a hint of disbelief in his eyes that began to sparkle like his glittery sunglasses. When the peon nodded his head, Miror B. couldn't help but shout out in amazement, "Awesome! That's so cool! And it's genius too! Looks like Cipher wasn't as stupid as I thought! Though... of course, that little brat managed to find his way there and kick the crap out of your former boss..."

This part is a nice discription of how many people got to Citadark isle even after the second Shadow incident (I just can't believe it didn't became a well known fact a machine made those waves after Cipher was beaten).

the volcanoes' crater and the orange rivers draining it. But it wasn't the deadly coastline nor the flames bursting out of the lava that caught Miror B.s’ eyes. Rather, it was the shining, silver globe sitting above the crater, reflecting the blazing light erupting below it. "Holy crap! That looks like... like..."

An irritated, annoyed sigh burst out of the peon's mouth, as if he was hinting at hidden desires to inflict bodily harm upon Miror B., "A disco ball?"

"Yes!" Miror B.s’ optimistically predictable nature caused the peon to hit it on the spot. "Damn! Not only have you guys gotten smarter after the first Shadow Incident, but you've gotten more fashionable too! I mean, look at that! That's pure artistic brillance right there!"

LOL A disco ball(it should be painted red at one side),really This part was IMO one of the best of the whole fic so far.

"By the way," the peon suddenly interrupted the thrill that thinking about future events gave Miror B., "Everything that's about to happen is to remain confidential."

"And if I don't...?"

"I'll hunt you down and kill you."

Nice conversation to be in.(sacasm)

"What's your number?"

"Twenty-two, sir."

Miror B. heard the man swear quickly to himself before continuing in a slightly harsher tone, "Where the hell is seventeen? Because you are certainly not the peon I sent."

In my fic I had the exact same idea for numbers(security reasons). I mean does there is anyone that could remember something like 100 names?

"And of course, you'll have your choice of any Shadow Pokemon you help us produce." Terran continued his offer, evidently confident that he had just sealed the deal.

But on the contrary, it did just the opposite. "Shadow Pokemon? As in the singular form?"

Terran gave a short sigh, "Alright, two Shadow Pokemon."

Miror B. didn't show any signs of being impressed at Terrans’ negotiation.

"Then three!"

The silence still didn't break.

Terran stepped back a few paces, negatively amazed at Miror B.s’ suddenly unimpressionable attitude. He finally burst out, releasing the annoyance he kept pent up, "The hell... How many Shadow Pokemon do you want?!"

"Quite a few, actually." Miror B. answered, grinning even though he was awfully disappointed.

More than three Shadow Pokemon only Eldes and Greevil had that amount. They must make an awful lot of them.

Without a seconds’ warning, Miror B. put that fast-motion skills he had disciplined his lanky body into handling to a more violent use. He suddenly dropped himself to the floor, landing on his right hand. Before Twenty-Two had a fraction of a second to react, Miror B. spun himself using his hand as an axis and switching between his left at just the right moment. His legs were outstretched and hooked Twenty-two into the spinning trap. Terran didn’t have much time to respond either, as Miror B. released Twenty-two with just as much force as he caught him in the trap in the first place. Twenty-two was flung at Terran hard enough to send both of them a considerable distance away and to force a red cough to spurt out of Terrans’ mouth.

Once Miror B. slowed the spinning down a notch, he jumped back onto his feet. The dizziness factor didn’t amount to much; his body was used to routines of that sort.

So that's why folly and Trudly are afraid of Miror B. He just uses this move on Trudly and sends them both flying of the lighthouse.

The battle was the best part but at a few times I lost track of what name was which Ludicolo.

I wonder what pokemon is in that seventh Poke ball.

Conclusion: It was really worth the waiting and i'm really going to wait again.

20th January 2008, 1:42 AM
Master Blastoise:

In my fic I had the exact same idea for numbers(security reasons). I mean does there is anyone that could remember something like 100 names?

True. It would be kinda hard for me to come up with names for every god damn Cipher peon that appears only once or twice- I mean for Terran to remember them all. XP

Though, the truth is Terran actually doesn't have a lot of peons. When Cipher disbanded a year prior to the storyline, Ardos managed to only get a relative few to come with him. So not only is there a shortage of Shadow Pokemon, but a shortage of recruits as well.

But geez, calling somebody by a number? Lot of people or not, that does seem kinda insulting. I mean can you imagine how those peons must feel? Sorta of dehumanized and considered a tool rather than a person, don't ya think?

Nope. I'm not shamelessy hinting at anything. Not at all.

More than three Shadow Pokemon only Eldes and Greevil had that amount. They must make an awful lot of them.

They may have in XD, but Michael snagged them all. Terran mentioned that they only have about fifteen at the moment in Chapter Four, remember? Hence why he's so stressed out.

So that's why folly and Trudly aren't very bright, Miror B. just uses this move on trudly and sends them flying of the lighthouse.

XD Ah, but I wouldn't dismiss Trudly and Folly as stupid so quickly. Believe it or not, both of them are actually pretty smart in their own right.

I know, hard to believe considering that Trudly would get confused at fourth grade math problems and Folly has as much common sense as a rock. :p But I suppose it also depends on what you consider intelligence to be.

The battle was the best part but at a few times I lost track of what name was which Ludicolo.

The sad thing is, so did I. XD While writing the chapter, I actually had to go back a few times to remember which Ludicolo was doing what.

Appreciate your comments. Thanks~

19th July 2008, 3:31 PM
I'm sorry for delaying this for so long. Schoolwork pretty much ate up most of my free time. Still, this should've been up LONG before now.

So without further ado, Chapter Eight!

Chapter Eight: The Faceless Phantom

Time only seemed to move fast when something good was happening. When the present was full of events that made him wish that he could just press a fast-forward button in order to get on with his life, time was practically at a standstill.

But when he was staring at the long hand of the clock on the wall, waiting for it to hit the six, things went even slower.

The teen swiveled his head back and forth between his middle-aged science teacher and the clock impatiently. He had received enough lectures from him throughout the year, and he didn't need anymore. So he made sure to look him in the face periodically just to give him the impression that he was paying attention. Although he didn't feel he was missing anything important from his teacher's speech, as it was just another rant on how hard everyone will have it the next year in high school.

He waited nervously for the next few seconds to pass. One more jerk from the long hand and he could run out of the middle school for the last time and embrace freedom. Come on... Come on...

The hand finally clicked into place and the shrill bell promptly rang through the school. The entire class simultaneously stood up and began to swarm towards the door as the teacher wrapped up his lecture, "Have a good vacation, class! Good luck next year!"

The teen, being in the far corner of the back row of desks, was the last one to run for the door. He had to wait a little longer for the mass of kids to get out of his way, but before long, there was enough space to burst out of the room at top speed.


He froze in place in the doorway. Michael cringed at the sharpness of his teacher's tone. He turned his head around and moaned, "Yeah?"

The teacher sat back down at his desk. "We were going to discuss your final exam, remember?"

Michael raised his eyebrow, confused and anxious to just leave. "Wha...? You never told me-"

"Did you read the comments I wrote?"

"Comments?" Michael muttered to himself. He sat his backpack down on the floor and quickly rummaged through the mass of papers crammed into it. He didn't really look the test over when he got it. The moment he saw the giant sixty-five in thick red ink on the front page, he shoved it into his backpack so he wouldn't have to look at it again.

It took a while before he spotted the test in the compressed pile. He pulled it out, almost ripping it in the process. Michael flipped through the pages until he saw written in the same-colored ink, "See me after class."

Michael looked up at the teacher, sighing in a defeated manner. He dragged a nearby chair to the teacher's desk and dropped himself angrily in the seat.

"You didn't study, did you?" the teacher guessed while adjusting his glasses.

"No." Michael exasperatedly groaned.

"Why not? I've told you before that the reason you're almost failing my class is because you're not putting enough effort into it."

"Yeah, well... I had other work to do." Michael muttered without a thought. His answer was an automatic reaction, even though he knew full well it was the farthest thing from the truth.

The teacher seemed rather skeptical, seeing right through Michael. "What other work were you doing?"

Michael fidgeted a little in his seat before answering lowly, "Stuff."

The teacher sighed, "Michael..." He took off his glasses and rubbed the lens with a handkerchief before putting them back on and speaking again, "You dodged a bullet this year. You've passed in enough of my assignments to keep yourself from failing. But it won't be this easy to pass next year, especially if you keep up your current study habits..."

At that point, Michael's mind automatically shut out what his teacher was saying. Come on... Just let me out of this damn place already! There's nothing I can do to change my grade now! What's the point of this stupid speech!? I was told the same thing at the end of elementary school and nothing changed!

"Michael, are you listening to me?"

"Huh?" Michael was suddenly jolted back into the real world, "Uh yeah. I'm listening!"

The teacher was silent for a while, appearing to think about his next words as he leaned back in his seat. Michael hoped that the next thing to come out of his mouth would be "go home." But instead, the teacher sat back up and looked Michael square in the eyes. "Be honest with me. Are you bored with my class?"

"Yes!" Michael finally blurted out the truth. Words containing what he held inside of him about science class flowed out of his mouth, "I mean, when am I ever gonna use any of this crap? Never, that's when! C'mon! Just 'cause I live with scientists doesn't mean I like science!"

Soon after Michael ended his tirade, he cringed at what he just said. After that kind of rant, Michael was almost certain that his teacher was going to get him into some sort of trouble. Starting next year off with detention, calling his mother and getting grounded for the rest of summer vacation, Michael slid down in his seat just thinking about it.

However, the teacher seemed completely unfazed. Instead of yelling back, he shook the pen in his hand as he pointed it at Michael. "Back when I first started teaching almost twenty-four years ago, I had a student very much like you," He leaned back in his seat again and appeared to be trying his best to remember details. "He was an absolutely brilliant boy, but he was failing my class. At the end of his eighth-grade year, I asked why he didn't put any effort into his work even though I knew he could do it. He told me that he had no interest in school period."

"I also knew that he loved to have Pokemon battles. So do you know what I told him?" the teacher asked. Michael shook his head. "I told him that from that point on, he should try to connect and apply the knowledge he learned in school to battling. There's so much more to Pokemon battles than just two Pokemon delivering blows. Their biology, environment, psychology, things that will more and likely be covered in your high school career. If the primary problem was interest, then the solution was as simple as finding these kinds of relations in what he were interested in."

The teacher moved his chair forward and gave Michael that stern look that told him that he had better be listening to what he was about to say. "Four years later he came back here for a visit. The same student that failed my class because he had no interest in the material graduated high school at the top of his class."

Michael's eyes widened at first due to disbelief, and then narrowed for the same reason. He's got to be lying. No way in hell can anyone go from failing to coming out on top like that!

"He said he took my advice and had been getting A's ever since." The teacher ended his story and remained silent for a while, as if waiting for Michael to say something. When he didn't, the teacher started back up again, "Now, I know that you also love Pokemon battles. So the best advice I can give you is the same advice I gave that student of mine years ago. You're not stupid, Michael. I know you can succeed in school if you put in the effort and relate it to the things you love."

Michael still stayed quiet with his eyes on the floor. He did his best to hold himself back from making either a skeptical comment that would get him into even more trouble or something corny just to make the teacher happy.

"On that note, have a good summer vacation."

Michael swiftly raised his head and stood up. He was caught off guard again, expecting the teacher's speech to go on for much longer. "Uh... yeah! You too!"

Michael began to run for the door again. But before he could even reach top speed, the teacher added another comment to stop Michael abruptly, "Remember what I said, okay?"

"Alright, I will." Michael blurted out a corny response that he'd probably forget within a week. At that point, he was willing to say anything to get on with vacation.

Michael regained his speed and quickly rushed through the empty halls lined with lockers. The only sound that could be heard in the emptiness was the echo of his rapid steps hitting the tiled floor.

As he approached the stairs, Michael began to slow down. When he did, he happened to take a glance out the giant, round window overlooking the yard in front of the school. Outside a line of yellow, black-striped buses were flowing out of the oval-shaped stretch of road, including the one Michael was supposed to take.

"Crap!" Michael spat out loud. He hurriedly dashed down the stairs, even jumping to skip a few steps. His sneakers gave out a high-pitched squeal as he skid around the corner. Michael burst through the doors and sprinted across the lawn.

But by the time he reached the road, all of the buses had left school property.

He saw them in the distance leaving behind a cloud of exhaust gas and dust. The area was left a place vacant of people, with the exception of Michael standing alone, watching the minute line of yellow on the horizon, boiling from frustration.

"Dammit!" Michael shouted in the empty space as he kicked a pebble into the road. The other pebbles nearby followed suit as Michael imagined them as tiny figures of his teachers' head. "This is his damn fault!"

Michael flung off his backpack to the middle of the yard. He threw himself against a nearby statue and slid down it, taking a few moments to gather himself.

He looked up at the statue in an attempt to calm down. Michael assumed that the statue had some kind of symbolic meaning. But if it did, he thought it must have been irony; it was a wooden statue of a tree. But it wasn't the leafless tree that caught most of Michael's attention when he saw it for the first time two years ago. Rather, it was the disproportionately large figure of a man sitting between the two thickest branches. However, the figure was incredibly undetailed, despite being the most prominent part of the statue. Its head was merely a round orb. No eyes, no nose, no mouth, not even the thinnest strand of hair could be found. The figure had stumpy appendages for hands and feet, and it was completely bare of clothing.

The scene was silent in the sense that Michael couldn't hear any human interference. There were no cars going by or other students chatting like there usually were. Now all he could hear was the rustling of the leaves in the nearby forest. The yard had an unusual lonely air, as the only souls in it were Michael and a flockless Wingull that recently perched on the statue.

Michael peered at the bird above him while it stared back at him with its beady eyes. It was a small Pokemon with mostly white feathers covering its streamlined body. Some of its tail feathers had been colored blue as well as a band-like marking on each of its roughly rectangular wings. The Wingulls' black-tipped beak was thick and almost half as long as its body.

Michael shot a glare at the lone bird, distrustful of it after having unpleasant experiences with flocks of Wingull overhead. "You better not crap on me."

The Wingull gave a short cry in response. Though its consistent staring suggested indifference to Michael's threat, it eventually spread its wings and caught a current of wind. Its wings too weak to efficiently pull of the flying mechanism like other birds, the blasts of air dictated the Wingull's direction. The current brought it to the roof of the school. Michael saw it as a speck perched at such a distance, but he could still tell it was watching.

A little disturbed by the Wingull's watchful eyes, Michael stood up. He looked at the emptiness again and then at the nearby woods. Seeing few other options, he sighed, "Guess I'm walking."

* * *

The quiet, vacant air of the mostly conifer forest was broken by a coarse string of language. With very few sentient beings present in the woods, Michael felt free to express his frustration by grumbling every swear word he knew. Every pebble that he saw was flung across the dirt road by a swift kick.

This is so stupid... I hate walking! Michael thought as he kept himself busy by grinding the soil beneath his sneakers. I wouldn't have to deal with this crap if he'd just let me catch the bus instead of holding me up with some stupid lecture.

Michael looked ahead in the midst of his inner ranting. The stretch of dirt road appeared endless to somebody that was trudging along with no idea how close he was to home. He had traveled on the road before, but that had always been while speeding by on his hover-scooter. Therefore, Michael never really paid much attention to physical features near the road. There usually wasn't anything strikingly different anyways. The only thing that could honestly tell Michael how close he was to home was a fork where the north road lead to the Pokemon HQ Lab, and the southeast one lead to the eccentric Dr. Kaminko's manor. And Michael had no idea how far away that was.

Still irate, Michael kicked up clouds of dust into the air as he walked. Shortly after one cloud shot up, a deep sneeze erupted from the bushes. A swear sharply burst from Michael's mouth and he promptly jumped and landed on the rocky ground in shock. What the hell was that?!

Michael shot his line of sight into the bushes along the road. A green, reptilian body with a hint of insectoid features emerged from the foliage. His eyes met Michael's through the red orbs shielding them. His long, curious gaze at the boy froze him in place, afraid to make any movements.

What's a Flygon doing here?! I saw some Vibrava in the desert the other day... But I didn't think they'd evolve again and come here of all places! Michael's mind began to race furiously while he kept a close eye on the desert species of Pokemon. What am I going to do?! That thing could kill me in an instant! I don't have my Pokemon with me, and there's no way in hell I could outrun a Flygon!

The Flygon stretched his neck towards Michael. He sniffed Michael over thoroughly while he was too paralyzed to run away. The Flygon eventually lowered his head so he was at eye level with Michael. Michael promptly clamped his eyes shut. He shivered in place as he could feel the Flygon's breath against his face.

All of a sudden, Michael felt a long forked tongue lick his face. He coughed and groaned as the saliva dripped down from the tip of his nose. After wiping his face dry with his sleeve, Michael opened his eyes back up.

Contrary to Michael's first impression, the Flygon's face indicated a friendly and gentle disposition instead of hostility. Michael laughed weakly, still nervous about the large Pokemon, despite his docile demeanor. He shakily lifted his hand and lightly rubbed the Flygon's muzzle. "H... Heheh... S...See? We understand each other now! S...so... p...promise not to eat me, 'kay?"

The Flygon grunted in response. Michael began to let go of his nerves and gradually lifted himself off the ground.

After Michael had stood up with his hand still on the Flygon's muzzle, he happened to look to his left side. The sight of the Flygon's ragged and battered wings and the scars criss-crossed across his back stole Michael's breath. Michael quickly withdrew his hand from the Flygon and backed up, almost stumbling back to the ground. I know those scars!

Reluctantly, Michael move delicately to take a peek of the Flygon's right side. Michael backed up even further, holding his hand over his mouth to stifle any shout of shock that might burst out.

The atmosphere became silent, laced with morbid anticipation. Michael's face mirrored the dark, cold feeling; it was half-frightened, half-loathing. His stare was locked on the red-haired, pale-skinned man sitting back against his Flygon.


Michael froze in place. His heart was beating faster than he could count. The sight of that man petrified him to the core. Michael wanted to make a break for it and run as fast as he could, but was too afraid he'd be noticed and caught.

Michael knew him from a year ago, but now wished he could leave those memories in the past. Cold and indifferent, the Cipher Admin named Eldes was almost everything Michael hated about Cipher embodied in one person. Even when he first met him before he knew his line of work, Eldes came across in such a way to Michael. And that was when he was trying to look friendly. That act was hard to buy, Michael could recall, as the whole thing sounded forced and rushed. But that was the nature of such people that worked for Cipher, they were all deceitful liars.

His prolonged stare at Eldes made Michael realize something. Michael took a closer look at the man with a Ninjask perched on his shoulder. Eldes body seemed to be in a relaxed position with his head pointed downwards. As Michael crept a few inches closer, he could see that behind his black shades was a pair of closed eyes.

Michael sighed, a little more relieved. Phew. He's asleep. With the nervousness ebbing away, Michael's state of mind was more fitting to think about the current situation. But why the hell is he here?! I thought he was in jail!

The Flygon, Dasn, tilted his head while Michael began to back up. He's come after me... I know it! Michael positioned himself so that his knees were bent. His eyes were fixed on Eldes, who was still unaware of his presence. I can't just walk away and ignore him! My Pokemon aren't with me, but it's either take him down now or let him kill me when I least expect it!

Michael gulped and closed his eyes. Without a second though, Michael blindly rushed towards Eldes and rammed his head into the side of his chest.

A short yell burst out of Eldes on impact. Michael's attempt to tackle Eldes into the ground was foiled, as Dasn spun around at the sound and promptly snatched Michael by the collar of his vest. He held Michael in the air, placed him at eye level, and snorted at him. Michael immediately began to flail and scream to rip himself free from the Flygon's claws.

While under the restraint of the Flygon, the Ninjask that was previously on her trainer's shoulder fluttered angrily over to Michael. She hissed and screeched in Michael's face until his ears went numb. Even then, she was adamant about tormenting Michael every second while her partner held him in place.

Ria suddenly paused and hovered in mid-air. A groan coming from a few feet away was enough to take her attention off the boy that attacked her and her trainer. Michael shifted his attention as well, taking his focus off the trouble right in front of his face to the trouble lifting itself off the ground.

Eldes slowly stood up with a flat, static attitude. He didn't act angry, surprised, or frightened. All he did was brush off the dirt that stuck on his hair and robe after skidding across the ground. He did so calmly, yet dully and indifferently.

He began to turn around and look at his attacker. Michael's thoughts began to rub by him again like a movie playing three times the speed if it was on fast forward. He froze at the morbid images of Eldes seeing him then thoughtlessly ordering his Pokemon to tear him limb from limb. And then he would fall back asleep without a care in the world while Dasn gnawed at what was left of Michael's teenage body.

But once Michael entered Eldes' sight, he didn't know what to expect anymore.

The moment Eldes looked into the familiar face, Michael saw his usually half-closed eyes open fully. It all happened within a split second, but that was enough time for Michael to witness the most emotion he had ever seen in that man's face. Even so, there wasn't much of it that Michael could see. There was pure shock, that Michael could tell. But if there was anything else in the Eldes' eyes behind those black shades, it was subtle enough that Michael couldn't find it.

Eldes' face was quick to revert to its usual emotionless state, however. Both Michael and Eldes were frozen in place. Both stared at each other, and both remained in an awkward silence.

Michael used the silence to think of an escape plan, since his plan to fight back didn't go so well. His plan to was thought up quickly and simple: Run for it! But no matter how much he squirmed, kicked and punched at Dasn, the Pokemon's grip remained unfazed and tight. "Let... me... GO!"

Eldes finally turned his head after staying in the same position for well over a minute. "Dasn," Eldes said in his signature monotone voice. The Flygon glanced at him and seemed to understand Eldes perfectly even though only one word was uttered. Dasn gently lowered his arm and released him claws from Michael's collar.

When Michael's feet hit the ground, he tumbled backwards away from Dasn. He started to lift himself back up while beginning to run away. But in his blind rush, he bumped into Ria floating in front of him. She screeched even louder than before as if the light touch had the force of a wrecking ball. Ria buzzed shrilly while she was close enough to Michael's face that he could make out the fine details of her exoskeleton.

"Ria," Eldes called in the same manner as he did to Dasn.

Ria wasn't hesitant in obeying her trainer, but insisted on getting her point across to Michael. She scowled and spat a sharp shriek at him before fluttering back to Eldes in a tilted position. She was careful to keep the movements of her charred wing to a minimum, relying almost solely on her other wing. Once she perched on Eldes' should, she still leered at Michael and flapped her wings in an intimidating manner.

Though it was unlikely either Dasn or Ria would pose a threat under Eldes' orders, Michael's instinct to run faded. He felt more compelled to stay put more than anything. The thoughts that he had when he first saw Eldes a few minutes prior returned. To run away and act as if such a dangerous criminal wasn't there was suddenly idiotic and cowardly.

There was another moment of awkwardness. It seemed like Eldes hadn't the faintest clue as to what to say. Michael, on the other hand, impulsively blurted out the first thing that came to his mind in the silence: "What the hell do you want?!"

Eldes was still unresponsive. The angle of the light piercing through the canopy rendered Eldes' sunglasses as a solid black bar over his eyes, making it impossible for Michael to tell if he was even still looking at him or not. But he had the suspicion that he wasn't, considering that he had his head tilted slightly toward the ground.

Michael became a little impatient at Eldes ignoring him like he was nothing. He had no qualms about chastising Eldes on whatever he could think of, and planned to do so until he could extort an answer out of him.

"I've already thrashed you once! You come back for more, or something?! Are you too stupid to realize that you're not gonna beat me?!" Michael spat out at Eldes' silence like an automated machine. He backed up while continuing his tirade without ever processing a comment through his head first. "I know why you're here. You're still sore about losing to me! You're ****** because I ruined all your plans on Cipher! And you want to get back at me for it!"

Eldes shifted his position slightly. He didn't seem insulted by Michael's comments, or even remotely fazed. He simply looked at Michael with his cardboard eyes and tonelessly said, "I don't have any ill intent"

"Bull," Michael sharply replied, "An escaped convict doesn't just walk around the woods near somebody's home for the hell of it!"

"I didn't escape."

Michael's jaw promptly dropped. "What?!" He was deeply astonished and taken aback. Michael could barely believe that Eldes could make an obviously false and unbelievable statement with a perfectly straight face, and expect him to fall for it. In the absurdity of it all, Michael began to laugh, "Do you honestly think that I'm gonna believe that?! Seriously, come on! Who in their right mind would let a dangerous criminal waltz out of jail with no damn reason?!"

Eldes slightly turned his head and sighed dryly, "You would be surprised."

Michael stared at Eldes in an almost blank way. He began to think this was some absurd and strange dream he was having, much like the ones he had when he had eaten sugary products right before bedtime. He half expected himself to suddenly wake up, sit up in his bed, and try to more some kind of sense out of what just happened.

But when he realized what he heard was not part of a dream that made no sense, but a part of real life that made no sense, he began to stammer before bursting out with, "Are you kidding me?!" Michael scowled at Eldes, a bit insult at him for taking him as a fool. "How stupid do you think I am? You think I can't tell that you're just spouting out crap?!"

Eldes seemed persistent and flatly insisted that his obvious lies were the truth, "I'm not ly-"

"Look just shut up, okay?" Michael sharply interrupted Eldes. As much as it felt good to release this kind of steam, he became tired of Eldes seeing him as some kind of idiot and unusually sick fighting.

Michael began to turn away and leave, but before doing so, he glared at Eldes and warned him sternly, "You're damn lucky I don't have my Pokemon with me. But next time I will! So you better hope I never see your face again!"

Michael could've sworn he saw Eldes cringe at his comment.

But even though it would've brought some satisfaction to him to know that he scared Eldes out of attacking him, Michael didn't think much about it. His only concern at the moment was going home. He turned his back on the Admin and his two watchful Pokemon and started to focus back on getting to the HQ Lab.

"You don't forgive very easily, do you?"

The quiet, almost inaudible voice behind Michael broke his focus and caused him to turn around. He snorted and gruffly spat, "To someone like you? You bet I don't forgive easy."

Eldes turned his head away slightly, still tilted towards the earth. In turn, Michael turned his back towards the path and continued his fast pace. Before he got far away enough that anything that Eldes did was out of his hearing range, Michael rolled his eyes when he heard the man give a sigh.

Acting like he was hurt just to make Michael feel bad... It caused Michael to give a sigh of his own, albeit a cynical and annoyed one. That just proved to Michael that Eldes thought he was an idiot if he though he would be fooled by some phony display of emotions. Cipher Admins, or anyone involved with the organization, didn't have emotions. They didn't have empathy, morality, or humanity. All they had was bloodlust and greed.

Michael knew that from experience.

* * *

Michael dragged his feet along the ground. Somehow, the distance from Gateon Port to the Lab seemed much greater when he wasn't riding his scooter.

He trudged along the road, his legs heavy and his back aching from his backpack. The shady pine trees proved some relief from the beating sun. Yet the shade didn't make much difference when the humid air stuck to his skin.

Not only was the atmosphere uncomfortable, but Michael was beginning to get bored. While he kept his line of sight straight ahead until he saw the lab, he was fiddling with a twig he snapped off of a branch by the side of the road and dribbled a large pebble between his feet for the past half-mile.

When the white, rounded building with a single, large window covering the lobby and a floating image of a Poke Ball on the roof, Michael checked his wristwatch. 3:10. Michael groaned. Usually the trip home on the bus took an hour. Being forty minutes late didn't give him a good feeling. Mom's gonna have a fit.

Once Michael stepped foot in the driveway, he found that his prediction was dead-on.

His mother, Lily, was anxiously looking down the dirt path on the stone steps in front of the lab. Once she saw Michael's face, her expression suggested that she wanted to hug Michael and smack him at the same time. "Michael!"

Lily ran down the steps as fast as she could on her high heels. The moment she met Michael, she quickly embraced him before gripping his shoulders and scowling at him sternly, "Where have you been?! I was just about to go down to Gateon Port to find you myself!"

Michael dropped his head. He hated looking into Lily's face when she was angry with him like that. "I missed the bus, so I walked home."

Lily took one of her hands off of Michael's shoulder and placed her fingers on the middle of her forehead. "You should've called me first! I would've come down and picked you up!" Lily looked at Michael even more fiercely than before. "What if somebody had attacked you while you were alone like that? You wouldn't have been able to protect yourself!"

"I've traveled alone loads of times and I turned out just fine!" Michael protested, forming the bravery to look directly in his mother's face.

"Those times you had your Pokemon with you!"

"That doesn't make any difference!"

"It makes all the difference!" Lily's stare became even tighter and firmer on Michael. "When you're wandering around in the countryside, especially in a region like this, having a Pokemon with you could mean the difference between life or death!"

Michael lowered his head back down. For a little while, nothing was said. When Michael couldn't think of anything to say, Lily spoke up, "This is your first and only warning. Don't you ever leave school like that without letting me know ahead of time. And even so, make sure you always have your Pokemon with you. Got it?"

"Yeah..." Michael muttered.

"Good." Lily finally ended ranting about things that were already done and over with. Sighing quietly in relief, Michael followed his mother into the building.

They entered through the side door, which led them into the section where the majority of Lab's employees lived. On Michael's left was the entrance to a small lounge, which in turn led to Michael's and his sister's rooms. Michael at the moment didn't feel like going into his room just to drop his backpack off and come back to go to the larger lounge upstairs, he simply tossed it next to the wall.

Michael dashed after his mother in the cylindrical elevator down the hall. He stumbled in, barely making it before the glass doors slide shut. Once Lily pressed the up button, pressured air from below the disc-shaped platform pushed it up the tube. When the second floor was reached, the platform latched into place while the air pressure died down. With the platform held firmly by the mechanical parts on the side of the tube grasping it, both Michael and Lily left the elevator and entered the larger lounge.

The lounge, much larger than the one on the first floor, was empty when Michael and Lily went in. Usually the lounge was filled with Lab employees sitting at the round tables fussing over whatever was on the television at the time. Michael took a look at the screen. All that was on was an odd ONBS report about some man that spent "thirty years crankin' gears," and how there was some kind of conspiracy about it. So it was no surprise to Michael that no one was interested in being in the lounge while it was on.

Instead of sitting down, Michael went straight to the refrigerator. He pulled out a fizzy bottle of Chesto soda, unscrewed the cap and began to lift it towards his mouth.

"Use a glass!" Lily interrupted Michael, stopping him before the bottle could even come close to his lips. Michael clamped his eyes shut briefly and moaned.

As Michael rummaged irately through the cupboards for a glass, Lily spoke up casually, "So how was school?"


"Did you learn anything?"


Finding a glass that was the right size for him, Michael set it down on the counter and poured the blue liquid in it. He took it with him to the table Lily was sitting at and sat down opposite of her.

As Michael started to guzzle down the soda, Lily seemed set on initiating a conversation, “So how did you do on your science test?”

The soda that was halfway down his throat shot back up. Michael quickly slapped his hand over his mouth to keep himself from spewing soda all over the table. Carbonated bubbles fizzed in his nose. He swallowed the soda in his mouth and began coughing furiously.

Once Michael caught his breath, he stammered nervously, “H...How...How did you know I had a test?”

Lily groaned a little under her breath and said in a slightly annoyed tone, “Eklei told me.”

Lily’s annoyance quickly carried over to Michael. That damn snitch! Why can’t he just keep his trap shut? Michael hid his frustration with the overly talkative pest and rapidly improvised his speech, “Uh... yeah. I did good.”

“Mm? Let me see it.” Lily cynically asked.

Michael’s thoughts raced quicker. It wasn’t often that he had to spit out sentences at such a fast rate so much in one day. But if he had to do so to keep himself out of deep trouble, then that was that. “Well, you see... I lost it.”

“You lost it?!” Lily leaned her head forward in a disbelieving manner.

Michael knew he needed to explain himself. He didn’t give much thought into his story. His only care was that it offered some kind of explanation. “So I had my test in my hand, right? I just wanted to get home, so I really didn’t bother to put it in my backpack. But anyways, I went outside to wait for the bus. And you know how hard the wind was blowing, right? Well, while I was waiting the wind blew it clean out of my hand! So I ran after it, but the wind kept blowing it away from me. Eventually, the wind blew it far enough that I didn’t have a chance of getting it back. Then when I turned around, I saw that the buses had already left! So then I decided to walk home.”

They stared at each other for a long time after Michael ended his story. Lily held her hand on her forehead again and shook it. “Michael...”

Michael slurped up the remaining soda in his glass. Stupid Eklei... He just had to go and blab to Mom like that.

Michael promptly sat up in his seat. He quickly took his lips off the glass and frantically swiveled his head. “Uh, Mom? Where is Eklei, by the way?”

“Hmm?” Lily lifted her head up. “If I remember correctly, I think I saw him heading to your room.”

“Crap!” Michael swiftly rose from his seat and dashed out of the lounge without another word. He rushed into the elevator and jammed his finger against the down button, though, unfortunately, doing so didn’t make it go any faster.

Once the doors slid open, Michael hurriedly ran down the hall. He skidded across the floor as he made a sharp turn towards his room. When the first set of doors opened, he ran even faster. He desperately bounded across the small lounge towards his room’s door.

He quickly opened the door to find just what he expected, and dreaded, at his computer.


19th July 2008, 3:44 PM
In front of the desktop computer staring at the login screen, was a floating hunk of rock. This rock, however, was smoothly carved into the shape of the crescent moon. Looking like it was made out of fragments of the moon itself, the strange rock was dappled with miniature craters. Between the curved points of its crescent form was an odd protrusion that resembled a beak. Though its physical form was made entirely out of stone, it was not an inanimate figure. A pair of deep red eyes with stretched oval pupils positioned in opposite sides of its body proved that it was a sentient being. These eyes, unaware of Michael’s presence, were focused solely on the screen in front of it.

The Pokemon had no hands to speak of, but was still fully capable using the keyboard. Using a psychic energy, the same energy that it used to levitate, the creature was able to press the keys, forming a sequence of asterisks to appear in a text box.

The moment Michael realized what Eklei was doing, he lunged at him, though his weight made him impossible to move. Still, Michael tried to push him away from the computer despite his efforts being fruitless. Eventually, with most of his strength exhausted, Michael simply crouched to the ground and pulled the plug to the computer.

As Michael stood up, the screen on the computer narrowed until nothing but blackness was left. Eklei floated backwards as his eyes widened at the screen suddenly disappearing. He glanced over at Michael, who was panting heavily, and shouted, “Hey! I was using that!”

The voice Eklei spoke in was very ambiguous. If a total stranger had just heard Eklei’s voice while not knowing what he was, Michael could imagine that person would not be able to tell if he was a male or a female, despite that Eklei was, in fact, genderless.

Michael stumbled over to his bed and fell down on it. He stared at the ceiling as he tried to catch his breath. “Dammit... Eklei! How many times do I have to tell you not to use my computer?!”

Eklei lowered himself to the ground swiftly, slamming his bottom on the floor, which was his way of displaying anger. “And what, may I ask, is so terrible about that?”

Michael scowled right back at his Lunatone with the same exact emotion, “‘Cause I’ve seen the kind of things you do on my computer and I could get in a lot, lot of trouble for it!”

Eklei’s mood rapidly changed from anger to bewilderment. He started at Michael, genuinely confused at what Michael was talking about. “Why would that get you in trouble?”

Michael couldn’t find the words to say. To Michael, Eklei was an amazing Pokemon. Unfortunately for Michael, Eklei was an amazing Pokemon in all the wrong ways.

Michael dropped his head heavily on the sheets. He groaned and moaned exasperatedly while repeatedly banging his head against the mattress.

In the midst of his venting, Michael began to hear noises coming from his closet. Lifting his head up, Michael curiously looked at the door and listened more carefully, incase he was imagining things. Within less than a few seconds, the banging noise started back up again, along with the door looking like something was going to burst through it. Michael, without a thought rushed over to the door. He tried to turn the knob, but no matter which way he turned it, it wouldn’t budge. He turned the lock on the knob and then flung the closet door open, where his Vaporeon came flying.

She crashed into Michael, slamming both of them onto the messy floor. The Vaporeon shook her head and gathered herself from the collision, but then licked her trainers face once she realized whom she landed on. But her mood shifted once she saw Eklei hovering nearby. She immediately hopped off Michael’s stomach, bared her teeth, and spat and hissed at the Lunatone.

Michael sat up once he had gathered himself after Autumn suddenly jumped on him like that. He saw Autumn spitting at the innocent-eyed Eklei, and it didn’t take long for Michael to put two and two together. “You locked her in the closet?!”

“She was attacking me while I was trying to turn on the computer!” Eklei defended himself, his telepathic voice full of confidence that he was doing no wrong.

Michael wanted to slap his hand on his forehead, much like his mother had done minutes before. “I don’t blame her! She was probably trying to keep you from indulging in that sick crap of yours!” He hissed his words through a snarl, getting tired of yelling for the day.

Eklei tilted his body in a slanted position. “I’d hardly call it ‘sick crap’...”

Michael walked past his two Pokemon, sighing. He patted Autumn’s head, who seemed to understand his subtle message to calm down. She reluctantly loosened her fierce posture, took her eyes off Eklei, and curled up on her own bed on the other side of the room.

“Just drop it...” Michael groaned exasperatingly as he started to head out of the room.

In his brief argument with Eklei over the inappropriate usage of his computer, Michael had forgotten all about his science test in his backpack. Suddenly remembering the exam that knocked over its fair share of dominoes for the day, Michael ran outside for his backpack before Lily had the chance to rummage through it. When he grabbed it just outside the small lounge, he ended up starting another argument with Eklei had followed him outside, “Why couldn’t you keep quiet about my test?”

“It was supposed to be a secret?” Eklei asked, almost surprised. Sometimes, Michael wondered whether Eklei was really acting innocent or if he was just that naive.

