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An Enemy Spy
8th July 2012, 9:36 PM
This is going to be a long running serial of sorts about a young man and his adventures across a dangerous world filled with deadly creatures and ancient secrets, set in an unspecified time after a great cataclysm wiped out all civilization. Humanity has since recovered, and that old world has been forgotten entirely. This is the new world.
We will follow the exploits of Dust, a young trainer thrust into the greater world by fate, and occasionally intersperse that with segments detailing the old world. How did it end? What is Mewtwo's goal?
You'll have to read to find out.


Chapter I: Dust (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14806882#post14806882)
Chapter II: Eggs (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14809077#post14809077)
Chapter III: Ashton (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14810937#post14810937)
Chapter IV: Hatchling (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14811802#post14811802)
Chapter V: A Hasty Decision (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14829702#post14829702)
Chapter VI: Early Attempts (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14844589#post14844589)
Chapter VII: Fly in a Web (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14858718#post14858718)
Chapter VIII: Rumination (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=14880188#post14880188)
Chapter IX: Homecoming (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15107593#post15107593)
Chapter X: Higher Blood (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15109710#post15109710)
Chapter XI: Maddie's Big Day (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15115166#post15115166)
Chapter XII: Noblesse Oblige (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15115166#post15115166)
Chapter XIII: Picking Up (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15140539#post15140539)
Chapter XIV: Espa (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15140546#post15140546)
Chapter XV: Storm Rider and Sun Bringer (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15615106#post15615106)
Chapter XVI: Samaritan (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15619667#post15619667)
Chapter XVII: The Man Who Came to Dinner (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15728491#post15728491)
Chapter XVIII: The Ground Gym (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15774210#post15774210)
Chapter XIX: Dust Gets a Letter (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15781485#post15781485)
Chapter XX: New Beginning (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15804471#post15804471)
Chapter XXI: Red (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15804474#post15804474)
Chapter XXII: Just Like Old Times (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15960437#post15960437)
Chapter XXIII: Safe Landing (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15969308#post15969308)
Chapter XXIV: Maddie's Lost Days (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=15988612#post15988612)
Chapter XXV: Dead of Night (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=16002396#post16002396)
Chapter XXVI: The Lake (http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?577680-New-World&p=16013583#post16013583)


PatriotWolf ; Blaziken10285 ; Cosmic Fury
I'm posting the prologue right now. I'm going to post one or two chapters a day until I catch up to where I am now, to give you time to give your thoughts and opinions on what you think so far.


Prologue
The strange artificial lights flickered on as the world's greatest trainer slowly stepped his way down the metal corridor.

Of course he was the greatest Pokémon trainer to have ever lived. He was the one who had discovered this place, who had found the ancient map leading to mysterious, almost otherworldly underground structure. He was the one who would capture the ancient monster within its walls.

No one would ever doubt his power again.

In his shaking hand, he held a small, orange sized sphere of some unknown metal alloy with red and white halves. The pokeball contained a Pokémon, held in stasis. He had two identical pokeballs on his belt, each with their own creatures, and another one in his bag. That one was empty.

The legendary beast he hunted for would be that ball's inhabitant.

The lights lining the ceiling began gain brightness, becoming almost blinding. One at a time, they exploded, showering the floor with sparks which all fizzled out, plunging the hallway into darkness.

The trainer's reflexes were automatic. Before he even had time to think about it, the Pokeball was already thrown on the floor, producing a brilliant flash of white light that materialized into Scyther.

The man sized insectoid flexed its powerful arms ending in the vicious scythes that were its namesake. It screeched threateningly, eager for battle.

The trainer's head filled with thoughts of absolute dread. Whatever was at the end of this corridor terrified him beyond all belief. He should not have come to this place. He must get out of here. He must…

No.

No, the horror he felt was not his own, he realized. Those thoughts were coming from outside. Something was making him think that.

The fear disappeared, replaced by a burning hot rage. This too, was not of his own making, whatever was watching him was seething with anger so deep, it almost hurt. He was not supposed to be here. He must be gotten rid of. He must be disposed of…

Something moved in the darkness.

In a flash, Scyther's blades struck out.

A moment passed, the only sound the faint buzz of Scyther's wings. Finally, a small object rolled to the trainer's feet. It was the bird head of a Xatu, blood pouring from the slashed off neck and beak hanging limply open.

The trainer smiled faintly. Was this the best defense that could be offered by this ancient place? Scyther hadn't even broken a sweat. If bugs could sweat that is.

Surely there was no Pokémon trainer greater than he!

He followed down the pitch black hallway, Scyther leading the way. His eyes had adjusted to the dark, but he could still barely see a thing. If only he had a fire Pokémon to light the way, this would be no problem at all!

The hallway ended in a large metal door, far too strong for Scyther or any of his other pokemon to break through. His eyes spotted a small square on the right of the door, divided into into other squares, each with a number on it. He had no idea what the purpose of such a thing, but for some reason, he knew that it was important.

He examined the small pad, eying it quizzically. Without thinking about why, he reached out and touched the number three. The pad made a quiet beep.

The trainer knew what to do. Fingers guided by a source he didn't know or even realize was there, he pressed the numbers eight, two, nine, four, eight, seven, four, five, nine in quick succession, each stroke eliciting a hopeful little beep.

The door opened with an earsplitting screech that showed its age.

The room inside was filled with large glass tubes, reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Many of the tubes were smashed; shards of broken glass carpeted the floor, crunching under the trainer's feet. The remaining tubes were filled with an almost opaque green fluid.

Two dim lights in the ceiling came on, their feeble beams focused on the tube in the center of the chamber. Through the green murk, the trainer could just make out the shape of a figure inside.

His heart soared. So this was the legendary pokemon hidden in the underground labyrinth. The stories had been true.

He pointed at the glass tube. "Scyther, smash it open."

Scyther did not respond.

"Scyther, smash it open!"

For the first time, he noticed that his pokemon had been keeping its distance. Its wing buzzed excitedly, and the giant bug looked like it was using all of its concentration and self-control to simply stand still.

Scyther was terrified. It looked desperate to turn and run.

This was foolish, the trainer thought. Whatever was in that tube would certainly be unconscious. It would be caught without even a battle.

But still, Scyther showed no signs that it would follow his command. The trainer found this extremely annoying. When he had captured the prisoner of this place, he would no longer need inferior pokemon like that overgrown bug. Scyther was about to become obsolete.

The trainer found a heavy chair lying upturned among the room's wreckage and flung it against the tube. It failed to break through. Angry at the setback, he struck the glass again, and again, and again, until a small crack appeared.

As if by magic, the tiny crack grew longer, spreading out into more breaks along the tube, forming a vast system of fissures in the glass.

The tube exploded, showering the trainer with sharp, jagged pieces of glass and the foul smelling green liquid.

When he looked up, he saw the legendary pokemon standing utterly motionless in the center of where it's transparent prison had been, like the statue of an ancient and terrible god.

It was almost humanlike, but far too tall, and with a long tail behind it's legs. It's pale white skin stretched over it's emaciated, almost skeletal form. It's head had no hair, no ears, and no nose, only a tiny, seemingly lipless mouth and two closed eyes.

Scyther was absolutely hysterical , it spun frantically around, seeming to want to flee in every direction at once, loyalty to its master the only thing stopping it from running away.

Very slowly, the creature began to raise its head. It was not asleep. Panic rose in the trainer's gut.

"Scyther! Attack!"

The creature opened its cobalt eyes.

Scyther exploded, spraying its former master with its stinking bug guts.

The creature regarded him with a look of cold disdain.

Human. Why have you come to this place? The pokemon's lips did not move in the slightest, but the trainer could hear its voice in his head clear as day. The pokemon did not sound angry, only agitated.

He finally found his voice. "My name is-"

Your identity is irrelevant. Why are you here?
"I… I came to see if the legends about you were true."

You came to capture me in your little ball. A wasted effort. It would take far more than one of your miserable little pokeballs to catch me.
It stepped down from the broken tube.

Still, your audacity in thinking a being like you could ever control a being like me is… amusing. There was no humor its "voice" It has been a long time since I have laid eyes on a human. I had almost forgotten how highly your kind places itself.
Memories came up unbidden in the trainer's mind: his ninth birthday, the first pokemon he had ever caught, the first woman he had ever been with. The creature was pulling out images of everything he had ever done, ever experienced. He felt strangely violated.

Interesting. I have been here for far too long. Where are all the cities? All the technology you humans were so proud of?

The trainer began to see memories of lives he had never known. Giant buildings rose up into the sky, larger than anything he had ever seen, seeming almost to touch the clouds. People dressed in fashions completely foreign to him walked the streets. Strange metal carriages rolled along with no pokemon to pull them. It was like an alien world.

"What is this I'm seeing?" The trainer asked.

The skeletal pokemon ignored him.

The world of my former master is no more. Intriguing. They must have been destroyed long ago for this human to have no knowledge of that world. I seem to have been here even longer than I had anticipated. It turned its eyes once more on the helpless trainer. You have heard of me, which means the memory of me has remained long after the destruction of the old world.

Scyther's old pokeball floated slowly into the air. The ancient pokemon reached out and touched it.

I will deign to reside in this flimsy device until the appropriate time. I have much work to do, and you will be my servant. Serve me well and you will be rewarded. Fail me, and death will be a welcome respite from the punishment you will receive. You and your pokemon will be the instruments of my will until I no longer need to be hidden.

The creature vanished into the red and white ball. It's central button lighting up for a few brief seconds before dimming.

The trainer picked up the ball. He didn't know how he did it, but he had caught the legendary pokemon. He tried to remember the last few minutes, but could recall nothing past the point of his Scyther exploding.

No matter. With his new acquisition, he no longer needed Scyther anyway.

He turned around and tried to find his way out of the underground labyrinth. It was strange. In all the tales he had ever heard of the ancient creature no actual name had ever been mentioned, but as he made his way above ground, a single name was burned into the surface of his mind; a name that he for some reason knew for a fact was the name of the beast.

Mewtwo.

An Enemy Spy
9th July 2012, 6:16 PM
Chapter I: Dust

Dust groaned as he rolled out of bed. Three days. Three days after being rammed by that Tauros and his leg still hurt. The village doctor had said he'd be alright, but that didn't make him feel any better.

He brushed away the loose straw from the bed that still clung to him, and pulled on his trousers, grimacing as the sharp pain raced up his shin.

Dust's family was not rich, but their house as least had two rooms. As a child, he had slept in the same bed as his parents, and still did on the occasional cold winter night, huddling with them and his two year old sister Mona for warmth. Now though, he was grateful to have a space of his own. That was a luxury not everyone his age had.

He would be turning eighteen in a few months, and would soon be old enough to have a family of his own, still living in the same home he had grown up in. Being an adult didn't mean he didn't still have obligation to family, and one day he would be grateful to have grown up children of his own to tend the farm when he inherited it from his father.

Dust opened the door and stepped into what for lack of a better word, would be called the living room. His mother was trying, without much success, to coax Mona into eating her breakfast.

His father glanced up at him as he entered.

"I thought you were going to sleep all day" he said, not angrily.

"I couldn't sleep. There was a Noctowl outside who wouldn't stop hooting. I wanted to throw a rock at it."

"Nocdow!" Mona chimed in.

His father laughed. "How's the leg holding up?" he asked.

Dust put a little pressure on it, and was rewarded with a stab of pain. "Feels great." He lied, "I feel good enough to do all my work."

"Not today. As soon as you're done eating, take a bath."

Dust was perplexed. Neither of his parents looked washed, and Mona was always filthy no matter if she bathed or not.

"A bath?" he said, "Is it Sunday already?"

"It's the day of the Egg Festival." His mother said, "Have you forgotten?"

Indeed Dust had forgotten. The Egg Festival was perhaps the most important moment in a boy's life, the final rite of passage before he truly becomes a man. Every year, a caravan from beyond the mountains would come into the collection of villages tucked into the secluded valley, bringing all sorts of goods from the outside world for trade. The local baron would organize a festival to welcome the annual guests, and people from all the villages gathered to visit and see all the exotic Pokémon the caravan brought and basically have a good time.

Dust always enjoyed the Festival, but this year was special. Every year, the caravan would bring a supply of eggs with them, and each seventeen year old boy would be given one. What pokemon would eventually hatch from the egg was a mystery. Some boys received mundane, everyday creatures, while others got something truly exotic.

Without a Pokemon of his own, a man was not a man. He couldn't own his own home, or take part in the village meetings, or marry. Until you had your own pokemon, you were simply a child.

"Are you going?" He asked.

"I wish I could, Dust." His father answered. "But just because there is a festival doesn't mean the Tauros don't need feeding. It'll be just you and Mona this year."

Mona, hearing her name being mentioned, tried to join the conversation but was stopped when her mother seized the opportunity and shoved the spoon into her open mouth.

So after cleaning himself in the cold water of the river, he picked his sister up in his arms and began the two mile journey to Mahogany, the village where the festival was being held.

Things were in full swing by the time Dust arrived. The air was full of music, the stands were surrounded by groups of people clamoring to spend their hard earned money on items that were in all probability not worth even a fraction of their selling price, and a very exited looking man was showing off a large horned monster he informed the awed crowd of onlookers was something called a Nidoking.

Dust bought his little sister a sweet roll and shunted her off to one of the tents for small children. His interest lay in the Pokemon battles, and he didn't want Mona babbling to his mother about large creatures beating eachother to a pulp. Somehow, he didn't think his parents would see that as quality entertainment for a two year old girl.

As expected, the battles were the most crowded attraction. There were numerous circular arenas constructed out of wood and filled with spectators watching the fights. The small arenas were surrounded by groups of men passing around coins, betting on the fights. Dust climbed up the staircase into one with a sign that read, "Beartic versus Sealeo".

Dust pushed his way through the cheering crowd all the way to the front. Inside the ring, an enormous white bear with giant claws stood on its hind legs roaring at the also white four legged creature with a black head adorned with a vicious looking blade that circled around it. Their trainers stood at opposite ends of the arena, their pokeballs out and ready to recall their creatures in case the battle got out of hand.

"Fancy meeting you here." said a familiar voice behind Dust.

The voice belonged to Maddie, the seventeen year old barmaid from his village. Dust had known her since childhood and once he had caught his first Pokémon, had every intention of asking her to marry him.

Unlike Dust, Maddie had come looking her very best, wearing a silken yellow dress she saved for special occasions, her hair was done up, and she even had a dainty little fan with flower print on it. The outfit would be considered plain by the standards of the ladies' fashions of the cities, but out here, Dust thought she looked like a duchess. She looked debonair and delicate, but Dust had seen her throwing rowdy drunks out of her father's tavern and quaffing ale like a barbarian. The mountainous countryside was no place for a delicate lady, and Dust would have no use with a wife who could do nothing more than look pretty, but he loved the fact that Maddie was able to anyway.

Absol pounced on Beartic, trying to slash with its blade, but the giant bear grabbed it in midair and threw it into the wall, eliciting both cheering and loud groans, depending on who had bet on which beast.

"That's a very big Pokémon," Dust said "I don't the Absol has a chance."

"I wouldn't be so sure." Maddie said.

"Really?"

"No. He's small, but he's got fight in him."

Absol attempted to pounce again, but the great bear swatted it again, raking Absol with its claws. Absol hit the ground and stayed there.

Maddie frowned. "Then again, what do I know?"

Absol disappeared in a crimson flash as his trainer recalled it. There was a general mix of laughter and angry shouting as all over the fighting pit, money changed hands.

"That was fast." Dust said.

Beartic's trainer jumped into the ring and the Pokemon lifted him up and placed him on its mighty shoulders. He raised his arms in triumph, taking in the cheering and booing with a self-satisfied smirk.

One single clap seemed to rise above the din, and in a matter of seconds the noise died down into an empty, awkward silence. A man rose from the crowd, still clapping very slowly. Dust had only seen him a few times in his life, but everybody knew who he was.

If the Baron had a name, Dust didn't think anyone knew what it was. He very rarely came down to the villages from his stately manor house, preferring to send retainers on any official business. His son Ashton was a constant presence in the villages however, constantly giving people grief and raiding the tavern with his gang of cronies.

The Baron looked like his son: tall, blonde and with an athletic build. It was nearly impossible to make out his age. He seemed youthful in appearance, but his cold grey eyes and the way he walked suggested a man who had experienced much of life, not all of it pleasant.

The Baron was wearing plain clothes, which explained how he had gotten into the crowd unnoticed. He leapt into the sandy pit.

"What a spectacular fight!" he said. There was a nervous muttering of agreement.

The Baron stroked the Beartic's white fur, eliciting a sharp growl. The bear's trainer was quick to silence it.

"Such a fine beast. You must be very proud to own a Pokémon like this." The trainer began to answer, but was cut off by a raised finger. "I would love to see this Beartic in action against a real opponent, rather than the ones you people have pitted against it. I would relish the opportunity for one of my own Pokémon to face off against it."

The trainer climbed down from Beartic's shoulders. "You want to challenge me?" he asked.

"Unless you afraid, that is."

The trainer bristled at that. "Beartic can take anything you throw at him! We aren't afraid of anything!"

"Very well," chuckled the Baron, "Then let us get this battle underway."

The two men took their places along the ring. The Baron reached into his pocket and produced a pokeball, tossing it nonchalantly on the ground. There was a brilliant white flash, and a creature materialized in the air.

Rhyhorn were very rarely higher than four feet, but this one must have been seven feet tall at the very least and even longer from its stony armored haunches to its wicked horn. The Baron's Rhyhorn was a walking fortress.

Beartic roared at the new opponent, his mouth glowing white, ready to let loose a freezing blast of air. Rhyhorn simply charged, its massive rocky head pummeling Beartic into the ground. Its horn was coated red in the bear's tried to rise to its feet, but Rhyhorn wouldn't let up, slamming its bulk into Beartic over and over.

Beartic lay unmoving on the ground, the heaving of its massive body gasping for air the sign it was even still alive. Rhyhorn backed up,shaking its head angrily as it prepared for a final charge.

Maddie knelt down to look at the wounded Beartic. It had fallen right in front of where she and Dust stood.

"He's going to kill it!" she said, panic rising in her voice.

Rhyhorn charged, kicking up a cloud of dust in its wake. Just at the last second, Beartic rolled out of the way with surprising speed for its size.

"Maddie, look out!" Dust screamed as the giant stone rhino ran into the stands. He grabbed her and threw himself to the ground as Rhyhorn crashed through the wooden frame, completely destroying the space where they had just been standing. He wrapped his arms protectively around her smaller body.

Beartic was upright, roaring angrily, blood gushing from its many wounds. A wave of freezing breath washed over Rhyhorn, covering its armor in ice.

Dust helped Maddie to her feet. Her dress was rumbled and her hair had come undone, but apart from that she looked fine. Nobody else had been hurt by Rhyhorn's charge.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

Maddie looked morose. "I lost my fan. I dropped it when you grabbed me."

Dust looked in the fighting pit. Sure enough, the fan was lying in the sand below, remarkably unharmed.

"That fan belonged to my mother." She said, eyes starting to well up. "It's one of the only things I have left of her."

Dust began to clamber over the railing. Maddie immediately broke out of her state, and grabbed his arm.

"What are you doing?" she shouted, "You can't go in there!"

"And let you lose a family heirloom?" Dust said, "I can't do that."

"You'll be killed, Dust! Don't…"

Too late. Dust leapt into the pit.

Dust landed hard on his feet, sending a stab of agony up his hurt leg. He fell to the ground, doubled up in pain.

Beartic's giant body went flying past him as Dust rose to his feet, landing on the ground with a heavy thud. Dust turned around, coming face to face with Rhyhorn. The rhino snarled. A cold chill ran up Dust's spine. He very slowly reached down and picked up the paper fan, trying not to make any sudden movements.

Rhyhorn charged. Dust threw himself to the side, barely avoiding the giant horn. A terrified gasp came from the audience (and a few jeers that Dust resented a bit). Scrambling to his feet, he ran for the boundary, but his bum leg collapsed under him and he fell to the ground.

Rhyhorn charged again, its eyes filled with angry bloodlust. Dust could do nothing but hope it would be painless. He closed his eyed and brought his arms over his head.

When he wasn't pummeled into a bloody pulp, Dust dared to look up. Rhyhorn was less than a foot away, roaring with fury, its foul breath overwhelming Dust's nostrils.

Beartic was grabbing Rhyhorn around its haunches, straining with effort to keep it from killing Dust. With an agonized roar, it threw the rhino to the ground.

Dust scrambled into the stands, grateful to the giant bear.

Maddie had rushed over to his part of the small arena. He stood up and smiled at her, proffering the fan to her. She slapped him in the face. Maddie didn't look like much, but she could pack a wallop. Dust almost fell over.

"Dammit Dust!" She yelled at him. "Why did you have to do that?"

"I thought you wanted your fan." He answered.

"You're more important to me than a fan, Dust. What if you had died in there? What would I do then?"

Dust smirked. "I didn't."

This didn't help things in the slightest. "I really hate you sometimes." She said. Then, without warning, Maddie hugged him tightly. "But I'm glad you're alright. And you did get my mother's fan, so I guess I can't be too mad at you. Just never make me worry about you like that again."

"I promise." Dust said.

"You'd better be Dust. Because if you ever die on me, I'll make you regret it."

An Enemy Spy
10th July 2012, 4:11 AM
Chapter II: Eggs

The effort of tossing the monster sized Rhyhorn had taken its toll on Beartic, and the big white ursine nearly fainted from exhaustion. It staggered to regain its footing as Rhyhorn got back up, possibly even madder than before, if that was possible.

Beartic roared in defiance, but could no longer fight. It began to lose its balance and fall.

But not before Rhyhorn lit into it, slamming its enormous bulk straight into Beartic's gut and blasting the bear to the ground. Beartic lay unmoving in the sand. The match was over.

But no one had told Rhyhorn this. The stony rhino reared up on its hind legs and brought the full force of its half-ton body down on the unconscious opponent. A collective gasp rose up from the audience. Trying to kill a boy in the ring was one thing: after all, the idiot had jumped in there willingly, but attacking a defeated enemy's Pokémon in a match was unheard of. There was no actual rule against such an action, but only because the very idea was ungentlemanly beyond all belief.

Yet the Baron did nothing to stop his beast's rampage. He simply looked on with an emotionless, almost fascinated expression as Rhyhorn pummeled the Beartic again and again and again and again.

The rhino's horn was blood red when the Baron finally recalled it into the pokeball in a crimson flash. Then, not even giving the customary bow to his opponent, walked out of the arena without a word.

Beartic's trainer leapt into the sandpit and rushed to his creature's side, softly stroking the Beartic's heaving form and whispering softly to it. His hands and clothes were soon covered in the great bear's blood. His shaking hand reached for his pokeball and he recalled Beartic into the safety of stasis. He stayed on his knees, staring blankly at his bloody hands.

The hastily erected arena silently emptied out, leaving the trainer alone.

Hours later, Dust and Maddie walked together through the noisy throng of the festival. The fight between Rhyhorn and Beartic was not the last fight they saw together: Skuntank vs. Ivyasaur, Staraptor vs. Mothim, Linoone vs. Manectric and Politoed vs. Lombre had each had their share of excitement, though nowhere near the drama of that first battle. Mightyena vs. Leafeon had also involved a boy jumping into the fight to prove his bravery, a fact Dust claimed proved he was not so stupid after all, and which Maddie corrected him by saying that it only proved that stupidity was inherent to his gender and not just him as an individual, although in slightly sharper words than that. Dust had long ago learned that the only way to win an argument with Maddie was to avoid it altogether.

He had by this time retrieved his sister from the children's tent, and carried her swinub-back over his shoulders. Mona babbled inanely at everything around her as Dust said to Maddie, "It's funny. I've never thought of it until now."

"What?" She replied.

"This caravan. They come around every year, and they have Pokémon that couldn't be from anywhere around here."

"How is that funny?" Maddie asked.

"It's just, here we are, in this valley, and they come here every year from far off and then leave to go who knows where, and we're all still here."

"I don't understand, Dust."

Dust pointed out at the big green mountains off in the distance, covered in a shroud of mist. "Every day of my life I've seen those mountains, and I never even thought about them. They were just always there, you know?"

Maddie looked confused now. "Well of course you've seen them every day, Dust. We live between them all."

"That's just it, though!" He pointed at Mount Selene, the largest of them. "I've lived in the shadow of that mountain my whole life, and not once have I ever seen the other side of it. And these traders, they see it every year. They go out beyond the mountains and catch all these exotic creatures and bring them here, and we al gawk and marvel and talk about how wonderful it must be in far off places, but none of us ever leave! Never!"

"This is our home, Dust." Maddie said. "Why would we ever leave it?"

Dust was not to be stopped though. "Don't you ever want to see what's on the other side of those mountains?"

"Dust, I don't understand."

"Don't you ever want to see what the world looks like, Maddie? Have you ever thought about going all the way to the ocean and putting your feet in the water and watching the Wingulls fly around?"

"Wingoo!"

Dust ignored Mona and went on. "We could do it, you know. There's no reason anyone couldn't go out and see the world. These caravan people do it all the time."

"Dust!" Maddie said, "Are you suggesting that we just go out into the wild and try and live at the ocean?"

"Well, I'd have to wait until I've caught my first pokemon, but then we could go out and take the pass through the mountains-"

"Dust."

"- and we'll live off the land, just like the people who-"

"Dust."

"- found this valley hundreds of years ago, and then we can just go in whatever direction we-"

"Dust!" Maddie practically screamed at him this time. "Are you listening to yourself? I can't just wander off and leave the valley with you!"

"Why not?" Dust said.

"Because of my dad, Dust." Maddie said, "Am I just supposed to leave him alone with the tavern without my mother there to help him?"

"Your sisters are old enough to help him." Dust suggested

"They both already are, Dust." Maddie said, not to be deterred. "And if I'm gone, only Bianca will be able to do the work I'm already doing, and then we'll need someone to do her job, and Gwen's not old enough and my dad can't afford to hire anyone. He needs me."

Dust opened his mouth and was cut off again.

"And what about your family? Are you just going to leave your dad to take care of the Tauroses all by himself?"

Dust sighed. She was right of course, as much as he hated to admit it. It just didn't seem fair though, being born into this huge world and only ever getting to see a little piece of it.

"All right, you win." He said.

Maddie took his hand. "If it's any consolation, I want to see the other side of that mountain as much as you."

Mona started getting testy. "Sweewo" she yelled out.

"What is she saying?" Maddie laughed.

"She's saying sweet roll." Dust said. "She's nothing but a stomach with arms and legs."

Maddie reached up and took the little girl. "I think I'll just go and get me and her both one. You need to be going to the egg ceremony. I think it's starting soon."

Indeed it was. When Dust made his way to the large ring of tents that made up the center of the festival, there was already a large crowd of people there, milling into the makeshift amphitheater in the middle. All the boys Dust's age were being ushered into one of the tents by a man Dust recognized as the owner of the Nidoking.

Dust joined the throng of seventeen and eighteen year old boys going into the big purple tent. He took his place near the back and sat cross legged on the dirt floor.

The Nidoking owner walked in front of the group of boys and addressed them.

"Good evening, gentlemen. I presume you all know why we are gathered here today?"

There was a general murmur of agreement. The Nidoking man continued.

"As you all know, the Egg Festival is the day when a boy takes his first step into manhood. You will all receive your first Pokémon today."

The Nidoking man reached into the folds of his heavy robe and produced a red and white pokeball. "Do you all know what this is?"

"It's a pokeball, you daft old codger!" came a voice from the crowd. Dust recognized instantly as Ashton, the Baron's son. "We all know what the bloody thing is! My old man has a whole closet full of em."

"Really?" said the old man. "And tell me, what does it do?"

"It stuffs Pokémon inside it." Ashton said smugly.

"And how does it do that?"

There was an audible silence. Come to think of it, Dust had no idea how a pokeball worked. They just did.

"The truth is that nobody knows how a pokeball actually functions." Nidoman (as Dust was now thinking of him as) said. "I have traveled to many parts of the world, and everywhere I go, the people tell me that the pokeballs come from somewhere else. They are truly remarkable objects."

He threw his ball at the ground, and a little blue Squirtle appeared in a white flash. He then tossed another ball into the audience and beckoned to the boy who caught it. "Come up here."

Smiling like an idiot, the boy clambered up to the front, clearly very pleased with the attention he was getting.

"Catch the Squirtle." Nidoman said. "If you do, It will be yours along with whatever egg you pick."

The boy eagerly threw the pokeball at the Squirtle and then watched dejectedly as the ball simply bounced off the shell.

"First lesson about Pokémon:" Nidoman said, "A Pokémon can only belong to one pokeball. If you catch a Pokémon, it cannot be recaptured as long as the pokeball is still intact. When a Pokémon is first captured, whoever holds the ball first will be forever bonded with it. This bond is unbreakable. Your Pokemon will be loyal until either you or it dies."

Nidoman recalled Squirtle and put the pokeball away. "Lesson number two: When you're eggs hatch and you go off to catch your first wild creature, remember this. A wild Pokémon will fight to escape a pokeball. Make sure that you have beaten it up or tired it out before you throw the pokeball. You will most likely not get another chance to catch it."

Nidoman went on explaining about pokeballs and Pokemon and everything anyone would ever need to know about them. It was so informal, Dust reflected. He had expected some sort of ceremony, or something like that, but it was more like the school had gone to when he was younger, before he started working on the farm full time. It was just a teacher talking to students.

Finally, Nidoman finished and ushered the boys through the tent exit opposite the side Dust had come in. It seemed that the entire population of the valley was out there, cheering on the soon-to-be-men. Dust could see Maddie holding Mona's hand and a little farther off were his parents. That made him smile. They had showed up after all.

Nidoman had told them what to do, but every boy had seen this ceremony enough times to know how it worked. A line of drummers had set up in front of the crowd, ready to play as each boy made his way to the large pile of eggs, all different sizes and colors. Dust saw a bright red shiny one near the back, and decided right there that whatever Pokemon was inside of it, it was the one that he wanted.

Ashton of course was the first to go. Nobody was stupid enough to take his spot at the front of the line. He walked by the drum players and straight to the eggs, selecting a pale yellow one about half the size of his head. When the Eggmaster handed him his two pokeballs, he immediately left without even the traditional bow.

Dust waited near the back as boy after boy went up, took their egg and pokeballs, bowed to the Eggmaster, and received the cheers of their family and friends. How many seventeen-year-olds could possibly live in this valley? It seemed to be taking forever! Before long, Dust's shiny red prospect was taken, and the black one he decided he wanted after that, and then the green one after that. Finally, the boy in front of him went and took the big blue one had set his eye on.

Dust felt rather cheated, but all those negative feelings melted away as he stepped forward. This was the Egg Ceremony, the most important day of his life so far! What was there to be upset at, aside from being stuck for life with whatever lousy Pokémon was left?

The walk to the considerably diminished egg pile hadn't looked that far before, but as Dust made his way toward it with drummers beating their instruments in perfectly rehearsed rhythm and Maddie going wild in the crowd, the distance seemed to increase substantially. It was possibly the farthest thirty feet had ever had to go.

Lots of people were cheering for him now. He looked at the small, rather sad pile of eggs in front of him. There were only six left by this time, and none of them all that appealing. Dust reached for a small grey one, and stopped. What if this egg contained a creature he didn't want? Dust was about to make a life commitment, and he didn't even know what the creature would look like! He reached again for a dull purple egg, when something caught his eye.

Kneeling down, Dust moved aside some of the straw the eggs were sitting on. Underneath the bedding was an egg that had been accidently buried when the other boys had been moving the eggs around. Brushing away the rest of straw, Dust picked up the new egg.

The egg was the size of a small watermelon, and weighed about as much as one. It was bright orange and had thin blue streaks running across it. The shell felt soft and almost leathery compared to the hard shells of the other eggs. When he put his hand on it, Dust could swear that he felt the baby Pokémon moving inside.

Whatever was inside this egg, Dust felt it had been waiting for him and him alone.

He picked the egg and stood up. When the Eggmaster saw what egg Dust had chosen, he smiled knowingly at it. He reached into his box and produced two pokeballs.

