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dracoburn
16th January 2012, 7:17 PM
Brilliant, time for my third fic, the sequel to Dracoburn's Story (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=518143) and Friends of Draco (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=528974). This story may not make much sense unless you've read the other two. Also, I suggest reading Feralninja (http://www.serebiiforums.com/member.php?u=130472)'s works, particularly League of Heroes (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=517470) and A Journeymen Solstice Carol (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=556029), as they all tie in to eachother. Aside from this lovely disclaimer, enjoy :)

Chapter One: Every New Beginning...

“So you caught the bug, too?” The bespectacled young man across from me had a smug half-smile as I explained my need to travel. “You sound like Cole.”

I blushed, and looked at the desk between us. “I know it’s crazy to ask for a vacation, especially as the league is beginning to finally pick up again. But this is something I need to do.” The league had recently hired a ninth leader so that challengers could continue to progress despite Cole’s absence.

“Hey, it’s fine.” Raj’s grin only widened. “You’re an elite anyway. You’ve got time before you can expect a challenge. Sides, even though we’ve got Glover now, with challengers having to travel internationally to battle in the league, it takes quite some time to progress. Just promise you’ll do some advertisement for me.” He winked.

The living area of the tower still had Solstice decorations hanging, and I couldn’t help but think to our Solstice party from the year before. How Cole had taught me the true meaning of Solstice. How I had felt like family for the first time in years. This year’s celebration had been much less climactic for me, a quiet evening at home. Small, homemade gifts had been exchanged, and we had spent much of the night watching the children play with their new toys. Since then, I had convinced Skyla to stay at my cabin, said my goodbyes, and packed my bag for travel. The tower was one of a few overnight stops on my way to Johto. I needed to settle some affairs at Mount Silver, release the Lugia that I had protected in the cave back to the Whirl Islands, and see where I stand afterwards.

“Of course, Raj.”

Another male voice pervaded our conversation. “So, you and your band of misfit toys are finally fleeing from Unova, huh?” Draco and Analyt stiffened behind me as Mozzeh, my rival in dragon-taming and league battling, strode into the room. “What did you do to your Dragonite? That broken wing doesn’t look like the kind of accident any of my dragons would get into.” He narrowed his eyebrows pretentiously and sneered at me from beneath his trademark wide-brimmed hat.

“Moz, if you want ‘The Gentleman’ to catch on as your nickname, you might want to start acting like one!” Raj snapped at his roommate.

“Humph. I just feel bad for her Pokemon, is all. They could have grown up like -my- dragons, powerful, attractive, brilliant..” Draco snarled behind me, and Analyt paced nervously, murmuring to the hotheaded Charizard in hopes of stopping a possible fight.

“Cut it out, man. Her dragons are just as good as yours. Reason I gave you the spot over her is because you’re my mate and you asked first. Now please, we’re having a conversation, and if you can’t say anything nice, I’d rather you said nothing at all.”

“Whatever.” And with that, the other trainer turned and stalked out. Mozzeh was probably a fine guy, but he and I had an extremely antagonistic relationship right from the start.

“Sorry about that. He’s just miffed cause the storms have made his dragons stir-crazy. Misery loves company, you know. Hopefully he’ll take advantage of the clear sky tonight and go for a night flight.”

“Thanks for that, getting him to chill.”

“No prob. So, what happened to Analyt? Just wondering. And you’re hurt, too.” He gestured to my splinted arm. “You guys get in an accident?”

“Mine’s a bike accident. Analyt’s is from a fight. I’d rather not discuss what about, though..”

“You don’t have to tell me, but if you need to unload, I’m here.”

“Well.. Gyara died. And tensions ran high for a while. Even a Modest dragon like Analyt can get caught up in it.” I hoped he wouldn’t press, and he didn’t.

“I’m sorry to hear about Gyara. What happened, if I may ask?”

“Wyrm Flu.” Socky, Raj’s Hydreigon, visibly cringed at the mention of the killer disease.

“Oh man, that’s no good. I’m so sorry. Honestly didn’t think anything could fell that beast.”

I laughed bitterly. “That Wyrm Flu’s a killer. It spread to his spine.” Socky, Draco and Analyt were all suddenly fascinated with the floor. Wyrm Flu killed dragons easily, and blinded or crippled many survivors. I was lucky that Gyara was my only casualty.

“Bad news, my friend. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright. Life goes on.”

“So, what are you wanting to travel for, anyway?”

“I dunno.. I guess I just have some unfinished business in Johto..”

“You’re homesick, aren’t you?”

“Well, maybe, but it’s more than that. I feel compelled, like there’s something I need to find.. I mean, Twist Mountain’s my home now..” I wasn’t sure about the last bit, and he caught on.

“Come off it, we all know you’ve only stayed there for this long cause Cole stops by on his flight path to get supplies.”

The truth in those words stopped me in my tracks. “You.. You knew?”

He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “X and I’ve known since the ball; you couldn’t keep your eyes off of him.” I felt my face grow hot as he continued. “Honestly, the two of us were placing bets on how long you’d stay after he took off. Actually, that reminds me; he owes me fifty bucks cause you waited till after Solstice.”

I cuffed him on the shoulder. “You know this is just a temporary thing. I’m not leaving forever.”

“No, but you’re hoping that Cole’ll be home by the time you get back.” The Champion winked at me impishly.

“Yea, well.. It wouldn’t work with us anyway. I mean, destinies and all that…” I hoped that my words were untrue, but I couldn’t help but picture the woman who had stood next to him in the vision I’d had on Solstice Eve the year before, the one that broke my heart and made me believe all at the same time.

“Whatever happens, happens. Don’t let yourself get down about it. But at the same time, you never know if you’ll meet someone on your travels. Hell, maybe that’s what’s drawing you to travel. You never know.” He flashed his famous smile, the one that inspired hope in all of his comrades.

After some time chatting, Raj came around to asking about my connection with Draco.

“How is it that he can fly and battle? You’d think the blindness would keep him down, yet he still performs just like any other Charizard.”

“Well, we’ve got sort of a telepathic link.”

“Cole said something about that once, but I never really understood what it’s about.”

I checked the time. “Well.. It’s only eight. I don’t have to be up and moving for another twelve hours, give or take. I could show you.”

“Ahaha, the night’s still young! Let’s see it, then.”

With that, the two of us marched to the indoor battlefield.

“Raj, I’ve been developing a connection with Analyt as well. Would you mind playing doubles with me?”

He grinned. “Now that’s what I’m talking about! Socky, Snowcone, let’s have some fun.”

The grinning Hydreigon and brawny Samurott drifted onto the battlefield as my Pokemon joined me on the opposite side of the field. “Alright, Raj!” I shouted so that he could hear. “You better take notes. I’m gonna beat you without saying a single word!”

He bared his teeth in a broad grin. “We’ll see about that!”

And with that, we began. Raj took a moment to discuss the game plan with his Pokemon. I used it as a chance to strategize. Analyt would not be capable of flight with his broken wing, and would be susceptible to Earthquake, but that would not be a big concern, and I could easily work around it. I closed my eyes, and sent each of my Pokemon a projection of the first turn, at least how I imagined it would go. Snowcone would most likely be set on Draco and Socky on Analyt. I decided to do my best to prevent them from landing their super-effective hits, knowing full-well that Raj would prey on his type advantage.

“Ready?” I heard him call, breaking my thought process.

I nodded, and made a lip-zipping motion in response.

“Socky! Dragon Pulse on the Dragonite!”

The Hydreigon reared its main head back in preparation to strike, but I knew Draco was faster. Within a split second, Draco took to the air and slammed against the wall, shaking some tiles from the ceiling in a makeshift Rock Slide. Neither opponent took much damage, but that wasn’t the intention. My plan worked; Socky’s aim was thrown off as he flinched. He managed to fire the move, but it ricocheted off of the wall and bounced into Snowcone, who didn’t suffer much, but certainly noticed. The otter huffed in irritation at its partner, which was the ideal distraction for Analyt to get in his move. While Draco remained airborne, the Dragonite’s eyes shone and static crackled between the antennae on his head. With a swift motion, a wicked Thunderbolt slammed into Snowcone, nearly taking the otter out. Snowcone growled furiously, and surged forward, enveloped in water, to take down Draco with a Torrent-boosted Waterfall. But I had foreseen this, and flashed Draco an escape route. The Charizard followed my unspoken orders and dodged nimbly around the attack, whipping Snowcone in the face with his tail, not for damage, but to make a point.

I heard Raj gasp from his side of the field, then shout another command to his Pokemon. Socky’s three heads came together to charge another Dragon Pulse, but flew forward as he charged for improved accuracy. A flinch would not cause this move to miss. I showed Draco where Socky was, and he dove in front of the beastly black hydra, swiping his purple-cloaked claw at the opponent’s face as he flew. Again, Socky allowed Draco to distract him, and spun to bite at the Charizard. Analyt came from behind and launched a Blizzard that enveloped both opponents and struck them both down. Raj recalled his felled monsters and we met in the middle.

I raised my eyebrows smugly. “A clean sweep. You seen enough, or should we slay Donnie and Medusa, too?”

The young champion shook his head slowly, but he still had a smile on his face. “I’m good. I just don’t know how you did it! Do you think it’s something you could teach me?”

I bit my lip, and we began to retreat from the battlefield. “It’s not really something that can be taught. In both cases, it’s happened during traumatic experiences where I’ve connected emotionally with the Pokemon.” I thought briefly to the images I’d seen immediately prior to Gyara’s death, but pushed the thought away. “I don’t know if it’s something only I can do, like Cole’s ability to speak to Masamune and Athena, or a special skill of Draco's and Analyt's, or something anyone can do with the right circumstances. It’s more of an innate ability than a learnable skill. More like the magic of a sorcerer than that of a wizard, you know?”

Raj flicked the lights off, looking thoughtful. “So you mean that if it’s going to happen, I just have to wait?”

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to pursue trauma in hopes of a connection being made. Besides, as nice as it is, sometimes it can be really distracting, especially if you have two connections and they start to bicker with each other.” I shot a glance to my two dragons and they both looked down sheepishly.

We fixed our Pokemon a snack to restore some of their energy and prepared some hot tea for ourselves. “So, you only brought Draco and Analyt with you?” Raj asked between sips.

“Yup. I would have brought Ferocity and Scarr, but they’re expecting again.”

“Oh! Well, congrats!”

“Yea, I’m hoping they get a daughter this time, might calm them down a bit.”

“Still rather fierce?”

I shook my head. “Bloodthirsty, as usual. Their son is even worse, though. He’s always been pretty hard to manage.” I thought of the hyperactive Gible and all of the pranks he played on my other Pokemon. “At least having an egg keeps the two of them occupied, and the baby stage had them mellowed for awhile last time. Busy, at least. Sometimes Ferocity is easier to manage when she’s asleep all day.” We shared a laugh.

“So, what’s your next stop?” As much as we were enjoying each other’s company, Raj knew that my room in the tower would only be occupied for the one night. Though X and Nate visited as often as their agendas, and X‘s new wife, allowed, Mozzeh was the only live-in member of the elite.

“Well, Mount Silver’ll take two days at least to get there. I’m planning on flying east, landing in Orre if Draco really needs to rest, but preferably making it to Hoenn. Day two, Johto.”

His eyebrows creased in concern. “You think Draco can fly that far over water? I could lend you Socky..”

I laughed. “Thanks, but he can handle it; we’ve flown worse distances. And I’ve been scouting around with some maps, plotted a route that goes over some smaller islands. I’ve got some trail mix, jerky and enough cash to eat out and sleep in hotels for the better half of a month, so I’ll be fine.”

“You sure? We could at least pack you a picnic..”

“Thanks, Raj, but if we get a good breakfast tomorrow, we’ll be set. Really hoping we can get to Hoenn, though.. Orre is pretty shady, especially hotel-wise.”

“All part of a trainer’s life, huh? Alright, well, you should get a good night’s sleep. I’ll try to catch you in the morning.”

“Thanks, man. Sleep tight.”

