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Thread: Ashes of Johto (Sacred Fire #1) [PG-13]

  1. #51
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    Hello.

    Sorry, I've been kinda busy, finals. The chapters have been excellent! Very descriptive, and though I didn't comment, I've been awaiting the next chapter to come. I don't know, but you have this way with writing that makes it all almost seem real. I can almost see what you write, and actually seeing it would be the only way to make this story better. You've done a good job with introducing each new character, and even better at evolving them. Kim is very interesting, probably my favorite. All the characters are very original, it's interesting how they each evolve and react to each other. I think the only problem would be length, for me, it's too short. But, I read fast, so that might explain it. Other than that, I saw no real problems. But, like I said, reading fast kinda makes mistakes hard to see. Hehe, well, I've said my part. Congrats, good job, can't wait for more! Good luck with the next chapter, I can't wait to see how each character evolves even more in the next chapter!


    Coming Soon....

  2. #52
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    I have been here, it's just i figured you'd probably find it annoying me commenting after every chapter. Anyway, great again and I'm looking forward to the battle, I have mixed feelings about who'll win. Jeff seems to be quietly confident and has a pretty high opinion of himself whilst James is just really angry at Jeff and wants to show him something. Funny thing is, both seem to be sure they'll win. Like I said, can't wait!

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    Chapter 11
    Battle at the Blackthorn Gym

    James and Jeff faced off across the Blackthorn City courtyard, Kim between them. James wanted to beat Jeff, and badly. He had trained hard with his Pokemon over the past five years and, champion or not, he wasn’t going to let Jeff push him around. He was ready when Kim signaled for the battle to begin, and quickly ordered Umbreon to use its agility.

    Umbreon vanished in a blur of light as Ursaring, surprisingly receptive to Jeff’s commands, swiped at it with a heavy forepaw. It was much quicker than the lumbering Ursaring, but James knew that he had to take care to make certain that it didn’t get caught in its paws, because then there would be no escape.

    He pointed toward Ursaring, “Umbreon! Use hidden power!”

    Umbreon reappeared an instant after the command was given, its eyes flashing, the air seeming to shimmer and bend. Ursaring roared as it was hit by the stunning blue shockwave from Umbreon’s hidden power, its fur standing on end.

    “Ursaring! Recover your footing and use hyper beam!”

    “Dodge it Umbreon!”

    Ursaring dropped to all fours, an energetic corona forming around its muzzle as it fired a hyper beam at the agile Umbreon. It flexed and jumped as the ground beneath it detonated, leaving a crater and a rising cloud of dust. It hit the ground behind Ursaring and spun around to deliver a devastating tackle attack.

    “Use a frustration attack!” Jeff yelled at the top of his lungs. “Knock Umbreon down!”

    “Don’t let it catch you! Double team!”

    Umbreon abruptly split into a dozen faux images as Ursaring lashed out with a blow that would have been almost enough to remove Umbreon’s head from its spine. But it was a clean miss, and now it was surrounded by the double team attack. Jeff seemed nonplussed, “Spin and use your flamethrower, Ursaring! Don’t be fooled!”

    A long ribbon of flame issued from Ursaring’s mouth, and it moved in a lazy circle around in a circle, mirror images vanishing as it went. Then were all gone at once, and Umbreon was on the ground howling in pain and surprise. Seeing his opportunity, Jeff ordered, “Now body slam before it can recover!”

    Using its powerful back legs as springs, Ursaring hurled its bulk into the air, intending to bring its full weight crashing down on the stunned Umbreon. But it was too late, Umbreon was on its feet a bare moment before Ursaring landed, and the attack was a clean miss. The flamethrower attack had temporarily stunned Umbreon, but it hadn’t been hot enough to raise much more than nasty red welts under its fur.

    Jeff ordered another hyper beam, then a second frustration attack. Again and again, Umbreon ducked and weaved around its clumsy blows, occasionally nipping at its paw or tackling it. Ursaring’s barrel chest was heaving now, it was obvious that it wasn’t used to such a prolonged battle. Any moment now, Jeff would call it back so that it could get a second wind.

    James wasn’t about to let him have that chance, “Don’t let it get away, Umbreon! Use mean look!”

    Jeff had been reaching for Ursaring’s Pokeball, but seeing Umbreon crouch, its eyes glowing, gave him pause. Grimacing, he slowly moved his hand away, “Have it your way. Ursaring, use crunch!”

    Still concentrating on its mean look attack, Umbreon was caught unprepared as Ursaring’s jaws snapped down hard on its back. Umbreon squealed and began to struggle, but Ursaring held fast, its paws scrabbling about in the dirt as it fought the flailing Umbreon. Ursaring backed up and crouched, and Umbreon was pulled slowly down onto its side, its eyes bulging and its legs kicking, unable to defeat its foe’s superior strength. James tried to order an agility, but there was no escaping those powerful jaws.

    “Now finish it! Dynamic punch!”

    Ursaring dragged Umbreon bodily from the ground, still holding tight to Umbreon as if it were a struggling silver fish. It curled its paw into a fist, which began to glow furiously, the other paw pulling Umbreon away from its teeth to hold it by the scruff of the neck.

    James ordered a final, desperate quick attack, but it was too late. The dynamic punch smashed the screeching Umbreon full in the face and hurled it nearly thirty feet through the air, its paws windmilling in the air as it went. It struck the stone wall that surrounded the courtyard with a sickening crunch and slumped to the ground, finished in one, punishing final blow. Kim crouched to examine the fallen Pokemon, then raised an arm toward James, “Umbreon is unable to battle! Ursaring is the winner!”

    James hurried over to Umbreon and quickly pressed its ribs, back and neck to make certain that nothing was broken. Umbreon was out cold, but it was breathing steadily, and there didn’t seem to be any broken bones. Rising slowly, he grimly recalled his Pokemon, “You did your best, Umbreon. Scyther, it’s your turn now!”

    Scyther leapt to face Ursaring, its powerful wings fluttering in the breeze, the twin blades on its forearms glittering. Ursaring’s powerful chest expanded once in a tired gasp, then it dropped to all fours in a fighting stance. The second round was ready to begin.

    * * *

    Far from the battle at the Blackthorn Gym, Dr. Murakami and Elder Saitou carefully descended the steps to Nakashima’s cellar in Eben Village. Pidgeot was there waiting for them, its good wing flapping frantically. It seemed to Saitou that Pidgeot somehow knew about its friend Kara Suzuki’s abduction by the Mightyena pack. Had it heard the commotion the previous night?

    Murakami adjusted his spectacles and put a single, calming hand on Pidgeot’s head. The bird tried to turn and peck hard at the old man’s hand, but Murakami’s grip tightened and kept it from turning its head far enough to do any damage.

    Saitou moved back a little as Murakami knelt to tend to Pidgeot’s injured wing, “Careful now, Kazuhiro. It looks very upset.”

