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Thread: ~ Choice and Consequence ~

  1. #26
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    Cool First review in the thread...

    *reviews feeling like a jack*** for forgetting the story title*

    That's embarrasing... i can't believe i read something this good and forget the title... that's sad...

    Nice original plot, Purple drake! Won't say more than been's said. Only one grammar snitch i saw back in chapter... errmm:

    Oh, idiot idiot idiot! Keegan berated herself as she ran, her shoes pounding on the footpath and sides aching.
    Oh, idiot, idiot, idiot! Keegan berated herself as she ran, her shoes pounding on the footpath and sides aching.

    Well, you get the point. Keep up the great work, i'll be back to check on you!

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
    PROJECT C-SQUARE STATUS = 100.00% Complete (11-12-2010, ca. 2:40pm GMT)
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    Butt-ugly Banner by Me
    (Still waiting on the excellent Saffire Persian for another awesome TCQ banner!)

  2. #27
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    Apr 2005
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    O.o whoopsies. Looks like I forgot some review replies ^.^;; oops. That's okay, I'll do them now, before I get onto posting the next chapter--so if I'm not replying to you, feel free to skip over them.

    Sike Saner: Hi again! ^.^ I'm glad you liked those bits with Eusine--I was afraid I'd overdone it a couple of times, but I figure, as a hormonal teenager, Keegan's sure to notice a nice-looking bishie (of course, that's prolly my fangirliness showing through. Then again, I consider Morty to be a nice-looking bishie too, but I didn't have Keegan dote on him. Hmm, wonder why?)

    Ugh, that battle :P I lost count of the number of times I deleted and rewrote parts of it, it was frustrating. Word of caution: never, ever write a battle with three-on-three pokemon. They're flippin' complicated.

    As for the Confuse Ray bit--I actually took most of that from a completely different chapter regarding a completely different character from the old copy of the story. ^.^; I'm prolly gonna need to redo that scene a different way to make it all nice and shiny and new, now... darnit.

    Inspiration for Morty's Sight came from looking at the scene in the manga when Lt. Surge asks him to find our intrepid heroes there was actually something about that which I wasn't quite happy with, but I can't remember what... ah well, can't have been too important.

    As for that last scene hehehe, I just couldn't resist.


    Souku: Wow ^.^ you've just given me one of the best compliments I think I can get. I strive to have a certain sense of reality, so I'm stoked you think I've succeeded. The previous copy of the story practically had legendaries galore for very little reason *makes face* which is one reason I wanted to rewrite.

    In this copy, more legendaries will appear eventually, but there are specific reasons for why they do--and they don't include 'saving the world' reasons (although I'm worried Keegan's presence might stretch the bounds of believability a little... if they do, please tell me). About the only legendary who has any personal reason to meet Keegan is Raikou (which is, as you guess, the one she's already met) but there's a very good reason for that and it's *not* of a friendly kind. That said, while there is a potential 'saving the world' moment in the story, Keegan is nowhere near it at the time--that's slated for other people to take care of

    ^.^ actually, one of the things I'm looking forward to most is being able to write about the rest of Keegan's team. I already have a good idea of what each of their characters are like, and I can't wait until they come into the story.

    *hides* if you hurt me, I can't write more! :P lol. Don't worry, it might take a while, but I can't give up on my stories.


    Air Dragon: XD lol! oh, I hate it when something like that happens--it's even worse when you don't manage to find the story again, because you know you're missing out on something good!

    As for the grammar snitch (hee, nice phrase, I like) technically, I agree; normally I would have commas there. But commas have a certain sense of rhythm--they literally represent a pause. Removing them gives a certain haste to Keegan's thoughts that wouldn't be there otherwise. ^.^ thanks for pointing it out though, it shows you care!


    A/N: Now all that's done, let's get on with the party I know it's a little late, but quite frankly, I'm surprised I managed to get this chapter done even this close to the normal time--and this time I actually have reasons for not doing it! Seems all my courses at Uni decided the past two weeks would be a good time to dump all their assignments on us--so I've actually been busy (no, really! Honest!).

    Anyways. This chapter is a two-poster, which I apologise for--I try to keep within the post limit, it makes it easier for everyone, but I just couldn't cut this chapter up, it'd be wrong. So I didn't.

    There's also more pokemon-perspective, so tell me how I do.


    ~ IV ~
    SHE’S GOT THE POWDER


    LILYCOVE.

    Lying on the eastern coast of Hoenn, set against the expansive ocean, the green-tinged city was beginning to dim. The sprawling complex of the Hoenn TV headquarters was a bustling hive of regulated chaos, as it was nearing the end of the day and there was still far too much to be done.

    Although, for the broadcast team’s chief, few them actually had anything to do with his news reports.

    In his cluttered office on the upper storey of the whitewashed building, Archie watched a recently recorded report with narrowed eyes, one hand bracing his bearded chin. The recording was about the recently instated Petalburg gym leader, but Archie was barely paying attention; his position as the chief of the station was borne of necessity, not interest.

    He had far greater things on his mind.

    Like how well his people were doing in getting the information he wanted. One of his teams hadn’t reported in for several days, now, and he was getting ready to dismiss the mission as a write-off.

    That’s when one of his phones rang; not one from an employee down below, but his blue one. The one which he never let anyone touch. The one which could herald either success or disaster, and in this case, he was expecting the latter. They were late, too late, and setbacks were usually the reason.

    Muting the report, Archie answered the phone, eyes flickering automatically to glance out the soundproof window looking down on the main hall below, where most of the station’s editing and broadcasting was done. His office was situated in the perfect position to overlook it all, although not necessarily for the reasons his employees generally thought.

    “Sir, you should turn to the Interregional Channel Two,” a scratchy voice suggested on the other end of the line without identifying himself or activating the vidscreen. It didn’t matter. Only three people could contact Archie using the blue phone, and they never did that unless it was important.

    Instantly the burly man did as the other had suggested, the screen flickering as it changed to show a close-up shot of a short-haired reporter with glasses, standing in front of a timber-built police station.

    “…despite complications, have been recaptured,” the reporter was saying seriously, her glasses winking in the daylight of the area she was in. Behind her, Officer Jenny pulled up on her motorcycle with a screech, hurrying into the broad-fronted station. “However, all evidence pertaining to their intentions and their background was destroyed in the attempted escape. It is now believed that they have accomplices elsewhere who may also have been involved with their plans for the Tin Tower, though investigations are still being conducted into these new—” Archie shut off the television, having heard enough, and the screen blipped into a single dot, quickly fading into matte black.

    “So they failed,” Archie snorted, his deep voice instinctively low despite the soundproof room.

    “We haven’t managed to get in contact with them, either,” the hoarse-voiced man on the other side of the phone line said with cautious frustration. “But from what’s been reported, it sounds like their diversion failed. They were captured by the gym leader himself.”

    “The gym leader they say has ‘eyes for a thousand miles’,” Archie’s voice had a definite cool tone to it now, but not angry or punishing. Not yet.

    “Yes sir,” the other sounded contrite. “But there’s been no hint that he’s figured out anything important.”

    “There wouldn’t be. Yet. And the others?”

    “So far there seems to be little opposition,” his subordinate answered quickly, since Archie seemed to be forgiving about the involvement of a dangerously psychic Elite. “They caught a break; it was sighted not far from where they’re based. The Tin Tower may just have been bad luck.”

    Irritably Archie tapped at the disorganised surface of his wide desk with the remote control, not seeming to notice or care when one stack of papers slipped over onto the rest with a whisper. He was too busy considering his options.

    “Bad luck or not, I’m not willing to give up on this operation just yet,” he said finally. “But we can’t afford to send in anyone else—it’ll just have to wait until Matts is finished. Tell him to continue as planned, then move on to Ecruteak.”

    “And our agents in custody?” the other man asked carefully, and Archie shrugged his powerful shoulders, even knowing there was no one there to see.

    “If Matts has the time and manpower, he can retrieve them. If not, they can stay there.” His voice was cold, unyielding; every single one of his agents knew that he didn’t take failure, for whatever reason, kindly.

    “Yes, sir.” There was a click as the subordinate hung up, and Archie lowered the phone, frowning thoughtfully.

    This may be more difficult than I anticipated, he reflected, before shunting the matter from his mind and turning the television back on. It was nearly time for the six o’clock broadcast…

    * * *

    Ooh… legs hurt… legs hurt…

    Stop complaining. It could be worse.

    …yes, yes it could.


    With a sigh at her internal monologue Keegan straightened up a little, ignoring the slight burn in her calves and her bag dragging at her shoulder. She didn’t feel nearly as bad as when she’d gotten into Ecruteak, but she still had to wonder if it was downhill all the way to Goldenrod. The Joy at the last Pokémon Centre she’d visited had mentioned the city was within a day’s walk, but because of the incline it seemed like so much longer. She had to admit that she felt a little vulnerable out in the woods, not least because of the lightning pokémon she was still imagining didn’t exist, but also because of the news report that had come on a few days ago.

    She’d been staying at a Pokémon Centre at the time or else she probably would’ve missed it completely, and she still wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it. It had been about the intruders from the Tin Tower, reporting their attempted escape and subsequent recapture. In Ecruteak Keegan hadn’t even thought about the public consequences of being involved—after all, the trio been jailed and she’d told Officer Jenny everything she knew, so she hadn’t really considered the fact the story might get to the media—but she was still slightly surprised when the report said only that Morty had captured them while they were in the Tower, leaving out all mention of her and with hardly a brief mention of Eusine.

    For a moment she’d felt slighted and a little disappointed; then the report had mentioned the new suspicions of accomplices and she quickly decided that anonymity was probably best. I guess Morty managed to get something big out of that rag, if they wanted to cut me out of it—they even did the same to Eusine.

    So now she was plagued with worries and vague, half-remembered dreams about random, blue-uniformed people running around, bearing the white A-shaped symbol, alongside the black-uniformed ones bearing the red ‘R’.

    And I thought my life on Alto Mare had been complicated!

    With a sigh Keegan paused beneath a tree, running a hand through her sweaty fringe and hefting her bag up on her shoulder. The woods surrounding her were thinner than around Ecruteak and the trees often surrendered to hard, rocky ground, littered with weeds and grass, which meant she could see a lot further into the distance. Unfortunately there was absolutely nothing to see except for more sparse vegetation and the occasional pokémon, quickly vanished into some hidey-hole or other as she passed.

    She was just debating whether or not to sit down for a while when she heard a weak, wavering hiss. What was that? Keegan turned sharply about, making a yellow-fleshed weedle on a tree nearby **** its head at her, but all she heard was the sound of rushing water.

    For a moment. A second later there was a harsh chittering, strident in the scrubby woods, and Keegan hesitated only briefly before following, curiosity overcoming caution.

    She came to a rippling stream and followed it until the trees parted to reveal the scene of a distant battle. An elegant vaporeon was backed against a natural monument of rocks, its blue fur slick with the blood of a thousand tiny cuts and the fin around its neck torn and ragged.

    Looks in bad shape… Keegan saw with a lurch as she struggled to push her way through the thick undergrowth lining that section of the bank, shivering at the way the red contrasted with blue.

    She saw the pokémon try to dart past its foe—a spindly-legged ariados—and into the safety of the water. It wasn’t quick enough before the spider shot a small, sharp thread from its mouth, catching the water-fox on the paw and pinning it to the ground. With a jerk and a pain-filled cry that made Keegan flinch the vaporeon slung about, its injured paw stretched out as it lay on its side. Its flanks were heaving and its black eyes were glazed not just with pain, but with some kind of illness, unable to move aside from spasmodic shivers as the ariados reared back with snapping mandibles.

    Finally! Keegan burst through the scrub, Hazel’s pokéball already in her hand, thrown a second later. The red-and-white sphere sailed through the air to hit the ariados squarely on its small head, bouncing to the matted turf before it. Dazed, the spider didn’t have time to react when the eevee bounded out of her vessel with a yowl and tackled it, sending it skidding back.

    Swiftly it recovered, clicking angrily as it fired a thread of fine silk towards Hazel, but the eevee darted to the side and the String Shot hit the rocks uselessly. “Quick Attack!” Keegan shouted, and Hazel had barely touched the ground before she flashed across the clearing, striking the ariados squarely on its bulbous red abdomen. The spider pokémon tumbled back as Hazel landed defensively on soft paws in front of the now wheezing vaporeon, her ears laid back to show she was serious.

    The ariados hesitated, mandibles moving uncertainly; then it seemed to decide a battle was too much trouble and retreated, skittering easily over the forest’s debris.

    Thank God. I think I hate battling. Keegan let out a breath, hurrying towards the pair of fox-like pokémon, Hazel crouching anxiously over the other’s paw. The girl could see now that the vaporeon was male, and he had definitely come down with something serious, but as she approached, slinging her bag off her back, the wild pokémon’s eyes slitted open.

    For a moment he seemed only to stare at her unseeingly, his breathing fast and shallow, but when she plucked the barb from his paw he flinched.

    “Eebui,” Hazel mewed fretfully as the water-fox coughed, struggling to get to his feet and staggering, flanks heaving and injured paw looking as though it were swathed in red silk, red silk which dripped to stain the scrubby ground. His fin-like ears drooped, the darker blue markings on his head a sickly shade of grey, and for a moment Keegan panicked, wondering what the hell she should do.

    A second later she could have kicked herself, grabbing a spare pokéball from her belt and expanding it with the intention of capturing the poor thing so she could take him to a Pokémon Centre.

    She never got the chance. As soon as he heard the soft whoosh of the ball the vaporeon’s head snapped up, his body turned instinctively low to the ground, and he snarled warningly, showing small, sharp fangs.

    Keegan flinched at his expression, pulling back in a sudden fear that he’d jump her despite his injuries, but before he could do anything Hazel had bounded between them, eyes wide with earnestness.

    <<You need help, cousin of the lake,>> she mewed, her ears back with worry and her paws beating the ground in a dance of unease. She could smell this cousin’s sickness, like a dark taint hanging over him; it made her want to retch and wash herself, but she refused to shame him like that.

    The vaporeon took a faltering step towards the stream, tail dragging on the mulch-strewn grass, and Hazel twitched for a moment, barely keeping herself from blocking him. Please let him trust me, she prayed silently to any and all Guardians who were listening.

    <<Bairn knows it,>> he answered shortly, his voice weak and wavering with sickness, and Hazel twitched again in faint surprise at his self-effacing manner, even though she had almost been expecting it with the way he was acting. It wasn’t quite on the ultra-humble level that growlithe and arcanine usually referred to themselves, but it was clear he was not an alpha. <<Brother will help. He’ll be back soon.>>

    This Brother is alpha,
    Hazel realized, though she could tell from his connotation that it was far more than just being pack; this ‘Brother’ was a litter-mate. They’re very close. For a moment uncertainty writhed through Hazel’s mind, uncertainty that she was doing the right thing by trying to convince this cousin to come with them.

    But if he left—

    She cut that unworthy thought off before she could complete it. Litter-mates were often separated, true, but if they were ever able to stay together as pack they would never desert each other.

    And yet she saw the way Bairn waned, the way his head dipped and almond-shaped eyes dulled. <<That may be too late, cousin,>> she whispered, creeping nearer, her thick tail swishing behind her with indecision.

    The vaporeon just looked at her, his legs braced apart to take his weight, the darker blue markings on his head looking grey with illness. <<Brother is the protector,>> he repeated stubbornly, but she saw in his half-slitted eyes a haze of desperation and loneliness.

    <<More than that human of yours is, that much is almost certain, little cousin of the wilderness.>>

    What?
    Hazel stiffened and hissed, her fur bristling to show her indignation at both the slight against the Mistress and the belittling subtext.

    The vaporeon just wearily rumbled what passed for a laugh. <<Bairn prays for your sake she’s not like the human he once knew.>>

    <<She’s not,>>
    Hazel said sternly, puffing herself up as much as she could to take on an air of authority, her ears tilted forward in utter confidence of her words. <<She’ll help. She’ll take care of you, cousin, for your litter-mate may not arrive in time.>>

    But he didn’t seem to even be listening anymore, and with the way he spoke next it seemed like he was trying to convince himself of the truth of his own words. <<The only one who helps Bairn is Brother. He’ll be back soon with a cure. He promised he’d protect Bairn… he promised…>> A shudder ran through his light frame, and with another quick whiff Hazel knew they’d run out of time.

    She just barely managed to get beside him before he started to topple, his sudden weight making her stagger as she braced herself against him and turned her head to look pleadingly to look up at the Mistress.

    The blonde-haired human instantly raised the Bonding Orb she held, tossing it towards Hazel’s cousin of the lake. She felt him shift slightly, seeing it come, but knew he could do nothing to escape it. <<It doesn’t hurt,>> she whispered just before his presence vanished into the light, and the Orb fell to the ground. It rocked for a moment before locking down, and Hazel’s ears twitched with both guilt and relief at the sound, knowing that he was safe in there until he could be taken care of but feeling shame that they had to steal him away from his litter-mate. <<You’ll be all right, cousin of the lake,>> she promised him with a touch of her dainty paw on the Orb’s warm surface, just before the Mistress picked it up.

    “Come on,” Keegan said grimly to the distressed-looking eevee, trying to soften her voice as much as she could as she held out the pokémon’s pokéball. For a moment Hazel just looked up at her with troubled eyes; then she allowed herself to be returned in a flash, enabling Keegan to scramble to her feet and haul up her bag, running out of the shaded clearing.

    Many minutes later, a dark, nimble umbreon trotted onto the turf, leaving a rustle of bushes behind him and holding his head high against the weight of the green Lum berry in his mouth. It was that which forced him to take a moment to realize that something was wrong, since all he could taste was strange array of flavours from the fruit.

    It was only when his sharp eyes caught sight of the liquid gleaming over the mulch, a slightly darker grey than everything around it, that he knew.

    And it was the instant he dropped the berry, its tingling flavour still coating his tongue, that he tasted it.

    A human.

    With a deep, building rumble in his throat, the yellow rings on his body beginning to glow angrily, he darted out of the clearing and into the sparse trees, leaving the berry behind on sodden grass, its hard skin splattered by red.

    * * *

    Anxiously Keegan paced the shiny floor of the Pokémon Centre’s lobby, casting reflections on the high glass windows. It was already getting dark, the outside lit by streetlights, but she could still see people passing up and down the wide boulevard next to the Centre.

    God, I hope the poor little guy’s all right, she thought, her gaze drawn time and again back to the double doors just up from the counter, its red emergency sign lit behind a white silhouette of a needle. The vaporeon had been in such bad shape when she got him, and Hazel had looked as concerned as Keegan had ever seen her.

    “Chaanssi!”

    Surprised, Keegan jumped slightly at the nearby sound, turning just as one of the pink, balloon-like chansey bounced up to her, offering her the pokéballs containing Hazel and Firefoot.

    “Oh… thanks,” the girl smiled down at the happy-go-lucky pokémon, taking the pokéballs, and it skipped off to attend to a group of trainers that were just entering the Centre.

    Kinda scary, how happy those things always are, Keegan thought wryly, watching the rubbery chansey for a few moments as it collected up the trainers’ pokémon. She remembered when she was younger and she’d first gone into the Alto Mare Pokémon Centre; she hadn’t been able to understand how the chansey nurses there were always so upbeat. It had annoyed her more than it should have, because that had been a time when everyone around her was a stranger and she couldn’t remember anything about her past; she had felt that nothing had the right to be that happy when she was missing a part of herself.

    The sign over the blue doors finally dinged off, and Keegan’s heart leapt to her mouth as she spun around in time to see Nurse Joy exiting the room. Joy smiled reassuringly and Keegan breathed a sigh of relief, relaxing. Oh, that has to be good news.

    “Vaporeon was quite ill,” the pink-haired woman told her, clasping her hands in front of her apron. “And with his injuries, it was just as well you came here so quickly; but after a night in our emergency ward, he’ll be fine.”

    “Oh, that’s great,” Keegan sat down wearily on the orange-cushioned bench nearby. She’d run most of the way to Goldenrod, and now that the anxiety had worn off she was feeling quietly exhausted.

    “There was something I wanted to speak to you about, though,” Joy added, taking a seat on the other end of the couch and giving a gesture to Chansey across the room, signalling that she’d be a while yet.

    Keegan’s stomach lurched apprehensively, though she had no idea what there was to be apprehensive about. Damn, but I’m getting paranoid. “Um, yes?” she asked a little timidly, and partly to her relief Joy laughed.

    “Don’t look so scared; you’re not in trouble or anything. It’s just that Vaporeon…” she hesitated a little, her blue eyes darkening. “Well, I think he might have been abandoned. He reacted to me quite like he was, if in a milder form than most do.”

    “Abandoned?” Keegan repeated blankly, for a moment completely unable to grasp the concept. “Why would… anyone… that’s horrible!”

    Joy nodded an agreement to the girl’s outburst, her mouth twisted with slight anger. “He didn’t seem as suspicious as a lot of pokémon become, though, and from the looks of it, it was quite a while ago that it happened. I think if he had a good trainer, he could learn to trust humans again. I know you said you only caught him because he needed treatment, but you are the one who found him, so I was hoping you might be willing to take him with you.”

    Keegan sat back to think about this, biting her lip uncertainly. She had never really considered this journey as one to capture pokémon; the only reason she’d bought some spare pokéballs in Ecruteak was as a safety measure. But then again, it’s not like she already had a full team, and after planning to spend so much time away from Alto Mare… well, the more then merrier, right?

    But I’m not the only one travelling around here. She lifted Firefoot and Hazel’s pokéballs up to her face, both of the miniaturised pokémon visible through the semi-transparent red surface. “What do you guys think?” she asked hesitantly. “D’you want another travelling companion?”

    Firefoot’s pokéball instantly rocked an agreement on her palm, his paws up on the inside surface and tongue lolling happily.

    Hazel was the one who hesitated, her tail swishing around her and ears flicking with nervous tension; but a second later she also swayed the ball in concurrence, and Keegan looked up to Nurse Joy. “I guess that’s a yes.”

    Joy smiled. “In that case, Vaporeon will be waiting for you when you come down tomorrow morning.”

    “Okay. Thanks,” Keegan waved a little goodbye, stifling a yawn and a groan as she got up, rubbing her sore legs, and retreated to one of the trainers’ rooms for a comfortable night in dreamland.

    * * *

    When Keegan came downstairs the next morning it was at her usual time, meaning that the spacious lobby was mostly empty aside from those trainers who liked to get a good start on things. Nurse Joy was already at the counter, her white cap sitting atop her pink hair, and waved her over as soon as she’d appeared at the base of the wide stairwell.

    “Vaporeon’s well and ready to go,” she said with a smile, holding out the water fox’s pokéball. Keegan accepted it gingerly, looking down at the eeveelution inside, who looked happy enough, if wary and doubtful.

    With a deep breath and an inward shrug, Keegan shrank the pokéball and added it to her belt. “Thanks, Nurse Joy.” The girl waved goodbye and strolled out of the Centre, raising a hand against the bright morning sun.

    For a while Keegan wandered down the boulevard, looking for a good place to stop and have breakfast. Most of the stores were just opening, so the cafes were fairly empty, which was just the way Keegan liked it; on the other hand, few of them seemed to be types to allow pokémon to eat as well.

    Finally she just settled for buying herself a salad roll at a deli (Miriam had made a point of eating healthy) and eating it at a tiny park nearby, filling the pokémon’s dishes with the food she’d replenished just that morning.

    Once Firefoot and Hazel were settled in—Firefoot was using the larger, orange bowl she’d gotten him in Ecruteak, since he was such a greedy guts once he’d evolved that he’d have eaten everything in the smaller one before Hazel could get a sniff at it—Keegan lifted the vaporeon’s pokéball and somewhat apprehensively released him onto the thick turf.

    Hazel watched with the same apprehension, tail swishing wildly around her brown haunches, ignoring the soft pellets that Firefoot was already digging into with gusto. She hadn’t been certain it was a good idea to take the vaporeon from his litter-mate, but when she remembered that look in his eyes—as though he had remembered something he longed for, dreamed for, something so long suppressed—she felt that, perhaps, it would be what he wanted.

    As soon as her newest pack-mate materialized in that familiar flash of red light, Hazel mewed a greeting, one ear flickering nervously.

    The vaporeon looked around with wary confusion. <<What is Bairn here for, cousin of the wilderness?>> he asked in perplexity, and Hazel saw that when his eyes lit upon the readied food he just looked even more bewildered. <<Does your Mistress wish Bairn to battle?>>

    Hazel felt a pang. He really didn’t understand what was going on; didn’t his old human ever let him out for food?

    Probably not. He probably only got fed by the healing-mothers.

    <<It’s time to eat, cousin of the lake,>>
    she explained softly, only keeping her fur from bristling with an effort. She’d heard of abandonment before, but had never met one of those most unlucky of Kin until now.

    He stared at her. <<Your Mistress lets you out for food?>> He sounded both incredulous and awed by the thought, as though it was something he’d knew of but never before experienced. <<She lets you out… when it’s not time to battle?>>

    Hazel felt her hackles rise and fought to calm herself, taking slow, deep breaths, focussing on the sweet scent of the waiting food and the rumble in her belly. She wouldn’t start eating until this cousin of the lake did. <<She’s your Mistress now too, cousin, brother, pack-mate. Come and feed with me, and you’ll see.>>

    She turned slightly to give him the opening to come towards the dish, and out of the corner of her eye she saw the Mistress was beside Firefoot, stroking his long fur absently but watching them with crinkled, hopeful eyes. Good. He’ll be more likely to come, now.