With that, my two dragon companions and I stood, shared a collective yawn, and retreated to my room in the tower for the first time in over a year, the Semisonic lyrics to “Closing Time” playing over in our heads as one. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Now ain’t that the truth?

Firebrand
16th January 2012, 9:37 PM
I like the various nods to the solstice carol, and the voiceless battle was well done. It seems like you've only brought the two dragons along, which is interesting.
I thought the new dimension you've given Mozzeh was also rather cool, seeing as in my fics he's always acted very calm, and as a mediating force.

Anyway, it does seem that as these fics go on, in all our writings, they become a little more mature. LoH really was just a group of kids romping around on an adventure, and didn't get serious until things started dying. I can tell this will have a simmilar tone to HP, where it's fairly light and almost funny for some chapters, but will rapidly change tone into something darker and older.

Anyway, it meets the standard of quality I've come to expect from you. I think you'll find this one easier to write, if you keep the personal aspects out. Best of luck, and cheers!

Glover
17th January 2012, 12:58 AM
I'm going to rib you, because that seems like the NCTH thing to do.

Wow!! MONTHS between "Friends of Draco" chapters and now we get the sequel back-to-back. This is impressive!

Whoo for me making the League complicated, and spread out! Mischief and mayhem!

I gotta go back to LoH and do a crash-course on the chars, and possibly do a one-shot after "Tempest" to get Glover officially introduced to the gang. Or, what's left of it. By the way, if you do happen to need to put down in the Orre region, there are plenty of non-criminal guest rooms strung out between my house and gateon Lab...

Anyway, onto the review:



“Humph. I just feel bad for her Pokemon, is all. They could have grown up like -my- dragons, powerful, attractive, brilliant..” conceited...


I laughed bitterly. “That Wyrm Flu’s a killer. It spread to his spine.” Socky, Draco and Analyt were all suddenly fascinated with the floor. Wyrm Flu killed dragons easily, and blinded or crippled many survivors. I was lucky that Gyara was my only casualty. Just me, but if Becca's still in a sling, then this is farily close to the end of "Freinds" and it seems to me like she would, despite having opened up more after "Solstice", she'd be less open about talking about this so soon.

Secondly,


I was lucky that Gyara was my only casualty Who was this directed at? Without the quoatations, it seems awkward where it sits now. It could be a re-asuing comment to Becca herself, or part of the convo with Raj, but for right now, it just seems to be out of place.


Socky, Draco and Analyt were all suddenly fascinated with the floor. This, is awesome.


“Come off it, we all know you’ve only stayed there for this long cause Cole stops by on his flight path to get supplies.”

The truth in those words stopped me in my tracks. “You.. You knew?”

He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “X and I’ve known since the ball; you couldn’t keep your eyes off of him.” I felt my face grow hot as he continued. “Honestly, the two of us were placing bets on how long you’d stay after he took off. Actually, that reminds me; he owes me fifty bucks cause you waited till after Solstice.”

I cuffed him on the shoulder. “You know this is just a temporary thing. I’m not leaving forever.”

“No, but you’re hoping that Cole’ll be home by the time you get back.” The Champion winked at me impishly. This also.

As is the battle scene, that's an extremely we;; wrotten battle, and you held off directly calling out attacks even by narration, good for you.

A thought is forming in my head though, Has Becca trained with Draco against psychic types? It seems like anyone who can pull off "Psychological warfare" could derail them very quickly.


I thought of the hyperactive Gible and all of the pranks he played on my other Pokemon. I'm going to take this moment to observe that while the female gender has a tendency to be sweet most of the time, when they go rotten they're worse than the boys...


“Thanks, Raj, but if we get a good breakfast tomorrow, we’ll be set. Really hoping we can get to Hoenn, though.. Orre is pretty shady, especially hotel-wise.” This is why you have friends with connections in the Lab.


With that, my two dragon companions and I stood, shared a collective yawn, and retreated to my room in the tower for the first time in over a year, the Semisonic lyrics to “Closing Time” playing over in our heads as one. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Now ain’t that the truth? Finally, a song reference I'm familiar with! Whoo!

dracoburn
17th January 2012, 2:55 PM
The conceited phrase was coming from Mozzeh, who tends to jab at Becca in his spare time. The internal monologue stuff is just something she does.

The_Black_Mamba
17th January 2012, 8:06 PM
Very nice! Great story and implementing how the characters interact!

dracoburn
20th January 2012, 2:51 AM
Chapter Two: Learn to Fly

My dream that night was the same as always, the bright forest and the nagging feeling. But for once, it was hopeful, like I was finally taking a step in the right direction. In fact, I was absolutely sure that I was finally going to reach my destination when..

Are you sure we should get her up?

You’re not the one who has to fly today! I’d rather get out of these currents before the weather turns!

I know, but she’s finally sleeping well for the first time in weeks..

She’ll live.

Draco, it isn’t even eight yet…

Fine, we’ll give her till eight, but no later.

I forced my eyes open and turned to the bickering dragons at my doorway. “Why get an alarm clock when you have a pair of overgrown lizards who host their arguments inside my head?”

Sorry.. Analyt thought.

Draco merely scoffed. Bout time you got up. I’m hungry, and sick of waiting.

Draco!

“Will you two stop abusing this connection and leave me be so I can get dressed? I know you guys can speak in Draconic, I have seen you do it.”

They nodded in unison and retreated to the kitchen. I used the sounds of food being prepared as my cue to get up and moving. I tugged on my best traveling gear, well-worn jeans and a hoodie, and yanked a brush through my long hair, marveling at the thought that most girls would find my morning routine bearish and uncivilized. I was still rubbing sleep from my eyes when I reached the kitchen to find my Charizard inhaling leftovers from the night before, much to the chagrin of his quieter companion, who was preparing pancakes on the stove and trying to work around the voracious appetite of his comrade. The dynamics between the two were simply priceless, especially when it came to food.

Analyt slid me a serving as I poured us all some juice. At that moment, Raj came in and gladly accepted Analyt’s breakfast offer. “Glad I caught you before you took off.”

I nodded, and slipped him a scrap of paper with my Pokegear number scrawled on it. “Call me if anything comes up with the league; I don’t want to be a burden.” I couldn’t help but think of Cole.

“And if Cole comes home, tell him to give you a call?” Raj teased.

“Well, that, too. I’ll try to keep you posted on the timeline of my journey.”

We finished eating in silence. Analyt cleaned up as I returned to my room to gather my bag. I’d packed light; a few changes of clothes, a first aid kit, my laptop.. The bag almost felt the way it had during my journey, though lighter, without my bike. I had a few empty Pokeballs in the side pocket, in case I needed to catch anything, and both Draco’s and Analyt‘s, to keep them safe if the journey got dangerous. And naturally, I had some trail rations and a sleeping bag. That was about it, though. I had so missed this. The call to arms, the quest, the search for fame, or love, or purpose. Sleeping under the stars, which would be possible in Hoenn and maybe Johto, though unwise in Unova. It was January, after all.

Raj met me for farewells at the cliff as Draco warmed up for a long flight. A few words and a very quick hug(Skyla had been teaching me how to do so) were exchanged, I returned Analyt to his Pokeball, and without further ado, I mounted Dracoburn and we took off, leaving the tower, and Unova, behind.

As we flew far east, I could see the tiny dots of Unovan schoolchildren swarming in the Nimbasa streets on their way to Trainers’ School. We caught a draft over Route 16, and coasted, passing by the cloudless Desert Region and all of its lovely.. sand. Draco seemed to be enjoying the journey so far, and I could hear a contented buzzing in his mindvoice, not anything of substance, just simple, passing thoughts regarding scents and sounds and the lack of “maddening children and those who act just as childish without the excuse of youth”. We soared over Marvelous Bridge, maybe an hour or so after take-off, making great time. I watched a trainer, who looked smaller than a Durant, drop what he was doing and chase Draco’s shadow, probably hoping to catch a feather. To humor him, I dropped an empty Nest Ball over Draco’s back, much to the kid’s surprise. I caught an inquisitive thought from Draco, but brushed it aside with a laugh.

Draco instinctively gained altitude before I could even see the smog cloud of Black City over the horizon. Again, I questioned exactly how much Draco’s sense of smell excelled above my own. They were probably naturally above a human’s to begin with, but the blindness further strengthened the remaining senses. More than you’ll ever know, puny human. came Draco’s reply, again intruding in my thoughts.

We passed over the smog cloud, which gave Black City its name, and reminded me of the Gringey City of Kanto. I half-expected a Koffing to rise through the fog and spew hot acid all over the flying form of my beloved dragon, plummeting us both into the vile gaseous sludge.

Upon the first scent of sea air, Draco and I agreed upon settling in Undella town for a light lunch and a chance to stretch. We stopped at the Pokemon Center to check back home via video phone, then found a quaint coffee shop on the beach. Draco seemed less than enthused with the “female food”, but Analyt and I were delighted with the selection of gelato.

Within an hour of landing, we were over the ocean. Occasionally, a ferry would pass, or Draco would peg a bird down with a fireball, but it was, for the most part, an uneventful flight. The sky was beginning to darken when I felt my Pokegear buzzing in my pocket.

“Hello?” I answered. The caller ID told me that the call was coming from the tower. Had something happened? Draco turned and shot me a questioning look.

“Becca?” an unfamiliar male voice answered.

“Who is this?”

“Glover. I know we haven’t met, but Raj told me that you’d be flying over Orre and didn’t have a place to stay. Where are you at?”

“Crossing the ocean still. We had to stop a ways back; my Dragonite needed a potty break.” Draco snickered from underneath me. “But I think I can make out the coast of Orre at the horizon. We shouldn’t be far now.”

“Think you can make it to the lab?”

“Depends. I’ve only been to Orre once, and never visited the lab. It was just in transit to Hoenn, you see. But if the lab is on the eastern side of the region, I’d rather just continue to Rustboro..” Draco groaned, obviously sick of flying for one day.

“Don’t worry, it’s actually in the northwest, at the base of the mountains. You’re probably going the right direction.”

The tired Charizard beneath me angled to the north to make his words true. “Um, yep, exactly.”

“Cool. When you get to Orre, stop by the lab, and tell them that you’re a friend of mine. They’ll give you a free room, which is much less likely to be filled with perverts and criminals than the motels in Pyrite.”

“Thanks, man! If you ever need a place to stay in Unova, you can chill at my cabin on Twist Mountain..” Looking at Draco’s sagging eyelids, I felt that my offer was hardly enough in exchange.

I heard a laugh from the other end of the line. “Don’t worry about it. Now, go get yourself some rest.”

I thanked him again and hung up. Draco was picking up the pace now that he knew we’d have a definite place to sleep. And to eat. He reminded me. They’d better serve me some meat after that lunch you tried to serve me. A salad? Really?

I kicked him. “We’ll be guests. You’ll eat what they serve and LIKE IT.”

The lab was a technological-looking building with bright lights gleaming from the huge windows. Draco whined that we should walk there from the coast, but I refused, and he was awfully relieved to finally have our destination in view. We touched down outside of the main entrance, and I released Analyt from his Pokeball. I was nervous enough without him, and I thought the pity factor from his broken wing might keep them from reacting with hostile intent. Also, Draco made it clear that there was no way in hell he was going in his ball, so the whole gang might as well be out.

I rang the doorbell, trying to quell my quaking hands. I was not one for meeting new people, and this meant meeting people through someone I had never met. Which, of course, defies every part of the code of the wallflower.

I could see a small figure skipping towards me through the sliding glass doors. She pressed a button next to a code pad on her side of the door, one that had a twin on my side. In a metallic-tinted voice, I heard her say something through a speaker above me. “Who are you?” the little girl asked.

I started to say something, but she pointedly looked at the code pad, and I realized that I should hold the button that corresponded to hers. “Um, may I speak with an adult?”

The little girl instead twirled her blue hair between two fingers. “Who are they?” She pointed at my draconian companions as a Plusle and Minun peeked around her feet on either side. “Jovi’s never seen Pokemon like that e’cept on TV. They’re big.” I examined the wonder in her blue eyes, remembering when I was a kid and saw Lance’s claim to fame, thinking that I would be A LEGEND if I ever tamed a dragon Pokemon like his.