    “Don’t worry, it knows better than to try and peck me,” Murakami said patiently as he unwrapped Pidgeot’s injured wing. When he was finished, he pulled a syringe from his bag and tested it, “Help me hold it so that I can give it this cortisone shot.”

    Saitou moved forward and held onto the struggling Pidgeot as best he could while Murakami prepared to plunge the syringe into its shoulder. Feeling the bird’s powerful muscles, he reflected that the doctor’s plan to use it to help the Exterminators against the Mightyena pack wasn’t such a bad one after all. Injured as it was, Pidgeot was almost strong enough to lift him from the floor and fling him against the wall, and he was a full grown man.

    The injection was delivered to Pidgeot’s muscle, which caused it to squawk loudly and try to buffet both of them with its good wing. Murakami only gritted his teeth and ignored it and dropped the spent syringe back into his bag, “That should do it, I think. Its wing has healed quite a bit faster than I thought it would.”

    “Do you really think it will obey you, Takuya? You’ve never even trained Pokemon before.”

    Murakami nodded, “It will obey me because it wants to find Kara and the rest of the villagers who were taken by that Mightyena pack. It wants to do its part.”

    He patted it once on the wing, then recalled it to its Pokeball. Tucking the ball at his belt, he started back toward the steps, “Come on. If we hurry, we can catch Stephen and the others.”

    Elder Saitou hurried up the stairs with Dr. Murakami, still convinced that they were making a mistake.

    * * *

    As soon as Kim ordered the second round to begin, Jeff recalled Ursaring. Fatigued as it was, he wasn’t about to let it be caught in the open again. He nodded toward Cyndaquil, which had been watching the battle from Kim’s side, “I believe in you Cyndaquil. Show me your best in this battle. Now ignite your flame, and use flamethrower!”

    Cyndaquil’s flame abruptly roared to life as it leapt from the sidelines to face Scyther. James jumped a little in surprise, but only nodded toward Scyther, “Get ready, Scyther. You know what to do.”

    Cyndaquil sent a fire ball hurling toward the vulnerable Scyther with a squeak. But just as the fire attack looked like it was going to strike home, it dissipated against a wall of light. Cyndaquil squeaked in surprise, and James smirked, “What, you didn’t think I would take fire attacks into account? Scyther, swords dance, then a fury cutter attack!”

    Scyther’s began to spin, its wings beating hard against the wind as it spun faster and faster. Cyndaquil tried another flamethrower attack, but it turned out to be a clean miss as Scyther used the momentum from its wings to leap high into the air.

    Cyndaquil didn’t give up though, the fire on its back flaring hotter and higher as it tried to knock its opponent out of the sky with a ribbon of flame. Scyther dodged in and out between the flame, its right arm cocked back as it prepared to lash out at the fire mouse. Then it was on the ground, the fading sunlight catching its blades as it lashed out with its fury cutter attack.

    “Cyndaquil! Smokescreen! Get out of there!”

    The air abruptly filled with choking smoke, and James temporarily lost sight of Scyther. He spent an anxious moment scanning the smoke before he spotted its silhouette, its blades still windmilling wildly about in the gloom. He could see Cyndaquil now too, angling around behind the crazed Scyther, ready to strike with another flamethrower. James drew a breath to call out to Scyther, but caught a lungful of smoke instead. Hacking and wheezing, he managed to call out, “It’s behind you! Use pursuit!”

    Scyther heard the command, but didn’t obey until it was too late. Determined to avoid Scyther’s light screen, Jeff called for a flame wheel attack. The charging Cyndaquil caught it from behind, the flame that had engulfed the fire mouse spreading to the surprised Scyther as it hit. It screeched in pain and surprise and performed a pained hop-skip dance in an effort to extinguish the fire.

    Cyndaquil had continued past Scyther and now skidded to a halt behind it to spin back around. It was still engulfed in fire from its flame wheel attack, and now it charged again. The grass under its paws withered and blackened as it charged again, the fire even whiter and hotter than before. It leapt and struck Scyther about the middle, a long tail of flame left in its wake. The fire exploded outward in a shower of sparks when it hit, both Pokemon now blazing merrily amid the detonation.

    James looked on in shock as Cyndaquil continued to hang tight to the rapidly weakening Scyther, adding to its misery with a close range flamethrower. He had just seen Cyndaquil’s flame wheel become flare drive, the most powerful attack in a fire Pokemon’s arsenal. He had never even see Cyndaquil use fire blast, let alone flare drive. Now, the match was almost over, and he was losing. It was a minor miracle that Scyther was even still standing.

    He wasn’t finished yet though. Quickly recovering his composure, he shouted, “Scyther, use your wings to extinguish those flames! Then use a slash attack!”

    Scyther’s wings began to beat rapidly, the fire guttering out as Cyndaquil was flung to the ground. It was obvious that Scyther was nearly spent, but there was enough left in its tank for a few more attacks. James smiled; he had a newfound respect for Scyther’s strength and stamina. True, it had been difficult to handle, as always, but there was no denying its power. Scyther pushed Cyndaquil back with a series of rapid slashes, forcing Jeff to call for an agility to dodge the attacks. Now Scyther used quick attack, and Cyndaquil had to leap quickly out of the way to avoid being badly cut by it glittering scythes.

    Scyther’s wings began to flutter madly as it lifted from the ground and charged Cyndaquil, one of its blades extended like a spear. It seemed to be all over the field, the margin of error growing steadily smaller for Cyndaquil as it struck again and again, its burns temporarily forgotten.

    “Double team, Scyther! Get it from all directions!”

    Cyndaquil had been powering up for one more flamethrower attack, but now there were eight Scythers circling the field at high speed, making it almost impossible for Cyndaquil to discern its true foe. They converged to strike as one, knocking it high into the air to fall back to earth with a devastating thud.

    Cyndaquil lay prone on the ground for a moment, tried to struggle back to its feet, then collapsed and was finished.

    “Cyndaquil is unable to battle! The score is tied 1 to 1!”

    Jeff was still for a moment, a half-smile laying dormant on his lips, then recalled Cyndaquil with his borrowed Pokeball, “Gotta give you credit James, that was a nice battle. I underestimated that Scyther of yours. Now let’s finish this up, go Ursaring!”

    He pulled Ursaring’s Pokeball from his belt and hurled it, Ursaring emerging in a burst of white light. Scyther and Ursaring squared off, both of them still breathing heavily from fatigue. Regardless of the outcome, James knew that the match would be over soon.

    He steeled himself, “It’s tired, Scyther! Let’s finish this quick! Use a fury cutter attack!”

    Scyther screeched, its wings fluttering as it raised his blades. Ursaring crouched in a weary fighting stance. But there was to be no attack. Its emerald carapace still blackened from the terrible burns suffered during its battle with Cyndaquil, Scyther abruptly cried out and collapsed, its blades and wings splayed out on the ground.

    Silence descended over the field as James stared in disbelief at his fallen Pokemon. Kim still hadn’t called the match before James’s arm raised automatically and he called Scyther back to its Pokeball. Shaking his head, he turned to head back toward the Blackthorn Gym, not bothering to speak as he brushed past Kim.