“Yeah! I only told you, like, five times not to tell anyone I had that test!” Michael stealthily walked back into the small lounge, careful to no attract any attention. As the doors closed behind him, he searched through his backpack for the test. Once he found it, he turned to Eklei and his voice dropped to a whisper as he ran the test through the nearby paper shredder, “This time, it’s gonna stay a secret, right?”

“So now it’s a secret? Okay! Gotcha!” Eklei gave his word, though Michael wondered how long he’d remember it.

Luck shone on Michael for once that day, as the test was reduced to ribbons just before somebody walked in. Michael jumped up in surprise, and no sooner had he done that, Eklei gave person entering a jolt of his own, “GOOD AFTERNOON PROFESSOR!”

The director of the Lab, Professor Krane, flinched violently at the obnoxious Lunatone suddenly screaming in his face. The coffee cup he was holding nearly shook out of his hands, but instead splattered coffee all over his white lab coat.

The shaggy-haired professor looked down at his stained coat once he had the chance to calm down. His already narrow eyes clamped shut at the giant mass of creamy brown stuck to the fabric. Michael could tell he was irritated; there was no doubt about that. But that was it. In all the years Michael had known Krane, which was his entire life, he had never seen him mad. Annoyed maybe. But never truly angry.

Michael had heard the employees in their daily gossip period once say that the temperament of Michael’s father had rubbed off on Krane.

“Good... afternoon Eklei...” Krane did his best to be polite while being annoyed at the same time.

Eklei floated closer to Krane. If Krane had not backed up, Eklei would’ve came close enough that his beak would’ve poked at Krane’s chest. Eklei swiftly spun ninety-degrees so that a single eye was eyeballing the stain on Krane’s lab coat. “Wow... That’s a big stain! How clumsy!”

Krane kept his mouth shut, even though Michael bet he wanted to say something. Michael did too, but he was having a much tougher time keeping it back than Krane was.

“Professor, do you know why Lunatone have beaks?” Eklei popped a completely unrelated question on Krane.

“Erm... not... really...” Krane, a little taken aback by the randomness, didn’t seem too interested in striking up a conversation with Eklei. Instead, he turned to Michael. “Oh! Mi-”

“Me neither!” Krane barely began to speak before Eklei burst in. At this point, both Michael and Krane know that a rant was inevitable, and almost nothing would stop Eklei now. “Really! Why do we have them? Lunatone don’t eat or breathe and we don’t need primitive vocal cords to speak like humans do. Lunatone don’t get to do a whole lot you carbon-based life forms do. But that’s because we don’t need to do all those things! Take Zubats for instance. They don’t need to see, so they don’t have eyes! But why do Golbats have eyes then? The cave doesn’t get any lighter just because they evolved! It’s a mystery. You know what else is a mystery? Why are Lunatone shaped the way we are? Why are we shaped like the moon of all things? Then again, why are Staryu shaped like stars? Actually, they’re not really shaped like stars. Stars aren’t like pointy like Staryu are. They’re actually round, big, hot, and gassy. Speaking of gas, I heard Koffing are highly explosive...”

Michael and Krane stared. Dumbfounded. Michael had heard that there were apparently seven levels of hell. But he and Krane just found an eighth one hovering in mid-air, blathering. They slowly turned their heads to each other, eyes widened, jaws hanging, and their faces generally saying, “What is this horror?”

Michael mouthed the word “run” to Krane desperately. Krane nodded with absolutely no hesitation. With Eklei absorbed in his own tirade, Krane made a mad dash out of the room. Michael, fearing that he’d be mentally scarred if he stayed any longer, began to follow.

“...I don’t particularly like Mudkips. They just seem so dim-witted and stupid and...,” Eklei abruptly stopped, causing Michael to stop as well. Michael feared he had been caught, but Eklei seemed to be swiveling himself around, looking for Krane instead. “Is this a game of hide-and-seek? I love that game! What should I count to?”

“Five-thousand.” Michael said shortly with his eyebrows lowered on an unimpressed face.

“Great! I’ll get started!” Eklei naively took the bait and began counting while Michael made his getaway.

Michael had plenty of time before Eklei realized he was being fooled or actually got to five-thousand. Still, he ended up running out of the room and to the elevator. The sooner he could get the sound of Eklei’s voice out of his head, the better.

Krane was right where Michael thought he’d be: in the large lounge on the second floor. He had already put on a clean lab coat and made himself another cup of coffee that he was sipping at the table. Krane looked up at Michael and eagerly motioned for him to sit down.

The professor looked around anxiously as Michael pulled up a chair. “Eklei... isn’t following you, is he?”

“Nah. I took care of him.” Michael said a little deviously, “He’s gonna be busy for a while.”

Krane seemed just as relieved as Michael was. He sighed and his face became less tense. Though Krane didn’t necessarily hate Eklei, he just wasn’t the type that would want to associate with him. At least that was one thing about Krane Michael could relate to. Still, Krane found it hard to truly hate anyone. That emotion, however, was certainly present in Michael.

“You had me worried there, Michael! I was afraid something happened to you when you didn’t come home!” Krane finally got the chance to express his fears. While there was genuine concern in his voice, Michael caught a hint of a laugh.

Michael though, wasn’t in the mood for laughing things off. He gave a deep, heavy sigh, “Look, Mom gave me this speech already...”

“I know, I know. I was just letting you know I was worried.” Krane held his palm up in a slightly defensive manner, but still retaining his mild nature.

“Well, can we just drop the whole subject then? It’s really getting on my nerves.” Michael pleaded, as he just wanted to get on with his summer vacation.

“As a matter of fact, there is something of a completely different matter I’ve been meaning to discuss with you.” Krane finished the rest of the coffee in his cup as he brought up the subject.

Michael suspiciously brought his eyes to Krane’s face. Did Krane find out about his failing science exam? Perhaps he had discovered the subject of Eklei’s virtual escapades?

Worse, did he figure out that details of Michael’s victory over Cipher were far from the truth?

He wouldn’t know that... I didn’t tell anyone how close I came to losing! But... what if Eklei blabbed?! He’s the only one who knows that could possibly tell anyone about it! Crap! What am I gonna do? I can’t let anyone know about that! It’s so humiliating!

“Michael? Did you hear me?”

Michael jumped in his seat for the second time that day. He had been so caught up in his own paranoia that he tuned out everything else. “Wha...? Sorry. I sorta zoned out for a sec.”

"Well," Krane calmly repeated himself, "I was pointing out that you have almost eighty Pokemon that you snagged from Cipher. I understand that such a large amount of Pokemon is difficult to handle. So, I was asking if you, well, would like to give some of them away."

Michael became relaxed quickly. He didn't know what to say, but he did consider Krane's proposition. The six Pokemon Michael chose for his party was enough of an oddball cast to handle. Multiplied by almost thirteen, the task of taking care of all those Pokemon was the equivalent of having a Gorebyss suck out his internal organs while he was still alive. It was torture. Sure, the Lab's staff was always there to help, but they still didn’t do much justice. Feeding the Pokemon, cleaning the Pokemon, cleaning up after the Pokemon... Many a beautiful weekend was wasted in such a manner. The more Michael thought about it, the more eager he became about the offer. At that point, if it meant getting rid of all that stress, Michael would go as far as selling his soul to Giratina himself.

Krane took note of Michael's silence. He tried to give reasons to consider his proposal, even though he didn't need to, "I... understand that just giving Pokemon away sounds a little extraneous. But if it’s a matter of finding good homes that's making you worried, then we can handle that. There are several employees in this very building that don't have Pokemon that would surely love to have even just one. There are even more people in Orre that want Pokemon that cannot afford to import any nor travel to Poke Spots. And in that case, we would take great measures to make one-hundred-twenty percent certain that they will be in kind and able hands."

Krane sat up in his seat and moved a little closer to the table. "I will admit, when I was thinking of this a while back I was worried about the same thing. However, I realized that here, a Pokemon in a group of almost eighty isn't getting the individual attention that they need that they would get by a trainer with a team of six or less. That way, the Pokemon would not only be meeting its physical needs, but also the specialized love and care that someone that is truly dedicated would. And that, in turn, would do wonders to help these Pokemon move on from their abusive pasts."

Michael didn't listen to too much of what Krane said. To him, it was overkill. He had already been convinced to be in favor of the idea; there wasn't much reason to go on about it.

Before Michael spoke up, Krane felt that needed to add more on the subject, "Plus, I'm sure Jovi would be thrilled to have a few of your Pokemon too."

Suddenly, Michael wasn't so sure about the idea. The idea of trusting Jovi with one of his Pokemon, that was. He sunk down in his seat. He could see it clearly: Jovi playing with a Salamence -a living death-trap- and it turning around and snapping her in half like a toothpick. "Yeah... but Jovi... She already has two Pokemon! And besides... she's not old enough..."

"Well, legally, her Plusle and Minun are your mother's. And her tenth birthday isn’t that far away. By the time she looks through the Pokemon and decides on one, she'll be old enough to legally own it!" Krane countered, but with a good-hearted laugh, "Besides, you got Autumn before you turned ten. Although, the reasoning was a little different."

An unconsciously trained instinct in Michael kicked in. His pupils dilated, his fists clenched to the point where his palms stung from his nails jabbing into them. The mere mention of Autumn's origin triggered a show of hatred in his face and a whole sequence of memories.

Six years wore out memories, that were to be expected. But it was the way the pictures in his head were aged that was upsetting to Michael. Several parts were still fairly clear, as clear as six-year-old memories could be. That brisk fall day with the reddened leaves dancing in the air and the tiny Eevee chasing them... that wasn't hard to remember. But then there was Michael receiving the Eevee. When he looked back on it, it looked like was taking the Poke Ball from a ghostly specter.

The man he idolized so much... the one he wanted to be like, the one whom he wanted to inherit battling prowess from appeared as a foggy silhouette of a person. It couldn't have just been age that wore out his memory. That disturbing image of the faceless phantom handing Michael the Poke Ball was present just days after the afternoon where the eavesdropped news ruined everything.

Michael ran the pictures through his head with audio. "I know you're not quite ten yet. But your birthday is in a couple months and I wanted to give you this before I leave, just incase I don't get back in time." The words were there, but there was no voice.

No voice. No face. No name. No identity.

One memory led to another. Words led to more words. And with each, Michael's rage grew.

"But why? Why would somebody plant explosives in his boat?"

"Cipher must've heard about the Purification Chamber somehow... And as massive and fiery as the explosion was, there was no way he could've survived it."


The room became nearly silent with Michael subtle growling being the sound. Krane heard this and promptly lowered his head. "I... I'm so sorry... I didn't mean... to upset you..."

Michael turned away. He wasn't interested in hearing Krane's apology. After all those years, he should've known by then how bitter the subject was. "Whatever."

He stood up from the table and sulked to the door. Michael felt like being alone at that moment instead of listening to other people's sympathies. When he was faced with something like that, the best thing he felt he could do was lie on his bed in his room with the lights off and windows closed and just forget about everything. Talking about it he knew would just drag out the pain.

No sooner had Michael stood up did Lily burst into the room. She had the same shaken, frazzled look that she did when Michael saw in the driveway looking for him. "Where's Jovi?! Have either of you seen her?!"

Michael shook his head. "Nope." He didn't think much of it at first. He figured that his little sister was playing hide-and-seek with her usual partner.

But when Michael brought it up, Lily replied with a sense of immense worry, "I talked to Adon already... He said that they weren't playing at that moment!"

Krane was quick to sense Lily's anxiety. He went over to and put his hand on her shoulder. "Calm down, calm down. Let's think about this for a moment. Where did you see her last?"

Lily took deep breaths. She seemed to become a little less distressed, but was still clearly troubled.

To see his mother like this was distressing in its own way to Michael. She was usually levelheaded and composed in times of stress. It was only when the stress centered around the well-being of her family did she act like that.

"I... saw her go outside to play about thirty minutes ago. I went to check on her and I couldn't find her!" Lily explained as calmly to Krane as she could under the situation.

Michael suddenly froze up. Out of the blue, he remembered that Eldes was still most likely in the area, which by then, could be closer to home than he was before. That maniac! He could've gotten at Jovi!

"If... if you want... I could head over to Dr. Kaminko's to... you know... see if she's anywhere over there..." Michael, while the thought of Jovi being attacked by a convicted criminal hung in his head, stammered to make an excuse to look for him.

"You would?! Oh Michael... I would really appreciate it if you did that for me!" Lily sighed, he state becoming more comfortable as she put her trust in Michael.

Without another word, Michael darted out of the lounge and down the elevator to his room. Thinking about what Eldes could possibly do to a helpless little girl both frightened and enraged Michael. Damn it! You know you can't touch me, so you go after my sister instead?!

Anger flaring, Michael ran though the small lounge, not even making an attempt to dodge Eklei, still loudly counting. Michael brushed past Eklei, causing him to spin in place. He heard the Lunatone say something while he was startled in such a way, but Michael simply ignored him and rushed into his room.

The first thing Michael did was practically jam his hands into a messy pile of assorted things on the floor, desperately searching for the gear he needed to take on somebody as dangerous as Eldes. Autumn, interrupted from a nap, lifted her head wearily and watched Michael flip his room upside down.

"C'mon girl! Get up! Jovi could be in trouble!" Michael hastily ordered Autumn as the pile of things was spread across the room.

Autumn wasted no time getting up. As soon as she heard about Jovi's possible plight, a fierce vigor in her visibly began working its way through the Vaporeon. She aggressively pawed the floor and raised her mermaid-like tail straight in the air, which was her way of getting pumped for battle.

Michael nodded his head in approval, a little relieved that at least one of his Pokemon was ready to fight for him no matter what. "That's the spirit, girl! Now... where's my belt?!"

Michael scanned the spread out mess for the belt he kept his Pokemon team's Poke Balls on. When he saw the strip of leather with Poke Balls attached to team, Michael swiftly grabbed it and returned Autumn to her ball. As he latched Autumn's Poke Ball back onto his belt, he took Eklei's off and rushed out of his room.

Eklei was still in the same spot, waiting for Michael to come back out with a baffled look in his eyes. "Whoa whoa! What's the rush?!"

Michael didn't have the time to answer him and just simply put Eklei back in the blue ball with two small, red nubs on the top. He dashed out of the building and jumped off the fenced ledge the Lab sat on. Barely landing on his feet, Michael ran down the dirt path curving around the Lab, ending with a tiny wooden shed on the edge of the forest.

Michael swung open the shed door, revealing the white scooter modified into a hovering vehicle that he had received for his thirteenth birthday. It was too small for almost anyone else to ride, but it was perfect for him. The handlebars were just right for his arm length and the soft, rectangular brown seat was the right size for him to sit on. The front of the scooter was shielded with a piece of metal slightly curved at the bottom.

Michael immediately hopped on the scooter and turned it on, causing the rounded hover panel in the middle of the vehicle to lift it from the ground. Tilting slightly backwards, the hover panel pushed the scooter out of the shed as Michael pushed his foot against the pedal.

He was about to push his foot down even harder to pick up speed, but slowed down when he saw his mother, noticeably calmed down, waiting for him on the steps. “Michael! Do you have your Pokemon with you?”

Michael nodded and showed Lily the full belt at his waist. “Yeah, I remembered!”

“Good,” Lily nodded back. “Me and Professor Krane are going to look around the Lab incase Jovi is still around here. Go straight to Dr. Kaminko’s and come straight back if you find her.”

Michael, already set on doing what Lily told him, stepped on the pedal and began to speed along the road. But once again, he was stopped before he could do so. “And Michael?”

The panic and stress in him increasing, Michael turned around and looked at Lily with a hasty face started to drip with sweat. “Yeah?”

Lily smiled briefly. “Thank you again.”

Any other time, Michael would’ve melted at the praise and faithful look in Lily’s face. But knowing that a deranged man could have his sister at that very moment, Michael didn’t have time accept Lily’s trust in him like he usually would. He simply held up his hand, waved it minutely, and gave a weak smile before setting off.

As Michael drove down the road, it appeared as his vision was flashing as he sped through small areas of sunlight and then went back into the shadows almost rhythmically. For once, he paid attention to the scenery around him. He knew that if he saw the red-robed man on the side of the road, there wasn’t going to be much to stop him from ramming the front of the scooter into him.

You had better hope that I’m wrong! Michael screamed in his head, as the roar of the hover panel at work would drown out anything he said. He clenched his teeth as he kept a vicious eye out for Eldes. If you lay one hand on Jovi, there won’t be anything holding me back!

And this time, there won’t be any running!

I should've named this chapter "Irony", because it just reeks of it.

Speaking of irony, I really do have a Lunatone named Eklei on my FireRed game. The ironic part? That Eklei has a Modest nature. XD

The Great Butler
20th July 2008, 3:45 AM
This was well worth the wait, especially for the crazy Lunatone. That was just great.

Seems things are getting more intense. Could a revelation to Michael be coming soon?

22nd July 2008, 2:04 AM

This was well worth the wait, especially for the crazy Lunatone. That was just great.

Haha, I'm glad Eklei came out well. Though I was a little afraid some poor reader's brain would implode at his rant... XP

Seems things are getting more intense. Could a revelation to Michael be coming soon?

If by a "revelation" you mean Michael finding out Eldes' identity...

I'm afraid that won't come for a long, long time.

Which judging from my current pace, will be about thirty years from now.

The Great Butler
22nd July 2008, 5:33 AM

Haha, I'm glad Eklei came out well. Though I was a little afraid some poor reader's brain would implode at his rant... XP

Have you ever heard of the anime Shigofumi: Stories of Last Letter? There is a character in it---named Kanaka---who is JUST LIKE Eklei.

Master Blastoise
26th August 2008, 12:05 PM
I herd you liek Lunatonez.(just had to do it)

I'm late I know but I couldn't find the time.

now for the real review.
Great chapter. finally we see Eldes again. Eklei reminds me of myself. I like being the centre of attention while talking and sometimes I just can't stop talking even when there's no one listening. No way he must give away some pokémon he snagged!(definatly keep Salamence and/or Dragonite) But I like how you criticise the box system, I mean how could a pokémon be put inside a computer and just stay there without food or something to drink?
I'm not picky at mistakes in grammar and so I'm not going over your story and look for them(not that I think you made any)

That's all.
Master Blastoise.

Edit: You just got yourself sigged.

5th September 2008, 12:32 AM

Have you ever heard of the anime Shigofumi: Stories of Last Letter? There is a character in it---named Kanaka---who is JUST LIKE Eklei.

Nope, never heard of it. But now you have me intrigued.

Master Blastoise:

I'm late I know but I couldn't find the time.

Ah! I was wondering where you went off to. But it's no problem. I find it hard to get in some free time lately, myself.

Eklei reminds me of myself. I like being the centre of attention while talking and sometimes I just can't stop talking even when there's no one listening.

I find it amazing that anyone can relate to that psychotic hunk of moon stone...

Er-hem! Uh, yes... well... next comment?

No way he must give away some pokémon he snagged!(definatly keep Salamence and/or Dragonite)

Oh, I'm sure Michael won't give away those two very easily. Yes. Very, VERY sure. ;)

Besides, Krane was more or less referring to the less-experienced and tamer Pokemon that Michael snagged. Because if I was a beginning trainer with no experience, I certainly wouldn't want to start with a Snorlax that could kill me with the flick of its pinky finger.

But I like how you criticise the box system, I mean how could a pokémon be put inside a computer and just stay there without food or something to drink?

I also love it how a Pokemon could be beaten to a bloody pulp, but once it comes out of the PC, everything's all fine and dandy. Magic computers, I'm telling ya.

Thanks for the comment. :D

19th August 2009, 3:09 PM
Top of the morning good people of SPPF! How was everyones' TBTB-free year?

Okay okay, joking aside, yes I know. I know that I seriously need to smacked across the head several dozen times for putting this off for so long. Part of it was because of stress and part of it was because of little motivation. But these past few days I've been pumped more than ever to finish this chapter.

So here it is! After nearly a year, here's Chapter Nine!

Also, be warned that there is some strong language. That being said, it should be fairly obvious who appears in this chapter.

Chapter Nine: Pride

Something about that part of the woods always made Michael’s skin crawl.
Perhaps it was the sudden appearance of leafless trees whose bark was as black as charcoal. Maybe it was the strange phenomenon of dark clouds always hovering over the area, despite it being sunny and clear elsewhere.

Whatever it was, it never gave Michael a good feeling. He had been there several times before, but he could never shake that foreboding sense.

His scooter came to a stop near the entrance to the creepy manor sitting in the middle of that ominous place. Parking the scooter against the weathered, brown wall, Michael crept anxiously to the gothic-style gate. He peeked into the mostly stone courtyard with the fountain with a Groudon figure in the middle through the bars of the gate. There was no one to be seen, but he had learned all too well that the manor was never left unguarded.

Michael took a deep breath and ran his hand across the Poké Balls on his belt nervously. He didn’t take his hand off of them as he opened the creaky gate and braved into manor territory.

He hesitated a while, staring at the mansion that looked like it was pulled out of a horror movie. The walls were made from an off-white stone material. From the edge of the wooden, pointed roof downwards along the façade were black stains built up over the years. From a distance, it almost looked like some kind of substance was leaking from the roof. On opposite sides on the top of the roof were two rods with electrodes attached to them. The electrodes crackled as electricity danced along the metal orb.

Gripping his belt, Michael crept across the courtyard. His senses were heightened, ready to react to the faintest sound or the tiniest movement. He knew that the chances that he was alone were slim. He anticipated, or rather, expected the presence of someone else.

Michael stopped for a moment and gulped. I can’t stay here long. I just got to see if Jovi’s here. And if she’s not, I got to get the hell out and find that maniac before it’s too late. He began to quicken his pace. Damn it Jovi… I really hope I’m not wasting time being here!

Michael still stayed alert while he increased his speed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a familiar face sneaking up on him. Still in the bad mood he had when he left, this appearance was all it took to annoy him. Michael spun around fiercely and looked the person in the face before an ambush could be executed.

The man that stood before Michael was rather small, even shorter than Michael. He wore a white lab coat, much like Kranes’, and a yellow bow tie. His blue hair was parted in such a way that it was almost entirely on his right side. But what Michael always found bizarre was the glasses that had a spiral shape right on the lens. When Michael thought about it, the crazy look it gave Chobin did seem quite fitting.

Even though Michael recognized Chobin, Chobin didn’t seem to recognize Michael. He glared at Michael as if he was a complete stranger trespassing with sinister intents. This was a bad habit of Chobins’ which Michael had experienced upon their first meeting. That habit had persisted through all of their meetings, which Michael was frankly growing tired of.

“You! Who are you?!” Chobins’ dysfunctional memory showed its effect once again to Michael. Chobin did his best to look threatening by scowling and grasping the Poké Ball in his hand tightly. But after being in the same situation several times before, it was hard for Michael to take Chobin seriously anymore. “As Chobin is not expecting company today, it is evident that you are an unauthorized presence. Considering the multitude of magnificent inventions crafted by the insurmountable Dr. Kaminko within the manor, Chobin has come to the conclusion that you are –indeed- a burglar! Chobin has no respect for burglars!”

“Chobin! It’s me! Michael!” Michael moaned, deeply vexed, as he tried to refresh Chobins’ memory.

But his attempt was fruitless, which didn’t surprise him very much. Chobin only became more infuriated and disgusted than before. “You fiend! How dare you impersonate the great Michael! Enough! Chobin will tolerate no more! Chobin will teach this burglar a lesson!”

Chobin threw the Poké Ball he had in his hand forward. The Poké Ball released a small Grass-type Pokémon. Its head was in the shape of a blooming sunflower. The Pokémon’s eyes were narrow and curved, which were fixed on Michael as its head bobbed and swayed on its long neck. Its body resembled a plant stock, although it was more rounded than straight. The thick leaves on both sides served as arms, and its two-toed feet was a vague allusion to roots.

Michaels' patience had worn thin. He still didn’t see Chobin or his Sunflora as a threat, but they were quickly becoming an annoyance. “Dammit! I don’t have time for this!” Michael, impatient and irked, grabbed one of his own Poké Balls at random and threw it in front of him.

Unfortunately, that Poké Ball Autumns’, who was the worst possible Pokémon on Michaels’ team to face the Sunflora. That wasn’t because water Pokémon like Autumn had a disadvantage against Grass-types. Rather, it was for a completely different reason.

The Sunflora didn’t have temporary amnesia like his trainer did, as it didn’t take long for him to recognize the Vaporeon. His face turned pale with dread, not only knowing the prowess Autumn had, but also one of her bad habits.

Autumns’ expression immediately switched from a serious zest for battle to a playful glimmer in her eyes. Her mermaid-like tail swished back and forth. Her black eyes were fixed on and almost enchanted by the Sunfloras’ leafy arms. Those green, thick leaves triggered an irresistible response that stemmed back to her childhood.

Both Pokémon lost all their will to fight. Autumn began to lower herself into a crouching position and the Sunflora desperately looked for a hiding place to run to. Once Autumn sprang forward, the terrified Sunflora dashed across the courtyard with and the speed he could muster. The poor Pokémon was on the verge of tears as he let out a shrill, high-pitched scream.

The Sunflora swerved around the fountain and made several sharp turns as he tried to lose Autumn. But the Vaporeon was simply too fast for him. Before long, Autumn had closed the distance between her and her target and made her move. She leapt at the Sunflora, landing all four paws on his back. The Sunflora was pinned to the ground, screaming and squirming to try to free himself. But it was no use, as Autumn was far too heavy to throw off. Therefore, the pitiful Sunflora was left helpless as Autumn playfully swatted and nipped at his leaves.

Michael watched the whole scene unfold with his palm on his face. “Autumn! Don’t play with him!”

Chobin was echoing the same exact sentiments, “No, no! Sunflora is not to be playing with the burglars’ Pokémon!”

Chobin went from frantic and panicked over the battles’ undoing to enraged when he faced Michael again. But that emotion just as quickly switched to another one: confusion. He leaned his head forward and adjusted his swirly glasses. “Chobin is investigating the burglary subject further,” Michael heard him mutter to himself, “and has come to the conclusion that said subject is neither a burglar nor a Michael impersonator. It is –in fact- the real Michael! Chobin wonders why Michael didn’t speak up earlier.

Michael scowled, still frustrated and unimpressed with Chobin. “I did!”
Michael glanced over at Autumn and the Sunflora. Autumn was still having fun with the Sunfloras’ leaves, much to his dismay. Embarrassed, Michael sighed and returned Autumn to her Poké Ball. It didn’t take long for the Sunflora to realize that Autumn wasn’t on his back anymore. Once he did, he swiveled his head nervously. When the Sunflora saw that Autumn was nowhere to be seen, he sat up and wiped his forehead dry, relived.

“Look Chobin, I’ve gotta make this quick,” Michael anxiously latched Autumns’ Poké Ball to his belt, “Is Jovi here?”

“Michaels’ little sister? She is most certainly here, much to Chobins’ annoyance…” Chobin groaned, seemingly at the mention of the often uninvited guest.

All of Michaels’ morbid premonitions dissipated at Chobins’ information. He let out a relieved breath as he began to calm down. He became noticeably less tense as he relaxed himself. Jovi was alright and he didn’t need to worry. Knowing that –thankfully- all of that foreboding Michael had was false, he saw no harm in taking his time.

“Chobin wishes Michael would do something to prevent his little sister from trespassing so frequently. Though… Chobin realizes that such an attempt would most likely prove fruitless,” Chobin continued spilling his feelings of irritation to Michael, even though the teen was quick to zone out.
“Nevertheless, Chobin requests that Michaels’ little sister not bother Chobin, now of all times. Chobin finds it extremely difficult to keep an eye on an overcurious girl and the manor in Dr. Kaminkos’ absence simultaneously.”

Chobins’ last sentence was enough to break Michael out of his daze. He quickly jerked his head so he was looking directly in Chobins’ face. Michael backed up a little, unsure whether or not she heard Chobin correctly, “Dr. Kaminko… left the manor?! I… Is he feeling okay?!”

“Oh, most certainly,” Chobin replied, but not doing much to relieve the shock Michael had over the normally reclusive doctor, “Dr. Kaminko left to tend to some business elsewhere. Usually, the doctor leaves Chobin to do such errands. Evidently, however, the task is something that only his greatness can achieve. Therefore, he has left Chobin with the glorious honor of being responsible for his manor while he’s gone.”

Michael wasn’t too interested in what “great errand” Dr. Kaminko had left to do. Then again, knowing the oddities of the doctors’ character, Michael wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

Even if he was curious, Michael would’ve been interrupted. He heard the sound of footsteps behind him, followed by a familiar, childish voice, “Big brother! What are you doing here?”

Michael swiftly turned around. The little blue-haired girl with rosy cheeks was standing on the steps in front of the manors’ entrance. Like she was clueless about Michaels’ worries, she innocently ran down the steps to Michael.

Michaels’ expression brightened at the sight of his sister. He approached her with a small smile on his face. “I came here looking for you.” While he was no longer under the extreme pressure that he felt before, he did think of the worry he had over Jovi. “Do you gotta do that Jovi; leave home so dang unannounced all the time?”

Jovi looked confused for a moment, but suddenly came to a realization. “Oh! Jovi didn’t tell Mommy?!” Her cheeks grew redder than they already were as she smiled sheepishly. “Jovi… kinda forgot.”

Michael slapped his forehead. His relief was quickly overshadowed by irritation. After both he and Lily worried themselves close to death over the matter, finding out it was all caused by Jovi forgetting to let anyone know where she was going made Michael want to smash his head into the wall.

“Look, can we just leave already? Mom will blow up at me again if we don’t get home soon.” Michael, annoyed and tired from all the days’ events, just wanted to go home.

Jovi looked a little annoyed herself. She crossed her arms and gave a slight pout. Michael wasn’t surprised at her attitude, knowing her overwhelming attachment to the place.

Although it didn’t take long for Jovis’ mood to completely change. She looked at Michael with a feeling of excitement and awe shining in her eyes, “But big brother should really come here more often! Jovi found lots of neat stuff that the doctor made in the manor! Jovi doesn’t know what they are or what they do, but they’re still really cool! But there was something in there that Chobin wouldn’t let Jovi see, because Chobin’s a big meanie.”

“And for very good reason!” Chobin loudly broke in, “Chobin cannot be letting little girls –or anyone for that matter- be seeing ‘Chobins’ Super Secret Project!’”

“‘Chobins’ Super Secret Project?’ What the heck is that?” Michael asked more cynically than curiously.

“Chobin cannot tell you! If Chobin was to tell you, it would no longer be ‘Chobins’ Super Secret Project!’ It would just be ‘Chobins’ Project!’ And that sounds nowhere near as exciting!” Chobin went into a zealous, and somewhat defensive, outburst.

Michael backed up slightly, almost like Chobins’ weirdness was contagious. “Uh… yeah. Whatever,” He quickly took his mind off of the strange scientist and focused it back on Jovi. “Look, lets’ just get back home, alright?”

“Okay!” Jovi cheerfully answered Michael as she promptly ran towards the scooter. She stopped for a brief moment to wave goodbye to Chobin. “Bye Chobin! Jovi will be back soon!”

Chobin looked much less pleased. A look of utter dread swept across his face. “Oh… That’s… wonderful.” Chobin swiftly looked at Michael with a little bit of nervousness. “Can you please do something about her?” he said quietly.

Michael began to follow Jovi to the scooter, but he kept his head turned towards Chobin. He whispered to him, being careful to not let Jovi hear him, “I can’t make you any promises.”

Michael waved goodbye to Chobin as he ran past the gates. He found Jovi already sitting on the back seat of the scooter, suddenly looking just as eager to go home as he was. Starting up his scooter, getting home and relaxing was the only thing on his mind. With that though in his head, he sped out of the gloomy section of the woods and into the sunnier one.

* * *

His fears were assuaged, but he still felt uneasy.

Michaels’ eyes were on the road, but his mind wandered in other places. He had Jovi behind him, her arms wrapped around his waist as he drove down the forest path. But even her safety didn’t keep him from feeling insecure. There was still something gnawing at his conscious.

That feeling eventually caused him to park the scooter at the junction branching off to the Lab and Gateon Port. He tapped his fingers on the handle while staring straight at the ground. He had already made the decision to ask Jovi about what he feared shortly after leaving the manor. Now –for once- he spent the time gazing at the gritty road choosing his words carefully. Michael knew how big Jovis’ mouth was, and the last thing he wanted was Jovi to spread information about what happened earlier that day.

Michael took a deep breath and loosened his grip on the handle. “Hey Jovi,” He paused for a moment, still unsure about what he was going to say, “Did you… see anybody on the way here?”

Michael turned his head slightly in order to look Jovi in the face. He could see a hint of confusion in her childishly innocent eyes as she answered him, “Nope.”

He was a little surprised, but also a bit disbelieving. He decided to press her further, “You sure? You didn’t see anyone?”

“Uh-uh. Jovi didn’t see anyone,” Jovi shook her head and then tilted it slightly, “Why?”

Michael swiftly turned around to face the road instead of Jovi so she wouldn’t see the look insecurity on his face. “Err… um, no reason.”
Even though he had a hard time believe Jovi, he felt much more relaxed. While he was certainly glad that Jovi was alright, he still couldn’t but feel a bit frustrated over the whole situation. “Really though, Jovi. You can’t just go out alone like that! What if somebody was there and attacked you?”

Jovi quickly went from completely innocent and naïve to suddenly annoyed and defensive. She narrowed her eyes a little as she immediately defended herself from Michael, “Jovi didn’t go alone! See!” She turned around, unhooked the two Poké Balls containing her Plusle and Minun from her belt and held them an inch away from Michaels’ face. “She brought Pluplu and Mimi with her!”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah. Like they’ll be any good against… like, a Flygon or something.”

Jovi remained quiet for a little while. But Michael could tell by her silence that she was contemplating a comeback. “Well… Jovi heard that big brother went all the way from school to home with his Pokémon!”
Michael snapped his head around. He glared at his little sister, who taunted him with her childish eavesdropping. He was caught off guard and had to recover quickly. “W…Well I’m different! Do you really think anyone would even think to attack me after thrashing Cipher the way I did? Look, everyone in Orre knows that if they mess with me, they’ll get a sound as- err, butt-whooping.” He caught himself just in time, as he knew Jovi would tattle on him if he said so much as, “damn”.

Michael boosted his ego enough to compensate from the insecurity caused by Jovis’ retort. But she didn’t seem to exactly buy it. “Nuh-uh! If some big, scary guy jumped out at big brother, he’d run away scared!”

“I would not!” Michael spat, “‘Cause I’m not scared of anything!”

Jovi still didn’t buy it. She pointed at something behind Michael and said,
“Not even that ghost behind big brother?”

For a split second, Michael broke out in a cold sweat. His face turned pale and his throat became dry and airy. He hated ghosts. It didn’t matter if it was a B-movie ghost in a white bed sheet or a Ghost-type Pokémon; all things ethereal earned his eternal loathing. He would become petrified by the mere mention of a ghost. Michael wasn’t sure where that phobia came from. The only reason he could possibly give was a vague memory of a nightmare shortly after his father died of a ghost attacking him while he was in bed.

Michael gulped to try to relive his dry throat. “D…Don’t be silly,” he stammered, “There… There’s no ghost!”

“Yuh-uh!” Jovi squealed, “Look!”

Michael began to grow irritated, “Oh cut it out! You’re just saying that to fool with me!”

“Jovi is not! If big brother would just look, he’d see that Jovi’s right!”
He heaved a big sigh and rolled his eyes. “All right, fine. I’ll play along with your stupid game! Just to prove to you that there is no…”

Michael turned his head confidently where Jovi was pointing, with the intent of proving her wrong. He expected to face the road and see only the road, then more and likely listen to Jovi giggling about how gullible he was.

What he didn’t expect was to stare into a floating, empty skull with a glowing red orb wobbling inside it.


With a high-pitched scream and color-drained face, Michael tumbled off of his scooter at the sight of the miniature Grim Reaper. Resisting all temptation to freeze on the spot, he frantically crawled backwards to escape the Duskull. But as the ball of evil hovering directly over him matched Michaels’ panicked pace, Michael moved his shaking legs faster as the Duskull came closer until his back hit the truck of a tree. Terrified and backed into a corner, Michael began to flail his arms wildly in a vain hope that the ghost would be more scared than he was. “GETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWAY!”

But the Duskull managed to avoid each hysterical attack, swiftly dodging them with its smooth, fluid movements through the air. It effortlessly evaded Michaels’ assault, swerving, diving, and staring at something. Before long, the Duskull zeroed in on what it was truly interested in and dove towards Michaels’ belt.

The instant Michael felt a tug at his belt with all his Poké Balls attached he didn’t hesitate to swing his fist at the thieving Duskull. It felt like punching a ball of cloth at first, but he drew back his hand in pain when his fist smashed against the Duskulls’ bone mask. Michael immediately grasped his throbbing red hand with his other one, all while hissing through his clenched teeth.

The Duskull wasn’t in pain like Michael, but it was certainly stunned. It tumbled backwards in the air at the blow, hanging in place for a moment. It took a few seconds for it to come to its senses, but it had an infuriated scowl on its face when it did. The Duskull glared at Michael with its sleeve-like arm held against the area of impact and then swiftly fled back into the forest.

Once the Duskull disappeared into the woods, Michael was able to get back on his feet. Still grasping his bruised hand, he glared back into the forest with eyes that were now filled with anger instead of fear. “Stupid ghost…” he spat. He shook his hand in the air while wincing in pain and growling out loud, “Dangit!”

Jovi watched the entire ordeal from the safety of the scooter, calm, unfazed, and with the hint of a smile on her face. When Michael turned around to look her in the face, the slight smile evolved into a childish grin. She rocked back and forth slightly and sung triumphantly, “Jovi said soooo!”

Michael, however, was in no mood for her games. He bitterly narrowed his eyes and sharply hissed, “Aw, shut up, Jovi!”