“Um, I can introduce you later, if you want, but can I please talk to your mom? Or the professor?”

With this, she spun around and began running away from me. Though the button was no longer held down, I could still hear her yowl. “MOMMY!!! There’s a girl at the door and she wants to talk to you!!!” Shortly afterwards, a woman with brown hair and bright green eyes approached the door. She held the button down and said in a kind, if somewhat patronizing voice, “I’m sorry, sweetie, but we’re not interested in buying any of your cookies.”

I ground my teeth together and took a breath to center myself. Draco and Analyt were laughing their tails off in my head. I knew that I looked younger than I was, but a Campfire Scout? Really? “Actually, ma’am, I’m traveling internationally, and my friend said that I could find shelter here for the night. My companions are very tired from the long flight.”

“Oh?” came her surprised response. “Who is your friend?”

“Glover,” I explained, anxiously working my non-button hand. “He’s a new leader in a league that I work in. I have to go to Johto on business, and my Charizard flew us nonstop from Unova.”

“Glover! Oh, come in!” She tapped her fingers gracefully on the code pad, and the doors swished open, allowing my partners and I access to the lab. The foyer was brightly lit, with a clean, professional scent, and a front desk which, at this late hour, was unoccupied. The room made me nervous, like the feeling that I was in a doctor’s office. Considering my recent run-in with a hospital, my anxiety was only heightened. But, the woman seemed nice enough, and I could hear Draco’s belly grumbling behind me. Completely unwarranted, mine and Analyt’s echoed his in turn.

The woman led us to a kitchen and immediately set about fixing us some food. “So, what’s your name, sweetie?”

I slid my bag onto the floor and leaned uncertainly against the wall. “Becca.”

“Well, Becca, how is it that you came to know Glover again?”

I explained how the League of Heroes was formed and how Glover was recently invited as a ninth leader. She seemed impressed about our successes in the Omega War, but even more shocked that I outranked Glover. I’d never met the man myself, but apparently he had quite the reputation in Orre.

The three of us, Draco, Analyt and I, polished off the burgers she offered very quickly, and felt as if we were going to pass out at the table when a gangly man with glasses decided to investigate. The woman, whose name was Lily, introduced me, and he and I shook hands. “Wow, a nice, firm handshake. I like you already. My name is Professor Krane. Pleased to meet you. It’s Becca, right? I apologize if I don’t remember your name, but then, you’ll only be here one night, won’t you?”

I nodded in agreement to his gushing, but my heavy head told me that I could sleep for a week. Dracoburn yawned loudly behind me, and even Analyt, who had been in energy form for most of the day, looked like he was about to drop.

Professor Krane seemed to catch the sentiment. “Right. Well, the guest room is down that hall, third door to the left. There’s a connected restroom with a shower. Hopefully I’ll catch you in the morning; I’m sure you have quite a story to tell.”

I smiled, thanked the two kind people, and stumbled to the guest room, my sleepy dragons trailing behind me. We managed to fall asleep without much fuss, and the last thing I saw before nodding off was Draco’s flickering tail flame piercing the inky darkness of the room.

The next morning, I got out of bed early to let the little girl play with Analyt and Draco before she skipped off to trainers’ school. Professor Krane hammered me with two or so dozen questions, and Lily fluttered about like the typical mom, fretting that none of us were eating well enough, and that Glover was in trouble, and that Johto was oh-so-very far away.. Eventually, it just became too busy for me, and by nine, Draco was launching himself from the ground. I realized that the further we got from Unova, maybe even simply from the ground, the more optimistic we were becoming. “I’m lookin’ to the sky to save me, looking for a sign of life. Lookin’ for something to help me burn out bright.” Draco flashed me a grin, and continued with me in his mind. “I’m looking for a complication. Looking cause I’m tired of trying. Make my way back home and learn to fly, high..”

Blaziken10285
20th January 2012, 4:31 AM
That was a really good chapter. Is there a PM list or are you going to post in the club when a new chapter is out, because I don't really want to come in three weeks later and have missed so much.

dracoburn
20th January 2012, 4:36 AM
I always post on the Facebook group, and will post on the group page if I remember.

Glover
20th January 2012, 9:16 PM
I'm all agrin'. Loved Jovi escpecially, just a wee bit more grown up than her XD days, but still the same ol' lovable Jovi. And you did an excellent job with Lily and Krane too, I kinda skipped over her in my work, I'll be borrowing your rendition a fair bit in their future appearences.

Have I mentioned I'm grinning from reading this?

dracoburn
21st January 2012, 2:28 AM
I thought about what you said, and Connor and I discussed the logistics of flying halfway across the globe in one day, even on a flyer as fast as Draco, and I figured if I put two-and-two together, I could fit a stop in Orre into the picture. The humor is, however, completely genuine.

Glover
21st January 2012, 2:33 AM
I thought about what you said, and Connor and I discussed the logistics of flying halfway across the globe in one day, even on a flyer as fast as Draco, and I figured if I put two-and-two together, I could fit a stop in Orre into the picture. The humor is, however, completely genuine.

I'm not sure I could do it on my flyer, and he's quite literally a jet plane. (You'll have to read to find out, hee hee.)

dracoburn
21st January 2012, 3:07 AM
I'm not sure I could do it on my flyer, and he's quite literally a jet plane. (You'll have to read to find out, hee hee.)

I've been skimming, but I'm pretty ridiclously low on energy, and easily distracted as a symptom of that lack of pep. But I do plan on starting the next chapter this weekend and hopefully getting it up by midway next week. No promises, though..

Glover
21st January 2012, 3:09 AM
No worries, I am well familiar with being constantly drained. Take care of yourself.

dracoburn
27th January 2012, 10:04 PM
Chapter Three: Puzzles, Puzzlin’ me

It was maybe a bit past five when we stopped to rest in Ecruteak. A cool breeze rustled the bells hanging from each porch overhang, an ancient legend meaning that a lively soul had found the town on a journey. I smiled to myself at this thought. Draco, ever the cynic, instead muttered in his mind I could launch a Heat Wave attack at one of those bloody chimes and fulfill another legend, would you then believe that evil spirits were trying to escape from a tortured soul?

Hush, Draco, Analyt murmured, you still secretly think it’s a cool coincidence, at the very least. We can see into your mind just as well as you can see into ours.

In response, Draco blew a warm breath towards a passing porch. There, softie. You feel your heart imploding yet?

I rolled my eyes and enjoyed my quiet smile. Ecruteak always fascinated me as a kid. I never really bought into the myths, but I adored the atmosphere. Residents milled about the town in soft, simple numbers, mostly alone, but not rushed, harried, unhappy. I planned to do my best to avoid Goldenrod while in Johto; it was too busy, too loud, too miserable. I could have spent the whole trip simply relaxing in the city, but I had business that I was doing my best to hide from my mind-combing companions.

“Hey, Draco, Analyt. I’ve gotta make a stop.” They looked at me suspiciously, and I felt both prick into my mind. I tried to focus on a thought of talking to Morty about Shadow, my Gengar, and Spook, my Umbreon; letting them know that I would be with him, but trying to keep the topic as unexciting to them as possible.

Pretty sure we can handle sitting through your tiresome conversation. Draco mused.

Analyt chipped in, fretting as always. You know, you’re not supposed to go anywhere without a Pokemon with you..

“Thanks guys, but I think that rule only applies to tall grass.” I stuck out my tongue. “We’d make better time if we split up. You two, go work on your marriage or something.” They looked at each other in mutual disgust. “Oh hush. Just give me some time with Morty. ALONE.”

The final statement sent them along, snickering, of course. The two shared an image of Morty and myself holding hands. Awkward. But I didn’t care what they thought, as long as it bought me time.

I entered the pitch-black gym and was caught in a flashback of the chilly room, the inky darkness.. Really, the only difference from my last visit was my size. I stood almost two feet taller now than I did as a ten year-old.

“Whoooooo… gooooooooeeeeeesssssssss…… theerrreeeeeee?” a voice whispered from the shadows. The classic scare-away-the-weak scenario.

“Uh, actually, I’m not a challenger. I’m here to see your leader.” A spotlight filtered down onto me.

“Proooooffffffff?”

“Oh! Right! Er, hang tight..” I shuffled through my bag to find my wallet, which I flipped open to reveal my badges. Tarnished and rusty from disuse, my Fog Badge still succeeded in catching enough light for the hidden voice to recognize my intent.

“Oh.” I heard a hacking cough, undoubtedly coming from the elderly woman who was greeting me. These hags had been old enough ten years ago. “He isn’t here.”

I was rather taken aback. “Morty? He isn’t here?”

“No.”

“If I may ask, do you know where he might be?”

The voice croaked a response. “He spends most Monday and Tuesday evenings wandering the Bellchime Trail to the northeast of here. Near the Bell Tower.”

I remembered the days when the “Bell Tower” was still called the “Tin Tower”, before they hung the Clear Bell at the roof to send a signal of peace to Ho-Oh. But yes, I knew where it was. I remembered hearing legends of the two towers, and how Ho-Oh resurrected the ancestors of each of the legendary beasts, Raikou, Entei and Suicune. Silver and I had explored the remains of the Brass Tower and spooked a few young adults of those very creatures.

“Thank you. Have a nice evening, ma’am.” I retreated from the gym, and tuned my senses in search of my dragons, to make sure they didn’t catch me on my way to find Morty. They were incredibly faint, which was a good sign, coming from the southeast, probably searching for food. I navigated myself to the Bellchime Trail carefully, keeping the two dragons in my senses, but just barely, just enough to know where they were, but not enough to exchange thoughts, a bit like a radar system.

The monk guarding the path came out of a deep meditation as I approached. “Ah, child, are you here to see the tower?”

“Yes sir.”

“And you possess the Fog Badge?”

I displayed it for the second time in several years.

The old man smiled and bowed, looking almost like a statue of Buddha. “Then proceed, child.”

I returned his bow, and passed his road block, finding the exit to a world of perpetual Autumn. The golden and red leaves fluttered down from hardy oak trees, giving the ancient carpet a soft crunch beneath my feet. It strongly reminded me of the forest that Cole built his gym in, and a wave of nostalgia all but knocked me off my feet.

I found Morty perched on a rock, watching the sun slowly set behind the tower. I nervously approached, and nearly jumped as a Gengar flickered into being behind me.

“Come, have a seat. I’ve been waiting.” The young man didn’t even turn to me, and I wondered exactly how strong his clairvoyant powers were.

“You knew I was coming?”

“I knew I’d be visited today by a past challenger.”

I crouched next to him, the Gengar still hovering with a wicked grin on its face.

“So, why are you here?” He pushed his blond hair from his eyes, which remained glued to the sky.

“I knew that you had psychic abilities, and was hoping that you could teach me a little bit about my own. If that’s even what they are.”

At this, his violet eyes finally moved to catch mine. I noticed that they had only become more translucent in the last several years. He seemed to be examining them. “I remember you. You defeated me about ten years ago. How is your Charmander?”

“Evolved,” I responded, “He’s my strongest Pokemon now. And part of the reason I’m here.”

He kept his gaze like a Growlithe keeps its gaze on a scrap of meat. “Alright.. Describe these abilities.”

I told him about my ability to mindspeak with Draco and Analyt, going into more detail then I ever have. I brought up each “cause”, the traumatic events where the connections were formed; first, the cave-in in the Ice Cave that Draco evolved to keep me warm through, then the desperate conversation I’d had with Analyt a few weeks before Solstice.

“Hmm.. It sounds like you’re an empathetic telepath.” I felt like I was in a doctor’s office being diagnosed. “Traumatic events have caused you to connect emotionally with two of your Pokemon and communicate via telepathy. I wonder whether you have this connection with only dragons, or if it’s entirely circumstantial..” His voice faded.

“I figured you would know something. Really didn’t want to ask Sabrina..”