    And so he did, cautiously at first, low to the ground, but the eevee waited patiently until he was beside her before moving herself, walking next to him the whole short distance to the bowl. When he dipped his head to nibble at one of the pellets, finned tail curled around his side and one almond-shaped eye on the Mistress, she felt a thrill of satisfaction before bending to join him.

    Keegan watched them both eat with a mixture of bemusement and delight. She had no idea what the water pokémon had said, and only the vaguest idea of what Hazel had been saying, but whatever it had been had worked. I guess Nurse Joy was right, she thought, plucking absently at the thick fur between Firefoot’s shoulder blades with her spare hand as she ate with the other, practically leaning on him because of the way she was sitting. For the whole time the meal lasted she made sure not to move out of the vaporeon’s sight—he was on the opposite side of the purple dish that was his and Hazel’s, ostensibly to watch her—and hardly dared to move at all, even when her shoulder started to ache from the position she was in. She’d been half afraid he would simply run off; she didn’t want to give him a good reason to do so.

    “Tarn,” she said suddenly, having been watching him wash himself cautiously after his meal. One of his finned ears—one that, she noted, was slightly ragged from some past injury—twitched at the sound of her voice and he looked up curiously. She smiled in what she hoped was an encouraging way. “Your name’s Tarn. Is that okay?”

    For a moment he stared at her with eyes so huge that her heart lurched and she was afraid she’d done something wrong.

    Then he ducked his head timidly and she heard it—the slight, cautious rumble of a purr. She grinned, lifting a hand—half intending to pat him—but the vaporeon flinched, the purr faltered, and she quickly put her hand back down with an anxious apology.

    Okay, so we still have a ways to go.

    Nonetheless, the purr started up again, faint but audible over the sound of twittering birds, as Tarn returned to washing himself. Keegan sat back, half holding her breath lest she scare him again, to watch.

    No one noticed the pair of slanted red eyes watching them malevolently from an upwind alley.

    * * *
    Last edited by purple_drake; 11th August 2008 at 12:51 PM.

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Blackthorn City
    Posts
    888

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    I really have to invest in getting some better maps. Or at least a better sense of direction.

    Keegan was lost. Again. True, this time it was in among towering buildings and cookie-cutter houses as opposed to thick trees and crowding bushes, but that didn’t change the fact. Why’d they have to make the Magnet Train Station so bloody hard to find, anyway?

    It was late morning, now, which meant that she’d been wandering around uselessly for hours. Her feet weren’t hurting—yet—because of all the exercise she’d done recently (and she thought she’d been fit enough in Alto Mare!), but as she strolled down an empty backstreet between tall, looming buildings, just coming out of the urban areas, she broodingly wished she’d thought to ask directions before she left the Pokémon Centre.

    It was about then that she heard hurried footsteps coming from around the nearby corner, almost drowning out of the sound of someone muttering to themselves, and perked up. Just what I needed…

    Abruptly a young man dressed in a maroon suit and not that much taller than the girl rushed around the corner, clutching a pile of folders which he was shuffling and reshuffling with indignant mumbles as he strode. He didn’t see Keegan, and for a moment the girl was too startled to try and avoid him; by the time she recovered they’d collided, spilling his papers all over the pavement.

    “Gwah!” he yelped in surprise, catching himself on the wall before he fell, and Keegan staggered back to regain her balance.

    That was when she fully saw his wavy, ochre-coloured hair, the guileless eyes and boyish features, and blanched inwardly. No way! Of all the people to crash into, it had to be someone famous! “Sorry!” she blurted, flushing in mortification, and knelt to give Bill the Pokémaniac a hand in scraping up the documents, his thick hair half shading his face as he ducked his head to do so.

    “No, no, never mind, never mind,” he reassured her hastily, and accepted the sheaf of papers she handed over to him, absently rifling through them before sighing. “Bother. Now I’ll have to sort them all over again, not that it matters… oh no, can’t make advances, can we, it costs too much, doesn’t it? After all that…” He degenerated back into mumbles and looked about ready to walk off again before Keegan plucked up her courage to interrupt.

    After all, she still didn’t know where the hell she was.

    “Excuse me…” the girl began hesitantly, and smiled in embarrassed apology when he looked up, surprised and seeming to have forgotten about her. “Could you—could you please direct me to the Magnet Train Station?”

    “The Magnet Train?” Bill repeated, blank-eyed for a moment, before his face lit up in recognition. “Oh, of course! It was finished so recently, I’d forgotten… it’s on the other side of Goldenrod, I’m afraid, but there’s an easy shortcut if you follow this way back a little way and choose the underground path…” he trailed off at her blank expression, clutching the papers to his chest because he’d pointed down the way he’d come.

    “Uhm…” Keegan grinned sheepishly. “Sorry. I still get lost in the library back home.”

    Okay, so that was an exaggeration, although not by much—she still couldn’t find half the sections for reshelving, which was why Miriam used to post her in the backroom for sorting duty.

    “Oh. Well, that is a problem, Miss…?” He cocked his head, waiting for her name.

    “Um, Keegan. M’name’s Keegan.”

    “I’m Bill.” He offered her a fleeting smile, still trying to shuffle the papers into some semblance of order. “And I’ll tell you what. If you come with me, I’ll just deliver these home—”with a wave of the folder he was holding in one hand—“And then I’ll show you the way.”

    For a moment Keegan was dumbfounded, but before she could open her mouth to tell him he didn’t have to do that he’d already started off at a brisk walk, calling over his shoulder, “It’s not too far down the way, we’ll be heading off for the station in a jiffy,” and she had no choice but to follow.

    He was right; it wasn’t far, smack in the middle of the urban suburbs that Keegan had just wandered through, all with the same well-kept lawns and low-slung houses. He seemed almost to forget she was there again, sorting through his papers and muttering to himself about something over which he was clearly irked. Keegan, for her part, spent her time studying him out of the corner of her eye and recalling everything she could remember from the Pokémon Journal article which was either still on the shelf (or floor) in her room or packed away into the attic.

    Actually, they almost passed the house completely before Bill realized they were there, stopping abruptly with a pink-cheeked apology when Keegan almost crashed into him again. She waited at the end of the short driveway while he went inside briefly to leave his notes, returning a few moments later and absently straightening the green ruff at his throat. “Now then. The Magnet Train Station?”

    Keegan nodded mutely, not entirely sure how to act or respond. “You’re quite lucky,” Bill assured her as he guided her back through the suburbs, losing some of his vagueness now he didn’t actually have his calculations in hand. “It only just opened. They thought it would take a good deal longer to complete than it did.”

    “Oh.” was all Keegan could find to say, feeling a little silly at the nonsensical answer, but Bill didn’t seem to mind whether she replied or not. He just lapsed into silence, apart from the occasional, mumbled comment to himself, no doubt about his work.

    The entrance to the aforementioned underground path was a well-kept and often frequented building with white-washed walls and a pair of identical windows. It was flanked by a cheerful bookstore on one side and an electrical store on the other, and the sign at its front boasted the path’s various shops.

    “Oh, yes,” Bill murmured as they approached, watching several laughing trainers exit the twin sliding doors and stroll past them down the street. “The underground is a favoured training area.”

    “Huh,” Keegan half-answered quietly as they entered, glancing about at the small drooping pot plants and plastic benches which lined the walls of the small room. “I kinda imagined some dingy little walkway.”

    “Well, there are places like that, yes,” Bill admitted, standing aside courteously so Keegan could go down the thin metal steps first. “Many of the old corridors have fallen into disrepair. That’s where a lot of trainers go to battle; but for the most part, the main avenue is well-attended.”

    I don’t think Bill’s been here in a long, long time, Keegan found herself thinking an hour later, deeply amused despite herself, her company and her situation as she watched the scatterbrained engineer looking about frantically for some kind of sign telling them where they were.

    He’d been right; the central avenue had been teeming with booths and stores, not to mention shoppers. Well-lit by the huge round globes hanging overhead and decorated with long pot-plants, there had been colours and businesses galore—but then the avenue had split in two. And with badly hidden uncertainty, Bill had chosen the right-hand corridor.

    Now as they progressed the corridor grew dingier, the walls covered in stained and ripped posters and most of the lights smashed, their glass littering the floor. Yet despite the oppressive gloom and the eerie, flickering illumination, even despite the lingering, awed twitch which insisted that she really shouldn’t laugh at someone so famous—at least not in their company—Keegan managed to find the whole thing hilarious.

    “Somehow I don’t think this is the right way, Bill,” Keegan offered as they came to an intersecting corridor, unable to maintain her respectful silence or to keep a bite of laughter out of her voice. I’m still lost, but it seems so much funnier when it’s not my fault. His sense of direction is as bad as mine!

    Bill looked down both ways, frowning at the matching halls. “Yes, well… you’re probably right,” he admitted reluctantly, rubbing his head with embarrassment.

    Keegan shrugged, fighting to keep a smile of her face at his crestfallen expression. “So let’s go this way,” she suggested, gesturing down the left-hand passage.

    “Very well… it seems as good a way as any,” Bill agreed, still looking around as though expecting to see a neon exit sign. This time Keegan couldn’t restrain a snort of laughter, turning down the corridor with broken glass crunching under her running shoes. “I’m frightfully sorry for all this,” Bill apologised, hurrying to catch up to her, but Keegan just shook her head, grinning slightly at the novelty of having a celebrity apologise to her.

    “Never mind, it doesn’t matter,” she said in answer, shifting her bag gingerly to ease its weight on her shoulder. “I’m not really in any hurry, and we’ll find our way eventually, right?”

    “I suppose,” Bill agreed over the sound of their footsteps echoing down another intersection as they passed. He still sounded somewhat doubtful, though Keegan couldn’t fault him for that.

    Still, neither of us can be that bad at finding our way, if we’re always getting lost, the girl thought almost hopefully, taking a sidelong glance at the maroon-suited young man. We have to get out of it somehow, it just takes us longer.

    “But be that as it may—” Bill had begun next, when he was suddenly cut off by a dark figure which darted out of the passage beside him, ducking under their feet and almost tripping them both up. Bill exclaimed wordlessly in surprise, nearly slipping over before he managed to catch himself on Keegan’s shoulder and almost making her fall before she did the same on the wall. “An umbreon?” the pokémaniac muttered in slight confusion when they’d righted themselves, his eyes following the pokémon as it dashed behind an empty pot just down the corridor.

    The next instant two darkly clad men also barrelled out of the junction, skidding to a halt upon seeing Keegan and Bill, the pair whirling around to face them.

    Oh, God— Keegan’s stomach clenched, her body instantly tense as she recognised the uniform, the red letter imprinted on the shirt, straight out of her nightmares.

    There came a squeak from next to her, a squeak that sounded suspiciously like a high-pitched expletive of, ‘Team Rocket!’, but she was too busy trying to breathe to look at her companion, even when he so obviously recognised them.

    Of course he did, are you stupid, everyone knows Team Rocket!

    One of the Rocket grunts cursed, making Keegan jump at the sound, and he pushed back on his cap to reveal squinty eyes and thin, spiky black hair. “No one was supposed to be back here!” he snarled, almost an accusation, expanding a pokéball with a hiss.

    That’s bad—

    Keegan’s panicked hands went for her pokéballs, but Bill got there first. An exeggcute materialized on the grimy floor, its six egg-like seeds bouncing, their eyes flashing blue hardly before the red glow had dimmed. A cerulean-tinged ripple of air surged outward from them, the waves crossing over each other and rebounding off the walls until the two Rockets shone with the same aura, stopped in their tracks. The pokéball dropped out of the grunt’s raised hand, clattering uselessly to the ground, the pokémon inside a bare shadow behind the red surface as its trainer and his companion both slumped slowly down.

    “Nice job,” Keegan squeaked, although her tight grip on her bag-strap didn’t loosen and she was backing almost mindlessly away from the men. “Can we go now?”

    “I like that idea,” Bill answered in a voice that was far too high-pitched to be entirely calm. In mutual agreement they fled onward, the exeggcute bouncing along after, while behind them the Rockets slept slumped against the peeling walls of the corridor.



    When the two finally stopped it was in a small storage room filled with grimy, decaying crates, the dust billowing up in the wake of their steps and settling around them. Bill bent over his knees, panting, and Keegan leaned against one of the boxes, gripping her pendant tightly against the tight stitch in her side as the wood half crumbled under her touch. “What—the hell—is Team Rocket doing down here?” she gasped, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand as Bill’s exeggcute studied her from the dirty floor, looking confused.

    “I— I’m not sure—I want to know,” Bill answered breathlessly, still looking pale even though he straightened and smoothed down his lapels, dusting himself off with trembling hands. “But—we ought to report it to—to the Pokémon Association as quick as we can.”

    Keegan nodded wordlessly, her heart-rate beginning to slow. She didn’t know what was worse; the abrupt, overwhelming rush of adrenaline from a face-to-face confrontation or the slow, agonising fear of spying.

    Confrontation, she decided, shakily brushing her sweat-damp fringe off her forehead. She, Ross and their pokémon had played spying ever since they were kids; she was somewhat used to it.

    “Cucucucucu!” The sudden, high-pitched voice of Bill’s exeggcute made Keegan jump back against the crates, startled, as the pink seeds bounced enthusiastically at her feet.

    “What—what—what—?!” she yelped in surprise, her hand flying to the pokéballs at her belt in an automatic response caused by the run-in with the magnemite and the few mareep she’d seen on the way to Goldenrod. Seeing her reaction, Bill hastily raised a pokéball, recalling the exeggcute mid-bounce; but Keegan stood frozen, her fingertips touching an empty space on her belt and her eyes widening in dawning horror.

    “Oh, no,” she whispered; then she frantically snatched at her pokéballs, expanding them one by one, but only two were filled. “Tarn’s gone!”

    “One of your pokémon?” Bill looked thunderstruck. “But they—but how—”

    “I don’t—I don’t know!” Keegan’s grip tightened on Hazel and Firefoot’s pokéballs, staring fixedly into Hazel’s as the eevee put her paws urgently on the inside surface of the sphere, black eyes insistent. “I have to go.”

    With that Keegan stepped around Bill and ran back the way they’d come, ignoring the pokémaniac as he made a grab for her wrist.

    “You can’t! Team Rocket’s back there!” he shouted desperately after her retreating back.

    He never got an answer.

    “Oh dear,” The young man wavered, raising a hand to pat his thick hair uncertainly and looking around almost as though expecting Officer Jenny to descend upon him helpfully. Then, tugging at his collar nervously, he chased after Keegan.

    The girl didn’t stop until she reached the decrepit corridor where they’d met with the Rockets, but the two criminals were long gone and Keegan took only a moment to see this before sweeping into the intersection and scouring the area recklessly. She hardly even noticed when Bill arrived, completely out of breath and clutching his side. “Oh, I’m not cut out for this,” he wheezed, sitting on the long rectangular pot nearby.

    “He’s not here,” Keegan moaned, feeling sick as she leaned over to check behind the pot and almost knocked Bill off his unstable perch. I just got him and he’s been through so much what must he be thinking of me now—

    She clutched at her pendant, tugging on it hard enough for the chain to dig into her skin and snapping her head around to look down the corridor the Rockets had come in by. “They must have—they must have—”

    They must have taken him, was what she couldn’t say, and Bill’s sharp, indrawn breath made it clear he understood. For several long moments Keegan stared blankly down the hall, almost as though her mind had simply shut down.

    What do I do? I can’t do anything, I’m not even a trainer, I haven’t practiced or anything, I’m not strong at all, not like Lance or Drake or Winona—

    Stop,
    the ‘little fox’ ordered abruptly. Panicking isn’t helping, and you can’t leave him behind.

    But what can I
    do? I can’t—I can’t—

    You spied on a pair of Rockets without being seen, you held off a horde of magnemite,
    and you helped hold off a trio of weird people in blue at the Tin Tower, so don’t tell me you can’t do anything. Remember when you met Ross.

    Oh…


    Keegan felt a pang. She’d met Ross not long after Peter and Miriam had adopted her, when she’d escaped out onto the street in the frustration of being forced to stay with people she didn’t know. She’d stayed out for hours, ignoring the people who went out searching for her, until she’d run—literally—into a brown-haired boy about her age. She’d told him she didn’t want to be found and he’d taken her down the back-alleys in his little cockleshell of a boat, pulled by the baby wailmer that was his companion.

    It had been familiar, that feeling of running and hiding, and after that the pair and their pokémon had made it a series of games to make her feel more at home. It was what they were good at.

    That’s what I can do.

    But…
    she swallowed. But can I do it well enough? I’m scared…

    “Miss Keegan?”

    Bill’s hand on her arm broke her out of her reverie and her stomach lurched when she looked into his anxious brown eyes, realizing she had to make the decision now. “We should go to Officer Jenny,” he said quietly.

    “But by then it’ll be too late,” Keegan whispered. “I can’t—I can’t leave him.” God, I’m scared.

    But I can’t leave him.

    I won’t leave him.


    She moved to turn away, but Bill exclaimed wordlessly and grabbed her shoulder. “Wait!” he cried. “You can’t just go barging into danger like that. This isn’t a game!”

    Keegan’s heart skipped a beat and for an instant she was frozen, caught by an overwhelming sense of déj?* vu and an equally overwhelming sense of realization. For a heartbeat there was silence; then she turned slightly to look him out of the corner of her eye and said softly, “Yes, it is.”

    It has to be. For now, it has to be, or I’ll run away screaming. It’s a game for now.

    I’ll deal with the consequences later.


    With that she pulled out of his grasp and hurried down the corridor, her heart pounding in her chest and her mind carefully blank to avoid thinking about just how frightened she was, her footsteps automatically light on the dirty floor.

    Back at the intersection, Bill deflated, his fist clenching ineffectually in the air. Then he took a deep breath, grimaced, and followed after.



    Voices echoed down the long, grimy corridors, and Keegan flinched and stopped short. Bill stifled a yelp, almost tripping over in his attempt not to crash into her, he’d been so close behind her and so busy looking around nervously.

    Cautiously, eyes riveted to the broken doorway ahead of them, Keegan crept forward. With exaggerated care Bill stepped around the broken glass on the floor to follow, staring down to make sure he made no noise. They emerged through the doorway to find themselves in a huge storeroom, its steel pylons rusting but filled with crates that were larger and sturdier than the ones they’d seen previously. The Rockets’ voices reverberated in the high space, marking their position as somewhere beyond the wall of timber.

    Keegan sank down against the makeshift barrier, closing her eyes and taking a deep, shaky breath as Bill dropped to the ground beside her, wishing with all his might that he was somewhere else.

    “Well, you got that link up and running?” one familiar voice snapped, sounding bored, and its apparent closeness made Bill jump and Keegan twitch.

    “Not yet,” the other agent sighed in a way that made it clear he’d said this many times before. “It takes time, you know.”

    “Hurry it up, then. As soon as we hack into the Game Corner’s system, we’ll be able to link it with the lab we have under the one in Celadon.” He snorted, and Bill clutched at Keegan’s arm, eyes wide. “So much for their ethics. Where’d they think we were getting our pokémon prizes from, the breeding centre?”

    “Breeding centres aren’t as well established in Kanto,” his lighter-voiced companion pointed out, clearly only half listening to the rant. “Besides, soon it won’t matter. Once this connection is established, we’ll be able to take over and use Goldenrod’s Game Corner as a front to create a second lab right here in the underground.”

    “Yeah, we already got their first lab-rat for ’em,” the first Rocket laughed cruelly, his hoarse voice echoed by a clang that sounded as though he’d kicked some kind of cage.

    Keegan jerked in response, her breath catching in her throat and her heart skipping a beat, swallowing against sudden nausea. Tarn, she thought with a mixture of despair and guilt, clenching her fists silently and pressing them into her lap until Bill’s insistent tugging on the short sleeve of her shirt gained her attention.

    “If you’re so bored, why don’t you go looking for those two idiots we ran into?” the second Rocket was saying irritably. “If they go to the police we’ll be in a load of trouble.”

    “Forget it,” the first Rocket answered dismissively. “The Association controls the police, and we practically control the Association.”

    At that Bill let out a disbelieving squeak, then clapped both hands over his mouth in horror at the slip, but the Rocket had begun talking again and it went unnoticed.

    “Besides, if they do send people down here we’ll just clear out and wait ’til they’re gone again.”

    Keegan stopped listening and closed her eyes; every word was reminding her of their situation like a slap in the face, which was something she didn’t need. She needed to believe this was a game, that it was Ross on the other side of the crates and not criminals, if only for a few minutes longer. Otherwise it was just too big, and she wasn’t a hero or a police officer, she couldn’t deal with extortion and theft and criminals—all she could do was save her newest friend.

    So that’s what she would do, and she would do it by playing a game the Rockets didn’t even know they were participating in.

    I know how I can do it, too.

    The girl opened her eyes and turned to Bill almost mechanically, the pokémaniac quaking beside her with wide eyes and hands still covering his mouth. “Does your exeggcute know Sleep Powder?” she asked softly, and Bill nodded hesitantly, his wavy hair flapping. “I need some. Quietly.”

    A few moments later Keegan had a handkerchief full of the sparkling green dust, carefully knotting the corners of the embroidered material and tying it to her belt, slipping her bag off her shoulder as Bill patted the tops of his exeggcute’s seeds.

    “How are you going to put them to sleep?” Bill asked urgently in a hushed voice, but Keegan wasn’t listening, too busy focussing on what she had to do as she stood and clambered silently up the stack of boxes. Bill blinked, startled, then felt a rush of admiration and worry both, praying she wouldn’t get herself killed.

    Tensely Keegan peeked over the opposite edge of the crates, her body hugging the smaller boxes resting on the apex of the barrier and skin prickling with goosebumps and splinters, her nose itching with the dust-caused sneezes she refused to let loose. She saw the head of one of the Rocket grunts pacing as he muttered to himself, the spiky black hair jutting from under his cap marking him as the aggressor from before. Across the other side there was another wall of crates, just as high as the one upon which Keegan rested but backed against the stained concrete wall.

    Next to that she could just see the top of a shiny, steel-barred case, reflecting the long, intermittent lights above. The second Rocket was so far unaccounted for.

    For a few moments Keegan lay there, shaking, trying not to pant or throw up and certain she could do either one at any moment. With her heart in her throat and shaking hands, she slid forward until she could see inside the cage…

    And felt a spear of despair plunge into her belly, her limbs clenching up. The pokémon in the cage wasn’t Tarn; it was the umbreon which had led the Rockets on them in the first place. Its glaring red eyes tracked the pacing Rocket grunt, its hackles raised and ears back in an expression of defiant hostility.

    He’s not here… I’m looking in the wrong place… Keegan’s arms began to shake with the odd position she was holding and the adrenaline pumping through her, her thoughts on what to do next scrambled by panic and indecision. She flinched when the bored Rocket grunt began talking again but ignored his words, frantically searching out every visible corner of the room. He has to be here, he has to, because if he isn’t then I don’t know where else to look and I can’t have come here for no reason—

    You didn’t,
    the little fox pointed out. There’s a pokémon there who’s going to be experimented on. Isn’t that worth something?

    Her eyes fell on the black-furred pokémon and she managed to calm slightly. Yes, it’s something.

    That was when the Rocket pounded on the roof of the cage with one fist as he passed, making Keegan jump and the pokémon back away with a curl of its lips. Keegan saw a flash of shiny red material as it cocked its head and glared at the man from close range, and jolted with recognition.

    Tarn’s pokéball! He is here! He is here, and that means…

    That meant she couldn’t just turn around and go away like she wanted to. That meant she’d have to precipitate a confrontation, something she simply wasn’t good at.

    On the other hand, if her plan worked…

    Keegan closed her eyes and took several deep breaths to still her shaking hands, then crept forward until she was well within the pacing Rocket’s line of sight—if he’d cared to look up. It was only then that she could see the crates serving as a makeshift desk just below her, supporting a laptop computer with a dozen cords of varying sizes trailing out the back and leading into a hidden path within the array of boxes.

    Seated on a small wooden crate, glaring impatiently at the screen, was the second Rocket, his silky red hair just touching his shoulders. If he had looked straight up he may have seen the boxes rocking slightly as Keegan eased herself onto the nearest cartons to the little alcove in which the Rockets were hidden. To the left was a veritable mountain of wares; to the right was the path out.

    Slowly, carefully, keeping her eyes on the self-muttering Rocket, Keegan reached back and untied the handkerchief from her belt, bringing it forward. The umbreon heard her and flicked an ear forward cautiously, its aggression not abating one iota, but neither of its captors noticed.

    Keegan reached out, her chest beginning to ache from holding all of her weight, and gently sprinkled green powder over the redheaded Rocket grunt. He blinked once or twice, shaking his head and making the dust glitter in the light, before slumping down to the makeshift desk. The sound caught the attention of his companion, who clicked his tongue irritably and strode over to shake him awake and, no doubt, give him a tongue-lashing.