    He could hear Jeff coming up behind him to say something, but he just quickened his pace. He had nothing left to say.

    * * *

    Kim just stood and watched as James stalked off toward the Blackthorn Gym, still stunned by the intensity of the ‘practice battle.’ Jeff hurried up to James’s side and put a hand on his shoulder, his other hand extended for a handshake. James just gave him a rough push and vanished into the gym, the door slamming shut behind him.

    Jeff stood looking at the entrance to the gym for a moment, his hand still outstretched. Then he lowered it and shook his head, “He fought a great battle, he has nothing to be ashamed of. I really underestimated his Scyther.”

    Kim sighed, “He really wanted to beat you, Jeff. I think he felt like he had something to prove against you, and then you went and beat him with his own Pokemon. That’s got to hurt.”

    “Well, I hope that he took something positive from that battle,” Jeff said as he recalled Ursaring. He pressed the Pokeball into Kim’s hand, “And I hope you learned something too.”

    Kim took the Pokeball, “Ursaring did really well for you in that battle. It seemed really well trained. How did it know so many attacks?”

    “I guess that it used to have a trainer, but went wild when the bells tolled,” Jeff mused. “Even a Pokemon that goes wild will remember its training in a battle situation.”

    “Wow, I had no idea.”

    Kim spent a moment trying to imagine Ursaring’s old trainer. She pictured a tough, middle-aged man with a solid jaw and a heavy beard hiking through the Mortar mountain range, Ursaring at his side. Had his heart been broken like hers when the bells tolled?

    She held the Pokeball for a moment longer, secretly promising to herself and the unknown trainer that she would take good care of Ursaring from now on. She clipped the Pokeball on her belt and turned toward to the mansion to see Claire and a man she didn’t recognize come striding out to the courtyard. He was only a little taller than Claire, a blue bandanna matching sea-blue eyes and light-brown hair.

    Jeff smiled when he saw them, “Oh hi Morty, I didn’t see you arrive.”

    Morty waved, “Yeah Jeff, you were in the middle of your battle when I got here. Not a bad win, if I say so myself.”

    “Thanks, I thought so too,” Jeff gestured toward Kim. “This is Kim Saitou, we grew up together in Eben Village. She’s just started training again full-time.”

    “Hi Kim, I’m Morty Aikawa of the Ecruteak Gym,” he took hold of Kim’s hand and shook it. As he did, a Gengar rose slowly from the ground behind him, causing Kim to blanch a bit. Morty laughed, “That’s Gengar. We’ve been training together for a long time now.”

    Kim looked down at Ursaring’s Pokeball, “Wow, that’s great. I just met Ursaring.”

    “So you really did just start training? Did you have any Pokemon before the bells tolled?”

    Kim nodded, “Yes, I had three Pokemon, but they all went wild.”

    “Hmm, that’s really interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a person training again after losing their Pokemon to the bells. Have you ever encountered Entei or Suicune in the wild?”

    Kim started a little bit, wondering why Morty would ask about Suicune and Entei. Of course, she *had* encountered Suicune. She thought back to her encounter with Suicune near the Mortar mountain range, shortly before her Quilava, Murkrow and Furret had gone wild. She remembered how bitter she had felt under its gaze, and the apology she had later shouted out over Lake Rage, “Yeah, I’ve met Suicune.”

    Morty was silent for a moment, then he nodded and turned toward Jeff and Claire, “I think we might have found the last one, guys.”

    Jeff’s gaze, usually benign, suddenly became sharp, “Are you sure, Morty? What about James?”

    “James? You mean the guy you were battling just now? I suppose it’s possible. We’ll have to find out if he’s ever met Entei or Suicune himself.”

    Kim spoke up, “What exactly are you guys talking about?”

    “We’re talking about the key to putting an end to Ho-oh’s anger and restoring balance to the world, Kim,” Morty said. “Go and find your friend James. We’ll tell you more when we’re all together. Everybody deserves to hear this.”

    The group turned to head back into the gym, Kim in tow. The battle was over, now it was time for answers.

  4. #54
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    Good god I'm, cool. I knew there was something about the legendaries in Ecruteak...

    Anyway, the battle was great, Ursaring had like 6 moves! Mind you, James is a bit of a noob using Double Team! :P

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by ludicolo_kid View Post

    Anyway, the battle was great, Ursaring had like 6 moves! Mind you, James is a bit of a noob using Double Team! :P
    LOL, that's what I was thinking...o'course if Pokemon where real, I'd be using double team all the time *Kage Bunshin no Jutsu*.



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    Lol if Pokemon were real the world would be ruled by Double Teaming noobs. And with the so many moves, people would just ***** Gar with like: Shadow Ball/Thunderbolt/Focus Bomb/Energy Ball/HP Ice/Will-o-Wisp/Hypnosis/Explosion

    Or then maybe I'm being ridiculous, but find a feasible counter for that! LOL.

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    Well, obviously, you have to be able to train the Pokemon to use those moves. And I don't feel bad about having James use double team, since it works differently here than in the game.

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    Yeah, the whole battle system was really cool. I've never watched the anime, but I'd guess it's similar to that.

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    Who cares what it would be like in the real world. If it was that noobish, it wouldn't be an attack in the first place.

    I apoligise. I've been a bit of a lurker. But I've read. And I love what you're doing. James' reaction to his loss was amazing, and the battle itself was excellently done. I still can't wait for Kim to come out of her shell, and now we have some MORE mystery added to the story.

    Iota
    "Writing doesn't require drive. It's like saying a chicken has to have drive to lay an egg." ~ John Updike


  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by ludicolo_kid View Post
    And with the so many moves, people would just ***** Gar with like: Shadow Ball/Thunderbolt/Focus Bomb/Energy Ball/HP Ice/Will-o-Wisp/Hypnosis/Explosion

    Or then maybe I'm being ridiculous, but find a feasible counter for that! LOL.
    Safeguard, Destiny Bond.

    Damn Hrist, that battle was pwesome. I've never seen Ash feel for broken bones on Pikachu after a match.
    But, I loved that last part the most (the cliffhanger after the SiCkeSt batle of all time). I had a grin from ear to ear . Another twist = Me Likes.



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    I was only joking about the DT thing btw but w/e.

    Anyway, come on next Chapter please!

    May I be so bold as to ask how many there will be in total?

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    New chapter is maybe... 40 percent complete.

    At a guess... 15-16 chapters and an epilogue. I just did a count in my head.

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    Oh good, so there's still a few more to go. In a weird way, I want to know what happens in the ending and how it finishes, but I don't want it to stop.

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    I believe I'm going to enjoy this read.
    There was alot here before. Sadly, it's all gone...

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    Well, it took a while to finish this one. :P Funny how characters change from your initial conception of them. But there's a certain continuity to James that makes him my favorite character. Knowing what he knows, I think I would be a little frustrated too.

    Promise that Chapter 13 will be done much more quickly.