He chuckled. “Right. I shouldn’t say anything, but I find her temperament simply unbearable. Her Espeon’s a friendly sort, though; much nicer than the Alakazam, which is equally unpleasant as its trainer..”

“I knew you’d help me out without being too condescending, Morty.” I paused for a moment. “There’s something else, though..”

“I know.” I noticed how much calmer his voice had become over the last ten years.

“Yea, I suppose you do. Clairvoyant and all that. Well, my Gyarados died a few months ago.. Wyrm flu.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He had a slight question on the edge of his voice, urging me not to digress.

“Well, right before he died, I think.. I think he made a connection. But I’m not sure. It wasn’t like it is with Draco and Analyt. With them, I hear their thoughts. We can share images with each other, but the unintentional tangents and such are shared audibly. But with Gyara, it was all in images, and not in complete, intelligible ones. Honestly, it was like a fever dream.”

“Well, he was likely feverish..” It didn’t sound like Morty believed what he said.

“I also felt something, inside, like I was in the vision. I don’t know, it was weird..” I looked away.

“Could have been illness, could have been the way his mind works. Either way. I’m no expert on Gyarados. Or dragons, for that matter.”

“Lance..” I murmured.

Morty turned back to the setting sun. “You’ll find your answers in due time.”

A shadow passed over us, and we both leaped from our respective rocks to watch as a monumental phoenix swooped around the tower to roost on its perch, nestled among tin bells and golden features.

Morty’s eyes were gleaming. “Ho-oh hasn’t landed in Ecruteak for almost three years.. Not since before the Omega attacks in Kanto..”

I felt compelled to fall into speech with him, quoting an old Coldplay song. “The birds come flying at the speed of sound. To show us how it all began. The birds came flying from the underground. When we can see them, we will understand.”

“Big changes are about to come,” he continued alone, in the clear voice of a born prophet. “And they will fill our world with color.”

Glover
28th January 2012, 4:18 PM
“Big changes are about to come,” he continued alone, in the clear voice of a born prophet. “And they will fill our world with color.” So fitting a pun for a Ho Oh. I can't wait to see what you have in store.

dracoburn
7th February 2012, 11:38 PM
Chapter Four: Pressure

After a night of rest and hot, if tar-flavored soup, my duo of dragons and I were on our way to a rather intimidating destination; the Lake of Rage. But I needed information on Gyarados, and the largest breeding ground of the Pokemon seemed like a good place to start. It was, after all, the birthplace of Gyara, and one of Lance’s favorite haunts.

The insides of my knees were chafed from all of the recent flying, and Analyt was tired of being in his Pokeball, so we took to the road on foot. Upon setting out, I realized that both dragons seemed out of sorts, Draco irritated, Analyt hurt. I pushed it aside as we passed a few Technicolor Apricorn trees, trying to concentrate on anything but the displeased glances from my companions, but I could just feel the pressure coming from both ends. Finally, we reached the rapids that spread like jagged speed bumps between Ecruteak and Mahogany offering a choice between the raging rivers or the dusky cave, as if Groudon had created the fault lines and Kyogre had filled them with water just to offer a challenge to newer trainers. I nodded to Analyt that I believed him to be recovered enough to Surf the rapids, so long as he kept the cast on his right wing dry. He began to pad to the bank, more reluctantly than I expected, when Draco stepped in front of both of us, refusing to let us pass. I tried to step around him, and he growled to drive his point home.

“Draco, what the hell?” I attempted to probe his mind, but he shut it off by intentionally thinking in Draconic. I knew enough Draconic to get by, as if it were a second language, but when he spoke it quickly and with emotion, it was hard to pick up. Behind me, Analyt shifted uneasily, curling his tail around his feet and lowering his gaze into a submissive pose. “What crawled down your throat and laid eggs in your fire sac this morning?”

He snarled in response. We know that you haven’t been honest with us, and aren’t moving until you explain exactly why you were visiting Morty yesterday. I could then hear Draconic mumblings in Analyt’s mindvoice, hitting falsetto tones in his distress.

“Wait, was this premeditated?” I felt indignant at this response, though I knew that flaming them for their dishonesty would be hypocritical at best.

Don’t change the subject. Explain yourself. Your actions.

“Draco, Analyt.. I was seeing Morty because he has psychic abilities. I wanted to further investigate the connection we have.”

They both knew I was only telling part of the story. And gave me dirty looks to make sure that I knew that they knew.

“Guys.. I.. Uh.. Couldn’t have you intruding on my thoughts?”

A puff of smoke came from Draco’s nostrils and he curled his lip to reveal gleaming canines. Behind me, somewhere, I heard the cry of a kid with a matching yelp from what sounded like a Quilava as they ducked into the cave and away from Dracoburn’s display of irritation and testosterone.

At that moment, I gave up. “Fine! I didn’t want you guys in on it because it was about Gyara! You happy?”

At this point, wild Pokemon began to creep out from the tall grass, cowering at the sight of the significantly more powerful creatures standing over five feet above their heads. My dragons couldn’t battle if they tried, though. They were too busy making sense of what I had just said.

“When Gyara died- when he had that seizure- I saw something. Like, a vision. But it was different than it is with you guys. I thought Morty would know something, but I didn’t want the two of you involved in case he didn’t know anything. I didn’t want to uncover such fresh wounds.”

Both of them looked down for a second, and for once, it was Analyt who spoke first. Well.. Did you find anything? I realized that he was just as curious about the connection as I was. Draco, on the other hand, seemed to dismiss it as something simple and normal.

“Well, the brief connection with Gyara, if that’s even what it was, was different than the one I have with you two. Like, it was all visual, and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Neither of us knew what to make of that, but Morty suggested that I looked into the species a little more, learn about their psychology. That’s why we’re going to the Lake of Rage.”

The two both nodded and looked into the distance.

“That enough for ya? Have I passed the test? Can we remove the roadblock?”

dracoburn
29th February 2012, 12:20 AM
Chapter Five: Close Encounters of Like Kind

I was glad that the air had been cleared, but the confrontation set us back almost an hour. By the time we reached Mahogany, it was already getting dark, and Analyt and I, both damp from the rapids, shivered under the chill of the wind. But I was on a mission; there was no way we were stopping to lodge for the night.

We trudged north, completely avoiding conversation or detour in the little town. Draco muttered something about food, but neither Analyt nor I paid attention. As we passed through the route, slowly approaching the lake, a light, but unrelenting, rain began to slip from the clouds.

When it rains, it pours, Draco grumbled. And it drizzles in-between downpours.

“And now for a word from your friendly neighborhood pessimist.” Analyt and I exchanged eye-rolls. But I understood his complaint. The fire in Dracoburn’s tail flame sac blazed furiously, and normally produced a white-blue glow, but the rain dampened the flame and left him feeling weakened and, consequently, grouchy. “We’re almost there, Draco. If you’re that miserable, you can ride in your Pokeball.”

To that, he scoffed and turned his head away like a cat refusing food. But I did notice him tucking his tail beneath one of his wings.

From around the lake, fishermen were retreating, ducking into the cabin at the south end of the area, which I noticed had been renovated into a bait shop since my last visit. There were ripples along the water further north, as though monsters were swarming around a smaller, helpless creature, which, I suppose, likely was the case. Lightning ricocheted overhead, with thunder crackling soon after, completing the ominous atmosphere.

Yet in this inhospitable environment, I was not alone. A solitary pair stood at the edge of the water, silently gazing a the chaos in the center of the lake. One figure stood about a foot higher than the other, and was noticeable thicker. Analyt stiffened as he recognized a fellow Dragonite. If that was a Dragonite..

“Lance.” I murmured. The smaller figure glanced over his shoulder curiously, and, upon inspection, turned to face me. His eyebrows furrowed for a moment, his eyes finally coming to rest on Analyt.

“Becca, I think it was, am I right?”

I was slightly taken aback. “You remember me?”

He granted me an amused half-smile. “Not very many of my challengers succeed in defeating me. Really, how could I forget the true Johto champion?”

I felt myself blushing. As a kid, I was obsessed with Lance. I had watched him on TV as Claire inherited his gym, as Lance stepped into an Elite position, as Blue defeated him and as Red, in turn, defeated Blue.. The day Lance had stepped up into the official Champion position. I had, after all, fashioned my own team after his. Along the way, of course, I had my Pikachus and Eevees. But the team I kept, my claim to fame, had four members based on members of his team. When I battled him, I had those four already: Charizard, Aerodactyl, Gyarados and Dragonite. I suppose you could call me a fan. And then the day came where I overcame my idol. I had wished to stay, to be with him, but I was only a kid. Only ten, going-on eleven. He was an older adolescent at the time, and he convinced me, grudgingly, to challenge other leagues. But now, to see him again after so many years, to have him remember who I was..

I must have taken too long to answer, because he spoke again. “It’s wet, and your Charizard looks miserable. Does he have it in him to fly to Blackthorn if it means getting out of this rain?”

At that, Draco immediately perked up. Analyt was distracted, inspecting the other Dragonite from a distance, but he didn’t resist being returned to his Pokeball as we readied ourselves for take-off. We flew silently, lifting above the clouds and coasting with the storm below us. Maybe forty-five minutes passed, and the clouds went from black and swollen to white and sparse when Lance angled his battle-scarred Dragonite into a gentle decline, or at least gentle to me, after the advanced technical flying Draco and I do to exercise our connection.

We touched down in Blackthorn, and Lance led me to his home by the Dragon’s Den. Still not speaking, the young man put a kettle on the stove, and I released Analyt from his Pokeball. The two Dragonites sniffed at each other warily, while Draco fixed his concentration on any apparatus that could possibly be used to provide sustenance for his frequently grumbling belly.

“I’ll bet you’re wondering why I’m here.” I mused, shuffling my feet awkwardly on the floor. I’d grown accustomed to the personal space boundaries of Unova and wasn’t as comfortable barging into someone else’s home as I used to be.

“Sure. But I know you’ll come out with it in due time. It’s fine with me, either way. Longer you stay, the less time I have to spend training my bloody cousin..” Lance was rummaging through the cupboards, and Draco, who obviously hadn’t forgotten the Johto tradition of allowing anyone in need be treated like family, pushed his nose around the dragon master and snuffled at a pouch of jerky. Lance chuckled and tossed a piece to each of the three dragons, offering them to himself and I as an afterthought. I accepted.

We stewed over green tea as the Pokemon got to know each other. Dracoburn was having a draconic conversation with Lance’s Dragonite, mostly in grunts and puffs of smoke. I could tell that Draco had moved beyond small talk and was beginning to gossip or tell jokes. I didn’t even need my connection to understand; I could easily make out the sounds of laughter. Analyt, on the other hand, was ducked against a wall, slowly shredding his piece of jerky as if it were string cheese. I had no idea why he was acting so strange, but he seemed to be blocking me out of his mind. The older Dragonite would occasionally beam mine a dirty look.

“So Lance,” I broke the silence, punctuated by a snort from Draco and a half-interested snicker from his new friend. “I’ve gotta ask: Any idea why your Dragonite and mine are shooting each other death glares across the room? If looks could kill, those two would be torn to pieces by now.”

He smiled and shook his head. “Can’t you see the resemblance? My Dragonite is the father of the Dratinis the sages grant aspiring dragon masters. He’s not very common in that he knows Extremespeed, an ancient technique passed down from the saints. They say that all of his offspring are born with it as an egg move, but that only the most talented trainers can unlock the potential to use it.” I smiled as I remembered the day in the cave that Analyt, as a very young Dratini, glowed just a bit and zipped around to attack his opponent from behind. “That means, essentially, that if that’s the same Dratini that you were given by the sages for your training, my Dragonite is your Dragonite’s father.”

That surprised me a little, but not considerably. I again attempted to dig into Analyt’s mind, this time with him snapping to me and allowing me more access than I was looking for. I was greeted by a draconic snarl that I recognized as having the words for “yes” and “shut the hell up” mixed in. Both dragons rose, snarling in unison, with Lance and I rising just seconds after. But as I tried to step in, my Pokegear began vibrating. The caller ID? Twist Mountain.