    Which was when Keegan scooped up a handful of powder and dumped it over him too.

    Her heart sang with triumph as the man collapsed, suddenly making her feel as light as air, but she didn’t dare let herself rejoice just yet. “Bill!” she hissed over her shoulder to warn the young man; then, without checking to see if he’d heard, she scrambled hastily over the crates to drop to the floor beside the slumbering men, their caps and hair sparkling with the powder. Twitchily, absently brushing dust off her clothes, Keegan hastily searched the thin, black-haired Rocket to find the key to the cage. Once she had it she rushed over there with jumpy, overanxious steps and inserted it into the hole. The umbreon growled, deep in his throat, but didn’t release Tarn’s minimized pokéball.

    “Please, please, please, please, please,” Keegan prayed, fumbling with the key, her hands shaking and heart still in her throat, making it difficult to breathe. Her back kept prickling with awareness, her mind imagining the Rockets sneaking up on her without her knowledge—she didn’t know how long the powder would last and had forgotten to ask.

    The cage finally clicked and, casting a worried glance over at the Rockets, Keegan yanked on the cage door only to have it jam with a seemingly ear-splitting screech. The girl jumped, stifling a surprised scream, then tugged on it uselessly, her breath coming in short, panicky gasps.

    With an irritated growl the umbreon backed away and charged suddenly at the door. It opened with another screech, knocking Keegan back onto the concrete floor. The heavy steel cage tipped forward, spilling the umbreon out and landing on the cement just a foot from Keegan’s legs with a crash that could awaken the dead.

    “What the—” Keegan heard distantly, echoed by a “Goodness!” and knew that the Rockets had woken up, countered by Bill’s timely arrival, but she didn’t have time to worry as the umbreon tried to dart under the cage and out to freedom. Without thinking Keegan grabbed him around the middle; just as instinctively it snarled and whipped around, dropping Tarn’s pokéball and sinking its fangs into Keegan’s wrist.

    Tarn’s pokéball bounced, expanding, as Keegan let out an explosive curse, jerking away from the umbreon and banging her shins against the cage when she rolled. The umbreon dodged out of the alcove as Tarn’s pokéball landed once again, releasing him in a flash of light.

    For a moment the pokémon staggered, disorientated; then his mouth tingled with the familiar taste of his litter-mate. Brother! He shifted to slink automatically in the direction the trail was strongest, but the sound of rushing wings made his ears go back and his head turn. His water-attuned eyes caught the slightly distorted image of a huge purple bat diving at the girl, the girl the cousin of the wilderness had called his Mistress, the girl who had saved him—

    The vaporeon made his decision.

    Keegan pushed herself up, mind muddled, struggling to catch up, and looked up into a huge mouth open in a toothy leer. Her stomach clenched and she scrabbled backwards, but it was too late, the golbat was too close—

    “Vuubuon!” Tarn jumped on Keegan’s shoulder, knocked her down for the second time in as many minutes. The golbat’s sharp fangs missed the girl and grazed Tarn’s side, scraping several thin, bloody lines across his haunch. Tarn hissed, spinning on dainty paws to Tail Whip it into tomorrow; caught straight in its huge maw, Golbat chomped down on Tarn’s slender tail.

    Tarn! Keegan jolted back to a sitting position to see just as the vaporeon howled shrilly in pain, automatically pounding the golbat into the floor and leaving a smear of his own blood. Dazed, Golbat relinquished his grip, and Tarn whipped his tail towards it once again, red droplets flinging off his slick fur to scatter on the concrete and patter lightly over Keegan’s face.

    His attack was interrupted as he was tackled by a thick-furred raticate, sent sprawling towards the middle of the alcove, his previous target fluttering out of range. Keegan pushed herself up against the cage, gritting her teeth against the sharp pain in her wrist and the ringing in her ears as she went for her pokéballs. She released Hazel just in time to bowl the raticate over, inches from where Tarn was staggering to his feet. Snarling, Hazel spun on her paws to send the muscular raticate flying with her thick, fluffy tail, while Tarn fired a Water Gun over her back in time to catch the diving golbat and drive it back towards its trainer in a spray of froth.

    With a curse the black-haired Rocket grunt jumped to the side, water droplets spurting everywhere, dampening the ground and drenching his clothes, and his golbat instead crashed into the mountain of boxes, making them shake violently. Before they or the Rocket grunt could recover the raticate followed, colliding with the man in the chest and making him slip back. With loud thuds the crates tumbled down upon the Rocket and his two dazed pokémon.

    I need—I need—

    “Aurora Beam!” Keegan shouted breathlessly, hoping, praying, that Tarn knew the attack. The vaporeon’s mouth glowed, the air vibrating with cold as the temperature suddenly dropped, ice glittering with the light overhead as Tarn cast a barrier of frost over the crates, preventing the Rocket’s escape.

    Okay, what now—

    “Bonemerang!”

    The order caught Keegan’s attention and her head snapped around in time to see the other Rocket’s cubone draw back one brown paw and hurl its weapon towards the battered vulpix staggering to its feet just across the way.

    “Tarn, Water Gun it!” the girl said urgently, motioning towards the battle, and the vaporeon darted forward, opening his mouth to blast water towards the club spinning end-over-end towards the red-furred fox. The attack caught the bone and drove it back to hit the wood behind it, exploding against the crates and making them shake and tilt dangerously as Bill’s handkerchief, left behind by Keegan, drifted gently to the grimy floor. Vulpix cringed when some of the spray hit it, one lamed paw held gingerly off the ground, but it took advantage of the opportunity to catch its breath as the cubone recoiled from the liquid.

    The redheaded Rocket cursed at their interference, expanding the pokéball he had in his hand and releasing a stout drowzee in a flash of scarlet light.

    Psychic, not good!

    “Quick Attack!” Keegan ordered hurriedly, remembering the way Eusine’s Alakazam had all but monopolised their battle until a dark-type pokémon came into play—which she didn’t have. Could use that umbreon right now!

    She never specified which of her pokémon should attack, but she was still a little surprised when Hazel nudged Tarn encouragingly as she dashed forward to obey and Tarn hesitated only a moment before following willingly. The pair flashed across the alcove, leaping over each other and striking the drowzee with two consecutive hits. It reeled back, long nose whipping the air, and the cubone skittered desperately out of the way to avoid being stepped on.

    Hazel seized the opportunity to dart past their guards and slam violently into the crates the Rockets had been using as a desk. The wood crumbled, the laptop sliding from its perch to crash to the floor in an explosion of sparks while the eevee raced for the vaporeon crouched defensively in front of Bill and Vulpix, her expression one of self-satisfied triumph.

    “You—” the Rocket looked a mixture of stunned and furious as Hazel flicked her tail at him disdainfully, and Keegan didn’t know whether to be shocked by her audacity or laugh at it; either way the girl was in awe.

    Since when has Hazel been such a good battler?!

    “Hypnosis!”

    That’s bad.

    “Fire Spin!” Bill yelled out almost simultaneously from where he’d been standing back, his face pale and hands clutching Keegan’s bag to his chest as though for comfort. His vulpix darted between Hazel and Tarn, eyes narrowed with determination even though it had only three paws to walk on. With a high keen it opened its mouth, allowing fire to explode from its dainty muzzle. Flames roiled towards the psychic pokémon at the same time that the drowzee’s eyes flashed blue, lines of air rippling outward.

    The fire and the Hypnosis collided in sparks of blue-orange flames and a wave of heat that made anything close to it flinch back. Keegan staggered to her feet as the blaze dissipated into nothingness, leaving the vulpix standing unsteadily with one paw raised, its breathing laboured while the boxes around it smouldered and began to catch fire.

    The drowzee was gone and the Rocket was in the process of returning his singed cubone, spinning on his heels to scramble over the unruly mounds of boxes without even glancing at the melting ice restraining his companion. Hazel went after him while Tarn skidded to halt in front of the burning crates, drawing back his head to fire jets of water at them and put them out.

    Hazel bounded up onto one of the undamaged crates to follow the Rocket, but at that moment several boxes collapsed into cinders, shifting the balance and making the entire heap move. Hazel’s paws skittered over timber as she tried desperately to keep her balance, but it was too late; kicking up dust and wood, the Rocket pushed his way out of the jumble and dashed down a corridor.

    The smell of wet smoke filled the air of the abruptly silent room and Keegan sank back down to the floor, all the tension draining out of her and leaving her feeling weak and dazed. It’s over. It’s all over.

    And we won. We won the game.

    …we won the game that wasn’t a game.


    She felt hysterical laughter bubbling up inside her and took several deep breaths to avoid breaking down. Instead her eyes lit upon the sleek vaporeon who was staring at his quick-thinking handiwork and her stomach twisted with the might-have-been and a sharp sense of victory. I saved him. I did that.

    “Tarn, you okay?” she asked him a little dazedly, still clutching her wrist, her hand now with red trickling between her fingers. The vaporeon jumped in surprise at being addressed, his ears flickering and eyes wide from whatever he’d been thinking, hunkering down towards the floor in automatic debasement.

    “Eebui,” Hazel purred, trotting up to his side reassuringly before looking up at Keegan with a sort of reflected pride in her pack-mate—pride which quickly morphed into concern when her sharp eyes took in the view of her trainer.

    “Goodness me,” Bill mumbled from where he was kneeling by the soaked and burned crates, cradling his injured vulpix and letting it snuggle comfortingly into his elbow. “I’m not cut out for this… I can’t do this… dear Lord, are you all right?”

    For he’d just looked over at Keegan and seen her bleeding wrist. She looked down at it and now that she’d remembered it she began to feel the sharp, throbbing pain and the itch as blood made tracks down her skin.

    “Oh,” Keegan stared at it uncomprehendingly for a moment; then there came a hesitant whine nearby and she looked up to see Tarn offering her Bill’s singed and damp handkerchief, the vaporeon looking anxious and skittish. Keegan blinked and took it, managing to summon up a grateful smile for the vaporeon as she pressed the handkerchief against the four dainty punctures on her wrist. “Thanks.”

    “Vuubuon,” Tarn flicked his ears forward, keeping low to the floor, his expression something akin to confused, almost frightened pleasure—like he’d never heard that word before, not directed at him—as Hazel pressed herself against Keegan’s thigh in support.

    “What do we do now?” she asked Bill wearily as the pokémaniac stood, clutching his vulpix in his crossed arms and letting its fiery red tails droop down.

    She’s asking me? Bill looked around at the charred crates, smoke still in the air; at the black ash and red embers mixing with the glittering sleep powder and the twinkling ice-dust; the clutter of crates; the frozen barrier. Hm. Actually, considering what’s happened so far…

    He looked at the dusty, injured young woman, her blonde hair in disarray and white top turned grey, at the three pairs of eyes which looked at him questioningly, and cut off that thought. She got her pokémon back, and she was willing to face up against two Rocket grunts to do it. How many trainers could say that?

    Although I have to wonder exactly why
    I’m here…

    Bill shook his head to clear his thoughts. “We should go to the police,” he decided, his vulpix peeking over its ruddy-brown paws resting on its master’s arm. Keegan didn’t argue as he’d feared she would; instead she just tied his handkerchief around her wrist and stood, dabbing away the trails down her hand.

    “I’ll go to the police,” Bill added. “You should go on to Celadon.”

    “Why?” Keegan asked, reaching out to take her bag from him and inwardly wincing at the slightly whiny tone of her voice. She wanted to sleep. If she didn’t feel so wrung out she’d had been a little more concerned about what happened, and later she probably would be, but right then she couldn’t muster the energy to care. Absently the girl swept the ash and powder off her bag, slinging it over her shoulder.

    “Because you need to warn the gym leader about the laboratory under the Celadon Game Corner,” Bill explained, returning his vulpix to its own pokéball to rest and brushing inattentively at his suit.

    “Okay,” Keegan agreed in a small voice, wiping at the itch on her cheeks and blinking dumbly down at the red smears on her fingers before remembering the blood was Tarn’s.

    “We’ll—we’ll have to leave that other fellow here,” the pokémaniac said in afterthought, and hoped that the man wouldn’t freeze half to death before they got him help. “But first we’ve got to get you to the Magnet Train—it’s right next to the police station, so it shouldn’t take long.”

    “Lead the way,” Keegan forced a tired smile, pulling up her reserves of mental strength. “I’m—I’m starving.” She managed a tiny grin when Hazel clawed her jeans leg eagerly in agreement. “Hope Celadon has some good food.”

    Bill stared at her for a moment before chuckling weakly, remembering back to the way she’d pronounced the whole escapade as a game and wondering, with a twinge of worry, exactly what she was planning to do in Celadon.
    Last edited by purple_drake; 11th August 2008 at 1:26 PM.

  4. #29
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    YAY!!!!!! PD has a new chap. Well I must say this was wonderful work again. It was so reminiscent of the past fic that I was very excited about how much better it actually was the second time through. The battle was great, you did a wonderful job trying to handle 3-4-5 Pokemon at once. Great description as always. ^^ YAY Umbreon!!!!! I love Brother. He's just so cool. And Tarn is here again. She's awesome too. ^^; i found like 2 mistakes throughout really. Mainly typos so I'd just thought I'd address then now.

    weedle on a tree nearby **** its head at her, but
    I'm pretty sure what you're trying to say isn't a cuss word. But since it's all astericked I don't know what you're trying to say. So may want to fix that up.

    Well-lit by the huge round globes handing overhead and decorated with longpot-plants
    I think instead of handing you mean hanging. And I think it's potted.

    overwhelming sense of déj?* vu and an equally overwhelming
    Okay wierdness with serebii I think I know you mean deja vu but you may wanna fix that to make it not so ?*y.

    With a high keen it opened its mouth, allowing fire to explode
    This is the mistake that prolly isn't a mistake. I've always known keen to be an adjective and here it's used as a noun. I don't know if it can be used as one because you pulled it off rather well by you making it sound like a noun. So I don't really know about this. I may need some author clarification. ^^

    Well hope the next chap doesn't take another like 2 months this time. ^^; Cause I'm starting to get bored around here with none of the fics I'm reading getting updated. -_- O well, again nice job and I hope to get another one from you soon.
    jirachiman out
    Yes people, I have returned.
    Pearl FC. Arlen 1718-9710-2821
    Eat More Chicken!!! Self-proclaimed, unofficial spokesman for Chick-Fil-A.

  5. #30
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    Weeh! Purple-drake has a new chapter^-^I'm back once again and ready with a review, but before I start I want to say that this chapter is very similar to the original(even with the cousin of the lake and stuff) and that disappointed me a little, nonetheless it's a great chapter.

    Anyway, how right I was that she was going to get a new pokemon, and it's lovely Tarn(it's the only pokemon of Keegan that I remember of the original although that could also be because it was the only extra pokemon she had during the original story)

    One question about Tarn though, is He/She female or male?(because Jirachiman just said Tarn was female but I always thought He/She was male, please explain...



    Tarn bonded rather quickly with Keegan(which does not surprise me but also disappoint me) With Keegan sweet and caring personality it is rather difficult to dislike her but having the experience of being left alone it's a little strange, although I quite liked it that Tarn was completely clueless what to do when he was left out of his pokéball to battle and not to fight.


    Another question about Tarn(I always bombard you with questions, I hope you aren't annoyed by it>___<) Is Tarn's real name Bairn? If so, it seems more logical to me that Tarn is male, because Bair sounds like a boy's name, please explain this as well^-^'?


    I remember that Keegan originally fought Whitney in Goldenrod as well but she was not introduced in this version(did you dislike to add a battle or was it because the chapter would have been lengthened even more?) and she got a gym badge, and then bumped into Bill which directly happened after starting to search for the Magnet Train Station.

    Again, brother(Tarn's brother of course) stole Tarn's pokéball and ran off with it but was captured by Team Rocket like the original(I disliked this as well as it almost seemed like an exact copy of the old version if I remember correctly). I don't remember Bill having an excecute(probably wrongly spelled^-^') but Vulpix was also in the original one.


    If my memory is correct then Keegan also yelled Aurora Beam as an act of desperation(sorry if I'm wrong) But the battle was nicely done and not to confusing(if it relieves you a bit) and full of action which I love, congratulations because of that. Now the ending was pulled of splendidly, Keegan being too tired to care about the consequences(and her infamous mantra "It's just a game," has made it's reappearance in this chapter^-^)


    I'm actually a little saddened by this chapter as it had too much of the old version, Keegan finding Tarn, Bring him/her to the pokecenter, searching for the magnet train station, Bumping into Bill, getting lost together with him and encountering Team Rocket, Brother stealing Tarn's pokeball, and Keegan putting the agents to sleep with sleep powder(I think that was in the original but I'm not sureT__T)

    sorry, didn't like it so much(but don't be discouraged, I still admire you're describing skills that made this chapter such an entertaining piece of writing)

    'till next time

    ~Aimi Hanako~

    P.S. If I remember correctly, Brother is gonna help a boy who loses to Keegan when she tries to contact Erika, But he only helps him to save Tarn from Keegan, I think it goes like that, so please tell me that it goes a little different this time(I'm Begging you>___<)

    P.P.S. Would you like to read my fic if you have time, it's called 'The cursed ones: A journey through Hoenn' I would love some critic

    ByeByeBye
    Searching for Inspiration...

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by jirachiman876 View Post
    i am going to kill serebii. I was going to have this up before anyone!!!! GAH!!!!
    You shouldn't do that, and you already posted, and why is it so important to review first?

    Quote Originally Posted by jirachiman876 View Post
    Well now I notice it did get through. *asks PD to delete this post*
    You can delete the post yourself you know>__>juts click on edit and you should spot it, anway, good luck with next chapter PD

    'till next time,

    ~Aimi Hanako~
    Searching for Inspiration...

  7. #32
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    Oh, excellent stuff. It has been such a long time since you last posted and I was wondering if you had forgotten about the story (I hoped you hadn't). I checked the fanfic section absentmindedly and, my, was I surprised (and extremely excited) to see that you had posted again.

    Just like your other stories, I hugely enjoyed reading this new chapter. The entire story so far has been so engaging, well written with such a definitive opening, climax and receeding action to every section. You have a neat way of tying each chapter together and drawing each of them to a close, the resolution for each is so distinctive it makes me wish it wouldn't end. A skilled writer in every sense. Wonderful!

    As to your reply earlier, the upcoming plot mixing legendaries with everyday life is promising actually (usually, I'm not fond of these types of plot), I'm quite interested in seeing how the story goes, how you write it, how you further develop character, what adventures await. Don't disappoint me.

    ;D

    When I first read about the meeting of Keegan and the nameless vaporeon, I thought, "Aw, how sweet." Then, further before he spoke to Hazel, I remembered your other story, Brother My Brother, and wondered, "Wait. This vaporeon reminds me of the vaporeon in that other story about the eevees. Does this story perhaps... tie in with that one?" I was so excited recognising Bairn before you introduced him properly, and I felt even happier knowing that you managed to connect two stories - that I had once thought vastly different - together quite impressively.

    I loved that moment though. You made me remember Bairn and Brother's story, the hardships they encountered and overcame, their relationships with each other, the importance of family; Brother's unwavering determination to protect his brother, their distinct personalities, and the ending that left me wanting to read more. When I read when Keegan saved Bairn, I immediately felt empathetic towards the vaporeon. Knowing, no, remembering Bairn's backstory, the fact that Brother My Brother presented only a slice of history in Keegan's story, made the impact of this scene on me, as a reader, all the more worthwhile. I loved how you worked memory into this, even if it was unintentional.

    Heehee, onto humour. So many funny moments - especially Keegan's wonderful sense of direction merging with Bill's own sense of undirection getting them lost in the underground - kept the mood light and pushed the chapter forward, made the story as a whole seem more realistic. Such solid characters! Bill's portrayal was absolute <3 and his re/actions were a joy to read. I think this section (I rarely quote from the story, but I feel I can't express it any other way):

    “Hypnosis!”

    That’s bad.
    was hilarious, even if you hadn't intended it to be even remotely funny. When I read it, I really did burst out laughing. I think it's the short sentences.

    You describe battles like no one else can. Once again you have over 2 pokemon in one battle at once. The battle was direct and descriptions were to-the-point. Nothing was waffly, everything was tight, concise and flowing. Solid and believable, I loved reading the battle scenes. You were even able to incorporate an element of humour in too, when both Hazel and Bairn (I like using his eevee name) Quick Attacked the drowzee. :')

    Continue on with your superb writing! I'll be back, waiting for you to post once again, watching you with eagle eyes...

    Anyway.
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  8. #33
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    jirachiman: Whee! ^.^ hello! Thank you. Everyone seems to like my battles action seems to be my forte. And BTW, Tarn's a 'he', not a 'she' :P

    Oooh. <_< I hate the forum swear filter, I really do; it takes things to such extremes that you can't use perfectly normal words simply because they either have alternate connotations or a part of a word is a 'bad word'. Like snigger. That ends up asterisked because it's got 'nigger' in it.

    The word I was trying to use there was 'cock', as in the motion of tilting your head to get a better look at something. And what if someone wanted to talk about a rooster? *grumbles and mutters about stupid swear filters which seem to want to take every word in existance and make it illegal*

    *cough* anyway. Sorry. The swear filter is my pet peeve. Thanks for pointing that out; I beta on Word before I post, not in the posting page.

    You're right, that is supposed to be 'hanging' as for 'potted', it would be 'potted' if it weren't hyphenated; as it is, it's just another way of saying the plant's potted. Like saying 'half-hour' or 'half an hour'. As for keen, yes it can be used like a noun and even if it couldn't, I'd prolly use it like that anyway. I like breaking the writing rules I'll get on to those changes <_< as soon as the forums decide to behave. I swear I spend more time reloading timed-out pages than I do on the actual forum!

    *pokes* and in point of fact, it took one month, not two :P I've been posting this story monthly, with only a few days either way so no complaints!


    Aimi Hanako: I know, that's why this chapter took so bloody long -_-;; it's been mostly-done for six months, I just couldn't get into the rest of it because it was so similar to the original. Unfortunately a lot of the beginning of the story is going to be similar to the original--that's the purpose of a rewrite, to overhaul what you've already got. If what you've already written is what you want, why bother writing from scratch instead of copy and pasting (with little pieces beefed up in between, of course).

    Tarn's male and actually, Keegan did get another pokemon in the original--although you may not have read that far, so...

    You're right about Tarn seeming to bond quickly with her... I didn't really mean for that to happen, but in the original there wasn't really a point when they introduced each other, and I thought it needed something like that. So I put it in.

    But I don't really think of it as him having 'bonded' with her--not just yet. He is not, however, a vengeful personality, so he's not going to react to her with too much distrust. What he's always wanted is a nice trainer to take care of him and his brother (my other story, Brother My Brother, shows some of this if you haven't already read it) and Keegan's been fairly nice to him, so he's kind of hopeful and responding to that, even if he's not completely one of the gang yet. During the battle I tried to portray him as following Hazel's lead--I doubt he'd battle nearly as well if she hadn't been there to follow. Plus, if nothing else, he's got a debt to pay to Keegan for saving his life.

    Thanks for pointing it out, though--it's something I need to keep in mind... oh, and his first name was Bairn, yes but trainers have no way of finding that out, so... I was kinda disappointed I couldn't call him that anymore, actually, I thought it suited him.

    As for the next chapter ^.^;; sorreh, but the next few chapters are going to be fairly similar to the original, at least in the basic events. It won't be until maybe chapter 9 that we really get into the stuff I haven't posted before. That said, some things *are* going to be different--in the next chapter the sequence has switched around, and Tynan's character has been given a complete overhaul. Now he's more like what I originally envisioned him to be, instead of suffering from a terminal case of 'rival syndrome'.

    On your story, um ^.^;; I don't really read pokemon stories much anymore, and I don't really have the time to give concrit (hence the reason I'm not on the reviewers list). Sorry.


    Souku: Oh, don't worry I never, ever forget about my stories. Get frustrated and feel guilty for not writing them, yes, but I never ever forget them. And trust me, it's not really a long time for me I'm actually doing pretty good in posting this semi-regularly. The last time... *shakes head* now that was bad.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! ^.^ I'm not really going to be mixing legendaries with 'everyday life', as you say--it's more along the lines of, Keegan's not some chosen one or hugely powerful trainer they all gather to. She's there for certain reasons, and nor will she be the only one.

    Yay, you noticed! ^.^ hee, I loved writing Brother My Brother--I've actually given it an overhaul, so I should edit my old copy for the new one. It wasn't a completely new rewrite though, not like for CaC, 'cause I just didn't have the energy for that. Actually, one of the things I love most about writing CaC is Brother and Bairn, their characters and writing the dynamics between them. Brother's been in control for so long, now he's jealous rest assured that Bairn's going to come into his own strength by the end of the story.

    I love Bill ^.^ Bill always come out the way I imagine him--he just takes control and writes himself!

    Actually, I did intend for that to be at least slightly humorous ^.^;; I think it's my thought process. I have a pretty sarcastic thought process, so that's kind of reflected in my writing (and my editing assignments. I get busted for being too sarcastic and not tactful enough in my editing tasks).

    Now you're just making me blush the next chapter's almost done, except for a few scenes I need to decide the order to, so I may just post earlier (I'm trying to stay at least semi-regular). ^.^ Thanks again.