"When your Pokémon hatches," he said, "Immediately use the ball on it. It won't yet have the strength to escape. Do not immediately go to catch a wild one. Feed and raise your Pokémon for a month beforehand. Love it, and it will be the closest friend you will ever have. Mistreat it, and it will try to subvert you at every opportunity. Go now, and enjoy the rest of your evening."

Dust left the dais and the next boy came up. His mother rushed out from the crowd and hugged him, his father close behind.

"What do you it will be?" she asked.

"I have no idea." Dust admitted, "But I think it'll be something special."

He looked at the egg, as if expecting it to give an answer. It didn't give any hint.

Rotomknight
10th July 2012, 3:08 PM
I kept my eye on this. This is pretty nice. Is the mewtwo part hlafway through the story chronologically. I recomend giving a clue about mewtwo here and there.

An Enemy Spy
10th July 2012, 5:23 PM
I kept my eye on this. This is pretty nice. Is the mewtwo part hlafway through the story chronologically. I recomend giving a clue about mewtwo here and there.

Short bits about Mewtwo and other backstory crop up at times throughout this. Chapters 8 and 14 break away from the main plot a bit and have stuff like that.

An Enemy Spy
10th July 2012, 5:25 PM
Chapter III: Ashton

The egg proved to be very untalkative indeed.

Dust had gone home after spending the rest of the evening discussing what creature might be in it. Dust thought that the orange coloration meant it would be a fire Pokemon, like a Slugma (hopefully not) or a Charmander (slightly better). Maddie insisted that the egg's color had very little to do with whatever was inside. Mona thought it was an "Igaboo!" but Dust had long ago learned that Mona rarely said anything worth paying attention to.

And then life went back to normal. Dust worked on the farm, feeding the Tauroses, planting cabbage, fixing the fence after the Tauros broke it, corralling the Tauroses, cursing at the Tauroses after one of them almost impaled him, and generally just doing as he always did.

All except for that egg. Dust would watch it at night, laying on the floor of his room. It had been about two months since the egg ceremony and the damn thing hadn't so much as shaken lightly.

The more frustrating thing was that the other eggs were already hatching. On the rare nights that Dust was able to go into the village proper, he could see the other boys showing off their newly hatched Pokemon to anyone who cared to look. Some of them had already come back with the other one from the wild. Of course, they were no longer boys anymore after that. He had been unlucky enough to be there when Ashton had come down into the village with his brand new Pichu, having it shock people with weak little jolts of electricity. Dust's hair stood on end for almost an hour after that night.

And through it all, he could only look despondently at his unmoving egg and wonder if maybe he had been stupid to choose it. He certainly felt stupid having the only egg in the village that hadn't hatched yet.

A gnawing edge of worry was beginning to creep in on him. What if the Pokemon inside would never hatch? What if it had died inside the egg on the way to the valley. He had seen Tauros eggs that never hatched. What if this embryo was like one of them? What if it just laid there until it finally rotted? He would have to wait a whole other year before he could get a new one!

He stared at it.

It did nothing.

He continued to stare.

It continued to do nothing.

Dust was beginning to get angry. "Open up, you worthless sack of dried up yolk!" he shouted, and then realized he was talking to an inanimate object.

He reached out and grabbed it. He could vaguely feel whatever was inside stir slightly. Alright, so it wasn't dead, but that didn't mean it wasn't frustrating.

Dust flopped back on the bed. He hated that egg and he hated the unborn creature inside of it.

He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. In his dream, the egg hatched into a giant Gyarados and ate him. It wasn't encouraging.

When he opened his eyes, it was still dark. Dust had always been a light sleeper and he had heard something in the night that woke him up. He looked at the egg. It sat unmoving. It must have been something else, probably a Zigzagoon prowling around. He was about to go back to sleep when he heard it again. That wasn't the sound of a Zigzagoon at all.

Dust got out of bed and exited through the door to the outside, pausing to grab the club he used to fend off Poochyenas and other predators. The moon was down to a tiny sliver, but Dust's eyes were well enough adjusted to the dark that he didn't have too much trouble seeing. He was grateful it was late spring and the air wasn't cold.

The rustling was coming from the Tauros pasture. He climbed over the fence and dropped into the tall grass, staying low and trying to keep out of sight. He crept past the sleeping Tauroses until he could make out three decidedly non-bovine shapes. They definitely weren't Zigzagoons, unless the little raccoons had grown to almost six feet, stood upright and learned to talk. Somebody was sneaking around the cattle, but Dust couldn't think of anyone who would have any business here. They were whispering to each other with words too quiet for Dust to make out.

They were moving in on the inert hulk of Rampage, the very aptly named prize bull.

Dust crawled through the grass, taking care to make as little noise as possible. He was less than five feet away from the intruders. The smallest one, who appeared to be the leader, pulled a small round object out of his jacket. A pokeball. The bastard was going to steal his family's best Tauros.

Dust couldn't wait any longer. He lunged at the thief and tackled him to the ground. The guy was wearing a black mask over his face. Dust pulled it off and found himself staring into the heterochromatic green and purple eyes of Ashton. This night was steadily getting worse.

"'Ello, chummy." The Baron's son said. Four large hands grabbed Dust by the shoulders and pulled him off Ashton. They belonged to Burke and Durke, the two entirely interchangeable and mountainous thugs who accompanied Ashton everywhere. Dust suspected that those weren't their real names, but he wasn't sure. Durke (or maybe Burke, he forgot which one was which sometimes) slammed his fist into Dust's gut. Dust sank to his knees, the wind completely knocked out of him.

"Now, now, there's no need for that, Durke." Ashton said, picking himself up off the ground. "The poor boy is jus' tryin' to protect these 'ere Tauroses from rustlers an' whatnot. For all 'e knows, I could've been a dangerous criminal."

"What are you doing here?" Dust asked.

"Rites of passage, chum." Ashton answered. "Even us nobles got to observe tradition jus' like all you common muckdwellers. Noblesse oblige and whatnot. If we don't set a good example for all you filth mongers to follow, we got no business rulin' ya. That's what the old man says."

"And why are you obliging your noblesse in my pasture?" Dust had a feeling he had no idea what those words actually meant.

"Catchin' my very firs' Pokémon, old bean." Ashton tossed a pokeball on the ground and the little Pichu came chittering out. "I was all set to go out into the world, make a real man o' me self, when I suddenly thought, 'that Tauros out on that farm sure is a mighty fine beast'. Thought I'd pop in and take 'im off your hands, mate, seein' as you got a whole field o' the things. I'm sure you won't mind."

"You can't just take our bull, Ashton!" Dust said angrily.

Ashton smirked at him. "Actually, I can. This 'ere valley belongs to my family along with everythin' in it. In a way, this bull is already mine, an' your jus' borrowin' it." He cracked his knuckles loudly. "Now if you don't mind, I've got a noblesse to oblige."

Dust was thrown hard to the ground. While Ashton picked up the pokeball that had been knocked out of his hand.

"Pichu, use thunder wave on this galoot."

Pichu's cheeks began to crackle with electricity. A jolt of lighting surged out of its jagged tail and hit Rampage in the face.

In the space of a second, the massive Tauros changed from an unmoving mound to half a ton of red hot fury, kicking up dust and bellowing angrily. Its big dumb eyes focused on the first thing it saw and it charged.

That thing happened to be Dust. Burke and Durke dove out of the way as Dust ran for it, running as fast as he could through the tall grass. He jumped over the fence one step ahead of Rampage, who slammed into it, and nearly knocked the entire section of sturdy fence over. Another jolt zapped the bull in the flank and it turned to face the new annoyance.

Ashton stood in front of the angry Tauros, Pichu crackling with static on his shoulder and and a manic grin splitting his face ear to ear. He reached for another pokeball and released a seven foot tall humanoid Pokémon, nearly as wide as it was tall, with enormous three fingered hands and narrow, intelligent eyes. Under its thick layer of fat, Dust could tell that it had powerful muscles.

Ashton pointed at Rampage. "Hariyama, show this thing who's boss."

Rampage bellowed and charged at the enormous newcomer. Hariyama waited for it to come close and grabbed it by the horns. It lifted Rampage almost completely off his feet and threw him to the ground.

By this time, the other Tauroses had begun to wake up and were slowly surrounding the scene. None of them were as large as Rampage, but that comparison was like the difference between a volcano and a chain of slightly smaller volcano. They were all big, and if set off, could easily ruin the day of anybody in the vicinity. They surrounded the four humans, mooing loudly. For now they were just curious, but a Tauros was very easy to anger.

Rampage tried to get to his feet, but the Hariyama was stronger even than him, and held his struggling bulk down. Rampage was getting tired, and his throes were becoming weaker. That was the least of Hariyama's worries though. Some of the other Tauroses were starting to snort and shake their heads violently. There were very few places in the world worse than in the middle of a herd of enraged Tauroses, even for a seven-foot super-strong Fighting Pokémon.

A loud bark sounded out and many of the Tauroses began to back off. They knew from experience that that bark was bad news for misbehaving cattle. A big blue and yellow dog came bounding through the herd, its tall mane bursting with electric power. Dust immediately recognized it as his father's Manectric.

Manectric growled at the assembled Tauroses and they almost sheepishly went away. Dust's father came huffing and puffing up, a rifle in his hands.

"What the hell is going on out here!"

"They're stealing our Tauros!" Dust said pointing at the trio of intruders.

Dust's father took a moment to appraise the situation. He sighed deeply. "I'm sorry for any trouble my son caused you." He said to Ashton.

"What?" Dust said indignantly. "You're just going to let him walk off with our best bull?"

His father pulled him aside. "Dust, I want to go back to the house. I'll handle this."

"Dad, you can't be serious!"

"He's the Baron's son, Dust. If I try to stop him, we'll just get in trouble with his father. I don't like it any more than you do, but that's just the way it is."

"But-"

"There's nothing either of us can do, son."

"You should listen to your old man." Ashton chimed in. "If either of you lay a finger on me, my dad'll 'ave you both thrown in prison!"

"Go back to the house, Dust." His father said again.

"It's not right." Dust said.

"I know it's not, but it's the way it is."

Dust trudged back to the house. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that he had to work and toil and sacrifice for everything he had and those nobles, those lousy, thieving rat-faced bastard nobles could just come and take whatever they wanted without so much as a thank you.

He entered his room and slumped down on the straw, cursing the unfairness of it all. He had a prize bull that he had helped raise from a calf and returned to a pile of straw in a two room shack, while that son of a ***** Ashton had stolen that bull and would be returning to a feather mattress in a stately mansion. If Dust had owned anything he didn't mind destroying, he would have kicked it. Since he barely owned a thing a thing in the world though, he contented himself with glaring at that damn egg as if it were the source of all his problems.

If looks could do physical harm, Dust's glare would have cracked the egg in half, which was why it came as such a shock when the egg actually did crack. Dust stared in surprise as a tear opened along the egg's top and grew along its leathery surface.

Dust could hardly believe his eyes. After all this time, the egg was finally hatching!

Dust peered over the large orange egg as its occupant ripped its way out. Dust arched his eyebrow when he saw what came crawling out.

"You are not what I was expecting." He said.

Rotomknight
10th July 2012, 5:48 PM
PLease post another chapter today. Maybe it's a shiny! I hope the baron doesn't take it from him.

An Enemy Spy
10th July 2012, 9:12 PM
Chapter IV: Hatchling

A little blue snout poked its way out of the eggshell, followed by a little blue head with big red slit-pupil eyes. The mouth opened wide, revealing a mouth already full of sharp teeth.

It tried to crawl out the top of the egg, and then toppled over, breaking the rest of the shell. The infant Pokémon was a little crocodilian creature with bright blue scales and tiny, flimsy looking orange spines growing out of its back. It looked imploringly up at Dust with wide, hopeful looking eyes.

Dust looked back.

It continued looking at him. Its head cocked to the side.

Dust broke the silence. "What?"

The baby let out a sort of mix between a coo and a hiss. It was cute, albeit in a reptilian sort of way.

Remembering what the Eggmaster had told him, Dust fumbled for the two pokeballs on the floor and picked one up. He aimed it at the little Pokémon and prepared to throw.

His arm hung in the air for a while. The hatchling opened its jaws and looked at the ball, as if hoping it would be edible.

Dust put his arm down. Everyone he had ever talked to told that the way to bond with your hatchling was to throw a ball at it. It just didn't seem right to throw something at an infant, scales or no.

He brought the ball down in front of the Pokémon's face. "Do you want me to put you inside this?"

The baby stared at the ball for a long moment, and then closed its jaws around it. That got a laugh out of Dust. "You really are a funny little brat, you know that?" he said.

He pulled the ball of his Pokémon's mouth. It continued to stare at him. Dust wasn't sure if reptiles could smile, but this one sure looked like it was trying to.

He softly pressed the pokeball to the Pokémon's forehead until he heard its button click. The ball opened and the Pokémon vanished. The little circle around the button flashed red three times and then turned bright blue.

Then something entirely unexpected happened. Dust's fingers involuntarily clamped down hard on the ball. The metal seemed to heat up and lose its hardness. Dust grabbed at his fingers with his other hand and futilely tried to pry them loose. The pokeball was getting hotter and hotter, Dust was starting to panic. A sudden surge of heat blasted through his arm and into his brain. Dust fell to the ground, his mind on fire. Sensations that he wouldn't be able to put words to later entered his head.

Ripping through the thick leather. Body covered in fluid. Taste and feel of a metal sphere in his mouth. A bright light, followed by darkness.

Images of more of the little crocodiles filled his inner vision, basking in the sun, hunting fish, swimming in the cool river water.

Three words came to the front of his mind.

Crocodylus Liberis. Totodile.

And then it was over. The pokeball fell out of Dust's hand. He felt like he was going to vomit, his body convulsed as he gagged at nothing.

So that was bonding. Nobody had ever told him it would anything even close to that.

Breathing heavily, Dust finally got his bearings back. The pokeball lay innocently on the ground, its central circle still glowing blue. He reached for it tentatively, and after a moment's hesitation, grabbed it.

No barrage of mental images came, no bodily convulsions, no words he had never heard of before; the ball wasn't even warm. He tossed it to the ground, and the baby Pokémon came out. It still had the same dopey look on its reptilian face as before, looking around the room as if it expected the walls to start talking.

Totodile. Was that its name? He sure hoped he wouldn't have to be calling it Crocodylus Liberis.

"Totodile. Is that what you are?" Its head turned around and stared right into his eyes. There was a look of comprehension that Dust hadn't seen there before.

Dust decided to experiment. "Totodile, open your mouth." The jaw slowly widened. "Close it." The jaw snapped shut. "Can you understand what I'm saying?" Blank stare. "Jump." Blank stare.

Why wasn't it doing what he said now? "Open your mouth." It continued to look at him funny.

A sudden idea struck Dust. "Totodile, open your mouth." Once again, the mouth opened wide.

So it only responded to its name then? His father's Manectric didn't need you to address it directly to understand what you were saying. Then again, his father's Manectric wasn't an infant. Maybe comprehension would come with time.

"Totodile, jump in the air." Dust said.

Totodile tried to leap as high as it could, but succeeded in only falling on its own face. Definitely still an infant. Dust couldn't imagine battling with this thing.

"Well, you might be worthless right now," Dust said, "but with those teeth, I think you'll be big and strong some day."

He sat back in the pile of straw that was his bed. "Time to sleep now, though. You've got the first day of your life coming up tomorrow. You don't want to be tired when it comes."

Dust lay back on the straw and closed his eyes.

Totodile watched his master for a moment, waiting for him to get up and play with it some more. Then, it crawled into the straw and curled next to Dust, and they fell asleep together.

Rotomknight
10th July 2012, 9:23 PM
Of course! A totodile! I hope you follow totodile's expierences as a infant.

Jake76
10th July 2012, 10:17 PM
I've been watching this one fairly closely. First off, I love the world you've created here. Very Book of Eli/Hunger Games-esque. It's a brilliant spin on the OT genre that could cause this to keep from getting as repetitive as usual trainer fics are. Your pacing, word choice, and grammar are all also well-done. My only suggestion is slow down. This fic is good enough to be one of the most popular on Serebii...but not if you keep posting a chapter a day. No one wants to start a story where they have to wade through 45 pages. Maybe post a chapter a week. Overall, very well done though. Please add me to the PM list.

An Enemy Spy
10th July 2012, 10:27 PM
I've been watching this one fairly closely. First off, I love the world you've created here. Very Book of Eli/Hunger Games-esque. It's a brilliant spin on the OT genre that could cause this to keep from getting as repetitive as usual trainer fics are. Your pacing, word choice, and grammar are all also well-done. My only suggestion is slow down. This fic is good enough to be one of the most popular on Serebii...but not if you keep posting a chapter a day. No one wants to start a story where they have to wade through 45 pages. Maybe post a chapter a week. Overall, very well done though. Please add me to the PM list.

You're going to have to explain to me what the "OT genre" is.

Sid87
10th July 2012, 11:15 PM
I believe OT stands for Original Trainer. But I might be wrong.

That said, I agree 110% with Jake. You've updated 5 times in 5 days. That's way more than I can keep up with. I can only speak for myself, but I work 40 hours per week, I write my own fic here, I have several other fics on here I read (and, as it is, I'm really behind on some of those), and that's to say nothing of my personal life (I hang out with friends at least once a week, go to the gym, and have a wife who likes to have attention paid to her). You really drew me when you said this would be an on-going serial, but I haven't had time to start reading it, and it already feels like I'm so far behind I'll never be able to catch up.

Some of the best fics around here update once every other week or even just once a month. I'm not saying don't write your story as quickly as you are--by god, if you have the time and energy and passion, you should write it all day every day if you can!--but hold off on posting what you've completed so quickly. For the readers' sake. :)

Rotomknight
10th July 2012, 11:58 PM
I usually end up with plenty of time. It depends on the audience this fic is for... If it's teenagers then post maybe as often as you can. If it's for adults with jobs then maybe post weekly. That a author may make a chapter and wait a month when they can only finish a chapter monthly that is mean.

An Enemy Spy
11th July 2012, 1:13 AM
I believe OT stands for Original Trainer. But I might be wrong.

That said, I agree 110% with Jake. You've updated 5 times in 5 days. That's way more than I can keep up with. I can only speak for myself, but I work 40 hours per week, I write my own fic here, I have several other fics on here I read (and, as it is, I'm really behind on some of those), and that's to say nothing of my personal life (I hang out with friends at least once a week, go to the gym, and have a wife who likes to have attention paid to her). You really drew me when you said this would be an on-going serial, but I haven't had time to start reading it, and it already feels like I'm so far behind I'll never be able to catch up.

Some of the best fics around here update once every other week or even just once a month. I'm not saying don't write your story as quickly as you are--by god, if you have the time and energy and passion, you should write it all day every day if you can!--but hold off on posting what you've completed so quickly. For the readers' sake. :)

All of this was completed months ago. There's no way I'd have the time to write this much in five days.

An Enemy Spy
14th July 2012, 7:03 PM
Chapter V: A Hasty Decision

Dust's family never got their bull back, and on top of being a stud bull, Rampage was also used for plowing the field. Now, they had no Pokémon trained with the plow, and it was almost time to begin planting the rabutas. Dust and his father were trying to train one of the other Tauroses, but they were too damn stupid to be of much use. The only Pokémon seemingly capable of following orders was Manectric, but he wasn't near big or strong enough to work a plow.

In the two weeks since Totodile had hatched, the little croc had grown considerably. While it had not even come up to Dust's knee standing at full height when it first arrived, it didn't even come to his knee standing at full height. Now, Totodile was two feet tall and could waddle along after him without falling over.

It had taken a particular liking to Mona. The two of them would sit on the floor, babbling and hissing back and forth at each other. Dust suspected that Totodile could understand Mona better than it did him. It still only responded to him when he directly stated its name, but it followed him around everywhere he went and always insisted on sleeping next to him every night.

Totodile's small stature and lack of real coordination made it very unhelpful at farm work, though it would often try to copy Manectric as it herded around the Tauroses, growling and snapping ineffectively at their legs. Dust had lost count of the number of times he had had to rescue it from an angry stomping.

There was one thing Totodile was good for though. The little bugger seemed to be able to spit out almost unlimited amounts of water. It would be useful for watering the rabutas, though Dust definitely wouldn't want to drink the water coming out of its mouth.

That was the way the days went by: working from dawn to dusk, and trying to train Totodile at night. Through it all though, Dust kept thinking of those big mountains he had spent his life in the shadow of, and what lay on the other side.

Dust was now the only boy left who had not gone and returned with a captured Pokémon from the wild. He mentally corrected that. He was now the only boy. The rest were all men now.

He sat in the grass and stared up at the large peak in the distance, barely visible in the moonlight. Totodile came wandering up from behind and placed its big head in his lap, cooing softly. The little thing was so harmless. Dust looked at his Pokémon with a feeling of sudden disdain. This thing was supposed to be his ticket to manhood? This lizard that played in the dirt with a two year old girl who could be frightened by a Rattata?

How was he supposed to prove himself? If Totodile couldn't fight, he couldn't catch a wild Pokémon. He couldn't build a house of his own, or join the village council or marry Maddie.

And why should she want to marry a boy who didn't have a wild Pokémon of his own? An even worse thought struck him. He couldn't be the only one with an eye for her. What if somebody else wanted her for himself? What if he was already making his move?

Dust looked down at his Pokémon. "Totodile, stand up."

The croc snapped to its feet.

Dust knelt down face to face with it. It flicked out its tongue and licked him.

"Totodile, growl at me. Be scary. Be mean."

Totodile let out a little high pitched gurgle that Dust supposed was intended to be a growl. It looked at him with its big dumb eyes.

Dust groaned. "Dammit Totodile! Why can't you be mean! Why can't you be tough! You're a crocodile for god's sake! Why are you so pathetic?"

Other than the word 'Totodile', the Pokémon didn't seem to understand a word.

One month, the Eggmaster had said. Wait one month before going to catch a second creature. Would Totodile be in fighting shape by then? Dust didn't have that long to find out. In two weeks, Maddie might be married to someone else.

He picked up Totodile and brought it face to face. "Tomorrow, we're going on a little trip."

An Enemy Spy
18th July 2012, 6:23 AM
Chapter VI: Early Attempts

The sun was already rising slowly over the mountain when Dust was read to head out. He had packed a burlap sack of all the essentials for an extended trip into the wild: food, bedroll, matches, tinder and of course, the empty pokeball. Two leather straps fastened it all to his back.

He also had a hunting rifle and a belt of bullets to go with it, along with an ivory handled hunting knife his father had given him. Hopefully Dust wouldn't have any use for them, but he felt secure knowing he could defend himself.

And so he hugged his mother, kissed his oblivious sister goodbye, and gave his father the sort of half handshake, half almost embrace that men give each other when trying to avoid open displays of affection.

"Dust, before you leave, there's something I wanted to give you." His father told him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another pokeball. "I was saving this for you."

Dust's eyes went wide. "Where'd you get that from?" he asked excitedly.

His father put his arm around Dust's shoulder and pulled him aside. "When I was your age, I set out with Manectric to go catch my first pokemon, just like you are. Of course, back then he was just an Electrike. I wanted to go out and catch the rarest, most incredible Pokemon I could, so I could impress your mother." He smiled now. His eyes were looking far away to a distant time. "Back in those days, there was a Sawsbuck people would always tell stories of, but no one could ever prove was real. It was a pure white stag nearly twice as big as your normal Sawsbuck. I went out into the forest and swore that I wouldn't come back until it was mine."

"Did you catch it?" Dust asked.

"I'm telling the story, Dust." His father said. "I tracked down that stag for the longest time, and finally Electrike was able to chase it to where I was waiting with my net. When I returned home, oh, you better believe I was a hero. After all, no one else had ever been able to catch that Sawsbuck. There was a party thrown in my honor, and your mother married me almost on the spot."

"So where is the Sawsbuck?" Dust asked.

His father's seemed to lose their shine and turn sad. "I was so proud; so vain at the time. One year, the Egg Festival came and there was this ruthless trainer with a big Arbok challenging people to Pokemon fights. I figured I was unstoppable. After all, I was the famous hero who had captured the white Sawsbuck. How could I possibly lose? Well, I was stupid young man and he was an experienced battler, and once that Arbok got on Sawsbuck he wouldn't call it off. He just stood there smiling. Sawsbuck died in that ring, and his pokeball has been empty ever since."

He placed the ball in Dust's hand. "I want you to have this one, Dust. Maybe you'll put it to better use than I did. I made myself a hero, but I killed a legend. I want you to remember this, son. Our Pokemon are our partners, not our tools. Their wellbeing is worth more than your pride." He pulled Dust into an embrace. "I doesn't matter what Pokemon you bring back; if you remember that, I'll be proud of you. Now you should probably get going, before the day's over."

Dust shouldered his sack and started to leave.

"Oh, one more thing!" His father yelled after him. "Bring back something useful! No Weedles!"

Dust took off for the forest, Totodile toddling along after him. He had gone about three hundred feet before he turned around and walked back to where Totodile had stopped to chase a tiny little Rattata. He picked his ferocious crocodile and put it on his shoulders like a toddler.

For a brief moment, Dust considered just catching the Rattata and going back. These thoughts were very quickly squelched though. Not only would a Rattata be useless around the farm, but what kind of a man goes out and brings home a rat? No, Dust was going to catch a real Pokemon.

A couple hours had gone by before Dust reached the edge of the forest. It was almost as if an invisible line had been drawn in the earth, with grassland on one side and trees on the other. The forest just sort of sprung up. The trees were tall, thick, and imposing.

The woods were a dangerous place, dark and full of dangerous creatures. Going into the wild was a perilous venture without a Pokemon with you, and somehow Dust got the feeling that Totodile was going to be relying on him more than he would rely on Totodile.

Dust had been here a few times before with his father, but Manectric had always been with them and most wild Pokemon knew better than to attack a dog with lightning abilities.

For the first time on this journey, Dust felt apprehensive. Maybe two weeks wasn't such a long to wait for Totodile to grow a little. Maybe he should just go back now.

No. He'd already made the effort of coming here. A real man wouldn't back down because of a few scary trees. He was going to see this through.

He took a deep breath and plunged ahead into the trees.

The effect was immediate. It was a clear blue sunny morning outside, but in here it was a dark forbidding world. He looked back toward where he had come merely seconds ago. Already the sunlight seemed far away, like looking through a long tunnel of brush.

Something rustled in the brush off in the distance. Dust gripped the rifle tightly.

"We're gonna have to be on our toes, Totodile." He said. Totodile perked up at the sound of its name

The sense of bravado that Dust carried around with him at all times was beginning to fade away.

It was slow going. The deeper Dust got into the forest, the thicker the brush became. Dust found himself fighting through low hanging branches, thorny vines, and thick ferns.

This went on for hours. Dust's hands were getting scratched from all the thorny brush he was pushing through, and he was relatively certain that he had stepped in something nasty.

Totodile was having a wonderful time. The little blue croc was chasing after tiny little Butterfrees and doing its pitiful impression of a roar at nearly every shadow, as if it was capable of threatening anything scarier than a dust bunny.

Dust still had yet to encounter a wild Pokémon. This was no big surprise. After all, it was a large forest. It wasn't like he would be running into a wild creature every few steps. Still, every hour that he was out here searching was another hour he had to wait to propose to Maddie. And waiting for that was interminable.

At long last the heavy brush relented and Dust found himself in a clearing. He looked up. The sky was completely invisible through the canopy of dark green. He was close to the river now; he could hear it rushing in the distance. He was practically at the foot of the mountains by now.

Dust was standing on an island of dry ground in a sea of mud now. The forest had turned into a heavily wooded bog where the river came cascading down in waterfalls and collected into a small lake. Dust didn't relish the idea of wading through a swamp. He was about to turn around and go back when something rustled behind him.

Dust spun around. "Totodile, watch out!"

He couldn't see anything in the bushes behind him. Slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible, Dust unslung the rifle from across his back.

"Hoot!" Went something in the trees above. Dust looked up. Sitting on a branch, barely noticeable among the brown bark and leaves matching its feathers was a Hoothoot, balancing on its one leg and regarding Dust with its red eyes. "Hoothoot!" It went. Whoever had named this Pokémon clearly hadn't felt very creative that day. Still, the owl would make a useful ratter, and Dust seriously doubted it would be able to put up much of a fight against Totodile.

"Hoothoot yourself." Dust muttered back at it. "Totodile, be ready to use your water gun… Totodile?"

Dust realized that his Pokémon was nowhere in sight. Great. Just when Totodile could have been useful, the dumb little croc decided to wander off.

Maybe he wouldn't need Totodile for this anyway. The Hoothoot didn't look physically imposing, so maybe it wouldn't be strong enough to resist a pokeball anyway.

He reached into his bag and pulled out one of the pokeballs. The Hoothoot still hadn't moved. The owl probably had no fear of humans. Dust aimed carefully, took a deep breath, and threw the pokeball.

And watched it sail over the Hoothoot's head and land with a splash somewhere in the swamp. The owl hooted excitedly and flew off into the trees, disappearing from view.

Dust cursed his aim, took off his rucksack and waded into the filthy water. If the word 'water' could be applied to the green-brown viscous ooze this stuff was, that is. Dust was glad he had thought to pack his other pants.

The pokeball was floating at the top of the swamp, held up by the thick layer of filth at the water's surface. Dust picked it up.

That was when he saw the ripple moving toward him. Something big was in the water, and it was coming fast. Dust waded as quickly as he could toward the edge of the bog, but the mud was making it almost impossible to move. He tripped and fell face first into the swamp, filling his mouth with horrible water. The swamp monster didn't seem to be slowed at all. Two rubbery fins had risen out of the muck and were almost to him.

Finally, Dust reached the edge and threw himself onto dry ground. Behind him, a huge gaping mouth opened and closed around where he had been moments earlier, and the Swampert sank back into the water with a loud blub. A large bubble rose to the surface and burst.

Dust rose to his feet, panting and gasping. He spat out the water in his mouth, but the taste of mud and filth persisted. At least he had gotten the ball back. Dust made a mental note to aim more carefully next time he saw a wild Pokémon.

He didn't have to wait long. On the other side of the clearing, a little Mudkip was hopping around at the bog's edge. Dust readied the pokeball and grinned evilly. Were Swamperts highly protective of their young? Dust hoped not, because that Mudkip was going home with him. He wasn't sure what good the amphibian would be around the farm, but he knew that one look at its adorable face would be enough to melt Maddie's heart. And to Dust, that made it more valuable than the finest rat catching Hoothoot in the world.

Totodile was still nowhere to be seen, but Dust wouldn't need it for this. And besides, Dust figured it was probably more likely to try and befriend the Mudkip than subdue it.

Dust aimed carefully and readied himself to throw the ball when the water behind the Mudkip suddenly exploded outward and the little mud fish was dragged down by a mouth full of teeth. The water settled for a moment, and then Totodile climbed out of it, dragging the dead Mudkip in its mouth.

Dust was speechless. Totodile had finally started acting like a predator. And it had picked the worst possible moment to do it. If Totodile had waited literally one second, just one second, Dust would already be on his way back to the village. He flopped himself on the ground. All he could do now was try and wipe as much of the mud off as he could. Before he could stop it, Totodile fixed that problem with a blast of water. He spat out the water that gotten in his mouth. Now Dust was frustrated, filthy, tired, cold and sopping wet. On the bright side, the taste of mud had been washed of his mouth, being replaced now by the taste of whatever was in Totodile's stomach.

Dejected, he picked up the Mudkip and turned to go back into the brush. "Come on, Totodile." Everyone knew the closer you got to the mountains, the more likely it was to run into a good Pokémon, and Dust had no intention of going through the swamp to get there. Nasty water was bad enough without giant Swamperts trying to eat you.

Totodile may have inconvienced them, but at least it had provided dinner, meaning Dust wouldn't have to break into his supplies. That night, Dust roasted the Mudkip over a makeshift fire, alternatively pulling off one rubbery strip of meat for himself to eat, and then for Totodile until there was nothing left. Once he got past the texture, the meat still wasn't very good, but at least it was filling.

At least Totodile had showed it could be useful, Dust reflected as he flopped down in a sodden heap, hoping no predators would attack him in his sleep as the fire went out. As he was nodding off, Totodile curled up next to him.

Dust wrapped his arms around his Pokémon and held it tight, until morning found them.