Lance met my eye. “I’ll mediate this; sadly, it won’t be the first time I’ve had to. There’s a video phone and computer in the guest room that you’re welcome to. Looks like you‘ll probably be staying the night anyway.”

I nodded my thanks to him and ducked out of the room, picking up my Pokegear. “Hey, let me transfer to a video phone, k?” I recognized a grumble from Scarr, granting me permission to do so. I found the phone and returned the call. Ferocity and Scarr picked up together. “Ok, what’s going on guys?” Ferocity glanced over my shoulder and growled. “What is it?” Scarr picked up a little Charmander, Dracoburn’s son. “Ohhhhh, I get it. I’ll go get Draco, hang on.”

Analyt and Lance’s Dragonite were standing eye-to-eye, fangs bared, but Lance seemed to be calming them down a bit. Their positions were at least a bit less guarded. “Draco, phone for you.” He sniffed in my direction for a moment, then returned his signtless gaze to the static in the living room. Not now, I’m not gonna miss this. This is more exciting then the league championships. Man, you should hear what the older one just said!

I rolled my eyes impatiently. “It’s about your kid.” He was on his feet in seconds.

Draco spoke with the two dragons for some time, then turned to me with a desperate look in his eyes. They think he’s sick or something. Apparently, he was in a practice match earlier and he started running a fever. They’ve tried cooling him down, but nothing has changed. Help. With the last few words, he let out a bit of a whine, and I could tell he was really worried. I pushed past him to give Ferocity directions on how to use the PC system to send him to where we were. He struggled just a little as they tried to get him in a Pokeball, but finally, the little orb was in our hands, and we recalled him onto the bed. Ferocity and Scarr were right, he didn’t look healthy. He was running a bit of a fever, and his skin was flushed. I took his pulse, and it was faster than it should have been, but not irregular. I slipped him a Sitris Berry, but he wouldn’t eat it. He wouldn’t even raise his head to take it.

We were still trying to coax him into eating when Lance entered the room, holding my bag. “Those two need some time to talk, but I don’t think they’ll be spitting fire any time soon.” He took in the scene before him, and dropped the bag. “What’s wrong with your Charmander?”

“I don’t know. It’s like he has heat stroke or something, but it’s only the beginning of February! And it’s only colder in Unova.” The little guy squirmed under my hand as I felt its forehead, and Draco shifted even closer. Lance moved to my side to examine the young Pokemon with me.

“That’s odd; normally, when Charmanders get sick or injured, their tail flames burn dimly, but his looks even hotter than it normally should be.” I focused my attention on the flame, and realized he was right. In fact, the flame was even a bluish white in the center. “Was he indoors or outdoors?”

I wasn’t sure, so I turned to Draco. Outdoors. Why does it matter? I relayed the information to Lance.

“Any idea what the weather was like?”

Again, I asked Draco, and repeated the answer. “Unusually sunny. You don’t think this is a sunburn, do you?”

Lance thought for a moment, checked the Charmander’s pulse, “Not quite. Have you ever heard of Pokemon with unusual abilities? I’ve read that in Unova, some Pokemon are born with a special ability that their species normally cannot have. A genetic mutation, of sorts. Read an article on it just a week or so ago.”

“Yea, I’ve got a Nidoking with Sheer Force. I captured him in the Entralink forest. But what ability would cause a Pokemon to get sick like this for no foreseeable reason?”

The young man had a curious look on his face, and he moved to the computer. A few minutes had passed when I caught him mumbling to himself. I glanced over his shoulder, and recognized the logo for PokecenterMD on the screen. He was plugging in the symptoms, and he pulled up a page. “Just what I suspected. That Charmander has Solar Power as its ability.” He paused, then pulled up some official-sounding text and read it aloud. “In bright sunlight, Solar Power raises the Special Attack stat 1.5×, but lowers the user's HP by 1/8 of its maximum HP at the end of each turn. Early signs of a Pokemon having Solar Power as its ability are restlessness in good weather, strong battle proficiency, a preference for Special attacks, and exhaustion after outdoor battles, even those where the Pokemon received no damage from the opponent. Symptoms of exhaustion from Solar Power mimic those of heat stroke, including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache and heat rash on the skin. To treat these symptoms, rest, fluids, and the use of berries and potions will relieve pain and fever. It is important to remove the Pokemon from the sun, or recovery may be hindered. Call your local Pokemon Center should the symptoms exist or be accompanied by rigors, vomiting, flu-like symptoms or should they last for more than twenty-four hours.”

I chewed on it for a second. “That sounds about right. But he refuses to eat the berry!”

But Lance inclined his head towards something behind me and nodded. I turned to see Draco grinding the berry into a pulp and gently smoothing the paste over the rash prickling the child’s skin. The little Charmander seemed to visibly relax under the careful talons of his father.

Just then, Analyt approached the door. Becca, my dad and I are gonna go for a night flight. We have some talking to do. That ok?

I smiled. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”

Wartiger97
29th February 2012, 5:48 AM
Sweet chapter and nice way of incoperating the Hidden Ability. Just curious is Draco's son based of the DW Charmander I traded you?

Glover
29th February 2012, 6:31 AM
Marvelous, well worth the wait. You've got a real talent for interesting side stories. The Solar Power trait is unique, I may steal that train of thought from you for another ability. *Is taking notes*

dracoburn
29th February 2012, 9:42 PM
Sweet chapter and nice way of incoperating the Hidden Ability. Just curious is Draco's son based of the DW Charmander I traded you?

Draco's son was actually created waaaaaaayyyyyyy back when, during the LoH arc.

Memory refresher:

Becca was visiting Cole at his gym in the Autumn Forest during the Omega War, planning the next battle. During this time, Cole's Charizard(Prometheus) took Dracoburn on a tour of the surrounding forest, which was loaded with fire types. There was a huge battle, a siege on the Flare Gym, and after the battle ended, Draco led Prometheus(and both trainers) to a clearing where they found a dying female Charizard. She gave Draco her son to care for, and then died.

While it's not specified that the Charmander shared Draco's blood in the story, the love that Draco had for the female Charizard makes it clear that at the very least, the two had an affair.

But to answer your question, the Solar Power Charmanders that I've started breeding, using yours as the mother, are the inspiration behind Draco's kid having an alternate ability. I'm trying to make it so that the main characters in my fic have in-game counterparts, and this makes it possible.

Wartiger97
1st March 2012, 3:34 AM
Ok sweet I'm glad that you were able to benefit from her. She was my only one that hatched female. I can't wait for the next chapter ;)

dracoburn
1st March 2012, 4:27 AM
I haven't even started writing it..

dracoburn
6th March 2012, 4:56 AM
Chapter Six: Like Father..

The weather gradually became warmer and clearer, and by the time the little Charmander was back to himself, the sun was gleaming through the trees. Lance was fully prepared to help with our little experiment, and we had both a location and a well-stocked first aid kit to help us out. Now, the only thing preventing us from testing the potential of his son was Draco himself.

No way.

“But Draco, can you imagine how great he could be if he trained to his full potential?”

He’s great now.

“But imagine how POWERFUL he could be..! And we don’t even know his nature yet.”

Or he could get sick again.

“Draco, we’re not going to let it go that far. We’ll get a berry into him as soon as he starts getting weak. I promise.”

He thought about that for a moment, crossing his arms. Fine. But not without you meeting a condition.

“And that would be?”

Draco clicked his talons against his shoulders as if he was unsure of how to phrase his next sentence. I want you to, uh, nickname him.

“Really? That’s it? You know you can name your son, I’ll just go along with what you choose.”

He rolled his eyes impatiently. I mean officially. I know you, you only nickname the Pokemon that you have plans for. That you plan on actually using. The ones you’re invested in. And that’s how it should be. To give a Pokemon a nickname means that a trainer cares about them, that they’re friends, family. Not pets, or worse, just something set aside for breeding or to trade away to someone else in exchange for something better.

“You know I’m not going to trade your son to anyone. I could never separate the two of you, not after…” I trailed off, remembering the day that Draco was given his son by the dying Charizard in the Autumn Forest surrounding the Flare Gym. With Cole and his Charizard so far away, chasing constellations or whatever it was they decided to hiatus over, the little Charmander was essentially Dracoburn’s only family.

I didn’t need to say anything. I know, I get it. But still. He’s important to me, and before we start training him, I want a verbal contract that he’s part of the whole family, not just mine.

“Fine, Draco. What were you thinking of? I’m not naming him anything without your input.”

I was thinking some kind of famous dragon. Something cool, like Volvagia or Argorok. He grinned, showing off his gleaming canines.

I looked at the baby dragon, who was playing with the fire of his own tail. He picked up a bit of grass and stuck it in the flame, but it was dry and ignited too quickly, singeing one of his fingers. He turned to his father whining and showing off his burn, tears in his eyes, which were the same aquamarine of Draco’s. I flicked open my Pokedex to check his nature. Timid. Could I really picture this tiny salamander growing into a monster?

I tried to be graceful about it. “Uh, both of those dragons are evil. Do you really want to place that sort of self-fulfilling prophecy on him?”

Draco was showing him how to choose the perfect kindling and craft a small fire in a safer way. I don’t know then. Just something along those lines.

The Charmander had forgotten his burn and was now trying to coax a Weedle into Draco’s tail flame. The Charizard played along by twitching his tail away as soon as he got close. “He reminds me of you as a kid a bit. Always playing with his tail flame. Tail flame.. Wait, how about Valoo?”

Not quite as shudder-inducing as I had fancied.

“What about when Valoo flies in and sets that entire dungeon on fire? Is that scary enough for you?”

The worm spooked away from the heat of Draco’s tail and began to squirm away in the opposite direction. The Charmander chased after it, spouting an unsteady stream of fire, leaving embers trailing behind.

Sure. Valoo’s a fine name for him. But we’re going to make sure he grows to be a little less.. Slow. Right?

“Draco, Valoo would be plenty fast if he didn’t move at the speed of plot. How quickly he reaches the conflict depends on how quickly you kill that giant, stupid Honchkrow.”

Dracoburn scooped up his son and murmured something to him. “Char! Man-der!” the child responded. Says he likes it. Make it official and we can go train.

I plugged the name into my Pokedex and added him as the third member of my traveling team. “Alright. It’s official. Now, let’s see what he can do.”

dracoburn
4th April 2012, 3:46 AM
Chapter Seven: A new form of nostalgia

Analyt, who was just now gaining the ability to fly short distances despite the cast on his wing, had bonded with his father over the past few days by renovating the Blackthorn gym. It wasn’t quite finished yet, but was in much better shape than before. Now, instead of a maze using boulders to cross the lava, which the Pokemon Gym HQ had recently deemed unsafe, it involved a puzzle with moving platforms and switches that could be manipulated to get to the end of the gym. It also featured a retractable roof, though it wasn’t complete, so the roof remained open at all times, only to be covered by a tarp at night and when rain was expected. Valoo’s training would be beneficial not only to him, but to the whole city, as we would use it to test the puzzle.

Draco insisted on holding Valoo as I manipulated the switches. Analyt flew ahead, claiming that the rotating platforms made him dizzy. As the renovations had yet to be finished, none of the gym trainers, or Clair, who was still the leader after so many years, were there. We moved through the gym quietly and unchallenged, anticlimax showing itself to be a sound theme. But I knew better, as did Dracoburn. Our opponent at the end would be, after all, the champion of Johto. Of course, he wouldn’t be using his real team. Lance had come prepared with a full team of weaker, Little Class, Pokemon.

“This is a bit of a special situation, so I will allow you to completely heal your Charmander between Pokemon. The sun should be bright enough to activate its ability, so when you’re ready, we can begin.”

Draco reluctantly released his son. Valoo looked so startlingly Lilliputian standing alone at his side of the battlefield, a tiny orange dot who stood smaller in circumference than most of the cobblestones studding the floor.

“Alright,” the dragon master continued, “here’s how it works: I send out a Pokemon, your Charmander battles it, you heal it. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Pokemon I will send out will gradually get more powerful. As soon as your Charmander faints or defeats all of my Pokemon, we’re done. Got it?”