  9. #34
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    ;_;

    I have a lot of catching up to do...two big chappies. ;_; I have been shying away from the forums ever since I got Pearl (which I am playing currently...look in my signature and you'll see why.) And the forums have been freezing and acting whacky lately, and so, Ryano Ra has been running away from them. Plus it is the fact that I haven't been writing anything since early May (I lost MAJOR progress on my story, but I hope to make up for it during the summer...just gotta push back the release of it, I guess). But please give me some time...I shall hopefully catch up this week and have my review set by this Saturday. =) *rides away on his Drapion*
    ~ COMING SOON ~


    Shiftry leapt into the air, shrieking and roaring as she started glowing and absorbing the sun’s light. Leaves shifted and curled at the edges as footsteps sounded on the grass. Her eyes were wide open and crazed, glazed with a white radiance. A slim, dark figure spontaneously crossed overhead, elegant and mysterious as it disappeared within the rose-colored vortex. It all seemed like a medieval fantasy; only reality blended in to make it all seem practical. The new otherworldly essence drifted in, allowing the illumination to bless the woman and reveal herself to the world. Karen had arrived

  10. #35
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    Cool Reviewing finally!

    So sorry, i tried to mail this sooner, but lightning struck the network pole at home and crashed the whole network! No, I'm not kidding!!!

    So far so good! Keegan catches a vaporeon and may add an Umbreon to the crew! Looks like Keegan's getting quite a number of Eeveelutions to her team!

    Apart from not spelling the Pokemon species with a starting caps lock letter, the only glitch i saw in this was:

    With a jerk and a pain-filled cry that made Keegan flinch the vaporeon slung about,
    With a jerk and a pain-filled cry that made Keegan flinch, the Vaporeon was slung about,

    I also liked the whole dialogue between Hazel and Tarn. Portrayed very nicely.
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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  11. #36
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    Just finished chapter 4. Great work, as always. It's been so long I can barely remember what all exactly is supposed to happen, but I'm remembering parts here and there. I'm just waiting for you to catch up to where you were before.

    [SPOILER]Where Keegan is recognized by some members of Team Magma. I believe you left us with the cliffhanger of them finally realizing it, and then you disappeared.[/SPOILER]

    Nevertheless, I know I'll love this all over again.

    The blonde-haired human instantly raised the Bonding Orb she held,
    I like that term, Bonding Orb, and the way you capitalized it gives it a sense of reverence from the pokémon's perspective as well, which one could suppose they would think of it that way, considering what it can do and all.

    I know you said you only caught him because he needed treatment, but you are the one who found him, so I was hoping you might be willing to take him with you.”
    She did? Are we just supposed to assume in the time that doesn't seem too long the way it's written Keegan mentions this, or does something need to be added/taken away here? To me, it would seem that, from what I read here, Joy would probably be thinking it was Keegan that caused this to happen to the vaporeon, and might be inquiring about that.

    When Keegan came downstairs the next morning it was at her usual time, meaning that the spacious lobby was mostly empty aside from those trainers who liked to get a good start on things. Nurse Joy was already at the counter, her white cap sitting atop her pink hair,
    When I first read this, I missed what I've bolded, which really made me wonder. I was thinking "what the heck? Since when does Keegan have pink hair? or wear a cap of any sort? I must really have missed something." lol. Then I reread it and it made a lot more sense to me. lol.

    Probably not. He probably only got fed by the healing-mothers.
    Another term I like. It's really nice how you give the pokémon their own form of speech for these things, instead of automatically assuming they refer to everything the same way humans do.

    water droplets spurting everywhere to dampen the ground and drench his clothes,
    For some reason, I don't like the 'to' in this sentence. Almost makes it sound as if that was the intent with which the water gun as fired, but idk. Maybe it's just me. Somethign about that entire paragraph bugged me, but I'm not entirely sure what or why.

    And, since Twilight Absol isn't around to say it (or not say it, if I remember correctly) this time, you're a genius. Lol, memories... Purple drake, twilight absol, and billy bob pennywhistle, the first three usernames I came to recognize around here. This fic's awesoem beyond it's words, considering that it got me into foruming, which eventually got me into writing myself, as well as other things. Indirectly, I owe a ton to you, PD. Bet you never thought C&C would do that, eh? Either way, thanks again and I can't wait for the next chapter, and the one after that, and the one after that, and--well, I think you get the point XD.

    I remember when "The Authors' Cafe" was still "The Author's Cafe".
    Scrap, purple_drake, Ryano Ra, and Burnt Flower are my fanfic idols.


    --fics--
    NEW:Emory In Viridian- A more realistic spin on a new trainer trekking through Viridian Forest. [one-shot]
    NEW:Pallet Evening News [on DeviantArt and not Serebii due to short length] - A disturbing report from Pallet Town's evening news concerning three new trainers. [one-shot]
    Tómur -Dark contemplations of an undisclosed Pokemon about nothingness and the end. [one-shot]
    The Traveler - A lonely traveler encounters a malevolent pokemon during the night on Route 8. [one-shot]
    Redead - A Redead's perspective on its own life. [Legend of Zelda one-shot]

    More at my DeviantArt



  12. #37
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    Heh… no need to apologize to me at least for a two-poster; I love long chapters. ^^

    Anyway, fantastic chapter, fun as hell to read. Loved the vs. Rockets scene—the suspense of Keegan sneaking up to dump the Sleep Powder on those two + the terrific battle that followed = two great tastes that taste great together.

    And another great thing about that scene, as well as every second of this chapter in which he appeared: BILL. *does happy dance* Man… so many of my favorite canon characters in one fic—I love it. Anyway, he was so frelling adorable in that chapter. ^^ I especially like his little “Oh dear” and “I’m not cut out for this” comments. <3 His getting himself and Keegan lost in the underground was also priceless. XD Man… so many of my favorite canon characters in one fic—I love it.

    Liked the Pokémon perspective parts, definitely. I especially liked Hazel’s referring to a Poké Ball as a “Bonding Orb”. I wonder, is that what many Pokémon call those, or is that just a term used by Hazel’s kind? (I find myself inclined to think the latter.) I really liked the term “healing-mothers”, too, though I’m not sure exactly what Hazel was referring to by that term. ^^; But my guess is that she was referring to Chansey.

    And as always, I love the internal dialogue between Keegan and the “little fox”. ^^

        Spoiler:- Favorite excerpts and et cetera:



    That is my favorite chapter so far. Awesome work yet again. ^^

    Current Chapter: Chapter 18 – Remnants

    COMPLETE
    Communication banner: Saffire Persian | TOoS banner: CHeSHiRe-CaT

  13. #38
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    Whoops ^.^;; sorry for the late replies. Homework, no Internet access (due to a certain pesky sister who had a long weekend) and then the site was down yesterday. Oh, and let's not forget writing next chapter is done and chances are it'll be up sooner than the others were.

    Ryano: ooooh, I HATE it when you've written heaps and then lose it all ;_; I've been put off stories for months because of that happening. *hugs* well, here's to getting your muse back, and I hope you enjoy the chappies whenever you get the time.


    Air Dragon: Keegan's caught the vaporeon, but the umbreon escaped so no, only one eeveelution.

    As for capitalising, it actually depends on your style. I don't capitalise because pokemon species' names are nouns, just like 'human' or 'dog' or 'cat'; so I only capitalise when they're used as pronouns. Since Keegan nicknames her pokemon, that doesn't happen as often as it might.

    As for the second glitch, technically I'm not wrong, although that sentence is kind of wordy and I could do with a comma there but since it's in the middle of a battle, there's a sense of immediacy, which is represented by the present tense form of the sentence, whereas your suggestion is in the past tense and isn't nearly as urgent. Make sense?

    ^.^ thanks for the feedback though, it's good when you make me stop and think.


    SnoringFrog: You might wanna fix up those spoiler tags of yours and I do remember leaving you on a cliffhanger, but it was on Cinnabar Island, a chapter or so after all the realizations happened, I believe...

    N'ways. ^.^ Thankies; I'm rather fond of the 'Bonding Orb' myself, although you have no idea how many titles I wrote and then discarded because none of them were good enough.

    The comment on treatment is interesting... I'm still not sure how to answer that one :P I see what you mean, but you seem to assume that Tarn is sick because of poison or something. An illness, on the other hand, is something that Keegan couldn't really have had a hand in giving to him--that's the deparment of good ol' Mother Nature--and the comment that she caught him to get treatment suggests that she found him like that.

    ...is that all making sense? *is swirly-eyed*

    Hee, I'm rather fond of the 'healing-mothers' too ^.^ I think half the fun of writing from pokemon PoVs is to make up their own culture--I have this growing list in MSW of how pokemon refer to themselves, to others, and to the legendaries ^.^ fun fun fun!

    It's not just you. Now you've made me reread that sentence, it's bugging the hell out of me :P I'll have to see if I can reword it.

    You remember correctly I actually went through and saved all the pages to my old thread... ahh, memories. I don't even know if BBP is still around

    For those final comments, you get an awesome-sized cookie in the shape of your choosing I had no idea CaC would have that kind of effect, and I think it's one of the best compliments a story could recieve. Thank you!


    Sike Saner: Hee, I like long chapters too, but it annoys my sensibilities when I have to put it up in two posts

    Sleep Powder is actually one of my favourite attacks--not to mention one of the attacks which I think would be damned useful in the real world, but loses out on its potential because of the constraints of the games. I think I have a criminal mind or something, lol. And I seem to have a tendancy to write tons of pokemon in battles, oich.

    YUS! ^.^ A fellow Bill fan! I always imagine him with the British accent they gave him in the anime, so there's the explanation for his phrases--and I've always imagined him to be the epitome of scatterbrained engineers plus, he's so easy to write!

    As a matter of fact, half the reason I started writing this story was because it's an oppurtunity to write in a lot of canon characters. I love non-romantic stories about canon charries, but there are so few of them around in the pokemon fandom--so I decided, 'I'll write my own'. I've got some other epics planned which are about the canon characters and nothin' but the canon characters (okay, and a few OCs which are absolutely essential but aren't the heroes either), but I really ought to get Keegan's story done first

    As for the pokemon terminology, well, sorry to disappoint ^.^ but I've always thought of 'Bonding Orb' and 'healing-mothers' as being used by all pokemon. Certainly saves me having to come up with different names the 'cousin' business is all eeveelution, though. As for the 'healing-mothers', good guess I suppose they could be used to refer to the chansey, but what I had in mind was actually the Nurse Joys, since I figure they'd need to call them something and they wouldn't really know the concept of 'nurse'. Why don't we just say it means both of them and leave it at that? :P

    Hehehe, Bill always makes me laugh ^.^ when I write his scenes I always end up grinning my head off. Squee, Bill! ^.^

    'happy little bouncing Easter-egg looking things' XD LOL! that just about sums it up!

    Actually, I wasn't too happy with that quote ^.^;; I thought it was laying it on a bit thick, but it was about the only thing I could think of to get inside her head. The girl's being deliberately delusional, and she's gonna get herself killed one day, I swear...

    hehe, yanno, in the very first writing of this story, those two Rockets were supposed to be throwaway characters, but I made a mistake. I gave one of them long red hair. Now, I'm a sucker for guys with long hair, and red hair is a bonus (ever heard of Bill Weasley from Harry Potter? hehhehheh...). After that, the mental plans I unintentionally started making for his character just wouldn't let him be captured and wanted him to come back into the story--which I still hope to do, despite various major revisions which may well have written him out of it for good.

    And the thing that's really, truly, ironic is that this guy, despite being a planned recurring character, doesn't even have a name.

    I think that's all ^.^ Thanks for the review, I always love hearing from you! You really know how to inflate a girl's ego

  14. #39
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    A/N: *gasp* can this be what I think it is? PD is updating early! Everybody dance!

    *cough* sorry... here we go... small glossary at the bottom, for those of you who know nothing about Japanese culture like I didn't a year ago.


    ~ V ~
    SOME LIKE IT HOT


    KEEGAN STARED.

    Her head tilted back as she looked up at the sprawling, old-day building that was the Celadon University. The wide structure was made of red brick, ivy swathing the walls and beneath the many windowsills like green velvet, the bricks looking almost golden in the stray early-afternoon sunlight peeking through the clouds.

    She’d left Bill in Goldenrod some hours ago, having rushed to catch the next train in time—and after he’d secured her promise not to go sneaking around the Game Corner. I think I scared him a little.

    She gave a short laugh. I think I scared myself a little. A lot.

    Of course he’d only had to suggest it before her mind started planning it, even if she hadn’t even considered it before. It was just, when she thought of how she’d pulled off her rescue she felt that familiar glow of satisfaction for completing a difficult task, the sense that she was invincible and could do anything.

    Then she’d see a flash of black, her heart would leap to her throat, and she’d turn around only to see it was someone’s else’s shirt or pants and not a red-lettered uniform.

    But the fear would remain.

    Her first stop in Celadon had been the Pokémon Centre, where she’d left Tarn to recuperate—with Firefoot for company, to reassure the vaporeon she wasn’t about to go off and leave him. She’d considered leaving Hazel instead, but the eevee wasn’t injured and a sense of nostalgia had prompted Keegan into deciding otherwise (as well as the eevee’s strong propensity for being a mother-hen).

    Besides, she figured the other two could use the time to introduce themselves properly.

    The gym had been next, but Erika wasn’t there, leaving Keegan to wonder whether gym leaders ever actually showed up—she remembered what had come of her going out to look for Morty in Ecruteak. One of the trainers had told her that Erika lectured at the University, so here she was.

    Keegan took a deep breath and held it for a minute before letting it go with a sigh. Well, here goes. Just think, after this you can go and relax for a few hours. Hitching her bag up on her shoulder, she approached the wide, carved oak doors, pushing them open and peeking in hesitantly. The rich timber walls of the main hall were covered in paintings and tapestries, and there were myriads of plants brightening the room. Directly across from the entrance doors was a long polished receptionist desk, framed by twin gleaming stairways leading up to the other levels.

    Her footsteps echoing on the wide tiles of the floor, Keegan made her way towards the desk, drawing the attention of the balding middle-aged man who was behind it. “Can I help you?” he asked over his spectacles with a raised eyebrow, taking in her somewhat dishevelled appearance.

    Keegan flushed a little, acutely aware of herself after the battle this morning even though she’d taken the time at the Pokémon Centre to clean up. “Um, yes, I’m—I’m looking for Erika.”

    Lady Erika,” the receptionist corrected sternly.

    “Lady Erika,” Keegan repeated dutifully, feeling like she was back in school.

    “Lady Erika is teaching a class at the moment,” the receptionist told her coolly, folding his hands over the open book he’d been writing in. “I can tell her you were here, however, and you may try her again at the gym later on.”

    Keegan hesitated. She didn’t want to disturb anyone; maybe she should have gone to the police first…

    But nothing. This is regarding the welfare and safety of Celadon City—I think this is cause enough to interrupt just about anything! Besides, Bill told you to go right to Erika, didn’t he? He must have had a reason.

    “Um, no, thanks. It’s urgent, can’t you just… tell me where she is?” the girl asked a little desperately.

    The man looked at her appraisingly, and for one heart-stopping moment Keegan thought he was going to refuse; then he sighed and shook his head, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes. “Far be it for me to regulate the professors’ schedules,” he muttered as if to himself, replacing his spectacles, and then addressed himself at Keegan. “Lady Erika is in the courtyard. Follow the hall around the stairs and you’ll find a door leading out there. But first, please sign in here.” And he held out a small notebook and a pen, tapping the paper with the nib.

    A few moments later Keegan was on her way, feeling vaguely discomforted by the fact that she’d just put her name down where anyone could find it out.

    Stop it, she told herself severely as she exited the building through the open doors and stepped on the lush turf of the yard, following the distant sound of a strong voice that was drifting towards her from the crowd of students she could see across the lawn. Bloody hell, but you’re getting paranoid. The Rockets don’t know who you are or where you were going, and they wouldn’t have much reason to go after you anyway, even if that guy escaped. They have better things to do than plan revenge on some travelling girl.

    By this time she’d reached the students, absently taking in the formal uniforms—skirts, blouses and bows for the girls, pants, shirts and ties for the boys, and jackets for both. For a few moments she stood uncomfortably on the outskirts, trying to see over the heads of the students to see their lecturer—the voice was a woman’s, light but firm. After a while she started to work her way around the crowd, uncomfortably aware of the attention she was drawing; a gaggle of young women dressed in the colours of red and yellow were watching her, giggling and whispering at her clothes and windswept hair, while a number of the boys, in hues of blue and green, eyed her contemptuously and then looked away.

    I get the feeling this is a high-class place, she thought uneasily as she came around the edges of the class to see the pretty, black-haired young woman standing on a stone bench situated just off a dirt-floored arena. Her hands were folded before her, half hidden by the draping sleeves of her yellow kimono and the thick folds of her pink hakama.

    Erika.

    She was shorter than she looked in the Pokémon Journal, Keegan thought, but she had a sense of calm, refined grace about her which held the girl fascinated.

    “Are there any questions?” the gym leader was asking, scanning her students’ faces for confusion, and when there was no answer forthcoming she gave a short nod. “Very well, then. Match up by ID number, odds against evens, and then battle in alphabetical order. We’ll begin shortly.”

    With that she hopped off the bench, covered by the sound of rustling clothes and low mutters as the students began to rearrange themselves. Keegan took the opportunity to make a beeline for Erika, approaching the petite gym leader hesitantly. “Excuse me?”

    Erika turned at the sound of her voice, studying her in much the same way that Keegan remembered Eusine had, and the blonde-haired girl shifted uncomfortably, fiddling with her bag-strap as she waited for the Elite Trainer to speak. “I’m sorry,” Erika said finally. “But if you want a battle, you’ll have to see me at the gym.”

    “Oh, no,” Keegan said hurriedly, stifling the brief flash of panic she felt at the very thought of battling a gym leader. She’d be slaughtered within a moment, she had no doubt of that. “I’m, uh, I’m sorry to bother you, but I have—an urgent message. From Bill the Pokémaniac.”

    Erika’s eyebrows shot skyward. “From Bill?” she echoed, but her expression wasn’t surprise—not exactly. It was more like she’d just received unpleasant news that she wasn’t expecting—or rather, was anticipating some unpleasant news. “What would Bill want to talk to me about?”

    “Um…” Automatically Keegan looked around to find half the students’ eyes on her, some discreet, some not. “Can we—can we talk about this somewhere else?”

    Oh my God, I feel like I’m in a bad crime movie. Keegan flushed, catching the sound of s******s somewhere behind her, but Erika didn’t laugh. She just looked the girl in the eye, examining her for the second time before giving a nod and holding out a hand towards the other side of the arena, raising her voice to give orders to her students.

    “Please occupy yourselves for a few minutes. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

    Keegan trailed after the gym leader as she walked away, trying to put her thoughts into some intelligible order. Why am I involved in all this? she wondered vaguely. Oh, that’s right. I had to rescue Tarn.

    But why did they have to take Tarn in the first place?


    She was jolted out of her ramblings by Erika’s even voice. “And what does Bill have to say to me that he couldn’t over the phone?”

    Oh boy. Where do I start? Keegan took a deep breath, searching for ideas. From the beginning; location would be a good start. “I just came from Goldenrod City,” she began, hesitantly at first, and then gaining speed as her story went on, trying to be thorough but not boring. It was harder than she’d thought; she kept on wanting to give reasons and defend her actions. When she came to the point of explaining why she’d gone back to confront the Rockets instead of going to the police, she couldn’t help herself.

    “I couldn’t leave him,” she mumbled towards the ground, her cheeks warming at the imagined look of disapproval on Erika’s face, but when the girl glanced up the only expression the gym leader was wearing was one of attentive concern. “We overheard some things, while we were trying to figure out what to do.”

    Keegan swallowed. “They said—they said they have a laboratory under Celadon.” Erika’s face flickered, so quickly that Keegan didn’t catch it, and the girl hastily added, “They were talking about the Game Corner. About how they wanted to buy the Goldenrod Game Corner but couldn’t, so they had to set up a lab under it in secret—a lab like the one they have under the Celadon Game Corner.”

    That was when Erika interrupted for the first time, and her question filled Keegan with a deep sense of abiding fear. “Do they know you heard this?”

    “I—I don’t—” Keegan faltered. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, struggling to think back—and remembering some other things which she really had to tell her. “I don’t know if they realized it or not. They knew we were there—we got into a battle with them later—but I don’t know if they realized—it sounded like they owned the Game Corner,” she tacked the last one on the end quickly, before she could forget it, wanting desperately to change the subject. “They were talking about ‘our pokémon prizes’, like they owned it. And—and they were talking about the Association. About how they didn’t need to worry about Bill and me if we went to the police, because the Association owns the police and they own the Association.”

    That’s why Bill sent me to Erika, the girl realized with the force of a blow in her gut, feeling sick at the realization that she’d almost made the decision to go to the Celadon police instead. He didn’t want to risk the investigation getting stopped, or twisted, or something.

    She continued the story in a half-daze, all the ramifications of the day’s events beginning to come down on her like a sledgehammer. Oh good God and all the Legends, what have I gotten myself into?

    “And—and that’s it, I came here, and here I am, and—” Suddenly aware that she was rambling, Keegan cut herself off by taking a deep, shaking breath and pinning desperate eyes upon Erika. “What do I do now?”

    “Now,” Erika said firmly. “Now you go to the Pokémon Centre, have your pokémon healed, and leave Celadon as soon as possible. It was dangerous of Bill to send you here, knowing what you just told me, and knowing that one of the operatives escaped and would likely come here himself to report to his superiors—but it was all you could do and now I may take the necessary actions.”

    Keegan resisted the urge to shudder at the chill that swept over her. For the second time that day her mind disengaged itself—or the third, maybe, she wasn’t really sure; there were some definite hazy patches in her memories of the morning—and she found herself saying almost inanely, “I needed to come this way anyway.”

    “Then you must continue to wherever you were going,” Erika said evenly. “It’s doubtful the Rockets will chase after you—you are, after all, barely more than a messenger—but if they find you here in the city they may take the opportunity that presents itself.”

    “Okay,” Keegan whispered, the food she’d eaten at the Pokémon Centre sitting heavily in her stomach.

    Erika looked at her and smiled kindly, placing a reassuring hand on her arm. “You’ve done well,” she said gently. “I don’t believe you’re in any danger, but it’s best to be safe. You are a trainer, yes? Continue training your pokémon, and they will serve you as well as they did this morning if the time comes.”

    And before Keegan could unstick her tongue to say that no, she wasn’t a trainer, Erika had already turned away to stride briskly back to her students, her pace quick and bearing calm despite the news she had just received. Her voice floated over to Keegan as she told her students she had to leave and gave them her apologies, and by the time the blonde-haired girl had managed to shake herself free of her daze the gym leader was already halfway across the courtyard.

    Turning around, she found herself faced with the stares of the class, none of them friendly. Her cheeks reddened and she looked down to the ground, trudging across the arena towards the doors so she could leave. As she passed the group, her path was abruptly blocked by a pair of dainty shoes and knee-high socks, and she glanced up to meet with the caustic gaze of a girl with long brown hair, done up in a ribboned ponytail.

    “You know,” the girl announced haughtily, looking Keegan up and down and wrinkling her nose. “My parents pay an awful lot for me to come to this school, and I’m sure they won’t appreciate some little ragamuffin coming in off the street to steal our best lecturer away from us.”

    What? Keegan flushed, half in embarrassment and half with the anger that was stirring beneath her shock. “I didn’t steal her,” she protested irritably. “And it was important, anyway.”

    “Pokémon battles are important,” the girl shot back. “What if we got attacked? Are you going to teach us how to defend ourselves? But then,” she added quickly, eyeing the white bandage Keegan had replaced Bill’s handkerchief with at the Pokémon Centre, “You don’t seem to have had much luck in that regard either.”

    “I’m not a teacher,” Keegan said stiffly, wishing desperately for the familiar, winding streets of Alto Mare where she could—and often had—so easily hide, and for Ross to act as a foil for her as he had so often done. Not this time. This time she was on her own, faced with one of the trials she’d thought she’d left behind: the scathing barbs of a teenage girl.

    I’m supposed to have trouble with rampaging pokémon and getting lost in random places, not be verbally attacked by some arrogant twit, Keegan thought in frustration. In school she’d often been teased for not knowing who she was, and although that died down for the most part once the novelty of her new arrival wore off, especially with the reflection of Ross’ local fame, she still remembered how badly it had hurt. She was acutely aware of the intimidating presence of the students—most of them were her age or a few years older, all of them so well dressed and so confident that they made her feel just like a ragamuffin.

    “But you can still help us train,” a new voice said, smooth and amused, and Keegan’s head snapped around as a boy came through the circle. He was taller than her, and slender, with turquoise hair that fell in deliberately tousled curls. His eyes were a deceptively soft green, but there was a cunning, haughty light there which gave Keegan a dawning sense of dread.

    Oh, no. “Help you train how?” she asked, fighting to keep her voice from breaking. How was it that a bunch of half-schooled trainers could make her feel more anxious than a pair of Team Rocket agents?