    Chapter 12
    The Bells Toll

    The world as everybody knew it ended at 1:22 pm on a summer’s day, the era of friendship between man and Pokemon concluding suddenly and completely, with chaos to descend soon afterward.

    To that point, life had gone on as normal. In Kanto, Joe Lee was crowned the Indigo League Champion. Officials from the nation’s several regions were in the third day of parliamentary sessions. Professors Elm and Oak were meeting in Elm’s laboratory in New Bark Town.

    When the bells tolled, it sounded like a low, rolling succession of booms that spread slowly over first Johto, then Kanto, Orre, Shinou and Hoenn, then every nation of the world. What happened next is subject to wild hearsay, fragmented stories and rampant speculation.

    Pokemon turned on their trainers during battles, threw them from their backs in the skies, and launched vicious attacks from the forests and the fields. Many Pokemon abandoned their trainers the moment that the bells tolled, often bursting from their Pokeballs and either attacking or quickly vanishing into the wilderness. Sometimes there was a brief delay between the tolling of the bells and the inevitable attack, but even that was rare.

    The remains of a middle-aged breed named Masayoshi Kojima were found in his house in Cianwood City not long after the catastrophe struck. He had been mauled and left to die by what had once been a docile Furret.

    A huge explosion shook Hoenn two days when a pack of Manectrics overloaded the six generators in the Mauville Power Plant. Mauville City burned to the ground, and the ensuing fire would rage unchecked for almost a week.

    Large swaths of land became nearly impassable as packs of Pokemon attacked anybody trying to pass through their territory. Weather patterns became unpredictable, with arid regions like Orre periodically suffering bizarre blizzards and Shinou devastating droughts.

    Panic swept through most of the nation. With only a weak defense force to keep order, the government turned to organizations like Cipher to quell the violence. This they did, becoming unlikely heroes in the process as they undertook Pokemon extermination campaigns to clear major railways such as the Saffron – Goldenrod Magnet Train connection while defending the cities from further attacks. Three years later, Cipher would capture a majority in the national parliament.

    Now, four days after the bells, Morty Aikawa stood just outside the Ecruteak Gym, his arms crossed. The weather had been poor for the last three days, black clouds hovered over Ecruteak City, and there were periodic flashes of lightning. A young man, not much than a boy really, was coming up the path from the city with a Meganium at his side and his hat slung low over his eyes. He considered the man’s arrival the first piece of good news he had had since the bells in the Tin Tower had begun to toll.

    When Jeff Hibiki arrived at the entrance to the gym, the two men grasped hands, and Morty said, “Gengar said you were coming, but I didn’t know whether to believe it or not. Every road is dangerous Jeff, I’m glad you’re here.”

    Jeff walked into the gym with Morty, Gengar floating just behind. Even at only seventeen years old, he towered over the older Morty, his head bowing awkwardly under the door frame as he went. He said, “I was home in Eben when I heard the bells tolling. Does it mean what I think?”

    The pair strode into a cramped study piled to the ceiling with dusty texts, computer disks and pieces of parchment. Morty stopped to riffle through a shelf full of family texts, sighing, “I don’t know. The legends all say that the tolling of the crystal bells in the Tin Tower are supposed to signal Ho-oh’s return, and for all I know, they have. But I don’t know what to make of these reports of Pokemon going wild. Ho-oh was supposed to return when the hearts of humans and Pokemon became one.”

    Jeff responded quietly. “Ho-oh‘s returned to earth, but I don’t think it’s forgiven us. It’s here to punish us for something.”

    Morty’s jaw dropped open a little. The metal bells in the Tin Tower had only rung once before, and that had also been to signal danger. He still remembered the hollow tinkling noise that they had made as he charged up the stairs to the top of the tower to discover that the sacred crystal bells had been taken by thieves.

    When one of the bells had shattered, it had been enough to stir the Pokemon in the surrounding area to madness. It was only Suicune’s timely intervention that returned the bells to grace that saved Ecruteak City from destruction. This time, it hadn’t just been the metal bells. The crystal bells had tolled a few, booming notes that seemed wholly uncharacteristic of their small size. Ho-oh had returned to earth at last.

    Jeff dragged Morty back from his reverie, “If we want to find out what’s going, the first thing we might want to do is go to the old tower, the one that was burned out three-hundred years ago.”

    ”Why go there? What about the Tin Tower?”

    “No,” Jeff shook his head, and turned toward the window. The burned-out tower was clearly visible amid the black clouds, “I don’t know what it is, but something tells me that we should go there first. There’s definitely something there. Don’t you feel it?”

    Morty did feel it. Now that he thought about it, he was surprised that he hadn’t noticed it earlier. It seemed to be rolling from the burned-out tower in waves, like the rippes of an ocean.

    Jeff said, “We’ll find what we’re looking for there.”

    And they did.

    * * *

    Kim walked slowly up to the northeastern wing of the Blackthorn Gym, where she had dropped her bags with James when they had first arrived. She hoped that Umbreon, Cyndaquil and Scyther were okay after the beating they had taken, but she hoped that James was alright as well. The last week had brought a lot of anger boiling to the surface in the guy, and losing to Jeff hadn’t helped matters at all.

    When she arrived, she knocked tentatively at the heavy oak door that marked their room, “James, it’s Kim. Can I come in?”

    She waited a few moments for him to answer, then knocked again. When he remained silence, she twisted the knob and stuck her head in. James was sitting on the bed with his legs crossed, his jaw working soundlessly as he played with the dagger he kept in his bag.

    When Kim walked in, he shoved it quickly back into his bag, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you knocking. What do you want?”

    “I wanted to make sure that you’re Pokemon are alright.”

    James shrugged, “They have a Pokemon recovery center or something in the basement. I left Umbreon and Scyther there with the computers. Cyndaquil is still with Jeff.”

    “Aren’t you worried about them?”

    “Yeah I’m worried about them,” James grunted. “But I’ve had other things on my mind lately.”

    Kim walked over and peered into James’s open bag, where the dagger lay on top of a pile of clothes. Only a week ago, he had told her that he wanted to talk to Jeff more than anything in the world. Now he had other things on his mind, like leaving, she guessed.

    “It seems like you started being preoccupied right around when we met Jeff.”

    “Yeah well, he’s not what I expected, that’s for sure,” James said sourly. “Anyway, it’s about time that I get going. I’ll stop at Eben and collect my Pidgeot, then I’m going out to finish what I started. I’ve waited too long already.”

    Kim frowned, “You came all the way here, and now you’re just going to pack up and leave you happened to lose a Pokemon battle? You’re not even going to hear what he has to say?”

    “Look, I’m done with that guy alright?” James growled. “He has nothing to say that I want to hear.”

    “Oh shuttup and stop acting like a child!” Kim snapped. James paused for a moment, surprised at the sudden outburst. She hesitated, already regretting her words, but then pressed on, “Weren’t you the guy who told me a week ago that there are too many angry people in the world, and not enough people trying to do good? Why don’t you start living by those words, huh?”