“Easy. When you’re ready, Lance.”

The redheaded male’s navy blue cape swooped around him as he drew a Pokeball from a clip on his belt. He tapped the button on the front twice and released a form even smaller than Valoo. The beam of energy fully materialized mid-air into one of the first Pokemon I had ever battled: a Pidgey. The tiny bird fluttered about four feet in the air, the bright sunlight gleaming from its glossy feathers.

A freakin’ Pidgey? Draco asked, confounded. He paired my son against a Pidgey for his first match? I was hoping for something a little less.. Lame.

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention to Valoo. We had spent the last week reviewing battle commands and etiquette, and he was just as fast a learner as his father, so I knew he was prepared. Again, I shook off a feeling of déjà vu and like that, the match was upon us.

“Valoo, Flamethrower!” I commanded. From behind me, I could almost hear the grin on Draco’s face as he recognized the powerful egg moves that his son had been born with. The little Charmander swung his head around and launched a blaze from deep within his belly. Tiny embers circled around the stream of fire and the area in my line of sight became distorted with heat waves rising around Valoo. And to think, just that weekend he was struggling to use Ember! It was as if he was born to battle!

But Lance was, of course, prepared. “Pidgey, Whirlwind.” The tiny bird thrust its wings forward to create a tearing gust of wind which thinned the flame and shot bits of it back towards Valoo. The little Charmander turned tail and ran from the approaching fire storm. However, enough fire broke through the wind, probably with help from Solar Power, that the Pidgey was still scorched. It dropped to the ground, flapping its wings wildly to extinguish the tiny flames clinging to its body. Valoo managed to outrun the embers from the Whirlwind and spun around, suddenly unafraid. He took some initiative and charged toward the little bird, striking it down with a wicked Dragon Claw. The Pidgey twitched a few times, but was unable to stand, let alone fly, and Valoo was declared the winner.

Draco called his son back to us, and I managed to force a Sitris Berry into him, no easy feat with his father fussing over him. Even more difficult was convincing the two to part for the second round.

“Alright, next one should be a little harder.” Lance grinned, flashing sharp canines akin to his Pokemon’s. He drew a Pokeball, flicked his wrist to the battlefield, and a new shape materialized. The creature stood a few feet taller than Valoo, and the little Charmander let out a startled cry as the emerging green creature sharpened the blades on its forearms against each other. Dracoburn gasped behind me. A Scyther? Isn’t that a little.. Much?

“Draco, you’re acting like a Kangaskhan, chill out. At least Valoo’s got the type advantage.”

Lance’s grin widened as he shouted to me from across the field. “You’ll see where this is going soon enough, trust me.”

The mantis shrieked and charged forward, easily outpacing the tiny lizard, who started and turned as if to run away again. As soon as Valoo spun around, though, the Scyther had a scythe to his throat. “Checkmate.” Lance leered from the other side, but the Charmander had another idea. He lurched forward and chomped down hard on the bit of flesh lining the blade, causing the mantis to squeal and release its grasp. With this, Valoo jumped into the air and slapped his opponent in the face with his fiery tail, leaving embers stinging in the aggressive bug’s eyes. The Scyther had to drop its concentration entirely to work the ash out enough to regain its sight, and Valoo launched a Flamethrower at close range, roasting the green beast like something one would find on a stick at a street fair in a developing country.

Lance recalled his incinerated insect, and I recalled Valoo to fully restore his health. “Alright, this time you’ll be hard-pressed to floor my Pokemon with that nasty Flamethrower. I’m impressed with that evasive maneuver, though. Quick thinking.” He flicked yet another Pokeball into the air, and from it materialized a hefty pink Pokemon. I could hear Analyt chuckling from behind me. This should be an easy match. He murmured.

I wasn’t too sure, though. I remembered my third gym battle, where a Miltank had pretty seriously battered my team. “Be careful, Valoo!” I shouted as he returned to his spot.

The cow began the match by curling itself into the fetal position, heightening its defense by protecting its soft underbelly. Valoo took advantage of this by charging forward and raking claws glowing with a purple fire down its back. The Miltank uncoiled briefly to shrug off the damage, then rolled up again and kicked off of the ground, spinning rapidly towards the little Charmander, who squeaked and dodged, trembling slightly. “Valoo, get away! If it misses, it can’t power up!” Valoo looked at me, nodded, then began clawing at the ground, digging himself a small pit to hide in. As the cow passed over his hole, he jumped out and clawed it from underneath. It let out an odd grunting sound and stopped in its tracks as Valoo ducked back into his hole and dug out further, popping back up on the other side of the battlefield. He reared his head back to prepare a Flamethrower, but I stopped him. “Valoo, wait! Most Miltanks I’ve fought have Thick Fat, your fire type moves won’t do very much!” He stopped himself, glowed white for a few seconds as his tail flame grew in size, and instead launched a Solarbeam as the cow rocketed in his direction.

What I had thought would obliterate the opponent, though, instead seemed to make it stronger, and it basked in the ray as it sped towards Valoo, knocking him backwards and dealing a sizable amount of damage. Lance winked from his spot across from me. “Couldn’t make this too easy for you, now could I? This Miltank has Sap Sipper as its ability.”

Valoo looked as if his health was really starting to fall. He was on his knees, panting, and his tail flame was flickering. I had to end this before his ability began to really harm him. “Fine, then we’ll have to get aggressive. Valoo, never mind, roast that beef!” He shook his head to clear it, and got to his feet. The Miltank spun around for another charge and Valoo launched the best Flamethrower I had seen out of him yet, completely enveloping his bovine competitor in fire hot enough to raise the temperature in the room. As the smoke cleared, the opponent laid unconscious in its tracks.

Valoo returned to us limping from exhaustion. Enough. Draco growled from behind me, but his decision was met by a cry of protest from his son. The two exchanged some words, and the Charizard finally looked away, obviously defeated. Fine. He can battle one more opponent, but only one. Is that clear? I was unsure whether he was really telling me or simply confirming it with himself that he was being a good parent.

Lance seemed to understand our conversation from fifty-some feet away. “You ready to call it a day?” he shouted.

“No, I think we can take one more.”

“Alright, then. The next Pokemon you’ll be facing is-”

“Gastly?” I cut him off.

“I see you’ve picked up on the pattern!” He grinned the iconic dragon master smile, his canines a little too visible, one that I recognized from my own expression, as well as those of my Pokemon.

Lance sent out the gaseous blob of a Pokemon, and Valoo stood up to it bravely as it sneered at him. “Valoo, it can’t take a hit,” I instructed. “Get in close and hit it with a Dragon Claw!”

“Char!” Valoo confirmed, and dashed towards the ghost, but it had another idea. It disappeared, then emerged hovering over Valoo’s head. It spun around his face for a few seconds, then vanished again. I wondered at first what this show could have possibly been about, but then noticed the blank expression on the Charmander’s face. “Valoo.. Snap out of it!” But the possessed lizard instead took a few steps towards us and let loose a Flamethrower in our direction, causing Draco and I to jump back as embers licked at our feet. Dracoburn yelped in alarm, which seemed to register with his son. Valoo sneezed and shook his head, and the Gastly cleared from his victim’s mind, leaving behind one angry Charmander.

Valoo’s eyes now darkened with vengeance, and he spun to face the cackling oppressor. He snarled and unleashed yet another Flamethrower, turning as it unfurled like the sails of a grand ship, torching the entire area so as not to miss. A noxious odor and some steam were produced as the ghost shrieked and faded into almost nothing, leaving behind only a pair of sad-looking eyes. Lance recalled it, and sprinted across the field to where I treated Valoo’s injuries. “Good match.” he said as he helped me to my feet. I admired how he could run twenty yards and not only avoid tripping over his long, flowing cape, but also that he could immediately initiate conversation without panting.

“He reminds me of his father.” I murmured. Reminds me of his mother. Dracoburn echoed in my mind. We paused to drink in the nostalgia.

The dragon master nudged me, causing us to snap out of it. “C’mon. Let’s go get some food. I’m thinking filet mignon tonight. Arceus, I love being a champion.”

Awesome, I’m starved! Draco yelped, and Valoo was quick at our heels, making me feel like I was ten years old all over again, with my brand new baby Charmander and only a few tough battles beneath my belt.

dracoburn
14th April 2012, 11:12 PM
Chapter Eight: Newer Than Was Known

That night, Lance and I retired by the fireplace as our Pokemon slept, sipping tea with honey and contentment. Dracoburn was snoring obnoxiously on the rug by the fire, but it was otherwise a rather perfect, peaceful evening. Our bellies were full, our laps occupied by dozing baby dragons. It was an archetype of relaxation. Lance finally spoke. “What are you planning to do next?”

“You’re kicking me out.” It was more of a statement than a question. As a trainer, I was used to shuffling around, though I had been enjoying my time in Blackthorn, and couldn’t help but let my shoulders slump a little. Dracoburn, detecting a wave of disappointment from me, stirred to survey the damages.

“N-no! Arceus no!” He stammered, alarmed, making the Dratini on his lap perk up. “Actually, it was the opposite, rather.” Lance cleared his throat, and it took him multiple attempts. Is he nervous? I asked myself in surprise. “I, uh.. If, um, you’re not really wrapped around the lone wolf trainer thing, I was wondering if I…” He paused again, grinding his teeth together.

I finished for him. “Want to join me? I can’t stay here for too long.. Maybe some training in the Dragon’s Den, but.. There are some things I have to take care of that require travel. But if you’re not busy here..”

A quiet blush slowly crept across his face, a burn searing along his cheekbones and ears. “Well, uh, I just figured since I like dragons, and you like dragons.. We’re both Johto champions.. Neither of us much like Claire..”

I feigned skepticism. “Now, if finding your cousin to be a narcissistic louse is our magical bond..” He looked down and pulled his shoulders in, looking nothing like the terrifying façade he often played for his challengers. “I’m kidding!” I laughed. “I’d love to journey with you, Lance. Our Pokemon seem to get along, and I don’t mind some intelligent conversation every now and then.” Dracoburn showed that he was listening by snorting indignantly at that last remark. “I mean, intelligent human conversation. Hearing a human voice every now and then.”

We settled back then, comfortably chatting, and eventually drifted off to our respective quarters. That night, I had the forest dream again, still urgently pressing in the back of my head, but in a less dramatic way. It was now affirming me rather than mocking me. By the time I got up, Lance was already in the kitchen, sipping tea. He motioned to my spot at the table where a cup was waiting for me. I thanked him with a smile.

“The weather’s supposed to be nice today, so we can train Valoo again, if you’re interested,” he began conversationally. “He hasn’t finished burning through the full team.”

“Sure, maybe after I wake up a little. And after Draco wakes up. Trust me, you want him to wake up on his own.”

We made small talk then. Just simple discussion about when the gym renovations would be wrapped up, or where the best place in Blackthorn is to buy organic steaks. We had just transitioned to the best place to land a Dragon Claw attack when an alternative rock tune began ringing from across the room.

“Coldplay. Nice.” I praised as Lance jumped up to pick up his Pokegear, which was carelessly strewn across an end table.

“Hello? Yes. What? What? I can hardly hear you, what did you say?” His eyebrows narrowed, and he stared absentmindedly at a spot on the wall. “What are you talking about? What’s happening?” Whitney, he mouthed to me from the living room and made a motion as if he were clearing a place setting. I understood the gesture, and grabbed both empty mugs, one at a time with my good arm, filling them with water and placing them in the sink to deal with later. “Where are you now?… Uh huh.. Uh huh.. How bad is it?” I turned as he sucked up his breath into a gasp. I raised an eyebrow, a silent question. “We’ll be there as soon as we can be. Alright. Just hang on as best as you can till we get there.” He strapped the Pokegear to his wrist and met me at the edge of the small kitchen. “Goldenrod. Sounds like they’re having some earthquakes, and they want me to run down and do damage control, rally the masses and keep the kids from getting hurt. You up for a little accidental carnage?” I nodded, and we breezed off to our rooms.