    The young man held up an expanded pokéball and smiled disarmingly—a smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “I was thinking of a pokémon battle. You do have pokémon, don’t you?” He raised an eyebrow amid laughter, eyes flickering down to the pokéballs at her waist to show that he knew perfectly well she did.

    Keegan hesitated, gripping the strap of her bag tightly with her uninjured hand. She wasn’t a battler, and she knew they knew it; she could save herself some embarrassment by just turning around and walking away. She hated fighting—in Alto Mare her fights had always ended up with either Ross taking over or her running away in tears, so it wasn’t like leaving now would make much of a difference.

    But the expressions on their faces said they clearly expected her to try and back out. Accepting a battle would be unexpected, and she could get some training of her own in besides… and Erika herself said I should train, just in case. Just in case is a good reason—that’s something that Pete was obsessed with, being prepared, even though I wasn’t so good at that when I first left…

    And… and I don’t want to back down. I didn’t back down against the Rockets, why should I back down now? These people just want to battle to humiliate me—the Rockets wanted to
    hurt me. Maybe I can turn that around. All the battles I’ve been in haven’t been for fun, they’ve been out of necessity. Maybe…

    “Okay,” she agreed, suddenly feeling more confident. Maybe I can actually have some fun. And win or lose, at least I know I’ll have stood up to them—like I never could back then, like I only just learned to do when I left Alto Mare.

    I think… I think I like knowing I can do that.


    A derisive laugh made her look back at the brown-haired girl. “You’re going to lose,” the girl told Keegan with blunt satisfaction. “Tynan’s top of our class, and ours is this year’s graduating class. He’s never lost, and he’s not going to start now.”

    Keegan stayed silent; she had no reply to that. Instead she said, “It’ll have to be one-on-one. I only have one of my pokémon with me—I didn’t expect to be battling.” Hell, I didn’t even want to be battling, but Hazel was so cool this morning—maybe she can show me how it’s done.

    “One-on-one’s fine with me,” Tynan agreed, staring at her from through the wisping curls of his fringe in faint puzzlement, as though she’d just done something he didn’t expect.

    Keegan felt a pang of satisfaction as she moved to her side of the field. Well, good. He should be confused. The vindictiveness with which she had the thought surprised her, but he had been kicking her while she was down, so he deserved it.

    “This will be a one-on-one match,” one of the other students, a stocky boy with flyaway hair, announced from atop the referee’s stand. “No time limit. Begin!”

    Tynan grinned in sudden confidence, loosening his blue tie before expanding a pokéball with a flick and releasing a blazing flareon onto the field, its flames casting strange shadows over the dirt.

    Oh boy. Keegan stared, Hazel’s pokéball already in her hand. She knew she should’ve been expecting an evolution of some kind, but an eeveelution? Damn. Tarn would’ve made this an interesting match, and at least I’d have had the type advantage… oh well, here goes. And she threw Hazel’s pokéball into the ring.

    “Fire Spin!” Tynan ordered before Hazel had even materialized properly, and with a roar of flames the eevee was enveloped in a writhing orange inferno. Keegan jumped at the speed of the attack, flinching away from the heat as the pokéball flew back to her hand, but she instantly dropped it with a yelp, the outside surface uncomfortably hot. “Now follow up with Quick Attack!” she heard, and the fluffy eeveelution flashed across the dusty field, vanishing into the blazing tornado like a rock into a river. A second later Hazel exploded out the back in lashes of fire, smoke pouring off her blackened fur in ashy ribbons.

    Not fair, he didn’t even give her a chance to get out of her pokéball!

    Don’t complain, you didn’t exactly play fair when you dumped sleeping powder all over the Rockets.

    Oh, shut up.


    The outside swirl of sparks dissipated into the air, but the fire remained, the flareon’s orange and red fur blazing with thick veins of molten flame, and for an instant Keegan panicked, even while a part of her noted the occurrence. Flash Fire: a fire pokémon’s attribute, in which their elemental powers are enhanced by storing the heat from other fire attacks.

    It used its own attack to power itself up!


    The flareon drew back its head and opened its mouth, fire roiling in the back of its throat to explode towards Hazel in a thick streamer of flames, but the eevee flipped over in midair, landing lightly and springing away into an evading Quick Attack. Keegan ducked at the fire coursed overhead, the heat making her skin feel tight and dry, and her knees hit ground, one hand coming down to balance herself. I hate it when they aim at me! What was I thinking?!

    Hazel hit the flareon full on, sending it tumbling back as Keegan recovered, scrambling to her feet and picking up the cooling pokéball as she went. Haze has a disadvantage because she can’t use long-range attacks. I wish I’d trained more seriously before I left Alto Mare—I was never really interested in battling—what was I thinking when I agreed to this?

    But she really looks like she knows what she’d doing,
    the little fox pointed out as Hazel skidded to a guarded halt, ears twitching as she panted and Flareon rolled back onto its feet. And how do you know she doesn’t know any long-range attacks?

    Keegan’s eyes widened. That’s right… she could have learned any attack, before—

    “Flareon, Flamethrower!” Tynan commanded, his blue pants and jacket rustling in the heated air pouring off his charged flareon. The eeveelution’s fur blazed, its black eyes flashing as the Flamethrower built in its throat.

    “Shadow Ball!” Keegan retaliated instantly without thinking, feeling as though it was someone else saying the words but knowing it was right, that if Hazel knew any other attacks that would be one of them—because she’d considered teaching it to her once, back when she had gotten tired of running and hiding from the school bullies. If she thought it was a good choice now, wouldn’t she think it was a good choice then, too?

    “Eebuuu!” with a joyful mew, as though Hazel had just been waiting for the command, the eevee sucked in a breath to obey, a writhing mass of shadows gathering in her mouth as dusty veins wreathed about her, mixing with the dark smoke still drifting off her fur. In the same instant as Flareon she released the dusky ball, shadows streaming away behind it as it shot towards her evolution and met the sparking Flamethrower in a brilliant explosion of ash and mist.

    “Tak— Take Down!” Keegan coughed, yanking Bill’s cleaned handkerchief out of her pocket and using it to cover her face against the dusty gloom and smell of burned sand which hung over the field. She hoped that Tynan wouldn’t dare attack while he couldn’t see—she figured people like that always liked being in control—but Hazel had been her constant companion whenever she went out at night and her eyes had always been sharp in the dark.

    The thin haze cleared in time for Tynan to realize the danger, but far too late to avoid it. Hazel collided with Flareon with all the force she could muster, a tiny grunt forced from the eevee’s lungs as she hit. With a surprised cry the flareon skidded back, slewing across the hot ground to jump almost instantly back to its feet.

    Instantly, but not without damage; it was panting as heavily as Hazel, now, its flaming coat dying down to a light glow even as Tynan ordered another Fire Spin.

    Hazel tried to dodge the roaring flames but they twisted about her, enveloping her for a second time, and Keegan unknowingly crushed the handkerchief in her fist, her teeth gritting. Why did I ever think this would be fun?!

    “Quick Attack!” Tynan flashed her a confident smirk from across the arena as Flareon leaped headlong into the outside wall of the inferno… only to appear, confused and alone, out the other side.

    “What the—?” Keegan gaped at the surprised look on the flareon’s face as their eyes met briefly, and Tynan’s hand went to run through his hair in astonished bewilderment.

    Abruptly the ground shifted and dirt exploded around Flareon as Hazel burst up from beneath it, tossing the elegant fire pokémon into the air and making her trainer jump back at the clods of earth and shower of sand which bombarded her. The girl felt a strange sense of familiarity, as though she’d seen this before, and her heart clenched, her breath catching with the thought that she’d been right, that Hazel had been a battler since before she came to Alto Mare and Keegan had forgotten it like she’d forgotten everything else—and Hazel had just been waiting for her to realize it.

    Quickly Keegan wiped away the burn of tears in her eyes, telling herself that she had to focus now and she could celebrate later—and if she won it would be celebration enough. I’ve found something else out!

    “Shadow Ball!”

    “Bubui!” Hazel yowled gladly in response. Shaking soil and smoke from her scorched brown fur, the eevee fired a shifting mass of darkness towards the still-airborne flareon.

    The twisting orb engulfed Flareon amid the distressed cries of the onlooking students, but Tynan just seemed to step back, his eyes darkening and jaw clenching silently along with his crossed arms. As the outer edges of the Shadow Ball dissipated, casting an ashy pall over the field, Flareon hit the ground with a hard thud, rolled, and staggered to its feet. It gulped in huge breaths, trembling with exhaustion, one paw lifted gingerly half off the ground—but its black eyes flashed with incensed pride.

    “Sand Attack,” Tynan ordered almost softly as Hazel flashed across the arena, paws barely touching the dusty, ash-strewn ground, having been moving before Flareon even landed. At the last second, using its fluttering, fluffy tail, Flareon obeyed, kicked up the sand around it. It swirled about the eevee, getting in her eyes and nose, and with a choking cough Hazel faltered, her attack missing the lamed flareon by inches.

    But Hazel had apparently learned strategy just as well as she had learned Dig or Shadow Ball so long ago; using the momentum of the Quick Attack, she spun around blindly on a paw, her own grey-stained tail colliding unexpectedly with Flareon before the eeveelution had a chance to move.

    It was sent sprawling, ash eddying about it before settling around its prone form. Hazel snarled, her ears back in a gesture of good-natured hostility, her head lowered with fatigue and paws set sturdily on the ground to hold her weight. Her white ruff, blackened and glowing with residual cinders, bristled in preparation, but the flareon just twitched, its paws moving slowly and ineffectively. The match was over.

    “Yes!” Keegan shrieked, pumping a fist in the air, having completely forgotten about the hankie she still clutched. Yes yes yesyesyesyesyesyes!

    With a weary—if satisfied—sigh, Hazel sat, tucking her grimy tail around herself and licking her paw; she hated being dirty.

    She didn’t get a chance to clean herself, however, because Keegan had pounded onto the field and scooped her up with a twirl and a true, belly-deep laugh, something she hadn’t done in far too long. “You were awesome, Haze!”

    I think I know why people find this fun.

    “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen!” a redheaded girl on the sidelines whined, and Keegan whirled around to look at her with a beaming grin and an adrenaline-pumped motion with Hazel’s pokéball, tucking the eevee up under her arm.

    “I’m not complaining!” she said with a laugh, all her troubles suddenly a million light-years away. It’s funny how things seem so much better when something good happens!

    “Where did you come from?” Tynan’s voice cut across any retort the redhead might have made, Flareon’s pokéball having just fwapped back into his hand from when he’d returned it. He was staring intensely at Keegan as though looking for something, his brow furrowed in thought or anger, she wasn’t sure.

    He doesn’t really seem angry, though. “I’m from Alto Mare!” Keegan said brightly, even though she really wasn’t, but that was neither here nor there considering she didn’t really know where she’d come from in the first place.

    “Bubui!” Hazel huffed, squeezing her way out of Keegan’s grasp and jumping lightly to the ground.

    “Oh, sorry. We’re from Alto Mare, then.” The blonde-haired girl bounced down Hazel’s pokéball to return her in a flash of light, holding it up to her face for a moment. “Remind me to buy you some pokétreats,” she promised the eevee, and the ball wriggled momentarily in affirmative delight.

    “You can’t get to Celadon from Alto Mare,” Tynan said flatly, minimising Flareon’s pokéball, and Keegan blinked.

    “Um, no?” she offered, confused as to his meaning.

    “Then where else have you been?” Tynan asked impatiently, crossing his arms over his dust-tinted white shirt.

    Why does he want to know? Keegan wondered. The young man wasn’t being as haughty as before, but he wasn’t exactly being friendly, either. “Cianwood, Olivine, and then Ecruteak, Goldenrod, and now here.”

    “I see.” A thoughtful look came to Tynan’s eyes, but he didn’t look away or elaborate on what, exactly, he was seeing, and Keegan stared at him, confused. She was coming down off her high, now, and remembering what Erika had told her to do: leave Celadon.

    Better get on that now, I guess. “Thanks for the battle,” she said awkwardly. “But I gotta leave. Maybe I’ll see you again if I come back this way.”

    “Oh, I doubt that,” Tynan smirked.

    Eheh, freaky… Keegan smiled nervously, then threw a cheeky grin and a wave at the huffy brown-haired girl and turned to walk toward the entry doors, uncomfortably aware of Tynan’s calculating eyes on her back the whole way there.

    She was so concerned with the eyes of the trainer, she missed the scarlet pair that gleamed at her faintly from between the bushes against the wall.

    * * *

    Erika strode up the cobblestone path leading to the University, her brow furrowed in thought. If they were lucky, she could squeeze in another half-hour or so with her battling class, although she couldn’t guarantee her full attention; not with plans to secure the Game Corner, her conversation with Bill, and that girl—Keegan, Bill called her—all on her mind.

    If she was exceptionally lucky Keegan won’t have left yet; the students of that particular class tended towards the rich and spoiled, and outsiders coming in to disrupt their lives tended to garner some negative attention, so they may well have stopped her.

    I told her she wasn’t in danger! the gym leader sighed to herself, hardly hearing the greeting of a departing professor as she passed him to enter the University’s main hall. And as far as Erika knew, she wasn’t. But that was also before she’d remembered her.

    From the moment she laid eyes on the girl she’d known she knew her from somewhere, but couldn’t for the life of her recall where. And then when she heard her story, the gym leader had been more concerned with making sure the Game Corner was being watched—

    Being watched by my own people, because the Rockets were more right than they knew, and the existence of a lab in Celadon—in my city—can only mean that the law, somewhere, somehow, has failed.

    —and with hearing from Bill what had happened not only to the agent the Goldenrod police had apprehended, but the one who had escaped as well.

    There’s been no sign of that one; it’s a good bet he’s already made contact with his people, or he’s on his way back here. If he is, I’ll know. She’d put people on the Magnet Station as well, as a precaution, and Officer Jenny, who was about the only police officer in Celadon that Erika trusted, had offered to speak to her cousins—but there were only so many Officer Jennys in the world and not all of them were in a position of authority.

    But if he is on the train, he’s likely to go straight through to Saffron instead. And there, I have no authority.

    Dead end, in other words.

    With everything arranged, there wasn’t much more for Erika to do unless she wanted to take an active role, and her people wouldn’t allow her to do that. So instead here she was, wending her way beneath the stairwells towards the open doors leading to the courtyard, once again reflecting on the conversation she’d had with Morty less than a week before.

    She’d seen on the news that the Tin Tower had been broken into and had rung to make sure nothing was amiss; Morty had reassured her that everything was under control, but he seemed preoccupied, distracted. It hadn’t taken much to get the whole story out of him, including all that hadn’t been publicly released.

    There had been other people involved: Morty’s childhood friend, Eusine, and a girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a pendant made from a firestone. Mentions of them had been deliberately withheld for security reasons, but when Morty told her who he thought the intruders were…

    Team Aqua, Erika thought with an inward grimace as she stepped onto grass from the open doors. As if we don’t have enough to take care of.

    Unfortunately their obsession with finding the Legendary Kyogre had clouded Morty’s reading of their emblem; he hadn’t been able to See what they were looking for in Johto, and the fact they’d been in the resting place of a part fire pokémon had just confused him.

    There had been something else on his mind, too, but it was something he flatly refused to tell her, saying it wasn’t either of their businesses. Erika could only wonder if it had something to do with the girl.

    The girl that Erika was now absolutely certain had just paid her a visit.

    Erika didn’t disbelieve in coincidence, but she did believe in making informed decisions. If she could catch the girl before she left, she could warn her about the Aquas. Maybe it would spur some unwanted questions from the curious young woman, but she’d be a good deal safer knowing what was out there, whether they were planning to come after her or not.

    Besides, considering how she’d helped hold back the Aquas and then been willing to jump into the fire against the Rockets to save her pokémon—it was people like that who were a joy to work with. Erika wouldn’t be surprised if someone approached her for that purpose sometime in the future.

    She reached her class just as the battle ended, catching only the flash of red light as pokémon were returned, standing on the edge of the crowd and letting the chatter of the students’ discussions wash over her as she looked them over for a head of thick blonde hair. She’s not here. Well, that solves that, I suppose.

    “Lady Erika!” one of the students exclaimed, catching sight of her, and the gym leader cut short her fruitless search to turn towards the meticulously dressed girl who’d called out. “We thought you weren’t going to be back in time!”

    Erika offered the brown-haired student a tiny smile, drawing the attention of the rest of the class. “I wasn’t sure either, Alyssa, but here I am. You may continue battling as you have; I’ll just watch for now.” She paused for a moment, letting the next battlers step up before speaking quietly to Alyssa. “I take it our visitor has left?”

    Alyssa sneered, tossing her shiny hair over her shoulder in contempt. “She left ages ago, and good riddance, too.” Erika restrained the urge to sigh. It was true that Alyssa was very hardworking; her assignments were legendary among the staff for their length, depth, and exceptional research. Unfortunately, she was the most popular girl in class, not to mention one of the richest, which meant she was one of the leaders.

    And all that meant that she could be unbelievably catty.

    Then the girl’s brow furrowed and she raised a hand to touch her cheek in reluctant, irritable thought. “She was a good battler, though.”

    And willing to give someone their due. Erika reminded herself with a small smile. “Oh? Did she battle someone?”

    “Yeah, Tynan challenged her. She beat him.”

    Erika’s eyebrows shot skyward, even as she thought that she shouldn’t really be so surprised—the girl had managed to stop one of the Rockets from escaping, after all, even if it had only been through the other operative’s cowardice that she and Bill had won the battle. But Tynan was one of her best students; as far as she knew, he hadn’t lost a battle. Now that was no longer true, she had to wonder what he was thinking.

    And that was when the gym leader realized that she’d never seen the familiar head of turquoise curls upon her examination of the class. “Where is Tynan?”

    Alyssa bit her lip, looking around at her classmates as they cheered on the sleek brown-and-white linoone which had just pounded its adversary into the ground, raising a cloud of dust. “I don’t know. He left—after that girl did. After she beat him. He stared after her for a while, announced that there wasn’t anything more he could learn here, and then just left. I don’t know where he went.”

    Now that’s interesting, Erika thought. Tynan was cut from the same mould as Alyssa—rich family, a strong sense of self-worth, and enough confidence to choke a persian. But where Alyssa worked hard to earn her right to brag, Tynan hardly seemed to work at all, and yet still remained as the class’ top battler.

    Erika would have half expected him to throw a tantrum if he ever lost, but what Alyssa said suggested that he’d realized something that Erika spent some of each term’s first lecture stating: there was no substitute for experience.

    If he has left to begin travelling himself, I can only imagine how he will take the hardships—and wonder what he would be like if he were to pass through Celadon again.

    That was when the battle ended in a whirlwind of dust and debris with the powerful beats of the pidgeotto’s wings, and Erika shunted all other considerations from her mind to step forward and critique the battlers’ forms.

    The last, fleeting thought she had was the hope that neither Keegan nor Tynan chose to go south.

    * * *

    Quietly Tynan closed his bedroom door behind him, shutting off the sound of his father’s voice. The old man was on the phone—again. He was always on the phone, business tycoon that he was. This time it was something about buying up some stocks in that Hoenn company, Devon Corporation. Tynan had had to sneak into the house to make sure the man didn’t realize he’d cut class—as long as he thought Tynan was at the University, he wouldn’t try to involve him in the business.

    Philip Montgomery had been a trainer himself, once, but that was a long time ago, before his wife had died. Now all he was interested in was money, and determined that Tynan would go the same way. He hadn’t been too unhappy with Tynan’s talent in training, nor his interest, but he had forbidden Tynan to go ‘gallivanting about the countryside’, as he put it, and at that time Tynan had been inclined to agree. The thought of traipsing through mud and rain, camping in forests, hadn’t really appealed to him; there was something to be said for creature comforts.

    Now, the teen looked around his huge room: the thick, elegant furnishings, the broad windows along one wall, the draping curtains of his four-post bed, the books lying on the floor around his desk and stacked on the shelves, the paper strewn over the tabletop. It was comfortable. It was familiar.

    And I’m really considering leaving it all? I’ve spent so long building up my life, my reputation—Da always says your reputation is important—

    But Tynan didn’t care so much for his reputation as for his reputation being right. If people were going to say good things about him he wanted them to be true.

    People said good things about Erika, and she had a demeanour which so many of the girls tried to emulate—grace and wisdom, a kind of worldliness which Tynan had always assumed came from being highborn.

    But that girl—Keegan, Tynan had learned upon looking at the visitor’s book—hadn’t been graceful, or particularly wise or commanding; hell, half the time it seemed like her eevee was the one in charge. And yet… and yet, that look in her eyes, just after he’d challenged her. At first so confused, almost scared, and he’d been so certain she’d try to back out—then suddenly, for only an instant, her eyes had looked so much older than she was, just before it was obscured by a spark of defiance.

    For a moment he’d felt like a little boy again, watching from his seat as experienced trainers fought for the right to the League Championship. Watching, and wondering whether he’d ever be up there himself, ever be that good, with that odd sort of undefinable confidence. He had to wonder what made them different, what secret they knew, to make them so confident.

    His father wanted him to learn business, and culture, and politics.

    Staring down at a page of his research notes, the meticulous handwriting that degenerated into a looping scrawl, Tynan knew he didn’t want anything to do with politics or business. They bored him. Sure, it was fun, manipulating someone into humiliating themselves like he’d done so many times with those second-rate trainers—but the world didn’t turn on words, it turned on power. Standing around and talking would never get anything done, not when the world depended upon the strength of pokémon. What good were words while Team Rocket was taking over half the economy through the fear of their retribution? What good were words when you were being charged at by a wild rhyhorn?

    That girl had power. She’d gone places, and seen things, and she knew.

    Knowing was always power.

    And if I can find out what she knows—what Erika knows—Da failed as a pokémon trainer, he was good but never better than that, he never knew what they do.

    And if I can know it too… then I’ll have made my own way, with my own power. I wouldn’t be using his money, living in his house, on his sufferance…

    Is that why so many trainers leave home so early? Free to forge their own paths, while we remain chained to our parents; our parents, who pay for expensive schooling, for our high-class food, for all our creature comforts…


    Somehow his hand had clenched on the desk-top, crumpling the page in his fist. If that’s what I have to give up to find out their secret, then so be it. Even if I don’t know where to start, I’ve got someone to follow—I know where that girl went, thanks to my murkrow. She can be my trailblazer, until I know what I’m doing.

    Meanwhile I can train, in gyms, on roads, with wild pokémon—I can train, and then if I can fight her again, and beat her this time, then maybe… maybe I can know what she knows too.


    He looked around once again at his opulent surroundings, the sound of pidgey chirping and ledyba humming floating through his open window. He took it all in for the last time, because come morning he was going to embark on a trip of his own; he was going to turn his back on everything his father and his companions represented and would take his first steps on his own path.

    South… towards Fuchsia.

    * * *

    A/N: hakama--loose pants which resemble a skirt, with a varying number of pleats (or 'panels', if you want the correct term) depending on how traditional the wearer is. Usually worn by men, and usually during some kind of training. Erika's, since she's from a highborn, likely traditional family, is probably wearing the full seven-panelled hakama of the samurai.

    I don't think I need to get into what a kimono is, do I? ^.^;; although, I should probably mention that the term 'kimono' is used for more than just the dresses--it refers to the robes over which people wear the hakama, too... but you all probably realize that ^.^;;

    Yes, I did actually research up on this, a little bit at least... but that was a while ago, for a different fandom (Rurouni Kenshin, anyone?) and then I looked at a picture of Erika recently and recognised the clothes. So there we go.

    Reviews loved ^.^
    Last edited by purple_drake; 11th August 2008 at 1:43 PM.

  15. #40
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    Hi purple drake! A new reviewer is here! Yes, I read the first five chapters so I am going to say what I think of the story so far. ^^

    I have to say, this is quite an interesting fic. So here we have Keegan who goes on an adventure but is not going against gym battles. Instead, she goes on a search for her past. Liking it so far.

    Your writing style I quite like. It makes the story flow nicely...although a few times the sentences are quite long and that sometimes make me almost lose my breathe. XD

    I quite like Keegan. I think the readers can relate to her, always feeling trapped whenever our parents try to restrict us whatsoever. Also, I like how she is developing and her actions are a result of the situations she is in. The only problem is, to me, her adventure seems to be going a bit too fast. She already met two teams (Team Rocket and Team Aqua) and met a couple of legendaries already. (Speaking of which, what is the deal with Raikou? XD) Meh, I guess those things happen for a reason, which will unfold as the story progresses.

    The one big thing that confused me is the Rocket battle in Chapter Four.

    “Aurora Beam!” Keegan shouted breathlessly, hoping, praying, that Tarn knew the attack. The vaporeon’s mouth glowed, the air vibrating with cold as the temperature suddenly dropped, ice glittering with the light overhead as Tarn cast a barrier of frost over the crates, preventing the Rocket’s escape.

    Okay, what now—

    “Bone Club!”