    She walked around the bed and pressed her face up to his. He was quite a bit taller than her, but she didn’t care, “I threw away ten years of my life being angry at Pokemon after the bells tolled. But you know, at least I had a good reason. You’re just angry because Jeff called you out on being a lazy trainer, and then proved it by beating you in a fair fight!”

    James’s eyes flared up at this, “Yeah? And what do you know about Pokemon training anyway?”

    “You know what? You do know a lot more about training than I do at this point. Now it’s time for you to act like it,” Kim hissed. “You know what the last question on the Pokemon licensing exams used to be? It was, ‘If you lose a battle, how will you react?’ Kids who acted like spoiled brats when they lost didn’t get to train Pokemon.”

    “So what do you want me to do?” James asked coldly.

    “I want you to come with me and at least hear what they have to say.”

    He seemed to consider it for a moment, his expression stony. For a moment, Kim thought he would give in to his dislike for Jeff and just pack up and leave. But finally, he took a long, deep breath. Without another word, he turned and left the room, leaving Kim to herself for a moment. She thought about the day James found her on the path, and what he had said, “I think that you’re a very angry person, Kim, and misplaced anger makes you capable of more than you think.”

    He had been right, hadn’t he? Hadn’t she been so angry that she was willing to shoot first him, then Ursaring? Now their roles were reversed, and as she steadily broke down that façade of total control, Kim realized that there was a strange madness behind those normally placid eyes. It occurred to her that he really was deadly serious about finding and killing Masamune Miyai, that even as he laughed, joked and dispensed his own brand of peculiar wisdom, he was capable of unspeakable acts. She wondered if she had begun to unmask a killer and, for the first time, she was afraid of him.

    * * *

    Jeff sat waiting in Claire’s study with Morty and Claire, arms crossed, a hot cup of coffee sitting untouched on her desk. Arcanine dozed at his feet, and he found himself stroking its fur absently. Gengar and Dragonair were there too, with the grinning apparition periodically bursting from bookshelves, the floor and light fixtures to pull faces at the assembled trainers.

    Finally, Kim entered the study with James. James still looked sullen from his defeat, his hands stuffed in his pockets. Jeff didn’t make any move to greet him this time. He could tell that the kid had never trained competitively. During his journeys across Johto, he had learned that a trainer’s grace after a defeat was probably their most important quality.

    It had been hard for him to travel for nearly a year, only to lose in the qualifying round of the Silver Conference. James would just have to learn how to deal with losing.

    Morty nodded toward James, “You must be James. I’m Morty, I used to lead the Ecruteak City gym. It’s nice to meet another trainer.”

    James sat down heavily on the couch, “Nice to meet you too.”

    Claire was given James a strange look, and Jeff was suddenly struck by the same feeling that had earlier hit Kim. He felt like James didn’t belong there, and it made his stomach twist a little with discomfort. Despite that, he said softly, “How are your Pokemon, James?”

    “They’ll be alright.”

    “I’m glad to hear that.”

    There was a moment of silence, then Claire piped up, “James, Kim, we asked for you because it’s time for an exchange of information. Morty, Jeff and I have spent almost ten years trying to uncover the details of the incident that brought about the tolling of the bells over the world. Our goal is to one day reverse the effects and allow humans and Pokemon to live together in peace once again.”

    Morty looked James and Kim in the eyes and said, “The world is out of balance, guys, and Ho-oh is angry because of it.”

    That was the understatement of the century, Jeff mused silently as Morty continued speaking. Once, humans had attacked and burned Ho-oh’s tower in Ecruteak City to the ground in an effort to harness Ho-oh’s power. Three innocent Pokemon had died in that fire, and Ho-oh had called upon the powers of the earth and its own strength to reincarnate them. They had roamed the earth as the spirits of storm, wind and fire, agents of Ho-oh who had been tasked with watching mankind and preparing them for the day that the rainbow phoenix could return.

    But the timing had been thrown off by some sort of event, one even more significant than the theft of Ho-oh’s crystal bells from its tower some years ago. With all the research they had done in the intervening ten years, they could still only hazard a guess at what Ho-oh meant for humankind. Without knowing what had sparked its anger in the first place, it would be difficult if not impossible to set things right again.

    When Morty had finished speaking, Jeff asked softly, “James, in your travels over the past tens year, have you encountered Suicune, Raikou or Entei?”

    James’s eyes remained inscrutable, but Jeff thought he saw a shadow pass over his expression. His immediate impression was that James was about to admit to seeing something, but he only shook his head and leaned back into the couch. Jeff felt the urge to call him a liar, but why would he lie about something like that?

    Morty frowned at James, apparently wondering the same thing, “Well, we know that Kim has seen Suicune, anyway. That only leaves Entei unaccounted for.”

    This time, James’s eyes definitely flashed. Jeff wondered if that meant he had seen Entei after all. After a moment, James spoke, but only to ask, “What do you mean unaccounted for?”

    Jeff responded quietly, “There are very few trainers left in the world. We think that Ho-oh means for three trainers to unite with Entei, Ho-oh and Suicune and proves the worthiness of humanity to unite with Pokemon once again. We had hoped that, since Kim has seen Suicune, you had see Entei.”

    James suddenly started upright, “What do you mean she’s seen Suicune? When was that?”

    Kim spent a few minutes relating her account of meeting Suicune in the forest ten years before and losing her Pokemon. Jeff detected some pain in her voice, and his heart went out to her. There had been a lot of hurt in this world since the bells had tolled. Losing a Pokemon was like losing family, he knew that from firsthand experience.

    When Kim had finished, James frowned, “You never told me that you met Suicune, Kim.”

    “Well,” she flushed. “It was kind of a personal experience.”

    “Do you have any idea how rare Suicune is, Kim? Do you have any idea how important that is?”

    Kim’s eyes narrowed, “Look James, what I guess what it comes down to is that it was a long time ago, and it was a very personal experience. I’ve only known you for about a week, and it wasn’t something that just comes up, okay?”

    There was a moment of pained silence as James looked betrayed before his face went back to being a blank slate. Whether she knew it or not, whatever gap that had been filled between the two over the past week was now open wide again. Jeff wondered if it would be closed again anytime soon.

    “Well, if it was personal, that’s fine,” James said in a dangerous, hushed voice. Kim sighed inwardly, she could recognize that tone of voice a hundred yard off. He was closing up.

    The group would talk a little longer, with very little progress being made. Then they broke off and went their separate ways for a time. But first, Jeff stopped Kim and said quietly, “Our little feud has gone on far enough. I think it’s about time that I clear the air with him. He knows a lot more than he’s letting on, and we need find out what that is. Will you help me?”

    Kim nodded, and the pair headed outside to confront James one last time.

    * * *

    It took only a day for Stephen’s Exterminators to find the Mightyena den. They had dealt with this pack before, it seemed that a few of them had managed to slink away the last time they had come this way, only to return and rebuild the group. A few of the mothers were outside the cave now with their pups; the villagers would be in the back of the den.