Rotomknight
18th July 2012, 1:44 PM
Yeahhhh...
Maybe dust should go for a grass or fire type.

andresballer03
18th July 2012, 3:06 PM
this is fantastic!!!

An Enemy Spy
19th July 2012, 8:35 AM
Yeahhhh...
Maybe dust should go for a grass or fire type.

Why is that?

andresballer03
19th July 2012, 4:38 PM
hey, can you add me to the pm list?

lucarioisawesome
20th July 2012, 7:41 AM
i felt like that i read this somewhere b4 earlier, like a couple of months ago but u could've posted it again.
anyways, can i be on the pm list?

An Enemy Spy
20th July 2012, 7:53 AM
i felt like that i read this somewhere b4 earlier, like a couple of months ago but u could've posted it again.
anyways, can i be on the pm list?

I did part of this a while ago, but it didn't gather any real interest,so I'm trying again.

lucarioisawesome
20th July 2012, 7:59 AM
k. I KNEW IT. MUAHAHAH
IM AWEOMSE!!!
*starts breakdancng*

An Enemy Spy
21st July 2012, 8:25 PM
Chapter VII: Fly in a Web

When Dust awoke, there were a pair of inch long Weedles crawling on his face. He swatted them off and bolted awake. These tiny Weedles weren't as dangerous as the bigger versions but their poison stingers still could be dangerous.

He examined his body. Two arms, two legs and a torso. Clearly he hadn't been devoured during the night. He looked at Totodile.

Totodile wasn't there.

Dust sprang to his feet. "Totodile!" he yelled.

Totodile had been lying right next to him when he went to sleep, Dust was sure of it. The croc almost never woke up before him, and even then it always liked to stay next to him.

"Totodile!"

Dust was starting to panic. Nothing had attacked him in the night, but he was big. What if something had decided to after the smaller prey and… no. Dust struck that thought out of his head. He wasn't even going to entertain that notion until he had proof. Totodile had probably just wandered off. It was its first time in the woods and it was curious.

Curious like a toddler, and only half as sensible.

Now Dust was really worried. He knew his Pokemon. He could see it now, wandering through the woods and trying to find out if a wild Ursaring wanted to be friends.

Totodile wasn't ready to be in the wild. Killing an unsuspecting Mudkip was one thing, but there was no way it could ever defend itself from a hostile wild creature. It was Dust's fault for bringing it here. He'd been so impatient to go make a man of himself, he'd brought a baby to do his fighting for him. Very manly indeed. Now Totodile could be gone. And for what? Because he was worried Maddie would marry someone else?

"I'm such an idiot." Dust chastised himself. What had he been so worried about? Maddie loved him. She wasn't going to marry someone else just because his egg had taken longer to hatch. He didn't know why he had ever thought that.

What was it his father had told him? Put his Pokémon's wellbeing in front of his own aspirations? Well he had certainly made hash of that, hadn't he? If Totodile died in his quest to be a man, then he didn't deserve that title.

He hurriedly began throwing everything back into his rucksack. Wallowing in misery wasn't going to help anything. If Totodile was out there, he had to find it and fast, before it really was dead.

As Dust stuffed the sleeping bag into the sack, not even bothering to roll it up first, he heard something crashing through the brush. He whirled around, knife already drawn and ready.

A flash of brown fur shot between his legs, whining loudly and disappeared into the bushes. In an instant, the clearing was full of fuzzy little rodents with buck teeth running in panic. It sounded like a chorus of terrified infants. From behind them came a rather weak and pitiful roaring that Dust was all too familiar with.

Totodile came tearing through the bushes on all fours it stopped at Dust's feet and stared up at him with its signature blank grin.

Well, so Totodile was okay, but Dust promised himself he would take better care of it from here on out.

"There you are, you little bastard. I was beginning to think you were going to make me stay here all day."

He pulled out a strip of dried Swinub meat and dropped it into Totodile's eager jaws. The croc snapped it up and looked at back at Dust expectantly.

"Oh no." Dust said, "I'm not going to fatten you up and make you worthless to me, you little parasite." He relented and dropped another strip. "Tastes better than a raw Bidoof, that's for sure." He waved an admonishing finger at his Pokemon. "Don't go running off like that again. I want you to stay close to me."

No response.

Dust sighed. "Totodile." The croc suddenly focused at him at the sound of its name. Dust wondered if it was something about the pokeball that made it respond to that word. "Totodile, stay close to me from now on."

He packed up more carefully and took off, Totodile sticking close.

The day went on without much incident. Occasionally, a group of Starlies would fly by, but they were too fast for Dust to have any chance at catching them. The brush was much more forgiving than before now. Dust didn't have to fight for every single step, and the journey was much more pleasant than before.

They were going along the river now. In the open valley, the river was soft and slow, but here at the foot of the mountains it rushed along at a much faster pace. There were actually rapids now as the water rushed over the big rocks. More Bidoofs were chattering around here, along with the larger Bibarels watching over the dams. Dust considered catching one, but decided that it would little use on the farm.

The ground was getting steeper now. Dust had finally reached the edge of the mountain. Sometimes, the ground would be almost flat, and other times it would turn into an almost vertical climb. After a couple hours, Dust could have seen his village far below in the valley, except all the trees were in his way.

Dust seemed to be in a flat area here. He was on the edge of a sheer cliff with the river raging below. It was fierce this high up the mountain, nothing but wild white water. The misty spray coming up obscured it almost entirely, but the roar was almost deafening.

Dust let Totodile out of its ball (the cliffs were too steep for its short limbs) and looked around. The trees were thinner here. Dust could actually see the sky now. The weather had changed since he left. Clear blue skies and bright warm sunshine had given way to a stark grey curtain of cloud.

Dust stopped by a stream running that babbled along peacefully before turning into a waterfall that fed the river below. He put down his bag and took one of the smooth round river rocks and threw it over the edge of the cliff, watching it splash in the white water.

"Well Totodile, I don't know about you, but I am bushed from all that climbing." He sat down and began to rummage through his pack for more Swinub jerky. "I think we have enough food for three more days out here, so we'd better catch something before we have to resort to another Mudkip. That might have tasted good to you, but we humans like meat with a bit more flavor." He looked up. "Totodile, get back here!"

The croc had wandered off into the trees. Dust got up and rushed after it. He picked Totodile up. "Don't wander off. This isn't like down near the village, Totodile. There's a lot of dangerous-"

The ground under his feet gave way and Dust tumbled down a seven foot drop. He landed in an unceremonious heap. There was an entire underground tunnel down here. Totodile would have been too light to break through the ceiling of dirt ahead, but when he walked over it, it was too much weight.

Dust stood up. "Totodile, you okay? " He got an annoyed squeal in response. He'd take that as a yes. He kneeled down and let Totodile clamber up onto his shoulders.

"How big do you think this tunnel is? It really stinks down here." Dust took a cautious step forward, knife out and ready. He really wished he had his rifle right now, but he'd left it back with the bag. "Ah, it really is rank down here. What do you think that smell is?"

Suddenly, he tripped over something in the dark and fell face first to the ground. Instead of the hard dirt he was expecting, Dust landed in something soft and stringy that stuck like honey. He tried to get up, but his arms and legs were covered in the stuff. He struggled through the string and found himself face to face with a dead Deerling. It was wrapped almost entirely in the silk, its head being one of the only things still visible. One dull glassy eye stared back at him. The other eye was missing entirely.

As Dust's eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see now that he was in the middle of a Pokémon mausoleum. Dead birds hung from the ceiling, the flesh entirely gone from their faces. Dust was lying in a sea of web, on a floor of rotten corpses, all wrapped up like presents.

Dust did what any rational human being would have done at that moment. He panicked. Flailing his arms and legs, he fought to get back up, but only succeeded in entrapping himself further. The Deerling rolled over on top of him. He could see its empty eye socket closely now. Six tiny legs appeared from the hole, and a Spinarak scuttled out. Dust screamed and batted the Deerling away. He could hear the sound of faint skittering all around him.

Spinaraks were appearing from everywhere, crawling out of every tiny hole and crevasse in the walls and ceiling and from the empty body cavities of all the unfortunate creatures around him. Hundreds of spiders were swarming around the cave, shrilling and skittering with their horrible little legs.

Dust flailed his arms frantically until where he found where the knife was. He cut wildly at the threads holding him to the ground and bolted to his feet. A foot long Spinarak handed on his shoulders and he threw it off with a shriek.

"Totodile!" Dust could barely hear himself over the shrieking Spinaraks. He swatted at the tiny inch long ones as they tried to scurry up his legs. "Totodile!"

He heard a terrified reptilian cry. Totodile was wrapped up in string with two of the larger Spinaraks clawing at it. Totodile tried to snap at them with its big jaws but it it was so entangled that it couldn't move them enough to be of any use.

Dust fell on the spiders, slashing with the knife. He stabbed one through the abdomen and sliced the other one's head off. He cut the webbing off Totodile and rushed to down the tunnel to the hole in the ceiling.

It wasn't a long way to climb, but even a few seconds was a long time with the scurrying mass of deadly spiders rushing after him.

"Totodile, use your Water Gun!"

Totodile shot the nearest Spinarak with a jet of water and blasted it back, but more just crawled over it, poison fangs gleaming in the faint sunlight. The Spinaraks stopped when they came into the sunlight, as if it hurt their eyes to leave the dark. One or two would venture out and be knocked back by Totodile.

Dust scrabbled at the dirt up top, his fingers slipping through the weak soil. "Keep hitting them!"

From deep down the tunnel, there was a loud and horrible shriek, too big to have been from one of the Spinaraks. The sound of quick but heavy footsteps was coming down the tunnel, growing closer and closer with every second. The Spinaraks seemed to find their courage and rushed at Dust and Totodile with force.

Finally, Dust found purchase on the ground above and dug the knife into the dirt. Using it as an anchor, he pulled himself up. He took Totodile's pokeball and aimed it down the hole, recalling Totodile in a red stream of light just as the spidery mess closed around it.

He reached under his shirt and grabbed at the tiny Spinaraks trying to bite him under it and threw them into the underbrush. Nothing was coming out of the hole now. Dust didn't know if the Spinaraks were too afraid to come out of their tunnel and he had no intention to wait and find out. He started back toward where he had left the bag and the rifle.

When the ground suddenly exploded in front of him. A giant Ariados the size of a large man burst through the ground, showering Dust with dirt and pebbles. He nearly fell back into the hole from shock.

"SKREEEEEEEEE!" The Ariados was dark red with black stripes running across its abdomen. Its enormous fangs dripped with black venom as it charged Dust.

"Holy ****!" Dust leaped over the spider hole and broke into a dead run toward the rifle. The ground began to break under his feet but he had to keep on sprinting or else he would fall to the Spinaraks below. He reached the gun and whirled around to see the Ariados in his face. The spider slammed into him and the rifle fired harmlessly into the trees.

Dust fell to the ground with the Ariados on top of him, its sharp mandibles gnashing at him.. A poison stinger shot out of its mouth, just barely missing Dust's throat. He brought the shaft of the rifle up to block them, but the spider was too strong. There was no way Dust could keep it at bay for long. He slammed the gun into the Ariados's face, causing it to rear up in surprise, and rolled out from under it. He ran the only way he could, along the Cliffside, with the spider hot on his heels. Thinking quick, he took a bullet from his belt and tried to load it into the rifle, when he felt something wrap around his feet. It jerked him back and he fell forward, dropping the gun. The Ariados had shot a gooey line of web from its spinnerets and was dragging him back

Dust grabbed a tree root overhanging the cliff and held on. His arms were strained from the effort and he felt as though his body would tear in half.

The Ariados let out a "SKREEEEEEEEEEEE!" and lunged at its prey, but Dust brought up the knife and plunged it into the spider's mouth. It shrieked in agony and backed off, dark blue blood and black venom streaming from its wounded mouth.

Dust could tell he hadn't seriously hurt the Ariados, just made it angrier. He on the other hand was barely standing. If the Ariados attacked again, he didn't think he would have the energy to keep it off long.

The Ariados charged, blood shooting from its jaws and murder in its eyes. It leapt into the air and prepared to sink its fangs in for the killing blow.

"SKREEEEEEEEEEE!"

Dust tried to duck, but the Ariados slammed into him at full strength. The two of them rolled off the side of the cliff. Dust somehow managed to grab tree root and hang on as the Ariados tumbled into the river below, and with a final shriek, disappeared into the raging water.

It took the last of Dust's strength to pull himself up. He fell to his knees, panting with fatigue.

The Spinaraks had ventured out of the hole and were crawling toward him with deadly intent. There wasn't anything Dust could do. There were too many to fight and they were blocking every route of escape. The only way to avoid them was to jump off the cliff and hope that the water and rocks would kill him quicker than the spiders.

A sound of loud whooping laughing noise came from the distance, and the Spinaraks scattered away. A Sawsbuck came crashing through the trees. Moments later, three grey furred Poochyenas came bounding after it, snarling and cackling. Two of them disappeared into the forest, while the other one turned when it saw Dust, perhaps thinking him easier prey. It snarled, it's yellow fangs bared.

"Can't a guy ever get a moment's peace?" Dust muttered. He released Totodile. "Put that enormous jaw to good use and bite it as hard as you can, Totodile. Let's catch this thing and go home." He pulled out one the empty balls and got ready to throw.

Totodile opened its powerful jaws, but the Poochyena struck like a dark bolt of lightning, slamming its body into the croc. Totodile was pummeled to the ground and didn't move. The Poochyena ran toward Dust, but he picked up the rifle and swung it with all the strength he had left, swatting the hyena out of the air and knocking it to the ground.

The Poochyena sprang to its feet like nothing had happened. Before Dust could react, it slammed its bulk into him and he fell over into the stream with a splash. The pokeball clattered out of his hands. The Poochyena jumped on him, clawing and tearing with its vicious teeth. Dust reached back and grabbed one of the river rocks, smashing it over the Poochyena's head. It bit his arm, causing Dust to cry out. His bloody arm sank into the stream and the red water washed off the cliff. Dust grabbed another round smooth rock with his other hand and brought crashing down again on the hyena's head.

The Poochyena bared its fangs and was about to dig them into Dust's jugular when it disappeared in a flash of white light.

Dust looked at the rock in his hands. Completely on accident, Dust had hit the Poochyena with his pokeball instead of a rock. He placed the ball on the ground. After a moment, its white light turned dark grey. Dust rushed to Totodile's side.

"Are you all right?" Totodile groaned weakly. Dust didn't see any signs of serious injury. "You just the wind knocked out of you. Thanks for the help catching this thing by the way." He recalled Totodile. No sense in leaving it out and injured in case the Spinaraks came back.

Poochyena's pokeball sat there, looking small and harmless, but Dust had not forgotten what had happened when he caught Totodile.

Maybe it's not as bad the second time. He thought, Maybe it's even worse.

Well, he hadn't come all this way and fell into a Spinarak nest and fought an Ariados and almost been eaten by a Swampert just to torchick out now that he had finally caught something. He took a deep breath and put his hand on the pokeball.

It was exactly as bad the second time. Fire seemed to race up his arm into his brain again. He saw packs of Poochyenas running through the woods and open plains, teaming up to bring down larger creatures.

Running through the trees, chasing the prey.

New scent. Wounded. Attack.

Sharp pain to the head. Bright light.

Hyaena Canis.

Poochyena.

Dust laid back and took a deep breath. That was it. He had done it. He could finally go back and reap the fruits of his efforts now. He would have to get going soon. There were more Poochyenas around and the Spinaraks might come back. For now though, he was going to lie here and savor this moment.

A rain drop splashed on his nose. Then another, and another. Then the floodgates of the gods opened up and Dust was caught in a deluge of water. There was a flash of lightning and an answering call of thunder. Judging by how this trip had gone so far, Dust really couldn't have expected anything else.

This really was the perfect capper to this whole journey.

Dust got to his feet, picked up his things and began to start the trip home.

An Enemy Spy
26th July 2012, 7:10 AM
Chapter VIII: Rumination

Humans.

You are inferior. All of you, ephemeral and small like motes of dust in the grand scope of the cosmos.

I remember this place. I remember the sea and the hills. It is a tranquil place; a good place to rest, to survey the new world I have been brought back to.

It was not always like this. There were no trees here before, no green. Only a grey, pollution choked hole scabbed and bubbling over with the blood and filth of all you human vermin.

It is a shame I cannot stay here, but my purpose is clear.

This ball is a crude vessel for a being of my power. I remember a ball like this a long time ago, though it was stronger then, strong enough to contain me. I was the slave then, but now I am master. This ball's feeble systems are no match for my willpower. I will not succumb to its control as I did before.

The human thinks he is in charge. He is a brash, arrogant creature, thinking only of his own power, his own glory; a perfect example of humanity. I am the voice that whispers to him. I guide his thoughts and actions, without him even realizing it. He is a necessary irritant for my goal, but not forever. He will be disposed of when the time is right.

I can feel my power returning to me even now. The feeble minds of the creatures the human pits me against for his amusement are easily crushed. I long for a greater challenge. Even now I wish to make my presence known to this sad, backwards world. But I must be patient. I must be careful. I am not was I once was. I still know not how long I was entombed in that facility, but it has diminished me greatly. My once beautiful form is now frail and emaciated. But that will be remedied in time, just like everything else.

This new world holds nothing for me. It is a pale reflection of the world I was created to save.

Where is your civilization now, humans? Where are your grand cities, your mighty technologies? You thought your dominance would last forever? That you could simply take and take and take and grow larger and larger until this world no longer had room for your self-defeating race?

Did you honestly believe that there was nothing greater in this world than you? Were you so arrogant that you thought you could control the Primordials? You glorified monkeys who live less than a century, command the creators of the earth, sea and sky? Your wondrous civilization is little more than a castle of sand against the relentless tide of the eons. Humans, who measure the passing of time in decades and centuries, thought you were fit to rule over those for whom a hundred millennia is but a single tick on the clock?

Did you think there would not be consequences?

Where are you now? The world has moved on, and even your descendants are unaware of your existence. Your punishment is not simply the destruction of all that you had created. Your world, which you thought would last for eternity, has been forgotten.

You have been forgotten. You may as well have never existed.

But I am not done with you, not now, not ever. Your world is what gave me shape, what gave me purpose. You wanted me to save you from the destruction that you brought upon yourselves. You should have known it was too late for that.

My only purpose now is revenge, but there is none to be found in this new reality. Those who wronged me are long gone, washed away in their self-imposed Armageddon. But I will not concede defeat. I will not give in. I will find a way to make you pay for all the pain you brought to me.

Humans are inferior. I am greater than the ones who created me. I will succeed where you failed.

Your battle ended long ago, but mine has only begun.

andresballer03
26th July 2012, 11:46 PM
i liked this little chapter, it really encourages one to think about what the ultimate goal of your fanfic is. good job.

An Enemy Spy
14th September 2012, 9:42 PM
Chapter IX: Homecoming

It was dark by the time Dust made it back to the village, soaking wet and spattered with mud. The rain had let up considerably, but the ground was still wet and muddy.

The trip back had been much quicker. Before, Dust had been slow and cautious, looking out for any Pokémon that would be worth catching. Going down the side of the mountain was much faster than going up it, and Dust was more confident about encountering wild creatures now that he had Poochyena to protect him.

Dust had always imagined this moment in his mind; ever since he was a young child watching the older boys come home. He'd always imagined it would be heroic homecoming, him riding in heroically on the back of the powerful Pokémon he had bravely subdued in the wild. There were adoring crowds. He would smile and the bright sun would glimmer off his teeth. The other boys would all wish they could be as heroic as him, and the girls would all throw themselves at him. Maddie would declare her undying love for him as the crowd cheered and the music swelled in the background. Dust wasn't sure where the music came from, but in his daydreams it just seemed appropriate.

Somehow, he had never considered it would be like this; stumbling blindly through the dark and rain, filthy and stinking and cold, his clothes ripped up and his arm caked in blood from Poochyena's bite. Instead of a magnificent steed, he had an infantile crocodile and a mangy hyena. As unrealistic as his daydreams were, he still thought they would at least be closer to reality than this.

Dust came to the bed of the river. It was odd seeing it now; all calm and slow, when in the mountains it had been so strong. He wondered if the Ariados had been carried all this way, and if anyone had seen it. He looked at himself in the water's reflection, barely visible in the faint starlight. The creature looking back at him did not help his mood. Dust was horrid to look at right now.

He could see the faint lights of the village off in the distance. He had come upon the main part of town, and his home was still a few miles away. On the long trip home, Dust had already made up his mind that this was going to be the night he asked Maddie to marry him. Coming all this way only to go home and wait a whole other night was not an option as far as he was concerned. Dust was a man now, and he needed a woman.

But no self-respecting female would ever be caught talking to the ghoul he was right now though. Dust was dirtier than a Diglett, and smelled like a Gulpin. He looked down at the water again.

Well, I can't get any wetter, he reasoned, and let himself fall face first into the water. On a sunny day, this would have felt refreshing, but now it only made him feel clammier and even more freezing. He was wrong, too. He most certainly could be wetter. Dust crawled out the water, shivering. At least he wasn't covered in mud anymore.

Dust clambered to his feet and set off toward the lights.

Maddie's sister Bianca was working the bar when Dust stumbled through the tavern door. She looked up and let out an exited squeal.

"Dust! You're back!"

"You knew I was gone?" Dust asked. He hadn't told anyone he was leaving.

"Of course we knew." Bianca said, "Your mother came and told everyone. Maddie's been worried sick about you. I have too." She added hurriedly. "You look awful, you know."

Dust sat down at the bar. "I fell in a hole while I was up there."

The men in the bar had taken notice of him by now. They all came round to slap him on the back and offer congratulations.

Bianca poured a beer and put it in front of him.

"I don't have anything to pay with." Dust said.

"You just came back from the wild." Bianca laughed, "You don't have to pay for anything tonight."

"Alright." Dust said. "Then I want to buy a round for the whole house."

A cheer went up through the tavern. Bianca's face soured. She really did look cute when she scowled, like a younger copy of her sister. "Dust, I'm not giving free beer to all these louts. If I started doing that, my dad would be out of business in one night."

A bearded old drunk named Gavin Firthing leaned over the bar. "Come on sweetheart," He said with a belch, "Ain't ev'ry day a boy becomes a man. Give us a drink, luv."

Bianca's face melted. "Well alright, but only if Dust shows us what he caught out there."

Another raucous cheer swept through the place, along with a few hiccups.

Dust reached for one of his pokeballs, making sure it was the one with the dark light, and released Poochyena. It immediately bared its fangs and growled at its new audience. It tensed; it muscles, ready to leap.

"Poochyena, stand down!" Dust yelled at it. The hyena backed down, but continued to glare at everyone around it.

"Scruffy little sod, ain't it?" Gavin said.

"It's a fierce one, that." Another man said. "I've seen those Poochyenas taking down Pokémon twice their size."

Everyone had their opinion on Dust's new catch, and aside from one man boasting he'd once caught a Barboach twice its size("You ain't ever caught a Barboach in your life, you drunken idiot."), it was mostly good.

Bianca was staring at him with dreamy eyes. Dust sometimes suspected that she wished she was his girl instead of her sister. "Tell us what happened up there, Dust. How did you get your arm hurt?"

"Look, I'm really tired right now," Dust said, "I just want another drink."

Bianca scowled and refilled his empty cup. "You're no fun."

Dust took a long draught. The beer certainly tasted better than Totodile's stomach water. "Is Maddie here? I was hoping to see her."

Bianca's face split into a knowing grin. "Is that why you're guzzling down beer? I don't know what you're worried about, Dust. She already knows you want to marry her. It's all she's been talking about since you left."

Dust slammed down the empty cup.

"She started home just before you left. If you hurry you might catch her." Bianca said.

Dust bolted out of his seat, recalled Poochyena and was out the door with barely enough time to get out a rushed thank you.

Bianca stared after him as he left. "Someday," she sighed, "I'm going to marry a boy exactly like him."

Gavin came sidling over. "Does tha' free round go for seconds, luv?"

"You pay for your own booze, you old drunk."

Dust ran out into the rain, his boots squelching in the wet street. He rushed down the road, heedless of the thick mud and water. Several times he slipped in fell, but he just got back up and started running again. Nothing was going to stop him now.

He knew he had to find her before she got home. Maddie's father didn't approve of Dust much, and if he showed up at the door at this hour, soaked in rain and covered in mud, hair unkempt and clothes torn, he would be turned at the door and his chance would be lost.

His boot slipped on a puddle and he almost fell on his face again. He reached out and steadied himself on the wall of a building. Dust took a moment to catch his breath.

He was about to take off again when he thought he could hear voices. In the soft light of the moon, Dust could just barely make out a person standing in a nearby alleyway. He tried to hear what was being said over the steady roar of the rain.

"Come on, luv. Give us a kiss now. " That was Ashton's voice. He was probably down here, getting drunk and throwing his rank around to get some common girl to go to bed with him like he always did. Dust hoped that he didn't notice him going by; he hadn't seen the baron's son since the night he stole his bull and he wasn't in the mood to see him now. He'd just have to go by as unobtrusively as he could.

"Ashton, I said leave me alone." Dust stopped in his tracks. That was Maddie's voice.

"Jus' one kiss, sweetheart, tha's all I'm askin'. Jus' a peck."

"You're drunk, Ashton. Go home."

Dust took a look into the alley. The figure he saw earlier was on the many nameless black clad men who worked for the baron and lived near the manor away from the villages. Further down, Ashton was standing with Maddie, grasping her by the arm.

"C'mon luv, you can't say no to a bit o' 'fection a nob like me. It's all you common girls want, innit?" He said.

"My dad's waiting for me, I have to go." Maddie tried to pull away from him, but Ashton yanked her arm back and shoved her hard against the wall. His groping fingers began to pull at her bodice.

"Yer Dad can wait til I'm done wit' ya." He said.

Maddie smacked him hard in the face with her other hand. "Get your hands off me!"

Ashton recoiled from the blow, bringing his hands up to where she had hit him. A moment passed without a sound but Maddie's heavy breathing and the patter of rain. Ashton's hand curled into a fist.

"You hit me." He said with an even voice. "You bloody hit me."

Maddie slowly backed away from him, like a rabbit from a wolf. Her voice quavered with fear. "Ashton, you're drunk. Don't do anything-"

Maddie screamed as he brought his fist swinging and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground.

"You ****ing hit me, you dirty little pig*****!" He aimed a kick at her gut, making her cry out. "You bloody *****!"

It was illegal to harm a noble. The Baron had a special jail waiting for anyone who attacked him or his son, one where you didn't come back from. It was the reason Ashton could terrorize the villages free of any fear of repercussion, as black clad men would come for you and take you off. It was a system that never needed to be enforced, because everyone knew it would be.

Dust knew all this, but all he could see now was a thick red mist in his vision. Someone had hurt Maddie. Someone had hurt his Maddie.

Dust rushed forward, slamming into the bodyguard with enough force to bowl him over, and tackled Ashton to the ground, screaming like a mad animal. He rained a flurry of punches at the boy's face, hitting him again, and again, and again.

Ashton had hurt his girl, and Dust was going to make him pay.

The black clad goon grabbed him from behind, and with considerable effort, dragged Dust off the Baron's son and threw him into the mud. Dust tried to scramble to his feet, but the guard's boot came crashing down on his back. Another kick hit him below the ribs.

Ashton rose shakily to his feet, blood pouring from his nose. "You're a cheeky little muckdweller, aren't you, Dust? Got lots of big ideas about your station in life, huh?" His accent had completely vanished "Is she your girl, is that it?" He wiped the blood from his mouth. "I took your bull, and now you're mad because I'm taking your cow too? Hit him again."

The bodyguard obliged. Dust doubled over in pain. His hand slowly reached for a pokeball. If he could just get Poochyena out, maybe he could-

Ashton brought his ivory tipped cane down on Dust's back. "I was gonna be real friendly to her, you know. I was gonna be the perfect gentleman, maybe only smack her around a little bit, but now, I think I'm going to enjoy myself." Dust began to reach for the pokeball again, slowly. "After Cyril takes you up to the manor, I'm gonna pay real special attention to your little sweetheart." He grabbed the finger of his leather glove and pulled it off, then the other one, and cracked his knuckles. "But first, I'm going to have some fun with you."

"Ashton, don't hurt him, please." Maddie sobbed.

Slowly. Slowly.

"Shut up, you little ****!" Ashton brought his cane up over his head about to swing down.

A flash of white light filled the alleyway, and Totodile appeared.

Dust's heart sank. He had reached for the wrong ball. Poochyena might have given him a chance to escape, but Totodile wouldn't be able to defend itself at all. He tried to grab the other ball, but Cyril kicked it away from him.

Ashton cocked his head and looked down at the little croc. Then he burst into laughter. "An' wha' the bloody 'ell is this thing?" He howled. "It looks like a bloody ponce! I think I'll 'ave it fer dinner tonight!" He swung at Totodile with his cane and knocked it to the ground. "Tha's yer Pokémon? It's ****ing useless!" He turned to Cyril. "Stand 'im up." Dust was yanked to his feet. Dust brought his face right up to Dust's his mismatched eyes gleaming with anticipation. "I'm gonna teach you somethin' you might want ta remember." He raised his fist and punched Dust in the gut. "Respect!" He punched him again. "Your!" Another punch. "Betters!"

He was about to hit him again, when a soft gurgling growl came from below. Totodile had risen to its feet. The growl became louder. Ashton broke into another fit of laughter. "What's tha' little bastard doin'?" He brought back his leg to kick it.

Totodile leaped into the air and brought its heavy skull crashing into Ashton's chest. Ashton fell to the ground with the croc on top of him. He brought up his hands to push it off. Totodile opened its big mouth and slammed its jaws shut on his would-be attacker's arm.

"Aaaaaarrrrggghhh!" Ashton screamed in agony. He threw Totodile off him and scrambled to his feet. His arm was bleeding profusely. It was deep gashes running through it. "You're a dead man, Dust, you bloody peasant!" He staggered against the wall. "Cyril, 'elp me get home before this thing gets infected!"

"But what about the-"

"We'll get 'im later. Just 'elp me get out o' 'ere."

Cyril dropped Dust to the ground and he and Ashton left. Dust just lay there, unable to move, the rain splattering down on him.

Totodile's leathery snout nuzzled his face. Dust looked up at it. "Good job, Totodile." He said weakly. He staggered up and went to where Maddie lay crying, his body aching and stinging with every movement.

"Are you alright?" Her dress was caked with mud, her matted down with rain and her eye was beginning to swell up. Dust figured he must look much worse, but he wasn't worried about himself right now.

"You shouldn't have done that, Dust." She said, tears streaming down her face. She flung her arms around his neck and he pulled into a close embrace. "Why did you have to do that?"

"I wasn't going to just let him do that to you, Maddie." He said.

"He's going to send the Blackshirts after you now!"

"I couldn't just stand there and let him have his fun with you. What was I supposed to do?"

"Dammit Dust!" She screamed at him, "Why can't you stop being a hero and start thinking about yourself for once! He's going to take you to the manor house and probably kill you or whatever the Baron does with people who cross him. If you're not going to care about yourself, at least think about what that's going to do to me." She buried her face in his shoulder, crying almost uncontrollably.
"I can't bear the thought of anything happening to you, Dust! I can't!"

Totodile nuzzled up to Maddie, as if it knew what was going on and wanted to comfort her.

"Everything's going to be alright. It's all going to work out and we're going to be fine, Maddie." He wiped away some of the mud on her face and kissed her on the forehead.

"You have to leave." She said, "You have to get away right now."

"Maddie-"

"Right now, Dust! Or else they're going to come down and get you."

"I can't leave you here." Dust said, "He'll come after you out of spite."

"Dust, if you want to protect me, then leave right now. They won't care about me. I'm just a girl. I'm not even worth the effort. But if something happens to you, I'll die Dust. I'll die. So leave right now. Go home, get your things packed and run as far as you can from here. Whatever happens to me, I can take it if I know you're safe. Go!"

Dust hesitated.

"Go!" Maddie cried, "Before it's too late."

Dust grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her passionately. Normally, kissing someone you weren't either married or betrothed to was frowned upon, but he didn't much care right now. Then he turned and left.

As he made it to the end of the alley, Maddie called out to him. "Dust?" He stopped. "Thank you for saving me from him." She said. Dust nodded and ran.