Michael was never the kind of person to keep his emotions locked up. Demonstrating this, he sent stones flying along the road with swift kicks followed by a short, furious shout. He hated being made to look like a fool. He hated showing weakness and his fears for other people to see. And the more he thought about it, the fiercer he stomped the ground and the larger the dust cloud in front of him got.


The abrupt, shill sound of Jovis’ terrified voice was enough to snap Michael out of his tantrum. Pulling a random Poké Ball from his belt, a he wasted no time in rushing to Jovi. Instinctively, he guarded Jovi by standing in front of her and pointed his Poké Ball like a weapon at what she was screaming at.

The protective and enraged look in Michaels’ eyes was enough to strike terror into the offender. He immediately fell backwards at Michaels’ non-verbal threat. All of a sudden, the one that made Jovi cry for her big brother became twice as scared as she was.

“H… He tried to steal Jovis’ Pokémon!” Jovi shakily cried, pointing her finger at the thief while safely behind Michael.

When Jovi spoke, Michael lost a bit of his concentration. As the anger and instinct to shield Jovi from harm began to calm down, he became less blind to who he was facing. He slightly lowered his arm to get a better look at the culprit. His scowl began to loosen as he looked over the shivering sunny-blond whom never once lifted his gaze over his blue shades to look Michael in the eyes.

Michael the recognized the trembling figure on the verge of tears. “You?!” He lowered his arm even further. The sight of Folly alone made his heart sink. Knowing that only half of a full threat was cowering in front of him, Michaels’ face flooded with apprehension. He cautiously turned his head, looking for the other half. “Where’s…”

Before he could finish, he heard the swift, yet heavy, sound of footsteps behind him. Michael tried to react as soon as he heard them, but he was far too slow. In an instant, Michael felt two feet jump on his back. By the time he realized what was going on, the weight of the person that ambushed him had already pushed him to the ground. Michaels’ face was forced into the gravel while long nails were stabbing at his scalp. Even though the ambusher was light for his size, Michael was completely unable to move. As if her needed convincing to stay put, he felt cold, sharp metal touching the back of his neck, which made every inch of his body lock up.

He still wanted to get up and free himself, but the knife against his skin paralyzed him with fear. A chill went down his spine when an icy threat was delivered to his ears through a quiet, yet sharp hiss, “Ya must hate your life an awful lot if ya were even thinkin’ ‘bout hurtin’ him. ‘Cause if ya wanna die dat badly, I can certainly help ya out.”

Michael stayed like that for a while, both unable and unwilling to move. And Trudlys’ familiar, rough voice only gave him more reason to stay down. He had put him into a position where he was completely defenseless, unable to reach for his Poké Balls, or do much with the one he had in his hand. But knowing Trudly, Michael knew that this tactic wasn’t below him.

However, it almost seemed like Trudly was unaware of who he attacked in his blind rush. Nothing but Jovi yelling at Trudly to leave her big brother alone could be heard; both Trudly and Michael remained silent.
After several moments of Trudly not realizing who Michael was, Michael heard him give an exclamation in the form of a growl. At that moment, Michael felt his spiky hair being yanked to the point where his head was being lifted from the ground. The pressure on his back disappeared as heard Trudly jump off of him. Then before he knew it, Michael was skidding across the rocky ground.

The instant Michael realized that he wasn’t restrained anymore, he promptly stood up and furiously wiped the dirt and pebbles off of his face. He spun around to face the dirty blond, all while clenching a Poké Ball.

Both glared at each other with narrow, fiery eyes. The two remained motionless, cautious, and distrustful of one another. Not the model of calmness, Trudly was visibly irritated. He ground his teeth with the same intensity as his boot grinding the earth beneath it, and both of his fists were clenched into a tight ball. Michael wanted to get the same point across and was constantly trying to exceed Trudlys’ visible signs of anger.

The air was left to mix with the raging auras. The silence became laced with distrust and disdain, and neither Folly nor Jovi dared to break it.

Finally, Trudly interrupted the flow of silent malice between him and Michael. “What da hell are ya doin’ here?”

Trudlys’ question didn’t break Michaels’ anger. On the contrary, it only intensified it. “What the hell are you doing here?” Michael stepped forward, no longer afraid of Trudly. “What were you trying to pull?! What were you doing?! Were you just waiting for someone to rob?!” He pulled his Poké Ball into sight. “Well I got news for you! You picked the wrong person!”

Trudly, however, wasn’t fazed by Michaels’ threats. He simply stood there with an unimpressed look on his face and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

When Michael had stopped talking, a gray mass peeked over Trudlys’ shoulder. When he saw the red eye glaring at him grudgingly, Michael immediately recognized it as the Duskull. At that instant, Michael wasn’t as brave anymore. The tough front Michael put up quickly dissolved. He jumped back at the sight of the Duskull and gave a shrill scream.

Trudly reached behind his shoulder and massaged the side of Spooks’ head. He gave a small laugh with a smile as he shook his head. As Spook disappeared behind his shoulder, content with the attention given to him by his trainer, Trudly turned his head towards Michael. He chuckled slightly again and said with a mocking voice, “All it took was dat lil’ ghost to scare ya, huh? I saw how ya were cryin’ earlier; ya don’t fool me for a second.”

After Spook was out of sight, Michaels’ phobia became unnoticeable again. He scowled at Trudly, and his sharp tone of voice fed his annoyance, “You didn’t answer my question! What did you guys think you were going to do to my little sister?!”

The intensity and anger in the hiss was meant to show the duo that he wasn’t to be messed around with. But Trudlys’ hostile and aggressive nature made him resistant to such a tone. The unfazed look on his face proved that Michael –to his dismay- wasn’t a threat in Trudlys’ eyes. Trudly didn’t seem to be taking him seriously, and Follys’ head was hanging too low to even see a reaction.

Finally, Michael could see emotion forming in Trudlys’ face. But it wasn’t the kind of emotion that stroked Michaels’ ego. Instead of fear, Michael could see flames of anger sparking again in his eyes. He gave Michael the kind of stare that let him know that he meant business. “And what da hell did ya think ya were gonna do to Folly?”

Trudly was done playing games. Michael could sense that with every small -yet fierce- step he took towards him. The snowballing rage grew every second, which was enough for Michael to become nervous enough to back up.

“Had ya lil’ brat if a sister kept still ‘n quiet like she was supposed to, all day would’ve happened were a couple of Pokémon stolen, and dat would’ve been da end of it.” Trudlys’ face contorted into a furious scowl, one that would put an Ursaring to shame. “But instead, ya decide to not play it safe, ‘n ya go and threaten Folly.”

“And what?! Let my sisters’ Pokémon get stolen?!” Michael burst out.

“What da hell ya getting’ so p*ssed ‘bout, Mr. Black Pot? Ya do da same goddamn thing all da time.” Trudly retorted mockingly.

Michael was momentarily silenced. But he didn’t want Trudly of all people to be putting him on his level. Michael was about to explain that his situation was different, but Trudly began speaking again.

“I honestly don’t care what kind of excuse ya have. As far as I’m concerned, anyone stupid enough to intercept on robbery deserves to get their *** kicked.” Trudly shamelessly and nonchalantly defended his and Follys’ crime.

His eyes regained their raging intensity tenfold. Trudly suddenly became the most intimidating and protective Michael’s ever seen him. “If ya ever lay your hands on Folly, I’ll mangle ‘em along with da rest of your body!

Michaels’ face turned colorless. Sweat was soaking both his face and his palms. His slippery hands struggled to keep a hold of the Poké Ball as they trembled. Michael knew well enough that Trudly was just the kind of person to carry out such a threat. He had heard of his violent fits of rage before, but he had never seen one. Michael wanted to keep it that way.
His nervous eyes darted over to Jovi. She also was frightened, but she showed it more than Michael. Even at the distance Michael was from her, he could see her shaking in place. Her eyes as well reflected fear, but she regardless kept them fixed on Trudly.

Trudly eventually noticed what Jovi was doing. He turned his head to look Jovi in the eyes, which was enough to make Jovi nearly jump out her seat. His eyes narrowed and he spat sharply, “What da hell ya starin’ at?”

His icy words caused Jovi to be even more mortified of him. She lowered her head to avoid looking at the antagonistic look on his face. She began to speak up, but in a tiny, trembling voice, “Y… You say lots of m… mean things to big brother. An… And you swear a lot…”

Trudly was quiet for a moment. That silence told Michael that he didn’t take Jovi very seriously either. He rolled his eyes, turned away, and shortly said, “I don’t give a sh*t.”

Ignoring Jovi and her shocked expression from that point on, Trudly turned back to Michael, “How long do ya really think ya can test our patience? Neither me nor Folly has done jack **** to ya! But from day one ya haven’t done anythin’ but cause trouble!”

“And I was supposed to ignore all those Shadow Pokémon you guys had?!” Michael retorted feeling a little less intimidated.

“I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout da Shadow Pokémon!” Trudly snapped back bitterly and somewhat grudgingly, “Ya screwed us over in worse ways than snaggin’ Pokémon!”

Michael wasn’t sure what to make of what Trudly just said. He clenched his teeth both in confusion and anger. He had no idea what he was being accused of, and began to hate Trudly even more for that reason. “What? I haven’t done anything but snag Pokémon from your boss! What the hell did I do to you?!”

Trudly looked distant for a little while. He was unresponsive as he stared at nothing in particular, more focused on thoughts than sights. For those few seconds, Trudly retained his bitter face. But every now and then, a flash of a different emotion would appear on his face; hatred, frustration, worry, and to Michael’s surprise, sadness.

Eventually, Trudly snapped himself out of his reflective state. He lowered his head and sighed, “Nothin’. Jus’ drop it.”

Michael, however, was not about to accept Trudlys’ decision to let the subject die so easily. “No! Tell me what I di-”

“I said drop it!”

The roar and biting ferocity of Trudlys’ sudden burst of rage was finally enough to cause Michael to get the message. He flinched and silenced himself immediately. He hated to turn down a fight and let criminals like Trudly and Folly walk away, but in the back of his mind, his conscience pleaded for him to not instigate Trudly any further.

The intensity of Trudlys’ demand made Jovi frightened as well. She hid behind Michael, only daring to reveal enough of her face to be able to watch Trudly walk away.

“Folly. Let’s go.” Trudly said while making a prompting hand gesture at him.

Folly, who was still in the same spot Michael found him in, stumbled slowly and gingerly onto his feet. His legs, especially his left one, wobbled like a newborn Ponyta trying to stand for the first time. When he finally did get his balance, Folly winced in pain as he hobbled alongside Trudly.

As Michael watched the pair walk past him, he began to think about something he noticed earlier, but had other things on his mind. Something seemed… different about Folly. When Michael saw him for the first time in almost a year, something did not seem quite right about him. Although he was not as hostile and violent as Trudly, he was no saint by any stretch of the imagination. He was more than crafty and unpredictable enough to be considered a threat.

But just a few minutes prior, Michael had noticed that some kind of extreme change had taken place. Folly was suddenly timid and faint-hearted, contrary to the Folly he met just the following year.
Whatever had happened, it wasn’t much of a concern to Michael. What went on in their lives was not Michaels’ problem, and he felt no need to get involved.

He only concern at that moment was going home. As the two thieves headed in the opposite direction, Michael was getting ready to head back to the Lab. It was starting to get late and he knew that his mother would have a conniption before long.

“Now what was all this yelling I heard?”

Michael swiveled his head in the direction of the voice. Jovi looked along with Michael, not knowing what to expect anymore. Trudly turned his head too, but more slowly and in an irritated manner. And Folly froze in place with a violent tremble.

Without him noticing, Michael saw that the lanky figure with the wobbly hair had been walking in his direction. Now he stood in place, with a confused and disappointed look on his face.

“Oh, do you really need to be in such a bad mood all the time? You being in a bad mood puts me in a bad mood and that’s no fun!” Miror B. complained with upward slanting eyebrows and a hand on his hip. But refusing to stay negative for long, he grinned and pointed at Trudlys’ face, “It’s those glasses! It’s because you’re always seeing red! Why don’t you take them off and cheer up a little?”

Trudly didn’t look very enthusiastic about his boss’ suggestion and he certainly didn’t give the impression that he was going to followed it. Not amused, he flatly said, “Yeah. I’ll do dat next time.”

Jovi peeked at the strange man interestingly, but she made sure not to expose herself too much. She stared at him for a moment, before whispering in Michaels’ ear, “Why does that man have a Voltorb on his head?”

Michael was taken aback by the question. At first, he felt annoyed at such a stupid question. But he quickly realized that it wasn’t that difficult for anyone to mistake the mass on Miror B.s’ head for a Voltorb. “That’s his hair.”

Miror B., with his selective sense of sight, had completely overlooked Michael. Trudly seemed to hope it would stay that way, but no Michael. Part of him wanted to go home as quickly as possible. But a stronger, more dominant part of him was itching for a fight. He had no desire to fight Chobin, Trudly, or Folly; they were far below his skill level and a waste of time. But now an irresistible lust for battle overtook his mind, pushing away his thoughts of going home. He had fought Miror B. several times before and won, but he was still strong enough to be worth his time.

Keeping silent was about to be impossible for Michael when his aggression was fighting a winning battle against his calmer side. He wasn’t about to let Miror B. ignore him and walk away. He was strongly inclined to make Miror B. aware of his presence, but soon Michael found that he didn’t need to.

Miror B., diverting his attention away from Trudly and Folly, began to look in Michaels’ direction. For a moment, Miror B. was yet again clueless as to who was standing right in front of him. He was looking directly at Michael, but it didn’t seem to register immediately in Miror B.s’ head who he was.
The blank stare on Miror B.s’ face only made Michael even madder and more impatient with every passing second. That naïve and apparently forgetful look tested Michaels’ patience, turning his battle-hungry smile into an annoyed frown.

All of a sudden, a flash of recognition flooded Miror B.s’ face. He nearly fell backwards and his eyes looked like they were about to pop out from surprise. “YOU?!”

Michael was also about to fall over, but out of disbelief rather than shock. “It took you that long?!”

Miror B. regained his posture but still looked like he was caught completely off-guard. “Ohhh… What are you doing here?!” he whined, “This just ruins my day! I never want to have to deal with you, let alone today of all days!”

“What’re you so worried about? Got something to hide?” Michael questioned him suspiciously. Miror B. had always given him an apprehensive feeling, like there was something always up his purple sleeve. He was anxious for a battle with him, but he knew better than to trust that Miror B. wouldn’t pull anything dirty.

Miror B. seemed insulted by the comment and he quickly lost his rattled feeling. “Oh, so I can’t take a walk now without you insisting that I’m doing something wrong?”

A small, devious smile formed on Michaels’ face. His thumb moved over the button in the middle of the Poké Ball and his arm swayed back and forth. He was leading Miror B. right where he wanted him. “If you say you’re so innocent, prove it.”

Miror B., however, was not as gullible as he had hoped. His expression didn’t change from insulted to aggressive; he didn’t seem to be interested in fighting Michael. He stepped back, shook his head and hands, and laughed humorlessly, “Oh no! I’m not as stupid as you think, boy! I know a losing battle when I see one! Losing to you over and over isn’t fun! And I’m not about to fight a boring battle!” He glanced at Trudly and Folly, looking anxious to leave. “Boys! Let’s get out of here before today gets any worse!”

Without a word, the two henchmen followed their boss’ command and began to follow him out of the forest. Neither of them seemed to have any objections, and if they did, they didn’t look like they wanted to voice them. Trudly and Folly walked at a slow pace past Michael with Trudly leading. Whether he was keeping that pace to let Folly walk at a comfortable speed or to keep a distance from their boss, Michael couldn’t tell.

But Michael wasn’t about to let them walk away so easily. His head was swimming with thoughts, desperately looking for something to say. His lust for fighting wasn’t something that he could deny easily. This was a desire he had to fulfill one way or another.

“Well, battling with those stupid Ludicolo would be boring!”

The comment was loud and mocking enough to catch Miror B.s’ fading interest. He stopped dead in his tracks, cringing at the same time. Miror B. turned his head enough for Michael to see his expression. The jolly, cheerful, and foolish expression he usually wore was nowhere to be found. His unusual pacifism he displayed earlier was entirely inverted. Miror B. was more than insulted. He was furious. His clenched teeth and intensely furrowed brows combined formed an intimidating expression, which made Michael rethink his actions for a moment.

“Stupid?!” Miror B. hissed through his teeth. In an instant, he seized two Poké Balls from his belt, grasping them hard enough to make the veins in his hands visible. “Let’s see how stupid they are when they rip your head off!”

His sudden explosion led to Miror B. violently flinging the Poké Balls in Michaels’ direction. The force and speed of Miror B.s’ enraged throw suggested that he was aiming to hit Michael.

But he fell short of his target. The balls landed a couple yards away from him; the two halves cracked open when they hit the ground. The red energy burst forth from the inside of the balls, forming the two nearly identical silhouettes. Eventually, the energy took physical form and became the twin Ludicolo, Didi and Lolo. In nearly perfect synchronization, both Ludicolo leapt in the air and landed firmly without faltering. They stomped the ground in unison, displaying their zeal and readiness for battle. “Luu di!”

Michaels’ heart leapt for a moment. He expected Miror B. be angry at his comment; after all, that was his intention. But he didn’t expect Miror B. to be enraged. Before he came to his senses, Michael was scared that he had induced a murderous rage in Miror B. and that he had made a huge mistake in doing so.

Regardless, Miror B. had played right into Michaels’ hand by sending out his Ludicolo. A smirk spread across his face. Now that Miror B. had done exactly what he wanted, Michael finally got the chance to used the power he and been threatening to use all day.

He quickly threw two Poké Balls in front of the Ludicolo before they had a chance to attack him directly. Both of them burst open at the same time, and materialized at the same time.

Once of them was a rather small, bipedal creature. Its body looked docile and meek; tiny feet hidden beneath a thick mass of dull yellow leg hair, flimsy arms ending with clawless hands, and a face with huge red eyes and the impression that it was absolutely harmless.

An enemy paying attention to only those details wouldn’t have taken the Pokémon seriously at all. However, one feature of the Pokémon would completely erase that notion. Hanging from the back of the Pokémons’ head were two massive horns. Theset of horns were bigger than the Pokémon itself.

The “horns” however, did not look much like horns at all. Both were wide across until they ended at a thin tip. One horn was placed on the top of the other at an angle, leaving space in between the two. The edges were lined with triangular branches that resembled a set of flesh-tearing teeth. The horns were a dark gray color, with a single pale yellow, circular spot on the top horn. What in reality was a complicated set of horns appeared to be a giant, carnivorous maw.

The false mouth was as hard and heavy as steel, but the Mawile was able to swing it around like it was weightless. The Mawile had so much control over the movement of his horns that he was able to move each horn independently of each other. Doing so made the “jaws” open wide and snap shut with incredible pressure.

The Mawile turned his back on the Ludicolo so that his horns were facing them. But he also made that move for another reason. Hunter always had an aloof and distant attitude. No matter whom it was he hated to look others in the face, further highlighting his lonely personality. It even applied to Michael, whom Hunter was by no means on bad terms with.

The other appeared to be nothing but a ball of thick, brown quills. This was how the Pokémon almost always appeared to others. Like Hunter, she also hated to make eye-contact with others. But while Hunters’ case was more out of insecurity, hers was out of fear. Incredibly timid, she kept herself curled into a ball to avoid looking at anyone directly. Only occasionally would she poke her tan-brown shrew-like face and the two sharp claws on each hand out into the open. The Sandslash did just that as she entered the battle, quickly evaluating the enemy with her slanted black eyes before tucking her head back in.

Michael had initially named his Sandslash Screwball because of the curving and tricky rolling attacks she would use in battle. But he found after seeing her tight in her ball even when there was no threat that her name fit in more ways than one.

Both his Pokémon were out and ready to fight. Michael had already prepared himself mentally for battle and was brimming with energy. Hunter and Screwball were at a large disadvantage against the Water and Grass-type Ludicolo. But Michael was nevertheless confident that he would win. He had faced Miror B. several times before. He was entirely sure that he could beat him again, even with his weakest Pokémon.

Even though Michael was looking straight ahead at the twin Ludicolo, he briefly shifted his focus to something he saw out of the corner of his eye. When Miror B. burst into a rage at Michael, Michael saw Folly suddenly shield his head with his arms and fall to his knees. He was crouched over defensively and –even from the distance between them- Michael could see him shivering.

As soon as Folly crumbled into such a state, Michael saw Trudly kneeled down beside him and tried to calm him down. It almost looked like he was consoling him. Michael was a bit surprised to see Trudly –of all people- act so softly.

But Michael wasn’t very interested in whatever was going on with the men and quickly turned his attention back to Miror B. He still looked clearly enraged. But Michael noticed that after a while, Miror B.s’ expression seemed to calm down. Gradually, the muscles in his face loosened up as the anger ebbed away. Within seconds, Miror B. went from steaming mad to bewildered.

Then, all of a sudden, it seemed as if Miror B. had put the pieces of the situation together. He jumped back a little before throwing arm forward, pointing straight at Michael. The anger flooded back in his face, but in the form of annoyance, rather than intense rage. “Ooh, you! You really do know how to push my buttons!”

Michael gave a short laugh, affirming the game he was playing. But Miror B. wasn’t so sure about joining in. He pawed the ground, grumbled and groaned a little, and looked conflicted overall. “Oh… I really don’t want to fight you, but…”

His Ludicolo were unsure of the situation too. They were no longer in their fighting position. Instead, they had turned their back to Michaels’ Pokémon and faced their trainer. It was as if they were also confused and were waiting for confirmation on whether they were really going to fight or not.

Michaels’ Pokemon weren’t immune either. The silence and inactivity made Hunter swing his horns back and forth out of boredom. It had also made Screwball impatient and confused, so much that she resorted to loosening herself enough to take a quick peek at what was going on.

Miror B. was standing there arguing internally with himself for so long that Michael was about ready to order his Pokémon to attack the Ludicolo before he could recall them. But after much deliberation on Miror B.s’ part, he had finally seemed to make up his mind. “Didi! Lolo! Make this quick and don’t play around with him!”

Both Ludicolo spun around and squeaked excitedly in response. Without any hesitation, they dashed straight towards their opponents with their retractable claws out.


19th August 2009, 3:44 PM
Michaels’ grin spread wider, finally getting the chance to release his pent up energy. He was more than ready to fight, and had already had a strategy in his head. “All right guys! Let’s do this! Screwball! Get a Rollout started! Hunter! Smash your horns at them when they come in!”

Michaels’ Pokémon were also prepared and ready for battle, as not a second was wasted after the commands were given. Screwball began to roll around in her ball, eventually moving away from her starting position and rolling in wide circles to gain momentum. Hunter swung his horns back and forth even wider than before, getting ready to swing them at the Ludicolo when the time was right. He even turned himself slightly to keep an eye on the Ludicolos’ movements.

But the Ludicolo were also fast thinkers, and reacted to Michaels’ strategy right away. They split up from each other, Didi going left and Lolo going right, but still targeting Hunter. They were moving far too much apart from another. Hunter could attack two enemies if they were close to each other, but the distance between the twins made such a move impossible. He could attack one of the Ludicolo, but he would still be leaving himself wide open for the other one to attack him.

Michael realized this, but he knew that such a scenario was now inevitable. Hunter wasn’t fast on his legs, so avoiding them wasn’t an option. The best he could do was attack one of them, and hope that Hunters’ reflexes were fast enough to block himself from the other. “Get the one of the left!”

Hunter both prepared his attack and braced himself. As Didi drew near, he swung his heavy horns at the Ludicolo, his whole body spinning in the process. But just in time, Didi ducked to the ground as Hunters’ horns swung right over her. She was quick to get back on her fight and take advantage of Hunters’ being left defenseless after his failed attack. Didi dashed towards Hunters’ front side and slapped her hands together right in front of his face.

Hunter recoiled at the sudden sound; he was distracted just long enough to not realize that Lolo was quickly approaching him. Michael yelled his name to warn him, but by then he was too late. Lolos’ claws raked at the Mawiles’ soft, unprotected, flesh; not even his thick fur could shield him. The yellow fur that did not fly off as Lolo sliced at him was quickly becoming dyed red.

The frenzied slashes at his flesh were enough to snap Hunter out of his temporary daze. Relying on instinct and ignoring the pain, he quickly swung his horns at Lolo. Such an attack with little preparation meant that it lacked its normal power to break even bricks. But it was still enough to knock Lolo away from him and cease his assault.

Lolo skidded across the ground, far away enough to keep his claws out of range. Michael knew that Didi and Lolo would probably not be able to perform that technique again in that battle. Hunter wasn’t likely to be surprised by Didi like that again, as his senses were fine tuned to their movements even more than when the battle began.

Didi, as if realizing this, ran away from Hunter to keep herself from being hit too. She ran over to Lolo, checking on him to make sure he was okay. Lolo sat up, rubbing the area of impact while scowling at the Mawile.

“Hunter, are you alright?” Michael asked him, concerned as he watched Hunter keep one of his hands over his cuts.

Hunter nodded to keep Michael from worrying, but he failed to hide the winces he made at the sharp pain.

Michael kept part of his attention on his Mawile, and the other part on Screwball. While the Ludicolo were focused solely on Hunter, Screwball was picking up speed and power at a fast rate. She appeared as a brown blur as she raced along the path. The timing was just right to launch her attack, “Now Screwball!”

Even while spinning at such a fast speed, she heard Michaels’ order. She took a wide turn, altering her path so that the Ludicolo were in the way. Screwball couldn’t see her enemies, but her acute hearing and sense of smell allowed her to lock on to them. Throwing dust into the air in the process, Screwball tore across the ground straight at the Ludicolo.

“Get out of the way!” Miror B. realized what Screwball was doing just while he still had enough time to warn his unsuspecting Ludicolo.

Didi, being evidently sharp-minded, was the first to react to her trainers’ call. Before Lolo could react, Didi grabbed his hands and pulled him out of the way of the Sandslash that could have easily sliced them like a buzz saw.

Screwball buzzed right past them, but she seemed to realize that she missed her mark. She turned around and spun in place for a moment, kicking up another cloud of dirt. Then she took off again at the Ludicolo, just as swiftly as her first attempt.

Didi and Lolo kept an eye on her so they could react to her charges. The duo pulled each other out of the way and jumped over the ball of quills as she stubbornly zoomed back and forth. But she was getting faster with every passing second, and the Ludicolo together was a big target. Even as quick as the pair was, Screwball would exceed their speed before long.

Knowing full well of that fact, Miror B. came up with a plan to make it harder for Screwball, “Didi! Focus on the Mawile! Lolo! Get that nasty Sandslash out of the way!”

The Ludicolo immediately acted on the command. Lolo hoisted his sisters’ legs in his palms and tossed her in the air towards Hunter. Didi readied her attack even in midair. A look of deep concentration came over her face, one that Michael recognized. He knew at once what she was doing. She was channeling energy into her fists, so much that electricity crackled along the back of her hand. Before long, those little sparks completely surrounded her hands, creating a bright, electric aura.

Michael knew very well that any Pokémon that could channel fire, ice, or electric energy and localize it in their fists were not to be taken lightly. Hunter knew very well himself, but Michael made sure to remind him of that fact, “Block it! Don’t let her hit you directly!”

Hunter did just that. He moved his wide horns directly in front of Didi before she could strike her body. The horns absorbed the impact, even the electricity running from Didis’ fists. His horns were not only made to crush even the toughest material, but to protect a Mawile from attacks, even doing so much as keeping energy from traveling to the body and harming it.

Didi recoiled in pain for a second from punching the hard horns. But she was quick to continue her assault. She swung her fists from all angles possible, and Hunter swung his horns to match her movements. Each party tried to inflict damage to the other, but Didis’ quickness and Hunters’ superior blocking skills turned the match into a stalemate.

Lolo was having an equally tough time with Screwball. Already, Michael could see a few cuts from Screwball grazing him. But from seeing how clearly energetic Lolo was in his dodges and the furious swipes of his claws, Michael could tell that Lolo had yet to be hit directly. Screwball couldn’t keep up such a momentum forever. She had to inflict major damage to Lolo before long, or else she would grow tired and leave herself defenseless.

Miror B. furrowed his eyebrows slightly, growing frustrated with how the battle was not proceeding as quickly as he hoped. He was becoming clearly impatient, and when grew impatient, Michael knew that’s when Miror B. took things up a notch.

When Lolo came close to where Miror B. was standing, he called to him, “Show it some real power Lolo! Hydro Pump!”

Lolo nodded all while jumping and dancing around Screwball. He hesitated a little, not unleashing the attack as soon as he was ordered. But Michael caught on quick to what he was doing. His Vaporeon knew Hydro Pump as well, and Michael knew that such a powerful attack expended a lot of energy. He realized that no sensible Pokémon would use such a technique lightly, and would most likely conserve it as much as they could. Therefore, he figured out that Lolo was probably waiting for the right moment to use the move.

After a long time of running and hopping around, he finally had that moment. Lolo stood facing Hunter in the background, and Screwball rushing at him in the foreground. Lolo squeaked at Didi, most likely telling her to move out of the way.

Didi responded to her brother by jumping out of the way of both Lolo and Hunters’ swings. She ran off fast enough so Hunter couldn’t catch up to her and to keep him in Lolos’ line of fire.

Lolos’ cheeks swelled with water. He struggled to hold it all in until the right moment. Small squirts of water spat out of his beak as he waited for Screwball to be in the perfect place. He needed to get it right. If he did, he would knock Screwball into Hunter, and take both of them out of battle.

Michael needed to prevent that.

His mind raced to come up with a plan. But things were moving too quickly. Screwball couldn’t stop now. Hunter was too slow to dodge. It seemed like things were playing right into Miror B.s’ hands.

And Miror B. grinned triumphantly knowing that.

“Now Lolo!”

“Watch out!”

A torrent of water burst from Lolos’ mouth, with Screwball right in the way.

The blast of water was short, but it was enough to reverse Screwballs’ direction. She was pushed backwards, heading straight for Hunter.

Instinct was the only thing Hunter could rely on in such a situation. The moment he saw Screwball flying towards him, he automatically swung his horns.

She struck the hard, metal-like horns in mid-swing. The hard quills protected Screwball herself. But the force caused a few to crack and fracture. The vibrating sound of Screwball hitting the horns rang through the air. Like a baseball bat hitting a ball, Screwball was sent flying back to where she was initially…

…straight at Lolo.

His eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Lolo realized that his plan went wrong. But by then, it was too late to do anything about it.
The balled-up Sandslash smashed into the Ludicolos’ chest, knocking him backwards. The quills slashed his down and skin, causing the tips of the quills to be wet with his blood. Screwball rolled off of Lolo as he fell to the ground, unconscious.

“Lolo!” Didi screamed as she watched the whole scene unfold. Instantly ignoring Hunter, she rushed over to her brother, yelling his name. She held his head up and shook his body, trying to revive him. But Lolo was completely unresponsive and knocked out cold.

Screwball came to a halt a few feet away from Lolo. As she stopped, she uncurled herself, revealing her full body. She had a dizzy and pained look in her eyes as she stumbled to her two-clawed feet. But she was only able to take a couple of uneasy steps before she lost her balance and collapsed back to the ground.

Hunter saw her fall to the ground in her daze. Concern over his usual partner in battle immediately swept over his face. He looked like he wanted to rush to her and check on her condition, but he seemed reluctant and only took a few steps. He learned through the battle that Didi could react extremely quickly, faster than he could ever hope to. It was as if he was scared to move enough to get Didis’ attention, so any move that he did make was very small and quiet.

Michael could hardly believe what he just saw. He had expected Lolos’ move to work perfectly, but he never expected that Hunter could cause it to backfire the way it did. He felt a little less tense than he was a minute ago, but he still wasn’t relaxed after watching the effect on Screwball. He wasn’t worried about her broken quills; they’ve gotten broken in battle before and they grow back easily. But the odd Sandslash only uncurled herself completely either when the battle required drastic measures or when her energy had completely been used up. Seeing as how Screwball was lying in one spot and not moving, Michael knew the latter was probably the case.

He whispered to Hunter to not worry and stay put while he returned Screwball to her Poké Ball. He tried to do so as quietly as he could without alerting the attention of Miror B. or Didi.

Miror B., on the other hand, didn’t keep as quiet. The moment Lolo was knocked out, he erupted into a full-blown panic. The color in his face drained completely and he could barely keep himself still and calm. He tightly grasped part of his huge hair as he nervously jumped back and forth. “Aah! Lolo! Get up! Get up!”

Didi, attentive as always, spotted Hunter as he moved from his original position. Rage filled her eyes at the sight of Mawile. With her fists clenched and a scowl on her face, she quickly stood up and rushed at Hunter, screaming at him with every step.

Hunter saw Didi coming at him, but instead of fighting back, he braced himself by moving his horns in front of him and clamping his eyes shut. He could barely touch Didi before, and it was as if he knew that there wasn’t much he could do to stop her in her rage.

Michael had to think quickly, or else Hunter would be left at the mercy of the furious Ludicolo. His hands quickly ran across his belt, scrambling to find a Pokémon that was fast enough to stop Didi. He grabbed one and swiftly threw it on the field.

The Ludicolo was rapidly approaching Hunter; every inch she came closer to him made him tense up even more. For a moment, a sense of hopelessness swept across the Mawile.

The sound of swift footsteps not of the Ludicolos’ made Hunter crack one of his eyes open. At that moment, a red blur shot towards Didi. The blur was the two red claws of a Breloom swiftly making its’ way to the enemy. The clenched claws punched Didi in her side, carrying enough force to cause her to skid across the ground, far away from Hunter.

Both Hunter and Michael gave a relieved sigh at Pogos’ quickness. Without a second though, Pogo stood in between Hunter and Didi, shielding him. He hopped back and forth sideways while making short, threatening jabs at the air in Didis’ direction.

Didi grasped her side, cringing in pain a little. She stared at the opposition for a moment before standing up. Even though she was outnumbered, she didn’t look any less aggressive. Rather, she clenched her fists back up and prepared to attack again.

“Didi! Wait!” the sharp call of Miror B. was the only thing that made Didi stop in her steps. She turned her head towards him reluctantly, her desire to fight more apparently strong. But she didn’t make the mistake of relaxing and periodically looked back at Pogo and Hunter.

Miror B. explained his command to her further, with a small scowl on his face, “It’s not going to do a bit of good to attack them one-on-two. If you really want to avenge Lolo, then don’t be foolish by doing it alone!”
Didi remained motionless and unresponsive for a few seconds. But then she gave a small sigh, loosened her fists, and conceded to her trainers’ words. She turned back to the Breloom and Mawile, ready to defend herself if need be, but she stood her ground and would not go back on the offense.

Miror B. turned back to Michael, a small smile signaling his quick mood change. “You caught me off guard! Here I was thinking that there was no way your Pokémon could guard itself from Lolos’ attack, but here you proved me wrong!” His smile turned into a full grin as he laughed, “I had nearly forgotten that I got some new Pokémon on my side. And what better time than now to test their strength?”

New Pokémon? Michael thought. He knew that whenever Miror B. got a new Pokémon, it was never a good sign. Nevertheless, he quickly shook that feeling off.

Miror B. grabbed a Poké Ball and enlarged in his hand. Excited and anxious, he drew his arm back and tossed it in front of him. “All right whoever-you-are! Let’s see what you got!”

The ball cracked open, revealing a rather small, but stocky Pokémon. It was covered in a mass of dark blue fur with a small creamy white spot on that began on its chest and went to its lower jaw. The fur was especially thick and long around its waist; so much so that its legs were completely hidden under the hair with its’ round feet barely sticking out. It had short arms and small hands with tiny fingers. The Pokémon had pointy, triangular ears that stood straight up from its round face. Its’ lower jaw was a bit pronounced, with two sharp teeth sticking out.

Michael recognized the species of the Pokémon immediately. He remembered seeing a Munchlax before under the ownership of an herbalist in Gateon Port. Still, Sinnoh-native Pokémon were rather rare in Orre, which made him wonder how on earth someone like Miror B. could possibly get a hold of such a Pokémon.

He didn’t think much of it at first, but Michael kept having the nagging feeling that something was not quite right. Miror B. obtaining such a Pokémon so suddenly like that usually meant it was stolen. In the past, the previous owner was almost always a Cipher member, and the Pokémon was a Shadow Pokémon.

But that couldn’t be the case this time. Michael had both caused Cipher to disband and destroyed their Shadow Pokémon factory. There was no way that anyone would have the means to create another Shadow Pokémon. Michael was entirely sure that he did the job of burying Cipher once and for all; a new Shadow Pokémon was impossible.

Still, there was something rather unnerving about the Munchlax. Most Pokémon entering battle taunted the enemy or did something to prepare itself to fight. But the Munchlax stood motionless, simply staring at the opposition with its oval eyes. It didn’t even give off the tiniest trace of emotion. From a distance, it didn’t even look like it was even alive.

Michael shook his head back and forth in an attempt to bring him to his senses. Cut it out! Stop thinking like that! Just because it’s weird doesn’t mean anything! He needed to put his focus back on the battle and push his paranoia into the back of his mind.

Miror B. didn’t seem to take much notice of the strangeness that the Munchlax had, however. Instead, his eyes sparkled with awe enough to rival his glittery glasses. “Ooh! It’s so cute! And fluffy! It just oozes grooviness!”

He danced in place in excitement with a huge, cheerful grin on his face. But all of a sudden, he paused and the grin disappeared. “But I don’t know anything about how a Munchlax battles…” Miror B. crossed his arms and tapped one of his platform shoes, trying to think of a strategy. Eventually, he grew too flustered and simply blurted out, “Oh, I don’t have the time to play a guessing game! You, Munchlax! Just do whatever you’re capable of!”

Even though the Munchlax was motionless upon its introduction into battle, it was automatic in its response. Not even a moment passed before it threw its arm back. Almost looking like it was throwing something at Pogo Mawile, it swiftly swung its arm forward.