I tugged on a pair of jeans and drew my hair back into a ponytail, no time to fuss over either. He was strapping on one of his signature capes as I returned, and I wondered why I didn’t have a cool outfit that went along with my league type. Hell, maybe I did. Lance ran off to wake up his Dragonite, and Analyt, who was of course already awake, helped me get Draco out of bed. We met again at the door and dashed out, jumping onto our dragons as soon as we were out the door, almost in perfect synchronization. I returned Analyt to his Pokeball as we lifted off.

We made no conversation on the flight to Goldenrod, as we were flying too quickly to hear anyway. As we approached the city, which I expected to be the Johto giant it always was, with tall buildings and lights on 24/7, we could already recognize how much catastrophe had already occurred. Fires ravaged what was left of the signature skyscrapers, and screams echoed even as we passed over the National Park.

We angled in sharply as we passed over the city, landing about a block away from the gym, and a shrieking woman with an infant in her arms almost crashed into me as she ran like a Combusken with its head cut off. Lance immediately grabbed her arm to direct her to the nearest underground path, a major precaution of the city’s against just this kind of disaster. A shelter. “We’re going to have to split up!” he shouted to me as I tried to corral a group of petrified Marrill and Azumarrill.

“Ok! Draco and I will make sure nobody is in the buildings, you try to get people underground to stop panicking! They’ll recognize you as the champion!” We nodded in sync, then spun in our respective directions.

Draco, who had gotten the Pokemon to follow Lance’s Dragonite, was now pulling on my shoulder. We need to go to the Radio Tower. There’s a fire, and I think there might be people inside!

“On it!” I confirmed, and reached over his back with my left arm, grabbing his collarbone on the other side to swing myself onto his back. We immediately took off, swerving around what was left of the Magnet Train track, which was shattered like a brittle, dry stick that had been struck against a stone. Pieces stuck up from where they were haphazardly strewn about the road, and the train itself, which had unfortunately derailed, was half-in, half-out of where it had plowed through the Game Corner. I swallowed hard, feeling almost sick to my stomach, and hoped that the train wasn’t on a passenger run when the quakes struck.

We hovered over the Radio Tower, which was engulfed in smoke and spouting flames. The black tower looked more like a steaming chunk of hardened and cooling lava then a landmark. We touched down near the opening, which was blocked off by a fallen beam. Or several of them, rather. I swung my bag around my shoulder and dug out one of my Pokeballs. You are NOT releasing my son into this mess. Dracoburn growled.

“Relax, he’s at home. Lance left one of his Dragonites to baby-sit.” I tapped the center button, wishing that my good arm was available and cursing Arceus for the damned sling restraining it. “Analyt, cool off those flames!” I flicked the capsule forward awkwardly, and my Dragonite almost crashed as he materialized. He took a second to take it all in, looking petrified. “ANALYT!” He snapped out of it, and spun to face me, determination recoloring his face. “Use Surf and douse some of the fire, but try not to use much force. I don’t want that building to collapse any further.” He nodded, and concentrated on the entrance. Water rose from the sea nearby, dripping down on buildings as it surged over our heads. He channeled it towards the smoldering building and managed to at least clear the smoke.

Draco and I dashed to the blocked entrance and started trying to clear it. I found it virtually impossible to do one-handed, and was finding it harder and harder as every movement made my left arm more and more tired. Dracoburn was slashing away at the wreckage to make it easier for me to clear away, but it was difficult, and the situation was getting desperate. The sound of a collapsing beam came from inside, and I thought maybe I could make out sobbing. I dropped a searing hot bit of metal on my foot and swore in three different tongues. Draco spun around at this. What are you doing? We have to go save that person!

“I KNOW, DRACO! It’s not like I’m TRYING to be so incompetent!”

Guys.. Analyt moaned in a strained voice. I can’t add more water without causing more collapse. Hurry up…

“Draco,” I gasped, yanking my foot out from underneath the chunk of metal. “Get this stupid cast off of my arm!”

He looked at me like I was an idiot. Are you nuts? The doctor said you had to wear it through March, and it’s late February.

“Just DO IT already!” I held out my arm as best as I could, sending him a mental picture so that he could aim well. He shrugged, then, with an only slightly more gentle than usual Dragon Claw, tore three jagged lines down the length of the plaster, cutting into my skin in spots. I didn’t care, though, and used my left arm to rip the tattered remains of the cast from my arm, discarding it at the side of the road. I used my right arm in conjunction with my left now to clear away the rubble, but it wasn’t much easier now than it was before, as my muscles had clearly atrophied and my joints screamed in agony. But adrenaline is a powerful drug, and in time the entrance was cleared.

Finally breaking free, Draco and I entered what was once the lobby of the Radio Tower. The ceiling had collapsed in places, and what might have been a DJ booth was now combined with the front desk. Draco cocked his head, trying to locate any signs of life, but even with his enhanced hearing, I caught it first. A whimpering sound was coming from behind the desk/booth. “Draco, use your wings and try to clear some of this smoke away!” I choked. “I’m going in.”

A tailwind came from behind me and my vision improved just enough to notice a huddled black mass curled in a corner, trembling. I vaulted over the desk and reached the shape. I touched what I thought was a shoulder, and the creature twitched with a woman turning to face me. She looked at me in blind terror, only to lose consciousness. Analyt! I called out telepathically. Follow the link and make a hole where I am! I found someone and she needs out, now!

A scraping sound came when I was finally beginning to give up on him having heard me. The wall a few feet to my left crumbled and gave way, leaving an opening just big enough to push someone through. I hauled what I thought was Mary over my shoulder and passed her off to Analyt, who pulled her aside to assist later. I turned back to reevaluate the corner and found three more shapes, another shaped like a human, the other two smaller. I grabbed the unconscious human first and passed her(Buena?) off as well. The other two, obviously Pokemon, were light enough for me to handle lifting together. I passed them, a Jigglypuff and a Meowth, off to Analyt, and he moved them to where the humans were beginning to stir, choking on the new fresh air. “I’m going back in! Make sure their airways are cleared, and when they wake up, get them underground with the others!” He responded with a quick nod and spun around to revive the DJs and their Pokemon.

I turned back to where Dracoburn was now trying to prop the crumbling stairway back up, a perhaps impossible task. “Draco, what are you doing? We’ve saved the people, we should try to get out of here before the roof caves in!”

He shook his head sharply. No. There are more, on higher floors. But I’m not sure these stairs are fit for use.

“Then let’s fly! I’ll give you a visual.” I leaped from the desk straight onto his back and showed him as much of the building as I could see, despite the smoke in my eyes. Not a lot to go off of. Dracoburn muttered. “I did the best I could. So much smoke in here I can hardly make anything out. Just follow your ears.” My voice was getting hoarser and hoarser by the moment, and my throat hurt something fierce. I hoped we wouldn’t be stuck here for long.

I angled my hips to guide Draco through the holes in the second floor. Unsure of the safety of the crumbling ground, we hovered, searching for sounds. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything on this floor. Let’s move on.” Dracoburn thrashed his wings, and we went up through a patch in the ceiling that matched a hole beneath us, areas where the radio booths had fallen through the floor. Upon reaching the next level, we found another blackened shape, a male human this time. I hoisted him onto Draco’s back and tried to revive him as we swept up to the next floor.

“Draco, we need to hurry. This guy’s really weak.” The man’s breathing was coming more and more faintly by the moment, and I was having no luck getting him to wake up.

I know. I think there’s just one more.

Draco pumped his wings harder to gain altitude with the additional weight on his back. He swerved around crumbling bits of ceiling and charred furniture as it fell from above us, molten metal dripping from boiling beams. We followed the sound of ragged, gasping breaths coming from an upper level room. There, we found another humanoid figure in even worse shape than the last. I grabbed him with my unoccupied hand, and Draco groaned under the further increase in weight. Ugh.. I think that’s it.. he panted. Let’s.. Let’s get out of here..

“Draco…” I gasped, just as exhausted as he was. “Burn a hole through the roof.. I don’t think any of us can take much more of this smoke..” I broke off coughing.

Dracoburn whipped his head around and shot a pillar of flame through the ceiling, weakening it further. Hang on tight. I did as I was told, holding the two unconscious men pinned to his sides. Draco thrashed his wings against the ground and shot forward, crashing through what was left of the roof. We soared over the remains of the building, an empty shell beneath us, then fell back to the earth, landing in a heap by the entrance. Wincing, I forced myself to my feet to find Analyt, concerned, to my right. “Analyt! Put out that fire! We’ll take care of the people!” I shuddered as another coughing fit struck me, but managed to drag the men from my weakened Charizard’s back. One of the men began to stir, but the other laid completely limp.

I rolled him over and made sure his airway was clear, and in a short time, he came back from the Void, choking on the clean air. He spat blood on the ground, and looked at me with a confused look on his face. The other man was trying to sit up, mumbling unintelligibly. I swung my bag over my shoulder and dug out a few bottles of fresh water. As soon as both were awake, I got them each to sip a little of the water.

Just as Analyt finished dousing the flames, the ground began to tremble. “Aftershock..” The two dragons spun to face me, the color draining from their faces. “Quickly! We have to get them to shelter!” The dragons nodded. I loaded one man onto each of their backs, then grabbed the Pokemon and helped the two semiconscious women to their feet. We dashed to the nearest shelter entrance and were quickly met by a swarm of petrified people and crying children. Pokemon huddled together in corners. As we shooed a spooked, but healthy, family from a bench to lay our charges down on, Lance’s authoritarian voice boomed across the PA system. “Attention, citizens of Goldenrod. This is your champion speaking. I understand that you are afraid and that some of you are injured. But we need you to remain orderly and calm so that Whitney and your area zone leaders can take role. Thank you for your cooperation. We will keep you up-to-date with information about your city and we promise to supply you with the best service we can, so long as you remain calm.” The announcement repeated in Japanese, a woman’s voice providing the translation, then the system clicked off.

“Analyt, keep an eye on these people and try to keep this zone organized. Draco and I are going back up to make sure no one else is stuck in this mess.”

We pushed past the area zone leader, a trainer from the gym, to whom I had to flash my league ID so that I could pass. We took off immediately, thankfully dodging the growing cracks in the asphalt roads before they could reach us. We did a full sweep around the city and found multiple stray, petrified and dangerous, Pokemon whom we were able to calm down and capture, but no humans. No living humans, anyway. The streets were streaked with blood, but when we dove in to check, the people were long since responsive. An elderly man in a small house, for example, was collapsed with a beam from the roof crushing his skull. A couple of baby Eevees were whimpering from under a table in that room, and I captured them. A few computers in the back of the room looked irreparable. The Goldenrod Flower Shop had been ravaged in a fire, and two women, along with their grass Pokemon, were burned beyond recognition. We held a moment of silence for them before rolling them over to check their nametags and identify who they were. We flew over Miracle Cycle, where I had gotten my first bike, to see the roof had caved in and the bikes were burnt to the ground, molten piles of metal and rubber. Thankfully, the owner was nowhere to be found. The Department Store, a Goldenrod landmark, had fallen to its side and parts of the building were scattered around the surrounding shops and homes.

After completing our sweep, we returned to the underground to find Lance. He was in a back room just past area zone six’s check-in point, discussing the results of the role call with Whitney. “Well, almost everybody checked in.. The owner of Miracle Cycle wasn’t here, but one of his workers said they last saw him trying to ride a bike out of town." She swallowed and continued. "Bill’s family were here aside from his father, and they were extremely concerned about him. Only about half of the employees from the Flower Shop were at their checkpoint.. I hope they’re alright..”

I took a deep breath and approached from behind. “I just did a sweep of the city. We captured about two dozen stray and trained Pokemon alike, and we can distribute them to their rightful owners when the aftershocks stop coming and it’s safe to get back on land. An older man in a house northeast of the Pokemon Center was unfortunately killed, but I rescued a pair of Eevees hiding in that same home.”

“Bill’s father..” Whitney sighed.

I continued. “The flower shop was burned to the ground and we found two human bodies as well as a couple of Pokemon. I’m not sure, but I think one was a Gloom. No clue about the other. I checked the identification of the corpses and one was named Trinity. The other had no identification that I could find.”