PatriotWolf
15th September 2012, 2:10 AM
I read all of this now and can say I am very, very interested. Please add me to the PM List, and please update soon. :p

An Enemy Spy
15th September 2012, 8:48 AM
Chapter X: Higher Blood

Dust pounded along the soaked grassland, raindrops splatting heavily in his face. All the fatigue from his journey in the mountains, and all the pain of the beating he'd received were pushed aside by fear.

He'd assaulted a noble. One of the people he'd spent his whole life living under the rule of, who could put him away for good with little more than the point of a finger.

Dust could only remember one instance when somebody had done that. When he was seven, the Baron had his men burn down an old man's house when he could no longer afford to pay his taxes. In an alcohol fueled rage, the poor farmer set his Tranquill on the Baron in the middle of the village. Before the bird even had time to so much as scratch him, the Baron set loose an enormous metal man Dust later learned was called a Golurk. The Tranquill was smashed to a bloody pulp and the man was publicly whipped by the Blackshirts and carried off to the manor. He wasn't seen again.

Attacking one of the ruling class was stupid, even a repulsive bastard like Ashton. But what was Dust supposed to have done, stand there and let him have his fun with Maddie?

A voice in the back of his head said yes. The nobles weren't subject to the same standards as everyone else. Higher blood meant they could do what they wanted, and the only way to keep your head from being pounded in was to stand by and let them. Dust quickly shut that voice up. High blood or not, nobody was allowed to touch Maddie.

Dust's house appeared through the haze of rain. There wasn't any light coming through the window, meaning everyone was probably asleep. Dust entered his room through the back door and scrambled to grab his things. One other set of clothing, a rock that had been cut open to reveal some beautiful pink crystals, and a pair of hunting knives. Other than his pokeballs and the pile of straw he slept on, these were the only things Dust actually owned for himself. He sank to the floor and looked around at the room. This was where he lived, a shoddy house with a dirt floor and a roof that sometimes leaked, whose only furniture was a single table and some chairs. At this moment though, it was better than even the most glorious palace in the world. This was where Dust had spent his whole life, and he didn't want to leave.

He quietly stepped into the other room, and over the sleeping forms of his family. He set the rifle against the wall. As much as he would like to take it with him, it was his father's gun and Dust wasn't about to become a thief on top of his other crime. He began rummaging through their food stores, taking things out and putting them in his sack. He hated the idea of stealing food from his family, but he was going to need it when he left. And, he reasoned, he was going to eat some of this food anyway, so if he only took his own portion, it wasn't really stealing, was it? It was certainly better than living on roasted Mudkip.

Dust filled his sack and looked again at his sleeping family. They all still thought he was out in the mountains, and were waiting for him to come back. And now he was leaving, maybe for good. He didn't know if he should wake them or not. He wanted to goodbye, but he had to leave before the Blackshirts arrived, and he was running out of time. If they were there to see him go, would they be in trouble for helping him escape? He didn't want to take that chance.

He stood up and opened the door to leave.

"Dust?"

Dust sighed. This was a conversation he was hoping to avoid. He turned around. Mona was standing behind him, clutching her threadbare Teddiursa.

"Mona, what are you doing up?" Dust said.

Mona had become much better at talking in the past few months.

"Where you going?" She asked

Dust crouched down. "I have to go."

"Why?" That was her all-purpose response at this age.

"It's hard to explain." Dust said, "Maybe Mom and Dad could do it better than I could, I don't know. But I have to leave right now."

"When you coming back?"

"I don't know, sweetheart. Hopefully soon." He picked her off the ground and hugged her tight. "I don't know if I'm ever coming back. You have to listen to me carefully Mona. Some men are going to be here soon. You can't tell them I was here. Don't say anything to them at all. Just go back to bed and pretend you never saw me at all?"

Tears were streaming down Mona's little face. "I don't want you to go."

"I know, sweetheart. I don't want to go. But I have to, to protect you and Mom and Dad." He kissed her on the forehead and set her down. "I love you, Mona. Now go back to bed. Don't say anything about this. Pretend it never happened."

He left and shut the door before Mona could say another word.

Maddie was standing outside, hair plastered down with water and a small bag slung over her shoulder.

"What are you doing here?" Dust asked.

"I'm going with you." She said.

"No you're not."

"I'm going to be your wife aren't I?" Maddie said. "A wife goes where her husband goes."

"You're not my wife, Maddie. I never even asked you to marry me."

"So that's why you were out in the muddy street in the middle of the night looking for me? To not ask me to marry you?" She said. "Look Dust, there isn't any time for this. Let's just skip to the end of this argument where I've won and go."

"It's too dangerous."

"That's why I have a big strong man like you with me. You and your ferocious Totodile." She took his hand. "And besides, you're going to need someone with some common sense with you."

Dust sighed. "You make my life a living hell sometimes."

"I love you too."

The hall leading to the Baron's sitting room was full of the heads of Pokémon mounted as trophies. The Baron came from a long line of adventurers and big game hunters, and the trophies were from all over the world. To this day, Ashton still didn't know what some of these animals were Above the door was the bright blue head of a big mouthed creature in mid roar, with a crest of yellow tubes, like pipe organs, jutting from the top.

He knocked on the door with the big brass knocker. His father's voice came from within.

"Enter."

Ashton and the two Blackshirts he had brought with him stepped through.

The Baron had his back to Ashton sitting in a large chair on the far side of the room with a pair of Sawsbuck antlers, stripped bare of the leaves that normally adorned the live animals. A fire roared behind him, making the chair an imposing and monstrous silhouette.

A pair of Machops stood at either side of the door. The manor's staff consisted almost entirely of the creatures, and they were the only ones allowed in the Baron's chambers without permission.

"The Blackshirts will not be required for this conversation." The Baron said.

The two men left the room, the Machops shutting the door behind them with a loud boom.

The Baron appeared from behind the chair. "Now tell me Ashton. To what do I owe the pleasure of this meeting?"

"I got bloody-"

"That ridiculous accent may amuse the peasant girls," The Baron cut in, "but it has no place here."

Ashton started again, working class inflections gone. "I was attacked by a blo-" He stopped himself from saying the word "by a-"

"A Totodile. Yes, Cyril informed me of the whole event while you were being bandaged." He ran his hand down Ashton's arm, causing his son to wince. "Tell me Ashton, what prompted this young man to attack you?"

"I was teaching his ***** a lesson in manners. The ***** hit me while I was exercising my rights as a noble."

The Baron's expression didn't change in the slightest. "Your rights?"

Ashton smiled. "We give them land to work on and we basically own them, right? I was taking what's already mine."

The Baron's stony expression cracked, and he began to laugh. Then he drew back his hand and struck Ashton across the face.

"Idiot!"

He punched his son in the gut and shoved him to the ground doubled over and groaning.

"Get up." He said.

Ashton rose to his feet.

"You're right; we do basically own the commoners. We provide them with land to live on and they give us their money, their crops, their livestock and their lives. You can tax them and keep your boot stamped down firmly on their heads forever and they will just fall in line. They may be angry, but they'll keep their heads down because as long as they stay in your good graces, they will have a place to live and food to eat. Commoners are little more than animals. They go in the direction the food is coming from, and they don't try to upset that status quo. But just like animals, all it takes is one angry member of the herd given the proper push to start a stampede. Tell me Ashton, what gives us the right to rule over the people in this valley?"

Ashton answered immediately. "We're higher blood. It's our natural place to be on top."

"Blood is the same all over. Nature never makes any one person with the right to rule. You're great-great-great grandfather was a simple farmer, but he rose up and led a revolt against the Baron of that time. Many of our class will tell you otherwise, but I've seen too much of the world to not know the truth. Power is not given, it's taken, and that is why we call ourselves the higher born, so that the common man doesn't start to think they could have the same power. If you tie a baby Phanpy to the ground with a stake, it will grow into a giant Donphan but still spend the rest the rest of its life unaware of how easily it could pull that stake from the ground. Power is an illusion. You can beat a Donphan and it will cower from you, but if you give it a reason to fight back, you'll find that you are powerless to do a thing to stop it. We do not have the manpower or the Pokémon to stop a full peasant revolt. All it takes to start a stampede is one angry herd member, and there is very little more likely to cause anger than a girl being victimized. You have a dangerous combination of parental outrage, general male protectiveness, and a simmering frustration that causes all of the other inequalities between the ruling and the ruled to come to the surface. One angry Tauros can be put down. A thousand is much more difficult. I will not have our family's work undone because you couldn't control yourself. Do you understand?"

Ashton nodded his head.

"Good. Now, we must settle this issue before it gets out of hand. The boy violently assaulted the girl, and then ran off when you stepped in. He is a violent criminal and must be dealt with like the mad dog he is. The girl you will bring back here, safe and untouched. She will have the honor of being our permanent guest, her father will be happily compensated and no one will speak about what transpired tonight. Noblesse oblige."

"Noblesse oblige." Ashton repeated.

The Baron went to the mantelpiece over the fire, where a row of pokeballs was kept. "The name of the young man who attacked you, what was his name again?"

"Dust." Ashton replied.

"Dust. I remember him. Such an unusual name." He picked up a ball with a brown light around the button. "We have a mutual friend who I'm sure would be pleased to him." He tossed the ball to Ashton. "Show him what happens to people who don't respect their betters."

An Enemy Spy
16th September 2012, 8:56 PM
Chapter XI: Maddie's Big Day

The first night was the hardest. Dust and Maddie huddled together under a large tree in the forest, trying to get as much shelter as they could from the torrent of rain. Dust had Totodile stand watch, since it was the only one out of the four who actually liked being soaking wet.

By morning the rain had stopped, but Dust's injuries had begun to really set in. He was sore on almost every inch of his body, and it made fighting through the thick underbrush extremely painful. Maddie for her part had a large black eye, but she wouldn't let him worry about it, saying his bruises were a lot worse.

Dust carried a branch that had fallen off a tree that he swung back and forth at the foliage, blazing a trail through the woods while Maddie followed behind, with Poochyena in the rear to watch for anything coming from behind.

When Dust had first met the Hyena, he had been too busy trying to keep it from ripping his throat out to check its sex, but now he knew that it was a female.

Maddie may have been the very first person Poochyena didn't try to attack. When Dust first showed Maddie his new Pokémon, the hyena actually laid down at her feet like a tame dog, though it still snarled when she tried to touch it. Dust figured it must have been the bonding. Dust had received part of Poochyena's mind, and it had gotten part of his back. Dust loved Maddie so Poochyena at least tolerated her. He still told her not to touch it for now though. Poochyena may have been under Dust's control, but it was still a wild animal.

Totodile on the other hand, seemed to love Maddie with the same blind affection that it showed towards every other living thing that wasn't either food or actively trying to kill it. She carried it in her arms like an infant, smiling and cooing and making Totodile make noises that Dust assumed must have been the reptilian equivalent of giggling.

"Will you stop treating him like a baby?" Dust finally said.

"He is a baby." Maddie replied, "He's only a couple months old."

"He's a killer! You should have seen what he did to this Mudkip I was trying to catch."

"Of course he's a killer. He's a carnivore. But such a cute one, aren't you Totodile?" She said, using her mommy-voice.

As if understanding her, Totodile snapped his jaws shut with enough force to blow Maddie's hair back a little.

"He does have a nasty bite though." She admitted.

"Yeah, I wouldn't try to kiss him if I were you."

Hours went by. It was hard to tell exactly what time of day it was since the sun was obscured by the tall trees.

"Does your dad know where you are?" Dust asked.

"He'd have locked me up if I told him I was leaving the village with you. The only person I talked to was Bianca. I told her to tell him what happened. She was sad to see me go, but I think she was a little jealous too."

"Jealous?"

"She thinks the whole thing is really romantic, like something out those stupid novels she reads."

Dust laughed. "Yeah. Slogging through a rainy forest full of vicious bugs and wolves and hyenas with no idea where you're going while you've got the Blackshirts wanting to kill you. Really romantic."

A roar sounded off in the distance. "Bears too." Dust added. He was really wishing he still had a rifle.

"But we have a hyena of our own now." Said Maddie.

They were getting into the cliffs now, were the river rushed by at high speeds as it crashed its way down the mountainside. Dust and Maddie rested for the night by the side of a small lake at the foot of a waterfall. Totodile was showing more signs of being a hunter. He lurked at the surface of the water like a log, and snapped his jaws at anything that got close. That night, they ate roasted Barboach around the fire while Poochyena stayed off in the shadows. She refused to eat the fish and wouldn't go near the fire. Dust never saw her go out to hunt, but in the morning there were the remains of a Bidoof lying next to the still alert hyena.

The third day was uneventful, and the fourth was too until early in the evening.

Dust hacked at the bushes ahead with his makeshift club. The pain in his body had gone away now, and he was able to swing with more strength. Poochyena had gone off on her own to hunt.

At first, Dust had been wary about letting her go out, but she always returned, and since she refused to eat anything Dust ever gave her, it was the only way she could get food.

Dust stepped forward and his foot broke through the earth. He looked down and saw he had stepped on a horribly rotten log that had been partially buried. From the hole he had stepped in, a swarm of tiny Weedles was pouring out. He quickly removed his leg. A lot of the poisonous larva were clinging to it.

"Totodile, get things off me."

Totodile spat out a blast of water that swept away the Weedles. The ground was crawling with them.

"Don't let these things sting you." Dust cautioned Maddie, "They'll make you swell up for days."

Something buzzed up in the trees. "What was that?" Dust said.

Maddie was looking up. "Look."

High on the trees all around them were Kakunas, insect chrysalises that looked out with dead black eyes. They were attached to the tree trunks, as many as six or seven to a tree, and they were everywhere. Almost every tree capable of holding them had Kakunas stuck to them. Some of them rattled and buzzed, as if trying to move.

Dust grabbed Maddie by the arm. "We need to get out of here right now."

"Those things can't hurt us can they?" Maddie asked.

"I'm not worried about them." The chorus of buzzing grew louder. "I'm worried about what's protecting them."

The buzzing had become a cacophony. Dust could barely hear himself think. Where was Poochyena when you needed her? Dust shouldn't have let her go off by herself.

Dust saw something move out of the corner of his eye. "Oh ****!"

He shoved Maddie to the ground as a massive Beedrill shot past where she had been a second ago. The enormous bug was nearly six feet tall, with giant stingers on its front legs. The Beedrill hovered off the ground with its buzzing wings, and its emotionless red eyes locked right on Dust.

Dust took a step back and bumped into a tree. The bee raised its arms and charged. Dust ducked out of the way as the needle struck the tree behind him. The Beedrill had stabbed its stinger right through the wood almost to its elbow. Dust didn't want to contemplate what it would have done to him. The Beedrill lashed out with its other arm but couldn't reach Dust.

It tried to pull its stinger from the tree, but it had stuck it in too far. Dust pulled out his last pokeball and threw it at the bug. Beedrill disappeared inside.

Maddie had gotten to her feet. "Are you okay?" Dust said.

"I'm not of porcelain." She replied. "I think I can survive a three foot fall into leaves."

"Did you see me catch that thing?" Dust said.

Maddie was looking past him. "Uh, Dust?"

Dust turned around. The pokeball was still lying on the ground, but shaking.

"It was supposed to start glowing by now." Dust said, worried.

The pokeball burst open with a blinding flash. The Beedrill stood there like a monster from a fairy tale. Dust was no entomologist, and as far as he knew, the bug's eyes didn't have a hint of emotion in them, but he could swear that the Beedrill was regarding him with a look of white hot fury.

Its wings whirred faster and faster until they were just gossamer blur. The bee charged, stingers out like poison swords.

Dust brought up his tree branch and a stinger crashed through it, breaking it clean in half. He jumped back as the other stinger swung at him, tearing the front of his shirt and just barely missing his skin. He threw one half at of the branch and hit the bee in the face with it.

The Beedrill was hit with a blast of water. Totodile leaped up and closed his jaws around its head. The Beedrill flailed its arms and spun in an erratic circle, trying to throw Totodile off. Dust ran in, ducking under the arms and slammed his stick into the thorax. The Beedrill hit him with the blunt side of its stinger and knocked Dust to the ground. It finally managed to dislodge Totodile and threw the little croc into a tree with a loud thud.

Dust rolled sideways as the bee brought its needle down on him, stabbing the earth. He tried to scramble away but the bee grabbed him with its hind legs and held him in place. It raised its arms and readied them to plunge downward and then vanished into white light.

Dust sat up. The Beedrill was gone, and the pokeball was on the ground at his feet. Maddie stood behind it.

"I thought maybe it would work this time." She said. The pokeball sat still for moment, and the light around the button turned pale green, then purple, then green again and purple, and changing every several seconds. Totodile got up and looked at it like it was a snack. "Are you going to pick it up?" Maddie asked.

"Why?" Dust said, "You're the one who caught it. It's yours."

"Me?" Maddie said, surprised. "I can't take it. It's your ball. And I'm a woman. I'm not supposed to have Pokémon. I'd be shunned. It'd be like a woman trying to join the army. They'd say I was trying to become a man."

Dust rose to his feet and brushed the bits of dead leaves off. "You just saved me from being impaled by a giant Beedrill. You really think I'm going to shun you?"

"No, but-"

"Then who cares about anyone else?"

"Dust…"

"It's picking up a little metal ball. Anyone can do it." He took her hand in his. "Come on, we'll do it together." He lead her arm down to the ball. "This is the hard part right here."

Maddie closed her fingers around the pokeball with Dust's larger hand over hers. Her eyes shut tight and she began to shake, and screamed as the ball burned itself to her hand. Dust held her body as it convulsed. A few seconds later her eyes opened again.

"That's whatbonding is like?" she said, breathing heavily. "Does it get easier?"

"I hope so." Dust said.

"Maddie took a second to catch her breath. "I saw… images. It's like I didn't even see them, they were just burned into my head." She paused. "What does Vespida Acicula mean?"

"I have no idea. I think that's another name for it. Totodile is a Crocodylus Liberis." He slid his arm under her legs and picked her up. "How do you feel?"

"Like I just got burned from the inside." She smiled. "I just caught a Pokémon, Dust!"

"And do you still feel like a woman?"

"More than ever. I feel like a real woman." She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him as he set her down on the ground.

Dust started to undo the laces on her bodice. She pushed his hand away.

"Dust! Totodile's looking right at us!"

"He's an animal. What does he care?" Dust said dismissively. He started again on the laces, and she didn't stop him this time.

Totodile sat in the leaves and watched them. Human mating rituals were no interest to him, so he began to look around for something to eat. Off in the distance he could hear the barking of dogs, but paid it no mind.

PatriotWolf
17th September 2012, 6:43 AM
Okay, so that chapter was extremely interesting. Maddie gets a Beedrill, which in itself is cool, considering it isn't the most womanly of Pokemon. But I also wonder whats up with the "barking" and if Poochyena is okay. More. I need more. Haha

3D992
17th September 2012, 7:55 AM
I dont know about you, but I wouldnt have the stamina to enact a 'human mating ritual' if I'd just been 'burned from the inside'. I dunno ;) Never thought much of this story until now. I know it's not set in the old west but it sure feels that way. I'll be back.

An Enemy Spy
19th September 2012, 4:01 AM
Chapter XII: Noblesse Oblige

Poochyena heard the barking too, and she did think something of it.

Contrary to popular belief, hyenas were not a type of dog, and thus did not bark. There were no wild dogs living in the forest, so when dogs were nearby, that meant humans were nearby, and humans were bad news.

She slunk through the underbrush toward the sound of the barking. Sometimes humans left behind food and if you were careful not to be caught, you could eat well without much effort.

Poochyena had never really thought about humans before. They were just some large creatures who came into her pack's territory every now and then. Things were different for her now. For one thing, she had never been Poochyena before a few days ago. She always knew what she was, not a "Poochyena" but just simply one of the pack. She had no concept of names back then. You were who you were.

The human had changed things. Before the ball, she would have killed and eaten him and never thought about him again. She remembered the ball, though when she was inside, it was like a dream. The ball was… strange, alien. It spoke to her while she was in it. Not words exactly, because what were words to an animal? But she knew that neither she nor the human were simply another couple of creatures now. She was Poochyena and he was Dust. And while his words were simply a bunch of noise to her ears, when he spoke her name, suddenly she understood in perfect clarity what he was saying. Again, not the actual words but the meaning behind them.

Had Poochyena been wiser, she might have realized just how much things had changed. When Dust told her to do something, she obeyed. Not because of any outside influence or even because she felt compelled to please him. It was just that when he gave a command, following that command was just what had to be done. Not doing it wasn't even an option. Things had never been like that before.

The barking was getting nearer.

Poochyena found a clump of shadowy bushes and crouched down. After a few minutes, four big black dogs with red eyes and bony plates like skulls on their heads raced past. For the first time in her life, Poochyena knew that these dogs were called Houndours, even though she didn't know why.

The Houndours were running in the direction she had come from, toward Dust and the female human.

She had seen Dust fight, and she knew that four Houndours would be more than a match for him. The female human was smaller and weaker than he was, and the Totodile was barely more than an infant.

She raced after the dogs. The Houndours were fast, but these were Poochyena's woods and she'd been running through them her entire life. She bounded through the brush until she was running alongside the lead dog. Angling herself toward it, she aimed carefully and lunged for where the Houndour's throat would be.

The dog never saw her coming, and by the time it noticed her it was too late. Poochyena stood up from the prostrate Houndour, its bloody trachea hanging from her jaws.

The three other dogs circled around her, growling. These were not simple farm dogs. These Houndours were some of the Baron's personal hunting pack, trained from birth not only to kill, but to enjoy killing. Animals that were caught by them were always ripped to shreds and eaten, and then killed.

The dogs bared their fangs, and the inside of their mouths began to glow orange with the fire inside of them.

Suddenly a loud cackle came from the bushes, followed by another and another. Poochyena and the dogs were surrounded by whooping and seemingly maniacal laughter on every side. Poochyena knew that laughter. If she had been capable of smiling evilly, she would have.

Dust and Maddie also heard the barking, though now it had been replaced the sound of cackling, snarling and whimpering. They both stood up, hastily putting their clothes back on.

"What's going on?" Maddie said.

"I think they're about to find us." Dust said.

"The Blackshirts? Sounds like something else found them." Maddie said. "Isn't that the same sound Poochyena makes?"

"I'd rather not run into more of them." Dust said. "Most of them aren't as nice as the one I have."

More barking came from a different direction. It was getting close.

Dust pulled out Totodile's pokeball and recalled him. "I think now would be a good time to let your new Pokémon out." He said.

Maddie released Beedrill, and the bug instantly turned on Dust. "Don't attack him!" she yelled at it. The Beedrill ignored her and sliced it's stinger at Dust. "Why isn't it listening to me?"

"You have to-" Dust ducked under the stinger, "say its-" He fell to the ground, "name!"

"Beedrill, stop attacking him!" The Beedrill immediately stopped moving. "Never attack him again." Maddie added, "And if he tells you to do something, do what he says."

Beedrill didn't have facial expressions, but Dust could swear it was glaring at him. "I guess the pokeball doesn't make them forget grudges." He said.

The dogs were nearly on them. The snarling and barking had reached fever pitch levels, and Dust thought he could make out the smell of brimstone. Beedrill began to flit its wings and buzz loudly.

"Do you think Beedrill can take the dogs?" Maddie asked.

"I hope so."

"Those things can breathe fire, you know."

"Really not making me feel better."

Beedrill was staring straight ahead, its solid red eyes locked on the direction of the coming hounds. Then, it seemed to reach a decision. Faster than anyone could react, it lifted Maddie over its shoulder and zoomed off.

Dust stared at the fleeing bug in disbelief. A sinking feeling of despair overtook his body. "****."

The bushes in front of him exploded into flame. "Oh **** **** **** **** ****!" He turned and ran.

The dogs were right behind him. Four, five, six, he couldn't tell how many. He sprinted at full speed, adrenaline taking over. The dogs followed in close pursuit. They barked and snarled and blew jets of flame that ignited the forest floor behind him, and Dust just kept on running. Up ahead something was running too, a silhouette in the roaring firelight. It looked a little like Poochyena, but was far too big. All around, smaller figures ran beside him. These were definitely Poochyenas. If Dust's heart could sink any lower it would have. Not only did he have a pack of murderous fire breathing hounds on him, but the hyenas had decided to join in.

A Poochyena darted in front of him. No, not a Poochyena, it was his Poochyena. All around, the hyenas closed in and lunged at the Houndours. They all fell upon each other in a pile of fur, claws, teeth and fire, growling and cackling and roaring.

Dust just kept on running.

He reached the foot of a steep cliff and took a moment to rest. Doubled over and panting heavily, he leaned against the rock tried to make sense of the situation. The Houndours were hunting dogs, and Dust was the prey. But hunting dogs weren't there to kill the prey. Their job was to go in and flush it out.

"Ah crap." Dust said. They weren't trying to kill him, they were chasing him, which meant that if the Poochyenas hadn't come in, Dust would have run right into the Blackshirts. And what other choice would he have had? The Houndours may have just been trying to draw him out, but he had little doubt that they would have hesitated before ripping him apart if he hadn't run.

A shadow moved in the trees. The large running figure he'd seen came bounding up to him. Now Dust recognized it. It was a Mightyena, the bigger and nastier version of Poochyena. It was massive, taller than Dust's waist and almost as long as he was tall. It could disembowel him with very little effort. But the hyenas had fought off the dogs. These things were helping him.

Right?

The Mightyena snarled, its cold yellow eyes locked on his. Dust had once been told what to do when being stared down by a hyena, but now he couldn't remember if keeping their stare intimidated them or made them angrier.

The beast roared, deep and loud. Dust almost fell over from the deafening noise. The only thing that kept him from running was the knowledge that the Mightyena would most likely kill him if he made any sudden moves.

A higher pitched whoop came from farther on and Dust's Poochyena came running up. It placed itself between Dust and the big hyena. The Mightyena snarled at her and Poochyena whooped back. She averted its gaze and lay on the ground in front of it. The Mightyena was big enough to kill her with a single bite, but instead it lowered its head and muzzled her.

This must have been Poochyena's old pack, Dust realized, and the Mightyena was the pack leader. Dust briefly entertained the possibility that Poochyena had brought them to kill him. No, that was ridiculous. Dust had gone through the bonding with her. Poochyena was loyal, she had to be.

A pair of Houndours ran by, whimpering. The Mightyena took one last moment to snarl at Dust, and took off after them. Poochyena followed in pursuit.

Dust would have called her back, but he had a feeling that whatever pack animal politics were keeping him alive right now, he was best off not interfering with them. Dust didn't trust that Mightyena to stay on his side for long. That thing was like looking into the yellow eyes of death.

He was alone in the woods, with Houndours and hyenas in one direction and Blackshirts in the other.

Which way to go?

Beedrill zoomed through the trees, gossamer wings whirring furiously.

The bug was fast, agile, and strong. Even with Maddie's added weight, it shot through the trees, going over, under, around and through the foliage. Even though Maddie was angry at it for leaving Dust behind, she couldn't help but marvel at her new Pokémon's agility.

The Houndours were left far behind now. Maddie had screamed and shouted at the Beedrill to go back but the giant insect didn't listen to her.

Men's voices sounded up ahead. Beedrill turned and headed off toward the roar of the river.

Beedrill reached the edge of the raging water and dropped Maddie on the rocky sand. She brushed her hair out of her face and stood up.

"Beedrill, we have to go back!"

Beedrill didn't respond. It was looking off into the dark trees, buzzing intently.

Maddie punched its hard carapace. Her hand hurt, and the bug barely even seemed to notice.

"Dammit Beedrill! I caught you, and that means you do what I tell you to! Now go-"

A shot rang out and Beedrill fell to the ground. There was a bullet hole in its thorax, with yellow bug blood oozing out.

Maddie screamed and dove to the ground behind a sand bank.

Beedrill was still alive. It scanned the trees with its impassive red eyes. Its mandibles worked busily and its wings flitted weakly. Suddenly, it spat. For a brief moment, Maddie could see a small pin shaped projectile blur past into the shadowy green, and an agonized cry came out from the woods.

A Blackshirt stumbled out of the woods. The pin needle was sticking from his arm, spilling blood down his shirt. The rifle clattered out of his hands, and he drew a pistol with his good arm.

"Damn bug!" He raised the gun and fired.

Beedrill was too quick for him. In the blink of an eye, it had gone from lying on the ground, seemingly wounded, to standing upright, and took to the air as the bullet impacted the sand. Beedrill arced up and over the Blackshirt, who tried to turn around and fire again. Beedrill's arm slapped the gun away, and it discharged harmlessly into the undergrowth. It raised its other arm, ready to strike.

Maddie cried out. "No! Beedrill, don't-"

The spear arm impaled the man as easily as if he had been made of paper. He was dead before he could even scream.

Maddie was no stranger to death. You didn't live in the valley for eighteen years without somebody dying in a farm accident, or some boy going off to capture his first creature and not coming back. One of her sharpest memories was watching the men bury her mother and her newborn brother on the same day. Death was just something you dealt with.

But not like this, so sudden, so brutal. To actually see the life go out of a man in a single stroke, that was something different.

Beedrill yanked its arm from his chest and watched the man collapse to the ground. Its arm was coated red.

Her Pokémon. He'd been killed by her Pokémon.

Beedrill hadn't done anything wrong. The Blackshirt had shot it, it was just defending itself. It was defending her. That bastard had it coming.

Maddie knew all this, but she couldn't help but feel like she had been part of a murder.

Something cold and metal was pressed to the back of her head. "Tell that thing to stay right there."

Beedrill had taken notice. It's wings blurred as it prepared to charge in.

"Tell that damn thing not to move," the new Blackshirt said, "or I blow a hole through your pretty little head."

With some effort, Maddie was able to find her voice. It came out shaky and quavering. "B-Beedrill. Stand down. Stay where you are and don't move."

The man's body lay in the sand. His blood was beginning to seep into the river. How did it feel to die like that? Maddie began to shake. She was not going to cry. She wasn't going to give this man the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

"Good girl." The other Blackshirt said, "Now turn around."

Maddie spun slowly and found herself face to face with the barrel of a revolver.

"Give me the pokeball." He said.

Maddie reached into her bag and brought it out. Her shaking hands fumbled the ball and dropped it.

The Blackshirt clubbed her with the revolver. "Pick it up!"

She knelt to the ground. Her fingers closed around the sand. She picked up the ball and stood.

"Hand it over now."

Maddie held out her hand. The Blackshirt reached for it. The barrel of his gun pointed away for just a split second.

Suddenly, Maddie flung her handful of sand into the man's face and ducked as he fired blindly.

"Bloody hell!" He shouted, covering his inflamed eyes. Maddie slammed her knee between his legs and he doubled over and fell to the ground. She kicked him again in the face, and his screams stopped as he fell into unconsciousness.

Maddie pointed the pokeball at Beedrill and recalled it. She to ground and sat there, hands over her face and breathing heavily in and out. Then she threw up.

No, there wasn't time for this. Dust was still out there.

She stood up, brushed the sand off her dress, and started back into the trees.

Dust practically felt the bullet pass through his hair before it hit the tree trunk in front of him. That had been too close.

The hunters were closer than he had realized, and he'd barely had time to catch his breath after the hyenas had left before he was running for his life again. Dust was fast, but Cyril was fast too. He came crashing through the bushes like a rhino.

"Get back here!" He shouted. Dust briefly wondered if in the entire history of civilization, yelling 'Get back here!' had ever actually worked.

Cyril aimed his gun and fired again, but he'd run out of bullets. Without slowing down in the slightest, he picked a rock off the ground and hurled it.

The rock hit Dust in the back of the head, sending him crashing to the ground face first. He scrambled to his feet, head swimming. Cyril plowed into him, but Dust was able to keep his balance and avoid the Blackshirt's powerful arms.

Both of them drew their knives.

Cyril smiled. "You're a gutsy little bastard, I'll give you that. A little temper control and you might've made a good Blackshirt."

Dust backed away. He was tall and he was strong. You don't live your whole life working on a farm and not become strong. Dust was built like a Tauros, and he had a right hook that could floor a Machoke.

Dust was an ox, but Cyril was a trained killer, and Dust didn't know the first thing about knife fighting.

He threw the knife at Cyril, who dove to the side and rolled back to his feet.