Michael watched the Munchlax closely, but he never saw anything leave its’ hands. For a moment, Pogo, Hunter, and even Didi looked confused at what exactly the Munchlax was doing.

That moment didn’t last long.

Suddenly, both Hunter and Pogo were knocked backwards. They stayed on their feet and didn’t look like they had been severely damaged, but both were nevertheless clenching their teeth in pain.

Michael, perplexed at what hit them, still craned his neck back and forth to try to find any wounds on them. But there were no bruises, cuts, or even the smallest trace of blood. The attack itself was invisible, and the after-effects were apparently invisible as well.

The entire group in the vicinity of the battle watched the last move made by the Munchlax in confusion. Even Jovi, Trudly, and Folly, who had enough sense to put themselves at a fair distance from the fighting Pokémon, weren’t sure of what just happened.

Michael tried to think of possible solutions to the mystery. But as hard as he tried, he just couldn’t make sense of the situation. He didn’t know much about Munchlax, but he knew that their evolution, Snorlax, mainly specialized in physical attacks. If the same was true for Munchlax, then it would’ve normally attacked Pogo and Hunter directly. Even if the attack was a Special-type technique, it should’ve been visible.

Maybe it made some kind of a shock wave? Michael though that at first, but he quickly shook that idea. Even though both Pogo and Hunter were hit simultaneously, but if the attack was a true wave, then everyone else should’ve been affected. The attack was capable of damaging two Pokémon at once, but it was… controlled somehow.

It all sounded too familiar. Michael could recall seeing a similar technique before. But he didn’t want to believe that one and the one that the Munchlax used were the same. Even though he denied it over and over in his head, he still couldn’t help but utter the moves’ name in a low, grave whisper, “Shadow Wave…”

“‘Shadow Wave?’” Miror B. repeated, even though Michael had tried his best to keep quiet. Miror B. stood in silence for a while, mulling over Michaels’ words.

Then, a sudden realization swept over Miror B. His face turned into a ghostly pale, and eyes illustrated a feeling of absolute panic. “Shit!” He frantically searched for the Munchlaxs’ Poké Ball and quickly and anxiously returned it. He began to back up, about ready to take off at any moment. “I know what’s going on! If you think I’m going to stick around just so you can take my new Pokémon away, you’re sorely mistaken! Shadow Pokémon or not, I’m about to let you ruin the future of Team Miror for the umpteenth time! I…”

Miror B. halted his rant abruptly, seemingly to stare at something. Michael couldn’t figure out what he was so fascinated at until he realized that Miror B. was looking straight at his arm, “You don’t have your Snag Machine on…”

Michael hasn’t worn his Snag Machine in over a year. That was because he didn’t need to wear it anymore. He once managed to obtain a complete list of Shadow Pokémon with eighty-three of them in total. Once he snagged the last one, he stopped wearing the Snag Machine since no longer served any use.

He never thought that he would need it again. He counted exactly eighty-three Pokémon on that list. No more, no less. How another one could possibly exist he just couldn’t figure out.

As much he wanted to deny that he missed a Shadow Pokémon, all evidence was pointing to that possibility. The emotionless attitude and the invisible attacks were just too similar to the characteristics of the Shadow Pokémon.

The only explanation that Michael could think of was that the Munchlax was accidentally left out of the list. It was the only thing that made since, since Michael knew that no one would even dare to create another Shadow Pokémon after what he did to Cipher. Nevertheless, Michael wanted to find out just for sure, “Where’d you get that Pokémon?!”

“What?! That’s none of your business! I’m not going to tell you!” Miror B. yelled back, insulted.

Michael groaned, frustrated and impatient with his enemy. If the Munchlax was truly a Shadow Pokémon, then he couldn’t be wasting time by asking questions to somebody that would never give him an answer. Even if he didn’t have his Snag Machine with him anymore, he couldn’t let Miror B. keep that Munchlax. “Listen. You’re either going to give me that Pokémon willingly or…” Michael pointed to his two Pokémon, who were ready to burst into action. “They take it from you by force.”

Didi took Michaels’ threat seriously and began to head towards Pogo and Hunter with her claws out, heedless of her trainers’ orders. But Miror B. stopped her again, although with a calmer tone of voice, “Now wait a minute Didi.”

Miror B. didn’t seem the least bit threatened by Michael, which made him feel rather uneasy. He smiled deviously and said, “Now how about this, boy? I keep the Pokémon and you leave me alone about it!”

“What?! Stop joking around!” Michael snarled at Miror B.s’ insults at his intelligence.

“Ohoho! I’m not joking!” Miror B. laughed mischievously, waving his finger back and forth, “You see, I don’t think you want me doing what I will do if you take it from me!”

Michael sweated a little at Miror B.s’ words. There wasn’t much he could do as far as physical forced was concerned. But Michael was still worried about what Miror B. had up his sleeve. He was a tricky and scheming man, and Michael was scared of what he could do to him.

Jovi and Trudly were also interested in what Miror B. had planned. Jovi however, was more anxious and scared over what was going to happen; she quivered in place as she hid behind the scooter. Trudly cocked his eyebrow as he reclined on a tree, almost skeptical of his boss’ threats. Folly however, didn’t seem to be interested in whatever was about to unfold, as he kept his head down.

“Hmm? Still don’t get it?” Miror B. asked mockingly. He smiled and laughed as he began to pace back and forth, tossing the Munchlaxs’ Poké Ball in the air. “Well then! Let me tell you something very interesting I heard yesterday!”

Miror B. stopped moving to look Michael square in the face, “Remember a year ago when you beat Ciphers’ Grand Master? If I recall correctly, you told everyone in Orre that you trounced him! Destroyed him! Beat him into the ground!” Miror B. smirked, with a hint of vindictiveness. “But I heard that wasn’t the case at all!”

Michaels’ throat grew dry and his breath grew ragged. No… How… How could he know?!

“You see, what I heard was that the battle was far from the landslide you described it to be! You barely won! The only reason you came out on the victorious side was all because of dumb luck!” Miror B. laughed loudly, as if he was trying to announce to the whole forest of his knowledge, “You truly are a piece of work! You could’ve told everyone that you simply won, and everyone would be content with that. But instead, you decide to stretch the truth just to stroke your oversized ego! You really are quite proud, are you, you little arrogant brat!”

Michaels’ face was drenched with his own sweat and his heart was pounding loud enough that he could hear it over his shaking breaths. “D…Damn it… Shut up…”

He nervously turned his head towards Jovi, who was looking at her big brother with confused and shocked eyes. She stared at him, like she didn’t want to believe what she just heard. “Big brother…? He’s… lying… right big brother?”

Michael kept silent. He turned his head away from Jovi. He just couldn’t look her in the eyes and tell her that Miror B. was wrong. After hearing her ask him that the way she did, he felt too dirty and ashamed to say anything.

But he still saw out of the corner of his eye Jovi looking at him, disappointed and struggling to keep her eyes dry.

Miror B. seemed to relish the friction forming between Michael and his sister. He chuckled and said, “I can see your sister isn’t quite happy about that. So honestly, why should anyone have to hear that and suffer the same way?”

Michael lifted up his head up slightly, to hear what Miror B. had to say now. Part of him didn’t want to listen to him anymore, but the other was still open to whatever Miror B. had to offer.

“So how about this? I keep the Shadow Pokémon and I’ll keep quiet about your dirty little secret. If you want it, then I’ll be more than happy to hand it over. But I’ll run off and tell everyone I see about what I just told you. And even if you have the balls to attack me right here and now, I can still run away a hell of a lot faster than you, so it would be a waste of time to even try.”

Michael’s eyes widened at Miror B.s’ proposal. While it didn’t surprise him that he would pull something so dirty, Michael was still shocked that he would offer him such a mean, nasty deal.

He stood silently, trying to soak in the situation. He needed the Shadow Pokémon. He didn’t care how the Shadow Munchlax came to be anymore. It needed to be purified and that was that. Ever since he first donned the Snag Machine a year ago, he felt he was obligated to obtain and purify any Shadow Pokémon that he came across.

But if Miror B. revealed to everyone that he lied, what would everyone think of him? Being so close to losing was an embarrassment in the first place, but he felt that no one would ever let him live down lying about it if they found out? He could almost see Lily and Prof. Krane hearing the information, then looking at Michael with disappointed look in their faces that they expected better of him and that he should be ashamed.

He couldn’t stand going through that. He buried his head in his hands at the thought of everyone he befriended and loved throwing all that into the back of their mind and labeling him as a dirty liar.

Jovi saw Michael struggling with such a decision and yelled to him, trying to convince him to give up his pride, all while fighting back tears, “It’s okay! Jovi still thinks big brother is the best trainer she knows! Jovi won’t be mad! Mommy and the Professor won’t be mad either!”

Michaels’ knees felt like they were about to collapse under such pressure. Either way, he would suffer the consequences. If he accepted the Munchlax, everyone would see him as a proud, arrogant liar. But if he played into Miror B.s’ hand and let him get away, he would have to live with the fact that he let a Shadow Pokémon get away.

He looked at his two Pokémon who were also facing him, doing so much as to turn their attention away from Didi just to try to convince him to not be proud. They stared at him, waiting for him to give an answer, the answer they seemed to be hoping for; they both appeared to know that purifying a Shadow Pokémon had priority over other peoples’ conception of Michael.

But still, Michael fought with himself over and over, and he just couldn’t bear to live with such a stigma for the rest of his life. It was just one Shadow Pokémon. It never had to happen; he never had to tell anyone he knew of it. He could even tell everyone that he was never offered such a chance to obtain the Munchlax and that there were no means of taking it from Miror B. The failure to obtain a Shadow Pokémon was a lot less jarring and tarnishing than the revelation that he couldn’t bear to be seen as anything less than an outstanding trainer.

Michael began to step back. He unlatched Pogo and Hunters' Poké Balls and returned them. He clamped his eyes shut and dropped his head.

Jovi saw him resign himself. She stared at Michael with her mouth open, disbelieving and shocked. Even with Michaels’ heartbeat banging in his ears, he heard her whisper, “Big brother…”

Trudly shook his head in disbelief at Michaels’ decision with a humorless laugh. Even Folly was shocked enough that his head lifted up slightly at the situation.

Miror B. was the only one smiling. He grinned triumphantly, and appeared proud of all things. After years of losing to Michael, it seemed like he finally won.

But within a split second, that win was hanging on a thread.

The sound of a quick fluttering of wings approached the area. Before anyone could get the chance to see what it was, it lowered itself low enough to grab the Munchlaxs’ Poké Ball right out of Miror B.s’ hand and take off with it.

Miror B. didn’t seem to notice the thief at first, but it didn’t take long for him to notice his Poké Ball was gone. He closed and opened his fist a few times before truly realizing that the ball was no longer there. He swiftly swiveled his head to face his empty hand and screamed, “Aaaaah! Where’d it go?!”

All heads in the vicinity turned their heads to the tree that the thief landed in. The Ninjask with a single black wing perched herself on a branch with the Poké Ball firmly in her claws.

For that moment, Michaels’ previous thoughts were discarded in exchange for Rias’ appearance, “Dammit! That idiot… Does he really have the nerve to come back here?!”

Miror B. immediately reacted with an explosive anger. He quickly rushed to the trunk of the tree and yelled up to Ria, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?! Give that back!”

He did so even though Ria scowled right back at him and began to vibrate her wings and buzz like she usually did when she was annoyed. But for Miror B., accepting a loss so easily was unthinkable. Miror B. even did as much as kick the tree, even though it did no good.

He snarled at the Ninjask and turned to Didi, all of his cheerfulness entirely gone. “Didi! Take care of it!”

Didi nodded, itching for action. She reached into the husk at the top of her cap, pulled a bunch of seeds out and spat them at Ria like a machine gun.

The individual seeds looked like blurs to Michael. But despite that, the Ninjask reacted instantaneously and slashed her claws at the seeds at such a fast speed that they also appeared as blurs. When she paused, all the seeds dropped to ground in halves, not a single one making contact.

Didi almost tripped over backwards at the sight of such speed. She had dominated most of the incomplete battle with her quick reaction-time. Seeing a Pokémon who was even better at that caused her to stare upon the unfazed Ninjask in utter disbelief.

Even Miror B. was shocked at Rias’ speed. Throughout the many times Michael battled Miror B., he quickly found out that Didi was his fastest Ludicolo. As if Miror B. realized that Didi couldn’t match Rias’ speed, especially after taking hits from Pogo and Hunter, he returned Didi to her Poké Ball.

But before Miror B. could get the chance to draw another ball out, the Ninjask turned her head down the path. She took off gingerly, high enough so that no one could touch her. She only lowered her elevation when she approached the red-haired man that had been standing there without anyone noticing.

Eldes took the Poké Ball from Ria before she perched on his shoulder. He then turned his head towards Miror B. and began to walk towards him like he wasn’t a threat at all. Even as tall as Eldes was, he still had to look up at Miror B.. But he did so without showing an ounce of emotion. “Was that your Shadow Pokémon?”

Miror B. raised his eyebrows at the sudden appearance of the strange man, and didn’t seem to take him any more seriously as Eldes did of him. “What?! Who the hell are you?!”

Eldes didn’t answer his question. Instead, he said to him flatly, “Please come with me.”

“Who do you think you are?! Give me back my Pokémon and buzz off!” Miror B. didn’t feel like playing with Eldes, and made no effort to conceal such feelings.

But if Eldes was trying to conceal his feelings, he was doing a great job of it. He simply stared at Miror B. with the same static and dull look on his face, completely unaffected.

Perhaps he had a reason to not be threatened by Miror B.. Its’ green color effectively hiding it, Eldes’ Flygon walked out the woods calmly, and with the same unthreatened sentiment of his trainer, approached Miror B. and gently, but tightly, grabbed him by the neck collar. Dasn lifted Miror B. up in the air, not giving Miror B. the choice of complying with Eldes’ command.

Miror B. kicked and punched at the Flygon desperately the moment his feet left the ground. Even though Michael heard that his kicks were rather strong, they still couldn’t even make the Flygon flinch. Nevertheless, he still pounded at Dasns’ tough hide, “Damn it, you son of a b*tch! Put me down!”

Dasn turned towards Miror B.s’ henchmen, apparently knowing that they were working for the one who announced just minutes prior that he had a Shadow Pokémon. They watched the actions of Eldes’ two Pokémon with their mouths agape, like they had thought their boss’ win was sealed.

Neither of them wanted to give themselves in, however; Trudly shouted a, “Run!” to Folly as they frantically stood up and began to take off. But even though Dasn was a big Pokémon, he was by no means slow. It only took a few steps for him to close the gap between him and the fleeing men, and grabbed the neck collars of Folly in his other hand and Trudlys’ in his mouth, making an effort not to harm them like he did with their boss.

With the three outlaws secure, albeit kicking and screaming, Eldes began to walk up to Michael. But Michael took the initiative to approach him himself by stomping up to the man in a hostile manner. “What do you think you’re doing here?! I thought I told you to stay out of my sight!”

Even though Michael bared his teeth and furrowed his eyebrows to intimidate Eldes, he looked back at him with his usual half-closed eyes and generally uncaring attitude. “I’m just going to turn these three in.”

“I don’t care what the hell you’re doing with those idiots! I told you that if you ever turn up here again, I’ll kick your a**! I got five Pokémon that are more than capable of fighting right now against your two! Who do you think is gonna win?!” Michael snapped back at him.

Eldes held one of his hands up defensively. “Please, I have no intention of fighting anyone.”

Initially, Michael was ready to ignore Eldes’ plea. But after the battle with Miror B. and what happened afterwards, he began to rethink his plan. Michael wasn’t really sure anymore if he or his team were really in fighting shape as he just claimed they were after everything that happened.

Still, he didn’t tone down the intensity of his hostility to Eldes. He shot out his hand and snarled, “Give me the Poké Ball! I’m not going to let you waltz away with a Shadow Pokémon!”

Eldes didn’t do anything but look at Michaels’ outstretched hand for a while. When that moment passed, he stretched his own hand out and lightly placed the Munchlaxs’ ball in Michaels’. “I’m sorry.”

Michael snorted and snatched away the Poké Ball. “Yeah, you should be.”

Michael began to turn around with the Munchlax secure, but he still kept a close eye on Eldes. He knew that he couldn’t be trusted in the least bit. He may have been acting calm, gentle, and submissive now, but Michael was sure that if he let down his guard for even the slightest moment, Eldes wouldn’t hesitate to launch his attack.

The man didn’t make a move even as Michael started to turn away, but Michael did hear Eldes speak to him quietly, “Your sister's right. I don’t think anyone would’ve been mad at you.”

Michael snapped back around. He instantly knew what Eldes was talking about; he wouldn’t have been surprised if he had watched the whole battle beginning to end. Although his comment was shrouded in the disguise of a piece of advice, Michael took it as an insult. “Shut up!”

Now that Eldes was there and he wasn’t defenseless anymore, Michael began to think of what to do with him. He ground his sneaker across the ground trying to figure out something. He could send out all of his Pokémon at once at him and get him out of the picture. But even though Eldes was severely outnumbered, he was unsure if that would be a wise course of action. There was no way that Michael could let Eldes go free, that was for sure. “Look. I can’t in good conscience let you walk away! I’m not taking my eyes off of you! You can tell me that story about being given a second chance by your prison all you want and I’m still not going to believe any of it! I’m taking you back to the Lab so the police can throw you back where you belong!”

For the second time that day, a look of shock suddenly appeared on Eldes’ face. He bent his head back a little at Michaels’ announcement and gave a small exclamation in the form of a quick gasp. This time however, Michael could find a trace of fear in his face. “The… Pokémon HQ Lab?” His voice shook very slightly, but it was still obvious when compared to his normal, monotonous speaking pattern.

“Yeah. That’s right. And if you try anything funny, you can bet my Pokémon will be all over your *** in a second.” Michael spat at him as he turned around completely. “Problem?”

Eldes was unresponsive at first, but he eventually answered Michael without the emotions of shock or fear and in an even smaller voice than before, “No. There isn’t.”

Michael walked back to the scooter with Eldes in tow, swiveling his head back distrustfully every now and then to make sure Eldes didn’t try to pull anything. As he came close to the scooter, he looked Jovi, who had her back turned to him and her arms crossed. Michael tried to get her attention, but the most that she did was turn her head enough for Michael to see the angry and betrayed look on her face before turning back around.

He was reminded of the reason Jovi was suddenly so upset. His stomach nearly flopped upside down; just thinking about it made him feel a little sick inside. No matter what he would’ve done, Michael wouldn’t leave unscathed. He thought that letting Miror B. keep that one Shadow Pokémon and never speaking of it again would avoid such a letdown among his friends and family. But in Jovis’ case, that plan turned out to be a total failure.

He was forced to push those thoughts away for the moment. He needed to get home now for more reasons than before. He drove slowly enough to keep Eldes and Dasn carrying the three men that had by that point given up close and to react if any of them tried to escape. Michael wasn’t going to let any of them get away for their crimes. And as long as he had the power to do so, he wouldn’t let them have that chance.

* * *

Lily sat on the front steps of the Lab, staring anxiously into the forest path. She sighed and looked up to the orange sky; the sun was setting now and it was getting late. Michael had been gone for far too long and she couldn’t stop thinking of the worst possible scenarios.

She stood up and tried to calm herself down. Lily had the faith and trust in Michael that he wouldn’t waste time and be gone longer than what was necessary. Still, she began to worry if something had happened to Michael, if he needed help, and what she could do.

Just as she began to panic like she did earlier in the day, Lily saw movement in the path. Without wasting a moment, she ran closer to get a better look. Erasing all of her fears and worries, she saw Michael on his scooter with Jovi riding on the back. The moment the scooter stopped, Jovi jumped off and ran as fast as she could towards Lily, crying, “Mommy!” Lily bent down quickly to embrace her daughter, relieved beyond comprehension that she was perfectly safe. Jovi hugged her just as tightly and didn’t let up for the longest time.

Lily lifted her head up to thank Michael for bringing her back. But before she had the chance, she noticed two other figures behind Michael. One was a large Dragon-type Pokémon holding an odd man in clothes from the disco era and an enormous afro and two grisly-looking men in their late teens. The other was a straight-faced, red-haired man in an elaborate robe that stretched beyond his knees.

Lily started to stand up a little at the sight of the unfamiliar figures and looked at them warily. Michael seemed to be fully aware of their presence, as he gave a sheepish smile as Lily looked in their direction.

“H… Hi Mom. I… uh, brought company…”

In the immortal words of Kel, "Aww... Here it goes!"

Anyone that feels like Michael needs a good smack in the face is free to do so. Well, as much as you could to a fictional character, that is.

So yeah. If you haven't figured it out, the Shadow Munchlax is the Pokemon that Miror B. found in the Poke Ball when he left Citadark Isle. Originally, I had planned the first Shadow Pokemon to appear in the present story to be a Clefairy. But after thinking it over a lot, I decided to change my mind. Why, I'm not telling you.

As far as when Chapter Ten will be up, just keep in mind that I'm going to college next week. So I probably won't have a lot of time to write it. When I do, I'll try to get as much done as possible.

The Great Butler
20th August 2009, 5:02 AM
Good content, but a little off grammar wise. Methinks you should have checked it over a few more times first.

Great chapter though! I have to admit I was a little rusty since it's been so long, but I caught up quickly. Anything with Miror B. is win, and the way you wrote his henchmen was too.

I think stuff is about to happen with Eldes now...

22nd August 2009, 1:25 AM

Good content, but a little off grammar wise. Methinks you should have checked it over a few more times first.

Ah, yeah. Not that I'm trying to make any excuses, but this was the first chapter in a while that Umbreevee/LoffyGlu didn't beta it for me. I thought I was well enough to go on my own, but eh. :/

Although I did catch some errors (Especially with formatting.) right after I posted it. I tried to fix them, but for some reason, I kept getting an error message and that made me go, "FFFFFFF".

I think stuff is about to happen with Eldes now...

"Stuff" would be understating it a little.

Oh yes. Before I forget... See that nice, shiny looking banner in my sig? Umbreevee/LoffyGlu made it for me. You should all thank her by licking the floor clean as she walks by.

10th October 2009, 12:04 AM
I love Colosseum fics, and yours is quite good. I always liked Eldes. ^^ Great work!

25th April 2010, 1:24 AM
...I could apologize for being late to this again, but I'm afraid you guys are kind of sick of it by now... Regardless, I'm really, really sorry. I'm not going into reasons why I haven't updated; we'd be here all day if I did that.

So yeah. This chapter contains a bit of swearing and... Nightmare Fuel, so to say. So just try not to read this before going to bed. I might overestimating it, though. But I still thought I would warn you anyways.

And I realize the font is weird. My word processor currently hates me.

Chapter Ten: Doors Closed Shut

He stared at the ceiling as he lied on his back. He shouldn’t have been doing this. There was work to be done, and lying there wouldn’t finish any of it. He knew what he had been told. He needed to take it easy and get plenty of rest. But the thought of all that work just waiting for him outside his bedroom door wouldn’t leave him alone. It had been nagging at his mind all day. And now that the sun had set, he felt guilty not doing anything, even if he had a legitimate excuse.

His first attempt to sit up just forced him back down on the sheets again. It didn’t take much for the pain in his broken rib to be agitated. He tried again, but this time he went slowly and gingerly, doing his best to avoid as much pain as possible.

He managed to sit up on the second try, but it was inevitable that he would feel a least some stinging. He cringed as he moved his legs carefully to the side of his bed. If he could barely sit without causing pain to shoot from his chest, he wasn’t sure if he could go as far to stand up and walk.

“That son of b***h… This is all that idiots’ fault…” Terran groaned as he clamped his eyes shut as his broken rib constantly reminded him of what happened the previous day. It had gone so smoothly until Miror B. decided to be picky and greedy.

Terran took a few breaths to calm and relax himself before he tried standing up. It took him a long time before he could prepare himself physically to even make an attempt at getting on his feet. He planted his hands on the side of the bed and used them to help him balance. As he lifted himself off of the bed, he cringed and ground his teeth when the pressure was put on his chest.

His legs wobbled when he was finally able to get himself standing. Terrans’ arms quickly went from the side of the bed to the wall to keep himself from falling over. He took one off carefully to grab his leather jacket hanging on the bed post. He slipped his arms into the sleeves, held the sides of the coat and then tugged on them to straighten it out.

He stared at the door on the other side of the wall for a while, preparing himself again. Once he felt that he could make it without instigating too much pain, Terran slowly lifted his hand away from the wall and took small steps towards the door.

With every step he took, his attempts to numb himself withered away. He took deep breathes to try to calm the feeling, but that ended up only intensifying the pain. Terran grit his teeth and moaned, his steps growing bigger and quicker.

Once he was in arms reach of the doorknob, he shot his arm out and seized it. He pulled himself closer and then stood still before opening the door. His idea to lessen the pain didn’t quite work out like he planned. He had to take another moment to calm himself down before moving forward.

Terran turned the doorknob and slowly pushed open the door to his office. Once he had opened up enough room between the door and wall, he staggered out of his room and began to head for his desk.

The last time he was at his desk, he had a whole messy pile of papers waiting to be filled out with statistics. But when he was close enough to his desk to see, all of them were missing. Panic suddenly shot through Terran. As quickly as his body would let him, he hurried to the desk and frantically searched for them. He threw open every drawer until he found a stack of papers neatly placed in one of them.

Once he managed to calm himself down, he took a closer look at the papers. Picking up one that he knew that he hadn’t filled out yet, he saw that it had been completed. Puzzled, he set that one aside and began pulling the others out of the drawer. They were all done.

Terran began to ask himself how that was possible, until he noticed the handwriting. It had a rather neat style and was very familiar to Terran. When he realized whom the writing belonged to, he set the papers down and gave a weak sigh.

Not too long after he did so, Terran saw the door to his office crack open. The person opening it made sure to do it quietly as he sneaked in. He slowly opened the door enough to squeeze himself through and began to turn around to shut it.

But as he was doing so, he caught a glimpse of Terran watching him and suddenly jumped backwards. The Cipher Peon’s breathing shook from shock, apparently not expecting his boss to actually be in his office. “S…Sir! You should be in bed! You have to take it easy!”

Terran didn’t reply to the peons’ worry and was much more concerned that someone would hear him, as he was being so loud. “Good Mew, will you shut the damn door?!”

The peon fumbled for the knob quickly and shut the door before immediately focusing his worry back on Terran. “You need to relax for these next few days, sir. Your wounds aren’t going to heal otherwise. Don’t worry about paperwork, sir. I can handle it. Just please take it easy.”

“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me so much.” Terran said sharply, but he tried to hold back enough bite from making its way into his comment to calm the peon down. He could tell he was starting to panic over his well-being, and panic was the last thing Terran needed.

Terran flipped through the papers in his hand again and said more calmly, “I figured it was you who did this,” He stopped looking through them and set them back on the desk. He looked back at the peon sternly, bitterness from the day before swelling up again. “So tell me. Is this your way of apologizing?”

The peon flinched the moment Terran had said that. Terran could only see the bottom half of his face with the helmet on, but he could see it was flushed with guilt and embarrassment. The peon fidgeted anxiously in place, as if he was struggling to find something to say in his defense. “I…I’m sorry, sir… I… I made a mistake. I just… overindulged a little.”

“‘A little?’” Terran spat back. Even though he couldn’t see them through the peons’ visors, Terran knew where his eyes were and focused his scowl on them. “God dammit Roy! I’ve told you this time and time again! Moderate yourself! You know how little it takes for you to get completely wasted! And if you hadn’t yesterday you might have been able to stop that b*****d!”

Roy was visibly taken aback by the harshness of Terrans’ lecture and hung his head shamefully. The embarrassment in his face was still glaringly obvious, and made Terran stop himself from saying anything further for a moment. Both of them were quiet for a while until Terran spoke up again, but in a much calmer tone, “I honestly don’t care if you drink on your own time. But you know your limits, so stop trying to push them!”

Roy was still cringing at Terrans’ words and didn’t move his head up when he said at a barely audible volume, “I’m sorry, sir…”

Terran gave a sigh, willing to drop the matter. But being reminded of the previous day had brought back his anger towards Miror B.. He clenched one of his fists while digging at his desk with his nails. “I almost had him… If that b*****d hadn’t decided that he was too freaking special for just one Shadow Pokémon, I wouldn’t be in this position!”

Terran saw Roy lift his head back up at his venting, and looked like he was about to calm him down again. “Well, yes… But I know that you sent Commander Delta off to look for some Pokémon. Maybe that will turn out differently!”

“Hmph. I wouldn’t speak too soon. I haven’t heard a damn thing from him since I sent him off.” Terran grumbled, not expecting the outlook to be anything but pessimistic. Terran sent his second-in-command to a nearby island in hopes of seeing stronger Pokémon. The island had no human population, so he figured that the Pokémon there might have grown to be stronger than ones that lived around towns. Terran knew that the more secluded an area was from people, the more likely the Pokémon are to be powerful. But he was well aware of the chances that the Pokémon might be just as weak as the species that lived around his present location. Then again, Terran also knew that in his position, strength wasn’t the main concern.

But Roy insisted on being optimistic and still tried to cheer Terran up. He moved a little closer as he gave a small laugh, “Well, you also have to figure, sir, that it hasn’t even been a day yet. He’ll probably have something to report after the three days you gave him is up. I guess these things just take a little bit of time.”

Despite his efforts, Terran was not in the mood to receive Roy’s optimism well. The pent up stress finally exploding, Terran snapped back at him, “I don’t have time! What the hell do you want me to do?! Wait until Ardos sends someone to point a gun at my head?!”

Once again, Roy’s face lost a little bit of color at Terrans’ shouts. But while the last time he appeared to expect a degree of harshness in Terrans’ tone, this time he seemed to be utterly shocked that Terran would snap the way he did. Roy backed up even further than his original position, as if he feared what would happen if he didn’t keep his distance.

Seeing how stunned and almost frightened Roy was at him, Terran began to let go of his anger a little. If anyone else reacted in a similar manner, it would’ve only fueled the flames and make Terran even madder. But watching Roys’ reaction, it made him feel a bit guilty.

Terran lowered his head onto his hand, making sure that his hand blocked his sight as he couldn’t even bring himself to make eye contact with Roy after his outburst. He began to talk again, but made sure that his voice was much softer, “Listen. I know you mean well and that I should take it easy and relax. But under these circumstances, relaxing just isn’t an option.”

“Do… you want to be alone for a while, sir?” was Roys’ only response, spoken in a quiet voice.

“Yeah…” Terran replied, still not looking at him directly.

Immediately heeding his orders, Roy began to leave the room. But before Roy got the chance to open the door, Terran suddenly grumbled quietly, but still loud enough for Roy to pick it up, “Thanks anyways, though.”

To Terran’s surprise, Roy reacted to his comment. Almost expecting Roy to ignore him bitterly and leave, he instead turned around and bowed his head slightly.

Once Roy had left the room, Terran leaned back in chair and groaned while staring at the ceiling. “Dammit… He’s right. I’ve got to calm myself the hell down.”

He tried to think positively like Roy had been trying to make him do for the past few minutes, but every attempt to do so ended up being defeated. With so much sitting on his shoulders at the moment, Terran just couldn’t ease the stress. There were just too many things that Ardos could, and would, come down on him for. Just thinking about it made Terran even more uneasy.

However, Terran still tried to take what Roy said to heart. He looked at the filled-out paperwork again, realizing that the work he was worrying about so much wasn’t on his shoulders anymore. He still didn’t feel right going back to bed when he felt so distressed about work. But he knew that he couldn’t make the stress go away if his physical and mental health failed anyways.

He stayed in his seat for a moment before reluctantly standing up. Terran headed back to his room, but he stopped halfway, still unsure if it was the right thing to be doing. He shook it off quickly, though. Even if it was for a short amount of time, he needed to relax, calm himself, and release some of the stress that had been building in him for such a long time.

* * *

Roy was neither a newcomer nor unfamiliar with his current job. Back when Cipher was at full force a year prior, he worked for an Admin named Gorigan. There, all he did was manage and monitor the machinery that mass-produced Shadow Pokémon. While he did have a hand in making the Shadow Pokémon, the machines did the process themselves. He never really got directly involved, unlike some of the senior peons that were around when Ciphers’ technology was less advanced.

But those machines were quite expensive to make, and the only reason they had them was because Cipher was so rich at the time. Now that the machinery was destroyed and the funding gone, they had no choice but to revert back to old technology and create Shadow Pokémon by hand. When the Shadow Pokémon was made at the Cipher Key Lair, the technology was so advanced that the Shadowfication could be done while the Pokémon were still in their Poké Balls. But without that technology, Roy and the other peons could no longer play such an indirect role anymore.

The very first time Roy had to do the Shadowfication process the old way, he couldn’t sleep for days. The screaming, the struggling, the complete madness; those images replayed itself over and over in his head. Those thoughts would refuse to leave him alone. It was as if some part of his conscience was trying to suffocate him, torture him with those images, all while whispering in his ear, “You had a part in this.”

But after a while, those thoughts began to disappear. Those nagging thoughts of guilt could only last so long after doing the procedure several times. It had almost been a year since the first time he did it and also since the last time he was left staring at the ceiling with wide eyes and an agape mouth, unable to fall asleep.

He walked into the lab where the process was to be done. It was a rather simple place. It had a large table in the middle of the room, big enough to hold most Pokémon as long as long as they weren’t too big. The shelves were packed with the chemicals that they needed; it wasn’t unusual for there to be bottles sitting on the sideboards because there was no room up above. There was a door in the back of the room leading to where the Pokémon were stored. The floors used to be shiny and smooth when the place was first built, but it had been marred over time with scratches and claw marks. The room was usually dimly lit, barely giving off enough light so that he could see what he was doing, although it did set up a rather appropriate atmosphere.

When he walked in, he found another peon still in the room. Over time, Roy had gotten good at recognizing people just by their lower facial features, as no one ever took off their helmets at work. He could tell solely by looking at his pointed chin, lack of facial hair, and the perpetually sullen expression who he was. “Oh, Tom. Just the person I was looking for.”

Tom only slightly lifted his head up, not even bothering to make eye contact. “Why? Are you my relief?” He said flatly.


Taking a deep breath, Tom began to walk rather carefully –though not to the extent Terran had to- to where Roy thought was out of the room. Instead, he stopped right in front of Roy, close enough for him to see through his visors and into his unimpressed eyes. “So, Roy. Where were you last night?”

Roy stepped back a little to try to widen the distance between him and Tom. He still looked him in the eyes, but he knew well enough to keep his composure. Toms’ constantly cynical and critical attitude had earned him a reputation where Roy worked. He tried to avoid him as much as possible for that reason, but there wasn’t much he could do now in the position he was in. All Roy could do was try to be polite as usual and not to instigate him any further. “I’m sorry. Terran already talked to me about this.”

Tom simply gave a short laugh. Barely trying to hide his ire, he sharply said to Roy, “Yeah. I noticed that your wrist looked a little red coming in.”

The biting comment dug at Roys’ patience with Tom, but he did his best to hide every ounce of annoyance with his co-worker boiling inside him. He knew better than to come back with his own retort. Roy realized that with people like Tom, saying anything further will just drag things on. Roy wasn’t interested in fighting with anyone, so he just kept his calm.

Tom looked like he wanted to say something further, but surprisingly bit his tongue over the matter. Instead, he changed the subject, but still kept his sharp tone, “The others are getting the next Pokémon. Have fun.” Tom then left the room, not even making an effort to avoid bumping into Roys’ shoulder on the way out.

The shove didn’t hurt since his uniforms’ armor shielded him, but it irritated Roy enough to give a very slight scowl at Tom before he closed the door. However, Roy didn’t have long for his emotions towards the man to boil any further. No sooner had Tom left the room, did a female peon barge through the storage room door.

The peon was panting slightly, as if she had just been doing physical work. The moment she saw Roy, she quickly caught her breath and said, “Hey! We need help! This one’s being stubborn!”

Roy quickly rushed into the storage room, forgetting about the comments made just moments ago for the time being. He went inside the room to find a male peon yanking on a leash, trying to drag the struggling Pokémon into the lab.

The green, lizard-like Pokémon with a red zigzag pattern on its stomach was rather small, but it was still evidently strong enough to give both peons trouble. Even though its long arms ending with tiny claws were bound to its back, it still managed to stand its ground with short legs and small feet. Its tail, which was curled up in a spiral, was twitching constantly, as if it was showing how distressed it was. The Pokémons’ small black eyes, which were circled by a yellow pattern that started at its lips and curved its way to the ridges on the top of its head, were squeezed shut.

Roy and the female peon ran over to the male peon and grabbed the leash. All three of them pulled as hard as they could, but the Kecleon dragged itself backwards to prevent them from making progress. When their technique was proving to fail, Roy decided to turn it up a notch. He wasn’t physically strong, but he put as much strength as he had to get the Kecleon to move. The other two peons, following his lead, did the same and began to haul the Kecleon in the lab.

Eventually, the Kecleon seemed to give up and collapsed on the ground. The three peons let up on their pressure, as it became much easier to pull the Pokémon inside. But as if it suddenly brought out more resolve to not let Roy and the others win, the Kecleon suddenly scrambled onto its feet, lunged at the doorway, and clamped its mouth on the edge of the wall.

The Kecleon caught Roy and the other peons off guard; they thought that they had finally overpowered the lizard. Regaining their posture, they began to yank on the leash again, but the Kecleon held tightly onto the wall with its teeth to the point where Roy could start to see blood trickle out of its mouth. The male peon swore and ran over to the Kecleon, grabbed both the top and bottom of its mouth with his fingers, and tried to pry it off the wall.

The peon struggled for a while, as the Kecleon obstinately refused to budge. “God dammit! This thing isn’t going to let go!” He took a deep breath and tried again. Roy could see the sweat run down the peons face as he pulled harder and harder on the Kecleons’ mouth.