    They had moved quickly, but Stephen had a feeling that they were too late to save at least one of the poor souls who had been taken. He just hoped and prayed that it hadn’t been his little Kara.

    Drawing his pistol and a combat knife, so much less efficient than the automatic rifles they had lost at the power plant, he said, “Kim’s not here, but we’re going to play it like we always do. Don’t go freelancing in there, and try to conserve ammunition. If I find my daughter with a bullet wound from a stray shot, I’m not kidding when I say I’ll break the neck of whoever did it. Otherwise, kill anything with four legs and fur, got it?”

    They nodded, and Stephen knew that they understood. He gestured, and the group crept out of the bushes to take down the Mightyena gathered at the mouth of the den. The slaughter had begun.

  16. #66
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    Well worth the wait. We were given a little more insight to the plot of the story, yet we (the audience) is still left in suspense, so far. I wonder how this story will wrap up in just 3-4 chapters time.

    Can't wait for the next chapter. Seph258 says "hi."

    BTW, I think you need to reword the following line, maybe add the words just because somewhere in there...:

    Kim frowned, “You came all the way here, and now you’re just going to pack up and leave you happened to lose a Pokemon battle? You’re not even going to hear what he has to say?”



  17. #67
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    Awesome, basically what Miz said. James is quite a confusing character with his mood swings. I like how we are now starting to get more of an idea of the plot, but still have no clue how it'll end despite being so close to the end.

  18. #68
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    James is a proud, but extremely secretive, guy. Jeff offended him back in the woods, and he hasn't forgotten that. He also knows nearly the entire story behind the bells tolling, save a few details, and he was a little ****** that Kim (who he trusts a lot more than Jeff) hid something he considered important from him.

    Oh, and did I mention that Ashes of Johto is part of a three-part arc called "Sacred Fire?" (I think I did back at the beginning). There are two stories to go after this one.

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hrist[ALT] View Post

    Oh, and did I mention that Ashes of Johto is part of a three-part arc called "Sacred Fire?" (I think I did back at the beginning). There are two stories to go after this one.
    , yes, yes you did. . Can't stop smiling...too excited.



  20. #70
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    Weak.

    So, I wrote an entire chapter on Thursday, only to end up hating it and rewriting a big chunk of it on Friday. I hated the rewrite even more than the original, so I ended up trashing it and starting over entirely. Now I'm quite happy with the re-re-written version, but I don't have time to finish it before I go on vacation for a week.

    Sorry!

    But I promise that I'll be writing whilst on vacation, so I may just finish the fic while hanging out in Kyoto. Oh, and it's my birthday, and I'm 24. =) Yay!

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    Happy birthday! I just got back from holiday too, can't wait until your back with more.

    Completely forgot it's a three part series.

  22. #72
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    Happy B-Day doll.

    Remember, your hard core fans will wait months for the newest chapter. But you wouldn't make us wait that long...right?...



  23. #73
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    Funny how much a chapter can change over multiple rewrites. I think I'm happy though. =)

    Chapter 13
    Old Promises Now Kept

    There was no resistance when Stephen and the rest of the Exterminators opened fire from the cover of the tree line. Stephen’s revolver jumped in his hand as he squeezed the trigger, its booming report mingling with a dozen others as the Mightyena near the den disintegrated in an explosion of blood fur and blood.

    Less than ten seconds later, a dozen large Mightyena had emerged from the mouth cave, barking and growling. Stephen nodded, and the pack ranks were decimated by second rattling fusillade of bullets. But this time, the Exterminators were forced to dive out of the way as three of the Mightyena retaliated with deadly shadow ball attacks.

    Stephen winced as one of the deadly balls of dark energy sizzled past his head, and the hail of bullets from the Exterminators thinned out. That was all the room the Mightyena needed. They became ragged grey blurs as they charged the bushes, one of them latching onto an Exterminators throat and dragging him into the open, where he was quickly torn apart by the Mightyena that had come to reinforce the pack.

    Stephen made a strangled cry and fired over and over again into the swarm of Mightyena, the other Exterminators following suit. One, twice, three times, then had to duck and reload. As he jammed several more bullets into the old revolver’s chamber with shaking, sweaty hands, it occurred to him that they had accidentally stumbled upon a network of Mightyena dens. How else to explain the dozens of attacking Pokemon, far more than that of an average pack?

    Apparently realizing the same thing, his temporary XO Asami Igawa crept up next to him and shouted, “We’ve stirred up a Beedrill nest here, Stephen. Do we retreat?”

    Stephen threw her a hard look, then slammed shut the chamber of his revolver and opened fire once again. Realizing that she had given her answer, Asami shot two more Mightyena in quick succession and thought to herself, We’ll be lucky to get out of this alive.

    Gesturing wildly with his free hand as he fired, Stephen tried to direct his six remaining fighters to spread out in a flanking maneuver, but the attacking Mightyenas only shot the gaps and attacked from all sides. Another fighter fell, his legs jerking convulsively as a Mightyena bit through his head with a savage crunch attack.

    There was a grey blur out of the corner of Stephen’s eye, and his arm abruptly went numb. The Mightyena hung there for a moment, growling and trying to scratch at Stephen’s eyes, before he brought around his revolver and shot it point blank. It went down in a bloody tangle, and Stephen ducked reflexively grabbed his arm.

    He didn’t see the second Mightyena behind him until it was almost too late. It was in midair, its black nose quivering with lust for the hunt, when it was struck by a heavy stone and sent careening off course. He spun, his head already light from loss of blood, and was able to spot the brown robes of the elders interspersed throughout the trees. They had come with women and teenaged boys bearing farm tools, slings, rocks and clubs.

    But the most dangerous weapon of all was Pidgeot. It burst from its Pokeball and immediately collided with a half dozen Mightyena with a ferocious quick attack, the pain from its wing forgotten as it pecked and clawed at the yipping canines. Several middle-aged housewives, their towels cast aside for weapons, waded in wielding shovels and hoes joined in to hack the survivors to bits.

    Stephen lay there cradling his bloody arm, stunned by the sudden route. He was startled by a hand on his shoulder, and he was surprised to see Dr. Murakami kneeling next to him to tie a thick bandage around his arm, “Sorry Stephen, but I have a Pokemon to command, so I’ll have to make this quick.”

    His vision fading fast, Stephen nevertheless lifted his revolver and grinned. Eben Village was finally fighting back.

    * * *

    Back at the Blackthorn Gym, James wandered aimlessly to the basement, his mind in turmoil. Once, he had believed that Suicune was watching him and him alone. But Kim had shocked him with her admission that she had seen Suicune as well, and now he was forced to wonder how much he really knew. Was she meant for Suicune instead? And if she was, then why was he being lead on like this?

    Think of the first time you saw Suicune.

    You were running
    .