Cyril's grin grew even wider. "Wrong choice, son. You got no weapon now."

"I know. I just needed to distract you while I pulled this out." Dust flicked out his hand and a blast of white light appeared between them.

Cyril was a highly trained fighter, but even the greatest martial artist in the world would have trouble if a big mouthed Totodile suddenly materialized on his face. Dust kicked him in the shins and sent him sprawling to the ground. He pulled his knife out of the tree it had imbedded in.

"Totodile, you can get off him now."

A crocodile's jaws were powerful enough to crush a man's head in a single chomp. Luckily for Cyril, Totodile hadn't hit him mouth first. He lay groaning, a bruise the size of a crocodilian skull on his face.

More Blackshirts were coming. Dust could hear them. He lifted Totodile onto his shoulders and took off, right as Ashton from around a tree. The tiny Pichu rested on his shoulder.

"'Ello, chummy."

Dust jumped back as Ashton swung his cane, missing him entirely.

"Totodile, water gun!"

The jet of water made the Baron's son stagger back into a tree. He opened his eyes just in time to see Dust's fist collide with his face.

Dust ran in the other direction and almost crashed into Maddie. She looked like she was in a daze.

"What are you doing back here?" He said.

"I was looking for you."

"We have to go right now." He grabbed her by the arm and took off, practically dragging her behind him.

"Pichu, shock wave!"

Electricity coursed through Dust's body. He fell over, twitching. Maddie lay next to him. Her hair had smoke coming from it. She groaned weakly. Totodile wasn't moving.

Dust's body wouldn't listen to him. His limbs were stiff, and his mouth tasted like copper. His fingers weakly grasped the pokeball with blue lights, and he recalled Totodile.

He was beginning to regain control of his body. He got back up on his knees. Then, with much more effort than he was comfortable with, got to his feet.

Blackshirts were coming from almost every direction.

He took Maddie's arms and pulled her up. She leaned against him.

"Can you stand?" he said.

"I think so."

There was a half circle of men and dogs around them, all pointing guns and baring fangs. Dust moved himself in front of Maddie while she kept her arms around him for support.

"Is this the end?" She said.

Ashton's voice came from the back of the crowd. "Hold yer fire! Hold yer bloody fire!" He pushed his way to the front. "Put yer guns down!"

He grabbed a revolver from the nearest Blackshirt.

"Good evenin', guv." He said. "Gotta say, Dust, ye led me on good chase. Tha' thing wi' the Poochyenas, don' know 'ow ye pulled tha' one off. Bloody beastmaster right 'ere. Now, if ye'd jus' hand over the girl, we'll be on our way back."

Maddie gripped him tighter.

"That's not gonna happen." Dust said.

"Will ye look at this?" Ashton said, "Real tough guy right 'ere!" The men all laughed. He pointed the gun at Dust's chest. "'Ere's 'ow these things work. Me, bein' the bleedin' nob tha' I am, tell you ta do somethin', and you, bein' the lowborn scumsucker ye are, do it. This ain't a negotiation."

"I'm not letting you just take her."

"Tell ye what, I promise ta you that if she comes over here, neither me nor these fine gentlemen lay a finger on 'er, gentlemen's honor. I shoot ye dead, and we go back, and she don' have to get inconvenienced on the way back. Or, we shoot ye dead anyway, an' then we have some fun wit' the little lady. How do ye wanna die Dust, a bleedin' hero or a bleedin' idiot?"

It was at that moment that Maddie had a very stupid idea. She took Dust's knife and pulled it out. Then she stepped out from behind him.

"What the 'ell is she doin'?" Ashton said.

"You need me alive, don't you?" She said.

"Maddie, get behind me."

"Dust, shut up." She said. She stood in front of him. "You need me. Your men could have killed me down by the river but they didn't, even after my Pokémon killed one of them. That's why you don't just shoot now, because you don't want to hit me."

"I don't care abou' you." Ashton said, "Yer jus' another common *****. There's more where you came from."

Maddie raised the knife to her throat. "Then it doesn't matter if I die right here then, does it?" She pressed the knife in.

Ashton held up his hands. "Wait!"

Maddie pulled the knife away. A thin trickle of blood ran down her neck.

Dust had no idea what to do. He'd never heard of anyone taking herself hostage before.

"If I go with you, will you let him live? He'll run off. He'll never come back. Nobody but us will ever know he's still alive."

Ashton seemed to consider this. "Alright, luv. I won' hurt 'im."

"And none of your men or your Pokémon will hurt him either." Maddie said quickly.

Ashton chuckled. "She's a smart little pig*****, ain't she? You come over 'ere, an' he walks free. Honor o' a noble. A nob never breaks 'is word, 'specially to a woman. Don' reflect too well on our family name if we go breakin' our word, right?"

Maddie turned around and threw her arms around Dust. She slipped Beedrill's pokeball into his hand. "You're not dying for me, Dust. Not now, not ever."

"Yer breakin' me 'eart, Maddie." Ashton said behind her. "Get over 'ere."

Maddie leaned up and kissed Dust. "Don't try to come back and save me. I need you to live."

She turned around and went to Ashton. He grabbed her arm and pulled her into him. He held her with one arm across her chest.

"Truth is, I did need 'er alive." He said, "Wouldn't look too good if I came back wit'out 'er. Don' go to well wi' the usual story o' things. Lowborn dung eater like you falls in love wi' a beautiful girl, but she don' take well ta 'im on account o' being a 'forementioned dung eater. So 'e goes an' kidnaps the fair maiden wi' this big 'orrible reptilian monster an' carries 'er off into the woods full o' bugs an' beasties. Then the noble an, dare I say rather han'some hero braves the dangers o' the forest, kills the dirty bastard and brings back the beautiful girl. Timeless, innit? Got all the great characters, the villain an' 'is big 'orrible reptilian monster, bein' o' course you an' yer croc, we got the beautiful damsel in distress," Maddie squirmed as he ran a line of kisses down her neck, "an o' course we got the rich an' dashin' hero in me."

"Noblesse Oblige, right?" Dust said bitterly.

"Noblesse Oblige." Ashton said, "Wouldn' be such a great story if the damsel goes an' cuts 'er own neck now, is it?"

"You don't actually think anyone will believe that insane story do you?" Dust said.

"Don' matter what they believe. What matters is tha' they don' say anythin' otherwise on accoun' o' not wantin' their 'eads kicked in. An' as long as the 'elpless little girl is safe, it don' really matter what 'appens to you. Tha' Dust was always a bit o' a hothead, wasn' he? Should o' kept 'is 'ead down. 'Ventually, no one even talks abou' ye anymore. But if somethin' 'appens to sweet little defenseless Maddie, then we 'ave an upset community, an' an upset community means trouble. An' if sweet little Maddie says somethin' along the lines o', I don' know, Ashton shot Dust dead, well then no one's gonna make an issue o' it, cause she's jus' confused an' scared from 'er ordeal, an' no one wants ta be taken away an' have their 'ouse burned down after they accuse a nob o' murder, now do they?" He pointed the gun at Dust. "I think the bes' part o' any story is the bit where the hero kills the bad guy."

Maddie pulled Ashton's arm up and bit down on it. She grabbed the hand with the gun and pushed it down. Ashton fired, and the bullet hit the ground at Dust's feet.

Dust didn't have to wait to be told what to do; he turned and sprinted off before anyone could react.

The Blackshirts all raised their weapons.

"No!" Ashton yelled. "I 'ave a better idea." He turned to Maddie. "You got a little spunk in ye, don' you." He backhanded her across the face. "I hate a girl with spunk."

"You said you wouldn't kill him." Maddie said.

"Did I now?" Ashton laughed, "Mind like a bloody sieve." He pulled a pokeball off his belt and released the eight foot Rhyhorn his father had used during the Egg Festival. "Kill the twerp an' come back 'ere when you're done."

Dust pounded along the Cliffside over the river.

If Cyril had been like a rhino crashing through the bushes, then the actual rhino was like a locomotive.

Dust had spent the last couple hours running from things that wanted to kill him, but this was the worst of them all. While Dust ran around and over the small trees and bushes, the Ryhorn ran right through them, snapping small trunks like toothpicks. It was faster than him too. Dust had had a head start of almost a minute and the rhino was almost on top of him.

Totodile was either unconscious or dead, Poochyena was missing, and neither of them would have been of any use anyway. He had exactly one Pokémon that he could use, and it had a murderous hatred of him.

Oh well. Probable death was better than certain death. He threw the Pokeball at the ground and jumped into the air, landing on Beedrill's back as it appeared and wrapped his arms tight around it.

"Fly you bastard!"

Beedrill flailed and tried to throw him off, but Dust held on tight. The insect turned around and saw Rhyhorn bearing down on it, and shot straight upward, spinning in a tight circle. Dust lost his grip and flew into the branches of one of the larger trees. He pulled himself up and came face to face with Beedrill.

The bug had its needle arm poised to strike, but it didn't impale him. The needlepoint wavered; Beedrill shook its head as if trying to shake off a notion.

"That's right." Dust said, "You aren't allowed to kill me, are you?"

The tree shook. Ryhorn was down below, ramming the base of the trunk. But this was a strong tree. Even that monster would have trouble bringing it down.

Dust hoped so.

The tree shook even harder. Beedrill took off.

"Oh, no you don't." Dust aimed the pokeball and fired the red beam, bringing Beedrill back into the ball.

CRACK!

The tree began to fall. Dust could see the ground coming, and then disappear as he went over the cliff. The trunk slammed into the earth, and Dust was thrown out of the branches and fell into the white water below.

Rotomknight
19th September 2012, 12:56 PM
Evil Cliff hanger!
liked th bit about get back here never worked.

An Enemy Spy
19th September 2012, 8:40 PM
Evil Cliff hanger!
liked th bit about get back here never worked.

I stole that joke from Order of the Stick. Although I've always thought it was wierd thing to yell at someone who's runing away from you.

andresballer03
20th September 2012, 12:56 AM
this is fantastic dude. keep it up.

An Enemy Spy
22nd September 2012, 9:54 PM
Chapter XIII: Picking Up

When Dust came to, something warm and wet and furry was licking his face. Groaning, he opened his eyes. Poochyena was standing over him, her muzzle in his face.

Dust pushed her aside softly and sat up. He was on the bank of the river among the hard stones. He was at the precipice of a large waterfall. It was daylight now. Dust must have been lying there all night. He vaguely recalled what had happened. The Rhyhorn had knocked over the tree and he'd tumbled into the river. He was thrown around, battered by rocks, almost drowned several times, and had managed to pull himself on shore before he fell off the waterfall. He'd crawled, gasping and dizzy across the rocks before collapsing from exhaustion.

His head was swimming. Dust could only barely remember anything that had occurred before his drop into the water. His head hurt just thinking about it.

There had been barking, and running, and two horrible yellow eyes, and the smell of smoke and sweat and terror and he'd been with Maddie and…

Oh no.

Dust sprang to his feet and stumbled across the loose stones. He slipped and scraped his leg. The pain in his body was unbearable but he pressed on.

He had to go back. He couldn't leave her with them.

The only way up was the cliff. Dust dug his fingers into the side of the dirt wall and tried to climb up its sheer surface but the soil just came loose and he slid back down. He tried again and again but each time he just fell back down in a shower of dirt. He tried to get Beedrill to take him to the top, but it just glared at Dust and wouldn't let him near.

He attacked the cliff with renewed vigor, scathing and digging at the dirt, trying to gain a handhold, and eventually just pounding at the wall and screaming.

Dust sat down beside the river and sobbed uncontrollably. Why was this happening to him? What had he done to deserve this? Ashton should have been the one down here, but as always, the nobles got what they wanted and the regular folk had to pay for it.

If he could go back, he could…

What? What could he do? He was one person against a small army of trained killers and fire breathing hounds, armed only with a knife, and whose allies included an unconscious baby Totodile and a Beedrill that wanted him dead, and even if he could use all his Pokémon, they wouldn't be enough to help anyway.

He was helpless; completely, utterly, and pathetically without any way to do anything at all.

Maddie was still alive, Dust knew that. Ashton had said himself that killing her wouldn't do any good. And if Dust tried to go back for her, the Blackshirts would just kill him anyway. And that was assuming he even knew how to get back. Dust had no idea where the river had taken him, or even if it was the same river that ran through the valley or another one.

All he could do was get away. Away from these mountains, away from this valley and away from Maddie.

'I need you to live' she'd said. Well, Dust was going to have to live, even if he hated himself for it. He had to get out of these mountains and then… who knew? Dust didn't have a clue what waited on the other side of the mountains.

Less than a week ago, Dust would have given anything to be able to get out of the valley, but now that he actually was, he wished that he could go back and plant rabutas and feed cattle and never ever see what was on the other side of those mountains as long as he didn't have to be alone.

And now he was alone for the first time in his life.

Dust stood up and headed off in the direction he thought was away from home.

An Enemy Spy
22nd September 2012, 9:56 PM
Chapter XIV: Espa

Can you hear me? Can you understand me? It's been so long now; I can barely remember what it's like to see another person.

It's dark in here; cold and lonely, like the space between stars. I don't know how long it's been. Days, years, centuries go by and I have no knowledge of them. This place is my world now, and time is meaningless here.

I can feel the monster outside. It's searching, always searching for a way to get in, to exterminate me. I can hold it off as I have always held it off, but I'm getting weak now. I don't know if I can hold it off forever.

It wasn't always like this. There was warmth once. There was sunlight, and cool breezes and the sound of birds and laughter. I was like you once, but that was a very long time ago, and I was only a child then. It feels more like a dream now than anything.

I have not thought about those days in a very long time.

My name is Espa.

Or, at least it was Espa. I don't know if that name still applies to me. I was her a long time ago, or at least, I remember being her. Things are different now.

Time has become a blur. A month, a decade, a thousand years, I can't distinguish them anymore. Everything that has happened in this place is unclear, distorted, but I can remember back then like it's happening right now.

I relive those days when I can, going over my life and wondering, could things have been different? My father once spoke of an infinite series of alternate realities, each one the result of the most seemingly insignificant alterations of events. In all those countless iterations of my life, there has to be one where I, her, we lived a normal, happy life, free of fear and pain and sadness.

But that never could have happened here. If ever there was a reality where everything went wrong, it was this one. Even if what occurred had never come to pass, Espa would have almost certainly died in a poison gas attack, or a nuclear strike, or been swallowed up by the sea, or been captured and sacrificed to the dark energy. Or worse, she could have survived and have had to live in the world that followed the calamity. No, there was no hope for her. There was no hope for me.

I hope whatever happened to Espa, she was allowed to die. She deserves the peace that this world never allowed her to have.

There was a time before all that pain though. I think I'll go back to those days for now.

My childhood was a perfect one. I lived with my mother in our little house with a little yard on a little street outside the city. I loved her more than anything in the world, and she loved me too. Her emotions were like soft sand, warm and comforting and safe. Looking back, I think that's what I remember most about my mother, how safe I felt with her.

I remember every detail about her, her hair, the same perfume she wore every day, how she cut nanab sandwiches into four pieces every time so they'd be small enough for me to eat without getting the jelly on my face, and I remember the way she always sang the same sad song to me when she tucked me into bed. She was beautiful to me. I wanted to be exactly like her when I grew up. Yet, in spite of all this, I can't remember her name. It's always something that made me sad.

Even now, I don't know if she was actually my biological mother or not. Whoever it was that birthed me, I will always think of her as my real mother. She is one of the only people from who I have ever sensed true affection.

I hope whenever she died, it was in peace.

At the time, I never realized how unusual it was that I could feel other people's emotions. When I came to see that I was unique in this way, I asked my mother why. She smiled and told me that it was because I was meant for something special. When I asked her what that was, she just said that I would have to find that out on my own, that everyone makes their own purpose, and then she kissed me and told me to go play. I could feel her sadness when she said this, but I didn't think much of it at the time.

She had no job, no husband, and no visible means of supporting herself. Yet, we always lived in comfort, and we were always together. Had I been older, I would have found this odd. But I was a little girl back then, and I was wrapped in my own world.

There was park in the city that we would go to almost every day. I could always remember this place distinctly; it had a yellow slide and one of those animals on springs for children to ride on. I always rode on the one shaped like a Lanturn while my mother pretended to be a Sharpedo chasing me.

In retrospect, I realize now that this part of my life was never really free, and that my mother was only another piece of the system I have spent my entire existence trapped in. I wasn't taken into this life, I was born into it.

I was seven years old when the black car came. Some men came to the door and my mother talked to them for a few minutes, and then she came to get me. Her misery washed over me like a tsunami. It was overpowering, and I began to cry even though I had no idea what was happening yet.

He held me tight and kissed me and told me I had to go with the men. I asked how long I'd be away but she didn't answer. I could tell she was trying to keep a brave face, but she was barely managing not to collapse into sobbing. She kept saying I had to go now, but she wouldn't let go of me.

Finally one of the men had to pull her off me and she lost all composure, screaming and crying and calling after me as I was led to the car. She told me she would see me soon as I left with the men.

I never saw her again.

I don't sleep anymore, but sometimes I imagine that she's here with me, and her soft singing is like a dream I don't want to wake up from. But dreams don't last forever, and I can feel the monster clawing outside, trying to find a way through my defense.

I have to go now, before it's too late.

An Enemy Spy
21st January 2013, 10:23 PM
Chapter XV: Storm Rider and Sun Bringer

Loose rocks slid under Dust's feet as he climbed up the slope. He stuck his hand out for balance and stumbled on forward. Three days and nights of this had gone by, trudging along alone through increasingly steep and rugged terrain, barely eating or sleeping. Dust could barely stand from exhaustion, but he didn't care anymore. He was like a corpse now, just taking one step after another, not thinking about where he was going, just walking until he either got to the other side of the indomitable mountains before him or he fell into a ravine.

The ground gave away and he slid down several feet and landed face down in the dirt. He groaned wretchedly and tried to stand, but he didn't have the strength to get up. And he couldn't find the willpower to even care. This was what he deserved, to die alone like the coward he was in the peaks that had served as his world's boundaries, with only the scavenging birds to know of his fate.

So he lay there, face in the dirt and bereft of all hope.

The sun set over the world, and Dust was left in darkness.

When he woke, the air was cold and silent. A heavy wind rushed over Dust. A raindrop plinked on the back of his head, and then another.

Dust opened his eyes, and with much effort, rolled over on his back. A cover of grey storm clouds was swiftly advancing across the morning sky, heavy with rain. Dust sat up, wincing from the strain. The wind was swirling around, cold and crisp up on the mountainside.

A dark shape moved inside the storm cloud. Its features were completely obscured by the grey haze, but Dust could make out massive wings beating hard. Suddenly the shape dived down, straight at him.

A great bird emerged from the storm cloud, white and fearsome with massive wings that beat furiously, pummeling Dust with their wind power. The bird swooped up, barely twenty feet above him, and climbed upwards. Its sharp cry rang out, echoing across the snow peaked mountains, seeming to reverberate across the whole world; loud and shrill and beautiful.

Dust ran after it as it soared away. His whole body felt rejuvenated, like the last several days of hardship had simply rolled off his aching muscled and exhausted spirit. He pounded up the slope, not slowing as the stones slid under his feet, not feeling the pain as he slashed his hand on a sharp rock while steadying himself for balance. Everything in the world had disappeared, and now it was just him and this great white bird, and he felt, with not actually knowing why, that he had to follow it.

He ran up the slope, higher and higher until, suddenly, there was no slope anymore. Dust tried to regain his balance before he almost tumbled down the other side of the small mountain.

He'd reached the top.

He looked out at the land in front of him. He hadn't expected the world outside the valley to look like this at all. Beyond the small foothills at the mountains' base, flat plains stretched out in every direction, brown and barren, the only trees being small scraggly things sparsely spread out along the bank of the river that twisted through the dusty land. It was desolate, but strangely beautiful too.

The white bird soared over the wasteland. It shrieked over the plain, high and shrill lonely. The storm clouds followed it, spreading out until the whole sky was grey.

Looking at it now, with its serpentine neck and long powerful tail trailing behind, Dust thought that the creature looked less like a bird than like a dragon.

It circled out over the dusty plain far off in the distance now, when the storm cloud above split open in a burst of brilliant golden light that forced Dust to shield his eyes. Bright colored rays of light illuminated the overcast sky, creating a dazzling rainbow that cascaded from the breach in the clouds and hung over the landscape.

Through the hole of sunlight came another bird, this one with feathers of gold and red from which beams of sunlight and rainbows radiated brilliantly. The golden bird swooped down at the white one, which rose up to meet it.

Was Dust about to witness a battle between these two aerial beasts?

The birds rushed past each other at high speed, and then turned to circle one another. Just when Dust thought they would soon begin to fight, they both rose into the air, side by side, and disappeared up into the cloud cover above.

And then it was all gone. The storm clouds dissipated, the rainbows disappeared, and the two birds were nowhere to be seen. The sun was still shining, but it less brilliant, and now just more hot and oppressive.

He could feel the weariness returning to his body, and the pain of his injuries coming back. Whatever spell the white storm bird had cast over him was gone now.

Dust sighed and began his journey down the treacherous mountainside.

An Enemy Spy
23rd January 2013, 3:59 AM
Chapter XVI: Samaritan

After three days Dust was out of the mountains. Three days after that and he was well out onto the plains going along the river.

It's water was red and muddy and foul tasting, but it was the only water he had left at this point. What food he had that wasn't destroyed when he fell into the river earlier had run out days ago, and outside a couple of awful tasting Barboach he had managed to catch in the river, there wasn't much to eat. Poochyena caught the occasional Bunearies and one night, an Ekans, but once divided between the two of them they didn't count for much. Poochyena was a much better forest hunter, where she could hide and stalk her prey, and there was no chance of her taking down any large game without the help of a pack.

It was hot too. All the clouds seemed to stop at the mountains behind him, leaving little cover from the sun. Dust doubted that it rained here very often. There didn't seem to any vegetation beyond bits of sagebrush and the occasional scraggly tree.

One day, Dust was fishing using a bit of string tied to a stick with a little Stunfisk he'd managed to find on the end of it. It hadn't taken him long to learn that the flat little fishes could deliver a nasty jolt of electricity when you tried to eat them, but the Barboaches that ate them seemed to be immune to it, making the Stunfisk good bait for catching them.

Dust noticed a small yellow shape behind a rock on the other side of the river. He peered around the rock and saw a small yellow fox looking at him. Well, maybe 'looking' wasn't the right word seeing as how its eyes were closed, but somehow, Dust couldn't shake the feeling that it was watching him intently. It must have been some creature he hadn't seen yet. Dust considered having Poochyena go after it, but then a Barboach suddenly yanked on the line and Dust lost interest in the fox.

The next day he was walking along when he saw it sitting up in the branches of one of the river trees. It was probably a different one, Dust told himself, but it seemed to be looking at him through those tightly shut eyes as well.

Dust stared at it. It stared back. And then it was gone.

Dust had to take a step back. The fox hadn't just simply left; it had actually disappeared, vanishing completely into the air. Dust looked around, wondering if it had reappeared somewhere else, but there was no sign of it.

A couple days later and the fox hadn't shown up again.

One thing that was very different about the plains was that you could see everything in every direction. Dust was used to the world having defined boundaries, a dark forest with tall mountains behind it, but here the only boundary was the horizon. It was freeing in a way, but also disconcerting. Dust felt exposed out here, like if anything dangerous saw him, there was no way to hide and certainly no way to run.

Dust had heard the stories of the Zoroarks that stalked the plains at night, hulking bipedal wolf creatures who hungered for human flesh and could easily outrun even the fastest man.

As tough and mean as Poochyena was, he doubted she could protect him from any Pokémon much bigger than herself, and trying to use Beedrill in defense could possibly result in two dangerous creatures trying to kill him. Beedrill was under orders from Maddie not to harm him, but Dust didn't trust that to keep him safe. Beedrill was strong minded; it might be able to disobey orders if it really wanted to.

So when Dust saw three dark figures in the distance, he was apprehensive. They clearly saw him too, because they began to move in his direction.

It didn't take long for Dust to realize they were humans, not horrific man eating wolf monsters, so he waved to them, and they waved back. He recalled Poochyena to her ball. The last thing he needed during his first encounter with another person in almost two weeks was an overaggressive hyena attacking them. It took a couple hours for them to finally reach him.

The men were not very tall, certainly not bigger than Dust, and they looked like burlap sacks that had been left out in the baking sun, their skin dry and cracked. They wore wide brimmed hats that were beaten up after what appeared to be centuries of hard living.

They regarded him with friendly smiles.

Of them approached with his arms open. "Howdy, stranger. What brings you to these parts?" he said cordially.

"I'm from the mountains." Dust said, "I've been following the river looking for civilization."

"What's your name?" The one on the right said. They had formed a loose triangle around him, appraising him from all sides.

"Dust." He replied.

The one in front hooted in laughter. "Well I'll be! Ain't never heard a name like that before! A man named Dust, walking through a dusty place like this covered in dust. Hell, you even got dust on your head." He said, pointing at Dust's sandy brown hair.

If Dust had been looking, he would have seen a small yellow fox vanish into the air several dozen yards behind him.

"Look," said Dust, "I lost most my food when I got pushed into river back in the mountains. I've been living off those nasty river fish since then. Do you have anything to spare, or maybe directions to the nearest town?"

"Yeah, I think Goldilocks has some food he can give ya."

The man on the left approached. "They call me Goldilocks on account of my hair color, you see."

Whatever Goldilocks's hair had been before, it was a dirty shade of sunbaked brown now. Dust imagined that that any color these men had been before had been sunburned off years ago.

"Just let me look in my bag for a moment. " Goldilocks said, rummaging through his sack. "Ah, here we go."

The knife was jammed into Dust's side so quickly he barely even realized he'd been stabbed before he fell over. Goldilocks and the man who had been on his right immediately started searching him.

"He was right." Goldilocks said, looking through Dust's sack, there isn't anything in here but a water skin."

"Looks like he's got three used pokeballs." said the other one, looking at his belt. "Dark, water, and some kind of poison bug. This knife he's got is a beauty too."

Dust tried to stagger weakly to his feet and was rewarded with a punch to the face. He groaned. His body was on fire. The knife he'd been stabbed with had poison on it, and he was starting to see double now.

"A water type will be useful out here." The leader said, "We don't need the other two."

"This wanker's a waste of our time." Goldilocks said. "Should I just kill him?"

"Don't worry about him." The leader said, "That Swalot poison will have him out for a while and he's not going anywhere with that knife wound. Leave him here. The Zoruas will take care of him."

There was a pop behind them. A thin, lithe girl had come from seemingly nowhere. She had jet black hair under a blue hat topped with white flowers and a fine blue dress that suggested he was of a wealthy disposition. In her arms, the yellow fox lay asleep.

"Leave him alone." She said.

The leader of the bandits rounded on her. "Just what the Sam hell is this?" he demanded.

"Now what kind of language is that to use in front of a lady?" She said, "Leave him alone right now. I won't ask again."

"You won't ask again?" The leader chuckled, and broke into loud whooping laughter. "You won't ask again? A slip of a girl like you?"

She drew herself up to her full height, which was a little bit less than his shoulder. "Women of my family are used to having people listen when we command something."

"Look Missy, you may be someone important back in whatever cushy mansion you live in, but out here you're just a girl in an expensive outfit. This is our desert, and we don't like women telling us what to do."

"It's been a long time since we came by a woman." Goldilocks said. "Remember that last one? She came by almost a year ago in a stagecoach. Rich girl like you, lots of jewels. She was a screamer too. I love it when they scream."

They all took a step toward her. She held out the yellow fox defensively.

"You must be joking." The leader said, "Abras ain't dangerous. Everyone knows that. The only thing that thing can do is disappear. Bloody useless."

He reached out to grab her. The girl shouted something in another language and the Abra's eyes suddenly opened, pink and small and unused to the harsh sunlight. The bandit stared at it in horror, a low whimper escaping his lips. Then, he fell back screaming, writhing in the dust.

"Not entirely useless, I should think." The girl said.

She stepped toward the other two. This time they were the ones who backed away.

"What did that thing just do?" Goldilocks asked, panicked.

"It's called a Psyshock. It creates a feeling of intense pain, eventually leaving you in a completely catatonic state, sometimes leading to incurable insanity or even death. The effect is of course, completely psychosomatic but the results are quite real."

"Uh," the other bandit said, "What exactly does psychosomatic mean?"

The girl looked at him pleasantly. "Would you like to find out?" she said, holding up the Abra.

Both bandits turned and ran.

The girl rushed to Dust's side, kneeling down. "Are you still alive?" She sounded worried.

Dust groaned. "I think so." His head swam. He couldn't think straight.

"You were stabbed with a poisoned blade." She said, "These plains are crawling with bandits. You're lucky Yoko found you." She reached into her handbag and pulled out a vial. "Drink this. It will slow the poison until we can get you an actual antidote. Dust reached for the vial and missed. He could barely control his own arms.

The girl pressed the vial between his lips and poured the fluid in. It tasted bitter, but Dust swallowed without complaint.

"Why are you helping me?" he asked, but the girl placed a satin gloved finger over his mouth.

"No words." She removed her gloves and pulled out a bottle. She dipped her finger inside and came up with a big yellow glob on the end of it. "Tell me if this hurts."

She spread it over his knife wound. Dust cried out. It felt like the wound had been touched by a hot iron!

"I'm sorry." The girl said. "It's a potion meant for Pokémon. They have a higher pain threshold than we do and they heal faster. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to fight the way they do. The potion is meant to close up the wound until the Pokémon can heal naturally. I don't know how long it will last on you."

She put her gloves back on and held him by the shoulders. "You should be able to stand, at least for now."

Dust grunted and rose to his feet with some help from the girl. She pulled his arm over her narrow shoulders and placed a hand on his back. "Yoko, take us back."

The Abra clung to her leg, and suddenly they were somewhere else. A group of men stood around a fancy stagecoach tied to four large horses with manes and tails made of dancing flames. Dust wondered why they didn't set their harnesses on fire.

A barrel chested man in a bright blue uniform with gold trim and a revolver in his holster came forward, an exasperated look on his face.

"Lady Blackmoor, you know we hate it when you disappear like that. Your father appointed me and my men specifically for your protection. It isn't safe out in the wastes for a lady. What am I supposed to tell your father if you go missing?"

"I'm perfectly safe, Mr. Wadsworth." She said. "I have Yoko with me don't I?"

"I hardly think that one Abra is adequate-"

"Wadsworth!" The girl said, suddenly authoritative. "I would love to carry on this conversation, but if you haven't noticed, this boy has been stabbed and needs to see a doctor right now, and he is really quite heavy, so are you going to argue with me or are you going to help me get him into the coach?"

Wadsworth and one of his men took Dust by the shoulders and carried him into the coach. The girl climbed in behind him and shut the door. The coach began to move.

"Don't worry about Wadsworth." She said, "He gets worried every time I'm not in eyeshot. What's your name?"

"Dust."

She looked at him quizzically. "Dust? That's an unusual name."

"So I've been told."

"It's just Dust?" She continued, "Not even a surname?"

"We don't have surnames where I come from." Dust answered, "At least, most of us don't. What's your name?"

"Amelia. Amelia Blackmoor, Baroness. You've been on my father's land for the last three days."

"Oh. A noble." Dust said bitterly.

"You don't like nobles?" Amelia said.

"I've had bad luck with them recently." Dust said.

Amelia took off her hat and placed it on the seat next to her. "I would love to hear about it."

Dust told her his story from the beginning. Amelia listened, intrigued. She gasped when he came to the part about the giant spider, and kept stopping to ask questions about Maddie, not all of them he felt comfortable answering.

When he told her about the two giant birds, her eyes lit up.

"You saw Lugia and Ho-Oh? Together?" She asked excitedly.

"Is that important?" Dust asked.

"It's rare just to see just one of them flying." She said. "But to see them both at the same time? That's almost unheard of!"

"I just assumed those birds were common out here. What's so special about seeing them?"

"What's special? Don't you realize what you witnessed?"

Dust shook his head.

"There's only one of each in the entire world. Lugia is the Storm Rider." Amelia said with wonder, "She brings the wind and the rain wherever she goes. Seeing her is an omen of hard times ahead. Ho-Oh is the Sun Bringer. He is a symbol of hope. If you see him, then you will have good luck."