    The order caught Keegan’s attention and her head snapped around in time to see the other Rocket’s cubone draw back one brown paw and hurl its weapon towards the battered vulpix staggering to its feet just across the way.
    All of a sudden there is a cubone and a vulpix and I don't remember them being thrown out from their pokeballs...unless I missed something here. O.o

    All in all, quite an interesting fanfic. Well, can wait to read the next chapter! ^^


    FFnet | Author's Profile| Archive of Our Own | Banner: Umi Mizuno
    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by purple_drake View Post
    A/N: *gasp* can this be what I think it is? PD is updating early! Everybody dance!
    *dances*

    Yay, the new chappie and early too(something you can't say about me>__>I'm late), now I have to say, this chapter was much more fun than the previous one, even if it was a lot like the original, I still loved it for some reason, guess this chapter had some interesting bits^-^

    Now this certainly is a great chapter, and I think it is good to start with Keegan gaping at the celadon university, It seems a very good start to me for a chapter.

    This comment about that happening was my particular favorite:

    Quote Originally Posted by purple_drake View Post
    leaving Keegan to wonder whether gym leaders ever actually showed up—she remembered what had come of her going out to look for Morty in Ecruteak.
    Now inside the university(which is almost the whole chapter, I think>___<) was also very funny, as the middle-aged man behind the desk, correcting her like in school, ultimately funny in my opinion^-^

    I liked the way you portrayed Keegan when she entered class, I could imagine it, spoiled teenagers that brag about their pokemon and skills, and then suddenly noticing a rather dirty trainer(compared to them^-^) and begin to scowl, anyway, everything was perfect

    The talk with Erika was also good, it just shows how a trainer feels to talk alone with someone who is your superior(is that spelled right>__<I don't think so?) in many ways.

    Now, what really caught my interest in this chapter was the battle between Keegan and Tynan. (I love action, so battles are probably the things that excite me the most in a chapter^-^')

    I knew Tynan would make a return in the revised version, although I couldn't remember his pokemon which currently leads me to conclude that he has two pokemon at his disposal; Flareon and Murkrow(the latter only shortly introduced towards the end^-^). Even if Tynan is somewhat an opposite to Keegan, the fact that he has Flareon and she Vaporeon and Eevee makes them similar in training pokemon(also, if my memory isnt playng tricks on me 'Brother' is going to team up with him to get back Tarn, right?)

    now the battle was amazingly put, the description was flawless, and the humor was good(mainly the 'little fox' side of Keegan amused me^-^)

    Quote Originally Posted by purple_drake View Post

    Not fair, he didn’t even give her a chance to get out of her pokéball!

    Don’t complain, you didn’t exactly play fair when you dumped sleeping powder all over the Rockets.

    Oh, shut up.



    and


    But she really looks like she knows what she’d doing,[/I] the little fox pointed out as Hazel skidded to a guarded halt, ears twitching as she panted and Flareon rolled back onto its feet. And how do you know she doesn’t know any long-range attacks?

    Keegan’s eyes widened. That’s right… she could have learned any attacks, before—
    very amusing^-^

    Now, one little thing that I didn't like is that Shadow Ball AND Dig were introduced in the same battle(I'd say one is fine, but two is somewhat much(I certainly can live with it, I mean, it's not like she used five totally new moves in one battle)), it was just something that occurred to me, please don't let it bother you^-^'

    Now some personal commentary^-^:

    Tynan seems to me that his talented, rich, and spoiled but has a very calculating mind, and deems weak trainers useless(although that is just a thought that arised, could be that he is a little nice but hasn't shown his kinder streak yet, all posibilities). 'Brother' the pokemon that he maybe was going to get was also a little rebelling no? I recall him as caring brother and wants Tarn back and he'll probably disobey orders if he's in danger or something.

    Keegan was very amusing in this chapter, being a little clumsy, didn't really know what she was doing, but was also quite calculating and has a vast amount of trust in her pokemon(I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see Firefoot and Tarn(I keep forgetting that Firefoot is now an Arcanine adn I still think of him like a playful, puppy pokemon^-^'))

    Erika seems very good to me, although I always imagined her as a soft person, but sometimes she sounded very firm and maybe a little stern, nothing bad though^-^A little disappointed again that we didn't get to see any of her pokemon, and I certainly hope she'll introduce some in future chapters.

    Questions:

    1. Will Alyssa or any other school girl reappear in other chapters?

    2. What is the next direction Keegan goes?(I'd guess Vermillion to go on a ship and sail to Hoenn)

    3. Will Keegan get a new pokemon soon, or will it take some time?

    4.(elaborated from previous question) If she gets a new pokemon, will it be an egg, a wild pokemon, a gift or something else?

    5. Will Tynan follow Keegan around for very long or is he simply using her as a compass of sorts?

    6. Will Tynan follow Keegan all the way to Hoenn?

    7. Will Keegan eventually get a travelling partner?

    well, that rounds it up, I'd say, keep it going purple-drake, this was a brilliant chapter...

    'till next time

    ~Aimi Hanako~
    Searching for Inspiration...

  17. #42
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    ^.^!

    I'm caught up now!

    o_o I'm loving this like I love chocolate pudding. It really has come together more uniquely than the original version, and I somehow find myself attached to Tynan's attitude. There is something about him that makes him likeable, even though I do not appreciate his attitude towards Keegan. I loved the last chapter the most out of them all; again, perhaps it is Tynan, but he's definitely catching my attention more than he did in the original version. The battle was fantastic, I love Tarn the Vaporeon, and just..everything. o_o And Erika. <3333 Even though the chapters are strangely long (which is very acceptable for your type of story, I'm just not used to reading a lot for one single chapter), I love this a lot more than the original. I can't wait for the next chapter!

    >3 Post it! ;_; *runs around and chases Tarn*
    ~ COMING SOON ~


    Shiftry leapt into the air, shrieking and roaring as she started glowing and absorbing the sun’s light. Leaves shifted and curled at the edges as footsteps sounded on the grass. Her eyes were wide open and crazed, glazed with a white radiance. A slim, dark figure spontaneously crossed overhead, elegant and mysterious as it disappeared within the rose-colored vortex. It all seemed like a medieval fantasy; only reality blended in to make it all seem practical. The new otherworldly essence drifted in, allowing the illumination to bless the woman and reveal herself to the world. Karen had arrived

  18. #43
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    Bay: oooh, new reviewer! ^.^ hi!

    Sorry about those long sentences ^.^;; I have a habit of writing sort of like a thought process, which does make for some long sentences, just like a person would think in run-on sentences. And then there are those pesky sentences in which lots happen and I can't find a place to gracefully chop it in half.

    I'm getting kind of fond of Keegan too, actually ^.^;; in the first copy, I hated her. I guess that's good, right?

    As for the story moving too quickly--yanno, I never thought of that. I guess when you put it like that I can sort of see how it seems to move quickly--but then again, I know what happens later on now that I think about it, this story really is about the Teams just as much as it is about Keegan; the difference is, in CaC their story is being told through Keegan's perspective, because hers is the main plot and theirs is the sub. In the sequel (yup, I said sequel!) the plot is going to revolve around the Teams, with Keegan swept along for the ride.

    I guess her first meetings with the Teams were sheer bad luck, not to mention her reckless nature, but it never twigged just how early they began. I suppose that's one advantage of having an insanely curious character with no regard for keeping their nose out of other peoples' business--you can blame it all on them! ^.^;; that said, there will be other meetings with the Teams--but those first meetings and their relatively successful resolutions are going to have a kind of domino effect which will led to her getting unintentionally involved in affairs she really shouldn't be involved in.

    As for the legendaries, well... I don't consider Lugia to be a meeting so much as a sighting, since it was only at a distance and there were other people with her. Raikou, however... *winks* as you noted, there is something up with Raikou, and it is an exceptionally big 'something' which is going to keep Keegan (unknowingly) on her toes. She is going to meet other legendaries, but hopefully the way those meetings are planned are unique enough to keep from being cliche.

    Finally, that battle--no, you didn't miss anything. It's more along the lines of Keegan missing something; she was so focussed on her own little battle that she didn't notice what was happening across the room until the shout drew her attention. ^.^;; hopefully by the time the story's over I'll be able to write multi-pokemon battles without losing the threads on anyone, eh?


    Aimi Hanako: Yup, you spelled superior right

    I'm rather pleased with the way Tynan turned out this time... not so spoiled or snobbish. I think I can really work with him now, if I can just keep him toeing the line...

    Ah, the attacks... never thought of that, actually. Mostly I needed a way to introduce attacks which Hazel knows, but which Keegan's forgotten she knows. Ergo, a pokemon battle. :P

    The thing with Hazel is that she's actually at a fairly advanced level, if you want to think in game mechanics; she's certainly got more experience than either Tarn or Firefoot (which is going to be a problem later on, if Keegan doesn't start training them up). However, for her to start using attacks without her trainer ordering them--or knowing she can use them--doesn't indicate a particularly good trainer, and that would dishonour Keegan in a way Hazel refuses to do. So she didn't use them until such a time that Keegan begins to realize that (particularly since Keegan hasn't been much of a battler in the past anyway--Magmas aside).

    On the other hand, there is also the problem of maintaining the battle's fluidity, which I do by allowing the pokemon to have their heads and attack or defend without necessarily needing their trainer's order to do so. Hazel grew up battling fire pokemon, so it would make sense to use an attack with a type-advantage, whether Keegan has ordered it or not. And now that Hazel now longer feels she's barred from using attacks Keegan would be surprised by...

    Anyway. That turned out longer than I expected ^.^;; I should really learn not to ramble.

    Tynan... is an interesting character. :P in fact in the writing of that chapter, I think he became one of my favourite OCs. I don't want to say too much because I still getting a grip on his character, but he is still figuring out his own place in the world, and that's going to be interesting to play with.

    I'm not going to say any more on his pokemon, except that he does get more, and you haven't seen all the ones he already has yet, either.

    Heh :P 'vast amount of trust', I thought that was an interesting comment. I suppose that is it, in one way. In another, it's that her pokemon know more than she does about battling! Or Hazel does, at least.

    Erika... is Erika. :P she's not really one of my favourite gym leaders, but I don't dislike her either. I imagine her as mostly soft, as you said, but with a hint of steel (so to speak). She's a teacher and a good one, so she knows how to command. I do believe that's the influence of the manga, there...

    To answer your questions... in spoiler tags... or I would, if the spoiler tags were working <_< *mumbles about stupid C&P not working*

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    1: Actually, I like Alyssa, strangely enough she will reappear at least once later on... however, that particular reappearance is scheduled for the sequel. Whether or not she shows up in CaC again is unknown, but unlikely--same goes for the others.

    2: I've actually stated (indirectly) where Keegan will be going. I said that Tynan is going to follow Keegan, and he's planning to go south to Fuchsia. So there you go her immediate destination. Anything after that, however...

    3: Keegan will get a new pokemon soon, yes.

    4: That one, you'll just have to wait and see

    5: 'a compass of sorts' isn't a bad way of putting it, actually. :P in the grand scheme of things, no, he isn't going to follow her for long--although that time does span over several chapters.

    6: This is a loaded question, although the answer isn't really that big of a spoiler. fact is, Tynan gets to Hoenn *first*.

    7: Yes. Several (although not necessarily all at once or for very long periods of time).

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    ^.^ thanks for the review, I love answering these questions... although sometimes I don't know where to stop talking -_-;;


    Ryano: Yay! You're caught up! ^.^ *glomps*

    I'm liking Tynan more too his character is going to be fun to write, hehehe... it's true that his lifestyle has led him to be condescending, and he and Keegan are going to fight like cats and dogs, but really I think he's pretty cool then again, I know what's going to happen...

    Reading a lot for one chapter, heh... ^.^;; you know, if you look at the last chapter, it spans a timeframe of, like, an hour. That's really sad...

    *gasps and snatches up Tarn* aw, leave the poor baby alone! :P

  19. #44
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    Canalave City.
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    XD The timeframe of an hour. XDDDD

    Well actually, I like the idea of having long chapters. Now, it seems as though you can't get much covered in a shorter chapter, and since lately, I have been more involved in digging into my character's thoughts and incorporating daily actions by their Pokemon (instead of just mentioning the character and only having the Pokemon make sounds and actions when they are battling...lol), my chapters have become longer. Sure, it takes a bit more time to finish for me, but I think it is well worth it. My first chapter of my fanfiction is twelve pages...o_o;

    But yes, I loved it in the old version when Tynan would try to go after Keegan and search for her, it used to be hilarious to me in a strange sorta way. Although, I am suddenly getting a strange feeling that something's bound to happen if they go to Fuschia City...I dunno. I'm hungry, so...^.^;;
    ~ COMING SOON ~


    Shiftry leapt into the air, shrieking and roaring as she started glowing and absorbing the sun’s light. Leaves shifted and curled at the edges as footsteps sounded on the grass. Her eyes were wide open and crazed, glazed with a white radiance. A slim, dark figure spontaneously crossed overhead, elegant and mysterious as it disappeared within the rose-colored vortex. It all seemed like a medieval fantasy; only reality blended in to make it all seem practical. The new otherworldly essence drifted in, allowing the illumination to bless the woman and reveal herself to the world. Karen had arrived

  20. #45
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    Apr 2005
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    Blackthorn City
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    A/N: Here I am again ^.^ I think some people missed out on the previous chapter... I don't remember seeing everyone's names...

    Ah well. Another two-poster--I dunno how that happened, seeing as the original chapter was only 14 pages long and absolutely nothing is different (aside from, yanno, minor details and description etc, typical revamping stuff) so I'm not entirely sure how I almost doubled the page count...

    'Nways. One-entry glossary at the end again--darn those traditional gym leaders...

    Oh, yeah... warning for language... mostly the repeated, usually mental use of a certain four-letter word starting with 's' by Keegan...


    ~ VI ~
    A BUTTERFREE IN THE HAND…


    A YELP.

    It rang through the forest, making pokémon tilt their heads to listen or scamper back into the shielding undergrowth with a rustle of leaves. A curse followed soon after, punctuated by random mutterings and the distinct, feline-like titter of a pokémon, before they were both cut off by a semi-irritable shout.

    “Stop laughing, Hazel!”

    “Bubui!”

    A flurry of spiky-feathered doduo burst from a patch of particularly thick foliage, making dewdrops scatter everywhere and leaves slap against the ground. A few seconds later they were followed, more slowly, by a certain blonde-haired girl clad in mud-stained jeans and a long-sleeved grey top, a slightly bedraggled eevee with an amused glint in her black eyes, and the swift blue form of a sleek vaporeon.

    “It wasn’t funny,” Keegan whined, wiping her muddy hands off onto the cleanest patch of her jeans she could find, since her knees and shins were now grubby and grass-stained from her most recent tumble.

    “Bui,” was Hazel’s only reply.

    Keegan subsided with a huff into a quiet simmer of frustration, hitching her bag up onto her shoulder and pulling out her pokégear only to see the same green ‘out of service area’ screen she’d been seeing for the past few hours.

    As far as she knew, she should have been somewhere on the outskirts of Fuchsia City.

    Obviously, she wasn’t.

    This is going beyond funny, the girl grumped to herself, replacing her pokégear and watching Hazel’s damp tail flick almost tauntingly in front of her.

    She’d left Celadon behind her some days before, and with it, a sharp sense of foreboding. The thought that she was in the same city as the Rockets—that their lab was there—had given her shivers up until the point she finally walked past the city limits. She’d had a hard time deciding which direction to go, because the water and fire gyms were on completely different sides of the region, but eventually she had decided in favour of Cinnabar for several reasons.

    First, she’d have to go on the ferry to get there, and she wanted to get that done as soon as possible. Second, going south before looping up north to Cerulean gave her more of an opportunity to see the rest of Kanto—the legends knew she’d spend enough time on the water, not to mention had spent quite a bit of time being scared to death, so a bout of sightseeing would do her good. Plus, that time spent travelling would enable her to spend some time training, as Erika had suggested.

    Third, circling up to Cerulean meant she could detour back through Celadon on her way to Vermillion, and that meant she could find out what had happened with the Celadon Game Corner.

    Okay, so the last one was pure curiosity, but she couldn’t resist.

    The only problem was, she was having trouble actually finding Fuchsia. The city was surrounded by thick forest, practically bordering on jungle in places, and she’d had to take some shortcuts in order to avoid the intimidating bikers who gathered along the verges of Cycling Road—with obvious and predictable results. I should really know better by now.

    On the bright side (metaphorically, at least, because the sky had been threatening rain for the past five days and followed through on it the evening before last) she hadn’t seen a hide or hair of either the Rockets or those strange people in blue, and her fears had eased into slight twinges of paranoid worry whenever night began to settle.

    It did help that she had other issues on her mind, Keegan thought as she glanced down at Tarn, brushing past some hanging leaves. The vaporeon slinked after her, his head swivelling this way and that alertly.

    The girl sighed. In Goldenrod, she’d felt very hopeful about the vaporeon’s acceptance of her, especially with the way he’d battled in the underground. After Celadon, she’d decided that the travel-time would be a good opportunity for him to get used to her, and maybe Firefoot too—he’d already seemed to bond pretty well with Hazel.

    But when she’d released him he’d been unexpectedly guarded, almost as much as he’d been the very first time she let him out of his pokéball back in the park in Goldenrod. True, he hadn’t been afraid like he had been then and he did allow her to pet him on occasion—on ‘special’ occasions, like when she bought him some treats in an effort to precipitate more friendly terms—but otherwise he kept his distance and only seemed truly comfortable when Hazel was outside with him.

    At least he’s better than he was. In the beginning he’d stayed a good two feet away from her, and when he moved it had been in cautious stops and starts, practically crawling along with his belly to the ground even when Hazel walked beside him. Now, he still kept low, but it was with a swift, fluid movement that seemed more natural, almost slither-like, and he didn’t stray far from the company like Firefoot did, who gambolled about as well as any six-foot canine could.

    He also maintained a slightly wary eye on the blonde-haired girl, but for the most part his attention was focussed at the potential dangers of their surroundings, apparently having accepted Keegan and Firefoot as non-threatening, if not friends.

    Which just brought Keegan to the other reason she wanted to be in Fuchsia already—as if being wet, muddy, tired, and running out of clean clothes because she’d spent half the last two nights struggling miserably to keep everything dry wasn’t a good enough reason already.

    Unfortunately it was that very rainstorm which had kept her from letting Firefoot get any exercise yesterday, drizzling as it had been the entire time. A metaphorical water-pup he may be, but getting splashed wasn’t anywhere near the same as having several gallons of liquid dumped on you, especially not for a fire pokémon. At least at the Fuchsia City Pokémon Centre he’d be under cover, and keeping him in until they got there meant she wouldn’t have to brush all the mud and sticks out of his ridiculously long fur. I swear he’s got longer fur than Hazel does now.

    She’d even been forced to buy some new brushes for him, because the stiff-bristled one she had for Hazel, while appropriate for the small-bodied eevee, was too delicate for a creature of Firefoot’s size, weight and thickness of coat. I’m just glad that Tarn’s short-haired. Remind me not to catch any more pokémon with fur!

    “Bubui?”


    Keegan was brought out of her rather inane contemplation by Hazel’s questioning tones, almost tripping over the delicate eevee before she realized that the pokémon had stopped. Instead the girl yelped, stumbled, and caught herself on a nearby tree, still wet from sap that a feeding heracross had brought to the surface before they’d crossed its path.

    “Ha-zel!” Keegan groaned, levering herself upright and wiping the sticky residue onto her already filthy jeans. Hazel didn’t even look over at her; her head was held high and long ears cocked forward attentively. Tarn came to a halt beside her, his finned ears twitching and paws kneading the ground in restless apprehension as he listened to whatever had captured her attention, his serpentine tail flicking this way and that.

    All this alerted Keegan, and a pang of fear made her irritation evaporate. “What’s wrong?”

    “Eebui!” Without warning Hazel broke her standstill and dashed into the thick underbrush, bounding over a mottled grey tree root as she went. With a resonant growl in response, Tarn followed, his slim body almost seeming to undulate through the mulch coating the forest floor.

    “H— hey, wait up!” Impatiently tugging her bag more comfortably up onto her shoulder, Keegan chased after them both, raising a hand against the branches that swatted at her face, her legs already beginning to ache because of the uneven ground as she hurtled over roots and logs. Hazel’s bobbing, white-tipped tail was just barely in view, Tarn’s quick glide making him a blue shadow on brown and green.

    It wasn’t long before Keegan began to hear the deep boom of a waterfall, the sound echoing through the woods, growing louder and vibrating the ground beneath her feet. Abruptly the forest peeled away before her into sky and the girl staggered to a halt on the grassy edge of a short cliff, her chest heaving with gasping breaths and one hand clamped to the intermittent stitch in her side.

    “Vuubreen!”

    It was Tarn’s distressed keen which caught her attention this time, and her eyes found the vaporeon just as Hazel darted in front of him, cutting off his headlong rush into the fast-moving river. Stumbling towards them with rubbery legs, Keegan saw, over their backs and through the white spray of the unseen pond below, a pair of scruffy men roughly jamming as many mesh cages as they could fit onto the back of their dirty truck, its wheels sinking into the soft turf beside the lake beneath its three-cage-high load. Contained within them were pokémon of all shapes and sizes; prickly-looking nidoran, polished pink exeggcute, even the dull, soft purples of a venomoth. Some were struggling furiously with the mesh, their eyes narrowed with rage and bloodlust—a victreebel puffed itself up, yellow body pulsing and broad leaves quivering with rage as it threw itself at the walls of its pen with a piercing shriek that cut through the roar of the falls—while others lay injured on the blood-soaked floor of their enclosures.

    They— they’re hurting them—

    Keegan found herself shaking; in anger, in grief, in sick realization, her stomach twisting so sharply it made her breath catch and tears prick her eyes, one hand pressed to her mouth to keep herself to crying or screaming, she didn’t know which. I have to—I have to—

    I have to play a game.


    Before she’d thought anything more than that, her hands were fumbling for the pokéballs at her waist, pulling first Tarn’s and then Hazel’s from her belt. “You guys—I’ve gotta—”

    She hadn’t even finished, but Hazel was already in front of her, tail swishing urgently, and Keegan obeyed her unspoken command before turning to the vaporeon crouched at the muddy, overflowing bank and holding up the pokéball in silent request. For a moment Tarn stared at her, tail lashing the air, skating across water; then he moved, one paw in front of another, away from the river.

    He had just vanished into red light, the pokéball snapping shut around him, when there came a shrill, resonating cry from the woods below.

    “Frii friii!”

    What the—


    Keegan instinctively ducked, scrambling towards the edge in time to see a blue and white blur burst out of the trees, knocking the startled, skinny man wearing a green beanie aside before colliding with the stack of cages with a sickening crunch. The pile shifted with the scrape and shriek of metal, several of the enclosures on the opposite end toppling off with protesting screeches from steel and pokémon alike.

    As the man picked himself up, his vest and threadbare jeans now mud-stained and his heavy brow overshadowing squinty eyes in a deep scowl, his more portly companion swore fiercely. “It’s that damned butterfree again!”

    Scarlet compound eyes screwed up with determination, the butterfree swooped down on the truck a second time, long toes trailing, while the cages on the ground rocked, the pokémon inside struggling to get free.

    The thickset man with the flaxen thatch of hair expanded a grubby-looking pokéball, releasing a pokémon atop the cages with that familiar warp of red light. The thick purple sludge that was a grimer rose up, black maw gaping and its formless paws reaching for the butterfree.

    “Frii!”

    With a twist of its lavender-coloured body and a tilt of its broad, black-veined wings, the butterfly pokémon banked sharply, narrowly missing the sludge as it melted back into a formless shape, ooze slapping against the surface of the cages and dripping between the mesh. Even from the cliff Keegan could smell it, forcing her to take a deep breath through her mouth or risk gagging.

    Okay, so we’re not the only ones trying to get these guys free, but the butterfree can’t go at this alone—

    Keegan looked down to the expanded pokéball still in her fist, at the shape of the vaporeon distorted by the thick red surface. “You want to help,” she whispered. “So do I. I’ll do my best, if you do yours.”

    It wasn’t exactly what she wanted to say—she wanted to comfort him, to try and convince him that she wasn’t really that bad a trainer, to make sure that he would fight as earnestly as he had that day in Goldenrod, whatever his reasons had been for doing so then—but it was as close as she was gonna get, the words failing in her mouth. Instead she rose up on her knees, drew back one arm, and lobbed the pokéball as far and as accurately as she could towards the truck, over the head of the scrawny poacher as he hurriedly shoved crates back onto the vehicle’s bed and lashed them down using wiry rope. With a loud thud the pokéball bounced off the roof of the cab, splitting open and unleashing Tarn onto the muddy, dusty surface. Yes!

    “What the f—”

    Porky caught sight of Keegan, crouched at the height of the waterfall with the gleam of a second pokéball expanding between her fingers, her blonde hair and grey shirt damp with spray. His bulging eyes narrowed and he snarled, showing yellowed teeth, but he and his companion were abruptly distracted as his grimer was caught in a crossfire of a Water Gun and a Gust attack. Liquid splattered over the ground, lashing at any and all uncovered flesh as the squall cast it about, leaving the grimer clinging desperately to its perch with dissolving appendages.

    “Damn it all!” The gaunt man hissed in frustrated urgency, shielding his face from the wind, water and sludge as he snatched up the pokéball hanging from the front of his vest and pitched it towards the cab. It exploded into red light with the crack of a releasal, shaping into the squat form of a pink-skinned lickitung.