Eventually, Roy could see the Kecleons’ lips parting. Before he knew it, the peon and the Kecleon flew backwards, as the peon pulled it away from the wall before it could bite onto again. The peon pinned the Kecleon to the ground while it still squirmed and struggled to get away.

Both Roy and the female peon ran over to the male peon and all three picked the Kecleon up. They made sure they had such a tight hold on the Kecleon so that it had no chance to get away, realizing that giving it any kind of freedom to move was not going to make things easy.

They lifted the Kecleon onto the table, pinning it down again once it was on. Roy and the others still kept a hold of the lizard, but they finally got a chance to catch their breath. Roy hated it when the Pokémon were that stubborn. When they had resigned themselves and gave up, it made Roys’ job much easier. But when they acted like the Kecleon, the job normally free of the need for physical strength become incredibly taxing. It was just one more thing that made Roy thankful for the job that he had back at the Lair.

Still, he knew that he should not have been complaining much. The job paid a rather good amount of money and gave out good benefits to the workers. Even though he liked his job at the Lair much better, Roy was well aware that he needed to be thankful for even still having a job on Cipher. Most of the people that worked for Cipher were either arrested or fled a year ago. Considering that he could have very well been one of those people, Roy knew that he was in no position to whine.

Once Roy had rested for a few seconds, he took his hands off of the Kecleon and ran quickly to the shelves before the Pokémon tried to overpower his colleagues. He grabbed the necessary items, a bottle filled with a dark purple liquid and a syringe, and rushed back to the table. The liquid had already been measured out to the exact amount needed, so the only thing Roy needed to do was to put it into the syringe and keep the Kecleon still long enough for him to find a vein to inject it into.

The other two peons continued to hold down the Kecleons’ body while Roy held its left arm was scanning it. Once he had found a suitable spot, he poked the needle through the Pokémons’ skin, causing it to give out a shrill cry. As Roy injected the liquid into the Kecleons’ bloodstream, it convulsed and struggled even harder than before. The peons were fully expecting this, as every Pokémon they worked on had the same reaction.

The liquid caused a Pokémon to become a Shadow Pokémon by working its way to the brain and altering the way it thinks. The process took about three days to fully complete, which in the meantime it would cause the Pokémon to go insane and uncontrollable until it finally calmed down at the end.

Once the purple liquid was fully injected, he ran back to the shelves to grab some sedative. If the Kecleon was conscious through the entire three days, its violent actions would just snowball and become unmanageable. Therefore, it was important that Roy give the sedative to it before the chaos got its chance to start.

However, the sedative only lasted for slightly more than half a day, and Roy was reminded of that fact barely moments after he had finished administering it to the Kecleon. All of a sudden, an ungodly, high-pitched shriek erupted from the storage room. The screech was constant, it sounded like whatever was making it didn’t even stop to take a breath. The sound jumped Roy for a moment, but it didn’t frighten him much anymore. He was used to hearing that sort of sound, and it was more or less a notice that it was time for another part of the job than anything.

All three peons looked at each other, as if they were checking to see if anyone was willing to do it; someone other than themselves, of course. It was as if they were trying to send each other a telepathic message saying, “I’m not doing it. You do it.”

Nothing was said for a few moments. Eventually, as there were no offers and the other two peons began to stare at Roy, he finally got the message. He sighed, letting a very small bit of a groan slip its way through, “I’ll go calm it down.”

He opened up the storage room door only to be greeted with a shrill assault on his ears. The helmet encasing his ears did nothing to filter out the screams and made them ring regardless. Along with the shrieks, Roy could also the cage the source was in banging, making it easy to pinpoint its location.

Roy walked over to a wall of cages reaching to the ceiling. Most of them were small enough so they he could pick one up with his hand, but a few were large enough that a full-grown man could fit inside. Very rarely did Cipher ever get a Pokémon that was too big to be held in the room while still awaiting a new owner. However, for the Pokémon that had already been Shadowfied, the cages were not enough to contain them. In order to keep them under control, the Pokémon were kept inside their Poké Balls until the process had run its course. The cages were only there as a backup.

However, when the sedative wore off, the Pokémon could easily break out of its Poké Ball, regardless of how strong the Ball itself is. It would be useless to try to get them back in unless they were given another dose of sedative, which was exactly what Roy had to do at that moment.

He knelt down to the bottom row of cages to find the Pokémon that was causing the noise. It was a small, cute little Pokémon, one that Roy would expect most beginning trainers in another region to carry with them. The Pokémon had big brown eyes surrounded by a black marking that made it look like it was wearing a mask. Its body was covered in layers of bristly fur that alternated in a beige-brown pattern until it ended in a bushy tail. Aptly named, the Zigzagoon didn’t seem to have a straight line on its body; almost every feature was made up with zigzags.

The Zigzagoon that was before Roy was about halfway through the Shadowification process. Any Pokémon at this point was highly unstable and Roy needed to take care if it was to calm it down. It was still screeching despite its voice becoming rather hoarse at that point. The moment that Roy appeared, it was as if the screaming intensified. The Zigzagoon was wildly thrashing around its cage; it didn’t even seem to be aiming at anything in particular. When it took notice of Roy it began to be a bit more consistent in its rampage and started ramming itself and clawing at the bars. But the rabid, mad look its eyes were still there and its attacks were still mostly random and just as vicious.

Eventually, the Zigzagoon had stopped attacking its surroundings and turned its insanity on itself. Even though its claws on its feet were not large and could barely dent any decently-powered Pokémon, they were still strong enough that the Zigzagoon used them to slash at its body. It tumbled back and forth, knocking itself against the walls of the cage as it tried to tear itself apart. It began to sink its teeth into any part of its body that it could reach, ripping at flesh and causing fur to fly up in the air. Both its teeth and its claws were becoming soaked in its own blood, but it still continued to slash and bite itself with no signs of stopping.

The Zigzagoon obviously wasn’t going to stay still on its own long enough for Roy to inject it with sedative. Even as small and relatively weak as it was, it was too dangerous and wild for Roy to pick up with his own hands as well. He reached for his belt and unlatched a Poké Ball, realizing that he would need some help.

His Poké Ball split open and sent out a small Pokémon next to the cage. Most of its yellow body was encased in a round, red shell with openings large enough for the Pokémon to squeeze its extremities out of. The four holes on the side of the shell allowed its tentacle-like legs to stick out, while the one on top let the Shuckle fit its head and neck through.

It blinked with its beady black eyes a few times, not quite sure what was going on. However, it didn’t long for it to understand the situation when it took notice of the screeching Zigzagoon in front of it. Startled, the Shuckle began to tuck itself back into its shell, despite of the iron bars separating the two Pokémon.

“Come on. I need you to hold it down so I can inject it.” Roy, seeing his Shuckles’ timid reaction to the Zigzagoon, tried to prod it to do what he wanted.

The Shuckle tucked its head further into its shell, but reluctantly extended its tentacles towards the cage. Its eyes were barely visible as it peeked out of the hole, bracing itself when the Zigzagoon would come at it.

Roy unlatched the locks on the on the cage, then jumped out of the Zigzagoons’ line of sight the moment he flung the door open. Like he expected, the Zigzagoons’ rabid eyes locked onto Roys’ Shuckle and lunged at it. Once the frenzied Pokémon was within the Shuckles’ range, it wrapped its rubbery tentacles around its body, immobilizing it as much as possible. Even though it couldn’t move much, the Zigzagoon bit and slashed at the Shuckles’ tentacles. The Shuckle clamped its eyes shut as it endured the Zigzagoons’ attacks and tucked its head completely into its shell. It pulled the Zigzagoon closer to the shell, as if it was daring it to focus its attacks on that. It did just as the Shuckle expected, and starting raking at the shell instead of its fleshy legs. No matter how much the Zigzagoon raked at the Shuckle, nothing it did come even close to denting its impenetrable shell.

Once it felt a little more comfortable, the Shuckle moved the position of its tentacles to immobilize its legs. The Zigzagoon still tried –and failed- to sink its teeth into the harder-than-rock shell, but it could no longer use its claws.

With the Zigzagoon wrapped by his Shuckle and its focus taken off of him, Roy saw his chance. He found the spot where the Zigzagoons’ fur had been shaven off to allow the peons to find and vein and quickly injected the sedative before it took notice of him.

The Zigzagoon howled in pain at the shot and began to thrash around. Roy jumped back nervously; even though his Shuckle had a tight grip on it, he could picture the Zigzagoon breaking loose and coming after him. He may have had armor on, but he knew that the Zigzagoon was liable to go after any of the few exposed parts on his body, namely the lower half of his face. Roy had heard horror stories of such attacks happening to other peons in the past, and he didn’t want to take any risks.

“Okay…” Roy caught his breath once he felt he was safe, “Just keep it wrapped up until the sedative kicks in. Then put it back in its cage.”

The Shuckle kept its grip, following its trainers’ orders, but Roy could hear an uneasy moan echoing inside its shell.

“Come on. You’ve done it lots of times before. It’s nothing new. You can handle it.” Roy tried to instill some confidence into his Pokémon. But with the Shuckle still refusing to stretch its head back out, he wasn’t sure if it worked or not.

Before Roy left the room, he grabbed a Poké Ball for the Kecleon for when it went unconscious. He looked back at the cages; most of them were completely empty. The Zigzagoon was one of only a few that had been Shadowfied in recent times. Even the addition of the Kecleon wasn’t much of a significant gain.

Such a slow rate was the norm ever since Terran became an Admin and was placed in charge of the Shadowfication operations. Roy understood that the state of the process was enough to make anyone with that kind of position unconfident. But in the past few months, Roy had seen Terrans’ insecurity steadily increase as the production rate went down. With such a string of shortcomings, even Roy had begun to feel unsure of himself. As he witnessed Terran eat himself alive over stress, Roy began to wonder if there really was anything he could do to help.

Roy caught himself in that state of mind and tried to snap out of it. He knew that he couldn’t doubt himself, now of all times. Even if he felt that there wasn’t much he could do, he needed to at least try. He realized that the efforts of one peon alone were a drop in the bucket, but he still couldn’t use that as an excuse to resign himself when things were so dire. Roy didn’t care if his efforts were little and overall meaningless at that point, as long as it did something to relive his boss of the stress piling on his shoulders.

After a moment of boosting his confidence, Roy felt ready to continue on. He had heard that about six rock-types were currently awaiting Shadowfication, so he knew it was going to be a long day.

* * *

The moment he was out of the room, Roy went to the nearest wall and leaned himself on it. He took a few deep breaths; the hallway was much less stuffy than the small lab, especially after being cooped up in there for hours. He could feel the sweat building up inside of his helmet and was tempted to take it off. Roy stopped himself at the last second, as he reminded himself that he could get himself in trouble for taking off any part of his uniform at work.

He didn’t know what time it was, but he figured it was probably late by now. The few Pokémon that he worked on after the Kecleon were so time-consuming and tedious that he lost track of time. Out of all the species of Pokémon in the world, rock and steel-types were the ones he hated to Shadowfy the most. Luckily, no steel-types were involved this time, but the rock-types weren’t much better. It was so difficult to find a vein to inject the fluid into them when they were covered with shells, scales, or even skin that was made out of rock. And that was only if they had a bloodstream at all. In the case of the latter, special measures would have to be taken, and he was thankful that he didn’t have to.

Roy figured that by this hour, he had gone way past his shift. He usually didn’t mind doing overtime, but today he was exhausted. He wanted to make sure though, and began to peek back into the lab to check the clock.

He pushed himself away from the wall and dragged himself across the hall. When he got halfway across, he suddenly felt someone run into his side.

Roy nearly tumbled over, but he managed to keep his footing. The same could not be said for the one who rammed into him, however. The other peon was knocked onto the floor, with a folder of papers flying all around him. The peon shakily lifted his head, and began to apologize profusely, “I…I’m so sorry! I di…did…didn’t…”

“It’s alright. It was just an accident. Here.” Roy tried to calm the stuttering peon down as he bent down to gather the papers that were settling on the floor.

His words helped a little, but the peon was still visibly nervous. Roy looked at the peon a little more closely. The name avoided him for a moment, but he eventually found it. The peons’ name was Terry. Roy wasn’t well acquainted with him, but he did know who he was. The impression that Roy got was that Terry was more or less the shy type and didn’t actively mingle with other people. But his behavior at that moment baffled Roy a little. While he was certainly a rather meek person, Roy never saw Terry so nervous and twitchy before.

Roy gathered a pile of the papers and handed them back to Terry, who quickly accepted them. Terry got onto his feet and looked ready to run off again. He spouted out a quick, almost unintelligible, “Thank you!” and began to dash across the hall.

“Are… Are you alright?” Roy stopped him before he could get too far.

Terry nearly tripped over again when Roy spoke, but he managed to stay standing that time. He turned around and hastily stuttered, “I-I-I’m fine! I’m fine! Don’t worry a…about me!”

But something was still rubbing Roy the wrong way. Terry claimed that he was alright, but Roy couldn’t believe him when he was acting so jittery and when his face –or at least what Roy could see of it- looked so colorless. “Are you sure? You don’t look so good…”

Terry appeared to get ready to dash off again, but it seemed to Roy that he had second thoughts about doing so. He saw him bite his lip and quickly look around him before running back to Roy. “Can… I talk to you? I need to get something off my chest. It’s been eating me alive all day…”


25th April 2010, 1:46 AM
Roy figured as much. There was just no way that somebody with a sudden change of behavior like that had a clear conscience. He looked into Terrys’ face, which had the look of someone that knew that they made a mistake. But he also saw the look of someone that seriously needed someone to talk to. That didn’t take much to convince Roy to listen to him. He gave a weak smile and said, “Sure. It’s probably not as bad as you think. What’s the matter?”

Terry scanned the area again, and then pulled Roy further down the hall away from any rooms. He seemed to be incredibly insecure of his surroundings, as he checked them several more times before dropping into a whisper, “You’ve got to swear that you won’t tell anyone about this, especially Terran!”

Roy held back for a moment. He wasn’t sure if he could keep such a promise. Deliberately keeping something from Terran would not only make him feel guilty, but it could land him in trouble as well. But thinking about it again, Roy swallowed his pride and agreed to keep Terrys’ secret.

After Roy confirmed that no one else would know, Terry caught his breath and told his story, “Yesterday I went with Terran and Tom to Citadark Isle to meet that Miror B. guy. I drove the boat there to drop Terran off and to pick up Miror B. with Tom. When Miror B. met with Terran, he didn’t like his conditions or something like that. Miror B. attacked Terran and Tom and then tried to get away. Terran managed to catch up with him, though. Terran used his Venusaur, but it got wiped out by Miror B.s’ Ludicolo. You have no idea how strong they were! Even if Terran brought his other Pokémon with him, I don’t know if they would be able to hold up against them!”

Terry paused for a moment, as if he was reluctant to go any further. But then he seemed to gather up the courage to continue on, “After Miror B. beat Terran, he started to run towards me. I didn’t know what he was planning to do with me, but I saw how terrifying that man was. I couldn’t take any chances! I jumped off the boat and let Miror B. steal it!”

Roy gave a small laugh. He knew that Terry was probably overreacting to a relatively minor situation. “Well, it couldn’t be helped. After all, if he was as strong as you said he was, there probably wasn’t much you could do to stop him. Besides, if Terran was really that mad about it, he would’ve said something long before now. See? I said that it probably wasn’t as bad as y-”

“That’s not it!” Terry interrupted Roy sharply. Roy was taken aback by such an outburst, coming from somebody that’s normally so quiet.

Roy kept quiet from that point on, and allowed Terry to finish. But then all of a sudden, Terry switched from irritable to on the verge of tears. His face grew red as he struggled to hold his emotions in. “When I got back here, I noticed that… that…”

Terry paused for a moment. He dropped his head into his hands, overwhelmed by his distress. Roy took a small step forward, about to try to console him, when he gathered himself up and again and spurted out with, “My Shadow Pokémon! I couldn’t find it!”

Roys’ face became pale.

“It wasn’t on my belt; it wasn’t in my locker, my bags, my room, anywhere! It wasn’t anywhere! The only thing I could think of was that I dropped it when I was driving the boat! And if I did, that means that psycho has it!” Terry spoke faster and faster, descending into a full blown panic. He held his hands on the sides of his head and shook it back and forth. He also began to breathe much heavier and his tone of voice made it clear he was choking back tears. Evidently, telling Roy about his inner worries only intensified the stress, not alleviate it.

Roy fell backwards toward the wall. He remained absolutely silent as he stared at the ceiling. Roy could hear his heart pounding and could feel himself breaking out into a cold sweat. He broke the silence with a shaky voice, “This is bad…”

He wasn’t expecting Terrys’ problem to be this serious. When Terry said that he needed to get something off his chest, Roy thought he was talking about a minor issue. But what Terry had just told him could prove disastrous. If a Shadow Pokémon fell into the wrong hands, there was no doubt in Roys’ mind that word of its existence would get out. Since Cipher was the only one that had the knowledge of how to make Shadow Pokémon, all suspicions would gravitate towards it. Cipher was able to successfully remain hidden and maintain the public thought that they were destroyed for about a year. For people to find out that Cipher is still alive so early and at a point when it’s so fragile would be catastrophic.

Roy knew that he had made a promise and had followed a code of keeping them all his life, but this situation was far too dire. “I…I’m sorry… I can’t keep this a secret…”

The moment Roy said that, Terry shot his head up. Before Roy had even the slightest chance or thought to tell someone, Terry lunged at him and pinned him against the wall. Tears were fully streaming down his face at this moment as he slammed Roy at the wall over and over, “No! You can’t! You promised! You promised me! If Terran finds out what I did, he’ll kill me! And if he doesn’t, the Grand Master will send someone that will! I don’t want to die, Roy! Please! You can’t tell anyone!”

Roy stared at Terry, both in shock and with a feeling of uncertainty. His desperate pleading struck a chord with Roy; chances were that the punishment would be equal to the severity of the mistake. Roy couldn’t bear the thought of being a part of someones’ death. It would haunt him for the rest of his life if he knowingly did such a thing.

However, keeping such a secret would haunt Roy as well. If he told Terran about it now, things might not be as bad overall than if he found out about it on his own. Ciphers’ higher-ranked members might be able to do something about the loose Shadow Pokémon situation. They could undergo a recovery operation to retrieve the Pokémon before the public knows about it and eliminate the problem before it gets the chance to spread. All that was preventing Ciphers’ potential downfall was a few words from Roy to Terran.

Roy fought in his head over the two options. Both would end up plaguing his mind for months or years to come and both had painful ramifications. Regardless of what he chose to do, he knew that he wasn’t going to win.

“Move! Move! Out of the way!”

The sudden shouting coming from down the hall broke Roys’ thoughts. It startled Terry enough to loosen his grip on Roy, giving him the ability to move again. Roy spun his head towards the direction of the sound and saw a large group of peons rushing towards them. They sprinted right past Roy and Terry, almost knocking into them in the process.

The group looked frantic and uneasy as they ran by. Roy could tell just by the anxious air they were emitting that something was wrong. He managed to stop a straggler by quickly shouting, “What’s going on?”

The peon lagging behind turned around to face Roy, but continued to move by walking backwards as he spoke, “Two of the peons that were with Commander Delta just came back!”

As the peon immediately ran off to catch up with others, Roys’ thoughts became even more muddled. He recalled that Terran said that the group should be gone for at least three days. Why anyone should be coming back so early was beyond Roy. But the fact that they did come back was not giving him a very good feeling.

Something wasn’t right, so Roy began to follow the other peons to see what was going on. But he stopped himself for a moment and looked back at Terry. Terry hadn’t budged an inch and still stared at Roy with that desperate expression on his face. The sudden commotion had distracted Roy, but evidently Terrys’ worries didn’t leave his mind for a second.

Roy wanted to say something to him, but he just couldn’t figure out what. He still wasn’t sure what to do about this unwinnable situation. Eventually, Roy couldn’t bear thinking about it any longer; he clamped his eyes shut and ran as fast as he could down the hall without looking back.

He realized that pushing the situation into the back of his head for the moment was irresponsible. But he just couldn’t bring himself to face this problem head-on. It would end up so painfully no matter what he did, so he figured that the best thing he could do for now was forget it ever happened.

Eventually Roy caught up to the other peons and followed them to the main entrance of the building. It seemed like every peon on duty except Terry was standing in front of the door, all wanting to know what was happening as well. The group was so large and dense that Roy could barely see anything past a few feet away. It didn’t help that most other peons were taller than him, either.

All of a sudden, Roy heard the doors open, and the group erupted into an uproar. Tired of standing on his tiptoes trying to get a glimpse of the action, Roy managed to squeeze himself through the crowd. Once he pushed through, he saw two peons collapsed on the ground. They didn’t seem to be hurt physically, but their skin was absolutely colorless and they were trembling enough that even those farther away from them took notice.

One of their helmets was a bit slanted, giving Roy a clear glimpse of his eyes. He seemed to be staring off into the distance, as if he was preoccupied with something other than the present moment. It appeared that the peon was reliving in his head something that had happened to him. Whatever it was, it made the peons’ eyes fill with pure horror and dread just by the thought of it alone.

For a while, not a single person in the crowd budged. It was as if no one was sure what to do in this situation. Something was clearly troubling the two peons, but it seemed like nobody felt that they could do anything. Even Roy was afraid to try to do something. He felt confident in helping people with minor problems, but the aura that the two peons in front of him were emitting gave Roy the feeling that whatever happened was not minor.

Eventually, someone in the crowd swallowed their pride and stepped forward to help them out. The peon sat the other two up against the door, and tried to prod them into speaking about what happened, “Are you guys alright? What happened? Where are the others?”

The entire crowd grew silent, all wanting to hear what they had to say. Nothing came out of either of them for quite some time. The peon that asked them about it sat there with them patiently, silently encouraging them to speak.

All of a sudden, Roy heard a quiet sob come from one of the peons. But with the area as silent as it was, the cry echoed in the hall. The peon dropped his head and held it in his shaky heads for a moment before lifting it back up. He looked up at the crowd, who were watching him intently, and began to choke back enough tears to be able to speak.

* * *

Sleep was not coming very easily to Terran. He did manage to fall into a light sleep at a few points, but it was nowhere near the kind that he should have been getting. With so many thoughts swimming around in his mind, Terran was unable to even doze off.

Terran rolled over on his side and pulled the sheets over his head. Just shut up and stop thinking about it. He berated his overactive mind. Terran tried desperately to quiet his thoughts to the level of silence that the building seemed to have all night.


Terrans’ eyes shot open as felt the shrill voice piece his eardrums. He groaned and seized the nearest pillow and pressed it against his ears to drown out the noise. Not at this god damn hour! Go the hell away!

Despite his efforts to go deaf, Terran heard the door to his office slam open followed by a frantic pounding at his bedroom door. “SIR, WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!”

It didn’t take long for Terran to recognize the screaming voice outside. The panicky tone, the insistence on calling Terran “sir”, and the fact that he’s the only peon he knows that has the courage to run into his room unannounced gave Terran more than enough flags that it was Roy beating at the door.

Eventually, Terran had enough. He threw off the sheet and stumbled over to the door. Swinging it open, he held a furious scowl at Roy, whose face was also red. Terran massaged his forehead with his fingers, trying his hardest to keep his cool. “Right now, my chest feels like it’s on fire. It sucks and I’m in a horrible mood because of it. Do you really want to piss me off further by giving me a migraine?!”

However, it was as if Terrans’ words fell on deaf ears. Roys’ panicked expression didn’t falter in the least bit. “S…Sir! C…C…Co…” Roy stammered in a much quieter tone, but was gasping too heavily to form anything close to a coherent sentence.

“For the love of… Roy, calm the hell down and breathe for a moment!” Terran snapped harshly at Roy, hardly in the mood for something like that at the current hour.

Roy grabbed the side of the doorway and did as Terran said. He coughed a few times as he tried to catch his breath, but quickly calmed down enough to talk normally. Just before Roy began to speak, Terran saw a flash of a forlorn and terrified expression on his face. Even for someone that worries like Roy, the emotion that Terran saw –especially at such a caliber- was highly uncharacteristic of him.

“Sir… Two of the peons that were with Commander Delta just came back.” Roy, once he calmed down, said with the same disheartened emotion that was on his face.

“What?!” Terran sharply growled, increasing the volume of his own voice. “Nobody is supposed to be back for another two days! Why the hell is anyone back?! Does Commander Delta know about this?!”

Roy suddenly began shaking in place. He hesitated to speak for a while. Not because he was exhausted, but it seemed to be because he had trouble finding the courage to say it. Eventually, he found the minimal amount of courage necessary and whispered, “He’s dead.”

Just those two words alone were enough to send Terrans’ heart rate speeding. All the red color in his face that Terran had built up over the last few minutes suddenly disappeared. “What…”

Terran leaned against the side of the doorway and stared at ceiling. He couldn’t believe it. To lose his Commander was unthinkable. It was impossible, it couldn’t be happening. Terran tried denying it as much as he could, but it was no use. He glanced back at Roy, and the look on his face was genuine. Roy wouldn’t lie to him, especially not about something like this.

But he still couldn’t come to terms with the situation. Terran may not have connected with Commander Delta well, but he knew better than to get on his bad side. Even though Terran was higher ranked, he found the Commander incredibly intimidating and he was no pushover by any stretch of the imagination. How could he, of all people, get himself killed? Especially when he knew how important the mission was and how little room there was to mess up. Losing a peon is bad enough, but losing a Commander when there’s so much trouble brewing is even worse.

The last thought sparked another anxiety in Terrans’ mind. He turned his head back to Roy, and asked with his own voice starting to tremble now, “I sent eight other peons with him. Where are they?”

Roy flinched at his question and dropped his head. He didn’t even make eye contact with Terran when he said under his breath, “They’re dead too.”

At that, Terran went from leaning against the doorway to sliding down it onto the floor. Even the pain coming from his ribs couldn’t amount to the pain that he felt from the impact of Roys’ words. He held his hands against his temples before grasping at the short part of his hair. Nothing made sense. It wasn’t real. It was all just some horrible dream he was having. He didn’t even care that he was starting to slip back into denial. He just couldn’t deal with it. Losing so many lives like this… he didn’t know what to think anymore.

“What happened?” Terran groaned as he tried -and was failing- to accept the situation.

Roy didn’t reply. Whether he heard him or not, Terran had grown thin on his patience and was in no mood to wait for a reply. “Well?!”

“I’m… I’m sorry, sir! They didn’t say anything else!” Roy frantically apologized, “They’re horribly shaken up. It took them a long time just to be able to say what I just told you, sir…”

Terran took small, short breaths as he struggled to lift himself back up. Roy began to step forward to help, but Terran held his hand up to stop him. He staggered over to his desk and pulled his chair out. He gingerly lowered himself in it and sat down. Terran rested his head in his hands and quietly gave an order, “Go get them and bring them back here.”

“Yes sir.” Roy bowed his head and ran out of the room.

Once Roy left, Terran was alone to allow the information to truly sink in. What am I going to do? I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before. As his thoughts about the situation began to consume his head, they also jabbed and assaulted his conscience. Damn it… If I hadn’t sent them to that island in the first place, no one would’ve died! It’s all my god-damned fault… How could I let this happen?!

The only thing that managed to break Terrans’ wild thought process was the sound of the doors opening up again. He looked up and saw the two peons that Roy spoke of stumble in and fall straight to the floor. They placed their heads on the ground, completely unable to look Terran in the face as they hysterically sobbed, “We’re sorry sir! We’re sorry! It wasn’t our fault! Please don’t kill us! Please…”

“Both of you calm down. I’m not going to kill you. I just want to know what happened.” Terran weakly sighed as he tried to bring them to their senses.

Both seemed to be hesitant to recall anything about the events. Roy, who had followed them in, appeared to doubt that they would speak up as well.

To both Terran and Roys’ surprise, one of the peons stood on his knees, fought back tears, and stammered, “We…We were with C-Commander Delta when it happened. We were catching Pokémon like you told us to. It was in the middle of the day, but the forest on the island was incredibly dense and dark. We couldn’t see much of anything… Then, while we were heading back to base with the Commander…”

The first peon suddenly broke down emotionally and couldn’t talk any further. Seeing his partners’ bout of courage earlier, the second peon followed suit and took his place, “Some… Something ambushed us…”

“And what was this ‘thing’?” Terran prodded them to elaborate.

“I don’t know! I don’t what it was!” the second peon answered, “It… jumped from the bushes beside us… and landed on the Commander. I-I-It started… started to rip the Commander apart!”

Terrans’ eyes widened. “Ripped… apart?”

At this point, both peons’ eyes were welling up with tears. The first one recovered himself enough to be able to tell a bit more to Terran, “I’ve never seen anything so vicious… It just came straight out of nowhere started to rip the Commander to shreds… I… It was so strong… It tore his limbs apart and threw him around like he was nothing…”

The second peon took over once again, “That thing… it was just so mindless too! It must’ve killed the Commander long before it actually stopped attacking him. I don’t think it even noticed us, it was just so focused on Commander Delta!”

“We ran away before it figured out that we were there. When we got back to camp…” the first peon started, but was unable to finish. Terran could see his eyes widen with terror behind his visors. Roy, who –like Terran- was visibly horrified by their story, appeared to dread what was about to come next.

“Everyone…” the first peon, trembling, continued reluctantly, “…was dead. They looked like the same thing happened to them too! Some of them… were impaled and skewered with these… huge thorns of some sort! They were completely butchered; it didn’t even look like their armor stopped that monster at all!”

“And I’m going to assume that you left the island shortly after, right?” Terran, uneasy from their story, questioned them.

Both of them nodded. “It was probably following us,” the second peon said, “Just by watching it attack Commander Delta, we could tell that it was out to kill. We knew that if we stayed, it would hunt us down no matter how much we ran.”

Terran slouched down in his seat and dropped his head into his hands again. Sweat was pouring straight down his face as he stared straight at the floor with horror-struck eyes. The more he tried to put together an image in his head from their descriptions, the more he shook with terror.

However, he also became more and more furious as well. With clenched teeth, he lifted his head back up and snarled, “Things like this are the exact reason why you have Pokémon with you! Why the hell didn’t you use them to stop that thing instead of letting it kill people?!”

“We’re sorry, sir! It’s just that… we were afraid if it noticed us getting ready to attack it, it might have come at us before we got the chance!” the first peon fell back to the ground and desperately plead his case.

Terran still couldn’t accept that. He had a hard time believing that the monster they spoke of was that quick-minded. However, he forced himself to let it go and tried to get more answers out of the peons, “Did you at least see what it looked like?”

“It was too dark to make out much of anything. I couldn’t tell what it was.” the second peon repeated himself.

“But… I could see a few details…” the other peon began to attempt to describe the creature, “It was… big; about as large as a full-grown man. I think it might’ve been dark-colored. And it had... rows of these horrifyingly sharp teeth; more than what should have been possible!”

That’s not much to go on. Terran thought to himself. Off the top of his head, he couldn’t think of anything he knew of that fitted that description.

After that, it appeared to Terran that the two peons had nothing else to say about the matter. He figured that he had probably put them through enough just by making them recall something so traumatic. “You two are dismissed. Take a week off to recover.”

The two wobbled as they stood up and bowed to Terran weakly before dragging themselves towards the door opened for them by Roy. When they left, the air was silent, but still laced with the horror that they spoke of. Everything that he was just told, all those details, it still didn’t quite sink into Terrans’ head.

One thing was clear though: this turn of events made the current situation even worse. It was bad enough that some of his subordinates were just slaughtered. But when Terran was as shorthanded as he was, this just worsened things. Having no Commander to assist him was probably going to prove disastrous as well.

At that moment, a thought suddenly ignited in Terrans’ mind. He couldn’t afford to go for long without a Commander and needed to fix the problem as soon as possible. Such a solution came to him, but he wasn’t sure about it. But he knew that he couldn’t think that way during such a crisis and threw his insecurities away, even if it was just for a moment.

He swallowed his pride and made up his mind. He looked at Roy and called his name. Roy immediately responded and ran in front of his desk. “Yes sir?”

“Listen. There’s something I want to ask you,” Terran began, but hesitated for a moment. He shook it off again before he could change his mind and continued, “You realize that with Commander Delta gone, I’m not going to be able handle operations around here by myself. So, I was wondering… Would you be interested in accepting a promotion to Commander?”

Roy jumped backwards at the question. Immediately, Terran could see his face turn red with sweat forming on it. “S-S-Sir?! I…I…” he stuttered as he was thrown into another state of nervousness.

“Please, don’t be so damn indecisive. Not now of all times.” Terran groaned, needing an answer soon.

Roy dropped his head, beginning to question himself. Terran was growing more and more frustrated when he read Roys’ face and figured out what was going on in his head. Terran already had his own insecurities to deal with; he couldn’t afford to contend with someone else’s.

“Sir, I…” Roy mumbled under his breath as his confidence began to plummet. But then Terran saw a sudden flash of optimism appear in Roys’ face when he finally managed to reassure himself. When he forced his self-confidence levels to skyrocket, Roy straightened his posture and exclaimed in a clear voice, “Sir, I would be honored!”

Relieved to see that he made up his mind, Terran gave a relaxed sigh and hid a small smile behind his joined hands held in front of his face. He reached into a smaller drawer in his desk and pulled out a ring with a small, single key dangling from it. He tossed it to Roy. “Three rooms down the hall on the left there’s a room that key opens. There should be an extra uniform in there.”

Roy nodded and begun to dash out of the room. Still clearly nervous, he fumbled for the knob for a while before actually getting a hold of it. Once he managed to get out, Terran saw him take off faster than he had ever seen before not a moment after shutting the door.

* * *

As if the day hadn’t been confusing enough.

There was just so much happening Roy didn’t know what to think anymore. His head was being flooded with more events than what he was capable of handle at once. But one stuck out in particular and made itself the most prominent.

Me?! A Commander?! Never had the slightest thought of climbing so high on the latter occurred to Roy since the day he joined Cipher. He simply couldn’t fathom it. Roy had such a hard time picturing himself as a Commander that he began to wonder if it he was even experiencing reality or not.

No matter how hard Roy tried, he was unable to see how Terran could see him as Commander material. But he grit his teeth and forced himself to accept it. No, I can’t be complaining about this! I have to have confidence in myself! If I keep thinking this way, then I’ll just waste the trust Terran has in me!

With that resolve, Roy increased his already fast pace towards the room Terran spoke of. It didn’t take him long to reach it and unlock its door.

Roy stepped inside and turned on the lights. All around him were spare Cipher peon uniforms in various sizes for both males and females. In the middle of the several rows of peon outfits was a pathway leading to the back of the room. Taking quick steps down the path, he reached the end of it and was greeted with the uniform he came there for.

Roy shook nervously as he looked up at the uniform. Just with its appearance alone the uniform emitted a tense air that reached to Roy even from a distance. Regardless of how intimidating it was, Roy took a deep breath and grabbed the outfit that was now his own.

* * *

The sound of Terrans’ fingers tapping on his desk echoed in the now-empty room. He knew that Roy hadn’t been gone for long, but any capacity for patience he previously had diminished in the past few minutes.

As he waited, he replayed the peons’ description of the event in his head, but it still seemed all too surreal. An entire group of peons plus a Commander slaughtered by a lone monster… it just didn’t seem possible. Terran couldn’t fathom anything being that stealthy and powerful to do such a thing. Even if it was a previously unknown species of Pokémon, that many people on the island should have been able to take it down. He couldn’t make any sense of it.

The thought of going back and capturing the beast flashed through his head very briefly, but his mind was quick to tear that idea apart. It wouldn’t be worth it. As powerful of a beast as he heard it was, it just wasn’t worth the blood of anymore of his subordinates. Terran could never find it in himself to throw away other peoples’ lives like that.

His thought process was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening. Terran slightly lifted his head up to meet the person coming in.

He knew full well it was Roy, but he would never have been able to tell if he had not known about the change in uniform ahead of time. The new Commander was completely concealed by a black robe; beginning at his neck and stretching all the way down to the floor to the point where it dragged at his feet.

Covering his head was an eerie mask. The center was what appeared to be a large, perfectly round eye in a perpetual stare with its beady iris. The “eye” was surrounded by a shiny black ring. The ring branched off at the top briefly before suddenly curving to the left to create a semicircle. The mask resembled a strange Pokémon Terran had heard of called an “Unown”, but the shape itself reminded him especially of the letter, “D”.

The uniform was overall meant to conceal and cover every inch of the wearers’ body, and it worked well. Not a patch of skin, the fainted trace of his face, or a single hair was exposed. Anything that could be used in the slightest to identify a person was totally hidden. The entire outfit gave off an air of both anonymity and a chilling feeling at the same time.

Still, Terran could see though the uniform enough to be able to read some of Roys’ emotions. He saw that the bottom half of outfit trembled slightly, as if his legs were shaking inside. It was subtle at first, but the anxiousness became completely and utterly obvious when Roy began to walk, stepped on a bit of the cloth, and fell straight on the floor. Terrans’ hands made their way to his forehead and slightly covered his eyes again as he groaned exasperatedly under his breath. Did I really make the right choice?

Roy stumbled to his feet, and began to stammer, “I’m sorry s-” He paused himself all of a sudden when he heard his own voice. His voice was suddenly distorted and low pitched, in contrast to the mild and soft tone that he spoke with before. He must have heard the old Commander Delta speak before, but it had apparently come to a shock to hear himself sound like that.

“Well… Commander Delta was a rather large person and you’re not exactly big yourself…” Terran sighed lightly as he looked over how grossly oversized the uniform was for Roy, “Just try to keep from tripping over yourself and looking ridiculous until a uniform your size is made.”

Roy didn’t answer him right away. He stood there silent for a while before he said, “Sir… I don’t quite understand. Why do I need to wear this? Everyone here knows who I am; it’s not as if I’m trying to hide it.”