    As he walked, the corridors seemed to become cold, forbidding and wet. In his mind, it was night in the Viridian Forest, and he was once again fleeing the Masamune’s Red Dragon compound in the cold rain. He had gone to the kitchens on the pretext of finding a midnight snack and slipped out the loading dock exit, his precious cargo stowed securely in his bag. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they realized Masamune’s prize was missing, and he had to put as much space as possible between himself and the compound in that time.

    His feet sloshed through the mud, muddying his black slacks and sending painful vibrations through his numb legs. The air sobbed in his throat, but he kept running. He knew that if he could somehow make it to Saffron City, he could catch a train to the Orre Region and hide in the rugged desert.

    For just a moment, his legs gave out in the cold rain, and he stumbled to his knees. He picked himself up from the mud, then froze as a new sound reached his ears over the pounding rain. He could clearly hear panting, and it was coming this way. Ignoring his throbbing lungs, James dragged himself back to his feet and willed his legs to move.

    It was too late. A terrific pressure fell on his back as a Mightyena brought him back to the wet ground and growled wildly as it tore at his bag. James yelled and tried to pull himself away, but a second Mightyena joined the first a moment later.

    “That’s far enough, Akira! Sturm, Drang, let him go!”

    The two Mightyena backed away for a moment, and James spun around to find himself staring up at the narrow eyes and sharp features of his adopted brother Kozuka Kuro Miyai. From either side, he heard other footsteps, and he knew that Kanya and his sister Yumi were there as well.

    Yumi stared down at her brother with her one good eye, the other had been burned out of his head by an errant fire blast, and sneered, “Where did you think you were going, Akira? Did you really think you could take our prize and not have us know about it? I thought Dad trained you better than that.”

    Shuriken Kanya Miyai, smallest of the four siblings, spoke next, “He’ll be here any minute, and he’s pretty angry, Akira.”

    “Very angry,” Yumi agreed.

    “Why’d you do it?” Kuro asked softly as Sturm and Drang growled and struggled at their leads. James felt momentarily ashamed at the hurt in his brother’s voice. Of all his siblings, he had always been closest to Kuro.

    “Because nobody should have that kind of power!” James yelled out. “Not even Dad!”

    Kanya shook his head, “That’s not for you to decide, kiddo. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the power that you’ve got in your pack there is in our bloodlines. We are *meant* to have it.”

    “Then why did the bells toll when we finally got it! Why is Ho-oh angry!”

    Kuro opened his mouth to respond, but his words were drowned out by a loud, long howl. All four of them looked around wildly, startled by the power and fury behind that sound. Yumi and Kanya pulled Pokeballs from their belts, and James saw a word that he couldn’t read form at his sister’s lips.

    Then a shadow moved in the corner of James’s eye, and there was a burst of movement. Suddenly, Sturm and Drang were converging with Kanya’s Staraptor and Yumi’s Pupitar, all of them preparing to attack. As they approached the newcomer, they were blasted by a sudden wave of arctic wind and forced to fall back, their trainers cursing. Dazed, James saw that the wind had turned the rain to ice, and now they were peppering the attacking Pokemon like bullets.

    James struggled to gain his bearings and focus in on their attacker. But when he did, he found himself stumbling back and screaming, his clothes soaked through from rain. They were battling Suicune of the North Wind.

    Yumi ordered a sandstorm, and the podlike Pupitar tried to oblige with a blast of sand and grit. But the storm dissipated almost immediately as Suicune was surrounded by a corona of crackling blue energy, and the rain began to pound even harder. James was digging for his own Pokeballs, but then the world wavered and went out of focus as Suicune’s terrible roar filled the spaces between the rain, and all four Pokemon abruptly returned to their Pokeballs.

    When James looked up again, his three siblings were all unconscious, and Suicune was regarding him sternly. His hair and clothes were soaked, his heart still pounding. After almost a minute, he said, “I’m sorry Suicune! Please let me make it right! Please!”

    Suicune seemed to consider the plea, and the world became hazy.

    Back at the Blackthorn Gym, James swerved around the corner and found himself look at a fully stocked bar complete with dozens of bottles of liquor. Whistling quietly to himself, he hopped over the counter and began to peruse the stock. He finally settled on an old Vermillion Brandy and helped himself to a glass.

    Settling down on one of the stools, he stared off into space, remembering. After his wild plea, the world had gone white, and he had awakened in a Saffron City hotel bed. His clothes were dry and, more importantly, his belongings were intact. He had checked his pack, and sure enough, Masamune’s prize had still been there. He had held it in his hands for just a moment, marveling at the power within, then carefully replaced it and slipped out without paying.

    James was startled from his reverie by a hollow thunk as a Pokeball was placed in front of him.

    “That’s yours,” Jeff said as he and Kim took stools on either side of him. “Though I should probably keep it now that you’ve gotten into our liquor stock, that stuff doesn’t come cheap you know.”

    “Well, you left it lying around. Can’t blame a guy for being tempted.”

    “Suppose not. Since you’ve already got a bottle open, I suppose we’d all better have a glass huh?”

    James shrugged and pulled down two more glasses, “Hope you like brandy.”

    * * *

    Kara Suzuki heard the shooting at the mouth of the cave and sat up, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open. There had been a crowd of Mightyenas watching over her and her friends (a boy named Yuki and a girl named Mai), but now they were gone, evidently to investigate the shooting.

    The old woman who had been with them, Kara didn’t know her name except that she was a nice lady who had once given her sweets, had been taken away by several of the Mightyena. She hadn’t said a word when she had been dragged away, but Kara had seen that there were tears on the old woman’s face. She had been scared then.

    So, when the Mightyena were gone, the little girl reached down deep within her and found the courage to grab her friend’s by their hands, “C’mon! We hafta go!”

    Yuki, a pale boy with a round-face and tiny eyes, shook his head frantically. When Kara tugged at his hand, he only tucked himself into the corner and began to cry. Big, wet tears rolled down the boy’s face, and Kara had to take turns with Mai calming him down, even though they were on the verge of tears themselves as the gunfire and the howls of the Mightyenas got louder.

    Finally, still rubbing his eyes fitfully, Yuki allowed himself to be taken by the arm by the two girls and lead into the heart of the den. It was dark and smelly, and the cavern seemed to twist and turn. Sometimes, they would come upon the bones of small animals and even humans, and when they did Mai would let out a tiny scream and cling to Kara, who would in turn hold tight to the both of them.

    After a while, Mai stopped and pointed wildly. They were quite literally looking at the light at the end of the tunnel. The children raised a spontaneous cheer and began charging toward the light, only to shriek as a growling and barking Mightyena abruptly appeared. Its eyes were like two bloody stars and its muzzle was pulled back in a vicious snarl, its ragged black hackles standing on end.

    Only dimly aware of what she was doing, Kara put both arms out to protect her friends and screamed, “No! Go ‘way!”

    Yuki and Mai were doubled up in hysterics now, with Yuki screaming pitifully. The Mightyena advanced, and now Kara felt powerless to stop the tears as well. Then the light suddenly went out behind it, and it became every bedtime monster, every creature in the dark and every nameless fear. She heard it slavering in the dark, and she screamed.