At this, Whitney looked on the verge of tears, so I tried to brighten the news, as best I could. “I ran by Miracle Cycle and there was no sign of the owner, but I find it likely that he got away on one of his bikes. If I remember, he was rather passionate about his personal cycle, and it wasn’t there from what I could see. I found no bodies of children and very few Pokemon were killed.” I gave her a sad smile and looked down at my shoes. I sensed Draco bowing his head behind me.

“Th-thanks..” she whimpered. “I.. I need a minute..” She sighed and trudged off into the welcoming arms of her second-in-command trainer.

As I was about to turn towards Lance, he caught me in his arms. “Arceus, I’m so glad you’re ok. You look like you’ve been in a fire.”

I pulled back and smiled weakly. “Radio Tower. Some DJs and I think the Director were inside. But don’t worry, we got them out ok. Analyt’s been keeping an eye on them, and last I saw they were recovering from the smoke inhalation.”

“I’m just glad you and your Pokemon are safe.” He let me go as if he was unsure whether I’d be ok without his hands on my shoulders. “Wasn’t your arm in a sling this morning?..”

I suddenly remembered the throbbing pain in my right arm, but laughed it off. “Simple sacrifice in exchange for efficiency. I’ll explain later.”

Lance returned my smile with a nervous one of his own. He looked a bit cleaner than I was, but it was obvious that he had done some above-ground work as well. His cape was missing, as if he’d yanked it off when it got in the way, and he was covered in soot. His flaming hair was messed up and grungy, and he had a few cuts and bruises, but appeared generally unhurt. In fact, he matched most of the citizens. “The scientists who’ve been measuring these earthquakes and aftershocks say that the Richter Scale readings are returning to normal. Looks like we’ll be able to go home tonight, thank Arceus. Most of the citizens have calmed down, and Whitney and I have made some calls to surrounding cities. Azalea, Ecruteak and Violet have all offered lodging for those whose homes are inaccessible, which is about all of the town. We’re still awaiting replies from Olivine and Mahogany, but I think Whitney can handle diplomacy from here. Morty and Falkner flew in to help her out.” He sighed, obviously exhausted. “Just let me make a last announcement and we can head back to Blackthorn in time for dinner.”

“Alright, I’ll find our Pokemon and heal them up for the flight. Meet you here in half an hour?”

He nodded, and we split up yet again. I prayed that our separation wouldn’t last quite as long as before.

dracoburn
22nd April 2012, 2:41 AM
Chapter Nine: Dreaming's a Disaster of its Own

You’re an idiot. Dracoburn woke me from my daydream. We’d been working on repairs at Goldenrod for about a week. While Analyt prepared food with some humans and other Pokemon, Draco and I worked wherever we were put. For the past few hours, that had meant lugging medical supplies to the underground stronghold and helping check out any injuries or illnesses brought on by the disasters just a few days before. At some point, Analyt had presented each of us with some soup and demanded that we take a lunch break. Draco had snapped up the opportunity for some lunch, while I had really gone more for the break. Not a physical rest, per se. More just a chance to let my mind wander a bit. And, in the gruff words of my Charizard, my mind had wandered past the point of no return.

I shook my head to clear it, and tried to focus my attention on the French Onion in my lap, which had gone cold. But I knew despite my efforts, I couldn’t peel the stupid smile off of my face.

Draco sighed. You know that’s a rather asinine way of thinking, Becca. He’s what, five plus years older than you? And famous? Just a childhood celebrity crush renewed by adrenaline and pheromones. The daydream he had caught me in was a memory of Lance carrying lumber on his back the day before. Completely ordinary and entirely platonic before I photoshopped the image in my mind to have him bronzed, shirtless, and carrying me in those strong arms rather than the wood.

“Draco, I’m an adult, statutory laws no longer applies. Besides, I’ve already worked out the end of this story. The least you can do is let me dream a little before I crash-land back to the real world.”

Humph, the dragon sighed, taking my bowl to finish off my portion. I’m so glad I’m beyond those pitiful human emotions. I grabbed at my bowl and he relented slightly, letting me have the last of the mushy cheese bread melted on the top. But I recognize that it’s a human thing, entirely inescapable to you. He grinned arrogantly. Just like how my devilish good looks are an inescapable Charizard thing.

“Whatever.” I kicked back and put my feet up, watching Valoo play with the dinosaur-shaped nuggets of some sort of possibly synthesized meat product that served as the kid‘s lunch option. “A girl can dream, can’t she?” I realized I was repeating my previous argument, but didn’t really care. “It’s such a nicer world when we have control over the results of our interactions. When the world can’t intercede with stuff like, well, this.” I gestured to the ruins of the Goldenrod Department Store. “Daydreams are the best. It’s the nightmares that are rough.” Draco shuddered, proof that even he was plagued by pain when he had no control of where his mind went. “Hope in a REM cycle is like a Porygon on TV; something traumatic occurs and things are forever redefined. But in daydreams, we can control our own fates, and the end often justifies the means.”

The crimson dragon looked me in the eye, his own cloudy jewels of blue gleaming with wisdom beyond his years. Just don’t lose yourself in them. We really cannot replace you. Nor can he.

dracoburn
27th April 2012, 5:22 AM
Chapter Ten: On Flashbacks and Catching Up

“Whoa.. Impressive collection you’ve got there, Lance.” The repairs in Goldenrod were at long last under control, and we had been commanded to take a day off. It was raining like mad outside, so we had opted to spend the drizzly Sunday indoors with frozen pizzas and hot tea. While the food perfumed the house and left Draco anxiously pacing for the hour-long slow bake to complete, Lance had decided to show me a rather interesting hobby of his; ferreting away uniforms from now disbanded evil teams that he had gone undercover in to foil certain operations. It was a somewhat bizarre pastime, but I’d seen a few moments of it during the Omega War and couldn’t deny that the closet full of cloaks and jumpsuits brought back exciting memories.

“You like it? Most people think it’s weird that I hang onto these, or that I even do the undercover work, but.. Well, it keeps me young.” He ran his hand over the stylized “M” of a Magma Emblem. “I’ve got most of them, actually. Rocket through Plasma. I’ve also got a Cipher and a Dim Sun, but those were gifts; I haven’t spent much time in the Southern Hemisphere. Didn’t help that most of the Southern invasions happened while more pivotal ones were occurring in the North. For example, Snagem was going on right around the time Aqua and Magma were going at it, and I figured Hoenn was in more danger than Orre.”

Yea, Orre had Glover, Wes and Michael.. I thought. “So how is it that you never got an Omega uniform into your collection?”

He thought on it for a moment. “Well, the Jorneymen seemed to have the Unovan armies under control. We were able to keep them from doing much damage in Johto, so no opportunity really presented itself for me to go undercover.”

I felt my cheeks go warm and suddenly interested myself with the hem on the ugly Galactic jumpsuit, feeling bashful.

“What’s wrong? I know you were in Unova. Did it get bad?”

I swallowed hard, suddenly nervous and embarrassed. “Lance, I’ve told you I’m in that advanced universal league, right? The League of Heroes?”

He nodded. “Yea, I know. Did something happen at your headquarters or something?”

My throat tickled with nervous laughter. “Well, yes and no. Ok, so I don’t really tell a lot of people about this. Publicity and all. But you can keep a secret, right?”

We sat down at the edge of his bed. “Of course I can. Rather pivotal for undercover work, you know.” His smile reassured me, filling me with warmth, so I figured it was safe.

“Ok, so, the League of Heroes is officially led by a guy named Raj. But he’s pretty quiet and does most of his work behind-the-scenes. During the War, though, we had someone else take charge. We know him as Cole, our fire-type gym leader. But the rest of the world knows him better as the Firebrand.”

It took a second to register. “Wait.. You guys were.. You were part of..”

“That’s right, Lance. During the Omega War, I was a member of the Journeymen.”

“So.. So those two Charizards that flew in sync, the fabled draconic brethren.. One of those was Dracoburn?”

I nodded. “Yes. And the other was Cole’s Charizard. And yes, the two are indeed kin. Cole’s Charizard is Draco’s younger brother. Hatched of the same parents, just a couple of years apart, just as Cole and I are.”

Lance looked thoughtful, but not disbelieving. “Aside from your starting in Johto with a Charmander rather than a Cyndaquil, Totodile or Chikorita, that makes a lot of sense. But that’s a story for a later date. Anyway, back to your involvement in the Omega War.” Lance was behaving almost like a kid on Solstice Eve, pressing me for answers. But after about two years of silence, I was finally willing to oblige.

“Well, Cole played a major role in the defeat of Team Plasma. Of course, all of that took place months before I even went to Unova. Before the league even started. But as it happens, Ghetsis and the Shadow Triad were using the months between Plasma’s disbanding and our league’s formation to regroup, reform as Team Omega, and capture much, much more powerful Pokemon to arm their remaining loyal subjects with. They assembled a mighty force, promising innocent people corrupting power, Ghetsis ruling with an iron fist without N to handle the diplomacy. The day they became official was the eve of our league’s summit, the evening that we assigned standards and got to know each other. As we were setting up the regulations, Ghetsis and his bodyguards, the Shadow Triad, appeared in the room demanding that we surrender our Pokemon in exchange for kidnapped league members of ours. But we weren’t letting go that easily. So what could we do but stand and fight?”

Just then, the oven timer buzzed, and we regrouped in the kitchen. I convinced Draco to share his triple meat with Valoo and Lance’s Dragonite, and we laughed as the former three snarled at Analyt’s veggie pie. Lance and I poured some tea and opted to split a Hawaiian.

I picked a piece of pineapple off of my slice and resumed. “So, the War came, inevitably, and we fought in a few battles. Lost some lives. None of my Pokemon died, but a few were injured. Cole lost a few, and Draco lost his mate. Valoo lost his mother and all of his siblings. But Cole and I broke through the ranks of legends in the Final Battle, and I’m sure you know about N’s sacrifice. Cole killed Ghetsis with the Gauntlets of Fire and Lightning. You know the story.”

He was nodding thoughtfully again. “Yes, I do remember the stories. But I never really knew the details.”

I smiled. “Well, now you do. Oh, you’ll love this!”

Lance cocked his head ever-so-slightly for me to continue.

“Ok, so, one of our league members got her Pokemon kidnapped, so a group of us infiltrated an Omega base to rescue them. We got to go undercover as Omega grunts to find the Pokemon, and when we did, we released every captured critter in the entire warehouse from their cages. They tore through the roof, and even wild Pokemon got involved. Now that was one of our better moments as a group.” It was also the day that Cole helped me get over my fear of tunneling underground, but I didn’t think that tidbit would earn me points in this scenario.

The Dragon Master’s eyes lit up. “Do you still have the uniform?”

I mentally combed my entire cabin back at Twist Mountain, digging through my room to find my closet, then scanning the contents. My mind’s eye finally settled on a hooded robe with an Omega symbol patched on in spots. “Yes, I think I do, lying around somewhere.”

This startled him. “Wait, you don’t have it in a special place? Why would you just let it go missing?”

I tried not to bristle, remembering that I cared about Lance and I could trust him as a confidant, but I was still easing into talking about the War. As if the nightmares weren’t enough of a reminder. “Lance, I.. don’t really like having the remnants glaring at me when I get out of bed in the morning. I lost friends in that war, and seeing paraphernalia forces me to remember. I might be ready to embrace my participation in those battles someday, but right now, it’s sometimes a little hard to even accept myself as an alumnus.”

It took him a minute to ponder this, but at last he nodded. “I think I understand. I’m used to victories, so I guess I see the forest and don’t pay enough attention to the trees.”

I allowed myself to smile a little, always grateful for a metaphor. “Yea, well, if you’re IN the forest, a single burning tree makes a difference. At least if you’re close to that tree. And if you planted it and raised it yourself from a sapling, it can mean all the world to you.”

“Now that makes sense to me. Fear of losing people you care about.” I -think- he held my gaze just a little longer than he needed to, but it was probably all just in my imagination.