“Listen,” Terran prepared himself for a lecture, “Admins like me don’t get out and do outside missions very often. Unless the situation is extremely dire, we stay put right where we are and run things in our individual facilities. Commanders, on the other hand, do. Part of your job is to lead these outside missions and invariably come in contact with other people. Not to mention that you’ll masquerade yourself as a normal member of the local community and gather whatever useful information you can. Since you’re far more likely to be confronted by the locals and anyone that’s attempting to get in our way, your identity needs to be hidden a hell of a lot more than the Admins that usually don’t face such problems. If our enemies and opponents know who you are, that could cause a lot of trouble. And the uniform you’re wearing right now is meant to prevent that. Understand?”

“Yes sir…” Roy replied half-heartedly, staring straight at the floor the entire time. Terran recognized that emotion, even when his face was hidden; a sudden jolt of uncertainty had made its way through Roy again. He scowled sharply at him, something that Roy took notice of quickly and waved his hands defensively. “I’m sorry! I…I’m sorry if I appear to be ungrateful… I’m not; I really do appreciate this opportunity. It’s just that… well, I…”

“Don’t tell me that you’re doubting yourself again!” Terran spat at him, “I’m not exactly Ardos’ favorite. When it comes to employment, I get stuck with the lowest-ranked and weakest peons that this company has! You however, are a hell of a lot different than them! So stop feeling sorry for yourself and accept it!”

Terran heard a very slight trace of an exclamation make it through the voice distorter in his mask. It silenced him for the moment, and his head lifted up a little. But nevertheless, Terran could still feel a bit of unease coming from Roy. He figured that Roy did have every reason to be nervous about such a sudden promotion, but it still worried Terran a little.

“That’s all for the moment. You’re dismissed.” Terran muttered, yet made it loud enough to reach Roy, “I wouldn’t go too far away, though. I’ll probably have to call you back here shortly.”

It took a while for Roy to react, as if he was still preoccupied with something else. When he did respond, he simply nodded and began to leave, even going as far to omit saying “sir”. He walked out of the room slowly; part of it was probably to avoid tripping over the dragging cloth again, but Terran felt that it was also out anxiety. Terran was beginning to wonder if any of what he just said reached him or not.

The moment he left, Terran’s head made its way quickly to the desk. He tapped his forehead a few times against the wood, groaning with every impact. I guess that confidence he had a while ago was a temporary boost… Good Mew, I don’t need this; I really don’t need this…

It seemed like nothing was going right for Terran lately. In his mind, it was like whoever was running the universe was bored and decided to make his work life hell just for the sheer amusement. That was the only explanation for the parade of bad luck that he could think of.

Terran sat up a little and forced out a laugh, “I’m overreacting… Anybody in his position would be nervous. It’s normal. He’s not the type to dwell on things. He’ll get over it. It’ll all be fine.”

He tried to smile a little to reassure himself, but that notion was quickly aborted. The frown he was wearing before came right back accompanied with a sigh. Forcibly injecting optimism into his attitude didn’t work like he wanted it to.

“Damn it… What the hell am I going to do…?”

Before anyone says it, no. The monster described by the peons is not Zoroark. I had planned this chapter out long before 5th Generation was even on the horizon.

Originally, I didn't plan for Roy to even be a major character of any sort. He was supposed to be a nameless peon that would appear once and never again. Of course, my ideas do drastically change over the years. The whole Commander position is a fairly recent idea of mine as well.

29th April 2010, 12:25 PM
THIS IS AMAZING. Just finished reading all the chapters and all I can say is I really want to see how this plays out.
If you are starting a PM list could you add me to it?

29th April 2010, 3:50 PM
LadyMiir: Sorry for the late reply. Anyways, I'm really glad you like it! Thanks for your comment!

X-ice: Ahaha, you just reminded me that my PM-list even existed! I had completely forgotten about that! I got to get to that. Well, I'll add you regardless! Thanks!

9th May 2010, 2:32 PM
LadyMiir: Sorry for the late reply. Anyways, I'm really glad you like it! Thanks for your comment!

X-ice: Ahaha, you just reminded me that my PM-list even existed! I had completely forgotten about that! I got to get to that. Well, I'll add you regardless! Thanks!

Your welcome. I look forward to more chapters.

21st June 2010, 7:13 PM
Whaaaaaat?! What is this?! Is Bluey... actually trying to get back on schedule?!

Why yes. Yes she is. Well, granted, it still took two months to finish this chapter. But hey. An update is an update.

Anyways, Chapter Eleven, everyone!

Chapter Eleven: Trust

Eldes was truly starting to struggle to keep up his façade.

As he had done for the past six years, he attempted to keep his face and mannerisms from displaying any kind of emotions. He kept his hands tucked in his sleeves and placed behind his back. His expression was straight, striking down any subconscious attempt at change.

But now every little thing was threatening to shatter his wall completely.

There were just so many emotions rushing through him all at once. Eldes had never thought before that a mere building could stir so much in him. The Pokémon HQ Lab, the place where he was standing inside at that moment… He worked there. He lived there. Memories were bombarding him every second. He remembered the grand opening, which he declared to be the beginning of a new hope for his struggling region. He recalled several sleepless nights over research, all while Lily was fruitlessly trying to convince him to turn in. Eldes could still see and hear perfectly in his mind Jovi’s first steps and Michael saying, “Daddy” for the first time. There was his old office in the basement where the crayon pictures, depicting hairy suns sitting above a group of squiggly stick figures with joined hands and wide smiles, covered entire sections of the walls.

Every thought swimming in his head at the time all told him one thing, “You’re home.” But something in his mind was fighting that notion. Something was different, and whatever it was prevented him from truly listening to his thoughts.

Eldes scanned the area nearby. He held a degree of nervousness, unlike the kind that he usually felt. He faced Michael, who was still staring him down a few feet away. “I said earlier that I don’t have any ill intent.”

Michael, however, just scoffed at him. He wasn’t convinced. “Yeah? I’m just making sure it stays that way.”

Michaels’ voice was laced with confidence as he talked back to Eldes. He had every reason to be, as Eldes stood in the middle of Michaels’ entire Pokémon team circled around him. They all eyed Eldes carefully, ready to strike with an attack at any provocation. The Vaporeon was partially crouched down, baring her teeth and hissing. The Mawile had his back turned, but his horns were wide open, ready to lash out at any time. Sticking very close to the Mawile was the Sandslash mostly balled up, but Eldes could see her peeking at him very slightly. Both the Breloom and Electabuzz held their fists out at him, the Electabuzz in a rather haughty manner. The Lunatone, who seemed more focused than any of the others, gave a sharp, unwavering glare at Eldes with his bright, red eyes.

That had been the situation ever since Eldes stepped foot in the building. He hadn’t been keeping track of the time, but Eldes could see from the glimmer of impatience in some of the Pokémons’ eyes that it had been a while.

One of them in particular was starting to show signs of boredom. The Electabuzz, whose name was Zaprong if Eldes could remember correctly, began to lower his fists as well as his eyelids. His effort in making sure Eldes didn’t do anything Michael didn’t like was rapidly declining. Eventually, his impatience for something to happen reached the point where he gave out a snort, turned around, and smugly walked off.

Michael, who had been preoccupied with seeing that Eldes didn’t try to pull anything shady, almost didn’t notice his own Pokémon walking off. He glanced to his side when his peripheral vision caught Zaprongs’ movement, but he didn’t seem to register it in his head until Eldes saw him do a double take. “Hey! Zaprong! Where’re you going?!”

Zaprong, however, completely ignored his trainers’ yells, not even giving the slightest reaction, and continued walking until he was outside. Michael was about to go after him, but he seemed to think otherwise and stopped himself. He clenched both his teeth and his fists, all while giving out a low growl at his disobedient Pokémon.

Michael was growing visibly frustrated, to an even greater extent than he was before. He paced around a little, scuffing his feet at the floor as if he was desperately yearning for something to kick around. Eldes almost tried to say something to calm Michaels’ anger down, but his conscience stopped him before he could get the chance. He then reminded himself that anything he said to Michael with the view he held against him would only enrage him further.

Michael lifted his head back up and looked at his Pokémon that still remained. All of them, except the Lunatone, had taken their attention off of Eldes to watch the drama that Zaprong nearly caused. At that point, Eldes could see a trace of impatience in all of their eyes, like they were beginning to wonder if he would do anything at all. Michael had apparently noticed it as well. He held his hand against his forehead and gave out a half-groan, half-sigh. “Autumn, stay here. The rest of you can go.”

The rest of Michaels’ team were a bit reluctant at first, glancing at Eldes warily. After looking at each other for a while and coming to some kind of non-verbal agreement, they began to leave the area rather slowly as if they were still unsure about Eldes. The Breloom hopped off in his own direction while the Sandslash continued to stick close to the Mawile, following him by rolling along as he sauntered off.

However, the Lunatone was still frozen in place. Not doing so much as budging in response to Michaels’ command, he continued to stare at Eldes with the same focused look he had several minutes ago. It seemed that the Lunatones’ complete and undivided attention was on Eldes, and no outside force was about to break it. Eldes didn’t think much of the scowling at first, but after a while of watching those huge, ruby-red eyes locked on him, the situation became rather unnerving. Eldes had heard tales of grown men stricken with fear at a Lunatones’ eyes and now he was beginning to believe them.

Michael was beginning to show his unease at his Lunatones’ attitude as well, even though it wasn’t directed at him. From what Eldes could read from the look on Michaels’ face, he seemed to be a bit… worried. Eldes remembered facing the Lunatone in battle, but he didn’t pay much attention to his personality at the time. But it appeared that the behavior he was showing was unusual, and it was beginning to make Michael a bit anxious. “…Eklei? Hey. I said you can go now.”

But Eklei was still unresponsive. Michael waved his hands in Ekleis’ line of vision, but that didn’t seem to stir him either. Ekleis’ demeanor and expression remained completely static for what seemed to be a long time.

Then all of a sudden, his eyes widened and Eldes heard a short, telepathic, “Oh!”come from him. Eklei swiftly moved closer to Eldes to the point where he completely shattered any notion of personal space he had. “I REMEMBER YOU NOW!”

The sudden, obnoxious scream startled Eldes enough that he briefly lost his balance. The Lunatone lost all traces of the seriousness that he had just minutes prior and his eyes were instead glimmering with a naïve sort of cheerfulness. His voice followed suit, with the volume turned down enough to barely be qualified as an indoor voice, “You’re the guy that used to hang around Stumpy and Wrinkly! Why are you a cross-dresser?”

The last part of Eklei’s sentence caught Eldes off guard. He simply stared at the Lunatone, not quite sure if he heard him correctly. “E…Excuse me?”

“You know! Why do you wear that dress?”

Realizing that Eklei was being utterly serious, Eldes was at a complete loss for words. The… absurdity of what he was just asked made him unsure whether he should even be insulted or not. When he did manage to figure out some kind of response to the odd Lunatone, he stammered slightly as he tried to keep his composure, “T…This is a robe…”

Ekeli, however, just looked back at Eldes in the same cheery manner, but with a strong hint of sheer disbelief. He just gave a laugh, “Yeah, okay!”

Eldes glanced at Michael, who was holding his head in his hands and shaking it. His expression shifted from worry to pure annoyance, and clearly Eklei was the subject of it. He then tried to push the Lunatone away, with little success. “That’s enough Eklei…”

After Michael strained to get the floating, psychic rock to do so much as budge, he shot a glare at Eldes. Eldes flinched slightly, as it quickly became clear to him that short distraction didn’t make Michael forget about him.

A voice came from a room nearby calling Michaels’ name. Michael turned his head in response, but made sure to keep Eldes within sight. He then turned back and scowled at him as he growled, “Follow me. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

Michael moved around Eklei and began to head into the room, with his peripheral vision set on Eldes behind him. Autumn took up the rear, picking up her trainers’ hostility towards Eldes, quickly following suit. She hissed at Eldes as she watched him, showing off her distrust of him as well.

Eldes was reluctant to follow Michael. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be around him; for the past six years, Eldes wanted nothing more than to be with his family again. But it was the way that Michael acted towards him made Eldes feel so uneasy. He understood why, and Eldes couldn’t find it in himself to blame Michael for his feelings towards him. Still, seeing Michael look at him with so much hatred and speak so disrespectfully towards him stung a little inside. Eldes knew better than to expect Michael to show the same love and admiration that he did so long ago now, but it hurt nevertheless.

The doors slid open and the two people and one Pokémon entered. Both the left and right sides of the room were lined with machines and computers with people managing them. In the middle of the room was a raised disc, large enough so that one person could stand in the middle. The disc was connected by wires to the machines, which Eldes had assumed was what the computers were controlling.

The moment Eldes stepped in, all noise in the room ceased. All heads in the room turned to look at Eldes; aside from that there wasn’t the slightest movement. The expressions on their faces were very familiar to Eldes by now: distrust. He saw that they were all extremely wary of him, and also appeared to be rather uncomfortable that they were sharing the same room.

The two people that seemed to be the most distrustful aside from Michael were Lily and Krane.

Again, Eldes struggled to hold back a cringe in response to the animosity emitting from two people so important to his life. Seeing his best friend have so much suspicion towards him that it was clearly visible even with his narrow eyes was painful enough. But what hurt even more was watching Lily give him just as harsh of a stare that Michael had been giving him all night.

Lily… Krane… There was so much that Eldes wanted to say and ask. But he knew that none of it would do any good and it would do nothing to change anyone’s’ opinion of him. Still, there so much that he wondered. Never during the six years that he was locked away on Citadark Isle did Eldes’ love for Lily waver. Did she feel the same way towards him? If Eldes somehow brought up the courage to reveal himself towards her, would she still love him? How did she and Krane react to his “death”? How did they manage to cope? Did they try desperately to remember him completely, or did they push what shallow memories were left away? Would they ever forgive him?

Eventually, Lily put aside her hostility towards Eldes long enough to get down to the business that she wanted with Michael. “Michael… You told me before that you met somebody here in Orre that owned a Munchlax. Do you remember anything about it?”

“Uh… It belonged to this old lady that sold herbs in Gateon Port. The little crap ran away a lot to steal the food that I set out in Poké Spots.” Michael tried to remember any details he could.

“Were there any identifying features; such as gender?” Lily asked again.

“Oh. Err, I think I remember the lady calling it, “he”, once.”

Lily shook her head. “Well, if that’s true, then this isn’t the same Munchlax. This one’s female.”

Eldes briefly wondered what the reason was for Lilys’ question, but it didn’t take long for him to figure out why. Because Orre had very few wild Pokémon, if anybody wanted one, they had to have it imported from another region. The vast majority of imports came either from Hoenn or Kanto. Imports from the other regions, especially from Sinnoh and Isshu, were extremely rare. Therefore, it would not be too unusual for only one member of a Sinnoh-native species like Munchlax to be present in Orre. As such, Eldes thought that Lily must have figured that there was a high chance that the Munchlax came from somewhere other than Orre.

Michael, however, either didn’t see or didn’t listen to Lilys’ point. “Well then it’s a different one, then. There can’t be just one Munchlax in the region.”

Eldes glanced at Lily and Kranes’ faces. He could tell they were holding back something. It was as if they had realized that the probability that Cipher has come back and is making Shadow Pokémon again was high and they wanted to get that across to Michael. Something, however, was keeping them from doing so.

“Anyways…” Krane spoke up, a little eager to change the subject, “We have the Purification Chamber set up. It took a while, since we haven’t used it in so long, but it’s ready.”

Purification Chamber?! Those two words resonated in Eldes’ head. For years, that phrase only served as a painful reminder. It represented an abandoned dream and part of the reason he lost everything. But now, the context seemed to change the nature of those words.

His heart started beating loud enough that it blocked out any other noises. Something was coursing through him at that moment, something that he hasn’t felt in a long time. He began to feel eager as Michael made his way towards the disc in the middle of the room. He was trying to be subtle, but Eldes found that he couldn’t help but move his head constantly to follow both the people running the computers and Michael in the center.

He saw one of the operators pull a switch and at that moment Eldes saw what appeared to be multicolored musical notes swirl around Michael. At first, Eldes was stunned at their presence and wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but that quickly became trivial. The room suddenly turned dark, but was just as rapidly illuminated by an explosion of notes bursting out of the ground. They danced around in a rhythm as they floated towards the ceiling.

Next to Michael appeared a projection of what was on the computer screens. He seemed to be observing the hologram in front of them and then relaying instructions to the operators. In response, the holograms changed. Somehow, Michael and the operators were able to make a hologram of the Munchlax along with its shadow aura suspended above Michael. Furthermore, holograms of four other Pokémon appeared and began to circle around the Munchlax. In tandem with the dancing notes in the background, the four other Pokemon started to spin around the Munchlax, and with every beat, Eldes could see the dark aura weaken slightly.
Eldes could see Michael talking, and the other people in the room replying.

However, Eldes could hear none of it. It wasn’t the music that was playing to match the musical motif of the chamber that was overpowering all other sounds. Rather, it was the Purification Chamber as a whole.

Completely mesmerized, Eldes’ complete and undivided attention was on the machine doing its job before his very eyes. For a few moments, his shell collapsed and he stood there staring at the process with his jaw dropped. Just a few minutes prior, only two words were running through his head. Now, two different words were the only prominent thought in his mind.

It works…

* * *

“The Purification Chamber?”

Eldes nodded. The two people across the table from him stared at him with expressions of both interest and confusion. He was starting to think that perhaps he should have planned how to discuss the idea further, as the looks that Lily and Krane were giving him was starting to discourage him a little.

However, he quickly swallowed such sentiments. If he was going to be as adamant about this project as he resolved to be, he could not doubt himself. “It’s been a couple months since Ciphers’ main forces were defeated at Realgam Tower. And yet, a lot of the Shadow Pokémon still have not been purified yet.”

Eldes unfolded his hands, gesturing with them as he began to explain further. “I got to thinking. If Cipher –or anyone for that matter- were to make Shadow Pokémon again, purifying them at the current rate could cost a lot of precious time. Therefore, I was thinking about proposing a project. I want to try to create something that will purify the Pokémon at a much faster rate,” Eldes paused for a moment before continuing, “We’ve been keeping track of Cipher and Wes’ campaign for a couple of months now. But… I feel like we’ve just been sitting at the sidelines. I want to do something to help. We certainly have the potential and means to make a difference, but I just feel horrible that we’re not putting it into use.”

The room grew silent, as all three people sat around looking at each other. Lily stared at Eldes, as if she was waiting for him to elaborate even more, and Krane peered at him over his mug as he took a sip of the coffee inside. Once again, Eldes was beginning to doubt himself. Was the idea a little too farfetched?

Eldes sat up straight and waved his hands slightly as he broke the silence with a small stammer, “N… Now just keep in mind that I don’t have much fine details planned yet. It’s really just a theory at this moment…”

“Well…” Lily took a breath before finally giving her thoughts, “Then I suppose we’ll just have to work those details out.”

Eldes perked up at Lilys’ comment. “You… You want to go through with this?”

“It’s just like you said,” Krane spoke up as well with a smile on his face, “We have the ability to do something, but we haven’t. Personally, I think it’s a great idea.”

The reassuring from Lily and Krane boosted Eldes’ confidence over the matter. He grinned and gave a small laugh in response to the two of them, “I just hope that everyone else will be as willing as you.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just tell them what you told us and it’ll be fine,” Lily laughed back as she stood up. She walked over to where Eldes was sitting and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, “And don’t look so nervous. You should know by now that we’ll support any ideas you have.”

Eldes’ smile only grew wider and any hint of uneasiness faded. Eldes couldn’t put his current feelings into words at that moment, and instead let his own arm pulling Lily closer to him convey the message. He had forgotten it briefly in those few moments of nervousness, but Eldes always knew that he could rely on Lily and Krane to lend him their support. After all, if that was untrue, Eldes probably would not have gotten as far as he did in life. That degree of trust that they had in each other was something that he could always count on.

* * *

Eldes had experienced several moments in the past few years where his emotions began to fight their way through his shell and completely overwhelm him. That moment was starting to one be of them. He wanted to believe that this one was no different than the others he had in the past, but Eldes could feel that this one was considerably… powerful.

For countless nights lying on his back, staring at the ceiling and unable to sleep, Eldes thought about the Lab. He thought about Lily and Krane, and whether or not they would be able to pick things back up. Were they able to take charge and keep going? Or did they and the Lab completely crumble without him? His pessimistic nature fought defiantly to convince him of the latter. And for a long time, he believed it.

But at that moment, any doubts, any worries that his premonitions were right were utterly destroyed. He began to feel somewhat ashamed that his faith in the abilities of his wife and best friend was beginning to waver. What Lily said all those years ago, she truly did mean it. Even in his absence, they still supported his dream.

They may not have been able to remember his face, voice, or name, but the fact that they saw his wish to completion told Eldes that they never truly forgot about him.
Eldes blinked. He could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. He struggled hard to try to keep them from rolling down his face, but he knew that failure was likely. Eldes tilted his head down to hide those few streaks of tears that managed to make their way down his cheeks to the rest of the room.

Thank you…

Suddenly, the pulsing green waves and the dancing notes disappeared, as well as the holograms of the Pokémon. The room returned back to normal. It took Eldes a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the sudden light, but he also began to pick up the conversation going on again.

“Michael,” Eldes heard Krane speak up, “I know that you did quite the number on Cipher, and I’m not saying that you didn’t do a good job on it. But the fact that we have another Shadow Pokémon on our hands suggests that Cipher might not be as gone as we thought.”

Eldes saw Michael give a heavy sigh, as he was trying to hold his own emotions in. When he spoke, Eldes could catch some hints of annoyance breaking through,
“Cipher’s already been beaten to the ground twice. I’m sorry Professor, but I doubt that they’d be stupid enough to come back again, knowing that I’ll just do the same thing I did last time. Besides, just because one Shadow Pokémon popped up doesn’t mean anything. For all we know, it could just be a leftover from last year that was never put on that master list.”

Eldes was a bit shocked at Michaels’ retaliation at Krane. For somebody that hates Cipher so much, Eldes would have thought that the first thing on Michaels’ mind would be their return. He was baffled as to Michaels’ reasoning over the matter, but he eventually figured it out. He thinks that he defeated Cipher totally. He doesn’t want to believe that they’ve returned, since that would mean that he didn’t complete the job…

He felt a little like sighing himself. While Eldes could understand Michaels’ thought process, that didn’t mean that it didn’t worry him. Michaels’ arrogance was beginning to overpower sensible thought; Eldes had hoped that such traits wouldn’t surface in Michael.

The more Eldes thought about it, the less he could stand to stay silent. He hesitated at first, but then swallowed his pride and spoke up, “May I say something?”

Michael was quick to shoot a glare at Eldes for interrupting. Soon, the entire room followed suit. It lowered Eldes’ confidence for a moment, but he forced himself to stay strong and continue, “Neither me nor my father have any interest in reviving Cipher. My brother –however- is an entirely different matter,” he took a deep breath, “He is very… persistent. If Ardos has a goal in mind, he’ll take any measures necessary to achieve it, and he will not back down. Cipher is one of those goals. Ever since the day he joined, he has been fiercely loyal to the organization. I highly doubt he would give up on it so easily. That is why I am not particularly shocked at the emergence of this new Shadow Pokémon. I know Ardos very well, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he has at least attempted to revive Cipher and start making Shadow Pokémon again.”

“Furthermore, Ardos is a rather cautious person. He’ll do anything in his power to protect his goal, and will avoid anything that could cause issues. I don’t believe that he would try operating in Orre again after two failures, at least not initially. The Shadow Munchlax arriving here in Orre was probably an accident; I can’t imagine that if Cipher is indeed back, that they would try to hold operations here so soon.”

Once Eldes stopped talking, an unnerving silence hung around in the room. Everyone stared directly at Eldes. Some, like Michael, looked at him with considerable intensity. Michael was the first to say something in response, and it carried his usual biting venom, “I don’t trust you.”

Lily was next, and she herself also held an amount of harshness to her remark, “I don’t trust him either,” Eldes cringed at her comment. The looks that she gave him earlier hurt enough, but her stinging words only piled on the emotional pain. “However… I do believe that there is some degree of truth to what he’s saying.”

Krane nodded in agreement with Lily and stepped forward. He then turned slightly to address the rest of the room, “Even though we have a Shadow Pokémon in our possession, we still don’t have a lot to go on. For the time being, stay alert to anything that might give us more leads. However, there is a chance that this may indeed be a small incident, so don’t go around spreading panic. Regardless, we should remain vigilant and ready for anything that does happen.”

Krane and Lilys’ words not only soothed some of the stinging that Eldes had felt previously, but they gave him another boost of faith in them. It was just even more proof that they had taken charge and had handled the responsibilities of running the Lab very well in the past few years. Eldes was starting to feel that they were doing better than he ever could.

That, however, didn’t bother Eldes in the slightest.

* * *

It had been a while since Eldes, Michael and Autumn left the room with the Purification Chamber. Michael leaned against the wall, looking at the elevator down the hall, but making sure to glance at Eldes every now and then. He was waiting for someone, but Eldes wasn’t quite sure what. Regardless, Eldes was forced to wait as well. If he made even the slightest motion to move away, he knew the Vaporeon sitting next to Michael would react in milliseconds.

Eldes looked over at Michael, who –while staring that the elevator- had a rather pensive look on his face. He figured that Michael was thinking about what had been discussed earlier, that Cipher isn’t completely dead. Eldes wasn’t sure if what he, Lily, and Krane said to him had any sway, however; Michael also held a hint of ire in his expression as well.

Down the hall, Eldes heard the elevator doors open. He and Michael turned their heads to the noise and to the person coming out. The man was an older fellow, with white hair that stood up straight and an average length mustache. He had an air of authority to him; he wore what resembled a long, blue regimental jacket and was much more adorned than the usual officer. There was just an overall feeling of justice to Chief Sherles which never seemed to waver much.

Sherles seemed to be the one that Michael was waiting for, as he perked up slightly when he saw him. Michael walked away to meet him halfway down the hall and said, “So… anything yet?”

Sherles was about to answer Michael, but took notice of Eldes standing nearby. He didn’t seem to know what to think of the convicted criminal standing right in front of him when he should have been in prison. The chief simply stared at Eldes with wide eyes filled to the brim with pure confusion and unease.

“Yeah, I know.” Michael groaned exasperatedly, knowing exactly what Sherles was so bewildered over, “Anyways, did you find out anything?”

Sherles took a moment to answer, apparently trying to make some sort of sense of both Eldes’ presence and Michaels’ dismissive acknowledgement over the matter. “Y-Yes… Well, I have two of my officers upstairs. One of them’s interrogating Miror B., and the other is interrogating his two henchmen. I just got done speaking with both of them.”


Sherles took a deep breath and crossed his arms, “Miror B. is being extremely uncooperative. He flat out refuses to say anything about where and how he got the Shadow Pokémon. He has also made it quite clear that it’s not so much because he wants to hide the information and is scared of reprisal, but more out of sheer dislike for us.”

“His henchmen aren’t much better. One of them is talking, and he claims innocence over the matter. He says that he doesn’t know anything about where his boss got the Shadow Pokémon, or even that he owned it in the first place. Of course, it was pulling teeth just to get that much out of him. His statement was laced with profanity, so I wouldn’t say he was very cooperative.”

“What about the other one?” Michael asked.

“He hasn’t said a word. He’s not responding to any of my officers’ questions. We think that he might be hiding something, but we’re not sure.” Sherles answered back.

When it became clear to Michael that was all Sherles had to say, he let out a loud sigh and leaned back up against the wall. He tilted his head up and stared at the ceiling, “Then we’re right back where we started. Geez… We’re getting nowhere with this…”

Sherles noticed Michaels’ doubt over the situation as was quick to reassure him, “We’ll keep trying to get them to talk. We don’t know how long it’ll take; they might not even spill anything until after we take them back to Pyrite Town with us. Regardless, I’ll let you know if anything comes up.”

“Sure. I’ll tell Mom and the Professor too.” Michael groaned in response as he stood up straight and began to walk off.

Michael turned to face the lobby and the front doors when he stopped abruptly. Eldes, who trained himself at that point to follow him, faced the direction that Michael was looking at, and saw the lobby doors open for a man coming inside. Michael looked at him with uncertainty, not recognizing him. When he got close enough, however, Eldes immediately knew who he was and strengthened his shell in response.

The man stopped right in front of Eldes, with a huge, condescending grin on his face, “Well, well! When I heard that some criminals had been captured in this area, I had a feeling it had something to do with you!” The warden started to laugh, “I expected hear something about you soon, but I didn’t think it would take less than forty-eight hours!”

As usual, the warden was very quick to test Eldes’ patience. He held back a scowl, careful not to anger him, and instead kept his façade up. But Eldes had learned by that point that any encounter with the arrogant and belittling man that it was a fight to keep his emotions back.

“W-Wait a minute! Who are you?!” Michael, completely in the dark, spat out at the warden, not realizing who he was talking to.

“What are you doing here, Perro?” Sherles questioned him, with the displeased tone of voice that Eldes would have used if he wasn’t so adamant in hiding his emotions. Apparently, Eldes’ feelings towards the warden were not exclusive to him alone.

Perro? Eldes thought, a bit surprised. Back in prison, he never went by anything other than, “warden”. Eldes never knew up until that point what his real name was.

Perro, completely ignoring Michael, turned to Sherles instead, “Oh, it’s you,” He said with an unenthusiastic tone, “I’m just checking on an inmate of mine. And what about you? What are you doing here all by your lonesome?”

“I’m apprehending the criminals here. And I have two officers here with me.” Sherles, while restraining himself from getting too annoyed, made it clear to Perro that his patience with him was thin.

“Ha! Two? Is that all?” Perro once again gave a short laugh, this time directed at Sherles.

Sherles, however, didn’t find it so funny. The frown on his face grew slightly bigger as he said with a small trace of a groan, “They were all I could get to come at such short notice.”

The humor quickly drained on Perros’ face. In its place appeared just as high of a level of impatience as Sherles had. “Ugh, I can see where this is going… It’s late at night; I’m not in much of a mood to hear another one of your complaints on how understaffed Pyrite Town is.”

Despite the restraint that Sherles had been using, he was clearly becoming angry over Perros’ comments. His last one especially seemed to strike a chord with Sherles. For as long as Eldes could remember, Sherles served as the chief of the police force in Pyrite Town. But there wasn’t truly much of a “force” in Pyrite to begin with. Eldes believe that the most at one time was less than a dozen officers serving in that area. With that knowledge, it was no wonder that crime was so rampant in that city to the point where it overtook any kind of law at all.

Pyrite Town was the prime example of how understaffed the police was, but it wasn’t the only one. All of the other towns in Orre had the same situation, even if it wasn’t extreme. As a matter of fact, most of the overall police force in Orre worked in the prisons, guarding the criminals that had already been caught.

“Also, what’s the deal with this inmate of yours?” Sherles said suddenly, breaking Eldes’ train of thought. He gave a quick glare at Eldes as he spoke. Eldes knew that Sherles wasn’t a bad person, but it still unnerved him a little.

Perro, however, wasn’t fazed in the slightest. “Oh, him. He’s just on an assignment I gave him. I made a deal with him that-”

“You let him go?!” Sherles interrupted Perro mid-sentence, all restraint shattering, “You’re telling me that you’re letting someone that isn’t supposed to be out of prison for another ten years walk around Orre completely free?!”

“Oh relax. He’s only off for a month.” Perro dismissed Sherles’ comment impatiently.

“One month is all that it takes! Someone like him doesn’t need a lot of time to chase chaos!” Sherles’ voice began to rise as he grew more and more fed up with Perros’ decision. His expression turned into a full-out scowl, not bothering to hide anything. It seemed like the last few things the warden said finally made the chief snap.

Eldes listened and watched the argument unfold, the two men talking about him like he wasn’t even there. Still, Eldes did have to agree with Sherles. Perros’ plan to have the Orre public off Eldes was too risky and extraneous, even in Eldes’ own mind. He himself had no intentions to cause the “chaos” that Sherles spoke of. But if it had been someone like Greevil in Eldes place like Perro originally wanted, one month would be ample time to truly cause a lot of damage.

Perro, however, was just as stubborn as Eldes had always known he was. It seemed like what Sherles had tried to get to him went in one ear and right out the other; Perro made it clear that he wasn’t going to listen to any of it. Instead, he simply ignored Sherles, with a scowl on his face, and turned back to Eldes.

“Anyways, about those criminals you brought in. Miror B. was a Cipher Admin back during the first Shadow Incident and his two henchmen served under him as peons at that time. However, they left Cipher years ago. And I remember very clearly telling you that I wanted somebody from Cipher that was a member when the second Shadow Incident occurred,” Perro gave out a chuckle and patted Eldes on the shoulder, much to his discomfort, “Sorry. Try again.”

Standing near both Eldes and Perro was Michael, swiveling his head at both of them. His expression suggested that he was completely lost over the matter. “Um, hi? Mind explaining what on earth is going on?!”

For the first time that night, Perro gave Michael some kind of form of acknowledgement. But even that was just a slight turn of his head in Michaels’ direction. After that, Perro continued to pay Michael no heed.

“So… Let me get this straight.” Michael began, trying to make sense of what he had heard. He pointed at Perro first, and then Eldes. “You’re saying that the bullcrap he was spouting earlier today was true?!”

Eldes was about to confirm what he had been trying to tell Michael earlier, but Perro quickly did the job instead, although not quite the way Eldes would have put it, “Ha! Bragging about your freedom already, are you?”

For once, Michael had nothing to say in response. He stood there utterly astounded and confused. Michael stared at the two men for a while, both shocked and unimpressed.

Perro began to turn around. “Well, seeing as how I pretty much found out everything I wanted to know, I’m done here. You can handle those three criminals on your own, Chief; they don’t interest me in the slightest.” Appearing completely bored with the current situation, Perro decided that he had enough and was starting to head for the exit.

Perro, however, didn’t get very far. All of a sudden the elevator doors opened up behind Eldes, letting out two police officers. Both wore the standard uniform, a blue jacket with a yellow ribbon tied around their neck, as well as a rather tall hat. The officers looked rather young and inexperienced to Eldes. They stumbled out frantically, as if they were in a state of alarm. The two anxiously and quickly surveyed the area before turning to Sherles. “Did you see them Chief?! Did they come through here?!”

“Did I see who? What’s going on?” Sherles asked, perplexed. He looked his two officers over, noticing what Eldes had noticed just a few seconds prior. One of the officers had a fresh black eye, while the other staggered somewhat while holding his side. “You two are injured; what happened?”


21st June 2010, 7:33 PM
Both of them grit their teeth at being reminded of their injuries. The one with the black eye was first to explain the situation through his clenched teeth, “The three criminals that we were interoggating escaped! We’ve looked all through the building! If they didn’t come through here, then they must’ve used the other exit!”

“What?! They escaped?! How?!” Anger was welling up again in Sherles at the officers’ news. After dealing with so much frustration from Perro, there wasn’t much more restraint that he had left to use.

The officer with the black eye spoke up again, “I was trying to get something out of that one henchman that wouldn’t talk. His partner starting yelling at me about how I better not touch him and that I would, ‘be in a world of hurt’ if I did.”

“So you touched him.”

“No! I mean, I got close to him, but I didn’t touch him in the slightest! His partner flipped out on me and punched me in the face! While I was down, they made a run for it!”

After the first officer was done, the second one gave his part of the story, all while trying to hide the pain in his voice, “I heard the commotion going on in the other room, so I went to go check what it was. When I had my back turned, Miror B. went and kicked me into the wall. When I came to, he was long gone.”

“Humph. Well isn’t that wonderful, Sherles? Your officers can’t handle so much as a small bunch of petty thieves.” Perro scoffed at the officers’ story. Eldes read in his voice that he found the situation somewhat humorous.

“That’s enough! You said you were going to leave, so just do so!” Sherles was already completely tired of Perros’ arrogance and disrespect, and his latest insult only incited him further.

It seemed like nothing Sherles said or the way he said it made Perro take him seriously. All in said in response in his usual condescending tone before walking away was, “Fine. Have fun.”

Once Perro had gone through the lobby doors, Sherles let out a sigh; he almost sounded relieved. He turned his attention back to the three escapees and addressed his two officers, “Both of you search the parameter of the building. If they’re still nearby, try to apprehend them again. If not, at least try to find out which direction they went in.”

The two officers saluted to Sherles and rushed out of the building immediately, although they were still careful not to irritate their injuries.

Once the officers made a dash for the door and left, Michael, who was still recovering from the shock he experience earlier, spoke up rather quietly, “Do… Do you want me to try to find them?”

Sherles took a deep breath and leaned up against the wall, as if he was considering Michaels’ proposal for the moment. However, Sherles eventually shook his head at Michael. “Thank you, but…” He paused for a moment to give another sigh, “Do you know the three that escaped?”

“Unfortunately.” Michael groaned.

“We’ve been having trouble with those three for a long time. In Miror B.s’ case, most of the issues we’ve had with him were back when he was an Admin on Cipher. For the past few years, he’s been laying low and surprisingly quiet in terms of criminal activity. Up until now, very few officers around the region have even seen him ever since he left Cipher. Though, I don’t believe for a second he’s kept his hands clean.”

“His two henchmen, Trudly and Folly, are a different story. They don’t make much of an effort to hide the fact that they’re causing trouble. Up until about sometime last year, they lived in Pyrite Town for around seven to eight years. We’ve been trying to catch them ever since then, but they’d always slip away. Once they’re out of your sight, you can pretty much give up on catching them. That’s why even though I sent those two men of mine out to look for them, I doubt they’ll find them. Truthfully, the only thing we can do is wait until they show their faces and then catch them when they do.”

Michael dipped his head down slightly, apparently just as uncomfortable with not being able to do anything as Sherles was.