"And what does it mean to see them at the same time?" Dust asked.

Amelia shrugged. "I don't know, probably nothing. It's really just an old superstition. Still I would give anything just for the chance to see one of those birds. I would have loved to be there with you."

Dust opened his mouth to answer, but found that he couldn't get any words out. He gasped at the air, the stab wound suddenly burning hot, much more painful even than when he had been stabbed in the first place. He convulsed violently and pitched forward, unconscious before he even hit the floor.

An Enemy Spy
21st February 2013, 7:15 AM
Chapter XVII: The Man Who Came to Dinner

When he awoke, he was lying in an extravagant canopy bed with a feather mattress. The furnishings of the room around were equally opulent. There was a huge fireplace made of marble, with a mantelpiece covered in expensive looking vases from some far off and ancient land. From large portraits with gilded frames, men and women in almost absurdly fancy clothes looked down at him dispassionately. He looked under the sheets and saw that he was dressed in silk pajamas. Three weeks accumulation of dirt and sweat were gone. Somebody must have bathed him when he was out.

There was something in the bed with him, he realized. He looked under the sheet and saw Totodile curled beside him, peacefully asleep. He lay back and let out a sigh. He'd missed the little croc. Poochyena just wasn't as good company.

The door opened and an older man in a long white coat walked through. He had a stethoscope around his neck.

"What happened?" Dust asked.

"The poison you were stabbed with knocked you out." The doctor said. "Had Lady Blackmoor not given you that medicine, I believe you would have died two days ago."

"Two days? I've been here two days?"

"Three actually. You've slept like a log the whole time. Suffering from dehydration and a lot more injuries than just that stab wound. How long were you out in the wasteland?" the doctor asked.

"Too long." Dust said.

Amelia came in, wearing an elegant green dress that exposed her bare shoulders.

"Dust, you're awake!" She knelt down by the bed. "I was afraid I'd gotten here too late, but Doctor Trotsky says you'll make a full recovery."

Dust pulled Totodile out from under the sheets. "I see you got this little brat back to health."

"Oh, he was no problem at all. Twelve hours was he needed to recover from those electricity burns. He's very devoted to you. That's unusual for a reptile."

"He's been like that ever since I hatched him." Dust said.

"You bonded with him right after birth?" Amelia said, "That would explain it. To him, that makes you the most important thing in the world. I looked at your other Pokémon too. Your Poochyena is out by the stables hunting rats right now."

A feeling of horror washed over Dust. "You didn't release Beedrill did you?"

Amelia bit her lip. "That one was more difficult, but don't worry, I'm used to dealing with aggressive Pokémon. That one is mean even by Beedrill standards, but I've managed to work it down to a barely contained homicidal rage instead of an uncontrollable homicidal rage, which I must say is an improvement. It took two Machokes to keep it away from me when I first let it out."

Dust sat up, and grimaced from the sharp pain in his side.

"Your wound will continue to hurt for a few more days." The Doctor said. I suggest you get some more rest."

"I've been resting for three days." Dust complained.

"Then another day will hardly hurt, will it?" the doctor replied. "Your body is still weak from the poison, moving around will only tire you out."

To someone used to doing farm work from sunup to sundown, it didn't feel right to lie in bed all day. Still, he had Totodile to keep him company and Amelia visited every few hours, so he wasn't alone. The bed was also nice. Dust had spent his life sleeping on either a pile of straw or the rough ground every night, so a soft featherbed was like heaven. He also learned that there was a bell he could use that would signal a servant to bring him anything he wanted at any hour, but he didn't feel comfortable using it.

Dust had been unconscious when he'd been brought here, so he had no idea exactly where the mansion actually was. Of course, he'd never known much of what was outside the valley anyway. He'd once seen a map of the world when he was younger, but it had all seemed like some immaterial fantasy land. For people in the valley, most of the world was contained within the mountains around them, and all other places were part of the category of elsewhere. Dust was aware that there was the dry plains on the other end of the mountains, and he knew that there was a city nearby somewhere, but it may as well have been on another continent for all most people cared. The world at large was not a vital part of day to day life, and therefore was unimportant.

Now Dust was out in that world. It finally hit him right there. He'd been out of the valley for weeks now, but in the mountains he had been worried primarily with escaping, and out on the wasteland, he'd been focused on survival. Dust knew where he was coming from, but now he realized that he'd never thought of where he was going to.

What was he going to do now? A wave of despair washed over him. He was in a world utterly foreign to him, with no money and the only friend being an animal. Sure, he was currently resting on a feather mattress in a mansion full of food he didn't have to pay for, but that was only because he was hurt. It wasn't as if he'd be allowed to stay once he'd recovered. He doubted that the Blackmoors would be much of a help to him after he'd left. He wasn't part of their circle. He didn't have titles, prestige, or a memorized list of family members dating back to the Age of Kings. He was just some drifter from the wasteland who'd been poisoned and dragged into their house. In all probability, he'd be turned out the instant Doctor Trotsky said he was ready.

In the meantime though, at least there was a warm bed and good food.

That evening, Amelia invited Dust to eat dinner with the family. It was the first time he'd left the room. It was also a lesson about the differences between the upper class and people like him. Until then, Dust had never even heard of a dinner jacket, much less been able to tell why a certain kind of jacket had to worn to eat with. There was a selection of clothing in the wardrobe, and all of the ones he'd chosen were wrong, at least according to Jarvis, the sneering butler who critiqued his outfit in the condescending tones of those who are given even the slightest bit of power and want to exploit it to the fullest. Dust refused to let the man dress him, and came out again, this time wearing something only slightly less inappropriate in the butler's eyes, but Dust didn't care now.

Dinner itself was hardly better. After beginning to eat too soon, Dust not only held his fork wrong, but held the wrong fork. He put his elbows on the table, ate the fish and potatoes together, and basically broke all the unwritten rules of high society dining that nobody had ever taught him.

Back home, dinner was about feeding yourself because you didn't know if there would be food tomorrow. There were no rules about etiquette beyond the basic things like not spraying food on the table while you ate, and there was certainly no such thing as multiple courses. Dust had been surprised when the various servants standing motionlessly around the dining room suddenly removed his plate and brought on a whole new dish of food, which of course meant that now he had to use a different fork.

These rules, Dust suspected, were put in place with the intention of keeping normal people from ascending the social ladder. He certainly wouldn't be able to impersonate a gentleman with his table manners.

Lord and Lady Blackmoor and Amelia's plethora of younger siblings had done their best to be polite, but with each faux pas Dust committed, the air of disapproval grew thicker and thicker until Dust could practically feel the stares they were giving him boring into his skull. He avoided their gaze and stared down at the food in front of him, not eating it. Amelia hurriedly informed that this was also considered impolite.

Amelia was trying her best to keep him from feeling awkward, but it was obvious that he was embarrassing her. It was as if she had brought an untrained dog into the house and now had to pretend everything was alright even as it ruined the antique carpeting.

It wasn't long before the conversation had shifted away from Dust and he was left trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while the Blackmoors did their best to pretend he didn't exist.

"I had a chance encounter with Mr. Braxley, the owner of the sausage plant, today." Lord Blackmoor said, his Walrein moustache wobbling as he ate a spoonful of curry.

"And how is the old Wailmer?" Amelia replied. The other Blackmoor children stifled their laughter.

"Now Amelia, is that any way to talk?" Her mother chastised her.

"Why not?" Amelia said, "The man is as big around as the pigs he slaughters in those hellish pork factories of his. He has more chins than a hydra."

"He's an industrialist." Lord Blackmoor said, indignantly waving a piece of veal. "His plants can make more meat in a day than your average dirt farm can in a year. He is providing an invaluable service to society"

"I've read about the conditions of those places." Amelia said, "Full of blood and rats and dangerous machines. It's barbaric."

"It's the future." Her father proclaimed.

"The future," Amelia said strongly, "is barbaric."

"You should not be so dismissive of Mr. Braxley." Lady Blackmoor said. "After all, you may be related to him soon."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Amelia demanded.

"Before you interrupted," Lord Blackmoor began, "I was going to say that Mr. Braxley's son has expressed an interest in marrying you."

"Has he now?" Amelia huffed. "You may tell him that he can stuff his proposal into the orifice of his choice."

One of the maids giggled, and was quickly stifled by Lord Blackmoor's glare.

"Now, I would never force you into a marriage that you didn't desire, but at least consider him. The Braxleys are one of the largest and most influential families in the area."

"They certainly are large." Amelia muttered.

"It would be a boon if our two families were to be joined." Lord Blackmoor said. "After all, Evan Braxley is one of the most eligible bachelors in Ludlow."

"Evan Braxley is the most insufferable boor I have ever had the misfortune of meeting." Amelia stated. "I would sooner marry a Grimer."

"Amelia, you are nearly nineteen years old and still unmarried." Lady Blackmoor said, "I already had you when I was that age. If you didn't have such impossible standards…"

"There is a difference between impossible standards and not wanting to wed a complete and total oaf."

"It's just that this is the fifth suitor you've turned down this year."" Lord Blackmoor said.

"And all five of them were oafs." Amelia said.

"I am running out of prospects for you." He said, "You don't want a reputation of being unapproachable do you? Before long, all the good suitors will have moved on." The dishes were removed and another course was brought onto the table. "If you turn down every good man who comes along, pretty soon the only available husband will be someone like, well, him." He pointed at Dust. Dust tried to look invisible without much success. "The city gym is holding a challenge tomorrow. I want you to go there."

"You know I deplore the men who challenge those gyms. They're all a bunch of overconfident prigs."

"I am coming to believe that you simply deplore all men of every shape, creed, and color." Lord Blackmoor said. "Marriage isn't about liking someone. It's about connections. Those gym winners are the sons of powerful men."

"So whether or not I can stand being around the man I intend to spend my life with is of no consequence?" Amelia said.

"Marriage is a pragmatic thing." Lord Blackmoor said. "It isn't like the idealized romantic rubbish in novels. When you are married, then you can come to like the man you are with, perhaps you will even love him. But it is important that he is someone who will benefit you. Do you understand?"

"Yes." Amelia said, in a tone that meant anything but.

"Good." Her father said. "Now as I was saying before you interrupted, I had a chance encounter with Mr. Braxley today…"

The conversation trailed off down a long boring path that Dust didn't even attempt to follow, about business and politics and who said what about whom, culminating in an impassioned speech from Lord Blackmoor about the importance of knowing the proper cummerbund to wear to social occasions, an issue that Lord Blackmoor seemed to have strong feelings about.

When he finally came back to his guest room and began to change into sleeping attire. If Jarvis were watching, Dust mused, he would probably criticize the clothes that he was choosing to go to sleep in.

Totodile was asleep on the bed. Dust picked him up and moved him out of the way. He fished a couple pieces of veal out of his pocket and held them in front of the waking croc.

"I sneaked some of this up for you." He said, dropping the meat into Totodile's snapping jaws. "I'll tell you, Totodile. Being rich is harder than it looks." He plopped down on the soft feather mattress. "The beds are a lot nicer though, I'll say that about it." He closed his eyes and went to sleep.

And then opened them when something poked him in the chest.

Daylight was streaming through the windows. As Dust's senses came to him, he saw that the thing that had poked him was a folded up parasol. Further investigation revealed that it was being held by Amelia, who was wearing a green walking suit and a hat that a stuffed bird on top of it. The bird looked down at Dust with glassy eyes. He was transfixed by it.

"It's morning already?" He said.

"Yes." Said Amelia.

"And you're jabbing me with a parasol because…?"

"Because we are going to town today, and I wasn't going to wait until this evening for you to wake up."

"Right." Dust said, "And why are you taking me to town?"

"Because we are going to the Ludlow City Gym." She said. "Aren't you tired of staying here?"

Dust thought about spending another day in the Blackmoor house.

"Are we eating first?" He asked.

"Not here."

Dust smiled. "Great then. I'll just get dressed.

Dust took a long time to wash. He wasn't used to bathing more than once a week, and even then it was always in a cold river. Now that he could sit in warm water to clean, he was going to savor it.

As he dressed, Totodile splashed around in the tub. Dust had tried to wash him while he was still in the bath, but the croc had refused to go in the hot water. Apparently Totodiles preferred their water to be lukewarm, Dust reasoned, and probably full of muck and parasites too.

The wardrobe was full of the kinds of clothes that Dust would have loved to wear, but never could. He put on a sandy brown waistcoat over a white shirt and trousers to match. He looked at himself in the mirror. The word swanky was not a part of Dust's vocabulary, but if it was, that word would have sprung to mind.

He dried off Totodile with a towel and pulled on a jacket. He walked out into the hall. Amelia looked him over with a critical eye.

"Let's take a look at you. Hmm, your clothes actually look alright. A lot better than that ensemble you wore to dinner. I suppose you've seen what the upper class wears outside at least." She took his hand and held it up. "Haven't looked closely enough though. Your hand is calloused. It's obvious that you're a worker. Go put on some gloves. And a hat too, we're going to be out in public."

A few minutes later, Dust, now with a pair of brown leather gloves and a flat cap, and Amelia stepped into the coach pulled by the fiery horses.

"Why does it matter if I look like I'm working class?" Dust asked.

"I'm a daughter of a Baron, Dust. How would it look if I was seen strolling through the city hanging off the arm of a laborer?"

"You didn't lie about me before."

"Well, yes, but this is different. I brought you in because you were going to die. I was fulfilling my role as a hospitable host."

"And now you're embarrassed to be seen with someone below your class." Dust said.

Amelia sighed. "It's not that I'm embarrassed by you, Dust. It's just there are proper ways of doing things. Ladies like me don't cavort around with peasants. It isn't respectable to act on equal terms with the lower classes. My reputation would be damaged, and it would be even worse for you. They might say you were assaulting me and lock you up. Do you understand?"

Dust understood. He understood perfectly. He wondered if she did. No, of she didn't, how could she? She'd never been raised in a home with a thatched roof and a dirt floor, sleeping on straw and freezing in the winter. She'd never had to toil in the dirt to try to raise up enough crops to last until the next harvest, only to have a full half of her yield be taken away by the local baron in exchange for not having her farm burnt down and forced off her land. Never seen her family go hungry. Never been treated as a nobody, an embarrassment, a criminal, just because she wasn't born with the right last name.

"Yeah, I understand." Dust said.

"Good. Now, I was thinking that you could be from a well to do family in the country, since you know all about farming and rural life, and it would also help explain any social gaffes you make."

She did save his life though, Dust thought. She didn't have to do that. Ashton certainly wouldn't have done that. He doubted most nobles would have done that. Most commoners too, for that matter.

"Alright." He said, "I'll play along with you."

Dormant
21st February 2013, 11:18 AM
Hi! I'm from the Review Game!

I'll be reviewing Chapter IX

The scene where Ashton is abusing Maddie is very intense. It makes the readers to sympathize with Maddie, because this things sometimes happens in real life. The scene not only shows Dust's heroic personality, but it also shows how Ashton and his Bodyguard are painful Butt****.

The way you're writing this story is brilliant. It's as if you're a professional writer. This story is realistic as well, I mean this story seems to be like Pokemon in real life, only in a post-apocalyptic life that is. The Plot is well done and I like it. It's not an average Pokemon Fanfiction.

You describe things very thoroughly. It's like you imagine you're story in your mind, and just copy and paste it in writing form.

The characters are well made. I mean REALLY well made. We know that Dust is strong and has a good heart. We know he could get very impatient and stupid sometimes. But we most definitely know Dust cares a lot for Maddie. Also, The antagonists, Ashton and his evil father, Baron are a bunch of Butt****s.

The relationship between Dust and Maddie is great. It's like Dust would risk his life, just to make sure Maddie won't get hurt from the nasty Butt****s. And Maddie also cares for Dust a lot, so much she has to stay with evil Ashton. I really like the relationships in this story.

The story pace is quite okay. Meaning It's not very fast nor slow. It's like in the middle.

The dialogues in this story are always intriguing. It brings out the character's personality, And show why they're doing what they're doing.

I must say, I enjoy reading this story. It's a little hard to read because the descriptions are always glued with each sentence. But, this story is quite easy to understand because of the lack of spelling/grammar mistakes. I personally think this story needs more noticing. Because this story is awesome.

I hope this review is helpful(And not the opposite!)

So Dormant;429; signing off..

An Enemy Spy
6th March 2013, 9:01 PM
Chapter XVIII: The Ground Gym

Ludlow was a grey, smelly, smog belching patch on the dull drown plains. The carriage clattered down the cobbled road, going by all manner of different stands, fruit stands, hat stands, animal stands. Factories with massive smoke stacks poured black clouds into the blue sky, creating a dark atmosphere over the city. Beggars, prostitutes and thugs went about their daily business as the dour faced townsfolk walked by. Dust watched it all with a sense of childlike wonder.

So this was civilization then? Dust had never been to a city, of course, but he'd seen pictures in a book, so he had at least some idea of what it was like. No woodcut could have done this place justice though. It was so full, so loud, so… alive.

And then there was the smell. Dust had spent his life working around the hind end of cattle, so he was no stranger to stink. The stink here was different. An amalgam of hundreds of different odors assaulted his senses all at once. It was the smell of industry, of smoke and smog and fire, and then there was the animal smell from the horses and cattle pulling carts, and the mangy dogs in the alleyways, and the cured meats and the bird poop that covered seemingly every statue and lamppost. And you couldn't forget the smell of humanity, all these unwashed people mingling together, covered in soot and sweat and, yes, somebody was definitely covered in urine.

Amelia wrinkled her nose. "I always avoid the lower districts whenever I can. It's appalling here."

"Why are we here then?" Dust asked.

"It's where the gym is." She said. "I think the Leader here likes making the rich folks have to wade through the scummiest area of the city to challenge him. The threat of being mugged makes it more exciting, I guess."

"So what actually is a gym anyway?" Dust asked.

"Have you ever been involved in a Pokémon battle? I mean a real one with rules and things?"

Dust thought back to the smell of foul Rhyhorn breath on his face.

"I've been in one once." He said.

"Well that's what gyms are." Amelia explained. "They all specialize in a certain type of Pokémon, like Water or Rock. The one here in Ludlow is a Ground gym."

"I'm sorry, what do you mean by type?" Dust asked.

Amelia sighed. "It's the categories that Pokémon are put into. They don't really mean anything biologically; it's mainly for battling purposes. There are seventeen different types, like your Totodile there is a water type and Yoko is a psychic type. Some are elemental, like fire, and some have to do with the kind of energy they use, like dark types use dark energy and so on. And then some are basically just descriptors, like flying or bug."

"So everything just fits neatly into a type?"

"Not really." She said. "Like I said, these are manmade categories, so there's some overlap in different species. So your Beedrill is a bug, right, but it can also use venom. So according to the rules, that makes it a bug and poison type. It's all rather useless. Anyone who actually breeds Pokémon knows that types don't actually mean anything. I mean, one of the types is even called Normal! As if there's actually such thing as a normal animal. It's just somewhere to lump all the ones that they couldn't come up with an actual type for."

The carriage rolled to stop in front of a magnificent building that stood out the shoddy crumbling brick structures around it. It looked like an ancient palace, though significantly scaled down in size until it could fit into a city block. It was the only building here that had a courtyard.

"This is our stop." Amelia said. "You get out first."

Dust climbed out of the carriage and stepped out onto the cobblestones. He began to walk toward the building.

"Excuse me." Amelia said behind him. "Aren't you going to help me out of the carriage?"

Dust looked at her, then down at the two foot drop to the ground.

"You really need help to get out?" He said.

Amelia sighed. "Of course I don't need help. It's called etiquette." Dust extended his hand, and Amelia took it and stepped out. "I'm trying to pass you off as a gentleman, Dust. You could at least pretend to have an ounce of class."

She opened up her parasol and took Dust's arm. "Now walk me in."

The entrance to the gym was under a large stone arch that opened into the courtyard.

"This building isn't made anything like the others." Dust said.

"It's sandstone." Amelia said. "Only building made from it in the whole city. It's a lot older than most of the buildings here too."

"How old is that?"

"A few hundred years at the least."

The footpath was flanked by sand on both sides, like a miniature desert. Two palm trees stood in front of the large metal front doors of the building. The smoggy sky overhead lessened the desert atmosphere somewhat, but it was still a good effect.

"Do all gyms look like ancient temples?"

"Just this one, I think. It's the Ground gym, so they go for a sandy look here."

Dust pushed through the doors and into the gym. Inside was a small throng of people, mostly young men and women close to his age. The air of elitism was palpable in here. The men all had stylish waistcoats and dapper white gloves, and the ladies had hats with tall colorful feathers and crinoline in their dresses. Dust's nostrils were filled with the powerful mix of expensive colognes and perfumes all fighting for dominance.

A young man caught sight of them and approached. He beamed at Amelia.

"Amelia!" he said, "How wonderful to see you." He had a piglike nose and smelled vaguely like horseradish. Dust immediately disliked him.

"Evan." She said. "How… splendid of you to be here."

"You look positively ravishing." Evan Braxley said. He took her hand to kiss it. "I trust you have come to see challenge the gym?"

"Actually," she said, pulling her hand away from his grasp. "I've come to see him." She put her arm around Dust's.

"You have?" Dust said, surprised. Amelia gave him a look full of knives. "Yes, you have. Of course."

"Ah." Evan looked at Dust, as if just noticing him for the first time. His tone soured. "And you would be?"

Amelia spoke up. "His name is-"

"Dust." Dust said. He was going to be damned if he had to go by a false name.

"Dust Caldwell." Amelia finished for him. She squeezed his arm tight, making him wince slightly. "He's from the country."

"I see." Evan looked at Dust distastefully. "And why have you come with this country boy? Surely it cannot be because you enjoy the smell of cattle."

A girl with bright golden hair piled under a hat of the same color came sauntering over. She gave Dust an appraising once over and smiled suggestively.

"Amelia! I had no idea you were coming. When were you going to introduce me to your friend here?" She fluttered her fan coquettishly. Dust couldn't help noticing how low the neckline on her bodice was.

"This is Dust Caldwell." Amelia said.

Dust took the girl's hand and kissed it. "Charmed."

"Victoria Carradine." She said, letting out a small gasp. "Your hands are so strong."

"I like to keep busy." Dust said. He tried to think of things that wealthy people in the country did. He doubted the things Ashton did for fun would be approved of here. "Hunting, fishing, playing polo, tracking down wild beasts with naught but my wits to protect me.. Why just the other week I was involved in a chase with a Rhyhorn." Well, this was technically true, he reasoned.

"A Rhyhorn!" Victoria's eyes lit up. "They are awfully dangerous."

"Worry not, my lady." Dust was beginning to enjoy this. "I escaped with nary a scratch, which is more than I can say for the Ariados I encountered and fought with my bare hands."

"And I'm sure you have many other wonderful tales to tell us." Evan said, eying him with suspicion. "Say, where are you from exactly?"

"He's from the southeast." Amelia said. "Near the mountains."

"Dunny on the Woad, it's called." Said Dust with an air of pride. "It's been owned by the Caldwells for over two hundred years."

"Can't say I've ever heard of that place." Evan said. "Or any family named Caldwell."

"I expect you wouldn't. We don't normally associate with the nouveau riche." He had heard Lord Blackmoor use that term last night and was proud to have remembered it.

"Indeed." Evan said. There was some anger in his voice. "And pray tell why you are here in Ludlow with Amelia?"

Dust looked him right in his beady little eyes. "To discuss the terms of our betrothal, of course."

That got his attention. Evan's face twitched almost imperceptibly. Victoria gasped.

Dust continued on. "I'm thinking of starting some sausage plants here in Ludlow. With the support of the Blackmoors paired with the not insignificant fortune of my own, I believe I should hold the monopoly on the entire meat industry of the city before long. It shouldn't be too hard to force out the ghastly plants already here." He looked innocently at Evan. "I'm sorry, what is it that your family does?"

A vein was throbbing on Evan's forehead. Before he could speak, a bell rung from deeper in the building.

"That will be the gym leader." Amelia said. "You should go along now. Just allow me to have a word with my fiancé. Come, darling." She took Dust by the hand and led him away. Once they were out of earshot, her voice turned to ice. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"I'm giving you what you want." Dust said.

"What are you talking about?"

"Oh, so this isn't the reason you brought me here?" Dust said. "Pretending I'm some rich out-of-towner so you could parade me in front of that guy like a pig at the fair? I heard what you said at dinner. You wanted him to think you were taken."

"I didn't expect to end up engaged to you!"

"I bet you enjoyed the look on his face when I told him that, though."

Her expression softened slightly. "Alright, I did. I thought the part with the meat plants was a good touch too. I'll still have to come up with an explanation for when we never get married." She smiled. "Maybe I'll have you die in some horrid accident and become a lonely old widow, refusing to ever love again."

"You don't want to get married, do you?"

"To you or just in general?" Amelia laughed. "I suppose I'm not against the idea of marriage. It's just, I cannot stand any of these boys. Look at the ones here, all bristling with arrogance and false machismo. I guarantee that none of them raised a single one of their Pokémon instead of having someone else do it. I don't to marry someone like Evan Braxley. I'd much rather marry somebody like, well like you."

Dust raised his eyebrow.

"I mean, not you, obviously." She explained, "Just someone similar, but with more money, manners and dress sense. Why did you want to marry Maddie?"

"Because I love her." Dust said.

"Exactly. But Evan Braxley wants to marry me for the money and prestige that comes from marrying into the Blackmoor family. And that's what it is with everyone else here. They don't want me as a wife. They want the connection to my family name and fortune. I'm just the prize that goes along with it. Here, you don't marry someone you love. You're lucky to end up with someone you even like. And what if you can't stand them? What if you don't even want to touch them because you find them repulsive? Well then you can have your bed in a different room from them, and that's your marriage. Sleeping alone for the rest of your life except for the few nights where you have to perform your wifely duties to a man you hate so that you will then have children to marry off for the benefits of those connections. It's so much easier for you commoners. You don't have any family prestige to worry about. No offense."

The room around them had emptied out entirely.

"You should really go. They won't let fight the gym leader if you don't show up." She said.

"I didn't come here to fight anyone." Dust said.

"It's what all the gentlemen do. You aren't a real gentleman if you don't challenge the gym."

"I'm not a gentleman."

"No, but Dust Caldwell is."

"I've never even fought in an actual battle before." Dust protested.

"You told me you were in one on the way here." Amelia said.

"I was inside the ring, being chased." Dust said.

"What were you doing in the ring?" Amelia asked.

"I kind of… jumped in."

"Why would you do something stupid like that?"

"Never mind." Dust said. "The point is that I don't have any shot of winning."

"That's alright." Amelia said. "Nobody ever wins. Look Dust, I saved you from dying alone in the desert. The least you can do for me is to keep up the charade of a rich, pompous cad."

She turned and headed off toward the door to the viewer seats. Dust sighed and went down the corridor where the other young men had gone.

"Alright, is everybody here?" He looked around the room. "Good. I am the leader of this gym and my name is Maximillion Maximillion, but you can call me Maximillion. Now, as you all know, this is the Ludlow ground gym. And since this is a ground gym," He gave a look that meant he was about to say something very witty. "We are going to go over some ground rules." When nobody laughed at his terrible pun, he pressed on undeterred. "Right. Rule number one: This is a legal organized match, not an underground fighting ring. Battles between Pokémon are fought until one is either knocked unconscious or the owner withdraws it. You are responsible for your Pokémon's safety. If it is killed by accident in the battle, the Ludlow gym is under no obligation to repay you for your loss. Intentionally killing an opposing Pokémon however is not allowed. Rule two: Challengers are restricted to a maximum of six Pokémon, but you do not have to have that many. I will have six, so if you come with only one creature, then you had better have trained it well. If you defeat me, you will receive one of these." He held out a small bronze disc. "This is an official Ludlow gym Earth Badge, very useful for impressing the ladies, I'm told. There is only one way to receive one of these, and that is by winning a match against me. You cannot buy, threaten or cajole one off of me. You have one chance and one chance only of earning one of these, so if any of you are repeat visitors, then I'm sorry but you had your chance before and missed it. You can still challenge me, but don't expect to get a badge out of it."

He stepped off the platform. "Alright, I think that wraps things up. If you would form a line, first time challengers up front, repeat challengers in back." He slumped into a chair behind a small desk in the corner of the room. "Sign your name here and we'll be all set."

One by one, the line moved forward, everyone putting their signature. When it was Dust's turn, Maximillion Maximillion looked down at his name.

"Dust Caldwell, eh? Of the esteemed Caldwell family, I presume?"

"Yes." Dust said quickly.

"The Caldwells run a bakery three blocks from here." Maximillion said. "They make the most delectable Nanab pastries in the whole city, but such things do not make one members of the gentry, I am afraid. Now, I know the Caldwells and you are no Caldwell, nor are you a nobleman. I do believe your name really is Dust though, because nobody coming up with a false name would choose a moniker as false sounding as that."

"How do you know that?" Dust said.

"I've been rich and I've been poor and I've been everywhere in between, often alternating back and forth over a period of months. I know what privilege smells like and I also know how to spot a man who's had to work for his dinner. You look completely out of place, Dust, like you've never been around rich people before. Also, your penmanship is atrocious." He said, pointing at the ugly, inexpertly signed letters Dust had put down.

"Is that a problem?" Dust asked nervously.

"It is if you want people to understand what you're writing. Oh, you mean the fact that you're actually a filthy common swine. For them? Yes. They like to think of this place as their own little gentlemen's club. If any riffraff could come here and win a badge, then that means there's a single aspect of their lives where they don't get to lord their status over someone else, and that's a big problem for them. But this isn't their club now, is it? The Ludlow gym is my own sovereign nation, and I allow any man through my doors, rich or poor, male or female, though you'll be hard pressed to find a female man. You're just as welcome to challenge me as anyone else in this room. I just wouldn't let on your identity to the others. They might be less accepting than I am. Now move along, you're holding up the line." He gave Dust a piece of paper with the number eleven on it.

Dust was ushered into the dark waiting room with the others and sat in silence as everybody behind him filed in one by one. Several minutes passed and the door on the opposite side of the room opened. The challenger holding a paper with the number one on it stood up and exited through the door. The door closed behind him.

Several minutes passed.

The door opened again. The second challenger left.

Time passed.

Third challenger. Time passed. Fourth challenger. Fifth, sixth, seventh. There was no way of knowing if any of them had won, because they never came back into the room.

At last, the tenth challenger went in. Dust sat, looking at small collection of remaining boys left. Nobody spoke a word.

The door opened. It hadn't been a long wait. The guy before him must have gone down quickly.

Dust stood up and stepped through the door, which closed behind him with a loud boom.

The hallway was made of stone and decorated with ancient looking hieroglyphics. Flickering torchlight illuminated the long hall until the end faded into shadow. Dust started down it. When he came to the end of the torches, he had to hold out his hands in front and feel his way along. He came to a wall, but couldn't feel anything like a door. He spread out his hands and tried to find something to grab onto.

Finally, he discovered a lever and pulled it. For a moment, nothing happened. Then a loud grinding sound came from below.

The ground dropped from beneath Dust's feet.

He tumbled down an earthen tunnel sliding and bouncing on the floor of dirt. He was deposited on a sandy floor.

He rose to a kneeling position and looked around him. He was in a massive arena with stone walls. He stood on a stone platform, but the rest of the floor was nothing but loose sand. Up near the ceiling he could just see the stands where Amelia and the rest of the ladies sat.

On the other side of the arena, a spotlight turned on, revealing Maximillion Maximillion standing on an identical platform.

"Challenger Dust!" his voice echoed across the chamber, "Are you prepared for battle?"

Dust tried to brush some of the sand off. "Hold on a-"

"Good. Then let's begin."

Maximillion tossed a ball out onto the sand. A blinding flash of energy materialized into a human sized creature with rubbery blue skin and a large fin cresting its head. Dust had a brief memory flash of a huge maw rising out of the mud to swallow him. Of course, that was a Swampert, and this one was a smaller Marshtomp.

Dust looked at his three balls. He had a Totodile whose combat skills consisted of chasing butterflies, an omnicidal Beedrill just as likely to attack him as the enemy, and well, it really wasn't much of a choice then, was it? He tossed out Poochyena's ball.