    But as she screamed, the light suddenly burst back into full brilliance, and the Mightyena was yipping and howling. Kara gaped as Pidgeot buffeted it with a wing attack, dodged the shadow ball it launched in response and hissed. The Mightyena managed to latch onto one of Pidgeot’s legs, only to recoil with a yip of pain as Kara threw a rock that connected solidly with its ear and drew blood.

    Suddenly tears were forgotten as Yuki and Mai began hurling missiles of their own. Rocks of all shapes and sizes hit the Mightyena from a variety of directions, finally forcing it to slink back into the den oozing blood from a dozen wounds.

    Pidgeot hop-skipped over to Kara, and she patted its beak like she had when feeding it in Nakashima’s basement. She saw that it had tucked its wing away at an awkward angle, and leaned in to hug it, “Does it hurt a lot?”

    Pidgeot bowed its head and flexed its wing a few times to show the extent of its injury. Murakami’s cortisone shot had allowed it to fly for a short time, but there would be consequences. The wing that should have only needed two weeks to heal would now require at least a month.

    Sometimes though, sacrifices were worth making. Pidgeot, Kara, Yuki and Mai made their way together out of the den, toward daylight and freedom.

    * * *

    James didn’t want to say it, but he was glad that Jeff and Kim had decided to join him in the basement bar. He sat stewing in his brandy for a while after serving them their drinks, aware that he should apologize, but too proud to come right out and say that he had been wrong to give them such a hard time in Claire’s study.

    The first lesson of his childhood had been, “A silent man is a great man.” In the last ten years, it had become easy play things close to the vest, never going into too much detail about his past or his mission. But then there was his second lesson, which had been, “Silence is a virtue, but falsehoods are not.”

    He had learned the second one the hard way. As a child, probably not much more than five years old, he had broken one of Kuro’s toys and lied about it. The words were barely out of his mouth before Miyai slapped him and sent him away to his room. He had been given additional tasks while his siblings were given the day of, and they had crowded around the table to watch and laugh as the favored son was forced to clean out the stalls, scrub the floors, wipe the dishes and feed the Pokemon.

    Needless to say, he never lied to Miyai’s face again.

    Man, what’s happened to me, James wondered. If the truth was such a virtue, then why had he become a habitual liar? He had lied to everybody he had ever met since his flight from Masamune’s compound about his past, up to and including Kim, Jeff, Claire and Morty. For a moment, he felt ashamed to have so completely forgotten what his father had taught him, even if he was determined to kill him at all costs. There were certain universal truths, and they were not dependent on the man or woman who uttered them.

    So when the appropriate moment came and he had made his way to his second glass of brandy, he stopped their conversation and said, “Guys, I just wanted to apologize for earlier. You know I was angry over that battle, and I said some things I didn’t mean. I hope you understand.”

    Jeff nodded, “Apology accepted.”

    “Yeah, it’s okay.”

    James sensed a note of unease in their voices, but decided to press on, “You should know that I have seen Suicune. I’ve seen it in nearly every region for ten years now. The only guess I can make is that it’s following me.”

    Kim frowned and swirled her drink about in her glass, “Why did you lie to us James?”

    “Well, you know, when you spend alone ten years alone on the road,” James shrugged. “You get to being a little too secretive for your own good.”

    “Do you have anything else you want to tell us?”

    James hesitated, his hand unconsciously going to the leg with the Red Dragon tattoo. He thought about the dagger in his bag, and his reason for fleeing from Masamune in the first place. He could tell them everything, like he had when Leon had trapped him by pointing out the same tattoo he was considering now, and it would probably go a long way toward clearing the air between them.

    But in the end, it was too much too soon. He finally settled on a compromise, “Yeah, there’s more, but I’d rather not go into it now.”

    He saw Jeff and Kim exchange a look out of the corner of his eye, and elected to ignore it and take a swig from his brandy. They had all the information they needed for the moment. Now it was up to them to decide what to do with it.

    Finally, Jeff said, “There’s a lot of work ahead of us, James. I don’t know how much you’re holding back, but for now I guess that doesn’t matter. What we all need to know is whether you’re willing to work with us or not. Will you help us?”

    James drained his glass and swished it around in his mouth for a moment. A hundred ideas pounded through his head at once, and they mingled with memories of Eben Village, the day the bells tolled, Masamune and Kanya. He wanted to get up and go back to hunting Masamune. He wished that he had never made that promise to twice damned promise to Elder Saitou. But down deep, he knew that he would agree to help Jeff, Kim and the rest of them restore balance to the world. If not, then why had he agreed to help Eben in the first place? Or Loam?

    It was because, when you got right down to it, he was a good guy. You just couldn’t help the way you were.

    Setting his glass down on the table, James said, “If I say yes, then will you help me settle my business with Miyai?”

    “If you’re with us, then we’re with you.”

    James looked from Jeff to Kim, his eyes shadowy as ever, then smiled and extended both his hands. Jeff took one, and Kim took the other, and they held them there in a three-way handshake for almost a minute. Sitting on that stool with friends he hadn’t known a week ago, James found himself thinking of an equilateral triangle. For the moment, they were three equal but opposite points united for a common purpose. He wondered how long it would last.

    When they finally broke away, Kim returning to her drink and James making to pour himself one more, Jeff reached for the Pokeball that had been sitting on the counter the whole time. He handed it to James and said, “That’s yours, you know. You might want to open it up and see what’s inside.”

    There was a twinkle in Jeff’s eyes as James took the Pokeball and hit the release. As the initial burst of light steadily coalesced into a Pokemon, James found himself squinting against what felt like doubled vision. It seemed like he was looking at Cyndaquil, but it seemed a great deal bigger in addition to having sprouted a second flame on its tail (and since when had Cyndaquil had a tail?)

    Jeff was grinning like a proud parent, “It evolved after our battle, right when Kim went to get you. It looks like it was ready for a while, but it just needed a little extra push. Congratulations.”

    James had had enough brandy that he had to squint at first his Pokemon, then Jeff, to make sure that he wasn’t lying. After ten years of waiting, it didn’t seem possible that it had finally happened, but it had. James slid unsteadily from his chair and gave his new Quilava a hug. Nothing more needed to be said.

  24. #74
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Standing still
    Posts
    111

    Default

    Hello.

    Great chapter. I like the ending the most, Quilava is one of my favorite Pokemon., and James' reaction to the evolution was funny. This chapter was really good, no grammar or spelling mistakes. A little short, but all things are too short for me. Hehehe. SHowed a more sensitive side of James, and a little more of his past. Pretty good chapter. Rating maybe a 8.5 or 9/10 Good luck on the next chapter! Can't wait for more! Hm.. Seems like review are slow. Probably didn't notice that there's a new chapter.


    Coming Soon....

  25. #75
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Forum in Sig (lulz <3)
    Posts
    1,061

    Default

    Awesome read; well written as always.

    I feel that I learn something new about our hero in every chapter. In this chapter, it was his drink of choice =p.



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