All three of them stood there without saying anything for a while. It felt rather awkward for Eldes, standing between two people that were both agitated at the moment and incredibly distrustful of him. Eldes had not been inside of the Lab for six years and he truly didn’t want to leave. If it was up to him and the circumstances allowed it, he would stay there for as long as he could. But with apprehension and dislike being the popular opinion of him around the building, Eldes thought that staying in Lab for much longer couldn’t yield any positive results. “I… believe that I’ve overstayed my welcome…”

Michael looked fiercely at Eldes and growled, “You weren’t welcome to begin with.”

Eldes managed not to flinch at Michaels’ comment. He could only take his insults so many times and be affected by them. Instead, he bowed his head and started to back up. “I should be leaving. I’m sorry if I caused any trouble.”

Both Sherles and Michael stared at him intently as Eldes backed up. They clearly weren’t comfortable with letting him go. Michaels’ vicious stare and Sherles’ stern look gave Eldes the impression that they wanted to do something, but something was preventing them. Even Autumn, who had been guarding him the entire time, was remaining still. He wasn’t sure if what Perro said earlier had affected them or not, but it still made Eldes feel uneasy, regardless.

He knew that he was dealing with a double-edged sword. If Eldes stayed, the Lab would eventually grow even more wary of him than they already were. He was sure that no one, especially Michael, would feel comfortable with him being in the same building as them. But as Eldes walked towards the doors, he heightened his senses, expecting something to happen soon. While he couldn’t imagine Michael letting Eldes stay, he couldn’t see him letting him leave very easily either. Despite his nervousness that he was holding inside him at having his back turned, Eldes tried to move as calmly and non-threateningly as he possibly could. He didn’t want to invoke a reaction from Michael, but he also stayed on guard to be ready to react if he did anyways.

To his surprise, Eldes managed to make it to the door without incident. He still didn’t feel safe, however, and took a quick glance behind him. He saw Michael and Sherles standing in the same position they were in just a few seconds ago. Feeling less anxious, but still on guard, Eldes activated the sensors that allowed the doors to slide open and walked out.

It had grown quite dark since Eldes first arrived at the Lab. The sky was clear, with the stars and the moon shining up above without many clouds obscuring them. With the exception of the fountain in front of Eldes running, the night was quiet as well. There wasn’t much of a breeze to rattle the trees with, and the forest was normally quiet anyway. As Eldes walked down the brick path next to the Lab, the area was silent enough that he could hear his own footsteps.

Eldes made it down to the dirt path that he arrived on. There was the road straight ahead that was made for larger vehicles, but Eldes turned to the narrower path leading straight into the forest instead. He figured that he would have less of a chance of running into someone at that time of night on that path than if he went on the other one, where cars and trucks were more likely to pass by.

He started to head to the forest path, but suddenly froze in place. Eldes heard the distinct sound of shoes walking on bricks behind him just a moment ago and now Eldes had the strong sensation that someone was behind him. He turned his head and saw that he was right; Michael stood there behind Eldes with his arms crossed. He stared him down, not looking like he was about to pull anything violent, but he didn’t look like he was going to let Eldes leave as easily as he thought either.

Michael snorted, unimpressed and not in a good mood. When he spoke, his tone was not as brash and loud as it was earlier, but it was still filled with spite, “What that guy said back there, about everything you told me being true… To be honest, I really don’t give a crap.”

Michael paused for a moment. Eldes turned around completely to face Michael as he took a deep breath and continued, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I. Don’t. Trust you. That idiot might believe that you’re harmless, but I don’t. People like you don’t redeem themselves. You’re mistaken if you think I’m going to let you walk around scot-free, and then end up doing something disastrous. I’m not going to sit around and let that happen. And if I have to follow you around all month just to keep you from doing that, then I will.”

The thought of Michael following Eldes around for an entire month, watching him closely with his distrustful eyes, didn’t do anything to ease Eldes nerves at all. Eldes would have loved to spend time with Michael again, but this wasn’t exactly how he would have preferred to go about it.

“I suppose I don’t have any say over the matter…” Eldes sighed, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to convince Michael otherwise, “Very well. I’ve said that I don’t intend to cause any trouble, but you don’t seem to believe my words.”

“So you think that you’re going to convince me with actions, huh?” Michael laughed humorlessly, “The only reason you’re not going to cause trouble is because I’ll make sure you won’t.”

With that, Michael turned his back on Eldes and walked back into the Lab. Eldes was a bit surprised he would do that after just getting done talking about how he would keep an eye on him, but he knew better than to underestimate him. Eldes was certain that Michael had something planned.

Eldes went on his way into the forest, no less nervous than he was when he left the Lab.

* * *

Michael paced around in the small dining area in front of his room. Autumn was right at his heels, following him as he went back and forth. I don’t like this. I don’t like this…

A lot was still sinking its way through his head. He just couldn’t comprehend that what Eldes told him about being temporarily let out from prison was true. Michael was almost certain that was just a lie to attempt to make Michael feel less wary of him. However, even finding out it wasn’t a lie didn’t increase his trust in Eldes a bit.

Michael was starting to think that perhaps he shouldn’t have let him leave. Michael was more than willing to keep an eye on Eldes and keep him from repeating his crimes, but there wasn’t much he could do at night. How was he going to explain that to Lily? Was he going to go up to her and say, “Hey Mom, can I go and stalk a convicted criminal for thirty nights and days?” Truth be told, Michael feared his mothers’ wrath more than he did Eldes’.

Still, he didn’t feel good leaving Eldes alone all night. Knowing him, he would probably try to pull something while Michael had his back turned. Even if Michael caught up to him early in the morning, Eldes still had more than enough time to stir up trouble.

But how was he going to get around this? He needed some way to prevent Eldes from doing anything, but how?

Michael happened to glance into his room, where he saw that the speech he gave earlier that day was spoken to a brick wall, as Eklei was staring with great interest at Michaels’ computer. Instead of being angry as usual, a wide grin formed on Michaels’ face as an idea popped into his head. “Eklei!”

Still smiling, Michael ran into his room. Eklei didn’t take notice of him at first as he was completely fixated on what was on the screen. “Wow… When they say ‘no exceptions’, they really mean it!”

Trying his best to ignore what Eklei was looking at, Michael cheerfully walked up to Eklei and put his arm around him. “Eklei! Buddy! Pal! Friend! Let’s play a game!”
Without the slightest hesitation, Eklei spun around excitedly the moment Michael got done speaking. “A game?! I love games! What kind of game?”

“It’s called, ‘Watch the guy I don’t trust and make sure he doesn’t do anything’!” Michael happily told him, making sure to keep his tone as cheery as possible.
“I’ve never heard of that game before! How do you play?” Eklei was falling straight into Michaels’ plan as he eagerly went along.

“First, you have to find that red-haired guy we saw earlier today. He shouldn’t be too far away, so that probably won’t be too hard. Then, you have to watch him until I come by in the morning and make sure that he doesn’t do anything bad. If you do that, you win! But if he does do something bad, you can beat the ever-loving crap out of him!” Michael explained to Eklei what he wanted to do and desperately hoped that it would work.

However, Michael was starting to see a bit of doubt in Eklei. His rocky eyelid lowered as he said less enthusiastically, “Oh. Uh, are you sure this is a fun game? It doesn’t sound very fun…”

Michael quickly tried to alleviate Ekleis’ potential boredom, waving his hands nervously as he did so. “Oh, it is! Trust me! It’s very fun!”

It didn’t seem to take a lot to convince Eklei of that, as he immediately took Michaels’ word for it. “Okay! I’ll do my best to win!” After saying that, Eklei swiftly floated out the room. Michael followed him briefly and watched him leave the Lab and speed off into the forest.

As Eklei disappeared from view, Michael heard a small whine come from Autumn below him. Michael patted her head to calm her down and said, “Don’t worry about him. Remember how much trouble he gave against Eldes when we fought him? He’ll be fine.”

Michael felt a little more relieved knowing that Eklei was taking care of things. Even though he acted like a pest half the time, Michael would not have put him on his team if he wasn’t reliable and strong.

He may have felt better for the moment, but Michael knew well that he was probably going to be anxious again come morning. Michael was certain that Eklei could handle it for the night, but he needed to take it off of his shoulders as soon as he could tomorrow. Michael just couldn’t feel completely comfortable unless he was taking care of such things directly.

* * *

Eldes rested his head on Dasns’ side. The Flygon curled his tail and neck around Eldes both affectionately and protectively. Ria also took it upon herself to rest on Eldes shoulder as she prepared to fall asleep as well. The initial excitement that they felt yesterday over seeing Eldes again still didn’t fade much. They seemed bound and determined not to let Eldes disappear from their lives again.

Eldes was far enough away from the road so that anyone happening to pass through wouldn’t notice him easily, but also close enough to not to get lost in the woods. He was a fair distance from the Lab and had gone as far as he could in a short amount of time. All the events that went on during the day had tired Eldes out.

He never thought that he would be so eager to leave the Lab. He had hoped in his dreams that his return would carry a more accepting atmosphere. Of course, those were just dreams, and Eldes was forced to accept that. He wanted to believe that the next time he went to the Lab things will be better. But in order to think of that while being realistic, there needed to be a certainty of a next time.

Then there was the matter of Michael. He said that he would make sure that Eldes didn’t attempt anything, even if he needed to watch him to do so. Michael has always been rather headstrong and motivated; he was the kind of person that would follow through on that promise. Even if the entire month passed and Eldes proved that he wasn’t out to cause trouble, he doubted that would change Michaels’ view of him. The best he could hope for was to grin and bear it and do his best not to cause any incidents.

So much running through his head… Eldes quickly realized that it would be another sleepless night. He tried not to think of all the stress, but he wasn’t sure how well that would work. Regardless, he closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would come soon enough.

“Yay! I found you!”

The sudden voice caused Eldes’ eyes to snap open. When he did, he was greeted with a pair of huge, glowing red eyes hovering above him. Eldes jolted and gave a short shout at the sight, which startled Dasn and Ria awake as well.

Dasn was calm enough to stand his ground and simply snort defensively at the pair of eyes, but Ria wasn’t as mild as him. She immediately readied her claws and was about to lunge at whatever jumped her, but Eldes quickly stopped her.

“Wait, Ria.” Eldes held his hand in front of the Ninjask and managed to calm her temporarily. He then turned back to the floating eyes, which still gave him a chill when looking at them in the dark. “You’re Eklei… Correct?”

“Yup! And you’re the cross-dresser!” Eklei loudly declared. His voice echoed in the forest, enough so that Eldes became slightly nervous that anybody nearby would pick up on his location.

He ignored that sentiment and being called a cross-dresser for the moment, however. “What are you doing here?”

“Me and Michael are playing a game,” Eklei replied, “To win, I have to watch you all night. Oh, and I’m going to have to beat you up if you do anything bad. Is that okay with you?”

“Not really…” Eldes said, trying to hide the fact that Ekleis’ cheerful tone while saying that he might attack him bothered him somewhat, “We’re not going to do much of anything.”

Eldes’ last comment told both Dasn and Ria not to retaliate against Eklei, much to Rias’ displeasure. Besides, Eldes could remember that during his and Michaels’ battle, both Dasn and Ria were at a disadvantage against Eklei. It probably would not do much good to attack him anyways.

Luckily for Eldes, Eklei didn’t seem to be that eager to fight. Instead, he continued levitating in place as he happily said, “Okay! In that case, I’ll just watch you sleep now.”

Eldes’ eyes widened at what Eklei had just said. “That disturbs me. Greatly.” He backed up a little closer to Dasn, and tried to remain collected as he could. “I wasn’t expecting to sleep much anyways…”

“Alright then! We got more than eight hours to kill, so what to do you want to do?” Eklei asked. Eldes was about to suggest being quiet for the rest of the night, but Eklei quickly cut him off, “Ooh! I know! Let’s talk! I love talking!”

“Uh, actually, I would rather prefer to-”

“Speaking of talking, a lot of humans are usually surprised to hear me talk. I don’t see what the big deal is; humans do it all the time. You think that they wouldn’t be shocked to hear a Pokémon talk just like them, but they do. It’s not hard or anything. Lots of Lunatone do it too. I heard that other Pokemon can talk too. But most can’t. I don’t get that. Are they stupid or something? It’s a mystery. You know what else is a mystery? I heard that two really different Pokémon can breed with each other. Is that true? It seems really strange for something like a whale and a cat…”

Eklei continued to branch off from there. Eldes tried to drown out the continuous noise, but there wasn’t much success. If Eldes already didn’t have enough going through his mind preventing him from sleeping, this cemented that he wasn’t going to be able to that night. He wanted to believe he would only have to deal with this for one night, but he soon realized that Michael would probably rely on his Pokémon to watch him in his place from that point on.

It was going to be a long month.

I apologize for not much happening in this chapter. It's also one of the shortest chapters I've written in a while. Well, it's short compared to the thirty-page behemoths that made up the last few chapters.

Like Roy, I didn't plan for the warden to have a name either. But then I got to thinking, and eventually decided to give him one.

17th August 2010, 4:45 AM
I did not procrastinate on TBTB! It's not true! It's bullcrap! I did not procrastinate! I did naaaht. Oh hi, SPPF.

Yep, I seem to be getting back on track with my "One chapter per two months" routine! Well, not that it's very good in itself, but it's still a lot better than once per year I suppose.

Be warned as this chapter contains swearing and violence. That being said, here's Chapter Twelve!

Chapter Twelve: Fools' Gold

"C'mon! Keep runnin'!"

"I… I'm gettin' tired…"

"I know! Just push it for a little longer!"

The sound of leaves and pine needles crunching beneath their feet dominated everything that Folly was hearing for the past thirty minutes. He didn't know where he was anymore, but he wasn't sure Trudly did either. Ever since they left the Lab, the only destination was, "away".

Folly fully expected having to do this at some point during the night. Neither he nor Trudly were about to let themselves get thrown into jail that easily. However, he didn't quite expect what happened at the Lab to be their escape method.

Although he was sure that escape wasn't the first thing on Trudlys' mind when he punched that officer out. Not that Folly was complaining that Trudly was being protective as usual. Back at the Lab, the officer that was interrogating them had gotten far too close to Folly for his own comfort. Folly couldn't stand it when people got within arms reach of him and broke his sense of personal space. As close as that officer had gotten, any closer would have thrown Folly into a complete panic. And if Trudly hadn't punched him when he did, that was exactly would have happened. It did provide a way for the two to escape, but Folly was certain that wasn't Trudlys' intent.

He couldn't stop. Folly couldn't be the reason that they would get caught. Trudly had already slowed down considerably from his usual speed because of him; Folly couldn't slow him down even more.

But his leg… his left leg had been throbbing for the past few minutes. He was forcing it to move despite it feeling like someone was constantly pounding it with a hammer. Folly tried gritting his teeth and pushing forward, but he soon found out that he just wasn't that strong-willed.

The night was cool, but Follys' face was soaked with sweat. His breathing was heavy and ragged as he began to drag his leg behind him. He clamped his eyes shut and was finally forced to relent to the searing pain.

He released the shout that he had been holding in and stumbled over to the nearest tree. He slid down to the ground and propped himself against the trunk. "Tr…Trudly… I can't… I can't run anymore…"

When Folly managed to pry his eyes open, he saw Trudly walk towards him. Even though he was in such a hurry just a few minutes prior, he didn't seem angry or impatient. "It's alright. We got pretty far; ya did a good job."

The two of them remained silent as Folly rested. Trudly didn't sit down and instead opted to stay on his feet. He seemed to be scanning the forest, cautiously watching for any threats.

After quite some time had passed, Trudly moved from his position. He walked behind the tree that Folly was sitting at. Folly tried to see what Trudly was doing, but he couldn't turn his head far enough. Eventually Trudly came back within sight and knelt down next to him. He held in his hand a tall stick, reaching up to his shoulder. He spoke up, albeit quietly, "How are ya feelin'? Can ya move?"

Folly immediately caught what Trudly meant; he wanted to keep moving. He wasn't too thrilled about that prospect. His leg wasn't in pain as much as it was earlier, but it was still stinging and Folly didn't feel confident putting pressure on it.

But Folly thought about it. If he said no, what would happen? What if they got caught? It would be his entire fault. How could he live with that? He was already a big enough burden to Trudly and he didn't want to make it even worse.

With those thoughts in his mind, Folly just couldn't disappoint Trudly. He tried to force himself to have more resolve, and took a hold of the stick. He stood it up straight as he used it to pull himself up. His arms shook as his legs wobbled and struggled to get his footing. Once he managed to stand -albeit in an unsteady manner- he shifted the stick over to his left side. Folly slowly lifted his leg up and tried to use the stick as a temporary substitute.

It took a little while to get used to it, but Folly eventually adapted himself to walk with the stick. It was still rather uncomfortable, having to hobble around with his leg folded up; he didn't think he would be able to walk like that for too long.

"Take it slow, and if ya start to get tired, tell me." Trudly calmly told Folly as he himself began to get ready to move.

Folly tried to move along with Trudly, but still found himself unsteady and struggling to keep himself standing. As he quivered while trying to walk, he saw Trudly make a motion with his hand, like he was about to reach out to Folly. Folly was well aware that he was just trying to help, but he still couldn't help but tense up as his hand came closer. Trudly saw this, quickly withdrawing his arm the moment he noticed discomfort growing in Folly.

Folly heard a small sigh come from Trudly as he turned back into the direction they were originally heading in, "Try to look for somewhere we can hide for the night. I don't wanna be out in the open with a bunch of cops lookin' for us."

Folly's leg wasn't burning up like before, but it still stung enough to make him cringe every few minutes. Nevertheless, he tried to fight the pain back and mask it from showing up in his expressions. He managed to bring forth a weak smile and a raspy laugh, "I think you're givin' 'em too much credit…"

Trudly turned his head towards Folly, where he could see a smile forming on his face as well. It was weak like Follys', but still somewhat stronger and accompanied by a small chuckle, "Probably."

With that, Trudly began to press forward, with Folly trailing behind. Folly staggered for a bit, moving as fast as he could with a crutch, as well as to keep within his limits. Trudly took notice and eventually slowed down enough so that they were only a few inches short of standing side by side.
At such a slow pace, it became apparent that the level of urgency that the two of them felt had died down. Regardless, their senses were still heightened. They knew better than to let their guard down, especially when they knew that someone was likely looking for them. This wasn't the first time they had been in this kind of situation, and had developed a permanent sense of apprehension as a result. They watched every movement in the woods intently, and their heads swiveled at the slightest sound.

Folly kept his guard up just as much as Trudly, but he also diverted a small bit of his attention to anything that he could perceive as shelter. He kept an eye out for anything, whether it was a tree with low-hanging branches, an abandoned bridge, or even a bunch of large bushes. Folly constantly looked to both his left and right, searching for such a place to stay. At one point, he glanced through the trees and caught a glimpse of something. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but when he stared at it and took a harder look, he could almost make out the wooden side of a house.

"Trudly!" He whispered quiet enough not to alert anybody following them, but still loud enough to grab Trudlys' attention. Once Trudly turned around, he pointed his finger in the direction of the wall. Trudly stared at it for much longer than Folly did earlier, a little unsure. A bit apprehensive, Trudly walked past Folly and made a wide turn, giving the house plenty of distance. He slowly approached the house while remaining concealed by the trees. Trudly held up his hand slightly with his index finger sticking out and pulled it towards him repeatedly, motioning for Folly to come closer.

They ran from tree to tree, gradually getting closer without letting anybody that was possibly nearby see them. Eventually, they reached the last line of trees where the boundary of the clearing stood. Both of them peered from behind the trees they were using to hide behind. Folly got a better look at the house; he saw that the place had fallen into disrepair. The spots of grass that managed to grow among the several bare spots had grown waist-high, as if it hadn't been cut in a long time. Several shingles on the roof had fallen off, and a few planks on the walls were split and broken. The windows were cracked and had several gaps. The glass that still remained was dirty, making it futile to try to look through them. Every little detail about the house wasn't even trying to hide its vacancy; it was just so obvious to Folly that no one had lived there in a long time.

Still, Trudly was cautious about the whole thing. He held his palm to Folly, telling him to stay put for the moment. Folly watched Trudly inch up to the house, heading first towards one of the walls. He edged along the side and sneaked up to one of the windows. Trudly only revealed a small portion of his face as he peeked inside the building through one of the gaps in the glass. He moved from that spot after a while and then slowly approached the door. The door was already partially unhinged, so Trudly didn't have to put in much effort to be able to see inside.

After a while, Folly saw Trudly turn around to face him, not bothering with stealth anymore. "Ya can come over here, now! It's abandoned!"

Folly thought as much, but he was still glad to finally be able to let go of the anxiousness he had all night. Relieved at the promise of rest, he hobbled over to Trudly and the front door of the house. Trudly opened the door the rest of the way, nearly causing it to completely break off, and entered after Folly went through.

The inside wasn't much better than the exterior. It was a single-room house, but it was still absurdly small. Not a single piece of furniture or anything that suggested previous human habitation was present. The very first step that Folly took caused dust to fly up into the air and eventually in his face. Worse, his movements caused the floor to squeak loudly, as if it about to collapse at any given moment. The only thing the house was missing was an infestation of small Pokémon; which Folly had to admit, was one of the few pros of living in Orre. Regardless, there was nothing about the house that made Folly feel comfortable. For his own safety, he deeply hoped that this would be the first and only time they stayed there.

Trudly was apparently thinking the same thing, as he scanned the room with an unimpressed look on his face. They were used to dirty environments and abandoned buildings, but that didn't mean they had to like it. He huffed, not too pleased with what they were stuck with, "Looks like nobody's lived here for ages."

More dust shot up into Follys' face as he walked further. Sneezing several times as the dust irritated his nose, Folly moaned in response, "I guess…"

While Folly still wasn't too thrilled with the fact that the house felt like it was going to topple over at any moment, it was still a roof over their heads. He forced himself to ignore all of the massive shortcomings the house had and instead was glad that he could take it easy for a little while.

Finally being able to rest came as a great comfort to him. The moment he reached the middle of the room, he slowly lowered himself to the floor, threw aside the walking stick, and laid on the floor. The bare floor wasn't very relaxing, nor was the layers of dust directly making contact with his skin, but he was simply too exhausted to care. With all that had happened in the past few hours, it didn't take long for him to drift off at all.

* * *

It was dark.

There was nothing; nothing all around him. He couldn't see a thing. There was just an empty, endless void in front of him. Folly held his hands out, but they were completely invisible. He could feel them and he could feel the rest of his body, but the darkness swallowed up any visual evidence that he was even there. There seemed to be no choice, no other option. He was forced to wander aimlessly, not knowing where he was or where he was going.

The absence of sight allowed him to dwell on the things that weren't physical, mainly his emotions, which were dominated by fear. It was always there, but the blackness only amplified it. Darkness brought terror, and it also brought coldness. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to quell his shivering. He searched the blank horizon desperately for even the slightest bit of light.

Suddenly, he found that his hopes were granted, but in the oddest way. His entire body became illuminated. Folly held out his hands again and could see them in full detail this time. He looked himself over and saw that the rest of his body was fully visible again.

But he seemed to be the only thing he could see. He searched the surrounding area again, and still found nothing. Even the ground right at Follys' feet was black and featureless. Folly lifted his head and looked above; there was no light source or anything shining above him. He was just one visible feature with a black background.

It didn't put Folly at ease at the slightest. He took a deep, quivering breath, and continued to press forward. He still searched for something or somewhere he could see. But as the time passed with no results, his sense of hope was becoming invisible as well.

You're lost.

Folly froze. That voice… that voice echoed in the inky darkness and resonated in his head. He recognized it. He was already scared, but that sound took a hold of any ounce of fear in him that had adamantly refused to show itself, yanked it out, and then firmly placed it in his face. The trembling only intensified and his breath grew even shallower. His first instinct was to lock up all together, but the terror forcing its way through him caused him to switch his second instinct. He forced himself to move, against everything else in his mind and body trying otherwise. His quickened his pace, at the same time spinning around frantically and desperately trying to locate the source of the voice.

He couldn't find it.

You're lost.

But it was still there.

The voice hissed at him, it's dark tone whispering vile words about its intent. Hatred, anger, bloodlust… it was all present, and all of it caused Follys' instincts to scream in response, urging their holder to do one thing: escape.

Without another thought or inkling of hesitation, his fast walking transformed into a full-blown sprint. He ran blindly in the opposite direction of where he heard the voice. His mind locked onto that one command to run. He didn't look back and he didn't slow down; he just ran as fast as his body would allow before it would collapse altogether. He had to fight the fear, lest he wanted more to spawn from the darkness as a result of slowing down. He could never stop, no matter how tired he grew.

Nowhere to run.

He clamped his eyes shut. His legs began to move even faster.

Nowhere to hide.

Folly broke out into a cold sweat. His entire body shook at both the icy atmosphere and voice. His panting quickly transformed into desperate, terrified cries.

Suddenly and without any warning, he felt his entire body stop against his will. He tried to move, but it was of no use. He could feel something wrap around him, gripping him tightly. Folly felt the crushing presence throw all of his senses into a panic. His breath grew even more erratic, his sight became disoriented, and every pore of his body felt like it was being stabbed solely by the feel of the monstrous aura.

It was all so familiar. And that was what terrified him the most.

His mind, already in pieces from the dread he felt, shattered even further. He didn't care where he was, or how he got there. The strangeness and oddities of his surroundings was of no concern to him anymore. All that he could see and think about was pure fear. His actions became wild and uncontrollable, impervious to any sense of reason or thought. Folly screeched and flung his fists madly. He bit, kicked, punched, and did everything his instincts and body would allow him. "NO! NO! STOP!"

None of it did any good.

You're weak.

The presence gripped him even tighter as it lifted Folly up in the air. He flailed and struggled even more, not even thinking about how useless it was. He knew what was coming. He tried to do anything he could to stop it. But that small glimmer of conscious thought buried in his panic told him that there was nothing he could do.

The presence pulled back swiftly and then swung forward, letting go of Folly. He was hurled across the landscape before smashing into the ground. He could feel the force of the impact shoot through his body, cracking and destroying any bone it could find. As his insides took the blow as well, he felt a gob of blood make its way through his throat before forcing him to cough it out, causing it to splatter all over the ground. The burning, scathing pain was too much to bear; he couldn't move. He lay there motionless and limp. Part of him wanted to clench his fists, grit his teeth, and cry out to the black sky, all in an attempt to ease the pain. There was no physical ability to command his body, nor was there any will too.

Suddenly, amidst the searing pain, he felt something splash on him. It felt almost like… raindrops. It managed to pull him out of the dim, feeble state he was in somewhat. He gathered up what he could salvage of any strength he had left, and shakily stretched out his bruised hand. Holding it in place was a chore in itself, and once he managed to catch a drop, he pulled it back within his blurry eyesight.

The drop was red.

You're worthless.

Folly had no time to react. The presence, still invisible and indescribable, slammed into Folly, grinding him into the ground. The enormous pressure stomped onto him, causing another massive surge of pain. His already broken bones shattered even further, and his insides felt like they were close to rupturing. His entire body was on the brink of completely breaking. The blood welled up in his mouth again, this time at greater frequencies and amount. The moment the blood from his mouth hit the ground more drops fell from the sky.

He tried, desperately, to hold onto that bit of will that he found earlier. But it was nowhere near enough to do any good. It was hopeless. Nothing he could do meant anything. Everything he did was fruitless. That small part of him attempted to deny it even further, despite the rest of him knowing better. He opened up his reddened mouth again and pulled out every last ounce of strength he could muster. "STOP! STOP!"

Another impact came, along with another series of raindrops.


No one is going to help you…

The presence lifted Follys' broken and limp body again, and then threw him back against the ground.

…because no one cares about you.

The impact came again.


And again.


And again.


It began to pour.

Why aren't you dead yet?



A voice… A voice, different and free of malice, suddenly pierced through the darkness. It reached Folly briefly, silencing his shouts. But it was only for a brief moment, as the voice was quickly drowned out by his shrieks.


* * *


"Folly! Folly!"

Follys' eyes jolted open and his screaming stopped. He caught a brief glimpse of his surroundings, which was much different than the one he in was in just a few moments ago. He saw the splintered, creaky floors and walls of the house, and the moonlight peaking through the broken windows. For that slight moment, there was an air of calmness, with the only sound being his breath.

But then those previous images and senses flashed through his mind. He shut his eyes, yet he could see it all again; it was as if he actually there once more. The darkness, the rain, and the presence… He could see himself, limp and barely holding onto life, awaiting the next round and begging for mercy.

The silence was once again broken thoroughly with Follys' blood-curdling screams. His hands made their way to his shaking head, where his nails started to dig into his scalp. He feared pain so much, but at the same time he inflicted it on himself. Every image of what he just experienced was seared into his head, mocking him by throwing themselves right before his eyes. He just wanted to reach into the depths of his mind and tear those memories apart and make it all go away. His frantic efforts to forget caused him to thrash around, completely blind to what was around him. "PLEASE, NO! GO AWAY! STOP!"

"Folly! It's not real! Calm down!"

That voice… It reached him once again. This time, it pulled him back into reality enough for him to recognize the source. He grew quiet once more, and forced his eyes open. When his vision came into focus, he saw Trudly sitting in front of him. Folly realized it now; the voice he heard earlier was Trudly, using his own desperate cries to call Folly and snap him out of his bouts of insanity. Trudlys' voice was loud enough for Folly to hear him over his own manic screams. But there was that tone of patience and concern in his pleas that began to disintegrate Follys' panic from the core.

Folly's heart was still pounding and his breathing was still rapid, but his yelling ceased. He let out a few trembling groans as he tried to block those images from slipping back into his mind. As those images would try to push further at him, the urge to scream came back, but the encouragement and softness he heard earlier gave him the extra resolve to fight back.

"That's it… That's it… It's okay. It was just a bad dream. You're gonna be okay." Trudly calmly and gently whispered to Folly, persuading him to settle down.

Trudlys' mere words were having an astonishing effect on Follys' behavior. His heavy breathing eased and the thrashing stopped. Earlier his body was shivering from the chills that the darkness dealt him, but now he felt his body feel somewhat warm and less tense. He was starting to become more aware of what was around him, instead of being grounded in his nightmare. The images were still there, but they were pushed into the back of his mind instead of threatening to dominate his thoughts. Just a few minutes ago, Folly felt that he was hanging by a very thin thread. Now Trudly had taken that thread and pulled Folly back into reality.

He now realized that the nightmare he was experiencing wasn't real. But he couldn't help but reflect and dwell on it, which reminded him of things that were real. He tried to block much more vivid memories from appearing in his head, but his attempts to so caused his negative emotions over the matter to show themselves. Folly felt his eyelashes catch the teardrops beginning to well up as he blinked. He had used up what little will and strength he had just to ward off his nightmare, and there wasn't any left to prevent him from crying. After countless nights with the same exact situation, Folly didn't even try to stop himself anymore.

Folly pulled his legs in and buried his head in his arms as they sat on his knees. The tears fell freely, without any restraint whatsoever. He couldn't help it anymore; he couldn't help but cry nor become completely terrified even after the nightmare was over. Fears both rational and irrational were able to overcome him very easily. While in reality he knew that he was safe for the moment, his warped and horrified inner thoughts told him otherwise.

The sobbing went on for quite some time. He didn't know exactly for how long, but he knew that a while passed before he finally settled down. Folly had plenty of time to reflect on the matter that was for certain. He shoved the thoughts that frightened him away, and instead focused on his own actions. He knew he was weak. It didn't take much to scare him, crying was absurdly easy, and he was always burdening Trudly with his problems. He was so susceptible to nightmares where he woke up screaming in the middle of the night, that he couldn't even give an accurate estimate of how many he has had. He hated it. He hated being worthless, and he hated being scared. But Follys' attempts to change it never did any good; sometimes they would just make things worse.

Folly lifted his head up and glanced over to where he last saw Trudly. He was still there, although lying down this time. Folly could tell that he was awake, though. His body was straight and his arms crossed as he stared straight at the ceiling. When he was asleep, Trudlys' position was far less rigid.

Follys' lips trembled a little, unsure whether or not to open his mouth. It wasn't just because of his subconscious urge to stay silent, but also because he wasn't quite sure what to say. He swallowed those feelings however, and whispered, "Trudly?"

He saw Trudly stir a little, moving his head to look at Folly. "Mm?"

Folly didn't answer for a moment. He still didn't know how to convey to Trudly what he had just mused about, and ended up blurting out whatever words he happened to grasp onto. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry? For what?"

"I…" Folly stammered a little, "I woke you up."

Trudly gave out a short laugh. Folly wasn't sure if he found what he just said funny or if he was laughing at the absurdity of what he just said. Nevertheless, Folly could feel his face turn warm, and he was sure it was also becoming quite red.

"Don't apologize for stuff like that. It ain't your fault. Besides, I'd rather ya wake me up then sleep through somethin' like that." Trudly replied, somewhat easing the redness in Folly's face. "And Folly?"

Still mainly focused on his own embarrassment over saying something so ridiculous, Trudlys' question caught Folly off guard a little. "Y-Yeah?"

"Don't feel like ya can't talk about somethin'. It won't do ya any good to keep stuff like that all pent up. And ya know I'm always here to listen."

Trudlys' words sank in a little. Yet, Folly still remained silent. He knew that he could talk to Trudly. He always knew that. Folly could always take comfort in telling Trudly what was on his mind, and know that he was listening. It had always been the same vice-versa as well. But somehow, Folly just couldn't find it in himself to talk at that moment.

For a long time, Folly was completely unable to open his mouth around other people. He could only feel comfortable talking while alone with Trudly. But he still experienced a bit of distress talking about certain things, mainly the same subjects that haunted Folly in his nightmares. That was the case at that moment, as he felt the urge to seal his mouth shut regardless of what he was just told.

Folly felt something touch his side all of a sudden. He nearly jumped, but had been pulled back from falling into another panic when he heard the soft muttering beside him. Folly looked down, and saw one of his Whismur holding on to him, as if it was trying to hug him as much as it could with its stubby arms. His other one toddled over and quickly followed suit. Folly couldn't tell either Whis or Mur apart from each other, as the moonlight wasn't nearly enough to do so. However, as tightly as those two held on to him, it really didn't matter much.

Folly didn't remember letting them out of their Poké Balls; he must have been too exhausted when they arrived at the house to think of it. The only thing Folly could think of was that Trudly let them out afterwords.

Regardless, Folly figured that Whis and Mur had kept their distance as usual when Folly's nightmare was slipping into real life, and were just coming back to him. Both his own Pokémon and Trudlys' knew better than to get near Folly while he was in such a state, unless they wanted to get hit in a fit of panic.

He picked the two Whismur up and placed them at his chest, hugging the two fluffy Pokémon almost like he would a stuffed toy. The Whismur in turn responded by cuddling up to him, quickly falling asleep. It did feel somewhat comforting to Folly, and almost therapeutic in a way. For a while, he had begun to forget about the reason why he was sitting up wide awake in the first place.

Still, he found it hard to go back to sleep. He felt scared to, knowing that the nightmares were just waiting for their chance to strike again. He was still so tired and exhausted, and he found out before long that his body was going to force him to sleep whether his mind liked it or not.

Before he did, he took another glimpse at Trudly. His position wasn't so rigid anymore, meaning that at least he had been able to fall asleep. Despite what Trudly said, Folly still felt somewhat bad for waking him up in the middle of the night all the time. He had to have gotten tired of it by now, being jolted awake by Folly's sudden screams. It never took Trudly that long to respond to them; it was almost like he was expecting it.

But the whole thing was kind of strange. Folly had known Trudly for a long time. He had always used to be such a heavy sleeper.

* * *

One year ago…

If someone was to poll the citizens of Orre where their ideal place to live would be, chances are Pyrite Town would be the very last thing they would say. There were a lot of nicknames for that town; "The Scum of Orre", "The Largest Slum in the World", and a rather popular one, "Hell". People in the other towns and cities loved to gossip about every horrid aspect that place had to offer. Rumors such as the con men being the tamest people you could find and that the obituaries took up half of the newspaper were quite widespread. A lot of those rumors were true, as a matter of fact.

One thing was for certain, though. Trudly and Folly fit right in.

They had been in many cities and towns over the course of their lives. In each of them, they would rob any store they found useful blind. All of the attempts to catch them failed spectacularly, and they would quickly become the bane of the market district. When they had experienced far too many close calls, they would simply pack up and jump to the next city.

But with Pyrite Town, a couple of petty thieves were the least of its problems. Sure, they were still rather infamous, but with so much worse people roaming the streets, a lot of the focus was taken off of them. That was a large part of the reason why they had been able to live there for almost eight years straight.

That didn't mean Folly had to like it, however. He liked quiet and small places, towns that were calm and sleepy. Pyrite Town, of course, was the farthest thing from that. He didn't know what woke him up, whether it was distant gunshots or the colorful language being shouted from the Duel Square. Whatever it was, it broke Folly from his sleep, which wasn't hard to do.

His vision was out of focus as his eyes strained to open, still wanting to rest. He fought that notion, however, and quickly sat up. Folly rubbed his crusty eyes as he tried to get his eyesight to clear up. It slowly came into focus, and he found himself having barely enough light to see the dirty and stained stone walls in front of him.

"Uggh… What time is it?" Folly groaned to himself, still half-asleep. He didn't even realize at first that he had spoken out loud, but it didn't really matter. He looked beside him and found Trudly sprawled out on the floor with Spook curled up on his back, completely dead to the world. Trudly usually didn't wake up for anything; someone could scream in his ear and he would just snore in response.

Folly allowed himself a few minutes to try to wake himself up. It wasn't easy, as almost all of him wanted to sleep more. Still, he had a reason to get up early, so he forced his body to stay awake as much as he possibly could.

Once Folly was about as awake as he was ever going to be, he gently moved aside the two Whismur cuddled up next to him and tiptoed over to the nearest window. He parted the rags they had been using as curtains, careful not to disturb Spitz as she slept in the middle of her web, and slightly poked his head out. Folly looked out at the dull town, colored almost exclusively with brown and gray. The older buildings, most of which were falling apart, were constructed with sandstone. The modern buildings in Pyrite Town, however, at least tried to keep up with the times and used metal instead. That attempt wasn't too successful, however, as most of the products looked hideous and appeared to be built out of scraps.