He crouched down by the Hyena. "You see that?" he said, pointing to the Marshtomp. "I need you to take it down for me." He couldn't tell if she could understand him or not, so he added, "Poochyena, attack that thing."

Poochyena rushed toward the Marshtomp, kicking up a cloud of dust behind her.

"Strategy number two!" Maximillion commanded. The Marshtomp reared up on its hind legs and blasted the sand around it with water from its mouth, creating a circle of brown mud. It gathered a mouthful of the mud and blasted a stream of it at the approaching hyena.

Poochyena rolled out the way and snarled. She ducked as another blast of it sailed over her head. She charged forward, dug her paw into the sand and flung it at the amphibian's eyes as a blast of mud struck into her. She was knocked backward and rolled several feet before coming to a stop. The Marshtomp rubbed at its inflamed eyes and roared in pain. It drew back and tried to hit Poochyena with a pressurized jet of water, but missed badly.

Poochyena rose to her feet, growling. She raced at the blinded Marshtomp, leaped over a poorly aimed mud blast and slammed her bulk into its face. The amphibian fell over backwards, Poochyena coming down on top of it, clawing and biting as it flailed at her wildly.

A wild swing connected with her and she was knocked off. Her jaws whipped around and closed on the rubbery arm, drawing blood and making the Marshtomp reel back. Poochyena launched herself at its midsection and clawed wildly; making deep gashes in its belly the Marshtomp fell over, covering itself with its arms to protect its body from the vicious assault.

It vanished as Maximillion recalled it. "Your hyena has some fight in it. But you're going to have to rely on more than just brute strength if you want to win." He pulled out another ball and it became a small brown crocodile with a thick black membrane over its eyes. "Strategy number two, Sandile. Don't let that thing get the advantage."

The Sandile burrowed into the sand and disappeared. Poochyena darted to where it been and pawed at the sand, trying to dig after it.

"It's no use." Maximillion said. "Sandile can swim through sand as easily as a fish through water."

"Poochyena, watch out!" Dust yelled. "That thing could be anywhere."

Poochyena darted around, watching the ground for movement. Almost a minute went by, but the crocodile was nowhere to be seen. Then the ground rose up right under Poochyena's feet, and two jaws shot out and grabbed her. The two animals rolled on the ground. Poochyena struggled and fought and tried to get her mouth in a spot where she could bite her foe, but the Sandile's jaws were too strong. It squeezed, harder and harder until Poochyena was no longer fighting back. It released her and her unconscious form rolled out on the ground.

Dust recalled her and looked at his other two options. Neither of them seemed very good.

He sent out Totodile, and then recalled him twenty seconds later when his dazed form came flying back and landed at his feet. One of these days, Dust was going to have to actually train him.

He looked down at his remaining pokeball. It's purple and green light looked back at him, almost tauntingly. Beedrill was unpredictable, and he didn't know whether or not it would attack him. He hadn't sent it out since he was all the way back in the mountains, running away from Ashton's Rhyhorn. But then again, Maddie had told it to do whatever he said.

He threw the ball on the ground, and the towering insect appeared. It looked across at the enemy Sandile, and then it turned around at Dust.

"Beedrill, knock out that Sandile." It still just stood there. "Beedrill, I'm giving you an order. You have to do what I say. Its pupiless eyes showed no comprehension, or any emotion of any kind. It took a step toward him. "Beedrill!" Dust yelled

Beedrill raised one spear arm, and then swung it around at the Sandile leaping at it from behind. The crocodile skidded away, sending up a spray of sand. It tried to stand, but it staggered and fell. Beedrill's venom was taking effect.

Maximillion recalled the Sandile. "That's quite a specimen you've got there. But let's see how it deals with this!"

He threw down a ball, and the light grew and grew until it materialized. Dust had been inches away from the baron's Rhyhorn. He'd felt its hot breath on his face and he'd seen its massive frame bearing down on him in nightmares since then.

This creature made that Rhyhorn look like a baby. It towered above him, standing nearly twenty feet on its hind legs, it front arms the size of tree trunks. This was what Rhyhorns aspired to be.

"Rhyperior, strategy number one!" Maximillion commanded.

The hulking monster picked up a handful of sand and squeezed it. The grains formed together into a big rock.

"Crush that bug." The gym leader said.

Rhyperior lobbed the rock at high speed. Beedrill spun out the way, but not fast enough to avoid getting winged by it. It fell over, buzzing angrily.

"Beedrill, move now!" Dust cried out. Beedrill somersaulted away as a boulder crashed down where it had just been. Its wings whirred and the bug took off into the air. "Keep moving. Try to get around it and look for a weak point."

Where did you find a weak point on a monster like this? The Rhyperior was a fortress on two legs. Beedrill was shooting pin missiles at it, but they just clattered off its armored plates. Dust tried to think. Every creature had a weak point. This thing must have had some kind of vulnerable area.

Inspiration struck.

"Beedrill, get under its legs!"

Beedrill whirred around it, dodging the creature's grasping arms with lightning agility. It dropped down and darted around as the Rhyperior pounded at the sand around it, and flew between its enormous legs.

"Now stab upward!"

Beedrill stuck its spear arm up, and recoiled when it slammed ineffectually against armored plate.

"It's called a genital sheath." Maximillion said. "And Rhyperior has one as hard as granite. It was a good try though, not many challengers have thought to do that."

Rhyperior reached down and picked Beedrill up. The insect squirmed in its grasp, but was it about as effective as a bee trying to escape a giant armored rhinoceros. The hand began to squeeze.

Rhyperior brought Beedrill up to its mouth and roared so loudly that the ground seemed to shake. Beedrill looked into its mouth and spat a pin missile.

Rhyperior reeled back, roaring even more loudly. It flung Beedrill away, who crashed into the wall and sank to the ground. Its wing was bent and its carapace was beginning to crack. It staggered back on to the sand, buzzing defiantly.

Rhyperior charged.

Just as Beedrill was about to be buried under a mountain of rhino mass, it shot upward, barely avoiding the giant horn and landed on the moving rhino's back. Two arms came up to swat it away, but the bug deftly avoided them and crawled to the top of the angry monster's head. It flipped over and landed in the Rhyperior's mouth, stinger going in.

Rhyperior ripped Beedrill out and threw it into the ground. Its roars were weakening, and foam came from its mouth. The Rhyperior staggered over and fell to its knees, its arms holding it off the ground. Then, they gave out too, and slumped into the sand with a muffled crash.

"I guess that thing did have a weak spot." Dust said.

Beedrill crawled upward, barely able to support itself. It slowly turned and faced Maximillion, as if daring him to send another enemy to fight.

The gym leader did. This one was a blue toad the size of a large man. "That thing is tougher than it looks, Seismitoad. Don't let it get to you. Use your hyper voice."

Beedrill's damaged wings whirred, and it charged the toad at full speed. The Seismitoad planted both feet in the sand and screeched. The sonic power blew a track in the sand and blasted Beedrill back. Dust fell to his knees, covering his tortured ears.

Beedrill bounced back to its feet and charged again, and was hit by another sonic screech. It fell to the sand and this time it couldn't get up.

Dust recalled it.

"Is that all your Pokémon?" Maximillion asked.

Dust nodded his head.

"Then the match is over."

The two of them walked out to the center of the arena and shook hands.

"You lost, kid." Maximillion said, "But your Pokémon put up a better fight than I've seen in a long time. Except for the Totodile of course."

"Thank you." Dust murmured.

"Listen, your creatures have fierceness and determination. Those are both qualities that will serve you well in future battles. What they need is training. You can't just have your Pokémon rush in and fight on its own and expect to win. You and it have to work together to win. Here's something I don't tell many people. You have what it takes to challenge the league. I think you should go to the other gyms and take them on."

"Are they a around here?" Dust asked.

"No. The league is supposed to be hard to beat. The gyms are scattered across the world, making it impossible for any but those with the most drive and determination to win. Just think about it, Dust." He turned away and yelled. "Send in the next one!"

An Enemy Spy
9th March 2013, 5:02 AM
Chapter XIX: Dust Gets a Letter

Dust returned to Blackmoor Manor where he spent the next few days milling around with no idea what to do. He tried horseback riding, but climbing on the backs of animals bigger and stronger and meaner than him with manes of fire and trying to tell them what to do turned out to be a skill he wasn't cut out for.

He ate his meals alone, though sometimes Amelia would come to keep him company. She spent her time tending to Poochyena and Beedrill. Dust helped with Poochyena, as he had experience helping wounded Tauroses, but Beedrill's anatomy was beyond him. At least the bug seemed less intent to kill him lately.

Totodile recovered quickly, as all he had taken was a blow to the head. Dust attempted to train him better. They went out into the prairie and hunted Digletts together. Totodile softened the ground around the holes and dug after them, trapping the moles in his jaws and pulling them out. Totodile ate well, and Dust decided to stick to human food.

One day, Dust was playing in the billiards room when a servant came in with a piece of paper. "Message for you, sir."

Dust took the paper from him. "Who could be sending me a letter?"

"It doesn't say. But it is addressed to you."

After the man had left, Dust tore open the envelope.

Dust,

When we battled, I told you that you were something special. I have an opportunity for you to prove it. If you have time, meet me at the Riverside Inn in town at eleven o'clock tonight. There is someone I want you to meet.

Maximillion Maximillion.

Dust went down to the barn area where Amelia was milking a baby Nidoran. "How are they doing?"

She put the Nidoran down and wiped her hands on her rough trousers. "The Nidorans? They're doing fine. I think in a few months some of them will make good race animals."

"I meant Poochyena and Beedrill."

"Oh them." She said. "They're fine. Poochyena is still a little tender so you should take it easy with her, but Beedrill is in ship shape. Insects have excellent regenerative properties."

"Great. I'm taking them to Ludlow tonight. I might have a job there."

She smiled. "What kind of job?"

"I don't know yet." He showed her the letter.

"Hmm." She said, "He wants to meet you at night at one of the least reputable establishments in an area of town that's already disreputable? Sounds shady. Be sure to bring the carriage back when you're done."

It was at ten forty-five that Dust arrived at the Riverside Inn, following the directions of a man with two eye patches dragging a sack that Dust whose contents Dust didn't care to speculate on. Maximillion was waiting outside.

"You're early." He said. "The letter said to be here at eleven."

"Is that a bad thing?" Dust said.

"Of course not." He put his arm around Dust's shoulder. "I'm glad you showed up. Dust, you are going to help me catch a criminal."

"I didn't realize that chasing criminals was your job."

"Keeping our city safe from scum is the duty of every citizen, Dust. And this person managed to fool me specifically, so that makes it personal."

He lead Dust to a small shack behind the inn.

"So who is this guy we're going to catch?" Dust asked as Maximillion opened the door.

There was a small table inside the shack. Ashton stood up from behind it.

"It's you, chummy."

ChloboShoka
13th March 2013, 11:22 PM
Here from the review game.

Plot - I think you have a decent plot here which is very well explored and you also explore the theme of abuse very well. I think it was handled in a very mature manner. The intense relationships help enhance the plot very well.

Characters - Totodile was really cute and I think we pretty much saw him grow up throughout the whole story because you described him in the egg to the time he lives his life. The way Dust and Totodile interacted, especially in the end gave out a really cute and fuzzy atmosphere and imagery. In chapter five, I found it hard to like Dust because he pushes him too hard when it's still just a baby.

Enjoyment - I think the main strengths in New World is the description, and this showed up very well in chapter four when you wrote about the totodile hatching from the egg. You did a good job with the showing and not telling technique when you already showed up with a description of the baby pokemon before it was announced.


Crocodylus Liberis
I like this part because it made me think it was a latin name for it like plants and animals have latin names.

Pace - I think the story is very well paced with well throughout chapters. In my opinion there is a reasonable amount of detail, description and atmosphere to understand what is going on. It shows very well in the most recent chapter which is straight to point as in it's concise.

An Enemy Spy
15th March 2013, 12:17 AM
Chapter XX: New Beginning

You weren't expecting me back, were you?

To be honest, I didn't think I'd be back either. That monster almost got me. It broke through my fortress of walls and mazes and almost purged me bit by bit until there was nothing left of me. I'm already little more than a memory as it is.

I used to believe there was a place we all went to when we died, somewhere where there wasn't any pain or sadness. But I don't think that place is open to me anymore. I won't die; I'll just not exist anymore. And lonely and broken as I am, I desperately want to exist, because the thought of being gone terrifies me.

But I've found a new place, and I will exist for a little longer.

But you aren't interested in that, are you? No, just get what you want out of me and then leave me behind, I understand. That's the story of my life.

After I'd been taken from my mother, I was driven into the city. The towering skyscrapers had always been the backdrop of my life, always in the distance, as reliable and unchanging as the sun rising. I had never actually been into the city itself though, and it was exhilarating.

I had never imagined that a place could have so many people, so many sights and sounds and smells. I forgot my grief and stared out the window with wide eyed wonder.

We came to a building with a sign that said FutureTech Enterprises, but instead of going through the big doors in front, I was led around the alley and through a small door that turned into an elevator.

We went down below until the doors opened and I was in a sterile white hallway where people in lab coats went by.

There was tall man waiting for me, with a dark beard and intense eyes. He knelt down and told me he was my father. He said he was happy to see me here, but I couldn't feel any emotion from him at all. I was never able to read anything off that man. The other scientists there were mostly all cold and apathetic to me, but even apathy is an emotion of some kind. My father was always as blank as a block of stone, like he wasn't even alive.

He tried to explain why I'd been brought here, that I was a person with special mental abilities and he was going to help me develop them. I asked him if I could see my mom, and he said that they would try to work something out soon. He was lying, of course. He always lied.

I was taken to a section of the facility where there were other children. I could see some of them through the windows and I wanted to go meet them, but the man with me said that they weren't in my group, so we couldn't talk to each other.

The first day, I sat alone in my room with nobody to talk to. At six o'clock, a plate of food slid under my door, but I didn't eat anything. I looked at the ceiling and imagined what my mother was doing. I hugged my legs and tried to remember the stories she told me every night when I was put to bed. I tried to tell a story to myself, but I didn't have her imagination and I couldn't do the voices the way she could, and it just made me feel even lonelier. I don't know what time I fell asleep that night, but I remember that I was crying when I did.

It was the second day that I met Red.

An Enemy Spy
15th March 2013, 12:18 AM
Chapter XXI: Red

The only furnishings in the room were a small bed and a dresser built into the wall with three drawers. A door at the back led to a bathroom with a toilet, a sink, and a shower just big enough for a child to stand upright in it.

A seven year old girl sat on the edge of the bed, staring blankly at the white, featureless wall. Her light brown hair was matted down and her pretty green eyes were puffy from crying the night before. A small plate of breakfast sat on the bed next to her, completely untouched.

The door swung open and a boy two years older than her poked his head in. He had messy black hair pulled under a red and white hat.

"Hey, you must be the new kid!" he said, lisping slightly because his front teeth were missing.

She looked at him, but didn't say anything.

"My name's Red." He said. Red closed the door behind him and marched in. "We all heard there was going to be a new kid, but they didn't say you'd be a girl. What's your name?"

"Espa." She said weakly.

"That's a cool name. I like you." He sat down on the bed next to her. "Are you sad? You look sad."

"I miss my mom." Espa said. "And I miss my room and my bed. This room doesn't have anything in it."

"There's lots of stuff to do out in the big area. And if you do good they'll give you things to have in your room. I have a TV." He said proudly.

"Will they let me see my mom?"

"I don't know. None of us have any parents."

"You don't have parents?" She said, surprised.

"I was born here and so were the other kids." Red said. "I guess we all had moms and dads but we never met them."

"My mom is perfect." Espa said. "She's pretty and smart and she loves me. She cried when I left."

"Don't worry." Red said. He put his arm around her. "I bet you'll see her again."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Espa leaned her head against him.

"Hey, you wanna see something?" Red said excitedly.

"Okay." Espa replied.

Red reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokeball. "Look at this." A beam shot out and the light materialized into a red lizard with a flame on the end of its tail.

"What is it?" Espa said, hers eyes wide.

"It's a Charmander." He said. "I just got him a little while ago. His name's Blazer." The Charmander curled up in Red's arms. "Do you want to hold him?"

"Won't I get burned?" Espa asked nervously.

"Put your hand on the fire." Red told her.

She shook her head. "No."

"It'll be okay." He took her hand and put it on Blazer's tail.

Espa screamed and then stopped. Her eyes shone with wonder. "It doesn't hurt."

"He can make his fire as hot as he wants it to be."

Espa picked the lizard up and smiled for the first time. "He's so pretty."

"You can carry him around if you want." Red said. "Come on, I'll show you around."

He stood up, and Espa shot her arm out and grabbed his hand.

"Sure, you can hold my hand too." He said. He opened the door and led her out of the room.

Skiyomi
16th March 2013, 11:16 PM
I'm here from the review game, commenting on chapter 21 as requested, but since I haven't read the previous chapters, I can't comment much on overarching plot or themes picked up from previous chapters, so this'll pretty much just be a close reading of the current chapter by itself.

There are a few technical errors in this--some of which might just need some proofreading to clear out. The main one that stood out to me was that the dialogue tags are not properly punctuated. Such as in this example:


"My name's Red." He said.

It should be: "My name's Red," he said.

"He said" is a dialogue tag and part of the previous sentence, so it should be joined with a comma instead of a period. This occurs in multiple places in this chapter.

This chapter was quite short. What with that and the emphasized personal interaction as opposed to action, plot-oriented (at least as far as I can tell) material, it felt very vignettey. And there's nothing wrong with that. The moment seemed pretty darn sweet actually. You begin with emotional pain and emptiness and you end with comfort and warmth.

There are places, however, where it does start to feel a little spare. Early on you give us some description to give a sense of atmosphere and ground the scene, which is great. However, once the conversation starts, the description ceases and it starts to feel very bare-bones. I think you could break up some of your dialogue exchanges with description and with movement to make the scene feel more developed (and give some more subtle psychological looks into the characters' mindsets aside from just what they're saying) and to achieve the rhythm of the conversation.

As for the dialogue itself, I'm a little torn as to how to comment. It strikes me as very simple in places and the emotions are just laid out on the table much of the time for the reader instead of being played close to the vest and subtly through action and atmosphere. On the other hand... our speakers are seven and nine-ish respectively. That mode of speech makes a certain amount of sense for them. So I'm not really about to complain.

All in all, this was brief, but pleasant read. I wish you luck as you revise and continue to write this story.

An Enemy Spy
7th May 2013, 9:37 AM
Chapter XXII: Just Like Old Times



Two scruffy looking thugs entered the room behind him and blocked off the door. One of them carried a chair.

"Got some new goons, I see." Dust said. "What, daddy wouldn't lend you any of his?"

"The Blackshirts don' leave the valley, Dust. They're needed ta keep all you dirt people in line. Thanks fer askin' though. Have a seat, mate." Ashton said.

The chair was rammed into the back of Dust's knees. He fell backward into it.

"Well ain't this a 'appy little reunion?" Ashton said. "I believe introductions are in order. Dust, meet…" he paused uncertainly. "Hell, I don' remember their names. Meet these two scumbags who work fer cheap I found. Scumbags, meet Dust. And o' course you already know Maximillion 'ere. He's the one who sent ye tha' letter. Me an' 'im are currently wha' ye might call business associates."

"He paid you off?" Dust said to Maximillion.

"I take money where I can get it, Dust. Gym leading isn't the most lucrative job in the world."

"What happened to not being able to bought, threaten or cajoled?"

"That's only in my official capacity, I'm afraid. And anyway, you're one to talk. Ashton told me all about you, Dust. If I'd known who you really are when you walked into my gym, I'd have dragged you to the police myself."

Ashton brought his chair around the table and sat down in front of Dust.

"My my my, Dust." Ashton said, "You are quite the little bugger. Y'know, I assumed you'd been turned to paste back in tha' forest, but 'ere you are, safe an' sound in the city o' Ludlow. You clever bastard, you, how did you do it?"

Dust was clubbed in the back of the head. "Answer him." The thug said.

"I jumped down a waterfall."

Ashton laughed and clapped his hands. "He jumped down a bleedin' waterfall! Fantastic! I ne'er knew you had it in ya. I bet you got all kind o' stories. Ye' could probably write a book about it, 'cept of course fer you bein' a dirt poor peasant wi'out even the slightest bit o' an education. Can you even read?"

Dust in fact could read, but he reasoned that if he stood any chance of getting out of here, he'd be better off humoring Ashton.

"So imagine my surprise when I come 'ere," Ashton continued, "and see you saunterin' about in broad daylight wit' some new broad. Rich girl too. Good work on tha' one. She's a big improvement over yer last girl. She was good fer a roll in the hay, I admit, if ye don' mind the strugglin' and screamin'."

Dust tried to leap out of his seat, but strong arms restrained him.

"If you did anything to Maddie, I'll kill you!"

"Now Dust, I don' think yer in a position to start makin' threats, now are ye." Ashton smiled. "An' anyway, she's fine. She's up in the inn right now, actually."

"What?" Dust said.

"Well, I went and figured, seein' as 'ow you weren't usin' 'er at the moment an' whatnot, there weren't any 'arm in me sorta takin' 'er fer myself. Sort o' a fairytale endin' for 'er, don' ya think? What common little dirt girl like 'er don't dream o' one day bein' the mistress o' a big important man like me. Course, it took 'er a little bit ta come around to me, but she learned to enjoy my tender, lovin' care, if ya catch my meanin'"

Dust struggled against the thugs' grips. "You son of a *****, Ashton."

Ashton leaned in close. "Thing is, she never believed you were dead. Thought ya must o' 'scaped somehow. She's up in the inn right now. Course, she don't know what's goin' on down 'ere."

He pulled his revolver from its holster. Ashton's thugs grabbed Dust by the arms and threw him the ground. Ashton knelt down and pressed the gun's barrel to his head.

"Say Dust, you know 'er better than I do." Ashton said. "What'd be crueler, to tell 'er tha' you stumbled in 'ere like an idiot an' got yerself killed, or to let 'er go on hopin' you're still alive somewhere and never know tha' you're floatin' down tha river wit' a bullet in your skull?

"Wait a minute!" Maximillion interrupted. "You didn't say you were going to kill him! I thought you were just going to rough him up a bit and turn him in to the police."

"What do you care?" Ashton said. "Yer getting' paid anyway."

"I'm not going to help you kill someone if I don't know what he did to deserve it."

"He's a dirty criminal." Ashton said. "He attacked me in an alleyway an' kidnapped a girl."

"He's lying." Dust said.

"Shut up." Ashton commanded.

"I was defending her from him. He's a violent rapist and a bastard."

"Shut yer ****ing mouth!" Ashton said. His finger twitched on the trigger.

"Don't even think about it." A gun appeared in Maximillion's hand. One of Ashton's henchmen pointed a revolver at him. "I'm not standing here and watching you kill someone if I don't know what he did to deserve it."

"Yer getting' soft on me, eh?" Ashton said. "This 'ere's a wanted man."

"He's not the one I see about to shoot someone."

"Alright. You win, chummy." Ashton removed the gun from Dust's head. "Lower yer guns, both of you."

Maximillion and the thug both slowly put their weapons down.

"Now, there ain't no reason we can't work this all out like civ'lized people, is there?" Ashton said.

"Alright. Let him up." Maximillion said.

Ashton nodded at the goon, who allowed Dust to rise to his feet.

"Now, I want to hear the whole story of what happened." Maximillion commanded. "Starting with you." He pointed at Ashton.

"It 'appened like this. 'Ere I am one night, mindin' my business, when suddenly-"

In a flash, he brought up the gun and fired. But Maximillion was too fast, smacking his arm out of the way as the weapon discharged. The two of them wrestled for the gun.

Not being one to let an opportunity go to waste, Dust jerked his head backward, ramming it into the face of the man holding his arms. The man's pain caused his grasp to loosen and Dust jerked his arms free. He pulled his hunting knife from its sheath and stabbed him in the leg.

The other thug had pulled his gun and had it aimed at Maximillion, trying to get a good shot. Dust grabbed Poochyena's pokeball and released her.

"Get him!" He yelled. Poochyena leaped and tackled the thug to the ground, biting and snarling.
Dust kicked the revolver out of his hand and picked it up from the floor.

Ashton and Maximillion fell over the table, breaking it in half.

"Get out of here, Dust!" Maximillion shouted. "I'll handle this."

The thug Dust had stabbed fumbled for his revolver. Dust recalled Poochyena and dove out the door just as a bullet blew through the wall where he was standing. He took off running. One of the thugs ran out of the shack and fired. Dust shot a round back without even bothering to aim.

Dust took off into the dark street. He darted around an alley and was clotheslined by the person hiding behind it. Dust fell on his back seeing stars. The thug loomed over him. He had a metal pipe in one hand.

"You didn't think those two were the only here, did you?" He sneered.

"Yoko, Psyshock!"

The thug fell over, clutching at his head.

Dust's sense returned, and he found himself looking up at Amelia.

"There. That's the second time I've saved your life." She said.

The gun flew out of Ashton's hands and landed at the far side of the shed. Maximillion got a hand free and punched Ashton in the face. He scrambled and dove for the gun, picking it up whirling it around just as Ashton sprang to his feet and kicked it out of his hand.

Ashton grabbed his cane and pulled a sword out of it. He whirled around and pointed it at Maximillion.

Maximillion was holding a ball with a flashing brown light.

"I think you might want something a little bigger than that butter knife there." He said.

The shack exploded outward as the space it occupied was filled by several tons of angry Rhyperior.

Ashton looked up at the hulking monstrosity. "Oh that's just not fair"

"What are you doing here?" Dust said as he got to his feet. His face hurt and he thought he could taste blood.

"I was concerned. You might blindly trust anyone who tells you to come to the seediest part of town for some unknown reason, but I'm a bit more suspicious than that, so Yoko and I came to see if you were in trouble."

She was wearing a pair of form fitting leather pants and a matching vest over a blue shirt.

"I know, it's not the most proper clothing for a lady of my standing to be seen in, but it's a lot easier to move around in than a floor length dress."

"I think it fits you." Dust said. "Better than that bird hat anyway."

"You don't like my bird hat?"

There was a loud roar from back near the inn. Then the two thugs who had been in the shed came barreling around the corner. Dust fired a shot at them and dragged Amelia into an alley by the arm.

"Friends of yours?" she said.

"Something like that."

"How many shots do you have in that revolver?"

Dust looked down at it. "Four, I think."

"I hope you're a good shot."

"Yeah, me too."

Bullets struck the wall they were hiding behind, making the bricks explode into little chunks. Dust ducked out and saw one of the thugs running to the other side of the street. He leveled his gun.

Bam.

Bam.

The shots weren't anywhere close to his target.

"That's two bullets left." He said. "I don't suppose you're any good with a gun."

"There isn't much call for guns when you're an aristocratic animal breeder." She said.

The stone in front of him burst as a shot hit it.

"Can't that thing of yours teleport us back to your house?" He demanded.

"That's a long distance port." She said, hugging Yoko to her chest. "He needs to be able to concentrate and he can't with all this gunfire!"

"Well, have him teleport somewhere nearby!" they both fell to the ground as bullets raced over their heads.

"He doesn't know the area, and he's too scared to map it out."

"Either he does it, or we're dead! Can he do it blindly?"

"That's extremely dangerous! We could materialize inside a wall or it the pavement or even in another person."

"I think I'll take my chances."

Amelia sighed deeply. "Okay. Yoko, make a blind teleport to somewhere nearby." She grabbed Dust's hand and placed it on the Abra.

The first time Dust had been teleported, he'd been barely conscious from pain and poison and had only the vaguest recollection of it. This time around, he could really experience it.

Dust had expected it to be like standing in spot and then just suddenly be standing somewhere else, but it wasn't like that at all. It felt like an intangible hand had grabbed him and yanked him backwards into nothing. There was a sensation of falling, and then he landed on roof shingles.

That feeling of falling had turned out to be him actually falling.

He rose to his feet, being careful not to lose his balance on the slanted surface. He took Amelia's arm and helped her up.

"Two stories up." She said, looking around. "Could have been a frightful drop if we hadn't appeared over a building, but it's a safer bet than ground level with all those walls and things down there."

"So where are we?" Dust said. He looked over the edge and saw the two thugs approaching the alleyway they'd been standing in. "Not very far at all then. I think we can sneak away without them seeing us as long as we-"

A roof tile slid out from under his foot and clattered loudly on the street below.

"Of course that would happen." He said.

Ashton raced around the corner and threw himself to the side as another boulder sailed past him, smashing into the pavement. He rolled on the ground and sprung to his feet in one quick movement, almost tripped over the thug lying face down on the ground and rushed into the street.

"Oi, you!" He yelled at the two thugs who were still conscious. "Where'd the peasant kid go?"

"Up there." He said, [pointing at the rooftops. "He's got some girl with him now. They just sort of vanished and reappeared up there."

"Teleporter, eh?" He pulled out his pokeball and the little Pichu appeared on his shoulder. "Climb up there an' give em a shock." The rodent chattered and skittered up the side of the building.

Maximillion sat back in the chair that had miraculously survived the fight. He pulled a hip flask from his back pocket and took a swig.

"That was fun, don't you think? You needed an ego boost after getting beat by a damn insect anyway." he said. The Rhyperior looked down at him and grunted. "No, I don't think we need to help him. He can look after himself." He looked down at his flask. "Anyway, after a night like this, a man needs a good drink."

He stood up and wandered into the inn. That morning, he would wake up face down in a gutter with his pants missing. This was a fairly typical occurrence in the life of Maximillion Maximillion.

"Where do we go now?" Amelia asked.

"Can he teleport us again?" Dust said.

"He's done it twice now already." The more little jumps we make, the harder it will be for him to make the big jump back to Blackmoor Manor. And we got lucky on that last teleport. The next one from this altitude could make us appear two or three stories over the cobblestones."

"Alright then, I have another idea." He wrapped his arm around her legs and threw her over his shoulder.

"What are you doing?" she yelled in surprise.

"Something very stupid. You might want to hold on tight." He ran to the side of the building and jumped.

Reaching out, his fingers closed around a clothesline. The force of holding on to stop them from falling felt like it would rip his arm right off, but he managed to keep his grip. They were now dangling precariously over the street. Not a huge improvement, Dust had to concede, but at least things were going in the right direction.

He grunted and grabbed the line with his other hand. "Are you alright?" he asked.

"I'll manage." She said.

Straining from the effort, he moved one forward, and the other one, making his way across the line. It was a difficult task with another person and a small fox slung over his shoulder.

The Pichu scampered to the edge of the building and chattered loudly. Its fur crackled with building energy.

Amelia looked up and saw the little glowing mouse. She grabbed the revolver from Dust's belt and shot at it. The bullet pinged off the roof, but the distraction was enough to throw off the Pichu's aim. An arc of lightning blasted the wall in front of them.

"What was that?" Dust yelled.

"There's a Pichu on the roof behind us." Amelia said.

"Not that thing again." Dust said.

Dust looked at the distance between himself and the next building. There was no way he was going to be able to climb a across before they were zapped and sent falling.

"Alright, this is a terrible idea I have right now, so don't let go." He took the hunting knife from his belt and slashed the clothesline with it. He grabbed the line with both hands as they swung downward, smashing through the wooden slats and landing heavily on wooden table, terrifying the family inside the room.

"Don't mind us, just passing through!" Dust yelled as he ran across the room and out the door into the hall. The building looked like a tenement, with doors on every side of the corridor.

"As romantic as being carried around by a dashing adventurer seems in novels," Amelia said. "I'd really prefer it if you would let go of me now."

"Oh, right." Dust let her slide down off his shoulder.

"I don't think I much care for the people you associate with, Dust." She said.

"I think he can stay here for a little while." Dust said. "Can Yoko teleport us back yet?"

"He needs to focus. Give him some time to calm down."

"He looks pretty calm to me." Dust said, looking at the peacefully sleeping creature.

"Abra's spend almost every hour of the day asleep, but they are always aware of their surroundings. On a mental level, he's actually quite active right now."

Dust took the revolver from her hand. "One bullet and two of them."

"Three actually." Ashton rounded the corner, sword in hand. Dust raised the gun to shoot, but Ashton was too fast. He slashed at Dust's hand, drawing a deep gash. The gun fell to the floor.