    “Get that bloody thing!” Gaunt hollered, gesturing violently at Tarn as the pokémon jumped aside to avoid a barrage of messy sludge bombs, the brown droplets splattering everywhere behind… and as Firefoot materialized on the matted turf.

    “Arrcth!” the arcanine howled, launching himself at the lickitung with his teeth bared and orange fur bristling wildly in a mane around his head. Startled, Tarn jerked around, the mud and water making him slide precariously on the grimy roof—right into the thick, slimy tongue which snapped around him and squeezed. An instant later Firefoot cannoned into the lickitung and sent it flying, causing its tongue to lash the air like a whip with Tarn on the end.

    The butterfree’s Whirlwind hit the truck with all the force of an act of nature, sending the vehicle into a vicious three-sixty-degree spin. Tyres kicked up waves of mud, steel groaned in complaint, the windows cracked beneath the stones and debris pelting the glass. The poachers threw themselves to the side to avoid it, but Firefoot was knocked over by an explosion of mud, staining his fur brown. At the same time, the lickitung kicked its stubby legs and heaved itself to its feet, hurling Tarn violently aside.

    He rocketed over the top of the truck, was caught momentarily by the howling winds, before blasting from the hurricane like a stone from a slingshot, colliding brutally with the butterfree. They hit the ground hard at the same time as Keegan, the girl dropping her bag as her legs collapsed from her hurried descent, her arms and face scratched by the hard rock of the cliff and the unbandaged scabs on her wrist weeping slightly with the effort.

    Creaking horribly, the truck skidded to a complete stop as the winds dissipated, now resembling nothing more than a gigantic, screeching pile of mud and debris, with purple gloop mixed in.

    For a split second it seemed as though time stood still as everyone gathered themselves in the wake of the Whirlwind: Keegan, Tarn and the poachers staggered to their feet, the butterfree fluttered dazedly into an unsteady hover a foot above the ground, the stunned grimer gathered itself from atop its perch, and Firefoot struggled against the muck that sucked at his paws.

    Then the lickitung lashed out at Firefoot, binding one paw with its tongue to wrench him into the air in a splatter of mud, and the clearing once again became a rush of action.

    “Tarn, Water Gun ‘em!” Keegan shouted, pointing sharply towards the poachers as she pushed herself off the bit of cliff she’d been using as a support and made a dash for the cages, leaving her bag where it was in relative safety.

    “Vuubuon!” Tarn darted beneath her feet to get around the truck and drew in a deep breath to obey, liquid beginning to gurgle in his throat.

    “Sludge Bomb!” Porky roared to his grimer, stumbling in the direction of the vehicle, and the ooze that was sloshing over the tops of the cages peaked into a semblance of a head, opening into wide jaws.

    Before the grimer could complete the move, the cage rattled under yet another ferocious wind from the butterfree, making Keegan’s hair and debris whip her eyes and mud splatter over the hems of her jeans. The girl flinched and jerked away from the Gust, automatically raising an arm to cover her head even as she worked at a thick knot of rope tying down the cages.

    Unhindered, Tarn fired a watery torrent towards the poachers, just as the lickitung brought Firefoot down with all its strength. The ground’s momentary tremor was enough to make Tarn stumble and the Water Gun went wide, catching only Porky in the side in an explosion of spray and sending him skidding and spluttering back to the ground with a thud.

    A second later the vaporeon was forced to twist aside to dodge Gaunt’s vicious kick as the poacher ran past, headed straight for Keegan. Tarn hesitated for a moment, torn between Porky’s snarling face and Gaunt’s vested back; then his decision was made for him in the form of a barrage of sludge bombs which blasted the ground around him, making him leap backward in surprise—away from the truck.

    Keegan had just worked loose one knot, her fingers numbed and grazed by the coarse rope, when rough hands grabbed her arms and wrenched her violently away from the cages. “Shit!” she cursed in explosive surprise, stumbling to keep her balance from the abrupt change in position and automatically jerking away from the tight grip.

    She didn’t expect the man to actually let go.

    The girl tripped over her own feet and hit ground with a mud-splattering, breath-stealing thump, a spark of pain up her arms and ribs marking their complaint. She lifted her head in time to see Gaunt draw back one foot to kick her in the side, and instinctively flinched away.

    Gonna hurt—

    “Brii!”


    The butterfree plummeted out of the sky, eyes and antenna flashing blue. The Confusion slammed into Gaunt’s mind like a sledgehammer against a brick wall, making the poacher stagger back, swearing harshly and gripping his temples. He would have been knocked down a second later by the pokémon’s Tackle, except for the gobbet of sludge which splacked across the butterfree’s wings, the grimer’s head already melting into the dripping, formless mess after its attack. The butterfree jerked violently, tumbling on its own slipstream to the ground with a shrill cry of pain, wings stained purple by the acidic goo.

    “Little nuisance!” Gaunt hissed angrily, still holding one hand to his head as he lifted his foot to bring it down on the butterfree’s delicate wings.

    No—! Keegan jolted into action, one hand flashing to a spare pokéball at her belt, hurling it at the butterfree struggling, with scrunched up eyes, to move away. Return—

    A second later, as the butterfree dissolved into red light, Keegan remembered that she didn’t actually own it, but then Gaunt’s boot crunched on the muddy turf beside the pokéball, the shift of the ground making it roll towards Keegan.

    Too late now—

    She snatched it up just as it locked down with a ping, scrambling to her feet and getting a quick glimpse of the rest of the battlefield as she turned around to run.

    Out of the corner of her eye she caught the burst of flames Firefoot had just aimed at the lickitung, then the sweep of mud the pink pokémon raised with its tongue to block the fire, splattering over Firefoot’s already filthy coat, weighing the arcanine down even more.

    She saw Tarn as he sank his small fangs into Porky’s ankle, eliciting an almost amusingly girlish shriek and a spew of curses, the poacher’s automatic kick catching the vaporeon in the ribs and sending him sprawling as the man limped hurriedly towards the driver’s side of the cab.

    Then she felt an iron grip seize her wrist and yank her back, eliciting a twinge from her shoulder. Unthinkingly the girl whirled around to backhand the scrawny poacher with the closed fist still clutching the butterfree’s pokéball.

    It felt like something had exploded in her hand and wrist, but the girl was so far beyond the point of thinking that she didn’t even register it; not until after she’d jerked her other hand away from the poacher, who fell back dazedly, hand going to cup his bloodied nose.

    It took moment before Keegan realized that the half-sob, half-groan had come from her, her injured limb already cradled against her chest even as she staggered away, her throbbing fingers feeling as though they were locked around the pokéball.

    Need help—need Hazel—best battler, know what to do—

    Or so her fragmented thoughts went, swirling around in her overwhelmed mind.

    She never managed to put thought to action, however, because her attention was caught by an urgent yowl from Tarn, right before she was hit by something that felt like a car.

    It may as well have been. For the second time in as many minutes, Keegan hit the ground, this time on her back and with a bone-jarring blow that made her head swim, leaving her gasping for air and momentarily paralysed. Firefoot twisted his body just enough so that he fell mostly on the matted grass and not his trainer, skidding a short furrow in the muddy lawn and rolling against the girl’s arm.

    OhGodcan’tbreathe—

    Panic slammed into Keegan as her complaining lungs refused to take in air, curling in on herself, one hand clenching in Firefoot’s long fur. It was only a second or two, but it felt like an eternity before she could take deep, shuddering breaths.

    “Sludge Bomb!”

    The command was distant to her ringing ears, and the girl couldn’t have moved to avoid it anyway, but she did manage to push herself up just enough to see over Firefoot’s back as a swirling ring of frost and ice flurried the space between them and the truck, freezing the aforementioned bombs in midair. They smashed into useless icicles on the ground, and Tarn had just leapt for the poacher leaning unsteadily against the truck when a long, muscular tongue lashed out to catch him, wrapping him up like a meowth on a string.

    “Tarn,” Keegan croaked anxiously as Firefoot managed to stagger to his feet, standing over her protectively with his long fur dripping and lips rolled back over his canine in a snarl.

    The truck’s engine rumbled and roared to life, followed by Porky’s victorious yell.

    We’re losing…

    “You,” Gaunt snarled. “Have been damned nuisances.”

    C’mon, gotta move, gotta move, gotta move… Keegan pulled herself up using Firefoot as a support, hardly listening to the poacher’s words; her conscious mind had stopped working some time ago, and right now all she was thinking that she needed reinforcements, she needed Hazel, groping at her belt for the eevee’s pokéball.

    Something flashed, cutting the air between them. Almost instantaneously the lickitung shrieked in pain, its tongue bucking violently enough to toss Tarn up into the air, but Keegan didn’t understand why until she saw the blood that cascaded over the slimy surface.

    “What—”

    The object—a pokéball—rebounded off the cages, opening with a burst and releasing a purple golbat in the same instant that two other pokémon dematerialized into red light, one in midair and the other sitting, shuddering, on the grass.

    “Supersonic!” a calm, slightly harsh voice ordered. The bat opened its huge mouth, fangs glistening, and let out a shattering, drawn-out screech which rippled the air, pressuring everything that heard it into the ground, stealing their breath, making their heads pound. Keegan clutched at her ears with both her filled hands, burying her head in Firefoot’s fur, scrunching up against the shaking arcanine even as he whined, unheard, for the pain in his head.

    Abruptly it ended, leaving nothing but ringing in their ears—at least until Keegan lifted her face and her vision swam dizzyingly.

    A second later she almost choked on a horrible stench, what she could see of the surroundings taking on a vaguely purple haze as the panicked grimer oozed a thick cloud of gas from its every pore. The girl turned away from it, pressing her dirty sleeve to her nose to avoid breathing it in. She heard the slam of a door, then the squelch of tires on mud and the roar of the engine as the truck fled, spraying mud all over her and Firefoot.

    After that there was only the sound of beating wings, and slowly the fog cleared.

    Coughing, Keegan pushed herself up, one elbow braced against Firefoot. Even then, it took a moment before she realized that he was shivering violently, his body heaving as he choked, the foam already bubbling from his mouth tainted purple.

    Oh no, no, no no no—

    “Shit, shit, shit shit shit—” Keegan cursed, her eyes pricking with frustrated, helpless tears as she replaced Tarn’s pokéball so she’d have a spare hand, clenching a fistful of the arcanine’s fur. “Hang on, I’ll get some—I’ve got some—hang on—”

    Thank God, thank God, if nothing else I’m prepared for that—

    Thank Pete, he was the one obsessed with being prepared.


    She was just about to push herself up onto unsteady feet when a flask dropped by her leg, making her jump and flinch, the hand still clutching the butterfree’s pokéball automatically lashing out to throw it—except that her fingers twinged when she flexed her hand, making her hiss.

    Instead she craned her head to look up at the tall black-haired man who had approached on silent feet, his face lean and slanted eyes narrow. “Make him drink that,” he ordered, turning away to catch his golbat as the pokémon flared to a halt to perch on his armguard, the end of the long red scarf around his neck fluttering over his shoulder.

    Should I, should I not—I know I have some, can I trust him?

    What the hell. It means I don’t have to walk to my bag, and I’m tired of being suspicious all the time…


    Keegan fumbled with the container, one-handedly flicking aside the cap and awkwardly forcing open Firefoot’s jaws to give him the yellow-hued antidote. The arcanine choked, spitting half of it out and coating Keegan’ fingers in slime, but he managed to gulp down enough of it that his shivers soon subsided, shaking off the sick tinge his fur had taken.

    “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Keegan breathed, her voice breaking as she gave the arcanine a one-handed hug before turning to look up again at the thin stranger.

    Not a stranger. I know him from somewhere.

    He was dressed in a rather old-fashioned uniform, a dark olive-green in colour and inherently loose in style aside from where the hems of his pants were held in by his high boots and the long-sleeved, mesh-textured shirt he wore beneath the short-sleeved tunic. Looks almost like something an old-day samurai would wear.

    A second later her breath caught in realization, her eyes widening as she watched him frown after the truck, absently stroking the golbat on the head. Or a ninja.

    That’s Koga, the Fuchsia City gym leader!


    That’s when he turned, his dark eyes meeting hers, and Keegan shivered with the chill that ran down her back. Empty…

    “Well?” he asked impatiently with a raised eyebrow. “Have you finished interfering? Or would you like to impede my capture of those poachers a second time? Come now, there’s no hurry, I have all the time in the world.”

    He was—he was after them?

    And I—

    Oh.


    Keegan flushed and dropped her gaze under his scathingly sarcastic tones. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I just—I just—”

    “I would suggest,” the ninja cut in flatly. “That you end your Safari Game immediately and return to Fuchsia City.” The golbat screeched, flapping its leathery wings as though to punctuate its trainer’s words; then with a tiny jerk he released it, letting it zip into the air with an odd, meandering flight-path. Without another glance at Keegan he followed its general direction, running with sure, silent steps into the trees.

    For a moment Keegan stared after him, a little shocked by his abrupt departure, her stomach twisting with embarrassment. Then she looked down at Firefoot, whose ears were half back in uncertainty. “I guess we know where we are now,” the girl said a little weakly. She was just becoming aware of the fact that her clothes were almost completely mud-stained, clinging her to her wetly; her hair was clumped together by dirt, her fringe hanging in straggles around her face; her entire body was one huge, aching muscle.

    But all of them were sensations she was somewhat used to. With her habit of playing games with Ross and their pokémon, she was used to straining herself, especially after she began travelling; in Alto Mare, it was common to get splashed and wet. The mud was new, but the rest was easy enough to put aside.

    And put it aside she did, she had to, because she still didn’t know where the hell she was—her general location of the Safari Zone was all well and good, but she didn’t know which direction she was supposed to be going in.

    That was when the pokéball in her hand rattled, and wearily Keegan lifted it to blink dumbly at the butterfree inside, who had apparently recovered its energy enough to attack the sides of the device. It buzzed furiously inside, tiny claws moving, antenna bobbing, as it motioned in the direction of the truck.

    “You want to go after them?” Keegan asked uncertainly, and the pokéball rocked in confirmation, the butterfree doing a twirl of approval inside.

    Of course we want to go after them, ‘little fox’ snapped. The game’s not over yet, and we were losing. We can’t just give up halfway.

    Oh. Yeah. But Koga said to go.

    Since when have you obeyed the orders of a stranger, and a freaky stranger at that? I don’t like leaving things unfinished, I want to know what’s going on, I am not going to let a pair of stupid poachers beat me, not after the Rockets.

    But we messed up his plans…

    We didn’t know. Maybe we can make amends by going to help. Besides, if nothing else following the poachers gives us a direction. They need to get out of the Safari Zone somehow, right? Maybe we can get out the same way.


    Keegan hesitated, looking around at the thundering waterfall, ignored until that moment; at the muddy bog that the pond-banks had become; the trees, sparse as the clearing opened up before becoming nothing more than a blur of green in the distance.

    And the twin tracks, vanishing off into the thinnest part of the woods in a slew of mud and grass.

    It was the only thing she had to go on.

    There was no other way to go.

    And if she did see them again, and found herself with an opportunity, how could she, in good conscience, pass it up?

    Well, I guess that decides things. With a sigh the girl staggered to her feet, brushing ineffectually at her filthy clothes, prying the butterfree’s pokéball out of her fist with winces and soft curses at her twinging hand.

    “Firefoot, I know you’re tired, but can you track that truck?” she asked apologetically. Maybe Koga’ll have caught them by then and I can ask directions, at the very least.

    “Nnnnrth,”
    Firefoot snorted confidently, heaving himself to his feet as his mistress retrieved her bag, hauling it up onto her shoulder with her uninjured hand. She still cradled the other one close, even though the throbbing had died down into a faintly numb buzz, as long as she didn’t move her fingers too much. Then she looked back in the direction of the tracks, knowing that if she saw the poachers she would wind up getting herself in trouble yet again.

    Guess that’s why they call me the little fox, she mused idly, briefly touching her pendant for good luck before trudging after the arcanine who was bounding into the forest.
    Last edited by purple_drake; 11th August 2008 at 1:51 PM.

  21. #46
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    Apr 2005
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    I cannot believe I’m doing this.

    Keegan slid further down the ridge against which she lay, the damp ground soft beneath her weight, soaking into her filthy clothes. The truck was just over the rim, parked at the base of the short, sloping hill on the bank of a wide lake. It wasn’t difficult to hear the clamour erupting from the cages on the back, but it overshadowed the poachers’ voices so she only caught a few words whenever they spoke.

    Words such as ‘nuisance’, ‘they’, ‘ship’ and ‘Koga’.

    Guess I was right about that…

    Carefully she peeked over the crest again. Both the men were waiting edgily by the truck, Porky checking the watch on his thick wrist while Gaunt tapped impatiently on the tailgate, looking out over the grey water through the bruises that were purpling across his face. The sight of said bruises made Keegan feel a brief pang of satisfaction, hastily squashed.

    The girl’s eyes shifted from side to side as she visually scouted the tree-line, but she didn’t see any hint of Koga’s presence, not that she seriously expected to. He was a ninja, for God’s sake.

    Still, she fingered the butterfree’s pokéball nervously, now attached to her belt along with all the others. She hadn’t had a chance to name it—her, she’s a her—yet, but that was the first thing on her ‘to do’ list as soon as she got to the warm, dry Pokémon Centre.

    For all that, it was the butterfree she was relying on. She didn’t want to bring Firefoot or Tarn out unless absolutely necessary, injured as they were, but she also wanted to avoid a battle if she could. She remembered Goldenrod; sleeping powder was effective as hell. If it worked once, it would work twice, so even though the butterfree wasn’t exactly in the shape to fly more than a couple of feet, she had powder in abundance.

    But only if there’s no other choice, Keegan reminded herself. She didn’t particularly want to draw Koga’s attention again—just thinking about that icy lack of expression in his eyes gave her chills—but she simply could not turn around and walk away without knowing how this would end—that it would end.

    So while the poachers watched the lake, so did she, waiting for whatever sign they were, anxiously scanning the trees for Koga, reinforcements, anyone.

    Someone has to be here,
    she thought worriedly. He said he was going to capture them, he has to be here… so where is he?

    Gaunt whacked his companion on the arm, his eyes riveted on the lake as he gestured in its direction, and both Porky and Keegan turned towards the water. There, drawing nearer, was a small, flat-decked barge, cruising beneath the grey skies.

    Keegan’s stomach tightened, her gaze shifting frantically from tree to tree is search of the elusive ninja. He’s still not here. What do I do? They’re going to get away!

    For several long seconds she agonised over the approaching boat, absently flexing her aching hand to massage the stiffness out of it in case she needed to use it—although she doubted it would be much help, it was difficult to move it—and unfastening then refastening the butterfree’s pokéball from her belt in uncertainty.

    By the time the boat was close enough for her to see the distorted figure through the glass of the control booth and the poachers had begun moving to prepare the truck for transport, she couldn’t take it anymore. Gotta do something. She snatched the butterfree’s pokéball up, sitting back on her heels to pitch it down the hill. For the second time that day, a pokéball sailed over the oblivious poachers’ heads, although this one missed the cab and instead rebounded off the mud-streaked bars of the top layer of cages.

    It burst open in a swirling cascade of sparkling green powder, dousing the two men in its glittering waves before they had become fully aware of its presence. Both of them drooped to the ground, one slumping against the rail of the truck’s bed and the other sprawled out of the damp grass not far away, the cacophony of captured pokémon punctuated by loud snores.

    The butterfree landed on the topmost cages, wings moving weakly but scarlet eyes ablaze with satisfied glee, tiny claws waving in triumph. Keegan let out a relieved breath, pushing herself up to scramble over the ridge and down the slope, casting an anxious look towards the ferry. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw a figure on the deck, but they didn’t seem to be looking her way and she sped up, clamping Bill’s handkerchief to her face as she kicked up the glittering dust, stepping around the sleeping men.

    She didn’t see the few specks of rain drizzling down from the gloomy sky.

    “Keep watch,” Keegan hurriedly instructed the butterfree, head turning once again towards the boat, trying to judge the distance between it and the shore before giving up. They’re so close, though. I don’t think I’ll have time—not unless—

    Not unless you take the entire truck.

    Oh boy.


    Dashing towards the cab, Keegan peered in through the cracked window, trying to see past the spider-web fractures dotting the glass. She just managed to catch a glimpse of the keys dangling from the dashboard before two things happened.

    One was a distant, warning shout, making her jerk in surprise towards the lake, only to swear heavily when she saw the figure on deck pointing towards shore and calling out to his companions.

    The other was an ominous rumble as the sky dumped an ocean of rain on top of them.

    Keegan jolted, shocked, as the cold water hit her like a ton of bricks, instantly soaking her to the skin, the liquid pouring off her weatherproof bag in rivulets. The butterfree trilled in irritation, shaking her wings in an attempt to keep them from becoming sodden, and Keegan dug at her waist for the pokéball she’d replaced there, hastily returning the pokémon as the sound of a groan filtered through the noise of the rain on the lake, pattering over the grass.

    Oh, shit—

    Keegan scrabbled for the door handle, her back prickling with awareness as the rain washed away the sleep powder, the chill waking the poachers behind her. She tugged open the door, sliding into the driver’s seat and tossing her soaked bag onto the passenger’s as a shout cut through the downpour. Frantically she thumped down on the locks as Porky’s snarling, saturated face appeared at the window, shouting profanities at her through the cracked glass.

    Step one: get in car accomplished.

    Step two: turn car on.


    Brushing wet hair out of her eyes with shaking hands, Keegan fumbled the seatbelt into its nook before twisting the key, making the ring jangle with the movement. The engine roared, her heart leapt with hope… right before it spluttered and died.

    You’ve got to be kidding!

    Stomach tight with urgency, her eyes flickered to the grim-faced scrawny man outside the door, his beanie soaked with rain and water trickling down his sallow, bruised face, having replaced his companion and now focussed on some unknown task which would no doubt end up with an unlocked door.

    Not good. Come on, step two…

    Swallowing through her heart in her mouth, Keegan turned the key again and again, her frayed nerves winding tighter and tighter until the truck finally rumbled to life.

    Finally! Now for step three: figure out how the hell to drive car.

    Not to mention not kill myself in the process of driving it…!


    She pressed her foot randomly down on a pedal, gripping the wheel so tightly that her knuckles went white and her bad hand twinged. The truck surged forward abruptly, wheels spurting on the muddy grass, and she just saw the poacher jump back with a curse before she was past, water leaving streaks on the glass, the landscape a grey blur outside the windows.

    A second later something loomed out of the darkness in front of her and with a terrified oath she yanked on the wheel, swerving aside before she hit it. Another dark shape seemed to come at her from the right, and another from the left, leaving her veering away from every figure visible through the pounding rain, squinting desperately through the thick, rippling tracks of water streaming down the windshield and the cracks which spider-webbed across it.

    Don’tlikethismusthavebeencrazy—

    Light, I need light—how do I turn the damned headlights on?! And why the hell are they off in the first place?!


    She flinched whenever branches or leaves whipped the cab, the truck bouncing over rocks and debris beneath, the engine whining loudly every time the vehicle skidded on mud and mulch. She didn’t dare take her hands off the wheel long enough to search for the headlights; the poachers probably had them off to minimise detection. Which may have helped them.

    But it sure as hell ain’t helping me!

    The engine made several terrifying noises, like metal turning over a grindstone, and Keegan’s heart stopped. Oh, God, don’t die on me now!

    Ease off, you idiot, you’re going too fast!

    Oh. Right.


    She made herself take a few deep breaths and forced her foot to relax, to stop pressing the pedal right down to the floor as it had been. The engine’s whir slowed, the shapes flashing past now visible as actual trees—what she could see of them through the thick drops splattering over the glass, the thin fissures that remained from their battle, the leaves and debris which skated across the windshield.

    Okay. Better. Maybe I won’t die after all…

    Famous last words.

    There was a jolt, a bump, as the truck abruptly powered over the lip of an unseen ridge, kicking up mud, water and debris lashing the windows. Keegan’s stomach lurched along with the frightening sensation of weightlessness a moment before the vehicle hit ground with a bone-shuddering crunch, skidding and spinning in the slick ground. The girl wrenched at the wheel desperately, struggling to regain control, but she merely sent the truck fishtailing from side to side, the forest a swirl of grey and green and brown outside the windows.

    Please please please pleasepleasepleaseplease—

    Brake, brake, brake, dammit!


    Her foot went from the pedal to another, pumping on it uselessly before moving to the next and pressing down. The truck jerked, sending up a spray of mud and debris in front of her as the wheels locked, but the slippery ground and the downward slope kept its momentum. It swerved to the side, skidding along at an angle up until the point that a massive tree came out of nowhere right in their path.

    Oh shit— was all Keegan managed to think before they hit. Her world exploded into the shriek of metal and the shatter of glass, in counterpoint to the thin animal screeches somewhere in the back. The girl was thrown violently around, the seatbelt wrenching taut and drawing a ribbon of pain up her chest and shoulder, chafing her bare neck raw.

    Then there was silence, silence aside from the drip of water and the dull thud and groan of settling debris. For several moments Keegan just sat and trembled, her breaths quick and ragged, her heart pounding, her stomach threatening nausea.