There wasn't any light peeking through the desert horizon, so that at least gave Folly somewhat of an idea of the time. Still, he strained his eyes to find one certain building out in the distance with a lit-up clock on it. He eventually found it, but he couldn't quite make it out clearly. Two… Three… Three o' clock?

Folly quickly gave up trying to figure it out and just settled on the fact that it was early. Trudly probably wouldn't be waking up for quite some time, and that was all that mattered. He took another look at him, still in the same exact, relaxed position, which only confirmed that fact.

It was settled, then. Seeing his opportunity, Folly silently inched out of the room that he and Trudly slept in. He knew that Trudly probably wouldn't hear him, but he just wanted to be safe. Once he was past the threshold, Folly quickened his pace, sharply made a turn around the nearest corner and entered the room nearby.

Their current dwelling was one of the old, two-story buildings in Pyrite Town, unique in that it was still in fairly good condition. That was relatively speaking, of course. There was no lighting, no electricity, no heating, no air conditioning, and no running water. Folly was used to living without all those things, though, so it didn't really bother him much.

The room he entered was what used to be the bathroom. The toilet, sink, and tub were still present, but none of them worked anymore. Therefore, Trudly usually ignored that room, as there was nothing useful in it. Folly knew that, which was why he chose it as his own personal workspace.
Folly reached into the tub, which was where he held all the little things he picked up over the years. Most of it was mechanical parts that he liked to fool around with when he was bored. What he was looking for, however, were the electrical parts that he stole a few months back. He gathered them all, including the small little box that was going to be the finished product.

He and Trudly usually lived alone with each other, but there was a third influence in their lives. A long time ago, they worked for Cipher under an admin named Miror B.. After a string of events that both he and Trudly would rather forget about, they were forced to leave Cipher for their own safety. Then a few years later, Miror B. came back into the picture, asking the two if they would form their own team with them. Miror B. was rather ecstatic about it, and spoke excitedly about ruling Orre and then the world by owning all its Pokémon. He promised food, a small sum of money, and an overall better quality of life, so naturally Folly and Trudly accepted.

Then again, they didn't so much work for him as they did hope to get lucky somehow and get rewards from their boss, which didn't happen too often. But still, Miror B. would always arrive completely unannounced in an overly flamboyant manner, startling Trudly and Folly half to death. Then they would have to sit through yet another lecture from him over being empty-handed as usual. They had no time to prepare and were always left in limbo over when they could expect Miror B. to show up.

Folly got to thinking, though. If they could have some way to know when Miror B. would be making his appearance, life could be so much simpler and quieter. He thought up a plan to make a simple radar and bug Miror B. with it, so that they could always have some idea where he was. Once he had settled on that idea, it took him a few months just to learn how to carry it out and then a few more to try to make it happen.

Now, he was so close to completing his plan. He just needed a few more hours to work on it, which was why he was so anxious to wake up early. He didn't get a lot of time to himself to make much progress, as he and Trudly were practically glued to each other for most of the day. Folly knew that it was nothing that Trudly would be upset over, but he still didn't tell him about it; he wanted it to be a surprise. He had already missed a golden opportunity to finish it before Trudlys' birthday about a month ago, so Folly was determined more than ever to finish it before long.

Among his possessions that he kept in the room was a flashlight, which he was forced to use with it still being so dark. It was barely working, as the light was starting to turn dim. That only slowed Folly's progress down, as he had to take a few moments to strain his eyes just to see what he was doing. Nevertheless, Folly eventually turned off the flashlight as the light from outside began to flood in. He didn't even realize it at first, as he had been so absorbed in his work that he lost track of the time.

After what he could only assume was a few hours of putting together the right parts, tweaking the programming, and fixing everything that prevented the radar from working properly, Folly sat up. He found himself in the red-tinted room, illuminated by the sunrise, looking down on his creation. He held the small, black receiver in one hand, and glanced over to the tiny antenna sitting a few feet away from him. It was done. After months of struggling to find the time to work on it and hours of frustration over failing to get it right several times, it was finally done.

He cracked a bit of a smile and was about to internally congratulate himself, but he stopped those notions from appearing too early. The way his luck worked, the moment he felt that he succeeded this time would cause it to fail as usual. He gulped, and then had his finger move its way over to the small switch on the side of the receiver. Hoping for the best and ready for the worst, he turned the radar on.


The shrill and high-pitched noise sent Folly jumping backwards, forced a yell out of him, and caused him to fling the radar up into the air. He was knocked into the wall behind him, startling him even more and increasing his already racing heartbeat.

But as he happened to look up, he was forced to recover from being jumped in an instant as he caught the sight of the radar falling towards the hard, stone floor. "Sh*t!" He scrambled to his feet and made a mad dash to the radar, having to quickly calculate in his head where it was going to land. Folly desperately shot his hands out at the radar, grabbing it in his hands before it could reach the ground.

His grip on the radar was tight and his position was frozen, despite it no longer being in danger of shattering right in front of Folly. As he let the fact that he saved all his hard work to being reduced to wasted time from an extremely close call sink in, his breathing and heartbeat calmed down. With a relieved sigh, he stood up straight again and turned off the radar, silencing its piercing shrieks. "Well… It works, that's for sure…"

As he shut the radar off, a thought raced through his head. He knew that Trudly may have been a heavy sleeper, but he wondered if the radar's beeping might have been a bit too much. He flinched at the thought of Trudly waking up in a bad mood and gingerly left the bathroom to take a quick, nervous peek in the room where Trudly was. Amazingly, Trudly was still sleeping and the noise didn't startle his Whismur and cause a chain reaction. Yet another disaster was barely averted.

Folly tiptoed back into the bathroom, where he both praised his good luck and took the opportunity to celebrate. The smile that began to form on his face earlier grew into a full grin as he began laughing in joy. "I did it! I finally did it!" He kept his jolly cheers at a low volume, but he still couldn't help but cause a bit of noise in his excitement. Folly danced around, completely unable to contain his joy over the matter.

Part of him couldn't wait to show it to Trudly, but after considering it for a while he decided to hold off on that. Gathering up what was left on the floor, he put it all back into the tub, out of Trudlys' sight if he happened to walk past the bathroom. He picked up the antenna and slipped it along with the radar in his pocket, ready to pull it out to show Trudly when he felt the time was right.

Still feeling rather euphoric over his success, the smile on his face not weakening in the slightest, Folly didn't pay much attention to what was around him. He left the bathroom, glancing at his pockets as he walked. When he lifted his head up, he was once again jumped backwards when he saw Trudly standing right in front of him.

Folly felt himself begun to sweat. Did Trudly see anything? He tried to hide his nervousness over the potential that his surprise was just ruined, but he knew that Trudly could see right through him a lot of the time.

However, it didn't seem that Trudly could see much of anything at that point. He was the last thing from a morning person, and it showed. His eyes were still clamped shut, enough so that Folly wondered if he was sleepwalking. Trudlys' long hair was unkempt and frazzled in a terrifying and unholy combination of hat hair and bed head.

Trudly just stood there for a while, wobbling every now and then as he tried to stay awake. Considering how dazed and half-asleep Trudly was, Folly doubted he saw anything. Still, he locked his anxiousness away and hid any bit of suspicion from Trudly. "Uh… Mornin'?"

Trudlys' response was nothing more than an unintelligible mutter. It took him a few more minutes for Trudly to even look somewhat conscious. His eyes cracked open slowly as he gradually woke up. Eventually, he managed to become slightly coherent when he moaned, "Ugh… The hell was that noise earlier?"

"I didn't hear anythin'." Folly blurted out quickly before his poker face had any chance to break.

As groggy as Trudly was, he seemed to buy it without a second thought. He sauntered over to the wall and slouched against it to keep his balance. He pulled his hat and red sunglasses out of his baggy pockets and put them on, making him look a little less frightening in appearance. After a while, Folly went over a stood next to him when he appeared to be fully conscious.

"What are ya doin' up so early, anyways? Usually, you'd sleep 'til noon if ya could." Trudly asked, yawning at the same time.

"I dunno. I just couldn't sleep, I guess." Folly replied with a straight face. Technically, he wasn't lying, as his excitement over working on the radar loved to rob him of a few hours sleep.

Folly shifted his eyes over to Trudly, who was starting to look a little skeptical. If continued to ask any more questions, Folly wouldn't be able to keep up his façade for much longer. Therefore, instead of lying through his teeth, he decided to try another tactic: changing the subject. He put on a cheery smile and said, "So what're we gonna do today?"

Trudly's skeptical expression disappeared. He stood silent for a moment, but only for a moment. It didn't take him long to give an answer at all.


17th August 2010, 5:10 AM
* * *


The two tore across the streets of Pyrite Town, throwing up the dust in the filthy road. They shoved aside anyone and anything in their way. Their destination was ambiguous at best, as their only objective was to run as fast as they could.

Folly took the last bite of the Pecha Berry he was holding as he ran. As he finished it off, he casually said, "He's gettin' good."

"Idiot!" Trudly sharply snapped at him, "That's 'cause he's expectin' us!"

Folly glanced behind him. There he was, the large, muscle-bound grocery store owner doggedly pursing them across town. His face usually looked angry, but this time it was bursting at the seams with fury. After all, he was a favorite target of Trudly and Folly. Most of the time, they had managed to be out the door and half-way across the city by the time the shopkeeper noticed. The last time they stole from him, he futilely tried to throw his fists at the two as they made off with his products. This time, however, he made sure to carry a large knife with him. It made Folly a little nervous not only for the fact that he was ready to slice them apart, but also that the next logical step was a rifle.

As he and Trudly sprinted through the streets and back alleys, Folly swiveled his head every now and then to keep an eye on how far away the shopkeeper was. It had been a while since they left the store, and he was still right behind them. Folly took a closer look, and saw that he was actually moving faster as well. "Uh… Trudly! I think he's gettin' his second wind!"

Trudly took a look behind him as well, and gave a frustrated glare when he saw the shopkeeper gaining on them. "Then we're gonna have to get ours! Step it up!"

Folly nodded and grunted in response. He knew better than to waste all of his stamina at once, and had not been running at full speed. It was times like that, when their pursuer was getting far too close for comfort, when Folly shifted gears and started moving as fast as he could. He sped up, quickly putting a large distance between both the shopkeeper and Trudly.
He had begun to move faster so rapidly that Trudly hardly had any time to do so himself. "Dammit Folly! Wait for me!"

All of Follys' concentration and energy was focused on running faster and getting away. He didn't pay much heed to Trudlys' yells as he raced through the alleys, taking every turn he could. He did so without even thinking much about it, only being concerned with losing the shopkeeper.

Of course, by doing that, he wound up in an unfamiliar part of town. He figured he had gone far enough and stopped. Folly scanned the area, not recognizing anything. He turned around, not seeing a single soul, let alone Trudly or the shopkeeper. All that was there was a wide alleyway sandwiched between two run-down, metal buildings and trash and scrap metal littered on the ground.

He took that opportunity to catch his breath, but was also starting to become unnerved. Folly paced around, trying to find some detail that he could recognize and get his bearings. He couldn't see the windmill, the Colosseum, the ONBS building, or any of Pyrites' landmarks.

It wasn't comfortable at all not knowing where he was, and it was becoming even more uncomfortable being separated like that from Trudly, especially when he knew that someone was out for their blood. He took a deep breath, and began to yell, "HEY! TRU-"

At that very moment, he felt someone slap their hand over his mouth, silencing him abruptly. He was pulled around the nearest corner and was placed against the wall. It happened so quickly and with the thought of the shopkeeper still fresh in his mind, Folly was about to panic. Several thoughts flashed through his mind, first about being caught by someone that wanted him dead, and then about the only choice he had left. In that short span of time, Folly prepared himself to fight back; he knew that he was never going to let anyone have their way with him without putting up a fight first.

But then he stopped himself. Just as he was about to struggle against the person that had a hold of him, he turned his head and saw who exactly it was. Trudly held Folly in place as he silently mouthed the words, "Don't move."

Folly froze up at his words and after seeing that Trudly was completely motionless as well. Without making the slightest movement, they could hear footsteps nearby. Considering Trudlys' reaction, it was most likely the shopkeeper, still looking for them. The footsteps seemed slow and had considerable intervals between each other. Folly figured that chasing after him and Trudly must have gotten to him. Still, Folly didn't move an inch. His eyes followed the sound of the steps, and his body began to tense up when he heard them get rather close.

They stopped for a moment, then resumed. However, that time the sound began to fade, as if the shopkeeper was going away. Did he finally give up and assumed that he had lost them? Folly thought that was the case, but neither he nor Trudly were willing to risk it so quickly. They still remained glued to the spot they were in well after the footsteps had disappeared completely.

Eventually, Trudly slowly took his hand off of Folly's mouth and moved from his frozen position. He treaded gradually to the edge of the corner and peeked around it so that only a small part of him could be seen from anyone in the alleyway. He moved his head out further until his entire body was around the corner. Folly began to follow suit and took a glance behind the corner as well. He saw Trudly slowly inspect the area, poised to run or attack if it turned out to be unsafe after all.

After a while, Trudly came back, looking a lot more relaxed. He was breathing heavily, only now getting the chance to truly catch his breath. "I think he's gone."

Relieved, Folly slid down the wall and sat against it. Trudly did the same, falling right next to him with a thud. That was just too close. He should have been used to it by now; he and Trudly have come dangerously close to either being caught or killed several times before, all in similar situations. But it was still nerve-wracking and scary every time.

Right in the middle of his reflection, Folly felt a hand come up and lightly smack the back of his head. Follys' own hand went and held the area of impact while he shot a glare at the culprit. "What was that for?"

"What the hell were ya doin' yellin' like that? Did ya want him to find us? If I didn't shut ya up when I did, we'd be stuffed in body bags right about now!" Trudly growled.

Folly wasn't intimidated in the slightest. Folly took the sharp snarl that Trudly gave him and threw it right back, "I yelled 'cause I couldn't find you."

Trudly shifted his position so that he was able to give a direct glare at Follys' face as he snapped back, "'Cause ya ran off ahead without me!"

Folly did the same as Trudly and stared back at him. "Oh what? Ya want me to apologize 'cause ya were bein' too slow?"

"I'm not too slow! You're too goddamn fast!"

"So now ya want me to slow down so I can get caught?"

"Well it would be nice if ya would at least let me catch up so that we can back each other up!"

Folly closed his mouth tightly. Scowling and mumbling, he fidgeted in place for a while before he spat out at Trudly, "Shut up."

"Oh, so that's all ya got left? Tellin' me to shut up?" Trudly laughed at him, "Sh*thead."




They continued to volley insults at each other for a good while. Folly eventually found that he couldn't keep up with Trudlys' extremely colorful vocabulary and became silent. Instead of trying to dig deep to find something else to throw at Trudly, he crossed his arms and turned away from him, making an effort to look in the opposite direction.

It was like that for quite some time, just sitting there without saying a word to each other. Folly held that same scowl on his face, seething with anger. Trudly had just annoyed him so much, and at that moment he wanted nothing to do with him.

But somehow, that feeling didn't last long. After a while had passed, the tight expression on his face loosened. He found himself turning his head a few times to get a quick look at Trudlys' face and a read of what he was feeling. At one point, Folly tried looking at him again only to meet Trudlys' eyes looking at him; apparently, he had been doing the same thing. Folly swiftly looked away, acting like nothing happened.

Still, Folly started to think a little more about their argument. He didn't enjoy fighting with Trudly, he really didn't. He annoyed Folly a lot, sure. But Folly was also aware that he was just as guilty of being a pest to Trudly. When he really thought about it, most of their fights had been rather petty, caused over minor little things. It truly wasn't worth taking a vow of silence around him over.

Folly took those sentiments to heart and turned around fully to face Trudly. "Tru-"


Once again, Folly was met with an echo. Another bit of silence emerged over how awkward the situation was, but Folly decided to break it with a short laugh, "I guess I already know what ya were gonna say."

Trudly mimicked him once more, this time the laugh being genuine instead of condescending, "Same with you, huh?"

Folly gave a weak smile before saying to Trudly, "Sorry for runnin' away from ya."

Trudly smiled back at him. "Ya usually don't, which is why it made me so mad. But yeah. Sorry for blowin' up at ya."

Folly sighed, relieved that Trudly wasn't too willing to keep a hold of all that frustration. With that clear to him, Folly felt that he didn't want to dwell on it too much anymore. "So… How much did ya get back there?"

Trudly let out a groan. "Not much." He grabbed the large, worn out bag that he had slung over his shoulders the entire time and set it on the ground. He opened it up, revealing the rather minuscule amount of food that he managed to steal from the store before they were noticed.

Folly took a hold of the nearly identical bag that he used and peered in it as well. His bounty wasn't much better. "Me neither…"

Trudly began to rub his forehead, and then ran his fingers through his bangs as he sighed, "Dammit… We probably used up more energy runnin' than what we got here…"

Trudly was right in that regard. Folly felt his stomach rumble, as it had been doing for quite some time. The little bit of food in front of him might be able to bide him over for a very short period of time at the most before the hunger pains came back. He was exhausted and hungry, which was just going to make the next time they needed to go out and steal all the more harder.

Trudly took a deep breath, not happy in the slightest with the result; his stern face showed that he knew there wasn't much they could do now. "Better than nothin', I guess. C'mon, let's get back home before it gets too hot."

As Trudly stood up, so did Folly. The prospect of spending the rest of the day eating and sleeping sounded rather appealing to him. Of course, they had to get home before they could do that. And to get home, they need to figure out where home was in relation to their current position. "Uh, do ya have any clue where we are?"

Trudly looked around him without the slightest hint of recognition in his eyes. "Not really. Just keep walkin' 'til ya see somethin' familiar."

Folly moaned under his breath; that didn't make him feel much better about the situation. He and Trudly tied their bags up and left the alleyway, with neither of them really knowing where they were going. Although Folly did attempt to make himself feel a little more optimistic about their predicament. After all, Pyrite Town wasn't the largest town they've been in, and they've lived there for years. In theory, it shouldn't take them long to find their bearings at all.

* * *

Trudly slammed open the door. He shot his hand out beside him and grasped the doorway, use it to balance himself. Hunched over in that position, he panted and gasped with a very clear trace of a growl mixed in with them. He stared at the interior of the house for a while, which had grown shady and dark from the lack of light as the sun disappeared in the west.

Slowly, his head turned around. His eyes, narrow, frustrated, and accusing came into Follys' line of sight. Folly flinched at the look, only able to give a very slight scowl back at him. "Look, I said I was sorry…"

Folly was at a rather considerable distance away from Trudly as he gave him that irritated look. After spending half the day wandering around in the blazing sun, searching for shady spots to rest, and running away from some of their former thievery targets, it was really no mystery as to why Trudly had been so upset for the past few hours. They might have finally made it home, but Trudly was still looking like he was about to explode; and that was something that Folly did not want to be in close proximity of.

Trudly staggered into the house with a bit of a stomp in his step. Folly followed behind, but still making sure he wasn't too close to Trudly. Trudly threw aside his bag, which was nearly empty at that point and dropped to the ground, exhausted. Once he was inside, Folly closed the wide-open door before only be able to make it to the middle of the room before having to lie down as well.

Neither of them even had the energy to make it up the stairs where they usually slept. Both Trudly and Folly stayed in the spot they were, completely worn out. Laying on the cold, stone floor was actually a luxury for once, as Folly could still feel the sweat pouring down his face. Compared to being exposed all day to the dry, sweltering heat outside, the inside of the house felt like an ice box.

Folly was more than content to fall asleep right there, regardless of how early in the evening it was. He felt the time slowly slip by and the room gradually darkening as the minutes passed. Shutting his eyes, he attempted to doze off.


Folly shot upright and Trudly jumped up a few inches at the sudden and loud yell followed by the door bursting open. Any inkling of being able to go to sleep was rapidly stomped on, crushed, and thrown out the window with the cheery assault on their ears. Both Folly's eardrums and heartbeat wasted no time and started pounding.

Folly looked up at the source. The suddenness and the volume of the yell had thrown Folly into a state of nervousness and fright. With those feelings, he stared into the glittery silver glasses that were staring back at him.

But when his brain got the chance to register who exactly it was in front of him, his nerves quickly disappeared. He could barely see with such little light, but he had more than enough clues as to whom it was; the loud, overly merry voice, the tall figure standing in the threshold, and the enormous mass of hair barely able to squeeze through the door. He sighed and smiled; comforted that it wasn't someone that meant harm to them, "Oh… Boss."

Miror B. tilted his glasses down slightly at Folly. "Oh come now, Folly darling. You couldn't have sounded less enthusiastic if you tried. You sound like you just got done running a marathon!"

Folly glanced back at Trudly. He flatly looked at Miror B.. He could tell he was desperately trying to hold it in. And by the looks of it, it seemed that he was losing. Folly quickly turned back around before Trudly had the chance to spit anything out. "Uh, well not really…"

Miror B. shrugged it off rather easily. He moved past the doorway, dancing somewhat as he made his way into the center of the room. "Now let me tell you something!" Miror B. froze in place for a moment, and then dramatically spun around. "I am in the absolutely worst mood tonight!"

He said so while his voice was still coated with its glitzy joyfulness. Folly just stared at him, while Trudly coughed out sarcastically, "Sure sounds like it."

"How come? What happened?" Folly asked curiously, ignoring the dissonance between Miror B.s' voice and mood.

"Well!" Miror B. said, holding up his finger as he prepared himself for a story, "You see, I've spent most of today trying to yet again to get more Pokémon for our team. Seeing as how no one is polite enough to just fork them over to me, I tried being a little more… forceful, shall we say? Well, I didn't try mugging them or anything. I tried to be a little stealthier, like you two are. But I simply couldn't do it! They always noticed me! Some of them even managed to smack my lovely face before I ran off!" He stomped around. "Ooooh! I don't get it! How does everyone notice me like that? It pisses me off!"

Folly watched Miror B. ponder over how he failed at stealth. Miror B.. The man in the purple vest and pants, wearing platform shows, flashy glasses and earrings, and a huge red and white afro three times the size of his head.

Folly stifled back a laugh, "Beats me."

"Me too!" Miror B. obliviously agreed with him. Folly thought that he himself was bad in that regard, but it seemed that he had some pretty strong competition.

"Oh yeah! Speaking of Pokémon…" Miror B. clasped his hands together and showed off a large grin to his two henchmen. "…You do have some for me, right?"

With those few words, the atmosphere became so much more awkward. When Miror B. dropped that question during his visits, it almost never ended too well. Both he and Trudly knew what the answer was, but neither of them was very willing to vocalize it. Instead, Trudly simply looked away with a short groan and Folly began to scratch the back of his head.

Miror B.s' hands unclasped and his expression promptly lost its cheeriness. With a frown and a dull look on his face, he unexcitedly moaned, "I guess that means 'no'…" His hand made its way too his forehead. "Why did I bother even hiring you boys if you never even get me anything?"

"'Cause Reath and Ferma told ya to p*ss off?" Trudly replied with a smile.

"Oh hush," Miror B. retorted. He then held out a plastic bag, which Folly didn't even notice he had when he walked in. "Well, in that case… I did go out and get something for you two so you wouldn't starve to death. But somehow most of that food just went and magically disappeared in the last few seconds."

Miror B. reached into the bag that clearly had a considerable sum in it and pulled out what didn't "magically disappear". He took a single, rather small loaf of bread and tossed it between Trudly and Folly, Trudly catching it before it hit the floor.

Folly stared at it disappointingly. After all the trouble he and Trudly went through just to get that extremely small amount of food earlier that day, Folly was dearly hoping for a lot more than another minuscule amount. "That's i-"

At that moment, Folly felt Trudlys' elbow jab into his side, cutting him off. He gave him a sharp look that was just screaming out, "Stop." Folly didn't say anymore as he rubbed where Trudlys' elbow hit him, but it didn't help his mood any.

Trudly took out his pocket knife and cut the loaf in half as best as he could with limited light. He tossed one half to Folly, who was forced to accept it and keep his complaints in his head. Folly spent the next few minutes picking apart the bread piece by piece instead of eating it all at once. He was still hungry and he doubted that would quell his stomach much, but he wanted to drag out the feeling of food in his mouth for as long as possible, since there was always doubt of when he get that feeling again.

As he ate, Folly felt something attempt to climb up his side. He looked down, and saw his two Whismur trying to scramble up to where his food was. Folly glanced over to Trudly, and saw that Spook and Spitz had come downstairs and were begging their trainer as well. Folly guessed that they heard Miror B. come in earlier and had figured that their trainers were home as well.

"Sorry guys, I don't got a lot for ya today…" Folly sighed as he caved into Whis and Murs' pleas and handed them a few small pieces of bread that he tore off.

Miror B. squatted down on the opposite side of the room, which was the closest thing to actually sitting down comfortably that Folly could see him doing. As both trainers and Pokémon alike ate their food, Miror B.'s mood rapidly increased in happiness as he gave a wide smile. He seemed itching to talk, as there appeared to be something else on his mind. That, and the fact that he skipped the usual lecture this time around indicated that he was eager about something. "So, boys! You'll never guess what I heard today!"

Both Folly and Trudly perked up at the way he said that. He seemed so excited about whatever it was, and his fidgeting in place implied that it was big news. Miror B. spoke quietly, but yet carrying the same emotion that someone would have when they were about to tell a juicy secret, "Cipher's back."

Trudly and Folly simultaneously lunged forward in place, struggling to keep themselves from spitting the food out of their mouths. The name, "Cipher"… It held so much meaning to the both of them. At one point, they were dedicated to doing whatever it takes to support them, as it was the only thing keeping them from living like they were at that current moment. But with one incident, that name became something that they wanted to run far, far away from.

Once Trudly had managed to gather himself, there was nothing holding him back from yelling out, "What?"

Folly quickly found that he couldn't help but vocalize his shock either, "Seriously?"

Miror B., not surprisingly, wasn't as troubled by the revelation as his two henchmen were. He nodded, still giddy with enthusiasm. "That's right! I heard a few people talking earlier today that there were people from Cipher doing operations in the old laboratory out in the desert. Can you believe it? They certainly took their sweet time in coming back!"

His eagerness over the matter wasn't too pleasing to Folly. Folly just couldn't see how his boss was so thrilled over an organization that probably had all three of them blacklisted, and that was starting to scare him. "B…Boss? We're not gonna go back, are we?"

To Follys' relief, that didn't seem to be what Miror B. was thinking and dispelled his fears, "Of course not. They'd kill us before we could even walk through the door!" Putting his cheerful expression back on, Miror B. continued, "Anyways, they're making Shadow Pokémon as usual. I also heard that this kid is going around trying to stop them; apparently he already managed to get over a dozen Shadow Pokémon from them."

Folly continued chewing on his piece of bread, calmed down and not as frightful. Miror B.'s last sentence did confuse him however; Folly thought that there was only one Snag Machine left in the world, since he could recall hearing that the others that Team Snagem made were destroyed. He didn't think about it too much, since how the kid was stealing something that he never even got the chance to use wasn't a big concern to him.

Trudly seemed to find the situation rather funny, as he laughed, "So this lil' kid is running around kickin' Ciphers' a**, now? They can't be too strong if that's what's goin' on."

Miror B. smiled back at Trudly, but Folly could see that it wasn't quite as cheerful as usual as well as carrying a considerable amount of ire. "Well, you also have to figure that the entire reason they've been gone for five years was because two certain 'little kids' didn't know what the hell they were doing!"

The humor in Trudlys' face drained as Miror B. struck a severe sore spot with Trudly that not even Folly was comfortable bringing up around him. "Ya can let that die any time now."

"But that's beside the point. I've been thinking about something all day," Miror B. got back on track and leaned closer to Trudly and Folly, "Now think about it. I doubt that kid is getting all the Shadow Pokémon that he comes across; he's probably making a few mistakes here and there. Well, regardless of the fact that those peons still have their Shadow Pokémon, I can't imagine that Cipher would be very lenient towards them. So they're probably high-tailing it as fast as they can. I was thinking that all three of us could go find these guys as they're fleeing then get them while they're alone and take their Shadow Pokémon from them!"

Both Trudly and Folly sat silently. But Miror B. jumped up on his feet and spread out his arms in a passionate zeal over the plan he was proposing, "Just think! If we had Shadow Pokémon in our possession, Team Miror might finally make its way up the ladder! Even if we have to follow those peons the moment they leave Cipher territory, it would be so worth it in the end! All these years of sitting back and laying low could come to an end just like that!"

Folly listened to Miror B. intently, as what he said was appealing to him. If he was right, just a few Shadow Pokémon could give them such a boost of power that it would change everything. They wouldn't have to scrape by with whatever they could sneak away with from other people, they could just demand it. There would be no more living in an old, run-down building and no more wondering when their next meal was. The three of them could have Pyrite Town under their thumbs like they did when Miror B. used to be a Cipher Admin. Folly was becoming just as excited over the matter as Miror B.; he began laughing through a grin much like Miror B. was doing earlier, "Let's do it, boss!"

Folly looked over to Trudly, who didn't seem to be quite as excited about the idea as Folly was. He sat there silently, rubbing the side of Spooks' face while he sat in his trainers' lap while Spitz was resting comfortably on his shoulder. Trudly seemed to be immersed in thought at that moment, but Folly could also spot a cynical look on his face as he listened to Miror B..

"That's the spirit, Folly!" Miror B. cheered him on. He then turned his attention to Trudly, who wasn't sharing Folly's feelings. "Come on, Trudly! Don't sit there looking so glum! You're excited too, right?"

Trudly moved his head up, then let out a halfhearted sigh, "Sure. Whatever ya want to do."

That wasn't the signal that Folly read from his face. He was sure that there was so much more on Trudlys' mind than the little bit of what he just said. Whatever it was, he didn't appear to want to say it out loud.

Folly dismissed it rather promptly. Trudly was just probably being a killjoy that was all. He shifted his attention to Miror B., who –despite Trudlys' indifference- pumped himself up with delight over the plan.

As the hours passed and the waning crescent moon rose in the cloudless sky, the atmosphere was packed with a sense of merriness. Miror B. spent the rest of the night dancing energetically under the moonlight while the sound of Follys' laughter over his antics filled the room. Folly even caught Trudly give a few small laughs and a smile over it, contradicting his normally serious attitude. Miror B.s' good moods were just contagious like that. That was the way it was for the next several hours, with the closest thing just three people could get to a party.

* * *

It took a while, but the night finally calmed down.

Folly lifted his head when he felt things were quiet enough. He saw Trudly and Miror B. laying down, appearing to have fallen asleep, which was just what Folly needed. He knew that Trudly had turned in for the night quite some time ago, and Folly was forced to feign sleeping himself for a few hours just to wait for Miror B. to do the same.

Quietly, careful not to make the slightest sound that could stir Trudly or Miror B., Folly inched over to his boss. Folly reached into his pockets, feeling around for the small antenna that he stuffed in there that morning. Once he found it, he pulled it out and held it in front of his face for a moment. I almost forgot about this.

The last part of his plan was just moments away from completion. He looked upon Miror B., whose legs were still moving rapidly as if he was trying to dance in his sleep. Folly needed to figure out where and how he was going to bug him with the antenna without waking him up. It needed to be someplace that Miror B. wouldn't notice by accident, either.

Folly scanned Miror B.s' body until his focus eventually became fixated on his afro. It would be perfect. His afro was more than large enough to fit a tiny little antenna in, and the chances that Miror B. could find it stuck in there was slim to none. Once he had settled on that idea and felt that Miror B. wouldn't wake up to it, Folly quickly took the antenna and stuck as far as he could within Miror B.s' hair.

Folly silently, but swiftly removed his hand when the antenna had gone far enough. He glanced at Miror B., who didn't appear to be stirred at all from Follys' actions. Before Miror B. did have the chance to awake, Folly made a quiet dash back to where he had been laying.

He shifted back into a relaxed position so that if Miror B. did wake up, he wouldn't suspect anything. But he kept his face out of view as he grinned to himself. He did it. All of his hard work finally paid off. Of course, there was still the matter of reaping the results, but all that involved was waiting and relaxing in the meantime. That, compounded with Miror B.s' new plan, which caused the doubts Folly had lately over whether "Team Miror" was worth it to dissipate, was making it hard for Folly not to show it in his expressions.

Everything seemed to be indicating that a bright future was coming.

* * *

In the eight years that Folly had lived in Pyrite Town, he often heard a story passed around verbally. It was spoken frequently enough that it stuck in his head, but he still couldn't remember it word for word. Still, he knew the basic idea of it.

The story was of the origins of Pyrite Town itself and the man that founded it. A couple hundred years ago, most of what was now the Orre region was still undiscovered. The people knew that there was an enormous desert in the south, but that was about it. The entirety of the population made their living in the woods next to Mt. Battle and the rocky coastlines.

One day, a man decided to head out alone to the desert on an expedition for resources. He packed up everything he had and left his hometown, where his fellow citizens never expected to see him again. The desert was known as a death sentence in that day and age. Anyone that did manage to make it out alive never came back with anything that would make the trip remotely worth it.

But defying everyones' expectations, he came back a few years later. Shocked, the townspeople gathered around him as he strolled through town, looking rather proud of himself. When enough people had concentrated around the man, he spoke. He told them of a place in the southwestern part of the desert where canyons and plateaus were in no short amount. He said that he spent some time there on a hunch, mining the rocks.

What he said next had thrown the people into an excited frenzy. The man loudly exclaimed that he had managed to find gold, and plenty of it. Word of his tale quickly spread; the man himself encouraged everyone to follow him on a second expedition to the same area. And people did just that. For the next several months, numerous people, entranced by the promise of gold, spent their time preparing to head out to the desert regardless of how dangerous they used to think it was. Several of those people had even gone as far to completely uproot their lives, selling their houses, quitting their jobs, and using every cent they had ever made just for that trip.

After a while, the time had come. A large group of people set off in the desert for that fabled land. The journey took months, and some had underestimated how taxing it was. Some gave up early and broke off when they felt they couldn't take it anymore. A few kept trying but eventually succumbed to everything the desert threw at them, their bones buried by the wispy sands miles away from their goal.

But nevertheless, what remained of the original group finally reached the gold mines. They saw it for themselves and the vigor that they had at the beginning of the journey was rejuvenated. The people had set up a temporary camp, and then as time went by, permanent dwellings built out of the surrounding sandstone. From dawn to dusk, everyone worked in the mines, risking life and limb just to get their fair share of the gold that the mines were stuffed with.

Once the new town felt they had enough gold to set them for life, they brought in a few people from back up north that would buy it from them. The entire community had gathered around the bankers as they evaluated the gold and eagerly awaited the price they would declare.

However, the bankers stepped forward rather early in the process and gave an announcement to the entire town. They had indeed examined what they were given, but it became glaringly apparent to them what was in front of them very quickly. What the people had mined up was not gold at all, but rather pyrite. Pyrite was a mineral that people had sometimes confused for gold, hence its nickname, "fool's gold".

The revelation came down on the town, crushing them with its weight. Their first reaction was pure dread. They had lost everything just to get gold, but in the end gained absolutely nothing. The emotions in the crowd simmered at first, but eventually boiled into a full-blown rage. The angry people melded together to form a furious mob, rampaging through the town and mines they broke their backs to build.

The mob-mentality quickly focused on one common thought, which was to find the man that had raised their hopes only to come crashing down. They broke into his home, ripped him out of it, and ransacked every last one of his possessions. He was dragged down the dusty streets, along with the bankers that had told them the bad news. They were thrown out into the open, and then riddled with bullets from every single person that they had felt they cheated. Long after there wasn't a breath left in them and their blood, tainted with lead, spread out across the sand, they were still kicked at, spit on, and lobbed with rocks before finally being tossed down the abyss that the town was built next to.

For weeks on end, their rage still burned. But even after those flames had been snuffed out, no amount of punishment they could deal to any scapegoat could erase the fact that most of their lives had been ruined. The vast majority of the original pioneers had lived out the rest of their lives in poverty. When word of the incident had reached the north, they were ridiculed and laughed at, effectively banning them from ever returning home. As the years passed by, immigrants trickled in, mainly consisting of outlaws and fugitives. The towns' reputation worsened and became known by the rest of the region as that forbidden place where rejects and criminals lived. In the couple of hundred years of Pyrite Towns' history, it had never been able to escape that stigma.

When Folly thought of that story, he had always assumed that the people of Pyrite Town told it to others, especially their children, in order to explain why they were forced to live the way they were. It had always come across to him that the tellers were doing the same exact thing the mob was: taking their anger over their problems out on a scapegoat just so they could feel better.

What Folly didn't realize until several years later was that the main objective of the story was much different.

Ha. Ha. Ha. What a funny story, Bluey.

And no, this isn't all of Follys' backstory. I'm planning to spread the rest of it out across the across instead of throwing a gigantic monstrosity at you guys all at once. Plus, it's no fun that way.

The Great Butler
17th August 2010, 5:13 AM
Hmmm. This is a pretty enjoyable chapter, even if not much really happened. I do wonder who that voice was.

However, the fact you actually wrote a detailed backstory for the Miror Radar... I love that. I absolutely love it.

17th August 2010, 5:54 AM

My lord, you're a quick reader. XD

It's Miror B.s'. Which is why Folly was reacting very strongly to it. I thought it was kind of obvious, considering how Folly's been scared to death of him in all of his other appearances thus far, but I guess not. :P

Thank you very much~

The Great Butler
18th August 2010, 7:41 AM
I thought it was him, but the tone sounded too different to me.

6th September 2010, 3:44 PM
Been awhile since I was last here, and I see that there are now 12 chapters. Well anyway I have I enjoyed reading the new chapters, and I growing to like how charaterized Michael even more. All in all I really like how its all turning out.