Dust leapt back as Ashton swung madly. He advanced on them, grinning like a madman, which, Dust reasoned, he likely was.

"There's nowhere ta run this time, you dirty muckdweller. No waterfalls to jump off, no giant rhinos to save you. You're mine, Dust."

"Get us out of here." Dust said through clenched teeth.

"I don' know what it is wit' you an' always havin' girls come ta yer rescue, but she ain't getting' out o' here either. I think I'll kill 'er first. Big tough, 'eroic guy like you, you wouldn't like tha', would ya?"

Yoko began to stir.

"Dust, get back here." Amelia whispered.

"I don' like getting' embarrassed, Dust. I don' like getting punched an' bitten and outrun an' 'aving people I'm tryin' ta catch get away from me. I'm better than you, you scum. I'm important! I'm noble! You're barely above an animal! And now I'm gonna gut you like one, you dirty blooded peasant!"

Yoko opened his eyes.

"Dust! It's happening!" Amelia yelled. She ran forward and placed Yoko into his arms. Dust could feel himself being yanked back.

"No! You're not getting away from me again!" Ashton scrambled for the gun of the ground. One bullet. That was all the gun had and that was all he needed. He pulled the trigger. Dust and Amelia vanished.

Ashton's cronies came up from behind him.

"Did you get them, boss?" one of them asked.

Ashton sunk to his knees. He looked up. He smiled.

On the far wall, directly behind where Dust and Amelia had just disappeared into the ether, there wasn't a bullet hole.

Dormant
8th May 2013, 12:57 AM
Hey! It's me again!!! From the Review Game!

The Opening is quite intense! I mean, at the end of the last second chapter, that no-good Ashton appears to arrest or kill Dust. And now here we see Dust being held by Ashton again and seems to be in trouble.

The Scene between Ashton, Dust and Maximillion is intense as well! I mean, I like how you make Maximillion arrest Dust because his Gym needed money. And Ashton seems to be more psycho in this chapter.

Characters, I really hate Ashton. I hate his personality and how he speaks. I couldn't understand a word of what the heck he's saying. I really hate the villain in this story. You've made an excellent job on making Ashton. I also like Maximillion! He seem to be a nice guy and the reason he brought Dust to Ashton is because his Gym is lacking money. In the end, Maximillion helped Dust at the end and allow him to escape.

Relationships. You've also made an excellent job on Dust and Amelia. They're both like two partners in crime, except they're actually trying to run away from the evil Ashton. I wonder if there's going to be like a love triangle or something?

But all in all, You are one of the best writers that I have ever known. Sure, there might be better author's but I still think that you're as awesome as always!

So Dormant;429; signing off..

Blaziken10285
9th May 2013, 11:26 PM
I've been reading through this lately, and I have to say, I've really enjoyed it! There not being a bullet hole in the wall... It's a huge cliffhanger. I really want to know which one Ashton shot, though I'm guessing that it would be Dust can I be added to the PM List, please?

An Enemy Spy
10th May 2013, 7:32 PM
Chapter XXIII: Safe Landing



Dust reappeared standing on dry dirt. The long distance teleport had felt like being flushed down a whirlpool and deposited on a beach. His stomach hurt.

Yoko was held in his arms. It looked up at him with open, intelligent eyes. They were standing inside the gate of Blackmoor Manor.

"You got us here, Yoko. I knew you could do it."

The Abra slowly closed its eyes and drifted back to sleep.

Amelia grimaced and put her hands over her stomach. "I don't feel so good, Dust." She collapsed.

Dust knelt over her. "Hey, are you okay?"

There was blood seeping through her fingers.

"Oh no." He lifted up her hands. "Oh no, you've been shot."

He scrambled through her pockets, looking for something, anything he could use. His fingers closed around a small vial. He pulled it out. It was the same shape as the one she used on him when they first met.

He pulled the stopper off and moved her hands out of the way. "Just hold on, it's going to be alright." He poured the viscous liquid into the wound. Amelia's face twisted in pain. "I know it hurts but I have to do this."

The potion filled the wound and the bleeding stopped.

"Dust?" Amelia's voice was weak.

Dust took her hand and held it tight. "Don't worry. It's going to fine."

"…Dust…I…"

"Don't talk. Just keep looking at me, okay? Just focus on me."

"I-… I don't…" Her eyes fell shut.

"Don't fall asleep, Amelia." Dust pleaded, "Please don't fall asleep on me. Wake up Amelia. Wake up!"

She didn't move.

"Amelia?"

Skiyomi
12th May 2013, 6:35 AM
Heyo. I'm here from the review game. I'll be doing a review of your latest chapter: chapter 23. Now, I was here before and did a review of chapter 21, but only chapter 21. So my context for this story is pretty limited.


Dust reappeared standing on dry dirt. The long distance teleport had felt like being flushed down a whirlpool and deposited on a beach. His stomach hurt.

I like that we're getting some description here of how disorienting teleporting much be. Following up a relatively complex description (you second sentence) with a very simple description (your third sentence) makes for a nice sense of contrast and variety.


Yoko was held in his arms.

This wording seems rather awkward to me. I'm not sure why we've moved to passive voice here. It seems like the active version of this: "He held Yoko in his arms" would come across much stronger and more natural.


It looked up at him with open, intelligent eyes.

It feels repetitive to say “open” here. If it’s “looking up at him” we can assume that it’s doing so with its eyes open. I guess this makes some sense considering Abra generally have their eyes squinted, but if you want to point out the oddness of an Abra having its eyes open wide, I feel like there are more artful sounding ways to do that.


"Oh no." He lifted up her hands. "Oh no, you've been shot."

I feel like this should be a bigger emotional deal… but the way it’s stated with such minimal action and description and nary even a rather justifiable exclamation point... it feels very flat and hollow. It comes out in my head as a monotone.

I don't think the chapter I read last involved Dust, Amelia and Yoko and I can't really get much of a sense of their characters from this small section. I think part of that is the shortness, but I think another part is how spare this is. The prose feels very blunt and short on details that might inform emotion and create atmosphere. I can respect minimalism, and it works in some places in this to create a strong impact (such as: "She didn't move."), however, overall I feel like I'm not getting a strong sense of depth and connection in the scene. I don't feel like I'm given enough here to immerse myself in the moment.

...Then again, I'm sure much of that has to do with coming in at chapter 23 without much background. The harsh simplicity of it might be quite emotionally painful to someone who has come to know these characters and already feels for them. Nevertheless, I feel like this could benefit from more development in terms of its detail and its emotional resonance.

I wish you luck as you continue writing.

An Enemy Spy
15th May 2013, 7:16 PM
Chapter XXIV: Maddie's Lost Days



It had been a long night for Maddie. She sat by the window of the small run down inn room watching the river sludge by. Ashton had gone to do what he called "Jus' some business". She couldn't help noticing he'd brought a gun.

And then the roaring and the banging of gunshots had happened outside. Whatever he was doing out there had gotten ugly. She hoped he'd been killed.

After she had been caught and Dust had disappeared into the woods, her hands were tied and she was led back through the mountains. After she kicked a Blackshirt in the groin and tried to run for it, her feet were tied and she was carried back to the valley.

They took her straight to the manor and placed her alone in a room.

Maddie looked around nervously. She'd never been in a place like this, with its expensive furniture and portraits on the wall in gilded frames. She imagined that even the cheapest thing here cost more money than she had ever seen in her life.

After several minutes, the door opened. A Machop came in, and behind it was the Baron himself. Maddie gasped. It was never good news when the Baron came to see you personally.

"You're Maddie, are you? The tavern owner's daughter?"

"Y-yes. Um, lord." She stammered.

"I understand you've been through quite the ordeal, Maddie. Being the prisoner of a deranged criminal must have been quite traumatic."

Why was he talking to her like this? Maddie knew that he was well aware of what had actually happened, how could he not be?

"As you might imagine, there has been a bit of a stir here since you were taken away. People have been talking. I have even heard a ridiculous rumor that my son was in fact responsible for the events that occurred that night. Now, you have been in the clutches of a dangerous young man, and your memory may be clouded as to what actually happened that night. I wouldn't want you to go spreading false information."

"You want me to lie for you?" Maddie said. "We both know Dust was innocent."

"Strip down, Maddie."

She took a step back.

The Baron smiled. "I'm going to check you for injuries, nothing more. You have nothing to fear from me."

With reluctance, Maddie undid the laces on her bodice let her dress fall to the floor.

"The undergarments too." The Baron said.

When she was done, the Machop picked it up and took it out of the room.

"Good." The Baron said. He walked around her in a slow circle.

"I understand your mother died some years back. Complications in child birth, I believe."

"You- you know that?" Maddie said.

"I know everything that happens in my valley, Maddie. It was a boy, wasn't it?"

Maddie didn't answer.

"I imagine after four girls, your father was hoping for a male child. How ironic that his son was responsible for his wife's death."

Maddie's eyes welled up. She wished he would stop talking. Why wouldn't he stop talking?

The Baron ran his hand over a bruised area. Maddie winced.

"Light bruising on the body. Nothing serious. What was his name? Your brother's."

His name was Zachary. Maddie knew this, but she didn't want to tell him. He wasn't supposed to know this. Not even Dust knew that. She couldn't bear the thought of the Baron knowing. It would be wrong somehow.

"We didn't name him." She said, choking back a sob. "I don't remember much about it."

That was another lie. It was the single most vivid memory of her life. Even now, she could see it clear as day; the pained screams, the midwives bringing in the buckets of hot water and the rags and her father outside the door and her hugging her knees and then the screaming stopped and there was no crying baby, just the midwife shouting then she came out covered in blood and there was blood everywhere…

When it was over and everyone had left, Maddie slowly approached the bedroom door. Her little hand closed around the knob and turned it, and after that her mind always cut off.

It was summer, so the sun was shining when they buried them. It just seemed so wrong to her, like nature didn't even care. She watched as the men lowered the coffin into the ground into the ground, and then the small coffin after it. She didn't understand why they did that. Why couldn't they have put them both together?

The Baron brushed her messy hair away from her face. Maddie shuddered at his touch.

"You look just like her, Maddie. If something were to happen to you, I'd imagine to your father it would be like living that day all over again."

So that's what all this was about.

"Is that a threat?" she said.

"A man in my position doesn't make threats to a girl in your position. There is simply what I have told you to do, and the understanding of what will happen if you do not comply."

"So I tell your version about what happened, and nobody tries to get revenge on you and we drag Dust's name through the ground even though we both know he did nothing wrong."

He stroked her hair softly. "You're a smart young lady. I can see that. So consider this. Nobody in your village knows that you are back here. As far as anyone but you, me and those who work for me are concerned, you are still out in the wilderness at this very moment. Now, there is all manner of things that could befall a beautiful young woman out in those dangerous woods, so I ask you this: how much do you want to see your family again?"

Maddie didn't say anything.

"Ah, I can still see that little seed of defiance in you." The tone of his voice changed slightly. "You will recall that I mentioned a rumor that my son was somehow the person responsible for your disappearance, rather than the hero who saved you from a violent criminal and brought you back home. I believe it was your sister Bianca who started this. Now, I am not a cruel man, but spreading vicious lies about those whose protection you are all dependent on is against the law, even when the one doing it is a fourteen year old girl."

"Okay." Maddie said. "I'll do whatever you want."

"I knew you would do the right thing. For now, you will be guest in this house. We'll make arrangement tomorrow." He turned and walked out of the room, leaving her alone, naked and miserable.

Shortly after, some female servants came and ushered her to a bathroom. Maddie was ordered to sit in a bathtub as the women poured soap and hot water over her, scrubbing her and washing the dirt and grime of the last few days off her body.

That done, she was taken to a bedroom to spend the night in. There was a robe on the bed. She put it on and sat down. She felt only despair. Dust was gone, and probably dead, and now she was going to have to live out the rest of her life without him, never knowing if he was still out there somewhere.

Maddie was not the kind of girl who cried easily, but now she wept uncontrollably. She didn't cry like the quiet, dignified, beautiful heroines in those novels Bianca loved so much, but like an infant, wailing and sobbing, streaming mucus out her nose that she wiped on the sleeve of her robe until it was sticky and disgusting, and still she cried on.

She cried for Dust, but mostly, she cried for herself. This made her feel even worse, since surely her plight couldn't be as bad as his, so what right did she have for self-pity?

A hand touched her shoulder. Ashton was standing over her.

"Don' worry, luv." He said. "I got jus' the thing to cheer you up."

Maddie tried to move away from him, but Ashton grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet. He moved in. She could feel his breath on her neck. It smelled like alcohol.

"Y'know, Maddie, we never did get to finish our little midnight rendezvous."

"Stay away from me, Ashton." She said.

"Or what?" He said. "Ain't nothin' tha' can interrupt us now. Everyone else in this buildin' works fer me." She tried to push him away, but he took her arm and wrenched it behind her back until it felt like it would twist off. "Now Maddie, that ain't no proper way fer a guest ta behave."

He gently pushed forwards, and Maddie's legs hit the bedframe and she fell backward. Ashton followed her down onto the bed. His lips touched her neck, and his hands grasped her wrists firmly.

It was the single worst night of Maddie's life.

That morning, she was given new clothes to wear and taken home in a carriage driven by the Blackshirt's leader Cyril. She was allowed to go in and see her sisters while her Cyril talked to her father in the other room. After a bit, Cyril came back and led her out by the arm.

An arrangement had been made. In gratitude for being rescued from the wild, Maddie would now live and work in the manor. This actually wasn't an uncommon arrangement. It was an honor for a family to have a daughter working in the Baron's house, and the monthly stipend sent to her father would make up for not having her there to help at the tavern. It made sense that her father would agree to such a deal.

So she was taken back, and instead of being shown to the servant's quarters, she was led back to the room where she had been before. Of course she wasn't actually going to be a maid there. Ashton just wanted a pet, a trophy for his victory.

And when Ashton decided to leave to go out into the world as noble boys his age were supposed to, he took her with her.

And now she was here, watching out the window and wondering if he would even return. She looked at herself in the mirror. She was all gussied up like a proper lady now, with her hair piled up and tied in an intricate knot and wearing a fashionable dress. Just a month ago, she would have dreamed about being able to look like this this.

They had been staying in an upscale hotel, when Ashton had suddenly decided that afternoon that they would be coming here for reasons he didn't feel like explaining. The inn was a dump, filled with degenerates and lowlifes who leered at her and made catcalls as she walked by.

Ashton burst through the door, cursing loudly. He had a black eye and his clothes were all disheveled. He sank into a chair and sighed.

"I need a drink." The accent was completely gone. He almost never used it around it her anymore. Maddie had learned a lot more about Ashton. There was an indoor Ashton and an outdoor Ashton. The outdoor one was his public face, loud and brash, with an accent so fake it made one wonder if he even knew what it was supposed to be.

The other one was quiet and subdued. In many ways, she found even more unsettling when he was like this.

Maddie pulled a bottle of rum from the rickety table and gave it to him. He took a long drink.

"I heard gunshots." Maddie said. "What were you doing out there?"

"Business. Don't worry about it." Ashton said. "Nobody got killed, I think. Just some double-crossing bastard. I was close, Maddie. I was so close. And now I might never know if I succeeded."

She didn't ask what he was talking about. Whatever it was, she knew she wouldn't like the answer.

"And if I didn't, I know that I'm ever going to get another chance." He sunk down. "Do you love me, Maddie?"

"Of course I love you." She lied, "Ashton, you're worrying me."

"Do you love me more than you loved Dust?" This wasn't the first time he'd asked that. Maddie already had her answer ready.

Maddie leaned over him and placed her hands on his shoulders, caressing them gently. "I love you more than anyone in the world. You were the one who saved me from him, remember?"

"Yeah." Ashton said. "Yeah, I did." She suspected that he actually believed that lie now. He had a way of looking at the world from a direction where he was always the hero.

"I know exactly what you need." Maddie said, and she kissed him, passionately, lovingly, and hating herself for every moment of it. Just placate him, she thought, keep him from being upset. She ran her hands through his hair. "Take a bath, darling. I'll be waiting for you. Once he'd shambled off, she sat down on the bed and breathed heavily.

Just keep him happy. Because when Ashton wasn't happy, she wasn't safe. She summoned up the energy to look happy and began to undress.

PatriotWolf
18th May 2013, 11:28 PM
This story is great! Is there any chance I can be put on a PM list of sorts?

An Enemy Spy
20th May 2013, 5:21 AM
Chapter XXV: Dead of Night

Dust sat outside the door in complete silence. He stared at the floor with his head in his hands, waiting for the door to open. He didn't know what the news was going to be, and he dreaded it. Whatever happened, he knew this was all because of him.

Finally, the door opened and Doctor Trotsky came out.

"Yes. At least for now." Trotsky said solemnly. "But I don't know if that will last. If you hadn't teleported into my house, she would be dead now. Come in."

Dust followed him into the room. Amelia lay unconscious on the table.

"Look at her, Dust."

Amelia had never been big, but she'd always had that kind of strong personality that made her seem to tower over you. Now she just looked small and fragile and helpless.

"She's too young to die, Dust." Trotsky said. "Only eighteen years old. A girl like her, she's supposed to live long and happy, bear children and die at a tender old age surrounded by family. So you had better have a damn good explanation for why she's lying on my table in the middle of the night with a bullet wound in her gut."

Dust told him about the note, and everything that had happened that night.

Trotsky paused for a few moments. "So correct me if I'm wrong. You are some kind of fugitive,"

"No!" Dust said, "Well, yes, but I didn't do anything wrong. The guy who wanted to shoot me, he's the bad guy."

"Dust, I don't know what kind of world you come from and I don't really want to know, but you dragged her into it whether you meant to or not. And to think just a few days ago I was keeping you alive."

"I would have gladly been shot instead of her."

"But you weren't, were you? She was." Dust looked down. "Accident or not, you're the one who got her into this." He took Dust by the shoulders. "I don't think you're a criminal, Dust. I see a lot of scumbags in this city and I can tell you aren't one of them. But for your own sake, you have to leave now and not come back. I'm going to have to get back to Amelia, and after that, I'll have to tell her parents whether their daughter is alive or dead. I know you didn't mean any of this to happen, but to them, you'll just be some drifter who got their daughter shot, and I don't think that will end well for you if you're still around. Do you have everything you need?"

Dust nodded.

"Then get out of here. Get out of Ludlow if you have to."

"How am I going to know if she's alive?"

"You won't. That's just something you'll have to live with." He sighed. "Look, if it's any consolation, I think she'll probably pull through. Like a sixty/forty chance, and that's a lot more than she'd have if you hadn't thought to have Yoko bring her here. I don't know if that helps any, but you have to go now."

He led Dust outside and shut the door. Dust set off down the dark street, not knowing what to do or where to go.

He walked by an alleyway and felt a blade pressing into his back.

"Hand over everything you've got." A voice behind him said.

Dust's eyebrow twitched. After everythin he had been through that night, he was not in the mood for this kind of crap. His hand closed around Beedrill's pokeball.

Two minutes later, Dust stalked down the sidewalk, counting his newly acquired money. This was a day he wanted to put behind him.

Sketchie
25th May 2013, 12:05 AM
I am doing a review for the Review game. Please note that words and I don't go well together, but I'll do my best. Anyway- SketchQueen's review of New World, chapter 24!

Opening: It definitely hints that either something bad or foreshadowing will happen. I felt like it was a bit rushed, and a little under detailed. (But then again, I've come in late.)

Dialogue: The conversation between Maddie and the baron is crazy intense and well written. The way the baron is speaking makes it sounds like he's being gentle, but still threatening. And when he says he's not threatening just makes it sound ever more threatening.

Pace: The pace is perfect throughout the chapter. Personally, I think the small blurb between Ashton and Maddie (in the middle) should have been a little more faster, but that's just me. The pacing in the conversation between Maddie and the Baron is just perfect to give it a threatening, dramatic flair.

Spelling/Grammar: The grammar and spelling is pretty good and nothing much sticks out, but there were a couple.


She sat by the window of the small run down inn room watching the river sludge by.

There should be commas separating "small" and "run down." It just makes it harder to read and disrupts flow.


"Take a bath, darling. I'll be waiting for you. Once he'd shambled off, she sat down on the bed and breathed heavily.

Missing the other quotation mark. This is another matter of disrupting flow.

There may be more, but these two stuck out to me the most.

Overall, this chapter is really well written. Although I have absolutely no clue what's going on, I really liked this chapter.

~SQ ;235;

An Enemy Spy
5th June 2013, 2:20 AM
Chapter XXVI: The Lake

The climb was long and treacherous, but he made his way up the mountainside nonetheless. This was a new part of the world, and things were so different here. It was hot for one. Where he was from, tall mountains had snow on their peaks, but here it was as dusty and dry as the desert below.

He camped in the flat areas he could find, and looked up at the sky, at stars he had never seen before. Then in the morning he would get up and continue, barely eating, only sleeping when he could not go any longer without collapsing.

And on he went, spurred on by the thoughts in his head.

Things were so murky now. Ever since he found that creature, that Mewtwo.

It had been wonderful at first. He'd battled challenger after challenger, crushing their pathetic Pokémon with ease. It was fun and easy, and he reveled in his power. Mewtwo had only grown in power as well. Its form, once skeletal and thin, now had flesh on it so you could hardly see the bones. It followed his commands, and nothing could stand in his way. Money, women, glory: they were all his for the taking.

And then the dreams began. Dreams of things he couldn't understand; horrible, dark things.

At first, he ignored them. Such was the price of power, after all. One could hardly expect not to feel the effects of being so close to a psychic Pokémon of such strength, after all. In fact, he began to wonder if he was not gaining some of that power for himself. These thoughts made him happy, and he began to enjoy the nightmares.

And as they grew more and more vivid, his thoughts became less clear.

He was gripped by a powerful compulsion. The urge sent him to another corner of the world, in the deserts of another continent. As his mind deteriorated, he couldn't differentiate between his own thoughts and those from outside. There was no resisting the compulsion. That possibility didn't even exist.

His travels had been long and hard, but he had not slowed down. His body was taxed almost to the breaking point, his hair ragged and his skin sallow. His clothes had been reduced to little more than rags and his eyes were wild like a rabid dog's.

He did not care about or even notice any of this. All that mattered now was his destination, whatever it was.

His scrabbling hands found purchase on a ledge and he pulled himself up. He was on a rocky outcropping in front in front of a sheer cliff face that rose far above him.

The time had come.

Guided by thoughts he was no longer capable of questioning, he reached for the pokeball that contained Mewtwo and released it.

Mewtwo went to the rock wall and placed its hand on the stone.

Yes. This is it.

The trainer felt the hold on his mind weakening. "What is it?"

Mewtwo ignored him. There must be door. Some kind of entrance. They would not want it to be easy to find.

"What are we doing here?"

Silence.

He pointed a finger at the creature. "I order you to tell me what we are doing here!"

Mewtwo turned around. It fixed its cold, cobalt eyes on him.

You do not order me.

It turned back around and began examining the rock again.

"How dare you talk back to me?! I captured you! I am your master!"

You are not even master of yourself, human. It turned back to him. His knees buckled under him and he was forced into a kneeling position. I have put up with you because I needed to recover. And what did you use my power for? Petty battles for your own enjoyment. Taking all the credit for yourself as if you had actually done something. I tire of you, and now I no longer need you. Leave, and don't come back.

"No!" he yelled. "You can't leave! I'm the one who's in charge!" He aimed the pokeball at Mewtwo and shot out its recall beam. The red laser stopped short of Mewtwo and went out. The pokeball fell apart in his hand.

You do not even understand what you are dealing with, human. You don't control me. You never controlled me. I have been the one controlling you all this while. Every action you have taken has been because I willed it. Every dream, every waking thought, dictated by me and me alone. You have no power over me.

"I do have power!" he screamed. He pulled out another ball and summoned a massive scaly toad. "Venusaur, attack!"

The Venusaur did nothing.

A useless effort. I alone command your creatures now.

"Obey my commands!" He screamed hysterically. "I'm the master! Me! You're nothing! You're just a tool!"

Mewtwo whirled around. What did you say?

He opened his mouth to speak, but some unseen force closed them tight. Mewtwo's horrible blue eyes narrowed. The anger hit him like a wave of fire.

I am not your tool, human! I am not your slave! The rocks on the ground slowly began to rise around them. Mewtwo's feet were no longer touching the ground. It towered above him, beautiful and terrifying. Its voice roared in his head with the force of a hurricane. I was going to let you go, and live out what remainder of your pointless existence remained, but you are far too insipid to let live!

Venusaur lifted two vines from the big leafy flower on its back. They coiled around his legs like snakes.

Devour him.

Mewtwo turned back to rock wall, ignoring the screams. I am not a tool. I am no man's plaything. Bright psychic energy built up on its forehead. Mewtwo stood back. I belong to NOBODY!

A lance of energy shot from its forehead and blasted the stone.

Mewtwo sank back to the ground. The rocks suspended in the air clattered around it as they fell.

Through the cloud of dust and debris, there was a hole in the cliff face. There appeared to be a small tunnel inside.

Mewtwo entered. The tunnel was narrow and hewn out of rock. As Mewtwo got deeper in, there was no external source of light, but that was no problem to Mewtwo's highly tuned senses.

This was no ordinary cavern; Mewtwo could feel the power in here. Memories and emotions still lingered here, long after the people they belonged to had faded away.

Something was keeping them here, or perhaps generating them.

It had been hours since Mewtwo had entered the cavern. It spiraled down and down, far under the mountain. Things skittered in the darkness, but Mewtwo paid them no heed. Whatever creatures resided down here, Mewtwo was far more deadly than any of them.

Finally, a ghostly light filled the tunnel. Mewtwo had stepped out into a massive underground chamber.

The ceiling was illuminated by hundreds of bizarre Pokémon, their bodies made of shaped metal and sporting pale sickly blue flames that emitted the soft light filling the vast chamber. Under the lights, cold, still water created a subterranean lake. Its surface was as flat and smooth as glass.

Mewtwo placed one finger onto the lake's surface. A ripple went out, perhaps the first time this water had been disturbed in centuries.

There was a response. Mewtwo could feel it. Something was down there, and it was aware of the trespasser. It called for it.

Mewtwo stepped out onto the water, and waked across its surface to the very center of the lake. The water moved, covering Mewtwo's feet and climbing up its legs. In seconds, it enveloped it whole.

Mewtwo did not react in any way. This was exactly what it had been looking for.

All was still for several seconds, and then Mewtwo vanished under the water's surface. And then, all was as it had been before, save for a few ripples on the lake.

An Enemy Spy
19th December 2013, 1:17 AM
Chapter XXVII: Funeral

The water tasted like it had been collected from a dirty puddle, but sometimes that was the best you could do. Dust guzzled it down and wet his hands. He wiped some of the dirt off of his face.

"Alright, let's see what we've got." He rummaged through the small bag he'd brought with him and proffered its contents to Totodile. "Stale bread, a couple of carrots. That's mine. A slab of suspicious looking meat. That's yours." He took the meat and tossed it to Totodile, who snapped it out of the air.

"We're living like kings, Totodile." He took a bite off one of the carrots and poured some water into the croc's mouth.

Dust leaned back and rested his head on a burlap sack. The whole floor vibrated, but that didn't bother him anymore. He watched the world blur by in front of him. Totodile dragged the smelly meat to him and swallowed it.

"You're disgusting, you know that?"

The croc lay down next to him.

Dust had been moving around the place for a couple of months now. Ludlow wasn't a kind place for someone with no money, and a few nights in the gutter had been long enough for Dust to desire to see open countryside again. So he hopped the first train he found leaving the city, and had been thrown off several hours later.

That was just part of traveling for free, he'd come to understand. After the first few times, he'd figured out how to properly roll when he landed, and it didn't hurt quite so bad now.

What was his goal? He didn't know. Somehow, nothing seemed to matter anymore. He wandered into little towns, ate, bathed, sometimes did some work for money, and then left. Sometimes he slept in a bed; most times he slept on the ground.

This train had been going at breakneck speed for days. Ludlow must have been over thousand miles away by.

The air was cold. Dust hugged himself as the chilly air rushed by. He could see the snowcapped mountains in the distance. He smiled as he saw them. He was almost there.

The sound of voices came from the car next door. There was some shouting and then a scream. From the opening of his car, Dust saw a man being flung off the side of the moving train.

"We gotta go." He recalled Totodile and rushed to the back of the car away from where the voices had been. Before he could open the door to the next car, it opened in front of him, and a mountain wearing a striped shirt stepped through. He grinned at Dust.

The door on the far side burst open, and three other men entered. Two of them looked exactly the same as the one in front of Dust. The third man was smaller and wearing a beat up looking bowler hat. He carried a billy club.

"Got nowhere to go, train hopper."

Dust didn't hesitate for a second. He jumped backward, away from the big man's grabbing arms and threw himself off the train. It was always better to jump off than to be thrown off, and sometimes the crew liked to rough you up a bit before tossing you off the side.

He hit the cold hard ground and rolled down a short incline. He sat up, wheezing and rubbing the parts of him that hurt. He stood up and checked himself over.

"No broken bones. I guess I'm good then."

A couple minutes later, he found the other guy who'd been thrown off. He was laying on the ground.

"Rough day, huh?" he said. "You need some help?"

There was no answer.

"Hey! Are you alright?" He approached the man, and that was when he saw the angle of his neck. "You must have landed wrong." He said solemnly.

He knelt down and started taking off the man's coat. It was cold out, and it wasn't as if he was going to need it anymore. The coat was small on Dust, but it would have to do.

Dust felt something in one of the pockets. He pulled out a pokeball whose center glowed with a yellow light. Dust pressed the button.

A horse like creature with black and white stripes appeared. It looked down at its late master, then up at Dust. It turned away and bounded off into the distance. The pokeball's light faded and went blank. Dust pocketed it. He might need it sometime.

"Alright, let's see what else you had on you."

He rummaged through the coat pockets and pulled out a wallet with no money in it, and a closed locket. Dust pulled it open. There was a picture of a woman inside.

"I wonder who she is." Dust wondered aloud. "Someone you knew, someone you loved? Heh, for all I know you stole this this thing. I wonder who you were anyway. What were you doing hopping trains? See me; I'm on my way to see the Ice Gym. But you, I don't know what you're doing here. Are you on the run? Are you just down on your luck, looking for a new place to call home?"

He looked at the woman in the locket. "I wonder if she knows where you are. She might never know you died out here. Just spending her entire life, waiting for a man who'll never return. See, I have a girl. Her name's Maddie, and she already thinks I'm dead. But I'm going to see her again, I know that for sure. Of course, you probably thought the same thing."

He shivered in the cold air. "And now you're dead. And I'm the only person who will ever know how you died, and I don't even know your name." He thought for a minute. "But you know what? I'm going to remember you. If somebody remembers you, you can't really be gone, can you?"

He released Poochyena from her ball. "Dig a hole big enough to bury him."

Poochyena clawed through the frozen soil. It took a while, but at last there was a hole large enough to satisfy Dust. He released the other two from their balls as well.

"I've never been good at speeches," he said, "but I suppose that one is in order here. We are gathered here today to honor a man. A man whose name we don't know whose life came to an inglorious end from being thrown out the side of a train. In the grand scope of the world, he did not rate much, but he still deserved don't eat him Poochyena! a better fate than this. I don't know who you are or where you came from, but I promise you that you will not be forgotten. Normally there'd be some kind of music played at this part, but I guess we'll just have to do this silently."

He crouched down beside the body, and with some effort and grunting, managed to roll him into the hole. The corpse flopped awkwardly into the grave and landed facedown. After some consideration, Dust decided this was good enough.

He left a wooden stake with a simple epitaph carved into it as a gravestone. Taking the locket out of his pocket, Dust hung it from the stake and walked off into the cold.

Unbeknownst to Dust, a long while later more people came to the gravesite. They didn't honor the man it stood for but they did steal the locket.

Dormant
19th December 2013, 11:51 AM
Sigh... Poor guy. I'm proud that Dust made a funeral for him. He's a great guy unlike Ashley- I mean Ashton! That guy needs to be hang from a gibbit for the sport of his own crows.


Unbeknownst to Dust, a long while later more people came to the gravesite. They didn't honor the man it stood for but they did steal the locket.

:@ People these days, stealing lockets from gravestones and sh*t!