    We’ve stopped.

    We’ve really stopped.


    The rain drummed through the canopy to trickle through the now completely smashed windshield onto the crumpled dashboard, the steering wheel half caved in to the engine. The passenger’s side had received the worst of the blow—the dash had met with the seat, now looking as though it was one object, and the door and hood were wrapped so closely around the bleeding tree that they may as well have been married.

    Numbly Keegan forced open her clenched fists, prying them from the wheel—both of them ached, now, her knuckles covered in tiny cuts and scrapes from the glass. She clasped them to her chest in a vain attempt to still the tremors shaking her body, unaware of the stunned tears which tracked down her grimy cheeks. The seatbelt bound her tightly, almost suffocatingly, to the chair, forced at an odd angle by the steel crushed in huge wrinkles across the way.

    That was about when the daze began to lift enough for her to start feeling things. For the second time that day, her body ached from the beating it had taken, and she knew she’d have bruises by the next morning. Her neck twinged abominably every time she turned her head, and when she raised a trembling hand to her stinging cheeks they came away wet with watery blood—she’d been cut by flying glass, probably more than once.

    Her feet were being squashed by the metal of the dashboard, so all she could feel down there was a heavy weight and the pinpricks of sharp edges. Gingerly she wormed her way out, swallowing a cry of pain when she grazed long scrapes down her shins. When she drew her legs up onto the seat, it was to find her jeans were soaked with oil, ripped and torn, and judging by the sting the metal had drawn blood beneath the heavy denim.

    Keegan took a deep breath and almost choked on the sob which came out instead, her eyes pricking with hot tears, her throat closed by a lump.

    I can’t, there’s no time, I have to get the pokémon out, some of them might be hurt, I can’t stay here—

    But for long moments all she could do was hug her knees and struggle to contain the sobs—and fail.

    When she finally managed to take several deep breaths in a row without one of them catching—shaky though they were—she fumbled for the button of the seatbelt, only for her hand to scuff hard plastic. When she looked down, it was to find that her seat had been shoved out of position enough to crush the lower end of the belt.

    You’ve got to be kidding. She tugged uselessly at the switch, but only succeeded in tightening the band across her chest.

    Not kidding.

    She closed her eyes, biting hard on her lip to keep new tears at bay. Okay. Okay. I’m alive. I’m fine. I can’t get out. No room for a pokémon. What do I do?

    Maybe I can break it. Up near the shoulder.
    Her eyes flickered open and she twisted around to see where the clip was attached to the side of the truck, but the sudden pain that lanced down her arm made her hiss and flinch away from the chair-back. She abruptly became aware of the liquid she could feel trickling down her arm, making her long-sleeved shirt cling to her wetly, accompanied by a dull throb. A quick look proved that she’d been cut, at some point or another, by the glass of the side window—although it was still mostly intact, if made completely opaque by the white fracture-lines.

    Don’t look too bad. Just that I’ve got so bloody many of them, not just on my arm…

    The clip on the side turned out to be out of reach, the seatbelt pulled too tight to give her any leeway to wriggle into a new position.

    Okay. I can’t do that. Maybe I can cut it. She glanced towards the passenger seat, covered in glass and debris, and stretched so she could root through it to find her bag. Pocket knife’s in there… not much… but it’s better than nothing…

    It took a few moments for her to actually find the pocket knife, and when she flicked out the blade it looked puny compared to the wide black material of the belt, but she felt better to actually be doing something, no matter how useless.

    She didn’t get far—didn’t seem to have made a difference at all—before the soft crack of a pokémon being released cut through the beat of the rain. Keegan froze, her heart ricocheting off her ribs and into her mouth, and her hand clenched on the knife as she tensed.

    “Use Acid, then your tail,” a familiar, cold voice ordered from outside over the downpour, and Keegan felt a chill run down her back, her stomach twisting.

    Oh hell, not him.

    She heard a splat, as though something sticky had just hit the door, and then a low sizzle, almost lost beneath the other sounds. A long, serpentine shadow rose up behind the broken window; then there was a deafening thud and the door buckled off its damaged hinges, showering her with glass remnants and water as she recoiled, brandishing the knife defensively.

    “Air Cutter,” came another curt command, and Keegan peeked through half-closed eyes in time to see the air ripple, see it cut. She flinched back from the ear-splitting whistle as the draught of blades sliced through the seatbelt and the worn leather of the chair behind it.

    The band across her chest slackened but before she could do anything, someone plucked the knife out of her hand. She blinked wordlessly up at Koga as he lifted it by the tip, one eyebrow raised, his spiky hair looking rain- and windswept. “I believe,” he said coolly, with a steely undercurrent that made her shiver and look away. “I told you to leave.”

    I know you did, but I couldn’t, and I don’t know why I should listen to you anyway—

    She swallowed, preferring to study the lithe arbok wound halfway up a nearby tree than look at him, see the recrimination in his eyes. Not that it helped; the purple pokémon simply glared back at her, narrow forked tongue flickering in and out accusingly. Her stomach felt hollow with embarrassment, with guilt, with sheer exhaustion. “I was lost,” she mumbled. “I didn’t come in from the gates, I came from the Cycling Road, I needed to follow them and then you didn’t come and I couldn’t let them get away—”

    “Foolish girl,” Koga growled, flicking the pocket knife shut with a practised snap and tossing it back onto her lap. “I’ve been tracking those poachers for a week now—did you think they were random thieves, darting in and out? No, their scheme was more elaborate; catching them is nothing if I don’t catch their accomplices as well. Now you’ve just ruined any chance of that.

    He was… waiting… deliberately waiting…

    Oh, God. He
    wanted the ferry to land—he wanted to catch them in the act—all of them!

    Keegan felt sick, swallowing with difficulty through the lump in her throat, her vision blurring with tears. Oh, God, I’ve screwed this up so badly.

    You didn’t know.

    I should have trusted…

    You saw what you saw. You acted as best as you could. You didn’t
    know. How could you have known?

    It’s not my place…

    Not your place to help some injured pokémon? You wanted to help. You thought he wasn’t going to be there in time. Your intentions were good.


    She took a deep breath, reaching out to yank the key out of the slot, making the other keys jingle, and shoved her pocket knife into her pocket. “I didn’t know,” she repeated to herself aloud, as much to her as to Koga. “I didn’t—I didn’t know—how could I have known? I couldn’t see you… I didn’t want them to get away… I didn’t think—”

    “That much,” Koga said with exceptional asperity, “Is obvious.”

    He didn’t let me finish. She managed to summon a glare from somewhere, but the disdainful look he gave back—in triplicate—made her flush and turn to grab her bag, shaking debris off the soft material. “I didn’t think you’d get there in time,” she said shortly, channelling the frustration building in her gut into anger instead. I need the energy, I’m not sure how long I can last, I wanna get to Fuchsia…

    “Think who you’re talking to, girl,” Koga growled, but Keegan just ducked her head and pushed past him, scrambling out of the mangled cab. She’d only taken a step when his comment triggered a thought and she whirled around, chest heaving, kicking up mulch, eyes blazing.

    “Well, if you’re so good, why the hell didn’t you stop me before I did anything?!” she demanded, but didn’t even wait for an answer before she spun about once again, ignoring the arbok’s hiss, the pokémon rearing up indignantly at her rough manner towards its master. Koga flicked his hand and it settled down again, narrow, unblinking eyes locked on Keegan as the girl struggled up the muddy hill, ignoring the sting of her various cuts and the ongoing ache in her muscles, the water dripping from above, having faded to a slight drizzle which barely penetrated the thick canopy.

    “Because, girl, I had people and pokémon to coordinate, a position to keep, and very little time between realizing you were there and your idiotic decision to play hero to get you out of the way.”

    Keegan twitched. It’s not like I was trying to hide from anyone except the poachers, she thought angrily, her frustration and guilt unhinging the usual walls between her thoughts and her mouth, her next words coming before she could stop them. “You’d think a gym leader would be better prepared,” she scoffed, pulling up alongside one of the cages and jamming the key into its lock. Inside, the round, spiky blue nidoran watched her with wide eyes, huddled, shivering, at the back of her enclosure.

    The next second someone had grabbed her arm and pulled her around, making her skid in the mud with a curse. She almost fell, but found herself being held up, automatically lifting her head only to meet Koga’s dark eyes, flashing with annoyance and making her flinch. “Idiot,” he hissed. “We couldn’t—risk—being—seen!”

    Then he released her just as suddenly and she stumbled, managing to catch herself on the truck before she went sliding down the hill. “I am not accustomed to being disobeyed, girl,” Koga said in such icy tones that Keegan shivered, struggling to keep up the tiny bonfire that was her anger. “I did not see you because I was not looking for a foolish teenager with a hero complex!

    I’m sorry, I’m sorry, don’t talk like that, I’m sorry—

    Tears pricked her eyes once again, but Keegan swiped them away furiously, angry at her own mistake, at her own fear of the reprimand. I did what I thought I had to, you can’t change it, you can’t change it, don’t be a coward, you need to face up to him—

    “I just wanted to help,” she faltered, and cursed herself for the hesitation. You helped. You helped. You saved them. Be proud. You did something. You made a choice. It’s the thought that counts.

    If I can remember that…

    I can take anything he says.


    She lifted her chin. “I was trying to help.” she said more firmly. “I tried—and I did—I saved them—you can’t blame me for not knowing—I just did what I could—and I saved them—”

    “The way you were driving, that remains to be seen,” Koga replied coldly, with just a touch of the sardonic humour which had marked his words up to a few moments ago. “You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself, let alone the pokémon.”

    Not fair, not funny, why does he seem like he’s laughing at me, he was angry just a minute ago—

    She turned away to struggle with the lock, flipping between keys to try and find the right one, but before she did the entire ring slipped through her cold, numbed fingers and dropped into the debris underfoot. Keegan cursed, but Koga stooped and picked it up before she could do so herself. “I think,” he said coolly, holding the keys back from her. “You’ve done enough damage here. Now this time do what I say and go back to Fuchsia.”

    “I can’t,” Keegan said stubbornly. “I can’t, I don’t know which way to go, I told you I was lost, I’m here by accident, I can’t—”

    Her gibbering excuse simply made her raise his fingers to his lips to let out a piercing whistle, making her flinch and automatically cover her ears. A second later came a responding screech, a golbat bursting through the foliage in a breakneck dive before it flared its leathery wings sharply to alight atop the cages. “Golbat can show you the way.”

    It wasn’t a suggestion. Koga fixed her with his steady, unnerving gaze, the expression in his eyes ordering her to do what he said but at the same time daringexpecting—her to argue.

    And so she did, one last-ditch effort to remain involved. I can’t give up now, I’ve come this far, I have to make sure, I don’t want to give in—

    “But the—” she began, gesturing towards the truckload of wet, bruised and injured pokémon.

    “I will take care of them,” Koga cut her off shortly, fisting the keys, and his calculating eyes bored into her even more intensely, as if to say, ‘well? Any other ideas, or are you actually going to be a good little girl and do what I say now?’

    Hell, she could almost hear him saying it.

    She shivered. I don’t trust him, I don’t trust him at all, but he was trying to find the poachers, and I’m tired, and I hurt, and I’m wet and cold and my pokémon are injured—

    Her weariness caught up with her, what was left of her anger melting away into exhaustion, overtaken by the shock of the afternoon.

    Why do I get myself into these things?

    “Okay,” she whispered dully, hugging herself. The goblet punctuated her words with a screech and a sharp flap, letting itself tumble off its perch to wing mockingly past her head, the tips of its wings scraping her messy hair even as she jerked instinctively aside.

    She hesitated for only a moment, casting one last, uncertain glance at Koga before trudging off after the golbat, too tired even to swat irritably at the leaves and water which dripped annoyingly in her eyes.

    Koga watched her leave, the metal keys digging into his palm, still as a statue aside from the tiny sway of his scarf until she was out of earshot.

    It was only then that he chuckled grudgingly; the girl had nerve, he had to admit that. Foolish, impulsive, pigheaded nerve, yes, but it was there nonetheless. It’s almost a pity that people like that can’t be trained. Too stubborn.

    With his spare hand he reached into the overlapping fold of his gi, pulling out a round device shaped much like his signature golbat and cupping it securely in his grasp. With a touch of his thumb on the eye-like button at the top of the device, the reflective surface within the gaping mouth of the golbat shimmered with static. “Report,” he snapped into it, still gazing thoughtfully after the girl.

    I have never met her; I’m sure I would remember someone so irksome. And yet…

    “The poachers are in custody, sir,”
    a slightly frustrated-sounded voice answered, the sound waves making the now opaque surface flicker. “But the ones on the ferry turned tail and ran before they hit shore. They’re gone.”

    Koga snarled a little in annoyance, his grip on the comm. device tightening. Very irksome. Damn that girl. And it’s unlikely they’ll return—not here, and not for a while.

    “Monitor the lake,” he ordered anyway as rain dripped onto the mirror-like screen in shimmers and ripples of static. “The police in Fuchsia have taken an interest in these poachers—we’ll let them deal with them. Meanwhile, there’s a truckload of pokémon for shipment.”

    “Yes, sir. We’ve got a lock. Is there someone we should look for—any idea who interfered?”

    Koga’s eyes narrowed, staring into the trees where the girl had vanished. Familiar, yet unfamiliar…

    “No. None at all.”

    He didn’t wait for a reply; with a second touch on the eye, the surface faded into its original state and he tucked the device away, raising one of his bladed pokéballs to return his arbok. Like it or not, girl, you now owe me twice over—and if I ever do have the misfortune of meeting you again, rest assured I will collect.

    With that he tossed the keys carelessly onto the back of the truck, striding calmly away from the screeching, restrained pokémon to vanish into the wet forest with a flutter of his crimson scarf.

    A/N: gi--a loose shirt or tunic which is worn in combination with hakama during training. Less formal than a kimono; basically a training uniform, whereas hakama can be worn during formal affairs.

  22. #47
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    Looks like a number of noteworthy characters have recently come into the picture. Tynan’s a prime example, someone about whom I find it quite interesting to read. Alyssa stood out too; she can be fairly nasty, yes, but her personality made for some entertaining reading.

        Spoiler:- Alyssa:


    And then we have Koga. Oh Lord… he rather scares me, and at times I really want to kick him (despite the fact that an attempt at such would fail VERY miserably, I’m sure XD), but nonetheless (or perhaps because of those factors o.o) I really like that guy. Oh, plus the fact that I like his character so much might also have something to do with the fact that I consider him to be one of the coolest gym leaders EVER. XD At any rate, his character is definitely done justice here. I loved reading about him.

    Speaking of the latest chapter, I love that Keegan wandered into the Safari Zone without even realizing it. Her sense of direction is a thing of majesty. XD

    … Considering that I found myself on Main Street and wondering how in the hell I wound up there a few months ago, maybe I shouldn’t poke fun at her sense of direction. XD; Or, maybe having goofed up likewise is precisely what gives me the right to have a good laugh about it. o.o …Bah, I just confused myself. XDDDD

    Those were some sweet battles there, both in the latest chapter and the one directly preceding it. The vs. Tynan match was cool, due in part to the fact that it enabled us to see Hazel show more of what she can really do. That same battle also contained a great employment of Flash Fire on the part of Tynan, his Flareon, and the author who decided that they would do such. The battle against the poachers had a number of neat qualities, as well, such as lots of action, very cool use of Grimer (especially with regards to its gloppy, oozy, virtually amorphous properties), and the way that the poachers were referred to as “Gaunt” and “Porky” in that scene (I liked that XD).

    Yay for Keegan’s acquisition of that Butterfree! Said Butterfree was positively adorable, yet fights like hell—an awesome combination. ^^

    And Keegan’s stealing of the truck… damn, that was cool. Very exciting—her panic in that scene came through excellently. Of course, I might also add that my mind, astonishingly morbid thing that it often is, kept imagining the bangs, thuds, and crunches of Pokémon mowed down by the truck as it went crashing through the Safari Zone. O~o;;; Not that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Keegan actually did hit or run over any Pokémon with said truck, mind you, but nonetheless my twisted brain decided at once that it fancied the notion that she did and ran with with that notion. Thanks, brain. XDDDD

    Plus, as is ever the case, things came from Keegan’s mind that I just loved the hell out of. That said, following is a gallery of some of my favorite of her thoughts from the past two chapters:

        Spoiler:- The Mind of Keegan:


    And now…

        Spoiler:- Other highlights and et cetera:


    So. Those were two very enjoyable chapters, with a nice, big dose of excitement and lots of pricelessness courtesy of Keegan’s mind. Oh, and KOGA—God, I enjoy the hell out of that character. Boss work yet again. ^^


    *Earlier in this review, when I had typed the word “magical”, I initially mistyped it as “pamgical”. O.o Wtf. XD
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 16th July 2007 at 2:13 AM.

    Current Chapter: Chapter 18 – Remnants

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  23. #48
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    Well, finally! Every time I went to reply the page refused to load properly, so there's my excuse for the lateness, Sike, sorry. And, yeah, I was waiting to see if anyone else reviewed too, to minimize posts *pouts* was the last chapter really that bad, peoples?

    Yeah ^.^ Alyssa and Tynan were both kind of two-dimensional in the original copy--I believe it was Negrek who pointed that out. And I kinda liked Alyssa even then, so I didn't really wanna get rid of her, so that meant I had to beef up her character. I like her even more now, and Tynan's gonna be interesting to write.

    *squeals* YUS! Another Koga fan! ^.^ I like most of the gym leaders, but Koga's been near the top of my list--if not at the top of my list--for ages. He's sarcastic and a ninja, what's not to like? :P I'm so glad you liked him in this, he's one of the characters you just want to do justice to 'cause they're so flippin' cool.

    You're right, though he is kinda scary... stand by for more appearances, he's actually a fairly major character

    I figure the Safari Zone doesn't have any actual borders, so walking into it from the forest around wouldn't be too difficult, right? :P And getting lost in forest would be a fairly easy thing to do... she'll get better over time, though. Hopefully.

    Thank you, thank you ^.^ Hazel's actually got quite a bit of experience in battling, now she gets to show it. And I love pokemon abilities, they can offer such strategic options... thanks! As for the names, well, it was getting boring calling them 'the poachers' all the time, and even more so to distinguish between them. Giving them nicknames was better--although they do actually have names, and I have every intention of bringing them back for the sequel as well...

    Said butterfree has a hero complex the size of Everest she's going to be fun.

    XD lol, that is morbid, although I'm sure if she didn't run over them it's not because she was careful about it, considering she could hardly see where she was going. *shudders* seriously, that would be terrifying though, 'specially for the first time in driving.

    Pamgical?! XD lol!

    Thanks again for the review ^.^

  24. #49
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    *wanders in*

    Hi there! (Gee, what an original greeting>__>) I'm very sorry for not reviewing earlier, although it was because I was on vacation in France and I didn't have internet there (I missed Serebii.net for two weeks!) so I review now, one day after coming back from the land of Swimming and Sunburns. Now that my pathetic excuses are done and I want to get on reviewing because I loved this chapter to no end^-^

    First of all, Keegan really should know better by know, taking a shortcut to evade the bikers, and of course, the result becomes quickly known. I can't imagine that someone can get lost that easily (although that could be because there are no woods or halve-jungles close to my home^-^') like Sike Saner said, her sense of direction IS indeed a thing of majesty^-^

    Getting herself lost in the Safari Zone was an idea of brilliance, she has no idea how she gets to Fuchsia but stumbles into the Safari Zone unknowingly. I actually hoped that Tynan would make an appearance, but he was probably smart enough not to follow her (or he just lost her as easily as Keegan lost her way)

    The dialogue that Keegan constantly had with herself in this chapter was hilarious, I found myself laughing my head off more that one time, she really is an amusing person. And 'Little Fox' sure is a troublemaker (or she gets Keegan in trouble) SHE'S A MINDCONTROLLER, getting Keegan in so much trouble so easy.

    And another Gym Leader gets spotlight, not sweet and wise like Erika, researching and with freaky powers like Morty but a KICK*** ninja. I'd constantly wanted to save Keegan from that icy look and his stern attitude. BUt no can do, I'm not written like her (OH boy, I wish she was real, it'd be fun^-^)

    I'm actually surprised that the pokemon of Keegan's team with the most experience was not used in any battle and all the rest was. Speaking of Keegan's pokemon, YAY!!! She got a new one (at least I think, she could always release it later onT__T Oh I hope not!)

    Eevee
    Arcanine
    Vaporeon
    Butterfree(???)

    I see that she gets a rather balanced team, and I sure hope the Butterfree stays, I think this one has a dynamic personality, something Keegan doesn't have in her team yet. A playful, young pokemon that is an experienced battler, a confident, but maybe a little laidback pokemon that can run way fast and a quiet pokemon that is distrustful of humans, If the butterfly stays then I think it s gonna be good friends with Hazel.

    Now, the sheme where she dumps Sleep Powder in their faces, takes the truck full of pokemon and drives like a madman...madwoman^-^' That was hilarious but also very thrilling and exciting, I was just glued to my screen, laughing sometimes between all the crazy action.

    This is now by FAR my favorite chapter of you yet, action, hilarious thoughts and an icy ninja and poachers, you combined this all to create such a brilliant piece of writing that I can't help but be jealous, I wish I had a wider, English vocubulary, I still having trouble with understanding some of the words you type...

    *sighs*

    oh well, it can't be helped, good luck with your future chapters, and don't forget, I will review every chapter, no matter how long it takes^-^(I can't believe myself sometimes I sound like a fan girl^-^')

    'till next time,

    ~Aimi Hanako~

    ...





    I'm not gone that fast
    I still have my ultimate thing...

    QUESTION BARAGE ATTACK???

    1. Will Tynan appear in Fuchsia?

    2. If he does, does he challenge Koga or Keegan to a battle?

    3. Will Keegan get to Fuchsia in the next chapter?(who knows, she could always faint or something, or be attacked and the Golbat gets wounded)

    4. Will Keegan go south now to Cinnabar or will she loop back to Lavender town after Fuchsia city?

    5. Butterfree will probably stay, this will also mean that she won't catch anymore pokemon soon, right?

    6. Does Koga meet Keegan again in the next chapter?

    7. Has Koga connections with Maxie or anyone of Team Magma?

    8. If he does, is he a close friend or something?

    9. Will Tynan team up with 'Brother'?

    10. Will Tynan team up with 'Brother' soon if he does?


    Info:

    Question Barrage Attack???

    increases the question every post^___^

    Have a nice day^-^
    Searching for Inspiration...

  25. #50
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    Eheh ^.^;; I really am a lazy bum, aren't I?

    That's okay and they're pretty good excuses, really, even though I was getting a little worried. Hope you had fun--France is on my list of 'places I wanna go when I have the money'.

    Well, I dunno if people do really get lost that easily--but in the middle of the woods, for someone who isn't woodsy, you'd think it would be pretty easy to get turned around, right? Tynan's sense of direction isn't nearly as bad, and he was about a day behind her too, so...

    As for little fox, Keegan should... eventually... get a grip on that reckless side of her. Just not for a long while some things have to happen before she starts realizing how irresponsible she's being.

    Hee, Koga = luff. 'Nuff said.

    In the original copy, Hazel did battle, but I figured it was odd for the battle to go so badly if the best-trained pokemon was battling. And I wanted to give Tarn and Firefoot some limelight, and they needed the training, so... *shrugs* although Keegan did try to get Hazel out once she realized she was in over her head, she just kept on getting interrupted...

    And yes, she keeps the butterfree although I find your thoughts on her interesting... actually, I started laughing my head off... because I know what's going to happen and that's all I'm going to say.

    The really ironic thing is, of all the chapters I've written so far, this is probably the chapter that changed the least, and if I recall, you weren't so fond of the chapters that were most like the original lol. Although the action and introspection was really beefed up, so maybe that made the difference... but in terms of what actually happened, it's pretty much exactly the same.

    Although now you've made me curious to know which words you're having trouble with... www.thefreedictionary.com is a good site to go to if it's really bad, it's where I always go whenever I come across a word I don't recognise while I'm reading :P

    Hee, and I don't mind you sounding like a fangirl I just have to remember to pop my swelling ego every now and then, before I float away...

    For anyone else who just happens to be reading this, there are spoilers ahead, and my copy and paste still doesn't work, so there's still no spoiler tags.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    1. Yes, Tynan will appear in Fuchsia. Next chapter.

    2. Perhaps.

    3. Keegan does get to Fuchsia, but we won't see her there before she leaves again, because of the way I've spearated the chapters.

    4. I suppose you'll just have to wait and see

    5. Keegan won't catch any pokemon anytime soon, no

    6. Koga might meet Keegan again, but if he does, it won't be in the next chapter. The readers, however, will see him several more times before the end of the story

    7. I think I dropped hints about this in HotM... not to mention the spoilers from the original copy :P yes, there are connections there, and it won't be long until they're explained.

    8. No comment, because like I said above, you don't have long to wait...

    9. Yes.

    10. Yes. I think I already answered something to this effect in a previous post...

    Now then... *signs an email ordering a large titanium shield* Just so I have some protection against any future Barrage Attacks

    Thanks for the review, even though it was late there's no statute of limitations on reviews, after all. So to speak.

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